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 Abby's new band, They Might Look Like Giants.

I have the whole first 18 lines of the Canterbury Tales memorized in the original Middle English. Haven’t been able to forget it since high school. I can only imagine what more useful information it’s crowding out of my head.

And I have no idea if Abby’s professor has the correct interpretation of the line she quoted about the birds– that’s just the explanation my own teacher gave when I was studying the Canterbury Tales. If it’s true, it makes me very sad for medieval humans.

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 wanting a boy or a girl is inherently expressive of gender stereotypes

Putting a frilly dress on a boy who doesn’t want it is no more cruel than putting a frilly dress on a girl who doesn’t want it. But I agree she shouldn’t have children.

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Adding this note on December 18th, even though it’s unrelated to this strip of the comic:

Since everyone else has expressed some opinion about school shootings and what can be done to stop them, I guess it’s my turn.

Yes, guns are an issue here. Yes, mental health is also an issue here. Yes, the mental health care system needs improvement.

However, I can’t see any way the mental health care system could be improved and successfully prevent this sort of thing.

Yes, there are a lot of people who have mental health problems that cause violence. In fact, arguably anyone who commits violence on this sort of scale must have a mental health problem.

But there is not currently a cure for these problems. There are medications and counseling that can help, but they don’t help in all cases. And they can’t help unless the patient is willing to take the medications, or to listen to the counseling.

If a family member is mentally ill and you’re afraid he might do something like this, what can you do? What if he refuses to accept psychiatric help? You could force it on him… but only if you can prove that he’s dangerous. And usually by the time you can prove he’s dangerous, it’s already too late.

But what’s the alternative?

I’m very, very afraid of changing the laws to make it easier to institutionalize mentally ill people. I don’t want a return to the Victorian era where people could be locked up in a madhouse for even the smallest deviations from the cultural norm.

There have been lots and lots of school shooters. Prior to their crimes they have showed many different sorts of strange behaviors. If every person who showed any of those behaviors got locked up or forced to undergo psychiatric treatment, our society wouldn’t even be able to afford all the medical costs.

If you don’t care about the violation of personal freedoms, look at it from this angle: Who wants to PAY for psychiatric treatment for every loner in America?

So… I don’t think any change to the mental health care system could prevent school shootings. But gun control can.

And no, I DON’T mean all guns. I’m not talking about taking away people’s hunting weapons or self-defense weapons. I’m talking about controlling the kind of guns that kill 20 people in a matter of minutes.

You don’t need those for self-defense or hunting. Their only purpose is mass murder. You don’t need one unless you are in the military, or maybe the police force. You shouldn’t be able to walk into any gun store and get one.

Yes, there have been school shootings since the 18th century. But back when people only had access to six-shooters and hunting rifles, there were no school shootings ON THIS SCALE.

We can’t stop violence completely. But we can reduce the number of people killed. If a gunman manages to kill three people before the police stop him, that’s bad, but it’s better than killing twenty.

Yes, even with strengthened gun control, some people will still manage to get assault weapons illegally. But if it’s not as easy to get them, there will not be AS MANY crimes like this.

Don’t confuse the issues.

Don’t ignore the gun issue just because the mental health issue is also there. Yes, it was a person’s bad choice that caused this crime. But it couldn’t have gotten THIS BAD without the gun.

Don’t get “regulation of assault weapons” confused with “banning all guns.”

And don’t give up trying just because there’s no way to stop it completely. We can’t do anything 100%. We can increase the good and reduce the bad, and that’s all we can do.

Okay, I’ve said my say.

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Janeway would've been a better captain if she'd been bald

Abby’s being pretty silly. Human head hair is perfectly useful. I get a sunburned neck if my hair’s too short, and I can only imagine how much it would hurt to have something fall and hit you on a bald head.

Don’t see the use of armpit and groin hair, though– it’s kind of backwards, because those are usually the places where other mammals have LESS hair.

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looking forward so much to the day when every character flaw has a medical name and doctor-recommended treatment

I would totally accept psychiatric help to treat laziness. I’ve read that you can build willpower by doing some little exercise every day– it can be anything that’s mildly inconvenient, like brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand. But sometimes I lack the motivation to do even that… if a doctor was making me keep a chart of it, though, I’m sure I could.

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