Wrapping up 2012

I am never one to lament the completion of another year as I spend relatively little time looking backwards.  To be honest, much to the chagrin of my wife (who is quite the planner), I spend relatively little time looking forward either as I’m usually absorbed in the here and now.   I find there is enough to deal with in the present.  As with most of my years on this earth (and there have now been almost 60 of them), 2012 was a year with some good and some bad – and in some cases pretty horrid.  Luckily, my life and my sphere of influence fell mostly on the side of the good stuff.  I am happy with that but I am disheartened by all the not so good stuff I see around me – again feeling lucky that most all of it has chosen to remain outside of me and my family but never feeling so insulated and safe to not recognize that at any moment it could easily intrude.  That possibility is never that far away and with everything going on in this country at the moment, nothing is a certainty.

While most anyone else probably doesn’t care about the personal side of my life, this is really for me – by seeing it in writing it re-emphasizes the gift I have and how lucky I am to have the people around me who are my immediate family.  It ensures I never take it all for granted.

Let’s talk about the good first.

  • I remain happily married and in love – kind of corny on one hand but having the type of relationship I have with my wife after 32 years is one that happens far too little in our society – I am very fortunate.
  • All four of us in the immediate family are healthy.  Those of us over 55 are feeling our age but that’s it.  There is nothing life threatening we need to deal with and we can do most everything we want – and I am thankful for that.  My joints make much more noise than they ever have but I take this over most of the alternatives.
  • As a family we have remained pretty much unscathed by the economic travesties of the past couple of years.
  • My two kids continue success in their careers and jobs – and they have good jobs.  Not as a result of luck because they have both worked hard and have not waited for things to be handed to them.  And I am (we are) extremely proud to have raised these types of adults.
  • I can also see the fruits of the time and effort we put into parenting over oh so many years (and it never really stops – it just changes).  I believe my kids are contributing members of society.  Perfect with no faults – not at all – they were raised by imperfect but caring parents.  They are thoughtful, intelligent and caring of everything that is around them.  They are not myopic and self-centered which seems to be more the rule than the exception any more.

gunther1

On the personal “not so good” side, I actually can’t come up with too much that has happened this past year.  In fact there is only one thing that has been bad that I can really think of.  For anyone who has a family pet, you will understand.  For the rest of you, probably not.   If you look at the photos in my blog header and probably dispersed around other places, you will see a few of Gunther – our Jack Russell who has been a member of our family for the past 13 years.  I’ve had a good number of dogs over my time but there has been none that have been like him.  He is the embodiment of attitude and coolness.  This was a dog that was all id, in your face, spirited beyond belief but loveable and warm through it all.  His health issues began actually almost two years ago but it has been this past year we’ve watched him change the most.  Where he was a friend to any person who walked into our house, he now moves away from everyone other than a couple of us – even those he readily jumped on just a short time ago.  He is often confused and seems disoriented – his cataracts have gotten worse so it’s hard to tell if it is because he can’t see or if it is really the canine dementia the vet has diagnosed.   We are lucky (again) that we have the resources to make sure he gets the treatment and care that he needs.  Not sure if cataract surgery is in the future or if the medicine for the dementia will actually help him but I am hopeful.  I know I’m blessed that this has been the only real downer on my year but that doesn’t take away the pain of watching the changes taking place and knowing what is happening to him – hoping his discomfort is more evident to us than to him.

On a broader note, some of the most recent happenings in our country have been tough to watch and often harder to understand.  I don’t have answers to all the problems as I don’t believe there is any problem that has one or two causes and given the complexity of people and their varied ways of perceiving that around themselves, there will never be a “fix” that everyone sees the same way.  That being said, there is some common sense that might factor into what we do or at least how we approach some of our issues of the day.  Nothing magic or deep on my part or even maybe helpful but given this blog was a way to dump that which is in my head, so be it.

Guns and killing in America  – Good topic top of mind – and one that could use some common sense applied.

  • Let’s start with the premise that I don’t think that anyone really wants to take everyone’s gun away from them.  I could give two hoots about what animals you want to kill – I don’t do it, I don’t really understand it.  I have had guns and I’ve hunted – first time out deer hunting I quickly realized I couldn’t ever shoot a deer – and luckily one never showed up.  I hear the talk of personal freedom, 2nd amendment, it’s an equalizer, etc. etc.  I look around and see the evidence that guns breed more violence and death.  There is no other civilized country with the number of guns we have in the US and there is no other country with a murder rate that comes close to ours.  Not sure that adding more guns to the mix will improve the situation if we are really focused on reducing gun violence.  Banning assault weapons and mega-clips seems to be a logical step forward.  Yes, it won’t get rid of the guns and clips already out there.  But if logic were to prevail, if we are not making more assault weapons then there won’t be more people with them.  Does it fix the problem and make sure that no-one will again use an assault rifle or use a mega-clip to kill a bunch of people?  Not at all but if it keeps someone who doesn’t have one now from getting one and creating another Newtown incident then maybe it makes sense.
  • Armed guards in our schools – unfortunately, the state of our society has already resulted in some surprisingly high number of schools where there are already armed guards protecting something.  I would surmise it might not be a result of protecting against terrorist or crazy person attacks but more for internal school problems but that is neither here nor there.  As has been heavily discussed, Columbine had armed guards.  Will it possibly stop another Newtown?  It might and if I follow the logic I see on an assault weapon ban, if having an armed guard saves lives in one instance, maybe it makes sense.  That being said, having the likes of a Wayne La Pierre walking the halls to protect our children sends chills down my spine.  While I have no doubt there are NRA members with the right skills – both gun and people – to maybe pull it off, sorry, if armed guards is the answer, then we need to talk about some real special people.  The last thing we need is an internal disaster resulting from this “fix”.  Arming school administrators and teachers – sorry – that is another disaster waiting to happen.   Pretty sad this is even a topic we need to discuss.
  • Violence in the movies and in video games – nice, easy target but if we again use common sense, the US isn’t the only country with violent movies and video games.  Take a look at Japan – not without violent movies and definitely not without violent video games – take a look at their murder rate.  Is the amount of violence a problem?  I think there is something wrong here but focusing on this area isn’t going to get the desired results.
  • Taking religion out of schools – Mike Huckabee, a man who never saw a barbecue he didn’t like, was quick to jump to this one.  Not much to say other than “what an asshole”.
Dora has more to her than I would have thought!

Dora has more to her than I would have thought!

 

End of the day, as President Obama has said, because the problem is too complex isn’t a reason not to do something.  If we can save one life, it is a start and an action worth taking.

Looking ahead I expect there is much more to rant about and I expect 2013 will offer plenty of fodder to continue my blog.  Speaking of fodder, how about that Congress?

 

At least there is one thing on which we can all agree!

At least there is one thing on which we can all agree!

Happy New Year to all.    Here’s to a great 2013 for everyone.  A little peace and prosperity for all.

th

NRA – What is your rationale this time around?

heston_NRA2

Here it is again.  This time in Connecticut – 26 people, 20 of them young children killed by some idiot who was only powerful because he had a gun.  A gun that can kill another person without thought and without consequence.  Just days ago, in Oregon, another killer who chose to walk into a mall and just take out two people he didn’t know.  Again a gun – this time one he apparently stole but again, an individual who was nothing without the feel of cold steel and mayhem in his hands.

We will again hear the rhetoric and the utter bullshit from the NRA and those staunch believers that it isn’t the gun that kills – it is the person.  Tell that to the parents of one of the 1st graders who will not wake up on Christmas morning in a little over a week.  Tell that to the spouse of one of the people killed in the mall in Oregon who now gets to face raising a family as a single head of household.  Let’s here about the fact that the individual who kills with a gun has something wrong with them and they would kill even without a gun.  Nice try – I would submit that without a gun available to the cretin who killed children today in Newtown would not have 27 notches on his belt.

Lest we forget, this is just one more tragedy in a year that has seen this happen more than I think I’ve ever seen it happen before.  A quick look back thru the postings I’ve made this year shows me that this is the 3rd or 4th time I’ve commented on this same sort of tragedy.  Different day, different place, different number of deaths but at the end of it, people dead because someone had a gun.

Is this time for a debate about gun control?  Not really – it is time to actually think and understand what is really important today in society.  It is time to move beyond politics.  Maybe it is time to think about protecting the rights and lives of the masses rather than focusing so much on the rights of the individual.  Of course you diehard NRA dimwits won’t see it.  While I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, I’d like to have the conversation with you right after you got the call it was your child, your spouse, your grandchild – someone very important to you was one of the victims.  Maybe your cold and selfish heart would open a wee bit and maybe you would look beyond your own need for once.  And maybe I would tell you I told you so.

In the meantime, the rest of you who maintain your total anti-gun control stance – take a moment and think about those 25 or so families whose lives will never be the same again because of the power of your lobby.  Way to go….

Add one more notch to the belt of NRA

Headlines : Police constable, civilian killed as gunman opens fire near Texas A&M (today), Sikh Temple massacre, Aurora Colorado Movie Theater shootings, a massacre at a Seattle Cafe killing six, Seven dead in Oikos University shooting – these have all occurred since April this year.  With the possible exception of today’s murder, all the weapons have been legally purchased.  While the NRA and vocal gun nuts out there will continue to spew their usual crap around like “guns don’t kill people…” and continue to inaccurately cite the 2nd amendment, we continue to see blameless citizens killed and injured all around us.  To many, these numbers are not large and in the scheme of real numbers of those killed vs. the total population, they are not (aren’t statistics great!) however, I would challenge these people against any changes in gun control laws to show me another country, civilized (and I wonder about us at times) or not, that anywhere approaches a similar number of massacres and killings that we are seeing in increasing numbers.  For me, it isn’t about pure numbers – I don’t need to see a certain threshold to see we have a problem here.  But then again, I like to think I am reasonably intelligent and can see the forest thru the trees.

Do we think his fingers are still wrapped around that gun?

I don’t expect any NRA member or current anti-gun control person to care but I did find some interesting data that speaks to the growing issue we all face with people (anyone basically) having relatively easy access to weapons.  I’m still wondering the need to have assault rifles and high-capacity clip handguns within easy reach but that is just me.  Mother Jones, a nonprofit news organization that specializes in investigative, political, and social justice reporting (non-political despite yelling to the contrary), has pulled together some interesting information and statistics tracing the history of mass shootings in the US over the past 30 years.

Suggest you actually read the article (http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/07/mass-shootings-map) but thought I would give a view into some of the more interesting data I found in the article.  Point of consideration when you look at the data, all the shootings that made the “list” happened during a single incident and in a public place and resulted in at least 4 people being killed (not including the shooter if we were so lucky to have him immediately out of society).

All following content credit to Mother Jones.

 

Credit: Sodahead.com

Mitt – what the hell?

Just don’t expect an answer with any detail…

The following two paragraphs from NBCNews.com –

Mitt Romney said Wednesday that more restrictive gun laws would likely not have prevented last week’s deadly mass shooting at a Colorado Cineplex, and argued that it would take Americans changing their hearts, not their legislation, to prevent similar future attacks.

“Political implications, legal implications are something which will be sorted out down the road,” Romney told NBC’s Brian Williams during an exclusive interview in London. “But I don’t happen to believe that America needs new gun laws. A lot of what this young man did was clearly against the law. But the fact that it was against the law did not prevent it from happening.”

Once again, Mitt shows his acute grasp of the details (not), his uncanny ability to hone in on what the real issue is (not) all the while basically sticking to his high level talking points.   Yes Mitt, it is illegal to murder so you are right there were actions this cretin did that were against the law.  No brainer.  However, the crux of the issue here is the means by which he accomplished the illegal acts were all done legally,  He bought his guns legally, he purchased the ammunition legally, I expect he acquired most of the items in his apartment legally.  Would stricter gun laws have stopped him from killing?  Probably not, as you are right at some level that laws don’t stop people from taking actions that are clearly illegal.  If it were only so easy.  However, there are changes to current gun laws that could have reduced the magnitude of the massacre or at least alerted someone to something being out of sorts and possibly resulted in a bit more attention before the fact.  Not sure why anyone needs an assault weapon – the cases of a herd of deer attacking a hunter are few if any.  Purchasing four weapons in a relative short period of time might call into question motive.  Acquiring 6000 round of ammunition might point to something beyond casual use of a gun.  No matter what we do to laws in this country, we will not free ourselves from individuals who are bent on mayhem and murder but we shouldn’t make it so easy.

Let’s take two aspects of Mitt’s statements and look at them with a sharper eye –

First, taking a stance that we can work on the legal implications somewhere down the road is, to an extent, why we are where we are today with gun laws.  If we are to interpret this part of his statement to include the possibility of tightening gun laws at some later time, we are now decades into the debate which really hasn’t changed to any great extent.  Very effective strategy – kick it down the road so there are no political ramifications today.  Mitt needs all the help he can get and alienating the gun lobby won’t help.

“It would take Americans changing their hearts” – sounds like a plan but in reality the hearts of Americans have actually been looking for stricter gun laws for years.  Back in 1990, almost 4 out of 5 Americans wanted stricter gun laws.  Sounds to me like the hearts were there a while ago.  Unfortunately, this is one more case where the hearts and money of lobbyists trump what the American people really want.  And that is unlikely to change in any time soon as money still buys influence – not the desires of the people in this country.  The vast majority will continue to work under the illusion that people like Mitt actually are working in their best interest all the while the Republican Party is shitting all over their tables and telling then it is a feast.

So essentially, Mitt has said “fuck you” in so many words and continues his journey of talking without really saying anything that will stick.

Sounds like a leader to me.

Speaking of Lobbyists – interesting article posted by the Huffington Post today – seems Mitt understands that role much better than most of us realize –

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/26/mitt-romney-olympics_n_1704261.html?utm_hp_ref=elections-2012