Friday, December 28, 2012

Taking my best shot

Hi.  Long time, no write.  (Yeah, that's my entire segue...)

Anybody out there still angry about the massacre of first-graders in Connecticut?  Because I am.  I have left "shocked", "stunned", "devastated", "heart-broken" and "appalled" behind.  I'm pissed - and hoping to stay that way long enough to try doing something that will help to satisfy my conscience, if not actually prevent another tragedy.

Before I get too far along in my rant, I feel I should offer a disclaimer - in the interest of not wasting the reader's time.  In the next paragraph (or two), I'm going to start talking about how to try and prevent people from getting guns.  Not a speculation on whether or not that's the right way to prevent slaughters like the one that occurred in Newtown; not a discussion of what the Second Amendment means to me; not soul-searching on whether people, guns or bullets are most to blame for mass murder.  I'm way beyond that - so if you're not interested in some thoughts on how to get serious about restricting access to firearms, you should click the mouse and move on.  In any case, I wouldn't expect to change the minds of individuals who believe that they have a right to bear arms which must not be infringed.

But let me speculate boldly for a moment - that there are some who would agree that rational restrictions could be placed on the manufacture and sale of firearms.  That those restrictions need not prevent access to guns for persons who use them for sport or hunting.  That a person can protect him or herself without an automatic weapon.  Have these become radical ideas?  Listening to the political debate regarding gun control (fade up the chirping crickets), you would think so.  Now, why is that?

Oh, I remember - the National Rifle Association.  An organization with the money and influence to essentially prevent any real govenmental "interference" with weapons manufacture and sale.  An organization which (since 2005) has received 74% of its corporate donations from the firearms industry, totaling somewhere between $14.7 and $38.9 million (per the non-profit Violence Policy Center).

Why can't gun control organizations like the Brady Campaign compete?  Well, how many corporate sponsors do you think they have?  I know its shocking that the knife, axe and slingshot manufacturers haven't anted up in the hope that stricter gun laws might have the populace swarming to their life-threatening alternatives - but I think the situation speaks for itself.  There is clearly more cash to be generated in scaring people and manufacturing weapons, than there is in trying to convince people that they could do without automatic weaponry.

You're shocked - I can tell.  But maybe the question we should really be asking ourselves is this:  How can I help give gun control advocates the funding they need to compete with the NRA - and show my representatives in the Congress and Senate that the pro-gun lobby isn't the only side with political clout?

My answer:  Take the amount of money some people are spending on guns ($200-2000) and give it to an organization or politician that is dedicated to passing stricter gun laws.

To be most effective, that money should be channeled to a single gun control organization so they can go toe-to-toe with the NRA - and win.  But to move beyond anger and get something done, the people who want to see the sale of automatic weapons banned are going to need to spend some money - because you KNOW the people who want to buy those weapons are going to lay their money down.

Now I have to figure out who can make the most of my anti-gun dollars.  Once I do, you will be the first to know.

Take care.

Friday, March 9, 2012

0 for 2011

Just when you thought it was safe to open your Google Reader, I'm back.

It seems so wrong to me to have a blog and not write anything in it.  And yet I was able to do just that (i.e. nothing) for nearly two years.

I have missed writing, though it's not clear to me that I miss it enough to set aside time to do it consistently.  That's a concern for another day.  For right now, let's talk about what's happened since I last posted...

Part One:  January 1, 2011   (I wrote the section below two New Year's Days ago.  And I hate to waste anything.)

Having a few days off work allows me the time to think about things that I think are actually important, rather than the things I convince myself are important so that some one will direct deposit my paycheck every two weeks.  I know I can't speak for everyone (though that idea is clearly an appealing one - to me anyway, if not to all of you) but it seems that human beings need to break up existence into manageable bites in order to cope, to help make sense of and give order to things.  Why else would we approach December 31st and January 1st so differently?  Surely there isn't anything intrinsically different about these two days.  It's just that we have decided that one day is the end of something, the other the beginning of something new.

We construct the year like a container in which to place experiences, to measure our progress through life, perhaps to motivate ourselves toward a goal, or just to keep things neat and tidy in our own minds.  Having done this, I can look back and compare last year to the year before it (2010 was a definite improvement over 2009 which, using the contemporary vernacular, "sucked").  I also reflect on the milestones passed during 2010, some things I had done for the first time (appearing in a play with a leading role, having my daughter move out of the house) and other noteworthy endeavors like winning our annual golf tournament for a second time (I plan to win once every 20 years), being The Boss for a couple of months while my supervisor was recovering from heart surgery, and finishing the editing of some Wing Chun Do instructional videos.

Part Two:  2011 in Review

I think we'll just go to bullet points here.  If I don't, no one will ever get to the end of this post.
  • Our family celebrated my grandmother's 100th Birthday party at her home.  And three weeks later, she died.
  • UnmitigatedMe and I had lots of fun vacationing with our close friends, Leslie and Larry.
  • I hurt my back.
  • Our Music Night Federation celebrated it's 20th Anniversary in June and our 100th collection of songs in October.  [Have I never posted about Music Night?  Oh yes I have!]
  • And, most important of all, our daughter, Ms. Partly Cloudy, got married in November.  The two of us got a lot of positive feedback by doing our father/daughter dance to Ray Charles' Hallelujah I Love Her So.
Photographic evidence:

Part Three: The Present

2012 is shaping up to be another action-packed year.  I've already sold my car, created two T-shirt designs at Zazzle, saw all 9 Best Picture nominees, and will be embarking on vacation next week to see both the Gulf of Mexico (Captiva, FL) and "The Mouse" (Orlando, FL).

With any luck, I'll share some of that with you right here.  I'm gonna try to post once a week.  If I can't do that, I may as well close up this pop stand.  Hopefully, I can make it worth your while to stop by every now and again.  Leave a comment if you're still out there.

Take care.