Monday, December 24, 2012

THREE DAY DUST GIVEAWAY


Download DUST 2nd EDITION e-book FREE at AMAZON, Christmas Day through Thursday, 12/27 midnight PST.


No reader?  No problem.  Download the Kindle reading application for your computer, tablet, smartphone, and other devices by clicking HERE.  

Thanks for reading and Happy Holidays!

~T

Friday, December 21, 2012

An Assault on Intelligence



By now you’ve weathered the global wire’s blast furnace regarding the shooting that took place last week at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.  The news media have covered it relentlessly, it has been the forefront topic of table conversation everywhere you dined, and it’s likely you can’t open any of your social network interfaces (or is it interfeces?!) without someone’s soapboxed opinion repeated ad nauseum via one of those passé clipart memes.  Suffice to say I’m still shocked, troubled, angry, sad, and a host of other emotions that we all likely share.  I am also something else—curious.

The media would have you believe school shootings are a new phenomena, or at least, something that has escalated in the past dozen or so years.  By appearances alone this is somewhat truthful.  In fact, school shootings and other acts of terrorism by mentally compromised gunmen have been ongoing since guns became readily available.  Just as those victims in the 2011 Norway attacks, Virginia Tech Massacre in 2007, Columbine, and going back further to the 1966 University of Texas tower sniper, met their fate, so did others much longer ago.  Researching these cases, just about every firearm category was utilized, some more effectively than others.  Clearly, however, if someone wants to cause harm, there is no shortage of ways to do so.  Easily one could conclude that banning one of the more efficient types (assault rifles) would greatly reduce body counts.  I’m not so sure.

“If guns are outlawed…”

Hand’s up—who has a friend on Facebook or Twitter who is right now preaching woe if assault rifles are banned?  I have several.  Good people too, and I fully appreciate their passion and enthusiasm in defense of…defense.  Yet, some of them may be slightly too feverish in their solutions, or so it would seem.

“Put four fully armed marines in every school.”
“We armed the pilots; arm the teachers!”
“Arm everybody!”
“Forks made me fat!”

…and the other side screams:

“Ban all guns!”
“Weapons of war have no place in the home.”
“Look at Europe’s gun death rate!”
“Do something!  Do anything!”

Such extremes.  Yet, some teachers are already armed in some Texas schools.  Texas!  Does that surprise anyone?  Maybe they’re on to something, but let’s hop into Baumgartner's handy helium balloon and ascend to the 128,000ft view.  Are we paying way too much attention to violent death and its media sensationalism in the first place?  I mean, let’s have a frank and honest perspective here:  We’re talking about 26 people that were senselessly killed by a senseless maniac.  Okay, now add all those other “notable shootings” listed above and you might achieve a toll of 100.  Around 100 fatalities and countless thousands are maimed on a daily basis driving on America’s roads.  A large percentage of those are done in by maniacs of the drunk persuasion.  How about preventable medical errors?  Now we’re talking about hundreds of thousands each year.  Pharmageddon has been around for quite some time, yet no public outcry, no visits from the President, no round-the-clock journalism, and not even a faint yawn or byline in the local obituaries.  Well, that’s another gripe entirely, so let’s get back to guns…because guns are a cool topic.  Yeah – guns!  (because I don’t see a ban on cars coming anytime soon, or doctors for that matter)

It’s every law-abiding American’s right by the Second Amendment to keep and bear arms.  Now what did our founding fathers mean by “arms” exactly?  Oh, well, let’s not lift Pandora’s box lid, shall we?  Instead let’s limit the discussion to the commonly defined (hear the angels hark) “assault rifle”.  What is that, exactly?

Hold it!

Evidently, there is some ambiguity with the term “assault weapon” that many news organizations regularly interchange with “assault rifle”.  While assault rifles are military-looking weapons, they are not necessarily military-grade firearms until they fire military-grade ammunition.  For the sake of saving another essay on that topic, let’s classify assault rifles as those typically designed for military use, and not for hunting or classic home defense.  M-16, AK-47, and MP5, for example, are classic assault rifles used by the world’s military and law enforcement.  Make them semi-automatic (fires one round per trigger actuation) with lower-grade ammo, and you have a devastating weapon legal for civilian purchase.  The real question is, are these weapons truly necessary or practical for personal defense or hunting.

Let’s be honest here; who goes hunting with an assault rifle?  My father is an avid outdoorsman, with countless writing credits in shooting sports.  His hands have been wrapped around an untold variety of firearms for nearly seven decades.  I’ve listened intently at another incalculable number of hunting anecdotes, and never once was an assault rifle mentioned in the same paragraph with hunting.  Yet, I have no doubt that someone somewhere is hunting with an AR-15 just to make a point.  But is it practical?  I’d enjoy some debate on this topic.  I think it would be rather entertaining!

My take is this:  For hunting in general, the traditional tools do the job much more effectively than those meant for the battleground.  If you need a 30-round clip to bring down your trophy buck, you’re doing it wrong.  I don’t think a Barrett M107 .50cal sniper rifle is the best choice for ducks either, although one might enjoy the entertainment in the process.  Oh, that’s a visual to cleanse!  What about defending the home?  Granted, some assault weapons..er..rifles would be quite punitive for an intruder, or a dozen of them for that matter.  But tell me, just how accessible is your presumably loaded assault rifle from any point in the house?  Hopefully you’ll have the time to grab it and aim in tight quarters.  Doesn’t a handgun make more sense?  What about nifty 12 gauge shotgun with a short barrel?  Yes, tell me what you think works best in every situation, including those if you’re running about in public.       

“T, you’re missing the point.  This is about our freedom.”

Freedom, yes.  Freedom to own, freedom of choice, and the pursuit to maintain freedom.  Why do we—American civilians, that is—feel like we need weapons of war in our possession in the first place?  Some of you will automatically spew coffee at that question.  “Don’t forget how this country came to existence!”  Ah, militia.  The answer, or rather, deterrent to a totalitarian government.  We must be armed—well armed—to prevent a corrupt regime from using the military against its citizens.  Likewise, should our military fail in war, would-be invaders must know the hell that awaits—every citizen with a gun pointed at you, including our children.  Sorry, no.  This is utter fantasy.

Reality Check: We’re not living in the times of the musket or Minié ball.  There is so much disparity between consumer firearms and military hardware today, any civilian resistance in a total war scenario equals a speedy extermination.  If their conventional weaponry wasn’t enough, the government has chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons at its disposal.  Yeah, good luck with your badass rifle, kid.  Red Dawn won’t play like the movie.  Your only realistic chance is diplomacy, and, if I may paraphrase an old golf adage, “Wars must first be fought in the mind.”   
  
Society’s to blame!

That sounds very much like a line in an old Monty Python skit, only I’m not laughing.  President Obama has a new mission, you know.  Although he hasn’t quite delineated his exact plan, the word on the street says he’s pushing a new ban on assault weapons…er…rifles.  Or was it weapons?  We may never know, actually, since we’re all dead according to some Myan calendar sots—or perhaps it’s that Joe Biden has been assigned to front Obama’s gun control policy.  Yep, society failed those poor kids at Sandy Hook.  It’s our fault and we could have done something about it.  Maybe.  Never mind the lunatic who actually pulled the trigger repeatedly.

Okay, I admit it; I admire Ronald Reagan’s ability to put things in perspective.

“We must reject the idea that every time a law's broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker.  It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.”

Accountable, yes.  Accounted?  That’s debatable.  Blame the guns first, then another extroverted reason; medications, substance abuse, psychological condition, etc.  Whatever; just don’t blame the actual killer.  It’s not their fault!

Sarcasm aside, obviously the reason for anyone embarking on a shooting rampage is much more complex than any one factor.  60 Minutes mentioned a “path to violence” this past Sunday in a piece on Sandy Hook.  They referenced that same phrase on a show that aired January 16, 2011 discussing commonalities with 83 actual and would-be assassins.  It’s never one factor alone.  Firearms are but one facet of a complex explanation.  For politicians however, gun legislation offers the best bang for the public appeasement buck, and contains the least path of resistance.  That is, compared to the other elephants in the room.

“Why no discussion on family values?”

I overheard that question this past weekend.  The person exasperated at the knee-jerk demand for new assault rifle bans.  And, there is an ocean of truth in that question, but the answer is simple.  Per above, it’s political quicksand.  Think of it as attempting to instruct another parent on how best they should raise their children.  Again, fantasyland.

Medication issues?  Maybe.  Tough lobby to crack.  Substance abuse?  Rare.  What about early detection and constant vigilance?  Please, let’s not highlight the obvious!  What about exposure to violence at an improper age?  Are we creating murderers from our youth via violent video games and graphic television?  Is this part of the “path to violence?”  Wait.  Before I get thrown into any group, I don’t believe for one moment that violent games compel little Timmy to pilfer his father’s gun cabinet and massacre an entire church.  I do, however, believe that graphically violent games desensitize players somewhat.  Look, a dead body!  Big deal, I create those by the hundreds every five minutes, and mine are much more gruesome.  Yours smells though.  Points for that.

ENDGAME

Getting back to the heart of this discussion, with regard to assault rifle ownership, how do you see their future?

Realistically, Congress will seek pacifying legislation for gun control, and if that bill is reasonable, it will pass.  “Reasonable”, to me, means no outright ban on assault weapons/rifles, but loophole closures, tougher ownership barriers, including increased regulation and taxation, and the creation of a special research task force on prevention.  The politicians get their win, and so do the majority of assault rifle enthusiasts who won’t lose their weapons.

Will that prevent another shooting spree?  Of course not.  It only has to prevent one.  The others must be prevented by culture migration.  That job, in my opinion, must begin with conscious, responsible journalism.

“..first won in the mind."    

~T

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

"All Warfare is Based on Deception" ~Sun Tzu



The best I can figure, we entered the Misinformation Age roughly eighteen years ago.

Shortly after the internet TCP/IP went global around 1990, and given a few short years for BBS mail services and basic website pages to emerge—particularly those in the sphere of finance—multitudes of boutique public relation (PR) firms sprouted like pimples on a teenager with a refrigerator full of Mountain Dew and mayonnaise.  To this day, those firms and many like them have evolved and devolved into the ethically-challenged (to be extremely polite) communities of competitive shilling.

Anyone remember the dot-com boom of the late 1990s?  Sure, a healthy portion of that growth is attributed to legitimate gains for worthy companies:  ISPs and infrastructure, Amazon, and countless brick-and-mortar corporations exploring the new electric avenue (there’s your soundtrack for this post!).  A vast number of other companies were nothing more than vapor created from a company legal filing, a strip center mailbox with a cutely deceptive “suite” before its number, and a slick website to make it all corroborate.  All it lacked were a few people telling you how great it was, and you were sold.  Those people, as it turns out, were fake.

Let’s not kid ourselves; shills are nothing new.  Manufactured reviews and endorsements have been around for centuries.  Book reviews, magazines, music (payola!), military hardware, government contracts, etc.  The depressing news that the maxim remains—money talks.  Only now, money talks, types, texts, and shoots video. 

There is a lengthy ulterior narrative concerning shills.  I’ve considered a novel based on one but that’s way down the road.  They come in all varieties and now infiltrate all internet aspects where opinion matters.  Shills may be hired to pump the latest designer shoe, post “their” pictures of a cool concert they attended, craft lengthy anecdotal reviews about their family and the restaurant they love, or scathing exclamation marks queued by the dozen to abuse a competitor’s establishment.  "CAVEAT EMPTOR!!!"  They are tools (and I mean this literally and figuratively) by which modern companies with challenges, in ethics and as going concerns, utilize for a competitive edge.  They may also be utilized simply for dumping, as in the hundreds if not thousands of cases that elude the Security and Exchange Commission’s porous investigative divisions.  Oh, to lament the scam-ridden OTC Bulletin Board.  Raging Bull, anyone?  Shills populated that forum by the hundreds.  And since the dot-com bubble burst in 2000, they’ve gravitated to other work.

Facebook Likes by the Thousand…

Just a few years ago, the popularity contest that is Facebook emerged as the next great movement in marketing buzz.  Shills now replicate themselves in the thousands ready for your façade!  Look at this: 


Not only can you boost your perceived popularity, you can get people talking about you too.

So what’s the net effect here?  A fallacy.  For all the information wealth brought by the internet, it has also brought a dilemma.  On the whole, it cannot be trusted.

Sure, there are quite a few sites that have endeavored to be accurate, mainly because their livelihood depends on it.  Reference.com, Snopes, the various news outlets: CNN, FOX, BBC, etc.  (I didn’t say anything about bias!).  And, ironically, I posted a couple links from Wikipedia—a tremendous reservoir that has struggled with reliability for years, only now gaining accolades for accuracy.  It took a lot of work on its part.  A well-intentioned society prevailed.  But what about the companies with alleged questionable motives or impossible filtering?

ABC News ran a story on one such website Monday.  Interestingly, the story concerns a review site, in this case, Yelp, and their efforts to expose companies that pay for positive reviews.  Likewise, they also attempt to filter fraudulent negative reviews if they suspect they’re not real or worse, posted by a failing and/or jealous competitor.

Now for The Rub…

So happens, I’ve posted dozens of reviews on Yelp, Trip Advisor, and other sites over the years, all in an effort to share knowledge.  Before the onslaught of fake reviews, I found many outstanding products and services as well as avoiding the garbage.  Now, sad to say, this has come to an end.  It would seem that, in their efforts to clean up, my reviews have become a casualty.  You see, I posted under an alias, with the intention of remaining anonymous.  Many of my reviews raved the worthy.  Many others, however, were not so ingratiating.  If a restaurant or what have you warrants a second chance, I’ll often give it.  But why invite the snot topper?  Anonymity has its place too.

Yelp and many of these other sites encourage linking with your social network’s profile.  I get it; real person, real review.  But rewind to the Facebook likes bit.  We come to the unfortunate logical conclusion that there simply may not be a clear solution to real, verifiable reviews whether from a real person who doesn’t mind giving their name, photograph, thoughts on the weather, etc.—and someone who does.  The internet has, for all practical reasons in the regards of consumer reviews, muted itself, and I'm wildly curious as to the final solution.  History has provided no clues, only indications that deviance is an incurable part of society. 

Welcome to the ‘80s.  Know a good place to eat?  Call me.

Monday, November 19, 2012

From the Cornucopia, Another Thank You

Once again, I'm giving away FREE Kindle eBOOKS!  Visit AMAZON this Thanksgiving Day and download DUST 2ND EDITION free of charge. 


Thanks for reading and have a terrific holiday weekend!

~T

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Monday, October 15, 2012

Defining Life



Still friendly...maybe not so much nonsense on this one...

Wasn’t it interesting to see two men in a heated debate in which nothing seemingly was agreeable, agree on a definition of when human life begins?  Yet, both managed to polarize the issue.  One by mandating his definition as law upon the masses, the other proclaiming freedom of action without government intervention.  Well, to a point.

That’s right, I’m talking about the forever litmus test that is abortion, and I am referring to the Vice Presidential candidates’ debate held last week in Kentucky.  Both men, of Catholic faith, agreed that life begins at conception.  Now, I won’t go on some epic ink spill explaining this; one can wiki themselves senseless on the subject.  Needless to say, there are galactic-sized differences of opinion from as many sides that rouse Carl Sagan’s voice to describe.  I don’t exactly wish to announce that I’ve academically researched the issue; that would appear rather macabre.  It may be close to Halloween, but…
I am somewhat of the curious sort, and had a look around the world for commonality.  And, surprisingly, I found it.

In all of the opinions, from various legal systems, religions, special interest groups, medical communities, and so forth, they all gave lengthy exposés attempting to define their position.  “Life begins at conception”, “life begins once the genetic code is complete”, or, to get graphically technical, “when the head of the fetus breaks the vaginal wall threshold and…”.  Well, hopefully you aren’t reading this while trying to eat your lunch.  None of these opinions, however, explained their reasoning utilizing the other side of the coin—death.

Death is so much easier to define, and it’s pretty much universally agreed when someone dies.  Brain inactive?  Dead.  No pulse?  Dead…or very soon dead.  Not breathing?  Dead.  So, why not define life as a comparison to death?  Seems logical to me.

Let’s see how that works if we use the above examples that attempt to define life.  “Once the genetic code is complete.”  Well, your genetic code survives long after you’re dead, but that means you’re not alive.  “Once past the vaginal wall…”  Okay.  I suppose the antithesis event would be actual burial or a trip through the local crematorium?  You’re dead before that happens.  At least, usually dead.  And what about conception?  That’s a good one because it’s subjective.

Life beginning at conception works for so many because it’s the beginning of a process.  The prospective entity begins the minds of the conceivers as a hope, or perhaps a dream, or simply a goal.  For them, that life began as part of a master plan and subsequent execution of an action.  But what about those careless folks who made the grand mistake?  They began the process unintentionally.  It’s the same process, but the goal was completely different.  Life did not begin because the conceivers gave it no consideration.  This is a rather complicated subject to express, but I will attempt the most laconic explanation possible.

For those wishing to produce a child, life began with the consummation of their plan.

The memory started precisely at that point.  As well in death, no one is truly dead until they are forgotten.  And yet, they are very much dead, clinically.  I don’t see how the proponents of the conception concept can have it both ways.  If “life” begins at the point of conception, death, in their eyes, only happens once the memory is consigned to oblivion.  Or, is everyone confusing “life” with “alive”?  I don’t think the conception camp believes both conditions must exist to support their opinion, so how do we arrive at an acceptable legal solution?  

I suppose that’s what makes this subject such an enduring sphinx.  For those that think of life in the adjective term, it begins with the mere thought of it.  For those that think in terms of clinical existence—the noun—life begins when one is physically alive.  And to me, someone is alive when they aren’t completely dead.  (Yes, I hear Billy Crystal’s voice too)

Okay, so maybe “life” is easy to determine for the at-conception demographic.  The next hurdle is the definition for the clinical types.  Is it:  The moment chemicals exchange?  The moment of birth?  The first heartbeat?  The completed genetic code?  Head past the threshold?  Honestly, is it really that complicated?  Take the concepts away and you get back to the alive-if-not-dead determinant.  You are not alive just after your parents had sex.  You are not alive for a few weeks after.  With a certain degree of fortune, you are most certainly alive after birth.  Are you alive before birth, however?  Theoretically, and in millions of cases, you are alive in your mother’s womb and could possibly survive after premature extraction.  (We won’t get into those reasons).  Clinically, the real question is, at what point are you on your own as a live person?  To me, that’s the point you pump your own blood—that first heartbeat.  You are no longer a tiny malignant or benign mass; you are a functioning being in your mother’s care.

Now, don’t go off thinking that I’ve made some sort of stance on the act of abortion, I haven’t yet.

The vast majority, including the majority of pro-lifer’s, agree that the abortion is warranted in cases of rape, incest, and in cases where the mother’s life is at risk.  By “life” in this context, I mean the noun version.  Incest, well, for the sake of debate I suppose they mean "unwanted" or otherwise "statutorily violating" incest.  I believe those still constitute rape since, technically, some incest is legal in certain states (Eww, New Jersey!).  Dear, dear…now Google’s got an entry on me looking that up.  Nice.  Well, at least there is a consensus for extreme circumstances.  It’s the consensual mistakes that are the problem.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is where personal philosophy enters the stage.  The bottom line is that there are two bottom lines.  The first entails your belief on when life begins.  The second is when you believe government should intervene, if at all.  This part also covers parental disclosure, consent, and involvement—another social imbroglio.   

Me?  I believe the first part will remain the societal Dichotomous Rex, but I get back to that tiny heartbeat. Regarding the second on government intervention, last I heard, this was a free country.  Sadly, I hear that phrase a lot less.  Seems to me our little angels, including all their problems, are ours until the age of 18.  Some Uncle Sam’s all right with me.  Keep the Nanny Samantha, okay?

Think I’ll have a 17oz soda now…


Break for Work

The training workouts on the run-up to begin writing a certain sequel is in full swing.  What’s this?  I’ve found it a good idea to read a small book stack, write a few short pieces, and read another stack before any real writing begins.  Ideas float, pinpoint diligence occurs, outline bullets shot and so forth.  This author will be taking an extended break from this blog to concentrate on those efforts—elasticize the mind.  I may run another piece around the holidays if some random thought occurs with enough juice to warrant the eenk.  (May I invent a word for electronic ink?).  Please check Facebook for updates and assorted minutia.


A Scary Promo!

Remember those free DUST e-book giveaways?  Since they were wildly successful, I am running another.  Get your FREE copy of DUST for Amazon’s Kindle all day HALLOWEEN (10/31/12).



Tuesday, September 4, 2012

DUST eBook on Kindle

Another BIG THANKS to those of you that took advantage of the FREE DUST Kindle promo weekend.  Amazon Prime members may continue borrowing it free.  Enjoy!


Now to get some writing done...

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Invisible Guns


Oh dear.  Politics.  Run away!  Run away!

Actually, this post isn’t so much about politics as it is simple government philosophy.  Game or Gamey?
I should poll you, actually.  I don’t often dive into the sordid world of hopelessly dichotic beliefs, but recent events have me lathered.  Before anyone asks me about Chick-fil-A, it’s a free country.  I don’t eat there because the food lacks enough distinction to warrant an average 30% price premium.  If you patronize them because you like the food or believe your money is going to a worthy organization, you are exercising your First Amendment rights.  Good for you!  I beg you though; don’t forget why you have that right in the first place.

Humanity’s polarizers are diligently wrecking any notions of moderate thinking lately.

Okay, wait.  That was a stupid sentence.  They’ve been at it since the beginning of time, but they’ve been doing it on an accelerated pace these days, and without any discretion.  Haven’t you noticed?  American media outlets such as CNN and FOX (I lovingly nickname them Certainly Not News and For Only Xenophobes) regularly joust opposing ideology upon their quasi-objective high-horses.  Pick a side, there is no middle.  That’s what they prefer, anyway.  The pragmatic middle isn’t good TV.  It also doesn’t go hand-in-hand with a two-party political system.  Yes, I know there are other parties and independent candidates, but until any of them wins the highest seat—that chair being in the Oval Office—perception reigns.

Make no mistake, both the Dems and Pubs have spooky agendas behind their good-willed façades.  Obviously, Barak Obama’s efforts create a larger government with increasing oversight and intrusion.  Their old paradigm of throwing money at our problems apparently still applies.  One commonly overlooked reinforcement, however, is a basic lesson from Macroeconomics 101.  Indeed, government spending is recession preventative maintenance.  Ain’t Hoover Dam nice?  Someone just forgot to tell the current president that we actually don’t have unlimited national wealth.  Umm, Mr. President, who’s going to pay it all back and when?  Us, and later.  Always later, if at all.  Why aren’t congressmen jailed with Bernie Madoff?  Ponzis are okay when it’s the government, right? 

Just as frightening is the prospect of returning to corporate money grabs runneth amok.  Bush Administration—oil, insurance, pharma, military-industrial—take your pick, everything jumped.  Given Romney’s history, I see legislative sessions running full tilt for the highest-paying <cough cough> er…lobbied advantages for certain friendly industries.  Which do you think his will be?

But What Keeps Them Honest?

These days, not much.  With regard to the media, you now have easy access to outside outlets such as the BBC, Der Spiegel and Al Jazeera.  If you dare look at those, occasionally you might find some obvious stories our local media would rather not report.  After all, who wants to hear about America’s diplomatic failures!  But the media can’t seem to reel in our nation’s policy makers.  Embarrassment aversion is only an Oscar-worthy apology away.  Frankly, they are driven by motives ranging anywhere from personal esteem to the typical mega-windfall consultancies that await their eventual public exit.  And some don’t even bother waiting!  Yeah, I don't like the constant posturing and what our system's political reality has become.  I was suddenly reminded of something yesterday—the one unfathomable recourse that’s been lost for generations: insurrection.

WHAT?

Yes, the fear of violent insurrection.  The kind you may have read about in a middle school’s history textbook but never truly understood because you were either hormone distracted, or only concerned with which particular phrase applied to the next pop quiz.  Insurrection is the public’s last resort for out-of-control politicians who’ve forgotten the word “representative”.  Too much time elapses before we vote them out.  The damage is done; their payday awaits.  NEXT!  Insurrection, or at least the fear of it, has been carefully whittled away, first in our minds, and now whenever the chance to push firearm regulation presents itself.

The Joker

First, I offer my sincerest condolences to the victims of the Aurora Colorado movie theater shooting.  Justice will be yours, and when so, hopefully peace.

Because of that disaster, and typically after similar events, gun control advocates launch into action, citing the need to ban certain firearms.  Just today our president said, “I also believe that a lot of gun owners would agree that AK-47s belong in the hands of soldiers, not in the hands of criminals."  And, "…they belong on the battlefield of war, not on the streets of our cities.”  A lot, eh?  Sounds like a challenge, but that’s not my point.  As well, I don’t believe Kalashnikovs belong out on the streets.  They belong in our closets, brought out routinely for practice and maintenance in home defense, and to remind our beloved representatives that there is an alternative solution for rampant greed.  Insurrection!  Now folks, don’t go taking my commentary out of context and running to the FBI or Secret Service with concerns I’m planning an assassination.  We have enough extremist poppycock traipsing around in the minds of, to quote Gene Wilder from Blazing Saddles, “…you know—morons.”  Our representatives need always embrace but also fear their constituency—for votes and for forced expulsion.  Similarly, our military must not entertain unchallengeable hubris. 

Have you ever really considered the full intent of our nation’s Second Amendment?

I think most of us recall the right to bear arms and well-regulated militia bits, but why did our founding fathers craft these particular words into our laws?  Don’t forget why we are a nation in the first place!  I think New Hampshire’s Constitution said it best in Article 10:

”Government being instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security, of the whole community, and not for the private interest or emolument of any one man, family, or class of men; therefore, whenever the ends of government are perverted, and public liberty manifestly endangered, and all other means of redress are ineffectual, the people may, and of right ought to reform the old, or establish a new government. The doctrine of nonresistance against arbitrary power, and oppression, is absurd, slavish, and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind.”

In a nutshell, that’s the bottom line case for weapon ownership in this country.  Sure, firearms carry intrinsic problems.  I cannot disagree that guns make it much easier for the criminally-minded to do their will.  Fortunately, the vast majority of us are not criminally-minded.  Firearms are a deterrent of the highest order.  Without them, undesirables may be more inclined (at least, in this particular country) to commit all sorts of violent mayhem.  Worse, governments are free to tyrannize unchecked.  Waiting for a Godwin’s Law reference?  Seriously, it’s not needed.  I think history has proven that unbridled governments eventually create human-costly rebellions.  Arab Spring is nothing new.  And, while I endear so many things from our European friends, my identity will remain distinctly and independently American.  I don’t want your monarchies, I don’t need your socialized healthcare, and I don’t want your 50% personal tax rates.  What I want is for the rest of the world to truly believe it when someone points to our country on a map and says, "That is the land of the free."  I so very much want to believe it too, and if protecting our constitutional rights means keeping a tool hidden in the closet or next to the bed, perhaps it's best that way.
T. Nelson Taylor | Official Site | DusT | Bolita