Monday, February 19, 2018

Read This.

This gets to the heart of the gun matter, in unsparing language.

Excerpt:  I understand that people want to be able to own guns. That’s ok. We just need to really think about how we’re managing this. Yes, we have to manage it, just as we manage car ownership. People have to get a license to operate a car, and if you operate a car without a license, you’re going to get in trouble for that. We manage all things in society that can pose a danger to other people by their misuse. In addition to cars, we manage drugs, alcohol, exotic animals (there are certain zip codes where you can’t own Serval cats, for example), and fireworks, among other things. We restrict what types of businesses can operate in which zones of the city or county. We have a whole system of permitting for just about any activity a person wants to conduct since those activities could affect others, and we realize, as a society, that we need to try to minimize the risk to other people that comes from the chosen activities of those around them in which they have no say. Gun ownership is the one thing our country collectively refuses to manage, and the result is a lot of dead people.


Monday, June 13, 2016

Magical Thinking

When I was a kid, I loved the idea of magic. I watched Peter Pan and thought if I could get a hold of some fairy dust (or pixie dust or what have you), I would be able to fly. I clapped really, really hard for Tinkerbell. When you’re a kid, it’s easy to believe in magic. Imagination really takes wing around the ages of four up, and all things are possible. It’s a wonderful time.

As you grow older, you become a bit more realistic. While you still love the feeling of magic from Peter Pan or the Wizard of Oz, you start to realize that there’s a real world, and incantations just don’t really work. Harry Potter is a wonderful character, but do you really think that Daniel Radcliffe or Emma Watson are going to wave a wand and defeat a real villain?

But somehow magical thinking is alive in in this world. We have people who think that if the president utters the words “radical Islamic terrorism” then that will make all those bad guys put away all their weapons. We will just wave a wand and utter the magical spell “Aveda kedavra, radical Islamic terrorist!” and by God (our good old Judeo-Christian God, not the one whose name begins with A and ends with H), there they’ll go, in a puff of righteous smoke.

Or maybe that’s not it. Maybe we’ll have to “carpet-bomb” those infidels. Just lay in a line B-52s, dropping 500 pound magical bombs, until the desert is a smoking cratered mess. Never mind those hundreds of thousands of non-combatants, women, children who just happen to be in the way. Tough noogies, radical Islamic terrorists. You should have converted to a religion we don’t bomb. You were on that carpet we bombed.

There is a pathological tendency in political thought. That tendency is to believe that it’s not enough to speak your opinion. That’s never enough. By God, you must make the other person (and how close he is to an enemy, right?) acknowledge your feelings. You must convince him of the rightness of your position. It’s not enough that you feel the way you do – other’s must feel the same! Because, by God, you are right. No, YOU ARE RIGHT! How can you validate your existence if other people aren’t converted?

 So what would happen if President Obama actually said the words “radical Islamic terrorism”? Did you get a sudden little orgasmic thrill? You get to feel that you were right all along? Did it make you happy? Did it make you feel the same way that it felt when you applauded Tinkerbell? Did you fly?

Well, bless your heart.


Sunday, December 06, 2015

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

OMG - We're DOOMED....wait, maybe not.

One of the most common components of political punditry is the prediction. It usually goes along the line of the "if this goes on..." structure, and forecasts either doom or utopia depending on the pundit and the topic. I suppose this tendency towards hyperbole is just the nature of the beast. You don't get a lot of readers nodding their heads if you just predict "more or less the same".

So, there have been hordes of predictions from panels of pundits about the evils that will befall the country because of the health care bill just passed. Frankly, I find it freaking hilarious. We're doomed. We're on an inexorable course towards socialism/communism/decay. We will spend so much on entitlements that our military will suffer and our ever-alert enemies will use this opportunity to humiliate our once-great nation. One-third of our doctors will quit. Granny will be denied her arthritis medicine, but here's a handy morphine overdose. Rush Limbaugh will move to Costa Rica. Glenn Beck will cry his eyes out.

Now if I suffered from a lack of couth, I might respond to these Cassandras with a growl of "HORSE EXCREMENT", but I'm a soft-spoken guy, and I say that in all likelihood, there's just not going to be that much havoc.

Oh, I'm not saying there's not going to upset, or problems, or even re-workings of the mechanisms. But I think it's going to be your basic, “oh, crap, what do we do now” problems that we get all the damn time! And we find a way to deal.

Before Dennis Miller turned into a Conservadroid, he used to say, "But that's just my opinion, I could be wrong." I could be wrong, but my prediction is that I'm not.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Songs of my youth - Reflections of my Life

There's no way of knowing what piece of popular music will latch onto your mind and never let go. Here's one from nearly 40 years ago. Reflections of my Life, by Marmalade.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Astronomy Day 2009

For my non-Facebook friends, here's some video I shot at the Astronomy Day shindig this past Saturday.

It was a marvelous time, as usual. The weather was perfect, and I and dozens of other volunteers helped the public get their astronomy on with views of Jupiter, the Moon, and celestial wonders near and far.

I also took a bunch of pics, which you can find here:


Wednesday, October 07, 2009

New toy

Linda and I got iPhones this past weekend, and I've been having a lot of fun playing with it. I'm impressed with its camera. It's not going to replace my Canon DSLR, but for casual photos, it's surprisingly good.