Thursday, June 30, 2011

Creating Religion

Have you ever wondered about how religion came to be?


Was it God's Word? Was it created by chimps? Planned by Shaman? Evolved out of mud? What is it and where did it come from? Does it make any sense whatsoever?


It was created, designed, then it evolved over time (which is ironic, since the Theists like to think that evolution is a fantasy) and finally, it was crafted by those in authority, both religious and secular, and typically, royal. So, let's look at it from a rational point of view for a change. Just what do we know?


We know that all religions were created a long time ago. No kidding, right? We know they were GeoSpecific, created in a specific area and rules were applied accordingly to the primal / indigenous people who are now only 6% of the total population. Isn't it strange that if God did exist, wouldn't a religion for God, a True religion of a God, have been everywhere, perhaps spontaneously, all around the planet. Wouldn't it have been at one point everywhere, then allowed to change as that society dictated? Why would any "omnipotent Being" create a religion in one location where there was no global communication or travel? It makes no sense, not logically, or any other way.

But at one point, they were 100%. Actually they probably weren't even back then. Because that is the nature of Human Beings, not everyone will believe. The problem with that, even from the very beginning, those nonbelievers were probably beaten, run off a cliff, thrown to the carnivores on the tundra, or simply stoned, to death. As they still are in some places.

We know that through History, one religion replaced another, many times, most perhaps, absorbing an older religion, especially when the new religion had moved into the area of the old religion. Christmas, for instance, has nothing to do with Jesus' birthday, other than to celebrate it, and now even that is falling by the wayside. The term, "xmas" has nothing to do with that as it was a shorthand used by medieval Catholic monks to shorten the full word and indicated the cross, turned on it's side, so don't think it was a turn of the century New York vendor thing. It wasn't.

We know that according to Anthropologists, for instance, K. Kris Hirst, a working archaeologist before retiring in 2005 to write freelance science articles in archaeology, the oldest Neanderthals appear to be just over 30. In some cases, there are always exceptions to the rule, such as at Chapelle aux Saintes where there is evidence of some living longer beyond their ability to care for themselves.


The roots of religion were around this time or more likely, prior to even that, back when we no spoken language. But when it got its real foundation, when it was first consciously created, we lived with a median age or 30, and it's not a far stretch that they did not have lifespan to fully mature emotionally, leaving them in a more primal state than we can now achieve. Like most higher primates, humans are social animals who want to build structures outside themselves, be it with other Humans, or with paranormal beings.

Back in those years, our ancestors had no real education beyond what it took to survive. In reality, religion most likely began even further back, way back, even before Heidelberg Man, most likely while we were still sitting in trees.

The roots were set there for the religious, for magical belief systems. They needed something to fill in the gaps about their mysterious lives, the unknowns in their existence, the invisible in the dark during the periods when darkness could mean a very real death coming suddenly out of the unknown. And the unknown was a very big issue in the creation of god and religion. Evolutionary Psychology is just the beginning of this train of thought.

Humans, even pre humans, also need a buffer against life's complexities and dangers. Otherwise, a thinking being will simply self destruct. And so, religion was created by a people with no education, immature personalities, and no way to explain the unexplainable in what they experienced and saw happening all around them in life on a daily basis.


It should be understood just how easy it is to believe in a God. If you've ever gotten burned by the sun, possibly the first "God", you can understand how it could have been seen to be the "all powerful being". Then from there, to believe in an organized belief system supporting that belief, well, nothing, may be easier to believe, really. Even a neanderthal could believe in that. Doesn't that say something? And isn't it funny, all the references to God, Jesus and the Sun (Son)?

Before a "God" concept was even proposed, Neanderthal could certainly have believed in the imaginary because every time they closed their eyes in the dark, they could "see" there was something that existed beyond themselves, "out there" where things were not physical, and therefore, were scary. Dreams, certainly made people believe in the unreal and changed their lives in some cases for them. This doesn't even bring into play that of poisonings or hallucinogenic substances. Terrifying.

And so in the beginning, God and Religion were born of... fear. No really. READ the Old Testament of the Christian Bible sometime. As Humans developed it was obvious that wasn't working and so they finally needed a "friendly" and loving, or Fatherly, God. But even that is still based in the old fears and structures.

At some point, Humans learned to write and before that, they drew pictures, before that, they passed on legend by word of mouth. Once they began to write what they believed, things really took off. Once they began to understand you could write what was not true, to expand upon, to create, true religion was born. But even before writing, don't think that they weren't already very good story tellers. There is power in writing however. There is power in the God concept. People kowtow to the concept of an ultimate being and when it's unavailable for comment, that gives it even more power. Those who are the mouthpiece for that, have the capability of being the most power beings on the planet.

And so they tried to be. But those who were strongest, weren't always of a follower kind of format and typically were up against those in religious power. A good example of religious and solider would be the Templars. Finally, they scared both the secular and religious in power alike and were wiped out.


There is nothing truly surprising or difficult to understand here, other than that "faith" gets in the way of rationally seeing the Truth. Not, the "Truth", but the Truth.


So, WHY are we so surprised at how screwed up religion is, or why it has had to be changed and developed over the years by Humans and not god(s), and if a god or gods created it, then why did it need so much fine tuning, year after year after year?

The hard thing to do is to accept we are meat and bone, evolution is real, life is now, and not later after we die. I do not like that concept either, but I don't believe in ignoring what is relevant just because I don't like it. I was in a car accident once, a woman ran a red light and suddenly she was right in front of me. I didn't like it. I wanted to avoid it. But I accepted it and swerved, avoiding killing her by "T boning" her car. It saved her life. Had I simply decided not to believe in reality, she would be dead.

But that is exactly what religion does, it tells us to have "faith" in what is not real, what is obviously not so. And so we set ourselves up for some ugly truths, but so what, we'll be dead and not know it anyway. Still, we further so much unreal belief for those who remain behind us when we die and don't point out the silly uselessness of it all. It's great to have the magic of believing in Santa, but not so much to truly believe.


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Did you get a call from 508-475-1324?

Did you get a call from 508-475-1324? Also report unwanted calls to help identify who is using this phone number.Country: USA Location: Massachusetts (Cambridge, Fall River, Plymouth).

Typical Telemarketer after a time telemarketing

I looked around online and found some other people got a call from these people and posted about it. I've given up a long time ago about this kind of thing. I put my numbers on the DNC - Do Not Call list. Since you can't stop it, and since I have to have a land line in my house for my DSL Internet access, and since I use a cell phone for everything, what I've done is whenever I have to give a phone number with a company or whatever, I give them my house number. Then I monitor it with CallerID and I don't answer it unless I know who it is.

Also (and this is key), I have voicemail and I put a message on there that says essentially, "I get a lot of sales people calling this number so I don't bother to answer this phone any more. If you have a legitimate reason to talk to me, please leave your name and number and why you are calling and I will get back to you as soon as I get this message. Otherwise, remove me from your call list and hang up now. Thank you." So now my biggest issue is the phone rings and I have to listen to it until voicemail takes over or they hang up.

Anyway, here are what people have said about this on forums:

"I get a recorded message that goes something like this:  This will be your final chance to lower your credit card rate."  Each time I press the option to speak with an operator and then tell that person to remove me from their call list.  Each time I am assured this will be done only to receive another call from them within a week. I have requested that they stop calling me about 50 times.  I have reported them on the "Do Not Call" complaint page."


Another said:

"I am also plagued with unsolicited calls from telemarketers and have reported them to just about every government agency I can think of. The DNC list is a joke for the most part, especially in view of the fact that the politicians who passed the bill exempted themselves, non-profit organizations, and all other entities with whom you may have done business in the past.

"The Better Business Bureau, the FCC, and (if you know the state from which the calls are being made) the Consumer Protection Agencies apparently have little or no interest in finding these unscrupulous telemarketers, much less in indicting, prosecuting, and punishing them. It's a waste of time unless a whole bunch of people gang up on the government and put a stop to telemarketing entirely. Sadly this won't happen because it represents too much revenue to the phone carriers and the U.S. Government."

Another said:

"This number calls and a recorded message states that I  am running out of time to lower the interest rate on one of my credit cards. They do not identify themselves. I pressed "1" to get a representative to find out WHO they are and how they got my number (on no call list). The rep refuses to tell me and hangs up ! I do not want these unsolicited calls and I am upset that I can get no info on them to report them."

Another said:

"Just received this voice mail (surprising) they never leave messages:

"...Account. There's no problems currently with your account. It is urgent however that you contact us concerning your eligibility for lowering your interest rates to as little as 6.9%. Your eligibility expires shortly so please consider this your final notice. Please press one now on your phone to speak with a live operator and lower your interest rate or press two to discontinue further notices. Thank you and have a great day".
Who is this?? I, too, am on the Do Not Call. Time to change the phone number."

We definitely need better legislation on this situation and the ability to go outside the country for people who do this and are offshore. And I mean, swat teams who go into another country, or work with that country's government to eradicate the situation.

I really dislike people calling me at home to sell me things. If I want something, I will go to the store myself, look it up online, or find it when I want it. I don't go to their homes to buy things from their company, and I don't want their company coming into my home. It is bad enough to have advertisements all over TV (especially PAID TV), intruding into my personal space.

Telemarketers suck. I see them as I do Municipal Meter Maids who get your car towed and ticket you. Criminals in legal jobs and uniforms. I don't mind if they ticket me, but towing my car? Theft. Unless it is a public hazard, the car shouldn't be towed and yes, I've had my car towed. One time, I was legal and they towed it (twice that happened on the same street. If it says you have to be moved by 4PM, then they shouldn't tow you till 4PM. If they need you gone by 4PM, then say, 3:30PM or 3PM. Otherwise, it comes off as a racket, doesn't it? Kind of like the telemarketers.

Need I say more?

Tormenting Telmarketers: A Game You Can Play at Home!


Everyone has gotten a call from a Telemarketer. The new Scourge of the Telephone System. Previously when the phone rang, you always wondered if it was someone you knew, or another schmuck with something to sell. Well, the time has come to turn the tables. We need to take control of our own phones. We need to take the ``market'' out of Telemarketing.
Premise:
Telemarketers take the brute force approach to making sales. If you talk to a whole bunch of people, someone will buy what you are selling.
Counter-Tactic:
Waste as much of their time as you can. For each minute that you waste means several potential customers that will not be reached. Make Telemarketing unprofitable. Hanging up only increases the changes for them to make a sale. Don't let this happen!
Hints:
Most of the preliminary stuff is done by someone making minimum wage, and reads a script. Let them finish. It's easy points, and you were watching Star Trek and weren't using your phone anyway. It's easy to keep them interested using ``attentive grunting'', similar to when your mother calls.
Remember, Telemarketers are people, too. They do choose their job (like Meter Maids). But with things as bad financially as they are, you need to get a job where you can find it. So you don't have to be mean to the peon that is calling you, but you can screw up the company for which they are calling, for. Just waste their time. You get the telemarketer their time on the phone, and you get the company for whom they are calling, absolutely nothing.


And the plus up side? They aren't bothering anyone else until you hang up.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Passion, or Death - The Harlequin Hipsters and Titanium Sporkestra

"People are dying." So begins a fascinating view of "Passion, or Death". Make up your own mind....
First of all, my sincere apologies for getting the title backward the other day (Death, or Passion, well, really doesn't make sense, does it?).


My daughter talked me into going to see a live stage show of her friends in a piece they appropriately call, "Passion, or Death".


It was put on by The Harlequin Hipsters with Titanium Sporkestra pulling up a dynamic and resounding ending, and was the HH's fourth year anniversary.

Titanium Sporkestra
Now, in their own words:

"This will be our first full length show ever. 2011 is The Harlequin Hipsters’ year to go big. We’ve been out there, pounding the pavement at every Seattle street festival, playing our fair city’s cabaret and music stages both small and large and giving our passion for dance to all kinds musicians inspiring others to dance for 4 years. Now is our chance to make something totally unique and we need your help to do it. We’re almost halfway to our goal and we have 13 days left. Please visit this link, watch the video and pledge some dollars. We can’t do this without you! Thank you!!"


It took place Friday and Saturday, June 24th and 25th in the evening at 7PM and 9PM, as Hale's Brewery's Palladium in Ballard, Washington, just outside of downtown Seattle along the waterfront, a block away fishing and other types of boats sit idle, as if waiting for a show like this to pull them out of the doldrums.


And so it happened. Let me just say, these photos do no justice to the scene, nor do the videos. I badly wanted to video the opening, because it was so cool, but I knew video couldn't do it justice, and besides, I just wanted to sit there and watch.

At the end, I simply had to video the Titanium Sporkestra as the entire place was up and dancing and jumping around. Simply, too much fun.


The show started with the musical composer, Milo Hayden, aka, Mr. Moo, from Portland, OR, playing violin. Then the players appeared and mock walked along city streets, warping both time and perception in their mind bending foray into modern daily life; what I was seeing before me was the living rut that most of us try to survive, day in and day out, until death sucks us down. The opening pulled me into a play on what would happen, "If".

What would happen if putting our passions on hold, simply to survive our lives, lives we have allowed to get out of control, were suddenly to start killing us. And after all, doesn't it?

Passion or Death program

More clever than the concept was the execution. As they started I felt a familiar feeling, "oh no, artsy nonsense that won't be backed up by equal ability to pull it off."
Show Program front

Actually, knowing my daughter's friends, I did expect it to be pretty good, but you have these preconceived notions, you know. I was soon able to relax and enjoy, become absorbed in, and luxuriate through the evening's performance, an experience perfectly offset by the opening aforementioned scene.
Show Program back

Afterward, we took off, skipping the after party, as we had a bus to catch and a ferry ride, when ended in our getting home at 2AM. But while we were waiting (forever, it seemed) for the bus, across the street the Sporkestra was gathering and finally broke into music.

Let me just say that I've always loved New Orleans attitudes toward music and I love the HBO show, Treme about New Orleans after Katrina hit. Their music in the streets and the city's desire, their passion, for music, for street musicians "busking", spontaneous outbreaks of music, song and dance, has always been for me, a strong fascination and lifelong enjoyment. How can one not?

So seeing the full band playing on the street next to a bar, in the dark off a main street in Ballard, was a perfect end to an entertaining evening.

No, I won't go into detail in case you ever get to see them perform this, but I will say you seldom get a chance to see performers performing their passions, so intimately built into a performance and I will also say, that should you ever get to attend one of The Harlequin Hipsters' (or, the Titanium Sporkestra's) happenings, simply put? Do it.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Marijuana bill officially introduced to Congress by Ron Paul, Barney Frank

Before we get started, who do you think smoked Cannabis? Here is a list of 200 well known Cannabis smokers. It is now being alleged that even William Shakespeare did and they are looking to non-invasively test his bones and teeth. That would kind of shoot down that whole, "it will make you stupid" thing, don't you think?

Arnold Schwarzenegger

How about, who do you think are the ten most successful Cannabis smokers. How about the ten smartest Cannabis smokers? You know, it really isn't that you could be more successful in not indulging, or smarter. It really is a personal choice. Just how smart or how successful do you need (or what) to be? Is it possible that without, you would not have been as (relaxed, creative?) successful, or smart? What does quality of life mean, to YOU? And whose business is it what that personal decision is? Certainly not the Government's. Or, your Mom's.

Now, let's get started....

The LA Times reported Friday that in a finally, bi-partisan move, one of the few, a Marijuana bill was officially introduced to Congress by Ron Paul, a Republican, and Barney Frank, a Democrat.
Barney Frank (D)
Ron Paul (R)

"The bill appears doomed on arrival, according to the Associated Press, which reported that House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith said his panel, which the proposed law is required to venture through, would not even consider it." Perhaps, a law such as this should not go through a committee such as his. If we have people who are so misinformed, so ignorant of the law and history, who are in charge of important committees such as this, there is something fundamentally wrong with our government. But, no big surprise there to most of us, right?

Lamar Smith, professional Congressional Goofball

It's about time, don't you think? Have you noticed how much you see Cannabis being used by characters on TV shows this season? It's always a sign of the times when it's time to throw in the towel for conservatives and those who ignore reality when that happens. Same sex marriage is being legalized all over the place, New York being the last to get on board; and same sex lifestyles and shows on TV/Cable are also all over the place.

This bill, the "Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2011," is broader and bolder than the medical marijuana bills that Congressman Frank has introduced in every Congress since 1995. The bill introduced today would allow states to determine their own marijuana laws -- not just medical marijuana laws -- without federal interference.

So maybe, just maybe, we should stop this nonsense, this infringement on American rights and give people their long over due considerations to be free Americans, free to live as they want, to be who they want in a country founded upon the ideals of freedom and the pursuit of happiness.

All, literally ALL the arguments I hear against legalizing Cannabis have to do with things that are none of those people's business. And why, is it so horrible, that people can get "high" on Cannabis and enjoy doing it? People enjoy a drink, right? And that is some kind of harmful stuff to your body, brain, liver. One has to ask, why is Cannabis so fear invoking in these ignorant legislatures and the judicial and law enforcement branches.

I'll tell you. Job security. Kick backs from drug cartels (if not to American's to our allies in places like Mexico. And finally, even people who want it legalized won't vote for it in congress because of their fear of losing their jobs do to the ignorant, religious vocal groups back home. Does the majority of America think it should be legalized. Yes. Does that matter? No, not really, because it's one of those things that should just be legal. Sometimes, our leaders should lead, do the right thing, not lie to us and do the wrong thing and call it the right thing. It's sad.

Tom Angell, media relations director for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, an international organization of criminal justice professionals who claim first-hand awareness of the waste and harms of current drug policies. He has said:


"No longer can reform advocates be laughed off as a bunch of Cheech and Chongs. Hopefully having this national debate will help more people to understand that marijuana prohibition harms public safety by giving drug cartels and gangs a huge source of tax-free profits, just like alcohol prohibition did for Al Capone and his colleagues during the 1920s and 30s."

Rep. John Conyers Says Marijuana Should Be Decriminalized.

Former President Jimmy Carter, a life-long humanitarian, wrote a New York Times opinion piece that says the time to end the war on drugs has come. He suggests following the advice of the Global Commission, a major facet of which is the need to end marijuana prohibition.

In yet another illustration of how the marijuana debate has gone completely mainstream, even the freshly-crowned winner of the Miss USA pageant, Alyssa Campanella, stated that she supports the use of marijuana for medical purposes.

Now let's enjoy some Disinformation (by the way, Disinformation was invented by the Soviets during the Cold War in a communist attempt to subvert the "American Way") from Congressman Smith, in the LA Times article:


"Decriminalizing marijuana will only lead to millions more Americans becoming addicted to drugs [cannabis is not an addictive drug, only mentally addictive, if anything] and greater profits for drug cartels who fund violence along the U.S.-Mexico border. Allowing states to determine their own marijuana policy flies in the face of Supreme Court precedent," Congressman Smith said.

WHAT? Unbelievable. Really?! I mean, WHAT? There is so much bullshit in that statement, I don't even know where to start. First, we should fire Smith for being an idiot, ignorant, and not doing his job properly. We need intelligent and informed people in these important positions. The drug cartel issue is ONLY there BECAUSE it's illegal.

Oh my God, talk about out right lies and twisting the facts. Republicans are dangerous to the United States because they spouts lies and turn children into hamburgers, and all have children meat grinders in their basements and they ALL have basements. Yes, that's ridiculous, but it's just as accurate. Who makes these fools chairman of anything? People, we really need to start voting intelligent people to congress because this is all American's fault. YOU put guys like this in charge of our laws. Look how they handle their responsibilities. Unbelievable!

Not to mention, the things they are using as arguments against legalizing Cannabis, are simply NONE of their business. Also, Cannabis is a natural compound that grows wild as a weed, and is NOT an addictive drug, and is not a narcotic at all as has been legislated and placed next to heroin and cocaine in the restricted drugs list, both of which ARE dangerous synthetic drugs.

Next....

"The Office of National Drug Control Policy echoed some of Smith's fears and said decriminalizing pot was a nonstarter."

Surprise! But hey, it makes sense doesn't it? I mean, really, would you expect to hear the Office of National Chewing Gum Control Policy to vote to legalize Chewing Gum, were it illegal? Wouldn't that kind of kill their job? That is something I've never understood, some jobs, you should work your way out of. Like the environment, for instance. You WANT to do good work so one day your job disappears because the environment is doing so well. Right?

Next....

"Our concern with marijuana is not borne out of any culture war or drug war mentality [Righttttt....], but out of what the science tells us about the drug’s effects [we're reading very different scientific documents, have you read the ones about THC growing brain cells? Killing nausea in cancer patients? Increasing the desire to eat in those same patients? The fact that its just fun about pretty harmless when compared to alcohol?]. The facts are that marijuana potency has tripled in the past 20 years [true and I suggest growing your own, if you can legally do so, but then more potent means smoking less, and then there's always the safer "vaporizer" where you breathe in no smoke at all] and teens are using the drug at earlier ages," the office said in a statement to The Times.

That bit about teens, is not a "do not legalize it" issue, that is a parental issue, pure and simple. What has this to do with legalizing it so people stop going to jail for trying to do what should be legal for adults? Kids drink alcohol illegally too, do we make that illegal? We've seen how that goes, just as we are seeing with Cannabis. Making it illegal, does not work. It simply makes criminals out of law abiding citizens. It takes handling those teens who smoke Cannabis, out of the hands of their parents who should be dealing with it and putting it in the hands of law enforcement. Do we really want them handling this for our children, for not only doing it underage, but for it also being illegal only adding to an already difficult situation?

Putting it bluntly, children, should not drinking alcohol (but they do) and they shouldn't smoke (or use) Cannabis. From my reading, you shouldn't do things like that until you are out of your teens due to how the brain is structured. But there are other issues than simply do kids "smoke pot". There is why are so many people in jail for smoking it; why do we continue to support, as a national government effort, foreign drug cartels? You have to ask yourself, why do they support those cartels, continue to fill their coffers with billions of dollars, when legalizing it will remove that money from their corporate (yes, cartels are basically a corporation under a different name) structures.

And finally, legalizing Cannabis has a LOT to do with people being afraid of change, and lazy. Lazy especially for Law Enforcement agencies because then they would have to do some real police work, crack real crimes. Legalize Pot and law enforcement statistics will drop drastically because they will no longer be putting normal people in jail, they won't be harassing your kids anymore.

They will have to stop putting Grandma in jail, busting medical Cannabis stores. Have YOU ever called 911? Have you ever gotten put on hold? DO you realize how many people have been in the middle of violent crimes and were on hold or police were slow to arrive because the police resources were busy dealing with busting a Medical Marijuana store, or in the middle of a Cannabis bust? Do you realize how much money is freed up if we just stop, dealing with Cannabis? For those worried about illegal aliens crossing our borders, do you realize how much money that frees up for ICE once it's pulled away from ATF and DEA?

So, this law came thirty years after I said that it would be legalized within ten years, by 1980. I don't know quite what went wrong. But it's about time we rectified the situation, stopped be afraid of everything, and accept that some change, is good. As soon as I heard about it, I knew it would be squashed by the fear-mongers, the job security issues, the ignorance. And the only way to get beyond that is to keep pushing, talk about it, clear up the fears, and when people talk about the "important issues", point out that 95% of those have nothing to do with legalizing it.

Finally....

""The earlier a person begins to use drugs, the more likely they are to progress to more serious abuse and addiction -– reflecting the harmful, long-lasting effects drugs can have on the developing brain. Legalization remains a nonstarter in the Obama administration because research shows that marijuana use is associated with voluntary treatment admissions, fatal drugged driving accidents and emergency room admissions," the statement said."

Again, these issues have NOTHING to do with legalizing Cannabis. This statement incorrectly makes Cannabis look like a dangerous drug. The only danger is the same with alcohol, and in fact, that statement is far more true for alcohol. Most emergency room admissions for Cannabis are in the end, unnecessary and perception based. There have been no deaths due to Cannabis. Alcohol on the other hand, and yes, we do need to compare to a legal drug for clarity on this issue.

"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which published a U.S. government study in 2005, estimated that 34,833 people in 2001 died from cirrhosis of the liver, cancer and other diseases linked to drinking too much beer, wine and spirits. Another 40,933 died from car crashes and other mishaps caused by excessive alcohol use."

Cannabis related deaths during that time period: Zero.

According to the CDC:

"Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug among youth in the United States. Current marijuana use decreased from 27% in 1999 to 21% in 2009. Current cocaine use increased from 2% in 1991 to 4% in 2001 and then decreased from 2001 (4%) to 2009 (3%). Lifetime inhalant use decreased from 20% in 1995 to 12% in 2003 and then remained steady from 2003 (12%) to 2009 (12%). Lifetime use of ecstasy among high school students decreased from 11% in 2003 to 7% in 2009. Lifetime use of methamphetamines was steady from 1999 (9%) to 2001 (10%) and then decreased to 4% in 2009. Lifetime heroin use did not change from 1999 (2%) to 2009 (2%). Hallucinogenic drug use decreased from 13% in 2001 to 8% in 2007 and then remained steady from 2007 (8%) to 2009 (8%)."

So Cannabis use has decreased. What I've seen in my home area are a youth culture that is far wiser than my cohort were when I was there age. They are less interested in drugs in general, more into ecology and being productive citizens. Comparing Cannabis use now, if it's legalized to say thirty years ago, simply isn't a good gauge of where it will take us. We also don't consider those who WILL try Cannabis once it's legal, but then will STOP drinking alcohol.

I remember a very good friend who was into hallucinogens and pills, then someone introduced him to Cannabis and he immediately quite all his other drug use. He cut way back on even drinking alcohol. No one talks about that kind of behavior. Why? Because, isn't it obvious? That is how fear mongering works.

The CDC goes on to point out that the issues now, are not Cannabis use, but pills.

"While illicit drug use has declined among youth, rates of nonmedical use of prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medication remain high. Prescription medications most commonly abused by youth include pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants, and depressants. In 2009, 20% of U.S. high school students had ever taken a prescription drug, such as Oxycontin, Percocet, Vicodin, Adderall, Ritalin, or Xanax, without a doctor's prescription. Teens also misuse OTC cough and cold medications, containing the cough suppressant dextromethorphan (DXM), to get high. Prescription and OTC medications are widely available, free or inexpensive, and falsely believed to be safer than illicit drugs. Misuse of prescription and OTC medications can cause serious health effects, addiction, and death."

These are the things we need to be paying attention to and here is where the laziness comes in. It is far easier to make Cannabis the monster, when there are far uglier monsters out there attacking our kids and our nation; with issues that really are hard to go up against. Partly because these are MEDICAL issues, and not Law Enforcement issues. It has gone on for too many decades now that we treat our American citizens as criminals and incarcerate them rather than get them help.

Do the right thing. Start screaming about this to your Congresspeople. Tell them to: Stop wasting our money in government and start doing things that actual help us. Let them know we know this magic act they have been pulling on us all this time and start working, break a sweat, solve some problems and stop, putting us in jail, forcing us to live in ignorance and fear.

Do your job, Congress! Stop being so afraid of your jobs. Maybe what we need is only four years for anyone on congress. If they can't do their jobs because of fear of being voted out, perhaps they shouldn't have a continuing job for them to protect, we can simply take it away. We, after all, are THE PEOPLE.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Weekend Wise Words

Be Smart! Be Brilliant!

No, really. Go for it!

This weekend's Wise Words are from or about our Founding Fathers. I keep hearing all about how this is a Christian country and how the Founding Father's designed it that way. I think they were conscious of people's beliefs and their right to believe, but this quite obviously had nothing to do with how they saw the relationship for God and Country. Or more appropriately, Country and maybe, God. They had I'm sure, no desire whatsoever for God or religion to take over the country the way they have in past years.

They may have been Deists (belief, based solely on reason, in a God who created the universe and then abandoned it, assuming no control over life, exerting no influence on natural phenomena, and giving no supernatural revelation.); and believed in "a" God, but they were by no means Theists (belief in the existence of a god or gods, especially belief in a personal God as creator and ruler of the world.). They didn't believe in any kind of organized religion, as you will see below.

Not at all, not from these Deists and mostly Freemasons.

So to all those Theists....

George Washington:

Historian Barry Schwartz writes: "George Washington's practice of Christianity was limited and superficial because he was not himself a Christian...  He repeatedly declined the church's sacraments.  Never did he take communion, and when his wife, Martha, did, he waited for her outside the sanctuary...  Even on his deathbed, Washington asked for no ritual, uttered no prayer to Christ, and expressed no wish to be attended by His representative."

John Adams:


"I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved-- the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced!"
                            -letter to Thomas Jefferson



Thomas Jefferson:


"Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced an inch towards uniformity.  What has been the effect of coercion?  To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites.  To support roguery and error all over the earth."
                             - "Notes on Virginia"



Benjamin Franklin:


"I cannot conceive otherwise than that He, the Infinite Father, expects or requires no worship or praise from us, but that He is even infinitely above it."
            - "Articles of Belief and Acts of Religion",  1728



Abraham Lincoln:


"The Bible is not my book, nor Christianity my profession."

                        -Spoken by Abraham Lincoln, quoted by Joseph Lewis



Now... you were saying?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Rupert Sheldrake A New Science of Life

Rupert Sheldrake has a video set on Youtube.com called, "A New Science of Life" and "Seven Experiments that could change the World". He has written a bunch of books and is a pretty interesting guy.

Robert Sheldrake

My son found it and I watched it. Very interesting stuff. Now my son is little more "out there" on new technologies and ways of thinking, physics and all that kind of very fascinating stuff. He is into now, the kinds of things I was into at his age, in his early twenties. But we have new things to be fascinated by now.


Still, I find sometimes that my son is a little too out there for me, either because I know that eventually he is going to come back from a dead end (and probably one I've been down myself, or a similar one), or simply because I do not understand what it is he is ruminating about. But this is very rewarding for us both. In some cases he is going down paths I went down and had thought were worthy to venture down, but later realized this was simply yet either another charlatan selling his or her wares, or they were simply interesting ideals with no real foundation in anything worthy of further pursuit.

Still, he came up with this guy: Rupert might seem a little nuts at first, but he has some very valid points. Like science is, and always has been, by design and by necessity (to some degree) and therefore, rather stodgy.

Rupert said that he had Richard Dawkins, one of my heroes, visit his home one day and at their request for a filmed event, but in the end, Rupert had to ask them to leave. It was because he said, Richard was simply too closed off and too much the skeptic. One should be skeptical, but not to the exclusion of seeing what is actually there. Or, may be. Richard just responded that science is seeing the fewest possible things.

Rupert gave examples of having done a study on ESP (you must know that means Extra Sensory Perception, yes?). The review he sent it to said you must be joking, or some such thing. He pointed out that originally Galileo couldn't get "scientists" of his time to look through his telescope. And the editor responded, I think I'll take the chance. A funny story, but it exemplifies the closed attitude of science.

I agreed with him, however, I still didn't know what he was about. Then he started talking about the dog study, which I found very interesting. Not only because of what he found, but also because he found someone who said his study was nonsense and then did his own study to prove him wrong, only to prove the original research as accurate, yet even more so.

What this study was about, was why a dog will go and wait for their owner, when the owner is on the way home from work (or wherever) for the day. Is it psychic? Is it what we call, paranormal? Well it seems that way. Still, couldn't it be a routine, after all, animals have a very good sense of time of day; couldn't it be that the other person in the house is "telegraphing" that someone is on the way home: couldn't it be that it is a simple coincidence and the animal is merely looking out the window as they do off and on, all day long?

Well, the study accounted for all of that and still they had relevant, let's say, a statistically relevant finding. Interesting, yes?


"I have carried out many trials with return-anticipating dogs, especially with Jaytee, a dog belonging to Pam Smart, in Ramsbottom, Lancashire. To start with, we recorded Jaytee's anticipatory behaviour on 100 occasions when Pam was absent for a wide range of times, some as short as an hour, others as long as long 12 hours. Jaytee anticipated her returns on 82 percent of these occasions, both with short and long absences (Sheldrake & Smart, 1998). He also anticipated her returns at least 10 minutes in advance when she was travelling in unfamiliar vehicles, such as taxis."

"Subsequently, in a series of 100 videotaped trials, the place at which Jaytee waited by the window was filmed continuously on timecoded videotape throughout Pam's absences. These films were evaluated "blind" by independent scorers, who recorded all the times at which Jaytee was by the window. The data showed that he was waiting by the window very significantly more when Pam was on her way home from destinations at least 5 miles away than in the main period of her absence (Sheldrake & Smart, 2000a).

"Marks suggested that the anticipatory behaviour of the Pam Smart's dog Jaytee could be explained by the dog learning when Pam could be expected home, and signalling accordingly. But if he had read our published papers he would have know that this hypothesis had already been refuted. Jaytee responded to Pam's homecomings after absences of very different durations. We tested for the possibility of learning effects by comparing Jaytee's behaviour after short, medium and long absences. His anticipatory behaviour was similar in all cases, ruling out the learning hypothesis (Sheldrake & Smart, 2000a, Figure 4)." Rupert Sheldrake

 
They gave one example of a son, coming home from the military, no routine, no usual car sound coming down the street as he used a train and then taxi, the mother didn't know the son was coming home, but the dog sat there waiting for him to walk in the door.

In the research they showed that the dog would wait for the owner to come home, before they were on the way home, but this was explained as the person deciding to come home, and the dog, feeling that, and getting ready, which, if you think about it, really makes perfect sense and almost proves the point due to the unexpected timing. If the dog responded as the person left work, wouldn't that be a little too pat and all neat and tidy? In a way, this is the exception proving the rule.

Sheldrake invokes morphogenetic fields to achieve the inheritance of experiences. Figure 1 is from The Presence of the Past and illustrates how morphogenetic fields relate to conventional genetics.

In his book Seven Experiments That Could Change the World, Rupert Sheldrake explains why "big questions don't [necessarily?] need big science."

I kind of like how this guy thinks.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Concealed Carry - Ever consider carrying a gun?

Have you ever, considered carrying a gun? Or even owning one, perhaps for home defense?


I've railed for years about things like how easy it is to get married, how hard to get divorced, which is, if you think about it, kind of backwards. And how hard it is to get a driver's license, yet how easy it is to get a gun, and even, to get licensed in many states, to carry it in a concealed fashion.


There is a group called USCAA, the United States Concealed Carry Association. Through them you can not only get insurance for carrying a gun, but education about the responsibilities and the difficulties related to carrying one. As I said, I'm really not advocating carrying, however, if you are going to, know what the heck you are doing and be aware of what it means.

USCAA has a very good document on the topic of concealed carry:

http://www.usconcealedcarry.com/downloads/reports/pdf/7_things_you_must_know.pdf

NOTE: USCAA said there have been some misunderstandings about their services on the insurance side, so they produced this video.

Don't misunderstand what I'm about to say, I am NOT advocating carrying. The idea of some of the people I know are carrying, with too little experience and training, kind of scares me. In some cases, it out right terrifies me.

However, that being said, I can't help but think about all those incidents where some nutcase walks into a burger joint, or an office somewhere and simply starts opening up with automatic weapons fire. If ONE person were carrying and had the balls to pull and fire one shot, how many lives could have been saved over the years if that happened each time an incident like this started up? If there were one person, with no training, just a handgun, who could have simply shot the person who is shooting innocent people, I find that far more likeable a situation. But the last thing we need are a bunch of "Dirty Harry" types running around being vigilantes.


No, we don't need a bunch of citizens all pulling and firing, but on the other hand, if five or fifteen citizens pulled a gun on some nut, might he not be motivated by overwhelming force to lay down his arms? Or if not, die on the spot? Possibly (hopefully) without the loss of a single innocent life? If the potential killer is there to "die by cop" as they say, I'm all for him "dying by citizen", too. It's like I've always said about murder suicides, if ONLY they would kill themselves first, then turn their gun on their children, loved ones, coworkers or family members. But no, they always seem to have to kill the others first. Too bad, right?

I have all kinds of compassion for suicides, just not murder suicides, because really, I couldn't care less what their personal situation is if they are going to take out anyone besides themselves.

Okay, the idea of a bunch of citizens, American citizens, especially the types of people who typically can't take the time to educate themselves properly about nearly anything, does scare me. The thought of some nutcase pulling a gun to indiscriminately start killing people, then a bunch of those people to pull and fire, is pretty scary. Guns blazing, people firing scared, in possibly conflicting directions, innocents killed... it's a fearsome consideration.

But odds are, there would only be one. I don't have a big concern if I were that citizen stopping someone, were I carrying something. But then, I've been trained on this since my Jr High School years. I got my "sports letter" (a big gold and black trimmed "L") in High School in of all places, on our HS's Rifle Club, which I was on for all three years.

In Basic Military Training I rated 120% on the M16. Don't ask how I did that, you'll figure it out in a minute. And five of those shots went into the guy's target next to me; you see, at that distance, it isn't really that hard to hit a target and then realize that it was the guy's target next to you; the point is you see, in that kind of scenario, simply to hit a target at that distance. That is, if you are shooting at an enemy "out there", you really just need to hit SOMEONE. If I were shooting alone as a sniper, yes, then it would be extremely good to hit whatever I was meaning to aim at. But that is with a long rifle, and at a distance. We're talking handgun here, and close up. And I've done quite well with that, too.

The scenario I'm talking about here, is a guy (or gal) right there in front of you, mere feet or yards away and there being no way to not know what you are aiming at positively. And just like the Good Samaritan, do you act or stand there? Not to mention, just because you have a weapon on you, does not mean you need to, or should, pull it, or should pull it and fire. That is something you have to make a split second decision about. But IF someone pulls a gun and shoots someone, and then takes aim at another, I don't know, I'm thinking, pull and fire?

But there are other issues to consider here, in fact, many.

When you carry, you really need to know what you are doing, and how to do it. Practice so that it's second nature (you don't want to be thinking too much, you want the decision, the right decision, to just happen). But how many simply buy a gun, then carry it, with no license? Or, get a license and carry, with no training. Or, get training but don't practice. Or, practice but don't practice for the reason they are carrying? Yeah, a lot, I'm sure.

UPDATE: NPR Article 1/29/2013 - Armed 'Good Guys' And The Realities Of Facing A Gunman

So, these USCAA people know all that. They want you to get that training and then they want to help you protect yourself, and others. Kind of like the Good Sam laws in some states.

Did you know that you can stop to help someone who is hurt, such as in a car accident, and if you make a mistake, or even if you don't, you can get sued for possibly saving the person's life? There have been situations where a citizen stopped to help someone dying, saved their life, then the person ends up permanently disabled, possibly because of their life being saved. Possibly, it was going to happen no matter who saved them. Then they sue the person that saved their life. Ridiculous, right? Even if they lose and you are proven right, it would be horrible being in that situation, maybe ending up in debt because of what, you tried to save someone's life? Makes you think you should have just let them die. But it has happened. And so some states have passed "Good Sam" laws so people wouldn't be thinking about that as they make up their mind to try to save someone's life.

The USCAA has insurance just for things like this. And for other cases. They give an example of a citizen who has taken his gun lawfully packed, to another state on a plane, but when he got there he was arrested, even though he believed he was following all the rules and laws. He got bailed out that same day by the USCAA and it was all worked out with the police.

So if you are going to carry, or in some cases, even own a gun, this might not be a bad deal for you. Plus, get any training they suggest. Because you can't just pull a gun and use it. Even if you need it, if you don't know what the hell you are doing, you are opening up a nasty can of worms.

Suzanna Gratia-Hupp's testamony video of her telling why she thinks people should be allowed to concealed carry after she was involved in a spree killing incident as a victim. It's an interesting statement.

They offer a document with seven things you absolutely have to know if you are going to concealed carry a handgun:
  • When, do I have to shoot? - Knowing when to draw and fire. NEVER draw a gun as a warning, a bluff, or if you do not intend to kill. MAYBE, you can simply show your gun in its holster (and please, use a holster, putting a gun in your pants or pocket is unprofessional and can get you killed). If you draw a gun, especially if you aim it at someone, you need to have the mindset that you will kill that person, you have to be ready to squeeze that trigger, and you have to be prepared to kill them if necessary. Aim for the center body mass. IF your gun is aimed at someone in this scenario, they are going to die in a second or less, but if there is anyway you can NOT pull that trigger, that has to be a consideration. However, that being said, if you draw on them (and best not to get into a "quick draw" with someone, it's best to pull if they aren't looking at you, your mindset of their dying in a second, can be paramount in the possibility of their laying down their arms. Just don't expect it or depend on it, or you can get killed yourself. If they have killed someone and go to aim at you, I would suggest giving strong thought to squeezing and firing. Again, nothing like a professional giving you training on this (practice, practice, practice) before you have to deal with it.
  • Training - Did I say to get a good professional trainer? Train. Have I mentioned you should Practice, regularly.This isn't the same as carrying a flashlight. This is a lethal weapon we're talking about here.
  • The 21 foot rule - "The 21-foot rule is also known as the Tueller Drill, named after Dennis Tueller, a police officer with the Salt Lake City Police Department who asked the question: “How close is too close?” He essentially quantified the distance that an attacker can cover in
    the same time that a defender can draw his pistol and fire a shot on target. He found that the distance of 21 feet can be covered in 1.5 seconds. This is the standard by which many defensive shootings have been measured. Shoot too soon, you are criminally liable. Shoot too late, you risk injury or death. There is very little margin for error." For myself, I've seen a martial artist, granted in a dojo, have someone draw a (fake) handgun on them, 15 feet away, and the guy with the handgun, lost. Something to think about when you are the one holding the cards, or better, the gun. Don't have false confidence. Don't let them get too close, but ask yourself, what IS too close.
  • 10 seconds to fight - if you  need to draw, you may only have a 1,000th of a second to decide, draw and fire, but if you are hit, you may only have 10 seconds to react, possibly to save yourself, and others. TV and movies, are NOT reality. I have a rule of thumb on this, if you try to kill someone, they will not die; if you only want to simply harm or fight someone, they will probably accidentally die. Shooting someone, does not kill them. You have to shoot them correctly, and possibly maybe many times. You may even have to empty your gun in a situation like this but, did they have a partner? Think, Columbine High School.
  • Handgun retention - the art and science of defeating an attempt to disarm the legitimate
    wearer of the gun. If someone has a gun, you CAN take it away if you know how, and practice it (I'm not suggesting this, I'm just saying it can be done); likewise, they can take yours from you. Every year there are many people who are shot with their own handgun. If you consider the speed it can take to think and react to fire a gun, it's been proven, you CAN (it's possible) take action against an assailant before they can react. The best way to do this however, is not to let them know you exist. If someone is on a shooting spree in my office and one or more people have gone down (not that I'd have a gun at work, after all, they are not allowed, think about THAT for a minute), so let's say the spree is in someone else's office, I'm NOT telling him a damn thing if I am carrying, he will die without even knowing where the bullet came from. After all, I am NOT a cop. Now that being said, I MIGHT give him warning, but if he even sweats, my gun will go off and he will go down. But then I am me, and you are you. It's to be burned in YOUR mind the rest of your life, no matter what you do on a day like that. Maybe I'll give warning, maybe I won't, it will all depend upon the exact scenario going on at that moment, to decide what I would do.
  • The one armed draw - practicing a draw before you need it, is a necessity; being able to draw with either hand, can be life saving. If you draw, always try to use two hands, for stability, especially if you're adrenalin is pumping, your hands are shaking, you will need that stable aim, then squeeze and fire smoothly. Try NEVER to fast draw on someone. Yes, you may need to, if you are going to die anyway, do it. Even if they hit you, you don't have to die for no reason, die by stopping them from harming any others. Don't be a martyr, unless you can stop them. But then that, is up to you as to what to do. But if I know I'm going to die, I am NOT going alone if I can help it and no one is going to die after I do, if it is at all possible.
  • Arrested after the draw - Even if you are innocent and perfectly in your rights, if you draw a gun, especially if you shoot and probably if you harm or kill, you may be arrested. You may also be released shortly thereafter but many do not realize that they can be arrested for doing what was right and correct. Do NOT scream at the cops, they are just doing their job, they have to sort out what very well may be an absolute mess. And that takes time to figure out what happened. If you pull a gun for whatever reason (and you may be let go on the spot, but you will still need to give a statement), expect that your life stops, until this is cleared up.
  • The cost of Defense - Legal defense, not armed defense. "A private defense attorney will charge you a hefty retainer to even initiate a defense, as much as $50,000 or more, depending on what he believes he will need to spend to defend you. The money is usually paid up front, because once an attorney becomes the attorney of record, he likely cannot be dismissed from the case
    just because you ran out of money to pay him. He is in it for the long haul. If you don’t have the money, some form of collateral will be established, like titles to your cars, your gun collection,
    expensive jewelry, or even your equity in your house. In addition to attorney’s fees, you [may] will need to pay a private investigator to investigate for you. You see, the investigation the police do is intended to convict people of crimes, not to exonerate them [although, that may be part of their investigation by it's nature]. You need your own investigator to help prove your innocence. Figure on $5,000 for this. You will also likely need experts, and perhaps lots of them."
I would add two more, lesser important but still extremely important, elements: 
  • When do I carry? - I always thought of it this way, if I feel like I'm not sure, if I think maybe I shouldn't, I don't. If I'm not sure, if I feel like maybe I should, I do. Most times, you just know and don't think about it. If I'm carrying a lot of money for instance, for some reason. Riding a motorcycle cross country, knowing you'll be at stop lights, in a city, in the middle of the night, things like that. When you are vulnerable, basically. That goes to the core of intent, you have to feel 100% into what you are doing, if not, better perhaps to take the chance of needing it, and not have it. Concurrently, if you feel the opposite, better to have it available. I also believe that if you are going to carry at all, you really need to carry for a while, as much as possible, until it becomes a part of you, second nature, then you can stop carrying all the time. It's like with wearing a suit. I always wore a suit like I was out of place. It was uncomfortable, it felt weird. So I started wearing it to work, "weirding" everyone out which was fun ("is he trying for another job? What's going on with him?"), but I did that for about six months until I felt like it was a part of me. Then I stopped. Now when I put on a suit I look better and feel better, I feel, "natural" wearing it. Carrying a gun is uncomfortable. You have to get the right holster, the right position, location on your body, with concerns to your draw, concealability, etc. What looks good walking, can be uncomfortable sitting. Do you need speed of draw, concealability, does the size/weight/shape of the gun mean you need a certain kind of holster? And so on.
  • What do I carry? -  You might want to get a trainer first, and let them help you choose. That being said, it depends upon several issues. What might you run into? How skilled are you? What are the chances you expect to run into (not that you can plan that, but still....) what kinds of situations? Will you use it for home defense too? It's legal to carry on your own property in most states and in your own home. There is a lot of disagreement in the field of what to carry and what the term "firepower" refers to; is it more, smaller cartridges, more powerful but fewer cartridges, or many powerful and many numbers of cartridges? You can always carry extras in "speed loaders" for revolvers, or extra magazines for semi-autos. But all you need to kill someone, and we're talking about killing, disabling if possible, but in many cases, that can get you killed. Do you use a revolver or a (semi) automatic? Where do you carry it? How much is concealment important to you as it relates to comfort and speed of the draw. DO not try to "shoot the gun out of their hand", do try to kill, and there are a few reasons for this. Why shoot if you're not going to kill, why pull a gun out if you don't need to kill?
All it really takes to kill is a small caliber weapon, a .22 or .32. Bullets kill through different means, bouncing around in the skull's brain chamber, or blowing the head completely apart. Although most people want massive firepower for the latter effect. The reasoning is, if you kind of hit them, you take them down, stop them, or kill them. But the bigger the caliber, the more people the bullet will possibly go through.

When you are in public, or at home especially, you want to limit that, so there are bullets such as frangible or hollow point bullets, that transfer more of the impact power to the body and stop more quickly rather than pass on through when they strike something, as a "hard ball" round will. If it passes through someone, much of that power passes through with them, rather than impacting the body.

In fact, if you are doing home defense, I would strongly advise against even using a handgun. Get a nice short shotgun. Especially if you are small, a woman, or old. That's not sexist, it's reality. If you break into someone's home and you walk into a guy, or a guy with a gun, you're in trouble, but he may try to hold you for the police. If you run into a woman, especially if she's alone, she's probably scared and knows she may be easily outmatched.


Consider you just broke in, and you are now looking down the barrel of a shotgun with a scared individual behind it. DO NOTHING. DO whatever she says. Nothing is scarier than the sound of a 12 gauge pump action shotgun in the dark with a scared woman behind it or a small man, worse if they are old, or a kid; the point is, anyone that has reason to be afraid, because fear holding a gun at you, well, there's nothing scarier. If you do go for a shotgun and someone breaks in, call 911, then if you have to, lock the buttstock under your arm, use the right shells so they tend not to pass through the walls and kill you family or, well, if you can, it's best really to simply run out of the house....

The image above shows penetration over 12" which is deeper than most people are, meaning, you can run a bullet through a person and kill the person behind them. Ricochets are also to be considered. The FBI did a study years ago and ricochets off the ground tend to run parallel to the ground so lying on the ground is not always the best situation.

Consider noise levels. One will usually shoot in a gun range, with ear and eye protection, and you should, but if you EVER use a gun in an emergency, there will be no protection (try keeping your mouth open and your Eustachian tubes in your inner ear unplugged).

So, if you don't carry a gun and you are the type who is responsible and rational, you might consider it. If you do carry a gun now, get more training. If you are going to carry a gun, get used to it, really used to it; get used to it to the point that it seems like an extension of your body, or else you are putting everyone into some degree of danger. Think about the stories you may have heard about basketball players being told by the coach to carry the ball with them for the first weeks or months, even sleeping with it, so it becomes a part of them. I'm not saying, sleep with your gun, it's a simile.

Again, I don't mean to be advocating carrying a weapon. I know it may sound like it. But I also don't mean to ignore the reality of how the world is, or that people do and are carrying. And I know there are people out there who it would be nice if they did carry because they are the types you wish were carrying in some situations. I know some people that always want a gun on them. Seems paranoid to me. I've found in many cases, I can find a weapon, if I needed on, in the environment around me, wherever I am. The best weapon is (honestly? almost) always with you: your brain.

If you are going to carry, simply do it smart.

Think about it. Prepare for it. Find out what professionals say about it. Know what you are doing and what you might have to do. Practice until it's second nature. Know your responsibilities. Go into it wide awake and aware, knowledgeable and practiced, not "eyes wide shut". Do not drink if you are carrying a gun. Partying and guns don't mix. If you are doing anything questionable, don't carry a gun. If police find you with a gun and drugs or alcohol, it goes far worse for you. So use that brain.

But if you do carry, please, be damn sure you know what you are doing. I might be the guy on the other side of the killer, who you accidentally shoot. And I don't want to hear, "I'm so sorry, I didn't see you standing there." You should have. And I still have other things to do in my life.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Is it time to change the Constitution?

Is it time to change the U.S. Constitution?


It's something to think about. For most Americans, even the thought of this is traitorous. Yet, we've revised it twenty-seven times with amendments. So, times do change, and when you consider the original was written with the consideration of a few united States and a few representatives, with expectations of the U.S. growing, there was no way the Founding Fathers could have foreseen appropriately what we would turn into, or what we would be dealing with, not to mention, how new technologies and World Politics would be changing.
Idealized Artist's view of the signing the US Constitution


If they could have foreseen these things, considering how well they have done already with their actual foresight, how amazing could things have been up to this point. Many of the things we deal with now were in place back then, World politics, commerce, considerations for Human Rights, etc.

But have things changed that much that we need at least a few more revisions, or a rewrite?

Don't worry, I don't think we should rewrite it. Still, it is a consideration we should at least think about, as that can give us the insight as to where to make changes, and what we may need to do now.
Iceland's Althing parliament

Consider Iceland. They have the oldest continuous parliament in the world. Their Althing or Alþingi, is the oldest one still in use, was formed in 930 by Vikings. Although, the Isle of Man has the oldest continuous parliament in the world. The Althing, the Icelandic parliament, is older, but it did not function for a number of years, so it is not the oldest continuous government.Some dispute that, as for 45 years they did not function. So let's review that oldest claim just for fun.
Tynwald

Wikipedia: "Tynwald is usually said in the Isle of Man to be the oldest parliament in continuous existence in the world, having been established by 979 (though its roots may go back to the late 9th century as the thing of Norse raiders not yet permanently resident on the island) and having continued to be held since that time without interruption.  Isle of Man is a self-governing British Crown Dependency, located in the Irish Sea between the islands of Great Britain and Ireland, within the British Isles.
Faroese Løgting- Outside

"There are other parliaments which are undoubtedly older but these have not had a continuous existence. The Icelandic Alþingi was established in 930 but abolished in 1800 and not re-founded until 1845.

Faroese Løgting - in se

The Faroese Løgting is believed to be older than both Tynwald and Alþingi, having been established as early as the 9th century and recorded as an annual assembly in the 10th century. San Marino, a country situated on the Italian peninsula on the eastern side of the Apennine Mountains, also claims that its parliament dates from AD 301, making it several centuries earlier than the claims of the Norse assemblies. Tynwald's claim to have continuous existence as a legislative body is disputed. From the 11th to the 15th centuries, Tynwald was arguably a judicial court and did not create legislation."

That now behind us, I think we can agree, Iceland's been around for a time. They last updated their constitution in 1947, now they think enough has changed that they need to do it again. They are staying vital in their government. They are essentially rewriting their constitution, asking their 350,000 citizens on Facebook what should go into this new constitution.


I'm thinking Fareed Zakaria was right today in asking, do we need another new constitution. If so, why, and how does it need to be changed? He has asked his viewers to suggest three changes. On the other hand, consider American's track record in making good decisions in recent years, I shudder to think if we allowed our citizens to rewrite the Constitution, what nonsense they would put into it, what with their feeling so entitled to anything they want.

I have to say, am so glad we have what we have in place now and that it was written at a time when we paid more attention to what needs to be done for the long term. I get the feeling now a days that even when we do make long term decisions, we only THINK they are long term but in reality their duration is only a few years, or decades, not the long haul.

Not to mention, if only those in positions of power would give us back what we have lost over the years. Do you realize how many in congress don't know what is in the constitution if you ask them?

So, what do you think? Is it time? What would you choose to add? What three things would you add to the
Constitution?

I don't know if we really need to change our constitution, but we certainly need some changes put in place. The problem I feel though, is that if we make any changes, they will end up being the wrong ones. So maybe it's best to leave well enough alone and simply continue to limp along, happy, fat, and ignorant.