December 15, 2012
I cried a lot yesterday. Today, I kept it together until I read about a little boy who said he knew karate so he'd lead the way out of the hiding place where a teacher and students were hunkered down during the shooting.
That made me laugh, then cry. It made me laugh because I know a few little boys who would totally say something like that. It made me cry for the same reason. Also, it perfectly illustrates the innocence that has been lost in Newtown: a little boy thinking his karate moves would protect him and his friends from a bad man with a gun.
None of us want a kid like that to ever learn he'd be wrong.
December 14, 2012
Nothing can be done to eliminate all risks of school violence, but I have some suggestions to help lower those risks.
1. School entries should be unlocked during the 15-20 minutes before and after school, with staff stationed at doors to watch those who enter and exit. For the rest of the school day, people need to be "buzzed in" to enter. Security cameras and intercom systems will need to be installed to facilitate this.
2. All interior doors should be able to be locked from the inside with a key and master switch. (For fire safety, etc, they should be able to be opened from the inside.) There should be a window in the door with bullet-proof glass, allowing those inside to see out and those outside (i.e., rescue workers) to see in.
3. Master switch(es?) in the office that can close and lock all interior doors. PA announcement automatically goes out to alert everyone the doors have been locked and to please shelter in place until further notice. Police automatically notified when doors are locked.
4. Drills every quarter for all safety procedures.
Yes, these will cost money. Yes, school districts are strapped for cash. Yes, it is worth the expense. Some schools already do some of these things. I'm saying all schools should do all of them. They are not controversial and they can be done quickly.
I am open to other suggestions. I realize this will not prevent all violence. Nothing can prevent all violence. A nutter with a rifle could pick kids off in a school playground at recess. I reject the idea that we should turn schools into prisons where no one can get in or out, but I believe the above suggestions are viable without being over-the-top.
July 22, 2012
The Right to Bear Arms
(I always read bear as in ursidae, but let's not begin with a digression.)
The Second Amendment is basically the right to protect your family and home with force against those who would harm them.
A lot of people choose to believe the odds are on their side, and that this will never be necessary. Alternately, they believe the odds are against them and their own gun would harm their own family.
Others would rather be prepared for the worst case scenario.
Personally, I have no problem with the right of law-abiding Americans to own guns. I also have no problem with reasonable requirements being met before the sale of a firearm.
What I do take issue with is the rhetoric from both sides. They feed on fear and ignorance.
The truth is, we don't have a gun problem--we have a cultural problem. If you look at Sweden, for example, they have a very high percentage of gun owners but a low rate of homicides. Even looking state-by-state, New Hampshire has a low rate of homicides (.9 per 100,000 people in 2009) while Louisiana is sky-high (12.3 per 100,000 people in 2009). Neither Louisiana nor New Hampshire require permits or registration to own handguns, and both are shall-issue concealed carry states.
The District of Columbia has extremely strict gun laws, and their 2009 homicide rate was 24.2 per 100,000 people. To be fair, they don't have a low-crime rural population to balance them out like a state would, but New York City's murder rate with only slightly less stringent gun laws was 5.6 per 100,000 people in 2009.
Drugs are illegal, yet somehow anyone who is so inclined manages to get ahold of them; I doubt a ban on guns would be much different. Gun violence is an issue that goes much deeper than gun control: what we need to do is figure out the root of the problem and work on that.
June 08, 2012
Back in The Day, the government's official papers were bound by red twill tape...giving us the phrase "cutting through the red tape".
Today, you can own actual government red tape.
December 06, 2011
A British soldier may have had a chance to kill Hitler in WWI. The story is interesting, and he "was always haunted by an act of decency to an indecent man."
(h/t OMG Facts)
November 19, 2011
Some of you may have watched Iowa State upset Oklahoma State last night. That upset took place at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, Iowa. Jack Trice Stadium is the only Division I football stadium named after an African American.
Jack Trice played just one game for Iowa State University, so why would the stadium be named for him? Because he played that game in 1923, when some colleges and universities refused to even play against an opposing team with black players.
Trice's only game was against the University of Minnesota. The night before the game, Trice had to stay in a different hotel from his teammates because of racial segregation in Minneapolis. He wrote a letter to himself that night, which would be read at his funeral 11 days later.
During the game, Trice's collarbone was broken, but he played on. Later in the game, Trice was trampled by three Minnesota players after he blocked one of their teammates. He died two days later of internal bleeding from injuries sustained during that incident. It was never resolved whether Trice's injuries were accidentally or purposely inflicted, and Iowa State refused to play the University of Minnesota again until 1989.
It should be noted that it was repeated efforts by the Iowa State students that finally got Jack Trice's name on their stadium in 1997. Students in the 70s tried to get their new stadium named for him, but the University's President named it Cyclone Stadium instead. Iowa State students got the playing field named Jack Trice Field in the 80s, and raised money for the Jack Trice statue that stands outside the gates. Their renewed efforts to change the stadium name in the 90s paid off.
November 08, 2011
Easter Island Statues' Bodies
A look at the body of one Easter Island statue, plus links to more info here.