Saturday, January 26, 2013

Keep it Real, Gun Owners

Recently, NRA and media have started talking about this incident that occurred in Georgia. A woman was at home with her children when an intruder with a crowbar came into their home. She locked the children and called her husband. He talked her through using the handgun to shoot the intruder, just as she had been trained. She shot the man until he was down and escaped the house with her children.

I'm happy this situation turned out well for her. She had her wits about her, she had been trained and she had a handgun.

That's where I think the national conversation goes astray. The discussion at hand is not confiscation of guns, but of regulation. No one is repealing the 2nd Amendment or diminishing the right to bear arms.

I have been reading articles on both sides of the debate, and I have yet to see someone eloquently explain why a civilian should own a military weapons.

The 2nd Amendment says I'm allowed to have whatever I want.

The first Amendment protects the right to free speech. But, Justice Oliver Wendall Holmes said: "The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic."  The 2nd Amendment doesn't allow you to bring a machine gun into a theatre. As a society there has be some mutual acknowledgment of boundaries.

I need to protect myself against tyrannical government

If we had a dictatorship in this country and the government was plowing down buildings, as they are in Syria, there'd be a justification for it. If we had government controlled media and access to basic resources that lead to crimes against humanity, as is the case in North Korea, I'd understand.

It's a shame that there are Americans who feel so stifled by the government and any laws. I do agree against overbearing government laws. I don't want the government to define whether adults can get married or not. I don't want the government to dictate medical procedures and constraints around decisions that should be between the individual and the physician. I'm extremely horrified that some states require doctors to perform ultrasounds to women who will be terminating pregnancies. And, I'm extremely saddened that women's healthcare centers are considered political chess pieces.

King George III is gone. In today's society, the best way to combat tryannical government is through education and cohesive action at the community level - not with guns.

Good gun owners don't kill. It's the mentally ill and illegally obtained weapons.

That's brilliant of Republicans to come up with this argument. Who is paying for the psychiatric healthcare required? What about the expensive drugs required for treatment? What's the role of pharmaceuticals in this debate? If they want to go down this path, they better be ready to support everything with it.

Give teachers guns, get rid of the 'gun free zones'.

The argument is to put up a sign on your house "gun free zone". Would you do that? It's like welcoming someone to come get you.

However, I heard an interesting argument yesterday by Michael Moore. If you have someone who is deranged and ready for a mass shooting spree, if you tell them there is an armed guard there, they would love it. This is a challenge for them. So, it's not necessarily protection, but an invitation.

Also, teachers don't need to handle guns. God knows their jobs are difficult, they're underpaid and underappreciated. Hire an armed guard. Sure, cities like Detroit and Philadelphia are shutting schools down due to lack of funding. They don't have money for books, which is a school's primary function. Who is paying for guards? Teachers do not need guns. End of discussion.

By the way, President Reagan was surrounded by high security guards, yet he was still attacked by a gunman in 1981.

The Open Dialogue

The gun control dialogue has surged. I'm excited that people are talking about this, and extremely happy that Obama Administration has taken command of this and set regulations in place. (See the slideshow)

By the way, for those who feel Obama overreaching liberties (bordering on tyranny) to pass these laws, remember that President Bush had slipped into the Patriot Act the right to wiretap into suspected terrorists. This seems right agains the 4th Amendment which guards against unreasonable searches and seizures, along with requiring any warrant to be judicialy sanctioned and supported by probable cause.

 "One failed attempt at a shoe bomb, and we all take off our shoes at the airport. Thirty One school shootings since Columbine and no change in our regulation of guns" - John Oliver.


Saturday, January 19, 2013

Woody Allen's "To Rome with Love" Review

We're big Woody Allen fans - I love "Sleeper" and "Annie Hall", as my top favorites. Though "Midnight in Paris" is absolute perfection. There's not one flaw in it from cinematography, acting, storyline and concept.

So, we were eager  to see how "To Rome with Love" played out. The visuals of Rome are stunning. The monuments, ruins, the architecture are displayed in sharp colors. It actually looks a lot cleaner and less crowded than we remember it. However, cinema tends to do that. Bollywood movies take place in Mumbai, and when you go to Nariman Point, you're overwhelmed by the crowds. I can't take a picture of the scene, let alone film a song there without fifty people in it.

As for "To Rome", there were few main storylines that split out but don't connect. Maybe I should do a Visio flowchart on this?

- Hayley and Roman (2)
        - Hayley's parents come (Woody Allen and ..woot..woot.. Judy Davis)
               - Hayley's parents meet Roman's family (+2)    

- The Italian newlyweds who go in different directions
        - Bride's adventures (+few)
        - Groom's adventures (+ Penelope Cruz)

- Average Italian family man entanglement with fame

- Two young Americans in Rome
         - Friend and Alec Baldwin come visit (+2)

- Throw in some misplace Romans as muses

So there - I've laid out the stories and they don't intertwine or anything. We tried to figure out any kind of theme underneath it -- You think you desire something, but when you get it you don't want it? You're happy with status quo? There's no place like home, Toto?

There's also Woody Allen's babbling neurotic dialogue. Every very movie has "the Woody Allen" character and Jesse Eisenberg got awarded that, complete with the hunched shoulders while walking.
If you like the usual white Windsor font on black background, amusing music and delightful scenes of Rome and delicious Roman people, it's enjoyable. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Run With It (Addendum)

After I wrote that last post on Sunday, I went to my first cardio kickboxing class at the gym. The last time I took kickboxing was about 1999, when the craze started at gyms. I was overwhelmed and pretty much wrote it off. I took lots of other classes, but stayed away from kickboxing.
Now, I can't be as picky and need to look for classes that fit my schedule. This one did. The teacher was great and was aware of the newbies like myself in the class. She was looking at me when she told the class it was ok if anyone felt the need to stop if they felt like throwing up or something.

Anyway, since I had just writtent he post about not giving up, I stayed on track with the workout. My challenge with the workout is the sequence of moves and remembering right jab, left hook, touch the floor, kick it left, roundhouse right, and do it again double time. I felt like I need some memory exercises as well!

So, I kept in mind my favorite line from "The Odd Life of Timothy Green." In the movie, the boy performed extremely badly at soccer and his coach reamed him for it. He smiled and said, "I can only get better."

As I did my kicks, feeling as if my leg was going to snap from the hip like Barbie's, I kept thinking "I can only get better" and smiled. Just a bit of positive thoughts really helped. There were 100 negative thoughts I could've entertained myself with (e.g., the instructor probably had 1% body fat in her muscular self while I have.. cough.. more than that.. even the Asian grandma next to me is getting into the groove better than me.

So, I walked out of their remindimg myself I have "opportunities for improvement." Looking forward to next Sunday!

By the way, it took me 3 days to recover from the class and be able to move without pain. It was just in time for my zumba class tonight. My instructor had no bones in her body; she moved like she was made of springs.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Run with It!

Disclaimer: South African Oscar Pistorius is not a marathon runner. However, he's the most inspiring image for this post. 

 We've all heard the phrase - Life is a marathon, not a sprint.

Marathon means running and endurance. Our life is not to just subsist and exist every day, but to get stronger and make progress. The sprinter needs to get to their short term goal quickly. Marathoners can take their time. And, they don't always make it or they may get broken along the way, physically or spiritually. The ones who break through the end have that look of incredulous pride as they're running with that ribbon stuck on their chest.

Everyone's running a marathon. I'm not referring to a physical running marathon a la "Chariots of Fire." We've got our own variations of marathons. We all have our paths in life. We have personal goals whether it's to lose 20 pounds or come up with the next Facebook concept or have a cupcake shop or just get into the corner office. Everyone's fired up this part of early January. Making changes in diet, exercise, careers to name a few. I do have a friend who is keeping his goals achievable by claiming his resolution is to try and drink scotch. 

1. First Step: I always joke that the hardest part about working out is tying sneakers. Really, once you get the shoes on, you can move forward with your intentions. When you've identified what your first step needs to be, it's bloody hard to do it. Sometimes it catches you off guard that you're being pushed into your first step. All you can do is take a deep breath and keep moving.

2. Stumbles: It's frustrating when you do feel like you're losing steam and not even sure why you're doing this. Somehow there's always something positive - perhaps very small - that happens that encourages you to stay on your path. These are the cups of cool water that are passed to marathoners. Runners drink or pour the water on their heads and keep going. Those are the little positive perks that remind you that you're not in it alone.

3. Are We There Yet?:  I'm in the middle of my own marathon right now - trying to keep my eye on the goal. It's frustrating because changes are not happening as quickly as I want. However, I've been encouraged recently that seeds I planted earlier are blossoming now. We have to go through this leg to learn patience and endurance.

4. Take a Look Back: Sometimes you don't know how far you've come, until you look behind you to see where you started. There needs to be an introspection and a time to congratulate and acknowledge your progress. You could be upset you've only lost 1lb after a week of hard work and have more to go. However, that 1 lb is 4 sticks of butter. That's amazing!

5: Finish Line: I'm not sure if there is a finish line. We are always realigning ourselves to new goals and achievements. If we don't, then there's no point in living.

I've seen many people who have lost that fire for their personal marathons. Their dullness and negativity is overwhelming. They just exist. It's awful because life is a gift that we've been given. We wake up every morning. There are many people did not do that today. You don't just take it for granted and live day to day in sameness, letting apathy rule.

This post is to encourage those who are setting personal goals and working towards them. Last phrase that I love: Obstacles are what you see when you take your eyes off the goal.

Keep your chin up and not down. 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

As The World Ends.. (Again and Again)

 To go long with the failed Doomsday prophecies blog post, here's a graphic a reader sent me.
Seems that historically there have always been folks worried about the end of the world. It's as if you could enjoy life, but you still must live in fear of it suddenly being snatched from you. And, once that fear overcomes you, that's become a new goal. So, it's a bizarre cycle - the need to have a goal which happens to be the end. The best part of these naysayers is that the morning after the failed prophecy, they just dust off and realign their deadline to a new schedule. I wonder if anyone ever used MS Project for this?

Source: Badgets in Bed Infographic

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Fear and Consumption

The news has been saturated with violence, like bacteria that starts from within and turns into a plague. I feel like I've just been crying watching the news from the shootings of innocents in the US to mourning the little sister who was brutally raped and murdered in Delhi. I could dive into discussions on both topics, but I'll steer straight onto the situation in the US with violence.

They've been broadcasting "Bowling for Columbine" on TV since the Newtown, CT school shooting. It's amazing that this documentary was done in 2002 and all the observations are relevant, only the statistics would have changed. I saw this film years ago and ironically, since the gun control debates have kicked up, I was actually seeking BFC information. What exactly was the reason for increased gun violence in US, while Canada touts more hunters and they watch the same TV shows and video games?

In my mind, the answer comes from an unlikely source, Marilyn Manson. Here is the quote:

"... I think that's really ironic, that nobody said 'well maybe the President had an influence on this violent behavior' Because that's not the way the media wants to take it and spin it, and turn it into fear, because then you're watching television, you're watching the news, you're being pumped full of fear, there's floods, there's AIDS, there's murder, cut to commercial, buy the Acura, buy the Colgate, if you have bad breath they're not going to talk to you, if you have pimples, the girl's not going to fuck you, and it's just this campaign of fear, and consumption, and that's what I think it's all based on, the whole idea of 'keep everyone afraid, and they'll consume."

We've spent the 2012 being afraid. If Obama wins, the world will end as we know it and all of our freedoms and liberties will be plucked from us. If we hit December 21st, there will be an apocalyptic end to the world. And, oh good Lord, let's not forget the Fiscal Cliff we'll go over at midnight.
There's such a fear permeated through the media.

Marilyn is right about the commercials. They start off asking "are you victim of .." - being fat, having ear wax and using q-tips, having to chop vegetables by hand, etc. It starts at this level and then it goes to the news broadcasts. "Do you know what germs are lurking in your food?"

The common response by gun owners is that they have a gun to protect themselves. Why do they need the guns? They've been fed a steady diet of fear. This is the part I do not understand. If the US were under siege by its own government, as is the case in Syria, one should definitely have a gun. The rebels are defending their homes and families any way they can. In Yemen and other middle eastern countries, there's urgent situations and every day violence. I'm not seeing how or why middle-America with a Subway and Dunkin Donuts needs to have guns to protect themselves.

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the
right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

As for the 2nd amendment, I've been doing some more reading into the history of the right to bear arms. Historically, people needed to protect themselves against the tyrannical rulers of the day. There would be a citizen's army versus the royal army. Also, the colonialists had British soldiers raiding their homes and again, it was a need of protection. The country was full of rebels breaking from the current regime.

In the gun debate with the 2nd amendment umbrella, it's important to note that in 18th century, they were using muskets. A skilled musketeer could possibly reload twice in a minute. We're not talking about the 21st century military weapons that make it possible to kill so many people so quickly.

Yes there are wackos and could come after innocent people with knives and axes. However, the difference is the survival rates are higher for a weapon, other than a gun. A gun's intention is to kill.

I don't believe stringent gun laws will be the immediate remedy. Right now, it's critical to get the guns off the streets. I hear reports regularly on the radio about inner city Philadelphia crimes - drive by shootings where bystanders are shot in their homes. We could talk about preventive measures, but the disease has already been spread and needs to be cured.

Circling back to my primary argument about the Fear and Consumption mentality of this country, it does make sense. Jon Stewart has made a career out of dissecting Fox News propaganda of fear. He did a whole show about the War against Christmas. Shouldn't there be an actual news story on the news? If they don't find a fear propagating story, they may lose their raison d'etre.