TT#184 - More Super Tuesday

I am very tired from work and redoing my office, so this will be more of a time capsule entry than any real analysis. For more analysis watch this weeks ORLYRADIO show # 101.

At the time of this writing:

Republicans: Kasich predictably took Ohio, Trump won Florida, making Rubio quit the race. Trump is also favored in Illinois, Missouri, and North Carolina. If Ted gets any winnings they will be scraps from the billionaire's plate.  This does leave the GOP with the unenviable task of choosing a... how can I put this to where it is the most historically accurate... Fascist Andy Kaufman impression and a dominionist apocalyptic Eddie Munster son of a preacher man who is perfectly fine watching the world burn if it means the world gets to have Jesus back. I weep for the future. Oh... And there is the voice of reason, Kasich, who can't possibly win, because he may actually be sane. 

Democrats: Clinton has had a strong showing and is predicted to take all the states but not all the delegates. The Democrats like to award partials rather than a winner take all approach that the GOP favors. The tally at midnight could be different as it is being called early based on exit polls, but so far, this is pretty decisive for Clinton based on the earned delegates. She has added approximately 150 delegates to her lead on Sanders. Sanders needs California and New York, and needs them big, to compete with the media and majesty of the lady in waiting. Still a chance, but it is growing slimmer by the day.

There were a whole lot of Cruz and Trump signs in my precinct and around the state as I was driving today. This is why I am having a drink and hoping it was all a bad dream.

Topic Tuesday #128 2014/12/30 - "Allow populace to come to a boil, then simmer"

Topic Tuesday #128 2014/12/30 - "The Enemy is Fear"

I am little more than an armchair quarterback, and at most I play at being a pundit. I sit here and pluck headlines and talk about them. Some of them are more obscure or more interesting than others, on purely personal notes of interest. This Tuesday, I want to offer something on the state of violence that has permeated our media, and thereby our minds.  

Once upon a time I was interested in serving the people. I wanted to make a difference and I was thinking that the way to go about that was to go into law enforcement. Yes, I do have a great respect for the law and follow the process with great interest, even if you may find my other commentary to the contrary. I did just a little cursory examination of life in law enforcement and I changed my mind. I discovered that I have a greater respect for life (particularly my own) than for the law. Call it a fear of lead... I had/have no desire to be shot at. I also did not join the armed services, much for the same reasons. I have become a conscientious objector over the years. I prefer diplomatic solutions to blunt force trauma. 

Sometimes force is what is needed. For that, there are men and women that are more daring than I. I have great respect for those that would put themselves on the line for justice. 

This year, more than others in memory, has been divisive to the armed and the unarmed. We have Open Carry of long arms and small, we have school shootings, riots, and crazy men taking it into their own hands to perform vigilante justice on the streets verses the ones that have stepped up to keep the peace. 

There have been many deaths at the hands of law enforcement over the years. This we know intrinsically. For some this sense of foreboding is ever present. Racial tensions and stereotyping are still very strong in 2014 and they will not be less in 2015. There are facts that are being manipulated by the powerful and the weak to make people dance to the right tune. 

This is nothing new. The results, on the otherhand, are. 

I implore everyone of my readers to be aware of what is going on, but to not act rashly. We are slow animals that are trying to react to too much too quickly. We are being run like a herd of cattle, by fear of predators. The trouble is, we don't know who the real threats are. 

Threat detection is a key to a species survival. Typically, animalistic tendencies take the greatest of our subconscious attentions to protect us. That weird feeling of unease you get right before being snuck up on, or attacked from the side. The number one problem that our species has today is, in my opinion, threat overload. Again, our brains are only able to hold so many things in them at any given time. We don't really multitask very well, though we can keep things rolling nicely. We have too many data points to keep track of. How many new credit cards did you get this year because of hacks? Half a dozen of these and that's just the tip of the iceberg. There is so much trying to control our threat detection... We are afraid of our own shadows. 

Everyone is. The ones that put themselves on the firing lines of the world, are just the same - but they expect to be shot at too. No one really wants to be harmed. Self preservation kicks into high gear and we react. Some... shoot first. 

I am saddened by the tragedy that has been raking the nation, but I fear it is not as tragic as it could be. We have unprecedented access to information. Sometimes it is too much. Sometimes, it poses more questions that requires even more information.

With the troubles we have with the police, they are scared of the population they serve. They are taking measures that seem quite justified to those that feel threatened. Get bigger guns, get armor, build up defenses. It is no wonder they look like the military.  

The other side of the coin is the populace is more armed. Technology is not limited to the policing forces after all. The NRA has been pushing for a more armed populace. The GOP has been doing the same. Any attempts to make it harder to have a weapon in the hands of the civilian have been met with angry vigor and a lot of money. Now you have two sides that are built to go to war with each other. Everyone is afraid. Fear makes people do stupid things. Carelessness often follows these scenarios. People go too far. Rules are broken. People are killed. Parents shot by toddlers. Men choked by police. Babies killed by stun grenades thrown into the wrong house.

Some sense of sanity needs to be restored. We need to remember that we are little more than fearful children that just want a safe place to live. We need to remember our own humanity. 

My wish for 2015; Freedom - from fear. 
Happy New Year.

Topic Tuesday #120 2014/11/05 "Mid-Term Elections"

Topic Tuesday #120 2014/11/05 "Mid-Term Elections"

Here we are on another election day. I hope that you have done your civic duty and participated in this great experiment of democracy. I know many of you likely did not. Why do I know? Statistics. This is a “Mid-Term” election, defined loosely as an election in the middle of a presidential term. These elections on those off even years are when we typically elect our local representatives. The sixth year of a president’s tenure is typically a time of loss of seats in the House for the president’s party. The only exception for this was Clinton’s Presidency in 1998. They didn’t lose any, didn’t gain any. This is still momentous, and shortly we shall see if the average 6 seat loss holds, or we have another trend bucked.

Of note, the State legislatures present vastly more laws than what we see at the national level. And yet… most of us do not know who our State representatives are, much less the ones we send to D.C.. This is a sad state of affairs since we are being represented… by people who are largely anonymous to us. Over a thousand offices are being filled around the country this year by unopposed candidates. It could be you. Really, it could be you up there, making the calls.

But again, largely we don’t care. We don’t know who these judges are that we are asked to retain or oust. We don’t know the yahoos on the School Board. We hardly even know our own Governors.

That needs to change. Pay attention to the issues and vote. Investigate the issues. Learn. Make a stand. Help others know what is going on.

Vote.

Just vote.

Seriously… These people spend your taxes. Know who they are and hold them accountable.

I’ll see you at the polls.

Topic Tuesday #94 2014/05/06 "Equality?"

Topic Tuesday #94 2014/05/06 "Equality?"

As I pay attention more and more to the news now that I have a show that talks about it every week, I find some disturbing recurring themes. There is always violence, that has been pretty steady, with the whole, "If it bleeds it leads" mantra of news agencies around the United States. Today in the US, faith based matters dominate. Don't think so? I can see why you may think otherwise, as on the surface they seem to be other issues. Dig a little deeper, and you get to why it is an issue in the first place.

Take marriage equality, or "gay marriage" as an example. Is this a civil rights issue? Most likely. Why in the 21st century would such civil or even human rights be impinged upon? Religion. It's plain and simple. Countless articles and news stories, and the only ones causing a fuss about letting two humans marry each other, are those with a religious stake in the game. They are losing by the way, and I think that's a good thing for humanity. Eventually those that oppose gay marriage and homosexuality will fall to the side, like their predecessors did for slavery and the rights of minorities and supporters of women's suffrage (though equal pay has a ways to go...).

Take abortion, or right to life, or choose life, or any other number of phrases used to get legislation passed... If one looks at the issue from the position of medical science, there is no real question on the issue. It should remain in the hands of those trained to deal with these matters safely... Rather than those that look at it from the position of life beginning at conception or EVEN BEFORE conception in some cases... http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/10/az-abortion-bills-arizona-gestational-age_n_1415715.html Now we can get into how cells divide and what constitues a person, and when the rights of the mother are somehow less than the child she bears... But we don't need to. Really we don't. You can comment if you like and I encourage you to do so, but be very honest with your arguments.

While on abortion, we also have Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood, sueing to avoid having to pay for the contraceptive mandates within the Affordable Health Care Act. They are claiming that their publicly traded companies have a religious preference... When the entire reason to incorporate it to remove liability from an individual and make the company it's own legal entity. Now this legal entity has a religious preference. Funny how we can't imprison a company, or execute it for a crime, or even talk directly to it... Yet it holds, funny enough, the same religious views as its board of directors... So it can claim that based on its religious objection, it can withhold government mandated care from it's employees, effectively pushing their views upon others. 

If they open that door wide enough... There are monsters that lurk there. The monsters of other peoples faiths and preferences and then... laws.

Here is the problem... The separation of church and state as inferred by the 1st amendment's establishment clause,  no matter how you look at it, is there to prevent religions from hurting the rights of others by playing favorites. It's simple. Person 1 believes X. Person 2 believes Y. If you make a law that is based solely off of belief X you can infringe upon the beliefs of Person 2, because they believe Y, not X. The only way for both X and Y to co-exist peacefully is for there not to be any laws based on beliefs... A separation of law and faith; between church and state. It keep is fair. 

Now we had a recent result from the US Supreme court that narrowly sided (5 to 4) that it was permissible to have prayer before civic/government functions. All I can hope, is that the invocations/prayers come in from all faiths, equally. History tells us this won't happen and that such displays drive wedges in communities because of differing faiths. Bigotry... Faith Based Bigotry is still alive and well. And it needs to stop... 

Topic Tuesday #93 2014/04/29 "Gun Safety - Hell No!?"

Topic Tuesday #93 2014/04/29 "Gun Safety - Hell No!?"


The iP1 the first "smart gun" for sale in the United States.   Credit Monica Almeida/The New York Times

The iP1 the first "smart gun" for sale in the United States.CreditMonica Almeida/The New York Times

Last night a story came across my news feed that made me sit up and take notice. It was a beautiful fire arm that I swore was a movie prop. (See Picture) http://nyti.ms/1fHGKgi

The iP1 is quite a stunning looking pistol. It's a .22 caliber and will only fire when a 5 digit pin is input into the watch and is within 10 inches of it. As a technologist, I personally foresee the technology could be embedded in any personal item, as the watch is not as attractive as the gun, that could be a good thing for the $1,800 firearm... That is if the gun, and its technology, are ever able to make it to market. Second Amendment activists flooded social media site like Calguns.net, and called for vigilante-style investigations of Ms. Padilla and Armatix.  One user commented that he had no issues with "...the idea of personally and professionally leveling the life of someone who has attempted to profit from disarming me and my fellow Americans."

The gun lobby in the U.S. is far less concerned (and I'm not being hyperbolic) with the safety of the public than they are with the ability to manufacture and sell guns without any additional safety mechanisms, or smart technology. The company, Armatix, and its chief representative here in the states, Belinda Padila have been ostracized and harassed as part of a campaign to shut down the sale of the iP1 smart gun. They are not alone either, as just last year a study found that 3 other companies came out with a smart safety system for firearms. We haven't heard much about them either...

From the times article:

"Second Amendment defenders argue that once guns with high-tech safety features go on sale, government mandates will follow. They cite a decade-old New Jersey law requiring that within three years of the recognition technology’s becoming available in the United States, all guns sold in the state would have to be “smart.”

“Are we concerned?” asked Lawrence G. Keane, general counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for gun manufacturers. “Yes.”

The National Rifle Association, in an article published on the blog of its political arm, wrote that “smart guns,” a term it mocks as a misnomer, have the potential “to mesh with the anti-gunner’s agenda, opening the door to a ban on all guns that do not possess the government-required technology.”

Padila and Armatrix continue to look for retailers. Personally, If I was to have a gun in my house, you better believe it would be an owner recognition system. 

A friend pointed out that there may be a better marketing strategy that they missed out on. That if the caliber was the same as is used in the military and law enforcement side arms that they would have a larger target market and potential for more lateral support.  I hope Armatix is listening and coming out with a Desert Eagle equivalent. And if it looks as slick as this model, you might even see it in your next buddy cop film, unless the gun nuts get their way. Eventually, common sense should win out. There have been too many casualties and this allows people to retain their rights to bare arms and adds a layer of protection. Imagine no more accidental deaths from children shooting their siblings in the face. I would like to never see another story like that again.