This Is Me--2024 A to Z Theme

My A to Z Themes in the past have covered a range of topics and for 2024 the theme is a personal retrospective that I call "I Coulda Been" which is in reference to my job and career arc over my lifetime. I'll be looking at all sorts of occupations that I have done or could have done. Maybe you've done some of these too!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A to Z Sign Up Time Starts Today!

    Happy Birthday to me!

           It's become A to Z tradition to open the Linky List on my birthday and today is that day.

           Some of you may have already noticed that the other side of the world got a jump on us with the Linky list.   Yes, even as I prepare this post the Linky List is already filling up.  Not a problem though.  There's room for everybody and every place on the A to Z list is a good one.  So never fear if you sign on at #200 or #2000.   You'll still get visited, especially if you are visiting others.

         For those who are scratching their heads about this A to Z Challenge I recommend that you go visit the official A to Z Blog for full details.  If you still don't get it, there is a CONTACT US tab that will take you to a page where you can ask any questions you may have.  Or ask me in the comment section below.

         You'll be able to sign up any time between now and April.  The Linky List will be available on this post until Friday and then after that you'll find it by clicking the List tab at the top of this page as well as similar tabs on the A to Z Blog and the blogs of all of the other co-hosts.  In other words, the list will be all over the place so you shouldn't have any problem finding it.

          Even though you have two months to sign up, we encourage you to sign up now or as soon as you can.  Why so soon?   Well, because once bloggers start signing onto the list, the pre-Challenge party  begins.  Get yourself out there so others can find you.  Two months of mingling and meeting and greeting will allow you to get to know the other participants.   This will be favorable in helping you determine your April strategy.

          Between now and April you can start following other blogs and getting to know those bloggers.   They will likewise start following your blog.  So even though the blogging part of the Challenge begins in April, the really big part of the Challenge--visiting other blogs--starts now.  Are you ready to make new friends?  Your link on the list means you're ready to invite visitors to your blog.

           Let's go!

      This year, per many of your requests, we're introducing Blog Categories for Participants. This is entirely Optional, other than for blogs with Adult Content, which will be taken off the list unless marked (AC). 

      If you'd like to pick a category, please choose One from the list of 22 categories listed below, and add the code after your name/ blog name while signing up on the linky list. e.g. Damyanti Biswas - Amlokiblogs (WR)

     Only the codes from the following list will be admissible, in the format they are presented below, in capital letters enclosed in parentheses:  e.g. (WR)   You may sign up with just your blog name, and include one of the following codes.   But please note that once you have decided on a code, you won't have the option to change it.   Multiple entries of the same blog, and ad sites will be deleted.


1. WRITING :                          (WR)

2. BOOKS:                              (BO)

3. FILM :                                  (FM)

4. PHOTOGRAPHY:               (PH)

5. GARDENING:                     (GR)

6. CRAFT:                               (CR)

7. ART:                                    (AR)

8. MUSIC:                               (MU)

9. CULINARY:                         (CU)

10. LIFESTYLE:                      (LI )  

11. FASHION:                          (FA)

12. PERSONAL:                      (PR)

13. SOCIAL MEDIA:                (SO)

14. GAMING:                           (GA)

15. EDUCATION :                    (ED)

16. POLITICS:                          (PO)

17. HISTORY:                           (HI)

18. SCIENCE:                          (SC)

19. HUMOR:                             (HU)

20. TRAVEL:                             (TR)

21. MISCELLANEOUS:            (MI)

22. ADULT CONTENT:             (AC)

       When you sign up to the Linky List, be sure that you have the correct URL address that leads directly to the main page of your blog and not to a specific post.   You want visitors to find your April posts right?  If you haven't decided yet whether or not to do the April Challenge it's okay to wait until you're ready to sign up.   But if you know you're going to do it then sign up as soon as you can.   The Alphabet Challenge may start in April, but the visiting and networking party has already started.

Here is the list:

Sign up if you're ready.  We are ready for you!

Please read and follow the sign-up instructions outlined above so you sign onto the list correctly!   Please do not just sign up without reading and then come back to ask us to correct your errors!

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Monday, January 28, 2013

Not Just for Writers: A Helpful Guide from Frances Caballo

social media sonoma county
         Promotion has become a necessary, but often dreaded job for writers.  Getting signed with a publisher no longer guarantees that you will have their sales teams working at full force to promote your product and much of the onus of the responsibility will rest on your shoulders.   With self-publishing you own the job of promoting your product unless you have the financial resources to pay a promotional team.  Odds are you don't have that, but don't worry, Social Media Just For Writers by Frances Caballo is available to make your job a lot easier.

          The computer age provides so many possibilities for promotion, but how does one find everything that's out there?  That's where Caballo's book comes in handy.  Each of the major media platforms are presented in well organized chapters where the how-to's and the ins and out are explained in easy to understand format.  For those who know nothing about available media platforms, Caballo provides all the basics of getting started.  If you're already adept with the platform, the author offers many helpful tips to get the most out of each one.   There are hundreds of links to sites that will enhance your media experience and apps to add to each one.

          There's also a bonus of other promotional ideas that don't involve the internet.   These alone can be enough to pay for the price of the book if you find something that helps sell your own book.  Caballo's book is thorough and uncomplicated.

          Though the text is immensely readable, this is probably not a book most people will sit down to read from cover to cover.  It's a reference book that will be a valuable resource to anyone's collection.  It's probably best to look for the media platform that interests you the most and start in that chapter, following the offered suggestions and testing them to see how they work for you.   Check out some of the sites that are listed.   Some may be of no interest, while others may be just what you're looking for.  The links alone will provide hours of entertainment and hopefully valuable information that you can put to practical use.

         The biggest drawback of a book of this nature in this field is that it may become rapidly outdated.  However, I think this will not be a hindrance in the book's value for the next few years at least.  Most of the site information provided should not change that much as far as the basics and most of the links should remain intact.  Plus, the author has a website where she updates with new trends and information in the business.  In all, Caballo's resources will be of great use to many writers.

          As with any book of this kind, though geared toward writers, most of the information contained therein can be used for anyone who uses social media to promote business and these days one almost has to do this.  Bloggers and business people alike can find information applicable to their own needs in this book.  Social Media Just for Writers can actually provide ideas for anyone who has something to promote.

       I was sent  a copy of Social Media Just for Writers at no charge for the purpose of review.  The review presented in this blog post is my unsolicited opinion about this book.


About the author:

Frances Caballo is a social media trainer, strategist and blogger with more than 23 years of communications experience. Presently, she is the Social Media Editor for the Women’s National Book Association-Francisco Chapterand the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association.
Frances specializes in social media training for users of all levels; sets up and manages social media accounts for clients; provides coaching on clients’ social marketing platforms; and blogs for clients. Her newest book is Social Media Just for Writers: The Best Online Marketing Tips for Selling Your Books.

        Have you found social media to be a challenge to put into practical use for promotion?    Have you checked out Frances Caballo's book?    If so, what did you find most helpful about it?

A to Z Sign-ups Open this Wednesday!

           Wednesday is a big day.  The sign-ups for the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge 2013 will be opening.  You can find the Linky list on Tossing It Out, The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge Blog, and the blogs of all of this year's co-hosts.   Be sure to visit and follow all the blogs of my fellow A to Z co-hosts.

The co-hosts are as follows:

The Madlab Post (Nicole Ayers)
Amlokiblogs (Damyanti Biswas)
Alex J. Cavanaugh (Alex J. Cavanaugh)
Life is Good (Tina Downey)
Cruising Altitude 2.0 (DL Hammons)
Retro-Zombie (Jeremy Hawkins)
The Warrior Muse (Shannon Lawrence)
The QQQE (Matthew MacNish)
Leave it to Livia (Livia Peterson)
No Thought 2 Small (Konstanz Silverbow)
Breakthrough Blogs (Stephen Tremp)
Spunk on a Stick (L. Diane Wolfe)

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Friday, January 25, 2013

Have You Ever Stuck Your Foot Long In Your Mouth?

English: fast-food in Peterburg. Russia.
English: fast-food in Peterburg. Russia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
         I originally had a heavy topic scheduled for today--part of the series that included gun control most recently and will move on to other possible causes of violent events--but something else came up in this week's news that has really annoyed me.  It's maybe not as important as the issues related to gun bans, but then again maybe it is equally important and in some strange way related.  Though my topic today may not seem all that heavy, it is long.   I'll try to keep it short though.

         Most of you have probably heard something about the controversy involving the Subway sandwich franchise and their foot-long sub sandwiches.   Apparently they don't always measure up as advertised.  The sandwiches may actually only be 11 inches instead of the advertised length of one foot.   Now the company is being sued for cheating us out of an inch.

         Subway restaurants came into existence well into my lifetime.  The origins of the business name come from the type of deli sandwich they specialized in--the sub or submarine sandwich.  When I was a kid I can remember sub sandwiches also being referred to as "foot-longs".    These types of sandwiches were also sometimes called torpedoes, heroes, grinders, hoagies, and other regionally related terms.  They were descriptively named because it was probably easier and more colorful than calling it exactly what it was.   "Foot-long" was really more of a description of appearance and had nothing to do with precise length.

          A spokesperson from Subway used this same defense.  "Foot-long" has long (sorry) been a term used to describe the appearance of something.   We have foot-long hot dogs and foot-long burritos.  I haven't measured either of these products and I personally don't care precisely how many inches they are.  It's a matter of how long they appear to be.  They are longer than normal and that means it's something that I'm going to stick in my face and get fatter by doing it--that is if I eat too many feet worth and don't exercise properly.  But let's face it, an inch or a fraction of an inch isn't going to mean that much to my stomach.

        Okay, so maybe there's some false representation at hand when they advertise 6 inch or 12 inch subs and they should stop citing measurements if those aren't the lengths they are delivering.  I remember back in the 70's when I used to eat at a sub deli that advertised 13" subs.  I never even thought to measure them because they looked fine to me and they tasted great.  But if they were not really 13" subs then maybe advertising them as such was wrong because they were actually providing dimensions in the description.  I don't care that much about it though.  I have more important things to think about.

       So what do we do?   Start taking scales with us to fast food joints to make sure Quarter Pounders really are what they say?  But then we have to consider whether the weight is precooked meat weight or what the sandwich actually weighs as presented to us.  The legal disclaimers these companies have been required to draw up give us that information, but how many of us really study it and keep track of all of it.  When I'm hungry I just want to eat and I'm not interested in sitting down with the fast food legal rep and entering into a contract of mutual understanding of what I'm having for lunch.

         Companies should not engage in deceptive false advertising, but neither should consumers be looking at the advertising through the eyes of absolute literalism to the point where they don't recognize hyperbole and the cosmetic tactic of making things have optimal appearance when depicted in advertising.   I've never gotten a hamburger that looks  like the ones they show in television commercials.  Why don't we sue Burger King for giving us crappy-looking smashed up burgers that look nothing like the advertising?  

        The subject of lawsuits is something I plan to address in various future posts.   I am no fan of lawsuits.  The issues with Subway should be mediated with the Department of Weights and Measures or whatever dumb government agency deals in trivialities such as the foot-long subs.  Why should lawyers be involved in this?   There will now probably be a class action lawsuit.  The economy draining attorneys will be lining their greedy pockets with undeserved cash.  You too can win if you've ever been duped into buying one of those foot-long Subway sandwiches.   If you are part of that class action suit you might be awarded something like a fifty cent coupon for Subway.  You can then go and buy one of Subway's new Long or Half-long sandwiches.

      Do you like Subway sandwiches?   Have you ever measured your sandwich before paying for it?   Have you ever gone to a restaurant that sold torpedo sandwiches and been upset that you didn't receive an actual torpedo?

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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

What Is the Scariest Time of Day?

Ghost fear
Ghost fear (Photo credit: @Doug88888)
        It happened again.   In the wee hours of yesterday morning I woke up.  I expected that it was later than it really was, but when I looked through the darkness at the red-glowing digital numbers on my alarm clock I saw the numbers again--1:11.

        After getting up to go to the bathroom and returning to my bed, I lay awake with an unsettled feeling shrouding me.  What was it about the time 1:11 AM?  With greater frequency over the recent past years I've been awakening at that exact time and noting those red numbers staring back at me.  It always seemed like an ominous event.   A uncertain message about something coming.  Due to happen.  I would stare into the shadows of my room with a burden of concern until sleep would again overtake me.  But the memory of the event would come back each morning after it happened.  Was there any reason for me to be waking at this particular time?

       At breakfast I mentioned the waking event to my wife.  She's interested in things like this.  She said that she had heard on television that many people throughout the world have been reporting having similar experiences of awakening to see triad numerated times--2:22, 3:33, 4:44, 5:55.  According to the report that she had seen, this phenomena had something to do with the alignment of the planets.  I'm not sure I buy that explanation, but I don't have a better one either.

       This triple number time phenomena was something I first started noticing after the tragedy of 9/11.  It wouldn't happen every night or even every week, but it started happening enough for me to take notice of it. I seriously doubt that somehow my internal clock was timed so precisely to awaken me with frequency at the exact time of 1:11.  Perhaps it was merely a matter of odds and coincidences.  As I get older I find myself getting up more often to go to the bathroom.  I suppose odds might dictate that I would wake up at that time a certain number of times each month.  But why am I so unsettled about the time 1:11.  Towers?  Triple digits?

       The hours between midnight and daybreak have always seemed the eeriest for me.  My guess is that this holds true for many of us.  There can be a spookiness as dusk closes in.  Bare trees silhouetted against a grey darkening sky.  Midday as a storm approaches can have an equally fear-inducing quality.  But it is the hours of darkness that probably scare most of us to the greatest extent.  The early evening hours of darkness are not so bad, but as everyone heads off to bed and the world is asleep, evil can seem to lurk in those blackest of times.  Sure, there can be a sense of peace, calm, but there is also the uncertainty.

      For me the scariest time of day has become 1:11 AM.  Dark, silent, waiting.  What could come in that hour?  An earthquake? Some medical crisis?  A thief in the night?  I want sleep to come, but sometimes it doesn't come soon enough.  The red numbers on the clock glow like demon eyes.

       What time of the day do you think is the scariest?   Have you been aware of any three digit clock phenomena?    Do you have a theory about people waking up during a three of the same number hour?

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Monday, January 21, 2013

What Rules Should Authors Never Break? (Chain of Command tour: Colby Marshall)

CHAIN OF COMMAND        I was introduced to Colby Marshall by blogger Sia McKye back in November and I thank her for that introduction.  This blog as most of you well know is no stranger to controversial topics.  Colby Marshall's new book Chain of Command fits into the category of controversy.  

         Colby doesn't mind controversy and she sometimes breaks a few rules.   But I'll let her tell you more about this.   Enjoy the post and be sure to check out the book trailer at the bottom of the post.

And now, Colby:

Hello, my name is Colby, and I have a problem with following rules.

*waits for chorus of, “Hi, Colby!”*

In thrillers and plenty of other genres, a lot of authors try their hardest to avoid controversial subjects.  My issue tends to be that there’s almost nowhere I won’t go if it pops into my head, makes the story work, and most importantly, keeps the story real.  Believe it or not, a double assassination of the president and vice president isn’t the most controversial thing I wrote in Chain of Command.  (Nope, sorry.  Can’t tell you here, but believe me, you’ll know what it is when you read it!)  Everything I do in a story, I do it for a good reason.

That said, there is one rule no thriller author should ever break unless they want their own break…in their neck.  It’s the one plot twist that can make an angry mob form outside your house at three a.m. the morning of a book release, the most avid reader attack you on Twitter, and your own grandmother not only disinherit you, but disown you all together…and legally change her name so the angry mob doesn’t come after her.
Politics?  Sexual orientation? Religion?  Nope.  As far as I know, though the Catholic Church may’ve tried to pray the Dan Brown away, that backlash was nothing compared to what happens when an author breaks the cardinal rule.

An author cannot kill a dog.

Readers might tolerate human torture, but if you put a puppy in peril, you’d better watch the outcome.  Because if that pooch goes down, so will you.  For example I met a famous female thriller writer who once killed off a canine in a book, and years later, she still hears about it from readers angry she’d do such a thing.  It actually caused some fans to swear off her books forever. They were that against reading canine cruelty happening to a pup character they’d come to love.

Other than that, thriller writers are pretty much free to explore any plot concept and push that envelope as far as they want to push it if they think they can do so and safely keep their fan bases reading. (Unless they want to skin kittens alive. That would probably be a deal breaker for some fans, too.) 
How about you?  In books, movies, or television is there any plot devise or character type that bothers you enough that you’ll put down the book, walk out of the movie, or turn the channel?  What line won’t you cross?  Or is anything that happens in reality fair game in entertainment?     

About the Author:

  Writer by day, ballroom dancer and choreographer by night, Colby Marshall is a contributing columnist for a local magazine and a proud member of International Thriller Writers as well as Sisters in Crime.  She's active in local theatres as an actress and choreographer.  She lives in Georgia with her family where she is hard at work on her new thriller.

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Friday, January 18, 2013

Let's Do It For Our Children!

George Orwell - Author series
George Orwell - Author series (Photo credit: New Chemical History)

“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”
— George Orwell, 1984

           Since we've reached the year 2013 is it time for the clocks to start striking thirteen?   Sure, things have been strange for several decades, but are they about to become even stranger?

            I'm not going to dissect the words spoken by the President of the United States on Wednesday January 16, 2013 or the nonsensical babble of his buddy Joe.  I think I may have incensed enough readers with a few of my more recent posts and I don't need to make things worse by pointing out the code words and diversionary tactics of this speech, but I do want to declaim the tactic of using "the children" to sway an argument or tug at heartstrings to get what we want.

           It's a purely emotional appeal that is used as a propaganda strategy.  Advertisers use it all the time.  No parent wants to deprive their children of their safety, health, comfort, or pleasure in life.  Nearly all parents want the absolute best for their children whenever possible.  They want their children to have the best toys, clothes, food, and experiences.  They rarely want their children to face deprivation or danger.  It's the normal way to be.

          The provision and well-being of our children affects every single one of us.  After all, we are all parents or know someone who is a parent.   Children are a part of our daily lives and most of us have the desire to save every child and give them the best opportunity for a quality life that our society can provide them.   We sacrifice much for our children and it is well that we should.

           However, doesn't using the children to propagandize and promote a political agenda seem a bit underhanded?   Is it right to use children as a device to manipulate emotions to overrule rational thinking to get what we want?

            I've been guilty of this myself.  In my nearly twenty years working in a business affiliated with fund-raising, we evoked the name of  "the children" to encourage people to dig deeper to give more money to whatever cause we were promoting at the time.  After all, "It's for the kids".  Make the audience feel bad.  Make them feel like they must do something even though that something may not necessarily be the right thing when put into place in the bigger picture.

            Showcasing the children is not always a bad thing.   "Jerry's Kids", the young cancer patients at St. Jude Hospital, or "Save the Children" seem to be fine causes over all that have a decent long range mission in mind that will benefit many children in the future.  If the intent is righteous then I don't mind.

             It's the politicizing of the children that annoys me the most.   I can deal with politicians giving their speeches before a background of union members, interest groups, or their own supporters.   It's a common cliche that's rather stupid looking in my opinion, but it's a great photo op for the politicos.  If a bunch of sheep-faced people want to stand behind some blithering politician, then more power to them.  Maybe they'll even get shown on television.

           But please, political agendists, don't use "the children" as props for your cause.  Creating a reactionary movement because of some sensational incident by invoking all children as the cause du jour is merely a cheap appeal to the feelings of those who are not thinking out the entire issue.  

            I love my kids and my grandkids and I want everyone's kids to be alright.  I also want to protect children from the dangers of the future just as much as the immediate dangers.  I want to protect the children against things we are talking about now, but I think it might be even more important to protect them from the things that many of us are not talking about.   We are holding the future in our hands--so what do we plan to do with it?

          Stop the agenda driven rhetoric that is driven by emotions.  See the absolute logic if you can.  Today it may be 23 executive actions, tomorrow it might be 33 executive orders, by the end of the year we might be looking at who knows how many legislative actions costing more money than is worth spending.   Thousands of words.   And we know the danger of words.   Words can be far more dangerous than weapons and have a far more lasting effect.

          Maybe I need to dig up my copy of George Orwell's 1984 and reread it.  

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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Why do I look younger than other people my age?

That's me, front center row in the tie-dyed T-shirt.  It was a 60's  theme

        We've been dealing with some minor controversy in the past couple of posts on this blog, so today I thought I'd hit a really big topic that might make some of you enraged, others amused, and still others scratching your heads wondering why I'm such a dopey guy sometimes.   This may be my most controversial post of all.

        A post by Karen Walker stirred me to add this bit of nonsense to my blog composition queue and I figured now might be the time to pull out the big guns--er, maybe I shouldn't go there and instead say, now seemed like a good time to get a bit silly.

       At my 25th high school reunion--this would have been in 1994 if you're interested in math--I made an interesting discovery.  Nearly all of my fellow classmates except for a few of the more exceptional looking women had aged much more than I had.  Most of them looked like they had ten years or more on me.  Had I not recognized them I would have thought I'd walked into the wrong reunion.

        The good-looking women I figured were probably being helped by make-up, but the guys all looked liked they'd graduated years ahead of me.  I puzzled over this phenomena wondering why I had not aged like they had.  I felt this smug satisfaction of now being the best looking guy in my class.  Even the guys who had been the hunks and lookers when they were seniors in high school were now looking more like plain old senior citizens.

        Over the next several years I became more aware of how I gauged against my old friends--and I emphasize old.  They were aging but I didn't look much older than I did in college.  Oh sure, sometimes the lady at Jack-in-the-Box gave me a senior citizen discount when I stopped by for breakfast on my way to work, but she probably did that for everybody.  No way did I look like any senior citizen.

        Then not long ago my wife and I were wondering about the age of a certain lady we know.  I knew she had to be older than I.  And then she mentioned what her age was--three years older than I am.  I commented to my wife how much older the lady looked than I look.

         "Not really," my wife responded.

          Taken aback I said, "She looks a lot older than I do."   And then added, "Doesn't she?"

          "You don't look that much younger," my wife said.

          Thanks for that vote of confidence, dear.  I didn't understand.  What was my wife seeing that I wasn't?   I went to the mirror to check it out.  There he was--same young looking guy as always.   The hair was maybe not as dark as it used to be.  That is, what hair was left.  The face was still the same face I'd always known.  I didn't look all that different.

         Oh sure, I can feel my body falling apart, but I'm just out of shape and tired.  When I tell my doctor she tells me it's because I'm getting older.  Duh--I guarantee you I'm still just as young as I was back when I was younger.  I can see it in the mirror.  Yeah, it's the same me I've always known.

        Isn't it?

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Monday, January 14, 2013

If They Take Away Our Guns, Then What?


Summer's End. Lexington Green, 11 September 20...
Summer's End. Lexington Green, 11 September 2002. Photo taken in Minute Man National Historical Park. Sculpture : "Minuteman" by sculptor Henry Hudson Kitson (1863-1947), dedicated April 19, 1900. Erected 1899 : SIRIS (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
         I'm sure that many of you are getting sick and tired of the gun control issue, but since it's going to continue to be in the news and a topic of many posts on other blogs I thought I'd wrap up my discussion that began on my previous post.   I encourage you to check out that post if you missed it and be sure to read through the comments.  There were some very good points made on both sides.  My commenters are some of the best.

        In  today's post I must admit to being a bit lazy as well as a bit haphazard.   The information to follow is an excerpt from one of those forwarded emails of dubious origin.  These "facts" sound credible in some cases and possible in others.  I researched some of these tidbits without spending hours to do so and as with any internet search of controversial topics I found a plethora of evidence proving as well as debunking these.  Let's face it, sometimes the internet is totally wacky.

       To preserve my own credibility I will neither say yea nor nay to any of these, but I do believe if not true there is a semblance of truth to all of these.  This piece may have originated with Paul Harvey on Monday, November 6, 2000 according to some sources.  For those of you who accept as the gospel of fact-checking, they have not yet determined the veracity of the information.    I invite you to tell us what you know about these "facts" or provide other similar examples.

Some Facts on Gun Control

In 1929, the Soviet Union established gun control. From 1929 to 1953,
about 20 million dissidents, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

In 1911, Turkey established gun control.. From 1915 to 1917,
1.5 million Armenians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

Germany established gun control in 1938 and from 1939 to 1945,
a total of 13 million Jews and others who were unable to defend themselves were rounded up and exterminated.

China established gun control in 1935. From 1948 to 1952,
20 million political dissidents, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated

Guatemala established gun control in 1964. From 1964 to 1981,
100,000 Mayan Indians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

Uganda established gun control in 1970. From 1971 to 1979, 300,000 Christians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

Cambodia established gun control in 1956. From 1975 to 1977, one million educated’ people, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

Defenseless people rounded up and exterminated in the 20th Century because of gun control: 56 million.

         So what do you think?

What Others Have Been Saying:

       If you are interested in reading some other opinions from bloggers, here are a few to check out:

Matt Conlon did a good post on the topic of gun control at Gun Control Is Being Able to Hit Your Target.  

Andrew Leon looks at the other side of the argument at Strange Pegs

Larry Cavanaugh also tackles the topic at Discconnected 

Chuck has his say at Apocalypse Now.

Stephen T McCarthy has also done his own post on the topic at Ferret Faced Fascist Friends.

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Friday, January 11, 2013

How Far Should the U.S. Go with Gun Control?

Summer's End. Lexington Green, 11 September 20...
Summer's End. Lexington Green, 11 September 2002. Photo taken in Minute Man National Historical Park. Sculpture : "Minuteman" by sculptor Henry Hudson Kitson (1863-1947), dedicated April 19, 1900. Erected 1899 : SIRIS (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.
The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

Everybody's Talking About Guns

        There's a rising furor regarding the issues of gun control since the December Newtown school shooting incident.  The Aurora theater massacre shooter is in the news of late with preliminary hearings underway.  Continued reports of gun violence in the United States have been hitting the news on a daily basis.

        The arguments for gun control and bans are one of the main media topics of the past month.   President Obama and VP Biden are telling Americans that the issue of stopping gun violence is of top priority.  The NRA lobby is on the defense while the anti-assault weapon soapbox is bubbling over with those who want to add their voice to the debate.

        Who is right?  What is the answer?  The Second Amendment is the most cited defense by gun advocates.   I think this might also be the most misunderstood and misinterpreted aspect of the argument on both sides.   

          In my post Should We Ban (Insert Topic Here)? I offered a brief overview of some of the topics that came to my mind because of the gun violence debate.   I plan to address as many of these as I can on Tossing It Out in the future.  In this current post the topic of guns themselves seems the best place to begin.

          I'm no expert on guns or the constitution, but I'll attempt to tackle this based on the way I read the amendment, what I understand about history, and my interpretation as reasoned out by sense of logic.  You experts can call me out on where I get it wrong.   I'm going to try to keep this bare bones simple and I'll leave it to you to make it as complex as you wish.  Don't worry if you disagree with what I say here.  I'm just tossing out some ideas for you readers to consider.  My own personal beliefs may not even be in agreement with what I say here so don't worry about offending me.  We're just talking and trying to figure things out, right?

 What Is the Second Amendment Saying?

           We often hear the argument that citizens have the right to own guns for hunting, recreational shooting, personal protection, or collecting.  In reality these are merely red herrings that have been added to confuse the original intent of the amendment.   These may all have legitimate merit as reasons to be permitted to own guns, but these should not be part of the Second Amendment argument.

           Let's dissect the amendment to see what it is saying:

           A well regulated Militia...   A militia is a regional defense force--a small army to be activated during emergencies.   This is separate from our standing federal military branches.   The militias consist of unpaid volunteers who assemble when regional defense in necessary, including incursion by foreign invaders, threats of local militant groups, or agents of an oppressive tyrannical government.      

          ...being necessary to the security of a free State...  The militias are for the protection of the citizenry.  The point of having a militia is to keep our institutions, our families, our communities, and our values safe from those--meaning anyone--who would take them away from us and threaten our way of life.  This threat can include our own United States federal government in extreme circumstances.

           ...the right of the people to keep and bear Arms... Citizens--the people who would constitute said militia--have the right to own and retain in their possessions weaponry that would be essential for maintaining a "well regulated Militia".   They have the right to carry these weapons as I would interpret this clause and the nature of these weapons is not specified.  If the federal army or invading alien forces have weapons, then the militia should have a reasonable amount of parity.  I would go so far to interpret this as including machine guns, grenades, and hand-held rocket launchers.  

               ...shall not be infringed.   Neither the United States government nor any other government body can take this right away from us if we are acting in a responsible manner with our arms.  Even the implicit threat in keeping a government registration or record of who owns guns and the history of the gun owners' affiliations might be questionable in that this knowledge could allow the government to impinge upon the rights and freedom of these individuals.  Background checks and felony reports, though possibly a good tool for keeping guns out of the wrong hands, could even be questionable in certain cases.  

Is The Second Amendment Outdated?

             Arguments have been made that the founding fathers would not have intended their amendment to include anything other than simple single shot firearms.   I would disagree.  After all, these guys were revolutionaries who had just violently overthrown what they considered to be a tyrannical oppressive government that had a well armed occupying military force.  The founders were aware of what means could be necessary to overthrow a government such as this and they understood the advantage of having a parity of power--that is, similar weapons as held by the enemies.  We should not be expected to be holding our own against modern weapons with outdated eighteenth century muskets.

             Another argument might be presented that we no longer need to worry about our government oppressing us.  There are checks and balances in place.  Our government will never turn on us and we will be protected by our government against any invaders.  Can we necessarily absolutely depend on this?

               Shouldn't we be able to keep arms of any sort just in case?  The unthinkable could happen.  But those who insist that since we are safe and that paranoid delusional fantasies will never happen, then what's the point of being armed and making preparations for such a thing.   These conspiratorial fears are so unlikely there is no reason to be worrying about them.

               Think about this:   According to all odds, most of us will never be involved in a serious automobile accident, yet we feel safer with seat belts, air bags, and auto insurance.  Even though there are a very small number of airplane crashes relative to the number of daily passenger flights, we feel much more secure knowing there are safety devices on board and plans of action in case of a flight emergency or disaster.  The likelihood of most public buildings catching fire is relatively rare, yet it's common practice and a matter of law that they have fire extinguishers, alarms, and escapes.

            The fact is that throughout many aspects of life we prepare ourselves for things that will probably never happen and we hope never will.   But since they could happen, we prepare and accept this as the proper thing to do.   Why shouldn't we be prepared for those long shot, but possible fears when it involves protection from the government or other potential threats?  After all, government is people and people have been known to do some very bad things.

            Even now, with the talk of bans, restrictions, and investigations, you should be paying close attention and thinking about who will protect you when the government starts taking away a freedom that you hold dear.   Executive order anyone?

           What freedoms are you willing to give up?   What freedom do you personally hold so dear that you would fight to keep it?   Is there anything worth fighting for?   Worth killing for?   Has any war been worth the cost?   



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