Thursday, February 22, 2018

Drinking Alcohol May Be Better Than Exercise To Reach Old Age

I know a lot of people would dearly love to believe this one, and hope that further research would prove this one true.

According to a recent article in the Chicago Tribune, drinking alcohol does more to extend your life beyond 90 than exercise.

It is strange, because I keep hearing certain things like this that, frankly, sound a bit too good to be true. Things like red wine being actually beneficial to one's health, even though it also seems like for every such story on research that suggests this, there is another story with other research that suggests exactly the opposite. Sometimes, I hear the same thing with beer, and also with chocolate, another favorite food item that people love to indulge in, and which some research suggests is good for you, or for your heart, while other research would seem to refute this notion.

Personally, of course, I do not know. I cannot verify it with any research of my own, not qualifying as a scientist myself. Also, as far as this particular story is concerned, I am not even close to the age of 90 just yet, and so cannot pretend to give anyone advice on how to reach it.

Still, it seemed like something worth sharing, because it was interesting, and perhaps even could make someone's day.

So, with that said, here is an article on the latest research which suggests indeed that consuming alcohol will help you live beyond 90 years old:

Drinking alcohol more important than exercise for living past 90, study says by Joe Dziemianowicz New York Daily News, February 20, 2018:

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Glaringly Obvious Reason Why Access to Guns, and Not Cars or Knives or Other Things, Need to be Limited

Okay, I am back to the gun debate, after only one day of staying away.

I almost cannot help it. So much of the rest of the world seems to have forgotten the Parkland shootings already. At the school yesterday, everyone there seemed so be too busy laughing at Fergie's rendition of the national anthem (frankly, who cares?) that any lessons that might have been learned, and any possible call to action has largely been silenced, mostly through our own desensitized reaction, our own collective national indifference.

True, some teenagers are taking stands. There was a clip of teens in Iowa marching in protest, and Florida high school students - where the latest shooting took place - are also protesting and marching. And, indeed, there were teens in Washington who laid down in front of the White House, protesting the lax gun laws.

That was the silver lining, but there were dark clouds, too, with numerous reactions that were not merely disrespectful towards these students, who are interested really in their own safety, but who at times were outright threatening.

And yet, President Trump yesterday called for a ban on bump stocks, the mechanism used by Stephen Paddock in Las Vegas in the very deadly October mass shooting, and he will be meeting with victims, and the parents of victims of mass school shootings. So with all of these developments, I thought it would be hard to ignore.

Every time that there is a mass shooting, like there was last week in a Florida high school, and like there is often here in the United States, you very quickly see and hear the arguments going from both sides of the gun debate.

A vast majority of Americans - anywhere between an estimated 84 to 88 percent - believe that the purchase of a gun should require a background check, while more than three-quarters of Americans also believe that there should be some kind of a waiting period, as well.

In fact, not only do most Americans agree that some limitations on gun access should be imposed, but even a majority of Republicans believe this. That might come as a shock, since the Republican party is the same one that automatically, continually blocks any and all stricter gun legislation, as a rule. It sure seems counterintuitive that the majority of Republicans favor tighter gun laws, yet their Washington representatives vote against their wishes.

So, why is there never any gun legislation at all? I mean, seriously! From the horrible school shooting that seemingly shook the country to it's core at Columbine back in 1999, we have had numerous mass shootings since then, including many that had more victims, and some with arguably even more shock value, particularly the one at Sandy Hook Elementary.

Yet, despite the "thoughts and prayers" sentiments that prominent government officials regularly give, little else is done. Virtually nothing, particularly, in terms of lasting legislation that effectively protects the American people from angry people acquiring guns.

Even when it seems like action will inevitably be taken. It looked that way for a while following the shock of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Yet, nothing concrete happened, really, despite numerous serious efforts. Then came the Orlando shooting, and similarly, nothing. Last year's Las Vegas shooting shocked many, and almost seemed to lead to a ban on bump stocks. Hell, it even appeared that the NRA was encouraging Congress to review, and ultimately perhaps to ban, bump stocks.

But in the end, of course, the same result. Nothing happened. Nothing changed. Another shooting in Sutherland Springs, and again, nothing happened in terms of legislation for tighter gun accesslaws. Now, Parkland, Florida.

Can you blame those of us who remain skeptical when we hear young kids expressing strong confidence that this time, it will be different?

Just five years and change ago, the seemingly random shooting of 20 children under the age of 10 years old was not enough to make legislation change. Just under half a year ago, video footage of seeming de facto machine gun fire from up high at a Las Vegas hotel, killing almost 60 and injuring over 400 others, was not enough. All of those mass shootings that we have seen - and there have been a ton of them - were not enough to change the hearts and minds of Americans, who could surely force action, could force legislation, if they really wanted to, if they stood together and refused to accept no as an answer.

True, maybe this time, there is more of an organizational movement to protest, and organize walkouts. But will that really work?  Republicans are apparently very tough to shame, despite overwhelming evidence of disgusting and despicable behavior and beliefs. And when Republicans do not care about something - and they certainly do not seem to care about protests, a tradition dating back to the 1960's - then what will change about that now?

I would love to believe that this time, something will truly change. Believe me, I would love to see something actually change this time, and it would thrill me to be proven wrong, and to question my own skepticism on this issue.

However, history is hard to ignore, and in recent history, Republicans have seemed to have a shield that prevents them from feeling any kind of shame, and they also seem to have a shield that prevents them from suffering serious, much less severe, losses when election season rolls around.

Unfortunately, though, I just do not see it happening. A lot of people have demanded action, have tried to force change, and sounded certainly angry and determined enough to do it.

But it is 2018, and we have had a lot of mass shootings. A hell of a lot of them, frankly. Seriously, Parkland was the 18th school shooting this year, and this year was not even seven full weeks old! We have regularly witnessed unbelievable images of bloodied people running out of buildings, and escaping from incredible carnage brought on by some madman with a gun. Columbine was the better part of 20 years ago. Virginia Tech took place over a decade ago. Aurora and Sandy Hook were well over five years ago now, as well. Orlando is going on two years ago. Even Las Vegas was many months ago now, as was Sutherland Springs. And now, Parkland, Florida.

I totally agree that action should have been taken a long, long time ago, and am as perplexed as anyone else as to how the American people could allow action to not be taken after all of those incidents, after so much time.

Still, the sad reality is that no serious, and certainly no lasting, action ever seems to be taken. The NRA profits, prominent government officials get some of the money and then vote against the best interest of the citizens that they are supposed to represent, and the vicious cycle just keeps going.

Trust me, I would love to be wrong about this. But will I be?

I doubt it.

I have been alarmed to have seen some people that I respected arguing in favor of guns, and against commonsense gun legislation. Now, more than ever, they seem to be grasping, arguing with whatever they can throw to obstruct the path for the United States to join literally every other industrialized nation and implement tighter gun legislation, and not allow madmen and murderers to easily acquire guns, as it literally allows right now.

To these ends, gun rights advocates keep bringing up certain arguments. Here are some:

School shootings happen in schools, because God is no longer in schools.

Okay, but God is certainly in churches, right? And there have been many, many shootings in churches, as well.

Cars and alcohol and some other things can and do kill people, too. But nobody is calling for them to be banned.

True, but cars are not specifically designed to kill people. In fact, they are actively being designed to have better safety features, year after year, specifically so that they do not kill people. And alcohol, also, is not specifically designed to kill people. Drunk driving does happen, but it is illegal, and if you are caught, you will face serious penalties. The difference between these things, and guns, is that guns serve basically only one functional purpose, and that is to kill. Period.

What do you have against guns, anyway?

Guns always seem to get to the hands of truly dangerous, angry people who do enormous damage to them!

Why are you scared of guns?

See above. Also, see the headlines. Pretty much any halfway serious newspaper or news network will do. 

We need to protect ourselves against the excesses of government.

Fine. But if it comes to that, do you really think you can hold your own for very long? With professionally trained soldiers numbering in the tens of thousands, and with the military having at it's disposal staggering levels of sophisticated weaponry, how long do you think you actually think you will last against the full force of the government?  

The second amendment guarantees the right to bear arms for all Americans, and anything less would be an infringement on my constitutional rights.

Yes, the second amendment does promise that the "right to keep bear arms shall not be infringed." True enough. Before that, however, it also mentions that that this is necessary for a "well-regulated militia."

We need to protect ourselves against the excesses of government.

Fine. But if it comes to that, do you really think you can hold your own for very long? With professionally trained soldiers numbering in the tens of thousands, and with the military having at it's disposal staggering levels of sophisticated weaponry, how long do you think you actually think you will last against the full force of the government? 

Never does it say anything about allowing everybody, under every circumstance, to own whatever weapon that they want. If it did, then private citizens would presumably be able to own all sorts of other weaponry that they wanted, assuming that they could afford it. They could own tanks, jets, aircraft carriers, even nuclear weapons, so long as they could afford to pay for it. Somehow, however, it is accepted that people should not have this right, because those weapons are just too deadly to be trusted in the hands of private citizens. I think we have seen enough - more than enough - to qualify assault rifles, automatic, and semi-automatic weapons under the same category.

And I think back to a quote that I first ran into years ago, where a conservative former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court summed up the NRA's interpretation of the second amendment clearly, and most certainly not favorably:

"The Gun Lobby's interpretation of the Second Amendment is one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word fraud, on the American People by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime. The real purpose of the Second Amendment was to ensure that state armies – the militias – would be maintained for the defense of the state. The very language of the Second Amendment refutes any argument that it was intended to guarantee every citizen an unfettered right to any kind of weapon he or she desires.”

Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger

Here are some of the articles that I used in writing this particular blog entry:

Assault Weapons Not Protected by Second Amendment, Federal Appeals Court Rules by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, FEB 22 2017:

Don't let the title of this article fool you. It is written by an Army guy, who writes very persuasively and intelligently about why assault weapons really do not belong in the hands of the general public:

“Fuck you, I like guns.”  Posted on February 15, 2018 “Fuck you, I like guns.”

This article was interesting, but is written by a gun lover, who feels that we who are not familiar with guns should actually learn more about guns. As far as I am concerned, we have learned plenty about how deadly assault rifles and semiautomatics with bump stocks can be, and the discussion does not really need to go farther. Australians and Europeans did not feel it necessary for their citizens to get a tutorial on gun culture in order to pass and enact laws designed to protect their citizens from the deadliest guns. Why should we? Is this not just another way of essentially accepting the unlimited presence of easily accessible guns in our country? In any case, for a different point of view than my own, this is an interesting article:

6 Reasons Your Right-Wing Friend Isn’t Coming To Your Side On Gun Control By Meredith Dake-O'Connor OCTOBER 6, 2017

The 12 Most Common Fallacious Gun Arguments (and How to Refute Them)  The Independent Thinker 5 months ago

Most Americans — and most Republicans — want stricter gun laws: Why doesn’t it happen? by MATTHEW SHEFFIELD 02.16.2018:

NEWS MAR 1 2014, 10:46 PM ET 33 Dead, 130 Injured in China Knife-Wielding Spree

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Federer Wins Rotterdam & Regains No. 1 Ranking

Image courtesy of rainycat's Flickr page - Federer: 

It just is amazing, is it not?

This man, Roger Federer, always seems to come up with the goods, evne when it comes as a surprise.

I remember a few years ago, my brother and I were discussing him, and my brother seemed to suggest that maybe it was time for Federer to retire, that his best days were behind him.

Maybe, I said, but he is still relevant. Sure, he's not winning Grand Slams lately, but he qualifies for the finals often, which is more than most men even manage to do once! Plus, he is in the top ten, which again, for most professionals, would be a dream to reach even once.

Also, I mentioned that I believed he would win at least one more Grand Slam title, and maybe even more.

He seemed to agree with me, albeit a bit hesitantly.

But who could have possibly imagined this level of success that Federer has enjoyed now for the last year and change? Three Grand Slam titles, and now, perhaps the most impressive feat yet, a return to the number one ranking!

Yes, Federer overtook his historically biggest rival, Rafael Nadal, for the world No 1 spot after defeating Grigor Dimitrov 6-2, 6-2 in the final of the Rotterdam Open. This was the 97th title of Federer's obviously storied career.

But in the larger picture, it means that Federer now has achieved the ultimate in terms of prestige: he is the most decorated man in tennis history, and he now holds another record: the oldest man, at 36 years old, in tennis history to hold the top-ranking! He reaches the number one ranking 14 years after first reaching it in 2004!

Former tennis legend Mats Wilander said that this latest accomplishment sets him apart from everyone, even Nadal:

“The fact that he becomes number one fourteen years after the first time is just incredible,” Wilander told French newspaper L’Equipe.  

“For me, it proves that Roger has this love for the game that goes beyond winning. But what is most impressive about Federer is what we do not see.   

“That's what's happening inside. His greatest talent is not his service or forehand. It's his immutable need of love to learn and that passion for the game.   

“He changes his racket. He changes his backhand technique. He changes tactics. 

“He does not play at all the same way as he did fourteen years ago. He wants to learn every time he enters the court.

“It's so cool to see someone like him who loves what he does.   

“We talk about his grace, the way he moves on the court.   

“But it is this inner strength, this emotional part, fragile and invisible, that places it far in front of everyone.   

“For twelve months, Roger is in front. He beat Nadal last year four times in a row. He’s the best.”

Federer To Return To No. 1, Reaches Rotterdam SFs by ATP Staff, February 16, 2018:

Roger Federer: The one reason Swiss star is far better than Rafael Nadal - Mats Wilander By DAN GIBBS PUBLISHED: 08:28, Mon, Feb 19, 2018:

Monday, February 19, 2018

President Trump's Response Following Florida Mass Shooting is Staggering Insensitive & Despicable

Okay, I want to move on from posts about the recent school shooting in Florida, so this will have to be my last post on it.

It just upsets me that this not only keeps happening, but that people seem to be moving on ever more quickly after each such incident. I mean, seriously! Remember when the tragedy at Columbine had everyone stop in their tracks, and the news cycle seemed fixated on every detail that emerged from Littleton, Colorado for those next few days? Now, after not even a full 48 hours, it seemed that the news was returned to normal, with the details from the Florida shooting already coming in second or third, or in some cases later, as the main news seemed to return to Congressional nonsense, the ridiculous gridlock and do nothing Congress, which it is almost assured will do nothing after this latest shooting, as well.

However, one thing that I take heart in is that more and more people are growing sick and tired of their inaction, and there is word that there will be walkouts in protest coming in the future, urging Congress to do something. Still, I am not sure that this will work, especially since one of the dates I saw was for sometime in April, after two months would have passed since Florida. If people have largely moved on and forgotten after two days, do we really think the impact is going to be stronger two months later?

Then again, who knows? Maybe it will work. 

Also, let's face it: the reality is that there very well may be another major mass shooting or two between now and then. Would anyone really be surprised if there was?

There was one last aspect of this latest school shooting that I wanted to focus in on, and that is President Trump's response.

First, he said nothing about gun control, and his tweets were surprisingly silent about the incident, until he finally suggested that the FBI's investigations into his alleged ties with Russia might have interfered enough to miss the signs that they should have jumped on with the shooter, Nikolas Cruz. 

He went down to visit, because it was conveniently on his way to Mar-a-Lago. Rumor has it that he even cut out a round of golf, which really is as close to a sacrifice as we can expect from this very entitled man. 

Of course, there were photos, and the ones that came out were truly appalling. Trump is shown apparently beaming his smile and with a big thumbs up, as if this were a time to celebrate. No sobriety in that response, and everyone knows that it is not only not natural, but grossly inappropriate and disrespectful to the victims and their families. Also, it seems to suggest - clearly suggest - that he really does not understand, or worse, care, about the suffering that his own policies are responsible for.

But President Trump's weekend was far from over. Hell, it was just beginning. He got the Parkland visit out of the way, because he had other matters to attend to. After all, the President is a busy man, right? Here is where he went after the heartfelt visit to Parkland:

Kevin Liptak ✔ @Kevinliptakcnn President Trump and the First Lady stopped by a Studio 54-themed disco party in the ballroom at Mar-a-Lago last night after returning from the Broward sheriff’s department  3:23 PM - Feb 17, 2018

After his thumbs up, President Trump excused himself to go to his already planned weekend retreat at Mar-a-Lago, which he likes to refer to as "White House South." He may have given up a round of golf, but that did not prevent him from attending a disco party, of all things. Clearly, he is not taking this school shooting to heart, and is hardly seriously shaken up by it. I wonder what the kids and teachers in the school, who saw their friends and students gunned down in cold blood, would think. I wonder what the families of the fallen victims think, when they see that.

Still, the President's weekend was not done! He sent a tweet on Saturday, suggesting that the FBI might have missed the signals on Nikolas Cruz because it was focusing too much on the Russia investigation:

Donald J. Trump ✔ @realDonaldTrump Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign - there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud!  11:08 PM - Feb 17, 2018

So, just a few days after the worst school shooting that this country has seen since Sandy Hook, President Trump was basically playing the role of victim, and using this same school shooting to reinforce his point! But this did not sit particularly well with some. Some reactions from apparent survivors of the shooting via tweets to answer the President (here is a sampling):

"17 of my classmates are gone. That's 17 futures, 17 children, and 17 friends stolen. But you're right, it always has to be about you. How silly of me to forget. #neveragain"

 "17 innocent people were brutally murdered at my school, a place where they should have felt safe. Their lives were gone in an instant. You are the President of the United States and you have the audacity to put this on Russia as an excuse. I guess I should expect that from you." 

" friends were brutally murdered and you have the nerve to make this about Russia. I can not believe this"

"Oh my god. 17 OF MY CLASSMATES AND FRIENDS ARE GONE AND YOU HAVE THE AUDACITY TO MAKE THIS ABOUT RUSSIA???!! HAVE A DAMN HEART. You can keep all of your fake and meaningless 'thoughts and prayers'."

One of the Parkland high schoolers who was there that day, David Hogg, was on NBC's "Meet the Press" and directly challenged President Trump to take responsibility, and take action:

"You're the President. You're supposed to bring this nation together, not divide us. How dare you? Children are dying, and their blood is on your hands because of that. Please take action. Stop going on vacation in Mar-a-Lago. Take action. Work with Congress. Your party controls both the House and Senate. Take action, get some bills passed, and for God's sake, let's save some lives."

Frankly, I am not shocked that three of the ten deadliest mass shooting in modern American history have come in the slightly more than one year time that Trump has been in the White House. Truth be told, I would not be at all surprised to see more.

Very trying times we are living through. Mediocre times, with the most mediocre of Presidents enjoying a long weekend off for President Day. 

What a farce! What an utter humiliation for this country, to have such a pathetic man holding the highest office, and supposedly representing the people for four years! How appalling is this inexcusable behavior, in the wake of what really should be an unthinkable tragedy. What a ridiculous imitation of "leadership!" What a fake President!

Here are the articles that I used in writing this particular blog entry about President Trump's absurd and inexcusable response to the school shooting:

Trump tweet angers survivors of Parkland shooting  By Eli Watkins, CNN  Updated 8:10 PM ET, Sun February 18, 2018

After Ignoring Parkland Shooting Victims, Trump Went To A Disco Party By Jason Easley on Sat, Feb 17th, 2018:

Thumbs Up! President Trump Congratulates Everyone for Their Hard Work During Another Mass Shooting. By MATTHEW DESSEM FEB 17, 2018:

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Anger, Rather Than Mental Health, Mixed With Easy Access to Guns is Responsible for America's Gun Violence

I opened the link to this article with a measure of skepticism, because it seemed to me, at first glance, to be splitting hairs with a matter of semantics. Yet, the author of the article that got me to write this blog entry (Laura L. Hayes,  who wrote a wonderful article for Slate in the spring of 2014 entitled 'How to Stop Violence Mentally ill people aren’t killers. Angry people are.') got me to view this issue from a different angle entirely. I would strongly recommend taking a look at what she has to say (the link is at the bottom of this blog entry).

If you have been following this blog for the past few days, you will likely lead to the inescapable conclusion that I have obviously been annoyed and upset by the reactions - or perhaps the lack thereof - to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, which killed 17 people. 

But here's the thing: this story is so familiar to us now here in the United States, that we hardly seem to be paying attention anymore, if we ever really did. Two days after the school shooting in Parkland, the news was back to the gridlock and idiocy in Washington, between Democrats and Republicans in Congress, and the Presidency. In other countries, 17 people killed in a high school would be an incident that would be discussed and analyzed from every possible angle, and the people would, and do, demand action. Here, it dominates news for a day, maybe two. That is how much we have grown used to these kinds of mass shooting incidents here. They are seen as the "new normal." People might not admit it when you outright say it, but yes, it seems we have lost our ability to be truly shocked by these incidents.

As quickly as these incidents break out, they seem to quiet down again, unless they are of staggering shock value and/or record numbers. Sandy Hook shocked us because of the numbers of people killed, as well as because of how young the victims were. It was shocking that completely innocent and defenseless little children would specifically be targeted by a deranged lunatic, who was trying to kill as many people as possible, and apparently quite literally felt like it was some kind of a competition with other school shooters. Or, of course, the mass shootings in Orlando and Las Vegas caught our attention. The first, perhaps, because it targeted a specific group - homosexuals - and was labeled as a "hate crime" (as if other mass shootings cannot be classified as "hate crimes"), and Las Vegas because of the sheer number of people killed, as well as the raw video footage that was all over the internet and the news afterwards, when we all saw what seemed like machine gun fire raining down from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel upon the crowd of concert goes assembled down below. Perhaps the shooting at Sutherland Springs also shocked us, because 26 people were killed, and the shooter did his killing in a church. Also, it followed fairly quickly after the Las Vegas shooting, just a few weeks after, really. 

By and large, however, we Americans collectively hardly notice these kinds of things anymore. Again, most would not readily admit to it, but indeed, they no longer shock us, because they happen so often, that we have collectively grown immune to their shock value.

I mean, seriously, do you remember how shocking Columbine was? The news seemed to stop for several days, as the images of kids running and escaping in brutal fashion outside of class windows reached our living rooms and computer screens. It sparked all sorts of outrage, and debate lasted for not just days, but weeks. If we were going to get serious gun control passed, you might think that would have done it.

Somehow, though, it did not. And of course, there were more mass shootings. There was another, even bigger, school shooting on the campus of Virginia Tech in 2007. Shock, horror, and anger. But the shock and horror and outrage was not as pronounced as it had been for Columbine, and the news of it quieted down more quickly than it had with Columbine. We had other shootings, but the shock of the one at a Tuscon supermarket, with a Congresswoman being one of the victims (though she survived) also was shocking. But not as shocking as Columbine, and the news died down quicker still. Then, we were stunned and scared when a madman who had made up his hair to look a bit like the Joker opened fire and killed 12 people in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, just a few miles from Columbine High School. It dominated the news for a few days, but the shock and horror was much less pronounced than it had been for Columbine. Later that year, a horrific school shooting that targeted mostly little children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut shocked the nation, and indeed the world, in a comparable manner to Columbine. There was talk of serious action to force restrictions on gun access. But ultimately, every one of these efforts was defeated, time passed, and nothing changed. There were other shootings, certainly. San Bernardino. Orlando, which I already mentioned, and which did generate enormous attention, perhaps because the 49 killed qualified it as the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history. But as the days wore on, it too yielded to more normal news. Then came Las Vegas qualified as the new record holder for deadliest mass shooting in modern American history, and absolute shock and horror. But again, no action, and the days passed. Then Sutherland Springs, and more debate, but it faded more quickly than Las Vegas had. 

Now, Parkland, Florida, sees the third deadliest school shooting in modern American history, with only Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook having had more victims. Yes, there were actually four more killed in Parkland than there had been at Columbine. But almost two decades had passed, and we have grown so used to it, apparently, that it only dominates our news cycle for a couple of days, before already beginning to yield to what we would consider more normal news. 

There is something seriously wrong here, and I am not even talking about the actual shooters or mass shooting incidents themselves. I am talking about us, and our collective reaction to it as Americans. If 17 killed in a high school in Florida fails to jolt us anymore, if we just post a few comments on Facebook and listen quietly to the news for a couple of days before, mercifully, the more "normal" news begins to dominate again, than the problem is starting to be us as much as it is the shooters.

Almost as quickly as we hear about the news, we see the responses online flooding in. Almost like trench warfare in a way, we dig in to whatever position we feel about the gun debate, and we see posts and memes and comments, both for and against tighter gun control. I am sometimes disappointed by the occasional twisting of facts by those who advocate tighter gun laws, but I am always shocked and appalled, admittedly, at the knee jerk response by gun enthusiasts after these kinds of incidents. It seems that they are more concerned with the possible ramifications to their right to acquire more guns, and the deadlier the gun the better, apparently, than they are with the victims. Sometimes, they seem almost to look for faults in the victims. After all, what is the argument of "the only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun" supposed to be, if not a convenient and easy assigning of blame to victims. It seems that they are saying that this simply would not happen if everyone, quite literally, were carrying at all times, under all conditions. That is also another way of accepting the mass gun violence - which really has reached the levels of an epidemic in this country, as truly the "new normal." Mass shootings are apparently just a new reality, and we should just deal with it the only way that these people know how, by playing the good guy with the white hat in an old western, and shooting the bad guy dead. 

It makes me sick to think that the rest of the world is watching these horrors that routinely happen here, and scratching their heads to wonder just what is wrong with Americans. It makes me sick that the first reaction to mass shootings is fear that this might impact our own easy and convenient access to guns, which by the way, helps the NRA rake in the dough. In fact, the NRA seems to be profiting quite nicely from these mass shootings, as gun sales always spike up afterwards. After all, many people feel, or rather fear, that stricter gun laws will inevitably result, someday or other. It is almost as if they sense that this would be the normal response, or something, despite their own opposition to it.

Yes, gun advocates seem to be afraid that more reasonable gun laws will someday result from all of this. It happened in other countries, even though they seem to conveniently ignore this. But it is also common sense, and although they try to ignore this as the glaringly obvious truth, they pretend otherwise. They try to craft different arguments, try to make it seem that the "only" solution to gun violence is to make guns even easier to access. "Good guys" could still get guns, if they have a clean record, free of violent crimes, or domestic abuse charges, or some symptoms of being mentally disturbed. This truth seems so obvious, and runs completely counter to their own arguments that the only people who would no longer be able to get guns are good, law-abiding folks, that it seems almost laughable. So, if their issue is that making guns more difficult to access for criminals or domestic abusers or the mentally unfit, why are they so worried?

Of course, there is a lot of those kinds of irrational fears here in this country. Fears that any restrictions on guns would quickly turn to a government run amok and truly aiming to disarm citizens, so that they can send them off to death camps. If this seems like an insane fear, trust me that it is an oft repeated sentiment among gun advocates. There is also the fear that whites are being persecuted, and that they are quickly going to disappear, if this is allowed to happen. There is the fear that Christians are being persecuted, and this is especially in evidence whenever you hear people say around the holidays, "Keep Christ in Christmas." There are fears that Sharia law has already been instituted in many, if not most, American cities. Fears that social benefit programs are draining our economy and keeping the government budget in the red, even though these programs, collectively, are a fraction of the vast sums that go towards corporate welfare and the military industrial complex.

It is not a long trip from fear to resentment and even downright anger. And then, for people who cannot manage their anger, it is not too long of a step towards physical violence.

Mix that in with the all too easy access to guns in the United States right now, and you get staggering levels of violence. How staggering? Well, earlier today, I republished an old post about how over one million Americans have been killed by guns since John Lennon was assassinated, back in late 1980. Over one million, and obviously, that number just keeps rising!

This really is starting to reach the level of an epidemic. Most of those deaths do not get the sensationalist national headlines, or come with horrific images on our television screens. Only the most famous incidents - Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora, Las Vegas, and maybe Parkland - get that kind of attention. Most of these deaths are the ones that you hear spoken in somber tones during the nightly news, just before traffic updates or weather or sports. In other words, most of these deaths by guns remain largely hidden from public view, although they are hidden in plain site. When you hear about some teen who was shot in the city, does it spark serious gun debate? No, because many of the people who make the most noise seem to expect that kind of news, which makes it easier to dismiss.

According to a very interesting article by Laura L. Hayes of Slate, this anger is fairly easy to trace. Almost always, with very few exceptions (like with Stephen Paddock, the Las Vegas shooter), there are prior incidents if not even an extensive history, in some cases. In the vast majority of cases, some people knew of the violent tendencies of those who would become mass shooters. Immediately upon hearing the news of the Columbine tragedy, the father of Dylan Klebold suspected his own son as being involved. People were aware of Seung-Hui Cho's violent tendencies before he went on a rampage on the campus at Virginia Tech. James Holmes surprised some people, yet there were also signs with some of the strange behavior prior to the shooting that people could have picked up on, including fantasizing about killing. Everyone seemed to know that Adam Lanza had a disturbing history, although not enough people got involved to prevent the tragedy at Sandy Hook. Clearly, Devin Patrick Kelley, the shooter at Sutherland Springs, did not fly under the radar. There were signs there, and maybe the Air Force did not properly file paperwork that could have warned people about him. Somehow or the other, these signs were missed by the people who might have been able to step in an avert a tragedy.. It is becoming clear that Nikolas Cruz did not simply fly under the radar, but that people were in position to notice his behavior, and perhaps to get involved. Maybe that would have stopped the violence, or maybe not. But in each case, it was not simple mental issues that were the problem, but their inability to cope with their anger, and their subsequent propensity to lash out in their anger.

Here is what Hayes says about prior history in her article, backed up with some disturbing statistics:

In a summary of studies on murder and prior record of violence, Don Kates and Gary Mauser found that 80 to 90 percent of murderers had prior police records, in contrast to 15 percent of American adults overall. In a study of domestic murderers, 46 percent of the perpetrators had had a restraining order against them at some time. Family murders are preceded by prior domestic violence more than 90 percent of the time. Violent crimes are committed by people who lack the skills to modulate anger, express it constructively, and move beyond it.

Nor is this simply static, either. It has real impact, as people tend to attribute responsibility and guilt to the wrong thing:

"The attribution of violent crime to people diagnosed with mental illness is increasing stigmatization of the mentally ill while virtually no effort is being made to address the much broader cultural problem of anger management. This broader problem encompasses not just mass murders but violence toward children and spouses, rape, road rage, assault, and violent robberies. We are a culture awash in anger."

Earlier in the article, she suggested the blaming mental illness is a convenient form of scapegoating, and actually reinforces the angry and fearful to arm themselves to the teeth:

"It has become fashionable to blame mental illness for violent crimes. It has even been suggested that these crimes justify not only banning people with a history of mental illness from buying weapons but also arming those without such diagnoses so that they may protect themselves from the dangerous mentally ill. This fundamentally misrepresents where the danger lies."

She endorses one possible solution - or at least something that could help and surely would not hurt, is not to run away from the problem, but to tackle it head on, and early on, with kids:

"The truth is, anger management skills are simple techniques that can and should be taught to children and adolescents. We should not wait to teach these skills until verbally or physically violent behavior has become habitual and, often, life-threatening."

Hayes concludes her piece quite wonderfully and thoroughly, urging us not to put this issue at arm's length, simply because the conclusions scare us. The fact of the matter is that this issue is something that we all have to deal with, because we all have it in us, and are all responsible for, on some level or another:

Uncontrolled anger has become our No. 1 mental health issue. Though we have the understanding and the skills to treat the anger epidemic in this country, as a culture, we have been unwilling to accept the violence problem as one that belongs to each and every one of us. We have sought scapegoats in minority cultures, racial groups, and now the mentally ill. When we are ready to accept that the demon is within us all, we can begin to treat the cycle of anger and suffering.  

Please take a look at the article below:

How to Stop Violence Mentally ill people aren’t killers. Angry people are.  By Laura L. Hayes, April 9, 2014:

Over 1 Million Americans Have Been Killed by Guns Since Murder of John Lennon

Okay, one last post related (sort of) to the death of John Lennon.

Of course, Lennon was shot 35 years ago on this day, and died hours after being shot.

We Americans have had some high profile cases of people being killed by guns. There was the Kennedy Assassination and, later that weekend, much of the country watched live as Lee Harvey Oswald, the man suspected of having shot Kennedy, was himself shot.

In the following years, numerous other prominent figures were killed by guns, including Medgar Evars and Malcolm X. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy were shot about one month after one another. So was segregationist Alabama Governor George Wallace. Lennon was shot late in 1980, and Ronald Reagan was shot early in 1981, although he survived the assassination attempt.

However, one bit of shocking news that I learned of earlier today was that well over one million Americans were not so lucky since that fateful day in early December of 1980 in New York City, when a madman with a gun struck down one of the most revered musicians and peace activists of all time.

Please take a look at the article below by clicking on the link, and let us reflect on what that means, especially if you are an American, or are presently living within the United States. I think that we can agree that something needs to be done.

1.15 Million Americans Have Been Killed by Guns Since John Lennon's Death Lennon was shot to death by Mark David Chapman 35 years ago Tuesday  BY TESSA STUART December 8, 2015:

Saturday, February 17, 2018

A History of School & Mass Shootings All Over the World

I got this list from, and thought that it was interesting enough to post here. It is a list of school and mass shootings throughout the world since 1996 - the year of the first recent school shootings, particularly the one at Dublane which bore a striking resemblance to the Newtown shootings of almost a week ago. The precise link to this page can be accessed on the bottom of this page.

It is an illustration not only of just how common these shootings are, but also of the trend of usually young white males who seem to dress up as if preparing for war, and then to launch an attack in a public place, often randomly. Perhaps it is some weird form of protest, or, cliche as it may sound, a very sick cry for help.

Whatever we can label these episodes as, they nonetheless seem to spring up together. This may account for the trend of copycat incidents. That is what we need to worry about now, in the aftermath of the Newtown shootings last Friday.

You will note, perhaps, that Columbine is still labelled as the deadliest school shooting in American history, which it is not anymore, although the shock value of that particular shooting cannot be understated. 

This list also shows that shootings are certainly not restricted to the United States, although the US has seen far more shootings, and often far deadlier ones, than any other places. 

In examining this list, I was struck by just how long this list was; rather overwhelmed at the sheet number of such (usually) random shootings, and wondered what, if anything, we can learn from such a list? One thing that no one can doubt, is that these seem to be occurring with alarming regularity.

Perhaps one clue about what we can learn from all of these is how other countries responded, which is a subject that I elaborated on 

Also, I figured I would add Wikepedia's page on a history of school shootings, which give details about school shootings going back to early in the twentieth century. I had no idea the history went back so far! It seems a pretty thorough and extensive list of school shootings (remember, it does not include other mass shootings, only those that occurred in school). Here is the link:

Time Line of Worldwide School and Mass Shootings

The following table lists the worldwide mass and school shootings from 1996 to the present. Find the date, location, and a short description of each incident.
Feb. 2, 1996
Moses LakeWash.
Two students and one teacher killed, one other wounded when 14-year-old Barry Loukaitis opened fire on his algebra class.
March 13, 1996
16 children and one teacher killed at Dunblane Primary School by Thomas Hamilton, who then killed himself. 10 others wounded in attack.
Feb. 19, 1997
Principal and one student killed, two others wounded by Evan Ramsey, 16.
March 1997
Eight people (six students and two others) at two schools killed by Mohammad Ahman al-Naziri.
Oct. 1, 1997
Pearl, Miss.
Two students killed and seven wounded by Luke Woodham, 16, who was also accused of killing his mother. He and his friends were said to be outcasts who worshiped Satan.
Dec. 1, 1997
West PaducahKy.
Three students killed, five wounded by Michael Carneal, 14, as they participated in a prayer circle at Heath High School.
Dec. 15, 1997
Stamps, Ark.
Two students wounded. Colt Todd, 14, was hiding in the woods when he shot the students as they stood in the parking lot.
March 24, 1998
Four students and one teacher killed, ten others wounded outside as Westside Middle School emptied during a false fire alarm. Mitchell Johnson, 13, and Andrew Golden, 11, shot at their classmates and teachers from the woods.
April 24, 1998
One teacher, John Gillette, killed, two students wounded at a dance at James W. Parker Middle School. Andrew Wurst, 14, was charged.
May 19, 1998
One student killed in the parking lot at Lincoln County High School three days before he was to graduate. The victim was dating the ex-girlfriend of his killer, 18-year-old honor student Jacob Davis.
May 21, 1998
Two students killed, 22 others wounded in the cafeteria at Thurston High School by 15-year-old Kip Kinkel. Kinkel had been arrested and released a day earlier for bringing a gun to school. His parents were later found dead at home.
June 15, 1998
One teacher and one guidance counselor wounded by a 14-year-old boy in the school hallway.
April 20, 1999
14 students (including killers) and one teacher killed, 23 others wounded at Columbine High School in the nation's deadliest school shooting. Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17, had plotted for a year to kill at least 500 and blow up their school. At the end of their hour-long rampage, they turned their guns on themselves.
April 28, 1999
One student killed, one wounded at W. R. Myers High School in first fatal high school shooting in Canada in 20 years. The suspect, a 14-year-old boy, had dropped out of school after he was severely ostracized by his classmates.
May 20, 1999
Six students injured at Heritage High School by Thomas Solomon, 15, who was reportedly depressed after breaking up with his girlfriend.
Nov. 19, 1999 
Victor Cordova Jr., 12, shot and killed Araceli Tena, 13, in the lobby of Deming Middle School.
Dec. 6, 1999
Fort GibsonOkla.
Four students wounded as Seth Trickey, 13, opened fire with a 9mm semiautomatic handgun at Fort Gibson Middle School.
Dec. 7, 1999
One teacher and three students wounded by a 17-year-old student.
Feb. 29, 2000
Mount Morris Township, Mich.
Six-year-old Kayla Rolland shot dead at Buell Elementary School near FlintMich. The assailant was identified as a six-year-old boy with a .32-caliber handgun.
March 2000
One teacher killed by a 15-year-old student, who then shot himself. The shooter has been in a coma ever since.
March 10, 2000
Two students killed by Darrell Ingram, 19, while leaving a dance sponsored by Beach High School.
May 26, 2000
Lake WorthFla.
One teacher, Barry Grunow, shot and killed at Lake Worth Middle School by Nate Brazill, 13, with .25-caliber semiautomatic pistol on the last day of classes.
Sept. 26, 2000
New OrleansLa.
Two students wounded with the same gun during a fight at Woodson Middle School.
Jan. 17, 2001
One student shot and killed in front of Lake Clifton Eastern High School.
Jan. 18, 2001
Jan, Sweden
One student killed by two boys, ages 17 and 19.
March 5, 2001 
Two killed and 13 wounded by Charles Andrew Williams, 15, firing from a bathroom at Santana High School.
March 7, 2001
Elizabeth Catherine Bush, 14, wounded student Kimberly Marchese in the cafeteria of Bishop Neumann High School; she was depressed and frequently teased.
March 22, 2001
Granite HillsCalif.
One teacher and three students wounded by Jason Hoffman, 18, at GraniteHills High School. A policeman shot and wounded Hoffman.
March 30, 2001
One student killed by Donald R. Burt, Jr., a 17-year-old student who had been expelled from Lew Wallace High School.
Nov. 12, 2001
Chris Buschbacher, 17, took two hostages at the Caro Learning Centerbefore killing himself.
Jan. 15, 2002
New YorkN.Y.
A teenager wounded two students at Martin Luther King Jr. High School.
Feb. 19, 2002
Freising, Germany
Two killed in Eching by a man at the factory from which he had been fired; he then traveled to Freising and killed the headmaster of the technical school from which he had been expelled. He also wounded another teacher before killing himself.
April 26, 2002
13 teachers, two students, and one policeman killed, ten wounded by Robert Steinhaeuser, 19, at the Johann Gutenberg secondary school. Steinhaeuser then killed himself.
April 29, 2002
One teacher killed, one wounded by Dragoslav Petkovic, 17, who then killed himself.
October 28, 2002
Robert S. Flores Jr., 41, a student at the nursing school at the University of Arizona, shot and killed three female professors and then himself.
April 14, 2003 
New OrleansLa.
One 15-year-old killed, and three students wounded at John McDonogh High School by gunfire from four teenagers (none were students at the school). The motive was gang-related.
April 24, 2003 
Red Lion, Pa.
James Sheets, 14, killed principal Eugene Segro of Red Lion Area Junior High School before killing himself.
Sept. 24, 2003 
Cold SpringMinn.
Two students are killed at Rocori High School by John Jason McLaughlin, 15.
Sept. 28, 2004
Carmen de PatagonesArgentina
Three students killed and 6 wounded by a 15-year-old Argentininan student in a town 620 miles south of Buenos Aires.
March 21, 2005
Red LakeMinn.
Jeff Weise, 16, killed grandfather and companion, then arrived at school where he killed a teacher, a security guard, 5 students, and finally himself, leaving a total of 10 dead.
Nov. 8, 2005
One 15-year-old shot and killed an assistant principal at Campbell County High School and seriously wounded two other administrators.
Aug. 24, 2006 
Christopher Williams, 27, looking for his ex-girlfriend at Essex Elementary School, shot two teachers, killing one and wounding another. Before going to the school, he had killed the ex-girlfriend's mother.
Sept. 13, 2006
Kimveer Gill, 25, opened fire with a semiautomatic weapon at DawsonCollege. Anastasia De Sousa, 18, died and more than a dozen students and faculty were wounded before Gill killed himself.
Sept. 27, 2006 
Adult male held six students hostage at Platte Canyon High School and then shot and killed Emily Keyes, 16, and himself.
Sept. 29, 2006 
A 15-year-old student shot and killed Weston School principal John Klang.
Oct. 3, 2006
Nickel Mines, Pa.
32-year-old Carl Charles Roberts IV entered the one-room West Nickel Mines Amish School and shot 10 schoolgirls, ranging in age from 6 to 13 years old, and then himself. Five of the girls and Roberts died.
Jan. 3, 2007
Douglas Chanthabouly, 18, shot fellow student Samnang Kok, 17, in the hallway of Henry Foss High School.
April 16, 2007
A 23-year-old Virginia Tech student, Cho Seung-Hui, killed two in a dorm, then killed 30 more 2 hours later in a classroom building. His suicide brought the death toll to 33, making the shooting rampage the most deadly in U.S. history. Fifteen others were wounded.
Sept. 21, 2007
A Delaware State Univesity Freshman, Loyer D. Brandon, shot and wounded two other Freshman students on the University campus. Brandonis being charged with attempted murder, assault, reckless engagement, as well as a gun charge.
Oct. 10, 2007
A 14-year-old student at a Cleveland high school, Asa H. Coon, shot and injured two students and two teachers before he shot and killed himself. The victims' injuries were not life-threatening.
Nov. 7, 2007
An 18-year-old student in southern Finland shot and killed five boys, two girls, and the female principal at Jokela High School. At least 10 others were injured. The gunman shot himself and died from his wounds in the hospital.
Feb. 8, 2008
Baton RougeLouisiana
A nursing student shot and killed two women and then herself in a classroom at Louisiana Technical College in Baton Rouge.
Feb. 11, 2008
A 17-year-old student at Mitchell High School shot and wounded a classmate in gym class.
Feb. 12, 2008
A 14-year-old boy shot a student at E.O. Green Junior High School causing the 15-year-old victim to be brain dead.
Feb. 14, 2008
Gunman killed five students and then himself, and wounded 17 more when he opened fire on a classroom at Northern Illinois University. The gunman, Stephen P. Kazmierczak, was identified as a former graduate student at the university in 2007.
Sept. 23, 2008
A 20-year-old male student shot and killed at least nine students and himself at a vocational college in Kauhajok, 330km (205 miles) north of the capital, Helsinki.
Nov. 12, 2008
Fort LauderdaleFlorida
A 15-year-old female student was shot and killed by a classmate at DillardHigh School in Fort Lauderdale.
March 11, 2009
Fifteen people were shot and killed at Albertville Technical High School in southwestern Germany by a 17-year-old boy who attended the same school.
April 30, 2009
A Georgian citizen of Azerbaijani descent killed 12 students and staff at Azerbaijan State Oil Academy. Several others were wounded.
Feb. 5, 2010
At Discovery Middle School, a ninth-grader was shot by another student during a class change. The boy, whose name was not released, pulled out a gun and shot Todd Brown in the head while walking the hallway. Brown later died at Huntsville Hospital.
Feb. 12, 2010
During a meeting on campus, Amy Bishop, a biology professor, began shot her colleagues, killing three and wounding three others. A year earlier, Bishop had been denied tenure.
March 9, 2010
A man opens fire at Ohio State University, killing two employees and wounding one other. The shooter had recently received an "unsatisfactory" job evaluation and was going to be fired on March 13.
Jan. 5, 2011
Two people were killed and two more injured in a shooting at Millard South High School. Shortly after being suspended from school, the shooter returned and shot the assistant principal, principal, and the school nurse. The shooter then left campus and took his own life.
Jan. 8, 2011
Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot in an assassination attempt. At least 17 others are shot by a gunman, identified as Jared Lee Loughner, who opened fire on the congresswoman's constituent meeting outside a local grocery store. Six people are fatally wounded, including U.S. District Court Judge John Roll, and a young girl.
Jan. 5, 2011
Two people opened fire during a Worthing High School powder-puff football game. One former student died. Five other people were injured.
April 7, 2011
Rio de JaneiroBrazil
A 23-year-old former student returned to his public elementary school in Rio de Janeiro and began firing, killing 12 children and seriously wounding more than a dozen others, before shooting himself in the head. While Brazilhas seen gang-related violence in urban areas, this was the worst school shooting the country has ever seen.
May 10, 2011
San JoseCalifornia
Three people were killed in a parking garage at San Jose State University. Two former students were found dead on the fifth floor of the garage. A third, the suspected shooter, died later at the hospital.
July 22, 2011
Tyrifjorden, BuskerudNorway
A gunman disguised as a policeman opened fire at a camp for young political activists on the island of Utoya. The gunman kills 68 campers, including personal friends of Prime Minister Stoltenberg. Police arrested Anders Behring Breivik, a 32-year-old Norwegian who had been been linked to an anti-Islamic group.
Dec. 8, 2011
A Virginia Tech police officer was shot and killed by a 22-year old student of Radford University. The shooting took place in a parking lot on Virginia Tech's campus.
Feb. 10, 2012
WalpoleNew Hampshire
A 14-year-old student shot himself in front of 70 fellow students.
Feb. 27, 2012
At Chardon High School, a former classmate opened fire, killing three students and injuring six. Arrested shortly after the incident, the shooter said that he randomly picked students.
March 6, 2012
Shane Schumerth, a 28-year-old teacher at Episcopal High School, returned to the campus after being fired and shot and killed the headmistress, Dale Regan, with an assault rifle.
March 19, 2012
Mohammed Merah, a French man of Algerian descent, shot and killed a rabbi, two of his children, and another child at a Jewish school. Police believe he had earlier shot and killed three paratroopers. Merah said he was a member of Al Qaeda and that he was seeking revenge for the killing of Palestinian children.
April 2, 2012
One Goh, a 43-year-old former student at Oikos University, a Christian school populated by mostly Korean and Korean-Americans, opened fire on the campus, killing seven people and wounding several others.
July 20, 2012
During a midnight screening of the film The Dark Knight Rises, a gunman opens fire on the crowded theater. At least 12 people are killed and 38 others are wounded. The suspect, James Holmes, set off a smoke device in the front of the theater before opening fire. Directly after the incident, Holmes, age 24, was arrested in a parking lot behind the theater.
August 5, 2012
Oak CreekWis.
A gunman opens fire at a Sikh temple, killing six people and wounding three. Police shot and killed the suspect, Wade Michael Page, after the attack. Page, a neo-Nazi, served in the U.S. Army from 1992 to 1998.
December 11, 2012
Jacob Tyler Roberts, 22, opened fire in the Clackamas Town Center mall, located 11 miles from downtown PortlandOregon. Using an AR-15 semiautomatic assault rifle, Roberts killed two people and wounded one other. He then took his own life.
December 14, 2012
Adam Lanza, 20, killed 20 children and six others at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. He killed his mother, Nancy, at her home prior to the massacre at the school. Lanza committed suicide after the rampage. The shooting was the second deadliest in U.S. history, behind the 2007 shooting at Virginia Polytechnic Institute that claimed 32 people.
Sources: Newspaper reports.

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