Going to Town...With a Gun

There are two articles that I ran across today regarding the issue of gun control.  One in the NYT which shows a partisan divide between gun owners and non-gun owners -> Nothing Divides...., and the other talks about gun owners dictating to non-gun owners ->Why the Majority Does Not Rule on Guns

The NYT article shows some interesting statistics and comparisons. It is more informational in content, and yet other articles in that publication clearly show there is bias towards the federal government stepping in to deal with gun violence through legislation and regulation.  The second article from the Capitol Times also points out some interesting data....

Apparently, we rural folk, in spite of our dwindling numbers, are dictating to the urban folk on gun regulation. We have a lot more representatives pulling for us than the majority does. I won't reiterate the stats here, but they seem more or less feasible.

The Cap Times article surmises that we need to change the rules to make us safer, and the federal government should be the point at which this starts. I disagree.

The problem with the federal government is that rule changes are so broad and general that the majority get impacted when it is a minority that cause the problem. Looking at the issue from a geographical standpoint, there are very few mass shooting problems in rural areas which make up most of the United States. In addition to that, non-gun owners don't contribute the the mass shooting problems either.

The article points out that the majority of Americans now live in urban areas (where the problems are most likely to occur), and that the minority of us that live in the rural areas are preventing the federal government from dealing with the problem because we have more representatives representing us and they are unlikely to vote for more stringent gun regulation. I would agree. But.....!

I would suggest that the federal government enable the states to set regulation of weapons; And more to the point, let cities with populations over 35 thousand do so. In other words, leave us rural folks to continue on as we have, and address the problem where the problem mostly lies: In larger population densities. 

I am all for a law that says you have to have a background check in order to purchase a gun. I would take it further and say one has to have a solid two week course in the safe maintenance and operation of the weapon you choose to own before being allowed to purchase it. And I would require the gun manufacturers and the NRA to sponsor that training 100%(and I mean pay for it!)

But legislating gun laws at the federal level (outside of fully automatic weapons and artillery, those things meant exclusively for military battle) is throwing all the babies in the same bathtub whether it fits them all or not. Concentrate the solutions where the problems are, don't make everyone pay for the problems that are primarily concentrated in small segments of the country. The reason we have a Republic is that it allows for more local solutions.

How about lets keep it that way.


Tweeting is Destructive

You can't say much in a tweet.  Oh, I know... it only takes a few words to encourage someone or to bring them crashing down. The power of language is often expressed by being succinct. (Not one of my strong points...). But in the context of making policy, Twitter is the worst tool one could choose to use.

There is no way that one can explain ones thought process in a tweet, or even in a series of tweets. To attempt to deal with policy issues on Twitter is obscene and any politician worth their salt should know better. Policy deals with complex issues. Issues which require a great deal of research, analysis, reflection and open dialogue to address. Policy is not Twitter material.

Twitter material might be a reminder to turn off the oven and set the chicken on the counter when someone gets home. Or it might be a quick show of love or appreciation. Maybe a reminder that the kids have dance class tonight.  Very handy....

However, twitter is not a medium to discuss or comment on foreign policy, national security, health care, what one thinks about a given group of people, or anything that I can think of that a policy maker might have to say. A politician that uses twitter falls into one of two categories in my mind:

  • Someone who has not thought through an issue and therefor has little of value to offer.
  • Someone who has fallen into the trap of responding to someone in the first category.
It the first case, the natural response is to ignore the idiot. In the second case, the natural response is to understand that the respondent does not have the temerity to ignore the idiot that tweeted in the first place and therefor should also be ignored.

We have a president who not only tweets, but thinks in tweets, guides the country on a series of tweets, comments on the performance of the members of his own team in tweets. This president tweets because he does not know enough about anything to be able to do more than tweet.

I can think of nothing more destructive to the fabric of a national community than someone who expresses the state of the nation in 160 characters or less.


Truck Repairs and ...Well... Story Telling

I took my truck over to my mechanic today.  There is a bill from previous work that has been sitting there for at least seven months which I wanted to get taken care of. That and there were a few additional items that needed addressing anyway.

When I arrived, Charlie dug out my outstanding bill and added it up. A lot less than I expected! I listed in prioritized order the items that I wanted addressed and told Charlie not to exceed a certain dollar amount.  He said 'no problem' and spent the next half hour getting everything set up to work on my ride.  I hung out in the shop and watched as he and Mike got going on things.  We yammered about various things as they worked. Eventually, Charlie let Mike take the job on in full and started setting up for another car he was working on.

All the while the three of us talked about various subjects, laughing at some, cussing about others, asking questions...just jaw-jacking. Mike got quiet as he focused in on my truck. Charlie and I continued to talk, which is Charlies style.  I have on other occasions watched as Charlie worked when there were other customers about. He just chats them up while he works. It is what he does. God knows I can converse too! So it is quite the visit when I go over there and am the only customer around.

After a bit, Charlie paused working, looked at me and asked: "Do you have any black dirt you would be willing to part with over on the farm? Jenna mentioned she used some for her flower gardens from your pasture."

"Sure." I answered.  And then came the crux of it... "How about we trade? I need black dirt and you need work on the truck".

Now what am I supposed to say to something like that? My answer was plain, simple and in shop vernacular... "Fuck Yes!"  We sort of organized the black dirt part of the deal; who's equipment, when (more or less).  The we got back to visiting.  No idea what it was we talked about anymore.  It does not matter. It was good.

A bit later, Charlies eldest daughter came out to the shop. She is an intelligent, good nature'd individual. We joked around a bit and then I asked her about her work and how things were going in general. She told me of some challenges at work and we discussed it a bit.  ...And then I got to going... story telling of jobs and places of work. Technical issues we faced. Working with people.  I must have gone on for quite a while I think. But the funny thing was, all three of them; Charlie, his daughter, and Mike, would ask questions when I came to a stop, launching me into another explanation or story. I have no idea why they were interested, honestly. But they were. The question were not the 'polite' sort. They were probing. And they would comment and tell their own stories. The were engaged.

I realized somewhere along the way that I very much miss work. It is good not to work; I couldn't anyway now days. Not really. But the work that I did over the years, in so many fields, many of them non-technical in my early career, were interesting. I learned so much! And I remember so much of it!

But, alas, my career is just a collection of stories now. I wish they were worth something beyond chattering on about. I wish I could somehow pass on what I learned. Don't get me wrong: I am not trying to boast.  The humility I feel when I think of the patient folks who taught me or helped me work through problems along the way is ... well ... it was such a gift from them. I guess what I wish is that I could somehow honor all I was taught as well as what I learned on my own in some way.

The day drew to a close, and a few parts had to be ordered for later installation.  Charlie and Mike got my truck back together and and cleaned up the shop as we continued to talk. And then it was time to go. Many stories had been told. We all know each other better now. I know some of where Mike has been. More about how Charlie thinks, and some clues as to the aspirations of a young lady just starting her career. And they know more about the world of automation and business systems and of some of the places I have worked. They let me tell part of my story. I am grateful....