Music from the garbage dump
Posted Jan 3, 2013
This is a bit long, but it is both interesting and inspiring. Hope you enjoy it.
Christmas Eve ponderings
Posted Dec 24, 2012
Suppose, just suppose, that instead of spending billions of dollars worldwide on the customary trappings of Christmas, we instead used that money to feed the poor and house the homeless.
Instead of assuaging our conscience by tossing a couple of quarters in the Salvaton Army kettle on the way into the mall to max out our credit cards buying things people want but don't need and justifying it because the wise men brought gifts to the baby Jesus, suppose we made it our mission to provide everyone on the planet the genuine necessities of life, every day of the year, not just on Christmas.
If you are a practicing Christian, then suppose, just suppose, you discarded the Old Testament and all of the New Testament except for the teachings of Jesus found in the four gospels. Forget your particular denominational dogma, forget what Paul and the apostles wanted, forget what the Popes and reformers wanted you to believe, forget prophesies and miracles. Just follow the actual teachings of Jesus, putting them into the context of the times in which he lived, and applying them as best as you can to the 21st century. Practice tolerance and charity.
If you were never a Christian or have rejected Christianity, if you realize that Christmas is a jumble of pagan celebrations and that Jesus certainly wasn't born on December 25, I want to remind you that you can reject Christianity and other organized religions without rejecting the teachings of Jesus, the Buddha and other great spiritual teachers. Living a life of tolerance and charity has nothing to do with organized religion and everything to do with personal growth and social responsibility. You don't have to believe that these teachers are divine in order to appreciate them and use them as models.
My grandmother used to subscribe to a magazine called Ideals. It was filled with poetry and short stories, generally corny. Anyway, she particularly enjoyed the Christmas issues. The following poem was one printed in Ideals that she liked. I managed to find the poem, but am not sure when it was written. My grandmother died in 1960, so it was before then. It was written by Madeline Morse.
"Let Christmas not become a thing
Merely of merchant's trafficking,
Of tinsel, bell and holly wreath
And surface pleasure, but beneath
The childish glamour, let us find
Nourishment for soul and mind.
Let us follow kinder ways
Through our teeming human maze,
And help the age of peace to come
From a Dreamer's martyrdom."
I wish all of you contentment. Merry Christmas.
Is it my imagination...
Posted Dec 18, 2012
...or are the murderers in English television series disproportionately female?
Hyp's thoughts on gun ownership
Posted Dec 18, 2012
So, I’m sitting here with my trusty “Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2012” perusing the section on Law Enforcement, Courts, and Prisons. A combination of statistics, observation and watching true crime programs on the tube have led me to draw some conclusions about the notion that gun ownership somehow makes us safer.
First, you need to understand that I live in a community that very likely has more guns than people. I don’t ask everyone I meet whether or not they possess firearms, but given the general culture of this region, I think it is a fair assumption. There are times when the uber-conservative politics and fundamentalism of this area is genuinely oppressive. But I digress.
I do not own a firearm of any sort. If I ever move to the country I might buy a rifle or shotgun to use on varmints if necessary. I have no more objection to hunters owning weapons for that purpose than to fishermen owning fly rods. But handguns are more problematic and the open sale of automatic and semi-automatic assault rifles is ridiculous. The only reason they exist is to kill people.
As to safety, I figure if I don’t have a gun in the house, then no one can find it and shoot me with it.
Concerning the argument that if we enact any sort of gun control then only the professional criminals will own guns, making us as a society more vulnerable:
1. I don’t need a gun to protect myself from some stranger who breaks in to burglarize my home. The vast majority of burglars are non-violent, unarmed and break in when no one is home. They do like to steal guns, so if I have one and am robbed, they’ll take the gun. And if they try to break in while I am home, the dogs will bark their heads off, giving me time to find my baseball bat.
2. I don’t need a gun to protect myself from some crazed killer. Again, I’m more likely to be killed by a family member or acquaintance than a stranger. Unless your loved one is a career criminal, you probably won’t be killed by one. And if someone close to you wants you dead, they’ll find a way, with or without a gun.
3. Teen gang members kill other gang members, drug dealers kill other drug dealers, and organized crime family members kill other crime family members. None of the above are interested in a small town librarian.
4. I don’t remember any school shootings being committed by a career criminal. Or mall shootings, or restaurant shootings, or workplace shootings. They are committed by people with grudges of some sort with access to automatic weapons. If those people had to stop and reload a traditional rifle or shotgun, there would be time to disarm them and minimize the damage.
5. The majority of suicides are committed with guns. Having little or no access to proper medical care and counseling and plenty of access to cheap firearms is not a good combination for someone suffering from depression. I’m not suicidal, but if I were, having a gun would be more dangerous for me than not having one.
6. And the most ridiculous argument of all is that foreign powers are deterred from invading the US because the populace is so well armed. Funny, but I think all those billions of dollars spent annually on a wonderfully trained military, ICBMs, stealth fighters, aircraft carriers, etc., etc., etc., sort of makes it unnecessary for me to keep a shotgun well-oiled in case the Chinese storm Little DooDah. Hell, if they get this far, I figure I’ll just get out my wok and make them a stir-fry.
Finally, I would like to say that I don't think that the lives of children and other innocents is a fair trade for an individual's right to own assault weapons. And whereas guns don't kill people, bullets certainly do. In 2009 13,756 people were murdered in the US. 9,203 of those were murdered with firearms. Murdered. This doesn't include "justifiable homicides", accidental firearms deaths, suicides or injuries.
Posted Dec 12, 2012
What is the campiest movie of all time? I want to show it, whatever it is, for a teen program. I'm thinking Rocky Horror Picture Show or maybe Little Shop of Horrors. But then I'm told that I'm "out of it" when it comes to stuff like this.