Friday, December 21, 2012

Strangling the NRA

I'm not exactly a "pro-gun" kind of guy, but I don't really have anything against them either. However, I absolutely loath the NRA. I've never liked them and their utterly ridiculous claims. Today, they've shared their solution to limit the deaths in school shootings: armed guards! Seriously? That's their solution? That's their only solution to the problem?

Imagine all of the points of failure that had to happen before the Newtown shooting could happen. You needed an obviously disturbed individual who probably didn't get the psychiatric help he needed. Perhaps no amount of such help would have changed things, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize it's not exactly a high national priority.

He also needed a way to acquire assault weapons that could inflict maximum casualties. Let's face it--if he had a handgun, he would not have been able to kill so many people before police arrived. In this case, it appears he took the guns from his law-abiding mother. What the heck did his mother need with an assault rifle, though? Her personal protection? Ha! That didn't work out very well for her!

But the fact is, even without access to his mother's guns, he could have bought them off the street from pretty much anyone without so much as a background check. HELLO?! I don't know the details, but for all I know, he might have even been able to purchase them legally through gun stores.

There's another point of failure: the police, clearly, didn't get to the school quick enough. More cops on the streets could have saved lives. Not just in the schools, but in the streets! You want them to be able to get to any situation like this quickly regardless of where it happens. Mass shootings can happen anywhere: in movie theaters, in shopping malls, at schools, at work places, at farmers markets, at festivals, etc.

But putting armed guards in schools is not a solution. In a country where the TSA occasionally shoots off a gun in airports by accident and where cops accidentally shoot unarmed men mistaking them as a threat far too often, more guns in schools is not a good solution. Bring in the guns when they're needed, and keep them out of schools when they aren't.

But let's say that we do start having armed guards patrolling our nation's schools. Let's say there's a madman who wants to shoot up the school. He knows there's a guy walking around with a gun. What do you suppose is going to happen? If I were the shooter, I'd be sure to take out the guy with the gun first. Which might actually be pretty easy to do if you can take him by surprise--and after you've been patrolling schools for years without any incidents, I kind of suspect such guards aren't likely to be particularly attentive until after they start hearing shots being fired. And--double score!--you can take his gun off of him to use for your own purposes.

And what about all those other places where mass shootings can occur? Do we need to assign armed guards to every shopping mall, every park, every work place, every theater, every street corner in the nation? Or are only schools worthy of having extra guns? Having more police coverage throughout an entire city so they can react quicker and decisively for any number of emergencies besides mass shootings (that, all things considered, are relatively rare in the first place) makes a heck of a lot more sense than armed guards walking around in schools.

Now, as tragic as the Newtown shootings are, far more children are killed by accidents involving guns than by crazed killers, and I'm more than a little annoyed that everyone is up in arms wanting to stop something "like this" from happening again. I'm all for wanting to stop it too--and I'm certainly in favor of just about any legislation that can help reduce this problem--but I wish everyone would think bigger. For every child that's killed in a mass shooting like this, there are dozens that are killed at home by improper storage of guns. Where's the outrage there? THERE SHOULD BE OUTRAGE!

Getting a friggin' drivers license requires more hoops to jump through than buying a gun, and that's utterly absurd. I had to prove I knew the laws of the road and that I could safely drive a car before they'd issue me a driver's license. AND even then, my license was only good for driving around regular old cars. I'd need more tests if I wanted a motorcycle license, and other one if I wanted to drive big rigs.

One more thing I find more than a little annoying is the fact that everyone keeps talking about the "26" victims of Newtown. There are, in fact 27 if you count his mother. I'm pretty certain she didn't volunteer to take four bullets to the head. Somehow, though, nobody seems to want to treat her as a victim--probably because it was her guns that were used for the massacre. She's still a victim, though, and acting like she's anything less than that is an injustice.

Anyhow, I don't hate guns, but I absolutely loathe the NRA. Their lies are right up there with cigarette companies claiming that their products don't cause cancer. Not that anyone with two brain cells ever believes a cigarette company's claims. Anyone with two brain cells doesn't believe the NRA either in matters of gun safety or gun control, but it still makes me angry when I see them offering such stupid ideas that are so obviously self-centered.

I don't even think most members of the NRA agree with the NRA, just like most smokers never believed the cigarette company's lies. But if that's you--stop funding them! Drop your membership now! Tell them you want real solutions to gun control. Remember, gun control does not mean gun banning--it means gun control. Make sure people who know how to use them and use them safely can have them, and make sure those who don't know how to use them or use them safely can't get access to them.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Being Unfriended

So there I was, checking my Gmail account, when I happened to noticed a little message in the corner saying, "(3) people unfriended you."

This really surprised me. Not that people would unfriend me--admittedly, I probably don't even know half the people who've friended me on Facebook, and it wouldn't at all surprise me that someone would come along and go, "You know, I want to clean out my account of people that I don't really know" and wind up unfriending me. Or perhaps unfriending me by accident when they tried to unfriend someone else. So I didn't really care that three people unfriended me. Ask me if I care--nope, I don't! =)

No, the thing that really surprised me is that they'd TELL YOU that you've been unfriended. Talk about a way to hurt someone's feelings! (I assume that some people would be more sensitive to being unfriended than I am, even though I think the whole concept of "friended" and "unfriended" is kind of misleading in the first place. Just because I'm friends with someone on Facebook doesn't mean I know them in any way, shape or form in the real world! I might, but more often than not, I don't.)

Out of curiosity, though, I clicked the "..." to find out more, which is when that ad for a "free" Facebook tool to learn who unfriended you.

And then it all made sense. Of course. It's totally a scam. How would Google (I was using Gmail, after all) even know how many people have unfriended me on Facebook in the first place? How would they be able to display that information in a PAID AD through Google? Yeah, I bet nobody has unfriended me recently. And if they have, I bet whoever put this ad up doesn't have a clue how many people have actaually unfriended me.

And nothing ever comes for "free." As if they're trying to be helpful. Seriously? How is telling people who've unfriended them possibly going to help anyone? The only thing it could possibly do is cause hurt feelings.

Now, I'm not suggesting it's impossible to create an app to tell you who's unfriended you. It's easy enough to create a program that can log into your Facebook account and monitor who your friends are--and monitor who is no longer a friend in the future and make the deduction that you've been unfriended.

BUT--why would you really trust a program to LOG INTO YOUR FACEBOOK ACCOUNT to monitor your friends? Because you know that's what is going to happen. Of course the program is free. Look at all that valuable information they can get about you by logging into your account. Assuming it doesn't actually install a virus or malware or something on your computer in the first place.

Frankly, Google should be embarrassed that they have crap ads like this on their system. Preying on people's insecurities in order to hack their accounts. And that's what I consider it--hacking. They're tricking people into installing worthless programs that may have a cost far higher than a monetary outlay.

Be careful of ads you see online. They could just be scams! Even if it comes from a generally reputable company such as Google. *nodding* I put Google ads on this site--and they often point to wonderful useful websites. But keep your guards up! Because the next ad link you click could just be a scam.