Sadly, we have seen too many school massacres. Given our short attention span and the media’s focus on the story of the moment, we soon move on. This time it was different. The main reason was the students at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School. If I were interviewed on national TV at that age, I doubt I would remember my name. They are smart, poised and articulate young people.
Now that the march is over, the story may fade but likely not disappear. It is time to get to work. We need to remember that the issue is gun violence, not guns themselves. This should never have happened. The shooter had extensive involvement with child welfare, mental health and law enforcement officials yet he was still on the streets. There was a further breakdown when police were ordered to wait outside until he got tired of shooting or ran out of ammunition. Making the system work as it should is far and away the most effective way to prevent future tragedies.
This has already resulted in new legislation. Both Congress and the Florida legislature have passed bills. Further action will likely depend on the gun control boosters. They have generally taken the position that guns are the entire problem. Often they blame legal gun owners, the type of people Hillary Clinton calls deplorable. They offer the same tired proposals that won’t work. Taking two rifles that function identically and banning one because of the way it looks accomplishes nothing. Frankly, I think many are far more interested in gun control as a wedge issue than they are in actually accomplishing something.
It is time for thoughtful men and women of all ideologies to seriously discuss gun violence. Time will tell whether anything is accomplished besides creating more young Democrats and increasing the cultural divide.
Someone was extolling the virtues of driverless cars to my brother. He said our family had a driverless vehicle over a century ago. If our great-grandfather stayed in the bar too long, all he had to do was stumble into the buggy and the horse would find the way home.
They have been in the news after one hit and killed a pedestrian. Rather than focusing on a tragic accident, I would like to look at the technology itself.
Given the technological marvels of our age, it is easy to see an unlimited future. However, many advancements go down dead-end roads to oblivion. Fifty years ago, we were working to put a man on the moon. Now we have to hitch a ride with the Russians to get into space. Supersonic airliners were going to revolutionize transportation. We gave up on it and the European Concordes are now in museums.
High tech is just like any other product. It must satisfy a need at an acceptable price. It may or may not be a need for which buyers are aware of. Few of us could imagine using the internet. Now a day without it feels like reverting to the stone age.
There seem to be three main appeals to driverless cars. It’s a really cool technology. It will be safer (presumably). It eliminates the burden of driving. The first reason will attract some buyers. People buy electric cars and recharge them with electricity from coal fired power plants. Many people respond to safety. Taking their hands off the wheel and trusting a machine is a different matter. Most of us like to drive. Just sitting there is boring.
Trying to replace the decisions of the brain and actions of the body is extremely complicated. I would guess that it would more than double the cost of a car. It may eventually be cheap enough for the typical car buyer but that will likely take many years.
I don’t see it as a dead-end product like the Concorde. Nor do I see it reaching the general public. Tesla is an apt comparison. It takes GM around 10 days to sell the number of cars Tesla does in a year. People will buy driverless cars that don’t mind forking out high five or low six figures. If you want your car to drive you around, you had better be rich.
Sometimes it is not enough to do the right thing. It has to be done in the right way. The firing of FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is a perfect example.
We haven’t seen the evidence but he is accused of leaking to the media and lying to FBI investigators. If true, that is certainly a firing offense. This is part of a bigger story regarding senior employees putting politics above doing their sworn duty. Like the IRS, the FBI should have no involvement in politics.
Instead of letting the process take care of Mr. McCabe, the Trump administration fired him two days before he would qualify for a pension. President Trump then launched a tweet attack against McCabe.
This is another in a long series of political miscalculations. Playing politics with the FBI is not the to make it apolitical. Taking away his pension makes the administration look petty and vindictive and turns him into a martyr. This also takes focus away from the FBI scandal and puts Trump in the line of fire.
I doubt Trump will ever develop the political skills that could make him more effective. I will give him credit for one thing. Unlike his presidential rival, he at least knows not to attack voters.
Hillary Clinton has been making headlines during her India trip. Some are about physical slips. She twice slipped on stairs and fell in a bathtub, fracturing her wrist. She has also made the news with her slips of the tongue.
During a speech she added to her laundry list of reasons she lost. It’s the voters fault. She expanded on her deplorables theme. In referring to people who voted for Trump, she said “You know, you didn’t like black people getting rights. You didn’t like, you know, women getting jobs.” She also went after married white women who voted Republican. She said it was due to “ongoing pressure to vote the way your husband, your boss, your son, whoever, believes you should.”
Evidently her message to blue collar workers that deserted the Democratic Party is that they did so because they are racist and sexist. Presumably they were upstanding citizens when they voted for her husband. I wondered what changed them? Fox News perhaps?
She is telling women that they voted Republican because they are such spineless, mindless twits that they need her as President to protect them from the men in their lives. There may be women like that, but I’ve never met them.
I understand that she doesn’t get out and mingle with the people. Probably the only ones she meets who aren’t fellow elitists are servants. Even so, I can’t imagine how she can be so totally ignorant of what her fellow citizens are really like. All she would need to do is ask Bill. Of course, he prefers a different kind of mingling.
Republicans ought to spread her quote (and Nancy Pelosi’s about $1,000 being crumbs) far and wide. Perhaps they could surreptitiously funnel a few million dollars to her for a speaking tour. Democrats ought to give her millions to shut up.
A person can be a philosopher when reaching a certain age and having had some bumps along the way. Hope you don't mind me going off topic but I want to share something that changed my life.
I have stage four lymphoma. The main tumor is the size of a volleyball. Fortunately, it is the one cancer that is quite treatable at that stage. Obviously, I would rather not have cancer but I am lucky to have one that is treatable (though not curable). I have tremendous confidence in my medical team and am getting what I believe to be the most effective treatment.
I still must recognize the possibility that this could kill me, but I don't worry about it very much. Survival statistics are very encouraging. As big as it is, there have been no symptoms. When I do think about it, I get angry and want to fight even harder.
Even if the cancer doesn't get me, lots of other things may. I could walk across the street to get the mail and get hit by a car. It's clearly an extremely low risk since I always look both ways. There are countless other examples. Astronaut John Glenn was blasted into space on an undependable rocket. His spacecraft had only thirty minutes of spaceflight and the last one sunk, nearly drowning the astronaut. He came through it without a scratch. Later he fell in a hotel bathroom and had a concussion and inner ear injury.
Obviously, the thought of death is scary. But it's what gives us our power. If we were immortal, we would never accomplish anything because there was always tomorrow. Rather than fearing it, we should embrace it’s power to better our lives.
A sense of my mortality led to the best thing that ever happened to me. My dad has always been an avid photographer. My best guess is that I looked at 11-12,000 pictures. I selected around 1,700, scanned, Photoshopped and sorted them. Everyday I was seeing pictures of people who had died. I gave some real thought about what I most wanted in my life. I decided it was someone special to share my life with. After nine months of online dating, I met the love of my life. We only had two years together but I treasure every moment.
Let’s pretend we have a time machine and go back two years. We could get really good odds betting than Donald Trump would be president. Virtually nobody thought he had a chance. Eight months is an eternity in politics.
Even though predictions this far out are of little value, political analysts try to read the tea leaves and see great value in every scrap of information. When the GOP won the first few special elections, it was interpreted as a clear sign they would do well in the midterms. Then the Democrats won a pair of blue state governorships and a senate seat in Alabama and it was an omen of doom. The only real lesson is that it’s not a good to have a sexual predator as a candidate.
Now it looks like a Democrat may have won a special election in Pennsylvania. The vote is tight and absentee ballots need to be counted. A recount is possible. The point is, no matter who prevails, it will have absolutely no bearing on what happens in November.
I have some analysis of my own but will save that for later.
President Trump has, at times, been willing to listen to others and developed a nuanced position. Other times he goes charging off like a bull in a china shop. In his decision to protect the steel and aluminum industries, he is ignoring everyone else and substituting his opinions for facts.
International trade is enormously complicated. Countries spend years to hammer out agreements. The goal should be a level playing field. We charge a 2.5% tariff on Chinese cars entering the US while they charge 25% on ours. Obviously that is not fair.
I certainly don’t have a problem with renegotiating trade deals. That is not what President Trump is doing. He has arbitrarily decided two industries should not have to compete in the free market. He has his facts totally wrong. Over 70% of the steel we use is produced domestically. I looked at a steel company headquarted in the city I live. Their sales are booming and last year they made more than the previous four years combined.
Ultimately everyone loses. Those of us not employed in those industries will see prices rise. This will disproportionally affect the poor and slow the economy. He has declared an economic war on the rest of the world. Our most irresponsible trading partner, China, already has so many sanctions that they only have 3% of the import market. The countries hurt the most include some of our good friends. Their retaliation will hurt industries dependent on exports. Even the steel and aluminum industries will ultimately lose. Protection from the forces of the free market will keep them from innovating.
He has made a huge mistake. I would like to think he will eventually see the error of his ways but reflection is not part of his makeup.
Illegal immigration is a red hot political issue. People hold wildly different views. Public officials have sworn to uphold the law as it is written, not as they wish it would be. They certainly have some discretion. I have no problem if they tell police officers not to ask people their immigration status.
Sanctuary cities are another matter. They defy federal government requests to hold prisoners who are about to be released. The mayor of Oakland even tipped off people that a federal raid was coming. While over one hundred convicted felons were caught, many are still roaming the streets. I fail to understand why public officials put a higher priority on allowing criminals to remain here than ensuring the safety of their citizenry.
President Trump has tried to cut funds to sanctuary cities. This is doomed to fail since liberal federal judges take the position that President Obama had unlimited power while President Trump has virtually none. Courts ruled that the power to impose a travel ban are forfeited because of campaign statements. With DACA, they said Obama could create a new program contrary to existing law, but Trump can’t repeal it.
The government could explore moving jobs elsewhere. In particularly egregious cases, like the Oakland mayor, they should explore the possibility of criminal charges.
Please don’t interpret this as supporting Trump’s immigration policy. Like most political issues, I am in the middle. However, I refuse to compromise on the idea that we are a government of laws, not men.
There are a lot of scary things happening in the world. As an actuary, my career was spent evaluating risk. I used a combination of statistics and gut instinct. The general public doesn’t have my training and experience. Instead of looking at the likelihood of something happening, decisions are often made based on headlines.
There are many examples. Back in 2016 there was a huge panic over a tropical disease even though there were only a handful of cases in the entire country. Millions are afraid to fly even though there hasn’t been a commercial plane crash in years. Over one hundred people die in auto accidents every day but I have never heard of anyone being afraid to get in a car.
The Florida school shooting was a horrendous event. Everyone feels for the families of the children who were killed. However, they are a small percentage of those that lost children that day. Perhaps they died of cancer, car accident, suicide, homicide or other reasons. We can’t mourn them because we never heard of them.
Right now the debate over gun control is focused on how to save the next seventeen children. We should also think about all those anonymous children.