Archive for February, 2010

Starbucks vs. Gun Control

According to this article from The Huffington Post, gun control advocates have found out that Starbucks is one of the largest chain stores that allow their patrons to openly carry firearms into their stores–if that complies with local laws, of course.  The reporter in the article wrote, “Just as shops can deny service to barefoot customers, restaurants and stores in some states can declare their premises gun-free zones.”

The move by Starbucks prompted The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence to circulate a petition to ban handguns in all Starbucks locations.  The petition gathered 26,000 signatures which stated that Starbucks should “offer espresso shots, not gunshots.”

Although I may lean to the left politically a little bit more than I do to the right, I do think that people should have the right to carry their own weapon anywhere they go except for in certain cases such as in schools (with some exceptions), police stations, hospitals, etc.

While I do think some sort of psychological testing should be set in place for people wanting to acquire either a personal firearm or a license to own a firearm, there are too many flaws in this system to keep individuals from getting a firearm, therefore I do think that we should have an armed citizenry to possibly keep people from committing such crimes.

February 18, 2010–Austin’s Oklahoma City Bombing

I have heard it said in the last day and a half that the attack on a federal building in Austin has “become Austin’s Oklahoma City Bombing.”  Luckily, only one innocent person was killed as well as Joe Stacks, 53, the pilot of the plane that crashed into the Echelon building in northwest Austin.

There were also thirteen people injured, two seriously.  One was treated in Austin, but one was injured so badly that he had to be flown to Brooke Army Medical Center’s burn unit in San Antonio.

This attack has hit home for me in too many ways:

  • I know the man who was injured so badly he had to be transported to San Antonio.  As of last night, he was said to not be expecting any surgeries and is planning to leave the hospital sometime next week.  He will then need 4-6 weeks of recovery before he is well.
  • Stacks’s house is one block away from some close family friends and just two houses down from someone else I know.  This home is two miles from my church.
  • The office building that was hit is about three miles from my dad’s office.  It is about five blocks from where I get my car serviced.  It is in the same immediate area where one of my friends worked last summer.
  • The spokesman for the Stacks family is an elder at my church and I know him very well.  He did not previously know the family; a mutual friend referred the family to him.

It just hit too close to home–almost too close.

In the last few years, I have wondered how a terrorist–or a disgruntled tax payer, in this case, could cause a lot of harm and damage without really being a ‘blip on the radar’ until after the event.  This is exactly what I thought of: someone with a private jet–owned or leased could take it and fly (below radar level if it is a longer distance) it into a building or landmark of great recognizability.

Only one thing is different in this case–it was in a nondescript building on a stretch of road that has many office buildings, hotels, and shopping center in the immediate area.

The Associated Press spoke to one aviation security analyst (see article here), Tom Walsh, said that terrorists would realize that small planes, similar to the Piper Cherokee PA-28 that Stacks flew, do not pack enough of a punch that they would want to attack with.

“I don’t see a gaping security hole here,” Walsh said. “In terms of aviation security, there are much bigger fish to fry than worrying about small aircraft.”

When the world comes together…

…NBC doesn’t let everyone see it.

According to The Washington Post, the NBC network’s parent company, NBC Universal, has decided to only offer online video of certain events and only to people who currently subscribe to cable or satellite companies that carry NBC Universal’s channels.

If you go to certain videos on NBC’s olympic website, you will see that you are able to watch a variety of videos.  But when you click on some of those videos, you are prompted to give NBC your name, address, phone number, social security number, your AA (American Airlines) Advantage points number, and your Marriott rewards points number–okay, not really, but you are required to give them your account number from your cable provider.

Some people will argue–well, you have a TV!  Go home and watch it!  Well, some people cannot do so due to other obligations such as work.

My proposal: NBC should offer live streaming of EVERY channel in their enterprise (NBC, MSNBC, USA, etc.) and maybe a web-exclusive channel or two and offer it to online viewers for $25-$40 for the duration of the Olympics.  I guarantee NBC would make a HUGE profit on this.  And so what if cable companies aren’t happy about it?!  Give the cable and satellite companies (as a whole) 20% of the profits!  It’s a win-win situation for all parties involved.

Some Interesting Poll Numbers

I happened to stumble across this while reading about the happenings of everyone’s favorite political-wannabe Sarah Palin.

CBS News took a poll (of which you can read the results here) and asked people if they would like to see Sarah Palin run for President of the United States.

71 percent of Americans said they did not want to see her as a candidate while 21 percent wanted to see a candidate Palin, with 8 percent undecided.

Of course there are going to be more Republicans that want to see her run than Democrats, but over half of all Republicans, 56 percent, do not want to see her run.  Let me reiterate that, the majority of Republicans don’t want Sarah Palin to run for President.  88 percent of Democrats also don’t want to see her run, along with 65 percent of Independents.

In the same survey, CBS asked the participants in the poll their view of Sarah Palin: 41 percent had an unfavorable view, 26 percent had a favorable one, 19 percent were undecided and 13 percent hadn’t heard enough about her (which kind of shocks me because she pretty much dominates the news–usually being attacked by pundits from both sides of the political spectrum).

It seems kind of funny to me that she is such a popular conservative spokesperson while most do not want to see her run for president–58 percent of conservatives (not the same thing as Republicans) don’t want to see her run.  Although, I guess it makes sense because they want to see her as a controversial political pundit on television like Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck.  Just the thought of those three having a very dominant influence on part of the political spectrum makes me want to throw up.

The “R-word”

Last year while a senior in high school at a K-12 private school, I worked with children before and after school whose parents weren’t able to drop them off or pick them up due to their occupation, office location, or were just simply busy.  I work with a boy named Aidan, then a fourth grader, whose mother, Amy, is a special education/life skills teacher at an elementary school in a high-low, low-income area of Austin.  As I began to get to know Amy, Aidan, and Amy’s daughter, Maysie, then a seventh grader at the same school, I began to have an occasional meal over at their house, which was close to the school.  One time, I was commenting on something I had heard and I said, “Well, that’s retarded…” and continued on with my statement.  When I had finished, I looked up and saw Aidan wide-eyed in surprise, Maysie in about the same situation, and Amy yelled, “What did you just say?!?”  She then began to explain why saying the “R-word” is bad.  I began to realize it as well and began to try to censor myself at all times, but especially when I was around that family, from saying it.

Sarah Palin, last Tuesday, February 2, blasted President Barack Obama’s Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel by saying, on her Facebook blog, that he should get fired from the administration for saying the “R-word” in a closed meeting at the White House.

Just a few days later, on his show, Rush Limbaugh decided to add the “R-word” to his rather extensive, unappealing vocabulary.  After being notified of Limbaugh’s statement, a Palin aide said, “Gov. Palin believes crude and demeaning name-calling at the expense of others is disrespectful.”  While it was reported by the Washington Post that she was also calling Limbaugh out on his use of the “R-word,” that statement was later explained to POLITICO in which the spokesperson then said it was bad if anyone says it but the statement was not calling out Limbaugh.

Personally, this makes me think of the family I know and still eat meals with and hang out with pretty regularly when I go back home from college.  To me, it would equate to Amy telling her daughter Maysie that she can use the “R-word” and it wouldn’t phase her at all, and then telling her son Aidan that he should never use it, that it is a demeaning word (which in my opinion, it is) and scolding and punishing him when he decides to use the word.  It would be hypocritical.

Gov. Palin needs to have some decency and not let Limbaugh get away with this–if you are going to slam one person for using it, you need to hold that standard to everyone, not just the people with which you agree politically.  It is hypocritical of her organization to hold Rahm Emanuel accountable for his use of the word in a private meeting and not hold Rush Limbaugh accountable for using the word on his nationally “acclaimed” radio show.

I’m sure there is some correlation between the fact that if Rush Limbaugh decided he didn’t like Palin criticizing him, he could turn a large part of the conservative American population against her and thus putting a big dent in, if not completely ending, her political career.