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Dear Frank, I hope you’ve had a good life.

Dear Frank, I hope you’ve had a good life.

Back when I was in my early 20’s, I did the backpacking in Europe trip that young people often wanted to do. This would be in the late 70’s and I guess, in some ways, I cheated. You see, I had relatives in Oslo, Stockholm, and on the island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea whom I visited so I wasn’t totally on my own. I have great memories from that trip and several stories, but this is about Frank and those random people all of us meet and say goodbye to.

I began that trip by flying into Copenhagen and spending a few days in a hostel. There I met Frank, who was from South Africa, and he and I, as well as a couple of other guys, spent those days exploring the city. It was fun and Frank and I got to know each other as friends. When it was time to head in different directions, I thought of asking for his address so we could keep in touch, but decided it was a little weird. So, we both looked at each other awkwardly, said goodbye, and headed off to new places and new people. I think of Frank once in a while and others who I’ve crossed paths with. Not the individuals who I passed in hallways, or who I paid for groceries, but those who I got to know a little. I hope they went on to do great things. Mostly, I hope they’re happy.

Today’s Title Is… Addressing Gun Violence In America (edited version of parts 1-3)

Today’s Title Is… Addressing Gun Violence In America (edited version of parts 1-3)

I had hoped to write this when we weren’t in the aftermath of another mass shooting, but that appears to be impossible. Let’s begin with certain realities.

First, do we really have a gun problem in America? Millions of Americans are willing to accept over thirty-thousand gun deaths annually as the price to pay for individual rights. Second, regardless of what steps are taken, we won’t eliminate all murders, suicides, and mass shootings. The goal should be to reduce these deaths substantially, but they’re not all going away. Third, let’s drop the name calling and labels, such as “gun nut” or “anti-gun liberal”. Stop interpreting the second amendment to justify your viewpoint. Fourth, if the only reason certain individuals, groups, or organizations are involved is to “defend their turf”, they won’t be part of any solution. Real changes have to be based on compromise and acknowledging that the number of American deaths involving guns is unacceptable.

One priority is how law abiding citizens should not be penalized for following the law when criminals don’t. Whether you identify yourself as a proponent of “gun control” or are a supporter of “gun rights”, or even somewhere in the middle, no one can argue that there is not a flood of weapons in the hands of criminals. What to do?

  1. Destroy guns collected in buy back programs and guns confiscated after arrests when no longer needed for the legal process. Also, I read that some police departments are so strapped for cash to update their weapons that they sell their older guns to the public. Understandable, but unacceptable.
  2. Take advantage of technological advances that limit who can use a particular weapon, usually referred to as “personalized guns”, such as fingerprint scanners, etc.
  3. Administer harsher penalties for those in possession of illegal weapons or convicted of crimes involving firearms, as well as limits on gun ownership for those with previous convictions.

Assuming that we can’t wait to take action, a few specific steps may produce big results.

Since research shows the majority of gun related deaths are from suicides and accidents, institute a ten day waiting period nation wide to eliminate spontaneous purchases, and require gun owners to secure their guns in a locked safe or cabinet when they aren’t home. This should help to protect children and prevent thefts.

I’m tired of the “assault weapons” discussion. Guns designed for military use, with the express purpose of firing as many rounds as possible in the shortest amount of time, should not be available to the general public.

As to gun registration and the buying process, I know that different states have different requirements. However, we need to have some uniform principles that require a background check every time there is a new owner of a gun, including online and gun show sales, as well as the sale/gifting between friends or family members.

When an individual commits a crime, especially a gruesome one such as a mass shooting, we assume they have mental health issues. Certainly, we need to review our reporting and eliminate the possibility that these individuals should have access to guns. However, let’s make sure that we don’t simply see mental illness as causing all violent crime.

Finally, we must keep in mind that gun ownership is entrenched in American society and history and that’s not changing- there are many reasons why Americans choose to own a gun. The focus must be to address types of weapons owned, keeping track of who’s in possession of guns, and making sure that gun owners are both knowledgeable and well trained in the operation of their weapon.

For those who say that most gun owners are law abiding citizens, I believe this to be true. I wonder, though, how many crimes were committed by law abiding citizens until they were no longer law abiding citizens?

 

 

 

Today’s Title Is… Fixing the National Football League

Today’s Title Is… Fixing the National Football League

The National Football League needs some “fixing”. There have been way too many controversies, the tv ratings are down, and, quite honestly, the attitudes relating to, and the image of the league, could stand improvement.

To be clear, I’ve never been an NFL player, coach, owner, etc. For that matter, I never played in high school- one of my biggest regrets ever. I’m writing strictly as a fan.

In no particular order, here are fixes, some easy and others not so much, that would address problems as I see them.

The owners need to be quiet. They’re all perceived as billionaires that only care about money anyway, and should stay behind the scenes, especially when embroiled in their sport’s controversies and societal problems.

Think about supply and demand. It just may be that the supply of games on so many days and nights exceeds the demand from fans. Thursday games were added a while ago, and Thanksgiving games seem to have multiplied, not to mention the Saturday games that start earlier than they used to. Encourage people to look forward to football again by limiting games to Sunday and Monday.

Get serious about standards, discipline, and professionalism. First, football is a violent game regardless, and probably appears worse by the multiple camera angles and replays, but certain on and off the field behaviors have changed the image of the league for many. On the field, address the more violent actions, such as fights and plays where the body is used as a weapon, such as helmet to helmet hits. I truly believe that suspensions and substantial fines will work. For example, among the numerous incidents that have recently occurred, there was a fist fight early in a particular game in which two players began throwing punches with the action extending well beyond the sidelines. Suspending each of those players three games, including the loss of game checks, would certainly act to deter them from further incidents and other players as well. The same can be said of a player who launched himself into the body of another player who was on the ground after the play was over. A one game suspension was viewed by quite a few in the media as a needed “week off” for the offending player. A suspension for multiple games would be viewed quite differently, especially if accompanied by the loss of game checks. Second, although it may seem minor, enforce rules regarding media obligations, also, because it appears to fans that players are babied. Third, as to serious off the field issues, such as drug use, domestic violence, etc. fair solutions aren’t easy to come by because there is a legal process, in addition to the role played by the NFL.  If, however, the league decides to take action, the consequences must be substantial. “Small” fines, such as $10,000-$12,000, for players who often make millions of dollars do not act as a deterrent. Likewise, players who receive multiple chances or whose punishment is delayed again and again severely hurt the image of the league. Bluntly speaking, the NFL must reinforce the notion that it is a league of PROFESSIONAL athletes.

I’m probably in the minority when it comes to missing the days when celebrations didn’t occur after every play. I know about the whole “let them have fun” thing. Quite honestly, I’m sick of players not just celebrating with a touchdown dance, but having a choreographed routine with several teammates. This sets a bad example for younger players and suggests a complete lack of sportsmanship and humility from athletes who are perceived as spoiled anyway. By the way, what’s next for celebrations?

The topic that’s getting the most attention this season concerning the National Football League is protesting racial injustice by kneeling during the national anthem. There are strong feelings on all sides of this issue, but there is little doubt that it has had a negative effect on the league, with many viewing players as rich, spoiled young men who are showing disrespect for America, the flag, and our military. I don’t believe that was the original intent, nor do I believe it’s the intent now, but this action is still hurting the image of the league, and the message about racial injustice is becoming lost. I also think that the recent agreement involving the league giving tens of millions of dollars to address this issue is viewed as just another case of billionaires using money as a solution and the fact that the players agreed to this is also damaging. Money doesn’t solve every problem.

**This is my own “pet peeve”. Please. I’m begging you, as well as the owners of teams in other professional sports. Stop “forcing/intimidating/bullying” cities into building new stadiums at taxpayer expense. The tax paying citizens in these cities often can’t afford to go to the games in the first place and there’s immense frustration when billionaires force situations where those with little money pay higher taxes so those same billionaires can avoid paying for stadiums and make even more money. I realize that “forcing”, etc. isn’t a fair term to describe the actions of owners, but it’s pretty close.

Finally, emphasize the good things the NFL participates in even more than they do now, such as charitable giving and players involved in worthwhile causes. Good news rarely gets the attention or recognition that it deserves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today’s Title Is… Words Politicians Should Never Use

Today’s Title Is… Words Politicians Should Never Use

I’ll get right to it. Politicians seem to be an entirely different species. Most of us don’t believe much of what we hear from those running for office or already in office and that’s really too bad because I’m sure there are people in politics who really are sincere and honest in their dealings with constituents, the media, and anyone else that’s paying attention. I’d like to offer one suggestion that would improve at least my own image of politicians, and that would be to avoid using the following words and phrases.

When a politician says, “trust me”, that’s usually a sign that the listener or viewer is going to hear a dishonest statement next.

Beginning a thought with “honestly” means exactly the same thing.

I have a friend who often uses the word “folks” to describe people he thinks are nice. When I hear a politician say the word, it usually sounds like the person is trying to convince voters that he or she is just a regular person. That’d be ok, but I often hear it from those who don’t act like regular people.

“I don’t recall.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a politician say those words when asked a question that they don’t want to answer. That way, they can avoid be punished for whatever they did in the first place.

“I’m going to fight for …” is a phrase that I hear from every politician trying to get votes. It makes it sound like they’re on your side and they’ll stop at nothing to do whatever it takes to improve your life. Really?

“I’m an outsider.” I suppose anyone not in office already is an outsider, but since most voters don’t seem to trust those already in office, candidates want to appear as if they’re not part of the regular political process.

Any that you want to share?

Jim