Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Guns, and Roses

Happy New Year everyone!

Sorry that there has been such a gap since my last post.  Beginning with the time spent picking up and returning my son to college for the Thanksgiving holiday, followed by a week of visiting my dad at hospice which led to his sorrowful passing, then on to the Christmas holiday and its hustle and bustle, it has been impossible for me to spend any time at my computer.   And frankly, and despite the plethora of "events" that have occurred in the news recently, I have been less than motivated.  I think of my dad very often, and generally those thoughts are accompanied by misty eyes, and/or tears.  Additionally, I have been working a lot, as the nature of both my jobs equates to much extra work. 

For now, rather than trying to jam all my thoughts into one huge post, I thought I would focus on just two topics.

Guns, and Roses

Guns, of course, refers to the tragic massacre which occurred in Connecticut last month.  I am pleased to see that President Obama has indicated he will propose some new gun laws.  Perhaps, since he does not have the albatross of worrying about a future election around his neck, he will thumb his nose at the NRA and propose a law which might make a difference.  Clearly, it is time to return to a ban on assault weapons.  I know there will be difficulty in defining exactly what an assault weapon is, and there will be attempts by the gun lobby to water down any restriction, but for me, any automatic weapon that can fire multiple rounds per second should be outlawed.  There is really only one purpose for such a weapon, and it is to kill.  Let's hope some sanity will descend upon Washington and such a ban will pass within the next year.

As for roses, I just read about a number of them in the December Smithsonian magazine.      

This issue features quick hitting articles under the umbrella phrase "Innovators Who are Rocking the World" each of whom received one of Smithsonian's 2012 American Ingenuity Awards.

To me, the most impressive is Pardis Sabeti.  She is a 36-year-old hyperkinetic physician and geneticist who has combined her studies of evolution and public health to reveal ways to understand the evolutionary nature of disease which may lead to new approaches to treat, and eradicate the worst of the infectious scourges that effect humanity.  And she plays in a rock n roll band!!! 

And oh, by the way, she was born in Tehran, Iran.  Keep that in mind when you hear closed minded people ranting about wanting their country back, ie, no one other than white people. 

Or perhaps you might be impressed by Jack Andraka.  All he did was develop a diagnostic test for one of the deadliest forms of cancer, pancreatic.  He did some of his research in the lab in his basement and the one at his high school.  Yes, high school, as Jack is only 16 and a sophomore in high school!

Or maybe you will enjoy reading about Elon Musk.  All he wants to do is change the course of humanity in the areas of energy and space exploration.  His Tesla electric car can travel 300 miles on a single charge, can accelerate from zero to sixty in 5.5 seconds and can seat five comfortably.  In the meantime, his company, SpaceX, has already launched multiple payloads into space to dock with the International Space Station (ISS), and is currently the only way the United States (military or otherwise) can access space and the ISS. 

You also might like learning about Behn Zeitlin's films, Bryan Sevenson's work with prisoners wrongly accused, Esperanza Spalding's music, Jim Anderson's work towards understanding the connection between climate change and the ozone layer, or Anne Kelly Knowles' work in historical geography.    

All innovators of our time, working today, now, to solve our problems, not just for Americans, but for all people of earth.  Truly roses among us.  And, while these people are famous in their fields, winners of various scientific and national grants to continue their work, they do so outside of "fame".  You won't see them of the cover of People Magazine, or on American Idol, or in Seaside Heights. 

Finally, and particularly for the researchers among them, they invariably plow their grants and scholarship money back into their research because they know that money is nice but working on and solving the problems of humanity, whether they be disease, climate change, or energy consumption, is the real purpose of life. 

Let's all try just a bit harder to make the world a better place like these fine people, and perhaps, at our memorial service, it will be said that the world was a better place for our having lived.  A more glorious tribute cannot be acheived.    


  1. Hi Joe. I've always been a bit ambivalent about gun ownership. I've never owned one although I carried a .45 in my survival vest while in the military. I agree that there should be some limitations on firepower in the hands of the general populace. However, I find it worrisome when I hear talk of executive orders, especially when it has to do with the 2nd amendment rights of law abiding citizens. I think the President sometimes thinks he's above the constitution and looks for ways to get around it. Any new laws should be enacted in accordance with the constitution through the legislature.

  2. Bill,

    Thanks for the comment.
    I have not heard talk of President Obama using an executive law to make illegal certain assault type weaopns. If he were to do that, I would also be concerned, although not worried as our system of government allows for challenges when one branch of government attempts to enact laws without the consent of the other two. Obviously, any executive order viewed as contrary to the 2nd amendment would be challenged in court, just as the Affordable Health Care Act was in Obama's first term.

    The question is, do you support limitations on private citizens being able to purchase weapons which are capable of multiple round firing in seconds. Weapons that are certainly not being used for hunting, but only for killing other private citizens.

    And, if so, just as we limit the legality of private citizens to own flame throwers or grenade launchers, do such laws actually violate the 2nd amendment, and if they do, violate it in the name of keeping our citizens safe. It is similar to the alleged illegality of yelling fire in a theatre. Do we consider that a violation of the amendment guaranteeing free speech, or an exception to that amendment to properly safeguard Americans from a panic situation that may do harm?