Monthly Archives: February 2018

The Dangerous and Irresponsible Video Game Diversion

Politics is the diversion of trivial men who, when they succeed at it, become important in the eyes of more trivial men.
                 – George Jean Nathan

Let’s begin with a word problem:  The United States has experienced 1,624 mass shootings in 1,870 days.  Over the years, many shootings took place in a school, resulting in 137 deaths since Columbine.  Overall, the largest body counts were in Las Vegas (59), Orlando (50), Newtown (28), Sutherland Springs (27), Parkland (17), San Bernardino (16), and Aurora (12).  Those are among 35 mass shootings that involved use of an AR-15 style rifle.  Many assailants were able to legally acquire their weapons, including the AR-15s, while displaying symptoms of mental unbalance.  Choose the most appropriate resolution to the problem:

  1. Prevent the sale of AR-15s and similar weapons, so that would-be mass shooters would not have access to them.
  2. Do nothing.
  3. Ban violent video games.

According to Arizona State Representative Mark Finchem and others, the correct answer is “C.” 

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Who Elected The Blond Bear?

There was a television documentary in the Sixties, in the depth of the Cold War, that examined how nuclear war with the Soviet Union would impact two cities in the United States:  New York City and Tucson.  New York was an obvious choice, given its prominence, but Tucson?  In the 1960s, Tucson was home to a Strategic Air Command (SAC) facility and ringed by an array of 18 Title missiles armed with nuclear warheads, which made it a primary Soviet target.  The documentarians’ cold assessment:  at least a million people would perish in New York City; nobody in Tucson would survive.

A few days after that documentary, I dove under my desk at school as a siren wailed, a Death Banshee signaling a make-believe nuclear attack.  My school was less than ten miles from Tucson’s SAC base and pretty much in the bullseye of the missile ring.  I had seen the documentary, yet I played along, diving under my desk with my classmates when the siren wailed, acting like it would make a difference when I understood if I wasn’t incinerated by the fireball I’d be pulverized by the shock wave.  We knew a lot about the effects of a nuclear blast back then, as we knew we were helpless pawns in history’s most dangerous chess match.  That’s why we visited Jellystone Park.

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The Year of the Dog

Salty was on the 71st floor of World Trade Center Tower 1; Roselle was on the 78th.  Both were at work when terror struck on 911, serving as guide dogs for their blind masters who worked in the building.  Salty and Roselle were yellow Labrador retrievers, trained at Guiding Eyes for the Blind in Yorktown Heights, and had been with their humans since the late 90s.  When the plane hit the building and panic, death, and chaos surrounded them, Salty and Roselle went to work. 

Salty was sitting next to Omar Rivera, blinded 14 years earlier by glaucoma.  Omar grabbed for Salty’s leash and the dog calmly threaded his way through people and debris to the fire escape.  At one point, a well-meaning but unknowing co-worker tried to grab Salty’s leash, thinking the dog needed help.  Salty refused to leave Omar’s side and made it clear he had everything under control.  It took 75 minutes to descend 71 floors to the lobby.  They were a few blocks away when the tower collapsed.  Salty had saved them both.

Roselle was asleep when the building was struck by the aircraft 15 floors above the office where she and her human, Michael Hingson, worked.  Michael was blind since birth and met Roselle in 1999.  Roselle, like Salty, rescued her human companion, along with 30 others who followed them down the fire escape.  About half way to the lobby they passed several firefighters who were climbing the stairs and Roselle stopped to greet them.  After descending 1,463 steps, Roselle and Michael were on the ground floor.  As they left the building, Tower 2 suddenly collapsed, spewing debris that showered on them.  “She saved my life,” Michael said later.  “While everyone ran in panic, Roselle remained totally focused on her job. While debris fell around us, and even hit us, Roselle stayed calm.”  She led Michael to a subway station, where she rescued a woman who had been blinded by flying dust and debris.

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