Friday, September 06, 2013

How Many Died Today?

Twenty years ago, the Congress of the United States sentenced thousands of its citizens to death. They attacked research on firearm deaths and injuries.  They attacked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for funding firearm research.  And to drive the nail home, the CDC saw $2.6 million stripped from its budget. Coincidentally, that is the same amount they had spent on firearms research the previous year.  Because there has been so little scientific research on firearms done, it has been impossible to enact measures to reduce the incidence of death and injury.  How many lives might have been saved had this action not been taken?  We will never know.

Joe Nocera, writing in an Op Ed piece for The New York Times, states that Slate's gun-death tally, which is included at the end of each of his blog posts, has recorded 7,897 deaths since the Newtown massacre last December-almost three times the total killed on Sept. 11, and nearly double the number of U.S. soldiers killed over the course of the nine-year-long Iraq War.

As astonishing as that number is, there is a glaring disparity between the C.D.C figures (they are still allowed to report death records) and Slate's running total.  The reason, Slate has explained, is that its tally is culled from news reports, and the C.D.C figures are taken from death records. "Using the most recent CDC estimates. . .it is likely that as of today, 9/5/2013, roughly 23,381 people have died from guns in the United States since the Newtown shootings.  Compare that number of deaths reported in the news and you can see how under-told the story of gun violence in America really is. "

Here is the gun report for September 6, 2013:
A 2 month old in Minneapolis, a 6 month old shot by her 3 year old brother in Charlston, S.C., a 12 year old boy shot by his 15 year old cousin in New Mexico, a 14 year old boy in Newark, N.J., a 16 year old and another man in one shooting in Philadelphia, 4 people in Charlotte, N.C., a 72 year old woman in Longmont, Colorado, a 26 year old woman in Tennessee, a passenger on a bus shot by another passenger in Houston, Texas, a 29 year old man in Austin, Texas, a man in his 20s in Chicago, a 33 year old and a 44 year old in a murder-suicide in Minnesota, a 38 year old man in Yakima, Washington, a man in Boston, Massachusetts, a 36 year old man in Rochester, NY, a man in Tallahassee, Fl, a 19 year old in Toledo, Ohio, a man in North Kansas City, MO, a man in Houston, Texas, a 55 year old man and a 20 year old man in Elkhart, Indiana, a 21 year old in Portage, Wisconsin.

These were real people, folks.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Don't Yell At Me, Mom!

    Why do we need to see the results of another "study" to tell us what we intuitively know?  Do you respond well to your boss who yells at you?  Or do you respect the one who praises you when you do a good job?

   Well, guess what?  Your teenager is just like you.  Shouting and yelling are not effective for them, either.

    A study by Ming-Te Wang of the University of Pittsburgh showed that " 13 year olds who received a lot of harsh verbal discipline from their parents were more likely to have symptoms of depression at age 14."  Not surprisingly they also exhibited anger, aggression and general bad behavior.

    Remember "do unto others?"  If you want respect, give respect. If you are losing it and cursing or name-calling, don't be shocked if you hear the same kind of talk coming out of your teen's mouth. And, of course, that just escalates the situation.

   "When it comes to rearing teens, "the big three are good communications, love, and limits," according to adolescent psychologist Neil Bernstein, author of "How To Keep Your Teenager Out of Trouble and What To Do If You Can't."

   So just remember "Calm The F*** Down."

Monday, September 02, 2013

Want to lose weight? Go to Dubai!

The powers that be in the United Arab Emirates are concerned about rising obesity rates and came up with an incentive program that could only happen in Dubai.  Anyone who loses more than 22 pounds earns 3 grams of gold for each 2.2 pounds shed.  

Hundreds of people signed up for the challenge (surprise!) and the biggest loser was a man who lost 48 pounds.

This challenge was for five weeks, but I wonder how many people went home with gold in their hands intending to gain back all the weight they lost so they could enter the next one!

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Kudos to Obama

I am not a big fan of Presidents in general, believing that the Giant Amoeba we call the "U.S. Government" is where the power really is, but I have to give Obama credit for doing what he individually can to move our country from one with about the same number of homicides per year as Colombia and Russia, to one with laws more like other industrialized nations.  Without a big Special Report, the Obama administration quietly announced two new executive actions on gun control Thursday morning.

The first prevents those who are not eligible to purchase a gun (felons, for example) from registering firearms in a corporation's name.  Now, anyone associated with the corporation must undergo a background check.  Small progress, but I'll take it.

The second is a no-brainer.  It prevents anyone from bringing back into the U.S. military-grade weapons that have been given to U.S. allies (like the rebels in Syria).  We may not be able to protect Syrian citizens, but these guns won't be used to kill American kids.  

A majority of Americans are in favor of expanded background checks, and it will be interesting to see whether those in Congress who voted against any kind of sensible gun policy will be re-elected.

"The president's actions are definitely a good step toward keeping public attention that Congress hasn't acted yet," Hatalsky said. "They've done everything they can do without Congress, and the things that they can still do are pretty small."

She added that continuing incidents of gun violence also promise to keep the issue alive in the months to come, as Congress reconvenes.  The most recent, of course, being the teens who shot and killed the Australian baseball player. "With a motive that's both chilling and simple – to break up the boredom of an Oklahoma summer – three teenagers randomly targeted an Australian collegiate baseball player who was attending school in the U.S. and killed him for fun, prosecutors said Tuesday as they charged two of the boys with murder."