The world as beheld by the lovely Lady Jabberwock -- a realm of interesting, funny, cute, bizarre... basically anything that takes her fancy.

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Eye of The Beholder

Google is the Devil — Apparently


See that Google Doodle up there? That’s Cesar Chavez. Today is Cesar Chavez Day. (It’s not a federal holiday, but President Barack Obama proclaimed March 31 as “Cesar Chavez Day” in the United States, urging Americans to “observe this day with appropriate service, community, and educational programs to honor César Chávez’s enduring legacy.”) But apparently, Cesar Chavez (even though he’s dead and good works not withstanding) is a bastard and Google is the spawn of Satan because Google decided to honour him over something Easter themed.

That’s right. Today, there was major controversy because Google (who hasn’t done anything Easter themed since 2000) decided to honour this remarkable man on his designated holiday. Because Google didn’t do what Bing did, which was to throw easter eggs (a pagan and sometimes secular symbol) all over their page. Because Google didn’t do what they’ve never done, use some religious symbol (like “The Empty Tomb”) to acknowledge the Christian holiday. Since they didn’t do these things, the obvious assumption should be that Google is anti-christian, right? Let’s all change our homepages and run to Bing, who understands Christianity so much better!<sarcasm>

Are people really that stupid? Google has always been secular with their Doodles, for one. For two, just because there aren’t pictures of Jesus or “The Empty Tomb” or even dubious easter eggs and bunnies, doesn’t mean that Google is anti-christian. All it means is that Google chose to do what it’s always done — pick a significant person or event to honour today. That they didn’t pick Jesus Christ is not a slight, but par for the course. They never pick anyone/anything that is strictly religious. If it doesn’t have a secular side, Google doesn’t do it. (Even the few Saints days they’ve honoured have secular or nationalistic sides.)

As for honouring Cesar Chavez (who some people out there seem to be confusing with dictator Hugo Chavez), I think it’s highly appropriate. It is his designated holiday, and … if you really want to get down to it, his civil rights activism was prompted and guided by his Christian faith. He is an exemplar of all that is good in Christians. He did what Jesus the Nazarene did in his lifetime — helping the abused, the downtrodden, and the disenfranchised. So why are so many Christians so angry seeing him honoured today? Simply because he’s not Jesus? We’ve already established that Google doesn’t do strictly religious themes, so Cesar Chavez seems an excellent choice. For non-Christians, his life and work remind us to seek fairness and freedom for all. And for Christians, he serves as a living example of conducting one’s life as Jesus taught his followers.

The vile hatred of Google and the Doodle today seems the opposite of that. A very un-christian outpouring of vitriol on a purely secular company, and on a dead man — who, in his life, did absolutely nothing to deserve such unfounded spite. It’s ironic that on the anniversary of Jesus’ supposed resurrection from death by crucifixion, it’s Cesar Chavez (a man who lived the Christian creed) who is being crucified by a narrow-minded and vicious public. With all the howling out there today about the Risen Christ, it’s bizarre that none of those protesting ever stopped to think about one of their most famous slogans — WWJD (What Would Jesus Do). I’m absolutely sure it wouldn’t have been this.

Recreational Is Not Acceptable

"Getting drunk and driving 100 miles an hour is also fun, but it’s still illegal. Same with crystal meth. The point is there is a social cost to allowing recreational gun ownership, and gun owners need to acknowledge we are all paying a certain price for their entertainment. For those of us who never have and never will own a gun, it is most definitely not worth it."

Not So Fun (via wilwheaton)

Lady Jabberwock says:

This is one of the problems I see regarding responsible gun ownership. There shouldn’t be any such thing as “recreational” gun ownership. Guns are not toys. Guns are tools, that happen to be weapons. If you are shooting them for no other purpose than the excitement of shooting a gun, you are an idiot. And that’s why I think people who own guns need to be taught not only how to shoot, but when to shoot. However, I don’t think the right to own guns should be restricted to a select few or eliminated. For one thing, it leaves only the criminals and the government with access to guns, and if that doesn’t scare you, it should.

For those of you too stupid to know why and when to shoot a gun, here’s the short list:

  • Practising accuracy and skill on a safe range
  • To kill animals for food purposes
  • To serve your country during a war
  • To defend your life and/or the lives of others from another person with a gun pointed at you or innocent bystanders

See that last one? The wording is important. If your potential assailant is unarmed, or armed with something less lethal than a gun, shooting them doesn’t have to be your first option. See the part where the gun should be pointed at you or other innocent people and that those lives are in danger? The assessment of the threat is just as important.

The point? Guns are weapons. They are meant to kill things. And there are legitimate reasons you might have to do so. But without proper training, anyone with a gun is potentially dangerous. Gun control/restriction isn’t the answer. Education is.

(See my post below for how my opinions on this relate to the shootings in Sandy Hook Elementary.)

Better Gun Control? Maybe Not…

Since hearing about the Sandy Hook Shootings this afternoon, I have heard at least half the people I encountered raging wildly about how we need stronger gun control laws in this country. That, if the laws were stricter, tragedies like this one wouldn’t happen. And I find myself respectfully disagreeing. (Mind you, I’m an Assistant Medical Examiner, and I see and work on cases of gun violence frequently. And I abhor it. But I still disagree.) And I’ll tell you why….

Fact #1 (in this case): The guns used in this shooting were not illegally purchased guns. They were not even guns legally purchased by the shooter. They were legally purchased and registered by his mother. The question for me now becomes this — why were these firearms not secured in a locked gun locker? Why did the shooter have such easy access to guns registered to his mother? This fact is what caused part of this tragedy. Had he not had access to these firearms, he could not have perpetrated this crime so easily.

Fact #2: Even without the easy access to his mother’s firearms, the shooter could have just as easily stolen someone else’s legally registered weapon. Illegal firearms account for a relatively small percentage of the gun violence I see in our morgue. (I’m excluding cases involving drug trafficking and organised crime.) More often, the weapons used in the crime are legal, registered, and in a number of cases, appropriated from their owners (stolen) by the shooter to commit the crime.

This says to me what we need isn’t more gun control, but more education and emphasis on control of your own guns. Secure them, people. A drawer, a closet, under a pillow or mattress — these are not appropriate places to keep a gun. (Note to convenience store owners/couriers/doctors/other individuals who keep guns because of high risk jobs: keeping it under a counter/in a bag/in a drawer is also useless. Buy a holster. If it’s not on your person, then for protection purposes it might as well be on the moon.)

Fact # 3: People who want to shoot other people always find a way. I know that’s not a comforting thought. I know it makes people feel better to think that if there were fewer people with guns, there’d be less gun violence. But it simply isn’t true. Shootings which happen solely because a gun was a weapon of opportunity (i.e. an unplanned crime) are rare, and often (but not always) involve domestic violence in addition to the gun violence. The only thing that keeping guns out of the hands of responsible people does, is make them more vulnerable to those who have guns. Illegal guns will not go away with stricter gun control laws. Criminals will always keep avenues open to get firearms.

But the key word here is responsible. I think that there is not enough training for people who purchase guns legally. Too many people buy guns without even really knowing how to use them responsibly, let alone safely secure them. (A few  sessions at a gun range don’t count as knowing how to use them responsibly.) Rather than more gun control laws, I would advocate mandatory gun safety courses. Not just teaching how to shoot, but when to shoot. Teaching how to secure a weapon properly when storing, and how to secure one properly if carried.

Fact #4: Even if one eliminated all guns, everywhere, it would not eliminate scenes of mass killing. Guns are not the only means by which a criminal can go on a killing spree. It’s just the easiest method. Any person determined to cause harm to large numbers would find another method. (Explosives are also relatively easy, though they require more planning and time.) There are no easy answers to save people from such individuals. Even community vigilance rarely works, because such individuals tend to keep a low profile until they commit their crimes.

Conclusion: So what are we to do? The truth is, there is no reliable method of prevention. You can only make the law-abiding more educated about the guns they possess, and punish those who commit acts of gun violence. I wish I could lie and say that better laws will make us safer, but they won’t. Because you’re talking about individuals who don’t respect any laws. Until the human race evolves beyond violence (which may never happen), we can only do our best to deal with the aftermath of violence, and teach those law-abiding citizens who possess weapons how/when to use them and how to protect others from their weapons.

I know that at times like these, we’d like the solution to a be a simple one. Something to prevent these sorts of tragic events from ever happening again. Especially when it involves children. But that’s really like trying to slap a band-aid on a six inch gash. It might make you feel better for having done something, but it doesn’t solve the problem. There is no panacea for this problem, only steps we can take to fix some of the symptoms. The disease has been with us from the beginning of mankind, and likely will never have a cure. We can only battle it as we move forward.

My heart goes out to all those affected by this tragedy, and I hope they can see a way to find peace after such horrific and senseless violence. It is their needs that we as a community should focus on now, and see that they get all the help and support they need to move beyond this event.

Speaking Into The Silence

I don’t talk much about my work with anyone, for good reason. My job, however necessary to society, is one society would rather not even think about. It’s a difficult thing to think about for most people. But I doubt they ever consider how much more difficult it is for me, who must witness and experience it, but never discuss it. Unlike nearly everyone else, I can’t talk about having a bad day at my job, because even on a good day, the topic is taboo.

Don’t get me wrong. Most days, I love my job. Difficult as it can be at times, I take great pride in what I do. I get to speak for those who can’t speak for themselves, bring closure to families, and sometimes, bring justice to those who deserve it. But some days, the facts and the answers don’t bring satisfaction. Some days, it feels like there’s too much senselessness in how life and death plays out.

I’ve had that situation the past few days. And it brings me to a moment when this work is overwhelming. I’m feeling angry, frustrated, and my faith in humanity has been dealt another crushing blow. But for selfishness, insensitivity, and general callousness, the case I’m working on shouldn’t have happened. I keep asking myself why no one reached out to help, why people turned a blind eye to what was right in front of them. What in the world was more important than this person’s life?

And while I have done my job now, and spoken for the dead, there’s no one for me to speak to, to vent and make sense of the senseless. I go to bed angry and upset, and loathing that part of human nature that makes some turn away when they should take action. Life could have triumphed, and instead, there is death. This malaise will pass. It always does. But until then, I struggle with the one set of answers I can never reconcile or understand.

I know this wasn’t the most cheery post. For that, I’m sorry. But I send it out into the ether to resolve it for myself, rather than for the entertainment of anyone. Here, I can talk to no one, and everyone, and it helps me. For those who have stuck with my venting thus far, thank you. You are a wonderful and compassionate person, something the world needs more of.

This is a scene of my perfect home, it really is. This is the home I would love to have — asian, tropical, and full of nature. I’ve stayed in homes with gardens like this throughout South-east Asia many times, but never one I could call my own. One house I stayed in even had to be paddled to by boat just to get to the front door. It was lovely, isolated, and peaceful. I don’t know where the photographer, Jane Legate, took this, but it’s gorgeous. Her other photos are just as fantastic — check them out!

It takes no compromise to give people their rights… it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression. ~ Harvey Milk


George Takei Lunches With Donald Trump, Discusses Gay Marriage

While I don’t know how much of what Mr. Takei had to say sank in with The Donald, I’m so very happy George chose to discuss this topic with him anyway. So many people see closed minds like Mr. Trump’s and say nothing, thinking it’s a waste of time and words. But if you never try to show people another perspective, how can they learn? Even if this little luncheon did nothing to change Trump’s mind, I applaud Takei for trying. He reached out and tried to make a difference. Bravo, George!

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