Tuesday, October 17, 2006

A Brief History of a blog entry

I’ll be honest. I have felt like crap the last week. I haven’t been able to put together a coherent string of thoughts, much less a complete blog entry. Every time I have gotten started on a topic, my bad mood has just taken over and it’s spiraled into a pit of negativity. Maybe it was because all the topics I was thinking about related to local politics.

It started on a Monday.

Actually it was a Sunday. It started with the vibrating of a cell phone. “The blog is up. You have one week.” Finally my time to shine had arrived. Since the idea of a group blog had been presented, ideas had been drifting through my head. Alas, it was Sunday, and I was mildly hung over, and the Steelers were playing that night. Not a day to do much.

Monday I decided that my entry would be about the stupidity of the North Shore connector of the T. I came to the coffee shop following a shortened workday and hunkered down to do some serious research. Most of the research consisted post-gazette.com articles and letters to the editor. Opinions were generally split between two camps.

1.) This is a stupid idea that should be changed.
2.) This is a stupid idea, but we can’t change it or we lose the federal funding, so quit whining and accept it. If you didn’t like it you should have done something 8 years ago when it was initially brought up.

I won’t go deeply into my opinions because they are convoluted at their best and resort to childish name calling at their worst. One quote that just keeps going through my head is “A town with money is kind of like a mule with a spinning wheel. No one knows where he got it, and danged if he knows how to use it.” That conveniently comes from the monorail episode of the Simpsons. Anyway, needless to say the more I read, the more frustrated I got, and the less I wanted to discuss this topic.

By Tuesday I had decided that the smoking ban would be an excellent discussion topic. The Mount Washington Pipe Club and Brain Trust has discussed this extensively as has everybody else. The hard part of this topic is expanding my firm basic opinion beyond extending my support for the bill as it was passed by the Allegheny county council. There should be no indoor smoking in public places. This is the direction the country is going in, and Pittsburgh can either show some initiative and join in early, or bicker about details for a couple of years until a state or national law is in effect. Despite the recent progression, I still don’t have much faith that the latter won’t become what happens. But again that discussion would just sound negative.

By Wednesday I was thinking about just writing some tersely worded letters to Lawrenceville officials about dangerous driving spots near my house. The main problem with that is that it really isn’t interesting to anybody. Not even to me, the writer.

By Thursday I had slipped into procrastination mode and actually chose to do work and exercise to avoid thinking about topics to write.

Friday was the weekend. Time to party. I’d earned it.

Saturday I went to a wedding and was to busy eating and drinking and doing poor Mick Jagger impersonations to get anything done.

Sunday was a necessary day of recovery, accompanied by a dominant Steelers victory. That put an end to my dreams of writing an entry about firing Cowher, starting Charlie Batch, and basically rehashing every stupid argument I’ve heard on Pittsburgh sports talk radio of how to solve the Steelers problems.

Monday I decided to just do a brief recap of ideas of the past week. That, which is this, still didn’t come out so well. Oh well, a blog should be more about opening up topics for discussion than a direct display of opinions.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

It comes in threes

This blog, the first one written on the Mt. Washington Brain Trust and Pipe Club blogsite is in response to the three school shootings that have occurred in the past two weeks; Bailey, Colorado – 6 dead, Cazenovia, Wisconsin – 1 dead (school principal), and Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania – currently 5 dead. The most recent act of violence on school property took the lives of 5 Amish children. As a person with ties to “Amish Country” it deeply saddens me that an innocent and timeless community such as this has been affected by mainstream society’s desire to protect guns over every other human right including life. Sadly, we live in a society that has become desensitized to the news that yet another school shooting as occurred. How many individuals out there reading this knew that this most recent shooting in a school was the seventieth act of its kind in just this school year?

I have heard a variety of opinions on the matter. Many people have questioned safety in the school. Some have even suggested that maybe it is time for teachers to be carrying guns in school. (Yes, because that is how we solve problems in America.) Very few seem to have the opinion that there is a correlation between the rise in school shootings and the easy access Americans have to guns. In this country the federal government resorts to wiretapping in order to keep us safe from the evil fascist terrorist who wish to do us harm. In this state the government is attempting to pass a ban on smoking in order to protect us from the cigarettes that may potentially kill us. However, the subject matter of gun control is a very disputed and volatile topic. Some Americans will defend this right to the point of nonsensical jargon.

I have been told that we (Americans) have the right to own guns in order to protect ourselves. Even though I disagree strongly with this point, being a twenty-six year old woman who has managed in life without a gun, I would like to make it clear that I do not wish to take away American’s right to bear arms. I do however wish for more focus in this country to be on the regulations of gun ownership in order to prevent gun violence. That focus has to start with our government. As of September 2004 the federal assault weapons ban was allowed to “sunset.” This ban stopped the production of semi-automatic assault weapons and ammunition clips holding more than 10 rounds except for military or police use. Traditional guns designed for hunting and recreational activities would not be affected by this ban. Citizens of the Commonwealth may be interested to find out that Pennsylvania currently does not require buyers to obtain a handgun license or undergo any type of safety training prior to buying a handgun. Guns are also not required to be registered in our state. Therefore, the police have no idea how many guns could be in our neighborhoods. There is also no waiting period on gun sales in the state of Pennsylvania. Since there is no waiting period, police are not given any additional time to conduct further background checks. And lastly, there are no state restrictions on the amount of guns an individual can buy at one time.

I believe that by making stricter gun control laws we can lessen violence in this country. I would like to make it more difficult for individuals to obtain guns. Yes, this may mean that the little guy becomes inconvenienced; however, there are many individuals out there getting their hands on guns that should not be. From what we currently know the shooter in the Amish community had a history of mental illness. He also reportedly had a history involving the molestation of children (The inadequate sex offender laws topic will be saved for another blog). Individuals with this kind of mental heath history should not have such easy access to a gun. Sure, a person who wants a gun will get a gun. But does it have to be so easy for them?

If this is an issue that concerns you and you would like to make a difference please contact your state officials.

Pennsylvania State Officials:

Edward Rendell – Governor
225 Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17120-0002

Wayne D. Fontana - State Senator for Pennsylvania district 42
Senate Box 203042
185 Capitol Building
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17120

Jake Wheatley -State Representative for Pennsylvania district 19
Irvis Office Building, Room 224
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17120-2020

Michael B. Diven - State Representative for Pennsylvania district 22
East Wing, Room 164
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17120-2020

Thomas C. Petrone - State Representative for Pennsylvania district 27
Irvis Office Building, Room 202
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17120-2020