Tag Archive | United States

The US Constitution’s 2nd Amendment: Police, Not Guns in Every Home

American gun patrioticThe 2nd Amendment of the United States Constitution is interpreted by the National Rifle Association to mean that every American is guaranteed the right to own and carry firearms anywhere, at any time, in any context s/he wishes.  Common sense is not part of their position.  Guns should be at the zoo, at Starbucks, at your kid’s playground, even in your child’s school.  Guns should be everywhere because the Constitution says so!

Except the Constitution doesn’t say that,  Instead the full text of the 2nd Amendment is:

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

14th century Italian militias.

14th century Italian militias.

Now as I talked about three years ago on Yahoo Voices and reposted a year ago, the idea of the militia has a specific historical context grounded in Anglo-Saxon tradition.  It is, at its core, a feudal institution pre-dating professional armies where local men and women responded to local emergencies by arming themselves and protecting their towns and villages.  Mercenaries (soldiers for hire)  were for centuries rather unreliable folks with rape/pillage habits — something American colonists experienced with the Hessian mercenaries hired by the Crown.  Before the emergence of completely professional national armies, soldiers for hire had the habit of abusing the local population, of taking what they wanted.  So locals tended to maintain their militias to protect themselves against such abuse.

gun murder

Times have changed in the United States and United Kingdom. Professional soldiers are hometown heroes and heroines — not threats to the safety of civilian populations. Invasions from foreign powers on home soil is essentially unknown to most Americans and British — the main modern exceptions to that happened during the 2nd World War.  Our armies have professionalized and this is a good thing. Because since the beginning of professional soldiering, the professionals have always possessed superior skills, protection, and weapons compared to their civilian counterparts.

And that is what a militia is:  civilians responding to emergencies.  It’s volunteer police, volunteer fire department, and neighourhood watch organizations. I’ve seen arguments for including USA state national guard units under this umbrella — except those are trained and equipped much more similarly to the full time army, navy, and so forth — and they are paid to do so!

Two London constables on duty.

Two London constables on duty.

So what then does the 2nd Amendment actually guarantee Americans?  If you treat the word “militia” properly, what is the 2nd Amendment actually protecting?  In my analysis as a historian, the 2nd Amendment guarantees us POLICE FORCES and FIRE DEPARTMENTS which do the same job that our militias once did.  Police forces/constabularies and fire departments protect local populations from danger — from within our localities and from outside threats.  When a riot breaks out, it’s the police — not a Federal soldier — that is sent in to deal with it.  When Federal soldiers ARE sent in to deal with riots we habitually treat this much as our ancestors did with mercenary soldiers — and perhaps rightly.

In the Autumn of 2001 New York Penn Station was protected with Federal soldiers carrying high power weapons through the station to police it, a response to 9/11.  Believe me, that terrified me as I walked through the station to catch or depart from my New Jersey Transit trains!  A regular NYPD officer in regular uniform with regular equipment felt safe to be around.  But Federal troops?  Utterly terrifying!

gun murder 2We need our police officers and constables.  We need this modern form of our ancient militias.  We need to honour and respect the work our officers and constables do and trust them to do their job — rather than delude ourselves into thinking we can do their jobs better than they can and therefore arming ourselves.

Gun are not the solution.  As a matter of fact, they aggravate our problems.  A woman is 500x more likely to be shot/killed during a domestic dispute when firearms are kept in the home than she is when family firearms are kept in a neutral location such as a gun club.  There is a reason why the murder rate in the United Kingdom is so much lower than in the United States.  This twisting of the 2nd Amendment is why.

Some of you are likely to attack me for writing this.  That is fine with me.  Be my guest.  Because as a woman who was hurt in a gun “accident” as a child, I fiercely uphold that the gun laws in the United Kingdom are the best way to go.  I’ve seen what guns everywhere all the time can do and it disgusts me and terrify me.

Leave the guns to the police and the constables.  Leave them to the real modern militias. And please, in the name of sanity, stop thinking that having a gun around makes you safer!  IT DOESN’T!

Advertisements

Reblog: History of Halloween

Merry Samhain everyone!  In honor of Samhain and Halloween, I am re-posting a lovely article I found this morning  by Benjamin Radford of Live Science about the history of Halloween.  Enjoy!

 

——————————-

Halloween is the season for little ghosts and goblins to take to the streets, asking for candy and scaring one another silly. Spooky stories are told around fires, scary movies appear in theaters and pumpkins are expertly (and not-so-expertly) carved into jack-o’-lanterns.

Amid all the commercialism, haunted houses and bogus warnings about razors in apples, the origins of Halloween are often overlooked. Yet Halloween is much more than just costumes and candy; in fact, the holiday has a rich and interesting history.
Samhain

Halloween, also known as All Hallows’ Eve, can be traced back about 2,000 years to a pre-Christian Celtic festival held around Nov. 1 called Samhain (pronounced “sah-win”), which means “summer’s end” in Gaelic, according to the Indo-European Etymological Dictionaries. [Related: 13 Halloween Superstitions & Traditions Explained]

Because ancient records are sparse and fragmentary, the exact nature of Samhain is not fully understood, but it was an annual communal meeting at the end of the harvest year, a time to gather resources for the winter months and bring animals back from the pastures. Samhain is also thought to have been a time of communing with the dead, according to folklorist John Santino.

“There was a belief that it was a day when spirits of the dead would cross over into the other world,” Santino told Live Science. Such moments of transition in the year have always been thought to be special and supernatural, he added.

Halloween provides a safe way to play with the concept of death, Santino said. People dress up as the living dead, and fake gravestones adorn front lawns — activities that wouldn’t be tolerated at other times of the year, he said.

But according to Nicholas Rogers, a history professor at York University in Toronto and author of “Halloween: From Pagan Ritual to Party Night” (Oxford University Press, 2003), “there is no hard evidence that Samhain was specifically devoted to the dead or to ancestor worship.

“According to the ancient sagas, Samhain was the time when tribal peoples paid tribute to their conquerors and when the sidh [ancient mounds] might reveal the magnificent palaces of the gods of the underworld,” Rogers wrote. Samhain was less about death or evil than about the changing of seasons and preparing for the dormancy (and rebirth) of nature as summer turned to winter, he said.

Though a direct connection between Halloween and Samhain has never been proven, many scholars believe that because All Saints’ Day (or All Hallows’ Mass, celebrated Nov. 1) and Samhain, are so close together on the calendar, they influenced each other and later combined into the celebration now called Halloween.
Costumes and trick-or-treating

The tradition of dressing in costumes and trick-or-treating may go back to the practice of “mumming” and “guising,” in which people would disguise themselves and go door-to-door, asking for food, Santino said. Early costumes were usually disguises, often woven out of straw, he said, and sometimes people wore costumes to perform in plays or skits.

The practice may also be related to the medieval custom of “souling” in Britain and Ireland, when poor people would knock on doors on Hallowmas (Nov. 1), asking for food in exchange for prayers for the dead.

Trick-or-treating didn’t start in the United States until World War II, but American kids were known to go out on Thanksgiving and ask for food — a practice known as Thanksgiving begging, Santino said.

“Mass solicitation rituals are pretty common, and are usually associated with winter holidays,” Santino said. While one tradition didn’t necessarily cause the others, they were “similar and parallel,” he said.
Tricks and games

These days, the “trick” part of the phrase “trick or treat” is mostly an empty threat, but pranks have long been a part of the holiday.

By the late 1800s, the tradition of playing tricks on Halloween was well established. In the United States and Canada, the pranks included tipping over outhouses, opening farmers’ gates and egging houses. But by the 1920s and ’30s, the celebrations more closely resembled an unruly block party, and the acts of vandalism got more serious.

Some people believe that because pranking was starting to get dangerous and out of hand, parents and town leaders began to encourage dressing up and trick-or-treating as a safe alternative to doing pranks, Santino said.

However, Halloween was as much a time for festivities and games as it was for playing tricks or asking for treats. Apples are associated with Halloween, both as a treat and in the game of bobbing for apples, a game that since the colonial era in America was used for fortune-telling. Legend has it that the first person to pluck an apple from the water-filled bucket without using his or her hands would be the first to marry, according to the book “Halloween and Commemorations of the Dead” (Chelsea House, 2009) by Roseanne Montillo.

Apples were also part of another form of marriage prophecy. According to legend, on Halloween (sometimes at the stroke of midnight), young women would peel an apple into one continuous strip and throw it over her shoulder. The apple skin would supposedly land in the shape of the first letter of her future husband’s name.

Another Halloween ritual involved looking in a mirror at midnight by candlelight, for a future husband’s face was said to appear. (A scary variation of this later became the “Bloody Mary” ritual familiar to many schoolgirls.) Like many such childhood games, it was likely done in fun, though at least some people took it seriously.
Christian/Irish influence

Some evangelical Christians have expressed concern that Halloween is somehow satanic because of its roots in pagan ritual. However, ancient Celts did not worship anything resembling the Christian devil and had no concept of it. In fact, the Samhain festival had long since vanished by the time the Catholic Church began persecuting witches in its search for satanic cabals. And, of course, black cats do not need to have any association with witchcraft to be considered evil — simply crossing their path is considered bad luck any time of year.

As for modern Halloween, Santino, writing in “American Folklore: An Encyclopedia” (Garland, 1996), noted that “Halloween beliefs and customs were brought to North America with the earliest Irish immigrants, then by the great waves of Irish immigrants fleeing the famines of the first half of the nineteenth century. Known in the North American continent since colonial days, by the middle of the twentieth century Halloween had become largely a children’s holiday.” Since that time, the holiday’s popularity increased dramatically as adults, communities and institutions (such as schools, campuses and commercial haunted houses) have embraced the event.

Through the ages, various supernatural entities — including fairies and witches — came to be associated with Halloween, and more than a century ago in Ireland, the event was said to be a time when spirits of the dead could return to their old haunting grounds. Dressing up as ghosts or witches became fashionable, though as the holiday became more widespread and more commercialized (and with the arrival of mass-manufactured costumes), the selection of disguises for kids and adults greatly expanded beyond monsters to include everything from superheroes to princesses to politicians.

Staff writer Tanya Lewis contributed to this article.

 

Money mind holes — why getting too specific hurts Manifestation

If you are following anything related to The Secret or the Law of Attraction, you have probably heard the mantra of “be specific about what you want.”  When it comes to attracting money in particular, the experts tell you to get very specific, to meditate “I want fifty million dollars by December 2014.”

 

This is great if numbers make sense to you on a subconscious level.  But what if they do not?  What if in saying out a number, you actually block your meditation from moving from your conscious, intellectual self to your subconscious emotional self where the Law of Attraction actually does its work?

 

On this blog and across the internet, I am very open about both my violent upbringing and about the consequences of the traumatic brain injury I suffered in November 1985 when a right turning automobile struck me in the left temple as I was crossing the street on my way home from school.

Besides the sight loss and the chronic migraines suffered ever since, the most prominent residual from that TBI remains my dis-connection with numbers in the arithmetic sense.  Show me a regular value in a ledger, a bank statement, etc. and my brain does not connect to it.  Shift that from a regular numeral value to a spatial value — a gram of weight, a unit of time, a temperature, a quantity of milk or fabric or other everyday object and I understand just fine.  Or thought of another way, I can still and rather expertly relate to concentrate numbers specifying an amount of something I can see, feel, hear, experience with my senses.  But when it comes to straight numbers, especially applied to something even more abstract — like money — and neither my intellectual mind nor my emotional subconscious understands.

 

If something does not exist to your subconscious mind, you simply cannot manifest it through the Law of Attraction.  You cannot feel yourself already in possession of that which does not exist to you.

 

And this is the problem with a lot of the goals we try to set for ourselves, where fear and doubt easily creep in.  What we are asking for only exists to our intellect; it doesn’t exist to our hearts.

This summer when I tried using Napoleon Hill’s meditation telling me to specify the amount of money I want, when I want to receive it, what I will give up to receive it, and the plan to obtain it my meditation became, “£50 million is mine and shall be in my account before 31st December 2014.  Everyday I am marketing and selling my books and shall give up my time in order to sell so many books that I earn £50 million.”

What I realize today is there is not one, but two flaws in the meditation.  First, as I outlined already, I have no emotional connection or concept of what £50 million is.  My mind, let alone my heart, doesn’t really understand the concept of money.  I understand tangible things bought with money, but not the money itself.  I do not connect to money; only to what it buys.  Second, the pathway specified is upstream to me.  I actually HATE marketing.  I hate begging people to buy my books.  And I especially hate the current financial pressure I am under — wondering if I am about to go bankrupt because there is not enough money in my checking account to cover September’s credit card payment (quite literally).

 

If you have followed anything from Abraham Hicks, you know that negative emotions take you AWAY from what you want.  Forcing yourself to do anything is paddling upstream.  It is the opposite of allowing.  It’s conflict, drama, worry, strife, all the things you must abolish from your life in order to attain what you want and need in life.

 

So after stressing and wrestling overnight, after enough tears of “oh my god my life is over” (no really it is not!) and so forth, it occurred to me that the problem was this meditation itself.  So I re-wrote it to this:

“ALL THE MONEY I NEED TO IMMIGRATE AND ESTABLISH MY NEW LIFE AND NEW CAREERS IN MY NEW HOUSE NEAR LONDON IS MINE AND SHALL BE IN MY ACCOUNT BEFORE 31ST DECEMBER 2014.

EVERYDAY I SHALL CREATE SOMETHING NEW AND TELL THE WORLD ABOUT HOW GREAT MY WORK IS.

BY DECEMBER I SHALL FILE MY IMMIGRATION PAPERS AND LEAVE JOHNSTOWN

FOR NYC AND FOR HOME IN ENGLAND.”

 

Let me tell you, the vibrational difference in this is HUGE — even though the core is exactly the same.  How?  First, it reassures me that everything is okay — because it is — taking that upstream pressure off me.  Second, it focuses on the CORE VALUES motivating me.  Money, being too abstract to me, does not have much independent meaning for me.  But where I live, the politics around me, the way people talk around me, my interactions with my landlord, the quality of my everyday life, now THESE ARE CONCRETE TO ME.  Third, I can easily see myself in possession of all of this.

I can see myself in a lovely house in the south of England (and yes, I have a good idea how much such a house costs) with my modest flower and vegetable garden sanctuary.  I can see myself hosting small dinner parties attended by friends and colleagues.  I can smell the English rain.  I can see myself taking the train into London to see a play.  I can hear Rolling Stones Now as I attend one of their concerts in person, cheering on Richard Mann as “Mick” during the concert.  And I can see myself walking in these fantastic historical places I have so far only explored in books, making history much more real for me.  Oh the pleasure I shall feel the first time I walk in London and can finally understand these places are REAL. There are a thousand places in England I want to explore.  I can feel the light from the eyes of my British-born friends as they watch me discover what each of them have always taken for granted.  It will be this amazing experience across the board, my enthusiasm touching everyone around me as I finally find myself at home.

 

THIS IS WHAT IS REAL TO ME.  THIS IS WHAT I CAN SEE/FEEL MYSELF IN POSSESSION OF.  It’s not the £50 million I concretely want — though yes, I know that buying my dream house is expensive, so is just legal immigration and moving to England in the first place, something I cannot do until my credit cards and my education are paid off.  But the money is the means to the end.  That is all it is to me, not the end unto itself.  Money frees me to leave the United States.  Money convinces London to grant my application for permanent residency.  Money buys my home and everything in it.  Money brings my most cherished possessions across the ocean and hires those skilled at filing the paperwork to bring my precious cockatiels out of the United States and into the United Kingdom (this costs about £2000 to £4000 for those unaware).  Yes, the financial needs to achieve what I really want are quite high.  This is not cheap.  The Law of Attraction knows this and is abundantly providing all of it to me.

But first I must allow it to be.  First I must put my emotions where all of this is achieved.  I cannot feel the money.  But I can feel my house.  I can feel my home office.  I can hear the parties.  I can see myself relaxing in my garden, a pen/paper in hand to write out ideas that come to me.  And I can feel that famous English rain.

 

I know it will be.

Great article on dual verses duel

http://www.dailywritingtips.com/dual-vs-duel/

Schlager swords were popular in Renaissance German duels.

Schlager swords were popular in Renaissance German duels.

Commonly confused words is always a challenge for a writer.  So I am pleased to re-post the above link that clarifies the difference between dual (two) and duel (a personal battle between generally two or a few combatants).

What is really interesting to me as a writer is that duel is from a variation of “bellum” meaning “war” — as in the Anti-bellum era of American History; that is, the 19th century decades leading up to the American Civil War.

So as your dual nobles duel to the death with rapiers, remember to associate “duel” with war and you will be just fine.

Author Interview: Ritch Gaiti*

The Big EmptyGood morning! Today we have author Ritch Gaiti with us to talk about his writing and his new book, “The Big Empty.”

PoB:   What if any social issues do you explore in “The Big Empty?”

 

Set in downtown New York City and the Bronx, the book starts as a simple mystery and slowly evolves into a major conspiracy around historical events. The ultimate message in the book has been the American’s injustices towards the American Indian but that is not evident until later in the book. The story takes place in locales far away from what we normally associate with the American Indian. Yet, New York, once the center of our government and commerce, is where it all began. Woven into the fabric of the plot, are nuggets of American history and Indian culture to provide some of the historical basis of past events and tragedies.

PoB: What formats are you offering your book in and why?

Ebooks of all kinds and paperback through Amazon. Most people are reading ebooks these days but occasionally, the feel of the paper texture adds a pleasant sense to the act of reading. And maybe someone would want to put The Big Empty on the bookshelf just to impress his or her friends. 

 

PoB:  How have your experiences living and working in New York City shaped this book?

The core of the book takes place downtown Manhattan, Wall Street, to be precise. I spent most of my prior career there and I loved the area.  I have always been fascinated by the architecture, the mix of new and historical buildings, and the seemingly incestuous streets that wind into themselves. I described the environment as I saw it and felt it and made many trips back to Wall Street as I wrote The Big Empty. I brought this sensitivity along with a sense of history into the book – keeping in mind that the ‘wall’ of Wall Street was once the boundary of civilization in America.

PoB:  I lived in Brooklyn for several years.  What will New Yorkers and former New York city residents like me find familiar in this book?

 

I was brought up in Brooklyn. In fact, my last book, Dutching the Book, was about gamblers in 1960’s Brooklyn. The Big Empty however, takes place in Wall Street and the Bronx. The lead character, Rick Wallace, who has been away from New York for too long experiences it once again. I tried to deliver the sensibilities and sensations of someone who is not accustomed to the city the way the city folks are – from the loud cacophony of the subway, to the tall overpowering buildings, to the beauty of Wall Street, to the dirty water street franks, to the mixed architecture and diversity of the Bronx. A real sense of the city from all strata is delivered. I also introduced New York/American history into the story line – I find it fascinating and sometimes we all take it for granted.

 

PoB:  In what ways do you see your background working on Wall Street reflected in the plot and characters of “The Big Empty?”

 

Some of the characters are based on composites of people I have met along the way.  But my role on Wall Street was technology development – diametrically opposed to the lead character’s background.  In fact, the lead character was a far away from Wall Street as you can imagine. Yet, he was deeply affected by some significant business events. Other than conveying my impressions of the physical environment and a sense of business, my background did not reflect in the story. What did reflect, however, was the research and homework I had done on American history, Native American culture and my passion to bring out past injustices

 

 

*Disclaimer:  Opinions expressed in author interviews belong exclusively to the authors featured and do not represent the viewpoints of the Peers of Beinan series, author Laurel A. Rockefeller, or any other related entity.  Presented interviews do not constitute endorsement of any product, service, or point of view.  Readers are encouraged to form their own opinions concerning presented content herein.