Life is better than death. Love; greater than either…


Newtown Shootings – Thoughts From The Opposite Of The World
15 December, 2012, 10:28 am
Filed under: Love, Online news, People, Thoughts

Good morning.

My body clock’s alarm rang and I stirred this morning round about 7am. Reached for my iPhone as usual to check the time and saw two notifications from the NY Times App which accelerated my ability to awake fully. “22 People Dead” it said, “Shooting in the US” – I clicked through the Notifications to read the full details of how a young man walked into a school his mother was teaching in, shot his mother, shot her very young students, shot the Principal and other members of staff, before taking his own life.

This is nothing short of a tragedy.

As I reeled from the effects of the journalistic words of the NY Times article, I, like you, started thinking of reasons this could have happened. Was the young man’s mother overworked? Did he hate his mother for not being there for him? Did he misunderstand that his the care and attention that she showed her students brings home the bacon? Why are there still guns in public spaces in America? Is America the only Western Democracy to still allow weapons that freely? What are the solutions, if any, that can be deployed in this instance? An outright ban of weapons in the States? A witch-hunt of all young men whose mother teaches kindergarten?

As my mind raced ahead and came back to explore different rabbit holes of thinking, and raced ahead again, I have two solid points I keep coming back to:

1. Archaic Rules

The right to bear arms, I understand through my 30 years of experience watching Hollywood movies, is in the American Constitution. I bring you to the attention of (Wikipedia) why this amendment was made in the Constitution:

“In no particular order, early American settlers viewed the right to arms and/or the right to bear arms and/or state militias as important for one or more of these purposes:

– deterring tyrannical government;
– repelling invasion;
– suppressing insurrection;
– facilitating a natural right of self-defense;
– participating in law enforcement;
– enabling the people to organize a militia system.

Besides “facilitating a natural right of self-defense” – I don’t see how carrying a handgun could, for example, deter a tyrannical government, or say repel an invasion in this day and age.

This, fundamentally, is an archaic rule for an archaic time. I am in no position to judge as I do not fully understand the workings of the American legal system, but, fundamentally, this, in my opinion, is an outdated ruling.

2. Weapons and Community

Another point I want to make is that weapons, if you want it to be effective, need to be owned and used in a safe, disciplined and regimented environment. The people of old (circa “right to bear arms” era) were bound by religious and cultural norms (not to say that that was particularly effective), martial arts students are bound by discipline and highly organised competition outlets of their power and skill, soldiers are trained to be highly respectful of their weapons and even gang members are bound by a strict code of conduct,. In all of these cases, access to a weapon is not given until the member of the particular community has reached a certain level of maturity and trust – sometimes taking decades of going through the checks and balances.

In modern life, these checks and balances are eroding. The family unit is breaking apart and there is minimal supervision given by parents. This is the fault of society and our own greed, culminating over the past century, addicted to accelerated growth. Being so engrossed in work, just to survive, is being used as an excuse by parents – “Day care will be good enough.” – “Surely the school will let me know when my child is misbehaving.” Sadly, when the warning bells sound, it might just be too late.

Do I think that guns are dangerous? Yes.
Do guns cut short people’s lives unnecessarily? Yes.

However, I don’t think that guns in itself are the problem here. If you take away the guns, there will be something else used – you don’t have to kill someone to take their life. What motivates a human being to murder another human being? Hate. Hate is the only thing that will motivate a person enough to even consider taking someone’s life. So if hate is the reason these shootings keep occurring  in whatever form it may be – hate of society, hate of “the system”, hate of people close to you, what is the solution?

Love
The opposite of hate. Love. Genuine love. Care. Concern. A genuine interest and desire to help, assist people. A selfless act, for the greater good. A sense of belonging, a sense of community and true communication – a sense of my voice matters in all this. A sense of contribution. A sense of actionable change, and a sense of, “Hey, I made this change happen.” These, and many others, acts and characteristics rooted in love, is the way forward.

This is the solution.



The Night I’ll Never Forget…
11 March, 2009, 4:47 pm
Filed under: Online news, Sydney

had absolutely no dramas tonight… none whatsoever… Zilch! Nil! *yawn*.via Twitter 10:05pm

quiet night did I say? dealt with police n firemen at 340am… oh my!via Twitter 5:06am

just got home… I take back my proclamation of a quiet night two updates ago… Oh my goodness! 7:56am

That’s how it all started and ended… My three Twitter/Facebook updates in the span of less than 12 hours…

I finished work on Friday night, closed the shop and scooted into the night keen to spend the night resting as much as I could for what would be our traditionally busiest day of the year, Mardi Gras.

I got a phone call at 3:30AM.

It was from an unidentified number so I though oh OK, looks like my Dad forgot the three hour difference again! I didn’t answer the call, again forcing myself back to sleep in prep for the busy day ahead. The second time I got the call, I was a little bit worried. What now? Maybe Mom’s in the hospital? We got a health scare from her couple months back so I answered the call..

It was a male with an Australian accent. He identified himself as the police and that a car has crashed through my store. I asked ‘So the glass is broken?’ He told me ‘the whole thing fell down’. He asked for other people he could contact. I gave him the numbers as accurately as I could, my hands already trembling with the news I’ve heard. He said he’ll give them a call and if no one could come, I would have to go to the store to be a representative.

He called back 5 minutes later, I’ve got to go to the store. Anticipating insurance needs and a possible one stretching to to two hour trip, I packed my camera, wore presentable clothes and put on a cap. My mind was racing… The whole thing fell down? How long will it take to fix? A month? What would I do then? Paid leave? Unpaid leave? What if they decide to shut the store indefinitely? Will I lose my job?

I was definitely shaken and scared and tried to contact as many relevant people as possible. I got into my car and found out that one of my headlights wasn’t working. Oh great!

As I reached the halfway mark, I see blue and red lights behind my car. GREAT! Just what I need! I pulled over, rolled down my windows, grabbed my FRESHLY PASSED NSW Drivers’ Licence out of my wallet and turned my head so that I could have a good look at this policeman. He asked me have I been drinking I said no. He said where I was going, I was like work and I proceeded to tell him that a car’s crashed through my store. He said which one, I told him the location. He took one last look at my licence and let me go. I’m sure I was more important than a RBT (random breath test) at that particular moment! And I’m pretty sure he would have heard about the crash on his radio!

So I proceeded to find parking around the store and since it was gonna be Mardi Gras, a lot of the street parking are going to be clearways by 7am.

I walked to the store, crossed the police line and saw the damage… Water was everywhere, broken glass littered the street and the store and the debris and furniture of the accident was pushed IN to the store… Chairs were piled up and the debris, the brick wall that has collapsed was the scary part. There was no structural damage, the car seems to have careened into the glass wall just between two metal pillars. I reckon that if it did hit the metal pillars, the damage would have been considerably worse!

The driver was seriously injured and to see car doors in a coffee shop is just not natural. A self-made CD labelled Compilation #4 or something or rather was on the condiment bar. There was no blood on the cafe floor though, most probably washed away by the ruptured fire hydrant. My boss arrived after a while, there was a whole ‘nutha story regarding how she found out but its probably too personal for this blog… Not my story to tell…

Anyway, yeah, so the food man came and we had ordered a million food in preparation for Mardi Gras and the question boiled down to trade or not to trade. After a few hoohas and disappointed phone calls, we decided to trade and block off the area. It looked like a museum with the pile of debris on exhibition and the area cordoned off with black and yellow waist-high retractable fences. Sure customers had curious looks and we were all over the radio and online news.

A glass company was called in and the place was boarded up by 12pm. Our big bosses also came and managed to clear the debris away by 4 or 5pm and by that time, you couldn’t even tell what had happened barely 12 hours ago.

I thought that tradies and cleaners would have taken their own sweet time but I’m surprised, relieved and impressed that with a little help from people high up and with enough motivation, things seem to mysteriously happen VERY quickly.

Here’s to a night I will never forget…

God bless!



Aussie Slumdogs…
28 February, 2009, 10:01 am
Filed under: Online news

Here’s a great article about an Australian family who’s moved to the Slums of Delhi…

A real riches to rags story (28th Feb 2009, The Age).

It seriously hits home again and again on how consumer-based and the ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ mentality is evident in our lives in comfortable countries…

God bless!



Farah Fawcett – David Letterman
16 February, 2009, 8:18 am
Filed under: Online news, People, Video

OK, so in the previous post, David Letterman took a swipe at Joaquin Phoenix at the end of the interview with “thank Fawcett” or something like that…

And this is why…

Yeow!



Joaquin Phoenix: What comes with age?
13 February, 2009, 11:21 am
Filed under: Online news

With age comes a composed, accurate and strategized attacks at tools who won’t cooperate…

I think Letterman did VERY well… He waited and gave Joaquin opportunity to ‘come out of his shell’ and when he refused to cooperate Letterman went bang bang bang…

It’s a great interview technique I guess, Letterman does it to celebrities night in and night out and I think he’s the best in terms of celebrity interviewing.

You can almost always see Letterman’s mind churning and this was an exceptional piece. Joaquin got worked up at the end and naturally will want to defend himself and in the process aid the interviewer into an interesting piece of television…

Kudos to Letterman and what the heck happened to Joaquin? Can only wish him a speedy ‘recovery’ or when he does finish his maybe-mockumentary that he will pour IN to the entertainment scene rather than drain it…

God bless!



Neil Perry vs. Jordan Baker
10 January, 2009, 12:26 am
Filed under: Food, Online news, Sydney

So an observant journalist meets an experienced restauranter

I’ll summarize the spat for you. So Jordan Baker says that restaurants are too proud and arrogant that they don’t do bookings and they ‘build-in’ tips for most large group bookings. Neil Perry argues that restaurants earn very little and try their best to stay afloat.

There’s no question about it, I side with Perry.

Restaurants (even good ones) employ people; waiters and waitresses, cleaning hands, chefs, sous chefs, maitre d’s and barmen/women. Its a BIG team effort, its a BIG deal. Its not all about food and wine and laughter and service and customers who are always right. To me, its simple business. They give us food which standards we expect, we pay them. The service, the timing, the ambience, the availability are all secondary. If you do not have enough seats, we can always go somewhere else; no dramas.

The thing is people who work at restaurants are human beings. Just like you and me. Nothing more, nothing less. They have family problems, like we do, they ponder about the world and the meaning of life, like we do. They watch TV, they read the same newspaper and they board the same buses, drive the same roads and ride the same trains as we do. And when they become restauranters, it suddenly all changes?

They are supposed to worship the ground we walk on; earn peanuts but give their soul to serving you; withstand the torturing heat of the kitchen just so you get your food on time and smile politely when you ask for tomato sauce on your [insert name of expensive dish here]? No human deserves this; no matter how much (or little) you pay. Granted the food and beverage industry is there and it exists but the least you could do is smile and try to understand what restauranters go through; not lambast your way and complain mindlessly about not getting a seat.

Maybe its the culture I was exposed to when I was growing up. Eating out is honestly no big deal. You go out, you eat. If the food’s not good, you don’t go back. If its good, you return. Service is irrelevant. There are no emotions involved. Fully booked? No worries, there are always other restaurants.

But I kind of hear what Baker is saying too. Say you want to impress your friend from overseas with this famous restaurant or you want to celebrate a birthday; what happens when you get turned away? I guess that’s the only letdown that can be suffered by the customer. But other than that, I see no reason for Baker to complain about this. If you want a confirmed seat in a non-booking restaurant, go early. If you want to save money on tips, eat at home.

Go Neil Perry!

God bless!



Anwar’s 16th September 2008 Press Conference
16 September, 2008, 5:11 pm
Filed under: Malaysia, Online news, Thoughts

So the live feed of Datuk Seri Anwar’s press conference has just concluded from his website and with all intent and purposes managed to allay the public’s fear about a massive violent upheaval of a lawless/volatile country. I guess he learned from events from past weeks in Bangkok.

Anyway, Datuk Seri reiterated that indeed he has enough numbers to form a new government but he stopped shy of saying when and who would be involved in this process. His aim was to get at least 30MPs to come alongside him. These promises by the MPs, allegedly, have signed documents committing themselves to the Pakatan Rakyat cause.

But one wonders how reliable are these signed letters and what is stopping Pak Lah (the PM) from identifying these members and doing something about it. I can imagine him locked up in his office flicking through papers and trying to find out the mole(s). It’s a trying time for him, I guess, as if events of recent times have not sapped him of his energy enough already.

Personally, I think 30 is not a big number; considering the total MPs in Malaysia is only 222. Of that, already 82 belongs to Pakatan Rakyat (The Citizens’ Alliance).

However, I do not think that Malaysians in general necessarily want something this drastic to happen. Pakatan Rakyat should be renamed Pakatan MPs. If you only change the top in a supposedly democratic country, you might not be able to alter the wants of the grassroots. This is what happened in my schooldays where politicians in Sabah would ‘jump’ parties even when the people voted them in. Next election comes, out they go. People do not vote for you, politicians, they vote for what you represent. Politicians get it so wrong sometimes (especially politicians in small countries).

And even if you have 51% power; you have 49% left to deal with. Ideally, what you want is 101% of the people’s hearts behind you.

And one more thing; if you takeover a country this way, the road is wide open for another person to come in and do the same. You introduce sneaky democracy this way, people will want to have their views heard. You get differing people wanting different things. You (might) get protests every other week and an incredibly unstable economic climate. You might get investors pulling out and you are back at square one.

No one knows how this will go and I guess only time will let things play out the way they are supposed to. But judging from the way Datuk Seri Anwar was answering the journalists in the room at the press conference, he is still at his very heart, a politician. Doing what he thinks is best for the country at large, but ignoring the pleas of the individual.

But don’t politicians know that pleas of individuals make up the roar of the crowd? I hope they do.

God bless!