Category Archives: Government

Guns In The Classroom – Big Mistake

Before I get involved with this post, I would like to take the time to remember the kids and teachers who died last Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.  I feel bad for the families affected by this horrific tragedy.  Christmases, Birthdays, etc will be hard for those families that lost loved ones, both kids and adults.  

I would like to take this time to remember the first responders who were there right away and saw the awful tragedy first hand.  I seriously cannot even remotely fathom what they saw.  To me, there is nothing more scary than the face of a frightened child or seeing such a scene of a senseless massacre.  

I also want to say thank you to the heroes too, consisting of good-hearted teachers, police officers, firefighters, emergency response teams, men and women who live near the school who took children in, etc.  If I missed anyone or any team, I’m truly sorry.  

I’m going to pause here a minute to reflect & pray for everyone that I just mentioned. 

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Thanks everyone.  Now I’ll dive into this post. 

TV stations, both national & local, and blogs are blasting out questions such as, “Should we have guns in the classroom?”, “Should we be arming teachers?”, etc.  

In my opinion, the answer is no.  We should not be putting guns into classrooms. I know this topic was raised after the shooting at Virginia Tech and I said it back then, we should not be putting guns in classrooms.  Let me explain myself.  

First, everyone knows that guns are weapons.  We don’t allow weapons in schools currently.  In Michigan, where I live, even if you have a Concealed Weapons Permit, you are not allowed to carry a gun on school property for any reason.  I realize that Governor Snyder is looking to pass legislation that would allow CWP holders to carry guns on school property.  And even then I’m still on the fence if allowing CWP holders to carry a weapon on school grounds is a good idea.  

Let me go on a tangent here and just say this:  I’m proud of the United States Constitution.  I exercise my rights to own guns.  I personally own about 9 guns.  My dad owns a lot more.  My dad is an NRA member and I’m thinking about joining the NRA.  I’m getting my CWP next year at some point.  I love guns.  I love weapons.  I love to go hunting and I’m glad that I have that right to be able to go out into the woods during the month of November and shoot a dear.  But I am a responsible gun owner.  I have been properly educated on the topics of gun safety, handling, maintenance, etc.  My dad taught me all that I needed to know at a very young age.  

This leads to my second point why I think guns in classrooms is a bad idea.  Like I said above, I’ve been educated in firearms safety.  Sure, the teachers and school administrators can receive very similar training, but the problem lies with intimidation.  There are a lot of people who are afraid of guns.  In my humble opinion, the main reason why people are afraid of guns is because they haven’t received the education or training at a young age.  Like learning a foreign language, it’s best to learn it at a young age.  Same goes for gun education.  It’s best to learn at a young age.  That way, when you get older, you are not afraid to hold a gun.  You can feel confident when someone hands you a gun, you know to check to make sure it is not loaded, etc.  Everyone reacts differently in an emergency situation.  If you are afraid of a gun, your first instinct probably won’t be to get the gun out of the safe.  Thus, this makes having a gun in the classroom highly ineffective in most situations.

One of my Facebook friends, who indirectly inspired this post, made a valid point.  It would be more effective to teach teachers self-defense than have a gun in the classroom.  I fully agree with this.  You can use self-defense right away versus a gun that is locked away (as it should be).   If the gunman breaks into your classroom and starts shooting, chances are very likely you’ll be dead long before you could put your own gun to use. The gunman isn’t going to sit and wait for you to unlock the gun from the safe, load it, then shoot.  He’s going to take you out at the first opportunity.  Learning self defense would be a stronger asset than a gun at that point.  If a gunman breaks in, you can throw something at them to distract them.  A coffee mug, books, staplers, papers, etc would make excellent projectile distractions if you are fast enough.  Learning self defense would increase your reaction times.  If you succeed at hitting the gunman with one of the objects mentioned above, you can then easily disarm him. 

What about having the guns on the teachers?  That is no better than having the gun in the safe.  It’s no better because say a gunman comes into your classroom first and shoots you first.  Chances are that he’ll see your down and disarm you and now you’ve just provided him with a second weapon to murder innocent people.  Another reason it is a bad idea is that it would be hard to conceal a weapon from the kids. If the kids know that there’s a gun in the classroom, one of two potential disasters could happen.  First, the students would feel intimidated if they knew / saw a gun in the classroom.  There’s a possibility that they would not feel safe inside their own classroom for multiple reasons.  What if the teacher has a meltdown at a student or group of students?  Maybe the students didn’t receive the same education about guns.  Are we going to make a law teaching our kids proper gun safety?  As good of an idea as it is, there probably won’t be any legislation passed requiring that simply because it is a choice if you want to own a gun as an individual or family, not a mandate.  There’s another factor here.  Bullying is a big problem at schools.  And it seems like bullying has become more severe in recent years.  What if a bully got access to the gun?  Or on the flip side, what if a student who was bullied had a breakdown and got access to the gun?  Either scenario is a terrible thought.  

One other thing, what if teachers take the stance that having a gun in the classroom is a bad idea?  Are you going to fire them because they refuse to have a gun in the classroom?  I already know a few people who are teachers who have said they won’t have a gun in their classroom.  

Now, people who would be pro guns inside classrooms might read this and think that other countries do this.  Sure they do.  Israel comes to mind.  I’ve read blog posts saying that Israeli teachers have guns in their classrooms and even carry guns.  

Remember people, Israel is Israel.  We are the United States.  What works for Israel may not work for the USA.  Israel is a war zone.  They have to worry about rocket fire from 5 miles away. Outside their school walls, it is a war zone. Soldiers are running through the streets, through the neighborhoods, heavily armed.  Here in the United States, we don’t have to worry about our military launching a missile from Grand Rapids, Michigan to Holland, Michigan.  There is no war zone here near that magnitude.  Over there, it’s necessary to be armed.  It would be more harmful to have that stance here, in my opinion.  

To quickly recap, guns would be a bad idea in the classroom because both teachers and students are not uniformly educated on gun safety thus leading to intimidation.  Having guns in the classroom would not be effective near as much as having self defense training.  There are too many negative scenarios occurring if a gun gets into the wrong hands from the teacher, bullies, the bullied, or even the gunman. Lastly, we are the United States.  We don’t have battles / wars on our soil.  We need not fear missile / rocket fire from someone in our own border.  

Again, I love guns, but I think this would prove to be more harmful than good.  Guns have a bad reputation already.  Why would we want to soil guns more than they already are?  I would like to be able to continue purchasing my guns legally and continue to operate them legally in activities such as hunting.  I don’t want to lose my rights as a gun owner because some bad legislation got passed.  

What do you guys think?  Do you think having guns in the classroom is a good idea or a bad one?  Do you agree with my points?  Oppose?  I would really like to have some thoughtful discussion on this matter.  I will not tolerate comments that flame gun owners or gun owners flaming people who blindly disagree with their beliefs.  Let’s keep this clean and please, use critical thinking when posting comments.  Thank you.  

I’m All For Competition – Where Competition Meets Hypocrisy

As the title says, I am all for competition.  Competition is what makes America great.  You can succeed and / or fail.  Most of us, if not everyone, has done both at some point in their lives.  If you succeed, that’s great; If you fail, keep trying or find something else to try.  

Ok, so what’s your point author?

For over a year now, when I wake up, and have checked my twitter feed, I read stories about Apple suing X company or X company suing Apple over various patents. I’m not a fan of pointless lawsuits, but if a company feels that one or more of their patents is in use in other companies products unjustly and the original patent holders are not getting a fair share for their hard work, then by all means, get some compensation. 

I am an Apple fanboy, but what I said applies to Apple too.  If Apple is violating someone else’s patents, then Apple should be held accountable and have to pay compensation.  Period.  That’s how it should work.  And if someone is violating Apple’s patents, then Apple has the right to defend themselves in court and ask for damages.  

I can see just from design that Samsung is violating Apple’s patents left and right, blatantly I might add.  I mean their charging bricks look identical to Apple’s!  That’s just taking an easy design route .  I’m sure there’s a plethora of combinations you can use to design a tablet charger.  

I hear people saying that what Apple is doing within these lawsuits is hurting the competition, stifling it to keep the iPad on top.  Maybe if the competing companies (I’m looking at you Samsung) would innovate instead of imitate, then I wouldn’t have to write a blogpost regarding competition.

I’m sure you can design a tablet with a different hardware design and yet make it functional for people too at the same time.  Google was able to achieve this!  They unveiled their new Nexus 7″ tablet and it doesn’t look anything like the iPad nor does the software interface either.  It looks original, hardware and software.  So if Google can pull it off, so can other companies.  Personally, I don’t like it.  It looks ugly with the large bezels.  

While I’m on the subject of Google, in relation to competition, I have a bone to pick with Google.  

As I said, I’m all for competition, but when does hypocrisy become competition or vice versa?  Let me explain what I mean.  

Google this morning announced a Siri-like competitor.  On multiple occasions, Eric Schmidt, former CEO and current co-advisor to current CEO, Larry Page, is quoted as calling “Siri a threat to competition.”  He testified in a congressional hearing that Siri is a “significant development” and says it is an “entirely new approach to search technology.”

Yes, I agree with him that Siri is a new approach to search technology.  But you’re just scared that Google will become less relied upon among iOS device users.  Yes, Siri does go around google.  When you tell Siri to look up a restaurant review, it doesn’t use Google.  Instead of going straight to Google, it goes straight to the most reliable source, Yelp!.  That makes perfect logical sense.  Siri takes Google out of the middleman position and instead directs your query to the most relevant site out there.  In a technological world, that makes perfect sense.  And by going straight to the relevant source, users won’t have to expend as much data (since data is becoming a precious mobile resource like water is to survival) as they would have if they had to go to google first and then to the relevant website. 

But Mr. Schmidt was at Congress, saying that Siri will hurt competition.  How can it?  Apple took search to a whole new level!  That’s innovation, Mr. Schmidt!  So in other words, Mr. Schmidt, you want to punish Apple for being innovative just so Google can stay the number one search engine in the world?  

So today, Google launched a Siri-like competitor.  Ok Google, is it powered by Nuance, the same people that power Siri?  Does your program understand and extract the key phrases of a sentence or question and pull in the necessary words to perform a specific function?  Is it powered by Google search, taking users straight to Google for answers and then do the end-users have to tap on the relevant answer or issue another voice command, or will it bypass your search engine completely and take your users to Yelp! for restaurant reviews directly?  

So Google called Siri a threat and a few months later, they release their own version of it.  If their Siri-like program takes users straight to Google search or other Google app before taking the user to their desired result, is that innovation?  I guess so, but it’s backwards because Siri takes users straight to their relevant answer right away bypassing search.  If Google’s Siri-like app takes users straight to the relevant source like Siri does for iOS users, then that’s straight up imitation.  Schmidt’s testimony at Congress should be repealed at this point since they developed something to compete with Apple, when they said that it would hurt competition.  

Schmidt should not have said that it is a threat to competition, but rather have just let it be and developed your own app or program.  The way he used Congress makes it look like a huge publicity circus.  Our government has more important things to worry about rather than turning the congressional house floor into a place of clowning around.  

Google, make your app, but know this…by making your Siri competitive app, you can no longer call Siri a threat to competition.  You’ve lost that right.  

And Samsung, hire some people who are creative and who will innovate for you rather than imitate other produces.  I’m sure you can produce great things with the right people in your company.  

What do you think?  Agree?  Disagree?  Do you feel like enough is a enough with the lawsuits?  Do you believe that if a company feels wrongly violated with a patent misuse, it should be able to defend itself?  What about Google?  Do you feel like they are hypocrites for launching their own Siri competitor when they called that new search method a threat?  

Please feel free to post intelligent comments.  I also invite my readers to do your own research and formulate your own opinions.  I hope I was able to spur some thought for you as you read this.  Let’s all be well informed readers.  

Numbers Stations

Remember at the beginning of LOST, Sayid took the aircraft transceiver from the cockpit and got it working?  Remember when Shannon was trying to translate the French distress signal?  Remember a computer voice coming on and announcing some numbers?

For those of you just getting into LOST, hopefully I didn’t ruin anything for you.  For those of you who love the show, then you know what I’m talking about.  The computer kept announcing numbers before the distress call at each loop. 

If anyone is into this weird hobby or found that transmission from LOST cool, you can listen to something similar for real!  All you need is a ham radio scanner and a fairly tall antenna or a high hill.  Just surf around the different bands / frequencies and you might just pick one up.  Listen for a computer voice announcing numbers, letters, strange and creepy music, and / or cryptic phrases.  

Number Stations have been around since the dawn of the Cold War, relaying urgent messages from intelligence agencies to their “agents” abroad.  The spies would use a device called a “One-Time Pad,” to translate the message.  Each time a new message was relayed, the spy would have to use the next pad in sequence to translate the numbers into readable text.  

Nobody, without the spy’s specific “One-Time Pad,” has been able to decipher a number station message since its conception!  Number Stations have proven to be most effective means of spy & intelligence agencies communicating with their agents in the field.  

But now that the Cold War is over, why do these stations continue to broadcast numbers?  Some stations, after the war, closed up shop…until 20 some years later.  The old stations that went dark after the war suddenly became active again and started broadcasting numbers!  Conspiracy theorists have made claims that the Cold War never ended; They believe we still have agents in the field, sneaking around secret military projects, gathering information about aircraft, etc. I don’t buy into this myself.  Some people believe that this is an elaborate hoax, like the crop circles.  I, personally, don’t know what to make of these number stations.  It’s very strange indeed, but who knows if there’s still a use for these stations or not.  So anyone’s guess is as good as anyone else’s.  

No government agency (US or abroad) has come forward and taken responsibility nor taken action against these number stations, which are not “officially” licensed to operate.  They should take action since they interfere with legit Ham stations around the world.  Although I know they won’t since thanks to signal triangulation, someone found a numbers station broadcasting from an antenna farm owned and operated by the US government.  No independent agency has taken responsibility for broadcasting either.  Whenever someone, whether a private citizen or journalist, tries to get a comment from a government official on these number stations, they either dodge the question or tell people not to even bother with them.  One politician, in the UK, made a bold statement saying that UK citizens shouldn’t be interested in these stations anyway.  It’s illegal to listen to them.  So, to my UK readers, you cannot listen to these strange broadcasts.  It’s illegal!  I personally don’t understand why it is illegal since nobody can own the airwaves themselves.  Once a signal goes over the air, unencrypted, then anybody with perfectly legal equipment can pick it up and should be able to listen since the government will not take responsibility for what they transmit from their property.  Anyway, I digress.  

If you’d like to listen to samples of number stations without a radio, a project called The Conet Project put out a 4-disk album containing different number stations’ messages.  I have had the chance to listen to some of them and there are a couple creepy ones.  There’s one that plays “taps,” then announces the numbers.  That one creeped me out.  There’s one that plays a creepy music box song and then a little girl’s voice starts saying random numbers and letters.  That is especially creepy.  You can buy it, but at the time of this post, they’re out of stock.  They DO encourage you hit up file sharing services and download it that way!  They even have a PDF containing some cool information. If you want to learn more about number stations, head over to the Wikipedia Page to view more.  

Here are some samples taken from YouTube:

Would you listen to number stations?  Have you?  Feel free to comment either way!  I’d be interested to hear what anyone has to say about them!