Embrace the E-Reader

Sales for e-books now make up about a quarter of the book market. That’s huge. The market share is increasing and it shows no sign of slowing down as time progresses. E-readers, quite clearly, are becoming an important part of the future of the “book” as we know it. While I enjoy my Kindle and all that it entails, a large group of people remain on the fence or are staunchly opposed to the advance of the digital text.

In an effort to bridge the digital divide, I have made a list!

Reasons to Embrace the E-Reader

  • No more trips to the store. Do you want a book? Turn on your device and download it. Simple! As much as I love a good bookstore, I love the convenience of instant gratification more.“Aha!” you say, thrilled with the discovery of the blog author’s fatal flaw, “you are nothing more than a product of the digital age — you are a seeker of instant gratification! Instant coffee. Instant meal. Instant movie. Instant life! How can you forsake the traditional bookstore and its steadfast business owners and employees for a cold piece of machinery?”

    Look, I get it. Change is hard… and, in this case, it is particularly hard on the classic bookstores around the country. Progress, however, inevitably causes casualties along its path into the future. What is the point of a bookstore if a better alternative exists? Although it is a classically romantic notion to read a physical book, the physicality of the book does not make the reading of “the book” a worthwhile enterprise — it is the content of and the act found within the action that makes it worthwhile. In the end, the physical copy of any book is only a thing.

  • It is fiercely convenient. Most dedicated e-readers now weigh less than a mass market paperback. That’s nice. They’re small, sturdy, and they can even fit inside a large pocket if need be (and I constantly find the need). I have over three hundred books currently loaded onto my Kindle, my PC, as well as on my cell phone. It feels very liberating to carry my entire digital library around with me wherever I go. If I need to look up a quote or if I simply decide to read something else (you know the feeling), then I have that capability. I don’t have to dig through shelves or shelves to find just the right fit.
  • It is easier to read than a real book. Bear with me here. I currently use a Kindle Paperwhite for my e-books needs. It has a backlit screen that glows (based on whatever intensity the user desires) through the e-ink display. This innovation renders the need for a glaring booklight completely nonexistent. That’s not an insignificant change.The ability to turn a page with one hand also increases the usability of the e-reader over a physical book. If I am reading a “real” book in a chilly environment, for example, I quickly find one or more hand becoming quite cold! A one-handed book reading experience is the better experience. (Yes, I know … #firstworldproblem … No shame.)

    Adjustable font size on the fly? Changeable typefaces? Custom highlights for notable passages that can be shared or stored? Sign me up.

  • E-Books have become an amazing platform for aspiring authors as well as for authors who wish to divorce themselves from the classic publishing market. Case Study: Hugh Howey (Author of Wool)

    Howey first began the series in 2011, initially writing Wool as a stand-alone short story. He published the work through Amazon’sKindle Direct Publishing system, choosing to do so due to the freedom of self-publishing. After the series grew in popularity, he began to write more entries for it. Howey began soliciting international rights in 2012; Brazil has been one win. Film rights to the series were sold to 20th Century Fox, with Lionsgate also expressing interest.

    Howey recently signed a print-only deal for in the neighborhood of a half million dollars with Simon and Schuster to distribute Wool to book retailers across the US and Canada. Unusually, Howey retains full rights to continue distributing Wool online himself

    Howey’s rise to fame came as a direct result of the shifting authorship paradigm that has been created through the introduction of e-books into the mass market. Now, if you were to traipse over to the Kindle Store to check out the cheapest books to download, you would see countless pieces of fiction and non-fiction from independent authors looking to make a mark in the literary world through their own means.

    No matter your opinion of the rise of the e-book, it has to be acknowledged that it has been a positive experience for new authors struggling to break into the caustic publishing world.

In the end, I know that I’ll never really convince those who are staunch traditionalists to switch to an e-reader. They are a divisive device (Har!). All I wish is that they are viewed with, at the least, a fair amount of criticism. If you wish to hold onto the physical realm of the book, feel free to do so! Do not, however, castigate the digital version unfairly in your quest to maintain the status quo. A book, in the end, is primarily experiential.

If people are reading, does it really matter how the content is engaged?

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App In Review: Candy Crush Saga

Note: This is a new series that I’m going to attempt to push out weekly. (Wishful thinking, I know.)  Cell phone gaming is a monster. A micro-transaction fueled monster. I cannot deny the allure of the brand of extremely portable gaming that a cell phone can offer — indeed, I like lots of cell phones games. In my quest to understand the “social gaming” market, however, I will review one of the top games on the Android (free) market every week. Stay tuned!

Candy Crush Saga
The Search For Riesen (Get it?!)

Candy Crush has been number one on the Android game market for several weeks now. I see Facebook posts about it. I see rage memes that have been created about it. All I knew before going in was that it involved candy and Facebook. So, I downloaded and installed to be met with the screen below.



Facebook integration! Joy! Look, I use Facebook daily. Millions upon millions of individuals do. Many of those people also play games through Facebook — we’ve all seen invites to Farmville/whatever to help water crops or collect taxes. These social games introduce the so-called “socially linked” elements in order to create a larger user base that, in theory, will increase ad revenue and microtransactional (I am making that a word) revenue from said games. Candy Crush Saga, therefore, integrates Facebook into its game in order to entice the friends of players to join in on the sugary fun.

Friends connected through Facebook can, most importantly, provide boosters to the player that make difficult levels easier to accomplish through the use of power-ups. If the player chooses to not connect to Facebook, the same boosters may be bought with ridiculously inflated cash prices. ($1.99 for a pack of three boosters.) It’s an obvious grab for cash that appears to be incredibly successful: not only is Candy Crush Saga the number one downloaded game on the Android market, it is also the highest grossing (as of 4.17.13).

So! Gameplay. Candy Crush Saga is Bejeweled with a few twists. There are stages presented to the player through a candyland-esque gameboard that have no real bearing on the game itself — the player is simply presented with one stage after another, a la Bejeweled.

Match the colors of candy to reach a predetermined score before you run out of “moves.” If you create a combination of four or more, a special piece of that color will appear that has a particular effect. Some of the stages require specific goals to be met for completion through the use of so-called “jelly” that add a locational challenge specific boards.

That’s it, really. It’s Bejeweled with a new theme. Is that what you want to play? If it is — Candy Crush is the game for you, that is, if you don’t mind the constantly nagging Facebook integration with a helping of frequently pushed microtransactions.

Candy. Crush it.

Candy. Crush it.

Verdict: Personally, I have no interest to play this game. I tried it for the sake of fun and for the sake of the review, but I found myself wondering why I would play this when it is nothing more than a rehash of a decades-old concept.

On top of the stale nature of the product is the deeply-ingrained system designed to take money from the user in order to move from level to level. As any game like this is naturally tuned around the idea of “random,” certain levels can become very difficult to accomplish without a fair bit of repetition. See those three buttons at the top of the screenshot toward the right? Those are all images of the powerups that, through a press of a button, can be bought and utilized immediately to get past a frustrating level.

While it is a shrewd business model, it smacks of greed. I understand that the microtransactional model is the new status quo for “social” gaming, but that does not mean that I accept it in all iterations. There is, to put it simply, no need for boosts in a game such as this unless you wish to beat all of the stages as quickly as is possible. If this casual game is played casually, it will be beaten in time. Eventually the candy will crush itself — your wallet need not become involved.

Take a pass on this one.

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Top Five: Glee Adaptations (Yeah, You Read That Correctly)

Glee is a brilliant, deeply flawed show.

Where else can you find such an ardent celebration of music on television? It isn’t incredibly manufactured (a la American Idol, etc), but is, instead, painfully earnest. The remarkable honesty of the show is its greatest strength and its greatest flaw. While the music benefits from a heaping spoonful of the titular “glee,” the narrative of the show suffers for it.

Glee likes to develop episodes around various messages that the creators feel the audience needs to see. These messages have ranged from teenage pregnancy to suicide to school shootings, and almost all of them have been awkwardly melodramatic (though I felt that the school shooting episode was done pretty well).

All of that said, though, I will admit myself to be a big fan of the show. Good music is good music! So — let your cynicism drop aside and enjoy the following song adaptations. (Note: The following are in no particular order of importance. They’re just a general top five.)

  • “Poker Face”

It’s no secret that Lea Michele is the best singer on the show. She’s one of the few on Glee to have had a successful musical career before she was ever cast, for example. What I like about this particular cover is its complete dressing-down of the original Gaga version. The slower, more deliberate nature of the cover makes the lyrics more relevant than in the original version, in my opinion. It is the combination of her voice with the likes of Idina Menzel, however, that gives “Poker Face” a spot on this list. 

  • “Teenage Dream”

Darren Criss as Blaine is quite the popular fellow online. If you were to frequent Tumblr, for example, you would find countless posts about Criss extolling virtues of looks and charm. It’s true — he’s an attractive fellow. What should never be forgotten, though, is the level of this guy’s talent. Dude can sing.

I like this cover for a similar reason that I liked “Poker Face” … it’s a deconstructed version of a pop hit that uses the speed to accentuate what the song is actually about, allowing the meaning to come to light past the usual pop-infused distraction.

  • “On My Own”

Unless I am mistaken, this was the first full song ever shown on Glee. Way back from Season 1, Episode 1, “On My Own” features the innocent Lea Michelle singing her soul in order to get accepted to the glee club. The song represents what the show would end up representing: a fearless display of honest singing.

And, for the record, I would have much preferred Lea Michelle singing this in the recent rendition of Les Miserables over the casting choice that they made. Pah.

  • “The Scientist”

Fully embracing a common TV trope, the members of the glee club sing a slow, emotional song at the end of an episode over melancholy visuals. Who hasn’t seen an episode of a TV drama that featured a sad song over slow-motion visuals? They’ve all done it. Glee, of course, is different because it is the members of the show’s cast who are singing the song.

“The Scientist” is featured during on the series’ strongest episodes, featuring a destruction of almost every romantic relationship in the show. Sure — it is dramatic and cheesy. It is also sung to perfection.

  • “Faithfully”

Glee became famous because of Journey. Although “Don’t Stop Believing” was very well done in the pilot episode, “Faithfully” is my personal favorite Journey cover.

It features the two leads of the show. It is over produced. It has a bombastic choir singing during the end. It is done in front of a live crowd. It is the perfect Glee song.

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What is Literature?

Many Freshman level English courses offered in universities and colleges across the country pose a simple question at the start of every year: What is literature? 


That’s a whale, or something.

Honestly, it is difficult to come up with a complete answer to that question. Literature is a living notion — one that ebbs and flows along the tides of time. What is considered literature today, for example, may not be considered literature in the future. Moby-Dick and Wuthering Heights, for instance, were both maligned when they were initially released. Why, then, do we seek to so rigidly define the indefinable? Why are some books given the grand label of official “literature” over other books that are equally worthy? Although it is bad form to pose hypotheticals with no ready answer, I will commit that deadly writing sin for this case — these questions must be asked.

The word “literature” literally means “things made from letters.” Not very helpful. Is a stop sign a work of literature? While I’m sure some student somewhere has argued along that line, the literal argument for literature remains hopelessly broad.

Naturally, many famous figures of “literature” have (over the years) attempted to define what literature truly is. While many of these attempts were self-serving (as their specific works just happened to land into the newly created category), the quest to define literature is what, in turn, creates literature. Bear with me.

The search for an answer to any question often creates meaningful dialogue. The dialogue surrounding literature is intrinsically linked with the idea of inherent value or worth found in a text. For example, it is easy to declare something like Moby-Dick literature today because of how highly we currently regard the writing ability and style (the mechanisms by which we give worth to a text) of Melville.

But (as they say), therein lies the rub. Did people admire Melville’s style when he wrote the great novel? Certainly not. Will his style be admired two hundred years into the future? It is impossible to say. To declare what is literature today, then, is to make an immediate value judgement about the piece of work, and subsequently apply it, in perpetuity, to the work.


Great F. Scott Fitzgerald!

We can get around this thorny problem, of course, by applying temporal labels to literature. University courses tend to handle this issue well, as literature is often broken into very regimented time periods for the sake of discussion and analysis. Does the system work? Pretty much. Is it perfect? Of course not . The fact stands that we must compare the texts of the 1700’s or 1800’s or 1900’s to our current knowledge and understanding of literary theory because we are unable to time travel. The value of any given text, then, is entirely based upon contemporary valuation.

This is a problem! If one takes a relativistic approach, on the other hand, to define what literature actually is, one will be stuck with a realization that value distinctions are ultimately pointless — anything “good” can be called literature. Time does nothing but cause issues of determination and distinction. Do you enjoy the text? Did you gain something from it? Call it “literature.” Call it “good.” Call it whatever you like — as long it is a determination of your own.

While labels and designations must be followed for the sake of academic discourse, do not feel the need to accept them as the only rules to define and categorize your own thoughts.

Define literature, then, as you see fit.

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Real creative name, guys.

The Playstation 4 was finally announced at a Sony presser on Febreuary 20th with a two house marathon of buzzwords, game reveals, and some questionable design choices. Sony’s latest push into the console arena appears to be an effort, before all else, to being the PS brand back into the majority of gaming households. The words “accessible,” “simple,” and “social” were consistently thrown about during the announcement — a sign that Sony recognizes the issues that some had with the technical behemoth that is the PS3.

All of those who had an original Playstation or Playstation 2 (for most of its life) can remember that the PS brand was always significantly different from its competition. It was the undisputed master of the high-end gaming market (Dreamcast doesn’t count, sorry). At the end of the life of the PS2, however, Microsoft created the XBOX and a healthy dose of capitalistic competition was inserted into the mix.

Unfortunately, Sony did not fare well against the ambition that Microsoft pushed out for the XBOX 360. While the PS3 is the more powerful machine, it does not have the same level of consumer infiltration that the XBOX 360 has managed to pull off. The PS3 isn’t as flashy. It didn’t have Halo. The price point was too high when it was released. It was slow to get good console exclusives. These factors, coupled with Microsoft’s aggressive marketing of the 360, left Sony too far behind to ever create a parity with Microsoft.

Now, however, the tables have turned as Sony is primed to release the PS4 before the new XBOX. They have the ability, through the mere fact of being the first to be “next-gen” (and yes, the Wii U also doesn’t count), to dominate the field. How? Take a look at the following list of system features followed by my thoughts on them for some armchair insight:

  • The Dual Shock 4: The latest Sony controller has the same form factor as previous iterations, with one notable exception — the touch pad. Although the Vita has been much maligned in the gaming press (and subsequent sales), it is a fantastic piece of hardware with truly interesting control mechanisms. Having a touch pad on the fore and rear of the Dual Shock 4 will give the standard controller a versatility that has been completely absent from a console experience. Touch pads allow nuance — they allow subtlety. Analog sticks are useful for precise control in a shooter, but what could be more precise than your actual finger?Also, the controller has a “Share” button, which leads me to …


    A square affair.

  • The Social Angle: We live in an absolutely connected world. Love it or hate it, it is a fact of technological life. You can deny Facebook all you like. You can block it out of your life completely … but that does not change the fact that millions of people use it and will continue to use it. Smart phones are now nothing more than social hubs for your life. Like a photo? You share it to Facebook. Or Instagram. Or Flickr. Or reddit. You share songs, you share quotes, you share statuses, and you share everything in-between (“you,” here, refers to the average internet user. You who take exception to the shared and the sharing should please forgive my second-person assertion).So, in an effort to hop on the social bandwagon, Sony created a social console. You can share any screenshot or video from your time playing a game with a single press of a button on your controller. You can have a profile with your actual name through the revamped PSN. Friends can help your play through games and solve puzzles remotely. Or .. you can be a loner and turn all of that functionality off.

    By creating a social console, however, Sony wishes to create relationship of personal investment between the user and the machine. If your friends are all over your console’s feeds and menus, then (as they reason) you will be more likely to attach to the PS4 over a competitor’s product with lesser personal focus. This will probably work for the beginning of the PS4’s life, though I expect the next XBOX to have very similar social functionality.

  • Content Streaming: Sony also announced that while the PS4 will not be able to play games from previous systems (due to a 180 on technical architecture), they did create a means to get past the thorny issue of backwards-compatibility. Although there are few available details for the game streaming at the moment, the idea is simple: you can play any games you own (or have owned) through the streaming service without having to provide a disk.If this works, it will represent another step toward a physical media-less gaming culture. The questions at this moment, however, are too many for me to make a judgment about the service. How will they know which games you own for the PS3? Will the streaming cost money, perhaps through Playstation Plus? What kind of bandwidth will this consume? What about those of us with relatively poor internet connections? Time will tell.
  • The Software: Software makes systems sell. That’s probably plastered around the cubicles of Microsoft and Sony now, given their technologically-focused histories. Thankfully, the launch titles for the PS4 look promising. Killzone is making yet another beautiful appearance, although they will struggle to make anybody care. A new Infamous game was detailed and previewed, along with a racing game, an action platformer featuring a cute-ish robot, and, of course, Watch_Dogs:


What, then, will it take for Sony to succeed? All of the above points will have to work as they’ve advertised them. Sony will have to market the PS4 as not the PS3. There will absolutely have to be good games available with launch. And, ultimately, Microsoft will have to have a lesser offering than the PS4.

We’ll see.

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These Are Good Books — Read Them.

I had a goal to read one-hundred books in 2012. I failed. Although I only made it through about eighty-five books, I still feel accomplished to have added new entries into my library. What follows is a list of books that I read over the past year that I feel everybody should check out (click on the book covers for Amazon linkage).


  • Wool Omnibus by Hugh Howey: While there is a large crowd of people who still shun e-readers as the inception of the book-pocalypse, e-readers have been nothing but positive for struggling, independent authors. Howey is an excellent example of this. While it is difficult to discuss anything about Wool without spoiling everything about the plot, suffice it to say that it is a post-apocalyptic drama focused around an isolated group of individuals trying to survive in a harsh environment.


  • The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher: I don’t  usually go in for very long book series. This particular series about a wise-cracking wizard who resides in Chicago has over ten entries in it now, but the quality of the writing and the story only increases with each iteration. There is a valid comparison to be made to the X-Files in that some of the books are very much monster-of-the-week episodes, while others are focused more on the over-arching mythology that ties all of the novels together. Butcher finds a success through his flawless portrayal of humanity in a character (Dresden) while managing to truly bring the “urban” setting into life for the fledgling urban fantasy genre.


  • Solar Clipper Trader Tales by Nathan Lowell: Science fiction has always been
    a favorite or mine, but it typically tends to favor either a lot of science or a lot of fiction. (Sometimes fiction that, even for Sci-Fi, can stretch the imagination). The books from this series by Lowell feature plot-lines are refreshingly simple. There is no grand enemy. There is no hero’s journey — mono-myth be damned! The science fiction is all in the setting while the story is driven by a young protagonist trying to make his way through a new life aboard a trading vessel. 


  • Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson: Sanderson is one of my favorite authors. While fantasy novels are popular right now because of popular media exposure (some still ride the Harry Potter train while others leech from Game of Thrones), Sanderson remains uniquely imaginative. While all of his novels feature inventive uses of magic, Warbreaker features the best combination of a unique magic system coupled with accessibility. Well-written characters? Sure. Humor? Definitely. Magic system based entirely around color? Definitely. 


  • Airborn by Kenneth Oppel: Steampunk airships. Lost worlds. Alternate Earth biosphere. Classic adventure. This novel feels very much like a throwback to older tales such as Tin-Tin — there is an immediate sense of innocent adventure. The worst enemies are sky pirates and the greatest threats are those created by the environment. Enjoyable reading.


Of course, my recommendations are fraught with biases toward fantasy and science. I admit that. I will assert, however, that good books are good books, regardless of genre. Even if you have not read or have not enjoyed science fiction or fantasy before, give one of the aforementioned books a shot — in the worst case, you’ll simply be supporting an author. Best case? Good book.

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Yeah, This Is A Post About Guns

While gun control is obviously a contentious issue for many Americans, I want to simply present some of the new proposals from the President in their undistilled form in order to cut past the partisan onslaught that has already taken over the debate. For the record, all of these quotes were taken from President Obama’s official gun policy proposal that came out today. (The full PDF can be seen here.)

• Require criminal background checks for all gun sales: Right now, federally licensed firearms dealers are required to run background checks on those buying guns, but studies estimate that nearly 40 percent of all gun sales are made by private sellers who are exempt from this requirement. A national survey of inmates found that only 12 percent of those who used a gun in a crime acquired it from a retail store or pawn shop, where a background check should have been run. Congress should pass legislation that goes beyond just closing the “gun show loophole” to require background checks for all firearm sales, with limited, common-sense exceptions for cases like certain transfers between family members and temporary transfers for hunting and sporting purposes.

This one is essentially a no-brainer. I cannot see how legitimate and traction-gripping claims could be made against an assertion that background checks should be mandatory for gun ownership. My only issue with the above quote is the inclusion of the “common-sense” phrasing. How many times over the past few years have you heard politicians refer to something as “common-sense”? It’s a pathetic ploy to appeal to the so-called “reasonable” side of all of us. It’s exclusionary speak — what if you do not feel that the phrase labeled as common-sense is, in fact, common-sense? Then you’re wrong. (According to the logic of that turn of phrase.)

• Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system: States are a critical source for several key categories of relevant records and data, including criminal history records and records of persons prohibited from having guns for mental health reasons. The Department of Justice will invest $20 million in FY2013 to give states stronger incentives to make this data available. The Administration is also proposing $50 million for this purpose in FY2014, and will look for additional ways to ensure that states are doing their part to provide relevant information.

While I would like further information on what the “incentives” are going to actually be, I agree that the implementation of across-the-board background checks should be a collaborative effort.

• Make sure dangerous people are prohibited from having guns: The background check system is designed to keep guns out of the hands of those forbidden by law to have them. But we need to make sure our laws are effective at identifying the dangerous or untrustworthy individuals that should not have access to guns. The President will direct the Attorney General, in consultation with other relevant agencies, to review the laws governing who is prohibited from having guns and make legislative and executive recommendations to ensure dangerous people aren’t slipping through the cracks.

Again, this is a simple and logical suggestion.

• Reinstate and strengthen the ban on assault weapons: The shooters in Aurora and Newtown used the type of semiautomatic rifles that were the target of the assault weapons ban that was in place from 1994 to 2004. That ban was an important step, but manufacturers were able to circumvent the prohibition with cosmetic modifications to their weapons. Congress must reinstate and strengthen the prohibition on assault weapons.

Here we go. I’m not going to dive into the argument of what, exactly, constitutes an “assault” weapon. It’s a pointless (and circular) discussion that will never have an end. This particular piece of the proposal will not go through. It’s too vague to be successful.

That said, here is my personal view about what type of gun should be allowed for sale:

If the gun did not exist in the 18th century, it should be illegal for personal use. Look: when the constitution was written, the most advanced gun was essentially incapable of hitting a human after seventy yards. It could only fire about four times in a minute. Guns today? The phenomenal increase in accuracy and fire speed could never have been predicted by those who were saying that even 18th century muskets should be “well regulated.”

So, then, how is it unreasonable to address the second amendment head-on? The language of the amendment has not changed since the document was written. Guns have changed in ways that defy imagination. Why can we not address this disparity? The constitution was meant to be changed, to be expanded upon — why is this one amendment somehow a holy exception to the legislative process?

If you want to own a gun — fine. But, in my opinion, you should only be allowed to own antiques, barring new constitutional action.

• Limit ammunition magazines to 10 rounds: The case for prohibiting high-capacity magazines has been proven over and over; the shooters at Virginia Tech, Tucson, Aurora, Oak Creek, and Newtown all used magazines holding more than 10 rounds, which would have been prohibited under the 1994 law. These magazines enable any semiautomatic weapon to be used as an instrument of mass violence, yet they are once again legal and now come standard with many handguns and rifles. Congress needs to reinstate the prohibition on magazines holding more than 10 rounds.

This change stands a better chance at success than a blanket ban. Why does anybody (in the public sphere) need a gun with more than ten rounds in it? It doesn’t make sense. The only reason automatic weapons were invented was for murder. Hunting rifles, by and large, remain single-shot. I understand that some hunters like to use automatics for specific types of hunting, and that’s fine, but the original purpose of the gun is to kill people.

We do not, therefore, need large magazines that are designed to do nothing but kill. And don’t tell me that you can reload quickly — I’m sure you can — but the fact that you need to reload at all before you can continue your bullet spree ensures that there is time for somebody to stop you, if need be.

• Conduct research on the causes and prevention of gun violence, including links between video games, media images, and violence: The President is issuing a Presidential Memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control and scientific agencies to conduct research into the causes and prevention of gun violence. It is based on legal analysis that concludes such research is not prohibited by any appropriations language. The CDC will start immediately by assessing existing strategies for preventing gun violence and identifying the most pressing research questions, with the greatest potential public health impact. And the Administration is calling on Congress to provide $10 million for the CDC to conduct further research, including investigating the relationship between video games, media images, and violence.

Video games finally make an appearance! Surprisingly, though, they are not demonized. Indeed, they are included with other forms of media under an umbrella of a generally violent culture. This is good. Even though there have never been accurate, conclusive studies to show a connection between video games and real world violence, a little introspection and investigation can have nothing but positive results.

•Protect the rights of health care providers to talk to their patients about gun safety: Doctors and other health care providers also need to be able to ask about firearms in their patients’ homes and safe storage of those firearms, especially if their patients show signs of certain mental illnesses or if they have a young child or mentally ill family member at home. Some have incorrectly claimed that language in the Affordable Care Act prohibits doctors from asking their patients about guns and gun safety. Medical groups also continue to fight against state laws attempting to ban doctors from asking these questions. The Administration will issue guidance clarifying that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit or otherwise regulate communication between doctors and patients, including about firearms.

This seems like a reasonable precaution, especially given that the number of violent gun crimes committed by those with mental issues is statistically significant.

• Launch a national responsible gun ownership campaign: The Administration will encourage gun owners to take responsibility for keeping their guns safe with a national campaign. The campaign will promote common-sense gun safety measures like the use of gun safes and trigger locks, separate storage of guns and ammunition, and the reporting of lost and stolen weapons to law enforcement.

Although “common-sense” is rearing its ugly head again, I find this to be one of the most reasonable proposals on the list. This quote demonstrates that, of course, Obama does not wish to take anybody’s guns away. Personal responsibility is a perfectly reasonable measure to take in order to guard against possible incidents.

• Put up to 1,000 new school resource officers and school counselors on the job: The Administration is proposing a new Comprehensive School Safety program, which will help school districts hire staff and make other critical investments in school safety. The program will give $150 million to school districts and law enforcement agencies to hire school resource officers, school psychologists, social workers, and counselors. The Department of Justice will also develop a model for using school resource officers, including best practices on age-appropriate methods for working with students.

Schools will naturally play a large part in this discussion, and it can never hurt to have more staff inside of increasingly crowded schools. I cannot see a problem with this proposal.

• Support individuals ages 16 to 25 at high risk for mental illness: Efforts to prevent school shootings and other gun violence can’t end when a student leaves high school. Individuals ages 16 to 25 are at high risk for mental illness, substance abuse, and suicide, but they are among the least likely to seek help. Even those who received services as a child may fall through the cracks when they turn 18. The Administration is proposing $25 million for innovative state-based strategies supporting young people ages 16 to 25 with mental health or substance abuse issues.

This should have already been a focus in this country.


There are many other proposals that were featured in the document that I did not decide to include in this post. I merely chose the ones that I could talk about intelligently and that would be important for the discussion moving forward.

It’s true — I don’t like guns. I am, however, surrounded by them. There are more guns in my family than there are people. I skeet shoot occasionally. I enjoy archery.

The types of weapons that have been used in these recent crimes, though, simply do not need to be owned by civilians. If you want to defend your homestead (a particularly antiquated notion), you can do so swimmingly with a shotgun. Or a bat. Or a taser. You do not need an AR-15 to stop all of the “bad” people who constantly assault your house.

Your guns aren’t being taken away (unless they are now illegal or soon-to-be illegal, and then.. I don’t feel bad for you. Automatic weapons of war have no place in a home) — they are simply becoming better-organized members of society.

My prediction is that about half of these proposals will pass through the system. None of the contentious ones will make it through. To use military parlance, though, it could be said that this is a war of attrition. Big, sweeping changes will not be accepted. Little changes, however, may eventually accumulate into a substantial difference.

I hope.

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