Archive for May, 2009

Questions Gun Control Advocates Don’t Want You To Ask

May 23, 2009

The arguments for or against the ownership and possession of firearms are all too often justified on the merits of whether they are necessary for defense or sport. Ultimately the question of gun ownership is a moral decision of whether individuals should have sovereignty and freedom to choose for themselves.  Similar to political ideologies for or against limited government, those on either side of the issue are often worlds apart philosophically.  Ultimately some believe in the freedom of the individual to act for themselves, while others believe that freedom is being free from the responsibility of having to make such choices.  Ultimately some feel it to be a form of slavery when the normally natural conditions of personal responsibility and choice that life affords are denied them through artificial means.  Others consider the liberty to choose responsibly or face harsh consequences as burdensome and relish what they deem a more carefree lifestyle of being taken care of by others, e.g. a supposedly benevolent state.  

I will focus the remainder of this discussion on the deciders, i.e. those who want to act rather than be acted upon.  Those who want to be acted upon rather than act for themselves wouldn’t want to be burdened with thinking for themselves anyway.  Like those chained to the walls of the cave of Socrates’ famous allegory, only the deciders have the courage and faith to think for themselves and see reality as more than just a shadow of what it really is.  

The first question that a decider might ask themselves is this: If an individual chooses to defend themselves with guns, engage in peaceful recreational sport and/or practice with firearms in anticipation of future military or other peacekeeping endeavors, why should society restrict them in such choices by the imposition of gun control?

An argument has been made against guns that asks why should we allow guns if we don’t allow citizens such weapons of war as grenades and rocket launchers?  Such arguments fail to pursue the obvious followups to this question.  Why wouldn’t we trust the ordinary citizen with grenades and/or rocket launchers etc. if there was a war on American soil?  If citizens of our country were holed up in an embassy under attack would we deny such men and women these weapons of war?  Certainly such weapons would be a grave responsibility for the average citizen in times of peace, but wouldn’t we be just as alarmed if our police officers carried rocket launchers and fragment grenades while on duty?  So the real question that should be asked is: should the common citizenry surrender their personal sovereignty and trust and rely solely on a police force to protect them?  This leads to such questions as: can police be everywhere at all times?  What if one or more policemen turn rogue and abuse their entrusted power?  Are police necessarily more responsible than other citizens?

While there are many well trained policemen, there are enough numerous bad examples of handling guns by policemen.

For example: The site http://www.ktvu.com/news/5441146/detail.html
contains a story posted November 30, 2005 about an Oakland police officer who injured himself by an accidental discharge of his gun.

Here’s a blog website that has information about more accidental gun discharges including a link to a video of a DEA agent teaching kids about gun safety and accidentally shooting himself in the foot!:
http://sleepless.blogs.com/george/2005/04/accidental_poli.html

Some advocate that even policemen shouldn’t have guns that are lethal.  This implies the question of whether deadly force is sometimes necessary.  History has demonstrated that deadly force is sometimes necessary.  Take the following story for instance:

April 27 2009:

Sheriff: Man killed 2 deputies after stun

PENSACOLA, Fla. — Two deputies killed by a soldier they were trying to arrest for beating his wife exchanged multiple rounds with the man who began shooting while on the ground after he was shocked with a stun gun, authorities said Sunday, a day after the men were killed.

“When that Taser released after five seconds, he came up shooting,” Interim Okaloosa County Sheriff Edward Spooner said. 

“He went from just being disagreeable to using deadly force in a matter of seconds. It was a very aggressive move with a concealed weapon on his part.”

Spooner said that between 30 and 40 rounds were exchanged between Cartwright and the two deputies.

Investigators were working to determine the extent of 28-year-old Joshua Cartwright’s military and militia weapons training, Spooner said.

Cartwright was killed by deputies in a neighboring county after he fled a shooting range parking lot near Crestview where he killed deputies Burt Lopez and Warren “Skip” York.

(from: http://www.heraldextra.com/content/view/307151/36/)

Some may certainly think that these arguments are beside the point, that once we rid the world of guns, that things will be safer.  This argument is as ridiculous as saying that once we rid the world of matches the world will be safe from fire! Ultimately when it comes to ensuring peace and security for ourselves and our families we  shouldn’t sacrifice our personal sovereignty and freedom in the process.  This is mentioned in the following blog:
http://ntconservative.wordpress.com/2008/01/10/security-vs-liberty-pt-2/ which paraphrased the following quote from Ben Franklin:

Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.

Michelle Malkin has a page that explains how this quote from Ben Franklin has often been misused by the liberals:
http://michellemalkin.com/2006/01/25/dowdifying-ben-franklin/

Enhanced Attention through Stability balls in the Classroom

May 12, 2009

Glad to read the recent article “Rolling Admissions” in the Saturday May 9th edition of the Utah Daily Herald concerning Leslie Stilson, a school teacher at Spring Creek Elementary using stability balls rather than chairs in the classroom.  The balls are like exercise balls with the addition of four integrated rubber knobs on the bottom that help keep the ball from rolling.

Allowing the children to bounce a little throughout the day actually helps keep them more focused on classroom activities and learning. Some physical and mental energy can be required to maintain a stable posture on the balls, and this helps reduce attention sapping boredom and/or lethargy developed in sitting in traditional chairs for hours on end.  

Ellen J. Langer hints at why such methods promoting subtle variety via movement may promote concentration and learning in chapter two of her book “The Power of Mindful Learning” (bold font added to emphasize the most related part of these quotes):

For us to pay attention to something for any amount of time, the image must be varied.  Thus, for students who have trouble paying attention the problem may be that they are following the wrong instructions.  To pay constant, fixed attention to a thought or an image may be a kind of oxymoron.  Yet this is the very way people try to attend to the external world of things or to the internal world of ideas…

People naturally seek novelty in play and have no difficulty paying attention in those situations.  When something is novel we notice different things about it. If we see a stimulus as novel,  for example, if we see a rosebush along a railroad track, we sit up and take notice.  If we were to stare at the rosebush long enough, eventually we would become habituated to it.  This pattern begins when we are infants and continues throughout our lifetimes.  Changes in context or perspective lead us to notice novelty…Successful concentration occurs naturally when the target of our attention varies. 

The idea that to pay attention means to act like a motionless camera is so ingrained in us that when we do pay attention successfully we are usually unintentionally changing the context or finding novel features in our subject…

There are several ways to increase variability.  As educators we can present novel stimuli to our students.  We can introduce material through games, because in games players vary their responses to fool their opponents or look more closely at all aspects of the situation to figure out how to win.  Another approach is not to vary the stimulus, but to vary our perspective in relation to the stimulus.  This situation happens often in physical play; in tennis or table tennis or any sport, we move around so that the stimulus is never quite the same.  Perhaps bringing about  a change in perspective through movement is how so-called hyperactive children increase novelty for themselves.

The most effective way to increase our ability to pay attention is to look for novelty within the stimulus situation, whether it is a story, a map, or a painting.  This is the most useful lesson to teach our children, because it enables them to be relatively independent of other people and of their physical environment.  If novelty (and interest) is in the mind of the attender, it doesn’t matter that a teacher presents the same old thing or tells us to sit still and concentrate in a fixed manner.

As to the balls being used, I saw the WittFitt logo on a few of the balls in the pictures posted in the Daily Herald article.  I’m not sure if Spring Creek Elementary is using just the WittFitt balls or a combination of different vendors to see which works best.  Here’s another article on another school in our nation using stability balls in the classroom:

http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=132860#

As to the lifetime of such balls, the WittFitt care and safety manual advises replacing them after 1-2 years, depending on usage:

http://www.wittfitt.com/safetyusecare.htm

How does the cost of such balls compare to more traditional school chairs?  Here’s one link to a website that sells school furniture:
http://www.furniture4schools.com/showproduct.php?catid=18

The cost of a traditional chair is comparable in the cheap range and 2-3 times the price for good quality chairs.  However the lifetime of a traditional chair could potentially be 10+ years.

Despite the much lower “mileage” of the stability balls compared to traditional chairs, the benefits however could outweigh the costs.  Likewise the cost of $30-$40 a year for a child could be seen as but a small fraction of the total costs of education.  Additionally the choice of whether to have such balls in the classroom could be given to the childrens’ parents who could rent a ball for their child to use in class during the school year.   Likewise children could time-share such balls — i.e. only use the balls for a few hours a day.  Then the costs per child could be divided.  A ball that might normally cost $40 per year per child if used by that one child for 8 hours would only cost $10 per year if they timeshared to only use the ball 2 hours per day.  Some experts even recommend against using such balls for extended periods of time anyway.  It all goes back to having a proper balance of things.
Other Related links:
http://student-health-issues.suite101.com/article.cfm/no_more_classroom_chairs