Friday, April 27, 2018

Again with the guns

You might have heard about the shooting that took place at a Waffle House in Nashville last weekend.

This is getting a little too close to home.

It's the second occurrence like this in the past year in our area, the other having been in a small church that is not far from the Waffle House where this took place.

It's an area just a little north and east of where I live, probably 10 or so miles away as the crow flies. Again, way too close.

The story on this guy from last week is he was from Illinois and had already been in trouble with the law. He had even been arrested trying to get in the White House. He had worked in his family's construction business back home, and had made his way down here and was doing something similar. Apparently he had been fired from one job here and had gotten another, but never showed up again after going for one day.

The gun he used had been taken away from him and, as I understand it, his license to carry it had been revoked. It had been turned over to his father, who GAVE IT BACK TO HIM.

He took out four people in said Waffle House, and it might have been more if not for the heroic efforts of a young man who pretty much decided "not on my watch." He confronted the shooter and wrestled the gun from his hands.

The culprit was at large for more than 24 hours before authorities found him. He's behind bars now, and I'm guessing he'll be locked up for the rest of his life.

But the damage is done. More folks are dead at the hands of a shooter who had absolutely no business being in the possession of a gun or guns.

No comment here from me. Just the facts.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Good books

It has been my practice to list my favorite books at the end of the year, but I have read a couple lately I wanted to go ahead and write about. I guess it's too early to say they will be on the 2018 favorites list but I can say it's a pretty strong "more than likely."

The two books are by the same author, Doris Kearns Goodwin. I learned about her from a blog post by Sage ( in February 2017, when he reviewed her book, "Wait Till Next Year." It immediately went on my TBR.

It was another of Kearns Goodwin's books, however, that I read first -- "Team of Rivals." It's a very long book, about 900 pages, and I read it on my Kindle. I've learned the electronic reader gives me a false sense of security, in that I fly through the short pages but percentage-wise, I still have a long way to go! In fact, I checked this out through the library website but had to go ahead and buy it since I was only 50 percent done when it came due.

But it was definitely worth the effort -- both in laboring through until the end and in shelling out a few bucks to make the purchase.

"Team of Rivals" is the book on which "Lincoln," the movie from a few years ago that starred Daniel Day Lewis, is based. The movie covers only a portion of the book, mainly the passage of the 13th Amendment. The book covers Lincoln's early years in politics through his rise to the presidency, with emphasis on his cabinet (the team of rivals) and much detail about the Civil War.

I will say this was a book outside the norm for me and I have a modest amount of pride for having finished it. I get distracted at times when reading history, and this was no exception. But I stuck with it, and I'm the better for it. My admiration for Abraham Lincoln only grew stronger. The man was a political genius (as the subtitle to the book suggests) and, while I always knew what a great orator he was, I never realized what an exemplary diplomat he also was. This book left me wanting more.

I realize I am leaving out tons of details but my intention here is not to give a summary, or even a review, but to share how much I enjoyed this book and to suggest that, if you're in the mood for history and/or have the desire to stretch yourself a bit, this is one you might want to try. (Or maybe, for you, it wouldn't even be a stretch).

As for "Wait Till Next Year," I'm glad I finally got to it on the list. This is a memoir by Kearns Goodwin about her growing-up years and her love for baseball, particularly the Brooklyn Dodgers and the special bond she and her dad shared through the team.

I loved this book and as a baseball fan, it was a natural for me. But even if you're not, you might well enjoy this endearing narrative. Her writing is pure and fluid and she tells a great story.

I have a feeling the other books by Doris Kearns Goodwin will be going on my TBR. Thanks Sage!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018


Ever since the horrible shooting in Florida, the debate over guns and gun laws has escalated.

This happens every time one of these unspeakable events happen, but this time it seems to have reached a new level.

By its very nature, it's an emotional issue. Unfortunately, when emotions get high, people sometimes say things that aren't very smart. That has also happened and it has come from both sides.

The fact is nobody has all the answers. I believe bad people are going to do bad things, no matter how we might try to restrict them from doing so. You simply cannot legislate away shooting, bombing and terrorizing.

With that said, I have to believe there are ways to tighten up gun laws a bit while not interfering with anyone's Second Amendment rights. Surely we can make it a little more difficult for guns to get into the hands of the people who misuse them.

I am not a gun owner, nor do I have any interest in shooting guns, but I have absolutely no desire to keep someone from owning one or shooting one if that is his/her wish. When Older Son was in his  first year of college and wanted a gun, I bought one for him for Christmas. I believed he was responsible enough to own one and would be safe and exercise common sense. He now owns two, having bought the next one himself.

Maybe I'm unrealistic about all of this, but I think if there is to be any headway to be made in the gun debate, people are going to have to listen to each other. If you are "pro-gun," are you willing to listen to reason about gun laws that are a little more restrictive than they are now?

I you are "anti-gun," are you also willing to listen to reason and at least to the possibility that responsible armed citizens -- and yes, even teachers -- level the playing field a bit and protect the innocent?

And if you are in either one of these camps, would you be willing to quit pointing fingers and placing blame on the parties you don't like -- whether it's President Trump, the press or the NRA?

A civil conversation is called for. I hope it will happen.