Wednesday, February 23, 2011

We Were Warned

   ...50 years ago:

   World War II took America out of The Great Depression.

   The War On Terror has sucked us right back in.

   The game has changed.

   Why can't we learn as fast as we progress?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The New USDA Dietary Guidelines

   Denise Minger wrote this great article about the flaws in the new USDA dietary guidelines. It's up on her blog, Raw Food SOS.

   She comes to this conclusion:

"Although some of the new USDA guidelines are just watered-down common sense ('be more active, eat less junk food'), a few of the recommendations are downright harmful: the idea that polyunsaturated fats are universally healthy, the perpetuated fear of saturated fat, the encouragement of low-fat dairy, and the notion that everyone needs a carb-heavy, grain-based diet to thrive. Unfortunately, the 2010 recommendations parrot the same misinformation that’s been keeping Americans fat and sick for so long—all stemming from a flawed understanding of cholesterol and disease, as well as decades of research biased to please the gods of Conventional Wisdom.

Bottom line: These guidelines will guide you alright—straight to your spot in the pharmacy line. Look elsewhere for advice if you’re serious about your health."

   I highly recommend checking out this very informative article!

I Hate Credit Cards

   We've been making good progress on our primary resolution to pay down our debt. Both the wife and I have been stashing money whenever possible and paying as much as we can on the highest-interest debt first. I mentioned in This Time Of Year, we already paid the two credit cards with the highest interest (and lowest balances) and we are now attacking an account with a more significant balance.

   This past week we received a generous offer in the mail from said institution. The letter stated that they were introducing "a new way to get out of debt faster!" They offered us a $100 credit to "help you reduce your balance." All we have to do is get online, enter our personal invitation code, and sign up for the offer.

   Of course we checked it out. Effectively, the offer is this: if we agree to their terms we get a $100 credit in six months. What it appears they have done is divide our balance by six and round down, coming up with a monthly payment that will not quite pay off the balance at the end of six months. All we have to do is stop paying so much on the account and drag it out longer to get the $100 credit. In the meantime they make hundreds of dollars in interest and the card would still not be paid off, but this is a "faster way".

   In reading the FAQ for this program, there are all kinds of caveats to the offer. Any use of the account including automated transactions nullify the offer. All fees and charges associated with the account will still be charged. Basically, it's a deal formulated to look good to anyone who wants to pay off the card but is not good with financial math or details and get more money from them.

   I declined the offered and when asked why, I said this:

"Having recently made significant progress toward paying off this debt, this offer seems like a thinly veiled attempt to stretch the balance out and collect more interest. That interest will come to more than the $100 credit after six months.
I intend to be done doing business with [card name] much sooner than six months.
Thanks though."

   I hate credit cards.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Genetically engineered alfalfa isn't necessary

Genetically engineered alfalfa isn't necessary

By Barbara Damrosch
Thursday, February 17, 2011

Alfalfa's roots go deep in the soil and deep in history. Prized by the ancient Persians, this high-protein "Queen of Forages" is still treasured. It is the fourth-largest crop grown in the United States, primarily for feeding cattle. And it is the latest one to fall to the Empire of Monsanto.

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack's recent decision to deregulate the use of Monsanto's Roundup Ready Alfalfa (RRA) has alarmed many in the farming community, and beyond, who expected better from this administration. I suppose the kindest thing you could say about this genetically engineered seed - developed to allow the plant to withstand applications of Roundup herbicide - is that it's unnecessary.

Alfalfa competes well with weeds in a well-managed system. But when RRA is grown, weeds will develop resistance to Roundup, as they have with the other crops that carry the Roundup Ready gene, such as corn, soybeans and cottons (sugar beets are next). This resistance could lead to the introduction of yet more powerful transgenic remedies that, in turn, would fail.

Polling has shown that most Americans dislike the idea of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) being introduced into the food supply, which is why the agricultural lobby blocks the labeling of products containing them. And no one fears the galloping GMO trend more than farmers - organic or otherwise - who bank on selling GMO-free alfalfa hay, or meat from animals not tainted by eating RRA.

Many farmers now grow or source seed abroad to avoid cross-pollination from Monsanto crops. In seed production, alfalfa is pollinated by far-ranging bees, which makes it especially vulnerable to such biological trespass.

It is possible that, in time, forces will prevail that are not motivated by profit, and will rethink the whole GMO approach to food. It may become clear that none of it works very well, that it presents more problems than it purports to solve, and that agricultural science might be put to better use.

But here's the main point about GMOs: You can't recall them the way you can a car or a plastic toy. They're out there for good. And no one knows what their full impact will be.

I recently came across a little book called "DDT - Killer of Killers," written in 1946 by two chemical engineering professors named O.T. Zimmerman and Irvin Lavine. It's easy to poke fun at the pictures of housewives spraying DDT all over their kitchens, and at the authors' giddy assurances of that poison's worth, lacking any knowledge of its unintended consequences.

We'd like to think we've learned how to correct such mistakes, and we have. Faced with pollution, we've cleaned up much of America's air and water. But a new kind of pollution is being forced on us with no widespread agreement on its efficacy or consensus on its safety. Twenty years ago it wasn't there; now it affects the majority of food produced in this country, without our consent. We've said "No," but is anybody listening?


Is This The Moment?

   There are moments when I wonder if I am ready for what is to come. When the fall leaves need to be raked I wonder if I have enough firewood for the winter. When I can no longer get local, fresh produce I hope that I have canned enough to last until next season. When the power goes out I hope I have stocked enough lamp oil and generator fuel to keep the family at ease and the freezer cold. When spring comes I wonder if I have planted enough of this and enough of that and I wonder if mother nature will cooperate. All of these concerns include variables over which I have no control.

   Mostly I wonder if I am going to have enough money coming in to pay the bills. Because, despite the fact that my family and I are responsible for our own basic needs, money seems to always be an issue. Welcome to the modern world.

   I have just learned that my present employment will change in the next couple months. This has been on the wind. I am now faced with the prospect of taking yet another pay cut or looking for work elsewhere and relocating my family once more.

   In the words of Alan Rickman in The January Man, "I hate that I need money."

   Curse you Alexander Hamilton!

   I have worked and studied in this field for more than 20 years. I've been a professional in my current line of work for a decade. I took a pay cut to move my family back to the NW in 2008. I took another pay cut a year ago because the economy was bad.

   Now the Wal-Mart model moves in and wants to cut costs more.

   I live pretty simply. What, exactly, is the intended outcome of all of this?

   We are taking another step back. As has always been true, this is the consequence of decisions made many years prior. We are currently reaping the consequences of bad decisions made 5, 10, 20, 25, 30, 40, and 55 years ago. 

   Sometime in the not-too-distant future (I hope), We The People will re-engage our leaders and begin to lead us all out of this obsolete complacency.

   In the meantime, I have some decisions to make.

   Perhaps we all do.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


   I've been absent for a few days. I apologize. I'm chalking most of it to drama and chaos at work, which tends to lead to political drama with which I do not often deal well. Between stuff going on at work, working more nights, and a dash of Seasonal Affective Disorder, I began staying up and sleeping in later until my sleep schedule was completely of kilter. It wasn't long before I was sleeping too late to maintain a decent diet. I had allowed myself to spiral into a depression in which I was neglecting the well being of myself and those around me.

   I can't deny that the prospect of having recently turned forty might play a part, though I can honestly say there are a number of factors I can more immediately identify. Turning forty was kind of like driving through Barstow, California in late August -- there was nothing wrong with Barstow, it was everything else in the desert in late August that made the experience miserable. No, this was really a perfect storm of situations for which I was not prepared. I have to give a lot of credit and appreciation to my family for their love, understanding, and support. I am in debt.

   The past two days were spent trying to manipulate my sleep schedule back to something reasonable, trying to eat better (i.e. eat anything at all), and and trying to get things caught up around the house. Nothing is completely back on track just yet, but I am optimistic about where I am now going into the next week.

   Among other things, we had a wind and rain storm that ripped up the cover I recently replaced over the chicken pen. The wife and I came up with a new idea that involved holding the plastic covering down with the extra netting we had left over from the chicken infirmary. In theory, the netting will help prevent the next wind storm from whipping the plastic around and tearing it up so much. We'll see.

   I did get a couple of other things done I feel pretty good about, including making significant progress toward completing this year's federal tax return (always a daunting task), dealing with a new collections report, and fixing a couple other minor things around the house.

   The family is healthy and happy and so are the chickens. My big goal for tomorrow is to make enough salad to last a few days to help get back to a balanced diet.

   Wish me luck.



Thursday, February 10, 2011

Mind Terrorist

Last night I played a private party booked by a sorority. I was one of two piano players.

It was two hours of high-energy dance music -- anything we could put to a drum machine beat or get them to sing with (thankfully the eighties are popular right now).

At the end of the night a handful of the girls wanted to get pictures with the piano players. One girl said, "Take a picture with me and the DJs!"

I turned to my fellow piano partner and said, "Wouldn't that be PJs? As in 'Piano Jockeys'?"

He nodded, but the girl insisted, "No, it's DJs. That what it was in my mind."

When I pointed out that there were no discs involved and asked how impressive it was that we pulled off almost two hours of contemporary music, she told me that, in her mind, we were spinning discs.

Then she looked at me and called me a "Mind Terrorist".

I must assume this was a compliment. That we were able to actually able to play instruments and sing without a game console or turntables was just too much for this young lady to wrap her head around.

Has playing a musical instrument become so outdated? I watched the halftime show at the Super Bowl this year and there was only one instrument in the entire show -- for almost two of the twelve minutes an eighties icon played a song from 1986 on the guitar.

I can only wonder how long it will be before it becomes socially odd to unplug and leave the house at all? These twisted people just might find each other and form communities.

We'll have to amend the Patriot Act to deal with these Mind Terrorists.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Dear Mr. President

   The White House just posted this on facebook:

   "Advise the Advisor is a new program to help senior staff at the White House stay connected to the American people. Think of this as your direct line to the senior staff at the White House. Visit to give us your advice, feedback and opinions about key issues."

   Here is my message to the senior staff:

I feel the approval of GMO alfalfa and beets has the potential of destroying the organic farming community and contaminating the food supply irrevocably.

It seems obvious at this point that this administration is more interested in big business than in the average American.

In 2008 I voted for change, hoping that corporations like Monsanto and DuPont might be kicked out of the food industry. Instead I feel that I was sold out.

First Alfalfa, Now Beets

   As if this bit of bad news was not enough:

   "Experts: Contamination from GM alfalfa certain

Contamination of organic and traditional crops by recently deregulated, genetically modified alfalfa is inevitable, agriculture experts said, despite Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack's recent assurances the federal government would take steps to prevent such a problem.

Associated Press Writer

Contamination of organic and traditional crops by recently deregulated, genetically modified alfalfa is inevitable, agriculture experts said, despite Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack's recent assurances the federal government would take steps to prevent such a problem.
"Opponents, many of them organic farmers, say widespread planting of genetically modified alfalfa will result in pollen from those plants contaminating organic and traditional crops, destroying their value. While alfalfa is mostly used as hay for cattle, some consumers don't want to eat foods, such as milk or beef, from animals that have consumed genetically modified plants.
"In announcing the agency's decision, Vilsack said steps would be taken to ensure genetically modified alfalfa wouldn't cross-pollinate with organic and unmodified crops. USDA officials declined to answer questions about what those steps would entail, pointing to a document posted on the agency's website.

The text of Vilsack's announcement says the agency plans include expanding a program in Washington state to produce more unmodified alfalfa seed and maintain a pure supply.

It also says crop geneticists have been told to identify ways to protect unmodified alfalfa from genetically engineered varieties, like they are doing for corn. And, Vilsack has proposed research to improve detection of modified genes in alfalfa and hay. He also promised $1 million for research on the flow of pollen to better determine how big buffer zones between modified and unmodified fields must be to prevent contamination.

None of that will be enough to prevent contamination, said Jeff Wolt, an agronomist with Iowa State University's Seed Science Center.

'Some degree of cross-pollination will occur regardless of what mechanism is going to be put in place,' he predicted."


   Then this news comes along:

Friday, the USDA quietly announced deregulation of Monsanto’s GMO sugarbeets

   "The US Department of Agriculture continues its unprecedented give-away to big agriculture monster Monsanto and its Genetically Modified (GMO) seeds. On Friday, while the media was preoccupied with the Superbowl and Egypt’s rioting, the USDA quietly announced it was deregulating Monsanto’s GMO sugar beets – despite a court order.

This move comes just a week after the agency had gone back on its own plan to regulate GMO alfalfa to at least attempt to keep it from contaminating organic farms. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack had been floating a plan to limit the area where the GMO crop could be planted, but caved to a storm of pressure from industry, Congressional Republicans (and Monsanto pals like Montana Democrat Max Baucus), and the Obama White House."

   The article includes this timeline:

    * 2005 – the USDA allows the planting of GMO sugar beets. As the Wall Street Journal notes, “Until now, the USDA has always allowed the unrestricted planting of a genetically modified crop once it had passed its regulatory review, a process that largely hinges on the narrow question of whether a genetically modified crop could somehow become a plant pest” – not other issues like consumer health or impact on organic farming.

    * 2008 – Various groups sue, stating that the USDA should have studied the environmental impact BEFORE releasing these genes into America’s farms, rather than after.
    * August 2010 – U.S. District Judge Jeffrey S. White rules in favor of the organics groups, saying an Environmental Impact Statement must be conducted and banning planting of GMO sugar beets until the completion – which probably won’t happen before 2012

    * 2010 – Farmers panic – Monsanto has so dominated the market that there aren’t enough non-GMO seeds available for them to buy and plant. They appeal to the USDA.

    * 2010 – In a separate case, Monsanto argues that the USDA should be able to partially de-regulate a GMO crop (in this case, alfalfa) while it conducts its studies, and the judge agrees.

    * 2011 – The USDA appeals Judge White’s ruling, which would have required currently planted seedlings to be plowed under – hearing set for February 15.

    * 2011 – The USDA, in compliance with the second ruling (but not the first) says “go ahead and plant the Monsanto seeds – with a few restrictions”. (And how will that fly next week in the appeal hearing?)

    * 2011 – The environmental groups, including Earth Justice and the Center for Food Safety say they’ll return to court to block this ruling, which after all, is technically in contempt of court. But with the alfalfa ruling allowing partial de-regulation, Judge White’s hands may be tied.


   Monsanto's friends in Washington seem to be busy. It won't be long before organic is meaningless and even buying local will be a crap shoot. Even your own home garden might have the potential of being cross-pollinated over the next few years.

   Thank you to the corporate lobby and the geniuses in Washington who could not be more far removed from the source! Thank you for selling out our food and farmland!

GMOs In Kenya

Whenever I walk through Costco I wonder, "What is the issue with feeding the world exactly?"

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Nothing Super at all about Big Ben Roethlisberger

Remember a couple hundred years ago when our ancestors stood up against the tyranny of people who thought they could get away with just about anything because they held some high position?

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

"Sitting down to today’s Super-Sunday chili thus presents a parenting challenge. How does the family root for the Steelers when they’re led by a nauseating guy accused of rape twice in once year?

Do parents just hope the kids don’t know?

The family can instead root for the Packers. Green Bay’s Brad Jones, Clay Matthews, Josh Sitton, Khalil Jones, Korey Hall, Matt Flynn and Brandon Underwood were all questioned last summer after two women called police and accused players of holding them down while multiple players sexually attacked them. The women later gave different versions of their story and all but Underwood were cleared."

Nothing Super at all about Big Ben Roethlisberger

Chicken Little: Update II

   The continuing saga...

   Little has been returned to the flock. She spent most of the first day back trying to get out of the pen, but seemed to settle down after one night (I would love to let them free range, but I'm afraid they would not survive long with the local predators and limited space we have). The other hens still pick on her, but the wound on her back appears to be healing. She's still laying regularly, so that's a good sign.

   We'll have to keep an eye on her, but for the moment all seems well in the coop.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Kids Play With Gun

   This was in the local news today.

"EDMONDS, Wash. -- Four young children literally dodged a bullet after they repeatedly tried to fire what they thought was a cap gun.

But it turned out, it was a .22 caliber Derringer handgun. And not only was it a real gun, but it was cocked, and loaded with live ammunition."

   The article goes on to say...

"No one knows that better than Kara Green. Her 7-year--old found the gun under hedges on Saturday in their Edmonds neighborhood. Her son and his 12-year-old brother and two other neighbor boys played with it for two hours at a neighbor's house."

   First off, let me say how thankful I am that this story did not end in tragedy. I cannot express how elated I am that these four boys are all okay.

   That said, here is a real life example of one issue I have with the gun control crowd. Not liking something or even getting it banned does not make it go away. Do you teach your kids about illegal drugs? Why? They're illegal so we don't have to worry about them, right? Nope. Turns out that a lot of things we've declared illegal are still around. But I digress...

   Today in America, guns are legal. We even have an old amendment in the Bill of Rights about it. So, whether we like it or not, shouldn't we be aware enough to be informed on the subject? I am astonished that among four boys (presumably) between the ages of 7 and 12, not one of them knew what to do upon finding a gun and, more than that, assumed it was a toy and played with it for two hours.

   The primary rules of firearms vary, but they are essentially the same (I like Coopers):

1. Always assume the gun is loaded
2. Never point the gun at anything you do not want to destroy
3. Do not put your finger on the trigger unto you have your target and are ready to fire
4. Be sure of your target and what is beyond it

   Before my son was let loose to play unsupervised he understood these rules as well as mom and dad's rule: if you find a gun you leave it alone and tell an adult immediately. (What if it's a toy? Let the adult make sure. Of course he asked that question.)

   Now, if this story gets any traction it will be spun into rhetoric about banning small guns because they look too much like toys and/or banning toy guns because it's all just too confusing.

   Why are we so afraid to admit that it can be a dangerous world and we need to be aware?

   If we banned guns the day after that Derringer had been dropped in a hedge and successfully collected all firearms from their owners and had them destroyed, those boys still would have found that gun. Is it likely that there might be one or two other guns unaccounted for out there? (Before you get too worked up about this idea, please review the statistics.)

   Perhaps it might be better if we acknowledge that there are things in this world of which we need to be aware and educate ourselves and children accordingly? 

   I am suddenly reminded of the film, The Time Machine.

   I fear there is a cultural ideal that we can live in an Eloi Utopia.

Bill Maher's Analogy

   I'm not really a sports person,  but I got a kick out of this...

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Organics Supporting GMOs or No?

Last week the news hit that Obama and Vilsack were giving the green light to Monsanto's genetically modified alfalfa which will in turn be used for cattle feed. That means the beef and dairy industries will have a difficult time keeping their products organic.

Some articles said, "A self-appointed cabal of the Organic Elite, spearheaded by Whole Foods Market, Organic Valley, and Stonyfield Farm, has decided it's time to surrender to Monsanto."

There was even a quote from Whole Foods: "The policy set for GE alfalfa will most likely guide policies for other GE crops as well. True coexistence is a must." (Whole Foods Market, Jan. 21, 2011)

Now Organic Valley has released a statement that includes this: "We stand united in opposition to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) decision to once again allow unlimited, nationwide commercial planting of Monsanto's genetically engineered (GE) Roundup Ready alfalfa, despite the many risks to organic and conventional farmers."

Either Organic Valley is playing both sides of this issue or someone is flat out lying.

Regardless, with all of the opposition to GMOs, why would Obama and Vilsack agree to let Monsanto do this? Understand, once the genetically modified alfalfa is out, it's going to be next to impossible to put the genie back in that bottle. Monsanto is an agribusiness giant and I'm guessing that they just have a lot of money to get this passed.

What a sad state of affairs that our government will bow to corporations despite the will of the people.

This is absolutely contrary to what the Founding Fathers had in mind.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Why You Should Care About Genetically Modified Alfalfa - The Atlantic

Why You Should Care About Genetically Modified Alfalfa - The Atlantic

1. Less organic forage crops. Why would any farmer plant organic alfalfa when he knows a farmer nearby is planting GM alfalfa? Not only will his costs be higher in terms of cultivating an organic crop, but the possibility now exists that the crop will not be organic once it's harvested. So why bother?

2. Fewer organic dairy farmers. Organic dairy farmers plant alfalfa in fields where their cows graze, but they may also buy hay for winter. With fewer sources of organic forages, costs for organic dairy farmers will rise. What's the smartest decision here? Reduce your risk by avoiding the organic market altogether. Or maybe buy your organic forage crops from China, as people have been doing with soybeans.

3. Higher prices for organic consumers. If the supply of organic forages falls, the cost will rise. Organic dairy farmers will either be squeezed and go under or organic milk prices will rise. The impact: higher prices at the checkout counter for moms and dads buying organic milk for their kids. (Or maybe we'll see more imports of organic milk powder from nations with stricter GM controls to keep the market going.)

4. Less investment in organic meat. Organic meat has been a fast-growing sector of the market, but why would anyone invest in this business if you could be disqualified by contaminated feed? The rational business decision would be to ignore the U.S. and invest in organic operations outside the U.S.—Uruguay anyone?

5. Fewer conventional export opportunities. The contamination of rice fields by GM test plots in Louisiana led to multimillion dollar law suits. Why? Conventional rice farmers lost markets in countries that didn't want to import GM rice. The same could be true of forages—that is, unless the U.S. is successful in getting the rest of the world to buy GM crops, as the State Department is hoping.

Why You Should Care About Genetically Modified Alfalfa - The Atlantic

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Chicken Little: Update

   An update from the chicken infirmary, Dumpling and Little seemed to have weathered the night separated from the rest of the flock just fine. When we checked on them this morning they had knocked their food and water over, Little had already laid an egg on the ground, and both were happy to see us.

   We moved Dumpling back with the rest of the flock and Little didn't appear to mind being on her own now. The wound on her back looked to be healing well beyond what we expected, so we hope to have her moved back in with the other hens in a few days.

   I let her out this afternoon to free range in the yard while I took care of some chores. That seemed to make her happy.

   Like I said, she's spoiled.


   The documentary Tapped is available for streaming on Netflix and on Hulu.

   If you believe bottled water is not a major problem or that you can trust the FDA, you should check out the information in this short film. 

What Really Kills Us?

Let's start by saying: I am not a gun nut. I'm not really a big fan. I kind of feel the same way about guns as I do about computers -- a necessary evil. So I learn what I need to know about both to be able use them when the need arises. When it comes to guns, I like to hunt; I prefer to bow hunt. I like to protect my family; I'd prefer diplomacy. I enjoy being a free American; I'd hate to be defenseless if someone decided we needed to be rounded up.

I bring this up because there are a lot of well-meaning people who don't like guns. I understand, I'm not a big fan myself. When these well-intentioned folk stand up and say we need to get rid of the guns, though, I have to ask why?

Beyond all the rhetoric there are some fascinating statistics. I know, I know... statistics are a cold place to go when talking about things like death, but bear with me a few moments because I promise, it warrants consideration.

The first thing I would point out is motor vehicles versus firearms. Wikipedia has some charts on both that show that motor vehicles kill about 2-3 times as many people as guns. If you look at Wikipedia's page on gun violence in the U.S. it gets more complicated. Regardless, no matter how you crunch the numbers, more people die on the road than by a gun. I don't hear a lot of people calling for tighter automobile control. It's a lot easier to get a driver's license than a gun or a carry permit.

Okay, I'm just trying to point out that we don't think twice about putting any 16-year-old kid on the road with a couple of tons of metal capable of moving at 100 miles per hour, but there is a great debate about guns which appear to be less of an issue when it comes to death and injury.

Just sayin'...

The real issue comes from the CDC, which says the top ten causes of death are:

* Heart disease: 616,067
* Cancer: 562,875
* Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 135,952
* Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 127,924
* Accidents (unintentional injuries): 123,706
* Alzheimer's disease: 74,632
* Diabetes: 71,382
* Influenza and Pneumonia: 52,717
* Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 46,448
* Septicemia: 34,828

Each individual entry here kills more people than guns. Heart disease and cancer kill somewhere around one hundred times the total gun-related deaths in the U.S. How about we keep the guns for now and start asking some judges what the U.S. Constitution says about fast food, factory farms, and the USDA and FDA's right to poison it's population?

Granted, it gets even more complex as you look at it. If you read the entire report by the CDC, it becomes very clear that these are not simple statistics. In the end, though, guns kill very few people compared to health issues that we have the ability to change.

So here's my question: is it really the guns we need to focus on at this moment in history? I understand that it's a hot topic and that each and every life is worth saving. Still, if we buy the rhetoric and focus on guns over any number of issues that are actually killing more Americans every day, aren't we saying that the 100+ people that die from health issues are less important than each gun-related death?