Divisive Devices

My new iPhone.

Recently, my iPhone began to act erratically. New iterations of its operating system had rolled out. But the device could not effectively process the changes. Family and friends blared the horns of their newer models as they passed me on the digital expressway. The time had come to upgrade.

I visited the store of our cell plan’s carrier. My wife and I, both of our sons, and daughter-in-law share a family package deal. I learned that only three of those five can act as administrators of changes to the contract. In order to upgrade my phone, I had to show identification and have an administrator physically appear at the office and approve my decision. Furthermore, I needed to contact the primary administrator, my daughter-in-law, and obtain the last four digits of her social security number AND her account password.

Well and good: I called my wife (an administrator) and she appeared to ok the upgrade. Then I called the daughter-in-law and got her secret numbers. I picked out a phone. The tech got my password and moved data from the old to the new.

Yes, it’s a bit of an arduous process. From entrance to exit, it took over an hour. Nonetheless, given the topical hullabaloo surrounding personal data breaches, I left the store reassured.

An AR-15.

I am recounting all of this to illustrate a shameful irony of contemporary American culture. In less time and without oversight, anyone 18 years and up, can purchase an assault weapon from a licensed gun dealer. An assault weapon precisely like the one used to kill fourteen high school students and three faculty in Parkland, FL on Valentine’s Day of this year.

I have touched on the issue of gun control in years past. Assault weapons are also devices, tools, if you will. They are designed to kill people, and to kill them fast. The proliferation of massacres just in the last five years prove how good they are at what they do. Assault weapons should, in a sane society, be banned. 

My wife took this photo at the Portland, OR “March For Our Lives.”

Following the slaughter in Florida, parents raged, marches ensued, and students across the country mobilized to demand common sense solutions to the violence.

Some legislators hailed the protester’s courage. Yet, in doing so, they unwittingly highlighted a faintness of heart. Their history indicates failure to confront the stranglehold of the NRA on American politics. Others avoided taking a position, cloaking themselves, once again, in the cynical lament of “thoughts and prayers.” This, too, is a device, a rhetorical one. It attempts to disguise their complicity as compassion. Finally, the White House also refused to lead on this issue. Instead, our president spoke in support of the demented proposal to arm teachers

The inertia on an assault weapon ban is unforgivable. The ability to couch this argument in diversionary political mumbo jumbo delays action from one tragedy to the next. The basic tactic is to stall any decision about change and wait out the news cycle.

I don’t know what the solution is. The ballot box? Perhaps. A charismatic leader? Maybe. More and greater massacres? Let’s hope not. Can young men and women still in school lead the way? I’d like to believe that. But already, much of the tumult surrounding the Parkland massacre has subsided. Marches came and went. Grief was processed. And, still, no legislative initiatives.

Let’s face it. American democracy is as dysfunctional as my outdated iPhone. Its operating system needs an upgrade. Currently, money buys policy. The wealthy wield power without concern for the common good. Inequality infects our society like a computer virus. Gun control, climate change, you name it: we seem content to kick these cans down the road. We hope the problems will go away. But they won’t.


Latest numbers are posted in The Drill.

9 thoughts on “Divisive Devices

  1. The other day I read of efforts to create smaller nuclear weapons.

    How does this relate to gun control? Many people who oppose gun control hide behind the 2nd amendment. My thought was a hypothetical: Suppose nuclear bombs could be made as small as bullets. Unlikely, but it is a way to imagine an extreme increase in the destructive power of bullets. Would people be arguing against all forms of gun control then?

    Having answered that question, I would then propose that the guns now in use are nothing like the arms that were meant by the original authors of the second amendment.

    Of course your arguments are more to the point. They are not hypothetical ideas: We see supporting evidence in the news everyday. Mine is just another thought to add to the justification for change.

    Thanks for your posts.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. When I moved back in January, I was introduced to the bizarre process of getting phone service in America. I wanted to get a flip phone with pay as you go. I was treated like a simple-minded idiot at the AT&T store. They kept trying to push a smart phone on me. The blank look I got when I stated that it wasn’t because of complexity or price, it was simply because I didn’t want a smart phone, was bone-chilling. I finally stalked out and went to (gasp) Walmart and found what I needed right away.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Bernard. As you can see from the chart, my M-spike has remained between 1.5 and 2.5 for nearly three years. Without other symptoms, I find the current regimen tolerable. Very few side effects with Dara/Velcade. Neuropathy, fatigue, and lately, hip pain have increased. So, we are considering other therapies. MRI coming later this month to help assess the way forward. I adhere to the “less is more” idea but that is a byproduct of how well I respond to everything that we’ve tried. I know it won’t last forever, but for the time being my QOL is better than most. I seem to “take it in stride” as you suggest. I experience little or no anxiety. Thank you for asking.


  3. What Bernard said. I’ve stopped arguing, for the moment, at least. What solution may exist lies in what the #neveragain suggests: Vote out politicians that have been bought by the NRA.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Excellent insights about an insane problem. I believe the young folks’ voices and the memory of their march will affect the next elections. I have hope for change.


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