Why We Should Be Worried About People like Brock Turner

**WARNING: Very GRAPHIC. Could be a potential trigger for victims of rape** NSFW

This is one of the most haunting collections of photographs I’ve ever seen. It is right in your face. There. It happened. It happens every single day.

Photo featured in 2016 “It Happens” campaign.

Someone you know was raped or will be in their lifetime. This is NOT okay. We cannot keep condoning this. Every 2 minutes an American is sexually assaulted. One out of every 6 women in this country have been or will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. It may be random, it may be a family member, it may be your spouse, it may be your best friend, it may be your teammate, it may be your teacher, it may be your boss…anyone can assault anyone—white, black, Asian, Hispanic, gay, straight, young, old, man, or woman. Please talk about this. We have to make the cycle end: #ItHappened #ItHappens #RapeAwareness

Brock Turner is just one of many people that has been raised to believe that human bodies were put on this earth for the taking. And we all are helping create this culture of acceptable, forcible rape. Yes, I am calling everyone out.

Until we change the mindset of America this will continue.

Men:  Females were not put on earth for you to use and abuse. We were put here to be by your side- your equal, hence the whole ‘God made Eve from Adam’s rib’ thing. You’ve got to stop objectifying women in this world. What females decide to wear on their bodies is for them, not for you. When they buy a new pair of heels or a sweet LBD, I promise YOU were not on their mind. Look, I know that in school you kept hearing “boys will be boys” every time you did something stupid so you think you share no responsibility here. And I KNOW that the school dress codes further helped your cause by telling you that when women dressed a certain way it was distracting for you, and they should be punished because of it. Look, I get. We made you this way. So…

Women: Let’s stop talking shit about each other. Let’s stop slut shaming someone for wearing something we personally wouldn’t choose to wear. When we’re at a bar and see a girl surrounded by guys, let’s check on her instead of just saying “OMG, she must be such a hooch.” Women, let’s stop hating ourselves because of what older generations keep telling us. Again, I know, you were conditioned to believe that your body is shameful. The rules of school kept you covered and made you all but too aware of what your body could make a boy do. Yeah, conditioned…

Parents:  Can we please stop the madness now?  Talk to your sons. Let them know that how they treat women is incredibly important. Show love and compassion for your fellow human. Talk to your sons about changing bodies. Yes, they will look at women, but let’s show them that the body is beautifully made and not something put on this earth just for sex. Talk to your daughters, teach them to love themselves. Help them understand that they were wonderfully made. This advice is also vice versa as we know that women can rape too. Lets talk to our children. We have got to stop sexualizing the human figure.

America: Be outraged that someone you know will be raped in their lifetime. It will continue to happen until we change our mindsets. Men like Brock Turner were raised to believe that their impulses mattered more than the other human’s humanity. While most of us can’t comprehend that, we all are allowing it to happen by not being outraged. Brock hasn’t been called a rapist by the courts or by the media, yet that is exactly what he is. And we should be scared that we have people in this world that think like he does and believe what he did was not wrong.  We conditioned him to believe that he can get his jollies no matter what. We’ve conditioned ourselves to believe that if someone is too drunk or dressed a certain way, then they were “asking for sex.” Until we stop allowing our society to sweep this issue under the rug, it will continue. Go to your school boards, and stop allowing them to dictate what is acceptable for our girls to wear. Go to your legislators and make them hold judges accountable for when the few victims that actually come forward to get justice.

It does not matter what someone said before, what they are wearing, how much they’ve had to drink, if they are passed out naked, if they are your spouse, if they are your partner… you do not have the right to violate their body. PERIOD. You do not have the right to touch someone without their expressed permission. So world, I am asking you to be outraged. I am asking you to protect your children by telling them the truth. I am asking you to let your friends know you are there for them. I personally can name on 2 hands people I know that were sexually assaulted in their lives: randomly, by family members, and by friends. My heart aches for them, knowing that we can stop this. Please take a long look in the mirror, and make sure you’re talking about these issues, or we are going to be scared of people like Brock the Rapist for years and lifetimes to come. Stop the cycle. Be a voice for what needs to change. Stop looking the other way. Educate yourselves and those that you love on how to treat other humans.

*If you’ve ever been the victim of a sexual assault, please don’t be ashamed. I am HERE for you. You are NOT at fault. You are NOT to blame. You did NOT ask for it. You did NOT want it. Male or female victims, I am here. I will always be your friend. I will always stand by your side. I will ALWAYS advocate for you. I will be there for you. If you need me, I am HERE.

Follow Tatum on Twitter at @UATatey for more insight on this and other interesting topics.

Debunking daylight savings time myths

Well, it is that time of year again.  Daylight Savings Time (DST) starts this Sunday morning and along with it starts the hysteria of DST myths.

For people who are easily frustrated by nonsensical behaviors, this is a particularly tough time of year.  However, with a little bit of myth-busting, this time of year can be a very refreshing change of pace.  Let’s review the following to see just how little effect DST has on the environment around us.

 “Makes the Days Are Longer”

This is wrong, wrong, and wrong.  In both connotations of the word “days,” this is an incorrect statement.  Firstly, a day is always 24 hours no matter how you slice it.  Secondly, daylight hours in our region flex from minimum of 10 hours at winter solstice to a maximum of 14 hours at summer solstice.  This is dependent on position relative to the North Pole not on whether the clocks are set a certain way.

“Makes Bedtime Shorter”

This has less to do with the time change and more to do with the fact that you just simply more active in the warmer months than the colder months.  For instance, going to the movies is much more popular in the warm months than the colder months.  Going to the movies takes up time that you would normally be at home sleeping.  So blame the movie theater not your clock.

“Makes More Difficult to Wake Up”

Well, if you’re getting less sleep in the summer, then likewise, it will be more difficult to wake up when you need to wake up.

“Makes People Crazy”

Again, people are not sleeping due to lifestyle decisions not the clock.

Those are just a few of the oft quoted wives’ tales that spread like wildfire this time of year.  Hopefully, this list gives you enough info to extinguish that wildfire in your life for good.

Follow Ben on Twitter @Ben_Baxter or AL.com.

Sunrise by Alex Indigo (Flickr)

Vaccines, Lightning, Lottery: What Are the Odds?

The odds of being killed in a tornado in a given year are 1 in 5,693,092.

The odds of being struck by lightning in a given year are 1 in 1,107,143.

The odds of winning the grand prize in the lottery are 1 in 175,223,510.

Thank you Mr. Lottery!

Why am I mentioning this? Why is it even relevant? Surely almost all of you have been through a tornado and survived, right? Surely every single one of you reading this has seen lightning and are still alive, right? And I am going out on a limb here, but almost certainly none of you reading this has ever won the grand prize of the lottery, correct?

I am bringing these statistics up for one simple reason: vaccines.

Yes, the scary and extremely controversial subject that somehow science doesn’t understand yet we are still pumping our kids full of them. Well, why don’t we look at some data?

Per: National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) Adjudication Categories by Vaccine for Claims Filed Calendar Year 2006 to Present.

Vaccine Alleged by Petitioner

No. of Doses Distributed US CY 2006 – CY 2013 (Source: CDC)

Compensable

Compensable Total

Dismissed/ Non-Compensable Total

Grand Total

Concession

Court Decision

Settlement

DT

652,327

1

3

4

4

8

DTaP

75,888,233

10

17

71

98

72

170

DTaP-Hep B-IPV

43,929,797

4

6

18

28

38

66

DTaP-HIB

1,135,474

0

1

1

DTaP-IPV-HIB

39,590,896

5

5

11

16

DTP

04

1

2

3

2

5

DTP-HIB

04

0

1

1

Hep A-Hep B

11,662,755

8

8

1

9

Hep B-HIB

4,796,583

1

1

1

3

1

4

Hepatitis A (Hep A)

124,212,280

2

4

20

26

18

44

Hepatitis B (Hep B)

129,820,136

2

10

35

47

34

81

HIB

83,517,849

1

4

5

4

9

HPV

67,250,524

10

62

71

80

151

Influenza5

944,000,000

36

67

728

831

165

996

IPV

58,019,052

4

4

2

6

Measles

135,660

1

1

1

Meningococcal

58,412,363

1

1

22

24

3

27

MMR

73,441,556

15

13

52

80

69

149

MMR-Varicella

11,028,270

8

7

15

8

23

Nonqualified6

N/A

0

21

21

OPV

0

1

1

3

4

Vaccine Alleged by Petitioner

No. of Doses Distributed US CY 2006 – CY 2013 (Source: CDC)

Compensable

Compensable Total

Dismissed/ Non-Compensable Total

Grand Total

Concession

Court Decision

Settlement

Pneumococcal Conjugate

132,932,107

1

5

6

13

19

Rotavirus

70,719,103

1

3

15

19

6

25

Rubella

422,548

1

1

1

Td

55,742,830

4

5

49

58

15

73

Tdap

155,106,848

11

6

74

91

11

102

TETANUS

3,836,052

3

17

20

10

30

Unspecified7

N/A

1

2

3

541

544

Varicella

90,425,492

3

5

20

28

10

38

Grand Total

2,236,678,735

114

142

1,225

1,480

1,144

2,624

Guys, this is it. This is all of the actual cases taken to court that has found vaccines accountable for an injury. All of them.

I honestly don’t want to hear,”What about the shots that the parents never took the kids to trial over!” That is a terrible argument. If your kid were “vaccine injured” and “regressed to autism,” would you not seek out legal help? There are ambulance chasers plastered over every city that work for free if no money is won, are you telling me they won’t do the same in HUGE money cases like this?

Rant over. What we see here is this: There is a 0.0000013% chance of your kid suffering an injury from a vaccine. You have a 1 in 1,300,000 chance of being injured from vaccines. Sure, you have better chance of being injured by vaccines than winning the lottery and being killed by tornadoes. Lets throw lottery out. Lets look at tornadoes. You are a little less than 5 times more likely to be injured by vaccines than you are to be killed by a tornado. That is not much. Are you fleeing tornado zones in mass exodus? No.

You are MORE likely to be injured in a lightning strike than you are by a vaccine. Do you cry foul and petition to the government to end lightning? No!

The numbers do not lie. They simply do not. If you are against vaccines, you have a 99.9999987% reason to not be. And after that, well, you are simply pleading ignorance.

The Truth about Immigration

Immigrants bring more crime. Wrong. Native-born American men between 18-39 are five times more likely to be incarcerated than immigrants in the same demographic. Numerous reputable studies have shown that the problem of crime in the United States is not caused or even aggravated by immigrants, regardless of their legal status.

Immigrants are taking our jobs. Wrong. CNN reports that immigrants are twice as likely to start businesses as U.S.-born citizens and that immigrants create 28% of all new businesses. Moreover, some immigrants work jobs Americans simply do not want. They are farm workers, janitors, chambermaids, busboys, dishwashers, gardeners, nannies, and household domestics. Those are not the careers most Americans seek. The “good jobs” they do “steal” are just because they’re better in that fieldnot because they’re immigrants (see below).

We need to secure the border first before tackling immigration reform.  Well for starters, the net migration from Mexico has practically fallen to zero. The federal government has spent more money on immigration enforcement ($18 billion) than they have on FBI, Secret Service, Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Marshalls, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives combined ($14.4 million). The government also spends about 15 times more on immigration enforcement than it did in the mid-1980s, adjusted for inflation. There are more than 20,000 border patrol agents stationed along the border now. So the border is quite secure right now. Lastly, roughly 40% of undocumented immigrants enter the US legally and overstay their visas.

America doesn’t want immigrants here. Well, quite the contrary, most Americans don’t want to kick them all out. In a Fox News Poll, it showed that 74% of the people they polled were in favor of allowing the 11 million illegal immigrant currently in the country to remain in the country and eventually years down the road qualify for U.S. citizenship, as long as they meet certain requirements like paying back taxes, learning English, and passing a background check.

Obama is giving the country to the illegal immigrants. This could be challenged. The Obama Administration has deported as many illegal immigrants in one term as the Bush Administration did in two. In fact, Obama is on track to deport more people than the US did from 1892-1997. As stated earlier, the Obama Administration has put many resources in stopping illegals.

Illegal aliens don’t contribute to the U.S. economy and they don’t pay taxes. I’m pretty sure everybody in this country pays taxes when they purchase anything. Most undocumented immigrants live in Texas and Florida. Neither state has a state income tax. When it comes to federal income tax—well, I believe we should be more concerned about the $305 billion revenue lost due to tax evasion for current US citizens.

Immigrants don’t contribute anything to the country. Currently, one in six college-educated adults in the US was born abroad. There are roughly 35 million immigrants ages 25 and older in America. Of those, 28% had a bachelor’s degree or higher (compared to 29% of American adults 25 and older). Immigrants represent nearly 28% of physicians, more than 31% of computer programmers, and over 47% of medical scientists.

The Truth. We need immigration reform YESTERDAY! This country was founded upon immigration. Keep the American vision alive by demanding that we become the Land of Opportunity again!

Why I Choose to Carry A Firearm

I know what some people immediately jump to when they hear about a white male that owns firearms: Uneducated, homophobic, misogynistic, white trash, racist—there is a certain stereotype to owning firearms.  This is far from the truth.  I start at The University of Alabama for Mechanical Engineering soon and also served in the U.S. Navy as an engineer.  I worked with guys I knew were gay, but it didn’t matter because it doesn’t affect me.  In fact, two friends and I stopped a couple of disputes one night at our barracks and were commended by the Honolulu police department for doing the right thing.  Most people in the Navy didn’t even know I was from the south on my ship, and I worked with every race.  I met good friends that I still keep in touch with: some in other countries now.  Of course there are always bad apples, just like there is always evil in the world. We see it every day in the media, or we know someone that’s affected by evil. I’ve had 2 incidents in life where I needed a firearm to protect me from evil, and I chose from then on to carry a firearm.

Shooting and hunting with guns and bows has been a big family affair most of my life. All 3 uncles and my grandfather on my mom’s side hunted.  For one uncle, it is a religion—he’s out every day during the season and has it down to a science. He collects pictures from game cameras, plants food plots, sets up hunting stands, and scouts potential areas during the off season to better improve his take when the season does comes around.  To most hunters that’s a big part of hunting because you’re hunting well before you pull the trigger—that’s part of fun.  My dad hunted years ago, but doesn’t have time now.  Most of his side of the family hunted (typical of people from Maine). So I grew up in a house with deer heads, antlers, and turkey feathers hanging on the wall, but most importantly: firearms.

I was always taught never to play with them because they are not toys but tools. Tools that can be deadly if mishandled or abused. Tools just like a bow and arrow, a knife, a vehicle, a baseball bat, or a 2×4.   It’s ultimately what you do with that tool that defines the person—good or bad. No tool decides one day to take a life—be it human or animal.  There is always a person behind it that made that decision. No tool is evil ether.  So why do people put that stigma on firearms but not a car, baseball bat, or any other object?  Is it because they are only seen as used just for killing?

Usually these people have never heard of any kind shooting sports. The National Rifle Association was started to improve rifle proficiency after the Civil War.  It was noted that during the Civil War, the Union troops fired 1,000 shots to every Confederate wounded—that was a severe lack in marksmanship. This ultimately turned it into a sport.   Today there are firearms designed just for competition based on speed and accuracy.

Being former Navy, I’ve seen firsthand many people who never shot a firearm let alone handled one. In the Navy when we go through boot camp, there is a several week course on handling firearms and safety. We drilled quite often before we even touched a real gun by using inoperable pistols. I caught the guy (a fellow recruit) in charge of the firearms one day muzzle sweeping (pointing at) people and twirling. I proceeded to chew him out because it’s not proper gun safety: even if they couldn’t fire a bullet, who is to say he doesn’t do that with a gun that could?

This all lead up to live fire and most of the guys around my rack had never shot before and were very nervous. I got them to relax and told them it’s not hard.  I told them that I bet after they shot they might want one. We get done with the training, and we go back to the apartment—all the guys who never shot were excited and wanted to do it again.  It was such foreign a concept to see.  I just reminded them why we were in the military, and that we can own things like that if we wanted to. I’m pretty sure I saw a few new/future gun owners that day. I was so happy for them I was not mad that my unit didn’t qualify me as expert shot even though I was one.  But that’s another story for another day.

Several years ago I use to work at a pizza place before I turned 21.  Another worker and I had shut down for the day.  It’s around 10-10:30pm, and I had let another worker go home around 9:30pm. As he walked out the back, I threw a box into the back area for the trash.  As my car was always parked around back,  I thought I’d just throw it away when I left.  I also decided to prop the door open to cool off the back area as I counted the day’s tickets. This was a huge mistake and one thing that still sits with me today about always being aware my personal surroundings.

As I counted the tickets I hear the door open thinking it was the guy I let go just 30 minutes before.  The guy who I think is my friend grabs me.   He always likes to mess around so I thought nothing of it.  He then puts me in a kind of headlock but not brutal choke hold or anything so I tell him to quite messing around.  But at the same time I feel a cold piece of metal in my ear, and I knew exactly what it was—it wasn’t a joke.

Everything doesn’t seem to move in normal time when you’re scared for your life.  I had no idea what this guy wants or what he could and might do. Obviously he wanted money, but what’s he going to do to me? I had already dropped the money in the lock box of the safe which I can’t get into.  There is only 100 bucks in 1 dollar bills and change—would that be enough to tide him over  or is he going to shot me and my coworker regardless? I was promptly asked if anyone else was in the store and was told to take the gunman to the back of the store. He pretty much had the same look of disbelief I had when he stepped into the back. He was grabbed and thrown into the bathroom.  As I now see there are 2 people.  The guy that had me became violent and demanded I open the safe.  He assaults me with the pistol and repeatedly hits me. Safe to say it didn’t get worse than that but I was a bloody mess. I was gnashed on the forehead right on my hairline and had a huge knot on the top of my head but other than that I was fine.

Now I’m not going to say a firearm would have made a difference—the fact is that I didn’t have one and wasn’t aware of my surroundings.  You can best believe I won’t drop my guard like that ever again. Now by the law if I did have a firearm on me, pulled it, shot, and killed him I would have been in the right, clear as black and white no doubt about it.  I was in fear of someone else’s life—in this case, my coworker’s–I can’t read minds to know what gunmen are going to do.  In that instance, it’s his life or my life. I’d rather he couldn’t do this to another person, but people will take my story seriously because everything ended okay or wasn’t that bad or whatever BS line they like to throw out.  What if the next night he did the same thing again but something went wrong and he killed an innocent person? No one has the right to treat another person like that nor do I blame the gun for busting my head open.

What’s the difference between a privilege and a right? A privilege is permission granted by law, a right is something no one can take away. You have a right to eat and to live.   No one can take that away without just cause.  Your privilege would be anything that the government provides like allowing you to drive or allowing children the opportunity to attend school.  Your ability to live, protect, and better yourself isn’t a privilege.  There is a reason it’s called the Bill of Rights not the Bill of Privileges. I always hear the anti-gun side spout that the second amendment is dated and should be changed or amended. Well while we’re at it, free speech is dated, due process is dated, and freedom of the press is dated.

People usually go on the tangent that I hate school children or little kids or something along those lines because I’m for guns. That couldn’t be further from the truth. No lawful gun owner wants to see or hear of children getting killed.  It’s a deranged crazy person infringing on someone’s rights and not the majority of gun owners. Why does that person’s actions dictate what I can’t and can own. I don’t wish to ever have to use my firearm—it’s there as a tool for a situation I can’t contain. A heated argument with someone no, a violent argument where the person threatens me with a knife or some other weapon yes.  A gun is a tool to defuse the situation, and if that doesn’t stop them then lethal force.

A lot of people tend to feel uncomfortable for that reason—that a person with a gun has too much power.  As I was saying in my story of the robbery and assault, I wouldn’t be willing put myself in that position ever again. I’m not paranoid just cautious like a female choosing not to walk down a dark unlit alley—maybe 99.9% of the time nothing happens but why put yourself in that position.  This is also why I advocate females carry too. Anti-gunners tend to think people who own guns want to be vigilantes or it’s go wild west.  Well I’m not Charles Bronson and this isn’t a Clint Eastwood western.  This is real life and in real life some people commit violent crimes. Recent data estimates there are anywhere from 200 million to 300 million legally owned firearms in America (these are only estimates because the government isn’t allowed to know what I own) and the most recent data from the FBI in 2011 shows 8,583 homicides from firearms (legally and illegally obtained). I would think if gun owners were trigger happy that number would be significantly higher.

My second incident came a couple years later right after I turned 21.  I choose to purchase a full sized Magnum Research IMI Baby Eagle .45ACP (not a Desert Eagle but the same company made both firearms and Magnum Research being the distributor for the states wanted to capitalize on the name sake) because I worked 3rd shift at a gas station.  All the freaks come out from 10pm-7am.  I carried at work every night.  Now a paper I signed when I started stated I couldn’t and could be fired for doing so but it’s not against the law.  I legally had a concealed carry permit and confirmed this with the local police. On the plus side my boss was a good friend and I had pushed him into buying guns.   In fact, he taught me how to reload ammo so he didn’t care that I did but the area manager did.

When I was off the clock, I had a bad habit of occasionally carrying it—my second mistake I won’t ever do again. So I had started talking to a female friend who decided to get dinner with me one night, and I meet her at her place and rode in her car to local restaurant. I had decided before I left the house I wasn’t going to carry the pistol tonight out of convenience to me, and so I didn’t have to explain that one to her. We get to the restaurant order our food and the night goes pretty well.   As we are eating, 2 police officers I see on night shift stop in for dinner. I say hello because they come in every night I work, and they sit a few booths away.  So as we are sitting and talking, a random stranger decides to sit down next to my female friend, and I can clearly see she is mortified of him. He starts a conversation with her like I’m not even there, and I interject and ask him who he is and what he wants. He shoots me a glare and tried to intimidate me by saying he was her boyfriend which she shot down pretty quickly.  Turns out, he was her ex, and they broke up some time ago. I can see she is in discomfort and doesn’t want to be near this guy. I kindly ask him to leave. He bows up in a threatening gesture at me. I laugh and point out the 2 police officers sitting only 10-15 feet away from him. He walks off, but he shows up as we are leaving (I also made a comment to the police officers about his behavior).  I tell her let’s just leave thinking this is the end of this.  How wrong I was? We get back to her place and talk for a little while.  She apologizes for the incident and this guy shows up at her house with 3 of his friends yelling for her to come out and something about me. Well her father runs them off and asks me to leave.  I comply but I’m not the bad guy here.  So I leave for my house unknown to me, the lowlife had parked several streets down and saw me leave. He commenced to chase me in his car.  I like to modify cars so he wasn’t getting near my car—I probable had 3 times the horsepower and torque he did and my car was 1000 pounds lighter. So on comes another of those “what do I do?” moments in life.

I can’t stop because there are 4 guys in that car.  I have no idea what is going across their minds—maybe not murder but assault more than likely. Again I have the right to protect myself and trust me I was mad I didn’t bring the pistol. So I do the only logical thing and call the police.  I explain what’s going on and that I was stopping at my work and going inside.  Lucky for me my work wasn’t far from her house—maybe a couple of miles away. I stop and tell the other nightshift guy at the time what was going on and that I was waiting on the police. I had another lucky break as the 2 police officers who were eating earlier where the ones who got the call so they kind of knew the story. I fill them in on what happened after we left.  They ask me a few questions like his name and all.   I didn’t know, and they can tell I’m flustered, and I say out loud those guys were lucky I wasn’t carrying tonight. One of the police officers heard this and tried to lecture me like I was 10 years old.   I shot back that being chased by 4 guys in the situation gives me the right to protect myself. Now I have a close family friend who was a well-known police officer in town and avid gun owner.  He had a brutal run in with some robbers when he was carrying, and it’s the reason he was hired as a police officer.  I told him the story care to guess what he had to say: I would have been in the right. Again I’m not going to say a firearm would have made the situation better or worse but what would have happened if they showed up before the police officers got there, beat me half to death, and send me to the hospital? They were willing to go as far as they did, why not lethally far?

I don’t want to have to use any of my firearms ever, but it’s there if I do. It’s something you really have to think about if you decide to carry.  No one can make that choice for you but you.  If you want my opinion though why would you want to wound someone who wants to kill you or cause you harm?  Also, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. The whole time I’ve been writing this article I’ve had one of my guns on me the whole time.  Care to guess what it did? Nothing.  It sat in the holster unassumingly ready if I needed it. My other gun sat in my room in its holster all day, and I’m absolutely positive it didn’t shot anyone either.

I’ve also had to explain to people that guns don’t just go off.  I get that one all the time from my stepmother.  I’ve sat her down and showed it to her—it can’t possible go off.  My gun that I don’t carry often has quite a few safeties on it—a slide lock that not only locks the slide from raking in a new round but prevents the trigger from being pulled; a beaver tail safety that can only be activated by holding the gun and depressing a switch to disengage the safety; and a hammer that has to cocked backed.  If you manage to do all that, then you were trying to shot the gun.

My everyday carry revolver doesn’t have as nearly as many safeties, but it does have a 10 pound pull on the trigger.   To put that in perspective, try picking up a 10 pound weight with one finger. That’s one of the great things about owning firearms—you can get them to your style and preference.  If you’re thinking about wanting to buy a gun, then there is nothing better than actually holding one in your hands—never buy a gun without at least holding it. When you do decide on one, please think about practicality.  The Desert Eagle looks cool, but do you want to carry around 10 pounds of gun on your waist, in a bag, or in a purse all day?  Of course not.  You would carry it—defeating the whole purpose of owning it. On the flip side, do you want a gun that might not be enough to stop someone like a little .22? Yeah it’s small and concealable, but is it effective? After you choose the caliber, you also need to take in account magazine size: is 13 rounds of 9mm enough? What about 10 .40 S&W? I’ll stick to my 8 rounds of .45ACP and a backup magazine.

Do you like guns? Against them altogether? Or are you somewhere in the middle?

> on April 8, 2013 in West Hartford, Connecticut.

Top 5 Faux Financial Emergencies

With Back-to-School season quickly on the horizon, shoppers all over America will soon reach maximum panic mode.  As hard as it is to believe, the vast majority of parents forget that their children start school every year in August (or September).  Obviously, I’m being exaggeratory.  However, many parents swear school shopping is an emergency and that they must use their “only for emergencies” credit card to get them through this unexpected situation.  Because I generally hate shenanigans, it is time for another great list—Top 5 Faux Financial Emergencies:

(1) School Shopping | While we are on the subject of school shopping, let’s park here a bit.  If something happens at the exact same time every single year, then it is not an emergency.  Emergencies by definition are unexpected, catastrophic, and costly.  College-ruled paper obviously does not fit this definition.

(2) Christmas Shopping & Other Gift Shopping | Christmas shopping and birthday shopping are in the same category as school shopping. These occasions happen at the exact same time every year but catch people by surprise way too often.  Even gifts for weddings and baby showers aren’t unexpected—unless you weren’t invited :-/

(3) Automobile Maintenance & Repairs | Not only are oil changes not surprises but there is usually a reminder sticker in your windshield telling you to change your oil after a given mileage or given date.  Other automobile repairs are a bit trickier but not exactly rocket science.  Tires eventually wear out.  So budget a little bit for a new tires every month until you need new tires.  Please use this same strategy for car batteries, brake pads, etc.  If your transmission goes out, then yes, that is an emergency.  Act appropriately.

(4) Brand New Minivan & Other Bad Car Choices | College students (usually with student loan debt) graduate from school and suddenly “need” a new car.  New parents (with student loan debt and maybe new debt now) suddenly “need” a new minivan because their paid-for sedan is too small and uncomfortable for their 8 pound baby.  Automobile purchases are a lot cheaper if you save up ahead of time and buy smart.  I know this.  You know this.  Yet, financing always seems to happen.

(5) Home Renovations | This tends to get the baby boomers more so than millennials, but it affects everyone.  You have a reached some sense of unhappiness and all of a sudden, your kitchen or bathroom just isn’t good enough anymore.  All of a sudden, getting a $50,000 home equity line of credit (HELOC) seems like the smartest thing ever.  It isn’t.

Can you name any faux emergencies that I didn’t mention?

emergency-money-bank2

Natural Awakenings… and Stupidity

A friend of mine recently turned me on to a magazine, Natural Awakenings. It is basically a magazine that promotes healthy living through natural products, green living, and naturopathy.

My friend did not turn me on to this magazine because he thought it was insightful or meaningful, he turned me on to this magazine because he saw the dangers in promoting the pseudoscience that this magazine pushes. To be fair, there are a number of pseudosciences pushed within this magazine, from editorials to advertisements. But a few, namely essential oils and naturopathy, stand out above the others. While we are on advertisements, here is an actual quote from Natural Awakenings:

“We do not necessarily endorse the views expressed in the articles and advertisements, nor are we responsible for the products and services advertised. We welcome your ideas, articles and feedback.”

Well, then. Here is some feedback. Also, please check out some informative links that I have included. I am merely trying to provide an introduction and basic overview. Arm yourself with knowledge.

What is Naturopathy?

From the opening of Wikipedia: “Naturopathy, or naturopathic medicine, is a form of alternative medicine based on a belief in vitalism, which posits that a special energy called “vital energy” or “vital force” guides bodily processes such as metabolismreproduction, growth, and adaptation. Naturopathy favors a holistic approach with non-invasive treatment and generally avoids the use of surgery and drugs.”

Such treatments include essential oils, color treatment, brainwave entrainment, homeopathy, and acupuncture, to name a few.

Straight from the Association of Naturopathic Practitioners, here are the principles and foundation of Naturopathic treatment:

  • The Healing Power of Nature (Vis Medicatrix Naturae): Naturopathic medicine recognizes an inherent self-healing process in people that is ordered and intelligent. Naturopathic physicians act to identify and remove obstacles to healing and recovery, and to facilitate and augment this inherent self-healing process.
  • Identify and Treat the Causes (ToIle Causam): The naturopathic physician seeks to identify and remove the underlying causes of illness rather than to merely eliminate or suppress symptoms.
  • First Do No Harm (Primum Non Nocere):Naturopathic physicians follow three guidelines to avoid harming the patient:
    • Utilize methods and medicinal substances which minimize the risk of harmful side effects, using the least force necessary to diagnose and treat;
    • Avoid when possible the harmful suppression of symptoms; and
    • Acknowledge, respect, and work with individuals’ self-healing process.
  • Doctor as Teacher (Docere): Naturopathic physicians educate their patients and encourage self-responsibility for health. They also recognize and employ the therapeutic potential of the doctor-patient relationship.
  • Treat the Whole Person: Naturopathic physicians treat each patient by taking into account individual physical, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental, social, and other factors. Since total health also includes spiritual health, naturopathic physicians encourage individuals to pursue their personal spiritual development.
  • Prevention: Naturopathic physicians emphasize the prevention of disease by assessing risk factors, heredity and susceptibility to disease, and by making appropriate interventions in partnership with their patients to prevent illness.”

This is a basic overview of Naturopathy, but I think we all can see what is the goal of Naturopathic medicine. It is to treat the body with the body’s own immune system by enriching it naturally with the nutrients and energy it needs. A noble task.

Where Naturopathy Falls Short

Probably the first and largest glaring issue with Naturopathy is the very foundation it is built upon, life force and vital force.  Vital force is a non-material force that appears to defy the laws of chemistry and physics. There is absolutely no scientific proof for anything that can be labeled as a vital force. Despite the many claims, life force cannot, and has never been measured. Especially by any credible scientific source.

Furthermore, a vital force is subjective. We do not know what optimal health is, it is a vitalistic concept with no real scientific or empirical measurement. Also, these “optimal health” levels and “vital forces” cannot be scientifically tested.

This isn’t just a new concept either. Medical doctors and scientists have been debunking Naturopathy for quite some time now. An early skeptic of the Naturopath, named Morris Fishbein, M.D., debunked the following Naturopath treatments and theories:

  • Aeropathy: baking the patient in a hot oven ( a personal favorite)
  • Alereos system: spinal manipulation plus heat and mechanical vibration
  • Astral healing: diagnosis and advice based on reading the patient’s horoscope (I hope I do not have to explain why a horoscope is a bad thing)
  • Autotherapy: treating infections with potions made from the patient’s infected tissues
  • Biodynamochromic diagnosis and therapy: administering colored lights while thumping on the patient’s abdomen (color therapy, which I mentioned above, is still in high use)
  • Bloodwashing with herbs
  • Chromopathy: healing with colored lights (more color therapy,s till used)
  • Electrotherapy
  • Geotherapy: treating disease with little pads of earth
  • Irido-diagnosis: diagnosis based on eye markings—now called iridology
  • Pathiatry: self-administration of spinal adjustment, massage, and traction
  • Porotherapy: treatment through pores, used to treat internal and intestinal problems
  • Practotherapy
  • Sanatology, based on the theory that acidosis and toxicosis are the two basic causes of all disease
  • Somapathy: spinal adjustment followed by applications of cold or extreme heat
  • Tropo-therapy with special nutrition based diets
  • Vit-O-Pathy, a combination of 36 other systems
  • Zodiac therapy, combining astrology and herbs
  • Zonotherapy (now called reflexology): pressing on various parts of the body to heal disease in designated body “zones.”

Most of these occurred in the 1930-1960’s. Many, if not all of these are still practiced. Despite all of modern medical science disputing the efficacy of these treatments.

The Education Needed to be A Naturopath

In the United States, there are 5 full time schools dedicated to students become a Doctor of Naturopathy. Most programs are 4 years long. These 4 years include 2 years of basic sciences and then another 2 years of rounds and outpatient clinicals. This may sound very similar to the tract of an MD program, but there are some key differences.

One difference is the sheer scope of an M.D. program. A M.D. program encompasses literally every aspect of disease, infection, treatment, surgery, and other medical practice. An M.D. program will send a prospecting doctor through every discipline of medicine before they are out of the program. Medical schools also are larger staffed, better trained, and have access to all of the current technology and theories surrounding the medical curriculum.

The rounds of a N.D. includes that of homeopathy, which has long been proven to be nothing more than a placebo affect. And in some cases, homeopathy has additives that can cause serious harm to a patient. If a person is doing rounds in disciplines that fall outside of scientific validity, one can not expect a full education that is robust with current curriculum is being obtained.

Upon completion of medical school, most doctors spend another 3-6 years specializing in a certain field, and will spend most of their time dedicated to that one part of specialization. A N.D. may start practice upon completion of school, and will practice amongst many parts of medicine, or their brand of medicine. No specialization, no extra training.

A statement from the US Department of Health, Education and Welfare:

Naturopathic theory and practice are not based upon the body of basic knowledge related to health, disease, and health care which has been widely accepted by the scientific community. Moreover, irrespective of its theory, the scope and quality of naturopathic education do not prepare the practitioner to make an adequate diagnosis and provide appropriate treatment.”

Back to the Magazine

On page 10 of the April 2014 magazine, there is an advertisement for Medical Aromatherapy Certification Classes. The Middle Earth Healing and Learning Center offers a Level One class on medical aromatherapy (essential oils). For the cost of $475, you may learn all about essential oils and their medical uses. It even encompass the dangers of using modern medicine over essential oils. Not surprisingly, you may also buy essential oils directly from them after the class.

I was honestly going to try and debunk why this is a waste of money and a bad idea. But I quickly realized I did not have to. There are almost zero credible studies championing the use of aromatherapy and essential oils as a legitimate medical use. It is snake oil. We are dealing with literal snake oil. If you are using essential oils as a legitimate form of medicine, you are going to hurt yourself or someone you know. A great little website has even more detail here: https://skeptoid.com/blog/2014/04/05/essential-oil-claims-the-dangers-keep-on-coming/

Dr. Emu’s Rx for Pain

On page 28 of the April 2014 edition, we see a lovely little add for Dr. Emu’s Rx for pain. A naturopathic medicine. A list of uses includes:

  • Diabetic neuropathy foot pain
  • arthritis pain
  • stiff joints
  • knee, neck and back pain
  • sore muscles
  • inflammation and swelling
  • clear brain fog
  • restore positive a mood
  • regenerate energy levels
  • and increase circulation

Oh my! That is quite the topical solution! From the WebMD website, it does state that Emu Oil does have some uses in relieving some inflammation pain. However, it states that it works better (if at all) for sudden acute inflammation and not long term. As a matter of fact, the very things WebMD says Emu Oil may be used for also fall under the category of insufficient evidence. So, does Emu Oil even really work? At this time, we have not done enough scientific research on emu oil to know if it is truly the miracle drug it says it is. It does have some slight positive affects on rodents done in a lab setting, but not much is known outside of that. The truth is, emu oil probably has slight very short term inflammation reducing properties, but nothing to suggest it does anything more than that.

Conclusion

Naturopathy, essential oils, emu oils, and all of these new age medicine have absolutely no basis in science. Anecdotal evidence and testimonials are not a substitute for science. Naturopathy and magazines such as Natural Awakenings make countless claims that what they offer is better than modern medicine. My thoughts? Prove it. The science community should not waste countless hours debunking your…well, bunk. If you can get in a lab and show with consensus that what you sell works, we will listen. Until, then, we want none of what you are selling.

Informative Links

http://www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/altbelief.html

http://skepdic.com/acupuncture.html

http://www.skepdic.com/aroma.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aromatherapy

http://www.chelationwatch.org

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/134385.php

http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/reference/naturopathy/

Atl Medicine

8 Dangerous Acts People Do Despite Knowing Better

In wake of the Georgia Toddler Carseat trial, there have been millions of people coming out of the woodwork as perfect human beings similar to Jesus Christ, Chuck Norris, and USA Goalkeeper Tim Howard.  But as someone who recognizes his own fallibility, I wanted to help bring reality back into the forefront.  So without further ado, here is the 8 Dangerous Acts People Do Despite Knowing Better.

1. Not Buckling Themselves or Their Children – Sure I could easily start a debate on the misguided love of rushing to put a baby into a forward-facing carseat, but I wanted to focus on something even more mind-blowingly crazy.

  • According to the CDC, 33% of children who died in a crash in 2011 were NOT BUCKLED UP at all! But I cannot blame the children…
  • Restraint use among young children often depends upon the driver’s seat belt use. Almost 40% of children riding with unbelted drivers were themselves unrestrained.

2. Driving While InTEXTicated – Did you know that texting while driving makes crashes 23 times more likely than if you were driving undistracted? But did you also know this?

  • 77% of young adults are very or somewhat confident that they can safely text while driving.  And 55% say that it is easy to text while driving.  But they come by it honest…
  • 48% of CHILDREN have been in a car while the ADULT DRIVER WAS TEXTING.

3. Self-Inflicted Workplace Accidents – Research shows that over 99% of all accidents are preventable.  Most accidents are because of hubris, impatience, and negligence.  I could not sum it better than this quote from Brad Miles:

  • “We don’t work in a dangerous environment. We work in a hazardous environment that we make dangerous by not following safe work procedures and wearing our PPE.”

4. Pre-marital Sex,  STIs, and Pregnancy – It is no secret that pre-marital sex is the overwhelming cause for sharing harmful Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) such as gonorrhea, herpes, and HIV.  It is also the leading cause of out-of-wedlock pregnancies (“virgin births” is the other cause).

  • According to the CDC, there are 20 MILLION new cases of STIs in the United States each year, costing the American healthcare system nearly $16 BILLION in unnecessary preventable direct medical costs.  But we cannot blame this on current young adults, they come by it honest…
  • Among women born between 1950 and 1978, at least 91% had had premarital sex by age 30.  Currently, 95% of men and women have had pre-marital sex by age 30.  This isn’t surprising as the median age of first marriage has risen to approximately 30 years old.
  • CDC data indicates that 40.7% of all 2012 births were out-of-wedlock.  This prevalency is much higher in people groups that are struggling economically, educationally, and criminally.  Common knowledge also says these unwanted pregnancies lead to abo…

5. Illegal Drug Use  – Almost 10% of individuals 12 years old or older are using illegal drugs (CDC 2012).  This is done despite the high health risks and despite the lowered chances of receiving/maintaining employment.

6. Consumer Debt “Playing with Fire” – The majority of Americans are weighed down by consumer debt (i.e. student loans, credit cards, car loans, etc).  Yet laughably, people will walk right into a lion’s den and believe they can outsmart the world-class businesses  and lending institutions trained to prey on consumers.  For example, you WILL spend more if you use credit cards.  Businesses know this.  As a result, even by paying the debt bills on time, you ARE NOT beating the system!  The system is beating you!

7.  Ignoring Infant Sleep Safety – Despite the existence of compelling research and statistics about the importance of safe sleep in reducing our nation’s high rate of infant mortality, the number of babies who die in adult beds and other unsafe sleep environments is on the rise.

  • There are 4500 sudden, unexpected infant deaths each year.  Statistics show that as many as 80-90% are the result of unsafe sleep practices. These are preventable deaths.
  • For example, bumpers pads and pillows should not be used in cribs. There is no evidence that these extra items prevent injuries, and there is a potential risk of suffocation, strangulation or entrapment.

8.  Dropping Out of High School – Dropping out of high school is a choice.  A choice that anyone with half a brain knows is negative and dangerous.  Want proof? In the United States, high school dropouts commit about 75% of crimes.  Using deductive reasoning, you can probably guess that this means that the majority of men and women actually in prison are high school dropouts too.  But these aren’t the only bad things…

  • A high school dropout will earn $200,000 less than a high school graduate over his lifetime.
  • The death rate for those with fewer than 12 years of education is 2.5 times higher than the rate of those with 13 or more years of education.

What do you think? Can you name other boneheaded acts that could be added to this list?

Safety