Category Archives: Somebody Has To Say It

Gun Control in Australia

gun control

A recent news article in a Sydney newspaper, The Daily Telegraph, made the assertion that gun regulation had failed, leaving guns in the hands of only the criminals. 

By way of background, for those unfamiliar with Australia’s gun laws, guns are tightly regulated here. In the late 90s, following a gun massacre, stricter regulation was brought into effect. Semi-automatic weapons and pump-action shotguns were banned and a strict registration and licensing regime was introduced. Australians do not, and never did have, the right to bear arms, nor did they carry guns with the same frequency, as citizens of the United States do. 85% of the population supported the new gun control laws.

So at the time, the fear was the new gun laws would place guns in the hands of criminals and take them away from citizens (forgetting, for the most part, citizens didn’t have them to start with). And now some ass wanted to assert this was what had actually happened. 

I had a number of gut reactions to this, one being criminals with guns seem to more often shoot each other with them than citizens. While this might be undesirable it is, arguably, better than, say, bullied school students taking guns to school and randomly shooting students and teachers. For the most part, tight gun regulation has put guns beyond the reach of such people. 

But let’s take a more objective look at the statistics. This was prompted, in part, by a conversation with an American Tweep of mine, who was surprised by Australia’s homicide rate. I told him it was only a few hundred a year. 

‘That’s just your gun deaths?’ he asks. 

‘No, that’s the total homicide rate. Across the whole country.’

He was shocked. Not in a bad way, but it says something about America’s homicide rate that he found this number staggeringly low. Now I do, of course, realise Australia has a much smaller population than the US, so I did some research to do a proper comparison. 

In 2010, Australia had 190 attempted murders and 229 actual murders. Of these, 140 (73%) and 154 (67%) respectively involved a weapon (not necessarily a gun). For a comparison that takes into account population figures, the homicide rate in America is 5.5 people per 100,000. In Australia, it’s 1.34, or one quarter the rate. That’s significantly lower.

Funny… this doesn’t seem to be the actual outcome
In Australia, a knife was used in 33% of murders and 28% of attempted murders. It was the most common weapon, so it beat out guns. In fact, a gun was used in less than 20% of murders and less than 25% of attempted murders. 

So murders do occur without guns, and you might be tempted to say murder will happen with or without access to guns. Which it will. But accessibility to guns affects the ease of murder. Consider this – 84% of people shot to the heart will die, but only 30% of people stabbed in the heart. So if someone is going to try and kill me, I think I’d rather it was a knife than a gun. 

In America, 68% of homicides are gun deaths. So not only is their overall homicide rate much higher, but their gun deaths are higher. The gun homicide rate is 3.7, which is itself 3 times our total homicide rate. Our gun homicide rate is around 0.27. That’s a big difference. In America, you are 13 times more likely to be killed with a gun than in Australia. And someone is trying to tell me that has nothing whatsoever to do with the differences in gun laws?

Also in support of our gun laws, Australia’s homicide rate had a dip right after the gun buyback, and then has remained steady. However, armed robberies involving guns has been steadily falling, so even some criminals don’t have access to these weapons. If I had to hazard a guess, I’d say the criminal element involved in organised crime has better access to illegal weaponry than petty criminals.

Given that America’s gun death rate is 3.7, compared to our 0.27, you can see a large part of the difference (not all, but a large part) between Australia’s and America’s overall homicide rates is attributable to the increased gun death rate, which has to be at least partly attributable to the accessibility of guns. 
 
I’m sorry, which part of this tells you our gun laws have been a failure?

This is part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge Series. If you missed the previous posts, you can find them here – A, B, C, D, E and F.

If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to check out my previous posts if you haven’t already. If you’re finding yourself here often, you might like to join as a member, sign up to the blog through RSS or email, or subscribe to my newsletter.

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Author’s Note: America has been used as a comparison only because of the discussion I had with a citizen of that country who expressed surprise at our statistics. 

Sources used:

Fidelity In Modern Life

Fidelity

I’ve been cheated on, and I’ve been asked to cheat on a partner, but I never have. And believe it or not, I’ve been criticised for that standpoint. I’ve been called boring and conservative. When, I ask you, did having some morals suddenly become an indicator of being boring and a staid conservative, rather than a good and decent person?

If you choose to have an open relationship, I respect that. I don’t pretend to understand it, but I respect it. I won’t preach to you about how wrong your lifestyle is, even if it makes no sense to me whatsoever, and I expect you won’t preach to me about mine.
 
But of course, by ‘open’, I mean a relationship in which you have actually informed your partner of your intention to have sex with other people, and he or she agrees; not a relationship in which you just choose to take such matters into your own hands and gloss over the details with your partner. Because that’s not an open relationship, it’s just cheating.

One of the arguments put to me by some brave soul, who weathered the first eruption of Mt Ciara when he inappropriately propositioned me, was ‘life is too short to only have sex with one person’. 

Is it? Is it really? Let’s assume for the sake of the argument that it is and examine the other problems with this statement and why it’s not a justification for cheating. 

Monogamous relationships are 100% voluntary. If you don’t want to enter into one, guess what? You don’t have to! If you want to live the single life forever and sleep with a different person every night, go for it! If you can find a girl (or guy) to agree to an open relationship, then I guess you can even have your cake and eat it too. 

But if you freely enter into a monogamous relationship, represent to your partner or otherwise lead them to believe it’s monogamous, and then you have sex with someone else, I’m sorry, that’s immoral. No argument you put to me is going to make me agree it’s not. Because one thing I’ve noticed is that, when you pin them down, even the people who argue to me that cheating is not immoral have to admit that lying is wrong. 

And what is cheating, when you boil it right down? Telling your partner one thing and doing another. That, ladies and gentleman, is lying. It’s dishonest, it’s hurtful and it destroys trust much faster than you can ever build it. The other funny thing is that most people who advocate cheating would still go after the bastard who did it to his sister or daughter (or son, or brother, for those women who are so violently inclined – want to borrow my sword?). Try not to be hypocritical either. 

And for those of you who want to tell me cheating is a victimless crime, I’m here to tell you it’s not. For someone on the receiving end, this not only destroys trust and hurts, because they’ve been lied to, it also destroys self-esteem and causes loss of confidence and self-doubt. When someone lies to your face and goes behind your back to have sex with someone else, even the strongest and most robust ego has to wonder ‘What’s wrong with me?’ And this is someone you’re supposed to care about? I hate to see what you do to your enemies. 

So, is the argument ‘life’s too short to only have one partner’ a valid argument against fidelity? 

Not if you voluntarily agreed to enter into a monogamous relationship! 

This is part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge Series. If you missed the previous posts, you can find them here – A, B, C, D and E.

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Author’s Note: This argument does, of course, assume that you did freely enter into the relationship. Circumstances of forced marriage are a different situation and not dealt with in this post.

Everyone Knows Tomorrow Never Comes – Fiction (Part 2)

Tomorrow Never Comes

Part two to the story posted on April 1 – you can find Part 1 here.
~

Drada’s thoughts raced. ‘You set off the alert. You planned this. You planned me. Why me?’  Beneath the thick, dark wool of his coat, goosebumps ran down his arms. 

Gan’s eyes darted away, dark with the shadow of memories. ‘I know what they do with the prisoners,’ he repeated. His words sounded as though they were dragged from him. ‘They’re taken to a sorcerer.’

Drada’s breath caught. His chest felt as if it were crushed until he couldn’t breathe. ‘A… sorcerer?’ 

Gan hunched impressive shoulders, appearing small despite his bulk. ‘Yeah.’ Blue eyes held Drada’s grey ones, but the sergeant looked like he’d rather be elsewhere. ‘You still got that chain?’

The colonel’s hand dropped to his belt pouch. ‘It’s…’ His throat seized on his son’s name. ‘It’s for Phaeton.’

‘I know.’

Drada’s mouth worked soundlessly. Gan’s face drooped in a frown and he patted the colonel’s shoulder awkwardly. Drada clutched the pouch and its precious cargo. He’d known this day would come, but it had always been tomorrow. Tomorrow didn’t need thinking about. Everyone knew tomorrow never came. 

‘You’re sure?’ Drada hadn’t seen his son for nearly three years, not since charges were brought for  practising illegal, experimental sorcery on humans. 

‘I was virtually an uncle to that boy, Drada. I’m sure it’s him.’

Drada trembled, battered by a hurricane of emotion. When the storm passed, he found himself leaning against the wall and gasping for breath. Gan offered a hand, but Drada brushed him aside. His hand switched between the hilt of his sword and the pouch. Which? Neither option bore contemplation. One would put an end to it now, one would pass responsibility to others. One would offer irrevocable finality, the other the possibility of no closure at all. Neither should be for a father to execute. 

‘Where?’ His voice rasped, so hoarse it was barely audible over the stamp of his boots on the prison’s bare stone floor. 

Grabbing the candle, Gan hurried to catch up, his mail jingling. ‘Phaeton?’

‘Who else?’

Gan waved his hands to signal his helplessness. ‘The prison warden? The lord governor?’ His voice hushed. ‘Duke Alcon? Many are involved, you could want…’ He trailed off under the baleful, grey, glare. ‘This way.’

They took a narrow stairwell, spiralling deep underground. Drada counted the floors. They passed the prison’s upper levels and into the lower, forgotten levels; levels the king had ordered bricked up, levels heavy with the dark secrets of the past. He saw the broken brickwork where sealed doorways had burst asunder. No man with a hammer had wrought that damage. The edges of the bricks gleamed, melted and glassy in the weak candle flame; evidence a sorcerer had been this way.

They trod through the darkness of the horrific past, and deeper into ancient history; a time of whispered fear and half-formed legends. Finally, the stairs spilled out deep in the bowels of the prison. This was a place Drada had never stood, not even before the king’s edict. The walls here were rough, unformed by human hands. He stared into a vast cavern, stalactites and stalagmites spearing the empty space. In the distance, a red glow burned. Rumour spoke of a lake of magma, fuelling the worst and darkest of the ancient sorceries. Drada’s gut clenched. 

Voices echoed out of the glowing darkness, distorted and twisted by the confining stone. It was impossible to tell how many men or where. Drada shrank backwards into the cold, rough wall. 

Extinguishing the candle, Gan pushed him forward. ‘Prison guards,’ he whispered. ‘Making a delivery.’ He nudged Drada into a shallow hollow in the wall. 

Drada pressed himself hard against the stone, but the depression was too shallow to offer any real cover. His heart thudded inside his ribcage as the voices drew nearer. Gan dug his fingers into Drada’s arm. He froze. Sweat trickled down his nose as together they peered into the red shadows.


Click here to read Part 3.

This is part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge Series. If you missed the previous posts, you can find them here – A, B, C and D.

If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to check out my previous posts if you haven’t already. If you’re finding yourself here often, you might like to join as a member, sign up to the blog through RSS or email, or subscribe to my newsletter.

Don’t forget to share the love and spread the word on Twitter, Facebook or StumbleUpon (or other social networking site of your choice) if you know other people who might also enjoy this.

Thanks for stopping by and visiting with us!

Author’s Note: Due to the time constraints of the A to Z Challenge, this piece of fiction has not undergone my usual rigorous editing process and is essentially a first draft. 

Daylight Robbery

Big bucks

I am the victim of daylight robbery. Daylight highway robbery, even! I am, literally, being robbed of daylight by my electricity company!
 
Say what?

Suffice to say, in December 2010 we contracted a builder to construct us a new house. The contract included the installation of solar panels. There has been a bit of back and forth on solar power, and what benefits people with solar panels get, here in my State of New South Wales. Last I heard, solar panel owners were to no longer receive 60c/kW for solar energy generated, but only 20c/kW. Now I didn’t consider that unreasonable so I had no issue. 60c was always far too much in my opinion. 

So construction was completed in December 2011 and we moved into the house just before Christmas. In January, we received our first electricity bill… and there appears to be no allowance for the solar power we have generated. So I call the electricity company and this woman says to me…

‘We don’t pay for solar energy.’

‘What, nothing?’

‘That’s right.’

‘You have got to be joking!’

Deadpan. ‘No I am not.’

So, basically, my electricity company is stealing my solar energy and selling it to other people! I was so pissed off, I even briefly considered if this was reportable under the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW). See that? See the way my brain works? See my Twitter profile – ‘Cross at own peril?’ Connect the dots?

I decided it probably wasn’t reportable, or even if it was, the police would find my complaint laughable, or just wouldn’t know what to do with it. Plus, I’m sure they have more important crimes to be worrying about.
So I find myself in a situation where I’m shopping around. The best deal I can get is $0.06/kW for the electricity I generate and it costs me something like $0.22/kW, so there’s a bit of a gap there. 

Apparently the house uses the electricity we generate first, but it can’t store the energy, so if we don’t use it as it’s generated, it goes back to the grid – at no benefit to me! And of course, the house generates energy during the day, and no one is home five days a week, so our day energy use is really low…

I am determined to use as much of my solar energy myself as I can. So I run the dishwasher now as I leave the house, instead of at night. I schedule my washing machine to come on in the afternoon so I can hang the laundry out when I get home. And of course, now that our ginormous spa is hooked up, it should be drawing our solar energy to heat the spa and power the filtration system. 

Hopefully this sucker will guzzle my solar energy before my electricity company can steal it!
But for now, I have to wait until next bill to find out how much daylight has been stolen from me this quarter….

This is part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge Series. If you missed the previous posts, you can find them here – A, B, C.

If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to check out my previous posts if you haven’t already. If you’re finding yourself here often, you might like to join as a member, sign up to the blog through RSS or email, or subscribe to my newsletter.

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Country Goes City – My Drizabone

Drizabone

I own a Drizabone. That’s basically an Australian oilskin for stockmen. No… I’m not a stockman. I don’t even own a horse…anymore. But I did, and my Drizabone is so totally awesome for keeping the rain off I even wear it into the Sydney CBD when we have heavy rain. 

OK, so I probably look like a noob. Actually, I’m not 100% sure on that, because I stole noob from a pre-teen boy, and I don’t really know what it means. I am sure it’s not flattering. 

So there I am, in Sydney CBD, in a sea of suited and briefcased people, flooding around the skyscrapers, wearing my Drizabone and looking like I just rode into town. It’s got straps to buckle around your legs – so, you know, your coat doesn’t blow up while you’re astride your horse and soak your legs. It’s got an expandable flap at the back; plenty of room to accommodate your horse’s rump. 

And I’m horseless. 
 
But you know what? Those features are just as great for keeping you dry while walking as riding a horse. The leg straps keep the oilskin close, so your coat doesn’t flap open in the wind while you’re walking, helping to avoid the usual umbrella phenomenon of being soaked from the knees down in heavy rain. I’m even so short my Drizabone goes all the way to my ankles!

So maybe I look like a noob. But I’m a dry noob, so when you get right down to it, maybe I’m less of a noob than the people who are wet. 

I love my Drizabone! And I love my hubby, who gave it to me.

This is part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge Series. If you missed the previous posts, you can find them here – A, B

If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to check out my previous posts if you haven’t already. If you’re finding yourself here often, you might like to join as a member, sign up to the blog through RSS or email, or subscribe to my newsletter.

Don’t forget to share the love and spread the word on Twitter, Facebook or StumbleUpon (or other social networking site of your choice) if you know other people who might also enjoy this.

Thanks for stopping by and visiting with us!