Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

“Assault Weapons” Make Terrible Assault Weapons

Monday, December 17th, 2012

There is a bit of a lack of ‘gun knowledge’ in the media and it would appear, in government. It seems to be shaping an argument and encouraging a piece of legislation which might make a splash in the political arena, but unfortunately has no chance of even slightly curbing attacks like Sandy Hook, Aurora and Virginia Tech. We might be trying to control the wrong guns, and in doing so we could miss our one opportunity to pass any real effective gun control.

I shoot recreationally and know a little about guns. This whole “assault weapons” talk… Simply put, they’re not assault rifles at all. Assault rifles have been banned for decades. Real “Assault Rifles” are fully automatic weapons. That is, the gun will continue to spray out bullets until you release the trigger. The rifles available to civilians are semi-automatic. They function just like other rifles/handguns/shotguns – one bullet at a time. They’re essentially common sporting rifles styled to look like assault rifles. They shoot ‘rifle caliber’ rounds that while powerful, are not nearly as powerful as calibers used for hunting medium sized game like deer or even as powerful as many specialty handgun calibers. They may look all “black ops” but it’s totally form – not function.

This is a problem because due to the media’s enthusiastic attention to and coverage of these scary looking guns, it seems The White House may be planning to reinstate the Federal Assault Weapons Ban of 1994 and tout it as a response to the call for more gun control. It’s certainly the easy play… It existed once before (1994-2004) and those guns sure do look scary. But that’s really all it would be- a political move. If we’re going to target a weapon capable of causing the most harm, why not the handgun, a weapon that’s deadly at close range, holds a pretty good amount of ammo and most importantly, is completely concealable. The weapon of choice when it comes to shootings in America is overwhelmingly the handgun (give or take 75% of yearly firearm homicides). Abraham Lincoln, John Lennon, Bobby Kennedy- all handguns. Virginia Tech, the worst US school shooting to date was perpetrated with a 2 handguns… small caliber ones. They come in multiple calibers (including rifle calibers) and the ammunition ranges from hollow point, to fragmenting rounds designed to inflict the greatest possible damage.

And we can’t ignore the ubiquitous ‘Shotgun’. The shotgun is the most common hunting weapon on the planet- mostly used for birds. In most states in the US you can buy one with a driver’s license that says you’re 18. This is arguably the single most devastating weapon a human being can wield for up to 25 yards. It would likely cause the most fatalities in a movie theater, school, shopping mall… any enclosed space basically. The shooter in the Aurora movie theater possibly inflicted the most damage with his shotgun. In fact, his “Assault Rifle” supposedly jammed within the first 30 rounds. The shotgun will NEVER be banned. Even in countries where guns are tightly regulated like the UK, shotguns are allowed for hunting purposes.

And that brings us to the real problem. Crazy people. All these mass shootings have that one common element – the shooters were all clearly what most of us would feel relatively comfortable referring to as ‘crazy people’ (I’m well aware that’s not a clinical term). Here’s the thing about crazy people… They exist on every continent and in every society. But our crazies can get their hands on guns entirely too easily. We have roughly 300 million firearms in civilian hands in this country. There are only 315 million freedom loving souls living here. Every one of you either owns a gun or knows someone who does. If you absolutely wanted to kill a bunch of people you could buy/steal a gun in a matter of hours.

The most effective approach we could take to prevent these types of shootings is that which limits the ability of a crazy person to get ANY gun. It should include multiple gun policy changes. For starters, we all have to take a test (more than one in most states) to get a driver’s license. I basically had to sign a piece of paper promising that I’m not insane (or have a drinking problem) to get a gun license and I live in NJ (a pretty strict gun law state). Is it too much to ask that we implement some sort of testing and education requirements for gun ownership? It can even be privatized and create some jobs – we still need those… And how about reducing the number of guns in society altogether? The government could offer a strongly incentivized gun buyback program. They could also legally limit the number of guns any one person can own to… oh, I don’t know – let’s say three. You only have two hands. You’ll be adequately “self-defended” with three guns. Finally, a ban on all magazines holding more than 10 or so rounds on all types of weapons. Focusing on a specific class of gun that has been recently hyped by the media is the easy political move, but unfortunately it will do nothing to stop this type of violence. I hope the guys making decisions are doing their research…


Monday, August 2nd, 2010

As I sit in a chair suspended 30k feet above the Atlantic Ocean, I’m wondering “why don’t I ever get seated next to a beautiful, charming woman, like in the movies?” I have terrible airplane seating karma. Today, there’s a robust old woman sitting next to me. She keeps looking over and frowning in disapproval at the fact that I’m on the computer, as if she still hasn’t accepted such technology as a societal standard – as if it’s a passing fad and I’m just wasting my time.

I’m on my way back to NYC from Heathrow, London. I’ve spent the last 3 weeks on holiday in London and Greece. I went to my friend’s beautiful wedding just outside of Athens. I had a great time with close friends, saw old friends and made new friends. Although I woke up one morning humming a melody and basically wrote an entire song using my phone’s voice recorder, I haven’t picked up a guitar since I left so I’m eager to do that when I get home.

Ahh, yes – warm almonds. Thanks Tammy. The flight attendants on this flight are Brits that seem to have literary names out of a Jane Austen novel. Their names just sound made up – names like Percy Brown and Tammy Lane. Our pilot, James Taylor introduces them to us over the intercom.

So, the last few weeks have been great… too many highlights to mention. Ooh, except for the best lamb Shawarma I’ve ever had across the street from my friend’s flat. I had that yesterday… and the day before. So then, if my vacation was so nice, why do I find myself sooo eager to get home? Why can’t I wait to get back to NY? What’s this red white and blue sensation I’m having in the pit of my stomach? And then it hits me… America is awesome!

Let me explain further because just writing those words made me vomit in my mouth a little. It makes me feel like the ignorant American the rest of the world thinks we all are anyway. I hadn’t been to Europe in a number of years – traveling as an American under the Bush administration was a bit embarrassing so it was kept to a minimum. But now that I’ve come for an extended stay and literally spent time in 2 very different types of Europe, I’ve come to the conclusion that the US, and specifically, the East and West Coasts have a level of comfort and civility that you don’t get in Europe. We are VERY comfortable in the US. We are VERY safe there. We have VERY good service… and for me, service is one of a vacation’s primary requisites.

London? They kind of blow you off – you’re just a mangy tourist to them – they really don’t put in the time and attention that good service requires, even in very fine establishments. There are always exceptions – don’t get me wrong, but I’m talking as a whole. And Greece? Forget about it! For the first time ever, I’m less than proud of my heritage. They’re destroying the country from within. Everyday there was another airport strike or a gasoline transport strike. You’re scared to go anywhere because you don’t know how long you’ll have to wait to get back! It’s a shame… And most of Europe is somewhere in between those two countries. In almost 3 weeks, I may have seen a total of 5 police cars – maaaybe. Everyone drives reeeeally fast. Scooter drivers are the ballsiest people on earth. Last week I was driving alongside 2 guys on a scooter (no helmets), both of which were texting as they weaved in and out of traffic at around 80 kilometers per hour – fuck if I know what a kilometer is but it felt fast… There’s just a lack of order in general.

It seems we take things for granted in the States… things like knowing exactly what time buses and trains are going to arrive – things like not having to worry about how badly your cab driver is gonna rip you off – things like not being asked “well what do you want me to do with the yellow” when you ask for an egg white omelet. And for fucks sake, how about making all of your money the same size?! It doesn’t fold right when all the bills are different!

So America, take pride in the knowledge that we don’t have to carry a pocket full of dollar coins! So what if you only speak one language?… barely. It’s an important language! So what if you can’t name more than 4 countries other than the Unites States? So what if our accents are loud and nasaly (that’s what an English guy told me yesterday). We may be overbearing and arrogant, but don’t piss us off. We might be carrying.

You can keep your ancient ruins and architecture. Keep your beautiful beaches. Keep your fancy accents and ‘devil may care’ attitude. I’m headed back to Mecca… headed back to suckle at the American tit.

America… don’t you change a thing. I like you just the way you are… and no, that dress doesn’t make you look fat at all.

Byron Zanos iTheory July Installment – “Fumbling in the Dark”

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

Ah… “Fumbling in the Dark”… The age old tale of two normally staid and demure youths that find themselves in a salacious tryst… a lascivious flesh-fest, if you will… just for one night… enjoy.

February Installment of iTheory

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

This is the February installment of iTheory. “Moving On” is a song I’ve played live for some time now. I knew I wanted to record it but newer material kept filling up my mental hard drive and postponing it. Recently, the message of new beginnings and embracing change has returned to the frontlines of my life and I felt it appropriate to finally record and release this track.

This series is available exclusively though You can purchase the tracks securely either by Credit Card or through PayPal. Click HERE to hear and download “Moving On”.

Adventures in Jury Duty

Saturday, December 5th, 2009

My phone is playing that all too familiar “alarm” sound but it’s only 6:30am. What gives? Oh yes – Today is the day I fulfill my civic duty and pay a visit to the county court. Despite being called several times over the last few years, I’d managed to avoid jury duty using many clever, Navy Seal-like evasive tactics. However, I was finally held down to a date by Maryanne, the county clerk and skilled brain-ninja. It was a good run but now, I finally had to go. This is what you get for being a registered voter…

After arriving at the courthouse and going through a security checkpoint that would make the FAA envious, I am told to sit in a 1000sq foot room with all the other jurors. Suddenly, that sickly feeling comes over me – you know, similar to the one you get in a doctor’s waiting room or in an airport smoking lounge – where you’re afraid to breath? When was my last tetanus shot? The plastic folding chairs were so unbelievably close together it was like having 100 people in my personal space. Add a temperature of around 85 degrees, give the room a powerful morning breath/old lady perfume scent, add 10 or so people coughing during H1N1 Flu season and you could imagine my delight. And we’re not talking sniffling and throat clearing – we’re talking the kind of coughs you only hear in a cancer ward. I was squeezed in between a 150yr old woman and a man who looked like a smelly Salman Rushdie. That being said, Salman Rushdie looks like he might smell a bit funky.

Anyway, a woman comes out and with a tired, monotone voice and a lazy eye, recites the responsibilities and duties of a juror as she probably has a thousand times. Soon after, the lights are dimmed and we are subjected to a 70’s era government commissioned video about jury duty.– haircuts never lie. I couldn’t take it anymore and strolled out of the room where the clerk informed me I had to go back and watch the video. “It’s like a Petri dish in there – are you crazy? Plus, I watch lots of TV – I’ve got the court thing down.” She repeated the order completely not amused and I wasn’t going to argue with the 90 year old woman. After all, she had a cane and she looked pissed.

After the end of the video, we’re given further information, the most relevant of which is that no matter whether we’re chosen to serve on a case or not, we’ll be stuck there until 4:30pm. Damn, I should have brought my computer or a book – at the very least, some recreational drugs… This was going to be a long day.

People start getting called for various cases but I luckily escape the first roll call. Reverend Run of Run DMC is not so lucky – he’s called for the first case. Yes, Rev. Run was coincidentally in the same jury group. He was sitting in the corner with his driver/bodyguard fiercely attacking his Blackberry. I assume he was probably more annoyed than I was. Surprisingly, a lot of people present were not angry to be there. Quite the contrary. These people wanted to be there! It’s paid days off of work – if you hate your job THAT much, jury duty might seem like vacation. I’d say 20% of the people were forced to be there – another 60% couldn’t muster the brain power to come up with a decent excuse, and the last 20% were pleased to be there. These are the people that end up on most juries – that remaining 20%. These are the folks that make up a “jury of our peers” – peers? What? You should have seen the characters in this little room. These are the people who decide who is guilty or innocent? – the people we trust with out lives? I wouldn’t trust most of these idiots with a golf club and a set of Crest WhiteStrips… and at that very moment that I was thinking this thought, I glanced to my left just in time to see Salman Rushdie dig deep into his nose, pick himself a winner, and quickly shovel it into his mouth… Really? Seriously? Are you fucking kidding me?

I spent the rest of my time there in the hallway – told the clerk I’d be right by the door if she needs me but I’m not sitting in there anymore and if she has a problem with that she can have me arrested. Luckily, she didn’t take me up on that offer. Soon after, everyone is released to walk around a bit. It was now 11:05. I figured, if I’m stuck here, I might as well pass the time and talk to some of the “normal” people. They were the ones who looked annoyed. I discussed finance with a business school student, music with a DJ, handgun bullet trajectory with one of the guards, and health reform with an idiot. Looked at my watch – Fack… 11:17!!!

It was after 1pm before I got called to be a juror in a case. Although I can’t discuss it, I would like to say that the prison issue shoes worn by the convicts in orange jumpsuits do look extremely comfortable. The ankle chains, not so much but the shoes looked soft.

It was gonna be a week long trial and I wanted no part of it. So this was my time to come up with a great excuse as to why I am unable to serve as juror. I paid attention to every detail the judge told us about the case. I even took notes on things I could say about the prosecutor, the defendant, the crime… I was ready to be convincingly full of shit! I could do it – I could act. I played the dentist in my high school production of “Little Shop Of Horrors” for god sakes. This should be a walk in the park. I was ready. The judge called me up to be seated. His honor asked his first question – if it would be an inconvenience for me to participate in this trial. I responded, “Well, yeah. I’m kind of busy.” “Ok”, he responded… “You’re dismissed.” That was it… go figure.