FYI: The Nexus 4 is back in stock (both 8GB and 16GB SKUs)
Once Muse starts playing I hopefully will get over the fact that a beer costs 11$ here…
Pretty cool: Google Maps now shows slopes for some ski resorts, including some Street View coverage.
San Francisco Bridge to Become Stunning Light Show
Hurting legs but great views
I think we are well equipped for the ski weekend…
Enjoying the view and a drink
Holy crap… That was exciting!
That's pretty awesome… Flipboard now has Daydream support on Android 4.2!
So reading this "we do NOT LIVE IN NAZI GERMANY" statement by gun advocates I thought I should maybe write down some thoughts from the perspective of someone who grew up in non-Nazi Germany. The following points are in no particular order and not prioritized … and obviously very subjective. I'm trying to keep this post completely free of sarcasm or irony (which is extremely rare for me) due to the sensitive topic. I'm also not trying to offend anyone or even convince anyone of anything … this post is to explain how I experience these kind of discussions in the US. It's not about what the right or wrong answer in the debate is… it's about the style of the debate itself. 1) Emotions:I learned during my time in the US (I live here now since 2007) that in general it's safer to not participate in discussions like this (gun laws, health care, democrats vs. republicans, taxes, etc) . Not because I'm afraid of the outcome or because I think someone will punch me in the face (that risk is present on other topics too just because I'm a jerk) … it's because I have learned that I can't grasp the emotional involvement of some people here discussing this. And participating in a discussion on a completely different emotional level is dangerous because you can't judge what your words might cause or mean to the other person. I'm usually fairly emotionally detached from the topic of discussion. After all it doesn't really shutter my life if someone wants to vote a different party or wants a different tax system or advocates for a different healthcare system. So while I think it's actually really interesting to discover the details in the different opinions, I never take this personally … after all I assume my discussion partner wants the same in life as me: Health, wealth and maybe another beer…2) Ideology:I approached these kind of discussions like I would approach a discussion about what beer to drink, what the best car to buy is or where to go on vacation: Fairly rational with facts (price, quality, features) and obviously also with some subjective elements (taste, preference). So at the end of the discussion with someone who prefers a different beer, car or vacation destination usually you have exchanged your arguments, have usually agreed on some points (usually the data driven ones) and disagreed on others (usually the subjective/gut-driven ones) and along the way usually also agreed on other good alternatives (hey, while we both can't agree on our favorite car we can definitely agree that car X is a really awesome car… even if it's not our most favorite one) … and had some beers and fun during this discussion. What I learned is that this approach to discussions is not applicable to certain critical topics like US politics, health care or gun control. It took me a while to understand this (yes, I'm a bit slow) but these are ideological discussions. There is no middle-ground. There is no alternative. My approach to handle these topics as rational as anything else I would discuss is just not applicable here. I still don't understand WHY these topics are ideological and so deeply emotional but that doesn't change the fact that they are.3) Friends:Another surprise for me: Someone who is deeply invested in these topics and might raise arguments (both pro or con… depending on the topic the ridiculousness can swing both ways) that let me wonder about his/her common sense and sanity is not necessarily a nutjob… up to this moment you thought he/she is a great person who you had lots of fun and good discussions about other topics with. Well educated, fun, smart people in my friends/acquaintances circle have suddenly completely changed (in my eyes… subjectively obviously) when it comes to topics like politics or gun control.When I didn't live here I always thought that there might be a few weird people that are easily identifiable that show such erratic behavior… but that's obviously a naive and wrong assumption.And just to clarify: The majority of people I met here definitely do NOT fit into the picture I painted above! I met lots of great people that became friends in the US that I can debate with all night with different opinions and just have a great time.4) "You are either for us or against us":One of the things that scares me the most in these kind of discussions is the exaggeration of "if you are not with me you are an enemy" attitude.To clarify: Growing up I always envied the US for their patriotism. When you grow up in Germany with it's history of cruelty and hate you basically learn that your country is nothing to be proud of. You learn that you shouldn't wave your country's flag because others might think you are a Nazi. I remember how amazed I when the soccer world cup was hosted in Germany in 2006 and suddenly everyone started wearing/waving/showing German colors. That was amazing for me as I had never seen that … and I was 25 years old at that point. In the contrary the US have always displayed the pride for their country and I liked that. No hiding, we like our country and we show it! BAM! What bugs me in the last few years since I live here is that if the topic is about something like politics, guns, healthcare, civil rights, etc some people start fearing an attack on America and it's values. I personally would argue that discussions that question the status quo are always good for a society or a country. History has shown that things change and not every decision made in the past (no matter how well intended) is still valid today under changed circumstances.For me it's weird that discussing these things is seen as an attack on America/freedom/civil rights instead of actual interest in the best possible status for this country. Or that there are topics that are categorical untouchable for that matter.5) Facts & Lies:One thing that puzzles me is that it is completely normal to present completely wrong or misconceived "facts" (or "lies" how I would call wrong facts). Don't get me wrong: Misrepresenting the truth and be vague in answers to critical questions is not US specific. This happens everywhere on every critical topic. But what surprises me is how openly here "facts" are stated that are just plain wrong . A good recent example is e.g. Wayne LaPierre's recent statement that Israel experienced a whole lot of school shootings until they beefed up armed security in schools. Now let's ignore the fact that Israel doesn't allow you to own guns in private unless you can proof that your profession or very special circumstances require this. That's not the point… the point (as made in a public response from the Israeli government) is that there has been no series of school shootings in Israel and armed security throughout public institutions in Israel have been there for a long time to deal with terrorism threats, not random crazy shooters. So LaPierre's statement is a good example of a completely wrong "fact" to underline his position in the debate.That is very different from hiding something or dancing around an answer you don't want to give or a truth you don't want to reveal. This is maybe just a technicality but it still surprises me. Because even if I would argue for the same cause/direction/topic as someone on a stage or TV or whatever public platform I would be irritated why he/she would use wrong facts to defend my position.6) Guns:Growing up in Germany I had no interaction with guns at all. Gun control is extremely strict in Germany and I didn't know a lot of people who own a gun. You have to get certified, you get background checked, you have to proof that you can store the weapons in secure storage (e.g. a safe), etc etc … so … lots of paperwork. That said there are lots of shooting clubs in Germany (it's a reputable sport) but there several restrictions in place about handling, storage and access to weapons… gun control laws. But I don't mind weapons. I obviously like everything that makes loud noises and creates a stunning physical effect upon impact. Though I have to say I'm not overly interested in guns either… if you give me the choice of driving to a range on a Saturday and shooting or sleeping in and play Xbox after…. I guess most of the times I would choose sleeping & Xbox. But then again: I can totally see why people like it and why it's a very compelling sport. The thing I don't understand is why gun control is such a taboo topic. Why can't options be discussed and brainstormed that let avid shooters that go hunting or like to compete against each other on a range continue to enjoy that … while in parallel try to improve public security? Why does this always end up in this "it's my right to bear arms" debate? Sure, yes it is. Can't we try to improve that by keeping you the right to keep your revolver or hunting rifle and get rifles designed for warzones out of the streets? And no, that obviously will not be a guarantee that powerful automatic weapons will not end up in the hands of psychos sometimes … but wouldn't reducing these chances bit by bit be a great start? Like it's normal to try and reduce DUI accidents by having the appropriate laws and police checkpoints in place? I think it should be just the normal process of improving public safety when you identified an issue… but then again I learned that I can't fully grasp these topics (see my point 1 and 2).