First and foremost, KayAnn just called to tell me that the 1 cm. spot they found on her breast is just that.  A 1 cm malignant lump that is contained JUST to that 1 cm.  In all likelihood, she won’t need a mastectomy but will only need a lumpectomy.  She could barely contain her excitement, and who could blame her!  She’s going to go ahead and go to California to visit her family on Saturday, as she had previously planned.  But now she doesn’t have to worry about how to tell her daughter she has cancer.  Thank the goddess!

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Mowgli is gone from American Idol!  When Ryan Seacrest delivered the good bad news to him, our entire household erupted into shouts of pleasure — so much so that two of the three cats scattered for cover.

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Speaking of Idol, does anyone besides me think that Jordin Sparks has a phenomenal voice?  She could put out a country album and I’d buy it.  I’d likely buy any album she’ll put out.  I predict Jordin will be in the last three standing and, possibly, even in the top two, competing against Melinda Doolittle.

I was also surprised to see Blake in the bottom three but he really didn’t have a good “country” week.  He’ll pick back up next week and be back in stride, though.

Lakisha needs to step up her game, as she seems to be sliding slowly downward.

Chris and Phil just need to go…and hopefully they’ll be the next two voted off.

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I’ve held off commenting about the Virginia Tech shootings because I am still struggling to put my thoughts into order.  I’m not sure what kind of good order they’re in yet, but here are some of my thoughts while observing all that has happened.

GUN CONTROL is still needed in this country.  I’m sick to death of hearing “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”  WRONG.  People with guns kill people.  Here is a guy who, by court ruling, was deemed an “imminent danger” to himself.  While he denied suicidal thoughts during a psychological evaluation, that doesn’t make him not a danger to himself or others.  Sorry folks, but I’m a big proponent of gun control and, along with that, a national database that contains the names of people who have been deemed a danger to themselves or others, that would prohibit them from being able to buy any kinds of firearms.  Names would only be removed from that database if the individual concerned has proven to no longer be a danger, and can remain that way for a specified period of time.  Guns are the single best way to commit mass murders such as this.  Without the ability to waltz in off the street and buy a gun, the only option left for someone as disturbed as this guy was is to kill his victims the way Richard Speck killed his — up close and personal, one at a time, with a knife or other hand weapon.  The odds of 33 deaths in this manner?  Slim to none.  Guns attract crazies.  Guns make it easy to kill indiscriminately.  Guns have been involved in too many tragedies in our schools and places of work and recreation.  The shootings at McDonalds,  the Oklahoma Post Office, GMAC, Luby’s Cafeteria, the Long Island Railroad, Columbine, the Amish school, and a Mall in Salt Lake City are all very real, and very chilling reminders of just how deadly guns in the hands of unstable people can be.  Guns that can be purchased by anyone, without any control and without any more justification than “I want….”

Gun control opponents rationalize that, were guns more accessible, those students that were attacked would have been able to defend themselves.  The gunslinging days of the Old West proved that carrying guns invites violence either against the gun carrier, or by the gun carrier.  This is a bullshit argument.

While it’s easy to sit back and play armchair quarterback, I still think that law enforcement and the college’s administration under-reacted to the early events of the morning.  Sources indicate that it was thought that the initial shooting was a murder-suicide but, without anything more than a theory, and without a gun or a shooter in custody, that campus should have gone into lockdown and classes canceled so that students would not come to campus.  Thirty lives could have been spared.  That is a mistake that the president of VT and the chief of police and campus security will have to live with for the rest of their lives.

There is no pat answer for how to handle the mentally ill who have verbalized or otherwise expressed violent ideation.  The VT shooter’s creative writing projects were so violently disturbing as to warrant his removal from class and subsequent referral to counseling.  But what makes his writings any different than the folks who write such crap as Friday the Thirteenth, Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, Child’s Play, Scream and other violence and gore-filled movies?  How do we tell the difference between healthy creativity and psychotic imaginings?  Is there really any difference at all?  And, before anyone thinks psychiatrists are to blame, I’d like to offer a bit of a defense for them.  Psychiatrists can only help people who want help.  While they are trained to recognize certain behaviors and symptoms of mental illness, their role as diagnosticians is based largely on the information that comes to them from other sources, and from the individual themselves.  If that information is limited, then the psychiatrist’s role can only be limited, unless that individual opens up completely to the doctor. 

Finally, how do we protect people from guys like Cho Seung-hui without violating basic civil rights?  Not all mentally ill people are dangerous.  Some people exhibit behaviors which, to some people, seem bizarre or extremely odd, but does that make them dangerous?  Howard Hughes locked himself in his home, urinating in jars, not showering or grooming for up to a year and suffering badly from OCD, but did that make him dangerous?  Winston Churchill was bi-polar (or, more accurately, had Cyclothymia, a less severe form of BPD).   Patti Duke was manic depressive.  Kristy McNicol’s depression was debilitating.  Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt, beloved American presidents, suffered from debilitating depressions.  Pablo Picasso was schizophrenic.  How do we differentiate the bizarrely quirky people from the dangerous psychotics?  And, if we CAN make that differentiation, what do we do about them?  Lock them up, just in case?  Force pills down their throats?  How do we strike that balance between civil liberties and public safety?

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This morning a local high school dismissed its students at 9:30 after three unspent bullets were found in a bathroom trash can.

Another local school has been on a heightened state of alert for the week, as reports of threats and a MySpace posting has put people on edge.

It saddens me to think that our schools could become the new battleground for society.

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My son’s best friend, Tim, is making a name for himself in baseball down in Lynchburg, Virginia at Liberty University.  Not only is Tim a hell of a baseball player, but was a dual sport scholarship recipient at St. John Fisher College his freshman year — as an outstanding wide receiver in football, and an excellent hitter in baseball.

Hopefully he’ll remember the little people when he signs that $100 million contract.

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