In re: Economist addresses the issue, even if we won’t

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The Economist, a publication I strive to read religiously, often puts forth opinions I agree with (it is a British conservative publication, which puts it somewhere in our center, although they often have more liberal stances on the environment etc then we have) Either-way, if your looking to get a good opinion on the tragedy in Virginia I’d recommend grabbing this weeks issue (comes out Thursdays, I get it in Monday’s mail) below is this weeks preview from the editor:

“Dear reader,
There are plenty of dangerous products—illegal drugs, fast cars and alcohol for instance—where The Economist advocates a much more liberal approach than the American government takes. Guns are an exception. In the wake of the massacre at Virginia Tech, virtually none of America’s politicians mentioned gun control—except quickly to rule it out. We think this is a tragic mistake, and make the case for a proper debate about guns on our cover….”

John Micklethwait
John Micklethwait
Editor in Chief

In re: Handgun ban? not likely…

images2.jpgEvents like those at VA Tech usually get people talking about the laws concerning guns, although at this point its unclear what arguments will emerge (some have already blamed gun laws for not allowing students guns to defend themselves with), what is clear already is that the guns used in the shootings were legally purchased in Virginia, which has some of the weakest gun control laws in the Union and apparently the ammo types used wouldn’t have been legal under the now expired Brady Bill. I will only briefly stand on my soap box and repeat what I’ve long believed, that handguns should be illegal in the US. I know that this isn’t something that would get me elected and puts me in debates from time to time with my gun loving friends, but basically the way I see it there is absolutely no reason to justify ordinary citizens having handguns.

“The International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA), an activist group, counts 41 school shootings in America since 1996, which have claimed 110 lives, including those in Virginia this week. IANSA also looks at school shootings in 80 other countries. Culling from media reports, they count only 14 school gun killings outside America in the same period. Putting aside the Beslan massacre in Russia—committed by an organised terrorist group—school shootings in all those countries claimed just 59 victims.

As striking are the overall rates of violent death by handguns in America. The country is filled with 200m guns, half the world’s privately-owned total.” (See The Economist: Guns in America: After the Massacre)

I know about the constitution, and the ‘right to bear arms’ but my little argument against that stems on the advances in weaponry since the drafters penned the almighty 2nd (“A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” (see Wikipedia) there is also the more common textual argument that is frequently made by some scholars that drafters were only referring to military usage of weapons – there is strong argument the bear arms was a term of art that specifically means military). Anyway, what my argument is that no framer could have understood the possibility that one person could enter a building and kill so many people, in their day and age you might get at most a few shots (inaccurate shots most likely as well) before needing to slowly reload, never would it be imagined that individuals would be able to rampage on such a scale.

So why ban handguns? Well, they have only one purpose as I see it, killing people. If you want to defend your house, use a shotgun, but I don’t think its appropriate to walk the streets strapped with a gun (Ohio thinks differently) but if you want to fend off attackers, behold the wonders of mace. In England where handguns are illegal (Britain has a minimum five-year sentence for possession of an illegal firearm) the main threat for robbery is mace and those carrying cash to armored cars have that as their man concern, wearing masks to protect themselves – although there are major arguments against the handgun ban, it is clear they reduce greatly death “Handguns are completely illegal in Britain, which recorded only 46 homicides involving firearms all of last year. By contrast there were 579 gun homicides last year in New York City alone.” (AP)

There is a good article in the Times (UK) about the debate following the VA Tech shootings, the argument that if only students had been armed they would have been able to defend themselves (just one more thing to put in my bag for class?) and the counter arguments. I recommend it – see “Tragedy will not decide gun control debate “

“It is one thing to defend gun rights when the sentimental image of the pioneer still has some truth, if only in the north woods of the Appalachians. It is another when the pioneers have carved up the country into small suburban lots and cannot escape the neighbours.”

In re: Colleges come together to support VA Tech

Across the country colleges are coming together to support and pray for VA Tech, OSU yesterday had what I thought was a good way to honor the tragedy by having the chimes of “Orton Hall, on the Oval…play[ed] the Virginia Tech alma mater in memory of those individuals who lost their lives Monday on the campus of Virginia Tech University.”  To see more on what other Ohio colleges were doing see here

In re: Tragedy

n2318678125_36514.jpgThere isn’t much I can add to the massacre at Virginia Tech where at least 32 students were murdered by a classmate yesterday. I learned the news at work and was numbed by the numbers and the horror. I still remember 9/11 and my feelings on that frightful day and possibly because of that I turned to my undergraduate colleges website, also a Virginia public school to learn how they were dealing with the tragedy.

Unfortunately I don’t think there really is a good way to prevent these types of senseless, crazy, random, acts of horror. While reports are now coming out about the supposed killers writings, attitude in classes, etc. it is really just too much to think that we will be able to pick out ahead of time those who are merely suffering from a tough saga in their life and those who will do the unthinkable. Inevitably people will talk security, the problems with VTs response to the mornings shootings, VAs gun laws, but the reality is that if someone sets out to do this, we unfortunately are going to have a difficult time stopping them.

I found an interesting article on Slate that looked ahead to what media criticism will likely be forthcoming and looks at the difficulty in reporting on tragedy, why our media goes into full force on them, especially for senseless tragedy…

“A commuter jet falls out of the sky in Indiana, killing 32 people. It’s a big story, but reporters don’t fan out across the land to collect the sorrows of the surviving families. The topic doesn’t fill the entire news hole. But if a student slays 32 young innocents, the press goes into overtime. Why should only the latter calamity rise to the level of a national obsession?

Because not all random, tragic deaths are equally horrifying. We handle accidental deaths by blaming fate, and then eventually make our peace. But murders committed at random discompose us at a primal level. They rob us of the false sense of security we use each night to tuck our children in to sleep.” -Slate ‘In Praise of Insensitive Reporters: We’d hate them even more if they didn’t overcover the VT story

The other aspect of the story that is extremely interesting (and that Slate also wrote upon)is the way ‘new media’ that being the internet, blogs, facebook, myspace, etc. were involved in the development of the story.  Some students put out early coverage of the events on their online journals, becoming the primary early sources and leading journalists to pounce upon their posts, seeking interviews and comments from these folks.  In the comments of one such journal posters blasted the journalists who sought to exploit the situation, but one poster pointed out the rare opportunity to report from inside an event.  “Sitting in his dorm room, Bryce experienced a new kind of 15 minutes: writing in what had yesterday been a near-private journal and had now become a soapbox to the world. He was willing to talk to the media. But other students were not—after their entries were discovered, they rapidly set their journals and MySpace pages to friends-only.” (see here for story)

Collateral damage from Don Imus remark: Gov. Corzine?

As you’re probably aware, while on his way to the Governor’s mansion to oversee the “apology” from Don Imus to the Rutgers women’s basketball team, the Governor of New Jersey Jon Corzine was seriously injured (including multiple fractures to his ribs and legs sternum, collar bone, and lower vertebra) in a car accident.  The governor still is in critical condition following the accident — he lost about half of the blood in his body from the accident and during surgery.  Unfortunately, Gov. Corzine was not wearing his seat belt in the front passenger side of the SUV.  Of course, all of our thoughts and prayers are with the Governor for his recovery.

I do wonder, though, why the Governor was supposed to be involved in the whole Don Imus meeting anyway.  I heard that the Rutgers basketball team has a lot of players from New Jersey, but I guess I still wonder why anyone in the Governor’s Office thought that the Governor himself should be the one to mediate the Don Imus controversy.  It seems to me a somewhat odd duty to throw at the Governor.  In fact, he didn’t even get to the meeting because of the accident, yet the Rutgers team and Don Imus were able to handle the meeting on their own.  Maybe it was the Governor’s idea?  But if it was the idea of someone else in his office, I think it’s fair to question the judgment of that person now.

In re: Suing a blogger…

Maybe not the greatest idea we learn from the saga of TN blogger Katherine Coble, who posted her opinion of an encounter with a headhunting firm, only to get a demand letter from King & Ballow, a law firm that apparently doesn’t spend enough time researching the law (specifically on comments) that is emerging around blog posts, as well as the more traditional subject matter of free speech and expression.  Anyway, the issue has blown up, garnered much greater exposure to the negative review of JL Kirk & Associates (the headhunting firm).  Its an interesting story that is set out in detail at BillHobbes.com

In re: Ringtones may be the new music industry

“There’s no question that Akon’s stuff sounds best braying from a Motorola Razr.”

-“Lord of the Ringtones: How Akon became a star” at Slate

If you haven’t purchased $1.99 ringtones yourself you may be in the shrinking minority. The craze hadn’t seemed to have hit the states as hard when I went to study abroad in college, but while in Europe you’d be hard pressed to find a commercial segment on a TV show without an ad listing how to buy ringtones in various countries. Well today in the US apparently the market for the snippets of songs is huge and music companies are increasingly relying on this source of revenue. Thankfully certain artists have stepped up to the plate and in a interesting article on Slate the singer/rapper Akon is the target as his music is declared to be pretty weak, but his jingle-esq hooks make them perfect for ringtones.

“As for Akon’s hooks: They’re little jingles, of four or so notes, generally in minor keys. In truth, they’re not really proper choruses so much as advertisements for ringtones, which, as any music-industry analyst will tell you, is where the real money is these days.” (Slate)

In re: Crazy weekend of snow moves Indians to Milwaukee?

Sunday was Easter and I woke up only to find that indeed the blizzard of lake effect snow that had canceled the Indians games all weekend had continued, bringing to a total about 17 inches at my parents house. Thankfully Sunday afternoon when I got back to Columbus there was zero evidence of snow and it was a good deal warmer. The Cleveland Indians also escaped Cleveland’s weather by making the strange move to a neutral site, in Wisconsin of all places, where the weather wouldn’t be much nicer, but thanks to the dome the series against the Angels would proceed. For some reason I was pretty fascinated by the neutral site game, (I also found it interesting to see the Italian soccer games played in empty stadiums after the death of a police officer outside a game in Sicily earlier this season). So I tuned into the Indians game tonight expecting a similar empty house of probably a few thousand curious fans who’d bite at the $10 sit where you want system.

Those of us expecting small crowds were dead wrong, and the game proved to be quite exciting with the crowd getting into it, Slider, the Indians mascot sliding down the Milwaukee slide after home-runs, the traditional sausage race taking place (Chorizo lost at the last minute to Italian sausage) and throughout it all fans kept streaming in, filling up the areas that were allotted for the game (upper deck was closed, so was the outfield).

“Some speculated the Indians’ three-game, home-away-from-home series against the Angels would be played in front of empty seats and lonely concession workers. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.By 6 p.m. ET Tuesday, an hour before game time, nearly 12,000 tickets were sold for the series opener. By the third inning, more than 18,000 had been sold and fans were still pouring in. The final attendance was 19,031, and a similar crowd was expected for Wednesday night.” (See Indians.com)

Also the Indians smartly flew in longtime Indian fan and drummer John Adams who goes to nearly every home game at Jacobs field. A great success, I really enjoyed the game. Baseball the way it was meant to be… “it was a night for the fan. Luxury suites were closed. The front rows weren’t filled with suits and ties, but rather college kids and families who otherwise wouldn’t get a chance to get an up close view of America’s pastime.” (Espn.com)

On a completely different note, I just heard a cover of the song Crazy by Gnarls Barkley, performed by Ray LaMontagne, I was pretty impressed, if you know anything about Ray’s singing (and the song Crazy) you might think it a strange choice of covers, but it works really well (I really like covers that are completely different then the originals, Iron & Wines cover of the Such Great Heights being an example, then I found that Nelly Furtado did a cover of Crazy as well, but was less enthused.) You can hear the song on YouTube, not sure who made the video,

Baseball + Snow in Cleveland on Opening Day

This is what Ed was talking about.

In re: Baseball & Snow

So when you hear snow and sports you might first think of biathlon, or maybe the NFL, but surely not baseball, they train in spring for goodness sakes. Yet for some reason today the Cleveland Indians opened up at home, in front of a sold out stadium, (not sure how many folks braved the cold to go down) only to be delayed by the snow and then postponed by the snow. Further complicating the whole issue was MLB’s stupidity in scheduling Seattle, who plays just once all season in Cleveland in the prime position for potential cancellation – first. Why not have Cleveland start with a 10 game road trip, I know most fans here can wait before bundling up and heading down to the Jake.

Hopefully tomorrow they get it in and Mike Hargroves wiley tactics (Seattle’s Manager, former Indians Manager) don’t get in the way of the trip starting off their homestand on a win. All I know is that tomorrow night (why a night game is beyond me) I’ll be bundled up ready to see my first game in the snow, because apparently that’s what ‘spring’ baseball in Cleveland is all about.  For more on the strange game today (that never actually happened) see here.

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