Those Pesky Gun Laws

J.W.

Just One Girl ♥

“What? Gun control?! The government is coming for my guns- what about my second amendment rights?” I’m sure you’ve heard someone, somewhere say these kinds of things. Am I right? Of course I am. Whether it’s your uncle Al the proud gun owner, your own parents, or the media, you’ve most likely heard these things. The problem is knowing how true those statements are and what these statements are taking away from the truth.

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Get the Boot!

J.W.

ipledgeafallegiance

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Filibuster: The English term “filibuster” derives from the Spanish filibustero, itself deriving originally from the Dutch vrijbuiter, meaning “privateer, pirate, or robber”. It is also the root of the English word Freebooter.

The use of the filibuster in the American Senate was a tactic used to delay or prevent the passage of legislation, usually opposed by a minority of members. In years past, real filibusters rarely happened since they required opposition senators to go to the effort of standing on their feet and speaking continuously for hours on end. Only the most intense and dedicated opposition would mount filibusters.

However, the “traditional” filibuster custom was significantly changed only a few years ago to allow senators to “filibuster” without actually speaking and consuming their own time. That would be equivalent to you not having to go to work and do your job but still being able to say that…

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The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the Extended Edition

J.W.

The Cortex

UPDATE: I saw The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in 48 frames-per-second 3D. I felt that this format deserved its own article. Check it out here.

BENJAMIN ZAUGG: Right at the beginning of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, there is a wonderful scene depicting Thrór, the Dwarf King of Erebor, surrounded by mountains of gold, going completely mad with greed and power. As I watched the rest of the film I would frequently find myself recalling that scene and substituting that Dwarf King with Peter Jackson.

At a little over 300 pages long, the original paperback of The Hobbit is a rather and short straightforward tale. Originally, Peter Jackson was going to tackle it in two films, adding some backstory/sidestory elements to fill out two separate features. This was a bit of a surprise, but given Jackson’s relatively strong track record I was cautiously optimistic. When I heard that he was…

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Django Unchained (2012)

I love you, Quentin Tarantino.J.W.

The Soul of the Plot

posterDjango Unchained is my first Tarantino film, so I was pretty psyched to see it. People who like Tarantino seem to really like him, and I couldn’t take missing out on this powerful cultural force much longer. When I found out Tarantino was coming out with a new film this year, I watched the trailer and made a deal with myself that if I liked Django I would watch some more of Tarantino’s films and it looks like I’ll have to now.

Django Unchained is the story of a slave, Django (Jamie Foxx) who is freed by Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) because he knows what the Brittle Brothers look like. Schultz is a bounty hunter hunting down the Brittle Brothers and he needs Django’s help because he doesn’t know what they look like. So they team up, and it works out pretty well. They kill the Brittle Brothers within…

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There’s A Difference Between Private & Personal

superpoke

Great read. — J.W.

TechCrunch

While most of us were enjoying the holidays with our families all over the world, someone who is related to the CEO of Facebook posted a photo of her family to friends, and then some journalist person downloaded it and tweeted it.

There’s a real difference between something being private and something being personal. And that, as the aforementioned incident highlights, is a notion that a lot of people — including Randi Zuckerberg — have forgotten, online and off. What I mean by this is that just because you post something online, doesn’t mean it’s meant for public consumption. Yes, this all sounds very conflated, and yes, Facebook privacy controls are about as easy to understand as left-handed scissors for a right-handed person.

However, somewhere in this slow news big news cycle, publications started to tell the story that said Facebook CEO’s sister clearly didn’t understand Facebook’s privacy controls

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Losing One’s Mind

Jackson Williams.

lilyboat

Can one give too much of oneself into a work to the extent of losing one’s mind and become mad?

If so, Montaigne seems to think it a waste, to destroy oneself in such a way. Torquato Tasso, the Italian poet, who produced “Gerusalemme liberata(The Liberation of Jerusalem)”, had lost his mind and was confined to a madhouse. The exhausting literary industry strained his health, and the poet presumably suffered from something that appears to be schizophrenia.

To quote Richard Holmes, “To find your subject, you must in some sense lose yourself along the way.” 

In that case, Tasso more than found his subject.

Or what about Douglas Day, Malcolm Lowry biographer who, later, ended his own life in the same way(a suicide) as his subject Mr. Lowry has done?

I spent quite some time discovering some bits about Liberation of Jerusalem by Torquato Tasso today. This English version…

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Fareed Zakaria & The Culture of Gun Violence in America

(the article is by Fareed Zakeria, and you can read the original copy HERE….)

Announcing Wednesday that he would send proposals on reducing gun violence in America to Congress, President Obama mentioned a number of sensible gun-control measures. But he also paid homage to the Washington conventional wisdom about the many and varied causes of this calamity — from mental health issues to school safety. His spokesman, Jay Carney, had said earlier that this is “a complex problem that will require a complex solution.” Gun control, Carney added, is far from the only answer.

In fact, the problem is not complex, and the solution is blindingly obvious.

People point to three sets of causes when talking about events such as the Newtown, Conn., shootings. First, the psychology of the killer; second, the environment of violence in our popular culture; and, third, easy access to guns. Any one of these might explain a single shooting. What we should be trying to understand is not one single event but why we have so many of them. The number of deaths by firearms in the United States was 32,000 last year. Around 11,000 were gun homicides.

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To understand how staggeringly high this number is, compare it to the rate in other rich countries. England and Wales have about 50 gun homicides a year — 3 percent of our rate per 100,000 people. Many people believe that America is simply a more violent, individualistic society. But again, the data clarify. For most crimes — theft, burglary, robbery, assault — the United States is within the range of other advanced countries. The category in which the U.S. rate is magnitudes higher is gun homicides.

The U.S. gun homicide rate is 30 times that of France or Australia, according to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, and 12 times higher than the average for other developed countries.

So what explains this difference? If psychology is the main cause, we should have 12 times as many psychologically disturbed people. But we don’t. The United States could do better, but we take mental disorders seriously and invest more in this area than do many peer countries.

Is America’s popular culture the cause? This is highly unlikely, as largely the same culture exists in other rich countries. Youth in England and Wales, for example, are exposed to virtually identical cultural influences as in the United States. Yet the rate of gun homicide there is a tiny fraction of ours. The Japanese are at the cutting edge of the world of video games. Yet their gun homicide rate is close to zero! Why? Britain has tough gun laws. Japan has perhaps the tightest regulation of guns in the industrialized world.

The data in social science are rarely this clear. They strongly suggest that we have so much more gun violence than other countries because we have far more permissive laws than others regarding the sale and possession of guns. With 5 percent of the world’s population, the United States has 50 percent of the guns.

There is clear evidence that tightening laws — even in highly individualistic countries with long traditions of gun ownership — can reduce gun violence. In Australia, after a 1996 ban on all automatic and semiautomatic weapons — a real ban, not like the one we enacted in 1994 with 600-plus exceptions — gun-related homicides dropped 59 percent over the next decade. The rate of suicide by firearm plummeted 65 percent. (Almost 20,000 Americans die each year using guns to commit suicide — a method that is much more successful than other forms of suicide.)

There will always be evil or disturbed people. And they might be influenced by popular culture. But how is government going to identify the darkest thoughts in people’s minds before they have taken any action? Certainly those who urge that government be modest in its reach would not want government to monitor thoughts, curb free expression, and ban the sale of information and entertainment.

Instead, why not have government do something much simpler and that has proven successful: limit access to guns. And not another toothless ban, riddled with exceptions, which the gun lobby would use to “prove” that such bans don’t reduce violence.

Fareed Zakaria.

Jackson Williams.