There are many reasons I might be called a nerd. Just last weekend I was told about the reasons being a nerd is so in fashion these days.
One of the reasons I may be a nerd has to do with my fixation of weather phenomena such as Tropical Storm Erika that forecasters are keeping an eye on as it heads to Florida. Weather radar is something that fascinates me and there is rarely a better time to get to enjoy it over a prolonged period than when a hurricane comes a’knocking.
This weekend there is a real chance that Tropical Storm Erika becomes a powerful hurricane that makes us all pay attention.
For now there are the computer models and best projections to be mindful of, but in just hours there will be a better capability to judge where landfall might take place.
The morning after the gun blazed in Virginia that required another series of headlines to race across the world about how this nation is in need of some sanity when it comes to gun control I can report at least there is a new discussion under way about fixing the problem. I am not under any illusion that anything of substance will occur. If we could not find our moral way forward after the slaughter in Sandy Hook with all those young children shot to hell and laying in pieces on the classroom floor I am not sure what needs to happen to snap the three-thumb crowd into action. But at least this morning we are talking. That is how sad and pathetic this country is when the most we can muster are words over guns.
The dramatic shootings that make the news remind us that guns are not noble instruments of freedom; they are highly dangerous machines that have some legitimate uses and many illegitimate ones. Any rational government would carefully regulate them. Instead, our leaders have declined to fix obvious loopholes in background-check systems, refused to ban wholly unnecessary high-capacity magazines, thwarted efforts to study the effects of having a society saturated with firearms and generally cowered before the lobbying might of a political fringe.
More Americans die in gun homicides and suicides every six months than have died in the last 25 years in every terrorist attack and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq combined.
■ More Americans have died from guns in the United States since 1968 than on battlefields of all the wars in American history.
■ American children are 14 times as likely to die from guns as children in other developed countries, according to David Hemenway, a Harvard professor and author of an excellent book on firearm safety.
The lesson from the ongoing carnage is not that we need a modern prohibition (that would raise constitutional issues and be impossible politically), but that we should address gun deaths as a public health crisis. To protect the public, we regulate toys and mutual funds, ladders and swimming pools. Shouldn’t we regulate guns as seriously as we regulate toys?
We need universal background checks with more rigorous screening, limits on gun purchases to one a month to reduce trafficking, safe storage requirements, serial number markings that are more difficult to obliterate, waiting periods to buy a handgun — and more research on what steps would actually save lives. If the federal government won’t act, states should lead.
Australia is a model. In 1996, after a mass shooting there, the country united behind tougher firearm restrictions. The Journal of Public Health Policy notes that the firearm suicide rate dropped by half in Australia over the next seven years, and the firearm homicide rate was almost halved.
Here in America, we can similarly move from passive horror to take steps to reduce the 92 lives claimed by gun violence in the United States daily. Surely we can regulate guns as seriously as we do cars, ladders and swimming pools.
Many politicians will focus on the gunman’s troubled personality and try to cast this shooting as a summons for better mental health care, certainly not gun control. Yet that ignores a grim reality: the estimated 300 million guns in America owned by a third of the population, far more per capita than any other modern nation. Guns are ubiquitous and easy to acquire, as statehouse politicians, particularly Republicans, genuflect to the gun lobby to weaken, not tighten, gun safety.
We all know no change is likely, for all the social media grotesquerie. The woeful truth underlying this latest shooting is more mundane than alarming. There are too many guns, and too little national will to do anything about them.
The Federal Aviation Administration says a crop-dusting plane has crashed near Hancock, In Waushara County. FAA spokesman Tony Molinaro says the pilot was the only person on board the Weatherly 620B single-engine plane when it went down Wednesday. The pilot was killed.
The crash was off Cty. Rd C between 2nd Ave. and Brown Deer Ct. This was less than a mile from our family home on County KK.
How slow was the news week In Waushara County?
The local paper, the Waushara Argus, arrived in my mailbox today. Featured above the fold was this huge story for all to read.
How To Treat Bee and Hornet Stings.
This is simply stunning.
This paper cries out for an editor and a news team that cares about the role a small hometown type paper can serve for all the local communities. I am flummoxed how this paper fails at the mission of newspapering.
This is simply a non-starter when it comes to a college education. College should be about opening the mind to all sorts of thinking and if the kids are not ready to accept that responsibility they should go home and flip burgers. Let their place in college be taken by someone who wants to embrace the world of learning.
As college students across the country stream onto campuses this week, Duke University’s The Chronicle reports that “some” members of the Class of 2019 were refusing to read a book assigned to them this summer as part of the elite school’s Common Experience Summer Reading program.
It’s unclear how many of Duke’s 1,750 incoming students skipped Alison Bechdel’s highly-acclaimed 2006 graphic-novel style memoir Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic. That anyone admitted to a top university would purposely ignore their first assignment is, first and foremost, sad. These students have denied themselves a great read. The book, beautifully written and illustrated, won numerous literary awards and inspired a Broadway musical that swept the Tonys this spring. It’s a bittersweet story detailing Bechdel’s life growing up with a closeted gay father “who killed himself a few months after I came out to my parents as a lesbian.” Heavy stuff, for sure, but higher education is about examining the heavy stuff. Through her unique lens, Bechdel explores the themes of family, growing up and self-acceptance; themes we all can relate to.
What’s really disappointing, however, are the reasons students have given for refusing to read the book. According to The Chronicle, they think it’s pornographic. When I heard that, I grabbed my copy off the shelf to find the porn I apparently missed the first time around. I’m not sure how one labels a book pornographic without actually reading it, of course. Maybe it’s a new twist on the Stewart test: I know it when I don’t see it? Either way, it represents the antithesis of education, which requires both the opening of books and the opening of minds.
Some campaign facts are just too amusing not to share. That is the case this morning with news about Rick Perry and Rick Santorum.
A majority of the 2012 donors to former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum who’ve given this time have defected to other candidates, according to an analysis by Crowdpac.com, a nonpartisan political research company.
The donor disloyalty is contributing to financial woes in both of their campaigns. Perry stopped paying most of his staffers, and much of Santorum’s top staff left to start a super PAC, which is free of contribution limits.
As the only two members of a 17-person presidential field who competed in 2012, Perry and Santorum should have among the strongest, most up-to-date fundraising bases. Santorum won 11 primary states, lasting until April 2012 when Mitt Romney secured the nomination. Perry bowed out in January but was a strong early fundraiser.
But four years later, many of their donors have eyes for others: Perry counted 470 return supporters, while 557 went with other candidates. For Santorum, 257 of his past presidential contributors gave to him again, while 414 put their money elsewhere, the data show.