Video of the day

Two dogs interrupting a Turkish soccer match.  Pretty damn entertaining:

Photo of the day

National Geographic put together a great gallery celebrating their 125 years.  Love this one:

Picture of primatologist Jane Goodall

A touching moment between primatologist and National Geographic grantee Jane Goodall and young chimpanzee Flint at Tanzania’s Gombe Stream Reserve in 1965.


How the US is different

Great tweet from David Frum:

Also, why is it that we have more violent people.  Do they not have violent video games and movies in the rest of the world?

Chart of the day

This is cool (via Planet Money).  Occupations by how deadly they are.  I did know that fisherman topped the list (thanks to reading A Perfect Storm).  Who would’ve guessed that firefighter is safer than average.

Job-Related Deaths

The flu vaccine– it’s not just about you

Love the title of this brief post by Michael Specter, “For God’s Sake, Go Get a Flu Shot.”  Exactly.  It’s not just about you:

On Friday, a highly educated, very smart colleague at The New Yorker explained her decision to remain unvaccinated with these words: “I never get a flu shot, and I never get the flu.”

O.K. Let’s play her game. Turn to whomever you are with and say these sentences out loud: “I never wear seat belts, and I never get killed in car crashes;” “I never use condoms, and I never become infected with sexually transmitted diseases;” “I eat red meat seven times a week, only exercise once a year, and I’ve never had a heart attack or a stroke.”

When it comes to influenza, most people are denialists.

And here’s why it really matters:

Even if you think you are invincible, your elderly neighbors and infant children are not. People with weakened immune systems—those undergoing cancer treatments, for example—are not. Your parents and grandparents are not. The flu vaccine is not perfect, but it’s what we have. It’s available at drug-store chains and malls, big-box superstores and, naturally, at your doctor’s office. Get one today.

Quite simply, by getting a flu shot you dramatically reduce the possibility that you will serve as a vector of influenza.  The fewer vectors of influenza, the fewer people get the disease.  The fewer people who get the disease, the fewer people die.  That’s it.  Of course, the likelihood that in your individual case you will pass the virus onto someone with a undeveloped or weakened immune system if fairly small, but multiply that by society, and you can count on it happening every day.  With all vaccines, it’s simply not just about you.

Is my teenager smarter than the NRA?

Really interesting piece in the Post about how the NRA used to be an organization devoted to sportsmen and the safe use of guns to one completely taken over by gun fanatics in 1977:

The Old Guard was caught by surprise. The NRA officers sat up front, on a dais, observing their demise. The organization, about a century old already, was thoroughly mainstream and bipartisan, focusing on hunting, conservation and marksmanship. It taught Boy Scouts how to shoot safely. But the world had changed, and everything was more political now. The rebels saw the NRA leaders as elites who lacked the heart and conviction to fight against gun-control legislation.

Anyway, this particular bit, in addition to some other recent reading, really got me thinking:

“We must declare that there are no shades of gray in American freedom. It’s black and white, all or nothing,” Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said at an NRA annual meeting in 2002, a message that the organization has reiterated at almost every opportunity since.

Could this statement really be any more facile?  Seriously.  Just completely intellectually bankrupt.  Entirely oblivious to the fact that many freedoms necessarily come into conflict with others and that freedoms have consequences.

Anyway, Political Scientist Bill Ayres (no relation to the domestic terrorist, unless you count Political Science as domestic terrorism) had a really nice post on the zero-sum world of NRA thinking:

Wayne LaPierre’s now-famous “good guy with a gun” formulation gives the game away. It isn’t that his claim about bad guys and good guys was meant to be an analysis of the world, or a political argument to sway others. It was simply a reflection of the worldview of the current NRA leadership. In that view, there are good guys and bad guys, and conflicts between them are resolved when the good guys win and the bad guys lose.

Their approach to everything is therefore rooted in zero-sum thinking. Either I win or you do; we cannot both get something, because how can “good” and “bad” coexist? Accordingly, they don’t want to “contribute to a national conversation” or “influence policy” or do anything that most of us would think of as political participation. They want to win, pure and simple, and regard anything less than winning as loss. To them, the fight is existential.

So, back to the title of the post.  The combination of these two pieces basically had me thinking that the leaders of the NRA are basically stuck in a pre-adolescent mind-set where the world is entirely black and white.  So, my 13-year old is presumably not “smarter” than the NRA leadership, but I think it is fair to say that he has more sophisticated moral judgment, as he has, in fact, come to see that the world exists in complex shades of gray where there are few absolutes and not everything is zero sum.

In short, if you want to understand the thinking of the gun nuts, you just need to think like a pre-adolescent.  Sadly, some people never get beyond that.

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