Video of the day

Friend shared this on FB.  Thought it was pretty cool.  Best explanation I’ve ever seen for thinking about empathy vs. sympathy.  If nothing else, I’m going to try and remove the phrase “at least” from my vocabulary.

For the kids!

I just have to say that I’m so tired of kids safety being used to justify anything, no matter how non-sensical.  It’s cold all across the country.  For Raleigh, NC tomorrow, that means temperatures pretty similar to a typical January day in Madison, Wisconsin.  Morning low somewhere around 10, highs in low to mid 20’s.  Very cold for these parts, surely not worth the over-reaction of all the local school systems starting two hours late so that kids can be out in weather that is 16 degrees instead of 13 degrees, so some similar difference.

All over FB, I’ve seen this justified about kids’ safety.  Same from my school board member who replied to my well-reasoned complaint with “safety first!”  Parents in Wisconsin and Minnesota don’t love their kids because they make them go to school in the winter?  But we’re not used to it here– kids don’t even have winter coats– I hear.  What?  This is not Miami.  There’s a bunch of days in January and February that start out in the 20’s.  10 degrees?  No, but your kids still damn sure needs a winter coat and a hat for those days.

Of course, there is a cost to this.  A serious inconvenience and huge loss of economic productivity for literally tens of thousands of working parents (yes, including yours truly).  Now, if we are talking an actual threat to kids safety, i.e., snow or ice which are infrastructure is unequipped to handle, that’s one thing.  But how many kids would really get exposure because they’re out there at 7am in 11 degrees but will be spared the suffering at 9am in 14 degrees?  How many buses that wouldn’t start at 10 degrees will start at 13?  It’s all just so stupid!  But everybody’s okay with it because “it’s for kids’ safety!”  Ugh.

Yes, the gun manufacturers are evil (and crazy)

I normally just pick on the NRA, but as I’ve written before, the NRA is basically just a shill for the gun manufacturers.  Every single policy that advocate is that which will lead to more guns being sold (which is not necessarily in the interests of their actual membership and your run-of-the-mill gun lover).  Interesting article in the Times yesterday about a long-time gun journalist who has been ostracized for basically saying that, like any other Constitutional right, the 2nd amendment has limits.  The horror, the horror.  Limits!

In late October, Mr. Metcalf wrote a column that the magazine titled “Let’s Talk Limits,” which debated gun laws. “The fact is,” wrote Mr. Metcalf, who has taught history at Cornell and Yale, “all constitutional rights are regulated, always have been, and need to be.”

The backlash was swift, and fierce. Readers threatened to cancel their subscriptions. Death threats poured in by email. His television program was pulled from the air.

Just days after the column appeared, Mr. Metcalf said, his editor called to tell him that two major gun manufacturers had said “in no uncertain terms” that they could no longer do business with InterMedia Outdoors, the company that publishes Guns & Ammo and co-produces his TV show, if he continued to work there. He was let go immediately.  [emphasis mine]

“I’ve been vanished, disappeared,” Mr. Metcalf, 67, said in an interview last month on his gun range here, about 100 miles north of St. Louis, surrounded by snow-blanketed fields and towering grain elevators. “Now you see him. Now you don’t.”

I shouldn’t have to explain that the first amendment does not give you the right to shout “fire” in a crowded theater or that the fourth amendment does not prevent the police from searching you for weapons just after they’ve seen you shoot somebody.  But to the gun nut crowd, apparently any limits are anathema:

Moderate voices that might broaden the discussion from within are silenced. When writers stray from the party line promoting an absolutist view of an unfettered right to bear arms, their publications — often under pressure from advertisers — excommunicate them.

“We are locked in a struggle with powerful forces in this country who will do anything to destroy the Second Amendment,” said Richard Venola, a former editor of Guns & Ammo. “The time for ceding some rational points is gone.”

Love Bill Ayers‘ take on this:

To borrow a phrase, them’s fighin’ words. More specifically, they are a declaration of a state of war – a belief that there exists some group (however nebulous) of fellow Americans with whom both compromise and coexistence are impossible. No dialogue, discussion, or illuminating debate can take place. It is simply a zero-sum power struggle. It’s them or us. The fact that this is consistent with much of the “self-defense thinking” of this same subculture is no accident – this is a mentality built entirely around existential zero-sum thinking.

This is not the worldview of a citizen in a wealthy, prosperous republic. This is the worldview of a religious fanatic determined at all costs to impose their view upon the rest of the world.[emphasis mine] And it is, unfortunately, a self-sustaining system: when others point out (as the fired columnist did) that absolutism is not how our system is supposed to work, that is taken as opposition that must be eliminated and proof that they are under existential threat.

Bingo.  There’s a reason I call them the gun nuts.   I really strenuously disagree with conservatives on all sorts of issues, but there’s usually at least an underlying strain of rationality there.  We just disagree on how to perceive the state of the world or the best solutions.  But when it comes to guns, this is just a completely different animal.  People who have nothing but disdain for “rational” arguments should not be part of the policy process in a democracy.

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