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:: Saturday, May 31, 2003 ::

More New Reading

A readable lefty blog, Badattitudes Journal. The author is a former newspaper reporter, but he seems to be able write pretty well anyway.
While politically I don't find right-wingers any more palatable than lefties, I have a hard time finding lefty blogs worth reading. I'm still trying to put my finger on why the left-wing blogs annoy me so. Blogs listed on the left side of this page include some notable exceptions.

:: Walter 10:15 PM [+] ::
:: Friday, May 30, 2003 ::
Walking the Talk

Pamela White, editor of the Boulder Weekly, wrote a story last August describing her own harrowing experience of being at home when two would-be rapists broke in, armed with knives. She called the police, and she was very fortunate that they made it in time to save her.
After pondering the incident for a decade, she wonders what might have happened if she were in possession of a firearm that night.

"If I'd had a gun, I'd have shot them both in the face," I told Gary.
I visualized myself doing just that-holding the gun, firing at the filthy, leering smirk on the men's faces, watching their heads split like melons.
Not long after the break-in, I shared those thoughts with a former professor of mine, now a friend and mentor.
"If I'd have had a gun, I'd have shot both," I told her.
While sympathetic and full of compassion, she wasn't impressed, so I explained further.
"I would be better for me to kill them then let them attack me."
Her response, to the best of my recollection, was this: "Certainly it would be horrible if they had done what they wanted to do, but if you had shot them it could have cost you your soul."

[long snip]

The nightmares have ended, as has the fear of being alone. The desire to buy a gun passed long ago. But I've never written about the handgun issue because in so many ways I'm a fence-sitter.
If someone tried to break into my house again, I'd probably still call the guys who pack heat for a living. I won't carry a gun. I let them carry one for me. Second Amendment supporters would say that makes me a hypocrite or even unpatriotic.

She writes much more concerning the spiritual reasons she wouldn't use a gun.

Ari Armstrong, of the Colorado Freedom report and contributor to the Boulder Weekly, thought she had an unreasonable fear of guns and of using them for self defense. He challenged her to learn more by taking a firearms self defense course.
She took him up on the dare. It was an emotionally challenging event for her, and she writes of her experience in this week's Boulder Weekly:

Ari tells me he hopes two things will come out of this weekend. He hopes first of all to demystify guns so that I come to see them as tools, as opposed to little metallic monsters, the embodiment of violence and evil. He also hopes to combat stereotypes I might have about people whom we in Boulder might simply call "gun nuts."

I won't tell you how it turned out. You'll have to read the article.

:: Walter 2:43 PM [+] ::
:: Wednesday, May 28, 2003 ::
In the News

"Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said he would be
willing to serve another term. Greenspan went on to say,
'Where else would I get a job in this economy?'"
--Conan O'Brien

:: Walter 9:33 PM [+] ::
:: Tuesday, May 27, 2003 ::
Drug War Talk

This post over at Talkleft generated an interesting debate in the comments section. The post concerns the Harlem no-knock drug raid that resulted in the death of an innocent woman. (I discussed that incident here)

Poster Cliff comments on the post on this blog:

Walter - Yes, good to know that there have been 19 screw-ups. How many were successful though? Like with cat food, you have to know the overall effect.
For example, I HATE DUI roadblocks. The courts have said that they are constitutional (depending on your state and how they're done) but I have to admit that the statistics show that they cut down on DUI related accidents and fatalities admirably.
As for the 'no one is endangered by drugs' argument, well, let's just say that though I basically agree with you, that's simply not how the law is written so it's not an effective argument.

To which I responded:

In the context of the war on drugs, no knock raids are a failure almost every time. I say 'almost' since there is a chance a raid will accidentally net an actual criminal, such as a murderer or burglar. Even when they go as planned they only contribute to the violence and elevated crime rate that drug prohibition brings us. So those nineteen dead were killed needlessly, really worse than needlessly. And that number is only a very imprecise count of one small category of drug war victims.

Cliff's rebuttal:

I already said I agreed with you on the drug laws. But you're simply not supplying any numbers, just a fair amount of emotion and some well crafted words.

Well crafted! You're too kind. Really. But you've mistaken my remarks as an analysis of the efficacy of no-knock raids. I don't care if they are effective in catching drug dealers. I'm discussing morality. And morally, I find it unjustifiable if one person is killed in the pursuit of a useless drug war.
I think it's telling that you use the DUI roadblock programs as an example of useful law enforcement techniques. Even if they do cut down on DUI cases, (and I tend to believe the decrease is because of a better informed public rather than roadblocks) they are still an egregious violation of the plain language of the fourth amendment, muddle-headed court rulings notwithstanding. Citing them as an example of good law enforcement is sort of like saying, 'Mussolini wasn't so hot, but he got the trains to run on time!'

As for drugs being a danger to people, I never said otherwise. Pretty much anything is a danger to someone, and illegal drugs are no exception.

:: Walter 9:19 PM [+] ::
:: Sunday, May 25, 2003 ::
Here Ya Go

People seem to want an analysis of Annika Sorenstam's performance at the Colonial PGA event. I have to say it went about like I suspected it would. She is a tremendous ball striker, and proved it on Thursday when she hit the ball almost perfectly all the way around the course. She hits it well enough to play on the men's tour, I think. However, if a tour caliber player hits the ball that well s/he must be able to take advantage by scoring well, and she didn't. The one-over par 71 was disappointing when she was playing from the fairway most of the day. That inability to score wears on a player, and Friday when she didn't hit the ball quite as well it showed. A few mistakes off the tee and she wasn't able to scramble well enough to keep her score down.
There's a simple explanation for all that. Course conditions on the PGA tour are generally tougher than the on the LPGA. The greens are firmer and faster, the rough is taller. Additionally, Annika hits the ball so well she doesn't often have to scramble to win on her home tour. It would be interesting to see if she could adapt to PGA tour conditions if she became a regular player there, but she says she has no desire to do so.
I had predicted a score of 150 for her two rounds, and she was five better than that. The Colonial course played a couple of shots easier than in past years, witnessed by a lower cut line than the previous average. I don't know if that was because of wetter, softer course conditions or if they didn't set up the course as tough as they usually do. I'd hate to think the latter was the case. And I hope Annika changes her mind and tries it again.

:: Walter 12:11 PM [+] ::
New-To-Me Blog

Silver Rights. A pro-civil rights blog, except for one important right. Guess which one didn't make the cut. That's not so remarkable, plenty on the left share that same blind spot. But in one case, while discussing the potential repeal of 'assault weapons' legislation, blogger 'J.' puts this in print, er, pixels:

But, ultimately, this will not be a laughing matter. The widespread availability of assault weapons results in incredible carnage. Instead of being allowed to lapse, the ban should be stiffened and extended to more guns.

Sorry, but availability of weapons of any sort and 'carnage' has no correlation in this country, except in reducing violent crime. I'm sure the blogger would disagree with me on several fundamental philosophical issues but when it comes to issues of fact, as in firearms = violent crime, we can debate actual numbers.

Professors John Lott, Yale, and William Landes, University of Chicago Law School, published a paper concerning right to carry laws and their effect on public shootings, including this passage:

[W]e find that deaths or injuries from mass shootings remain fairly constant over time
before the right-to-carry law is passed and falling afterwards (though the before law trend is only
significant for the number of shootings) ....[long snip]...
The other gun related law variables generally produce no consistent significant impact on mass
shootings. One exception is the impact of laws limiting a purchaser to no more than one-gun-amonth.
All the estimates imply that limitations on purchases increase multiple shootings, though the
statistical significance of this variable is driven solely by its impact on the number of injuries. The
point estimates on the waiting period variables are not consistent. In some equations, a longer
waiting period increases the risk of mass public shootings, in others it decreases the risk, and in
only one equation is the variable statistically significant. A safe storage law has no significant effect
in any equation. The imposition of additional penalties for using a gun in a crime significantly
reduces the number of murders, but the impact on injuries and the number of attacks is statistically
insignificant. Nor were any of the joint F-tests on the gun control variables statistically significant.
In sum, there is no evidence that these laws systematically reduce multiple shootings.

So, if gun control laws don't reduce mass shootings, why would the repeal of the same increase shootings?

(Lott & Landes paper entitled 'Multiple Victim Public Shootings' available here, PDF file. Quoted here from pages 10 and 11.)

:: Walter 8:06 AM [+] ::

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