Did you hear about the death of the high school student? The young man was a friend of my daughter’s; they knew each other since Kindergarten. I use the term “friend” loosely because they did not hang out together a lot over the years, but when someone is a neighbor and a school mate for 12 years, they’re more or less a friend. The other day, he walked out in front of his house, where he lives with his family, said out loud to someone that there was a note inside explaining something, turned a gun he was holding on himself and pulled the trigger. They say in cases like this that “he died instantly” but that is just to make people feel better. There’s a good chance he was alive for a while, during which time he bled out and his organs shut down one by one.
Did you hear about the other kid that died, this morning? It was in Ohio. A young man pulled out a pistol in a waiting area of a school, where four or five kids were sitting at a table, waiting for a bus. He pointed the pistol at them, and to the horror of various onlookers who later described the scene, walked towards the kids at the table, pulling the trigger again and again. One of the children slumped down on the table and started his process of dying. Another tried to hide under the table but he was shot anyway. One kid ran away and called the police, even though a bullet notched his ear. As of this writing, two kids are in the hospital in critical condition, and two in serious condition, and one is in the morgue.
We can ask why these things happen, why these kids did these things, but there is another question that must also be asked, and that is often left unaddressed until long after the shock and horror of the incident wears off for the news junkies, bloggers, and other voyeurs. This question is: Where did the guns come from? It is extremely unlikely that these weapons were legally owned by these children. They got the weapons from somewhere. It is extremely unlikely that anyone who might have owned these weapons legally would have loaned them out to the children. Most likely they got the weapons by taking them from where they were stored, against the wishes of the owners.
It is hard to find information on where the weapons that children use to kill themselves and each other come from. It is generally felt that in the case of suicides, the weapons are from the home, and they were not properly secured. In the case of “school shootings,” there is an old (but still relevant) study1 that tells us where the weapons are generally from. Continue reading School Shooting Chardon, Ohio, And Other Tragedy→
Have you ever read Natural Theology by William Paley? One could say that in it he makes the famous “Watchmaker” analogy. But really, the entire book is little other than the watchmaker analogy. If you were to compare the boringess-interestingness factor of Paley’s book with a similar number of pages of anything written by Darwin, it would look like this:
where being over to the right is more interesting. And that could be ANYTHING by Darwin.
People argue over how early a real memory can be. There are essentially two (valid) camps: Some suggest that memory is so closely tied to linguistic processing and symbolic thinking, which is thought to emerge after a year or so of life, that memories of the first few months of life are impossible. Others disagree, and while acknowledging that very few people have extremely early memories (as adults), the occasional pre-linguistic memory is possible. (For the record, I’m a member of the second group, though I also agree that linguistic and symbolic processing are generally associated with forming vital memories.) Those int he first group have notoriously glommed on to the idea of “constructed memory” to erase all contrary evidence by labeling it as made up. How convenient!
Two different polls paint very different pictures for Tuesday’s primary in Michigan. The PPP Poll released February 26ths puts Romney ahead of Santorum and makes a very solid argument that Romney is ahead and that it will be difficult for Santorum to move enough voters into his camp to take the lead. The Mitchell Research poll, released on February 27th, makes a good argument that although Romney was ahead as of last Thursday, Santorum has in fact moved enough voters into his camp to be numerically ahead of Romney by 2% points in a poll with a 3.34% margin of error.
Neil deGrasse Tyson has a new book out: Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier. It is (as one might guess) about space exploration, and assembles earlier speeches and writings with some new stuff. This is an interesting time to be talking about the space program, as NASA seems to be producing new results ever week, there are large and small space robots on their way to distant orbs, or soon to be launched, we are on the verge of understanding the potential of life on Mars on a basic level, we are finding more earth-ish Exoplanets and at the same time the sky is falling, or at least, trashed with litter from one of the most significant, direct and obvious side effects of the space program: We humans get to ruin not just the air and the sea and the land, but also, near space!
Therefore, most people in the Netherlands don’t go to hospitals if they are sick. If they are sick they go to another country, because if they walk into one of the hospitals in their own country, they will be killed against their will.
I am not making this up. The man who has a better than 10% chance of being the Leader of the Free World swears this is true, and why would he lie?
Budget Travel is running one of those ill-fated Internet Polls to help make a list of the top 15 places to go for kids before they are 15. Sort of like bucket list but instead of dying you turn 15. One small problem is that the Creation Museum of Kentucky has been intruding in the top ten, even top five, of this list. You need to go there and vote for something else! Like, all the attractions that you happen to like that are lower than the Creation Museum at the moment.
First, I want to remind you that I totally predicted the current situation with Santorum vis-a-vis Romney. Just so you know.
And, that situation is that Santorum has become a factor in the primary, and has had a steady position in the race, while Gingrich and Romney have sea sawed. Ron Paul is irrelevant.
But whatever has happened so far, this Tuesday is an important day in this primary process because Michigan is considered one of Romney’s home states, and that is one of the two loci of activity on that day. The other primary is in Arizona, which is almost the same size state (which I find shocking, by the way, but that’s the reality).
Following closely on the heels of this Tuesday’s two-state contest will be a quicky in Washington (small, non binding) and then Super Tuesday, with ten states running all at once. So, the nature and tenor of the candidacies and the overall process going into Super Tuesday will be important, making Michigan and Arizona important.
In September, 1939, Germany invaded Poland, and soon after Jews living in ghettos in Poland’s cities were identified, sequestered, rounded up, shipped off to work camps or concentration camps, and exterminated as part of what we know of today as the Holocaust. Several Jews managed to avoid being arrested by pretending to be something else, and some of those stories have been written up as histories or biographies.
One such story is that of Sabina S. Zimering. Sabina lives in the western suburbs of the Twin Cities today, and her grand daughter was in Amanda’s class a few years ago. Sabina has visited the school and spoken to the kids about her experience, and a few years ago she wrote her autobiography, called Hiding in the Open. (There is more than one book with a similar title.) Continue reading Hiding in the Open: A Holocaust Survivor's Story→
I’ve had nothing to offer on the blog today because I was off doing political activism: Stuffing envelopes and discussing important policy positions and stuff. Then, Amanda and I went to a play, which was terrible. Well, actually, the play was great, but it was about a terrible topic in which almost everybody dies. Nice of the 9th and 10th graders to put it on for us!
Before our Global Positioning System (GPS) navigation devices can tell us where we are, the satellites that make up the GPS need to know exactly where they are. For that, they rely on a network of sites that serve as “you are here” signs planted throughout the world. The catch is, the sites don’t sit still because they’re on a planet that isn’t at rest, yet modern measurements require more and more accuracy in pinpointing where “here” is.
To meet this need, NASA is helping to lead an international effort to upgrade the four systems that supply this crucial location information. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., in partnership with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., where the next generation of laser ranging and radio interferometry systems is being developed and built, is bringing all four systems together in a state-of-the-art ground station.