Big Numbers and Little Numbers

Democratic Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii has died at the age of 88. After nine consecutive Senate terms, he was the only member of a state’s original congressional delegation still serving on Capitol Hill at the time of his death. I’ll always remember him for his seat on the Watergate Panel, coolly questioning members of one of the most criminal administrations we’ve yet witnessed. Not many of the new crop could fill his shoes.

On Monday, Eliot L. Spitzer, the former governor of New York and the former  New York State attorney general, called on Cerberus’s investors to pressure it to try to reform the gun industry. Following a warning from California State Teachers’ Retirement System that it was considering divestiture in response to the Sandy Hook massacre, Cerebus Capital Management has announced they will be selling their interest in gun manufacturer Bushmaster.

Lawyers, Guns & Money gives us this irony-bomb:

So I’m a teacher. According to conservative orthodoxy, I’m a parasite on the public’s dime who is only interested in indoctrinating the precious children of America into communism or atheism or whatever. I can’t be trusted to have any control over the curriculum I teach. I can’t be trusted to fairly and impartially evaluate my students, let alone my colleagues. I can’t be trusted to have collective bargaining rights. I can’t be trusted to have an objective view of governmental policy when it comes to my own profession.

But they’ll trust me to keep a gun in a room filled with children.

Even the cynicism-producing neurons of my prefrontal cortex can’t wrap themselves around this kind of stupid bullshit.

From The Atlantic, in A Land Without Guns Max Fisher tells us about gun ownership in Japan :

To get a gun in Japan, first, you have to attend an all-day class and pass a written test, which are held only once per month. You also must take and pass a shooting range class. Then, head over to a hospital for a mental test and drug test (Japan is unusual in that potential gun owners must affirmatively prove their mental fitness), which you’ll file with the police.

Boy, that mental test would sure put a dent in sales in the States! But the U.S. had over 12 thousand firearm-related homicides in 2008, while Japan experienced only 11. 587 Americans were killed that year just by guns that had discharged accidentally. There’s a message in that.

The New Yorker gives us a long read on the military’s long quest for effective psycho-chemical warfare agents, Operation Delirium. As a more cerebral alternative to mutual assured destruction with nuclear weapons, the human costs were long lasting for many volunteers and unwitting participants.

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