Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for January 30th, 2013

Fishermen fight to harvest cod to extinction to save the cod industry

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No, it doesn’t make sense: Fishermen want to continue fishing cod until the species is extinct, because (they apparently believe) this will somehow ensure their livelihood. Read the story.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 January 2013 at 6:35 pm

Posted in Business, Science

Another example of forcing non-believers to follow rules of a religion

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It seems that when religions become powerful, they are eager to force non-believers to obey the rules of the religion. Here’s another example.

And there’s no reciprocity: the Catholic church in Los Angeles, for example, went to great lengths NOT to obey the laws on pedophilia. They are saying that in 1980 it was not understood how damaging pedophilia was to the victims, but (strangely) there were laws against the practice, and the Catholic church deliberately found ways to disobey the law, in letter and in spirit. See, the law wasn’t their rule.

And here’s yet another example: nonbelievers must obey what any religion holds—is that going to work?

Written by LeisureGuy

30 January 2013 at 2:14 pm

Posted in Religion

Assault-weapons ban was not, in fact, a “failure”

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Although that’s the talking point the NRA advances. Alex Seitz-Wald writes in Salon:

There’s plenty to digest from today’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on guns, but it’s worth setting the record straight about a key study that “proved,” as two Republican witnesses claimed, that the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban was a failure. The study did no such thing.

The study in question was the Department of Justice’s official assessment of the ban, which was completed when it expired in 2004. Congress mandated that the executive branch conduct the study, which was carried out on behalf of the DoJ by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, led by criminologists Christopher Koper.

If you listened to the testimony today of Wayne LaPierre, the executive vice president of the NRA, or David Kopel, a law professor and researcher at the libertarian Cato Institute, the study’s findings were unequivocal.

“Independent studies, including a study from the Clinton Justice Department, proved that ban had no impact on lowering crime,” LaPierre said. A footnote in his prepared testimony indicated he was referring to the Koper study.

Cato’s Kopel dwelled on the study at length, spending several minutes discussing its history and findings. “We do not have to speculate about whether ‘assault weapon’ bans do any good. A Department of Justice study commissioned by the Clinton administration found that they do not,” he explained. “The study found the [Sen. Dianne] Feinstein ban to be a complete failure.”

So is that what the study said? No, according to the author of the study himself. I emailed Koper, now at George Mason University, after the hearing to note that I had a fairly different reading of his paper from that of LaPierre and Koper, and asked if he could sort it out.

“I agree with your reading of our 2004 study,” Koper replied. You can read the full study for yourself here and see that while it was not a ringing endorsement of the assault weapons ban, as many gun control advocates had hoped, it hardly “proved” the law to be a failure, as LaPierre claims. To the contrary, it found some encouraging signs, like an average 40 percent drop in the number of assault weapons used in crimes (some cities saw a drop of over 70 percent) and some benefit from the ban on high-capacity magazines.

But mostly, the study was inconclusive. Not enough time had passed for the ban’s effect to be fully felt and there were too many loopholes to get a good read on its effect. For instance, the number of high-capacity magazines in the country actually increased during time of the ban because it was still legal to import magazines made in other countries before the law went into effect. Meanwhile, numerous other variables contributed to the drop in crime during that decade, including better policing and the end of the crack epidemic.

In his testimony, Cato’s Kopel zeroed in on this passage from the study: “We cannot clearly credit the ban with any of the nation’s recent drop in gun violence.”

By the same token, the study didn’t rule out the ban as a contributor to the drop in crime. Just because something can’t be proven does not mean that the opposite is automatically true.

Meanwhile, the very next sentence after Kopel’s reads: “However, the ban’s exemption of millions of pre-ban AWs and LCMs ensured that the effects of the law would occur only gradually. Those effects are still unfolding and may not be fully felt for several years into the future.”

For more, study author Koper pointed me to an Op-Ed he wrote in the Baltimore Sun in 2004. “So is the ban working?” he asked rhetorically in the essay. “It’s a work in progress,” he answered.

There’s a big difference between “a work in a progress” and a failure. And there’s a big difference between inconclusive results and proof that something was fruitless. But LaPierre and Kopel would rather pretend there is not.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 January 2013 at 12:52 pm

Posted in Government, Guns, Law

The NYPD is out of control

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Natasha Lennard in Salon:

Bronx police arrested a 7-year-old boy, put him in handcuffs and held him in custody for 10 hours after a playground fight over $5, according to a $250 million claim brought by the child’s family against the city and the NYPD. Officers allegedly arrived at the Bronx public school on Dec. 4 in the morning and handcuffed and held Wilson Reyes in a room there for four hours before taking him to the station house for another six hours of interrogation and verbal abuse, the suit alleges.

The New York Post reports that Reyes’ mother found him at the police precinct, “panicked” and “seated in a shabby chair with his left wrist cuffed to the wall.”

The incident apparently began when Reyes’ was falsely accused by another child of stealing $5, provoking a scuffle. Children 7 to 17 years old can be tried as juveniles and Reyes originally faced a robbery charge before another child admitted to taking the money and charges against the 7-year-old were dropped. But Reyes’ family is seeking damages.

“I never imagined the cops could do that to a child. We’re traumatized,” his mother, Frances Mendez, told the New York Post. “It’s unfathomable, what the police did. The whole thing sounds so stupid. They were interrogating him like he was a hardened criminal,” said Mendez’s attorney, Jack Yanowitz.

The city has responded to the claims saying Mendez’s account is “grossly untrue” and that “the child was held in the precinct … less than half of the time mentioned” — which still means a 7-year-old was held for well over four hours by police.

As Gothamist noted, this is not the first alleged incident of excessive police action in New York schools.  In 2010, for example, a Queens 12-year-old was put in metal handcuffs by police when caught doodling on her school desk in green marker. Meanwhile, elsewhere in the country schoolchildren have been arrested for acts including burping in class, spraying on perfume and milk fights.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 January 2013 at 12:48 pm

Posted in Daily life, Government, Law

One of our daily shootings

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The NY Times has a story of another shooting, this one in Phoenix.

Now it should be understood that the easy availability and great number of firearms in this country have nothing whatsoever to with these shootings. The NRA is quite clear on that. Indeed, the source of the problem is that we do not have enough guns in circulation. As the NRA points out, the only thing that will stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun, so we must make sure all good guys are armed, including (as the new NRA/gun manufacturer initiative shows) adolescents. What could go wrong with that?

And pointing out that other developed countries do not have enormous numbers of people lost to gun violence every year (those countries have strict limits and controls on firearms) is very misleading. Correlation is NOT causation. Indeed, if we had the strict limits and controls that they have, we’d probably still have as many gun fatalities as ever—because, and I can’t stress this enough, gun fatalities have NOTHING WHATSOEVER to do with guns. If we didn’t have guns, we’d have just as many fatalities, only they would be from rocks, clubs, and knives. Guns are fine. We just need more and more of them, without limit, with everyone carrying at least one (and preferably two) guns. Then we’d see something!

UPDATE: Another one. I imagine Wayne LaPierre will point out that the 6-year-old should have been armed.

 

Written by LeisureGuy

30 January 2013 at 11:47 am

Posted in Guns

I want this blade

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Read the article—a blade that lasts five years—and watch this video:

Written by LeisureGuy

30 January 2013 at 11:31 am

Posted in Shaving, Technology

Jim Crow and Coca-Cola

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Very interesting column by Grace Elizabeth Hale in the NY Times:

THE opposition by the New York State chapter of the N.A.A.C.P. to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s restrictions on sugary soda caught many Americans by surprise. But it shouldn’t: though the organization argues it is standing up for consumer choice and minority business owners, who it claims would be hurt, this is also a favor for a stalwart ally — Coca-Cola alone has given generously to support N.A.A.C.P. initiatives over the years.

This is more than a story of mutual back-scratching, though. It is the latest episode in the long and often fractious history of soft drinks, prohibition laws and race.

While it is widely known that John Pemberton, an Atlanta pharmacist, invented Coke as a kind of patent medicine, it was in fact his second drink. His first, an 1884 invention called French Wine Coca, was a copy of a popular French wine that contained cocaine. But in November 1885, just as the product began to sell, Atlanta outlawed alcohol sales.

Across the nation, support for prohibition was often tied to the desire by native whites to control European Catholics, American Indians, Asian-Americans and, especially in the South, African-Americans. It gave police officers an excuse to arrest African-Americans on the pretext of intoxication.

Pemberton went to work on a “temperance drink” with the same “medicinal” effects, and he introduced Coca-Cola in 1886. At the time, the soda fountains of Atlanta pharmacies had become fashionable gathering places for middle-class whites as an alternative to bars. Mixed with soda water, the drink quickly caught on as an “intellectual beverage” among well-off whites.

Eliminating alcohol granted only a temporary reprieve. Though Asa G. Candler, who had taken over the business, kept the formula secret, an Atlanta paper revealed in 1891 what many consumers — who called the soda “dope” — already knew: Coca-Cola contained cocaine.

Candler began marketing the drink as “refreshing” rather than medicinal, and managed to survive the controversy. But concerns exploded again after the company pioneered its distinctive glass bottles in 1899, which moved Coke out of the segregated spaces of the soda fountain. Anyone with a nickel, black or white, could now drink the cocaine-infused beverage. Middle-class whites worried that soft drinks were contributing to what they saw as exploding cocaine use among African-Americans. Southern newspapers reported that “negro cocaine fiends” were raping white women, the police powerless to stop them. By 1903, Candler had bowed to white fears (and a wave of anti-narcotics legislation), removing the cocaine and adding more sugar and caffeine.

Coke’s recipe wasn’t the only thing influenced by white supremacy: . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 January 2013 at 11:29 am

Posted in Business, Daily life

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