Wednesday, December 26, 2012

What's Needed, What's Not

Mark Twain once observed that there are thousands of people hacking at the branches of evil for every one cutting at the root. Perhaps our media and politicians, in their zeal to do something, anything to control firearms in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting are good examples of Twain's aphorism.

John Fund Sails against the media wind with another good column on the media frenzy over guns and the alleged need to control them. He makes several points about gun control which can be summarized in these four statements:
  1. It isn't going to happen.
  2. It wouldn't work if it did happen.
  3. Most people in the media talking about "assault" weapons don't know what they're talking about.
  4. A better solution would be to remove the barriers to treatment - erected by leftist groups like the ACLU in the 1970s - for people who show signs of mental illness.
In some ways the debate over gun control is like the debate over the fiscal cliff. The left is adamant that we adopt measures (taxing the rich, banning semi-automatic rifles) that don't address the problem and won't do any good. Nevertheless, their proposals are not outrageous in principle. If raising taxes on millionaires or doing away with semi-automatic rifles would solve our debt problem or prevent mass murders then I'd be for them.

But they won't, and therefore I'm not. Such measures would only succeed in further restricting our freedom which may be one reason why the left is so eager to implement them.

Diverting Killer Rocks

Astronomer Phil Plait gives a 14 minute TED Talk in which he describes the problem posed by asteroids whose orbits take them into a collision course with earth. He also discusses some current strategies for dealing with these threats if they're discovered in time.

Mr. Plait tries a bit too hard to be funny and his audience seems to have a low humor threshhold, both of which are somewhat irritating, but if you can tolerate that sort of thing, his talk is interesting: