:: The gun nuts do have a point.
We do indeed accept a certain number of vehicular deaths each year, including those caused by drunk drivers and crazy people, as the price we pay for mobility. And nobody is willing to give up cars are they? And nobody is suggesting that they do.
It is a valid comparison.
But here’s the thing, even though we do accept a certain number of vehicular deaths each year, we constantly seek to reduce those fatalities through mandated improvement in the state of the automotive art and road engineering, through laws and regulations and increasingly uncompromising enforcement and stricter punishments, through vigilance and observation and monitoring, though mandatory training and testing and licensing, though tracking those who habitually break the law. We don’t let crazy people drive. We make drivers buy insurance.
(Here's the thing: I don't even grant that car deaths and gun deaths are a valid comparison, and it's why I'm always pretty unimpressed with arguments along the lines of "People die doing X, so why not outlaw X!" It's because, while people die using cars, causing death isn't what cars are for. Cars and guns are both examples of tools, but the purpose of a car is to get you someplace. The purpose of a gun is to kill. There just isn't any getting around it. You can kill with lots of stuff: hammers, knives, and as George Carlin once speculated, you could probably bludgeon someone to death with the Sunday New York Times. What can you do with a gun other than kill? Shoot at inanimate objects so as to improve your skill for when you need to use it to kill?
And no, I'm not presenting an argument in favor of outlawing guns. I'm jsaying why I think a particular argument in favor of guns is really unconvincing, to the point of being deeply silly.
While I'm on the subject, I heard another stupefyingly dumb thing said about guns this past week: "We should never allow the government to be better armed than its citizens are!" Mr. Wright utters the same thoughts I have on that ludicrous notion:
Just so I’m clear here, you’ve bought yourself the biggest, most powerful, most heavily armed, most technologically advanced military in the entire history of mankind, complete with nuclear weapons, stealth bombers, tanks, and many other advanced capabilities too numerous to count. You’ve given them a full decade of intense combat experience in multiple theaters under a vast variety of conditions from mountain terrain, to forest and jungle to desert, right on down to door to door urban warfare. They have more than ten years direct experience in counter-insurgency tactics against multiple heavily armed, experienced, and utterly ruthless civilian militias engaged in guerrilla tactics. But you figure that an invader that can take that mighty force down can be beaten by you and your drunken rednecked beer buddies and a couple of Chinese knockoff AK-47 replicas, do you?
OK, enough of the gun stuff...but I found Mr. Wright's two postings on this topic very commendable. And lest one think he's some liberal looking to get rid of guns entirely, well, he provides a long list of his firearm-related bona fides, as well. No overall-clad hippie living in the Northeast who wants nothing to do with ever handling a firearm much less shooting one, he.
:: "Blade Runner" is a great example of several things. It shows us how even a fantastic visual experience can't hold our attention for two hours if we are not made to care about the characters or the story. It is proof that the latter two aspects are of even more importance for a feature to work. "Runner" may very well be the best of the worst pictures ever made, or perhaps the worst of the best, but this places it in a spot of mediocrity that no work of such phenomenal qualities should ever approach. I feel grateful for its existence and I'm aware there are plenty of readers who believe that its visual virtues automatically make it deserving of cult-classic status, but I also can't help but ultimately see this (one of the most influential films of the 80s) as a one-of-a-kind wasted opportunity for greatness. (I like Blade Runner more than this fellow does, but I'm of similar mind. It's a movie that, aside from a few moments, I invariably find emotionally cold and distant, every time I sit down to watch it. I have a habit of watching it every five or ten years (that it's been out long enough for me to have a 'habit' regarding viewing it that involves such timescales frankly scares me), and each time my reaction is pretty much the same.)
:: Many people believe geekdom is defined by a love of a thing, but I think — and my experience of geekdom bears on this thinking — that the true sign of a geek is a delight in sharing a thing. It’s the major difference between a geek and a hipster, you know: When a hipster sees someone else grooving on the thing they love, their reaction is to say “Oh, crap, now the wrong people like the thing I love.” When a geek sees someone else grooving on the thing they love, their reaction is to say “ZOMG YOU LOVE WHAT I LOVE COME WITH ME AND LET US LOVE IT TOGETHER.” (I tend toward the ultra-inclusion approach to Geekdom. My reaction to learning that someone actually likes the Star Wars Prequels is not unlike Jar Jar's reaction to being saved by Qui Gon Jinn: "Muy muy, I love you!!" I love it when people love the things that I love!)
:: Quality and convenience... the marketplace recognized a need, and no commercial company was willing (or at least was permitted) to fill it. So amateurs stepped in. Now the structure that's in place -- all, I might mention, volunteer -- is huge and well-organized and efficient. It's no wonder that the content producers are terrified of it.
But they've got no one to blame but themselves. When the tide is coming in, you can't make it stop by ignoring it. (I disagreed with SDB last week, so this week, I agree with him entirely. That's how I roll!)
:: Since we started writing this site, we've become aware of a strong flashlight sub culture; a group of people obsessed with lumens, watts, and focused beams. These apparent dwellers of the dark seem to go hand in hand with knife enthusiasts, because, when you think about it...if you need a flashlight...there's a good chance you could also use a knife. (Hmmm...never really thought about it, but I do like knives, although I don't really have much of a collection. Flashlights, though? Oh baby.)
:: How cool must it be to be David Beckham? Except for having to be married to that Skeletor of a wife of his, he's got it pretty damn good. Speedboat! He got to race around in a speedboat and get's to eat free at Hell's Kitchen. (I have no idea about Beckham's wife, but the other stuff is all pretty cool.)
:: Along the way there’s the expected amount of eye-poking, ear, nose, and hair-pulling, tongue-biting, head-knocking, belly-bumping, wall-thumping, heavy object dropping, pratfalling, and general mayhem creating.
No pie-throwing, amazingly. An oversight the Farrelly Brothers regret, I’m sure. (No pie-throwing in a Three Stooges movie? WTF?! Of course, even with pie-throwing, I was never a fan of the Stooges. Abbott and Costello were more my speed.)
More next week!