Thursday, 7 February 2019

Late in the day reflections.

They had to call the police in to do some crowd control as 500 people queued outside a shop in Newcastle to buy a new style of Nike trainers. They retail at £140 but some people are prepared to pay up to £400 for them - special edition I suppose. Would you dare to wear them out and about? And what happens when they get all muddy and messy?

All sorts of people have been up in arms about Donald Tusk and his promise of a special hell for people who don’t plan their Brexit properly. I heard someone, some politician or other, going on about it being an insult to the British people. No it wasn’t. He didn’t criticise the British people, but those who set about organising a referendum and having no idea what they intended to do after it. 

And we still wait to see what will happen now!

But in the meantime, we just carry on planning journeys here and there, pretending that none of this is going' on, and being amazed afresh every time we discover that Ryanair has once again changed its rules on what you can actually carry onto their planes. Mind you, it will probably all change again after the end of March.

I have been reading a long article about guns in the USA, a curious article about a couple who lost a daughter in a mass shooting and since then go round comforting others who lose loved ones that way. They are kept busy because is a mass shooting – more than four people not including the shooter – nine out of 10 days in America.

And because four people being killed amounts to a mass shooting and because they are so common, we mostly don’t get to hear about them.

The journalist bases a lot of his article around a huge gun fair, where people can go and look at guns and buy guns. He makes this strange comparison:-

 “Suddenly, it strikes me who the gun people remind me of. They remind me of readers, book people, my people. Half of these guys, it seems to me, are out here buying guns they’re never going to use, buying them just to have them, just like book people buy books to be around books. They possess the same crazy passion, the same sense of community, the same belief in the sacrosanct nature of the product. And just like book people, the crowd at Wanenmacher’s believes the product is good in itself.

How would you feel if the government came for your books?

How would you feel if the government wanted to restrict dangerous books?”

The thing is that governments have often restricted what they regard as dangerous books. And another things is that most of those of us who buy books don’t just buy them to have them around, because we like to possess them. Mostly we buy them because we want to read them. And as a rule even the most dangerous book does not kill you ... unless maybe it falls on your head from a high shelf. 

The writer highlights the odd attitude to guns in the USA:-

 “Only in America is the gun a totem, a sacred political object beyond the realm of argument. The gun laws of every other country provide a balance between public safety and the rights of people to own weapons. In some places, like Canada, gun ownership is relatively easy. Over a quarter of Canadian households own some sort of firearm. In other places, like Japan, while gun ownership is possible, it’s barely so. There are only 210,928 citizens licenced to carry firearms in Japan out of a population of 127 million.
In all these other countries, some people think the rules are too strict, others think that the rules are too lenient, but the general idea that guns should be regulated is not disputed. Every other machine is regulated, so why not guns? Gun politics is esoteric everywhere else. Only in America is the fascination so total that it defines politics. The symbolism of the gun is vastly more powerful that any discussion of policy.”

 “The number of guns in the US is somewhere north of 393m. Americans buy 12bn rounds a year, and a solid estimate of how much ammunition is in private hands is more or less impossible. The number of live rounds is literally inestimable. There is little point comparing gun violence in the US to gun violence in other countries. There are 57 times as many school shootings in the US as there are in the rest of the industrialized world combined. The reason for the difference is simple. When other countries faced mass shootings, their systems of government had the ability to take measures in response. The US doesn’t.”

 Then he talks about the constitution:-

“A constitution exists to bind a country together. At this point in history, 240 years after its composition, much of the US constitution is sheer nonsense. Democrats and Republicans alike worship the document as a sacred text, indulging a delirious sentimentality which was the precise opposite of what the framers envisioned as the necessary basis for responsible government. During the 2016 election, gold star father Khizr Khan waved a pocket constitution at a Clinton rally like a talisman to deflect Trump’s insults; the New York Times reprinted the whole thing, with commentary, like Talmud. The reverence is insane. The document says right on the first page that every African American is three-fifth of a person.”

The final sentence says it all! Are we really in the 21st century?

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