How many guns do you own? Using data from the International Small Arms Survey, Max Fisher of the Washington Post reported that there are 270 million weapons in private hands in the United States, or about 9 for every 10 US citizens. In an informal survey, I asked a lot of my friends whether they owned guns, and they said “no.” Thus, there must be a lot of people who own more than one to balance out my social circle.
But, you know, there’s big money being made from guns and ammo. That’s a point that Bill Moyers makes in his editorial (print version; video version linked to accompanying image) that aired 4 January 2013 on his TV show. It’s a dandy of a commentary that includes a clip of Wayne LaPierre making that extraordinary statement about bad and good guys with guns, echoes of Archie Bunker, and a real-life gun dealer who quit selling guns. That’s why, as Mr. Moyers reports, the gun lobby suppresses discussion about sensible control of weapons. Watch the video of his editorial.
This is not an exhaustive list of ways to say “peace.” Thanks to the capacity of a small application on my computer to translate English to other languages and a table published by Frank da Cruz that has the word in lots of languages, however, it has enough ways to get the idea across that it’s an international concern. In honor of those who have lost their lives in terrorist attacks and the pursuit of terrorists, let’s go for it.
Check this: Bill McKibben, who’s written books about environmental matters and is a founder of 350.org, is throwing down the gauntlet. Here’s his pitch:
We’re holding a Global Work Party on 10-10-10. All over the world, people will be putting up solar panels, digging community gardens, and laying out bike paths, all in an effort to show some actual leadership in fighting climate change. It’s an effort, in part, to shame our political leaders—to show them what actual work looks like.
And a week in advance, I’m willing to make two predictions about the event: one that I’m pretty sure will come true, and one that I hope proves wrong.
That’s the lead (“lede?”). To read his predictions, go to his post, “Bill McKibben: ‘I Dare the Media to Cover This’.” Please promote 350.org.
Filed under Eco-stuff, Equity, Humanism, Neighborhood, News, Non-violence, Notes and comments, Peace, Politics, Science, Skepticism, Thanks for reading
According to Rob Stein of the Washington (DC, US) Post, the American Board of Anesthesiologists did a really good thing:
A national physicians organization has quietly decided to revoke the certification of any member who participates in executing a prisoner by lethal injection.
The mandate from the American Board of Anesthesiologists reflects its leaders’ belief that “we are healers, not executioners,” board secretary Mark A. Rockoff said. Although the American Medical Association has long opposed doctor involvement, the anesthesiologists’ group is the first to say it will harshly penalize a health-care worker for abetting lethal injections. The loss of certification would prevent an anesthesiologist from working in most hospitals.
Read Mr. Stein’s story.
As one or two of the two or three regular readers know, I’m impressed by the Mr. Deity shorts. Well, after a delay following the second season, the third season is available. I recommend it.
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In “Scientists Worry Machines May Outsmart Man,” John Markoff reports on concerns about whether machines might overrun their human creators. It’s the stuff of science fiction, no? Reminds me of the endgame in Sim Earth.
A robot that can open doors and find electrical outlets to recharge itself. Computer viruses that no one can stop. Predator drones, which, though still controlled remotely by humans, come close to a machine that can kill autonomously.
Impressed and alarmed by advances in artificial intelligence, a group of computer scientists is debating whether there should be limits on research that might lead to loss of human control over computer-based systems that carry a growing share of society’s workload, from waging war to chatting with customers on the phone.
Although I pretty much dismiss this concern out of hand (who would build a machine that’s out of control?), I did have a what-if moment.
- If machines ran the world, would they wage wars?
- If machines ran the world, would they immediately take steps to resolve global heating?
- If machines ran the world, would there be capital punishment?
- If machines ran the world, would they behave differently toward each other based on the color of their paint?
- If machines ran the world, would they prevent each other from saying or writing things?
- If machines ran the world, would they worship humans?
Link to Mr. Markoff’s article from the New York Times.
Henry David Thoreau
(public domain image)
On this day in 1817, Henry David Thoreau drew his first breath in Concord (MA, US). Among his many accomplishments, one that I especially admire was his essay entitled “Resistance to Civil Government,” which was published in 1849 as “Civil Disobedience” in Aesthetic Papers. In his venerated discussion of government and individual responsibility, Mr. Thoreau set an important standard for generations that followed his.
Unjust laws exist; shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once? Men generally, under such a government as this, think that they ought to wait until they have persuaded the majority to alter them. They think that, if they should resist, the remedy would be worse than the evil. But it is the fault of the government itself that the remedy is worse than the evil. It makes it worse. Why is it not more apt to anticipate and provide for reform? Why does it not cherish its wise minority? Why does it cry and resist before it is hurt? Why does it not encourage its citizens to be on the alert to point out its faults, and do better than it would have them?
Visit the Thoreau Society. Link to the Thoreau Reader (courtesy of Iowa State University) where one can read “Civil Disobedience.”
For the 1983 all-star game of the National Basketball Association, Marvin Gaye sang the US national anthem, the “Star Spangled Banner.” At that time, the anthem had rarely been sung in any way but quite straightly, one exception being the rendition by Jose Feliciano. Mr. Gaye, an artist with a repretoire that included songs about peace, brotherhood, ecology, as well as love and loss, put his spin on the performance. I suspect many readers will agree with me about that it’s an inspirational performance.
Here’s one that’d be interesting to follow:
The second annual JMU Gandhi Center Children’s Global Nonviolence Summer Camp will be held August 17 – 21, 2009 at James Madison University, Harrisonburg.
The camp will prepare children ages 8 to 12 to appreciate
- - the value of nonviolence,
- - the potential of nonviolent action to address conflicts,
- - the value of personal and social responsibility,
- - the interconnected nature of human experience, and
- - the planet’s natural environment
as they participate in an eclectic blend of exciting activities.
The program, registration form, and other information is available at:
There’s to be a celebration for Pete Seeger’s 90th birdthay in New York at Madison Square Garden. It promises to be quite a show.
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