Hot Air: Folderol

Am I the only guy who’s never, ever, watched any of those “special features” or supplemental materials that come with DVDs? I mean, I absolutely, positively couldn’t care less about anything the actors or directors or producers or set caterers or anybody else think or feel about what went on behind the scenes.

I wish only to watch the movie or the TV series. Period.

Does that make me a bad guy?

Giving, With A Catch

This might: I find all these walks and runs and marathons and things for charity to be godawful annoying.

There was another one, a walk down Kirkwood Avenue, yesterday morning. I have no idea what it was for. And I don’t care.

Another Walk, Somewhere

Everybody looked happy and peppy and oh-so-satisfied that they were making the world a better place. Were they?

I’d hope so but reality may belie that. Many — too many — of these sponsoring charities funnel too much of the money raised toward their own overhead costs. There are highly paid executive directors and consultants and postage and printing and marketing and advertising and this and that and it all adds up. At least one charity consortium, the scuttlebutt goes, sends on as little as 10 percent to whichever beneficiaries it purports to support.

More to the point though, is the idea that we have to do something fun, something for us, in order to give to someone else.

We’ll raise money for diseases and school library books and natural disaster victims only if we get to prove to ourselves and the world we can run a half marathon or walk 25 miles. Aren’t we terrific? Care to sponsor my celebration of me?

That’s pretty American, isn’t it?

Can you imagine going up to all your friends and saying, “I’m collecting money for the homeless — soon as I get a thousand bucks, I’m going to go downtown and start passing it out. How much can I put you down for?”

The answer, natch, would be, Take a hike.

We really don’t want to be thinking of the people who are being ravaged by cancer or those who must sleep on a bus stop bench tonight. We prefer to think about how terrific we are.

Too Late, Quentin

So, guys like Tarantino find it safe to dogpile on Harvey Weinstein only now that the repulsive workplace sexual predator has been kicked out of polite society?

This mea culpa isn’t courageous. In fact, it smacks of bullying.

Zurcher On Guns, Pt. 3

We’re halfway through gentleman farmer San Zurcher’s treatise on America’s love affair with firearms. Part 2 ran yesterday and Part 1 the day before. Only one more to go after today.

Guns in America, Part III

Behind every mass shooting there’s a whiny loser. When no political manifesto is found the motive is always the same: something that boils down to “I’ll show them!” And they invariably don’t mind dying to show them. I wanted to start this section with that for one reason: to end the crazy conspiracy theories that inevitably arise. Now we can move on.

It should go without saying that the more of something there is, and the more accessible it is, the easier it is for anyone to get one. No controversy in that statement. Until it’s applied to guns in this country. I’m already in danger of reprisals from family, friends, neighbors just by uttering such a simple thing. The “gun culture,” whatever that is, has long been primed to respond to such thoughts as though they were blasphemy and I was planning to inaugurate the new world order. Calm down. We have to start with facts.

But… while I’m talking about how saturated the US is with guns, let’s briefly discuss the one famous one: the AR-15. I know, I know — AR stand for ArmaLite, it isn’t technically an assault rifle, we can play word games all day. Not interested. None of it changes what the rifle actually is: a very popular rifle that is relatively inexpensive, relatively accurate right out of the box, kinda idiot proof, and here’s the clincher: it can be customized to however you want it. Seriously it’s the iPhone of rifles. Some people want to outfit them like they’re special ops (uhh…so boring. Just play paintball). Others, like me, build them for accuracy. That’s my bit in all this. Target shooting. It’s like golf to me really. Feet in right place, hips in right place, actually there’s a whole checklist. I’ll spare you but lots of concentration is involved. I have to do the whole list 80 times. And it’s boring to watch. It’s worse than golf. Hell it’s worse than televised darts. FYI: that makes mine really really heavy. So it’s worthless for everything else. Anyways, sorry for that tangent. The point I want to make is whenever you say, “Its only use is to kill people,” or you imply that having it means you’re planning such a thing, well you’re liberals. I thought bullying was bad and take it from someone who knows — it’s bullying — and when you say it, you are in fact saying it to me. Most gun owners, of the dull boring law-abiding variety who do this, hunt, and so forth, think about it for a minute, see themselves as always on the defensive. The fact that gun sales increased after Las Vegas as though any minute they’ll all be illegal, with this administration & congress, tells you something about their state of mind. It’s not that the NRA is innocent. It’s not (that’s in part IV), but liberals, I do think you have to acknowledge your own role in making this the most divisive issue in politics. And there are consequences. A group that always thinks of itself on the defensive is ripe for lots of exploitation. Which has happened. It also allows the most hardline people to rule the agenda. Which has happened. The political & legal reality is that no progress can be made without the gun owners’ consent and if we want to solve this plague of mass shootings, and any moral person does, there has to be some understanding on both sides.

The Notorious Colt AR-15

Personally, I’m for some sensible gun law reform. I think a waiting period is small inconvenience compared to the many lives that could be saved if cooler heads were given a chance to prevail. Some more limitations on the selling of firearms between individuals? Sure. And to the nuttiest of the gun nuts, the black helicopters are never coming.

Now allow me to close with some personal reflections. With the gun debate I don’t feel I have a great steady rock to stand on. I don’t have a great classical tradition to go to or a firm principled ideology where I can’t make compromises. You know, like I do with most things. So I’m okay with some regulation & prohibitions, but I wouldn’t accept complete total ban either. My own history cost me a lot, then again when I had no real social life in school the times spent at a rifle range were good for me. I learned a lot and met a wide variety of people. So I have trouble being objective. I can admit that. Usually when that happens I turn to science, statistics, and some old fashioned realpolitik to guide my way. Which makes this a good place to stop and say…,

Coming tomorrow, Part IV.

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