Wednesday, February 25, 2009
The Right to Live v. The Right to Carry and Traffic Guns
5:41 am est
This February 20 New York
Times editorial was persuasive:
Editorial: Two Early Tests on Guns
“The Obama administration
should reverse a policy that allows loaded firearms in parks and repeal an amendment that denies police information about
guns used to commit crimes.”
My maternal grandfather was an avid hunter who owned many rifles and once brought his Colt 45 revolver along on a
1970s camping trip in Washington’s Cascade Mountains, to protect my brother and me (then about age six and seven) from
the potential threat of a grizzly bear. For my 11th birthday, my grandfather gave me a .22 caliber
rifle. My father once shot a deer, and to this day, my parents' freezer often contains venison from
deer shot on their or nearby land. This is to say that I am not opposed to hunting or gun ownership per
se. Hunters and other sportsmen are often dedicated custodians of the land and advocates for environmental
But broader use of concealed
weapons is dangerous, and national parks should be free of loaded firearms. Police also need more access
to data in order to focus on criminal trafficking and use of illegal guns.
On our honeymoon in northern California a few years ago, my wife and I encountered a strikingly
hostile man (and his similarly charming, foul-mouthed wife) on the winding roads between Muir Woods and Muir Beach.
They tailgated us mercilessly for driving slowly on those treacherous and unfamiliar roads before finally passing us
illegally when the road briefly straightened, about a quarter of a mile before our shared destination: the parking lot at
Muir Beach. Then, when I confronted them in the parking lot about the tailgating and passing maneuver that
could have caused an accident (all in the interest of saving them a minute or so), the man leapt out of his car and into my
face, practically foaming at the mouth and viscerally berating us for driving cautiously. I remember vividly
a sense of gratitude that the man was not armed, for he seemed the type who might have resorted impulsively to using a gun
if given the chance.
The recent New
Haven incident described here is an illustration of the risks of gun proliferation.
This 1999 op-ed argued for reasonable gun control: “The pervasiveness of handguns, combined with the extreme insecurities or delusions
of troubled individuals, should make us wary.”
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
President Obama's Speech to Congress
10:50 pm est
"History reminds us that at every moment of economic upheaval and transformation,
this nation has responded with bold action and big ideas."
Obama's speech to a joint session of Congress tonight was memorable. Amid his grand themes of addressing employment,
education, energy, health, debt, and security, a few salient points:
*the balance of education resources, reform, family and individual responsibility
*shutting off the TV and video games; instead, reading to kids
*the example of Leonard Abess Jr., a bank executive who shared his wealth with colleagues who helped earn
Theodore Roosevelt encouraged us "to dare mighty things, to win
glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure." Barack Obama has big ambitions and seems prepared to
endure some failures in the pursuit of great gains, at a momentous period in history.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Many Indian Realities (continued)
5:28 pm est
On the day "Slumdog Millionaire" is predicted
to win best picture, here's an update to the posts of January 24 and December 11 below. To accompany those thoughts,
let's juxtapose several articles that together evoke the promise and progress -- as well as the problems -- of India:
Op-Ed Contributors: Taking the Slum Out of 'Slumdog'
By MATIAS ECHANOVE and RAHUL SRIVASTAVA
, February 21, 2009
in Dharavi depicted in 'Slumdog Millionaire' is unjust. To understand such a place solely by the generic term 'slum'
ignores its complexity and dynamism."
Op-Ed Columnist: No Way, No How, Not Here
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN , February 18, 2009
"The defiance of Islamist terrorists by
Indian Muslims stands out against a dismal landscape of Sunni Muslim suicide murderers who have been treated by Arab media
Op-Ed Columnist: Yes, They Could. So They Did.
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN , February 15, 2009
"In New Delhi, it was refreshing to meet idealistic young people who are not waiting for
governments to act, but are starting their own projects and driving innovation."
T. Friedman here cites the work not only of two “recent Yale grads”
but also of the Indian Youth Climate Network.
Attack on Women at an Indian Bar Intensifies a Clash of Cultures
By SOMINI SENGUPTA , February 09, 2009
"A mob attack on women drinking in a college-town bar is laying bare the limits of freedom
for young Indian women."
IndiaPost.com, here's a review of Daughters of India, a book by Stephen P. Huyler. According to the reviewer, Prem Souri Kishore, Huyler “is donating a portion of the book’s proceeds
to benefit numerous organizations that work to empower women including the Global Fund for Women, the Self Employed Women’s
Association and Fold Arts, Rajasthan.”
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Investing in Connecticut's People, Land, and Character
9:54 pm est
Tom Condon’s February 8 Courant column argues “The Time’s Right for Preservation.”
Lise Hanners of the Nature Conservancy made a similar case in this December 21 piece.
This February 6 New York Times article documented progress toward the statewide goal of preserving one fifth of Connecticut’s land as open space.
According to that article by Gail Braccidiferro:
“The purchase of the 143-acre [Sunrise] resort moves the state closer to its ambitious goal of owning and preserving
about 10 percent of Connecticut’s overall area as public recreational space in the next 14 years. Cyndy Chanaca, a spokeswoman for the State Department of Environmental Protection, said that the
state’s overall open-space goal is to protect 21 percent, or 673,210 acres, of Connecticut’s land by 2023, with
private and municipal land trusts and environmental groups owning what the state does not. She said that the state was 72.1 percent of the way toward its goal, with 485,817 acres having
been designated as state or local open space.” More
than $1 million of the funds for the purchase of the Sunrise Resort (in East Haddam) came from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, which has been chronically exploited in recent years, with dollars diverted from their intended purpose: matching funds
that states and localities commit to conservation.
Cibes and Ned Lamont argued February 1 for a “smart growth, pro-growth strategy” – of which preservation of open space should be a part.
Cibes, Lamont, and others (including Heidi Green of 1000 Friends of CT and Shelley
Geballe of Connecticut Voices for Children) are members of a group behind "Prosperity for All: A Blueprint for Connecticut's Future." Another member of the group is Matthew Nemerson, who promoted
an energy tax toward competitiveness in this December 28 piece.
. . . . .
The sale to the state of development rights is
one of the preservation routes that Tom Condon mentions in his February 8 column and which organizations like the Working
Lands Alliance and Connecticut Farmland Trust support. In the summer of 1985, I worked throwing hay for the farm of
Walter Stone Sr., who sold his development rights to the state (as
a Middletown farmer recently sold his development rights) and thereby did a service to his northeastern Connecticut community beyond
his many years as First Selectman.
Of course, funds are especially limited
now with the bleak fiscal constraints Connecticut is under. Yet investing in education, health, transportation, open
space preservation, and housing does not have to be a zero-sum equation. Effectively targeted measures can prepare our
state and its people for a more promising future.
The growing momentum
for sensible regionalization of services is encouraging; it can save money and impede sprawl.
The New Haven Ecology Project, Solar Youth, Urban Resources Initiative, and New Haven public schools such as Barnard Environmental Studies Magnet connect local natural and human resources.
ConnPIRG and Environment Connecticut are among other worthy organizations deserving mention here.
This 1995 and this 1996 opinion piece discussed related issues.