Saturday, April 28, 2007

Non-Gun-Free Zone - University of Utah

Three years into a Non-Gun-Free zone at the University of Utah, and surprise, no shootouts. In fact, a freshman there did not know that there was a concealed carry law, and didn't even "see the need for it." I personally feel that it is precisely because of the carry law that there is no need for it. But who knows. From Dr. Helen:

Shockingly, So Far, No Gun Battles Have Begun

The University of Utah is the only college that allows concealed carry on campus:
For decades, the University of Utah banned concealed weapons.

"Our view was that there was an increased risk of both accidental and intentional discharge of a firearm if more firearms are present," said spokesman Fred Esplin. "It was a matter of safety."

But in 2004 the Legislature passed a law expressly saying the university is covered by a state law that allows concealed weapons on state property. The university challenged the law, but the Utah Supreme Court upheld it last year.

Utah is easily one of the most conservative states, and the Legislature is dominated by Republicans, many of whom have a libertarian streak. Utah has no motorcycle helmet law, for example, and there is strong affection for the Second Amendment.

The carrying of guns at the university worries students like Timmy Allin, a freshman on the tennis team from Dallas who feels safe on the 28,000-student urban campus. Allin was not aware weapons were allowed on campus until told by a reporter. "I don't see the need for one up here, so that could only lead to trouble," he said.
So Timmy Allin was feeling all safe and cozy until some reporter told him about the danger that lurked at his university--law abiding citizens with guns. If the legislation for concealed carry passed in 2004 and there have been no shoot outs thus far since last year, when will the trouble begin? And now poor Timmy will spend his waking hours fearful not of the potential criminals who might do harm to students and others on campus, but of his fellow students and faculty who carry legally who "might be trouble." How troubling.
It's the circle of need - things are going well, so you take away the very thing that ensured your past success.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Digital Irony - Palestinian 'Peace' March

I couldn't have written a more ironic, sardonic, or sarcastic comment as the one officially written by Reuters. (Hat tip: LGF)
Palestinians Demonstrate Against Violence

Today’s moment of Orwellian media madness is brought to you by the friendly Palestinian stringers at al-Reuters.

Palestinians attend a demonstration against violence in Gaza April 23, 2007. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa (GAZA)

And to supersize the irony, notice the Nike “Just Do It” t-shirt.

(Hat tip: ">Israellycool.)

Rudy 4 Prez

I haven't quite made up my mind yet who I'll be voting for, but this strong position by Guliani edges the needle towards him:

Rudy Giuliani doesn’t care whether the Palestinian government is run by Hamas, which is recognized by the US as a terrorist organization, or Mahmoud Abbas, the chairman of Fatah who is regarded by the Bush administration as a moderate.

“Hamas or Abbas, it makes no difference. The ball is in their court, and we just have to show patience and not push any peace process until they do what they have to do,” said Mr. Giuliani.

What they have to do, he said, is, at the very minimum, to recognize Israel’s right to exist and to renounce terrorism. Then, he said, Israel and the US should sit back and see if they mean it.

“They don’t just have to say the words. Anyone can say the words. They have to show that they are ending terrorism; they have to show that they are doing what they have to do to end terrorism. I’m a strong proponent of the philosophy that we can trust, but we have to verify,” he said. “If all that happens, then it will lead naturally to a peace process, but we have to wait patiently until they are ready to make it happen. And no one should make any concessions to the Palestinians until they take those steps.”

(Hat Tip: LGF)

Rapid Fire - 4/25/07

The day is short and the work is long. Rapid fire cometh. Thanks to Pajamas Media.
Life Without Cars: “Aren’t cars great?” asks Orson Scott Card. Then he suggests it is time to regroup on the concept. (Ornery American)

Clear Registered Travelers “Fly Through the Airport: Get through airport security faster and with less hassle. Enjoy a more consistent and stress-free airport experience.” [Note: There will be a lot of government paperwork and tests.] (Flyclear)

Build your own news site — Newsvine Relaunches… Announcing Evergreen

Desktop Holographic Video: The MIT Technology Review looks at the prospects for desktop holographic video, ideal for viewing medical images as well as sets of complex, multidimensional data and engineering designs.


What Will al-Qaeda Do Next? Hugh Hewitt looks at possible al-Qaeda plans to mount a major attack on another Western country.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

"Trade your Qassams for computers"

Workers setting up an Independence Day display on a building in Acre on Sunday. (Yaron Kaminsky)

Knesset Speaker and Acting President Dalia Itzik called Thursday on Israel's enemies to abandon the path of violence and work toward the well-being of their own societies.

"Our advice to you is replace your Katyushas and Qassams with computers and loving education, the smile of a boy that has a future, and neighborliness," Itzik said during her speech at the annual torch-lighting ceremony that kicked off Israel's 59th Independence Day celebrations at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Yom Hazikaron

Please go to Aliyah! and read and watch her tributes to those who died so we can have Israel and the Jewish people. It is a great new blog I stumbled across, and it now has made it in to my hallowed RSS reader.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Penn on Gun Control

In the crass, no-nonsense way of talking, Penn (and Teller) look at the sense and nonsense of Gun 'Control'. Watch out for F-bombs and the poor audio-sync.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

"Sensible" Gun Laws

Continuing on what seems to be the only topic being posted about here, I bring this sensible question asked by Eugene Volokh (via Winds of Change):
A New York Times editorial about the Virginia Tech mass murder states, "What is needed, urgently, is stronger controls over the lethal weapons that cause such wasteful carnage and such unbearable loss." My question, now that we have a little more information about the criminal (though I stress far from complete information): What stronger controls over weapons would likely have stopped him from committing the murders, or even led him to kill fewer people? Note that I'm not asking what controls would have prohibited him from doing something. Murder law, and for that matter the gun control law that banned firearms from campus, already prohibited him from committing mass murder. That didn't seem to help. I'm curious what "stronger controls" would likely have stopped a would-be mass murderer from killing, or at least killing as many.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

'Gun-Free Zones'

Via the WSJ:

The bucolic campus of Virginia Tech, in Blacksburg, Va., would seem to have little in common with the Trolley Square shopping mall in Salt Lake City. Yet both share an important characteristic, common to the site of almost every other notorious mass murder in recent years: They are "gun-free zones."

Forty American states now have "shall issue" or similar laws, by which officials issue a pistol carry permit upon request to any adult who passes a background check and (in most states) a safety class. Research by Carlisle Moody of the College of William and Mary, and others, suggests that these laws provide law-abiding citizens some protection against violent crime. But in many states there are certain places, especially schools, set aside as off-limits for guns. In Virginia, universities aren't "gun-free zones" by statute, but college officials are allowed to impose anti-gun rules. The result is that mass murderers know where they can commit their crimes.

Private property owners also have the right to prohibit lawful gun possession. And some shopping malls have adopted anti-gun rules. Trolley Square was one, as announced by an unequivocal sign, "No weapons allowed on Trolley Square property."

In February of this year a young man walked past the sign prohibiting him from carrying a gun on the premises and began shooting people who moments earlier were leisurely shopping at Trolley Square. He killed five.

Fortunately, someone else -- off-duty Ogden, Utah, police officer Kenneth Hammond -- also did not comply with the mall's rules. After hearing "popping" sounds, Mr. Hammond investigated and immediately opened fire on the gunman. With his aggressive response, Mr. Hammond prevented other innocent bystanders from getting hurt. He bought time for the local police to respond, while stopping the gunman from hunting down other victims.

At Virginia Tech's sprawling campus in southwestern Va., the local police arrived at the engineering building a few minutes after the start of the murder spree, and after a few critical minutes, broke through the doors that Cho Seung-Hui had apparently chained shut. From what we know now, Cho committed suicide when he realized he'd soon be confronted by the police. But by then, 30 people had been murdered.

There's more...

Pretzel Logic

Via PJM:
Pretzel Logic on Gun Control: "The very same political philosophy that decries in things like the PATRIOT Act the surrendering of “freedoms” for what it deems illusory security doesn’t hesitate, when it suits their agenda, to demand that same sacrifice be made when the enemy is not some shadowy terrorist group who has openly expressed an interest in our complete destruction, but rather law-abiding citizens with a Constitutional right to bear arms." (Protein Wisdom)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

On Gun Control

Neo-neocon has a lucid and logical post on the futility of gun 'control'.

I’m talking in this instance about the futility and impotence of most forms of gun control. There is no way to draft a law that will be truly effective in keeping weapons out of the hands of criminals and crazy people.

Guns cannot and should not be banned; the population needs to be able to bear arms for the very reasons implied (although not explicitly spelled out) in the Second Amendment to the Constitution. And, if criminals and psychotics can easily obtain weapons on the black market (which they most assuredly can, just as anyone who wanted to drink could easily obtain liquor during Prohibition), then there’s no reason to keep law-abiding citizens from having them too, for self-defense as well as sport.

Yes, a gun was involved here, and would that the shooter had never had access to it. But he did, either legally or illegally. And, given that, it stands to reason it would have been a good thing had someone in that crowd of students been armed and trained, as well.

I am often reminded, of all things, of the story of Sleeping Beauty. Whatever am I talking about? Just this: you can burn all the spindles in the land, but you can never get them all. And rest assured, the ones that remain will fall into the hands of those eager to do evil.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Campus Massacre - 22 Dead so far

BLACKSBURG, Va. — At least 22 are dead after a shooting at Virginia Tech University Monday morning.

Campus police said there was only one shooter and he is now dead. They are unsure if the shooter was a student.

"Today the university was struck by a tragedy we consider of monumental proportions," Virginia Tech President Charles Steger said during a press conference shortly after noon. "I cannot begin to convey my own personal sense of loss over this senseless, incomprehensible, heinous act."

Steger said school officials are notifying victims' next if kin, and state police and the FBI are still investigating the various crime scenes. They are still trying to identify all the victims. The university will set up counseling centers for students and faculty.

At 7:15 a.m. Monday, a 911 call came in to the campus police department concerning an incident at West Ambler Johnston, a residence hall, and that there were multiple shooting victims, Steger said. While that investigation was underway, a second shooting was reported in Norris Hall, located at the opposite end of the 2,600-acre campus.

At least one person was killed at West Ambler Johnston, a residence hall, but several others were injured in that shooting. At least 20 were killed at Norris Hall, an engineering building. The dead shooter puts the death toll so far at 22.

A spokeswoman at Montgomery Regional Hospital said 17 students were being treated there for gunshot wounds and other injuries, and Carilion New River Valley Medical Center in Christiansburg reports that four people with gunshot wounds were being treated there. Carilion spokeswoman Sharon Honaker said one was in critical condition and three others were stable.

The school's Web site earlier said one shooter was in custody and officials searched for a second shooter as "part of routine police procedure," but during the press conference Monday, police said they believe there was only one shooter.

Police also said there is no evidence the two shootings at opposite ends of campus were related.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Other Hot Posts

Up at the top of the sidebar to the left, I have added a new feature called "Other Hot Posts". As some of my faithful readers may have noticed, I have been posting less often than I (and you) would like. So there is a new feature in my RSS reader that allows me to share an item with you with one click. So, for things that don't quite warrant an individual post, but are still pretty cool and you may want to loot at, that widget is now available. Enjoy!

Don't miss the News features in the sidebar as well. They are automatically updated, you you can have one stop shopping at Digital Irony!

Oh! I almost forgot. I am turning my blog into a moneymaker. I have added ads at the bottom of the sidebar (hopefully not too obtrusive), and a search feature. If you click on an ad or a search result, I get a few cents. I am very excited because I have reached $0.87 cents!! Google will cut me a check when I reach $100, so I should realize a return around 2063. No guilt intended, just click away!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut

At the Bad Astronomy Blog, Phil posts on the life lessons of Kurt Vonnegut who died yesterday.

I’m profoundly saddened to hear that Kurt Vonnegut died today. He was 84.

He had a huge impact in my life, long before I knew who he was. I was attending a science fiction convention in high school, and found that the best part of the con were the movie showings. I watched one bad scifi flick after another (making fun of it was part of the fun)… and then one would pop up that was really good, and we were all surprised. I came in the middle of one such movie, and it was all wonky. Stuff would happen, and in the next scene more stuff would happen that didn’t make any sense, like the editor of the movie was high and edited the scenes together out of order. A woman has a serious car crash, then in the next scene you see her husband giving her the car as a present. I was getting seriously confused, when somebody finally put me out my misery: I was watching "Slaughterhouse-Five", they told me, made from the novel by Vonnegut.

It has a time travel theme, but is not really a time travel story. In it, Vonnegut says that time exists all at once, like a river exists all at once, even though water flows through it. We perceive time as flowing because we are limited in our three dimensions, like someone standing on the bank of the river and sees only the little bit of water flowing past. If we could break free of our limited perceptions, then we would see that something that exists at some point in time always exists, and always has existed, and always will.

That was a deeply profound concept to a naive 15 year old used to reading rocket ship stories. I wound up reading quite a few of this weird guy’s novels. Cat’s Cradle is amazing, and Sirens of Titan takes the concept of the permanence of time to an extreme but logical conclusion. I heartily recommend it.

I had the very distinct pleasure of hearing him speak back in grad school, when he came to UVa for a lecture. My girlfriend (the proto-Mrs. BA) and I laughed ourselves silly listening to him speak. He told a rambling tale of typing up a manuscript on a typewriter, bundling it up into a package to send to his editor, walking to the post office, meeting a wonderfully beautiful woman there with a gem in her nose, and chatting with her as he sent the package (there was quite a bit more detail to his story). There seemed no point to his tale, but then just as he finished it we all realized the point wasn’t the story itself, but the things he saw, the people with whom he interacted along the way. Then he punctuated this by saying, in his typically pithy way, "Life is farting around."

Life isn’t all farting around, but what I brought home from his talk is that sometimes you have to take your eyes off the goal and notice what’s happening all around you. The story of life may be profound, or dramatic, or deep, but the details are what give it flavor. You need to take a moment to taste them.

84 years is a pretty good run for a curmudgeonly cynic who loved life and its quirky weirdness so much. But then, he always existed, and always did, and always will.

Tragedy Narrowly Avoided

Israeli jets almost shot down a passenger plane after a communications failure sent the fighter jets scrambling to intercept the 'rogue' passenger plane. Communications were restored in the nick of time, and the fighter jets intercepted and diverted the plane over the ocean for a stern talking to and to allow time for the pilots to change their pants.
JERUSALEM — Israel air force fighter planes scrambled Wednesday to intercept a U.S. airliner after it lost communications with air controllers, security officials said.

The Continental passenger plane was flying in from the U.S. when it lost contact. Following anti-terror procedures, two Israeli warplanes intercepted the plane and guided it back over the Mediterranean Sea until communications were restored, Channel 10 TV reported.

When it was determined that there were no problems on board and the pilot was in control, the plane was allowed to land at Israel's international airport, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the incident.

Israeli media reported later Wednesday that the air force planes were close to opening fire on the airliner when it restored contact. The pilot was interrogated after landing.
IAG Blog has more.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Daily Show on Israel

I've seen funnier Daily Show clips, but I got a few chuckles out of this one...

Large Scale Terror Attack Failed

Pesach Massacre Averted: Hamas Mass Murder Car was in Tel Aviv

For as yet unknown reasons, a massive Hamas terror attack intended to take place in the Tel Aviv area during the Passover Seder was averted. A similar attack five years ago killed 30 people in Netanya and triggered the IDF's Operation Defensive Shield.

The General Security Service (Shabak) released the news of the near-attack while announcing that it had arrested 19 Hamas terrorists in Kalkilye who were involved with this and other planned attacks.

The Shabak said that a Hamas terrorist had successfully entered the Greater Tel Aviv area in a car laden with 100 kg. (220 lbs.) of explosives before Passover. Besides the explosives, it contained large amounts of shrapnel material, intended to maximize carnage. For reasons that are not yet known, the attack was not carried out and the terrorist drove the car back to Kalkilye, from where it had come. The car exploded in Kalkilyeh, in what the Shabak says was a 'work accident.'

Some reports say the suicide terrorist simply "changed his mind."
The terrorist carries a blue Israeli ID card as a result of his marriage to an Arab-Israeli.

The would-be suicide terrorist was able to drive the car into Tel Aviv with the help of his Israeli ID card, which he received as a result of his marriage (or his father's, according to some versions) to an Arab-Israeli from Taibeh. The ID made it easy for him to drive past IDF roadblocks from Kalkilye – which is under Hamas/Palestinian Authority control – into the nearby Tel Aviv area. His vehicle also carried Israel license plates.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

253 mph Joyride

Whoa. 253 miles per hour in a Bugatti Veyron. Hang on!