Weekend Linkorama

  • Energy independence? Nonsense.
  • Walmart destroys mom and pop stores. Garbage.
  • Gun control? Nonsense. Money quote:

    The recent spate of killings gives a misleading impression. Since the peak years of the early 1990s, the number of murders in Chicago has fallen by more than half. In the first three months of this year, homicides were down by 1.1 percent. No one would describe the current murder rate as acceptable, but the city has made huge progress.

    It has done so despite the alleged problem cited by Weis, which is the availability of guns, and particularly one type of gun. “There are just too many weapons here,” he declared at a Sunday news conference. “Why in the world do we allow citizens to own assault rifles?”

    Actually, in Chicago “we” don’t allow citizens to own assault rifles. Elsewhere they are allowed for the same reason other firearms are permitted. The gun Weis villainized is a type of semiautomatic that has a fearsome military appearance but is functionally identical to many legal sporting arms.

    And its bark is worse than its bite. As of March 31, there had been 87 homicides in the city. When I asked the Chicago Police Department how many of the murders are known to have involved assault rifles, the answer came back: one.

  • Stupidy of the day: guys, have you read the Bible? I’m a Jew and I knew this was garbage.
  • How to get rich: beat a woman severely on a bus, then sue when they ban you.
  • Pan’s Ring

    Well, this is good news:

    Guillermo del Toro is directing “The Hobbit” and its sequel, New Line Cinema said. The 43-year-old filmmaker will move to New Zealand for four years to make the films back-to-back with executive producer Peter Jackson.

    Del Toro wrote and directed “Pan’s Labyrinth,” which earned six Oscar nominations in 2006 and won three awards. He is also the director of the upcoming sequel “Hellboy II: The Golden Army,” whose monsters bear the unmistakable, surreal vision of the Mexican-born filmmaker.

    I loved Pan’s Labyrinth.

    Atlanta Journal

    A few random thoughts I scratched down while I was home for the matzah-oriented holidays:

    They’re still cleaning up the mess in downtown from the tornado. Sue and I stayed at the Omni Hotel while she attended the American Heart Association conference (they were trying to find out if Libertarians have hearts). Many of the skyscrapers are still missing windows. The Peachtree Center looked like it had been bombed. Our hotel room had a crack in the window and the elevator lobby had temporary windows over the shattered remains of their forbears.

    Mother Nature scares the hell out of me sometimes.

    Of course, this residual destruction did not deter the hordes of shoppers, tourists and, um, heart people from swarming the CNN Center every day.

    (Speaking of CNN, a visit to their headquarters will let you know just how full of themselves they really are. And also, just how short Wolf Blitzer is. No wonder he needs such a macho name.)

    On my first day, I went with my family to a hole-in-the-wall restaurant in downtown Atlanta. On one side of us were a gaggle of sharply-dressed attorneys discussing debentures or something. On another side was a black family that looked like they had just gotten out of church. On another side were two people in leather with more tattoos than I knew there were body parts that ink could be injected into. The waitress was a marvel (and a cute one at that) — I don’t think anyone so much as ran out of coffee. My daughter was in full happy mode, jabbering at everyone she could lock eyes with. And everyone had a smile and a wave for her. It was a good time; a great time.

    To me, that’s America. What it is and what it can be. 300 million individuals living their lives as they want — whether it’s as a tight-ass lawyer or a laid-back biker. Everyone doing their own thing, minding their own business and being decent to each other. No one looking down their nose. For a second, I had a vision of the future in a small Atlanta restaurant. And our future is good.

    Or maybe I was just high on the wonderful omelettes.

    Whatever they’re doing in Atlanta on race relations, the rest of the country needs to follow suit. Maybe it’s because Atlanta has four excellent black colleges and therefore a large educated black community and entrepreneur class. But it just seemed that African-Americans in Atlanta are happier, friendlier, more successful, more visible than any city I’ve lived in.

    There are areas of Atlanta that are still scary. But there were many areas that are mostly or almost entirely black where I felt completely welcome.

    Who makes matzah that isn’t kosher for Passover?? Honestly. Is there a big Christian demand for matzah?

    My sister-in-law can flat cook. I’d be jealous except that my wife can cook too.

    Atlanta is a beautiful beautiful city. Texas seems so desolate by comparison. It is positively lush with vegetation. We caught the end of dogwood and azalea season. It was warm, but not hot.

    I miss the place sometimes.

    More to come…

    Law of Averages


    Life expectancy has long been growing steadily for most Americans. But it has not for a significant minority, according to a new study, which finds a growing disparity in mortality depending on race, income and geography.

    The study, published Monday in the online journal PLoS, analyzed life expectancy in all 3,141 counties in the United States from 1961 to 1999, the latest year for which complete data have been released by the National Center for Health Statistics. Although life span has generally increased since 1961, the authors reported, it began to level off or even decline in the 1980s for 4 percent of men and 19 percent of women.

    “It’s very troubling that there are parts of the wealthiest country in the world, with the highest health spending in the world, where health is getting worse,” said Majid Ezzati, the lead author and an associate professor of international health at Harvard. It is a phenomenon, he added, “unheard of in any other developed country.”

    Counties with significant declines were concentrated in Appalachia, the Southeast, Texas, the southern Midwest and along the Mississippi River. Life expectancy increases were mainly in the Northeast and on the Pacific Coast.

    Also, places where, well, they get there.

    This lack of progress among the worst off was caused by a slowing or halt of reductions in cardiovascular disease, combined with increases in lung cancer and diabetes for women and in H.I.V. infection and homicide for men.

    This rise in mortality for chronic diseases runs counter to trends in other developed countries, and the geographical differences are consistent with regional trends in smoking, high blood pressure and obesity. Dr. Ezzati speculates that data after 1999 will show more decreases in life span for the worst-off women. He expects to see a slight increase for men, with improved treatment for H.I.V. and AIDS.

    In other words, it’s our smoking, drinking, eating and fucking that are killing us.

    Cowardly Lions 72, My Grandmother 2

    Rivals.com has the rundown on the most chickenshit football programs in that nation:

    3. Western Carolina at Florida State, Sept. 6/Chattanooga at Florida State, Sept. 13: Chattanooga and Western Carolina are the two worst programs in the Southern Conference; they combined to go 3-19 last season. Plus, these are the first two home games of the season for the Seminoles (yeah, the fans will be psyched to see those “contests”). Then again, Florida State figures to be wracked by academic suspensions, so playing two patsies – and getting two more wins for Bobby Bowden – might be the best way to start the season.

    Don’t get too big a grin, Christopher. PSU’s “contest” against Coastal Carolina comes in at #2.