Sunday, June 10, 2007

What's worse than terrorism?

Cho Seung-Hui, they said, had issues. Guns don't kill people; people kill people. So what's the real issue when the killer -- and victim -- is two years old?

Gary Younge of The Guardian finds that on an average day, eight children are killed in the US by guns. That's 2920 children in a year -- more than the number of people who died in the World Trade Center on 9/11. The foregoing link leads to an audio clip, in which Younge tells the stories of some of the nine children who died on a day he chose at random (November 25, 2006, Thanksgiving Sunday). One of these was a two-year-old in Tampa, FL, who found a gun behind a sofa cushion, and accidentally shot himself in the chest. On an average day, eight US children die from gunshots: four white, three black, one Hispanic; on that day, there were eight black and one Hispanic. Most are poor.

The original argument for guns in the Second Amendment, Younge notes, was self-defense against tyrannical government; today, the argument pro-gun Americans make is self-defense against each other!

Younge adds that there is very little interest in America in gun-related deaths, which are a "regular occurrence". In one case, the victim was not even named in a news report; the police never even thought to issue a press release.

Left: Still from a video of Andrew, five-year-old son of Lisa Nawrot, psychology professor at Minnesota State University, finding a .32 Beretta hidden in his playroom. "Not only did he pick up the gun, he aimed it and pulled the trigger before he came to get me," said Nawrot. The video was part of a study by Kristen McIntyre on how children aged 5-6 would react if they found a gun. Results showed that, no matter how much parents warned or taught their children about guns, and no matter how familiar children were with guns, it didn't necessarily prevent them from handling the weapon dangerously.The guns used in the study had, of course, been disabled by the local Sheriff's department.

Afterthought: What does it say about a culture that children's behavior with guns is even a research question?

Update: A few hours after I posted the above, I read that another two-year-old, this time in Wisconsin, has become a victim of gun violence. She is alive, but in critical condition. Why can't America make itself safe for its children?

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

The impossible has happened!

Photo source:
There is a theory which states that if every anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened.
~ Douglas Adams

Sunday, June 3, 2007

India leaps into the eighteenth century

Photo by J. Adam Huggins, for The New York Times

Article by Somini Sengupta in The New York Times:

Chakubhai Khabhu, old and lean, smoking a thin, hand-rolled cigarette, stands on top of a pile of bricks his children have made with their hands. His daughter, Vanita, 20, tosses bricks to her brothers, two by two, in a seamless human chain. One of his sons’ wives takes a break to breastfeed her 2-year-old near a pile of black clay.

For every thousand bricks, they earn a bit less than $5.50. The family, with five adult laborers, pockets on average a little more than $2 a day.

This is the life behind the great Indian construction boom, propelled by an economy still growing at 9 percent a year.

The lure of steady work is drawing more and more migrants like the Khabhus, who come to brickyards like this one around the country because they can no longer sustain themselves by farming.

The success of the brick business, in other words, is as much a portrait of a growing industry as it is a testament to the dismal state of the Indian peasantry....

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Mumbai takes a deep breath

The sky makes a spectacle over Mumbai. I stumbled upon this photo entry dated March 8, 2006, by Selma Mirza, at this blog. She writes, "As if Claude Monet himself had come down and painted this beautiful city a sky to calm fast beating hearts and soothe troubled minds."

I guess this city looks really beautiful when most of it is not in the picture!

More rain

Poured on Thursday night, and the thunder sounded like bombs going off! It was breezy this afternoon, became suddenly cloudy and rained again, although not as long, nor with quite as much drama as Thursday night. But looks like the monsoon is here. It may be early, but not a moment too soon, as far as I'm concerned. The weather had become quite unbearable.

Well, usually it stays cloudy in the rainy season, so rainbows are not that common. I guess it's more common to see them in the countryside, on the way to Lonavla or Goa, or something. But if there were one over Mumbai, I doubt anyone would notice, because of smog, hurrying along, being holed up in an office, or ugly buildings in the way. So I thought I'd link this rainbow site and dream about what could be....

Photo: From Mid-Day, but I found it on this blog.