In the glorious indolence of the holidays, the Derringers went out as one to see “Wild” yesterday. (Football? What football?) I told Kate afterward that when I was her age, such a film was unthinkable — or only thinkable if the hero was a man, and what was waiting at the end wasn’t the last stop on a long journey, but a girl in a dress, backlit by the sun. The thought of the main character being a difficult woman, and an unapologetic one at that, would really be too much to expect.

That said, Reese Witherspoon’s woeful lack of preparation for her thousand-mile journey reminded me of our own backpacking adventure on Isle Royale around the same time. We were far better prepared — had done quite a bit of research on packing, load distribution, smart gear and the like — and there’s still no feeling like the first time you hoist your pack, buckle it on and think, dear God what have I gotten myself into? To this day, I read about the 50- or 60-pound packs humped around the Middle East by our soldiers — in 100-degree heat, no less — and wonder how in the world they do it, even being young, strong and male.

Actually, Witherspoon’s character wasn’t really unprepared. She just did the thing everyone does: She overpacked. You think you’ll need all this crap that you don’t need, and by the end of day one, you start making the ruthless choices: We’re eating Rice-a-Roni tonight, because it’s heavier than the dehydrated stuff, for instance.

But the rewards of such outings are considerable. Ten days in the backcountry really has a way of scrubbing your brain, and when you come out? The first meal of fresh food is a banquet set by God himself. (I’m talking about a salad made with iceberg lettuce and the customary pink tomato here.) A shower, ditto. And to shave your legs and put on clean, nice clothes again? A queen dressing for coronation never felt so grand. Picking up a newspaper and catching up on what you missed is similarly surreal, as you feel equal parts I-can’t-believe-I-missed-this-important-news and why-did-I-ever-pay-attention-to-this-crap-in-the-first-place. And then you get on the boat, it pulls out of Rock Harbor, and slowly, slowly, you return to the world.

I liked that both the book and movie spent very little time on what the landscape looked like; there are few lessons on botany and fauna, and a lot of POV shots of boots trudging forward, one step at a time. That’s what backpacking is. You’re a mule, and you see the world from a mule’s perspective. Sight-seeing is reserved for water breaks and rest stops. You look, you think that’s nice, and you put the pack back on, drop your head, and return to trudging.

In other news at this hour, I understand some sporting competitions were held yesterday, and the outcomes were pleasing to many in this and former neighborhoods of mine.

Also, the scolds at Lake Superior State U. got their customary coverage for their silly word list. Here’s some more. I wonder if this list is taught in marketing classes; it should be.

Chapter a zillion in the perils of social-media commentary.

I haven’t seen a story yet that compares with this explanation of how a 2-year-old came to fatally shoot his mother with her own gun at an Idaho Walmart. (She was carrying a loaded handgun in a new purse with a “special zippered pocket” for a weapon. And while it’s unwise to judge people on the things they say in the throes of terrible grief, this takes some sort of cake:

(The woman’s father-in-law) isn’t just sad — he’s angry. Not at his grandson. Nor at his dead daughter-in-law, “who didn’t have a malicious fiber in her body,” he said. He’s angry at the observers already using the accident as an excuse to grandstand on gun rights.

“They are painting Veronica as irresponsible, and that is not the case,” he said. “… I brought my son up around guns, and he has extensive experience shooting it. And Veronica had had hand gun classes; they’re both licensed to carry, and this wasn’t just some purse she had thrown her gun into.”

For an antidote, I suggest this Neil Steinberg blog on the same subject.

Happy weekend to all. See you back here after it’s gone.

Posted at 9:36 am in Current events, Movies |

62 responses to “Domesticated.”

  1. beb said on January 2, 2015 at 10:10 am

    The unanswered question is how did that 2 year old pull the trigger. Was the safety off? As it turns out (some?) guns today are not made with safetys because the police complained about how long it took to unholster their gun and turn off the safety before using it. So (some?) guns are made without safetys but with a hard trigger pull. But that doesn’t clear up anything because supposedly it takes a 5 pound pull to operate the trigger and and two year olds only can pull about one pound. So it sounds like that toddler did the impossible.

    Or it sounds like the woman was carrying around a cocked and loaded weapon ready for the least little thing to set it off. In any case making political hay out of someone’s tragedy is how we do politics in this country.

    Neil Steinberg’s column is exactly right. Guns don’t provide safety because on average you’re on the middle of a crime before you have the chance to reach for your gun.

    Talkingpointsmemo has carrying an article on ‘why is camping a white thing.’ To me camping is driving to a state park, setting up a tent near the public restrooms and eating off a kerosene stove. The article however mostly talked about the movie “Wild,” which I consider an entirely different thing. So the question becomes why don’t more black people go off hiking for a month or two or three? How many black people can afford to take that much time off from their jobs to do that? (That’s true for whites, too.)

    And apparently #overit2014, a Fox News gambit has really blew up in their face. Gawker has the story.

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  2. Joe K said on January 2, 2015 at 10:52 am

    I did watch that football thingy that was on, along with the hockey thingy. What a great day for sport lovers, Hawks came back from a 2 goal deficit, but lost 4-2 darn it. When Oregons offense is on it is a thing of beauty to watch, Ohio state I just don’t think will be able to hang with them next Monday, not with a 3rd string Q.B. Who is good but I don’t think good enough to beat the ducks.
    Pilot Joe

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  3. Kirk said on January 2, 2015 at 11:42 am

    The Idaho dead mommy thing is another Darwin deal. Stupid people wind up dead.

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  4. Jolene said on January 2, 2015 at 11:51 am

    She wasn’t stupid, Kirk.

    The path Veronica Rutledge charted before her death, friends and family say, was one of academics and small-town, country living. “Hunting, being outdoors and being with her son” was what made her happiest, her friend Rhonda Ellis told The Post. She was raised in northeast Idaho and always excelled at school, former high school classmate Kathleen Phelps said, recalling her as “extremely smart. … valedictorian of our class, very motivated and the smartest person I know. … Getting good grades was always very important to her.”

    She went on to graduate in 2010 from the University of Idaho with a chemistry degree, according to a commencement program. From there, she got a job at Battelle’s Idaho National Laboratory and published several articles, one of which analyzed a method to absorb toxic waste discharged by burning nuclear fuel.

    But a moment of carelessness cost her her life.

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  5. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 2, 2015 at 12:01 pm

    Well, she was a valedictorian in high school, and a pretty smart chemist. And she was deeply embedded in gun culture, which is why the family isn’t lining up to hand over their weapons and are so sadly philosophical about this.

    Neil got it exactly right: if you carry, you are — or should be — consciously accepting a significant level of risk to those you love in exchange for the presumed safety of having a handgun on your person, however holstered or secured. It is an indisputable fact. The family of the deceased (and of the tragically impacted 2 year old) have decided the net risk of the world is greater than the risk of carrying. I think they’re incorrect. I’m in an assortment of odd situations during a week, and I have yet to really feel that a sidearm does anything but increase threat of harm to self or others close to me (emotionally or physically). Unless you’re in the line of law enforcement work that requires you to a) do traffic stops or b) knock on doors to serve warrants or respond to recent domestic disturbance calls, I don’t think you should carry. This year Ohio plans to reduce the expectations for a CCP to eight hours from, I think, twelve; for all the tinkering with curriculum the Statehouse does with public education, you’d think they’d be tempted to monkey with CCP class content, but no.

    Travis McGee had his Airweight, but most of us aren’t Travis and shouldn’t be thinking we are. That’s why most of the CCP holders I know got one, because they think they might need to be Travis someday.

    Anyhow, before I really depress myself, there’s a wonderful obit for Cuomo in the NYT by Adam Nagourney that will make many of us remember Caliban for a moment or so.

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  6. alex said on January 2, 2015 at 12:15 pm

    But a moment of carelessness cost her her life.

    Really? I think it’s needless paranoia that cost her her life. No one needs to be armed in a Walmart, although it might make sense to be dressed in body armor lest some dolt discharge a weapon there, as seems to be happening in the news a lot lately. Not sure if it’s the caliber of Walmart’s clientele or just their sheer numbers, but the number of gun accidents at Walmarts is staggering. Google “gun accidents in Walmart” and see for yourself. We’ve had multiple incidents here in Indiana alone.

    I don’t own weapons for exactly the same reasons as Neil Steinberg. Never in my life have I felt I needed one for protection — and I’m a fucking faggot in Indiana, fer Chrissake. Above all, I don’t want to be responsible for the inadvertent harm that could be caused by it, the likelihood of which is far greater than the likelihood I’ll ever need it for protection.

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  7. beb said on January 2, 2015 at 12:26 pm

    Roy Edrosa has a more personal eulogy of Mayor Cuomo
    It’s sad that his son, Gov. Andrew Cuomo seems the direct opposite of everything his father stood for.

    The Darwin Award is for people who have removed themselves from the gene pool before the spawn. So getting killed by your two year old disqualifies you from the award.

    Jolene, I believe people are horrible compartmentalized in their thinking. Being a Valedictorian does not mean they won’t be sloppy thinkers when it comes to other areas.

    A related article wondered why the NRA has been so silent about the New York cop-killings. Could it be because NRA policies were what made it possible for a violent and deranged man to possess a gun? Things like loop-holes in background checks, failure to outlaw straw purchases, unregistered transfers of guns, both legal and through theft. The NRA has blood on their hands.

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  8. Deborah said on January 2, 2015 at 12:30 pm

    I couldn’t agree more with Steinberg’s column except for one thing, I’ve always been terrified of guns, have never shot one and no desire to ever do so. I try to stay away from places where I know people will be shooting them. I realize to some degree that’s ridiculous, after all I drive and ride around in cars, I walk next to busy streets etc, but those are risks I’m willing to take because I need to get places or get exercise. I don’t hunt so I have no need for a gun.

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  9. nancy said on January 2, 2015 at 12:37 pm

    I was struck by one thing about the Idaho mother (and others in that western U.S. gun culture): They live in one of the safest parts of the U.S., by any reputable measure. Drunk driving might kill them, maybe a bad domestic situation, but a carjacker? Not bloody likely. Get caught in an armed robbery? Possible but again, not likely. I live in a densely populated urban area, a few blocks from one of the most dangerous cities in North America, and I’ve never felt unsafe enough to crave a weapon, but then, I try very hard not to put myself in situations where I might be unsafe. The worst thing I do is ride my bicycle through some dodgy neighborhoods, but only in broad daylight. This fall Alan bought me a two-shot pepper spray to carry when I do, but that’s for the stray dogs, not people.

    Finally, I try to limit my exposure to crimes of opportunity. I was struck by the fact her kid fished the gun out of her purse. I never leave my purse unattended, and carry one with an extra-long strap so I can wear it cross-body and forget about it. I don’t leave it in shopping carts while I squeeze the tomatoes; I don’t leave it in my car while I run inside the gas station for a Coke. I do this because I live in fucking Metro Detroit, and you don’t DO stuff like that here. Ever. But think of the time it would have taken for a fumble-fingered toddler to open the purse, reach inside, find the secret pocket, unzip the secret pocket, remove a handgun that must have weighed at least five pounds, turn it in his hands, pull the trigger and fire. A long time. In rural Idaho, you can leave your purse that long and very likely no one would bother it, even in a Walmart. She felt unsafe enough that she had to leave home with a loaded weapon in her possession, but safe enough to leave her fucking purse unattended.

    It’s not stupidity, it’s aggravated carelessness. Which, unfortunately, carried a death sentence.

    ON EDIT: I’m wrong. The gun she was carrying was very light — 19 ounces, according to the manufacturer’s website. It’s plastic! Well, she was a woman; she probably appreciated that lighter weight.

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  10. David C. said on January 2, 2015 at 12:46 pm

    So Lake Superior State still does the banned words crap. I hadn’t heard about that in years. But, if you’re LSSU you have to so something. I bet that’s the only press release they send out that gets picked up beyond Sault Ste. Marie unless the hockey team is doing well. I don’t much care for word police. Trite sayings come and go like the wind. Fretting over them seems a waste of perfectly good energy.

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  11. adrianne said on January 2, 2015 at 12:53 pm

    Well, the good Cuomo has checked out, permanently, while his thin-skinned control freak of a son is still in the governor’s chair. I’ll miss Mario. He was a real mensch. I remember when Andrew was HUD secretary under Clinton, the difference in phone calls from his parents (an acquaintance was a secretary at HUD). His mother would call and identify herself as Matilda Cuomo, first lady of New York state. Mario would call and say, “Tell him it’s his Dad.”

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  12. Sherri said on January 2, 2015 at 1:08 pm

    I was curious about this “special zippered pocket”, so I started looking around for purses. There’s a whole industry of CCW purses, but the thing is, the pockets aren’t designed for keeping the guns secure. They’re designed for making the guns accessible in case you need to use them. Many more of them mention supporting “left or right draw” than supporting a locking mechanism. And if like me and Nancy, you were imagining some secret pocket inside the purse, these pockets are outside the purse; remember, the pockets are for securing your person, not your gun.

    Here’s a selection of CCW purses from Cabela’s:

    (And we’ll see just how good my tracker blocking mechanisms are now, if I start getting spam for guns and NRA paranoia.)

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  13. Bob (not Greene) said on January 2, 2015 at 1:36 pm

    Oh, and look, this model pistol has a variant that comes without that pesky “safety” feature. Wonder which variant this woman was packing. Here’s how they market it to the masses:

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  14. jcburns said on January 2, 2015 at 1:54 pm

    I’ve told this many times in many ways, but after a late summer 1974 canoe/rowboat trip down the Greenbriar and New Rivers in West Virginia with our uncle and cousin, my brother and I emerged from the wilderness to discover that some guy named Gerald Ford was now president, had been for a few days.

    Talk about shedding some baggage.

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  15. Deborah said on January 2, 2015 at 2:02 pm

    Since I’ve retired I don’t carry a purse, only use pockets and if I don’t have pockets I use a small cross body strapped phone carrier. I started doing this on weekends while I was still working too. Walking around urban Chicago it just makes sense not to have a purse someone could easily grab. And now it’s a habit. I never ever left a purse in a shopping cart when I would walk over to get something off of a shelf either.

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  16. Kirk said on January 2, 2015 at 2:17 pm

    People who think they need to pack heat to go to the Wal-Mart are stupid.

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  17. Dexter said on January 2, 2015 at 3:14 pm

    Purses, not my area of knowledge, but I remember years when I got The Trib (Chicago) and they ran a story warning and even admonishing women who were , in great numbers, wearing a newly fashionable backpack purse. Light fingered punks were having a prosperous holiday season, simply sneaking up on women, opening the zippers and stealing the good stuff. Even easier pickin’s were on the el and subway trains. The April day in 1986, which I reported about here years ago, when I was pickpocketed at the 35th Street el station was the last day I ever carried a wallet in a crowd without a hand on the wallet at all times. Front pocket picked , too. I learned a lesson. Trying to ride an Amtrak train with no return ticket could have been a problem, but the thief only took my cash and some stuff that was there with it, such as my library card, but threw down the shell of the wallet with my drivers license and my CREDIT CARD! So I got home on the train OK.
    The Reese Witherspoon story is fascinating…her star faded and so she said “aw go fuck yourself!” in a nice way, hooked up with another woman, business partner deal, and formed a company focussing on making movies starring women leads. And…grossing hundreds of millions of dollars along the way. Hollywood is watching her closely now, she’s taking a lot of the big studios’ money. Good on her.
    Around the year 2005 we took a vacation to my fave spot on North Carolina’s Outer Banks. We stopped in an NC roadside rest stop and a dude was heading towards the washroon on the long sidewalk, making small talk to another man. I remember listening and I understood this guy had been hiking and camping for just two weeks in a National Forest there in NC, but he looked much more ragged than that. This dude actually had big flies buzzing around him, like a damn cartoon; that was memorable, and I remember he stunk like way too much bug spray and lotion, combined with the probability he hadn’t so much as jumped in a creek for much longer than the two weeks. Of course he had the startling super-sized backpack strapped on, and I remember he had a cheap aluminum frying pan and an enamel coffee pot tied to the pack…only thing missing was an ax and a shovel and he could have been a ’49er gold miner from 1849.

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  18. MichaelG said on January 2, 2015 at 3:21 pm

    (From last thread) Yeah, I know about cops in Smokey hats at football games. They’ve been there for years. The FSU guy even brought a couple of them with him to the Rose Bowl. Wonder who paid for that trip. I was just making a comment.

    Who am I to over analyze somebody, but it sure seems like this overwhelming desire to possess and carry weapons when there is no apparent need approaches the fetishistic. Then to leave the purse in the cart with a curious two year old is not a moment of carelessness, it’s a whole life style of carelessness. Where did she keep the purse at home? I’m sure that that kid must have seen her take the gun out and put it back – how many times? A two year old child personifies ‘monkey see, monkey do’. And as several have noted about themselves, my wife would never, ever leave her purse in a cart. When I mentioned it once, saying that I was pushing the cart and that nobody was likely to take it, she grinned and said “I don’t trust you either.” She wasn’t serious about that but she was making the point that she wanted to maintain the habit of keeping her purse on her person.

    Very interesting link, Sherri. I hadn’t considered that the purses would be designed for easy access and a quick draw rather than safety.

    So Wisconsin beats Auburn, OSU beats Alabama, State beats Baylor and the Ducks cream Florida State. It was a good day. No SEC or other sothren team in the big game. They must be eating their livers down there. I’m sure it’s Obama’s fault.

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  19. Basset said on January 2, 2015 at 3:40 pm

    Meanwhile, since we mentioned eating:

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  20. Judybusy said on January 2, 2015 at 4:18 pm

    Just a quick thing, related to today’s discussion: It’s a documentary about the influence of the NRA, airing on this coming Tuesday on Frontline.

    This will dovetail nicely with a book I have from the library: It’s called Merchants of Doubt: How a handful of scientists obscured the truth on issues from tobacco msoke to global warming.

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  21. Suzanne said on January 2, 2015 at 4:18 pm

    I have a close relative who loves his guns. He said there are several weapons like the one this woman in Idaho had in her purse that have no safety, I guess so you can draw it quicker and shoot. Which is exactly what her 2 year old did.

    I, too, marvel that she felt unsafe enough to carry a loaded weapon into Walmart but then doesn’t worry about someone stealing her purse (and thus her gun) from the cart that she’s left it in with her 2 year old?

    The victim may have been smart, but I wonder how her chosen profession impacted the situation. I realize I’m painting with a broad brush here, but I say this because I know 3 young people currently working on PhDs in different science/math fields and I’ve rarely met anyone more arrogant. One will tell you in all seriousness that had he been in that Aurora theater with a gun, many lives would have been saved. I’ve not had a conversation with another at any time in the past 3 or 4 years in which she hasn’t stated that she is a science major, which is very demanding, and brings science into the most mundane conversations–“You know, as a science major, I have to tell you, and on and on.” So, I could envision this woman not listening to gun advice because, you know, she’s so much smarter than that.

    The whole thing is sad and makes me angry.

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  22. Suzanne said on January 2, 2015 at 4:31 pm

    Or maybe my scientist statement proves that I’m just crabby today.

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  23. Sherri said on January 2, 2015 at 4:31 pm

    Speaking from experience as someone with a physics degree, there is no one more arrogant than a physicist, as Jolene will see in Merchants of Doubt (one of the major people obscuring the truth about everything from tobacco to climate change is a physicist.) Physicists think there is nothing in any field they can’t figure out and then know better than people in that field. This attitude is present to a greater or lesser degree in other areas of science and tech as well, but physicists look down on other areas of science.

    I hate to carry a purse, not out of fear of getting it stolen, just out of the lack of freedom. If I do carry one, I carry one that I wear cross-body, because it’s more comfortable; the other kind always feel like they’re falling off my shoulder. Usually I just use a phone case that has a slot for a few cards that I can carry in my pocket, like this one:

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  24. brian stouder said on January 2, 2015 at 4:41 pm

    Basset – very cool. Someday, I will dine there.

    Jolene – even if we agree that the woman possessed an advanced intellect (although narrowly advanced, like an idiot savant), her father-in-law (or whoever) just invites rejection and ridicule by actually defending what can only be described as an incredibly stupid series of decisions, on her part.

    Honest to Goodness – if the 2 year old had ended his own life, I’d say mom and husband and father-in-law would all deserve to have to defend themselves against criminal negligence charges.

    Apparently the damned purse was a Christmas present(!)

    Steinberg states exactly the argument I’ve always made, as to why guns “for protection” make absolutely no sense to me, at all. Readily accessible and loaded = insanely dangerous, with young folks and their friends always around.

    Especially living in a city and having a phone in my pocket, where a 9-1-1 call alone (no talking required) will bring police within minutes.

    So, condolences for the Idaho woman, and maybe a prayer for the rest of that ridiculous family, that they might rethink their veneration of firearms.

    And again, not for nothing, but when we talk about deranged people attacking the police, it is worth remembering that deranged comes in all colors, most especially white – like the two westerners who killed the (Las Vegas?) police in a restaurant, during the Cliven Bundy mass-circle jerk by all the gun fetishists who could make it

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  25. Joe K said on January 2, 2015 at 4:47 pm

    Lost Elly May yesterday
    I think that just leaves Max Bear from the Beverly Hillbillies.
    PI lot Joe

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  26. beb said on January 2, 2015 at 4:49 pm

    If you read the description of the gun (thanks Nancy for the link) you see it has a 6.5 pound trigger pull. So, no safety but supposedly too strong a pull for a toddler.

    Also, what Nancy said @19.

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  27. brian stouder said on January 2, 2015 at 4:59 pm

    Always liked Elly May. I remember when I first heard that Buddy Ebsen was supposed to be the Tin Man in Wizard of Oz, and I thought “sure glad HE didn’t get the part’….but then, looking back, I remember seeing the guy who played Cowardly Lion in Frito-Lay potato chip commercials, and the Wicked Witch of the West her-own-self used to hawk Folgers coffee (iirc)…so Paw would’ve been fine as Tin Man.

    Leaving Ellie Mae aside, the tv young lady I always had a crush on was Maryanne (Dawn Wells) on Gilligan’s Island

    (Brunettes always have more magic than blondes, to me)

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  28. alex said on January 2, 2015 at 5:10 pm

    Maryanne and Gilligan weren’t my heroes particularly until they got busted as senior citizens for smoking weed.

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  29. Jim Moehrke said on January 2, 2015 at 5:14 pm

    Regarding the mention of The French Laundry, did you see the news about someone getting away with $300,000 worth of their wine?

    And even though it’s only a forty-minute drive away, I’ve never had any desire to eat there.

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  30. Basset said on January 2, 2015 at 5:36 pm

    Once again, something that makes me feel old… our local “independent” radio station published their 2014 top 100, not only do I not recognize a one of the songs, I couldn’t name another song by any of the acts except Tom Petty:

    Now, you kids get outa my yard.

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  31. David C. said on January 2, 2015 at 5:37 pm

    I don’t think that arrogance is peculiar to scientists. I’ve never met a gun nut who wasn’t the hero in the action movie constantly playing in their head.

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  32. Deborah said on January 2, 2015 at 5:37 pm

    My husband made the point today that neither power, wealth nor intelligence have anything to do with judgement, regarding the mother leaving her purse with the gun it near her curious child. He said a good example of this fact about judgement is the Bush administration.

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  33. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 2, 2015 at 7:37 pm

    Re: worry.

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  34. Jolene said on January 2, 2015 at 7:48 pm

    I’ve never met a gun nut who wasn’t the hero in the action movie constantly playing in their head.

    One of Neil Steinberg’s commenters has a more likely version of how these movies are likely to play out.

    I was carjacked a few years back. In front of my apt. At 6:30 in the morning. At 110th and Artesian. I had enough CPD officers as neighbors that I could have formed my own battalion.Did’t matter.Two men. Two guns. The next day my coworkers were very sympathetic. Except one. He reminded me that if I had a gun I could have protected myself. I agreed. I said “Only if the bad guys were willing to just wait as I lifted the role of fat spilling over my belt buckle to retrieve my gun, all the while struggling to undo my seatbelt, I think we could have had a splendid gunbattle. But they seemed to be in a hurry.”

    I didn’t mean, by the way, to take the side of the Idaho woman–just to say that she was a person who was a person who was apparently capable of running her life in a reasonable way. What’s striking is that, over and over, we find that people who are apparently reasonable in most aspects of their lives fail to, as Steinberg says, do the math when it comes to guns.

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  35. Jolene said on January 2, 2015 at 8:12 pm

    For Billy Joel fans: He’s been awarded the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, previously awarded to Paul Simon, Paul McCartney, and Carole King. There’s a concert on PBS tonight in his honor. will likely be rebroadcast at some point. Previews at

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  36. FDChief said on January 2, 2015 at 8:40 pm

    In re: the rocket scientist who managed to become a live-fire exercise for her toddler the questions pile up like spent brass…

    Regardless of whether the pistol had a safety or not (or whether the safety was engaged or not) there’s never – never, NEVER an excuse for walking around with a round under the hammer unless you plan to engage a target within seconds.

    Then, the sound of an automatic pistol action being worked is unmistakeable, even in a crowded WalMart; mommy (was she the weapons expert she is purported to have been) should not have been able to miss that sound even if she didn’t see her sprog loading the weapon. So either…

    1) The kid pulled mommy’s hogleg out of her clutch, jacked the slide back and released it, took up a good, solid two-handed firing position and put one in mommy’s ten-ring, or

    2) Mommy was walking around a WalMart with an automatic pistol that had a round chambered and ready to fire.

    I find Option 1 ridiculously unlikely, so I’m pretty much left with Option 2. Which, unfortunately for her family and supporters, pretty much effectively labels Mommy as Gun-safety Goofus for the purposes of this little morality play.

    I’m sorry for her kid and her husband and her family but she broke every weapons-handling rule in the book. She pretty much committed suicide only her kid pulled the trigger.

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  37. Sherri said on January 2, 2015 at 8:45 pm

    Well, if we’re going to quote xkcd cartoons, then

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  38. Dexter said on January 2, 2015 at 10:08 pm

    Just saw Tony Bennett serenading Billy Joel with “New York State of Mind.”

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  39. Dexter said on January 2, 2015 at 10:19 pm

    brian: Buddy almost died . He was awarded the part, and when it came time to dress as Tin Man, he began suffering from the aluminum dust in the makeup. He began feeling as if he were dying, and the studio heads were mad at him, calling him a malingerer. Ebsen blamed that whole episode for his lifelong lung problems, post-Wizard. The makeup was changed to a “safer aluminum paste”, says Wikipedia. Yep, all the songs were recorded, all ready to go…and then that happened. A major problem for the studio. 1939 is frequently mentioned as the greatest year for film releases.

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  40. Linda said on January 2, 2015 at 10:34 pm

    The gun debate and its dynamics are a great example of how most sane consevatives have become willing sorcerer’s apprentices to the craziest and worst of their confederates. They have grown silent and acquiescent when the nuttiest gun nuts act out, defending the right of gun owners to be careless, stupid and irresponsible. When my brother and his then-wife had small kids living in their home, they kept their guns locked in a safe. Why are they silent in the face of this stupidity, or defending their “right”to be dumb?

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  41. Dave said on January 2, 2015 at 11:22 pm

    We also saw “Wild” yesterday. We’d both read the book and were pleased that they didn’t deviate from the book very much. Somehow, I had the Pacific Coast Trail pictured as a little wider, like parts of the Appalachian Trail that I’ve been on, mostly in Virginia, but it looked like a path I might have walked through our nearby woods as a child.

    I fear Billy Joel was forever ruined for us when we were first married and living in an apartment. There was a couple who lived above us who played Billy at top volume all the time. I’m sure it was only frequently and not all the time but it was enough to ruin Billy Joel for us. I wonder if they like Billy today?

    I know my gun-nut uncle has seen himself as a hero in his own movie for his entire life. Every winter, when we’re in Florida, I’m constantly wondering how many guns I’m surrounded by while out in public.

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  42. basset said on January 2, 2015 at 11:23 pm

    FDChief@36 is exactly right. Then again, I own several guns so I am automatically a homicidal wacko and not worth listening to.

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  43. Jolene said on January 2, 2015 at 11:35 pm

    Today’s NYT tells us that there is some hope for better gun legislation at the state level.

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  44. Dexter said on January 2, 2015 at 11:42 pm

    Little Jimmy Dickens died yesterday. I am not a true Country Music fan, but I do love to hear the modern acts, the guys from Austin mostly, but Little Jimmy Dickens made a living playing music my entire lifespan, and I ain’t no spring chicken, hear me? The dude was old, so no shock at his death, but since he was playing so damn long, he’s worthy of mention in death.

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  45. brian stouder said on January 3, 2015 at 12:56 am

    Then again, I own several guns so I am automatically a homicidal wacko and not worth listening to.

    If you keep them loaded, and with a live round chambered, and with the safety off, then yes; yes indeed.

    (but somehow I suspect that, like my father-in-law who lives in the country and occasionally has varmints that need to be dealt with in the barn, you’re not nearly that reckless)

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  46. David C. said on January 3, 2015 at 7:17 am

    Here’s another anecdote on responsible gun ownin’. I once worked with a guy who always kept a loaded shotgun in under his bed. He solved the problem of his children by telling them not to touch it. That always works, doesn’t it. He was an otherwise seemingly normal person, a teacher. Anyway, one morning he got a call at work to come home. His wife blew a hole in their bedroom wall, and ripped the shit out of their carpet when she set the shotgun off while she was vacuuming. I don’t know if he still kept it there afterwards. He wouldn’t talk about it other than to tell us to shut up when we teased him about it. He probably threw out the vacuum instead. Bill lived in a little Podunk in Ionia Co. Michigan and his justification was the possibility of an escape from the Ionia State Prison. That the prison was 20 miles away didn’t seem to matter in his mind.

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  47. Basset said on January 3, 2015 at 9:33 am

    Unloaded, Brian, and in a locked cabinet… I do have an unloaded deer rifle in a travel case in the next room, season ends tomorrow and weather is exactly wrong (raining, too warm) so I’ll probably spend some of today giving it and a couple other guns a good cleaning.

    That, and sharpening knives… got a Work Sharp for Christmas, essentially a mini belt sander with interchangeable belts of various grits and frames to hold the knife, scissors, whatever at the correct angle. Hours of fun there, and I can now shave with my hunting knife if I care to.

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  48. alex said on January 3, 2015 at 9:39 am

    Move over Rod Dreher. Across the Atlantic the right-wingers are crunchier than thou. (Of course, you could always up your game and admit you’re a white supremacist instead of just dog-whistling it.)

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  49. Jolene said on January 3, 2015 at 10:05 am

    Wow, alex. I don’t know how anyone could fail to be attracted to a group whose members are hosting a cooking show while wearing masks. Quite a demonstration of confidence in their views.

    Seriously, how does the audience keep from laughing?

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  50. Dexter said on January 3, 2015 at 2:10 pm

    Not any suicide by gun or accidental shootings in my family that I can recall, probably because my extended family just were not gun people. The only suicide I can recall even remotely close to us was my brother’s friend hanging himself at age 15 a block and a half from our house on Christmas Eve, 1964. I didn’t have any words about the woman with the baby and the purse because that theme pops up constantly here in the USA, nothing left to say fro me, no pontificating left, nothing can kill this monster, it will continue to kill and kill and kill, be defended, kill and kill again, be defended, be argued over..and kill and kill…a goddam broken record. I am just sick and tired of it. If I had a gun I’d shoot myself just to get away from it all. See? But alas, no gun…

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  51. Dexter said on January 3, 2015 at 2:13 pm

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  52. Dexter said on January 3, 2015 at 2:17 pm

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  53. Jolene said on January 3, 2015 at 3:46 pm

    The NYT tells us what’s coming up on TV in the new year. Just in case you were thinking about, say, reading a book.

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  54. Laurie said on January 3, 2015 at 4:51 pm

    I have no desire to see “Wild.” I loathed the book and bailed one-quarter into it (there are a number of reviewers on Amazon who felt the same) although skimmed some of the rest. I’m not a fan of La Witherspoon either after her reported episodes of entitled-brat behavior, including when she and her hubs were busted. There are a lot of terrific movies out there now that I do look forward to seeing. Happy New Year to Nancy, family, and everyone, and I really enjoy the blog.

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  55. Dexter said on January 3, 2015 at 5:26 pm

    Otter snow day.

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  56. beb said on January 3, 2015 at 9:36 pm

    Long article on the origins of the police

    shorter version: police were created to beat up rioters and suppress the masses.

    This is a decidedly socialist analysis but I find the arguments persuasive.

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  57. Deborah said on January 3, 2015 at 9:49 pm

    I got some gift money from my mother-in-law for Christmas that I spent today. She’s 95, sharp as a tack and always adamant that we spend the money she sends on something we really want but wouldn’t ordinarily buy for ourselves. So today I bought a black and white cowhide that I put on the bedroom floor in Santa Fe this evening but when we get our place done in Abiquiu this spring/summer it goes there. I also had enough money left over to buy a black lamb skin to go on the other side of the bed. Both of these are heavenly to step onto in the morning instead of cold tile floors. I’m experiencing the euphoria you get when you find just what you’re looking for, for the price you have to spend.

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  58. David C. said on January 4, 2015 at 7:49 am

    Sometimes the shooter is a two year old and sometimes it’s someone with no more sense than a two year old.

    The police chief in an upscale community outside Atlanta said he was sleeping when he moved a gun in the bed and accidentally shot his wife in the back, according to a 911 tape released Friday.

    “Who shot her?” the 911 operator asked William McCollom, the police chief in Peachtree City, Georgia.

    “Me,” McCollom replied.

    “How did you shoot her?”

    “The gun was in the bed, I went to move it, put it to the side, and it went off,” McCollom said.

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  59. LAMary said on January 4, 2015 at 1:08 pm

    I would like to nominate surgeons to be considered the most arrogant human subspecies.

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  60. coozledad said on January 4, 2015 at 2:05 pm

    And for all that arrogance, or perhaps because of it, some of the most dangerously incompetent folks to ever hold down a job:
    A loophole in Colorado medical malpractice cases has been closed after an investigation showed many clinicians were still operating in the state after being accused of gross violations. In order to reduce the number of such practitioners, Denver medical malpractice lawyers and local authorities pushed to have specific laws revised and shore up the gaps.

    The Denver Channel wrote that, in the past, practitioners accused of medical malpractice in Colorado could hand in their licenses and avoid any blots on their doctoring records. This meant that even after litigation malpractice is concluded, they can simply move to another state and restart operations unscathed. According to the source, Mary Friday was one such complainant working with Colorado medical malpractice lawyers to get the legal issue remedied. She was the victim of a neurosurgeon accused of 17 counts of gross malpractice, but when Dr. Denise Crute moved her practice from Colorado to Illinois, her record didn’t reflect that.

    The Herald Extra reported that Crute has since moved on to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, but the Colorado Medical Board will do everything it can to ensure other clinicians can’t slip away unscathed the way she did. With such extreme medical malpractice allegations against her, the source wrote that Crute should have faced stronger disciplinary action, but the laws were not in place to catch her.

    She consistently operated on the wrong side of people’s spines. I hope they didn’t catch up with her before she plunged that scalpel in a few tort reform Republicans.

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  61. Charlotte said on January 4, 2015 at 9:19 pm

    What Nancy said — we’re in the safest part of the country crime-wise, but also the heart of the heart of gun fetishism. I have an old shotgun in the closet that belonged to the late beloved brother, but there aren’t any shells … when I get nervous, my weapon of choice is the can of bear spray (I had a bunch of meth heads next door for a couple of years). Thank goodness the jury convicted that guy over in Missoula who set a trap and murdered the German exchange student who was rummaging around his garage looking for beers, but what pisses me off about the gun nuts is how they get these guys all worked up about “protecting” themselves. Himself had a tenant for a bit who is a friend, nice kid, early 30s, wife and a couple of kids who left their bikes in the carport and other kids lifted them (the bikes were found in the middle-school bike rack down the street). The tenant got himself all worked up, and was going to sit out in the dark with his shotgun. My Himself talked him off the ledge, and installed a couple of motion detector lights instead. This is a guy who would be ruined by killing some kid who is stealing a bike — but the gun lobby has him convinced that’s his job as the man of the house. Absurd.

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  62. coozledad said on January 4, 2015 at 9:26 pm

    Goody. If no one else will eat the rich, maybe they’ll follow the illustrious example of this family and eat themselves. Hedge-fund manager shooters could be the new lumbersexuals!

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