One of those days

So I spent several hours trying to figure out what’s up with the embeds. Then I got to meet the wildlife guy who’s going to trap the squirrels (the ones I thought were raccoons) nesting in my crawl space. So the little bastards remain my longtime nemesis!

Then I went out to one of the local bars with a friend. We ordered crabs. When we were finished, we noticed weird black spots on the shell of my friend’s crabs. “Where are these from?” I asked the waitress.

“Mexico or Florida,” she said.

“You mean the Gulf of Mexico. Swell.”

So I just had a heaping helping of Corexit. Ugh.

Three ways gun control would have stopped Aurora shooting

Ever since the most recent shooting massacres, we’ve been subjected to wingnut pundits of every degree preaching how there were no gun laws that could have avoided them. Now The Nation’s George Zornick looks at testimony from the trial of Auroro shooter James Holmes, and describes three very sensible, common-sense ways he could have been stopped:

Tracking large-scale ammunition purchases. Steve Beggs, an agent for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, testified that Holmes went on a buying spree starting May 10, 2012. By July 14, he had bought 6,300 rounds of ammunition, two pistols, a .223 caliber Smith & Wesson AR-15 assault weapon, a shotgun, body armor, bomb-making materials and handcuffs.

The large-scale bullet purchases are the big red flag here. Nobody is monitoring bulk ammunition purchases: Some states, like Illinois, Massachusetts and New Jersey, have limits on the amount you can buy and ask that dealers track their sales for law enforcement, but Colorado has no such rules. And the ones that do exist can easily be evaded by buying ammunition online anyhow, which is what Holmes did.

The federal government should be able to track bulk ammunition sales—there is clearly a controlling public interest when somebody is assembling an arsenal that could support a small militia. If authorities had even briefly question Holmes about why he was stockpiling so many weapons, it’s almost a certainty they would have noticed his extremely bizarre behavior: He was reportedly almost incoherent in the weeks leading up to the attack. The White House is said to be considering a national database to track the sale and movement of weapons, and it should absolutely include ammunition, too.

Online sales of ammunition should also be banned or highly regulated, since they create an easy way for people to stockpile dangerous weapons without ever showing their face. A 1999 bill in Congress to regulate the online sale of ammunition was never adopted, but should be now.

Better mental health screenings for weapons purchases. Holmes was not only stockpiling weapons but, as noted, exhibiting excessively strange behavior. He left a voicemail at a local gun range asking if he could join, but the message was reportedly incomprehensible. “It was this very guttural, very heavy bass, deep voice that was rambling incoherently,” the owner of the range told The New York Times. “It was bizarre on a good day, freakish on others.” Only weeks before his rampage, Holmes’ psychiatrist was alerting police at his university about his behavior—a drastic step for any mental health professional to take.
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Technical difficulties

It’s not just the YouTube embeds; I can’t “see” them on other sites in Chrome. So I have to uninstall and do a re-installation. Arghh. What a day.

Oh, look

Americans are more likely to die earlier than people in other countries:

Regardless of race, class, education level, and even healthy eating and exercise habits, Americans have a shorter life expectancy than their peers in other affluent nations. According to a new government-sponsored survey released Wednesday, part of the gap in life expectancy can be attributed to the fact that people living in the U.S. are much more likely to die from traffic accidents and homicides than the people in other well-off countries like Japan, Australia, Canada, and Germany.

That health gap has worsened over the past three decades, even as medical advances have improved modern health services. And Americans are falling behind in several categories, whether or not they’re afforded privileges that would suggest they might be healthier than their less advantaged peers:

The study listed nine health areas in which Americans came in below average: infant mortality and low birth weight, injuries and homicides, adolescent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, HIV and AIDS, drug-related deaths, obesity and diabetes, heart disease, chronic lung disease and disability. […]

“Even Americans who are white, insured, have college educations and seem to have healthy behaviors are in worse health than similar people in other nations,” said [Dr. Steven H. Woolf], a researcher who directs the Center for Human Needs at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va.

The disparities were pervasive across all age groups up to 75, Woolf told the reporters, and seemed to stem from a variety of wide-ranging causes, including U.S. car culture, the number of uninsured people in the country, and weaknesses in our outpatient healthcare system.

“The pervasiveness of the problem was really staggering,” Woolf told Bloomberg News. “I don’t think American parents know their children will live a shorter life with greater disease rates than other countries.”

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