Australia, gun control, and mass shootings (@npratc story)

Good story on NPR's "All Things Considered" tonight on gun control in Australia in the wake of the "Port Arthur Massacre." The conservative Aussie government reacted strongly to the 35 dead and 23 wounded in the 1996 tragedy by imposing very strict gun regulations nationally.

The main takeaway:

Gun violence hasn't been completely eliminated in Australia. But gun-control advocates are quick to point out that there hasn't been a single mass shooting in the 16 years since the laws came into effect.

Now, gun advocates will tell you that overall gun violence in Australia hasn't lessened since the Port Arthur massacre. They spout a lot of beliefs with minimal empirical support, but the above statistic is good enough for a start.

"It's A Wonderful Life" - The Radio Play

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One of the more interesting holiday evenings you can spend this year would be watching (and listening) to "It's A Wonderful Life - The Radio Play." The production will be held on Saturday, December 15th, at Deutsches Haus in Metairie.

Radio is alive, well, and exciting in the Internet Age! Podcasts, webcasts, and live-streams bring is right back to the 1930s and 1940s, where using hearing as the primary sense went far beyond simply listening to music. My daddy would always talk about the radio shows he listened to as a boy, how he'd close his eyes and visualize the scenes as they happened. Sometimes our own mental cinematography is better than anything Acamedy Award-winning directors can bring us. In our updated world of radio, not only do you get to experience what my daddy did, you can do it on your own schedule.

There's one more level of listening to a radio show--actually viewing the production while it's being broadcast or recorded. During the "golden age" of radio, most productions were in-studio affairs, with no live audience. Comedy shows in particular began to be produced in front of live audiences, since canned "laugh-track" laughter just doesn't sound natural. Live-audience performances carried on to this day, with many television shows opening up the studio.

"It's A Wonderful Life" is a Christmas icon, thanks mostly to the movie version starring Jimmy Stewart. New Orleanians will get a special treat on December 15th, as the New Orleans Voice Talent Foundation presents the drama, adapted for radio. This is the fourth production of the play. This version is written by Los Angeles writer Tony Palermo with musical score by Jonathan Green, both of whom donate the use of their works for this annual production at no charge to support the New Orleans community and the region.

Bill Lee stars as George Bailey (the Jimmy Stewart role) in the play, which is produced/directed by the New Orleans Voice Talent Foundation's Executive Director, Stephen James. Deutsches Haus, located off Airline Drive, Metairie, just a quarter-mile east of Causeway Boulevard, near the Hurwitz Mintz furniture store and just five minutes from the Tulane/Carrolton intersection with Airline Hwy in Mid-City.

Can't make it to the prodution? WGSO Radio (AM 990) will broadcast the show live, as well as stream it on the Internet.

OTC birth control pills???

I'm no doctor, but if this is actually safe, what an interesting situation this would be:

No prescription or doctor's exam needed: The nation's largest group of obstetricians and gynecologists says birth control pills should be sold over the counter, like condoms.

Tuesday's surprise opinion from these gatekeepers of contraception could boost longtime efforts by women's advocates to make the pill more accessible.

Talk about complicate things:

  • As an OTC drug, The Pill wouldn't be covered by Obamacare (but it should be significantly cheaper
  • Women wouldn't need to go to the GYN to get their scrip, so they might be less inclined to go for pap smears, mammograms, etc.
  • Women may not be well-informed on which Pill to buy, based on their medical history

On the positive side, there's teen pregnancy prevention. Without having to go for a scrip, sexually active teens may be more likely to actually use birth control.

What a can of worms!

Liberal Catholics SHOULD challenge their bishops...

Props to Archbishop Dolan for finally coming to grips with the Church's management problem:

In remarks to the 250 bishops assembled in Baltimore, bishops conference President Timothy Dolan touched on politics, sounding a nuanced tone.

“The premier answer to the question ‘What's wrong with the world? What's wrong with the church?’ is not politics, the economy, secularism, sectarianism, globalization or global warming,” Dolan said.

"The answer to the question ‘What's wrong with the world?’ is just two words: ‘I am,' ” he continued, quoting author G.K. Chesterton.
The notion that most bishops are non-partisan is well-taken, but the ones that are go so far overboard, and are so loudly amplified by the media that they are a major concern. Besides, just because
This sounds like the proper conciliatory tone that the USCCB should take, given how much of their flock's money they spent trying to elect Republicans. The problem is that all too many of these bishops lie when the truth would serve them better. That's been clearly established during the years of the worst of the sex-abuse scandals. It continues with their war on President Obama.

The total lack of credibility of these feudal lords is why the "Nuns on the Bus" were able to smack them down with their rulers. The nuns don't lie. They're not sitting on billions of dollars of real estate and other assets.

I'm not sure I buy the notion that silence=non-partisan:

Steve Schneck, a Catholic University scholar who was supportive of Obama's candidacy, disagreed with liberals who are criticizing the bishops, saying most bishops did not weigh in on the election.

"Only a handful of bishops were involved, and it is about the same number that was involved in 2008,” he said.

Most of the current bishops were elevated by the Holy Pole or Father Ratzinger (who vetted the candidates during his predecessor's papacy). They're all quite conservative. While they may not come forward with the ones who say VPOTUS shouldn't be given communion, it's a good bet more of them agree with the sentiment than not.

Catholics are much more liberal than their leaders. That's because the bishops are feudal lords who are members of the 1%. Wealth and power corrupt men, and skew their moral perspective. It's time for the Church to acknowledge this.

Let President Obama be Imperial

They are such a gorgeous couple!

Great NPR article this morning offering historical background on Presidential inaugurations. The title asks the question, do we really need the level of celebration that comes with what is supposed to be a transfer of power/renewal of power. Nobody argues that the swearing-in ceremony isn't important:

"The swearing-in is an important ritual," says Jim Bendat, author of Democracy's Big Day: The Inauguration of Our President, 1789-2013. "When the president takes the oath, the inauguration has taken place. All other aspects of Inauguration Day — the procession to the Capitol, the parade, the inaugural balls, etc. — are traditional events not mandated by the Constitution."

Bendat makes a good argument for scaling down the celebration:

"Instead of a big celebration, a toned-downed inauguration would symbolically demonstrate that the administration is serious about immediately getting to work on the serious issues facing our nation," Bendat says. And that it's serious about responsible fiscal stewardship.

OK, I buy this argument in principle. But I submit that the second inauguration of the nation's first African-American President is not the time for scaling things back. If ever there was a time for someone to wear the trappings of the Imperial Presidency, it's next January. We've not only elected a black person to the office of President, we've validated his right to be there by giving him a second term. We've come a long way, and I don't want anything to diminish President Obama's position. Faux News and their Republican shills in Congress are already talking impeachment. As much as that is a joke which will backfire on them (Dems will have 54 votes in the Senate, after all, so there's no chance of conviction), it's important that the person they'll impeach have all the stature of the presidents who came before him.

Not to mention the importance of displaying Shakira's ass to the world:

Disaster Relief 2.0

Reports from Staten Island are eerily familiar:

The volunteers come from all over the country. Glen Craig drove down from Maine after the storm, and he's been helping out ever since.

"Tearing out sheet rock, ripping out floors, basically consoling people, hugging people, offering them money, but they won't take it. Just everything you would want your neighbors to do for you," he says.

...and that's a good thing. It's good to see that, when something catastrophic happens, Americans continue to get on buses and planes to go help those in need. That's not to say these private/ad hoc efforts could or should replace those of FEMA or the National Guard, but it's great to see so many people stepping their game up.

What I'd like to see is more of these groups providing disaster relief working to help folks on non-disaster projects that are labor-intensive. Think of how many houses Habitat for Humanity could build if they had all these people who are ripping out sheetrock on Staten Island.

Stewardship of New Orleans is a serious business...

and the responsibility of us all.

Mayor Mitch, speaking this morning at the New Orleans Neighborhood Summit:

We are a very fleeting moment in this city's history; think long-term about what you're putting in place.

This is SO true. I spent the summer filtering through 300 years of New Orleans history to put together Legendary Locals of New Orleans. When I look at the many people I was unable to include in the book for space reasons, hizzoner's words really resonate with me.

#NavyTuesday

#NavyTuesday is your way to send shout-outs and best wishes to the Officers, Sailors, and Marines of the US Navy and the USMC.

There are already several hashtag movements that are overall military salutes, but I’m a Navy Dad - my son is a Naval Officer, so I’m a bit biased.

Help me grow #NavyTuesday into a trending tag everywhere -

follow @NavyTuesday on Twitter.

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