Hemenway’s book offers a fascinating and refreshingly pragmatic approach to the topic of gun-related death and injuries: the public health approach. T...moreHemenway’s book offers a fascinating and refreshingly pragmatic approach to the topic of gun-related death and injuries: the public health approach. The described research and proposed corrective measures have much in common with those which revolutionized car safety, resulting in a dramatic decline in automobile-related injury and death within a few decades of implementation.
An important message of the book is that “pro-health” is not “anti-gun” any more than it is “anti-car.” Another is that our solutions to gun-related public health problems cannot be effective in pure terms of “good guys” against “bad guys” any more than our solutions to car-related public health problems could be addressed purely in terms of “good drivers” and “bad drivers.”
While gun-related problems may at first appear quite different from car-related problems, the best solutions may be very similar. For example, while there is inarguably a correlation between fewer cars/ less driving and fewer automobile-related injuries in a population, it is also true that fewer guns/ fewer people carrying guns in a population will correlate to fewer gun-related injuries in that population (when compared to similar populations—i.e. rural to rural, urban to urban, etc). It may not be necessary, however, to reduce gun ownership in order to achieve a meaningful reduction in gun-related injuries and deaths. After all, the impressive gains we’ve achieved in reducing auto-related injuries and deaths have been driven primarily by changes to the product—the car, rather than changes to the driver or driving habits. A particularly interesting chapter of this book discusses a variety of gun safety features which could be inexpensively and effectively deployed, if only gun manufacturers and dealers could be compelled to do the right thing (which will probably require federal standards, just as we experienced in the case of automobile safety). Additionally, just as a combination of public awareness campaigns and government-backed incentives were instrumental in convincing people to trade in their four-wheeled death traps for newer, safer cars, similar campaigns and incentives would probably help to accelerate the process of replacing older guns with safer guns—guns which should not fire when dropped or when the clip is removed; guns which should have standardized indicators to alert a user when a bullet is in the chamber; guns which are “personalized,” so that only authorized users can fire them.
To be clear, the suggestion is not that we should cease to apprehend and punish criminals, but rather that our gun-related problems are bigger than crime; accidental shootings and suicides with firearms should not be ignored. Furthermore, a pro-active and preventative approach renders greater benefits than focusing exclusively on post-event punishment.
A great number of policy options are examined in addition to the product-focused policy option I have elected to describe (mainly because I find it the most innovative and inspiring). I would recommend this book for anyone who takes an interest in the gun debate, regardless of current leanings or impressions.(less)
This book does not read like a movie because it isn’t a movie, and it doesn’t read like a novel because it isn’t a novel. It doesn’t even read like yo...moreThis book does not read like a movie because it isn’t a movie, and it doesn’t read like a novel because it isn’t a novel. It doesn’t even read like your typical memoirs because Anna Leonowens does not portray herself as the central character throughout her story. Rather, she is our narrator through a history of the then-kingdom of Siam, a critic of the country’s art and culture, and a bit of a travel journalist respecting her account of the broader region’s plant and animal life, agriculture and industry, trade relationships, etc., etc.
My main (yet ultimately surmountable) grievance with this book is that it feels overtly Western-centric. Art, music, religion, and various other points of Siamese culture are judged not in accordance with local norms and aesthetics, but in the context of their Western counterparts. While numerous culture-biased passages jump out of the text like daggers, I feel they must be forgiven, considering they relate the personal impressions of Leonowens—herself, a product of 19th Century Western culture, and one who exceeded her contemporaries in the understanding of and appreciation for Eastern cultures.
This has the potential to be an interesting and educational read for those who are ready to feel the liberation of casting aside their cinematic expectations and cultural inhibitions. “Once you begin to feel that,” says Leonowens (wearing the hat of a travel journalist this time), “you will be happy, whether on an elephant or in a buffalo cart,--the very privations and perils including a charm of excitement all unknown to the formal European tourist.” (less)
This is a revealing collection of quotes from Jim Henson, family members, colleagues, and many of his beloved characters. What I found most interestin...moreThis is a revealing collection of quotes from Jim Henson, family members, colleagues, and many of his beloved characters. What I found most interesting is that they have more to do with leadership and work ethic than raw individualism or creativity, as the title would suggest. I guess it makes sense that creative people who are also successful must generally be good communicators, and those who are good communicators also tend to make the best kinds of leaders--those who attract followers and collaborators through example and inspiration, rather than crude carrots and sticks.(less)