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Friday links & random thoughts

Nicki says, “Hey, Snowflake!” you don’t have a government-enforced “right” to a wider airplane seat for your super-sized butt.

Well, we’ll see about that. When I had the recent infamous medical procedure, they stuck me into a wheelchair wide enough that I could have invited several friends to share the ride. The tech who wheeled my groggy self down the hallway said they have only one “normal” sized chair now. And yes, the reason is what you probably think.


“My Dog, the Paradox.” An oldie but goodie from The Oatmeal.


“Scientists” (that is, social scientists again) survey youth gun carrying and jump to conclusions that have no basis outside of their own prejudices. (H/T LarryA)

If the idea that Wyoming is likely to be more rife with “youth gun violence” than New Jersey or New York makes you laugh, howl away.

This “science” reminds me of that survey I received long ago from the Bradys asking, with much implied alarm, if I’d heard gunfire in my neighborhood recently. Given that I lived directly between a small pistol range and a plinking quarry at the time, the Bradys would no doubt have thought I spent my life hiding under the bed in terror of all the “violence.”


Carl Sagan’s baloney-detection kit is very good and well worth a revisit.

But when I got this link from MJR it reminded me that, for all that eminent man’s good work in popularizing science, he (being human) didn’t always practice what he preached.

Sagan was anti-gun, and in the most irrational way. He didn’t examine the facts. He didn’t study the data. He didn’t ask questions. He just “knew” guns were shivery-icky-baddy-bad-bad. It’s been a while, but I believe I discovered those gooey opinions of his while reading his otherwise fascinating paean to rational thought, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark.

The very book that produced the fine baloney detector.


Okay, to finish up, here’s a video of the world’s kindest junkyard dog. Awwwwwww.


  1. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty September 25, 2015 5:46 am

    I’ve lived in rural NE Wyoming for ten years. I very seldom see anyone carrying a gun of any kind, anywhere except the gun club range. In fact, I’m the only one I know who routinely carries a gun everywhere, and I’m considered the oddball by many.

    The “youth” of this area don’t carry guns that I’ve seen. Many of them do hunt with their families, take hunter safety class at a young age, and there is a large 4H group that shoots .22 rifles weekly at our local gun club. Most of our kids are familiar with guns, their families have and use guns responsibly, and there is no hysteria when they see or handle one.

    We don’t have any “youth gun violence” at all. And hardly any other kind… A gas drive off and a bad check in the same day would be considered a “crime wave” here. 🙂

  2. Kent McManigal
    Kent McManigal September 25, 2015 8:04 am

    In the oversized wheelchair you could have had “fun” by constantly falling over and explaining that you needed a normal sized chair to hold you upright. And then whined about a bias against non-morbidly obese people.

    Sometimes I look around me and think “This is what has become of my species?” Huge, waddling, out-of-breath people with their mouths hanging open. Many on oxygen riding the motorized shopping carts. The saddest part is they believe they can’t change it, and if you suggest they could, they come up with a list of medical reasons why they are powerless. As they eat a meal that would feed a family.

    I know, it isn’t polite to notice. I have my own issues that I could (and should) change. But I don’t whine to be accommodated, either.

  3. Sagebrush Dog Walker
    Sagebrush Dog Walker September 25, 2015 8:15 am

    “Youth gun violence”, very funny. I have lots of children carrying guns around me. The only ones that are afraid are the antelope, ducks, and collectivists, not necessarily in that order. 😉

  4. LarryA
    LarryA September 25, 2015 8:39 am

    A bit more “eventful” in our small town, population 22,000. Our crime rate’s about half the national average.

    The “youth” of this area don’t carry guns that I’ve seen.

    “During the past 30 days, on how many days did you carry a gun?”

    Teenager: “Well, let’s see. I went hunting five times, Mom and I went to the range twice to sight-in before hunting, and 4-H once a week is four more, so I’ll put down that I carried a gun 10 out of the last 30 days. That’ll put their panties in a bunch.” [grin]

    Xuan and Hemenway: “OMG! OMG! OMG!”

    Somewhat on topic, Texas Hunter Education graduates over the past five years, mostly teens and tweens:
    2010 – 41,785
    2011 – 43,645
    2012 – 45,719
    2013 – 59,597
    2014 – 72,026

    I sorta understand Snowflake. Not so much on airplanes, but I do find myself wishing seats in general were wider.

    Part of that is extra pounds my doctor’s been bugging me to lose, but most of it’s snagging chair arms with my gun and spare magazine and cellphone and flashlight and…

  5. Paul Bonneau
    Paul Bonneau September 25, 2015 8:51 am

    David Hemenway has been cranking out fake “studies” for decades. It’s amazing even the Ministry of Propaganda gives him any credibility.

    Thanks for that link on Sagan; sounds like a book worth having. I’d add one line to his baloney detection toolkit: “Understand that 80% of human knowledge is bullshit.” We used to (affectionately) call Carl Sagan “Professor Billions and Billions”. 🙂

  6. david
    david September 25, 2015 8:58 am

    I noticed what seems to be an absence of any correlation of ‘youts carrying guns’ to any sort of gun crime at all. Could it be that the study’s authors are simply trying to imply that we should be scared of kids with guns, because well, Guns?

    I”m also noticing that there seems to be a social assumption that as OUR seats get wider, we can expect that somebody ELSE should be making chairs and vehicle seats wider to match. That seems to me to be just another case of expecting someone else to fix our own problems. If my hiney gets too big for my truck’s seat, it’s MY fault, not Ford’s.

  7. LarryA
    LarryA September 25, 2015 10:02 am

    I’m also noticing that there seems to be a social assumption that as OUR seats get wider, we can expect that somebody ELSE should be making chairs and vehicle seats wider to match.

    From a free market prospective, seats should be getting wider. Just like clothes today are made to fit taller people because, compared to the past, people average taller today.

    But I don’t want Congress mandating wider seats or taller clothes, or regulating diets to force butts to get smaller.

  8. Matt, another
    Matt, another September 25, 2015 10:13 am

    The gun violence (limited as it is) in our town is not from youths (assuming it means persons under 18years of age). The violence is from adults, often with histories of violent behavior and while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. I don’t recall the last time I saw a youth with a firearm that wasn’t at a shooting range or hunting with family.

  9. Bear
    Bear September 25, 2015 10:30 am

    At 6′ height, it’s the legroom that used to get me. Bad enough when the passenger in front of me would recline and hit my knees, but one flight…

    Sheesh. The seats were so close together that I could not sit with my feet on the floor. I had to pull my legs up toward my chest and brace them against the forward seat back (and then that guy wanted to recline).

  10. Paul Bonneau
    Paul Bonneau September 25, 2015 11:06 am

    [From a free market prospective, seats should be getting wider.]

    Not necessarily. Some airlines might go the other direction, charging lower fares for sardine seating. In a free market, you get higher diversity in choices.

  11. Pat
    Pat September 25, 2015 11:18 am

    Actually passenger space has been getting smaller over the past (at least) 30 years. There used to be more room both seat-wise and in leg/reclining space. The airlines have diminished seat size so they could squeeze more passengers onboard. The fact that people are larger – for whatever reason – is irrelevant to the airlines’ intent; it just makes the squeezing more obvious. (Also there are three passengers abreast now, whereas once-upon-a-time there were only two abreast, even in coach.

  12. MJR
    MJR September 25, 2015 12:07 pm

    My wife used to work in the airline/travel industry and the stuff she would tell me… Airliner seat pitch, yep they are getting smaller and if guys like the owner of Ryan-air get their way you will soon be standing on short haul flights to get more people on board. Why? The profit margins they operate under are actually very small. When you cost in union salaries, government greed (taxes & landing fees) and add in people wanting the “best” deal plus some very fierce competition this equals a lot of money. Don’t believe me? Google the prospectus of any of the major airlines. There is an old joke about airlines… The fastest way to become a millionaire is to be a billionaire and buy an airline.

  13. Bob
    Bob September 25, 2015 12:55 pm

    In high school years ago, our senior play involved a couple of guns. We had a 12 gauge shotgun and a starter pistol as props. Try that in school today! Interestingly, the guy who brought the shotgun to use in the play wound up in Vietnam after graduating, and when he came home he was never able to adjust to society again. He lived on the street the rest of his life, as far as I know. Now there’s some “youth violence” for you.

  14. TXCOMT
    TXCOMT September 26, 2015 11:35 pm

    Just because they come with shorter stocks than adult-sized models is no reason to be violent toward a youth gun! You can almost always restock ’em to fit a full-grown man or woman.


  15. Winston
    Winston September 27, 2015 1:28 am

    It seems like behind every brilliant soul lurks some really not so brilliant ideas.

    Bill Nye has been saying some moronic stuff lately too…always loved him, as a 90s kid I always loved his show but damn he really needs to shut the hell up and stop using his science guy cred in the liberal political arena. Stick to teaching kids about the world works and stay off your soap box dude.

  16. Claire
    Claire September 27, 2015 8:46 am

    “It seems like behind every brilliant soul lurks some really not so brilliant ideas.”

    So true. In fact, there’s even a minor tradition among Nobel Prize winners for going off onto crazy tangents after doing their prizewinning work (psychic experiments, UFOs, weird unprovable theories). But yeah, people who “get political” and are taken seriously only because they’re perceived as experts at something else entirely are the worst. No better than movie stars whose views on gun control or the minimum wage are given credence just because they’re famous.

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