A libertarian friend who runs in alien circles recently discovered the unattended cell phone of one of Mitt Romney’s primary opponents.  Appallingly, he could not resist the temptation to take a look and — as the phone turned out not to be password protected — perpetrated a truly massive, hour-long invasion of privacy.

And discovered not even a trace of scandal or hypocrisy.

Wrong-headed as this 2012 presidential contender assuredly is, he appears to be upright and completely sincere in his beliefs (which did not surprise me).

But that got me to thinking how dumb it is for anyone with private content on his or her phone not to enable the password feature.  And that got me to thinking that, as the iPhone uses a 4-digit key, your password is one of just 9999 possible numbers . . . so if it’s possible to enter 30 erroneous ones a minute — and it is — an evil-doer could correctly “guess” yours within five or six mind-numbing hours.  Tops.

At least with the iPhone and iPad (and perhaps your Android or Blackberry) there is a solution: enable the feature to “erase all data after 10 failed password attempts.”  No matter how much you’ve had to drink, how fat your thumbs, or how bumpy your stagecoach, there’s no way you would enter the password wrong 10 times in a row.   And even if you did, with your data backed up to the Cloud and/or your computer — who cares?

To enable this feature, go to SETTINGS / GENERAL / PASSCODE LOCK.  It’s the last option . . . you have to scroll down to see it.


By the time I finally get around to writing about Chris Hayes’ Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy (Monday!), you may already have read it.  But no harm.  It deserves all the teasers it can get.

I thought I should use today to post your good thoughts on guns.


Fred Johnson:  “David Neal’s opinion and reasoning yesterday left me angry.  He is wrong to lay our gun problem at the doorstep of inequality.  The connection is terribly tenuous at best.  I hope you read and perhaps quote Adam Gopnik’s newest piece at The New Yorker where his reasoning and references to David Hemenway’s research on guns is far more valuable in understanding and curing the problem.”

Artie:  “There’s a lot that can be laid at the doorstep of economic inequality, but I don’t think that massacres like Newtown are among them. Both the shooters in the Newtown and Aurora attacks came from well to do families.”

Clare Durst:  “I agree with David Neal that you won’t get rid of the violence by banning certain kinds of guns, but the question of the gun culture does need to be addressed. If only somehow it could be made as socially unacceptable to have ‘assault-type’ rifles, as it is to smoke. Not easy, but that is what is needed.  Many years passed when people warned that the tobacco industry was invincible. It wasn’t.”

Dana Dlott:  “[Yes,] Mexico has strict gun control and massive gun violence.  Does this mean gun control is futile?  Mexico has an out of control neighbor to the North that floods their country with powerful weapons.  Fortunately the US does not have this problem.  I will take David Neal’s Roman army analogy more seriously when I start seeing headlines about drive-by broadswordings.”

Joel Grow:  “Gun control has worked very, very well for the Aussies since a similar tragedy.  Huge drops in gun deaths, homicides in general, and no mass shootings…tougher ownership laws, assault weapon buy-back program.  Here.  (‘After a 1996 firearm massacre in Tasmania in which 35 people died, Australian governments united to remove semi-automatic and pump-action shotguns and rifles from civilian possession, as a key component of gun law reforms. …   In the 18 years before the gun law reforms, there were 13 mass shootings in Australia, and none in the 10.5 years afterwards.’)  Here.  And here.  (‘Australia has much in common with the United States. It was initially settled by teeming masses — in its case, largely convicts — fleeing England. Its identity was forged in the populating of its vast, empty spaces. And today it retains a considerable frontier mentality, and a considerable amount of ranching and hunting.  But the similarities end when it comes to guns. While gun ownership has been a part of Australians’ way of life, they have a much more utilitarian view of their purpose…’)”

John Leeds:  “Found this immediately on searching about gun control in Switzerland [a fascinating brief history of Switzerland — if you have three minutes, read it! — A.T.] and this.  While guns and ammo are widely available in Switzerland, according to , automatic weapons are not purchasable, and there are a host of rules governing gun ownership and possession of a gun in public.  For 700 years, Switzerland has been a militia based country.  Every male member of that nation IS the militia. I know from a Swiss friend that every male goes through basic training and has a period of time each year, perhaps a week or two, that he must serve actively.  This means that every male is well-trained in the use and safe storage of weapons and ammo, and that each male is indoctrinated that guns are a responsibility to the nation, not the self.  That is, they are for national protection, not self-defense.  In the end, while guns are widespread and easy to obtain in Switzerland if you follow the rules, there are rules; i.e. there is gun control.  And indoctrination into the rules starts in toddlerhood or before.  Like Switzerland, we do need rules, and we need rules adapted to our populace.”

Tom Martel:  “How about this as a framework to solve the problem?  First, consider what has changed in the last 30 years that has contributed to mass killing?  A hundred fifty years ago boys were walking to school carrying their rifles and no one was killed.  Sixty years ago High Schools sponsored Rifle Teams and no one was killed.  Psychiatric drugs have become popular to treat a variety of behaviors in the last 30 years.  Violent video game have become popular entertainment for young men in the last 30 years. . . . So how about this:  (1.)  Before a psychiatric drug may be administered to a male under the age of 50, the responsible adult (other than the recipient) must sign a statement indicating there are no violent video games or weapons in their home.  In addition they must also be blacklisted on the background database for purchasing weapons.  (2.)  Before a violent video game can be sold, the buyer must sign a statement that all weapons in that home are secure under lock and key, and that the game will not be used by anyone using psychiatric drugs.”

☞  Regulation like that would drive some people crazy.  And I suspect we don’t want to do anything to discourage potential mass murderers from getting the psychiatric drugs they need.  But there is definitely food here for thought.

Barry Basden:  “An essay on our sad times: ‘This Is My Rifle.‘ ”

☞  Indeed.




Comments are closed.