[snip] Ask questions first, shoot later. A National Research Council committee that includes economists Joel Horowitz of Northwestern University and Steven Levitt of the University of Chicago has found that nobody really knows whether popular measures against gun violence do any good (December 16 National Academics press release). For instance, there’s no credible evidence that right-to-carry laws either decrease or increase violent crime, and almost no evidence that violence-prevention programs intended to steer children away from guns actually do so. One big problem: researchers lack good information on who owns guns and how they’re used.

[snip] A relatively good time to be a baby. According to the Progressive Policy Institute’s “Trade Fact of the Week” (November 24), “In 1955, 148 of every thousand children died before their first birthday; in other words, the first year of life at the time was as dangerous as military service in the Second World War….By 1980, improved clean water and vaccination policies had brought the figure down to 79 per thousand; as of 2002 it was 55.”

[snip] The judge of fishing. “Unfortunately, Chicago must be the worst place in the world for anyone who likes to fish,” says Judge Robert Gettleman of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in a November interview (http://underneaththeirrobes.blogs.com). “Although we have a rather large body of fresh water just down the street from where I live and work, the fish in it are not terribly interesting. There are no lakes or streams nearby that are worth wetting a line in. To do any serious fishing I have to get on a plane, which I do several times a year.”

[snip] “It doesn’t take a lawyer to figure out that when somebody has committed a crime, you’ve got to turn them in,” appellate court judge Anne Burke tells U.S. Catholic (January), reflecting on her two and a half years serving on the National Review Board as it dealt with the Catholic clergy’s sexual-abuse crisis. “The church taught us that. That in itself is mind-boggling: Here we were taught as children what to do–how to be good, moral, ethical people, and that if you see something bad, you’ve got to tell your mom and dad or call the police–we were trained to do that by the very people who completely failed to do that themselves. . . . Why didn’t you [the bishops] call the police on this horrible crime you knew about? They have no answer for that. No answer.”

[snip] “No theory of justice can free warriors from guilt,” writes Garry Wills, reviewing Michael Walzer’s book Arguing About War in the New York Review of Books (November 18). “They may have to kill, but they give rein to atrocities all the same, since even a just war is a fountain of evil.”

[snip] Research results that don’t surprise. “Sporting events differed in the proportion of commercials that showed violence or unsafe behavior,” reports the electronic version of Pediatrics (December 6). “The Super Bowl had the highest proportion of such commercials, and the Masters Golf Tournament had the least.” In fact, it had none.