I usually drop by Albright's Gun Shop in Easton. I know little about guns, although I support the 2nd Amendment. Here you find gun enthusiasts…not gun nuts. A couple of years ago, I was in Albright's when the conversation about Vice President Cheney's hunting accident was all over the store. It turns out that Cheney bought his shot (ammo) at Albright’s. It makes perfect sense, since Cheney lives in St. Michael's, Maryland, not too far away.
Looking at rifles with nice wood and shiny metal, I began to see these guns as what could be a family heirloom down the road. A fellow at Albright's took time from explaining to reporters on the phone about Cheney's ammunitions preferences to explain the rifle to me. It was made in Brooklyn, he explained. Wow. You have to come this far to get something made in your hometown.
I never bought the rifle. But there is something about the culture in that old shop, where sons and fathers congregate, that is oddly enough – peaceful? This Thanksgiving weekend I noticed that Albright's was far more crowded than I had ever seen it. It seems to me that gun enthusiasts, hunters, and outdoorsmen are concerned about the new administration and the gun control legislation that might come with it. Along with that, prices have gone up a bit – but that may be due to the general economic situation.
This is a change that we hear about on talk radio, but we rarely see in New York. I know we have hunters and gun owners, but hunting, owning rifles, and visiting places like Albright's are part of the general gestalt of living in the South. The new president knows this, but it's easy to overlook how much a part of their culture this is. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the coming months.
At the end of semester, when teaching college courses in political science, I would submit a booklist, which was in no way a requirement, but instead suggestions that students might find interesting. Since my e-mail is often from students, here are some very good books that are new and exciting:
In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan
You may have seen me reference Pollan in this column. I reach him when I write about food and nutrition issues. Pollan explains how we are in a culture of nutritionism, and that we have gotten stuck in a cycle of eating processed foods, which are not only bad for us, but bad for the environment. It is not a long, dull academic read, however. Pollan explains our relationship to food in a very simple way. How we eat is directly connected to how we farm, and how we use energy.
The Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcom Gladwell
Gladwell writes about understanding certain types of phenomenon. He explains in Outliers why some people are successful and why some are not. To Gladwell, genetics are not the main reason for certain extraordinary success. He explains that there is a 10,000 hour rule. The Beatles played 1,200 live concerts before hitting it big (which amounted to 10,000 hours) and Bill Gates logged in an estimated 10,000 hours on a high school computer in which he was lucky to have access. To Gladwell, success stories, such as Asian students having a tendency to be proficient at math, might be a combination of hard work, cultural legacy, and luck. Gladwell has written for The New Yorker, The Washington Post, and logged in ten years at The American Spectator - talk about 10,000 hours.
The Great Comeback: How Abraham Lincoln Beat the Odds to Win the 1860 Republican Nomination by Gary Ecelbarger
If you're in need of a pick-me-up this year, this is it. Lincoln was in the lowest of political places at one time, even having trouble in his own party. I'll try not to spoil the ending, but he winds up doing okay for himself.