Tuesday, September 30, 2014

EC Hansen publishes 'cli fi' epic poem titled ''THE EPIC OF CLAIR''


In a recent email exchange with American poet EC Hansen, author of a
new cli fi epic poem title "THE EPIC OF CLAIR," I asked the
Baltimore-based writer a few questions about the poem, how he wrote
it, genres, movies and more. Below are excerpts from his part of the
conversation, with headers by this blogger:


What the poem is about:

"' 'The Epic of Clair' imagines what would have happened if oil collapsed in
2008 along with banking and real estate.  In the October before the
election of that year, when another Great Depression seemed imminent, I
started to wonder, "So what really would happen if banks completely
collapsed?  Certainly things will go to hell for some time, but might there
be an upswing nobody in the media is mentioning?"  And then the BP Gulf oil
spill of 2010 furthered my wondering.  I kept hearing that oil companies
were taking greater and greater risks to reach usable crude.

''Signs suggested that we really had entered dangerous new territory.  Oil
needed to end, but what then?  In the book, I had to insist on a certain
realism with myself.  No doubt, the end of oil would trigger conflicts on
the local level like we saw shortly after Hurricane Sandy.  I reasoned that
the suburbs, so enormously dependent on roads, big stores, and corporations
would fare the worst.  But, paradoxically, inner cities actually might do
better if a collectivist economy developed around backyard gardens, barter,
and civility to neighbors.

''My main character, Clair, is an anxious fifteen-year old girl who can't get
to school anymore because her father, a teacher, is unable to drive across
the Twin Cities without affordable gas.  Only the rich have reserves to
horde.  But Clair's mother, who used to be under-employed, is a master
gardener, and she actually does well in the new vegetable-trade
economy.  When it appears that cities might reap the promise of paradise in
the old Persian sense, the suburbs invade for food.

''Recently, an older black woman at a book festival in
Baltimore was intrigued by the premise of The Epic of Clair, and she read
through several pages.  She looked up and said, "Yep.  People are going to
wonder, 'Where's the food? Where's the peanut butter?'"

''The epic form happened on its own.  I started writing the book as a novel,
and the pace felt plodding and diary-like.  I happened to be reading The
Odyssey at the time to my twelve-year-old son, and it struck me how the
poetic lines just rolled along.  So then I tried a draft in iambic
pentameter, which indeed flew like a ship in a gale.  The book began to
write itself.  Interestingly, the ten-beat meter started to steer the story
on its own; everybody thinks I wrote an epic poem strictly as a nod to the
past, but the remarkable thing is that the form had its own hand in the
narrative.  At the same time, the epic poem does seem relevant as a form
because in ancient times it belonged to bards who were telling the
community stories they really needed to hear for survival.  Stories about
enormous forces, like the gods, like runaway weather, which the people
could not control.  Massive issues require an epic form, not the quiet,
confiding, diary-like voice implied by prose novels. I talked about the
form in an interview which aired Oct. 3, on Baltimore
Public Radio WYPR's program, The Signal.''

The poet's  writing background:

''I have a MFA in creative writing from Hamline University in St. Paul.
Mostly, I wrote traditional, personal, one-page poems, and, yes, some sold
to magazines.  But I also studied with Carol Bly, the author of Changing
the Bully Who Rules the World; she believed that writers should put moral
concern at the heart of their work.  Lots of people thought she was too
dogmatic as a teacher and an artist, but Carol struck me as the most
daring, powerful thinker I had ever met.  She reached back to writers like
Tolstoy, who did not set his beliefs aside when he wrote.  I have been
deeply concerned about climate change since the late nineties.  So, using a
line of reasoning from Carol Bly, I asked myself, "What is the book I most
desperately wish to see on store shelves but never manage to find?"  That
is the book I wrote.  ''The Epic of Clair'' addresses, as honestly as possible,
my deepest worries, beliefs, and hopes.

''My favorite writers are Bly, her ex-husband Robert Bly, Linda Gregg, Jack
Gilbert, Barry Lopez, Thomas McGrath, Mary Ruefle,  Hesse, Paul Celan.
Gutsy poets and writers who didn't care what the mainstream media thought,
who lived their lives and wrote books at once painful, gorgeous, and true.
I just finished a young-adult book called ''The Children of the King'' by Sonya
Hartnett, which I loved; it's beautifully written, charming, and morally
intelligent in ways that only young-adult titles dare to be.  Also, I plan
to study C.G. Jung's writings until I dry into dust; after all, he knew a
big change was on the horizon, and in ''The Red Book'', during his darkest
personal crisis, he spoke to his dead for answers.''

Marketing and distributing a cli fi poetry book:

''I wrote setting aside all judgment about the book's marketability.  I wrote
with blind faith and, frankly, to save myself from despair, which spiralled
at its worse into symptomatic vertigo.  But then, after drafting the
manuscript over two years, I began to send it out.  Big agents and
publishers wouldn't touch it.  Who has heard of a best-selling epic poem?
Yet I found a small indie publisher in Spokane Washington, Ilium Press,
which had published two epics and a first-rate historical novel.  The book
was released on Oct. 7.  I've been trying to build a readership through word of
mouth; the big reviewing magazines either ignore the book or don't get its
premise.  Some encouragement came from the success of ''The Wake'' by Paul
Kingsnorth, who is one of the Dark Mountain Group writers.  His book was
crowd-funded but then long-listed for the Booker Prize.  So anything can

Reader reactions:

"Readers have said the book is a breath of
fresh air and surprisingly hopeful, in spite of the fears it raises.  ''The
Secret of the Golden Flower'' says don't worry about success and just try to
collect one's heart, so I'm trying to follow that old Taoist
advice but falling short, daily.

A cli fi poem:

''Somebody who heard the book's premise, I think an English professor at
Goucher College in Towson, Maryland, said, "You're book's cli-fi!"  The
term caught my attention because it suggests a whole new genre is required
to capture artistic work aimed at the enormity of climate problems facing
human beings.  It has an urgency unimaginable in a lot, though not all, of
traditional sci-fi, in Asimov's robots.''

Readings, promotions, a book tour:

''Bookstores serve
the big publishers, mostly.  I did speak and read from the book  at
the Baltimore Book Festival, and I was at the Rain Taxi Book
Festival in the Twin Cities.  People are pretty startled by how
easily the iambic pentameter rolls along; they hear "epic" and think of
ninth-grade English class.''

"Only Lovers Left Alive" is a favorite cli fi movie:

''Jim Jarmusch made such a beautiful, timely movie in "Only Lovers Left
Alive."  At the heart is the despair of Adam, played by Tom Hiddleston, who
sees how humankind is ruining the planet.  His wife, played by Tilda Swinton,
points out that when southern cities burn in the future, Detroit on its
lake will become a mecca.  But their failing supply of blood symbolizes how
thirsty all of us are going to get.

On the word "vampire" never used throughout the film:

''Yes.  As a friend of mine, musician Bob Keal of Small Sur said, "It's a
vampire movie for people who aren't into vampires." LOL''

World's first 'cli fi' novel from a member of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) -- titled SKLYLIGHT-- was penned by former special assistant to Ronald Reagan as director of the White House of Policy Information

Kevin Hopkins is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) and loves the distinction, as this blog details below, of being the first "Mormon" cli-fi author with his new novel titled ''SKYLIGHT.''

[A member of the adminstration of former USA President Ronald Reagan -- http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=42874 --Mr Hopkins
server as Special Assistant to the President, as Director of the White House Office of Policy Information in the 1980s, where he reported directly to Edwin L. Harper, Assistant to the President for Policy Development. Since March 1982, he had served as Deputy Director of the Office of Policy Information and Special Assistant to the President and previously, Mr. Hopkins had, since the beginning of the administration, served as Special Assistant to the President for Policy Development. He worked as senior policy analyst in both the Reagan primary and general election Presidential transition team. Prior to that, he was a research analyst for Citizens for the Republic in Los Angeles and an instructor in economics at the University of Missouri. A native of Kansas City, Mr Hopkins graduated summa cum laude with a degree in economics and mathematics from William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri.]

In a recently email interview conducted with Mr Hopkins via his publishers in Utah, we asked him a few questions about the book and its genesis.

QUESTION: Can we call ''SKYLIGHT'' a cli fi novel since it is about climate
issues and fits neatly into the new genre that the NYT and NPR has
written about? Have you heard of the cli fi term before and why do you
think it fits your book or why does your novel fit into the cli fi
genre field?

ANSWER: SKYLIGHT absolutely fits into the cli fi genre. I believe it's an
archetypical book for that category--one that is focused on climate
issue but that also raises serious political and moral issues. In
fact, I have compared SKYLIGHT to books like "The Coming Global
Superstorm" and "Nature's End" and movies like "The Day After
Tomorrow," which were serious predecessors in this genre. I had not
heard the term before your mentioning it to me.

2. What does the title SKYLIGHT mean or stand for? Any hints for readers?

ANSWER: In the book, SKYLIGHT is the name of a futuristic enclosed "mini-city"
powered exclusively by solar power--which would be an apt name for such
a facility if it existed in the real world. But the name as the book's
title also has metaphorical meaning. First, I wanted something that
related to solar power--the book's central technology. Second, the
environmental catastrophe that opens the book is an atmospheric event
in which oxygen is suddenly depleted -- hence, a lite (as in empty) sky.
Finally, a skylight is a window that allows light in from above in an
otherwise enclosed structure. One of the themes of SKYLIGHT is the
importance of providing real hope (light) to people even amid
desperate times.

3. Are you an optimist or pessimist re climate change issues and
global warming?

I am an optimist where technology and innovation are concerned. I
think that history shows that, whenever humankind has faced a serious
challenge, they have found a way to overcome it.

However, I am a pessimist where politics and the conventional wisdom
are concerned. I think--and history has shown--that a great deal of
damage can be done in the name of supposedly "doing good." While I
don't think the atmospheric catastrophe depicted in SKYLIGHT will
happen any time soon (although I recognize that it could), I DO think
that, if such an event were to occur, the political response depicted
in SKYLIGHT is a depressingly likely result.

4. Do you see a bright future for humankind or do you feel we are at a
crossroads that might be hard to get across in terms of stopping
climate change if we can?

As noted in the answer to the above question, I see a bright future
for humankind as far as the ability to overcome problems are
concerned. I think that history has consistently proven the
Malthusians, the Luddies, and other technological skeptics dead wrong.
For instance, despite some claims that the world will soon run out of
oil, there was a news story today that a new, never-before known oil
field was just discovered in the Gulf of Mexico. On the other hand, I
DO think we are at a definite crossroads in terms of freedom and
liberty. So much of the world is moving in directions diametrically
opposed to liberty and order, and the American response has been tepid
at best. The Roman Empire, the Dark Ages, and the Russian "evil
empire" are proof that political and social forces CAN create darkness
that even the light of technology and innovation has a very difficult
time extinguishing.

5. Why do you think Americans are so divided over climate change and
global warming issues? Can this divide ever be fixed and we all come
together? Do you feel your novel can help people on both sides of the
aisle come together on these issues? Is that one reason why you wrote
the book?

To answer your last question first, yes--that is the primary reason I
wrote the book. One of the book's main theses--borne out by sound
scientific research--is that, even if environmental catastrophe is upon
us and even if every plank in the environmentalists' agenda were
adopted, this would do almost nothing to halt the environmental
threats that the climate-change believers are so worried about. To
paraphrase [former USA vice president] Al Gore, this is the REAL "inconvenient truth" that almost
never is raised in the environmental debate. Or take the new movie
"Pump," which professes to offer the "solution" to the climate-change
crisis--but that solution is nothing more than an assemblage of the
same, limited-effect ideas that drive the environmental agenda today.
The real solution has to this challenge has to be one that is
politically acceptable to all sides--and that will actually SOLVE the
problem. The current environmentalist agenda meets neither criterion.
SKYLIGHT offers a conceptual approach that satisfies both.

6. Why did you write this novel? What inspired you or motivated you?
Was there one special moment or insight that servied to get the novel
 going in your mind? Explain?

The answer to this question is detailed in the Author's Note in the
book, but the short explanation is this. The seeds for SKYLIGHT (which
were actually written first in another novel that I wrote but never
published) originated in the energy crisis of the late 1970s, in which
the government's proposed response included such restrictive schemes
as no-drive days and fuel-purchase limits. I thought, "there has to be
a better way." A couple of decades later, when the common response to
the then-new climate-change crisis was to take steps that would
undermine or even--in the extreme--shut down the economy, my reaction
was the same: "There has to be a better way." I wrote SKYLIGHT
motivated by the conviction that there IS a better way--one that
protects BOTH the environment and economic well-being--but that, in
order to achieve it, we have to move far beyond the superficial
bumper-sticker proclamations that govern the current climate-change

7. Who are you potential targeted readers? Climate activists like Bill
McKibben or climate denialists like Marc Morano, or middle-of-the-road

My target readers, in general, are anyone who likes an exciting,
emotionally compelling story.

In specific, however, my target reader is anyone who cares about the
future of our planet AND our society.

I hope that climate denialists will read the book and realize that
maybe the climate-change debate DOES need to be taken seriously. I
hope that climate activists will read the book and realize that, in
order to achieve what they hope to achieve, their "solutions" would
have to do grave damage to our society and people's quality of
life -- and that a REAL solution is what's needed. And I hope that
middle-of-the-road readers will realize that this IS an issue that
they need to start paying attention to -- for their children's sake even
if not for their own.

8. Any chance of translations to foreign nations such as France or
Germany? Any editions set for UK or Australia yet?

That would depend upon my publisher and the level of books sales.
Certainly, I would love for that to happen. Even though SKYLIGHT is
set exclusively in the United States, the catastrophic depicted in the
book--and the issue itself in the real world--are profoundly global in
nature. In fact, the greatest threats to our atmosphere today come not
from the United States but from countries like China and India -- nations
collectively responsible for 25% of the world's greenhouse gases and
whose leaders pointedly REFUSED to attend the United Nations Climate
Summit this past week.

9. Who is your publisher?

SKYLIGHT was published by Sweetwater Books, an imprint of Cedar Fort
Publishing Company. Cedar Fort is a small and
experienced publisher that publishes books both for the regional
market and for the national market. In a day in which securing a
publisher is next-to-impossible for most authors who are not
well-known, I am deeply grateful and honored that Cedar Fort chose to
publish my book.
 And yes, I am honored to the first Mormon writer to publish a novel in the newly emerging genre that's been dubbed ''cli fi''.

10. Do you or did you have agent to find a publisher for the book or
 how did you find the publisher?

Back in the 1980s, I had a big-name Hollywood agent for the previous
incarnation of SKYLIGHT - -a purely political thriller without an
environmental catastrophe called "An Act of State," which I viewed as
the next "Advise and Consent" -- but at nearly 1,000 pages, the book was
far too long and, frankly, not that well-written.

When I wrote SKYLIGHT, I did manage to secure an agent who dealt
mostly with the large, New York-based publishers, but it was at a very
down time for the book market and, while we secured a lot of interest
from publishers, we never achieved a deal.

One year later, a good friend of mine named Erik Olsen suggested that
I sent SKYLIGHT to his publisher, Cedar Fort. I did and, a few months
later, was very pleasantly surprised to receive a publishing contract.

Monday, September 29, 2014

''The Rover'' in running for CLIFFIES awards -- a uma categoria no Cli Fi Movie Awards


Eu acho que David ficará intrigado e encantado com isso. O "Cliffies" Cli Fi Movie Awards é uma premiação criada por Danny Bloom para homenagear filmes que fazem as pessoas pensarem sobre as questões climáticas, tanto a favor e contra o aquecimento global e as mudanças climáticas. De acordo com o blogsite de Danny.

"O filme australiano -" The Rover ", dirigido por David Michod - está na corrida para o prêmio de cinema em Hollywood apelidado de "The Cliffies". Nome oficial da premiação é "O Cli Fi Movie Awards" e ele irá reconhecer anualmente e homenagear os melhores filmes do ano temático ao clima. Para a lista de nomeações de 2014, "The Rover" está competindo com "Snowpiercer" da Coreia do Sul e vários filmes de Hollywood, incluindo "Noah" e "Into the Storm", de Christopher Nolan "Interstellar", com lançamento previsto para 07 de novembro no EUA, também estará na disputa, uma vez que é lançado." O prêmio será realizada no início de 2015.

Fonte | Via | Irmandade Robsten Legacy


Saturday, September 27, 2014


Wild experience just now. My iPhone disappeared last night, and I used the FindFriends app to locate it at a residence that I'd never heard of 15 miles away from where I live. My email and phone are pasted on my phone, and no one answered when I called and texted the phone. So Sheryl and I drove to the house, and as she sat in the car ready to call 911, I went and knocked on the door. No answer. We drove away and came back a bit later, and knocked again. Still no answer. So we came back later--after dark, which was creepy--and the lights were on and it was clear somebody was home. I knocked and pounded on the door for five minutes, and finally a guy answered. "I think you have my phone," I said. "Your phone?" he asked. "YOU HAVE MY PHONE," I repeated. "Oh, your phone?" And he handed it over just like that. Whew!
 · 留言
  • Amy Estess Donovan 、 Rocio Sanabria 、 William H. Smith 以及其他 5,572 人都說讚。
  • Michele Fosket Paolini If I had Nicholas Kristof's iPhone, I would make him come in and autograph everything not nailed down in my house. 
  • Glenna Dumey Are you insane? ALWAYS take the cops.
  • Adam Copeland I'm fascinated by the majority of comments here suggesting this was a "stupid" or "knuckleheaded" action. Have we really gotten to the point in our society where it's dangerous to knock on a door, when somebody is clearly home, and have a conversation ......查看更多
  • David Clinch Wow! I used find my iphone once to see where my son's stolen phone was but didn't have the guts to go get it so I just wiped it remotely.
  • Amy Erekson Varga How do we know this is not creepy iPhone thief posting this from your phone? 
  • Gary A. Richards You are clearly nuts
  • Katey Brown Take the police with you next time! Too scary. We need you to stay with us, Nick! I'll send you another phone...
  • Betsy Thomas Molter Hopefully no nude selfies on that thing. 
  • Roopa Ravi Nicholas Kristof, i thought you knew better than that. Your life is too precious to be risked for an iphone.
  • Tom Smith Didja notice if he had my camera?
  • Bo Young Lee This is actually a very good example of male and white privilege. A female would never assume she could do this and get away alive. A POC would be even more concerned. As both a woman and a POC I would have definitely wanted police to accompany me. That you felt even remotely safe in this situation speaks to how conditioned you are to think someone might actually respect you enough not to harm you.
  • Katelyn Oldham You are showing your rural Oregon roots with that do-it-yourself recovery.
  • Evan Senkiw Never ceases to amaze me that in America it is perfectly normal and acceptable for everyone to be so utterly removed from the others in their own country, that simply knocking on someone else's door is presupposed dangerous.
  • Ruth Pendergrast Glad you didn't get shot.
  • Bo Young Lee Also in perusing some of the comments it seems that the few people who are having the reaction "it's sad that people can't knock on each others door." all seem to be white men. In fact, those of us who have been historically marginalized are taught that we don't have the privilege to randomly go up to strange houses and knock on them.
  • Chris Senz Yamhill farm kid... takin' charge!
  • Elaine Replogle Not sure that your methods were advisable, but glad you have your phone back!
  • Judith Scott-Hammerquist This is why some people are journalists and some people sit home and read. This reader salutes you !
  • Laura Franceschini Gee, I didn't know US was such a dangerous place that one could die for an iPhone. I am living in The Netherlands and if you don't mind me saying so: through movies and telly I had a different feeling about the "land of the free and the home of the brave"... Isn't it time to ban guns to private people there?
  • Lynne Foster Shifriss With the app, our son's friend posted a text to his own phone offering a $50 reward, no questions asked. It worked.
    • Camila Henriques Much smarter than banging on the thief's door...
  • Vimal J Singh Good you got it back. But please tell everyone not to do this on your own. Let the police do it.
  • Jackie O'Sullivan Not smart, and not worth it. Next time, remotely wipe and lock the phone. And I hope your restlessness does not encourage anyone else to pull such a stunt.
  • Julia Elizabeth Price So glad you won't wash up in a canal. I'd miss your column.
  • Nicole Ranger Crazy story but glad it ended well. Kids - don't try this at home 
  • Mike Janiga Nick if it happens again take the law with you before you knock, now how'd thy get the phone?
  • Vivian Wohl When I had left a brand new iPad on a plane in Miami airport I was able to send it a text with my number and an offer of a reward. Within a few hours I received a call from a gentleman working on the wheelchair assistance crew. I dashed to meet him. He was so delighted to return it and would not accept my reward despite numerous attempts. Kudos to this hard-working honest soul!
  • Margaret Lee These comments are insane. Have we really gotten to a point in our country where going to a thief's house 15 miles away elicits more shock and alarm than going to a lawless war zone where journalists are being beheaded?
    • Cee Fitz He can go to 12 more countries where terrible murders take place and it has no bearing on the strong possibility of being shot or beat up 15 miles away from his own house while trying to retrieve his own property. One type of danger, because it is so ugly, does not cancel out another type of danger.
  • Susan Coe I'd say you got more than a little lucky
  • Donna Marland That could have gone badly. Glad you're okay.
  • Lorie Conway the thief decided he just wasn't that into you...
  • Andr Ea Sheryl must love you very much.
  • Diana Campbell Roberts Ohhhh..THAT phone 
  • Heidi Fenz What kind of society do we live in when knocking on someone's door to retrieve a lost iPhone becomes a perceived as life-threatening adventure. Really?
  • Georgie Kearney That is the most foolhardy thing I've heard of by someone who should know waaaaay better!
  • Sheila Bedeila Where do you people think Mr. K lives anyway, Ciudad Juarez or Abidjan? I'm a middle aged female and I'd have done the same thing in my neighborhood. I don't need police protection to go get my phone from what is likely some pimple faced teenage punk, lol. However if my phone, in fact, does make it across the border to Juarez, I guess that would be a good enough reason to get the iPhone 6!
  • Simon Richu When I read the words "...pounded on the door...",I thought,"Renisha McBride".That was a dumb thing for you to do.
  • Padma Gopalakrishnan Very foolish thing to do. May be you did it to get a story out of it. No phone is worth banging the door of a stranger in a country where you can shoot 8 yrs before you can drive!
  • Charlie Perkins Wow! That is crazy! How did he get your phone?
  • Jane Shannon You are very clearly an investigative journalist - all the clues that would scare the pants off of anyone else you just moved past to the end goal ...
  • Bridget Lamb You are too valuable to the world to go taking chances like that!!! Please be careful!!!
  • Karen Bailey Gearhart Not blaming the victim here, but you were a complete knucklehead.
  • David Hamel At least there were no naked pictures. Or should I await tomorrow's TMZ headlines?
  • Denise Alvarez but i think if your daughter asked u if this was ok to do you would say NO!!!!!
  • Kevin Rung I love this story, mostly because it shows your judgment can be every bit as bad as mine.
  • Dan Atkins At least your wife was there to protect you.
  • Leslie Siegel Well, I am glad you lived to write about it. Call the police next time.
  • Fads Moustar With all due respect, that was the dumbest thing anyone could have ever done especially an educated man with your calibre. A phone is just an object that is easily replaced especially with today's technology ensuring you will experience minimal loss of......查看更多
  • Liriel Higa I guess facing down African warlords was good training.
  • Navaid Abidi Just be glad you are not Black and pounding door in FL.. shot in the face you would have been..
  • Carole Barron Glad you're both safe - but you're lucky. Not a best practice Nic.
  • 680則中的50則
EARLIER this month, my iPhone vanished.
I looked up its location on an app called Find My Friends that my wife and I use, and I had a shock: The app said my phone was in a house 15 miles away, in a neighborhood that I’d never visited.
I drove there. It was night. The house looked creepy.
My wife stayed in the car, cellphone in hand, ready to summon the cavalry. I walked to the front door and rang the doorbell.
Nothing. The lights were on, so I rang again and knocked hard. I spent five minutes ringing the doorbell and pounding on the door. Finally, a man emerged.
“I think you have my phone,” I explained tautly.
“Your phone?” he asked.
“Oh,” he said, “your phone.” He pulled it out, still with my name, email address and office phone number pasted on it, and meekly handed it over.
I left, no questions asked.
Full of myself, I posted about the adventure on social media — and provoked a firestorm. A typical comment on Facebook, from Glenna: “Are you insane?”
Many followers scolded me, while others — particularly those abroad — expressed bewilderment that it should be dangerous to knock on a door and ask for one’s property. Heidi asked: “What kind of society do we live in when knocking on someone’s door to retrieve a lost iPhone becomes perceived as life-threatening?” 
Put aside the question of whether I was a knucklehead. Isn’t there a larger question of why we tolerate a society so bristling with guns that such a quest may be perilous? Aren’t we all knuckleheads for tolerating such a threat?
About one-third of American households have guns, according to a Pew survey (a bit more, Gallup says), and these firearms kill 32,000 Americans a year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Just last month, a Detroit man, Theodore Wafer, 55, was convicted of second-degree murder for shooting Renisha McBride, 19, who apparently knocked on his door seeking help after she was in a car accident.
When I lived in Japan in the 1990s, I encountered bewilderment at the fate of a 16-year-old Japanese exchange student in Louisiana who had been invited to a Halloween party. The boy, Yoshihiro Hattori, mistakenly went to the wrong address and rang the bell.
The homeowner, Rodney Peairs, came out with a gun and shouted, “Freeze.” Yoshihiro didn’t understand. Peairs shot him in the chest, killing him. We, as a country, should be ashamed that this prompted the Japanese government to teach its citizens traveling to the United States the word “freeze.”
As for Peairs, he had to live with himself. He was later quoted as saying that he would never again use a gun.
We turn to guns in the belief that they will make us safer. Nonsense!
Sure, there are cases where guns are successfully used for self-defense, but a study in the journal Injury Prevention found that the purchase of a handgun was associated with 2.4 times the risk of being murdered and 6.8 times the risk of suicide. Several other studies confirm that a gun in the house significantly increases the risk that a person in the home will be murdered or commit suicide.
Partly that’s because we misperceive the risks. We imagine a home invasion, but a study in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that 76 percent of homicide victims knew their assailant. That study also said that men with guns in the home are 10 times as likely to commit suicide in the home as men without a gun. Look, there are no simple solutions when we already have 300 million guns circulating in America. It’s also fair to note that any single gun is not much of a danger (statistically, a child is more likely to die from a swimming pool at a house than from a gun in the house).

But, with so many guns, often kept loaded without trigger locks, the collective toll is enormous. Just since 1968, it has been calculated, more Americans have died from gunfire than have died in all the wars in our country’s history.
The simplest baby step forward would be to institute universal background checks before gun purchases, to prevent sales to criminals. That was favored by 92 percent of Americans in a poll last year, as well as by three-quarters of members of the National Rifle Association. Yet the N.R.A. leadership is so extreme that it fights even such a step, and craven politicians buckle to its will.

I may have been a fool for trying to reclaim my phone. But we’re all idiots for accepting a society where knocking on a door is a deadly risk.