Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Odds and ends.

I've been neglecting the blog lately. Partly real life interfering; partly summer doldrums. There are several things I've been meaning to post about, but have back-burnered. I'm going to mention them briefly here, and maybe get back to them later in more detail.

QE2 to Dubai. I was surprised to read that RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 (photo from Wikipedia Commons) was being withdrawn from service; even more surprised to be reminded that she's forty years old, and will be forty-one when she makes her final voyage in 2008. That means she's served longer than any other large passenger ship of the last century or so: longer than either of the first two Queens, the Aquitania, either Mauretania, the Ile de France or the Europa/Liberte, the America or the Vaterland/Leviathan.

I'm delighted that Dubai interests have purchased her for use as a floating hotel, thereby sparing her the breaker's torch. Having spent most of her career cruising the world, she'll be more at home in Dubai, which she may at some time have actually visited, than the first Queen Mary is in Long Beach, when she never got closer than 3,000 miles to California in her active days.

What I'm wishing is that someone will buy one of the few surviving relics of the transatlantic liner era - United States, which lies at a pier in Philadelphia (see here), seems the only realistic bet - and dock it somewhere near the old "ocean liner row" on the west side of New York City for use as a hotel or museum.

Blog shout-out: While we're on maritime matters, or if you're just interested in unusual New York City scenes, take a look at Tugster.

Guns: I've been meaning to do a post on the Second Amendment, in light of the Virginia Tech shootings and the controversy over Mayor Bloomberg's attempts to stem the flow of handguns into New York City. I'm not an anti-gun fanatic. I'm familiar with, and have fired, many types of firearms, both in my brief Army career and with friends who live outside the City. Nevertheless, I've held the view that the Second Amendment was never intended to protect an individual right to own arms; only to allow the formation of state militias, i.e. the National Guard. My position was that a system of "local option" was best, with rural areas able to be more "liberal" (in the classic sense of the word) about gun ownership, and cities having the choice to be more restrictive (the prospect of a large portion of the population of New York City packing heat does give me the willies). It came as a surprise to me that as "liberal" (in the contemporary sense of the word) a constitutional law scholar as Larry Tribe has come to the conclusion that the Amendment does protect an individual right. Also, I've just started reading Michael Barone's Our First Revolution, in which the author claims (I haven't yet got to the relevant part) that the origin of the individual's right to bear arms is in the British "Glorious Revolution" of 1688. Stay tuned.

Update: (See comments below) Richard, who has taught a constitutional law seminar at my undergrad alma mater, South Florida, reminds me that Warren Burger, Nixon's choice for Chief Justice, was adamant about the Second Amendment's not protecting an individual right. Nevertheless, he says, he remembers Tribe's argument as convincing. I still need to read Tribe.

Meanwhile, Twiffer brings to mind a cartoon that Marty Redish had taped to his dorm room door during my first year of law school. It showed a guy in late eighteenth century garb haranguing a bunch of similarly dressed guys, saying something like, "Oh, come on, now. 'Freedom of speech' means freedom of speech. Everyone knows that." This isn't meant as a put-down, Twiff. There are lots of legal scholars who agree with you concerning the Second Amendment. My problem hasn't been so much with the word "militia" as with the words, "well ordered." Again, I'll have to read Tribe and Barone before giving a better response.