Monday, January 30, 2012

Do Guns Make You Safe?

Over on Facebook, a friend shared a story about an elderly woman who was pulled over. The officer discovered that she had a variety of guns in the car. (She had a permit.) The story ends with the woman saying that she's not scared of "a f***ing thing," the implication clearly being that it's because she has firepower at her disposal. A friend chimed in that there's "nothing for one's piece of mind that good, reliable piece of the gun maker's craft," to which I replied:
Yet, oddly, *not* owning a gun makes you safer, statistically speaking. Chalk one up for human irrationality!
I recall having read this statistic although I freely admit I can't remember the source, or any specific study that backs it up, which makes me wonder how true it may be.

The easiest way to frame the question is: Does owning a gun actually make you safer?

If people with guns are safer than people without guns, then the increased peace of mind is fully justified ... but are they?

Cause and Effect
First of all, let's be clear on what I said ... or, more specifically, what I did not say. I did not say that buying a gun, by itself, makes someone less safe. I said that statistically speaking someone who doesn't own a gun is more safe than someone who owns a gun. Even if the statistic is true, this doesn't mean that the gun itself is the cause of the decrease in safety. In fact, likely far from it.

For example, it's very reasonable to think that many people who have legitimate fears for their safety would go out and buy a gun, such as in the case of someone who has received specific death threats. In this case, the gun isn't the cause in the decrease of safety. These people are already in a situation where they're afraid for their lives, and the gun is an effect, not a cause, of the decreased safety. This is perfectly in line with my above statement.

Or, alternately (and probably more commonly), someone who has an illegitimate fear for their safety goes out and buys in a gun. As I will show, it's actually very unlikely that most people will be a victim of violent crime, so if you're afraid of being a target, it's probably a misplaced fear. In other words, I would argue that people who fall in this category are more prone to excessive amounts of stress over unnecessary things, and you're far more likely to die from stress-related causes (heart disease, stroke, etc.) than from a firearm, according to the CDC.

I suspect that the results of my analysis will say that guns do increase safety, but that's in part because I don't have the research capacity to actually look into all of the demographic information involved.

How Prevalent is Violent Crime?

The point is that a gun gives one "piece of mind," which presumably comes from the idea that the gun offers protection from potential harm. In other words, the gun is acting as insurance. If you are in a situation where a gun can protect you from harm, then this feeling might be perfectly justified.

According to the FBI's Uniform Crime Report, in 2010 there were 1,246,248 violent crimes. Here are other statistics from that report: 
  • There were an estimated 403.6 violent crimes per 100,000 inhabitants in 2010. 
  • Aggravated assaults accounted for the highest number of violent crimes reported to law enforcement at 62.5 percent. Robbery comprised 29.5 percent of violent crimes, forcible rape accounted for 6.8 percent, and murder accounted for 1.2 percent of estimated violent crimes in 2010. 
  • Information collected regarding type of weapon showed that firearms were used in 67.5 percent of the Nation’s murders, 41.4 percent of robberies, and 20.6 percent of aggravated assaults. (Weapons data are not collected for forcible rape.)
Using the 403.6 violent crimes per 100,000 inhabitants figure, if we assume that crimes are distributed randomly among the population, then the probability of being the victim of a violent crime is 0.4% in 2010.

Now, the intelligent reader will argue that there are no doubt more crimes than this, because certainly violent crimes happen which the police never learn of. I'll grant this point. In fact, looking at previous years shows that this is actually a fairly low rate even among the crimes that law enforcement knows about. (In 2008, for example, it was closer to 0.45%.) The Crime Victimization Survey 2010 indicates that 50% of crimes are never reported, but I'm assuming that the Uniform Crime Report includes all of these, not just the ones that are actually reported.

One other factor, which is harder to nail down, is about crimes that are completely averted because of the presence of a gun. In a 1994 study, criminologist Gary Kleck indicated that he believed (based on survey data) that somewhere between 800,000 and 2.5 million crimes were averted because of the presence of a gun. (Oddly, many of those citing him, including Wikipedia, reference only the 2.5 million number. Biased much?)

Still, we can assume that there are a fair number of crimes out there which take place if not for the presence of guns. For the sake of argument, let's assume that there's a real massive unseen sea of lawlessness out there, and in fact there are twice as many violent crimes (or attempted ones) as those that law enforcement officially included in their Uniform Crime Report.

Using our new, probably-high estimate, we end up with a 0.8% chance of a random person being the victim of a violent crime. Let's round up to an even 1%!

Demographic Considerations

I have, of course, vastly over-simplified things. Among gun-owners in America, the vast majority don't own guns for protection, but rather own them for hunting and other sport activities. And most of these people live in rural areas. (Reference: Gun politics in the United States, Wikipedia.) Therefore, the majority of guns are in rural areas, but the majority of crime is in urban areas.

Similarly, our previous (high) estimate of 1% was assuming that violent crimes are evenly distributed among the population, but that's almost certainly not true. Some people are more likely to be victims of violent crimes. People, for reasons both legitimate and illegitimate, end up in situations that make them more likely to become the target of a violent crime, such as:

  • convenience store clerks (robbery target)
  • coin shop proprietors (robbery target)
  • drug dealers (criminals / hang out with criminals / robbery target)
  • drug users (wrong place / wrong time / hang out with criminals)
  • money launderers for the mob (hang out with criminals)
  • people who steal from the mob (piss off criminals)
  • off-duty policy officers (revenge / piss off criminals)

You get the idea. Some of these people, legitimately realizing that they're likely going to be targets of criminals, are also likely to own a firearm. (My local coin shop, for example, features a prominently displayed handgun in easy reach of the clerk.) These people have a reasonable expectation that they may enter into a situation where there is violence, and where a gun might save their life, so they may well be justified in having an increased peace of mind. (I would argue, however, that their peace of mind could be increased even more by going into another line of work that lowers their risk of being assaulted.)

In fact, most of these people would probably be in a situation to be victims over and over again, which further throws off the statistical prediction (already very high) that the average person has a 1% chance of being the victim of a violent crime in a given year.

Do You Need a Gun?

In a given year, then, saying that there's an 1% chance that our hypothetical "average person" would be the victim of a violent crime is a very high estimate. If 25% of American adults own firearms (according to Wikipedia), that means that we have over 78,000,000 gun owners in the United States. Using these numbers, we would therefore expect that about 780,000 gun owners would be targets of violent crimes. Of course, many criminals are also gun owners, so these aren't necessarily going to be "innocent" people, but that's not really relevant to the analysis.
Note: This again throws the earlier statistics from Kleck into question. It's unrealistic to believe that 780,000 gun owners are able to prevent 2.5 million crimes a year by virtue of having their guns. Even the low estimate of 800,000 is highly questionable. This reassures us that we're making estimates that are skewed, if anywhere, in favor of gun ownership being beneficial. Of course, it may be that they're counting the deterrent effect of people like my coin shop owner having a gun on display, which I imagine does prevent people from being too stupid and trying to rob him on a whim.
However, are those 780,000 gun owners really safer? (For the sake of argument, we will assume that the gun owner is carrying their gun when targeted by a violent crime - yet another bias in favor of the gun owner.) It seems to me like violent attacks come in two varieties:

  • Attempts to do harm (possibly with robbery as a motive)
  • Robbery (with the intent to do harm if needed)

Based on the Uniform Crime Statistics, it looks like about 25% of the violent crimes are robberies. (Presumably if someone is shot and robbed, it would count as a murder, not a robbery, but that's not really clear from the report and I don't have the time to dive much deeper into the data than I already am.)

Therefore, it would seem that there will be about 535,000 direct assaults on gun owners with the specific intent to do them harm. In other words, the goal of the violent crime is murder, aggravated assault, or rape. Presumably these 535,000 people are able to prevent the assault, either by referencing the weapon, displaying it, or shooting the assailant. There may be a handful where the person only planned to beat the person up but they changed to murder when the victim pulled a gun, but I'm going to assume this is a negligible situation.

Now, on to robberies. Using our approximations, there are 195,000 people who are robbed while carrying a firearm. Again, the Uniform Crime Report indicates that firearms are used in about 42% of robberies, so we have 113,100 cases where the victim has "outgunned" the attacker and 81,900 cases where they're pulling a gun on a robber with a gun.

My assumption is that the average robber actually would prefer to take the money (or car or whatever) and run, without having to shoot anyone. Therefore, in these 81,900 cases, I'd say that the person pulling the gun has actually now escalated an already bad situation, and probably increased the likelihood that someone - possibly themselves - will be shot. I have no reasonable way to evaluate how these scenarios typically play out, so I'll just call this a wash: let's say there's a 50/50 chance a person in this situation comes out without being shot. However, if they had just handed over their wallet, I'm assuming the robber would have left, which means that the ownership of a gun has increased the chance that you'll be shot in about 40,000 cases.

We'll assume that the robber without a gun surrenders or runs away, although there is a possibility of the gun owner being stabbed while going for the gun or that the robber tries to wrestle it away or something.

So, in other words, using these assumptions we have the following results:

  • 40,000 cases - gun owner escalates the situation and gets hurt
  • 740,000 cases - gun owner prevents a violent crime

Certainly, it does look like (on average) if you are going to be the victim of a violent crime, then you come out ahead if you're carrying a firearm. That's to be expected, of course, so it's nice that our estimates have confirmed intuition.

Now, though, let's keep in mind the various pro-gun ownership assumptions needed to reach these numbers:

  • A high probability of being a target of violent crime, evenly distributed randomly among the population.
  • All gun owners possess a gun appropriate for personal protection
  • All gun owners always carry the gun (or at least when being victimized)
  • The vast majority of gun owners are successfully able to use the gun to thwart the crime (except for the handful who I assume escalate danger during a robbery)

But what about the rest of the population?

The 99%

Our various pro-gun assumptions do have consequences for the rest of the population.

Specifically, we are now assuming that there are 78,000,000 gun-owners who are continuously within arm's reach of their firearm at any given moment. For one thing, this means that every criminal who owns a gun is always carrying it with him, which means our earlier estimates of the number of gun-related crimes was likely fairly low.

In 2004, the CDC reports a total of 750 accidental shootings of various types and around 18,700 suicides by firearms. The low shooting rate is likely in part because most people keep their guns (which, remember, are mostly used for hunting and other sporting activities) safely stowed, locked up, and unloaded, the vast majority of the time.

I think that even pro-gun advocates would agree we don't want all gun owners to have guns quite this accessible, and that doing so would likely increase the amount of gun injuries and deaths. Even if you assume that all gun owners are proficient in handling their gun, and you assume that there's a 1-in-a-million chance that an experienced gun-owner has a mishap that results in injury, you end up the following:

78,000,000 gun owners handling guns 3 times a day (at least) for 365 days a year = 85,410,000,000 gun interactions

Even a one-in-a-million chance of accident is going to be bad in this firearm utopia, resulting in:

85,410 gun accidents a year.

Still, the 740,000 hypothetical violent crimes that have been prevented are more than enough to probably justify these 85,410 gun accidents.

As I said at the beginning, though, these statistics have been fairly easy to find or extrapolate, but what's a lot less clear is the hidden correlation. Do gun owners stress out more or less than non-gun owners? What other demographic trends are there? Does the gun-owning population live more high-risk lifestyles, either in legitimate ways (hunting) or illegal ones (drug dealing)?

So, in short, it looks like guns may make you a bit more safe ... but the real takeaway from all of this research is, for me, that you really weren't that unsafe in the first place!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Sam Harris on Lying

I'm not much for lying. For one thing, I tend to suck at it. Very badly, in fact. I giggle a lot when lying, which doesn't help carry off the subterfuge.

So I avoid lying, mostly. At times, I probably go out of my way, blurting out my thoughts on issues where it would be better to keep silent. I actually love debating and, as any readers of this blog know, I love being a devil's advocate, so if someone says something that I see any reason to disagree with, I'm likely to actually voice that disagreement ... even if, in general, I agree with the overall sentiment.

That's not to say that I never lie, though.

For example, I have carried out the cultural myth-building around Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny for both of my children ... feeling some measure of guilt and confusion even as I have done so. It causes cognitive dissonance, but I do love Santa Claus, and can't imagine being the jerk who dis-spells that particular illusion in my children.

Probably the worst "real" lying I've done in recent years has been focused around one thing: food. I'm diabetic and regularly sneak food that isn't good for me, and I'll go out of my way to hide this from my wife. It's caused several fights, though, and she knows that the one thing she can't trust me with is food. My wife would prefer that I not be poisoning my body with sugary foods. (She's picky that way.) As such, this lack of self control - and the lying related to it - has actually led to some of the strongest tension in our marriage.

And that, ultimately, is Sam Harris' point in this essay - released exclusively on the Kindle as part of the Kindle Singles line of short e-books. Using primarily anecdotes and personal reflections, Harris makes his case that lying in any form erodes the trust that forms the foundation of any relationship. It's a compelling case, especially when he argues that even white lies erode trust.

But as I said in my review, the biggest problem is that in describing his approach of radical honesty, the scientific evidence isn't front-and-center, but rather takes something of a back seat to the anecdotes.

There are some discussions of the science, though. For example, Harris explains that evidence suggestions that the erosion of trust works both ways. Liars are actually more distrustful of the people they deceive than they would otherwise be. This revelation carries a bit less weight than it could have, though, because the research isn't described, it's only footnoted. For people like me who really enjoy hearing how these things are tested, it fell a bit short of my expectations.

However, if you've ever felt like you'd like to be more honest, to avoid the lying that seems so prevalent in our social conventions, Harris does make a compelling case that it is possible to live a kind and social life while avoiding any sort of overt dishonesty. It's not his best work, but it's still a fun (and quick!) read.

The other good news is that the essay is very cheap - only $1.99 at the time of this writing.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Unintended Consequences: Religious Freedom, Unless You're a Minister

This week, the Supreme Court unanimously decided in favor of religious institutions being able to make decisions about who they hire and fire, without government interference. While this is certainly a strong decision in favor of religious freedom, I think that those who are heralding this as a resounding success for religion as a whole are missing the point. While this decision does protect the rights of a religious institution, I think that it does so at the expense of ministers' rights.

I don't follow Supreme Court cases very closely, but this week two of my Facebook friends led me to links about a recent case which was being portrayed as a key decision in favor of religious freedom against an administration that was seeking greater government control over religious institutions. The articles they pointed to are here, here, and here.

Now, none of these articles actually describe the specifics of this case - specifically, why she was fired - which instantly caused me to think there was more to the story. A quick search brought me to the actual Supreme Court decision and to this PBS Newshour discussion of the topic:

In short, here are the specifics of the case as I understand them:

  • Cheryl Perich was a "lay teacher" at  Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School. 
  • She underwent extra religious training to become a "called teacher," which includes an official title of "Minister of Religion, Commissioned."
  • Perich developed narcolepsy and began the 2004-2005 school year on medical disability leave.
  • She tried to return in February, but was told a lay teacher was filling her position through the remainder of the year.
  • She was offered a deal on medical benefits if she agreed to resign. 
  • She refused to resign and showed up for work in February, refusing to leave until she received written documentation that she had come in for work.
  • She was told that she was going to be fired, at which point she said that she had rights under the American with Disabilities Act.
  • Because she was disruptive, insubordinate, and had threatened legal action - and in general damaged her "working relationship" with the church and school - the school fired her.
  • She filed a lawsuit on the basis that she had been fired for her disability and threatening legal action. (You normally can't be fired for threatening to exercise your rights under ADA.)

The Supreme Court has never officially ruled on whether labor laws apply to religious officials, but the lower courts have long recognized a "ministerial exemption" to labor laws. Perich lost the first case, but on appeal she won, because the appeals court decided that she didn't really count as a "minister." This is what brought it to the Supreme Court, whose ruling was:

  1. Yes, Perich did count as a minister.
  2. Yes, there is a ministerial exemption to the ADA (and, presumably, other workplace discrimination laws)
  3. No, we aren't going to clearly define what a minister is. That will be left for each individual case. These cases can still be brought to court.

It should be noted that this was a unanimous decision.

Is This a Religious Question?
Let me first say that I do think the court's unanimous decision on this was the right one. The Constitution clearly lays out religious exception from federal control, and the justices across the board ruled that this shouldn't be tampered with.

Requiring a church to accept or retain an unwanted minister, or punishing a church for failing to do so, intrudes upon more than a mere employment decision.  Such action interferes with the internal governance of the church, depriving the church of control over the selection of those who will personify its beliefs. By imposing an unwanted minister, the state infringes the Free Exercise Clause, which protects a religious group’s right to shape its own faith and mission through its appointments.  According the state the power to determine which individuals will minister to the faithful also violates the Establishment Clause, which prohibits government involvement in such ecclesiastical decisions.

However, part of the reason that this case is so powerful is that the circumstances are not at all religious. This minister/teacher wasn't fired for violating any sort of religious code, or because she did not "personify its beliefs."
She was fired because she had narcolepsy and they replaced her while she was on medical leave.
As far as I can tell, if she had remained a "lay teacher" and had never gone to the trouble of being classified as a "called teacher," she would have been fully protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act, because the "ministerial exception" wouldn't have applied.

So, in other words, the very fact that she became a minister robbed her of certain rights!

Because of this, it looks like the EEOC took the tactic of arguing not only that she wasn't a minister, but that even if she was a minister, the ministerial exemption wouldn't apply. The justices had no choice but to knock aside such an argument and they did so unanimously.

But what exactly are the consequences of this decision?

Churches Can Discriminate
What intrigues me about this case is that, if I understand it correctly, it has basically codified that ministers cannot have any legal job protection. It is, in essence, placing the rights of the religious institution above the rights of the individual religious person. (This is assuming, of course, that you concede the point of the American with Disabilities Act, that Americans have a right to not be discriminated against because of having a disability.)

The irony of this really cannot be overstated.
The one place in America where a person with a disability has no legal rights against discrimination is if they choose to become a minister for a church.
Concern 1: Unethical Churches
My wife brought up one concern immediately. Having grown up evangelical, she is used to churches that talk about "ministry" in very sweeping terms. She pointed out that she could well imagine unethical churches writing their contracts so the janitors are serving a ministry of cleanliness, or the secretaries are serving a ministry of organization.

I'm not too concerned about this sort of maneuver. The decision does point out that "... such a title [as minister], by itself, does not automatically ensure coverage [under the ministerial exemption]..." There's no indication within the decision that a janitor would fall under the ministerial exemption (although Justice Thomas's brief on the case apparently says that courts shouldn't second-guess a church's designation of who is or is not a minister).

Concern 2: The Disabled Minister
No, my bigger concern is that this ruling will have a negative impact on religious people exercising their individual religious convictions.

For example, let's consider a person who has a disability and feels a calling to go into religious work as a minister. Let's assume this person knows that their disability will, at some point, require them to go on leaves of absence for surgery or other forms of treatment.

This court decision now places an added burden on that person, because they will be foregoing all legal protections to which they would have been entitled if they'd gone into another field. When they go on medical leave, they'll have to wonder if they'll come back to find that they've been replaced. They'll have to go to the added trouble of negotiating all of these things into their contracts up front, instead of relying on the ADA to protect them. (The Supreme Court decision makes it clear that churches can still be targeted with non-discrimination lawsuits, such as those for breach of contract or worker injury claims.)

The decision to go into the ministry always involves sacrifice (unless you're making millions of dollars running a megachurch or television ministry) but this decision seems to me that it is removing from ministers a right which everyone else in the country has: the right to be protected from job discrimination based on disabilities.

And in all of the stories where people are declaring this as a victory for religious liberty, that message seems to be getting lost.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Books Read in 2011

Every year, I like to look back at all of the books I've read in the previous year. In the days to come, I'll no doubt be putting together a more comprehensive retrospective of my other 2011 activities, but this is a good starting point. So, on to the list (with links to my reviews, when I got around to actually reviewing them):

The Books

  1. Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld (audiobook)
  2. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
  3. The Wealthy Writer by Michael Meanwell
  4. The Hacker Ethic and the Spirit of the Information Age by Pekka Himanen
  5. A Hacker Manifesto by McKenzie Wark
  6. The Moral Landscape by Sam Harris (audiobook)
  7. Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation by Steven Johnson (audiobook)
  8. Rollback by Robert J. Sawyer (re-read)
  9. Hacking Work: Breaking Stupid Rules for Smart Results by Bill Jensen and Josh Klein (audiobook)
  10. Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World by Jane McGonigal (audiobook)
  11. I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore
  12. The Gospel According to Jesus by Christopher Seay (audiobook)
  13. The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
  14. WWW: Wonder by Robert J. Sawyer
  15. The Desert of Souls by Howard Andrew Jones
  16. The Amazing Story of Quantum Physics by James Kakalios (audiobook)
  17. The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff
  18. Our Choice by Al Gore (abridged audiobook)
  19. Evil Plans: Having Fun on the Road to World Domination by Hugh McLeod
  20. Quantum Man: Richard Feynman’s Life in Science by Lawrence Krauss (audiobook)
  21. The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos by Brian Greene (Kindle)
  22. Goblin Tales by Jim C. Hines (Kindle)
  23. Wild Hunt by Margaret Ronald
  24. Soul Hunt by Margaret Ronald
  25. Identity Crisis by Brad Meltzer, Rags Morales, & Michael Bair (graphic novel)
  26. Superman: Earth One by J. Michael Straczynski & Shane Davis (graphic novel)
  27. JLA: Crisis of Conscience by Geoff Johns, et. al. (graphic novel)
  28. Infinite Crisis by Geoff Johns, et. al. (graphic novel)
  29. The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature by Steven Pinker (abridged audiobook)
  30. Superman: New Krypton vol. 1-4 by Geoff Johns, et. al. (graphic novel)
  31. Feynman by James Octaviani (graphic novel)
  32. Pathfinder Tales: Death's Heretic by James L. Sutter
  33. What Technology Wants by Kevin Kelly (Kindle)
  34. Practical Wisdom: The Right Way to Do the Right Thing by Barry Schwartz & Kenneth Sharpe (audiobook)
  35. Pathfinder Tales: Plague of Shadows by Howard Andrew Jones
  36. Goliath by Scott Westerfeld
  37. Kitemaster & Other Stories by Jim C. Hines (Kindle)
  38. Superheroes: The Best of Philosophy and Pop Culture edited by William Irwin (Kindle - free!)
  39. The Spiritual Power of Nonviolence: Interfaith Understanding for a Future Without War by George Wolfe (Kindle)
  40. Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America by Shawn Lawrence Otto
  41. A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
  42. A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin (Kindle)
  43. A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin (Kindle)
  44. The Lost Gate by Orson Scott Card (audiobook)
  45. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham (Kindle - free or get the illustrated edition!)

Analysis - My Kindle Transformation

The record-keeping this year got a bit more complex, as I caught up on some graphic novels and decided to include them in the count. The total book counts came out to:

  • 26 books read (9 on the Kindle)
  • 7 graphic novels
  • 12 audiobooks

By and large, I've switched to buying new books on the Kindle (on my iPad app), with two exceptions:

  • I know the author and will want the book autographed
  • Review books still come in hardcopy, because publicists have yet to catch on to the idea of offering digital review copies
It took me a while to warm up to the digital books, but I'm finding it a very good format to read, especially on the iPad. The technology has progressed to the point where I do not miss the hardcopy books. Pretty much all of the books that I purchased in the second half of 2011 were in Kindle format.

The major benefit of Kindle (or other digital editions) for me is in the ability to make notes and search the book. The non-fiction I read (and even much of the fiction) is for research purposes, and being able to make notes and highlights within the book as I go is immensely valuable.

A secondary benefit of the iPad is that I am able to read with the lights off while my wife is sleeping. There's an option to switch to a black background with white text, and I find that this doesn't provide the backlighting problems that sometimes can come from a bright white background with black text.

A quick tally indicates to me that about 17 of them were purchased by me (although some were purchased before 2011), 5 were provided as free review copies from the publisher, 2 were obtained as free Kindle editions (links above), leaving 21 that I got from the library, which also now offers Kindle editions.

My number of audiobooks (mostly from the library) have also dropped dramatically, primarily because I've begun listening to podcasts (especially physics podcasts) more often than audiobooks. Also, I have begun working at home full time, so my 4+ hours of commuting time a week is gone, which also drops the amount of time I have to listen to anything.

The History

Here are some of my previous reading lists, offered here merely for the sake of completeness: