aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Thursday, April 19, 2007
Open Source traffic jam: Thunderbird 2 & Feisty Fawn
A big day for Open Source. Thunderbird 2:
Thunderbird 2, with its enhanced features, is intended to ease the organization of e-mail via message tags, advanced folder viewing, and speedier inbox and message searching.
Under its message tagging feature, users can assign single or multiple custom tags to their e-mail, such as “from mom” or “weekend projects.” Users would also be able to assign default tags, as well.
And Ubuntu’s Feisty Fawn:
Canonical on Thursday released version 7.04 of Ubuntu Linux, nicknamed Feisty Fawn, but the company’s Web site was unable to keep up with the demand for the software.
The up-and-coming Ubuntu has yet to attain the commercially blessed status of Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Novell’s Suse Linux Enterprise, which have been in the marketplace years longer and are certified to work with many software and hardware products. But Canonical‘s software has built a significant fan base with its twice-yearly updates, user-friendly values and cutesy naming scheme.
Farm bill or Food bill?
Michael Pollan has an essay coming in this weekend’s New York Times Magazine. In it he argues, persuasively, that we should recognize the farm bill for what it is - a food bill. For our food system is no longer made up of idyllic family farms meeting America’s needs, rather factory-style agribusinesses are but the producers of industrial raw materials for food processors.
A taste from the introduction:
A few years ago, an obesity researcher at the University of Washington named Adam Drewnowski ventured into the supermarket to solve a mystery. He wanted to figure out why it is that the most reliable predictor of obesity in America today is a person’s wealth. For most of history, after all, the poor have typically suffered from a shortage of calories, not a surfeit. So how is it that today the people with the least amount of money to spend on food are the ones most likely to be overweight?
Drewnowski gave himself a hypothetical dollar to spend, using it to purchase as many calories as he possibly could. He discovered that he could buy the most calories per dollar in the middle aisles of the supermarket, among the towering canyons of processed food and soft drink. (In the typical American supermarket, the fresh foods - dairy, meat, fish and produce - line the perimeter walls, while the imperishable packaged goods dominate the center.) Drewnowski found that a dollar could buy 1,200 calories of cookies or potato chips but only 250 calories of carrots. Looking for something to wash down those chips, he discovered that his dollar bought 875 calories of soda but only 170 calories of orange juice.
As a rule, processed foods are more “energy dense” than fresh foods: they contain less water and fiber but more added fat and sugar, which makes them both less filling and more fattening. These particular calories also happen to be the least healthful ones in the marketplace, which is why we call the foods that contain them “junk.Ã¢â‚¬Â� Drewnowski concluded that the rules of the food game in America are organized in such a way that if you are eating on a budget, the most rational economic strategy is to eat badly - and get fat.
I’ll have more later and will link when the story is brought out from behind the paywall.
GA “tourist attraction” town requires gun ownership
Old news given new resonance, there’s a university there, too. I didn’t even know:
KENNESAW, Ga., April 18 (Reuters) - The Virginia Tech killings have set off calls for tighter U.S. gun laws but anyone wanting to know why those demands likely will make little headway should visit Kennesaw, a town where owning a gun is both popular and mandatory.
The town north of Atlanta had little prominence until it passed a gun ordinance in 1982 that required all heads of a household to own a firearm and ammunition. [...]
Residents say they are comfortable with the image the gun law projects on the city as a bastion of gun freedom.
“There’s been no move to get rid of the law. Why would you?” said Robert Jones, president of the Kennesaw Historical Society. “The law is a great tourist attraction. It’s the town with the Gun Law.
The estimate is that 50% of residents now own guns. No one has been arrested for not owning a gun and “some residents said they found the law objectionable or silly and simply ignored it.” But what about the values and traditions of those who support the law?
Dent “Wildman” Myers, 76, styles himself as a keeper of the flame when it comes to Kennesaw’s gun ordinance. His downtown shop contains a cornucopia of artifacts, including old uniforms and dozens of flags of the Confederacy that fought the Union in part in defense of slavery in the Civil War. At the back is a Ku Klux Klan outfit with a noose and a hood.
There also are posters praising defenders of the white race, White Power CDs and a sign that reads: “No Dogs Allowed, No Negroes, No Mexicans.” Someone had crossed out the first part of the sign and added “Dogs Allowed.”
Myers said he wanted to protect the values that made the town and the South distinct from other parts of the United States.
Via The Moderate Voice, “There is no easy solution when fear and violence take possession of one’s mind and thought. Banning [guns], or having more and more strict legislation, alone would not help much.”
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
1,100 to 92 and still Genarlow sits in jail
You will recall that Georgia State Senate President pro tem Eric Johnson, R-Savannah, objected to the bill proposed by Sen. Emanuel Jones, D-Decatur, that would have allowed Genarlow Wilson’s case to be reconsidered because, said Johnson, it would “require the courts to revisit more than 1,100 cases like Wilson’s.”
After a prolonged debate, the amendment failed on a vote of 19-32.
Last year, the legislature reduced the penalties for such cases as part of a sweeping reform of the state’s sex crime and sex offender laws. The change, however, only affected cases after July.
Senate President pro tem Eric Johnson, R-Savannah, argued that Jones’ proposal could let predators out of prison early.
“Some of these, if not all of them, could be very dangerous people,” Johnson said. “I don’t think it’s worth the risk for just one or two of these people getting out.”
Jones estimated that his measure would affect 92 cases in the state. [...]
Johnson said Wilson would be better off taking a deal that has been offered to him for a new trial, a reduced prison sentence of five years and the possibility of getting off the sex offender registry in the future.
Let’s be clear, the bill didn’t release anyone, it allowed a judicial review. As to his suggestion for Genarlow, five years for consensual sex and only ”THE POSSIBILITY of getting off the sex offender registry in THE FUTURE”??? Despicably, inexplicably wrong! If that’s Georgia justice there is no justice in Georgia.
Google Docs presentation “feature”
Google Docs is very popular at my house; I expect the new promised presentation “feature” will go over well too:
Google’s planned presentation application will be just another feature of the Google Docs application, Rajen Seth, product manager for Google Enterprise Applications told InfoWorld.
Rather than appearing as a separate application within the Google Apps suite, the new Google presentation features will be just another feature, along side the document and spreadsheet features that are accessed by clicking on Documents within the Google desktop environment, he said.
“What you’ll see is similar to something like Google Docs. In terms of naming and branding, the way we look at it is as a feature of Google Docs and Spreadsheets,” Seth said.
The world according to Google:
In fact, “traditional office tools” as Seth calls them (aka Office) only cover one fourth of what Google considers must have functionality: document creation. The other three fourths—collaboration, document publishing and retrieval (aka search) aren’t part of the traditional Office suite, but are central to Google’s vision.
Cow update: The T-Bones!
The good news is that the cow cost considerably less than I thought. (And I feel like such a
rube city-slicker for it!) The bad news is that I over-cooked the first steaks I grilled from it. Said Doug, “If this were a restaurant, I’d send it back...”
The meat was tender and delicious nonetheless.
Gun Control Derby
[W]ho really was the first to “use the tragedy” for their “agenda” on this issue? Monday afternoon, in the White House’s first statement on the killings, President Bush’s spokesperson Dana Perino included this odd comment:“The president believes that there is a right for people to bear arms, but that all laws must be followed.”
It wasn’t until much later in the day—after 10 pm Monday—that Congressional Quarterly posted a piece, widely quoted on right-wing websites, reporting that Democrats in favor of gun control were pointing to the killings “as evidence of the need for tighter firearm restrictions.” Looks like Bush beat the gun control advocates there.
The conservative website Red State railed against Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) in a post with this lead:
If you think Democrats are gun control champions you’re sadly mistaken. Today the most visible supporters of gun control are New York Republicans; Democrats dumped gun control years ago:
Today, a substantial portion of the party’s new standard-bearers are pro-gun, or at least anti-gun control. Howard Dean, the former Vermont governor who now heads the Democratic National Committee and is the favorite of the new party power base emerging from the Internet, has long been an opponent of gun control. So has Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., the man whose squeaker victory in November gave Democrats control of the Senate and who was selected to give the party’s response to President Bush’s State of the Union address this year. Last month, one of Webb’s aides was arrested on his way in to a Senate building with one of Webb’s guns in his possession. Webb responded with a spirited defense of his right and need to bear arms. Even Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., the new Senate majority leader, is pro-gun.
Lenders a factor in neighborhood deterioration
On Marketplace last night we learned that foreclosures in California rose 800% since last year. (Lenders need oversight.) But the highest foreclosure rate is in Ohio. And there lenders lay low to avoid taxes and maintenance costs:
MHARI SAITO: It used to be that if a mortgage went bad, the local bank took back the house. And that local bank had to pay if the city maintained the house to keep up its resale value.
But these days, just try finding the owner. In the 1990s, banks started bundling loans and selling them as securities to investment, hedge and pension funds. Add that to the convulsions in the subprime industry, and you’ve got a noxious mix when it comes to Ohio’s ability to recover millions of dollars. [...]
Just try getting an owner to maintain a home if you can’t find them. What happens next is these boarded properties become magnets for criminals who trash them and gut them for any metal they can sell. That devastates resale value.
Larry Litton Jr., a loan servicer in Dallas, says lenders are stuck. Even if a property had some resale value, there’s virtually no market for it.LARRY LITTON JR: There’s some markets whenever you sell real estate, the only buyers may be investors. That perpetuates the problem. Because an investor buys a house, they put a tenant in the house, the house may not get fixed up. It becomes a cycle.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
RELATED: Matting Rotated QuickTime Videos.
No future in “exclusives”
[S]omeone asked Sandy Malcolm of CNN whether they paid Jamal Albaughouti for his video from the Virginia shooting. She said that he just uploaded it. But then they contacted him and negotiated exclusivity and, it seems, payment. I criticized the notion of exclusivity and argued that they’d be better off putting the video out there with a CNN ID to take credit for having gotten it and to get the idea across that one can submit news video to them. I also argued that they should give their videos permalinks and allow them to be embedded (she said they’re working on such things). This video has set a record for CNN, Malcolm said, with more than 2 million views. It could have even more. And by the way, of course, the video is up on YouTube. The value of an exclusive today lasts about 30 seconds.
Brzezinski on the War on Terror
Hilary Benn’s comments sent me back to a WaPo OpEd by Zbigniew Brzezinski, Terrorized by ‘War on Terror,’ How a Three-Word Mantra Has Undermined America:
The “war on terror” has created a culture of fear in America. The Bush administration’s elevation of these three words into a national mantra since the horrific events of 9/11 has had a pernicious impact on American democracy, on America’s psyche and on U.S. standing in the world. Using this phrase has actually undermined our ability to effectively confront the real challenges we face from fanatics who may use terrorism against us.
The damage these three words have done—a classic self-inflicted wound—is infinitely greater than any wild dreams entertained by the fanatical perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks when they were plotting against us in distant Afghan caves. The phrase itself is meaningless. It defines neither a geographic context nor our presumed enemies. Terrorism is not an enemy but a technique of warfare—political intimidation through the killing of unarmed non-combatants.
He articulates the impact - a culture of fear that obstructs reason and is reinforced by “security entrepreneurs, the mass media and the entertainment industry;” exponentially increasing “targets for would-be terrorists” (we’re all targets now) combined with illusory and ineffective “security” procedures that waste hundreds of millions of dollars and contribute to a siege mentality; and fear-bred intolerance that undermines fundamental notions of justice. “Innocent until proven guilty has been diluted if not undone.” - and concludes:
The events of 9/11 could have resulted in a truly global solidarity against extremism and terrorism. A global alliance of moderates, including Muslim ones, engaged in a deliberate campaign both to extirpate the specific terrorist networks and to terminate the political conflicts that spawn terrorism would have been more productive than a demagogically proclaimed and largely solitary U.S. “war on terror” against “Islamo-fascism.” Only a confidently determined and reasonable America can promote genuine international security which then leaves no political space for terrorism.
Where is the U.S. leader ready to say, “Enough of this hysteria, stop this paranoia”? Even in the face of future terrorist attacks, the likelihood of which cannot be denied, let us show some sense. Let us be true to our traditions.
Local television news fails miserably again
The Atlanta braodcast affiliates have “correspondents” on scene at VA Tech. Like there’s no local news happening in Atlanta??? A craven ratings grab that deserves to fail miserably, it won’t and we’ll hear more about how they’re just giving us what we want.
Sometimes human beings just can’t help but look.
If the market-driven media had to cash in on the tragedy - and I know that they do, it is their nature - the least they could have done is send people to Georgia Tech or UGA or our little campus and show that this tragedy has sent a shutter through college communities nationwide.
But worse, in ”Copycat Effect,” Loren Coleman looks at how this kind of media behavior actually causes tomorrow’s headlines.
RELATED: Jack Shafer in Slate In Praise of Insensitive Reporters:
There’s a thin line between responsible journalism and outrageous sensationalism, and bloodfests like the one in Blacksburg tend to erase it. If the networks weren’t pinging Facebook for leads, if the New York Times weren’t compiling a ”Portraits of Grief” for the Blacksburg kids right now-as I bet they are-and if the story came to a close tonight on Anderson Cooper’s show, readers and viewers would riot. As reporters intrude into the lives of the grieving to mine the story, they should be guided more by a sense of etiquette than ethics. If they don’t risk going too far, they’ll never go far enough.
He makes many good points; in the end I’m not sure I agree.
Britain not trapped in the War on Terror
International Development Secretary Hilary Benn in New York:
Mr Benn risked a diplomatic rift by lecturing the White House about the need to develop a more intelligent response to the challenges posed by terrorism. He said relying entirely on “hard power” - military force or economic measures - would not work. What was needed, he said, was “soft power” - listening and finding common ground on values and ideas. Mr Benn said: “In the UK, we do not use the phrase ‘war on terror’ because we can’t win by military means alone and because this isn’t us against one organised enemy with a clear identity and a coherent set of objectives. It is the vast majority of the people in the world ... against a small number of loose, shifting and disparate groups who have relatively little in common apart from their identification with others who share their distorted view of the world. By letting them feel part of something bigger, we give them strength.” He said later: “Words do count and that is why, since this is not something we can overcome by military means alone, we need to find other ways of describing what the challenge is.”
Tony Blair has rarely used the phrase, but his official spokesman backed away from supporting Mr Benn’s criticism, saying diplomatically: “We all use our own phraseology.”
My copy of Trapped in the War on Terror is on loan to a friend; I’ve still not read it. I bought it after hearing its author, University of Pennsylvania Political Science Professor Ian S. Lustick, in a podcast speech from Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. I urge you to listen too.
Obama fans in the Old South
You can definitely be sure from my e-mail address I’m not an Obama staffer, but I have a similar story to that of your earlier e-mailer. My dad grew up in Macon, Georgia in an all-white school he describes consistently as having gone to hell thanks to integration. He has never been personally racist to anyone of any background in his life, but he really thinks the world went to hell starting about 1960 and that civil rights went too far too fast. His dislike for the Sharptons and Jacksons of the world couldn’t be fiercer. The N-word is pretty much the standard noun many of his family members use to describe black people. His only vote for a Democrat in his lifetime was for Carter, out of Georgia patriotism.
I had the fun experience of watching Obama’s electrifying 2004 convention speech with him. My dad, who hadn’t heard of him, just said “He’s good.” As in, “ok, I liked this guy, but he’s a Democrat, so he must be a huckster. But he’s a talented one.”
Then, late last year, his updated view on Obama: “I think I could vote for him.” I could only turn around and smirk, once I’d picked my jaw up from the floor.
Monday, April 16, 2007
In memory of the VA Tech victims
in memory of the victims of the va tech shooting
Originally uploaded by Joits.
Coach calls Confederate flag embarrassing
The State, South Carolina’s largest newspaper, reports:
Steve Spurrier does not want to be a politician.
But the USC football coach believes the state would be a better place to live if the Confederate battle flag were removed from the State House grounds.
Spurrier brought up the flag issue Friday while accepting a leadership award from City Year at the service group’s Ripples of Hope banquet at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. Spurrier said Saturday that he believed he was in an appropriate setting to voice his opinion.
“It would make us a more progressive, better state, I think, if the flag was removed. But I’m not going to go on any big campaign to have it removed. That’s not my position,” Spurrier said in an interview with The State. “But if anyone were to ask me, that would certainly be my position. And I think everyone in there, it was their position, too.”
Spurrier said it was “embarrassing” last year when someone waved a Confederate battle flag behind the set of ESPN’s “GameDay” before the Gamecocks’ home game against Tennessee.
“Some clown or some dude was waving that big ol’ Confederate flag right behind them about the whole time they were on,” Spurrier said. [...]
Other South Carolina college football and basketball coaches, including Clemson’s Tommy Bowden and Larry Shyatt and USC’s Lou Holtz and Eddie Fogler, also have spoken out against the flag at various times, according to The Associated Press.
[Don] Gordon, a state officer with the Sons of Confederate Veterans, said Spurrier’s call for the removal of the flag was “the moral equivalent of calling our ancestors ‘nappy-headed hos.’”
AJC to Georgia AG: Break legal ranks to right a wrong
With a penchant for hovering below the radar, Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker is no Eliot Spitzer, the ex-top lawman in New York whose high-profile tenure won him the governorship of that state last year.
The question for supporters of Genarlow Wilson is whether Baker is a Roy Cooper, the North Carolina attorney general who threw out the charges last week against the three former Duke University lacrosse players accused of sexually assaulting a stripper at a party.
“There were many points in the case where caution would have served justice better than bravado,” said Cooper, explaining why he took the rare action of overruling a district attorney. “This case shows the enormous consequences of overreaching by a prosecutor.”
There was also prosecutorial overreach in Wilson’s case, and Baker would serve the cause of justice if he agreed that the courts should revisit the case. [...]
The issue here isn’t whether Wilson did something wrong. He did. The partying and the sex act - caught on video camera - aren’t behaviors that anyone should applaud or excuse. But the sentence outstrips the crime, especially considering the quirk in Georgia law that punished oral sex more severely than intercourse. Typically, elected attorneys general support district attorneys in such legal challenges. But as Cooper demonstrated, loyalty to legal brethren should not outweigh justice.
Lorne loves YouTube
The NY Observer says Lorne longs for YouTube:
“YouTube has been great for us,” [creator and executive producer of Saturday Night Live Lorne] Michaels reiterated.
Perhaps no other network show has gotten more out of the free video-sharing Web site than Saturday Night Live. Indeed, at the very moment the long-running program seems to be emerging from a years-long slump, producing sketches-not just lip-synch bloopers-that people actually want to share, discuss, and watch again and again, YouTube has been there, doing more to re-establish the show’s cultural relevance than any honcho at NBC.
So what does he have to say about the new News Corp/NBC Universal web venture promised for this summer?
“I think it should be clear, I don’t quite understand what NBC is doing with Fox,” said Mr. Michaels. “It sounds-” Mr. Michaels paused. “Cool. But it all seems like it’s still shaking out.”
The article goes on to point out that as the political season heats up, SNL stands to miss what might otherwise be a big boost from its political sketches spreading virally on the net. If its own YouTube channel is any indication of what is to come - poorly selected clips with pre-roll ads that are only likely to get worse - we’ll all just go somewhere else.
I’ll go where it’s best and easiest. I’m among those many minions invited (and accepted) for the Joost beta. Their service doesn’t live up to its tagline - “TV, the way you want it” - I haven’t even gotten round to downloading. That very requirement bugs me (and only support for Intel Macs, I might ad).
The longer these guys hold up access to their content the longer we the people have to develop and refine our own. They live in the figmentary sky-high value of their own imagination. Their stuff’s not worth what they think it is! I want my peer-produced Web native content!
But it looks to me like Lorne gets it. And had they still been on YouTube, I ‘d have been linking to at least one clip from Saturday’s show. I’m sure I wouldn’t have been the only one.
Birds of a feather: Mike Nifong & David McDade
UPDATE: For a roundup of what has happened since, see also Barr, Genarlow, McDade & Nifong.
When I pointed last week to attorney B.J. Bernstein filing a motion to get another trial for Genarlow Wilson based on the Duke dismissal, a commenter wrote, “I don’t see the connection.” At the time I have to admit that I really didn’t either.
Since, with all the news of the out of control rogue prosecutor Nifong, I see Bernstein’s point.
The former football player, Genarlow Wilson, is serving 10 years without parole for having consensual oral sex with a 15-year-old girl at a New Year’s Eve party, an offense that constituted aggravated child molesting even though he was 17 at the time.
The mandatory sentence shocked even the jury that convicted him. State law has since been changed to make most consensual sex between teenagers a misdemeanor.
But the courts have ruled that the new law does not apply to Mr. Wilson, and the district attorney in his case, David McDade of Douglas County, has opposed efforts this session to pass a law that would allow judges to review earlier cases and to revise sentences.
“Six young men basically gang-raped a 17-year-old and had repeated sex acts with a 15-year-old,” Mr. McDade, told Channel 11, the local NBC affiliate, in March. “There’s no member of the legislature that I think would condone that behavior.”
But the jury in Mr. Wilson’s case disagreed with Mr. McDade’s depiction. After being repeatedly shown a home videotape of sex, drugs and alcohol at the New Year’s Eve party in a hotel room in Douglas County, they acquitted Mr. Wilson of rape.
Anyone want to hazard a guess at what would be going on now if Genarlow Wilson had been a white UGA lacrosse player?
Sunday, April 15, 2007
It’s cold here. But I’m glad I’m not in Boston. For the marathon. CNN:
The storm forced the cancellation of five major league baseball games Sunday and gave runners in Monday’s Boston Marathon something to worry about besides Heartbreak Hill. The race-day forecast called for 3 to 5 inches of rain, start temperatures in the 30s and wind gusts of up to 25 mph.
Duke: black & white & right & wrong
I haven’t posted on the dropped charges. The Sunday chat show blather has pushed me to say something: no shades of gray are possible in either our media or legal systems. Life, truth, lives in shades of gray. I’m sorry for the injustice done to these three men. I can’t help but believe if they had been black and the accuser white we’d have seen a different outcome. And I stand by my Duke Mistakes post, repeated verbatim here.
Did you catch the parents of those accused in the Duke case last week on 60 Minutes?
“My son said, ‘Mom, when is it going to stop? When is this insanity going to stop?’ Knowing that he was still being charged with crimes that he didn’t do,” Kathy Seligmann recalls. [...]
“You have to remember that this has never been about the evidence. Never. If it were about the evidence, nine months ago, this case would’ve been totally dropped. This is about a man who chose to use a troubled young woman’s story of fantastic lies to advance his own political career, which was crumbling. He needed something big. He needed that magic bullet, and he shot it. He shot it at our sons,” says David Evans’ mother Rae. [...]
“We’d be hard-pressed to send Collin back to an environment where Mike Nifong is the newly-elected D.A., where the Durham police department is at his beck and call, where the leadership, the administration of Duke, when given the chance to stand up for our boys does not. It would be very hard as parents to send our sons back into that environment,” says one of Collin Finnerty’s parents.
Lesley Stahl, oozing empathy, didn’t ask tough questions. The media narrative had shifted. Kathleen A. Bergin of Feminist Law Professors, reacting to CNN’s Duke retelling special, “A Question of Race,” points out:
The disconnect between legal culpability and social responsibility simmers just below the surface of reporting on the Duke sex scandal… conspicuously left out of CNN’s [AJ: and CBS’s!] broadcast: (1) that team members called the two women “niggers” and “bitches”; (2) one threatened to rape them with a broomstick; (3) another spoke of hiring strippers in an e-mail sent the same night that threatened to kill “the bitches” and cut off their skin while he ejaculated in his “Duke-issued spandex;” and (4) one shouted to the victim as she left the team’s big house, “Hey bitch, thank your grandpa for my nice cotton shirt.” These facts are undisputed and highlight the sick and wretched depravity of this racialized episode.
Back on 60 Minutes, said David’s dad:
“It was a mistake, that was poor judgment. But then what you need to do is separate that from felony charges, talking about moral questions. These are felony charges. And if they did make a mistake, even though they did what many other students have done, they have paid for it dearly,” says David Evans, Sr.
Ok, fine. First, let’s do something serious to stop so “many other students” from doing it. And second, let’s not lose track of the fact that it was wrong and bad and deserving of some serious punishment.
Where have all the honeybees gone?
Cory Doctorow thinks cellphones might be killing bees:
It’s been long understood that bees respond to electromagnetic radiation. Dr Jochen Kuhn at Germany’s Landau University has shown that bees don’t return to their hives when cellphones are present. The study doesn’t prove that cellphones are responsible for CCD ["Colony Collapse Disorder,” (science-ese for “we don’t know where all these bees have gone")], but it does provide evidence that mobile phones are implicated in the death of hives.
Color me skeptical. And I’m not finding a link for Kuhn’s study.
I just finished the powerful, riveting and disturbing documentary, Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple by Stanley Nelson, Marcia Smith and Noland Walker and presented by American Experience. I had nearly forgotten and never really knew:
Although Jim Jones Jr. says that everyone who went to Jonestown was a “shareholder” in utopia, word filtered back to San Francisco that members were being held against their will. Bay Area congressman Leo Ryan took a small delegation to Jonestown in November 1978. The trip started well, but calamity unfolded quickly, much of it captured on film.
After escaping a knife attack by a cult member at the Jonestown compound, Ryan and his delegation fled to the airstrip, where Jones’ goons opened fire, killing Ryan and four others.
Jones then gathered his flock for a final sermon, insisting that the government would torture all in retaliation. It was time for the final communion.
The audiotape is chilling. Jones cries “Hurry, children, hurry” against a background of screaming women and children. He praises the mass destruction as an act of “revolutionary suicide protesting the conditions of an inhumane world.” Jones didn’t drink his own poisoned Kool-Aid, though. Instead, he died from a shot to the head.
A sobering reminder of the flip-side of the wisdom of crowds. Catch it if you can. The trailer:
Saturday, April 14, 2007
Skipper & Matthew & Hate Crime
By any standards, Skipper’s murder was vicious. He was stabbed 20 times inside his car. His throat was slit, his face pummeled. The attackers took his jewelry, his laptop and his new car, and dropped his body by the side of the road in Wahneta, a small town outside Winter Haven.
The killing has sparked an outcry from gay rights groups and gay-oriented Web sites. Vigils for Skipper will be held today in 13 cities around the state as well as in Washington, D.C.
But Skipper’s death has received little mainstream attention compared with the 1998 slaying of Matthew Shepard, an openly gay college student whose savage murder in Laramie, Wyo., drew national headlines and spawned a play and a movie.
Family and friends say that’s in large part because Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd told local media that Skipper was cruising for sex when he met his attackers and that earlier in the night he had been smoking pot with one of his attackers and talking about an illegal check copying scheme.
Specifically, the sheriff said:
“What we do know is that Ryan was looking for someone to pick up that evening. And unfortunately for Ryan, he picked up the wrong person.”
The sheriff said that because one of the murderers told him Skipper was “messing” with him. There’s no other reason to believe it’s true. He went on to imply that Ryan was involved in a check forging scheme with the murderers based solely on their statements.
Shepard has been subject to revisionist history based largely on the word of killers, too. Frank Rich was among those to rebut those revisions - “ABC had obtained the first TV interviews with the killers and seemed determined to rehabilitate their images along the way” - but I found David Neiwert’s arguments the most persuasive. After reviewing the significant factual flaws, he takes on the topic of hate crimes.
Quoting from his book, Death on the Fourth of July, he addresses “one of the persistent myths about hate crimes, namely, that the laws on the books now should be adequate to punish them:”
This myth arises from one of the realities about hate-crime laws: they only exist on the books as laws dealing with a special category of crimes with which we already are well familiar (murder, assault, threatening, intimidation, vandalism, etc.)—that is, a hate crime always has a well-established “parallel” crime underlying it, upon which is added the layer of motivation by bias (racial, ethnic, etc.). Thus, opponents argue, the laws for those parallel crimes should be adequate for punishing perpetrators. (If this argument sounds familiar, it is; the identical points were raised in the 1920s and ‘30s by opponents of the anti-lynching legislation that was the NAACP’s raison d’etre during its early years.)
Are hate crimes truly different from their parallel crimes? Quantifiably and qualitatively, the answer is yes.
The first and most clear aspect of this difference lies in the breadth of the crimes’ effects. Hate crimes attack not only the immediate victim, but the target community—Jews, blacks, gays-to which the victim belongs. Their purpose today, just as it was in the lynching era, is to terrorize and politically oppress the target community. Hate-crime laws resemble anti-terrorism laws in this respect as well-adding, in effect, punishment because more than just the immediate victim is targeted and affected, and thus greater harm is inflicted.
[O]ne study, conducted in 1991, estimated that better than 50 percent of all gays and lesbians in America had been subjected to physical attacks motivated by their homosexuality. As early as 1987, a Department of Justice report had observed that “homosexuals are probably the most frequent victims of hate crimes.” The same report noted: “Many victims of bias crimes do not report incidents because they distrust the police, feel that the incident is too minor or that the police cannot do anything about it, have a language barrier, fear retaliation by the offender or-in the case of gays and lesbians-fear public exposure.”
What really stood out about these crimes was their viciousness. These weren’t merely assaults: they entailed torture, mutilation, castration, sexual assault, and extremely severe beatings, and they were very likely to end in death. Gay-related homicides are notable for the “overkill” that pervades the attacks; a 1995 study found that in more than 60 percent of the homicides, there was evidence of “rage/hate-fueled extraordinary violence” that included “dismemberment, bodily and genital mutilation, use of multiple weapons, repeated blows from a blunt object, or numerous stab wounds.”
Ryan’s case is clearly that, a hideous hate crime. The task now is to undo the taint caused by the sheriff’s comments in the mind of the public, the press and prospective jurors. And support the hate-crimes legislation.
LATER: Someone explain to me how could this NOT be a hate crime?
The Lottery: The Lump Sum Industry
Caught up in other things, I let my lottery coverage go. Picking it back up, you will recall that a Georgia truck driver winning half of the $390 MegaMillions jackpot sent me to the library to find the microfiche copy of an April 23, 1995 New York Times Magazine cover story on lottery winners, TICKET TO TROUBLE: Congratulations! You’ve won one million dollars. Your troubles have just begun, by Lois Gould (links to excerpts below).
The day after my last post on the topic, the New Jersey couple that won the other half came forward:
“We feel very fortunate and blessed,” Harold Messner, 57, a general contractor who bought the winning ticket. “This is that early retirement we’ve always dreamed of. Now we can do all those things we said we would do once we retired.”
Maybe. Maybe not.
Ed Ugel...had a very unusual dream job: he bought jackpots from lottery winners. When you win the lottery, your prize is often paid out in yearly installments. And Ed would offer winners a lump sum in exchange for their yearly checks. He’s talked with thousands of lottery winners, and the vast majority, he says, wish they’d never won. Ed is writing a book about his years in the “lump sum industry” called Money for Nothing: One Man’s Journey through the Dark Side of Lottery Millions. It comes out in September 2007.
Ed tells us that states have now moved into the lump sum industry, whereby lottery winners agree to take a much reduced (50%!) payout in order to get the money up front, rather than accept the annual payout that works out to something like $35,000 a year take home for a million dollar winner. His estimation is that “broke lottery winners or financially troubled lottery winners are the rule.”
I’ll be looking forward to Ed’s book. Maybe I’ll even drop him a line so that we can get a preview.
SEE ALSO: The lottery: You’re rich! Wait - got a calculator? and Winning the lottery: Your deadbeat pal’s on line 2 and Lottery ticket-holder losing big time and The Lottery: Everyone loves a winner? I don’t think so...