The Eclectic One

…Because labels are a poor substitute for thinking

Archive for December, 2008

Puppy pic

Posted by Bill Nance on December 24, 2008

Yes, I know, it’s getting old. Still, this one was just too cute not to post.

nemoboots

Our oldest Aussie, Nemo, age 5, after a long, hard day of chasing his little brother around the back yard, crashed on his favorite pillow: My footwear

Posted in Dogs | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Hitchens on Warren: And you thought gays were pissed off!

Posted by Bill Nance on December 24, 2008

Remind me never to arouse the ire of Christopher Hitchens.

Rick Warren has (and he warrants every bit of it). If you thought gay people were writing screeds, you haven’t heard anything yet.

A choice bit:

But if we must have an officiating priest, let it be some dignified old hypocrite with no factional allegiance and not a tree-shaking huckster and publicity seeker who believes that millions of his fellow citizens are hellbound because they do not meet his own low and vulgar standards.

I concur. Since prayer is guaranteed to be an utter waste of time, why on earth are we doing it at the inauguration of our political leaders? And if we are just bound and determined to continue this bronze-age superstition, does it absolutely have to be delivered by someone who adheres to the most disgusting, least educated and most bigoted brand of that superstition available?

You go Hitch!

Posted in Politics, religion, Right-Wing Nut-jobery, Theocrat Watch | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Cops arrest wedding party

Posted by Bill Nance on December 21, 2008

Police in Lowell, Massachusetts arrested six people after a fight erupted at a wedding:

One officer used pepper spray as well over a dozen officers subdued the crowd and arrested six men on charges of disorderly conduct and affray.

Police call it a fight. We Irish call it a garden-variety wedding discussion. I guess something got lost in the translation.

Posted in humor, Le Snark, News & Analysis | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

More puppy pics!

Posted by Bill Nance on December 21, 2008

We have snow dogs. Australian Shepherds, aside fom having webbed feet for swimming (they love to swim) also have several very thick layers of fur designed to keep them warm and dry, along with tufts of fur which cover most of the soles of their feet. The result of this breeding?

Dogs who love snow.

snowfrisbee

Competitive Frisbee in the snow

pippinsnowfrisbee

Pippin gets it

nemosnow-roll

Nemo gets the Frisbee and won’t give it up til he chews it a bit and rolls it in the snow

These guys stay out for over an hour, and not five minutes after they come in beg to go out again. The deeper it gets, the more they like it.

Now if we could just teach them to shovel the driveway….

Posted in Dogs | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

I wanna kill him but…

Posted by Bill Nance on December 21, 2008

New Hampshire is getting set to execute someone for the first time in 49 years.

From MSNBC:

MANCHESTER, N.H. – A jury on Thursday issued New Hampshire’s first death sentence in a half century to Michael Addison, who fatally shot a Manchester police officer two years ago.

…Addison had been on a crime spree the week before the shooting and had said he would “pop a cop” if necessary. When Briggs, 35, and his bicycle partner came across Addison and friend Antoine Bell-Rogers in an alley early on Oct. 16, 2006, they recognized the men as a suspects in a recent shooting and two armed robberies and ordered them to stop. Addison turned and shot Briggs in the head at close range, testimony showed.

Prosecutors called the shooting cold-blooded and premeditated.

Well, assuming they got the right guy, and given the statements of the defense lawyer I don’t see any reason to doubt it, it looks like New Hampshire will have one less criminal to worry about -In about 15 years when all the appeals run out. I for one, won’t be sorry to see the guy go.

And yet, I’m still, in practice, against the death penalty. I won’t disagree that sounds completely contradictory to the statement above.

I’m not squeamish about imposing death for a horrible crime. There are some six billion people on planet earth and losing one of the least desirable among them is no tragedy in my book.  Philosophically I’m all for the death penalty. One less scumbag to worry about.

I’m also not particularly concerned about the implications for the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution: “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”

As long as the execution is reasonably quick, I don’t care what the method is. A 12-gauge deer slug to the back of the head will pretty much explode the entire skull. It’s messy, but not overly painful. If you’re squeamish about blood, then don’t be an executioner. If anything, lethal injection seems a far more cruel method than simply shooting someone, using the guillotine, or even hanging. -Even a poorly done hanging should result in unconsciousness in about 30 seconds tops. After that who cares how long it takes for the heart to stop beating?

So what’s the problem? It’s simply that the death penalty isn’t imposed fairly, evenly or only in cases when there is absolutely no doubt about who is guilty.

In fact, as opposed to theory, the death penalty is imposed in vastly disproportionate numbers against people of color and the poor. And, as we’re finding out from research done by places like the Innocence Project, is often imposed in cases where the person in question isn’t even guilty.

I don’t see any way past this. We live in the real world, not an ideal one. Juries and judges and most importantly, prosecuting attorneys, often have axes to grind which have nothing to do with the specific crime in question. People get convicted based on “confessions” which it later turns out were beaten out of them by the police, racist views of juries, public hysteria, etc.

You can, at least in theory, get someone freed after appeals and further investigation show them to be innocent. You can’t un-execute people. Nor should we be executing people based on what’s good for the career of prosecuting attorneys. It’s rare in the extreme for well-represented white people with resources to spend on private investigators, expert witnesses, etc. to even get charged with capital murder. The cases are harder to try and the liklihood that the jury will decide on a lesser crime is also much much higher than with poor defendants represented by ill-prepared, inexperienced public defenders with almost no resources.

It’s an ugly fact, but it’s still a fact. Prosecutors don’t like to lose. And they won’t often bring charges they don’t think will stick, regardless of the facts.

Life in prison without possibility of parole is hardly a light sentence. Until we find a way to fix all the problems of our judicial system,  and I don’t think we ever will, it should be the maximum allowable. That it doesn’t satisfy some people’s desire for vengeance is no argument. My desire for public vengeance shouldn’t mean we execute someone. We don’t, and shouldn’t, have a judicial system to assuage my feelings. If we did, then every victim of every crime would be justified in calling for execution. Have your house robbed and everything of value you own taken from you (Something that’s happened to me) and see how you feel about the culprits. Only fear of the law kept me from exacting a very personal piece of justice that would have been vastly out of proportion to the crime -“I’ma to get medieval on yo ass” kind of retribution. And it’s a good thing the law was there. I would have regretted my actions later.

It’s not being squeamish, it’s about being fair and just. We may not always be able to pull it off, but we should always try. And getting rid of the death penalty is one way we can effectively get about doing that. My emotions may scream “hang ’em high,” but my intellect knows better.

Posted in Law & Order, News & Analysis, Prison and Justice | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

The Border Patrol -In Iran

Posted by Bill Nance on December 20, 2008

I posted a few days ago that Iran is not the Boogeyman and that we share many common national interests.

Now this:

See? They even have their own Mexicans. We should have a chat.

Posted in Le Snark, National Security | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Proof that women are smarter than men

Posted by Bill Nance on December 20, 2008

OK, it’s perhaps an old joke to some of you, but it’s still funny.

God finished making everything on the earth, then he called Adam and Eve to make an announcement:

“Children,” he said, ” I have two gifts left over. And Adam, as the first created, you get to choose which one you want.”

Adam considered a moment and said: “Gee whiz! I wanna pee standing up!”

And it was so.

Eve then sighed, did her very best to look like a victim of male oppression and added: “OK, I guess I’ll just have to settle for multiple orgasms.”

-That is all

Posted in humor | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

A winter morning

Posted by Bill Nance on December 20, 2008

It’s 5:40 am (don’t ask me why I’m awake at this hour) The snowfall has stopped for now, the plows are gone and there’s about 10 inches of fresh snow covering everything. My wife is sleeping contentedly upstairs, the house is warm and I have a dog who thinks he’s still a puppy curled up keeping my toes warm.

In front of my computer is a large picture window overlooking the Merrimack River. I can see the tree  branches across the street, now devoid of all foliage, outlined against the glow of distant streetlights, framing the view of the river. And it’s so very quiet.

I love having four seasons.

Posted in Miscellaneous | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

What would you do?

Posted by Bill Nance on December 19, 2008

From the Houston Press:

It was a little before 8 at night when the breaker went out at Emily Milburn’s home in Galveston. She was busy preparing her children for school the next day, so she asked her 12-year-old daughter, Dymond, to pop outside and turn the switch back on.

As Dymond headed toward the breaker, a blue van drove up and three men jumped out rushing toward her. One of them grabbed her saying, “You’re a prostitute. You’re coming with me.”

Dymond grabbed onto a tree and started screaming, “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy.” One of the men covered her mouth. Two of the men beat her about the face and throat.

As it turned out, the three men were plain-clothed Galveston police officers who had been called to the area regarding three white prostitutes soliciting a white man and a black drug dealer.

All this is according to a lawsuit filed in Galveston federal court by Milburn against the officers. The lawsuit alleges that the officers thought Dymond, an African-American, was a hooker due to the “tight shorts” she was wearing, despite not fitting the racial description of any of the female suspects. The police went to the wrong house, two blocks away from the area of the reported illegal activity, Milburn’s attorney, Anthony Griffin, tells Hair Balls.

After the incident, Dymond was hospitalized and suffered black eyes as well as throat and ear drum injuries.

Three weeks later, according to the lawsuit, police went to Dymond’s school, where she was an honor student, and arrested her for assaulting a public servant. Griffin says the allegations stem from when Dymond fought back against the three men who were trying to take her from her home. The case went to trial, but the judge declared it a mistrial on the first day, says Griffin. The new trial is set for February.

“I think we’ll be okay,” says Griffin. “I don’t think a jury will find a 12-year-old girl guilty who’s just sitting outside her house. Any 12-year-old attacked by three men and told that she’s a prostitute is going to scream and yell for Daddy and hit back and do whatever she can. She’s scared to death.”

Since the incident more than two years ago, Dymond regularly suffers nightmares in which police officers are raping and beating her and cutting off her fingers, according to the lawsuit.
Griffin says he expects to enter mediation with the officers in early 2009 to resolve the lawsuit.

Three words: Get a rope.

Once again, a black child is abused by white police officers in Texas, the most unrepentantly racist, redneck, ignorant state in the country. Once again, in the cause of pursuing a completely victimless crime in the guise of protecting us from ourselves, the iron fist of government comes down and uses Gestapo tactics against citizens.

When will people wake up and demand action?

The sad part here is that Daddy didn’t come out and just shoot all three of these thugs. Live and learn. I won’t make the same mistake.

-Nuf said

Hat Tip -TFS Magnum

Posted in Creeping Fascism watch, Crime, Law & Order, Prison and Justice | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

You know it’s winter when…

Posted by Bill Nance on December 19, 2008

40 of the top 100 goggle trends searches are about emergency school closings and other weather related stuff.

Posted in Miscellaneous | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »