The Eclectic One

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Archive for the ‘News & Analysis’ Category

From the Dept. of Irony

Posted by Bill Nance on October 15, 2010

Stabbing at Bellevue anger management class

SEATTLE (AP) — A 19-year-old woman is accused of stabbing another woman at an anger management class at Bellevue College.

The victim told police the 19-year-old complained about a video they were watching Saturday. When the victim said it was good and to give it a chance, the other woman swore at her. The two started talking trash.

More here

Does it get any better?

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Posted in humor, News & Analysis | Leave a Comment »

Scientists Predicted Ice Age? Not True

Posted by Bill Nance on October 17, 2009

I keep reading snark as well as serious arguments claiming that Global Warming is a myth. It seems that invariably in these screeds someone mentions that in the 70s there was some hoopla about the “coming Ice Age.”

Now, I remember being in school in the mid-70’s and remember reading something along these lines. But in fact, as a study published in the Bulletin of The American Meteorlogical Society shows, the people screaming gloom and doom over an ice age were newspaper reporters, not overwhelmingly scientists.

In the early to mid 70’s climatology was still a science still in it’s infancy, and more importantly a science without things like the space shuttle, or U-2 and SR-71 aircraft to use in their observations. Heck, weather satellites were still a fairly recent thing.

The report shows that due to some cooling observed from the mid-1940’s some scientists did indeed make the claim. –About 12% of them. The other 88% reported either no change (16%) or increased warming (72%).

climatology

Virtually all of the reports citing the possibility of global cooling came out in the years 1967 and 1971. By 1976 virtually no one was making the claim.

Find another straw-man argument folks, global warming is happening. We may or may not be able to address its man-made aspects in time to make a difference. But pretending it isn’t happening at all when there’s a broad concensus among climatologists and other scientists that it is and it is at least partially man-made just makes you look like a putz.  This isn’t Chemistry. It’s a theoretical science. We can’t prove the existence of black holes or human evolution either. We extrapolate from the data, come up with theories which best explain our observations. Global warming has been beaten to death by climatologists from day one. At this point, virtually none of the experts are questioning it any more. That’s called scientific consensus. Yes, it’s still theory, but no, no one has come up with an alternative that tests out as plausible.

When broad scientific consensus is reached and points to something with catastrophic consequences for the entire human race, only a jackass makes it a matter of political point-scoring. We can argue all day about what the best possible course of action to deal with global warming may be. To argue that it isn’t happening or that we shouldn’t even try to address it is stupid at best a racially suicidal at worst.

When Rush Limbaugh shows me his PhD in a related hard science I’ll be interested in his nattering. Until then I’ll rely on what the actual experts tell me, thanks

Posted in Energy issues, News & Analysis, Politics, Right-Wing Nut-jobery | 2 Comments »

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Posted by Bill Nance on August 30, 2009

I was browsing MSNBC this morning and ran into this little gem of an article about a redevelopment of a housing project in Watts, CA.

LOS ANGELES – Juanita Sims has lived in the notorious Jordan Downs project in Watts for nearly four decades, raising eight children behind the barred windows of the cramped barracks-like apartments.

Let me get this straight: Sims has lived for free in a housing project since the age of 33ish, collecting welfare and raised eight kids there? And she’s still there?

WTF????

Watts is virtually right next to Long Beach and is a relatively easy bus-ride from West LA or northern Orange County, all places with plentiful job opportunities. Work is hard to come by in Compton, but taking the bus to work is something I’ve managed to do for years at a time. In other words, there isn’t a reason on earth why someone, even someone not too bright or very enterprising, can get a job; if perhaps not a very good one. Welfare-to-work programs have been available for decades, helping people pay for childcare, education, healthcare and even housing.

I’ve never been one to blame the poor for being poor, but at some point, it stops being the fault of bad breaks and starts being the responsibility of the people who live in poverty when there are alternatives. Minimum wage jobs suck and the pay stinks, but it’s a start. That first job teaches you how to hold a job, how to take orders and some, if not many skills. From that really crappy job you move into a marginally less crappy job, making a little more, learning some new skills and move onto another still-less crappy job. Somewhere along the way you get some training or develop some skills that are actually in demand and can live in something other than poverty if not great comfort.

In other words, it’s the same path millions of us have all taken. My first job was as a deckhand on a fishing boat in the summer. My first real job was working at McDonald’s, where I juggled that and a second minimum wage job so I could pay the rent. From there I went to another job waiting tables making a whopping 30 cents an hour over minimum wage ($3.40 an hour woot!) and made some pretty measly tips as well (It wasn’t exactly a high-class joint). I did all this before the age of 17 because I’d been out of the house since 15! That’s right, no high-school diploma. Hell I wasn’t even legally allowed to work. I lied about my age on every application. When I turned 17 I took the California High School Competency test, receiving an actual high school diploma so I could join the military. From there it was all progressive improvements.

A note to Juanita and those like her: Keep your damned legs closed and get a job. Raising eight kids in the projects and spending four decades on the dole is pathetic, not something that inspires pity.

Posted in economy, News & Analysis, Rants | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Racists Target Wikipedia Entry For President Of The United States

Posted by Bill Nance on January 20, 2009

This just appeared on the Wikipedia entry under “President of the United States.”

140px-wassermeloneOfficial Seal

Get used to it, the racists are going to be very unhappy in the next 4 years. Let us all pray the Secret Service never lets its guard down.

Posted in Barack Obama, News & Analysis, Right-Wing Nut-jobery | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Teens and Sex: Get Over It

Posted by Bill Nance on January 16, 2009

It seems the latest trend in America’s ongoing war on normal, healthy sexual experimentation among young people is charging girls who send naked pictures of themselves to their boyfriends with trafficking child pornography.

Yes, you heard right, the 14 and 15-year-old girls who sent pictures of themselves will now be charged with a serious felony, listed as sex offenders for the rest of their lives, etc.

I’m honestly not sure which I find more odious: The current irrational fear-craze that a child molester is lurking behind every tree, or the upswing in criminalizing teen sexuality.

Girls start menstruating at about 11.75 years-old in America.  So by the time they are 14-15, they’ve been physically sexually mature for between 2.5-4 years on average. No one wants their 15-year-old to be banging her boyfriend, but the facts are that they will in a substantial number of cases, and the number of girls who remain celibate until after age 18 is fairly  small. A recent report by the CDC indicates that 60.5% of high school seniors (average age 17) admitted to having intercourse, and that’s of course not counting the numbers who have had oral sex. By age 20, according to that report, the numbers went up to 75%. Again, this is admitted sex, I personally suspect the actual numbers are much higher.

Look back to your own experience. How many of you remained virgins until marriage? How many of you left high school having as virgins? Did the sky fall because you had sex? Were you emotionally scarred for life? Of course you weren’t.

The U.S. has the highest rate of teen pregnancy and STD infection in the industrialized world for one very simple reason. We make a normal thing criminal and fail to teach responsible and comprehensive sexual curriculum to our kids. That’s all there is to it. Holland, which has no such taboos, doesn’t have the problems we do, nor does any other country where sex is not automatically considered evil and forbidden and not to be discussed at all.

Information is simply information. And there’s no such thing as too much correct information. Age appropriateness in sex education is about kid’s ability to understand and relate to it, not a matter of how old they must be before being exposed to such awful, horrible, eeevul things like birth control and disease prevention.

My daughter, at about age six, started using the term “sexy” to describe things one day. I explained this was not an appropriate word and she gave me a quizzical look and asked why not.  I will freely admit I didn’t know exactly how to put it, since I don’t believe in the concept of “bad” words, merely words that are inappropriate to some circumstances and company. I told her that many people, including me, thought that word was not appropriate for a young lady of her age to be using and that she would need to stop saying it.

A few weeks later she approached me again, and this time asked just what exactly, the word “sexy” meant. After taking a very deep breath, I began to tell her about how babies were made, in terms a six-year-old would understand. As I recall it was something along the lines of “Mommies and Daddies get really close,” etc. and that the term “sexy” was about that process, which didn’t apply at all to her opinions of something. She understood all this completely and it never came up again until she had “the talk” with her mother a few years later, followed up by many more with both her mother and myself over her teen years. I never forbade her to have sex, I merely explained the natural consequences of it and that those consequences were pretty awful for all concerned, so she’d best think about it before doing it. Her mother also saw to it that she had access to birth control.

I’m not going to go into my daughter’s sex life on this blog, but I will say that she’s not become pregnant nor contracted any STDs as far as I know, and she’s 21. So more information certainly doesn’t lead to promiscuity, at least not for her. But even if she had decided to start banging her boyfriend at age 15, something I would not have been pleased with, it would have been perfectly normal, if unwise. Teens do unwise things all day every day. It’s their nature to push all the limits.  And when we as a society set artificial and unnatural limits on sex, like how they should stay virgins until marriage (gimme a break) it’s natural they will simply push this limit even more.

The very notion of making the act of teens having consensual sex with each other (unwise but quite normal) or playing sexual games like taking dirty pictures of themselves (something only possible because of new technology, and comparativly quite harmless) a criminal offense, is disgusting.

Say what you really mean, you putrid little puritans:

SEX IS DIRTY; YOU SHOULD SAVE IT FOR THE ONE YOU MARRY. And if that message makes sense to you, you have bigger issues than the kids you’d like to put in jail for exploring their sexuality.

Listen to these fools on CNN prattle about how a “dirty” picture is the end of the world.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Posted in Creeping Fascism watch, education, News & Analysis | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Best Description of the Gaza Conflict

Posted by Bill Nance on January 7, 2009

This cartoon pretty well sums it all up.

Posted in International, israel, News & Analysis, Politics | Leave a Comment »

Schools Hit By Israeli Missiles

Posted by Bill Nance on January 6, 2009

ABC News and Al Jazeera are both reporting that two schols in Gaza have been hit by Israeli missiles, resulting in an unknown number of deaths. As many as 350 people had sought shelter at one of the schools, according to ABC News.

This should not be surprising to anyone.

First, it’s a well-known fact that Hamas hasn’t the slightest compunction about using civilian sites for launching attacks, or about hiding behind civilians.  Second, it’s equally well known that the Israelis have few qualms about killing Arab civilians if there is a military target in their midst. Before my Israeli readers have a fit, I’m not equating Hamas with the IDF, but but Israel’s armed forces have a long history of giving fairly short shrift to the possibility of collateral damage to civilians.

Folks, this is what happens when two entities are engaged in a blood feud. And every time Israel engages it’s Arab opponents with large-scale military operations it gets sucked into the same cycle of over-reaction, excessive damage to civilians in the area of operations and further polarization between itself and its Arab neighbors, not to mention world opinion in general.

Right now, as far as I can see, Israel is playing Hamas’ game. No matter what the Israelis do at this point, Hamas wins. After all, all Hamas has to do is survive to claim victory. And after the wholesale killing in Gaza is complete, I doubt Palestinians will be likely to turn on Hamas. In war, everyone rallies round the flag. -Palestinians are no different.

There simply has to be a better way than this.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for killing Hamas fighters and leaders. They are nothing but a stumbling block to any hope of peace for the region and their stated goals are despicable. But a full-scale invasion of Gaza, complete with the inevitable large numbers of civilian deaths was not the best way to accomplish this.

The IDF had better start coming up with a lot better military solutions, including the types of snatch jobs, for which Israel was once famous. Another thing it has to do, in my opinion, is to stop being as afraid of casualties within its own ranks as it has been. Small-scale military operations, including assasinations, sabotage and kidnappings are far more likely to have productive results than full scale military operations. They are also, sadly, more likely to produce IDF casualties. But that’s the price to be paid for progress. As it is, the current strategy seems both guaranteed to fail, as well as being guaranteed to produce IDF casualties (6 dead so far and counting).

Taking casualties for no productive end result seems folly to me. And taking those casualties for no productive result, while at the same time killing hundreds of civilians seems bordering on evil.

Israel now is engaged in an exercise reminiscent of a wounded bull, lashing out at anything in it’s vicinity, indiscrimate of consequences. The political leadership needs to come up with a better way of dealing with enemies. If not it will simply be one Ariel Sharon-type disaster after another. That’s good for no one, especially the Israels.

Posted in International, israel, News & Analysis | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Hey Israel. What’s the Goal in Gaza?

Posted by Bill Nance on January 5, 2009

I fail to see how Israel’s interests have been served by the latest actions in Gaza. To me, I simply don’t see an end-game here that enhances Israeli security.

Aside from pissing off the usual suspects in Europe (Is France ever not critical of Israel?) it seems an operation doomed to failure simply because Hamas, a religiouly motivated group, cannot be deterred. Deterrence doesn’t work when someone’s basis for existence is not power, but pleasing their God. So “punishing them,” as Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has claimed, is not something that’s going to work.  As Christopher Hitchens wrote in Slate today:

…one understands exactly how disgusting and squalid is the behavior of the Hamas gang. It knows very well that sanctions are injuring every Palestinian citizen, but—just like Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq—it declines to cease the indiscriminate violence and the racist and religious demagogy that led to the sanctions in the first place. Palestine is a common home for several religious and national groups, but Hamas dogmatically insists that the whole territory is instead an exclusively Muslim part of a future Islamic empire

Hamas is not Fatah. Fatah, as screwed up as it is, is at least a political organization in the traditional sense. It has political goals and a desire to stay in power. You can work with such an organization, because it is possible to give them things they want in return for things you want. Hamas however, is a different kettle of fish. Like Al Quaeda, Hamas’ goals are not something with which Israel or the rest of the civilized world can coexist.

So Israel is in an impossible situation. The rocket atacks were totally unacceptable, but a coventional military campaign on the part of Israel will produce what exactly? Eventually the Israelis are going to pull out and the situation will have been largely unchanged. Southern Israel will still be in rocket range, the fanatics will still be fanatics and meanwhile, the destructioln visited upon innocent civilians who are not firing rockets will continue to horrify the world and further isolate Israel.

To me this latest action seems the lashing out in desperation and frustration, with no real hope of actually accomplishing anything. The only results I think, will be the killing of many Palestinian civilians, some Israeli soldiers and damage to Bibi Netanyahu’s Likud Party prospects in the upcoming election.

Come on Mr. Olmert, please tell us you have a real goal here beyond domestic politics.

Posted in International, News & Analysis | 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 »

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 »