Friday, May 05, 2006

Oh, snarky . . .

Hanny Hindi got a little snarky at the end of Jurisprudence today: "Prisoners may very well suffer needlessly excruciating deaths, but the witnesses won't feel a thing." An excellent point. After all, that is how our execution system is designed--don't disturb the witnesses and executioners unduly. But why not? If, as a society, we are willing to kill people in the name of justice, we should have to collective balls to do it in the most humane way possible, despite witness discomfort. Don't prosecutors use the argument that a condemned individual's crimes were "inhumane" and "barbaric." Doesn't letting them needlessly suffer put us on their level? We should be above that and we should be prepared to face the consequences of our decisions. Death isn't pretty, it isn't clean; killing makes it even less so. If you're going to kill someone, blow the poor bastard's head off; if I ever end up on death row, that's how I'd want to go.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

A true citizen

Reading about all the fuss surrounding singing the national anthem in Spanish, got me thinking. First off, I you can sing the US national anthem in any language, you're 20 steps ahead of me. I don't know the words, and the few words I do know are painful to sing. Literally--our anthem it one of the harder ones out there. Sing the damn thing in Farsi or Swahili, it won't make you more or less American; singing it in English doesn't make Bush British.
I remember taking American History and Gov't my junior year in high school, and the teacher (a lovely lady named Ms. Scott) showed us some of the questions they ask on a naturalization test. Yeah, the whole class would have been deported. So I looked the test up again. I'm a still a very bad citizen. (Oh, did you know the Constitution and Bill of Rights protects the rights of both citizens and non-citizens living in the US, according to Citizen and Immigration Services, because the way things are going around here, I wasn't too sure.)

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

I'm 12, I'm going to be . . .

For as long as I can remember, I was going to be a vet, when I was 10 or 11 I decided to become an equine vet. My junior year of high school I realized I couldn't be a vet. All this without ever doing a single day of career exploration. I think most kids have some idea of what interests them, and if those interests suit them. I figured out that equine medicine was very interesting to me, but wouldn't suit me--there was no way I could cut into a horse (a person, sure).
The best way to help kids? Give them more classes to choose from--art, music, various sciences, philosophy, math, languages, social sciences, et cetera.
My junior year I got into history and had a great teacher, I thought about going into history and eventually law. But I really struck gold my senior year when I took a semester each of archaeology and anthropology. I hated my high school, but I give them credit for offering courses like that. I found my niche in anthropology. It's something that lets me combine science with people, and that's always interesting. I probably wouldn't have discovered anthro if I hadn't had the opportunity to take an introductory course in high school.
The government is too concerned with testing and numbers; kids are curious, let them explore and find there own way. Encourage curiosity, or in 20 years we'll have a large number of very unhappy accountants (not that accounting is a bad thing, if you like it). Expand the course selection in high schools, let middle schoolers get their feet under them, stop trying to overwhelm them. At 12, you're already taking in a hell of a lot of information about your world. Bound and determined to make a 12 year-old take a look at a career? What happened to career day? Or if they're really curious about a specific job, have them shadow. Don't take-up class time on it. Really, and you want them to pass all those standardized tests, too? Psht.
Worst advice I ever received in high school (from a career counselor, no less): go into accounting or nursing, they're fast growing fields. Yippee. Go into a fast growing field, burn-out in 10 years because you hate your job.

Laptops in Class

Gotta say, I don't really see a laptop as being any more distracting than a PowerPoint presentation--you pay more attention to the PowerPoint than to whatever the professor is babbling. If someone wants to play on the web during lecture, let them; it's rude, but it doesn't hurt the rest of the class. As for missing out on social interaction, what social interaction? I'm in a chemistry lecture with 250 students, the most we interact is when I ask someone a question before class; my upper level anthropology classes aren't any better--30 students in a room being talked to by a professor or TA. Nope, no interaction. Large universities aren't made for interaction; small colleges, now those are different. I went to a (very) small college my freshman year. At Wilson, your professor was going to know your name, they were going to know what your weaknesses and strengths were; most professors wanted you to interact and add to the class, sometimes it was required. Yeah, at Wilson a laptop would have been distracting. But at big public schools, not so much.
God, there are days I can't describe how much I miss Wilson.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

And the anti-props go to . . .

  • Texas , for declining to press hate-crime charges against the two teenagers (David Henry Tuck and Keith Robert Turner) responsible for the vicious attack an a Hispanic teen. Tuck and Turner apparently didn't like that the young man, 16, was attempting to kiss a 12 year old girl (who was apparently also Hispanic--earlier reports were contradictory). So punch him in the face, don't practically kill him; better yet, take the girl home. During the assault Tuck and Turner shouted racial slurs; according to county prosecutor Mike Trent, pressing hate-crime charges won't have any legal impact. So? Increased sentence isn't the only way hate-crime charges have an impact; they rise the level of community awareness and hi-lite ignored bigotries. Sometimes we need that slap in the face; it's too easy to ignore these things until something as awful as this happens. Anyone remember James Byrd, Jr.?
  • The AP for their detailed information on victim. Well, hell. They don't need to give a name when they give so much other information about him. Now anyone with the slightest bit of morbid curiosity can figure out who he is. Way to protect the victim!

Props to the Politicos

This is a rare event. Props to politicians.
In a time when the average politician is worried about party line and re-election, moves like these are too rare.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

White or Hispanic?

So one report says the kid tried to kiss a white girl, another says he tried to kiss a Hispanic girl. Which was it? Then again, does it really matter? Beating and sodomizing a kid/teenager because he tried to kiss a girl? Maybe I'm not reading the right reports--maybe he was trying to force the girl. But oh, wait--that's what the police are for. If there was really something wrong with what he was doing, call the police; if he was tried and convicted, he would likely have received his comeuppance in prison. But I don't think trying to kiss a girl is against the law.

Echoes of Till

Two white teenagers assault a Hispanic youth and sodomize him with a pipe. Why? Oh, he just tried to kiss a young white girl. (An aside--the girl was 12, why was she at a party where the people were obviously not her age? Bad parents, bad) Oh, horrors! Remember Emmett Till? Black teenager whistled at a white woman, woman's husband and accomplice kill and mutilate him, 1955 in Mississippi. Oh, the South has definitely changed. Or not.

Operation Falcon II

Question: surely the popo didn't discover where all these fugatives were hiding in the space of a week. Using that logic, they had to have known where these people were before Operation Falcon II. So why the fuck didn't they arrest them sooner? Gee, is it any wonder people don't trust the police?

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Duke Rape

So, reading more of the Nancy Grace transcript. Obviously the job of a defense attorney is to defend--and they seem to have gotten a shit hand with these boys. Public urination, assault, alcohol violations. Oh, quality people, just boys sowing their oats. Or maybe mommy and daddy didn't teach the concept of respect and personal accountability. Yeah, I can see where the defense might want to get any records that might weaken the credibility of the victim. I get that, but there have to be other ways to go about it. But I gotta say, props to Nancy on this subject. Yes she annoys me, but I can't see or hear her if I read the transcript, right?

So . . . the defense for one of the accused Duke players is attempting to get all records pertaining to the victim (and it seems pretty clear she was a victim, although different sides might disagree on who attacked her), including any mental health records.

(Disclosure time: I'm the daughter of a psychologist and have battled depression since middle school)

WTF? Even without hearing the defense's logic I can see were this is going--"Well, she's a stripper, and she has 'mental problems,' obviously you can't take her word over these fine, upstanding young men."

Right . . . being a stripper doesn't take away your right to say "No," and having any sort of mental illness or disability does not mean that you won't be raped, or will lie about being rapped. Look at the large number of mentally retarded people who are molested.

Do people lie about rape? Yes. But don't try to find a chink in someone who has clearly been through such a trauma.

New topic--Nancy Grace wants to know "Will jurors sentence him (Moussaoui) to death by lethal injection or life, which we'll pay for?" I couldn't remember clearly, but I was pretty sure I had read that on average, the cost of execution is higher than life in prison. Oh, wait, I was right. I does cost more to try, convict, wear-out appeals, and execute someone. I looked at two sources, a pro-death penalty site and Amnesty International. Obviously their views about the costs were different, but I bought the AI version. Why? Well, you could argue I am liberal (I am), and therefore biased, but truthfully, AI presented better, more authoritative sources. The pro-death penalty site got their data from a 1994 Time article and a 1994 Vital Statistics abstract. The AI article cited a state Comptroller, a state budget office, and a legislative post audit, and the earliest was from 1999. Much more timely, no?

Nancy Grace

Flipping through the news channels, I stop at Nancy Grace. She's talking about some kid missing from a NJ college, John Fiocco, Jr. White kid, perfect teeth, curly hair--looks like a thousand other fratboy types (although he was by all accounts neither a pledge or a brother). This is what I hear--"Look, this is a kid scrubbed in sunshine. Look at that smile--not a delinquent. This guy was number 12 in a class of how many, Ellie?"

I gather the kid was thrown down a garbage chute and crushed. Personally, I know any number of perfect, preppy white kids that are delinquents, even if the law hasn't caught up to them yet. How do you know a delinquent when you see one? And more to the point, who "deserves" to be tossed down a garbage chute and crushed? Eh, nobody?

On another note, how the hell do you manage to toss someone down a chute unless, a) they're a willing and helpful participant, b) they're passed out or dead, or c) you have a number of people joining in the effort. 'Cause I can't see just lying back and letting someone toss you down a garbage chute. (Although, the kid was apparently playing Beer Pong, and drunks are not know to be founts of wisdom and logical thinking).

Then the inestimable Nancy Grace starts on about why no workers notified anyone about blood in the dumpster, until they were questioned about it later. How sure were they it was blood? We're talking about a college dorm--any number of strange things get thrown out. And honestly, how many people would recognize blood on a dumpster? I see a dumpster with a red stain, I don't think "Hey, that's blood, maybe I should report this." I think more along the lines of "Ew, I don't want to know what that is. I have possibly the world's suckiest job, and these college students are insensitive bastards." Yeah, I can see not reporting a bloodstain, not even connecting it with blood until someone mentions there might have been blood in the dumpster.

In the end, it doesn't matter if the kid was drunk, if he was/wasn't a delinquent, if he was a willing participant, or even when the custodial workers told about blood on the dumpster. Ultimately, no matter what comes of this, a family has lost a child. That's what it comes down to, an irreparable rent in people's lives.

(Anyone with a direct line to Nancy Grace--woman, you're a news reporter, not a gossip reporter. Tone down the eye makeup, it's not a formal event. Your appearance does not befit the seriousness of your subject.)

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Can't sleep

It's five in the morning where I'm at, I haven't slept yet and for some reason I just opened a new can of Coke. There is a problem with this picture.