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Thursday, September 27, 2007

More outrages

In Georgia, a 60-year-old woman was arrested, strip-searched, deloused, and put in prison clothes for daring to ask why Georgia Transmission Company workers, including one off-duty police officer, were on her property. The rat-bastards claim she was threatening them, but exactly what threat does an unarmed 60 y.o. woman pose to several men? I hope she wins substantial punitive damages as a result of her lawsuit against those cocksuckers and gets a permanent injunction against them putting towers on her property and on that of her neighbors.

Second, Al Gore is from here. Yes, Tennessee has announced that they will start roving across their various borders to catch people who bring more than two cartons of cigarettes into the state. According to this article, bringing 3 to 24 is a Class B misdemeanor, with a maximum punishment of 6 months in jail and/or a $500 fine, and 25 or more is a fucking Class E felony, with a penalty of 1 to 6 years in prison. Both are eligible for property seizures under their contraband substances laws. I can just see it now, two guys on a bus trip to prison, "Hey man, what they got you for?" "Armed robbery. You?" "They busted me for making a run for Marlboros in Mississippi. Didn't steal 'em, bought 'em with my own hard-earned money. Six years. Can you believe that shit?" FUCK!!! Critics have accused Tennessee of making moves towards a police state, and frankly, I can't agree more. If anyone belongs in prison, it's Tennessee Revenue Commissioner Reagan Farr. Jesus fucking CHRIST!!! Putting people in prison for buying legal substances? I hope he ends up in prison, and I hope he drops the fucking SOAP. GODDAMNIT!

The older I get, the more tempted I am to support anarchism, and only the realization that devolving to that would be a case of the cure being worse than the disease keeps me firmly ensconced with the minimal statists/minarchists. Watch and... enjoy?, and read and pay attention to the images. Then, go to the poster's YouTube page. It's terrifying.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Police Taser Abuse

I'm sure many of you, by now, have seen footage of a woman who was not resisting arrest getting tasered multiple times by a rogue police officer. This woman, who, understandably, was in a lot of pain, was later tasered again once she was cuffed and in the back of a police vehicle. In the video, available on ABC 2, she can be seen trying to kick her way out of said police vehicle AFTER she had already been tasered twice. Then again, if I had been tortured, I would want to get away from my captor too. This officer should be behind bars instead of putting people there.

Also, I'm sure you've seen footage of an already subdued college student getting tasered after no fewer than FOUR campus police officers already had him on the ground and, apparently, cuffed. What the FUCK is going on? I believe some of the rationale behind the adoption of the taser was that it would be used instead of a gun when the situation warranted it, and I have no doubt it has saved some lives on that account. However, what I've seen in these two videos, as well as this video from UCLA last November, clearly constitute abusive uses of this weapon.

This song isn't directly related to the above videos, but I find it apropos nonetheless. Enjoy this old gem from Skunk Anansie.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Jena Six, my take:

By now, I'm sure that my very few readers are aware that I take a long time to form an opinion on matters of import. However, after reviewing the known facts about the Jena Six case, I'm only confused on one matter related to this case: Is it pronounced "Gina" or "Jenna"? I've seen Jesse Jackass on television pronouncing it "Gina", but citing him as a source on, well, pretty much anything is much like citing President Bush: It's likely to be incorrect, or draw incorrect conclusions from the correct data, and any statements are extremely likely to coincide with his own known biases, especially when those biases lead to conclusions that differ substantially from the facts. That said, they are both very occasionally correct.

Another thing that is unsurprising is that I will play the devil's advocate. I could cite a number of reasons, but in the end, it's just fun, and it's fun with a purpose. According to what I've seen and read, and for brevity, I will cite Wikipedia, the victim was knocked out and given a black eye for his trouble. Justin Barker was so severely injured that some reports place him at a party later that day, instead of at a hospital. He was so grievously wounded by six people that he ended up with injuries that can be found at a schoolyard fight, boxing match, football game, or countless other scenarios. What the Jena Six did was wrong. I'm sure we were all taught to try to resolve disputes in a peaceful manner. I also think all six should have been punished. Why were they not sentenced to three days in-school suspension just like the future Klansmen who put nooses in a tree the day after a few African-American students sat down in its shade during lunch? At an absolute maximum, if the prosecutor felt like being a hardliner, a day or two in juvie (or the county jail to cool off for the students who were adults under Louisiana criminal law) would not have been too excessive, or at least, not nearly as excessive as what we're seeing now. Some may argue that they put themselves in this position by beating up someone, and that all that has happened since is their fault. Some might even argue that, since they put themselves in this position, they have no right to any financial recourse, such as lawsuits. Some might argue further that, since they elected those in power there, that this is the worst punishment the town of Jena should face, and this is harsh punishment indeed. However, this is not justice. This is a perversion of justice and an abuse of the civil rights of Mychal Bell, Carwin Jones, Theo Shaw, Robert Bailey Jr., Bryant Purvis, and Jesse Ray Beard. I have coworkers who have at least considered taking the three or four hour bus trip to Jena to join the protesters. While I won't be able to attend, my thoughts will be with them, as will my wishes for the freedom and successful lawsuits of the six accused.

With that in mind, enjoy the music by one of my favorite artists of all time, Tracy Chapman.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Week 3 NCAAF Div. I-Bowl Subdivision recap

First, a small complaint: Why did they have to rename Division I-A and I-AA the "Football Bowl Subdivision" and the "Football Championship Subdivision", respectively? Is this tacit acknowledgment that the Bowl Championship Series is BS?

Some of you may know that I'm a huge Alabama fan. It's something I was born with, something I was raised loving, and something I hope to pass on to another generation. It is with great pleasure bordering on giddiness that I can report that the Crimson Tide beat the Arkansas Razorbacks 41-38 on Saturday. It was a far closer game than it should have been, since Alabama led by 21 points during much of the game, but still, this was the first come from behind victory for the team once led by The Bear in six years. While I'm sure Head Coach Saban was pleased with that aspect of the performance, I'm certain he has some words for his team. Whatever he's been doing seems to be working, and with this win, Alabama has gone from being an underdog to a favorite when they face Georgia at home, and they look good against an uninspiring Florida State the following week on the road.

Auburn University, on the other hand... It looks like Tommy "The Riverboat Gambler" Tuberville has finally drawn 2-7 off suit, and the results have been devastatingly clear against South Florida (who's ever heard of them?) and now, the lovable losers of the SEC, Mississippi State. Once again, their offense looked flat, and I honestly am at a loss to explain their implosion. One thing I do know is that the last time a coach at a major football university in Alabama lost to Mississippi State, he was looking for another job at the end of the season, and good riddance to Mike Shula. The last two weeks have led at least one local sports columnist to opine that Auburn may now only be the third-best FBS team in the Heart of Dixie, behind Troy University of the Sunbelt Conference and of course, Alabama. If you've never heard of the Sunbelt Conference, then you're not alone. At least the Trojans showed some serious signs of life in their losses to Arkansas and Florida, and they beat Oklahoma State. I congratulate the Mississippi State Bulldogs on their stunning upset at Auburn, their first win at Jordan-Hare Stadium in 8 years.

As if that weren't good enough, Florida, the defending national champions, completely annihilated the Tennessee Volunteers 59-20. Any time Phillip "I just got my ASS KICKED!" Fulmer frowns, any time his team is subjected to a humiliating loss, it's like a little slice of heaven, and that game put me on fucking Cloud NINE! Between that game and Alabama's upset win over Arkansas... I'm still coming down from that high. I LOVE SEC FOOTBALL!!!

Snave, I'm sorry, but when I see a Pac-10 team lose, it makes me happy. I have very little respect for that conference, and I base that on what I perceive as a weakness in the middle and lower levels of that conference. In the SEC, you have four head coaches who have won national titles, and a fifth (Auburn's Tommy Tuberville) who it could be very strongly argued was cheated out of a shot at a national title at the end of the 2004 season. Winning the SEC with only one loss is phenomenal, but going 13-0... that's insanely difficult, and then to get cheated like that? Hell no! That shit ain't right, and my only regret is that it was UCLA instead of USC losing 44-6 to give Utah their first win of the season.

On the topic of near-upsets, I cannot close this post without mentioning Texas at Central Florida. The Longhorns' play was insipid, and frankly, I don't know how they eked out a 35-32 win against this unknown team. Had they played Kentucky instead of Central Florida, Texas would have a loss now. I disagree with the AP and the USA Today polls. Texas hasn't played like a top 10 team all season, and unless things change and fast, they won't be serious players in the national title race.

I'm feeling a bit nostalgic and aggressive today, so enjoy this blast from the past from Bjork.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Hurricane Humberto:

I, like pretty much everybody, including the experts, was surprised that Humberto reached hurricane strength before landfall. However, I'm glad that, although it made landfall as a hurricane, at least it did so as only a Category 1, with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph. As part of the reasoning behind my calm over this storm, I cite Dr. Jeff Masters at Weather Underground when he made this chilling statement, "If Humberto had had another 12-24 hours over water, it could have been a major hurricane that would have hit without enough time to evacuate those at risk." As it is, Humberto is mainly a rain event, with my area getting the outermost rain bands and some thunderstorms. In this type of storm, the wind damage, while a potential problem, is not the greatest risk. I forget which storm it was, but a similar storm hit my area and washed out some small bridges in my area, not from wind, but from the rain. Also, there was a fair amount of flood damage in low-lying areas, again, due more to the rain than the wind. I've even been on the roads and gone to work at an office building during a storm of Humberto's size and strength, and I've been in thunderstorms even worse. So while it's a bad day for those affected, I'm just glad it wasn't worse. For those who are surprised by my lack of rancor in this post, I can only say that I don't joke about hurricanes. I may panic or behave somewhat neurotically, but I don't joke.

Enjoy the music. I chose "Rain" by The Cult.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Reflections on the sixth anniversary of 9/11:

Before anyone calls me a miserable, cynical, heartless bastard for what I'm about to say, well, all I can say is that I was actually born within the bounds of wedlock, and I take some issue with being called heartless as well, because it's impossible to get as angry as I do about what I consider very important things without a deep well of caring hidden somewhere. I'll let you know when I find it.

With this being the sixth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, I can honestly say I am disappointed, but not surprised, by the "news" coverage. Instead of sharing with the nation items of more immediate and relevant import (although, at least CNN didn't spend all day on this crap), we've had a day full of talking heads, including various people from all around the country, harping on the terrible events of that day and how we should never move on. Fuck that shit, right up the ass or whatever gets your rocks off. There's a significant difference between learning from the past and remembering; and living in the past and wallowing in your own misery. As a nation, I was willing to forgive the latter back on the anniversaries in 2002 and 2003, and to a lesser degree, in 2004. However, since then, the anniversaries have become a national form of mass-self flagellation and scab-picking, an emotional form of self mutilation en masse if you will. If we as a nation choose to wallow in our own self-pity over this event, then, frankly, we might as well all have been in those towers, or on those airplanes, or in that section of the Pentagon, because we certainly aren't living. We're existing, and that's not what the victims did, or at least most of them I'd wager, and existing isn't enough. Existing shouldn't be acceptable. Live, as so many no longer have the chance to do. Remember the past, learn from it, but live in the present. Otherwise, Osama bin Laden will have achieved a far greater victory than that which occurred on that dark day. As for me, I'm not afraid of al-Qaeda. I'm afraid of fucking Sean Hannity.

I'm sure that some people on the left will say, "Well, in six years, we're no safer than we were before. Give us more power so we can do it right." Some on the right will say, "We've done good so far, but we have them on the run, so give us more of your precious freedoms so we can make sure you're nice, safe, and warm." Anyone who says either is trying to fuck us all, and they're not being gentle about it at all. Sure, they're using the lube of the masses, pretty words, but in the end, they're riding us like a stubborn donkey. We should all rise up and say, as a nation, "Honey, I have a headache." Fucking should take place in a bedroom or other private venue between/among consenting, unrelated adults; not between those in power and the Constitution we should all hold so dear. And with that parting shot, enjoy the video below.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

More thoughts on the Duke Lacrosse Hoax:

Penitentiary: Let's look closely at that word. Of course, it means a place of corrections/prison, but let's look at the root word, penitent. Penitent refers to expressing sorrow for one's mistakes. Taking that forward to the word "penitentiary", then, it would be reasonable to infer that a penitentiary is "a place for those who are contrite," or "a place to make people contrite."

The reason I made the above point is that a friend suggested that prisons should be only to incarcerate those who pose a continuing threat to society. I could scarcely disagree more. Forty-six young men were vilified in the national press, had their basic civil rights abused in a manner reminiscent of the Scottsboro Boys during the days of segregation, and they had their physical safety threatened as a direct result of the words and actions of people in power at Duke University, the Durham District Attorney's office, the Durham Police Department, and various media entities. My friend mentioned prison overcrowding as a reason for his stance. Fine. Free those whose only "crimes" harmed themselves. Free everyone who's in prison for drug possession and selling, and free those arrested for prostitution and soliciting prostitutes. However, whenever such abuses occur as we saw here and with the West Memphis Three, justice must not only be done, it must be seen to be done. Prison is not simply for incarcerating those who are a continuing danger to society. It is for those who, through their criminal acts, have caused serious harm to others. Also, especially in this type of case, it serves as a warning and deterrent to those who would follow their example. In that latter case, it is, literally, to make an abuser of their power penitent. Society suffers as a whole when those who abuse their power, be they priests, prosecutors, police officers, professors, etc., do not face justice or are not seen to be facing justice. It is for that reason that I advocate a long prison sentence for anyone found guilty of such abuses, because without faith in the system, without a reason for people to have faith in the system, society suffers, and those wounds take decades to heal, if ever.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Final thoughts on Dean and Felix, and a confession or two:

Dean and Felix were truly monstrous storms. If you want to see footage of an eyewall penetration of Felix, it's available here, and stills are also available from that same flight. Please keep in mind that I am in no way intending to demean the suffering of the victims of those storms. I know all too well how awful such things can be, and they have my deepest sympathies and my sincerest best wishes. That said, as awful as they were, as powerful they were as engines of death and destruction, they could have been a lot worse. Dean had a death toll of 39, and caused US$3.8 billion in damage. The death toll and damage estimates from Felix are still being figured, but it's going to be worse than Dean was. That said, both could have been far, far worse, and for those who could have died but didn't because the storms behaved differently, I'm deeply grateful.

For my first confession, I've started to write again. Not the pieces of fluff with which some of you may be familiar, and not the... well, less innocent fanfiction that some of you may or may not know I write. This isn't even like a poem I posted earlier in the history of my blog. This is raw agony given form, and it's why I quit writing creatively altogether for the better part of a decade, and why I haven't approached that dark place in over 11 years. I wrote now, as I did then, for the simple reason that if I didn't let it out, I felt as though it would have consumed me. So I let it out, wrote my peace, and I'll be okay, even if only for a little while, or perhaps longer. I don't know, but I'm hoping it allowed me to let go of what ailed me. You see, while I respect and love writing, and while I am a fan of literature, I fear that darkness, so as a foolish child, I ran away from it. Perhaps it's long past time for me to confront it. Or, perhaps Nietzsche was right when he said, "He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."

My second confession is something equally frightening, though less intensely personal. I made a terrible mistake today, one I shall regret for a while: I debated a neocon Bushie today. He's an actual member of the local GOP, such a staunch party wonk I doubt any political or social thought of his is his own, but rather, was approved by the party. Discussing obliquely the Patriot Act and more directly the illegal wiretapping, I said that, as a matter of principle, although I have nothing to hide that would be of interest to the government, I am firmly opposed to that (allegedly defunct) program. He said that he'd rather have the government listen in on him. I then quoted Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding philosophers of our nation, when he said, "They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security." Actually, I misquoted it, but I got the gist of it. He said that he'd rather have prevented 4 or 5 more 9/11's over the last 6 years, and my brain just shut down. I realized, at that point, that he obviously doesn't understand the meaning of America, and that he doesn't understand how dangerous his beliefs, if implemented even more fully than we've seen, are. And I'll admit it, I became deeply frightened, again, for the future of our country. My answer was best said by Dr. Ron Paul, "I'd rather be free AND alive." My loyalty is to the United States of America, to our highest ideals, to our most cherished principles, not to any one political party or group. I love those ideals and noble principles as much as I love my family and family pet, as much as I have ever loved anyone or anything, and it hurts me to see this, because America is, above all else, an idea, an experiment, and what happens when those ideals die, that experiment fails? Then America dies a more permanent death than any outside force could cause. This is my belief, my testimony, my hope, and my fear. This is the prayer on my lips at the end of each day, and the song that plays its dulcet tunes in my heart.

Peace out, and enjoy a beautiful opposite of silence.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

This scares the hell out of me: Possibly the first hypercane

I was on Dr. Master's Wunderblog on Weather Underground, and they were talking about how the Hurricane Hunters had to abort due to extreme graupel, and that winds of 214 mph and 200 mph were spotted at an elevation of about 300 feet. Also, a dropsonde dropped in the southwest quadrant landed in the northeast quadrant. Read this blog, and remember that it's normally a pretty jovial, relaxed place. One person remarked that it's the most serious he's seen it in over 2 years, a time frame which included Katrina, Rita, and Wilma. I have never heard of the Hurricane Hunters being forced to abort due to extreme conditions; that's what they're there for. My name on that board is VentoTresandando, which means "reeking wind" in Portuguese. I realize that a true hypercane technically would require 122 degree Fahrenheit waters and would have winds of about 500 km/h, but this looks like it could be about as bad without reaching that threshold. Please let me know if I am wrong. I pray that I am, but this scares me to the depths of my soul, and I'm not even near its projected path.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

251, a test.

Click to view my Personality Profile page

And I scored a big, fat ZERO on interpersonal intelligence. Big shock there. Maybe I'm just nonsocial minarchist. :)