Saturday, November 24, 2007

Parent's Weekend 3 - Hiking, Eating and Miscellany.

Two weeks later than I planned, but pics from Sandy's parent's last weekend of their trip to Japan.

Sandy really enjoyed this pic... for whatever reasons, she cracked up.

C'mon, how cute? Seriously?


Vending machines everywhere. As nature intended.

My wife has... issues.

Dad - "Reminds me of the Boy Scouts when I was a kid."

Me - "Reminds me of some of the outdoor classrooms at TBS in Quantico."

Mom - "Good place for karaoke, huh?"


We are a forever eating people, here in Japan.

No complaints.

I should really try and do this more. This is one of those things you know... intellectually, at least... but don't actually put into practice. Or know you should be doing, and agree with, but it never quite works out. I do know some folks would have a huge problem following through with it, though. Book added to the ever growing Amazon wishlist.

A Complaint Free World | Dr. Joe Vitale at Zero:
"...[the book] A Complaint Free World... The noble cause behind the book is to get you and me to stop complaining. No gossip. No complaining. Period.

...You’re allowed to complain in your mind all you like, but you can’t speak a complaint...

The idea is to clean up your language, because your words become your deeds and send out a vibe that keeps you stuck on the energy level behind them.

In short, speak negativity and you stay in negativity.
More at the link.

"Yakuza pair arrested for ramming truck into sumo stable."

Later, geisha, ninja and samurai showed up.

Yakuza pair arrested for ramming truck into sumo stable - Mainichi Daily News:
"Two members of the Sumiyoshi-kai yakuza gang have been arrested for ramming a 2-ton truck into sumo's Oshima Stable in Tokyo's Sumida-ku in November last year, police said Tuesday."

Navy defeats Notre Dame.

I missed this when it happened, but damn! Even I feel that twinge of alumni pride in this one. We came close, once, in the four years I was there to beating Notre Dame... but no joy in Mudville that day.

Look Around, There's a Lot to See -
"How about a cheer for the Navy football team? The Midshipmen beat Notre Dame, 46-44, in triple overtime last Saturday, Navy's first win over the Fighting Irish in 44 years! I know that Notre Dame is not that good this season -- 1 win and 8 losses -- but I bet the Fighting Irish didn't try to recruit many (if any) of the players now on Navy's team. So it was a huge win for Navy.

Forty-four years is a long time. When Navy last beat Notre Dame in football, Nov. 2, 1963, John F. Kennedy was president, the Beatles had yet to appear in the United States and boxer Muhammad Ali was still known as Cassius Clay."

I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords.

Too damn funny.

Go read in full...

Kung Fu Monkey: Lunch Conversations #4223: Getting In on the Ground Floor:
"John: ... No.
Tyrone: Listen, all I'm asking is that you give the idea a decent --
John: Robot overlords. You are "pro-robot overlords".
Tyrone: They bring world peace, universal health care --
John: At the cost of our freedoms!
Tyrone: MY POINT EXACTLY. We're already giving up our freedoms -- our right to privacy, gone. Warrantless arrest, gone. Right to have your vote counted is super-gone depending on the state you live in, right to stand trial, gone -- we have torture. We already have all the downsides of a supposed robotic takeover, but we're being cheated of the upside! I say, if this is the world we're gonna live in anyway, at least let the robot overlords have their shot. World peace, technological utopia -- and no crime! The robot overlords' crime control is swift and merciless.
John: But it's completely ... uncaring All people will be punished equally regardless of circumstance!
Tyrone: I'm sorry, did you forget I was black?
John: Okay okay --
Tyrone: Sure, the robots rend criminals with horrible tearing jaws. But if you're telling me they eat white and black criminals equally, that is a marked improvement over the situation as is -- Robot overlords don't give Scooter Libby pardons. No rich man can bribe his way out of the robot overlord court. You telling me you don't want to see the robot overlords kick in Dick Cheney's door --
John: I would buy that DVD. The two disc box set, with robot overlord commentary."

Irony once again curbstomped by the Bush administration.

US intelligence honcho channels Orwell, redefines privacy - Boing Boing:
"Privacy no longer can mean anonymity, says Donald Kerr, the principal deputy director of national intelligence. Instead, it should mean that government and businesses properly safeguard people's private communications and financial information..."

Sometimes Japan is *exactly* like America.

Well, okay, not exactly.

To be exactly like in the States, the underage party would have to be a member of the congregation. And a boy. And the crime would have to be covered up by the authorities.

Preacher arrested over lewd acts with teenage girl - Mainichi Daily News:
"YOKOHAMA -- A preacher at a church who engaged in sexual behavior with a junior high school student he met through a dating site was arrested on Wednesday, law enforcers said.

Hachiro Mayuzumi, 29, a preacher at the Aichi church of the United Church of Christ in Japan, was arrested on suspicion of violating the Child Welfare Law. He has reportedly admitted to the allegations against him."

Religious PostSecret.

I got a couple of those friends too.

[Hi Gayle! Hi Bobby! I still think you guys are nuts! ;) ]

PostSecret: Wednesday Secrets

Oh, Cynthia.

Not helping the odds any, that's for sure.

3PM Might As Well Shave Your Head While You're at It

Female coworker, as another is delivered flowers: Every time I see the flower delivery guy I hope it's for me. I wish someone would send me something nice like that. Oh, well. I'll just take a piece of chocolate from the candy dish.
Male coworker: That's right, decrease your chances even further.

Route 110
Long Island, New York

Overheard by: Drone

via Overheard in the Office, Nov 12, 2007

Ah, but it could be.

Sinfest Wisdom.



"It’s a Gonzo Protest in Florida."

That pic is awesomely hilarious and magically delicious.

I wonder if the man has any pangs of regret having abandoned the Constitution in his post? Probably not... if nothing else, we should know that politics values nothing beyond loyalty anymore.

Crooks and Liars » It’s a Gonzo Protest in Florida:
"Alberto’s first speaking engagement didn’t go quite the way he would have liked, but it’s not surprising that students protested the man who gave the President (his pal) a blank check when it comes to our civil liberties while also installing “torture” as an approved method of interrogation. Alberto is getting paid a boatload of cash (40K) to speak after disgracing his post as AG."

Japanese 95-year-old sets record.

Just awesome.

In other news, I feel like a lazy ass.

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Japanese 95-year-old sets record:
"A 95-year-old Japanese man has slashed the world 100 metres sprint record for men aged 95-99, clocking 22.04 seconds.

Kozo Haraguchi, who only took up running aged 65... took almost two seconds off the previous record in this age group, which stood at 24.01.

Mr Haraguchi said that it was the first time he had raced in the rain, and he was concentrating hard on not slipping.

"Everyone was cheering me on so I kept thinking I mustn't fall over," he told reporters.

...He said the secret of his success was taking an hour-long daily walk around his neighbourhood."

YouTube - Not The Daily Show, With Some Writer

On the writer's strike. Too funny.

Wonder Twins Gopher Moat + White Chicks and Gang Signs

With YouTube, it's sometimes a wonder that anything ever gets done.

Learning is a self organizing function; primary education can happen on its own, it does not have to be imposed.

Kids 6-12, in connected environments, can apparently teach themselves anything.

Sugatra Mitra leaves computers with internet access, sans instructions, in a foreign language, among groups of kids in India.

Best bit is this -
"Mitra: When I came back there... as soon as they saw me, they said "We need a faster processor and a better mouse."


Recorded at the LIFT Conference, Geneva: Sugata Mitra discusses his "Hole in the Wall" project in India, which proved that kids, without education or instruction, can figure out how to use a PC on their own -- and then teach other kids. Given this, he asks, what else can children teach themselves?

Hypocrisy, thy name is Fox News.

"All the footage you see in the video aired on the FOX News Channel."

Screwed-up law enforcement roundup.

Hard to imagine I thought about law enforcement as a career path at one point, innit? Ah, my romantic youth...

Reason Magazine - Hit & Run > More Problems in the FBI Crime Lab:
"Via the Washington Post, the FBI conceded two years ago that a bullet-matching technique it's been using for decades is faulty. Oddly, though, the agency doesn't feel it needs to notify the people the technique has put in prison."

Reason Magazine - Hit & Run > From the DWI Files:
"When James Bludsworth began to have a diabetic episode while driving, he pulled his truck over to the side of the road, and passed out behind the wheel. Police in Ozark, Alabama were called to the scene and, when Bludsworth didn't respond to orders to get out of the car, they used a Taser on him. They then arrested him and threw him in a jail cell on charges of resisting arrest and driving under the influence. Though Bludsworth blew 0.0 on a breath test and had no prior criminal record, those charges against him remain. The arresting officer will not be disciplined."

Reason Magazine - Hit & Run > Sleeping Man Tasered in His Own Home:
"Earlier this year, North Braddock, Penn. resident Shawn Hicks came back from a night out and plopped down on his own couch in his own home. Unfortunately, he failed to deactivate the silent alarm on his home security system. According to Hicks, two police officers responded to the alarm, entered his home, and woke him with a taser between the shoulder blades. When Hicks tried to explain that the whole thing was a misunderstanding, and that the officers were in his own home, they tasered him again. They next checked his wallet and ID, which confirmed his name and address. Then they tasered him again. The police then removed the taser pellets from Hicks' bloody back, refused to get him medical treatment, and arrested him for "being belligerent." They threw him in a holding cell until 5 am the next morning, when they released him without filing any charges.

You know what happened next. The police department suspended the officers who tasered Hicks without pay while they conducted a thorough investigation. The chief then had them arrested for assaulting Hicks with their tasers, falsely arresting him, and violating his civil rights. The two officers were fired from the police force, then charged, convicted, and given lengthy prison terms.

Just kidding. They were cleared of any wrongdoing."

From the comments, a couple reactions that got my attention:
"I am teaching my 4 children to distrust policemen, politicians, and priests."
"It's very simple. Here, I'll explain: Cops can do whatever they want, to whomever they want, for whatever reason they deem is appropriate.

If a someone who is not a police officer (a "civilian" in cop-speak) disagrees with someone who is a police officer, the police officer is always right. Always.

Police officers are not subject to repercussions for their actions, except on the rare occasion when a "rogue cop" is caught red-handed overstepping his bounds, and his superiors can't spin the story in his favor.

Police officers are always entitled to err on the side of safety- namely, their own safety- even if it means a few civilians might be injured, maimed, or killed. The ends justify the means when enforcing the law.

Whatever a police officer believes about a certain situation is the reality of the situation; dissenting views are not tolerated and are subject to punishment by the state.

...once again I manage to throw up a little in my mouth today, typing that."

Reason Magazine - Three Vetoes:
"In 2004, the California state senate created the California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice, a panel of current and former judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and police officials.

The legislators were concerned about the recent spate of DNA exonerations and death row releases, including at least six cases in California since 1989 in which someone had been sentenced to death then exonerated or acquitted in a new a trial.

...In 2006, the commission issued its recommendations. Three modest, sensible reforms made their way to the state legislature, and were passed by both the state's house and senate earlier this year. The reforms were backed by politicians from both parties. They were backed by both prosecutors and police officials who served on the commission. The reforms would have added some formidable defenses against wrongful convictions in California. Naturally, they were opposed by the state's police organizations. And so last month, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed all three.

The first recommendation would have required that prosecutors who use jailhouse "snitches" corroborate snitch testimony with other evidence...

A 2004 study by Northwestern University of 111 death row exonerations since the death penalty was reinstated in 1973 found that the testimony of a jailhouse snitch played a role in 51 of the wrongful convictions...

The second reform would have required police to videotape interrogations in violent crime investigations. This too is a sensible, modest reform. Law enforcement advocates have opposed taping interrogations in the past by arguing that police officers sometimes use untoward or coercive tactics that while legal, might appear unseemly to jurors...

If that's the case, let prosecutors put on evidence explaining to jurors why such tactics are necessary, and why they won't lead to false confessions. Then let juries decide if such tactics are acceptable. A tamper-proof, thorough videotaping of all interrogations would not only discourage police misconduct while questioning witnesses, it would also cut down on false accusations of police misconduct. Of course, it would also prevent police from illegally beating confessions out of suspects...

The commission's third recommendation was aimed at fixing the problem of false eyewitness testimony, which has contributed in part or in whole to more than three-quarters of known wrongful convictions. This recommendation should have been even less controversial than the other two. It would have established a task force to look into eyewitness testimony, and set up a series of voluntary guidelines for the state's police departments to follow to ensure that police lineups aren't overly suggestive.

One recommendation, for example, was that the police officers administering photo or in-person lineups be unaware of the actual identity of the suspect, to prevent them from giving an eyewitness subtle (or not-so-subtle) clues.

...Former state Attorney General John Van de Kamp, who chaired the commission, told the San Francisco Chronicle that all three recommendations were "modest bills which were based on the best science and the best practices available.""

Reason Magazine - Cop Talk
"I crushed a dude's eye socket from repeatedly punching him in it and then I charged him with menacing and harassment (of me)."

"Seeing someone get Tasered is second only to pulling the trigger. That is money-puts a smile on your face."

Those are two of the statements posted by corrections deputy David B. Thompson of Multnomah County, Oregon to an Internet chat room. The inflammatory rhetoric sparked an ongoing investigation by the county sheriff's office, as well as reporting by the Portland Tribune and other local news outlets.

Thompson may also have filed a false police report to hide the eye-socket incident he brags about in his post. Although the sheriff's department can't comment on the investigation while it's still underway, he could be fired and prosecuted if he's found guilty.

Many police departments across the country have experienced similar bulletin board crises over the last few years, putting police officers' freedom of speech in conflict with the public's need to be protected from, well, cops who get off on using Tasers.

...In September, a Columbus, OH officer resigned after the Columbus Dispatch revealed that she and her sister had posted videos on YouTube blaming Jews, blacks, and immigrants for the country's problems. Susan L. Purtee was neither on duty nor in uniform when she said Jews "started to tell us—the gentiles—how to live, because if we did, they'd make a lot of money" and black people use "mangled English, dirty and filthy"; but neither was she entirely anonymous, since the sisters' website revealed that she was a law-enforcement officer. Purtee was reassigned to a desk job, and then resigned.

...Mary Shelton, the Californian proprietor of the weblog "Five Before Midnight", took a different view after she found herself targeted. In 2005 and 2006, the local activist (she started her blog to monitor how the police department would respond to the end of a court-ordered reform plan) got a spate of threatening and racist blog comments from people claiming to be police officers. "I felt really intimidated," Shelton says. "It makes you look at them differently—is it this police officer, that police officer? ...I think that's one of the most difficult things of all, that you can't put a face on it."

The threats escalated: Shelton recalls that one poster gave details of what she was wearing and what she was doing during the day. Finally, a comment—"The reason [cops] beat up the Mexicans is because it's a fiesta, you beat them and candy comes out"—led her to close comments.

Shelton doesn't know exactly what happened after the department investigated the threats. "The official word was discipline was given out," she says, but California confidentiality laws prevented her from learning more..."

"Nanny State: How Food Fascists, Teetotaling Do-Gooders, Priggish Moralists, and [others] are Turning America into a Nation of Children."

Great interview. Some highlights...

Reason Magazine - Nanny State 911!:
"In his new book Nanny State, Denver Post columnist David Harsanyi documents in appalling and encyclopedic detail exactly 'how food fascists, teetotaling do-gooders, priggish moralists, and other boneheaded bureaucrats are turning America into a nation of children.' If there's a smoking ban, a mandatory exercise program, or censorious city government out there, it's pilloried in Nanny State...

reason: What's the 30-second version of your book?

David Harsanyi: It's a book about the most basic aspect of freedom: free will. The right to make the "wrong" choice. It's about the rise of the babysitter state. It's also about how intrusions -- ones that we may find piddling and sometimes humorous -- when bunched together make for a dangerous movement.

reason: So that explains why you open your book with quotes from G.K. Chesterton ("The free man owns himself. He can damage himself with either eating or drinking; he can ruin himself with gambling. If he does he is certainly a damn fool...but if he may not, he is not a free man any more than a dog") and Cheap Trick ("Too many people want to save the world.")

...reason: Your first chapter lays into "Twinkie Fascists," folks who try to limit what we can eat. Explain.

Harsanyi: First of all, the ideas Twinkie Fascists come up with -- from regulating food portions to outlawing unhealthy ingredients like trans fats to creating "health zones" to taxing certain undesirable foods -- are not based in reality. People have already made their choices and these intrusions, which nip on the margins, won't change those lifestyles. What is it does, though, is accelerate the nanny state. If we can ban one ingredient, why not every unhealthy ingredient? If we can tax a candy bar, why not a steak? There lies the danger.

reason: I ate lunch today at a Chinese buffet--all you can eat. At least half of the patrons were super-fat fucks--we're talking seriously obese, probably even on the moon. I alone ate about 10 pounds of food. Don't people need help in restraining themselves?

Harsanyi: Maybe they don't want to be restrained. I don't remember reading anything in the Constitution that says I can't be a fat fuck. (Though most of the founders clearly kept themselves in awesome shape.)

...There are plenty of people in this country who are healthy. And there are plenty people in this country who aren't. It's none of my business. and it's certainly none of government's business to coerce us into either camp...

reason: So what explains the dynamic of a public that doesn't believe in the efficacy of government yet calls for more nanny state regulations? (Please don't say it's the fluoride in the water.)

Harsanyi: It's because everyone has their own issue. I get a lot of people who tell me they agree with the book in general, but not on smoking bans. Or they agree on everything, but something really needs to be done about obesity. Or drunk driving. The right not to hear a word that offends you. The right to health care. The right not to smell my cigar. And so on. When you add it all up, you have a nanny state, a place where people make no distinction between convincing us to do the right thing and coercing us to do it."

Much more at the link.

"The Blog Readability Test. What level of education is required to understand your blog?"

Makes sense. I always thought my education peaked in high school.

cash advance

Criminal profiling is kind of bullshit, apparently.

Which is a shame, because I absolutely devour the genre fiction based on it. Everything from the Silence of the Lambs books to Criminal Minds on CBS...

Ah well, more attempts to impose order and create patterns where none exist. The hallmark of the human condition, it is.

The full article is well worth a read if you've any interest at all in that kinda thing.

Dept. of Criminology: Dangerous Minds: Reporting & Essays: The New Yorker:
"...I pause in my narrative and tell them there’s someone who meets this description out there. If they can find him, they’ve got their offender.
One detective looks at another. One of them starts to smile. “Are you a psychic, Douglas?”
“No,” I say, “but my job would be a lot easier if I were.”
“Because we had a psychic, Beverly Newton, in here a couple of weeks ago, and she said just about the same things.”

...A profile isn’t a test, where you pass if you get most of the answers right. It’s a portrait, and all the details have to cohere in some way if the image is to be helpful. In the mid-nineties, the British Home Office analyzed a hundred and eighty-four crimes, to see how many times profiles led to the arrest of a criminal. The profile worked in five of those cases. That’s just 2.7 per cent, which makes sense if you consider the position of the detective on the receiving end of a profiler’s list of conjectures.

... Not long ago, a group of psychologists at the University of Liverpool decided to test the F.B.I.’s assumptions. First, they made a list of crime-scene characteristics generally considered to show organization: perhaps the victim was alive during the sex acts, or the body was posed in a certain way, or the murder weapon was missing, or the body was concealed, or torture and restraints were involved. Then they made a list of characteristics showing disorganization: perhaps the victim was beaten, the body was left in an isolated spot, the victim’s belongings were scattered, or the murder weapon was improvised.

If the F.B.I. was right, they reasoned, the crime-scene details on each of those two lists should “co-occur”—that is, if you see one or more organized traits in a crime, there should be a reasonably high probability of seeing other organized traits. When they looked at a sample of a hundred serial crimes, however, they couldn’t find any support for the F.B.I.’s distinction. Crimes don’t fall into one camp or the other. It turns out that they’re almost always a mixture of a few key organized traits and a random array of disorganized traits. Laurence Alison, one of the leaders of the Liverpool group and the author of “The Forensic Psychologist’s Casebook,” told me, “The whole business is a lot more complicated than the F.B.I. imagines.”"

Friday, November 23, 2007

US government now morally equivalent to the KKK.

Just lovely.

Balloon Juice:
"Waterboarding was sometimes used in the Deep South to torture African-Americans and to extract false confessions to alleged crimes. And when it emerged in an appeal as long ago as 1926, even the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled it categorically “a specie of torture well known to the bench and bar of the country,” and “barbarous.” They over-turned a guilty verdict for murder by an African-American man against a white man because such methods invalidated any notion of a reliable confession…"

"PAX ROMANA" - Now this sounds cool.

"Pax Romana has the basic premise that in the future, they discover how to time travel. When they make this discovery, monotheism in the west is on the wane, and Islam has overrun a lot of Western Europe…and the Catholic Church happens be heavily invested in the scientific community. So (the Church) sends an army back in time to pretty much conquer the world and set up a theocracy.

They send everyone back in time to around 312 or 313 A.D., when Constantine was the first Christian emperor in the Roman Empire. And everything goes wrong."

Welcome to the Multiverse.

Only those of us who have read comics will be able to survive now.

Bonus points for the the UNC-CH connection.

Warren Ellis » The Imprint Of Another Universe:
"In August, radio astronomers announced that they had found an enormous hole in the universe. Nearly a billion light years across... It is bigger than anyone imagined possible and is beyond the present understanding of cosmology. What could cause such a gaping hole? One team of physicists has a breathtaking explanation: “It is the unmistakable imprint of another universe beyond the edge of our own,” says Laura Mersini-Houghton of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

It is a staggering claim. If Mersini-Houghton’s team is right, the giant void is the first experimental evidence for another universe..."

Federal Judge - "CIA Can No Longer Be Trusted In Terror Trials."

Everyone else paying attention - "No shit."

Crooks and Liars » Judge: CIA Can No Longer Be Trusted In Terror Trials:
"A federal judge expressed frustration Tuesday that the government provided incorrect information about evidence in the prosecution of Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui and raised the possibility of ordering a new trial in another high-profile terrorism case. At a post-trial hearing Tuesday for Ali al-Timimi, a Muslim cleric from Virginia sentenced to life in prison in 2004 for soliciting treason, U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema said she can no longer trust the CIA and other government agencies on how they represent classified evidence in terror cases."

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Annual Warren Ellis Message Of Love To America on Thanksgiving.

Via the Bad Signal mailing list:
"Don't forget, my Yanqui readers, the true meaning of Thanksgiving: give your neighbours an infected blanket this Thursday and then move into their houses after they're dead."

Monday, November 19, 2007

This is junk. I have to stop sucking.

Almost 2 weeks, no posts... multiple elementary school visits, a local festival, and lots of time prepping and having a Jr High speech contest... it's almost as if I work for a living.

Blogging to resume this weekend-ish. Thanks be to the baby Santa for 3 day weekends.