Sunday, December 28, 2008

Merry non-Kwanzaa

Is it just me, or does Kwanzaa seem to come earlier and earlier each year?
- Ann Coulter

Friday, December 12, 2008

Strangeness in Michigan

I confess that I think of Michigan as a place where even the loony left is boring; but two court cases in the news yesterday make me reconsider that prejudice. In the first court case, a harmless nut by the name of Diane Andersen Anderson was jailed for writing a web page that criticized a probate judge:

Twice Monday, [Wayne County Probate Judge David Szymanski] jailed Diane Anderson over the Web site and ordered the site to be “shut down immediately.”

“Yes, I was going to keep her in jail until the Web site was shut down,” Szymanski admitted Wednesday. He said he acted out of frustration with Anderson's argumentative behavior.

(Source: Detroit Free Press)
Judge Szymanski rescinded his order and ordered Ms. Anderson released after some lawyers pointed out that there are laws against locking people up for what they write. According to the Free Press, he said "I may take some lumps for that -- but so be it."

In the (creepily similar) second case, a Baptist minister called Edward Pinkney in Grand Rapids was jailed for quoting the book of Deuteronomy in a way that didn't flatter a state judge:

Judge Butzbaugh, it shall come to pass; if thou continue not to hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God to observe to do all that is right; which I command thee this day, that all these Curses shall come upon you and your family, curses shalt be in the City of St. Joseph and Cursed shalt thou be in the field, cursed shall come upon you and your family and over take thee; cursed shall be the fruit of thy body. The Lord shall smite thee with consumption and with a fever and with an inflammation and with extreme burning. They the demons shall Pursue thee until thou persist.

The quote is from a rag called the "People's Tribune", and Rev. Edward Pinkney is such a flake that he was only able to garner 1% of the vote in a Green Party primary. The gist of his story in the People's Tribune was that Judge Butzbaugh allowed a series of unlawful things to go on in his courtroom during Rev. Pinkey's trial. His most incredible accusations were that he was tried without even being arraigned; that he was convicted after a secret trial; and that a juror claimed to be a witness to one of the accused 's attorneys committing a crime in the parking lot of the court!

Normally if you heard accusations like this from a source like Rev. Pinkney in a paper like the People's Tribune you'd roll your eyes and ignore them. But now it's reasonable to wonder whether there's anything to his accusations. (At least, I so wonder. The reporter doesn't seem interested enough in Rev. Pinkney's allegations to tell us the back story.) What's going on in Michigan?

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The House that Jack Built, part 2

FourthAmmendment.com gives a summary of the curious law case of Frohner v. City of Wildwood, 2008. According to the New Jersey Public Safety Officers Law Blog:
The lawsuit asserted numerous claims arising out of the arrest and handcuffing of plaintiff, an undercover FBI agent, by defendants, local police officers. Defendants suspected plaintiff was a motorcyclist impersonating an FBI agent.
FourthAmmendment.com's headline: "Irony of the Year Award: FBI undercover agent sues for false arrest while working undercover for impersonating an FBI agent".

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Women in politics


From the Washington Post's Al Karmen: "Incoming Obama administration director of speechwriting Jon Favreau (L) and a friend pose with a cardboard cutout of incoming Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at a party."

(Note to self: if were Sarah Palin instead, would the Post have even cared? Is it any wonder that women quit politics?)

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Say it with pictures!

BoingBoing points out that the recent bank bailout has cost more (much more) than the most heroic government projects in our history. Wade at Voltage Creative, a marketing company, has put BoingBoing's numbers into pictures:


(Click to make the image bigger. I'm not endorsing BoingBoing's inflation-adjusted numbers. I don't know where they came from. But it's instructive to see that a marketing guru knew just how to present this data for maximum effect.)

Friday, December 05, 2008

What every defendant wants to hear from his prosecutor

We need to stop pointing fingers about things that are in the past that are out of our control.
- Tracey Cline. Ms. Cline is Durham, North Carolina's new District Attorney.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Cut-and-paste, or pride-and-prejudice

When I was in high school I did a one-week summer program at West Point. They had these nifty graphical X-terminals that used these new-fangled things called "mice". You painted over the text with the mouse and then you could cut text and paste it somewhere. I thought that was really neat.

Later, in college, I had an account on one computer and I could telnet or ftp into other computers in different rooms or cities. I thought this was really neat.

A few years ago I was at a trade fair and saw a program called VMWare, that lets you easily run a virtual computer inside another operating system. I thought that was really neat.

Yesterday I needed some emergency dental work, so now I'm rushing to get some projects done before the weekend. I need to cut-and-paste a lot of text between two pieces of mathematical software. One application is on a remote machine that I can only get to on my MacBook via Windows Remote Desktop running under XP running under Parallels running on my MacBook. The other application is on a remote Mac that I can only use via Mac Screen Sharing. It is running under XP on that Mac using VMWare. Every time I cut-and-paste the data it disappears. I suspect that some scientist in Mongolia is trying to figure out why my model data is appearing on his desktop. I don't think this is neat at all.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The sex life of computer scientists

According to Counterpoint Magazine, researchers have found that 83% if all Wellesley mathematics majors are virgins, but only 40% of all CS majors are. (Study: IQ Linked to Virginity.)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Who people are voting for and why (guest post)

From Lisa Archer:

I'm voting the opposite of my brother just to make him mad.


(Note from Jeff Hall: this woman's brother must have the patience of a saint.)

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Who people are voting for and why (guest post)

From Ronald Corcillo:

I'm voting for Barack Obama because I make less than $200,000 a year and he wants to cut my taxes.

Oh, he's also the only candidate who's pledged to capture Osama Bin Laden, the guy who killed 3,000 Americans (including my best friend from college) over 7 years ago but has somehow been ignored by George W. Bush.

The Republicans continue to try the "If you can't make an argument, attack the plaintiff" approach. But for once, people aren't falling for the trumped-up personal attacks. People are actually voting based on the issues - and that spells a lot of trouble for the Republicans.

Election eve

In a few hours, barring another 2000 or 1876, we can all stop worrying whether John McCain has cancer or whether Barack Obama is going to surrender to al Quaeda. And of course even if your worst nightmare about either of these two men were true, the Republic would still survive and prosper. We have designed our Constitution so that the Executive branch is unitary, but surprisingly weak, and that's the way most people like it.

America in 2012 is probably going to look much the same whether President McCain or President Obama is running for reelection. They are both pretty smart, and our country is a big place that can mostly look out for itself.

But that doesn't mean that the character of the intervening four years aren't going to matter to us at the time. My greatest worry isn't that a President Obama would raise taxes or let Iran get the bomb or give his interesting Chicago associates government jobs. My worry is simply that he has demonstrated no respect for liberty, and has surrounded himself with people with no respect for dissent. Am I worried for nothing? Ah ...
  • At the end of the longest and most expensive election in history, his campaign takes time out to persecute a small businesswoman for expressing a dissenting opinion.
  • His operatives and allies go all out to publicly trash the reputation of a working-class Joe whose only crime was to ask Sen. Obama an unscripted question.
  • When Joe Wurzelbacher refused to repent his sins, his campaign illegally searched government records in an attempt to find dirt on him.
  • When Gov. Palin was nominated for Vice President, his prominent supporters claimed that her baby was actually her daughter's child. When it was revealed that this is impossible, since her daughter was herself pregnant, his prominent supporters launched on of the most vicious series of attacks in our nation's history on this innocent 17 year-old girl. (Even at the darkest moments of the 2000 election recount, could you have imagined that the liberal elite would ever countenance -- laugh at! -- vagina jokes about a Republican candidate's teenager daughter on network TV?)
    Sen. Obama has rightly distanced himself from these outrageous attacks on the baby and the teenager, but he hasn't publicly scolded or condemned Andrew Sullivan, Conan O'Brien any of the childrens' attackers by name.
  • His lawyers have threatened legal action against the NRA for running ads that disagree with his characterization of his positions. (If John McCain did this to NOW or ACORN, his own supporters would threaten to abandon him. For that matter, I'd like to think that if Al Gore tried to muzzle his critics with legal threats, his supporters would have abandoned him too. We just don't do this sort of thing in America, do we?)
  • In Missouri, Democratic Sheriffs threatened to arrest anyone who lies about Obama. (They later said that they had been misunderstood. Of course it was silly of the public to take them seriously. It's not like the power of arrest is anything to worry about nowadays, right?)
  • He's kicked journalists off of his campaign plane who come from papers who don't show any loyalty to him.
  • More generally, he seems to have a Nixonian ability to take simple criticism personally.
Summing up, my biggest worry is that the fawning personality cult around him goes considerable trouble to discredit and punish anyone who does not support him. Of course, he can't be blamed for what other people do, and good politicians are supposed to try to be popular. But, like Vladimir Putin, at the very least he does nothing to discourage his cult's excesses.

Obama Warns He May Cease To Exist Unless America Believes In Him

INDIANAPOLIS—Unless citizens throughout America keep him in their thoughts, say his name to themselves over and over, and otherwise believe in him with all their might, Barack Obama may cease to exist, the candidate warned supporters Thursday.

"My fellow Americans, I am currently very strong and very, very real," Sen. Obama told a cheering crowd of 12,000 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. "Even here in Hoosier country, a traditional Republican stronghold, your faith has kept me from growing faint, becoming transparent, and slowly fading from view."

"But please, don't stop now," Obama added. "Unless you continue to believe in me, I'll completely disappear. You have to keep me in your thoughts at all times!"

- The Onion, via Overlawyered.com

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Tolerating dissent takes practice

If McCain did this, it would be front-page news:
Journalists from three major newspapers that endorsed John McCain have been booted from Barack Obama’s campaign plane for the final leg of the presidential race.

- Fox News, quoted by Michelle Malkin. The papers banned from the plane are the Washington Times, the New York Post and Dallas Morning News.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Sign of the times

Susan Shea-Gerson of 75 Dingletown Road [in Greenwich] has responded to the recent theft of a McCain-Palin sign from her property with a new one - plus an original sign of her own.

"On 10/22 Obama supporters trespassed on my property and stole my McCain-Palin sign violating my 1st Amendment right to free speech," reads her white sign with block red letters. "Do it again and you will find out what the 2nd Amendment is all about."
- Colleen Flaherty in the Stamford Advocate

Monday, July 21, 2008

George W. Bush finally leaves the Republican party

Christine Arguello has been nominated as a Federal Judge.

Court grants custody of Christian girls to Muslim kidnappers

I first read about this story at Jihad Watch:
ISTANBUL, July 18 (Compass Direct News) – A Pakistani couple has appealed a court decision to award custody of their two daughters, 10 and 13, to the children’s alleged kidnappers. The court based its custody decision on the girls’ conversion to Islam.

Judge Main Naeem Sardar ruled Saturday (July 12) that Saba Masih, 13, and Aneela Masih, 10, had become Muslims, invalidating their Christian parents’ right to legal guardianship.

There are hundreds of stories like this in the press every year, but they rarely make the major newspapers or TV. If any Chrisitian country anywhere did this to a Muslim family, don't you think'd make the front page of the New York Times? (Together with a snotty editorial about how this is what happens when churches interfere with politics.)

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Quote of the day

Je veux d'abord rendre grâce à Dieu et aux soldats de Colombie

- Ingrid Betancourt

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Seal of approval

Yourct.com has an interesting observation about the spiffy new bike rack at the East Norwalk train station:

As with most simple things involving public/governmental property it took the efforts of a dedicated biker, Steve Rappaport, the Norwalk Parking Authority, the CT DOT, DPW, Mayor Moccia, State Senator Bob Duff and State Rep Chris Perone. I hear a seal from the Maritime Aquarium may have been involved, but it may only be a rumor.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Thought of the day

I just saw Speed Racer. I want a girlfriend who can fly a helicopter.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Quote of the day

... once again a Clinton is making us turn off the television in case the children walk by.

-Peggy Noonan

Saturday, May 03, 2008

You have the right to an attorney

Just when you thought that the Dr. Ian Rubins manslaughter case couldn't get any wierder, Mr. Bajramaj's lawyer proves you wrong:
Norwalk Advocate: Bajramaj's attorney, Darnell Crosland, has said the charges should be dismissed and the bond lowered to zero. Crosland cited an episode of the TV show "Law & Order" and another manslaughter case in Stamford in which defendants faced lower bonds than Bajramaj.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Quote of the Day

It's easy to have high self-esteem -- just aim low.

- Albert Bandura

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Creepy quote of the day

... the overall presence of strong governmental control is healthy and should improve operational efficiency of the Games.

- 2001 Report of the IOC Evaluation Committee on Beijing. The committee was evaluating whether holding the Olympics in a communist dictatorship was a good idea. (Dominic Lawson. Mr. Lawson notes that "China and the Olympics are made for each other ... A super-sized portion of hardened commercialism, marinated in whipped-up nationalism and topped off with obsessive media control.")

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Government of the people, by the people, and for the people ...

... seems so passé in Connecticut. The State Commission on Human Rights has ruled in favor of its investigator's report that anti-discrimination laws prevent the city from requiring timed exams ... on fireman exams. From the Stamford Advocate:

STAMFORD - The city discriminated against a firefighter with a learning disability by denying him extra time on a promotional test and it must be trained in disability law, state human rights officials ruled.

The state's Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities ruled the city violated anti-discrimination law by denying extra time to David Lenotti, a fire lieutenant with attention deficit disorder.

The city defended the denial by claiming a fire captain, the position Lenotti sought, must be able to read and process information quickly at a fire scene. But state officials said the city never proved that was true, never consulted with disability rights experts and does not use a promotional test that actually measures how fast a candidate can read.

"It's a very nice victory," Lenotti said. "The city has basically been shown they can't just push people around."

So Mr. Lenotti has a right to a job for which I (and his superiors) think that he is clearly unqualified, and innocent victims of fires have a right to look like this if he is unable to make decisions quickly enough in a fire emergency.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Art and the law

In New Mexico, photography has been ruled to be a commercial enterprise, and thus ineligible for protection under that pesky 1st ammendment to the Constitution.

Photographers Denied
the Freedom To Choose What They Photograph:


Elaine Huguenin co-owns Elane Photography with her husband. The bulk of Elane's work is done by Elaine, though she subcontracts some of the work some of the time. Elane refused to photograph Vanessa Willock's same-sex commitment ceremonies, and just today the New Mexico Human Rights Commission held that this violated state antidiscrimination law. Elane has been ordered to pay over $6600 in attorney's fees and costs.

(From Eugene Volokh at the Volokh Conspiracy.)

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Quote of the day

... if the presumptive Republican nominee can survive five years in prisoner-of-war camps, then surely the Democratic nominee can survive five more months of opposition on the campaign trail.

-Nicole Crosby, letter to the Norwalk Advocate.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Quote of the day

When they call the roll in the Senate, the Senators do not know whether to
answer "Present" or "Not Guilty."

-Theodore Roosevelt

Just don't question their patriotism, OK?

From the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune, via the Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler:

A national tour featuring decorated veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan won't be stopping at Forest Lake Area High School today as planned, after school leaders abruptly canceled the visit.

Steve Massey, the school principal, said the decision to cancel was prompted by concerns that the event was becoming political rather than educational and therefore was not suitable for a public school.

He said the school had received several phone calls from parents and others, some of whom indicated that they may stage a protest if the event took place.

To paraprhase Charlie Brown, "AAAaaaaaaaargh!" I can understand people disagreeing with the war, but are censorship and expressions of contempt for American war veterans really the most productive way to get their point across?

But maybe they are getting their point across. Maybe these people honestly think that American soldiers are evil, and that anyone who disagrees with them is evil, and they think that being courteous to war veterans is teaching students to respect evil.

And maybe that's not the lesson that some teenagers need to learn.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Unfortunate quote of the day

[Former Governor Andrew] Young also quipped that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton has her husband behind her, and that 'Bill is every bit as black as Barack.'

'He's probably gone with more black women than Barack,' Young said of former President Clinton, drawing laughter from a live television audience. Young, 75, was quick to follow his comment on Bill Clinton with the disclaimer, 'I'm clowning.'


- Associated Press story, from Mary Mitchell's blog.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Quote of the day

Please avoid anything morbid or grotesque in the display of the dead midget lying under the table.

- 1966 NBC memo about a script for the sitcom "Get Smart" (Wall Street Journal, How Maxwell Smart and His Shoe-Phone Changed TV, March 21, 2008)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

With apologies ...

A tasteless but thought-provoking take on our nation's anti-terrorism policies, and an even more tasteless (and mildly obscene) take on the subprime mortgage crisis.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Book banning at Indiana / Purdue

From the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE)

In a stunning series of events at Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), Keith Sampson, a university employee and student, has been charged with racial harassment for reading a book during his work breaks.

Sampson is in his early fifties, does janitorial work for the campus facility services at IUPUI, and is ten credits shy of a degree in communication studies. He is also an avid reader who usually brings books with him to work so that he can read in the break room when he is not on the clock. Last year, he began reading a book entitled Notre Dame vs. the Klan: How the Fighting Irish Defeated the Ku Klux Klan. The book, which has garnered great reviews in such places as The Indiana Magazine of History and Notre Dame Magazine, discusses the events surrounding two days in May 1924, when a group of Notre Dame students got into a street fight in South Bend with members of the Ku Klux Klan. As an historical account of the students' response in the face of anti-Catholic prejudice, the book would seem to be a relevant and worthwhile read, both for residents of the state of Indiana and for anyone interested in this chapter of American history.

But others at IUPUI clearly did not see it that way. First, a shop steward told Sampson that reading a book about the KKK was like bringing pornography to work (apparently this holds true in his eyes regardless of the context in which a book discusses the KKK, the position it takes, and so on).
The university banned Mr. Sampson from reading this book inthe presence of others after a far hearing. At least we have to assume that the hearing was fair; as it turns out Mr. Sampson wasn't invited to it:
Despite his not being given a chance to defend himself, he subsequently received a letter from Lillian Charleston of the AAO, dated November 25, 2007, informing him that AAO had completed its investigation of the matter. The letter stated,

You demonstrated disdain and insensitivity to your coworkers who repeatedly requested that you refrain from reading the book which has such an inflammatory and offensive topic in their presence...you used extremely poor judgment by insisting on openly reading the book related to a historically and racially abhorrent subject in the presence of your Black coworkers.

Ajzar Majeed, who wrote this piece for the FIRE's blog The Torch, compares Mr. Sampson's plight with the bizarre story of Jihad Daniel at William Patterson University.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Dueling CIA's

Gabriel Schoenfeld reports that the Central Intelligence Agency announced this week that it hired a new Head Chef ... 4 years ago.
Culinary Delights Soar to New Heights at CIA Thanks to Head Chef” – is the headline of a new CIA press release.

The head chef in question is Fred DeFilippo, a 1992 graduate of the other CIA, the Culinary Institute of America. At Langley, DeFillippo works with a special intelligence unit:

Four other chefs assist DeFilippo and spread out the work between the sauté, grill, and pantry stations. The sauté chef handles pasta and vegetable dishes, the grill chef prepares meat dishes, and the pantry chef crafts delicious salads and sandwiches.

This is all very interesting and important, but there is still a question about it: Why is the agency circulating old news? The same press release acknowledges that DeFilippo “has been making a splash with dishes like his Chocolate Tiramisu since he began cooking for the agency in 2004.”

The timing of this announcement is thus curious. DeFillippo was appointed in the George Tenet era. Tenet’s parents owned a Greek diner in Queens, New York. Is there some sort of one-upsmanship going on between the current CIA director, Michael Hayden, and his failure of a predecessor?

Whatever the answer, life in Langley sure beats searching for terrorists and/or a meal of curried goat in the backstreets of places like Peshawar.
Or maybe someone in the CIA Office of Public Affairs is sending coded messages to someone in Pakistan. Still a nice gig though.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Free speech isn't free. It's not even cheap

From the Massachusetts Eagle-Tribune, a story about the Lawrence, MA police:

LAWRENCE — They were real looking enough. Three wooden plaques each embossed with a gold police shield, a small gun piece and each engraved with an officer's name.

But these "plaques" sent to the police department Sunday were no awards. They came from a bogus address in Puerto Rico, supposedly sent from a former assistant district attorney and were in recognition for the officers being "corrupt." They were dated "9-11-2007."

As first reported on The Eagle-Tribune's Web site eagletribune.com yesterday, police Chief John Romero has launched an investigation into who sent the packages. He said police are contemplating criminal charges, possibly at the federal level. Police yesterday dusted the plaques for fingerprints. Romero was one of the recipients of the so-called award.

Lawrence police also notified the postal inspector in Boston. The sender could face federal charges for using the U.S. Postal Service "to threaten, harass or intimidate," Romero said.
So let's see if I've got this story straight. An anonymous citizen accused the police in this town of being corrupt, and the police reacted by abusing their authority and using official resources to silence him or her.

Now Norwalk's had more than its share of police scandals recently, but it's stories like this that should make us thankful for the honest and overworked men and women who make up the bulk of our police force.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Great book review

From Mark Steyn's review of Thomas Riis' book Frank Loesser, (volume 5 in the Yale Broadway Masters Series.)
Frank Loesser isn't as famous a songwriter as Irving Berlin or Cole Porter, but, unlike them, he's apparently responsible for this whole clash-of- civilizations thing. A few decades back, a young middle-class Egyptian spending some time in the U.S. had the misfortune to be invited to a dance one weekend and was horrified at what he witnessed:

"The room convulsed with the feverish music from the gramophone. Dancing naked legs filled the hall, arms draped around the waists, chests met chests, lips met lips . . ."

Where was this den of debauchery? Studio 54 in the 1970s? Haight-Ashbury in the summer of love? No, the throbbing pulsating sewer of sin was Greeley, Colo., in 1949. As it happens, Greeley, Colo., in 1949 was a dry town. The dance was a church social. And the feverish music was "Baby, It's Cold Outside," written by Frank Loesser and sung by Esther Williams and Ricardo Montalban in the film "Neptune's Daughter." Revolted by the experience, Sayyid Qutb decided that America (and modernity in general) was an abomination, returned to Egypt, became the leading intellectual muscle in the Muslim Brotherhood, and set off a chain that led from Qutb to Zawahiri to bin Laden to the Hindu Kush to the Balkans to 9/11.

I'm a reasonable chap, and I'd be willing to meet the Islamists halfway on a lot of the peripheral stuff like burqas for women, nuking the Zionists, beheading the sodomites and whatnot. But you'll have to pry "Baby, It's Cold Outside" from my cold dead hands and my dancing naked legs. A world without Frank Loesser and "Baby, It's Cold Outside" would be very cold indeed.
Don't you wish that you could write like that?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Too evil for words indeed

From Best of the Web Today

Too Evil For Words:

From London's Times:

The acting director of a Baghdad psychiatric hospital has been arrested on suspicion of supplying al-Qaeda in Iraq with the mentally impaired women that it used to blow up two crowded animal markets in the city on February 1, killing about 100 people.
Iraqi security forces and US soldiers arrested the man at al-Rashad hospital in east Baghdad on Sunday. They then spent three hours searching his office and removing records. Sources told The Times that the two women bombers had been treated at the hospital in the past.
"They [the security forces] arrested the acting director, accusing him of working with al-Qaeda and recruiting mentally ill women and using them in suicide bombing operations," a hospital official said.

Read that again: The head of a mental hospital (allegedly) provided women under his care to al Qaeda to use as human bombs, for the purpose of murdering as many innocent people as possible. We are at a loss for words to characterize the depth of this evil.

It makes you wonder about the folks who condemn America with such self-righteous zeal over morally ambiguous practices like "waterboarding" terrorists or even generally accepted practices such as holding enemy combatants for the duration of wartime. One suspects that they do so primarily out of fear--in order to close their minds to the contemplation of true evil.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Man attempts suicide, foiled by nearby prayer meeting

Answered prayers: Suicidal man persuaded to live
By Sherri Williams
The Columbus Dispatch

When an Ohio University employee decided to end his life Friday, students turned to the power of prayer and the pen to save him. It worked.

About 15 students were at a weekly religious gathering at Galbreath Chapel when they heard that a man was threatening to jump from a ledge on the fifth floor inside the student union.

They didn't know the man but prayed for him, first at the chapel and then outside the Baker University Center, the hub of campus life at the school in Athens. Eventually about 50 people were gathered there.
A freshman met the man before he climbed out on the ledge.
He walked up to her and told her to leave the center because a lot of police soon would be in the building, she said.

She found it odd but already was heading to the chapel for the Praise God It's Friday gathering, which is sponsored by Campus Crusade for Christ.
"She found it odd, but ... ." I predict a brilliant career as an absent-minded professor for this woman!

Some of the letters that students at the prayer meeting wrote to the troubled man were posted by the reporter.

(Source: The Columbus Dispatch, Inside Higher Education.)

Sunday, February 10, 2008

A capital ship for an ocean trip

PhysX has done a techno version of The Walloping Window Blind

Then blow, ye winds, heigh-ho! A-rovin' I will go!
I'll stay no more on England's shore, so let the music roar!
I'm off for the mornin' train! I'll cross the raging main!
I'm off to the sea, it's the place for me; And there I'm going t'stay!

Monday, February 04, 2008

Quote of the day

If you forced an al Qaeda terrorist to diagram that sentence, Democrats in Congress would accuse you of torture.
- James Taranto, Best of the Web (refering to a sentence in Baltimore Sun article by reporter Justin Fenton.)

Just say no.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Mao and man at Yale

Volokh links to a very well-written article in the Yale Daily News about a bizarre   frightening controversial lawsuit against John Yoo. This lawsuit was brought by a Yale lecturer on behalf of convicted terrorist Jose Padilla against Yoo, who is a Yale alumnus.

Now one way to tell good journalism from bad journalism is this: bad journalism leaves you with unanswered questions at the end of the piece, but good journalism gives you insights that you weren't expecting. With this in mind, consider the following creepy insightful quote in the YDN article from law school dean Harold Koh:

This is a place where a thousand flowers bloom
"Let a thousand flowers bloom" is of course an infamous quote from Mao Zsedong.

Now I'm sure that it wasn't Dean Koh's intention, when he set forth to justify the harassment of a Yale alumni on behalf of someone convicted of conspiring with mass murderers, to set himself on the side of one of history's worst mass murderers.

But the YDN reporter put him on the spot and he revealed more perhaps than he intended to.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Has anyone seen a tooth?

That rascally varmint, the Tooth Fairy, staged a daring raid on my nephew Tom's mouth:

Gun control

I used to think that the appalling case of Tony Martin was the lowest that a democratic government could stoop to when it goes down the slippery slope of limiting an individual's right to defend himself. But, gosh, I was wrong:

Pantomime gun must be registered
A Cornish village drama group has had to register a toy gun with the police to comply with health and safety rules.

Carnon Downs drama group in Cornwall have also had to keep their plastic cutlasses and wooden swords locked up for the pantomime, Robinson Crusoe.

Producers of the show called the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) rules "farcical".

A spokesman for the HSE said the rules were designed to make risks "sensibly managed".

The climax of the show is a fight in which actors use replica 4ft long plastic cutlasses.

There is also a toy gun which produces a flag saying "Bang".

...

Neighbourhood beat officer Pc Nigel Hyde said: "We have been informed and made a note.

"It seems a bit unusual but other forms of replica weapons have been used to carry out crimes and the consequences have been serious."

A spokesman for the HSE said: "We do not want to stop people putting on pantos or having fun as long as the risks are sensibly managed."
I don't want to even think about how these risks might be insensibly managed. But here's what I do want to know: if some punks break into an Englishman's home and he defends himself with a toy gun that produces a "Bang" flag, what are the criminal penalties? Does the poor slob get locked up in a cardboard box labeled "Prison" in magic marker?

Friday, January 18, 2008

11 months, 5 days and a few hours till Christmas

The death of Bobby Fischer at the ironically young age of 64 really killed my post-Christmas high.

If it did yours too, I suggest getting a quick cheezy Christmas fix.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

European press looks at the Nevada elections

The European Jewish Press has a report that some Nevadans are angry that the Democratic Caucaus is being held on a Saturday:

Jewish groups and some Seventh-Day Adventists have both complained that followers will be frozen out of the Democratic and Republican caucuses because they take place on the Sabbath.

"To schedule these caucuses with no consideration whatsoever for the needs of Sabbath observers effectively disenfranchises a growing portion of the electorate," said American Jewish Committee counsel Jeffrey Sinensky.

Sinensky said in a statement that because there were no provision for submitting absentee ballots, anyone observing a Saturday Sabbath would not be able to take part in the caucuses.
The party big-shots seem less than interested in all of this whining:

"Scheduling the caucuses on Sabbath morning marginalizes both the Seventh Day Adventist Christian and Orthodox Jewish Communities," said James Standish, an associate director of the Adventist Church.

"In an election that is being decided on thin margins, selecting a time that excludes thousands of voters may even change the outcome," he added.

Nevada Democratic officials have disputed the lawsuit’s claims, pointing out that the voting process had been approved by the Democratic National Committee as long ago as May last year.
The obvious thing that 90% of the people reading the last paragraph will ask is: "Well, didn't the Lord command the Jews to keep the Sabbath even earlier than May last year?" Certainly this is what I thought. But I was being unfair: to many of the people who organize caucuses, I'm sure that last May seems unbelievably remote, and 3,000 years is just a meaningless stretch of time.

And let's face facts. Maybe anyone who would rather obey a direct command from the Almighty than a decision
approved by the Democratic National Committee doesn't belong in the Democratic party anyway.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Quote of the day

On the day that the last of the 9/11 hijackers entered the United States, many of the CIA’s officers weren’t at their desks, because they were putting together a quilt to celebrate “Diversity Awareness Day.”
- Mark Riebling, in a City Journal review of Tim Weiner’s book Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008