...but not always for the right reasons. When Indianapolis' downtown Circle Center Mall shuts down at 9 pm, all the junior-high and high-school kids hanging there get booted out. Evidently the crowds of hundreds of youths have swamped nearby bus stops, and the crowding has led to gang activity and fisticiffs, which in turn has led to larger crowds as kids show up to see the rowdiness. A spokesperson for the city bus company said they'd considered creating more bus stops nearby to disperse the crowds and hopefully separate different gangs, but abandoned the idea for fear of spreading the unruly teens over a wider area.
This is sw33t! A public safety equipment Web site offers cute stuffed pandas and monkeys for emergency responders to carry around. The three-inch critters are given away to young children who have experienced a trauma situation; doing so helps reinforce the comfort a police officer, firefighter or paramedic can provide. They come in packs of 12.
If nothing else, this book is certainly a guide to the issues the Republicans feel vulnerable on, and Democratic strategists seem to agree. Then again, sticking to platitudes principles and steadfastly refusing to cite specifics worked for Dubya in 2000, and the "liberal" press let him get away with that.
(Via MetaFilter; by the way, I agree with one of the comments in the discussion thread that if the AP has obtained a copy of the book, they should post a copy of it online so readers can see the whole thing, not simply excerpts.)
Update:The Dodd points out in the comment thread that copyright issues may prevent that kind of wholseale publishing, an issue I admit I hadn't considered.
Odd coincidence department: anna of annatopia and I have been posting to a discussion thread here regarding spam in which I consider that a charge per email--maybe a nickel--might be a price people would be willing to pay to be free of spam.
I used to hate this policy at Compu$erve, and I doubt it'd be exactly popular, but I've considered the notion of paying to send email. I haven't fully decided in favor, but a *very* cheap fee--say a nickel a pop--assessed by the ISP probably wouldn't add up to much for ordinary users, but it'd add up for spammers who send millions. It'd be even more appealing if ISPs lowered their monthly service charges a bit to balance the fee, and if the money collected went into some sort of fund for general maintenance and operation of the Internet. I haven't thought about where businesses would stand--a large corporation might send enough emails that the price would add up too, but if you exempt businesses you risk exempting spammers by definition. As I said, I haven't thought this through, but it seems an interesting concept.
Not long afterward I notice this post at Ipse Dixit citing a Tech Central Station article proposing a small fee for email--about a nickel. The difference is that the TCS article envisions users setting up a charge to receive email, and senders ponying up "digital stamps" based on an ecash system similar to PayPal; if the digital stamp is sufficient to cover your charge to receive email, the mail gets through and pays you.
Both of these ideas have one thing in common...as anna points out in the discussion thread, spam is ridiculously cheap to send, and ISPs, business and individual users bear all the cost of handling, processing, evaluating and deleting it. Imposing some kind of cost on the sender seems to be the obvious way to make spam go away.
Mangle is a nifty Internet toy: it simply sends you, at random, to one of the 2 billion Web pages indexed by Google. It works by generating a short list of words, submitting them as a Google search, and then forwardign the viewer to the top search result (so there really aren't two billion possibilites, but the fact that Google search ranks change over time is an improvement over using a static database).
...I know, that's a bold statment since the month is so young, but I'll stand by it. Customs agents and other US and European law-enforcement officials have cracked a ring of child pornographers that evidently took pictures of themselves sexually abusing their own children. Police apparently became aware of the malefactors when a Danish couple was arrested in connection with the sexual abuse of their nine-year-old daughter; a search of the man's computer turned up pictures and information about the senders. Fifteem people have been indicted in a US court in connection with the abuse of up to 45 children ranging in age from two to 14. At least one suspect has committed suicide.
Child pornography is not merely reprehensible and justifiably illegal, it's evidence of a crime. I can't fathom the mind of someone who would e-mail someone else a photo of themselves committing such an act...I consider myself to be a fairly open person but there are strict limits as to the information I'm willing to share over the Internet. I just don't understand such people, and I don't want to.
Destroy All Monsters just posted an interview I did a while back. There's also a review by editor-in-chief Musashi of a film called Shaolin Soccer, which I'd heard was funny; according to the review, the film lives up to its rep. As you might have guessed, the Hong Kong flick's about a soccer team that uses Shaolin martial arts teaching to rise to victory.
Cut on the Bias reminds us that the Perseid meteor shower is nearing its peak. I have a confession: I've never seen a meteor, and it's one thing that I'd really like to do. That desire hasn't proved strong enough for me to drive far enough out of the city in the middle of the night and stare at the sky. But perhaps this will be the year, after all.
The only major influence seems to be that Ashcroft believes God is on his side and he should never waver in the course he believes is right. Personally, I've always thought self-doubt was a fine quality, but it's hard to condemn a man for having the courage of his convictions. If Ashcroft had humane values to match that courage, you might even call it a good thing. So I'm mildly amused when I read an article in which the writer catalogues some of the odder Pentacostal rituals (none of which Ashcroft participates in) in order to suggest there's something dangerous in his beliefs. (And I can't help but see a seedy class bias in the portrait of Pentacostalism, which has traditionally been a religion of the poor and uneducated -- Ashcroft being the odd duck here). The problem, the article suggests, must be that the Attorney General is too religious.
John Ashcroft's problem is not too much religion, or that he takes his religion too seriously. His problem is that he's a semi-competent man who has found himself in a job light years beyond his skill level. And if he has a religion problem, it is that his religon isn't much more than a few petty rules hiding in a truckload of arrogance. It doesn't have anything to do with mingling the secular and the theological. It's just that both Ashcroft's secular and theological sides are cheap and thoughtless.
But they don't threaten the division of church and state. And that's probably the best defense of John Ashcroft you'll ever hear from me.
I commented earlier this week about the strange contortions in the evolution of the story about two California teenage girls who were abducted at gunpoint. They were identified in the press after their kidnapping and rescue, but when police confirmed that they'd been raped as well, press accounts generally stopped identifying them in accordance with standard policy not to ID rape victims; the teens subsequently agreed to be identified. In a comment to that thread, anna of annatopia pointed out this post at crabwalk.com discussing the same issue. That post, in turn, cites a column in which a writer whose daughter was a rape victim discusses the issue, noting that she wanted to be identifed, hoping that more discussion would help erase the stigma attached to the crime.
The comment thread to the crabwalk post pointed out that few of the voices in the discussion over whether rape victims should be identified seem to be women, but also cited this speech by prominent journalist Geneva Overholser, who criticizes the press' reluctance to discuss sensitive topics. Key quote:
When we don't name, don't write, don't list, we feed the public ignorance and the public becomes accustomed to our not naming, not writing, not listing, and argues with us when we do. Yet we have only to look about us to see the appropriateness of full disclosure and to find the arguments that could win the public over, help the public remember that freedom of information is your freedom, not ours in the press.
Several other bloggers have commented on the strangeness of someone who suffered a very recent tragedy appearing on TV to talk about it soon afterward. I haven't seen any of the appearances, but I wouldn't condemn someone out of hand for doing so. Some people need to be alone with their grief, and they should have the privacy to do so. Others may need to deal with their tragedy by speaking out and sharing their experiences.
As you've noticed, posting has been a little sparse this week. I've been busy, of course; still, I've amassed quite a collection of links on my desktop to items I intend to comment on. I've also been posting to Destroy All Monsters since its resumption of publication.
Speaking of comments, I was deighted to note a number of comments to several previous posts. I've begun what I hope will be a day of general catch-up by responding to them. If you've left a comment recently, scroll down--I probably answered. If you haven't left a comment recently, please feel free to do so.
I failed to note the movies I picked up Tuesday night. I'm cutting down a bit on the Tuesday rental thing, since I now have a small stock of DVDs I have to watch. Still, I'll be picking up at least two a week (heck, it's a buck) if only to have a variety of things for the girls to watch. Here's what I picked up for myself:
Record of Lodoss War Vol. 1
My Neighbor Totoro
Ranma 1/2: Like Water For Ranma
...well, Totoro is for both the girls and me; in fact, they've already watched it. I rented the first Record of Lodoss War because I intend to review it, and I rented the Ranma 1/2 because although it's a fairly well-known anime, I'd never seen it. I got to watch it last night, though. Like a lot of anime, Ranma 1/2 has many forms. It began as a manga, or comic book, which was then adapted into an anime TV series and several OAVs, or animated movies released separately on video.
Ranma 1/2 is a comedy series about a highly competitive young martial arts student called Ranma who, during a training session in China, falls into a cursed pool and now transforms into a female version of himself when splashed with cold water. His father has arranged for him to marry Akane, the daughter of another martial arts instructor, so the two schools will merge. Akane is an excellent martial artist but a lousy cook. Episodes of this comedic series revolve around the relationship between Ranma and Akane, Ranma's inability to refuse a challenge, someone being forced into betrothal, the complications with Ranma's curse, or some combination thereof. As you might expect, the series is replete with running gags.
Ranma and his father change to a girl and a panda, respectively, when splashed with cold water.
When British actor Jeremy Irons' flight to his home in Cork, Ireland was diverted and he found himself stuck in Shannon Airport, he was greeted with the unpleasant sight of a messy airport lounge, complete with overflowing ashtrays and spilled beer. To the surprise of onlookers, the actor, who won a Best Actor Oscar for 1990's Reversal of Fortune, commandeered a janitor's cart and cleaned up the mess. "I find being diverted at airports quite depressing and I felt much better after cleaning up," Irons, 53, was quoted as saying by the Irish Daily Mirror.
You are a geek. Good for you! Considering the endless complexity of the universe, as well as whatever discipline you happen to be most interested in, you'll never be bored as long as you have a good book store, a net connection, and thousands of dollars worth of expensive equipment. Assuming you're a technical geek, you'll be able to afford it, too. If you're not a technical geek, you're geek enough to mate with a technical geek and thereby get the needed dough. Dating tip: Don't date a geek of the same persuasion as you. You'll constantly try to out-geek the other.
Last night we were able to get the girls in bed early--they were both really tired and fell asleep almost immediately. The evening was delightfully cool, and I sat on the porch for a while with my feet up, reading. Then my friend Onye dropped by for a cup of coffee--she even brought a bottle of Bailey's to sweeten it with. I poured the coffee into one of my '50s-style decanters and made a small pot of decaf for Crystal. After Onye left, Crystal finished watching The Lord of the Rings while I played out part of a campaign game in Close Combat. It was nice spending time chatting with Onye--when you have kids, it's easy to feel kind of isolated, especially since we're often so tired after the girls go to bed. Onye lives close by, and we hope to enjoy her company a lot more often.
No, not me, although you'll have noticed that postings are a little sparse this week. No, I wanted to celebrate the return of Destroy All Monsters! w00t! The editor in chief, Musashi, recently moved from Ohio to New Jersey, and had to put the site on hold for a few weeks while he got settled in. Now he's back with a review of the new Escaflowne movie DVD. There are still several articles by yours truly posted there, and more on the way. Of course, discussions of life, anime, Asian cuisine and slovenly roommates have been ongoing in the Forums section throughout the brief lull.
A 39-year-old soccer coach was arrested for assault when he rushed onto the field and punched a 12-year-old girl who'd scored two goals for the opposing team. However, he remains active in his coaching position despite having elbowed a 12-year-old in the stomach...the league mandates immediate suspension for officials who hit a referee, but there are apparently no penalties for hitting a player, because the league never anticipated it'd happen. "This is a bit of a precedent setter because we've never had a child assaulted," said the executive director of the soccer league. "We don't have any rules or procedures for it." The league has, however, scheduled a disciplinary hearing.
Great googly moogly! Some great guy built a treehouse shaped like a BattleTech MadCat mech. An article on a BattleTech-related site details the construction, including the fact that the originally planned wooden legs had to be replaced with a welded steel frame.
Funny! A magazine article describing how the writer (Seanbaby of seanbaby.com) decided to train for an imagined appearance on the wacky Japanese TV cooking show Iron Chef. He spent 30 minutes in a Japanese grocery buying unfamiliar items, then spent an hour cooking them up. The results? See for yourself...
Steven Den Beste has an interesting post today in which he credits much of his understanding of military strategy and tactics with wargaming. As a formerly avid wargamer (geek!) myself, I found myself nodding my head in agreement. He cites several of my favorite games, from Go to the excellent Microsoft WWII simulation Close Combat (which I've been playing again lately).
One quibble, though: In his discussion of capabilities and intentions, Den Beste notes:
Iraq developed nerve gas probably some time in the late 1970's, and used it in combat several times in the 1980's, both against Iran and against the Kurds. American nerve gas is much more sophisticated than Iraqi nerve gas, but it's evident that Iraqi nerve gas is more dangerous because Iraq has demonstrated the willingness to use it.
...but in an analysis of capabilities and intentions, it's obvious that Saddam Hussein has demonstrated his willingness to use chemical weapons against opponents incapable of responding in kind. During the Gulf War, Iraq was probably at its peak of weapons of mass destruction capability, and even went so far as to fire Scuds at Israel--yet those missiles did not contain nerve gas or biological warheads. The reason is simple--he may have had the capability and perhaps even the desire to do so, but he did not have the ability to survive the massive retaliation such a gesture would provoke. Whatever Saddam's capabilites or intentions today, he has no better ability to survive such retaliation, and simply asserting that he's some kind of mad dog doesn't prove that deterrence doesn't work on him.
Update: Den Beste has a new post responding to an email raising the same question.
I commented on this to my lovely wife over the weekend. The case of a pair of California teenagers who were abducted and rescued--apparently minutes away from death--received national attention, including the names and photos of the kidnapped girls. Doing so made perfect sense, of course; alerting the public might increase the likelihood that they could be rescued. But after authorities announced that they had been rapes, the Associated Press, in accordance with its policy, stopped identifying the pair by name. Then 16-year-old Tamara Brooks and 17-year-old Jacqueline Marris appeared on television to discuss the ordeal, so they once again were identified, having agreed to come forward.
This case raises two thorny questions. One concerns the policy in general. I believe that the AP is trying to be sensitive to women who have undergone a traumatic ordeal, but by according anonymity to the victims of this terrible crime, I think the press is perpetuating the notion that rape is somehow particularly shameful, and it shouldn't be.
Then, of course, is the now-you-see-it-now-you-don't contortions the press went through in the case of these two girls, whose names and faces appeared on national media when they were missing, but when the specifics of the offenses against them surfaced, were rendered anonymous and had their faces pixellated out of video footage. (And the fact that both girls were legal minors complicates matters further.) Chicago Sun-Times columnist Richard Roeper (yes, the film critic) points out the absurdity of trying to "put the toothpaste back in the tube."
I noticed this cool site today: PixelDécor features nifty retro-style wallaper designs and desktop icons. They generally resemble funky, Fifties-style geometrics, reminiscent of the background Nick at Nite likes to use for its logos. The proprietrix of PixelDecor also maintains her own Web log.
You are a very bizarre person, to say the least. You don't think the way most other people do. And you probably don't really care.
You defy convention, and probably really like burritos. And you're very content with your life. You're a ray of sunshine. Piercing, bizarre end-of-the-world sunshine, but sunshine nonetheless. While most people are going to college to be lawyers or accountants or something, you'd be just as happy working at Tippy's Taco Stand in San Dimas, CA.
You probably have a really interesting car. You definitely do not drive a Honda Civic. There's a good chance that you smoke weed. There's a good chance you sell it.