litch: (Default)
The thing is, you need to look for... (it seems like everytime I start writing a post and try to figure out how I want to start, these phrases that have nothing to do with what I want to say pop into my mind, I write 'em down cause i like the flow but I think it is just the writing equivelent of clearing the buffers)

I am taken with the notion that my childhood was the acme of american culture. That, as a society, we peaked sometime in the late seventies. That that was the high tide of elightenment and social progress in a number of ways. I hope I am wrong, though I suspect I am right about it at least as it applies to my lifetime.

That era was when most of the "good government" laws were passed. It was when the first real environmental regulations were established. Civil support for racial equality really moved from a minority position to a majority one. Realistic drug laws were in the offing. Women's rights were being taken seriously. Capital punishment was abolished & corporal punishment was pushed out of the mainstream. Indiginous rights were given more than lipservice for the first time. Gay rights began to be considered. Corporate controls were established. Hell, we even tried to go to a more senseable scheme of weights and measures (the metric system).

Then the reactionary forces in this country regrouped and mounted an offensive (the Reagan Revolution) to halt all this good shit and kill it before it had a chance to flourish. They dind't succeed entirely but they did manage to stifle most of it. I really wasn't too worried during the 80s, I dismissed most of it as old pre-boomer "dead-enders" set in their ways and unable to change maniacally clinging to a vision of a world that never really existed and I figured eventually they'd die and our society would move on. But I was wrong, they had children who agree completely with their hateful ideology and actively work to further it. What's more that mindset is very attractive to any dumb, scared yutz who finds reading and intelligent thought daunting (i.e. 60-70% of the population) since it is all so much simpler. They don't have to really pick apart the issue, they just have to listen to the guy in the nice suit who claims to love Jeezus the loudest and longest and do what he tells them.

I don't see it getting any better.
litch: (Default)
From [ profile] contentlove
A 26-year-old Missouri woman was refused Emergency Contraception when she handed her prescription to a pharmacist at a Target store in Fenton, MO, on September 30

When people have complained to Target about this they have told them to go to another store.

I think that is very good advice.
litch: (Default)
Laying in bed last night I was acutely aware of my muscles aching from spending part of sunday moving small boulders. Pretty much everything from my chest to my knees on the front of my body was sore. Only thing aching this morning is my lower back, but not too bad, the bad is that my mobility is limited while my extended groin recovers. Trying to squat down to fill the doggy food bowls just was not going to happen. It's satisfying in some sense, because those are exactly the muscles I really need to strengthen, but frustrating because while they are refactoring they aren't much use. Getting out of a chair I hobble for a few feet until they warm up and start functioning more normally.

I did not get selected for the jury yesterday. I'm not too disturbed by that (though it would be nice to have some time out of the office), it looked like a difficult case from what I could determine during voi dire. It was a murder trial, the defendant was a young hispanic, the victim was a child in her care who died from being scalded by hot water and then not getting prompt medical care.

I missed the first hour of selection because I forgot about it and did my standard monday morning routine. They presented the some of the definitions of the case and asked the group of 60 of us if we felt we could be able to render judgement on those grounds. Asked if any of us had had negative experience with cops or violent crime. If someone did they raised their hand and were asked them to describe the details of the event. They gave a list of names of principals & witnesses in the case and asked if anyone knew them. Then they went through and asked us each in turn if we though punishment, deterrance, or rehabilitation was the most important part of criminal justice. Then the defense team asked us some questions including who amoung us had been to central america and who had spent more than 10 hours without being able to pee.

She had two lawyers, one a fat middle aged guy who seemed utterly clueless. If he had been my lawyer I would be very scared. The other, a young woman seemed definately on top of things and intelligent, objecting when the wording of the counts the prosecution presented were subtly off what they had agreed on earlier. But she didn't seem to be the primary counsel.

One thing that was potentially wrenching is that through the process of jury selection we all sat in the audience area and the lawers sat on the opposite side of the table they usually do, so we got to spend most of the day watching this woman cry and look miserable. Regardless of her guilt or innocence it's draining to just sit and watch someone cry.

Found a news story about it:

And yeah I am just as happy not to have had to look at pictures of dead burned baby.
litch: (Default)
So you heard the latest thing they are trying to frighten you about and make you buy new stuff?

Don't Drink Water from a HOSE! it's poisonous

Here's the scoop from consumer reports (link).

Esentially the concern is trace amounts of lead (used as a softener for pvc hoses) which could leach into the water, as well as any pathogens that might have bread or chemical contaminants it might have picked up. If the water is running and anything standing has been flushed out it's negligable.
litch: (Default)

I am just blown away, I just watched this fascinating show, Going Tribal, it's a series where this english guy goes poking around the backwoods of the world and in the episode I just watched he went through a Bwiti Iboga initiation after living with the Babongo tribe of pygmies in Gabon for a month.

I had seen adverts for the series but it didn't tickle me much, another white dude with a camera crew and all his crap visiting the yokels I thought, but with no Battlestar Galactica I just watched the Discovery friday night lineup of Mythbusters, Dirty Jobs (kinda cool in and of it self), and Going Tribal. I was very much impressed.

He spent a month living with the Babongo and managed to do it without coming off like a complete prat. Then he did a full on multi-day hallucinagenic ordeal (as he put it, a days walk from the nearest road and two days from the nearest medical help) and really seemed to invest into the experience. It was fascinating, it reminded me of my most moving Acid Trips and it captured the remnants of one of the last hunter/gatherer societies that will probably vanish within the next decade or so.

I really reccomend making the time to watch it.

Rescue Me

Aug. 8th, 2005 10:40 pm
litch: (Default)
So I haven't gushed recently about it but the new Dennis Leary show on FX Rescue Me rocks like something unreal. It's crisp, emotional, out of control, wrenching, hilarious, poingant, and engaging. It's like a meta conversation about why Leary's comedy is funny, the anger and the pain that lays behind it and that give it meaning. The show talks about things that matter, in particular it's evolving increadble exposition on christianity just blows me away and I'm almost devoutly anti-christian. And it manages to do that and still continues to be fun to watch. It is definately a series I am buying on DVD.
litch: (Default)
So there's been a lot of discussion about the housing bubble in america, whethere there is one, how big is it, where is it, yadda bladda wadda.

This link is to a press release from a company that offers PMI insurance. So this is what they think the real risk is, in hard numbers their actuaries have come up with.

Nationwide they see a 21% risk and the Austin area is only at figured with an 11.6% chance of a decrease.

The interesting part is going back and reading it from previous quarters, austin's gotten less risky in the last couple years (as my tax assement notes). I did see in one article where they noted that Oklahoma City was one of the few large urban area that had a negative risk, where they though home prices were notably undervalued for the demographic trends.
litch: (Default)
I really like political cartoons, at their best they manage to say trenchant, acute, illuminating expositions on our society. It can humanize the wonky policy debates and remote principles into something real and emotional. I regularly read which has some of the best. It also has an amazing amount of crap, particularly the right wing cartoons, every once in a while someone on the right draws a good one but for the most part they are lame, stupid of screamingly inane. Chuck Asay from the Colorado Springs Gazette is a particularly egregious example of a bad right wing political cartoonist.

On the other hand Kirk Anderson really blows me away on a regular basis,
like this example )
litch: (Default)
So rather than go to bed last night I noticed I'd recorded an episode of scienceNow I decided to watch it. It was pretty nifty, they really skewered the bushco "hydrogen fuel cells will save the country" crap and basically said we'll be lucky it's only going to be 20 years before we have fuel cell vehicles and the infrastructure to produce & distribute the hydrogen it would require to fuel them. It makes it very clear why the rightwing powers which are so allied to the oil intrests throw it out everytime environment issues come up. It's a dodge, a dodge that has worked for a good 5 years, put off preassure to raise CAFE standards and energy conservation based policies. I think we are more like to see consistent commercial fusion power before we see consisten commercial fuel cell vehicles.

But that's all stuff that's been known for a while, just the general scientific community has come to accept that it is going to be a while. The part that was really cool though was the RNAi segment. Cellular biology really is the area I think we have the biggest deficit of knowledge that we can rapidly improve on. The last biology course I took ~1990 really excited me and I seriously considered changing majors to pursue it but I was burnt out on school and needed to get the hell out. I suspect I will always regret that decision. I hated biology in secondary school, it was the default required science class so the material was inane, the teachers were stupid, and my classmates were horrid. Worse, the tiptoing around evolution the early 80's demanded eviscerated the subject beyond even the possibilty that the wretched school system could supply. (And I understand it's only gotten worse).
litch: (Default)
Georgetown, Cedar Park, Leander, Liberty Hill, Pflugerville, Taylor & Jollyville are all little suburbs around north austin that charge your insurance company if they get called out to a car accident. They don't charge if the person doesn't have insurance. I am shocked that insurance companies are allowing them to get away with such blatent discrimination.

However on some consideration I suppose they just see it as a good excuse for jacking up the rates on their policy holders.
litch: (Default)
BBC interviewer (via NPR) talking to a woman walking home in london because all public transport was shut down:
"How do you feel about this attack?... Does it make you angry? Confused? Scared?"

Woman: "I'm a bit cross actually."
litch: (Default)
Well I fired off my stick of half dozen mortars to frighten off the demons of oppression.

I don't think it did much good, them demons can afford good earplugs; oppression pays well.

Live 8

Jul. 2nd, 2005 06:05 pm
litch: (Default)
Apparently I have been shorting myself sleep lately, I got up this morning, fed the dogs, ate a piece of cold pizza had a soda and fell asleep on the couch watching a show on building deep drilling rigs. Woke up 1ish, realized I was still exhausted and went to bed to nap until 4.

Realized that Pink Floyd was going to play soon and I was curious if Gilmour and Waters were going to kill each other on international television. They didn't. I have been watching the concert since, flipping getween the VH1 and the MTV coverage to see if there was a difference. Amazingly Mtv managed to be more annoying, I really thought the two feeds would be much different but MTv's announcer were notably dumber. mTV did have much cooler commercials though, there was one mtV ad about a kid living in a car & hotel room with his family with the tagline "mtv is still cool".
litch: (Default)
Took the pups to barton springs, the area just down from the pool proper

Read more... )
litch: (Default)
[ profile] sphinxie asked me to talk about relationships and I've been avoiding it because it scares me, I am still afraid of it but I am putting myself in a justaposition of two things I am reluctant to do that I do want to do; this, and working on my yard.

I am going to make a couple attempts at talking about relationships, so I can have a decent tag thread for it (and feel free to go through and add tags to any of my old posts you come accross).

So why does talking about relationships scare me?

Relationships scare me because they have power; they can be used to hurt me or they can hurt just because of their nature. I will do things I don't like and don't enjoy because of my relationships. I fundamentally alter who and what I am because of relationships. The most precious things in my life are relationships, and I am afraid (hell, I know) talking about them, especially talking about them publically, changes them.

So as you can see rationships are so lemonpepper I simply can't talk about them right now.
litch: (Default)
I feel like there should be a crime: "failure to raise a human being" such that if you kid does something that shock the conscience (like those in that pack of predators that beat the bum to death on a lark) you have to spend the equivelent of a minor manslaughter charge in jail.

But really, there shouldn't be, we don't need to punish anyone any more in this society than we do now. We need a nanny state for the children in our society, for our own protection. Every child should be assessed as they grow and if they seem to be twisting into something sick we need to take corrective action to try and shape their behavior into something acceptable (and if they can't be reshaped, than simply controlled).


May. 25th, 2005 04:05 pm
litch: (Default)
Punishment doesn't work, it will not reliably change behavior. It's been studied intensively for half a century and proved repeatedly. But it is still a fundamental expression of our culture. Even people who are decent otherwise charitable and apparently loving cling to punishment like a lonely five year old with a wooby.

Punishment doesn't work, but we swim in punishment. Forget prison and the entire criminal justice system, look at our games, our common business practices, our childrearing habits, even our driving. Every damn thing we do reeks of punishment at some point.

is it any wonder life hurts so much sometimes?

Punishment doesn't work, but I feel good when I punish someone, it's a barbarous kind of glee. In it's most absolute sense it is just a delight in expressing power over someone. It's just hurting someone because you want to and you "can" (can in the sense that it's socially approved, are permitted).

So punishing doesn't work, what do we do instead? I think we should use behavior modification as much as possible, and where it doesn't prove effective, limit the transgressors exposure to society so that they are closely watched and physically prohibited from engaging in the unwanted behavior. I also think that any competent adult should always have the right to choose not to live in a society that make such demands. We also need to have rational social strictures that only limit activities to the degree they impact others and recognize that corporations are not people.

It's admittedly what many people would call idealistic, but it has the sterling virtue of not obviously not working (unlike our current system).
litch: (Default)
Hmm there a couple of newsreports of a church in the backwoods of lousiana that was actually a den of satanic ritual abusers and animal molestors, included in the people arrested are a sheriff's deputy and the head of the hosannah church is a guy named louis lamonica who took over the church after his promanent father died.


litch: (Default)

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