Archive for December, 2005

Harry Potter!

17 December 2005

Well, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was disappointing. They cut out entirely too much of the book, didn’t explain nearly enough of the necessary information, creeped and crawled through the first 2/3 of the book and then did the last third in about 45 seconds. The only redeeming feature? Each and every one of the Durmstrang boys is eminently lickable.

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My father is getting senile

16 December 2005

I got a message from Omaha Steaks at 9:08 AM. I don’t answer the phone that early, both because anyone who knows me doesn’t call me at 9:08 AM and nobody ever calls for me on the home line. Later, I check the messages, and I guess Dad had sent me some Omaha Steaks for Christmas. Damn skipper of him. Trouble was, he sent it to the wrong address. The nice people that live there now called Omaha Steaks and told them of the error (also damn skipper of them…we’d never have known the difference if they hadn’t), so they were calling to get my real address. The address Dad sent the things to? The house we lived in for 8 years after I was born. The house we moved out of, settling in another house for four years until he and Ma separated. The house we moved out of in 1990.

Yeah, I hate memes too

15 December 2005

I usually find memes annoying, but as my last final was tonight and I’m about 1.5 Manhattans deep, this is the best I can do with the tools I have:

Four jobs you’ve had in your life:
1. chemistry research assistant-diabetes meds
2. data manipulation monkey for a bank
3. researcher of potential bioweapons for the federal government (defense from, not use of)
4. linguistic research assistant-Irish Sign Language

Four movies you could watch over and over:
1. Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (I watch this about once every three weeks. Never gets old)
2. Harry Pothead Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
3. The Broken Hearts Club
4. Halloween

Four cities you’ve lived in:
1. Whittier, California
2. Washington, DC
3. All right, I’ve had a limited life, shoot me
4.

Four TV shows you love to watch:
1. The Simpsons
2. Boondocks
3. Family Guy
4. Star Trek: The Next Generation

Four places you’ve been on vacation:
1. Kihei, Maui, Hawai’i
2. Key West, Florida
3. Tanger, Morocco
4. Zermatt, Switzerland

Four websites you visit daily:
1. http://www.csulb.edu (school)
2. my.georgetown.edu (my homepage)
3. dooce.com (being…hypnotized…must do…her….evil bidding)
4. badnewshughes.blogspot.com (You never knew anal fissures could be so amusing!)

Four of your favourite foods:
1. the Dal Rae’s pepper steak
2. o-toro nigiri sushi
3. salad with blue cheese
4. Jen’s pasta e fagioli

Four places I’d rather be right now:
1. Washington, DC
2. London, UK
3. Dublin, √Črin
4. Firenze, Italy

See ya in hell, Tookie

12 December 2005

Well, I had avoided writing about this since I knew it hadn’t reached the consciousness of those outside California, and because the rapid pace of potential changes in the process. But, now it looks certain that Stanley ‘Tookie’ Williams will be executed at 12:01 AM Tuesday in the name of the People of the State of California, following San Quentin Correctional Facility Procedure 770.

This case is so racially and politically charged that anyone on either side can be called a racist or an apologist or soft on crime or a heartless bastard. Celebrities have had their say, the courts have had their say, the Governator has had his say, and the people have been having their say for a while.

At lunch yesterday, my OC-Catholic-Republican uncle blamed the ‘liberal courts’ for the drive to free Williams, which is hard to justify given that it’s the very same ‘liberal courts’ that have denied every motion Tookie’s defense has ever made. Not one court has sided with him; in fact, all the decisions I’ve been reading summaries of are unanimously against him.

It has also been said by the pro-execution side that for Tookie, this drive to avoid execution is the first step in a strategy to eventually have him freed. I think that’s probably true, since his lawyers have filed no fewer than five habeus corpus petitions in State courts. However, I don’t think we should execute somebody just because we suspect he’ll use his continued life to appeal for freedom. As long as the US is the US and the Constitution is mostly undefecated on by Republicans, it’s his perfect right to keep appealing. Only highly corrupt governments cut off a prisoner’s access to the courts. That does, of course, mean that the US Government is highly corrupt in denying suspects in the War on Terror access to lawyers and courts. That is, however, a brouhaha for another time.

In his statement denying Tookie clemency, the Governator noted that Tookie has never expressed regret or remorse for his murders, and indeed has denied committing them, despite bragging to friends about the “buddha-heads” he shot. While awaiting trial, Tookie plotted to blow up a prison bus and the deputies aboard it. While his bragging is based on witness rather than physical evidence, his plans to cause mayhem are undeniable fact. They are in his handwriting, and, while we might have gotten good at forging our parents’ signature on report cards, to accurately write and draw an entire manifesto would be impossible. His claim of innocence has been his grounds for appeal all along, despite the fact that, in the US, you can’t appeal a decision based on the outcome, you must appeal on the basis of procedural or factual error. All the courts have rejected his claims, finding no evidence that anything new that could be said would affect the verdict.

The death penalty troubles me greatly. I believe it manifests society’s underlying racism by targeting criminals of color disproportionately. This doesn’t necessarily mean the criminals don’t deserve their punishment, but that, given similar circumstance, a white man will be given life in prison while a black man will be given the death penalty. It’s not the punishment but the application of the punishment that worries me, and I doubt the death penalty could ever be fairly applied. So, it’s not the execution that troubles me. Hell, I’m enough of a pessimist to think that, in a perfect world, purse-snatchers, rapists, even drunk drivers who cause fatalities would be swiftly and harshly excised from our society. There’s no place in civilized society for even tolerating these crimes, and there’s no reason someone who’s unreformable should be allowed to waste the government’s money, not to mention precious protein and oxygen, that could be much better used elsewhere. But, as this isn’t a perfect world, that’s neither here nor there.

Jean-Michel Foucault writes about the discourses of power and punishment in society and the shift from the public spectacle of judicial punishment, meant to deter others from criminal behavior, to the segregation and individual punishment/reform meant to affect the individual. In a way, the death penalty is the last remaining vestige of the “dread Sovereign’s” hand in judicial punishment. The death penalty isn’t for the criminal, it’s for the victim, and by extension, all soceity since we are all victims when crimes like murder and rape are committed. Execution is meant to demonstrate the power of the Sovereign (or in our pseudo-democracy, the people) in controlling such abhorrent behavior. But, we do it backwards. The spectacle can only have a deterrent effect if it is a spectacle. Our private, neat, well-rehearsed executions abnegate this deterrent effect by sanitizing it. So, the deterrent argument for the death penalty is crap.

In the anti-Tookie column, there is also the little things that demonstrate the falseness of his ‘redemption’. He dedicates one of his books to people that were unjustly incarcerated, such as Nelson Mandela and Angela Davis. He also includes under this heading George Jackson, the founder of a violent prison gang who has murdered prison guards and successfuly plotted and executed murders in his own trial courtroom. If Williams believes Jackson has been unfairly punished, well, you’d be hard pressed to argue that he’s truly reformed.

Perhaps the most damning thing about Tookie is his founding of the Crips. Indirectly (and probably directly), Tookie has been the cause of thousands of unneccessary deaths, disproportionately affecting the underprivileged, often people of color. He founded a lifestyle and ethos that is far more destructive than any threat organized against civil society. Gang violence is the original terrorism, made worse by the fact that it’s indiscriminate and lacks any ‘message’ that traditional terrorists claim to have.

So, while the death penalty as a whole gives me pause, I have little reason to think that it is unmerited in this case. I still have reservations about state-sponsored execution, but I sure won’t shed a tear when his heart stops.

The Voice From the Cheap Seats

8 December 2005

The fact that I found this humorous should tell you how deep into intellectual Hell I am at the moment:

Syntax professor: [droning on about the difference between the -ly suffix in ‘quickly’ and in ‘manly’; in the former it makes an adjective an adverb and was originally ‘-like’ and in the latter it makes a noun an adjective and was originally ‘-litch’ meaning ‘body’ or ‘form’]
Syntax Professor: So, if we have a litch field, what is that?
Moi: A cemetery?
Syntax Professor: Exactly.
Moi: So the richest county in Connecticut [Litchfield County] was once a cemetery?
Syntax Professor: Yup. People are dying to move there.
Rest of class: [groan]

While we’re on the subject of Canada

3 December 2005

Via Twisty comes this report of a Canadian man who was let off rape charges because he has sexsomnia: sexual behavior while asleep.

Twisty hits the nail on the head quite nicely; I only have one note to add.

He only suspected he had had sex after using the bathroom and discovering he was still wearing a condom, court heard. He confessed to police.

What the fuck?

I would think if you got thrown off the couch, probably the first thing you felt (after your ass hitting the floor) would be a condom on your prick. I suppose I can’t speak for every other man in the world, but Jeebus, condoms are tight enough that you ought to be very aware that it’s there, especially if you’re not “aware” that you’re having sex.

Which leads me to my next bout of incredulousness: he had a bloody condom on! Two things about that shoot wide holes in his story. One, how the hell would you put a condom on in your sleep, let alone take off enough of this woman’s clothes to be able to rape her? Hell, getting those damn things open (the condoms, not the woman’s clothing) is enough of a challenge when you’re wide awake! Two, if this sexual behavior is automatic (since it’s occurring in sleep), how would the condom have come into play anyway? It’s not like condom use is so ingrained that it would become automatic like breathing or blinking. Granted, people perform extraordinary feats when sleepwalking (with specific reference to Bill’s getting into our neighbor’s Lexus and Doug’s climbing two flights of stairs to try to join Mike in his bed), but I have a really hard time believing that, in his sleep, this guy remembered he had a condom, remembered where it was, got it open, got himself hard, slipped it on, disenrobed his victim, and went to town on her, all while asleep.

Methinks he was just drunk, had what at the time seemed to his drunken mind a brilliant idea (to bang a sleeping drunk woman), and was shocked back to reality when the victim woke up and threw his ass to the floor.

Guess Canada really is America Junior.