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Tsarnaev Trial [Jun. 7th, 2015|10:09 pm]
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[Tags|, ]
[mood |cynicalcynical]
[music |Jimi Hendrix: 1983]

Kind of belated on my part, but I know some of my friends here are interested in current events, and was wondering what folks thought about the recently concluded Tsarnaev trial. I'm happy enough to see him sentenced to death, although I strongly suspect that he'll die of old age, but notwithstanding my animus against the man, I can't help but be somewhat amazed, and even scandalized by the defense that he got in the trial.

First off, it's unusual for a defense team to concede up front that their guy did it, but really they didn't have much of a choice there. Their strategy was obviously focussed on persuading the jury to avoid the death penalty because of his age. I can think of prominent historic examples that went down that exact same road, most notably the trial of Myron Semunchick for the 1945 murder of Mae Barrett (he got life, and was eventually parolled), as well as that of Harold Beach, who got the chair for his 1948 murder of Sheila Ann Tuley. Both those murders, while cruel in the extreme, were crimes of passion committed on the spur of the moment by sexually frustrated teenagers. Calmly planning to set off a bomb in a crowd of strangers to express your political convictions is something altogether different. Tsarnaev's lawyers had a Herculean task before them. With that in mind, it seems incredible that they would set out to dig the hole deeper, but that's exactly what happened.

They kicked the festivities off by claiming that they wanted him to get life in prison because that would be a more severe punishment than death. That's blatantly insulting to the jury's intelligence. Whether any of them took offense or not is impossible to say, but certainly, they didn't win anyone over to their side that way.

When the prosecution entered into evidence the piece of the boat on which Tsarnaev had written his confession in blood, the defense embarked on this impassioned argument to have the jury see the entire bullet-riddled boat, and not just the panel. They succeeded in that, although what they thought they'd gain from that is a mystery. I can't see any way that could have helped or hurt them. Perhaps they were trying to sow confusion. They certainly confused me.

I wonder, then, if the prosecution had that in mind when they introduced the brief clip of Tsarnaev giving the finger to the security camera in his jail cell. Defense immediately began lobbying for the jury to see the several preceeding minutes. They got their wish. The jury got to see Tsarnaev, completely calm and collected, using the reflective cover of the security camera to arrange his hair and clothes. The absolute lack of emotion was chilling. Without having seen the extra footage, one might interpret the moment where he snarls and gives the finger to the camera as the bravado of a frightened young man. In context, the act looks like the mask dropping off a diabolically hateful man who just can't contain himself any longer. It was IMHO, catastrophically dumb of the defense team to even allow that to be shown, much less to insist that it be shown. I think that, right there, is where they put him on death row.

They weren't done, though. Not by a long shot. They got his aunt to take the stand, and testify about what a nice child he'd been, and how much fun they used to have together. He started crying during this, after having sat impassively during hours of testimony about the people he'd hurt and killed, and how their lives were ruined. They showed the jury that he could feel pity for himself, if not for anyone else. Perhaps that one wasn't their fault. I'd really like to think that they did a walkthrough of his aunt's testimony before the trial, and that he didn't react that way then. Judging by the rest of their performance, though, I'm not sure they even understood that there was a problem.

Having done all that, they got Sr. Mary Prejean, a nun who's devoted her life to campaigning against the death penalty, to testify as to how she thought he could be reformed, and ought not to be executed. It's hard to see what they hoped to gain from that. Sr. Prejean is opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances,and believes that everyone can be reformed. If Hitler were on trial, she'd make the very same argument. Her testimony says nothing, therefore about Tsarnaev himself - just about her general beliefs.

Her testimony was worse than useless, though, because she spent a fair amount of time testifying about the strings that she had to pull to get access to Tsarnaev in jail. In the process, whether they understood it or not, she pretty well destroyed the defense's argument that Tsarnaev would be securely held in prison, unable to communicate with confederates on the outside.

I can't really recall a high-profile case that was so poorly defended. I almost wonder if they decided that they were toast no matter what they did, and settled for trying to lay a groundwork for another team of attorneys to argue in a few years time, when people have calmed down a bit, that Tsarnaev had an incompetent defense, and should be retried.

I'd be interested to hear other people's thought on this.
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Mike Pence [Apr. 2nd, 2015|09:16 pm]
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[Tags|]
[mood |annoyedannoyed]

You know, I always liked Mike Pence, and thought he'd make a good President. He's governor of the next state over, and my native state, Indiana. He struck me as a good, businesslike sort of man. This last week has been somewhat of a disappointment, though. Either he lacks the courage of his convictions, and is ready to support a law if he thinks it carries short term advanatge, and then flipflop immediately if there's a backlash; or else he's so politically naive that he honestly (as he claims) can't think of any way that law could have been used to discriminate. Neither one is a testimony to his fitness to govern.
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Complete Sets [Mar. 29th, 2015|07:07 pm]
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[Tags|, ]
[mood |cheerfulcheerful]
[music |Pink Floyd: Let There Be More Light]

So, way back in 2010, the census came around, and I filled out my form and mailed it off, and that was that. My neighbor did not. I know that, because five years later, halfway to the next iteration, the census taker still drops by every so often to tape a request to his door. It's a magnificent display of doggedness, I'll give them that. I'm tempted to fill it out and mail it on his behalf, just to give the census people peace of mind, but on the other hoof, since they're that obviously fanatical about the completeness of their data, I'd feel guilty for compromising their pool.

*****

They're apparently counting the number of dead in the GermanWings crash by how many distinct samples of DNA they have. That really brings home the violence of the impact.
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Crows! [Mar. 10th, 2015|07:26 pm]
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[Tags|]
[mood |cheerfulcheerful]

More friendly crows!
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Altamira? [Mar. 7th, 2015|07:51 pm]
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[Tags|]
[mood |cheerfulcheerful]

Hey all. I'm hoping that someone with better knowledge of pop music than myself might help me here. I'm looking for a song about Altamira, the cave in Spain with all the caveman art inside of it. The song I'm thinking of was from the early to mid 70s, and got airplay on American radio, although not a great deal.

I'm familiar with the songs by Ibio and Steely Dan, and it's neither one of those. It was a very bouncy, danceable European pop sort of song, and I think the band and the lyrics were French, or maybe possibly Spanish. I know that's not a lot to go on, but perhaps someone else remembers this?
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The Pope's Lucky Klaxon [Mar. 5th, 2015|01:08 pm]
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[Tags|, , , ]
[mood |cheerfulcheerful]

Oh, my! It's possible, if you're a duck or a fish, or something small enough, to swim from the Atlantic to the Pacific through the States, using only natural waterways! Stuff like this fascinates me! I feel ten years old when I learn something like this.

If you're familiar with the belief that evil spirits can't cross running water, this has some interesting implications for that as well.

*****

Soon, the Pandas will overun us...

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Watching the Cubs can turn gay people straight. I never suspected that. I didn't watch 'em enough, I guess.

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When I think of 'man cave', I'm generally thinking of something a bit more comfort-oriented than an actual hole in the ground.
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Im Februar [Feb. 26th, 2015|01:36 pm]
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[Tags|, , , , ]
[mood |cheerfulcheerful]

So, it seems to have been dessicant left in the fuel tanks that made the Antares' pumps sieze up. Some truly dramatic video of the debacle here as well, from several different angles.

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The Integratron. Someday soon, I need to go to Giant Rock and see this. The whole 1950s UFO contactee thing is becoming fascinating to me again.

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An astonishing 45% of Democrats still believe Obama to be a Christian. Independents and Republicans, not so much.

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Friend to Crows. They're such wonderful birds anyway.
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In Other News... [Feb. 23rd, 2015|07:48 pm]
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[Tags|, ]
[mood |cheerfulcheerful]
[music |Me: Freddy the Freshman!]

Who's got the whole Jap army, chasing him around?
Godzilla the freshman, the biggest guy in town!
Who wrecks the entire city, turns it upside down?
Godzilla the freshman, the biggest guy in town!

He stomped my ukelele! He stomped my saxophone!
He ate all our professors, and now the school's gone!

Who has destroyed Harvard, Princeton, Yale and Brown?
Godzilla the freshman, the biggest guy in town!

*****

So, it looks as though Greece may be allowed to remain part of the German Empire after all.

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I've seen it speculated a few times now that both sides want Greece out, but neither one wants to be seen as the proximate cause.

*****

So, it snowed heavily here Saturday, and while I cleaned off most of the car, I didn't bother with the roof. Thus it was that I had a big thick patch of snow up there that froze hard when the temperature plumetted again Sunday. Today, the sun heated the interior of the car, and melted off a lot of the snow from the roof, despite it being only about 10F out. The melt ran down, and in the shade under the rear bumper formed these big fat stalactites that fused to the pavement in a kind of ice curtain. It made a huge, loud *boom!* when I drove off and it broke loose.
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Burd... [Feb. 18th, 2015|07:56 pm]
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[Tags|, , , ]
[mood |bouncybouncy]

I'm really kind of nonplussed by all of the presumably intelligent people having a freakout over the fact that their voice-activated TV listens to everything that's said, and not just commands addressed to it. How on earth do these people think that voice recognition is supposed to work, anyway?

*****

I haz a Birb!



I really love this picture, and the artist only charges $15, too!


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Canadian man saved after being mistaken for a Seal.

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Terrorist was plotting to set off the Yellowstone Caldrea. That's probably not even possible at any level of effort short of what a large government could summon, but I'll give him points for ambition.
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Meanwhile, Amongst the Foreigners... [Feb. 18th, 2015|07:15 pm]
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[Tags|]
[mood |cheerfulcheerful]
[music |Pink Floyd: Cirrus Minor]

So, the Iraqui government is claiming that ISIS is harvesting their victims' organs to sell. As much as I'm in favour of deliberately and systematically exterminating those people, and as little excuse as I think anyone needs, I have a hard time giving this any credence. First of all, people who've been set on fire, machine-gunned, buried alive, etc., are usually not sought-after candidates for organ donation. Second, and perhaps more relevant, there's this weird paranoia throughout the third world that people are stealing their organs to sell to wealthy westerners. You see panics about this breaking out every so often, and even cases of mobs murdering innocent tourists because of this. I tend to wonder if this is propaganda aimed at the locals, and intended to be given believability by being aired at the UN?

*****

850 years ago, someone lost their big bag of gold, and couldn't find it again. That was probably Saladin's tax money. I've always thought it would be exciting to live in a place with a long history, where you can stumble across such things, not especially for the financial value, but just for having that link to history.
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