The Vatican has announced that there are now more Muslims than Catholics:
Islam has overtaken Roman Catholicism as the biggest single religious denomination in the world, the Vatican said on Sunday.
Monsignor Vittorio Formenti, who compiled the Vatican's newly-released 2008 yearbook of statistics, said Muslims made up 19.2 percent of the world's population and Catholics 17.4 percent.
That's all well and good, but it's like saying there are more Muslims than there are United Church of Christists. If you want to compare denomination to denomination, you have to understand that there is no monolithic 'Islam.' A more accurate comparison in terms of numbers would be the number of Catholics to, say, the number of Shi'a. An even better comparison, given the schism between Rome and the Eastern Rite churches, would be the number of Roman Catholics to the number of Twelver Shi'a.
What I'm not sure of here is the whole point of the article, and why the Vatican said what they said even though it's not statistically correct (at least not yet, given birth rates and whatnot). Is it kowtowing to their 'New Muslim Overlords,' an early warning that Christendom is about to be overwhelmed by demographics, or something else?
Maybe the two guys caught on their way to Naval Weapons Center Charleston had fireworks, maybe they had pipe bombs. They'll sort that out presently. What worries me at least as much about this story is that the Navy has its consolidated brig at the same base where they store nukes!
It isn't exactly 'cut and run,' but it's definitely 'run and hide':
Also being drafted are several Republican-backed proposals that would force a new course in Iraq, including one by Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Ben Nelson, D-Neb., that would require U.S. troops to abandon combat missions. Collins and Nelson say their binding amendment would order the U.S. mission to focus on training the Iraqi security forces, targeting al-Qaida members and protecting Iraq's borders. [emphasis added]
And since they'd be banned from combat missions, if the ever actually found some terrorists, (paraphrasing Aliens), "What are they supposed to use, harsh language?"
Florida's Frederica Wilson has a problem with state officials and agencies using the term 'alien.' This would be merely chuckleworthy rather than smack-the-voters-worthy if she weren't a state senator. Apparently she thinks everything else is just fine in the Sunshine State, because now she's going after the language:
"I personally find the word 'alien' offensive when applied to individuals, especially to children," said Sen. Frederica Wilson, D-Miami. "An alien to me is someone from out of space."Out of space? You mean 'people who don't have anywhere to store their Christmas decorations?'
She has introduced a bill providing that: "A state agency or official may not use the term 'illegal alien' in an official document of the state." There would be no penalty for using the words.First, once you're done scratching your head over the idea of introducing a law that has no penalties for being broken, you'll realize that this makes it easier to introduce a penalty later, rather than trying to do it all at once.
Second, what the Honorable Ms. Wilson either doesn't know or doesn't care about is that 'alien' is a legal term defined by the Federal Government:
(3) The term “alien” means any person not a citizen or national of the United States.So if she wants to send 'alien' down the memory hole, she'll have to start in Washington.
In Miami-Dade County, Wilson said, "we don't say 'alien,' we say 'immigrant.'"And here at Dangerous Logic Galactic HQ, we don't say 'Senator Frederica Wilson,' we say 'chowderheaded PC-addled waste of a state Senate seat.'
I had occasion to be down at the county jail not too long ago, where I snapped this little bit of irony with my camera-ish phone-type thingy:
Yes, that's a metermaid truck. Yes, that's the sidewalk.
The committee in charge of the Bejing Olympics is really, really thin-skinned:
Beijing Games organizers have threatened legal action against online pranksters who poke fun at official Olympic symbols after a rash of digital spoofs appeared on the Internet.
An image of the 2008 Olympic emblem "Dancing Beijing" circulated on Chinese Web sites and chat-rooms this week -- the original symbol of a human figure in motion morphed into "male" and "female" symbols commonly seen on public toilet doors.
. . .
The Beijing Organizing Committee for the 2008 Olympic Games (BOCOG) said the practice was "tarnishing the Olympic spirit."
"It's a rights violation that contravenes our country's laws and regulations," an unnamed BOCOG legal affairs spokesman said in a statement on BOCOG's Web site.
"We hold the right to carry out legal action against such offenders," the statement said.
This from the country that refuses to do anything significant about the avalanche of pirated DVDs it inflicts on the rest of the world.
Comrade Kettle, it's Comrade Pot on line 2. He says you're black.
The picture quality isn't the greatest. The sign says 'Hurricane Evacuation Route.'
(title callback here) ... because we seem to have some pretty dumb outlying towns.
Fireworks organizers and spectators across northeast Indiana are realizing that the daylight-saving time switch is presenting a problem for traditional Fourth of July celebrations.
When asked when their local fireworks shows would occur, most local fireworks coordinators just said “dusk” and confessed to not knowing exactly when it would become dark with the clock change.
OK, guys, I've got your answer. It's pretty complicated, so stay with me here...
IT'S ONE HOUR LATER THAN IT WAS ON THIS DAY LAST YEAR! AND YOU'VE HAD THREE MONTHS TO FIGURE THAT OUT!
Maybe we shouldn't have adopted DST; we don't seem to be coping all that well.
INDIANAPOLIS — The VanRyn family learned Wednesday that the patient they cared for and prayed for the past five weeks is not their Laura.I'm doomed to hell just for what I'm thinking about this case (far far worse than, for example, what I contemplated saying about this accident), so I'll show a modicum of class - just this once, I promise - and limit my comments thusly.
Laura, it turns out, is dead.
The young woman in the hospital bed, who suffered head injuries in an April 26 highway accident that killed five people, is Whitney Cerak.
Whitney's family thought they buried her weeks ago.
"We have some hard news to share with you today," the VanRyn family said in a blog at lauravanryn.blogspot.com, where it had been posting updates.
"Our hearts are aching as we have learned that the young woman we have been taking care of over the past five weeks has not been our dear Laura, but instead a fellow Taylor (University) student of hers, Whitney Cerak."
When no family member will identify a body...
Whitney's family never looked at the body recovered from the accident. One sister came to the hospital with the intention of doing so, but ultimately decided against it....why the holy Hell didn't the coroner request dental records, do a DNA test, ANYTHING to remove any doubt?
Remember, all it takes to become a county coroner in Indiana is to win an election (and have lived in your county for a year or more). You don't even need to be a doctor. In this case, the coroner wasn't even elected (from the first link):
Mowery, a politician who has been a county sheriff and mayor of the city of Marion, is completing the term of an elected coroner who moved to a different office. Mowery had signed up for a training course offered by the state Coroners Training Board but had not taken it.You'd certainly think that if you were picking someone to fill out the term of an elected coroner, you'd at least want to get somebody qualified for the job.
But that would be brandishing dangerous logic, wouldn't it?
Sign under the elevator buttons, second floor, Allegan General Hospital: "In case of fire, do not use elevator. Use stairs."
Sign on stairwell door, three feet away: "No Exit."
Sign on first floor stairwell door (stair side): "Exit."
A Vatican attitude like this isn't likely to get me going to Mass again: Cardinal urges legal action against Da Vinci Code
In the latest Vatican broadside against "The Da Vinci Code", a leading cardinal says Christians should respond to the book and film with legal action because both offend Christ and the Church he founded.This guy coulda been Pope? Outstanding.
Cardinal Francis Arinze, a Nigerian who was considered a candidate for pope last year, made his strong comments in a documentary called "The Da Vinci Code-A Masterful Deception." [emphasis added]
"Sometimes it is our duty to do something practical. So it is not I who will tell all Christians what to do but some know legal means which can be taken in order to get the other person to respect the rights of others," Arinze said.Did anybody else read this and think "Nice store you got here. It'd be a shame if something, you know, happened to it?"
"This is one of the fundamental human rights: that we should be respected, our religious beliefs respected, and our founder Jesus Christ respected," he said, without elaborating on what legal means he had in mind.My copy of the Declaration says "Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness." Arinze must have an earlier draft that includes "...and not to have one's Religion Mocked."
C'mon now, Francis. Think this through. Are you prepared to go after Chris Ofili? Serrano? Celtic Frost? Elisabeth Ohlson Wallin? Martin Scorsese? Every fundamentalist Bible-thumper who preaches that Catholics are Satanists? Geez, that'd take a whole Vatican bureaucracy, wouldn't it?
But then again, they've had some practice with that.
I wasn't drunk in Public. I was drunk in a bar. They THREW me into Public.
SAN ANTONIO, Texas (Reuters) - Texas has begun sending undercover agents into bars to arrest drinkers for being drunk, a spokeswoman for the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission said on Wednesday.Due to the way the laws in Texas are written, a bar is actually considered a public place for the purposes of determining public intoxication, so it appears Beck has the law on her side, not that that makes it just or anything.
The first sting operation was conducted recently in a Dallas suburb where agents infiltrated 36 bars and arrested 30 people for public intoxication, said the commission's Carolyn Beck.
Being in a bar does not exempt one from the state laws against public drunkenness, Beck said.
The 'Department of Precrime' part comes in because they're arresting people for something they might do:
The goal, she said, was to detain drunks before they leave a bar and go do something dangerous like drive a car.So they want to arrest drunks, in bars, before they actually do anything wrong (note that I didn't say 'illegal,' I said 'wrong').
"We feel that the only way we're going to get at the drunk driving problem and the problem of people hurting each other while drunk is by crackdowns like this," she said.
"There are a lot of dangerous and stupid things people do when they're intoxicated, other than get behind the wheel of a car," Beck said. "People walk out into traffic and get run over, people jump off of balconies trying to reach a swimming pool and miss."
The logical extension of this position is that the only thing stopping the excise police from reaching into your home and dragging your drunken ass to the county lockup is that pesky Fourth Amendment.
Update: Swanky Conservative came up with the Minority Report reference before I did, but I swear I thought of the same connection on my own. Given the brouhaha over The M Zone's hilarious Wonderlic Test parody appearing without attribution on Colin Cowherd's ESPN Radio show, I thought it important to point that out.
Update: The policy is now under review. All hail the blogosphere!
Transsexuals who have yet to have a sex-change operation will be entitled to two ID cards, Home Office Minister Lady Scotland of Asthal has said.
One would be in their gender at birth and the other in their legally-acquired "gender of designation".
The schizophrenic lobby is watching this issue with great interest, I'm told.
Check out what the governor of Tokyo (who?) thinks about our military:
Most Asian officials have expressed their views privately. Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara has gone public, warning that the United States would lose any war with China.
. . .
Mr. Ishihara said U.S. ground forces, with the exception of the Marines, are "extremely incompetent" and would be unable to stem a Chinese conventional attack. [emphasis added]
. . .
The governor said the U.S. military could not counter a wave of millions of Chinese soldiers prepared to die in any onslaught against U.S. forces. After 2,000 casualties, he said, the U.S. military would be forced to withdraw.
I'll let Dave deal with the question of how we'd fare in a war against China; my question is "Whatever gave Ishihara-san the idea that our ground forces were incompetent?"
I'll give you a hint as to what my answer is: a TLA starting with "M".
The angle everybody's missing on the NCAA banning Native American nicknames/mascots - once they're all gone, PETA will demand that they ban animal nicknames, too.
And 'Fighting Irish' will still be allowed. Because they're white.
Update: Geez, that didn't take long:
Jacksonville State and the University of South Carolina have ruffled some feathers at PETA and the animal rights advocacy group is asking Myles Brand to do something about it.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sent a letter to the NCAA president on Wednesday asking him to extend the recent ban on nicknames considered hostile or abusive to ethnic groups so that it would outlaw the Gamecocks.
A Fort Wayne man wanted to open a precision gunsmith business in his home, repairing and upgrading competition rifles to shoot more accurately. Some of his neighbors went into hysterics; unfortunately, they carried the Board of Zoning Appeals away with them:
The Fort Wayne Board of Zoning Appeals shot down a south-side man’s request to operate a firearms business from his home Thursday.OK, sure, if Bell wanted to keep an inventory of handguns and shotguns in his house. That's not what the business entails.
Indiana Avenue resident Brock Bell wanted to work part time as a precision gunsmith, who would make competition rifles shoot more accurately. But the Board of Zoning Appeals decided the business could harm the community and was not in the public interest.
About 15 neighbors who attended the meeting argued there was nothing to stop Bell from expanding the business and selling guns.
The business could have reduced property values and increased crime in the neighborhood, said Melissa Skalicky, president of the West Rudisill Neighborhood Association. [emphasis added]
People who were looking for guns might have broken into nearby homes if they knew there was a firearms business in the area, she said.They'd break into... nearby homes... if they knew there was a firearms business in the area. Wow, criminals must be even dumber than I thought - I always figured they'd break into the firearms business to do that. And we all know about how the gang-bangers loves they Anschutz 1413 Super Match 54's. I think The Game wrote a rap about how he all OG when he roll wit hiz five-four. Word ta yo' gunsmizith, homey.
Skalicky said several neighbors planned to sell their homes for below-market price if the firearms business were approved."Because," she whispered, "One of them wants to move into the neighborhood."
OK, I made that up. But it's the first thing I thought of when I read that quote.
Bell needed the board’s approval to obtain a federal firearms license that would have allowed him to ship and receive firearms in the mail. Most of his customers would have been from outside the region because competition shooting is a specialized hobby, he said.I think that's just a smokescreen. If the board were serious that their biggest concern was that Bell might start selling other guns, I'm sure some kind of restrictive language could have been written into the zoning variance. I think it was all about 'Guns Are Bad.'
Bell said he planned to keep the guns secured in a safe to discourage break-ins. At most, he would have stored five guns in his home while he was repairing and upgrading the weapons.
. . .
Although Bell planned to focus on repairing and improving competition rifles, the federal license would have allowed him to sell other guns. Marcia Heymann, chairwoman of the zoning committee for the Southwest Area Partnership, said she worried the gunsmith business would expand into sales.
“The issue becomes not necessarily the intent in selling (guns),” she said, “it’s the ability to sell them.”
I don't really think that Fort Wayne is the dumbest city in America. But I do think that some neighborhoods - and some city officials - can make us look that way.
Local6 is chock full of good stuff today. Never underestimate the ability of people to actively ignore the unexpected:
EASTHAMPTON, Mass. -- The highway signs at the intersection of Routes 10 and 141 might make you think you'd taken a wrong turn and wound up in the Deep South.
Amid the staid Yankee surroundings of this western Massachusetts town, the recently installed signs bear the outline of the state of Alabama, squashed to fit the square shape.
The incorrect signs had been up about a week when Joe Pipczynski, Easthampton's superintendent of public works, was alerted by a state Highway Department worker. [emphasis added]
Far from improving drivers' behaviour, motorists are now bunching at high speeds between junctions 14-18 on the M4 in Wiltshire, said Edmund King, the foundation's executive director. [emphasis added]
The cameras were introduced by the Wiltshire and Swindon Safety Camera Partnership in an attempt to reduce accidents on a stretch of the motorway. But most motorists are now travelling at just under 79mph, the speed at which they face being fined.
I am actually slightly familiar with the motorway section in question - it was the least harrowing part of the drive between my hotel and the job site when I went to the UK in September 2003 (also recounted, after a fashion, here). The thing I noted at the time was the lane discipline and signal usage - three lanes of traffic each way, sorting itself out without a lot of weaving and bunching. Either I was lucky enough not to have to deal with it (possible, I was only there a few days), or the 'Wiltshire and Swindon Safety Camera Partnership' have gone to great lengths to solve a nonexistent problem - introducing a new one in the process.
And I thought the Law of Unintended Consequences only applied to the US.
Abuse of law enforcement power is a pillar of White Trashdom (think Smokey & The Bandit's Sheriff Buford T. Justice or Dukes Of Hazzard's Roscoe P. Coltrane (aw, hell, think of both of them together!). So it shouldn't come as a surprise to regular WTW readers that a Florida sheriff apparently went to questionable lengths to find the address of a person who criticized him in a letter to the editor:
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- Orange County's sheriff used driver's license records to contact a woman who wrote a letter to the editor of a newspaper citicizing [sic] his staff's use of Taser stun guns and describing him as fat.
Some say Orange County Sheriff Kevin Beary violated federal privacy law when he had his aides use the records to get the address of Alice Gawronski. He sent her a letter accusing her of slander.
It is illegal to access a driver's license database to obtain personal information, except for clear law-enforcement purposes, under the U.S. Driver's Privacy Protection Act of 1994.
"I recently read your slanderous remarks about the Orange County Sheriff's Office in the Orlando Sentinel," Beary wrote Gawronski on March 23. "It is unfortunate that people ridicule others without arming themselves with the facts before they slander a law enforcement agency or individual."
Slander? Here's the letter Gawronski wrote; what do you think?
How many people have to die before we realize that the use of Taser stun guns is a barbaric, torturous and even deadly tactic?
A few months ago I watched on the local news as Orange County Sheriff Kevin Beary demonstrated the "safety" of the Taser by being stunned himself. Seeing him fall to the ground in an obvious state of distress was enough to convince me beyond a doubt that it should not be used.
There was something else Beary established during his press conference; that he would be too overweight and out of shape ever to apprehend a suspect without the assistance of a Taser. I doubt that Beary could even subdue a suspect already in handcuffs. Could this be a problem with all his officers? If two or three officers cannot subdue a suspect, maybe our Sheriff's Office should look at more physical-fitness training instead of resorting to these inhumane Taser guns.
Since this was a published letter and not an oral statement, I'm certain that Beary meant libel rather than slander (and the fact that the head law enforcement official of Disney County apparently doesn't know the difference between them should raise a few eyebrows among residents of the Magic Kingdom).
The only thing I saw in that letter that could remotely be considered actionable was the statment "There was something else Beary established during his press conference; that he would be too overweight and out of shape ever to apprehend a suspect without the assistance of a Taser."
Beary's response (from the AP article):
"During my Taser incident, I was never under any duress," he [Beary] wrote Gawronski, adding that his heart activity was monitored by a doctor. Before the test, the 5-foot, 10-inch Beary estimated his weight at 290 pounds.The expression 'Truth is the ultimate defense' tends to spring to mind here.
Update: Beary says he's sorry (link also gets you to the taser video, if you're so inclined - local6.com does it again!).
It's White Trash Wednesday! Take the whole tour:
A friend of mine has a diabetic daughter in middle school. She has to test her blood sugar at least once a day (maybe more, I don't know). This has never been a big issue for her or anyone around her.
Until some diabetic idiot at a high school in a nearby but different district thought it'd be a neat idea to wave his stuck finger around after a blood sugar test, spewing a few drops of blood in several different directions.
As a reaction to this, new policies enacted in my friend's district now will require her to do her checks in a room by herself (ditto for the other diabetic students in the district). That's got to be helpful to the ol' psyche.
And the idiot in question? Not punished - his district didn't have a disciplinary policy concerning what he did, and they chose not to exercise any judgement at all (in a matter of speaking. As Rush said, "If you choose not to decide / You still have made a choice".)
Zero Tolerance, meet Zero Intelligence.
To the unknowing - specifically, to the educracy (is that a word? it is now) in Lansing and Washington, it sounds like another story of a school district failing to meet adequate yearly progress standards under No Child Left Behind:
It comes as no surprise that the Allegan County Intermediate School District failed to meet federal requirements for progress in testing in 2004.[full disclosure: the ACISD is based in my hometown, but isn't my hometown school district]
. . .
The Michigan Department of Education recently announced a list of schools that did not achieve adequate yearly progress, as required by the federal No Child Left Behind Act. The state previously announced the progress of individual schools; now it has focused on entire districts. Adequate yearly progress is achieved when certain percentages of students achieve passing grades on the Michigan Educational Assessment Program test.
Except that the ACISD has a student population not generally held to the same standards as mainstream students:
The district's only school, the development center, serves special education students who largely do not take the state assessment test on which the requirements are based.I worked at the ACISD Development Center (Nobody. Say. A. Word.) in the summer of 1984, and at the time they divided the students into four categories: Trainably Mentally Impaired, Severely Mentally Impaired, Severely Physically Impaired, and Severely Multiply Impaired. Now I'm sure the terminology has become more PC (like maybe Handi-Capable, Differently Abled, and Just Plain Screwed), but I can tell you that what Ms. Stamas said certainly would have held true in 1984: the best of the TMI students and the least impaired of the SPI students might have been able to cope with a standardized test, but it would have been pointless trying to administer such a test to any other student.
. . .
Adequate yearly progress is achieved when certain percentages of students achieve passing grades on the Michigan Educational Assessment Program test. Many of the students at Allegan's development center took alternate tests instead of the MEAP. According to ACISD communications consultant Midge Stamas, only 1 percent of those alternate-test grades were admissible in determining the school's AYP.
"Some of our cognitively impaired students take the MEAP," she said. "But there is no way the majority can take it. We have alternative tests developed especially for these kinds of students.
"We definitely would've made AYP if they would've counted all of the students taking the alternative test."
You would think this would be easy to rectify, and that the ACISD wouldn't be liable for the penalty associated with not meeting AYP standards.
And you'd be wrong.
As it stands, the district was required to mail letters to the parents of every ACISD student notifying them of the district's status. There will be no federal sanctions this year for failing AYP, because it is the first year of assessment [saved by a loophole - for now. -ed.].
"We're not the only ISD facing this," Stamas said. "We're working with the state to help them understand No Child Left Behind was developed to apply to a majority of children-it doesn't fit the needs of the kinds of students attending the development center."
Martin Ackley, public information officer for the state, said the issue is being taken up at national and regional levels. "As No Child Left Behind is being implemented, these unintended consequences are being recognized," he said. "Hopefully, some adjustments can be made to better reflect what's really going on in our schools, so we don't stigmatize special education students."
Ackley said it would take legislation at the federal level to amend the discrepancy. "The state board of education has tried to address the issue, but as of yet hasn't gotten any relief to our concerns," he said.
How hard should this be to unscrew? One letter to the Department of Education saying "this school has a student population consisting of mentally and physically handicapped students; here are the kind of things we can test them on," and it should all be squared away. Is anyone optimistic that this will get fixed before next year, when the 'first offense' loophole no longer applies and the ACISD would actually suffer some real penalty?
This is the closest I'll get to contributing to White Trash Wednesday, because even in a city as dumb as Fort Wayne, you really can't consider the City Attorney as white trash; however, this incident is perfectly indicative of white trash behavior:
Fort Wayne City Attorney Tim Manges was ticketed Monday, accused of leaving the scene of an accident early Saturday. Police reports say Manges’ Jeep Cherokee hit a parked car and a tree at Broadway and Taylor Street at 1:17 a.m. Saturday, causing damage estimated at more than $2,500 to a 1993 Ford four-door.I don't want to jump to any conclusions here, but if you're driving on snowy downtown streets in a 4X4 after 1:00AM on a Saturday morning, and you still manage to lose control and hit a curb, a car, and a tree, AND YOU DON'T NOTICE HITTING THE CAR OR THE TREE...
Manges – who negotiated on behalf of the city the patrol officers’ union contract but also defends officers in legal cases – said he did not believe he hit anything except the curb. There was no damage to any vehicles or a tree, he said, so he continued on his way home from being out with a friend. Had he known he hit anything – if, in fact he did hit anything, he said – he would have contacted police immediately.
. . .
The area was hit by a winter storm Friday night and Saturday that dumped heavy snow. The police report says the road was covered with snow and slush. Manges said he began to fishtail while driving in the snow and over-corrected slightly, sending his Jeep “straight into the curb.” He said there is no damage on his vehicle or any mark that he can find on the tree in question.
Well, let's just say I can pretty easily think of one hypothesis that explains all those facts without contradicting any. There's also the issue of who said what to whom:
The Saturday report says only that Manges’ Jeep was found and towed. The Monday report says Manges stated Saturday that he wasn’t feeling well and that a friend spoke to investigators because Manges was ill.
That's interesting. If it were me, trying to clear my name, I'd rise up off my freakin' deathbed to talk to the people responsible for determining what happened.
Incidentally, the hypothetical hypothesis I allegedly refer to above also explains that behavior.
Combine this story with my local supermarkets' penchant for one-item-per-bag bagging policies, and you've got a hellacious revenue stream:
San Francisco may become the first city in the nation to charge shoppers for grocery bags.How typical of the PC crowd when they get ahold of a government - they want to legislate to prevent a specific behavior, then go out of their way to also prevent a different, unrelated behavior so they won't 'discriminate.' Discriminate against whom? People who want to have something convienient to collect their recycled newspapers in?
The city's Commission on the Environment is expected to ask the mayor and board of supervisors Tuesday to consider a 17-cent per bag charge on paper and plastic grocery bags. While the goal is reducing plastic bag pollution, paper was added so as not to discriminate.
It would be pointless of me to observe that this would be active discrimination against everybody who doesn't already use reusable organic cruelty-free 100%-renewable-hemp-with-10%-of-sales-donated-to-Amnesty-International canvas bags, because that's the whole point of this chowderheaded scheme.
But it isn't about the money, oh, no:
"The whole point is to encourage the elimination of waste, not to make people pay more for groceries," said Mark Murray, executive director of Californians Against Waste.
It isn't? OK, let's run the numbers. They want a 17 cent per bag tax, because
Officials calculate that the city spends 5.2 cents per bag annually for street litter pickup and 1.4 cents per bag for extra recycling costs.which leaves over 10 cents per bag to go straight (heh heh) into the general fund, to pay for interspecies sensitivity training or whatever the PC Cause Of The Day is.
Yeah, sure, it isn't about the money. Pull the other leg - it plays The Internationale.
It was a running joke when I lived in Saint Louis (1988-90): if you drove south on I-170 through the little crap suburb of Bel-Ridge, you'd always always always see a local cop under either the I-70 overpass or the Natural Bridge Road overpass. Sometimes both. Everybody just assumed they were there for revenue enhancement; why else would a town of 3,000 devote full-time police coverage to a one-mile stretch of Interstate?
Well, sometimes when you jump to conclusions, you land on the right answer. The depressing thing is they're still doing it:
[Bel-Ridge Police Chief Gordon] Brock tells officers in memos dating as far back as February 2001 that they would be demoted, lose overtime pay or face transfer to other shifts if they did not issue more traffic tickets. He often wrote such threats in a logbook that officers were expected to read and initial daily.
"Production looks terrible since I've been on vacation," Brock wrote in June 2001. "This definitely needs to get better or I will have to take other actions."
He also praised officers when their numbers went up. "Great job everyone for the fantastic job you did on bringing in revenue of Friday," Brock wrote in April 2001. "65 tickets. Wow!"
A memo that Lt. Daniel Clyne wrote March 17 to one of his sergeants stated that each of the four shifts (three have three officers and one has five) should write 238 tickets a month. The memo said each shift should have written 595 tickets at that point this year.
"Whether we like it or not, this department's survival still revolves around our ticket production," Clyne wrote. "This is a must."
A typical crack from the unfortunate speeder goes "Don't you guys have anything better to do than write speeding tickets all day?" It turns out that, yes, they do - they just ain't doing it:
With an average of nine violent crimes per 1,000 residents over the past three years, it ranks toward the high end of crime rates among St. Louis County communities.
. . .
Supervisors encourage their officers to ignore other law enforcement duties in order to write more traffic violations, according to two officers who worked at Bel-Ridge and agreed to describe their experiences if their names were protected.
They said Bel-Ridge commanders told them not to search vehicles or run computer checks of the drivers they stopped because either might lead to an arrest.
"If I arrest someone, I've got to spend three hours at the station processing him," said one of the officers. "I don't generate revenue that way.
"All they want you to do is write a ticket and kick the driver loose," the officer said. "We could have written a ticket to a known felon and let him go."
Some residents complain that crime in the neighborhoods often gets ignored while officers sit on Interstate 170, writing tickets.
It's bad enough that they spend a disproportional amount of time harvesting speeding tickets, but at least the drivers cited were actually in violation of traffic laws. But they used to run another scam that turned innocent drivers into violators:
In 2000, state officials intervened after finding evidence that officers were manipulating a crosswalk signal at busy Natural Bridge Road and Sargent Avenue to unfairly trap motorists.More detail is available here and here. The Courier-Post story has the police saying they didn't do anything wrong:
A Missouri Department of Transportation official said he watched a police officer wait for motorists to approach and manually switch the light from flashing yellow to red at the last moment, as other police waited nearby with ready ticket books.
Drivers in one rear-end crash there blamed the police tactic for the accident. Publicity about the signal prompted many motorists to came forward, claiming they were victims of the entrapment.
The state Department of Transportation took the step of modifying the signal controls to prevent officers from manipulating it.
Bel-Ridge [then-]police chief Col. Gertrude Bogan denied any wrongdoing by her department.
"The only time we ever touched that signal was when kids got to the corner and needed to cross," she said.
...Indiana gets left behind. Once again, the rest of the country moved forward one hour for Daylight Saving Time; once again, Indiana didn't. I've bitched about this before, and everything I said then still holds, but now there's another twist (actually, they did this last year, too, but I didn't write about it then). Our local broadcast stations have all decided to use Eastern Time for their network programming. Allegedly, this is to avoid confusion and keep them from having to run "Remember, this show airs one hour later starting next week" crawls for the week leading up to the time change.
I think this is colossally stupid of our local stations. Now, instead of having to remember just whether or not our TV is on Central Time (summer) or Eastern Time (winter), I have to remember whether the program I want to watch is on a cable station (their feed time didn't change, so they're on Central Time), a local station pre-recorded program (Eastern Time), or - and here's the twist that'll give brainlock to the average Hoosier couch potato - a local station live broadcast (Central Time)!
All this because the stupid Farm Bureau has the Legislature in their pockets.
One of the reasons I'm not a practicing Catholic anymore is stupid stuff like this: it's OK to wear a condom to prevent spreading AIDS, but not to prevent pregnancy:
A senior Christian clergy tipped to be the ailing Pope's likely successor says he would accept the use of condoms to counter the spread of AIDS.What, exactly, is the difference between "If it's God's will that this particular act of intercourse will result in conception, you can't do anything to prevent it" and "If it's God's will that this particular act of intercourse will result in infection, you can go ahead and try to prevent it?"
Making a marked departure from the Vatican's longstanding opposition to the use of condoms, Belgian Cardinal Godfried Danneels admitted that condoms had their share of virtue.
. . .
Danneels' comments go against the official doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church, which condemns artificial forms of birth control including condoms.
"Protecting oneself against sickness or death is an act of prevention," Danneels said. "Morally, it cannot be judged on the same level as when a condom is used to reduce the number of births."
Ted Bowen, a Canadian government official (I think; he's described as a "NDP caucus researcher" who writes government memos) resigned under pressure this week for referring to President Bush using Molly Ivins' favorite sobriquet: "shrub." In an internal government memo designed to increase efforts to convince the US to re-open the border to Canadian beef (after being closed in May when a cow in Alberta was found to have BSE), canada.com reports:
"While the memo itself seemed innocuous enough, it contained the subject line: 'Re: Petition to President Shrub.' A post-script on the letter explained that "shrub" was a dismissive nickname for Bush used by American writer and columnist Molly Ivins."Apparently, the memo made its way into media hands last Wednesday, and Bowen was suspended without pay and asked to resign the next day. Since I spent the Clinton era referring to the president as 'Slick Willie' and worse, I really don't find the use of 'shrub' all that troubling. What does bother me, though, is something else the memo allegedly said:
'"The letter urged members to use 'whatever creative flimflam you can come up with' to circulate a petition from the government urging Bush to re-open the American border to Canadian beef." [emphasis added]
I know that 'creative flimflam' is government's stock in trade; it's just troubling to see it expressed so openly.
I never considered myself morally uptight, but I've got to wonder if I'm the only person who is slightly discomfited by Las Vegas' new ad slogan, "What Happens Here, Stays Here?" The point seems to be that you can do stuff you wouldn't even consider at home:
"'I think it pretty well captures the pervasive feeling people have about Las Vegas,' said Erika Brandvik, manager of public relations for the LVCVA. 'We wanted ads that say you can come to Las Vegas and be a different person than you are back home.'"
"'As soon as I found out about this, I called for an investigation," Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman said. "Las Vegas is a place where anything goes, but this crosses the line if this is real.'"
Maybe what he meant to say is "Anything goes as long as you dump your wallet into our bucket before you leave and don't do anything to tarnish our new family-friendly image."
Update 15 AUG 2003: Snopes thinks it's a hoax designed to sell... wait for it... videos of naked women being hunted by paintballers! (hat tip: W.V.O. Quine (which is either a pseudonym or a visit from Beyond)
Last week's Washington Post Style Invitational (deadline midnight tonight) is looking for mottoes for government agencies. I sent in a few:
This is what I mean when I say that I've been living in Indiana for thirteen years but am by no means a Hoosier:
A portion of the state constitution displayed in a government building in Indiana isn't Indiana's after all.
The preamble in the Elkhart County Administration Building is from Tennessee's state constitution, not Indiana's. It refers to Tennesseans' ``indefeasible right to worship almighty God according to the dictates of their own conscience.''
Which part of that story bothers me more is left as an exercise for the reader.
The Washington Post is reporting (last paragraph) that C. Stewaret Verdery Jr. has been named assistant secretary of homeland security for border and transportation security policy. His last job? Senior legislative counsel at Vivendi Universal Entertainment.
Random thought, inspired by Amish Tech Support: if none of my personalities is crazy, can I still use the insanity defense?
3,045 counts of accessory to murder. Guilty verdict. FIFTEEN YEARS in prison (fourteen to go, counting time served). That works out to about 1 day, 16 hours per murder.
UpDATE: /2003 looks like he's out in as little as nine more years.
If I ever get the urge to go postal, I'm going to Germany.
This Washington Times article describes the uproar over House Minority Leader (and left-wing nut job) Rep. Nancy Pelosi's request to have an ID card issued by the Mexican government (the Matricula Consular card) accepted as valid ID for admission to the Phillip Burton Federal Building in San Francisco. The argument against this is that only illegal aliens would need to use an MC card to get into the building; legal aliens would be able to get some form of state ID. Pelosi's reasoning is that even illegal aliens would want to have access to the IRS office so they can get taxpayer ID numbers so they can be good citizens. Oops, I mean 'good illegal aliens.' Correct me if I'm wrong (the most unnecessary phrase ever to appear on the Internet), but isn't rule #1 of being an illegal alien "Don't alert the government to your presence?"
My take? Fine. Let 'em in using their Mexican ID. I'm sure there's an INS office in the Federal Building, and a phone call only takes a few seconds...
The other smack-worthy quote in the article comes from Pelosi spokeswoman Cindy Jimenez: "The intent of the effort is to allow these individuals to . . . be able to talk to their representative." News flash, lady: 'These individuals' aren't American citizens! 'Their representatives' are in MEXICO!
I'm hoping this is a hoax, because it's just waaaaaaay too creepy otherwise: according to this article in Reason magazine, this is the new logo of the Office of Homeland Security:
Sure, it's sleazy, but since when is fixing an Olympic event a crime? Sure, it's stupid, but since when is wearing an obscene t-shirt to your court date a crime? Sure, it's, well I don't know what it is exactly but I'm real real jealous, but since when is getting busy with your spouse in your own bed a crime? (Actually, the chowderhead with the t-shirt was jailed for contempt of court, which isn't the same thing.)
Division I-AA Prairie View A&M has the dubious distinction of having one of the longest losing streaks in NCAA football history: 80 games from 1989 to 1998. They finally got the monkey off their back--although by that point, the monkey was probably a gorilla--by beating Langston (just a guy named Langston, not the whole team) in 1998. Now we find out it was all tainted: the NCAA placed PVA&M on one year's probation for bad timing. The probation includes no TV or postseason appearances, but no loss of scholarships.
I can't decide whether this constitutes regulatory overkill (kicking a team when it's down) or the most incompetent coaching staff ever (they cheated and still couldn't win more than one game). On the other hand, this isn't the first time the school's run afoul of the powers that be (maybe they ought to suit up the band--at least they have some fight!).
2001.03.31 This Just In... B'rer Rabbit Thrown Into Briar Patch
I've found my next nominee for certifiedstupid.com: Carroll County (NH) Superior Court Judge James O'Neill sentenced cracker Coolio (and there's two words I never thought I'd use together) to program the jail's computers as part of his sentence. I can see the headlines now: "Child Molester Gets Work-Release As School Janitor In Wacky Computer Mixup", or maybe "Manson Sentence Commuted To Time Served". Here's another story on the incident.
Aaron Anderer's Mountain Dew Tribute Page is but one of many dedicated to the drink I gave up for Lent (and anyone who knows me realizes how hard that is--far harder, for instance, than giving up beer, which I did last year). What makes it for me is the hypnotic background image. It's much better than Cats. I'm going to go back again and again and again...
One of the things I like best about web surfing is its serendipity. For instance, while I was searching for an answer to an entirely different question, I stumbled across the story behind one of the most popular urban legends: the rocket car. At least, it's plausible that it's the real story. Read it and make up your own mind.
2001.03.28 New from Nike--The Air Sprain!
A report in the British Journal of Sports Medicine suggests that air-filled basketball shoes may cause, rather than prevent, ankle injuries. Continuing on, however, the intrepid reader learns that the primary factor associated with ankle injuries is... previous ankle injuries! The Journal is expected to publish a report next month suggesting that the rich get richer.
On the Listening List: I just wrapped up Demolition Angel by Robert Crais (Amazon: paperback
tape), about an LAPD detective and former bomb technician (and the reason for being a
former bomb tech is a bomb that killed her partner and lover and injured her gravely) drawn into a bomb investigation that is far more than it initially seems. I'm not a big fan of the cop genre in general, but I really enjoyed this BoT. Patricia Kalember's narration is very good, except that she manages to make all the male characters except the villain sound like pansies.
The Three Mile Island melt (not meltdown--the Government says so!) occurred 22 years ago today. That this anniversary passed largely unnoticed was due primarily to a somewhat larger oops that happened in 1986.
2001.03.26 OK, We Opened The Borders And Made Ashtrays Out Of All The Lenin Statues; Now What?
Simon Bone has a very nice site detailing "places in transition from authoritarian rule to, uh, something else." The opening quote about North Korea is funny in a pathetisad way. Of particular interest to me is the page describing his time in Moscow. And to think I was trying to angle my way onto a program that would have meant I'd spend some time there. Be careful what you wish for, eh?
Holy Maple Leaf, Batman, eh? You're being knocked off north of the border!