Month: June 2006

Justice Denied

The Washington Post is fast becoming a favorite newspaper of mine.

While my hometown rag is doing a profile on Nathaniel Greene, a series I’ve enjoyed, this series titled “Being a Black Man” that is currently running in the Post. The first story I’ve read titled “The Wrong Man” is about Elias Fishburne, a man who was chewed up and spit out by the justice system. Except he wasn’t the right man. My anger is seething.

This resonates with me for a few reasons. First is that I have experience in the law enforcement field, in the prosecutorial side to be specific. Second is that the love of my life is a black man and I would be using my knowledge of the criminal system with a vengeance were something similar to happen to him. Oh I’d use every connection, every trick. But here’s the thing, in RI there are what’s called Live Scan machines in the courts, police departments, etc. The first thing that happens when you’re arrested is your prints are run through that system.

The prints go through the Interstate Identification Index and if prior contact with law enforcement has been had by the subject, an email containing identity and other info is returned to the originating agency. I know this system well, I set it up.

But RI also has this little problem with black men being several times more likely to be stopped and searched, even though more contraband is found in the vehicles of white drives than those of black or Latino drivers. It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

Anyhow, getting back to the story. I find police malfeasance and negligence to be the height of what I consider disgusting. Are cops so dumb that if their NCIC terminal is down, they can’t call another PD and ask them to run it? I’m almost of the mind to setup a fund for him to file suit against all six law enforcement entities that Fishburne had contact with, because they all deserve to be ripped a new one over their assumptions.

A Speed Limit Experiment

This video is amazing. The behavior of motorists is brazen. Who passed on the shoulder, who clipped a car, etc. And it’s all on video.

My only hope is that they turned the video over to law enforcement. After all, they were perfectly within the law driving 55MPH which was the designated speed limit. The video did show one thing though, at 55MPH everyone could merge in or out of traffic with relative ease.

Not that I support 55MPH as a default speed. For example, in RI the only places where it’s 65MPH is I-95 in the southern half of the state. Not that you could do much more then 55MPH through the metro area, but still. I-295 is 65MPH too so I guess I can’t bitch too much. But I remember when the speed limit on I-95 through RI was 70MPH. THe only reason we went to the double nickle was to supposedly save gas. But with these boats on the road that we call SUV’s getting a whopping 10 miles to the gallon, does it really make a damned difference?

Kerry to give Energy Challenge Speech

Apparently Truthout was given an advance copy of the speech that Senator John Kerry is to deliver at Faneuil Hall in Boston, MA.

I do hope the Senator is serious about this. Because we need to break the cycle of energy dependence.

More interestingly this is a common theme lately. I just finished reading Friedman’s “The World is Flat”. I know lots of people disagree with him but there are a few points he makes that seem valid:

1) Globalization is going to happen, it’s mostly an unstoppable process short of absolute warfare.

2) Countries the are part of a particular supply chain generally don’t fight wars against each other. Which is why the China/Taiwan thing hasn’t exploded into all out warfare. Each has companies that are large parts of Dell’s supply chain. To disrupt that via warfare would damage credibility and move that supply chain, and the money that flows with it, elsewhere. This dovetails nicely with Kerry’s speech about how achieving energy independence would go a long way towards decreasing terrorism. The book seems to agree.

3) He talks about the rising middle class in China and India, and the associated demand for luxury goods like cars, etc. And the increased fuel consumption and emissions. But this is where it gets interesting. He says that if the United States wants China to reduce it’s dependency on foreign oil, we must be the leader in new technologies that reduce our overall dependence on oil and emission of pollutants.

I almost wonder if the speech writer read the Friedman book. Because it seems to echo many of the points in the book.

A worthwhile read by the way, even if you don’t like the man writing it.

Army Awards for Top 10 Inventions of 2005

First read the list. Mostly military only stuff which is fine. But I take issue with number 9.

A dual band antenna? Hello, we radio amateurs have used them for quite some time. There are even tri and higher band antennas out there. The key is a little thing called a trap. Apparently the military has never heard of that little device. Note the plot at the bottom of the linked page – I think a more accurate term is a notch device. But it’s used to basically partition a segment of a dipole type of antenna.

Sorry if this was a little technical. You can take a ham out of the hobby, but you can’t take the hobby out of the ham.

Unpeeling the layers of the Abramoff Scandal

Recently the Washington Post posted an article about how Jack Abramoff used non-profit entities to funnel money to Republicans.

What is more interesting is who one of his co-conspirators happens to be. It’s none other than Grover Norquist. I’ve posted in various places that Norquist is the author of the following quote:

“My goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.”

Granted – I can undestand his big government gripe from the perspective that big government without serious oversight is a very bad thing. But the fact that he is oh so linked with the Bush administration should scare everyone.

But with any luck we’ll see Abramoff and Norquist doing a perp walk soon. Shall we try to enumerate the charges? Election fraud, money laundering, outright fraud, violation of a whole bunch of IRS statutes. I’m sure there are lots of others because I don’t know the specifics of the case. With any luck we’ll get some energetic prosecutor a la Fitzgerald that will root ALL of it out. We need a prosecutor who is also a forensic accountant. That would be a good start.

If you’d like to read some more of Norquists quotes, first I advise you to sit down and maybe have a drink or two. Otherwise you might put your fist through your monitor, or throw your laptop out a window.

For example: “We are trying to change the tones in the state capitals – and turn them toward bitter nastiness and partisanship.”

Ok, now click here and read the rest.

As something of an antacid, may I suggest reading these quotes by Franklin D. Roosevelt, or maybe even some by Bill Clinton

My how styles have changed

First, get a load of the outfits in this Nancy Sinatra video of “These Boots Were Made For Walkin'”

Recently I was part of the ‘focus group’ regarding office dress code. People should know better than to ever put me in a group like that because first, I’ll note the ridiculousness of said policy, and second becuase I’ll look around the room and point out who is in violation of the dress code.

On the acceptable list was the usual, shirt, pants, ties, skirts, dresses. But the disclaimer for skirts and dresses was no more than 2″ above the knee. I wonder, kilts come above the knee don’t they. Hmmmmm… and of course I’d have to wear one in the traditional manner. Could make for entertaining times.

Anyway at the meeting one of the unacceptable items was tank tops. I’m sitting next to the Director of Administration when this little gem is discussed when I look at her and sotto vocce say “You’re wearing a tank top.”. Of course the next thirty seconds or so was occupied by the admin director saying she’d be held to the same standard, etc.

Then came the discussion of unacceptable. Now let me make this clear, I wear sneakers to work. Why? Because in the average day I walk anywhere from 3 to 5 miles. I am not going to destroy a $100+ pair of dress shoes when a pair of sneakers can be had for around $30 or so. So because of me, a little loophole was built into the unacceptable category – with supervisor approval.

When the memo was released I waved my copy in front of my boss and told him that I assumed I had his tacit approval on the sneaks.

Why suddenly there’s the massive push towards a dress code is completely beyond me. Particularly since the acceptable and unacceptable parts are spelled out, while penalties are not. But then after two years at the job I should learn to expect that kind of inconsistency.

I can guarantee I’ll never be asked to be part of a focus group again, that’s for damned sure.

Granny Brigade to march on Washington

I can’t wait for them to get there. This thrills me. Why? Because through my own empirical knowledge I’ve found that older people are more politically active. Why the hell not – they have the time for it.

Yesterday I was out doing a little canvassing for a political candidate. The folks that were interested were all 40+ like me, lived in well kept homes, and were genuinely concered about the political goings on. But then the area we canvassed is known for being comprised of educated professionals of very liberal political leanings.

What was rather dismaying was all the young people I visited couldn’t care less. They just don’t realize the impact that politics has on their life.

So when are the rest of us going to wake up and smell the coffee to use a tired old cliche.

The Anti-Semites show their colors

Wow – even in the U.S. there’s still a lot of anti-semitism. Of course the guys talking to ‘Borat’ didn’t realize they were talking to one Sasha Cohen, aka Ali G.

I love Sasha for this. He keeps a straight face the whole time. That’s his specialty, wigging out those who think they’re so righteous, famous or above it all.

Bruce Springsteen being questioned about his anti-Bush stance

Oh this is rich. Springsteen is having a good time with it, but here’s my take on it.

Just because you’re a musician doesn’t mean you can’t be a citizen too. So what that you have a little bigger platform to shout from. I applaud Springsteen, the Dixie Chicks and all the other artists who’ve come out and called this adminstration on its misguided policies and the outright frauds perpetrated on the American people.