Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Disappointing Headline Of The Day

According to today's NYTimes, British Voters May Hang Parliament. Ah, if only they really would....

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Parrrrdon Moi

Blatantly stolen from Blue Gal:
There be no better way t'celebrate International Talk Like a Pirate Day than to link to and visit the blogger who keeps her brave ship sailing the high blogosphere seas through storms of Bushwacker idiocy 365/24/7!

T'day be talk like a pirate day? Nay, not only that, bloggers of the high seas. T'day be Link to Cap'n Dyke Day! Or ye walk the plank.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Horse Puckey At The High Court

The U.S. Supreme Court by a bare 5 to 4 majority has ruled that you can't steal, at least not from someone else who's rich, under some vague circumstances, if the crime is so gross you get caught at it. As usual (see Watergate, et al.), the attempted cover-up was worse than the original crime. It's all about coal mining in West Virginia, and no, it doesn't provide justice to the oppressed peasantry whose valleys were hauled away by Mr. Peabody's coal trains per the song. It's just a fight between two companies, but 'tis a famous victory. The AssPress doesn't want us linking to them (which causes me to celebrate the election success of the Pirate Party in Sweden), but here's the key paragraph:
The West Virginia case involved more than $3 million spent by the chief executive of Massey Energy Co. to help elect state Supreme Court Justice Brent Benjamin. At the same time, Massey was appealing a verdict, which now totals $82.7 million with interest, in a dispute with a local coal company. Benjamin refused to step aside from the case, despite repeated requests, and was part of a 3-2 decision to overturn the verdict.
Their actual decision doesn't get into who was right in the original dispute. It only says personally financing (with three million bucks in the rock-poor tiny state of West Virginia) a statewide judicial candidate hand-picked to rule your way in an appeal calls too much attention to the real masters of the courts and should not be allowed. That might expose the myth and cause revolt in addition to revulsion. Those are not the words they used, of course, but like most of their money decisions, if you grasp the hidden premise the syllogism is clear.

What was the orignial case really about? Enjoy this dissent from that West Virginia decision, in language so blunt that I've never read anything like it before in any state Supreme Court ruling:
The majority's opinion is morally and legally wrong.

The majority opinion is morally wrong because it steals more than $60 million dollars from a man who was the victim of a deliberate, illegal scheme to destroy his business. The majority opinion is legally wrong because it uses erroneous legal reasoning to justify an immoral result.

Make no mistake -- a West Virginia jury heard from all the witnesses for both sides, and decided that Mr. Don Blankenship directed an illegal scheme to break Mr. Hugh Caperton's business. No one says that the jury was wrongly instructed. No one says they didn't hear all the evidence. In fact, the majority opinion concedes, “the facts of this case demonstrate that Massey's conduct warranted the type of judgment rendered in this case.” Yes, that's right, the majority of the members of this Court says that the Boone County jury's verdict was fully justified! Therefore, in this aspect of the case, our Court's opinion is unanimous.

Let's not forget why the jury's verdict was justified: the jurors looked Mr. Blankenship in the eye and concluded that he was lying, and that Mr. Caperton was telling the truth.

The majority opinion says: “That doesn't matter” -- it all should have been handled in Virginia. To which argument, one must respond: “Horse puckey!”

The Virginia case was about a single narrow contract issue. There was nothing in the Virginia case about Mr. Blankenship's grand scheme to crush Mr. Caperton and his business. According to the jury's findings, that scheme was hatched in West Virginia and carried out in West Virginia. Mr. Caperton had every right to try his case in West Virginia -- and he did, and he won.

Now three members of this Court have ruled that even though it is a fact that Don Blankenship illegally took over $60 million dollars from Hugh Caperton -- he can get away with it scot-free. Talk about crime in the suites!
Mind you, the U.S. Supreme Court didn't say that this dissent was right, or that Blankenship was really a thief. If the West Virginia judges had reached the same decision, but all been free of the mark of such grossly obvious contributions from someone trying to buy their ruling, that would have been fine. If this goes back to West Virginia and untainted judges make the same unjust decision as the bought-and-paid-for ones did, SCOTUS won't even blink. Moral: be subtle and covert when you buy "justice" in America.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Jungian Slip 1459

Skimming a quote from an article on Cioran at wood s lot, haste mistook an "e" as "ata", thus: "Masking ourselves in our dreams we database our desires...." Perhaps the brain recalling that obsessive list-making was considered a possible sign of schizophrenia, mayhap the most appropriate response to that article's subject. Or maybe just a garbled mental transmission from Professor Hehindeed, busily downloading himself.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Reading: The Night Of The Generals

This 1962 novel by Hans Helmut Kirst was recommended to me as a good mystery. Not really, but it is a good read. I never saw the movie, but I can see it could be made into a good one. A German General in World War II brutally kills a prostitute; two years later he kills another in Paris; in the mid-1950s he kills another in Germany. We never really get to understand why he does this -- imagine what Dostoevsky could have done with that character. It winds up with a kind of "Hollywood cop-out" ending, after first a German, then a French policeman obsess with finding him and seeing him punished. Enjoyable tale, with a lot of scathing portraits of German military bureaucrats for fun along the way.

Reading: Escape From Hell

This is Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle's sequel to Inferno. I seldom read SF any more (I stuffed myself with it in my youth), and almost never touch fantasy, but having read the original I was curious what they would do with this. Color me unimpressed, but I am not the target market here.

Following Dante's example, they use this as a chance to imagine people they don't like suffering, which must be the most "fun" part of writing this sort of thing. [Imagine who you would show in your own version -- Cheney being waterboarded could be just the beginning.] Sadly, they use this authorial power here for cheap shots against their own pet peeves, such as opponents of DDT. If they can't win the political argument in public, okay, they'll just put straw men in hell. How Paulistic of them.

The story is even more jumbled psychologically and theologically than was their first book on this, but it reads quickly and easily. A passable time-killer, but it ain't no Mote.

Reading: Seventeen Years And 2,132 Books

Way back in 1992 I started listing books I'd read in a blank-paper book. More recently I've also put the list in a computer database. As of today the total is 2,132. Some of those were graphic novels or collections of comics, some were art books, some were trivial humor or very light mysteries, some were sports, but there was also a lot of worthwhile stuff there. I'm going to start listing some of them here (and new ones as they are read and added to the list), with a comment or two if the spirit moves me.

If nothing else, it will help me remember what I've read: looking back I can already see several titles which I have no doubt that I did read, but frankly don't recall. The first four books listed were Michael Seidel's Streak: Joe Dimaggio And The Summer of '41, Susan Jacoby's Wild Justice: The Evolution Of Revenge, Robert K. Logan's The Alphabet Effect: The Impact Of The Phonetic Alphabet on The Developoment Of Western Civilization, and Colin Renfrew's Archaelogy And Language: The Puzzle Of Indo-European Origins.

Seventeen years ago I read all of these. If I picked them up again today (those were all library books - who can afford to buy this many titles nowadays?), I'm sure I'd nod in memory at the content. But now I just draw a blank. Maybe they just weren't all that memorable, because there are certainly many others I've read in these two decades that I recall very well, and would even without this list.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Follow The Money

Never mind all the public outcry over rehabilitating reactionary holocaust deniers; none of that made the Pope reconsider. What finally did?
The statement was issued by the Vatican's Secretariat of State a day after German Chacellor Angela Merkel urged the pope to make a clearer rejection of Holocaust denials, saying there hadn't been adequate clarification from the Vatican.
It just so happens that one of if not the main sources of revenue for the Church has been money from the German government, from people checking off "Catholic" so that the state gives some of their taxes to Rome. There may be more Lutherans in the country, but there are still a lot of folks who haven't followed the example of Petra Kelly and formally repudiated their affiliation with the Catholic Church.

One can easily imagine a campaign to deny such tax money to any church which doesn't repudiate and condemn the slaughter of Jews by the Nazis, and excommunicate anyone who denies that happened. The government there already restricts freedom of speech to deny the crime: cutting off the cash would be only a tiny step more. And so the ex-Hitler Youth member caves. But this is not new: they yielded to the temptation to earthly power and wealth at least seventeen centuries ago.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Not The Missionary Position

The Quaker Agitator asked us to post our own Alternative Invocation for the Obamanaugural instead of the words of the dishonest misogynistic homophobic hatemonger who'll be giving the "official" one. Instead I choose to defer to the words of the casus belli now being used to split sheep and goats among those with a minor quibble over Papal infallibility, openly gay Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson. You can view a video and read the text of his remarks, made at the trivial consolation pulpit afforded him (albeit intentionally -- by the Obama campaign -- denied television coverage on HBO of his remarks only) at Sunday's Lincoln Memorial event at this site. Well said, within the context you evolved from, Bishop.