Minutiae

Crikes, I’ve got this mosquito bite on my neck like an inch from my jugular. You know that mosquito will be telling his friends about that bite, ad nauseum, for the rest of his life.

Probably a week tops, unless he tries that stunt again, in which case I’ll spill my own blood if needed to truncate his existence.

Four Drug Minimum

Lawsuit calls execution method cruel:

    Even as the state prepares to execute Timothy Johnston next week for killing his wife, a lawsuit questioning the method of execution remains unresolved.

    The suit on behalf of Johnston, 44, claims Missouri’s three-drug method of lethal injection violates his constitutional right against cruel and unusual punishment. It was filed more than a year ago in U.S. District Court in St. Louis, and the court denied the state’s motion to dismiss it as frivolous.

Being a logician who understands Boolean logic, if everyone gets the three-drug execution, it’s not cruel and unusual.

One wonders what number of injections it takes to be humane.

No Original Ideas Left for Movie Lawsuits, Either

Court reinstates Terminator lawsuit:

    An appeals court has ruled that an Australian couple can sue director James Cameron over an effect used in the film “Terminator 2: Judgment Day.”

    Filia and Constantinos Kourtis claim that they came up with the idea for a character that changes shape for a 1987 movie called “The Minotaur.”

Meanwhile, ancient tribes from the British Isles have consulted their lawyers for the Kourtises’ theft of the concept of the changeling, shapeshifting “monsters” who stole children (like the young John Connor–see?!) and ancient Greeks have filed preperatory paperwork on the title, which refers to a monster first slain by Theseus, whose story was told by entertainers in Athens before even James Cameron was born.

Dancing on the End of a Pin

This distinction seems rather superfluous:


    Al-Banna has been accused of carrying out one of Iraq’s deadliest suicide bombing — the February 28 attack in Hillah that killed 125 people.

    But the Jordanian government and al-Banna’s family said he carried out a different suicide bombing in Iraq in which he was killed. The terrorist group al Qaeda in Iraq claimed responsibility for the Hillah bombing.

I mean, does this affect some sort of over/under betting or what?

The Smell of Unelected Legislatures In the Morning

Someone loves them, and no surprise, it’s the unelected legislatures themselves:


    Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont came together in 2003 to form a coalition, known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, in order to explore a market-driven cap-and-trade system for carbon dioxide emissions in the absence of mandatory emissions reductions at the national level.

    Phil Cherry, policy director at Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources said the proposal, as it is currently written, caps emissions of carbon dioxide at 150 million tons a year starting in 2009. Under the proposed guidelines, emission reductions would be required starting in 2015, which would ramp up to a 10 percent cut in 2020.

    “The proposal is a draft and some of the details have yet to be worked out,” Cherry told Reuters. He said that the document will be sent to power producers who will have a chance to comment on it formally at a meeting on September 21.

    Once a final agreement is reached, legislatures or regulators in the nine states will have to approve it.

Not a state legislature and not Congress, but a “regional initiative” appoints itself to make laws for the states under its jurisdiction. I fail to see how this could pass an Interstate Commerce Clause challenge, but then again, it regulates interstate commerce and not individual states’ internal legislation.

Well, what else can the rulers do when the unwashed, power-loving masses elect people of the wrong mindset?

Good Governance 2005

Samples of good governance and bureacracy, August 2005:

  • Country Club Hills Mayor is charged with theft and forgery:

      In a plea deal between Hood and defense attorney Clinton Wright,
      [Country Club Hills Mayor Felton E.] Flagg must come up with restitution at his sentencing or face at least three years in prison. If he pays back the money he stole, Flagg can expect five years of probation, and either 90 days in jail or 120 days on an electronic monitor.

      Afterwards, Flagg said he intended to remain as mayor of Country Club Hills where he was re-elected in April to a two-year term. He referred all other questions to Wright, who said Flagg planned to pay back the money he took. Flagg has been mayor of the city adjacent to Norwood Hills Country Club since 1997.

  • Two convicted in vote-buying scheme in East St. Louis rehired:

      Two people recently convicted in a vote-buying scheme in East St. Louis have been rehired by the city.

      Sheila Thomas and Jesse Lewis were back at their jobs in the department of regulatory affairs yesterday. Thomas is a clerk and Lewis a housing inspector.

      Both were fired after their June convictions and they’re due to be sentenced in October.

Unwarranted Snark

The blood is running in the streets of Milwaukee: 4-homicide weekend pushes city to grim point:

    Like a runaway freight train, this year’s homicide total in Milwaukee equaled the 88 recorded for all of last year as of early Sunday and gave no signs that religious, civic and governmental efforts to make this a safe summer were slowing the deadly increase.

Snark as follows:

  • Good thing Governor Doyle vetoed concealed carry in Wisconsin, ensuring the safety of its citizens from homicidal predators.
  • Sure, it’s another record, but what’s the count when adjusted to constant 1980 homicides?

Getcher Urban Legends Here

Panera Bread, parent company of the St. Louis Bread Company and the name by which it conducts business elsewhere, was formed by an Egyptian cult, the Pane of Ra movement. This group believes that the consumption of bread prepares one for the afterlife, and that if one has bagels with hummus or some other concoction of cibatta and cream cheese, one can survive the journey.

Tasers Hurt Cops, Too

Police chief sues maker of Taser gun:


    A police chief in Boone County has filed suit against Taser International and two police equipment supply companies, saying he was severely injured when shocked with a Taser weapon during training.

    The suit by Jacob “Pete” Herring joins more than 30 others from around the country that claim Tasers caused or contributed to injuries or deaths. More than 7,000 law enforcement agencies worldwide use the devices as a nonlethal alternative to firearms, according to company numbers.

    The suit by Herring, chief of police in Hallsville, Mo., says he suffered at least two strokes, loss and impairment of his vision and hearing, neurological damage, a head injury and “significant cardiac damage” after being shocked by a Taser M26 during a class on April 20, 2004. He seeks unspecified financial damages.

Nonlethal, perhaps. But they’re overused in the field, resulting in a number of deaths that could be avoided.

And shocking each other in training, what the heck? Do cops hit each other with batons just so they know how it feels?

What Would Leslie Fish Say?

Angelina Jolie Grabs Monster-Mom Role, Teams with De Niro:

    Finally, an Angelina Jolie movie her kids can watch. Jolie has signed on to star in a big-screen adaptation of the epic English poem “Beowulf” to be directed by Robert Zemeckis (“Forrest Gump”).

    The film, like Zemeckis’ previous movie, “The Polar Express,” will use performance-capture technology to transform live acting into computer animation, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The story of the Scandinavian hero of the sixth century who slays a beast will star Ray Winstone (“Sexy Beast”) as Beowulf, who saves the Danes from Grendel the monster, portrayed by the always creepy Crispin Glover (“Willard,” “Charlie’s Angels”).

    Jolie, who played Colin Farrell’s youngish mother in “Alexander,” will again portray a maternal character in the film, taking on the role of Grendel’s mom.

Fortunately, with Zemeckis at the head, it’s unlikely that Grendel will be an allegory for the imperialistic American hegemon and Angelina Jolie will channel Cindy Sheehan, but one never can tell with Hollywood….

Government Officials and Their Toys

Schools spend big on recreation centers:

    Bob Lyons remembers – not fondly – the old gym at the University of Missouri at Columbia: It was cramped, had the odor of smelly socks and could get so hot in summer that “you just wanted to die,” said Lyons, a recent graduate.

    Contrast that with the new $50 million, jungle-themed recreation center that is nearly twice the size and virtually finished.

    “It’s just awe-inspiring,” said Lyons, who helps oversee the center’s 42-foot climbing tower.

    Eleven large plasma screens line the wall of the “jungle gym.” The gym features about 100 pieces of cardio equipment, some of which have individual DVD players.

    In the “tiger grotto,” there is a swirling vortex, lazy river with waterfall, whirlpool and dry sauna. Towering above it all is a jumbo, Vegas-style display board that blasts music videos on “ZouTv,” an internal station that plays music selections based on weekly Internet polls.

I would dare Mizzou to find a single freaking student that chose the University of Missouri of Columbia over another college because of its swank recreational facilities, but someone at Mizzou could probably trot out some stooge as though a single student or small cadre would justify spending fifty million dollars on such an endeavor.

It’s one thing if an alumnus donates a pile of cash for the privilige of diverting students from their studies, but students, and that’s all students, not just the “health-conscious” students who want “a gathering place to see and be seen,” will have to cough up $150 a year to subsidize a meat market for college students who don’t suffer from a dearth of gathering places to find the next one night stand or starter marriage.

No, friends, this is what happens when our localish government agencies become high school cliques, and when expenditures are driven by the all-the-cool-people-have-them mentality. Suddenly, we’re shelling out money for bike trails, rec plexes, and whatnot because all the other schools/counties/municipalities/states have them.

Not because they’re necessary government services, but because they’re cool.

I wish our leaders would grow up.

Esoterica

Two thoughts that struck me as amusing, but I’ll probably be the only one:

  • Upon seeing the vanity license plate MO4 LL:

    We sure thought that “Alice” would make a credible candidate for president….

  • Somehow, I think even Peter Scaffer fans think me crazy when I go to the ballpark and cheer for the Cardinals’ lead off hitter by chanting:

    Eck….Eck…..Eck….Eckstein.

Because these things bounce around my disparate thoughts during the course of the day. Instead of a billion dollar idea, I get these.

Perhaps the Goals Are Misunderstood

Work-zone safety blitz still limited: Drivers say that new laws haven’t reduced number of violations:

    Motorists complain that speeding, tailgating and aggressive driving are still all the rage in Illinois construction zones, despite tough laws the state passed last year to reduce violations.

    A camera-enforcement program to deploy Illinois State Police troopers in vans was supposed to have started this month, but officials are still finalizing contracts with equipment suppliers, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation. The program may begin in September, officials said.

    The plan for the pilot project involves taking photographs from inside just two roving vans to capture the faces and license plates of drivers, along with the speed of their vehicles, in work areas on hundreds of miles of Chicago-area expressways and on the Illinois Tollway system. Tickets carrying minimum fines of $375 will be mailed to vehicle owners.

An impersonal ticket arriving in infractors’ mail boxes a week in the future will not make the drivers slow down or behave. Nor will signs indicating that this might happen. Troopers pulling over drivers would make them slow down for a couple days and would make other drivers who see the troopers slow down.

Hidden cameras capturing drivers’ infractions but distancing the infraction from the sanction? Give me a break.

This is a revenue-enhancement program, not a safety program. And this is the reason why I’m going to fly to Milwaukee or travel through scenic Iowa on my way home in the future. Because I fear speeding through more than one of the Illinois “Construction Zones” (that is, the barrel storage technique that intersperses a couple barrels miles apart between construction zone signs) at a time and coming home to a mailbox full of budget-gap-closers from Rod Blagojevich.

Oppressive Bush Regime Dissident Round-Up Misses Virulent Bush Opponent

An author insults one of his readers:


    [Mark] Kurlansky said he was surprised to hear that Bush had taken his book to the ranch: “My first reaction was, ‘Oh, he reads books?’ “

    The author said he was a “virulent Bush opponent” who had given speeches denouncing the war in Iraq.

    “What I find fascinating, and it’s probably a positive thing about the White House, is they don’t seem to do any research about the writers when they pick the books,” Kurlansky said.

But now that you’re on record, sir; prepare for the firing squad.

What a humpwit. Not only has he insulted the president based on common, cliché groupthink from the virulent Bush opponents, but he’s risked angering whatever readers and potential book buyers exist in the majority that elected Bush.

A pretty poor marketing decision, but perhaps he’s just standing for his principles, which would seem to include not much beyond mauvais mots.

(Link seen on Ann Althouse.)

Thanks For Checking In

Bobby McFerrin stops in to tell us he’s going on vacation:

    For years he’s been telling people, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” Now Bobby McFerrin has decided it’s time to take his own advice.

    “I’ve got one week left, and then I’m done for a year,” a weary McFerrin told The Associated Press during a weekend visit to UCLA, where he was accepting an award from the Henry Mancini Institute for his contributions to music.

    “I haven’t had a sabbatical, I haven’t taken a year off from touring in 15 years at least,” said McFerrin, whose bright and bouncy ditty, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” seemed to put his name on everybody’s lips in 1988 when it won Grammys for song of the year and record of the year.

Some of us might be forgiven in thinking that McFerrin’s been on vacation for about 17 years, give or take.

Wal-Mart Hands Its Critics a Spiked Club, Asks, "Please?"

Insurer wants woman’s crash settlement:


    Debbie Shank stocked shelves at a Wal-Mart store in Cape Girardeau, Mo., until five years ago, when her minivan was hit by a tractor-trailer. Her Wal-Mart health insurance paid the medical bills. Proceeds from a lawsuit helped finance her care in a nursing home.

    Brain damage forces her to use a wheelchair and limits her upper body movement to one arm and two fingers. It stole her memory and her ability to talk to her husband and three sons.

    “She’ll ask about the boys, she’ll ask about the cat,” said her husband, Jim Shank. “Whenever I’m there, she thinks it must be a mealtime. We don’t really hold a conversation.”

    Now the Shanks face a new obstacle. Her Wal-Mart health insurance plan wants the lawsuit money to repay its costs.

Unfortunately, some insurance company functionaries lack the imagination for how the general public will perceive a lawsuit against a disabled woman, and how anti-Wal-Mart fanatics will use the incident against Wal-Mart. If those opponents could have their way, they’d make sure that Wal-Mart lived down to their rhetoric and did not provide insurance for its employees (the fact that Wal-Mart medical insurance exists and paid out half a million dollars for this catastrophe, but that Wal-Mart is evil because it doesn’t provide insurance for its employees–the paradox in their rhetoric will never surface).

The paper throws in an obligatory response from a spokesperson:

    A Wal-Mart spokesman said the health plan has made no decision on whether to pursue this case; the suit puts a legal foot in the door before the deadline to file it passes. “This is kind of a standard procedure, and it just preserves our options,” Marty Hires said.

The SOPs of the byzantine and, let’s face it, often-suspect insurance and legal industry don’t improve the image of insurance, lawyers, or their clients. I’m sure someone with Wal-Mart could have come up with a better response, but who knows if the papers would publish them, because the current storyline casts Wal-Mart as the villain.

Now that the broken story’s broken, any doing-of-the-right-thing by Wal-Mart–such as not actually pursuing the suit or apologizing, will be reported as cynical damage control. If the papers follow up at all.

Yeah, I’m so cynical, I sometimes don’t even trust my own blog.