Sunday, December 30, 2007

LA Gang F13 Accused of Targeting Blacks

I saw this news item and it struck me as something unusual, or at least something I'm not familiar with.

LOS ANGELES (AP) - In a murderous quest aimed at "cleansing" their turf of snitches and rival gangsters, members of one of Los Angeles County's most vicious Latino gangs sometimes killed people just because of their race, an investigation found.

There were even instances in which Florencia 13 leaders ordered killings of black gangsters and then, when the intended victim couldn't be located, said "Well, shoot any black you see," Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca said.

"In certain cases some murders were just purely motivated on killing a black person," Baca said.

Authorities say there were 20 murders among more than 80 shootings documented during the gang's rampage in the hardscrabble Florence-Firestone neighborhood, exceptional even in an area where gang violence has been commonplace for decades. They don't specify the time frame or how many of the killings were racial.

When I think of racially motivated killings, I don't think of Hispanic gangs targeting Blacks. Perhaps that's just me, but this strikes me as unusual.

I also have a hard time thinking someone fiddled the numbers to show a trend that isn't there. First off, to what benefit? Second, since this seems counterintuitive; there's easier ways to slip in manipulated data than with counterintuitive data.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Penguin Gets Promotion

I saw this, and thought it was a joke. Turns out, not so much.

A Penguin has been promoted to Colonel in Chief of the Royal Norwegian Guard

Nils Olav received a promotion on Wednesday to Colonel in Chief of the Royal Norwegian Guard. Yes, this high rank in the Norwegian military has in fact been bestowed on a penguin.

In 1962 young lieutenant in the Royal Norwegian Guard Niels Egelien visited Edinburgh Zoo and was quite taken with the penguins. On a return visit in 1972, he arranged for his regiment to sponsor a king penguin which they adopted and awarded the rank of Lance Corporal. The name was chosen on behalf of the lieutenant who first got excited about the penguins and the then king of Norway, King Olav. Since then, every time the soldiers have come to visit, Nils Olav has received a promotion.

More here.

So far, I don't know of a reaction from the Penguin Liberation Front, who have some of the coolest logos ever.

Happy Caturday

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Sear and Hammer

Just came across the Sear and Hammer Blog.

Obviously I like them, since their motto is "Self Defense is a Civil Right". Mostly, it seems to have some great graphics:

There are also articles on gun and self defense topics. Worth a look.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Yet another reason CCW permits make sense

SoCal woman mauled to death by pit bulls

BARSTOW, Calif. (AP) — A packed of pit bulls surrounded a woman and mauled her to death, authorities said Wednesday.

Police found Kelly Caldwell, 45, lying in the street around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, and was taken to a hospital, where she later died, the San Bernardino County sheriff's department said.

After the mauling, the dogs ran to a nearby house. Deputies shot one dog to death when it returned to the scene and acted aggressively as paramedics were trying to save Caldwell's life, authorities said.

A second dog was shot to death Wednesday morning when it too returned. Deputies said it became aggressive as an animal control officer was trying to capture it.

Authorities said at least one dog belonged to a neighbor. No arrests were immediately made.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Yep, it's Christmas

Santa arrested for DUI

The driver -- 6-foot-4 and 280 pounds -- was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving, in this case a misdemeanor, police said. In addition to a red Santa hat, he wore a blond wig, red lace camisole, purple G-string, black leg warmers and black shoes.

"We are pretty sure this is not the Santa Claus," Deputy Chief Ken Garner said.

Police identified the man as Rick Carroll, 53, of Long Beach. Officers administered a Breathalyzer test at the scene, and Carroll's blood-alcohol level measured just above the legal limit of .08%, Garner said.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Happy Caturday

... The Christmas edition.. hope everyone who read this has a good one!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Everyday Normal Guy

John turned me on to this... funny in a slacker kinda way.

Shotgun ammo effectiveness

I was digging through my hard drive for something else, and came across this. It's a bit of testing I did with my shotgun when I was trying to find out which loads worked best.
width height Area (square inches) Hits Percent hit
Winchester Super-X 17.5 20 350 8 89%
13 18 234 6 67%
15.25 20 305 8 89%
18.5 21.5 397.75 8 89%
18 19.25 346.5 8 89%
Total Average 326.65 84%
Remington LE RR 10.25 13 133.25 8 100%
9.25 11.75 108.6875 6 75%
13.25 12.5 165.625 8 100%
14 8.5 119 7 88%
12.75 12 153 8 100%
Total Average 135.9125 93%
Hornady TAP 15 13.5 202.5 8 100%
5.75 4.5 25.875 8 100%
13 8.5 110.5 8 100%
12 12 144 7 88%
8 4.5 36 8 100%
Total Average 103.775 98%

Some explanation is required. I was testing at an indoor range, so environmental factors should be limited. All targets were at 25 meters.

Height and width were calculated by measuring the furthest pellets hits on paper. Area is a simple multiplication of height and width; not exact of course, but close enough to compare different rounds. Percentage of hits on target are those pellets which hit a human silhouette.

In all cases, the same shotgun was used. It has an 18 inch barrel with an improved cylinder ( i.e. open ) choke.

As you can see, the reduced recoil loads ( the Remington and the Hornady TAP ) have significantly tighter patterns than the regular 00 buckshot, even without a more restrictive choke. That's a feature I like, since in anything other than an open choke you risk damaging your barrel if you shoot deer slugs.

Also, my shoulder appreciates the lessened recoil.

So, while the reduced recoil ammo might be a bit more expensive than standard 00 buckshot there is an increase in performance that I find worth the cost.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Friday, December 14, 2007

Oracle Internet Directory

Ye Gods is Oracle Internet Directory some arcane, byzantine software. I've spent the past few days at work, in between other projects, trying to get OID online.

Keep in mind, we're only using OID to resolve Oracle service names. Until now, the Oracle Names Server has done a great job at that. Relatively easy to configure, straight forward to maintain... no worries.

Naturally, this had to change. We're more blunt edge than bleeding edge at work, but even we have to drag ourselves shambling into the modern era... and in the modern era the names server has been relegated to the dustbin. Oracle 10g and higher clients just won't talk to it.

So, with the go ahead from our management that the licensing was worked out, I downloaded the software, brought out the manuals and had at it. How hard could it be, right?

Translating the Necronomicon from ancient Arabic seems trivial by comparison. A full second Oracle instance is required, along with another HTTP server and Oracle Applications server. Then, once all that is set up, one can get OID working. Unless you can't, since the provided documentation is bollocks. The classic moment was when the test to confirm connectivity worked, but the actual command didn't and complained of invalid credentials. Yes, I used the same credentials both times.

Kudos to Dizwell Informatics. His write up on Oracle Internet Directory and it's associated processes is well worth a read if you, like I, found the Oracle documentation lacking. Thanks to his notes, I now have a working OID instance ( at least in test ) that's serving up service names via LDAP.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Gun Violence in the UK

I had a long, well written, insightful post on the subject.

Then I saw this cartoon:

I realize humor says more than wordy discourse this time.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Happy Birthday Steven Wright

Just found out that today is Steven Wright's birthday. Hope he has a good one.

If you're not familiar with him, or even if you are, enjoy:

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Gang members in the US Military

As seen on another forum:

Perhaps a bit sensationalist, but may have a point.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Attention Whore: Trifecta Complete

In two previous posts we discussed allegations of criminal behavior which turned out of have been perpetrated by the alleged victim.

In the first a Jewish woman was drawing swastikas on her dorm room door. In the second a Otterbein College student fabricated a story that she was attacked.

The trifecta is now complete.

Fire Dept. Suspends Apprentice For Noose, Note

The Baltimore Fire Department has suspended a paramedic apprentice who admitted placing a threatening note and a rope shaped like a noose inside a firehouse.

Fire officials say the paramedic, Gary Maynard, is the one who initially reported finding the note and the rope. Fire department spokesman Kevin Cartwright says Maynard confessed to city police that he left the note and the rope.

A statement from Fire Chief William Goodwin says Maynard's scheme was "meant to create the perception that members within our department were acting in a discriminatory and unprofessional manner."

The note was believed to refer to a cheating scandal involving black firefighters. Maynard, who is black, has not yet been charged with any crime.

Two of these seem to be "there is racism here, if only I could prove it" thinking. The thought that if there was racism one could prove it without fabricating evidence doesn't seem to enter into it. At the least, that the fabrication was uncovered indicates the organizations involved take such allegations seriously, investigate the allegations and are competent at the investigative processes.

One just seems a cry for attention, although all three cases could be a cry for attention, when you think of it.

Those who allege racism without proof... what else could that be? The institutions they defamed discovered their fabrications in short order; they don't seem the type to tolerate racist behavior.

It's not as if the allegations do anything to improve the climate at those institutions. With these fabrications, future allegations will be suspect of course. That makes legitimate allegations that much more difficult to prove.

Quite a disservice to the causes these people purport to support.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Thursday, November 29, 2007

My GPG / PGP public key

If you know what this is, here it is.

If not, I suggest a bit of reading.

Version: GnuPG v1.4.1 (Darwin)


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

An 8 year old with an AR

Nice to see people getting into shooting...

Monday, November 26, 2007

Abandoned Homes and Arson

Recent discussions on ZS dealt with abandoned homes in Cleveland. Vacant foreclosed homes are stripped by looters for their plumbing and wiring, destroying their value.

Today, this story caught my eye. Apparently there are some 4,100 vacant homes in Columbus.

While I don't know of any reports of looting in Columbus similar to Cleveland, there are some reports that the abandoned homes are targets for arson.

From the first link:

"It's that time of year when squatters will take refuge inside some of these vacant homes to stay warm and maybe the arsonist doesn't know there's someone upstairs or in the basement when they start the fire," said Columbus fire Battalion Chief Doug Smith. "We still have to make an aggressive search and rescue pattern to see if anyone is in there."

Obviously this is pure speculation, but I have to wonder if the fires are being set by neighborhood residents as a way to keep squatters away. I could understand that... homes become vacant eye sores, boarded up, lawns go to hell. Then the squatters move in.

Perhaps it's just me, but I think of squatters I don't think of people down on their luck, but of the mentally ill and drug addicts / alcoholics. Not the nicest people, when they're unmedicated and/or drunk/high.

Torching the vacant home gets rid of them. No one has been hurt so far, but that may be a matter of time. I can't say I agree with that, but I could understand it.

But then, with this from the second Dispatch article:

By the time she looked outside, she said, the abandoned home had been overtaken by flames, which had caught onto the house next door.

She noticed a couple of teenagers filming the scene with their cell phones. She said she doesn't know whether they started the fire, but she hopes police beef up security in the area.

Maybe it is just kids getting a thrill.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

OFF THE GRID: Life On The Mesa

From the web site:

Twenty-Five miles from town, a million miles from mainstream society, a loose-knit community of radicals live in the desert, struggling to survive with little food, less water and no electricity, as they cling to their unique vision of the American dream.

Looks interesting as hell; almost like a post apocalypse movie without the apocalypse. The bad thing with these independent documentaries seems to be distribution. Seems like we're stuck waiting for someone to put out a DVD.

Purity Balls and teen abstinence

Apparently, tis the season for follow-ups.

In this earlier post I talked about teen abstinence and how's it's not effective at preventing teen pregnancy.

This story caught my eye.

In the US, about 10% of boys and 16% of girls have taken the virginity pledge. It’s little wonder this is so popular — organisations that promote sexual abstinence get substantial funding from the government.

Not exactly high numbers. Even with Federal funding, it doesn't seem like it's that popular of a program. Still, to each their own.

So, how's that working out?

Columbia University’s Peter Bearman and Yale’s Hannah Br├╝ckner have carried out one of the largest studies on teenage sexual behaviour, the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. According to this, 88% of the young people who have pledged to remain virgins until their marriage do have sex earlier.

And later in the article:

The US’s Guttmacher Institute has discovered through research that the highest percentage of teenage pregnancies occurs in Mississippi, Arizona and Arkansas — the religious states where sexual abstinence is promoted as the only option.

It seems that teenagers who have taken the virginity pledge have just as much anal and oral sex, as a means of avoiding vaginal sex, as their peers who haven’t taken the oath.

To most people, I don't think this is a shock. Humans are wired for sex as a means of propagating the species. Duh.

When we ignore that, we as a society suffer through higher rates of unplanned pregnancy among young people.

I'm old enough to remember the criticism of liberals as out of touch with human nature. It's hard, now, to not apply that same criticism to those who promote abstinence as the only means of preventing unwanted pregnancy.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

End of Thanksgiving day here; I hope everyone had a good one.

This year, I used a orange and ginger brine. Good stuff. The bird had a nice orange flavor. You'd think it would be odd, but worked out well.

However, it took overnight to brine, and about two hours to cook. These guys have it down to about 30 seconds.

Might not be very tasty, but it's fast.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

New Orleans, State to Pay $3.4M Judgment

As a follow up to an earlier entry I saw this story just before turkey day.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The city and the state of Louisiana will pay the bulk of a $3.4 million racial discrimination judgment against the New Orleans District Attorney's Office, officials announced Tuesday.

The judgment was awarded to 36 employees, 35 white and one Hispanic, who were fired and replaced by black employees shortly after Eddie Jordan took over as the city's first black district attorney in 2003.

From what I can tell, this didn't make any of the major media outlets. Hardly surprising I suppose. The sad thing is if the races of the parties involved had been reversed, there'd be a never ending parade of finely coiffed pundits calling for the District Attorney's head on a stick.

As it was, the judgement will be paid and Jordan resigned. Maybe things will improve down in NOLA now, but I don't think anyone is waiting with baited breath.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sesame Street ... for adults only??

This article was on Slashdot today.

"The earliest episodes of Sesame Street are being made available on DVD, but the NYT notes Volumes 1 and 2 carry a rather strange warning: 'These early 'Sesame Street' episodes are intended for grown-ups, and may not suit the needs of today's preschool child.' So why are they unsuitable for toddlers in 2007? Well, in the parody 'Monsterpiece Theater,' Alistair Cookie — played by Cookie Monster — used to appear with a pipe, which he later gobbled. 'That modeled the wrong behavior,' explained a Sesame Street executive producer, adding that 'we might not be able to create a character like Oscar [the Grouch] now.'"

Cookie Monster eats cookies... and therefore is a bad example for todays corpulent precious rays of sunshine? What, the genius darlings couldn't figure out that eating a pipe was a gag? Or are they so feeble minded that they must emulate a blue furry puppet?

People have the nerve to ask why I prefer cats. If we have to sanitize Sesame Street to prevent damaging todays kids, seeing something like Wile E. Coyote would burst their heads like ripe melons in the sun.

If you want a version of Sesame Street that's not safe for kids, this guy is on the right track:

Funny as hell, but so not safe for work.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Thursday, November 15, 2007

British nukes were protected by bike locks

This story was on the BBC today:

Newsnight has discovered that until the early days of the Blair government the RAF's nuclear bombs were armed by turning a bicycle lock key.

There was no other security on the Bomb itself.

While American and Russian weapons were protected by tamper-proof combination locks which could only be released if the correct code was transmitted, Britain relied on a simpler technology.

And, further on:

The Bomb is actually armed by inserting a bicycle lock key into the arming switch and turning it through 90 degrees. There is no code which needs to be entered or dual key system to prevent a rogue individual from arming the Bomb.

Well, that's encouraging. I wonder if they restricted pens in the area of these nukes equipped with bicycle locks, since as this video shows you can use a pen to get a bicycle lock open:


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Monday, November 12, 2007

Dragonsbreath Shotgun Round

Saw this on Zombie Squad:

Some info on the vid:

Targets are pumpkins already destroyed by AK-47 fire. The shotgun used is a Mossberg 590 which the shooter mentioned he keeps around just for "experiments" like this.

The round fired is a dragonsbreath round; loaded with powdered metals, it produces a significant flash for a few seconds, but not much else. Low recoil, they're only suitable for break-open or pump shotguns as there's not enough energy to cycle the action of a semi-auto.

Not much practical use, but does make a neat video.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

UK Policing... 60% of the time they try.

Police brand four out of ten crimes 'unsolvable' just hours after they are reported

Four out of ten crimes are written off as unsolvable just a few hours after they are reported.

The two million offences are simply "screened out" - and their victims have little or no chance of seeing the culprit brought to justice.

No officer visits the scene of the crime, and no attempt is made to find a suspect.

As many as two-thirds of burglaries are not investigated in some areas, according to the police figures.

Even robberies and violent crimes can be screened out - along with fraud, theft and vandalism.

Among the 12 English and Scottish forces which released figures under Freedom of Information laws, 788,000 crimes were screened out last year.

From a total of 2,029,000 recorded offences, this means 39 per cent are written off in this way.

The findings suggest that out of 6million offences reported to forces in the UK last year, around 2.3million were not investigated.

Shadow home secretary David Davis said: "So-called screening can have the effect of making some crimes in effect risk-free."

Police justify the screening policy by claiming it allows them to target their resources - which they say are stretched to the limit by red tape - on investigating more serious crimes.

Veterans Day

In Flanders Fields
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

IN FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

If you'd like to help a veteran, there's always a need. It's not a matter of politics; more a matter of helping those who served our Nation.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Friday, November 9, 2007

New Orleans more violent than ever

New Orleans murder rate for year will set record

The New Orleans police department's top brass tends to place the blame for all of the city's criminal justice woes on Katrina, but it's well known that New Orleans was an extraordinarily dangerous place well before the hurricane made landfall. The crack cocaine wars of the late 1980s and early 1990s that made Washington, DC and New York City such hotbeds of street violence hit a particularly bloody crescendo in New Orleans.


In recent years, the Orleans Parish district attorney's office has released hundreds of suspects under Article 701 of the Louisiana code of criminal procedure, which states that suspects cannot be held for longer than 60 days on felony arrest without an indictment. Reasons given for the lack of charges filed in 701 cases range from incomplete police reports to overburdened assistant district attorney's who were simply not able to file an indictment before the 60-day period expired. Unsurprisingly, the city's drug business began getting the message that felony crimes-even murder-would most likely end in a 701 release.

Pre-Katrina, there were a few hundred 701 releases per year. But after the storm, the trickle of 701 releases became a flood. In 2006 alone, there were nearly 3,000 such releases, a five- or six-fold increase over pre-flood levels.

Gee, really? The NOLA district attorney isn't effective? Wow. Who'da thunk a racist bigot would be incompetent?

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Report: Abstinence Not Curbing Teen Sex

This was on the AP wire today:

Report: Abstinence Not Curbing Teen Sex

By H. JOSEF HEBERT – 22 hours ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — Programs that focus exclusively on abstinence have not been shown to affect teenager sexual behavior, although they are eligible for tens of millions of dollars in federal grants, according to a study released by a nonpartisan group that seeks to reduce teen pregnancies.

"At present there does not exist any strong evidence that any abstinence program delays the initiation of sex, hastens the return to abstinence or reduces the number of sexual partners" among teenagers, the study concluded.

The report, which was based on a review of research into teenager sexual behavior, was being released Wednesday by the nonpartisan National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.

The study found that while abstinence-only efforts appear to have little positive impact, more comprehensive sex education programs were having "positive outcomes" including teenagers "delaying the initiation of sex, reducing the frequency of sex, reducing the number of sexual partners and increasing condom or contraceptive use."

"Two-thirds of the 48 comprehensive programs that supported both abstinence and the use of condoms and contraceptives for sexually active teens had positive behavior effect," said the report.

A spending bill before Congress for the Department of Health and Human Services would provide $141 million in assistance for community-based, abstinence-only sex education programs, $4 million more than what President Bush had requested.

The study, conducted by Douglas Kirby, a senior research scientist at ETR Associates, also sought to debunk what the report called "myths propagated by abstinence-only advocates" including: that comprehensive sex education promotes promiscuity, hastens the initiative of sex or increases its frequency, and sends a confusing message to adolescents.

None of these was found to be accurate, Kirby wrote.

Instead, he wrote, such programs improved teens' knowledge about the risks and consequences of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases and gave them greater "confidence in their ability to say 'no' to unwanted sex."

The sponsors of the study praised Kirby for his "thorough research" and for being "fair and evenhanded," but they also acknowledged that ETR Associates developed and markets several of the sex education curricula reviewed in the report. Several of the previous studies that were reviewed also were written by Kirby.

The report noted that there continues to be "too high levels of sexual risk-taking among teens" with 47 percent of all high schools students reporting having sex at least once and 63 percent saying they have engaged in sex by the spring semester of their senior year.

"Many teenagers do not use contraceptives carefully and consistently," said the report. About 40 of every 1,000 girls age 15 to 19 gave birth in 2005, the last year for which data was available, the report said.

I doubt that this, like earlier studies, will do much to change the debate. It's sad, really.

Just about everyone agrees that teen pregnancy is a strong indicator of poverty. Where people seem to part company is in how to get there. Some want to act in ways that measurably effect the problem, while others cling to religious tenants that don't seem to produce the results all parties desire.

not that cats ever get jealous...

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Attention Whore: Thy name is also Angela Rausch

Ok, it's official. The attention whore trifecta is now in play.

From WBNS-10TV:

Police: Student Fabricated Attack Story
Nov 06 2007 12:18PM

WESTERVILLE, Ohio - An Otterbein College student was facing charges after police said she fabricated a story that she was attacked on Sunday night.

Angela Rausch (pictured, right) told police that a man grabbed her from behind in a parking lot as she was unloading a laundry basket from her car, 10TV News reported.

She also told police that she saw two men laughing near a red SUV in the area right before the attack. Rausch, 18, also told investigators that she was concerned that she was being followed over the past few months.

On Monday night, police said that Rausch confessed that the story was false.

Rausch was charged with falsification. She was scheduled for arraignment on Wednesday.

It was not immediately known why the student made up the story, 10TV News reported.

Stay with 10TV News and for more information.

Reported by Tino Ramos

Monday, November 5, 2007

Attention Whore: Thy name is Sarah Marshak

From the gwhatchet, a student run newspaper at George Washington Univercity:

The University found the student who reported several swastikas on her Mitchell Hall door was the one who drew them.

Using footage from a hidden video camera, the University Police Department linked freshman Sarah Marshak with the vandalism. She will now appear before Student Judicial Services and could face federal and District charges, a spokesperson announced Monday afternoon.

In an interview with The Hatchet Monday evening, Marshak, said she only drew the final three of six swastikas on her door in an attempt to highlight what she characterized as GW's inaction. Only hours earlier, Marshak categorically denied the charges.

"I wasn't looking to create this, sort of, insanity," Marshak said in a phone interview. "I wasn't looking to become a media darling. I was just looking for acknowledgment from University that someone drew a swastika on the door."

Marshak said Tara W. Pereira, director of SJS, informed her she would likely be expelled. Marshak said she did not want to leave GW but probably will.

Tracy Schario, a University spokesperson, said GW stands by its statement that they have a signed confession from Marshak. Schario would not comment on how many swastikas Marshak was responsible for, only saying it was "several of the incidents."

Robert Fishman, the director of Hillel, said during conversations, Marshak always came across as rational.

"This is a definite cry for help on her part," Fishman said in a phone interview Monday. "I can't imagine why anyone would do anything like this. I feel very sad for her. At the same time I am upset that she had to resort to the actions she took."

Another student was caught Saturday night in relation to the drawing of swastikas, the word "niggers" and the text "white power" in New Hall.

The University is still investigating the Potomac House incident.

Schario would not comment whether the camera was placed in Mitchell Hall by UPD or the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who also was investigating the matter.

The same story is here, but with a few less details.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Mr. Brooks

Recently released on DVD, I've come to like Mr. Brooks quite a lot.

The rotten tomatoes review doesn't really do this film justice. I suspect that's because the plot doesn't fit on the back of a cocktail napkin.

The main characters are the title character, Mr. Brooks (Kevin Costner), his murderous alter ego Marshal (William Hurt), the police woman who's trying to solve a series of murders (Demi Moore) and the slacktastic Mr. Smith (Dane Cook) who witnesses Mr. Smith's handiwork and becomes a sort of avid fan.

The story centers in large part on Mr. Brooks. In almost a character study, we're shown him interacting with Marshall, attending AA meetings to stop himself from killing, dealing with a daughter ( with her own secrets ), and taking Mr. Smith out on hunting trips ( as Mr. Smith has photos from the last time Mr. Brooks "slipped" ).

What really attracts me to this movie is the interplay between Costner and Hurt. As Marshall, he's the inner voice urging Mr. Brooks on to mayhem, but also a consoling force and even at times a moral conscience.

Some have likened Marshall to the parts of ourselves we don't much care for; those things we're ashamed of about ourselves. That's a shallow view, and misses something perhaps unique to those of us who deal with addictive natures.

Marshall, as the embodiment of a darker nature, isn't completely destructive. Yes, he does drive Brooks to commit heinous crimes, but he also assists Brooks in getting away with those crimes. He serves in scenes as Brooks's memory, providing details which escape him. When things go very wrong with Brooks's daughter Marshall is there both to console and caution him.

Not entirely altruistic, of course. The most persistent virus does not kill it's host, so keeping Mr. Brooks out of trouble serves Marshall's purposes. He does enjoy life, if he does say so himself. Helping Mr. Brooks serves that end.

That duality; that darker aspect of one's inner nature which is both destructive and helpful rings true.

An obsessive compulsive type is very annoying... unless he's the one spending nights and weekends pouring through the tax codes trying to find more deductions for your income tax return.

The glib social peacock, who can change her interests and personality to match her audience is at least shallow, if not an outright lier lacking in substance, but I'll bet she's great at marketing and/or sales.

We deny our inner nature, both the good parts and the bad, at our own peril.

For most, if not all of us our Marshall isn't going away. To pretend otherwise is to forget our Marshall is there, and then when Marshall whispers an idea in our ear we can forget where that thought comes from. Might even seem like a really good idea, if we're not careful.

That said, our Marshall isn't entirely harmful. Kept in check, it can be a source of strength. If only to help people with their own Marshall.

Might as well make some sort of peace with him. He isn't going anywhere.

PS: For those of a firearms enthusiast bent, watch the gunfight between the police woman (Demi Moore) and the serial killer Meeks (Matt Schulze). Whomever did the fight choreography threw in some nice details. Note how Moore uses a proper shooting stance, cover, and some tactical consideration in taking out the overhead lights. Meeks and his silent girlfriend blaze away one handed, illustrating perfectly the adage that there's always more air than meat to hit. Nicely done.

Out of the Gutter

I've a soft spot for crime fiction of all types, and the hard boiled in particular.

Sure, you've got the hero's journey, but in the hard boiled tradition that journey is up the back side of a dark alley reeking of cat piss and stale puke. The shining light at the end of said journey is at best a street lamp, and all you win is a chance to do it all again.

Kinda like life.

Out of the gutter magazine

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Who says the UN isn't effective in Kosovo?

After all, they can come up with a stylish music video:

Friday, November 2, 2007

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Thursday, October 25, 2007

A comparison of disaster response: Hurricane Katrina and the San Diego Wildfires

I heard this on NPR this afternoon:

Comparing Responses to Katrina, Calif. Wildfires

It's worth a listen, as it covers some of the differences in disaster response between the two events.

Quality of leadership was cited as a main factor in getting Federal assistance. While NOLA Mayor Nagin ranted on a radio show and Governor Blanko organized a moment of prayer to handle Katrina, Governor Schwarzenegger went on site to the Del Mar fairgrounds to ensure nursing home patients were evacuated to waiting medical facilities.

Also, it appears Governor Schwarzenegger pre-filed paperwork under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act when the indications were the wildfires could become a problem, rather than waiting until disaster struck, as was the case in Louisiana during Katrina.

Demographics and geography are likely factors as well. People in NOLA who could not evacuate were largely poor and didn't have their own transportation, while those in suburban San Diego could drive themselves out of the danger zone.

Emergency response isn't hampered by flooding in San Diego, of course. Once the fires are out, emergency vehicles can move in. Not the case in NOLA, were flood waters were very persistent.

To San Diego's benefit, there are a lot of military facilities in the area. Contrast that with New Orleans, where Federal help was days away.

California as a whole is subject to more than a few disasters on their own. Between other wildfires, mudslides and earthquakes it would seem their emergency responders have a bit of experience. As Katrina was, literally, a once in a life time event it's not as if there was lots of experience in dealing with floods of that magnitude.

The NPR article brought up race and class issues as well. Frankly, I don't see race as a factor at this stage. The disasters are different, and it's not as if San Diego is lilly white ( hint: White persons not Hispanic, percent, 2005 = 52.3% ).

Class may be another matter. It's true that there's more money in San Diego than in New Orleans, both in terms of personal wealth and in taxes collected by the local government. Having more funds available of course means there's more options available.

It will be interesting to see how San Diego comes out of this. Hopefully, they'll fare better than New Orleans, which still seems to be having problems.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

And you thought your girl friend was nuts...

Woman Stabs Tied-Up Lover to Drink Blood
Oct 23, 6:32 PM (ET)

MESA, Ariz. (AP) - A woman who stabbed her tied-up lover so she could
drink his blood has been sentenced to 10 years in prison. Tiffany
Sutton told Maricopa County Superior Court Judge David Udall that she
was sorry for the incident and said she never meant to hurt anyone,
but received the stiff sentence anyway after he called the crime
especially heinous.

Sutton, 24, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault in August. She was
arrested by Tempe police in February after she repeatedly stabbed her
lover during an alcohol- and drug-fueled sexual tryst.

According to police reports, the victim, 46-year-old Robert McDaniel,
agreed to be tied up during sex but became alarmed and asked to be
untied when Sutton pulled out a knife and said she liked to drink
blood. Sutton then attacked him, slicing his leg, puncturing his arm,
shoulder and back and cutting his neck and stomach. When he escaped,
she chased him with a pickax.

Sutton's attorney, Elizabeth Houck, told the judge at Tuesday's
hearing that she suffers from a personality disorder that causes
instability and has taken responsibility for her actions, according to
the East Valley Tribune.

Houck wrote in a sentencing memo that prison records show Sutton
thought she was a vampire for the first several weeks she was in jail.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

San Diego Fires: Larry Himmel in front of his destroyed home

Larry Himmel is a reporter from San Diego. Here he is reporting on the wildfires destroying his home.

I'm not sure if this counts as dedication to his job or insanity. Either way, I hope he had insurance.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Come Play With Us

So, Saw IV is coming out...

Not sure if it's on the "too see" list. After all, Chopping Block does have a point:

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Batman Glass

30 Days of Night

Just in case you missed the trailer:

Overall, I liked it. Originally based on a graphic novel, the film mostly followed the original with a few twists.

It's survival horror; less about an unstoppable monster killing those who violate moral rules and more about people dealing with horrific events.

It's also a vampire film. The vampires here, however, aren't effete dandies who are overtly gay, nor are they bratty rich farts with a taste for blood.

The portrayal of vampires in 30 days isn't remotely likable, nor is it remotely human. I didn't get the impression that these were humans who had become monsters, but rather that they were monsters who looked a bit human.

Nicely done.

Neil Gaiman on H.P. Lovecraft

Now this is interesting:

Pay attention around 5:02 ( or 3:24, depending on the viewer settings ).

Most horror movies are a modern morality tale. Do the Bad Thing ( have sex, do drugs, whatever ) and the Bad Man punishes you.

Lovecraft, as Gaiman points out, isn't like that. In his world, you just stay at the wrong hotel or find a box of papers among your dead uncles belongings. The malevolence of the universe is manifest not against those who violate societies norms but against society itself.

The only morality is the universe doesn't care, and that human morality is irrelevant. Perhaps that's part of why Lovecraft still has some appeal, even after all these years; it's an interesting answer to the question "why do bad things happen to good people?".

Saturday, October 20, 2007

B Movies

Free B Movies

Watch hours of B Movie classics like Night of the Living Dead, A Boy and His Dog, Metropolis and Street Fighter for Free!

Ok, they're free because the copyright expired, apparently. Still, good stuff. No registration, sign-in, credit card or note from Mom required. Just a broadband connection and hours of time to waste.


I go through this every day...

Monday, October 15, 2007

Why I'm here

Just in case you're one of the readers from my old blog ( yeah, both of you ), here's the explenation for the move.

A few people complained that my myspace blog was tough to read. Occasional demands they register with myspace, problems with flash ads... the works.

This site should be accessable without registration for the forseable future. As time goes on, I'll phase out the old blog. Until then, I'll try to keep both sites up ( albeit with mostly identical content ).