Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Ashley Dupre back in the news

The woman who brought down Eliot Spitzer is back in the news:

The woman at the center of the New York governor call-girl scandal is suing "Girls Gone Wild" founder Joe Francis, claiming he exploited her name and image for profit.

Ashley Alexandra Dupre is seeking more than $10 million in damages in the lawsuit filed on Monday.

Dupre alleges that "Girls Gone Wild" representatives approached her while she was vacationing in Florida in 2003 and offered her alcohol before encouraging her to expose her breasts for their cameras when she was just 17.

The suit claims "Girls Gone Wild" has illegally exploited Dupre's name, picture, voice and likeness in a number of deceptive ad campaigns and on Web sites, reports People.com.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Smiley face drownings?

Now this is a weird story.

Detectives Chase 'Smiley Face' Murder Mystery
Retired NYC Detectives Spend 11 Years Connecting the Drowning Deaths of 40 Young Men Across the Country


Detectives Kevin Gannon and Anthony Duarte have been tracking the suspicious drowning deaths of young men across the country ever since they investigated the death of college student Patrick McNeill, who drowned in New York City in 1997. Gannon made a promise to McNeill's parents that he would never give up on his case.

When the detectives took a look at Jenkins' death, they discovered that the position of his body and other physical evidence proved that the college student didn't drown accidentally. The cause of death on Jenkins' death certificate was changed to "homicide."

While most local investigations focus on where a body was recovered, Gannon and Duarte wanted to know where the body went into the water. If they could figure out that location, the detectives believed they'd be able to gather evidence from the actual crime scene.

In city after city, the detectives found a smiley face painted somewhere at the crime scene. The color of paint used and the size of the faces varies, but the detectives are convinced it is a sick signature claiming responsibility for the homicide.

The detectives found the smiley faces in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Wisconsin and Iowa.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

65 percent of American women are disordered eaters... really?

When I first heard of this story, I thought it was another story about bulemia, anorexia, or something of the sort.

However, this quote drew me up short:

No, she doesn’t starve herself to an unnatural weight (like anorexics) or throw up daily (like some bulimics), but she doesn’t seem to have a healthy relationship with food or her body, either.

So... "disordered eating"? Wha?

Well, since it's got a scary sounding name, there must be categories right?

The online SELF survey garnered responses from 4,000 women ages 25 to 45 to a detailed questionnaire about their eating habits and found that most disordered eaters fall into one or more of six categories. "Calorie prisoners" are terrified of gaining weight, tend to see food as good or bad and feel extremely guilty if they indulge in something that’s off-limits. Secret eaters binge on junk food at home, in the car — wherever they won’t be found out. Career dieters may not know what to eat without a plan to follow; despite their efforts, they’re more likely than other types to be overweight or obese. Purgers are obsessed with ridding their body of unwanted calories and bloat by using laxatives, diuretics or occasional vomiting. Food addicts eat to soothe stress, deal with anger, even celebrate a happy event; they think about food nearly all the time. Extreme exercisers work out despite illness, injury or exhaustion and solely for weight loss; they are devastated if they miss a session. Like Marsh, who Bulik describes as a calorie prisoner and an exercise addict, many disordered eaters piece together a painful mix of destructive habits. Others may shift between categories over the years, ricocheting from restricting to bingeing to purging, for instance.

Ah. There they are.

Now, does this scary sounding story cover a large group of people? Does this new category indicate previously known eating disorders?

Yes and no, apparently.

Even more frightening, the SELF survey reveals that an additional 10 percent of women suffer from outright eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia, meaning that a total of 75 percent of all American women — three out of four — eat, think and behave abnormally around food.

So let me get this straight. 10 percent of women have previously identified eating disorders, but 75 percent of women get whacky about food.

Perhaps it's the cynic in me, but I read that as: "Self help gurus seek to expand the customers for their services by redefining what counts as a disorder".

For instance, without definitions of the terms their list of "disordered behavior" could look like this:

  • Secret Eater: Someone who has a candy bar in their car on the way home from work.

  • Career Dieters: Someone who's trying something other than "eat less and exercise more".

  • Purgers: Someone who eats too much fiber.

  • Food Addicts: Someone who eats comfort food (i.e. something the writers don't approve of).

  • Extreme exercisers: someone who works out regularly

Maybe this is an indication of some deeper problem. However, without a look at the raw data and some definitions of terms this strikes me as nothing more than someone trying to drum up business.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Happy Caturday

Bonus points if you get this one...

Friday, April 25, 2008

Bad kitty!

From Lio of course.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Penguin protester

I have no idea what this is from, but tip o' the tentacle to MP for the photo...

Australian gun ban: No effect

From University of Sydney

Shot Down: gun law study shows no effect

21 April 2008

In the spirit of the 2020 Summit, academics have released startling new evidence about the impact of Australian gun laws, and argue that future public policy must differentiate between what does and does not work.

In a new peer-reviewed study, Dr Samara McPhedran from the School of Psychology, and her colleague Dr Jeanine Baker, who also hold executive positions in the International Coalition for Women in Shooting and Hunting, show that the accumulated studies on Australia's 1996 gun bans and half billion dollar 'buyback' do not point to an impact.

The authors say that this provides a clearer foundation for evidence based policy development, particularly within the area of suicide prevention.

"This research will enhance the ability of policymakers to build upon inclusive programmes that have delivered outcomes, such as the National Suicide Prevention Strategy, rather than pursue measures that do not achieve the stated goals."

The study evaluated whether past published studies on the impact of the 1996 laws on firearm related homicide and suicide are consistent with one another.

"Using different analysis methods and time periods, none of the four studies found evidence for an impact of the laws on the pre-existing decline in firearm homicides," said Dr McPhedran.

"The statistical outcomes were in complete agreement, even though the conclusions varied."

According to the new study, disagreement over whether or not the 1996 legislative changes had an impact has not arisen from inconsistent results, but from different ways in which the same results are interpreted.

"We identified a series of interpretive misunderstandings that give the appearance of inconsistency. For example, some studies conclude the laws had an impact on firearm suicides, without realising that non-firearm suicides also began falling from the late 1990s onwards."

"This coincides with the introduction of comprehensive suicide prevention strategies, and implies that social changes such as greater awareness of mental health influenced suicides across the board."

The overall consistencies revealed in the review, and identification of how the appearance of incongruent findings has been created, show that disagreement can be put to rest.

"Just as one swallow does not make a summer, a single study cannot definitively answer whether or not the laws had an effect. Collectively, though, the research has become a flock of swallows with a very clear direction."

Emphasis mine.

This isn't much of a surprise to me, but might be to some. Limiting the tools of bad behavior does not limit the behavior itself; the determined just find different tools to accomplish the same goal, whether that goal is to harm other or to harm one's self.

Obama Girl finally votes

As a follow up to this earlier post, it seems Obama girl finally got around to voting:

Amber Lee Ettinger, better known as Obama Girl, ditched her New Jersey digs to vote in her hometown —Hazleton.
It proved to be an exciting day for her that gained Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., one more Pennsylvania vote in its primary election Tuesday.

It was Ettinger’s first time casting a vote in any election, she said.

Doesn't seemed to have helped though.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Lio on vegitables


From Lio of course.

Monday, April 21, 2008

dinosaur tries to eat pig

Hell of a defense mechanism...

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Friday, April 18, 2008


Seems like a lot of effort to learn what it's like to fly...

Too bad you can only do it once.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Jury doesn't buy self defense in beheading

From Fox News:

DETROIT — A jury has convicted an 18-year-old man of killing another man, then beheading him and torching the body in what prosecutors called a thrill killing.

Jean Pierre Orlewicz of Plymouth, Mich., was charged with first-degree murder in the Nov. 7 slaying of Daniel Sorensen, 26, of River Rouge in Wayne County's Canton Township. The jury convicted Orlewicz on Wednesday, a day after starting deliberations.

The conviction carries a mandatory punishment of life in prison without parole.

The defense had argued in Wayne County Circuit Court that the Orlewicz killed the much larger Sorensen in self-defense and mutilated the body because he feared reprisal by organized crime figures.

But prosecutors say Orlewicz carefully planned the killing.

Just had to happen in Detroit... I don't think even RoboCop could help them any more.

Islamic Body says health insurance illegal

From the Economic Times

NEW DELHI: Comparing the benefits of health insurance policy to gambling, key Islamic organisations have termed the policies as "illegal" and directed Muslims to keep away from them.

At a seminar to deliberate whether insuring health was permissible under Islamic law Shariat, the Islamic Fiqh Academy (India) decided that availing such policies was illegal.

Representatives from around 300 Madrasas, including Darul Uloom Deoband, Jamiat Islami participated in the three-day meet, where they reached a conclusion that seeking insurance cover was only another form of gambling.

Health insurance schemes have turned a noble service in to a business activity, hence under Islam it is not permitted, they said.

An interesting take on the problem of providing health coverage. In a sense, this sort of ruling might encourage something like health savings accounts.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Violence in Mexico on the rise

As a follow up, it seems the violence in Mexico isn't limited to Tijuana.

The Juarez turf wars have claimed more than 210 dead this year so far.

A turf war among drug cartels has claimed more than 210 lives in the first three months of this year. Many of those killed were young gunmen from out of town. The number of homicides this year is more than twice the total number of homicides for the same period last year. Several mass graves hiding 36 bodies in all have been discovered in the backyards of two houses owned by drug dealers.

At the height of the violence, around Easter, bodies were turning up every morning, at a rate of almost 12 a week. Desperate, the mayor and the governor of Chihuahua State asked the federal government to intervene.

"Neither the municipal government, nor the state government, is capable of taking on organized crime," Mayor Jose Reyes Ferriz said in an interview.

Hell, one NPR reporter described Juarez as just like the opening scene from No Country for Old Men. And people wonder why securing the southern border is high on some priority lists.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Hannibal Lecter on NPR

As part of NPR's series of character studies they've put Hannibal Lecter under the microscope.

I'll admit an affinity for the character; more for the written version in the Thomas Harris series of books than the films, although the films can be quite good.

Speaking of the films, if you need something to fill out your netflix list check out Manhunter. Based off the book Red Dragon, this 1986 film was directed by Michael Mann who also directed the Miami Vice series. It has a unique feel from the other Lecter movies produced; a very 80's feel combined with the cold savagery of the material.

Interestingly, William Petersen, who'd go on to star in CSI states in the extra DVD footage on Manhunter that the role of Will Graham stayed with him even after the production was long over. One can see echos of that character in his early work on CSI.

All in all, it's both good reading and good watching. I know I'm an avid fan.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Jimmy Carter, Hamas and Israel

So former President Jimmy Carter decided to meet with Hamas while visiting the region.

Now, Israel and Hamas aren't exactly the best of friends. Hamas claims a divine right to the land Israel is composed of:

Hamas considers all of pre-1948 Palestine to be the Palestinian homeland. This includes present-day State of Israel — as well as the Gaza Strip and the West Bank — as an inalienable Islamic waqf or religious bequest, which can never be surrendered to non-Muslims. It asserts that struggle (jihad) to regain control of the land from Israel is the religious duty of every Muslim (fard `ain).

Hamas does not recognize Israel as a sovereign state, unlike the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which has recognized it since 1988, and calls it the "Zionist entity". Its charter calls for an end to Israel.

So it's not like they're open to negotiation with Israel. Kinda hard to when your god is telling you to wipe them out.

In response to this, Israel has refused to provide security for former President Carter.

JERUSALEM, April 14 (Reuters) - Israeli leaders shunned former U.S. President Jimmy Carter during a visit because of his plans to meet Hamas and Israel's secret service declined to assist U.S. agents guarding him, U.S. sources said on Monday.

"They're not getting support from local security," one of the sources said, on condition of anonymity.

Now, for it's part Israel is saying in effect it's a paperwork error:

An Israeli security source said the Shin Bet security service provided no protection to Carter during his visit to the Jewish state because no request was made.

However, if Israel deliberately decided to withhold protection, I wouldn't be surprised.

Negotiation doesn't seem to have a point, as Hamas doesn't seem like they're going to rescind a key part of their identity in order to peacefully coexist with Israel. Given that, what exactly is the point of meeting with Hamas if not to antagonize Israel? If antagonism is the point... why should Israel help Carter?

Sunday, April 13, 2008

You might be a gun nut if...

This is hanging in your shower...

Saturday, April 12, 2008

'World peace' hitcher is murdered

So this story came up on a mailing list.

I'd never heard of the victim, a woman who called herself Pippa Bacca. Her web site was down, and in Italian, but here's the google cache, translated into English.

Heck of a read. I'm still wondering what the point of her trip was, even after reading this:

The Project
By Silvia Moro & Pippa Bacca
Our dream is to hitch-hike across the war-torn areas of the Balkans and the Mediterranean – dressed as brides. That’s the only dress we’ll carry along - with all stains accumulated during the journey. We’ll visit artists and craftsmen along the way and stop at museums, foundations, cultural centres and youth clubs for the daily pacifist ritual/performance of personal hygiene and then interaction with the place, people, and their crafts.

Objectives Objectives
The goal is to explore and collect photographic and video evidences on the common Mediterranean culture. The expected route is through route is through North-Eastern Italy, Serbia, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Lebanon, Palestine, Israel and Syria. At the end of the journey the dresses shall be exposed together with other evidences of the journey.

WTF is "daily ritual pacifist / performance of personal hygiene"? Taking a bath in a drum circle? Singing kumbaya in the shower?

Whatever. I feel for her family. Her sister had this to say ( from the BBC article ):

Ms di Marineo's sister, who had gone to Turkey to look for her, identified the body. An autopsy is being conducted in Istanbul.

"Her travels were for an artistic performance and to give a message of peace and of trust, but not everyone deserves trust," another sister, Maria, told the Italian news agency, Ansa.

Well said. If only her sister had listened.

Happy Caturday

Friday, April 11, 2008

Navy Hooker Had Sex With "Hundreds"

From the Post Chronicle:

Lt. Cmdr. Rebecca Dickinson, a Navy Lieutenant who was a pricy call girl for the D.C. Madam, has testified in court and revealed that she 'serviced' hundreds of clients while working for the D.C. Madam.

Lt. Cmdr. Rebecca Dickinson was paid $250-$300 per hour by D.C. Madam Deborah Jeane-Palfrey and admitted to having sex with almost every client that Palfrey set her up with between October of 2005 and April of 2006.

Dickinson, a Navy supply officer and former Naval Academy instructor, reportedly has 3 children and a husband, but the marriage is apparently 'troubled'.

Shortly after filing for bankruptcy, Dickinson became a hooker. now that she's caught, the Navy has sent her a letter of reprimand and explained that she will never dress in uniform again.

"We expect the men and women who serve in our nation's Navy to adhere to a standard of conduct that reflects our core values of honor, courage and commitment," Hanzlik said.

"Lt. Cmdr. Dickinson's conduct will prevent her from wearing this uniform again in the service of our country."

This incident has made Dickinson a bad girl in no time, who has otherwise had a good career profile. The Lt. Cmdr. had two Navy/Marine Corps Commendation medals and four Navy/Marine Corps Achievement medals, say sources.

Dickinson's civilian lawyer says she understands that her career is now over. Dickinson was fired from her position as an instructor at Naval Supply Corps School.

She said "It was getting harder for me to do," Dickinson testified. "I had other responsibilities. I didn't like it." She added, "I quit for many reasons. . . . Partly because of other commitments."

She should have quit sooner.

Great write up. You've just got to love that photo; it seems to clarify what people paid $300 an hour for.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Ballistics evidence... more like a hint?

In some recent discussions related to ballistics evidence I recalled this post about the National Research Council saying ballistics databases aren't that effective.

Well, as part of those discussions I dug up the press release from the National Research Council. It supports the earlier story, but has some interesting passages as well.

The report notes that the fundamental assumption underlying forensic firearms identification – that every gun leaves microscopic marks on bullets and cartridge cases that are unique to that weapon and remain the same over repeated firings – has not yet been fully demonstrated scientifically. More research would be needed to prove that firearms identification rests on firmer scientific footing, said the committee that wrote the report.

and ...

Claims of Certainty About 'Matches' Without Firm Grounding

The report does not assess the admissibility of firearm toolmark evidence in legal proceedings, since making such a determination was not part of the committee's charge. However, it cautions that the statement commonly made by firearms examiners that "matches" of ballistic evidence identify a particular source gun "to the exclusion of all other firearms" should be avoided. There is currently no statistical justification for such a statement, and it is inconsistent with the element of subjectivity inherent in any firearms examiner's assessment of a match.

If firearms identification is to rest on firmer scientific ground, more research would need to assess the fundamental assumption that toolmarks are unique and remain recognizable over time, despite repeated firings. Such research should include a program of experiments covering a full range of factors that may degrade a gun's toolmarks, as well as factors that might cause different guns to generate similar toolmarks. Intensive work is also needed on the underlying physics, engineering, and metallurgy of firearms, in order to better understand the mechanisms that form toolmarks as a weapon is fired.

Gods damn.

So, there's no evidence that ballistic matches are viable evidence over time.

I wonder how many convictions have been obtained nation wide on ballistic evidence, and how many of those convictions are only the result of faulty science.

The full report is available National Academies Press. In case you're wondering, no that's not a paid referral.

Becky Jo Tatum back in the news

Becky Jo Tatum

Becky Jo Tatum, the woman accused of getting a teenage girl drunk and performing oral sex on her is back in the news.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — New charges were filed Wednesday against a Bexley woman accused of having sex with one of her daughter's 14-year-old friends.

Becky Jo Tatum, who faces a charge of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, was indicted Wednesday on new charges of insurance fraud, falsification in theft, drug possession and having a weapon while under disability, 10TV News reported.

Tatum, 41, was accused of receiving $6,000 for a laptop she claimed was stolen, according to court documents obtained by 10TV.

The having a firearm under disability charge means she had a firearm or dangerous ordinance of some type while either a felon, under indictment for a felony or adjudicated a mental defective.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Melanie Bowers: Not really attacked...

As a follow up to this post, which mentions a 13 year old girl who claimed she was attacked by fellow students for bringing an anti-illegal immigration sign to school... well, it looks like she made the whole thing up.

DALLAS — School officials said Wednesday that an Athens eighth-grader lied when she claimed a mob of angry students assaulted her for making a poster that read, "If you love our nation, stop illegal immigration."

Surveillance cameras at Athens Middle School show Melanie Bowers, 13, purposefully making scratch marks on her face and arms in a hallway after a classmate took her poster in a "snatch-and-grab" style, Athens school Superintendent Fred Hayes said.

Bowers had told administrators she was clawed and hit after about 20 students, livid over the poster message she chose for a class project, swarmed around her and wrested the sign away.

What Hayes had earlier said was a scuffle partly borne from a heated national debate over immigration now appeared to be mostly horseplay, he said.

"The real error in this whole thing lies in the young lady telling lies," Hayes said.

Hayes said the school is pursuing misdemeanor criminal charges against the girl for making a false report.

The girl's parents apologized for their daughter in a written statement provided by school officials. They did not immediately return requests for comment.

The alleged scuffle led to the suspension of three Hispanic students. Hayes said on Tuesday that witnesses reported seeing the three make physical contact with their white classmate.

The students returned to class Wednesday, but Hayes said their punishment remained appropriate because they still were involved in taking the poster. Hayes said one snatched the sign and the others encouraged the plot, although Bowers was never hurt.

Hayes said he apologized to the parents of the suspended students.

"Those students were cast in a negative light," he said.

J.R. Bowers, the girl's father, wrote in the statement provided by school officials that he agreed that charges will need to be filed against his daughter.

"I see that my daughter was not assaulted and put the marks on her body," Shera Bowers, the girl's mother, wrote.

News of the alleged attack over an anti-immigration poster — and the suspension of the three Hispanic students — touched off a flurry of comments on the Internet and to the Athens school district.

Hayes had said that the district received messages from people well outside Athens, a city of 12,000 about 70 miles south of Dallas. He had said that "some of these people are irrational in some of the e-mails that they've been sending me about these young people."

On Tuesday, Hayes said he was not surprised by the alleged scuffle because of the passions stirred by the immigration debate. He also critized the class project as being inappropriate for middle school students.

Hayes said the school district would consider placing Bowers in an alternative school.

J.R. Bowers, who had agreed that the class project was too advanced for eighth-graders, had said Tuesday that he was holding his daughter out of class for the rest of the week.

I've previously covered others who made up allegations apparently to gain attention. In this case perhaps age can be considered a factor, even if the overall maturity factor is about the same as others who've done similar things.

Ohio House Bill 519: Mandatory Volunteering for parents

Well this doesn't look good.

House Bill 519 introduced in the Ohio legislature would require parents to volunteer at least 13 hours in their school district.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008
The bill, sponsored State Rep. Sandra Williams (D-Cleveland) would penalize parents with a $100 fine if they don't donate their time, reports 610 WTVN's Christy Chatman.

According to the proposal, no later than June 30th of each school year, the superintendent of each school district would be required to report parents who didn't volunteer to the Ohio Department of Education.

Since when did volunteering become mandatory? Isn't that called conscription? As far as schools needing work done, property taxes cover that here in Ohio as the main source of school funding.

For those readers from Ohio who might like to comment on this proposed legislation, you can find your representative here.

Illegal immigration in the news

So a 13 year old girl was assaulted after she brought a sign to school which said "If you love our nation, stop illegal immigration".

Melanie Bowers, 13, brought the sign to Athens Middle School on Friday as part of a class project on political activism. Each child was assigned to pick an issue and prepare a poster supporting a position.

Hayes said she was showing the sign in the hallway when a group of students tried wresting it away.

J.R. Bowers, the girl's father, said Melanie suffered scratch marks along her neck, face and arms. He said she also had a swollen jaw.

Bowers said as many as 20 students surrounded his daughter in the hallway, and Hayes said others may have hurled verbal insults. The poster was ultimately destroyed by other students.

Which just goes to show how touchy a subject this is.

People who are against illegal immigration are sometimes lumped in with racists who want to prevent cultural changes they see as detrimental ( and thereby confuse the ideas of race and culture yet again ) while some who rail against illegals are, apparently, more concerned with keeping only people who look like them in the US. That's not even accounting for non-white racists.

The Wall Street Journal notes the number of illegal immigrants has dropped recently:

The number of illegal immigrants apprehended along the U.S.-Mexico border is falling steeply, an indication that the economic downturn and beefed-up security could be deterring unauthorized crossings.

The U.S. Border Patrol said Tuesday that the number of apprehensions dropped 17% to 347,372 between Oct. 1, 2007, and March 31, 2008, from the same period in late 2006 and early 2007.

They seem to think the declining US job market has something to do with that, but I can't count out enforcement efforts.

NPR has a story on illegal immigrants from El Salvador being deported back to their home country.

In 2004, there were 3,500 illegal immigrants in the US returned to El Salvador. In 2007, there were 20,000. Quite a step up. Per the same NPR story, 287,000 illegal immigrants were returned to their home country from all nationalities.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

First ammendment covers strippers in Texas, even if nothing else does

A Texas Judge has rejected a strip club tax according to NPR

People who work at Texas strip clubs remove their clothes, but they're still covered by the Constitution. The state imposed a fee of $5 per customer. The money was intended to go for sexual assault prevention, plus health care for the uninsured. But a state district judge has thrown out the tax, saying it's a "business activity involving expression that, while unpopular, is protected by the First Amendment."

I can only hope that the Second ammendment is given the same broad interpretation as the first.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Eric Cartman on NPR

No, really.

Eric Cartman was interviewed on NPR and even answered an adaptation of the Proust questionnaire.

This is a similar story to the one NPR did on the Cookie Monster; just seems odd that Cartman is on NPR. Seems like there should be four guys on horses riding around.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Charlton Heston has died

It's a sad day.

Charlton Heston has died at his home in Beverly Hills with his wife Lydia at his side, family spokesman Bill Powers said. His wife Lydia was at his side. He was 84.

Some may remember him as Moses, the Astronaut Taylor, police detective Robert Thorn or perhaps even as spokesman for the NRA.

I hope he finds some peace in his Honky Paradise.

Lethality of the .22lr

Very interesting article on the penetration of the .22lr round over at snipers hide.

Short version: At 300 yards and in 18 - 30mph winds the shooter hit a partially frozen turkey wrapped in three layers of clothing with a .22lr rifle. This is good shooting in my ( or, likely, anyone's book ), but the interesting bit is the .22lr fully penetrated the target.

It's an interesting write up; well worth the read.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Happy Caturday

Bonus points if you get this one...

Friday, April 4, 2008

Alleged Bank Robber Leaves Her Photo ID

From the AP

WARREN, Mich. (AP) - A would-be bank robber came away empty-handed but left behind something useful for police: her photo identification. The woman was arrested less than an hour later on a charge of attempted armed robbery, Police Commissioner William Dwyer said.

The woman filled out an account application Thursday morning, then pulled a handgun and demanded cash, Dwyer said. She panicked and fled without getting any money; police found an address on the account application, along with her photo ID.

The address was for an apartment near the bank. The manager gave the woman's new address to police, who arrested her without incident.

"We're probably not dealing with the smartest person in the world," Dwyer told The Detroit News for a story published online Thursday.

Perhaps if Detroit is producing criminals this dumb there's an upside to the Detroit city schools %24.9 graduation rate.

Democrats... voting for Republicans?

I've heard rumors of this for a while, but only on partisan sites. However, now NPR is reporting something odd.

Recent polling shows that almost 30 percent of Clinton supporters and nearly 20 percent of Obama supporters say that if their preferred candidate doesn't win the nomination, they'll vote Republican.

I'd thought that some of the divisions in the Democratic party were largely superficial. Differences on policy positions between Hillary and Obama aren't that significant; hell, some of their own handlers call them "nuanced", which seems code for "once we find out how our candidate is different from their candidate we'll let you know."

Besides that, there seem to have been some obvious attempts to fiddle the Democratic primary results.

The NPR story seems to indicate a deeper division. Makes me wonder if the Democrats will hand the Presidential election to the Republicans, just like they did in 2004.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Chicago schools and handgun bans

So, in addition to city schools underperforming other schools around them, in Chicago there's been a rash of student killings.

The NPR story links to audio; they report 22 students killed this year, 20 of them with handguns.

The handguns statistic is interesting. There have been the usual calls for gun control in the wake of the shootings, but considering that the city of Chicago bans private ownership of handguns, it doesn't seem that the prohibition against handguns has reduced violence.

Banning the tools of self defense only requires law abiding citizens to be defenseless. Time and time again this is proven, and stories like this continue.

Self defense is a civil right.

Rather than preventing people from defending themselves, how about politicians do something about the causes of crime in the first place?

Even an attempt at enforcing the law against those committed to breaking it would be a refreshing change, rather than focusing on inanimate objects. Then again, that might require actual work rather than feel-good bloviating. Who cares how many die, so long as everyone feels like their doing something worth while?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Lies, damn lies, and statistics

As a follow up to yesterday's story about low graduation rates in city school districts, there's this from Columbus Public Schools ( via 10tv ):

According to the group's findings, Columbus City Schools graduated 40 percent of high school seniors in the 2003-2004 school year, Landers reported.

However, administrators with Columbus City Schools said the graduation rate that year was about 60 percent - slightly less than the national average.

So what accounts for a 20% discrepancy in droupout rates? From the same article:

States calculate their graduation rates using all sorts of methods, many of which critics say are based on unreliable information about school dropouts. Under No Child Left Behind, states may use their own methods of calculating graduation rates and set their own goals for improving them.

Columbus City Schools Associate Superintendent Mitchell Chester said the state would soon adopt a new way to calculate its graduation rates.

Oh gee. So the schools get to make up how they report statistics? Wow.

It's a truism that if you can't measure something that something can not be measured. If one gets to redefine how things are measured, then management isn't possible.

The point of management, in this case, is to improve schools based on measurable outcomes. If school districts don't want to "look bad", they should improve their performance as best they can not fiddle the numbers.

Looks like some in the government agree.

I've no idea if that will work, but it's a step in the right direction. At least, if we're to be saddled with the tax burden of public schools we, as a society, should get some return on our investment.

Schools should be more than a holding pen; of course, with drop out rates so high one could argue they're not even good at that.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Report: Low Grad Rates in US Cities

Interesting report from the AP on high school graduation rates.

Nationally, about 70% of high school kids graduate. Not a great statistic, but like most things it gets worse. According to the America's Promise Alliance, founded by General Colin Powell ( Ret. ), the graduation rate for city schools as opposed to rural or suburban, is much lower in some places.

SchoolGraduation Rate
Detroit public schools24.9
Indianapolis Public Schools30.5
Cleveland Municipal City School District34.1

Note that this applies to city schools, not necessarily suburban schools in the surrounding area. From the article:

Researchers analyzed school district data from 2003-2004 collected by the U.S. Department of Education. To calculate graduation rates, the report estimated the likelihood that a 9th grader would complete high school on time with a regular diploma. Researchers used school enrollment and diploma data, but did not use data on dropouts as part of its calculation.

Many metropolitan areas also showed a considerable gap in the graduation rates between their inner-city schools and the surrounding suburbs. Researchers found, for example, that 81.5 percent of the public school students in Baltimore's suburbs graduate, compared with 34.6 percent in the city schools.

In Ohio, nearly 83 percent of public high school students in suburban Columbus graduate while 78.1 percent in suburban Cleveland earn their diplomas, well above their local city schools.

Seems the lesson is if you care about your children, get them the hell out of the city schools.

Hilarious Muppets Bloopers!

Damn... I've no idea who put this together, but they did a great job!

Looks like there's some production notes as well.