Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog
Wednesday 20 October 2010

This caught my eye not only because of its absurdity but also because, at the moment, I'm just outside Cincinnati:

In a stunning twist to a Tuesday Hamilton County jury trial, Najah Johnson-Riddle went from juror to witness.

Johnson-Riddle was one of 12 jurors seated to hear the domestic violence and felonious assault charges against James Capell, 42, of Colerain Township. Capell is accused of - but has pleaded not guilty to - brutally beating a woman in her College Hill home May 30. He is accused of breaking the glass out of the woman's door in the 1200 block of West Galbraith Road, entering her home and using his keys to beat her in the face, then choking her and biting her ear.

Jurors were seated late Monday. The trial began Tuesday. Nelson gave his opening statements, telling jurors what he expected the evidence to prove. Bouchard was doing the same for the defense when juror number eight, Johnson-Riddle, stunned the courtroom and stopped the trial by blurting out she couldn't sit on the jury.

"She said, 'I was the (anonymous) person who made the 911 call,'" the assistant prosecutor said.

"She said, 'It woke me up out of my bed and I saw him beating on her. I thought she must be dead.'"

Her outburst tainted the entire jury because it corroborated statements made by the prosecution and claims made by the victim, Ruehlman declared a mistrial.

Now, that's great work by both lawyers. It shows the prosecutor's top investigative skills along with the defense attorney's stunning ability to voir dire prospective jurors.

(Via Talking Points Memo.

Wednesday 20 October 2010 13:22:12 EDT (UTC-04:00)  |  | US#
Tuesday 19 October 2010

Kooky Christianist and Delaware U.S. Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell failed her constitutional law exam yesterday:

The exchange came in a debate before an audience of legal scholars and law students at Widener University Law School, as O'Donnell criticized Democratic nominee Chris Coons' position that teaching creationism in public school would violate the First Amendment by promoting religious doctrine.

Coons said private and parochial schools are free to teach creationism but that "religious doctrine doesn't belong in our public schools."

"Where in the Constitution is the separation of church and state?" O'Donnell asked him.

When Coons responded that the First Amendment bars Congress from making laws respecting the establishment of religion, O'Donnell asked: "You're telling me that's in the First Amendment?"

Her comments, in a debate aired on radio station WDEL, generated a buzz in the audience.

"You actually audibly heard the crowd gasp," Widener University political scientist Wesley Leckrone said after the debate, adding that it raised questions about O'Donnell's grasp of the Constitution.

Facepalm.

I know some lovely people who live in Delaware. Please, please don't let this ignoramus represent them in the Senate.

Tuesday 19 October 2010 13:53:41 EDT (UTC-04:00)  |  | US#
Monday 18 October 2010 23:51:24 EDT (UTC-04:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink#
Monday 18 October 2010

(Apologies to Bill Cosby.)

The Chicago Tribune reported today that Chicago needs more software engineers:

With a national unemployment rate of 9.6 percent, many people assume employers have their pick of applicants for any job, McCombs said. Not so. Within every down job market exist bright spots, which in Chicago means tech jobs, particularly for software engineers.

The continued growth of the Internet and mobile technology is fueling the increased demand for IT professionals, McCombs said. Computer application software engineers will be the fastest growing job category over the next eight years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which projects a 32 percent increase in the number of computer software engineers between 2008 and 2018. The total work force is expected to grow 8 percent during the same period.

... "I feel we're at 100 percent employment" for highly qualified software engineers in Chicago, said Zach Kaplan, chief executive at Chicago-based Inventables, an online marketplace for materials and technology. The company gets flooded with applications when it posts nontechnical jobs, but it struggles to find software engineers.

So, what about a software engineer with 17 years of experience and (soon to be) two graduate degrees? Would that be worth something to you?

Monday 18 October 2010 15:53:48 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Business#
Sunday 17 October 2010

Via Sullivan, Kenneth Davis at the Smithsonian sets the record straight on our history:

From the earliest arrival of Europeans on America’s shores, religion has often been a cudgel, used to discriminate, suppress and even kill the foreign, the “heretic” and the “unbeliever”—including the “heathen” natives already here. Moreover, while it is true that the vast majority of early-generation Americans were Christian, the pitched battles between various Protestant sects and, more explosively, between Protestants and Catholics, present an unavoidable contradiction to the widely held notion that America is a “Christian nation.”

... Future President James Madison stepped into the breach. In a carefully argued essay titled “Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments,” the soon-to-be father of the Constitution eloquently laid out reasons why the state had no business supporting Christian instruction. Signed by some 2,000 Virginians, Madison’s argument became a fundamental piece of American political philosophy, a ringing endorsement of the secular state that “should be as familiar to students of American history as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution,” as Susan Jacoby has written in Freethinkers, her excellent history of American secularism.

Among Madison’s 15 points was his declaration that “the Religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every...man to exercise it as these may dictate. This right is in its nature an inalienable right.”

Madison also made a point that any believer of any religion should understand: that the government sanction of a religion was, in essence, a threat to religion. “Who does not see,” he wrote, “that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other Religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other Sects?” Madison was writing from his memory of Baptist ministers being arrested in his native Virginia.

On The Daily Parker, Madison's entire essay.

Sunday 17 October 2010 08:33:07 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | US | Religion#
Saturday 16 October 2010

This is one of my favorites, from a road trip through Wisconsin in October 2003:

Full size at The Daily Parker...

Saturday 16 October 2010 15:32:43 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink#
Friday 15 October 2010

Sometimes you can't make these things up:

Chicago election officials say crews will work overtime to reprogram thousands of electronic voting machines that mistakenly list a gubernatorial candidate's name as "Rich Whitey" instead of Rich Whitney.

Chicago elections board chairman Langdon Neal said 530 machines being used for early voting and an additional 4,200 destined for the Nov. 2 election will be reprogrammed and retested.

The mistake in the Green Party candidate's name appears on a review screen that allows voters to double-check their selections and not on the screen where the vote is registered. It also is not on paper ballots, Neal said.

Heavens, where does one go with this...

Friday 15 October 2010 12:19:03 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Politics#
Thursday 14 October 2010

Sullivan gets it exactly right:

Preventing a second Great Depression, which was a real possibility (and not just the jobless recovery we're in, but a full-scale collapse), rescuing the banks without nationalizing them, saving the auto-companies with precision and technocratic skill (I didn't think it would work at all, and it did), re-setting relations with the rest of the world, bringing a new sanity and balance to Middle East policy, taking out 400 al Qaeda operatives, using the myth of the surge to get the hell out of Iraq (for the most part), upping the ante to get a deal with the Taliban and enacting a centrist, moderate law that for the first time in history ensures that anyone can get health insurance in this country ... really, in perspective, pretty damn remarkable.

Politically, he had to deal with a GOP gone insane, and a propaganda machine of such virulence and relentlessness that you can see he is where he is. But although he is right that he lost the connection to us, his supporters, I don't think he could have kept up the hope and change inspiration indefinitely. He would rightly have been ridiculed for not being serious at governing.

[W}hen the GOP take back the Congress, their talk radio schtick will have to face the reality of governing's hard choices. And in that battle for the center, I'd bet on Obama's reason and calm over Gingrich's flame wars, Palin's delusions and Boehner's tan.

If I were buying stock right now, I'd say the president is under-priced.

I bought in 2003, and I'm pretty happy with the returns.

Thursday 14 October 2010 10:04:59 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | US#
Wednesday 13 October 2010

Via Sullivan, the dating site okcupid.com analyzed their 3.2 m users to determine that gay people really don't want to date straight people:

The subtext to a lot of homophobic thinking is the idea that gays will try to get straight people into bed at the first opportunity, or that gays are looking to "convert" straights. Freud called this concept schwanzangst; the U.S. Army calls it Don't Ask Don't Tell.

We combed through over 4 million match searches, and found virtually no evidence of it:

Match Search Returns 
» only 0.6% of gay men have ever searched for straight matches.
» only 0.1% of lesbians have ever searched for straight matches.
» only 0.13% of straight people's profile visitors are gay.

Furthermore
In our dataset, there was not a single gay user, male or female, who primarily searched for straight people.

Of course, actually looking at data is no way to have a political argument.

As a side note, the OKCupid guy who wrote the post, Christian Rudder, found this disturbing bit of data:

I also spent a lot of time looking up match questions to debunk this particular claim. Down in the database I discovered one question with a surprising disparity, not between orientations, but between genders. Like Frodo to the Balrog, I wished I'd never unearthed it.

Come on, people. #facepalm.

I'd like to see a couple of regressions on that dataset.

Wednesday 13 October 2010 10:54:01 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | US | Religion#

Aaron Sorkin responded to his critics on comedy writer Ken Levine's blog:

[B]elieve me, I get it. It's not hard to understand how bright women could be appalled by what they saw in the movie but you have to understand that that was the very specific world I was writing about. Women are both prizes and equals.

More generally, I was writing about a very angry and deeply misogynistic group of people. These aren't the cuddly nerds we made movies about in the '80s. They're very angry that the cheerleader still wants to go out with the quarterback instead of the men (boys) who are running the universe right now. The women they surround themselves with aren't women who challenge them (and frankly, no woman who could challenge them would be interested in being anywhere near them).

The whole thing is worth a read, including Levine's introduction, from which I took the headline to this post.

Wednesday 13 October 2010 09:27:46 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink#
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