matociquala: (atc)
Trigger warning: Tsarnaev trial.

So, today, May 15th, 2015, a day which happens to be my mother's 63rd birthday, the jury in the Tsarnaev bombing trial sentenced a young man to die.

I live here.

Not in Boston. no. But in the Bay State. I'm in town once or twice a month. I'll never be fast enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon, but I run. I have friends who were there when it happened.

When the attack happened, I was at my partner's house, which is in Wisconsin, and I spent... days... following the unfolding events.

What I'm saying is this is my back yard.

I have lost family members to murder. I am opposed to the death penalty nevertheless, for a variety of reasons I don't feel like discussing here.

This hurts. This all hurts. This isn't the decision I think should have been made. But I am proud of my home for bringing this man in alive, and for providing due process and a civil trial (and there was pressure to do it otherwise.) I am also, simultaneously, deeply saddened that we have chosen a course that I think reflects lingering barbarism in our society.

I read this.

85% of Boston residents would have preferred a life sentence, and so would I. Even understanding that it would have had to have been a life sentence in protective custody, which amounts to a life sentence in solitary confinement.

Is that more humane than death?

I don't know.

I do know that I am not one of the twelve people who will have to live with the decision that was made today, and I know also that I am a coward, because I am grateful for that fact.
matociquala: (criminal minds pentiss and reid back)
So let's talk about Charles Ramsey and Amanda Berry (and Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight).

Let's talk about the fact that Amanda Berry is a hero, and that she rescued herself, her daughter, and two other women from a horrible situation.

Let the record show that she did what she had to do, and if she hadn't, those four women would still be in that house.

Because the media seem to want to cast her and the other women only as victims, and that narrative is a lie.

Let's talk about the fact that Charles Ramsey is a hero, too. Because he saw a person obviously in distress, and he acted. And the fact that that person was white and female, and that he was black and male, living on a job as a dishwasher, and that his police record would be brought up afterward, definitely entered his consciousness; and he did it anyway. Because he saw a person who needed help.

That does not decrease his heroism. It increases it.

Let the record show that he did what he had to do, and if he hadn't, those four women would still be in that house.

And Ariel Castro might be getting away with it for another fifteen years.

And now I'm speaking here as an abuse survivor.

That Mr. Ramsey allegedly has a record for domestic violence is not beside the point; it is the point. It's people who abuse other people, and it's people who help other people. And people can learn better, or make a mistake one time and do something to repair it another.

Ramsey doesn't have to be perfect to be a hero. Berry didn't have to be perfect to be a hero. Michelle Knight was a hero when she delivered Ms. Berry's baby daughter, with no experience and no support, and she doesn't have to be perfect for that to stand, either. Gina DeJesus has no doubt done some pretty heroic stuff in the last ten years or so as well.

Our absolutist cultural narratives do nobody a service. People do not have to be perfect and blameless to be worthy of respect and admiration; they only have to be trying.

And one of the effects of that absolutism is to tell survivors who are not perfect and blameless (and who is, and who who has been abused can see themselves as perfect?) then they are somehow villains too, or responsible, or that they bear guilt for what they've suffered.

Another effect is that people who are capable of making a change may not, because they are scared of how they will be perceived if they aren't perfect.

***

(As for Mr. Ramsey's drug charges: if you don't understand the interplay of race, class, and drug-law harassment, I suggest you do some reading, and understand that middle class suburban white people can get away with a lot more than some black guy from Cleveland.)
matociquala: (writing carnival)
Pastor Terry Jones has announced an intention to call off his Quran-burning, and instead go to NYC to meet with Imam Rauf instead.

Maybe our species does deserve to live.


This morning's news offers a less rosy picture, of course. Jones remains a turd in a human suit.
matociquala: (bad girls firefighters)
I'm so in love with Jon Stewart this morning.

Why yes, this is the post-novel ennui.

Regular service will resume when I have a brain again. In the meantime, I will be consuming media in massive quantities.

Think of it as fertilizer.
matociquala: (criminal minds reid verray parfait genti)
What I had for dinner tonight:

oyster mushrooms sauteed with butter, garlic, yellow onion, thyme, and garlic scapes.
sockeye salmon fried with salt until the skin was crispy
quinoa and brown rice pilaf
mango/green onion/chili pepper salsa
salad of mixed greens with blue cheese and a blood orange vinegar dressing


And a cocktail which essentially boils down to a White Russian, only with Godiva Liqueur instead of Kahlua. Since this delicious creation appears to have no name (I'm sorry, but "Godiva White Russian" is STRICTLY INADEQUATE, Internets!) I hereby dub it the Kiev Truffle. (Which is probably related to the Savoy Truffle, yeah.) (The version without cream would be a Moscow Truffle, I think.) I'm just sorry I couldn't work Illya Kuryakin in there somewhere.

Yes, I did climb tonight. Also, TBRE is working a double shift and I wanted to surprise her with a nice dinner when she gets home at midnight.



One good thing does not fix two bad ones. But it does help us to remember to breathe in anger and breathe out compassion.

In Washington, a white supremacist terrorist has shot and killed a security guard at the Holocaust Museum. I choose to regard it as a symptom that they are desperate, though that makes no difference to the martyrs they make.

And in Ireland, one man's courage awes me. And maybe changes the world a little.
matociquala: (can't sleep books will eat me)
Bad news galore this week already.

SF Author J. G. Ballard has died, as you have no doubt heard. And now word has come down that Stephen Hawking has been hospitalized.
matociquala: (criminal minds gideon light in dark plac)
Via links chased from [livejournal.com profile] criminalxminds, a really interesting interview with TV producer Adam Fierro (The Shield), intelligence expert Col. Stuart Herrington, and human rights advocate David Danzig, as they discuss interrogation techniques, the popular media, and what really works and what doesn't when it comes to information-gathering.

This is in relation to a new media award presented for the first time this year, the Human Rights First Award for Excellence in Television, which is to be given to a show that "depicts torture and interrogation in a nuanced, realistic fashion."

Col. Herrington's comments are particularly revealing:

Terri Gross: You keep saying that professionals know better than to use these kinds of torture techniques. Are you implying that amateurs who really didn't know better who were responsible for putting these techniques into play?

Col. Herrington: I'll do better than implying. I'll say it.


Also, there's a certain amount of discussion, re The Shield, in acknowledging that harsh interrogation techniques are excellent at getting people to tell you what they think you want to hear.

(Yes, I found out about this because Criminal Minds is among the nominees for the first award*. Others nominees include Lost, The Closer, and The Shield.)



I have a bad draft of "Knock on Coffins." Woo.

Today is devoted to cleaning the apartment, doing laundry, and eventually going for a hike somewhere in Simsbury.


*If you are curious as to why, you might check out the s2 episodes "Lessons Learned" (which is at its base a parody of 24, and as such does include the ticking-time-bomb fallacy (also discussed in the above interview)) and "Revelations" (in which we get to experience realistic (as opposed to glamorized) torture and interrogation from the point of view of a sympathetic victim.)

ETA: The Criminal Minds ep won the award, BTW.
matociquala: (criminal minds hotch save your life)
via [livejournal.com profile] cristalia, Jury trial begins for Russia's 'chessboard killer'

Current world's-record holder, apparently. They breed 'em prolific in the former Soviet Union.

I wonder how long it'll be before that particular trophy motif shows up on Criminal Minds. (Oh, yeah, they get the psychology right. Especially the creepy creepy bits. Like Jacob Dawes wanting to sniff JJ.)

(And Hotch upends the box of wedding rings on the table, where they fall and roll and chime like bells.)
matociquala: (problem cat)
Just came home to the news from the Twin Cities. I think everybody I know there has checked in. I'm tremendously grateful you're all safe, and hoping for the best for the injured.

[livejournal.com profile] 1crowdedhour suggests that this might not be a bad time to get your blood donor card punched, and I concur.

ETA: Mppls Fandom check-in thread:

http://community.livejournal.com/mnstf/94019.html
matociquala: (problem cat)
Volokh Conspiracy commenters on Bush's attempted extension of executive privilege, and the case for and against impeachment.

Coincidentally, I'm reading a biography of Geffrie Hudson, 1619-1681.

Some interesting things went on in England during that time period, regarding the relationship between Parliament and kings.
matociquala: (writing carnival)
Item the First:

Bush administrations extends executive privilege.

Bush administration officials introduced a bold new assertion of executive authority Thursday in the dispute over the firing of nine U.S. attorneys, saying that the Justice Department will never be allowed to pursue contempt charges initiated by Congress against White House officials once the president has invoked executive privilege.

The position presents serious legal and political obstacles for congressional Democrats, who have begun laying the groundwork for contempt proceedings against current and former White House officials in order to pry loose information about the dismissals.

In case you're not clear on what just happened? That's a claim of immunity from prosecution.

Item the Second:

I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America,... hereby order:

Section 1. (a) Except to the extent provided in section 203(b)(1), (3), and (4) of IEEPA (50 U.S.C. 1702(b)(1), (3), and (4)), or in regulations, orders, directives, or licenses that may be issued pursuant to this order, and notwithstanding any contract entered into or any license or permit granted prior to the date of this order, all property and interests in property of the following persons, that are in the United States, that hereafter come within the United States, or that are or hereafter come within the possession or control of United States persons, are blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in: any person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense,

(i) to have committed, or to pose a significant risk of committing, an act or acts of violence that have the purpose or effect of:

(A) threatening the peace or stability of Iraq or the Government of Iraq; or

(B) undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq or to provide humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people;

(ii) to have materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, logistical, or technical support for, or goods or services in support of, such an act or acts of violence or any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order; or

(iii) to be owned or controlled by, or to have acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order.


The rest of the Executive Order here.

[livejournal.com profile] pecunium explains what this means.

In short form? If the current administration deems that any person or organization is obstructing the establishment of democracy in Iraq, they can seize their assets.



And pecunium explains the context of both issues some more, also.

Dear Congress:

It is time to invoke inherent contempt and start hauling people's asses before the Senate. It is time to initiate impeachment and censure proceedings. It is time to remember that constitutionally, you are the body with the power to declare war.

And please don't wait until after lunchtime.

Because this is it. This is a constitutional crisis. This is history in the making, right here, right now.

This is the point where we stop them, or the United States of America ceases to be a republic, and becomes a tyranny, ruled by fiat.

matociquala: (criminal minds reid and garcia shit)
...the headline news on NPR sounds like it was written by John Brunner for a scene break interlude in a periapocalyptic novel.
matociquala: (lion in winter broken because you're bri)
Don Imus is an asshole.*

And I support his right to be an asshole.

I also exercise my right not to listen to the bigoted turdbrain, so everybody's happy.

The whole point of freedom of speech, if you ask me, is because it makes it easier to spot the assholes on the horizon.


*But I've got to wonder: he's been an asshole for years. Why are we only just noticing now?
matociquala: (criminal minds reid and garcia shit)
Many of you in North America will have heard of a massive chunk wet cat- and dog-food recall by now. [livejournal.com profile] deannie has done yeoman's work rounding up information sources.

This is serious stuff, and if you feed your companion animals wet food it's worth looking at the list and the lot numbers, as whatever the contaminant is, there have been reports of animals dying due to renal failure.

CNN story here. 

The recall covers... "cuts and gravy" style food, whichconsists of chunks of meat in gravy, sold in cans and small foilpouches between December 3 and March 6 throughout the United States,Canada and Mexico.
matociquala: (david bowie chalk sketch)

via [livejournal.com profile] jonquil

Go here. Read this.

Context is a bitch:
AUSTIN, TEX. — Even if you try to look past the eight-metre-high chain-link fence, beyond the scores of uniformed guards patrolling the perimeter and away from the cameras, metal detectors and lasers, there isn't the slightest evidence of children inside the T. Don Hutto Family Detention Center.

No one is playing outside; there are no sounds of laughter.

But inside the thick, whitewashed walls of this former maximum-security prison in the heart of Texas are about 170 children — including a nine-year-old Canadian boy named Kevin.

matociquala: (david bowie realism _ truepenny)
and, on a far more important note:

Breaking news: young woman dies.

Goodnight, America. Where-ever you are.

(Context, due to link rot:


http://pecunium.livejournal.com/226439.html

)
matociquala: (sf sapphire and steel kiss (darkness))
Link salad (news of the "bite me!"):

FBI documents its agents' reports of abuses at Gitmo.

More.

A court-ordered psychiatric evaluation is to be completed this week on Jose Padilla, the American held without charge for nearly four years as an enemy combatant. Whatever the judge decides, the Padilla case is an extraordinary legal saga that poses significant difficulties for the government...

...According to court papers filed by Padilla's lawyers, for the first two years of his confinement, Padilla was held in total isolation. He heard no voice except his interrogator's. His 9-by-7 foot cell had nothing in it: no window even to the corridor, no clock or watch to orient him in time...

...Another dilemma faces the government as well. Padilla's lawyers contend that as a result of his isolation and interrogation, their client is so mentally damaged that he is unable to assist in his own defense. He is so passive and fearful now, they maintain, that he is "like a piece of furniture."





God told Pat Robertson to expect terror attacks on U.S. soil in 2007.

"I'm not necessarily saying it's going to be nuclear," he said during his news-and-talk television show "The 700 Club" on the Christian Broadcasting Network. "The Lord didn't say nuclear. But I do believe it will be something like that."




In a suspense-filled final day of the legislative session, Massachusetts lawmakers kept alive a proposed constitutional amendment Tuesday that would put a stop to gay marriage in the only state that allows same-sex couples to wed.




Lighter notes:

Googlefixing: all about the "East African Plains Ape." Context on the "East African Plains Ape".




James Nicoll on what the reader is not owed by the writer.

Alma Alexander on "What the writer owes the reader."

What I think I owe you, for your seven bucks: the very best book I can possibly write given the deadline.




Twenty full moons.

.
matociquala: (skinhead fortinbras)
Category 5 Super Typhoon Ioke provokes the evacuation of Wake Island. Ioke, before it crossed the International Date Line and became a typhoon, was the strongest (wind velocity) and the most intense (millibars of pressure) hurricane ever recorded in the Central Pacific.

Here's the JTWC advisory.

*
(thanks to [livejournal.com profile] allocthon for the heads-up)
matociquala: (Player King)
Selected news coverage and opinion from the reading list:


http://fjm.livejournal.com/245648.html

http://katallen.livejournal.com/161546.html

http://mcurry.livejournal.com/37898.html

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