Category Archives: n for news

This crieth out to heaven for some kind of dramatic reenactment

The BBC reports the following shocking story today:

Texas has told the European Union to mind its own business after the bloc called on the state’s governor to get rid of the death penalty.

Oh. My. God. This is the best story ever.

But Robert Black, a spokesman for the Texas governor, told the BBC News website: “Two hundred and thirty years ago, our forefathers fought a war to throw off the yoke of a European monarch and gain the freedom of self-determination.

“Texans long ago decided the death penalty is a just and appropriate punishment for the most horrible crimes committed against our citizens.

“While we respect our friends in Europe … Texans are doing just fine governing Texas.”

“We fought a goldarn war to get you people off our backs! Now, don’t y’all got some cheese to be makin’ ?”

Just look at this spokesman:

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This man’s face could be a Live Journal icon for “Are you fucking kidding me? No, really, you’re serious?”

Oh Texas. I just can’t hate you.

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Yes, I am procrastinating. Shut up.

I read the story on the BBC this morning about the London Olympics logo, and I am much amused that when I went to reread it just now I first found the link for readers’ alternative submissions …. then a forum piece for debate (i.e. complaining) ….. and only then did I find a link for the original story. And the first pull out quote in the article is a link to a piece about the amount of, er, dissatisfaction the logo has generated already. That comment was there this morning so apparently no one outside the instigators likes the thing.

It is pretty godawful. They say it will come in “shades of pink, blue, green and orange” — to which I say they made a big mistake in unveiling the pink. That last link I give above is good reading; it covers the reaction and some of the comments are pretty hilarious. I really like the first entry in their photoset of reader attempts, though.

Now! Back to work!

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No kidding

There is a theory to everything. When I dipped my toes into the world of teacher training, I discovered the vast quantities of theory that have been produced on everything from writing on the board to arrangement of desks to structuring of exam questions. I worked retail for a particularly conscientious company and discovered all kinds of theory on customer service and handling (including the incredibly bad idea that you should read the customer’s name off his/her credit card in order to thank them personally). Librarians, too, have produced vast quantities of mission statements and “best practice” material and they just love to contemplate the meaning of Information and Freedom, both of which they have sworn themselves to protect.

And so, reasoning from the part to the whole, I am not surprised to learn that police officers, too, are subject to theory. What does it mean to protect and serve? Who is one protecting, and what are the limits of service? Etc, etc. Today on the BBC we get a glimpse into that world, fraught as it is with heavy questions of justice in a free society:

Greek authorities have now demanded stricter policing, but this should involve writing tickets rather than opening fire at point-blank range, says our correspondent.

Indeed, I think “our correspondent” has a future in law enforcement, with that sort of keen grasp on the essentials.

Go on and read the whole story, which is every bit as funny and strange as the headline suggests: Greek man shot in double-park row.

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Tell the one about your computer’s built-in cup holder!

Wow. Mad props to the Tribune for giving the task of writing up “fast takes on Web news” to someone who apparently is woefully out of touch with the ol’ tubes. Click to read:

High 5

I mean, really. I feel like someone just walked up to me wearing neon parachute pants and suggested we order some ‘za (totally rad!). Three of these five are hopelessly inane, and ought to be embarrassing. Let’s review:

1. Dell hasn’t used that slogan since its pitchman got busted for pot, which happened in 2003, unless they’ve revived it without my knowing. While it can be used effectively in relation with this story, this botched parody makes it sound like the author thinks the slogan is current.

2. Facebook has been open beyond college students for a pretty good chunk of time now (Sept 2006), and even before that, faculty and grad students could have accounts. So not only is the smirky teens versus grown-ups “joke” obnoxious as hell, it would have been inaccurate last fall even if slightly more appropriate and timely.

3 & 4. AOL and Larry King are fair game.

5. …. *gobsmacked* ….. Seriously, this lost wallet joke would have been old-fogeyish ten years ago. Leave it to Doug Larson, dude.

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Is that like butter?

 The BBC reports:

The idea of hospitals recording violent crime has now spread south of the border. One hospital in London has piloted the scheme and it will soon be extended across the capital, according to Det Chief Supt Chris McDonald, head of Operation Blunt, the knife cream taskforce at the Metropolitan Police.

Knife cream? Ew.

I can think of three possibilities:

  • Bizarre typo for “crime”
  • Allusion to the concept of “cream of the crop”
  • Something I really don’t want to know about

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Mad props

Is it because I’m in the research business (so to speak) that I think this article about hobby aviation from the NYT is sorely remiss in not even mentioning the EAA?

The article is good so far as it goes, exploring the reasons why the field is shrinking and skewing older (funny how those go together). But by not speaking with the EAA, they’re missing out on the other half of the picture — and what I consider to be a really remarkable example of an organization tackling a problem head on.

The problem is as described above. The solution?

  1. Conduct a survey asking how pilots became interested in flying, which reveals that the number one reason was some sort of personal contact with a pilot who took them up in his own plane.
  2. Create the “Young Eagles” program whereby member pilots are urged to volunteer their time and expertise to give curious kids free rides in airplanes.

This was funded by a large initial donation, and some later funding including a gas rebate program through Conoco (I think). A database was created so kids could find a participating volunteer in his/her area, and members were challenged with numerical goals. They’ve flown more than 1.3 million kids since they started in 1992 or 1993.

I can’t help but be impressed by that. I don’t know how well it’s working out for the field as a whole (the existence of the NYT article might not be a good sign, although these kids are all still pretty young). But way to identify the problem and address it. And the method seems as likely to work as any, with the added advantage of being fairly simple and grassroots.

I won’t even go into the discussion of women in the article; suffice it to say, it’s interesting.

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Compassion and forgiveness

The BBC reports on Virginia Tech memorials and notes a trend of including the gunman in the count of victims:

The Reverend Howard Anderson drew comparisons between Cho’s bloody rampage and the carnage in Iraq, but he also called for compassion for the gunman.

He too is a child of God, and a victim of the social stigma attached to depression and other mental illness which prevents people from getting the help they need,” Mr Anderson said.

I’ve bolded what I think the Reverend should have stuck to. This is the salient fact for Christians; this is what counts. “Victim of the social stigma” etc? Personally, I think this is debatable and has to be assessed in light of the relevant facts; but the big point is that it doesn’t matter. We include Cho and pray for him not because he “wasn’t really at fault,” whether or not we decide he wasn’t wholly culpable. We pray for him because Christ told us to love our enemies and not to judge the state of other people’s souls, because every person is a child of God, and because we have faith in God’s mercy — not to mention the fact that life and death are full of mystery that we cannot comprehend.

This is a difficult thing. Perhaps some people would be angered by it.* But it is what we are called as Christians to do, and we must trust that our example will be a sign of hope in the world, even if the immediate reaction is, “I always knew those Christians were nuts.”

* I don’t say this to be an annoying martyr-type. What I mean is, it’s perfectly understandable to be concerned about the reaction your words might cause. The forgiveness angle is, after all, a very idiosyncratic one, and it makes sense to try and bring in some outside justifications that don’t rely on faith; this happens all the time with chastity advocates, pro-life campaigners, etc. But I think in this case, it would be better just to speak for your own selves: we pray for him because this is what we believe.

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