Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Random thoughts

PRIORITIES
The American people had no problem with kidnapping random and sundry foreigners on foreign soil, guilty or not, and “renditioning” them to torturous regimes under the pretext of national security. We had no problem with funding such tortuous regimes with oodles of your tax money (but God forbid we help working Americans get health care). We had no problem with our agents doing the torturing themselves. We had no problem with the horrors revealed in Wikileaks’ Afghan and Iraq war logs (sorry I can’t link to them as Wikileaks’ site curiously appears to be down). Heck, we had little problem with the insane and counterproductive aggression against Iraq in the first place, even after the WMD fairy refused to show us where those weapons were. But we draw the line at airport pat downs and body scanners?

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NATIONAL 'DON'T USE YOUR BRAIN' DAY
First, there was a national “Don’t Buy Gas” Day protest. Now, there’s a “Buy Nothing” Day. Do people realize how stupid and pointless these one day protests are? Do you seriously think you’re sending a warning to the consumerist economy by refusing to spend a dime on useless crap today but then going out and buying useless crap tomorrow? Is the self-indulgence of empty symbolism really that powerful? If you really want to send a message, don’t change your day. Change your dang lifestyle.

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ACCOUNTABILITY FOR ONE, ACCOUNTABILITY FOR ALL
If teachers should be held “accountable” via their students’ test scores, shouldn’t corrections officers be similarly held “accountable” via their released prisoners’ recidivism rates?

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THE JUDICIARY HIJACKED BY THE MOB
So Mike Huckabee is gloating that he and his fellow theocrats helped oust several Iowa Supreme Court justices who ruled in favor of equal protection of the law for gay citizens. He claimed that the ruling sent a message.

It sent a message indeed: beyond a certain level, we shouldn't have elected judges.

The system here in New York is fine. Trial court judges are elected. But appellate court judges, those who set precedents, are appointed by the governor and approved by the legislature but to a limited term of office. This gives them a certain degree of accountability but shields them to a certain extent from mob fury.

The judiciary is not supposed represent the "will of the people." It's supposed to uphold constitutions, including minority rights protections, regardless of what the hysteria or scapegoat of the day happens to be.

And it sent another message about why electing judges is dangerous: it lends itself to the same corruption of outside money as the election of politicians.


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OXYMORON OF THE DAY
New York’s governor-elect wants the judiciary to intervene in a few close election recounts to ensure that we have a “functioning Senate” in January. It’s amusing that he thinks the courts can impose this. Between being run by boobs and criminals (convicted, indicted and not-yet-indicted), NYS hasn’t had a functioning Senate in several years.

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MONEY WELL SPENT?
The US alone has spent $56 billion on “Afghanistan reconstruction.” For reference, if the US had instead divvied up that money equally and directly given it to the people, that would have put $2000 in the hands of every single Afghan.

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FORTUNATELY NO ONE EXPECTS COHERENCE FROM SPORTS ANNOUNCERS
Soccer commentators should be thrashed for improper use of the word 'unlucky.' Hitting a shot 15 feet over the cross bar or, worse, out for a throw in is NOT unlucky; it's incompetent. Unlucky is the FC Dallas player who scored the own goal on Sunday night.

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RADIATING FURY
Last month, Hundreds of gallons of radioactive water from a cleanup at the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory spilled from a drainage pipe into the Mohawk River in NY’s Capital District, according to an article in the Albany Times Union. A failed sump pump system caused about 630 gallons of tainted water -- containing Cesium-137, Strontium-90, uranium and plutonium -- to overflow into a culvert draining directly into the river, [the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation] reported.

The T-U described these as ‘known carcinogens.’

I can’t imagine why there’s public reticence about the expansion of nuclear power as an energy source.

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