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  • August 23, 2006

    DFL Supporting Schools over the Troops?

    [Posted by james]

    There is no Democratic Party in Minnesota. Instead, we "Democratic Farm-Labor Party," or DFL. Yeah, they're basically Democrats, and are aligned with the National Democratic Party. But they work the words "farm" and "labor" in there like good little socialists, so I at least give them credit for being honest.

    While driving yesterday, I noticed a car with an interesting magnet - it was a flag-colored ribbon, much like the ribbons used to "Support the Troops" -- except that this flag-colored ribbon said "DFL -- Schools" on it.

    It's all fine and dandy if you want to go around making vague claims that you support "schools." Way to take a well defined, thought-out position there, station-wagon lady. You like schools. Woo hoo. Me too. Hey, I also have a favorable impression of roads, perhaps I can get a ribbon for that?

    Just picture it: "Roads." (Perhaps next to an image of a road?)
    How poignant.

    I have to wonder, though - is this ribbon supposed to be making a not-so-subtle point of saying that the DFL supports schools at-the-expense-of the troops? As in "this is _my_ version of the ribbon you doo-doo heads, we should only spend our money on schools!"

    Because if so, it's a fairly offensive magnet. Both the yellow ribbon and the flag-colored ribbon have a long and established symbolism in this country and in many others - they both mean "I support the soldiers." To alter that solely for the sake of making an unrelated political statement is low.

    And it's not just making a statement, it's also a two-fold personal attack on people with a largely-unrelated opinion to the contrary. It's twofold because it's both an attack on someone's position on Troop Support, and also an attack on the fact that people have opinions on things not Schools-related.

    These folks are, in effect, saying 'Hey you with your Support the Troops ribbons, you're idiots, why are you supporting the troops, you should be supporting this other cause instead. Check out my ribbon, it'll tell you a thing or two. see it? see? see?"

    Why do you never see these people attacking other groups? "Kelly Clarkson fans, how can you waste your time and money so, Schools is where it's at! Schools! Schools!"

    I'm not saying that people can't hold the opinion that the Iraq war was not in the country's best interests. And I'm certainly not saying that station-wagon drivers shouldn't be allowed to announce their undying love for all things "Schools," whatever in the world that may mean. But the alteration of a universally known and well-recognized symbol for that purpose is crossing the line, in my opinion.

    Posted by jkhat at 11:44 AM | Comments (11)     
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    August 18, 2006

    Snakes on a Movie Review

    [Posted by james]

    I stayed up late tonight and headed down to Block E , just a stone's throw away from my newish place in Minneapolis, to check out the 10pm Thursday night opening of Snakes on a Plane.

    The theatre was fairly packed, though not full, with a bunch of dorks like myself who have been eagerly awaiting the release. Some people even dressed in costume for the premiere, with best costume going to 2 guys dressed in pilot suits with snakes around their neck. (The crowd cheered when they entered the room. And rightfully so.)

    The movie is pretty much what I expected - intentionally cheezy. Cheezy, but not campy - see, I had expected the movie to be campy, but it wasn't that at all. Instead, it mocks other movies, albeit somewhat surreptitiously at times. For that reason, I think that you have to have a certain appreciation for how truly bad some movie genres (action, horror, romance) can really be. If you've never rolled your eyes during a supposedly-serious movie and said "oh give me a break," then Snakes on a Plane is not for you. (Or maybe it is; maybe you'll think that it's just neat-o.)

    I would definitely recommend seeing SoaP in a packed theatre, preferably on opening weekend. A raucous crowd that "gets it" is what makes the movie enjoyable. (In the spirit of full disclosure, I should mention that we spent a fair amount of time at this fine establishement before attending the showing, so perhaps my opinions are a bit influenced. ;-)

    This movie isn't going to win any awards, and I doubt that it will be even watchable on a home theatre system. But if you're looking for a fun night out this weekend, and if you can have fun laughing at the cheeziness of things like snakes latching on to appendanges dangled above the latrine, then check out Snakes on a Plane. If you get the right crowd, you won't be sorry that you did.

    Posted by jkhat at 01:02 AM | Comments (3)     
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    August 17, 2006

    Judge sets deadline for rapist's castration

    [Posted by Laura]

    I had to post this, just for the headline if for no other reason. But the Times-Picayune article is worth reading.

    A child rapist who volunteered more than a year ago to undergo surgical castration must have the procedure done by Oct. 3 or his case will proceed to trial, a judge ordered last week.

    He has not changed his mind about his punishment, according to Rick Wood, a spokesman for the St. Tammany Parish district attorney. "The delays have got nothing to do with the defendant's willingness to follow through," he said.

    "He is ready to proceed, but they (prison and judicial officials) have not been able to get it worked out medically."

    [...]Criminal justice experts say surgical castration is an extremely rare punishment, a drastic move that indicates not only guilt but remorse as well.

    The recent developments on the JonBenet Ramsay case provide an excellent opportunity to consider child molesters and prevention. I've actually been working on this post for over a week, and I keep rewriting it. The topic is difficult, and information on child sex abuse is hard to decipher and consolidate. Our knee jerk reaction to these cases tends to be "kill them, in the most painful way possible." I understand the righteous outrage people feel when they look at John Couey, when they hear his callous remarks about how he killed Jessica Lunsford, and when they consider how his family facilitated the crime. John Karr, accused of killing JonBenet Ramsey, was 31 or 32 years old at the time the 6 year old was murdered. I just saw video of him admitting he was "with her" when she died, and that it was an accident. He "loves" her. What's odd is that his ex-wife says she was with him, in Alabama, at the time of the murder. Whether he is guilty of the Ramsey murder, he's already guilty of possessing child pornography and has "an extensive criminal record for sexual assaults" and has a warrant out for his arrest.

    We feel a justifiable, visceral disgust for people who steal a child's innocence by rape or sexual abuse. It doesn't feel like justice to just lock them up. We want revenge, especially when they don't show remorse.

    Have your children ever played at a neighbor's home, where the kid your child is playing with has an older sibling? For the vast majority of parents who answered yes to that question, consider the following situation. I have a friend who has a son*. I'll call him X. My friend is divorced, she and her ex are both remarried and both have children with their new spouse. X was molested at age six by a neighbor's twelve year old son. My friend didn't know this, because X never told her. 73.8% of sexual abuse is committed by a friend or neighbor. She learned of it when X, then twelve, was visiting his father and discovered to be abusing (fondling) his five year old half brother. His father, who lives in another state, sent X home and got his other son into counseling.

    Imagine learning that about your son. Imagine getting that news, curling up in the fetal position because you are overwhelmed with grief for what your child suffered, and you never knew. You failed to protect your child. You failed. And now another child has been injured. You wonder how is this not your fault? You should have known. Imagine telling your husband. Imagine realizing that your younger children are potentially in danger from their older brother. They got social services and the court system involved. By this, I mean his own family reported his crime.

    Close supervision and traditional counseling didn't help, and my friend learned that X, now thirteen, was fondling his younger sister. They were having a terrible time potty training her and this turned out to be the reason why. X is now living in a state facility for juvenile sexual abusers who have themselves been abused. (They live out west - as far as I know Louisiana doesn't have anything like this.) Closer supervision, counseling for a variety of issues including impulse control and anger management, are now part of X's daily routine, and will continue to be until he is an adult. He's now part of the juvenile justice system, and his whole life revolves around dealing with his crimes against his younger siblings and making sure that he never does this again. X's mother and stepfather are in counseling, X's father and stepmother are in counseling, along with the younger siblings.

    Characteristics of juvenile sex offenders: · Juvenile sex offenders are typically between the ages of 13 and 17. · They are generally male. · 30-60% exhibit learning disabilities and academic dysfunction. · Up to 80% have a diagnosable psychiatric disorder. · Many have difficulties with impulse control and judgment. · 20-50% have histories of physical abuse. · 40-80% have histories of sexual abuse.

    The program X is in is comprehensive, and there is a lot of hope that he will go on to live a normal life and not victimize other children. Untreated juvenile sex offenders commit an average 380 additional sex crimes over the course of their lives. But comprehensive treatment for sex offenders makes a substantial difference:
    treatment.gif

    Stop It Now
    has some interesting posts by sex abusers.

    For those who sexually abuse, hope means balancing help and treatment with accountability for our crimes and restitution in some form for the harm we've caused to other people.

    Accountability and restitution are not just part of justice for the victim and protection for future victims, they're part of the cure. What is critical to remember is that sex crimes against children are not committed by one monolithic group. Conventional wisdom is that molesters were themselves molested, and that's what is behind their actions - but while true some of the time, it's not predominant. Of adult sex offenders, only 30% have been sexually abused. Pornography, especially child pornography, is frequently a factor. Then too, experts believe that most of these crimes go unreported, so it's obviously difficult to tell what's going on. The statistics are confusing and sometimes seem contradictory - which is why, in a sound-bite world, this topic gets little coverage.

    The particular issue of juvenile sex offenders, who have such a short time "in the system" because of how the juvenile criminal justice system works, needs to be addressed. The most effective treatment results are for juvenile offenders, and treating them is preferable economically to locking them up, and certainly preferable from the standpoint that there will be a lot less human wreckage in their path later. Parents for Megan's Law had some excellent suggestions, which I'll summarize and add to here:
    - Make them register, just like adult offenders. While juveniles enjoy greater privacy rights than most criminals, when that privacy puts others at risk, they should lose it.
    - When they turn 18, they should undergo an evaluation to prove why they should not be added to the adult sex offender registry. The default position should be to add them, and proof of successful treatment should give them the right to not be listed.
    - Treat the entire family.
    - People who purposely shelter sex offenders, juvenile or not, should have to suffer some serious penalty for their actions. On the flip side, some PR for the programs that work, and pushing the fact that treatment can help stop recidivism, would help people understand that there are better alternatives.

    The boy who molested X will go unpunished for what he did. His family moved away long before the truth about X came out, and the police have had no luck in finding them. Given how easy it is to find someone in an age when your Social Security number is tied to many other identifying bits of data about you, and they can't be found living under their own names, it's natural to conclude they're deliberately hiding because they know what their son did to X and presumably other children. There's no reason to believe their son will stop. His family, like John Couey's, enables him to continue.

    Although it is painful for my friend and her family to deal with this on a daily basis, she knows they did the right thing. She loves all her children, and continues to try to do what's best for all of them. She knows that what they're doing now protects scores of children she will never meet. She writes X daily, speaks to him on the phone several times a week, and the family has group therapy regularly, in addition to the several sessions per day that X attends as part of the program he's in. Nobody wants a John Couey in the family, and addressing the problem early and realistically is the best possible chance of preventing it from happening.

    *Some details changed to protect privacy.

    A few sources:
    The Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers
    Stop It Now!
    Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
    National Institute of Corrections - Myths and Facts about Sex Offenders

    Posted by Laura Curtis at 01:54 PM | Comments (0)     
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    August 11, 2006

    The Real 8/10 Plotters

    [Posted by ]

    Forget about the Islamofascists, it's obvious to me who is really behind the "8/10" plot: Procter & Gamble. Think about it. From now on, law abiding citizens will be forced to pack their toiletries in their checked luggage. Because these items must be checked, the overall volume of checked luggage will increase. Even more luggage will be lost. And all of that luggage will contain toiletries that need to be replaced almost immediately. Sales of these items will increase dramatically. Forget about the military-industrial complex. It's time to worry about the hygienic-moisturizer complex.

    Either that, or it's the French. We know all about their fear and loathing of basic hygiene.

    Posted by at 10:59 AM | Comments (3)     
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    August 07, 2006

    How to Attend an Elite University and Not Turn into a Raging Liberal

    [Posted by ]

    All around the country, parents are getting ready to ship their sons and daughters off to college. While they undoubtedly hope they've instilled their offspring with at least some of their values, they're also afraid that wacky, moonbat instructors like the University of Wisconsin's own Kevin Barrett will turn their precious kids into Communists.

    It doesn't have to go down like that. James, BV and I are all graduates of the famously liberal University of Wisconsin. And look at us today! We're not long-haired (well, one of us isn't), vegan, hemp-using members of the Democratic Underground. We made it through Madison and emerged as Reagan Conservatives. With my help, your kids can to. And, your kids can also help themselves. Future college students: use this guide to avoid being indoctrinated. So, without further ado, here are

    Ten Easy Ways To Make Sure Your Child Doesn't Turn Into A College Liberal

    1. Give them a subscription to your hometown paper. Oh sure, the mainstream media is liberal as hell, but they're nowhere near as ideologically pure as the typical campus newspaper. You don't want your child's major news source to be edited by an individual just slightly to the left of Fidel Castro, do you?

    2. Take ILS classes or your University's equivalent. It may sound counter-intuitive to urge students to take classes in Integrated Liberal Studies, but at UW, these classes are basically a crash course in the history of Western thought and science. With a few of these classes under their belt, students will have a knowledge of the important contributions of the West and can refute those moonbats who would like to paint history as a series of exploitations.

    3. Get football tickets. This is a fun one. I maintain that raging liberalism and football do not mix. You can't be Mr. Sensitive Ponytail America-Hater and a football fan. Football is too violent/testosterone-fueled/American for raging liberals. If your kid has football tickets, you can rest assured that they're spending at least one day a week with a normal crowd.

    4. Join clubs based on interests, not ideology. Everyone urges college students to "get involved". But getting involved doesn't necessarily mean protesting the latest perceived injustice in the world (although, if that's your thing, go ahead, you may already be a lost cause). There are lots of interest groups on campus. Wisconsin has the Hoofers sailing and mountaineering clubs, for example. I'm sure other schools have something similar. Student government and protests get all the hype, but there are lots of ways to meet people at school that don't involve holding up signs.

    5. Avoid classic rock. For whatever reason, freshmen listen to lots of classic rock music. Classic rock is nothing if not the soundtrack of the "turbulent 60s". If violent video games can turn kids into homicidal maniacs, then it stands to reason that classic rock can turn them into hippies. Caveat emptor.

    6. Go to parties. Kids that go out and have fun with their new friends are far less likely to turn into raving moonbats than kids who stay in their dorm room "studying" every Friday and Saturday night. Those kids are going to turn bitter. They're going to be mad that other people are having more fun than they are. They're going to want to stop people from having fun. And now they're liberals. It's that easy.

    7. Beware of Brad Pitt Syndrome. We've all been there. You meet someone new. They're amazing. You're captivated by their every word. Before you know it, their interests are your interests. A liberal hottie can lead your son or daughter astray just as easily as a liberal professor. Rather than turn them into Romeo & Juliet, just remind your kids not to lose themselves, and, when they inevitably break up, let them know that it's okay to renounce all that nonsense they were spouting during the relationship.

    8. Rock the boat. Encourage your kids to challenge their professors. Accept their excuse that they received a bad grade on a paper because the professor disagreed with their politics. Remember that it's more important to learn to think than to learn to parrot back some moonbat's crazy theory.

    9. Pick a major with a future. I'm convinced that the world's most liberal people are underemployed philosophy majors. They think they should make lots of money because they're smart, not because there's a demand for their services. Don't let your kids turn into these people. Encourage them to choose majors that will someday make them employable. This doesn't mean that everyone needs to be a business or engineering major, but it does mean that if your kids choose to pursue a liberal arts degree, they should take steps (jobs, internships, etc.) that set them apart and will give them a leg up in the real world.

    10. Get a job. If your kid has a job in college, not only will they have some extra cash, they'll also be avoiding any creeping cases of moonbatism. Kids with jobs have real world experiences to draw on. Unlike their professors, they have a life outside of the Ivory Tower. That puts them one step ahead of academic ideologues.

    So there you have it. Keep this list handy and you'll be well on your way to producing another productive member of the evil Right Wing Conspiracy.

    Posted by at 06:43 PM | Comments (2)     
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    Tour de France Update #7 – Floyd Landis, Go Screw Yourself

    [Posted by BVBigBro]

    Eddy Merckx famously uttered the same phrase to his director while winning the Tour of Flanders one year, and it’s just as appropriate to say to Floyd Landis today. I just want to write a post expressing my disgust with Floyd and the process and say what I think should be done. As you all know by now the B sample for Landis’ positive testosterone test also came back positive, confirming an excessively high ratio of testosterone to epitestosterone and the presence of synthetic testosterone in his body. Now begins a several month process where Floyd and his lawyers will drag cycling through the mud for their own self interest. We have already seen the ridiculously impossible excuses offered. Next we will see the ridiculously improbable excuses offered “I got it from a toilet seat” or “I shook hands with Barry Bonds”. After that the testing methods, always cited by athletes as proof that they don’t dope when they come back negative, will be declared unscientific and unproven. After that the Laboratory, the Tour, the directors themselves and all the organizations involved will be slandered for reasons unrelated to the positive test in an effort to divert attention from the positive test results. Finally, the whole thing will be blamed on a massive conspiracy by “the French”. We’ve been down this road before.

    The fact of the matter is you tested positive Floyd. Twice. You tested positive because you took enough synthetic testosterone to kill an elephant. You said yourself that you won the Tour because you were the strongest (that may be true, but we’ll never know), and now you will lose the Tour because you were the dirtiest. You cheated because you wanted to win and didn’t think you could win without cheating. You cheated because you didn’t think you would be caught. The reason you won’t come clean is that you would then have to answer the unpleasant questions dealing with when you started doping, who your sources are and who helped you. For cycling’s sake, I hope you lose the title, get the two year ban and are banned from the Tour for life. Unfortunately, you represent only part of the doping problem.

    As to Floyd’s fans, you can screw yourselves too. Floyd’s cheating is only 1/3 of the doping problem. The next 1/3 of the problem are fans and the MSM willing to listen to any half assed excuse by dopers instead of to reason and scientific results. Why shouldn’t I cheat when I know fully well an army of idiots will believe me? The media are finally catching on, and I hope the fans will follow. Doping athletes must wake up everyday, give thanks to God and have a long hard laugh at how stupid their fans are. Face it, Landis cheated and got caught.

    The final 1/3 of the problem is the idiotic process by which athletes caught cheating in a sporting event are treated as if a criminal trial is underway. The tests were performed and the results are conclusive. The appeal process was the B sample analysis. Any further appeal is nonsense. This business of lawyers being involved in sports has got to stop now. Athletes + Lawyers + a game = sports entertainment. I don’t want the Tour to turn into sports entertainment.

    For the Tour organizers, you took more shots to the head this year than you could imagine and you’re on the ropes, but you’re still standing. For the sports sake, please recognize that you control the biggest race of the year, bigger than all the others combined. Recognize that if you put your foot down you will get your way. Don’t back off on Landis. Take away his title and let it be known that any team that hires him will find itself uninvited to the Tour in the future. Furthermore, let it be known that that is the policy from now on. You will always have cheats because of the money and fame, but you don’t have to handle them with kid gloves.

    Second, divest yourself of the UCI with respect to anything involving performance enhancing drugs. The UCI is fine for determining bike specs and what to do if the peloton encounters a train at a railroad crossing, but they are an impediment to stopping doping. What you need to do is adopt your own code and standards. Tell the teams and riders that these are the standards, these are the testing methods and these are the labs that will be doing the testing. If you test positive, your B sample will be tested and if it is positive, you, and your team, are gone from the Tour forever. Make every rider and team signs a statement acknowledging the rules and if they won’t do it tell them they can spend July at Superweek. No appeal beyond the B sample, no challenging of the test method (you already agreed to it) no slandering of the entire nation of France. Let the WADA, UCI and the various national organizations do what they want. The Tour, however, is your race and you are free to develop whatever standards you see fit.

    Next, take action against team directors. Too many dopers are coming from the same teams. I applaud T-Mobile’s efforts to fix their problems but the problem is much deeper. When riders test positive, there needs to be action taken against their directors and teams, otherwise they will simply find someone to replace them.

    Finally, take action against the Dr. Ferrari’s of the world. Amend your standards to make contact with such people unsporting. Sure it’s arbitrary and draconian, but so what? These people are threatening the sport and your race; fight back.

    For American cycling, its time we take a long look at what we’ve developed. Four of the biggest doping scandals of the last few years have been Landis, Tyler Hamilton, Roberto Heras and the ongoing Lance Armstrong opera. The common thread here is the former US Postal team. It’s time to acknowledge that American cycling may not be the best but instead the dirtiest in the world. We may be to professional cycling what the East German "women’s" teams were to 1970’s Olympics.

    Read the rest of our Tour coverage.

    Posted by BVBigBro at 10:24 AM | Comments (12)     
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    August 01, 2006

    Real California Cheese

    [Posted by ]

    Dear readers,

    I have a new enemy. Those bitchy California cows. I've thought the "happy" cows in the Real California Cheese ads were merely obnoxious, but with the latest ad they've crossed the line.

    In this ad, the California cow herd gets a new member - a gal with a familiar Wisconsin accent who refers to a strange thing called "snow". Instead of embracing diversity, these old Bettys mock the poor Badger cow.

    I guess that makes sense. California cows know their cheese sucks in comparison to that produced for cows in America's real Dairyland. So all they have left is their "great" weather and city slicker attitudes.

    No thanks and spare the attitude. I'd rather have good cheese. I'll save the California cows for when I'm ready for a nice, juicy steak ;-)

    Posted by at 09:37 PM | Comments (0)     
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    Al Gore Throughout The Ages

    [Posted by ]

    A few weeks ago, I found a great comment in this post about the relative liberalism of "creative" people from Althouse. A "chuckR" said:

    Thirty years ago Al Gore may have been flogging a documentary on Ehrlich's world starvation theories. We are not daily bombarded by news of the latter as a result of the creative Green Revolution work of Dr Norman Borlaug, among others. To the third world, Borlaug may be the single most important American of the 20th century. It sure wouldn't be anyone from Hollywood. Borlaug's creativity stands outside simplistic liberal/conservative categorization.

    I completely agree with the notion that creativity isn't limited to the arts, but what I found most interesting about that quote is the idea of Al Gore as a Chicken Little with a fondness for junk science. With that picture in mind, I'm pleased to present...

    Al Gore Throughout The Ages

    When & Where
    What

    says

    Bronze Age Greece Earthquakes Poseidon is angry! Time for another virgin sacrifice!
    14th Century Europe Black Death Kill the lepers (or anyone with acne)!
    1692 Salem, Mass. Angry natives & poor harvests Hang the witches!
    1930s Germany Economic depression It's the Jews' fault!
    August 2005-Lousiana & Mississippi Hurricane Katrina George Bush! Karl Rove! Iraq! Global Warming!
    Posted by at 12:49 PM | Comments (0)     
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