Opposing the death penalty

Several years ago, I changed position and now disapprove of the death penalty, for two primary reasons:

1. If an innocent person is executed, there’s no way to provide recompense.
2. I believe more people would consider a life sentence a worse punishment than the death penalty.

Anti-dp’ers often consider the death penalty particularly cruel. However, it’s logical to believe a person serving a life sentence would live a life of no hope, and would rather end it quickly than live a slow, joyless torture.

Case in point: hundreds of Italian inmates serving life sentences are requesting the death penalty:

[Convicted mobster Carmelo] Musumeci said he was tired of dying a little bit every day.

We want to die just once, he said, and “we are asking for our life sentence to be changed to a death sentence”.

It was a candid letter written by a man who, from within his cell, has tried hard to change his life.

He has passed his high school exams and now has a degree in law. But his sentence, he says, has transformed the light into shadows.

He told the president his future was the same as his past, killing the present and removing every hope.

Kim Jong Il is back!

Kim Jong Il looks cool in shades
(Click to zoom in!)

Thanks to a friend for re-invigorating my interest in the North Korean government with this article: Kim Jong Il captures Japanese artists’ imagination.

It would have been nice to buy a T-shirt or something from there. However, I could have lived quite contently without knowing someone had depicted Kim Jong Il in Japanese-style bondage.

In observing the North Korean media, I eventually burned out. My mistake was trying to check the KCNA’s website every flippin’ day trying to make sure that I didn’t miss anything. The fact is that the KCNA’s not a scarce resource; it’s a gushing geyser of information that’s impossible to exhaust in a reasonable amount of time.

Best headlines from today:

  • Profound Love and Total Dedication to Socialist Motherland Called for
  • Crafty Trick of Japan to Evade Responsibility for Past Crimes Debunked
  • Development of Indigenous National Cooking Culture [and they’re doing this with what food?]

Help! The BBC made me look like a loon!

This BBC article talks about the danger the great apes are in due to climate change and unsustainable human resource consumption.

Basically, it’s stuff we’ve all heard before.

What prevented the article from being completely insipid was this photo of Dr. Richard Lackey:

Unflattering Richard Leakey

He looks rather…well, it’s not the most flattering image.

Conspiracy theory: the BBC’s surreptitously supporting climate change skeptics by casting Lackey in a poor light.
LEP view: It’s entirely possible that he is nuts–although it doesn’t seem like it.

(Sorry if this is disjointed; I’m writing this in 15 second chunks during work while my program compiles.)

Hey, kids! We’re going to Everglades City!

A few weeks ago there were massive wildfires in Georgia and Florida. While there wasn’t anything of that magnitude in South Florida, we had our own blazes. For a few days, there was citywide smoke, which allowed these slightly surreal pictures of the sun. Wearing sunglasses, you could actually look at the sun painlessly for most of the morning.
Wildfire smoke dims the sun Wildfire smoke dims the sun 2 Wildfire smoke dims the sun 3

But a couple weekends ago, the actual problems of wildfires hit home. Coming home from Naples, I took Alligator Alley, a fast tollway with multiple lanes. Before exit 80, they started forcing everyone off because of smoke. That means being diverted to the slower, single-lane US 41. However, it did give me an excuse to visit bustling Everglades City (population: 500). This sign gave me hope that the trip would be somewhat interesting:
Panther Crossing

It was not to be.

It was the kind of trip where you’re sputtering along at 10mph and you see a “Reduced Speed Ahead” sign ahead. It was the kind of trip where the driver gets jealous of the passengers, because at least they get to sleep. It was the kind of trip where you’re so bored, you start taking pictures of flies that landed inside the car because there’s nothing better to do. I tried to pretend I was on a safari, except they forgot all the animals. That wasn’t much help.

I really wish I’d gotten a picture of the “post office” on 41, which was slightly larger than an outhouse.

Sorry for the boring post. But it’s going up, just because it’s finished.

Not so good on the resumé

Cosmic Slam

A couple years ago during the Miami Heat playoffs, some company called Ultimate Sports Force released a set of 3 comic books where the Heat players all turned into superheroes.

You could tell from the cover it would be completely awful (sample here: notice the inclusion of a token white player), and I was completely embarrassed to buy the first issue when it came out. And I never summoned the courage to get issues 2 and 3. Definitely mistake in retrospect.

In 2000, Ultimate Sports Force released “Cosmic Slam”, which contains the unfortunate inclusion of Sammy “No English” Sosa and Mark “I’m not here to talk about the past” McGwire. Nothing like honoring ‘roided-up baseball players on your site a couple years after their reputations have been forever tainted.

Unfortunately, their store doesn’t seem to be working, and the thinking in this corner is that the company is no longer solvent. Their opening movie still shows Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi (also alleged ‘roiders), which only lends weight to this theory.

Who’s your daddy?

DNA

Science doesn’t have all the answers.

Two men, Raymon and Richard, are in a paternity battle. They both had sex with the same woman, on the same night, and now she has a kid. And neither wants to pay child support. So, just give them a paternity test, right?

Problem: they’re identical twins.

That means they have the same DNA, and a paternity test can’t tell them apart. This also means one of them’s the dad and one’s the uncle, and neither of them have enough character to take some responsibility.

I won’t bother to question the mother’s taste in men–although if she liked how one of them looked, it stands to reason she’d like the other. Here’s their picture. (ladies: yes or no?)

ABCNews: Who’s Your Daddy? Paternity Battle Between Brothers

Shed a tear for the Sudanese government

So now we discover a new wrinkle in the conflict in Darfur.

For those of you unfamiliar (which should be very few by now), here’s a brief history: Sudan is a country whose north region and government is primarily Muslim, with a Christian and Animist south. Ever since the 1940’s, when the British merged north and south Sudan, the south has feared the north’s power. There’s been tension and civil war pretty much ever since.

Darfur is a region of western Sudan, in which a militia called the Janjaweed has been raiding and pillaging the last 4 years. Millions of people in the region have been displaced, and even neighboring countries (Chad and the Central African Republic) have seen fighting and an influx of people. Rebels accuse the Sudanese government of supporting and equipping the Janwaweed, which the government denies.

According to this article, an (anonymous) Sudanese official says the Janjaweed initially received equipment from the government, but things have gotten out of hand. A human rights activist had this to say:

“I don’t think raping was planned by the government. Killing and looting and torture, yes, but not rape.”

Oh. Well then. Khartoum’s getting blamed for something they really didn’t plan on. What a pity. Maybe if the UN had known that, they wouldn’t have tried to deploy peacekeepers in the region.

(As a side note, Americans can feel better for not being the only country to have foreign policy influenced by oil.)

AP: Darfur women describe gang-rape horror

Afrol News: UN Darfur vote turns scramble for Sudan’s oil