Monday, July 31, 2006

The REAL ID Regulations

What are these REAL ID Regulations? I have no idea and neither does anyone else at the moment, at least not definitively. The Department of Homeland Security has until the end of 2006 to define regulations associated with state driver’s licenses, the most common form of identification used in the U.S., to make them more secure and harder to forge.

Congress passed the bill but the idea has been running into some opposition by people that think it will amount to turning your driver’s license into a National ID Card. New Hampshire, selected for a pilot program, has balked and I suspect that opposition is just starting to get organized.

In the final analysis, I suspect that the regulations will end up being rather mundane and not include any of the more exotic elements that are causing such an uproar. Before I take a position one way or the other, I’d like to see the final list.

Strangely some Conservative Christian groups are opposed to the idea because, according to one report, they view the law as the fulfillment of a biblical prophecy related to the end times. Such groups refer to scripture that predicts that humans will be numbered by marks on their foreheads or hands.

The passage being referred to is probably Revelations 13:16 “He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead.”

Allow me to make a couple of points here. First I thought the arrival of the end times was supposed to be good news for Christians? Aren't you all expecting to get whisked away in the Rapture before any of the nasty stuff happens? I thought it was just us sinners that were going to suffer?

Second, the “He” in this passage is the second beast, the one that comes out of the earth and forces everyone to worship the first beast. It was the first beast, the one with the ten horns and seven heads, who was given the throne and the authority of the dragon. The dragon of course is Satan who got kicked out of Heaven after a war with Michael and his angels. It was Satan who fell to earth and chased the woman who had given birth to the male child. The male child who was the Christ, but luckily the woman escaped into the desert thanks to a pair of eagle’s wings that she was given. So the dragon got pissed off and proceeded to make war upon all “those who obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus” – Revelations 12:17.

You got that? You don’t want me to repeat it do you? Good, because I almost gagged on it the first time.

No, I haven’t slipped into Milton’s Paradise Lost and I haven’t lost my mind, this is all laid out in Revelations 12 and 13. It’s total gobbledegook and besides, they’re not talking about stamping numbers on your hands or forehead, but simply trying to make driver’s licenses harder to forge.

The people that believe this stuff are mental cases. The synod must have been drunk or hung over when they decided to include Revelations in the canon. I don’t see why anyone would want folks who believe the gibberish of Revelations as allies in any cause. If allying with such people is what it takes to avoid having a National ID Card, I think I’d rather have the National ID Card. Why? Because Conservative Christianity is a much greater threat to my liberties than any silly ID card could ever be.

Heaven, Hell or Hoboken?

That was the inscription on the top of a war memorial in the city of Hoboken outside of John F. Kennedy park. The bottom of the monument had the inscription “Freedom isn’t Free” and the center the seals of each of the armed services including the Merchant Marine.

I’d like to focus on the “Heaven, Hell or Hoboken” question though.

If I had my choice, I’d take Hoboken. From what I’ve heard of Hell it sounds like a downright nasty place and, if Christianity is right, it’s going to be awfully crowded. On the other hand I expect Heaven to be rather sparsely populated with insufferably smug and self-righteous morons. I don’t want to have anything to do with the people Christianity claims are getting into Heaven. I wonder if you can get demoted from Heaven to Hell for acting like a jackass in Heaven?

That leaves Hoboken. The city is Greenwich Village west of the Hudson. One of my regrets is that I will never live in Hoboken. The place is narrow street crisscrossed by narrow street lined with brownstones or modern apartment buildings designed to fit in with the surrounding architecture. There are little parks tucked away in unexpected places and the main drags near the Path Trains are lined with an assortment of bistros and sidewalk cafes. Then there’s the train hub and the open area along the Hudson River. I could be very happy there for a very long time.

Yes we’re talking Yuppieville to a large extent and it’s probably not a great place to raise kids, but it would be a really nice place to live during your single twenties and maybe into your early thirties. That’s the new formula. The old formula of married in your early twenties and a four bedroom house in the suburbs complete with kiddies by the time you’re thirty was my generation’s formula. I did it that way and I never got the chance to live in Hoboken or Greenwich Village. I did live for a year in the Brighton section of Boston but that’s not nearly the same thing.

If you head north out of Hoboken along the Hudson River you encounter a whole ‘nother lifestyle. There are row after row of luxury condominiums, townhouses, luxury apartment buildings, what look to be very expensive restaurants and fancy area names like Port Imperial.

I don’t want to know how much those places cost. I’m certain that’s New York financial district living territory as it seems to radiate out from the ferry area. We have to be talking very high six figures, or even seven figures, of income oozing out of 100 hour work weeks. It’s a lifestyle beyond my comprehension.

So last weekend I got a peek at two lifestyles I’ll never know. Now it’s back to my four bedroom house on a half acre lot on a cul-de-sac. God that’s sounds insufferably dull doesn’t it?

Friday, July 28, 2006

I Have a Splitting Headache! Where’s the HeadOn?

I’m sure we’ve all seen the commercials about “Head On.” You rub it on your head and your headache goes away. I sort of wondered how that could possibly work but was never curious enough to take it any further.

This week’s commentary on the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) site explained it for me. It’s a homeopathic remedy so it doesn’t work outside of any placebo effect it might provide.

Randi’s comments got me to get off my butt to take a look at the Head On site. It was interesting to say the least. Since I wasn’t that familiar with homeopathy I had to go do a quick check on what the dilution measures meant. Terms like 3X and 6X are used. These are equivalent to scientific notation and represent a value of 10 raised to the power of the number. So 3X is 10 raised to the 3rd power or 1,000 and 6X is 10 raised to 6th power or 1,000,000. Some quotes, with commentary, from the Head On site.

“HeadOn® is very safe. It can be used by anyone and as often as needed. There are no dosage restrictions or health risks associated with its use.”

Well considering what you’re doing is basically rubbing WATER on your head I’d say that this is probably an accurate statement. The list of ingredients has a minimum dilution of 6X or 1 part per 1,000,000. One ingredient, Golden Seal, a native American root, has a dilution of 30X or 1 part per 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000!! Like I said, it’s basically water.

“HeadOn® is one of the safest medications available on the market today.”

While I debate that it’s a medication, again it’s hard to argue with the safety of water in a bottle unless someone wants to get into the whole Dihydrogen Monoxide (DHMO) hoax thing.

“The active ingredients in HeadOn® are diluted precisely to achieve 2 important results: the first is to eliminate any safety concerns whatsoever associated with their usage. The second is that by diluting these ingredients, their medicinal properties are released.”

Released? How does diluting something to one part per billion release its medicinal properties? More likely it releases its profit properties as people are paying medicine prices for what they can get out of their kitchen tap. Notice the constant drum beat about safety. First of all water is safe so no one can really argue with the claim and second of all I suspect that one of the major consumer targets of homeopathy are those who are suspicious of drugs in general or have had a bad experience with a side effect.

Well now I get it, so I don’t have to wonder any more when I see a HeadOn® commercial. Now I can just shake my head and laugh.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Fighting in Lebanon

A mixed bag in the news related to the war in Lebanon including, dare I say it, an instance where I actually agree with the Bush administration about something. Do you suppose after that admission the stars are beginning to blink off?

What I agree about is the administration’s position that Prime Minister Maliki has the right to have his own opinions about Hezbollah as well as the right to voice them publicly or not voice them publicly as he chooses. However I disagree with the interpretation that the Democratic Party’s criticism of Maliki is a free speech issue. They’re not saying he’s not entitled to his own opinion, they’re saying they don’t care for his opinion and therefore don’t want to extend to him the privilege of addressing a joint session of congress as a result.

Just because I recognize you’re entitled to your own opinion doesn’t mean I can’t criticize that opinion nor does it mean I have to associate with you if I think your opinion stinks.

In Rome Condolizza Rice has declared the talks on Lebanon not a failure even though the joint diplomatic resolution issued didn’t call for a cease fire. It called for working toward a cease fire with the “utmost urgency.” What a load of crap. How hard is it to say “STOP KILLING EACH OTHER AND LET’S TALK!”

To my mind, any diplomatic resolution related to a shooting war where innocent people, including children, are at risk every day which doesn’t DEMAND a ceasefire is the very definition of failure.

Four U.N. Observers were killed in an Israeli air strike yesterday and the AP is reporting that more than a dozen Israeli troops have been killed in heavy fighting for a hilltop in southern Lebanon. Apparently Hezbollah is turning out to be better equipped, better prepared and a much tougher nut to crack than the Israeli’s expected.

Israeli jets are also reported to have attacked Hezbollah offices in the city of Tyre. Tyre? Didn’t the bible say that Tyre would be destroyed and “never again be found” in Ezekiel 26? Do you suppose this is the beginning of the fulfillment of that prophecy some 2,500 years after it was made? Nah, Tyre has been sacked by the Babylonians, the Greeks, the Turks and just about everyone else but it’s still there, and I suspect it will always be there.

I don’t see an end to this fighting soon. I’ll be happy if it doesn’t spread.

Gay Marriage and the Courts

A court in the state of Washington has joined a court in the state of New York in upholding a state ban against same sex marriages. I also now expect the Supreme Court of New Jersey to uphold that state’s ban.

Believe it or not these are good things. We certainly don’t need a repeat of the artificial backlash against the Massachusetts Supreme Court decision legalizing Gay Marriage in that state orchestrated by the Republican Party just before another election day.

Support for Gay Marriage has gone beyond relying upon the courts to protect the minority’s rights and in many states is rapidly approaching the critical mass necessary for legislative action. It’s not going to happen tomorrow but I expect it to start happening within the next decade.

That will lead to the half and half condition so intolerable to the Supreme Court with some states sanctioning Gay Marriage and others banning it. Would you like me to guess in which region of the country the states banning it will be?

Sometime around 2020 a Supreme Court decision will declare all those laws prohibiting Gay Marriage unconstitutional based upon the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. There will be lots of screaming and yelling from evangelical church leaders and from south of the Mason-Dixon line but it will be the law of the land.

And guess what? The world won’t come to an end. Sky Daddy won’t incinerate the country with lightening bolts and within 10 years of the decision everyone will be wondering what the fuss was all about anyway. I’ll bet someone will even discover that the bible doesn’t really mean what people are claiming it means today but something else entirely so even the infallibility of the bible will be preserved. Oh well, all good things have a cost associated with them.

Death Penalty Update

The New Jersey commission reviewing the death penalty held its first public hearing and got an almost steady stream of testimony against maintaining capital punishment in the state. Legal experts, religious leaders and victim’s families all testified against keeping the death penalty in the state of New Jersey.

Larry Peterson, exonerated by DNA testing of a rape and murder for which he spent 18 years in a New Jersey prison said that he was grateful that jurors in his case chose not to hand down the death sentence sought by prosecutors because "if you take a life, you can't turn around and correct the wrong that has been done."

Larry has an excellent point. Why is it that so many people can't seem to understand this simple fact.

Barry Scheck, co-director of the Innocence Project in New York City, testified that "It's ridiculous . . .to assume that mistakes will not be made. We have demonstrated that there is a lot of error in the system."

Yeah, and especially in Texas, when you have the most executions I guess that it’s only to be expected that you will make the most mistakes. It’s idiotic to assume the degree of certainty required to justify a sentence of death.

Speaking of Texas, members of the Bexar County prosecutor's office, which is investigating whether or not Ruben Cantu was wrongfully executed in 1993, have been caught on tape indicating that they may have made up their minds before talking to those who now say that Cantu was innocent. One ADA was recorded as saying "They're all lying" and another saying "It's going to go forward with the fact that it was justified and everything was correct and that's the way it is."The District Attorney of Bexar County has been criticized for her office not being impartial in the investigation of the allegations of a wrongful execution.

Gee, ya think? Maybe the fact that the Bexar County DA was the judge that set Cantu’s execution date might have something to do with that?

In Arizona a death penalty assessment team from the American Bar Association's (ABA) has recommended an overhaul of that state’s capital punishment system due to serious problems with fairness and accuracy.

Serious problems with ACCURACY! That should make Arizona stand up and take notice but it probably won’t. This is not an area where mistakes can be tolerated now is it?

Both the American Medical Association (AMA) and the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT) have issued public statements reminding their members of their ethical obligation not to participate in legally authorized executions.

July was a bad month with six executions carried out and still one more scheduled. That brings the total number this year to thirty-one, sixteen of which have been in Texas.

The most recent execution was in Virginia and was carried out by electrocution. Here I thought that we had at least gone beyond frying folks to death. It’s the only execution this year that wasn’t done through Lethal Injection. The last use of the Electric Chair was in South Carolina in 2004.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

I'm Sorry Ft. Wayne

Sheesh! Two points in response to the beating I took on the last post. First, I didn't mean to insult Ft. Wayne. When I said it had no redeeming qualities I wasn't being completely honest. Second, it was NORTHWEST airlines and not Northwestern Airlines. I guess I was thinking the whole operation was undergraduate in competency.

Now back to Ft. Wayne. I've spent a lot of time in Ft. Wayne. The trip described in my last post was far from my first trip and probably won't be my last. I am willing to admit that Ft. Wayne has two, count'em TWO redeeming qualities. One, it has one of the nicest airports I've ever been in. It has a nice little aviation museum and even a lounge area upstairs where you can hook up your laptop to the internet for free. Don't have a laptop, no problem, they even supply a courtesy computer that you can use. It's also the CLEANEST airport I've ever been in.

The second redeeming quality is the people tend to be polite and friendly. Naive almost beyond the bounds of belief, but polite and friendly. Sophistication is not high on the list of things considered important there. This strikes me as a conscious choice rather than an unintended result.

There's nothing wrong with this. It's differences of opinion that make horse races and different outlooks on life that makes different lifestyles. I like to hit MOMA, FringeNYC and sleep in on Sundays. If I want baseball on the level of the Ft. Wayne Wizards I'll go see the Newark Bears, the Trenton Thunder or the New Jersey Cardinals. But if I want something world class I can go to Yankee Stadium or Shea Stadium. You have to shlep all the way to Indianapolis to see the Colts. I'm 45 minutes from Giants Stadium with the Jets and Giants. Then there are always the Knicks, the Rangers, the Nets and the Devils.

Besides MOMA there is the Museum of Natural History, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim and dozens of smaller museums. And that's not to mention Broadway, off-Broadway, the PNC Arts Center, the Newark Center for the Performing Arts, the Metropolitan Opera House, Carnegie Hall and the Jersey Shore. Ok, we also have Atlantic City but we try to forget about that. What do you do for excitement in Ft. Wayne, the Three River Festival? Hell, the Hoboken Street Fair is on that level and the Boardwalk in Wildwood is there all summer.

Then try and find a decent bagel there! We used to carry out bags on the plane from New Jersey when we were heading out by private jet. Not because we wanted them but because the folks from Ft. Wayne who had been to New Jersey asked us to!

If you want to get into crime rates and stuff like that, surprisingly New Jersey and Indiana are about equivalent. In 2004 Indiana was ranked 27th and New Jersey only an eyelash above it at 25th. The murder rate was higher in Indiana than New Jersey. Indiana was ranked 20th and New Jersey 25th. So much for the fiction of the Sopranos. The incident of rape was also higher with Indiana ranked 33rd and New Jersey 50th. New Jersey was much worse in robbery though ranked 12th while Indiana was ranked 25th. I mean what the heck is there worth holding someone up for outside of Indianapolis? A tractor?

Indiana voted for Bush the Unhinged while New Jersey voted for Truth, Justice and the American Way! In Indiana they belive in God and the bible while in New Jersey we believe in equality under the law for all Americans regardless of sexual orientation. That's a left handed way of saying we don't have a problem with Gay Marriage.

New Jersey may be the home of "da Family" but Indiana has the dubious pleasure of being known as the Ku Klux Klan state because it's the only state to have ever elected a Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan to the office of governor!

Ok, ok, I'm getting bored with this. I had a similar tongue-in-cheek e-mail conversation with Professor Doug Linder at the University of Missouri-Kansas City about his position that the East Coast and the West Coast shouldn't treat the Midwest like a vast wasteland. He's right about that of course and I probably shouldn't have said that Ft. Wayne has no redeeming qualities. If nothing else, it's not in the South.

I'm sorry Ft. Wayne! I rather be there than in Philadelphia.

Monday, July 17, 2006

What a Miserable Trip

Yes, I’m going to complain. Feel free to roll your eyes and ignore me. I don’t care; venting is such sweet sorrow and it’s cathartic as well. I always feel SO much better after I let off some steam.

I don’t travel much these days. I never liked to travel; getting stuck on the road during 9/11 didn’t do anything to change that attitude and the emergence of the “Electronic Office” philosophy provided an excuse not to travel. That being the case I usually work very hard at staying home, unfortunately, sometimes you have no choice but to pack up and hit the road.

That was the situation last week; I had to schlep to Ft. Wayne Indiana of all places. If you haven’t been there, then take it from me, Ft. Wayne has absolutely no redeeming qualities. Even the corn is unfit for human consumption and is only used to feed hogs. It’s feed corn.

The game plan was Newark to Detroit and then Detroit to Ft. Wayne Thursday evening and then a reversal of the trip Friday. I hate the Detroit airport. It seems that you always land two miles from the mood tunnel that takes you to Concourse C. Concourse C is where you find the puddle jumper jets that they fly to Ft. Wayne. I call it the “mood tunnel” because of the light show and audio as you ride the moving sidewalks.

I spent two hours in Detroit going through three gate changes. The flight to Ft. Wayne is only an hour. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky so I have no idea what the problem was. Overall it took some 7 ½ hours to get from New Jersey to Ft. Wayne. That meant no dinner as it was pushing 9:30 when I finally got to the hotel.

The Ft. Wayne airport was basically in shut down mode when I arrived. Luckily someone was still at the Avis booth. They gave me one of those Chevy HRRs. Was it something I said or did they have to stay overtime waiting for my flight to arrive and were ticked off? Saddling me with an HRR was a terrible thing to do. So much for Midwestern hospitality, not only is the thing ugly as sin but the slope of the roof troubled my ability to see the road properly. I really didn’t like the thing. The hotel was nice though. I stayed at a Marriot Courtyard which is always pleasant.

I did my thing and around 3 PM the next day headed back. I arrived at the Ft. Wayne airport only to be informed by Northwestern that my flight was canceled and they were booking me on Delta. The transfer was not smooth. It took a combination of Delta and Northwestern folks about forty minutes to work it out. Now I was going through Cincinnati.

The flight from Ft. Wayne to Cincinnati wasn’t the problem. It was the flight from Cincinnati to Newark. Let’s see, how do I put this? Basically I was booked by Northwestern on a Delta fight flown by a surrogate local airline pretending to be Continental. No wonder they were having a problem. I flew the same class of puddle jumper jet from Cincinnati to Newark as I flew from Ft. Wayne to Cincinnati.

The bottom line is I ended up sitting in Cincinnati for 2 ½ hours instead of Detroit. Cincinnati has a lot better vendors in the concourse and I managed to eat dinner on the way back. I bought a Quiznos turkey sandwich and munched on it by the gate. Overall it took me better than 9 hours to get home and I crawled into my house a little past midnight.

Air travel really sucks. It used to be merely annoying but now it has progressed beyond annoying into the realm of torturous. I'm definitely going to continue to focus on not traveling. Maybe I could write a book called "Not Traveling for Dummies."

War in the Middle East

Not all that surprising when you come right down to it. Palestine is always on the edge of open warfare. The immediate cause this time around was the kidnapping (capture?) of two Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah forces. In response the Israeli Air Force has been pounding targets in Gaza and Lebanon and now I see that Israeli ground troops have sortied into Lebanon as well.

Incredible as it may sound I actually agree with Bush the Unhinged on this one. The Israeli’s do have a right to defend themselves. As to whether or not the response is appropriate, that’s another question.

I don’t question the proportion of the response. In Heinlein’s Starship Troopers Ron Rico is in Officer Candidate School and his Political Ethics instructor raises the question of prisoners of war not being returned. The class agrees that 1,000 prisoners not being returned is a casus belli, but the discussion bogs down when they try to identify a lower bound Is it 100, 10, 1? Rico finally gets frustrated with the instructor’s attitude and gives him the Cap Trooper’s answer. It doesn’t matter whether it’s 1,000 or 1, you fight. To Rico’s surprise, the instructor agrees. The number is irrelevant, it’s the principal that matters and the principal states that you protect your own. Regardless of the consequences, you never leave a man behind, and an attack upon one is an attack upon all.

What is unclear is whether or not the target of the response is appropriate. Does Lebanon really have any control over what Hezbollah does?

In the meantime Bush and company at the G8 summit got trapped by an open mike that they were unaware of including Bush’s use of an expletive to describe Hezbollah’s actions. Tsk, tsk, and here I thought the Unhinged was a nice Christian lad.

I’m not a pacifist. I prefer peace to war and I consider conflict a last resort but I’m smart enough to know that sometimes peace can only be found on the other side of war. Is Fundamentalist Islam a force that can be negotiated with and a philosophy that the west can live peacefully with? From what I know of our own Christian Fundamentalists I have to say I doubt it. Tolerance for other ideas is a foreign concept to these people. If they have any power whatsoever they will cheerfully crush anyone that disagrees with them or who doesn’t follow their rules. You can’t negotiate with a fanatic.

What you can do is encourage the more moderate elements of these movements. These people you can negotiate with because they don’t really adhere to the same medieval philosophy. As soon as I discover any moderates in the Islamic Fundamentalist movement, I’ll let you know.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Not Much Going on?

Every once in a while you have to catch yourself when you’re leafing through the news and you begin to say, “Gee, there’s not much going on.”

The problem is that even on a so-called slow news day, there are terrible things going on. Children are missing, people are on death row, Bush is still in office, the troops are still in harm’s way in Iraq and every day there are more that will never come home again.

I’m sort of reminded of the old question, “When does a minor problem become a major problem?” Answer, “When it’s YOUR problem.”

I’ve got a few problems, we all do. Because they’re my problems, they appear catastrophic. Yes, a piano just fell on your head but at least your car battery hasn’t died on you. Your problems are minor and nothing to worry about, but mine are major crises that I have to worry about.

I understand the psychology but it doesn’t stop me from worrying. Sucks, doesn’t it?

Ken Lay and Forgiveness

Ken Lay, who took Enron down the tubes while lying about the health of the company all the way, is dead. Ken Lay hurt a lot of people. He cost them their life savings or pensions and many of them would have liked to see him as the cell mate of Bubba for the next 20 years or so. They feel cheated that he kicked the bucket.

I don’t blame them and not only that, I agree with the New York Daily News which, in its inimitable blue collar earthy style, ran a banner headline saying that someone needs to make certain that he’s really in the box when it gets buried. After seeing an article that his assets have stopped being seized due to his death, one has to wonder.

I mean we‘re talking very rich, friend of Bush the Unhinged and Texas. Let’s remember that as recently as last year this is the guy that could afford to rent a boat for his wife’s birthday for a cool $200,000. I wouldn’t exactly call him repentant so it wouldn’t really surprise me if Ken is sipping iced Tropical Surprises on a private beach somewhere near Tahiti and its some poor homeless schnook with a resemblance that’s actually in the box.

Anyone in Texas that comes in contact with demised homeless folks suddenly come into a load of cash? Calling all Investigative Reporters in Texas, this could be your big chance. I’d check this out if I were you.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Death Penalty Update

The Alito and his fellow conservative Supremes may have restored the Death Penalty in Kansas, but the New York Assembly has again blocked a Death Penalty restoration bill by a whopping 13-5 margin and two Federal District Court judges have found problems with lethal injections in both Arkansas and Missouri. In Arkansas a stay of execution for one inmate was granted while in Missouri all executions have been suspended. So Missouri joins California, Illinois and New Jersey as a state with a judicial, an executive or a legislative moratorium in place.

Two Chicago Tribune reporters are claiming that Texas, yes Texas again, likely executed an innocent man in 1989. This is starting to get ridiculous. Hello Texas, are you paying attention? If so, then why aren’t you doing something about this?

Dr. Orin Guidry, president of the America Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA), has issued a memo reminding members that the ASA has adopted the American Medical Association's position that doctors should not participate in executions and strongly urging members to "steer clear" of any participation in lethal injection executions.

The statement was in reaction to the Missouri ruling where the court said that a board certified anesthesiologist needed to be present.

Dr. Deepak Chopra has joined the chorus of people that are pointing out that the death penalty in the U.S. is irrational. It does not deter crime, risks innocent lives, and isolates the U.S. among the majority of First World nations making us look like a third world despotic regime. Hey wait a minute, with Bush the Unhinged in the Oval Office we ARE a third world despotic regime!

So even a New Age Woo-Woo like Chopra can figure out that the Death Penalty is a bad deal, so WTF is wrong with the rest of us? Is it that we’re not paying attention or are we too busy with counting the days until the next round of American Idol that prevents us from rising as one and putting an end once and for all to this idiocy?

In the meantime, the machinery of execution grinds on. There have been 25 executions in 9 states this year including 13 in Texas, a state that stories of mistakes and incompetence keep appearing about. There are 26 more scheduled including 11 in Texas and the first execution in South Dakota since executions resumed in 1976.

The execution in South Dakota is a volunteer, an individual that has waived all additional appeals. A volunteer was executed in Connecticut last year which was that state’s first execution since 1976. As a matter of fact all four executions that have occurred in the Northeast have been of volunteers. If the South Dakota execution occurs, then it will reduce the number of states that have passed Death Penalty statues but have never used them to four, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey and Kansas.

300 Million People

I saw a headline in the paper the other day that the U.S. population is approaching the 300 million mark. Ouch, no wonder no matter where I go it's too damn crowded!

Seriously, that a lot of people. My calibration point is the population counter from the 1964 New York World's Fair which was showing, if I remember correctly, around 173 million. So we're talking about a net gain of almost 130 million people in 40 years.

Like I said before, no wonder everyplace is too damn crowded.