Friday, March 28, 2008

Police Punked by Root Beer Pong Party

A Wisconsin high school student who was suspended from a dance team for being in Facebook photos drinking from red plastic cups (apparently all red plastic cups contain alcohol, fun fact), decided to get back at the school by throwing a tongue in cheek root beer kegger:

So Zebro, an 18-year-old senior, devised a plan to show that things are not always as they appear. He bought a quarter-barrel - of root beer - and a tall stack of red cups, and he spread the word that the party was at his house in Kronenwetter, a village just outside Wausau, on a Saturday night this month.

"There were keg stands and root beer pong and all that, so it looked like a real party," he said. The idea was to post photos on the Internet and fool the school, he said.

Police showed up because of a complaint about cars blocking the road, and an officer administered breath tests to 89 teens.

Surely, someone had to be drinking right?
Every kid blew 0.0.

[..]

With each negative breath test, the crowd cheers and shouts out encouragement like, "Good form." One guy flaps his arms as he's blowing into the mouthpiece. Several seconds of the song "I Believe I Can Fly" was edited into the video for that scene, and even the officer can be seen smiling.

[...]

Dustin Zebro admits that no one should assume root beer is always the beverage of choice for these or any other high school seniors. Plenty of underage drinking goes on.

We have a tendency to believe the worst when it comes to kids this age. It's refreshing to be wrong about that sometimes and to find a houseful of soda-chuggers, even if they're doing it ironically. That's easy for me to say, of course, when it wasn't my house packed with 89 teenagers.

Kudos to Dustin for throwing it in the face of the Police and High School for their blatant ageism and profiling. One last point...Zebro admits one should not assume that teens are drinking root beer...but why is it better to assume that teens are drinking alcohol? Sure underage drinking goes on, but so does a lot of soda guzzling, chip munching, pizza partying, and video gaming.

Copy of the video on YouTube:

Thursday, March 27, 2008

1950's PSA: Beware of Homosexuals

Oh.My.God.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Somers Passes Draconian Sex Offender Ordinance

Draconian action, from a municipality in the Kenosha Area, that could have untenable consequences:
SOMERS - Despite assurances from a Department of Corrections official that the department does a good job at supervising sex offenders, the Somers Town Board on Tuesday unanimously approved an ordinance that will restrict where sex offenders can live.

Board members Vern Wienke and Ben Harbach were absent, but with three of the five board members present a quorum was still met.

The ordinance prohibits registered sex offenders, who did not previously live in the town, from residing within 2,500 feet of schools, churches, parks, trails, day cares, places of worship and wherever children gather. Convicted sexual offenders who previously lived in Somers will be prohibited from living within 500 feet of those places.

Additional requirements include barring convicted sexual offenders from living within 2,500 feet of each other and requiring offenders to notify the town of their residence.

Under the ordinance, violators - the offenders and those who rent to them - would be fined $500 per day and could face up to 90 days in jail.
Besides the fact that retribution AFTER sentencing is completely unethical and not jurisprudent, this ordinance will do a few things.

1. It will prohibit most sex offenders from locating to Somers from somewhere else (2500 feet is slightly less than 1/2 a mile).
2. It will severely restrict the ability for current residents to live in the city, and could possibly restrict them to areas where residential property is more expensive (500 feet is no insignificant distance).
3. It will either create a complete physical impossibility, or it will extirpate most if not all sex offenders from the town.

Naturally, municipalities in the area will seek to mitigate what they will undoubtedly see as an exodus of pedophiles marching into their schools, churches and homes, to feed on innocent children everywhere. This mitigation will involve the use of similar draconian measures that in the end could prove disastrous for sex offenders as well as every other citizen. We have seen this happen before...
The men have flocked to the Ced-Rel and other rural motels and trailer parks because no one else will, or can, have them. A new state law barring those convicted of sex crimes involving children from living within 2,000 feet of a school or day care center has brought unintended and disturbing consequences. It has rendered some offenders homeless and left others sleeping in cars or in the cabs of their trucks.

[...]

Of the more than 6,000 people on Iowa's registry of sex offenders, 400 are now listed as "whereabouts unconfirmed" or living in "non-structure locations" (like tents, parking lots or rest areas). Last summer, the number was 140.

[...]

Before September, Sheriff Zeller said, he knew where 90 percent of Linn County's sex offenders were living, and today he knows where slightly more than half live. Just before Christmas, the sheriff said, one man began spending his days inside the sheriff's office because he had no where else to go.
Further evidence:

Federal law requires states to create registries of offenders convicted of sex crimes or offenses against children. And it mandates that local law enforcement agencies provide information to the public about sex offenders living in the community. But Georgia went a lot further and enacted restrictions on where offenders on the registry can live and work.

Suddenly, aging Alzheimer's patients were being evicted from nursing homes that were near playgrounds, and 18-year-old boys who'd had sex with their 15-year-old classmates were ordered out of their family homes because of a neighboring family day care center. People had to quit long-term jobs because their workplace was too close to a church.

[...]

In passing its law, Georgia looked to Iowa, which pioneered blanket residency restrictions in 2002. Today the Iowa County Attorneys Association says, "The research shows that there is no correlation between residency restrictions and reducing sex offenses against children or improving the safety of children." The Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault said the number of sex offenders who are unaccounted for has more than doubled since the law went into effect.
With research showing these methods to be ineffective, and with no positive results to be seen, why in the hell do we keep doing this? Why do we continue to undermine civil liberties to enact unconstitutional and unethical ordinances/laws/statutes that have absolutely NO positive effect?

Two reasons that I propose:

1. Society always has its witch to burn.

2. Society votes for politicians who are "tough on crime."

Forget however, the fact that the State Legislature passed a Statute barring municipalities from proposing such an ordinance:
State law prohibits a town from passing such an ordinance, contending that zoning in unincorporated areas must be handled by the county. But town officials say it's not a matter of zoning - it's a matter of health and safety.
Give me a break.

Friday, March 21, 2008

God Hates Wisconsin

As if we hadn't seen enough snow, Winter decided to extend is death grip upon Wisconsin:
Remember that whopper of a storm on Feb. 6 when nearly 12 inches of snow closed the malls, schools and made for treacherous driving?

"This will be something quite similar to that form with what we are seeing right now," meteorologist Tom Zajdel said this morning of the 10 to 15 inches of snowfall predicted for southeast Wisconsin by the National Weather Service.
Godamnit.

The Sad Truth About Relationships

Found here.



Hah.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Global Warming on Hiatus?

Could this be a sign that maybe we don't really understand the phenomenon of Global Warming? Or maybe the whole thing isn't as bad as we originally though:
Some 3,000 scientific robots that are plying the ocean have sent home a puzzling message. These diving instruments suggest that the oceans have not warmed up at all over the past four or five years. That could mean global warming has taken a breather. Or it could mean scientists aren't quite understanding what their robots are telling them.

This is puzzling in part because here on the surface of the Earth, the years since 2003 have been some of the hottest on record. But Josh Willis at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory says the oceans are what really matter when it comes to global warming.

In fact, 80 percent to 90 percent of global warming involves heating up ocean waters. They hold much more heat than the atmosphere can. So Willis has been studying the ocean with a fleet of robotic instruments called the Argo system. The buoys can dive 3,000 feet down and measure ocean temperature. Since the system was fully deployed in 2003, it has recorded no warming of the global oceans.

Don't hold your breath, however. Heat has been flowing from the water to the air (aka El Nino). This phenomenon can be the reason why global air temperatures have risen while global sea temperatures have actually dropped by a small degree. The rise in global air temperatures have caused an increase in sea levels, due to the increase in the melting of Antarctic glaciers.

However, the increase in sea level cannot be accounted for with only glacial melting.

"But in fact there's a little bit of a mystery. We can't account for all of the sea level increase we've seen over the last three or four years," he says.

One possibility is that the sea has, in fact, warmed and expanded — and scientists are somehow misinterpreting the data from the diving buoys.

But if the aquatic robots are actually telling the right story, that raises a new question: Where is the extra heat all going?

Time will tell.

One Day, Several Protests


Associated Press - March 19, 2008 11:44 AM ET

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - San Francisco police have made the first arrests in what is expected to be a busy day of protests in the Bay Area.

A police spokesman doesn't have an exact number, but says a handful of people have been arrested outside of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.

The protest outside the bank is 1 of several planned throughout the day in the Bay Area.

A rally and march is also planned this evening at San Francisco's Civic Center.

San Francisco police have extra officers on duty, with a spokesman saying officers will work to keep protesters from closing streets and blocking traffic.

A march and protest is also planned outside the Marine recruiting station in Berkeley.

Berkeley police say they'll have 50 to 60 extra officers on duty to help with crowd control.

Protests and candlelight vigil are also planned in San Jose, Palo Alto and Oakland.

The main groups responsible for the protests are ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) and DASW (Direct Action to Stop the War), who organized the events on the fifth aniversary of the invasion of Iraq.














click here to learn more



Wow, That Didn't Last Long

Looks like the 3/4 point cut didn't help:

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stocks fell on Wednesday as investors sold stocks to take profits after Tuesday's Fed-aided rally, while a sharp drop in oil prices drove energy shares lower.

The Standard & Poor's index of materials stocks fell 4.9 percent as persistent worries about a recession and the health of the U.S. economy weighed on commodity prices.

On Tuesday, the S&P 500 made its biggest one-day jump in more than five years after the Federal Reserve cut short-term U.S. interest rates by 75 basis points. The Fed's decision, which was expected, brought the benchmark fed funds rate for overnight bank loans down to 2.25 percent from 3.0 percent.

The Fed knew this might happen, so why did they make such an aggressive cut?
"What you're probably seeing right now is simply profit-taking. People have decided that they got what they can out of the Fed meeting and they are now taking some money off the table," said Peter Jankovskis, director of research at OakBrook Investments LLC in Lisle, Illinois.
Business using the Fed? Never would have expected that...

Lhasa Riots on Tape


Tibetans in Lhasa riot, caught on tape by Australian journalist:
Will China be able to save face in time for the Olympics? Or will de facto martial law be imposed like in 1989?

More from the AP:

Beijing has learned a lot about controlling unrest since 1989. While China contained the fallout from crushing Tibet protests that year, its bloody quelling of the democracy demonstrators in central Beijing stigmatized the government and set back the economy for several years.

The government has since poured resources into building up police and paramilitary riot squads. Protests have become commonplace in China in the past decade, by workers laid-off from restructuring, bankrupt state industries and farmers displaced from their land by development. Police have developed a play book for dealing with these incidents - keep the protesters in a confined area, defuse the situation with payoffs or promises, and settle scores later.

Beijing has tried to stanch unrest and buy Tibetans' loyalty in recent years by investing billions of dollars in the region, lavishing spending on infrastructure projects.

Yet the flood of Chinese migrants that money brought and ever tightening restrictions on Buddhist observances left Tibetans feeling marginalized in their homelands. The riot-control plans that have proved so effective elsewhere in China also seemed to fail on March 14, as Tibetans briefly seized parts of Lhasa.

With foreign governments holding off calls for a real boycott and independent media given little access to Tibet, there are worries that China will resort to quick brutal measures, leaving Tibetans more angry and alienated.

"There's a number of people outside in the free world who also believe China's hopes for the Olympics is a window of opportunity. I believe it's a window of opportunity," said Lodi Gyari, an aide to the Dalai Lama who conducted a fitful dialogue with Chinese officials that broke off in 2006. "The Chinese themselves have created this global image. Tibet is precisely the image they wanted to avoid."

And that is the reason why I don't think China will be as violent in their reaction this time around.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Meeting David Wilson

No, not me silly.

Meeting David Wilson is a feature length documentary about the enduring legacy of slavery in today’s young black society.

David Wilson, a 28-year-old African-American journalist, journeys into his family’s past to find answers to America’s racial divide. Along the way he meets another David Wilson, the descendant of his family’s slave master. This discovery leads to a momentous encounter between these two men of the same name but whose ancestors were on the opposite sides of freedom. Through DNA testing, David determines his African roots and returns to his native land.

MSNBC TO AIR WORLD PREMIERE OF “MEETING DAVID WILSON,” FRIDAY, APRIL 11 AT 9 P.M. ET
“Today” Correspondent Tiki Barber To Host Documentary
90-Minute Live Conversation About Race Moderated by NBC News’ Brian Williams To Air Immediately Following
Entire Event To Stream Live On MSNBC.COM
Ford Motor Company Is Presenting Sponsor Of Event



This ought to be good.







The Fed Strikes Again

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Federal Reserve on Tuesday slashed a key interest rate by three-fourths of a percentage point, moving aggressively to contain a credit crisis threatening to push the country into a severe recession.

The latest action brought the federal funds rate - the interest that banks charge each other - down to 2.25 percent, the lowest point since late 2004. It marked the second back-to-back cuts of three-fourths of a percentage point.

[...]

In explaining its actions, the Fed said that it was having to navigate a difficult policy environment that included sluggish economic activity and rising inflation pressures.

The Fed statement said that "the outlook for economic activity has weakened further" but that "inflation has been elevated" with some signs that expectations of future inflation pressures are rising, a dangerous sign for the Fed.


No shit. Inflation? Could it be from the prolific and perpetual rate-cutting that the Fed has been doing? Could it be a result of the liquidity generated by the Fed? Could it be a result of the constant borrowing of a culture that has been raised with a dependency on credit and debt, which ultimately demands more money be put into a system than there is money to pay back? The direct consequent of which, is further generation and devaluation of currency?

And when bubbles held together by artificial value and credit dependency finally burst, you see what we see now: a breakdown starting in one small market that will finally spread to all others because of the bullshit economics we have been utilizing. And of course, the Fed's only response is that something HAS to be done (which translates into developing more debt for the sake of Wall Street). Sometimes, as painful as it may be, no action is better than trying to prop up a system that is inherently doomed to crashes like this.

Mish also has a great article HERE on the problems of too much liquidity and "liquidity traps."