Saturday, November 15, 2008

Jimi Hendrix' Drummer, Mitch Mitchell Dies

CNN reports on the passing of Mitch Mitchell, the last surviving member of the Jimi Hendrix Experience.

Mitch Mitchell, drummer for the legendary Jimi Hendrix Experience of the 1960s and the group's last surviving member, was found dead in his hotel room early Wednesday. He was 61.

Mitchell was a powerful force on the Hendrix band's 1967 debut album "Are You Experienced?" as well as the trio's albums "Electric Ladyland" and "Axis: Bold As Love."

Mitch Mitchell had a drumming style that stands out more than most. For example, when I let one of the old tunes run through my head, I rarely even notice the drums. Not so with this guy. As an example I give you Fire.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Michael Vick in Prison for Dogfighting

I know it's old news, but I'm somewhat out of the loop especially when it comes to American football. ESPN reports (almost a year ago) on the 23-month sentence received by the famous athlete. The last thing I knew, over twenty years ago, all the quarterbacks were white. But when I saw this video, I wondered if Johnny Unitas ever did what Michael Vick made look so easy.

I guess you know what I'm wondering. Is two years in prison an appropriate sentence for cruelty to animals? Now, don't get me wrong. I eat no meat because of animal rights, so don't any of you meat-eaters start in on me. I'm just thinking if it might not have made better sense to increase the fines and remedial programs, make him pay millions to animal rights groups perhaps, put him under strict supervision and let him keep playing football. Just look at the talent on that video, which I'm sure you have seen plenty of, I'm the one seeing it for the first time.

Another question is do you think violence towards animals translates into violence towards humans? Is it possible for one to be cruel to dogs and kind to people? What do you think?

One Nation, Under God, Indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for All

Alonzo Fyfe writes very eloquently on his blog Atheist Ethicist about an issue that I haven't followed very closely. Over the last couple years I've seen it in the news, I've received countless unsolicited e-mails from the conservative religious folks, but I could never get too worked up about it. The point seems to be, according to some, the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance and the phrase "In God We Trust" on the money, are a problem.

The Pledge says that supporting a nation under God is as important – as American – as supporting a nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. In doing so, it equates atheism with rebellion, tyranny, and injustice. The national motto simply says, "If you don't trust in God, you are not one of us."

In his statement Alonzo makes reference to fanatical comments made by President Bush about the kind of Supreme Court Judges he'd appoint, only ones who believe in God, and he mentions some extremist comments made at a Veteran's Day ceremony attended by his dad, a disabled vet.

But isn't taking issue with these traditional words equally extremist? Isn't saying that teaching children the Pledge of Allegiance encourages bigotry a bit of an exaggeration? When the religious right makes statements like only God-believing Americans are real Americans, shouldn't we just ignore them? Is it really necessary to remove these words? I don't think so. What about you?

Another idea that comes to me is perhaps we don't need to put a microscope on each and ever word in our traditional American writings. When "Liberty and Justice for all" was coined, we probably still had slavery and denied women the vote. Now, all of a sudden, we have to get so literal with the God phrases?

What's your opinion on this?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

California Dreaming led to Californication

99 Years for Attempted Murder

Courtesy of our frequent commenter Bob S., we have this story, which as he so well pointed out has all the things I look for in a good story to post about.

BROWNSVILLE - A Harlingen teen will spend 99 years in prison for trying to kill a police officer. Jurors unanimously agreed to the sentence.

Is that Brownsville Texas? I know Bob's from the Lone Star State. Does anyone else find that sentence a bit excessive? Wasn't it just the other day we all agreed that the Irish lady, convicted of Attempted Murder for hiring a hit man to kill her millionaire husband, sentenced to 6 years, got a fair deal? Is the Brownsville case another example of the "cop killer" mentality, you know the one in which killing a cop, or in this case, attempting to do so, is so much worse than killing a normal person?

Or is it just Texas justice at work again? Maybe the kid was a really bad pre-teen and with a record like his he deserved 99 years. With the almost complete dearth of detail it's hard to say. Just as it's hard to say anything about what weapon was used and where it came from. But, as our former commenter Tom used to say, weapons in Texas aren't exactly scarce. Tom also said that as a result, folks tended to behave themselves. I guess no one told the teen cop shooter.

The above story led me to another incident in the local news.

BROWNSVILLE - A mentally disabled man is dead. Brownsville police shot and killed him. They say it was self-defense. But relatives of 60-year-old Ricardo Moreno tell NEWSCHANNEL 5 he wouldn't hurt anyone.

What is it with these cops? What is it with the jurors in the first case? I imagine they represent the local populace, so I ask, what is it with these people? Incredibly excessive punishment for a teen offender who shot a cop while brother cops are out shooting up the joint, killing people who don't need killing!

What do you make of these cases? I find them disgraceful to say the least.

The Severed Feet Mystery

CNN reports on the sixth severed foot found in Canada. Some people call this the seventh because in June a hoax was discovered, which according to some maintains the sixth position, I suppose. We've discussed this case before, here and here, but alas the solution remains aloof.

The [newest] shoe -- a left New Balance running shoe -- was found about 11:30 a.m. Tuesday on the south arm of the Fraser River by a Richmond, British Columbia, couple, police said.

The provincial coroners' office said in July that DNA tests determined that two of the five feet -- a right foot found February 8 and a left foot found June 16 -- were from the same male, but they said they didn't know to whom any of the feet belonged.

On the Beyond 90 Seconds web site you can read a very extensive report including all the evidence the amateur sleuth might require to crack the case. has an extensive archive (including numerous videos) concerning the missing feet mystery. The most popular story in the archive is Pig video lends insight into B.C.’s human feet mystery.

I'll take a stab at it. The Portland Oregon mafia, comprised mainly of dangerous Asian sects, has been dumping the dead bodies of their former competitors, who all wear running shoes, in the waters off British Columbia. Gradually, as the bodies decompose, the buoyancy of the running shoes causes them to float to the surface and eventually wash ashore.

What's your theory?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Capital Punishment in America

On the wonderful site called the National Coalition for the Abolition of the Death Penalty there is the following statement which caught my attention and made me wonder.

The United States is moving away from the death penalty because of growing concerns about innocence, unfairness, discriminatory application, lack of efficacy and other reasons, including the ways the death penalty causes more pain for the survivors of homicide victims. These concerns have led to an eight year decline in death sentences nationwide. In 2007, the number of defendants who received a death sentence was at its lowest point since the death penalty was upheld in 1976.

Although I boast unabashedly of always having an open mind, I readily admit to a deep skepticism. For example, as I frequently mention, I shun statistics because I usually question their veracity and relavence. In the same way, I take what I read on web sites with a grain of salt, always considering who's writing and what their agenda is.

About the above statement, I wondered, is the United States really moving away from the death penalty? The stats quoted sound pretty convincing, but I wonder. And, if true, which I certainly hope it is, are the reasons the ones stated: "growing concerns about innocence, unfairness, discriminatory application, lack of efficacy and other reasons, including the ways the death penalty causes more pain for the survivors of homicide victims."

I especially liked the last one. I'm sure if I wrote something like that I'd be immediately hit with prove that with sources or indicate where you got that from. Which is exactly what I'm wondering.

Do relatives of victims get the closure they often talk about by knowing or even witnessing the execution of the killer of their loved one? I'd bet not. I'd bet they poison themselves so deeply with the desire for revenge that they never get over it. On the other hand, I remember a case, sadly a very rare one, in which the father of the victim expressed forgiveness in a Christian sort of way. As difficult as that may be, I'd bet that's the only way to get closure and find peace.

What do you think?

Marlon Brando

Marlon Brando was nominated for eight Academy Awards and won two.

There's something about this scene that gets me every time. The written dialogue is unforgettable and the delivery by Brando is searing.

It's hard to pick a scene from the Godfather because every word Brando uttered in that film was genius. But, here's one I love.

What about you? Any favorites?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Young Murderer

CNN reports today on the case of the 8-year-old who killed his father and another man. There's not that much more in this story than what we already knew. Several people have questioned the motive and mental health of this young shooter. Ron Wood, one of the boy's public defenders, gives this little glimpse:

On Monday Wood said that so far, nobody had stepped up to take custody of the boy.

"We've got an 8-year-old client who is sitting in a detention facility who needs someone to take him home, and we haven't found that person," Wood told KPHO. "The stepmother didn't want to take custody of him. His mother hasn't taken custody of him.

"At this point in time, no one has come forward and indicated they're willing to take [him]."

It sounds pretty cold when the mother and step-mother won't come forward to help. I guess this young boy had some problems on the domestic scene. But, my question is to the capital punishment proponents. Does this defendant get a break because of his age? Yes or no? At what age do they stop getting that break? Does anyone get a break for childhood abuse?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Brian Nichols Guilty of Murder

Brian Nichols was convicted of the murder of four people in a rampage that started in the Atlanta court house. CNN reports that the jury is now going to decide if he faces the death penalty.

Nichols confessed to the killings but claimed he was legally insane and gripped by a delusional compulsion that he was a slave rebelling against authority. Jurors rejected defense arguments that he was legally insane or mentally ill at the time.

Nichols was accused of overpowering Fulton County sheriff's deputy Cynthia Hall on March 11, 2005, as he was being led into a courtroom where he was facing a second trial on rape charges.

Officials say he took Hall's gun from a lockbox and fatally shot three people at the courthouse: Fulton County Superior Court Judge Rowland Barnes, court reporter Julie Ann Brandau and Fulton County sheriff's Sgt. Hoyt Teasley, who attempted to apprehend him outside the building.

Nichols also was convicted of killing David Wilhelm, a federal customs agent, hours later at Wilhelm's home in the Buckhead section of Atlanta.

It certainly sounds like a lame attempt at claiming mental incapacity. And there's no denying that a killing spree like this which was essentially an attempted escape from the second rape charge he was facing, makes him a very bad boy. The defense attorney must have felt this was their best shot, as opposed to the abusive childhood pitch, for example. The jury didn't agree, nor are they likely to in the penalty phase, I would say.

It's a case like this that tests one's resolve concerning abolition of the death penalty. I feel capital punishment is wrong because we should maintain consistency between what we preach and what we do, as a State. If it's wrong to kill, it's wrong for Brian Nichols as well as for the State of Georgia.

One comment by the lawyers really caught my attention because it's exactly the way I often feel on this blog.

They said he has been diagnosed with a disorder that involves delusions of persecution, as well as grandiose thinking.

I strenuously appeal to the readers of this blog for an acquittal based upon the above statement.

What say ye?

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Twilight Zone

I'm just old enough to have seen many of the episodes of the Twilight Zone when they first aired, including this one in 1964. So impressed were we 11-year-olds that it became the talk of the schoolyard for weeks. An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, which appeared in the 5th season of Rod Serling's program, was a short story written by Ambrose Bierce. Wikipedia has the story.

Three Bali Bombers Executed

Indonesia has executed the three terrorists convicted of the 2002 bombing of a Bali night club which killed 202 people. The N.Y. Times reports that in spite of many delays the execution by firing squad was allowed to proceed.

Tied side by side to wooden posts, the bombers — Imam Samudra, Amrozi and Mukhlas, also known as Ali Ghufron — were simultaneously shot in a field on a small prison island off western Java, officials said.

The executions brought an end to years of uncertainty about the fate of the three men, who were convicted in 2003 but whose deaths was put off many times because of government fears about a political or terrorist backlash.

One thing I couldn't help noticing is that in Indonesia a process that they describe as slow with many delays takes six years while ours takes 20. I'm not sure what that means.

Another idea that comes to me is that at first what seems to be a cold calculated crime, planned and executed by sound minds, turns into something quite different with the defendant's statement.

In a letter written several weeks ago and posted on a sympathetic Islamist Web site, Mukhlas said he felt no remorse for the killings. “I am neither afraid of prison nor the death penalty,” he wrote. “I am not content with lenience or freedom. And I was not mournful when accused of killing people in the path of God, and at this moment I’d proclaim: ‘In the name of God, I have won.’ ”

To me a guy like this is not of sound mind at all. He's dangerous for sure, but in my opinion does not merit execution. What do you think? How do these guys compare to the mafia hit men on the scale of culpability? How do they compare to the violent damaged killers?

What's your opinion?