Purse snatching at it’s worst.

You know, purse snatching is one thing, but fingers?!?:

Pinkins drove by a 55-year-old woman at about 2 p.m. on Wednesday, swiped her purse and stepped on the gas, Gwinnett Police Corporal Illana Spellman said.

“As the suspect drove away, one of the victim’s fingers was pulled off,” Spellman said. – [Yahoo/AP]

Now seriously, I can see why somone might decide to snatch some old ladies purse. Not that I agree with it, mind you, but I can understand a ne’er-do-wells motivation for doing so. But taking her finger? That’s just wrong. I’m not OK with that. It’s not like he could do anything with it. Seriously.

If an old/older lady gives you that much resistance when you try to grab that purse, please, people, in the name of all that is decent, just let it go. Osteoporosis is a serious problem nowadays. Some of these older ladies limbs ain’t as strong as they used to be. Next time you might have to take her whole hand. Or even an arm. Who knows where it’ll end.

I guarantee you, trying to flee with an old ladies arm in tow ain’t cute. Just trust me on this.

Woman’s finger torn off during robbery – [Yahoo/AP]

Free room, board (and laundry) for hobo and forest friend alike…

I’ve been noticing an unusual trend in modern day home invasions lately:

Appleton police received a call Wednesday of a burglary — not of valuables but of food.

The burglar apparently entered the unlocked apartment and walked away with a pizza, six eggs, a can of beef ravioli, a can of peaches and one chicken-and-broccoli Hot Pocket, authorities said. – [Yahoo/AP]

Score! Whoo boy! Somebody’s gonna have a feast tonight!! Honestly, I pray that I never get desperate enough to walk into someones home and steal dinner. And a little breakfast. And most definitely not Hot Pockets…

This next one is awesome. In a narcoleptic kind of way…:

Police say a man returned to his apartment last week to find an intruder napping in his bed. The accused burglar, Mark William, didn’t wake up until police placed handcuffs on him while he was snoozing. – [Yahoo/AP]

Or it’s just plain dumb. Yep. Break into someones home, and the proceed to take a siesta. Brilliant Idea. He must of thought he was Goldilocks. Come to think of it, Goldilocks was a freakin’ burglar! She certainly fits the profile. Breaking and entering, petty theft, even checks out the furniture, probably to see if they were worth anything, and falls asleep.
Maybe that what got this dude in trouble. Bad Bedtime stories. A little golden haired burglar role model. Except without the three bears. Or the porridge. And he forgot that bears don’t call the police. Waking up to find himself in the proverbial “braces” had to suck. That’d be a wake up call for real. We really need to revise some of our old bedtime stories!!

The next one is just classic:

Ethel Sanders told people she heard noises in her laundry room and found a man standing in his underwear near the washing machine when she went to investigate, police spokesman Officer Eric Gallichant told the Press-Register. – [Yahoo/AP]

I can only imagine what this guy was thinking: “Hey, there’s nobody home! And look! I’ve got a set of dirty clothes! Let’s do some laundry!” Brilliant!! Didn’t even check to see if anyone was home. Heh. I mean seriously, if you’re gonna be standing in someone laundry room in naught but your tighty-whiteys, ya might wanna make sure nobody’s there to walk in on you with a firearm. Just a thought…

But you know what’s even better? When the burglar isn’t even human…:

A man awakened by a bump in the night went to investigate and found an intruder, but it wasn’t a burglar. Instead, Blaine Harling found himself face to snout with a black bear that had come in through an open window.

Yikes!

“He walked into the kitchen and it was just standing there, about three feet away, in front of the refrigerator,” Harling said. “So he grabbed the first thing he could which was a shampoo bottle, or a lotion bottle, something like that, and he whipped it at the bear and then he took-off back down to basement.”

Umm, yeah. A bottle of lotion is a great black bear deterrent…

Jill Harling said her grandson created more of a mess by splattering the lotion bottle off the bear’s head than the bear did. She and her husband, awakened shortly after 1 a.m. by their grandson, reached the cabin by about 6 a.m.

“It moved a few things around, ate a few muffins that were left out, pulled the garbage out and spread it around, and left nose and paw prints on mirrors and the TV., but there was no real damage,” said Vic Harling. “It was amazing really. It didn’t even knock over lamps near where it came in.” – [Yahoo/AP]

LOL, imagine that! The human made a bigger mess than the bear! Though you gotta wonder what that bear was doing at the mirror and TV. Had probably snacked on the muffins, checked his biceps/abs in the mirror, sat down and watched some “NYPD Blue”, then skedaddled when he heard the cops roll up?

I’m betting this bear was one of the ones that Goldilocks burgled. Payback sucks don’t it!! :) ! OK, I’m making it official. If my home is ever to be burgled, I would prefer that it be by a black bear. Bears like caves anyway. It’ll probably feel so at home, it will fall asleep on my bed after eating up everything in my cellar. But at least it will take out the garbage for me before it leaves…

Contrary to what the evidence might suggest…

You know, one of the things I find amazing about the current administration is how flexible their definition of events and scenarios are. And how they see whatever they want to see, and declare whatever they see fit, ratified by presidential decree. Even when it is obvious as the light of day that the truth is actually contradictory to the presidents view of things.

Like the President declaring “Mission Accomplished” without having achieved any of the stated mission goals. Or that the national outrage about the war in Iraq is little more than the opinions of a focus group. Or even that global warming is a natural phenomenon. Or that you can win a war with terrorists using conventional warfare. Or that you can introduce national stability into a country torn by civil war using the aforementioned conventional warfare. I could go on, but I think the picture is abundantly clear.

But then again I’ve never governed a country. But when former presidents of said country begin to speak out against the current administrations actions then, well, hey there has to be some merit to it right? Apparently not.

Former president Jimmy Carter, in a recent interview, called out the president on the issue of prisoner torture and the violation of human rights, in regard to:

… secret Justice Department memorandums supporting the use of “harsh interrogation techniques.” These include “head-slapping, simulated drowning and frigid temperatures,” – [CNN Politics]

The Prez’s response?:

Responding to the newspaper report Friday, Bush defended the techniques used, saying, “This government does not torture people.” – [CNN Politics]

The white house response?:

After reading a transcript of Carter’s remarks, a senior White House official said, “Our position is clear. We don’t torture.” – [CNN Politics]

Well OK then. I am by no means an authority in torture, however slapping a person upside the head until they sing like a bird, sounds like torture to me. I mean, it ain’t exactly the same as a swedish massage now is it? But if the President and White house officials say it’s not torture, well then I stand corrected!

But if I slap my next door neighbor cross-eyed while attempting to find out what he did with the lawn mower I lent him last year, I better not hear any lip about it from the peanut gallery. And I’ll sue whoever calls the police…

Death by Mad Stinkfoot…

It is a rather disturbing thought that it is actually possible to get stabbed to death on account of telling someone their feet possess a, shall we say, “malodorous” quality…

William Antonio Serrano, 20, was charged with murder.

“Serrano and the victim, who are roommates, got into an argument in which the victim told Serrano his feet had a foul odor,” police said in a statement. “At that time, Serrano retrieved a knife and stabbed the victim numerous times.” – [Yahoo/AFP]

Given the actions of this guy immediately after the incident, I have no doubt in my mind that this is a textbook example of amygdala hijacking. However amygdala hijacking is only part of the problem. It usually occurs as a response to something else. And some of these “other” things are downright stupid.

Ya know, people today are entirely too quick to anger, often over trivial matters. Or even absolutely weightless words. What happened the old “sticks and stones” adage? How can someone become mad because they were told their feet stink?

If it’s true, well, I would think that a considerate human being would apologize and try to do something to remedy the problem. If it’s false well, then, why get your tighty whiteys in a twist about it? Let alone get so mad that you stab another human being a few times over it?

Our social values are totally jubar.  It seems like everyone has a right to thier own opinion, except where it disagrees/offends with someone else. Then it auto-magically turns into insensitive blasphemy. I will never understand.

Death. On account of stinky feet. Unbelievable.

Roommate killed over ‘stinky feet’ – [Yahoo/AFP]

Kids NEED discipline and guidance people…

I frequent a number of social help sites and message boards. I do it to help me understand people better. I do learn a lot, but I am constantly struck by how often people tend to confuse issues. Especially when it comes to raising kids. Like spanking. And discipline. Or never learn important life lessons for themselves.

I am all about letting kids learn to be their own person, but they need somewhere to start. A good framework to base their character on. If you want them to become positive, productive members of society, they need to be taught values/ethics and morals. They cannot learn these things on their own.

I have been quite vocal on this blog about the problems of society in general being the result of a lack of parental child raising discipline. Or, even worse, the parents teaching kids the wrong lessons. The results of this is all around us. And the evidence is equally salient. Here are a couple of examples:

A 12-year-old British boy appeared in court Wednesday charged with assault for throwing a sausage at a pensioner, police said.

Hmm. Odd… Let’s read on…

The youth, who can’t be named, was arrested after a 74-year-old man reported him to police for throwing a stone in Manchester, northern England.

The object turned out to be a cocktail sausage.

“Charging was the only option because the boy had previously been issued with three reprimands on separate occasions,” a Greater Manchester Police spokeswoman said.

OK, this kid obviously has issues. What was even more disturbing to me was the way this kids mother responded to all of this:

The boy’s mother described the decision to charge her son as “an absolute joke,”

The boy’s mother said her son was worried he might be sent to prison. – [Yahoo/Reuters]

Now it may just be me, but it sounds like this kids mother is more worried about the penalties her son may face, rather than the fact that on 4 separate occasions (including this latest instance), her son has acted in an undisciplined and inappropriate manner? Didn’t she feel the need to discipline her child for that behavior? How about making him apologize to the pensioner? How about being a parent?

This kid is in court because he is unruly and inconsiderate. Or more likely, his mom has let him become that way. He is NOT in court because he threw a cocktail wiener at an old guy. Perhaps it is extreme to have to go to court for being a rambunctious kid, but if you’ve had the police called on you 4 times already, then obviously something has to be done.

I realize that there are cases where discipline is difficult, and I can only speculate on what is happening in that household, but from what I’ve read, I think MOM should be in court. Much better motivation to discipline her kid. Or not. But at least that way, when she shows up in court, it will be because she made the conscious decision to let her son do whatever he wants, and is willing to bear the consequences of both of their actions.

If I had done that to my Mom, she would have been mortified! She probably would have handed me over to the police herself! The thing is, the very first time I did something like that, I would have been severely disciplined. Regardless of whether it was a spanking, being disallowed to go hang out with my friends, no pocket money that week, whatever, I would have been taught that what I had done was wrong. It doesn’t matter what specific method was used, I would have learned not to do it again.

Instead, this kids mom probably defends everything he does, and he is now in court. He probably still doesn’t truly realize that what he did was wrong. What’s even worse is that he may still get off because he is a juvenile. Saddest of all, is the possibility that he will never learn anything from the experience because his mom will probably tell him that none of this was justified, and that he has been victimized by the authorities.

His antisocial behavior will continue, now with an added hatred for the police, and any/all authority figures. And when he finally grows up and decides to join some criminal organization, and a pursue a life of crime his mom will spend many a sleepless night asking herself where she went wrong raising him… Or not. She may keep cheering him on regardless. And yet we wonder why our kids are so jacked up…

Here’s another example, a worse scenario, with a rather blatant display of parental ignorance:

A mother and father are facing charges they encouraged their 13-year-old daughter to fight another girl. Debra Sue Grubb, 33, is charged in Kanawha County Magistrate Court with misdemeanor battery after allegedly forcing her daughter Gabrielle to fight 14-year-old Megan Willis near the Grubbs’ home on Aug. 15, Trooper J.M. Comer said Wednesday.

Are you kidding me? I could understand a parent telling their kid to stand up for, or defend themselves against bullying, but this?

At one point, Grubb allegedly grabbed her daughter by the arm and used her daughter’s body as a weapon to knock Megan to the ground.

Thomas Leon Grubb, 35, is charged with misdemeanor assault. Comer said Grubb is accused of threatening to harm two boys who were with Megan if they tried to break up the fight.

“It turned into a mess,” Comer said. “The two parents allowed this to happen when it should have been handled by the parents.”
- [Yahoo/AP]

You know, I almost don’t even know what to say about this. Obviously these parents never learned that violence is not the solution for everything. In fact it sounds like the kids may have been better off without their involvement. Much like the irate cussing YouTube parent I talked about before, the problem here is that even the parents don’t know any better. The only thing that might save the kids is if they end up being more intelligent than their parents, and figure this out on their own.

Then I run across parents on the message boards I was taking about earlier asking how to get their kids to do things like chores, dishes, cleaning, homework, even their own freakin’ laundry… It amazes me… Parents, your kids need discipline. The whole spanking /non-spanking issue is stupid. It’s in your head. Spanking is only abuse if you use it to vent your frustration. When used correctly, it is a tool, just like any other. And there are many of them. Use your head. Use what you know will work. Try a bunch of different things.

Just use them correctly. You can still psychologically abuse a child if you misuse a non-physical punishment. Do not punish out of anger, or out of frustration, or out of weariness or fear. Use these tools for discipline. To teach important life lessons. To teach them to be considerate of others. To be good human beings. Kids need this in order to become healthy adults. Do not deny them that opportunity.

Boy in court for throwing sausage – [Yahoo/Reuters]

Parents accused of encouraging fight – [Yahoo/AP]

Killers: Life, death, and the gray paradox in between…

Given that earlier today, I posted my opinion on what I think the criteria of a true “killer” is, I find it ironic that I should run across an article dealing with the ethics of the death penalty for a person who meets the legally circumscribed definition of a “Killer”:

“The European Union notes with great regret the upcoming execution in the State of Texas,” the Portuguese presidency of the 27-nation bloc said in a statement.

Texas is expected to hit the 400 mark on Wednesday — putting it far ahead of any other U.S. state — with the execution of Johnny Ray Conner for the 1998 shooting of a grocery store clerk.

The European Union, which on Tuesday called the death penalty “cruel and inhumane,” is opposed to all capital punishment and has called for its worldwide abolition.

“There is no evidence to suggest that the use of the death penalty serves as a deterrent against violent crime,” the statement said, adding that its irreversibility meant that miscarriages of justice could not be redressed. – [Yahoo/Reuters]

What I find most interesting about this article, is the EUs objection to the death penalty on the grounds that it:

  1. Has not proven to be a deterrent against violent crime.
  2. Is cruel and inhumane.

Oh really? I might actually have bought reason one, if the sole purpose of the death penalty was to be a deterrent to violent crime. But most of the people whom I think would think deserve the death penalty are people who could watch someone getting brutally massacred right before their eyes without batting an eye, and proceed to enjoy a steak dinner like nothing happened and then sleep like a baby that night. IMHO The death penalty is not a deterrent. It’s cleanup.

That’s not to say that the death penalty couldn’t be a good deterrent for the more normal types of killers. It’s just that nobody thinks it’s going to happen to them unless they actually see it happen, up close and personal. Humans are visual creatures. If you really want to make an impression on them, you have to show them. How many people you know have actually ever seen an execution occur? I’m willing to bet few to none. So how exactly is it intended to be a deterrent?

And point 2 is laughable at best. Is life in prison supposed to be less cruel than death? Sure you’ll be alive, but it won’t exactly be a picnic either. Many who get life ending up serving a reduced sentence anyway due to bing killed in prison. And inhumane? There are such things as humane executions. Is death by lethal injection inhumane? I don’t think so. If I had to go, what better way than to just fall asleep an never wake up again. Quick and painless. I don’t think it gets any more humane than that.

Now obviously, I have no intrinsic objections to the death penalty. There are some people who will never be able to function in a socially constructive way, and can never be rehabilitated. And I think these people only pose a continuing threat to the well being of everyone else, and can safely (in my opinion anyway) be removed from society. But there are problems.

The biggest problem, is the only valid objection I saw in the article. The fact that the death penalty is irreversible, and if there is a mistake there is no way to rectify it. I can’t argue that, because our legal system has many flaws. Innocent people are found guilty and the guilty walk free. On the basis of that alone, we ought to abolish the death penalty. Not because it’s not a good solution for eliminating incurably violent criminals from society, but because the system too flawed to accurately determine who really deserves that penalty.

The legal system, for all of it’s massive and highly detailed rules and regulations, is still run and decided by living, breathing, human people. Each person has different belief system, different ideas of right and wrong, and different thresholds and tolerances for things. And few cases feature objective and irrefutable evidence like a video camera or an audio tape that tells the whole story in an accurate and objective manner. The judge and jury often has to make assumptions and decisions based on assumptions. It’s just isn’t morally or ethically responsible to base anyones death on human assumptions and feelings.

But even if the system could determine with 100 percent accuracy who should get the chair, we can’t kid ourselves about what we are doing. There is a paradox to this way of thinking. We are, in effect murdering a person in cold blood. Yes, we are doing it to save the lives of others that we know could be killed if the killer is allowed to continue to live. But we are being killers ourselves, simply because do not have, and cannot come up with, a better solution. Imagine that. We have no imagination…

EU urges Texas to halt executions before 400 mark – [Yahoo/Reuters]

Booty call, or the cat gets it…

This world has got some seriously jacked-up people folks:

Caswell was angry at his ex-girlfriend for not coming to his house Friday night. So Caswell drugged her cat “Romeo” with human medication and then castrated it with a box cutter. – [Yahoo/AP]

What kind of a man castrates his ex-girlfriends cat for being denied a booty call? I actually cringed just reading the article…

Man arrested for castrating ex’s cat – [Yahoo/AP]

The often hidden psychological effects of war…

I just read a very sad story about the brutal assault of an civilian Iraqi family in their own home.

A military jury on Friday found a soldier guilty of rape and murder in the slayings of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and her family.

Jurors deliberated much of Friday evening before convicting Army Pfc. Jesse Spielman, 22, of conspiracy to commit rape, rape, housebreaking with intent to commit rape and four counts of felony murder.

Military prosecutors did not say Spielman took part in the rape or murders, but alleged he went to the house knowing what the others intended to do and served as a lookout. Spielman had pleaded guilty on Monday to lesser charges of conspiracy to obstructing justice, arson, wrongfully touching a corpse and drinking.

 Spielman’s sister, Paige Gerlach, screamed: “I hate the government. You people put him (in Iraq) and now, this happened.” [Yahoo/AP]

It is hard to know exactly what was going on in this soldiers head while all of this was going on, but we know for sure that at the end of the incident, an Iraqi girl had been raped, and her family murdered in cold blood. The most important point about this incident is not that the brutality and heartlessness of the crime is unusual, but rather the opposite. The ability to kill without hesitation is a requirement in order to be a good soldier. In times of war this is a necessary ability. In a theater where your combatants are just as likely to be women and children, as men, you learn to kill each with the same level of efficiency. The problem however, lies in the other less salient side effects that occur as a result of this kind of conditioning.

What happens when you reach the point where you can look at someone, a race, or a demographic, and no longer see a human being? Just a soft target? Well, in war, it makes you a better soldier. But once you learn to kill people without guilt, what else might you be capable of? And will you have to moral fiber to discern the right from the wrong and act on it? We may never know the reasons Pfc. Spielman went along with all of this. But I can understand Paige Gerlachs’ hatred of the government. She and her family will be forever emotionally scarred by this incident.

But the sad fact is, though the government may have put them in Iraq and trained them to kill Iraqi men, women and children without guilt, it was not the government who made them murder that family. They were not ordered to do so. The did this of their own free will. And I’m sure they are not the only ones to have committed such war crimes. But the actions of few such out-of-control soldiers, if any, will ever be publicized, even if they are caught. And yet they will return to our soil, with this black mark upon their psyche. And that is the ultimate problem with war.

At the end of any war, you will have not only damaged your enemies population, but your own as well, both physically and psychologically. A war of any kind comes at great cost. To both sides. And unfortunately the rewards are sometimes not worth the sacrifices. It is not something to be entered easily or lightly, no matter how strong you may think you are.

Soldier found guilty of rape, murder – [Yahoo/AP]

Armless Driving… Wow…

there are stories that I occaisionally run across that leave me both laughing and questioning at the same time. This happens to be one of them:

A man with no arms and one leg who wouldn’t stop driving despite a long list of traffic violations was sentenced to five years in prison Friday on felony driving and drug charges.

Wiley taught himself to drive after losing both arms and a leg in an electrical accident when he was 13. He has already spent more than three years in prison for habitually driving without a license, kicking a state trooper and other charges.

He once had a valid license, but it has been suspended several times since 1985, according to his attorney. He starts the car with his toes, shifts with his knee and steers with the stump of his left arm. He turns on the lights with his teeth.

In his most recent brush with the law last May, Wiley sped off in a Ford Explorer when police approached him at a convenience store, officials said. Officers pursued, but called off the chase after eight minutes because they did not want to put others in danger, police said. – [USA Today]

I hardly know what to say. While it is admirable that this guy taught himself how to drive in spite of his crippling accident, it is unfortunate that he had the poor judgement to use the one good leg he had left (or the prosthetic replacement for the other) to assault a police officer.

I suppose that it would be difficult for anyone to have to live with the kind of limitations this guy has had to. I’m sure I would hate to have to be tied to one place day after day. I can see why he wanted to be able to get out and about. Things like this prove that being disabled is usually a challenge of the mind. If you can overcome your own or others misconceptions about what you can and cannot do, you find that you really aren’t that limited. It’s just a pity he has so many other problems to deal with.

Armless man gets 5 years for driving – [USA Today]

Hey it’s a Bank Robber! BOMB THE BANK!!!

Our esteemed President has taken up the bull horn, yet again, to warn us of the dangers that Iraq poses to the security of the mighty U.S. of A.:

“The merger between al-Qaida and its Iraqi affiliate is an alliance of killers and that is why the finest military in the world is on their trail,” Bush said. …

… “That’s like watching a man walk into a bank with a mask and a gun and saying, ‘He’s probably just there to cash a check,’” Bush told troops at Charleston Air Force Base. – [Yahoo/AP]

Even if we were in the position of seeing “a man walk into a bank with a mask and a gun” which I still have am not convinced were were, I would point out that our current actions are more akin to blowing up the bank in an attempt to thwart a possible robbery. It’s a no win. At the very least, I can take some small solace in the fact that a good many rational American people have realized the illogical nature of our current predicament. Might does not make right.

That is not to say that we should be doormats. I am by no means a pacifist. Strength and power is a tool, much like any other. And I mean no disrespect or slight to those who have suffered as a result of terrorist attacks, but I believe strength should be used to defend innocence. Not as a tool of retribution, or even control.

Contrary to what many seem to believe, terrorists do not spawn in a vacuum. Nor are they simple lunatics. They are generally themselves recipients of terrorist acts, that have learned to respond in kind. But responding in anger only fuels more anger, and violence only breeds more violence. And right now we are wreaking untold levels of violence upon both the innocent as well as the guilty, and breeding anger like freakin’ rabbits, where there was none.

We are performing the mythological equivalent of attacking a hydra by cutting off each of it’s heads, one by one. And as each head falls, two more grow in it’s place. And even if we eventually kill the beast, and eliminate all of the true terrorists, the survivors of the innocents shall remain, bearing us so much hatred that, much like Heracles, if we don’t wise up, the blood of the hydra will eventually poison us to death…

Bush warns anew of al-Qaida threat – [Yahoo/AP]