December 31, 2003

New Blog Showcase: The Epicenter

I thought this poem from The Epicenter was fun.

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posted by Linda at 07:02 PM : Comments (1)

One Small Step...

I just got a call from the babysitter.

To tell you the truth, seeing her number flash on the caller ID on my workphone made me catch my breath.

As it happens, B.'s had an ear infection this week. It hasn't been fun. We've run the gamut from high fevers, to restlessness, to crankiness, to flushed-cheek playfulness, to hold-me-Mommy/Daddy clinginess. She's been a sick little girl, and I've been fretting over her for days. (I've forgotten everything my spate with the shingles tried to teach me about worrying too much. You look into your child's eyes, see the misery, the flush of their cheeks, and feel the unnatural heat radiating from their small, helpless bodies, and figure out how not to worry. Tell me your secret. And I'll smile politely and still worry anyway.)

Last night was hellish. Poor B. was up and down roughly every half hour until about 1:00 a.m. She, her Daddy, and I are all tired today. Her temperature spiked upwards a little bit during breakfast this morning. Still, I had no choice but to come to work.

So, when Karen called me, my mind immediately jumped to the worst: her fever is up; she's on another crying jag, where she just wants me, and Karen can't calm her; dear Mother Goddess, has she gotten hurt; something's WRONG...

But no. I'm happy to say that my panic was completely unwarranted this time.

Karen was just calling me to say that our little baby girl is embellishing on her accomplishments. She took seven unassisted steps from the coffee table to the couch, and is looking to go some more.

Linda dashes a relieved/happy/proud tear away, and goes back to work.

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posted by Linda at 06:16 PM : Comments (6)
December 30, 2003

Orange Alert Redux

Not long ago, whilst still blog*spotted, I posted an entry about the the current Orange Alert here.

But The Everlasting Phelps has done it so much better.

Why are you still here? GO! Read! Laugh your butt off!

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posted by Linda at 09:22 PM : Comments (0)

Thought Experiment: Redesigning Justice.

An article and a comment have me thinking about the legal system, its fallacies, and what we can do to improve it.

First, in response to a post I wrote about my reaction to the life sentencing of Gary Ridgway, Aelfheld gently admonished me,

"I understand the impulse to inflict horrific pain on someone like Ridgway, but if we are to lay claim to being civilised in any sense we can't succumb to the urge.'

"I'm not saying that Ridgway and his ilk don't deserve to be maimed and tortured - they do. But we accomplish nothing by doing so except to degrade ourselves and diminish our claims to civilisation. The state, as the designated agent of the citizenry, must never act in a capricious or arbitrary manner; this is the reason for the elaborate machinery of the courts, not to protect the innocent, but to ensure that all of the rules are followed as impartially as possible.'

"For Ridgway, execution, public and non-clinical, would be the preferred solution; a public hanging is justice being done and being seen to be done. Incarceration is a sub-optimal solution, but any system formed and executed by man is inherently flawed; I don't have to like it (and I don't) but I do understand how it came about."

Very true. Aelfheld makes excellent points, especially in regard to the responsibility of the state, as agent of the citizenry, to avoid arbitrary or capricious action in regard to the law. Additionally, I believe that it is the responsibility of the citizens to shape the state accordingly; so that appropriate punishments are meted out for crimes committed.

Judging from the comment, Aelfheld and I agree, basically, that the death penalty is sometimes merited. In my opinion, I think Ridgway should be made to suffer as his victims and his families were made to suffer. Aelfheld asserts that the method I proposed in the heat of indignation is beneath a civilized society: if we were to kill him (and we won't--he's imprisoned for life; not consigned to death at the hand of the state), we should do it quickly. I respect that. In retrospect, I even agree.

What was hinted at, but not directly addressed in my post was restitution. I wrote that Ridgway should have been made to pay for his crimes with a slow, painful, and brutal death. (I've since rethought that. One slug, to the head, would be acceptable. Death by injection would be acceptable. But, I digress.) What I was thinking about when I wrote that were the families of the victims. I was empathizing with them, and thinking about what it would cost anyone who ever harmed my daughter.

Again, I was thinking about restitution.

It seems to be on many minds these days. Saddam Hussein's fate, especially, seems to be a matter of ferocious debate. Other legal proceedings: Ridgway's, John Allen Muhammed and Lee Boyd Malvo, Milosevic, and Richard Reid further feed the debate over just punishment.

Today, I ran across an opinion piece by Wendy McElroy on

Ms. McElroy and I are in agreement in terms of the following paragraph,

"For years, I've argued against the idea that categories of people commit crime -- e.g. "men" are rapists, "men" commit domestic violence, "whites" oppress minorities. Equally, I reject the idea that a category such as "society" can be a victim in any legally meaningful sense. Categories do not swing fists, rape, and murder: individuals do. Categories are not battered, violated, and killed: individuals are. The real victims deserve to be the focus of law."
(Of course, the emphasis is mine.--L.)

Ms. McElroy expounds on her position for victims' rights, positing that the taxpayer should be removed from the loop in terms of supporting convicted criminals. She holds that convicts should be made to work in order to provide for their room and board, as well as provide restitution to their victims, or their families. In the event of rapist, the rapist will pay for therapy, medical bills, and the cost of the emotional trauma. A murderer will provide for the family of the person they murdered, making sure that food is on the table, children are cared for, and that other costs, such as tuition, are met.

She also discusses the objections: directly addressing, as above, the crimes of rape and murder. She talks about the desire for vengeance, and repeat offenders. She also acknowledges the possibility of corruption in a restitution-based justice system, such as inmates who are made to work for too little compensation (thus never fulfilling their debt to the victim), or people who are unfairly jailed to feed a cheap-labor system.

She doesn't discuss the death penalty at all.

Now, I am the first to admit that I am no judicial scholar. American justice is just a subject that interests me. A healthy and fair justice system is the hallmark of a civilized society, ands so I like to keep an eye on ours.

This is where the point hangs: law scholars and laymen will argue, ad nauseum about what constitutes "healthy" and "fair" justice. Some people feel that the death penalty is never indicated, no matter what; some, like me, seem to feel that sometimes a perpetrator is just too dangerous to the people to be allowed to live. I'm thinking, specifically, of habitual rapists, pedophiles, and murderers. I'm also thinking of terrorists. I think people who have established a repetitive pattern of predation and human destruction should be removed from our midst with as much prejudice and vehemence as it takes to make sure that they stay in the ground.

In some ways, I'm with Ms. McElroy in terms of a restitution-based justice system. Let the perpetrator make it right with his or her victims, or their families. That way, the taxpayer is removed utterly from the system.

However, I don't entirely agree with all her points. Personally, I am willing to pay taxes that feed the sort of judicial system that provides thorough, fair, and equitable trials so that we can do the best we can, with all our human failings, to make sure that the innocent walk free. Once a perpetrator's guilt has been established beyond a reasonable doubt, they're on their own, though. Let one of two things happen: in what I term mortal offenses such as murder, or rape, kill the convict. They've established that the sanctity of human life, safety, and innocence menas nothing to them. Remove them from our midst with the same level of compassion they showed their victims. True, they cannot make monetary restitution at that point, but the world is nevertheless rendered a little safer. As a taxpayer, I would be willing to contribute to helping the victims or their families get the help they needed to heal.

Other offenses would be punishable with fitting restitution, as agreed-upon by the people through the vote (establishing our mores). The offender would support the victim or the family, and work to pay his or her own room and board. Once restitution was made in full, there would be a meeting of an arbiter, the court, the convict, and those receiving the compensation. The arbiter would help settle the question of whether or not the convict's debt to the victim has been met satisfactorily. If so, then they're freed to try and rebuild their life. If not, they work a little longer. More than two work extensions would become a matter of review by previously uninvolved arbitration and jurisprudents. This might help keep the system clean.

Although the preceeding proposal is mental meandering, and flawed, there is still no question that the current legal system needs review. Ultimately, the face that justice wears does rest in the hands of the people. We must decide upon what constitutes crime, and assign appropriate punishment to violations.

So, let's do a little experimentation and open up some dialog. If so inclined, sound off in the comments about what you think would make up a fair and balanced system of justice.

First, however, are a couple of rules: dissenting debate is welcomed, so long as it is courteous. Anyone who comes in with an attitude, casting or looking for flames, will be summarily ignored and deleted. Obvious trolls will be deleted. Be nice, respect others, and be welcome. Be a dick, and begone. That serves as your one fair warning.

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posted by Linda at 08:20 PM : Comments (3)

Thank you, HammerHead!

I need to say just how much I love my new site.

Especially the template. It was done by the man we call "The Bartender", over at Madfish Willie's Cyber Saloon. HammerHead Blog Design is an awesome place to go for blog designs, assistance, and ideas.

The Bartender was incredible help while I was leaving Blog*Spot. He looked at what I wanted, listened to what I had to say, then came up with a template that completely took my breath away when I saw the finished product for the very first time.

What else can I say? He's just incredible, and I recommend him highly. Anyone looking to design, revamp, or start a new blog site should go straight to HammerHead Blog Designs. I'm positive you'll be as happy as I am.

Thank you, Bartender!!

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posted by Linda at 05:01 PM : Comments (4)

Blatant Anti-Semitism

My blood ran cold when I read the statements made by Michael Neumann in this article from Honest Reporting.

He once wrote,

"My sole concern is indeed to help the Palestinians, and I try to play for keeps. I am not interested in the truth, or justice, or understanding, or anything else, except so far as it serves that purpose...I would use anything, including lies, injustice and obfuscation, to do so. If an effective strategy means that some truths about the Jews don't come to light, I don't care. If an effective strategy means encouraging reasonable anti-Semitism or reasonable hostility to Jews, I don't care. If it means encouraging vicious racist anti-Semitism, or the destruction of the State of Israel, I still don't care." (emphasis mine--L.)

Anti-Semitism isn't a problem, hmmm? Look away, children. Just ignore that madman behind the curtain.

The worst he can do is work to make it acceptable to have you murdered.

What I find unacceptable is that someone like Neumann is still walking the streets, advocating racially based hatred. That, Virginia, is a hate crime.

Here is someone trying to downplay the rise of Anti-Semitism as something minor and forgettable. He's trying to tell us that there's nothing to be concerned about, even though his own statements damn him with hypocrisy.

We live in a pivotal moment in time. Will we stand to do the right thing, and call out the new face of evil, or will we turn away and allow millions to be callously murdered again?

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posted by Linda at 04:39 PM : Comments (1)
December 26, 2003

New Blog Showcase: My Word

Here's my vote for New Blog Showcase:
"The Politics of the Lord of the Rings", by Justin at My Word.

He makes excellent points. The Lord of the Rings trilogy was about fighting to preserve civilization, itself. The world of Middle Earth was teetering on the verge of losing its freedom to an evil, demi-divine tyrant. Tolkien's writings are about the eternal struggle between good and evil. What's interesting is that since its first printing, there has been something relevant for each successive generation introduced to the work. That's the mark of a classic. I'll tell you something else--I've read the trilogy plus The Silmarillion once a year for the last twenty-five years, and with each re-reading, I still find something new. My understanding has grown with my maturity. Although the movies do diverge from the books somewhat, I'm still pleased with New Line Cinema and Peter Jackson, even if I deplore Viggo Mortenson's America-bashing. (Five minutes in a room with him. Just five. That's all I ask.)

There are a lot of good entries over at My Word. I recommend daily visits.

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posted by Linda at 10:54 PM : Comments (5)
December 23, 2003

Nice place!

Linda steps in, and sets her bag down, looking around appreciatively.

So, this is my new home! Tell you what, I really like it here. The light is just right.

Before I get started with the ranting and the raving and the pain, PAIN in the glavin, I need to set up house. To that end, I'll be playing with the template for a bit.

Yes, I really like it here. Lovely neighborhood. I can't wait to have you all over.

I need to go get some stuff, but I'll be back soon.


Update: Testing trackback pings on Civilization Calls! Pinging test post. Let's see if this thingy works!!!

~Madfish Willie~

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posted by Linda at 06:55 PM : Comments (8)

Test Post

Civilization exists precisely so that there may be no masses but rather men alert enough never to constitute masses.
        — Georges Benaros

It was the Law of the Sea, they said. Civilization ends at the waterline. Beyond that, we all enter the food chain, and not always right at the top.
        — Hunter S. Thompson

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posted by Linda at 12:57 AM : Comments (2)