Monday, October 29, 2007

killing you softly with my words

A favorite word of mine through the years has been, “non-sequitur.” I suspect the hyphen is not correct because it is taken directly from Latin (so “non” is a word rather than a prefix) meaning, “it does not follow.”

Although it is a favorite word (or two-word combination) of mine, I cannot ever remember uttering it in context. Seems to me to be not quite fitting of coal trash to have such a robust lexicon. When I think of such things, I recall leaving the courthouse one day (I had a hearing of some kind in a neighboring county). I walked past a group of lawyers that did not give me, a lawyer from away, even a nod. One was saying to the group, “… not sure, I mean, he couldn’t even propound an appropriate inquiry!” Wasn’t a reference to my courtroom work (I’m a good propounderistarianer), but I thought as I walked by, “… douchebag. They don't give out nickels for big words anymore.”

I use my share of long words, but as one of my graduate students wrote on a course eval, “You use a lot of big words, but you use them all correctly. It’s refreshing.” And, to me, therein lies the issue. Words communicate. The simpler the word, the more likely your message will be communicated. Sometimes longer words are needed – just be sure to know what they mean before you use them.

Little shit drives me nuts: “We are doing this to insure we get it right the first time.” Insure, as to financially underwrite? “That” is limiting; “which” is not. But, to me, misuse at this level is just lazy, and it’s OK to be lazy. We all are in some areas of our lives including, big time, me. However, when people go out of their way to use words they do not understand just to use a big word, then you know they are not trying to communicate, but to impress.

“Impress: to press (a thing) into or on something.” Isn’t that what Charmin is for?

Could we say, in light of the above, that one who uses big words for the very sake of their length and that flushing sound one hears typically from behind a closed interior door in a residential environment is, empirically, the antithesis of a non sequitur? Methinks, without measureable trepidation of the prospect of contradiction, that such is an accurate manner in which to describe the state of affairs. In short, if you do not know the difference between “didactic” and “pedantic” then do not use either.

Naw, not being a dick, just tired of pseudo-intellectuals.

Alright, enough pompous bullshit. Soapbox to the right; me to the left.

Here’s a good story: “In 1386, the tribunal of Falaise sentenced a sow to be mangled and maimed in the head and forelegs, and then to be hanged, for having torn the face and arms of a child and thus caused its death. … As if to make the travesty of justice complete, the sow was dressed in man's clothes and executed on the public square near the city-hall at an expense to the state of ten sous and ten deniers, besides a pair of gloves to the hangman.” – E.P. Evans, The Criminal Prosecution and Capital Punishment of Animals, 1906 This site is full of good stories.

Good rule from my twin: if it wasn’t food a hundred years ago, it isn’t food now.

This sounds good:

Autumn Roasted Vegetable Salad


1 (8 oz.) yam, peeled and diced to 1-inch
1 (6 oz.) granny smith apple, peeled, cored and diced to 1-inch
1 (6 oz.) red onion, diced to 1-inch
2 tbsp. olive oil, split
salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 cup sliced California Ripe Olives
2 cups mixed baby greens
1/4 cup of chopped toasted cashews


In a large mixing bowl, toss yam, apple and red onion with 1 tablespoon of oil. Season with salt and pepper and scatter on one or two roasting pans in an even layer. Bake in a 450˚F oven for 20 minutes until golden. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes. While cooling, whisk remaining oil, vinegar and mustard into mixing bowl. Toss in California Ripe Olives, baby greens and cooled vegetables. Top with cashews and serve. Serves 4. Courtesy of The California Olive Industry.

If you get off on articles that begin, “Almost one billion people throughout tropical and sub-tropical latitudes are infected with hookworms. In the countries affected, hookworm infection is often the major contributor to irondeficiency anemia, a direct consequence of the parasite’s bloodfeeding activities” then you can read the rest here - The bandit, a New DNA Transposon from a Hookworm - Possible Horizontal Genetic Transfer between Host and Parasite. The article is focused on DNA analysis. I can’t bring myself to show a pic of the things, but go for it if you like.

I started reading some articles on why lethal injection is “inhumane,” and then got sidetracked to other issues. Data from Amnesty International: In 2006, 91 per cent of all known executions took place in six countries: China, Iran, Pakistan, Iraq, Sudan and the USA. Based on public reports available, Amnesty International estimated that at least 1,010 people were executed in China during the year, although these figures are only the tip of the iceberg. Credible sources suggest that between 7,500 to 8,000 people were executed in 2006. The official statistics remain a state secret, making monitoring and analysis problematic.

Iran executed 177 people, Pakistan 82, and Iraq and Sudan each at least 65. There were 53 executions in 12 states in the USA.

Um, we set the internal toaster oven to "bake" for 53 people and you’re on our case? Shoo, fly, go away! Shoo!! Seems to me you’ve got more than enough work to do with China. Better go pout at the UN, eh? Further, if the 7:1 to 8:1 holds for China, you gotta know, brother, that is also good for Iran and the Sudan.

And don’t you just the love the opening crack – “91 per cent” in six countries. They are using a base of 1,591 executions. Wouldn’t “88 per cent in five countries” sound better? Narrow the culprits to just FIVE! Ah, but that would leave the US off the list.

How’s this for another twist? In point 11 not quite half way down: China reports executing about the same number of people in 2006 that the United States has executed for the past 30 years. That is Amnesty’s data, but not the way they want us to view it.

Here’s another set of data, different source, same year: China, at least 5,000 (approximately 8,000 according to Liu Renwen, Professor of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences); Iran, at least 215; Pakistan, 82; Iraq, at least 65; Sudan, at least 65; and United States, 53.

China’s number essential the same – a guess as to the total. Iran creeps up over 20%, and joins Iraq and the Sudan with the qualifier, “at least.” Seems the US role is shrinking by the article.

Want an observation? Where is Russia in all this? Ah, they have a moratorium on the death penalty. Why? Last paragraph of the link – Russia committed itself to scrapping the death penalty in 1997, when it signed a protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights. Money. Follow the money. It is routed in trade with the EU. Remember Russia in the 1990's? They were in economic freefall.

Butt hay, who needs the death penalty when you can murder your undesirables? But, Clyde! How can you say that! It, it, it’s so cold! Blow me – here’s the data:

Russia murders per 100,000 population: 201 (#5 on the hit parade)
US murders per 100,000 population: 42 (#24)
Weighted average for the world: 100

Gee, maybe there’s something to the theory.

Where did I get started on this tangent? Oh yeah, the “inhumane” nature of lethal injection. Here’s the scientific article saying it’s bad. Read it all, then come back and read this:

I grabbed this at random from Dead Man Eating:

July 11, 2007

Last Meal: Page had a final meal request of steak with A-1 sauce, jalapeno poppers with cream sauce, onion rings, and a salad with cherry tomatoes, ham chunks, shredded cheese, bacon bits, and blue cheese and ranch dressing. He wanted lemon iced tea and coffee to drink and ice cream for dessert.

The skinny: Page, 25, was executed for the torturing and killing a 19-year-old man following a robbery.

It was South Dakota's first execution in 60 years.

More skinny: Page and two other young men were convicted of killing a 19-year old "friend," near the town of Spearfish in the rural west of South Dakota.

The victim was kidnapped at gunpoint, then tortured for almost 3 hours before his death. He was forced to drink acid, repeatedly kicked and beaten, stabbed in the head and torso, and forced to remove his clothing in an icy creek.

His body was not found until a month later.

Upon his arrest in Texas, Page admitted his involvement in the murder. Page later pled guilty, received a death sentence, and waived appeals.

Accomplice Briley Piper, age 19, also pled guilty and was sentenced to death. Accomplice Darrell Hoadley, age 20, is serving a sentence of life without parole.

Last words and such: Asked if he had any last words, Page replied, "No." Asked if he understood the question Page responded, "Yes, no last words."

I really hope he enjoyed his jalapeño poppers. I wish I knew what flavor ice cream he asked for.

I also hope the execution procedure was a complete fuck-up, totally in line with the scientific article linked above.

Yes, the death penalty is retributive. Ain’t got nothing to do with general deterrence. It does, however, help the recidivism rate, eh?

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