One of Those Mornings

December 17th, 2009

Got to the BART parking lot squarely in the middle of my usual time window. Drove around and around up to the seventh floor, where the parking generally is at 8 in the morning. Noted that the lot was emptier than usual, probably on account of the holidays, Thursday not usually being a low-load day for the BART parking structure.

Whipped out onto the 7th floor rooftop area (there is also an 8th floor rooftop area on the parking structure addition) because I enjoy parking on the roof. It was almost empty, perhaps a dozen cars across the hundred-parking spot area.

And then for some damn reason I couldn't make up my mind where to park. I thought "I shall park where I can pull through," and then I didn't park there. I thought "oh I'll park backwards next to the wall" and then I didn't park there. I thought "well now we're around the end of the lane, I'll park facing through the other way" and then I didn't park there.

Finally, aggravated at my own indecision, I said "fuck it" and just parked, and wound up in a spot with a concrete post ahead of it so I can't just pull out easily when I return this evening. Possibly the only bad spot on the whole roof and I parked there.

Sometimes I swear I make decisions by committee all by myself.

Suspect Win

December 16th, 2009

I am a big fan of failblog (, not .com!) in general; and Suspect Win is simply too awesome not to be shared.

Somebody, Anybody

December 15th, 2009

I am against the death penalty, not because I think everyone has the right to life regardless of what they do, but because I don't trust the State.

(Now, before any cries of "But you're a liberal! You love the State!" come tumbling out, let me observe that I don't trust the State, but I trust private entities, particularly corporations, even less.)

And my distrust is justified again and again, as people thrown in the slammer (or sentenced to death) twenty, thirty, forty years ago keep being proven innocent through DNA testing. Here's the latest. Donald Gates has been in jail for more than 25 years after being convicted for a rape and murder that he did not, apparently, commit.

Now, it's reprehensible that an innocent man was thrown in jail, and that steams me. But what really angers me nigh-unto-tears-of-rage is the fact that Catherine Schilling did not get justice. The man who raped her and then shot her in the head got away, and thanks to the zealous get-a-conviction-at-all-costs prosecutor, they stopped looking for him.

That's the heart of what really angers me about this whole "find someone, anyone, and string 'em up!" situation we currently have in our justice system. When you convict the wrong guy, the actual rapist - the actual murderer - gets away scot-free. I don't give a flying fuck how bad the crime is, if you are nailing the most convenient suspect on dubious evidence what you are really doing is not only harming an innocent man (who is usually a scumbag, but an innocent one) but you are guaranteeing that the actual criminal gets away.

The prosecutor who pushed the dubious evidence and the false testimony did not only send Donald Gates to prison, he made 100% certain that Catherine Schilling did not get, and would never get, justice. May he burn in hell right alongside her killer.

Natural Outflow

December 12th, 2009

I've had live Christmas trees for enough years that I know they need lots of water. However, our tree this year seemed exceptionally thirsty, requiring refills of the basin twice a day. Sure, the house air is dry, and my son tries to keep the lights on as much as possible, but I was surprised at how much water the tree was consuming.

Surprised, that is, until I came out this morning to find the cat drinking out of the tree basin.

Review: What Hath God Wrought?

December 11th, 2009

What Hath God Wrought? The Transformation of America, 1815-1848 by Daniel Walker Howe - 8.5/10

A very interesting book about a largely forgotten period of American history. Part of the Oxford History of the United States series of which I have read a number this last year, and give a blanket recommendation to all of them.

What Hath God Wrought? really conveys the dynamics of the 'Era of Good Feelings' and the subsequent Jacksonian period, the people involved, the social movements (Second Great Awakening anyone?) and the beginnings of what we now call technology, as evinced in the book's title. (The first message transmitted over telegraph wires.) This era is largely overshadowed by the Revolutionary War and Jeffersonian periods before it, and the Civil War afterward; and to be honest, rightfully so. But although the moon is dimmer than the sun, it's worthy of study, and this an era in which much of the foundations of the Republic were laid.

As with all of the books in the series, it was tremendously readable; the individuals involved had real life and animation, the material was interesting, the pacing good. It did flag somewhat when describing the various nascent social movements, but I think that's hard to avoid. And it painted great pictures of Jackson, Henry Clay, Polk, and a wide range of once-towering and now ignored American figures.

I recommend it. Good book, and possibly the best way to fill in one's knowledge of an American period frequently overlooked.