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Historic Rainfall in Chicago

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Another Monsoon
Another Monsoon

Intuitively, we knew there was a lot of rain this year, and especially this month, and we were right:

Two passing storms overnight dumped enough rain to make this July the wettest one in the city’s history. They also knocked out power to tens of thousands of area residents and raised fears of more flooding.

The wave of storms, which spurred tornado and flood watches across the area, raised this month’s rainfall total to 9.75 inches, drowning the previous record of 9.56 inches set in July 1889.

And with more rainy weather on the way, the record is expected to keep climbing, forecasters said.

“Ten inches isn’t out of the question,” said Andrew Krein, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

It could be even more.

A lot of rain wasn’t needed to smash the old July record.

As of early Wednesday afternoon, 9.05 inches had fallen this month at O’Hare International Airport, the official measuring station, about half an inch less than the record 9.56 inches that fell here in July 1889, according to the weather service. The city has averaged 3.51 inches of rain in July from 1871 through last year, weather service records show.
This July is now the ninth wettest month in Chicago history. The all-time monthly rainfall record is 17.1 inches, set in August 1987.

(click here to continue reading 122-year rainfall record for July falls, more storms coming – chicagotribune.com.)

Seems as if Rick Perry’s prayers for rain to fall in Texas and his other affronts to God had an effect after all1

Accidental Storm Bokeh
Accidental Storm Bokeh

Clarity of distress

Clarity of distress

Footnotes:
  1. kidding, really, I am. Praying for rain has no relevance to actual weather patterns in the slightest. []

Written by Seth Anderson

July 28th, 2011 at 9:40 am

Potentially life-threatening blizzard

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Arched

Hmm, what are the odds it snows at all? Last time the media and the NWS freaked out about a snow storm hitting the Chicagoland area, we got about an inch of snow where I live. So keep that salt handy (cum grano salis.)1

The National Weather Service has issued an unusually dire blizzard watch, calling a storm expected to arrive Tuesday afternoon over much of northern Illinois and Northwest Indiana “dangerous, multifaceted and potentially life-threatening.”

All told, forecasters expect at least a foot of snow over much of the watch area. White-out conditions are expected at times Tuesday night, with snowfall rates of at least 2 to 3 inches per hour possible with northeast winds of 25 to 40 mph and even stronger gusts.

Localized totals in excess of 18 inches are possible, especially near the lake.

Conditions are expected to deteriorate from north to south across the region Tuesday afternoon with travel becoming “virtually impossible” at times Tuesday night into early Wednesday morning, according to the weather service. Plows will be unable to keep up with the downfall.

“The last storm of this potential magnitude to hit Chicago was in Jan. 2, 1999,” said Richard Castro, a meteorologist at the weather service. That day, he said, 18.6 inches of accumulation were measured in the city.

The all-time Chicago record was set on Jan. 26 and 27, 1967, when 23 inches of snow fell on the city, Castro added.

(click here to continue reading Forecast: ‘Potentially life-threatening’ blizzard – chicagotribune.com.)

Not In My Backyard Syndrome

A major blizzard the National Weather Service is calling “life-threatening” is on its way to the Chicago area, also bringing along strong winds that could send 18-foot Lake Michigan waves onto Lake Shore Drive Tuesday night into early Wednesday.

The blizzard watch remains in effect from Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday afternoon in several counties, including Kane, DuPage, Cook, Lake, McHenry and DeKalb. The watch is also in effect for Porter, Lake, Newton, Jasper and Benton counties in Indiana, the National Weather Service said.

The snow will begin to come in from the Southwest about noon Tuesday, with the heaviest snowfall expected to hit the Chicago area in the evening into overnight, National Weather Service meteorologist Samuel Shea said.

“The heaviest snowfall will be from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. on Wednesday and that will be a combination of snow and strong winds that will create potential hazards,” Shea said.

The National Weather Service is calling the pending blizzard life-threatening.

“You figure if you are out traveling and you do end up going off the road, having to be rescued and you aren’t prepared for the conditions, things could be life-threatening,” Shea said.

As of Monday morning, satellite images showed an 85 percent chance of at least 8 inches of snow heading into the Chicago area and a 65 to 70 percent chance of it becoming more than 12 inches, Shea said. Totals of 18 inches are possible near Lake Michigan.

“It could very easily be measured in feet,” he said.

 

(click here to continue reading ‘Life-threatening’ blizzard on its way to Chicago area – Chicago Sun-Times.)

As much of its strength, the system’s immense size sets it apart. As of Monday evening, the National Weather Service had posted winter storm warnings, watches or advisories in at least 29 states in a 2,000-mile space stretching from the Southwest to the Northeast. “A storm of this size and scope needs to be taken seriously,” said Craig Fugate, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The worst conditions are expected in parts of seven states where blizzard warnings were in effect Monday night. The Monday night forecast of fierce winds, strong snow and minimal visibility covered an area as far south and west as Oklahoma, as far north as Wisconsin and as far as east as Indiana. Several inches linked to the system had fallen by 7 p.m. Monday in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where a winter storm warning extended throughout the state. A similar warning was in effect as far away as Boston, where snow could start Tuesday and continue through Wednesday night.

Still, some of the biggest concerns entering Tuesday were in cities like Chicago.

“This storm could be one of the top 10 biggest snowstorms ever in the city,” said CNN meteorologist Sean Morris. According to the National Weather Service, snowstorms that drop over 15 inches of snow occur about once every 19 years in Chicago. The last time this happened was in January 1999, when 21.6 inches of snow was recorded in the city. Officials have added 120 garbage trucks with specially attached snow plows to the city’s fleet normal of 274 trucks in expectation of heavy snowfall, said Jose A. Santiago, executive director of the city’s Office of Emergency Management. Snowfall could reach a rate of two and three inches per hour with northeasterly winds of 25 mph to 40 mph, creating dangerous “white-out” conditions across the entire Chicago metropolitan area, the weather service reported.

(click here to continue reading Massive winter system spans 2,000 miles, threatens Midwest cities – CNN.com.)

Footnotes:
  1. translated usually as “with a grain of salt”. History from Wikipedia: The phrase comes from Pliny the Elder’s Naturalis Historia, regarding the discovery of a recipe for an antidote to a poison. In the antidote, one of the ingredients was a grain of salt. Threats involving the poison were thus to be taken “with a grain of salt” and therefore less seriously. An alternative account says that the Roman general Pompey believed he could make himself immune to poison by ingesting small amounts of various poisons, and he took this treatment with a grain of salt to help him swallow the poison. In this version, the salt is not the antidote, it was taken merely to assist in swallowing the poison. []

Written by Seth Anderson

January 31st, 2011 at 9:19 am

Posted in Chicago-esque,News-esque

Tagged with ,

1986 Privacy Law Inadequate For 2011 Digital Society

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Popo Starry Pants

The mentality of law enforcement is that since there is information available about suspects, law enforcement officers should have free reign to sift through it, no matter what. However, if one is a suspect, and a warrant is executed for one’s home, the officers are usually limited to certain areas as precisely described by the warrant, they are not1 allowed to look through every single nook and cranny, unless the warrant has been constructed this broadly. Why isn’t digital data treated the same way?2

SAN FRANCISCO — Concerned by the wave of requests for customer data from law enforcement agencies, Google last year set up an online tool showing the frequency of these requests in various countries. In the first half of 2010, it counted more than 4,200 in the United States.

Google is not alone among Internet and telecommunications companies in feeling inundated with requests for information. Verizon told Congress in 2007 that it received some 90,000 such requests each year. And Facebook told Newsweek in 2009 that subpoenas and other orders were arriving at the company at a rate of 10 to 20 a day.

As Internet services — allowing people to store e-mails, photographs, spreadsheets and an untold number of private documents — have surged in popularity, they have become tempting targets for law enforcement. That phenomenon became apparent over the weekend when it surfaced that the Justice Department had sought the Twitter account activity of several people linked to WikiLeaks, the antisecrecy group.

Many Internet companies and consumer advocates say the main law governing communication privacy — enacted in 1986, before cellphone and e-mail use was widespread, and before social networking was even conceived — is outdated, affording more protection to letters in a file cabinet than e-mail on a server.

(click to continue reading Privacy Law Is Outrun by Speed of Web’s Progress – NYTimes.com.)

For some reason, The New York Times didn’t actually link to this Google tool, I’m not sure why. Anyway, after a few minutes of searching3, found it.

Like other technology and communications companies, we regularly receive requests from government agencies around the world to remove content from our services, or provide information about users of our services and products. This map shows the number of requests that we received in six-month blocks with certain limitations.

(click to continue reading Google Transparency Report: Government Requests.)

As of the current moment, Google has received 4287 requests for information in the United States alone4 from law enforcement in the last six months (an average of 714.5 requests a month, or nearly 24 requests a day).

Footnotes:
  1. officially []
  2. I am not a lawyer, and all my information comes from stupid television shows, so don’t laugh too loudly if I’m wrong []
  3. longer than I thought, actually []
  4. that Google is allowed to mention – perhaps not including some alleged participants in the War on Terror []

Written by Seth Anderson

January 11th, 2011 at 11:48 am

links for 2010-12-20

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  • How many of these cables, rather than being the unvarnished facts which reveal the public lies are actually another layer of lies from bureaucrats trying to appease their bosses? It’s funny how transparency can reveal all sorts of unexpected things isn’t it? If only there were professional people who gather facts and research issues and interview subjects who could be called upon to investigate such things.
    (tags: media wikileaks)
    Facts_are_fulsome_Vegas.jpg

Written by swanksalot

December 20th, 2010 at 7:02 am

In Weather Chaos, a Case for Global Warming

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Bears repeating, a million times: the weather is going to become more extreme as we finish the job of destroying planet Earth. Paid shills like George Will may dispute the facts, may be given a national platform to spew their garbage, but science will triumph.

Glimmer of Spring

“The climate is changing,” said Jay Lawrimore, chief of climate analysis at the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. “Extreme events are occurring with greater frequency, and in many cases with greater intensity.”

He described excessive heat, in particular, as “consistent with our understanding of how the climate responds to increasing greenhouse gases.”

Theory suggests that a world warming up because of those gases will feature heavier rainstorms in summer, bigger snowstorms in winter, more intense droughts in at least some places and more record-breaking heat waves. Scientists and government reports say the statistical evidence shows that much of this is starting to happen.

(click to continue reading In Weather Chaos, a Case for Global Warming – NYTimes.com.)

and

Thermometer measurements show that the earth has warmed by about 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit since the Industrial Revolution, when humans began pumping enormous amounts of carbon dioxide, a heat-trapping greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere. For this January through July, average temperatures were the warmest on record, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported Friday.

The warming has moved in fits and starts, and the cumulative increase may sound modest. But it is an average over the entire planet, representing an immense amount of added heat, and is only the beginning of a trend that most experts believe will worsen substantially.

If the earth were not warming, random variations in the weather should cause about the same number of record-breaking high temperatures and record-breaking low temperatures over a given period. But climatologists have long theorized that in a warming world, the added heat would cause more record highs and fewer record lows.

The statistics suggest that is exactly what is happening. In the United States these days, about two record highs are being set for every record low, telltale evidence that amid all the random variation of weather, the trend is toward a warmer climate.

Next winter there will be a snow storm, and some wag or idiot1 will make a lame joke about Al Gore and cold weather. Remember this quote:

“Global warming, ironically, can actually increase the amount of snow you get,” said Kevin Trenberth, head of climate analysis at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo. “But it also means the snow season is shorter.”

Footnotes:
  1. the two terms are closely related []

Written by Seth Anderson

August 17th, 2010 at 8:13 am

The Web Means Everything Is On Your Permanent Record

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I am lucky that I was a teen and finished college before the digital age. As far as I know, there are no permanent records of my exploits anywhere on the web, accessible by casual web searchers, or overzealous customs officials. Like most 19 year olds, I did some crazy stuff, participated in some questionable behavior with my peers, but never was actually arrested by law enforcement. Thankfully. Because otherwise, I’d worry…

Three Note Oddity

Four years ago, Stacy Snyder, then a 25-year-old teacher in training at Conestoga Valley High School in Lancaster, Pa., posted a photo on her MySpace page that showed her at a party wearing a pirate hat and drinking from a plastic cup, with the caption “Drunken Pirate.” After discovering the page, her supervisor at the high school told her the photo was “unprofessional,” and the dean of Millersville University School of Education, where Snyder was enrolled, said she was promoting drinking in virtual view of her under-age students. As a result, days before Snyder’s scheduled graduation, the university denied her a teaching degree. Snyder sued, arguing that the university had violated her First Amendment rights by penalizing her for her (perfectly legal) after-hours behavior. But in 2008, a federal district judge rejected the claim, saying that because Snyder was a public employee whose photo didn’t relate to matters of public concern, her “Drunken Pirate” post was not protected speech.

When historians of the future look back on the perils of the early digital age, Stacy Snyder may well be an icon. The problem she faced is only one example of a challenge that, in big and small ways, is confronting millions of people around the globe: how best to live our lives in a world where the Internet records everything and forgets nothing — where every online photo, status update, Twitter post and blog entry by and about us can be stored forever. With Web sites like LOL Facebook Moments, which collects and shares embarrassing personal revelations from Facebook users, ill-advised photos and online chatter are coming back to haunt people months or years after the fact. Examples are proliferating daily: there was the 16-year-old British girl who was fired from her office job for complaining on Facebook, “I’m so totally bored!!”; there was the 66-year-old Canadian psychotherapist who tried to enter the United States but was turned away at the border — and barred permanently from visiting the country — after a border guard’s Internet search found that the therapist had written an article in a philosophy journal describing his experiments 30 years ago with L.S.D.

According to a recent survey by Microsoft, 75 percent of U.S. recruiters and human-resource professionals report that their companies require them to do online research about candidates, and many use a range of sites when scrutinizing applicants — including search engines, social-networking sites, photo- and video-sharing sites, personal Web sites and blogs, Twitter and online-gaming sites. Seventy percent of U.S. recruiters report that they have rejected candidates because of information found online, like photos and discussion-board conversations and membership in controversial groups.

(click to continue reading The Web Means the End of Forgetting – NYTimes.com.)

Land of the free, right.

Oh, and since Jeffrey Rosen didn’t specify the 66 year old Canadian psychologist who took LSD in 1967, his name is Andrew Feldmar, and I blogged about this travesty in 2007. He really was barred from entry to the US in May, 2007, because he wrote an article about his drug use – in 1967!

Written by Seth Anderson

July 21st, 2010 at 9:30 pm

CTA Red Line fire

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Clark and Division Red Line

We happened to be walking past this area, and noticed the commotion:

Investigators worked late into the night Sunday to figure out what had sparked an extra-alarm fire on an underground track that sent 19 people to hospitals for smoke inhalation and respiratory problems.

Five people were transported with serious injuries, Chicago Fire Department spokesman Richard Rosado said. The injured included a 10-year-old boy who was being held overnight at Children’s Memorial Hospital for smoke inhalation. The extent of their injuries was not known Sunday night.

“The smoke was so thick you couldn’t see across the aisle,” said passenger Dillon Johnson, 23. “We all started to sit down on the floor where the smoke wasn’t as bad.”

Fire officials said railroad ties caught fire just before 5 p.m. on the northbound track between the Red Line stops at Chicago Avenue and Clark/Division. Black smoke could be seen billowing from several subway grates and vents in the area, including near Gibsons Bar and Steakhouse on Rush Street. Red Line trains and several bus routes were redirected while firefighters fought the small underground blaze.

Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford said it’s unclear what sparked the fire, but that railroad ties occasionally catch fire during the summer heat.

(click to continue reading Red Line fire: 19 people injured in CTA track fire – chicagotribune.com.)

Easily twenty fire trucks, plus various Chicago Transit Authority police cars, a couple of Water Department trucks, and police too. They had cordoned a large area off from cars, but were allowing pedestrians to still walk through, so of course I had to see what was going on.

Also yesterday witnessed a large arrest of some sort on Chicago and State Streets, an arrest that involved 7 or 8 police cars and SUVs, and a dude being detained on the ground in hand cuffs. Still don’t know what that was. Oh, and earlier called 911 when we witnessed a young boy riding his bike swerve against an oncoming taxi1 and ram his head right into a street light post. We heard the collision from a block away. He was with his father and a couple of brothers, all on bikes, but we were worried he might have sustained a concussion. Didn’t stay to see however, just called for an ambulance.

Crazy day.

Footnotes:
  1. the bikes were going the wrong way on a one way street []

Written by Seth Anderson

June 21st, 2010 at 8:42 am

Leak from Exelon nuke hits major NJ aquifer

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Speaking of government regulation being half-hearted, notice how this spill occurred in 2009, but nobody seemed to care much at the time.

It Is a Bit of a Joke

Radioactive water that leaked from the nation’s oldest nuclear power plant has now reached a major underground aquifer that supplies drinking water to much of southern New Jersey, the state’s environmental chief said Friday. The state Department of Environmental Protection has ordered the Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station to halt the spread of contaminated water underground, even as it said there was no imminent threat to drinking water supplies.

The department launched a new investigation Friday into the April 2009 spill and said the actions of plant owner Exelon Corp. have not been sufficient to contain water contaminated with tritium. Tritium is found naturally in tiny amounts and is a product of nuclear fission. It has been linked to cancer if ingested, inhaled or absorbed through the skin in large amounts.

“There is a problem here,” said environmental Commissioner Bob Martin. “I am worried about the continuing spread of the tritium into the groundwater and its gradual moving toward wells in the area. This is not something that can wait. That would be unacceptable.” The company did not immediately return messages seeking comment. The tritium leaked from underground pipes at the plant on April 9, 2009, and has been slowly spreading underground at 1 to 3 feet a day.

At the current rate, it would be 14 or 15 years before the tainted water reaches the nearest private or commercial drinking water wells. But the mere fact that the radioactive water — at concentrations 50 times higher than those allowed by law — has reached southern New Jersey’s main source of drinking water calls for urgent action, Martin said.

(click to continue reading Leak from Exelon nuke hits major NJ aquifer | Crain’s Chicago Business.)

Crazy fools, did they think the problem would just solve itself? If corporations want to be treated like people, then corporations that subvert the public interest should lose their corporate charter. Or worse.

Written by Seth Anderson

May 8th, 2010 at 7:12 pm

Looters in Loafers

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Goldman Sachs, aka Gold Sacks, aka corporate criminals, are not having a good PR month. They are an easy target – so greedy, so arrogant that even their allies are keeping mum. Whether any real penalties will be levied against Goldman Sachs remains to be seen.

Financial Blues Brothers

Paul Krugman writes, in part:

Most discussion of the role of fraud in the crisis has focused on two forms of deception: predatory lending and misrepresentation of risks. Clearly, some borrowers were lured into taking out complex, expensive loans they didn’t understand — a process facilitated by Bush-era federal regulators, who both failed to curb abusive lending and prevented states from taking action on their own. And for the most part, subprime lenders didn’t hold on to the loans they made. Instead, they sold off the loans to investors, in some cases surely knowing that the potential for future losses was greater than the people buying those loans (or securities backed by the loans) realized.

What we’re now seeing are accusations of a third form of fraud.

We’ve known for some time that Goldman Sachs and other firms marketed mortgage-backed securities even as they sought to make profits by betting that such securities would plunge in value. This practice, however, while arguably reprehensible, wasn’t illegal. But now the S.E.C. is charging that Goldman created and marketed securities that were deliberately designed to fail, so that an important client could make money off that failure. That’s what I would call looting.

And Goldman isn’t the only financial firm accused of doing this. According to the Pulitzer-winning investigative journalism Web site ProPublica, several banks helped market designed-to-fail investments on behalf of the hedge fund Magnetar, which was betting on that failure.

So what role did fraud play in the financial crisis? Neither predatory lending nor the selling of mortgages on false pretenses caused the crisis. But they surely made it worse, both by helping to inflate the housing bubble and by creating a pool of assets guaranteed to turn into toxic waste once the bubble burst.

[Click to continue reading Op-Ed Columnist – Looters in Loafers – NYTimes.com]

Continuing to Talk

and the part that interests me, as a non-Wall Street banker, will the proposed financial reforms stop future meltdowns?

The obvious question is whether financial reform of the kind now being contemplated would have prevented some or all of the fraud that now seems to have flourished over the past decade. And the answer is yes.

For one thing, an independent consumer protection bureau could have helped limit predatory lending. Another provision in the proposed Senate bill, requiring that lenders retain 5 percent of the value of loans they make, would have limited the practice of making bad loans and quickly selling them off to unwary investors.

It’s less clear whether proposals for derivatives reform — which mainly involve requiring that financial instruments like credit default swaps be traded openly and transparently, like ordinary stocks and bonds — would have prevented the alleged abuses by Goldman (although they probably would have prevented the insurer A.I.G. from running wild and requiring a federal bailout).

Read the rest

Written by Seth Anderson

April 19th, 2010 at 6:57 am

The Case Against Kissinger Deepens

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“The Trial of Henry Kissinger” (Christopher Hitchens)

Speaking of war criminals, Rumsfeld’s mentor, Henry Kissinger was probably involved with the terrorist bombing on US soil in 1976.

On September 21, 1976, agents of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet placed a bomb in a car in Washington, D.C., used by Chile’s former ambassador, Orlando Letelier. When detonated later that day, the bomb killed Letelier and an American citizen accompanying him, Ronni Moffitt. Did the U.S. government play some sort of role in this double homicide, carried out in the nation’s capital? On Friday, as Ken Silverstein notes, the Associated Press’s Pete Yost published the essence of a damning new document, showing that Henry Kissinger canceled a State Department warning that was to have gone to Chile just days before the assassination:

In 1976, the South American nations of Chile, Argentina and Uruguay were engaged in a program of repression code-named Operation Condor that targeted those governments’ political opponents throughout Latin America, Europe and even the United States. Based on information from the CIA, the U.S. State Department became concerned that Condor included plans for political assassination around the world. The State Department drafted a plan to deliver a stern message to the three governments not to engage in such murders.

In the Sept. 16, 1976 cable, the topic of one paragraph is listed as “Operation Condor,” preceded by the words “(KISSINGER, HENRY A.) SUBJECT: ACTIONS TAKEN.” The cable states that “secretary declined to approve message to Montevideo” Uruguay “and has instructed that no further action be taken on this matter.” “The Sept. 16 cable is the missing piece of the historical puzzle on Kissinger’s role in the action, and inaction, of the U.S. government after learning of Condor assassination plots,” Peter Kornbluh, the National Security Archive’s senior analyst on Chile, said Saturday. Kornbluh is the author of “The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability.”

[Click to continue reading The Case Against Kissinger Deepens—By Scott Horton (Harper’s Magazine)]

From TPM News:

On Sept. 21, 1976, agents of Chilean Gen. Augusto Pinochet planted a car bomb and exploded it on a Washington, D.C., street, killing both former Ambassador Orlando Letelier, and an American colleague, Ronni Karpen Moffitt. Letelier was one of the most outspoken critics of the Pinochet government.

Nearly a month before the blast, the State Department seemed intent on delivering a strong message to the governments engaged in Operation Condor.

An Aug. 23, 1976 State Department cable instructs the U.S. embassies in the capitals of Chile, Argentina and Uruguay to “seek appointment as soon as possible with highest appropriate official, preferably the chief of state.”

The message that was to be conveyed: the U.S. government knows that Operation Condor may “include plans for the assassination of subversives, politicians and prominent figures both within the national borders of certain … countries and abroad.”

“What we are trying to head off is a series of international murders that could do serious damage to the international status and reputation of the countries involved,” Shlaudeman wrote in a memo to Kissinger dated Aug. 30, 1976. That memo is referenced in the newly disclosed Sept. 16, 1976 cable containing Kissinger’s name.

[Click to continue reading Cable ties Kissinger to Chile controversy | TPM News Pages]

Written by Seth Anderson

April 12th, 2010 at 4:47 pm

NYT defends against Vatican criticism

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Follow up on Catholic Church and its newest enemy, journalists, especially at the New York Times

Cardinal William J. Levada, a top Vatican official, leveled harsh criticism at The New York Times today, calling the paper’s news and editorial coverage of a sexual abuse case “deficient by any reasonable standards of fairness.”

The Times has been reporting on how Pope Benedict, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, handled pleas from Wisconsin church officials to “defrock a priest who had abused as many as 200 deaf boys from 1950 to 1974.”

Times spokeswoman Diane McNulty told POLITICO that the “stories were based on meticulous reporting and documents, many of them posted on our website.”

“We stand by that reporting,” she said.

Indeed, the Times has included a number of primary documents online. And as a timeline of events clearly shows, the Vatican’s doctrinal office — which Ratzinger ran — suspended a secret trial that could have punished the priest, who was given such leniency because of his declining health.

“The allegations of abuse within the Catholic Church are a serious subject, as the Vatican has acknowledged on many occasions,” McNulty said. “Any role the current pope may have played in responding to those allegations over the years is a significant aspect of this story.”

[Click to continue reading NYT defends against Vatican criticism – Michael Calderone – POLITICO.com]

Written by Seth Anderson

April 1st, 2010 at 4:41 pm

Posted in News-esque

Tagged with , , ,

Should There Be an Inquisition for the Pope

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Yes, and more. Secular punishment for criminals who hide behind religion.

Church Heavies - Roof of St. Peters, Vatican City 1993

MoDo writes:

It doesn’t seem right that the Catholic Church is spending Holy Week practicing the unholy art of spin.

Complete with crown-of-thorns imagery, the church has started an Easter public relations blitz defending a pope who went along with the perverse culture of protecting molesters and the church’s reputation rather than abused — and sometimes disabled and disadvantaged — children.

The church gave up its credibility for Lent. Holy Thursday and Good Friday are now becoming Cover-Up Thursday and Blame-Others Friday.

This week of special confessions and penance services is unfolding as the pope resists pressure from Catholics around the globe for his own confession and penance about the cascade of child sexual abuse cases that were ignored, even by a German diocese and Vatican office he ran.

If church fund-raising and contributions dry up, Benedict’s P.R. handlers may yet have to stage a photo-op where he steps out of the priest’s side of the confessional and enters the side where the rest of his fallible flock goes.

Or maybe 30-second spots defending the pope with Benedict’s voice intoning at the end: “I am infallible, and I approve this message.”

[Click to continue reading Maureen Dowd – Should There Be an Inquisition for the Pope? – NYTimes.com]

And remove the Church’s tax-exempt status while we’re at it. Criminal organizations shouldn’t get special concessions from the government.

Sideline

Dowd refutes the six PR strategies the Catholic Church and its supporters are using, but bottom line is that nobody should be exempt from laws of Caesar, even and especially the Pope.

Written by Seth Anderson

March 31st, 2010 at 8:12 am

Posted in News-esque

Tagged with , ,

Warm Weather Sabotages Maple Syrup Making

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For your depressing global climate change news of the day:

A Gesture Mistaken For a Style

WEST BRATTLEBORO, Vt. — It’s on the calendar. It’s widely advertised. This year, everybody knows about it but the trees. And they are the central characters in Vermont’s annual maple syrup open house this weekend, when tourists descend on the state to watch trees being tapped and sap being boiled

Sugaring season ended early for many syrup farmers in southern Vermont, sabotaged by unseasonably warm weather.

Lisa Hamilton has finished making her maple syrup. “We were done last week,” said Ms. Hamilton, who was able to boil out just over 100 gallons of syrup — about a third of what she produced last year.

[Click to continue reading In Vermont, Warm Weather Sabotages Maple Syrup Making – NYTimes.com]

Maple syrup season was always my favorite time of year as a kid: spring meant snow was beginning to melt, plus there was lot of opportunity to play in mud as I walked the mile home from where the school bus dropped me off. I didn’t participate much in the actual maple harvesting process, but it does have an evocative smell which I can still recall after all these intervening years.

Written by Seth Anderson

March 27th, 2010 at 12:10 pm

Afghans Detainees Anger Persists

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I’m with Commander Dawood Zazai, actually, I wouldn’t sign a false confession either.

Everyone was mumbling

As an Afghan general read the document aloud, Cmdr. Dawood Zazai, a towering Pashtun tribal leader from Paktia Province who fought the Soviets, thumped his crutch for attention. Along with other elders, he did not like a clause in the document that said the detainees had been reasonably held based on intelligence.

“I cannot sign this,” Commander Zazai said, thumping his crutch again. “I don’t know what that intelligence said; we did not see that intelligence. It is right that we are illiterate, but we are not blind.

“Who proved that these men were guilty?”

No one answered because Commander Zazai had just touched on the crux of the legal debate that has raged for nearly a decade in the United States: Does the United States have the legal right to hold, indefinitely without charge or trial, people captured on the battlefield? His question also exposed a fundamental disagreement between the Afghans and the American military about whether people had been fairly detained.

This is the latest chapter in America’s tortuous effort to repair the damage done over the last nine years by a troubled, overcrowded detention system that often produced more insurgents rather than reforming them.

[Click to continue reading U.S. Frees Detainees, but Afghans’ Anger Persists – NYTimes.com]

The Bush people just thought to lock everyone up first and sort it out later, while play-acting on the stage of Terrorism Theatre, but that isn’t the way the US is supposed to act. Rule of law, remember that? Not rule of gun and coercion. Donald Rumsfeld should be exported to the Pashtun region, and forced to stand trial for his war crimes.

Written by Seth Anderson

March 20th, 2010 at 3:55 pm

Why saint patrick should be celebrated with lowercase letters

with 4 comments

For your daily dose of font nerdery1

The 26 Letters by Oscar Ogg

A few years back, Jasper Bear, one of The Globe’s founders (I designed their logo), gave me a wonderful book called “The 26 Letters” by Oscar Ogg, which was all about the development of the 26 letters of today’s alphabet. Jasper knows I’m a font geek (ahem, “letterforms enthusiast”) from way back.

Anyway, the book’s retelling of St. Patrick’s story was interesting, not only because of his escape from his Roman captors, but because of his invention:

St. Patrick invented lower case letters.

In Ireland, a Celtic land, people used an uncial alphabet. It kind of looks like the writing on the Lord of the Rings cover. When the Christians came with the Bible, it was written in a Roman alphabet, which at the time was all upper-case, like the writing you see on buildings.

St. Patrick devised a transitional alphabet designed to serve between the Roman and Uncial alphabets. Today we call it lower case.

[Click to continue reading why saint patrick’s day should be celebrated with lowercase letters « arellanes.com]

Patri

Much better reason to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day than watery, domestic that’s been tinted green with Monsanto-created food dyes…

Steel cut Irish Oatmeal

Footnotes:
  1. is that a word? Whatever []

Written by Seth Anderson

March 17th, 2010 at 10:19 pm

Posted in News-esque

Tagged with , , , ,