Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Smells like Ketchup--a weirdo hodgepodge of stuff

I seem to use my sense of smell more than most--you might find it gross. In the shower I smell my pores and parts of my body to makes sure everything is normal. I smell old containers of food to make sure its still edible and worthy of inclusion in my latest culinary disaster. I smell my loved ones and remember their scents years after the last time I saw them.

The most hilarious application is when Liz has sneaked a hot dog after work. The reviled condiment ketchup with its abrasive corn syrupy odor is immediately detectable--through her hair and pores. She'll brush her teeth, pop a mint, and when I give her the "welcome home kiss", I'll still be like, "You had Ketchup, didn't you?!"

Well, there's a ton of stuff I've been procrastinating writing about as I have immersed myself in condo searching, job searching, my studies and taking care of Grandpa Wong:

12 stolen years

Shih-Wei Su is suing the city of New York for $25 million. He was convicted of a crime in which prosecutors enlisted the aid of a witness who was given probation for his own crime of "grand larceny" in exchange for his testimony. When questioned during the case, the prosecutors flat-out lied saying that "there was technically no agreement" to grant the witness anything in exchange for his testimony.

I hope he wins and personally would like to see the prosecutors serve extensive jail time. Our legal system is not "both sides trying their best and the result being justice", it is one side, with overwhelming resources blugeoning the other side into submission. In many cases, it is us, the American people, getting away with murder, or at least the utter destruction of people's lives on the basis of their class and skin color.

The solution:
We need to peel back the system of plea bargaining and deals in exchange for testimony. It's one thing if investigators use incentives to obtain information about a crime. It's another ballpark entirely when prosecutors are building whole cases exclusively on the testimony of someone who is basically a hired gun there to fabricate eye-witness testimony against the accused.

We need to stop the trying of adolescents as adults. All the psychological research suggests that most teenagers do not have the same decision-making faculties that adults do, are less prone to recidivism and more prone to recidivism once interned in state penitentiary with adult felons. And that's not even considering the utter immorality of killing children, which we are one of a tiny group of countries who still practice.

We need to even the resources in court. With the ridiculously resources disparities between plaintiff and defendant in many cases, "innocence" and "guilt" are terms with no meaning. Left behind are simply, "rich=innocent" and "poor=guilty" which only seems just if you are one of those on the pleasant side of the equation.

I say, "Good Luck Mr. Su!" I hope he can win and shake up the justice system a little. I imagine David Wong can empathize...

Here's another perspective on the issue.

Family Values

Angry Asian Man is getting the word out on Eddy Zheng, who faces deportation due to errors by his public defender. Zheng has been in the United States for twenty-four years, and is a strong testament to the potential for rehabilitation in the criminal justice system. Despite being forced to serve 19 years for a robbery conviction at sixteen, Zheng was a model prisoner and since parole had been working to improve the community through work with at-risk youth.

Because of his incarceration, Zheng was unable to apply for citizenship while in prison. The entire rest of his family have become naturalized citizens.

What we have here is the enforcement of a doctrine that has no function. Our immigration system, as it has for so long, is tearing apart families and trying to deport constructive, hard-working Americans who are devoting themselves to the betterment of their community.

Read more at Eddy's website and blog. His final hearing is tomorrow afternoon at 1pm. Show your support and remember, this is not an isolated incident. As someone whose family has been separate by our government's racist immigration policies on three separate occasions, I know that as well as anyone. For some reason, this anti-family, anti-equality policy of our government seems to get a free pass by much of our citizenry. That has to stop.

"Terrorism" and resistance

Gar over at EnscriptCHUN has a new podcast and posted some musings on "V for Vendetta". He's brought up a number of interesting issues, including the role of art versus news in terms of informing about the world. You should definitely peep it.

His writings got me thinking about the role of violence in a revolution. Basically it comes down to your belief of whether it's worth it--we know that in some cases, non-violence may not be enough to "win" a conflict. Does that justify resorting to violence?

It's a tough question that we can certainly disagree on. There are plenty who point to WWII as a justification for "fighting back" and the most beloved person ever on Earth certainly had His own perspective on the issue...

What doesn't work is the current administration's and popular viewpoint that "When we use violence, it's cool, but when others do, it's unacceptable." That creates gaps in perspective where everyone thinks they are the "good guys" and anyone who opposes them are the "bad guys".

If you think it's ok to kill or torture terrorists, you don't have much leg to stand on when people use your own definition of "terrorist" to justify torturing and killing you and people on your side. Our policy of violence has always been one utterly devoid of empathy for those we oppose and can only result in the destruction of the human race. There's no positive outcome to a doctrine of "Kill them first, then learn to love them once we defeat them!"

The best way to reduce abortions...

(image courtesy of "Fotus: Future is Bright")
All-around awesome woman, Hpets contributed this article on the recent Missouri House vote removing state funding for abortions and contraception.

As an anti-abortion, pro-choice advocate, let me emphasize that these types of measures are the worst of both worlds. I don't care if you think that abortion is murder--it does no good to institute measures that increase the need demand for abortions and forces women who has chosen to undertake an abortion to put themselves and their families into greater danger.

If this is your policy, are you actually interested in preventing abortions, or just in demonizing and hurting those who disagree with you?

Furthermore, what's the point of measures that only prevent abortions by poor women? Removal of funding displays a hypocritical philosophy of "It's murder if poor folks do it, but not if myself or my daughter do it". Even bans on abortion simply lead to greater hardship and numbers of deaths among those too poor to afford safe, expensive, black market abortions.

If you want to reduce abortions, reduce the factors that create the desire to have abortions. Reduce assault and abuse of women. Fix the horrible conditions that working-class women find themselves and their families and offspring in. Educate people on how, should they choose to have sex, to make strategic family planning decisions. Stop attacking non-conventional (whatever that means) families and encourage adoption and fostering in any positive environment for children. Research new technologies to make fetuses non-dependent on their birth mothers.

If we successfully executed all of these initiatives, then we would have a right to argue about the few remaining abortions taking place.

Japan wins WBC!

ESPN captured the celebration of Japanese's greatest player in history (Sadaharu Oh) and the best current Japanese player, Ichiro!, following Japan's 10-6 victory in the World Baseball Classic Championship over Cuba.

Japan's victory was a major upset in a series that everyone assumed that the victor would be one of the teams composed almost exclusively of professional players from the American baseball leagues, Major League Baseball.

Instead, of the four finalists, three were teams from countries with their own professional leagues, Cuba, Japan and Korea. When Cuba defeated the Dominican Republic--the last team of MLB players, the stage was set for an exciting final of non-MLB players.

As the nation of Japan celebrates their victory, how do we interpret this result? While the tournament was short enough that almost anything could happen, it has at least provided some evidence that MLB is not alone on the highest level of competition in the world. A single game or series of games could go either way, but that doesn't make their outcome utterly meaningless.

The fact is that most of the American baseball community, including many of those devoted to more empirical methods of evaluation, thought that the teams with the most MLB player would mop the floor with the other teams. They believed that the obstacles of small sample size, scheduling and the like were not significant enough to prevent "the best team to win", and then suddenly when the winning teams were not the ones they predicted, they pointed to these problems.

Some even pointed to non-existence issues like the greater time for the Asian teams to prepare--Japan, like the U.S. is in the middle of Spring Training practice games.

So while a short, single-game elimination tournament in the middle of March is not an accurate measure of where the best baseball players in the world play, it is enough to suggest that our prejudices on the issue may not be entirely correct.

The intuitive answer which seems to have been missed by most of us is, "The best players in the world are where ever zealous professional baseball is played!"
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