A Short, Sharp Sunday Morning

I’d been thinking about an Android for my next phone. Now I’m not so sure, since the NSA has already had their way with it. Security-Enhanced Android: NSA Edition.

With the government increasingly protecting corporations instead of people, as with Citizens United, it won’t be long before corporations become more important than people – if they aren’t already. Nicholas Soutter has imagined this world where corporations own everything, including people, in his dystopian novel The Water Thief. Makes me want to go back and re-read “2018AD or The King Kong Blues”, by Sam J. Lundwall (“If you love OPEC, you’ll love the water monopolies!”).

Behold these weird-ass living rocks with guts: colonies of Pyura chilensis, a brainless filter feeding organism found in shallow waters off the coasts of Chile and Peru, resemble squiggly rocks made out of cooked ground beef with nasty guts inside.

The ruins of Calleva (near modern Silchester), preserves the end of the Roman era, holding out against the invading Anglo-Saxons (the early English) for perhaps as much as a century, with its children still going to school to learn Virgil and being told not to wander too far from the walls. Romano-British men and women of Silchester probably complained of the lack of garum and olive oil, no longer being shipped in from the Mediterranean, as they walked to the still-operating coliseum there. They lived through the aftermath of Rome’s abandonment of Britannia in the early fifth century, watching as the light went out across Britain, gradually sinking back from its Iron Age height, forgetting the forging of metals and even how to make functional chimneys. The town was one of the few that wasn’t re-settled and rebuilt, so their story remains in the ruins for us to see. Celebrate or mourn the fall of Rome, but embrace Calleva’s struggle to keep the lights burning as long as it did. (Thanks again, Beach!)

The Zimmerman Verdict

If the prosecution can not close the deal with the jury, the defendant is supposed to go free. Some observations from Jonathan Turley in USA Today- “Why was Zimmerman overcharged?“:

A juror could not simply assume Zimmerman was the aggressor. Zimmerman was largely consistent in his accounts and his account was consistent with some witnesses. After 38 prosecution witnesses, there was nothing more than a call for the jury to assume the worst facts against Zimmerman without any objective piece of evidence. That is the opposite of the standard of a presumption of innocence in a criminal trial.

Even for manslaughter, the jury had to find that Zimmerman intentionally committed an act or acts that caused the death of Martin. The jury instruction on deadly force states in part: “A person is justified in using deadly force if he reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself.” That lesser charge still brings the jury back to the question of who started the fight and how the fight unfolded. The prosecutors never had evidence to answer that question in a reasonably definitive way. The jury had no serious alternative to acquittal. That does not mean that they liked Zimmerman or his actions. It does not even mean that they believed Zimmerman. It means that they could not convict a man based on a presumption of guilt.

Under current law, one can contribute to creating a “reasonable fear” scenario, allowing the use of deadly force, by blunder or even intent. The survivor gets to testify that he was all scared and stuff, the jury has a reasonable doubt and the Zimmerman verdict results.  I don’t much care for laws that make lethal outcomes more, rather than less, likely. Giving lethal arms to fearful weaklings with a sense of empowerment just sets the stage for more tragedies like the Trayvon Martin killing.

Statesmen should be able to explain this to their fearful electorate in ways they can understand, but they are lazy and corrupted, taking checks from decidedly evil groups like ALEC and the like, rubber-stamping their cookie-cutter “model legislation” and cashing out after a few terms.

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