For those of you who are interested mainly in my blogging on the Portland bomb sting case, bookmark this link to stay up to date.
Some notable posts that you may be interested in:
For those of you who are interested mainly in my blogging on the Portland bomb sting case, bookmark this link to stay up to date.
Some notable posts that you may be interested in:
As far as I know, Harvard Law School's employment numbers are strong enough that there's no need for it to play games. That said, you have to wonder how tempted HLS is to take advantage of the most famous member of its graduating class -- that being John Cochran, aka the winner of "Survivor: Caramoan."
Of course, Cochran isn't even the only winner with a JD (technically, I don't think he's been awarded his JD yet); Yul Kwon, who won "Survivor: Cook Islands," has a JD from Yale.
Anyway, Cochran also has a job already . . . as Entertainment Weekly's "Big Brother" recapper. Hmm, as far as I know, "Big Brother" only airs in the summer, so will Cochran still count as employed 9 months after graduation? Then again, winning "Survivor" and the $1 million has got to count somehow, right?
The other night, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (yes, if I watch a late-night talk show, it's Leno's) had a pretty hilarious skit with Trevor Moore and Mikey Day. Basically, the two guys sit around in some L.A. location like Universal City and Dare each other to do goofy things with passersby.
In this particular sketch, Mikey challenged Trevor to go pick up women . . . using only lines from the HBO series/George R.R. Martin book series "Game of Thrones." It starts at 1:09:
This got my demented mind thinking, "Hmm, what if Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, John Boehner, Harry Reid, and Mitch McConnell were locked into a room and had to negotiate a federal budget while preceding every assertion/demand with dialogue from 'Game of Thrones'?"
OBAMA: Winter is coming. We need a federal budget that won't raise taxes except on the rich, that reduces the deficit, that preserves Social Security and Medicare, and that jumpstarts the economy.
MCCONNELL: There is only one god and his name is death. And there is only one thing we say to Death: "Not today." You already got your tax increase. No more. It's time for budget cuts.
OBAMA: Some old wounds never truly heal, and bleed again at the slightest word. The American people support raising taxes on the rich.
MCCONNELL: If I look back, I am lost. No more taxes.
PELOSI: When you play the game of thrones, you win or die. We Democrats will be happy to take back the House in 2014 at this rate.
RAND PAUL (interrupting): A ruler who hides behind paid executioners soon forgets what death is. More transparency on your kill lists and drone strikes!
BOEHNER: A man who won't listen can't hear. Can we talk spending cuts? We need to reform our entitlement programs. We can't afford what we're promising.
REID: A Lannister always pays his debts. Social Security is perfectly fine. It's got all those U.S. Treasury bonds in the Trust Fund!
BOEHNER: A mad man sees what he sees.
REID: Is it so far from madness to wisdom?
BOEHNER: Minds are like swords, I do fear. The old ones go to rust.
DARRELL ISSA (interrupting) Do the dead frighten you? Why the Benghazi cover-up?
OBAMA: Some truths did not bear saying, and some lies were necessary.
PELOSI: A true man does what he will, not what he must. We got the Affordable Care Act through, and we'll get our budget through.
MCCONNELL: Most men would rather deny a hard truth than face it.
(ten hours later, with no agreement)
OBAMA: I swear to you, sitting a throne is a thousand times harder than winning one.
OBAMA: Spikes. Heads. Walls.
I love Amazon, both as a customer and as an investor (I own a little bit). Obviously, its pricing is usually fantastic, and Prime is well worth the $79/year for me (and getting better with more instant videos available for free streaming). The downside of Amazon's dominance is that it has been killing off local stores, ranging from small used bookstores to even once-mighty chains like Borders.
But what's sometimes overlooked in the reasons for Amazon's success is its customer service. Amazon's shipping is reliable. I think in my long history as a customer, there's only been one instance when it wasn't able to fulfill an order that it accepted, and it was fairly diligent about letting me know within a reasonable amount of time.
Let's contrast that with my recent (ongoing) very negative experience with Sears. I ordered my wife's birthday present a full 10 days in advance. The item showed as "not available from warehouse but will ship directly from one of our stores," with a promised delivery date the day before her birthday. Okay . . . nine days seems like an awfully long time to fulfill the order, but whatever, there was an extra day just in case.
My credit card was charged immediately. (Amazon, on the other hand, does not charge my card until the items actually ship.)
I received an order confirmation email and then . . . silence. Now, I probably should have followed up on the absence of a shipping confirmation email, but when I checked my order status online, it showed as "SHIPPED" -- though oddly, with no tracking number. [Deceptive practice? As you'll see, it had NOT shipped at that time, or perhaps even now.]
The day that the present was supposed to arrive, it did not. I checked the order status online again, and it still showed the same information (and lack of tracking number). I opened up a live webchat window, and the Sears representative, clearly having been taught some rudimentary tricks about dealing with customers ("make sure you repeat their concerns to show that you are listening"), looked into the problem. He was unable to tell me when I would receive the package. He promised to send this matter to the research department to see what happened, and told me that I would receive a response within 15 days.
15 days? This after repeating that he understood how disappointing it was not to have my wife's present delivered on time.
Not long after, I received an email from Sears, reading in relevant part:
Thank you for shopping at Sears.com!
We are still in the process of researching your order, however wanted to follow up so you know we are still working on it. We sincerely apologize for the delay. Please allow 5-7 business days for a response. We regret any inconvenience and appreciate your continued patience.
Look for Great Ideas throughout the store and find Sears exclusive innovations from great brands like Sony, Kenmore, NordicTrack, Craftsman and Reebok.
Thank you for researching this. I appreciate your efforts, but I must say, this is a fairly disappointing experience. I placed the order 10 days ago, which I thought would be plenty of time to arrive before my wife's birthday tomorrow. Nevertheless, I can understand that sometimes unavoidable delays occur. However, the absence of a tracking number, or even the ability to determine quickly where the [item] is or if it has even shipped is shocking.
I suppose I will convert this to a Mother's Day present and have to scramble tomorrow to find a birthday present locally.
The next morning, I received the following response:
Good Morning Tung,
Thank you for contacting Sears regarding your order number XXXX. I am sorry to hear that you have not received the order.
We are currently working on the issue. You should expect to receive a response from us by 5/15/2013. The feedback that you have provided today regarding shopping experience will be taken into consideration as we continue to enhance our services to meet the needs of our customers going forward.
Tired of getting emails that simply repeated the same lack of content, I decided to call. My purpose was to see if the item had even shipped, and if it had not, to cancel the order.
The customer service agent was apparently better at researching the order than the webchat or emailers were, as she determined that it was "preparing to be shipped." I asked to cancel the order since it hadn't shipped yet.
She said that she couldn't cancel the order because it was already prepared to be shipped. I pointed out that they had already missed the delivery date, and my card was charged 11 days earlier. Why weren't they able to cancel it? She repeated that she was unable to do so.
She then told me she would pass the matter along to a supervisor, who would respond to me within 24-48 hours. Well . . . at least the timeframe for response is getting shorter.
Finally, she saked if I wanted to order anything else(!). I said, "Honestly, this experience has been so negative . . . no, I do not want to order anything else."
Instead, I was tempted to go buy a few more shares of Amazon stock. I hope Amazon eats Sears for lunch.
Ha ha ha!! I love my job, but being a TV critic might be a better one. I do see the point, though. After coming back from spring break, my beloved TiVo was bursting at the seams with recorded shows. In fact, because I had kept "Avatar" around, it actually ran out of space and deleted some other shows. D'oh! (Fortunately, I had burned those shows on a recordable DVD disc to bring on the trip.)
Perhaps what I need is this TiVo DVR that holds up to 300 hours of HD programming.
Season 4 of the reality TV singing show "The Voice" has started up, and not too soon for NBC considering how laughably bad the network's ratings have been during the show's absence. This is the show where the four judges compete against one another for bragging rights in picking their teams. The gimmick is that in the audition rounds, they sit with their backs to the contestants, so that they only hear the singing; they can't see the singer. If a judge likes what he/she hears, there's a button to hit, which turns the chair around. If multiple judges like a contestant, the contestant gets to choose which judge to work with.
In the first three seasons, the judges were Maroon 5's Adam Levine, Cee-Lo Green, Blake Shelton, and Christina Aguilera. Adam picked the winning contestant in the first season, and Blake picked the winners the past two seasons.
I wasn't really familiar with Blake's or Cee Lo's singing before the show, and I wouldn't say that I'm rushing out to buy anything of theirs now, but I've liked Blake's persona a lot; he comes across as very down to earth, self-effacing, and genuine. Cee Lo has been funny at times but also strange.
Adam's songs are the ones that appeal to me the most, naturally, but in season 3, he and Christina developed an unpleasant antagonism toward each other that played out with fairly catty comments by Christina about Adam's final contestant. I got quite sick of Christina's me-me-me-me attitude, her rude interrupting of the other judges, and her general obnoxiousness.
When NBC announced that Cee Lo and Christina were taking a break in season 4, to be replaced by Shakira and Usher, I rejoiced!
And thus far, it's been so much better having Shakira instead of Christina!! Shakira is really funny, like the time when she was trying to woo a country singer to her team -- a formidable task, given that Blake is the country singer among the judges -- and she whipped out a "Country to English" dictionary and started drawling, "Well, ah reckon you oughta join Team Shakira."
I'm going to be sad if/when season 5 brings back Christina. . . .
I missed out on "The Walking Dead" when it premiered, and I kind of regretted it, as I know it's gotten all kinds of critical acclaim -- not to mention, better ratings than just about anything on NBC, which is kind of hilarious considering how cable shows reach so many fewer households.
Anyway, I happened to catch most of this week's episode with my dad, who's been watching it enough to fill me in on the important stuff that I missed.
I was underwhelmed. I mean, the head-splattering gore was kind of interesting at first (wow, you can show that on TV?), but then it got repetitive. The constant hissing sound that the walking dead made didn't scare me so much as remind me of the sleestak from "The Land of the Lost," and I wasn't scared of those creatures even when I was a kid. I mean, frankly, these slow, shuffling things that seem dumber than your typical wild animal have somehow managed to bring civilization to its knees?
I get that you can't fairly judge a show with a complex mythology based on just one episode. I'm sure my favorite show "24" would come out pretty badly if you picked a particularly bad episode to start with (can you say, Kim Bauer and the mountain lion?). But I've got enough TV to watch as it is, so I'm glad that my one experience with "The Walking Dead" didn't leave me thinking, oh my gosh, I've got to go back and rent/buy all the previous seasons to catch up!
That's the title of an interesting blog post following last week's entirely predictable trainwreck episode where the seemingly unstable Brandon Hantz had such an utter meltdown during camp that his tribe, the "Favorites," arrived at the Immunity Challenge and openly forfeited!
Now, there have been past challenges where a tribe has purposefully lost so that it could vote out a member, but was different. The Favorites announced that they were forfeiting, and when host Jeff Probst inquired, it quickly came out that everyone wanted to get rid of Brandon.
Brandon melted down again, and Jeff wisely beckoned Brandon over to separate him from the rest of his tribe. Jeff then had an impromptu Tribal Council sans fire, paper, and vote-collecting pot. Instead, everyone voted vocally (and openly), and in front of the "Fans" tribe.
Whew! Never seen that before in "Survivor."
Chuck Duncan, author of the blog post linked above, concludes:
As it stands now, Survivor is limping to its death, collapsing under the weight of producer mandated stories that have corrupted not only the game play, but the real social experiment that the early seasons were. That’s partly because everyone knows how to play Survivor now, but keeping the focus on the challenges could ultimately keep the players focused on strategy that doesn’t involve seeing who can be the most mentally unstable person in the game. Start going through those submissions from real people who want to play and pick the best people for the game, not the most dramatic. I’d rather see two tribes of strategic, strong players battling it out instead of a bunch of pretty faces who would rather sit around and pick off the one or two strong players who want to be there, leaving us with a bunch of people who can only be interesting after the final edit (and most of the time, not even that helps). And stop bringing back former players every season! This should be an exception, not a rule. And, seriously, if they ever bring back Russell and Brandon together — as they would both like to do and are actively campaigning for the chance — they will have finally lost this faithful viewer.
I have to admit, this season has been a snoozefest thus far. Most "Survivor" seasons take a bit of time to get going, because in the beginning, there are so many players (16-20) that many get little screen time and thus don't stand out. There are exceptions, of course -- Russell Hantz (despised by Mr. Duncan, but beloved by me), Coach, and others made strong impressions from day 1 of their original seasons.
This only reinforces the fact that "Survivor" is heavily dependent on casting. It's not that there has to be conflict, backstabbing, and the potential for meltdowns, though that does seem to drive a lot of the interesting seasons. "Survivor: Palua" is an example of a relatively conflict-free season that was still fascinating. (If you aren't a "Survivor" junkie, this was the season won by fireman Tom Westman, where the other tribe lost pretty much every single immunity challenge and got whittled down to a single player before the merge!)
"Survivor: Caramoan" (the current season) is boring so far because none of the "fans" has done anything yet to stand out, and the "favorites" are mostly anything but favorites. When the most interesting player is kooky federal agent(?)* Philip Sheppard, something is wrong. . . . I'm not sure how they came up with the "favorites" tribe, but half of them are people I can't even remember. Francesca? Well, I do remember her, but only because Philip couldn't pronounce her name at Tribal Council during their initial season. Malcolm, who went far in the previous season, is a deserving returnee, I'll grant. And I suppose Cochran's nerdy goofiness is worth a return visit. But that's about it.
But whereas Mr. Duncan sees the problem as too much "casting," and not enough bringing aboard regular people, not to mention, too many "all-star" seasons, I actually like the all-star seasons when they're done right. "Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains" remains my all-time favorite season ever by far, and it's because virtually every single player that season was interesting to watch. "Survivor: Micronesia" (the first fans vs. favorites) was also pretty good because the favorites were well-picked, and they got lucky with some of the fans as well.
So, I don't think "Survivor" is broken beyond repair. I think this season is a dud so far; it might recover to the level of mediocrity, but next season could get back on track with the right people.
Here's an interesting comment on the TiVo Community board that compares the impact of Michael Mann and Ridley Scott as directors. (The main thread is devoted to the pilot episode of FX's "The Americans," which is quite a rocking show if you haven't seen it yet -- and if not, fear not, there's a mini-marathon this Friday that will get you caught up.)
[Mann] did Miami Vice and Ridley Scott did Blade Runner at pretty much the same time, and they both seemed very forward-looking. But Miami Vice today looks quaint and old-fashioned, whereas people are still imitating the look of Blade Runner.
Which to me makes Michael Mann somebody who had a vague notion of where the culture was going and did a brilliant job of shaking off some (but not all) of the deeply-embedded tropes of the day, and Ridley Scott a visionary who not only saw very clearly where the culture was going, but helped shape it.
Which isn't to say Michael Mann wasn't important in 1984. It just wasn't a lasting kind of importance. He rode the wave, which is more than most people ever accomplish. Ridley Scott WAS the wave.
I can see what the commenter is saying, and it's undeniable that the dystopian look of "Blade Runner" continues to exert influence, not just in "The Matrix" trilogy, but countless other sci-fi movies and TV shows.
At the same time, I look at Ridley Scott and Michael Mann, and I can't help but notice this comparison, which is much less favorable to Scott:
Michael Mann took The Last of the Mohicans, which I found completely unreadable, and made an epic movie -- gorgeous in cinematography, gripping in action, and smoldering in the acting.
Ridley Scott took Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, which is one of the better (but not best) books by trippy author Philip K. Dick, stripped it of virtually all intellectual content, and made a visually stunning but empty-headed movie.
I came across this L.A. Times' list of the top 25 movies set in Los Angeles. It's hard to argue against flicks like Who Killed Roger Rabbit?, To Live and Die in L.A., and Fletch.
But no Ruthless People? C'mon, it's got everything L.A., like celebrity/rich-obsessed cops, fashion industry wannabes, diet fads, and a cynical view of Angelenos . . . .
I got to see "Argo" over the weekend and was favorably impressed, as many others have been. Obviously, the story was exaggerated to create more narrative tension, but it's a well-crafted movie. (That makes two out of two in terms of flicks directed by Ben Affleck, as I thought "Gone Baby Gone" was also really well-done.)
By coincidence, Tony Mendez's book Master of Disguise: My Secret Life in the CIA was on sale as the Kindle Daily Deal a few months ago, and I had bought it, so after the movie, I was able to go to the chapter where he described the CIA's underappreciated role in the Canadian caper. You really have to admire the courage of a guy who, in 1980, willingly flew into Tehran on a secret mission to rescue the six Americans holed up with the Canadians.
Seeing the movie did bring back the feelings of anger that I always feel when I think about the Iran hostage crisis. It's pretty well-summed up by the epilogue of the movie, where there's a scene with one of the Iranian hostage takers complaining that Canada violated Iran's sovereignty . . . . But even more, the movie reminded me that in those dark days, we had very few true friends. Canada, of course, took great risks in harboring the six escapees and then giving them forged passports to escape Iran. Great Britain and New Zealand also helped. But that was about it. And when it came to the rest of the hostages, no one lifted a finger to help us. Our "allies" wouldn't even impose economic sanctions in response to the grave violation of the international norms against holding diplomats hostage. (I recommend reading Mark Bowden's Guest of the Ayatollah if you want to get your blood pressure up.)
Anyway, one of the remarkable things about Argo is that it's a tense thriller even though (1) there's virtually no violence directed against the main characters; and (2) we already know how it turns out. That's a credit to Affleck's skills as a filmmaker.
Along a related note, I wonder if enough time has passed that someone could make a killer movie out of Operation Eagle Claw, the failed hostage rescue mission. It's long been a sore point for the United States because of how it ended, but there have been other well-regarded war movies that have had less than a happy ending ("Glory" and "Gallipilli" come to mind). Eagle Claw was stunningly audacious in planning, and Bowden's account of it in his book is gripping -- again, even though I knew the disastrous outcome.
Well, the jury rendered its verdict in the Portland bomb sting case today, convicting defendant Mohamed Mohamud of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction. The jury deliberated for about seven hours, or about a full day. It's been a hectic day for me since the verdict came out, with a lot of media interviews, so I'm just going to sketch some early thoughts that I hope to flesh out over the next few days.
1) Does 7 hours count as a short deliberation? Maybe, but then again, the OJ Simpson double homicide trial spanned nine months and yet the jury reached its decision in only four hours. Certainly the jury could've spent more time. But it also could've returned a guilty verdict in, say, 30 minutes if it was hellbent on rejecting the entrapment defense.
2) What's the implication for pending domestic terrorism cases involving undercover stings? By my count, there are at least three pending cases like this one -- Sami Osmakac in Tampa, Adel Daoud in Chicago, and Mohammad Nafis in New York -- and the defense lawyers there have got to be thinking harder about trying to get plea deals now.
3) Could it have made a difference if Mohamud had testified? I'm sure the defense team thought hard about this and they no doubt had very good reasons for resting without putting Mohamud on the stand. But you have to wonder, if he had been able to make a good impression, could he have sold the entrapment defense to the jury?
4) What's the likely sentence? I'll go through the Sentencing Guidelines later, but in a similar case in Baltimore, Antonio Martinez got 25 years.
5) Was I surprised? Not really. If he had been acquitted, I would've been surprised, but not shocked (even though it would've been the first time that an entrapment defense would've worked in a post-9/11 terrorism case). I think the key government evidence was that before the undercover agents got involved, Mohamud tried to get in touch with someone the government described as a suspected al Qaeda recruiter.
Anyway, I'll expand these thoughts in subsequent posts.
I'm sure that trial judges hate being second-guessed about their bail decisions, and with good reason. We can't realistically expect that judges will be 100% accurate in their assessments of whether particular defendants released on bail won't attempt to flee.
Still, I'm going to go out on a limb here (okay, not far at all) and suggest that the judge in the Logan Storm case really blew it. After being convicted of possession of child pornography, Storm was released on bail pending sentencing, but subject to electronic monitoring. Which he discarded today.
Now, imagine that you are the judge, trying to decide whether to grant bail to Storm. He's already been convicted, so the strongest argument one could otherwise make -- that an innocent person would be deprived of his liberty -- doesn't apply. True, he has the right to appeal so he might get that conviction overturned, but at this point, his legal status has changed from "innocent" to "guilty."
Given the typical two to three month period between conviction and sentencing, it's possible for minor crimes that one might receive a term of incarceration that would be shorter than what one would serve waiting to be sentenced. That might be an appropriate situation for bail, since credit for time served wouldn't exactly compensate for the extra amount of time one would spend in jail. With the likely sentencing range for child pornography, though, that seems not to be applicable here either.
But . . . here's the kicker: Storm previously fled the country:
In the days after the seizure of his computer and before he faced any charges in the case, he left the country, flying to London and eventually traveling to Ireland, France and Amsterdam, government filings state.
Now, his defense lawyers talked him into coming back, and hopefully they'll be able to talk him into turning himself in (again). But it's hard to see why a judge would release him on bail after conviction, knowing that he was skittish enough to flee before when there was just an investigation and not even any charges. Now that he's facing fairly certain prison time, it seems reasonable to conclude that he's an even greater flight risk than before.
I somewhat regret not getting into ABC's Count of Monte Cristo-inspired "Revenge," which is about a young woman who comes back to her hometown after years of being away, under a new identity, with the mission of destroying the rich family that drove her father to kill himself (I think that's the story).
When NBC debuted a similar show, "Deception," I decided to give it a try. In this show, the central mystery is the death by drug overdose of the older daughter of a rich family in New York. The FBI has been investigating the family related to its medical drug business but needs to get someone on the inside. How lucky for the lead FBI agent that his one-time paramour, now a San Francisco police detective, grew up in this family's house! You see, her mom worked for the family as a housekeeper/maid, and she was the same age as the now-dead older daughter, so not surprisingly, she became best friends with that girl.
(As an aside, the SF detective is African-American, as is the lead FBI agent, while the rich family is white. The show doesn't get in your face about the race relations, which I like, but I also don't think it's coincidental. There's a degree of subtlety here that works.)
Okay, so lead FBI agent talks SF detective into coming back to New York to go undercover and infiltrate the rich family. The dead daughter's funeral is the perfect entry point, and the detective's cover story is that she just got out of an abusive marriage and is looking for a new start. The dead daughter's dad shows warm feelings toward her and invites her to stay with the family for as long as she needs, and then hires her as an administrative assistant. However, some other family members are suspicious of her.
Haven't these people heard of Google? It's not like the SF detective can use a fake name; she has to be herself to be able to infiltrate the family. Yet, she was also using her real name with the SFPD. So if I were suspicious of her, after her 17 year absence, the first thing I would do is put her name in Google and see what pops up. I've got to think there would be some news stories/items about her as a police detective!!
For fairly obvious reasons, I've got Trevor Aaronson's The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI's Manufactured War on Terrorism on my to-be-read list, notwithstanding this fairly withering review by Ali Soufan, a former FBI Special Agent and one of the primary interrogators of al Qaeda's Abu Zubaydah, among other detainees. The success that Soufan had in eliciting useful information through traditional FBI rapport-building interrogation is recounted in a number of sources, including his own book and Kurt Eichenwald's 500 Days.
An impartial review of the FBI's efforts to fight terrorism after 9/11 would give it high marks overall. It gets hundreds of leads daily, and it has a duty to check them all out, no matter how dismissible they appear. The Iranian regime's 2011 plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the U.S., which was uncovered thanks to a Drug Enforcement Administration informant, is a reminder of why. Unfortunately Mr. Aaronson fails to appreciate this, and instead uses most of his pages to accuse the FBI of entrapment. Tellingly, he notes toward the end that "I am frequently asked why entrapment has never been an effective defense in the terrorism cases. I've struggled with the answer to this question." The answer, of course, is that the evidence shows that these were real threats to the U.S., and we are fortunate that the FBI intercepted them.
The Wall Street Journal has a story about how some high school swim teams in the Denver area are having to compete against Regis Jesuit High, which happens to have 5-time Olympic medalist Missy Franklin on its team:
In recent memory, no one as accomplished as Franklin has ever followed up on Olympic domination by returning to high school to lap ordinary 14-year-old freshmen. What made this possible was her decision last year to forgo an estimated $3 million a year in endorsements to remain amateur, a choice that suggested that no amount of money could corrupt her pursuit of an ordinary adolescence.
Well, I can imagine that, if I were a high school swimmer, it would kind of suck to have to swim against Franklin. But what struck me about the story is how the loudest complaints seem to be coming from Cherry Creek High School, which the WSJ described as the "New York Yankees of Colorado girls' swimming." One of the complainants who previously swam at Cherry Creek was Colorado's best female swimmer ever, after Franklin.
The story goes on to note:
Franklin also cost Cherry Creek a 27th title in 2011. "If they didn't have her, they had no chance of winning," said Cherry Creek coach Eric Craven.
I don't know, that just sounds pretty whiny to me. Basically, Cherry Creek has stomped on its opponents, and they haven't done well against Regis Jesuit these past few years because of Franklin. Why is that any more unfair than Cherry Creek's long history of dominance? I mean, it would be one thing if Regis Jesuit kept having Franklin swim against clearly inferior teams, just to run up the score, if you will. But in fact, Franklin is swimming the minimum number of meets to qualify for state championships. It just happens that one of those two meets is against Cherry Creek. Too bad for Cherry Creek, but don't we teach our kids to pick on someone their own size?
Here we are, more than ten years after the initial passage of the USA PATRIOT Act, and Hollywood keeps (inaccurately) flogging it as the source of authority for everything bad about the war on terrorism. I actually like ABC's "Scandal" quite a bit, but it falls into the same predictable trap of having bad government agents justify kidnapping, detaining, and torturing an American citizen under the PATRIOT Act.
Um, no. The PATRIOT Act does have a provision for detaining suspected terrorists without charges, but only aliens, not citizens; and it says nothing about torturing those detainees. Moreover, I don't think this provision has ever actually been used, since Guantanamo detention has been justified under the President's Commander-in-Chief powers.
Now, one of the government baddies does say that the citizen detainee is an "enemy combatant," which is closer to the mark, but that just raises the question of why the writers/producers felt it necessary to invoke the PATRIOT Act?
Jury selection started today in the Portland bomb sting plot. KGW (the local NBC affiliate) caught up with one juror who was dismissed for cause because he didn't think he could keep an open mind, not after a good friend of his was one of the four men killed in the Benghazi (Libya) attack last year.
KGW also ran a preview story last night, including a short soundbite from me about how this might be the best opportunity for the entrapment defense to work in a post-9/11 terrorism case.
This NY Times column criticizes Beyonce for taking part in Pepsi's upcoming SuperBowl promotion:
Knowles is renting her image to a product that may one day be ranked with cigarettes as a killer we were too slow to rein in. From saying, as she once did in referring to Let’s Move, that she was “excited to be part of this effort that addresses a public health crisis,” she’s become part of an effort that promotes a public health crisis.
"[R]anked with cigarettes"? Maybe it's because I don't smoke and I do drink soda (it's my vice), but I see a substantial difference between the two. The primary harm from soda, it appears, is the empty calories from the sugar. Too much sugar = too many excess calories = weight gain. But a can of regular soda has about 150 calories, which is equivalent to running 1.5 miles or so. So if I drink a can of soda a day, that would take 15 miles of running a week to burn off. Since I run ~30 miles a week, I'm 15 miles ahead!
Now, would I be healthier if I skipped the soda and took in 150 calories of, say, chocolate soy milk? Undoubtedly, but the point is that the primary harm from soda can be neutralized. I'm not a smoker, so I have no first hand experience, but it doesn't seem like the harm from smoking can be so easily neutralized by running.