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Stand Your Ground’s Fatal Flaw, DNA Meets Dog Poop, Arizona’s Bigotry, Adidas’s Sex Tourism: The Live Wire

| February 26, 2014

Memories of Big, at FAO Schwartz. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

Memories of Big, at FAO Schwartz. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

Today’s Live Wire: Quick Links

Locke and Load: Stand Your Ground’s Fatal Flaw

The original Stand Your Ground vigilante: Bernhard Goetz.

The original Stand Your Ground vigilante: Bernhard Goetz.

Firmin Debrabander, associate professor of philosophy at the Maryland Institute College of Art and author of “Spinoza and the Stoics,” in The Times: “Stand Your Ground has already done damage to civil society by encouraging gun owners to carry their weapons in public, and reach for them quickly, instinctively. It promises to escalate minor altercations into deadly conflicts. And the law will surely motivate others to be armed, too, if only to protect themselves from trigger-happy citizens like Reeves or Dunn. Stand Your Ground propels us into the worst kind of armed society. […] In a certain light, the statute is a great victory for the sovereignty of the individual, empowering each person to be his own judge and executive of the law in the heat of the moment. Such a view is often supported by way of reference to “natural rights,” divine (biblical) authority, and even in some cases, philosophical theory. Among the most important intellectual allies referenced in the American defense of self-defense is John Locke, the Enlightenment thinker who profoundly influenced America’s founding fathers and our present notion of liberal society. […] Our innate drive for justice may well lead us astray — and be foiled. When we fail to grasp all the facts of a situation, such as the real intentions of a perceived attacker (or the state of his “weapon” — popcorn, for example), this may lead us to react with excessive and unjust force. In such cases, I need what Locke calls a Common Judge who might inform me better. An independent, objective Common Judge, to whom I shall defer, is one mark of civil society. Without recourse to a Common Judge, violent reprisals spawn violent reprisals in turn, which are each seemingly just, and a cycle of violence — a state of war — is born. Civil society, and its institution of a Common Judge who takes over executing the law of nature, relieves us of the “Inconveniences of the State of Nature,” Locke argues — which can be dire indeed. Proponents and defenders of Stand Your Ground effectively wish to return us to a State of Nature and its attendant “Inconveniences” — and dangers. [The NRA’s Wayne] LaPierre urges individuals to presume the worst about supposed assailants — damn the consequences. As Locke has it, however, civil society is characterized by a departure from such presumption. When individuals feel such strong passions — anger, fear, hatred — and are liable to act irrationally and regrettably, that is precisely when they must be prevented, as far as possible, from wielding definitive force. And they must be thus prevented in order to honor and promote the instinct for justice surging through us. This is the critical role that civil society plays; for Locke, it perfects nature. Gun rights advocates argue that we must arm more people, and empower them to wield their guns confidently and boldly if we would achieve greater law and order. They have it wrong. More guns, and more emboldened gun owners, lead to more travesties of justice, more chaos, vendettas, a state of war, Locke would say. Ironically, this also defeats the other cause célèbre of the gun rights movement: autonomy. For gun rights advocates, the gun is the premier mark of individual sovereignty. I believe this is what makes the gun rights movement especially intoxicating for millions of Americans, and resistant to reform and regulation. However, autonomy is doomed in a Stand Your Ground world. It makes no sense to speak of autonomy, freedom, or self-determination in a state of war. As Locke knew too well, the sovereignty of the individual is intolerably tenuous where all are sovereign. Of course, this suits the N.R.A. just fine, and the industry whose interests it represents.” The full post.

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DNA Meets Dog Poop in Naples

Sniffing for DNA.

Sniffing for DNA.

From the Times: “The problem is as universal as cockroaches, and seemingly as unsolvable. Urban dog ownership demands a balance of love and duty, and not everyone is dutiful about cleaning up after the morning walk. Cities have tried everything from the postal service (a Spanish mayor mailed the stuff back to dog owners) to shaming (some cities have publicized the names of offending owners) to bribery (some parks in Mexico City offered free Wi-Fi in exchange for bags of waste). Naples has opted for science and technology. The idea is that every dog in the city will be given a blood test for DNA profiling in order to create a database of dogs and owners. When an offending pile is discovered, it will be scraped up and subjected to DNA testing. If a match is made in the database, the owner will face a fine of up to 500 euros, or about $685. The DNA initiative might seem a tad ambitious for Naples, a city that struggles to collect the garbage. Apartment complexes and condo associations across the United States are increasingly using similar programs, but Naples represents a much bigger canine population, with estimates of more than 80,000 dogs in the city. […] the campaign so far is limited to Vomero and the adjacent neighborhood of Arenella, and costs more than $27,000. Teams of police officers and health workers started joint patrols in January to spread awareness of the program and hand out a few fines. At the city’s veterinary hospital, technicians have taken blood samples from about 200 dogs, many of them accompanied by owners who were appalled by the problem.” The full story.

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Child Obesity Falls

childhood obesity

At least it’s getting better.

From CNN: “Obesity rates in children 2 to 5 years old have decreased significantly over the past decade, according to a new study published Tuesday. While there were no significant changes in obesity rates for most ages between 2003-2004 and 2011-2012, researchers saw a 43% decline in this group’s rates — from 13.9% to 8.4%, according to the study published in JAMA, the journal of the American Medical Association.
A big part of a child’s obesity risk is already established by age 5, according to a study published in January. The study findings were announced the same day as first lady Michelle Obama proposed new rules to limit the types of foods and beverages that can be advertised in schools and marked the fourth anniversary of her Let’s Move! initiative to combat child obesity. Under the suggested federal regulations, companies would no longer be permitted to use logos of high-calorie products such as regular sodas on cups, vending machines or posters. […] In January 2012, the USDA issued its new rules for school meals, which are being phased in over a three-year period. Cafeterias must offer fruits and vegetables at every meal, reduce sodium and some types of fat and keep to calorie minimums and maximums. The government agency followed up six months later with new rules for snack foods. The regulations set limits for fat, salt and sugar sold in school vending machines and snack bars.
The USDA has faced opposition over the new rules — from student athletes who say they’re not getting enough calories to administrators who say kids just aren’t buying the healthier options.” The full story.

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Devaluing Honors Classes

grade inflationFrom the Tampa Bay Times: In Pinellas County schools, “Students will earn a half-point less toward their grade-point average for earning an “A” in an honors class than for the same grade earned in more challenging Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and dual-enrollment courses. Pinellas superintendent Mike Grego brought the idea up a year ago after meeting with a group of high school students. The juniors and seniors suggested that honors classes be weighted less than more difficult courses. […] The state already requires that AP, IB and dual-enrollment be weighted the same, Grego said. School districts have discretion with honors classes. The School Board approved the change Tuesday with no discussion. It will apply to students who enter ninth grade in the 2014/15 school year. Current high school students won’t be affected.” The full story.

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It’s Not Just Arizona: Other States Copy Gay-Bigotry Bill

arizona-boycotts-illegalsFrom Politico: “A Missouri state senator on Monday introduced legislation that could provide cover for businesses to deny service to same-sex couples. In Georgia, two versions of a similar bill in the state House and Senate are moving quickly through the Legislature. In Kansas, a similar bill already passed Republican-led House earlier this month. While those bills aren’t drawing the national attention of Arizona’s, they all aim to accomplish similar goals — giving businesses the ability to refuse service to customers based on religious beliefs. […] Legislation ensuring businesses can’t be sued for denying service to gay customers grew in popularity following well-reported cases like Hobby Lobby’s Obamacare exemption lawsuit, and a Colorado lawsuit in which a judge ordered a baker to provide a wedding cake for a gay couple or face fines. […] Arizona’s Republican Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake are among those who have encouraged Gov. Jan Brewer to veto the bill, SB 1062. The measure also threatens the state’s designation as host for the Super Bowl next year, and McCain has suggested it will hurt the state’s economy. Brewer has until Saturday to sign or veto the bill. She hasn’t indicated her intentions, except to say she will “do the right thing” for her state.” The full story.

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Adidas’s Sexual Tourism in Brazil

T-shirts withdrawn by Adidas for the Brazil World Cup.From the Guardian: “Adidas agreed on Tuesday to stop selling two raunchy T-shirts months ahead of the World Cup in Brazil after the government complained that they associated the country with sexual tourism. One shirt shows a bikini-clad woman with open arms on a sunny Rio de Janeiro beach under the words “Looking to Score”. The other has an “I love Brazil” heart resembling the upside-down buttocks of a woman wearing a thong bikini bottom. […] The shirt designs touched a nerve in Brazil, where people often complain about foreign stereotypes of Brazilian sensuality. Brazil’s government is campaigning aggressively to shed the country’s reputation as a destination for sex tourism. […] The shirts went on sale in Adidas shops in the US while Brazil is preparing to host the World Cup soccer tournament, which kicks off on 12 June. Adidas is one of the main sponsors of the event organised by soccer’s governing body, Fifa, and the maker of its official ball. Dilma Rousseff – Brazil’s first female president – said her government would crack down on sex tourism and the exploitation of children and adolescents during the ccompetition, which is expected to draw 600,000 foreign fans. […] The ministry of women’s affairs said the shirts were not just offensive to Brazilian women but exposed them to the “barbarism” of sexual predators. “This is all the more shocking in a country that just elected a women as its highest authority, which brought greater respect for women and zero tolerance for any form of violence against them,” a ministry statement said.” The full story.

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In Case You Thought January Was Cold

No, January, despite the cold spells in the eastern part of the United States, was the fourth-hottest on record globally. From NOAA: According to NOAA scientists, the globally-averaged temperature over land and ocean surfaces for January 2014 was the highest since 2007 and the fourth highest for January since reliable record keeping began in 1880. It also marked the 38th consecutive January and 347th consecutive month (almost 29 years) with a global temperature above the 20th century average. The last below-average January global temperature was January 1976 and the last below-average global temperature for any month was February 1985. Most areas of the world experienced warmer-than-average monthly temperatures, with the most notable warmth across Alaska, western Canada, southern Greenland, south-central Russia, Mongolia, and northern China. Parts of southeastern Brazil and central and southern Africa experienced record warmth, contributing to the warmest January Southern Hemisphere land temperature departure on record at 2.03°F (1.13°C) above the 20th century average. Temperature departures were below the long-term average across the eastern half of the contiguous U.S, Mexico, and much of Russia. However, no regions of the globe were record cold.” Have a look:

global temperatures 2014 warming records

Click on the map for larger view.

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Raymond Chandler’s Ten Commandments of Writing a Detective Novel

detective-websiteFrom the Thrilling Detective Website:

It must be credibly motivated, both as to the original situation and the dénouement.

It must be technically sound as to the methods of murder and detection.

It must be realistic in character, setting and atmosphere. It must be about real people in a real world.

It must have a sound story value apart from the mystery element: i.e., the investigation itself must be an adventure worth reading.

It must have enough essential simplicity to be explained easily when the time comes.
It must baffle a reasonably intelligent reader.

The solution must seem inevitable once revealed.

It must not try to do everything at once. If it is a puzzle story operating in a rather cool, reasonable atmosphere, it cannot also be a violent adventure or a passionate romance.

It must punish the criminal in one way or another, not necessarily by operation of the law….If the detective fails to resolve the consequences of the crime, the story is an unresolved chord and leaves irritation behind it.

It must be honest with the reader.

The Netanyahu Merkel Hitler Photo

From Bag News Notes: “Yes, sometimes the connection between one visual and another is so blatant, it commandeers our mental hard drive in connecting the dots. The pieces in play around that “mustache” are just too rich here – given the behavior of a shadow in combination with the presence of the Israeli Prime Minister, the German Chancellor and the infamy of that lip ornament. Of course, what raises the photo to “epic” is everything ironic that gets baked in also: the fact Bibi is projecting a Hitler vibe on a comparatively low alpha German chancellor, and a female one to boot. The fact Merkel’s gaze and profile is in the ballpark too. And the fact that Bibi, being his usual imposing self with that digit, is continuously evoking the Holocaust … and stands for nothing if not the triumph of the will.” See more. The image:


Mozart:Piano Concerto No. 21 in C major, K. 467: Maurizio Pollini, piano, Ricardo Muti, dir. (2004)

Wikipedia does an excellent play-by-play of the concerto: “The opening movement begins quietly with a march figure, but quickly moves to a more lyrical melody interspersed with a fanfare in the winds. The music grows abruptly in volume, with the violins taking up the principal melody over the march theme, which is now played by the brass. This uplifting theme transitions to a brief, quieter interlude distinguished by a sighing motif in the brass. The march returns, eventually transitioning to the entrance of the soloist. The soloist plays a brief Eingang (a type of abbreviated Cadenza) before resolving to a trill on the dominant G while the strings play the march in C major. The piano then introduces new material in C major and begins transitioning to the dominant key of G major. Immediately after an orchestral cadence finally announces the arrival of the dominant, the music abruptly shifts to G minor in a passage that is reminiscent of the main theme of the Symphony No. 40 in that key.[5] A series of rising and falling chromatic scales then transition the music to the true second theme of the piece, an ebullient G major theme which Mozart had previously used in his Third Horn Concerto. The usual development and recapitulation follow. There is a cadenza at the end of the movement, although Mozart’s original has been lost.

The famous Andante is in three parts. The opening section is for orchestra only and features muted strings. The first violins play with a dreamlike melody over an accompaniment consisting of second violins and violas playing repeated-note triplets and the cellos and bass playing pizzicato arpeggios. All of the major melodic material of the movement is contained in this orchestral introduction, in either F major or F minor. The second section introduces the solo piano and starts off in F major. It is not a literal repeat, though, as after the first few phrases, new material is interjected which ventures off into different keys. When familiar material returns, the music is now in the dominant keys of C minor and C major. More new material in distant keys is added, which transitions to the third section of the movement. The third section begins with the dreamlike melody again, but this time in A-flat major. Over the course of this final section, the music makes it way back to the tonic keys of F minor and then F major and a short coda concludes the movement.

The final rondo movement begins with the full orchestra espousing a joyous “jumping” theme. After a short cadenza, the piano joins in and further elaborates. A “call and response” style is apparent, with the piano and ensemble exchanging parts fluidly. The soloist gets scale and arpeggio figurations that enhance the themes, as well as a short cadenza that leads right back to the main theme. The main theme appears one final time, leading to an upward rush of scales that ends on a triumphant note.

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1 Response for “Stand Your Ground’s Fatal Flaw, DNA Meets Dog Poop, Arizona’s Bigotry, Adidas’s Sex Tourism: The Live Wire”

  1. confidential says:

    Thank you for the delightful Mozart reminders enclosed above as I fully enjoyed them.
    Keep up the strong winning hand in your battle and get well.

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