May 27th, 2010

#2089: "Faith"? I shouldn't read the damn paper

I really should not read the Chicago Sun-Times. Mom's got a subscription to it and I normally only read the comics pages, because the paper is otherwise full of BS. And today Mary Mitchell heaves out a steamer.

The column is titled "Fighting criminals is test of our faith" and it begins with her talking about how she had breast cancer.

The article is actually about a little shrine somewhere in Chicago, where some "youths" put up a little memorial to their friend, who got shot and ran his car into a tree a few years ago.

It begins:
When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I spent days on end crying.

It was not until I tacked on my bedroom door the biblical scriptures about healing that I was able to overcome the paralyzing fear.

Today, too many people who are living in neighborhoods under siege by young criminals are fighting the same battle.
What battle? Breast cancer? Oh, I get it--she means trying to overcome paralyzing fear.

...nowhere in the article, after that, does she mention faith, until the end:
Most of us catch a glance of young black men like the ones I encountered and assume the worst, in the same way the people who took a quick look at a T-shirt hanging on the tree came to a wrong conclusion.

I understand why many of us are afraid to talk to or even acknowledge the young black males who run up and down our blocks contributing to the chaos that often erupts into violence.

But we have to tackle our fear.

It is not possible to reduce the carnage without interacting with those who are most likely to become the victims or the perpetrators.

This is when we need to work our faith.
"Work our faith"?

Look, people tend to mistrust young black men for a reason: statistically they are the most violent and crime-ridden demographic in the nation. Particularly when they wear what Mitchell describes as "...the urban uniform: you know, sagging pants and white sleeveless T-shirts." That stuff says "gangbanger", and "gangbanger" means "trouble".

It has nothing to do with "faith", and everything to do with probability.

Ms. Mitchell's "solution" to the problem of urban crime is, essentially, that people should believe gangbangers are actually nice young men--they should "work their faith" and believe--rather than, y'know, address the issues of self-defense and lack of police presence and teenage mothers having out-of-wedlock babies all growing up suckling at the government teat.

She seems to think that it's not the inner city that's broken; oh no! It's our attitudes which need adjusting.

She's wrong.

* * *

Meanwhile, there's been some violence at the beach--imagine that, inner-city violence moves towards the Gold Coast when the weather warms up!--and the solution? Video cameras! We'll put up video cameras at the beach! We're not going to let people own firearms or anything, no, but we'll put up video cameras.

An 18-year-old woman got beaten up by a group of six teenage boys. Gee! Teenage boys! Were they wearing "...the urban uniform: you know, sagging pants and white sleeveless T-shirts"? Eh? The article doesn't say, but one can safely assume that if it took six boys to handle one girl, in all probability they were gangbangers.

And the writers of this piece--Fran Spielman and Frank Main--managed to slip a major blunder past the editor. I quote: "Mayor Daley said Wednesday that he wants the Police Department and Park District to draw a line in the sand--literally--because of those incidents."

..."literally"? How's that going to help? "Attention criminals! There is now a line drawn here in the sand. Do not commit crimes here!"

They don't provide any explanation of how Daley wants this line drawn, nor where it will be drawn, exactly, nor who's going to pay for it, nor how it will be maintained. (Don't they have to solicit bids for this kind of work?) They don't include the quote wherein Daley supposedly asked those agencies to literally draw a line in the sand, either.

I therefore assume it's a rhetorical device, incorrectly applied to emphasize a statement. Because I really do doubt Daley literally wants a line drawn in the sand.

* * *

On the editorial page, David McGrath demands that Washington, D.C. cut highway funds for states which don't have mandatory helmet laws. Why?

Because his childhood buddy, riding a motorcycle without a helmet, crashed and died.

"Surely I am not alone in wondering at the inequity of Illinois legislators OKing multiple safety requirements for the modern automobile while closing its eyes to the two-wheeled slaugher in the adjacent lane."


"Think about the safeguards mandated to keep up alive in automobiles: seat belts, air bags, energy-absorbing bumpers, steel beams in the roof and doors."

...David, I hate to tell you this, but none of those things are mandated by Illinois law. All that stuff comes from the federal government.

As for your buddy: I sympathize with you--really I do--but it's not the lack of a helmet law which killed your friend Frank. Frank was killed because he chose not to wear a helmet.

I'm assuming that both Dave and Frank were considerably younger than their 90s. David refers to Frank's death and then says, "Thirty years later..." so assume Frank died in 1980. He gives no other details; just that "...he skidded and flew." What was Frank doing? How fast was he going?

In 1980, they knew about wearing helmets when riding motorcycles. You could actually buy helmets in a variety of shapes and sizes and colors! Even then!

Frank chose not to wear a helmet. Perhaps if he had been wearing a helmet thirty years ago he might still be alive; perhaps not. I could evaluate the probabilities if I knew what other factors were involved in Frank's death. Was he speeding? Had he been drinking? Was another vehicle involved? Why did he skid? The article doesn't say; I don't know.

What I do know is that we don't need another federal law mandating how we should behave.

* * *

Apparently there is some kind of scandal surrounding taxicabs with salvage titles.

...I don't know what the problem is. A wrecked car, properly repaired, is as safe as any other car, regardless of what its title says. But since I can count my use of cabs over the past few years only by resorting to fractions (I've used a cab three times since 2001) I can say with authority that I don't really give a rat's ass about any of this.

* * *

Now I have to go cut the grass.

#2090: Why am I so tired?

All I did today was cut the grass, and do a little light pruning, yet I feel like I did a hell of a lot more work than that. My arms hurt.

* * *

Dennis says, "Let's all panic!" Apparently one of the leading economic indicators is contracting--in perfect accordance with the prediction of anyone who knows something about economics--and it's not even necessarily bad, yet the Obama administration is panicking about it.

* * *

Obama is a wartime President, yet he's not going to be laying any wreaths in Arlington this year. He's going to let Biden do it, because after all that ceremonial stuff is just boring and tedious and beneath His Nibs, don't you know.

* * *

But we should shut up and be grateful that Obama finally held a press conference, 308 days after his last one!

...and of course his answers were fed to him via teleprompter. Who lets a President get away with using a teleprompter at a press conference? Why, the White House Press Corps, for one. (Though, to be fair, Obama wouldn't let 'em back in if they were critical of him in any way.)

* * *

The Chicago news media is really trying to make it look as if huge crowds had gathered to see Obama arrive in his neighborhood, but those huge crowds simply don't exist any longer. No matter where he shows up, he's more likely to see protest signs than supporters.

I have to wonder what the TV cameras didn't show from the Kenwood neighborhood the Obama family calls "home". And where Obama is hiding this weekend instead of, you know, doing his duty to the soldiers under his command by honoring the fallen soldiers in Arlington.

* * *

Ha! I scoff at this because there will never be competition in the educational system as long as the teachers' unions have their way.

* * *

Why be shocked or surprised that many Chinese factories are sweatshops? Did you really think people in the glorious workers' paradise of China actually think they live in a glorious workers' paradise, as opposed to an endless hell of drudgery?

* * *

A good post over at Non-Original Rants about gun crime in Chicago. I like all of it. It's three moderately-sized paragraphs, so just go over and read it. It's 100% on-target.

* * *

Power failure today, about three-quarter hour's worth, and it totally wonked the program guide in the satellite box. I couldn't set it to autotune anything, and there was a Modern Marvels ep about steam power on after the last episode of FlashForward.

FF ended. 90% of the storyline of the TV series was left completely unresolved. As the series ended, there was another flash forward, about 12 minutes after the first one was resolved. The second one took place while Mark Benford was trying to get out of the FBI building, which bad guys (presumably the main bad guys, since they were disguised as bomb squad dudes to get inside to kill Benford) had wired to explode with lots of bombs.

It sucks that this series is over. *sigh* apparently there's this new series starting June 20, Scoundrels, and the only reason I have even the slightest bit of interest in seeing it is that Virginia Madsen is in it. So I'll watch the pilot and see what I think.

* * *

Wait, I figured it out:

I was up until an ungodly hour. I think I didn't get to sleep before 7 AM. Scythandra was running around Netherstorm, following the Manaforge quest chain and gathering a shit-ton of netherweave.

Also, I discovered that the Scryers have a portal trainer! So I jumped onto Ormus for a bit and had him get the Shattrath portal.

Once I had decided it was time to sleep, though, I got into a conversation with some guildies, and that took another half hour at least.

On the plus side, it cooled dramatically last night. I opened my windows before going to bed and slept comfortably for six hours, before getting up and getting started on my day.

It makes me glad I didn't cut the grass on Tuesday, let me tell you.