Monday, December 31, 2012

So what did you mean, Torii?

Ok, I'm a Royals fan, which means I hate all things Minnesota Twin (sorry, Dan), so keep that in mind. Torii Hunter was a Twin. (He's now a Tiger, which isn't much better, but at least he's not a White Sock.) Which means I'm inclined to view a situation in the light least favorable to Hunter.

Torii Hunter is also someone who has been on the wrong side of an interview controversy before. When the story of that previous interview came out, Hunter naturally insisted he had been misquoted, taken out of context, etc. Which makes it a little easier to scoff at when he reportedly makes other controversial statements and then responds by insisting, again, that he wasn't treated fairly by the reporter. Or maybe it just means that reporters are expecting him to say controversial things and are more inclined to hear implications that aren't there?

Today's story is on the topic of gay athletes in pro sports. An LA Times reporter published a story on  Saturday questioning whether we will ever see an out gay athlete in pro sports. (Surely we can all agree that there undoubtedly have been gay male athletes sprinkled throughout MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL, etc. history. They just haven't been out while playing.) One athlete interviewed for the article was Torii Hunter.

Hunter was quoted as saying that it would be "uncomfortable" for him to have a gay teammate. The reporter writes that Hunter indicated he thought a gay teammate could divide a team. Hunter's claimed explanation is that as a Christian, he believes biblically that homosexuality is not right.

Naturally, Hunter has subsequently issued a statement that he was taken out of context and that he's a very tolerant, loving person. I can't help but notice, though, that he doesn't deny making the statements, just that they were really two separate sentences that shouldn't have been combined. And he doesn't explain what the two separate sentences are. "It will be difficult and uncomfortable," is a pretty succinct sentence, so I'm not really sure how it should be separated or interpreted differently. Was he just not talking about having a gay teammate at all in that statement? Many, many people have asked him on twitter to explain what he really said and/or meant (myself included), but he has yet to respond. I wish he would because I would like to have a conversation about why he is seemingly hiding behind his religion to express that being around a gay man would make him "uncomfortable."

I'm going to assume he actually said that, since he didn't deny saying it. So then I want to ask him how he feels about having teammates who cheat on their wives? How does he feel about having teammates who have sex outside of the bonds of matrimony? Because we know he has teammates who commit those actions that the bible tells him are not right. He must have teammates who lie and swear. He probably has had a teammate or two who haven't always done right by their parents. And I'm willing to bet he has had a teammate at some point in time who paid for a woman's abortion. Heck, he himself doesn't keep the Sabbath, because I've personally watched him play baseball on Sunday. So why isn't he uncomfortable having himself as a teammate? I'd also like to ask him whether he thinks his personal comfort level should have anything to do with what kind of lives his teammates live? Does he think a teammate should have to keep certain parts of his life in a closet, so to speak?

What I really want to learn, whether from Torii Hunter or someone else who uses Christianity as an excuse for excluding gays, what is it about homosexuality that makes it this extra special kind of sin that trumps all others? I admit there is a lot about Christianity and biblical doctrines that I don't get, but this one is at the very top. If everyone is a sinner, why does this sin count against people so much more than others? I would have thought murder would be the top one. But this Christian sin thing is only ever cited as an explanation (excuse) for excluding the gays. That makes me uncomfortable.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Gun fight at the Little Ceasars

I have a really simple rule to propose. How about we all agree not to shoot people? Just don't shoot people.

Definitely don't shoot the guy next to you at the pizza place when he starts complaining that his pizza is taking too long. How one guy complaining and the other guy chiding him turned into a tussle is beyond me. Two grown men, complete strangers, shouldn't get into a fight at a pizza shop. It's nuts to me to think these two men got to that point. (I wonder if this is the good male aggression Charlotte Allen was asking for?)

But it went beyond two grown men tussling over some ridiculous non-issue. Because one of them has a concealed carry permit and was packing. So he brought out his gun and shot the other guy. Twice. And now he's claiming this is all ok because this is Florida and he has a right to stand his ground.


No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. (Yes, Barney Stinson, 16 nos.)

You don't get to shoot a guy you wrestled with at a pizza place. For crying out loud. How do you even get to the point of thinking that is a rational response? Imagine how terrifying this must have been for the employees and other customers. As a nation, we're all a little on edge about guns and random shootings right now. We don't really expect to get shot when we stop to pick up a $5 pizza special, but if we do hear a gun shot, we'd probably all lose it a little. Because it's in the back of all of our minds, that you really can't know that the next crazy with a gun won't walk into your restaurant or store or parking lot.

There's an old adage that you don't bring a knife to a gun fight. Well, it works the other way, too. You don't get to bring a gun to a fist fight and then hide behind a self-defense claim. You just don't get to shoot people. I have read Florida's "stand your ground" law. It doesn't allow for an idiot man who gets into a stupid fight at a pizza shop with another idiot man to pull out a gun and face no consequences.  How on earth can any rational person think it does? We have gone down the rabbit hole if people actually believe this kind of nonsense is legal self-defense.

Just don't shoot people, ok? Maybe don't take your guns into the Little Ceasars and then you won't be tempted to pull out your gun when the guy in front of you gets a little too loud in his complaining. Maybe consider some anger management classes if you're getting into wrestling matches with random strangers.  Maybe just think about walking away if someone gets you that riled up. But, really, don't shoot people. Just don't.

Oh hell no, part 3

Some things you find on the web are just so unbelievable, so outrageous, so obnoxious, you have no choice but to share them. I find I need validation that the thing I've found is as insane as I thought. Charlotte Allen's thoughts on the Newtown shooting is that insane thing for the day. (I didn't expect anything to top the cavity search video. At least not today.)

Charlotte Allen thinks the problem in Newtown was that there weren't any big, burly men to take out the shooter. She's even sorry that none of the huskier 12 year-old boys converged on him. Really. Go read it. It's unbelievable. I just have to quote you my absolute favorite line. "But in general, a feminized setting is a setting in which helpless passivity is the norm." (If she can write that, she clearly doesn't hang out with the same kind of women I do...)

Now, when you're done laughing or screaming or your head has finished exploding...

Oh, so many things. First, no husky 6th grade boys could save the school because it was a K-4 school. Second, many of the staffers did try to take out the shooter, so there goes her "helpless passivity" crap. And, as this writer in Slate points out, the big burly men who tried to take out Jared Loughner in Arizona didn't all fare so well. I'd guess somewhere in the Aurora theater, there was a man or two. It isn't a function of sex that stopping a guy with a gun isn't that easy.

Know what would have happened if a couple of former high school football players had been at Sandy Hook? They would likely have suffered the same fate that the school principal and psychologist suffered because no matter the size or sex of the person lunging at the maniac with the high-powered weapon, the maniac with the high-powered weapon has the advantage. But this insane woman thinks that 6th grade boys could magically do more than the adult women who died simply because they have more testosterone? She would urge young boys to step in front of their teachers because they are better equipped to do it simply by virtue of their sex? That's just insane and not even a little bit what we should be teaching our kids to do in times of crisis.

I was unaware that the Y chromosome included body armor. Or some kind of Matrix-y special ability to slow down time and contort the body to avoid a bullet's path. I also didn't know that two X chromosomes made women pathetic, helpless lumps of passivity.

This piece is so offensive to the educators at that school who did all they could to save their students. They hid students in closets, lunged at a madman with a gun, took bullets and shielded children. For this woman to suggest that these women were helpless and passive denigrates them and spits on their efforts and their sacrifices. She should be ashamed of herself. I know I am.

Ugh, and she gets paid to spew this crap. Ugh!

Oh hell no, part 2

Should the police get to conduct intrusive body cavity searches on the side of the road for no other reason than an officer insists he smells marijuana? All together now:

Oh, hell no!

Do we need to make cops everywhere go through a Fourth Amendment refresher course? How does any cop anywhere not know that this course of action is utterly, totally, and in all other ways unacceptable? You do not get to conduct body cavity searches on the side of a public highway! And for crying out loud, if you're gonna do it, at least have the good sense to have a "malfunctioning" dashcam. Because there is absolutely no mistaking what the officer is doing. I can't imagine anyone watching that video and not being horrified. If I were the lawyer defending the lawsuit (yes, the two women have filed a lawsuit, as they should have done), no way would I ever, ever want a jury to watch that video. A jury sees that video and the case is over.

I don't think I even need to bother explaining why this search is bad, bad, bad. It's self-evident, isn't it? If two people in a public place groped each other the way this cop groped these women, they would be arrested. It's way beyond the scope of a car search. I'm skeptical of the basis for the car search to begin with, as any defense attorney would be, because I can't even count how many times I've heard that "I can smell pot" line. Shoot, I've even heard of a cop swearing he smelled unburnt marijuana. Sure ya did, buddy. It's just the most convenient, unproveable, and oft-used excuse cops always come up with so they can search a car when they have no good reason to search. I've just never heard it used as an excuse to digitally penetrate a woman on a public street.

After finding absolutely nothing in these body cavity searches, the cops oh-so-kindly let the women go with a warning. As if that would make the women feel so grateful that they'd forget to complain to anyone about the outrageous abuse they'd suffered. Surprising that didn't work,  isn't it?

These cops need to be fired. These women need to win their lawsuit. And, please, let's not make anyone else endure this kind of humiliation and abuse. Oh, and maybe we should all thank a public defender or civil rights attorney for challenging this kind of outrageous governmental behavior.


The female officer who actually conducted the cavity searches has been suspended with pay. The male officer has not been suspended, a fact I find curious. From my reading of the first story, I had the impression that he specifically called for a female officer, which led me to believe he intended for the female officer to conduct intrusive searches. If that is the case, he should also be suspended. Even if it's not the case, he sure didn't put a stop to the searches. Prosecutors regularly argue that kind of non-action makes my clients aiders and abettors. I don't see why that same logic shouldn't apply here.

Monday, December 17, 2012

You can't do that, Paragould.

Oh, hell no.

Apparently, Paragould, Arkansas is a hotbed of criminal activity. The mayor and police chief are sick of it. So they're fixin' to do something about it. And they won't let no pesky Constitution or American way of life get in the way! They're setting up a street crimes unit. Who will patrol the streets on foot. In SWAT gear. With AR-15s.

Says the petty tyrant Police Chief, "If you're out walking, we're going to stop you, ask why you're out walking, check for your ID." Screw that basic American right to walk the streets freely. Forget about that basic American right not to be required to show your papers. Oh, yeah, and who gives a hoot about that basic American right not to be detained (aka seized) by the police without a warrant.

Really, Paragould, you seem like a nice town, so I'd really like to help you out, save you the cost and headache of a lawsuit or 20. You can't do this. You really can't. You can't demand to see ID from everyone who is walking down the street. The fundamental justification for being able to use DUI check lanes for cars depends upon the fact that you're driving a car and have theoretically agreed to certain restrictions by accepting a license from the state. According to the courts, you don't have a fundamental right to drive. But know what all citizens do have a fundamental right to do? Walk freely about. It's a true story; look it up. So the car checkpoint idea of just stopping everyone won't work here.

The Police Chief is claiming that the city's crime statistics give him reasonable suspicion to stop anyone and everyone. Umm, ok. And then he claims that anyone who does not produce an ID could be charged with obstructing a governmental operation. He hopes he won't run into that, though. He wouldn't want anyone to "buck" them. Oh my. This is where the city really needs to reign the Police Chief in and right quick or they will be facing a lot of potential lawsuits. Because no, it is not a crime for an American citizen to walk around town without carrying identification. The poor City Attorney has a few quotes in at the end of the article, where he promises that citizens actually won't be arrested for not having ID. He knows such an arrest would be bogus and would open up the city to all kinds of problems. Doesn't seem like he has all that much sway over the Police Chief, though.

What amazes me most is that there are some comments on this local paper's website in support of this plan. Most of the comments are spot on, decrying these gestapo tactics as the unconstitutional disaster they will be if implemented. The "I'm sick of crime and I have nothing to hide" crowd, though, is present and they are not appalled. Which, of course, I find appalling. Because I don't have anything to hide, either, but for crying out loud, I don't want to be approached by a guy in a flak jacket carrying a scary-looking rifle while I'm just out walking my dog. Under the laws of this land, I'm supposed to be free to walk away from that guy if he tries to walk up to me on the street and ask me questions. Just because he wants to know where I'm going doesn't mean he has a right to know and it sure as hell doesn't mean I have to tell him. One doesn't have to have something to hide to object to explaining one's comings and goings to the police.

I think I will now have to bookmark the Paragould Daily Press because I want to watch how this all unfolds. I sure hope lawyers from the ACLU are doing the same.

Sunday, December 16, 2012


Have you ever done something so dumb that it sort of feels like cheating if you don't confess it somewhere, some way?

I really feel like someone ought to know that today I roasted a chicken upside down.  I'm sure I'm not the first person to have done this, but I really do know better.

I basted it repeatedly. I admired its skin as it turned brown and beautiful. I covered it with foil while it rested. But it was only when I went to cut it and I hit nothing but bone that I realized the damn chicken was upside down.

It still tasted really good.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Why own a gun?

There has been a lot of discussion in the past 24 hours. About gun control, about mental health care, about security measures, about whether we should be discussing any of this so soon after a horrific incident. I have been yelled at by friends and chastised by complete strangers. My Facebook feed has been filled with a steady stream of thoughts and links to articles. I can only imagine others have had similar experiences.

I vehemently disagree with those who insist it's disrespectful or "too soon" to start discussing any of these topics the day of or the day after an incident like yesterday's school shooting. After all, the Oregon mall shooting only happened 3 days before that, so if there is some kind of "waiting period" before it's appropriate to discuss policy responses to mass shootings, then how are we ever going to have a discussion if the next shooting happens just a few days later? I think the only way to respect the loss of life is to figure out ways we can protect against future loss of life.

It seems there are a lot of topics that can be discussed today. But the only question I really want to talk about right now is this: why do people want to have guns? I'm not talking shotguns for hunting (though I'm not a fan of hunting and would never do it and don't really understand why people enjoy it, I do get that people do like to kill their own food). I'm talking handguns. In their homes. On their persons. Why do people want them? I truly do not understand.

This question has absolutely nothing to do with the Second Amendment, so don't dare answer with, "We have a right to have them." This isn't about whether we have the right to own handguns. If you think that is an appropriate answer to the question of why you want to own a gun, I suggest to you you have no business owning a gun. Maybe you don't have to justify your desire to own and carry a gun to me, but you need to be able to justify it to yourself. It's too big a thing to own without having thoroughly considered the whys, the pros, and the cons.

A handgun has one function and one function only: to cause harm. You may argue a handgun serves other purposes, but the mechanism itself has only that one function. The release of a trigger starts a reaction that releases a projectile at high velocity. Upon impact with a target, that projectile will cause damage. That is it. We know, too, that if the target is a human being, the damage will be considerable and will often be fatal. Having a gun and expecting to someday use it means that lives will be at risk. So why do people want to have these things around?

I have a cousin whose life maybe wouldn't be such a train wreck if his friend's parents hadn't kept a loaded gun in their home. A little girl would be an adult now and a young boy would have been able to grow up without the crushing weight of guilt over her death. My cousin's story is sadly not unique. Just this past week, I have seen no fewer than 3 stories about children being shot or shooting someone with a parent's gun. Yesterday's school shooter apparently shot his mother at her home first. All of the guns he used appear to have been legally purchased by her. Then there are the stories of people who shoot a son or a spouse thinking that person is an intruder. The stories go on and on of families who are shattered by the presence of a handgun in the home.

Why do people continue to want these implements of death in their home? Do they truly make you feel safer? Because from my perspective, I would never, ever allow a gun in my home. I was on edge when police were in my home after my house had been burglarized because I was uncomfortable having so many guns in my presence. If I thought they would have respected my wish not to have guns in my home, I would have asked them to lock the guns away in their patrol cars. I always cringe when one of the state troopers whose offices are in my building steps onto the elevator with me because I do not want to be that close to a gun. I do not want to be that close to an object whose sole function is to cause harm.

It is a cop-out to respond that people keep other possible implements of death in their homes, like knives or saws or hammers or baseball bats. All of those items have functions other than causing harm. All of those items have legitimate uses. And none of those items can be used to accomplish the kind of mass murder we all saw unfold yesterday, certainly not with the same efficiency. It's a lot easier to tackle a guy wielding a knife or a baseball bat than a guy armed with multiple guns. The reality is that a person determined to do harm to another person can use any number of standard household items to accomplish that goal or can use nothing but his or her hands. But a gun is faster, deadlier, harder to defend against, and has no function other than to harm.

It's also a cop-out to respond that if ordinary people didn't have guns, only the bad guys would have guns and we'd all be less safe. Because the cold, hard truth is that an awful lot of those "ordinary people's" guns wind up being used on other ordinary, innocent people. As happened yesterday. If you keep a gun in your home or on your person, you're inviting the possibility that the gun will be used on you or by you or around you. If you don't have a gun around you, there is inherently less of a chance that a gun will be used around you. Yes, there will always be bad guys and random crimes and lone crazies. But you necessarily increase the risk that you will be involved in a gun incident if you have a gun. It's just basic math.

To those people who do own handguns, who do carry handguns with them, what do they envision ever happening with that gun? Do they truly expect to use it someday? And do they truly understand what that means? Having a gun and being prepared to use it means being prepared to endanger human lives. I do not understand how so many people willingly bring that risk of danger into their homes.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The wedding shoes

So I have this friend. She's about my height and she's my shoe size and we're partners in crime. Our birthdays are close together, so we often celebrate jointly (with bowling or mini golf or dancing). And we often play poker together or hang out on a Saturday. And we go dancing. We're kind of close.

So when she got engaged this spring, one friend assumed she and I had had a falling out that I wasn't one of the bridesmaids. But I knew better, because sometimes you're such good friends with someone that you don't make the bridesmaid list. Know what I mean? She knew that I wouldn't pitch a fit and wouldn't think it meant she didn't value my friendship, etc., so she knew she could focus on sisters and college friends, etc., without worrying that I would take it personally. And she knew I would prefer to pick out my own dress in my own color, anyway.

But when you're a bride and I'm one of your closest friends, there is one job that absolutely no one else can handle. Do you know what that job is? Can you guess? It's picking out the wedding shoes.  I am who you go to when you need to pick out shoes. I'm kind of known for my shoes. So with this friend, that is the official part I played in the wedding. And we picked out a fabulous pair of shoes. Pretty and sparkly and special. Did I mention that she and I wear the same size shoes?

Even as we were picking out her wedding shoes, I was eyeing them. Salivating, even. We both understood that at some point (after the wedding, of course), I would get to wear them. But I didn't really know if I would just get to borrow them or if she would want them back. Then this week, she brought me the shoes. Just showed up at my office and gave me the box. So tonight I wore them to another friend's birthday evening. And I may never take them off again. Because they're pretty. And sparkly. And oh so special.

We both know that she's not likely to wear them again. Though we're the same height, everyone thinks she's shorter than I am because I always wear heels and she always wears flats. These shoes have at least a 3 inch heel. I'm known for my shoes; she's not. When she's needed dress shoes in the past, she's borrowed them from me. These shoes look like shoes I would own; they look like shoes she would borrow from me. I have dreamed of these shoes since the day she and I picked them out this spring. And now that I have had them on my feet, seen my calves in these heels, seen the sparkle under the soft light of the Star Bar, I know that these shoes belong to me. They may have been on her feet for the most important day of her life, but they belong on mine for every other day.

She can't want the shoes back, can she? I get to keep them, don't I? I mean, she can visit them any time she wants. She can wear them, even. But she can't make me give them back for good. Because they're so pretty and sparkly and special. And while she might wear them on the most special day of her life, I will consider every Friday special because I will wear them.

At the very least, we have to have some kind of joint legal custody agreement where we both get to wear the shoes. But I get primary residential custody. Please?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Scandal has quickly become the most addictive hour of television around. (Or maybe I'm just telling myself that to fill the hole in my heart that was left when all my LOST dvds got stolen in the burglary.)

Anyway, *spoiler alert*, I KNEW Huck didn't shoot the president.

I really hope the world doesn't end on December 21 because I'd like to see the jerk who set him up get her comeuppance.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

All I ask

is to have doors that work as they are supposed to at all times;

a house that is my own, secure, warm and cozy domain;

a job where I can just go in every day, put my head down, and help my clients without dealing with drama and bureaucratic crap;

and someone to come home to would be pretty nice, too.

But apparently I ask too much. Way too much. It's a good thing sitting on your couch alone while crying and drinking too much wine is classy. So at least I have that. And the world's sweetest dog. I have that, too.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Florida just had to get in on the Advent Execution Season, too. So now we're up to 43. It's starting to feel like the killers got toward the end of their 2012 shift and feared they weren't going to make their quota, so they had to hurry up and fit some executions in before 2013. Oy.

STOP KILLING PEOPLE!! You are ruining my Christmas buzz with all of this cold, calculated murdering of individuals who pose no threat to the rest of us.

This is why I don't always track every execution that takes place - because it depresses me so. But that's exactly why I should broadcast every single one. Because we should have to feel it every time we kill someone. We shouldn't be allowed to hide from it, ignore it, pretend it doesn't involve us. Each and every execution is a stain on all of us and we should all be made to face it.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, December 10, 2012

Yes, probation is appropriate for that case. And for that one. I promise.

Before we begin tonight, I would like to note that it's hard to type while huddled in a mess of blankets, wearing hand warmers, and with a dog between me and the computer keyboard. (And the dog just licked my fingers. As I was typing. Just fyi.) The space heater on the coffee table aimed directly at me isn't doing much good in this ridiculous, uninsulated, drafty old monstrosity I call home.

As you might have gathered, I am a bit of a news junkie and I particularly follow the crime stories. I know my fellow readers aren't coming from the same knowledge base I am. I read a story and know it's describing a severity level 7 nonperson felony or 3 misdemeanors or an off-grid crime. I also usually know right away what the sentence will be roughly. (It doesn't hurt that in my state, sentencing is grid-based with numbers pre-set by the legislature so there's not a lot of leeway for the judges. They can depart, but they have to make specific findings.) I know that battery is a pretty low-level offense that probably doesn't involve any actual harm. (If there were injuries, it would be aggravated battery.) I know cops always arrest people on the most ridiculously, over-the-top charge they can and then let the prosecutors and judges reduce the charges appropriately. I know that cops do this and then make sure to arrest people on Saturdays whenever possible because then they can keep a defendant in county jail for 2 nights and get more money from the state. (In Kansas, you can bail out over the weekend on a misdemeanor, but have to wait for a business day to go before a judge if you're arrested on a felony.) I know that most other people don't know these things.

But, still, I can't help but be surprised when I read these stories about a criminal sentencing and then read the comments of people who think the sentence is ridiculous and a sign that our community/state/world isn't just soft on crime, but is run by the criminals. As if we are all doomed because someone convicted of battery and criminal damage got probation. (Which is the exact sentence the legislature recommends for that conviction event.) Do people really think college students should go to prison for getting into fights? For first offenses? For things where no one really got hurt?

Most people in most criminal courts throughout the country are sentenced to probation. And that's exactly how it should be. Most things that are crimes really aren't so bad that they necessitate cutting the perpetrator off from society for some period of time. If people really knew more about how the criminal justice system works, definitions of crimes, etc., they'd get it, right? I have to believe they would. I can't face the thought that even if people knew that the statutory definition of battery is "a non-consensual touching done in a rude, insulting, or offensive manner," they might still think people convicted of battery should all do hard time in jail. Which would be silly because we've probably all committed misdemeanor battery at least once in the last week. (Remember when you grabbed that sheet of paper out of your annoying co-worker's hand? Battery!)

It seems like in this day and age, it shouldn't be too hard for the public (or at least the interested readers on a newspaper website) to have more knowledge so they can better understand why a district court judge sentenced someone the way s/he did and what the charges actually mean. The criminal statutes are all online, after all. So perhaps the news stories could contain helpful links to the relevant statutes? Or at least to the criminal code where a truly interested reader could find the specific statute on his/her own? Maybe the crime section could include a permanent PDF of the sentencing grid, so people could see what sentences to expect for, say, a severity level 5 person felony for a person with no criminal history. (Or maybe it would just help if people wouldn't spout off uninformed opinions but would instead seek out knowledge?)

I guess I really want two things: for the general public to have a better understanding of what criminal law jargon means and for them to have more realistic expectations of what an appropriate sentence is for a particular set of facts. And for people to stop thinking incarceration should be the answer to every single marginally criminal incident ever. I probably want too much.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Dear People of the Internet

I need your help, and it is the season of giving...

I used to pride myself on being a really good gift-giver. But now, I feel all tapped out. My dad is increasingly impossible to buy for. And I'm just tired of the stuff. I'm tired of books and pajamas and knick knacks and the stuff that just adds to more clutter and noise. (Not that I'm really one to talk as my house is filled with stuff and I love my books and shoes and DVDs (though I have a lot fewer now than I did a few weeks ago).)

Last year, I put a real emphasis on homemade gifts, which means I made myself crazy knitting and bought my sister the single greatest gift ever. I didn't have it in me to knit that much this year. So now I'm looking for new gift ideas that aren't stuff.


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Spoke too soon

We're now up to 42. Arizona didn't want Oklahoma to have all the fun so they killed someone today. Richard Stokely was put to death this morning.

'Cause nothing says, "May you feel peace and love this yueltide season" like the intentional, premeditated killing of our fellow citizens by the government.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

#41 ain't just a Dave Matthews title. Wish it were.

People should be forced to notice every time we execute someone in this country. It appears today will be the day for George Ochoa as the state of Oklahoma prepares to kill him. (I have looked in Oklahoma news sites and have not yet seen confirmation that the execution has taken place or when it is/was scheduled for.)

It still sends chills up my spine every time we do this. I can't wrap my head around the fact that we as a society intentionally and with premeditation put people to death. If this one happens today as scheduled, it will be the 6th of 2012 in Oklahoma and the 41st nationwide. That's more people than can be on an expanded September baseball roster. It's almost a professional football team. 41 people is a lot of people.  And we've killed them all.

What's even worse is that this is a relatively low number of executions for a year. Per the Death Penalty Information Center, since the beginning of the modern death penalty era (1976-present), we've had as many as 98 executions in one year. I don't appreciate that this fact leaves me feeling at least a little grateful that we've "only" managed to kill 41 this year. One person intentionally killed by the state is too many.

Oh, what I wouldn't give for us as a nation to get past this barbarity.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Congrats. And good luck.

I know, I know, who cares about a royal bun in the oven, right? I don't. I am as pleased for William and Kate as I would be for any random strangers and about as interested.

But perhaps something good can come out of the blessed news about the Duchess' pregnancy: maybe more in the general public will become aware of hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) and people will stop referring to it as really bad morning sickness. It isn't something that can be treated with saltines and a little ginger ale. It isn't hypersensitive women being crazy and wimpy. It requires hospitalizations and IV fluids and anti-nausea meds and feeding tubes. It is a serious illness that makes pregnancy a very dangerous thing for many women. It can lead to miscarriages or women having to abort much-wanted pregnancies to save their own lives. It killed Charlotte Bronte.

I can only hope that being married to the future King of England means Kate will get the best care in the world instead of backlash that she should just suck it up. And I hope that having such a public face on HG will help all the other women around the world who could get the treatments but didn't know they had anything more than "really bad morning sickness."

Musings from a Chiefs fan

So, you all know I'm a Chiefs fan. Even in this season of awfulness,  I still watch every game, read the articles in the paper, and wear my Chiefs earrings every game day. And you know I'm a defense attorney who always sees people as multi-dimensional creatures who are so much more than the worst thing they've ever done. And I've long complained about our national lack of sympathy for and treatment of those dealing with mental illness. You may not have known that I am also a trained suicide counselor who volunteered at a crisis hotline for years, so I have actually spoken to people who had the pills or the gun or the plan in hand. (Happily, all of the phone calls I personally took of that nature ended pretty well.)

Given all that, it's probably easy for you to guess that I might have some thoughts about what happened in Kansas City on Saturday. It was definitely shocking to learn that a player I'd been following for 4 years had shot and killed his girlfriend before driving to the stadium and killing himself in full view of the head coach and the general manager. Throughout the day yesterday, shock seemed to be the prevailing reaction from all the local tv and radio personnel as well as the national sports anchors who talked about the incident. There was a lot of head-shaking, a lot of confusion about why on earth this had happened, and a lot of uncertainty about how to respond.

Even now, I'm not sure where to go with a blog post, because I've got about 5 directions my rant could go.

1) I'd like to rant at all the pretentious, smug, self-righteous, cruel jerks who are proclaiming so loudly that the Chiefs shouldn't have played their game yesterday. I'm looking at you, Jason Whitlock, among others. The reasoning goes that because a young woman was murdered and her 3 month-old daughter was left orphaned, a game no longer matters. I get that impulse, really. But get over yourselves, people. What the hell else were all those Chiefs players and coaches supposed to do yesterday? Sit at home with their families and stew? Haven't these people ever heard of my two favorite coping mechanisms: distraction and denial? It's entirely probable that the ONLY thing that got some of those teammates who were closest to Belcher and the coaches who witnessed his suicide through the day was having that game to focus on for a huge chunk of it. It would have been cruel to deny all those men the one thing that could make that day tolerable. Just for what, to prove some point about how serious this incident was? As if everyone connected to the Chiefs doesn't already get that? Interviews with the Chiefs players make it clear that they to a man wanted to play the game. Because the alternative, postponing or even canceling the game, was unbearable.

2) I'd also like to rant against those people who seem to think that because Jovan Belcher committed murder, his family, friends, teammates, and everyone else should now write him off as an evil SOB and never mention him again. That anyone who expresses any sympathy for his family or for him or ponders how much pain he must have been in to do this act or says that he wasn't all bad is a pathetic sports fanatic who puts men on pedestals for playing a game. There is nothing wrong with sympathizing with the family members of a murderer, with acknowledging that they must have some very conflicting emotions. Those people who are close to murderers shouldn't be expected to forget all the good, kind things they did before they committed murder. So, yeah, if Chiefs players want to express kind thoughts about their teammate, that's ok and no one should confuse that with condoning murder.

3) In reading stories today, I read one focusing on the problem of domestic violence in the NFL. I don't disagree with that, but I get a little frustrated with some of the language that is used around domestic violence. There is a bigger problem that gets lost when we only talk about there being a domestic violence problem with professional athletes. So often, these conversations knock a big, strong football player who puts his hand on a woman. One pro coach has apparently said no one who hits a woman is welcome in his clubhouse. Every time I hear a comment like this, I get angry. Because it suggests that it would be (or at least could be) ok for a big, strong football player to put his hands on a man. Or to hit a man. It isn't. It isn't ok to hit anyone. (And, btw, when we limit it to men shouldn't hit women, we're a) making it ok for women to hit men and b) leaving it open for a man to think, "This woman is as big or strong as a lot of men, so hitting her is fine.")

It seems to me the NFL has a violence problem, period. Or rather American professional sports does. They all own guns. Lots of guns. Today at a Chiefs' player press session, one of the players expressed complete and total amazement when the reporters indicated that, no, they don't all own guns and carry them everywhere they go. Plaxico Burress carried a gun. Look where it got him. (Shot himself and landed in prison for 2 years.) Seems to me a lot of pro athletes could stand to learn the lesson that you should never resort to pulling out a gun or your fists to solve your problems, whether your problems are in a personal relationship or in a NYC nightclub. Maybe there's something about the American pro sports culture that leaves the athletes with a severe deficit in their problem-solving skill set.

4) Someday, I will go on a full tear about how angry it makes me when people call suicide a "selfish" or "cowardly" act. To call it that is rude, insensitive, obnoxious, and a load of other bad adjectives. You might disagree with me (you'd be wrong), but even if you're just darn sure that suicide is the most selfish thing a person can do, at least do me this: Please, for the love of all that is good, don't ever say that to someone who has lost a loved one to suicide. It's incredibly unkind.

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