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Gwen's Spot

27 March 2006

Commution: In Which Someone's Supposedly Shortened Sentence Stinks

Considering a certain book, whose name I won't reveal because I don't want to ruin anyone's reading experiences by giving away highly suspenseful endings...I've been arguing that the verdict of guilty was unfair, for various reasons, but the sentence is really the most intriguing part, at least how it was decided. This guy is convicted of about, oh, a thousand or so crimes (I suppose they could be called "war crimes", if you care), and sentenced to death. But then right after the jury both convicts and sentences him (indictment not being necessary, since he asked to stand trial anyway, so at least it's only two court processes squeezed into one), the prosecutor asks that the sentence be commuted from execution to having his soul literally wiped out and the old evil one put in place (this is SF, people, go with it).
Obviously the protagonist prefers the former option, if only because the latter unleashes incredible evil once more on the universe.
But how could the sentence be commuted--sorry, I'll stop italicizing that--commuted to a sentence the defendant prefers less?
Say somebody prefers to be executed to serving twenty-five years in jail. Ignoring the fact that suicide is illegal (what idiot came up with that law, anyway? and should the penalty be death?), I can't really think of any reason to deny that particular death wish. Unless you hold to the old justice-is-punishment view, therefore it would make more sense to force the criminal to live twenty-five years in jail to his/her preferred short, simple death, I can only think of two sensible objections (sensible, adj. 1. describing something with which Gwen agrees. 2, archaic. reasonable, understandable. [Orig. Gwen, of course. Gwen creates everything. She also talks about herself in third person occasionally, leading her imaginery psychiatrist to shake his head in despair]) to denying a criminal a wish for a harsher (as defined by the prosecution) sentence:
1. society disagrees with the prosecution, because the prosecution is off its nut.
2. I don't remember this reason, but I know I had one.
In this case, the prosecution is off its nut, but obviously the judges are too, because they just "commuted" (see, no italics) a sentence of death to a sentence that no one in their right mind would prefer. Unless they agree that "the hybrid [of the Jekyll personality to be wiped out, except that they believe that at least a remnant will still remain to balance the incredibly evil one, and of the incredibly evil one that, on a whim, I will refer to as the Hyde personality] will be greater than the sum of its parts," in which case I suspect that:
1. the person who said this was not as smart as he is supposed to be, because, sorry, (a+b)>a+b is just poor mathematics, especially for someone powered, not going to spoil anyone's reading experience, so I won't finish that sentence.
2. the person who said this was just trying to reassure the person being sentenced to soulwipe (soulwipe, n. a complete destruction of someone's personality via machine or other methodical means [Orig. Gwen, of course, from MINDWIPE-MIND+SOUL]) and/or himself and/or everyone listening.
Still, it's a hopeful note for a particularly depressing ending. The only other optimistic thing at the end is the whistling. (This is what it's all about, folks. Monkeys whistling in a big sweaty bubble. Don't let anyone ever try to tell you otherwise.)
I sure hope that if I ever get convicted of a crime, my sentence won't be "commuted" in that particular manner.

19 March 2006

The Fourteenth Amendment: In Which Gwen Decides That Unconstitutional Laws Need Not Be Obeyed

So I was thinking about Amendment 14 last week, and I had the idea to consider it logically. It breaks up into a fairly simple statement that can be analyzed using nothing more than the rules of logic, like so:

1) IF:
a) someone is a person
b) that person is either:
1) born in the United States
2) naturalized into the United States
c) that person is subject to the jurisdiction of the laws of the United States
2) THEN:
a) that person is:
1) a citizen of the United States
2) a citizen of the state wherein they reside
b) no state may make or enforce any law which shall abridge the priveleges or immunities of that person

(That looks complicated, but it's easier to mess with than the original text.)

So, take me. Since I meet conditions 1a and 1b1 (let's leave c for the time being), then either all of 2 is true, or 1c is false, because that's the only condition left. So either I'm a citizen of the United States, and a citizen of Arizona, and so it's unconstitutional for Arizona to pass a law abridging my "priveleges and immunities," OR I'm not subject to the jurisdiction of any of its laws anyway.
Which means, for example, that either AZ's "sure, pass a curfew" law is unconstitutional, or I have the constitutional right to ignore it. It's impossible to have it both ways, that I'm a citizen and have to obey the law, yet a non-citizen in that a law can abridge my first amendment rights no problem.
Unless anyone cares to argue that I'm not a person.

Anyone want to show me where I'm wrong? I'm not a constitutional scholar nor a logician.

Youth Suffrage in the Blogosphere: In Which A Lower Voting Age Is Considered By Non-NYRA-Members

Bloggers on youth suffrage (and not even lowering the voting age, abolishing it!):

The first, summarizing "On Children's Right to Vote," is amazing. I'm a history student, not a teacher, but I've always had the same thoughts in my classes...all the students bobble-heading to the evilness of denying full suffrage to women, blacks, Jews, actors, prostitutes, and I knew that if I asked them they'd oppose the youth vote; their age strangely irrelevant to the discussion, and a woman with whom I was defending, bizarrely enough, women's suffrage telling me she doesn't converse with children.

The other three are interesting too: the first agrees, the second disagrees, the third is Alex, NYRA's beloved prez, and not surprisingly agrees as well. Read the comments, too...I have to say that all the comparisons of children to chimpanzees disturbed me, until the thought popped into my head that someday chimpanzees may be enfranchised, and the whole "if we let kids vote, why not chimpanzees?" argument will sound as silly to future history classes as, say, "if we let non-property-owning Protestant vote, why not let Jews? Or Catholics? Or, heaven forbid, women?" --Who knows? I'm certainly not going to make any predictions. Especially since the vote should be based on personhood and government, not ability to produce viable offspring with humans, else we'd exclude the celibate, infertile, and impotent as well. (Excessive hair? Difficulty walking upright? Inability to communicate vocally with humans? Percentage of DNA shared? Perhaps a meritcratic vote will be necessary someday.)
The opposing side is of course the most interesting to read. I especially like the "well, that argument was stupid when it was applied to women, but people under eighteen are qualitatively different than adults!" arguments. I can't wait until someone references brain studies a bit more directly than they have so far.
And it's funny seeing the same old arguments for our side hitting the same old overly-refuted arguments from the other..."children can't vote because they don't understand what they're doing" meets "why don't we exclude adults who don't understand what they're doing" which meets "because that's discriminatory!" D'oh.
I've said it before, I'll say it again: I don't care if it's a universal right or a competency-only privelege, as long as the standards are applied equally across age lines. I'm the college-attending fifteen-year-old, remember? I'm in either way. It's only when the system specifically excludes intelligent people under eighteen while permitting incompetents over eighteen to vote that ticks me off.
I saw a poster for the women's suffrage movement, I think it was commissioned by Anthony, that pictured a lunatic, a child, an idiot, a criminal, and a woman (their description, not mine) with the caption something like "The State of New York denies suffrage to:". Except now women can vote, many mentally retarded people can vote (depending on severity I think), there's a movement to allow felons the vote because it's an archaic law of punishment that pretty much prevents reintegration into society, and now who are children being grouped with? Chimpanzees.
Children are citizens, so there's no slippery-slope of granting tourists the vote--read the Constitution!
See next post.

13 March 2006

Dancing Bananas Here!: In Which Gwen Increases NYRA Donations, Decreases Average Wealth Of The Gullible┬Ący_code=USD

It's an awe­­­im­a­tion! Yeah, that's it, a flash an­im­a­tion!

Go watch!

(For those who are, er, "flash-animation"-impaired, type a large number into the box by "Amount" and then click "Secure Checkout." Next, type in your billing address in the box labelled "Shipping Address" and your first and last names in the boxes by "First Name" and "Last Name." Then pick a card type that you have, type the number on the card, and pick your expiration date. Type in your name, as it appears on the card. Continue filling out information, and at the bottom of the page, type in the weird-looking numbers and letters. Click "Continue Checkout" and everything should be happy.

This is all so that the, er, animation of the, er, dancing bananas can have your credit card information displayed, for personalization!)

NYRA thanks you.

12 March 2006

This is Arizona: In Which It Snows

Scorpions, rattlesnakes, centipedes, millipedes.
And also...
as strange as this may seem...
Yes, snow, the white powdery stuff, has fallen in Arizona. It does this, actually, every year, but because of the aforementioned desert, I have the pleasure of seeing cactus and tumbleweeds half-buried in mounds of snow. And this year, I was extremely fortunate in that I had a camera to boggle the minds of all my out-of-state friends. Especially the ones who live in rather more northern latitudes than I and who never, except maybe once every decade, actually get snow, and thus have to go up to the mountains to get snow. I live in a valley in the middle of Arizona, and yet it snows. Irony.
Without further ado, the picture, to prove to all you doubting skeptics that Arizona isn't just the "but it's a dry heat" state; Phoenix, too, can get the famed NYC benefit of dirty streets covered in a blanket of pristine clean-making whiteness. (Well, maybe not. I don't live in Phoenix. They may be more up to the stereotype of heat-desert-ness than Chino Valley is: they just broke a one-hundred-forty-day-plus dry streak.) Anyway, here it is:

08 March 2006

Leftover Laws: In Which Gwen Falls Through A Hole In Time And Ends Up In The McCarthy Era

So, either nobody in the Arizona State Legislature has seen this, or we're about fifty+ years in the past:

Arizona Revised Statute 16-806. "Proscription of Communist Party of United States, its successors, and subsidiary organizations
The Communist Party of the United States, or any successors of such party regardless of the assumed name, the object of which is to overthrow by force or violence the government of the United States, or the government of the state of Arizona, or its political subdivisions shall not be entitled to be recognized or certified as a political party under the laws of the state of Arizona and shall not be entitled to any of the privileges, rights or immunities attendant upon legal political bodies recognized under the laws of the state of Arizona, or any political subdivision thereof; whatever rights, privileges or immunities shall have heretofore been granted to said Communist Party of the United States as defined in this section, or to any of its subsidiary organizations, by reason of the laws of the state of Arizona, or of any political subdivision thereof, are hereby terminated and shall be void."

(Note that the Arizona State Constitution says, in Article 2, Section 21, that "Free and equal elections All elections shall be free and equal, and no power, civil or military, shall at any time interfere to prevent the free exercise of the right of suffrage." Now, doesn't declaring that the CPUSA doesn't have any of the rights any other political body has kinda interfereing with the free exercise of the right of suffrage? Not to mention, y'know, freedom of association and such?)

Next we have a law pertaining to employers firing their employees based on political ideology, religion, or philosophy, which includes the following interesting caveat:
"H. As used in this article, unlawful employment practice does not include any action or measure taken by an employer, labor organization, joint labor-management committee or employment agency with respect to an individual who is a member of the communist party of the United States or of any other organization required to register as a communist-action or communist-front organization by final order of the subversive activities control board pursuant to the subversive activities control act of 1950."

I don't know, but I'll bet that the subversive activities control act has either
a) been repealed
b) been changed considerably
c) declared unconstitutional
. You think?

Next and longest is at , and basically says a bunch of things about "those d--- commies" that are patently untrue and a bunch of hyperbole anyway, plus are even more untrue because the apparently-nonexistent CPUSA Constitution ( definitely states a lot of things about being thrown out for advocating violent overthrow, expression of dissent, democratic processes, et cetera that do not, collectively, describe the party described in this so-called "findings of fact."

Then again, I was talking to someone about this, and she thought that it was just fine, even today, and in fact should be widened to affect lots of different groups. You have to draw the line somewhere, apparently, and if free expression, association, et cetera are cut out of the picture so be it.
I'm curious as to how many states still have these laws. Is America red, blue, or Red?

Dinner and a Movie, Adultism Style: In Which Stupidity Is Examined

Picture the following scenario:
I'm with my dad and I go up to the ticket office at the movies. There are R-rated, PG13-rated, PG-rated, even some G-rated movies showing. I can't watch the R-rated movies without an adult with me. (Which one is, but still.) Fine, I understand that; it is the law, after all, and I can't blame the movie office. I'm not an adult, according to the movie theatre(/er), right? Right. So far.
My dad buys our tickets. "Two for ----." Now, sure, I could mention that I'm a student, therefore eligible for the cheaper student ticket, but I think that the kid's price is cheaper anyway and besides I don't want to hold up the line. So, here's their prices:
Students--Whatever it is (I don't remember)
I, the fifteen-year-old, who is too young to watch an R-rated movie alone because I'm a kid, according to them, am with my dad, who is a non-senior adult. What is the price of our tickets? Think about it first, then continue reading.
Sixteen dollars. This is the price for two adult tickets, not thirteen dollars, the price for one kid and one adult ticket.
So, fine, I won't blame the theatre(/er) for the movie rating system, but I will blame them for their prices. Either a) I am an adult and therefore should be allowed to watch R-rated movies alone--by law--or b) I am not an adult and therefore should, legally, not be, but still be charged the kid's price.

Further. The "dinner" part of the title. Or, actually, since I'm on the west coast, lunch. (Do you East-Coasters still do the breakfast-dinner-supper thing?)
I'm not going to talk about the unfairness of kids' clubs ending at twelve, the earliest "adult" status given that I can think of in the United States, except for the eight-year-old crime-responsibility thing. I'm not going to discuss the "adult" buffet price. (Remember, kids, you're only adults when you commit a crime or when we're taking your money.) No, I'm going to talk about something different. Still odd.
Picture this scenario. A year younger, with some of my friends. We're all in high school, we're all obviously under twenty-one. We go to the Prescott Brewing Company, a local restaurant. We sit down at a certain table, which we all liked because it was against a partition with a little window through it, distinctive, fun. No problems.
A waitress comes up and asks us if we're over twenty-one. Of course not, no, we're not interested in your beer or whatever but your food. We're here for a non-liquid lunch.
She requests that we move. (To a table in an adjoining room, completely open, it's not very far away.)
We ask why. (Not to be irritating, we just didn't see why we should move.)
She said it was because we were all black and therefore had to sit in a different section of the restaurant. Er, sorry, flashback. She said it was because we were all underage for drinking and therefore had to sit in a different section of the restaurant.
She was nice about it, apologetic (no kidding! She just forced four people to get up and go to a different table!), so we all moved from the cool window-table to the more boring table she indicated. We ate, drank (ha, no, lemonades), and were merry. (The next day we all died. Ha ha.)
So I was thinking about all of this later. The reason for the restaurant's policy was to make sure they didn't accidentally serve the underage people alcohol. We weren't planning on ordering any, but fine. At the table we were at we could still have bummed some drinks from other people, if we were desperate or something, but we were planning to have a nice nonalcoholic lunch. Apparently they give people who can legally drink alcohol little shot glasses with free samples to try to get them to buy some, like Cosco if they had out-of-store restaurants, so it makes sense, even if it is irritating, to separate people too young to drink alcohol to make sure they didn't. This all sounds perfectly logical.
Except. Except that we were all obviously underage, which was how the waitress knew we were, so even if it were a different person serving us, unless blind people often become servers at the Prescott Brewing Company, that person would still be able to know, duh, don't serve us drinks. Except that the waitress was the same person who ended up serving us. Except that moving us all of fifteen feet would certainly not restrict our access to alcohol anymore than a small restaurant can successfully keep cigarette/cigar smoke from the smoking section from bugging the people in the non-smoking section. (Idle thought: do they ask smokers if they want the smoking section or non? And what would they say if someone smoking requested the non-smoking section?) Except that, in actuality, the restaurant's policy is about as perfectly logical as... er... something that isn't, actually, at all.
I'm not going to complain "That isn't fair" because you always have the air-violinist in the crowd rotely responding "Life isn't fair." How about "That's really, incredibly, amazingly stupid, redundant, and pointless" instead?