Sunday, October 26, 2008

Be careful hanging decorations in space

This is amazing.  X-rays from ordinary adhesive tape.  The cool thing is they expect to be able to come up with a way to make an inexpensive, low-power x-ray machine for use in poor areas or areas without reliable power.  This would be an interesting project for Seattle University's Engineers Without Borders program

X-rays emitted from ordinary Scotch tape - Innovation-
It turns out that if you peel the popular adhesive tape off its roll in a vacuum chamber, it emits X-rays. The researchers even made an X-ray image of one of their fingers.

Who knew? Actually, more than 50 years ago, some Russian scientists reported evidence of X-rays from peeling sticky tape off glass. But the new work demonstrates that you can get a lot of X-rays, a study co-author says.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Experience, Education and Judgment

This is a very stark comparison.  I am sickened by the Dumbfuckistan residents of this country who wear lack of education and lack of reliance on sound data for decisions as a badge of honor.

We need smart people, who know smart people for their cabinet, who will have the smarts and creativity to get us out of these messes we are in.  For all the talk of "experience" as the #1 factor for a president or VP, what about _not being a dumbass like Sarah Palin_?  Doesn't that count for something?  And further, wouldn't you say that pretty much any Harvard law grad would be a reasonable choice for President -- especially one toward the top of his class??

Pharyngula: Elitism is not a four-letter word

Educational Background:

Barack Obama:

Columbia University - B.A.
Political Science with a Specialization in
International Relations.

Harvard - Juris Doctor (J.D.) Magna Cum Laude

Joseph Biden:

University of Delaware - B.A. in History and B.A. in Political Science.

Syracuse University College of Law - Juris Doctor (J.D.)


John McCain:

United States Naval Academy - Class rank: 894 of 899

Sarah Palin:

Hawaii Pacific University - 1 semester

North Idaho College - 2 semesters - general study

University of Idaho - 2 semesters - journalism

Matanuska-Susitna College - 1 semester

University of Idaho - 3 semesters - B.A. in Journalism

My newfound links to fame.

So, I was on myspace inviting other members of my mentoring group to our myspace group when I noticed a posting by Death Cab For Cutie,
I thought, "Wait a minute.  There can't be more than one Chris Walla."  Well, there may be, but I know this one.  I googled him to find a photo and more information -- sure enough, he's a friend of mine from Bothell High School that I used to play guitar with in a couple bands.  And now, he is the producer and guitarist for Death Cab For Cutie.  How did I not know this?  His Wikipedia entry also mentions his stint with a band, The Wallflowers (no, not the famous one of the same name).  I was in that band myself for a short time.  It was in the days before I had truly discovered Indie rock though so was not a good fit at the time.  He has also done lots of work with another favorite band of mine, The Decemberists, from Portland, OR.  Insane!

I also found out that he's still in touch with another High School friend, Nathan Goode, who was one of the best drummers I had ever seen.  Chris, Nate, my friend Mike, Jerod and I used to all play together at Nate's house or in my backyard shed -- it was a lot of fun.

Crazy!  Well, maybe there is still hope of quitting my job and being a rockstar after all...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Social Security privatization would have been disastrous.

And when most 401ks have dropped 20-30% of late.  Yet at the same time Social Security just announce the largest cost-of-living benefit increase ever, of 5.8%.  Don't buy the hype about Social Security being in trouble!

Open Thread | Crooks and Liars

TSA stupidity: Peanut Butter is now a liquid/Gel

My sister (who is pregnant) just found out what is seemingly nonintuitive to anyone -- Peanut Butter is a controlled substance (by the TSA).  You can bring it on board, but it can only be in a 3 oz container or smaller.  What???  This kind of insanity has to stop.

TSA: What To Know Before You Go
Canned or jarred goods such as soup, sauces, peanut butter, fruits, vegetables and jellies Yes - 3 oz. or smaller container

Bruce Schneier wrote recently about how this kind of thing (no consequences for trying and failing to bring such contraband on board) is actually harmful to the stated goals of airport security.

Security Matters: Airport Pasta-Sauce Interdiction Considered Harmful

Friday, October 17, 2008

Make a difference: Become a mentor!

I am now a third-year mentor with Community For Youth (CFY), a wonderful non-profit organization that works with youth in the three lowest-performing Seattle public high schools:  Chief Sealth, Rainier Beach, and Cleveland.  The program "transforms high school students who are struggling - with school, with family, with their direction in life - into young adults who have confidence, determination and self-awareness."

It has been one of the most rewarding things that I have ever done.  I love the energy of the kids; the creativity; the possibilities. 

The most important quality of a mentor is that you be dedicated -- to the youth, to the program, to the community.  As we say, "Put on the program!"  If you have that, the skills and the rest will fall into place as you go along.  Many of these kids have been abandoned by everyone else.  Sometimes all it takes is for that life-line to just be there.

I also think about my life in high school and how great it would have been to have someone there just for me -- someone who may be in a position in life that I would like to be in one day (or maybe one beyond my capability to imagine at the time).  Serendipitously, I made it on my own, but many of these kids just need to get a little boost in the right direction (or help figuring out what that direction is).
"Nothing you do for children is ever wasted. They seem not to notice us, hovering, averting our eyes, and they seldom offer thanks, but what we do for them is never wasted"  -- Garrison Keillor

  • Why CFY as an organization is more deserving of your time than other volunteer organizations:

    • There is a structure and a program to guide you through the year.  Other programs may just throw you together with a kid and you're left to your own devices.

    • You get mentor training.  You are certainly not expected to know how to interact with youth or how to help them with their goals. You get on the job training!

    • You have and entire community of staff, volunteers, other volunteer mentors and of course the kids themselves to help you.  That's what the Community in Community For Youth is all about.  Nobody should have to go it alone.

  • A little bit about what it means to be a mentor:

    • Being a "Relentless Commitment" to a youth.  Others may leave them, but you will stick by them.

    • Providing encouragement, coaching and supporting them; being an advocate for them to get what they want out of life

    • Being their friend; having fun!

    • Help guide them away from trouble or get them help if they are ever in danger or at risk
  • Being a mentor, changes your life.  I didn't know what that could possibly mean at the time, but I was intrigued to find out.  And it is absolutely true.  You may actually gain so much more than the students.

  • Mentors truly look forward to their nights with their students, the community, their family groups.  Three hours a week is all it takes to make a difference.  But once you're involved, you find yourself wanting to give even more.

  • The other mentors are such great, quality people.  And you get to meet them, support each other, and have fun too.

  • You get the opportunity to do something new that will take you out of your comfort zone and help you grow as a person

  • Oh, and did I mention -- you get to go to camp!

Contact me with any questions!  But go to their website and sign up for an orientation!  Only two left for 2008/2009:

October 29, 2008 @ 5:30pm

November 3, 2008 @ 5:30pm

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Obamica

We saw two guys at Home Depot wearing similar Yarmulkes emblazoned with Obama's logo.  They call these the Obamica (I thought it would be called the Obamlke though)

Obamica, the Barack Obama Kippah

Monday, October 13, 2008

AC/DC pulls the plug on their new album being sold on iTunes

Well, after talking with many kids who rarely buy albums, I can see their point.  But eventually they will come to an end.  AC/DC is delaying the inevitable.

AC/DC refuses to sell album through iTunes |
FOR those about to rock, AC/DC salutes you — unless, that is, you want to buy the heavy metal group's newest album Black Ice on iTunes.

"Maybe I'm just being old-fashioned, but this iTunes, God bless 'em, it's going to kill music if they're not careful," said lead singer Brian Johnson, 61.

AC/DC, formed by brothers Angus and Malcolm Young in 1973, is among only a handful of bands to refuse to put their music on the popular download service.

Johnson said the decision was a bid to protect the album format from the internet's emphasis on buying and selling single tracks.

CQ exposes Ayers allegations: "Pants on Fire" Wrong

CQ Politics | Fact-Checking the Ayers Allegations: So Wrong, It’s “Pants on Fire” Wrong

Why does disagreement have to lead to hatred and divisiveness?

It is very disturbing to me -- and embarrassing to be an American -- to see all of the hatred being sown and reaped by the supporters of McCain and Palin.  This whole "you're with me or against me" line of reasoning is leading to excessively hateful division and smears.

I can't understand why people cannot be content to just say "you know, that guy has weighed the facts and has come to different conclusions on the issues than I have." and have it be alright to disagree on values or policy issues.  But instead, there is this fervor to take it to an insane level and actually demonize those who disagree with you as if they were the worst person in the world.  Seriously?  People should check their hatred and save it for people who truly deserve it, not those who just happen to hold different positions than you do.

The Palin-McCain Mob | Crooks and Liars  Watch these videos to see the kinds of unabashed hatred that is being stirred up at these rallies.

Here is a list of some of the best quotes -- from conservatives -- about the lines of discourse and how harmful they.  My friend Pete had a great list as well that some of these are from.

McCain's Supposed Adviser John Lewis Calls Him Out | Crooks and Liars
"As one who was a victim of violence and hate during the height of the Civil Rights Movement, I am deeply disturbed by the negative tone of the McCain-Palin campaign. Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin are sowing the seeds of hatred and division, and there is no need for this hostility in our political discourse.

During another period, in the not too distant past, there was a governor of the state of Alabama named George Wallace who also became a presidential candidate. George Wallace never threw a bomb. He never fired a gun, but he created the climate and the conditions that encouraged vicious attacks against innocent Americans who were simply trying to exercise their constitutional rights. Because of this atmosphere of hate, four little girls were killed on Sunday morning when a church was bombed in Birmingham, Alabama.

As public figures with the power to influence and persuade, Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin are playing with fire, and if they are not careful, that fire will consume us all. They are playing a very dangerous game that disregards the value of the political process and cheapens our entire democracy. We can do better. The American people deserve better."  -- John Lewis

"We conservatives are sending a powerful, inadvertent message with this negative campaign against Barack Obama's associations and former associations: that we lack a positive agenda of our own and that we don’t care about the economic issues that are worrying American voters." -- David Frum, National Review

"Under the pressure of the financial crisis, one presidential candidate is behaving like a flustered rookie playing in a league too high. It is not Barack Obama....  Conservatives who insist that electing McCain is crucial usually start, and increasingly end, by saying he would make excellent judicial selections. But the more one sees of his impulsive, intensely personal reactions to people and events, the less confidence one has that he would select judges by calm reflection and clear principles, having neither patience nor aptitude for either." -- George Will

"This is my concern: I think this hate and fear that comes out of the crowd isn't necessarily something that the McCain people have consciously tried to put out there, but that's all that McCain has left. You know, that the wing nuts are the only people left to come to these rallies. In fact some colleagues of mine went out into the crowd today and I can tell you after covering McCain for a year and a half, usually there are *some* crazy people -- there are always crazy people at rallies. That's what they do, right? They go to rallies. But you'd only find a few of them. And today every single person that I talked to, and the majority of people that my friends and colleagues in the press talked to, were of the belief that, you know, Barack Obama is a muslim, Barack Obama is not American." --- Ana Maria Cox, Time Magazine

... the negative tone of these rallies is "incendiary" and could lead to violence.

"There is this free floating sort of whipping around anger that could really lead to some violence. I think we're not far from that," he said. "I think it's really imperative that the candidates try to calm people down." -- David Gergen, advisor to Nixon and Reagan

"He is not the McCain I endorsed," said Milliken, reached at his Traverse City home Thursday. "He keeps saying, 'Who is Barack Obama?' I would ask the question, 'Who is John McCain?' because his campaign has become rather disappointing to me.

"I'm disappointed in the tenor and the personal attacks on the part of the McCain campaign, when he ought to be talking about the issues." -- former Republican Gov. William Milliken

McCain's attacks fuel dangerous hatred --

John McCain, you're walking a perilous line. If you do not stand up for all that is good in America and declare that Senator Obama is a patriot, fit for office, and denounce your hate-filled supporters when they scream out "Terrorist" or "Kill him," history will hold you responsible for all that follows.

John McCain and Sarah Palin, you are playing with fire, and you know it. You are unleashing the monster of American hatred and prejudice, to the peril of all of us. You are doing this in wartime. You are doing this as our economy collapses. You are doing this in a country with a history of assassinations.  -- Frank Schaeffer (lifelong Republican)
David Brooks: Sarah Palin "Represents A Fatal Cancer To The Republican Party"
And the other thing that does separate Obama from just a pure intellectual: he has tremendous powers of social perception. And this is why he's a politician, not an academic. A couple of years ago, I was writing columns attacking the Republican congress for spending too much money. And I throw in a few sentences attacking the Democrats to make myself feel better. And one morning I get an email from Obama saying, 'David, if you wanna attack us, fine, but you're only throwing in those sentences to make yourself feel better.' And it was a perfect description of what was going through my mind. And everybody who knows Obama all have these stories to tell about his capacity for social perception. -- David Brooks
How John McCain lost me - Print View
McCain’s recent conduct of his campaign – his willingness to lie repeatedly (including in his acceptance speech) and to play Russian roulette with the vice-presidency, in order to fulfill his long-held ambition – has reinforced my earlier, and growing, sense that John McCain is not a principled man.
In fact, it’s not clear who he is. -- Elizabeth Drew
Panic attacks: Voters unload at GOP rallies - Jonathan Martin -
“People need to understand, for moral reasons and the protection of our civil society, the differences with Sen. Obama are ideological, based on clear differences on policy and a lack of experience compared to Sen. McCain,” Weaver said. “And from a purely practical political vantage point, please find me a swing voter, an undecided independent, or a torn female voter that finds an angry mob mentality attractive.”

“Sen. Obama is a classic liberal with an outdated economic agenda. We should take that agenda on in a robust manner. As a party we should not and must not stand by as the small amount of haters in our society question whether he is as American as the rest of us. Shame on them and shame on us if we allow this to take hold.” -- John Weaver, McCain's former top strategist
WBBM 780 - Chicago's #1 source for local news, traffic and weather - LaHood: Palin Should Stop It
"Look it. This doesn't befit the office that she's running for. And frankly, people don't like it."

Congressman LaHood says it could backfire on the Republican ticket.

He says the names that Obama is being called, "Certainly don't reflect the character of the man." -- Ray LaHood, congressman R-IL
The Raw Story | GOP insiders predicting Obama victory
"They have send this young, naive -- very confident, perhaps in Alaska -- young woman out with the most incendiary talking points, the most dangerous racist talking points and I think they should be ashamed of themselves," -- Michelle Laxalt, Republican consultant

Permitting same-sex marriage is more moral than prohibiting it

I think it is immoral to deny people who love each other the rights and privileges that come with marriage (as a civil, contractual union -- a license granted by the State, not in a religious context).  Changing a state or federal constitution to ban same-sex marriage is, in fact, writing bigotry and hatred into those documents.  Substitute "black" or "african american" or "mixed-race marriage" into any rationale for banning same-sex marriage and you will see how bigoted such claims really are.

There is no reason to prohibit this activity other than hatred and bigotry.  I still have yet to hear evidence of how they will be or have been harmed by other people engaging in relationships that have nothing to do with you.  Scriptural rationales are ridiculous on their face because that just shows that the intent is to entice the government to endorse one particular religious viewpoint over others (in violation of the US Constitution).

You would think that if the institution of marriage was so sacred, that the people fighting same-sex marriage would spend at least as much energy into banning divorce as a way to uphold the sanctity of marriage. 

This essay puts a finer point on this than I could:

Atheist Ethicist: The Immorality of Homosexual Marriage
Yet, none of that is relevant to the point of this essay – that a society that permits homosexual marriage is more moral than a society that does not.

It is a mistake not to put it in these terms, and to allow those who like morality to religion or to scripture to make their assertions unchallenged. In this sense, silence implies consent. In this case, refusing to challenge claims that link morality to scripture means that most people only hear that they are linked. If that is all they hear, then that is what they will believe, which will perpetuate the myth, much to our disadvantage.

I would like to hear the fact that reported that those who wish to prohibit homosexual marriage and who defend it through scripture are no different in principle than those who wrote into the U.S. Constitution that black slavery was permissible and defended it with references to scripture.
Some reasoned answers to the common illogical rationales:
Americans United: The Federal Marriage Amendment: Some Questions and Answers

And for those who seek to ban same-sex marriage, here is a list of several things that same-sex couples are not granted _by the State_ that heterosexual couples benefit from.  Therefore, it is immoral to deny these rights, especially without justification.

HRC | Questions about Same-Sex Marriage
  • Hospital visitation. Married couples have the automatic right to visit each other in the hospital and make medical decisions. Same-sex couples can be denied the right to visit a sick or injured loved one in the hospital.
  • Social Security benefits. Married people receive Social Security payments upon the death of a spouse. Despite paying payroll taxes, gay and lesbian workers receive no Social Security survivor benefits – resulting in an average annual income loss of $5,528 upon the death of a partner.
  • Health insurance. Many public and private employers provide medical coverage to the spouses of their employees, but most employers do not provide coverage to the life partners of gay and lesbian employees. Gay employees who do receive health coverage for their partners must pay federal income taxes on the value of the insurance.
  • Estate taxes. A married person automatically inherits all the property of his or her deceased spouse without paying estate taxes. A gay or lesbian taxpayer is forced to pay estate taxes on property inherited from a deceased partner.
  • Retirement savings. While a married person can roll a deceased spouse’s 401(k) funds into an IRA without paying taxes, a gay or lesbian American who inherits a 401(k) can end up paying up to 70 percent of it in taxes and penalties.
  • Family leave. Married workers are legally entitled to unpaid leave from their jobs to care for an ill spouse. Gay and lesbian workers are not entitled to family leave to care for their partners.
  • Immigration rights. Bi-national families are commonly broken up or forced to leave the country to stay together. The reason: U.S. immigration law does not permit American citizens to petition for their same-sex partners to immigrate.
  • Nursing homes. Married couples have a legal right to live together in nursing homes. Because they are not legal spouses, elderly gay or lesbian couples do not have the right to spend their last days living together in nursing homes.
  • Home protection. Laws protect married seniors from being forced to sell their homes to pay high nursing home bills; gay and lesbian seniors have no such protection.
  • Pensions. After the death of a worker, most pension plans pay survivor benefits only to a legal spouse of the participant. Gay and lesbian partners are excluded from such pension benefits.
This site also has a very succinct treatment of why civil unions are not equivalent to marriage.

What I think should happen is that marriage licenses should all be renamed as civil union licenses. So that the word "marriage" is taken out of the debate. Marriage can continue to be a religious ceremony and commitment. Then, there would be no difference between same-sex unions from heterosexual unions. And it would be made apparent that any attempt to make these dissimilar benefits would be without merit.

Open letter: The Guilt By Association Game -- Okay McCain, let's play.

This is an edited response to the desperate hate-mongering and lies and guilt-by-association game that McCain/Palin are trying to gin-up.  I wanted to have a nice list of McCain/Palin's associations.  Of course, Guilt by association isn't.  So I am not arguing that their associations make them guilty -- just that there are lots of associations to go around if you want to play that game.  But if you're going to play, you've got to show your cards as well.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

McCain fact-check from last debate: planetarium projector != overhead projector

Note to McCain: Overhead projector is not a planetarium projector - Boing Boing
My friends, during last night's presidential debate, McCain took That One to task for approving funding for an "overhead projector." Howard Covitz, who used to work at Chicago's Adler Planetarium, prepared this helpful graphic for McCain to show the difference between an overhead projector and a planetarium projector.

Warning: This email has been known to cause stupidity by the State of California

I feel it is my moral duty to not let emails full of lies, mischaracterizations, and known misleading or untrue information go by without pointing this out. 

When 61% of the country believes in the Noah's Ark flood story _literally_, between 45% and 70% believe that Saddam Hussein was behind the 9-11 attacks, and 12% of Americans still think that Barack Obama is a muslim, it is clear that when things get written down and repeated over and over again, it has an effect of changing people's minds so that they believe things that never happened or are clearly or demonstrably untrue.

I have recently become rather frustrated with people who insist on sending out these kinds of propaganda and lies -- even without fact-checking or providing some kind of warning if they know that some, or all, of it is untrue or suspect.  And I have been searching for a less time-consuming, more clear and humorous and less crass way (other than doing all of their fact-checking for them -- which takes quite a long time and I don't think they read it anyway) of getting the message out that the email is worth about as much as the stuff I scrape off of my shoe.

My solution?  A warning message.  Feel free to copy and use with your next fallacious, vile, malicious, lying, hate-filled, widely-debunked, email that comes your way. 

WARNING!!  This email contains information that is known to be fallacious, demonstrably false, misleading, lies, slanted propaganda, or a mixture of these.  It should never have been sent out in its current state without this warning to the unsuspecting recipients.  While it may contain some factual information, any redeeming value it may have had is poisoned by its proximity to such noxious information.

Continuing to propagate this information is contributing to the precipitous decline of the level of civil discourse and of our entire modern civilization.

Everyone on the recipient list is now likely dumber for having read it.  Consider yourself warned.

More evidence against data-mining as an anti-terrorist tool

There have been a number of studies saying the same thing (search Bruce Schneier's blog for plenty of other examples)

It's kind of like trying to determine if someone is going to rob a bank by looking at their phone calls, etc.  How do you know _beforehand_ what kinds of "patterns" and "data" are indicative of a bank robbery?  And even if you see one bank robbery, not all are created equally, so why would you be able to infer that you could predict the next one based on previous data?

Scientists question terrorist-hunting techniques -
The 352-page report by the National Research Council, an arm of the National Academy of Sciences, does not evaluate the TSA or any other specific government program. Instead, it explores issues related to data mining and behavior detection techniques and attempts to advise lawmakers how to appropriately balance security with privacy.

The report recommends the government be required to systematically evaluate the effectiveness and lawfulness of data-mining and behavior-detection programs before implementing them, and at regular intervals thereafter.

The programs also should be subjected to robust, independent oversight, the group recommends.

Election hi-jinx begins: 'Osama' on NY ballot

Yeah, "Oops".  "Honest mistake"

TROY, N.Y. - Who is running for president? In an upstate New York county, hundreds of voters have been sent absentee ballots in which they could vote for "Barack Osama."

The absentee ballots sent to voters in Rensselaer County identified the two presidential candidates as "Barack Osama" and "John McCain." In the United States, the best-known person named Osama is Osama bin Laden, leader of the al-Qaida terrorist group.

Commissioners for the Rensselaer County Board of Elections say they regret the error but do not acknowledge in a statement exactly what the error is.

The botched ballots were first reported by the Times-Union of Albany.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Sam Harris on Palin

This is one of my favorite parts of this article for Newsweek.  The scary thing is that you could see her answering a question just like this.

Sam Harris on Sarah Palin and Elitism | Newsweek Politics: Campaign 2008 |
What is so unnerving about the candidacy of Sarah Palin is the degree to which she represents—and her supporters celebrate—the joyful marriage of confidence and ignorance. Watching her deny to Gibson that she had ever harbored the slightest doubt about her readiness to take command of the world's only superpower, one got the feeling that Palin would gladly assume any responsibility on earth:

"Governor Palin, are you ready at this moment to perform surgery on this child's brain?"

"Of course, Charlie. I have several boys of my own, and I'm an avid hunter."

"But governor, this is neurosurgery, and you have no training as a surgeon of any kind."

"That's just the point, Charlie. The American people want change in how we make medical decisions in this country. And when faced with a challenge, you cannot blink."


A couple of cool sites that I've come across recently

- Science Facts, science trivia, science info

Science news and loads of interesting facts, like this one:
Each King in a deck of playing cards represents a great king from history. Spades - King David; Clubs - Alexander the Great; Hearts - Charlemagne; and Diamonds - Julius Caesar.
Wordle - Beautiful Word Clouds
Wordle is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like. You can print them out, or save them to the Wordle gallery to share with your friends.

Very interesting tool to create word clouds. I may throw resumes through this to see what kinds of patterns emerge about the person. I saw this used to compare the VP debate transcripts for each candidate.

Annoyance: TV football graphics without persistent down and yardage

I can't believe that I would be the only one to notice this, but I find it so annoying that it seems universal across College and NFL football coverage and universal on every network I've seen that the statistics that are persistent on the screen throughout the game only consist of:

Network, current score (plus possession), time remaining, period, (blank space for down and yards) and other scores.

I find the most interesting information at any given moment though is what the Down and Yards to go are.  Why are they not always listed?  They are only displayed _when they change_, and then they are hidden.  Why, oh why?  What reason could there be for not showing this during the play?

Police don't have to pay for damage during Washington.

I often think of this when I watch CSI and see them busting down doors, cutting people's carpet, etc. to obtain evidence or apprehend suspects.

This is a terrible ruling.  I can't believe that this couldn't be considered negligence for a mistake that they would need to pay for.

WA: Police don’t have to pay for damage during raids » Rational Review
“In a split decision Thursday, the state Supreme Court rejected a plea by a Kent property owner seeking compensation for damage done during a drug raid. Affirming lower court decisions, five of the court’s nine justices found the city of Kent was not required to pay $5,000 for damage to buildings owned by Leo Brutsche during a failed 2004 anti-methamphetamine operation. During the raid, narcotics officers used battering rams to knock down doors in buildings owned by Brutsche while searching for a meth lab they believed Brutsche’s son to be operating on the property, according to court records. No drugs were found, and Brutsche contends he offered officers keys to the doors before they began knocking them down.” (10/02/08)

New research: lack of control increases seeing patterns where none exist

This is very interesting research.  May explain why people turn to religion in those instances too.

See a Pattern on Wall Street? - TierneyLab Blog -
These questions are not unrelated, according to a report in the new issue of Science by Jennifer Whitson and Adam Galinsky. The researchers found that when people were primed to feel out of control, they were more likely to see patterns where none exist. They would spot an object in each of the images above, even though only the image on the right contains one (the outline of Saturn and its rings). If you thought you saw something in the image on the left, don’t be too hard on yourself — your feeling may be perfectly understandable given the chaos on Wall Street.

The researchers say that their experiments, which also tested people’s tendency to detect conspiracies and see superstitious lessons in stories, help explain why conspiracy theories and superstitions flourish when people are feeling out of control. Previous researchers have reported, for instance, that first-year business-school students are more prone to imagine conspiracies than are second-year students, and that deep-sea fishermen have more elaborate rituals and superstitions than ones who fish in more predictable conditions near shore.