Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

Pergelator

Silicon Forest

Friday, April 24, 2015

I'm all outta gum

Scene from Stand Up Guys with Al Pacino as Val, Christopher Walken as Doc, Alan Arkin as Hirsch and Julianna Margulies as Nina Hirsch.

I was perusing the new Heavy Metal website and I come across this line in a comic and it triggers this memory of Christopher Walken saying the same line, so I have to go track it down. Turns out it's been used in umpteen different places in umpteen different ways.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Freedom to Write, Freedom to Think

Syafolee has an excellent post up about what writers should write about. She hasn't been posting much lately, probably because she's too busy enjoying that San Diego sunshine.

Nika Riots

The Empress Theodora at the Colisseum
Jean-Joseph Benjamin-Constant (1845–1902)
Roberta X mentions the Nika riots. Wikipedia has the story, and quite a story it is. Emperor Justinian manages to squash an uprising 1500 years ago in Constantinople. Theodora plays a crucial role. Make this your history lesson for the day.


Excitement

Ghoncheh Ghavami
Tam links to Popehat, who is perturbed by a petition to disinvite Bill Maher to speak at a Berkeley commencement ceremony. The petition comes from Change.org. They are unhappy with Bill claiming that Islam is not a religion of peace. Who is Change.org? Never heard of them, so I go to their website, and what do I find? I find this picture (above) of a lovely woman who was jailed in Iran for watching a volleyball game.
Waaaa? On one hand they are condemning Bill Maher for condemning Islam, and on the other they are condemning Islam for being Islam? Do I have that right?

Logical thought is kind of a trick. It sometimes takes a certain amount of work. Not everyone comes by it naturally. Emotions can get in the way. So can years of conditioning. If someone tells you that something is wrong every day for a dozen years, you might start to believe them, no matter how illogical that thing is. Like a woman watching a volleyball game is a sin comparable to driving a car, and we all know that women should never be allowed near any kind of mechanical device, right? Am I right or what?

Sometimes I think studying Computer Science made me like I am, or maybe it just aggravated my natural tendencies. Computers are machines and figuring out how to make them do what you want can be a very frustrating experience. You know what you want, you tell the computer what you want it do, and you tell it no uncertain terms, and it goes and does something completely wrong. Was the computer being illogical? No, you simply missed something, you made some assumption about what would happen, and assumptions never cut it with computers.

I suspect that large segments of the worlds population is unfamiliar with logic and may even be incapable of logical thought. I thought America was above that, but that would be illogical.

Numbrix

Migrant worker cooking meal over campfire, Edinburg, Texas. 1939
Marilyn's Numbrix Puzzle is my second wake-up activity. This was the toughest one I've encountered. Usually I can do them in about 3 minutes regardless of difficulty level. This one took me two tries of over five minutes each. I might have been able to fix the first one, but it was easier to just start over. I've sometimes wondered how difficult you could make them, and what it would take to make a solution unique, like what is the minimum number of squares you could preset that would require a unique solution. But I've got other fish to fry so I'm not going to worry about it.

Sister Dorothy Stang

The body of Sister Dorothy Stang arrives in Anapu, where she was murdered two days earlier.
I'm poking around and I come across a mention of a murder in Brazil. Dorothy Stang was a nun working with poor farmers who was killed by the local capos back in 2005. I'm reading the Wikipedia story about her and I find the section about the trials of the killers confusing, so I pulled it apart and organized it the way I thought it should be done. It doesn't paint an encouraging picture of Brazilian justice, but then this is the rain forest, so I guess we should be grateful that they even pretended to have a trial. Or ten.

Prosecutors said Moura had ordered Stang's death because she had sent letters to the local authorities accusing Moura of setting illegal fires to clear land, which led to his receiving a substantial fine. 

Roniery Lopes, a witness in the trial of Regivaldo Galvão for fraud, was shot in November 2009, just before he was to testify.

The US Attorney's Office, Transnational Crime Unit, in Washington, DC, pursued an indictment of the four people under a statute on international homicide. The key elements of this statute require 

  1. the victim be a US citizen, 
  2. that the murder take place outside the US, and 
  3. that the murder was carried out to influence, pressure, or coerce a government or civilian group. 

Stang's murder met all the key elements. In June 2005, two men were charged with conspiracy to murder an American outside the United States in connection with her death. 

I'm not really sure what the US Attorney's involvement here was. Perhaps it was just a matter of political pressure. All the trials seemed to have taken place in Brazil, so I don't see how any US law could have any bearing on the matter.

Clodoaldo Carlos Batista
2005 December 10, convicted. Nothing else is said. I suspect he couldn't afford a good lawyer.

Rayfran das Neves Sales
2005 December 10, tried, found guilty and sentenced him to 27 years in prison
2007 October 22 tried and found guilty, and a judge in Belém sentenced him to 27 years in prison
2008 May 6 tried, found guilty and sentenced to 28 years in prison.
2013 July released from prison.
2014 September 20 was arrested again facing accusations of having killed a young man and woman with whom he had a drug deal. They supplied 50 kilograms of cocaine from Bolivia, but instead of paying them for the consignment, Sales fatally shot them.

Regivaldo Pereira Galvão, a rancher suspected of ordering the killing, 
? arrested and charged with the murder and released.
2008 December arrested and charged with the murder. 
2007 May 15, city of Belém, sentenced to 30 years in prison.
2010 May 1 tried, convicted
2012 August 21, the Brazilian Supreme Court conceded an habeas Corpus to Regivaldo Galvão. The defense attorney claims that jury decided to condemn Reginaldo before all the legal recourses available to the defendant were exhausted. Regivaldo Galvão was freed the following day.

Vitalmiro Bastos de Moura, aged 36, ordered Stang's death. 
In a second trial, Moura was acquitted of all charges, because the gunman, Rayfran das Neves Sales, declared in court to have killed Dorothy Stang for personal motivation. 
2009 April 7 the Court of Justice, in Pará, decided to void the third trial. 
2009 April 22 Superior Court of Justice of Brazil freed him pending a decision about his request of Habeas corpus.
2010 February 4 Superior Court of Justice revoked his habeas corpus.
2010 February 7 arrested after surrendering voluntarily to police.
2010 April 12 tried, convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison.
2013 May 15 Brazil’s Supreme Court overturned the conviction
2013 September 19, Pará State, tried, convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison