Saturday, November 22, 2008

Alton Logan, Dale Coventry, and Jamie Kunz: Not Surprisingly, I Was Incorrect

Last night at dinner, Sherry, Tony, Janet and others were discussing the terrible story of Alton Logan. Logan is the man who spent 26 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. The lawyers of another man, Andrew Wilson, had learned of his confession to the crime Logan was improperly imprisoned for weeks after it occurred. Before I go on, part of the reason I am writing this is to apologize to Sherry, Tony and Janet.

At dinner I incorrectly insisted that Wilson's lawyers, Dale Coventry and Jamie Kunz, had been officially reprimanded for their concealment of Wilson's admission and the resulting imprisonment of an innocent man for 26 years. They have not. I confused an ethics panel held recently (Nov 3) at Loyola on this matter with an official redress against these lawyers. It was not.

A panel discussion and nothing more, and as I've read about this case, I now understand why. Another man's life, Wilson's, was held in the balance. I'll explain. Over the course of those 26 years Kunz and Coventry, without naming names, consulted with numerous judges, legal scholars, and ethicists about their conundrum. They honestly attempted to do everything in their power or at least counsel, not as lawyers (but that too), but as humans, to free an innocent man without doing so at the expense of one other man's life.

The two lawyers were representing Wilson, the man who confessed to the murder. When he did so, they wrote a sealed affidavit without naming Wilson, so as to protect their client if the document were to be subpoenaed, and simultaneously vindicate Logan. The problem, however, was that Wilson had been convicted of killing two police officers that made him eligible for death row until it was revealed that his conviction for doing so came as a result of torture, beating, and the use of a radiator upon his flesh at the hands of members of the Chicago Police Department. Given this information, he was sentenced to life without parole over death. If, however, he were to be convicted of another murder, he all but certainly would be sentenced to death. Protecting the life of their client, the lawyers pleaded with Wilson to allow them to reveal his secret if he were to die in prison. Then he did. The ethical weight of life on one side of the scale of (in)justice had been removed and the lawyers sprang into action.

One of the more unfortunate aspects of this case was the way it was originally reported by CBS. In that original report, it was made to appear that the 'dirty, rotten, lawyer characters' were holding themselves to a professional code of ethics while an innocent man languished in prison. This is only marginally true. In reality, the lawyers held one man's life on one side of the balance, their client, as another man languished in prison on the other. It is difficult to find silver linings in such a heart wrenching story. Torture, capital punishment, forced confessions, imprisonment while innocent and more, yet, for CBS this story was handled cheaply and incompletely. For CBS this was nothing more than an opportunity to salaciously pit white lawyers, beholden to their professional code of conduct, protecting their client's confidentiality while another man suffered at their expense. Although true, the CBS story intentionally misses the more complicated nature of this terrible intersection of justice and ethics. The lawyers were protecting one man's life at the expense of an innocent man's freedom. That is a very different story than one about client confidentiality.

On that note, and as anything but a legal scholar, I believe there was a way for the lawyers to solve their conundrum. If they were able to secure with prosecutors that the life of their client, Wilson, would not be on the line with the confession to another murder for which a man had already been convicted and sentenced; then, it appears that their ethical challenge would be no longer. Wilson would have been tried for a crime he had confessed to and remained in prison for life without parole on the sentence he had already received for killing two cops and an innocent man would be set free. Why this was not done, or if it is even possible within the law, I am unsure.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The World Upside-down, BoingBoing Reads This Blog (Not Really)

I think the writers at BoingBoing and those fine people at Goggle and LIFE have been keeping their eyes close to this blog (don't we all wish the former was true?). In reality, BoingBoing announced that Google and LIFE have gotten together to build an online warehouse of 10M historic images. The BB link may be found here and the Google / LIFE link here.

Analysis: What Just Happened?

From NYT:
Hillary Rodham Clinton has decided to give up her Senate seat and accept the position of secretary of state, making her the public face around the world for the administration of the man who beat her for the Democratic presidential nomination, two confidants said Friday.
Why? Why Hillary Clinton? What is Obama doing? Here are some bullet points, I cannot figure this out for the life of me:

  • She is not bi nor multi lingual;

  • She is divisive, even within her own party;

  • She supported the war that Obama has pledged to 'wind down;'

  • She consistently attacked the person who will be her boss as unfit to lead on 'day one' and sorely lacking in 'foreign relations experience' despite her equivalent shortcomings;

  • She has failed in her largest executive challenges at keeping seasoned bureaucrats and politicians in check (health care and presidential run both a smoldering heap of infighting and executive failure);

  • She's a terrible choice, one who is likely to bring the above 'qualities' into a very bright spotlight and be a distraction from the administration. If there is one thing HRC is not, it is a team player;

  • There were better choices. John Kerry, for example, for whom I am no fan, would have been better. He is multi-lingual, has worked extensively in the international arena, has defense and combat experience, and is only truly divisive to a minority subset of crazed wingnutters who swallowed the swill of the '04 campaign;

  • The argument about the 18 million voters, etc. is a weak one. There are roles that are noteworthy within the administration or the overall government that are not Sec. of State. One example would be the Supreme Court. Sure, HRC lacks any noteworthy legal scholarship, but she was a practicing lawyer and Senator. There must be other justices who have not come from a background of legal scholarship. Such a nomination would give her power, while taking her out of politics and the spotlight for the rest of her life. It's perfect. There are other roles too, but not Sec. of State;

  • This boggles my mind, I am angry and ranting. I apologize. If anyone can help explain this choice, can speak to what Obama is thinking, please, help!

Bad Online Marketing / Ad Placement Strategy

From WSJ Online:

Big Pharma Is Shown to be Even More Nefarious

From today's NYT:
An influential psychiatrist who served as the host of public radio’s popular “The Infinite Mind” program earned at least $1.3 million between 2000 and 2007 giving marketing lectures for drug makers, income not mentioned on the program...

In October, Mr. Grassley revealed that Dr. Charles B. Nemeroff of Emory University, one of the nation’s most influential psychiatric researchers, earned more than $2.8 million in consulting arrangements with drug makers from 2000 to 2007, failed to report at least $1.2 million of that income to his university and violated federal research rules. As a result, the National Institutes of Health suspended a $9.3 million research grant to Emory and placed restrictions on other grants, and Dr. Nemeroff relinquished his chairmanship of Emory’s psychiatry department.

In June, the senator revealed that Harvard University’s Dr. Joseph Biederman, whose work has fueled an explosion in the use of powerful antipsychotic medicines in children, had earned at least $1.6 million from drug makers between 2000 and 2007, failed to report most of this income to his university, and may have violated federal and university research rules.

Can you imagine? Prior to Sen. Grassley's investigations, people would be considered 'crazy' to assert that Big Pharma was, through secret undisclosed payments of large sums of money, heavily influencing research at top universities, on public airways, and via the printed word in favor of its products. Today, thanks to Senate investigations, civil lawsuits, and other means we know these firms withheld research from publication that showed their greatest sellers were no better than placebo, went on an active disinformation campaign when they knew that their drugs were strongly linked with adolescent suicide, and were paying off the top doctors in their respective fields to teach and speak on public airways a Pharma favorable message.

Additional Rules

I so enjoyed the "1001 Rules for My Unborn Son" that I started writing some of my own. I submitted them to that webpage via email, but I am posting them here as well:

1. When at a diner, follow diner rules: Burgers, eggs, simple sandwiches.

2. At a fine restaurant, trust the chef. Everywhere else, order off the menu; if you want personalized food, eat at home.

3. Food is for sharing; a means, not an end; not for remedy nor gluttony.

4. Get involved: Being a member of your community means being part of it.

5. Treat those in need with dignity, few others will.

6. Mind your tone: It's difficult to speak calmly, with assurance and confidence, but necessary.

7. Grammar counts: have command of a language (or two).

8. Words are tools, maintain a well-stocked and well-used toolbox.

9. Happenstance is a better friend than prescience; you don't need to take credit for all of the good things that happen to you.

10. Real men read philosophy, fiction, and poetry; Not all knowledge has pre-ordained utility.

11. Interests may come and go, but if you don't follow some of them some of the time, they stop coming.

12. If you're bored, then you're boring.

13. Build one lifelong partnership.

14. Curiosity is more fun than faith.

15. Know the scientific method.

16. Thank those who compliment you.

17. Be able to walk a mile comfortably in any footwear you own.

18. Build traditions; allow them to change.

19. Asking people where they are from is insulting.

20. 'What do you do?' is a demeaning and belittling question; see how far you can get into a conversation without knowing a person's profession.

21. Nostalgia has its place, but there are always things that are better now.

22. Watch old movies.

23. Know how to build a fire.

24. Keep in touch with old friends, they'll be happy to hear from you.

25. Love is many things, try to know each of them.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Greatest Photo of All Time Cont'd

This one, in part, is for Pericles. Fred Astaire perfectly groomed and properly dressed with his morning scripts at breakfast.

The image was found whilst perusing this fun running list: "1001 Rules For My Unborn Son."

Beautiful song

This is Greg Gaffin from Bad Religion. A PhD in evolutionary biology, singer for one of the greatest punk bands of all time, and one of my very few personal heroes.

O Tannenbaum

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Not only that, apparently he's the antichrist too

According to this article.

I'm sick to my stomach...

al Qaeda: Obama is a "House Negro"

Did the Bush administration "squander" good will with radical Islam or was there no love to be lost in the first instance?  Clinton, of course, tried harder than Bush, perhaps harder than anyone since Carter.  For his trouble, Arafat pissed on him publicly.  Now, President Obama receives this lovely invitation to be reasonable:
Al-Zawahiri said Obama is "the direct opposite of honorable black Americans" like Malcolm X. He also called the President-Elect a "house negro," a degrading term meaning he serves White people. 

*   *   *   

"The dogs of Afghanistan have found the flesh of your soldiers to be delicious, so send thousands after thousands of them."

Hope.  Change.

No, YOU'RE Wrong, Fractally Wrong!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Frightening Proposal on Abortion and Contraceptive Rights

There are some very scary things going on right now in the Bush administration. Excerpt from New York Times article above:

WASHINGTON — A last-minute Bush administration plan to grant sweeping new protections to health care providers who oppose abortion and other procedures on religious or moral grounds has provoked a torrent of objections, including a strenuous protest from the government agency that enforces job discrimination laws.

As an example of the policies to which they object, Bush administration officials cited a Connecticut law that generally requires hospitals to provide rape victims with timely access to and information about emergency contraception.

From Planned Parenthood: This new rule could allow almost 600,000 health care entities that receive federal funding to redefine abortion to include the most common forms of birth control — and then refuse to provide these basic services. For any health provider to intentionally withhold information about widely embraced treatment options from a patient — for any health condition — is absolutely unconscionable under any circumstances. The federal government has no business funding providers who do not abide by this most fundamental standard of care.

Email Bush opposing this madness here

Most Haunting Picture Ever

A mother interposes herself between her baby and a bullet. 

Money Hole

Very fun commentary on how our current politicians seem to be diagnosing, arguing and treating our economic disease.

In The Know: Should The Government Stop Dumping Money Into A Giant Hole?

Monday, November 17, 2008


Good Congo article from Slate.

Greatest Photo ad Eluzhun

"Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader", every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam." - Carl Sagan

The Greatest Photo of All Time

Since there was a decent response to the first, "The Greatest Photo of All Time," I've decided to make a little series of it. I came across this today and couldn't resist. Technology, geekiness, super-high res, young, old, etc. The full story is here, at Gizmodo:

When NASA released this image from their Lunar Orbiter 1 back in 1966, the first photograph ever of the Earth rising above the Moon's surface, it was low resolution but they still amazed the world. This week, they have surprised every space aficionado re-releasing the same image in ultra-high definition. The cool part now is that NASA hasn't used any upscaling or magical infinite zoom-in filter from CSI. Instead, they have created a new technology that uses refurbished analog machines and a new digital process that fully extracts the information stored in the program's old magnetic tapes, something that was impossible to do in the 60s.

You can click for the super-large, high-detail photo.

Your Mother Was Right: Watching Television Turns Your Brain to Mush

This clip is a composite from the past 2 or so years of various buffoons (Ben Stein, Art Laffer, et al) vs. Peter Schiff at Euro Pacific Capital. Watching this begs for greater public accountability of the often sweeping and lightly (if at all) informed claims made on television. I hope no one actually used Fox, CNBC or any other cable station as an investing resource of significance.

Take particular note of the recommendations to buy Merril, Bear and WaMu and the bullying, sarcastic, manner with which Schiff is treated. It is unfortunate that this is the attitude towards dissent which has become permissible and commonplace. One would figure that if the others' arguments were so strikingly superior, they'd be able to state their case without laughter or derision.