Wednesday, November 30, 2005
farkleberries Links du Jour 126: The Dial V for Value(s) Edition 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 

Ontario Man Acquitted for "Sleep Sex" Assault 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
Can you spot what's wrong with this story?

33-year old Jan Luedecke, an Ontario landscaper, was acquitted of rape using a most unusual defense: he was asleep at the time. From the Toronto Sun/C-News:
In an unusual case in a Scarborough, Ontario, courtroom, Jan Luedecke was acquitted of sexual assault after a judge ruled he was asleep during the attack -- a disorder known as "sexsomnia." "This is indeed a rare case ... His conduct was not voluntary," said Justice Russell Otter, as Luedecke's victim shook, sobbed and then left the courtroom. The judgment has outraged women's groups. "This is infuriating. It's another case of the courts not taking a woman seriously, adding yet another list to the list of excuses which men use for sexual assault," said Suzanne Jay, of the Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centres.

Luedecke, a 33-year-old landscaper, met his victim at a party on July 6, 2003. Both had been drinking. The woman, who can't be named, had fallen asleep on a couch. She woke up to find him having sex with her. She pushed him off, then reported the rape to police. She didn't know Luedecke before that night.

Luedecke claimed he fell asleep on the same couch and woke up when he was thrown to the floor. He only suspected he had had sex after using the bathroom and discovering he was still wearing a condom, court heard. He confessed to police.

During his trial, sleep expert Dr. Colin Shapiro testified Luedecke had parasomnia - a disorder with symptoms such as sleepwalking. Shapiro testified Luedecke suffered from sexsomnia, which is sexual behaviour during sleep. ... [I]t was brought on, he said, by alcohol, sleep deprivation and genetics. Luedecke previously had sleep sex with four girlfriends, court heard.
I've read enough about crime and psychology to believe some strange things can happen when someone is asleep - including murder. I would be willing to believe that he was asleep during the incident except for one little detail:
"He only suspected he had had sex after using the bathroom and discovering he was still wearing a condom..."
It strikes me a bit far-fetched that considering the other facts - both he and the victim had met at a party, had drinks, he fell asleep on the couch, only to awake after the the woman pushed him off - that Luedecke managed to put on a condom while he was asleep? There's a lot of people that can't do that properly while they're awake.

Or was he awake when he put on the condom - fell asleep after putting on the condom - then had sex with the woman, suggesting he had the intent to engage in sex beforehand? I suspect that while he may genuinely have a sleep disorder, Luedecke might be using his illness as an excuse to cover the real events of the evening - and only he knows the truth. Something strange is going on here.

MORE: CTV.com: "Man acquitted of sexual assault was asleep"

Tuesday, November 29, 2005
farkleberries Links du Jour 125 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 

Monday, November 28, 2005
Dirty Gary (Indiana) 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
Last week Gary, Indiana made the list of America's top ten most dangerous cities in a Morgan Quitno Press release. But somehow, "dangerous" doesn't quite sum this story up. From the Chicago Sun-Times:
A woman who was robbed at knifepoint while pumping gas into her church's van couldn't believe it when the gas station attendant refused to call police for help. "I ran, of course, to the nearest place," Gary resident Rosetta Heffner said, recounting Sunday's robbery. Her request to call 911 was met with silence from the other side of the Citgo station's counter. She tried again. The clerk's response? "Use your cell phone."
The gas station's manager said he was sorry about the robbery, but clerks at the station do not make emergency calls from the front counter, fearing retaliation from criminals. "We have to be careful," he said. "If we call, then there are problems. They can hear. So we use the back phone. We are always helpful to the customer, but we have to protect ourselves."
While few jurisdictions require bystanders to intervene and help through "Good Samaritan" laws (particularly if doing so would place themselves at risk, which the gas station management would likely claim), it would seem like a smart option would be to have a silent alarm or police "panic button" near the front desk a clerk could trigger without fear of being overheard by criminals. That might help solve the problem, since the current "see nothing, hear nothing, say nothing" policy strikes me a tad too Kitty Genovese.

This story certainly makes "concealed carry" a far more appealing option, no? "Go ahead. Make my day."

Thursday, November 24, 2005
Happy Thanksgiving, Y'all 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
You know who, sweeties.It's freezing cold (18° F) and brilliantly sunny this morning in Chicago, and my better half and her younger brother (who's visiting us from the East Coast, a departure from his usual holiday routine) are off in Lincoln Park running in this year's Goose Island Turkey Trot race. They're braver souls than I. What am I doing, you ask?

I've opted to stay home in my horseblanket robe with the kitties, the coffeepot, and the computer. The music playing is Ladytron's Witching Hour, as fine a wintry (and oddly sexy) platter as I've heard in a long time.

Later, we'll have breakfast with a few friends at a well-known historic Chicago diner, and then I'll return home to cook up big pots of Indian vegetables (chickpeas, carrots, eggplant, and so on) and mujadara [a.k.a. M'gederrah, mo'jadara. and so forth. You try Googling it when there are at least ten different spellings for this Middle Eastern dish!] to bring to our Thanksgiving get-together with relatives in town. As you can tell from the non-traditional dishes we're bringing, it's a slightly different kind of holiday celebration!

Here's wishing you smooth travels, pleasant family gatherings, winning football teams, and unlumpy gravy. May your turkey (or Tofurkey, or your mujadara) be moist, and your powder dry.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005
farkleberries Links du Jour 124 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 

Surd is the Word 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
There's a special, private pleasure that comes whenever one learns a new word [well, at least that does it for me - ha.] - especially if it's obscure, syllabically concise to avoid giving the impression of pretense when used in conversation, and just plain neat. Today's word is surd, and Language Log provides a dizzyingly detailed analysis of this little lexical gem. Here's just a snippet:
The AHD gives two definitions:
1. Mathematics An irrational number, such as the square root of 2.2. Linguistics A voiceless sound in speech.
and a two-step etymology:
Medieval Latin surdus, speechless, surd (translation of Arabic (jaðr açamm) ’as?amm, deaf (root), surd, translation of Greek alogos, speechless, surd), from Latin.
surd does turns up Erasmus Darwin's 1799 Botanic Garden, which includes in Part II ("Containing the Loves of Plants"), Canto II, in a sort of ode to the invented goddess Papyra:

119 ---Three favour'd youths her soft attention share,
120 The fond disciples of the studious Fair,
121 Hear her sweet voice, the golden process prove;
122 Gaze, as they learn; and, as they listen, love.
123 The first from Alpha to Omega joins
124 The letter'd tribes along the level lines;
125 Weighs with nice ear the vowel, liquid, surd,
126 And breaks in syllables the volant word.
Silent, wordless, irrational but extant: surd is the antithesis of good blog. Don't be a surd.

Gary Glitter Facing Child Sex Charges in Vietnam 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
British pop star Gary Glitter, in his 1970's prime and immediately following his November 2005 arrest in VietnamGary Glitter [real name Paul Francis Gadd], the 1970's British singer who gave us the anthem "Rock and Roll (Part 2)," whose tribal beats, fuzzy guitar and "Hey!!" refrain ring out in stadiums across the world, is in some serious legal trouble in Vietnam. The London Times reports he's facing charges of having sex with several underage girls, one allegedly as young as 12.
The [61 year old] former glam rock star...told investigators in the resort town of Vung Tau, southern Vietnam, that he came to the country looking for tourism opportunities and was duped by the girls, who said they were in their twenties, state-run newspapers said.

"When they met me, they all told me that they were older than 20," the official Thanh Nien newspaper quoted Glitter as saying. The former pop star, 61, also said he had been helping the girls to "learn to speak English", the newspaper reported.
Under Vietnamese law, sexual contact with a minor under the age of 18 carries a range of penalties, depending on the charge.

Child rape carries the maximum penalty of death by firing squad. If Gadd is charged and convicted of sex with a 12-year-old, regardless of whether he had her consent, that would still be considered child rape under Vietnamese law, Vietnamese police have said.
Sadly, it's not the first time Gadd/Glitter has been in this type of jam. His history appears to be that of a repeat pedophile offender who's undeterred by a string of jail terms, as well as a number of "lucky breaks" and acquittals:
If he is imprisoned, the former singer will find Vietnamese jails very different from Horfield Prison in Bristol, where he served two months in 1999 for possessing "hard-core, sick and degrading" [pornographic] images of children. Vietnamese jails are notorious for their squalor, harsh treatment of prisoners and lack of attention to sanitation, hygiene and food.

Even if he is not prosecuted in Vietnam, Glitter could face charges in this country if he ever returned under Britain’s "sex tourism" laws — the Sex Offences Act 1996.
Subsequently, he served jail time in Cambodia on another series of child porn charges, and was later deported from that nation in 2003 at the behest of the deputy prime minister, Sar Kheng. Kheng appealed to the Interior Ministry to ask Glitter to leave "as soon as possible" as a "preventative measure for protecting the well-being of our [country's] children." Japan's Mainichi Daily News reports,
The case has been highly publicized in state-controlled media, which had reported that Glitter was seen in Vung Tau with several teenage girls, whom he invited to his home, since moving to the area in March.

Tuesday's Thanh Nien (Young People) newspaper quoted Glitter telling police that he had been duped by the girls. "When we met, they all said they were over 20 years of age," Glitter was quoted as saying.

On Monday, the paper had reported that the two girls said they had been paid for sex with Glitter. The 12-year-old told police she had sex three times with Glitter, who paid her 150,000 dong (US$10) each time, the paper said. Police have refused to confirm whether either of the youths claimed they were paid for sex.

Neighbors on Monday said they were surprised to read the allegations against Glitter in the newspaper. They said the only problem they ever had with him was that he sometimes brought home friends to his oceanside villa and sang songs too loudly.

"Before this, I never suspected him" of doing anything he's accused of, said Tran Cong Khanh, 48. "I thought he just liked children."
Ireland Online: "Glitter faces death sentence"
Mexico Ledger: "Gary Glitter Denies Child-Sex Allegation"
Mainichi Daily News: "Vietnamese police launch criminal investigation into Brit rocker Gary Glitter"
BBC News: "Gary Glitter arrested in Vietnam" and "Fall of Glitter The Pop Superstar" [7 January 2003]

Wednesday, November 16, 2005
farkleberries Links du Jour 123 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 

What Kind of Humanist Are You? 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
As an old colleague of mine [from my television days] once said in response to my efforts at intra-office diplomacy, "that's so Swiss of you!" I hope he was suggesting my political arguments were subtle, sophisticated and cosmopolitan; not just cheesy and full of holes.

The Handholder

You go out of your way to build bridges with people of different views and beliefs and have quite a few religious friends. You believe in the essential goodness of people , which means you’re always looking for common ground even if that entails compromises. You would defend Salman Rushdie’s right to criticise Islam but you’re sorry he attacked it so viciously, just as you feel uncomfortable with some of the more outspoken and unkind views of religion in the pages of this magazine.

You prefer the inclusive approach of writers like Zadie Smith or the radical Christian values of Edward Said. Don’t fall into the same trap as super–naïve Lib Dem MP Jenny Tonge who declared it was okay for clerics like Yusuf al–Qaradawi to justify their monstrous prejudices as a legitimate interpretation of the Koran: a perfect example of how the will to understand can mean the sacrifice of fundamental principles. Sometimes, you just have to hold out for what you know is right even if it hurts someone’s feelings.

What kind of humanist are you? Click here to find out.

[Swiped from The Countess and Feministe]

Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Sour Grapes for a Sweet Victory 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
Cubs and Sox tee shirt

[from the inbox, original source unknown]

Monday, November 14, 2005
farkleberries Links du Jour 122 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 

Friday, November 11, 2005
Wake Up. Today is the 11:11, Yet Again 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
...it's also time for the Friday Random Ten.
  1. Jah Wobble and Bill Laswell - "Second Sight"
  2. Hallucinogen - "LSD"
  3. Black Box Recorder - "Lord Lucan is Missing"
  4. Charlie Parker Quartet - "Now is the Time/Confirmation"
  5. Cocteau Twins - "Oomingmak"
  6. Air - "J'ai Dormi Sous L'Eau"
  7. Hawkwind - "We Took The Wrong Step Years Ago"
  8. Sufjan Stevens - "The Seer's Tower"
  9. Edgar Froese - "Daleroshima"
  10. Potemkine - "Mystére"

Tuesday, November 08, 2005
farkleberries Links du Jour 121 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 

Friday, November 04, 2005
More Proof We Haven't Come That Far from the Good Old Days Dark Ages 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
{semisarcastic rant}
Hell, if it worked for the Inquisition, why not 21st Century America? From KRNV 4-TV in Reno, Nevada:
Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman has suggested that those who deface freeways with graffiti should have their thumbs cut off on television.

Goodman, appearing on the "Nevada Newsmakers" television show in Reno, said efforts are made to have beautiful highway landscaping, including paintings, and - "These punks come along and deface it. I'm saying maybe you put them on TV and cut off a thumb." Goodman also suggested that whippings or canings should be brought back for children who get into trouble.
No, it's not a misquote; watch the KRNV video here. Goodman repsonds to the interviewer's suggestion that he's joking or hyperbolizing with a deadpan, "No. I'm dead serious."

Let's just bring back the rack and iron maiden, and eliminate all this three-strikes-and-you're-out mollycoddling in one fell swoop. Joking aside, when politicians go on camera spouting this sort of medieval claptrap, should we be surprised at Abu Ghraib? In fact, why should we be spending all our good tax money fighting Islamic extremists at all? I hear they're fans of whippings, canings, and public amputations as a deterrent, too.
{/semisarcastic rant}

Thursday, November 03, 2005
Sneaky Sony BMG Using Hacker's Rootkit Trick 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
Sony BMG has apparently borrowed a page from the hackers' playbook by using "cloaked" rootkit spyware on its copy-protected CD's. The copy-protected CD surreptitiously installs the rootkit on a user's computer, which can cause a host of problems in addition to its supposedly "legitimate" DRM purpose of preventing unauthorized ripping and duplication. From InformationWeek:
"Most users that stumble across the cloaked files with a RKR scan will cripple their computer if they attempt the obvious step of deleting the cloaked files," [independent researcher, Mark Russinovich] said.

Removing the rootkit is so fraught with possibilities of calamity that F-Secure recommended users don't try it themselves. Instead, [F-Secure's chief research officer Mikko] Hyppönen urged users to fill out a Sony BMG Web form and ask for instructions on how to remove the software. F-Secure has tested the resulting removal process - which relies on the installation of an Internet Explorer ActiveX control - and has confirmed it works. According to one anti-spyware expert, Sony has no excuse for leaning on a rootkit to copy protect its content.

"Rootkits are always malicious," said Richard Stiennon, director of threat research for the Boulder, Colo.-based anti-spyware vendor Webroot. "There's no legitimate use of a rootkit, whose only purpose is to hide code from the operating system." Stiennon is intimately familiar with rootkits, since they're often by spyware writers to disguise some of their nastier work, like password keyloggers.
The obvious simple response is to "just say no" to Sony BMG discs - and those of any other companies who follow suit - and the entertainment giants' efforts at self-protection may backfire once savvy users get wind of their sneaky tactics. If nothing else, more listeners will be tempted to obtain their music through non-retail channels. After all, who'd want to give their hard-earned cash to a company whose strategies are on the level of spammers and identity thieves? To those who say, "it's just business - the record companies have to protect themselves," I respond, "so do I." In light of this, I should just take my chances with the RIAA. ;)

Tuesday, November 01, 2005
OTEP: The Jack O' Lantern 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
Just thought I'd share with you one bitchin' pumpkin, crafted by sillylibra, which sadly didn't receive the audience it should have had last night:

"Living on a dead end street means, in my case, that very few kids come to the door. Sadly, my masterpiece went largely unseen. I post a picture of it now. It's camera-phone quality, because my camera is in a box in the storage unit until I find it again. I think. I used one of Otep's drawings as the pattern and the letters are the band's logo."