You all are going to rue the hours you spent making fun of Ogged! (What about you, Tia? Did you never make fun of Ogged?--eds. Moi?). Anyway, he's the man. I have word that he ran into the Swedish grad student in the airport; according to Ogged, not only did she remember him, she flirted with him (she complimented him on his biceps), and she mentioned that she was sorry she had never emailed him back, but she was just ending a relationship at the time. But she asked him out for coffee!
How do you know this about Ogged, you ask?
This is as good a time as any to announce to you all that, as some of you have speculated, after a few months of private email correspondence, I was the one who reset Ogged's TiVo, and the grad student is going to be disappointed, because we've been seeing each other semi-regularly. He usually comes out here, since his schedule is more flexible. I told you I was capable of infidelity, although my relationship in fact ended much sooner after Ogged and I commenced seeing each other than I let on, and I delayed the news in part to deflect attention. But in order for me to tell the best stories, you have to know the truth, and Ogged gave me permission to tell you, since, as always, he'll do virtually anything to make Unfogged the best blog it can be, even from beyond the grave.
Update: April Fool's!
Of Pensacola's many rules, those dealing with male-female relationships are the most talked about. There are restrictions on when and where men and women may speak to each other. Some elevators and stairwells may be used only by women; others may be used only by men. Socializing on particular benches is forbidden. If a man and a woman are walking to class, they may chat; if they stop en route, though, they may be in trouble. Generally men and women caught interacting in any "unchaperoned area" — which is most of the campus — could be subject to severe penalties.
Those rules extend beyond the campus. A man and a woman cannot go to an off-campus restaurant together without a chaperon (usually a faculty member). Even running into members of the opposite sex off campus can lead to punishment. One student told of how a group of men and a group of women from the college happened to meet at a McDonald's last spring. Both groups were returning from the beach (they had gone to separate beaches; men and women are not allowed to be at the beach together). The administration found out, and all 15 students were expelled.
Even couples who are not talking or touching can be reprimanded. Sabrina Poirier, a student at Pensacola who withdrew in 1997, was disciplined for what is known on the campus as "optical intercourse" — staring too intently into the eyes of a member of the opposite sex. This is also referred to as "making eye babies." While the rule does not appear in written form, most students interviewed for this article were familiar with the concept. As she tells it, Ms. Poirier was not gazing lovingly at her boyfriend; he had something in his eye.
It gets entirely stranger from there, so hit the link for the full totalitarian creepshow. Oddly, given the prohibition on looking at each other for too long (shaking hands is also forbidden between the sexes), their Social Events page boasts that "[s]tudents have no lack of dating opportunities: church, Vespers, athletic events, concerts, and recitals can all be 'dates' to remember!" Just no eye babies or you may get assigned a "shadow."
Sounds like a blast.
In the God thread below, and in various other places, it's been suggested that thinking about various religions (in particular, Christianity) as a set of propositions about what there is and what happened is the wrong way to go. The suggestion is that I'm missing the boat if I think of Christianity as a sort of theory of the world.
Serious question: imagine you're one of the theologians who makes this complaint. What is the right way to think about religious commitment? Is it explicable in terms of truth, or some other good thing? (E.g., if you say "it's a special way of seeing things" I'm going to wonder if it's a more accurate way, and so on.)
Hey everyone, ac wants to play Botticelli and be the answerer. Here's where I described the basic rules of Botticelli. I probably didn't make clear that the last name of the person you think of for first order questions should be the same as the letter the answerer gives you. Any other rules or variants that ac would like to clarify or institute she can mention in comments. I think she'll tell you her letter in comments, too.
First, you all missed a great party. Second, one of the things you missed was the following conversation:
(A small, bubbly older woman (her name may have been Jane, I'm not sure) is wandering through the party selling Team Newyorkistan T-shirts. I'm talking to Idealist, who has been previously introduced to her as Audrey's boss – from the remainder of the conversation, I believe she thinks I also work for him. I buy a t-shirt, and read the slogan, "If we're not there in three weeks, it's yours free." Figuring I'll start a conversation, and in an attempt to be clever and facile, I ask "What does ‘it' refer to?" I am instantly in over my head.)
Jane: What do you want?
Jane: What do you want? If they don't get there in three weeks, what do you want?
LB: [Confused, and on the spot] Um, a pony?
Jane: [Delighted – simply glowing with approval] That's wonderful. I ask everybody that, it's one of my questions. It tells you a lot about a person. I don't think I've ever heard anyone ask for anything as sweet and simple as a pony. [Turning to Idealist, in a commanding tone] Buy her a pony.
Ideal: [Chokes on his Diet Coke.]
Jane: [Insistently] You should buy her a pony now. Anyone with the warmth and openness to ask for a pony, should have a pony. [This goes on for a bit, with Jane berating Ideal to buy me a pony. She then turns back to me] An answer to a question like that says so much about a person… so, what kind of law do you do?
LB: I'm a litigator, representing tobacco companies.
Jane: Fuck you.
I totally want to start a snowflake collection! Too bad it's just becoming spring.
There's a frustrating review of Daniel Dennett's new book on religion in this week's New Yorker. I don't mean to say anything about Dennett, but I do want to offer a crude line of reasoning against the author's too-generous acceptance of the common, though puzzling, "religion and science are (mostly) distinct" line.
Science can certainly undermine particular factual claims made by religion (the universe was created in six days), but it's far less clear that it can challenge religion's general metaphysical claims (the universe has a purpose). To insist on this distinction is to recognize what it means for something to be a metaphysical, not a physical, claim. What experiment could prove that the universe has no purpose? To suppose that a kind of physics can demolish a kind of metaphysics is to commit what philosophers call a category mistake. Dennett is right to emphasize that his scientific analysis doesn't require us to prejudge religion's metaphysical claims, but that's only half the story. It doesn't let us post-judge them, either.
This point is connected to a distinction often made by philosophers of science between "methodological naturalism" (science is a set of approaches to the world in which only naturalistic explanations may be considered) and "metaphysical naturalism" (science describes the ultimate state or meaning of the world). As many philosophers and scientists argue, the first approach doesn't justify the second. Science, they claim, is not in the business of issuing position papers on metaphysics.
Let's take the first paragraph first. Science, H Allen Orr says, can undermine some, but not all, claims made by religions. Through the magic of SCIENCE! we know that the world wasn't made in 144 hours, but we can't know that the universe has no purpose. Hence, religion's "general metaphysical claims" are off-limits. This strikes me as bogus for a very simple reason: religion's claims about the purpose-driven universe rest on claims about the existence of a diety, and the magic of science can give us reason to doubt that such a being exists. (For example, we could discover compelling naturalistic explanation of complexity that otherwise might be best explained by a Designer.) We can't "run an experiment" about this in one sense, but we can do something almost as satisfying, viz., run many, many experiments that play a role in constructing a complex theory that does explanatory work that undermines the evidence for the existence of a god.
You could, if you wanted, say that religious claims aren't the kind of thing that can be undermined by any empirical inquiry, but this (I think) comes with a cost: you have to accept any possible outcome of empirical enquiry as equally compatible with your religious claims. If there's no explanatory work at all done by God, and you still want to believe, well, that's between you and your epistemologist. But this involves giving up a lot of traditional theism-- including any claims about purpose or meaning that rest on, say, an intervening, causally potent God.
Shorter: if metaphysical claims are completely immune to physics, this limits what sorts of claims they might be. I so hope we've given up on the idea that there's a robust reality apart from the subject our our empirical inquiry.* The problem with many central religious propositions, it seems to me, is that they can't serve the role they're supposed to serve unless they're subject to empirical criticism. If they're in the metaphysical club, they can't do the work they're meant to do, and vice-versa.
As for the claim about varieties of naturalism, what Orr says is right as far as it goes, but I think it's misleading. If methodological naturalism succeeds-- and by God it's doing well so far-- this provides some evidence for metaphysical naturalism, does it not? I share with Brian Leiter a distaste for this idea that methodological naturalism is simply "one way of doing things," no better than, say, methodological let's-get-high-ism. MN works. What a miracle!
*This is sloppily put; there are non-trivial exceptions, I think, but the religion stuff isn't one of them. Mostly I'm thinking about Nagel, but you might have other examples. Can these lines be drawn in a principled way? You betcha. Or so I hope.
LB's comment about how she was going to teach her kids that dinosaurs could sing reminded me of something I witnessed the other day – a mother and her young daughter were ahead of me in the line at the grocery store and they were talking about rainbows. The little girl announced that rainbows are made up of six colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. The mother corrected her and said that, no, honey, rainbows are made up of seven colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, and pink.
Purple and pink? The hell? Whatever happened to ROY G. BIV?
So, there I was in the checkout line trying to figure out what to do. Do I interject with the correct information or do I keep my mouth shut so that I don't undercut the mother's parental authority in front of her child? In the end, of course, I started pondering all of the possible ramifications of each action – we obviously shouldn't intervene if we hear a parent teach a child a belief with which we don't agree but what about facts?...which of course led to me pondering What about situations where facts and beliefs are intermingled, like creationism?...and then an existential pondering of What is Truth, really?...and by then the mother and daughter had left the store and even if I had wanted to say something it would have been too late.
I think it was probably best that I bit my tongue but it still bothers me that there's some little girl out there who thinks pink is part of the rainbow.
Eight people from Unfogged meet in a bar. What happened?
No, seriously. What happened? We can't remember.
So Diebold, the same company that makes the voting machines, also got a contract to manage the database of voter registrations in California. The CA Secretary of State set it up so that if your voter registration form doesn't match the pre-existing information in the DMV database by even one character (middle initial present or absent, 'Rob' instead of 'Robert', a typo in your birthdate), the form is rejected, and can't be corrected without contacting the voter (that is, as I understand the linked story, a clerk looking at a voter registration form for Robert A. Smith, born on 3/15/65, SSN 335-3434-6536, with DMV info for Robert Smith, born on 3/15/65, SSN 335-3434-6536 can't let the voter registration through -- they have to get a fresh form from the voter that perfectly matches the DMV database.) About a quarter of new voter registration forms have been rejected statewide -- more than 40% in LA county. San Diego County has a special election to replace Cunningham on April 11 -- they're apparently having a hard time getting the screwed up registrations fixed in time.
Wasn't there anyone out there who's ever worked with a database who could have told them that requiring a perfect, character by character, match between the two records was nuts? And can we hope that CA changes their standards to allow registrations through in the absence of any suspicion of fraud? Shouldn't it be easier to register to vote than to get a credit card sent to someone else's address?
It's like they don't want people voting or something. (Via BradBlog.)
Morrissey went on to say that, despite a £5million offer, The Smiths would never reform.
"I would rather eat my own testicles than re-form The Smiths, and that's saying something for a vegetarian," he said.
Perhaps if y'all lobby Gardenburger to market Tofusticles, hope for a reunion is not yet lost.
I sure hope this isn't true, but I suspect it probably is.
Saudi Arabia is working secretly on a nuclear program, with help from Pakistani experts, the German magazine Cicero reported in its latest edition, citing Western security sources. It says that during the Haj pilgrimages to Mecca in 2003 through 2005, Pakistani scientists posed as pilgrims to come to Saudi Arabia. Between October 2004 and January 2005, some of them slipped off from pilgrimages, sometimes for up to three weeks, the report quoted German security expert Udo Ulfkotte as saying.
According to Western security services, the magazine added, Saudi scientists have been working since the mid-1990s in Pakistan, a nuclear power since 1998. Cicero, which will appear on newstands tomorrow, also quoted a US military analyst, John Pike, as saying that Saudi bar codes can be found on half of Pakistan's nuclear weapons 'because it is Saudi Arabia which ultimately co-financed the Pakistani atomic nuclear program.'
Unfortunately, for all our talk of the unacceptability of Middle Eastern proliferation, there's not much we can realistically do about it, unless we're willing to go into permanent invade-and-occupy mode (and we're not really having an easy go of it in the two countries we've already invaded). When Israel went nuclear, the nuclearization of other regional players became a matter of when, not if, just as with India and Pakistan. I'm afraid the important question is not how do we prevent nuclear proliferation in the region, but how are we going to handle a nuclear Middle East?
The first pictures arrive from tonight's Unfogged meetup.
By independently coming up with the same idea I had about rewarding undocumented immigrants with green cards for turning in the employers who hire them. If I thought there was any chance that Kleiman had read my post, I'd be feeling all influential about now.
Since I've had a couple people email to ask, the New York City Unfogged meetup is indeed tonight at O'Reilly's Townhouse at 21 W. 35th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues starting around 6. Closest subways are the 34th Street B/D/F/Q/W/V/N/R station, the 33rd Street 6 station, and the 1/2/3 lines at Penn Station.
Everyone's already talking about this, but I wanted to highlight something about Hewitt's pretense of valor. Read the transcript of Hewitt's conversation with Michael Ware. There's this interesting discussion of how Ware came close to having his head sawed off:
By the same token, trying to film them secretly in Baghdad, I was kidnapped by them, dragged out of my car, and a group of Syrian fighters for Zarqawi were preparing to execute me on the street here in Baghdad. So I've been with Zarqawi's people in a number of different forms....And eventually, the al Qaeda Syrians decided it wasn't worth it, and through very gritted teeth, after having said a Westerner comes in here and you expect us to let him leave alive, they finally relented and set me free. It was not a pleasant experience.
Then, some time after this discussion-- that is, after we've been made aware of the fact that Ware's been in some serious shit-- he says
I mean, you're sitting back in a comfortable radio studio, far from the realities of this war.
and Hugh responds, hilariously, with this:
I'm sitting in the Empire State Building. Michael, I'm sitting in the Empire State Building, which has been in the past, and could be again, a target. Because in downtown Manhattan, it's not comfortable, although it's a lot safer than where you are, people always are three miles away from where the jihadis last spoke in America. So that's...civilians have a stake in this. Although you are on the front line, this was the front line four and a half years ago.
Ok. I just wanted to note the larger context. Nothing more to say, really.
This is a little old. Also, it's probably going to wind up spawning a philosophy thread I can't fully participate in. But nevertheless it's a fun question: what's the most absurd thing you believe?
Via Yggi. Like him, I believe there's no objective morality, but unlike him, I don't believe that science doesn't provide us with access to objective knowledge about the external world.
It's difficult, sometimes, to remember that we invaded Iraq to bring the Iraqi people democracy, when we still appear to want to exercise the traditional right of the occupying power to install a government of our choice. (Via Gary, in the ObWi comments.)
Times like these make me return to the classics:
For might makes right
And 'til they've seen the light
They've got to be protected
All their rights respected
Till somebody we like can be elected
Now click on over to metafilter and see who posted the video.
A little fairy writes in with news of Sharon Stone's exploits in teen sex ed:
Actress SHARON STONE is adamant teenagers should be prepared to engage in oral sex, if it saves from them the dangers of unprotected penetrative sex. The BASIC INSTINCT spends much of her time away from Hollywood working as an activist raising AIDS awareness, and she always carries condoms with her to hand out in a bid to increase safe sex levels. She explains, "I was in the store the other day and I watched a young girl trying on clothes, showing her abdomen. "Her mother was trying to talk to her about not being inappropriately luring. I said, 'Gee that would look much nicer with a camisole under.' "Her mother walked away, and I said to the girl, 'I'd like to give you a two-minute conversation about sex.' "Young people talk to me about what to do if they're being pressed for sex? I tell them (what I believe): oral sex is a hundred times safer than vaginal or anal sex. "If you're in a situation where you cannot get out of sex, offer a blow job. I'm not embarrassed to tell them."
You may have all seen this already, but I just wanted to note this paragraph from yesterday's Times story about the memo detailing the prewar Bush-Blair meeting:
The memo also shows that the president and the prime minister acknowledged that no unconventional weapons had been found inside Iraq. Faced with the possibility of not finding any before the planned invasion, Mr. Bush talked about several ways to provoke a confrontation, including a proposal to paint a United States surveillance plane in the colors of the United Nations in hopes of drawing fire, or assassinating Mr. Hussein.
You know how you can make the bus come faster if you light a cigarette? You can also make your period come early if you wear white jeans with a nude thong. Word to the wise in case you have a pregnancy scare or something.
I've been dealing with human resources for a while trying to hire someone where I work and I hate to say it, but it's true – the women we interview consistently ask for less than the men. These women aren't slouches, either – they're all very capable and good at what they do. I don't know what the deal is, whether women don't think it's "polite" to ask for a higher salary, whether they just don't know what they're really worth, or whether the men actually have an overinflated sense of their value but just happen to get the higher salaries because they're brazen enough to ask.
The Guardian: "It is hard to express the shock delivered five minutes and 18 seconds into Ringleader of the Tormentors by the sudden appearance of Morrissey's testicles. [...] And indeed, Morrissey's testicles are no normal testicles. Judging by the metaphor here, they are massively distended, swollen - presumably by decades of loudly trumpeted celibacy - until they resemble 'explosive kegs between my legs'."
I've never understood Morrissey's appeal (except to similarly overwrought teenagers), though I could see tolerating him in the Smiths to hear Johnny Marr's guitar work. However, if he's going to sing about his pendulous giggleberries, I may have to revisit the question.
I read the "Marriage is for White People" op-ed in the Washington Post this weekend just a few hours after confessing to Graham a fantasy I sometimes have: that rather than marry, someday Clementine and I could make a life commitment to live together and raise a child. We would each still have romantic relationships, of course, even serious ones, but the commitment we made for the purpose of home making and childrearing would be to each other. We even talked about it once, although each of us was acknowledging it as fantasy when we did, but we thought we'd have complementary qualities that would work well in child rearing, and little Clementine or Tia Jr. would get important things from each of us. In other ways, I could see problems arising: she is furiously domestic and has a lot of natural energy for housecleaning, and she'd probably wind up doing more of it and rightfully resenting me. But aside from our particular compatibility, I sometimes can't help but feel that this arrangement makes more sense than the one I guess I'll be looking for in a few years: hitching together sex and domesticity and childrearing. I think I can say with much greater confidence that Clementine and I could manage to live together our whole lives than I can say that I'll never divorce the future Mr. Tia, or that there won't be infidelities in our marriage. Living with a friend would afford us more sexual freedom, while still providing the stability and comfort of a committed domestic arrangement. But I've never brought it up to her seriously outside of that one previous conversation; it doesn't make sense until we're actually ready to make choices like this, and besides, I suspect we'd both be too conventional at heart. I wonder, though, if investment in the marriage model is blinding people to other arrangements that might work better.
Harvard sociologist Orlando Patterson has an op-ed in the Times today about the recent spate of studies showing bad social outcomes for black men: high incarceration rates, failure to complete high school, incredibly high unemployment. In a shocking break with the conventional wisdom*, Patterson blames this on their culture, rather than structural factors: in his reading, young black men fall into what he calls a "Dionysian trap," overvaluing partying, shopping, and so forth:
Young white Americans are very much into these things, but selectively; they know when it is time to turn off Fifty Cent and get out the SAT prep book.
For young black men, however, that culture is all there is — or so they think. Sadly, their complete engagement in this part of the American cultural mainstream, which they created and which feeds their pride and self-respect, is a major factor in their disconnection from the socioeconomic mainstream.
There is something weird about a cultural explanation for how badly black men do in our society that stipulates that white men share the same culture, but don't share the ill-effects. And that doesn't explain how black women aren't damaged to anything like the same degree by the same culture. To be satisfying, an explanation of how social groups differ in outcomes has to depend on a difference in inputs, and there's an obvious candidate here: incarceration.
Women, for a variety of reasons, are vastly less likely to be incarcerated than men are; black women are far more integrated into what Patterson calls mainstream society than black men are. White men are vastly less likely to be incarcerated than black men are, and at least anecdotally, this is not simply explained by a difference in primary criminal conduct (that is, I know of a lot of drug ‘crimes' among my mostly-white social circle, including some fairly large-scale commercial dealing in college. No one I knew ever came close to an interaction with police, much less incarceration).
Discussions of social pathology all seem to me to wildly under-account for the effects of incarceration: it interrupts the educational process; shuts off job opportunities; the horrific conditions in prisons do psychological and emotional damage to those incarcerated; they provide ‘vocational training' in further criminality; and build social connections among the incarcerated which continue on the outside, leading to further criminal behavior. Pretty much, once someone has had a serious encounter with the criminal justice system, the odds of their recovering to lead a life as an employed, productive, tax-payer drop like a rock. And for young black men, the odds of their having a serious encounter with the criminal justice system are incredibly high.
If I could try one social experiment, it would be the following – take a state, or even a big city, and do everything possible to keep young black men out of jail. Take non-violent drug crimes off the books; stop arrests for possession and sales. Set up supportive programs for teens who get in trouble – make sure that at least the first time a kid breaks the law, he ends up with support and help, not a record. Wherever possible, wipe criminal records, and hand out sentences other than jail time. Extend the face of the criminal justice system that a upper middle class kid with a good lawyer and an influential family sees when he gets in trouble to everyone else. I'm not saying this would fix everything, but I'd really like to see it tried.
*Sarcasm. The cultural explanation may be right, but it's hardly daring these days -- hasn't it been the conventional wisdom since Moynihan?
Does anyone have an opinion as to whether the immigration bill that passed the House and is currently being debated by the Senate will really do what Roger Mahoney says it will? That is:
As written, the proposed law is so broad that it would criminalize even minor acts of mercy like offering a meal or administering first aid.
Current law does not require social service agencies to obtain evidence of legal status before rendering aid, nor should it. Denying aid to a fellow human being violates a law with a higher authority than Congress -- the law of God.
It is certainly not in keeping with my understanding of the Scripture because this bill would literally criminalize the Good Samaritan and probably even Jesus himself. We need to sound the alarm about what is being done in the Congress.
I'm pretty sure the relevant passage in the bill is this:
(1) PROHIBITED ACTIVITIES- Whoever--
(A) assists, encourages, directs, or induces a person to come to or enter the United States, or to attempt to come to or enter the United States, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such person is an alien who lacks lawful authority to come to or enter the United States;
(B) assists, encourages, directs, or induces a person to come to or enter the United States at a place other than a designated port of entry or place other than as designated by the Secretary of Homeland Security, regardless of whether such person has official permission or lawful authority to be in the United States, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such person is an alien;
(C) assists, encourages, directs, or induces a person to reside in or remain in the United States, or to attempt to reside in or remain in the United States, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such person is an alien who lacks lawful authority to reside in or remain in the United States;
(D) transports or moves a person in the United States, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such person is an alien who lacks lawful authority to enter or be in the United States, where the transportation or movement will aid or further in any manner the person's illegal entry into or illegal presence in the United States;
(E) harbors, conceals, or shields from detection a person in the United States knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such person is an alien who lacks lawful authority to be in the United States;
(F) transports, moves, harbors, conceals, or shields from detection a person outside of the United States knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such person is an alien in unlawful transit from one country to another or on the high seas, under circumstances in which the person is in fact seeking to enter the United States without official permission or lawful authority; or
(G) conspires or attempts to commit any of the preceding acts
But I don't know enough about how bills are written or interpreted to know whether Mahoney's right. It's not immediately obvious to me that he is. That's not to say that I think the bill would be a good idea in either case, but if it's really going to criminalize, on a federal level, administering first aid, that's pretty barbaric. Not more barbaric than what your typical California voter is capable of, but barbaric, still.
LaShawn Barber :"A giant step toward civilized society for Islam."
Dean Esmay is also pleased.
On one hand, this is good news in an obvious and simple way: one fewer person will be put to death because of his religious beliefs. On the other, it's good news that's more limited than you might hope, since the law itself is unchanged. Apparently the courts are reconsidering based on
angry bloggers "a lack of evidence," as if executing Rahman would be all right if we knew for sure that he'd renounced Islam. This is a good result in a single case, and I'm glad to hear it, but it isn't any kind of principled recognition of religious freedom. Odds of this coming up again drift toward 1.
An Afghan court on Sunday dismissed a case against a man who converted from Islam to Christianity because of a lack of evidence and he will be released soon, officials said.
The announcement came as U.S.-backed President Hamid Karzai faced mounting foreign pressure to free Abdul Rahman, a move that risked angering Muslim clerics here who have called for him to be killed.
An official closely involved with the case told The Associated Press that it had been returned to the prosecutors for more investigation, but that in the meantime, Rahman would be released.
"The court dismissed today the case against Abdul Rahman for a lack of information and a lot of legal gaps in the case," the official said Sunday, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
"The decision about his release will be taken possibly tomorrow," the official added. "They don't have to keep him in jail while the attorney general is looking into the case."
Abdul Wakil Omeri, a spokesman for the Supreme Court, confirmed that the case had been dismissed because of "problems with the prosecutors' evidence."
He said several of Rahman's family members have testified that the 41-year-old has mental problems. "It is the job of the attorney general's office to decide if he is mentally fit to stand trial," he told AP.
This is a joke.
This, apparently, is not.
(Neither link is safe for work, but the first might be okay since the NSFW image is very small. The second link might not even be safe for home, since it's a porn movie. No, it's a clothing catalogue. It's two, two...)
It's even on the busses over there!
This is pretty inspiring. After an effort spearheaded by Jimmy Carter, Africa is on its way to eliminating Guinea worms:
yardlong, spaghetti-thin worms erupted from the legs or feet — or even eye sockets — of victims, forcing their way out by exuding acid under the skin until it bubbled and burst. The searing pain drove them to plunge the blisters into the nearest pool of water, whereupon the worm would squirt out a milky cloud of larvae, starting the cycle anew.
The whole article is interesting. I liked this passage about the resistance from the villagers to treating some of the drinking ponds that villagers regarded as sacred:
After Mr. Ogebe found the pond, he said, villagers tried to dissuade him from treating it. "Some of them offered me money to hide it," he said. "But I told my boss at the Carter Center. Then, each time I went to the village, people followed me around. There were threats on our lives."
On the day of his visit to Ogi, he was greeted politely beneath the village's central tree and was personally invited to pour the Abate into the pond. But when he and the other dignitaries walked the several hundred yards through tall grass to it, they found many of the village's women forming a human wall around it.
"They had colors rubbed on their faces to show resistance," like Indian war paint, Mr. Ogebe said. "They were chanting songs of their refusal."
It's funny, part of me instinctively wants to be on the side of village women standing up to intruders, but in this case, it's good to be an imperialist.