[links] Link salad for an achey Wednesday

What grocery stores can teach us about linguistics — Mmm, taxonomy and language.

The Best Response to Grammar Nazis, EverStephen Fry nails it. (Via [info]danjite.)

Lego Goes to Hollywood

Citizens seek cancer cure with “Genes in Space” smartphone game — (Via Dad.)

Most cancers in our world pandemic are preventable — here’s how

Remembrance or revision? Brain study shows memory misleads

Ethics Questions Arise as Genetic Testing of Embryos Increases

Habitability Around Ancient Stars

Cryptography Breakthrough Could Make Software Unhackable — I’m not sure I believe in “unhackable” as a concept, but this is interesting. (Via David Goldman.)

The Female Orgasm—Illustrated — Hahahah. Also: NSFW, in case that wasn’t obvious already.

Courtesy Stigma and the Consequences of Deviance — This is fascinating, and something with which I am familiar in real life.

Talking past each other: Bill Nye vs. creationist Ken Ham on evolutionArs reports on the debate over whether creation is viable as science. I really, really hate the fact that this Creationist tripe is even dignified with a debate, instead of laughed off the stage as it should be. You can believe anything you want about God and the universe, but to mistake your private faith for empirical truth is a grave intellectual and spiritual error.

U.N. Panel Assails Vatican Over Sex Abuse by PriestsA United Nations panel sharply criticized the Vatican on Wednesday for putting the reputation and interests of the Holy See above the interests of children who had been sexually abused by priests, effectively allowing priests to continue abuse and escape prosecution. In a series of hard-hitting observations, the Committee on the Rights of the Child said that “the Holy See has not acknowledged the extent of the crimes committed, has not taken the necessary measures to address cases of child sexual abuse and to protect children, and has adopted policies and practices which have led to the continuation of the abuse by and the impunity of the perpetrators.” Yeah, I can feel that moral authority from all the way over here.

California man points gun at Girl Scout at his door to sell cookies — Under the Stand Your Ground laws so beloved of conservatives, there is no test of reasonableness. Only the shooter’s own word that they felt threatened. If the victim is dead, that’s it. Who’s to say otherwise? This means that any person with a firearm in a “Stand Your Ground” state has the legal power of summary execution over any human being they encounter. Yup. Guns definitely make us all safer.

O’Reilly Tells Obama He Didn’t Need Student Loans: ‘That’s Who I Am’ — This is a common conservative meme. But when O’Reilly was young, college was much cheaper in both absolute and relative terms. Four decades of very deliberate conservative chipping away at higher education funding has made it impossible to work your way through college painting houses.

Broken Democracy: Republicans poised to take Senate, Americans Reject their PlatformThe Republican majority in the House of Representatives can already block most legislation, and in 2013 it dedicated itself the the proposition that the country must be punished for re-electing Barack Obama, by being denied virtually any new needed legislation at all.

Delusions of FailureThe truth is that the campaign against Obamacare relies on misleading stories at best, and often on outright deceit. Who pays the price for this deceit? In many cases, American families.

Arksansas Republicans hope to dump 85,000 out of Medicaid They’ll cut 85,000 people out of health care to spite President Obama.

?otD: Relax. I’ll need some information first. Just the basic facts. Can you show me where it hurts?


2/5/2014
Writing time yesterday: 0.0 hours (chemo brain)
Hours slept: 8.5 hours (solid)
Body movement: n/a (post-operative)
Weight: n/a (traveling)
Number of FEMA troops on my block inventing polar vortices: 0
Currently reading: n/a

9 thoughts on “[links] Link salad for an achey Wednesday

  1. Liz Coleman says:

    I’ve been reading a lot about memory lately, thanks to grad school. It really looks like memories aren’t really stored like photos in a vault, but are rather recreated every time they’re recalled. And every time we recall something, it changes slightly.

    1. M.A. says:

      I found a 40-year-old journal of mine at the bottom of a drawer last week — yup, not much the way I remember those years…but then how much reality editing was going on even as I was writing it down?

  2. > Under the Stand Your Ground laws so beloved of conservatives, there
    > is no test of reasonableness. Only the shooter’s own word that they
    > felt threatened.

    That’s just false. Provably so. Someone who claims to be part of a “reality-based community” should not make wild claims with no basis in fact.

    Alabama’s Stand Your Ground law is:
    “A person who is justified under subsection (a) in using physical force, including deadly physical force, and who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and is in any place where he or she has the right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground.”
    The subsection (a) it refers to says: “A person is justified in using physical force upon another person in order to defend himself or herself or a third person from what he or she reasonably believes to be the use or imminent use of unlawful physical force by that other person, and he or she may use a degree of force which he or she reasonably believes to be necessary for the purpose. …” http://law.onecle.com/alabama/criminal-code/13A-3-23.html

    Alaska’s Stand Your Ground law refers back to a section that only allows deadly force “…when and to the extent the person reasonably believes the use of deadly force is necessary for self-defense against…” http://www.legis.state.ak.us/basis/statutes.asp#11.81.330

    Arizona’s Stand Your Ground law refers back to a section that says “..if and to the extent the person reasonably believes that physical force or deadly physical force is immediately necessary…” http://www.azleg.gov/FormatDocument.asp?inDoc=/ars/13/00411.htm&Title=13&DocType=ARS

    And that’s just the first three states alphabetically that have Stand Your Ground laws. I could go on, but I don’t have time.

    I would be very surprised if there was a state Stand Your Ground law that did not incorporate a reasonableness standard. That’s because the standard self-defense claim involves a reasonableness standard. Stand Your Ground laws generally do not stand alone; they are an appendage to self-defense laws. All they do is make clear that if you are lawfully in a place, you have no duty to retreat rather than defend yourself. That does not remove the reasonableness standard already existing in the self-defense law.

    1. Jay says:

      Thank you. I’m certainly not going to argue statute with an attorney.

      Can you help me understand two things I’ve seen a lot of in reporting on Stand Your Ground laws and how they’re applied in actual court cases?

      1) Insofar as I can tell, Stand Your Ground laws remove the so-called “duty to retreat”. This results in claims of self-defense in situations where someone claims to feel threatened, exits the situation entirely, returns later with a firearm, and then eventually shoots, claiming self-defense. How can it be self-defense if the shooter has deliberately returned, armed, at a later time to the point of alleged threat? Or stalked the victim, then claiming self-defense in the resulting confrontation?

      2) Even the cites you quote don’t undermine my assertion that the test of reasonableness is gone. If the shooter is alive and the victim is dead, then “the personal reasonably believes that physical force or deadly physical force is immediately necessary” comes down to the shooter’s word. Logically, someone’s state of mind at a given time is ultimately unknowable. Logically, in a slightly different sense of the word, what other possible claim could a shooter make? That’s no test of reasonableness except what seemed reasonable to the shooter at the time of the incident. If the victim is unavailable to testify on account of being dead, unless there are other witnesses, that can’t be countered in any way.

      1. > How can it be self-defense if the shooter has
        > deliberately returned, armed, at a later time to the point
        > of alleged threat?

        That actually has nothing to do with Stand Your Ground laws — it’s just a question about self-defense laws in general. Allow me to use a hypothetical to illustrate why. For the purposes of this hypothetical, we will assume that when Adam feels threatened, a reasonable person could have believed his life was in danger. (We’ll deal with the concept of reasonableness later.)

        Adam and Bob are both at a local bar. Both are unarmed. Bob physically confronts Adam because Adam has bought a drink for Bob’s ex-girlfriend. Bob pulls a hunting knife and says, “You’d better leave. And if I ever see you in here again, I’ll kill you.”

        At this point, Adam feels his life is threatened with immediate harm. Adam leaves the bar.

        A few minutes later, Adam decides to go back to the bar. It’s his favorite bar, after all, and he has a perfect right to be there. But it’s possible Bob could still be there, so Adam arms himself with a gun.

        Adam goes to the bar, sits on his favorite bar-stool, and orders a drink.

        Bob sees Adam and shouts, “I told you never to come back here! I’m gonna cut you up good.” Bob pulls out his hunting knife.

        At this point, Adam feels his life is threatened with immediate harm.

        Adam looks toward the door. And here we have our hypothetical split into two branches.

        In Branch 1, Adam sees a clear path to the door and knows he could run away safely.

        In Branch 2, Adam sees that someone has moved some stacks of chairs between him and the door, so he can’t escape.

        The two branches converge again as Adam stands up, faces Bob, and says, “I have every right to be here.”

        Bob charges toward him with the knife. Adam pulls his gun and shoots Bob, who drops down dead.

        Adam is arrested and goes on trial for killing Bob. He claims the killing was self-defense.

        In a duty to retreat state, Branch 1 and Branch 2 are treated differently. In Branch 1, his claim of self-defense should fail because he could have retreated safely. In Branch 2, his claim might succeed, or it might fail if the jury thinks he deliberately armed himself and went back intending to continue the altercation.

        In a Stand Your Ground state, Branch 1 and Branch 2 are not treated differently, because Adam did not have the duty to retreat. However, both branches are subject to the same self-defense analysis as Branch 2 of the duty to retreat state, so his claim might still fail.

        So the question of what happens when someone leaves and then comes back with a weapon is decided by the general law of self-defense, not Stand Your Ground. Similarly, if a stalks a victim, then claims self-defense, it’s not Stand Your Ground laws that matter, but rather whether the stalking was sufficient provocation that the person cannot claim self-defense after provoking the confrontation. After all, the confrontation could happen in a place where the stalker cannot safely retreat, in which case the self-defense analysis is exactly the same.

        > Even the cites you quote don’t undermine my assertion
        > that the test of reasonableness is gone. If the shooter
        > is alive and the victim is dead, then “the personal
        > reasonably believes that physical force or deadly
        > physical force is immediately necessary” comes down
        > to the shooter’s word. … If the victim is
        > unavailable to testify on account of being dead, unless
        > there are other witnesses, that can’t be countered in
        > any way.

        It does so just the same in cases of self-defense where the shooter did not have a safe retreat. So this argument, as well, is about the general law of self-defense, not Stand Your Ground in particular.

        > Logically, someone’s state of mind at a given time is
        > ultimately unknowable. Logically, in a slightly different
        > sense of the word, what other possible claim could a
        > shooter make? That’s no test of
        > reasonableness except what seemed reasonable to the
        > shooter at the time of the incident.

        The reasonableness standard is not whatever seemed reasonable to the shooter at the time. It is what a reasonable person in the shooter’s position could reasonably have believed. It’s supposed to be an objective standard, not a subjective one. In other words, if the shooter really did fear for his life, but a reasonable person in that situation would not have done so, then the self-defense claim will fail. So, for example, the jury can look at a big burly man who had a gun and conclude that he did not have a reasonable fear of imminent harm from the Girl Scout who has a box of cookies. Now, if it were possible for us to look into the man’s mind, we might find that he really was afraid, but that’s not enough to sustain a self-defense claim.

        1. In the course of rewriting the hypothetical, I accidentally left in a phrase that shouldn’t be there any more: “Both are unarmed.”

        2. Jay says:

          Thank you. I need to think on this a while. I really appreciate your taking the time to lay it out.

          1. The main reason I continue to engage in arguing political issues with you is that I believe in your intellectual honesty enough that I don’t feel like I’m wasting my time in trying to explain why you might be mistaken.

            Just to be clear, I’m not saying Stand Your Ground laws are all sunshine and roses. The duty to retreat doctrine arose from the idea that, because homicide is such an irretrievable measure, deadly force should only be allowed when there is no other reasonable option. Eliminating the duty to retreat lowers the bar on when deadly force can be used, and thus it may increase the number of homicides.

            1. Jay says:

              The main reason I continue to engage in arguing political issues with you is that I believe in your intellectual honesty enough that I don’t feel like I’m wasting my time in trying to explain why you might be mistaken.

              I feel much the same about you. Plus I like you.

Comments are closed.