Rear Window Ethics Rear Window Ethics: May 2005

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

A Modern Leopold and Loeb?

HOLLY HILL, Florida (AP) -- Two Florida teenagers found a homeless man in the woods and beat and kicked him to death "to have something to do," according to Volusia County sheriff's investigators.

Christopher Scamahorn, 14, and Jeffery Spurgeon, 18, confessed to beating the 53-year-old victim with their fists and sticks and kicking him, sheriff's spokesman Brandon Haught said Sunday.

The pair were charged with murder Sunday. Spurgeon was being held without bail in Daytona Beach. Scamahorn taken to a juvenile jail.

The teens said they attacked the man "for fun" and "to have something to do," Haught said. They went back to the woods three times after the initial attack to beat the man again, he said.
This is disgusting.Worse than Leopold and Loeb. At least L&L were egomaniacal crazies who had some sort of strange motive (no matter how hideous) for their crime. These kids just beat and killed a man because they were bored? For Gods sake, couldn't they have just read HUSTLER, or made prank phone calls, or even thrown rocks at tin cans in their back yard? A fucking XBox is only a few hundred dollars...

Any bets on how long it'll take Law & Order to air an episode "loosely" based on this case?

Story.Spurgeon Leopold-Loeb

The facial expressions of Jeffery Spurgeon (top) and Nathan Leopold (bottom left) are eerily similar, though...

CNN: Teens accused of killing homeless man 'for fun'.


Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Nikka Costa

One of the better artists you have heard but probably don't know of that well. The songs from her first album were all over the place in commercials, movies and TV shows, and they were used for a reason -- they're catchy as hell.

Her music is a mix of Prince-like funk and Lenny Kravitz rock, with a poppy icing on the top. She was Joss Stone before Joss Stone existed. do yourself a favor and check her out, and then I dare you to tell me you don't bop your head while listening.

iTunes store links below:

Her debut album Everybody Got Their Something


Her sophomore album Can'tneverdidnothin'


May Nor'Eaaster

Ah, Boston in May. Sun, warmth without being too hot, people start breaking out the shorts and staying outside in the late evening to throw the ball around or perhaps BBQ...

Except this year.


No, this year May has been rainy every single weekend. Currently there is a nor'easter sluggishly blowing wind and rain all over Boston. A Nor-freaking-EASTER! It's May! Yesterday the temperature fell to 42 degrees. The temperature in Fairbanks, Alaska was 64 degrees yesterday.

I haven't gone outside in two days, which is one of the small benefits of working from home. It's just too nasty out there.

CNN: Nor'Easter


Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Train pt. 2

So that's what happened on the way down. This is what happened on the way back:

The train was relatively full for a Monday, so I was forced to sit next to someone rather than lucking out with an empty set of seats.

After sitting for about 45 minutes -- somewhat uncomfortably behind a german man who had his seat back all the way -- I noticed this woman about five rows up who seemed to be stretching her arms up in the air while wearing those black gloves with the little grip spots on them.

Strange, but nothing that odd.

Across the aisle from me is a college-aged girl with a very revealing shirt, a very fake tan, and a very large tattoo on her back. She's on the phone with various people, and no matter who she talks to the conversation goes like so:

Girl: (question) [is there any food at home? can you pick me up? how much did you drink? etc.]
response on the phone

Repeat about 12 times.

Then, the woman with the gloves starts coming back towards me and asks me if she can use my phone for a minute just to activate her cell phone since she forgot to before she left. I say sure, and give it to her.

As she walks back to her seat, the woman next to me (who had been silent so far) says that this gloved woman is really strange, that she freaked out when she got on the train before I did, that she screamed and threw things, and that she's been giving people the finger during the ride.

Great. So I had just given my phone to a crazy woman.

I figure I'd let her use it for a little while, and then check in on her to get it back. After about 10 minutes she looks back to me and says the signal cut out, so she'll have to try again. Fine. 15 minutes after that I walk up the train to get the phone back and she's talking quite angrily with someone who I assume is customer service. She gives the phone back and thanks me.

When I get back to my seat I check the call logs, and see... That this woman didn't call a single 800 number, but in fact called about seven people in my phone book for a few minutes at a time. What the fuck!?

So if my phone called you and some crazy woman swore at you or something, I'm sorry, people.

Then for the rest of the trip she keeps coming back asking to use it again, and I tell her it's out of batteries because God knows what kind of fit she'll throw if I just say no. Then I notice she has latex gloves on UNDERNEATH her grippy gloves, and that she is walking around slyly giving people the finger, and staring at them with a weird look on her face.

When my train pulls into Boston, she is nowhere to be seen, and the woman behind me starts laughing with me about the whole situation. We're walking down the aisle of the car talking about it, and then, just like in a horror movie, the crazy woman appears behind the door between cars and stares at us, blocking our way out.

We quickly wipe the smiles from our faces and awkwardly walk around her while her staring eyes follow us. And as we walk away down the gangway, I turn to see that she's giving us the finger.


Monday, May 23, 2005

Train pt. 1

I took the train down to the Have for the weekend. The train is usually very relaxed, people are relatively quiet, and it's an all-around unsurprising experience. Not so this weekend.

On the way down, I was sitting in a packed train across the aisle from two girls about 25 who were talking on their phones. Now, many people talk on their phones in the train, but most don't use their Nextel walkie talkies with the loud ass beeps and speakers. These girls did. They talked to everyone they knew the whole ride down on these loud motherfuckers.

One girl was pregnant, it turned out, and she complained about how she was gaining weight. The other had had a baby a few years before, apparently, and told the other how she never lost all the weight. Bitching ensued. Then the one who had a kid called him on her nextel. From the sound of it he must have been about 8 or 9. She proceeded to tell him that she was going away on the train to do something very important, and that he should make sure to eat some dinner and play video games and watch tv all night long. It seemed like he was home alone.

After he hung up, she immediately told her pregnant friend, "I can't wait to get to New York and get me those new red Jordans!". Important, indeed.

The one who was pregnant then called her friend in New York, some guy who I couldn't understand because the walkie talkie was all fucked up. She asked him if he was single, and if he or his friend wanted to hook up with her girl. And these girls were surprised that they'd gotten pregnant and were gaining weight. Then the guy starts playing music from a stereo THROUGH THE WALKIE TALKIE for minutes at a time. Fucking ridiculous.

One woman asks them to turn down their phones and they immediately turn to me and ask if I think they are too loud. I say yes. Then they suck their teeth and hiss, "whatever."

These two girls go to the cafe car. Minutes later another girl comes storming into the car, screaming into her cell phone. "Fuck you! Fuck you, i'll sue your ass, bitch!" she yelled. She saw the empty seats that the girls had left, threw her large pink duffel bag onto them, and stormed out of the train car.

You can see where I'm going with this...

Yes, the girls come back and freak out about the bag. Yes, the third girl comes back, sees her bag is now up in the bag rack, and flips her shit. Bitching ensues once again, but on an entirely larger scale. Once that fight is over, the third girl gets on her phone and yells at someone about how this train is "shit" and there is no first class car, and that she's never "fucking taking the train" ever again.

Stay tuned for the story about what happened on the ride back...

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Preggers Grad Walks

A pregnant student who was banned from her graduation called out her own name and walked across the stage at the close of the ceremony.
Alysha Cosby’s decision prompted cheers and applause Tuesday from many of her fellow seniors at St. Jude Educational Institute.

But her mother and aunt were escorted out of the church by police after Cosby headed back to her seat.
Good for her! Not that I think it's good for people to get pregnant at that age, but if she fulfilled the requirements of graduation, why shouldn't she be allowed to walk with the rest of her classmates (including the baby's father!)?

When I graduated high school, a girl in our class who had a baby sewed a little cap and gown and the child wore it as she carried him across the stage to accept her diploma. Some people had a problem with it, for various reasons, but I thought that if she could complete the requirements while raising a child, she should be commended.

Where I grew up, plenty of teenage mothers dropped out altogether, despite the fact that our high school had a daycare center. Shouldn't we recognize student mothers who care enough about their babies' futures to graduate?

AP: Pregnant Grad Defies Ban From Ceremony


Bipartisan Budget Woes

While cable news will surely spend the day fixated on the impending "nuclear option" in the Senate, there was an unnerving (and yet unsurprising) article in today's Washington Post on the growing budget "nightmare."

The conservative Heritage Foundation and the more liberal Brookings Institute sat down jointly yesterday to explain that in less than 40 years, if taxes are not raised and spending is not cut, the United States economy will near collapse as the country will be only capable of paying interest on the growing federal debt.

Meanwhile the White House has been touting the fact that the deficit will shrink in the next year. What both groups that spoke yesterday agree on is the fact that after the few years of possible deficit shrinkage (for lack of a better word), it will skyrocket after that.

What ever happened to worrying about future generations? Didn't leadership in both parties talk about that a lot in the not too distant past? Just a few years later all they seem to be able to do is worry about Terri Schiavo and a handful of judges, while they happen to pass a pork-filled highway bill without anyone noticing.

Washington Post: Almost Unnoticed, Bipartisan Budget Anxiety


Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The Electorate

A week of crazy work, one new hard drive and a few scary moments installing it into my laptop and I'm back.

The Pew Research Center came out with their map of the U.S. electorate this week. Here's how things seem to break up according to the number crunchers:

Social Conservatives
Pro-Government Conservatives

Disadvantaged Democrats
Conservative Democrats


Probably the most notable statistic is that each party has its own hierarchy of wealth. Enterprisers and Liberals at the top, Pro-Gov. Cons and Disadvantaged Dems at the other end. The political realignment of the last few years has rendered coalitions in each party that span socioeconomic borders.

Anyway, i just decided that this is boring. I'll post it just because I've written this much, but I think behemoth political parties that advertise to their consumer base and shift with the winds just to retain power do a disservice to America.


Friday, May 06, 2005

Memory of the Camps

Tonight I watched possibly the most powerful film I've ever laid eyes on. It was a rebroadcast of an incomplete film produced by British and American filmmakers – including Alfred Hitchcock – about the atrocities that took place in Nazi concentration camps.

Sixty years ago, in the spring of 1945, Allied forces liberating Europe found evidence of atrocities which have tortured the world's conscience ever since. As the troops entered the German concentration camps, they made a systematic film record of what they saw. Work began in the summer of 1945 on the documentary, but the film was left unfinished. FRONTLINE found it stored in a vault of London's Imperial War Museum and, in 1985, broadcast it for the first time using the title the Imperial War Museum gave it, "Memory of the Camps."
Many people my age have studied this subject. We've watched films on it, read books, and even heard survivors speak to us in person. Still, nothing that I've ever seen or heard prepared me for the impact Memory of the Camps had on me.

In its incomplete state, missing part of the sound track and several pieces of the film, it is a raw documentation of the horrors committed during the second world war. There is nothing slick, and nothing new about it. It is simply biting footage of the dead, the dying, and the living – all taken within hours and days of the liberation of the camps.

Tonight was one of the last broadcasts of the film on PBS' Frontline, but they have it up in its entirety on their website: No matter how difficult it is to watch (and I had to look away more than once) it is worth watching. No story, no picture, no music or film has ever left the impression upon me that this program did.

Few people seek out this kind of experience, and even fewer desire it. I simply happened upon the film as it was being broadcast, and could not make myself turn it off. The images haunt me as I try to go about my evening. I can only imagine how they will do so as I sleep.

Watch this film.


Thursday, May 05, 2005

UK Elections, American Reflections

The Daily Show had a great comparison of US and UK "town hall meetings" last night. So apparently Tony Blair lets people with dissenting views into meetings to discuss their beliefs with him and to voice their criticism. And here I thought town hall meetings were just about reading off of scripts once everyone has been searched and made to sign a loyalty oath...

Crooks and Liars has the Daily Show video here.

Today, as Britain votes, it will be interesting to see the voter turnout numbers. While I would be quite surprised if Labour lost its majority, most experts in the UK think it will win by a much slimmer margin than in the last election.

Voter turnout in the UK dropped from 71% in 1997 to a post-WWII low of 59% in 2001. Of course, the United States had the highest turnout in recent history this past November with 60% of eligible voters going to the polls, the highest percentage since 1968. Between the UK's strangely legitimate debates and town hall meetings and the fact that our turnout high is their turnout low, well I feel a bit frustrated.

Even their campaign ads are better...

Granted, the vast population disparity between the two nations is cause enough for the percentage difference, but can't we do better than 60%? Why is it that our leaders expend so much hot air extolling the virtues of spreading democracy throughout the world when we seem so disenchanted with our own? With our staged, lifeless campaigns where being forthright and honest are considered politically dangerous, it's no wonder people don't care enough to walk a few blocks to their local polling station. With two major parties deciding who we can vote for, then leaving us to choose the most inspiring stuffed shirt available, it's no wonder 40% of eligible Americans don't give a shit.

Oh, but did you hear about Paula Abdul!? Have you listened to the Pat O'Brien recordings!? And Britney's pregnant!!!


Tuesday, May 03, 2005

The Corporation

I finally got around to watching The Corporation, a documentary based on the book by Joel Bakan of the same name. While it was a bit preachy at times, overall the film was a nicely woven exposé of some of the more horrific moments in corporate history (the privatization of water, the IBM/Holocaust connection, Fox News cover-ups and Monsanto biotechnology).

Perhaps the film is a little over the top with its message, a left-slanted, anti-establishment cry that moderates and conservatives often dismiss, but the mountains of information this movie provides keep you thinking long after some of the more paranoid moments are over.

The Corporation IMDB listing
The Corporation