Archive | May 2014

Moving on before having moved on

The CIA is no longer going to use vaccination programs as cover for operations, so they say.  However, the statement from Aziz Memon amused me for the irony of how he describes the situation and made me start thinking about how people (meaning me, but probably other people too) move on with their lives after some outrage but will respond anew when reminded.  Without satisfactory closure what else can one do though?  Obsess.  Some people do that, but I don’t think it is usual.  But why does the reminder derail us if we’ve for all practical purposes moved on?  Psychologically I don’t think it is hard to understand.  Emotions are good at building strong neural connections.  Trigger the memory, trigger the emotion.  This also works for positive memories.  But why?  I can understand why building memories more strongly around emotion could help us with danger avoidance, but what about the other situations?  Or are those other situations just a side effect of the usefulness from danger avoidance?

Playing with fire(arms)

An 11 year old was shot in the head by an uncle. This type of “accident” is inexcusable. Guns are tools of death and destruction. That’s not a bad thing. That they are treated as toys instead is a bad thing. That they are treated as magical talismans of protection and virility is a bad thing.
I’m not an advocate of complete banning of guns, though at this point I can’t muster any objection. I have a very “this is why we can’t have nice things” mentality. Reasonable regulation might drastically reduce the irresponsibility and damage from people using guns. However, with the current culture around guns I suspect that even if such laws were passed, they wouldn’t be enforceable. Of course an out right ban is even less feasible. Another problem that won’t be solved because those that could solve it have no interest in doing so because they think they are immune from it or even profit from it.

MERS in the US

According to NPR.  If I heard correctly it is a man that returned from Saudi that is infected.  I bet he’s not liking the attention he’s getting at the moment.

The Optional Death

The death penalty has been running into a lot of trouble in the US. Latest is that Oklahoma tortured a person to death. The history about why states can’t get the traditional drugs to kill people and what they are currently trying is interesting in a dark and twisted sort of way. But why do we need to be killing criminals anyways? Criminal punishment can serve multiple purposes: collective revenge, rehabilitation, restitution and deterrence (both of would-be criminals and for recidivism).
Killing a criminal certainly satisfies revenge and the deterrence of recidivism. Definitely not rehab. or restitution. Whether it effectively deters would-be criminals is up for debate, but there is no reason to think it any more a deterrent than life imprisonment. The death penalty and life imprisonment are also on equal footing for deterring recidivism, at least in theory. Which is better for satisfying revenge is also debatable and I’d guess largely depends on how much you value freedom vs life.
I personally come down against the death penalty, at least as it is generally handled. I can understand the desire for revenge for those that were effected by the criminal, but quite often those people are not the ones advocating for killing. For me, killing as a collective revenge doesn’t make much sense, especially when life imprisonment is the alternative. While prison escapes do happen, and the escapees do sometimes kill before being re-captured or killed themselves, these are not frequent events. Escapes are also a problem that can be fixed independently. Then there is the problem of executing innocent people. Finally, for me, killing someone does not allow for rehabilitation and restitution. So what do I think we should do?
I’m in favor of giving criminals receiving life sentences the option of choosing death. I’d even suggest that they could choose the method of their death within reason. OD on cocain, sure. Flying leap off a cliff into the Grand Canyon, well, probably not not? This would prevent the killing of someone who is innocent (unless they just wanted to be killed). It would be cheaper and more humane. It would allow those who do regret what they’ve done to try to do something to re-pay society and the victims. If this were combined with a reworking of our justice system to actually serve for the rehabilitation of criminals instead of profit for prison companies it would work even better.