Tag Archives: punishment

The 89 Cent Solution

goldSome refer to sugary soda beverages as “liquid candy.” I say they’re wrong. It’s liquid gold. “There’s gold in them thar self-serve dispensers!”

The history of soda portions is super-sized fun. When introduced by McDonalds in 1955, a cup of soda weighed 7 oz. By 2012, however, a 12-ounce soda was considered “kid’s size.” McDonalds, Wendy’s and Burger King all rolled out 42 ounce size single-serving potions called, respectively: Supersize, Great Biggie, and King Size. Since, then, however, those paltry portions have been dwarfed by the Mega Jug at KFC (64 oz), the Beast at ARCO (85 oz), HuMUGous at Kum & Go (100 oz) and the Team Gulp at 7-Eleven (128 oz).

Are you noticing a trend yet? Your keen scientist brains should already be extrapolating future results. My linear regression line indicates that by 2042 a single-serving size will be approximately the capacity of a backyard swimming pool. I call this the LaGrange Point of Soda Evolution. We’ll have achieved something truly special when we’re actually able to swim in our serving sizes.

The point is: We’re a thirsty lot.

With all this in mind, a construction worker name Christopher Lewis of North Charleston recently was having lunch at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center in Charleston, S.C. He went to the self-serve soda dispenser and got himself a soda refill. And, by doing so, prompted an improbable chain of events that has irrevocably changed the face of law enforcement as we know it. It makes the Twinkie Defense look like child’s play.

Behold the power of liquid candy.
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Hittin’ Run

bp-social-injusticeSadly, binary is not a workable template for real world problems. Most things are just not that simple. They don’t fit neat and tidy in the binary box. Oh, how I wish they would.

Drive drunk? I feel that should be classified as “attempted murder.” Society, as usual, doesn’t agree with me. “No jail time for killing four pedestrians while driving with a BAC three times over the legal limit and not even old enough to drink.” That wee bit of difference of opinion on punishment makes me an outlier, I guess. Of course, that’s an extreme example, yet to my way of thinking, punishment in even garden variety DUII cases falls woefully short.

Cheat on your spouse? That should also be “attempted murder.” It’s all so simple to me. Pick up a deadly disease, bring it to your marital bed, and pay it forward with a potential disease that could theoretically kill the person who trusts you the most. There should be serious punishment for that. Far too often the only real punishment is going back to your regular life like nothing ever happened. Not much of a deterrent, eh?

In brief, my point is that without certain and meaningful consequence there is absolutely no limit on behavior. Period.

I believe a certain percentage of people just don’t give a shit. Perhaps they are motivated by drug addiction. Perhaps they are psychopaths and/or sociopaths and it’s what they do. Maybe they were brought into the world and damaged beyond repair by parents, environment and random events. Whatever the reason, it makes little difference in the end. The outcomes are similar. The themes of destruction and causing harm are remarkably consistent.

We tend to expect it from these folks. No big surprises there.

What about the rest of us? We’re good, right?

Hold on. Let’s not be too hasty.
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Police State

sleeping_policeI ask if you will agree with this humble hypothesis:

Actions without consequence tend to repeat.
–Tom B. Taker

Do you agree or disagree with this statement?

If you stick a fork in an electrical socket and it shocks you, are you likely to do it again? If you touch a hot stove and get burned are you in a hurry to touch it some more?

Tell a dog to stay off the sofa and shoo him away a single time. The rest of the time allow him to lounge all over the bloody thing to his heart’s content. What lesson do you think the dog has learned?

Do you know about the most powerful force in the universe? It’s a child when improperly parented. That particular organism has the potential, in the right circumstances, to learn faster than any form of life we’ve ever encountered. Tell a child, “No, you cannot have the cookie.” Now comes the tricky part: Let the child eat all the cookies it wants. Maybe you’re busy playing Farmville. Maybe you’re composing your next tweet. Maybe, just maybe, you’re sick enough in the head to be doing it on purpose. Whatever. You can bet your life that the message has been received loud and clear. It’s the most instantaneous form of training we’ve ever discovered.

Try to teach them something important and it’s like pounding your head against a wall. But being assholes? That they absorb like sponges.

As I often try to do in my writings, I’m cleverly building to a point. It seems pretty obvious that a lack of consequences does not generally lead to good things. That child? She’s a future Chloe who has a shit fit on national television because her parents bought her a new car for her 16th birthday but it wasn’t an Escalade. She hates them, she does. Poor baby.

Have you accepted the hypothesis yet?

I was thinking about all of this when I violently had one of those aha moments. What if the precocious child in this story was the internet? And what if the role of mommy and daddy was played by the police? What might that look like?

Per usual I’ll begin with a charming anecdote and then slowly build up to the hate. Join me, won’t you? It’ll be fun!
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Juvenile Criminal Thoughts

shotgun

I have no idea if this is a 20 gauge. This is not a blog particularly concerned with the accurate identification of firearms. I do believe, however, it is a shotgun.

This week brought the news that a 12-year-old boy in the 8th grade took a loaded sawed-off 20 gauge pump shotgun to his school and opened fire, seriously wounding an 11-year-old boy (shot in the face) and a 13-year-old girl in the school’s gym.

cold… calculated… premeditated… random…

The New Mexico state police stated that the attack was “planned.” Part of that planning included the shooter issuing warnings to friends, advising them to stay away from school.

The 20-gauge shotgun is a type of smoothbore shotgun shell that is smaller in caliber (.615) than a 12 gauge (.729). It is often used as a beginning shooter’s practice round and is noted by its yellow hull.

A 20-gauge shotgun is sometimes considered more suitable for hunting certain types of game, because it damages less meat, which makes it suitable for most game birds.

Source: Wikipedia – 20-gauge shotgun

The firearm was obtained by the shooter from “family members,” the police said. The shooter’s Facebook page featured a picture of the shooter beside a deer he had killed during a hunting trip.
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Now You’re Cooking: An Airlock Prayer

I'm in the sphincter.

I’m in the sphincter.

Admittedly there is at least one major bummer about being an atheist. It’s a pretty big one, too. Quite simply: I’m deprived of a bunch of gods. Dammit. I guess that comes with the territory. So, in self defense, I learned to pray only to the Great Airlock.

“Oh, Great Airlock, please hear my humble plea.”

“I’m sorry, Tom. I’m afraid I can’t do that.”

It’s easy to see how the Great Airlock could come in handy. Alas, it never quite works out that way. The Airlock is a cruel god. But you still gotta believe, right?

I’ve pontificated about The Great Airlock in the past. In theory, He represents immutable consequences to choice and action. The origin mythology is exceedingly simple: When the button is pushed the door opens. The door cares not what is on the Other Side. The door cares not if the occupant is ready. The door opens. The results are what they are. Nothing can change that. Nothing. Not even a god.
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Killer of soccer referee gets three years

On Saturdays this space normally features a WordPress reblog but I wasn’t able to find a post regarding a story from earlier this year that deeply affected me. I’m posting an update regarding this story instead.

Earlier this year there was a very disturbing story involving a 17-year-old youth playing in a recreational soccer league that was intended to give suburban kids a chance.

While playing the goalie position, the unnamed youth reportedly pushed a player attempting a corner kick. After justifiably drawing a yellow card the youth protested the call and shouted at the volunteer referee who had made the call.

As the yellow card was being written, the youth suckerpunched the referee, Ricardo Portillo, 46, in the side of the head. By the time police arrived Portillo was curled on the ground in a fetal position and complaining of nausea and back pain. The referee was rushed to a hospital and slipped into a coma later that evening. Within two days Portillo was dead from brain swelling and injuries resulting from the punch.

On Aug. 5, 2013, the youth plead guilty as part of deal reached with prosecutors. The deal prevented the youth from being tried as an adult, only about three months before his 18th birthday. Under the deal the youth will serve a maximum of just over three years in a juvenile prison, although a juvenile parole board could decide to release the youth earlier.

The juvenile court judge also ordered the youth to maintain a picture of the victim in his cell and write a letter to the man’s daughters every week to remind him of the pain he caused the man’s family.

Again, that’s three years in a juvenile prison for a guilty plea on a charge of “homicide by assault.” Sad.

Mad Maxxed

madmax4_movie3The news out of New York City was almost too unbelievable to believe.

Almost.

A rabid pack of bikers chased down an SUV, pulled out the driver and beat him in front of his wife and daughter.

Why does a story like this sound so familiar?
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