Tuesday, June 30

Kudos for an Incredible Body of Work

Looking Out
Across The Night-Time
The City Winks A Sleepless Eye
Hear Her Voice
Shake My Window
Sweet Seducing Sighs
Get Me Out
Into The Night-Time
Four Walls Won't Hold Me Tonight
If This Town
Is Just An Apple
Then Let Me Take A Bite

If They Say -Why, Why, ...
Tell 'Em That Is Human Nature
Why, Why, Does He Do Me That Way
If They Say -Why, Why, ...
Tell 'Em That Is Human Nature
Why, Why, Does He Do Me That Way
Reaching Out
To Touch A Stranger
Electric Eyes Are Ev'rywhere
See That Girl
She Knows I'm Watching
She Likes The Way I Stare
If They Say -Why, Why,
Tell 'Em That Is Human Nature
Why, Why, Does He Do Me That Way
If They Say -Why, Why,
Tell 'Em That Is Human Nature
Why, Why, Does He Do Me That Way
I Like Livin' This Way
I Like Lovin' This Way

Looking Out
Across The Morning
The City's Heart Begins To Beat
Reaching Out
I Touch Her Shoulder
I'm Dreaming Of The Street
If They Say -Why, Why, Tell 'Em That Is Human Nature
Why, Why, Does He Do Me That Way
If They Say -Why, Why,
Tell 'Em That Is Human Nature
Why, Why, Does He Do Me That Way
I Like Livin' This Way

"Human Nature"
Written by Steve Porcaro and John Bettis, produced by Quincy Jones

Episode V: The Case

So here’s what happened. Late at night, two males are walking down a residential street. A car passes them, then stops abruptly and backs up. The men walk to the rear passenger window and begin talking. Then shots are fired and the two men fall to the ground as the car speeds off. One man is dead at the scene, the other is taken to the hospital and dies. When the police stop the car a few minutes later down the road, a male driver and female passenger exit. Neither one has a weapon. They are taken into custody and the car is impounded.

Okay, I admit it. I’m bored with this. There have been so many intervening events since the trial that it just doesn’t seem all that exciting anymore. I get that way sometimes. It comes from being lazy.

Anyway, to make a long story short, this was a gang-related killing. Evidently the two men were shot because they were members of a gang in Fresno and the shooter was a Phoenix area gang member. Classic gang confrontation, but without the Jerome Robbins choreography.

We had two main eyewitnesses. One was a neighbor who saw the entire incident from her house at the corner of the intersection where the shooting took place. Very credible, but she couldn’t actually see the shooter. She did identify the car and the driver. The other eyewitness was the female passenger in the car. Real piece of work that one. Sixteen year old gang member, already had kids but ditched them that night to go over to some homey’s crib with her cousin to pound beers. She ends up taking a ride in a car with two guys, drifts in and out of “sleep,” hears gunshots behind her. She can’t (or won’t) identify the defendant as the shooter. From recorded prison phone calls to her family, the police learn the gang name of the shooter: Drifter. Her whack job, drug addled cousin testifies that she knows Drifter and identifies him as the defendant. That’s about all she is good for. The driver of the car did not testify. The defendant also did not testify.

We had hours and hours of forensic testimony. Excruciating detail about gun shot residue particles: barium, lead, and antimony, oh my! But the police never found the actual gun. We had rival gang expert testimony. (Rival, gang. Get it?) The prosecution expert was a police detective that lives here and knows the defendant. The defense expert was an academic with a chip on his shoulder, a distinct sympathy for urban youth and an antipathy for statutes defining gang activity as criminal. Guess which one I believed. We had a pompous blowhard defense expert who attempted to recreate the shooting based solely on the notes taken by the actual forensic examiners. He was convinced that based on the entry wounds of the victim and the gun shot residue found inside the car, the gun was most likely fired by the driver – two shots out the front passenger window, one shot out the rear passenger window. But he did not take any notes at all during his analysis, nor did he attempt any recreation of the crime. And he misspelled “ballistic” during his testimony.

So that’s about it. We got the case to deliberate. There was no smoking gun, no slam dunk piece of evidence tying the defendant to the shootings. The prosecution gave us several puzzle pieces that if put together properly could lead to a guilty verdict. But was it enough?

Coming next: THE DECISION

Monday, June 22

Viva Neda

I am heartbroken by the events in Iran that include a young, beautiful woman being shot through her heart, most likely by police or other government security forces. Her crime was to stand up to tyranny and oppression, to demand rights which we recognize as God-given. To remind governments that they serve their populations, not the reverse.

Ordinary people change the world.

We will remember Neda for who she was and what she represents. Her murderer will be forgotten.

We will remember this man for bringing an entire repressive regime to a standstill. The driver of the tank will remain forever unknown.

I am deeply disappointed by the response of the United States government to the seekers of freedom and liberty in Iran that are dying in the streets to change their nation for the better. But I know without a doubt that the people of America stand with them in support of their just cause.

May they prevail.

Please visit these sites for more information.
Hot Air
Fox News

Saturday, June 20

The Random Rocky Picture of the Day*

Working Man's Edition

My baby takes the morning train
He works from nine to five and then
He takes another home again
To find me waiting for him

*Not a daily feature

Monday, June 15

Happy Pappy's Day

Dear Dad,

Thanks for the topical quote, I'm never quite sure if our fans "get" our blog,... but it's obvious that you've captured our spirit. We always appreciate the participation of our fans in our never-ending silliness and Shenanigan-ery. So here we go...

"Always" and "Never" are two words you should always remember never to use. - Wendell Johnson

First of all - I could never embrace an "absolute" as a rule,... as this always makes my Libertarian hackles bristle. However, on the other hand, I have always thought that on selected occurrences, one can never refute the usefulness of some hard and fast rules, thereby avoiding considerable pain & suffering. Surely you will never forget some of our "adventures" where the following axioms might have come in handy:

1) Always exit a canoe carefully, especially if you are in the front.
2) Always remember to pack your Dad's sleeping bag, otherwise you may be sharing yours.
3) Never try to replace "Seagram's 7" with Cinnamon-Lavoris Mouthwash.
4) Always hang the Bird Suet Feeder higher than the dog can jump.
5) Always secure the trash can lids tightly, because dogs love the taste of Hershey's Instant Chocolate.
6) Never purchase an Automatic Transmission VW Bug. (Just don't do it.)
7) Never open a sun roof after or during a snow storm.
8) Never lock your knees if you about to Hyperventilate.
9) Never break the septic pipe going from the tank to the distribution fields,.. you might not enjoy fixing it.

(Truth be known, all of the lines above just might have their own "Canard or Caper",... but I'll never tell).

Happy Father's Day Dad.
You've never deserved it more.


Wednesday, June 10

Murder, He Wrote…about

3 gunshots + 2 victims + 1 car = 4 criminal counts. How judging a Gang Killing in Phoenix turned my life upside down! Pretty dramatic, huh.

Recently I had the interesting experience, one might almost say the honor, of serving on a jury for a criminal trial. The trial lasted from the end of April until the beginning of June. At the time I was unable to talk about what was happening, but now that it is completed, I thought it might be interesting to share some of the observations that I had and perhaps give a glimpse into the court system that many people may not have had the chance to see.

For most people, jury duty begins with the summons in the mail. I had already requested a deferment previously, so this time I had to attend. In essence, it is a giant cattle call. You wait in a big room at the courthouse for your name to be called for a jury pool. And for some reason, this process turns perfectly intelligent, rational adults into second graders. (If you’ve been called, you know what I’m talking about.) In my case, the first sorting that was done was to find 50 people that could sit on a trial that would last for approximately three weeks. I didn’t have anything interesting going on in my life at the time, so I responded yes. That put me in the pool. All in all, not terribly difficult. Although the worst part was having to sit in that room while they played the DVD for Marley & Me. Should have gotten extra compensation for that.

So we go up to the court room to begin the jury selection process. No names are used, everyone is a number. I was number 30. Lots of basic, routine questions. Do you know anyone involved in the case, any of the lawyers, any potential witnesses, etc. It takes a few hours to go through all of that. Out of the original 50, they needed 15 – 12 jurors plus 3 alternates. I figured being number 30 I had probably less than a 50% chance of being selected. I figured they would just count off from the beginning until they had enough. But I think the actual selection was more involved. They selected a group of 15 out of the entire batch, skipping over several at a time. And I was one of the lucky 15. Now I am officially known as number 11. I traded up. I am guessing there were much more sophisticated criteria at work by the two sides, because the resulting jury was well represented demographically. Age ranged from 20s to 60s, there were several different nationalities and several different genders. No, I’m kidding. There were only two.

Court is not like Perry Mason, or even Law & Order. Less entertaining and much less dramatic. The courtrooms today are high tech, with microphones, overhead projectors, and computers everywhere. The judge even has a white noise machine that he can turn on above the jury box to block out discussions the lawyers have at the bench. So now I’m regretting skipping that lip reading class in college. Our jury seats were reasonably comfortable leather chairs. Better than the one I have in my office. You get to bring in drinks with you, as long as you aren’t messy. No food though. What did you think, this is a cafeteria? Naturally, there is the admonition against phones and pagers. But wouldn’t you know it, there is always that one person who forgets. Of course, since it was the judge whose phone rang during the trial, we just let it go with a laugh. The attorneys and defendant dress up but no one else does. Jury members, witnesses – jeans, shorts and flip flops. I resisted the urge and wore business casual each day.

Trials in Arizona are somewhat unique. During the witness testimony, jury members are allowed to take notes of the proceedings and may even ask their own questions of the witnesses. After both sides are finished with direct and cross examinations, the questions are submitted in writing to the judge, who must approve them and who reads them aloud to the witness. I know what you are thinking. Of course I submitted questions. I was the first one, although not the only one. The notes that you take must be left in the courtroom and after the deliberations are finished and the verdict reached, they are destroyed. That means all of what I am telling you is from memory. And no, I’m not making stuff up.

Coming next: THE CASE

Sunday, June 7

True Blood

When you came in the air went out.
And every shadow filled up with doubt.
I don't know who you think you are,
But before the night is through,
I wanna do bad things with you.

I'm the kind to sit up in his room.
Heart sick an' eyes filled up with blue.
I don't know what you've done to me,
But I know this much is true:
I wanna do bad things with you.

Ow, ooh.I don't know what you've done to me,
But I know this much is true:
I wanna do bad things with you.
I wanna do real bad things with you.

Thursday, June 4

The Random Rocky Picture of the Day*

Tonight's special guest star: Crystal

* Not a daily feature

Monday, June 1

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

"You just better have a damn good conductor." -- Sebastian Cobb

From the indispensible Hot Air. Original article from the NYTimes:
31 year old grad student now in charge of GM (Government Motors)

The money quote:
"...I’m not terribly sanguine about the prospects of GM prospering under the guidance of someone who hasn’t ever met a payroll or sold a car."

Oh yeah, this will work.