Saturday, May 25, 2002
A Hamilton County judge found the 24-year-old North College Hill man not guilty by reason of insanity Thursday in connection with an incident last year where he was caught trying to enter Canada while driving a stolen street sweeper.
Mr. Francis, who was diagnosed with multiple mental disorders including depression, delusions and schizophrenia, was accused of stealing the large truck a year ago from Lockland-based Contract Sweepers & Equipment.
He told mental health examiners he was hoping to live in the woods in Alaska because the Bible says a prophet gets no honor in his hometown. The cold wouldn't bother him, he told them, because he was the Abominable Snowman.
I am very very glad that the Canadian border guards considered this sufficiently peculiar behavior to stop him from entering the country.
And, well, a lot of them are anti-Israel. Among the "top ten" petitions, in terms of recent signature volume, are the "Boycott Israel Now!" petition to the Australian Acadmic [sic] Community (y'know, one way to lose a lot of credibility is to have a typo in the title of your petition); the "Jenin War Crimes" petition to Kofi Annan; and the "Try Ariel Sharon for Crimes Against Humanity" petition to objective peacemaker Mary Robinson. Also, there is the "Bilistene vil ikke finansiere Bjørvika!" petition to Veisjefen i Oslo, and I am guessing that 1) Bilistene = Palestine and 2) this is not a pro-Israel petition.
But at the same time, there is the "Suicide Bombing - A Crime Against Humanity" petition to the government of Australia. And two petitions directly related to September 11: "Declare Sept 11 a National Holiday" and "Rename West Street in NYC to Heroes Highway."
And then the non-political issues:
"Get Roy Keane Back to Japan" -- "We the undersigned want to see Roy Keane play for Ireland in the World Cup. Now is not a time for blame, but for immediate resolution." I have no idea what this is about, but there are more than 900 signatures (although a number seem to be return visitors carrying on some sort of debate about the relative talent of various soccer players).
And the apparently related "Football Association of Ireland Petition for a Better Standard" -- "In light of the recent events surrounding Roy Keane and the Irish squad for the World Cup 2002, we, the People of Ireland, feel it's time that you, the FAI, get into gear and handle things more professionally".
And, rounding out the top ten, the "Save Dark Angel - We Want Season 3" petition, with 15,500 signatures.
What about those petitions not popular enough to be on the Top Ten? Here are a few that caught my eye:
Cab Calloway School of the Arts "Pajama Pants" Petition: "We, the undersigned believe that the students of Cab Calloway School Of The Arts have the right to wear "pajama bottoms" to school." (21 signatures)
Case Western Reserve University Weight Room Renovation Petition: "The objective of this petition is to convince the administration of Case Western Reserve University to renovate the weight room in Veale Center." (270 signatures)
Legalize Teen Sex Petition, sponsored by Glenn Reynolds. (Sorry, that one's just a joke.)
Petition to Abolish the CIA, with 212 signatures.
The "End Mad Cow" Petition, with 47 signatures.
My personal favorite, The Petition for the Removal of Petition Online: "This is a petition to get rid of petition online. As the vast majority of the petitions, spammed across the e-landscape are meaningless, trite, and more importantly, carry no weight amongst those people in power, I submit that this site be taken down. This would have the benefit of freeing up millions of gigahertz of bandwidth space, from emails with links not sent, to posts on message boards never written.
And, perhaps the most successful Petition Online petition to date, the 2002 Olympics Figure Skating Injustice Petition: "This petition was created due to the outrage that occurred when the Canadian Figure Skating Pairs Team did not win 1st place at the 2002 Winter Olympics. We are thoroughly appalled with this outcome and would simply like to voice out our opinions, and praise Jamie Sale and David Pelletier on their incredible performance, that we feel, deserved the Gold Medal." (827 signatures, and the ISO gave Sale-Pelletier a Gold? Coincidence? I think not!)
1. The Sharon War Crimes petition has by far the most "signatures" -- more than 850,000, compared to about 120,000 for "Make Sept 11 a Holiday." But I was struck by how many signatures consist of a single word -- presumably a first name? -- and absolutely no other info. For example, what should one make of a petition with ten separate signatures (over a 400-signature stretch) that say "baher"?
2. Here's a doozy from the Jenin War Crimes petition (signature #212): "Godelieve Maes -- Stop Israel from ruling the world! -- Belgium"
3. These people must be lots of fun at parties (from Jenin petition, signature #259: "Paul & Carol Bradford -- We are Media Monitors, that is, we read as much of the news as is possible, also watch the news stations, and then we constantly write letters/emails of protest to our politicians & the American meda -- usa
1. Inflated view of his accomplishments and importance: He calls himself an author. His entire published work consists of a single short shory collection, "Sad as Hell," that is 44 pages long.
2. Muddle-headed worldview: In his recently-made documentary in Pakistan, he took pains to tell Taliban supporters that he opposed the U.S. bombing of Afghanistan.
Based on other news emanating from Norway over the last couple of months, it would appear that he's the perfect representative for the country!
U.S. Vice-President Dick Cheney says that another terrorist attack in the United States is a virtual certainty ('Terrorist Chatter' Prompts New Alert -- May 20).
That is an extraordinary statement in view of the fact that the Taliban are no longer in power in Afghanistan and the U.S. army is now in that country.
I must ask: Had the United States invaded Afghanistan and deposed the Taliban a year or so before Sept. 11, would that have prevented the attacks on New York and Washington, in Mr. Cheney's opinion? Mr. Cheney's recent statement suggests that his answer would be no.
If Mr. Cheney's statement about the virtual certainty of a terrorist attack inside the United States is true, that means that terrorists are already in the country or they will enter the United States in the near future and the U.S. government is powerless to prevent their entry.
Either way, one must wonder what the U.S. Army is doing in Afghanistan.
Um, adding the "virtual" to "virtual certainty?" Making it more difficult for an attack to happen. Making sure that any attack will be with few, small, conventional weapons rather than many, large, nuclear or biological ones?
Holy cow, what an Edeet.
Historians these days don't tackle the big Simon Schama, Ryszard Kapuscinski themes, the things that need explaining, like land wars that spring out of a passion for trees or the whim of a Third World tyrant who overbought armaments and had to use them before they rusted.
Instead, popular scholars tackle the minutiae that might help explain things, like the history of salt, the invention of the portable compass, the changing social meaning of striped fabric and why the screwdriver gave civilization a kick-start. They write not about depression, but serotonin levels; not about the shoreline, but the dunes.
I think the reason is that big things are painful and unmanageable -- that in 16 months, Junior [NB: President Bush] has told the rest of humanity and indeed Mother Nature to go straight to hell -- so we are favouring the minor over the major because making a fuss of small things is all we can manage.
Indeed. I am sure that if we just go back to December 2000, before Bush destroyed the spirit of the world, we'll find publishing houses chock full of broad, sweeping histories. Why, back then, people could dream vast dreams....
If there is a Nobel Prize for political commentary, it should go to Rick Salutin. His chilling analysis of U.S. policy regarding more terror attacks and U.S. foreign policy should be required reading.
Actually, I agree. If Yasir Arafat is an appropriate choice for the Nobel Peace Prize, then Rick Salutin is perfect for a Nobel Political Commentary Prize.