Let’s call it … um … er … yeah.

Anyway, over at AZCentral, the headline for Bill Miller’s McClatchy article is, “Police: Burglar forces elderly woman to make him sandwich“. And there is something … um … er … yeah. Something about that. I mean, make your own headline. I did.

A 39-year-old man has confessed to breaking into the home of an elderly woman early Monday in Fort Worth, Texas, and forcing her to watch as he performed a sex act on himself, police said.

Mitchel Wayne Stewart also ordered the 77-year-old woman to make him a sandwich before he fled with her cell phone, police said.

Oh. Damn. Proper. That was the word I was looking for. I kept hanging up on dignified, or even nice. (As in, “That’s a nice way of putting it.”) Except, well, obviously … er, um … yeah.

So let me get this straight: You break into a house, get yourself off in front of an old woman, compel her to make you a sandwich, then steal her mobile phone and leave?

Like I said, write your own headline. After all … oh, right.

Generation gap

Oh, come on. The lede is worth a double-take:

A Somali man who claims to be 112 years old has married a 17-year old girl.

“Today God helped me realise my dream,” Ahmed Mohamed Dhore said, after the wedding in the region of Galguduud.

Bride Safiya Abdulle’s family said she was “happy with her new husband”.

‘Nuff said?

News from across the Pond

It makes for a good punch line:

    Anyway, isn’t he supposed to be Middle-East peace envoy? Surely he won’t want to give that up just while he’s achieving such staggering success in that post. But this appears to be what happens to him; he wrecks a place, then gets the job of uniting it. Even Bin Laden didn’t have the cheek to say “Aha, there’s a vacancy for President of the New York Tall Buildings Appreciation Society. I think I’ll put in for that.”

    Mark Steel, on Tony Blair

Not to sound stupid, but what is a .timp?

Request for Information

I’m not the most proficient technological person. That is, I can use a computer, and often better than some of my associates who have “certificates” for using Microsoft Office and the like. But no, I’m not by any stretch a network technician, programmer, or anything like that.

So I have a question.

It is unusual behavior for my computer to have its security safeguards penetrated. So unusual, in fact, that the appearance of new files on my desktop after simply visiting a web page is completely foreign to me. Not that I’ve never experienced an unauthorized download, but before I always had to click a link to trigger the download. I’m capable of perusing user communities to find out how big an issue this is with the operating system, and what I need to do about it. That part is all good; with a little more diligence, I will know if this is a security update bug, or whether someone has found a way through the gates. And then I’ll know what I need to do.

The question at hand seems comparatively benign, or even banal. But, you know, I also know how to do simple things like look up a file extension I’m unfamiliar with. And, you know, in some cases I end up feeling stupid because I’m left wondering why I didn’t know, say, what an .ogg file was. Life goes on.

But this time, I’m striking out completely.

AlterNet managed to place a file on my desktop under the name ad.timp. I simply linked in from The Rumpus, following a health care story, and my download window popped up showing a zero kb file by that name. File information says it came from AlterNet, and not The Rumpus.

So I excommunicated the file and then set about what I expected would be a simple but enlightening search to determine what the hell a .timp file is. Unfortunately, I’m coming up with tumbleweeds. Silence. Nothing. I may not be a brilliant (or even halfway-decent) computer scientist, but this is an unusual result even for me.

Anyone? Anyone? I’m curious. If you happen to know, and are willing to share a minute of your time, could you please fill me in on what a .timp file is, what it is for, what it is supposed to do, and so forth? Mostly, I’m curious because in looking up various file extensions, I can also learn how hostile and dangerous a given file can be. And, well, since my computer is displaying new behavior despite the most recent virus and spyware checks coming up blank, I figure it’s a good idea to find out just what AlterNet is sending users without asking or advising them.

I would greatly appreciate whatever insight anyone might be willing to share about this mysterious (to me) file extension.

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Join in the dance: Guns! Guns! Guns! Guns! Fire! Fire! Fire!

In the long-running American debate about gun control, it occurred to me long ago to wonder about those folks whose “home protection” failed them in certain ways. After all, anyone can point to a news story about a grandmother shooting a fleeing intruder in the back and crow about home protection with firearms. And who, really, is going to make the obvious point in those cases? And, certainly, there are the criminals who probably shouldn’t be carrying guns in the first place. But you rarely encounter headlines like, “Homeowner misses intruder, shoots up own living room”. I mean, I’m sure it happens from time to time, but it just doesn’t make a juicy headline like an old woman shooting down a bad guy.

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On losing a bet: Chuck Todd making a change

Apparently it was a slow news day, or, rather, that the Huffington Post notes that NBC News’ Chuck Todd, having lost a bet with ABC’s Jake Tapper, will shave his infamous goatee.

The NBC News White House Correspondent entered into a bet with ABC News White House Correspondent Jake Tapper: if the Dodgers won the NLCS, Tapper would have to grow a goatee; if the Phillies won, Todd would have to shave his.

The alternative would be to donate $1,000 to the other’s favorite charity, with Tapper supporting Dr. Shershah Syed — who he described as “an ob/gyn devoting himself to saving impoverished women in his native Pakistan” — and Todd supporting Samaritan Inns — which he described as providing “housing and recovery services to homeless and addicted men and women.”

Whatever the aesthetic result—I don’t think I’ve ever seen Todd without that facial monstrosity—shaving his goatee won’t do much for his credibility. Although it might help his charm quotient. After all, we want to see the fresh-faced Chuck, not the Chuck who would helping poor women in Pakistan. You know, if he’s cute under that facekill, credibility won’t matter.

David Rohde: A captive’s story

The New York Times presents the six-part series, “Held By the Taliban”, by David Rohde:

David Rohde reports for The New York Times, and won a Pulitzer for his 1996 reporting on the Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia for The Christian Science Monitor. In November, 2008, Mr. Rohde and his team were taken hostage by the Taliban-allied Haqqani faction in Afghanistan. Once accused of being a spy for Bosnian Muslims, Mr. Rohde now tells the story of his captivity by Afghani Muslims who, naturally, considered him a spy.

On June 20, 2009, The New York Times published news of Mr. Rohde’s escape along with one of his abducted colleagues, Afghani reporter Tahir Ludin.

Good news on drugs

Well hey—

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration will not seek to arrest medical marijuana users and suppliers as long as they conform to state laws, under new policy guidelines to be sent to federal prosecutors Monday.

Two Justice Department officials described the new policy to The Associated Press, saying prosecutors will be told it is not a good use of their time to arrest people who use or provide medical marijuana in strict compliance with state laws.

The new policy is a significant departure from the Bush administration, which insisted it would continue to enforce federal anti-pot laws regardless of state codes.

—it’s nice to have something to smile about.

More details from the AP via The New York Times.

Post post-racial? (Popora?)

Say what?

A Louisiana justice of the peace said he refused to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple out of concern for any children the couple might have.

That lede, via the Associated Press, seems a product of fifty years ago, although one might rightfully doubt if such a story would make headlines around the world back then. Arguably not, since one of the extraordinary notions about the tale is that it comes from the here and now. Here? Well, obviously, America; in this case it’s Hammond, Louisiana. Now? October 15, 2009, by the time stamp.

And looking to Hammond, we find Don Elizey telling us the unfortunate news:

A justice of the peace said he refused to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple last week because of concern for the children who might be born of that relationship.

Keith Bardwell, justice of the peace for Tangipahoa Parish’s 8th Ward, also said it is his experience that most interracial marriages do not last long.

“I’m not a racist,” Bardwell said. “I do ceremonies for black couples right here in my house. My main concern is for the children.”

Beth Humphrey, 30, said she and her boyfriend, Terence McKay, 32, both of Hammond, intend to consult the U.S. Justice Department about filing a discrimination complaint.

The story is true. One Keith Bardwell, explaining that he’s not a racist, acknowledged to Hammond Star that his concerns about biracial children compel him to refuse marriage licenses to couples of mixed ethnicity.

But, of course, he’s not racist.

How can he be? This is a post-racial America. Or is it?

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Just say ‘No’ … to what?

Perhaps the strangest thing about the recent vote on the Franken Amendment is its political implications. Or, as Jon Stewart so aptly put it, “How is anyone against this?”

    Sec. 8104. (a) None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used for any existing or new Federal contract if the contractor or a subcontractor at any tier requires that an employee or independent contractor, as a condition of employment, sign a contract that mandates that the employee or independent contractor performing work under the contract or subcontract resolve through arbitration any claim under title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or any tort related to or arising out of sexual assault or harassment, including assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, false imprisonment, or negligent hiring, supervision, or retention.

The basic proposition is that one should not be expected to sign away their right to mundane justice as a prerequisite of employment in the private sector, especially in such an acute question as rape.

Josh Kraushaar at Politico offers the basic analysis:

Franken’s amendment, which passed 68-30, received the support of 10 Republican senators. However, most Republicans opposed the amendment because it went against the wishes of the Defense Department, and argued it gave Congress too much influence in altering defense contracts.

Those concerns, however, are immaterial to Democratic strategists, who believe the vote will be politically costly to the two Republican senators facing competitive races – Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.).

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee pounced after the vote, putting out a statement attacking Vitter “for choosing special interests over justice and the interests of the American taxpayers.”

And a senior Democratic strategist working on defeating Vitter told POLITICO that the vote will “very likely” come up in a campaign ad next year.

Republicans point out that the amendment was opposed by a host of business interests, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and applies to a wide range of companies, including IBM and Boeing.

Watching the GOP sideline itself in the early rounds of the health care debate, many suggested Republicans were simply posturing themselves for the 2010 midterm election. This vote would seem something of a deviation from such a course. I do not think it so extraordinary that we should not be overestimating voters in these constituencies if we imagine them capable of looking at their wives and daughters, sisters, mothers, and friends, and thinking, “Now, wait a minute ….”

The Senators voting nay:

    Alexander (R-TN), Barrasso (R-WY), Bond (R-MO), Brownback (R-KS), Bunning (R-KY), Burr (R-NC), Chambliss (R-GA), Coburn (R-OK), Cochran (R-MS), Corker (R-TN), Cornyn (R-TX), Crapo (R-ID), DeMint (R-SC), Ensign (R-NV), Enzi (R-WY), Graham (R-SC), Gregg (R-NH), Inhofe (R-OK), Isakson (R-GA), Johanns (R-NE), Kyl (R-AZ), McCain (R-AZ), McConnell (R-KY), Risch (R-ID), Roberts (R-KS), Sessions (R-AL), Shelby (R-AL), Thune (R-SD), Vitter (R-LA), Wicker (R-MS)

These are not insignificant junior players. To the other, though, there aren’t many insignificant junior players among Senate Republicans; only three can boast of being freshmen, and two of them—Johanns and Risch—are among the nays.

The other, George LeMieux of Florida, is among the Republicans who haven’t yet completely lost their minds:

    Bennett (R-UT), Collins (R-ME), Grassley (R-IA), Hatch (R-UT), Hutchison (R-TX), LeMieux (R-FL), Lugar (R-IN), Murkowski (R-AK), Snowe (R-ME), Voinovich (R-OH)

If the Democrats handle this one correctly, they should be able to make some Republicans sweat next year. Senate Republicans facing re-election in 2010, with nay votes bold

    Shelby (AL), Murkowski (AK), McCain (AZ), LeMieux (FL), Isakson (GA), Crapo (ID), Grassley (IA), Brownback (KS), Bunning (KY), Vitter (LA), Bond (MO), Gregg (NH), Burr (NC), Voinovich (OH), Coburn (OK), DeMint (SC), Thune (SD), Bennett (UT)

    — Retiring

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