Saturday Night Open Thread

There's snowboarding tonight on the Winter Olympics.

Condolences to Marie Osmond and her family. Her 18 year old son Michael Blosil died in LA last night. There are unconfirmed reports he jumped from his apartment building. He had long suffered from depression.

The tsunami warning for Hawaii has been lifted. The death toll in Chile has passed 200. The only remaining warnings are in Russia and Japan.

This is an open thread, all topics welcome.

< Hawaii Live News Streams of Expected Tsunami | Johnny Depp Helping Free the Memphis Three >
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    Not too long ago, a woman who worked (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by Anne on Sat Feb 27, 2010 at 08:07:49 PM EST
    in an office in my building jumped off the roof of the parking garage; what lingers in my mind is how deeply desperate and hopeless one must have to be to do that.  I just cannot even imagine the depth of the darkness that would have to envelop both mind and soul, and how that darkness would have to be so enormous and all-encompassing that it would blot out the family and friends who now will forever be asking themselves what they could have done differently to make things turn in a better direction.

    My heart goes out to the family.

    Its the deep dark (5.00 / 5) (#6)
    by Jen M on Sat Feb 27, 2010 at 08:25:34 PM EST
    and your mind can't talk you out of it.

    It takes the help of others.

    Been there, didn't do that. I was saved by friends and family and a mental health professional thank G*d my insurance provided!


    Thank god... (none / 0) (#22)
    by kdog on Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 06:42:21 AM EST
    Talkleft would miss ya Jen, much less your loved ones.  Just in case ya haven't heard in awhile...I'm sure glad you're here kid:)

    And like the great philosopher Keith Richards once said..."It's good to be here, it's good to be anywhere."



    Thanks (none / 0) (#24)
    by Jen M on Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 08:18:58 AM EST

    I like the quote  hehe


    Echoing kdog's comment, Jen - (none / 0) (#27)
    by Anne on Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 09:15:44 AM EST
    am glad you were able to get the help you needed, and travel back to a better and healthier place; that's not an easy journey, and is complicated for many by the stigma that still attaches for not being able to just "get it together."  

    And, as you pointed out, lack of insurance (which probably not a factor for Marie's son) is also a factor in which direction this can go.


    That's awful (none / 0) (#2)
    by andgarden on Sat Feb 27, 2010 at 08:11:56 PM EST
    It really was. (none / 0) (#5)
    by Anne on Sat Feb 27, 2010 at 08:22:50 PM EST
    Apparently, she had just recently lost her job.

    I hate to hear about jumpers (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by shoephone on Sat Feb 27, 2010 at 09:11:13 PM EST
    About thirty years ago, my gorgeous, sweet, funny cousin jumped. He was only in his early twenties, lived with his girlfriend. One night when he was at work, someone murdered her. His grief and his guilt at not being there to protect her overwhelmed him. He decided he couldn't live without her. To this day, I don't how my aunt and uncle (who have three other kids) survived and thrived after that.  

    My heart goes out to the Osmond family.  

    That's just so awful. (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by Anne on Sat Feb 27, 2010 at 09:36:19 PM EST
    The tragedy of losing such a bright light stays with you forever; I guess the only solace one can find is in believing that his pain is over, even if it left so much pain for others.

    When my daughter's boyfriend was in high school - he is the youngest of four, and the last to be living at home - his parents separated after some turbulent years. Long story short, one evening when he was out of the house, his father killed his mother and then himself.  He was on his way home, and couldn't get up his street because of "hostage situation."  And then he found out it was at his own house - and there was no one else there for him at that moment.  When he opened up to me about it, and I imagined what that must have been like, I just wept for him.

    It's been eight years, and he continues to work through it, finally in the last couple of years, being able to really talk about it with people he trusts.

    There is so much horror and pain in this world, it makes me so grateful for what I have, especially as I appreciate how quickly it can be taken away.


    That is a terrible thing to have to live with! (none / 0) (#16)
    by shoephone on Sat Feb 27, 2010 at 11:20:27 PM EST
    I can't even imagine it. He must be very brave to have already started working through it. That's the kind of thing that can eat away at someone for years until one day... they just break. Good for him for facing it head on. I wish him (and her) the best. It will probably be a longer journey.

    As he gets older, he is getting new (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by Anne on Sat Feb 27, 2010 at 11:44:59 PM EST
    insight into the whole thing, which is good, and being able to talk about it, under the right circumstances, is part of moving forward, too.

    My daughter has only been dating him for three years, so neither she, nor we, knew him when this happened.  Now that they are living with us - trying to save money to for a house, and looking to get married in the next couple of years - I've gotten to know him better, and I feel honored, really, that he trusts me enough to open up.

    He's a wonderful guy, he and his siblings have stayed close, but it's still a hard thing to come to terms with.  There's kind of a fine line between not wanting to be "the guy whose parents died in a murder-suicide" and knowing that the experience has changed him forever.

    Reeally, though, my heart just breaks for him when I think about it.


    My heart goes out to Marie and her family. (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by mexboy on Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 04:49:25 AM EST
    This must seem like an endless nightmare. May she and her family have the strength and love to endure this tragedy.

    Hey Don (none / 0) (#4)
    by andgarden on Sat Feb 27, 2010 at 08:21:18 PM EST
    Will you be able to rescue the rest of your weekend, or will things be slow to get back to normal?

    Jeralyn: Spammer on 3-1/2 yr old thread (none / 0) (#8)
    by shoephone on Sat Feb 27, 2010 at 09:18:04 PM EST
    thanks, I just zapped him (none / 0) (#10)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Feb 27, 2010 at 10:04:46 PM EST
    All these spammers are coming from Malaysia, India, The Philippines, UK, Australia, etc. About 20 a day register. Every night I go through the "new user registrations" and zap them. I have no idea how they post on closed entries. And they never give up. Thanks for letting me know, because I'm sure I miss a bunch.

    It's very easy to post on a closed thread (none / 0) (#11)
    by andgarden on Sat Feb 27, 2010 at 10:10:34 PM EST
    As you know (none / 0) (#15)
    by shoephone on Sat Feb 27, 2010 at 11:17:35 PM EST
    I can be a little bit OCD about the spammers!

    DNA matches-FBI wants to use lower number of (none / 0) (#12)
    by jawbone on Sat Feb 27, 2010 at 10:34:24 PM EST
    matching points, per post at FDL. I'd appreciate seeing reactions of people who know more about this than I do. Sounds worrisome as presented.

    Case concerns a conviction after 31 years for murder of a nurse. DNA was badly degraded, but was processed, producing 5 and a half markers, and a match was found.

    In 2003 a slide with sperm taken from the victims mouth was unearthed and DNA tested. Thirty one years is a long time for DNA to stay viable and the sample was degraded. It produced only five and half of the markers called loci that allow identification of individuals. To have a 100% identification, you need 13, California requires a minimum of seven,. However this sample was run through their criminal database anyway. It produced a match, Mr. Puckett.

    Mr. Puckett was charged and convicted, based on the DNA only.

    Has "beyond a reasonable doubt" (none / 0) (#13)
    by observed on Sat Feb 27, 2010 at 10:42:22 PM EST
    ever been quantified in a court case?
    If expert testimony says the chances are 99.9%, is that enough, for example?

    What percentage (none / 0) (#17)
    by gyrfalcon on Sat Feb 27, 2010 at 11:33:05 PM EST
    of certainty do those 5 1/2 markers produce?

    We used to convict people based only on blood type.

    I'd want to know how good the defense attorney was.  If OJ could get off based solely on the idea that the DNA could have been magically transformed from his to somebody else's via mishandling of a fresh sample, seems to me a competent attorney could have thrown enough doubt on this partial DNA match to get this guy off-- in the absence of other compelling evidence, that is.

    (Speaking totally as a layman, ie potential juror.)


    From the link (which links to longer article): (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by jawbone on Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 08:02:34 AM EST
    Mr. Puckett's attorney, Bicka Barlow, has a masters degree in genetics and molecular biology from Cornell. She is what you would call an expert on this very area of science. For all of that she was unable to get the judge to admit any evidence of coincidental matching.

    Part of the reason is that the FBI does not want to allow this type of information to get into courts. They like the aura of infallibility that DNA evidence has.

    The last graf is posters' opinion, but based on the longer article and he follows it with a quote.

    I hope Jeralyn takes an interest in this, as I don't know if 5.5 foci, when 13 are needed for 100% certainty, are as dicey as the post suggests.


    Here's the problem (none / 0) (#29)
    by Rojas on Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 10:22:42 AM EST
    After Barlow subpoenaed the Arizona database searches, the agency sent the state’s Department of Public Safety a cease-and-desist letter, warning that its conduct was "under review." Eventually, the Arizona attorney general obtained a court order to block Barlow’s distribution of the findings. In other instances, the FBI has threatened to revoke access to the bureau’s master DNA database if states make the contents of their systems available to defense teams or academics

    Givin the refusal of the FBI for scientific peer review of the procedures, statistical models and the assumptions made in those models the reality is that their assertions are nothing more than a revealed religion.
    Authority worshipers from all sides of the political spectrum are quick to accept these revelations when it supports their reactionary agenda.


    Why the cease and desist (none / 0) (#31)
    by Rojas on Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 01:34:13 PM EST
    ".. an Arizona state employee named Kathryn Troyer had run a series of tests on the state’s DNA database, which at the time included 65,000 profiles, and found multiple people with nine or more identical markers. If you believe the FBI’s rarity statistics, this was all but impossible—the chances of any two people in the general population sharing that many markers was supposed to be about one in 750 million,.....Troyer had unearthed not just a couple of pairs who shared nine identical markers, but 122...."



    Not an expert by any means (none / 0) (#30)
    by Rojas on Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 10:58:35 AM EST
    but you have to know how those statistics are weighted.
    For example, when you say we used to convict based only on blood type, I don't believe that was actually the case. Lets say you could build your case around the facts that of the people who had access to the victim of a crime only one has the blood type found under the victim's fingernails. You could claim 100% certainty even though one in six people of the population at large have that blood type.
    If the FBI will not share there methodology and how their models are weighted. If they refuse to subject them to peer review then they should be givin no weight by a jury. In fact, the testimony should not be allowed at all.

    An article with a little more depth (none / 0) (#32)
    by Rojas on Tue Mar 02, 2010 at 08:24:34 AM EST
    regarding the database issues Here

    This afternoon was weird... (none / 0) (#14)
    by magster on Sat Feb 27, 2010 at 11:06:35 PM EST
    ... tuning in to watch a tsunami live.  Good news makes bad TV.  I hope the fizzled tsunami doesn't have a "crying wolf" effect when a more devastating tsunami is on the way.

    Boy, isn't that the truth (none / 0) (#18)
    by gyrfalcon on Sat Feb 27, 2010 at 11:36:19 PM EST
    CNN was reporting from Hawaiian sources that people started coming out onto the beaches and even surfing after the first hour, even though all the publicity has been that the later waves are often much bigger than the first ones.

    It could have been like the Hilo tsunami from 1960 all over again.

    I'm still haunted by the video of the guy in Sumatra who just stood on the beach and gawked as the tsunami there came in and washed him away.


    Talk Lsft was eerily quiet (none / 0) (#20)
    by oculus on Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 01:01:04 AM EST
    and it isn't football season. So I gathered everyone was glued to TV tsunami watch.

    What a tragic thing for Marie Osmond and her (none / 0) (#25)
    by Angel on Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 08:41:08 AM EST
    family.  She's led a very public life and has had her share of demons to fight herself - postpartum depression and two divorces.  I always liked her and Donny, thought they were cute as buttons when they were younger, and still like them and enjoy watching them because they can both really sing.  I saw Marie once at a television taping, she was a last-minute substitute for another major artist who got sick and couldn't perform.  She came on and charmed the small audience and gave a great performance.  She was so likeable and down-to-earth, you just couldn't help but think that she was a really great person in both her private and professional lives.  Michael Blosil, rest in peace.

    Across the pond (none / 0) (#26)
    by Politalkix on Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 08:55:34 AM EST
    a 26 point Tories poll lead has whittled down to just 2 points.link
    Poll results change quickly. It is quite possible that the political mood in November 2010 in the United States will also be very different than what it is now after Republicans are forced to answer specific questions regarding how they will cut deficits.

    The FBI Anthrax Case, by the NYT Editorial Page: (none / 0) (#28)
    by KeysDan on Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 09:41:03 AM EST
    Summary: All bets are on.  " The agency cites voluminous circumstantial evidence  that is largely persuasive, but its report leaves too many loose ends to be taken as a definitive verdict."  The FBI's conclusion that Dr. Bruce Ivins, the Army bio-defense expert (who died by  his own hand) did it, alone, is based on pioneering lab techniques devised with the aid of some of the country's most sophisticated scientists, so they are presumably reliable. "The cumulative  weight of the evidence seems persuasive. But the FBI has a troubling history of building  a circumstantial  case against suspects who are later exonerated."   They are "inclined" to agree with a call for an independent validation of the findings