Saturday, December 31, 2011

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Refugio and Ester with his citizenship documents

A moment of great joy and pride for us all. The USA is better off because of this new citizen.



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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Moments from citizenship

At the Sacramento ceremony for 1,770 new Americans. So emotional. So wonderful.



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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Vaclav Havel: Hope is a state of mind, not of the world

Requiescat in pace Vaclav Havel 1936-2011
"Hope is a state of mind, not of the world. Either we have hope or we don't; it is a dimension of the soul, and it's not essentially dependent on some particular observation of the world or estimate of the situation. Hope is not prognostication. It is an orientation of the spirit, and orientation of the heart; it transcends the world that is immediately experienced, and is anchored somewhere beyond its horizons ... Hope, in this deep and powerful sense, is not the same as joy that things are going well, or willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously heading for success, but rather an ability to work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed. The more propitious the situation in which we demonstrate hope, the deeper the hope is. Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out."

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Sunday, December 11, 2011

You kids get off of my lawn


Did you know you can design and order traffic signs inexpensively online?

I've become that guy, preparing this week to put up signposts and warnings along the vineyard road that runs by Redwing Ranch.

With the now-bankrupt Renwood vineyards across the road now in the good hands of Rombauer Vineyards, activity has increased dramatically. This is good news; we are grateful to have the vineyards in the hands of such good stewards. Together with the DiArie Vineyards and a Helweig property down the road, the vineyard owners are a fine lot: good neighbors and industrious husbandmen. 

But there's naturally more traffic now. We don't mind workers, owners and residents on the one-land privately maintained road, but do need to keep down the number of lookie loos and (more problematically) hunters. 

Having grown up in Alaska I'm at ease with fair chase hunting, but these busy vineyards and wooded properties are no place for that. I hauled a deer carcass out of our pond two weeks ago that had been killed and left to spoil: a pretty three-point buck, half-eaten by the time we spotted him. With all the workers, residents, dogs and business traffic, we don't need casual shooters.

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Friday, December 09, 2011

Vinyl revival

Music at the new Insight Coffee (1901 8th Street, Sacramento) is vinyl. I feel young. Nice espresso, too.



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Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Why the idea of a businessman-president is laughably wrong-headed (especially now)

In addition to being a prize-winning screenwriter and nascent creator of compelling TV, my friend Joe Acton has spent 40 years as a successful entrepreneurial businessman. Almost alone amongst my acquaintances -- almost all of us somebody's employees, though some are executive employees -- he knows the sweaty reality of performing without a net.

So when he sent me this long rant and was too lazy to put it on his own blog, I decided to rip it off for mine. You might learn something, or at least be reminded of some things you already know. You might also laugh a time or two, and that's never a bad thing.

Q: Should we run government like a business?

A; Are you smarter than a fifth-grader?

by Joe Acton

I was watching Rachel Maddow last night and watched her get sucked down the rabbit hole as to whether or not Mitt Romney was showing a net gain or loss in job creation.  Then today I get a blast email from somewhere lamenting that government should be run like business and so we need to elect a businessman as president, because Obama's never run a business. Well, I have run a business and I can tell you it not about creating jobs.  Anyhow, I went off my nut and wrote this:

I’m blissfully tucked away in 1941 [note: a reference to his current screenwriting project; trust me, you're gonna love it] but keep getting distracted by the Idiot Right and the Ignorant Left back here in future former present.

Romney supporters – and others equally ill-informed – are saying that inasmuch as Romney has spent his career in the private sector, and given the success of those ventures, he knows how to create jobs.  The Idiot Right claims that we need to run the government like a business and the Ignorant Left’s very clever response seems to be “Oh, yeah?”

The very idea that government should be run like a business demonstrates a shocking misunderstanding of governance.  And the idea that business is at all interested in creating jobs illustrates that the overwhelming answer is “No” to Jeff Foxworthy’s question, “Are You Smarter Than A Fifth-Grader?”

First up: American business is not now, nor has it ever been about creating jobs.  It is about creating profits, increasing value, and expanding private ownership.  Job creation is – at best – a tertiary consideration.  The first thing a businessman asks himself is “What can I sell?”; the second is, “What can I charge for it?” and the third is “How much will it cost?” 

EIB scholars who want the government to be run like a business had better be prepared to pay an invoice from the fire department after they show up to put out the fire which was started by the Chinese Christmas lights the scholars bought from a company owned by a Romney-esque investment.  If American business was aimed at creating jobs, they’d damn sure be creating them in the United States, not shipping them overseas.  Repeat after me: “American business is about creating profits, not jobs.”  You might want to wander into a US tattoo parlor and get that inked onto the back of your hand, because if Mitt Romney had anything to do with it you’d be planning a trip overseas to get that tattoo, thus increasing the job base of the transportation industry at the expense of the rather fractured tattoo business.

Next up: Governments are not supposed to be run like businesses, they are supposed to control and regulate businesses while they also protect and serve the citizens.  When governments run like businesses they start to act like them, cutting corners, ignoring “maintenance”, ignoring all but the big markets – the list isn’t endless, but it’s impressive.  Three quick ones come to mind: the Great Depression, the thrift market crash of the 80s-90s, and the Double Dip Recession that everyone says we’re not in, just like they said we weren’t in it to begin with.  But don’t take my word for the idea that governments are supposed to regulate business, not imitate it.  I didn’t dream up the EPA or OSHA.  Richard Nixon did. 

Bring up Richard Nixon’s name, though, and you’ve pretty much defined the boundaries for the Idiot Right and the Ignorant Left because everybody wants to hate him, they’re just generally wrong as to why.

The reason Nixon signed the EPA and OSHA, like him or not, was he recognized that business and government come to the table with competing motives; they cannot serve the same master; they are not interchangeable; they are not the same thing.  They are so not the same thing that they don’t even share terms.  Ask a businessman where he gets capital and the answer will be “investors”; ask a politician and the answer will be the “tax base”.  One is voluntary, the other is not.  And the road diverges quickly and widely from that not-so-small distinction.

If I were on the search committee to help Microsoft find a new CEO – and they desperately need one – I’d want someone with relevant experience.  I probably wouldn’t interview the Secretary of the Department of Health and Social Services because I’m guessing that her experience isn’t as relevant as people actually in Microsoft’s industry.

But I’m not.  I’m being asked to pick the head of our government.  And as a criteria, I’m asked to consider skill sets that are both inapplicable and inappropriate.  And worse, I’m given to understand that the people asking me to make this selection, do not themselves appreciate the distinction between government and business. 

So let me climb down off my soap box before I fall off and hurt myself: government and business are not the same, cannot be run the same, and should not be run by people who believe that such skill sets are interchangeable. 

Government is supposed to serve us all; businesses only a few.  If the overarching question is whether I want a policy wonk who has only worked in government running the government, or do I want someone who has shown he can create jobs overseas running the government – I’m going with the policy wonk, every time.  You see, I don’t live overseas, I live here – where the policies are going to apply.  

Learn more about my book

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Steve Jobs narrates "The Crazy Ones"

As John Gruber said, "Heart breaking. Awe inspiring."

(The commercial itself was narrated by Richard Dreyfus. Jobs is a thoroughly professional piece of voice talent here.)

♨ More about me at

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

"Science is the only news..." So true today.

In a meeting all morning; just heard about the neutrino/speed of light findings and immediately remembered this:

"Science is the only news. When you scan through a newspaper or magazine, all the human interest stuff is the same old he-said-she-said, the politics and economics the same sorry cyclic dramas, the fashions a pathetic illusion of newness. Even the technology is predictable if you know the science. Human nature doesnĊt change much; science does, and the change accrues, altering the world irresversibly."

Stewart Brand
quoted in The Third Culture (Brockman)

♨ More about me at

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Here is the Texas governor rejecting the science of climate change while his own state is on fire

Thomas Friedman:

"Remember the first rule of global warming. The way it unfolds is really 'global weirding.' The weather gets weird: the hots get hotter; the wets wetter; and the dries get drier. This is not a hoax. This is high school physics…"

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Sunday, September 04, 2011

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I need some online marketing advice about my book, please

I need some online marketing advice, please.

My Alaska journalism memoir (“Write Hard, Die Free”) is to be released in the spring. I plan to supplement and support it extensively online, and it's time to establish the website for that.

I can’t afford the domain, which is being offered for $1,400 by some reseller, and the domain (which I do own) seems too clumsy.

Although pretty much any writehard.[otherdomain] is available, in general I’ve found anything other than .com domains far less useful. (I sometimes use and even I can’t remember to type .org instead of .com). I did buy because it was so cheap.

So: what should I do?

I have a Write Hard, Die Free Facebook page. I have and could host something there, like As I mentioned, I also and

Possibilities I’ve considered: or .me or .us. Maybe

What seems best? If you have information about best practices or simply ideas/opinions, it would help to hear from you. Easiest for me is howard.weaver(at)


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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Yep, ATT'a proposed purchase of TMobile is as scummy as you thought

This report from on Huffington Post has all the pointers you need to come to the right conclusion.

The $39 Billion purchase sucks up money that ought to go to improving conditions for phone users, not AT&T executives and shareholders.

♨ More about me at

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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Seven ways Rick Perry wants to change the constitution, None are good, some are horrible.

Find a central metaphor that's so good everything aligns to it. Design meetings are no longer necessary...


Alan Kay is one of the genuinely seminal thinkers behind everything we know today as personal computing, starting with the work at Xerox Parc that inspired the desktop metaphor, mouse as input device, and etc.

I just came across this page where Andy Hertzfeld (a Macintosh programming legend) shares the notes he took at an Alan Kay talk in 1982. I think they're still deeply insightful and almost universally applicable.

This was my favorite: 

"Find a central metaphor that's so good that everything aligns to it. Design meetings are no longer necessary, it designs itself. The metaphor should be crisp and fun.:

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Twilight in the West; goodbye to another day



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Great day in the Sierras

Spent part of yesterday hiking cross-country through the granite at about 8,000 feet off Hwy 88 toward Carson Pass. Were field-testing the new pup Betty, who did great.



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McClatchy commentary: only one side refuses to compromise

"The truth is that only one side is refusing to compromise during our national financial crisis, and that is the Republican side. That is not a partisan conclusion; it is a demonstrable fact"

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Sunday, August 14, 2011

1964-65: Beatles once, Rolling Stones twice. Jealous? Yeah, a little.


While going through old photos looking for material for my journalism memoir we came across this scrapbook from Barb's girlhood in Southern California. Two Rolling Stones concerts (including their first-ever in the U.S.) for a total ticket price of $8. She recalls the Beatles weren't much more.

In Alaska, we got the Turtles. Once. After they were famous.

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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Texas Gov. Rick Perry "revels in a muscular brand of ignorance"

"Perry revels in a muscular brand of ignorance (Rush Limbaugh is a personal hero), one that extends to the ever-fascinating history of the Lone Star State.  Twice in the last two years he’s broached the subject of Texas seceding from the union.

“When we came into the nation in 1845 we were a republic, we were a stand-alone nation,” says Perry in a 2009 video that has just surfaced.  “And one of the deals was, we can leave any time we want. So we’re kind of thinking about that again.”

He can dream all he wants about the good old days when Texas left the nation to fight for the slave-holding states of the breakaway confederacy. But the law will not get him there. There is no such language in the Texas or United States’ constitutions allowing Texas to unilaterally “leave any time we want.”

But Texas is special.  By many measures, it is the nation’s most polluted state.  Dirty air and water do not seem to bother Perry.  He is, however,  extremely perturbed by the Environmental Protection Agency’s enforcement of laws designed to clean the world around him.  In a recent interview,  he wished for the president to pray away the E.P.A."

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

On Writing

I highly recommend this Slate article by Michael Agger on how to become a faster writer. It's here:

And then there's this much more realistic portrait of the craft:

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Message from Anonymous: Operation Facebook, Nov 5 2011

I have no direct knowledge of the authenticity of this video or about the claims that it makes. i don't know if it really is from Anonymous, and I don't know if what it says about Facebook is accurate.

But I do sense a deep truth in this regardless of the specifics. This feels to me like one of those moments of insight in great cyberpunk where you are sure you have just glimpsed the future.

This is worth contemplating, citizens of the world.

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Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Can the U.S. Government pay its debts? Well, who prints dollars?

"Many economists argue, essentially, that the United States isn't going to fail to pay its debts. "The debt is issued in dollars. That means it is payable in dollars. The U.S. government prints dollars," wrote Dean Baker of the liberal Center for Economic and Policy Research Saturday. "This means that if for some reason the government was unable to tax or borrow to raise the money to pay its debt then it could always print it. This may carry a risk of inflation, but S&P is not in the business of making inflation predictions, they are in the business of assessing the likelihood that debt will be repaid."

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Friday, August 05, 2011

Wikipedia Says It's Losing Contributors : NPR

We are not replenishing our ranks," said Wales. "It is not a crisis, but I consider it to be important.

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Thursday, August 04, 2011

Seeing is believing? Not so much: check these special effects from Game of Thrones

I loved reading the Game of Thrones series but haven’t had a chance to see the show yet (seeing as I don’t have HBO). I wondered how they’d manage the blend of commonplace with fantastic.

Very well, it turns out, and here’s a short video showing some of the visual effects done by BlueBolt. 

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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Social media is about "connections... and the ceaseless flow of time"

Insightful commentary from Paul Ford; much more at

"Social media has no understanding of anything aside from the connections between individuals and the ceaseless flow of time: No beginnings, and no endings. These disparate threads of human existence alternately fascinate and horrify that part of the media world that grew up on topic sentences and strong conclusions...

"[Franzen] tells the Kenyon 21-year-olds, who were likely texting throughout the ceremony, that they need more love. If the sub-30-year-olds with whom I've worked are typical, these young men and women love — each other, or bands, or ideas — too much, they love too often, with a feral intensity and with the constant assistance of mobile devices. Maybe what he was telling them is that they should be more old.

" speech recalls another, very different commencement speech, by Apple CEO Steven Jobs to the 2005 class of Stanford. Jobs is the embodiment of California, all gold rush, less city-on-hill. At Stanford he invoked the Whole Earth Catalog as "one of the bibles of my generation" — its cut-and-paste aesthetic, hippie cheer, and promise of access to information a balm for his late-adolescent soul. The Whole Earth Catalog was a DIY-bible assembled by former Merry Prankster Stewart Brand, far from the clanking Epiphanator. "We are as gods," reads the preface, "and we might as well get good at it."

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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Head Shots: a cartoonist's take on the debt debate

Wonder why music affects different people differently? Science may know.

Being a particular fan of both Barber and Glass, I was intrigued by these findings and what they suggest. You might be, too.

"What's that sound? It's your prolactin & dopamine talking in response to music."

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James Gleick has a useful overview of the current crop of Google books at the NYRB

Smart enough to grasp the basic issues, fair enough to summarize them and their critics, Gleick's overview -- drawn from reviews of a half-dozen current books -- is a good introduction to a subject I think needs attention: Google's march to global information hegemony. 


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GWB was president eight years and added $7 trillion to the national debt ...

... so, honestly, where were all the cries for a balanced budget amendment then? Can this kind of hypocrisy actually work on Americans? (I fear the answer is "yes.")

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Friday, July 29, 2011

An illustration for our newspaper motto in 1976: "Sacred Cows Make the Best Hamburger"


This discussion of the motto we adopted for the Alaska Advocate in 1976 is taken from my forthcoming book about the Alaska newspaper war: Write Hard, Die Free. There's a sample chapter here.

We tried to make our intentions clear. Early on we seized on a motto suggested by a Daily News colleague and attributed variously to everybody from Mark Twain to Abbie Hoffman: Sacred Cows Make the Best Hamburger. We wanted to class it up a bit, so photog and art director Ken Roberts, a seminarian in his younger days, dusted off his Latin for a rough translation:

Sacre Boves Optimus Hamburgerus Fiant. Close enough for the girls we went with.

Want to be advised about the book and exactly when next spring it will be available? Just write me at howard.weaver (at) and I'll add you to the list.

More about Howard

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"Man, fuck cancer." "Seriously."

It's hard to "like" this post about cancer, but it's powerful and well worth looking at.

via on 7/28/11

Each quarter of the lanes from left to right correspond loosely to breast cancer stages one through four (at diagnosis).

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

How "The West Wing" nailed the debt ceiling issue perfectly -- in 2005.

How The West Wing nailed the debt ceiling issue in 2005. Perfect. h/t ckrewson

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New York Times parodies its own anonymous source standards:

This anonymous source attribution in this New York Times story is like a parody: worse than no standards, this is pure laziness and expediency. Do they think we're stupid?

“There were concerns about him being named and the way he was parachuted in,” said one of these investors, speaking on condition of anonymity because he prefers not to discuss the issues with the news media. “These concerns remain.”

Share what's new…

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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Yeah, guns are the answer: 5 dead, 3 wounded at Texas roller rink shooting

Texas, of course, has some of the loosest gun laws in the country, which may have something to do with the fact that the shooter happened to be armed at a roller rink birthday party.

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Friday, July 22, 2011

Encounters with a Terrible Mind

After brief exposure, I can say two things about "terribleminds," a blog I recently encountered written by a freelancer who calls himself a "pen monkey":

1. His writing style is too frenetic and often somewhat precious for my taste; and
2. He comes up with insights I find highly original and useful to me in thinking about evolving media.

Not always, which is hardly surprising. After all, I'm just not interested in or even engaged with many of the subjects he explores. But when our interests cross, I've found him provocative and stimulating.

Like this, from a recent post mainly focused on Google+:

"Twitter isn’t for everyone. I get that. But it’s definitely my one true social media gal pal. It took the formula put out by Myspace and Facebook and flipped it on its ear. Twitter is the beat poetry version of social media. It’s some crass noisy combination of soapbox-shouting, flea-market-hawking, carnival-barking, stand-up-joke-telling, and haiku-having. It’s got the motion and madness of a city street with all its sounds and smells. Twitter is ever the low but persistent hum. I merely need to tune into its Zen frequencies for a time. It requires no massive investment. It demands little of me. I splash about in its waters like a spider monkey who has never before played in the ocean. Splish-splash.

"But — but!

"Twitter is shit for conversation."

If that resonates with you, I'd encourage you to visit the site and try his thinking on for size.


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Thursday, July 21, 2011

First time I've seen this bumper sticker (Woodinville WA)



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Deadwood meets Citizen Kane? Yes, please.!/tcarmody/status/91941258230104064

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Why partisans view mainstream mdia as biased and ideological media as objective (yes, you too)

"Perhaps the most crucial determinant of perceptions of bias in the news, however, is the extent to which news coverage is seen as disagreeing with one’s own views. Individuals who feel most strongly about an issue tend to see their own side’s views as being more a product of objective analysis and normative concerns, and less influenced by ideology, than the other side’s views (Robinson, Keltner, Ward, & Ross, 1995)."

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Friday, July 15, 2011

I'm still looking for Alaska photos

As I mentioned recently, I need your help finding photos of Alaska journalists, newspapers, politicians and the like for my forthcoming book on the Alaska Newspaper War, 1972-1992 (or shortly thereafter).

If you have anything you think might be of use, can you please contact me soonest and let me know?


howard.weaver (at)

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I'm still looking for Alaska photos

As I mentioned recently, I need your help finding photos of Alaska journalists, newspapers, politicians and the like for my forthcoming book on the Alaska Newspaper War, 1972-1992 (or shortly thereafter).

If you have anything you think might be of use, can you please contact me soonest and let me know?


howard.weaver (at)

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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Please help: I need your photos of Alaska and our newspaper war from 1972-1992

I need photographs for use in my memoir of the Alaska newspaper war between about 1972-1992. I hope some of the Alaskans who read my stuff here can help.

I'm especially interested in photos that showcase personalities from Alaska media in those years, as well as selected politicians who helped shape the news in that turbulent period. Photos illustrative of key events — building the trans-Alaska pipeline, ANCSA struggles, the Exxon Valdez spill, for instance — would also be of interest.

Payment will be modest but the credit and gratitude profuse. The book has emerged as an engaging chronicle of an important period of transition. There's some news in it, and some stories that have never been told. Readers deserve and will expect to see as well as read about it.

My book — "Write Hard, Die Free" — is due next spring and my manuscript is completed, but the publisher tells me we need at least a good catalog of available photos and illustrations in a month or so, so if you have ideas or contributions, please let me know soonest. You can contact me here or, most reliably, at howard.weaver (at)

Thanks in advance for your help. You might have just the one thing we really need to round out this portrait of a state on it's way from Wally Hickel and Jay Hammond to Sarah Palin ...

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Your mission, should you choose to accept it... (I'm in)



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Wednesday, July 06, 2011

About Casey Anthony: Convict the guilty or protect the innocent?

How smart were our Founding Fathers?

John Adams on the relative importance of convicting the guilty versus protecting the innocent: 

"It is more important that innocence be protected than it is that guilt be punished, for guilt and crimes are so frequent in this world that they cannot all be punished. But if innocence itself is brought to the bar and condemned, perhaps to die, then the citizen will say, “whether I do good or whether I do evil is immaterial, for innocence itself is no protection,” and if such an idea as that were to take hold in the mind of the citizen that would be the end of security whatsoever." via

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