Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Pit bull attacks

Seems like almost every day there is some new report in the news about a pit bull attack.

The latest involved an attack on a puppy in the arms of a Rochester Hills boy that owned the smaller dog.http://bit.ly/bQCGn4

The general response seems divided into two camps. One that pit bulls are a dangerous breed and should be banned. Another is that it is not the breed, but the training of the dog that brings out such vicious behavior.

But there must be some sort of problem, or these attacks would not be so common.

Maybe it has to do with the reputation of the breed attracting the sort of owners who tend to raise their dogs to be aggressive.

But, whatever the reason, it seems ridiculous that people can't walk about in public without having to fear of being attacked by dogs.

Some folks also get upset at the thought of people openly carrying sidearms. The arguments against guns point out that people with weapons tend to hurt others. The opposing argument is that people tend to be more civil to people with weapons.

Two problems and two sets of interpretations.

But in this case, the pit bulls would not have been a problem if the owners of the puppy had been armed.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Jury duty and new media

Better watch out what you say on Facebook if you are a juror. One in Mount Clemens commented that the defendant in the trial she was attending was guilty, and the trial was not over. Juror may end up doing jail time.

The instructions given to jurors include warnings not to discuss the trial with anyone. Posting on Facebook is not only a discussion -- but one with a lot of people, and it is right out there for everyone to see.

One more instance of people who use social media and do not realize that it has much larger reach than casual conversation, and once it is posted, it is very hard to pull it back.

However, there is another side to jurors and social media. I was happy to discover during my own recent call to jury duty, that the pool of potential jurors can use cell phones and laptops while waiting in the jury room. This is a major improvement and takes some of the sting out of being called.

And while I say sting, I do not mean any disrespect for the juror system. I rather enjoy being called and getting away from the normal routine for a while. And I do find it disappointing that I am seldom chosen for a jury -- they seem to shun journalists.

But permit me to make one observation here. The only people in the judicial system who do not make money from it are the defendants (some of them, anyway) and the jurors. Compensation for jury duty is a joke -- particularly when you consider how many people now are self-employed, or contract workers. Jury pay is based on the notion that most jurors would be taking time off from work, still collecting their regular pay, and getting a little something extra for their time and trouble.

When the judge charges court expenses -- it should include fair compensation for the jurors.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The rush to medical marijuana

Well, it has not been exactly a rush. There was a lot of interest and a few shops did open, but many communities here in Oakland County responded by enacting moratoriums on the creation of medical marijuana shops, fearing that there was a recreational aspect involved.

And Wednesday the Oakland County narcotics teams raided two medical pot shops -- one in Waterford and one in Ferndale -- arrested people and seized records and stuff. The cops suspect that the customers are not all legitimate patients.

However, Michigan voters did approve the sale of medical marijuana.

That in itself was surprising in a state that still has limited blue laws.

It is also indicative of the changes in the wind. The baby boomers, many of whom are former pot-smoking hippies, are maturing into their retirement years. They have all the aches and pains associated with old age and are entering retirement. They are, perhaps, mellowing in their attitudes toward former activities.

As the Mommas and Pappas said in the song: "In L.A. you know where that's at."

Just this week, Ferndale lifted their moratorium on medical pot sales.

My prediction is that such shops, once the questions of legality are sorted out, will do a brisk business, probably better than the recently folded seller of used garments for drag queens.

I will also predict that other communities in Oakland, particularly in the hip and urban south, will follow the trend and the money.

We do, after all, need all the revenue we can get.

Anyway, check out the comments on the story about the bust at http://tinyurl.com/27qd7sj

Friday, August 6, 2010

Fish Story

So far, scientists have studied one Asian carp captured beyond the electronic barriers on the Chicago waterways that are supposed to keep such fish out of the Great Lakes.
And surprise, surprise, the fish appears to have been living in Lake Calumet, just miles from the Big Lake, for most of its life.
The theories of how it got there include one that it was dumped there by a fisherman emptying his bait pail. That is because small Asian carp sometimes are netted and sold for bait.
This is heady stuff.
Five states have been filing legal suits to permanently shut down the shipping connection between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi. The cost of cutting off that shipping lane is in the billions and would further damage the Midwest economy.
I am all in favor of stopping invasive species getting into the Great Lakes, but so far our track record for blocking them has been not so good.
And now we are going to risk the loss of billions in trade, and then discover that the fishermen we are trying to protect are the source of the invasive species?
Perhaps we should first crack down on the bait business.