Kevin Cooper

I was listening to Stacy Taylor on KOGO one evening, and the topic of Kevin Cooper was up for discussion. Stacy, who'm I'd previously considered very well informed, rational, reasonable and intelligent was on a tirade about this "scum bag". He went on about how quickly Kevin should be "fried" and how "worthless" a human being he was. You get the idea. At the time I listened, my heart pounded at the horror of the crime and a personal desire to see the perpetrator suffer a prompt and horrific death. Hell yeah, you go, Stacy!

Several days later I did a search on "Kevin Cooper". I expected to see the normal ACLU rants and NAACP propoganda that goes along with any death penalty case in which a black or hispanic is involved. I expected results leading me to Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson.

But that's not what I found. I found articles outlining various purported facts about the case. Now I'm not vouching for the credibility of any of these sources, but as I read the same exact information coming from various sources, I began to consider the possibility that these "facts" may indeed be factual.

But the facts I'm talking about are nearly impossible to comprehend. You can't believe both this set of facts and the fact that Kevin is still on death row at the same time. My psychology professor called this "cognitive dissonance" - when you come to believe in two facts or ideas that can't possibly both be true at the same time. For example, if you grew up being told that all apples were red and then one day were given an apple that was green, you would have to make a decision: either this green apple was not an apple; or, what you were originally taught was wrong. Most folks will decide that a green apple is, in fact, not an apple, unable to abandon long held beliefs.

Likewise, I (and probably others) cannot believe that police and lawyers and jurors and judges could ever allow an obviously innocent man to go to the gas chamber. So we disregard any and all evidence to the contrary because it must be wrong.

Personally, I usually find it easy to abandon things that I've long held true if someone presents me with a "green apple". And as I read more and more about this case, I began to question more and more the integrity of the conviction.

If even a handful of the claims I'm referring to are true, Kevin Cooper is not "guilty beyond a reasonable doubt" even by Bill Clinton's dictionary.

I have been a strong believer in the death penalty. But I've realized that this belief has a major flaw: my presumption that everyone on death row is guilty. There have been some awesome stories of death row inmates being cleared by DNA and other evidence. It is proven that inmates on death row are not always guilty. And is it worth risking the life of one innocent man to kill 1 truly guilty man? No? How many guilty men would it take to justify the taking of a single innocent life. I can't answer that. There is no correct answer to that question. Would you die so that 1 guilty man would be put to death?

Well, I can't support the death penalty after the results of my latest thinking on the topic. And I would consider it unconscionable to put to death Kevin Cooper given the overwhelming amount of doubt in his case.

I won't go in to all of these various "doubts" here. Instead, I'd suggest you'd read this this summary of the case or any of the countless websites dedicated to freeing Kevin Cooper.

And as far as Stacy Taylor goes? He's lost all my respect. He is just another ranting talk show host who pretends to work with facts but in reality simply excretes his personal biases. Shame on you Stacy.

I'd appreciate it if you'd post a comment here after reading some of these articles. I'd like to know if others have the same reaction to this situation that I did.

Potential Devastation for IE

A newly found flaw in Microsoft's Internet Explorer could have devastating effects.

This new flaw makes every link on the Internet a potential source of infection for unsuspecting Winblows users. While I'm always happy to see aspects of Microsoft's inferiority revealed, I'm not looking forward to the impact this new flaw may have.

Depending on how wary a user is of downloads of common filetypes (such as .pdf or .doc) might be, this new flaw could allow a malicious programmer to seed any number of computers with a program that does anything he wants. This is an entirely new breed of vulnerability.

Traditionally, computer users could rely on "smarts" to prevent trouble. Users have been trained not to open unexpected or otherwise suspicious email attachments. But now all a user has to do is click on a link. If a user clicks on a "known" file type (.pdf, .doc, .xls), this new flaw would allow a perp to sneak itself on to the users drive as a known file type but then actually execute anything the miscreant author desires.

This is bad. This is not good. This could very well be a boon for Linux and other real OSs that are smarter than to fall for this type of thing.

I don't want to see unsuspecting users falling victim, but then, the sooner we can evolve to an OS other than MS Win!DOH!s, the better off our world will be.

Harry Slaughter

A Letter to CDF: Why San Diego Burned

While the recent devastating fires in San Diego were beyond belief in themselves, what is more incredible is the CDFs part in the proliferation of these fires.

I'm not referencing any sources in my claims, however, I do believe that the following statements are entirely true based on news reports, anecdotal evidence, and my own observations. Additionally, all my criticisms are limited to the Cedar Fire, though I'm sure much of the same CDF neglect and counter-productivity can be referenced in the various other fires that raged throughout the state recently.

The New Diamond Age

During a break in the conference, a man approached Linares and told him to be careful. "He said that my father's research was a good way to get a bullet in the head"...

Danger and intrigue, circuitous tips to secret labs, international hustlers and secret deals... A new Ludlum novel? No, it's the damn diamond industry when threatened with the emergence of **real** diamonds that are man made.
This is a great little article. Well worth the read:

Wired 11.09: The New Diamond Age

Do Not Call List Debuts

Slashdot reports the federal "do not call list" goes live today. However, you may have to wait a day or two to check it out. is probably getting hit very hard today. I couldn't access it.

You can also get info on state laws here.

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