West Memphis Three

These three notoriously have probably been wrongfully convicted of the murder of three boys.
There is a certain irony in the story that the supporters of the three are quite willing to imply that two of the stepfathers of the children may be involved, involving much the same flawed reasoning as leads police to wrongful convictions.
This is a good time for the governor to step in and end the fight because it is bringing justice into disrepute.
The deficiency with the new DNA evidence is that while it is possible that the presence of a hair could have affected a jury it is probably just innocent transfer of a hair as the prosecution have been suggesting.  The order of a new trial would be a new trial on everything of course, not just the hair evidence, the hair is just the wedge to get in there although in substance it is a weak argument.  It also will have the side effect of drawing attention to somebody that likely had no more to do with the murders than the existing wrongfully accused and even though an Order for a new trial won’t be any finding against him it will be seen as a conviction in public opinion.
More to the point is that the jury of the trial had been told of the bogus Misskelley confession although it was inadmissible, which almost certainly led to the convictions.  As far as I can see I’ve seen no published report anywhere showing any evidence other than the Misskelley confession that would save the prosecution from a “no evidence” motion, and that confession was inadmissible and not part of the evidence at trial.
One of the other fathers, John Mark Byers, has also been scrutinized but I have doubts about his involvement with one significant asterisk for both him and the other father.
In assessing prospects you look at motive, opportunity and character.   Character doesn’t usually get mentioned with the other two but it ought to be.   One of the typical hallmarks of wrongful convictions is when the accused has no prior record or no record of violent offences.  Such cases should usually get another look even if the prosecutors and other law enforcement involved don’t have a specific track record of dubious practices.  They are just inherently suspect unless the case is very cut and dried.
None of the names put out there, either the convicted or alternates, have any seriously advanced motive.   The “satanic rites” idea is absurd, in the highly unlikely event of such a rite, one would expect it to be more elaborate than people being bonked on the head and tossed in a river to drown.  What kind of wussy satanist would do that?  It just sounds like nonsense to prejudice the jury pool.
The time of death suggested by the defence experts is actually favorable to the fathers involved.   Why initiate a search which you will be involved in, with others, hours before?  It would greatly increase the chances of getting caught.
The father Byers had some violence in his history but for all practical purposes nothing that could reasonably be seen as a precursor to this kind of violence.  The defendant Misskelley had a history of being a bully at school but the number of bullies that turn into serial killers is quite small.
Motive is a big issue.  The “satanist” babble is not believable.   None of the actual or prospective defendants have any realistic proposed motive for this kind of act.
The asterisk is that a few weeks before the murders Christopher Byers’ mother had called his school about possible sexual abuse.  If the three victims were also victims of something else there could be incentive for somebody to do a cover up.
The essence of the crime is that it looks klutzy and desparate.   Christopher Byers was dealt with by far the most savagely and the other two may have just been in the wrong place at the wrong time, or it could be that they were co-victims of some other crime and he was given the worse treatment because of his mother’s call.    Predators unknown to victims usually go after one alone.   That is logical because the more people are around the more things might go wrong.  Going after three at once is a lot riskier.  If the victims were known on the other hand all three could have been lured into a dwelling or vehicle or other confined space and controlled by one attacker with less risk.
Then if murder was the objective, it was risky to hold on to them for hours.  A possible semen stain was found on the clothing of one victim although testing could not confirm that.  The river may have been used to get rid of forensic evidence and the delay could have been for purposes that are unpleasant.
Keeping the victims alive at the river bank where there was later a cursory search, for many hours, would be a great risk of exposure.   Transportation to that spot later would be a great risk of exposure as well.   The dump site looks really desparate.  Did the killer(s) believe that there was a significant risk of being targeted later for search, to the point where acting immediately was more important than taking the time to come up with a better plan?
The only way that I would see it as being one of the fathers would be if one of them had a history of abusing boys, and a predator with that lack of self control would not have just 3 victims in one highly escalated event.  Given the scrutiny they’ve been under I would expect any accusations would have already come to light.
It could also be that the killer volunteered with the search and directed the search to an area that he already had planned as a dump site in the hope that nobody would go back over the same territory. Then he would come up with some pretence to retire early and come back.  It would still be a risk.
So option 1 that I’d be looking at is the predators in or from the area.
Another possibility is that John Byers as a police informant had angered the wrong people and somebody wanted to send him a message which would explain why his son got the worst.
Or it could have been intended to involve ransoming and somebody panicked.
The three co-defendants are unlikely to be the perpetrators.  Misskelley couldn’t even confess properly when he was trying to make a false confession.  He almost certainly had nothing to do with it.
Given that there is no evidence that the other two defendants had anything to do with the crime I would have thought that the prosecution would vacate the convictions.   In other cases where prosecutions resist overturning wrongful convictions there is usually something indicating guilt but here there isn’t any eyewitness that is probably wrong or similar thing to be loyal to.  They’ve got some guy Dale Griffiths purporting to be a cult expert who for some reason was allowed to give evidence, but that has about the same standing as seeking to admit the evidence of a psychic.  In any event, the evidence on which his report on his intuitions as bases has been refuted.
Some conclusions by Dale Griffiths are asinine, such as that damage to the left side of the body of one victim is a sign of satanic something or other.   Either that or the victim was facing the perp and the perp was right handed, not an infrequent occurrence.  I haven’t the faintest idea why the prosecution would call such a person or why the court would allow him to be certified as an expert.  http://callahan.8k.com/wm3/ebtrial/dgriffis.html http://www.tylwythteg.com/lawguide/griffis.html
I wouldn’t believe that there was any satanic conspiracy here, if I were going to make any conspiracy theory at all it would be that the perpetrator was connected and had three innocents railroaded.  More likely it is just incompetence, but you have to wonder when there isn’t even an argument that the accused are guilty.  If they just happened to pick the guilty parties at random that would be quite a coincidence.

Why Cowboys may never have another Superbowl- endorse gross breach of discipline

Check out this link with the team backing up the retard who thinks he’s something special, demanding that somebody else carry his shoulder pads.
If I were the coach and somebody pulled that kind of stunt I would be in his face and he’d be carrying the OTHER guy’s shoulder pads for the rest of the season to make a point.
Four years ago he had one elite season but on the whole his career is rather ordinary:
Of course his salary is elite and so now he’s a princess.
If you want a Superbowl winner you can’t be tolerating frat house hijinx, least of all anything where some guy who hasn’t proven anything starts taking on airs.  Supposedly the more talented new guy was given the option of buying dinner or doing the team dishes.  If I were the coach I would have been all over the prima donna Williams and in his face instead.   You can’t have some players deciding they’re more special than other players.  That’s the opposite of leadership.  Let them think that way and they don’t think they have to prove anything and they’ll generate internal conflicts.  Let it go to their heads and it will start to carry over off the field, and before you know it you’ve got “Big Ben” from the Steelers, who maybe should have the nickname “Dumb Ben” instead.
The more I see of the NFL the more I think the whole culture there has to change, from the general managers and the coaches to the players.  There’s no point in having a personal conduct policy if you’re going to encourage an immature frat house atmosphere even in your own presence.  You’ll put something in motion that will get out of control sometimes.
And then there are the managers that treat the draft like scratch and win lottery tickets.
The whole sport needs to grow up, and whoever does it first is going to have a huge advantage.

Gravity variations near volcanoes interesting

Check out the link here.  That there are stronger gravitational fields at volcanic areas is something that is most interesting, especially with the areas of Indonesia and near Iceland being the strongest.   That doesn’t look accidental.   If these shift over time it may turn out to be a good predictor of eruptions.
It had also crossed my mind before that it would be interesting to see if heat affects gravity as gravity behaves in a lot of ways like any other kind of emission and it would be interesting to see if heat would increase gravity much like it increases black body radiation.   Or, instead of gravity being some totally different wave or particle such as “gravitons” [which are as circular an explanation as gravity itself], it could be a component of radiation that is already known but acting in a way which is not well understood, perhaps even a component of black body radiation.  We don’t have to automatically invent a new wave or force or particle every time we don’t understand something.  Oakham’s razor would suggest looking first at what we already know exists before positing something else.    If you have phenomena A that you know nothing about and you propose that this is somehow explained by phenomena B which you also know nothing about, that leaves two mysteries instead of one and the possibility of spending a lot of time going in circles chasing your tail if phenomena B is balderdash.   There is nothing inherently constructive about that process unless the conceptual framework leads to specific predictions that can be tested.
In any case, if there is an increase in gravity where there is more magma, unless the mass in the location is greater, you may be left with the question of how it is that the same mass seems to be producing a stronger gravitational field and question whether the greater heat has something to do with it.   Of course if the mass is greater that would be interesting as well.    There are a number of island volcanoes in the otherwise non-descript higher gravity area to the south of Africa too.
And then there is the curious lower gravitational field in the Indian Ocean just south of India, in an area where not much of anything seems to happen.  It would be interesting to see if there is anything unique about that area.

One more reason to be happy to be living in an English speaking country

In my experience it’s a truism that things that “never happen” always happen eventually and when they do it is usually spectacularly bad because nobody is prepared for it.
One of those things is both the main and the reserve parachutes not opening properly is supposed to be a rare event, although I think the death rate from skydiving is something like 1 in 10,000.
So there is a marquee trial going on in Belgium on that kind of issue:
I hate marquee trials.   Police and prosecutors showboat and it gets hard for them to stand back.  They are more likely to fudge things.  That can lead to “wrongful acquitals” like OJ if the jury no longer has faith in the process.   A greater concern though is that marquee trials lead to wrongful convictions at a horrific rate.
Much of the problem is likely cop selection.  Traditionally cops are the guys that were jocks or bullies in high school.   You aren’t going to see too many of the nerd cops that you see on TV in real life.  Having to spend 3-5 years as a beat or patrol cop tackling bad guys at the outset is a good way to get a nerd thumped and out permanently on compo.   If you want TV nerd cops in practice you have to create a separate entry stream for them so they can get where they belong without having to go where they don’t belong first.   And people that you would want on patrol aren’t the people you would want on homicide, and vice versa.   Jocks are emotional, aggressive, sometimes intimidating- and sometimes rash.
Anyways, back to the above story, it certainly sounds plausible but I’d want something a little stronger than that to push a case forward.
It took them two months before there was evidence they thought suggested homicide, and that was from the head cam of somebody spinning out of control and whatever it caught of materials flapping away while going through the air at terminal velocity.
For that to be useable it must be quite some headcam, with the data surviving the crash and all, on top of many hand recorders not being very good under even ordinary conditions.   I would expect that the admissibility of digitally “enhanced” images may be an issue.  Where enhancement becomes creation is an interesting problem.
In any event, if it took two months for them to sort that mess out with the same evidence they started with, it doesn’t sound very clear cut.
The alleged victim was a mother of two who was having an affair with another of the skydivers, i.e. who was not her husband.  He in turn was having (at least) one other affair with the alleged killer.  A fourth person was present at the fatal jump whose exact association with the various parties is unclear and not reported on, although if the known three were amoral adrenaline addicts I don’t think they met the fourth at a bridge club.
I have to wonder if the toxicology screen has been made available to the defence.   Amoral adrenaline addicts frequently aren’t clean and if somebody’s hopped up they shouldn’t be packing a parachute.   I’m surprised given the self selection for skydiving that the stats aren’t worse.   The types that would go out skydiving for fun aren’t the types that I would trust to do it.
I also have to wonder about DNA, somebody impulsive enough to cut cords and cover the backup chute, which would lead right back to her, probably wouldn’t use gloves and there is a possibility of some trace evidence there.
I’d also wonder about the state of repair of the chute.  It was a personal parachute brought by the skydiver who had gone skydiving many times, and sooner or later there was bound to be an accident from poor maintenance and replacement from a situation like that.  A professional business running a skydiving operation would probably be paranoid about such things but ordinary people get sloppy, especially if they’ve done something many times before without problems.
The evidence that’s been disclosed publically doesn’t look like enough to commit a person to trial, it looks like one of those cases where a prosecutor hopes that the jury will think “the defendant probably did it and they sound like a whack job anyways so I’m going to convict”.
Considering that the accused had previously tried to run down an ex boyfriend with her car it certainly does sound suspicious.
On the other hand, as with another European case with a number of suspect hospital deaths, where an accused was convicted of multiple murders only to be released on appeal because there was no evidence of murder, step A is determining if a crime has been committed.    I haven’t seen enough so far to be convinced of that with the parachute case.   That hospital case was another marquee case.    A conviction without evidence of a crime.  I hate marquee cases.
The situation is terrible in the English speaking world as we have many of our own wrongful convictions on notoriously weak cases.  On the other hand that terrible situation is the best in the world.  That is one reason why we have such a high standard of proof and presumption of innocence, it is what maintains wrongful convictions at the level of a flood rather than an ocean.
The European continental system is a little different.  The one feature that we might be able to use more of is involving judges in the investigative process, although that can lead to blurring of the lines between judge and prosecutor if the judge is of the view that he is only investigating one side of the case.  If the judge compels investigation of all sides of a case that can be a good thing, and not something that can be effectively done with our system.
On the other hand, the European system is notorious for putting a lot of pressure on people to prove their innocence and even foisting the costs of an unsuccessful prosecution on the defendant in some countries.
The wierdest is probably Spain with their theory of universal jurisdiction and magistrates there purporting to have the power to cure all of the evil in the world whether it has anything to do with Spain or not and issuing warrants accordingly.
And then there is the infamous Knox trial with the prosecution’s preposterous theory of the case that sounds like something out of a very bad made for TV movie.
I would like to see more cases from mainland Europe where it sounds like the job is done up to the English/Canadian/US/Australian systems’ professionalism, but every time I see this kind of case from Europe I’m cringing instead.
That isn’t to say that I necessarily think that either Amanda Knox or this other woman in the parachute case are innocent, rather when I look at the published evidence I think, this is it?

Good time for Timothy Dalton to apply for custody?

I figure Dalton and Gibson ought to be tag teaming against their ex.
 
 
So now it comes out that she had texted that she made the recordings because she wasn’t getting enough money. 
 
Why isn’t she in jail for extortion again?
 
And a $15,000,000 settlement wasn’t enough for her.  I guess she figured if she got 15 million that easy that if she kept at it she might get 100. 
 
Here is my view: that she has the focus to hurt herself in order to create a story so she can get more money, and looks like she may have coached a child to back her story, should be a major concern.   She has a personality type where in my view she is likely to hurt her children or others if she perceives it to be to her advantage.  
 
In my view, I see there more evil than Teresa Lewis. 
 
Dalton ought to be applying for sole custody of his kid with the woman before the child is hurt or irreparable harm is done to his moral character.
 
Unless she’s had a head injury, this type of behaviour wouldn’t develop overnight.  There’ll be some kind of a history there and people ought to be poking around in her past.  My guess is they find something. 
 
 

First reliable information on particle concentrations in deeper space

Here is an interesting article about information that has likely been misinterpreted:
Deep space probes are getting slowed down at a fairly consistent rate outside the regular solar system.
I don’t see any reason to posit a new force, the problem is the whole concept of “space” is misleading as space isn’t a thing let alone an empty thing.
Figure out the density of particles (in terms of mass) required to cause the size of the measured effect and you’ll have figured out something far more important than the discovery of some small previously unknown force.

Appeal court mistake

 
One of the fundamentals of contract law is that that you can’t unilaterally add terms later.
 
The appeal court in the above citation has missed that point. 
 
In most jurisdictions now I think you can’t return a software product after having opened the box. 
 
For a software developer to purport to add terms to a contract when the item is non-returnable is a violation of basic contract law. 
 
That companies purport to do so is something that ought to be prosecuted as fraudulent.   I have had grave concerns for a long time about inserts in products whether computer software or otherwise that exist for the sole purpose of giving customers false legal advice.   I strongly feel that should be prohibited and prosecuted, and probably is technically a violation of consumer protection laws in many jurisdictions although nothing is ever done about it. 
 
It does not help if the court elects to uphold these bogus contract add ons.    It sets a terrible precedent where consumers may be financially committed without being entitled to know all the terms of the contract in advance.   Big companies already couldn’t be trusted not to take advantage with the law as it was.  
 
In many cases the software company doesn’t have standing, where a computer game is sold by a business to a consumer the software company isn’t even a party to the contract and has no standing to take any position on what the consumer does with it provided there is no copyright violation.   Where there is in effect a three or more party contract because the game is unworkable without an online service that may be more complicated, but if the box warrants that the online service comes with the product I don’t see the software provider as having standing to change things.
 
Subscription services would have to be looked at on their own facts as they can get more complicated where the purchaser is on notice that separate arrangements with the software company will be required.
 
Online purchases can avoid the above issue if there is full disclosure of the contract prior to software being paid for.   After it is paid for it is too late even if there is a refund policy- consumers should not have to chase businesses to get their money back due to late disclosure of material facts. 
 
The decision is horrible for consumers and will likely open the door to abuse in other areas because it is no longer required in that jurisdiction for consumers to know all of the terms of contracts that they will be bound by.    When businesses regularly flought the law in this manner the appropriate action is not to validate it with some rationalization like that everybody is doing it, but to strike down the practice and prosecute it vigorously as purporting to add new terms to contracts in this manner is a deceptive business practice. 
 
I hope there is an appeal to the US Supreme Court and this gets overturned. 
 
If software companies want to sell licences instead of software then they should be compelled to do so in a way that doesn’t violate contract law.