Today's Blogs

Devils in the Details

Bloggers pore over the latest evidence in the Duke University rape case. They also comment on the Pluto’s demotion to dwarf planet and on the latest, racially tinged iteration of the CBS reality show Survivor.

Devils in the details: The New York Times has gained access to 1,850 pages of evidence in the trial of three Duke lacrosse players for the alleged rape of a stripper. The Times published a massive analysis of the evidence, largely sympathetic to the prosecution.

Supporters of the prosecution are ecstatic. Novelist and rape survivor Marcella Chester of abyss2hope thinks the article puts a dent into what she says is a sinister agenda of the prosecution’s naysayers. “What’s being attempted by those who attack this alleged victim is also being attempted against many other rape victims individually and as a group,” she writes, “All of us who have spoken up and said, ‘I was also a rape victim,’ are part of the conspiracy against men – who of course have done nothing that should be a crime.”

The anonymous “cat lady” at Reverse Paranoia believes that “the piece proves what will come as no surprise to anyone with a brain: the defense team these Good Old Boys bought has been ruthless in their exaggeration of this case’s supposed flimsiness.”

But the prosecution’s skeptics believe the report provides more questions than answers.  “My first question is just how did the New York Times get the entire discovery file?” wonders defense attorney Jeralyn Merritt of TalkLeft.

Conservative Tom Maguire of JustOneMinute is curious about a discrepancy between two police accounts of the accuser’s description of her alleged assailants—and about the veracity of one of them. “[A]lcohol, flexeril, other drugs, and/or rape trauma had left the woman so confused that she appeared to be intoxicated shortly after the alleged rape, yet she was able to deliver three detailed descriptions strangely audible to only one of the two investigators,” he notes.

Conservative Bull Dog Pundit at group blog Ankle Biting Pundits doubts the veracity of a set of highly detailed notes that were produced by an officer who had claimed to have taken few handwritten notes. “The fact that these notes and reports weren’t turned over until recently leads to the obvious conclusion that they weren’t prepared until AFTER the first batches of evidence were turned over, especially when those previous batches of discovery material contained evidence very damaging to the prosecution,” concludes Bull Dog Pundit.

Read more about the Duke case.

Pluto booted: The International Astronomical Union voted Thursday to categorize Pluto as a “dwarf planet”—thus reducing the number of planets in the solar system to eight.

Many are mourning the planet’s demotion. “What happened to the concept of being ‘grandfathered’?” freelance writer Bijan Bayne of Pop Culture asks. Astronomy grad student KDM of moody7277 thinks the whole process silly. “The whole attempt to make a consistent definition of a planet has been fraught with peril, and resulted in things no one ever thought of as a planet being included (Ceres) or the current result,” he writes.

Others are concerned about the practical implication of the IAU’s move. “I’m not even really all that sure what having 8 planets instead of 9 DOES for anyone but the guys that publish Science textbooks, because now they’re going to get a pretty penny re-publishing all those books for the kids,” comments conservative James of  Right On! Web designer Jason Kottke of hosted a contest to devise a new mnemonic device for the solar system. “The mnemonic could work for either the new 8 planet line-up, the 8 major + 3 dwarf planets, or the old 9 planet arrangement in protest of Pluto’s demotion,” explained Kottke. The winner? “My! Very educated morons just screwed up numerous planetariums.”

Foreign policy analyst Suzanne Nossel, guest-blogging at the Washington Monthly’s Political Animal, declares the space age over. “For people born in the 1950s, 60s and 70s exploration of the universe was the most exciting and dramatic thing conceivable, and Pluto was the outer edge of that frontier,” she expains. “Maybe the thrill of outer space was bound to be fleeting,” she continues, “But the downgrading of Pluto is a reminder of how long gone it is.

Read more about Pluto’s demotion.

Tribal conflict: The 13th season of Survivor will add a new twist: Tribes in Cook Island will be assigned by race. There will be four tribes, each consisting solely of whites, blacks, Hispanics, or Asians. New York city councilman John Liu is trying to get CBS to pull the show.

Many are joining Liu in his outrage. “Now I know why I don’t watch Survivor,” declares romance novelist Catherine Wade of Post Script. “I’m not sure what bothers me more,” ponders Kentuckian Eilir Rowan of The Rabid Librarian’s Ravings in the Wind, “The show playing the race card or the fact that it’s entering it’s 13th seaso[n].

Others think it a great idea. Radio host Neal Boortz of Nealz Nuze finds “nothing in the world wrong with ethnic pride .. and this is all about ethnic pride.” Michael Turk at Kung Fu Quip predicts great TV, saying Cook Island will “make reality TV a lot more interesting than the sterilized crap that it has become.”

Read more about Survivor: Cook Island.

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