Monday, November 09, 2009
Today the Supreme Court discussed whether sentences of life without parole are unconstitutional when applied to juveniles. Alito said some of the little shits just deserve it, describing several cases “so horrible that I couldn’t have imagined them if I hadn’t actually seen them,” such as “raping an 8-year-old girl and burying her alive.” I presume he didn’t “actually see” that. Scalia said, “One of the purposes is retribution... And I don’t know why the value of retribution diminishes to the point of zero when it’s a person who’s, you know, 17 years, 9 months old.” The reports do not say if he drooled a little as he uttered the phrase “the value of retribution” but I think we all know he did.
The rest of this post is 100-years-ago-today news (despite my use of the present tense).
Pres. Taft has completed a 56-day, 13,000-mile road trip that covered 33 states and territories. Today -100, the mayor of Wilmington, NC named Taft an “honorary Tar Heel” for life, which sounds painful. 1,500 Wilmington school children formed the shape of a flag. He also “proceeded to another section of the city, where he reviewed the negro children,” who seem not to have collectively formed any particular shape.
Taft congratulated North Carolina on having the second-highest percentage of farmers. “You do not have large cities, and I do not think that a defect at all in your civilization. The fact is, that the tendency toward concentration of population in the cities is a tendency that ought to be restrained.”
Following the divorce of the Astors, some are condemning the secrecy of certain divorce proceedings in NY (a procedure affordable by the rich but not the poor), but NY Supreme Court Justice Bischoff thinks testimony should remain secret, saying it is sufficient that the name of the guilty party be published: “He is thus condemned among respectable people.” Justice Gerard also opposes “putting a lot of sickening details... before the public.” Justice McCall believes the full publication of testimony, “while bringing the innocent to the deepest humiliation, the notoriety would be actually pleasing to the depraved persons whose conduct and violation of the most sacred vows made divorce possible.”
Robert Simpson died while under hypnosis during an exhibition of that art at the Somerville (NJ) Opera House. It might not have helped that the hypnotist, a “Professor” Arthur Everton, stood on Simpson’s stomach while he was under. Hypnotists and mesmerists from all over the country have been offering advice on how to wake him up (a telegram from someone signing himself simply “Svengali” counseled “Suggest heart action to subject.”) Some of them even traveled to the morgue to try their luck. William E. Davenport of Newark, “an amateur hypnotist of some note” tried “alternately whispering and shouting invitations to him to come to life. ‘Bob, your heart action – attend. Listen, Bob, your heart action is strong. Bob, your heart begins to beat. Bob, [loud] do you hear me? Bob, [whispering,] your heart is starting.’” But nothing. “Professor” Everton was arrested (although they allowed him to try to awaken Mr. Simpson for several hours more) and is likely to be charged with manslaughter. A leading authority on hypnotism, Columbia University Professor Emeritus John Quackenbos (as perfect a name for a leading authority on hypnotism as you are likely to find), suggests that he might argue that Simpson was actually in suspended animation and was killed by the autopsy.