My reading adventures of the week:

During family gatherings I hear elders muse about an uncle’s Law practice: does he remain true and steadfast to his Christian beliefs while defending someone? Lately on Facebook, a cousin posted a shout-out saying Criminal Law was killing her. If she passes the bar she will be another lawyer in the family.  The oldies are sort of bothered. I am detached. Back in Blogsville I was returning a visit from a co-blogger when my thoughts took on a new turn while reading her post. She goes by the name Mama Zen

During his 15 years on death row, the defendant had become a Christian and started a thriving prison ministry. How nice. The attorneys arguing for clemency chose to focus on this angle to the practical exclusion of all else. In essence, they were trying to turn the murderer into a hero. Before I had even met the defendant, I had problems with this approach. First, it completely ignored the shortcomings of the original trial. Second, well, it glossed over an ugly truth. In my Bible Belt state, the conversion to Christianity might be given favorable consideration that would never be given to a big black man who became a devout member of the Nation of Islam. It’s unfair as hell, but I knew that it was the truth. That made me squirm.

After spending some time with the defendant, I was even more uncomfortable with his cannonization. It was all bull****. The man was a sociopath, pure and simple. A murderer who had blown people away with a shotgun to see what it felt like. No other reason. Sociopaths don’t “get better,” and they damned sure don’t become saints.

I shouldn’t have cared. A good attorney argues whatever will benefit her client; this is not a philosophical exercise. But, I did care. And, I recognized that I always would. So, I left the courtroom and never looked back.

A few updates are sent to me via email by a friend working with nukes. I appreciate not having to be subjected to heart rending images in the course of researching to get an idea of things. From JEH:
Japanese nuclear engineering frankly is quite simple in the overview of things. Their main problem stems from the fact that the cooling water system has broken down and the back up failed. In the UK we have what is known as a third back up which put simply is our own ground water bore hole system that can be tapped straight away from our own source. We incorporated the system to save money because it just comes up from the ground beneath our feet. Unfortunately the Japs do not have this and the reactor has heated up to dangerous levels of toxicity thus causing what they call a “meltdown.”  The NII have given this emergency as a level 4 nuclear alert. Chernobyl was given a level 7 and that was catastrophic as its release contaminated the whole western hemisphere.

In school, one motivation to love literature that our professors emphasize was beauty of the language.  To take my mind off troubles around I entered a gateway to a better world.  Here’s a phrase which paints a pretty picture, by Matsuo Basho, c. 1689 On Love and Barley: Haiku of Basho, no. 166 (translated by Lucien Stryk)

Orchidöbreathing incense into butterfly’s wings…