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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

America's Shameful "Criminal Justice" Cartel

America's prison system and our entire system of "criminal justice" is broken. This is what happens when you allow private industry to handle certain functions that only government should be running, and even then with rotating civilian oversight such that no one person is on the oversight committee so long as to become inured to the faults. 

Our prison system is an abomination for a "civilized" republic, although it might in fact be a sign that our republic has lost its civilization.

Cops, prosecutors, DAs, judges, jailers, prison corporations, therapists, counselors, more cops, lawyers, bail bondsmen, legal aides, paralegals, even more cops... It's an industry that's out of hand and largely out of sight. It rests on its laurels despite the fact that they were stolen rather than earned. Our prison system has always been broken, and it's gotten even worse.

Add to this that conservatives in states all over the country slashed budgets for state-run hospitals for the mentally ill back in the early-90s. I know; I lived 5 blocks from the Oregon State Hospital in Salem, Oregon, when they released into for-profit group homes people who immediately turned to drugs and alcohol and prostitution in order to get them. Immediately! 

The group homes were sties. Piles of dirty laundry all over, unwashed linens, feces, urine, half-eaten food... But the Almighty Dollars flowed into the right pockets and the plight of the residents got even worse. Plus, our little quiet neighborhood with a mix of owner-occupied and rentals suddenly turned into the loony ward, judging from the sounds one heard at night. Rentals were suddenly filled with 6-8 residents at 10 times the rental rates the absentee owners had commanded before, but no work was done on them and they looked like...mental wards.

These people can't help themselves. Most of the time, they don't even understand what's happening to them, and sometimes they don't fully grasp why they were incarcerated to start with. Oh, the monied criminal justice cartel owners don't give a damn about these people or any inmates for that matter. They pay lip-service to wanting to help, but that help comes with a hefty price tag and a hold-harmless contract that makes damn sure they'll never be held responsible for anything that happens to the inmates. 

Think about how you would feel if you were put into solitary confinement for a month. Now think about how bad it would be if you were already agitated, fearful, terror-filled even, and that happened to you. These people are someone's sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and grandchildren. 

This isn't punishment. This is torture. 

Conservatism: An Anchor In The Stream Of Time

The nature of conservatism is that it drops anchor in the stream of time and wants to hold onto a specific era. Time, however, continues its inexorable march forward at the rate of one second per second. But like an anchor that's attached with a giant bungee cord and has reached the end of its stretch, we're being snatched backwards by people who can see the writing on the wall for their archetypal dogma; it has an expiration date on it and that date is rapidly approaching.

Conservatism is a relic of a time that we're moving beyond. For a hundred thousand years, humans and our ancestors have been held back by it, checked from making progress by it, and thwarted from moving the race from ignorance to illumination by it.

For the past several hundred years, brilliant people who could see a light in the darkness have sacrificed their own blood in order to bring us the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, the French Revolution, the American Revolution, the Space Age, the Great Society, and the Occupy movement.

But there have always been those who fear change and it's they who stand in the way of Progress, still.

Maybe it's time for an American Spring

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Don't F*ck With America's Crazy Crown; We pwn This Bitch!

There's an entire underground bunker complex of weapons-grade Crazy just waiting to be let loose upon unsuspecting Independents. 

I think most of the Left has had an anti-Crazy vaccination, and of course the Right had a Crazy vaccination...with daily boosters courtesy of Faux Noise... but it's the Indies I fear for. The Crazy propaganda machine is already gearing up for a Hillary run in 3 years, and the thought of Bill back in the White House in any capacity is enough to incite them to...well...Craziness. 

I hope that the Right implodes, and there's momentum for that to happen, but this is when Bill would be The Man With The Plan if he still had the White House media machine at his disposal. The President has good speechwriters, but as an ex tempore orator, he's no Bill Clinton. For that matter, few others are, either. Regardless, the Prez could shovel coal into that furnace and get it red hot before throwing a bucket of cold water on it and watching it cave, but I don't think he's up to it. I think he's fought the good fight, but he's exhausted and ready to go lame duck. 

Right now is the time, though. McConnell's losing his grip on the Senate, Conservative talking heads are inciting racism along with the ubiquitous class warfare, and McCain shows signs of going maverick again. They're approving a half dozen or so of his nominees and I'd strike while the iron is hot. I'd get in front of TV cameras and lambaste the SOB...I mean the GOP...for all I was worth. Blame them for everything; no jobs, slow recovery, Trayvon, racism, classism, wasting even more time trying to repeal the ACA, fighting him every step of the way. Fuck it, I'd throw the gloves AT the bastards and then knock 'em the fuck out. 

The public knows that he's right, or mostly so. He could have been more proactive in responding to Benghazi and the NSA and Justice Department Tea Party scandals, but he could still spin it without going off the rails - because ultimately it's all true - and paint the GOP going further right towards the Tea Party Taliban in the next election - which is probably the truth, anyway.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Post-Zimmerman vs Martin, An Imperfect World, and Where We Go Now

I think (redacted) hits the nail on the head, in a perfect world. But we live in an imperfect world where prejudice plays a part.

I do agree that we define other-than-white ethnicities differently than we do whites. I'm Scottish, Irish, English, Dutch, and German. And considering that neither the males nor the females in my family, gay, bi, or straight, can keep their pants on, there's a good chance that there's even more than that hiding in our genes. Wilkommen! 

Between the perfect and the imperfect are millions or billions, even, shades of grey. We are people, not paint chips at Lowe's; we're interactive, fluid, transmogrifying. We are this today, and that tomorrow. And we are emotional creatures who strive to be ruled by logic, but we're just too damned human to allow it to happen.

Zimmerman versus Martin will be a case study in law schools because of several factors - an apparently inept prosecution, a knock-knock joke defense, media coverage, public interest, and the fact that there are only 2 people, one now dead, who really know what happened that night. In my heart, I think Zimmerman is guilty, but I can'tprove that. And neither can any other person alive, save one.

The American system of jurisprudence acknowledges its weaknesses, but as (some say) Sir Winston Churchill observed about democracy, our system is "the worst form of..." justice "...except for all the others."

I wholly agree with (redacted) that, moving forward, we need to drop the labels. Humans have a need, and there is a bona fide reason, to label things. But when those labels become the problem, it's time to set them aside and move on to something else. 

After the OJ trial(s!), I thought we had a good opportunity to do just that, but we didn't. It may be that the reason we didn't exists on the surface of every member of humankind: The color of our skin.

If we can't move beyond the surface of those we meet, I fear that we'll never get to know what's inside them.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Proper Aircraft Emergency Etiquette

In case of emergency, carefully set your cocktail on the seatback tray of someone near you, in case it spills. 

Place your tray in its upright position and secure it, then retrieve your cocktail. 

Instruct the nearest flight attendant to get your belongings from the overhead and follow you.

Never slide where others have slid; one never knows whose heinie hygiene is sub-par and has slid before you. Also, sloshing your cocktail simply isn't done, so stand in the door and finish it.

Sit astride the side barrier and ride it to the bottom like one would ride a bannister in one's home.

Immediately find the drink cart and have the flight crew repatriate your luggage with you.

Walk, do not run, away from the now blazing aircraft. Running is for children and those people who go to the gym.

Use your cellular telephone to call for a limo. When asked who's paying, point to the captain and say, "My head of security".

Seek shelter in the nearest sky lounge until your lawyer rescues you.

Remain calm. Until camera crews appear. Then go batshit hysterical and blame the airline for everything that ever happened to you.

Retire to a Caribbean island after the airline negotiates and live happily off the settlement.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Space Junkyards - Seems like the time is right

Response to an article about the malfunctioning CoRoT satellite on

It almost seems like a shame not to park all of these satellites in one or no more than several "junkyards", probably in several orbit distances, traveling all at the same speed in close proximity with the intent of, one day, allowing "space junkers" to retrieve them, perhaps cannibalize them in orbit and then de-orbit the remaining hulk, or perhaps if the hulk has value, somehow dismantling it and returning the materials to Earth for recycling either as whole components or raw materials. 

Taking it a step further, perhaps an entrepreneur could offer a satellite repair service at some point, drawing on the considerable collection of available parts to rebuild or repair a malfunctioning satellite. Such a service, say launched by one of the commercial ventures like SpaceX, might send a capsule to the nearest orbiting junkyard, retrieve parts, and then maneuver to a docking position with the malfunctioning satellite and fix it.  -Edit-: This actually sounds like a job that a space shuttle would do with its onboard Canadarm.--

There would surely be obstacles to overcome, and I'm aware that many of the components in satellites are unique to that particular machine. A different approach might be to line up several jobs to do in one orbital zone, pick the parts from the derelicts at the junkyard, repair the bad bird, and perhaps return some of the otherwise unusable but still valuable raw materials, or specific devices that are still good and could be used in new satellites to Earth.

I'm sure it would be an expensive undertaking, but so is designing, building, and launching satellites. This approach might also lead to some sort of standardization of components such that in the event of a malfunction, an identical and already in orbit part could be picked, the satellite joined with, repaired, and sent on its happy way. 

Some satellites might even need refueling or new batteries so that they could continue their useful lives beyond what was originally scheduled. It seems a shame to leave a perfectly good hulk in space when all it needs is a visit from the fuel truck. :)