Friday, January 16, 2009

Security expert Bruce Schneier - "We've forgotten that risk is an inherent part of life."

Hallelujah for common sense.

Bruce Schneier interviewed at Reason Online. In a wise, fair or just world, this guy'd head up the TSA and Homeland Security.

Great interview, more at the link.

Safe, But Also Sorry: Security expert Bruce Schneier talks about privacy and property in the information state - Reason Magazine:
"Reason: You coined the phrase "security theater" and you've been critical of the TSA's choices on priorities and tactics. What has the TSA done wrong that's fixable? What has the TSA done right?

Bruce Schneier
: The TSA focuses too much on specific tactics and targets. This makes sense politically, but is a bad use of security resources. Think about the last eight years. We take away guns and knives, and the terrorists use box cutters. We confiscate box cutters and knitting needles, and they put explosives in their shoes. We screen shoes, and they use liquids. We take away liquids, and they'll do something else. This is a dumb game; the TSA should stop playing. Some screening is necessary to stop the crazy and the stupid, but it's not going to stop a professional terrorist attack. We don't need more and better screening; we need less. On the other hand, I like seeing the direction they're heading in terms of behavioral profiling, though we need to be careful. Done wrong, it's nothing more than stereotyping; but done right, it can be very effective. It needs more focus on people and less on objects. We can't manage to keep weapons out of prisons; we'll never keep them out of airports. Oh, and stop the ID checking—the notion that there is this master list of terrorists that we can check people off against is just plain silly.

If I were in charge of the TSA's budget, I'd give most of it back. Politically, I wouldn't be able to, of course, but it would be the best thing to do. Spending money on airport/airplane security only makes sense if the bad guys target airplanes. In general, money spent defending particular targets or tactics only makes sense if we can guess them correctly. If tactics and targets are scarce, defending against specific ones makes us safer. If tactics and targets are plentiful—as they are—it only forces the bad guys to pick new ones. Spending money on intelligence, investigation, and emergency response is effective regardless of the tactic or the target. Airport security is a last line of defense, and not a very good one at that. We need to remember that at budget time.

...We live in a technological world, and it's common for us to believe that technology can solve our security problems. It solves so many of our other problems, so it's a plausible belief. It's also easier to believe that a shiny new piece of technology—a new ID card, a new airport scanner, a new face-recognition system—can solve our problems than boring old concepts like culture and economics. Admitting that technology isn't the answer is admitting that there isn't an answer that will solve the problem, and many people can't do that yet. We've forgotten that risk is an inherent part of life.

...The security vs. privacy dichotomy is a false one. Only identity-based security is in opposition to privacy, and there are limitations to that approach. I believe that approximately two security improvements since 9/11 have made airplane travel safer: reinforcing the cockpit door, teaching passengers they have to fight back, and—maybe—sky marshals. None of those measures has any impact on privacy. It's things like ID cards, and wholesale eavesdropping on telephone calls and Internet conversations, and large government databases that affect privacy, and their security value is minimal. The real dichotomy is liberty vs. control. There might be less crime in a society with strong government controls and police-state-like surveillance, but I don't think anyone would feel safer in that society.

...I consider myself a realist. Most people who say that are really pessimists, but I'm not. Most people are honest and trustworthy; society would fall apart if that weren't the case. Attacks are rare. Ten times as many people die each year in car crashes than did on 9/11, and the most dangerous part of an airplane journey is still the taxi ride to the airport.

Security is designed to protect us from the dishonest minority. It's important to remember that. I remember being told as a child: "Never talk to strangers." That's actually stupid advice. If a child is lost or scared or alone, the smartest thing he can do is find a kindly looking stranger to talk to. The real advice is: "Don't answer strangers who talk to you first." The difference is important. In the first case, the child selects the stranger—and the odds of him selecting a bad person are pretty negligible. In the second case, the stranger selects the child; that's more dangerous. I don't think that's either optimism to rightly point out that most people are honest, or pessimism to figure out how to best secure ourselves from the dishonest minority; it's analytical realism."

Back to the Future - "Biff's Question Song."

Tom Wilson, the actor who played "Biff" in the Back to the Future movies, sing's the "Biff's Question Song" at the Improv. Funny.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

See, there's them, and then there's us.

They get lower standards, special privileges and the benefit of the doubt.

You? You're fucked.

Hit & Run > A (Mild) Defense of the Cop in the BART Shooting - Reason Magazine:
[On the BART cop who shot an unarmed, handcuffed man in the back] "I'd pose this question to the Mehserle defenders I've seen on police forums and bulletin boards: I'm sympathetic to the argument that in the heat of the moment, Mehserle inadvertently reached for the wrong weapon. But Mehserle had training. He had other cops there backing him up. If we're going to be sympathetic to him, where's the sympathy for people like Cory Maye or Ryan Frederick?

Why should we assume good intentions when a cop with training, wide awake and conscious, with other cops all around him makes a mistake that ends with a fatality, but assume the worst when a civilian is awoken by the sound of police breaking into his home, and in the heat of the moment, fires a gun after mistaking them for criminal intruders?

Seems to me you can't simultaneously argue that trained police officers should be forgiven for nervous mistakes made in the heat of the moment, but ordinary people should be expected to show impeccable judgment and restraint, even under unimaginably volatile and confrontational circumstances."

Even the Supreme Court agrees, go screw yourself if you're not on the side of the prosecution.

WHEN COPS 'FORGET' - New York Post:
"Being a 'public servant,' apparently, means being free to make the kind of mistakes that the rest of us aren't allowed.

...Bennie Dean Herring, a man with prior felony convictions, went to retrieve an impounded truck. Looking for a reason to arrest him, a police officer asked if there were any warrants outstanding. The computer showed a warrant from a neighboring county.

Herring was arrested and found to be in possession of a pistol (illegal, as he had a prior felony) and methamphetamine. Moments later, the clerk called to say that the warrant had been withdrawn, but by then the search and the arrest had been made.

According to Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the majority, "When police mistakes leading to an unlawful search are the result of isolated negligence attenuated from the search, rather than systemic error or reckless disregard of constitutional requirements, the exclusionary rule does not apply."

...Except that the rest of us enjoy no such immunity. If you're a citizen who, say, accidentally carries a gun into a designated "gun-free" zone, the Supreme Court will not say that you can escape punishment because your action was "the result of isolated negligence." For citizens, there's no "I forgot" defense.

Likewise, police are given a pass, under the doctrine of "good faith immunity," from having to understand the intricacies of suspects' constitutional rights: A right must be clearly established before an officer is liable for violating it, apparently on the theory that constitutional law is just too confusing for police.

But ordinary citizens are expected to comply with the tens of thousands of pages of federal criminal laws and regulations (and more at the state level) and are told that "ignorance of the law is no excuse" - and this is true even in cases where the prosecution's theory of criminality is a novel one.

Cynics might be forgiven for thinking that, instead of a government of, by and for the people, we've got a two-tiered system in which "public servants" instead enjoy the privileges of "public masters."

The Supreme Court might want to think again before doing more to encourage such cynicism."

Summing up how politics works.

Balloon Juice » Blog Archive » Dispatches From the Failed Obama Administration:
"Got it? Obama OWNS the economy the day he becomes President. His fault. That growth during the Clinton years- that was due to Reagan. The bad stuff from 2000 on, that was the Clinton economy, until, of course, the 20th, when it becomes Obama’s."

Folk Theories of Life.

The original article was "Folk Theories Of Guru-Based Spirituality" which served as a takedown of various spiritual beliefs, but the call for people in the comments to come up with their own faulty "folk theories" that are perpetuated in the modern day resulted in some awesomeness.

Folk Theories Of Guru-Based Spirituality - Boing Boing:
"...The folk theory that family members have an inherent connection and responsibility to each other.

The folk theory that having killed someone deeply transforms the killer.

The folk theory that truthfulness is a virtue.

--

The folk theory that sensory perception provides an accurate awareness of objective reality.
The folk theory that the concept objective reality is meaningful.
The folk theory that The Truth exists.
The folk belief that Meaning exists.

The folk theory that other people know what's best for you.
The folk theory that you know what's best for other people.
The folk theory that religion can solve all of your problems.
The folk belief that science can solve all of your problems.

The folk belief that human intelligence is inherantly superior to that of any other form of intelligence that we may happen to run accross, unless it's virtually identical to our own, but bigger."

More fear and denial of nature, humanity, sexuality, reality and life.

And also, nudity is evil. EVIIIIIIL! God spare me from religion.

The Agitator » Blog Archive » Morning Links:
"...So if I understand this correctly, they’re protecting these kids from harm . . . by charging them with child pornography for exploiting themselves. Yes. Makes perfect sense."

Hit & Run > The Educational Value of Getting Arrested on Child Porn Charges - Reason Magazine:
"Half a dozen teenagers in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, face child pornography charges, three for taking nude or semi-nude photos of themselves and sending them to boys by cell phone, three for receiving them. The arrests follow similar cases involving a 16-year-old Florida girl and her 17-year-old boyfriend, whose child pornography convictions were upheld by a state appeals court in 2007, and a 15-year-old Ohio girl who was arrested last fall. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review article about the Pennsylvania case mentions a 13-year-old boy in Texas who "was arrested on child pornography charges in October after he received a nude photo of a student on his cell phone." So I guess we have a trend.

...treating teenagers who have violated no one's rights like criminals who sexually exploit children is undeniably absurd, especially since the ostensible aim is to help these poor, misguided youths..."

But the best commentary comes from the reader posted comments at the article...
"I have a modest proposal. Why stop at punishing girls for taking revealing pictures of themselves? Some perverts like to look at pictures of women walking around in public and masturbate to them, so why not pass a law requiring teenage girls to wear some kind of garment that obscures their faces and phsyical appearance? We could put a fine vail over the eyes so that they could see out.

And, of course, since many clueless teenage girls might object to wearing these garments, they must face serious punishments for refusing to wear them, perhaps a caning for the first offence and jail for subsequent ones.

That way, we can prevent these girls from being victimized by having people derive sexual pleasure from looking at their picture."

--

These are just normal kids, doing what normal kids have done since time immemorial. The insanity and cheap sentiment fostered by the rape and molestation hysteria is part and parcel of the slow infantilization of the public in general and just another example of our "enlightened" and "progressive" masters trying to micro-manage the lives of the citizenry through nanny-state legislation."

They don't actually DO anything.

FOXNews.com - Washington's Wealth Boom - Opinion:
"Take a look at this map. The areas shaded in red are the 100 wealthiest counties in America according to per capita income. At first glance, it's a little misleading, because in the American West, counties tend to be larger in geographic area. But look closely, and you'll see that after the New York City metropolitan area, the largest cluster of wealth in the U.S. is huddled around Washington, D.C.



...The problem is that, save for the tech corridor in D.C.'s Virginia exurbs, the Washington Metro area doesn't actually produce anything. Washington doesn't create wealth, it just moves it around — redistributes it. As government grows and takes control of more and more of the private economy — either through spending, regulation, or taxes — more and more wealth that's created elsewhere comes to Washington to be devoured.

The Washington wealth boom is the result of the massive expansion in government over the last 10 years, which has populated the region with an increase in well-paid federal employees, and wealthy federal contractors and lobbyists...."

All you really need to know about condoms.

[They come alive when you're not watching.]



Via Funniest Condom Ad I've Seen All Year (for Durex, by Superfad) - Boing Boing

The shorter version is...

"...fuck 'em."

But this is far more poetical.

RossTraining.com Blog » Protect Your Dreams:
"Our world is unfortunately filled with dream snatchers. Many who fail take comfort in seeing others fail. They don’t want to see you do something that they couldn’t achieve. Dream snatchers come from all walks of life. They are not necessarily enemies or strangers. Often times the dream snatcher doesn’t realize that he or she fits the mold. It could be a friend, coach, or even a family member.

Don’t let dream snatchers bring you down. Use their negativity to spark new motivation. If someone tells me that I can’t do something, I work that much harder to prove them wrong. I am the only person who lives inside my skin. No one knows what I can or cannot do. We as people are often not as smart as we’d like to believe. No one truly knows what others are capable of achieving. We can’t look into a crystal ball to see the future. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. No one knows how bad you want it. No one knows how hard you are willing to work. No one knows how much you are willing to sacrifice. These are unique (individual) factors that differentiate you from everyone in the world. The individual writes his own future. Don’t let anyone steal your pen. You need to take ownership and then live with the decisions that you make..."

"What Does It Take for a Police Officer To Get Fired?"

The system is so broken.

Hit & Run > What Does It Take for a Police Officer To Get Fired? - Reason Magazine:
"...How about three DWI incidents within a one-year span, including one in which the officer ran a roadblock, then had to be tasered, pepper-sprayed, and wrestled to the ground; another in which he hit another car, then left the scene of the accident; and another in which he fell asleep in his cruiser in front of a school, while in drive, with his foot resting on the brake?

Nope. It took a fourth DWI incident to finally get him suspended.

How about an officer with an otherwise stellar record, who has a reputation in the department for honesty, but who became an outspoken critic of the war on drugs, and on one occasion declined to arrest a man after finding a single marijuana plant growing outside the man's home?

Yep, that'll do it."

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Hunting Fail.

fail owned pwned pictures
see more pwn and owned pictures

One more year.

So, I turned in the paperwork yesterday to request one more, and my last ever, year on the JET Programme. Year 5. [After which, they kick you out.]

And while it's entirely possible they could say "no" - I think my four years in, and the fact I got re-upped last year, are indicative that the odds are in my favor that I'll be sticking around till summer of 2010. I'm supposed to receive the official accept/deny notification sometime around mid-Feb. Officially Feb 13th, but last year they forgot altogether to let me know that it'd been accepted/approved and I had to ask sometime around March. Which wasn't as big a deal as it sounds as there was kind of a conceptual understanding that I was going to stick around.

If they do come back with a "No thanks" that renders the rest of this post moot, but hey, you go with what you know.

[As an aside, it was a bit of an ego-kick that when I did turn in my papers the response was along the lines of "Oh yes, the economy is bad in America now." Hmmm... would that I'd had the fluency to get across the point that that really has nothing to do with why I'm hanging around another year. Don't get me wrong, it's a nice bennie, but... no, that's not it. And the other articulated reaction that I caught was "Now we have to look at the budget." I wasn't expecting rose-petals thrown at my feet, but a little something-something would've been nice. Eh, cross cultural communication and me being an overly sensitive goof, probably. They, last year, were trying to talk me into staying a 5th, when I was saying my 4th was my last... but then, that was over drinks... and in Japan you can say anything over drinks...]

So, why 5? And after I started off year 4 with every school-related blog post lamenting that it was "last" time for everything? Well, the thing is, the Mrs and I have moved every 2 years since we've been together. Hawaii, 2 years. Japan [the first time] 2 years. NC, 2 years. DC/VA, 2 years. And then I went and broke the mold here in Japan, as we're hitting the 3 1/2 year mark. So, there's that. We've both got a bit of the wanderlust thing going on.

But me, not so much recently. In Japan, I've been oddly fulfilled and not terribly inclined to be moving on to the next thing. The job itself is probably the favorite job I've ever had. Connecting with the kids, developing relationships with them, even hamstrung by language and culture, has been a really rewarding experience for me. And the big reason I want to stay is so that I can see this year's 2nd graders graduate next March. They're really a great group of kids and I feel like I've really connected with a bunch of them. [Hell, I'd like to see this year's 1st graders graduate 2 years from now, but logistically that's an impossibility in the job...]

The wife, otoh, has kind of the opposite feel for it, in that she is more than ready... far past ready... to get on with "what's next" and whatever place and step is next. She was definitely in for 2, and then the 3rd, as I was digging it and 3 years used to be the "max" on JET, but year 4, that we're in now, has been kind of a painful stretch, and the idea of a year 5 is a non-starter. While she excels at the private company English deal, it's not that challenging for her and not where she sees herself in the long run. [I don't see myself teaching in Japan for the "long run" either, but the "long run" is far less a consideration in my decision making process...]

So the idea of year 4 as my last year on JET was really based on her desire to move on to the next thing. But she called it early, and obviously, that I'm really not ready to go. I enjoy my job. I like Japan. And while I think there are a bunch of things in the Japanese educational system and the culture that are kind of painful, I'm really satisfied with the role I play in it.

But she's ready to go. But I want to stay. An intractable problem? Nay, I say unto you.

There's really no better way to put this than the way my better half summed it up the other day - "It's really a lot better that we end up missing each other for a little while than we do something 'for the other person' and end up resenting one another." Bibles of truth in that.

She would really regret it if she stayed in Japan, spinning her wheels. I would really regret it if I left this job and this experience before I had to.

So, we're gonna do the 'long-distance' thing for a while. In a few months she'll be heading back stateside to begin the 2nd stage of an interview process for a govt job, and I'm gonna stay here.

Piece of cake. We actually, before we got married, did the long distance thing for 2 1/2 years. VA to NC for 4 months, TN to NC for 3, and then the biggee at the time - Hawaii to NC for 2 years. And at the end of all that we got married. So, 17 months this go-around should be a cakewalk. Especially now in the age of the internet and Skype videophoning. Hell, when we first started dating we had email - kind of - and massive monthly phone bills... so I really don't anticipate a problem this time, the ease of communication being what it is.

At first the idea of being married, and living apart for a while, really bugged me, and it was the reason I held off on actually saying to myself "Yes, I do want to stay another year." One of the reasons, though certainly not the main one, that I got out of the military is because I really don't think a relationship should be such that you're regularly spending 3-6 months away from your significant other on a regular basis. Naive and overly romantic, sure, and there are lots of folks who make it work, but it just didn't really seem like something I wanted to do. But again - "missing you is better than resenting you." And life and relationships are never the simple story you think it is when you start out. So it's certainly not optimal, but it's what's gonna work for us, right here, right now.

So the next year and a half are gonna be different. Gonna be some changes. Sandy's gonna head back [quicker than I want] and lay the foundation for "what's next." Not to mention being able to decorate and clean all on her own, without having to deal with my "input." :) I'm gonna finish out here in the way I want, no regrets. We're gonna burn up the internets with communication and do our every 6 month "time for a visit" trips. [Tentatively, me, back stateside for a few weeks in July/August... her, back out here around Xmas/New Year's.] And I'm gonna have to muddle through Japan, limited linguistic ability and all, without the backstop of a fluent Japanese speaker in my hip pocket.

[And you know, while it makes no rational sense, I keep having the impression that a lot of other things around work and such are going to be in flux. March is the time for teacher rotations and staff rotations at the city hall, and I just have this feeling that I'm going to have a bunch of different faces in my world come March time-frame. I mean, my supervisor at the Board of Ed has already lasted a year longer than the other two supervisors I've had since I've been here, so I figure he's definitely - and sadly, as he's a great guy - due to rotate. And I just have this - and it is nothing more than a feeling, really - that the English dept is gonna have some changes. But who knows? I'm probably just taking the changes that are happening to me and extrapolating needlessly.]

Anyway. One more year. Most likely, anyways. Barring the Board of Education discovering they don't want me anymore. :)

Gambaremasu.

Well done.

Overheard Everywhere | Nice Recovery, Boyo:
"Six-year-old child to teacher, upon seeing her new haircut for the first time: What's wrong with your hair?
Teacher: What do you mean 'what's wrong with my hair'?
Child (with eyes downcast): It just looks so beautiful.
Teacher: Well, thank you.

New Westminster
BC
Canadia"

He's a free man - Patrick McGoohan, RIP.


Hit & Run > Patrick McGoohan, RIP - Reason Magazine:
"The creator, star, and frequent writer and director of The Prisoner, that wonderful '60s pop-surrealist anarcho-paranoid science-fiction TV series, has died at age 80."


"Number 6: I will not make any deals with you. I've resigned. I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered. My life is my own. I resign."


"Number 6: Where am I?
Number 2: In the Village.
Number 6: What do you want?
Number 2: We want information.
Number 6: Whose side are you on?
Number 2: That would be telling. We want information... information... information.
Number 6: You won't get it.
Number 2: By hook or by crook, we will.
Number 6: Who are you?
Number 2: The new Number 2.
Number 6: Who is Number 1?
Number 2: You are Number 6.
Number 6: I am not a number, I am a free man."

Sick guard pass.


Via MMA Fight Girls Wallpaper

Training Hiatus/Kyukei.

Yeah, coming off a 3 day weekend here in the land of the Rising Sun I figured I'd be full of vim and vigor and enthusiasm, ready to knock it out.

Not happening. Unmotivated, lethargic, tired [and somehow still sore from last Friday's wkout] it's already Wednesday and today would've made something like 4 missed wkouts.

So, we're gonna call this one a "bye" week, and dive back in next week.

I swear, this week feels like the Dark Ages back at USNA.

USNA-Net's Parents' Handbook - Plebe Year:
"The Dark Ages

As the Mids return from Christmas Leave, they must settle in for the long, cold and depressing months ahead. Traditionally, the months of January through March's Spring Break represent the Dark Ages. This is a time of shortened daylight, intense studies and little or no encouragement. This is the time when most Mids will fall into depression of one degree or another."

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Wonder if that works...

Overheard in the Office | Also the Argument for Crystal Meth:
"Reporter: I wasn't drinking because I was depressed; I was partying so I could feel young.

Mesa, Arizona"

Science seems tricksy.

Much more at the link.

Harold Ambler: Mr. Gore: Apology Accepted:
"...Mr. Gore has stated, regarding climate change, that "the science is in." Well, he is absolutely right about that, except for one tiny thing. It is the biggest whopper ever sold to the public in the history of humankind.

...Mr. Gore states, ad nauseum, that carbon dioxide rules climate in frightening and unpredictable, and new, ways. When he shows the hockey stick graph of temperature and plots it against reconstructed C02 levels in An Inconvenient Truth, he says that the two clearly have an obvious correlation. "Their relationship is actually very complicated," he says, "but there is one relationship that is far more powerful than all the others, and it is this: When there is more carbon dioxide, the temperature gets warmer." The word "complicated" here is among the most significant Mr. Gore has uttered on the subject of climate and is, at best, a deliberate act of obfuscation. Why? Because it turns out that there is an 800-year lag between temperature and carbon dioxide, unlike the sense conveyed by Mr. Gore's graph. You are probably wondering by now -- and if you are not, you should be -- which rises first, carbon dioxide or temperature. The answer? Temperature. In every case, the ice-core data shows that temperature rises precede rises in carbon dioxide by, on average, 800 years. In fact, the relationship is not "complicated." When the ocean-atmosphere system warms, the oceans discharge vast quantities of carbon dioxide in a process known as de-gassing. For this reason, warm and cold years show up on the Mauna Loa C02 measurements even in the short term. For instance, the post-Pinatubo-eruption year of 1993 shows the lowest C02 increase since measurements have been kept. When did the highest C02 increase take place? During the super El NiƱo year of 1998.

...What about heat escaping from volcanic vents in the ocean floor? What about the destruction of warming, upper-atmosphere ozone by cosmic rays? I could go on, but space is short. Again, who is the "flat-Earther" here?

The ocean-atmosphere system is not a simple one that can be "ruled" by a trace atmospheric gas. It is a complex, chaotic system, largely modulated by solar effects (both direct and indirect), as shown by the Little Ice Age.

To be told, as I have been, by Mr. Gore, again and again, that carbon dioxide is a grave threat to humankind is not just annoying, by the way, although it is that! To re-tool our economies in an effort to suppress carbon dioxide and its imaginary effect on climate, when other, graver problems exist is, simply put, wrong. Particulate pollution, such as that causing the Asian brown cloud, is a real problem. Two billion people on Earth living without electricity, in darkened huts and hovels polluted by charcoal smoke, is a real problem.

So, let us indeed start a Manhattan Project-like mission to create alternative sources of energy. And, in the meantime, let us neither cripple our own economy by mislabeling carbon dioxide a pollutant nor discourage development in the Third World, where suffering continues unabated, day after day."

Way existential.


Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal

Maybe the film I'm looking forward to the most in 2009 - Robert Downey, Jr as Sherlock Holmes.

Well, this and Watchmen.

Sherlock Holmes (2009 film) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
"Sherlock Holmes is an upcoming film based on Arthur Conan Doyle's detective Sherlock Holmes, starring Robert Downey, Jr. as Holmes and Jude Law as Watson. The film began shooting in October 2008 under Guy Ritchie's direction, and will be released a year later. Set in 1891, the film revolves around Holmes and Watson stopping a conspiracy to destroy Britain"




Film - With ‘Iron Man,’ Robert Downey Jr. Winks at His Past and Looks to Transcend It - NYTimes.com:
"“I have a really interesting political point of view, and it’s not always something I say too loud at dinner tables here, but you can’t go from a $2,000-a-night suite at La Mirage to a penitentiary and really understand it and come out a liberal. You can’t. I wouldn’t wish that experience on anyone else, but it was very, very, very educational for me and has informed my proclivities and politics every since.”"

Wanna feel like you haven't done enough with your life and are wallowing in self-pity? Watch this.

Alternatively, inspirational as hell.

[Regardless of the slight turn to the Xtian, which I personally have no use for... but hey, whatever works for you.]

Massively cool videos. Outstanding speaker.

"It matters how you're gonna finish."

The Prescription for Self-Doubt: Watch This Video



Nick Vujicic - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
"The first-born child in his devout Serbian Christian family, Nick Vujicic was born in Melbourne, Australia with the rare Tetra-amelia disorder: limbless, missing both arms at shoulder level, and having one small foot with two toes protruding from his left thigh. Initially, his parents were devastated. Vujicic was otherwise healthy."

Nick Vujicic, No Arms, No Legs, No Worries!





When I was young, I dreamed of being a police officer.

Naivete, to the extreme.

The Agitator » Blog Archive » Justice Scalia, Any Comment?:
"The new professionalism in action:
Chattanooga Police Det. Kenneth Freeman will not face charges in an incident in which he shoved a 71-year-old greeter at the Wal-Mart in Collegedale to the floor after he tried to stop him while doing a receipts check."

The Agitator » Blog Archive » Yer’ Raid Update Post:
"A 19-year-old Missouri woman could get 30 years after shooting at police on a marijuana raid (her parents were apparently dealers) last month. She too says she thought the home was being robbed. In one I missed from last November, police in Woodhaven, Michigan raided and trashed the wrong home while looking for a narcotics suspect, finding instead a 25-year-old woman who had just gotten out of the shower. And in Las Vegas, 32-year-old Emmanuel Dozier is in jail and faces felony charges after shooting and wounding three police officers, also during a narcotics raid. Dozier also says he thought his home was being robbed. His girlfriend, Belinda Saavedra, was on the phone with 911 at the time of the raid.

Police insist they had the right house (Dozier has a prior arrest record in California), but found no drugs in the home.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal ran a spot-on editorial about the last raid:
...The drug war has taught us to accept as “normal” police procedures — even in the case of a man alleged to have dealt quantities of drugs worth only a few hundred dollars — which increase the risk of violence and death in our neighborhoods.

Just as in cases where some jurisdictions have found overall fatalities could be reduced by having ambulances obey stoplights, it is those “standard” procedures that are in need of a serious new review.
For all of the “wrong-house” raids I write about on this site, even when police get the right house, these raids force a volatile confrontation with a high potential for error. There have been about a half dozen cases of police officers getting killed or wounded on drug raids in just the last few months. These tactics make warrant service more dangerous for everyone, including cops."

WendyMcElroy.com: Most ER doctors suspect police brutality:
"The national survey of 315 physicians, published in the January 2009 issue of the Emergency Medicine Journal, 'is believed to be the first doctors' account of suspected police brutality,' The survey's conclusion: 'Nearly 98 percent of emergency-room physicians report that they believe some patients were victims of suspected excessive force by police. Yet most of the suspected incidents went unreported because no laws require physicians to alert authorities.'

Other findings from the study:65.3 percent estimated treating 2+ cases of suspected excessive use of force by law enforcement officers per year. Blunt trauma inflicted by fists or feet was the most common type of injury cited. 71.2 percent did not report cases of suspected abuse. Why? 96.5 percent reported that there were no departmental policies or guidelines on how to do so; 93.7 percent said they had received no education or training in how to handle such cases. Nevertheless, 47.9 percent felt that emergency physicians should be required to report them."

Monday, January 12, 2009

Mickey Rourke is sweetly sad.

Balloon Juice » Blog Archive » Globes Wrap-up:
"Speaking of Rourke, this was mentioned in another thread, and I thought it was sweet:
Mickey Rourke won the award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture-Drama at the Golden Globes this evening for his lead role in The Wrestler.

...Rourke thanked his agent, producers, co-stars, etc. and then he asked the audience if he could thank his dogs—both the ones that are still with him now, and those that had passed on.

Sometimes when you’re alone, all you got is your dog and they meant the world to me.”"