Wealth and Inequality in Americaspun writes "Business Insider has a great slide show detailing the growth of the outrageous inequality of wealth in this country. The rich are getting richer, and the poor are getting poorer."
Link to Original Source
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About a year and a half ago, my wife met a really cool lady while doing community theater. Her boyfriend turned out to be a computer nerd, like me. In that year and a half, my wife and this woman grew very close, having similar interests and character. Although I tried to befriend the boyfriend, he always seemed distant. We knew, from his girlfriend, that he had had a "bad" childhood. We just never knew how bad, I guess. Yesterday at six AM, their house was raided by a fifteen man task force including state police, the FBI, and the district attorney's office. Because they had been investigating him for a year, and had the house under observation for a month, they knew they did not need the SWAT team for a flash-bang entrance, as was common in these cases. They were looking for child pornography, and they found it. Not "barely legal" stuff, two to six year olds, in violent and incestuous situations. He admitted guilt, at least according to the police, who questioned him away from his girlfriend. Yes, I realize that could be an interrogation tactic, but he also never protested his innocence to her, and seemed to know exactly why the raid was happening.
The raid was professional and the police were amazingly courteous. They found about an eighth of pot and quite a bit of paraphernalia, and asked whose it was. She admitted that her mom is an old hippie and had left a bunch of bongs there, but the rest was hers, that she used to calm herself down because she had hyperthyroidism, which is true. They let her keep everything and joked that, after this, she'd probably need it. The police doing this kind of work probably look on pot like they look on jaywalking, technically illegal, but not worth their time. They had a list of specific files that had been downloaded and came prepared with the utilities to scan any electronic device or media on the premises. The fact that he used Linux didn't phase them for a second. She gave up all the passwords she knew. As soon as they found the first match, about an hour and a half into things, he was cuffed and taken away. The raid lasted another three and a half hours after that, as the police methodically searched for additional evidence.
She had class, and needed her laptop, so they scanned that and gave it back to her right away, but she couldn't go to class because, if you leave the scene of an investigation, you can't come back until they are done. Which meant she couldn't go buy cigarettes, either, she was out, and none of the police smoked, the poor thing. So she pulled some hair out, strand by strand. The police had a rookie with them they assigned to her, probably like "Watch what we do and make sure she doesn't freak out." They set up two tables in her driveway. Anything potentially dangerous was brought there, as well as electronics and media. Other things were opened, searched, and placed on the floor. They took all hard drives and electronic components. They searched stacks of blank CDs, looking for any hidden amongst the blanks. They took all hand labeled CDs. They felt all cushions carefully, but not finding anything, did not rip them open. They opened all boxes, jars, bags, etcetera, and searched them.
I know all this because we spent about five hours last night going over it with her. If you ever have a friend go through a traumatic experience, this is the best thing you can do for them. Just listen, as they say the same things over and over again. Heck, when they slow down, ask questions to get them going again. Encourage them to show their feelings about it, too, if they cry or rage or shake or whatever, so much the better. The earlier you can get them to do it, the better, because (according to some psychological theories as I understand them) during traumatic, emotional events, the rational mind shuts down and disassociates at least a little. The experience is stored in memory as an undifferentiated lump with heavy emotional triggers attached. If it isn't processed, anything associated with the event can trigger strong emotions, once again causing the rational mid to shut down a little. Having one's rational mind shut down all the time is sub-optimal. She is going to clean up, move all his stuff to storage, and smudge the place with sage, which normally would earn an eye-roll from me, but this is exactly the place for that ritual. It's not magic, it's psychology.
The thing is, she had broken up with him the week before, and it was under consideration for a long time, because he just couldn't get his shit together after his dad died two years ago. He hadn't worked in years, he didn't do anything around the house, he just didn't do anything. He never wanted to hang out with me, even though we have similar interests and had fun conversations at parties. She would come home and find him crying on the couch. He doesn't remember much of his childhood, what he does remember is terrifying. His dad was a hoarder, and they were divorced when he was very young. His mom treated him like a boyfriend. His girlfriend reported seeing his mother sit on his lap and stroke his hair. He's thirty five. He had not had sex with his girlfriend in six or eight months.
I knew some of this before the incident so if it seems I rushed to judgment yesterday it is only because so many things suddenly made much more sense in this new light. It is still possible he is innocent of everything. It depends on exactly what they found, I suppose, and they have a year long record of someone, using several different IP addresses which they can now connect securely to him, I believe, viewing a great deal of very disturbing things online. They read the titles and descriptions of all of them to my wife's friend. We had a large bust of a child pornography ring here last month, actual production of the stuff, and the police admitted that there were fifteen additional people being raided here yesterday. I believe he had also recently befriended a young autistic man of twenty four or so who has young children. The police asked if he he had had any contact with people with young children, and his girlfriend told them that he had, and who they were, so they could question them. In retrospect, I'm glad I didn't get closer to this guy. My cousin has young kids and they are over at our house a lot. Again, I'm not saying this man actually did anything to children himself or intended to. But I see a lot of data points that fit a certain class of patterns of human psychological illness here.
So that's about it. That's all I know at this point. My wife and I are glad that we can be there for her friend while she goes through this, it isn't over for her yet, not by a long shot. Her family owns the trailer park (no snickers, it's very nice) where she lives (in a three bedroom double wide that is as nice as my place, and why am I worried about class issues right now?) She may have to testify, that depends a lot on him, I imagine. We don't even know where he is being held. No local police were involved, it was all state and federal. He called and left a message for her, said not to believe anything they said, asked her to pray for him, and asked her to help bail him out. His bail is eighty thousand, so someone would have to some up with eight. There is no way in hell she is going to put up any money. Note that in his message, again he did not directly protest innocence, he said, "Don't believe them." I believe there is a high risk that if he did get out, he would kill himself, which is why I made the comment yesterday. I was empathizing with what I can only imagine a person in his apparent situation must be going through. That's one of my flaws, I can't really shut off my empathy. It makes it hard to be around people sometimes, or even watch certain kinds of movies or television, like the original British version of The Office took me a really long time to warm up to, I always felt too much empathy towards the character Michael Scott to laugh at him. But I'm babbling now, I guess I don't really have anything else to say at present.
The codemonkeys of Slashdot have obviously been pounding randomly on their keyboards recently. Here's a thought, if you are going to hire monkeys to maintain your code, you should at least test it before deploying it to your live servers. This hasn't been Rob Malda's personal blog for years, it's a fricken' business. Do you Slashdot employees like your jobs? Do you want them to continue to exist? If so, perhaps you should start treating this like a business and not like a hobby. Quit breaking things.
They made me do it! It was the peer pressure! I... I'm on... Facebook now.
I just had an interesting revelation regarding freedom. My mom came down with pancreatic cancer about a year ago, and I felt my personal sense of freedom curtailed. Sure, it was only curtailed by my own sense morality and obligation. but it was limited nonetheless. And I noticed, there is only so much freedom I am willing to give up. I was suddenly much more aware of, and resistant to, all the other limitations on my freedom like my marriage and my job and living in a society where I have to wear pants. Then my mom died, and I inherited a house and quite a bit of money. Now that my freedom is far less constrained by finances, or by dying single mother, only child dynamics, the minor impositions of job and marriage and pants obsessed society don't even register.
I've read that the sense of certainty is simply an emotion, a specific analog circuit that engages and drives our logical mind to come up with explanations. Now, through experience, I believe our sense of freedom is another emotional circuit. While in a strictly deterministic world individual freedom does not exist as such, the sense of personal freedom is a very real part of the chain of cause and effect.
(And thus, a personal conundrum is resolved, cognitive dissonance is decreased, and pants are worn.)
After nearly a decade with the same sig, I've decided to get rid of the Python quote and replace it with something even more combative. I saw it in an Empire: Total War loading screen, heh heh.
"None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but license." --John Milton.
Liberty is a social contract, it requires active participation to achieve it. License is "I get to do what I want."
So I served a guy a restraining order today. He'd beat up my friend a couple times, gave him a concussion the last time. So my friend got a restraining order, but he's a waiter and this is the dead time of year for that in Santa Fe, and he doesn't have the money to pay the sheriff to serve the papers. So I volunteered. This guy is a punk ass gangster wannabe who hangs out with a crowd of (snicker) Santa Fe toughs. But they kicked the shit out of my friend in public a couple times, and they are cracked out of their heads a lot of the time, so yeah, I was a little scared. But it was the right thing to do, and the fact that you have to pay someone to serve a restraining order sucks balls, so I had to do it. I had to track the fucker down, too, because he didn't show up for work tonight. He was off at some bar with his friends. I walked right up to him, made sure it was him (I've never met the guy), handed him the papers and walked out, calm as you please.
My hands are shaking a little bit now, though.
Pancreatic cancer. You just don't recover from that one. This last year has been pretty hard. I'm the only child of a single mom, so this has all been on me and my wife. And of course, being my mom, she had to go die oversees. In a little tiny village outside of Peterborough in England. Well, she actually passed away in a Sue Ryder hospice in Peterborough, Thorpe Hall. The building is older than my country. She was staying with her old friend Marianna and her husband in Nassington. So there we were, my wife and I, in a foreign country experiencing the snowstorm of the decade, staying with virtual strangers in a tiny village with all of 20 or so buildings, for Christmas. I'll just say this, my mom died like she lived: weirdly.
I got a new box on Slashdot this afternoon, thanking me for my 'positive contributions' and letting me turn off advertising because of them. Wait, there's advertising on the Internet now? When did that start?
So, what is your position on property ownership?
1.) Personal Property
I think, you work for it, it's yours. I help defend what you worked for from those who would take it unfairly, you do the same for me.
2.) Real Property
Natural resources should not be owned. If you are working an area, I'll ask if I can help and what the terms are before I help myself. If you claim an area you aren't working, I won't respect that unless you and I have made a personal deal to that regard. If someone tries to drive you from their land, I'll try to help you stop them, if you are willing to do the same for me.
3.) Intellectual Property
I'll always say where I got my ideas from. I'd like it if I could get some recognition for my good ideas.
Cooperation versus competition?
I think cooperation is almost always in an individual's self interest. Competition, of the form where some people have to 'lose' in order for others to win, is usually not in an individual's self interest, if it can be avoided.
Taking care of others?
I think desperate, frightened, hurt, or angry humans are the most dangerous thing on the planet. Making sure no one feels that way unnecessarily is in everyone's best interest. I resent people getting a free ride on the work some of us try to do making sure people aren't a danger due to desperation.
The free market?
A really good idea, in theory. However, a hybrid system where competition is balanced with cooperation is better for everyone. The benefits of such cooperation should be limited to other cooperators, and not extended to the ruthless and selfish.
That's a start.
I just love trolling libertarians. They are so easy to work up into a frothing rage. Like flat-earthers and creationists, they have to shut off all logical parts of their minds in order to go on believing their patently untrue and counter-factual ideology. This makes them easy pickings for trolls. Now, unlike most trolls, I actually believe what I'm writing. But that's beside the point. The point is, watching stupid people get angry is fun.
From this comment by gringofrijolero, I got the idea to do a whole 'wiki-dickory-sock' song, I figure 8-10 verses would do. So, first verse, taking gringofrijolero's verse and making it more Wikipedia specific:
Rules lawyers ran out the clock
We all got bored
"Yeah, you're the lord."
Then the verse I came up with:
Deletionists erased 'River_Ock'
The river's not notable,
Its water's not potable,"
Now to expand on the examples I came up with in the thread:
The vandals defaced 'Iraq.'
They said it was good
When Saddam got wood
Hmm, the original rhyme does end with the same nonsense line it begins with, but Andrew Dice Clay uses the last line for the punchline to good comedic effect, perhaps I should here.
The vandals defaced 'Iraq.'
They said it was good
When Saddam got wood
So we banned their whole IP block.
But then there is the difficulty in coming up with twice as many relevant and funny '-ock' rhymes. Cock and block only go so far.
Deletionists erased 'River_Ock'
The river's not notable,
Its water's not potable,
Put it on the chopping block!
Rules lawyers ran out the clock
We all got bored
"Yeah, you're the lord."
(of making us sleepy, you cock)
Thought for latter 'Trekkies aren't quite as logical as Spock.' Work it in somehow. 'Puppet masters brought out every sock' will make a good last line somewhere.
Best knock knock joke ever:
YOU SAID YOU'D NEVER FORGET!!
The primary function of society is the sharing or mediation of risk and reward. Thoughts?
Warning! Do not eat these. They are not candy. Although I suppose if you've been hankering for some gummi fish that taste like actual fish you may be in for a treat. My boss gave me some just now. "Want some gummi fish?" he asked, and me being a sucker for sweet-sour gummi things in general, I popped one in my mouth as he continued, "They're full of vitamins and Omega-3..." Right. Fish oil. These things taste like sugar and citrus coated rancid fish. Just nasty. I'm still trying to get the flavor out of my mouth.
Consider the simplified case of three property owners, A, B, and C. Here's what their property looks like:
Now, A and C make an agreement not to buy any of Bs goods or sell anything to B. B doesn't own enough land to support him and all his family living there. He doesn't have enough land for an airport, or a helicopter. A and C won't let him on their property, and they won't let anyone else deliver anything to him over their property either. B and his family starve to death, then A and C split his land between themselves.
Please, explain how this scenario or more complex variants of it would not be commonplace in a true libertarian system. "Force" is more complex than libertarian philosophy likes to admit.
From this post, just wanted to save it because I think it distills much of the objection I have towards libertarianism into a succinct argument, and if anyone can refute the premise, it would go a long way towards convincing me that libertarianism isn't morally bankrupt.
Also this, from the same thread:
The real ideological difference lies in what qualifies as "hitting first," and also what qualifies as "freedom." For instance, should people be free to own more real estate than they themselves can work, and charge rent for said real estate? If people have that freedom, is it "hitting first" for them to withhold food from workers who have no other means of support than working for them at whatever wage they offer?
In a system with total individual freedom and strong property rights, what is to keep the most ruthless from leveraging the power that accumulated wealth has to influence markets, and using that power to keep other people dependent on them? Is economic coercion "hitting first?"
If people do have the right to own more land than they themselves can work, then isn't it also a freedom for a group of people to, say, call themselves "The United States of America" and make up some rules regarding what others can do with "The United States of America's" land? After all, isn't that really nothing more than land owned by a group of individuals?
There is a lot of difference in ideology even amongst people who subscribe to the ideals of freedom and not hitting first. So much so that different camps within that group all seriously question the other sides' commitment to those ideals. You know, the whole rift between individualist anarchism and social anarchism.
Oh, and happy Troll Tuesday everybody!
Roses are red, too.
Two times six is twelve.
There are twelve inches in a ruler.
Queen Mary was a ruler.
Queen Mary was a ship.
Ships sail in the sea.
Fish swim in the sea.
Fish have fins.
The Finns fought the Russians.
Russians are Reds.
Fire engines are always rushin'
therefore, fire engines are red.
I suppose it's time. I seem to get them once a year. But I got ten this time, is that new?
I just got back from the Novell Brainshare conference in Salt Lake City. It was a fun week. I attended lots of sessions on Linux and other open source tools. There was free (well, someone payed for me to be there...) food, free massages, free lattes, & lots of swag. Novell had a tech lab giving lots of interesting demos, and there were several dozen vendors and ISVs present. On Wednesday, Frank Caliendo opened for Collective soul at a free concert put on by Novell and open to the general public.
Perhaps the most interesting was a tutorial on using AppArmor. It's a great system for protecting applications. Novell bought the company that produced it several years ago and open sourced it. Basically, you point AppArmor at an application and put it in learning mode. You put the app through its intended uses, and then answer a series of questions regarding what AppArmor saw it doing. For instance, the app accessed a file. You can allow, deny, or 'glob.' Meaning, put in an asterisk. So it could access any file in a particular directory. There are also a series of pre-built templates you can add which allow certain sets of operations. Then you put AppArmor in enforce mode, and it keeps the app from doing things it shouldn't. Even if its running as root.
I'm impressed with Novell's commitment to open source. They are moving everything to Linux. Netware is no more, Netware services live on in Open Enterprise Server built on Suse Linux. Novell gave a great presentation on using the GNU autotools for their partners who want to move their products to Linux. Who knew using autconf, automake, libtool, and the rest could be so easy? Not me.
I've been working on setting up a log server, analysis, reporting, and notification system recently. I'm using Linux HA to fail-over an IP address and restart syslog. The logs are stored on an OCFS2 filesystem shared by the two nodes in the cluster. I use octopussy to analyze, report, and notify, and monit as a client side add in for logging additional information.
Well, things are still going very well with Merrill and Jenny and I. When he and Jenny have problems, he works to resolve them. That's what really matters in a relationship. No one is going to be perfect, and no one can read someone else's mind. But as long as someone is willing to work with you, to communicate, negotiate, and compromise, then the relationship can work.
He's much more comfortable being affectionate, and telling her he loves her. We're starting to think about the future in terms of all of us. He and I still get along great. Quite frankly, we both like a certain amount of alone time, and as much as we love Jenny, it's nice to have days when we can just do whatever we like without a woman hovering over us
Jenny found an article about polyamory in our local weekly, evidently there is a new discussion group here in Albuquerque that meets bi-weekly. We're planning on going. I've found these kinds of groups to be very helpful in the past, as it's comforting to know that we're not total freaks, there are others like us out there. And it helps to talk about issues that happen in polyamory.