April 8, 2013

From Gideon’s Trumpet, a book describing Clarence Earl Gideon’s ultimately successful quest, half a century ago, to have the Supreme Court declare that state courts must provide attorneys for indigent criminal defendants:

The prison officials did not mind Gideon’s legal activities—indeed they seemed to regard them as therapy. One said: “Usually when they’re trying to get out legally, you know they walk on their toes around here.” They knew all about his case in the Supreme Court, but even the possible effect of a victory for Gideon on other prisoners who had been tried without counsel did not seem to bother them as it did some prosecutors. An assistant warden said: “Our feeling is: Boys, if you can get out of here legal, we’re with you.”

From USA Today last year:

At a time when states are struggling to reduce bloated prison populations and tight budgets, a private prison management company is offering to buy prisons in exchange for various considerations, including a controversial guarantee that the governments maintain a 90% occupancy rate for at least 20 years. . . . The proposal seeks to build upon a deal reached last fall in which the company purchased the 1,798-bed Lake Erie Correctional Institution from the state of Ohio for $72.7 million. . . . Ohio’s deal requires the state to maintain a 90% occupancy rate, but Janes said that provision remains in effect for 18 months — not 20 years — before it can be renegotiated.


March 10, 2013

“Heavy users” as the cornerstone of the junk food business:

In an effort to control as much market share as possible, Coke extended its aggressive marketing to especially poor or vulnerable areas of the U.S., like New Orleans — where people were drinking twice as much Coke as the national average — or Rome, Ga., where the per capita intake was nearly three Cokes a day. In Coke’s headquarters in Atlanta, the biggest consumers were referred to as “heavy users.” “The other model we use was called ‘drinks and drinkers,’ ” Dunn said. “How many drinkers do I have? And how many drinks do they drink? If you lost one of those heavy users, if somebody just decided to stop drinking Coke, how many drinkers would you have to get, at low velocity, to make up for that heavy user? The answer is a lot. It’s more efficient to get my existing users to drink more.”

“Heavy users” as the cornerstone of the firearms business?

The household gun ownership rate has fallen from an average of 50 percent in the 1970s to 49 percent in the 1980s, 43 percent in the 1990s and 35 percent in the 2000s, according to the survey data, analyzed by The New York Times. . . .

The findings contrast with the impression left by a flurry of news reports about people rushing to buy guns and clearing shop shelves of assault rifles after the massacre last year at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.

“There are all these claims that gun ownership is going through the roof,” said Daniel Webster, the director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research. “But I suspect the increase in gun sales has been limited mostly to current gun owners. The most reputable surveys show a decline over time in the share of households with guns.”

(h/t Digby)

Jesus fuck.

September 11, 2008

Are the fire hydrants in your neighborhood turned on?

He explains all the district’s hydrants, including those in Alexander Ranch, have had their water turned off since just after 9/11 – something a trade association spokesman tells us is common practice for rural systems.

“These hydrants need to be cut off in a way to prevent vandalism or any kind of terrorist activity, including something in the water lines,” Hodges said.

But Hodges says fire departments know, or should have known, the water valves can be turned back on with a tool.

. . .

The neighborhood association’s now working to get the tools in the hands of homeowners, as an extra precaution.

I can’t get over how absurd this is. I mean, come on.

H/t Bruce Schneier.


August 15, 2008

Best idea ever: using CAPTCHAs to decipher old, damaged texts. Kind of the inverse of using browsers of internet pornography to break CAPTCHAs, in a way.

I really like this approach, especially since I myself would probably have contributed much more to PGDP if it were presented as an unobtrusive word at a time, rather than requiring me to actively complete an entire page. Because I’m lazy like that.

Things I’ve been reading

May 17, 2005

This, these few things, this and this, this stuff, this sort of thing, and of course this and this.

All are interesting and well written. (What, you wanted commentary? Maybe later.)

Song of the Moment: «Isohaara» — CMX

Toothsome! Wait, no.

May 3, 2004

Only in Britain would they rather grow new teeth than brush the ones they already have.

See also: ROFL

Happy Birthday, Saddam!

April 28, 2004

Behold: Saddam gets birthday visit by Red Cross. Something tells me his 67th birthday was celebrated with much more restraint than, say, his 64th. Physical restraints, like handcuffs and a prison cell. Ho ho.

Also behold: Woman May Have Driven Around With Dead Mom. Like Weekend at Bernie’s but slightly less hilarious.

Song of the Moment: «Into the Dead Sky» — At the Gates

Non Sequitur

April 26, 2004

Am I alone in considering this article on toilets a compelling reason for moving to Germany?

Also, woodpeckers and their hyoids are awesome.

Furthermore, I need me one of these.

Finally, Jon Johansen remains the king.

Song of the Moment: «King of Asskissing» — The Hives

Roundup and Squaredown

April 17, 2004

So this morning I had class at 9am. On a fucking Saturday. The professor had had to miss a few classes in the past couple of weeks, and wanted to make them up. As it turned out, Saturday morning was the only time this week that everybody was available. Great.

At least the class session went pretty well, all things considered. Of course, instead of going to sleep last night and waking up in the morning I decided to stay up, play guitar, eat ice cream, and read about the Khmer Rouge and rationality instead.

I don’t regret anything, though, if for no other reason than that I started listening to a lot of Crass at 4 in the morning and I realized that they are a really fucking good band. I don’t just like them for their savory blend of furor and pacifism or their frankly astonishing adherence to their founding principles, I legitimately enjoy their music. Imagine, if you will, a combination of Neu! and the Violent Femmes playing short and angry songs sung in a nearly incomprehensible British accent by an angry (and possibly short) man. That’s probably as good a description of their music as any.

Song of the Moment: «Contaminational Power» — CrassПравославни икони

Nicht zu schnell.

April 17, 2004

It was only in the past month that I realized just how incredible the Stooges were and how much I liked Fun House. Perhaps they’re ancient, and perhaps finding them novel has been out of fashion for quite some time. Perhaps the same is true about Gustav Mahler and his Symphony No. 5 in C-sharp minor, introduced to me within the past week. Fuck it, I’m listening to both Iggy and Gus with fresh ears, and doing my best to appreciate them for what they are. It is appropriate, then, that my playlist is filled with Detroit’s dirtiest and Austria’s most heroic when I come across the following:

If I were in a perverse mood, I’d say that the “Eroica” is the raw, thuggish thing—a blast of ego and id—whereas a song like Radiohead’s “Everything in Its Right Place” is all cool adult irony.

Thank you, The New Yorker. And thank you, Wired, for pointing me to the above. As far as Shuffle goes, however, all the waxing poetic in the world can’t hide the fact that far more random transitions are shitty than are sublime.

Song of the Moment: «Dirt» — The Stooges

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