Saturday, March 31, 2007

Medical Physician

On a TV ad for some kind of useless health supplement someone introduces himself as a medical physician. As opposed to a circus performer physician I guess.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Thursday, March 29, 2007

It's not always what it seems

You see a lot of hype on tv, in the newspaper, even in recent spam, about the risks of identity theft.

The whole thing is just way overblown though. These days they call credit card theft or unauthorized use of a credit card identity theft. The difference between the risks levels of a stolen credit card and a stolen identity are huge though. They aren't the same thing at all.

All you have to do to protect yourself from risks of credit card theft is to keep track of your credit cards and when one is missing to report it. You're covered. Most of the risk is carried by the credit card issuer.

Identity theft is when someone uses your identity to apply for new credit, credit you don't even know about until it goes into default. That's a problem and can be a nightmare to clear up.

But the two things are just very different, news shows and stories that conflate the two are doing the public a huge disservice.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Chicago cops

Lifestyle and Political Blogs


The US recently convicted one of the detainees we are holding a gitmo. After 5 years of isolation and intensive interrogation (and having the US Military judge refuse to allow his lawyers in the courtroom) he confessed.

The Iranians have held 16 British military prisoner for a few days. One of them confessed.

The official story is that she was probably coerced and her confession doesn't mean it's true that they were in Iranian waters. Tony Blair knows better than her where they actually were.

But, why are they being called hostages? They are prisoners. Even if Tony Blair is right and they were actually in Iraq waters that just means they are innocent of the charges. That doesn't mean they weren't legally arrested and have status as prisoners.

Hostages? Give me a break.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Monday, March 26, 2007

Prison population

Every prison does multiple counts of inmates every day. They get the counts right, they go into lockdown if the physical count doesn't match the expected count and stay in lockdown until the reconcile. A few times a day they do this.

But we can't get an accurate count of how many people are locked up in the US without waiting for months. The US DOJ provides an estimate of the number of people locked up on Dec 31, 2005 sometime in Nov 2006. Eleven months? Why? Why can't such numbers be gathered and added up within a few days?

I don't know. But my guess is that we have to wait for political approval of the numbers before the public is allowed to know them. Got to protect the public from too much information.

Here's some interesting numbers from the front page of that report --
From 1995-2005 the total number of persons under state supervision - probation, parole, jail, or prison, grew by 2.5%. Just the number of persons incarcerated in a prison grew 3%.

During a time when the rhetoric of criminal justice is that prisons are overcrowded and we need to seek alternatives to incarceration, it's the long term incarceration that grows in population rather than the alternatives.

Something is dysfunctional about this system. Deeply dysfunctional.

I'll try to look into this more deeply later.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Saturday, March 24, 2007


In a Travel Channel show (Bizarre Foods) they go fishing for pirhana. He says, "The pirhana in this lake don't eat human flesh, they just go after smaller fish".

For bait they use small chunks of beef.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Friday, March 23, 2007

No Bong Hits for Jesus

Austin Defense Blog has a short post on the Supreme Court "Bong hits for Jesus" case that gives a link to the transcript of oral arguments.

Follow the link and read the arguments. It makes me want to cry, the lack of logic and lack of any sense of proportion is chilling.

The language on the banner is so clearly a joke, making fun of school policy about both drugs and religion, I just can't imagine anyone having taken it seriously. But it has become very serious.

The lesson that is intended for the students involved? Don't make jokes about authoritarian nutcases.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Dateline hype

Some agent got Chris Hanson to write a book -- everybody gets to cash in. He was on the Daly Show to promote it.

Early in the interview he said that about half the bad guys have gone through the court system and the other half are still pending. Of those who've gone through the court system, all have either plead guilty or were convicted he said.

Then later in the interview he mentions one was found not guilty.

124 out of 125 is a high conviction rate (although I'm guessing those were the easy convictions, the 125 left might not be so easy). But why misrepresent it. Why say "all" when that's simply not true.

I just don't trust Dateline.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Thursday, March 15, 2007


I had some problems when I was a kid, running away from home a couple of times. Once when I was 12, I wasn't even gone overnight. Then again when I was 13, I was gone a couple of weeks that time. When I was picked up by police I spent 3-4 days in a Texas juvenile facility in Travis County. I'm not sure but I think it was a County facility, not a state facility. In 1962 (when this was) in Texas the state juvenile facilities were very, very bad, closed down by the Feds a couple of years later.

But the county juvenile lockup wasn't all that bad. Except for the Austin burglary detectives. They spent 3 days interrogating me, trying to get me to confess to any or all of about 200 unsolved burglaries they had on a real long list. Over and over. They wouldn't let me go to the lunch room, they'd bring me a tray after the meal time and let me eat in a room with a big window looking out at the other inmates playing baseball. Then after lunch they'd explain that all I had to do was confess to some of those burglaries and I could play baseball for the rest of the afternoon and go home tomorrow. Three days of it. It wasn't really that hard to ignore them for three days.

I didn't confess to any of them. And they didn't actually torture me, just used some intense psychological manipulation.

I didn't commit any of them either, btw. I had some cash saved up from a paper route and a weekend job and had been living with various slightly older teenage biker types with parents who worked nights. I still had a couple hundred dollars left when I was arrested, and this was 1962, so it would have been a while before I might have started doing burglaries.

But, I think if I'd gone through a month or two of that interrogation treatment I'd have confessed to something eventually.

I think about that when I read about the CIA claims that this terrorist type they've been interrogating for years has confessed to 30 or so really bad things. His confessions have no meaning at all, they have zero meaning when you consider just a part of the conditions in which he was interrogated. Even if he wasn't tortured, the conditions of his confinement make the statements meaningless.

Update: Some seem think the confession is meaningful

Update: Freakonomics points out the disconnect between the idea that one man masterminded every bad act and the overall fear created by the idea that we're at war with a large Army of Islamic nutcases.

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


Senator and candidate for the Democratic nomination for President 08 said something on MSNBC about the Justice Department firing of the US attorneys that I thought was really, really stupid and gives some insight into his approach to governance.

He said he's not ready to ask for the resignation of Gonzales yet because he's not sure that the wrongdoing reached into the office of the AG.

Bull shit.

The fired US Attorneys were fired for political purposes tied to the use of criminal prosecution to manipulate elections. These guys were all appointed by the President and approved by the Senate.

There's no way in hell the Attorney General wasn't involved. If he wasn't he's so incompetent that he should be fire anyway.

Dodd's approach has nothing to do with what Dodd claims it does. He's not giving anybody the benefit of the doubt. He just doesn't care and wants to have hearings to give him TV time. No other explanation makes sense.

He's not qualified for the job of President of the United States.

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Monday, March 12, 2007

Volunteer armies are run by incompetent Generals

In a 60 minutes editorial, Andy Rooney made an arguement for using the draft to fight American Wars. Andy is so sure we can fight wars with draftees he even thinks we don't need a standing Army.

Basically he argued that the draft results in a better class of soldier. He's right. Not onloy that I think it results in a better class of General, it improves the whole military. We have a serious, excess suppply of incompetent, even cowardly, generals that's a direct result of a volunteer military.

I went to vietnam as part of a drafted military. I enlisted in the Navy, I wasn't drafted, but without the draft I'd have never enlisted. Not that we did quite as good a job winning our war as Andy did when he was drafted.

One characteristic of draftees that you don't often find in volunteer warriors, is a lack of tolerance of complete bullshit. I'm not sure people like our current crop of generals would actually be generals in a drafted Army. Nobody seems to ever require actual competence to succeed in a volunteer army, all it takes is typical chicken-shit avoidance of actually doing anything.

General Kiley gets to retire. Why isn't he being court-martialed. A General in a real Army that displayed the level of incompetence of this guy wouldn't survive. There's something seriouly wrong with a volunteer army if they make General's out of clowns like this and then don't even require competent performance.

Update. Some comments on Walter Reed, the Army, and the VA


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Where is Dateline when we need them?

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Lock 'em up early in Texas

To ensure a future supply of inmates for our prison system you have to start preparing them young. Texas leads the way.

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

What's the matter with us?

We arrest people at work in Massachusetts, many of them parents, and right away ship them to a prison in Texas for detainment. The crime they've committed is that they work. What kind of country are we? What kind of people behave that way?

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Texas Rangers

When I was a kid in Texas schools they taught us that Rangers were about Truth and Justice.

It turns our they're really just cops, and like all cops they are trained to lie even when they don't need to.

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

School District screws up and teachers pay

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Canadian Drug War

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Another nutcase teacher

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Dateline discussion on RGP

There's a thread on about my Dateline posts.

As is typical of off topic threads on that forum, there's a few people who are at least a little insightful, and there are others who seem to have fundemental misunderstandings about the world around them. And, those with the fundemental misunderstandings seem to be the ones who are the most dogmatic and adament in supported their misconceptions.

Susan is such a poster. Right now she's involved in a sub-thread about "why don't the bad people sue if they're innocent". There's so many things wrong with that question, starting with claims of innocent. There aren't very many claims of innocence. Maybe some are innocent, but certianly not most. At least I'd have a hard time believing some are innocent.

Susan seems to be starting her thought process with the premise that people are either guilty or innocent and that anyone who's guilty of whatever crime she finds important should be subjected to whatever extreme treatment somebody wants. Or something like that. Her shrillness about this stuff doesn't really make her thinking very clear to me. She thinks it's clear, but I think that's just delusional.

After a couple of observations from thread participants that Perverted Justice and Dateline appear to be showing some predatory behavior themselves, here's what Susan has to say

the real predators are those that act on their impulses no matter how they
came by them.

She's not talking about the people from Perverted Justice, she's talking about the demonic child molesters on the other side of the computer chat.

It sounds to me like that what she's saying is that anyone who can be swayed to even think about having sex with a 13 year old is evil and that's nothing wrong with having a half dozen people work weeks to break down any resistance they might be able to put up. If they are weak enough to finially succemb then they are evil and should be erridicated.

That's what it sounds like shes saying to me.

But then I got a little sarcastic and said.

It's always a good thing that you can find somebody to point to and say -- "I'm
better than them".

We're all glad it's working out for you.

Demonization seems to have become an integral part of American Culture. It's a tactic Bush has used very successfully to create a government with a shift in power away from congress and the courts to the Office of the Presidency, resulting in major losses in personal liberties. People accused of sexual misconduct with children certainly seem to qualify for demonization. Susan even takes the Dateline accusations a step further when she says -

I am much better than anyone who fucks a 13 year old, yes I am.

There's no sexual activity anywhere in any of the Dateline stories. Susan knows that. It appears she's not only advocating thought crimes, she's taking the leap that thought is action, that thinking about throwing a rock is in fact throwing a rock. Susan is a long time poster at rgp. I've never thought of her as someone so devoid of rational thought before. But, when you through up the boogey man of child sexual abuse I guess sometimes rational thought just blows away in the wind. Dateline has hit on great ratings trigger with this stuff.

Then in another sub-thread Susan starts harping on civil suits. Her mind seems to translate a lack of immediate civil suits from the accused as proof of guilt -- guilt of things they aren't even accused on to judge by her rape comments. Here's what she says about lawsuits -

Why don't you respond to where are the lawsuits? If my husband/son were
accused of those crimes, I sure as hell would find a way to bring it to the
public eye that they were INNOCENT.

You don't think some high profile law firm would take the case gratis just
for the publicity?

You seem to think that a wrongly accused sexual predator would just live out
his days as a pervert when he was innocent.

I don't know where she gets the idea of innocence. That pretty much has nothing to do with anything.

I tried to make a partial explanation of the difficulties in civil suits --
I don't know. How am I supposed to know? I don't really expect any lawsuits
and don't understand why you would.

I was the plantiff in a successful false arrest law suit a few years ago. We
had no basis for a lawsuit and no chance of winning it before the case went to
trail and we got a not guilty verdict.

Even then it wasn't a slam dunk until I got into the police records room (I was
doing some academic work related to the police and had a letter from the cheif
giving me access to records of internal operations (something the arresting
officer and the prosecutor didn't know).

Those kinds of lawsuits aren't as easy as you seem to think.

There were shit load of suits against perverted justice in 2004. Since then
perverted justice has changed the way they do things somewhat, they don't
publish transcripts until after a conviction for example.

And I'm not sure what the basis for a lawsuit would be.

If my husband/son were
> accused of those crimes, I sure as hell would find a way to bring it to the
> public eye that they were INNOCENT.

Well, you wouldn't have standing to file a lawsuit. And your husband and son's
times would be better spent staying out of prison. Most of these guys are
making deals for probation terms, some not even having to register as sex

Most of these guys aren't innocent, most of them have commited a crime. That
doesn't mean they've harmed any children and ever would have harmed any
children. There are a couple of them where it's pretty clear they wouldn't

But when dealing with serious criminal charges such things aren't really to the
point. About a third of them are pleading guilty in exchange for staying out of
prison. The evidence that's admissible in court isn't realy all that strong and
they aren't having trouble getting those deals.

Most of the rest havn't gone to trial yet, and might not ever go to trial.
Without a not guilty and a look at the prosecutions evidence a civil suit
probably isn't going to work out.

> You don't think some high profile law firm would take the case gratis just
> for the publicity?

Why? Some of them might be, I don't know. I don't know of any criminal charges
that have gone to court.

> You seem to think that a wrongly accused sexual predator would just live out
> his days as a pervert when he was innocent.


I don't even know what that means.

I don't think you have a very clear understanding of our criminal justice

Then the whole thing just turns sad. Susan just doesn't get it.
Gary, if you or your son or you brother or father were injustly accused of
being a child predator on national TV, you wouldn't do something to try and
clear his name? He wouldn't? His wife wouldn't? Just continue on in life
with a sexual predator sign hanging over his head?

There are so many do-gooder high profile lawyers out there that would jump
at the chance to take this on.

I don't "seem to think" this would be an easy thing. But I can guarantee
you that majority of sane people would do everything they could to clear
their or their loved ones names.

She sounds like some niave 20 year old, but she's not, she's in her 50's. I would have thought she'd know better, but I guess not.

I'm not sure that any of the tactics used by Perverted Justice and Dateline are illegal. They might not be. But all that is legal is not right. It's possible to be morally wrong, even if it's legal. The poker world even has a term for that -- we call it angle shooting.

I think there is no doubt that the techniques used in these Dateline stings are wrong. They lie about some of it. It's not true that the targets always make the first contact. The bait is the one that initiates conversation about exchagning photo's, phone numbers, and planning a home visit. They are coy about it, avoiding explicit sexual suggestions, but the inneuando is clear. It's also clear that Perverted Justice has modified chat profiles after the chat's, leaving open the possibility that profiles suggest they like role playing as a young teenager.

Many of the demon perverts targeting take quite a bit of coaxing. In one case the target canceled a visit 3 times but they kept up the pursuit. That's a person that is very unlikely to have ever chased a real 13 year old, very unlikely to have ever committed a crime without the help of Dateline and nhot with a real 13 year old.

Yes, there are a suprisingly large number of people out there who can be manipulated into having inappropriate chat conversations that are illegal. That doesn't meke them predators, it doesn't make them a serious danger to anyone.

I wonder what Susan is so afraid of.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Dateline Predators

I kind of wonder what kind of chatrooms Dateline is surfing. The screen name of one of the predators they think they caught is can_I_rape_you-anally.

I'm sorry people, but this doesn't exactly sound like a screen name in a chat room frequented by 13 year olds. Most adult chat rooms would 86 anyone with that screen name.

Labels: ,

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Take a picture

But be careful where you take it. The first amendment isn't active everyplace in the United States.

Lifestyle and Political Blogs