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Journal: America's two-tiered justice as seen from north of the border 11

Journal by BarbaraHudson
From the CBC - Americans are taught that everyone is equal before the law. Is that still the case?

The answer is a resounding No.

Americans all stand equal before the law, children are taught in this country, regardless of wealth or race or social status. Because this is a classless society.

Of course, children here are also told that a nocturnal fairy will exchange old teeth for cash.

The bitter truth, more obvious by the year, is that law enforcement in the U.S. is actually the enforcement of the class system itself.

If you are poor, you understand that. If you are wealthy, you probably understand it, too, but in another way altogether.

For a member of the American underclass, a minor brush with authorities can turn into the kind of Kafkaesque despair that most Americans associate with places like Egypt or Russia or Iran.

Violent class warfare backed by the state in what is supposed to be a classless society. And it's probably going to get worse as the middle class, after 40 years of not reaping the benefits of their increased productivity, become more disenfranchised and less invested in the future.

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Journal: One of the good things about using a computer again ... 1

Journal by BarbaraHudson
I get to notice the deterioration in my good eye sooner than I would otherwise. So I know what to mention at my next visit in December, since the distortion is similar to how the distortion started in my "bad" eye. Hopefully killing off some more blood vessels with a laser will be all that's needed, since there's no bleeding (though there is a new blind spot that is noticeable on occasion).

If it continues to degenerate noticeably, I'll bump up my appointment.

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Journal: How We Celebrate Turkey Day in Kanuckistan 1

Journal by BarbaraHudson

Canada celebrates Thanksgiving several weeks before the US. This is because historically our growing season is shorter, though this may change due to a combination of improved plant breeds and global warming.

While most people do the Sunday dinner thing, we end up doing it Monday. Why? Because of the annual "It's Thanksgiving weekend so I'm gonna renovate something in the house" that my brother-in-law does. So I spent Saturday and Sunday helping with a wall and laying new flooring in the basement. And am I sore! But that's okay, this evening's Thanksgiving supper will make up for it.

One of my nephews is bringing his new girlfriend, and since everyone who will be in attendance insists on continuing to misgender me and call my by my old name even after all these years, it'll be amusing. I'll just explain the situation, how they can't seem to accept it but that they're family, so what the heck, and watch what happens.

And I'm sure that they'll be delighted* to find out I'm publishing my bio later this year, where I'll write frankly about growing up hiding what I was, the first murder and the resulting ptsd, the sexual assault which made it worse, what it was like transitioning and all the other fun stuff.

And I'll probably hear "why can't you just be gay" AGAIN! Family - gotta love 'em.

(to the tune "This Old Man")
I'm stuck with them,
they're stuck with me,
we're a dysfunctional fa-mi-ly ...
but that's okay 'cuz life is never dull,
so I'm gonna go and eat until I'm full.

Normal is SO over-rated nowadays.

(.*for values of "delighted" equivalent to "If you do that I'm going to change my name so nobody knows we're related")

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Journal: Revisiting old works ... 11

Journal by BarbaraHudson

I was looking back at my old "Gender Education" series. Can't believe it will be NINE YEARS in December. Wow.

It was good for its' time, but it's dated, and isn't the approach I would take today. The world has changed, I have changed, yadda yadda yadda. So, I'm going to revisit the topic, inserting it into my workflow before my other stuff. Should make a good free ebook.

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Journal: Saw this in the firehose 10

Journal by BarbaraHudson

Just in case this doesn't make it to the front page, I'm throwing my two cents in here.

Should Twitter Suspend LGBT Engineer Accused Of Raping Her Wife?

Getting rape prosecuted has long provided its own set of deeply frustrating difficulties, from belligerent questioning of accusers to blatant refusal to investigate claims.

It is also not particularly surprisingâ"but still extremely upsettingâ"that the alleged rapist in this case has insinuated the accuser made her claim for monetary gains. Nor is it surprising that the employer of the accused has neither fired the alleged perpetrator nor denounced the trial.

What is surprising is that the alleged rapist is a well-regarded feminist and LGBT advocate, Dana McCallum, a transgender woman who was named by Business Insider as the fifth-most important LGBT person in the tech world. She is a senior engineer for Twitter, which stated "We don't comment on employeesâ(TM) personal mattersâ when McCallum was charged with five felonies earlier this years: three counts of spousal rape, one count of false imprisonment and one count of domestic violence.

McCallum ultimately pleaded guilty on Tuesday to two misdemeanors: one count of domestic violence with corporal injury to the spouse and one count of false imprisonment. The District Attorney's office insisted on a guilty plea when she attempted to enter no contest. From a legal standpoint, the case is resolved, but the aftershocks in the way we think about rape and assault will reverberate for a long time.

Or at least they should. Unfortunately, the relative silence around McCallumâ(TM)s trial, let alone the issue of woman-on-woman rape and sexual assault, is deafening and disturbing.

Dana McCallum, having pled guilty, should be demoted, not just suspended. This is someone who has demonstrated a serious lack of the people skills necessary to be a senior anything - as someone who needs a period of reflection, and then supervision. As Reuters reports, this is a senior engineer who now needs to take a year's worth of domestic violence classes.

Oct 7 (Reuters) - A senior Twitter engineer hailed as one of the most important gay or transgender people in the tech industry was sentenced on Tuesday to three years probation after pleading guilty to false imprisonment and domestic violence charges, San Francisco prosecutors said.

Dana Contreras, known professionally as Dana McCallum, was also ordered to attend 52 weeks of domestic violence classes and stay away from her wife, the victim in the case, as part of a plea deal with prosecutors.

Under that agreement prosecutors agreed to drop more serious rape charges against Contreras, 33, who was arrested in January after the attack, said Max Szabo, a spokesman for the San Francisco District Attorney's Office.

In addition to her job as an engineer for Twitter, Contreras, who is transgendered, has advocated for gay, women's and transgender rights.

In December of 2013, the tech website Business Insider ranked Contreras No. 5 on its list of the 31 most important LGBT people in tech, calling her "one of the geniuses behind Twitter."

[sarcasm] Way to go, genius. [/sarcasm]

The rule is simple - if you're prominent, you will be held to a higher standard, if only because your screw-ups will cause more damage. And that's fair. After all, you're reaping the benefits of prominence, so you should also expect the responsibilities that go with it. We don't see that happen often enough (just look at Toronto mayor Rob Ford), but we're starting to see it in, of all places, the world of sports, where domestic violence (players) and bigotry (owners) have consequences far beyond the courtroom.

User Journal

Journal: It's official 3

Journal by BarbaraHudson

I am now officially registered with the government as a publisher, with my own ISBN publishers pefix. That's pretty fast (1-day) service. Gotta love Kanuckistan :-)

User Journal

Journal: How many career changes will you make in a lifetime? 11

Journal by BarbaraHudson

The idea of "one career for a lifetime" is getting more and more outdated. It's not just that change is now the only constant when it comes to jobs, but also because people are living longer.

When 80% of the population worked on farms, and people died at an average age of 47, the idea of a "lifelong career" was taken for granted. Then again, so was "lifelong marriage", and "following in your folks footsteps."

That last option is impossible for many, because the jobs their parents had just don't exist any more - and this means that the "work culture" they were exposed to second-hand at home also is no longer a useful reference.

Think of how many jobs the post-WW2 technological revolution has created and now is killing off. TV repairmen? Not too many left. VCR and DVD repairs? Forget it. When's the last time your car needed an "electronic tune-up?" Or, thanks to long-life, self-lubricating materials, to have a "chassis lube?" Points changed? Physical newspapers and books? Even Saturday morning cartoons can't compete with "teh innert00bs."

My situation - at a crossroads

After a couple of years away from the keyboard because of damage to my retinas, I was really relieved to find that I could program again. But something has changed. Me. I found myself asking "Do I really want to get back into *that* rat-race again? The crappy hours, impossible demands, sleazy management, and over-the-top hype, the much ado about nothing that seems to accompany everything in the software industry today?"

After I transitioned, I got to see how women are not treated equally first-hand. We'd be sitting in meetings and end up just rolling our eyes as the men went off on yet another pissing contest, totally ignoring our input, even though in many cases I was the programmer who had to fix the problems their virtual circle jerks caused. And people wonder why women drop out of tech after an average of 10 years in the field???

I loved creating software, so it became my career. Do what you enjoy doing, right? But more and more, I cringe at the thought of the poison that accompanies today's "development culture" - the bogus deadlines, the "ship it then (never) fix it" mentality, the juvenile "pissing contests". I have my development environment all set up, and I find myself doing anything but ...

I've been toying with an idea ...

Every few years, someone comes along and tells me I should write a book. Sure, I can write, and I've got lots I've always wanted to write, but "life gets in the way." I was thinking of going back into programming to pay the bills, and do the writing on the side, but that's not the entrepreneurial spirit that got me into starting my first business, or into programming. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I can either devote all my energies to one or another - or do a crappy job at both by trying to do both. It's true, just as you can only serve one master, you can only follow your own muse.

And I really should follow my muse.

So, I did my research, did some more thinking, and at this time, for me, changing careers is the right thing to do. I've registered with the government as a publisher, and will be receiving my first batch of ISBNs in the next little while. As you can see from a previous post, I'm not going to engage in the more and more lame "I have an idea for a book/game/software - everybody give me money and I'll create it" crowdsourcing model. It's time to let the internet work for me for a bit, and not vice versa.

User Journal

Journal: Publishing idea for slashdotters 10

Journal by BarbaraHudson

Part of the problem with sites like Google Books is that there's no "it's free, unless you want to pay for it" option.

And putting two copies of the same book, one free and one with a price, will look like you're spamming the store.

However, after a bit of investigation, IF the publications have different ISBN numbers, and you add some extra content (I'm thinking cover art, photos, diagrams, etc., that don't result in the free edition being the book version of "crippleware"), it should meet Google's guidelines, because each ISBN number is treated as a separate entity, as opposed to books that don't have an ISBN.



Journal: How Dangerous is Being a Cop in the US? 15

Journal by Jeremiah Cornelius
How Dangerous is Being a Cop in the US?

I saw a posting on Facebook (which I can no longer find, because Facebook posts are ephemeral and the algorithm used to put things on your timeline is apparently unstable) talking about the cost/person of police departments in major cities throughout the US. In the comments was the question "how much do you pay someone to risk getting shot every day?" with the implication that your average police officer in the US faces a substantial risk of death by gunfire daily, and therefore whatever the costs were, they were a good value.

And that got me thinking. Always a dangerous place for me to go.

How dangerous is it to be a police officer in the US? Is there significant risk of dying by gunfire? How does it compare with other occupations?

So let's go.

How many police officers are there in the US? How is that number changing annually?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 780,000 "Police and Detectives" in the US in 2012. That's our baseline. That number, BTW, is expected to grow by 5% by 2022, totaling about 821,000 by then. I'd love more data about this, but it's all I could find in a quick search, so we'll consider 780K as our baseline number of police in the US.

How many police officers died in the line of duty in 2012? Was that number "typical" for the years around it?
According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, 122 officers died in the line of duty in 2012. That number is low compared to 2010 (161) and 2011 (171), but high compared to 2013 (100), so let's dig a little deeper with a graph:

Police Deaths by Year 1990-2013

Graph by Evan Robinson

Frankly, I think I see a slight downward trend in the data, but the math says otherwise. There's virtually no correlation between passage of time and number of police deaths. I note that 2001 (241) is quite an outlier. You have to go back to 1981 to get another year where more than 200 police died, but in the 70s, only 1977 (192) had fewer than 200 police deaths. The 70s were far worse than the 60s, which were worse than the 50s.

What's the chance of death in the line of duty for a police officer in the US? What's the chance of death by gunfire?
If there are 780,000 police officers in the US and 159.4 die annually (the mean from 1990 and 2013 inclusive), the chance of dying is 159.4 in 780,000 or 1 in 4892.8 or .0002. That's about 2 hundredths of a percent. Specifically taking 2012 numbers, it's 122 in 780,000 or 1 in 6393 or .00016, or about 16 thousandths of a percent. But let's take the higher number of 1 in about 4890, again .0002. Expressed as a death rate per 100,000, that is 20.4 -- that is, 20.4 of every 100,000 police officers in the US die annually from line-of-duty causes.

The overall annual death rate in the US for 2010 (the most recent final value I can find according to the Department of Health and Human Services, at the CDC website) was 747.0, with a preliminary value of 740.6 for 2011. So police line-of-duty death rates are about 3% of total mean death rates.

Police line-of-duty deaths, while tragic, are not a significant risk compared to mean death rates in the US.

But wait, we want to talk about gun-related police deaths, right? Again according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, in 2012 50/122 officers killed died from gunfire. Over the past decade, the mean percentage of officer deaths from gunfire was 36%. So the gun-related death rate is 20.4*.36 = 7.4 per 100,000.

How do these death rates compare with other ages, causes, and professions?
In 2008 (the most recent year for which data in a complete Statistical Abstract of the United States is available), the only age range to have a death rate anywhere near that low is 5-14, where the male death rate was 24 and the female death rate was 12. Police officer line-of-duty deaths are therefore less common (statistically) than any death of 5-14 year old boys, although more common than 5-14 year old girls. Line-of-duty gun deaths are about one-third as common as all deaths of 5-14 year old boys and about half as common as all deaths of 5-14 year old girls. In 2008, the mean death rate for males 25-35 (in which age range I imagine many police officers fall) was 225. For males 35-44 it was 348. So depending upon their age range, police officers are between 10x and 17x more likely to die from non-work-related causes than line-of-duty causes. And 30x to 47x more likely to die from non-work-related causes than line-of-duty gunfire.

In 2006, comparable causes of death to all line-of-duty deaths include: Heart Failure (excluding ischemic heart disease aka "a heart attack") at 20.2; NonTransport Accidents (including falls, drowning, smoke inhalation, fire/flames, and poisoning) at 24.4; Diabetes at 24.2; Alzheimer's disease at 24.2; Drug and Alcohol induced deaths (combined) at 20.2.

Also in 2006, comparable causes of death to gun-related line-of-duty deaths include: prostate cancer at 9.5; Leukemia at 7.3; Falls at 7.0; Alcohol induced deaths at 7.4.

According to preliminary data for 2013 (see page 14), the rate of "fatal occupational injuries" in Construction is 9.4 per 100,000; Transportation and Warehousing is 13.1; Agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting is 22.2; Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction is 12.3.

In other words, it's as dangerous to be a police officer as it is to be a farmer (3 million people), forester or logger (1.7 million people), commercial fisherman (1 million people) or hunter (about 14,000 people). So there are over 5.7 million jobs in the US more dangerous than being a police officer. And another 6 million in construction, which has a higher death rate than police gun-related deaths.

What's it all mean?
So yeah, being a police officer is a dangerous job, but the job-related danger is much less than your basic life-related danger (health problems, general accidents, etc.). And there are about 7 times more people doing Ag-related jobs which are more dangerous than being a police officer.

So what do we have to pay these people to risk being shot every day? I'd say a mean of about $57K per year, which is what they get. Maybe we need to raise the pay of the people in Agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting, who get mean annual wages in the $18K - $41K range for more dangerous jobs.

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
I realize that putting the TL;DR way down here kind of defeats the purpose, but it allows me to put the conclusion after the work, which I like.

Being a police officer is a dangerous occupation. But there are plenty of people in the US who do more dangerous jobs for far less pay. Police line of duty death rates are comparable to death rates from Diabetes and Alzheimer's disease or the combination of drug and alcohol induced deaths. Police line of duty shooting death rates are comparable to alcohol induced deaths, Leukemia, or death by falling. A male police officer between 25 and 44 is many times (10x - 17x) more likely to die from a non-work-related cause than to die in the line of duty. And only about one-third of those line-of-duty deaths are gun-related.

And here's something else to think about
On average a police officer dies in the line of duty in the US about every 55 hours (everything you need for this calculation is above so I'm not going to insult your intelligence by including it). On average a police officer kills a civilian (about 400 annually) about every 22 hours. So I think we have more to worry about from them than they do from us.

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Journal: Ben Bernanke tries to refinance for 3rd time in 5 years, turned down. 8

Journal by BarbaraHudson

So Ben Bernanke tried to refinance his home for a 3rd time in 5 years, and got turned down. Guess what, Ben? You shouldn't be treating your home as an ATM.

Bernanke reportedly bought his home in 2004, slightly before he was named as America's top central banker and the man with more control over lending rates than anyone else on Earth.

He refinanced the home in 2009, then again in 2011. And based on his comments this week, it appears he was rejected by a bank when he tried to do so again recently.

"Just between the two of us," Bloomberg quoted him as telling the audience. âoeI recently tried to refinance my mortgage and I was unsuccessful in doing so."

When the comment drew laughs, he added "Iâ(TM)m not making that up."

"I think itâ(TM)s entirely possible" that lenders "may have gone a little bit too far on mortgage credit conditions," he said.

I guess the 1%ers still think that absolutely none of the rules don't apply to them, and that banks should continue to make risky loans to them, just because of who they are.

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Journal: Coupon sites dealfind, teambuy bankrupt, bought by Ncrowd 1

Journal by BarbaraHudson
Less than 2 weeks ago, the company that owns discount coupon sites and filed for bankruptcy. People who had bought discount coupons aren't getting refunds from either teambuy or the individual merchants (who are also refusing to honor the coupons).

Deal-lovers who bought everything from tooth whitening treatments to digital cameras on and are angry about getting burned along with some merchants after the cut-rate online coupon sitesâ(TM) insolvency filing in Canada.

One of Canadaâ(TM)s largest coupon websites has filed for bankruptcy protection, leaving customers stranded. Couch Commerce Inc., the parent company of and, went into financial restructuring in Canada under the Companiesâ(TM) Creditors Arrangement Act on Aug. 29.

This month, it sent form-letter emails to customers, saying they could not get refunds related to any purchases made on or before that date. Nor could they use any credits issued on or before that date.

The new acquirer, ncrowd, currently has an empty FAQ page, so former dealfind and teambuy customers need to rely on blogs and the press for information.

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Journal: Is Windows 10 really that "business friendly?" 3

Journal by BarbaraHudson

Sure, the conventional start menu is back, but the live tiles off to the side are going to present two problems for business, who will probably want to lock that feature down tight or remove it entirely. I can't picture employers wanting their employees to customize the menu so that they can see their facebook, twitter, or other social media feeds. And I don't think employers want every supplier of data to a live tile to know every time the user clicks the start menu.

Sure, you could set a time between refreshes (but that sort of defeats the whole concept of a "live" tile), but the suppliers of the data feeds are still going to have some idea of when the person starts work, etc.

Back when businesses first integrated Windows into their workspaces, there was a tremendous waste of time by employees playing solitaire and arranging the desktop the way they liked it, always fiddling around with the wallpaper and icons. And then the web came along, in many ways making things worse. And smartphones. Live tiles are going to be yet another distraction. Every time a user goes to start another application, they're going to be presented with several opportunities to look at something else instead. Distractions lead to mistakes and lower productivity, and businesses will be paying for this. So too will employees who find themselves out of a job because they get caught up in the "new shiny" to the point where their work suffers.

At least with Windows 8.1, you can disable showing the start menu by default and never see a live tile. Unless Microsoft provides a way to completely lock down or disable tiles in the start menu, I don't think Windows 10 is going to be classifiable as "business friendly".

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Journal: Example of a legitimate use for Tor 1

Journal by BarbaraHudson
Found this in the Firehose. Hope it makes it to the front page, because in some jobs, and some parts of the world, being "stealth" when you're trans is the only safe option How Tor protects and serves transgender service members.

Last year, for example, a Navy cryptologist named Landon Wilson was put up for promotion while serving in Afghanistan. The recognition of ultimately backfired: As the paperwork was prepared, colleagues found out that Landon was born a girl and was thus was a transgender man. He was fired despite his prowess and the resources the military had poured into training him.


Other soldiers claimed they were forced to bury dead bodies and take on other punitive duties after their gender identity had been outed.

Multiple women [serving in Afghanistan] have told me that they were suddenly put at the head of their supply convoys every week until the end of their tour, with the idea that if there were an [explosive device], theyâ(TM)d be in the position that would be struck by it,â

Pretty good argument that not all users of Tor are doing it to hide acts of wrongdoing.

The Matrix

Journal: The Matrix is Mimetic 13

Journal by Jeremiah Cornelius

As Yuval Harari points out, "What is so special about us that allows for such cooperation? Unflatteringly, it is our talent for deluding ourselves. If you examine any large-scale human cooperation (or co-option), you will always find some imaginary story at its base. As long as many people believe in the same stories about gods, nations, money or human rights (memes and antitropes) - they follow the same laws and rules (of conduct)."

"It is easier to fight for principles than to live up to them." -- Alfred Adler