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Journal: Oh, shit. 28

Journal by spun

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.

User Journal

Journal: Slashcode Follies 6

Journal by spun

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.

User Journal

Journal: Freedom 5

Journal by spun

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.)

User Journal

Journal: Changing my sig 1

Journal by spun

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."

User Journal

Journal: You've been served 13

Journal by spun

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.

User Journal

Journal: Mom passed away Christmas morning 9

Journal by spun

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.

User Journal

Journal: Hey jcr, let's talk

Journal by spun

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.

User Journal

Journal: A lovely Troll Tuesday

Journal by spun

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.

User Journal

Journal: Wiki-Dickery-Sock 1

Journal by spun

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:

Wiki-Dickery-Sock
Rules lawyers ran out the clock
We all got bored
"Yeah, you're the lord."
Wiki-Dickery-Sock

Then the verse I came up with:

Wiki-Dickery-Sock
Deletionists erased 'River_Ock'
The river's not notable,
Its water's not potable,"
Wiki-Dickery-Sock

Now to expand on the examples I came up with in the thread:

Wiki-Dickery-Sock
The vandals defaced 'Iraq.'
They said it was good
When Saddam got wood
Wiki-Dickery-Sock

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.

Wiki-Dickery-Sock
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.

Wiki-Dickery-Sock
Deletionists erased 'River_Ock'
The river's not notable,
Its water's not potable,
Put it on the chopping block!

Wiki-Dickery-Sock
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.

User Journal

Journal: Attention Freaks and Fans 3

Journal by sm62704

I've managed to get the password to my old "mcgrew" account, so I won't be using this one any more. Its first journal will reference and link this account.

If you are on my "fans" list, I'll be adding you to the "friends" list of the mcgrew account. Please be patient; I'm doing it alphabetically, and by hand, and slashdot only lets me do so many at a time. If you are onn my "freaks" list you'll just have to add "mcgrew" to your "foes" list; I am not going to have "foes" in that account, either.

The mcgrew journals will be more rationally listed under the old mcgrew account. The first one is Under the rainbow.

So, I made a move on Charlie, and, well, let's just say that I'm not very good at seduction. By "not very good" I mean I suck at it badly. I doubt I've ever seduced a woman in my life; every one I had, they had their eye on me first. Maybe that's the way it works, I don't know.

She was gentle in her rejection.

Well almost; there is Eye muss bee knew hear pretty much saying what I'm saying here (-1, redundant). As that account started out with neutral karma, having not been used since January 2000, and this account has excellent karma, nobody can accuse me of being a karma whore! I've never worried about karma before and I don't intend to start now.

I'll see you at the new; er, I mean "old" account!

And again, a big thank you to samzepus!

Education

Journal: College Textbook Affordability Act 11

Journal by sm62704

I ran across an item in the local paper today that I think will interest young slashdotters who haven't yet finished with college. My US Senator, Dick Durbin, has authored the "College Textbook Affordability Act".

The paper says major provisions of the act were "included in the higher education reauthorization signed into law on Aug. 14."

The textbook provision doesn't take effect until July 1, 2010, creating a waiting period he said textbook publishers pushed hard to get. But he urged students, faculty and administrators to work now to minimize costs of needed books.

The law will require publishers to provide in writing to professors the price of books, and also information on other formats in which the material may be available. Publishers also will be required to offer for sale some products that are now bundled -- such as a book, workbook and computer disk -- separately.

"Imagine," Durbin said, "these are professors picking books that they don't have to pay for.
They're picking them for someone else to pay for, and I hope that they'll start putting themselves in the shoes of the students when they start thinking about that cost."

UIS Chancellor Richard Ringeisen said "I've heard from students who ... have to avoid the courses that they need for their major because they can't afford the books that semester." Ashley Rook, 22, a Chicago native and political science graduate student who is president of the Student Government Association at UIS said "I've heard from students who avoid buying the books altogether because they simply can't afford them, so they try to get by in class" through borrowing and other means.

"It really diminishes the quality of their education," she said.

Chris Barron, spokesman for Dr. Steve Sauerberg of Willowbrook, Durbin's GOP opponent in the Nov. 4 election, belittled Durbin's press event.

"If this is what Senator Durbin, the second-ranking member of the United States Senate, is bragging about -- about getting legislation passed that will improve the situation (concerning) college textbooks in 2010, it speaks volumes about what he's actually been able (to accomplish) during his quarter century in Washington," Barron said.

Durbin is one of the few politicians I actually vote for, as opposed to holding my nose and voting for the lesser of two "weevils". He voted against bankrupcy deform, for instance (as did my other Senator, Barack Obama).

Once when I was in school, I had one class where I had to buy a book my professor authored. Some people really have gall!

Toys

Journal: The Rollercycle

Journal by sm62704

Springfield, home of Ward 2 alderman Gail Simpson, is a wierd town. Its newspaper has some wierd stories, like Man robbed of cold 12-pack of beer.

But there is a very geekworthy item in today's paper: 'Green' invention just needs attention.

A Springfield artist and inventor named Frank Pierce has come up with a contraption that looks like a cross between two bicycles and a pair of roller skates.

If you have spent much time on the north end of Springfield lately, you might have seen Pierce on his Rollercycle. Using the same leg motion as a skater uses, Pierce tools around the streets on wheels at speeds up to 20-25 miles an hour. He does attract attention.

"I almost cause accidents because people are looking," he says. "People want to know about it, where to buy it ...

"During the motorcycle races (at the state fairgrounds), I put them on and went past that tavern, Knuckleheads. The motorcycle riders were all out there watching. They started clapping at me, so I cruised up there. It got a lot of attention from them."

<snip>

Here's how it works: Riders strap a wheel onto each leg. In the current design, people slip into one of their shoes already attached. The next model will let them take their shoes with them when they're done.

The tires are 20-inch, high-performance models. That, Pierce says, gives his invention an advantage over rollerblades. His tires can roll over grass and brick streets.

With the tires strapped onto your legs, you simply skate. When you want to stop, press down on your heel and that engages the brakes. The stability of Pierce's invention is so good that users can stand motionless and not topple over.

There's more at the link, as well as a photo of Pierce wearing his invention.

I want a pair!

In other news, Vulcan illogically caught fire and burned.

"Flattery is all right -- if you don't inhale." -- Adlai Stevenson

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