PIXAR’s life lessons

8 Dark Life Lessons Kids Learn From Pixar Films
http://www.cracked.com/blog/8-dark-life-lessons-kids-learn-from-pixar-films/

While there are a large number of articles at Cracked that are funny, every now and again you get one that is funny and thoughtful. Actually I take that back: they have lots that are funny and thoughtful; every now and then I find one that is funny and thoughtful and I want to blog about it…

I hadn’t thought about things the way the author has, I sort of sat back and just enjoyed the movies, but everything the author talks about is dead on. PIXAR is really giving kids a valuable education even if it never winds up on the SOL exams and doing it in a way where PIXAR makes tons of money, the kids have a great time and even adults can enjoy themselves. What an amazing combination!

Anyway, just had to ‘retweet’ this…

Living in a Vacuum

The Judgy Bubble
http://blog.dilbert.com/post/124157118906/the-judgy-bubble

Yet another interesting post by Scott. If you show to other people that you will be an asshole if they reveal certain information, what is the chance they will do so? Pretty slim, wouldn’t you think? That is the gist of his short post. Thus if you are a judgmental asshole you could actually be living in a different world from your family, friends and neighbors, because people would self-censor around you just to avoid hearing you mouth off. Quite an interesting concept, it helps to explain the ‘echo chamber‘. If you annoy the crap out of people who are the slightest bit critical of you, except for a few select assholes who love to piss those sorts of people off, you should expect that the vast majority of people will simply stop being honest with you. If no one around you will point out your idiocy why should anyone expect you would have even the tiniest thought that you were a moron incapable of seeing reality?

It is always nice to hear a theory that seems to fit all the facts. This one allows for some experimentation as well, such as what if you could isolate someone from his or her echo chamber, could you get them to acknowledge they’ve been in one?

Victimless punishment

Eric Holder, Wall Street Double Agent, Comes in From the Cold
Barack Obama’s former top cop cashes in after six years of letting banks run wild
http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/eric-holder-wall-street-double-agent-comes-in-from-the-cold-20150708

Funny, you don’t hear any libertarians or Tea Partiers carping about this, just dyed in the wool progressives like Matt. Why is that? Why is it that one of the harshest critics (excepting, of course, the frothing-at-the-mouth morons that will hate any democrat, particularly a _black_ one) is a progressive liberal? Him and Glenn Greenwald, another progressive. Here we are winding up Bush’s fourth term. Cheney should be proud, his policies have been in place now for almost 16 years. If Hillary gets elected, another 4-8 years!

I plan on voting for Bernie any chance I get. I view him as the only realistic way to turn the tide, or heck, get it to stop rising!

Making bail unattainable

Jailed for Being Broke
A broken bail system makes poor defendants collateral damage in modern policing strategies
http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/jailed-for-being-broke-20150623

More proof of the great country we all live in. Matt, once again, has an excellent article that should be required reading for all. I am sure, though, that there are plenty of people incapable of realizing what a crime against society this bail business is. As he points out, bail is supposed to _only_ be to ensure the defendant shows up at trial or if there is clear and compelling evidence that the defendant is a danger to society. I haven’t personally had any dealings with the arcana of the bail system, but I have had friends and coworkers who have. In one occasion a coworker’s son had a minor charge in Virgina that, because he is a young stupid punk, he had been ignoring and for which an arrest warrant was made. He was pulled over for some infraction in Maryland where they saw the Virginia warrant and he wound up in jail for a couple of weeks while being extradited. Then several more weeks before bail could be negotiated (in his case the bail was needed because he had already demonstrated he was a dickhead). I left before I could see the resolution, but I expect that he spent well over a month in jail for a minor crime he had yet to be convicted of, all because he was too lazy/stupid to follow the rules. In this case, at least, he brought it all on himself, but the story that Matt describes it seems clear that the problems were all because of our dysfunctional ‘justice’ system.

It has come to this: in America it is now a crime to be poor!

Ten Percent of Canadian Women Raped on Campus Every Year!

Women trained to resist sexual assault far less likely to be raped: study
http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/women-trained-to-resist-sexual-assault-far-less-likely-to-be-raped-study-1.2416122

My jaw fell open when I read this:

One year later, those who took the EAAA had experienced 46 per cent fewer completed rapes (5.2 per cent versus 9.8 per cent) and 63 per cent fewer attempted rapes (3.4 per cent versus 9.3 per cent) than the control group.

I am flabbergasted that this hasn’t got elevated into the news cycle! I had a class on statistics and what the above sentence is telling me is that nearly 10% of the ‘control’ group (and ‘only’ 5% of the ‘treatment’ group) were raped in the year period of the test. So that means, what, a 40% chance of being raped while getting a degree? I had no idea it was so dangerous for women on campus! If I had a daughter I doubt I would let her go to college now!

Seriously: if these figures are accurate and not typoes, we really, REALLY, REALLY have a problem at colleges. There is no way that Canadian campuses are somehow more dangerous than US campuses, if anything I would put money on the opposite, so it has to be at least as bad here, yet all we get is one fucked-up, poorly researched story in Rolling Stone? I believe most rational people would accept that blacks have real reasons to be angry, why the hell aren’t women angry at this? I know if I were a woman I would be mad as hell. Heck, being married to a woman, being a son of a woman and a brother to a woman has me angry and I never once gave rape an instance thought in the 10 or so years I spent on campus.

Being Muslim in America

Major Questions Remain Unanswered in Boston Killing of Alleged ISIS Beheading Plotter
https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/06/10/major-questions-remain-unanswered-killing-alleged-boston-isis-beheading-plotter/

I have been on the verge of commenting on this several times. It is interesting to me that the only place I am seeing this sort of commentary is on the The Intercept. When I first saw commentary on this whilst watching TV my radar pricked up a bit. The vast amount of ‘corroborating’ information that this guy was an ISIS terrorist was amazing, a flood of it, almost all from anonymous sources. In my recollection when something like this happens ‘for real’ the information trickles out over a long period, there is lots of contradictory statements and generally the authorities are upset when information is leaked. This situation was/is almost the exact opposite which makes me very suspicious. Reading the article which details the details (which you rarely get on a 30 second TV spot) and it is clear that there is a whitewash going on.

  • The supposed damning video is as far from damning as it is possible to get, there is not a shred of confirmation you can get from viewing it
  • If, as the police claim, they wanted to question the guy, why aren’t they wearing uniforms and identifying themselves as police? (based on what I have heard from witnesses, they never identified themselves, just started shooting)
  • The ‘evidence’ that the guy is a radical Islamic terrorist is a joke, to put it in its best possible light
  • The idea that he has been under surveillance supposedly radicalized to the point the FBI is convinced he is running around wanting to behead cops only further makes a mockery of their suggestion they only wanted to question him

Read the article for more, then there is this interesting one:

Florida Imam Who Claimed to Be Covert Government Operative Is Accused of Terrorism
https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/06/09/abu-taubah-case/

Our government actually wants to tack on 20 years to an already spurious charge based on the “Islamist” books he possessed. That’s right, boys and girls, our great government wants to imprison this guy because he has a book!

Do you really think this will stop with Muslims? Do you really think the conservative right-wing Tea Party nut jobs won’t use this exact same fucked up logic to ‘disappear’ people they don’t like? Our government already kills US citizens with charges, trial or conviction! This is going to get far worse if we don’t decided to give a damn, guaranteed!

Amazon causing literature to degrade?

More reasons to hate Amazon: Ursula Le Guin is right about their model of books as commodities “written fast, sold cheap, dumped fast”
The online bookseller does more than just shut down indie bookstores, says the venerable fantasy author
http://www.salon.com/2015/06/03/more_reasons_to_hate_amazon_ursula_le_guin_is_right_about_their_model_of_books_as_commodities_written_fast_sold_cheap_dumped_fast/

Disclaimer: I really like a lot of Le Guin’s work and respect her very much as a writer. Having done some research now on the publishing world as a writer I can see some of the things she is talking about. Since I am doing this with a profit motive (I like to write, but I don’t _need_ to write) I am trying to write something popular that sells well. Though what I write is focused on the story I want to tell, I do consider popularity elements as I make decisions on various plot points. I have gone back and rewritten sections because I feel they will market/sell better and, presuming my reviewers give me the thumb’s up and get it professionally edited, I suspect I will be making additional changes towards better marketability. Then, if I go with a traditional publisher, no doubt they will recommend more changes still. However, I am trying to tell a specific story and there is only so much I will bend before I no longer enjoy what I am doing (you have to do it for the joy in the beginning, that might be all you ever get!) and will drop the thing. I wonder if some of my favorite authors would ever get a chance in today’s publishing world. If Dune, one of the most popular Sci Fi books of all time, were Herbert’s debut novel, I doubt it would get considered today. It is too far from the mainstream and isn’t easily categorized. My attempt is firmly in the romantic thriller genera and, except for the focus being from the “bad guy’s” point of view (the title says it all: “Diary of a Contract Killer”) I believe is fairly conventional. Publishers want you to be different, yet the same, exactly like Hollywood. Everyone complains about how Hollywood never does anything new or different, Le Guin sees the exact same thing now in the publishing world and lays the blame at Amazon’s feet. I don’t see it as exclusively an Amazon issue, but they are certainly accelerating the trend (though they are also providing a platform for self publishing, which lowers the bar to the point that anyone who can finish a novel can get it published, though very few indeed will ever get paid for the time they invested). Though I am not convinced that changing Amazon’s behavior would change the trend (personally, I see this trend beginning decades ago and Amazon just riding the wave), I do think it needs to be said, heard and debated, so this is my small effort to broaden the article’s exposure.

Outlaw paper shredders!

Congressman Warns of Encrypted “Dark Spaces”; Another Says: “Ooooh It Sounds Really Scary”
https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/06/03/one-congressman-warns-encrypted-dark-spaces-another-says-ooooh-sounds-really-scary/

“The notion that encryption is somehow different than other forms of destroying and hiding things is simply not true,” Lieu told The Intercept. “Forty years ago, you could make the statement that paper shredders are one of the most damaging things to national security because they destroy documents that law enforcement might want to see.”

It is almost (almost) amusing to me how clueless these people who claim to represent us are (of course, they actually represent the elite 0.001%). I don’t recall the specifics, but fairly recently (couple of years ago) some idiot senator or representative endlessly championed our governments ‘need’ to read everyone’s mail, that is, until she found out that the govt was reading _her_ mail. Suddenly she was against it. What the hell did she think? Oh yeah, she didn’t…

And the idea that somehow the government can have a backdoor that only the government, under a court order (like that has been working so far!) can access. Even in the unbelievably unlikely situation where the backdoor created is unhackable (vanishingly small, so small it is unrealistic in a real world to consider possible, let alone probable), how long until corrupt members of our law enforcement start to use the access without going through proper channels (which, naturally, themselves are subject to abuse).

It is all the bacteria’s fault!

Bacteria may give you Type 2 diabetes
http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/magazines/panache/bacteria-may-give-you-type-2-diabetes/articleshow/47514655.cms

I talk about the microbiome off and on here, this is another that shows that the impact of our ‘friends’ we carry around with us can have significant life altering impacts. Now it seems a chronic infection might directly lead to type-2 diabetes. Not clear is cause/effect: does getting fat lead to the staph infection or does the staph infection make you fat? I hope the latter, then I can get a vaccination and shed some blubber without actually having to be inconvenienced 😉

Why inner city blacks are so damn angry

Two interesting articles by Matt Taibbi that explain in detail why inner city people, particularly blacks, but I am sure also Latinos and likely even whites who live in those neighborhoods, are so damn angry with the cops. The first:

A Bad Arrest, on Video
If this incident hadn’t been captured on tape, Jaleel Fields might be another black male convicted for no good reason
http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/videos/a-bad-arrest-on-video-jaleel-fields-20150526

Is specifically about a single incident that, had it not been for video, would no doubt have been forgotten. Luckily for the plaintiff in this case, his lawyer was able to get the video and the prosecution promptly dropped the charges. Interestingly, nothing happened to the cops, where the second story gets all the more interesting:

Why Baltimore Blew Up
It wasn’t just the killing of Freddie Gray. Inside the complex legal infrastructure that encourages — and covers up — police violence
http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/why-baltimore-blew-up-20150526

I strongly urge my reader(s) to take a look at the whole article, this excerpt is just one of many instances detailed (out of no doubt 10’s of thousands of events that happen _every year_):

Of course, where bureaucracy fails to cover things up, simple racism often steps in. Just ask Makia Smith, a 33-year-old accountant who grew up not far from where the Baltimore protests broke out. “I was on my way back from Wendy’s,” she says, recounting an incident in East Baltimore from March 2012. “My two-year-old daughter was in the back, in a car seat.”

Caught in traffic, Smith noticed a commotion, with a gang of police officers surrounding a young suspect. As she later alleged in a civil complaint, the boy was on the ground and one of the cops seemed to be getting dangerously aggressive. Concerned, Smith opened the door of her car and held up her phone as though filming the scene. “I was hoping that if they saw me,” she says, “then maybe they would stop doing what they were doing.”

Instead, she alleges, the following took place: An officer, later identified as Nathan Church, rushed at her, screaming, she says, “You want to film something, bitch? Film this!” Frightened, Smith tried to get back in her car. Church took her phone, smashed it on the ground and kicked it down the street. Then he dragged her out by her hair, at which point she momentarily blacked out. Eventually, she claims, police threw her on the hood of her Saturn, where she snapped awake and saw her two-year-old wailing in the back seat. She began to panic: If she got arrested, who would take care of the baby?

According to Smith’s complaint, police told her, in about the least reassuring manner possible, that child protective services was coming to take her daughter. It’s an example of how completely black America distrusts the police and the government that Smith chose to allow a little girl standing on the side of the road, a stranger, to take her baby for her, rather than give the child to CPS. As she was dragged off to that seemingly omnipresent paddy wagon, Smith called out her mother’s cellphone number, so that the little girl could get in touch with the baby’s grandmother.

Smith ended up in jail overnight and didn’t reunite with her daughter until 24 hours later. Playing the usual game of police-abuse chicken, authorities hit her with a list of charges, ranging from assault in the second degree against a police officer (“They say I took on four healthy male officers,” she says), to resisting, to a host of traffic offenses.

Smith, an educated young woman, did everything right after the incident, hiring a lawyer and successfully navigating the traps and land mines designed to make cases like hers go away. She never signed away her right to sue, never allowed the case to be expunged, never took a pennies-on-the-dollar deal that would have let the police off the hook.

And what happened? The police denied her allegations, claiming the arrest was legitimate, and she watched her case implode in what’s supposed to be the corruption-proof stage of the process, a trial by a jury of her “peers.”

“The cops’ defense team struck every black witness,” she says, and her case was heard by an all-white jury, which ultimately found the police innocent of misconduct.

Some of the stats are amazing:

So when O’Malley started his version of Broken Windows, he had a mandate, and it’s not surprising that Baltimore’s program was wildly aggressive. At its peak, in 2005, an incredible 108,000 of the city’s 600,000 residents were arrested.

So, that year you had nearly a 2 in 10 chance getting arrested in that area. No matter what color or socioeconomic status you are, that is enough to make you angry as hell. As detailed in the article, each arrest (many, if not the majority, are never prosecuted!) costs you several days, so a huge interruption in your life and potentially costing you your job. The wonder is these people have put up with this so long, but the rest of America is so quick to dismiss their anger and resentment you have to live there or have friends/relatives live there to even be aware of it. So sad that it took the death of people to even get the attention of the rest of the country, but I have to assume things will get worse before they get better.

Ain’t it great to be an American?!