Friday, June 30, 2006
Behind the badge, does the heart of a revenuer beat?
A long time ago, I studied the monetary and cultural cost of certain aspects of the Imperial-era British penal system. I learned alot about how graft, social forces, governmental pressure, and random circumstance can shape not only the process of the justice system, but its punishment as well. And it didn’t stop there. Oh, no. European legal thought and tradition are fundamental in many ways to our own, even as late as the development of our penitentiary system. And while I answered the questions I set out to adequately, I would have liked to take the work deeper. Perhaps, in the best tradition of scholars past, I ended my work feeling like I had posed still more questions, and opened doors on lines of inquiry I could pursue to make a lasting contribution to my wallet. Daah, my field. Lasting contribution to my field.
One topic that I wish I had thought of then but is on my mind lately is: what did cops do before there were drivers to ticket?
Because, over time, the police have become a guaranteed revenue stream into their city and state. An awful lot of them appear to be running radar; in certain regions of my domain, ensuring the safety of the larger commonweal one ticket at a time is the apparent raison detre of the State Police. Yes, they have other missions- they are the 911 for remote areas of the state; they have a kick-ass crime lab; they have really cool dogs- but really, they’re primary mission seems to be to write tickets. I don’t know the percentages of how many officers are out pulling people over, as opposed to the total number of officers on duty, but by casual observation it seems somewhere in the neighborhood of all of them.
So as a historically-minded cat, I have to ask myself how long that’s been going on. Does the growth of the police force mirror the growth of the population, or more closely the growth of car ownership (if indeed the two are even distinguishable)? What was the pre-automobile analogue of police-generated revenue? Was pre-industrial society safer, since more police ought to have been available to fight crime? When did we decide it was ok for agents of the state to generate income for the government?
And no, I didn’t recently get a ticket- I actually drive like an old lady. Well, an old lady who knows where she’s going and how to drive. But in my daily travels I see folks bagged by the state cops hand over fist, and just have to ask whether that’s really the best use of their time for the mission of maintaining peace and order for the citizenry, or the best use of their time for a rapacious state government?
Here’s one for Mapgirl
Mapgirl is on a quest to become more frugal, save lots of money, learn about finance and take over the world. To help her (and any other frugal wannabes amongst our readership) become more frugal, I offer this tutorial on dumpster diving.
[Wik] Added note for Mapgirl: knit sweaters are not appropriate for dumpster diving. Nor are open-toed sandals. Dive away!
Meanwhile, other scientists fear the asteroids. NASA is attempting to come up with some sort of scheme to defend us against rogue asteroids with unstable, likely Islamic orbits. The French, in a preemptive move, have already surrendered to asteroid 2004 XP14, which will make a close approach to the earth next monday. NASA insists that it is a global problem, and that other nations should really get off their asses and help out.
Seth Shostak, SETI researcher and man-about-town, has a nice bit explaining why a sphere is such a inadequate shape for a homeworld. It is not exactly a new idea that we really ought to move off the planet and into the great void, but recently Stephen Hawking’s comments have made the news. Hawking recommends new space colonies on the basis of the eggs in a basket rationale - that with life sequestered on just one world, we are vulnerable to a single point of failure - one asteroid, comet, disaster or alien invasion would put paid to the entire species. Fair enough, but Shostak argues that if we look at the tonnage to terrans ratio, the numbers are rather startling. For each of us, there is a trillion tons of earth. That’s a lot of mostly inaccessible mantle and red hot magma for each of us. Moving into a more frothy or fractal living space would bring the ration down significantly. The asteroids have about the mass of the earth, but nearly all of it is easily accessible mass (assuming, of course, you have the capability to get to the asteroid belt. That mass could be readily converted to a living space ten thousand times that of earth - just assuming that you built domes on the surface of the rocks. If you actually cut them all up and made habitats out of them, the habitable volume could be millions bigger. Getting the ttt ration down to the order of a thousand or a hundred tons per person would be vastly more efficient. And therefore, we’d be better prepared to fight the giant fighting robots when they inevitably make their bid for domination.
An update to the standard Nigerian 419 Scam?
This just in, copied verbatim, other than the cheesy background graphic:
BUSINESS WORTH US$22M I NEEDED A PARTNER
MR MOSES FRANCIS
- Francis Moses
I’d be tempted to introduce him to one of the, I’m sure, millions of crapweasels who try to effect such scams on a daily basis, if I knew of any of them. His entreaty was so poorly done that (ahem) it made it through my trashfilter, where all the “good ones” are instantly rejected without my ever knowing of them.
I have a small personal interest in getting him more in line with the state of the art, the “best practices”, if you will, in his “industry”. (The SIC code for his “industry” is, coincidentally the same as the one for “Assknobs” - look it up if you don’t believe me). Messages such as his have to be at least a little better done to even be recognizable as the crap they are. Hopefully, some trollbot will pick up his email address from this page (which I’ve helpfully enclosed in a “mailto:” tag for easy digestion by said scum-sucking bottom-dwellers) and nuke his tiny alleged Yahoo mailbox into oblivion.
[Wik] I’m not saying that “419” scams are actually so-named because they all originated in Toledo, Lima, Findlay, Fostoria, or Mansfield. But I’m not saying that they’re not, either.
[AlsÃ¸ wik] If that really were his email address, I’d be tempted to suggest he learn to spell his own last name. But since he’s clearly a bastard, he has no last name, at least not in the “polite 1950s society” sense of the word.
[AlsÃ¸ alsÃ¸ wik] What do I know of “polite 1950s society”? Not much, to be honest, but while reading up on my family’s genealogy four or five years ago, I learned for the first time that my grandfather was married 5 times, the first, third, and fifth, to my grandmother, after very short intervals of being married to other women. Feel free to draw your own conclusions.
Thursday, June 29, 2006
Now 100% John Denver free!
- Now 100% John Denver free!
- Squarer Than Wyoming
- Too wimpy to cross the mountains so we stopped here
- The vertical state
- Official home of the winter ski bunny
- If you’re looking to visit South Park, please leave
- We hate Texans too
- See what John Denver meant by Rocky Mountain “high”
- The higher you go the happier you get state
- If You Don’t Ski, Don’t Bother
And on a personal note, I would like to suggest the following two mottoes:
- The Broncos Suck
- Die Elway Die
Hey, people really do love us
Murdoc is on vacation and people have hardly noticed. His substitute bloggers are doing such a bang up job, Murdoc might not even be invited back. One example of the newfound puissance of the Murdoc Online, or rather three, is the series on America’s lesser known allies in the war on terror. Most conscious citizens are aware that Great Britain has been there with us in proportionally large numbers from the start. Those who are more conscious are aware that there are more nations with troops fighting along side, but are often hazy on the details, or only become aware of it when, say, a terrorist bombing causes a whole nation to chicken out. Like, say, Spain.
Nicholas, who very occasionally blogs on his own blog, the Smell of Freedom, has done a bang-up job in gathering the details on these other troops. In three installments, he has illuminated the contributions of Romania, Italy, and Japan; Poland, South Korea, and Georgia; and Australia, Denmark, and El Salvador. Nicholas is himself an Australian, you can almost hear him choking up when he discusses the Aussies.
I think this is important. While some have been pleased to ridicule the comparatively small contributions that some nations have made - I remember that one island nation sent two soldiers (out of a population of a few thousand, probably) - these countries are actively helping. Which is certainly more than we can say for allies in name France, Germany, Spain (hey, weren’t they all fascist within living memory?) or for China and Russia, our strategic partners. We have allies. Countries like Poland and Romania understand what we stand for - because they were oppressed for decades by what we stood against. Britain and Australia get it, but then, they are us, for reasonable values of “us.” I’m glad these nations are our allies. I can’t say I’m really sorry to see France on the outside.
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
We sure got a lot of Queers
Once more unto the breach, the Ministry attempts to inject a tiny dose of geo-social knowledge into its readership. This time, we assault the very big state of California.
- We sure got a lot of Queers
- As Seen On TV
- The Granola State
- The Biblical State; as in Fire, Floods, Quakes and Drought
- Next Disaster, Locusts!
- Nobody’s actually from here
- Silicon Valley in the North, Silicone Hills in the South!
- By 30, Our Women Have More Plastic Than Your Honda
- Fast reloading lanes available
- The Cereal State: nothing but fruits, nuts and flakes
- Wish they all could be California Girls!
- With Satan, too, all things are possible—and way more fun!
- More electoral votes than you can shake a stick at, plus the stick
- The Death Valley State
- Caution: Large Fake Breasts On Board!
- The really long state
- The Gold-Plated, Silicone-Implanted State
- We will invade Oregon. You just wait.
- Proud Home of Richard M. Nixon and the Colossus of Yorba Linda
- Fake Women, Pretentious Wine, Bad Song
World Leader Pretend
What great leader do you most resemble? Take the great leader test and find out. I was pleased but not surprised that I am sympatico with Abraham Lincoln:
Another reason clowns really creep me out
Clowns are creepy, as all thinking people agree. They wear bizarre makeup. They act strangely. They hang around retarded people and midgets. They bother sick people. Some are even fundamentalists. They represent all that is unholy - so much so that Stephen King used one in a horror story with virtually no exaggeration. I myself bought an “I Hate Clowns” tshirt to openly display my contempt and disdain for clowns. But now, on DefenseTech, we find that clowns are also anti-nuclear protestors. These clowns, in both common uses of the word, broke into and vandalized a nuclear facility.
The activists used bolt-cutters to get into the E-9 Minuteman III facility, located just northwest of the White Shield, North Dakota. “Using a sledgehammer and household hammers, they disabled the lock on the personnel entry hatch that provides access to the warhead and they hammered on the silo lid that covers the 300 kiloton nuclear warhead,” the group said in a statement. “The activists painted ‘It’s a sin to build a nuclear weapon’ on the face of the 110-ton hardened silo cover and the peace activists poured their blood on the missile lid.”
This was all done while wearing face paint, dunce caps, misfitting overalls, and bright yellow wigs.We dress as clowns to show that humor and laughter are key elements in the struggle to transform the structures of destruction and death. Saint Paul said that we are â€œfools for God’s sake,â€ and we say that we are â€œfools for God and humanity.â€ Clowns as court jesters were sometimes the only ones able to survive after speaking truth to authorities in power.
Guards responded within minutes. And when they arrived, the protesters “ate a lot of gravel,” I’m told.
The three nukewatch clowns were charged with Class A misdemeanors for criminal trespass and criminal mischief, though I have to agree with commenter Defiant Infidel that those charges seem a bit light, considering they were hammering on a nuclear missile silo hatch. With a fully loaded, nuclear armed Minuteman III missile inside.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
We’re like a piratical Kansas
Once more, the Ministry offers a dollop of education on top a fat steaming pile of poo. Today, more state mottoes for the poor, but misunderstood, state of Arkansas, the only state with its name on its flag, so the people won’t forget.
- We’re like a piratical Kansas
- Attention, K-Mart Shoppers!
- More Than Kansas
- It’s Trailer-rific!!!
- Litterasy Ain’t Everthing
- At least we’re not Mississippi
- We now have electricity
- The nation’s incest capital
- we put the K in ejukashun!
- Don’t hold Clinton against us
- Honest, we were just try’n to get that sheep back over the fence
- That’s Aar-Can-Saw, dumbass
- Only the last “s” is silent
- We aren’t all Hatfields and McCoys
- The natural state, if by natural you mean unimproved and devoid of economic value
Blood for Odin!
Iowahawk is running a beauty pageant, of sorts. For a year, now, he has been running a regular feature - famous throughout the blogosphere - The Hoosegow Honeys. Now it is time, he believes, to pick Miss Hoosegow 2006. This is not merely a popularity contest - contestants will also be judged in a talent competition, where one point will be awarded for each $100 of bail demanded by the magistrate.
As of this moment, the two Jessicas are in the lead, but that must not be allowed to stand. I encourage all Ministry readers to go and vote for Hoosegow honey #15, Lacey, whose sorrowful Madonna expression cries out for comfort. Winning the Miss Hoosegow pageant might bring a smile to that morose, regretful, yet still beautiful face. Please help her.
[Wik] While we’re on the subject of Iowahawk, show your support for the troops by mailing your surplus-to-need refrigerator magnets to Operation Mag-Neato. Sgt. Darren “Doc” Lee is attempting to completely cover his humvee with refrigerator magnets. Help him in his quest by mailing those fridge magnets to:
Dr. Darren Lee
310th PSYOP Co.
APO AE 09349
Cover the Dumb-Vee with your love.
[Wik] Lacey has moved up, and is now tied for sixth. Vote early and vote often!
The Benevolent Chinese Government at Work
This is well worth reading.
Scientists aim to disprove doctrine of Intelligent Falling
Thought this was cool - a new observatory in Germany hopes its new apparatus will detect gravitational waves. The GEO 600 gravitational wave detector in Hanover is now in continuous observation mode, and scientists hope that their gizmo will in the near future detect the teeny, tiny ripples in the spacetime continuum caused by the passing of a gravitational wave. These gravitational waves are created when supermassive objects like black holes or large stars do something freaky like explode. Current theory holds that all mass can create gravitational waves, like when I shake my hips, but the gravitational force is so weak compared to the other forces that only the largest objects doing the most violent things will create gravitational waves that might be detected here on Earth. For an idea of the relative strengths of the primary forces, consider that you are held more or less firmly to the earth by gravity. The mass of the Earth is considerable - 5.9742 Ã— 1024 kilograms. Yet despite all that mass pulling down, a moderately strong magnet on a crane will lift a multiton car easily. The chemical bonding forces of superglue will also easily support a midget from an I-beam, as we all remember from the commercials. If the force of gravity is taken to be 1, then the weak nuculer force is 1025, the electromagnetic force is 1036, and the strong nuculer force is 1038. (This assumes that the universe follows the modern physics model. This interpretation would be tragically mistaken if it turned out that the theories of Intelligent Falling were in fact a better description of underlying reality.)
GEO 600 is working alongside a US project known as Ligo (Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory). It may also be joined in the hunt by an Italian lab within a year. A simultaneous gravity wave detection at these facilities would be a major milestone - both a confirmation of existing theory and the beginning of a whole new field of astronomy.
Laser interferometers are looking for disturbances in their experimental set-ups that are equivalent to mere fractions of the diameter of a proton, one of the particles that make up the nucleus of an atom. Getting GEO 600 to approach this level of sensitivity has been an immense challenge.
“There’s more to come from GEO 600; I think we’re still about a factor of three away from the design sensitivity over part of the frequency range. But the sensitivity we have makes it very worthwhile stopping improvement to run for an extended period,” said Professor Jim Hough, from the Institute for Gravitational Research at Glasgow University, UK. Achieving the necessary sensitivity has been a huge challenge: “I think the most likely event for us to detect at the moment are coalescing black holes. I’m extremely confident,” he told BBC News. A detection would be a final test of Albert Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity.
Pretty cool stuff.