Greed Kills: And Kansas City wants people to die

The Shawnee city council in Kansas City, US, have enacted a new law, banning people from living together if they aren’t related (i.e. not married, not siblings or cousins, etc.).

At first, you might think, “Here we go again, religious fanatics attacking couples who aren’t married and people who are LGBTQIA,” but you’d be wrong.  This policy applies to everyone, even to cis heterosexual binary people cohabiting who will never have sex (e.g. straight women only, straight men only).

This is about preventing young adults from splitting the cost of rent and saving themselves money, about forcing them to pay exorbitant rents.  Bigotry may be part of this, but primarily it’s greedy property owners and corrupt politicians on the take.  They want to force single people to live alone and bear the cost of skyrocketing rents while wages stagnate.

There is no “crime”, so why are they legislating this?  It won’t increase their revenues.  Instead, it will drive young single, people out of the city or leave them homeless.  The clowns running that city clearly didn’t think this through when they took kickbacks from property owners.  They’ll probably raise rents to “compensate for lost revenue”.

But what else would expect from a state run by corrupt republiclowns that bought into “supply side economics” and drove the state into bankruptcy?

 

Co-living rentals banned in this Johnson County city after unanimous council vote

On Monday, a Johnson County city unanimously voted to ban a living arrangement aimed at helping tenants decrease the amount of rent they pay.

The Shawnee City Council voted 8-0 to ban co-living, becoming among the first Kansas City area municipalities to prevent the practice, which has gained popularity in recent years as rent and home prices have soared.

The new ordinance defines a co-living group as a group of at least four unrelated adults living together in a dwelling unit. The ordinance stated that if one adult is unrelated to another adult, then the entire group will be classified as unrelated.

The practice, which includes things like sharing a kitchen, living room and community areas, started to gain popularity as rental and housing prices continued to increase across the United States.

“Co-living has become increasingly popular because of its cost effectiveness and greater flexibility in cities where rents are high for young professionals,” The Washington Post wrote in 2019.

[. . .]

“Over and over again, what rose to the surface was the cost of housing was the thing that was impacting people’s ability to be healthy,” Baughman said [Kristy Baughman, director of education and planning for United Community Services of Johnson County].

 

Juliana Hatfield, “Landlord” (lyrics found here):

I Shouldn’t Laugh: The Parking Lot Is Full, 1993-2002

The web comic The Parking Lot Is Full debuted on October 29, 1993, and its last comic was published on May 5, 2002, twenty years ago.  For early users of the World Wide Web, PLIF was a rite of passage with it’s “It’s funny, but I shouldn’t be laughing” style of dark and disturbing humour.

PLIF’s creators Jack McLaren and writer Pat Spacek started like most web comic writers and artists, at a university newspaper.  Their grayscale single panel comics suited the WWW and quickly became a staple of many Gen-Xers and early internet adopters.  It was sad to see the comic come to an end, but it was a fun and wild ride while it lasted.  The original PLIF website has long gone, but a fan-run archives preserved most of the comics and can still be viewed.

From TV Tropes .com:

Webcomic / The Parking Lot Is Full

From 1993-2002, The Parking Lot is Full was the comic strip love child of artist Jack McLaren and writer Pat Spacek. Starting as crude little strips published in their university newspaper, the comic quickly took on a life of its own, eventually becoming one of the most popular and infamous comic strips on the internet. After nine years of ups and downs, the creators decided that they’d said everything they wanted to say, so the comic was wrapped up and all the toys put away.

This joke-a-day webcomic show a very dark sense of humor and is very macabre. It still remains one of the best old-school webcomics ever made and is definitely worth a try.

The original domain name has expired, but you can find the full archive on the memorial website. Some comics have been removed, for various reasons, from the archive. Most of these missing comics can be found on this blog.

From Comicmix:

Webcomics You Should Have Read: ‘The Parking Lot Is Full’

What made ‘PLIF’ (get used to this folks, cause “The Parking Lot Is Full” takes a while to type) so enjoyable was it’s fascinating combination of Gary Larsen-esque illustrations combined with sharp writing and a touch of the macabre. Unlike several previous recommendations here on ComicMix, ‘PLIF’ had no continuity really to follow. Yes, there are a few reoccurring sock puppets in the later half of the series, but there’s no backstory to follow (well, anymore…). And to be honest, the really juicy strips are true non-sequiturs.

I’ll be frank, folks, this strip features some of the most laugh-out-loud-but-frankly-I-shouldn’t-be-laughing strips I’ve had the pleasure to read for free on the ‘inter-webs’. There’s no need for lengthy exposition on the progression of the art; It’s crude, in gray tones, and unpolished as my car in February. There’s no need to wax poetic about the subject matter; Generally ‘PLIF’ stuck to a cycle of topics including childhood, sex, religion, and conspiracy theories (sometimes in the same strip!). Simply put, if the ‘Far-Side’ was rolled through a plate of broken glass, you’d have “PLIF”. Suffice to say the content can disturb as much as it can inspire fits of laughter… and that’s what I appreciate about it. 

I wholeheartedly (or blackheartedly) agree with that description.

Below the fold are a few select favourites.  If you don’t know PLIF, be prepared to be disturbed. ^o^

[Read more…]

Traffic Terrorism Strikes Again: This time, in Finland

Since the start of the pandemic, the rate of pedestrian injuries and deaths cauysed by cars has skyrocketed.  Because of lockdowns, selfish lemmings in shiny metal boxes saw roads with less traffic as an excuse to speed and race.  And that’s before addressing the massive increases in road rage incidents (which in the US are made more common by “laws” that make “open carry” even easier).

US’s Governors Highway Safety Association, 2020:

Pedestrian Deaths Soar in 2020 Despite Precipitous Drop in Driving During Pandemic

GHSA projects there were 6,721 pedestrian deaths in 2020 – a 4.8% increase from the 6,412 fatalities reported by SHSOs the year before. Factoring in a 13.2% decrease in vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in 2020, the pedestrian fatality rate was 2.3 per billion VMT, a shocking and unprecedented 21% increase from 1.9 in 2019. This projection is the largest ever annual increase in the pedestrian death rate since the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) was established in 1975.

US’s Governors Highway Safety Association, 2021:

Pedestrian Traffic Fatalities by State: 2021 Preliminary Data

A new analysis from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) projects that U.S. drivers struck and killed 3,441 pedestrians in the first six months of 2021, up 17% – or 507 additional lives lost – from the same period the year before.

And it’s not limited to the US.

When I first saw this clip, I thought it was a public service announcement made with CGI.  I didn’t believe that a car would drive that fast or that close to people, especially not on cobblestones.

Sadly, I was completely wrong.  There were only injuries, no fatalities, but that’s more due to chance than anything else.

Typical of cagers and roadragers, some in the comments on different sites are blaming the pedestrian crossing the road (“he should have looked!”) and not the drunken religious fanatic behind the wheel (confirmed in the news that he was drunk, and translations say he’s babbling about “god” and “satan”).

From the Helsinki Times:

Three injured as man drives car into crowd in Helsinki

A 33-YEAR-OLD MAN is suspected of causing a serious traffic hazard, driving while seriously intoxicated, negligent bodily injury, resistance to a public official and contumacy to the police over an incident that left three people injured and several cars damaged in downtown Helsinki on Saturday.

The events began at around 7pm as the man failed to comply with a police stop signal on Pohjoisranta, according to Helsinki Police Department.

The motorist instead continued south toward Pohjoisesplanadi, which was crowded with people celebrating Vappu. Police opted not to chase him. He caused damage to several cars before driving into another car close to the west end of the road, inflicting injuries to three people including himself.

All the injured were taken to hospital for treatment, but the injured victims have since been discharged from hospital.

[. . .]

Helsingin Sanomat on Sunday wrote that eyewitnesses said the man was driving a Mercedes Benz, which ultimately came to a stop in front of Café Esplanad. Information obtained by the newspaper indicates that the car is owned by a man who works in the central government and ran unsuccessfully in the county elections organised in January.


A pedestrian fatality here this week exemplifies the ludricrous attitude many have about “cars’ rights”, blaming the pedestrian for crossing the road.  Not for “crossing illegally”, but for crossing the road on foot.  They’re blaming the victim, because he was walking, and excusing those who were speeding and hit him.

I know that intersection well.  The bridge roadway angles down about 150 metres before reaching Xining Road.  The crosswalk is not visible, but the traffic lights are.  Those on the bridge saw green lights, so they kept speeding.  A truck ran over the already injured man.

Taipei man dies after being struck by 4 cars in a row

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A Taipei man died early Sunday morning (May 2) after he was struck by four cars while trying to cross a street in Wanhua District.

At 3 a.m. on Sunday, a 41-year-old man surnamed Chuang (莊) attempted to cross Zhongxiao West Road at the intersection with Xining Road via a crosswalk, but the light turned red before he had made it halfway across. Chuang tried to run to the other side but was suddenly struck by a taxi driven by a 57-year-old man surnamed Ting (丁) who was heading east after having just traversed Zhongxiao Bridge.

Many drivers here will race through yellow lights or even red lights, trying to be the last to make it even after the other direction has a green light. But if you’re a pedestrian and you dare to try and cross the street with less than ten seconds left, some drivers will start lurching forward in a threatening way or honk, expecting you to hurry.  And if pedestrians are still on the crosswalk when it turns green for the other direction, drivers see it as a right to hit you.

It Follows

Keep this in mind:

Those who want to criminalize abortion also want to legalize the rape and violent assault of women.

They will inevitably try to take away voting rights, marriage equality, LGBTQIA protections, etc.  EVERYONE should be fighting this and supporting causes thatt don’t affect you.  As the US’s own “founding fathers” said, “hang together or hand separately”.

The white supremacist court’s threat to women (“hosts” as rightwing scum call them, instead of people) may not directly deny the right to abortion.  But by using the lie of “states rights”, fascist politicians can criminalize it within one state, then potentially “extend” it to apply in other states where abortion is legal.

Women who travel for abortions will be at risk.  Doctors who provide health care in one state could be arrested should they travel to a rightwing state that hates women.

The US could become a patchwork of bad laws, attempts to “extradict” doctors from one state to another.  And another republiclown “president” would allow it to be enforced, allow doctors to be sent to prison and killed by states under false charges.

XX people should not have to deny themselves the enjoyment of sex.  But there may come a point where refusing all penetrative sex may become a necessity solely out of self-preservation.   Then watch the red states get blue balls and try to legalize or rationalize partner and marital rape. Or all rape, as some in the repugnant party would like it to be (e.g. certain judges).

#poemsfortheresistance

2025 is the year that white, rightwing boomers reach the average age of life expectancy.  They will begin to die by natural causes in the millions (*), and whites will gradually become a minority population.  It’s why the extremists are desperate to create a fascist apartheid state before that happens.

It cannot come soon enough.

(* US population: approx. 330 million, of which boomers are 21%.  Boomers range from 1946 to 1964, and average US life expectancy is 79 years.)

The Most Cowardly Act: “Corporal punishment” is a major crime

“Corporal punishment” is not and has never been about punishment.  Its purpose is terrorism and intimidation, to subdue and subjugate people by demonstrating that those in power can perpetrate violence without accountability or redress.  The only reason someone or some entity (e.g. government, military, etc.) uses “corporal punishment” instead of “capital punishment” is that the victims live in fear and the abusers want them to obey. The dead no longer do either.

“Corporal punishment” isn’t just about hitting a child on the buttocks.  It’s torture and beatings in prison, it’s rape in all of its forms, it’s all forms of coercion through violence.  Take away the power of those being abused, and make sure they know there is no authority to appeal to and make the violence stop.  It’s as much mental torture as it is physical.

Here are a few sites with resources.  More below the fold.

From Stop Abuse Campaign:

April 30th is NO SPANK DAY! Before you stop reading this latest bit on not spanking, please consider that I agree with you that spanking works, just maybe not in the ways most parents intended.

Spanking teaches valuable lessons. Yes, true, it does! It teaches that violence and love are inextricably connected. It teaches that the bigger, stronger person gets his way. It teaches that the people who love you are allowed to hit you. It teaches that sometimes, the people you trust will hurt you.

Spanking works.  In the short term, true fact. Most of us will stop doing what we are doing if someone hits us. So, yes, in that regard, spanking works. But what about the long term? To better understand the effects of spanking we should consider the long term and short term effects of giving into a tantrum. When we yield to the screaming, flailing, tantrum throwing child in the grocery checkout line and give her the candy, it works. The screaming stops. The crying stops and the tantrum is over.  Until the next time. We all know, the more we give into tantrums, the more they reoccur. In the same way, when we spank our children, it does work, for the moment, but what doesn’t work about spanking is long term success. Spanking puts an end to the undesirable behavior, but only in the here and now. Children who stop the undesirable behavior when spanked outgrow this method of “discipline” in time and haven’t really learned how to control behavior as much as they have learned to avoid punishment.

From HealthDay, July 2021.  There is a second similarly titled item, “Spanking: The Case Against It (Ages 6 to 12)“:

Spanking: The Case Against It (Ages 1-3)

Should I spank my child?

The short answer is no. Some people feel hesitant to abandon a discipline they experienced when they were children. But the thinking on spanking has changed over the years, and now doctors and child advocacy groups advise against spanking, slapping, or any other kind of physical punishment.

When your child misbehaves or acts in defiant, inappropriate, or even dangerous ways, you want to show him his behavior is unacceptable and must change. Spanking may seem like a direct and effective way to do that, but it delivers other messages you don’t want to send:

  • Fear.
  • Distrust.
  • Might makes right.
  • Poor self-esteem.
  • Danger.

[. . .]

But what’s the harm in a little smack?

Plenty. In a study released in July 2002, a psychologist who analyzed six decades of research on corporal punishment found that it puts children at risk for long-term harm that far outweighs the short-term benefit of on-the-spot obedience.

Psychologist Elizabeth Gershoff of Columbia University’s National Center for Children in Poverty found links between spanking and aggression, anti-social behavior, and mental health problems. Gershoff spent five years analyzing 88 studies of corporal punishment conducted since 1938.

According to End Corporal Punishment .org, only 63 countries (as of 2022) have made all of this violence against children illegal, just as it is illegal to do to adults.  (Noticeable are the countries which are NOT on the list.  Of all the allegedly “progressive and democratic” English speaking countries, only New Zealand and Ireland have banned it.)  In over 130 countries, however, abusive “parents” can still beat children even though in many it’s illegal for schools or anyone outside the “family” to hit them.  Physical violence as “criminal punishment” is still legal in sixteen countries.

[Read more…]

Not Fit To Lead: Plumbing the deaths of depravity

Yes, I said deaths, not depths.  The recent Veritasium video below is saddening and frustrating.

Thomas Midgley Jr. (*) is arguably the single greatest mass murderer in human history, responsible for over 100 million people’s deaths and environmental disasters by two of his inventions: the addition of lead to gasoline (deaths by lead poisoning and reduced human intelligence by poisoning the environment, not counting the millions killed by speeding cars) and the creation of freon which caused the ozone hole in our atmosphere.

(* Amended: Midgley, not Charles Kettering who hired him.  No one corrected me on my error, which tells me either no one’s a stickler for details or no one read this post. ^_^)

Lead has been known for about 7000 years of human civilization since we learnt to work metal.  Its low melting point (328°C, about the same temperature as burning wood) made it easy to extract from rocks.  But its use has poisoned the world, its rise in use demonstrated by ice cores in the Antarctic.  Lead has been used as a roofing material and paint (re: the toxic fumes from the Notre Dame fire in Paris), in solder (welding, computers, etc.) and in water pipes.  What politicians have done to the poor in Flint, Michigan should be called a crime agaist humanity.

How different would the world be (ourselves, the environment) if lead’s melting point were a thousand degrees higher, closer to nickel, iron, cobalt, and copper?  Unlike radioactivity which can be contained and slowly deteriorates, lead (and arsenic, mercury, selenium, etc.) is a poison that stays permanently in the environment and human bodies.  And we put it there in the name of profit.

Addendum:

At 18:10, he mentions the rise and decline of both lead levels in children and violent crime in society with a twenty year lag.  But he doesn’t ask or mention why it declined.

In 1981, the US and other countries started phasing out and banning the use of lead as an additive in gasoline.  By the mid 1990s, the majority of countries had stopped using it in cars.  It was only in 2021 that Algeria, the last country still using leaded gas, finally banned it.

 

The Most Cowardly Act: April 30th is International Spank Out Day

The Canadian Children’s Rights Council describes International Spank Out Day thus:

International SpankOut Day was initiated in 1998 by EPOCH-USA to bring widespread attention to the need to end physical punishment of children and to provide educational information to parents and caregivers about non-violent alternatives. Over 500 informational events and programmes have been held in the US and in other countries where it is sometimes called “no hitting day”, “no smacking day” or “day of non-violence for children”.

The Canadian Children’s Rights Council would like to have 365 “SpankOut Days” each year

Hitting a child on the buttocks is an act of violence against a child.  It is both physical assault and sexual assault.  It is not “discipline”, it is not “punishment”, it is not “parenting”.  To anyone who attempts to defend hitting children, answer me this:

If you disobeyed your employer or your spouse, or you broke something, and you were on the buttocks or another body part, would you call that “discipline” or assault? 

If you call it a criminal act for an adult to do to another adult, why is it not assault when the person hit is a child?

Adults can call for help.  Adults can defend themselves and leave a relationship or situation.  Adults have resources and their own voices.

Children have none of these abilities.  They lack knowledge of their rights, who to call for help.  They are dependent on the “parents” who hit them.  And society often ignores children, especially when those children come from “good families” with Jeckyll and Hyde “parents”.

There are a plethora of studies (a few linked below this paragraph) demonstrating the long term effects of violence on children, even those too young to remember details of where or when.  If affects their brain and can have the same long term effects as CPTSD from war or other trauma.  And “spanking” is a form of sexual abuse, because of the nerve endings of the buttocks and genitals are connected.

APA, April 2012: The case against spanking

Physical discipline is slowly declining as some studies reveal lasting harms for children.

A growing body of research has shown that spanking and other forms of physical discipline can pose serious risks to children, but many parents aren’t hearing the message.

“It’s a very controversial area even though the research is extremely telling and very clear and consistent about the negative effects on children,” says Sandra Graham-Bermann, PhD, a psychology professor and principal investigator for the Child Violence and Trauma Laboratory at the University of Michigan. “People get frustrated and hit their kids. Maybe they don’t see there are other options.”

Many studies have shown that physical punishment — including spanking, hitting and other means of causing pain — can lead to increased aggression, antisocial behavior, physical injury and mental health problems for children. Americans’ acceptance of physical punishment has declined since the 1960s, yet surveys show that two-thirds of Americans still approve of parents spanking their kids.

But spanking doesn’t work, says Alan Kazdin, PhD, a Yale University psychology professor and director of the Yale Parenting Center and Child Conduct Clinic. “You cannot punish out these behaviors that you do not want,” says Kazdin, who served as APA president in 2008. “There is no need for corporal punishment based on the research. We are not giving up an effective technique. We are saying this is a horrible thing that does not work.”

Science Direct, August 2009: Reduced prefrontal cortical gray matter volume in young adults exposed to harsh corporal punishment

WebMD, April 19, 2021: Effect of Spanking on Kids’ Brains Similar to Abuse

Rare is the parent who’s never so much as thought about spanking an unruly child. But a new study provides another reason to avoid corporal punishment: Spanking may cause changes in the same areas of a child’s brain affected by more severe physical and sexual abuse.

Previous research has consistently found links between spanking and behavioral problems, aggression, depression, and anxiety, says Jorge Cuartas, a doctoral candidate at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and first author of the study. “We wanted to look at one potential mechanism, brain development, that might explain how corporal punishment can impact children’s behavior and cognitive development.”

US National Insititutes of Health, April 2021: Corporal Punishment and Elevated Neural Response to Threat in Children

Spanking remains common around the world, despite evidence linking corporal punishment to detrimental child outcomes. This study tested whether children who were spanked exhibited altered neural function in response to stimuli that suggest the presence of an environmental threat compared to children who were not spanked. Children who were spanked exhibited greater activation in multiple regions of the medial and lateral prefrontal cortex (PFC), including dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, dorsomedial PFC, bilateral frontal pole, and left middle frontal gyrus in response to fearful relative to neutral faces compared to children who were not spanked. These findings suggest that spanking may alter neural responses to environmental threats in a manner similar to more severe forms of maltreatment.

Harvard University, April 2021: The Effect of Spanking on the Brain

Spanking found to impact children’s brain response, leading to lasting consequences

Research has long underscored the negative effects of spanking on children’s social-emotional development, self-regulation, and cognitive development, but new research, published this month, shows that spanking alters children’s brain response in ways similar to severe maltreatment and increases perception of threats.

“The findings are one of the last pieces of evidence to make sense of the research of the last 50 years on spanking,” says researcher Jorge Cuartas, a Ph.D. candidate at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, who coauthored the study with Katie McLaughlin, professor at the Department of Psychology at Harvard University. “We know that spanking is not effective and can be harmful for children’s development and increases the chance of mental health issues. With these new findings, we also know it can have potential impact on brain development, changing biology, and leading to lasting consequences.”

ABC News, February 2008: Study: Spanking May Lead to Sexual Problems Later

Researchers say the discipline tactic can lead to risky sexual behaviors.

Children whose parents spank them or otherwise inflict physical punishment may be more likely to have sexual problems later, according to research to be presented Thursday to the American Psychological Association.

The analysis of four studies by Murray Straus, co-director of the Family Research Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire-Durham, suggests that children whose parents spanked, slapped, hit or threw objects at them may have a greater chance of physically or verbally coercing a sexual partner, engaging in risky sexual behavior or engaging in masochistic sex, including sexual arousal by spanking.

“A greater chance of physically or verbally coercing a sexual partner”.  That may not show a direct link between hitting children and becoming a rapist, but it shows one cannot dismiss the possibility.

DANA.org, January 2018: Pediatricians’ Group Says Spanking is Ineffective, Potentially Harmful

It’s official: spanking is out. Time-outs are in. That’s the lead message of a new policy statement from the largest pediatricians’ group, in its strongest warning yet against the use of spanking or other harsh punishments–ever–by parents and others charged with caring for children. It’s the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) first update to its policy guideline on discipline since 1998, when it discouraged but did not specifically proscribe spanking. This time, the message is clear: spanking doesn’t work and may cause harm. Ditto for harsh verbal reprimand that shames or humiliates.

[…]

He pointed to evidence that corporal punishment initiates a cycle of aggression that often followed children into adulthood and raised their risk of mental illnesses, including depression and anxiety. A 2009 brain-imaging study found that young adults who were spanked as children had reduced gray matter volume in the prefrontal cortex and anterior cingulate, suggesting they may be on a trajectory of altered brain development. Those who had been spanked also performed worse on IQ studies.

University of Texas, April 2016: Risks of Harm from Spanking Confirmed by Analysis of Five Decades of Research

The more children are spanked, the more likely they are to defy their parents and experience increased anti-social behavior and other difficulties, according to a new meta-analysis of 50 years of research.

AUSTIN, Texas ­ — The more children are spanked, the more likely they are to defy their parents and to experience increased anti-social behavior, aggression, mental health problems and cognitive difficulties, according to a new meta-analysis of 50 years of research on spanking by experts at The University of Texas at Austin and the University of Michigan.

The study, published in this month’s Journal of Family Psychology, looks at five decades of research involving over 160,000 children. The researchers say it is the most complete analysis to date of the outcomes associated with spanking, and more specific to the effects of spanking alone than previous papers, which included other types of physical punishment in their analyses.

“Our analysis focuses on what most Americans would recognize as spanking and not on potentially abusive behaviors,” says Elizabeth Gershoff, an associate professor of human development and family sciences at The University of Texas at Austin. “We found that spanking was associated with unintended detrimental outcomes and was not associated with more immediate or long-term compliance, which are parents’ intended outcomes when they discipline their children.”

This is the first of two items.

The second tomorrow covers the uglier aspects of this form of child abuse.

Putin Would Be Proud: Journalist Intimidation 101

It’s only a cover up if people know it was a cover up, right?

Alene Tchekmedyian reported for the Los Angeles Times about abuses perpetrated by the Los Angeles County sheriff’s office. Video showed that a cop was kneeling on the neck of a handcuffed man, and several other cops stood and watched. LA county sheriff Alex Villanueva and others saw the video, then helped cover up the crime.

What was Villanueva’s response to Tchekmedyian’s factual reporting? To open a campaign of intimidation and threats. . .I mean, an “investigation” targeting her. But not just Tchekmedyian, any journalist in the future who dares tell the truth about his office’s actions would be a target.  He sees journalism as the “enemy”.

This is the same LA County sheriff’s office which has eighteen gangs within its members, as another journalist reported in August 2021.  Would it surprise you to hear the corrupt cop is also an anti-vaxxer?

The LA sheriff is investigating a reporter who broke a story on a department cover-up

The Los Angeles County sheriff on Tuesday announced he was launching an investigation into a reporter behind an article detailing a cover-up of inmate abuse within the department.

During a news conference, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said he was investigating leaked materials, including a video published by the Los Angeles Times in an article by reporter Alene Tchekmedyian.

Tchekmedyian reported that sheriff’s department officials attempted to cover up an incident in which a deputy kneeled on a handcuffed inmate’s head for three minutes in March 2021.

[. . .]

On Monday, a sheriff’s commander reportedly filed a legal claim stating that Villanueva and other sheriff’s officials tried to cover up the 2021 incident, fearing bad publicity.

Villanueva had earlier claimed that he was unaware of the incident for eight months, but Tchekmedyian had reported that the head of the department not only viewed a video of the altercation five days after it occurred, but Villanueva allegedly led the effort to conceal any information about it from the public.

Tchekmedyian’s reporting featured security video footage of the incident, which showed several sheriffs standing around and watching as the restrained man was pinned to the floor.

Some Advice That’s Never Heard Nor Told

Rather than simply post a comment on PZ Myers’s post, “For all the 18 year olds anticipating next year”, allow me to hijack it with my own opinion.

When I was eighteen, I wasn’t ready to attend college. I was pushed into it for a year.  Never mind that I was still an unconfident and shy teen still living with abusive parents, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. It’s only fortunate that the sperm donor was paying for the courses, that I didn’t have student loans.

But I did pay for it later in other ways.

First, I resented being pushed into it.  This was the 1980s when you could still get a decent job without a college education, and thought I could do that too. I ended up wasting several years working low paying, dead end jobs before I was motivated and went back to college for my own reasons.  As said above about a lousy home life, I wasn’t a “know it all” teen, I was trying to demonstrate independence from them.

Second, I paid for the low grades of that first year. I had no choice financially except to attend the same college when I finally did go.

The college wouldn’t erase or delete those prior courses (none of which related to what I studied).  I couldn’t afford the time or money to retake them and get better grades.  With the unwanted albtatross around my neck, my GPA was barely 2.5. Without them, it would have been about 3.0, not bad considering I was living a 24 hour clock and on polyphasic sleep for years (simultaneously working and studying).  Imagine that effect if a scholarship is based on GPA, and you’re denied it because of a mistake you were pushed into making.


If I could have the ears of any eighteen year olds finishing grade twelve now and are uncertain about life, the one piece of advice I would give them is:

Don’t go to college.

Not yet, anyway.  At eighteen, few genuinely know what they want to do the rest of their lives.  Sacrificing one year now and learning basic adult life skills isn’t a waste of time, it’s better than wasting five years later.  More below.

[Read more…]

The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves

There’s a story below the fold (apocryphal or true, I don’t know) that lives up to the old joke in the title.  An unnamed employer in Chicago took an attitude towards employees that left much to be desired.  The story has been making the rounds in Childfree circles, and a source of great mirth.

But there is an ounce of truth to it, whether the story is true or not: employers are more accomodating about scheduling and workload to people with children.  Just because people do not have children does not mean they have “free time and nothing to do”, or that they “don’t have families”.  (NB: Saying this does not diminish, excuse, nor pretend that discrimination by employers doesn’t exist, e.g. the glass ceiling and lack of advancement women are subjected to.)

It’s an arrogant assumption that people without kids have “unlimited free time”.  Childfree and childless people have just as much right to free time as those with kids.  The pandemic has exacerbated this with the attitude that Childfree and childless people “can’t pass it on if they get sick and should work from the office”, as if they have no contacts outside of work.

From CNBC:

Office smackdown: Parents vs. childless workers

In the career complaints category, few things can get people more worked up than the debate over who works harder, has it better or is given more preferential treatment: Workers with kids, or those without.

Parents will tell you that juggling work trips and presentations to the CEO with field trips and an unexpected vomiting episode is hard work, but they can make it work with a little co-worker understanding and a few nontraditional work hours.

But increasingly, some childless workers are countering with a similar lament: They say they deserve a life, too.

Workers without children often have been coveted by employers precisely because the assumption is that they have nothing better to do than to put in long hours, said Trina Jones, a professor at Duke University of Law whose research looks at whether efforts to produce family-friendly workplaces have had an adverse effect on single people without children.

In addition, some childless colleagues worry that they’ll face backlash if they ask for flexibility to pursue something outside of work, such as a part-time schedule to train for a marathon or flexible days off so they can volunteer at a pet shelter.

“What happens is the justifications are not viewed the same, and therefore the single person’s commitment to the workplace is questioned,” she said.

Another problem is that those with children are sometimes excused from work duties, and those without kids expected to take on a heavier share of the workload without extra pay.  From Harvard Business Review:

How Managers Can Be Fair About Flexibility for Parents and Non-Parents Alike

Bias against parents — and especially mothers — has been well documented. We call it the “Maternal Wall,” and we’ve been studying it for years, researching how women who have always been successful at work sometimes find their competence questioned when they take maternity leave or ask for a flexible work schedule. We know now that this bias can affect fathers, too, when they seek even modest accommodations for caregiving. For example, a consultant in one study reported that he was harassed for taking two weeks of paternity leave — but applauded for taking a three-week vacation to an exotic locale. Parents, studies consistently show, face extra scrutiny.

But while the data is clear that parents are more likely to face bias at work, sometimes we also hear about a different problem: that people without children find that their managers are more understanding of working parents’ need for flexibility, while expecting childless or unmarried staff to pick up the slack because they “have no life.” Indeed, research has found that women without children work the longest hours of any group.

[. . .]

If you have a work-from-home policy, it should be reason-neutral. It’s generally not a good idea to have to judge different peoples’ “reasons” for working from home. This leads to uncomfortable territory: does sick baby trump dying grandparent? Instead, when people work from home, just have them say “I’m working from home.” Don’t make people explain why.

If employees are given unequal workloads, scheduling flexibility, time off, and pay is not reflected by the work done, then resentment and friction is inevitable.  Childfree people are NOT “anti-child” or “anti-parent”.  What we are is people with the same expectations as those with kids.

From BBC:

Do companies lean harder on non-parents?

Leo Ramirez’s passion job is editing Grubby Cat, a cat-care website. But his main job is very different: coordinating inspections for a crane company in Florida, US. It’s there that he sometimes feels frustrated as a 47-year-old employee without children.

“It’s a very family-oriented workplace,” he explains, with frequent social events like employee picnics and parties. These are supposed to be fun occasions, but they can be dispiriting for him. “My co-workers will make me feel guilted – unintentionally I am sure – into staying [at work] those days later than everyone else… while everyone else has that ‘excuse’ to be unable to make it in because they have families and kids to prepare with.”

Ramirez reports that his colleagues say things like, “come on Leo, you know if you had kids or anything we would let you take the extra time you needed”. Yet when Ramirez and his lifelong best friend married earlier this year, his managers wouldn’t let him leave two hours early for last-minute wedding prep on the Friday before the wedding.

Ramirez is sympathetic to parents’ needs: “Me having to get my teeth worked on is never going to be as important as someone’s kid being hurt, I completely understand that.” He’s even happy to work on holidays so that his colleagues with kids can have uninterrupted family time at Christmas and Thanksgiving, for instance. But it can rankle that “I have been asked to pick up the ‘supervisor on call’ responsibility for others on multiple weekends when it should have been their turn to do so”.

“On call for our need until you breed” is not conducive to creating good morale.

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The World’s Birth Rates Decline: This IS the painless way

Environmental collapse due to overconsumption of natural resources is inevitable, even without climate change, depletion of arable land, bleaching of coral reefs, acidification of the oceans, etc.  But if there’s one bright spot in all this doom and gloom, it’s the worldwide change in attitude towards having children.  People, and more specifically women, are having fewer children by choice, and the reasons are positive.  The world’s current estimated population is close to eight billion (7.94), but based on several factors, we may peak at 8.5 billion and begin to decline.

First, there’s the World Population Historical Table from Worldometers.  The total raw number of people has continued to increase, but the rate of increase is lessening.  For example, the average number of new people born per year was 91 million in 1990 (from 5.3 billion), but was only 81 million in 2020 (from 7.8 billion). The annual increase peaked at 2.07% in 1970 but since it was 1.82% in 1990, the annual rate of increase continutes to drop, now at 1.05% in 2020.

How did we produce fewer new children despite 2.5 billion more people to have them?  Mass deaths?  No.  From a reduced number of pregnancies.  People are choosing to have fewer children.  In the cases of China, India, South Korea, and possibly others with sex selective abortions, there are a disproportionate number of men and a shortage of women.  And some of these women are choosing their career over marriage and children (i.e. China’s “left over women”, age 30+ who never married).

Historically, families had many children because they expected some to die.  Like turtles, more offspring meant more competition for resources but a greater chance of one or more surviving.  Thanks to other factors, people are behaving more like elephants, having fewer children yet able to invest more in their care and survival.  The same number of kids are surviving to adulthood, but with fewer deaths and trauma for the parents.  Their chances increased because of improved medical care, vaccination, increased family income, employment opportunities, education for women and children, among others.

The video below goes into detail about each factor, and where the changes in birth rates are happen.  Unsurprisingly, the greatest declines are in Europe, North America, and Oceania.  However, everywhere else the same declines are occuring at the same rate.  Birth rates in Africa now are still the highest, but the rate in most African countries now are lower than the rates in European countries century ago.  Where I disagree with him are contributing factors he leaves out (e.g. democracy, industrialization, migration, common languages), but the numbers he presents matches his source, Our World In Data.

In East Asian countries (esp. Japan, South Korea, China) industrialization was common while political systems varied widely, yet the birth rates are the same. Attitudes towards abortion were not, with sex selective abortion being common practice in South Korea and China thirty-odd years ago, but not in Japan.

Also noticeable in Africa is the strip of countries along the east coast where the rates declined the most.  Several have a common language (Swahili) which makes it easier for ideas to spread across political borders because there’s only one barrier, not two.  Being bookended by the most democratic nations in Africa (Kenya and South Africa) probably helps.  Also of note, other than Kenya, all those countries have low or unmeasurable rates of Female Genital Mutilation, another sign of education in a society.

Something else shown by the World Population Historical Table from Worldometers. (also linked above) is the increasing median human age worldwide.  For centuries, the average was in the low 20s.  But since 1990, the median has increased and is now over 30, likely the first time ever.  And the median age will continue to rise.

The world population is ageing (Researchgate), and those of reproduction age (20-35) are having fewer children.  (This Researchgate chart is from 2017, so take into account the bar for each age is now one older.)  Those children in the chart age 0-15 were born to the bulges aged 30-39.  The smallest bands in the graph (age 15-24, now age 20-29) are the Zoomers, and they aren’t having kids.  There are declining birth rates in dozens of countries worldwide.  I would really like to see a new version of this table in 2022.  How small is the 0-4 age group now?

 

From the BBC (2020):

Fertility rate: ‘Jaw-dropping’ global crash in children being born

The world is ill-prepared for the global crash in children being born which is set to have a “jaw-dropping” impact on societies, say researchers.

Falling fertility rates mean nearly every country could have shrinking populations by the end of the century.

And 23 nations – including Spain and Japan – are expected to see their populations halve by 2100.

Countries will also age dramatically, with as many people turning 80 as there are being born.

[. . .]

As a result, the researchers expect the number of people on the planet to peak at 9.7 billion around 2064, before falling down to 8.8 billion by the end of the century.

“That’s a pretty big thing; most of the world is transitioning into natural population decline,” researcher Prof Christopher Murray told the BBC.

“I think it’s incredibly hard to think this through and recognise how big a thing this is; it’s extraordinary, we’ll have to reorganise societies.”

It has nothing to do with sperm counts or the usual things that come to mind when discussing fertility.

Instead it is being driven by more women in education and work, as well as greater access to contraception, leading to women choosing to have fewer children.

In many ways, falling fertility rates are a success story.

It’s both a success story, and a solution to a problem.  The fewer consumers of resources there are, the easier the burden we place on the environment.  Less impact means fewer deaths due to climate impacts, starvation, wars for resources, disease, etc.

An ageing and shrinking population is the gentle solution to our environmental problem.

 

Speak Broadly: The ZX Spectrum at 40

Clive Sinclair died last year, sadly missing the fortieth anniversary of his most important invention, the Sinclair ZX Spectrum, which was first released on April 23, 1982.

While it didn’t have much impact in North America (competing with the likes of Apple, Commodore, Atari, Tandy, and others), the Spectrum is legendary in Europe.  And unlike the US with its embargoes on exports to the East Bloc during the Cold War, the UK still traded with them, thus the Spectrum made its way to communist countries, becoming the learning ground of today’s hackers (for better and for worse) thanks to a seemingly endless list of Spectrum clones.

Unlike Sinclair’s earlier models with membrane keyboards, the ZX-80 and ZX-81, the Spectrum was a proper computer, thought the criticism for its keyboard was entirely valid.  But for its price, its features and capabilities, it was competitive and capable with other computers on the UK market (e.g. BBC Micro, Amstrad, Dragon).  The BBC Micro may have been the computer of UK schools, but it was the Spectrum that was in their homes.

More below the fold.

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This Is Cool: The ARPA Net of 1977 in one image

No deep meaning or arguments, just a picture that appeared in a retro computing group.

The good old days when Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) dominated the minicomputer market, along with other innovative companies (Data General, Control Data Corporation, Rand).  And of course, those Intolerant of Beards and Moustaches.

Drug Tests: Breaking Bad in real life

Taiwan is, sadly, a country which still has state sponsored murder (aka the “death penalty”) but usually it is only committed against hard-to-defend cases (i.e. the 2014 subway slasher who murdered four people).  Killing prisoners involved in the drug trade is still on the books, but I don’t know of any cases where it happened.

Recently, “Breaking Bad” turned real life.  A university assistant professor named Zhang was arrested for doing drug purity tests for a Taiwan gang on university property.  He even had his students running the tests.  (The students did not know what the substance involved was, so they have been cleared of any wrongdoing.)

Zhang lost money on a business venture and was heavily in debt.  He made the mistake of listening to criminal gangs instead of accepting the losses and facing much less severe consequences than what he’s facing now.  Even if he gets out of prison, who would hire him?  He’s thrown everything away.

Breaking Bad: chemistry prof used university lab, students, to operate “one-stop test shop” for Taiwanese drug syndicate

An assistant professor and post-doctoral researcher has been prosecuted for using a university chemistry laboratory with advanced equipment, and having students unknowingly assist in testing imported and locally manufactured illicit drugs for purity, on behalf of a Taiwanese narcotrafficker.

Zhang Enming (張恩銘), 44, was charged by the Taipei District Prosecutor’s Office for manufacturing category 3 drugs and other crimes following an investigation into a drug manufacturing operation uncovered in Yilan County in early 2021.

According to reports, Zhang, a former postdoctoral researcher the the Genomic Research Center at Academia Sinica, was involved with a cleaning detergent business in China, and became indebted for the amount of RMB400,000 (NT$1.82 million).

Information about the debt was passed on to the head of a Taiwanese drug syndicate, Xiao Guangzhe, who then approached Zhang, and suggested he help with testing drug purity to help pay off his debt.

On the other end of things, in the face of growing public sentiment for the legalization of marijuana, Taiwan’s government has greatly reduced the penalty for individual possession of marijuana (non-distribution), to a minimum of one year in prison from five.

Great.  More dolts growing and smoking that crap and making everyone else stink of it because there’s less risk if they’re caught.

Taiwan reduces jail penalty for growing marijuana for personal use

Taiwan’s Legislature passed a law amendment on Tuesday to reduce the penalty for growing marijuana for personal use from a minimum sentence of five years’ imprisonment to one year, and a maximum of seven years.

The amendment, which cleared the legislative floor without objections among lawmakers who were present, was proposed by the Cabinet that recommended that penalties match the gravity of the crime in growing marijuana, also called cannabis.

Under the existing Narcotics Hazard Prevention Act, those found guilty of cultivating cannabis with the intention of supplying it for use as a narcotic face a minimum of five years imprisonment, and may be fined up to NT$5 million (US$171,000).

On March 11, 2021, the Cabinet approved a proposal to revise the act with a new article that stipulates that those found guilty of growing cannabis for personal use should be punished with imprisonment ranging from one to seven years, and may be fined up to NT$1 million.

I’ve never touched it, never will.  I hate the smell.

Then again, maybe that “teacher” from 2018 might still be alive.