Archive for March 7th, 2009

What’s it like to go to prison school?

| March 7, 2009 | Reply
What’s it like to go to prison school?

Have you ever wondered what it is like to learn how to run a prison, you should check out this video:

This Bureau of Prisons video has become public in an unusual way. It was part of a huge grab of “free” public records that was obtained then made much more accessible by two activists. The story is told here, and is close to my heart because it involves criticism of the enormously clunky PACER system, which contains all federal case filings. The activists decided to download all of the recent cases on PACER in order to make them more accessible. They were in the process of doing that when the federal courts shut them down. Fascinating stuff.

They also obtained government videos that they’ve collected into “FedFlix,”

a growing archive of many films originally produced by the federal government, which he’s been uploading to the Internet Archive and a YouTube channel.

The 524 films in the FedFlix catalogue so far include such gems as “Sludge Management,” “Welcome to the Bureau of Prisons!” “Foreign Lottery Scams,” “(Motorola Presents) Atomic Attack,” battle footage and training films from World War II and Vietnam, and the Cold War classic “Duck and Cover” [starring "Bert the Turtle"].

Does the word “propaganda” come to mind when you’re viewing any of these? For a lot more information, visit the activists’ website, Public Resource.

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Why is a tax cut for 98% of Americans being attacked as a tax hike?

| March 7, 2009 | 4 Replies
Why is a tax cut for 98% of Americans being attacked as a tax hike?

Media Matters is asking why a tax cut for 98% of Americans is being attacked as a tax hike. Short answer: because it disproportionately affects those with disproportionate power to control the media.

Last week, President Obama unveiled a budget outline that extends the Bush tax cuts for all but the top two percent of taxpayers and makes permanent a tax credit of up to $800 for low- and middle-income workers that was included in the recent stimulus package, among other tax cuts.

On the other hand, individual taxpayers with taxable income above $200,000 ($250,000 for families) per year would pay more in taxes under Obama’s plan, under which the tax rates paid on income in the top brackets would revert to their levels under President Clinton in the 1990s — from 33 and 35 percent to 36 and 39.6 percent. Slate.com’s Daniel Gross estimates that for someone with $350,000 in income, this will amount to about $1,500 a year in increased taxes.

But the media, eager to hype their bogus “war on the wealthy” storyline, have portrayed it as a tax increase.

Media Matters gives lots of details substantiating its observation that several major media outlets have been busy spinning the news rather than reporting it.

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Why is Dangerous Intersection such a slow-loading website?

| March 7, 2009 | 2 Replies
Why is Dangerous Intersection such a slow-loading website?

Why is Dangerous Intersection such a slow-loading website?

[UPDATE: If you can see this update, you are now on DI's new faster server, and the rest of this post is moot.]

I’m painfully aware of the problem, which is being caused by problems with our current hosting, an upgrade to a new design and growing traffic, which now brings us about 6,000 visitors every day.

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Bill Maher’s response to Bobby Jindal on the need for government

| March 7, 2009 | Reply
Bill Maher’s response to Bobby Jindal on the need for government

Bill Maher first torments, then really responds to, Bobby Jindal here in a 4-minute video.

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More insanely beautiful base jumping

| March 7, 2009 | Reply
More insanely beautiful base jumping

I do have a fascination for freebase jumping. Not for doing it myself, mind you, but for watching others do it well. Here are some incredible videos from beautiful Norway:

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Color-coded history

| March 7, 2009 | 4 Replies
Color-coded history

Consider this description of a significant and tragic event in American history:

[Occurring in May and July 1917, this event] was an outbreak of labor and racially motivated violence against blacks that caused an estimated 100 deaths and extensive property damage in [an American industrial city]. It was the worst incident of labor-related violence in 20th century American history, and one of the worst race riots in U.S. history. It gained national attention. The local Chamber of Commerce called for the resignation of the Police Chief. At the end of the month, ten thousand people marched in silent protest in New York City over the riots, which contributed to the radicalization of many.

[paraphrased from Wikipedia]

Do you know anything about the event described above? The above passage describes the East St. Louis race riot that occurred on Monday, July 2, 1917. I learned about this riot for the first time tonight when I had the opportunity to hear a talk by Harper Barnes, a St. Louis journalist who has recently written a book called Never Been a Time: The 1917 Race Riot That Sparked the Civil Rights Movement.

[caption id="attachment_5419" align="alignright" width="150" caption="Harper Barnes - Photo by Erich Vieth"]Harper Barnes - Photo by Erich Vieth[/caption]

In 1914, the first world war was heating up and so were the heavy industries. East St. Louis, Illinois, located right across the Mississippi River from St. Louis, Missouri, was the home of large aluminum and steel plants.

To backtrack, through the 1910s, one-half million blacks who had resided in the rural South moved up to northern cities. Employers made use of these blacks as strikebreakers. The blacks certainly wouldn’t have felt much loyalty toward the unions, because the white unions banned black workers.

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