Everything Falls Apart

by James Classen

Once again, I don’t have the energy to get worked up about the injustice of the world. An American citizen’s door was battered down, he and his family handcuffed with guns pointed at their heads, and, though he looked nothing like the picture, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents didn’t realize they had the wrong man until after fingerprinting him. Because he was Latino. An innocent man served 15 years of his 1–15 year sentence because he refused to admit guilt. In the eyes of the parole board, that was a sign of guilt and lack of conscience. The judge, after the sentence had been served, declared him “factually innocent”, but the damage to his reputation is done—the community sees a child molester. Another was tried and convicted of possession with intent to sell. The prescribed opioid painkillers were to treat the triple-whammy of multiple sclerosis, a car accident, and a botched back surgery. Once in prison, the doctors there reviewed his charts and prescribed a dose higher than what he had before. After four years and a NYT exposé, he was pardoned. The mandatory minimum sentence would have kept him locked away for another 21 years. A 73-year-old man’s apartment was raided by a SWAT team, ostensibly to search for drugs. They claimed that the occupant fired first, before launching a barrage of 123 rounds into the apartment. His great-granddaughter emerged from cowering in the bathtub, to see her caretaker bloody and dead, cowering in his own bedroom closet. No drugs or weapons were found. An internal report cleared the officers of any wrongdoing, and they were acquitted in the criminal case, but the city did pay the survivor $2.5M.

That’s (a taste) of terrible things going on in the country. Some things are less terrible, but still unfortunate. If a friend of mine hasn’t completed 300+ hours of training at a cosmetology or barber school, and passed the requisite exams and paid the appropriate licensing fees, I cannot legally compensate him or her for trimming my hair. Other professions have similarly onerous requirements. If your movements have been tracked, your phone bugged, or something similar, to determine the movements of another person who is the true target of an investigation, you have no legal standing to challenge the invasion of privacy, as you were not (officially) the target of the investigation. The legal system is so complex that attempts to count the number of laws vary wildly: there are roughly 4000 criminal laws, with between 10000 and 300000 that can be prosecuted criminally—and that’s just at the federal level. “After the McCain-Feingold legislation passed in 2003, for example, both parties held weekly, three-hour classes just to educate members of Congress on how to comply with the bill they had just passed. This is a bill they wrote that applied to themselves, and they still had to bring in high-paid lawyers explain to them how not to break it.” (via) Oh, and prosecutors and judges have this thing called “absolute immunity”—they can be as evil as they please and suffer no penalty (e.g. Aaron Swartz)

On the positive side of things, the women in combat ban has finally been lifted; females are now allowed to serve on the “front lines” (blurry as they may be).

Well, that’s a lopsided list, isn’t it? FYI, a good chunk of this came from here. Think what you want about HuffPost; I read Balko’s stuff, wherever it may be, when I can handle allowing my blood to boil just a little. In fact, I have a host of RSS feeds that do that to me, but I try to balance them out with comics, The Bloggess, and a healthy dose of Cheezburger network (and similar sites).

Timing is everything, and I seem to have hit everything just wrong.

Perhaps I should have waited until it was more realistic. My dog Corvi (3/4 lab, 1/4 Australian shepherd)was good for a few nights, requiring, well, a tad more intervention than I hoped, by waking me up about every two hours (“Good practice for you!”, quipped a couple of co-workers). Then I made the mistake of getting the flu. True, that wasn’t something I had much control over, but his needs don’t stop when I have trouble fulfilling them, of course. I tried to keep him warm, so I took him inside, but I left him in the basement, because I didn’t want the inevitable mess on my carpet or hardwood. Two days went perfectly fine. Day three he had pulled out and chewed apart a 2′ piece of insulation. Not too bad, I shrugged it off. By the morning of day 4? Half the wall had been torn apart. I still don’t have the energy to clean up his…leftovers, much less patch the wall up. Not only am I going to need the insulation, I’m going to need a bit of that plastic wrap that he chewed through to get to the insulation. At least I’m no longer contagious (to the best of my knowledge of these things, according to the info the doctor was able to give me). I’m going to the vet to pick up a chemical to rid him of the Ancylostoma caninum currently resident in his intestines. Meanwhile, I had one of those “Invisible Fence” things installed (different brand, though), so once he’s trained with that, I’ll no longer need to be the master of knots. Just how he manages to thread the cable through holes of miniscule size, and around, over, and through, or even just around certain objects is baffling. I try not to think about it when I’m unraveling things. But his arrival is also marked by the alarming disappearance of massive amounts of money. Most of it I expected, and was able to handle. The fence part, though only a tiny fraction of what an actual fence would have cost, equaled a house payment. Which I also had to make. So I’m rather strapped for cash at the moment…And since February only has the two paydays, March is going to be tight as well. Looks like, barring a good tax refund, I might be hard up until August.

Speaking of which…H&R Block has reduced the allowable password strength of their TaxCut product by limiting the length of the password to 15 characters. Additionally, Chrome isn’t fully supported by their software. All their “Need help finding this info?” links (one of which I’m stuck at now) only seem to work in IE. Had I not already paid for it, I might consider switching to someone else’s product.