Monthly Archive for December, 2010

The American Dream Illustrated

20% of the wealthiest Americans own 85% of all the wealth in the country. The next 20% own 10% of all wealth, and the remaining 5% is owned by the rest of the population. The poor own nothing.

The interesting finding of the paper researching people’s perceptions of wealth is that people generally think the wealth of Americans is spread much more evenly. The reality is much more skewed in favor of the ultra rich than people think. The policy making implications are probably quite detrimental to the majority of people in this country.

The chart is a perfect illustration of how the American Dream is only for the few, and how the trickle up economy benefits those who already have rather than those who never will have anything.


US – The Land of Hypocrites

While condeming other countries for inhumane treatment of detainees the US Government is at the same time using the same inhumane treatment on its own detainees in a deliberate effort to break them.

I’m referring to the treatment of Bradley Manning, the person alleged to have leaked secret information to Wikileaks. He’s been held in solitary confinment for seven months now. He’s been denied pillows and blankets for no apparent reason. He’s not allowed to sleep when he wants to, and his one hour per day “exercise” time has strict limitations, for example he’s not allowed to run for some reason. There is no good reason for any of it. He’s not on suicide watch, although I guess if this keeps on going for much longer, he soon will be. It seems as if his treatment is entirely punitive. He’s been punished for something he’s not even been convicted yet. Not only that, but even if he was convicted his treatment would still not be appropriate.

There are significant second order consequences to treating people like this, as outlined in the article, but what’s most interesting is how the general opinion has changed in recent years to accept treatment of this kind, becase “those rotten terrorist belong in jail”. As described by Glenn Greenwald:

I think the worse part, is that very few people care what kind of conditions the incarcerated endure. We have essentially accepted prison-rape. The New Yorker piece asks is solitary confinement torture? I’d ask, even if it is torture, whether we even care?

It’s the perfect example of do as we say, not as we do. On the other hand the US is always preeching to other non-democratic nations how important human rights are and you savages are doing it wrong, and then on our own backyard we’re doing the EXACT same thing. Other countries are catching on to the deceit. So much for the “moral superiority”. It even looks like human rights organizations are investigating US for violations of human rights due to this.

And before some Internet tough guy starts accusing me of defending Bradley Manning’s actions…I’m doing no such thing. If he actually did what he’s alleged to have done, he’s guilty and deserves appropriate punishment for his crimes. Torture is not an appropriate punishment, especially since he hasn’t actually been convicted of anything yet.


The War on Cameras

Radley Balko of writes of legal problems people are finding themselves in some states after getting “caught” recording public officials’ interactions with the public.

In some US States it is a felony to record conversations without consent from all parties. This is generally a good idea, because privacy issues. Whether it should be a felony is a separate matter. However, prosecutors and police force in these states has increasingly taken the position that it is illegal to record on-duty police officers. They argue police officers have expectation of privacy while performing their work duties. That’s pretty ridiculous, but the letter of the law in these states really does allow for that.

In extreme cases, the article says, ordinary, law-abiding citizens are facing sentences of up to 75 years in prison for merely recording police actions in their cellphone cameras. People are getting routinely harassed for recording police officers, they’re arrested, thrown in jail and made criminals for something that causes no harm whatsoever. On the flip side in US States where it IS legal to record police officers, police officers who wrongly arrest people for it face no consequences whatsoever.

Read the article for a thorough review of this issue.

Please support the ACLU in their efforts of getting these insane laws repealed.


It’s done. PayPal is no more.

The check from PayPal cleared, so I was able to close my account with them.

Good riddance.


PayPal alternatives

Thank you PayPal for finally giving me a good reason to close my account with you.

Here’s a list of perfectly fine alternatives:

  • Google Checkout
  • Money Bookers
  • Paymate
  • OboPay
  • Amazon Payments

More alternatives behind the link above.


Show CoCo in Finland!

Conan is not shown in Finland. The Tarja Halonen lookalike HAS to show in Finland. Do your part!