marahmarie: Sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell (Default)

In writing about other cheerful topics (rape, police brutality against blacks, what happened to Sandra Bland) I keep dancing around my thoughts on punishing people - even when it's rightfully so, at least in the eyes of the law - by admonishing them to jails or prisons. I think there are only a few good reasons to ever put someone behind bars and they can all be summed up by saying, simply enough, "So they don't get killed".

  • Most crimes involve taking something from someone, and most victims tend to want to take something in return. That something will often be your life. If the victim is dead or otherwise incapable or unwilling to take from you in return, then by golly, of course they will often know someone who can do that for them. So the primary purpose of putting someone behind bars is twofold: a) to avoid vigilantism by keeping the accused alive until trial and b) to avoid vigilantism by keeping the accused alive after conviction.
  • Incidentally, keeping vigilantism at bay has the almost accidental side effect of ensuring the safety and well-being of victims and society at large. A lot of people might say: "But MM! The first reason you lock criminals up or keep them locked up is to protect the innocent, right?" Nooooooo. Not in this country. Our jails probably came about because every house had a musket or good strong knife and the only way to keep those from being used against perps was to ensure English law carried on - at least in some loose form - over here. We didn't even used to have prisons, really, until people realized, "If we keep this eye-for-eye thing up we're all gonna be dead pretty soon, so let's build some of them dang thangs."

I'd like to point out I'm not the first person to propose that jails and prisons serve no real purpose. You don't make someone feel bad by putting them behind bars. You make them feel bad by making them feel bad. True remorse doesn't come from having a terrible time in jail or knowing you're going to die in prison or getting beaten up by correction officers or getting raped by fellow inmates (these things can make a person regret they got caught; but that's not the same as regretting the harm you've done, or truly wishing you could take every moment of it back).

And if jail or prison were honestly some sort of a deterrent, crime in most places with jails and prisons would probably hover at or near zero into perpetuity. Obviously criminals weigh the risks against what they feel they might gain, and obviously they come to the conclusion that what they're about to undertake is either worth the risk or does not represent a risk - ie, jail is like a second (or even primary, or at least vastly preferred) home to them.

Society always speaks of the redemptive, rehabilitative quality of locking people up. Without turning this into a formal white paper, and because I'm covering ground that's been trodden so many times my feet are mucking about in the footprints of others much more qualified to speak on this topic than I am, let me sum up some of the so-called rehabilitative features of the typical lockup today (while temporarily discounting the fact that some people are falsely accused, falsely tried, and falsely convicted - for that reason alone I'd almost be willing to abolish the criminal justice system, just to prevent one more person from having to endure such a travesty - and while also discounting the fact that since the breakup of the US mental institutional system, jails are used to warehouse the mentally ill even if they've committed no crime outside of acting out in ways that, for the time being, they cannot control).

If someone's done something morally wrong (and it stands to reason most crime is morally wrong) what they might most need is to regret what they've done, fully understand why they'd think it was wrong if it was done to them, and fully commit themselves to not doing such thing again. US society has this romantic idea that getting locked up results in remorseful rehabilitation. Remorse doesn't work this way because it can only come from within. Within can happen anywhere. There is also the case of psychopathic lack of remorse. People who can't feel bad for what they've done can't benefit from jail or prison (and will only feel bad out of a sense of narcissistic self-pity, since they tend to blame others or society at large for anything others hold against them) they need a max-security mental health facility with a strong focus on offenders' lack of empathy.

Despite most crimes springing from an inward lack of morality - a lack of thinking ahead to consequences suffered by others one would not want visited upon themselves - we do nothing in this country to make anyone feel bad for any crime they've committed except lock them up. Magic America, where locking people up is religion - our form of redemption for those we consider soulless - where just locking 'em up (and optionally, throwin' away the key) solves the problem. He served his time? Sure, let him out! He learned his lesson, didn't he...

Chances are, not the lesson one might be expecting. Here's a short, off-the-top-of-my-head list of what he did learn:

  • That jails and prisons are for committing crime. I've known those "on the inside" and have heard most of them spend almost every waking minute on how to break the rules to live like they're still on the outside. If they smoke anything on the outside they'll smoke it inside. If they drink, alcohol will be procured or homemade. If they're violent, tools will be acquired or hand-fashioned. If they rape, do get the picture, I presume.
  • That correction officers aren't paid enough to do their jobs, and certainly aren't paid enough to protect inmates from them or each other. Sometimes COs become friends and buddies, turning a blind eye to much mischief; other times they'll only do so for a price. They can also turn on someone on a gang's or favored cellblock's or individual inmate's suggestion or for no reason at all.
  • That the primary modes of therapy are "time on your hands" and "survival". Say someone freshly locked up does feel a little bad for what they've done. How do they make a better turn of their lives? There might be a Bible kicking around, but no clergy to help them through it; they might be told repeatedly by COs or other inmates what a rotten person they are, but no one will show up trained to help them deal with and overcome the reason for that.
  • With every distraction and thing against them, from bad food in paltry amounts that don't properly nourish body or brain, to near impossible sleeping conditions, ridiculous amounts of noise, constant privacy intrusions, lack of physical and emotional safety, lack of useful ways to occupy their time that won't turn them into slaves of the state, and copious amounts of crime going on on the inside, there's little time or emotional space to actually learn anything in jail except your capacity for survival against bleak odds.

A lot of people marvel at how you can send someone to jail or prison who never offended before and they'll come out a full-blown criminal. They did not go in except for one infraction (say, getting caught with drugs) but they come out better at crime than they were before they got inside of "the place". And that's true, because nothing in this country grooms one for criminality quite so well as getting locked up, where oftentimes corrections are so corrupt and uncaring and inmates so out of control that there's nothing useful to glean from time locked up except how to become more like what you see.

I can imagine someone saying, "It sounds like maybe you favor the European model." And while I do, I've had to shake off a good 30 years of being married to the belief that Europeans are a bunch of wusses who coddle criminals/go soft on crime/"Not here in America, we do it right" *fist shake*. The US are heathens about justice. Most of us think you get what you deserve. To most of us, *that* is the rehabilitative magic of being locked up to begin with. Somehow it cures you, and you will never, ever do the bad thing again, because we fucking said so, and if you do *fist shake*. We might be preventing one facet of our society's thirst for vengeance by locking criminals away from those on the outside who'd only too gladly kill them for their misdeeds, but we do nothing to discourage the other facet of our vengeance, the one that expresses itself in a thirst to watch those fuckers pay, that makes someone say: "Yeah, so I hope everything you described, MM, happens to them 20 times over in there - and that they die before they ever get out".

That attitude is not helping our recidivism rates, nor is it helping people to not wish to re-offend. Which is the other side of the coin; we lock people up in nasty, barbarian hellholes called 'jail' or 'prison' for varying lengths of time depending upon completely arbitrary bullshit that happens to them in court, but because we need the space they're taking up to lock up even more people, we let out all but the worst offenders, eventually. Then, after being subjected to scenes that at their most banal can cause depression and suicide, and at their worst, are barely fit for a chainsaw massacre movie, we let them out, and we call that rehabilitation. On top of that, we make it almost impossible for them to not re-offend by inflicting a huge round of strictly punitive punishments upon almost every one of them:

  • We often make it a condition of their parole or probation that offenders get a job, but we make it impossible for them to work by giving them "a record". In our country "a record" is today's scarlet letter. You're not getting work with one of those unless someone is almost insanely willing to overlook your record or else you find a job "off the books", which is a) almost impossible with most typical, non-criminal employers and b) of course forces people to break the law just to stay on parole or probation. So to not break the law you have to break the law - or else violate by not finding work and go right back to jail or prison. Nice catch-22 we've got going there... *hat-tip to America*.
  • Whether or not an offender finds work, they have to pay to be on parole or probation - and charges can run from the low hundreds into many thousands of dollars per year. They have to find transportation not just to and from any job, but to probation reporting and back, and also miss work over it. They have to pay incredibly steep prices (from $70-$300 per week) to comply with any GPS or alcohol monitoring. They have to pay incredibly steep prices ($35-$100 or more) for each required drug or alcohol lab test, which are performed randomly once or twice per month, and they have to find transportation back and forth to labs, and they usually have to miss work to take lab tests, as well.
  • Offenders often have to pay restitution which they cannot afford to victims. Paying victims for medical expenses and emotional and physical trauma doesn't sound evil on the face of it but when even the victim knows the offender can't pay, you can see a serious problem. It just becomes a trap to force the offender back to jail - and I don't think most victims want most offenders to go back to jail simply for being too poor to keep up with costs. If they've already done their time, this is a grave injustice.
  • The offender has to pay court costs. This can involve paying the state for the cost of the prosecution against them, paying fines for DUIs and other driving infractions, and paying fines for the administration of their cases by clerks of court and other government entities.

While the extreme punitive damage visited upon the typical criminal might warm the cockles of any "tough on crime" heart, none of this is helping your average offender. It just proves our society has turned criminal activity into a pay-to-play game; the less money you have, the less you'll play, but the more (as a percentage of your income) you'll pay. Most people on probation or parole don't have time to reform themselves - they're too busy worrying about how to stay out of jail, since one missed probation visit, one drug test not taken on time, one payment that can't be made for lack of funds is all it takes to land them back in hot water. Making sure they don't miss a drug test or parole visit can cause them to lose their jobs, which will also land them right back in jail, as lack of employment can also violate the terms of their release.

At this point, we're not re-imprisoning people for committing new crimes, but simply for being poor - trapped in a system that's almost impossible to get out of.

marahmarie: Sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell (Default)

I don't know if it's the fault of White America for making blacks feel less than human (and if it is, I'm white, so let me apologize for our entire, ongoing, twisted culture that might make anyone feel that way) but I've become troubled recently by blacks depersonalizing themselves in describing how White America treats them because I think they hurt themselves by making it an issue they cannot speak about with any emotion. As though they're still human. Which I think they very much still are.

I won't quote anyone directly - as in, word-for-word - but you can read almost anything Ta-Nehisi Coates has written on police brutality this summer to get a feeling for what I mean. It boils down to a line something like this to summarize hundreds of years of abuse, neglect, mistreatment, humiliation, and tiredness at the hands of whites treating them as The Other:

They are abusing our bodies. Disrespecting our bodies. Showing little regard for black bodies.

Whenever I see it put this way, I feel like I'm reading about people who are already dead.

This is like Munchhausen Syndrome by Proxy. When treated like an Other long enough, perhaps unwittingly one can completely disconnect the soul from, you guessed it...the body. I want to fucking get out a red pencil every time I see it. And it's not just TNC. He's been the primary offender (not that I find it "offensive"; I see it speaks to the deeply troubled, utterly bone-chilling, oft-times depressing realities of black life, so it's more that the words punch me as hard as they do because they come without a hint of emotion. 'Our bodies are disrespected.' It's like your soul wasn't tormented out of you first to make you feel that way - yet that's exactly what these words seem to suggest).

I don't know if this is a case of some black writers too-readily relinquishing their souls or proof that a good writer can simply make you feel as if they already have, but what sticks with me is exactly what they write, that their bodies are vulnerable. Bodies are by nature vulnerable. But what about the soul? It's an outrage when someone hurts, abuses, or disrespects any of the life within your body, but sometimes I think what society does is inflict the one wound that can't ever heal - the one that lacerates and permanently scars your heart.

I began thinking about this recently in tandem with a different topic, that of rape. Intersectionality abounds. It seems one can draw a line directly from blacks writing of the mistreatment of their bodies straight to anyone who's been raped. How is anyone reading a rape described along such parallels supposed to react? What is the author's hoped-for takeaway?

The rapist disrespects the body. Rapists disrespect our bodies. All rape disrespects our bodies.

Then I try to put those words into the context of being raped. So it's my body that really matters, if I'm to follow the TNC example of explaining what's wrong with the rapist's brutality. I should be unemotionally complaining about the disrespect visited upon my body. Yes, it makes for very good, quite chilling, utterly succinct prose. The raped body has been grossly violated. And depending upon the severity of what happened during that violation, it either will recover or will not, will be OK again or will suffer and die from the injuries and disease visited upon it. That is a horror and tragedy. But the heck with my body for a second - what about my mind?

What has the rapist taken away from my trust, sanity, perceived safety, sense of peace, prosperity, health and hope for the future that can never be replaced nor recovered, that cannot be healed from within or without? A body is something we can and ultimately will have to dispense with. Our minds, on the other hand, are not going anywhere - ever. I'd rather we talk about that.

marahmarie: Sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell (Default)

I don't normally post short Twitter-like status updates but this thought will not leave, though it's a tad too long for a Twitter-like blurb. I've seen it come up repeatedly where some male yoo-ha, after a rape performed by him or his buddy, or both, tells them or the rape victim: "Why press charges/take me to court/testify/have me/us prosecuted? I/they can't unrape you/her."

It's bothered me. I first saw it by someone quoted online, a typical sophomoric college dude who was being OH SO ENLIGHTENED in saying so. Then I saw it used in pretty much the same context by someone else oh so proud not only of his rapework, but of the humor and clarity he was bringing to it by pronouncing the victim unrape-able (yeah, I know, in this context being unrape-able is obviously not what the normal person might expect).

Finally, in trying to drift off to sleep the other night, the perfect answer came to me. People can't be unraped? Fine. They also can't be unkilled, so the same cops, judges and buddies who chortle along as you laugh about the unfixableness of the victim's situation better keep chortling should anyone finally get you back for it. Laws? Why, we've got those for rape, too, but if using the law can't unrape someone then how silly we're all being, lol.

ETA: After posting this, it occurred to me I shouldn't be so shocked by the rapist's POV as to begin advocating for a more anarchic solution, as this post at least jokingly seems to suggest, because if someone was callous, heartless and disrespectful enough to rape someone to begin with, then of course they're going to be callous, heartless and disrespectful enough to joke around and make totally light of it afterward. Sometimes I need to just grow a thicker skin, I guess. I guess?

And, (here comes my de riguer 'No one's being excluded intentionally' disclaimer) just to be clear, I'm not trying to ignore that men also get raped nor that women also sometimes are the rapists. I'm only speaking to the exact context in which I saw these comments made, which was men joking about their about-to-be-tried cases of having already raped women.


Sep. 30th, 2015 09:39 pm
marahmarie: Sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell (Default)

I don't have a lot of bad dreams. When I do, I don't usually write about them. But this one sort of freaked me out.

This morning I dreampt I was sitting in a large station wagon with two bench seats as well as a driver and a passenger seat. I was on the back bench to the right of the driver's seat looking out the window over a parking lot onto an overcast midday scene such as you might see in front of any typical mall. Apparently I was waiting for someone to return to the vehicle (which, btw, I have never seen or sat inside of before; I didn't recognize the mall-like parking lot I was absently studying, either).

Suddenly the station wagon was moving. It was parked nose-out and made a quick right out of the space it was in down into the parking lot toward the store closest to where it was parked. For a few seconds nothing registered; the wagon was moving, as it should be, and that was all. Then it hit me: the engine's not running, but this vehicle's hauling ass. I looked out the front windshield and there was a lady, in her youngish twenties, with dark hair and a grey cardigan, walking toward it, completely oblivious to the fact that the station wagon I was in was about to hit and possibly kill her. The keys were not in the vehicle (they must have been with the person in the mall).

The station wagon - with me inside helplessly flailing about for any clue on how to make it stop - continued to barrel toward her at, I'd say, at least 30 miles per hour. The engine still wasn't running (a fact I could not believe) so the only thing I could hear was wheels turning and gravel. So I panicked, ran across the vehicle, grabbed the wheel, and still standing up, bent over it, cut it to the left as hard and fast as I could, but it moved freely and began plunging into a huge shiny black SUV that was parked to the immediate left of the lady approaching me. I missed hitting her by no more than five feet. If I got killed trying to save her by driving the wagon into the SUV I'll never know, because that's when I woke up.

I don't know why it bothers me so much. On a scale of 1-Just Fuck Me, with Just Fuck Me the nightmare that makes me want to stab my eyes out with little pointy things, it was no more than a 4. Not to mention it made me suddenly appreciate how real life vehicles don't normally go all Christine on us, how they normally need (human-enabled) engine power to charge out of their own parking spots, steer like automatic transmission is already engaged, and so on. Maybe I'm really just afraid of self-driving cars.

Of course, it never occurred to me to simply hit the brake...our hero, indeed!

marahmarie: Sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell (Default)

About four years and three months ago, I posted an article to Anti-AOL titled Wow, Internet: hi. Yes indeed: AOL’s Classic home page is gone again. You'd think from this title one could at least gather something went missing and some two-bit blogger like me thought enough of the missing thing to write about it. If the title wasn't enough of a clue, there are also these words I wrote in extra-big fonts under the title:

If you know where the damn page is this time, let us know – leave a comment!


Missing in action: an entire AOL home page. Whoops!

These bigger words negate the need to even read the littler words to gather more clues. But as it turns out, either I did not explain the problem clearly enough or else someone has a major case of OCD and is ignoring the fact that I long ago explained it clearly enough, all in her overwhelming desire to hunt down the missing thing.

The missing thing, to be clear, in case all the big and little words I wrote over four years and three months ago did not explain it, is that an entire AOL home page design (not the page itself; just the design) went missing. And is probably never coming back.

But don't tell Barbara that! Barbara believes; there is nothing can stand between her and the idea that she'll find something that literally no longer exists except in the dreams of her and 32 other lost souls who looked for the motherfreaking Classic AOL home page just today (yet another reason I try not to look too hard at my stats).

Yes, for the last four years and three months I've been plagued by people like Barbara overrunning my blog for a single lost design on a single home page belonging to a single web company that no one but these people seems to give a flying crap about anymore. Welcome to my world! Again.

AOL tech support question/answer

Take a break, Barbara. Seriously. It's been over four years. Just chill, for Christ's sake.

marahmarie: Sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell (Default)

7 Simple Things You Can Do Right Now To Make Your Computer Run Faster the sad part is is how carefully most people would follow each and every step, then write me to complain that 'it did not work', to 'fix my computer' and to 'send me an email when it's done', with not even so much as a 'thank you' attached to any such request. Welcome to my life.

Yes, I am (still!) such a bitch, and no, I don't know why I run such a nice (most of the time; I have these moments, though) blog for the very folks I skewer for lack of computer know-how and overall savagery (people don't seem to realize I'm polite. I will at least start off that way. If you don't, I do tend to stand on ceremony, so things can turn icky kinda quick). I love most of my readers, but I have always done this! 'Here's how you do it - oh, yes, you're welcome', then *under my breath* 'OMG I only run this blog because wow, just wow...somebody's got to do it...dear Lord'. It's certainly never done much for my self-esteem. Well, a few times it did. Mostly when AOL was closing websites down left and right and I wrote stuff that helped people get files off about-to-be-unplugged servers and taught myself FTP and how to mirror websites all at the same time.

That was the lovely thing about this blog...I didn't know jack when I began, only how to write, and when I look back at most of my 2005-2006 entries - especially the hideous intro - I realize I didn't even know how to do that. I simply talked myself into making a blog and eventually got good enough at it to be accused of working for AOL...multiple times, by so many people I've lost count (most commenters to this day seem to work from the assumption that I _am_ the [blithely sarcastic] face of the company). But I didn't know anything. Google was my link to an informal online college/business school/writing workshop/opinion mill/how-to bonanza that helped me put a lot of the pieces together. I knew less the last time I wrote an article than I did the next time. I think writing and running it helped me more than it ever helped anyone else.

Here's a short list of some other skills I picked up just by running my first (and pretty much only) niche-topic blog:

  • HTML; how and why to not hotlink; why RTEs suck
  • CSS; more HTML; basic page arrangement; refreshed my memory on something called a 'paragraph', which amazingly enough keeps text from presenting as a solid wall of black on white
  • why web cookies suck and how to block them (this was sort of a big deal in 2005, the knowing of how to block cookies -there is so much more stuff now to block you could write another entire blog just on that...OMG *light bulb*)
  • Oh, and eventually I even learned how to cancel AOL! Which was what the blog was supposed to be about before it wandered off-topic for another four months or so, only to go suddenly on-topic again the following spring when AOL hid all their online info on how to cancel an account. That's when my commenters taught me an incredible amount of google-fu, and I taught myself how to read response headers, what a redirected page meant, what a 404 looked like and why I was seeing it, what a 301 redirect was doing and how worked. Not bad for one article about one stupid thing AOL did. Also briefly made me web-famous because it grew into one of those most-read articles on article-sharing sites, which was kinda neat.
  • How to reverse-engineer software, which I'm not supposed to talk about because it breaks AOL's TOS. I broke all the TOSs. With AOL's pile of crap, not as hard as it might seem.
  • Moar CSS. There can never, ever be enough CSS! Just ask my trolls. Around this time I also set up my first website (running Wordpress) with the intention of one day putting Anti-AOL on it.
  • That Wordpress is one huge pile of security risks referred to as 'plug-ins' that I would eventually abandon to return to social media, as it was back then. Got tired of seeing more people trying to break into my site than actually use it; got tired of constantly patching and trying to unbreak backend code. It's a bitch when your entire website resolves into one broken line on your home page that won't allow another thing to display. Ultimate control also means ultimate abandonment, and ultimate ability to both break shit and have it broken. While I bristle at the relative nanny state on shared sites like DW, I do really like to break shit. I probably need someone like Denise (or seriously, anyone - it's the figurehead factor that counts more than the actual person) to stop me from just randomly breaking shit simply because I can.
  • How to read Javascript. I knew how by the time the LJ-clickjacking erupted, but I learned more in its wake. Also, why hit counters don't work well without JS. Can't do much about it, either way (except, except...maybe if I ever get excited enough about s2 again I could make that my next just-fucking-off project...and code something to work like a hit counter in s2, if that's even possible).
  • What clickjacking is. Considering I shut my site down over it in 2009, it was important to understand why hundreds, if not thousands, of people were pissed off so I could know exactly why I leaving. It really did only take that. I don't think LJ enjoyed losing me - by then my blog was a huge traffic driver, probably in the top 100-500 blogs (depending on what day it was and what news I was breaking, exactly) (and this predates the Russian-owner move that allows you to track top blogs now in a nicely arranged list) and for a while I didn't enjoy it, either, but I've made my peace with it...sort of.
  • Why you really shouldn't host your anti-company blog on a soft-porn server like IJ (for the record: I have nothing against soft porn. It's just the wrong venue for what I was doing). They're for porn, duh. No, seriously...I did not know that. I just thought "Oh, it's like LJ" *shrug*
  • Ditto tumblr-like sites, anything connected to both my on- and offline lives I've moved too many times, but moving around online has taught me a lot about Where Things Go. (Moving around offline has taught me nothing.)
  • Moar CSS! Now there was CSS3 and HTML5 and oh my. Mind you I never use either on Anti-AOL, but I've had to teach myself to stay current in case I ever do yank Anti-AOL off In which case I will only ever yank it over here and completely redo its style sheet. Again.

But I'll probably leave it where it is. It'll be 10 years old in another month and a half or so...on Oct. 23, 2005. Because it didn't get its first unique visit until early November, I have some sort of commemoration planned for then (that's right: the commemoration is for my first visitor, whoever they are - and not for the 10-year mark itself - because Anti-AOL did not exist until they saw it). If I have time, I want to do a 10 year post where I upload all the letters and complaints made about cancelling my AOL account (the thing I couldn't do that led me to starting the blog in the first place) and letters from State Attorneys who got involved in the hidden cancel page fiasco the following year.

And I don't have any plans beyond that. When AOL does something newsworthy and I have the time and desire I still write (though I'm just as likely to make my posts on this blog so I can write as I like) but it's just not my every day thing anymore.


Aug. 27th, 2015 03:22 am
marahmarie: Sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell (Default)

Hyperbook, aka e-Vellum. Inspired during - not after, that's not how my mind works - a long read tonight about Ted Nelson's vision of hypertext, minus any of the transclusion, a strange variant of the same commercialized bullshit he otherwise so vehemently rails against (and therefore would tickle companies like Microsoft pink if it were to ever come true).

Internet-connected paper inside a traditional-looking book cover; the cover can have a paper look and feel with thin/flexible silicon undercoating housing the OS, CPU, RAM, wifi adapter, and any other bells and whistles needed to make and keep the book interconnected. Connection is private (tunneled via VPN, proxied?) because I'm no disciple of Mark Zuckerburg's prying-for-profit nor any fan of Window's 10 advanced spying features, nor am I a disciple of today's more nefarious hackers' seemingly infinite, larcenous reach into every facet of our online lives.

Book can be turned on and off just like any computer; off switch completely disconnects. Pages are made out of about the same stuff as US cash; perhaps thinner for a more lightweight experience or perhaps a bit thicker for increased durability. Use of paper threads will vastly increase, irregardless of final paper weight, to strengthen paper and provide on-page interconnectivity, depending on which color thread is being used (a simple visualization to decide: blue threads are for hyperlinks; red threads are for page strength and reinforcement).

It doesn't matter how many pages the book has because as each page is finished you can either stream the next one from its Web resource or else load it straight from on-board cache (this is where the otherwise intrusive and quite dangerous pre-fetch feature that's been around for years, that Mozilla is now turning on by default in Firefox, would finally come in handy, provided the web resource you request your pages from is secure). The book can have one page, a hundred or a thousand. For simplicity and ease of use and recognition it might be nice to standardize around a set number: 300 pops into my head as one possible water line.

The cover and pages would be treated with a ScotchGuard-like finish; the cover would have a thin, flexible, damage-resistant non-conductive metal or metal-like lining to further protect the book.

The advantage of this design is it gives you the old-fashioned book in it's most familiar shape and form while eliminating the need for physical libraries and enabling inline linking on physical book pages. It can also support PDF and similar technologies via its use of threads as links. It's The Book, the book that contains all books while simultaneously containing nothing. When you unwrap it, you pull the plastic shrink wrap off, turn it on, and there's sample books to get you started, but you can delete those once you're ready to get your own books, leaving The Book literally empty except for the first page.

That first page will give you a simple UI to download books and PDFs from the Web and also provide a link to another page, which will hold links to all the books you've downloaded for offline reading, along with links to any books you're still reading via built-in streaming technology. When you look for stuff to read, you'll have the choice to either stream or download your selections. Cache by default/necessity will be huge, because you might want to store a lot of books for offline reading, re-reading or eventual sharing.

The tricky parts are always a) getting the text of any book you stream or download to "print" on paper (I have no idea how to do this - yet - but maybe on my next 3-mile walk or another 300 3-mile walks from now, I'll finally figure that out - I already know it's got something to do with light) and b) getting links on the paper to work - and this book will need working links.

Ideally - say for the PDF-reading portion of it - the book will have a program that scans your streams and downloads in realtime for any links in the HTML; the links will act as pointers for the code to send a signal (is this an electro-magnetic pulse?) to, say, the blue threads in the paper, which will insert the links into the appropriate places in the text. Imagine the blue threads run as many lines to a page as there are lines of words in your chosen book or PDF; then the program simply has to decide where in each blue line the linked word will appear once "printed" and insert the link in exactly that spot.

Basically, including links in the book are about setting a line-height to ensure they become clickable where they should, so it's a problem that's more easily solved than the dilemma of how to print streamed or downloaded text on paper in the first place, which is sort of a Battle Royale if ever there was one. Forget breaking into websites, oh very l33t onez; chances are that will never be as hard as making a single interconnected paper-paged book (even just one prototype!) that actually works. You'd think half these coders would have some can-do and work on something like this rather than steal your credit card info, which has got to be a snore after the 30th victim or so.

If I were Steve Jobs up on the stage (whose amazing marketing skills I will forever admire) I'd sell the book like this: "E-Vellum is the book to end all books. It is ... The Book" *whips it out from behind to thunderous applause/trillions of camera flashes*. "Simple, lightweight, portable, it goes where you want it, feels like what you're used to, and does what you thought it never could do. *dramatic pause* Watch." *some onscreen demos* I'd also give it a better name than e-Vellum (*eyeroll* - or is that iRoll?). And then the audience would throw confetti and I'd become an overnight zillionaire and finally buy Facebook simply so I can shut it down. Thanks for the memories - and maybe for some of those memes - Zuck.

Pushing that daydream aside - because confetti is messy, someone will have to clean it up and I'm not exactly Steve Jobs - I do think if some of the kinks could be worked out - at least on paper and/or in theory - that this might make a great Kickstarter project.

marahmarie: Sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell (Default)

I mean, normally, I don't even cook a lot of chicken. It's bland, dull, and I've been eating it since in utero. When I do prepare it I like it roasted whole, with the skin crisped up and juicy from the tons of spices I use (secret to tender, roasted chicken with perfectly dry, crispy skin: don't - don't - ever pierce it. Don't pierce any part of the chicken. Don't put butter or oil on it and don't wash it, either - you'll just mess up your kitchen. Simply season and cook the damn thing. You can't go wrong. Also, use a toaster oven - if the chicken will fit. It cooks slower, ensuring your chicken won't dry out, and saves electricity, not to mention your kitchen won't get so freakin' hot).

But I did the unheard of - for me - and stocked up on chicken last week. Walmart had this crazy clearance where I got six leg quarters for $2.73 (I mean quarters - this is the entire leg of the chicken all the way up to, I guess, the waist, six times over) and a package of three whole boneless skinless chicken breasts weighing at least a pound each for $5.73. The only problem was both packages were about to go out-of-date, but that's what my freezer is for. I was so happy with my cheap finds I didn't buy my usual whole roasting chicken (well, I also got a huge pork tenderloin for under $8. When I cut it up to portion it out for freezing, I realized I had enough for three meals serving three people each).

I don't like buying meats from Walmart (definitely never buy any shrimp from them - not overseas nor the domestically caught or raised - I have, and it's all uniformly awful, but the mussels, oysters and flounder are pretty good) but Walmart is the most nearby and convenient as I can knock out all my shopping in one trip without having to stop anywhere else. And after being re-exposed to Publix this year after a two-year break, I see it's overpriced and completely overrated. Their meats suck - have always sucked - and their fresh seafood counter is nothing to write home about. The only things I miss are the excellent frozen seafood sold under their own brand name and the Gorton's fried clams I can't find anywhere else. Meanwhile, there are no quality stores like Wegman's or Trader Joe's or Whole Foods around, so I feel like I might as well keep shopping at Walmart.

Two of these three huge chicken breasts got pounded out and cooked into a mushroom sauce a few nights ago, which was okay (bland, dull, and I've been eating something like it since in utero), but I had one breast left over that I couldn't refreeze and the clock was ticking on it bad so tonight I searched for a good curry recipe. The third result in Google was this one and from the opening sentence, which mentions chicken, curry and yogurt - everything I was craving - I knew it was for me. It blew my socks off. As the author says in the heavily illustrated instructions, this dish can be as mild or spicy as the curry you're using. Hers was McCormick. Mine is Badia. But I think, after years of brand-switching, that all jarred and bottled dry curry rubs taste the same. If you want a really spicy curry, you probably have to go to an Indian store (and yes, I'm also lacking an Indian store).

What was most delightful was all the substitutions this recipe allowed for (not implicitly not explicitly; I just substitute if I don't have what I need on hand, which is almost every single day. I think unless you don't have the most major ingredients on hand - for instance, you don't have the dairy for an Alfredo, though even that's inherently fudge-able - that either the recipe sucks, or else you're not a good cook. I have a similar philosophy toward cooking implements - that is, strictly speaking, that you don't need most of them to make good - and even fairly good-looking - food.)

I can say with glee that this recipe definitely did not suck, because I didn't have a lot of things I needed to make it correctly and it still tasted fantastic. For instance, I didn't have chicken broth, so I used bouillon cubes. I didn't have fresh ginger so I used the powdered ginger I always keep on hand. I didn't have basmati rice (only because I hate basmati rice) so I used jasmine rice (jasmine rice has the lowest arsenic levels of any rice in the world, and also tastes the best, and I'm a rice-eating fanatic, so low arsenic levels and the incredible smell and flavor sold me on it a long time ago) and the sauce that enveloped this dish still tasted so good I was doing happy dances in my chair as I ate it, when I wasn't almost melting away altogether.

The chicken, though tasty, was actually my least favorite part (bland, dull, and I've been eating something like it since in utero). That was my one disappointment. Next time I'm using shrimp. Really good shrimp. And fresh ginger and (hopefully, if I've whipped up another batch by then) my own homemade broth.

marahmarie: Sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell (Default)

So after admiring (and digging around in CSS style sheets to find) a font I liked on another website, I came to learn it's called TabletGothic Compressed and is available via Typekit Fonts. Thinking I might get it for free if I signed up for a TypeKit account, I went ahead and did so, only to be confronted by this image toward the end of the list of 49 free fonts non-paying users can have (but of course, TabletGothic Compressed was not among them).

The letters A and G in Strumpf Std Open Adobe typkit, aka bunny rabbit and goatse. If this were a Rorschach test, I'd totally fail it - so, should I make this my default user icon for when people *really* annoy me?

Eye bleach, someone. I will never erase this scene from my memory otherwise.

marahmarie: Sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell (Default)

How Flash destroys your browser's performance. That's any browser, any performance, any day of the week. It's sad, really. Was Flash ever usable? I've only been online since 2004 so I don't remember it being a huge problem until say, maybe 2007-2008ish, but before that, most people's connections to the Web were so slow that as a fairly considerate website owner, you wouldn't - as a matter of course - display Flash to them on a regular basis, anyhow.

I've disabled Flash so many hundreds of times over the years in every version of Windows, from XP right through Windows 10, over "Shockwave Flash script running slowly - stop script/wait" messages, and had so many browser and individual tab crashes over the years because of Flash, that as a matter of routine over the last few years I either disable Flash altogether or force-kill it through Task Manager as needed, which is almost every damn time I browse. It's a crippling, far-from-secure, ridiculous plugin and in all the years it's been around, I wish any competitor would have replaced it with better technology.

Speaking of which: Silverlight, HTML5 (YouTube reverts to HTML5 by default for users who watch video on a fresh browser install that's still lacking Flash; there's also an alternate YouTube which plays nothing but HTML5 videos) and...? Why, in all these years, has no viable alternative become a more widespread and popular choice so we can finally kick Flash to the curb?