Cars, new and old.

This wasn’t a Lansing day, but it started that way, which is to say, early — up at 5 a.m., out the door at 6:30, back home 15 minutes later, when a mysterious sound from the undercarriage led me to believe it would be foolish to continue on a 100-mile morning rush-hour commute.

Turned back around and began a long and sorta-productive day. The good news: The car problem was simple and fixed free of charge (loose underbody pan). But it seemed to require lots of driving, packing and unpacking the computer, this and that. Frankly, I’m whipped, and Alan — who was out of the house even earlier and still isn’t home — must be even more so. Auto show, of course. If y’all don’t mind, I’m going to phone it in today.

As a discussion topic, though, let me throw out this: Is the Aaron Swartz suicide that important? Because a lot of the commentary so far suggests the government drove this kid to suicide, and I’m not buying that. Overzealous prosecution I can handle, but suicide is a pretty personal choice, and people going through far rougher ordeals make it through. So there’s that. But I’m curious what y’all think. Supplemental reading here and here, along with Swartz’s own site.

Let’s hope for a quieter Tuesday.

Posted at 12:24 am in Same ol' same ol' |

60 responses to “Cars, new and old.”

  1. Dexter said on January 15, 2013 at 1:32 am

    Are there more cars at the auto show than the new Corvette? You wouldn’t know it if you were only casually interested in cars and didn’t go to any Detroit blogs or newspapers for coverage, because all day long the msm has been raving on about the new Corvette, and nothing else from the auto show at all.
    Starting at 6:00 AM, the business news crew on “Imus in the Morning” began ranting on the Corvette and it never stopped all day long. Even car-nut Brian Williams mentioned only the Corvette on NBC Nightly News. “It looks like a Ferrari!” “It ain’t no Ferrari!” “It only costs around $65,000!”

    Jesus…I have never heard and seen so much overkill for one brand when that hall in Detroit is jam-packed with many other exciting new products and prototypes.

    Suicides are way up in the military too…more 2012 suicides than combat deaths, a weird statistic, unheard of until lately. I can’t begin to analyze why this kid offed himself; I barely knew the one kid in our school who hanged himself when he was 15 and I was 12. Suicide seems so distant to me, and I have never pondered the whys and causes. Maybe it’s odd, but suicide has spared my family and friends, all my life

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  2. Sherri said on January 15, 2013 at 3:59 am

    I believe there was serious overzealous prosecution in the Swartz case, which I had kind of marginally followed as it unfolded. That doesn’t necessarily directly translate into “the government hounded him into suicide”, though it doesn’t take the government off the hook either. Evidently Swartz suffered from serious depression, and in my experience with serious depression, even serious depression that is being treated, your mind can convince yourself that some awful thing is true and that it will never change, and nothing will ever get better, and really, it’s just not worth the fight anymore. Mix an overzealous prosecutor determined to make a point with an emotionally fragile kid, and yes, suicide is very much a potential outcome.

    I’ve read lots of attempts to explain what depression feels like, and all of them capture parts of it, but for me, the bottom depth of depression felt like I was already dead and that it was never going to change. I was already under treatment when I reached that point, and never actually attempted suicide because my killing myself would cause a great deal of harm to my daughter, so I was honest about what was going on with me with my therapist. A crisis plan and a change in meds pulled me back from the edge, and eventually I clawed my back to stability. But I always keep a look out over my shoulder for that mind-betraying disease that is depression.

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  3. jcburns said on January 15, 2013 at 6:41 am

    Well said, Sherri. There’s a Boston Globe column that says “People who steal things usually benefit financially from it. Swartz downloaded the material because he believed that such information — in this case, much of it research underwritten by taxpayers — should be free to the public. He did it not to make a buck, but to make a point.”

    Swartz was trying to make a point. The hardline prosecutors were trying to make a point. Maybe the system is fundamentally messed up enough, even given all our technological advances in communicating, that we can’t have a discussion of important issues like privacy and academic freedom and torture and surveillance and, yes, the societal factors of suicide, with enough flexibility or sense of proportionality to be worthwhile.

    Another discussion worth having.

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  4. David C. said on January 15, 2013 at 6:52 am

    That was his problem. He “stole” and didn’t make a dime. If you steal billions, you get tongue baths on CNBC by Maria Bartiromo, you get to buy congress, regulatory agencies, and likely the overzealous prosecutors who overcharge the serfs.

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  5. Suzanne said on January 15, 2013 at 7:50 am

    In other news, Tim Goeglein was in the Fort yesterday.

    As with Lance Armstrong and others, why can’t guys caught with their hand in the cookie jar or pants down or whatever, just say “Sorry” and then shut up? I guess that would mean they truly were sorry, wouldn’t it?

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  6. alex said on January 15, 2013 at 8:10 am

    Suzanne, if you work for Focus on the Family, then by definition you have no shame, and certainly no capacity for remorse. That sick fuck is actually profiting from his misdeeds by publishing this book. ‘nuf said.

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  7. beb said on January 15, 2013 at 8:41 am

    Aaron Schwartz was not a normal person. At the age of 14 he wrote the protocol that became RSS feed. He was a co-founder of Reddit. He was a bonefide genius and at age of 26 was being threatened with 30 years in prison for downloading files from an unsecured computer. I think most 26 year olds would view a 30 year jail term as a death sentence. Especially over what was at most copyright infringement. JSTOR, the primary victim of his downloading declined to prosecute. MIT, which bears responsibility for the theft by not securing its computers, didn’t absolve Schwartz, which allowed the government to proceed.

    And as has been pointed out, rapists don’t get 30 year sentences, 2rd degree murders don’t get 30 year sentences, the fraudsters on Wallstreet, the torturers in the CIA have never been prosecuted. So why go after this kid? “sending a message” is not legitimate grounds for extreme punishment.

    And, well, yes, Schwartz suffered from depression.

    This case sounds very much like the case against, which FBI agents flew to New Zealand to conduct a raid on the company’s founder, Kim “dotcomm”‘s, residence and arrested Mr. Dotcomm. I don’t know why FBI thought it was within their powers to send agents to a foreign country to conduct a raid. Lawyers for Mr. Dotcomm allege that the FBI lied to New Zealand courts in order to get their cooperation, that the FBI’s action to import all of Megaupload’s servers injuries their many innocent users, and that prior to the raid the government had approved their keeping infringing movie files on their servers as a honeytrap for other infringers. And you have to wonder, ‘is this is the best use of the FBI’s time and manpower?

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  8. coozledad said on January 15, 2013 at 8:57 am

    There’s an Ayn Rand dating site. Maybe the Atlantic can whore themselves out for a puff piece on it.

    Ought to be fun to troll that one with a carefully chosen assumed name.
    I’m going with “Junk” Reardon or Dame Peggy Asscroft.

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  9. coozledad said on January 15, 2013 at 8:58 am

    Sorry. Hosed that link royally.

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  10. Lex said on January 15, 2013 at 10:04 am

    It would be presumptuous for me or anyone else to gauge how much weight to give Swartz’s illness v. his legal problems in trying to answer why he took his own life. That said, his case is but one example of a much larger problem this country has: It persecutes people who try to do the right thing. Swartz. Manning. Kiriakou. Swartz’s case may be a little different in that I’ll grudgingly grant the possibility that perhaps, maybe, he committed a crime. But if he did, it was a small one, and the government’s response hasn’t just been over-the-top, it has been Stalinesque.

    Moreover, Swartz wasn’t just someone trying to the right thing; he was a genius who had done more for the Internet before turning 21 than I have done in the past 20 years and will do in the rest of my life. A country that can’t find a place for its Aaron Swartzes is a country in decline. A country that persecutes its Swartzes has, as the Old Testament prophets might have put it, turned its face from God.

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  11. nancy said on January 15, 2013 at 10:19 am

    I used to be embarrassed (to work for this newspaper), now I try to be amused…

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  12. Peter E said on January 15, 2013 at 10:23 am

    David C, do you really think you have to steal billions in order to get a tongue bath by Maria Bartiromo on CNBC? Because if that’s what it takes, I better step it up a notch.

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  13. coozledad said on January 15, 2013 at 10:42 am

    The worst aspect of the unfortunate anti-Agenda 21 crusade is that it will distract from our debates on power and its proper limits and make legitimate expressions of libertarian concern easy too dismiss as nut-job ravings.

    Let ’em laugh. Once Glen Beck builds Hard Currency Freedom Village Independence Park, we’ll see who the real psychos are.

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  14. brian stouder said on January 15, 2013 at 10:57 am

    From Nancy’s altogether marvelous link:

    Power accumulates, and it tends to concentrate at higher and higher levels. Local authority diminishes as state authority increases. State gives way to regional, which is subsumed by federal, which is vulnerable to global. And if the Vulcan Empire suddenly made an appearance, you can bet that global would give way to galactic and then to universal. That’s just the way it is with power.

    So, I was pondering all the pitfalls in that ridiculous paragraph, but the Vulcan thing got me laughing (more from nostalgia than derision), so I continued into THIS paragraph –

    And power comes not just from force but from influence. Ask yourself: Are those in charge of the current administration the sort who dislike American dominance and would actually prefer that the U.N. have more influence? Not a tough question, is it?

    And then my laughter was pretty much all derisive! What the hell is this guy talking about? Even leaving aside that the UN is our dog – and is a conduit for American power around the world – what is meant by the assertion that “power comes not just from force but from influence”? I say, that’s a pretty good argument for Equal Time on the public airwaves, so as to counter the profound small-mindedness of the Flying Monkeys of the Rightwing AM-radio Airwaves; and for campaign finance reform, the better to reign in the boatloads of corporate money that exerts so much influence…and indeed, lots of these powerful corporations are essentially ‘world citizens’ with world-wide agendas (and not American agendas) very much more so than the UN!

    But, now I’m making the mistake of taking this guy seriously, instead of dismissing him out of hand, as he slyly encourages his humble readers to do, at the end. (The typo wherein someone wanted to say “too easy” as opposed to “easy to” tells me that – yes, Virginia, you SHOULD dismiss this crap – but only after buying Goeglein’s book…or something)

    The worst aspect of the unfortunate anti-Agenda 21 crusade is that it will distract from our debates on power and its proper limits and make legitimate expressions of libertarian concern easy too dismiss as nut-job ravings

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  15. Bob (not Greene) said on January 15, 2013 at 11:03 am

    Hey, look at this press release I got today. Is this who I think this is, or just someone with the same name?

    “Five Grace Professors Complete Doctorate Degrees During Fall Semester
    WINONA LAKE, IN. –Last semester at Grace College demonstrated an extraordinary achievement for the college: five Grace professors received doctorate degrees during the fall 2012 semester. Jeff Gill, Roger Stichter, Deb Musser, Cheryl Bremer and Terry White all finished their degrees this fall while teaching for the college. …

    “Jeff Gill, dean of the School of Ministry Studies and professor of pastoral studies, began graduate work at Western Michigan University in the fall of 2005. He received a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership after seven years of balancing teaching and graduate work. “I am very thankful for the support of my wife, my entire family, and my colleagues at Grace,” he said. “I am most grateful to God for His sustaining grace through this journey.” “

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  16. coozledad said on January 15, 2013 at 11:12 am

    The right always fakes orgasms for local authority until it interferes with their desire for national authority.
    The right is in charge locally, here, and it’s about as fucked up as it gets. Working with the consent of our county commissioners, Synagro, a subsidiary of the Carlisle Group, contracts with our neighbor to spray liquified chemically treated human shit on his pastures where he raises beef cattle. I’m sure this practice is fairly widespread where you can get enough small time Republican crooks to ram through public waste ordinances favoring their fellow hick fucktards.
    I guess the inability to culture a new salmonella or e-coli that will survive both a thorough slaughterhouse bleach-bath and high cooking temperatures and kill a few dozen cheap ground beef consumers is “a legitimate libertarian concern”.

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  17. alex said on January 15, 2013 at 11:51 am

    Bob not Greene, our mild-mannered Jeff is actually in central Ohio. I’m sure if he’d been at Grace College he would have told us about it.

    So Leo Morris at the N-S is feeling a little defensive about his libertarianism, I see. He’d better watch it with those carefully worded remarks about fears of a U.N. takeover being overblown. That’s apostasy and his most devoted readers are going to grab him by his shriveled nuts before they even get to the good part about the Vulcans.

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  18. brian stouder said on January 15, 2013 at 11:54 am

    So, the damned guh-mint can’t keep its damned hands off of the damned dam!

    They act like they built the damned dam, when we all know that every damned thing worth any damned thing is thanks to our damned rugged individualists and entrepreneurs (the only French word worth a damn!).

    Hey Uncle Sam – You Didn’t Build That, dammit!

    the lead:

    LAS VEGAS (AP) — The federal agency operating Hoover Dam must correct 58 health and safety violations that investigators found in recent inspections at the massive Colorado River water retention and hydroelectric power plant east of Las Vegas.

    Inspectors for the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration found violations in July and October that included lead contamination, electrical hazards, inadequate personal protective equipment and machinery guards, and the possibility that electric plant workers could be exposed to cancer-causing hexavalent chromium, according to a statement released Monday by OSHA regional chief Ken Atha.

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  19. Catherine said on January 15, 2013 at 12:04 pm

    Any suicide is a tragedy. At the same time, I think it’s a trap for those around to think that they could have saved the person. You do all that you can while they are alive, and you don’t blame yourself for an action that, in the end, is theirs, not yours. I can’t presume to know what was in Swartz’s mind, and I don’t think it was the prosecutor’s responsibility to know and thus moderate her prosecution because he’s emotionally fragile. Certainly it makes sense for MIT as a community to do some soul searching, but playing the blame game with the survivors disregards the nature of suicide.

    And beb, saying that MIT bears responsibility for the theft by not securing its computers is like saying, “It’s your fault if someone breaks into your house because your door lock wasn’t robust enough.” There are plenty of cheating cheaters there (you don’t get a class full of valedictorians without a few who are willing to dumpster dive for the test answers, and I say that from direct personal experience). If they don’t pursue a legal case against one person for breaking into their computers (even if it was a “just” theft), how can they prosecute others who do it for personal gain?

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  20. Jolene said on January 15, 2013 at 12:19 pm

    I’m soooooooo tired of irrationality in public discourse. The latest is Sandy Hook “trutherism”. You probably heard the story of the retiree who briefly sheltered half a dozen kids after the shooting. Now he is receiving hate mail accusing him of participating in a conspiracy from people who believe the whole incident was some kind of hoax. There are various explanations as to what might have “really” happened, but one idea is that the shooting might have been carried out to provide a rationale for “taking our guns”.

    Then there are the people who are trying to call a halt to Obama’s second inauguration because, of course, he is not a real American.

    I know these people are, essentially, lunatics, but, really, I just don’t even want them in my world anymore.

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  21. Deggjr said on January 15, 2013 at 12:19 pm

    The N-S editorial is fantastic! “When out in public speak like a sane person would speak and here are some tips for those who never hear sane people speak.”

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  22. Jolene said on January 15, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    Saw a clip from tonight’s Frontline, which is called “Inside Obama’s Presidency” this AM. Looks like it will be worth checking out.

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  23. alex said on January 15, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    Drat. Once again, I come to find out it’s my state senator who’s making us the laughingstock of the nation.

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  24. Prospero said on January 15, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    I’m at a loss as to how MIT’s not protecting the scientific journals stolen by Aaron Swartz makes it somehow complicit in the theft, nor in his auto da fe. Some sort oof bizarre attractive nuisance argument? Kid Genius knew very well he was breaking the law. I find the guy’s open access arguments based upon the use of federal money to produce the scientific studies he stole (and he sure as hell stole them) ludicrous, as reductio ad absurdum could justify my lifting a 50cal from a federal armory. I sure as hell have paid for one over the years. The allegations that this has been pursued overzealously, makes me a bit misty-eyed, like the sad case of Bradley Cooper being incarcerated in military holding for deliberately committing treason. Defenders can make these guys and the loathesome stalker/rapist Julian Assange out to be philosophical descendents of Daniel Ellsberg all they want, but that doesn’t wash in light of the results of their relative actions and the seriousness of their targets.

    In the main, this seems to me to be part and parcel of the incomprehensible, indefatigable and irrational assault on the Obama administration from the left.

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  25. JWfromNJ said on January 15, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    Hey Propero,

    Making a third hangover movie is pushing a tired story but it’s hardly treason. You meant Bradley Manning, not Cooper.

    I think Bradley Manning is a hero and I’m sad that more of the press didn’t report the juicy details in the Wikileaks he shined light on- like my favorite gem, that the Pakistani intel folks fed U.S. troop movements to the Taliban. I’m sure that got our troops killed or maimed. If our government knew that – which wikileaks seems to indicate – they are the ones guilty of treason.

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  26. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 15, 2013 at 1:11 pm

    Not me, though I get e-mail intended for him on occasion. I suspect he’s much more pious and orthodox than I can manage even on a High Holy Day.

    Two experiences today that push me back towards the “marijuana is not good for children and other living things” end of the spectrum, although the weed trailers of today are indistinguishable from the rum-soaked slums of a Dickensian yesteryear. Watched a dad come out of a house, trot around briskly tending animals, smoke a cig while rehanging some lawn art, run back inside (for four complete laps of a steep set of concrete steps to the trailer), come out the last time with a “Desert Storm Veteran” hat and a four-footed cane and suddenly move with painstaking slowness down the same steps and across the driveway (I think his stepson let him know I was waiting to take him to the school). Turns out he’s despised in the trailer park as the guy who gives weed to all the kids and lets them smoke it there, and hands them a Lucky Strike before they go home TO KILL THE ODOR.

    Can’t lock him up, but maybe I can ensure his youngest son graduates from high school. Maybe. I don’t mean to sound judgmental, but I’m thinking when you’re the most despised person in a seedy trailer park (and they come in all levels of non-seediness, at least around here), you’re pretty low on the social spectrum.

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  27. Dorothy said on January 15, 2013 at 1:15 pm

    Not the same Jeff Gill, Bob (not Greene) – I Googled the fella from Grace College and since I have met OUR Jeff (tmmo), I can testify they are two different people. But how cool it is that two men with the same name are ministers!

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  28. paddyo' said on January 15, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    Jolene @ 21: When my sister posted that Salon piece on Facebook earlier today, I focused the full force of my own outrage on the Cincinnati Fox TV affiliate and its “reporter” (there is this link embedded in the Salon story) who gave undeserving voice to those beyond-irrational wingnuts by turning over the rock at the bottom of the sewage pond they inhabit.

    And speaking of wingnuts, the best thing about that embarrassing and bizarre Fort Wayne News-Sentinel editorial Nancy noted is that, more than 13 hours after it was posted online, there remain zero comments posted . . .
    Or, as we like to say, ” (crickets) “

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  29. paddyo' said on January 15, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    Oops, damned italics coding!

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  30. Joe Kobiela said on January 15, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    Its 82 and sunny here in the mouse house. Sunning by the pool. Guy could get use to this.
    Pilot Joe

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  31. Prospero said on January 15, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    I did indeed mean Manning, but I’m withholding judgement on the legality of a third hangover movie. It would certainly be a crime against art and humanity. I thought twice and intended to type Manning. Anntihistamines. I do think handing over classified government and military information to somebody as unbalanced and bizarre as Julian Assange is treason on its face, and there is a lot of evidence that B. Manning was indulging in attention seeking behavior. Perhaps, if he thought the information needed to go public, he could have done what Ellsberg did with the Pentagon Papers. Give it to the more or less responsible press, most of which would have a better idea and better motives for what the hell to do with it than a nutcase like Julian Assange. Is there evidence that the US government was aware of Pakistani perfidy and didn’t act on it, or is that typical triumphal Wikileaks inuendo? In the end, NYT published nearly 1/2 million documents in the Iraq and Afghanistan war logs.

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  32. alex said on January 15, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    Mild-mannered Jeff, your description of the trailer park weed guy sounds like he’s either a personal injury plaintiff or a disability claimant or both. His attorney probably told him he’d better not dare to venture outside without that getup because the insurance company that he’s trying to take to the cleaners probably has him under surveillance.

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  33. Sherri said on January 15, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    Prospero, I’m not sure there’s much of a responsible press left, in our corporate owned media world. Did you see this:

    Would corporate owned media publish the Pentagon Papers today? I doubt that Ellsberg would trust them to do so.

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  34. Dexter said on January 15, 2013 at 2:11 pm

    I can sort of understand the Reddit kid’s suicide, but what kind of fucking monster was this asshole?

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  35. Jolene said on January 15, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    Back to Swartz, as others have said, we can’t know everything that was going on w/ him, but I thought it noteworthy that, even though he acknowledged problems with depression over several years, I haven’t seen any reports of him getting help. Like Sherri, I’ve been at the bottom of that well, and it’s not an easy place to pull yourself out of. Lots of people have written about their online connections to him, but though many people had met him, few seemed to be really connected with him. Again, I’m reluctant to say much, but depression and isolation are so often what underlies suicide that it seems more weight should be given to those factors in this case.

    Even given his legal situation, he was many steps away from prison. There was still the possibility of a trial, a light sentence, an appeal–all of which might have seemed, to a nondepressed person, like reasons to hope and to fight but, to a depressed person, might have seemed like insurmountable hurdles.

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    • nancy said on January 15, 2013 at 2:21 pm

      The “30-year prison term” language that keeps getting thrown around does seem preposterous. Everyone forgets the “up to” part, and the chance that a judge would impose such a ridiculous sentence seems pretty remote. But as you say, if you’re already depressed, you’re not thinking clearly.

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  36. Jolene said on January 15, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    The NYT is catching up w/ us. They’re hosting a discussion on why people steal Tide.

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  37. mark said on January 15, 2013 at 2:33 pm

    The federal sentencing guidelines leave very little to the discretion of the judge in setting sentences. Many “ridiculous sentences” are imposed as a consequence. The mandatory minimum guidelines negate much of the “up to” wiggle room found in state courts.

    Ask Martha Stewart. Her sentence was about as lenient as the Guidelines would permit.

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  38. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 15, 2013 at 2:34 pm

    Disability, Alex; he was talking about his latest app on the way to school. I am willing to be mildly sympathetic, because totally legit claims often take three or four tries (lose an arm and the hand on the other, and take three tries to get 50% disability is one I’ve seen), but this guy is only as disabled as the weed affects his motor neurons.

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  39. Charlotte said on January 15, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    Hello Detroiters — big article in Yes magazine about the new urban “farm” —

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  40. nancy said on January 15, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    Mark, good point about mandatory minimums. I guess the only reason to be a judge now is the hours and paid holidays.

    The story Charlotte posted brings up something that has maddened me about that specific case — “world’s largest urban farm,” that is. The facts are pretty simple: A wealthy man wants to buy up a bunch of city lots that are currently lying fallow, collecting trash, paying nothing, and plant hardwoods on them. For the bargain price of about $1,500 each, he is committing to mowing them, keeping them nice, tending his trees and otherwise holding them in responsible ownership for however long he likes. Then,

    “Trees are not going to increase taxable revenue,” Crouch explained. What they will do instead, he said, is “create scarcity” in the city’s real estate market, raising the value of nearby houses and eventually raising the value of the land on which the trees are growing.

    That means Hantz Farms might eventually make a great deal of money selling off the land it’s now buying cheaply—a prospect that angers many community members.

    These sorts of comments make me wonder if some people have simply lost their grip on reality. Trust me, there is no scarcity in the city’s real-estate market, and if it boosts the value of nearby houses by replacing tire dumps with trees, I believe the owners would happily kiss his feet. And then, OMG, he might make money off his investment. The horror, the horror.

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  41. MaryRC said on January 15, 2013 at 3:39 pm

    Re that urban farm article, there’s something unappetizing to me about the idea of growing vegetables on a city block … exposed to exhaust fumes, rats and feral cats, plus who knows what is in the soil? I can see the point of growing something green instead of leaving the lot abandoned, but I wouldn’t want to eat it.

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  42. beb said on January 15, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    The only way to get people to live in Detroit would be to offer them land as an alternative to a Hatiain Refugee camp.

    The point about the JSTOR server not being secured is to point out that what Schwartz did wasn’t some criminal attack on the computer. He didn’t break their security. Schwartz just went in to an open computer and made requests for downloads. There may have been a limit on downloads which he worked around but this wasn’t a cybercrime. Maybe a theft of copyrighted material but nothing serious. And the impression I got is that the prosecutor wasn’t interested in plea bargaining.

    From an earlier Freep article Hantz Farms is buying 140 acres from a city with 89,000 acres. At this point it’s little more than a demonstration project.

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  43. Prospero said on January 15, 2013 at 3:57 pm

    Sherri@33. Perhaps you’re correct. On the other hand, trusting a certifiable weirdo like Assange shows a deplorable lack of judgement. I’d trust Julian A. to act responsibly about as far as I could throw Newt and Callista. And the NYT published nearly 500,000 docs in the Afghanistan and Iraq War Logs, only, when they did Assange got paid with enough loot to run from the people trying to prosecute him for stalking and rape. The established newspaper I’d choose to trust is the Boston Globe. But at WaPo, I’d trust AJ Dionne or Eugene Robinson, Joel Achenbach, and probably Anne Applebaum. Trust Assange’s motives? NFW. Creepy mofo.

    “Trees are not going to increase taxable revenue,” Crouch explained. What they will do instead, he said, is “create scarcity” in the city’s real estate market, raising the value of nearby houses and eventually raising the value of the land on which the trees are growing.

    That certainly sounds like enhancing the property tax base and increasing tax revenue to me, and a pretty fracking imaginative and productive way to do so. What am I missing? Seems to me the problem arises when politicians agree to let too many people make too much money when the only revenue increases go into their campaign treasuries, like Goodhair Perry and his Podner’s radioactive waste dump:×67189

    The tree situation in Detroit reminds me of ours on HHI. We live at the end of a road on a part of the island that still looks a lot like it did in 1968, when I first saw it. For years, commercial growth was metastasizing in our direction from the main drag US 278. Shortly before the RE bubble popped, developers bought a few hundred acres near our property and improved it immensely with roads, many of them expensive stone and brick paving, extensive landscaping and clearing of undergrowth. This is undoubtedly a long-term boon to our property values and it precludes extension of the Light industry commercial use by a wide buffer. It undoubtedly provides higher revenue to the county than what the land was bringing befor the development. Meanwhile, throughout the RE doldrums, all of that property has been maintained beautifully. Coupled with a beautiful residents only park built by the Townacross the street, our abutters are that parkland, two subdivision developments that look like city parks, and the beach on Port Royal Sound. I don’t know anything about the particulars of how that real estate deal was accomplished, but I’m sure glad it got done. And by their behavior, the developers appear to be sticking it out until the time is right to bulid a bunch of nice houses. That will raise revenues for the county immensely.

    Her’s a listing for a condo at our place. The listing price is great news here, shows regaining value at a pretty good rate over the last year. I paid less than 2/3 that price when I bought our place. The photo shows our BIG pool, although we usually use the smaller more secluded pool down near the beach.

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  44. nancy said on January 15, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    The main concern with urban farms around here is the soil, and that can be corrected with supplementation, humus, etc. As far as rats and feral cats, car exhaust and the like, I’d imagine the first two would be a factor anywhere. Car exhaust, not so much, at least in many, many neighborhoods in Detroit, which are virtually abandoned and get little traffic. Trust me on this: I’ve seen a lot of these operations, and they grow some of the prettiest organic produce you’ve seen.

    I was told by a Detroit city official that there’s one operation in the city limits that is farming 200 contiguous acres, not all in a square, but connected, and they’re doing it entirely off the permit/approval grid. The official said he’d never tell me where it is, but it’s entirely OK with him, because they’re putting vacant land to good use, feeding their neighbors, etc. I’ve been driving/biking streets in North Corktown and other neighborhoods and seen goats and chickens in backyard pens. One guy told a friend of mine he raised two pigs on a city lot near his business last year. Urban farms sound insane until you get deep into these neighborhoods and actually see some of them. I was trying to find a 12-step meeting summer before last, driving down this shitty street on the east side, block after block of ghetto, and then suddenly there’s an orchard, and a huge greenhouse, all run by the Capuchin monks for their soup-kitchen ministry.

    The problem is, people think “farm” and picture a typical Ohio/Indiana mono crop operation of acre upon acre of corn or soybeans. Instead, think something more like the 19th century, or even the 18th — big gardens, truck patches, labor-intensive, etc.

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  45. Charlotte said on January 15, 2013 at 4:29 pm

    Thanks Nancy — I thought there was something off about that article. My hunch is that for the next couple of decades, the real opportunities for people who want to do small diversified farming are going to be in cities and suburbs — it’s the only place someone can find cheap land.

    For another charming glimpse of urban farming – check out this video of rooftop farmers in Hong Kong and Beijing (I love the Hong Kong guy, he’s so joyful). I lived one winter on a rooftop in Taiwan, and have fond memories of my wee hut on the roof.

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  46. MaryRC said on January 15, 2013 at 4:31 pm

    Thanks for the update on urban farms, Nancy. Imagine accidentally coming across that 200 acres of garden some day the way you came across the Capuchin monks’ orchard … so cool.

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  47. Bitter Scribe said on January 15, 2013 at 4:40 pm

    And the NYT published nearly 500,000 docs in the Afghanistan and Iraq War Logs, only, when they did Assange got paid with enough loot to run from the people trying to prosecute him for stalking and rape.

    That’s a pretty breezy accusation even for you, Pros. Got any evidence?

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  48. jcburns said on January 15, 2013 at 5:25 pm

    Mmm…hummus and feral cats. Great with yogurt dressing.

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  49. del said on January 15, 2013 at 5:43 pm

    In a thread that includes references to humus and hummus, feral cats, yogurt, mandatory sentencing guidelines and a tongue bath by Maria Bartiromo, in no particular order, why not this?|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

    The decedent was found one mile from my home in his mentally ill son’s full sized freezer. Potential sentence for this misguided disinterment, 10 years.

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  50. Prospero said on January 15, 2013 at 5:44 pm

    Scribe@47: Assange wasn’t charged with rape and stalking? Or NYT didn’t publish all those documents?

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  51. MichaelG said on January 15, 2013 at 5:52 pm

    You see gardens in vacant lots all around here in Sacto. I wouldn’t call them farms, just neighborhood gardens. Since houses used to exist on the properties, there is a fair bit of cleaning involved before you can plant but some people are growing some pretty nice produce.

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  52. Prospero said on January 15, 2013 at 5:54 pm

    Assange is certainly charged with rape and and the victim says he stalked her. And he and his followers are claiming it’s an assault on free speech.

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  53. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 15, 2013 at 6:03 pm

    1858 version of a smallholder, pleasant to view, hard to live (and popular to buy for homes in the growing cities where nostalgia for this life was still strong as a longing more than as a decorating fetish):

    There’s enough detail in the full-size pic to let you look at all the elements that I think Nancy is alluding to. And in modern farming just a county away from a large urban area, rats are just considered undersized possums and shot with the same .22 (or .223, depending on what the farmer carries up in the cab of the harvester).

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  54. Prospero said on January 15, 2013 at 6:40 pm

    Aaron Swartz’s lawyer has reported that prosecutors offered a plea deal in which Swartz would do four months in prison with Swartz pleading guilty to 13 felonies.

    One thing about civil disobedience that has always made it heroic to me is the leading practitioners’, Ghandi’s, Thoreau’s, ML King’s, conviction in paying the piper to seal the deal of their commitment to higher principle. When Emerson found his friend Thoreau in jail, he said “My God, Henry what are you doing in there?” Thoreau’s riposte was “The question, Ralph, is what are you doing out there?”If four months incarceration was going to drive Swartz to suicide, he should have thought this whole thing out better.

    Jeff: Very nice. That’s my new desktop.

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  55. basset said on January 15, 2013 at 8:30 pm

    And on a totally different topic, how about some more on that gated… hell, bermed and fenced… community that we were talking about a few weeks back:

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  56. Sherri said on January 15, 2013 at 9:05 pm

    And while we’re talking about the “responsible” press, let’s not leave out how The Atlantic covered itself in glory yesterday:

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  57. Linda said on January 15, 2013 at 10:47 pm

    Nancy: part of the issue of urban farms is the soil–including contamination. Here in Toledo, the urban horticulture nonprofit Toledo Grows has an agreement with a university in Kansas to grow food crops in factory-contaminated “brownfields” in Toledo, then ships the crops, plants and soil off to Kansas for testing, to see how much the contaminants are absorbed. I know a guy in Toledo Grows who harveseted them this year. He said all the stuff looked so tasty, but he wasn’t tempted to eat a bite.

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  58. Dexter said on January 16, 2013 at 12:34 am

    Today’s Google Doodle celebrates the life of the late Frank Zamboni, who invented the ice-resurfacing machine in 1949.
    Oddly, the City of Flint has a Zamboni for sale at a city auction or sale this week.

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  59. Bitter Scribe said on January 16, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    Prospero: You said, or implied, that the NYT paid Assange for the docs. Proof?

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