Monthly Archives: July 2006

I was listening to NPR the other day and they were talking about Pellican Bay, one of the toughest prisons in the country. Inmates there can literally go weeks without seeing another living person. One person interviewed said that he had not seen a woman in fourteen years. One in ten inmates will end up in the psychiatric shoe of the building.

Pellican Bay is reserved for the worst offenders. It does not, however, delineate based on what offense landed them in prison. Rather it is there for the most uncontrollable cases inside prison, meaning that you could get caught selling pot, run in with some bad folks in jail, and end up in relatively permanent isolation.

I understand why these prisons exist and the function they serve. There are a lot of folks that you have to separate from everyone else. And unlike regular prison, it’s nigh impossible to land there by the mistake of a false conviction. It costs the state $50,000 per year to house them there, it’s not a decision they are likely to make easily.

What bothers me most about the set-up is that, because it is not related to whatever crime landed the inmates in prison to begin with, it is not reserved for those with life sentences and the people that end up in these prisons in many cases will rejoin with society. People who spent five years without even irregular human contact will be joining those on the outside whenever their time is up. One of the people they interviewed was due to be released in a couple of years.

I’m not sure I can think of a better way to train a sociopath. I mean, I guess theoretically it would serve as a deterrant because they wouldn’t go back (assuming that marbles weren’t lost in the process), but even with that logic they can commit crimes and not go back to Pellican Bay. All they would have to do is behave wherever they originally land, which after having served in Pellican Bay, is bound to be a cakewalk.

Category: Courthouse

Logtar has a post on whether it is education or experience that matters more in the IT world and comes down somewhat on the side of experience. More people than not in the comment section agree.

Functionally, I have to agree with the consensus. The eighteen months of experience I racked up while in college proved almost as useful as my college degree. When I left Wildcat (my first post-collegiate job), my three years of experience was probably worth more than my degree when it came to getting a job. Even now, with five years of experience under my belt, I suspect that I would be better positioned had I spent the late nineties in the workforce rather than in college.

As far as whether or not that should be the case, I’m not so sure. When it comes to doing a particular job, such as network administration, experience does count more than education. In the broader scope of things, however, I find that my college degree has helped me as much as my work experience. Part of that is that I have become a “utility infielder” of sorts and am not very specialized. I have a couple of years of XML programming experience, a couple of years of SQL database experience, a couple years as a network admin, and a couple of years as a network technician. So my experience hasn’t carried over as well from one job to the next.

However, I find that having a college degree is ideal for working a more general position at a smallish or medium-size company. Small companies are always changing, as are job-responsibilities. It’s less about “doing a job” and more about “helping the company.” You don’t just have a series of responsibilities, you try to find new ways to contribute. It was college, much more than the work-world, that gave me the versitility to excel in these kinds of environments. And these are the environments that, despite my constant complaints about the chaos, I much prefer over the corporate alternative.

On the other hand, this versitility wouldn’t mean much of anything at a larger corporation until it was time to move into a more management position, by which time there is a good chance I would have forgotton most of what I learned by being in the narrows for several years.

Category: Office, School

Hit Coffee has been hit with a flurry of comment spammers lately and unfortunately action must be taken. I’ve looked through the options for WordPress and found what I believed to be the least intrustive, most effective way to cut back on bot-comments. Hereforth, to post a comment you will have to answer a very easy math problem.

Category: Server Room

I try to steer clear of political issues on this site. I don’t consider this a political issue, so I would appreciate some restraint when it comes to approaching this from a “liberal” or “conservative” standpoint. It’s general thoughts on our country, race relations, and more generally the ability to change the way that things have been for generations.

Over the weekend leading up to July 4th, I took a brief trip back home to burn off some vacation time.

As odd as it sounds, one of the strangest things about my return from the south is black people. Deseret is not bereft of minorities generally or blacks in particular, but most minorities are either Hispanic or tribal and that is not as much the case down here.

Blacks are America’s most peculiar minority, which I guess makes sense because it is a legacy of the famous “peculiar institution” that brought them here. An overwhelming majority of blacks have been in the US for generations and those that are immigrants are vastly different from those that have been around. Unlike most immigrant groups in our history ranging from the Italians and Irish of yesteryear to the Mexicans and Asians of more recent, their upward mobility is, for a handful of reasons from all fronts, limited.

I liken it to two people that have known too much animosity for too long for things to ever truly be comfortable. There is a lot of talk from both outside and inside the black community that their current position is a result of their poor personal decisions and there is much truth to that. There is also a lot of talk from both inside and outside the black community about the persistent raw deal that they’ve gotten for at least 3/4 of their time here and it’s difficult to “start again” at a place that you’ve been.

I’ve read somewhere that one of the reasons that America is so optomistic is because it is young. Our history is bloody and brutish, but not on the broad scope of that of our more dour European contemporaries because we have not been around as long. Our concept of citizenship is not determined by bloodlines or geographic boundaries. Your citizenship is almost* the same whether you are born here or if you come somewhere else. As such, we have taken and assimilated different cultures better than most. Our immigrant pockets start disappearing after a couple of generations, while it looks like some of Europe’s may never do so.

Except, of course, the blacks and the tribes. Both are caught in a destructive cycle that people in all circles see but no one knows what can be done on a cultural level. I’m not sure there are any policy perscriptions that can do this for us. Nor am I sure that leaving it all up to individual choice — when social pressures so consistently run in the wrong direction — is a viable option, either.

Sometimes a relationship has worn on for so long that the more people try to “fix” it, the more tangled everything becomes. The welfare programs that were intended to help them all in the Great Society arguably did more harm than good. Whites telling blacks what the problems with black people are (their work ethic, their music, their language, etc) is also most unhelpful.

I have friendships that have turned like that, as well. We reached a point where no matter how much one of us tried to “repair” things, it only seemed to make things worse. Then, out of frustration, both stop trying. But when two people have to live together, it adds to stress rather than alleviates it.

I hope that America turns out better than those former friendships did.

(*- The exception being that immigrants cannot run for president. All the talk of flag-burning amendments aside, I figure this one is more likely than any other to become a Constitutional amendment.)

Category: Coffeehouse

I got an email from my father yesterday, reminding me of about $1,500 I have stashed away at a bank back home in Colosse. Apparently, my folks got a letter from the state informing them that it was about to confiscate my funds for inactivitity. There is apparently some law on the books that any bank account that has not been touched in two years (money put in or taken out) must be turned in to the state. I suppose that the holder is presumed dead or something.

That’s actually kind of inconvenient, though, because I have rather enjoyed keeping that money out of my mind. It has been my last resort money if all other accounts have been exhausted. It’s the one bank account that never got put in the pot when I got married. Not because I was hiding it from her, but because I was hiding it from myself.

I wasn’t actually aware of this particular law until now, so I suppose I’m going to have to change my gameplan.

Category: Downtown