Thursday, August 01, 2002

Prison rape

I'm not a journalist, and I'm about to present proof in case there was any doubt. But it so happens that I'm from a small town that happens to house a maximum security prison and a hospital, and I know any number of people who have or do work there, as nurses, guards and others.

After Spoons' post noted below, I got morbidly curious because I didn't recall ever hearing anything about prison rape from the local prison. This could be because it was unheard of, or because it was so commonplace that it wasn't remarkable. I thought I'd find out.

Have you ever cold-called someone and asked them about prison rape? That poor woman is probably still creeped out. You see, I called the local hospital and asked if they ever got inmates delivered there for uh, reconstructive surgery after such an event (I had heard that they had). The woman at the emergency room stood up well under the coyly phrased questions and noted that they didn't see much if any of that or other prison-related injury. She also noted that the prison had its own health facilities. She was amazingly game, but she clearly wanted off the phone, and it was an emergency room after all. Remind me to work on my interviewing.

Next stop - call some people I knew from town about the topic, whether for scuttlebutt or direct news. Nobody recalled ever hearing anything about such events, in a town with plenty of prison guards who hang out in local bars. Hmm, interesting.

Next - call a person who I know very well, who had worked in nursing at the prison, who no longer works there, and who has no reason to shade the truth. How often was prison rape seen? She didn't recall any that required the attention of her staff, over a three year period. She noted that prison sex was against the rules, so there was an incentive to cry rape. And over her tenure, they had only seen two instances of medical conditions that implied inmate-inmate sex of any kind.

OTOH inmates were ingenious at getting it on with visitors. Wearing big coats provided cover for someone else within. They could gather around picnic tables as a screen while taking turns screwing beneath. I've heard that woman prisoners have managed to get pregnant while serving time, and not by the guards either, but I can't find a link as this is written.

Caveats about the above: obviously it's anecdotal. The prison in question is maximum security, so inmates are more constrained in their movements than they are at other facilities. And different states do things differently. But we have to start somewhere, and you're getting every bit of what you pay for.

Here is what Human Rights Watch has to say. The short answer is that they don't know, and attempts to answer are all over the map. Extrapolations are treacherous because practices vary from state to state.

And HRW is biased, as evidence by this: "Unsurprisingly, when corrections officials are asked about the prevalence of rape in their prisons, they claim it is a exceptional occurrence rather than a systemic problem." Why is this unsurprising? Obviously they presume that corrections officials would lie about this. Certainly they might, but then so might the prisoners and advocates who provide the more spectacular numbers.

My personal conclusion is that activists are magnifying a problem, as usual. Prisoners and lawyers are always looking for grounds for lawsuits. And I don't hear the activists proposing sanctions against the prisoners who are doing this - it's always the prison that needs to change.

Not bad for a Steeler fan

Let's get rid of some federal bureaucrats - John Cole can discern unemployment levels all by himself.

Wednesday, July 31, 2002

Electric car-b-q

Greg Hlatky has the story


To help Hillary answer the question of where the corporate corruption came from truthfully, I submit the following minimum competency test:
1. Who was in the White House when Enron and Citigroup, with the help of former Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, were concealing billions in bad debt from investors, the public and the government?

2. Who was in the White House when Adelphia and Global Crossing were making insiders like DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe rich, and concealed the bad debt from investors, the public and the government?

3. Who was in the White House when the stock market began to tank, reducing all those 401-K accounts?
It goes on for 14 more.

He just won't go away

If Bill Clinton won't go away, then he still deserves a good cussing. And this should continue until his last defender curls up and dies of shame. The only question is where to start.

Now suppose you're in the White House surrounded at every turn. Your finances are subjected to downright proctological examination. You're living high at govt expense, so you really don't need to spend any of your own money anyway. You're known as an enthusiastic drug user who would screw a snake in a sandstorm, and you're married to a woman who couldn't get laid on Death Row with a pardon in each hand. You can and will reduce White House security and background checking as needed to let in anyone you want. Under these circumstances, what would be the best things for influence peddlers to offer you?

Sex and drugs of course. There's no audit trail except possibly in your medical records, and you don't have to release those. It doesn't take long to use the drugs, so you're not likely to be caught in the act, and who's going to give you a drug test? You can always claim that the sex was other than commercial, and you're not pro-choice for nothing. And with a quick BJ you don't even have to hang up the phone. "Sorry Yassir, the Jews lined me up with this chubby chick, but you can have this cigar".

It's not as if using sex and drugs for bribery is unprecedented. And don't forget extortion too, whether in cash or espionage. Good grief, the guy had the entire federal investigation apparatus at his command, and he wasn't squeamish about using it - if he just couldn't contain himself, couldn't he have shown a bit of discretion and at least screen them a little?

Tuesday, July 30, 2002

He must have had a bad day.

First read this. Then read this. Are we talking about the same article?

I'm not in favor of rape, in prison or elsewhere. But PJ's article didn't even mention sex, much less rape.

And my bet is that anybody raped in a prison is guilty of worse than writing a column somebody doesn't like.

Raise consciousness about prison rape if you want. But this is far over the top. What now, is he going to wish anal rape on me too?

For all your evil needs

If Andrea Harris is intent on world domination, this must be where she shops. From TOVBlog

The Ames test, toxicity and you

Derek Lowe is always terrific, but now he has a couple of posts on the Ames test too.

As DL puts it, the Ames test is used "as a measure of carcinogenicity and other Bad Things". He goes on to discuss details and the interpretation of the results, and the unnatural distinction some would have us make between "natural" and "unnatural" compounds.

Monday, July 29, 2002

Something else you need

How about a Shoulder Saddle? It's just the thing for carrying little kids on your shoulders. This page shows the Shoulder Saddle and a bunch of other goofy inventions.

I could have used one once. Back in high school some relatives were small and I would give them and their friends rides on my shoulders. Unfortunately one of the kids had ringworm on the inside of her thigh, and it rubbed on my neck. Someone asked me how I got ringworm on my neck and I innocently told them. I have some warped friends.

Get rich quick

They're offering distributorships for Bumper Dumpers

Horsepower, or is there work after death?

There's no point in beating a dead horse, but that doesn't mean you can't get any more work out of him.

In animated cartoons, the way to make a horse run faster was always to give him a whiff of some glue. I learned that as a little kid, but I didn't know what it meant. And if I didn't know right now, that would be alright too, because it's not the most pleasant topic. Yes, I'm talking about rendering plants, where dead animals and other waste get recycled into glue, gelatin, food supplements, pet food, bone meal, cosmetics and others.

This tells more about them and their processes than you might care to know, including the possible connection with mad-cow disease.

So why do I bring this up? Actually I was looking for waste-to-energy information, and I figured that rendering plants might be good candidates for this. They use a fair amount of energy to cook their ingredients, and their byproducts would include fats that could be turned into biofuels. These can be used to drive a diesel generator, which can provide power to run pumps, conveyors and lighting loads.

But we're not through yet. The engine heat can be used to preheat the water used for processing, and the exhaust heat might be usable too if only for a turbocharger. Using the energy in this way is called cogeneration, and by using it your energy input will give you more output horsepower.

If you want to do it you'll have to pony up some money though - this increases capital costs significantly. The heating and electrical power output of the diesels might not match the requirements of the rest of your process, and you might need special auxiliaries either for startup or for backup. Personnel will need more training, maintenance people will have to learn new tricks and the viability of the whole works depends strongly on the cost of alternatives like electric power and diesel fuel.

But you don't know until you analyze it. Given that a successful implementation could lower costs substantially, it might be that anyone using a cogen system in this application considers it a trade secret and won't talk about it.

Sunday, July 28, 2002

The Anna Nicole Smith Show!

How'd you like to be first on your block to get a personal message from Anna Nicole Smith?

Go see E! Television next Sunday for the premiere of her show.

They promise no educational value, but you probably already suspected that. Unless, as the teasers showed us, you've never seen a small dog humping a teddy bear.

What, you haven't heard of Anna Nicole Smith?