the longest password ever


During a recent IT audit by her employer, it was found that Cherie was using the following password:


When asked why she had such a long password. she rolled her eyes and said, “Hello! It has to be at least 8 characters and include at least one capital.”



Groove of the Day

Listen to Aqua performing “Barbie Girl”


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When a Sibling Goes to Prison

Thousands of young people are sent to prison every day, leaving behind scores of brothers and sisters researchers know very little about.

by Juleyka Lantigua-Williams, The Atlantic

November 14, 2016

Over 5 million kids in the United States currently have or have had a parent in prison. That works out to about one in 14 American children—a majority of whom are under age 10. Broken down by state, children with incarcerated parents can represent 3 to 13 percent of the population, according to “A Shared Sentence,” a report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The unusually intense stress that these children face has been well documented and studied. That’s mostly due to researchers’ emphasis on the parent-child relationship when analyzing incarcerated populations—and how little support is available for those left-behind children who are forced to stand by as their primary role models, caregivers, and providers are put behind bars.

But incarceration also affects a separate number of children who have been isolated from another profound relationship: They are the children with siblings in jail or prison—and much less is known about them. It isn’t even clear how many of them there are.

One recent U.S.-based analysis of grief and coping among “non-offending siblings,” as the literature often refers to them, brands them as the “most often overlooked” family members of adjudicated youth. The study’s author, sociologist Katie Heaton, detailed the levels of daily “emotional stress” siblings may experience, including “bullying by other students who discovered their sibling’s imprisonment, adjusting to new household roles and routines, complex feelings of ambivalence related to their sibling’s safety, visiting their brother or sister, and having their sibling return home after an extended period away.”

Heaton concluded that non-offending siblings suffer from “disenfranchised grief”: “Disenfranchised grief is a particularly difficult form of loss to overcome because the majority of cases involving this form of grief are the consequences of personal decisions of behaviors made. Such loss often creates a sense of shame or guilt within the individual or that person’s family, making it difficult to openly mourn, discuss, or cope with the actions that have created the loss.”

Given the depth of these effects, why have the US institutions that usually analyze the trends and impacts of the criminal-justice system paid so little attention to siblings as an analytical subject?

“I honestly don’t know that we have an answer to that question,” says Janet Lauritsen, a professor of criminology at the University of Missouri-St. Louis who has studied the issue. “The siblings don’t get much attention even in the offending literature.” She explained that when data is collected, it tends to focus strictly on the adjudicated individual, not on the family. And even when researchers do conduct qualitative work, they lean heavily toward family dynamics that are based on parent-child relationships and usually don’t interview siblings. Lauritsen says, it’s due to a “lack of careful thought about how siblings might contribute or feel the pain of their siblings’ incarceration.” The dearth of information may also be due to limited resources. Data-collection would require more money, more time, and larger teams in order to gather enough information on multiple generations in families to then be able to isolate the impact incarceration had just on siblings.

However, Lauritsen points out that since she undertook her initial research years ago, the makeup of the typical family may have changed significantly enough that searching for causal or correlative relationships might prove even more challenging today. “I’m not completely certain that there would still be as strong a sibling effect as there was 30 years ago,” she explains. “I say that because the family size has declined over time, and the complexity of sibling and stepsibling relationships has increased over time.”

In the 1970s, Lauritsen says, the family model that was assumed for research purposes meant a household with three children who grew up together. They even used that model if there was a divorce. “It’s a lot easier to study [siblings’] effects on each other when they’re always together, not separated through new family configurations, new marriages, and divorces,” Lauritsen says. Easier to study, but not reality: The average number of children per family has decreased, so there simply aren’t as many options for studying the effects of one sibling’s incarceration on the other. Additionally, today more American families—23%—have just one child than at any other point in US history.

Brothers Behind Bars

Studies in the United Kingdom have attempted to put the focus on “this largely invisible population in the criminal justice system.” One analysis concluded that 80% of existing research on prisoners’ families “have never asked about how [brothers and sisters] are coping following their sibling’s imprisonment.” The study made two other significant conclusions regarding siblings of the incarcerated: They are at an increased risk of becoming offenders themselves (especially brothers), and they are at risk for considerably more physical and mental-health problems, like becoming withdrawn, displaying anger, and having low self-esteem.

Another British study by the sociologist Rosie Meek found, “Sibling imprisonment had affected the school, social and family life of the participants … and many were preoccupied with worrying about the well-being of their older brother, both in prison and after release from custody.” What’s more, “older sibling offending was related to younger sibling offending in both brothers and sisters.”

That kind of sibling-to-sibling impact is serious. According to the National Center for Juvenile Justice and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s report “Juvenile Offenders and Victims,” 1.6 million kids under the age of 18 were arrested in 2010, including those young people who were involved in 800, or 8%, of that year’s murders. Half of the youth offenders were taken into custody for simple assault, drug-abuse violations, larceny-theft, and disorderly conduct. Another large portion of kids were arrested for violating liquor laws, breaking curfew, loitering, vandalism, and simple assault. Whatever their crimes, all of them have one thing in common: They all left families behind—and many times, that included the impressionable siblings who just lost a little brother or big sister to prison.

The good news is that those figures also represent the lowest youth crime rates in American history. From 2005 to 2014, youth arrests dropped by a staggering 51 percent, compared with just a 14 percent decrease for adults. Similarly, between 1997 and 2013, there was a 48 percent drop in the number of young people placed in corrections facilities, according to the Campaign for Youth Justice. Still, when 1.6 million kids are getting arrested each year, there could be another million siblings watching. What lessons will they absorb?


The British advocacy groups Connexions and Action for Prisoners’ Families provide a guidebook, Supporting Young People With a Prisoner in the Family, for social workers and others who work with kids impacted by the incarceration of a relative. The book notes that there is no typical reaction. Some children put the incarcerated sibling’s needs before their own or take on more responsibilities within the family, which can “put them under considerable emotional strain and pressure.” Other children become “angry towards the prisoner for disrupting their lives and causing hurt to their families.” Some children find themselves spiraling into unknown territory—frightened by prison visits, guilt-ridden, or bullied. Some feel relief if the sibling was abusive.

Worse, some feel newly vulnerable—perhaps losing a protector when their sibling went away. According to a Center for the Study of Social Policy report, “Fight for Our Girls,” the US Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention found that “among those involved in the juvenile justice system, girls’ rate of sexual abuse is four times higher than boys’, and their rate of complex trauma (five or more adverse childhood experiences) is almost twice as high.” At those rates, every time a troubled girl is sentenced, many non-offending siblings are being left behind in an unsafe situation.

Having a sibling in jail or prison can also have severe financial consequences for a family. As it is, children who come from impoverished families are over-represented in the juvenile-justice system. The Annie E. Casey Foundation estimates that “65% of families with a member in prison or jail could not meet basic needs.” That can be an especially harsh reality for a non-offending brother or sister who sees limited resources being diverted away from their needs and toward the child in custody.

The Juvenile Law Center analyzed juvenile-justice statutes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia to understand the network of legal financial obligations encountered by youth and families going through the system. The center also conducted a national survey of families, lawyers, other professionals in the field, and adults who experienced the system as young people. Some of the fees they encountered include: costs for evaluating and testing the young person; child support paid to the state (called “cost of care”); health-care, mental-health care, and medication costs; GPS-monitoring costs; public-defender fees; and court expenses like transportation, prosecution, witness fees, and general-operations costs. In some states, even a family who has been declared indigent is responsible for these bills. Also, many of the costs are nonrefundable, even if the young person is found not responsible for any crimes. Unsurprisingly, the Juvenile Law Center concluded that such costs are “burdensome,” “overwhelming,” “harmful,” and can “exacerbate the family’s economic distress” and push a young person further into the system.

To illustrate the point, the report includes a brief example from Alameda County, California, where the average juvenile-justice case will cost a family $2,000. “For a single-parent family making federal minimum wage, even the average payment constitutes approximately two months’ salary,” the report states. “Even seemingly minimal payments may require families to choose between buying basic necessities, such as groceries, and paying fees.” Add to this perfect storm of financial trouble the fact that children 10 to 14 years old who have an incarcerated member of the family are also at a 41% higher risk of having their first child before marriage, a Princeton University study concluded. (This revelation is particularly notable at a time when teen-pregnancy rates have plummeted.) For many non-offending siblings, life can quickly feel hopeless.


Sometimes siblings are asked to play a role in the implicated young person’s court proceedings. “A sibling, for example, could be an eyewitness to whatever the issue is,” says attorney Tim Curry, director of training and technical assistance at the National Juvenile Defender Center, which focuses on defending youth in juvenile court, where children are prosecuted as children and not as adults. “If the sibling has positive things to say towards the defense, they might be a defense witness. If the state believes that the sibling has information against their own sibling, they could force them to testify as a state’s witness against their own sibling.” The Center deals primarily with status offenses, which are not considered crimes and which include truancy, curfew violations, underage drinking, smoking, and running away.

Not only do prosecutors have every right under state laws to subpoena a sibling and force him or her to testify against their own brother or sister; the parents have no say in whether or not they will allow the minor to testify. There’s no sibling equivalent for the parent-child privilege that some states have, which protects a parent from testifying against their own child. A child does have the same Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination that any other person would have in those circumstances—but does a child always understand that or have adequate counsel to explain it to them?

In some cases, even if a child does not have materially significant information, she may be drawn into a confounding legal web. “Kids are subpoenaed by the prosecution because they really are on a fishing expedition,” Curry says. “They want to know what’s going on, so they subpoena the kids in and bring them into the office, and say, ‘Well, if you talk to us before you go to court, we might be able to get this to go away.’ Kids go in without lawyers. They answer all these kinds of questions, and then whatever happens happens.” Though prosecutors may simply be gathering evidence against the target child, for “a sibling, that could be traumatic,” says Curry. “The state has every right to subpoena whoever they want. They could technically subpoena anybody at any age.” Sometimes the non-offending sibling could even end up divulging incriminating information and being prosecuted, too.

The defense team may also involve a sibling, either as a fact witness to testify about what happened to exonerate her brother or sister or to serve as a character witness to try to mitigate the prosecution’s case. “Character witnesses are really hard because they get super cross-examined by the prosecutor,” Curry says. “I personally, for example, would be hesitant to put a child character witness up there, just because I think it’s harder for them to withstand cross-examination.”

But even if not required to do something as extreme as take the stand in court, siblings often play key roles in the investigations that help lawyers prepare for trial. Curry says that nine times out of 10, he asks siblings for information that would benefit the defense. “Investigation is one of the hardest things for the defense,” Curry says. “You got an entire police force that’s out talking to people that can investigate the state’s case. We have to figure out who will talk to us and who might know information, and family is often the first place we start.”


The immediate and long-term impacts of the fragmented families, especially siblings, who are left behind when a young person is incarcerated are varied and profound. In The Sibling Effect, Jeffrey Kluger writes: “From the time we’re born, our brothers and sisters are our collaborators and co-conspirators, our role models and our cautionary tales. They are our scolds, protectors, goads, tormentors, playmates, counselors, sources of envy, objects of pride. They help us learn how to resolve conflicts and how not to; how to conduct friendships and when to walk away from them. Sisters teach brothers about the mysteries of girls; brothers teach sisters about the puzzle of boys. Bigger sibs learn to nurture by mentoring little ones; little sibs learn about wisdom by heeding the older ones.”

On any given day, 54,000 juvenile offenders are not living with their families because they are instead in one of the 696 youth-detention facilities across the United States. In an average year, 17,800 of them “are just awaiting their turn in court,” according to the Campaign for Youth Justice. But those are just the youth in the juvenile-justice system. In the adult criminal-court system, another 200,000 young people “are tried, sentenced, or incarcerated as adults.” That results in an average of 4,000 to 5,000 children sent to adult jails every day.

And in the shadows, behind all of those statistics, are the left-behind siblings—many of whom will experience incarceration as a kind of mutual sentence.


Juleyka Lantigua-Williams is a staff writer, headquartered in Washington DC, specializing in criminal justice issues. This article is part of The Atlantic’s Next America: Criminal Justice project, which is supported by a grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.



Groove of the Day

Listen to Marvin Gaye performing “What’s Going On?”


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58° and Partly Cloudy




Charges in Castile shooting may be first against officer in Minnesota

by the MPR News Staff

November 17, 2016

The decision to charge St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez in the shooting death of Philando Castile is an anomaly.

Despite the hundreds of times police officers shoot and kill people while on duty, it’s rare they face murder or manslaughter charges.

599037-20161116-choi02Ramsey County Attorney John Choi’s charges in the Castile case mark the first time an officer has been charged for a fatal shooting in Minnesota in more than 200 cases that spanned over three decades, said ex-FBI agent Larry Brubaker, who has researched and written two books on fatal officer-involved shootings that have occurred in Minnesota.

A look at the case shows why Choi did what activists have wanted for years: File charges against an officer in a fatal shooting.

Yanez faces charges of second-degree manslaughter and two felony counts of dangerous discharge of a firearm.

Police officers across the country shoot and kill people 900 to 1,000 times a year, according to a database created by Phil Stinson, an associate professor of criminology at Bowling Green State University in Ohio.

In many cases, state laws and court decisions have justified officers’ use of deadly force.

Stinson found that over the past 12 years, 77 officers have been charged with murder or manslaughter. Of those 77 officers, 27 were convicted.

When force is justified

In Minnesota, state law can explain part of the reason it’s so rare: Officers are given much more legal latitude to use fatal force.

For civilians, the law is much stricter. The entire state statute that governs instances in which a civilian is legally justified in killing another is a sentence long:

“The intentional taking of the life of another is not authorized by section 609.06, except when necessary in resisting or preventing an offense which the actor reasonably believes exposes the actor or another to great bodily harm or death, or preventing the commission of a felony in the actor’s place of abode.”

For officers, the law is much longer. To summarize, state code says that using deadly force while on duty is justified in these situations:

• When it is needed “to protect the peace officer or another from apparent death or great bodily harm”

• To arrest, capture or prevent from escaping a person the officer “knows or has reasonable grounds to believe has committed or attempted to commit a felony involving the use or threatened use of deadly force”

• To arrest, capture or stop escape of someone the officer “knows or has reasonable grounds to believe has committed or attempted to commit a felony if the officer reasonably believes that the person will cause death or great bodily harm if the person’s apprehension is delayed”

‘An unreasonable risk of death or great bodily harm’

It was likely Yanez’s “culpable negligence” along Larpenteur Avenue that July night when Philando Castile was killed that brought Choi’s rare charges, said former US Attorney Tom Heffelfinger.

Manslaughter implies “culpable negligence, creating an unreasonable risk of death or great bodily harm,” Heffelfinger said.

In the Castile case, he said, the shooting’s context is crucial to understanding the charges.

2261e0-20160707-castilefb“Clearly, County Attorney Choi found it very serious and worthy of charges that the officer fired seven rounds into a car with not only Mr. Castile but also his girlfriend and a young child,” Heffelfinger said.

A smartphone and social media also likely played a major part in the county attorney’s decision to press charges. Diamond Reynolds, Castile’s girlfriend, streamed a live Facebook video of the shooting’s brutal aftermath.

“We see in some of these cases, even with video evidence, it does not ultimately result in an officer being convicted, especially in jury trial situations,” said Stinson, the criminology professor.

“Juries are very reluctant to find a police officer guilty of murder or manslaughter. They want to believe that police officers are the good guys.”

In the Castile case, such evidence quickly spread around the world immediately after the shooting, gaining steam on social media even before most news outlets caught up with the story.

“The video evidence is paramount. It’s absolutely crucial in this case,” Stinson said. “I don’t think in this case and in many others that an officer would be charged without the video evidence.”

Choosing charges over grand jury

Another detail that sets the Castile case apart: Choi didn’t choose to send the case to a grand jury. He kept the decision whether to charge within his office. He said in his announcement Wednesday that he didn’t think it would be right to ask a grand jury to decide the issue, when “I know in my heart what needs to be done.”

Grand juries—panels of peers, whose work is secretive by design—consider if there’s enough evidence to charge a person. They have been controversial for years, especially in police shooting cases. While grand juries almost always indict civilians, the opposite is true when a police officer is involved.

Only cases that carry Minnesota’s harshest sentence—life imprisonment—must go before a grand jury. Otherwise, it’s up to a prosecutor’s discretion.

By making the decision to charge without a grand jury, Choi retained independence and followed the lead of Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, who opted not to empanel a grand jury in deciding on charges in the Jamar Clark police shooting.

“I concluded that the accountability and transparency limitations of a grand jury are too high a hurdle to overcome,” Freeman said when announcing his decision in the Clark case in March. “So at this point in time in a democracy, where we continually strive to make our system fair, more just and more accountable, we in Hennepin County will not use the grand jury in the Jamar Clark case.”

Choi, who brought the charges against Yanez, emphasized on Wednesday that the officer will still need to go to trial, and that he’s still considered innocent until proven guilty.


MPR News reporters Cody Nelson, Jon Collins, and Riham Feshir contributed to this report.



Groove of the Day

Listen to Sheppard performing “Geronimo”


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60° and Clear




I’m doing my best to ignore the changes which are taking place in the government since Donald Trump’s electoral victory last week, but some of Trump’s supporters are making it difficult to do so.

Since Steve Bannon was named as Donald Trump’s senior White House counselor and strategist, Bannon’s former company Breitbart News has announced plans to sue a “major media company” for calling Breitbart a “white nationalist website.” Breitbart did not name the company to be targeted in its lawsuit, but said it “cannot allow such vicious racial lies to go unchallenged,” calling any attempt to link it to racism “baseless.” Under Bannon, Breitbart News published numerous stories critics called offensive, including one in which the writer, David Horowitz, referred to conservative commentator Bill Kristol as a “renegade Jew.”

In West Virginia, two officials in Clay County lost their jobs on Tuesday over a racist Facebook post about current first lady Michelle Obama. The director of the Clay County Development Corporation, Pamela Taylor, wrote on Facebook in response to president-elect Donald Trump’s victory in last week’s election: “It will be refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified First Lady in the White House. I’m tired of seeing an ape in heels.” Clay Mayor Beverly Whaling commented on the post: “Just made my day Pam.” Whaling resigned, and Taylor left her job, too, although it was not immediately clear whether she quit or was fired.

Conservatives and allegedly religious voters have long been seizing on any excuse to criticize Michelle Obama on the basis of how she looks or dresses. She has been criticized for wearing sleeveless dresses to functions, or shorts when she’s on vacation in very hot locales, and she has been criticized for doing push-ups and encouraging Americans to live healthy lifestyles.

Melania Trump, on the other hand, whose husband is the current president-elect, has received no criticism for not being a suitable First Lady based on her appearance or history of racy photoshoots. A recent search on Google of Melania’s modeling portfolio has seen certain strategic blurring (above), and maybe the photos will disappear altogether in time.

Yet this seems to indicate that conservative voters were only criticizing Mrs. Obama—not because she isn’t “First Lady-like” or because she goes against their conservative, religious views—but simply because she is a Democrat and maybe even because she’s African American… and that in itself is not right.

In a related story, there appears to be some interest by the Trump transition team in securing top-secret security clearance for some of the president-elect’s adult children—specifically Donald Jr., Eric, Ivanka, and her husband Jared Kushner. On Wednesday, Trump himself appeared to be back-tracking on multiple reports of such requests by his transition team, denying the reports altogether. “I am not trying to get ‘top level security clearance’ for my children. This was a typically false news story,” Trump tweeted early Wednesday morning.

A source with knowledge of the situation told CNN that Kushner could likely end up with a top national security clearance as a key adviser to his father-in-law, a position he is expected to take. The source said it is likely, but has not happened yet. Regarding security clearance for the other children, a transition source told CNN that an inquiry had been made, but that it had not yet led to any action.
ivanka_trump_nude2With fears of potential nepotism swirling, it is likely the question of security clearances was raised by Trump’s transition team, but it was quickly realized this was a bridge too far—even for the Trump family, who have a history of some pretty outrageous moves. Trump’s daughter Ivanka apparently submitted to very revealing photographs as part of her career as a model. I still have trouble understanding how members of the religious right can justify their votes for such a husband and father.
To my knowledge, this is the first time that the American public has been asked to put so much toothpaste back into the tube. But this is, after all, the first time we have elected such an extreme populist to the Oval Office.
I am no prude, but it seems to me this is a deplorable development to normalize within our society. Yet we had better get used to it. It’s not likely to end here.


Groove of the Day

Listen to Classified performing “That Ain’t Classy”


Weather Report

79° and Partly Cloudy


karaoke night

This film crew is thorough, to say the least. They arrived at about 4:00 am Tuesday, and showed up here at Estrella Vista in the early afternoon. They set up an interview in the house and even made some aerial shots of the property using a drone.

After sundown, I rewarded them with dinner at La Kiva, which was my first experience with a Karaoke Night (but obviously not theirs). It was a delight I was thankfully able to put off for over three decades (except for David Byrne’s depiction of the phenomenon in the 1986 film True Stories—which, according to rock critic Rob Sheffield, was the first depiction of karaoke in American pop culture):



Now I know that Tuesday nights at La Kiva are to be avoided for anyone not interested in sampling Terlingua’s amateur singing talent.




Groove of the Day

Listen to Cyndi Lauper and Peter Kingsbery covering “Walk Away Reneé”


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Today a film crew is arriving here from LA for a 3-day visit. I have told them there is no story here to film, but they insist that there is, and are investing their own hard-earned money in the trip. So we’ll see.

One of the things I will find most interesting is whether they will relate to what I am trying to do here. I am 68 years old and concerned with things that are exigent to someone approaching the end of life. The film crew are in their early 20s and at the beginning of theirs. Will we connect? Will they appreciate the things which are important to me? Is this an opportunity for me to “pass on” something of salience to people of all ages, or just an opportunity for them to document an eccentric old man living out his final years on the desert?

This will be a test for both of us.

I have made a number of basic decisions which make so many things ancillary that would not otherwise show up on the radar.

The first is the decision that I will not live out my last years in debt. I don’t want or need the pressure. Estrella Vista, such as it is, is totally paid-for and will never be taken away from the kids for whom it’s intended. So is my truck. My only monthly bills are for phone, truck insurance, storage, and Netflix, and those are on autopay. In another week, my property tax bill will even be paid off. I have learned to live adequately on an income level just above the poverty line. Simple and dignified, but a level of personal security I have never experienced before.

The second is the decision to go “all-in” regarding my belief in reincarnation. The thing which most fascinates me is doing things in my final years which reinforce and affirm a potential continuity between lifetimes—past, present, and future. So I am engaged in collecting activities which seek to reactivate my “memories” of the past. I am laying a line of “bread crumbs” which will hopefully attract the attention of some future me to my present work so I can contribute to it. If these crumbs are only picked up on by total strangers, so be it. Most lives are random as much as we may wish to see a pattern to them.

The third is the decision to serve other people, and avoid the selfishness which seems to consume so many other people’s lives. A long time ago when I bought my first “hot” car, I determined that nice things can become a curse if they’re not shared with others. One of the first things I did was to turn the driver’s seat over to a friend who announced that the car seemed to “gobble up” the road ahead. A very apt description, and one which I would never know had I not shared. I also have a belief (detractors would say “childish,” “magical,” or “irrational”) that I will be able to accomplish more for others than I would for myself. Only time will tell, but I have learned patience.

A fourth is my decision to live alone in isolation from other people. When I was a young man, before I fell in love, I spent a lot of time at a Trappist monastery and was very impressed with the lifestyle. If that particular setting were not based on Christianity, I would likely have chosen it as my life’s ideal. Now that my wife is dead and my son is grown, there is nothing but convention preventing me from living a life of contemplation and solitude.

The fifth decision I will tell you about is my choice to “honor thy father and mother,” hence my concentration on Youth Justice issues. As I read the stories of young offenders—especially parricides—I was constantly saying things like, “My parents never did that to me,” or “If I had influenced those kids, I would have done it differently.” With my first efforts, I was also discovering that I was unaware of what “wouldn’t work,” and that a surprising range of things were possible that “more seasoned minds” would say not to even try.

If I were to have believed in conventional wisdom, we would never taken on the cause of Paul Henry Gingerich. We have seen the passage of “Paul’s Law” in Indiana and a successful sentence reduction from 40 years to time served in a juvenile facility (6 years), 90 days in an adult facility, 1 year’s transition under house arrest in his mother’s home, and 10 years’ probation.

Before I moved to West Texas, I devoted the previous 15 years of my life to the “impossible” creation of a park and trail near my home. Today thousands of people each day use Cedar Lake Park and Trail in Minneapolis, and many of them probably think it’s always been there. Well, it wasn’t. It’s a very big deal.

If I have a great hope for my Youth Justice work, it is that it will eventually outshine my work on the park and trail. Maybe people will think it is so significant, they’ll even take it for granted, too.




Groove of the Day

Listen to Lawrence Tibbett performing “I Got Plenty of Nothin'”

(This recording was supervised by Porgy and Bess’ composer George Gershwin, who stated that Tibbett was “the perfect Porgy,” despite the fact that he was white.)


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PS: A particularly wise meme that showed up on my Facebook timeline.

Ways to fail at everything in life:

Blame all your problems on others

Complain about everything

Don’t be grateful



world without borders


The other night before my generator died, I was watching a Frontline episode about the state of anti-terrorism security within the EU, and it appears that terrorists are able to exploit the freedom of movement which is possible in Europe now that borders between countries have become less of an obstruction. In 2008, Ecuador’s National Assembly approved a new constitution that recognizes unfettered mobility across borders as a basic human right. Now some analysts claim Ecuador’s policies have made that country a conduit for terrorists and human trafficking, and a security threat for the entire Western Hemisphere. Donald Trump says he wants to build a “great wall” along the US border with Mexico, but anyone who lives on the border knows this is more complicated than Trump acknowledges and will likely prove to be an election-season pipe dream. This emphasis on a border with Mexico is also in marked contrast to a tradition of trans-border migration which existed for hundreds (perhaps thousands) of years before the arrival of the white man in the early 1800s.

In his first prolonged interview since being elected, Donald Trump still says he’ll build a border wall and that he’ll deport millions of people who are in the US illegally. Saying that his administration will deport “probably 2 million”—and possibly 3 million—people who are in the country illegally, Trump told 60 Minutes’ Lesley Stahl that he wants to secure the border. Trump also seemed willing to consider the plan some of his fellow Republicans have aired, of securing some parts of the border with a fence.

Yet, all this notwithstanding, it has been written that the world impoverishes itself much more through the blocking international migration than any other single act of international policy. Large numbers of people wish to move permanently to other countries—more than 40% of adults in the poorest of nations. But most of them are either ineligible for any form of legal movement or face waiting lists of a decade or more. Walls are a human creation, and hobble the global economy, costing the world roughly half its potential economic product.

The internet makes it possible for young Africans or Afghans to see with one click of a mouse how Europeans and Americans live. People no longer compare their lives with those of their neighbors but with the planet’s most prosperous inhabitants. The next revolution requires no ideology, political movement, or political leader. You change not the government but the geography. To change your life you need a boat, not a party. It is easier to cross national borders than class barriers.

A worker’s economic productivity depends much more on location than skill. A taxi driver in Ethiopia’s capital, no matter how talented and industrious, cannot earn more than a few thousand dollars a year. The same person doing the same job in New York City can easily earn $35,000 a year. The reason people will pay him that much is that his driving adds more than $35,000 of value to New York’s economy—much more value than his actions can add to the Ethiopian economy.

Simply changing a worker’s location can massively enrich the world economy. And stopping such movement massively impoverishes it.

Many in the EU feel overwhelmed—not by the 1 million and more refugees who have asked for asylum but by the prospect of a future in which their borders are constantly breached by migrants.

The future ageing and shrinking of the incumbent population painted by demographers is frightening even to some of the more robust Europeans. The majorities who feel under threat have emerged as an influential force in politics.

Many people fear that even a minor increase in international migration will wreck their own economies and societies. Those fears deserve a hearing. They are old fears, of the kind that filled US newspapers a century ago. The US population subsequently quadrupled, largely through immigration to already-settled areas. Today, even in crisis, America is the richest country in the world.

It occurs to me that one of the great questions of our age is whether we will rely on external borders to help regulate society, versus internal boundaries. As external borders become more porous, there is unfortunately a corresponding degradation of constraints on the individual. While both of these developments are welcomed from a freedom (non-coercive) perspective, the lessening of internal boundaries is unfortunate from a self-control point-of-view. It seems to me that this situation is a formula for total anarchy (in the worst sense of the term).

I am all for self-regulation by the individual, but many people today (maybe most?) are not prepared for this responsibility. Our current election proves that.




Groove of the Day

Listen to Slim Whitman performing “South of the Border (Down Mexico Way)”


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