Debtors Prisons, Return of in Mississippi

The Mississippi Department of Corrections runs the modern-day debtors prisons it calls restitution centers. But not very well.

The agency doesn’t keep close track of how much people sentenced to the program earn and owe, according to dozens of current and former inmates interviewed by Mississippi Today. That makes it hard for them to figure out how long they need to work at mostly low-wage jobs to make enough money to earn their freedom.

Mississippi prohibits the workers from handling their own earnings and gives them little documentation of their debts. Where their money goes and whether it reaches the victims of their crimes remains a mystery to most inmates we talked to.

Anna Wolfe And Michelle Liu, ‘Something seems fishy’: Bad bookkeeping and poor oversight plague a Mississippi inmate labor program, Mississippi Today

47.2 Slate

A Dartmouth economist has pegged what he claims is the most miserable age: 47.2 years old. A new study by David Blanchflower, collecting data about well-being and age from 132 countries, suggests that for people in developed nations, the “happiness curve” reaches its perigee at precisely 47.2 years. Those are the doldrums of middle age.

For someone like me who feels plenty of middle-aged misery but is not yet 47.2, this statistic is daunting! I’m not gonna see an upswing for another 2.14 years? I decided to talk to some actual 47.2-year-olds to find out what it is about 47.2-hood that’s so miserable, and how I can escape their horrible fate.

Dan Kois, Slate

Emerson on Prayer

“Prayer that craves a particular commodity, any thing less than all good, is vicious. Prayer is the contemplation of the facts of life from the highest point of view. It is the soliloquy of a beholding and jubilant soul. It is the spirit of God pronouncing his works good. But prayer as a means to effect a private end is meanness and theft. It supposes dualism and not unity in nature and consciousness. As soon as the man is at one with God, he will not beg. He will then see prayer in all action. The prayer of the farmer kneeling in his field to weed it, the prayer of the rower kneeling with the stroke of his oar, are true prayers heard throughout nature, though for cheap ends.”

Emerson, Ralph Waldo. Self Reliance

Random Quiz

Someone who studies ants is a:

The original drummer for The Beatles was:

SQL stands for:

The author of the Foundation series:

Defenestrate means:

Literal Interpretation, example of

I was at a private school that had rules about the length of boys hair. One guy in particular always ignored the rule and the administration would tell him to get a hair cut every so often, but he never did. Eventually when his hair got about down to his shoulders the principal pulled him aside and told him his hair was twice the allowed length and by next week it needed to be shortened by half.

Monday rolls around and he comes in with half his head shaved, and the other side as long as ever. We were impressed by literal interpretation of the principal’s request, but it still ended up with him getting a suspension for a week and he had to shave the other side before he could come back.

What’s the best way you’ve seen someone rebel against school rules? from AskReddit

Javascript Rising Stars

For the 4th consecutive year, Vue.js is the overall winner of our contest, with more then 30,000 stars added on GitHub in 2019.

No surprises at the following spots: React and the code editor VS Code follow in the same order as last year.

The biggest jump in the rankings is Vue Element Admin, a solution to build nice dashboards using Vue.js components, number 4 this year.

Svelte has been around for a few year but it really took off in 2019 and it holds the position number 5.

TypeScript enters the TOP 10, its success has been one of the main changes in JavaScript landscape over the last years.

Deno, the JavaScript run-time built by the creator of Node.js was one of the newcomers in 2018. It’s still trendy, at the 13th position.

https://risingstars.js.org/2019/en/

Tabulating Crime, Difficulties With

The first problem with understanding crime is that measuring it is harder than it sounds. The Department of Justice approaches the problem in two ways. The F.B.I.’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program, or U.C.R., solicits data from about twenty thousand law-enforcement agencies around the country. Simultaneously, the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ National Crime Victimization Survey, or N.C.V.S., interviews about a hundred and fifty thousand nationally representative citizens, asking them whether they have been victims of a crime.

Both datasets have problems. An obvious one is that there’s no consensus about what counts as criminal activity. In some jurisdictions, only offenses worthy of incarceration are considered crimes. In others, fined infractions also count. (Is speeding a crime? What about manspreading, for which one can be fined seventy-five dollars in Los Angeles?) Because the U.C.R. draws its data from investigators, and the N.C.V.S. relies on victims, they can present starkly different pictures of crime. According to the U.C.R., the incidence of rape nearly doubled from 1973 to 1990. The N.C.V.S., by contrast, shows that it declined by around forty per cent during the same period. Researchers at Vanderbilt University looked into the discrepancy; they found that the upward trend in the U.C.R. data correlated with upticks in the number of female police officers, and with the advent of rape crisis centers and reformed investigative styles. It could be, in short, that a modernized approach to the policing of rape drastically increased the frequency with which it was reported while reducing its incidence. But coherent stories like these only sometimes emerge from the conflicting data.

Matthew Hutson, New Yorker

Heaven and Hell are Within You

An old monk on Mount Athos in Greece once told me that people rejoice in the thought of hell to the precise degree that they harbor hell within themselves. By which he meant, I believe, that heaven and hell alike are both within us all, in varying degrees, and that, for some, the idea of hell is the treasury of their most secret, most cherished hopes — the hope of being proved right when so many were wrong, of being admired when so many are despised, of being envied when so many have been scorned.

And as Jesus said (Matthew 6:21), “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

David Bentley Hart, NY Times

RIP – Neil Peart

I saw Rush on the Power Windows tour and the crowd threw glow sticks in the air when they heard the first note of Tom Sawyer. Thanks for the good times Neil!


Here’s a Rolling Stone profile of Rush from 2015 that I remember reading and enjoying: From Rush With Love

Neil Peart likes to ask himself a couple of key questions. One is “What is the most excellent thing I can do today?” The answers lead him to travel between Rush’s shows on a BMW motorcycle instead of a plane or bus (creating scheduling nightmares for the band’s management), and to embark upon extracurricular bicycle trips through West Africa and China and Europe. He aims to fill every minute of his life with as much much-ness as possible, which may also help explain all those 32nd notes.

Hamlet as improv part …

Hamlet is a tragedy where there is a part left open, as a part is left open for an improvisational actor in farce. But here the part is left open for a tragedian.

He is fundamentally bored, and for that reason he acts theatrically. The play is written entirely out of spite against actors, and by its nature the role of Hamlet cannot be done by an actor. An actor can act everything except an actor. Hamlet should be played by an actor brought in off the street, and the rest of the characters should be professional actors. The point about Hamlet is that he is an actor and you can’t act yourself. You can only be yourself.

W. H. Auden, Lectures on Shakespeare

Personal Identity, Quotes on

“Even though I was very shy, I found I could get onstage if I had a new identity.”
David Bowie

“I am my own experiment. I am my own work of art.”
Madonna

“Who the fuck are you?”
The Who

“If you understood everything I said, you’d be me”
Miles Davis

“Can you remember who you were, before the world told you who you should be?”
Alan Watts