Glenn's Junk Chest

An assortment of Glenn's writings, photography, gaming resources, flash movies, and other creative output.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Media: Press Hits

Thanks to Slashdot, I found an article on how PR firms seed the media with stories. When they succeed, it's called a "press hit", and it's better than any ad. Fascinating stuff.
Remember the exercises in critical reading you did in school, where you had to look at a piece of writing and step back and ask whether the author was telling the whole truth? If you really want to be a critical reader, it turns out you have to step back one step further, and ask not just whether the author is telling the truth, but why he's writing about this subject at all.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Politics: Operation Falcon

So, as widely reported in the news, Operation Falcon apprehended more than 10,000 fugitives, nationwide, between April 4th and April 10th. Reading the article, which is being widely touted as a victory for victim's rights (it coincided with Crime Victims Rights Week), a publicity coup for law enforcement, and a demonstration of the value of increased inter-agency cooperation in the wake of 9/11.

The focus, they say, was on violent crime. In fact, our new Attorney General says "Operation FALCON is an excellent example of President Bush’s direction and the Justice Department’s dedication to deal both with the terrorist threat and traditional violent crime."

But looking at the numbers given in the article, I had the first inklings of doubt.

10340 total arrests.

162 who were wanted for murder.
638 who had outstanding arrest warrants for armed robbery.
553 who were wanted for rape or sexual assault.
106 who were unregistered sex offenders
154 who were gang members.

Yay! 1613 scumbags who are off the streets and now (deservedly) behind bars. But 1613 from 10340 leaves 8727 arrested for some other reason, not specified in the article.

Surely someone must know, I thought, what the vast majority of those caught in this massive dragnet were arrested for? But as news article after news article neglected to mention exactly what, I began to fear the worst. I became convinced that huge amounts of government resources, utilization of the over-broad powers granted in the wake of 9/11, and zeal to generate positive publicity on the new AG's watch had resulted in a massive drug bust, a meaningless continuation of the unwinnable war on drugs. I finally tracked down a more complete official breakdown, and unfortunately, my fears seem well-founded.

In addition to the above numbers, the operation involved:

the arrest of 68 kidnapping suspects
the arrest of 38 arson suspects
the arrest of 1727 assault suspects
the arrest of 1818 burglary suspects
the arrest of 12 extortion suspects
the arrest of 483 weapons violation suspects
the arrest of 203 stolen vehicle suspects


the arrest of 4,291 major narcotics violation suspects and the seizure of 30kg cocaine, .19kg heroin, 204kg marijuana, and 39kg other drugs. (A total of 210 drug seizures.)

There it is. Considerably more than 1 out of 3. More than twice as many as any other category of crime. The ruinous War on Drugs continues, and law enforcement continues to broaden its powers and reach to fight that war while claiming their focus is on "fighting terrorism" and "stopping violent crime".

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Gaming: Spike's Journal Updated

After a long hiatus, I have once again updated Spike's Journal. More to come soon.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Photos: Oddcon 2005

Over the weekend, my family and I attended Odyssey Con, a local science fiction convention. I host a movie party there, and a lot of people stopped by, visited, and enjoyed the various wacky videos I had to show. The big hits this year were the new Doctor Who and Heat Vision and Jack. Generally, feedback was pretty good, (the main complaint was that the room was too small) and I look forward to doing it again next year.

As it happens, I also took some photos.
The Nick Atoms
The Dread Pirate Liana
A fandom wedding
The Masquerade
Princess Rose

If you'd like to see more, I put up a whole gallery of them. There's a bunch more of The Nick Atoms, in and out of costume. There're also a few more shots of Amalor and Dragon in their wedding duds, and various miscellaneous con shots.