Morning Links

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009
  • It’s a sad state of affairs when a ninja can’t even successfully rob a dry cleaning store.
  • More sad photos of Detroit.
  • The story behind the fabulously precise hack of Time magazine’s “most influential people” poll.
  • This just seems like a really bad idea, doesn’t it?
  • Bulldog beauty pageant.
  • Two St. Louis cops accused of lying on multiple search warrant affidavits.
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  • 32 Responses to “Morning Links”

    1. #1 |  TomMil | 

      Re: Two St. Louis cops. “Neither has been charged with any crime.” At this point it’s early so there may be an excuse for that but i’ll take the odds they are never charged.

    2. #2 |  Dave Krueger | 

      Ah, Detroit. This morning on NPR they had a discussion about what it would take to revitalize Detroit and attract new businesses. They mentioned all kinds of feel-good things like being innovative and offering tax breaks and stuff. Not a single mention of what actually caused most of the destruction of the rust belt and much of the U.S. manufacturing industry.

      As far as I’m concerned, if they’re still too stupid to recognize what went wrong, then they might as well plow the whole place flat and use it as a giant windmill farm. I recommend that manufacture of the actual windmills be outsourced to an offshore contractor.

    3. #3 |  Dave Krueger | 

      So the Erie cop who runs his mouth in a bar on his own time is suspended without pay, but two St Louis cops accused of falsifying search warrants that cause a lot* of people severe misery are merely reassigned to a desk job. Nice.

      *You know it’s a lot otherwise they’d wouldn’t be keeping the number a secret.

    4. #4 |  Chuchundra | 

      What caused the downfall of the American auto industry is that they are poorly managed and, by and large, make crappy cars. Ford is in better shape than GM and Chrysler because they have better management and they make better automobiles.

    5. #5 |  paranoiastrksdp | 

      Detroit may be a shithole, but shitholes have an odd way of fostering some very rich and unique culture. With Detroit, it’s music. Come to DEMF or the jazz festival sometime and see for yourself.

    6. #6 |  Lee | 

      I’m not sure the zig-zag lines are a bad idea.

      It will probably work for awhile, then the drives will get used to them and then the lines will have no effect.

    7. #7 |  Bryan | 

      The Time magazine story sounds like it could be interesting, if it didn’t assume that the reader knew anything about what it was talking about. Its written entirely in hacker-speak.

    8. #8 |  Lee | 

      Not really hacker speak, just programming jargon. Being a programmer I found it very interesting.

    9. #9 |  Dave Krueger | 

      Yesterday there was a story on the news about how some hackers got access to a lot of technical files on the F36 strike fighter.

      I think the U.S. needs to start a program of computer modernization for all our enemies. That way they can be as vulnerable as we are.

    10. #10 |  Ben | 

      I’m not even a programer, and I was able to get the jist of it. And the jist of is it the ‘tards over at /b/ are smarter than most of the web techs out there.

      Seriously. Just about any impressive hack that’s happened in the past few years can be tied back to /b/.

    11. #11 |  Greg | 

      Re those sad photos of Detroit. A preview of what much of America will look like after Obama and his economic wrecking crew get through with it.

      Politicians don’t get why Detroit has been so thoroughly wrecked. They don’t get it so much that they want to apply the same economic model that trashed Detroit to the rest of the country.

    12. #12 |  craig | 

      Hold the phone, those photos are of Highland Park, which is NOT Detroit!! It is a city within a city, (highland park is inside Detroit), but it is NOT Detroit. It is what Detroit may look like in a few years, but Highland Park is waaaaaaaay worse than Detroit ever was.

    13. #13 |  bob42 | 

      Here in Texas, we don’t need comedians — We have Senator Dan Patrick and the wacky crew of Keystone Cops that is our state legislature:

      Sec. 2151.201. PROHIBITED EMPLOYMENT OF PERSONS CONVICTED OF CERTAIN SEXUAL OFFENSES. Prohibits an owner or operator of an amusement park from employing in an amusement park a person who has been convicted of, entered a plea of nolo contendere or guilty to, or received deferred adjudication for an offense involving prostitution or another sexual offense.

      Yup, while the violence of our drug war is knocking on our southern border and the state is in budget trouble, our reliable social conservative comedians are tackling the real problem — people accused of consensual sex working at amusement parks.

    14. #14 |  jdg | 

      craig, that’s detroit. woodward and robinwood (I took the photos).

      the houses do resemble the stock in HP, probably because they were built at the same time.

    15. #15 |  Salvo | 

      No, Detroit’s problems are because it is a city in a new century that still wants to run itself as a city from the 1950’s without realizing that it no longer has a population to support running like that.

      Any time the surrounding areas try to help (see the city vs. Cobo Hall, see, the city vs. regional transportation, see the city vs. the Zoo), the city council becomes suspicious that the suburbs are telling Detroit what to do, so they reflexively move the other way and cut off their nose to spite their face.

      Instead of moving to full neighborhoods so that the empty neighbohoods can be razed and turned into something useful, like say, a green belt, the last remnants of residents stubbornly hold on to their neighborhood, insisting that the 6 of them deserve their own school and lights and trash pick up because they somehow believe their neighborhood is still viable.

      When developers come in and come up with a viable solution for the blight such as urban farming, they cling to the past saying Detroit just needs more time to move past what it was.

      Detroit’s problems have some basis in economic reality, but it’s more a failure of the leadership to recognize that the city has changed from what it once was, and needs to reorganize itself to reflect new realities. The downtown area is vibrant and awesome; it’s the outer parts that are falling into decay. Start shrinking that area, put in some mass transit, and put the city to a more manageable size, and you’re most of the way to recovery right there.

    16. #16 |  paranoiastrksdp | 

      jdg, you coming to Hart for DEMF (Movement) this year? It’s gonna be a good ‘un!

    17. #17 |  Marty | 

      Zig-zag lines being painted on purpose- what could go wrong?!!! In typical fashion, I bet they’re trying to fix something that isn’t even broken…

    18. #18 |  Brian | 

      How has this blog not even linked to a story about the SCOTUS overturning Belton. It’s KIND OF a big deal.

      Belton was the case that allowed police to search incident to arrest. In AZ v. Gant they overturned that, ruling that there is no automatic right of the police to search (in this case, a vehicle) simply because the driver was arrested.

    19. #19 |  Ben (the other one) | 

      I grew up outside of Detroit, and although these pictures are truly sad, they’re not really surprising.

      Detroit and its suburbs have behaved for years essentially like the black/white guys Frank Gorshin played in that old Star Trek episode– locked in mortal combat over their differences even after the planet they were arguing about had been destroyed.

      It isn’t really a libertarian approach, but Michigan should have forced all of Wayne, Macomb, and Oakland Counties to form a metro-style government a long time ago, to prevent the endless squabbling and poaching of businesses ever further out into suburbia. Frankly, it’s the capacity of the suburbs to offer unbridled development that created a mentality that neighborhoods and communities are disposable; the photos just show the natural consequence of that.

      Now, we’re probably about 2 weeks away from seeing the start of similar declines (at least in office real estate) way out in suburbia (Auburn Heights) if/when Chrysler fails to convince Fiat and goes belly-up.

      The auto industry is a piece of the problem, but not the entire problem, and the blame for the auto industry really should be spread around a bit. It really is more complex than “they make crappy cars.” Again, not exactly a libertarian notion, but Detroit’s effective lobbying efforts to prevent government regulation of cars and fuel basically protected them to death. Their market share loss over the last couple of years really has next to nothing to do with quality, and everything to do with their legacy costs (too many brands, retiree benefits) and the decline in consumer interest in big SUVs and trucks, which they’d come to rely on.

      Coincidentally, there’s an interesting story in today’s NYT on Flint, Michigan’s consideration of demolishing neighborhoods in an effort to control its decline.

    20. #20 |  Highway | 

      Zig-zag lane lines are in widespread use in Britain and other European countries to indicate an upcoming crosswalk. They feel it’s effective, so its certainly worth a try. In the middle of the lane is kinda weird, but I’d imagine they don’t want to have to repaint the outside line.

    21. #21 |  perlhaqr | 

      Oh, /b/.

    22. #22 |  Dave Krueger | 

      I think the zig-zag lines are just a way to fuck with drunk drivers.

    23. #23 |  Jeff | 

      Off-topic a bit – isn’t this the mother of all HackWatches?

    24. #24 |  treefroggy | 

      Apparently Virginia law forbids one from crossing a “solid white line” in the road. Does this mean the car has to zig-zag down the road in order not to cross it ?

    25. #25 |  Dave Krueger | 

      What sunk Detroit, Michigan as a whole, and the Rust Belt in general is the highly pro-union legislation that sent pay scales skyrocketing to rates that can’t compete with other parts of the country and are way beyond labor rates on the world market. The auto workers are a prominent historical example with pay rates 2-3 times the average union pay rate in other industries (which are themselves higher than non-union rates). Certainly management incompetence and protectionism also played a sizable role. For one thing they should have been shifting production out of those states long ago. It’s not like no one could see this coming.

      No labor intensive business is going to move to Michigan with labor rates and union support bordering on extortion. Admittedly, Ford is doing better than the others, but the consumer public wouldn’t stand for the level of protectionism that it would take to keep all three American car companies profitable going forward.

      Of course, that could change with the so-called Employee Free Choice Act which is designed to level the playing field by saddling the rest of the country with the same problem so that traditional union states will finally be able to compete again nationally (if not globally).

      Labor is cheaper offshore and in order for manufacturing to compete on the world market, it will have to buy labor from those offshore sources. Greater per capita productivity cannot compensate for domestic labor that costs an order of magnitude more than overseas.

      In terms of encouraging stability and growth in underdeveloped countries, the best thing the U.S could do is scrap its highly political foreign aid programs and stop throwing obstacles in the way of companies who want to purchase labor overseas and then let the US labor market float back down to a level where is has some semblance of equilibrium with competing markets.

    26. #26 |  PersonFromPorlock | 

      As a sometime motorcycle rider, I have to wonder what it’d be like trying to break for someone in the crosswalk while crossing those nice, slick, paint lines in the rain.

    27. #27 |  Ben (the other one) | 

      Dave, taking your argument to its logical extreme, we should all accept $0.25 an hour in order to establish “equilibrium.”

      How about, instead, we reexamine the free trade religion, and take action against countries that achieve artificially low wage rates by failing to enforce environmental and anticorruption laws, and which criminalize union organizing.

    28. #28 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

      Painting zigzag lines on roads, or parallel lines which have steadily decreasing distances on them have been used before accident prone junctions in the Europe for some years. And they do actually mean motorists enter those junctions with a lower speed, and there has been less recorded accidents.

      This does tie into the very different road control concepts used in the US and Europe, of course. (And yes, it is the US system which dictates…)

    29. #29 |  azguy | 

      #27 Ben (the other one)

      So we need to push our laws that don’t work that well on to other countries so that we can lower the playing field?

      By the way, in our country unions criminalize themselves. Most mafia organizations world wide started out as unions to protect workers/peasants, but they struggle under the same problem that communism did – There are some that are more equal than others.

    30. #30 |  Dave Krueger | 

      #27 Ben (the other one)

      Dave, taking your argument to its logical extreme, we should all accept $0.25 an hour in order to establish “equilibrium.”

      How about, instead, we reexamine the free trade religion, and take action against countries that achieve artificially low wage rates by failing to enforce environmental and anticorruption laws, and which criminalize union organizing.

      And exactly what kind of action would we take against these countries. Increase import tariffs? Threaten to cut them off from our markets? Threaten to stop shipping American products to them?

      The existence of unions in the US does nothing to mitigate any problem you’ve mentioned.

      I’m a hard core believer in the free market. I think the country that respects the free market most is going to be the winner. Unions are not a free market entities. They are parasitic organizations that use government coercion to get what they want. They stifle performance by forcing companies to pay and offer advancement according to seniority rather than merit. They inhibit a company’s capacity to eliminate poor workers by making layoffs seniority dependent. They force collective bargaining and union membership. They inflate wages. Inflated wages are a major cause for illegal aliens coming here for salaries that are huge compared to what their own countries offer in some cases only a few miles away. Inflated wages result in unemployment for poor unskilled U.S. workers which then become a burden on the taxpayers. Inflated wages make products cost more which gives U.S. companies a disadvantage on world markets and makes products cost more for U.S. consumers. U.S. companies that can’t compete on world markets are often protected by tariffs which not only further raise prices for consumers, but often result in retaliatory tariffs which further impact U.S. exports. Unions are huge political organizations that campaign endlessly to make markets even less free. Essentially, unions are organizations whose sole mission is to oppose a free-market in labor.

      So, if by going to a real free market we suddenly find that we’re working for 25 cents an hour (which I don’t believe for a minute would actually be the case), then that’s a very powerful measure of just how far from equilibrium we are. Wealth is not something that you can legislate into existence. Legislation merely moves wealth around by force. States that favor unions saddle business with a huge burden that impedes their ability to survive and that’s one very major reason we now have a lot of empty industrial space and high unemployment in states like Michigan.

      It’s true that union laws aren’t the only cause. I can make a similar case against corporate subsidies, protectionism, favoritism, and the too big to fail mentality. But unions hold a special place in my heart because they are incredibly anti-free-market and never cease complaining about corporate greed at the same time as they frantically campaign for legislation designed to line their own pockets and forcibly grow their membership.

    31. #31 |  Aresen | 

      Bulldogs are my favorite dog.

      Thanks for the link.

      I do feel sorry for the dogs in pics 3, 4, & 5, though.

    32. #32 |  A.G. Pym | 

      Re: zig-zag lines.

      When I was a kid, roads and highways in rural Idaho changed the centerline marking of a road to a sine wave 100 or 150 feet before a stop sign. They quit doing that in the late 1960s, though, likely because it didn’t meet national traffic marking standards.