Morning Links

Friday, January 7th, 2011
  • Man dies in a house fire caused by police deployment of a flash grenade. It’s not the first time this has happened.
  • The last paragraph of this article pretty much sums up my expectations for the new GOP-led House.
  • Some crappy headlines this week. So here is a video of a tired puppy.
  • Curious to know what Agitator readers think of this story. Should it be a crime to exploit a flaw in slot machines? I’m not convinced it should be.
  • While we’re at it, here’s a bit more comments bait. To what degree is a 12-year-old culpable for murder? If you think this kid got what he deserved, at what age would you put the cutoff?
  • I’m quoted in this Boston Herald article about this week’s SWAT killing of Eurie Stamps.
Digg it |  reddit |  del.icio.us |  Fark

90 Responses to “Morning Links”

  1. #1 |  M | 

    Better flashbang headline: “Police Kill Private Citizen with Grenade”. People don’t realize that these aren’t fire crackers when they’re called flashbangs or flash grenades.

    Also, the slot machine flaw thing should be the same as counting cards so long as they didn’t have inside info or access to the source code and even then, only the insider or anybody who was under an NDA should really be culpable.

  2. #2 |  Eric | 

    I think if they didn’t change any settings themselves, it’s not a crime. If they persuaded people (who had the authority to change it) to do it for them, well, that’s that guy’s fault.

  3. #3 |  nando | 

    I’m with Eric. If these people were merely aware of a software glitch, but didn’t cause it or change any settings themselves, then they aren’t guilty of anything. Figuring out that a certain combination of keys causes the machine to pay out a jackpot is akin to counting cards (which has been determined to be totally legal, even if casinos frown upon it). They didn’t use any special equipment other than their minds (and deductive reasoning), therefore it’s not cheating and shouldn’t be illegal.

  4. #4 |  Anon | 

    If I understand the article correctly, the glitch made the machine display a false jackpot which the duo then cashed in. I guess I’m not sure what that means, but if it is apparent that the jackpot is “false” is some way then they certainly knew they were committing fraud on the casino. It would be like seeing an ATM glitch that put an extra zero on your account and immediately withdrawing a whole bunch of money at the teller window.

    On the other hand, if some other customers happened to randomly hit upon the magic selection of numbers that also hit the false jackpot, I think they should be allowed to keep the money, as they didn’t know the machine was lying.

    Again, this is all based on what “false jackpot” means.

  5. #5 |  hexag1 | 

    12 year old:

    In is fascinating new book, Sam Harris tackles this problem in a discussion of free will:
    Consider the following examples of human violence:
    1. A four-year-old boy was playing with his father’s gun and killed a young woman. The gun had been kept loaded and unsecured in a dresser drawer.
    2. A twelve-year-old boy, who had been the victim of continuous physical and emotional abuse, took his father’s gun and intentionally shot and killed a young woman because she was teasing him.
    3. A twenty-five-year-old man, who had been the victim of continuous abuse as a child, intentionally shot and killed his girlfriend because she left him for another man.
    4. A twenty-five-year-old man, who had been raised by wonderful parents and never abused, intentionally shot and killed a young woman he had never met “just for the fun of it.”
    5. A twenty-five-year-old man, who had been raised by wonderful parents and never abused, intentionally shot and killed a young woman he had never met “just for the fun of it.” An MRI of the man’s brain revealed a tumor the size of a golf ball in his medial prefrontal cortex (a region responsible for the control of emotion and behavioral impulses).

    In each case a young woman has died, and in each case her death was the result of events arising in the brain of another human being. The degree of moral outrage we feel clearly depends on the background conditions described in each case. We suspect that a four-year-old child cannot truly intend to kill someone and that the intentions of a twelve-year-old do not run as deep as those of an adult. In both cases 1 and 2, we know that the brain of the killer has not fully matured and that all the responsibilities of personhood have not yet been conferred. The history of abuse and precipitating circumstance in example 3 seem to mitigate the man’s guilt: this was a crime of passion committed by a person who had himself suffered at the hands of others. In 4, we have no abuse, and the motive brands the perpetrator a psychopath. In 5, we appear to have the same psychopathic behavior and motive, but a brain tumor somehow changes the moral calculus entirely: given its location in the MPFC, it seems to divest the killer of all responsibility. How can we make sense of these gradations of moral blame when brains and their background influences are, in every case, and to exactly the same degree, the real cause of a woman’s death?

    It seems to me that we need not have any illusions about a casual agent living within the human mind to condemn such a mind as unethical, negligent, or even evil, and therefore liable to occasion further harm.

    What we condemn in another person is the intention to do harm, and thus any condition or circumstance (e.g., accident, mental illness, youth) that makes it unlikely that a person could harbor such an intention would mitigate guilt, without any recourse to notions of free will.

    Likewise, degrees of guilt could be judged, as they are now, by reference to the facts of the case: the personality of the accused, his prior offenses, his patterns of association with others, his use of intoxicants, his confessed intentions with regard to the victim, etc. If a person’s actions seem to have
    been entirely out of character, this will influence our sense of the risk he now poses to others. If the accused appears unrepentant and anxious to kill again, we need entertain no notions of free will to consider him a danger to society.

  6. #6 |  Dave Krueger | 

    The last paragraph of this article pretty much sums up my expectations for the new GOP-led House.

    I think the Pentagon cuts are a measly fucking pittance.

    One of the biggest fallacies is that the U.S. derives its superpower status from a powerful military. People and the government are in for a rude awakening. Our superpower status (ie: our capacity to independently influence the rest of the world) comes from our wealth and economic clout. Without that, the military doesn’t mean shit (we can thank the USSR for teaching us that).

    The Pentagon budget needs to be evaluated from the standpoint of what’s needed to do the job instead of what’s needed to line the pockets of corporate political buddies. With that approach they could increase those cuts by a factor of ten (and the U.S. would still be the biggest military spender in the world).

  7. #7 |  djm | 

    There was a recent case in the UK involving roulette. The gamblers used some sort of laser to measure the ball speed during the spin (but before betting was closed), then bet accordingly. They were tried, but the judge ruled that since they had not actually altered the game (only received more information about the game), they kept their winnings.

    I think the ATM analogy is more accurate. What if the machine was spitting out 100s instead of 20s? And withdrew accordingly?

    Really, if we’re going to consider “exploiting a glitch” as fraud, we’re going to have to charge every arbitrageur on Wall Street.

  8. #8 |  dsmallwood | 

    the casino thing makes no sense.

    its not a crime for the casino to take money from dumb gamblers. how could it be a crime to take money from a dumb casino?

    combined with this:
    One Meadows employee, who was not criminally charged … agreed to enable the double-up feature

    the employee is the one who enabled the activity. if there is a crime, he is the faciliator.

  9. #9 |  Cappy | 

    Indiana 12 year old killer – Now every child 12 years and up who engages in consensual sex with an adult is considered for all intents and purposes to be an adult who made an adult decision.

    Most states consider a person to be an adult when they’re 18.
    The federal government considers a person to be an adult when they’re 21.

    Except you know, when a child commits a heinous crime.

  10. #10 |  Jesse | 

    Regarding the 12-year old:

    I think back to when I was that age, even older, and did some ridiculous things and contemplated even worse ones when led along by someone else. All grown up now, I can see how stupid I was to be led around like that but at that age I was vulnerable to suggestion, peer pressure, even outright lies, and didn’t have the self-confidence to call a socially dominant peer an idiot and walk away. Having a mentally ill and emotionally abusive father probably played a big part in that.

    Fortunately I never did anything to acutely harm anyone else but I can see how someone at that age could be led into doing something they would never dream of doing when they grow and mature.

  11. #11 |  Dave Krueger | 

    If the 12 year old kid had sex with a 25 year old woman, he would be considered completely innocent because he doesn’t have the psychological horsepower necessary to consent to he act (regardless of whether he initiated the it or not).

    My opinion is that he should be held accountable when he injures someone just as he should be held accountable for any other behavior children are routinely disciplined for. I don’t think the 25 years sentence is necessarily out of line, but the reality is that his life will be in the shitter until he dies no matter how long he sentence is.

    Even if the sentence was too harsh, on a scale of injustice I would rank this as being a low priority. In other words, I could think of a gazillion other justice system abuses that would be more deserving of remedial action than this.

  12. #12 |  A different Eric | 

    I can’t believe so many commenters have been casual about the slot machine story. Apparently these guys figured out that if the settings are just right and you hit a combination of buttons you can get the machine to say you’ve won big and to not record the payout into its internal memory. They went around the country exploiting the glitch and used accomplices to avoid detection.

    This wasn’t a knowledge of which slot machine was the loosest, or which game offered the best odds, or what cards might come up next; each of those would still depend on some element of chance to ensure winnings. It’s more like #4’s analogy to an ATM that you can trick into giving you $200 instead of $20. It’s deception.

  13. #13 |  Dave Krueger | 

    Just for the record, I miss the karma buttons. Sometimes I’m just too friggin’ lazy to respond to someone, but like the idea of being able to give him a thumbs-up which only takes a second.

    Also, even if you are driven into the ground with negative karma, at least you’re getting some sense that people are taking the time to read your remarks and gives you a sense of where you fit in the continuum of opinion of those who frequent this site. Finally, it gives people who read, but don’t post, a way of contributing.

  14. #14 |  CRNewsom | 

    If you value your sanity, do not read the comments on the flashbang story.

  15. #15 |  Michael | 

    No one forced the casino to use the slot machine. Many companies have decided to use software to sell a product or service to the public. My mom ordered a Braun shaver from Target online and got 2. Should the FBI be kicking in her door. The companies that deploy the software need to accept responsibility for their software.

    The problem here was that government and their powerful friends got screwed, not the general public.

  16. #16 |  djm | 

    Ah, here it is:

    http://gscentral.net/larsen.htm

    Long story short, game show contestant figures out a pattern, and exploits it for winnings. Tried to disqualify him, but since he hadn’t done anything illegal, he kept his money. All he did was pay attention.

    Of course, since this was 1984 (oh the irony), no actual charges were even considered – just disqualification, which was dropped.

    Repeat the same trick in 2011, and he gets slapped with 650 felony counts.

  17. #17 |  CRNewsom | 

    @#15 Michael: I agree with you wholeheartedly.

    Related to the shavers your mother ordered:

    US Code Title 39 Part IV Chapter 30 §3009

    It is conceivable that this could be interpreted as a “company error in your favor.” I would love to hear such an argument.

    I don’t think the casino would be complaining if they found out that the machine was calculating the jackpot incorrectly in *their* favor.

    /IANAL

  18. #18 |  Mattocracy | 

    I think a 12 year old kid knows good and well what murder is all about. And what sex is all about for that matter. The lack on consistancy in the way the law applies itself to minors screws up the debate of punishing kids for adult crimes. We’re framing our arguments with a patch work of laws that contradict each other more often than not.

  19. #19 |  Matt | 

    The Pentagon budget needs to be evaluated from the standpoint of what’s needed to do the job instead of what’s needed to line the pockets of corporate political buddies.

    The problem runs a little deeper than that actually. I recently learned there is some controversy about the Senate Armed Services Committee’s rules which allow sitting members to own stocks in defense contractors, even though they have considerable inside information from the Pentagon and influence in defense policy. It was covered in the WashPost. So it’s not just cronyism but our legislators personally profiting from the military-industrial complex which they oversee. Interestingly the ethics rules do prohibit _staff_ from owning such stocks, but not the senators themselves.

  20. #20 |  Matt | 

    Sorry, only the first paragraph of the above #19 was meant to be blockquoted. That’s another vote for a preview button!

  21. #21 |  Scott | 

    #14 CRNewsom – wow, I should have read your comment about the flashbang story comments before reading them. That is very disturbing stuff.

  22. #22 |  Irving Washington | 

    Did I just read that right? The SWAT officers’ association opposes expanded use of no-knock warrants? Like, to the potential detriment of police budgets? Is that the most principled public position you’ve seen in the new year?

  23. #23 |  Standard Mischief | 

    Q: Should it be a crime to exploit a flaw in slot machines?

    A: Only if the legislative branch is run by the casinos.

    The software run by these machines is a matter of public record. If they didn’t tamper with the machine itself, only exploited an “undocumented feature” via normal operation of the machine, I think they should get off. The casinos should think of this as really expensive software bug squashing.

  24. #24 |  Steve Verdon | 

    Regarding the slot machine thing, nope. Casino’s do it already as part of the standard coding, the payouts vs. odds of winning are such that the game is rigged in the house’s favor. This guy found and example of where that wasn’t the case and took advantage of it much like a casino does. Its a case of being a sore loser…on the part of the casinos. If I were on the jury I’d nullify.

  25. #25 |  Michael | 

    This plan was initiated and carried forth by Colt

    The story was a little hard to follow. For a moment I thought the kid’s attorney was going to blame Sam Colt.

    Anyway, My sister has a 10 year old that’s quite able to engage in lying and deception to serve his needs. A 12 year old plugging a guy with 4 rounds is committing murder. The 25 years seems appropriate though I might add that the sentence be reviewed when the 2 kids reach 21 for possible release.

  26. #26 |  Brandon | 

    “I am sorry the guy died, but I am also sorry for the cops who now have to go through many difficult reviews to explain themselves.”

    From the comments on the police arson story. I’m sure the man’s family will feel justice has been served after all the difficult reviews his killers have to go through.

  27. #27 |  ChristianLibertariran | 

    The onus is on the software company and the slot machine company in insure and maintain the machine’s integrity. If an individual can simply exploit a known (albeit known by only a few) problem, than I see no crime.

    The simply test of course is whether there is a victim (which is why i disagree with Radley on the criminality of Vick’s dog-fighting). In this case the casino’s offered defective equipment and someone figured it out for their own gain. It seems to me a fair quid pro quo since the craps table is rigged (7 being the number most likely to come up) in favor of the house.

    Now, in my mind it is morally WRONG to exploit the casino’s software for personal profit. I would like to think that he should have notified the powers that be that their machines were flawed.

    Criminal no…wrong yes. Just like dog-fighting, drug use, prostitution, polygamy, ad infinitum, ad nauseum.

  28. #28 |  David | 

    I agree that anybody who tries to say smart gambling is illegal is spouting bullshit, but there’s a difference between knowing the game well enough to gain an advantage and simply entering what amounts to a cheat code into the machine. Counting cards is fine, but this is much closer to marking them.

  29. #29 |  Stormy Dragon | 

    With the casino thing, I think it depends on the the flaw. In this case he got a technician to perform certain actions, putatively for purpose X when he knew they were really for purpose Y, which the technician would not have agreed to had they known. This seems to me to be an almost textbook case of fraud.

    The objections to this seem to fall into two categories:
    1. It was stupid for the casino employee to fall for this.

    That’s certainly true, but there’s no gullibility defense to fraud. Those Nigerian email scams are incredibly obvious too, yet we don’t generally say this makes it okay.

    2. I object to the way casinos are run so they deserve to be defrauded.

    Whether or not casinos are beyond reproach in other activities is irrelevant to whether fraud occured in this case. One would think the readers of this blog in particular would be aware of the dangers involved in only enforcing the law if you like the victim.

  30. #30 |  ChristianLibertariran | 

    For the 12 year-old murderer, an eye for an eye is fine with me. In a true Judeo-Christian ethic, prison is out of the question, and the family of the victim should get to decide what the punishment should be. I fail to see why the state even needs to be involved with this.

    Torah allows for capital punishment for unruly children, clearly this kid is culpable for the crime committed. Society has nothing to gain by locking him in a box for 25 years, until he is 37, then what? Dropping him back out into society? If he is willing to commit murder as an “innocent” 12 year-old, what the heck is capable of doing as a 37 year fresh of a 25 year stay in hell?

    Prison is no place for even the worst of the worst. Let the family of the victims decide.

  31. #31 |  Michael | 

    I’d ask our humble host two things.

    What do you thing of the democrats that have stated that’s not the responsibility of congress to read or follow the constitution because we have the supreme court?

    Have you considered publishing a book/booklet on police violence and the innocent people killed? Something simple that is inexpensive and can be passed out to the social conservatives.

  32. #32 |  Aresen | 

    On the casino story, I think the key part is as follows:

    The men persuaded casino technicians to alter “soft” options on the machines, such as volume and screen brightness controls. Such perks aren’t unusual for high-rollers, who can wager anywhere from a few hundred to thousands of dollars in one day.

    IOW, the casino allowed their employees to do this sort of thing for percieved ‘high rollers’, so I think it is the casino’s problem, not a matter for the courts.

    The only caveat I have to throw in is: “How did they get their knowledge of the software glitch?” If they obtained unauthorized access to the software by fraudulent means, then they were stealing. If they merely deduced it from experiment and observation, then it is the casino’s problem again.

    I was bothered by the “unsworn falsehood” misdemeanor charge, which I gather arose from the fact that they pretended to be ‘high rollers’. That is pure bullshit. By that standard, they’d have to arrest 99% of the guys and 90% of the women in singles bars.

  33. #33 |  Michael | 

    Oh,

    http://huntingbambiwoods.com/

    Tasteful or not?

  34. #34 |  Highway | 

    Yeah, a cheat code is a really grey area, as is duping employees into paying on a false display. But I think ultimately, the casinos should be liable for their losses due to flaws in their machines. If the casinos all of a sudden noticed that their machines weren’t paying out as much as other times, they wouldn’t be all in favor of being charged for fraud.

    I think the social engineering aspect of it is what the problem is. They duped other people into it: changing the settings on the machines, paying out jackpots.

  35. #35 |  Pete S | 

    The point ob the slot machine case is not that the guy found a way to make the machine hit a jackpot. What he found was a way to trick the machine into thinking it was supposed to pay double. He knew he wasn’t supposed to get paid double. Its sort of like if you found that by entering a certain combination of key presses on the ATM it would pay you double the money (without doubling the debit on your account).

    He knows he is not supposed to get paid double.

  36. #36 |  Marty | 

    #15- if you pay for one item and get two due to a mistake, the second item should be returned. no one should knock down your door, but I would hope that not every mistake I make is exploited. it’s integrity.

    the slot machine story is fun, because we all dream of ‘beating the system’. it’s also (to me) fraud. there’s a class of people pulling nigerian scams, craigslist scams, etc. and we should be allowed to beat their asses because all this shit makes the world a little less pleasant. I’d be interested in knowing what other scams these guys may have been involved with…

  37. #37 |  Marty | 

    the flashbang story made me think of a clint eastwood line from the unforgiven- it was something like, ‘killing a man is a helluva thing- you take everything he had and everything he’s ever gonna have…’

    that’s a helluva price we’re all paying.

  38. #38 |  Michael | 

    #33 – The machines are programed for the double feature but is usually turn off since the general public doesn’t want to see the feature. The casinos will turn it on for people the want to play high roller.

    It’s like playing backgammon.

  39. #39 |  ClubMedSux | 

    To me the operative fact in determining culpability in the casino question is that they intentionally convinced an employee to tamper with the machine to exploit the glitch in the software. Here’s the analogy I would use: you have a safe deposit box at a bank that can be opened by inputting a PIN into a keypad. You somehow learn that there’s a glitch in the software such that if you change the PIN to 1-2-3-4-5, the same PIN will open every lock in the bank. You ask the bank manager to change your PIN to 1-2-3-4-5, and then proceed to open the bank vault and steal $50k in cash.

  40. #40 |  Michael | 

    #34- The problem my mom is facing is she can’t return it without getting a refund. It’s store policy. It can’t come back in to inventory without a refund going out.

    My friend had the best advice. Return it and donate the money to charity.

  41. #41 |  Pablo | 

    The last sentence in the defense budget story sums up my expectations too. No one in Congress, except Ron Paul and maybe a couple of other outliers, is interested in reducing government and cutting unnecessary spending. People who believe in that generally just don’t run for office. People run for office because they want to enrich themselves and control other people’s lives. These Congressmen steering all the pork to their districts and contributors are lower than the skankest street ho. At least the ho is honest about who she is.

  42. #42 |  N2 | 

    An average 12 year old is certainly capable of understanding right and wrong, understanding the gravity of murder and forming the specific intent required to commit murder. Assuming that this 12 year old is “average” in that regard, then convicting him is appropriate. Unless someone wants to argue that he should not do any time, the length of the sentence doesn’t matter. As someone above pointed out, this kid’s life is essentially over. Whether he does 5 years or 25, he’ll come out with decades left to live and absolutely no chance of making it on the outside. A terrible story for all involved — the kid, the kid’s family, the victim, the victim’s family, and the taxpayer. But hey, the prosecutor got that extra five years, so I guess there’s one winner here.

  43. #43 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #34 Marty

    #15- if you pay for one item and get two due to a mistake, the second item should be returned.

    No, that removes the incentive for the store to improve its process. The second item is the cost the store pays for being sloppy.

  44. #44 |  Sean L. | 

    Slot machine story:

    There’s a major piece missing form this story. In order for the guys to have done what they did, it seems they MUST have had previous knowledge of a specific flaw or back door in the code. I’m not buying that they ‘happened’ to figure out a flaw that required casino operators to turn on a feature that was normally turned off. For those who think they just ‘exploited an existing flaw,’ exactly how did they figure out this flaw when it was inaccessible until the double-up feature was turned on?

    A while back, there was a slot machine programmer who added his own back door to the software such that when a certain combination of coins were used in a sequence, the jackpot would be triggered. He was arrested because he, himself created the back door and then stupidly went into a casino to exploit it. What’s the difference between a programmer creating his own exploit, and a programmer creating an exploit and telling a buddy about it?

    To me, that’s what this case hinges on: Could the double-up exploit have been found accidentally? If the answer is yes (I would need some convincing), then they should keep their money. If they received inside information, then they should get a slap on the wrist, pay the money back, and be done with it, and the person who fed them the info should get either charged if they created it, or fired if they just found it in the code and leaked it.

    BTW.. When they say a ‘false jackpot’ all they mean is a jackpot combination was presented and paid without the use of the random number generator (RNG).

  45. #45 |  Don | 

    Whether the 12-year-old knew murder is wrong is not the question. The reason a child is not the same as an adult is that children are developmentally incapable of understanding the consequences of their actions. They can’t exercise adult judgement, even when they have a reasonable understanding of right and wrong.

    Children who get into bad trouble are like that, only more so. They tend to be less mature and have poorer judgement compared to other children their own age. Committing a heinous act doesn’t make them LESS like children, it suggests they’re MORE childlike.

    The young murderer should have been sentenced in a juvenile court that would treat him like a child with a serious problem.

  46. #46 |  MikeZ | 

    “If I understand the article correctly, the glitch made the machine display a false jackpot which the duo then cashed in. I guess I’m not sure what that means, but if it is apparent that the jackpot is “false” is some way then they certainly knew they were committing fraud on the casino. It would be like seeing an ATM glitch that put an extra zero on your account and immediately withdrawing a whole bunch of money at the teller window.”

    My guess is the word false was inserted by the casinos to put them in a better light. Obviously the casino operator couldn’t tell it was false and it appeared to be a legitimate jackpot or they wouldn’t have paid out the money in the first place. I admittedly haven’t touched a slot machine in a few decades but it doesn’t seem as complicated as an ATM transaction. The whole point of the machine is to put money in, Push some buttons or pull a lever and hope to get free money. Sounds like they were using it correctly to me. Now for an ATM transaction if this occurred this would be misusing the machine and potentially be fraud.

  47. #47 |  Marty | 

    #38 and #41-

    good points. if returning the product was at all a pain in the ass, i wouldn’t do it. I get what you’re saying, Dave, but in my small businessman world, I would be extremely grateful and responsive to someone helping me correct a glitch. It would be quite easy to derail my new business with a few glitches.

    another one of those issues with lots of valid views…

  48. #48 |  HD | 

    The US defense budget “cuts” aren’t even cuts. The military gets to keep the money, they just get to spend it on something else.

    “Gates found $100 billion in Pentagon savings over five years but allowed the Pentagon to keep that money.”

    http://www.npr.org/2011/01/06/132713970/Pentagon-Announces-Billions-In-Defense-Cuts

    Sorry I couldn’t find a better link but all of the other major news outlets are reporting it as a cut, not as re-allocation. I wonder why that is.

  49. #49 |  Aresen | 

    Before we all forget: Congrats on the credit in the Boston Herald article, Radley. Hopefully, your work is beginning to enter into the MSM’s consciousness.

    Most of the comments on the article seem good as well. (With a few shudder-worthy exceptions.)

  50. #50 |  Charles Curran | 

    There’s a new ‘Blog’ , ‘Nashville Byline’. RB you should check it out.

  51. #51 |  Mattminus | 

    Do we want 37 year old men,with no skills or prospects, who have literally grown up in prison being released into society?

  52. #52 |  MassHole | 

    I second what Aresen said. I was pleasantly surprised to see the Herald write such an article. Keep up the good work Radley. People are paying attention to what you are saying.

  53. #53 |  Michael | 

    #31 – Include the date of death of the innocents so social conservatives can send out sorry for your loss cards. They’ll feel better for it.

  54. #54 |  Phelps | 

    I think that exploiting a software flaw in slot machines should only be a crime if it is also a crime for the casino to not pay in instances where the machine gives an “unintended” winning with no intentional manipulation by the player.

    It should be a two way street.

  55. #55 |  Matt | 

    Children who get into bad trouble are like that, only more so. They tend to be less mature and have poorer judgement compared to other children their own age. Committing a heinous act doesn’t make them LESS like children, it suggests they’re MORE childlike.

    I don’t buy this. While it’s true children can be impulsive and fail to conceive of the consequences of their actions, this case involves a deliberate killing intended to produce a particular result. It’s a very adult thing to conceive of someone dying as a result of your actions, and then go carry it out.

  56. #56 |  pyo1 | 

    “Really, if we’re going to consider “exploiting a glitch” as fraud, we’re going to have to charge every ”

    EVERY cop, judge, DA, etc… on down the line!

  57. #57 |  Don | 

    Matt #55, it’s not that the child didn’t intend for the other person to die, it’s that the child has no idea of the enormity of what that means, any more than a younger child understands how a small thing like playing with matches can have huge consequences. The fact that the kid was able to plan an action to get a short-term result doesn’t make him an adult. Indeed, he displayed childish, magical thinking in his belief that his parents would get back together if his stepdad died.

  58. #58 |  Michael | 

    #56 You forgot congress, the executive, and supreme court.

  59. #59 |  Athena | 

    Regarding the 12 year old:

    Generally speaking, if we don’t reward kids with adult-like privileges when they are extraordinarily good, we shouldn’t punish them with adult-like sentences when they are extraordinarily bad. As has already been mentioned, kids cannot legally consent and are treated as victims even when they engage in, say, a “consentual” sexual relationship. If we’re going to hold to this line of reason, I think it should be applied consistently. If an adult determined to have the mind of a 12 year old committed a murder, that would typically be considered as a mitigating factor. So, why should an actual 12 year old be treated with less consideration?

    As for where the line should be drawn? I think 18 is reasonable, as society has deemed it reasonable for most everything else. I find it to be a bit arbitrary, but that’s another discussion entirely.

    When it comes to this particular sentence, I would have no problem with it under the following circumstances: As much of the sentence as possible should be served in a juvenile facility and the convict should be parole-eligible. I read some of these comments about how this child’s life is over or wondering what he’ll be capable of upon release if he’s already involved in murder, and I wonder what these people actually know about the juvenile system.

    The juvenile system was created roughly a century ago because society realized even back then that children do not have the capacity that adults do, and they do have a capacity for rehabilitation that adults generally do not. The benefit of the juvenile system can be seen in current statistics. Minors dealt with by the juvenile system reoffend later and less often than those dealt with by the adult system. When it comes to child murders, the rate of recidivism is practically nil.

    This child’s life is not over. With the support of the juvenile system, structure and access to education, he could very well emerge a skillful, productive member of society. Many child murderers do just that.

  60. #60 |  Big A | 

    #47 Marty. Maybe we can settle this by the size of the business. If the business is small enough to make it easy to return an item that was mistakenly sent- you return it. You’re right in that Joe Small Businessman would appreciate the return, but more importantly, he would also be willing to process the return in a non-standard manner (i.e. not give a refund with it). If the business is large enough that the computer won’t allow a return without giving a refund or something like that, then don’t return it. As Dave K said- that’s their punishment for screwing up (and making it difficult for a considerate person to undo their mess).

  61. #61 |  Matt | 

    Magical thinking is also common in adults and it’s no excuse for criminal behavior. It’s the intention in the act, not the likelihood of success, that determine moral culpability. If a child plays with matches and burns down his house he has only caused an accident. If he deliberately sets the house ablaze with his parents inside because they didn’t buy him a toy, then it’s, arguably, murder (although of course each case must be evaluated individually).

  62. #62 |  Robert | 

    A man in Canada (Daniel Corriveau) managed to figure out that a casinos Keno game random number generator was not so random as they thought. he won 600,000 and after some fighting in the courts, got to keep it.

  63. #63 |  B | 

    Well…I think a 12-year-old committing a calculated murder and admitting as much makes a real good case 1) that sentencing guidelines for juveniles should be really flexible, because every case is different, and there is no magical date where moral culpability is conferred, 2) that when a juvenile is incarcerated for a long period of time, a *tremendous* responsibility falls on the state to do everything possible to rehabilitate him into a functional adult, and 3) that a great deal more resources could be put towards that end were the system not overwhelmed with offenders having committed non-violent crimes and things that shouldn’t be crimes at all.

    Prison should be reserved for people we have good reason to be afraid of, not people who we are just mad at or who do things of which only some of us disapprove.

    And just to be clear, a 12-year-old who commits murder in cold blood scares the hell out of me.

  64. #64 |  Brian | 

    Regarding the slot machines, I don’t think this is any different than a hacker using social engineering to get a password, or someone clearing out your bank accounts through fraud.

    I really can’t see how this is the same thing as counting cards.

  65. #65 |  ClubMedSux | 

    While I think there have been good arguments on both sides of the slot machine coin (pun intended), the one I simply can’t buy is the “punishment for being sloppy” argument. By that logic, if I buy a shitty lock for my door and somebody busts it in and robs me blind, then the robber isn’t culpable because that’s what I deserve for buying a shitty lock.

  66. #66 |  Sean L. | 

    If a 12-year-old commits murder, maybe they should postpone the 25-year sentence until he’s 18. Periodically check in with him — If he’s not a threat to others, stays off drugs, has good grades and is on his way to college and a career at that point, then treat it as a juvenile offence and let him be a productive citizen.

  67. #67 |  Brad | 

    The problem with the casino story is all the information left out. Nearly all machines, from slots to coke machines, have diagnostic and fail-safe modes that can sometimes be triggered by pressing certain button sequence combinations. You can find youtube clips of people exploiting these on coke machines and at laundromats.

    Basically what I expect happened was the slot machine has a diagnostic mode for the jackpot that is triggered by pressing a certain button sequence. The existence of this may even be required by the gaming commission for inspections. When this diagnostic mode is triggered the outward appearance of the machine is likely not altered (i.e. mechanisms, lights, sounds appear the same) but the results are not recorded internally in the machine because they are not “real” results, hence the “false jackpots” in the story. I suspect the perpetrators somehow had knowledge of this diagnostic mode and tricked casino employees to unwittingly trigger it by pretending to be high-rollers and getting perks that normal patrons wouldn’t. If this is the case, I think the relevant legal question is how they acquired the knowledge. If they got inside info from someone at the casino, gaming commission, slot manufacturer etc… I feel it’s an obvious case of fraud. If they figured this out through a trial-and-error process then I see it as a legitimate win akin to counting cards (only because they did not alter the machines themselves). However, given the elaborate acts used and the specific knowledge of the slots’ features I don’t find that likely.

  68. #68 |  Don | 

    Matt, you argued that his ability to plan and execute a murder made him culpable. Now you say the fact that he had no plan beyond that, is not mitigating. I think you’re on the right track, just take it farther. Culpability is about being able to appreciate the consequences of his actions, and that includes not just the fact that stepdad ends up dead (he expected that), but the fact that the family is destroyed and he himself goes to prison (which seems to have been a surprise).

    Adults understand that actions have complicated repercussions, so they’re accountable for their actions. Children don’t understand that, because they can’t—their brains aren’t fully developed—so they don’t have adult accountability. This kid is unambigously in with the children, in terms of his thinking and his accountability.

  69. #69 |  Country Woman | 

    I don’t believe that children should be held to the same standards of culpability as adults. It is hypocritical that on one hand a child cannot legally consent to “adult activities”, but still be seen as beyond reform and sentenced to damaging lengthy prison terms. At minimum there should be some mechanism in place for the review and possible revision of the sentence when the child comes of legal age. Every child and circumstance is different.

  70. #70 |  LibertarianBlue | 

    #31 | Michael

    You forget conservatives worship cops like the left worships taxes. You try to talk about police abuse, they brush it off as some left wing plot. The comments on the yahoo article pretty sums up their mentality.

  71. #71 |  Mattocracy | 

    Just because someone is above or below a certain age doesn’t just automatically mean that they understand or don’t understand the seriousness of a crime. It needs to be case by case basis.

    “And just to be clear, a 12-year-old who commits murder in cold blood scares the hell out of me.”

    Word. And I’m not trying to pick a fight with you, but people are also scared of drugs, immigrants, black people, cops, pit bulls, guns, global warming, etc. Being afraid isn’t enough of a reason to restrict liberty from certain people forever. Think about this-do you think he would’ve done this at the age of 18 or 20?

    “Adults understand that actions have complicated repercussions, so they’re accountable for their actions. Children don’t understand that, because they can’t—their brains aren’t fully developed—so they don’t have adult accountability. This kid is unambigously in with the children, in terms of his thinking and his accountability.”

    Word. I agree with you except that none of his friends shot their fucking dad so mom would marry someone else. Given this logic, parents and teachers should be getting knifed and gunned down every other day. I have a hard time imagining this kid and his peers don’t grasp the gravity of murder at their age seeing as how most don’t commit murder.

    There are no good options with a killer child. This isn’t in the same category as making poor decisions with matches or a bb gun. I have hard time saying “He’s just a kid who didn’t know any better” when damn good and well did. And I have a hard time sending him away for 25 years knowing that he’ll never reach full potential for a crime he may not have committed at a more mature age.

  72. #72 |  Don | 

    “I agree with you except that none of his friends shot their fucking dad so mom would marry someone else.” The fact that this child’s bad behavior is unusual, doesn’t make him less of a child. It just makes him an exceptional child (who happened to have access to a gun).

    No one’s saying he didn’t know any better. I’m not, anyway. Nor is anyone saying that he should be going to school with other people’s kids. I AM saying that he should be treated like a child with a (severe) behavior problem, not like an adult criminal.

  73. #73 |  B | 

    And I’m not trying to pick a fight with you, but people are also scared of drugs, immigrants, black people, cops, pit bulls, guns, global warming, etc. Being afraid isn’t enough of a reason to restrict liberty from certain people forever

    Yes, yes…I did say that prison should be reserved for people we have a “good reason” to be afraid of, and I realize that not everyone will define those “good reason” boundaries the same way, but there are probably some boundaries we could set that would be *nearly* universal. I’m pretty sure cold-blooded killers would fall within them.

    At any rate, we could certainly do better than we do now.

    Think about this-do you think he would’ve done this at the age of 18 or 20?

    Fair question, and I of course have no idea. If he developed normally (i.e., improved his sense of empathy and ability to judge consequences) probably not. If he’s a psychopath in training, probably so. Criminal justice has to be reactive, so we can only go based on what he’s done. I don’t think he should go to prison for life, and 25 years may be problematic because he will essentially start adulthood at 37 with a hell of a lot of baggage. But he definitely should go away for a while, and be watched very, very closely.

  74. #74 |  SusanK | 

    I’m surprised at how many people here think a 12-year old is as culpable as an adult. A twelve-year-old is simply not capable of comprehending abstract thoughts like “dead means dead” and “forever”. They only know right from wrong because they were told so, they don’t figure it out on their own.
    If you wouldn’t hire a 12-year old as your doctor or your lawyer, or put them in a position of authority/trust, then you don’t sincerely think they are as smart as adults.
    Also, culpability and punishment are different. Punishment generally isn’t applied in the juvenile justice system since the goal was originally rehabilitation. I think our society has lost that.

  75. #75 |  pam | 

    wow, depressing

  76. #76 |  Mattocracy | 

    “I AM saying that he should be treated like a child with a (severe) behavior problem, not like an adult criminal.”

    I see what you’re saying I’m not trying to pick a fight. I just have a hard time imagining that therapy and counseling is going to unfuck a kid who would resort to such an extreme act in order to control the parts of his life he didn’t like. I realize that you can’t put this in the same category as a hitman killing off rivals for a drug gang, yet it’s so much more than a severe behavorial problem.

    Juvenile hall and heavy progressive counselling (I don’t know what the alternatives are to 25 years, so I’m speculating) don’t seem to carry the kind of accountability one would expect for a capital crime.

    Again, I don’t think there is a good answer. All options seem to be disproportionate to the crime or disregard the mitigating factor of age and maturity. If there is a middle ground in all this, it’s not very wide.

  77. #77 |  Brian | 

    A twelve-year-old is simply not capable of comprehending abstract thoughts like “dead means dead” and “forever”. They only know right from wrong because they were told so, they don’t figure it out on their own.

    Sorry, this doesn’t work when the crime is intentional murder. 12 year olds are perfectly capable of understanding that when you point a gun at a guy’s head and pull the trigger, he doesn’t just go away for a while. And 12 year olds know that killing innocent people is wrong, unless they have some kind of mental disability.

    Now, if the case was a 12 year old convicted of negligent manslaughter (12 year old thinks it’d be a really fun idea to play cops and robbers with the loaded pistol he found in the alley, for example), then you have a point. But you don’t have to have a fully formed moral philosophy to know that intentional murder is permanent and wrong.

  78. #78 |  Gerald A | 

    What if I want to the ATM right after you and you forgot to “log out”. Can I empty out your account, keep the money and say it’s your own fault?. You drop your wallet with $2000 in it, do I keep it because it’s your fault?

    Maybe I was brought up different, but if you keep something you’re not entitled to, you’re a thief.

    For the record, I found a wallet with $2400 in a bar. It was returned to the owner.

  79. #79 |  Big A | 

    Gerald- I agree about returning wallets etc- I do the same. But at the same time, if someone did take the money from a found wallet, I don’t think that’s a crime. Just bad karma.

  80. #80 |  Michael | 

    #70 | LibertarianBlue

    I don’t intend to give the conservatives a pass. I thought:

    Have you considered publishing a book/booklet on police violence and the innocent people killed? Something simple that is inexpensive and can be passed out to the social conservatives. Include the date of death of the innocents so social conservatives can send out sorry for your loss cards. They’ll feel better for it.

    to be pretty clear.

  81. #81 |  pris | 

    Who is responsible for the health care bills when the police mistakenly shoot the wrong person or shoot an animal?

  82. #82 |  perlhaqr | 

    Don: Child or not, or possibly even especially so, what would you have done with them? You certainly don’t want to be teaching a child who will presumably grow up that he can get away with murder. (Literally, in this case.)

    Putting him in prison so he ends up on the streets at 37 having grown up in prison is clearly a terrible idea, too.

    As a practical matter, I find myself at least nodding towards ChristianLibertarian’s “eye for an eye” notion, just because at least it solves the problem of “not punishing him” and “generating a sociopath we’ll have to live with later”.

    Some sort of choice, given to the parents, whether the kid dies or they all go into exile. We need more desert islands we can set up coventry facilities on.

  83. #83 |  Tim Vande | 

    I remember reading something in Sport Illustrated in the 90’s that some people got charged after they came up with a computer algorithm that would pick a better line on sporting events than the casinos did. I think winning in Vegas is against the law.

  84. #84 |  El Scorcho | 

    I see the casino story like this:

    Imagine a poker table in a casino where you could see all the cards as they are dealt if you sat in a certain spot. Is this dishonest – I would say yes. Is it illegal? I don’t see how it would be.

    I also notice in cases like this, many tangentially applicable charges will be thrown at the guys because the act was not inherently illegal, but seems unfair.

  85. #85 |  Marshall | 

    Re casino software, I’m thinking about the automated stock market trading programs, some of which are arbitragers designed to take advantage of procedural flaws in the market.
    Steal thousands and go to jail. Steal millions and get a bonus.

  86. #86 |  Chris in AL | 

    The fact that the kid thought the murder would get mommy and daddy back together shows that he was thinking like a 12 year old, not an adult.

    And count me among those that just don’t accept the double standard. If you are mentally and socially and morally developed enough to be held to the same behavioral standards as an adult when it comes to a crime than you are developed enough to benefit from the privileges of adulthood, like voting, signing contracts, having a beer and consensual sex. You can’t be only smart enough for the bad but not smart enough for the good.

  87. #87 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Hmmm…the ex-cop in the casino glitch will get the least amount of charges.

    Professional courtesy!

  88. #88 |  Chance | 

    Pre-teen Children should not be held to adult criminal culpability standards in any circumstances. The evidence is pretty definitive that they simply do not have the same impulse control or critical thinking capabilities to have criminal intent.

    Age cutoff? I’ve seen plenty of people here argue that a one size fits all policy for things like BAC are not fair, and should depend on the individual and circumstances. I feel that way about child crime. In one case it may be proven that a 16 year old knew exactly what they were doing, and in another case a 19 year old may not be culpable.

  89. #89 |  BSK | 

    “For the 12 year-old murderer, an eye for an eye is fine with me. In a true Judeo-Christian ethic, prison is out of the question, and the family of the victim should get to decide what the punishment should be. I fail to see why the state even needs to be involved with this.”

    You have a gross misunderstanding of the “eye for an eye” tenet.

  90. #90 |  BSK | 

    Big A-

    So if you leave your door open and someone yanks your TV, is that just bad karma? If a woman falls asleep with her pants down and ass up in the air and some drunk frat boy helps himself to her, is that bad karma? As the previous poster said, taking something that does not belong to you is theft, plain and simple. Even if taking it is easy.

Leave a Reply