small d, Big J

What Steven desJardins is interested in.
Wednesday, May 21, 2003
This Washington Post article on problems faced by ex-convicts has an example of something that drives me crazy.

Amy Hirsch, an attorney with Community Legal Services in Philadelphia, has studied a 1996 federal law that imposes a lifetime ban on people convicted of drug offenses from receiving family welfare benefits and food stamps. She found that the law had a devastating effect on women released from prison.

More than 80 percent of the women in Hirsch's study said that they began using drugs in their early teens after suffering some form of sexual abuse and that they did not receive drug treatment until they entered the prison system.

"They come out of jail hopeful, clean and sober, and then come out and run into this brick wall," Hirsch said. "All the things they need to get their life started back is off limits, and there's nothing they can do about it. They wind up homeless, back on street . . . that law has a terrible effect on their ability to refrain from relapsing into addiction."

A number of states have opted out of the federal law, she said, as lawmakers have come to realize the unanticipated effects of the legislation.

"Unanticipated effects"? How can anyone think that the people voting to remove the social safety net from ex-convicts thought it would do anything but ruin the lives of every one of those people getting out of jail who end needing a safety net? The people who vote to hurt ex-convicts are doing this because they want to hurt ex-convicts. This isn't a guess; they'll say so. They are deliberately and consciously targeting for further punishment a segment of society that has already received what society deemed to be an adequate and appropriate punishment. These folks are called "law and order conservatives". They divide the world into good and bad people, and they think bad people don't deserve the same rights as good people. It's very important them, in fact, that bad people not get the same rights as good people, even if everyone would be better off, and many of them are totally irrational on the subject.

These are not unanticipated effects. This is exactly what the legislation was meant to do. If you think that the obvious and predictable effects of this legislation are bad, then you should vote out the bastards who voted for it. You shouldn't, as the article tries to do, let them off the hook by pretending that things somehow just didn't work out the way they were supposed to.

Monday, May 19, 2003
My computer died this morning, so I'm posting this from work. I won't be getting any e-mail until either the machine starts working again (doubtful) or I buy another computer. I see I can get a decent 14" iBook from Amazon for about $1250, so maybe this is a sign that I should abandon Microsoft forever.

Update: It turns out it's still under warranty. So I ought to be able to get it fixed.

Update 2: And when I got back this evening, it booted fine. (Although I did get error messages indicating that there had been a real problem with the display driver this morning.)

Sunday, May 18, 2003
Tonight I watched The Legend of Suram Fortress. For a while I wasn't sure if it was just pretty pictures that didn't make a lot of sense, or if I was just lacking the necessary cultural context and storytelling protocols to properly absorb and interpret the information. Either way, I had a hard time following the narrative. Many of the scenes seem pointless, like the one where a little girl says she's a butterfly, and her brother announces that then he'll be a grasshopper, and they take turns saying "I'm a butterfly! I'm a grasshopper!" Bottom line: Never rent a movie with beach mimes. (There's a second movie on the disk. I didn't watch it.)


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