Weird, strange and hardly ‘land of the free’!

According to the American Prison Policy Initiative:
The American criminal justice system holds almost 2.3 million people in 1,719 state prisons, 102 federal prisons, 1,852 juvenile correctional facilities, 3,163 local jails, and 80 Indian Country jails as well as in military prisons, immigration detention facilities, civil commitment centers, state psychiatric hospitals, and prisons in the U.S. territories.  And the numbers are increasing.  
As per UN numbers: The number of people in US prisons is more than the entire populations of 90 out of 233 countries worldwide.
BBC news reports (from the International Centre for Prison Studies) that prison rates in the US are the world’s highest at 724 people per 100,000. In Russia the rate is 581 and China 118.  Interestingly, Canada’s rate is also 118 per 100,000 of population according to Stats Can.  We incarcerate like the People’s Republic!
The number of federal and state prisons in Arizona is 53. That number does not include local jails, juvenile facilities, immigration detention facilities, etc. Arizona is number six of the top ten (mostly southern) states for incarceration rates.
When I think of hard-line criminal, not-so-just, penal systems around the world, I think of North Korea, Russia, China and (thanks to the movies: Midnight Express) Turkey.  They are veritable freedom havens compared to the US of A.
Why is that?
How do you make America great again if so many young males are in jail being watched over by young males and put there by young males?  Does the fact that all those groups come heavily armed to the vocation of their choice have anything to do with it?  Does Capitalism have anything to do with it?  Does ‘police state’ come into play?
I don’t know. I know squat.  But I do observe a few things that are maybe related…maybe not….one thing is the news down here.  It is more than a joke, it is a parody of news.  Honest.  Firstly, about one third of the news is the weather.  I find that so odd when the weather is the same every day!  Seriously, they open with the weather, they talk about it in their little ‘chats’ with their co-news personalities and they also close with the full weather report again.
The so-called news itself is insane.  You get a snippet of something – usually traffic or a shooting, often both – a bit of sports and maybe a Trump-snack…seriously…no piece longer than 15 seconds.  And never more than three ‘bites’ in a row.  Then they cut to  a series of ads.  Usually seven or eight ads in a row and half of them are ads for medications.  It is not unusual to hear five or more ads for drugs in a row.  Then two or three more news ‘bites’ and then more ads.  Maybe 12 ‘story bites’ over half an hour and always ending with a cute dog story or something insane.  Worse, at least one, sometimes two, story-bites are thinly veiled ads for a new restaurant opening or a Black Friday/etc. sale as if that was news.  The ‘report’ is such that you KNOW the business paid for it.  Last week, they featured a minute every night with a reporter on site for the up and coming (not yet arrived) World Wrestling (WWE) match!
Honest-to-God, there is no real news in Phoenix unless the cops or the robbers shoot each other or the other guy – in itself all-too common madness  – and the rest is utter drivel.  And, of course, the same weather day in and day out.  “That’s right, Bill, we’ll have temperatures in the low 70’s throughout the valley and bright and sunny the whole time!”  
“Dave, what’s your point?”  
Well, I’ve said it before a number of ways but, if the news is anything to go by, the population (in Arizona, anyway) is purposefully KEPT ignorant of what is happening in the world.  The news is STUPID.  S-T-U-P-I-D!  Beyond stupid.  It has to be a plot of some kind.  OMG is this place ignorant!
AND they have a lot of people in jail and a lot of people in the jailing business…..
….I dunno….maybe it is just a coincidence?
On a separate note: you may have noticed a lot of blogs lately.  I have been trying to unclog the writing pipes so that I can address the next book which is feeling like a large blockage in my cerebral colon.  I may not succeed.  Sometimes a blockage blocks, ya know?  Worse, readership is way down.  There is only Sid and Untidy…..That means that the MORE I write, the less is read.  What cruel irony! 
O’ what cruel bite thy serpent sends to inflict the spite for what the writer rends.  
(Yeah….I am losing it…….)

37 thoughts on “Weird, strange and hardly ‘land of the free’!

  1. Do you have a public broadcaster (PBS) in your area? The cable broadcaster CNBC has a perceptive analysis of news events. They are on line. With the China incarceration rates not sure how Chineses executions factor in.

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    • Yeah, like we may be even on incarcerations but they’re way ahead on executions. Or transferable body parts – are they included in executions or
      medical remedies.
      Your readership isn’t down – its your responsership that’s failing. Didn’t want to drag you in from the sunshine to reply.
      As for the news. Unplug the damn thing.

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    • There are three stations out of 12 here that carry the news at 5:00 and 6:00. ABC, PBS and FOX. The others run old reruns of Friends and Seinfeld. Even Bonanza! Some are Spanish language channels. We do not watch TV. But there is no other source of local news. So, we tried it. And, like all TV watching, it became a habit to turn it on at dinner time. OMG. Mind-boggling. Mind NUMBING!

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      • BBC International is on-line. BBC radio has several streams and some of the discussions get into the “weeds.”

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      • I know. I have sources for news online. But, you know…..seeing what is ‘local’ is all part of the adventure (such as it is) and so we tap into it to see what’s going on here…local…

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  2. I found that information interesting, Dave. I see that the first line of defense against a bad news story is to justify a horrendous statistic by pointing out some other country’s equally poor record on human rights, say in relation to the buying, selling or even stealing of organs.

    Now if you really want to lose readership, you could research maternal mortality stats. I read an article that contended Texas lead the world in the number of women who die during pregnancy and childbirth.

    Arizona is doing your head in. But a reality check is good every now and then. Makes you appreciate what you’ve got and the importance of supporting an independent free press, and I commend you for highlighting hidden injustice. Write on.

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    • Well, that’s just it – I would like to increase readership and that is a challenge yet to be met with any sustained success. If I write about Booze, bullets, boobs and butts, readership rises. I am guessing penises might have the same effect but I really do not want to find out. As tempting as it is to go there, I will run out of things to say about bullets pretty quick. And, from there, it is all downhill. The problem, it seems, is that Ravens are the ‘best I got’…..

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Not sure what writer’s block is preventing you from expressing but aren’t your recents blogs some indication? My sense is it is a polemic brewing.

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  4. The only target I might have is Trump and I have vowed NOT to give that narcissist any more attention than is absolutely necessary – and none is needed right now. Insanity is not news. WHAT an insane person does MIGHT be but, right now, he’s been neutered and neutralized. I think we are going to see two more years check and check before checkmate.

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    • I think the threads are there but they are tied to banal cultural activities that have been exhibited in several of your blogs. What is the communal mind set that fosters open carry? Prisons as an employment policy? There is fertile ground here without highlighting Trump. Is fear ubiquitous?

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      • Good point. I was talking to a Nigerian down the street and ‘fear and insecurity’ seemed to be his compelling motivations. He was a big, strong guy with a degree and wife who is an RN. They live in a white, beautiful (albeit beige and manicured row of ticky tacky houses) neighbouhood full of polite, clean, quiet, obedient Mormons and have two cars. But he comes from insecurity. He comes from fear. I asked why…….he mentioned Muslim terrorists in Northern Nigeria (makes sense but he is NOT there anymore) and then the police here in Arizona being a bit too quick to pull the trigger (makes perfect sense) but his primary fear was not ‘having enough’. He is disinclined to open carry and eschews all that is the gun culture instead aspiring to be a nurse, no less. But this sanitized neighbourhood does NOT fulfill his sense of community and I think that lonely, separate, not-know-thy-neighbour is at the root of it for him. Seems Nigerians wander in and out of their neighbours houses as kind of a social norm…who knew?

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  5. Perhaps your Nigerian friend has cause for fear. The Governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam has apologized for being one of the two men in a picture of two persons in black face and one dressed as a KKK member. The Governor is also a doctor of medicine. Recently over a trillion dollars of tax cuts were given in the USA but American can not afford Medicare for all!

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    • Yeah, I know. And you know what I think of Republicans and that type of thinking but I do NOT think a picture of some doofus wearing blackface standing by another doofus wearing a cone-head outfit at a party should require anyone to resign over it. Tasteless? Perhaps. Racist? yeah…in an unconscious way (they didn’t know any better). Resignation (career ending) based on a party picture? No – too heavy a price for even standard Republican stupidity (of which I am pretty fed up). Blackface is pretty stupid, especially in the mid 80’s, but for the privileged class, it was just stupid, not evil. They thought it was fun. I really do not think it was indicative of anything but obliviousness. It should be a ‘learning moment’ and that’s it.
      And, for those questioning my thinking, I turn it back on ya…..why is blackface so bad? When Sal and I got married we hosted a masquerade reception. Some of the people came dressed as cowboys and Superman and that sort of thing but some came as Arab Sheiks. I think we had an Indian complete with feathers. A costume is a costume is a costume. We should cut each other a bit of slack on that, I think.

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      • Yes I know Al Jolson in black face and “ You ain’t hear nothing yet.” Black face and minstrel shows. During segregation whites played in black face. So what? Black face signaled adherence to Jim Crow. The world turns and somethings go in and out of fashion. Currently society has protests saying, “Black lives matter.” Mocking black people seems to have lost its currency in some quarters but recent images on TV suggest that systemic racism is bubbling away.

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  6. I guess the point wasn’t really about ‘name it and shame it.’ It would be less instructive if the Governor had resigned. I see such activities as being more than those of a frat boys dress-up Party. I think the imagery of the black face juxtaposited with the KKK helps to foster an ominous ethos. Forced segregation of schools was in force and is segregation being mocked by this image?

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    • Maybe. Maybe as bad as ‘imaged’. I do not know. But – as a rule of thumb – I cannot in good conscience ask someone to resign from an image from a party decades long passed. Hell, what if someone snapped a pic of me at YOUR party five decades ago when, surrounded by screaming kids smashing their foreheads into coffee tables, and I said to a room full of teachers, “The only good kid is a dead kid!” Remember: You had to pick me up (Readers: Sid is huge) carry me into the kitchen and say, “Dave, you can’t say those kinds of things!”
      I love kids. It was teachers I despised that night!

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  7. As I said before I do not want the Governor to resign. It is much better that this image gets wider circulation and thus more virtue signaling of fake umbrage. The Governor gets to say, “My Bad!” And the satirical point is made.

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  8. And if is not enough for Arizona to do your head in, so too are your Readers!
    I constantly run out of things to write about, and then something happens which requires a few words be said. In the quiet times, I resort to Australian animals. I’ve photographed a platypus recently, so that might be the next post. 🙂 But I have to confess, I’m running out of animals too.

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    • I can say – so far, anyway – I am unlikely to run out of ideas. But I am tapping the last barrel of GOOD ideas. GOOD topics. But, the irony is that, what I think is good is NOT what others want anyway. I like seeing the big picture of propaganda, economics, human behaviour and all that social-perspective stuff. Not many care about that. They prefer whales. I’d love to write about women’s politics and all that but I’d get killed, strung up and hated despite mostly agreeing – it is where I don’t agree that the manslaughter would be inflicted. I choose mute over that. I could write piece after piece on the walking offense that is Trump and his coterie but that has already proven a dead end readership wise. And so it goes. I kinda dabbled in fiction just for fun but drivel and gibberish has dried up there. I still got religion, I guess….

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I know you refer to whales and ravens in your ironic voice. The ironic mask. As if the preservation of ravens and whales wasn’t part of the subtext of tanker bans and pipeline protests. They are part of the big picture you embrace. The Japanese want to resume harvesting of whales in the North Pacific. Apparently we now have a glut of fur seals. What’s next? Sea otters? One of your past topics was salmon farming. The devastation of sea lice destroying the wild stocks. But you are most familiar with these issues and have written about them in the past. These issues are as urgent as ever. Your OTG experiences give you a unique perspective on the West Coast aquatic diversity and its demise.

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    • I suppose it does in a way…but we are so far past the tipping point now that ‘sending the message’ is just a waste of breath. Recently, the government recommended shooting sea lions. They think we have too many of them. Before that, we were (did?) shoot wolves. Of course, we obviously have too many ‘fur’ seals. And too many deer. And the moose just keep wandering onto the highways, damn their hides! Bears? “We are overrun with trophy sized Grizzly bears. Let the ‘Mericans kill ’em. Then we get jobs!”
      Talking sense to idiots makes no sense. So why waste your breath?
      If we spent just a portion of our government’s ADVERTISING AND PROPAGANDA budget on fish hatcheries, disbanded the DFO and let the provinces run their fisheries and generally put wildlife ahead of stupid %!!^%$#* jobs, we’d make some major headway.
      But we won’t.
      Maybe you’d like some pieces on boobs and butts?

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  10. Well you know who gutted the DFO. Greens are growing faster than anyone of the media pundits ever predicted. So moves are afooted to discredit the Greens. Not sure we are at a tipping point regarding conservation measures for the ocean. A big step would be to banish salmon farming to land based facilities with proper waste disposal. Media has an ongoing coercive commentary that is destructive. Many of the media cast themselves as the ‘opposition with the ‘right answers’ to very complex issues. The pundits speak and predict but when they turn out to be wrong they never acknowledge it.

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    • Yeah. Me, too. I am wrong enough without having to admit it openly and officially.
      It is expected. I am fallible. And I have not even achieved pundit status!

      The fish farmers tried the land based unit but could not make it work right. Don’t know if they have given up or not. The oceans? I dunno…..a lot of damage…a lot of pollution…. a lot of harvesting without any kind of sustainability plan except HOPING parent tunas breed. Pretty stupid, really. See plastic vortex.

      But honestly? EVERYONE mortal is now aware that the planet is suffering but the corporations are NOT everyone, they are immortal, sociopathic entities without values except profit-making. Vampires. I say we kill the beasts!

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  11. Now, now…there is much more than whales, maternity, ravens and Trump out there. For instance….do Aussies eat kangaroos? Just how many poisonous creatures do have to skip round to get from one part of the house to the other? How big and how many weird toads ya got? Are Platypus Duckbills rare? Does yer husband drink beer? Is he covered in dust alla time? Ever been cold?

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