Sunday Reads

A few interesting articles I read this week:

The Someone You’re Not

by Mike Sager, Esquire.com, February 24, 2011

Two years later, he is moved to a minimum-security prison at Grafton, Ohio, and eight years after that he moves to the Grafton Farm. Most of the inmates at the farm are allowed to work outside. Some can even drive into town themselves. As a convicted child molester, Ray cannot leave the facility unsupervised. He has a similar problem with the mandatory courses he’s supposed to take: Because he refuses to stand up in group and admit he is a child molester, he is not allowed to participate.

Years pass. He sees a couple guys have heart attacks. He sees a few guys get killed — they’re lying there bleeding, you know, you just keep moving. He sees beat-downs, beefs, hassles, rapes. He watches a cellie die slowly of a heart blockage — a decent older man who’d shot a guy for messing with his daughter. Towler is locked down in solitary twice. The first, a ninety-day stint, follows a routine shakedown: His cellie has a shiv fashioned from a spoon he bullied Towler into bringing back from the kitchen. The second stint follows the death of his mother, in 1984. He is allowed to go to the funeral; he wears shackles. When he returns, he asks to be put in solitary — he just wants to be alone. Over the years, most of the prisons in which he is housed are far from home — one is on the border with Kentucky. After the funeral, the only relative who visits is his sister Deborah.

From the very beginning, he draws portraits of guys, amazingly realistic likenesses with a number-2 pencil, on the back of an envelope or on a sheet of plain paper, something very special an inmate can send to his mom, his woman, his kids. Ray sells the portraits for cash or other valuables. His talent grants him a certain respect within the prison community, despite the mark of his despicable crime, which is written at the very top of his file and all of his paperwork, along with his prison number, 164681. His offense follows him everywhere. There is no escape. He says he feels like the actor Chuck Connors on that old TV show Branded. The theme song plays over and over in his head: What do you do when you’re branded, and you know you’re a man?


Twitter Was Act One

by David Kirkpatrick, Vanity Fair, April, 2011

McKelvey took Dorsey on as an intern and learned that this awkward teenager could swiftly master most computing tasks. When McKelvey began to worry his company could get killed by an online competitor, he found that Dorsey was the only one on his small staff who agreed on the need to migrate the business onto the fledgling Internet. McKelvey hired several freelancers for the project. “One guy asked me, ‘What’s my job title going to be?’ I said, ‘Assistant to the summer intern.’ He was basically a stick figure. I said, ‘Just do everything this kid says.’ ”

Dorsey kept improving as a programmer. His parents didn’t want him too far from home, so he enrolled at the University of Missouri at Rolla and, as a hobby, wrote dispatch software for emergency vehicles and couriers. (Dorsey is unusually good at staying focused.) In his junior year he wandered through the Web site of DMS, a large courier-dispatch company. Burrowing into its computers, he found the e-mail of the C.E.O. and wrote to him. “I said, ‘You have a [security] hole in your Web site. Here’s how to fix it. And, by the way, I write dispatch software,’ ” recalls Dorsey.


Cutting Out the Middle Men: The most efficient way to spend money on the homeless might be to give it to them

The Economist, November 4, 2010

One asked for a new pair of trainers and a television; another for a caravan on a travellers’ site in Suffolk, which was duly bought for him. Of the 13 people who engaged with the scheme, 11 have moved off the streets. The outlay averaged £794 ($1,277) per person (on top of the project’s staff costs). None wanted their money spent on drink, drugs or bets. Several said they co-operated because they were offered control over their lives rather than being “bullied” into hostels. Howard Sinclair of Broadway explains: “We just said, ‘It’s your life and up to you to do what you want with it, but we are here to help if you want.’”


Intent! It’s Fucking Magic!

by Genderbitch for QuestioningTransphobia.com, February 3, 2010

Today, someone said a slur. It actually doesn’t matter what slur it was, because you see, he didn’t intend to hurt anyone and therefore it couldn’t possibly be a slur. Much like how intent magically protects the actions of all privileged fuckjobs, intent means that anything you say, no matter how many groups it hurts, what awful views it enables, no matter what systemic bigotries it props up through the usage of language that enforces social concepts that crush a marginalized group, it mystically negates all of that.

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