Saturday, December 30, 2006

regarding the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC)

Summary: the OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) project desires to sell $100 laptops to developing country governments, with which to educate their children into 21st century digerati and close the gap between global North and South.

I'm pessimistic. Herewith my commentary, as posted within

The Cult of the Individual and the OLPC

I have been following the OLPC project with some interest. I've read through chunks of this Wiki and various public articles. I've also read the article in the MIT Quarterly publication.

I fear that the OLPC team will come up with a great technological achievement that will be a dismal failure at deployment time.

The sociocultural baggage carried by the OLPC ("One Laptop Per Child") may well get in the way of the project's own objectives.

OLPC is essentially individualist. Empower the child through access to advanced information technology . . . and get out of the way.

However, in the bulk of the world, children are not seen as individuals and, just as important, do not see themselves as individuals. The essential social relation is that of the family and NOT of the individual. The poorer the family, the stronger the family bond, as long as the family itself has hope of survival. Children are expected to contribute, and do contribute, to the survival of the family. Children also represent the investment capital of the family -- to the extent that children go to school, it is in order to improve their skills and earning power to support their parents in their old age.

An African proverb sums this up best: "Me against my brother; me and my brother against my family; me and my family against my village; me and my village against my tribe; me and my tribe against my country; me and my country against the world."

The involvement of the family group in the OLPC project is essential. Will the older brother watch the cows so that younger brother can spend more time on the OLPC? Does Father's need to keep his small business books on the OLPC override his son's need to learn to read? Will the OLPC end up used primarily as a backlight so that Mother can keep sewing into the evening?

To introduce the OLPC into the family without considering the effects on the family -- and the village, and the tribe -- is to add yet another destabilizing influence. From the perspective of the individual (and of the Western 'cult of the individual') this is a positive factor.

From the perspective of the actual gatekeepers and stakeholders in the OLPC process, from Ministers of Education through regional train-the-trainers, local schoolteachers, village elders, heads of household and their families . . not necessarily so.

No one in authority feels that they will gain from something that diminishes that authority, no matter the apparent good that "other people" might derive from it.

I am concerned that the local petty authorities will -- correctly if the technology is haphazardly deployed -- see the OLPC as a disruptive, destabilizing influence and either "lose" the OLPCs, sell them on what will clearly be a hot black market, or (perhaps worst) lock them in a closet and only let kids handle them when a dust plume from a visiting inspector's vehicle is seen on the horizon.

The alternative is to use the OLPC as what sociologists call a "change agent." Make the OLPC accessible and usable by the entire family group. Tackle the equally arduous challenge of adult literacy at the same time as educating the next generation. If the parents get X amount of good out of the OLPC, they will be more likely to support their children in getting exponentially more good (X to the Y) out of the OLPC, even if they never quite understand the benefits themselves.

To misquote Shakespeare, my advice to the project team is "Get thee to a sociologist, quick!"

In all seriousness, the initial deployment in each major cultural grouping (which may be several per country!) should include a researcher with local language skills and some exposure to ethnographic techniques and/or anthropology, tasked to get feedback not only from students and teachers but from the communities in which the OLPCs are deployed.

Social facts are exactly that -- facts, which the outsider ignores at the very real risk of failure.

[drewkitty] M.A. [degree], University of California, Irvine (I am no longer affiliated with UCI and my opinions are my own.)

Monday, December 25, 2006

How To Win The War On Terror

Let's assume that a War on Terror is a good idea. This is a huge assumption. I've written oodles on the idea that declaring "war" on anything is a recipe for utter failure and disaster, for reasons ranging from reification to the government agency budget cycle. The utter success and minimal cost of the War on Drugs certainly shows that "Wars" are a great way to solve embedded sociological problems. NOT.

Now, let's go back to the dictionary.

War. 1 a (1) : a state of usually open and declared armed hostile conflict between states or nations (2) : a period of such armed conflict (3) : STATE OF WAR b : the art or science of warfare c (1) obsolete : weapons and equipment for war (2) archaic : soldiers armed and equipped for war . . . 2 a : a state of hostility, conflict, or antagonism b : a struggle or competition between opposing forces or for a particular end a class war a war against disease

Terror. 1 : a state of intense fear 2 a : one that inspires fear : SCOURGE b : a frightening aspect c : a cause of anxiety : WORRY d : an appalling person or thing; especially : BRAT. . . 4 : violent or destructive acts (as bombing) committed by groups in order to intimidate a population or government into granting their demands insurrection and revolutionary terror

Let's go with War 2(b) and Terror (4) to get a definition for the War on Terror.

"a struggle . . . between opposing forces or for a particular end [against] violent or destructive acts [ . . ] committed by groups in order to intimidate a population or government into granting their demands"

I see several ways of achieving this.

1) Identify and destroy the terrorist groups. This implies a working intelligence apparat with the necessary tools (i.e. SpecOps) and national will (i.e. politicians with balls). The latter, America has. The former, we do not.

2) Harden populations and governments so that terrorist demands will be ignored and never granted. This requires that the majority of governments around the world actually be in tune with their populations. There are some problems with this:

a) Most of our "allies" in the developing world are NOT popular governments. The population and the government do NOT agree, and the latter stays in power because of activity by the security forces largely financed by the United States and Europe.

b) Many of the terrorist demands that are made, seem reasonable to a chunk of people around the world. Palestinians, fanatic Muslims, the governments of Syria and Iran, etc. are in agreement with certain terrorist goals.

We must either change their minds, or kill them all. In a "War" there is no middle ground. Direct occupation of Islamic territory is ruinously expensive (c.f. Iraq) and massacre is not only morally bankrupt, but likely to have very negative long-term effects for the so-called victors.

Any weapon can be used in two ways. You can use a weapon to kill and destroy. You can use a weapon to change a person's mind, temporarily, by threatening them with it.

I submit that there is no threat that will permanently change the mind of a religious fanatic.

So if threats do not work, how about bribery?

Don't laugh. Paying people to not commit acts of terror is a popular tradition of the Western liberal democracy. We call it by various names: public education, food stamps, student loans, welfare, the GI Bill, etc. What it is, however, is direct payments to those people who do not presently support themselves by work, that feeds them anyway.

I'm not fond of the idea of paying Danegeld. But this is what we do now when we purchase oil from the Middle East. The problem is that a tithe (literally) of the money that goes into the gas tank of your SUV, pays for the training camps and the IEDS.

Let's do a Marshall Plan for the Middle East. The goal is to consciously and deliberately corrupt the Islamic world. Broadcast not only Voice of America, but the BBC and CNN in hundreds of languages. Put up a few satellites over the Arab nations for the express purpose of giving satellite links to schools, Internet cafes, opposition groups, etc. Air-drop AM and FM hand-crank radios to every village in Asia and Africa. Develop a solid curriculum for education to the American high school level, in all the languages of interest (Arabic, Farsi, etc.) and start broadcasting it for free. Use the Chinese village satellite pack (two solar panels, a deep cycle battery, a TV, satellite dish and receiver, with inverter) and start giving them away. Pop! Instant high school in a box.

Baywatch is already the ideological Marine landing on the beachhead of the Islamist. Crank up the tit power and start broadcasting free hard-core porn, mixed with a bit of street level education about freedom of speech and democracy. Focus at first on Saudi Arabia, where the locals are already so obsessed with porn that they dial up into AOL in the United States over cellular links to evade national-level censorship.

We can't do anything about Ahmed the terrorist. We can do something about Ahmed's brothers and sisters and cousins, and the opinion of his community.

Today: "Celebrate! Ahmed has gloriously given his life to fight the American infidels! He will eat and drink in Paradise! Who will take up the fight against the evil of the Westerners and their heresies?" (Me! Me!)

Tomorrow: "Oh, the poor Ahmed family. They are so ashamed. Ahmed was killed by Americans when he tried to bomb a convoy. He should have known better. The Westerners and their ideas are everywhere. Life in the villages has become so much better since the Americans dug the new well and installed the satellite dish. We see that the Americans are people, just like us."

Sunday, December 24, 2006

LJ-Cut tag functionality

I am consciously giving up one thing in the move from LJ to blogspot -- the illusion of privacy in posting "friends only."

I don't want to give up the usefulness of the LJ-cut tag. However, implementing this is beyond me on a Christmas Eve.

Interlude: Boundaries

Interlude: Boundaries
Deviant Survival Guide
Copyright 2006 by drewkitty

[Author's Comment: it has not escaped my notice that I seem to have a life filled with people who have boundary issues, that my profession involves the enforcement and maintenance of boundaries, and last but not least, that my worst problems have been with people who are either blissfully oblivious to boundaries, or simply do not care enough to recognize that they exist. So this is a bit more personal, but in my arrogant opinion, no less relevant.]

Boundaries are about the difference between driving over the yellow line because you don't see it, and knowing that you're driving over the yellow line but not giving a damn.

Accordingly, here is some advice, which is worth what was paid for it.

  • I own my actions. You own your actions. Unless your duties involve calling me to account for my actions, don't try. I will disrespect your attempt. I may even mock you. If I am feeling particularly patient, I may choose to explain the boundaries involved . . . but then again, I may not.
  • You own your feelings. The management (that would be me) assumes neither responsibility nor obligation for any feelings you may choose to have or not have.
  • I do not set out to hurt other people's feelings. Nor do I treat adult people as fragile cockleshells that would crumple under the weight of a drewkitty thought. Treating people, and especially young women, as if they are fragile and helpless is the fastest way to make them so in fact, and make it easier for predators to victimize them.
  • "As brethren, fight ye." My friends do not have to be friends with each other. However, I expect fights to be fair and within reasonable boundaries intended to minimize drama and splashback on innocent bystanders. (I am not an innocent bystander in direct proportion to my involvement.)
  • Incoming fire has the right of way. Friendly fire isn't.
  • You have the right to negative emotions about me. You have the right to express these to me, within appropriate boundaries and in the context of any interpersonal relationship we may have. Your negative emotions do not privilege you to be rude to third parties, or to behave like an asshat, or to break rules you've agreed to (such as convention policies) or for that matter, the law.
  • As in a duel, if you choose to exchange fire with me, once you have taken your best shot you are expected to stand your ground like a gentleman (or lady) and take fire in return. If not, I won't make you . . . but I'll lose all respect for you.
  • You may ask for my time and energy. I may choose to offer it. I may choose not to. The only people who can demand my time and energy, and get away with it, are my employer and those few persons who have a deep friendship or romantic relationship with me. Even they are advised to consider whether they are loading the drewkitty with more than he can bear -- and I will tell them so, because we have a trust level that can support this.
  • Everyone manipulates. What matters is what one chooses to manipulate for. I choose consciously to manipulate situations in such a way that the best results occur for everyone. My people come first, myself second, innocent bystanders third and active aggressors / asshats a distant fourth.
  • I place a high value on truth. Lying to me is a fast way to get on my shit list. I don't have time to sort through bullshit. Neither do you. The clock is ticking, Death waits for us all, and Satan laughs every time a lie hurts a person.
  • Don't ask me unless you want the truth. However, I will listen to almost any question, and will usually give a thoughtful answer. The answer will be true, but may not be complete.
  • "Never do an enemy a small injury." If I did you a small injury, sorry. The good news is that you're probably not my enemy.
  • I don't have many enemies. It takes hard work and long effort to become a foe of mine. However, once someone achieves this vaunted status, I shall never forget and shall always plan accordingly. If I am ever found dead, at least one of my enemies will be very surprised to be speaking to the homicide detectives.
  • Users will find that they can take advantage of me for about twice as long as they can most ordinary people. However, they will also find that once I finally wise up, my tolerance turns to implacable disdain, which I can with difficulty override if there seems to be a good reason. (Rarely.)
  • I like making good things happen to and for people. I am resigned to the idea that it does not work the other way around. But don't expect me to be cheerful about this.
  • "The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off." I strongly believe this quote by Solomon Short (David Gerrold). "The defining quality of truth is its ability to disturb."
  • I have good reason to keep the secrets that I do. Don't be offended if you ask about a secret, minor or major, and I simply tell you, "Sorry, I can't share that with you." I may be able to explain why, I may not. Either way, if you take it personally, I have to assume that you're the type of person who can't be trusted with secrets.
  • I have a very, very high tolerance for deviant behavior. Never assume that this tolerance extends to my professional life, or to obscene behavior in public that offends or hurts others.
  • Last but not least, the drama llama feeds on injudicious and hasty comments, especially online. Think before you post. Admit it when (not if) you screw up. Being right is the booby prize -- no one wants to hang with someone who is right all the time. One reason I have so few real friends. It would be funny, but it's not.

Practicum: (Counter-)Terrorism Survival

Practicum: (Counter-)Terrorism Survival
Deviant Survival Guide
Copyright 2006 by drewkitty

I am ashamed to have to write this post. I'm embarrassed for my government, for the lack of moral courage exhibited by most politicians and many judges and most police officers. (I am unsurprised by the total corporate roll-over -- it's in their interest.)

But I am very scared for my friends, not just my friends who are out there but my kin in spirit, the weirdos and very different people and those who don't like being conformist but are still good people.

Herewith: counter terrorism and what it will mean to you as a deviant.

Terrorism is the use of force to achieve a political or ideological objective.

Counter terrorism should be the use of lavish government resources and necessary force to hunt down and incapacitate those who would employ the techniques and tactics of terrorism. I have no problem with counter-intelligence agents infiltrating legitimate political organizations in order to pursue terrorists. I have no problem with unlimited roving wiretaps in the hands of counter terrorism task forces. I do have a BIG problem with extending these powers WITH NO OVERSIGHT to a newly minted Federal government agency filled with rabid fanatics.

Counter terrorism is the excuse being used to justify outrageous and unlimited expansions of the power of government. You no longer enjoy your Fourth Amendment right to "be secure in your persons, places and personal effects." Your home (or computer) may be tossed by Federal agents because they feel like it. If they find anything they consider "suspicious" (NOT UNLAWFUL) they can initiate an investigation, detain you on what may well turn into an indefinite basis, and wreck your life.

Here is a list of some of the behaviors that public and private agents are expected to report to law enforcement designated Terrorism Officers immediately:

  • Suspicious persons around or near your home or workplace.
  • Unusual dress, behavior or mannerisms.
  • Confrontation with local, state or Federal officials.
  • Any behavior that is not consistent with others in the area.
  • New persons in your neighborhood with no obvious means of employment.
  • Attendance at political or ideological rallies.
  • Cars with bumper stickers for unpopular political or ideological causes.
  • Passing out flyers or leaflets regarding unpopular political or ideological issues.
  • Engaging in conversations on controversial subjects.
  • Holding secret meetings.
  • Discussions of bombs, weapons or terrorism in public.
  • Unrelated persons living in the same apartment or house.
  • Paying rent in cash. Paying bills in cash. Renting a car with cash.
  • Having no fixed address or visible means of support.
  • Having multiple cell phones, radio scanners or amateur radio equipment.

Do you fit any of these profiles? Do you see any problems with this?

My friends, please take great care to avoid fitting any of the terrorist profiles. Get to know your neighbors. Be polite to authority figures. Maintain a valid address and know the names of two solid citizens who will vouch for you. Be ready to blend in. Keep your IDs and registrations current.

And last but not least, if you see any of the following real signs of real terrorist activity, call security, police and/or 911 at once and be ready to report your location and your concern:

  • persons with binoculars, still or video cameras, and/or recording devices sitting in vehicles or conducting surveillance of public buildings or major terrorist targets (NOT Podunk Courthouse -- think more like the Transamerica Building in SF) [surveillance]
  • one or more persons in a public place who are moving quickly and oddly, referring to a stopwatch as they do so, and engaging in inexplicable behavior such as walking to a spot, reaching down, and walking away quickly -- especially if the person(s) are then picked up by a car which races away [rehearsal]
  • unauthorized persons asking about security procedures, techniques or practices -- especially emergency response and evacuations [social engineering]
  • any unknown person inside a secured area with a badging policy who is not displaying a visible badge, REGARDLESS OF CLOTHING (business suit, coveralls, toolbox, etc. irrelevant) [penetration exercise / casing]
  • any abandoned package in any secure public venue such as a BART station, train station, airport, etc. -- THIS JUSTIFIES GETTING IMMEDIATE HELP FROM ANY EMPLOYEE (train operator, station agent, ticket clerk) [bomb]
  • any vehicle, but especially a van or truck parked illegally in an unusual spot, especially next to a high-rise building or a venue with large numbers of people in it [bomb]
  • if said vehicle smells of fertilizer, fuel oil, or unusual chemicals, RUN LIKE HELL [pray]
  • if you see people falling down or throwing up or twitching, DON'T go over to help -- RUN LIKE HELL [hazmat]
  • if you hear gunfire, FIRST take cover, then run away, THEN call for help [overt attack]
  • last but not least, the most important sign of a real terrorist attack:


  • except in downtown New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago . . . where alert security and police officers have in sober point of fact, stopped terrorists using these guidelines

I would love to see the next terrorist attack aborted or stopped by some punk rockers, drug dealers and/or anarchist skinheads.

Lecture 9: Personal Security and Defense

Lecture 9: Personal Security and Defense
Deviant Survival Guide
Copyright 2006 by drewkitty

[Author's Comment: I wrote parts of this in reaction to a gay-bashing attack. I teach defensive tactics to security personnel.]

When you are subjected to unlawful attack . . .

Yes, I said WHEN. The average person can expect to be unlawfully attacked at least once in their life. Deviants run much higher on the percentages of attacks REPORTED, which is a fraction of the attacks that actually HAPPEN.

So, WHEN you are attacked:

1) DO NOT RELY ON ANYONE TO SAVE YOU. Mobile 911 in particular is very problematic. The 911 operators at the California Highway Patrol Golden Gate dispatch center in Vallejo have very high stress levels as the result of being forced to hear people injured, beaten, dying or even killed, and never getting enough location information to send them the correct police and EMS agencies.

Enhanced cellular 911 is being slowly phased in, but many cities and agencies do not have it yet.
Program into your mobile phone the seven-digit local number for your local police dispatcher (in the front of the white pages). Then all you have to do is dial and say, "Help! I'm being attacked by two men at Fulton and Lombard." The local police dispatcher can put this out on the radio in seconds -- knowing what you're talking about -- instead of you telling the local PSAP dispatcher what city you're in, being transferred to the correct agency, and then having to tell the whole story again.

Also, even from a landline telephone, the police may have delayed response times depending on local call volume and number of units available. So they may show up in time to save your life, but not in time for you to avoid crippling injury.

Realize however that once the bad guys have left the scene, it is no longer an emergency -- unless you have reason to believe that they'll come back. This means that the PD may take a half-hour to an hour to get to you to take a report.

My current record for hold time (literally, with hold music!) with a life and death 911 call via our local California Highway Patrol is seven (7) minutes. (I needed EMS and fire for an extrication and was traveling on the freeway out of area, not sure which city I was in.)

2) Your objective when attacked by multiple attackers is survival. "Even Hercules cannot fight two." Break contact. In other words, run. If you can't get away, protect your head and spine, curl up if knocked to the ground, and scream. Don't let your ego get in the way of your survival. Don't feel guilty about not fighting back.

I can't emphasize this enough.


3) If you decide to fight back against multiple attackers, realize that you are escalating the incident. If they're going to cripple or kill you anyway, you have nothing to lose. However, it is difficult for the ordinary citizen to quickly and seamlessly transition from saying "Excuse me" when bumping into someone, into the kind of person who will ruthlessly smash in faces with their elbows, jab out eyes with a thumb, and kick off kneecaps. That is what is necessary to prevail against multiple assailants. And consider what they will do to you if you lose -- SO DON'T LOSE. If you fight back, in the belief that you are protecting yourself from serious or fatal injury, THERE ARE NO RULES. Stop fighting only when you can safely escape or all of your foes are hors de combat. This is a French term that means, loosely translated, "fucked up beyond the ability to hurt you."

4) In nearly all parts of the world, an ordinary citizen cannot use deadly force to reply to a simple assault. Displaying a firearm in a fistfight immediately ups the ante and may defuse the incident -- or turn it into a shooting incident or even a gunfight in which all parties die. Don't laugh, it happens. I recall one incident where three men died over a 5 cent discrepancy in the price of an ice cream cone.

I fully approve of people who make the thoughtful choice to go armed. Get the proper training and go through the permit process to lawfully carry a concealed firearm. These issues will be discussed in depth during your training.

However, NEVER carry a weapon as a "magic bullet" or a rabbit's foot. Weapons kill (even the non-lethal ones after someone gets it away from you, hits you with it, and then kicks you to death), and many police are killed with their own weapons. Only carry a weapon after being trained in its proper use -- and proper NOT-use.

If you become a victim, others can best speak to how to help you deal with your feelings about the situation.

It sucks that we live in a world with predators in it. Don't accept the label of victim, before or especially after the fact.

Interlude: On Photo IDs

Interlude: On Photo IDs
Deviant Survival Guide
Copyright 2006 by drewkitty

[Author's Comments: easier to carry a photo ID? Yes. Consider the power of the passport. State IDs and DLs can be checked easily through CLETS and its brethren. Passports, less so. Is a corporate or other non-governmental ID an option available to you? Student IDs can also be helpful.]

I have never seen anything in California law that requires a private person to possess a photo ID at all times, that has not been thrown out by the Supreme Court. You do, however, have to provide your name when asked by a peace officer in the performance of their duties, investigating whether or not a crime has been committed.

You can be required to provide ID in order to travel, operate a motor vehicle, do certain types of financial transactions, etc. Of course you can refuse to do such things, but you will find it increasingly difficult to operate in mainstream society.

I'm talking about CPC 647(e) (scroll down for it) that was thrown out by KOLENDER v. LAWSON, 461 U.S. 352 (1983)

647. Every person who commits any of the following acts is guilty of disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor:
(e) Who loiters or wanders upon the streets or from place to place without apparent reason or business and who refuses to identify himself or herself and to account for his or her presence when requested by any peace officer so to do, if the surrounding circumstances would indicate to a reasonable person that the public safety demands this identification.

Performing duties as a security officer -- you bet you'd better have a photo ID to match your licenses, particularly if you're lawfully armed.

My understanding in California is that: (1) being a homeless person is an apparent reason to be in public for 647e; (2) being able to articulate any intent to perform a lawful act lets you off the hook as well; and (3) [most important to people like me] there is no requirement that a person show ID, only that they identify themselves and answer reasonable questions if stopped by a peace officer.

For the messy legal details regarding (3) please see:
in which the Supreme Court agreed that states can pass laws allowing for the arrest of a person detained for investigation of a crime, who refuses to or cannot identify themselves.

In plain English the Christian Science Monitor (again) has a good summary: and from that article . . .

"In upholding his conviction and the mandatory identity-disclosure law, the majority justices also said the law only requires that a suspect disclose his or her name, rather than requiring production of a driver's license or other document."

Here's a link to the actual opinion.

From the Court's opinion:

"Four Terms later, the Court invalidated a modified stop and identify statute on vagueness grounds. See Kolender v. Lawson, 461 U.S. 352 (1983). The California law in Kolender required a suspect to give an officer "credible and reliable" identification when asked to identify himself. Id., at 360. The Court held that the statute was void because it provided no standard for determining what a suspect must do to comply with it, resulting in "virtually unrestrained power to arrest and charge persons with a violation." Id., at 360 (quoting Lewis v. New Orleans, 415 U.S. 130, 135 (1974) (Powell, J., concurring in result)).

The present case begins where our prior cases left off. Here there is no question that the initial stop was based on reasonable suspicion, satisfying the Fourth Amendment requirements noted in Brown. Further, the petitioner has not alleged that the statute is unconstitutionally vague, as in Kolender. Here the Nevada statute is narrower and more precise. The statute in Kolender had been interpreted to require a suspect to give the officer "credible and reliable" identification.

In contrast, the Nevada Supreme Court has interpreted NRS §171.123(3) to require only that a suspect disclose his name. See 118 Nev., at ___, 59 P.3d, at 1206 (opinion of Young, C. J.) ("The suspect is not required to provide private details about his background, but merely to state his name to an officer when reasonable suspicion exists"). As we understand it, the statute does not require a suspect to give the officer a driver's license or any other document. Provided that the suspect either states his name or communicates it to the officer by other means “a choice, we assume, that the suspect may make“ the statute is satisfied and no violation occurs. See id., at ___, 59 P.3d, at 1206-1207."

Also, you may also be interested in the discussion here: No duty for Americans to have or carry IDs (upheld in court since the September 11th 2001 terrorist attacks in Carey v. Nevada Gaming Control Board, (2002) - 9th Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, referencing their previous decision in Lawson v. Kolender, 658 F.2d 1362 (9th Cir. 1981) [which was upheld by the Supreme Court in Kolender v. Lawson, 461 U.S. 352, 361-62 (1983)], explained that government demands that US persons identify themselves to government agents violate the Fourth Amendment because "as a result of the demand for identification, the statutes bootstrap the authority to arrest on less than probable cause, and [because] the serious intrusion on personal security outweighs the mere possibility that identification might provide a link leading to arrest").

Lecture 8: Physical Security Techniques

Lecture 8: Physical Security Techniques
Deviant Survival Guide
Copyright 2006 by drewkitty

Physical security is a standard. There are several excellent public-domain guides on it. The best is probably FM 3-19.30 which can be accessed at the following URL:

Physical security is intended to accomplish three objectives:

1) deter
2) detect
3) delay

Deter: cause people with ill intent to give up the idea as a bad one.

Detect: serve as a tripwire to alert you and yours to a problem

Delay: to buy time to throw on a robe, call 911 and get out the shotgun. Or lock yourself in the safe room and work on your mad prayer skillz.

I will add a fourth near and dear to the hearts of deviants.

4) document

Document: to provide proof of the unlawful acts of opponents and/or law enforcement agents, in such a way that it cannot be easily lost or destroyed or devolve into a "disgusting pervert said vs. fine upstanding young officers of the law said."

On the other side of the fence, so to speak I gaaked this from a raver Web site. Anyone want to see it fleshed out? Warning: I'm down for some of this stuff, but other parts are so illegal it's scary. In California it's a felony to direct a laser at an aircraft, for starters.

"Public Safety for Rave Organizers" [coming to a rave near you]

"It sounds to me like a lot of good ideas are coming up here that could help prevent or at least hinder future State-Sponsored Domestic Terrorism. It seems to me like a seminar is in order to include:

Surveillance Technology

  • Hand-Held Video: Protection and Caching
  • Cheap Disposables: Party favors that can protect you
  • Cell-Phone Cameras: Snap and Mail before they beat you down
  • Web-Cams: Live feed and uplink; concealment
  • Early Warning Systems

Ground Force:

  • Pinkertons: The benefits of armed private security
  • Arresting the Arrestor: Legal issues
  • Aircraft Denial: Land modification to prevent helicopter landing
  • Electric Fences: You've got the voltage!
  • Dogs: Use and Defense
  • Tear Gas: Lessons from anarchist street ninjas on how to survive a tear gas attack relatively unharmed

Leverage of Existing Technology:

  • PA control: How to harden remote feed
  • Light Shows as Anti-Aircraft Devices
  • Directed Volume as a Defensive System
  • Laser Deployment
  • Ultra-Sonic Feedback as Canine Deterrent
  • Hidden Powers of Foam

Legal Issues:

  • Dotting your Is, Crossing your Ts
  • Lawyer Presence: Pros and Cons
  • Posse Comitatus and Justifiable Force

I'm not fleshing these out for two reasons.

1) Dual use. A lot of this is as useful to serious bad guys as to the lighthearted deviant. The life of the SWAT team is hard enough without this kind of stuff floating around, in the kind of detail that makes wannabes into players.

2) Do your own homework, if you really need the stuff. But don't expect me to join you in court, either as an expert witness or as an accessory.

Practicum: Listening

Practicum: Listening
Deviant Survival Guide
Copyright 2006 by drewkitty

I'm going to get into a bit of communications theory here.

There is always one form of communication that requires neither an active listener, nor any communication. Violence. This form of communication has major drawbacks, as it is usually illegal, always dangerous, and can have life-altering or even fatal consequences.


In order to communicate effectively, you have to know how to listen. Any communication is a two way street. Many, many people end up shouting past each other, neither of them listening and few of them understanding.

Also, the deviant has to be better at communicating than the average mundane. A mundane can always rely on the bounds of tradition, custom and common sense to resolve an issue. Deviants often find themselves in special situations where normal customs do not apply or common sense applied to an uncommon event would make matters worse.

In order to figure out how to best communicate with a mundane or another deviant (such as a police officer), the first task is to listen and gather as much verbal and non-verbal information as you can.

Look at the person. Look at their body language. You can pretty much sort them by two categories: the degree to which they are threatened, and the degree to which they are open or closed to communication.

Not Threatened, Closed

  • This person is like the busy subway commuter on the train, or the clerk who says "Next, please" in a bored tone of voice. They are not really there, kind of floating through the situation. They are unlikely to listen or even to notice anything outside their parameters.

Not Threatened, Open

  • A person good at customer service works hard to be in this mode. A friendly concierge, a librarian, a volunteer greeter, etc. They are noticing and listening. Many people can only be brought into this mode by persuading them that it is in their best interest to listen. This is the classic skill of the salesperson, the con artist, and the successful deviant -- to wake people up enough to listen, but not so much that they feel threatened.

Threatened, Closed

  • A good example of this is a protestor at a noisy street demonstration. They are not listening, being too busy with an agenda to push. You can also think of a person being harassed by a salesperson. Their body language is jerky and literally closed-up (think of arms crossed). They are not interested in listening, and if they are talking, they are talking "to the world" with no concern about communicating with a particular person.

Threatened, Open

  • Most police officers during a traffic stop are in this mode. So are most criminals who are about to resort to violence. This is a person who has a script for how things are going to go, and if the encounter goes off their perconceived script, they consider violence among their options to get the encounter back on script -- or an escalation in violence they are already using. Notice that they are listening -- but what use they make of the information is likely to be tactical and not driven by higher thought processes. They are particularly prone to mishear . . . a gang member says, "What are you looking at?" and the person says "Uh . . . nothing" in a scared tone. The gang member attacks, because he heard "nothing" in the sense of "not a person" rather than what was meant i.e. "I really don't want you to hurt me, please leave me alone."

Notice that communicating with a person who feels threatened is very, very difficult. So one of the first communications problems is to remove the potential threat from the equation. In verbal judo, a variety of techniques are taught for this.

I will give you one here: keep your distance! With most members of the dominant culture, someone coming into their personal space can't help but trigger threat concerns.

Others include personalizing the situation. Spider Robinson tells about a time when he was in a burned-out neighborhood in New Jersey as a kid, and this huge black guy walked up to him while he was waiting at a bus stop. He was literally terrified and managed to blurt out, "Crosstown bus run all night long?" To which the huge but ultimately nice, likable guy immediately replied "Doo-dah! Doo-dah!" completing the "Camptown Races" song of several decades ago. Both laughed long and loud, and the tension immediately dissolved.

Other ways to personalize are to show empathy, to make a small candid admission ("Yes, officer, I wasn't watching the speedometer that closely.") and to mention friends or family. "My sister is a figure skating fan, too." Evil scumbags are not generally thought of as having sisters.

Small compliments that cannot even be slightly conceived as sexual are often very helpful.

One of the phrases I often use at work is "Wow, that's a really nice [prohibited object]." This opens them up when I have to say the next sentence, "but I'm sorry, cameras are not allowed past the front lobby." In my experience, you can always safely compliment a mother's children, a guy's vehicle or a woman's shoes. If that doesn't work, try commenting on the weather.

Converting a person from closed to open is a whole nother lecture. Any good sales book gets into that at more depth than I can.

Just as you must crawl before you walk, you must listen before you speak.

Interlude: Charlie Tango

Interlude: Charlie Tango
Deviant Survival Guide
Copyright 2006 by drewkitty

Every now and again, I find something online that should be part of the Deviant Survival Guide.
This is the most important link I will give out all year. Go read this. This nine screenfuls will, if considered, immediately raise your social IQ by ten to thirty points.

"Conversational Terrorism"

"... The intent of detailing and naming these insidious tactics is so that the reader may AVOID USING THEM, to quickly recognize if someone else is using them, and for fun. There is much humor in the way people (consciously or unconsciously) conversationally cheat. It is hoped that exposing these tactics will help muzzle the growing abuse in our conversational landscape . . .
They have been grouped by major category, with the best (worst!) saved for last.

"First, we have the Ad Hominem Variants where you attack the person as a way to avoid truth, science, or logic which might otherwise prove you wrong.

"Next are the Sleight of Mind Fallacies, which act as "mental magic" to make sure the unwanted subject disappears.

"Then, we move on to Delay Tactics, which are subtle means to buy time when put on the spot.

"Then, the ever popular Question as Opportunity ploys, where any question can be deftly averted.

"Finally, we have the Cheap Shot Tactics and Irritants, which are basically 'below the belt' punches."

Interlude: The Authoritarian Reading List

Interlude: The Authoritarian Reading List
Deviant Survival Guide
Copyright 2006 by drewkitty

You may find the following books and documents of interest. The entry level agent authorized to employ deadly force in defense of the government is required to read them. So should you. Links to Amazon etc. as appropriate.



United States Marine reading list

Practicum: The Federal Agent

Practicum: The Federal Agent
Deviant Survival Guide
Copyright 2006 by drewkitty

Everything I've said about police applies to Federal agents, except that their tactical and people skills generally suck ass.

They make up for it with enormous and broad powers combined with a much higher level of bureaucratic and administrative competence.

This section is largely taken from a linked article courtesy of a well known security list. My earlier version was, "If you are being spoken to by a police officer after you have been arrested, or a police detective or investigator (or agent) at any time, SHUT THE F@#% UP AND STAY SHUT THE F@#%'D UP. The only words that will come out of your mouth, aside from the veriest trivia such as 'My cuffs are way tight' or 'May I use the bathroom?' [No.] shall be 'I'm sorry, I can't answer any questions without my attorney present."

from: on being interrogated by Federal agents

"Whether you speak, what you say and how and when you say it can have a profound effect on your future when you find yourself involved in a [Federal] investigation."

Is there an intelligent alternative to lying or telling the truth that we have not yet examined?

Yes. In our hypothetical interview, you can politely decline to be interviewed by the FBI agent.

Tell the agent that you have an attorney and that "my attorney will be in contact with you." If the agent persists, say that you will not discuss anything without first consulting counsel. Ask for the agent's card, to give to your attorney. If you have not yet hired a lawyer, tell the agent that "I want to consult a lawyer first" or that "an attorney will be in touch with you."

The absolutely essential thing to keep in mind is to say nothing of substance about the matter under investigation.

It is preferable to do this by politely declining to be interviewed in the absence of counsel.

And then what?

If the agent asks "why do you need an attorney?" or "what do you have to hide?" do not take his bait and directly respond to such questions. (Do not even say that you have nothing to hide.)

Simply state that you will not discuss the matter at all without first consulting counsel and that counsel will be in touch with him. If the agent asks for a commitment from you to speak with him after you have consulted or retained counsel, do not oblige him. Just respond that you will consult with your attorney (or "an" attorney) and that the attorney will be in touch. And by all means do not get bullied or panicked into making up a phony reason for refusing to talk. You are not obliged to explain your decision to anyone.

What if the FBI agent threatens to have you subpoenaed to the grand jury if you don't talk? Simply repeat your mantra that you will not discuss the matter with him in the absence of counsel. (If you are already represented tell the agent that you authorize your attorney to accept service of the subpoena. That way you will not have to be embarrassed at work by the FBI's service of a grand jury subpoena in broad daylight.) What if the agent already has a subpoena and serves you with it?
Thank him and tell him that your attorney will be in touch.

It is crucial to note that affirmatively declining to discuss the investigation in the absence of counsel is not the same thing as remaining completely silent. If you are not in custody, your total silence, especially in the face of an accusation, can very possibly be used against you as an adoptive admission under the Federal Rules of Evidence.

Your invocation of counsel, however, cannot be used against you at trial. United States v. McDonald, 620 F.2d 559, 561-64 (5th Cir. 1980). Your refusal to talk substance in the absence of counsel will force the prosecutor to decide whether your information is important enough to justify a grand jury subpoena for your testimony.

Lecture 4: Police and Public Control ('Men In Blue')

Lecture 4: Police and Public Control ('Men In Blue')
Deviant Survival Guide
Copyright 2006 by drewkitty

[Author's Comment: May I add that I'm very gratified to see the responses I've gotten from people . . . ego-boo is good for the kitty.]

The predominant agent of formal social control is the police officer.

To quote my father, "The streets are owned by young arrogant men with weapons. In an anarchy, they are barbarians. In a feudalism, they are warriors. In a monarchy, they are soldiers. In a democracy, they are police."

The (mostly) young and (nearly all) arrogant young (mostly men) with weapons in this discussion think of themselves very differently from how they are perceived by others.

As I touched on in my last lecture, you see a cop and you see power with a capital P. A handgun on the hip. The Motorola radio with the direct link to anything the cop thinks he needs -- a warrant check, backup, paramedics, a tow truck, the SWAT team, the National Guard . . . whatever.

To quote "Monster" Shakur, "We knew that the average pigmobile carried two guys with .38 revolvers and a shotgun. We had more firepower than that under our beds, for God's sake. But when the red and blue lit up, we rolled over and showed our backs like scared dogs."

But what you don't see -- and what is carefully concealed from the average person -- is that the beat cop is a harried peon, hands tied by rules and procedures and clever sergeants who were beat cops once and know all the tricks.

In any predator vs. prey confrontation (and never forget that to a police officer, a deviant is prey), the predator is running for his dinner, while the prey is running for its life. This means that believe it or not, you always have the edge. As long as the cop stays bored, you have the edge.

But if he gets a "hard-on" (the phrase often used by police officers to describe a hunch that he's dealing with a criminal), all Hell is out for noon. You are now in the position of disadvantage.

I would hasten to add that anyone silly enough to engage a police officer on the level of physical force is quite literally taking their life in their hands. You will lose. You may be seriously injured. You may be killed. And it will all be 100% legal as breathing. A police officer is trained to assert physical dominance and control over what s/he perceives as a potentially deadly situation. That means that they will -- in fact, must -- resort to a overwhelming barrage of physical and psychological coercion techniques to overcome any resistance. This sounds fine until you reflect that it very well may mean a cut on the inside of your right ear from the front sight of the officer's handgun.

You should only literally run from the police under one condition -- if you genuinely believe that if you are caught, you will be seriously injured or killed. This is an extremely rare and difficult situation, and you should consult with legal counsel as soon as you can to arrange for your prompt and proper surrender with witnesses and/or cameras running. Your odds of escape are not good. I am not teaching people how to run from the police; police pursuit shows do a good job of that. A suspect has a small chance of breaking contact if the physical description is poor, the officer is slow off the mark calling for help, the dispatcher is having a bad day and the air unit(s) are unavailable. Otherwise, the suspect is properly described as the arrested party -- with additional charges pending.

There are several excellent guides on how to behave yourself in an interaction with the police. I will not link to them here. Basically, it all comes down to the following two basics:

1) the cop is scared of you, and by relieving his fears, you avoid the possibility of violence

2) the cop is never your friend, and by trusting him, you guarantee that you will go to jail

The implication of (1) is that you should do everything you can to show that you are being polite, thoughtful and civilized. When you are pulled over, pull over as far right as you can, roll down driver's and passenger's windows, turn on the interior light, turn off the engine and headlights (turn on hazards if you are on the freeway), and put your hands in plain sight on the steering wheel. This creates the perfect traffic stop, puts the officer in a good mood, and makes it more likely that you will skate. Apply similar thoughtfulness if the officer is on foot, if you call out for an officer's help, etc.

The implication of (2) is that you should shut your Goddamn mouth!!! You may be the best bullshit artist since Jesus H. Christ walked the earth over two millenia ago, but you do not know the law as well as a cop does, nor do you have the practice at detecting lies that he does. Be civil, answer questions briefly but honestly, do not volunteer anything, and last but not least, if he asks you for permission to do anything, say something this:

"My buddy, who's a cop, told me that I should always say no, and that you'd understand."

Now if he does it anyway, that's fine. Let him. Never resist police actions of any kind. Say out loud, "I don't consent to this. You do not have my permission." but do not resist physically in any way, even slightly, unless you like the taste of blood mixed with asphalt.

If the traffic stop / consensual encounter / field interview / etc seems to not be going well, you can always ask if you're free to leave. If you are, shut up and leave. You win.

If you are not, you are either detained or arrested. Either way, shut up. If you're detained, the officer doesn't have probable cause for an arrest yet. Anything you say or do, including nothing, could justify that PC and end up in your arrest. So do and say nothing if you want to sleep in your own bed tonight. You are losing.

If you are arrested, you have said the last word you will say other than such trivia as "Excuse me, these cuffs are too tight, could you loosen them just a little?" You will not talk your way out of your arrest. Your lawyer will, at several hundred dollars per additional word that you say. So say nothing at all until the custody officer hands you the phone to make your three phone calls. You have lost.

If you are being asked questions after you are arrested, you will say the magic words.

The magic words are "I will not answer questions without my attorney present."

You will only say the magic words.

I am not kidding in any way.

A police detective is a person who has demonstrated bullshit skills that are impressive to fellow cops. You will not attempt to talk to a police detective unless you are looking forward to a long stay in prison. Are we clear on this? If there is one thing I want you to take from this lecture series, it is the magic words.

Now that we've covered the worst case scenarios, we can focus on what causes cops to get that hard-on I discussed earlier:

  • real or perceived threats to their own safety (!)
  • weapons, drugs, other illicit items
  • behavior that does not fit the neighborhood
  • evidence that you are a potential danger to yourself or others
  • behaviors that interfere with other people's rights or lawful business
  • unusual clothing, demeanor or oddities of style
  • bad attitudes, rude language, "mad dog" behaviors
  • excessive fear or trembling
  • a pretended casual attitude

These are the same indicators taught in police academies. So if you can avoid any of these, and you are not commiting any crimes, you are probably going to walk. Do I need to mention such trivia as current license registration, valid driver's license, no weapons or alcohol in the passenger compartment, etc??? I hope not.

I am assuming for this lecture series that your deviance is lawful in nature. If your deviance necessarily involves criminal acts, I strongly suggest that you either find a lawful way to get your kicks, or a safer hobby.

That said, you are going to want to have a mundane excuse prepared for any unusual behavior.

Scenario: you and a group of weird friends are going to night-hike up a canyon. You are stopped by the sheriff at the turn-off road.

Which excuse do you think will fly:

1) we're just out for the night air

2) my buddy wants to test his new night-vision glasses out

3) none of your business, we're just exercising our rights

4) we're visiting some friends

5) well, to be honest, we're out looking for ghosts

1) is a challenge to the deputy's ego. You know it's a lie, and you don't respect him enough to tell him a plausible lie.

2) is a more plausible lie, until you think about it for ten seconds. Why not test it out at home? Why do you need night vision gear? What are you, peeping toms? This stinks of falsehood.

3) Hope you like the taste of asphalt. 'Nuff said. The Constitution is a wonderful idea, but it will not save your ass at 3 AM. You are challenging the deputy's ego and implying that you're going to be non-compliant. Just who do you think is writing the arrest report? You?

4) works only if it's true. What are your friend's names? Where exactly do they live? Mind if I give them a call?

5) sounds crazy. But in the field, I used it and it worked. Because it was in fact the truth. Said in a slightly embarrassed way, "I know this is weird, but . . ." if it's true, it has the ring of truth. And if it's lawful, it may just fly. But be ready to back it up with facts and details (preferably without compromising OpSec.)

By the way, many police officers are fellow deviants. I loved the scene in that Presidents movie where the President is thanking the Secret Service sniper who saved his life, and saying what an honor it is to meet him. The sniper coughs discreetly and says, "Sir, we met before. Um, over the rainbow." (I.e. at the gay pride rally they hid in earlier in the movie.)

As long as you keep it within the law, cops have a great deal of tolerance for strangeness of all kinds. Some of them are weirdness magnets themselves. Most of them have seen everything. The occasional cop with an issue typically gets an attitude adjustment from their FTO or sergeant. If you are really having a problem with an officer, and you're sure it's an "-ism" issue, ask him to call for back-up and/or his sergeant. This itself may bring him to his senses.

Last but not least, what do you think the police do for a living?

They are society's clean up crew, social workers with guns. If the problem needs to be fixed, is making a mess, people are screaming or blood has been spilled, it's a cop problem. And they will act to fix it, just as much as it needs to be fixed. 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

People live for this job. People die for it, too. When you pick up a phone and dial three digits, highly trained and very brave people come running to help total strangers who mostly hate their guts.

Do you really think that the average cop doesn't have anything better to do than harass some mall rat or punk? Of course s/he does. But you're there, and you look like a safe, helpless target for a little aggression.

Far, far better to take the snide comment and slide on by than to end up in jail. But if you really want to get jiggy with it, you can do the whole police complaint, lawyer, media thing. And Goddess bless you if you do, but don't ask me for help. Go look at instead.

Don't be a cop problem. Live your life. Stay under their radar. Respect other people's rights.

Be respectful to authority but be who you are.

"Speak truth to power." Just not too much of it.

In the next lecture, we talk about the agents of social control who really run your life. Hint: you call them "boss."

Practicum: Media Manipulation

Practicum: Media Manipulation
Deviant Survival Guide
Copyright 2006 by drewkitty

I do not have time to re-launch the full Deviant Group Survival course, but I do want to say a few things about media manipulation.

The news media exists to perform a few essential functions:

  • make lots of money by selling ads
  • create and reinforce a mass illusion of reality, consistent with the ads
  • build the power and influence of the news media itself

All of the so-called "ethics" of the news media, such as integrity in reporting, protecting sources, etc. boils down to "Don't ruin it for the rest of us by taking short cuts, you dweeb!"

The media often blatantly panders to various political interests. The phrase "All The News That's Fit To Print" takes on a whole new, subtle and nasty meaning.

Fortunately, the Internet has made the news media all but obsolete among the keyboard-wielding set. However, the majority of people out there are NOT among them.

If you could trust the news media to synthesize with accuracy, they would perform a valuable public service. The analogy I will use is Burning Man. Ask a friend who attended what Burning Man was like, in a paragraph or so.

I will bet that your friend's answer will completely blow away any "media" answer, whether newspaper story, magazine article, TV segment, etc. -- because your friend is motivated to be honest with you, and was there with an open mind.

What do you know about the "Minuteman Project?" If you follow the major news media, you know that:

  • President Bush called them vigilantes
  • certain Latino politicians hate them
  • the Governator likes them
  • some of them have guns
  • they are at the international border somewhere in Arizona
  • high-ranking Border Patrol brass doesn't like them
  • they've interfered in Border Patrol operations
  • they're coming to California soon

What you probably don't know is that:

  • they specifically ban racists, white separatists, etc. from their project
  • all they do is call the Border Patrol when they see migrants
  • they have been credited with saving a number of lives by giving water and/or calling for medical attention
  • the California head of the Minuteman project is Latino
  • there are only a handful of Border Patrol agents in their operations area
  • the rank-and-file BP agents love them but don't dare admit it for fear of losing their jobs
  • rural Arizona is firearms-friendly, and not having a firearm would be like not wearing pants
  • members of the project have been specifically forbidden to brandish firearms or to attempt to make arrests for any reason

The media takes certain facts -- that some thoughtful if slightly crazed extremists are carrying out an observation-operation on the US-Mexico border -- and spins them at high torque to attract attention and sell ads. Only the extreme facts are newsworthy.

The media can be a deviant's best friend or worst enemy, having enormous power and very little that can be done to contradict the official "spin."

Hint: what is the Associated Press and why does it still exist?

Lecture 3: Agents of Social Control: Introduction

Lecture 3: Agents of Social Control: Introduction
Deviant Survival Guide
Copyright 2006 by drewkitty

I lied at the end of L2. I will be discussing the police in lecture L5. However, the police are not only agents of social control, they are the "last resort" agents of social control. Where all other means fail, the police are granted a monopoly on state-sanctioned aggressive violence.
We've talked around the definition of social control in L2, deliberately. People who first hear the concept tend to think of it as a monolitic mass, an Orwellian lock-step of the totalitarian regime. However, this is merely a flavor of social control -- "Stalin Lite: More Steel, Less Love, More Hate." Even the most democratic, egalitarian and even non-hierarchical societies (and never mind for the moment that matriarchies exist almost entirely in fiction) have extensive regimes of social control.

Without some elements of social control, society and civilization cannot exist. I can see the anarchists screaming already, "Hey, what about anarchy?" Anarchy is merely social control reduced to a comparative threat analysis -- is he bigger than me? Do I have heavier armament than he does? Does she have any friends who would revenge her? Not surprisingly, a real anarchy rapidly adopts a more authoritarian -- and less uncertain -- means of governance, such as feudalism.

Social control acts to reduce uncertainty and increase prediction in a social system. This is an essential point that bears harping on for a minute. Most of the major political and economic systems require some degree of predictive ability to work. In corrupt Colombia (or Los Angeles), you want to know that the bribe you paid today will equal favors tomorrow. In totalitarian regimes, the KGB-equivalent only has authority because you know that if you evade them, they'll get you -- eventually -- it's just a matter of time. In a democracy, you want to know that your representative will be motivated by future fear of your electoral displeasure, Diebold notwithstanding. And on the city streets of all three, the only thing that may protect you from that street punk with the knife is his concern that a cop car may be just around the next corner.

Good for you, bad for him.

The first step in Iraq in restoring social control -- and in countering any insurgent movement, not incidentally -- is to increase confidence among the common citizen that they can go to the market and buy food without being blown up; get to work without being machine-gunned; and have something to do other that sit around on your butts and talk politics, for lack of industrial work that needs to get done. This is increasing certainty in the social system. The insurgent is trying to throw a wrench in the works by setting off car bombs, disrupting industrial production, and randomly bombing markets. Chaos favors the weaker player.

I would add that the level of routine violence that can be tolerated by a "civilization," contrary to popular belief, is actually extremely high. Northern Ireland is an excellent example; with Israel serving as a current testbed. In World War II, the Germans, Japanese, British and Chinese continued to go to work every day with buildings coming down around their ears -- and in Stalingrad, workers in the tank factory repaired tanks in time for the tanks to shoot through the walls of the factory at advancing Germans. But the violence was predictable, and shielded as much as possible by regimes of social control. The otherwise useless air raid siren made the bombings psychologically predictable, and thus tolerable.

It is unpredictable violence, being struck down at random, that breaks civilizations. Rome survived being taken over by invader after invader, until the Goths came in and didn't know enough to take over the machinery of government, killing pretty much at random. Thus fell Rome. In Bosnia, the most feared enemy was the marketplace sniper. Everyone had to go and buy food. And every day, two or three people would be killed. But nobody knew who it would be, except that it might very well be them. Random violence is how you end up with entire nations (Bosnia, Cambodia) with PTSD.

So the first and foremost goal of any regime of social control is to assert a monopoly on violence. NEVER FORGET THIS. Even in America with a strong legal and social tradition of the right of self defense, violence is seen as a proper monopoly of the government. (You may want to re-read the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution of the United States at this point. It has nothing to do with gun regulations per se. A closer translation to modern English would be, "The ordinary people assert the right to use force to defend themselves, their families and their nation from all enemies.")

Once social control has carried out the essential task of making social violence predictable and political violence impossible, only then can resources be spared for secondary issues. One implication is that police are not there to fight crime. As J. Edgar Hoover put it, "Justice is incidental to social order." This is coming from the man who ordered the literal execution of the Black Panther movement.

Social control is far from the only social force in society -- there are many others, like overlapping waves and ripples. However, social control is more like oil on the waters, or a breakwater -- if the waves get too high, they are either "smoothed out" (informal social control) or "smack into the breakwater kicking up spray" (formal social control.)

Agents of social control are persons. Society never does anything -- only people take actions. Just as there is no literal "zero" you can point to in the real world, there is no "society" out there. All we have are people. Society is a sociological concept we use to refer to the shared beliefs and aggregate behaviors of a mass of people. Like the zero, it has no existence in reality. To quote a famous economic theorist, "No one in war has been killed by a piece of Gross National Product." In the same way, society has never executed anyone -- but a law enforcement officer flips the switch and barbeques a Death Row inmate, in a manner authorized and prescribed by law, in obedience to a capital warrant.

Without a zero, mathematics would fall apart. Without the concept of society, sociology would fall apart. But the map is not the territory, and "society" as a knowledge map has "There Be Dragons Here" written in the center of the map, not the edges. The edges are more clearly defined than the center. Deviants help define the edges. In fact, Durkheim points out that without deviants, you can't have a norm.

Thus we must study the agent of social control. This is about deviant survival, and if you as the deviant are going to have to survive something thrown at you, it will most likely be an agent of social control doing the throwing. Know thy enemy.

The full-time agent of social control is fairly rare. We've already established that social control is not the dominant force in society, and it takes money to pay people's salaries, so it's not surprising to find that only a small fraction of the population is being paid to mind other people's business. These include public and private agents and investigators, managers of quasi-public spaces, security personnel (who are basically lobotomized managers), field response personnel of public and private agencies (your firefighter/paramedic does more social control than your peace officer, believe it or not!), and various and sundry other occupations.

However, it is a common part of many jobs and occupations to help support the regime of social control. Anyone who participates in the hiring process, and particularly background checks, is doing a social control function. Anyone who covers the front desk, answers the phones, or even swipes the credit card reader is participating in "The System."

Formal agents of social control typically function as part of a bureaucratic system. Because of the powers and authorities granted to formal agents, they come under intensified surveillance and control themselves. The typical emergency response vehicle has a tracking device installed for a reason, and it isn't just "officer safety." The people in charge of the bureaucracy, and the organizations and regulatory agencies, do their best to influence and mold their minions -- and the organizational and institutional culture takes this input and warps it according to a combination of history, street experience, and the influence of informal leaders among the rank and file.

"In the world, people think of a criminal as dangerous and desperate. But the criminal hiding in a house is terrified of the whole world against him. He is a pheasant. The samurai who enter to arrest are hawks." Muyashi says it well, as usual. Members of organizations draw strength from their culture, from their uniforms, from their training and from each other. While some forms of deviance are tolerated inside such organizations, others are not -- and doing anything that could damage "the team," such as turning fellow members in for misconduct, is taboo.

So if you know the rules by which formal agents operate, and the informal ways that they are interpreted in the field, and an inkling of what they consider morally right and abhorrent, you can play them like a cheap trumpet. This will be explored in detail in Lecture 5.

Informal agents of social control are under far fewer restrictions, and are thus paradoxically more dangerous than formal agents of social control. Within their little spheres of power, they often are completely dominant. If the gas station attendant orders you out of the store, you can either comply or the police will be called. A later appeal to the off-site manager serves little purpose. This is why racial discrimination in informal settings persists when formal discrimination has been clearly made inappropriate; and the most rigidly controlled social system, the military, has all but eliminated it.

This is the "Little Gods" problem. Much as secretaries wield enormous informal influence, and janitors can make your life miserable (an excellent example is shown in the movie "The Terminal"), the informal social control agent is often making up for their lack of power in any other venue by misusing the little authority they enjoy. (This abuse assures that they will never get more.) Also note that these "Little Gods" are more likely to have prejudices or to themselves come from a deviant background.

So we've drawn a distinction between the agents of formal social control, and the agents of informal social control. Now let's look at some of the specific mechanisms they can use to influence your life.

To quote President Kennedy regarding the U.S. Navy SEALS, "They can help a government out, or help a government OUT." So you can either be looking for a service or a favor from a social control agent, or you can be hoping to avoid negative sanctions they might direct at you.

This duality is one of the problems that poor people have with the police. Since poor people are less able to afford to protect themselves, they need the police more often than most people. However, the poor are more in the public eye, and the law is biased against them in many non-subtle ways.

  • "In its majestic equality, the law forbids the rich and the poor alike to sleep under bridges." -- Mark Twain
  • A concealed knife, first offense, is a felony. A concealed handgun, first offense, is a wobbler. If you can afford a lawyer, it's gonna be a misdemeanor. Otherwise a felony. Justice is a luxury for the rich.
  • Posting bail for the rich is a minor problem. Posting bail for the poor is an earthshaking event that can savage finances and households.
  • Rich people use drugs on their estates. Poor people use drugs on street corners. Rich people buy from their friends. Poor people buy from street dealers. Who do you think gets caught more often?

Thus, the police are a source of tyranny and oppression to the poor -- even when the police are professional and "neutral" in their obedience to the law. Add in active bias, and the poor are hosed -- needing police more, but getting "serviced" negatively instead.

If you are looking for services provided -- whether this is a job, or an apartment, or health care -- stealth mode can be extremely useful. If you are trying to avoid harassment or arrest, simple avoidance can be very powerful. Don't drive around at 3 in the morning, and you probably won't be "suspicion-stopped" by the police. Make sure you've dotted your Is and crossed your Ts. Fill out the application completely. Keep your car registration current. Look legit.

The next layer down is to have a good explanation or excuse. "I'm going to a costume party" works every now and again, but not every night. The problem is that explanations and excuses fall flat, and most social control agents know how to detect them. This works better on mundanes.

Being proud of who you are can gain you respect. This has worked for the racial minorities and to a lesser extent for gay people. However, if you're sufficiently out there in your deviance, excessive pride can get you thrown down a stairwell with your hands cuffed behind your back. Ouch.

The best advice I can give if confronted by an agent of social control is: Know what you want. Act accordingly. If you want a quiet night, don't give the officer static. If you want to cause a scene and show off in front of your friends, you'd better know exactly what you're doing -- because playing softball with hardball players can really suck for you.

Short-term "passing" is different from blending in with an existing work culture, or living in the same apartment complex with your landlord. Little mistakes and oddities add up, and you don't want to be in a position where your boss or landlord thinks you're a liar.

Tell the truth, but benignly. Keep your end of the deal, whatever the deal is. Most landlords will put up with almost anything as long as the rent is paid, in full, in cash, and on time -- no excuses, and don't damage the property.

Homework assignment: name two informal and one formal agent of social control who have influenced your life in the last year.

Lecture 2: Societal Reactions to Deviants

Lecture 2: Societal Reactions to Deviants
Deviant Survival Guide
Copyright 2006 by drewkitty

In my last essay, I took a stab at defining deviance. Highlights: deviance is defined by society generally, is pretty much independent of the facts (for example, smokers are becoming deviant, a fascinating process to watch), and changes over time. I also discussed how deviants are created and molded by labeling them as such. (Hint: one could reduce deviance by refusing to apply labels -- and political correctness ran around changing tags in the deviant dressing room, while creating more tags.)

Since this is "survival for deviants," what is more interesting to us is . . . oops, got deviated, time to escape and evade.

Never mind. What is more interesting is the various ways in which society attempts to enforce its boundaries against deviant behavior and lifestyles.

Ever noticed that the rich have a limited pass when it comes to odd and bizarre behavior? It's called being "eccentric" and you can be as eccentric as you want until the cash runs out.

Conversely, the poor are not allowed to be odd, even when it is in their own best interest, if they want to get any help from anyone else to stop being poor. In order for poor people to get help from the middle class, they have to enter middle-class stealth mode. (The people who administer welfare are lower-middle-class themselves, and uneasy about it, so the hurdles they create for the worthy poor to jump are too high. Filling out the average form for public assistance is worse than doing your own 1040 -- in some cases, it's not cost effective for the average poor person to try. Although it is still cost-effective for the welfare cheats.)

I am reminded of when my introduction to criminology instructor gathered the teaching assistants (all six of us) and asserted, "I see that you are all in uniform today. Good." We were shocked and appalled -- what did he mean, uniform? we're brilliant rebels, damn it! -- until one of us noticed that all six of us, male and female, were wearing blue jeans. He was right.

Social control is a thesis in sociology that everyone would be deviant and/or evil unless there were powerful social forces at work that kept us in check. It has been largely disproven, as there are many other variables at work: most people are innately good, many people are conformists and/or lemmings, standardization is economically efficient and produces social good, c
haos theory suggests that accidental parallelism is quite common, etc.

By far, the most powerful form of social control is informal. This can be carved into three rough categories: people you care about, people you don't care about, and the almighty News Media (this generation's God with feet of clay.)

Informal social control is when some stranger on the bus tells you that purple hair is icky; your mom suggests that you should dye your hair another color; and you never see purple hair on the television except briefly on the dorky character during the sitcom who is trying to look cool.

This is in sharp contrast to formal social control (your boss telling you to lose the hair or lose the job), which will be covered on Thursday.

Women are well aware of the awesome power of informal social control. The average woman is so immersed in the system of female repression in this country that it takes quite a bit to step back and notice some really obvious things:

-- 80% of women think that they are of above-average weight.
-- Over half of women cannot buy clothes that fit them in the average shopping mall.
-- The purpose of women's magazines is to make women think they can't get laid without major industrial help from the fashion industry, when anyone knows that most women can get laid by whistling and saying "Yo."
-- Gender discrimination is largely the product of women oppressing other women, starting with mothers and ending up in the workplace. (Hint: if women stood in solidarity, the glass ceiling would have shattered about a decade ago.)
-- Even though women-only cable networks make a truckload of money, there are only a handful of them, and most of the advertisers are idiots.
-- Strong women abound in real life. They are incredibly rare in all forms of media, and have major character flaws when they appear.

I should add as an aside that I was kicked out of my Feminism in American History class in college for the crime of being one of two males in a class of 120. They passed me with a B on the condition that I did not attend lecture. "Andrea [Kitty]" did get an A on the final, however.

Funny that.

Men think that they are less influenced by informal social control. They are wrong. How many men can break the following social taboos:

-- a guy asking for directions
-- social hugs in mundane settings
-- making small talk without flirting
-- buying feminine hygiene products without embarrassment

Often, informal social control consists of making the accepted path easier than the unacceptable paths. One must constantly "swim upstream" in time and energy to be different, so why not relax and go with the flow? The resolve to be different is worn away by little comments from strangers, by nagging from friends and family and co-workers, from the media with its subtle-and-not-so-subtle messages that "you are different, different is bad, Amerika is united, responsible disagreement is OK (if we get to define irresponsible.")

We do not have free speech in America. Did that statement surprise you? Did it anger you? Good. There's a reason.

It is taboo to say that we don't have free speech in America. That's one of the ways in which our free speech is limited.

Don't believe me? Just try to run an ad during the Super Bowl, if you're -- or just about any policy or political ad on National Cinema Network. Or on your (formerly local) Clear Channel radio station. Or write an opinion piece for a major metropolitan newspaper. If you dig enough (and the great thing about the Net is that you can), you can find "content guidelines" that lay out in detail what you are NOT ALLOWED TO SAY.

Now, deviants are free to hang out in their little groups and make up whatever perverted rituals suit their fancy, form their own twisted communities, and basically do their own thing. As long as no one finds out. This allows the most important taboo -- the illusion of normalcy -- to persist.

As sociologists have pointed out, THERE IS NO NORMAL. But the illusion of normalcy allows a lot of interesting things to happen:

-- it allows a centralized group to define normal
-- it allows a lot of money to be made selling "normalizing" products -- ranging from makeup through cosmetic surgery to skin "whiteners" for black people (really!)
-- it allows deviants to think that they have to hide in corners or isolated communities, even when they are 10-15% of the population (gays) or even 50% of the population (women)
-- last but not least, it allows small groups of powerful but deviant people to push their views on the entire society, and make us even pay for the privilege

So even when you're abnormal, and you know it, society looks for ways to smack you with a trout for the unforgiveable sin of being publicly abnormal. Secretly, many of them are afraid of being outed themselves. There's no gay basher like a secret homophile.

In other words, it's not your weirdness that is getting you into trouble -- it is your defiance of society's stance that there is no weirdness, nothing to see here, move along.

This immediately suggests two implications for deviant survival:

1) it is very useful to be able to go into "stealth mode" with one's deviance -- this isn't a sell-out, but a survival skill

2) when you choose to depart from stealth mode, you need to be ready to protect yourself (emotionally, spiritually, even physically) from those who would take objection

You may also have noticed by now that deviance in one dimension is often assumed to be deviance in several dimensions. Gay men are presumed (on little evidence) to be potential child molesters.

So your minor deviance may be mistaken for severe deviance and trigger sanctions accordingly.

One may also be the simple victim of mistaken identity.

(I am thinking of the poor Sikh beaten by rednecks who didn't realize that turban-wearing Sikhs have been victims of Muslim fanatics since before the Confederacy was a bad idea in plantation owners' heads.)

Last but not least, any society is full of predators looking to eat the weak (or at least, steal their money). Deviants are weak. So the predators go after deviants. This is one reason why prostitutes get beaten and robbed (and raped). What are they to do, call the cops? In sober fact, criminalizing a behavior is tantamount to saying that it's OK for the criminal predators to victimize anyone who engages in that behavior. Scary, ain't it.

This is also why crossdressing men can't find a damn thing that fits in their size without paying $$$ for overpriced junk, why there are very few good porn videos and even fewer premium-quality vibrators (although there are a lot that cost $100 and up), why mainstream hair dyes have less problems than those in weird colors . . . both the economics of scale and the realization that "there is no competition, so I can sell whatever crap I want" cause this.

So much for the informal nature of social control over deviance. The next lecture will discuss those kinky perverts who wear leather and big black rods and handcuffs -- and can and will beat your ass.

Lecture 1: Definitions of Deviance

Lecture 1: Definitions of Deviance
Deviant Survival Guide
Copyright 2006 by drewkitty

Lawyers and political scientists have long distinguished between acts which are illegal because they are inherently evil (mala in se) and those acts which are criminalized because they are contrary to society's views (mala prohibido). For example, murder is considered evil in itself, where prostitution (to pick one of many examples) is unlawful for moral and social control reasons, including the prevention of other crimes. Social scientists have extended this concept to include DEVIANCE.

While the term "deviant" is used as a pejorative or insulting term, DEVIANCE in social science is a descriptive term for an exact sociological phenomena. Certain persons, actions or behaviors are defined by the larger, mainstream society as being deviant; and the mainstream society reacts by marginalizing, separating and even punishing the deviants.

The concept of "labelling theory" has been brought forward to suggest how deviants come to self-identify as deviant. If a person is given a negative label, not only do other people start to react to them accordingly, but the person modifies their own behavior to either conform to (the natural reaction) or rebel against the stereotype. Either way, their behavior is being modified by the societal stereotype. It is not necessary that the person actually fit the label: “the mere act of being labeled is sufficient to force the person either into or away from the label's mold."

There are quite a few deviant groups out there. Punks, stoners, furries, geeks, nerds, sci-fi fans. And deviant groups within deviant groups: skinheads, tweakers, plushyphiles, "Trekkies," dweebs, etc. It seems to be an inescapable part of human nature for any group to sort itself into the "in group" and the "out group," and the former to wield its power and influence accordingly.

In order to avoid being labeled as deviant, many people with unusual interests, hobbies, fetishes or other outside-the-mainstream pursuits choose to conceal their abnormal behavior in the workplace, in family life, or in other settings.

The most dramatic -- and radical -- change in deviance has occurred with the spectacular rise of the gay movement. Consider that in a mere forty years, the state of being sexually attracted to the same gender has transited from a rigidly enforced criminal act ("gay bars" were routinely raided and all parties present arrested), to socially disapproved and unlawful but not enforced, to decriminalized but ostracised, to marginally acceptable, to legally protected in some areas and celebrated in others, to grudgingly accepted by the mainstream American society.

This has given other deviant groups high hopes of having their own particular issue or interest legitimized in the mainstream. Size awareness groups have been trying for some years to prompt societal recognition of discrimination based on weight -- but fat people are still the safest target for a humorist's jokes.

The rise of the Internet as a means of anonymous interpersonal communication has made it exponentially more easy for deviant groups to interact with each other, commingle, and form new and strange sub-groups of many types and sorts.

These two major sea changes -- the rise to prominence of a formerly criminalized deviant group, and the potential for networking created by the Internet -- have set the stage for a veritable explosion in not only deviant groups themselves, but the types and nature of the deviance portrayed. Thus we have:

-- literal "vampires" who drink human blood in groups

-- groups who are trying to lower the age of consent and legalize pedophilia

-- odd sexual perversions that nearly defy description, many which strike mundanes as bizarre and not sexually arousing ("pony play," "wrapping," "vore")

One common argument used by opponents of deviant groups is the "slippery slope" argument. This is the belief that if one behavior is tolerated or decriminalized, a similar behavior will become more "thinkable" or likely to actually occur. As an example, one of the arguments against recognizing gay rights was that it would make it more likely that children would be sexually abused if gay fathers adopted sons.

The slippery slope argument actually recognizes a valid sociological point, that there is in fact a range of tolerance of deviant behaviors.

Indifference -- "I don't care what they do, as long as they do it to someone else."

Distaste -- "That's disgusting, but if that's their thing, just keep it off of me."

Mild Disapproval -- "I think it's disgusting, but none of my business, as long as I don't have to actually talk to one of them."

Strong Disapproval :“ "That's not right. I'd tell them what I think of disgusting people like that."

Criminalization :“ "That ought to be illegal. There should be a law."

Some criminal behaviors actually are socially tolerated. In the hockey rink, we tolerate behavior that would result in immediate arrest for assault with a deadly weapon off the ice. Frat boys who are partying down might be cited for a noise violation, where gang members are searched and warrant checked for wearing the wrong colors, then ending up in jail for the same behaviors as the frat boys.

However, some deviant behaviors which are lawful can carry very negative consequences.

Crossdressing from male to female is an excellent example. Outside of certain very limited social contexts (Halloween, the stage), a crossdresser in public who is detected can expect not just nasty comments, but possibly a beating or even sexual assault.

Also, interpersonal conflict between members of deviant groups may have a very different dynamic than those in mainstream society. One or both parties may fear being "outed" at work or home; the police may be disinterested or even tolerant of violence "among those freaks"; or the need for cohesion to defend against external threats may be so high that mortal enemies who share the same deviant mode are willing to cooperate

Regardless of the specific deviant acts involved, society's reaction to deviance has a number of interesting similarities.

Detection: a deviant must first be detected. Some forms of deviance are ignored as
long as they are not noticed. Others are actively sought out for punishment.

Deterrence: when a deviant is recognized as such, the first goal is to discourage or deter the deviant either from their behavior, or from the public exhibition of their behavior.

Sanctions: once deterrence has failed, various sanctions may follow. This may involve friends and family, school, employment :“ or even involvement in the criminal justice system.

Deviance is defined by society. This concept is essential to the understanding of deviance:
"DEVIANCE is the product of society's (over)reaction to a behavior or characteristic :“ DEVIANCE is NOT the product of that behavior or characteristic on its own."

So the negative consequences of being labeled a deviant do not arise from being gay, or having purple hair, or reading unusual materials in the school library, or hanging out in groups and wearing odd silver uniforms. The negative consequences arise when other members of society see your purple hair, silver uniform, or same-sex flirtation and react according to their own beliefs and prejudices.

Deviance is separate and distinct from insanity. A deviant is recognized as having a (abnormal) goal that they pursue in ways that reasonably might lead to their goal. A pervert that looks up women's skirts might carry a video camera and a mirror and go wander in public libraries. An insane person might carry a banana and a pumpkin and go around looking for books to smash them between -- but this is clearly regarded as insane as opposed to deviant. The former will be arrested. The latter might be ignored, or shunned, or taken into civil custody as a danger to themselves or others. A crazy person's behavior lacks sufficient internal consistency, or rational relationship between goals and means, to be classified as deviant.

Interlude - A Quick Political Quiz

Interlude - A Quick Political Quiz
Deviant Survival Guide
Copyright 2006 by drewkitty

I'm too paranoid to take the deviant personality quiz. So I took it anyway. It said I was paranoid! They really _are_ out to get me . . . aren't they.

Then I took the intelligence quiz. It said I only had an IQ below 150. It offered me the chance to find out my real IQ for only $14.95. But I passed this IQ test. I _didn't_ send them any money. Ha!

Everyone take this short and simple quiz. Warning. It's political.

1) Do you have a pulse? Y/N

2) If N, is this because you are dead? Undead? Goth? D/U/G?

2A) Regardless of your answer, go bury yourself.

3) If Y, did you vote for a Republican in the last election?

3A) If N, thank you! Even if you didn't vote at all.

3B) If Y, do you make more than $150,000 per year?

3B1) If Y, give me some!

3B2) If N, what were you thinking? D'oh!