let the writer beware…

Moving on… 10 May 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jason @ 3:39 am

Well, it’s been interesting. I’ve had fun with this blog, really I have. But it never really took off like I’d hoped, never really got me posting the way I wanted to, and in turn, didn’t get others reading the way I’d hoped. So it’s time to move on.

My new blog, Paradox Machine, is up and running. I’m striking out on my own; still running WordPress, but this time on my own server space, at my own domain name. So set your bookmarks, RSS readers, and whatever else you use, because CaveatScriptor is dead… long live Paradox Machine!




Blog Review: “Stuff White People Like” 7 March 2008

Filed under: Blogging,Humor,Race — Jason @ 1:07 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

I decided to glance at the home page when a “featured post” caught my eye. The post was titled “#82: Hating Corporations,” and it was the latest article from a blog called Stuff White People Like. The post was a satirical look at the No Logo / Adbusters segment of anti-globalization armchair activists, and it was pretty funny. Exploring the blog a little more, I found that it was basically a numbered list of various stuff that, supposedly, white people like. It might be more accurate to say it’s a list of stuff that white hipsters like, but not exclusively, and either way, it’s a humorous, satirical example of self-parody (it’s written by a white guy). Other things that white people like include:

Anyhow, check out the blog. If you like laughing at white people, it’s definitely worth a read.


Ouch, my face! 7 December 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jason @ 8:01 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

As I draft this entry, I’m sitting in the ER at University of Maryland hospital. I’m here because my chipped tooth became infected, and now the right side of my face is all swollen up.swollen face

It’s not pretty.

It’s also intensely painful, and I’m going to have to have two teeth removed. I saw a dentist yesterday at Chase-Brexton Health Services, and they gave me Augmentin and Vicodin and said if it got worse, I should come to this ER (UMMS) because it was the only one with oral surgery residents. The only positive thing about this whole experience so far is that this hospital has free WiFi. So, if you’re looking for an ER where you can get online while you’re waiting for treatment, this is the place to go.

So, here I am, in pain and waiting for treatment. I’ve been here about an hour so far. I think I’m next up, though. I’ll try to post again tonight about what eventually happens.


Two Dead, 11 Injured In Multiple Shootings, Stabbings 23 May 2007

Filed under: Baltimore,Crime,Public Safety — Jason @ 8:00 pm

From (Channel 11 News):

BALTIMORE — Baltimore City police said two people were killed and 11 people were injured in a series of shootings and stabbings throughout Tuesday night into early Wednesday morning.Police said the violence started late Tuesday afternoon with a double shooting on East Fayette Street. They said one man was killed and another was injured by gunfire.

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What. The. Fuck.

Last night was insanely violent, even by Baltimore standards. 11 shootings and stabbings in one night wouldn’t be that jaw-dropping, however, if not for the location of some of these attacks:

In addition, four shooting victims were found along Mount Royal Avenue in two separate areas. Police said two men were discovered at Guilford Avenue and Mount Royal Avenue — one with gunshot wounds to the hip and the other is in critical condition with a gunshot wounds to the groin and head.

That intersection—the corner of Guilford and Mount Royal—is barely a block from my old building. I didn’t have any illusions about the neighborhood I was living in… occasionally we would hear gunshots from over on the other side of Greenmount Ave., and I knew people had been mugged walking to and from the building late at night. But this… well, it would be bad enough, but one could rationalize that that intersection is right next to the bridges that separate the gentrified neighborhoods from the blighted ones. The next one, however…

Police also found two more victims at Mount Royal Avenue and St. Paul Street. One man was shot in the back and the other was shot in the thigh. Both men were taken to Shock Trauma.

This intersection, just north of Mount Vernon, is well-lit, almost always busy, a block from Penn Station, and there’s a 24-hour BP station on the southwest corner. More worrisome (to me), is that it’s exactly one block from my school. Those shootings happened a block from the computer lab where I’m currently typing this post.

Here’s a Google Map of the shootings in relation to my school and former building.

Now, I’m no wuss; I’ve lived in Baltimore a long time, I’ve never been mugged or beaten or anything else, half because I don’t let myself look like an easy mark, and half because I’m just damn lucky. But I have had friends who weren’t so lucky, and I’ve seen the aftermath of shootings (in a city with 300 of them a year, it’d be kinda hard to miss). A block from my school is just a bit too close to home… er, ah… school.

And, to top it all off:

Police also reported a man was shot in the wrist and arm in the 300 block of Eutaw Street around 10:15 p.m. Tuesday.

The 300 block of Eutaw Street is right outside of Candice’s work. Luckily, she got off early that night, and had just left the area when the shooting took place. A few more minutes either way, and who knows…

Like I said, I’m not a wuss about this stuff… but despite the staggering homicide rate, I usually brag to my friends about how safe Baltimore really is (if you’re not involved a black-market economy). This time, though… damn.

Thanks to Baltimore Crime for originally bringing this story to my attention. The Baltimore Crime posting is linked here.


“Social Design” is… 17 May 2007

Filed under: Design,Internet — Jason @ 12:00 am

I’m not someone who wins contests. Games, sure. I can whoop some ass at Trivial Pursuit, make some extra beer money at low-stakes poker, and I even have my good days at a pool table (provided the other folks at the table also suck at pool). But contests… I’m never caller number ten. I’ve never held the winning ticket when it came time to draw the winners of a charity raffle, and I’ve never gotten anything from filling out a sweepstakes form.*Design 21 Contest Giveaway

Today, however, I received email confirmation that yes, indeed, I was receiving a prize for being one of the first 25 readers to reply to this entry over at the website of GOOD Magazine:

GOOD readers, our friends at Design 21’s Social Design Network (read about them here) want to pose a challenge to you. They want to know how you define social design. It’s very simple and very broad. Let us know what you think in the comments. The first 25 commenters will get a GOOD t-shirt and a stainless steel Allumonde ring from Design 21. Make sure you’ve included your real email with your GOOD profile, or we won’t be able to contact you to give you your prize.

Define social design. Have a go at it.

So, I did it. I was just dicking around online anyway, and I couldn’t pass up the chance to 1) blather on about something, and 2) participate in the “online community” of my new favorite magazine (if it sounds familiar, that’s because GOOD was the source of this post, as well as being all over my links, and my links sidebar… okay, I’m obsessed). I didn’t really believe it when I counted and figured out that my reply was number 24. Within an hour, the contest was over… 25 replies ahd been made, and although it was pretty cool that people kept posting out of an interest in the topic (rather than the prizes), I was still wondering where my prize was! I hadn’t heard a peep. I checked and double checked, to “[m]ake sure [I’d} included [my] real email with [my] GOOD profile.” Hell yeah, I had. I counted and recounted to make sure I was really in the top 25. Yup. I got so antsy I went back and posted this comment to make sure prizes hadn’t been long ago distributed to the other 24 posters, overlooking me just because I don’t win contests. Of course, just to excuse my whiny prize-Allumonde Ring (Stainless Steel)seeking, I prattled on about design, technology, open-source, etc. But we all know the real motivation for my post.

Today, though, I sat down in the computer lab, logged in to Gmail, and there it was… an email from Design 21 Promotions, congratulating me on winning, and asking for my t-shirt and ring sizes and shipping address. I haven’t so quickly and deftly composed a (coherent) email in my entire life.

I don’t know what it is about this contest in particular… I would have posted there anyway, eventually. I don’t really wear rings, and I hate wearing t-shirts that advertise for something completely unrelated to t-shirts. But the Allumonde ring is just so cool… and what it represents is such a good idea… Plus, a GOOD t-shirt? Did I mention it’s my new favorite magazine?

So… in a couple of weeks (days? months? who knows?) I should be sporting a shiny new Allumonde ring and a spiffy GOOD t-shirt… because sometimes, just sometimes… dicking around on the internet can make you a winner.

* Actually, this is only technically true. I actually did win a trip for two to a charming bed and breakfast in Williamsburg, Virginia, by filling out a newspaper entry form. This was when I was sixteen, and as the newspaper in question was the (now defunct) Baltimore Gay Paper, my christian fundie mom wouldn’t let me collect my prize. So, I’ve never gotten a prize, although I did technically win one… once… ten years ago…


De mortuis nihil nisi verum 16 May 2007

Filed under: Death,Politics,Religion — Jason @ 3:36 pm

Yesterday afternoon, I happened to find myself in a car with the radio tuned to WYPR just in time for the hourly NPR news broadcast.

Falwell Dies at 73

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Day to Day, May 15, 2007 · Fundamentalist preacher Jerry Falwell died Tuesday at age 73.

The founder of the Moral Majority was discovered unconscious in his office at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., about 11 a.m.

The cause of death is unknown, but he has had heart problems in the past.

Falwell was a leader of the Christian right, a group that has transformed America’s political scene.

He founded Liberty University in 1971.

That’s right… Jerry Falwell, founder of the “Moral Majority” (which was, interestingly, neither), right-wing windbag and all-around public nuisance finally improved the world by leaving it yesterday. Before I’m accused of speaking ill of the dead, or at the very least, lacking sensitivity, let me remind you, gentle reader, of the Rev. Falwell’s character.

As a grieving nation woke to face September 12th, 2001, most of us prayed that the previous 24 hours had all been a bad dream. Just as the harsh reality began to set in, Jerry Falwell appeared on the morning news shows to give his perspective on the previous day’s attacks. Did he offer a message of hope, attempting to heal and unify a wounded nation? Not exactly. Instead, he said this:

“The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way—all of them who have tried to secularize America—I point the finger in their face and say ‘you helped this happen.’ “

Of course… it was People for the American Way and the ACLU, not Islamic fundamentalists driven to desperate, horrific acts of terrorism by decades of misguided U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Ignoring for the moment the disingenuousness of his comments audacity of his shameless lies, one would have thought that even Jerry Falwell would, just this once, put aside his malignant bigotry and narrow-mindedness but, alas, Falwell was nothing if not consistent. Except where he was inconsistent to the point of blatant self-contradiction (check out this lovely assortment of Falwell quotes over at

I don’t want to waste too much time or bandwidth on that ignorant old fool. But I did want to mark his passing, as I like to think that with his departure from it, the world became a slightly more tolerant and loving place.

post scriptum – Happy Birthday, Kana!


Dixon outlines city crime-fighting plan 9 May 2007

Filed under: Baltimore,Crime,Law & Politics — Jason @ 5:29 pm

Well, yesterday I promised a look at (interim) mayor Sheila Dixon’s long-awaited crime-fighting plan, which was unveiled to the public last week.

For starters, you can read the article from the Baltimore Sun. Since the Sun takes articles down two weeks after they’re published, I’ve also reprinted the article locally.

The announcement of the new crime-fighting strategy for the city is significant because one of the areas in which the mayor has the most power to directly affect the lives of Baltimore’s citizens for good or ill is through policy decisions that directly determine how the Baltimore City Police Department will conduct itself. The O’Malley administration’s “zero-tolerance” approach to policing led to vast increases in “quality-of-life” arrests for offenses such as loitering, open container violations, and other trivial infractions that crowded Central Booking and clogged the courts, leading to a situation where fewer than two-thirds of arrests were prosecuted. It also had an extremely detrimental impact on the lives of the most disenfranchised citizens, as poor, black residents of the city’s worst neighborhoods were the most likely to be arrested on these frivolous charges, often leading already precarious workers to lose what meager employment they had.

As I started to address in the previous post, one of the most frustrating effects of zero-tolerance policing has been the impact on Baltimore’s large population of citizens who suffer from substance abuse problems. Police conducting corner sweeps, while theoretically attempting to halt the sale of illegal drugs, instead pick up drug users in possession of small quantities of narcotics, while the drug dealers time after time elude them. Police, not wanting to look completely useless, arrest and charge the addicts with simple possession (or, believe it or not, attempted possession of a controlled dangerous substance, if they nab someone they think they can prove was on his or her way to cop drugs). So the dealers are back out there, to supply more drugs to the local community (and drawing “kids from the counties,” who drive downtown to buy drugs and take them back to their safe, wealthy suburbs), draining the limited resources of poor families, and to become involved in violent turf wars that drive up the city’s homicide rate as police reduce the available turf through “Safe Zones,” officers stationed around the clock on specific corners, and their ridiculous flashing-blue-light cameras.

Abandoning zero-tolerance is an important step to reducing violence in Baltimore. For the past few years, an observable spike in the murder rate has followed every major success the police have had in sweeping drug corners, as turf wars inevitably ensue. Eventually, I think we’ll come to see that the only answer is decriminalization; only then can the proper emphasis be placed on treatment and prevention. Europe figured this out years ago. But we’ve always been a bit slow over here.

The emphasis on community policing is promising, although I think that after the Stop Snitching video, and the tendency of residents who report drug activity to the police to get firebombed, it might take a while for this to really catch on in some neighborhoods.

We’ll have to wait and see what effect Dixon’s policies have. At the very least, it should allow some citizens to breathe a little easier, reduce violence, and build community involvement in public safety. With the election just four months away (the general election is actually six months away, but this is Baltimore, and the Democratic primary is the election that really counts), Dixon will be under close scrutiny, and she’s going to do everything she can to keep the mayoralty she has sought for so long. A lower murder rate, combined with the support of O’Malley’s longtime nemesis State’s Attorney Patricia Jessamy, will go a long way to help her achieve this goal.

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