The chocolate ration is being increased to 25 grammes per week.

Google Cloud Print sucks!

I have a Brother MFC-9130CW.  I can verify that it is communicating with Google’s servers via XMPP:

05:01:14.755169 IP myIPaddr.23408 > Flags [P.], seq 1369720786:1369720946, ack 3552789351, win 9926, options [nop,nop,TS val 2816500 ecr 2919798482], length 160
05:01:14.789339 IP > myIPaddr.23408: Flags [.], ack 160, win 777, options [nop,nop,TS val 2919858660 ecr 2816500], length 0
05:01:14.838943 IP > myIPaddr.23408: Flags [P.], seq 1:611, ack 160, win 777, options [nop,nop,TS val 2919858710 ecr 2816500], length 610

In Chrome I see nothing!  I can add it as a “Classic” printer, then in the Advanced Details I see:

Printer Type
Classic printer connected via Google Chrome
Registered with Cloud Print
Jan 14, 2015, 5:38:44 AM
Last Updated
Jan 14, 2015, 5:38:44 AM

So, the printer has registered with Google Cloud Print (minutes ago), but I don’t see it in my Cloud Print list of printers in Chrome.

WTF Google?!?  This is just like all the other Google products, full of bugs and when it doesn’t work they don’t give a shit.  There is no place to report bugs in Cloud Print.  Yeah, if I have a Chromebook I can post on the forums for that, and let me tell you, there are a lot of people complaining of the same thing.


Comcast Trolls America, parts 1-5

These were not written by me, but I love them, so I’m linking to them.  Spread the word.  Comcast is a horrible, terrible company.  If I had any choice (Google Fiber I’m looking at you!), I’d switch away from them in a nanosecond.

Comcast Trolls America Part 1: How Comcast Grinds You Down
Comcast Trolls America Part 2 – Comcast Fees & Collections: A disturbing practice
Comcast Trolls America Part 3: Reddit’s Magic Wand
Comcast Trolls America Part 4 – Non sequitur: Comcast Math
Comcast Trolls America Part 5: The non-apology apology

You can read about my own experiences with Comcast here and here.  I really, really hate them.  There are more evil companies on earth, I’m sure, but they are really good at being assholes.

Build complete: the new Hackintosh is a success.

OK, so I wrote about wanting a Mac Pro but not being able to afford one. Well, the deed is done. I purchased the parts, built the computer and installed Mac OS 10.9 on it. My Hackintosh (running Mac OS on non-Apple hardware) is done and it was a great success! Here’s the tale of that journey.

The parts I chose:

CPU: Intel Core i7-4770K 3.5GHz Quad-Core Processor
CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-U14S 55.0 CFM CPU Cooler
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-Z87X-UD5H ATX LGA1150 Motherboard
Memory: Corsair Vengeance LP 32GB (4 x 8GB) DDR3-1866 Memory
Storage: 2x Samsung 840 Pro Series 128GB 2.5″ Solid State Disk
Storage: 5x Western Digital Red 3TB 3.5″ 5400RPM Internal Hard Drive
Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 760 2GB Video Card
Case: Fractal Design Define R4 (Black Pearl) ATX Mid Tower Case
Power Supply: Corsair 760W 80+ Platinum Certified Fully-Modular ATX Power Supply
Other: HighPoint RocketRAID 3620
Other: HDE 2-Port USB Rear Panel Bracket Host Adapter
Other: StarTech.com 2 Port USB 3.0 A Female Slot Plate Adapter

This set of parts were chosen after more than a month of painstaking research, a lot of it on the forums at tonymacx86.com.  This is a great resource for anyone wanting to build a Hackintosh.

I’m a big believer in RAID, so it’s no surprise I chose RAID 1 for Mac OS and RAID 6 for my other stuff.  I was a little nervous about the HighPoint RocketRAID card, since I couldn’t find anyone that had used it in a Hackintosh, but I did find that Mac OS 10.8 and later supported the card I wanted.

The most important components for a Hackintosh are the CPU, motherboard and video card.  The choices I made were for maximal compatibility with Mac OS.

Once I assembled the components into an actual machine, I tested the memory for 3 days (with memtst86) and each individual hard disk with the Western Digital diag program.  Then, it was off to the races…

First up: flash an up-to-date BIOS for the UD5H (F7, but F8 was released shortly after I got it built).  The BIOS settings I used:

  • System Information > Working Environment > Classic Mode
  • Load optimized defaults
  • Performace > Memory > X.M.P. > Profile 1
  • BIOS Features > Intel Virtualization Tech > DISABLED
  • BIOS Features > Boot Option Priorities: set appropriately
  • BIOS Features > Full Screen LOGO Show > DISABLE
  • Peripherals > Device Config > Initial Display Output > PCIe 1 slot
  • Peripherals > Device Config > xHCI Mode > AUTO
  • Peripherals > Device Config > Intel Processor Graphics > DISABLED
  • Peripherals > Device Config > xHCI Hand-OFF > ENABLED (the default, but good to check)
  • Peripherals > Device Config > EHCI Hand-OFF > ENABLED
  • Peripherals > Super I/O Config > Serial Port A > DISABLED
  • Power Management > Wake on Lan > DISABLED
  • Save and Exit Bios

I also updated the firmware on the HighPoint card.

As I said I did software RAID 1 for the Mac OS drive.  I tried doing a test install with hardware RAID 1 (with the SSDs attached to the 3620), but it didn’t work.  I wasn’t sure why, so I moved on to software RAID 1.  I was able to install, but upon rebooting after the install it wasn’t able to boot properly.  After a lot of searching, I figured out the installation had put the boot loader (the thing that loads the operating system) in the wrong place.

When you make a RAID 1 array in the Mac OS Disk Utility, the actual boot partition is a composite of the real underlying disks.  Here is the output of diskutil list:

   #:                       TYPE NAME                    SIZE       IDENTIFIER
   0:      GUID_partition_scheme                        *128.0 GB   disk0
   1:                        EFI                         209.7 MB   disk0s1
   2:                 Apple_RAID                         127.7 GB   disk0s2
   3:                 Apple_Boot Boot OS X               134.2 MB   disk0s3
   #:                       TYPE NAME                    SIZE       IDENTIFIER
   0:      GUID_partition_scheme                        *128.0 GB   disk1
   1:                        EFI                         209.7 MB   disk1s1
   2:                 Apple_RAID                         127.7 GB   disk1s2
   3:                 Apple_Boot Boot OS X               134.2 MB   disk1s3
   #:                       TYPE NAME                    SIZE       IDENTIFIER
   0:                  Apple_HFS mack-root              *127.7 GB   disk2

The actual boot disk is disk2 and it is made up of two parts, disk0 and disk1.  I think what happened is the installer put the boot loader on /dev/disk2 and not at the beginning of /dev/disk0 and /dev/disk1.  So, I needed to do that.  Here’s how I did it:

newfs_hfs -v EFI /dev/disk0s1
newfs_hfs -v EFI /dev/disk1s1
mkdir /Volumes/EFI
mkdir /Volumes/EFI2
mount_hfs /dev/disk0s1 /Volumes/EFI
mount_hfs /dev/disk1s1 /Volumes/EFI2
cd /Volumes/USB/usr/standalone/i386
fdisk -f boot0 -u -y /dev/rdisk0
fdisk -f boot0 -u -y /dev/rdisk1
dd if=boot1h of=/dev/rdisk0s1
dd if=boot1h of=/dev/rdisk1s1
cp boot /Volumes/EFI/
cp boot /Volumes/EFI2/
umount /Volumes/EFI/
umount /Volumes/EFI2/
fdisk -e /dev/rdisk0 <<EOF
f 1
fdisk -e /dev/rdisk1 <<EOF
f 1

I ran this script booted from the UniBeast USB drive I used to install Mac OS.  When you boot from the USB drive, it goes into the Mac OS installer, which allows you to get a Terminal window and execute the above script.  Once I did that, I was able to reboot normally into my newly installed Mac OS 10.9.1.

We’re not done, though.  While Mac OS is running, it’s not fully configured for our Hackintosh hardware.  The next phase is to run MultiBeast and install appropriate drivers for the hardware I have.  For me, these were the settings I used:

Quick Start > DSDT Free
Drivers > Audio > Without DSDT > ALC898 (automatically checks HDAEnabler)
Drivers > Disk > TRIM Enabler > 10.9.x TRIM Patch
Drivers > Misc > FakeSMC v5.3.820 Plugins
Drivers > Misc > FakeSMC v5.3.820 KWMonitor Application
Drivers > Misc > PS/2 Keyboard/Mice and Trackpads
Drivers > Misc > USB 3.0 - Universal
Drivers > Network > Intel hnak's AppleIntelE1000e v2.4.14
Customize > Boot Options > IGPEnabler=No
Customize > Boot Options > Verbose Boot
Customize > Boot Options > 1080p Display Mode
Customize > System Definitions > iMac > iMac 14,2
Build -> Select Install Drive: Mavericks -> Install

Here’s a picture of the MultiBeast window:

Screen Shot 2014-02-28 at 3.00.40 PMWhen I clicked “Install” in the lower right corner I got a popup that said

Kernel extension is not from an identified developer

The kernel extension at “/System/Library/Extensions/GenericUSBXHCI.kext” is not from an identified developer but will still be loaded.

I clicked “OK” to that, then rebooted without the USB drive attached.

The video card I have is a good  performer but it’s also pretty quiet.  It’s got 1152 CUDA cores.  However, to get the most out of it, I needed to install the nVidia CUDA drivers. After doing so, CUDA-Z shows this info:

Screen Shot 2014-02-28 at 3.32.20 PMScreen Shot 2014-02-28 at 3.33.04 PMScreen Shot 2014-02-28 at 3.33.13 PMI haven’t figured out what I can do with this fancy pants video card, but so far the performance good.  The Geekbench 3 score for the new machine is:

Screen Shot 2014-02-28 at 3.41.39 PMThat’s just the 32-bit score.  The 64-bit score requires paying for the app.  By comparison, the Mac Pro score is 3215 (single) / 18296 (multi).  It makes sense the multi-processor score is higher since the 2013 Mac Pro has a Xeon processor, which is much better when multiple cores are active.

What about the stats on various monitored quantities?  Installed with Mac OS (by UniBeast or MultiBeast) is a hardware monitoring program.  Here’s a screen cap of it:

Screen Shot 2014-02-28 at 4.05.42 PMNote the CPU frequency was at 800MHz during the cap, instead of 3.50GHz, which is the normal, non-turbo frequency.  This shows the speed-step (or whatever it’s called in Mac OS) is working with the CPU/motherboard I have.

Finally, some pictures of the build:

20140222-0852-30-6035-5D3 20140222-0901-33-6043-5D3 20140222-0901-41-6044-5D3 20140222-0902-53-6052-5D3 20140222-0907-16-6054-5D3

UPDATE: 2015-02-07

Using RAID mirror for the operating system drive is just too much of a pain in the ass. I did a full backup, removed the RAID partition and the partitions on the two SSDs. Then, I booted into the 10.9.5 installer and restored into one of the drives.

Then, I setup a daily schedule for Super Duper! to make a copy of my root drive onto the second SSD. In the event I have a crash, I can use the second SSD immediately.

Stop pretending the Civil War wasn’t about slavery.

Seems like every February (Black History month!) there’s someone somewhere saying the Civil War wasn’t about slavery.  This time, the people in charge of selecting school books for children in Texas are trying to pretend actual facts are actually lies and myths.

The articles of secession state it pretty clearly:


The people of Georgia having dissolved their political connection with the Government of the United States of America, present to their confederates and the world the causes which have led to the separation. For the last ten years we have had numerous and serious causes of complaint against our non-slave-holding confederate States with reference to the subject of African slavery


In the momentous step which our State has taken of dissolving its connection with the government of which we so long formed a part, it is but just that we should declare the prominent reasons which have induced our course.

Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery– the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization. That blow has been long aimed at the institution, and was at the point of reaching its consummation. There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union, whose principles had been subverted to work out our ruin.

South Carolina:

The people of the State of South Carolina, in Convention assembled, on the 26th day of April, A.D., 1852, declared that the frequent violations of the Constitution of the United States, by the Federal Government, and its encroachments upon the reserved rights of the States, fully justified this State in then withdrawing from the Federal Union; but in deference to the opinions and wishes of the other slaveholding States, she forbore at that time to exercise this right. Since that time, these encroachments have continued to increase, and further forbearance ceases to be a virtue.


Texas abandoned her separate national existence and consented to become one of the Confederated Union to promote her welfare, insure domestic tranquility and secure more substantially the blessings of peace and liberty to her people. She was received into the confederacy with her own constitution, under the guarantee of the federal constitution and the compact of annexation, that she should enjoy these blessings. She was received as a commonwealth holding, maintaining and protecting the institution known as negro slavery— the servitude of the African to the white race within her limits– a relation that had existed from the first settlement of her wilderness by the white race, and which her people intended should exist in all future time. Her institutions and geographical position established the strongest ties between her and other slave-holding States of the confederacy. Those ties have been strengthened by association. But what has been the course of the government of the United States, and of the people and authorities of the non-slave-holding States, since our connection with them?”

So, can we please stop this idiocy?  The Civil War was about slavery.  You are delusional, in denial or just plain evil if you say otherwise.

“Rick and Morty” is the best new series of the year

I read Rick and Morty had beaten the popular [adult swim] show Archer.  I also read that Dan Harmon, creator of Community, one of my favorite shows, was the co-creator of this new show.  Those two facts were enough for me to try Rick and Morty.  I was not disappointed!

The show is unpredictable, but in that good way that you rarely see in a TV show.  Be aware that the pilot is an introduction to the characters and show themes, so it’s not hugely funny in and of itself.  The payoff starts at episode #2.  To date, there are 6 episodes and they rank as some of the funniest stuff I’ve seen in a while.

New Mac Pro or Hackintosh? That is the question.

The new Mac Pro is really nice.  It’s also very expensive.  The base model is $3,000.  More expensive than previous generations of the Mac Pro, because it’s not equivalent to previous generations in expandability and if you require that expandability you will need to spend significantly more.  As a result, I’m leaning toward build a Hackintosh (running Mac OS X on non-Apple hardware).

First, my requirements:

  • SSD RAID 1 (mirroring) for the OS
  • RAID 5 for extra storage (music, photos, videos, backups, etc) using regular spinning disks — must hold at least 4 disks, more would be nice
  • Mac OS X 10.9

Aside from the new Mac Pro not meeting the first requirement, as it has a single SSD.  That means buying an external enclosure that supports RAID 5 (Mac OS X itself does not support software RAID 5, only 0, 1 and 10).  Because I don’t believe USB for this situation is sufficient, it has to be Thunderbolt, which the new Mac Pro has.  Here are the options (this is a good summary of all the hardware available):

The Promise is actually sold by Apple, but it’s a really crappy choice because 1) it has 4 slots and 2) the max size of the disks is 2TB.  The Drobo I’m not thrilled about because it comes with their own RAID and it’s basically a huge software layer between me and my disks.  For people that don’t want to do full-partition encryption and other stuff, it’s probably fine.  Also, I found a lot of people on Amazon complaining about Drobo’s support and quality.  That leaves the Areca.  Indeed, it looks like a very nice unit and it has excellent reviews and seems to offer very good performance.

That puts the price of the Mac Pro at $4,420 (without disks, tax, shipping, etc).  I want to point out, previous generations cost about the same and you did not have to spend more money to get expandability for 3.5″ disks.

Let’s look at the alternative, a Hackintosh.  There’s a fantastic community over at tonymacx86.com which has all the information you need to build a Hackintosh.  Here’s what I’ve come up with:

CPU: Intel Core i7-4770K Quad-Core Processor 3.5 GHZ 8 MB Cache
  ($337.98 @ Amazon) 
CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-U14S 55.0 CFM CPU Cooler  ($69.99 @ Amazon) 
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-Z87X-UD5H Z87 LGA 1150 ATX Motherboard
  ($219.99 @ Amazon) 
Memory: 2x G.Skill Ripjaws X Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3-1866 Memory  ($139.50 @ Newegg) 
Storage: 2x Samsung 840 Pro Series 2.5" 128GB SATA 6Gbps SSD
 ($121.99 @ Amazon) 
Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX760 2GB GDDR5 256bit Graphics Card
  ($249.99 @ Newegg) 
Case: Fractal Design Define R4 (Black Pearl) ATX Mid Tower Case  ($111.98 @ Newegg) 
Power Supply: Corsair 760 Watt ATX Modular Power Supply AX760
  ($159.99 @ Amazon) 
Other: HighPoint RocketRAID 2720SGL 8x PCI-E 2.0 x8 SAS/SATA RAID Card
Other: 2x HighPoint Internal Mini-SAS to 4SATA ($15.00)
Other: StarTech.com USB 3.0 Adapter
Other: HDE USB 2.0 Adapter
Total: $1,852

Some notes on the parts:

  • The HighPoint RocketRAID 2720SGL works fine with Mac OS X, but this hardware isn’t very good for SSDs.  The SSDs would go directly on the motherboard and run software RAID 1, which Mac OS X does fine.
  • The case supports 2 2.5″ disks and 8 3.5″ disks.  Plenty for my needs.
  • Xeon motherboards (socket 2011) aren’t as well supported, and sleep doesn’t work, which  is pretty important to me.

So, it comes down to a Mac Pro for $4,220 or a Hackintosh for $1,852?  Here are the pros for each:

Pros for Mac Pro:

  • Mac OS X compatibility
  • Xeon processor
  • Thunderbolt 2 for expansion (though I have no immediate need for it, other than the RAID)

Pros for Hackintosh:

  • Price
  • +18GB of RAM
  • 2x SSD RAID 1 for the OS boot drive

I’m pretty convinced the tonymacx86.com forums will help with any upgrades of Mac OS X.  When a new version of Mac OS X comes out, upgrade guides are published pretty quickly.  I would like ECC RAM, but this isn’t a deal killer, by any means.  Not having Thunderbolt isn’t, either.  For Xeon vs i7, it really comes down to Adobe Lightroom performance.  I think the extra 18GB of RAM will beat out the bigger cache on the Xeon.

So, it really comes down to the price, and are the pros for the Mac Pro really worth $2,568?  I really don’t think so.

I really like the new Mac Pro design, but I think Apple really made a huge mistake not insuring low-cost expansion units for regular, spinning disks.  All the previous Mac Pros had room for extra disks at the price of the base unit.  There is, essentially, a $1,500 tax to purchase the new Mac Pro.  That tax goes up to $2,500 if you need 6 disks instead of 4.

Iran deal: “Abject Surrender” or not?

The Weekly Standard is a horrible, hack organization, that has no journalistic integrity at all.  They are partisan to the end, and will never give Obama credit for anything.  Their current headline is Abject Surrender by the United States written by a waste of water named John R. Bolton, also a partisan hack that wouldn’t know fair and balanced if it punched him in the stomach.

So, is the deal the Obama administration made as bad as the right wingers are saying?  The conservative business website Business Insider has this to say about it:

In sum, this first step achieves a great deal in its own right.  Without this phased agreement, Iran could start spinning thousands of additional centrifuges.  It could install and spin next-generation centrifuges that will reduce its breakout times.  It could fuel and commission the Arak heavy water reactor.  It could grow its stockpile of 20% enriched uranium to beyond the threshold for a bomb’s worth of uranium. Iran can do none of these things under the conditions of the first step understanding.

Furthermore, without this phased approach, the international sanctions coalition would begin to fray because Iran would make the case to the world that it was serious about a diplomatic solution and we were not.  We would be unable to bring partners along to do the crucial work of enforcing our sanctions.  With this first step, we stop and begin to roll back Iran’s program and give Iran a sharp choice:  fulfill its commitments and negotiate in good faith to a final deal, or the entire international community will respond with even more isolation and pressure.

The American people prefer a peaceful and enduring resolution that prevents Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and strengthens the global non-proliferation regime.  This solution has the potential to achieve that.  Through strong and principled diplomacy, the United States of America will do its part for greater peace, security, and cooperation among nations.

This is just the conclusion.  There are lots of other details in the piece.

The Weekly Standard is a disgusting publication and deserves to die.

My favorite Android apps (Nov 2013 edition)

Many of these apps I paid for.  In every case, it was well worth the cost.

My current phone is a LG Nexus 5.  My previous phone was a Samsung Galaxy Nexus.  All these apps worked on both.

In no particular order:

  • Twitter client: Plume for Twitter – I evaluated a lot of clients, and I hated them all for one reason or another.  This one has made twitter bearable for me, mainly because I can mute certain types of posts to make my stream smaller and more manageable.
  • podcast player/manager: DoggCatcher – very nice for podcasts, both for playing and downloading.  It’s a set it and forget it type of thing.
  • music player: DSub and Google Play Music – I prefer to use DSub, but it’s been giving me problems lately so I’ve switched to Google Play Music.  I uploaded my entire music collection to Google’s cloud and I can stream it to my phone from anywhere.  DSub is a client for Subsonic, which is a server that runs on my machine at home (where I keep my music).
  • anti-theft: Cerberus anti theft – for when I lose or get my phone stolen… peace of mind.
  • utilities:
    • Light Flow – LED&Notifications – allows for the control the notification LED on my phone.  I love it, but I’ve had trouble since I updated to 4.4 (Kit Kat).
    • Setting Profile Full – allows for changing settings of the phone based on location.  I mainly use it to turn on Wi-Fi when at home or work.
    • Timeriffic – allows for changing ringing characteristics of the phone based on time.  I mainly use it to mute my phone at night and during scheduled meetings.
  • games: Solitaire MegaPack – for my fix of various card games.
  • keyboard: SwiftKey Keyboard – a good standard keyboard replacement.  I don’t know if it’s the best, but I like it.
  • exercise companion: My Tracks – allows me to record walks and gives me stats (elevation changes, distance, speed, etc).
  • launcher: Nova Launcher – I love this replacement launcher/home screen manager.  Lots of cool features.
  • productivity: Remember The Milk – todo list manager that I can access from a browser.  Full featured. Easy to use.
  • backup: rsync backup for Android – allows an rsync backup of my sdcard to a remote machine.  Indispensable in case my phone gets lots or I accidentally wipe it (yes, this happened).  The setup of this app  is complex and not for the non-techie.
  • banking: USAA Mobile, Capital One® Mobile – The USAA app is much better than the Capital One® app.  Capital One bought Ing Direct.  I fully expect some day I will need to close my Capital One® account because they’ll screw up everything that was good about the old Ing Direct.  At least I have USAA to fall back on.  I originally got the USAA account/app to be able to deposit checks via my phone (by taking a picture of the front and back of the check).  Now, many banks allow this.  USAA is still the best, mainly because the interface is easier.  Also, the daily limit is $10,000 instead of $3,000 for Capital One®.  This isn’t an issue very often, but it’s come up twice.  One problem with USAA, you need a connection to the military to get an account.  I used the fact that my father had served in the Army.

Once it gets fixed for Kit Kat, I’ll add this back:

  • utility: MoreQuicklyPanel – allows access to a bunch of features from the notification area.  Currently broken on Kit Kat.

Criminal justice in America

The Economist has a three-part series on criminal justice in America.  All US citizens would do well to read this, especially those with previous brushes with the law.  Part 1, part 2 and part 3.

One only has to look at the incarceration rates per 100,000 population to see that we lead the world, by a large margin, in locking our own citizens up.  Our rate is 716 per 100,000.  That means, for every 100,000 people in the US there are 716 people in prison.  Let’s look at Spain, a country in severe economic straights and one of the largest in Europe.  Their rate is 149 people per 100,000.  We incarcerate 4.8 times as many people as Spain.  I tried to pick a “fair” comparison.  I could have chosen Iceland with a rate of 47.  That makes our rate 15.2 times higher.

No one knows how many non-violent criminals are serving life without parole in America, but there are at least 3,278 people who will spend the rest of their life in prison for something non-violent.  The drug crimes that trigger life without parole can be as trivial as owning a crack pipe or a bottle cap with a trace of heroin on it.  The non-drug crimes can be just as ludicrous: trying to cash a stolen check; siphoning gas from a truck; threatening a cop while handcuffed.

And then, there’s this:

Clarence Aaron had no rap sheet: he is among the one-fifth of non-violent life-without-parolers in the federal system serving time for a first offence. While a student at Southern University in Louisiana, he acted as a middleman in a drug deal. He neither bought nor sold the drugs in question, but when arrested he refused to testify against his co-conspirators. They did not return the favour. Consequently, all but one of them have been released from prison (the last is due out next year), while he is almost 20 years into a life sentence.

Like most prisoners serving life for non-violent crimes, Mr Aaron is black. Racial disparities among non-violent “whole-lifers” exceed even those of the prison system itself. Among federal prisoners, blacks are 20 times more likely to receive such sentences: they are 65% of the national total, compared with 18% for whites and 16% for Latinos. In some states the numbers are yet more skewed: blacks are 91% of non-violent life-without-parole prisoners in Louisiana, 79% in Mississippi and 68% in South Carolina.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the deep south, where racism is more alive and well than anywhere else in the US, is disproportionately using life without parole against blacks.

Incarcerating people is expensive, but the human cost is much higher.  Locking someone up for the rest of their life for a non-violent crime is inhumane.  It destroys lives, and not just those of the incarcerated, but their families.  We need to take a long, hard look at ourselves and decide if we want to continue on this path.  If we do, I don’t think history will judge us kindly.

UPDATE: yet another example of extreme sentencing.

You want fiscal responsibility? Start here.

“Because of its persistent inability to tally its accounts, the Pentagon is the only federal agency that has not complied with a law that requires annual audits of all government departments. That means that the $8.5 trillion in taxpayer money doled out by Congress to the Pentagon since 1996, the first year it was supposed to be audited, has never been accounted for. That sum exceeds the value of China’s economic output last year. — Reuters journalist Scot J. Paltrow investigates how the US military’s bad accounting not only wastes taxpayers money, but helps ruin the life of ordinary soldiers and veterans.”  [Via MeFi]

To all your supposed fiscally responsible people out there: if you want the government to spend less, then start here and not by attacking money that is directed to poor people.