RavenBlog
Black:  ravenblack.net | me | games | books | email | wishlist | rss
Blogs:  Angryblog | As Above | MonkyBlog | Nightshade | Journals
Blimey:  SomethingAwful | Advice
Archives: Last 4 Days | June2001 | July2001 | August2001 | September2001 | October2001 | November2001 | December2001 | January2002 | February2002 | March2002 | April2002 | May2002 | June2002 | July2002 | August2002 | September2002 | October2002 | November2002 | December2002 | January2003 | February2003 | March2003 | April2003 | May2003 | June2003 | July2003 | August2003 | September2003 | October2003 | November2003 | December2003 | January2004 | February2004 | March2004 | April2004 | May2004 | June2004 | July2004 | August2004 | September2004 | October2004 | November2004 | December2004 | January2005 | February2005 | March2005 | April2005 | May2005 | June2005 | July2005 | August2005 | September2005 | October2005 | November2005 | January2006 | February2006 | March2006 | April2006 | May2006 | June2006 | July2006 | August2006 | September2006 | October2006 | November2006 | December2006 | January2007 | February2007 | March2007 | April2007 | May2007 | June2007 | July2007 | August2007 | September2007 | October2007 | November2007 | December2007 | January2008 | February2008 | March2008 | April2008 | May2008 | June2008 | July2008 | August2008 | September2008 | October2008 | November2008 | December2008 | January2009 | March2009 | April2009 | May2009 | July2009 | August2009 | September2009 | February2010 | March2010 | June2010 | July2010 | August2010 | September2010 | October2010 | November2010 | December2010 | February2011 | March2011 | April2011 | May2011 | June2011 | July2011 | August2011 | September2011 | October2011 | December2011 | March2012 | April2012 | May2012 | September2012 | December2012 | March2013 | April2013 | May2013 | June2013


Comments on Wednesday 2 October 2002:
The death penalty - I've heard arguments that it's more expensive than life imprisonment (because of all the appeals process involved, rather than expense of the actual death), and the more common arguments about "what if the court is proven wrong later?" I have a solution that negates both these issues, reduces costs, streamlines the whole deal - whenever someone is sentenced to any amount of prison time, offer them the option of death instead. If they choose death, it can be administered on the spot; no appeals necessary, it was their choice, they could have chosen imprisonment if they thought they might be cleared of any wrongdoing later. Given that they take away any suicide-enabling paraphernalia from prisoners, I assume this implies that some prisoners would choose death. It seems completely ridiculous for money and accommodation-space to be allocated to people who don't want to be alive, in a society that doesn't want them alive either. [05:54]

neowulf
a feasible idea although lacking when you take into consideration how corrupt our judicial system has become (or always was). Considering how often testimony is forced, through various strongman tatics, one must wonder how many prisoners would be cajoled in taking this as their only option. It would be very politically advantageous to so quickly remove these 'threats to society'. In the long run, though, i think it would produce far more error than justice.

Furthermore, what of the loonies who admit to things readily because they actually believe they have done it?Closing off the case in such a manner allows the guilty party to dance home free without any reprecussion. In our society, quite often, desperate souls will confess to crimes they havent commited in order to feel something more than everpresent dissillusionment.

However, the idea of a death pill for those who feel life has run its course and nothing is left seems like it might have merit. As long as it was just an option available to the general public. And it didnt have any legal importance. Vonnegut has a great story about a future society and similar life and death pills.

Although I personally think the death penalty is disguisting, i would, at least, like to see proof of guilt for those it is administered upon.

Technology will be the answer to this. There has been much progress within the scientific community towards the concept of a 'truth machine'. The idea is to create a device which reads brain activity. Through questions and visuals, the device could graph reactions from the mind. Its sort of like a polygraph but much more advanced and thousands of times more accurate.

Researchers are in testing stages now, analyzing how the brain reacts in certain instances and attempting to define patterns. They believe a murderer would react in a very unique manner when images of the victim are displayed or questions regarding it asked.

In theory, a device such as this would effictively remove the need for expensive legal processes.

Kevan
Surely that can only ever work on subjective truth, though? That if someone is wrongly convinced of their own guilt (through coercion, mental disorder, an exaggerated sense of responsibility or whatever else), it'll trigger the big "KILL ME" lightbulb.

RavenBlack
Lots of fun though. Soon they'll be able to measure whether you are going to kill someone later, and then it will be implanted in everyone, and then some electronic spider thingies... Oh, that was a movie.

neowulf
agreed. the question of relative reality becomes quite the issue. The claim is though, that on a subconsious level we are acutely aware of everything we have done, whether or not we are sane enough to realise this. Essentially they aren't looking for the guilt lightbulb but rather signs of intimate association with the details. Supposedly the murder's mind would react with a very recognizable pattern, unique to his/her self when presented with sings of the murder.

wish i knew more about it, ill have to find the article i was reading so i can attempt a better explaination.

neowulf
certain elements of that movie were absolutely believable, such as the personalized advertisments and the mega commercialized ambience of the city. Im sure the gap and the likes are slowly moving towards all of this... and maybe electronic spider things for fun ? I guess we will just have to wait and see.

It was a decent movie though, save the overdone ending when the entire context of the movie is explained over the phone. I wish there had been a subtitle during that sequence saying something like, "and now for all the lemmings in the audience who couldn't piece together this relatively simple plot.."

Oh well, it still was entertaining.

Kevan
Ah, I think I've read about that, somewhere. Showing a slideshow of innocent paths and brick walls, and measuring the suspect's reaction to the single planted murder-scene shot. Still open to some misunderstanding and abuse, but a good thing alongside existing procedure.

[Minority Report] I liked the suggestion that everything after Anderton's interment is happy-ending hallucination (the jailer having spoken of prisoners seeing their dreams come true).

Tom
I must agree with neowulf that presenting the murderer with sings of the murder can lead to a certain indication of guilt. I think that an Andrew Llloyd Weber score would be best for this. Possibly some sort of cunning eye extension mechanism should be used in conjunction with the music.

However, I'm not sure that I can agree that I feel disguisted by the death penalty. Personally, I think that a gui would greatly expediate the experience for all involved. Preferably one with flashing skulls as icons. Maybe lightning bolts. Who wants to be typing rm -rf /dev/convict or even to be reduced to using del? You might make a typo. Much better to drag the convicted icon to the trash.

mvo
Or the recycle bin.

"Igor, go fetch me a brain."

Tom
Tsk. I'm not such a blood thirsty pie-thrower that I would suggest using Windows for this system.

neowulf
i would only approve of the death penalty in a society where proof of guilt was based on absolution rather than reasonable suspision. However i still think the instances in which it should be allowed are few, namely in cases of such repetitive horror that no chance of redemption for the murderer was likely.

A society founded on violence will only breed more violence. If you compare our current society to other clusters of indigenous peoples and how they lived, you will see that violence was minimal and murders very rare. Several factors involved here but the most noteworthy are the density of population and the pursuit of greed.

This evolution of western thought (imoney=materials=status=renoun=god=happiness) is relatively new to the world. For thousands (or millions or ever, depending on your belief) of years, people would gather togther to make life easier. It makes perfect sense- a community can distribute basic tasks and create much more free time. In fact, in the classic 'hunter-gatherer' society a person would work no more than four hours a day.

We think of our society as so much better, advanced if you will, but are we really? Consider some of the relics of the past, or look at eastern belief systems. There are so many other ideas, far advanced than ours, and even more rational, but we no longer have the facility to think rationally.

So now we are here, working eight to ten hour days and somehow getting through. In theory our technology should have made life easier, but due to the ownership of everything by elite parties we find ourselves in much worse shape than the feudal world of the past.

The lack of creation (because we are no longer working for ourselves, but making shadows for the images of high ups we have no connection with) makes way for destruction. Life seems so pale when everything you do means nothing at all.

Secondly, and Desmond Morris wrote a great book (the human zoo) about this, humans (as with any other living system) need a certain amount of space to exist in harmony. It is instinctual to want to create enough space for yourself. It is a survival mechanism. Plants kill each other if too many are clustered together, animals will move apart or kill each other off until a natural balance is established. I think we no longer are in touch with our inner demands at all, and so we ignore the need for space. When a million people are all packed together , one on top of the other, in little smelly rooms, i believe something cracks. For some of us, that cracking becomes lashing out in some negative manner, stealing, killing, destroying.

This is not to say that violence comes soley from the cities, but i am confident that violence is magnified by the intrinsic wrongness of an area where millions live side by side and no sign of actual life exists.

Of course, the population of this earth is so great that cities are necessary.

I guess this is it, until we start terraforming and colonizing other planets.....

mvo
neowulf;
If you turn to history, you will see plenty of violence which was not perpetrated by city dwellers.

Take the Mongols; Gengis Khan, Kublai Khan, Tamerlane and their people ... these were people who owned no more than a horse could carry. They had plenty of space. And yet they felt the urge to attack, sack, burn down and kill off the population in any city they could get near. Greed? Envy? They were just human .. they were not capitalists.

The Mongols were not without precedent. Take the Huns, the Vandals, the Saracens, the Vikings. Or take the horseback iron-age people who (athropologists believe) conquered most of Europe in prehistoric times, laying the foundation for most modern European languages and pre-Christian belief systems.

Or take al-Queda, by all means a paranthesis in history; Gengis Khan would have laughed at a mere 3,000 casualties. C'mon now, cause some real havoc!

Of course, city dwellers, too, have initiated wars and built empires. Take the Romans; the (Han) Chinese; the whole history of European imperialism; Nazi Germany; Communist Russia; the United States. Nothing new under the sun.

And how was the world then like before the humans got mobile by taming the horse? Fairly xenophobic, probably. New Guinea testifies to this. The island was not penetrated by outsiders until the early 20th century. Due to its hostile geography it remained until then a relic of a truly ancient world in which everyone stayed put at the peril of getting eaten by the neighboring tribe. The island harbors more than 1,000 languages, most of them totally unrelated. Tribes would raid each other, kill off neighbors if they got too threatening. A delicate balance of power featuring a thousand tribes and violence a-plenty.

Contrary to some popular myths, paradise was not lost. It never existed.

(For references, see Jared Diamond: "The Rise and Fall of the Third Chimpanzee", and "Guns, Germs, and Steel", both brilliant books)

neowulf
perhaps what you failed to read in my little rambling was the reference to western society. Each example you present falls stricty into the minor histories of parading european tyrants, something which i concede has always been a source of unmitigated violence and greed. In short, thats exactly what i was saying, that the desire for materials allows these tyrant types to conquer conquer conquer.

Obviously violence exists as an innate portion of our being, and always will be used as one way of solving a situation. Obviously there was violence before the city construct (industrialization, and even before that in the form of the prejudiced class system).

Your point about New Guinea simply enforces what i stated about the city. Humans, as with any other creature, will instinctually strike out when territory is restricted and standards of living less than desirable. Its a very simple display of our survival mechanism at work. Self is always most important.

To clarify, what i was saying is that the city magnifies the instinct for violence because the standard of living is NOT acceptable. Because we are so socially conditioned to believe killing is morally wrong most repress or completely ignore this urge. This just creates masses of disjuncted indivduals dissatisfied and angry at everything.

Historically this same violence was propagated through national enemies, or war, but the real source of the violence is the general dissatisfaction of the individual within the society. Again I reference Desmond Morris (the human zoo or the naked ape) as well as Carl Jung (man and his symbols), Marcuse (the one dimentional man), Guy Murchie (the seven mysteries of life), Zinn (a people's history), Gurdjieff (Beelzebub's tales to his grandson).

Of course there has been violence among neighboring tribes, but the effect and extend of this violence is much milder than most biased antropologists/poly-sci types would have you believe.

For example, consider the native americans in this country. Well over a thousand different tribes (decimated down to the few handful of names we readily recognize today) with variations of language and spiritual practice. There was war between the nations, but very minor with few casualties involved (zinn claims 75 or so anually.) Most historians will agree that well over 3 million indigenous peoples populated the amercias before the europeans invaded the land. Six years after columbus landed the population had dropped to less than two hundred thousand. This is due entirely to systematic decimation of whole villages, hunting and destroy every man, woman, and child.

These people lived for thousands of years with some violence but nothing like the level subjected upon them by the western idealists. Both the tribes of southern america and northern america greeted 'us' (the europeans) with open arms and peace. It was our desire for land, gold and renoun that started the massacre of the indigenous people.

This is the way it has happened forever within the historical system of conquer and control. As long as there are greedy kings and enslaved peasants, murder and violence will ensure.

Every civilization you cite is of western origin. My point exactly.

"Paradise was not lost. It never existed." This is not entirely true. If you look at the more esoteric eastern societies, from the tibetians to the yaqui indians, you will see a society where violence either doesnt exist or exists only at a rational, purposeful, level. That level being defense or gathering of food, etc.

Tibet was a country without any violence at all. Read up on it, i am not making this up, but for as long as a thousand years (since its foundation up unto its descimation) the country was ruled by elders, there was no standing army, and crime existed on such a low level that no laws were in place to deal with criminals. The Tibetians were a highly spiritual community, focusing on essense rather than material. China invaded and ended all of this durning the WWI (or was it WWII?) era. Now the tibetians are nothing more than slave labor to the materialist state of china. Yet another example of western idealism destroying something greater.

If you want the truth, avoid kissenger-esque tomes of capitalist propaganda. There are thousands of cultures that existed independent of the weight of materialism. The effect: Violence is reduced, and societies are filled with erudites rather than drones.

As i previously mentioned, Gurdjieff's book, Beelzebub's tales to his grandson, is a very enligtening read. This anthology is well known and accepted among educated types as a n unbiased account of all the cultures we have somehow forgotten about. Sure there is violence, but nothing like what the desires of foolish men in search of land and gold creates. You will read about a multitude of mystical societies with strong spiritual beliefs and a general transcendence that reaches far beyond our simplistic western paradigms.

The history of the world is one of violence and suffering. As our collective progresses towards enligtenment this violence must cease, replaced by a general understanding that all means can be satisfied on a more evolved level, that beyond materialistic chaos lies the true path.
-dalai llama

RavenBlack
Hooray historical philosophy.
"What I think is right. See these books."
"No! What *I* think is right. See *these* books."
"No, your books are wrong. What about these other books?"
"No, those authors are biased. These other books are the truth."
And so on. I'll be very surprised if either of you read the books the other suggests.

mvo
Raven has a point. But anyway ....

I will not attempt to dispute your claims regarding Tibet, not will I dispute your claims regarding the modest war casualties of North American tribes (although they do surprise me).

As for the Aztecs and the Incas both empires were largely dependant upon oppression, violence, and subjugation (take the human sacrifices of the Aztecs, true blood feasts). The Spanish had plenty of allies when they landed (in the end, of course, the Spanish became the new ruling class, little better than their predecessors).
But in any case the above does not contradict your basic point since these were both city cultures (although it may contradict your point regarding the Western origin of massive scale violence).

Another point of disagreement is the definition of "Western origin". The Mongols, for one, or the Huns, I do not believe to be of Western origin. Same goes for the Chinese civilizatiobn. But this is a matter of definition.

Whether or not the city magnifies the human disponition towards violence remains a matter of belief, imho.

SpasmodicMonk
Gotta make a comment on the truth machine here. It has recently been shown that the 'truth machine' that is refered to above only reads increased blood activity in certain areas of the brain, not increased neural activity. Further to this, the device itself generates enough electrical interference to effectively destroy any chance of reading neural activity in the same area whilst it is plugged in. I would not trust the afforementioned technology too much.

SpasmodicMonk
On the other hand that 'truth machine' did NOT claim to measure whether you were telling the truth or not. Unless what is referred to above is something totally different to what I have read about, it simply shows certain areas of the brain that light up whilst you are thinking about certain things. Thus far, this machine has claimed to have shown the parts of the brain that activate whilst a person: Feels in love, thinks about killing someone, thinks about having killed someone, thinks about wanting to hurt someone, thinks about making love, thinks about having sex... the list goes on. Once again, though, all that has been detected with this equipment is increased blood flows in certain which has not been solidly proven to definitely correlate with increased neural activity.

Tom
I'm sorry. Evil grapefruit will now devour the brains of the lot of you. Then they will masturbate over the remains for the cover of 'Hot and Fruity'. Available at all good news stands now!

Wakd
Take a look at http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/horizon/2001/caral.shtml
This is currently the oldest known city/civilisation and it is believed that it was built on trade - not war, and lasted for close to a thousand years in this peaceful state. (ie my website is better than your book...)

RavenBlack
But what about [insert some convincing text that I just made up]? My making-stuff-up is better than all your sources' making-stuff-up. Put together.

Tabbie
Interesting bit where a woman actually said "it's a waste of the taxpayers' money" and volunteered for the death penalty...

http://www.cnn.com/2002/LAW/10/09/wuornos.execution/index.html
Add Comment:
Name:Comment: (max. 2048 characters)
Email:
Show Email: (if no website)
Website:
No HTML tags allowed.
(Antispam) What is 67 + 31?
Archives: Last 4 Days | June2001 | July2001 | August2001 | September2001 | October2001 | November2001 | December2001 | January2002 | February2002 | March2002 | April2002 | May2002 | June2002 | July2002 | August2002 | September2002 | October2002 | November2002 | December2002 | January2003 | February2003 | March2003 | April2003 | May2003 | June2003 | July2003 | August2003 | September2003 | October2003 | November2003 | December2003 | January2004 | February2004 | March2004 | April2004 | May2004 | June2004 | July2004 | August2004 | September2004 | October2004 | November2004 | December2004 | January2005 | February2005 | March2005 | April2005 | May2005 | June2005 | July2005 | August2005 | September2005 | October2005 | November2005 | January2006 | February2006 | March2006 | April2006 | May2006 | June2006 | July2006 | August2006 | September2006 | October2006 | November2006 | December2006 | January2007 | February2007 | March2007 | April2007 | May2007 | June2007 | July2007 | August2007 | September2007 | October2007 | November2007 | December2007 | January2008 | February2008 | March2008 | April2008 | May2008 | June2008 | July2008 | August2008 | September2008 | October2008 | November2008 | December2008 | January2009 | March2009 | April2009 | May2009 | July2009 | August2009 | September2009 | February2010 | March2010 | June2010 | July2010 | August2010 | September2010 | October2010 | November2010 | December2010 | February2011 | March2011 | April2011 | May2011 | June2011 | July2011 | August2011 | September2011 | October2011 | December2011 | March2012 | April2012 | May2012 | September2012 | December2012 | March2013 | April2013 | May2013 | June2013