I’m going to begin with an article I came across yesterday while reading the Guardian. It’s about a story from 2006 that I remembered and sometimes think about–a woman whose skeletonized body was found in her apartment three years after she died.
On 25 January 2006, officials from a north London housing association repossessing a bedsit in Wood Green owing to rent arrears made a grim discovery. Lying on the sofa was the skeleton of a 38-year-old woman who had been dead for almost three years. In a corner of the room the television set was still on, tuned to BBC1, and a small pile of unopened Christmas presents lay on the floor. Washing up was heaped in the kitchen sink and a mountain of post lay behind the front door. Food in the refrigerator was marked with 2003 expiry dates. The dead woman’s body was so badly decomposed it could only be identified by comparing dental records with an old holiday photograph of her smiling. Her name was revealed to be Joyce Carol Vincent.
How could such a thing happen? So often we hear sad stories like this and never get any answers to our questions. In this case, filmmaker Carol Morley decided to find out who Joyce Carol Vincent was, and she has made a documentary about her quest called Dreams of a Life. She writes:
In a city such as London, home to 8 million people, how could someone’s absence go unnoticed for so long? Who was Joyce Vincent? What was she like? How could she have been forgotten?
News of Joyce’s death quickly made it into the global media, which registered shock at the lack of community spirit in the UK. The story ran on in the British press, but still no photograph of Joyce appeared and little personal information.
Soon Joyce dropped out of the news. I watched as people discussed her in internet chatrooms, wondering if she was an urban myth, or talking about her as though she never mattered, calling her a couch potato, and posting comments such as: “What’s really sad is no one noticed she was missing – must have been one miserable bitch.” And then even that kind of commentary vanished.
But I couldn’t let go. I didn’t want her to be forgotten. I decided I must make a film about her.
She began by placing advertisements in newspapers asking anyone who knew Joyce to come forward. It turned out that Joyce had lots of friends over the years. She had been engaged to be married before she died, and she had also spent some time in a battered women’s shelter. Eventually, Morley was able to talk to many people who had known Joyce. She describes her journey in the Guardian article. It’s an amazing story, and I hope you’ll go read the whole thing.
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Isn’t that a gorgeous photo? There was a double rainbow over Boston last night, and quite a few people took photos and videos of it. Here’s another shot of it over the harbor and seaport.
You can see more views of it here.
Some people said the rainbow must be a positive sign for the Boston Bruins, who are in the Stanley Cup playoffs against the Chicago Blackhawks. It didn’t work out that way though. The Blackhawks ended up winning game one, after what seemed like an endless triple-overtime hockey game.
In other local news, yesterday was the first day of the trial of 83-year-old Irish gangster James “Whitey” Bulger. Opening statements were apparently riveting. It’s a shame the federal courts won’t allow TV cameras, because this trial is going to be an incredible show. Yesterday both sides gave their opening statements. From The Washington Post:
BOSTON — The trial of James “Whitey” Bulger, the Irish mob boss who allegedly helped scratch out 19 lives and ran this city’s underworld aided by corrupt FBI agents, got underway Wednesday morning almost 20 years after he fled the city on the eve of his indictment.
Now 83 and with just a bit of white hair left, Bulger wore a long-sleeve green shirt and jeans and listened without displaying any reaction as prosecutors laid out their 32 charges against him in a packed South Boston federal courtroom near the gangster’s old hangouts.
“It’s a case about organized crime, public corruption and all types of illegal activities,” federal prosecutor Brian Kelly said during opening statements. “He was no ordinary leader. He did the dirty work himself. He was a hands-on killer.”
Kelly told the story of one of Bulger’s alleged murder victims, Arthur “Bucky” Barrett, who prayed for his life before he was led to a cellar stairwell. “Barrett’s going downstairs to lie down for a while,” Bulger told an accomplice. Barrett walked down the stairs, and Bulger shot him the back, Kelly said.
Bulger’s rise as the city’s brutal organized crime leader was aided and abetted by corrupt FBI agents, who brushed off Bulger’s racketeering and violence in exchange for his help as an informant to bring down the local mafia, according to a lengthy ruling by a federal judge and other investigations.
On the defense side, (Hartford Courant)
Bulger lawyer Jay Carney made it clear in his remarks to the jury that much of the crime boss’s defense will be spent trying to discredit the government’s three chief witnesses. They are close former Bulger associates who agreed to turn on him for leniency or other considerations.
Carney argued to the jury that the three — John Martorano, Stephen Flemmi and Kevin Weeks — will say whatever they think the government wants in order to protect their cooperation agreements. Among other things, he said, they are accusing Bulger of their crimes.
Martorano was sentenced to 14 years in prison for 20 murders. Weeks, once a Bulger protégé, got a shorter sentence for less serious offenses. Flemmi, Bulger’s long-time partner, got a life sentence, but was not exposed to possible death sentences for crimes in Florida and Oklahoma related to the gang’s attempt to takeover World Jai Alai, once one of the country’s largest pari-mutuel businesses.
Carney compared the federal prosecutors to chefs and the three witnesses to elaborately prepared meals.
‘What [we] are going to try to do is show you what happens in the prosecutors’ kitchen before the witness comes out,” Carney said.
I guess I’ve bored you with enough Boston news for today. Let’s see what’s happening in the rest of the world. Read the rest of this entry »
NSA Leaker Edward Snowden was thought to have no on-line presence until tonight. But now we know differently.
The last of his 753 posts, first discovered by Anthony DeRosa, was posted on May 21, 2012, in response to a question about creating a “Dead Man’s Switch,” a program that would automatically delete a computer’s contents if its owner failed to log in periodically. Snowden replies, “You could write one. There are also plenty of orphaned Open Source ones out there you could pick up that need to be finished, if you want a head start.” This was the first time he had posted on the forum in six months.
Earlier, in a thread titled, “I’m a screwup,” he writes, “Join the army. Worked for me.” Two days later, in a discussion about emerging industries, he suggests “Counterterrorism” is an area that will expand within the next five years.
A number of Snowden’s posts are reproduced at Buzzfeed. Here’s one where he talks about being a high school dropout:
First off, the degree thing is crap, at least domestically. If you really have ten years of solid, provable IT experience (and given that you say you’re 25, I think it’d probably be best to underestimate), you CAN get a very well paying IT job. You just need to be either actively looking now or get the fuck out of California. I have no degree, nor even a high school diploma, but I’m making much more than what they’re paying you even though I’m only claiming six years of experience. It’s tough to “break in,” but once you land a “real” position, you’re made.
It takes a lot of bullshit to get to that point, though. I was unemployed for a full year and then had to work in a non-IT field for six months before I was able to get back in IT and double my salary.
If you do want a degree, I agree that going overseas is a much better idea than attending some $150k domestic diploma mill.
Also, don’t discount the Foreign Service. Someone already mentioned it, and it’s an amazing deal if you can swing it. I’m not talking Foreign Service Officer, either, just standard IT specialist positions.
They pay for your (ridiculously nice) housing and since you’ll be posted overseas, the first ~$80k you make will be tax-free.
Military is always an option as that door is not likely to close in the future. If you do decide to join, though, I would suggest considering using the opportunity to learn a new skill, as opposed to further specializing in IT. You only live once.
He posted about getting a job as a model.
So I got invited to model for this guy (potentially NSFW) last week, and I just now got the proofs back from him. He shoots mostly guys, and he’s got some… “questionable” people interested in his work, so I was actually a little worried he might, you know, try to pull my pants off and choke me to death with them, but he turned out to be legit and is a pretty damn good model photographer.
It’s only my third shoot, so be gentle.
Here are the photos
He writes that he works for the State Department:
Although I’m not a diplomat, I work for the Department of State. I actually signed up because of the opportunity for foreign travel, so I’m not bent out of shape at all. All of the inflexible terms in the OP were to establish some sort of ground rules for the hypothetical so it didn’t veer off into insanity.
That said, I’m surprised by the showing Australia made in the poll. I have to wonder if it’s really the paradise Arsians seem to think it is, but being that this is a nerds’ forum, I’m suprised ANYTHING beat out Japan. I also don’t see the allure of “Scandinavian” countries, but that’s simply because I don’t want to live in a country where warmth and comfort are only spoken of in bedtime stories.
China is definitely a good option career-wise, and I’ve already got a basic understanding of Mandarin and the culture, but it just doesn’t seem like as much “fun” as some of the other places. Who knows where the “needs of the service” will actually end up placing me, though.
He writes about being discharged from the Army Reserves:
Discharges do not happen fast. Both of my legs were broken during AIT and they held on to me until the doctors cleared me to be discharged, and then after being cleared they held onto me for another month just for shits and giggles.
Psych problems = dishonorable/BC discharge depending on how much they hate you. Lots of alleged homos were in the hold unit, too, but they only got a general discharge at best.
If they think he is fucking with them, he is going to get screwed. Hard.
JJ was right that Snowden is an old movie buff. I haven’t located any posts about that yet, but someone on twitter told me after I tweeted JJ’s comments about North By Northwest and Citizen Kane. Here’s what she wrote:
JJ Lopez Minkoff
June 12, 2013 at 4:51 pm (Edit)
Has anyone noticed lots of this guys stories and quotes seem to come from movies?
North by Northwest? this drunk driving thing
Citizen Kane? That shit about being “An American.”
You can read lots more of Snowden’s musings at the two links above, or just google “TheTrueHOOHA
Ars Scholae Palatinae”
I had a weird feeling about this guy all along. I knew there was something hinky about him. But was he really recruited by the CIA? Is he really a whistleblower? Why didn’t Glenn Greenwald discover his on-line presence? What will we learn next about Edward Snowden?
Breaking . . . Edward Snowden Tells South China Morning Post US Hacks Into Hong Kong, China ComputersPosted: June 12, 2013
I’m no expert on the laws about revealing classified information to foreign governments, but this doesn’t sound very smart to me. Edward Snowden, who has leaked information about methods the NSA uses to collect data on Americans has now showed documents to the South China Morning Post to prove that the U.S. has been hacking into computers in Hong Kong and China since at least 2009.
In a frank hour-long interview, the 29-year-old, who US authorities have confirmed is now the subject of a criminal case, said he was neither a hero nor a traitor and that:
US National Security Agency’s controversial Prism programme extends to people and institutions in Hong Kong and mainland China;
The US is exerting “bullying’’ diplomatic pressure on Hong Kong to extradite him;
Hong Kong’s rule of law will protect him from the US;
He is in constant fear for his own safety and that of his family.
Snowden told the interviewer that none of the documents related to Chinese “military systems.”
One of the targets in the SAR, according to Snowden, was Chinese University and public officials, businesses and students in the city. The documents also point to hacking activity by the NSA against mainland targets.
Snowden believed there had been more than 61,000 NSA hacking operations globally, with hundreds of targets in Hong Kong and on the mainland.
“We hack network backbones – like huge internet routers, basically – that give us access to the communications of hundreds of thousands of computers without having to hack every single one,” he said….
Snowden said he was releasing the information to demonstrate “the hypocrisy of the US government when it claims that it does not target civilian infrastructure, unlike its adversaries”.
“Not only does it do so, but it is so afraid of this being known that it is willing to use any means, such as diplomatic intimidation, to prevent this information from becoming public.”
What the hell? This guy is really starting to sound like a loose cannon. I’ll update with more info in the comment thread as I get it.