Prison Weaponry, The Greatest Tax Story Ever Told, The Prime Meridian

Violence Is Currency: A Pacifist Ex-Con’s Guide To Prison Weaponry

The most common weapon inside is simply a can top. Pulled off a tin of beans and folded over, it doesn’t even need to be sharpened to leave a jagged scar. A shank, also known as a shiv, is not for cutting but for stabbing. It’s called a “gun” in jailhouse vernacular, and the most valuable kind is fashioned out of materials that don’t activate a metal detector. Prison armorers make a good living shaping brass (sourced from structural elements) and aluminum (soda cans, mostly) into knives, though fiberglass and even wood can work, too. Most shanks are made for one specific purpose and disposed of immediately thereafter; getting caught with one is a year in solitary.

If you’re looking to bludgeon someone, filling doubled-up socks with bars of soap or a lock or a can of corn makes for an effective weapon. I saw a man’s arm broken with a tin of black beans with one of these, after which a scavenger retrieved the dented can and ate the evidence. Heated liquids are employed for sneak attacks, usually on sleeping people. But the most exotic weapon I saw was a lit cigarette butt dropped on the floor and immediately stamped flat with a boot. The melting filter became a plane that, upon cooling, developed a bit of an edge, like a very sharp and serrated blade. That one belonged on MacGyver. I never witnessed it in action, but I did see another feat of improvisation: In 2010, a man who was cut with a can lid only five feet away from me proceeded to snap his own glasses in half and use the two arms to poke his assailant mercilessly.

Prison violence can also get very Neolithic. My friend was hit in the back of the head with a rock, settling a dispute over a bench in front of a TV. He lost consciousness, woke up, and pretended it never happened. The snoring Dominican got it much worse. It was my first week living in a dormitory after seven years in a cell. The older man was a sweetheart, but he snored at an incredible volume. A crew of gang kids had had enough and filled a sock with batteries, whipping the sleeping man in the face. He sat up with his eyes and mouth wide open, and fell back into unconsciousness. I had to call for help without ratting out the perpetrators, which was difficult. Whatever damage was done to the poor guy was serious enough for him never to return from the hospital. Another man I saw stabbed in the lung in the yard of a different prison was actually helicoptered to a special trauma unit to save his life. I ran into him years later, when he was telling the story with himself as the stabber and his attacker as the victim.

As dreadful as this litany of viciousness and barbarism sounds, absolutely none of it was spontaneous. Every incident I witnessed in prison, except for the melees that we had to break up when I worked in a unit for the mentally ill, was premeditated and done with purpose, however twisted that purpose was. The violence functioned as a tool for preserving order, whether to maintain the hierarchies of prisoners or to reassert the authority of the guards. It was the best form of currency we had.

Deep inside a prison in the upper reaches of New York State, a friend of mine learned he was scheduled for ART class; pleased, he showed up with a pencil and pad, only to learn that the acronym stood for “Aggression Replacement Therapy.” Every prisoner with a hint of violence in his criminal history takes this 90-day-long course, which is taught by other prisoners trained in its techniques. Even nonviolent convicts can earn a spot in the class if they’re caught up in a jailhouse incident involving a mere soupçon of aggression. Many prisoners end up taking the class multiple times, because something happens after they “graduate,” as something so often does in prison.

During my 10-year bid (I got out in February), I saw two cold-blooded murders, several knife duels, many gang attacks, and innumerable petty acts of violence meant to straighten out chains of command or fix broken transactions. It’s a violent place, so very few prisoners escape the grips of ART. Given that my own sentence was for armed robbery, I certainly didn’t.

Outside, within two years of succumbing to heroin addiction, I’d gone from working at a literary agency to robbing people with a pocketknife. Personally disgusted by violence, I was a very reluctant and non-violent robber, announcing how sorry I was even in the midst of my crimes and once simply giving up after being told to fuck off by a tiny woman behind the register in a tea shop. I used the same pocketknife I once went camping with as a weapon. In each of the robberies that wasn’t done across a counter, I contritely returned my victims’ wallets after snagging the cash. As a result, the newspapers dubbed me “the Apologetic Bandit.” The judge gave me a decade to think about it anyway. While an explosive temper and itchy knife-hand were not exactly my problem (it was rather clearly heroin addiction), I took the ART course eight years into my sentence. I had been put on the waiting list immediately, but apparently given a low priority.

The class is intended to show convicts how to deal with their various feelings without resorting to violence. This is accomplished by putting on a number of skits in which inmates practice the sort of interactions that regular, unincarcerated citizens are able to navigate without cutting one another with can tops. I remember 10 stages, escalating from “introducing yourself” to “asking a question” to “resolving a conflict.” Counting backward was a key tactic.

Continue reading this at the Concourse.

Bob Segar Music Collection

First corporate inversion invented by liberal tax lawyer

The Greatest Tax Story Ever Told

Code made its debut on a rainy Sunday evening in May 1990, in a Fifth Avenue apartment overlooking Central Park. In bow ties and spring blazers, partners of the law firm of Davis Polk & Wardwell dined on lobster prepared by a Milanese chef. Then everyone gathered around a piano, and a pair of professional opera singers, joined by the few Davis Polk men who could carry a tune, performed what sounded like a collaboration of Gilbert & Sullivan and Ernst & Young.

The 13-minute operetta, Charlie’s Lament, told how the party’s host, John Carroll Jr., invented a whole category of corporate tax avoidance and successfully defended it in a fight with the Internal Revenue Service. The lawyers sang:

The Feds may be screaming,
But we all are beaming
’Cause we’ll never pay taxes,
We’ll never pay taxes,
Never pay taxes again!

The first corporate “inversion,” as Carroll’s maneuver came to be known, was obscure then and is all but forgotten now. Yet at least 45 companies have followed the lead of Carroll’s client, New Orleans-based construction company McDermott International (MDR), and shifted their legal addresses to low-tax foreign nations. Total corporate savings so far: at least $9.8 billion—money that otherwise would have gone to the U.S. government.

This year, inversions have received more attention than ever, as well-known companies such as Burger King (QSR:CN) and Pfizer (PFE) announced plans to change their addresses. (Pfizer didn’t follow through.) In July, President Obama called the practice an “unpatriotic tax loophole” and urged Congress to put a stop to it. In September, the Department of the Treasury tightened regulations to discourage the deals. “My attitude is, I don’t care if it’s legal,” Obama said in July. “It’s wrong.”

If history is any guide, the stiffer regulations won’t stop the exodus. Ever since the McDermott deal, inversions have been the subject of legions of congressional hearings, bills, and regulations, yet companies continue to find ways to circumvent them and escape the U.S. tax system.


John Patrick Carroll,
You’re the man for me.
You have a firm that is first-rate.
You have the skill to solve
this tax quandary
(Although you come in
to work very late).

Much more to view and to read will be found HERE.

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16 unethical life hacks you won’t learn in school!

Sometimes we are in a hurry or don’t have enogh money to pay some fine. That are moments when we would do anything just to avoid obligations and satisfy our needs. That moments don’t happen everyday, but when they happen we must be prepaired and ready to do exactly what have to be done.  In these needs we can’t play good, brave and benign people, and sometimes must act like noone good person would. See these 16 unethical life hacks that can save your wallet and show you as better person.

need new tires

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The Prime Meridian At The Royal Observatory, Greenwich

The Prime Meridian, also known as the Greenwich Meridian, passes through longitude 0° 0′ 0” and on its journey from pole to pole, it passes through England, France, Spain, Algeria, Mali, Burkina Faso, Togo, Ghana and Antarctica, dividing the earth into east and west, just as the Equator splits it into north and south. The meridian’s position is marked in hundreds of places, but the best place to see this all important imaginary line is in Greenwich Park in London. The marker is located at the Royal Observatory, a former observatory and now a museum, that played a major role in the history of astronomy and navigation. Its path is determined by the location of a historic telescope, the Airy Transit Circle, which is housed at the observatory’s premises.

The Royal Observatory was established in 1675, and since then the British astronomers have used it as a basis for astronomical measurement. In 1851, the astronomer Sir George Biddell Airy built an instrument called the transit circle for timing the passage of stars across the local meridian, and in doing so established the location of the Prime Meridian. Three years later, in 1884, the Prime Meridian was adopted, by an international decree, as the official zero-degree longitude. To mark the line, a brass strip was laid down across the courtyard, which was later upgraded to stainless steel. In December 1999, an additional marker was installed – a powerful green laser that shines north across the London night sky.

the prime meridian

More to read will be HERE.

So someone got caught?

no photos here

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