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You Can Take My Money, But Leave the Laptop Alone:

A former colleague passes along this gem of a story:

Arizona State University student Alex Botsios said he had no problem giving a nighttime intruder his wallet and guitars.

When the man asked for Botsios' laptop, however, the first-year law student drew the line.

"I was like, 'Dude, no -- please, no!" Botsios said. "I have all my case notes . . . that's four months of work!"

prof type (mail):
Well played, Alex.
11.11.2008 10:16pm
Ari (mail) (www):
My God -- I feel the same way. I could part with most of possessions with little psychic disturbance, but could not possibility lose my data and remain sane.

The lesson is to get an external drive and to back up nightly. Hide the drive in a secure location in the house.
11.11.2008 10:18pm
nyu.law.libertarian (www):
Kid needs to learn what a flash drive is for. But kudos for the self help.
11.11.2008 10:18pm
Sagar:
the guys has his priorities right:)

assuming the pic is that of the perp?
11.11.2008 10:19pm
FantasiaWHT:
Agree with Ari. Before I started doing weekly backups, the idea of losing my laptop scared the piss out of me.
11.11.2008 10:19pm
SPO:
Mr. Batsios is one calm and collected person. I cannot imagine that if I wrestled a baseball bat from an intruder in my house that he would have left my house in anything but a bodybag.

Query too, why should society even give this guy any medical treatment (the stitches) unless he pays for it.
11.11.2008 10:29pm
Constitutional Crisis (mail):
Won't he feel stupid when he gets his ass kicked and STILL can't break the mean...
11.11.2008 10:30pm
John Armstrong (mail) (www):
Wow, law students have it easy. When we told this as Ph.D. students it was a four year thesis.
11.11.2008 10:38pm
neurodoc:
How much time could Mr. Saucedo get? How much time is he likely to get?
11.11.2008 10:53pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
This news site provides more details including a video of an interview with Alex Botsios with a tour through the apartment. You also get a look at the intruder whose description is strangely lacking from other news reports.
11.11.2008 11:09pm
Oren:
BACKUP BACKUP BACKUP. BACKUP!

Anyone whose critical data is in less that three places is a maroon.
11.11.2008 11:14pm
Cornellian (mail):
My laptop does an automatic wireless backup every hour when I am at home. Before I set that up, the idea of losing my laptop would have been terrifying. Now that scenario has been downgraded to merely annoying.
11.11.2008 11:42pm
Pizza Snob:
See? Convincing 1Ls that case briefs mattered almost got somebody killed. Stop the madness and start telling them that vastly superior briefs and notes and outlines are available on the internet now.
11.12.2008 12:20am
Allan (mail):
If he had been packing. . .
11.12.2008 12:36am
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):

Alex Botsios said he learned one lesson from the incident: don't leave windows open.



Lesson Two: "Smith &Wesson"

What if Alex was Alexis?

An aside- I Britain, Alex might have been charged with excessive force.
11.12.2008 12:40am
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):

An aside- In Britain, Alex might have been charged with excessive force.
11.12.2008 12:41am
Bill Poser (mail) (www):

An aside- In Britain, Alex might have been charged with excessive force.


In ancient Rome, on the other hand, he could have taken the culprit outside and killed him with impunity.
11.12.2008 12:58am
Bama 1L:
I found that watching cop shows hindered my performance as a 1L, but evidently this guy was helped.
11.12.2008 1:06am
whit:
"don't take my laptop, bro!"
11.12.2008 2:23am
martinned (mail) (www):
Yep, I already heard this story from another place and time. (Heard it in 2006 about a Ph.D. in Florence's famous EUI, who begged the burglar to let him keep his USB stick.)
11.12.2008 7:15am
LM (mail):
Ari (mail):

My God -- I feel the same way. I could part with most of possessions with little psychic disturbance, but could not possibility lose my data and remain sane.

Though losing the data I have stored on computers would be an impediment to my prosperity, I don't rule out that it might also be the only route to real sanity.
11.12.2008 8:18am
Bill Twist:
Back in my days as a student assistant in a computer lab, I used to tell those poor souls whose computer crashed or otherwise screwed up a couple hours worth of work "If you didn't save it, you didn't want it".

Even though I've been in IT now for almost 2 decades, that lesson is just as true today as it was back then.

One other lesson I've learned: If you want to keep it long term (ie., 10+ years), print it out. I have a collection of media that includes 8 inch and 5.25 inch floppy disks that I can't read anymore because I don't have the hardware, and even if I did, I'd probably have to write some software to convert the data to a format that's readable today.
11.12.2008 8:21am
Computer Nightmare:
I can sympathize with this ASU student. I have a Gateway laptop which needed warranty repair work. Gateway, for those of you that do not know, was recently bought by two companies: Acer and MPC. MPC owns the division I needed, so i sent my laptop to them. Four weeks later no work had been done on it. Earlier this week, they filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

I called and was instructed that all repairs have been put on hold. That was understandable. But, when I asked that they send my laptop back to me, at my expense, unrepaired, they told me no. They said something to the effect that they would not be sending any computers back to their owners until the bankruptcy had run its course. After I told them that could take years, they persisted, but did give me a handy email address to send complaints to...

I'd rather have the person break in my house and steal my laptop then the company who is supposed to do the warranty work to fix it steal it form me...
11.12.2008 8:38am
Cornellian (mail):

One other lesson I've learned: If you want to keep it long term (ie., 10+ years), print it out. I have a collection of media that includes 8 inch and 5.25 inch floppy disks that I can't read anymore because I don't have the hardware, and even if I did, I'd probably have to write some software to convert the data to a format that's readable today.


ASCII text files - it's the only safe format, or possibly pdf. Anyone who relies on Microsoft Word format for long term storage of files is taking nearly as much risk as the person who doesn't make backups.
11.12.2008 8:49am
Mr. Hart:
They'll take my laptop when they pry it from my cold, dead hands.
11.12.2008 8:51am
Happyshooter:
You also get a look at the intruder whose description is strangely lacking from other news reports.

Up in my city the media held a formal meeting with the NAACP and La Raza. They signed an agreement that pictures of minority offenders will only be used if the case is very noteworthy, and races will not be used in any description unless the police are actively hunting a dangerous criminal.

We now have the odd outcome where stories are printed or broadcast about something like a car jacker, where the media gives height, weight, clothing, but not race. This leaves the viewer to guess if the bad guy is black or mexican. Whites are usually given a race, though, and our asians don't commit crimes.
11.12.2008 8:56am
Skipp:
"Why do you think I took you to all those Police Academy movies? For fun? Well I didn't hear anybody laughing. Did you hear anybody laughing?"
11.12.2008 9:11am
Anonymouse Troll:

Computer Nightmare:
MPC owns the division I needed, so i sent my laptop to them. Four weeks later no work had been done on it. Earlier this week, they filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

They said something to the effect that they would not be sending any computers back to their owners until the bankruptcy had run its course. After I told them that could take years, they persisted, but did give me a handy email address to send complaints to...

MPC wasn't getting parts from it's suppliers, since the suppliers weren't getting paid. Chapter 11 will fix that, in 30 days or so, and your interests are aligned with MPCs.

Everyone who's backing up to a local/external device should look at EMC's Mozy. You can back up 2GB free.
11.12.2008 9:19am
rbj:
I had my car broken into and had all my tax books &notes stolen. Of course, this was in the days before widespread computer use so I lost everything -- about 2 weeks before the exam. And no way I was going to backup handwritten notes.

And SPO:

Query too, why should society even give this guy any medical treatment (the stitches) unless he pays for it.


The perp has not been convicted of anything yet. While it looks like an open and shut case here, it isn't up to the police to decide who's innocent and who's guilty.
11.12.2008 9:31am
Bill Twist:
Cornellian:


ASCII text files - it's the only safe format, or possibly pdf. Anyone who relies on Microsoft Word format for long term storage of files is taking nearly as much risk as the person who doesn't make backups.


No. The physically manifested printed word is the only truly safe format for long term data storage, and paper is the only safe (and practical!) media for long term storage.

I personally own books that predate the computer age, at least one by several decades. As long as you keep a book in conditions that you would store electronic media in (dry storage area with low humidity), the written word on paper is readable without any special equipment for centuries, even millennia.

If you are lucky, your electronically stored data will be readable for 20 years or so, at which point you are going to have to store the data on different media because the media will have become obsolete. More than likely though, you'll have to copy it over to new media much more often, probably on the order of 5 to 10 years.

Yes, paper is bulkier than electronic data, and it comes with it's own set of issues, but for long term storage of data there is nothing that beats it today, and I can't see anything beating it in the future.
11.12.2008 9:52am
Laura(southernxyl) (mail) (www):
I'm confused ... if Alex woke up to see the perp holding the bat over his head ready to bust it in, and grabbed it away, struggled, and beat the perp up, when was the "you can have everything else but please don't take my laptop" conversation had?
11.12.2008 10:03am
George Weiss (mail) (www):
kidnapping???
11.12.2008 10:25am
Somedude127 (mail):
Actually the Open Document format does provide longevity in storing data. Sure Word cannot open it but so long as Open Office and the Linux community survive there will be a way to open your documents and continue to leapfrog them forward in time.

If you're really geeky about saving your data for all time, you might try inscribing the data on tougher media. I'm thinking gold. Use a laser and inscribe it like a microfiche include a translation ledger at the front so folks that dig it up in a millennium.
11.12.2008 10:44am
ForWhatItIsWorth:
Democrat response: Let's try to determine *why* he wants to take my laptop away. Poor home environment? Daddy beat him up? He's poor and cannot find another way out? Has a *thing* about laptops and their owners?

Republican response: BOOM!
11.12.2008 10:46am
The Cabbage (mail):
I setup a yahoo email account for notes/outlines storage. Periodically, I'll compress all my data and send it off. Yahoo provides basically unlimited storage, and it would allow my to get my notes and outlines and everything even if my apartment building went up in flames during exams.

Between flash drives and free email, its easy to have a variety of backups without shelling out for an external hard drive. Of course, the external hard drive provides oodles of space for bootlegged music and whatnot...
11.12.2008 11:08am
A. Zarkov (mail):
"Up in my city the media held a formal meeting with the NAACP and La Raza. They signed an agreement that pictures of minority offenders will only be used if the case is very noteworthy, and races will not be used in any description unless the police are actively hunting a dangerous criminal."

The NAACP, La Raza and other hate groups try to hide the fact that blacks and Hispanics have gigantic crime rates because it suggests that the fundamental dogma of multiculturalism is false-- a truly frightening thought to them. This is the Achilles heal of liberalism, so much so they will go to any lengths to suppress information, including press intimidation.
11.12.2008 11:10am
Archon (mail):
A Step-by-Step Manual to Home Defense

Step #1: Go buy handgun, the bigger the better
Step #2: Load with some hollow points
Step #3: Place handgun under pillow every night
Step #4: Place extra magazines in nearby nightstand
Step #5: Go to bed with peace of mind about leaving your windows and doors unlocked.

I sleep with a S&W 500 .50 caliber under my pillow. Never had a worry when I hear an odd sound at night.
11.12.2008 11:10am
Sarcastro (www):
Archon knows sleeping with a gun means you can never get shot.

A. Zarkov knows some races are just barbaric, but that this is being covered up by the Libs.
11.12.2008 11:14am
BRS (mail):
I know the old maxim "you take your victim as you find him" applies to a different situation, but be warned, don't break into houses near law schools a month before finals, because your victim might be a little high strung.
The robber/ burglar was lucky this guy wasn't studying for the bar- he might not have made it out of the room alive.
11.12.2008 11:33am
Archon (mail):

Archon knows sleeping with a gun means you can never get shot.


Well I might get shot, but chances are that I will be doing the shooting first. Once, two drunk kids broke into my house because they thought no one was home. Boy did they get the scare of a lifetime when a man came out of the dark with a huge, shiny revolver. I think they literally s*** their pants. Anyway, the cops got a good laugh at the whole thing as they were stuffing them into the back of the car.


A. Zarkov knows some races are just barbaric, but that this is being covered up by the Libs.


Gees Sarcastro this is old news. Haven't you ever read the Secret Doctrine published in the 1890's?!?!?!?
11.12.2008 11:36am
Cornellian (mail):
The robber/ burglar was lucky this guy wasn't studying for the bar- he might not have made it out of the room alive.

Headline:

"Law student beats robber to death with copy of Glannon's 'Civil Procedure: Examples &Explanations', worries that bloodstains have obscured critical passages"
11.12.2008 11:38am
Cornellian (mail):
If you are lucky, your electronically stored data will be readable for 20 years or so, at which point you are going to have to store the data on different media because the media will have become obsolete. More than likely though, you'll have to copy it over to new media much more often, probably on the order of 5 to 10 years.

Yes, paper is bulkier than electronic data, and it comes with it's own set of issues, but for long term storage of data there is nothing that beats it today, and I can't see anything beating it in the future.



I'll take my chances with the data that I can make five identical copies of, in different locations, with a few keystrokes, over the data that it's one place and hard to copy, even if I have to make those copies every few years.
11.12.2008 11:40am
hattio1:
Bill Twist says;

Yes, paper is bulkier than electronic data, and it comes with it's own set of issues, but for long term storage of data there is nothing that beats it today, and I can't see anything beating it in the future.


I'm told stone tablets do really well. Well enough that we've cracked some dead languages through them. Of course, that could take a wee bit more time than printing out notes on a printer...even an old slow printer.

More generally, on the article. He gave up his guitars before his laptop???? This guy has serious problems.
11.12.2008 11:45am
Virginian:

Archon knows sleeping with a gun means you can never get shot.


As the old police saying goes... you may find me laying dead in ditch, but I will be laying in a pile of spent shell casings.
11.12.2008 11:54am
Sarcastro (www):
Virginian has clearly never fought ninjas.
11.12.2008 12:02pm
Virginian:

Virginian has clearly never fought ninjas.


Are ninjas bulletproof?
11.12.2008 12:07pm
Sarcastro (www):
Virginian

They don't need to be. You'll never see them coming in time to fire!

That's why I stock up on katanas. There's nothing a katana can't do!
11.12.2008 12:15pm
Cornellian (mail):

Lesson Two: "Smith &Wesson"


When they called that student a "Gunner" I thought it was because he was always eager to answer questions in class . . .
11.12.2008 12:15pm
DiverDan (mail):
Computer Nightmare says:


I called and was instructed that all repairs have been put on hold. That was understandable. But, when I asked that they send my laptop back to me, at my expense, unrepaired, they told me no. They said something to the effect that they would not be sending any computers back to their owners until the bankruptcy had run its course. After I told them that could take years, they persisted, but did give me a handy email address to send complaints to...


I say that's the time to: (1) send the Company a written demand for the return of your computer; then (2) if the Debtor doesn't return it, sue it in State Court for conversion. I know, that will provoke the Debtor to threaten you with sanctions for violating the automatic stay, but your response is simple -- the stay does NOT apply to claims that arose after the petition date, like your conversion claim (which arises only after the Debtor, as a bailee, refused your demand for the return of your property), and your lawsuit is expressly authorized by 28 U.S.C. Section 959, which requires Trustees and debtors in possession to comply with state law (including state law which govern the tort of conversion when a bailee refuses a proper demand for the return of the bailed property). If you are less aggressive (or just don't relish the thought of being dragged in front of a Bankruptcy Judge, who probably thinks that sneezing in the Debtor's direction is a violation of the stay), just file an Administrative expense claim based upon the same tort of conversion by the Debtor - the amount of the claim being the replacement cost of your computer, less the cost you would have incurred to fix it.
11.12.2008 12:41pm
Pyrrho (mail):
I have a collection of media that includes 8 inch and 5.25 inch floppy disks that I can't read any more


I would, too, if I hadn't been transferring everything to newer media as soon as it became clear that the old form was becoming obsolete. If the files matter to you, you'll keep updating accordingly.
11.12.2008 12:50pm
Fub:
hattio1 wrote at 11.12.2008 11:45am:
I'm told stone tablets do really well. Well enough that we've cracked some dead languages through them. Of course, that could take a wee bit more time than printing out notes on a printer...even an old slow printer.
Heh. I'll compromise with punched cards and paper tape.

I've still got some of both, not a lot, and nothing with valuable and irreplaceable data, but enough to raise "what the heck is that?" questions from some these days.

The advantage of punched paper is that it's less susceptible to bit rot than magnetic media, and it's almost as easily human readable as machine readable, with a little practice. Actually, these days it's much more readily humanly readable than machine readable, since available card and tape readers are in museums.

Obligatory ridiculous but true story -- I've still got source codes that I transferred from EBCDIC/BCL cards to 7-track mag tape in the 1970s; then from 7-track to 9-track tape; later from 9-track to ASCII 5.25 inch floppies in the 1980s; from floppies to PC hard drives in the later 1980s. Guess I should burn some CD/DVD copies now that I think about it. The original cards are long gone.

A more somber note about bit rot -- I've heard that mountains of early space mission data is mouldering on mag tape in warehouses because even NASA and JPL have had difficulty finding mag tape readers for their old data.
11.12.2008 12:50pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Sarcasto:

"A. Zarkov knows some races are just barbaric, but that this is being covered up by the Libs."

Is it your position that all races commit violent crime at the same rate?
11.12.2008 1:06pm
Sarcastro (www):
[A. Zarkov

my position is that correlation is not causation.]
11.12.2008 1:11pm
John Armstrong (mail) (www):
Actually, these days it's much more readily humanly readable than machine readable, since available card and tape readers are in museums.

Idea for a movie: Team must break into the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry to steal just such a machine, so that they can read the MacGuffin Tape.
11.12.2008 1:32pm
George Lyon (mail):
Believe me I'm a big believer in guns for self defense, but sleeping with an upholstered revolver or an upholstered chambered auto under the pillow is definitely not safe. Way too much chance of an unwelcomed BOOM in the middle of the night. On or in the night stand is to be preferred. BTW that S&W 500 makes a very load boom I'm told.
11.12.2008 1:40pm
David Chesler (mail) (www):
I've got some papertape. It may have the first program I ever wrote. (It's one of those things that turns up from time to time when somebody is moving.) I figured if I cared someone could write a simple image analyzer to read the holes in a scan of the tape. (Mostly it's faster to write another routine to compute factorial, using other than HP2000E time-shared BASIC.)

I think I have some 5.25" floppies. There used to be store in MIT-land that gave away shareware if you bought the floppies onto which you were copying them. Somewhere in there is an almanac (sunrise, etc.) program that had formulae I haven't been able to find on-web. (I never copied it because I didn't own a computer then, and hard drive memory was expensive, so floppy WAS the storage.) If I find the box of floppies and it's not mouse-eaten I might try to install a disk drive to read it. Otherwise, it's like Fub says: I can't read all the 9-track tapes and such, but I copy everything over whenever I get a new hard drive, and the old, full, drive becomes my full backup for that year. Sometimes I even bring the old drive somewhere else.

The timeline isn't clear in the original story (it's not clear if Botsios really said that, or was describing his state of mind) but there is some sense to it. It's better to lose some cash and easily replaceable items than to be tried by twelve -- the latter is even more expensive, and depending on jurisdiction likely if you fight back or display a gun to a burglar. I was mugged and I had less trouble giving up my valuables than giving up an assignment book. (I think they let me keep the book once they saw it wasn't a wallet.)
11.12.2008 2:04pm
Fub:
John Armstrong wrote at 11.12.2008 1:32pm:
Idea for a movie: Team must break into the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry to steal just such a machine, so that they can read the MacGuffin Tape.
Great idea! I'd do it if I weren't so busy drinking chocolate malted falcons and giving away free high schools.
11.12.2008 2:08pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
sarc.
Correlation of what to what is not proof of causation of what?
Seems the crime rate per racial group is a single fact, not a thesis with supporting--or not--evidence.
11.12.2008 2:09pm
The Unbeliever:
Sarcastro:
my position is that correlation is not causation.
Granted, but how is that a case for masking correlation?
11.12.2008 2:12pm
Sarcastro (www):
[

The NAACP, La Raza and other hate groups try to hide the fact that blacks and Hispanics have gigantic crime rates because it suggests that the fundamental dogma of multiculturalism is false--

my emphasis.

That would seem to require that the large crime rates by blacks and Hispanics be caused by their race so as to "subvert the dogma" that their cultures are valid in our civilization.]
11.12.2008 2:19pm
LM (mail):
Sarcastro,

When you have to explain sarcasm, the terrorists win.
11.12.2008 3:06pm
Sarcastro (www):
LM exactly my plan! Muahahahaha!
11.12.2008 3:12pm
The Unbeliever:
That would seem to require that the large crime rates by blacks and Hispanics be caused by their race so as to "subvert the dogma" that their cultures are valid in our civilization.
As I recall, the core idea of multiculturalism is that no one culture is "better" than the other. If a particular culture can be demonstrably linked to higher crime rates--with the assumption that more crime is a bad thing for society in general--the case can be made, contra multiculturalism, that one culture is superior to another.

But that is a statement about cultures, not racial causation; unless you believe crime is literally a disease of some sort, since some diseases have been scientifically linked to racial DNA traits. And yes, trying to separate race from culture is a fool's errand in some cases, but it's an exacting point worth making when a society bases some of its assumptions on a lofty ideal -ism of any sort.
When you have to explain sarcasm, the terrorists win.
Fool! Everyone knows sarcasm is no match for tireless pedantry!
11.12.2008 3:35pm
Not a Hacker (mail):
The real story here is that as usual, the prosecutors ridiculously overcharge. Kidnapping? Where's the libertarian outrage?
11.12.2008 4:16pm
GMUSOL05:

If a particular culture can be demonstrably linked to higher crime rates--with the assumption that more crime is a bad thing for society in general--the case can be made, contra multiculturalism, that one culture is superior to another.


So which is the "culture" at play in your example? Is it being black/hispanic, or is it being poor? Is poverty a culture? Or can you only identify "culture" by the color of someone's skin, and must you ignore other common characteristics?
11.12.2008 4:22pm
Sarcastro (www):
[Many malum prohibitum crimes are products of one society.

Also, I'm not sure if multiculturalism says "all cultures are equal." Instead it says "the set of cultures is not well ordered, so respect all members of the set."
11.12.2008 5:25pm
Prof. S. (mail):
1.) Why is his mother flying from Texas to Arizona just to see him? My mother wouldn't drive across town if this happened to me. Something about being an adult and all.

2.) If you think about it, a laptop computer is probably the most valuable thing for a law student, considering that slight changes in grades can affect jobs. The info. contained on my 1L laptop was my most valuable asset. Yes, I backed it up regularly, no, that didn't mean every day.
11.12.2008 6:10pm
zippypinhead:
Nuts! Too many good comments on this thread to declare any single winner (heck, even Sarcastro was in the running for a while). Call it a draw and deal the next hand, por favor...

Although this guy does give a whole new [and seriously geeky] meaning to "...from my cold, dead hands."
11.12.2008 6:52pm
The Original TS (mail):
Who steals my purse steals trash; 'tis something, nothing;
'Twas mine, 'tis his, and has been slave to thousands;
But he that filches from me my laptop
Robs me of that which not enriches him,
And makes me poor indeed;
Verily, he shalt merit a thrashing.
11.12.2008 7:45pm
pst314 (mail):
"the core idea of multiculturalism is that no one culture is 'better' than the other"

Well, that's the official line, but of course the real core idea is that every other culture is superior to the Western European cultures. Not that they really believe it, but it's a useful tool in their attempts to destroy our culture and advance leftism.
11.12.2008 9:45pm
Mrbarnes (mail):
Sarcastro faps it to his own comments..."Correlation is not causation?" What does that even mean? Seriously.
11.12.2008 10:02pm
Bill Twist:
Cornellian:


If you are lucky, your electronically stored data will be readable for 20 years or so, at which point you are going to have to store the data on different media because the media will have become obsolete. More than likely though, you'll have to copy it over to new media much more often, probably on the order of 5 to 10 years.

Yes, paper is bulkier than electronic data, and it comes with it's own set of issues, but for long term storage of data there is nothing that beats it today, and I can't see anything beating it in the future.




I'll take my chances with the data that I can make five identical copies of, in different locations, with a few keystrokes, over the data that it's one place and hard to copy, even if I have to make those copies every few years.


I can do the same thing with my printer: Print out 5 identical copies with minimal effort, and put them in different locations.

The benefit of my method is that since neither you nor I can guess what sort of media and data format will still be available or common in the future, having a hard copy ensures that it will be readable in future. Twenty or thirty years from now, your data will be unreadable without extraordinary effort. Mine will still be readable.

Don't think that I am some kind of Luddite, either: I've been in the Information Technology business for nineteen years, and I was a computer geek long before that. I bought my first computer back in 1982, and I've owned and used almost continuously at least one since then. I know several programming languages, use a couple of them on a daily basis, and I'm geeky enough to parse regular expressions for fun.

It's because of my exposure to the handling of electronic data over an extended period of time that I've come to my conclusion, not in spite of it. Electronic data is ephemeral compare to the printed word, and should be handled accordingly. Anyone who doesn't act accordingly with important or sensitive data, like the student in the article, is a fool.
11.13.2008 7:59am
zippypinhead:
Electronic data is ephemeral compare[d] to the printed word, and should be handled accordingly.
Personally, I've been waiting for one good burst of electromagnetic pulse to catapult us back sometime into the 19th century.

If a state or non-state naughty bunch with nukes gets really ticked off at us, launching one warhead into the sky with a short-range missile from a ship off the East Coast would definitely mess with us. One low-yield, high-EMP airburst over the Northeast Corridor would wipe most if not all East-coast unshielded magnetic storage, plus scramble more than enough of the chip-based memory and processors (including those that run everybody's car) to paralyze the economy, communications, and most of the government. EMP would be the most effective countervalue and cyber-weapon known to man.

New ready.gov slogan: The Amish are ready. Are you?

And future generations of historians will be sad... lots of the historical record of our time will be lost. Of course, a lot will be lost anyway even without a catastrophe, just because storage devices and electronic file format changes will make much data inaccessible. And this isn't going to be a surprise: the Archivist of the United States is reportedly having fits over data format issues with U.S. Government data that must be preserved by law.
11.13.2008 8:25am
Commodore:
Kudos to Mr. Botsios for exercising his right to defend himself and his property. The trash that entered his home got no more (and probably less) than what he deserved.
11.13.2008 12:01pm
sonicfrog (mail) (www):
Anyone here good at flash? This cries out to be made into an "Aliens" spoof!

"Get Away From My Laptop... You... Bitch!!!!"
11.13.2008 2:12pm
The Unbeliever:
So which is the "culture" at play in your example? Is it being black/hispanic, or is it being poor?
Does it matter? My main point was that hiding facts concerning racial aspects just because they may reveal un-PC trends is a Bad Thing(tm). Call it a bias for having more data publicly available instead of concealing arbitrary data attributes.

If you want to delve into thornier arguments than I care to explore in this thread, we could talk about the "gangsta culture", the genericized "hip-hop culture", and maybe even a certain "Hyde Park culture" which produced a notable milestone on Nov 4th. These discussions would be incomplete without bringing in socio-economic realities, the geographic origins of each particular strain, and, yes, race. And eventually we could get around to the positive and negative impacts such sub-cultures have on society as a whole.

But such a conversation is utterly meaningless if we must start from an unchallenged dogma of multiculturalism. Look at the comment which kicked this off--A. Zarkov was expressing disgust that the NAACP and La Raza were actively trying to hide the very data which makes such public debates possible. Sarcastro's "correlation does not equal causation" line may be a golden rule of statistical study, but it deserves scorn when combined with his direct response to Zarkov: "[he] knows some races are just barbaric, but that this is being covered up by the Libs".

Squelching debate about large societal issues by flinging charges of racism is trite enough to become a stereotype of the Left. It would be pathetic, if it weren't so constantly reinforced by their actions.
Is poverty a culture?
A more interesting question; I've always held it's a mentality, not a culture. Growing up I was repeatedly taught to be careful of "the Depression mentality", a specific mindset my parents observed in my grandparents who had gone through the Great Depression. Decades later, my grandparents were comfortably middle class with significant retirement savings, but still spent little and pinched pennies as if the Depression lurked just around the corner.

I believe the "poverty" culture you mention is different--it implies a sense of aggrievement and destitution, instead of the perpetual worry that poverty is constantly imminent--but my point is certain behaviors and attitudes regarding wealth and property can cross actual economic lines. Yet another tangent I'd rather not wander into on this thread.
Or can you only identify "culture" by the color of someone's skin, and must you ignore other common characteristics?
Certainly not. What cultural membership does Bill Cosby and 50 Cent have in common? Eminem and Dick Cheney? Louis Farrakhan and Barak Obama? (I'll be disappointed if I don't get an angry reponse to that last one!)
11.13.2008 4:30pm