Saturday, January 2, 2016


  1. please don't come around these parts, to tell me that we're all a bunch of animals
  2. Anderson Paak re: Baltimore
Cheap life in the Mexican-American drug war is "carne asada". This is a story about us. About animals in America.

Jennifer Hudson (b Chicago, Illinois 1981) in W Magazine (citation):
  1. We’re acting like animals. It’s unfortunate that things are this way, but it’s not going to change unless we do something about it. Even in filming the movie, there were times where more and more incidents kept happening. And Spike kept writing it into the movie. Those who don’t get it, it’s like, how don’t you get it when this is what the issue is? And if you do have a problem with it, have a solution to come along with it. What plan do you have? How do you not try? And what are we supposed to do—just kill each other?
Michele Leonhart (b Fargo, North Datoka 1956) in Washington Post (citation):
  1. U.S. and Mexican officials say the grotesque violence is a symptom the cartels have been wounded by police and soldiers. “It may seem contradictory, but the unfortunate level of violence is a sign of success in the fight against drugs,” said Michele Leonhart, head of the Drug Enforcement Administration. The cartels “are like caged animals, attacking one another,” she added.
The answer, I think, may be summarized as an archetype: Michele Leonhart.

The confluence of "animal" allusions reminds me of another encounter from my 2015 reading on the theme "human as animal": John Gray's The Silence of the Animals" and criticism of the same. The formula for "humans are animals" is as old as Aristotle, who (in Greek) categorized us something to the effect of "man by nature is a political animal". That phrase appeared in a "natural" history - among the earliest works of zoology. Letting zoological free association work - and signaling the success of physically athletic identities - it's amazing the extent to which I (b California 1982) associate orioles and ravens to Baltimore; bulls, bears (cubs), and "black hawks" to Chicago.

Hypothetically, Hudson's and Leonhart's use of "animals" to characterize Americans in Chicago "black markets" and Mexico war zones have a common intent: to communicate degradation of the American condition. For Hudson, American degradation to "like animals" is a tragedy - herself a repeat victim; for Leonhart, American degradation to "caged animals" is a triumph - success in the fight.

Both can be valid in the Aristotelian view. Humans (incl, maybe esp?, modern Americans) are political animals. In that view, it's irrelevant which among us is and which is not "an animal". We all are. What matters is which ones hold power, make decisions, and control natural resources. Hypothetically, the problem for us isn't degradation - but denial. Denial that we Americans actually are animals. What if that denial is...dangerous? Hypothetically, denial of who we really yield insecurity questions and unresolved sources of American insecurity evident in the idea: #ChicagoIguala.

My drafts (eg, #ChicagoIguala) and cartography (eg, Great Lakes) describe, document and visualize Q&A regarding the physical security of American plant, animal life. I investigate insecurity of American animals in relation to an array of plants - esp plants that yield products affecting our minds:

  • sugar>sucrose and alcohol, 
  • coca>cocaine, 
  • coffee>caffeine, 
  • tobacco>nicotine, 
  • marijuana>cannabinoid, 
  • poppy>opioid. 

Maybe American animals are what we eat?  What we ate? What Europe ate?

Does that change how we think about the plants that change our minds? Or, does it argue for the status quo?
Kern County, Calif., Sheriff Donny Youngblood, president of the Major Counties Sheriffs’ Association, the group that sponsored Leonhart’s talk Tuesday at its annual meeting in Washington, D.C., said Leonhart called out Obama for what Youngblood described as “irresponsible” comments that were a “big slap in the face” to cops who have lost their lives keeping drugs off the street. 
“This is a woman who has spent 33 years of her life fighting drug abuse in the DEA, her entire life. To have the president of the United States publicly say marijuana was a bad habit like alcohol was appalling to everyone in that room,” Youngblood said. “I think the way that she felt was that it was a betrayal of what she does for the American people in enforcing our drug laws. ... She got a standing ovation.”
Youngblood appears to be a relevant national figure worthy of future attention. April 2015 in the LA Times, the Kern County sheriff leaned approvingly towards Arizona security models.  - especially the appropriate use of force.
The Taser X26 used by the Kern County deputies deliver a 50,000 volt charge. Compressed nitrogen propels a pair of “probes”—aluminum darts tipped with stainless steel barbs connected to the X26 by insulated wires—at a rate of over 160 feet per second. Removal of the barbed probes requires hospitalization so that a doctor can remove them with a scalpel.
Hypothetically, electrical control of a person's central nervous system is a pretty big deal -  the nervous system is a physically differentiating attribute of humans from other animals. Kern County reliably presents challenges for how we police ourselves. For example, in 2015, according to Guardian data, Kern County law enforcement killed more people per capita than any other county in the United States.

Generally speaking, those are SW USA border counties, proximate to the Rio Grande and Gulf of Mexico frontiers between ~314M Americans in USA and ~700M+ North, Central, and South Americans. 5 in California. 3 in Texas. One in Arizona. One in Florida. They are jurisdictions of commercial and cultural exchange between northern and southern Americans. Very subjectively, from a high-level perspective, those counties form a loose-knit frontier force - a kind of soft Maginot Line  - around and through which illegal plants, products, humans travel north. And through which "illegal money" travel south. Both flows present exposure to legal violations and law enforcement action.

The map below depicts dozens of markers and a couple of fault lines crossing North America. The markers signify USA and American cities with the greatest homicide density. The lines on top represent two corridors for illegal North American business - and physical insecurity in North America. I do not think it's coincidental that those lines intersect just off Huntsville, Walker County, Texas, home to the Walls, Texas' first public work completed in 1849:
There's the antebellum stage, and Texas built a penitentiary in Huntsville in 1848, but that was reserved almost exclusively for whites. According to statute, African-Americans, slave or free, could only be punished with hanging or whipping. The penitentiary was quite important during the Civil War, because they built a textile factory at the Walls [in Huntsville], and it was a key source of uniforms and tents for Confederate units. But after the Civil War, before radical Reconstruction began, there was this effort by Confederates who had been defeated to reestablish "white man's government," as they called it. They passed all these vagrancy statutes and black codes and forced labor contracts, and that led to Texas' first black felon boom. (The second felon boom came about in the 1970s, Eighties, and Nineties.) 
Texas, like other Southern states, decided not to deal with those people by sending them to prison, but they hired them out to the highest bidder, and that was the convict-leasing system. Texas had the biggest convict-leasing system in the country, which is also something that is not widely known. If you look at the smokestack at Imperial Sugar in Sugar Land, that was a whole industry that was revitalized with convict labor. Texas' first transcontinental rail links – which were important for the late 19th century cotton boom – were built with the assistance of convicts, the first iron factory in the state was a convict enterprise, and a lot of the stone work and iron work at the state Capitol, built in the 1880s, was done by prisoners.
Louisiana - the most prolific jailer state in the most incarcerated country - is immediately next door in the eastern quadrant of the plot.

Among USA counties with high rates of per capita police killing, Cook County is a northern exception to the SW frontier bias. But consider Cook County's attributes:
Those attributes make Cook County, and Chicago, an exception that proves the rule. Witness the organized crime connectivity between Sinaloa Mexico and Chicago Illinois. Observe the diffusion of violence, where the pins below mark the USA cities where homicide is most dense per person per square mile, around the Great Lakes:

Note too the persistence of hyper segregated political clusters in this ecosystem. From 1970 to 2010 - and moving east to west - Milwaukee, Chicago, Detroit, Flint, Cleveland, Rochester remained "hyper segregated" - a quantitive score of how demographically dissimilar an ecology is. In that time, Buffalo converted from "hyper segregated" to merely one of North America's most segregated cities. Perhaps simply trading places with nearby Rochester, New York.

Hypothetically, those public health distress signals may help us prioritize problems of insecurity, pain, and health among us American political animals. From continental to county levels. I am not neutral about the answers. I hope this work serves the goal I set Memorial Day 2015 to raise $1M in support of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.

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