Tag Archives: David Simon

Baltimore hasn’t been ‘neglected.’ It has been misgoverned into the ground.

Rich Lowry writes in Politico

Obama doesn’t have the slightest idea how to fix Baltimore. While parts of his diagnosis are sound — communities like West Baltimore obviously lack for fathers and business investment — his solutions fall back on liberal bromides going back 50 years.

Obama said, cuttingly, that this Congress won’t approve “massive investments in urban communities.” Dating back to the Kerner Commission in the aftermath of the riots of the 1960s, the left’s go-to solution to urban problems has been more social programs. Since then, we’ve gotten more social programs — and just as many urban problems.

Exhibit A is Baltimore itself. The city hasn’t been “neglected.” It has been misgoverned into the ground. It is a Great Society city that bought into the big-government vision of the 1960s more than most, and the bitter fruit has been corruption, violence and despair.

All you need to know about the confused ineffectuality of the city’s leadership was evident in the purposefully inadequate initial response to the mayhem, apparently on the theory that a little rioting is OK.

And why not? The left has a soft spot for rioters. As soon as the windows start breaking, it rolls outs its intellectually rancid excuse-making for the destruction of property.

As police cars burned and businesses were ransacked, progressives declared nonviolence “a ruse” (Ta-Nehisi Coates); hailed looting as “a legitimate political strategy” (Salon); and called the senseless rampage part of a series of, sententiously all-caps, “UPRISINGS” (Marc Lamont Hill).

The lesson is that when the revolution comes, you best not own or operate a small business, or especially a CVS (drugstores, apparently, are notorious enemies of the people)

So what is the solution according to Lowry

We don’t know all the facts surrounding Freddie Gray’s tragic, and highly suspicious, death. But as a general matter, it is easy to believe that the Baltimore police are corrupt, dysfunctional and unaccountable — because most of the Baltimore government is that way. Mayors and police commissioners get convicted of crimes.

This is a failure exclusively of Democrats, unless the root causes of Baltimore’s troubles are to be traced to its last Republican mayor, Theodore Roosevelt McKeldin, who left office in 1967. And it is an indictment of a failed model of government.

Baltimore is a hostile business environment and high-tax city, with malice aforethought. “Officials raised property taxes 21 times between 1950 and 1985,” Steve Hanke and Stephen Walters of Johns Hopkins University write in The Wall Street Journal, “channeling the proceeds to favored voting blocs and causing many homeowners and entrepreneurs — disproportionately Republicans — to flee. It was brilliant politics, as Democrats now enjoy an eight-to-one voter registration advantage.”

To counterbalance the taxes, they note, developers need to be lured to the city with subsidies, and the developers, in turn, contribute to politicians to stay in their good graces. This makes for fertile ground for the city’s traditional corruption.

Baltimore’s preferred driver of growth has been government. Urban experts Fred Siegel and Van Smith write in City Journal that Baltimore has “emphasized a state-sponsored capitalism that relies almost entirely on federal and state subsidies, rather than market investments.” The model makes for some high-profile development projects, but trickle-down crony capitalism hasn’t worked for everyone else.

For those left behind, Maryland has one of the most generous welfare systems in the country, according to Michael Tanner of the Cato Institute.

Baltimore has been good at sucking up federal and state subsides, and at taxing and at spending. The other functions of government? Not so much.

Mayor Kurt Schmoke, in office for three terms beginning in the late 1980s, was notoriously soft on crime. Siegel and Smith write, “During the nineties, tolerant Baltimore’s crime rate, much of it drug-fueled, rocketed upward (75 percent of the city’s murders were drug-related); tough-on-crime New York’s plummeted.”

Under Mayor Martin O’Malley’s subsequent, more strenuous policing (something he got heckled for in the streets of Baltimore the other day), the crime rate dropped. But it is still a violent city. Murders went up in 2013, and Baltimore had the fifth-highest murder rate among cities with a population of 100,000 or more.

The schools, predictably, are a disaster, run by and for the teachers unions. (If the left’s vigilantes for justice really wanted to strike a blow against The Man, they would have besieged the headquarters of the Baltimore city schools.)

On top of all this, two-thirds of births in the city are out-of-wedlock. Toya Graham is being rightly celebrated for smacking her 16-year-old son and getting him out of the streets during the rioting. You can admire her pluck and still be daunted by the challenges she faces as a single mother of six.

Okay, I can agree that Baltimore his corrupt.  It has a long history of racial and corrupt politics but to stay that these riots are happening because of taxation and a lack of a free market economy is a little much.

At the same time part of me kind of agrees with Lowry.  A more charitable business climate, more entrepreneurship, and more and better jobs would have made a difference but there are other factors at play.  Racism in the workplace that limit many capable black men and women, inferior schools, redlining which limits lending and investment based on neighbourhoods (a racist lending practice that has long devastated black communities), and of course problems in the police force, something that David Simon has written on for years. 

Baltimore is not a partisan problem.  It is much more complicated than that and if anyone from the right or left who says otherwise is wrong.

Christmas & Holiday Gift Guide for Your Brother-in-Law | 2014 Edition

It is Wendy again with my second Christmas gift guide of 2014. So you may have heard of Jordon’s brother Lee.  Lee is a great brother to Jordon, great brother-in-law to me, and an even better uncle to Mark and Oliver.  If you have a brother-in-law like Lee, here is some Christmas and holiday gift ideas for him.

Generation Kill

Generation Kill is a television miniseries produced for HBO, based on the 2004 book of the same name by Evan Wright about his experience as an embedded reporter with the U.S. Marine Corps’ 1st Reconnaissance Battalion during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. It was adapted for television by David Simon, Ed Burns and Evan Wright.  Jordon and Mark loved it when they saw it.   So will your brother-in-law.

Available at Amazon for $23

Sennheiser HD 202 II Professional Headphones

The Sennheiser HD202II are closed, dynamic hi-fi stereo headphones. Good insulation against ambient noise and a deep bass response make them the ideal companion for DJs – or anyone who likes to listen to modern, powerful music without disturbing others. High efficiency drivers for maximum performance.  They are some amazing headphones for a really inexpensive price.

Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 Elite Edition Quadcopter

Get him a remote control quadcopter controlled using an iOS or Android smartphone or tablet.  You can record 720p high-definition live video streaming & recording to smartphone or tablet while flying which a wide variety of preprogrammed cinematic effects.  Plus it is a remote controlled helicopter.  How much fun will he have with that?

Pentax Q-S1 Camera

It fires off five frames per second, records hi-def video, and shoots in Raw, a format that allows for maximum post-processing. But the QS-1s biggest selling point is also its most obvious: it’s the smallest interchangeable-lens camera in existence at around 7 ounces.  They can play pro everywhere they go.

Canon EOS 7D Mark II Digital SLR Camera with 18-135mm IS STM Lens

Canon just came out with their most anticipated camera of the year with the Canon 7D Mark II.  A camera that is designed for photographing sports and wildlife.

The Canon EOS 7D Mark II GPS Digital SLR Camera features a refined APS-C sized 20.2 Megapixel CMOS sensor with Dual DIGIC 6 Image Processors for gorgeous imagery. It shoots up to 10 frames per second at ISOs ranging from 100-16000 (expandable to H1: 25600, H2: 51200), has a 65-point all cross-type AF system and features Canon’s amazing Dual Pixel CMOS AF for brilliant Live-View AF. It has dual card slots for both CF and SD cards, USB 3.0 connectivity and even has built-in GPS for easy location tagging.

Includes Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM Zoom Lens.

Are you going to shell out $2149 for your brother-in-law or brother this Christmas?  That’s for you decide but let me tell you one thing.  If you get him this camera, he’ll love it.

Winners of the World Championship BBQ Cook-Off for six years in a row and with hundreds of other contest ribbons as well, nobody does barbecue better than Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q in Decatur, Alabama. Chris Lilly, executive chef of Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q and great-grandson-in-law of Big Bob himself, now passes on the family secrets in this quintessential guide to barbecue.

From dry rubs to glazes and from sauces to slathers, Lilly gives the lowdown on Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q’s award-winning seasonings and combinations. You?ll learn the unique flavors of different woods and you?ll get insider tips on creating the right heat?be it in a charcoal grill, home oven, or backyard ground pit. Then, get the scoop on pulled pork, smoked beef brisket, pit-fired poultry, and, of course, ribs.

Magellan eXplorist 310 Waterproof Hiking GPS

The Magellan eXplortst 310 GPS receiver provides essential outdoor navigation with a high-resolution colour screen, waterproof design, paperless geocaching, and superior mapping, including preloaded World Edition and upload able map capability.  Jordon has one and loves it.  Your brother-in-law will love his as well every time that he leaves the road.  Make sure you include a Pelican 1050 waterproof case for $26.

Dartboard in Oak Finish Cabinet

The board, which comes housed in a solid oak cabinet, is made of a high-grade, “self-healing” sisal that looks smooth and lasts for years. Scoring is handled by the pair of chalk scoreboards–one on the inside of each door–that make it easy to tally scores for several players at once. And below each chalkboard sits a shelf that holds a single set of brass darts (included), so you needn’t worry about misplacing the darts between games. It’s the oak cabinet that really stands out, however, thanks to its durable finger-joint construction and light oak finish.

The cabinet not only hides your board from view when you’re not playing and protects your wall from errant darts when you are, but also looks great amidst both traditional and modern furnishings. The cabinet, which measures 18.5 by 20 by 2.5 inches (W x H x D) when closed.  Plus its better that he is throwing things at his walls rather than your walls.

Dynamite Fire-Starter Crate

Invented in 1866 by Alfred Nobel, dynamite’s cylindrical shape perfectly fit down the drilling holes used in mining operations. When the charges were set, the now-famous phrase “fire in the hole” was cried to warn miners of the coming blast. Though the contents of this sturdy wood crate will not move mountains, they will start your fireplace. One look at the realistic “dynamite” crate will have family and friends looking twice. Each cedar wood crate contains 20, 8″L x 1-1/4″W, fire-starter sticks. They are made of paraffin and sawdust for a long, hot burn. Each stick will burn approximately 30 minutes setting ablaze even the most stubborn wood.

Plus there is the joy that comes from yelling, €œFire in the hole € every time he lights a fire.

JetBoil Personal Cooking System

If your brother-in-law is an outdoors type, help him a little extra fun to his outdoor cooking adventures with the Jetboil Flash personal cooking system. The all-in-one Flash combines an adjustable stainless-steel burner and a 1-liter FluxRing cooking vessel in a single compact unit.

The all-in-one Flash cooking system boils 2 cups of water for cocoa, coffee, instant soup, or other meals.

To use, simply add water or liquid to the 1-liter cooking cup and fix it to the burner. Within two minutes, the Flash will provide two cups of boiling water for cocoa, coffee, instant soup, or a gourmet freeze-dried meal. It’s easy, convenient, and fun. Plus, everything you need stacks and stores inside the FluxRing cooking cup, including the burner and fuel canister.

Yes, you read correctly, get your brother-in-law a hydrogen reactor from Brunton.  Swap the hydrogen fuel cells in and out of the core for hours of power off-the-grid and on-the-go. Each is Capable of 6 iPhone recharges; 5v 2amp output Great to power USB devices like smartphones, tablet computers, UV water purifiers, rechargeable lights, portable game consoles, GPS transceivers and more.
If your brother-in-law is going to stop by and be helpful, he needs a knife that is up to the past.  The Handyman Swiss Army Knife is that tool.

If the brother-in-law that you are shopping for is into camping and the outdoors, check out the Christmas and Holiday Gift Guide for Outdoorsmen and Adventurers  or my guide for the men in your life.

So another Christmas Gift Guide is done.  Hope you find it useful.  To read all of the other Christmas & Holiday Gift Guides, check out the list here.  If you have comments or suggestions, let me know in the comments below.

David Simon (creator of The Wire) on PRISM

It’s been happening for a long time.

Having labored as a police reporter in the days before the Patriot Act, I can assure all there has always been a stage before the wiretap, a preliminary process involving the capture, retention and analysis of raw data. It has been so for decades now in this country. The only thing new here, from a legal standpoint, is the scale on which the FBI and NSA are apparently attempting to cull anti-terrorism leads from that data. But the legal and moral principles? Same old stuff.

Allow for a comparable example, dating to the early 1980s in a place called Baltimore, Maryland.

There, city detectives once began to suspect that major traffickers were using a combination of public pay phones and digital pagers to communicate their business. And they took their suspicions to a judge and obtained court orders — not to monitor any particular suspect, but to instead cull the dialed numbers from the thousands and thousands of calls made to and from certain city pay phones.

Think about it. There is certainly a public expectation of privacy when you pick up a pay phone on the streets of Baltimore, is there not? And certainly, the detectives knew that many, many Baltimoreans were using those pay phones for legitimate telephonic communication. Yet, a city judge had no problem allowing them to place dialed-number recorders on as many pay phones as they felt the need to monitor, knowing that every single number dialed to or from those phones would be captured. So authorized, detectives gleaned the numbers of digital pagers and they began monitoring the incoming digitized numbers on those pagers — even though they had yet to learn to whom those pagers belonged. The judges were okay with that, too, and signed another order allowing the suspect pagers to be “cloned” by detectives, even though in some cases the suspect in possession of the pager was not yet positively identified.

All of that — even in the less fevered, pre-Patriot Act days of yore — was entirely legal. Why?

Because they aren’t listening to the calls.

Here is what does happen

In Baltimore thirty years ago, after the detectives figured out which pay phones were dialing pagers, and then did all the requisite background checks and surveillance to identify the drug suspects, they finally went to a judge and asked for a wiretap on several pay phones. The judge looked at the police work and said, okay, you can record calls off those public pay phones, but only if you have someone watching the phones to ensure that your suspects are making the calls and not ordinary citizens. And if you make a mistake and record a non-drug-involved call, you will of course “minimize” the call and cease recording.

It was at that point — and not at the earlier stage of gathering thousands and thousands of dialed numbers and times of call — that the greatest balance was sought between investigative need and privacy rights. And in Baltimore, that wiretap case was made and the defendants caught and convicted, the case upheld on appeal. Here, too, the Verizon data corresponds to the sheets and sheets of printouts of calls from the Baltimore pay phones, obtainable with a court order and without any demonstration of probable cause against any specific individual. To get that far as a law-abiding investigator, you didn’t need to know a target, only that the electronic medium is being used for telephonic communication that is both illegal and legal. It’s at the point of actually identifying specific targets and then seeking to listen to the conversations of those targets that the rubber really hits the road.

Monday Morning

Here is a summary of my weekend

  • Finished The Patrol by Ryan Flavelle by which is about a seven day patrol by Canadian troops in Afghanistan.  Recommended.
  • Came into work on Sunday and prepped for a meeting that I having this morning.
  • Had coffee with the Siebert’s which is always a good time.  I was also introduced to Ubuntu which is fast even on a P4.  It runs Libre Office, Skype, has five gigs of backup space, and handles email and the web just fine (Chrome and Firefox).  I could see The Lighthouse using it for both residential and office computers.  Oh yeah, Jared told me it installed in ten minutes which is 47 hours and 50 minutes faster than a Vista or XP install is taking me.
  • Finished watching Generation Kill.  It’s not as good as The Wire (few shows are) but it is amazing in it’s own way.  I really enjoyed both the book by Evan Wright and the show which was done by David Simon and Ed Burns.

Column: Looking at some bigger issues

Tomorrow I woke up to a steady stream of email and tweets coming into my Blackberry about my first column appearing today in The StarPhoenix.  It’s an introductory column so there wasn’t a lot of original research put into it (I knew the topic pretty well).  While today the column appeared on A3, it is moving to the Forum for it’s regular rotation.  As a friend joked, “You’ve been demoted and pushed back already.  In a month you’ll be in the Classified ads.”

Writing for print is a lot different than writing online.  Word Limits and a lack of hyperlinks.  Regular readers of this site know I tend to ramble on and on and on.  I can turn something better said on Twitter into 1000 words with no problem and that’s not a virtue.  That has been dealt with by giving a limit on the number of words which means that literally hundreds of passive unnecessary words will be stripped from the article before you get a chance to read it.  As Martha Stewart says, “That’s a good thing.”

The second issue is the lack of footnotes and hyperlinks to document what I say.  That is a big issue for me because while I have strong opinions, I like to believe they come from fact and an honest search for the truth.  For right now, each column will be greeted with a background sidebar here.  It will have links to sources, more information, and even dissenting opinions that I used to create the column.  While you will make up your own mind regardless of what I say, hopefully this will make that a little easier.

Some of the email and comments I got in this morning asked about my political leanings.  I don’t know which way I lean.  I don’t know if I am right wing or left wing anymore and to be honest, I grow tired of populist politicians.  I grew up as a Red Tory but I lost my partisanship (and I think my party) along the way.  I wish I could be to the left or the right of where I am as I think it would make for quicker writing, the ability to dismiss my critics with a label, and I am pretty sure both Heather Mallick and Ezra Levant both make more money than I do.  I do enjoy politics.  On my staff and among my friends I have partisans on both sides of where I am at.  It makes for great discussions but in the end I find myself somewhere in the middle.  Like I said, I care more about policy then I do politics.  More than a political ideology, I have been influenced by several thinkers, James Howard Kunstler, Steven Johnson, Malcolm Gladwell, David Simon/Ed Burns and Thomas Homer-Dixon. While they all look at the world in a different way, the one thing they have in common is their ability to dissect and take apart an issue in their search for understanding.  That’s what I hope to do.

Before it gets swallowed up by the PostMedia server where many articles go to die, I’ll archive it here.

The StarPhoenix's old mastheadThe StarPhoenix is introducing a new columnist, Jordon Cooper. He writes about urban issues, public policy and its impact on the lives of those at the margins of society. He wasn’t born in Saskatoon but was raised here. He is the residential coordinator for The Salvation Army Community Services. His column will usually appear on the Forum page.

I was in Starbucks trying to figure out how they make their coffee so hot and still have it remain liquid when I got the offer to write this column for The StarPhoenix. When discussing my first column, it was suggested I introduce myself to the masses, something that is more awkward to do than one would think. I guess I could have refused but it’s not as if I have a volume of columns or vast fame to fall back on. My name recognition is even lower than that guy who runs the Saskatchewan Liberal party.

Some quick research shows that I moved here in 1984 from Calgary and with the exception of one year, I have lived here. It pains me to write this, but I do make Sarah Palin look well-travelled (and I didn’t even have to protect the United States from Soviet attack). For the last five years I have been employed by The Salvation Army Community Services. I have worked at a couple of different positions there and am currently the men’s residential co-ordinator, which means that I coordinate the team of people who keep the men’s shelter open and functioning. They are also the staff who provide front-line support and monitoring of The Salvation Army’s halfway house – which is not nearly as exciting as it seems. From midnight until the Ministry of Social Services awakens from its nightly slumber at 8 a.m., they provide emergency support to those in crisis.

During that time we have seen some crazy things: Dial-a-dopes, a couple having sex in the middle of Avenue C South when it was -30 C; letting one guy bring his half-dog, half-toothless coyote into the shelter to get her and her owner off the street (the centre has no policy that prohibits toothless coyotes from staying here). There have been the stories that stick with you; the prostitutes beaten up by johns who come in during the night – they aren’t looking for medical help but for assistance in getting their money back (outside of our mandate); the teen girls working the streets during school break because of a lack of food; a mother prostituting out her mentally impaired daughter, listening on one end of the phone to a girl being beaten by her mother and her boyfriend on the other end. There is also the insane loss in human potential that comes from children using drugs at a young age and seeing their emotional development stop forever.

When I go home at the end of the day, I often have more questions than answers about the system and how it affects the people who rely on it. It’s not just the social safety net that I have questions about; it is the larger context of the city we call home and the planet that shapes us. As Thomas Friedman put it in the June 7 New York Times, we are at a point “when food prices spiked, energy prices soared, world population surged, tornadoes plowed through cities, floods and droughts set records, populations were displaced and governments were threatened by the confluence of it all – and ask ourselves: what were we thinking? How did we not panic when the evidence was so obvious that we’d crossed some growth/ climate/natural resource/ population red lines all at once?” While I silently grumble as I fill my car with fuel and I notice that my beloved three-cheese Kraft Dinner is a little more expensive this week than it was last week, the changes that we are seeing globally have a much more dramatic impact on those who have no margins in their lives and that’s going to be the most significant challenge we have as a society going forward. Handle it right, and we see a vast opportunity for prosperity for all of us. Handle it incorrectly, and we start to look more and more like a Detroit or a Buffalo, N.Y.

In the end, I want to talk about policy, not politics. I enjoy the theatre we call question period as much as anyone, but others do a good job of talking about that. I want to tackle some of the big-picture changes that will affect our daily lives and what we can do about them.

For a decade now I have been exploring different ideas online. Writing online makes it easier to point to other ideas and sources. The problem with print is that you can click all you want on the paper edition of The StarPhoenix and it isn’t taking you anywhere. If you want to read more, check my sources for yourself or discuss anything I write further, you can track it down at www.jordoncooper.com or find me at twitter.com/ jordoncooper.

June 20th, 2011

Finally, for those of you who have been used to me posting here for almost a decade, things will remain the same.  There will just be 800 words heading to The StarPhoenix every Monday.

Christmas Gift Ideas for Really Smart People | 2010 Edition

You need a gift for someone smart, someone who wants to know about everything – what happened, how it works, why it all got started. Fortunately, the globally curious have a lot of hobbies which makes them kind of easy to shop for, even if you don’t always remember to sleep and eat.  Below are some ideas for the smart people in your life.  If you are looking for something not so elitist, check out my other Christmas Gift Guides.

Sangean WR-11 AM/FM Table Top Radio :: CBC Radio and NPR sounds so much more profound coming from a wooden radio.  Speaking from personal experience, there is something about sitting around a radio on a hot summer day, sipping iced tea, while reading a good magazine.

Your own personal card cataloging system :: It seems like book thieves are everywhere these days. Even your closest friends will try to keep your rare, out-of-print novels if you don’t keep an eye on them. And no one really wants to pay $60 for another one. Thankfully, there now is a solution to your book-losing woes. The Personal Library Kit provides everything you need for keeping track of books, and an eye on those shameful book thieves.  Of course card cataloging your books is only half the battle, keeping them organized is the second half.  Sure you could use LibraryThing but check out this old school way of keeping your cards organized.

Amazon Kindle with Wifi | I wasn’t convinced that I needed or wanted an Amazon Kindle until the Kindle 3 came out.  First of all the hardware is amazing; one month of battery life, wifi, built in web browser, support for Instapaper… The other reason is that you don’t even need a Kindle to read Kindle books…Amazon has readers for the iPad, iPhone, Android devices, Blackberry, WinPhone 7, Windows, and OS X.  It has killer multi-platform support.  Since it sync’s up across platforms, I can sneak a couple of pages in while I am work, while waiting at the doctors and resume reading when I get home that night.  The best book is the one that’s always with you While it’s not a iPad, it’s not just a book reader either.  You can also get any number of newspapers on your Kindle, delivered daily…

  1. The New York Times ($19.99/month)
  2. International Herald Tribune ($19.99/month)
  3. The Globe and Mail ($15.99/month)
  4. National Post ($14.99/month)
  5. The Washington Post ($23.99/month)
  6. The StarPhoenix ($13.99/month)
  7. USA Today ($23.99/month)
  8. Slate ($8.99/month)
  9. The Financial Times ($27.99/month)

There is also magazines like Time ($3/month), The Atlantic Monthly ($2.49), Foreign Policy($3.49), among many others.  $139 from Amazon

Parker Sonnet Fountain Pen | Inspired by AKMA’s posts on fountain pens, may I suggest a Parker Sonnet fountain pen as a great gift for that special person.  At $75 it isn’t inexpensive but it won’t break the bank either.   This Sonnet has a stainless steel finish with a mineral metallic luster. The metal has been brushed to create a light texture effect but polished for a smooth touch. It has a 23 carat gold plated body trim and 23 carat gold plated stainless steel nib. The nib is decorated with a lattice work pattern and stamped with the Parker name. Different body finishes and nib sizes available to suit your style. This pen comes with a built-in converter and one black ink cartridge. $75 from Jet Pens

Moleskine Large Notebook | The Moleskine Large Notebook is made with top quality heavy paper and is perfect for on the go notes.  Every Moleskine product is thread bound and has a cardboard bound cover with rounded corners acid free paper a bookmark an elastic closure and an expandable inner pocket that contains the Moleskine history.  It will go perfect with a Parker Sonnet Fountain Pen| $12.21 from Amazon

Olivetti Manual Typewriter | If you want to have an old, classic feel when you are writing, you must check out the Olivetti Manual Typewriter. For fans of the vintage and things with an antique feel, you will definitely like this product. No electricity is needed with this manual typewriter so you can save on electricity costs. This particular style is the last manual typewriter available in the market today. This makes the Olivetti Manual Typewriter a collector’s item already. $105 from Amazon

A subscription to City Journal | City Journal is a quarterly magazine that focuses on urban policy.  Although the magazine is based in New York City, it covers issues of national scope.   It’s has a fiscally conservative point of view but chances are that whoever you are shopping for can figure that out by themselves.  $23 for four issues.

Sergio: One Man’s Fight to Save the World by Samantha Power | This is the best book I read in 2010.  The book is about Sergio Vieira de Mello’s who was a Brazilian United Nations diplomat who worked for the UN for more than 34 years, earning respect and praise around the world for his efforts in the humanitarian and political programs of the UN.  He was killed in the Canal Hotel Bombing in Iraq along with 20 other members of his staff on 19 August 2003 while working as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Iraq.  While the book was quite compelling, it has also been made into a HBO movie.  The book is $5.17 on Amazon.com and the DVD is available for $19.98 (in DVD-R format)

Homicide: A Year in the Killing Streets by David Simon | Another one of my favourite books of 2010.  David Simon, who was a reporter for The Baltimore Sun, spent four years on the police beat before taking a leave of absence to write this book. He had persuaded the Baltimore police department to allow him unlimited access to the city’s homicide unit for calendar year 1988, and throughout that year he shadowed one shift of detectives as they traveled from interrogations to autopsies, from crime scenes to hospital emergency rooms. Baltimore recorded 234 murders during the year Simon spent with the homicide unit. During the two years he spent writing Homicide, an additional 567 murders occurred.

Kodak Zi8 Video Camera | In case they are more interested creating content rather than just watching it, look at getting them a Kodak Zi8 camera.  It has a microphone jack which means that you can easily add an external 1/8 microphone for even better sound.    It allows you to record High Definition video (1080p at 30 fps with 16:9 aspect ratio) and comes with some half-decent editing software. Zi8 is $119 from Amazon.

Some recommended accessories for the Zi8

A Kiva Gift Card | Kiva empowers individuals to lend to an entrepreneur across the globe. By combining microfinance with the internet, Kiva is creating a global community of people connected through lending.  You can help someone get started by sending them a Kiva gift card ($25 minimum) which will allow them to get started and then make microloans to any project that they want to get behind.  Not only are you giving a unique gift this Christmas but you are helping change the life of numerous other people (as the loan is paid back, it can be lent out again and again).  They won’t be alone.  As of November 2009, Kiva has facilitated over $100 million in loans.

Final Draft 8 | If the person you are buying for is looking at creating a movie script or a screenplay, this software allows you to focus their creative energy to focus on the content; let Final Draft take care of the style. Final Draft is the number-one selling application specifically designed for writing movie scripts, television episodics and stage plays.  It combines powerful word processing with professional script formatting in one self-contained, easy-to-use package. There is no need to learn about script formatting rules–Final Draft automatically paginates and formats your script to industry standards as you write.  Calling it “a solid sequel to what has become the industry-standard screenwriting application,” Macworld magazine gives Final Draft 8 a rating of 4.5 mice out of 5. $149 from Amazon

If they are writing the great American novel and don’t seem too keen on using the Olivetti Manual Typewriter, check out WriteNow 4.  The software is compatible with Windows Mac OSX. With abundant personalized options, WriteItNow has perfected the art of allowing the writer to customize the interface to fit his or her writing needs. You can: (1) Drag scenes, chapters, events, and ideas to new locations; (2) View character relationships in web diagrams; (3) View story events in a sleek timeline; (4) Visualize layout with a flexible Story Board; and (5) Keep track of manuscript submissions. $69 via Amazon

If you can find what you are looking for, make sure you check out one of the other 2010 Christmas Gift Guides

In case you are looking, here are the 2009 Gift Guides

Christmas Gift Ideas and Gift GuidesIf I missed anything or if my suggestion made you think I was absolutely crazy, let me know in the comments. You can access the current edition and previous years list of Christmas gift guides here.

Christmas Gift Guide: Gift Ideas for your Husband / Father / Boyfriends (all of the men in your life) | 2010 Edition

It’s Wendy and I keep telling Jordon that he needs to stop leaving the password for his blog login laying around and he never listens to me.  As he said, “Bill Clinton lost the nuclear launch codes and nothing bad happened.”  Well what happened is that I am posting a gift guide for what to get the men in your life.  Hopefully this post meets the requirements of the JordonCooper.com Style Guide.

What do you give to someone who spends his day working in a non-profit and then comes home every night to take care of the boys?  I had Jordon give me a few suggestion which I combined with a few ideas of my own.

32 gb iPod Touch | Jordon being the geek that he is, bought a 1G iPod Touch as soon as they came out.  He has sat out the last two upgrades but now the iPod Touch has a new high resolution screen, camera, and Facetime.  Even I can see it’s time to upgrade and get him a new one.   The iPod Touch is a music player, gaming platform, video player, and a Personal Information Manager.  Jordon carries his with him each day.  If your loved one doesn’t have a smartphone, he will love one of these.

Sony PSP 3000 / PSP Go | Lee bought Jordon a PSP a couple of years ago and Jordon loves it.  While he was devastated that NCAA Football 11 or the Force Unleashed II are not being released for the PSP, there are still a bunch of good games to play and toss in as additional gifts.  Here are a couple of suggestions

Amazon Kindle with Wifi | Jordon loves books but he hates taking books back and forth to the cabin.  With the Kindle he can load it up, bring it to the lake, grab some more books if he needs to, and has them whether he goes.   The Kindle also works well with Instapaper, RSS feeds, and can access the web.  While it’s not a iPad, it’s not just a book reader either.  One of the things that pushed Jordon towards wanting a Kindle was it’s support for major newspapers like;

  1. The New York Times ($19.99/month)
  2. International Herald Tribune ($19.99/month)
  3. The Globe and Mail ($15.99/month)
  4. National Post ($14.99/month)
  5. The Washington Post ($23.99/month)
  6. The StarPhoenix ($13.99/month)
  7. USA Today ($23.99/month)
  8. Slate ($8.99/month)
  9. The Financial Times ($27.99/month)

There is also magazines like Time ($3/month), The Atlantic Monthly ($2.49), Foreign Policy ($3.49), among many others.  I am not the news junkie that Jordon is but I was surprised that you can’t get Macleans or Sports Illustrated yet.  Maybe down the road.

While it doesn’t have the feature set that the Kindle does, you may also be interested in Chapter’s Kobo book reader which also has a growing list of newspapers available to be subscribed to. $149 from Chapters/Indigo

5.1 Channel Surround Sound System | This one works with seven different audio sources (for those of you who need hook ups for your PS3, TV, Wii, stereo, computer and whatever geek devices they fancy).  If you have never watched a movie with 5.1 channel surround sound, you have no idea what you are missing.  It’s a gift everyone in the family with thank you for getting.  It even hooks up to an iPod and if you want to go old school, the radio.  $99.99 at XS Cargo or $183 at Amazon.com

The Wire | Season 1 ($30)| Season 2 ($30) | Season 3 ($30) | Season 4 ($30) | Season 5 ($30) | Complete Series ($105) | For Father’s Day we went out and bought Jordon a portable DVD player and Season One of The Wire and was blown away by how good the series is.  It is by far the greatest television show that I have ever watched on television and I was sad when it ended.  I could go on but Jason Kottke has devoted so much energy blogging The Wire over the last couple of years, I’ll send you there.  I’ll give you a warning though, this is not a series you will watch with anyone under the age of 16.  It is brutally violent, offensive language and the occasional sex scene.  If your significant other has already seen The Wire, check out this Re-Elect Clay Davis t-shirt. $22.

Battlestar Galactica | Season 1 ($36.49) | Season 2.5 ($33.49) | Razor ($11.49) | Season 3 ($37.99) | Season 4.5 ($34.99) | Complete Series ($140) | In case you were isolated from popular culture for the last couple of years, here is the story line of the incredibly popular science fiction series, Battlestar Galactica.  Battlestar Galactica is set in a distant part of the galaxy, where a civilization of humans live on a series of planets known as the Twelve Colonies. In the past, the Colonies had been at war with a cybernetic race known as the Cylons. With the unwitting help of a human named Gaius Baltar, the Cylons launch a sudden sneak attack on the Colonies, laying waste to the planets and devastating their populations. The approximately 50,000 human survivors flee into space aboard any spacecraft they can reach. Of all the Colonial Fleet, the eponymous Battlestar Galactica appears to be the only military capital ship that survived the attack. Under the leadership of Colonial Fleet officer Commander William “Bill” Adama and President Laura Roslin, the Galactica and its crew take up the task of leading the small fugitive fleet of survivors into space in search of a fabled refuge known as Earth.

American Heritage Leather Duffle Bag by J.W. Hulme | In case you are looking for the greatest duffle bag ever made, your search is over.  The J.W. Hulme leather duffle bag is the Rolls Royce of carry-ons.   It’s the kind of bag that says, “I’m better than you and I am not afraid to talk about it”.  The bag is made out of distressed leather and then refined by buffing and antiquing each bag by hand which gives it it’s one in a kind look.  It’s only $899 and available at J.W. Hulme.  At that price, I would leave the price tag visible.  Now Jordon really wants one but we have a rule around here.  Any Christmas gifts that will cause us to choose between making our mortgage payment and being homeless will not be considered. Maybe next year, Jordon, maybe next year.

Sergio: One Man’s Fight to Save the World by Samantha Power | I haven’t read it yet but Jordon said it was the best book he read in 2010.   The book is about Sergio Vieira de Mello’s who was a Brazilian United Nations diplomat who worked for the UN for more than 34 years, earning respect and praise around the world for his efforts in the humanitarian and political programs of the UN.  He was killed in the Canal Hotel Bombing in Iraq along with 20 other members of his staff on 19 August 2003 while working as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Iraq.  While the book was quite compelling, it has also been made into a HBO movie.  The book is $5.17 on Amazon.com and the DVD is available for $19.98 (in DVD-R format)

Homicide: A Year in the Killing Streets by David Simon | Another one of Jordon’s favourite books of 2010.  After falling in love with The Wire, Jordon went out and bought both of David Simon’s books, Homicide and The Corner.  David Simon, who was a reporter for The Baltimore Sun, spent four years on the police beat before taking a leave of absence to write this book. He had persuaded the Baltimore police department to allow him unlimited access to the city’s homicide unit for calendar year 1988, and throughout that year he shadowed one shift of detectives as they traveled from interrogations to autopsies, from crime scenes to hospital emergency rooms. Baltimore recorded 234 murders during the year Simon spent with the homicide unit. During the two years he spent writing Homicide, an additional 567 murders occurred.

The Pacific | The Pacific is an epic 10-part miniseries that delivers a realistic portrait of WWII’s Pacific Theatre as seen through the intertwined odysseys of three U.S. Marines – Robert Leckie, John Basilone and Eugene Sledge. The extraordinary experiences of these men and their fellow Marines take them from the first clash with the Japanese in the haunted jungles of Guadalcanal, through the impenetrable rain forests of Cape Gloucester, across the blasted coral strongholds of Peleliu, up the black sand terraces of Iwo Jima, through the killing fields of Okinawa, to the triumphant, yet uneasy, return home after V-J Day. The viewer will be immersed in combat through the intimate perspective of this diverse, relatable group of men pushed to the limit in battle both physically and psychologically against a relentless enemy unlike any encountered before. ($42.99 at Amazon.com)

Survivorman | Hand Made Fire Piston | A fire piston, sometimes called a fire syringe, is a device of ancient origin which is used to kindle fire. It uses the principle of the heating of a gas (in this case air) by its rapid compression to ignite a piece of tinder, which is then used to set light to kindling.  Jordon and Mark enjoy learning different fire making methods at the lake (which often fail and they default to matches). $80 from Les Stroud Productions.

Snowshoes and Solitude :: We are a big fan of the show Survivorman around the house but one of the questions I always have is how we he do if his isolation lasted longer than 7 days.  According to some friends who have seen the DVD, Snowshoes and Solitude goes a long way in answering that question and I am told it is worth watching and owning.  $19.99 from Les Stroud Productions

Sportcraft Taverner Bristle Dartboard | A tournament-quality, 18 inch bristle dartboard with traditional colors, a matte finish, steel wiring on the inside. Deluxe hinges complete the look of this stylish, entertaining wall piece.  It would look great hanging up at the cabin.  The best part about darts is that you don’t really have to be that great at it to have a great time playing it.

Kodak Zi8 or Kodak Playsport video camera | Jordon owns a Kodak Zi8 camera and we love it.  It has a microphone jack which means that you can easily add an external 1/8 microphone for even better sound.    It allows you to record High Definition video (1080p at 30 fps with 16:9 aspect ratio) and comes with some half-decent editing software. Zi8 is $119 from Amazon while the Playsport is $114 from Amazon.

Some recommended accessories for the Zi8

  • Shoe mount compatible with all pro & consumer video camcorders
  • Patent pending interlocking design
  • 600 lumens with built-in diffuser
  • Slim lightweight design
  • Safe to touch-does not get hot  $29 from Amazon

Adorama Heavy Duty L-bracket with 2 Standard Flash Shoe Mounts | Jordon has one of these and mounts either a miniature shotgun microphone and/or a video light on it.  For $9.99 from Amazon it’s a great addition to any one’s camera bag.  $9.99 for Amazon

Olympus PEN E-P1 12.3 MP Micro Four Thirds Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera with 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 Zuiko Digital Zoom Lens | The E-P1 is, essentially, an Olympus E-620 crowbarred into a compact, rangefinder-style body. Aside from the changes necessitated by the removal of the mirror and optical viewfinder – and a slight firmware upgrade (for new live view features, improved image processing) it is as fully fledged as any mid-range SLR but in a much more compact body.  $599 from Amazon

If you aren’t looking for a DSLR but want more control than a compact point and shoot, check out the Fujifilm s2000HD with 15x zoom.   After agonizing over which camera to purchase last year, Jordon bought one of these after reading countless reviews.

The FinePix S2000HD is a compact and lightweight 10-megapixel camera with a 15x optical zoom lens and HD movie recording/output. The FinePix S2000HD is the first Fujifilm model to offer full compatibility with HDTV systems for both stills and movies. In addition to true HD movies (at 1280 x 720 pixels) and widescreen stills (at 1920 x 1080), the FinePix S2000HD’s HD output allows the camera to display ultra-clear high-definition photographs and movies on an HDTV.  Other key S2000HD features include continuous shooting up to 13.5 frames per second at 3MP, Dual Image Stabilization for blur-free images, and extensive photographic control including 13 scene position settings.

While L.L. Bean doesn’t offer these in Canada, if they did, we would be getting one for the cabin.  It’s a customized accent for your home or cottage, displaying the name of any US city or town, its state and its latitude and longitude. All you have to do is specify city/town and state, and they will be printed on the sign, along with the city’s coordinates.   It accommodates up to 14 characters, including spaces, for the town name and up to 14 for the state. Pine base. Indoor or outdoor use, sheltered location recommended. $29.95 from L.L. Bean

Ballpark Pens | If your husband is a fan of sports history like Jordon is, you will want to check out these great handmade pens made out of wood from historic stadiums like Yankee Stadium ($200), Fenway Park ($220), the Polo Grounds ($260 and I had to ask where it was), or Boston Garden ($140).

Maine Guide Rolling Duffle, Waxed-Canvas from L.L. Bean | Jordon hates cheap luggage.  It has no character, it doesn’t wear well and in the end it’s a waste of money.  If your loved one travels at all, you may want to consider a luggage upgrade and L.L. Bean has a great option.  Weather resistant, rugged and classic, this bag is made to go the distance, year after year, gaining character along the way. Crafted from rugged 22 oz. waxed-cotton canvas, a traditional and dependable favourite of sportsmen for generations. Leather trim and antiqued-brass hardware.  This convenient duffle is easy to pack and even easier to transport. It opens wide like a doctor’s bag for neat and organized packing. Interior straps and mesh pockets help secure gear. Twin front cargo pockets hold cell phone, keys and last-minute extras. Back document pocket keeps itinerary close at hand. Smooth-Glide in-line skate wheels and locking telescoping handle let you maneuver this bag easily through airports, lobbies and parking lots. End handles for easy lifting.  Available at L.L. Bean for $199

Kenton Sorenson Leather Natural Leather Dopp Kit | The Kenton Sorenson dopp kit is the perfect holiday gift. This dopp kit is hand made in Wisconsin using natural leather that will develop an amazing deep golden brown color with regular use. The kit has a simple leather wrap around tie closure that can also be used to keep the kit open while in use. $145 from Context

Jordon is a fan of fine watches and while some of them are totally unaffordable, this Paris Mechanical Pocket Watch from Charles Hubert is fantastic looking.  It’s a sleek, silver-tone update of a classic style which combines 17-jewel mechanical movement with a skeleton dial.  If you are shopping for a someone that appreciates a fine watch, this may be a great gift at an affordable price. It also comes with a fine gift box. $84 from Amazon

If you can find what you are looking for, make sure you check out one of the other 2010 Christmas Gift Guides

In case you are looking, here are the 2009 Gift Guides

Christmas Gift Ideas and Gift GuidesIf I missed anything or if my suggestion made you think I was absolutely crazy, let me know in the comments. You can access the current edition and previous years list of Christmas gift guides here.

The "Homicide Lexicon" and its rules

Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets by David SimonI am reading Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets by David Simon and really enjoying it.  Throughout the book, Simon frequently refers to a set of 10 informal rules that apply in the majority of homicide cases, as detectives soon learn. They are as follows:

  1. Everyone lies. Murderers lie because they have to; witnesses and other participants lie because they think they have to; everyone else lies for the sheer joy of it, and to uphold a general principle that under no circumstances do you provide accurate information to a cop.

  2. The victim is killed once, but a crime scene can be murdered a thousand times.

  3. The initial 10 or 12 hours after a murder are the most critical to the success of an investigation.

  4. An innocent man left alone in an interrogation room will remain fully awake, rubbing his eyes, staring at the cubicle walls and scratching himself in the dark, forbidden places. A guilty man left alone in an interrogation room goes to sleep.

  5. It’s good to be good; it’s better to be lucky.

  6. When a suspect is immediately identified in an assault case, the victim is sure to live. When no suspect has been identified, the victim will surely die.

  7. First, they’re red. Then they’re green. Then they’re black. (Referring to the money that must be spent to investigate a case, and the colors in which open and solved murders are listed on the board)

  8. In any case where there is no apparent suspect, the crime lab will produce no valuable evidence. In those cases where a suspect has already confessed and been identified by at least two eyewitnesses, the lab will give you print hits, fiber evidence, blood typings and a ballistic match.

  9. To a jury, any doubt is reasonable; the better the case, the worse the jury; a good man is hard to find, but 12 of them, gathered together in one place, is a miracle. (Referring to jury trials)

  10. There is no such a thing as a perfect murder.