A Professional Safecracker Reveals His Craft

Profile of Charlie Santore, licensed safecracker in Los Angeles.

Geoff Manaugh at www.theatlantic.com:

“Everybody has a box,” Santore said to me one day over lunch. “They have some place where they keep things and they don’t want anybody else to know what’s in there.” His hands were blackened with metal dust from a jewel safe he had drilled that morning. “There’s something sort of esoteric or ambiguous about that,” he continued, “like the safe is someone’s little space—someone’s psyche—and not everyone’s psyche is a clean place, you know?”

And:

Elaad Israeli, a 35-year-old safecracker with Precision Lock & Safe in Queens, told me that he almost got arrested after unwittingly helping a man rob his own father: The guy’s ID matched the name of the safe’s owner, but it turned out to be a case of Junior ripping off Senior. John Greenan, a 58-year-old safecracker at Fink Safe & Lock in Chicago, told me about cracking safes at the Federal Reserve building, as well as a long-sealed vault door in the basement of a Chicago cathedral (inside, he found a treasure trove of gold chalices and ritual ware). The 34-year-old Wayne Winton from Tri-County Locksmith once saw an old safe being used as a side table at a Colorado newspaper office. Nobody knew what was inside. Winton offered to crack it—and when the door swung open, they found unpublished photos of the serial killer Ted Bundy.

Wonderful article about finding philosophical outlook in unexpected places.

One year of legal pot sales and California doesn’t have the bustling industry it expected. Here’s why

“Retailers and growers say they’ve been stunted by complex regulations, high taxes and decisions by most cities to ban cannabis shops. At the same time, many residents are going to city halls and courts to fight pot businesses they see as nuisances, and police chiefs are raising concerns about crime triggered by the marijuana trade.” Also, people are just as happy buying marijuana illegally. www.latimes.com

We had a couple of cannabis shops open a few miles from the house. Very sketchy. I would not have wanted them in the neighborhood. Nothing against marijuana, or selling it, but these places looked more like peep shows than any legitimate retail business.

Star Trek actor turns Eastern monk

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The actor Bruce Mars is known today for his appearance on Star Trek as Finnegan, the Starfleet Academy cadet who terrorized young James Kirk.

Finnegan appears in the episode “Shore Leave,” where the crew of the Enterprise beams down to a new planet for some R&R, not realizing the planet was created by advanced aliens as a playground where all the mind’s fantasies would instantly materialize.

As of 2013, Mars was a senior monk in the Self-Realization Fellowship, going by the name “Brother Paramananda.”

Brother Paramananda discusses his conversion briefly in a 2004 LA Times article about Eastern religion in LA, by Anne-Marie O’Connor.

Police story

Serve & Protect: History of American police

American police departments were founded in the early 19th Century not to control crime but to combat civil dissent, which took the form of riots. Since then, relationships between police and the communities they’re chartered to serve has been fraught.

The Backstory podcast:

For many Americans, the storyline that played out on August 9 [2014] in Ferguson, Mo. — when an unarmed black teenager was fatally shot by a white police officer — is not a new one. But the sustained protests that followed, in which Ferguson police used military equipment for crowd control, have generated a new round of questioning about the role of local police in their communities.

So on this episode, we’re looking at the history of policing in America, and how the police departments we’re familiar with today began to take shape. And we’ll consider what happens when the police don’t protect those they serve….

Scholar Khalil Gibran Muhammad talks with Brian Balogh about how many ethnic groups have shed their criminal reputations through police service, and the more complicated legacy of early African-American officers.

Many ethnic groups, including the Irish and Italians, saw many individuals become police officers, which aided assimilation. African Americans have been blocked from that route.

Also: Technology has shaped the police from the beginning, from the invention of handcuffs to handguns to two-way radios to bodycams.

LA’s new rule: homeless people are only allowed to own one trashcan’s worth of things

A new law passed by the LA city council prohibits homeless people from owning more belongings than can fit in a 60-gallon trashcan with the lid on, and allows police to summarily confiscate any tents that are still standing on public property during daylight hours.

The law is a response to Los Angeles’s epidemic of homelessness — a rise in homelessness that’s clocked in at 20% of two years.

Of course, homelessness isn’t like smoking, a lifestyle choice that can be disincentivized given enough government arm-twisting. Homelessness is a human rights crisis, brought on, in part, by Bill Clinton’s cruel and vile “welfare reforms” (which were passed by adding “compromises” that allowed state governments to be even crueller, an arrangement that came home to roost when the Tea Party started electing governors who ran on a platform that demonized poor people, and subsequently began to literally starve the poorest people in their states).

There are many reasons that people become homeless, but all homeless people share one plight: they don’t have a home. Shelter is a human necessity, only one up from food on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. But the property bubble has converted shelter from a human right to an asset class, driving governments to go to extraordinary lengths to make shelter more expensive: imagine if governments’s surest path to re-election was to make food more expensive.

LA’s new rule: homeless people are only allowed to own one trashcan’s worth of things [Cory Doctorow – Boing Boing]