A Few Answers To Questions You Always Wondered About

May 17, 2017 | 1 Comment » | Topics: Interesting, Answers

What is the inmate pecking order in prison?

Jail and prison populations involve people living in very close proximity to one another (in some housing situations, the toilet seat might be only a few inches from your face when you’re lying in bed), so it is natural to expect that a culture and social structure will emerge.

At the top of the heap would be high-ranking members of crime organizations. Old-style Mafia first come to mind. These guys are still powerful, but maybe not as much as they used to be. More likely you’ll find people in what are usually called “gangs,” e.g. Crips, Bloods, Black Guerrilla Family, Latin Kings, MS-13, etc. There are also gangs that operate mainly within prisons, such as the Mexican Mafia, Aryan Brotherhood, United Blood Nation, etc. Most established prison gangs have alliances with “free world” gangs. 

Members of these gangs, the “soldiers,” are the next level down. They are protected by other gang members, as an insult or assault on any gang member is viewed as an act against the entire gang. The origin of prison gangs was for mutual protection, usually against other ethnic/racial factions. Prison and street crime gangs don’t have much of an equal opportunity program.

Below this level are run-of-the-mill prisoners who have no gang alliance. This is the largest group of prisoners. They do their best to stay out of gang politics and disputes. Barring some complications where one runs afoul of a gang member, it’s easily possible for an inmate to quietly do their time. Prison etiquette must be observed, e.g. don’t disrespect others, don’t help the staff with investigations, remain in your own area, etc., but most will not be pressured to join a gang. 

Some prisoners are called out for their lack of confidence and backbone, and made “wives” of other inmates. Some of their duties are housekeeping and other menial chores, and some are sexual in nature. Assuming this role means you have a protector, so you’re safe from other inmates (as long as your “owner” remains powerful, anyway), but you’re essentially the slave of the inmate who co-opts you. This happens, but not as often as prison movies might have you believe. 

Below this are inmates who are incarcerated for crimes even other inmates find reprehensible. Crimes where the victims could be another inmate’s loved ones are targeted. These include rape and sexual offenses against children. Inmates will victimize these people just to act out rage gathered from other sources, because they have no relevant social status. They are throw-away people. Ironically, these inmates can be the easiest ones for the staff to manage. They are often more intelligent and well-educated than the average inmate, and they don’t want to make enemies among the staff. They might get prison jobs where their intellect is useful, like clerking or assisting with educational programs. 

At the bottom of the stack, lower than low, are informants, or “snitches.” You don’t have to participate in another inmate’s rule-breaking or crime, but you never tell staff what another inmate is up to. Doing so often means a semi-permanent assignment to administrative segregation, where you spend most of your time in your cell and have few privileges or diversions. Even if the inmate you informed on is released, goes to another institution, or dies, he likely still has friends on the inside who will waste no time in reminding you that you violated the inmate code of conduct.

– Tim Dees



What does it feel like to do steroids?

Great question! …and one I feel like I can answer well, because I’m on a steroid cycle right now.

Why? I’ve been training since my early 20s, I’m in my 40s now. I somehow managed to avoid the temptation of steroids until my late 30s. This is despite experimenting with recreational drugs (and regular binge-drinking), throughout my younger years. I guess I figured I didn’t need another vice. As I got older and more settled and less reckless, my training became more consistent and I started to see some really good results and developed into a reasonably big guy by 35.

I started thinking about steroids as a way to take my physique further. As I got older it was certainly not getting any easier in the gym and I would go long periods with very little progression… and to be completely honest I wanted a bit of a shortcut. Like a lot of people my generation, I wanted to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator. I still do.

The first thing I did – the first thing anyone should do – is research. Educate yourself. There is a handy all-in-one guide available. The book “Anabolics” by William Llewellyn should be the first step for ANYONE considering steroids. There are other books out there, I’ve read all of them. Nothing comes close to Llewellyn’s book. After reading this, joining a hardcore gym and also talking to actual steroid users, I couldn’t come up with a good reason why not to do steroids. They are among the safest drugs out there, when not abused.

Did you notice emotional changes? Yes, but only good ones. Testosterone is wonderful. It gives me an overall sense of well-being, optimism and focus. I’m a fairly positive, happy guy anyway – but I can still feel the lift. I know lots of people who take steroids and I honestly don’t know anyone with anger management issues on cycle…but I’ve no doubt that if you are a jerk already – steroids will make you an even bigger one. Personally I think “roid rage” is a bit of a myth.

Lets not forget about improved libido – testosterone sends your sex drive through the roof. Like puberty again. Major erections all the time – I can feel one coming on now just writing about it – not joking it’s ridiculous. Sexual thoughts / dreams. The need to masturbate and/or have sex at least once a day…. it’s crazy.

What about athletic performance? Good god. yes. Improved strength, both explosive and endurance. You’ll find yourself smashing plateaus and setting new personal bests in every exercise, on a weekly basis. Recovery becomes super-human, like you can do your heaviest ever squats and not even feel it the next day. DOMS is non-existent. Yes, you lose some of your gains and new found powers after you come off, but you WILL improve and you can make permanent changes to your body. Steroids work.

Anything else? Well, your balls shrink, you’ll probably breakout in acne, you’ll take on water, blood pressure will go up, immune system suppressed, bad cholesterol up… but all of this should be manageable and temporary, providing you play by the rules.

Oh – and get plenty of food in. Steroids + training = ravenous hunger.

In summary – What’s it like? It’s GREAT, but with some notable downsides.

In the interests of balance, don’t forget that it’s possible to have VERY SERIOUS side effects and there are VERY REAL DANGERS. So please educate yourselves on PCT, OCT, estrogen, injection protocol, blood tests, etc, etc.

It’s also an expensive hobby!

…and depending where you live – probably illegal.




Why do uneducated people tend to have more children?

EDUCATION: Less education = more children

Poor people tend to be less educated – they perform poorly in school, are more likely to be expelled or drop out, and struggle to afford higher education. There are many theories about why education relates to family size:

1) Women with less education are less likely to be able to support themselves independently. Because they rely upon a husband, they tend to think of their contributions to family as more important to contributing to economy. Ergo, more children.

2) Women with more education will have a career, not just a job. They prefer to work rather than parent, and will focus on vocational success. Children and families make financial success more difficult. By focusing on a career, the woman neglects settling down to have children until later in her life.

3) People who are more educated tend to have better impulse control. They are more likely to plan out when they want to have a family based upon their finances. They are less likely to have unprotected sex, or to use drugs and substances that might result in accidental pregnancies (hooking up while drunk, for instance). They are also more aware of the various birth-control options available and will seek them out.

4) Poorly educated people might not know about all the contraception options that exist, how to use them properly, or where they might obtain birth-control pills or spermicides etc. Most individuals learn about contraception in school – so where do drop outs learn about it? They might not have access to Google…

RELIGIOSITY: More religion means larger families

Poor individuals are more likely to be religious that wealthy individuals. Also, less educated individuals are more likely to be dogmatically religious that people with a 4-year degree. This can have several outcomes:

1) Contraceptives are purposefully ignored. Catholics, for instance, view the use of birth control or condoms as a sin. Many denominations view abortions or “the morning after pill” as murder.

2) Some religious denominations actively encourage women to be caring mothers with lots of children. You see this more with fringe groups, like the (small) snake-handling group within Pentecostalism or the (small) polygamist group within Mormonism.

3) Religion encourages an early age of marriage. The younger a woman is when married, the more children she will have over her lifetime. Also, married couples are more likely to have unprotected sex than couples that are cohabiting or having pre-marital sex.

INCOME: Less money means more children

This is pretty obvious when you think about it. Contraception costs money. Condoms, birth control, spermicide, morning-after pill, and abortions are all expensive – particularly if you add up the cost-per-month and look at years at a time. Most birth-control pills require prescriptions, which means doctor visits, which are super expensive if you don’t have insurance. Even though condoms can be bought for a dollar a piece, that’s expensive if you are living on welfare (and I don’t think food-stamps cover contraception).

Hysterectomies Tubal ligation and vasectomies are also a rather common contraceptive used by middle and upper class individuals. Usually after they have had a child or two and think their family is big enough – so no surprise children later in life.

Also, people with more money tend to thing in economic terms. Children are expensive, and people with money budget for this; they will wait to have children until they can afford them, and will prefer small families because it is easier to pay for karate for 2 boys than for 5. This thought process isn’t seen in poor families.

RACE: Minorities and Immigrants are over-represented among the poor. Immigrants from developing countries are more likely to want larger families.

Developing countries don’t have large families only because of lack of birth control, they have large families because it is culturally acceptable and preferable to have large families. If you take a couple from Sub-Saharan Africa, teach them all about condoms and birth control, and put them in America and give them access to contraception they are still more likely to have a large family because they will want to have many children. Culturally speaking, more children means the parents are better people.

This idea carries over into the children of immigrants, as well as the grandchildren. The family size declines with each generation, and by the 4th generation the birth rate looks more like the rates of the host culture.

– Whooplaah



Why do custody arrangements favor mothers?

I have some perspective on this as an attorney who has studied family law (and learned a lot more about it over the past couple of years of MensLib…), and it’s kind of a complex question. I’m going to limit my answer to the United States, which is what I’m most familiar with.

Some brief history: up until the mid-1800s, courts would award full custody to fathers in a divorce (this was a time when children were viewed basically as property of the father, and women had very few legal rights). A woman named Caroline Norton, an early feminist and activist, successfully petitioned the UK Parliament to pass a law, commonly known as the “Tender Years Doctrine,” that would presumptively give custody to the mother (this law was adopted in a limited form in the late 1830s, and extended by the 1870s). This law was ported over, like much of UK law, to the US, where it was commonly used up until the late 20th century.

Gradually, though, through the 20th century, this doctrine was challenged (in many cases on the grounds that it violated the Equal Protection clause of the 14th Amendment), and by the end of the 20th century, nearly all states had abolished it in favor of the gender-neutral “Best Interests of the Child” approach (the standard is gender-neutral, I mean – as we go through this you’ll see why the outcome isn’t necessarily so).

The Best Interests standard is a multi-factor analysis that places as its primary focus what is best for the child in any legal proceeding (you see similar analyses used not just in divorce, but also adoption, child support, and extinguishment of parental rights (e.g. in serious abuse cases) proceedings). The specific elements of the test vary from state to state, but in general, a court will look at a list of factors to determine which parent should receive primary legal and physical custody. Common factors in different jurisdictions include:

I’ve bolded the last two because those are the ones that tend to result in a gender split that favors mothers in custody arrangements. Though we’re seeing a cultural shift in stay-at-home parenting, in many cases, the primary caregiver is still the mother, while the father is the one who works (you’ll notice how this also plays into the “continuation of living situation” element). A 2011 Pew study also found that even in two-income households, mothers spend approximately twice the time fathers do performing childcare duties.

So, while not the dispositive factor (all of the factors are supposed to be evaluated equally, though taken together), courts often will end up awarding primary custody to the parent who spends the most time at home with the child, which is often the mother. Additionally, there’s some research that indicates that judges still (possibly unconsciously) adhere to the Tender Years approach, even though it’s not the law, because to them, the traditional arrangement is to have the mother take care of the children – but this is much more common among older judges (and much more common among older male judges than older female ones), with the effect quickly disappearing as younger and more progressive judges take the bench.

Now, it’s crucial to understand that this entire analysis is only used in ~4% of custody cases. In the large majority of custody arrangements (around 80%), parents determine the custody arrangements on their own (with the court simply signing off on the agreement if it appears reasonable), and the majority of those couples decide that the mother should have primary custody (the remaining ~15% of cases are decided through some kind of mediation process, often required by the court before a judge steps in). It’s also very important to note that, though the studies on this topic have tended to be small, the best data we have show that when fathers ask for custody, and actively advocate for it, they are awarded sole or joint custody at least half the time. Some argue that there’s a remaining disparity because men are discouraged from asking for custody by their attorneys, or simply don’t pursue it because of the time and financial costs of going through a contested custody litigation – there may be some truth to this, but for the former, this argument seems based on an expectation of gender bias in family courts that the data don’t convincingly bear out.

– Ciceros_Assassin 



Why are higher levels of intelligence in humans associated with lack of emotion?

Emotion is nature’s decision-making tool. We try to do things that make us feel positive emotions and we avoid things that make us feel negative emotions. That’s not even just a human thing; animals have emotions and use them to make decisions too! The problem is that emotion isn’t necessarily a good way to make decisions. If you’re smart, you can think of a better way. For example, I don’t feel like waking up early Monday morning and jumping in a metal container with dozens of other tightly-packed people in order to go sit in a chair somewhere downtown and do things other people want me to do, but as an intelligent organism, I know how to plan for the future: I know that if I stop doing this, I will no longer be able to live comfortably, eat what I want, etc. While I’m still ultimately guided by emotion — I know what will make me feel positive in the future — I’m doing things that make me feel less positive now. Less intelligent organisms don’t have that particular capability for reasoning about their actions, but we humans do.

The thing is, the more intelligent we are, the more we can reason about our actions, and therefore, the less we need to rely on simple emotion to make our choices. If we’re intelligent, we understand consequences better, too. For example, a 3-year-old will suffer negative emotion when his ice cream falls to the floor and will begin to cry. A more intelligent adult, on the other hand, will only be mildly annoyed at this, because he understands that there will be more ice cream in the future, that he’s fortunate to have been able to get ice cream in the first place, that the ice cream just doesn’t matter that much compared to other aspects of his life like the fact that he has a loving family and steady income, etc. (How do you make a 3-year-old cry? Throw his ice cream on the ground. How do you make an adult cry? Kill his family. Don’t try this at home!) Intelligence gives us a larger set of concerns to worry about, and this makes emotion less important.

Intelligent people still have emotion. They just have enough perspective to be affected by it less.

That said, there are some people who are just not good at understanding emotion but are often good at certain other things: people with Asperger’s. There are a lot of factors here. Being not so great at understanding emotion in others means that it’s tougher to relate to people, so instead of relating to people, a person with Asperger’s might spend time alone. And what does one do alone that’s actually worthwhile? Learning, of course! A person with Asperger’s may notice that it feels bad to be rejected by peers but it feels good to learn new things in whatever subject, so he’ll use his emotions — which he feels, even if maybe he can’t tell what other people are feeling — and do the thing that gives him pleasure: learning. As a result, everyone knows that one dude from grade school who’s very smart but has no friends, and the stereotype spreads. By the way, you don’t need to have Asperger’s to have trouble relating with peers; intelligent people often have trouble as well simply because their interests are different. An especially intelligent person may be excited by learning new things in math, for example, while a more typical person may just not care about that. That can make it hard to interact.

Finally, the idea that intelligent people are bad at emotional things also has roots in less intelligent people wanting to feel better about themselves by just making stuff up that sounds like it could be true. “I may not be as smart as Alice and Bob over there, but I’m obviously much better at emotion than they are, so SUCK IT, Alice and Bob! YOU SUCK at emotion! HA HA HA! I’m better than you at something! HA HA HA!” I’m only kind of exaggerating. If you’ve been to high school, you probably know people who actually think like this, instinctively trying to find flaws in people who they see as “better” than them somehow, whether in terms of intelligence, athletic skill, appearance, social status, whatever. (Hopefully they’ll have grown out of that kind of pettiness by the time they’re adults.)

In any case, very few people — sociopaths, specifically — actually have no emotion. More intelligent people can be just as emotional as less intelligent people; they just don’t make decisions on that basis as much because they have better ways to make those decisions!

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