A Few Answers To Questions You Always Wondered About

March 14, 2018 | No Comments » | Topics: Answers

How do prisoners get so muscular?

When I first came to prison back in 2001, I knew that I would be entering a treacherous environment.  Instinctively, I felt the Darwinistic importance of staying in shape in order to survive. I was actually looking forward to ‘hitting the weight pile’ and ‘driving iron’ in order to put on some muscular size.  However, when I finally made it to the yard, I learned that the California Department of Corrections had removed all of the weights in 1998.  Administration claims this was due to the potential of them being used as weapons.  Personally, I think it was because California’s ‘tough on crime’ policy had almost doubled the size of the prison population.  The end result being more and more muscle-bound felons being released back into society.   Whatever the reason, guys in prison could no longer get as big, except for the dedicated few who used their creative ingenuity to achieve muscular size and definition.

Every yard I’ve  been on  has  workout bars where men can  do  a variety of exercises like push-ups, pull-ups, dips, and leg-lifts. To add weight to their routines, I’ve seen guys use each other’s body weight to add resistance to their workouts. Push-ups are done with someone leaning against your back and squats can be done with somebody sitting on your shoulders. I’ve also seen guys fill pillowcases with sand to use as dumb­ bells. In the cell, trash bags are filled with water and placed inside a bucket with a handle for shoulder shrugs and lateral raises.   My favorite method is stacking forty to fifty National Geographic magazines and tying them up in a laundry bag for bicep curls and tricep extensions.
This question actually gave me the courage to ask one of the more muscular guys on the yard, ‘Curly Joe’, how he still managed to stay so buff.  Here’s the inside scoop. Curly told me the secret is lots of reps with shorter a smaller range of motion.   He explained, “You got to pump those muscles up like a balloon until they feel like their going to explode.” I told him it sounded somewhat painful. He just laughed and went to do another set.  I’ve always been more of a tennis/running kind of guy anyway, so if I can ‘tout-muscle, at least I’ll be able to out run them.

Christopher Schuhmacher, inmate San Quentin State Prison



What is the internet ‘Echo Chamber’ and how has it contributed to growing poltical divide of America?

While the pursuit of better, more customized content is certainly worthwhile to the consumer, it has far-reaching consequences in ways we never imagined.

We humans tend to be comfortable around those who share our core beliefs, be they religious, political or even our taste in food. So we often cocoon ourselves in this soothing echo chamber of like-mindedness.

As you engage online with content that relates to your interests, you’re reinforcing your own world view and preferences to the personalization algorithms. Very soon, you’ll start seeing more content online that shares that viewpoint. You’ll get recommendations on new Facebook pages to follow based on the ones you already do. Everything you see makes sense to you because everything appearing is, well, you. At least the cyber-you revealed to the algorithms.

These personalized feeds are everywhere from Facebook to your smartphone apps. Most users have no problem letting their computer determine the best content for them at any given time. Let’s face it, when the newsfeed reinforces your world view you feel validated. That’s no surprise; we are social animals that need our beliefs affirmed, if only by a faceless mathematical formula.

But at what cost? What is the price of being surrounded by your beliefs and passions? What if you’re wrong, perhaps horribly wrong, and the unblinking newsfeed says you’re right? And how can you think or argue intelligently if you have no idea what the other side even believes?

The algorithm has in many ways killed discourse in this country. Of course, there are other factors, but I firmly believe personalization algorithms have played a huge role in the degradation of rational debate, one based on facts rather than unsupported beliefs or outright fallacies.

It’s not that they don’t want to understand one another. It’s because their views have been stridently reinforced by this technological echo chamber. They are not only right and their opponents wrong, they are righteous and their opponents are reprobates.

This begs a simple yet disturbing question. How can we ever come together and have meaningful discourse if we can’t even clearly understand what the issues and facts actually are?

– Matthew Kaskavitch 




How come undercover police operations (particularly those where police pretend to be sex workers) don’t count as entrapment?

What is entrapment?

Entrapment is an illegal act by authority figures to MAKE people do bad things (Illegal). An example of this would be: An undercover Police Officer begging a person (Not a drug dealer in this case, just for example’s sake) to sell them drugs. This person, who actually just so happens to have drugs, repeatedly refuses the Officer’s requests, until he finally gives in just to shut him up. The Police Officer then arrests the person for drug trafficking, takes the “offender” to court, and then has to duck as a Judge throws his little mallet at him for entrapping some poor person.

Entrapment is the act of reasonably forcing a person to commit a criminal act they would not have otherwise done.

Understand that so far? Good. Now. What the general problem is, people don’t have a basic grasp of what entrapment isn’t. Entrapment IS NOT:

“But why, internet anon? Surely, the Police are luring these poor, innocent people to their doom!” LOL. No. See. Get this: People suck, and actively seek these things out. And when they do, it’s no longer entrapment. That John looking to get his dick wet with undercover Suzie? He willingly tried to solicit her. Yes, she could have asked, and all he had to do is say no and go on his merry way, and he wouldn’t be handcuffed. Uncle Robert getting his door knocked down in the middle of the night by the FBI? No one FORCED him to watch little kids get fucked on the internet, he was looking for it. Your dumbass friend Marley who asked the wrong guy for drugs? He shouldn’t have been asking ANYONE for drugs. Nor should he have accepted any offers.



Additional fun fact: Undercover officers can do nearly anything to keep their cover, just short of killing someone (Presumably, they might actually). No, they don’t have to admit they’re cops just because you asked. Yes, they will deal drugs and kick you in the face. With undercover agencies, the ends justify the means.




What is Autism?

Autism is usually used to describe a difficulty in understanding social situations. People who have autism may have difficulty understanding what is appropriate in conversation, interpersonal relations, or interacting with large groups of people by displaying “strange” behaviors. These can include talking for great lengths of time about certain subjects past the group’s interest, or being unable to pick up on social cues (being uninterested in a certain topic of conversation, subtle clues towards guiding the direction of a conversation, etc.).

Autistic people process information on people with the ‘objects’ part of the brain, instead of the ‘social’ part. Thus, social norms and effects of ones behaviour on others are not considered, relevant or even understood.

Ever been somewhere completely foreign? The people talk strange, dress strange and act strange. Toilets flush the wrong direction, cars on the wrong side of the road. People on the street will stand too close to you or get angry if you point with one finger. All kinds of shit that leaves you with a vaguely uncomfortable feeling. You can communicate with people, although misinterpretations are common, and you can interact enough to get by, but you can never really get your point across when needed, and you just plain don’t have a grap of their social norms. Pretend this never gets better. That’s kind of how we think an autistic feels.

It depends, of course, on where one lands on the aforementioned “autistic spectrum”, but holds true to some extent with all autistics. It’s hard to get your point across or to get someone else’s point, others emotions or reactions to events make no sense, and are unpredictable to an autistic. It is honestly surprising to a person with autism that the neighbor would get mad at you for smashing his car windows with a hammer. You’d be confused if he liked his windows, or just hates that hammer. A lot of folks with autism cling to things like math for comfort. They like patterns, predictable things that always have a familiar outcome.

Check out The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time . Amazing story told from the point of view of an autistic child.



How do technicians determine the cause of a fire? Eg. to a cigarette stub when everything is burned out

I was a fire investigator for 6 years. We go about finding what started a fire by A) looking at burn patterns and B) interviewing the people that were there if possible.

If the whole house has not burned down, I look for the that has the most burn damage. In a urban area where the fire department is pretty responsive, you may only get smoke damage in most of the house. This rules out the rest of the house from starting the fire. Let’s say the most burnt area is near the kitchen. You start asking yourself what can start a fire in that area. Usually this would be your stove, electrical systems, candles etc. The next thing you would do is rule out each possible source of fire by looking at witness marks. These are distinct marks where the flames appeared to originate. Eventually you will get to a point where you can conclusively rule out what definitely did not cause the fire and hopefully left with one source of the fire.

It is not uncommon to sift through an entire room of debris to find common sources of ignition. When sifting, we have found cigarette butts, arced wires, matches, and one time an 85 year old woman’s stash of condoms. If we believe arson was a possibility, we will take samples of the area for chemical analysis. Arson is pretty obvious as it leaves what is called a ghosting pattern on the floor. We can pull samples from the edges of the burn and test for gasoline etc. When it comes down to it, all fires need fuel, oxygen and a source of ignition. This is called the fire triangle. Our job is to look for the source of ignition.

For those asking about forest fires, I was not in that type of work but I assume the same way. I am sure they use an areal view of the area to determine the starting point and go from there.

– CoGa 





Why haven’t other species evolved to be as intelligent as humans?

Species evolve qualities that are beneficial for survival, and passing on their genes. That’s the only reason a particular trait gets selected and passed on in a species. Humans developed large front brains (which make us intelligent), because intelligence confers advantages for surviving and passing on our genes. So, humans developed big, smart brains for the same reason that we developed arms, that rhinos developed thick skin, that alligators developed an incredibly slow metabolism, and that owls developed acute vision. All of these traits are very helpful for helping the creature survive and mate. So, our asking “Why aren’t other species as intelligent as us?” is very much like an alligator asking “Why don’t other creatures have as slow metabolisms as we do?” or an owl asking “Why can’t other creatures see or fly as well as we do?”. The answer is that those traits aren’t the ones that were helpful for those creatures to survive. Each creature developed the traits it did in order to overcome environmental challenges to survival, and it happens that intelligence was a huge help for primates in trying to survive, but not so much for alligators. Alligators don’t need to be able to make tools or to fly to weather their environmental challenges. What would be more helpful is if they could slow their metabolism to the point that they only need to eat about once a year – and this is the trait they developed. The same goes for us. Intelligence is one of many evolutionary tools developed for survival, but by no means the most efficient one. Bacteria – stupid as they are – are better at surviving than we are.