Sidestepping the Fourth Amendment

In the State of Washington back in 1989, a young woman named Amanda Stavik was abducted raped, and murdered. Her body was discovered several days later. A surprising crime for the rural area where it occurred.

The case sat unsolved for nearly two decades until police were to make a break in the case, leading to the arrest and eventual conviction of Timothy Bass in 2019. During the trial was an evidentiary suppression hearing regarding DNA collected from a discarded cup and soda can.

It is long-settled law that anything discarded in trash in a dumpster or trash receptacle outside a home or place of business is fair game to police, and the Fourth Amendment is no protection. But the cup and soda can were collected from a trash can inside Bass’s place of employment. And not by law enforcement, but by his boss, Kim Wagner.

Hence the suppression hearing.

In 2009, Detective Kevin Bowhay reopened the investigation into Stavik’s murder. Timothy Bass was identified as a suspect, and in 2013 he requested that Bass voluntarily provide a DNA sample, to which Bass refused, demanding a warrant. (Note to you, dear Reader: never voluntarily provide anything to law enforcement.) Without the DNA sample positively linking Bass to Stavik, and no other physical evidence to link Bass to Stavik’s murder, Bass remained free from arrest.

Bowhay turned his attention to Bass’s employer: Franz Bakery. Bass worked as a truck driver for them, and Bowhay reached out Bass’s manager, Kim Wagner, with the intent of swabbing vehicles for any DNA. At that time, Bowhay did not tell Wagner they were specifically investigating Timothy Bass. Wagner said the detective would need to reach out to their corporate office, who did refuse to consent.

In May 2017 is when Wagner learned Bowhay was specifically after Bass when Bowhay asked Wagner for Bass’s delivery route with the intent of surveilling him, hoping for Bass to discard something with his DNA on it. He then informed Wagner that Bass did not discard anything.

Wagner then informed Bowhay that she would collect something from the employee break room. Bowhay’s response was simply “okay”, following up with the all-important words that he was not asking her to do anything. Why are those words important? We’ll get to that in a moment. Wagner was able to collect the aforementioned soda can and cup, turned it over to investigators who were able to recover DNA from it, which was a positive match for the DNA collected from Stavik’s body in 1989.

With that evidence, Bass was arrested, tried, and convicted of Stavik’s murder. Bass appealed his conviction, saying the motion to suppress the DNA evidence should have been granted. And the Court of Appeals for the State of Washington, Division I, recently affirmed the denial of the motion and, in turn, affirmed the conviction.1State of Washington v. Timothy Bass, Case No. 80156-2

* * * * *

One very important principle of law in the United States boils down to simply that a government agent cannot request or command a private citizen to do that which the agent is not authorized to do under the law. When it comes to the Fourth Amendment and the protection against a warrant-less search, this means simply that law enforcement cannot request a private citizen collect evidence they cannot otherwise obtain without a warrant or probable cause.

The question at hand with the case against Timothy Bass, however, is whether the Fourth Amendment protects you when a private citizen hands over that evidence of their own volition. Generally the answer is No.

But also at issue in Timothy Bass’s case are two details I feel are very important and, I feel, should’ve resulted in the DNA evidence being suppressed. First, Bowhay informed Kim Wagner, Bass’s boss, that he was not able to collect any discarded items along Bass’s delivery route after also informing Wagner that he was looking to collect DNA. Without that information, I argue that Wagner would never have volunteered to collect any discarded items from the employee break room.

Second, but of lesser importance, was Bowhay informing Wagner that Bass was being investigated as a suspect in Amanda Stavik’s murder.

Now the Court of Appeals determined that being tipped off to the investigation and what specifically Bowhay was looking for was not enough to make Wagner an “agent” of the government under the Washington Constitution. And my question is simply: why not?

Why is it enough for the sworn officer to say “I’m not going to direct you to do that” knowing the officer is about to receive that which the officer cannot obtain via warrant with probable cause? The police should not have been able to accept that evidence in the first place. Wagner completely sidestepped the detective’s efforts in finding DNA evidence. Wagner knew what Bowhay was after because he told her. Even if he didn’t direct her to get the evidence for him, and explicitly said he was not going to direct her, that he informed her of what he was looking for should be enough to get the evidence suppressed under the Fourth Amendment.

The detective shouldn’t be able to escape the Fourth Amendment by merely saying something along the lines of “I’m not going to tell you to do that”. The detective should have told her to NOT get it in the first place, and should’ve turned away the soda can and cup when it was given to them. A detective should not be able to tell what evidence they seek to someone with access to that evidence and then get around the Fourth Amendment by saying “I’m not going to tell you to do that” when the person they told says they’ll get them that evidence.

Detective Bowhay I feel knew that Wagner would get the evidence for him, and that is why he told Wagner what he was after, and told her that he was not able to obtain it himself.

And that he told Wagner what he was after, knowing she had access to what he needed, should be enough to get the evidence Wagner provided suppressed under the Fourth Amendment.

References[+]

Failures of logic

DarkViperAU (“DVAU” or “Matt” herein) is a GTA-V speedrunner. (Twitch, YouTube) For over the last year, he’s been attempting to finish a start-to-finish no-damage run, using a mod to enforce certain requirements: 1 hit point to ensure any damage is fatal, and disabling Trevor’s power which reduces or eliminates the chance of damage from any hit. And he’s publicly streamed his attempts to make it easy to “clip” the stream where needed to examine why he was killed in a particular circumstance.

In May 2021, though, another GTA-V player going by UnNameD posted video of him succeeding at a feat that Matt has been attempting for so long.

Naturally skepticism abounded with plenty of attempts to poke holes in the video that was posted, with responses to those attempts by GTA-V experts also coming about. A lot of the responses, however, also amounted to dismissal without due consideration. A lot of critics were dismissed as merely “DarkViper fanboys” or some analog thereto, basically acting like no legitimate criticism is even possible if you liked or followed DVAU’s attempt.

And there are plenty of people who readily latched onto this run as legitimate purely because they, for some reason, do not like Matt.

And all around there has been a massive failure of logic that I will go into here.

Prior to posting his video segments to YouTube, UnNameD was an unknown in the GTA-V gaming communities. He, in short, “came out of nowhere”.

Matt has repeatedly demonstrated that a no-damage run requires a lot of skill along with some luck. No one really knew what UnNameD’s skill was in GTA-V. So when he posted his no-damage run, skepticism and criticism should not only have been expected, but welcomed.

UnNameD has made an extraordinary claim. And, as Carl Sagan once said, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. And video capture is also not infallible as evidence. Just look to one of the many cheating scandals in any speedrunning community for evidence on that.

And speaking of cheating, it is not unreasonable to accuse someone in UnNameD’s position – again, relative unknown, seemingly lesser skilled player – of cheating to accomplish such a great feat as a no-damage run in GTA-V. Indeed such accusations should be expected because cheating by lesser-known or unknown players who seem to accomplish a great feat “out of nowhere” is not without precedent.

And even cheating by established and known players of particular games is also not without precedent. The recent controversies involving Trackmania and Minecraft speedrunner Dream show this.

And another on this mark that readily comes to mind is Goose. (YouTube channel here) He is a well-established speedrunner for the N64 games Goldeneye 007 and Perfect Dark. He has cheated (video splicing, if I recall correctly) and publicly admitted to it. But he managed to redeem himself and establish himself on the leaderboards, including setting world records on some stages, by completing legitimate runs and doing whatever was demanded to establish that his world record accomplishments are legitimate.

Matt has shown through his public attempts the likelihood a no-damage run can be accomplished on a random GTA-V playthrough is exceedingly low. It takes practice and planning. So out of the gate, the likelihood that UnNameD’s run is legitimate is extraordinarily low given his apparent lack of history.

Meaning the likelihood UnNameD did cheat to accomplish his no-damage run is not zero. Showing screenshots of his GTA-V folder does not eliminate that likelihood as well since we cannot know if the folder he showed is the folder out of which he actually ran GTA-V for his run. Add to it the fact that filesystem dates and times can be modified quite trivially via Powershell (which is installed by default on all Windows 10 machines), so we can’t know if the screenshots were made before the run, or after the run when the filesystem timestamps had been modified.

And it’s the response to the cheating allegations that has demonstrated the massive failure of logic. Many of UnNameD’s supporters have equated the cheating allegations to “guilty until proven innocent”. That isn’t what’s happening here.

To say it is means we should accept UnNameD’s run as legitimate merely because he claims it to be rather than through his defenses to the contrary, or that his run should be deemed legitimate merely because someone raised a claim of cheating. The burden falls on UnNameD to defend his run against claims that it is not legitimate, answering the criticisms and controversies instead of they or their supporters dismissing it outright. This includes doing what they can to defang any cheating allegations as best as is reasonable.

One can say that no person should make a baseless claim of “cheating”. Baseless claims, though, are not automatically illegitimate. Again, though, cheating by players unknown to the larger gaming communities in which they are participating is not without precedent. And in my perception, based on my exposure to speedrunning and gaming controversies, it is equally likely that UnNameD did cheat as it is that they did not.

The fact UnNameD is an unknown to the GTA-V gaming communities works against them and all-but-guaranteed they’d be accused of cheating.

But why do I say that accusing them of cheating is not “guilty until proven innocent”? Simply because the burden of proof has always been on UnNameD to prove the run is legitimate. Cheating is merely one counter-claim of many that can be levied against the run. Someone who merely says “you cheated” should be dismissed without much thought. But someone who says “here’s why I think you cheated” should have their points addressed and not dismissed.

An allegation of cheating is a claim of illegitimacy against the run. But that allegation of cheating is not the equivalent of “guilty until proven innocent” as many have claimed because the burden of proof has always been on UnNameD to defend the run and prove it to be legitimate.

Firearm liability “insurance”

It’s a general rule of common or statutory law that insurance does not cover intentional actions. Yet, time and again, we see proposals for “gun liability insurance”. The recent call for it is from San Jose’s mayor:

And that way we can ensure that victims are compensated where there’s an insurable event. And of course, insurance companies will help us make gun possession safer.

Firearm homicides and assaults with deadly weapons are, typically, intentional actions. Which means the events the San Jose mayor envisions would be “insurable” aren’t. They are excluded by common or statutory law or State regulation. California specifically denies liability insurance coverage for intentional actions:

An insurer is not liable for a loss caused by the wilful act of the insured; but he is not exonerated by the negligence of the insured, or of the insured’s agents or others.

California Insurance Code §533

So this makes the San Jose mayor’s attempt to require such moot. Since California’s Insurance Code cannot allow for such. And where a municipal ordinance conflicts with State laws or regulations, the latter controls.

And, again, virtually every other State has a similar law or regulation.

AOC and the left’s disdain for charity

The left’s disdain for charity is long-documented. But the most recent example is coming “from the top”, so to speak. Recently Congresswoman Alexandria Occasio-Cortez tweeted a picture of her grandmother’s living conditions in Puerto Rico. In response, along with asking why AOC isn’t personally helping her family, pointing out AOC’s base salary as a House Representative, conservative commentator Matt Walsh set up a GoFundMe that eventually raised over 100 thousand USD.

And the funds have been rejected, leaving many scratching their heads.

The optics of the charity effort along with who began it is easily a reason the money was rejected. But it’s also poor optics on AOC’s part and her family to reject money that would be direct aid to someone in need. I mean who in their right mind would turn down $100 thousand? Even a billionaire I doubt would turn down that kind of money if it was being readily offered to them, even if they don’t “need” it.

So what’s going on here? Well it goes to something else that AOC pointed out in her tweet: the Puerto Rico Hurricane Maria relief funds from the Federal government and that Trump allegedly “blocked” those funds. One of Biden’s EOs was to end that stoppage.

Except Trump “blocked” those funds because of indications that Puerto Rico had not spent all of the money initially allocated to them. Why give them more if they still had money left over? And who was responsible for allocating the funds they had? It wasn’t the Federal government. That responsibility fell entirely to Puerto Rico.

But why is no one on the left castigating Puerto Rico for mismanagement of funds? Because PR has a leftist government, and this also gives leftists a reason to set them up for statehood, opening up the chance that Democrats will get two extra voting seats in the Senate to make it more difficult for Republicans to ever regain a majority there.

But the rejection also speaks to a larger disdain for charity from the left. (Except where it can be used as a political statement.) And this can be readily shown by looking at health care. Much of the policy ideas coming from the left are about making it so the world around them improves without them personally having to do anything. Instead, they basically want the government to do everything or fund everything. Because that’s easy.

It’s also passive and lazy because it doesn’t involve sacrificing anything. No time or money is directly expended on the part of the person calling for the government to do it.

Those of us who give to charity or directly help families in need? We’re the ones actually helping change the world.

Those who gave to that GoFundMe wanted to actually help AOC’s grandmother. Yes they were also making a side-handed political statement, but they were at least willing to give something of themselves to directly help someone in need.

But I guess they would more prefer government aid, with all the bureaucracy and red tape to go with it, over the direct assistance of charitable people. And largely I think it’s due to their disdain for charity and their complete unwillingness to actually admit that charity is a much better way of helping people compared to government aid.

But charity requires personal sacrifice. Giving your own time or money to help others. Government aid? That requires no significant personal sacrifice.

Plus it seems people are always more willing to spend someone else’s money than their own, to have the government force others to pay for what they want so those calling for the spending don’t have to do jack shit.

Cancel culture vs boycotts

In November 2020, law student Elizabeth Rose penned an article on Medium called “In Defense of Cancel Culture” in which she compared cancel culture with boycotting.

Cancel culture is essentially a boycott. Its refusing to participate or support those that promote racist, homophobic, sexist, transphobic, or otherwise ignorant behavior. Protest is at the heart of this country and it shouldn’t be limited in the name of making already powerful people feel safer to spew ideas that are not tolerable in today’s society.

Cancel culture and boycotts are two completely different things.

With a business, a boycott is publicly refusing to patron a business and trying to convince others to do the same. Related to it are the sit-ins, which is an attempt to block access to a business by occupying the business’s space without actually patroning them. Note this is not the same as people who visit a cafe and sit there merely to use their free WiFi without actually ordering anything.

The main problem with a boycott is that the business may not be substantially harmed by the boycott. The business may even prosper more from it. Look at the controversy behind Chick-Fil-A from 2012 as a ready example. They saw an increase in business when liberals (now largely called leftists) tried to get people to stop eating at Chick-Fil-A over the donation practices of the company’s non-profit organization. The company is still around, and there’s largely no indication they’ve changed course.

Which is why “cancel culture” is a thing. And why, to me at least, it’s no coincidence that what we have come to call “cancel culture” really took root in late 2012 into 2013, with one of the earliest examples of such being Justine Sacco. The passive act of doxxing giving way to the active pursuit of disrupting someone’s livelihood or getting a business shut down.

You see, the primary trouble with boycotts and doxxing is simply that nothing may come of it. An employer may not fire someone merely on the demand of an outrage mob. And a business may not only survive a boycott, but may actually do better because of it and thrive – e.g. again, Chick-Fil-A.

Cancel culture is about ensuring that doesn’t happen. It’s about ensuring the person or business, in essence, goes away.

And bringing in the government if necessary. Imagine instead of a government complaint the lesbian couple had instead merely tried to boycott Masterpiece Cakeshop. The bakery likely would’ve survived. That’s why they went through the government. They wanted that bakery gone.

To borrow another meme, cancel culture is the Karen. Whether they’re trying to get someone fired from their job or a business shut down.

An example I give that readily demonstrates this is Carson King. For those who don’t recall, he’s the guy who held up a sign during an Iowa/ISU game saying he needed beer money. And it turned into a large charity drive with Anheuser-Busch and other companies even getting involved – because a viral charity drive is good publicity when you commit to matching donations. Until a reporter for the Des Moines Register dredged through the guy’s tweets and found two from years past that were… problematic. Then Anheuser-Busch pulled the plug on any further donations, saying they’d fulfill what they’d already committed to, and other companies backed out.

What would’ve probably raised a lot of money for a good cause suddenly came to a crashing halt. It still did a lot of good in the short time it was going. But to end a charity drive over two old tweets is… despicable. But that’s also how “cancel culture” works. No good can overcome a perceived wrong. Inadvertently starting a million-dollar charity drive no longer matters once you’re painted as a racist.

ABC News has a good summary article on what happened: “Viral ‘beer money’ fundraiser erupts into racist tweets, a fired reporter and online drama

Some like to counter that “it’s not cancel culture, it’s accountability culture.” No it isn’t. Accountability implies a chance at redemption. And with “cancel culture”, there not only is not chance at redemption, but no interest in those doing the “canceling” at even giving you that opportunity.

So, no, “cancel culture” is not the modern boycott. They aren’t the same in the least because their ends aren’t the same. Boycotts are about getting a business to change course and fail if they don’t. Cancel culture is entirely about shutting down a business or getting a person fired, making the business owner or individual suffer a penalty far disproportionate to the perceived wrong they may have committed.

Again, cancel culture is not the modern boycott. Since a business may survive a boycott. And cancel culture is about ensuring that doesn’t happen.

Revisiting DotTune for Sigma and Tamron lenses

Back in January last year, I wrote an article clarifying one detail about the Dot Tune method for calibrating a Sigma lens. Sigma and Tamron lenses both can be individually calibrated at several different points. The prior article merely pointed out that “critical focus” for a Sigma and Tamron lens means the individual points noted in the Sigma and Tamron software.

But there was something else I came to realize with calibrating the Sigma and Tamron lenses.

Note: I’ve since migrated to the Nikon Z5 with the FTZ adapter, where the need to calibrate these lenses is basically nonexistent. And so I’ve cleared the calibrations from all my Sigma and Tamron lenses. So I’m putting this out for those who are still using DSLRs.

First, let’s revisit the original DotTune method as outlined in this video:

So here are the steps:

  1. Set up your target and camera – Nikon: set up for back-button AF (which you should be using anyway)
  2. Establish critical focus in Live View
  3. Switch to manual focus, if using a lens that doesn’t have MF override for AF – Nikon users: don’t do this
  4. Evaluate viewfinder focus confirmation
  5. Cycle AF tune values to find confirmed range
  6. Set final AF tune to the midpoint of that range

A couple other things to note:

  1. Turn off the image stabilization (VC for Tamron, OS for Sigma, etc.) if you can on the lens. This will make your life a LOT easier since the lens won’t try to compensate for anything. I discovered this in trying to tune my Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 G2.
  2. Since all of your tuning will involve the center focus point, get your Live View and viewfinder focus point to the middle and lock it.

* * * * *

I pointed out in my prior article that “critical focus” for a Sigma or Tamron lens relies on the focus distance indicator on the lens when establishing focus in Live View. But I was wrong in how to actually calibrate the lens. It isn’t about finding one particular point that lands the solid dot, but moving the “confirmed range” up or down till its median value is as close to 0 as you can get.

The below steps will obviously apply to cameras with AF fine tuning. Prior to starting this, reset the lens to factory for its AF adjustments. Also bear in mind that you’re calibrating the lens to the camera, so once you calibrate the lens you’re likely not going to be able to move the lens to a different camera body and get similar results.

1. Set up your target and camera

Set up your target and camera with your camera (and lens) perpendicular to the target. Set the target to the distance you will be calibrating as shown in the focus distance scale on the lens.

2. Establish critical focus in Live View

Keep adjusting the target’s distance to the camera forward or backward based on where the focus lands. You want to make sure the focus distance indicator lines up where the Sigma/Tamron software determines it needs to be.

3. Switch off Live View. Set AF fine tune value to 0 for the lens.

4. Half-press the shutter button to evaluate the viewfinder focus confirmation

5. Cycle AF tune values to find the confirmed range.

This range and its median value will determine whether to adjust the value higher or lower. You want to aim for a fine tune range with a median at -1 to +1, 0 obviously being ideal. Median values below -1 mean you need to give it a lower number, while above +1 mean you need to go higher. If you have a range with a median at -1 to +1, you likely can’t dial it in any better than that.

Repeat this evaluation for all focal lengths at this focus distance. Primes having only one will obviously be much easier. For example, on my Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 G2, I’d need to evaluate at 24mm, 35mm, 50mm, and 70mm. Re-establish focus in Live View for each focal length. Bear in mind as well that focus breathing on your zoom lens may require you to adjust your distance to target.

6. Adjust the AF value up or down based on the confirmed range

This is definitely where you’ll need to keep track of your adjustments. A spreadsheet can help you here as well since you can use the built-in formulas to do your math: specifically the median function for evaluating the middle point between the low and high AF tune values.

Again in the end you’re looking for an AF tune value that produces a range with a median of -1 to +1 as best you can dial in.

7. Repeat steps 5 and 6 until the AF tune values for all focal lengths produce the desired median

8. Set the target to the next focus distance and repeat from step 2.

* * * * *

Bear in mind…

1. The target is important.

If you have a laser printer at home – yes, it needs to be a laser printer, not an inkjet – let me recommend using Lorem ipsum. You can find generators for it online quite easily. Take a page of it printed at various font sizes, with the larger font sizes for the longer focal distances. Times New Roman or Courier (looks like a typewriter) will probably be the best fonts for this as they should produce sharp results on your printer, but Arial should work as well.

Alternatively you can use one of the many focus testing images online. I cross-confirmed the calibration using the GhettoCAL template. I used only the square/circle pattern, not the distance scale. Printed out full size, it should produce about a 4″x4″ square, which I was able to use for my Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 and Sigma 50mm f/1.4 lenses. Haven’t tried yet on my Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8, but I suspect it likely won’t work nearly as well and I’ll need a larger target. And more room.

Exponentially so if I were to try it with my Sigma 150-600mm…

2. Values you set at shorter focal lengths will affect longer focal lengths

And on some lenses, each value may actually affect each other, so make sure to reconfirm all values – though this doesn’t appear to be the case on any lens I’ve calibrated thus far. So if you’re tuning a zoom lens, such as my aforementioned Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 G2, make sure you have a comfortable setup for testing and programming the lens as you’re gonna be at it for a while.

3. Adjusting by just ±1 could have significant effect

The tune values for your lens compared to the fine tune values in camera are obviously not the same. And adjusting by +1 on the lens could adjust your median by -2 or even -3. So if you have a median of -4, for example, adjusting just -1 could bring your median to -2 or even -1.

4. Don’t be afraid to set a baseline offset

If your AF fine tune is similar to the Nikon D7200, you have the option to set a “Default” AF fine tune value that applies to all lenses. Any additional per-lens fine tuning then adjusts relative to that. This can allow you to test a baseline offset for a lens when fine-tuning.

If you find your Sigma or Tamron lens is very heavily front focusing or back focusing, setting the “Default” to +10 or -10, respectively, (or another value depending on where things lie) before dialing in the lens further in the Sigma or Tamron software could allow you to bring things under control better.

Adjusting the baseline offset may also make the difference between a calibration that you can’t quite get zeroed in, dancing between -2 (or -3) and +2 (or +3) with a ±1 adjustment in the software and one that lands on a median of ±1 or 0.

Then once you have the lens dialed in, whatever you set as the “Default” will be the baseline offset for the lens set in the AF Fine Tune, with the default reset to 0.

Missing a lot of details

Time to dredge up a 4 year-old article on Ask the Manager that I only recently discovered (via one of those list articles). It’s called “Employee got her colleagues arrested for smoking pot at a conference and now wants a transfer“. And oh man is there a lot to say about this. First the letter:

Three of my reports (two staff and their team manager) were sent to a two-day conference on the other side of the state. According to one of the staff, Sally, when they were back at the hotel after the first day the team manager invited the two of them into his room and offered them a joint to smoke with him. Sally declined, her colleague did not. Sally told the front desk what her manager and colleague were doing, and the hotel called the police after confirming it. Sally checked out and took a Greyhound back to our city because she was so upset. She showed me and my boss a photo of the team manager smoking the joint and stated she was angry and upset at having an illegal drug pushed at her and pressured to use it.

Our state has not legalized marijuana for medical or recreational purposes. Both Sally’s team manager and colleague were arrested for possession. They were also given a reprimand for behaving that way on a work trip. Sally stated her objections to the fact they were not fired and reiterated her dislike of marijuana. She has put in for a transfer and stated if she is not given one, she will quit.

I agree it was inappropriate, but I think Sally is overreacting. I disagree with the marijuana laws in this state and believe in legalization. I partake myself occasionally. I understand it was completely inappropriate on a work trip and she shouldn’t have been pressured, but I think Sally is going way overboard with her crusade and telling the hotel and everything. How do I talk to her and address this with her? I’m also upset that she left the conference and came home early. I would have told her to decline it but to stay for the second day and privately talk to me after the conference.

Standing out is the apparent lack of empathy for Sally. In the letter, Alison’s response, and especially in the comments. Did anyone talk to her to learn why she reacted how she did? Did anyone attempt to figure out a full chain of events? There are a lot of gaps in the narrative presented in this letter, and I feel it’s intentional.

Two details come to mind that absolutely are relevant here.

  1. What is Sally’s history with marijuana and other illegal substances? And has she had contacts with law enforcement over this, either because of her own personal involvement or the involvement of friends and/or family? This will inform how she responded.
  2. What is Sally’s race?

The first question will help determine why Sally’s unusual response occurred. As many in the comments section reflect, most wouldn’t have responded the way Sally did. Or at least most claim they would not do that. But the second question is also very relevant.

The war on drugs has been supremely racist in its prosecution, I think we can all agree. So if Sally is black or Latina, the risk to her is greater than it would be if she is white. And Sally would also likely be acutely aware of that, especially if she’s had any prior contacts with law enforcement. (Several in the comments did raise the point that Sally could be a minority or POC, but it was typically dismissed whenever it was raised. How ironic from a site that tends to give left-leaning vibes with a lot of other subjects.)

So let’s start with the obvious: the manager’s illegal conduct. Upon learning of this situation, the business they were representing should have gone into damage control. They should’ve immediately fired the manager and colleague for their illegal conduct and made it clear to everyone in the company that illegal conduct will NOT be tolerated.

But everyone, including Alison, was ignoring the fact the manager’s conduct is illegal. Disagreeing with a law is one thing. And I’ve made it no secret my disdain for the war on drugs. But the law is still the law. And breaking the law is still breaking the law, whether you disagree with the law or not. The realities of how drug charges are levied against people seemed completely lost on Alison and the commenters over their assessment that marijuana just isn’t a big deal. They ignore the reality of how drug laws are enforced simply because they don’t agree with those drug laws.

Sorry but the world doesn’t work like that.

Something thankfully pointed out by one commenter calling themselves “Blame the Manager“:

Whatever your personal feelinga (sic) about drugs and drugs laws are, they are irrelevant. You have to deal with the world as it is, where smoking weed risks arrest – and everyone who smokes weed in areas where it’s illegal knows that.

They go on to say that Sally’s reaction to her manager’s illegal activity isn’t as unreasonable as many want to make it out to be, speculating on Sally’s actual actions based on the little detail the LW gave.

One other very relevant question: how did the manager acquire the marijuana? Did he buy it in the conference city, or bring it with him? In either case, Sally likely did not want to be near them on the off chance they transported any surplus back home with them if they all carpooled.

Since the risk becomes all of them getting arrested if they get pulled over. Drug possession is typically a strict liability offense. Saying “it’s not mine” largely doesn’t matter unless you can prove it was planted. Unless the illicit substances are on the person of one of the occupants, the police and law may treat the situation as if all of them are in possession. Recall from the letter that both the manager and colleague were arrested for drug possession.

And if Sally is a minority but the manager and colleague are white, it could end up that Sally is the only one in trouble. Again, unless whatever surplus was on the person of one of the occupants.

Even if Sally did nothing but merely left the room when the pot was offered, that doesn’t put her entirely in the clear. Since if law enforcement had still gotten involved, the manager and colleague could’ve still found a way to pull Sally down with them. Even if she was never actually charged, if she’s arrested, that could still come back to bite her in the future. Yet everyone seemed to completely disregard Sally’s desire to cover her own ass.

Again the drug war has been very racist in its prosecution, so we can’t discount this possibility. And Sally’s history with marijuana laws likely explains why she “noped” out of there. Checking out of the hotel early and taking a bus home to get away from two people who could get her in a heap of trouble.

Again this reality was largely ignored. Instead it seemed many in the comments section were quick to defend the manager, focusing their attention on the repercussions a drug conviction could have for them. Empathy for Sally’s position in that mess was largely non-existent.

Why did Sally take a picture of the boss smoking pot? She needed some kind of evidence to back up her claims when putting in for a transfer (which likely would’ve accompanied a formal complaint). That also tells me she didn’t expect the manager and colleague to get arrested – again, the hotel called it in.

Alison’s response to this letter also leaves a LOT to be desired, unfortunately. One thing any manager must avoid is letting their own personal biases cloud their judgement. And on that, Alison failed miserably.

Oooof.

Yeah, I agree Sally is way overreacting, but I want to be transparent that I’m having trouble parsing out how much of that is colored by my opposition to arresting and jailing adults for marijuana use.

I’m curious to know more about what she means when she says that she was pressured to use marijuana. Does she mean it was simply offered to her? That’s not really pressure, not any more than offering someone a glass of wine when other people are partaking is pressure to drink. But if her boss and/or the coworker were seriously pressuring her (dismissing her no, trying to cajole her into it, or giving her a hard time when she wanted to leave), then yes, that’s messed up.

Either way, though, taking a photo, alerting the hotel, and cutting the trip short and taking a bus back to your city is a pretty extreme reaction, unless there’s more to the story that we don’t know.

But the manager really screwed up here and I’d be having a serious talk with him, because he showed terrible judgment in offering Sally a joint. Given that he didn’t see her reaction coming, he clearly didn’t know her well enough to have been smoking pot around her in the first place (even if there was no pressure whatsoever). You should be upset with him for his lack of judgment.

As for what to do now … well, does it make business sense to transfer Sally? Is the job she wants to be transferred to one that’s open and one that she’d be good at? Do you typically transfer people pretty easily? How’s her performance generally? Is she someone you want to retain? Has she shown good judgment in tricky situations in the past? What are her working relationships going to be like with these colleagues going forward, if she stays where she is and if she moves? In particular, is it realistic for her to keep working for someone who she got arrested? I’d consider all of those factors in deciding whether or not to transfer her.

But if those factors don’t add up to a transfer making sense, I think it’s fine to tell her that you’re not able to give her the transfer and that you understand if that means that she choses not to stay in her job.

As for talking to her about leaving the conference and coming home early and about going overboard in general … I suppose you could frame it as something like, “Let’s talk about how to handle it in the future if you’re uncomfortable with a colleague’s behavior.” But I think you’re better off letting it go. It really doesn’t sound like you’re going to convince her that she was wrong to do those things — and unfortunately the law is on her side on the reporting — so I’d just focus on moving forward from here.

On the question of whether Sally was “pressured”, the manager/subordinate power dynamic means that the manager offered the joint to her is all that matters. How he offered it is immaterial. That power dynamic is so important to the discussion, but, again, Alison completely dropped the ball here.

“Blame the Manager” pointed out that Sally is the one being punished by the company for the manager’s illegal activity. Many feel that marijuana is “not a big deal”, but that doesn’t change the fact it is still illegal under the laws of many States and the Federal jurisdiction. And how those laws could be enforced against them is also very important to the discussion, especially if Sally is a minority.

Again, the company should’ve gone into immediate damage control and made it clear that illegal conduct will not be tolerated. Sally should never have needed to discuss a transfer because the manager and colleague should never have been retained.

And the update the LW gave was all the more gut-wrenching with this:

Thank you for answering my question Alison. As always your advice is spot on. I appreciate all the comments as well.

Since I sent in my letter some things have happened. Sally was not given a transfer and she was given a reprimand and sent home for a half day to make up for the unused costs of the hotel and conference. This was not my decision.

Sally ended up seeking legal advice and the company had to do damage control because she framed it as her male boss telling her to come into his room at night and pressuring her to take a drug that is illegal and mood-altering, and was penalized for reporting it to the hotel while trying to protect the company and their decision to phone the police, and given a harsher penalty than the people who did the illegal thing and not allowed a transfer and forced to work for the boss she reported and told not to be insubordinate again. Again I was not involved in the decision to reprimand her.

When Sally quit two people also left in protest and several others threatened to based on her treatment. The company decided to try to settle with her because a lawyer told us we really dropped the ball. I agree. I think Sally overreacted but I was upset that she received a worst penalty than her boss and colleague.

Thanks again everyone and sorry I don’t have time to reply to everyone individually.

There’s no indication the manager and colleague were fired for their – say it with me – ILLEGAL ACTIVITY! And, worse, Sally was reprimanded along with having her transfer denied and told to not be insubordinate. Talk about inadvertently establishing a culture where those who report illegal activity (though it was, again, the hotel that called the police) will be reprimanded while the lawbreakers will not.

Unsurprisingly, Sally ultimately resigned. Several others left with her, and several others threatened to do so, citing how the company treated Sally. Which that unto itself is noteworthy.

And after having the situation explained to them by an attorney, the company settled with Sally to avoid a potential lawsuit where… even if they won, the company definitely would not have looked good in the process. Reprimanding an employee who was offered pot (which is, again, illegal in the State in question) by their manager in a hotel while out of town during a conference, while retaining the manager without reprimand. There’s no way to frame that in a way that looks good for the company.

Now should Sally have left the conference early? I don’t see any reason to say “No”. Even if Sally isn’t a minority or POC or has never had any contact with law enforcement regarding illicit substances, she may be well versed in how drug laws are enforced and wanted to distance herself from a very apparent risk. The only way to know that would’ve been to discuss how she responded to get details.

If I was in Sally’s situation, I likely would’ve done much the same. I would’ve gone into some kind of personal damage control mode to ensure there was no way my manager and colleague’s illegal conduct came back on me. Since, as I pointed out above, even if Sally merely left the room when the pot was offered and didn’t inform the hotel, the chance of law enforcement still getting involved was not zero. And if they still got arrested, they still could’ve thought of a way to pull Sally down with them.

Leaving entirely was the only way to get that chance as low as possible. She could’ve gone to another hotel, yes, but the fouled manager/subordinate dynamic still meant Sally would’ve wanted to transfer out from under her manager. And any disquiet she has with marijuana would’ve made her uncomfortable being around them for the remainder of that conference as well.

So, again, I see no reason to believe Sally’s early and sudden departure from the conference venue was inappropriate.

How she was ultimately treated by her employer, though, absolutely was.

Moving Nasira to a different chassis

Build Log:

This is a long-overdue update. But before getting into the discussion, here’s the current configuration of the NAS:

  • Chassis: Rosewill RSV-L4500 with three 4-HDD hot-swap bays
  • Power: Corsair CX750M
  • CPU: AMD FX-8350 with Noctua NH-D9L
  • Mainboard: ASUS Sabertooth 990FX R2.0
  • RAM: 32GB ECC DDR3-1866

Storage is 12 HDDs divided into 6 pairs with an effective total of 42TB: 2 pairs of 4TB, 2 pairs of 6TB, 1 pair of 10TB, and 1 pair of 12TB HDDs. The last pair was the most recent addition after I found Toshiba N300 12TB HDDs on sale on Amazon for a little north of 300 USD (plus my county’s wonderful sales tax).

At the last update, the system was at 8 HDDs – 2 pairs of 4TB and 2 pairs of 6TB or 20TB effective – connected through an M1015 card flashed to IT (HBA) mode. And I knew I’d eventually start running thin on that as our movie collection continued to expand, along with storage needs for my photography. Later I upgraded to 4K TVs for my desktop (and we plan to buy a 4K television for our living room) and started collecting 4K Blu-Rays to replace the 1080p movies, which eats up storage even faster. (As an example, the entire Lord of the Rings 4K Extended movie collection is nearly a half-terabyte on its own!)

So to have room to expand, I decided to move it to a chassis that could allow for 12 HDDs.

Which that really seems to be the furthest I need to go on this, I feel. I need to cull out files anyway, likely starting with the day-of backups of the RAW files from my cameras, something I need to do anyway to help curtail the cost of my offsite backup. And if that wasn’t enough, I’d start replacing the smaller drives rather than figure out how to connect still more drives to this.

Replacing the drives is easy with everything set up in pairs, as I discussed in the seminal article on this project.

Nearly 5 years on, I’m glad I chose mirrored pairs from the outset. Sure I’m sacrificing storage capacity by doing this compared to RAID-Z1 or Z2. But it allowed me to expand storage gradually as needed. This gradual expansion also allowed me to take advantage of ever-improving pricing on storage, giving me a greater average GB/dollar overall without the significant up-front cost of buying a lot of drives at once. (I paid the same for just one 12TB drive as I did for two 4TB drives 5 years ago.)

Adding more drive bays meant going bigger on the chassis. So it was a matter of finding a 4U chassis with the requisite drive support. And on that, there really was just one option.

Rosewill Server Chassis

Rosewill has several options available. All of them 25″, longer than the 3U chassis at 22″. One of their options is the RSV-L4412 (Amazon, eBay). 4U with 12 hot-swap bays using three of the hot swap units I already have. Well that’s where the RSV-L4500 (Amazon, eBay) comes in.

The L4412 and L4500 are more or less the same chassis. In the front are nine (9) 5¼” drive bays arranged vertically. The L4412 has three Rosewill RSV-SATA-Cage-34 (Amazon, eBay) hot-swap bays in those drive bays while the L4500 has three RSV-Cage drive cages, which hold four HDDs horizontally and are not hot-swap.

Since I already had two RSV-SATA-Cage-34 hot swap units, the L4500 was the better choice. If you want to fit more HDDs into the front of this, some options can fit 5 HDDs to 3 drive bays, allowing for 15 HDDs total, which is a potential upgrade path for Nasira in the future.

On a side note, 45drives really should start selling their chassis – e.g. the AV15 15-drive chassis – without the need to buy a complete system. I probably would’ve just bought that at the outset and been done with it had that been an option.

But I didn’t want to just swap everything directly into the new chassis. There was a bit of a cable management issue in the 3U chassis. The more egregious aspect being the two hot swap bays. Which have two LP4 (“4-pin Molex”) plugs each to power the four HDDs per bay.

A nice little nest of cables in the middle. Swapping to using a SAS card and SFF-8087 to 4xSATA cables helped, but only so much. The power delivery was still the central problem. Especially since all of the internal accessories and HDDs were powered off one (1) – yes, just ONE – LP4 power harness from the power supply.

So what’s the solution? Clean wiring often requires custom wiring. That is the way of it.

Cleaner power delivery

6-pin PCI-E power pigtails are one of the better items to come out of cryptocurrency mining. The Corsair CX750M uses the 6-pin PCI-E plug for the SATA and LP4 harnesses, while using the 8-pin PCI-E plug for CPU (if you need more than one) and GPU power. They also tend to be 16ga, though 14ga options do exist.

But since they are made for powering graphics cards, they will have only two wire colors: yellow and black. And they will be wired for a GPU as well. But this is almost perfect for Corsair power supplies with the Type3 connectors. Remove the top-middle ground and the pin corresponding to the 3.3V line. The 5V line will be the middle yellow, and the 12V line will be the corner yellow.

I employed three of these for the HDD power delivery, one to each HDD bay. 20″ was long enough to reach even the furthest drive bay and still have some slack. I sacrificed spare extension cables and adapters I had laying around to make these into LP4 Y-splitters, with butt connectors to make the final power connections.

The harness with the white connector is being used to power chassis fans off one of the CPU/PCI-E connectors.
Not the greatest custom wiring job, but I wasn’t hugely concerned with perfection. I may redo it later.

Custom wiring is the only clean way to get power to this. PCI-E extension cables are an alternative, extending the stock harnesses out to the HDD bays. But the harnesses creates more cable bulk, which can be an issue with the Rosewill chassis as the power connectors are at the top of the chassis. And they’re only 18ga.

New SAS card. Kind of.

Since the chassis can fit three of the quad-HDD units, 12HDDs total, I need to connect that to something. But Nasira’s SAS card has only two SFF-8087 plugs, enough for 8 HDDs. So should I add a second SAS card, or upgrade to a SAS card with four plugs to it? How about option 3: a SAS expander.

That is the Intel RES2SV240. Think of it like a SAS switch. Using an SFF-8087 to SFF-8087 cable, you can use this to connect up to 20 HDDs, or even additional expanders, to one SAS connection on a card. And that card is initially what I used. Merely because I didn’t want two SAS cards, nor did I want to buy a 4-port SAS card.

While it is a PCI-E x4 card, it uses the slot only to draw power. It has an LP4 connector which can also be used to draw power instead of the PCI-Express slot. This could allow you to build an external enclosure, if you wished, using a pair of SFF-8087 to SFF-8088 converter boards with an SFF-8088 cable between them.

This was more expensive than buying a second 2-port SAS card, but less so than swapping out the existing one. It also added to the cable bulk in the chassis, but I chose to… just live with it. Until recently. With the last set of HDDs going into the drive bays, I decided to swap out the 2-port card and expander for a single 4-port card: LSI 9201-16i.

More room…

In the picture above you can see three expansion cards: 4-port SAS card, dual-port 10GbE card, and a graphics card occupying the lone PCI slot on the board. That PCI slot was hidden under the power supply in the 3U chassis.

So going with the 4U chassis, exposing the PCI slot, allowed me to replace the x1 graphics card with a GeForce2 MX400 PCI card I had lying around. Every card is passively cooled, and each card also has plenty of clearance for airflow from the 120mm fan panel. Not that the graphics card really needs all that much in the way of cooling.

…to expand?

It’s safe to say there won’t be any future expansion beyond this.

If I need more storage, I’ll just replace the smaller HDDs. Sure that isn’t nearly as cost-effective as just adding more drives (replacing the 4TB drives with 14TB adds 10TB at the cost of 14TB), but it avoids the complication of trying to figure out how to connect an external enclosure to this.

If anything happens to this system over the next couple years, it’ll likely be to replace the motherboard and processor with something more recent. But that’ll only happen if I absolutely need it. Since this is a light duty NAS, there likely won’t be much need to do that.

About voter ID laws

Here’s a thought: rather than calling voter ID laws “voter suppression” and wasting money on a lawsuit against Georgia in the false hope the new law will be struck, the charities who are going around trying to get more people registered to vote should also be asking if they have a valid government-issued ID. And if not, busing them to the nearest government office to get one and absorbing the cost of that. Since the argument is that some people are too poor to get one.

And if that’s the case, if someone is literally too poor they cannot afford $15 for a government-issued ID every several years, why not lobby for a government program to offset that cost instead, paid with a penny sales tax or something like that? Or establish a charity that partners with the local government offices to pay those costs for those who cannot afford them.

I’m seriously baffled at the idea that people don’t have a valid government-issued ID but are registered to vote. You have to have a valid form of identification on you in order to accomplish… most anything. Including! buying. a. firearm. (And in some States, ammunition.) You need a government-issued ID to get a job. And so many other things in life require a valid ID.

The government has an obligation to protect the integrity of the election process. Requiring an ID is part of that. Doesn’t matter how widespread voter fraud allegedly is or is not. If people could buy a firearm without showing an ID – an exercise of our basic 2nd Amendment RIGHT, by the way – the left would be up in arms (pun unintended) over it, screaming about how kids are going to die left and right because of it. (The same argument thrown at people who argue against universal gun registration, as well.)

So rather than spending time and money on a lawsuit (including the inevitable appeals), the organizations doing that should pool the money that would otherwise be going to the lawyers and Courts and use it to pay the fees so people who don’t have one can get a valid government-issued ID.

But then, if they did that, I guess that’d be one less thing they can call “racist”.

Presume Andrew Cuomo is innocent

Andrew Cuomo, the Governor of New York has a bit of a problem on his hands. Multiple “credible” allegations of sexual harassment or assault have been lobbed his direction. And numerous Democrats have called for his resignation.

Now I’m no friend to the Democrats. Being a libertarian, there are numerous policy ideas on which I have a lot of agreement with Democrats, but, again, I’m no friend to them. (Plenty would likely label me “far right” without missing a beat.) So with that out of the way, where do I stand on this?

The same place I stood with Brett Kavanaugh and Michael Avenatti. On the side of due process.

Like with Kavanaugh and Avenatti, one question must prevail above all others: are the allegations provable? If not, then we must give the Governor the benefit of doubt. If the allegations are provable but not proven, we must, again, give the Governor the benefit of doubt.

Only if the allegations can be shown by clear and convincing evidence to be true should we then act on them or demand the Governor’s resignation. Not before. Allegations are not evidence, and it’s far past time we stopped acting like they are.