Reaction Paper: Criminal Justice System

CJ Trowbridge

SOC 1: Intro to Sociology


Reaction Paper: Criminal Justice System

The modern American “criminal justice system” has for centuries been an institution of deliberate systemic oppression. This purpose was greatly expanded in recent decades through the drug wars and through the ignorant actions of armchair broken windows theorists like Joe Biden. This system is designed based on profit incentives. These incentives lead to no consideration of whether it is a good or effective system for reducing crime or reforming inmates, only how it can make more money for its greedy masters. There may be a way to reform this broken and toxic system, but not apparently from the inside; radical change is needed. From school-to-prison pipelines, to mass incarceration of minorities through laws restricting personal liberties, to convict lease and sharecropping, the American “criminal justice system” has for centuries been a deliberate tool of oppression intended to leverage minority groups as commodities for the profit of evil private corporations.

During the 2016 election cycle, the biggest bet analysts gave for investors who thought Trump would win is to invest in private prison companies like The Geo Group, which he was predicted to greatly expand if elected. This turned out to be an accurate and timely prediction. In the weeks following his election, the stock price of Geo Group more than doubled.

According to the Kingdon Three-Stream Policy Window Model, there are three necessary streams that must be satisfied in society in order for policy change to occur as an incremental solution for a social problem. The first stream is the problem stream. A troubling social condition must be outlined and clearly identified and articulated. This view must also be shared by expert claims makers as well as by enough members of the public that it reaches a critical mass and receives media attention.

Second, clear policy changes need to be outlined and supported by the expert claims makers. In contrast to the evil corporate conservative think tanks who are churning out model legislation to hurt minorities, social justice advocates must work with lawmakers to craft legislation which creates positive change. These policy changes may then be discussed by policy makers in view of the press and under the lens of the media-awareness and social-pressure related to the first stream as outlined above.

Third, attitudes of politicians must be changed. This can happen through lobbying directly or indirectly. It can happen as a result of effectively leveraging the first two streams to create a large critical mass of both support and pressure to create change. Only at this point can the policy changes become law, and solutions can be removed from the whim of future bad-actor policy-makers like Trump.

Cheap Flat-Top Shade Structure (Alternate Design)

Shade structures are perhaps the most important and powerful way of improving temperature conditions in a tent on playa or elsewhere. The value of a shade structure to someone who is trying to sleep can not be overstated.

The Traditional Way

A lot of people buy and build complex and expensive shade structures. Typically these are made using five-way joints with feet and ten foot sections of one inch emt conduit (or here). These are typically covered with tarps and ratcheted down.

Traditional flat top shade structure

Parts List

10′ by 20′ Total Cost: $382.98

Another Approach

At the burn this year, my friend Giorgio suggested putting up a flat top using rebar instead of feet and aluminet instead of tarp. This would mean far fewer parts, no need to ratchet strap it down since it won’t catch wind, and much easier to transport. I used paracord to tie down the aluminet which worked perfectly.

I simply pounded rebar into the ground, leaving about a foot above ground. I tied paracord to the eye bolt and dropped it through the aluminet’s grommet and then into the end of the emt conduit. This is fine since the cord is not bearing any load. It’s basically just there to keep the eye bolt from falling out if the aluminet flaps a bit. The wind blows straight through the aluminet so the force on the paracord is minimal. The other end of the conduit goes onto the rebar. The paracord is tied off on some lag bolts (This is overkill. There is probably a more elegant and less complex solution here). Below is a picture of this set up in my back yard as part of my chem honors project.

Parts List

10′ by 20′ Total Cost: $158.29

Less Than Half The Price

Wow so this design is less than half the price of the traditional model and comes with far less to haul in to camp. I will definitely use this design from now on! Here’s what it looks like in my back yard…

Shiftpod and Blueshift Under Aluminet

Psychedelic Glasses From Decomp ($10)

Burning Man Decompression was a blast this year. I wore a pair of psychedelic glasses which made everything look like this. A lot of people asked me for the link to them, so here it is!

They just look like normal glasses from the outside…

Psychedelic Glasses

Another person had this pair which were also popular so  decided to attach the link to them as well.

Another pair of psychedelic glasses

Reaction Paper: Socialization and Culture

CJ Trowbridge


SOC 1: Intro to Sociology

Reaction Paper: Socialization and Culture

I feel like I regularly come upon men offering free hugs, especially at queer events such as pride. Often these men identify themselves with clothing and signs offering further qualification such as “Free hugs from an accepting father,” etc. I approach these situations from a queer liberation perspective. I choose not to seek to use these people for the fulfillment of my own needs and desires, but instead to use my actions and choices to deconstruct toxic masculinity and reinforce queer liberation where I see it.

The point from a Foucauldian discourse analysis perspective is to take the power away from the panopticon by deliberately acting in a way which contradicts established norms and expectations, ie. “Queering.” Social change happens faster if we model it. Therefore when we see people whose intent/goal is to contradict established toxic masculinity discourses, we have a duty to engage them and model a more queer discourse by hugging so that passersby can observe the interaction and become socialized to the queering discourse. This may cause them to enter the cycle of liberation. These people may then go on to challenge and question other harmful discourses in their daily lives, becoming more liberated. Give a hug; liberate a passerby.

It is perhaps ironic to say that my response is certainly a product of my socialization into Sociology, Social Justice, and Foucauldian Queer Theory. I think the film shows that even in our toxically masculine culture, we always have an opportunity to exit the cycle of socialization and help lead people to liberation through the application of queer discourses such as the free hugs movement.

Woken Furies by Richard K Morgan

This book has a lot of content and a lot of moving parts. The story is very complex. I had to read it three times before I felt like I really understood the story.

The production of the audio book is completely different from the first two books. I had to take a break before I started this one. It was too distracting right after finishing the first two books. I REALLY hate when production companies change readers between audio books. Expanse in particular was really terrible. This one ended up being good once I had a break from it. I think I might even like it more than the production of the first two books.

This book does a really amazing job of exploring the ideas of revolutionary politics and religion and the problems and strengths with each. There are some really cool examples. The analysis is extremely sociological. As a sociologist, I really appreciate the perspective of the author and the way he explores these important topics.

In particular there are some really cool ideas around the problem of producing condensing symbols to unite disparate factions during revolutions.

There is also some interesting exploration of the problem of interfacing with future alien computer systems and the artificial intelligences that could be created by extremely different types of conscious life.

This might be my new favorite book. I highly recommend it. :]

Reaction Paper: Theory or Field Research

CJ Trowbridge


SOC 1: Intro to Sociology

Reaction Paper: Theory or Field Research (Conflict Theory)

I marched with Black Lives Matter at Burning Man this year. Burning Man is supposed to be an experiment in building a city the right way. Together, we arrive at the literal blank slate of a dry Pleistocene lakebed in the Black Rock Desert. We build a city called Black Rock City completely from scratch – the third largest city in Nevada – and then we dismantle it leaving no trace. During the two weeks we are there, we deconstruct every idea about urban life. We experiment with every fundamental and try to reject orthodoxy and any system of power and control. The result is very cool, very interesting results around better urbanism, better civic engagement, and better personal responsibility. But all is not well.

Going to Burning Man is expensive. It costs thousands of dollars, and several weeks of your life. During this time, you are essentially completely cut off from the outside world. There is a small chance that one or two emails might go through in the early hours of the morning, but that’s it. Later in the event, even that is unlikely. This is a cost that few can afford to pay, not just in terms of the dollar amount, but the power to walk away from work and other obligations for weeks at a time. It should therefore come as no surprise that in a nation with a 16% black population, just 1% of Black Rock City is black and 0% of the board of directors (Burning Man is a nonprofit).

Instead of representing the people they lead, the board of Burning Man is made up exclusively of wealthy white people from San Francisco. This imbalance of power in the hands of a small non-representative group sets up inevitable conflicts between people of privilege and people without privilege. It also excludes many important voices from the conversation and from the experiment. Wealthy white people from San Francisco and elsewhere have the resources and capital to leave their lives behind and spend incredible amounts of money on Burning Man, while people in marginalized communities do not. This conflict is growing.

This year, a coalition formed, made up of many newcomers from the deaf community, the queer community, the communities of color, and other marginalized groups. This coalition rose up to challenge the old guard and the entrenched wealth and power with its death grip on the steering wheel of society. Together, we marched into “Everywhere” (The sort of public headquarters of the board of directors). We disrupted their operations by taking and holding space. We presented a list of demands from Black Lives Matter. The first demand on the list was that the board be made racially representative, as well as committing to making the demographics of the city reflect the broader demographics of the people outside the city.

The board hid behind their power and privilege (Literally they hid in expensive RVs across the street.) and did not respond to the demands of Black Lives Matter. For now, this conflict will continue to escalate. Eventually, with a lot more work from these and other activist groups, the power that was taken from the people will be returned to the people, and in the words of the leaders of the protest, “Black Lives will Matter in Black Rock City.”

My 2019 Takeaways

The blue knockoff shift pod was an amazing success. It was so easy to set up and take down. It fits perfectly under a flat top shade structure and it stays cool until after noon. Along with my favorite ear plugs, the blue shift pod allowed me to get more sleep than ever before at a burn. I can’t recommend these highly enough.

I brought a notebook this year so I could write down things I wanted to change or bring next time. Here are some of the things I wrote down;

Bring More Fans: I brought a pair of high speed fans for circulation. When you’re under a flat top shade structure, often times the air outside stays pretty cool. Pumping that in can make a world of difference. And it augments the effectiveness of the swamp cooler. I set up two 200CFM fans with ducts to draw air in from outside. These were on a simple thermostat. They automatically kick in when the temperature starts to rise. I estimated that adding these simple circulating fans gave me about two extra hours of cool temperatures for sleeping in. In the future, I think I will double this set up and bring four of these 200CFM fans while ditching the swamp cooler altogether. The swamp cooler is really large and complicated and needs a lot of water and isn’t super effective. Simple circulation feels like a lot of value for not a lot of money and space, in my experience.

Bring A Parasol: I felt like the only person without a parasol this year. I borrowed one from a friend in order to go to the DMV with another camp one day. Having that tiny bit of shade to bring with you on playa makes a world of difference.

Flat Top Shade Structure: This year, my friends and I brought several large pieces of aluminet. Initially, this was just laid over the blue shiftpods. This did not help at all with the heat. In fact, it created lots of noise flapping around, while not helping with the heat. Our tents were right next to a 20′ by 96′ flat top shade structure which formed the core of our camp’s residential area. I experimented with moving the aluminet to attach to the shade structure and then to poles on the other side of our tents. This means that the aluminet was hanging taught a few feet above our tents, rather than touching our tents. This made a HUGE difference with the heat. That said, mounting the far end of the aluminet to poles stuck into the ground was not ideal because they moved around even though they were guyed down. I  think a more ideal system would be to set up another small flat top twenty feet from our main flat top, then stretch the aluminet between them, and set up our tents underneath. This would mean a lot of extra shade for super cheap. #lowhangingfruit

Failover Switch: My camp provides power to every tent. This is great, but if you’re relying on it for something like ventilation and then it goes down, you will get hot and wake up. I also brought a large battery, but it doesn’t charge super fast. Using it as my main power source would not work. It would discharge overnight and then not fully recharge in time to use it again. The solution is a failover switch. I have actually already written a proposal for using these for our kitchen refrigerators. The idea is simple; a battery charger and a failover switch both plug into the main grid. The battery charges from the grid (or from solar or wind). Then, the failover switch provides power from the grid to all your devices while the battery is charging. If the grid fails, then the failover switch immediately switches to drawing power from the battery. The devices plugged into it don’t even notice. When the grid comes back on, the switch immediately moves back to drawing power from the grid and the battery begins to recharge. This is especially important for ventilation and air conditioning. One morning this burn, the power failed and the tent quickly heated up to an uncomfortable temperature, waking me up. Never again!

Renewable Energy Sources: With the layout described above, the battery can easily charge off of solar or wind rather than the grid. Then, the switch could be hooked up in reverse so that we first use the stored solar power, and then switch over to using the grid. This would offset diesel fuel costs, and reduce our carbon emissions!

Pens, Sharpies, Calling Cards, Ziplocs: Ziplocs are perfect  for storing the many small items which accumulate during the burn. There are many cute examples of calling cards which my fellow campers were giving out this year. Pens and sharpies are extremely handy, especially during strike.

Snacks: My favorite two snacks this burn were frosted strawberry pop tarts and peanut butter filled pretzels. Specifically we had the giant kirkland buckets. I will definitely bring some of these next year.


Advanced Playa Air Conditioner

I did another post about building a simple playa air conditioner. I made several major innovations over existing designs, but also repeated a major failure of existing designs. In this post, I will describe my process of addressing this failure and improving further on the prevailing designs for DIY playa air conditioners.


All DIY playa swamp/bucket air conditioners work on the same principle called evaporative cooling. The basic concept is simple; you force liquid water to evaporate into dry air. This turns hot, dry air into cool, humid air.

All the designs that I’ve seen use evaporative pads. Water is pumped over the pads, saturating them. Then a fan pulls air through the pad, evaporating the water in the pad. The cold air coming through the fan is ducted into a tent or yurt.

The Problem

Mots of these designs, including the apparent original, share a common flaw; they expose only a few inches of the pad to the outside air. These designs typically feature a bucket with a few small holes at the top to let air in through the pad.

The first problem is that the pad is designed to work across its entire surface area, and exposing just a few square inches of it to the outside air means the pad is not really working as well as it could.

The second problem; the holes are at the top because the bucket is full of water. So even if the pad was fully exposed to the outside air, most of it would be under water.

My First Design

My earlier post featured chicken wire which holds the pad away from the edge of the bucket. This means that the air from outside is able to reach the entire surface area of the pad.

The problem with this design is that the bucket is still full of water. So even though the pad is fully exposed to the outside air, most of the pad is under water.

Version Two!

Here are the two buckets with their lids side by side. The top bucket is the evaporative chamber. The bottom bucket is the water reservoir. Cutting through these is easy with a simple box cutter.


As you can see, the first bucket has drain holes which lead down into the reservoir. The evaporative pad sits in a column under the duct, drawing in hot, dry air from all directions.


Here is the evaporative pad, surrounded with chicken wire and with two drip lines installed. These are just sections of tubing with their ends crimped with zip ties, and holes punched every inch or so with a hot soldering iron.


When the evaporative column is inserted into the top bucket, the lines run down into the reservoir bucket like so.


I replaced my previous pump design with this one which is more clean and probably more reliable. These pumps have barrel jacks which run through a splitter and then to a power supply. Also, these are beefier pumps because the USB-powered ones could not lift water up high enough for this design.


I also found a beefier 200 CFM fan which can run into the same power supply. I added one duct adapter to each side, and attached an eight foot section of 4-inch dryer duct. This will run into the tent. The other good thing about using barrel jack power is that I have several batteries which will be able to run this newly redesigned system.


The same dryer duct quick disconnect runs down into the evaporative column and connects to the fan and duct.


This design improves on all the problems identified with the previous design. Looking forward to a cool playa experience!


Parts List

Anti-Darkwadding with Sound-Reactive Lights

I’ve been talking about doing this for a while and I finally pulled the trigger. I will probably safety pin these to bags and costumes throughout the burn. I think these would also be cool inside a clear backpack. Check out the video!

Parts List

3x USB-C Light-Up Charger Cord

3x USB Sound-Reactive Disco Light

3x USB-C/A Male/Female Dongle

3x USB-A Female/Female Dongle

1x USB Battery Pack

This is the battery pack that I used for the video. I tried measuring the power consumption of these lights but it was too low to register on my measuring device. Probably this battery is plenty to power these lights for the whole burn. And it’s easy to recharge with a solar panel like the one I’m bringing.

The dongles allow the USB-A Male of the disco light to connect to the USB-C Male of the charging cord like so;


Queerborhood Wifi


This is the final draft proposal for the pilot project to tie into the new borg network. If successful, the project could eventually deliver WiFi to the Queerborhood (7:30 sector). There have been several changes of priority since the first draft of this proposal. This final version features a mast with a microwave dish to tie into the borg network, a wifi router, and three range extenders which distribute the connection throughout our camp. This way, later we can add more extenders as well as load balancers in a future phase. This is intended as a first step in a larger long-term project.

For a brief description of my relationship to this topic; I am a licensed FCC Radio Tech (KK6VJX) with two decades of experience in supporting computer networks.

Normally, we would need to install enormous masts to connect to the borg network, but luckily we have three semi-trailers which stay in the camp throughout the burn. This means we can place smaller masts on top of the trailers in order to tie into the network. Specifically, I am recommending a “non-penetrating” mast designed for flat roofs. Instead of weighing it down with bricks, we will use two pairs of three ratchet straps to tie it around the trailer.

Per the borg’s recommendation, the main connection is a Ubiquiti NanoBeam microwave dish. This is wired into the junction box on the mast where a cheap wifi router takes the connection from the microwave dish and distributes it via wifi to the camp.

Throughout the camp, cheap wifi repeaters extend this signal to make sure our network reaches the entire camp. These will be included in the junction boxes of our power grid’s new distribution substations. During the proposed second phase of this project, additional masts will be placed in various locations and tie together via a load balancer which then feeds into our wifi. This means that if there is any problem with any of the masts, the other ones will continue to work. At that point, any neighboring camps that want to tie into will simply need to use those cheap wifi extenders to tie into our system since we are doing all the heavy lifting of connecting to the borg network.



Parts List For First-Phase