Garage OPSEC

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If you’re a gearhead, you’ve probably got a lot of stuff in your garage. Expensive stuff. Collectible cars. Bikes. Tools and equipment. There might be more value in your garage than inside your house. But ironically, the garage is often the least secure part of the house. Thieves are well-aware of this.Garage thieves 1

You should be, too.

Here are some suggestions to avoid coming home – or waking up to – a cleaned-out garage:

* Be discreet about what you’ve got. 

Keep the garage door closed unless it needs to be open. Don’t flaunt your stuff. Thieves are opportunists. When they see an opportunity – your toolbox just sitting there, for instance – they may decide to take advantage of that opportunity. Or, they’ll make a note to come back later – having seen what you’ve got and wanting to make it theirs. If your door is closed, there’s nothing to see. Probably, they won’t give what’s inside much thought – and will move along to the next – the obvious – target.closed garage

Related: If you’re getting ready to build a new home, think about locating the garage in the back – or locating the door/entrance so that what’s inside isn’t readily visible from the street when the door is open. If you’re stuck with what you’ve got, use landscaping – shrubs, trees and so on – to obscure the view. Keep pricey antique cars covered when they’re not being worked on. Get one that’s big enough to hide the wheels, too. They’re a dead giveway to something other-than-Camry underneath.

If the garage has windows, get blinds.

* Secure what you’ve got.garage defender pic

When we bought our current house, it had a side entrance door to the garage that a burglar could have defeated with an elbow. Because the upper half was glass-paned. Just smash the glass, reach in, unlock the door and in like Flynn. One of the first things I did after we moved in was to get rid of that door. I replaced it with a solid metal door – with a heavy deadbolt in addition to the normal lock. For even more protection, add slide-type deadbolts at top and bottom – with the mounts drilled with heavy duty screws into the frame surrounding the door.

Though not impervious, this door will require a lot more time and effort to defeat. The average smash-and-grab thief – who is often a teenager – will likely not bother. And that probably means your at-risk profile is cut by two-thirds.garage thief stuck

For similar reasons, I also replaced both garage doors. The old ones had windows – which not only let in sunlight (bad for the paint and chrome of collectible old cars) but could also let in a thief. The new doors are solid – and they have a physical lock on the side rails I can use for an additional layer of security. I recommend such a system – which many new garage doors offer or which you can easily rig up yourself to an existing door using slide-lock hardware available at Lowes or Home Depot or any hardware store.  They make it all-but-impossible to manually raise the door from the outside. This countermeasure is particularly important if you have an electric opener. Keep in mind that it’s fairly easy for a thief to obtain a door opener with the right code (or hack your system, especially if you have an outdoor keypad). A physical lock will thwart anyone trying to open the door with an ill-gotten remote.garage cameras

Adding cameras – in particular, obvious cameras – to the outside perimeter is also a really good idea. Even if they’re fakes – they have deterrent value. Ideally, get ones that have a blinking red light or something similar, so that anyone prowling around will see that they’re being seen.

Bright flood lights with motion sensors are also good. Mount them up high, so that it’d be hard for someone to get at them at – and turn them off.

* Make it obvious you do not like thieves.brass picture

I like to leave lots of .45 brass and 12 gauge shotgun shell casings sprinkled around entrance doors and windows. It sends a message: Crazy redneck – crazy armed redneck – lives here.

Remember that thieves are hyenas – they like to prey on the weak and helpless. If you’re obviously neither, the odds are good they’ll try elsewhere.

* Make your stuff harder to steal.

Tools should be secured in heavy, hard to remove/move (and locked) pro tool cases – ideally, cases permanently fixed to hard points such as a concrete floor or heavy workbenches. Locked cabinets (metal, ideally) bolted to the wall studs work well.toolboxes pic

There are several ways to discreetly rig a vehicle so that it won’t start or is difficult to move. A simple battery disconnect switch serves two purposes: It’s a theft deterrent and it helps avoid running down your vehicle’s battery while it’s just sitting. You can buy a disconnect switch at most auto parts stores – or online. They’re generic, fit any vehicle. Or, simply disconnect the hot wire to the ignition coil. The engine will crank – but will not start. A steering wheel lock will make it very hard to drive the vehicle even if the thief manages to get the engine started. An eye bolt drilled into a concrete floor provides a secure anchor point for a chain to keep your bicycle (or motorcycle) where it belongs.

Etc.

None of these things are absolute defenses, but each one involves a layer of time and hassle – for the thief. The greater the time/hassle factor involved, the less appealing your stuff is to thieves. tools mark

* Make your stuff easier to get back.

It’s a good idea to mark your vehicles (as well as expensive tools/equipment) with distinctive – and known only to you – identifying marks such as your initials. Use a punch or Dremel tool to do this. Document each mark and the vehicle/equipment, ideally using a camera or video recorder. This way, it’ll be easier to prove the item is yours if it’s found in someone else’s possession later on.

* Finally, consider your coverage.

Find out whether your homeowner’s policy covers the full replacement value of your tools and equipment. A standard homeowner’s policy on, say, a $250,000 home may not cover the $20,000 you’ve got invested in your roll-out chest full of Snap-on sockets, your 300 gallon air compressor and all the other stuff you’ve got. Confirm the details of your policy’s coverage – in writing – with your agent. It’s also a very smart idea to do a full inventory of everything you have – with high quality photography or video for back-up in the event you do get robbed and need to verify the extent of your loss.garage cars pic

Similarly, you might want to consider taking out an agreed value policy on your antique/collectible vehicles. If your vehicle is stolen and not recovered, you will then receive the previously agreed-upon value listed in your coverage. There will be no haggling after the fact over what it was worth. This is particularly important if you have a car you initially bought as a clapped-out hulk but subsequently poured a lot of time and money into. Because if you don’t have an agreed value policy – based on what your particular car is worth – the insurer may only compensate you for the “book value” of the hulk – as opposed to its value as a meticulously restored show-winner.

Throw it in the Woods?

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eric

Author of "Automotive Atrocities" and "Road Hogs" (MBI). Currently living amongst the Edentulites in rural SW Virginia. 

  46 comments for “Garage OPSEC

  1. GW
    August 13, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    Some good suggestions Eric – I have done most of these already and added a bit more – I also look for the deterent factor and degree of difficulty on behalf of the would be thief / intruder.

    For example I have Bougainvilla planted around windows and fence lines – not only does it flower nicely but the the 2′ thorns ensure that no one will enter my house except thru the front door. Should they breach the perimeter fence and thorn line – I find the Pitbull (plus 2 other dogs) is a pretty ample deterent and yes – they even have access to both the house and the garage – no human presence required.

    • KaD
      September 3, 2013 at 4:15 pm

      The point of a guard dog is that it can be called OFF when necessary; the point of a dog bred for pit fighting is that it cannot be called off, beaten off, or shot off. The dog is more likely to kill you or a family member than a burglar: http://dogbitelaw.com/dog-or-burglar-alarm-which-is-better/dog-or-burglar-alarm-which-is-better.html

      http://www.dogsbite.org/pdf/safety-flyer-pit-bull-as-dangerous-as-firearms.pdf

      • SinEater
        September 5, 2013 at 1:23 am

        Show me some DOJ statistics on that please.
        The only thing you have posted are links to web pages that are specifically written as anti-dog. You are not citing specifics or statistics, just general statements by people who are so afraid of dogs they *published websites* about their fears.
        There were a total of 31 fatal dog atacks in 2011 and 34 in 2012.
        A lot of those were pit bulls or were (correctly or incorrectly) attributed to pit bulls. But you are talking about 30 to 35 fatalities out of *3 million* dog owners.
        0.0002%
        More people die from recreational boating, recreational fishing, hiking, *sex* and *going to work* every year than are killed by dogs.
        I worked as a prison guard. Inmates who were in for housebreaking and burglary *hated* dogs and would avoid them like the plague.
        Even a teacup poodle will give a thief fits because of the noise.

  2. Eric_G
    August 13, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    When I was a kid dad had a hasp lock on the side door of the garage. One day I left the key inside while I was getting my bicycle out. The lock was high quality case hardened steel, but the hasp was just crappy stamped metal. It was fairly easy to borrow a hacksaw from a neighbor, cut the hasp and bend it so I could get the lock off and I was in. Total time (after getting the hacksaw) was less than 5 minutes. Then run out to the hardware store to pick up a replacement, which was cheap enough that even a boy with no job could buy.

    Lessons: If you’re going to take the time to secure your facility, make sure you don’t go cheap in the wrong places. And any system is only as strong as the weakest component.

    These days fake cameras aren’t much less than the real deal, and you get the bonus of actually having a real security camera. There are plenty of phone apps that let you monitor and record too. Useful for watching more than the perimeter, you can set up a scene with a thermometer (to monitor the HVAC), light (know that the power is on), etc and do a lot of inexpensive home monitoring when you’re away.

  3. August 13, 2013 at 2:56 pm

    All good points. Additionally, if you have an attached garage, install a strong, solid door, with a quality lock between the garage area and the access to the inside of your house. And make damn sure to keep that door “locked….” both when you’re gone, and when you’re home too!

    • joeallen
      August 15, 2013 at 11:24 am

      My garage has 4 doors, but NO windows.

  4. James
    August 13, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    I’ve received several admiring comments from friends regarding my use of warning stickers. They are affixed to a few selected doors and windows. Manufactured of all-weather vinyl and purchased at gun shows, these stickers relay the message in a succinct and unambiguous manner; e.g., “There is nothing here worth your life” and so on. One of my favorites has bi-lingual text. Yes, we’re full service here at Casa de James.

  5. ЯΞ√ΩLUT↑☼N
    August 13, 2013 at 10:23 pm

    Good article Eric. I already have a hidden switch under my car seat, but I’ll also be looking for a removable steering wheel or an electric fence charger with insulated metal strips under the door handles. Hmm.. I wonder if that could even be incorporated into the seat?

  6. Brandonjin
    August 14, 2013 at 12:02 am

    I didn’t even think about securing the garage. I’ll keep that in mind.

    Can you tint house windows, like car windows? I think my garage door has plastic windows though.

    • August 14, 2013 at 9:20 am

      On tinting: If they’re single pane, you could remove the glass and replace with a dark-tinted piece. I doubt it’s feasible to tint double (or triple) pane insulated glass.

      If the door(s) are old, the fact that they have windows is a pretty good reason to replace them.

      • scott
        August 14, 2013 at 3:12 pm

        Window tinting film (intended to reduce the solar gain in the room) is available from hardware stores. It is only as neat as you are when you are installing it, but it certainly works — both in cooling down a south side room with insufficient cooling, and in making it less easy to see into the room.

    • Brandonjin
      August 15, 2013 at 1:19 am

      Thank you both. I’ll keep all of this in mind when I get my own home. For now, I’m sure my dad doesn’t want to spend money replacing the garage door, but I’ll research tinting more to see if it’d be a worthwhile project.

    • garysco
      August 15, 2013 at 6:45 am

      FYI I have heard this window film is amazing at keeping crooks out.
      http://www.3m.com/product/information/Scotchshield-Ultra-Safety-Security-Window-Film.html

  7. Dave
    August 14, 2013 at 5:32 am

    A very easy way for thieves to break into your garage (equipped with an electric door opener) is with a rod with a wire on it that can hook onto the manual release (a rope with a handle on it). Shove the rod up through the gap between the top-middle of the door and the house’s frame, hook the release, and wallah, up pops the door. Thieves may work in pairs to do this more efficiently: one runs the rod, the other watches through a window to guide the former in hooking onto the manual release (another good reason to keep windows covered). One solution is to replace the door opener with one that requires that the release handle be pulled away from the door, not down or towards the door. A less expensive solution is to use a zip tie or two to secure the manual opening lever so it cannot be pulled down. The zip ties are easily broken from inside if the lever is legitimately needed, but not so easily broken from the outside.

  8. August 14, 2013 at 8:33 am

    No! No! No! What you need is a massive wall all around your house, preferably fronted with a dry ditch and backed by a mound of earth to carry a sturdy thorn hedge past the top of the wall. With that, you have no ground level entrances at all but use a drawbridge to reach a free-standing outside staircase, and you get your car in and out when you need to with davits like a ship’s lifeboat. You said you’ve got tools, right?

    Failing that, I also like the idea of a trap, made by walling off a small room or cupboard from the rest of the house, giving it an easily breached flyscreen window, planting a bush where it will conceal entry attempts but not the window itself, and finally replacing the room’s floor with a pit with narrowing, then widening sides. You should check the pit every so often to avoid getting done for manslaughter for having an attractive nuisance, unless of course you want to go the full Evil Overlord and put acid in it to dissolve intruders completely (hint 1: read the Evil Overlord checklist and its sequels first; hint 2: if you use the most powerful superacids like antimony fluoride with hydrofluoric acid that will dissolve almost anything, remember to line the pit with something it won’t).

    • Boothe
      August 15, 2013 at 3:56 am

      P.M. – I think the preferred method for dissolving miscreants is quick lime rather than acids. I understand that it leaves precious metals intact, so you can collect those gold teeth and any jewelry the miscreant was in possession of. It would help defray the cost of the quick lime. IIRC, polyethylene works for hydrofluoric acid. Glass does not.

      • August 15, 2013 at 7:15 am

        That’s a misunderstanding about lime. It actually preserves many tissues or slows their decomposition; the only gain is from absorbing any smells and discouraging scavengers, since there’s no benefit from dissolving some stuff while leaving other stuff.

        Also, polyethylene does indeed work for hydrofluoric acid, but I was actually suggesting something even stronger that doesn’t have a problem dissolving long chain hydrocarbons like that. The most cost-effective bet for that might be a nickel lining or similar that will build up a layer of fluoride that protects what’s beneath it, though polytetrafluoroethylene would work.

  9. August 14, 2013 at 9:55 am

    “I like to leave lots of .45 brass and 12 gauge shotgun shell casings sprinkled around entrance doors and windows. It sends a message: Crazy redneck – crazy armed redneck – lives here.”

    So, no “gun free zone” sign, Eric?

    https://www.google.com.tw/search?q=gun+free+zone+sign&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&gws_rd=cr

    LOL!

    That’s a bingo!

    • Fred
      August 15, 2013 at 1:39 am

      “crazy armed redneck lives here”

      You can send the same message by putting a few shells worth of 00 buck into an old refrigerator and placing it in your yard.

      • August 15, 2013 at 9:29 am

        Yeah – but that looks trashy!

        Brass is classy.

  10. Ted
    August 14, 2013 at 12:54 pm

    The problem with leaving shell casings laying around, or gun related warning stickers, is you just advertised that there are firearms inside waiting to be stolen.

    • August 14, 2013 at 3:02 pm

      Molon Labe…

  11. fred
    August 14, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    “and wallah”

    Had a good giggle at that :) I think perhaps you meant “voila” (“there you go” in French)?!

    • GW
      August 15, 2013 at 9:28 pm

      The only thing the French know how to say is….
      “I Surrender”.
      …bwahahahaha

  12. james
    August 14, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    While I like all this would do this and more for the whole home.I really like the idea of cameras/audio with battery backup/perhaps wirelessly set to another computer,large flood at doors from inside out/speaker with battery backup ect.Given home invaders and swat teams seem to be attacking the wrong homes/citizens/killing their dogs and sometimes people best to have everything caught on camera for any court proceedings down the road.I would though dump on net/send to friends before bringing in.Neighbors may hate this if alarms go off but with someone else watching criminals will leave and uniforms perhaps think twice about shooting.Good tools locked in job boxes in garage and attached to wall or floor,rolling toolbox needed at least have a anchor point to lock it to when not in use.You have close neighbors become at least a bit friendly with,a extra pair of eyes watching each others home could be the difference between getting cleaned out or not during a robbery,really sucks we have to even think in these terms!

  13. August 14, 2013 at 2:53 pm

    I liked the sign on my sister’s front door 30 years ago (would probably be illegal now there in Calif.). It said: The lady of the house is armed, and out of estrogen. Proceed at your own risk.

    The garage was her office, and the only door that opened was to the back lot.

    It’s been 45 years since I had any kind of a garage, but the suggestions here are good if you really must live in a city. :)

  14. garysco
    August 15, 2013 at 6:34 am

    LOL. You could get some used shells from your local military range and leave them lying around too.

  15. garysco
    August 15, 2013 at 6:39 am

    Neighborhood yard sign about the size of an alarm company monitoring warning: “One of my neighbors hates guns. You guess which one”.

  16. Tor Minotaur
    August 15, 2013 at 8:01 am

    The Warders strutted up and down, And kept their herd of brutes, Their uniforms were spick and span, And they wore their Sunday suits,

    But we knew the work they had been at By the quicklime on their boots. For where a grave had opened wide, There was no grave at all: Only a stretch of mud and sand By the hideous prison-wall,

    And a little heap of burning lime, That the man should have his pall. For he has a pall, this wretched man, Such as few men can claim: Deep down below a prison-yard, Naked for greater shame,

    He lies, with fetters on each foot, Wrapt in a sheet of flame! And all the while the burning lime Eats flesh and bone away, It eats the brittle bone by night, And the soft flesh by the day, It eats the flesh and bones by turns, But it eats the heart alway.

    He did not wear his scarlet coat, For blood and wine are red, And blood and wine were on his hands When they found him with the dead,

    The poor dead woman whom he loved, And murdered in her bed. He walked amongst the Trial Men In a suit of shabby grey; A cricket cap was on his head, And his step seemed light and gay;

    The poor dead woman whom he loved, And murdered in her bed. He walked amongst the Trial Men In a suit of shabby grey; A cricket cap was on his head, And his step seemed light and gay;

    But I never saw a man who looked So wistfully at the day. I never saw a man who looked With such a wistful eye Upon that little tent of blue Which prisoners call the sky, The man had killed the thing he loved And so he had to die.

    Yet each man kills the thing he loves By each let this be heard, Some do it with a bitter look, Some with a flattering word,

    The coward does it with a kiss, The brave man with a sword! Some kill their love when they are young, And some when they are old;

    Some strangle with the hands of Lust, Some with the hands of Gold: The kindest use a knife, because The dead so soon grow cold. Some love too little, some too long, Some sell, and others buy;

    Some do the deed with many tears, And some without a sigh: For each man kills the thing he loves, Yet each man does not die. He does not die a death of shame On a day of dark disgrace, Nor have a noose about his neck, Nor a cloth upon his face, Nor drop feet foremost through the floor Into an empty place

    He does not sit with silent men Who watch him night and day; Who watch him when he tries to weep, And when he tries to pray; Who watch him lest himself should rob The prison of its prey.

    He does not wake at dawn to see Dread figures throng his room, The shivering Chaplain robed in white, The Sheriff stern with gloom, And the Governor all in shiny black, With the yellow face of Doom.

    He does not rise in piteous haste To put on convict-clothes, While some coarse-mouthed Doctor gloats, and notes Each new and nerve-twitched pose, Fingering a watch whose little ticks Are like horrible hammer-blows.

    He does not know that sickening thirst That sands one’s throat, before The hangman with his gardener’s gloves Slips through the padded door, And binds one with three leathern thongs, That the throat may thirst no more.

    He did not wring his hands, as do Those witless men who dare To try to rear the changeling Hope In the cave of black Despair:

    He only looked upon the sun, And drank the morning air. He did not wring his hands nor weep, Nor did he peek or pine, But he drank the air as though it held Some healthful anodyne;

    With open mouth he drank the sun As though it had been wine! And I and all the souls in pain, Who tramped the other ring, Forgot if we ourselves had done A great or little thing, And watched with gaze of dull amaze The man who had to swing.

    And strange it was to see him pass With a step so light and gay, And strange it was to see him look So wistfully at the day, And strange it was to think that he Had such a debt to pay. For oak and elm have pleasant leaves That in the spring-time shoot: But grim to see is the gallows-tree, With its adder-bitten root,

    He is at peace—this wretched man— At peace, or will be soon: There is no thing to make him mad, Nor does Terror walk at noon, For the lampless Earth in which he lies Has neither Sun nor Moon.

    They hanged him as a beast is hanged: They did not even toll A reguiem that might have brought Rest to his startled soul, But hurriedly they took him out, And hid him in a hole.

    They stripped him of his canvas clothes, And gave him to the flies; They mocked the swollen purple throat And the stark and staring eyes:

    And with laughter loud they heaped the shroud In which their convict lies. The Chaplain would not kneel to pray By his dishonored grave: Nor mark it with that blessed Cross That Christ for sinners gave, Because the man was one of those Whom Christ came down to save.

    Yet all is well; he has but passed To Life’s appointed bourn: And alien tears will fill for him Pity’s long-broken urn, For his mourner will be outcast men, And outcasts always mourn.

    I know not whether Laws be right, Or whether Laws be wrong; All that we know who lie in jail Is that the wall is strong; And that each day is like a year, A year whose days are long.

    But this I know, that every Law That men have made for Man, Since first Man took his brother’s life, And the sad world began, But straws the wheat and saves the chaff With a most evil fan.

    This too I know—and wise it were If each could know the same— That every prison that men build Is built with bricks of shame, And bound with bars lest Christ should see How men their brothers maim.

    With bars they blur the gracious moon, And blind the goodly sun: And they do well to hide their Hell, For in it things are done That Son of God nor son of Man Ever should look upon!

    The vilest deeds like poison weeds Bloom well in prison-air: It is only what is good in Man That wastes and withers there: Pale Anguish keeps the heavy gate,
    And the Warder is Despair

    For they starve the little frightened child Till it weeps both night and day: And they scourge the weak, and flog the fool, And gibe the old and grey,

    And some grow mad, and all grow bad, And none a word may say. Each narrow cell in which we dwell Is foul and dark latrine, And the fetid breath of living Death Chokes up each grated screen,

    And all, but Lust, is turned to dust In Humanity’s machine. The brackish water that we drink Creeps with a loathsome slime, And the bitter bread they weigh in scales Is full of chalk and lime, And Sleep will not lie down, but walks Wild-eyed and cries to Time.

    But though lean Hunger and green Thirst Like asp with adder fight, We have little care of prison fare, For what chills and kills outright

    Is that every stone one lifts by day Becomes one’s heart by night. With midnight always in one’s heart, And twilight in one’s cell, We turn the crank, or tear the rope, Each in his separate Hell, And the silence is more awful far Than the sound of a brazen bell.

    And never a human voice comes near To speak a gentle word: And the eye that watches through the door Is pitiless and hard: And by all forgot, we rot and rot, With soul and body marred.

    And thus we rust Life’s iron chain Degraded and alone: And some men curse, and some men weep, And some men make no moan: But God’s eternal Laws are kind And break the heart of stone.

    • ozymandias
      August 15, 2013 at 2:55 pm

      life is like a box of chocolates….

      • Phillip the Bruce
        August 15, 2013 at 4:02 pm

        … If you’re fat, it probably won’t last as long.

    • Jean
      August 15, 2013 at 4:44 pm

      God’s eternal laws are NOT kind.
      God endorses the law of the jungle, when such is appropriate. In turn, once one is civilized, he turns to forgiveness and tolerance.

      But Jesus notes that the Law of Moses was for a hard-hearted people. HE came only to fulfill the Law, and not to bring peace; but would turn brother against borther, and father against son.

      Justice does things like that.

      I need to go chase some cars… ;-)

      • ozymandias
        August 15, 2013 at 5:00 pm

        it was (more like) zod’s laws that landed wilde in reading gaol….

        • Tor Minotaur
          August 15, 2013 at 5:56 pm

          The finished poem was published by Leonard Smithers in 1898 under the name C.3.3., which stood for cell block C, landing 3, cell 3. This ensured that Wilde’s name – by then notorious – did not appear on the poem’s front cover. It was not commonly known, until the 7th printing in June 1899, that C.3.3. was actually Wilde.

          Leonard Smithers
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonard_Smithers

          Decadent Movement
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decadent_movement

          The concept of decadence dates from the eighteenth century, especially from Montesquieu, and was adopted by critics as a term of abuse after Désiré Nisard used it against Victor Hugo (Ayn Rand’s favorite author), and Romanticism in general.

          Ayn Rand on the “Decadent” Victor Hugo

          You may read any number of more “realistic” accounts of the French Revolution, but Hugo’s is the one you will remember. He is not a reporter of the momentary, but an artist who projects the essential and fundamental. He is not a statistician of gutter trivia, but a Romanticist who presents life “as it might be and ought to be.”

          He is the worshipper and the superlative portrayer of man’s greatness.

          If you are struggling to hold your vision of man above the gray ashes of our century, Hugo is the fuel you need.

          One cannot preserve that vision or achieve it without some knowledge of what is greatness and some image to concretize it.

          Every morning, when you read today’s headlines, you shrink a little in human stature and hope. Then, if you turn to modern literature for a nobler view of man, you are confronted by those cases of arrested development—the juvenile delinquents aged thirty to sixty—who still think that depravity is daring or shocking, and whose writing belongs, not on paper, but on fences.

          If you feel, as I do, that there’s nothing as boring as depravity, if you seek a glimpse of human grandeur—turn to a novel by Victor Hugo.

          THE POOR CHILDREN
          by: Victor Hugo (1802-1885)

          TAKE heed of this small child of earth;
          He is great; he hath in him God most high.
          Children before their fleshly birth
          Are lights alive in the blue sky.

          In our light bitter world of wrong
          They come; God gives us them awhile.
          His speech is in their stammering tongue,
          And his forgiveness in their smile.

          Their sweet light rests upon our eyes.
          Alas! their right to joy is plain.
          If they are hungry Paradise
          Weeps, and, if cold, Heaven thrills with pain.

          The want that saps their sinless flower
          Speaks judgment on sin’s ministers.
          Man holds an angel in his power.
          Ah! deep in Heaven what thunder stirs,

          When God seeks out these tender things
          Whom in the shadow where we sleep
          He sends us clothed about with wings,
          And finds them ragged babes that weep!

          - English translation by Algernon Charles Swinburne

          • ozymandias
            August 15, 2013 at 6:30 pm

            i was flashing on taleb’s “platonification” as i read your post. a grave error he says. i agree. then, down at the bottom of the decadent movement wiki page is a link for “Flâneur” – which is taleb’s self-characterization. ever read any of his stuff? fooled by randomness, the black swan, the bed of procrustes, antifragile…..

            shawshank redemption was good, but suffers in comparison to c.3.3.’s expression. king & wilde – different leagues. (or was much lost in the adaptation? i don’t remember.)

      • Tor Minotaur
        August 15, 2013 at 5:45 pm

        Saint Mammon always said – life is like a bloody box of covenants

        Modern Christian Influences:

        97% – Saul of Tarsus, Cilicia, Rome. A Jewish Pharisee, Roman Citizen, and Author of 52% of the books of the New Testatment.
        2% – Yeshua – aka Joshua – aka Jesus of Nazareth
        1% – 613 Laws of Moses
        0% – God the creator, God’s creation, Prophets, Ancient Hebrew morality

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saul_of_Tarsus
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yeshua_(name)
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/613_commandments

        • Jean
          August 15, 2013 at 8:26 pm

          Saul being a Roman was bad news…. ;-)
          Being a profligate author, I see him reflected in many of the priests I knew growing uop – most common attribute being an inability STFU (even – ESPECIALLY, actually – when necessary.)

          Of note, the concept of Law per se was attributed to Lucifer. Lawyers and cannons were his work, specifically.

  17. steve
    August 15, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    Good tips. But what is it about American and other societies where personal property has to be protected or there is a good chance it will be stolen and other societies where property theft is much less common. My son travelled to Japan recently and told me a story of how he forgot his iphone on a cafeteria table at a busy indoor mall in Tokyo. A half hour later when got back he was amazed that his i-phone was still on the table in plain view of hundreds of people. Could it be that in Japanese culture stealing from a stranger is considered no different than stealing from your friend or relative?

      • Tor Minotaur
        August 15, 2013 at 6:22 pm

        George C Scott recites the Ballad of Reading Gaol in
        The Brazen Bell Episode – 1962 – The Virginian
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0qFZABJxE0

        Ozymandias II – The Hidden King Who Yet Lives

        Les châtiments IV (1853).

        Nous nous promenions parmi les décombres À Rozel-Tower,
        Et nous écoutions les paroles sombres Que disait la mer.

        L’énorme océan, — car nous entendîmes Ses vagues chansons, —
        Disait : « Paraissez, vérités sublimes Et bleus horizons !

        Le monde captif, sans lois et sans règles, Est aux oppresseurs
        Volez dans les cieux, ailes des grands aigles, Esprits des penseurs !

        Naissez, levez-vous sur les flots sonores, Sur les flots vermeils,
        Faites dans la nuit poindre vos aurores, Peuples et soleils !

        Vous, — laissez passer la foudre et la brume, Les vents et les cris, Affrontez l’orage, affrontez l’écume, Rochers et proscrits !

        Google Translate Version:

        Song (The punishment, IV).

        We walked among the rubble At Rozel-Tower, And we listened to the dark lyrics What did the sea

        The huge ocean – because we heard Its waves songs – Said: Shew, sublime truths And blue horizons !

        Captive world without laws or rules, Is the oppressors Fly in the sky, wings of eagles, Spirits thinkers!

        Nazca, get up on the sound waves On ruddy waves in Make break your night lights, Peoples and suns!

        You – miss lightning and fog, winds and cries, Face the storm, face foam, Rocks and banned!

        The Ocean’s Song – English translation by Toru Dutt

        We walked amongst the ruins famed in story
        Of Rozel-Tower,
        And saw the boundless waters stretch in glory
        And heave in power.

        O Ocean vast! We heard thy song with wonder,
        Whilst waves marked time.
        Appear, O Truth! thou sang’st with tone of thunder,
        And shine sublime!

        The world’s enslaved and hunted down by beagles,
        To despots sold.
        Souls of deep thinkers, soar like mighty eagles!
        The Right uphold.

        Be born! arise! o’er the earth and wild waves bounding,
        Peoples and suns!
        Let darkness vanish; tocsins be resounding,
        And flash, ye guns!

        And you who love no pomps of fog or glamour,
        Who fear no shocks,
        Brave foam and lightning, hurricane and clamour,–
        Exiles: the rocks!

    • BrentP
      August 15, 2013 at 5:03 pm

      Look at the government here in the USA. Look at the major corporations. Look at the military. Now look at the behavior of the people.

      Now we just have a chicken and egg question. Which came first? The institutionalized theft that trickled into the population at large or people who stole from each other making for institutional theft?

      People refer to the good old days when they could leave their doors unlocked and such. Even in some big city neighborhoods. It seems what changes things is the spread of the institutionalized life. People spread to get away from the crime but what happens? These people spread the disease. They build the government institutions. They wreck where they fled to by making it into what they fled.

      • ozymandias
        August 15, 2013 at 5:42 pm

        from the israelites demanding “king me” (& getting crowned, good & hard), to milgram’s obedience experiments, & everything in between, the nearly all encompassing skit that approaches tragedy from the best angle is this one

        http://www.funnyordie.com/videos/80a71ef8cb/more-cowbell

        “if bruce dickinson wants more cowbell, we should probably give him more cowbell!”

        don’t fear the reaper is good advice, tho – no more cowbell.

  18. Tor Minotaur
    August 15, 2013 at 8:15 pm

    Now Approaching 20,000 Light Years Off Topic:
    I follow Taleb and his motley crue on that Mother-Zucker: Facebook

    Platonicity, defined by Taleb: the focus on those pure, well-defined, and easily discernible objects like triangles, or more social notions like friendship or love, at the cost of ignoring those objects of seemingly messier and less tractable structures.

    Platonidiots fuzzily accept the validity of ludicrous ideas like time travel.

    This is a non-sequitir if you understand that our reality is constructed of atoms.

    Once you open a can of beer and drink it, there is no undo. You won’t ever be able to get all those atoms back out of your digestive tract and back into the can and once more seal them under pressure. Going backward with periodic table elements is ruled out. To move forward in time, you would need to construct molecular assemblers and molecular replacers, high speed machinery that could construct an active role in an unfolding artificial reality.

    A mere molecule of water transcends this Earthly gravity well. And all convention and vanities of man. Water behaves like water everywhere. Our words and methods of knowledge transcription add nothing to its existence. It knows and shows how to be wet and freeze from the outside inward and how to boil and vaporize anywhere in the known galactic region.

    The Earth is the densest place in our solar system. We are relatively the least chimeral and locally the most real, but once you consider the galaxy, we are mere movie projections with abstract reasoning and categorical event reconstruction memory conventions.

    Light is a property of things not that dense. As you approach the milky way galactic center, there is no speed of light, and thus it is no constraint whatsoever to things that live in black hole density.

    If beings of twice our density once did swim among us and our gaseous liquid world(from their perspective) the men who were nearby them could only perceive that small portion of them that interacts in our density spectrum as light and sound. Attempting to touch them might have smote and deconstructed the ancient’s hands. Imagine putting your hand against a melting pool of water charged with all the energy of a millions suns.

    Such beings might even have looked like flaming dragons, or like winged flaming cherubim angels, there would have been no concrete perception of them, being they were meta-concretes, and so much more real that humans that we could even conceive of there true forms.

    Okay. That means that. Our whole solar system. Could be, like. One tiny atom in the fingernail of some other giant being. This is too much! That means. One tiny atom in my fingernail could be–
    -Could be one little tiny universe.
    –Could l buy some pot from you?

    Delta Tau Chi’s own this animal house, and scoff at double secret probation
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BttaAojve5g

    • ozymandias
      August 15, 2013 at 8:42 pm

      ah…the platonified database. not to mention cowbellcurve. no mans land. did you fall asleep there, wake up in lilliputian webs?

      very fortunately, “undo” is not necessary. redo works great, tastes great, but the good stuff is not less filling.

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