Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Sunday, March 25, 2018 5:07 pm

About face

Filed under: Uncategorized — Lex @ 5:07 pm
Tags: , ,

OK, I’m not getting off Facebook after all, at least not for now. A quick summary of why:

  • The horse is out of the barn. I haven’t indulged in those data-sucking quizzes, games and apps nearly as much a lot of users, but I’ve done it some. And even some was too much. (More on that in a bit.)
  • For some things, Facebook is far and away the most efficient tool. If it were just MY stuff I needed to worry about, that would be one thing. But from political involvement to organizing family events to commenting on any number of news sites, there often is no acceptable substitute.
  • Facebook has 2 billion users. It won’t miss me.
  • Related to that, Facebook friend Steve Harrison told me, “Your presence here actually improves Facebook. Maybe by only .00017%, but it helps.” And a number of others asked me to reconsider.

That’s not to say the problem with Facebook isn’t real. It’s real and it’s awful. Zuckerberg once promised in a televised interview not to share user data with third parties except pursuant to the fact that his business is basically an advertising agency. Well, we now know he did far more and far worse than that; just Google Facebook and Cambridge Analytica for details on that. The UK’s Information Commissioner is investigating CA on a number of related issues (indeed, Facebook’s own auditors, attempting to audit CA on whether it had deleted user data as claimed, were ordered by the British government to “stand down”).

In nearly 30 years of Internet usage, I’ve never advocated government regulation of the Internet, not even to protect user information privacy. But I’m damned well doing it now. Whether there’s any kind of forensic clawback that’s possible, I have no idea (I doubt it). But we can at least prevent more of this damage going forward, and perhaps limit the damage to a couple of generations of users, rather than all users for all time.



Friday, February 10, 2017 8:48 pm

Friday Random 10, Feb. 10, 2017

Filed under: Friday Random 10,Uncategorized — Lex @ 8:48 pm

Louisiana Rain – Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
Tampa to Tulsa (live) – Jayhawks
El Clavo y la Cruz – The Plugz
Champagne and Riffer – Rolling Stones & Buddy Guy
Betterman – Pearl Jam
Promises – Fugazi
Johnny B. Goode – Jimi Hendrix
1,000 Years – The Gaslight Anthem
Down South Jukin’ – Lynyrd Skynyrd
Gloria – Them

lagniappe: Ain’t No Fun (Waiting ‘Round to be a Millionaire) – AC/DC

Monday, November 7, 2016 8:52 pm

Oh, and about your “protest vote” …

For those of you who think you’re too good to choose between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump tomorrow: One and only one candidate on the ballot will work to both protect and improve Obamacare, on which both of my brothers depend because of chronic health problems. In other words, fuck your protest vote. Your hurt fee-fees do not outweigh my brothers’ lives. And if you have a problem with that, fuck you with a red-hot poker.

Monday, November 2, 2015 6:48 am

Happy birthday …

Filed under: Uncategorized — Lex @ 6:48 am

… to a great American and the guy who is effectively this blog’s co-host, Fred Gregory!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015 6:28 pm

Odds and ends for Aug. 26

When Hillary Clinton corralled journalists, journalists and pundits complained, and rightfully so. I trust they’ll do the same now that Donald Trump had reporter Jorge Ramos, whose audience is huge, physically removed from an event. Right?

Speaking of Trump, the N.C. GOP wants to ban him (and anyone else) from the state’s 2016 presidential primary unless they pledge to support whoever the party’s nominee turns out to be and promise not to run a third-party candidacy. This Republican wouldn’t vote for Trump at gunpoint but thinks that if you support him and he has filed, you deserve to get the chance to vote for him.

So, while it may have been incredibly stupid for Hillary Clinton to handle State Department info on a personal email account, it was against neither law nor policy at the time it happened. The same is true when her predecessor, Colin Powell, did the same thing, FWIW.

California schools are requiring kids to get vaccinated, so, naturally, parents are lining up to home-school their kids rather than vaccinate them. We need a vaccination against stupidity, is what we need.

Our legislature, which can’t be bothered to do its own damn job, has decided that it needs to kick the unemployed, even though North Carolina’s unemployed already get the nation’s lowest benefits. They should be reminded that this state is chock-full of pine trees and chickens, the raw material for tar and feathers.

Campaigns of and SuperPACs supporting four GOP governors running for president have received $2.5 million from “companies with state contracts or subsidies,” per the Wall Street Journal. But, go ahead, Justice Anthony Kennedy, tell me again how money in politics creates neither the reality nor the appearance of corruption.

So Raleigh anti-abortion activists are now harassing clinic escorts and trying to get them fired. Becauses that’s what Jesus would do.

And in a setback for veganism, the FDA rules that if you’re going to call something “mayonnaise,” it has to have eggs in it.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015 9:00 pm

Odds and ends for April 8

Filed under: Uncategorized — Lex @ 9:00 pm

Oops! Thought I posted this but didn’t. Sorry!

A South Carolina police officer faces murder charges after he was caught on video firing eight shots at the back of a fleeing suspect. Incredible. And, yet, not so much, sadly.

When you strip away their lofty rhetoric, most elected Republicans really only want to do two things: steal your money and kick people when they’re down.

More people who aren’t doing Christianity right: A bill in Tennessee would allow counseling students (and students in social work or psychology) to discriminate against gays, non-Christians, or anyone else on the basis of the student’s religious belief.

That hoovering of phone calls that the DEA was doing years before 9/11? Human Rights Watch and the Electronic Frontier Foundation are suing to stop it. Good.

How former pro football star Darren Sharper’s multi-state rape spree was enabled by police hesitation to act.

We’re now manufacturing tools and other objects in space, with 3-D printing. We live in an age of wonders. Seriously.

Speaking of wonders, credit where due — here’s one thing the Republicans in the N.C. legislature are doing right: pushing to expand solar energy.

On the flip side, they’re going farther into science denialism and sticking government farther into our uteri.

North Carolina’s failure to educate its K-12 students soon may become a legal problem.

Some good news for a change: Netflix is picking up another 17 episodes of “Arrested Development.” It and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” are the two funniest things on TV right now.

And the brontosaurus is back. Pluto remains a “minor planet,” however.


Thursday, November 27, 2014 9:39 am

Today I am thankful for …

Filed under: Uncategorized — Lex @ 9:39 am

… health, family, friends, prosperity, and a country so great that not even 35 years’ worth of the best efforts of waterheads, mouthbreathers, knuckle-draggers, and straight-up sociopaths has managed to totally screw it up. Yet.

Be well and be safe.

Saturday, August 23, 2014 6:51 pm

“I’m convinced to my core: The lack of such a database [of police killings] is intentional.”

The question has been raised a lot in recent years: How many people die each year at the hands of the police?

There’s no good way to find out, so D. Brian Burghart of the Reno (Nev.) News & Review set out to try to find out after driving past the scene of an officer-involved shooting about two years ago. He has enlisted the Internet to help him find out.

This, by damn, is why we have, and need, an Internet.

He’s compiling what he and others find, after rigorous fact-checking, at Here’s how he got involved in it:

It began simply enough. Commuting home from my work at Reno’s alt-weekly newspaper, the News & Review, on May 18, 2012, I drove past the aftermath of a police shooting—in this case, that of a man named Jace Herndon. It was a chaotic scene, and I couldn’t help but wonder how often it happened.

I went home and grabbed my laptop and a glass of wine and tried to find out. I found nothing—a failure I simply chalked up to incompetent local media.

A few months later I read about the Dec. 6, 2012, killing of a naked and unarmed 18-year-old college student, Gil Collar, by University of South Alabama police. The killing had attracted national coverage—The New York Times, the Associated Press, CNN—but there was still no context being provided—no figures examining how many people are killed by police.

I started to search in earnest. Nowhere could I find out how many people died during interactions with police in the United States. Try as I might, I just couldn’t wrap my head around that idea. How was it that, in the 21st century, this data wasn’t being tracked, compiled, and made available to the public? How could journalists know if police were killing too many people in their town if they didn’t have a way to compare to other cities? Hell, how could citizens or police? How could cops possibly know “best practices” for dealing with any fluid situation? They couldn’t.

The bottom line was that I found the absence of such a library of police killings offensive. And so I decided to build it. I’m still building it. But I could use some help. You can find my growing database of deadly police violence here, at Fatal Encounters, and I invite you to go here, research one of the listed shootings, fill out the row, and change its background color. It’ll take you about 25 minutes. There are thousands to choose from, and another 2,000 or so on my cloud drive that I haven’t even added yet. After I fact-check and fill in the cracks, your contribution will be added to largest database about police violence in the country. Feel free to check out what has been collected about your locale’s information here.

This is some righteous crowdsourcing, let me tell you.

And what has he learned from all this? Two things, both of them sad and infuriating.

The biggest thing I’ve taken away from this project is something I’ll never be able to prove, but I’m convinced to my core: The lack of such a database is intentional. No government—not the federal government, and not the thousands of municipalities that give their police forces license to use deadly force—wants you to know how many people it kills and why.

It’s the only conclusion that can be drawn from the evidence. What evidence? In attempting to collect this information, I was lied to and delayed by the FBI, even when I was only trying to find out the addresses of police departments to make public records requests. The government collects millions of bits of data annually about law enforcement in its Uniform Crime Report, but it doesn’t collect information about the most consequential act a law enforcer can do.

I’ve been lied to and delayed by state, county and local law enforcement agencies—almost every time. They’ve blatantly broken public records laws, and then thumbed their authoritarian noses at the temerity of a citizen asking for information that might embarrass the agency. And these are the people in charge of enforcing the law.

The second biggest thing I learned is that bad journalism colludes with police to hide this information. The primary reason for this is that police will cut off information to reporters who tell tales. And a reporter can’t work if he or she can’t talk to sources. It happened to me on almost every level as I advanced this year-long Fatal Encounters series through the News & Review. First they talk; then they stop, then they roadblock.

He elaborates on how journalism is failing to deal with this problem. I don’t think it’s quite as intentional as he does, but I do think the consciousness of a lot of reporters and editors needs to be raised on this issue. That means being intentional and serious about collecting data, to the point of lawsuits in jurisdictions in which the law is on journalists’ side.

And it also means taking up for what Jesus called “the least of these,” because — surprise! — that’s who most often winds up dead at the hands of law enforcement:

Journalists also don’t generally report the race of the person killed. Why? It’s unethical to report it unless it’s germane to the story. But race is always germane when police kill somebody.

This is the most most heinous thing I’ve learned in my two years compiling Fatal Encounters. You know who dies in the most population-dense areas? Black men. You know who dies in the least population dense areas? Mentally ill men. It’s not to say there aren’t dangerous and desperate criminals killed across the line. But African-Americans and the mentally ill people make up a huge percentage of people killed by police.

And if you want to get down to nut-cuttin’ time, across the board, it’s poor people who are killed by police. (And by the way, around 96 percent of people killed by police are men.)

I’d like to think that my local daily will get better at this, but I know better. So I’m going to see if I can help this project out. Wherever you are, I hope you will, too. We empower police officers with the right to use deadly force if necessary to protect themselves or innocent others. We deserve in return a full and complete accounting of how that right is used, or misused. There is no excuse for law enforcement to provide less, and there is no excuse for those departments’ communities, including but not limited to news outlets, to expect less.

(h/t: John Robinson)

Monday, August 18, 2014 7:35 pm

Police with tanks and armored personnel carriers and machine guns: de rigeur?

[Things] started out calm enough with barricades on either side of the street and police patrolling down the main drag, but it was only a matter of time (approximately 15 minutes) … before someone shouted,”[Expletive] it, let’s do this!” and the barricades came down as a mob flooded the street.

Even once the crowds flooded the streets the celebrations were still friendly: High-fives were plentiful, beers were passed around, cigars were smoked …

But as the night dragged on, things started to get messy as bottles were shattered haphazardly on the street, empty beer cans were tossed in the air and hoards of people hoisted the barricades in the air for their friends to ride down the street in their own mini-parade.

Ferguson, Mo.? No, Chicago’s Wrigleyville neighborhood after the Black Hawks won the Stanley Cup. So, if anything, far bigger and more drunken crowds than in Ferguson, and yet cops managed to handle things using nothing more intimidating than horses and their own presence.

Now, why do you suppose the cops rolled out the artillery in Ferguson but not in Wrigleyville, where the potential for widespread mayhem was much worse? Call my me cynical, but I’m thinking the answer is as simple as black and white.

(h/t: Athenae, who concludes, “Shockingly, there was no tear gas, or bellyaching in the conservative press about a culture of violence that leads these people to act like animals.”)

Friday, October 25, 2013 10:01 pm

“We’re in the post-antibiotic era.”

Filed under: Uncategorized — Lex @ 10:01 pm

Well, YOU can just rock me to sleep tonight:

There are patients for whom we have no therapy, and we are literally in a position of having a patient in a bed who has an infection, something that five years ago even we could have treated, but now we can’t.

Nice work, factory farmers.

The PBS show “Frontline” did an episode on this; you can see it here.


Tuesday, July 23, 2013 6:29 pm

I guess lynching postcards are back in vogue after 75 years or so

Filed under: Uncategorized — Lex @ 6:29 pm

SEK at Lawyers, Guns & Money:

[Cartoonist] Michael Ramirez’s “Lynched” serves a single purpose: to allow the overwhelmingly white readership of NRO to believe that the imagined lynching of an abstract value is morally equivalent to the actual lynching ofactual human beings. Because it’s been a long time since white people could really enjoy an image of a lynching.* Some of them probably thought the day would never come again.

But thanks to Michael Ramirez, white readers of NRO can stare with childish wonder at the shapes of men dangling from a limb and feel glee instead of having to fake guilt.


*No, seriously, these things were bought, sold and traded, practically within my lifetime.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013 6:11 pm

One reason our students isn’t learning

Filed under: Uncategorized — Lex @ 6:11 pm

MOOCs are being hailed in some quarters as the salvation of higher education because they, at least theoretically, will enable large numbers of people to take courses at once and lower the high cost of obtaining a college degree. Now, being in an online program with only 20 people in it, I can tell you that online systems aren’t perfect. I can only imagine every problem that might arise with online courses with hundreds, or even thousands, of students, but here’s one we don’t have to imagine:

Michigan professor Gautam Kaul is teaching the Introduction to Finance MOOC on Coursera [an online-learning system, provided by a company of the same name that assists some colleges and universities in setting up online learning — Lex]. In a July 2 email to students, Kaul said students wanted to know correct answers to assignments but he would not oblige their requests. This means some Coursera users who get a question wrong could be left in the dark.

He called the students’ request for correct answers “reasonable” but “very difficult to accommodate.”

“If this were a one-time class, we would have considered posting answers,” Kaul wrote in an e-mail that was provided to Inside Higher Ed by a critic of MOOCs. “It will however be very difficult for us to offer this class again if we have to keep preparing new sets of questions with multiple versions to allow you to attempt each one more than once. Handing out answers will force us to do that.”

You see the problem here for the student: If you don’t know what the right answer is, you might not be able to figure out why you got the question wrong. You might not be able to, in other words, you know, learn.

See, that whole “preparing new sets of questions with multiple versions” thing is what college professors get paid to do, in part.  That’s because it enables a professor to tell students where they went wrong, what the right answers are, and, most importantly, ensure that the students grasp the underlying concepts.

Part of the reason that higher-ed costs are rising faster than inflation is that productivity gains made possible by technology in many other fields aren’t always achievable in higher ed. A professor can only teach so many students, can only grade so many essays, at a time. Sure, you could make all the tests and exams multiple choice and grade them with a machine like the SAT, but when you do that, the nuance and many underlying concepts  — not to mention a lot of the interrelatedness of the various subjects students study in college — go right out the window, and the value of a college degree goes right along with them.

MOOCs may well be the best tool, or the best tool available, for some forms of education. But to surrender higher education to them, as some private interests want us to do, would be the educational equipment of scrapping our military at a time when many of our allies and adversaries are expanding their own. It would be unilateral surrender of world leadership. I don’t know about you, but I like being on top and would like to stay there.

Monday, July 8, 2013 7:00 pm

Stop the presses: GOP makes crap up to get bad law enacted

Filed under: Uncategorized — Lex @ 7:00 pm

Remember those 900 dead people who, according to preliminary Department of Motor Vehicles reports, voted in  South Carolina in the late 2000s and early 2010s? Well, the State Law Enforcement Division (S.C.’s equivalent of our SBI) took a look at the more than 200 cases associated with the 2012 election, and guess how many actual fraudulent votes they found.

Zip. Zilch. Nada.

You can argue all you like that there really might have been fraudulent votes in the earlier elections. But let’s face it, your best chance of getting away with it would be in a presidential election when turnout is at its peak. And absolutely no fraudulent votes were found in the presidential election, so the odds that there were significant numbers between, say, 2009 and the 2012 primary are just incredibly low.

However, keep in mind that it was the reports of more than 900 dead people voting that enabled S.C. Republicans to enact a voter I.D. law. So now that the justification for such a law is shown to be bullshit, do we get the bad law repealed? I’m not betting the rent.

Vacation, all I ever wanted …

Filed under: Uncategorized — Lex @ 6:30 pm

Alone among Western industrialized democracies, the U.S. does not guarantee its workers paid vacations. Indeed, most of our peers guarantee 4 weeks off with pay per year. Economist Dean Baker not only thinks we can afford to match our peers, he also has a plausible explanation for why this is exactly the right time to do so:

If we remember the economy’s basic problem right now is a lack of demand, then this would be an excellent time to consider such policies. This is exactly the time when reduced hours actually are likely to translate fairly directly into more employment. It is when the economy is fully employed that reduced hours are likely to create issues with inflation.

And the idea of raising employer costs should hardly be a major matter of concern when profit margins are at record levels. We absolutely want to raise employer costs — shifting income from corporate profits to wage earners. We can debate how much impact paid leave would have in increasing workers’ compensation, but insofar as it does, that’s a positive and not a negative.

The comparison of unemployment rates with Europe is silly. The United States actually did not have a lower unemployment rate going into the downturn. And it certainly does not have a lower unemployment rate now than several of the slackard countries like Germany and Austria, which have unemployment rates of 5.3 percent 4.7 percent, respectively.

Anyone arguing that this change would interfere with our job creation need only look at Germany and Austria, as Baker points out. So maybe the ugly little secret here is that U.S. corporate leaders are just piss-poor managers. It’s only a hypothesis, but it would explain a lot.


Sunday, March 10, 2013 10:40 am

Happy birthday …

Filed under: Uncategorized — Lex @ 10:40 am

… to my little sister and a great American, Jane Alexander!

Friday, November 23, 2012 11:44 am

Your homework assignment: I haz it

Filed under: Uncategorized — Lex @ 11:44 am

I realize that November, National Novel Writing Month, is almost over. Makes me no never-mind; I am not much of a fiction writer and never have been. I have been blessed to know a few, some of whom even have ventured gracefully into the literary precincts of “science fiction” (or “fantasy” or “speculative fiction” and related terms/categories) and emerged not just unharmed but enhanced, embraced and emboldened. (Yeah, Andy Duncan, I’m talkin’ ’bout you.)

But here’s the thing, and by “thing” I mean “really cool premise, which is actually happening, for a short story or novel”:

The universe is apparently well past its prime in terms of making stars, and what new ones are being made now across the cosmos will never amount to more than a few percent on top of the numbers already come and gone.

This is the rather disquieting conclusion of a new and significant study of the rate at which stars have been produced through cosmic time.

[Astrophysicist David] Sobral and colleagues recently published the results of a series of ‘snapshots’ made of galaxies busily making stars at different epochs, from about 4 billion years ago (around the time of Earth’s formation) all the way back to nearly 11 billion years ago. This is no simple task, some of the world’s largest and most sensitive telescopes had to be employed.

By observing light at very specific frequencies (corresponding to emission from warm hydrogen atoms – see the note below) they are able to gauge the actual rate at which new stars are condensing out of thick nebular material in a few thousand galactic systems. This yields some very robust statistics on the global changes in the numbers of new stars being made as the universe ages.

The main conclusions come in two parts. First, 95% of all the stars we see around us today were formed during the past 11 billion years, and about half of these were formed between roughly 11 and 8 billion years ago in a flurry of activity. But the real shocker is that the rate at which new stars are being produced in galaxies today is barely 3% of the rate back 11 billion years ago, and declining. This indicates that unless our universe finds a second wind (which is unlikely) it will only ever manage to produce about 5% more stars than exist at this very moment.

This is, quite literally, the beginning of the end.

Let’s suppose we set this work on a planet supporting intelligent life, orbiting the last known star in the universe, albeit one not believed to be going away anytime soon. Let us further suppose that interstellar travel, though by no means simple or routine, is  common enough (within certain time/space limits) that this planet has become the repository of all knowledge and creativity that has survived the death of all other stars (and their planets) in its accessible portion of the universe, if not the whole universe.

What would the personal and global conversations be about? What would the personal priorities be, and those of the body politic? Would these beings succumb to fin-du-monde anarchy, or would they conclude that when the fall is all that’s left, the fall matters? (Maybe they harbor the hope,  however remote, that they will be discovered by a previously unknown form of intelligent life that, even if it chose to make hors d’oeuvres of them, might also be interested in their work?

What lives, what dies, and what matters most in the interstices between them? And how do you render the pondering of these questions, if not the ultimate answers, in language that a reasonably sentient carbon-based life form can understand?

That’s your assignment. I’m feeling generous, so you’ve got until March 31.



Monday, October 29, 2012 7:34 pm

Context. Perspective. They are good things. That John McCain does not have.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Lex @ 7:34 pm

Thanks to Charlie Pierce for watching John McCain on one of the Sunday gasbag shows yesterday so that I didn’t have to. Here’s what Senator You-Kids-Get-Off-My-Lawn said about the recent Benghazi tragedy:

This tragedy turned into a debacle and massive cover-up or massive incompetence in Libya is having an effect on the voter because of their view of the commander in chief. And it is now the worst cover-up or incompetence that I have ever observed in my life.

Really? Because, keep in mind, kids, that not only was McCain old enough to be sentient during the Vietnam War — speaking of incompetence and cover-up — he spent seven years in an enemy POW camp because of it, as he never ceased to remind us during his 2008 campaign. He was around during Watergate (though not yet inflicted upon the body politic in any meaningful way). And, as Pierce observes:

John McCain was in the Congress when Ronald Reagan sold missiles to the mullahs. John McCain voted for the Iraq war on the instructions of George W. Bush. Perhaps John McCain failed to observe that either cover-up or that incompetence. Perhaps John McCain should get his ass over 2008 and leave the rest of us alone.

As for how horrible this whole Benghazi thing is, you know what? It was horrible. Four Americans died. But when Condoleezza Rice, of all people, tells Republicans they’re making too much of what the Obama administration should or shouldn’t or might or might not have done, maybe they’re, oh, I don’t know,  making too much of it.

Also, on Sept. 20, 1984, two dozen Americans died in a terrorist attack in Lebanon. What did then-President Ronald Reagan do the next day? Made three campaign stops, including one in Iowa where he was up 23 points at the time. Then-Sen. John McCain got in a lot of trouble for his public criticism of the president at the time. Oh. Wait.

Ghost in the drone?; or, Skynet harbinger

Filed under: Uncategorized — Lex @ 6:50 pm

I realize we’re all a little busy right now what with an apocalyptic storm battering the mid-Atlantic, but apparently we have other existential crises, too:

Air Force mechanics have reported mysterious incidents in which the airborne robots went haywire. In March 2011, a Predator parked at the camp started its engine without any human direction, even though the ignition had been turned off and the fuel lines closed. Technicians concluded that a software bug had infected the “brains” of the drone, but never pinpointed the problem. “After that whole starting-itself incident, we were fairly wary of the aircraft and watched it pretty closely,” an unnamed Air Force squadron commander testified to an investigative board, according to a transcript. “Right now, I still think the software is not good.”

I have seen this movie. Absent the intervention of a reformed Schwarzeneggerbot, it will not end well.

Sunday, July 1, 2012 5:03 pm

Moving sucks, especially in this heat …

Filed under: Uncategorized — Lex @ 5:03 pm

… but at least Tracy is helping us organize the clutter:

Tuesday, June 19, 2012 8:09 pm

Because we haven’t had any funny cat pictures on Blog on the Run in a while …

Filed under: Uncategorized — Lex @ 8:09 pm

… here’s one:


Wednesday, June 6, 2012 8:24 pm

Quote of the day, 9/11 memorial edition

Filed under: Uncategorized — Lex @ 8:24 pm

Nancy Nall: “We won’t know what we need to say about 9/11 for another generation at least. But this is Manhattan real estate we’re talking about here, and you don’t leave that vacant for long.”

Monday, May 28, 2012 10:38 pm

Memorial Day

Filed under: Uncategorized — Lex @ 10:38 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Greetings. Not dead. Not even sick anymore. Life just happens. (If you follow me on Facebook, you have some inkling of this.)

But it is Memorial Day, which I take seriously. And because I take it seriously, and because I take seriously the appalling waste of the lives of our service members in Afghanistan and Iraq, the vet suicide rate (currently 18 per day, and more now in total than died in combat in OEF/OIF), the pure evil behind cutting VA funding, and the subject of war in general, I’ll refer you to this, which I wrote almost seven years ago and which remains, I believe, relevant.

Friday, April 13, 2012 8:52 pm

We knew the Catholic bishops have no morals. Now we also know they have no shame.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Lex @ 8:52 pm

Tossing away two millennia of moral authority is a tough act, but with its multi-decade spree of child-raping and the associated blackmail, extortion and obstruction of justice it has committed, the RICO Act Roman Catholic Church has scored a perfect 10, right down to sticking the landing (of a cardinal, Bernard Law, formerly of Boston, in Vatican City where he can’t be extradited).

That’s bad enough. Now, deigning to insult our intelligence after warping children’s souls, American bishops are couching their efforts to deny insurance coverage to their non-Catholic employees in terms of religious liberty — and likening their effortst to those of Martin Luther King Jr. in the Birmingham jail. Not only that, they also hold up as an example of religious liberty the Second Vatican Council — the same Second Vatican Council they’ve been working for almost half a century to undo.  No, I am absolutely not making this up.

I think irony’s liver just escaped out of irony’s anus and ran off screaming into the night.

The document goes on to confuse “religious liberty” with the concept of getting government money to provide certain services but expecting government not to attach strings to the money. Uh, wrong, guys.

They even take James Madison’s name in vain — Madison, who was opposed even to the idea of a congressional chaplain — to argue that any interference with their desire to mess around with other people’s liberties is, itself, an abridgement of their own liberty. There’s a word for that, boys: theocracy. And we voted with our feet and our rifles on that more than two centuries ago.

Now, why don’t you shut up about denying other people health care and run along and turn state’s evidence to put your kiddie-diddling brethren in prison

Thursday, March 29, 2012 12:25 am

Is it too late for John Cole to file an amicus brief with the Supremes?


Because he has a good point:

I just discovered what it [“the broccoli mandate”] is, and it distresses me to no end that our wingnuts are actively trying to make us dumber. Of course no one is going to be mandated to buy broccoli, you wankers. But you know what I am mandated to buy because of the actions of a bunch of midwestern conservative pols? Corn. There is a live, actual corn mandate. Every time I go to the gas station to buy gas, I am forced, against my will, to buy corn products.

So you know where you jackasses can stick that broccoli…

I also don’t see the Supremes objecting to the fact that I have to pay for wars I don’t support.

Oh, and while we’re on the subject, Antonin Scalia stumbled onto something very interesting with his point about legislative inertia. And, by interesting, I mean, “damning.”

Scalia, remember, is a guy with a long track record of claiming that congressional gridlock is a feature, not a bug. Now, however, in today’s “severability” argument — that is, what, if anything, else should the Supremes do if they find the Affordable Care Act’s requirement to buy health insurance unconstitutional: toss out that part only and leave the rest to Congress, or toss the whole thing and order Congress to start fresh?

A couple of points:

First, I was listening to this on the car radio, but it sounded to me as if Scalia was arguing that the court should toss the whole enchilada because Congress, which he believes should, can’t. If that’s in fact what he meant, it’s an interesting 180-degree switch from his view up until now that it ought to be hard to get Congress to do things.

Second, it’s interesting in that he appears to be arguing that the Congress isn’t just inertial, it’s dysfunctional. Given that the reasons for that are well-known and objectively attributable in the main to one and only one party, Scalia’s party, it’s kind of damning in terms of how it characterizes congressional Republicans.

Third, he appears to be making the case, then, that separation of powers means nothing if that separation leads to an outcome he doesn’t want (or, technically, fails to lead to an outcome he desires). This is the apotheosis of judicial activism, which, of course, we have been roundly assured that conservatives such as Scalia oppose. Relatedly, given the fact that the GOP has no alternative — not even an unworkable one; they literally have nothing — to the Affordable Care Act, I eagerly await Scalia’s leaping in to craft health-care law from the bench once the ACA is struck down, 30-million-plus currently insured Americans get kicked back off the rolls and all hell breaks loose. Ahem.

An awful lot of really smart legal scholars, even some who worked in the Bush 43 administration, predicted that the court would uphold the Affordable Care Act, individual mandate and all, and now many of them are horrified to find out that this case might not be decided on the facts and the law after all. In point of fact, the scales fell from my eyes more than a decade ago, with Bush v. Gore. I figured that any court that could issue that ruling might well find public sodomizing of kittens constitutional as long as a GOP solicitor general argued for it, and Scalia’s questions and tone in this week’s oral arguments on the health-care law seem to bear that out.

Well, OK, that’s not exactly what I said seven months ago, but it’s close:

So this puppy is headed to the Supreme Court, where a ruling against the mandate would be both the overturning of 70 years of case law and not all that surprising, given the predilection the Roberts Court has shown for legislating from the bench. … But were I forced at gunpoint to make [a] prediction, I’d call for no worse than a 5-4 majority to uphold. The bottom line is that Justice Kennedy hasn’t gone crazy. Yet.

Kennedy’s sanity isn’t as much of a lock now as it was in August.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011 6:37 am

It’s Election Day here in the ‘Boro …

Filed under: Uncategorized — Lex @ 6:37 am
Tags: ,

… so vote. It annoys the bastards.

Polls in N.C. are open ’til 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, July 21, 2011 8:29 pm

Best Godwin violation ever

Filed under: Uncategorized — Lex @ 8:29 pm

Tom Levenson at Balloon Juice. It’s a bit lengthy, but nuance is like that. It’s worth your time.


Thursday, January 20, 2011 8:25 pm

WTH, Google Chrome?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Lex @ 8:25 pm

Once again I come in search of wisdom from the Interwebz.

I installed Google Chrome on both my home and work machines some months ago — in addition to Firefox and IE, for work-related reasons I won’t go into here.

For a long time it worked fine. Then, in about the last week, weird stuff started happening. On both machines.

When I opened Chrome and went to the Gmail home page, the type that appears on the left looked fine, but the shaded area with the username and password slots contained two little, tiny slots along with text too tiny to read. If I bumped up the on-screen font size, the type on the left grew as you would expect, but the stuff in the shaded area remained tiny. And when I logged into Gmail, the type around the inbox list appeared normal size (and grew/shrank as usual when I used CTRL + or CTRL -), but the headers in the inbox appeared in indecipherably small type.

I checked the Chrome help pages and FAQs but didn’t find anything that addressed this problem. One page suggested that I go into settings to make some changes, but when I clicked on the wrench, all the windows that popped up, as well as their subwindows were blank. Some (e.g., new tab) worked normally, but others did not.

I tried to install a newer version. The automatic install didn’t work; nothing happened. I manually downloaded the setup file and tried to run it. Nothing happened. I tried to run the uninstall; nothing happened. I finally got Chrome manually uninstalled on one machine, but then couldn’t get it to reinstall either automatically or by downloading and manually running the setup file.

And just to make this really annoying, I apparently am the only person this is happening to because nothing I’ve Googled appears to address this particular problem.

The work machine is XP Pro. The home machine is Media Center Edition, which is XP Pro with some extra multimedia capabilities built in. The problems appear to be identical on both machines.

Ideas, anyone?


Thursday, January 13, 2011 8:53 pm

The rule of law. I really miss it. (sniff)

Filed under: Uncategorized — Lex @ 8:53 pm

Here’s how bad our system is broken: Crimes are being committed right in front of judges, and judges aren’t calling them out.

Imagine: A judge went so far as to fine a firm for “swearing to false statements.” Why? Because it “reflects poorly on the profession as a whole.” One judge even called the filing of a lawyer “incredible, outrageous, ludicrous and disingenuous.”

Like the awful economists, the judges are circling the wagons around the profession — they are concerned that (horror!) the reputation of the legal profession might be damaged.

“When the consequence of a lawyer plying his trade is the loss of someone’s home, and it turns out there are documents being given to the courts that have no basis in reality, the profession gets a very big black eye,” said Stephen Gillers, an expert in legal ethics at New York University.

With all due respect professor, that is the least of it.

No, your Honors, this is more than a PR issue: Making sworn statements that are false is perjury,  and needs to be prosecuted as such. Last I checked, there is not a different set of felony rules for lawyers than for everyone else.

Apparently, Civil Law Judges are missing the bigger concern — that rampant criminality is taking place.

Judges, its time to Man Up! You Jurists need to reach under your robes, and feel around the space where your testicles used to be, and find a criminal law book. Submitting sworn documents to to a court, filing robo-signed documents, fabricating signatures, phony notarizations, claiming documents were reviewed when they never were — all of this is PERJURY.

Prosecute it as such; stop whining about these lawyers, and refer the cases to the State Attorney General. Better yet, have the bailiffs take these Lawyers into custody.

Want to stop illegality? Make sure there is a real penalty that will deter the criminals –bankers, lawyers, et. al –  from engaging in their illegal actions.

This means prosecuting known violators of the law

I could not agree more. The death penalty doesn’t deter murder in part because murder is not a rational crime. But in the kind of crime we’re talking about, people — lawyers — are making a rational calculation that they can make more money faster by breaking the law than following it, in part because they know judges, who are also lawyers, are more concerned about “the dignity of the profession” than about actual, real, individual crimes materializing before their very eyes.

Clearly, the profession has lost the ability and/or inclination to police itself. Accordingly, I think it would be very instructive if some of these junior associates were clapped into handcuffs, frog-marched out of the courtroom and taken in a squad car to The Tombs, where the partners for whom they work would have to appear, in person, to bail them out. That certainly might make more of an impression than what’s going on now. I say it’s worth a shot. It’s the 21st century and long past time we stopped coddling criminals.

Saturday, January 8, 2011 12:20 pm

So Hitler was a Panthers fan …

Filed under: Uncategorized — Lex @ 12:20 pm

… who knew? (text NSFW).

Thursday, December 16, 2010 8:50 pm

Your new House speaker: Feces on toast

Filed under: Uncategorized — Lex @ 8:50 pm

Gail Collins of The New York Times, for the win:

Boehner is driven to great, noisy sobs when he contemplates the fact that as a youth, he mopped the floor at his father’s tavern.

Besides the crying gap between men and women, there’s also one between Republicans and Democrats. On the one hand, you have the folks who can’t afford tears because it makes them look weak, and on the other, the people who are presumed to be tough and hard-nosed, for whom crying is an attractive sign of complexity.

Boehner is opposed to extending unemployment benefits for the jobless, and he wants to kill off the law that guarantees health coverage to all Americans. So you know when he starts weeping when his wife says she’s “real proud” of him, it’s not a sign of softness.

In 2007, he cried while delivering a speech on the floor of the House, in support of funding for the war in Iraq. “After 3,000 of our fellow citizens died at the hands of these terrorists, when are we going to stand up and take them on?” he sobbed.

Then this year, he voted against providing money to take care of our fellow citizens who became ill while doing rescue and reclamation work at ground zero after the terrorist attack.


The English language overflows with words appropriate for such a loathesome human being, but because my daughter occasionally surfs by, I won’t use any here.

But here’s what I will do.

First, I will predict — something I rarely do — that within two years, historians will be having serious discussions about whether Boehner has been the worst House speaker  in history and will have arrived at consensus that he is at least among the bottom 10.

And I will promise you this: I am going to make an example of him. Unless this guy starts showing numerous and prompt signs of being anything more than a waste of a carbon-based life form, I am going to ride him like an enormous hooved beast across the plains of Mongolia and I am going to flog him like a rented mule.

There have been WAY too many worthless meatsacks running things in this country in the past 30 years — greedy, stupid, un-self-aware, hypocritical, pompous, strutting field marshals in the War on the Constitution, the Rule of Law, Empathy, Science, Logic, Human Decency, and Basic Common Freaking Sense — and I have jolly damned well had it with every last one of them. Better people than I claim that no one is irredeemable; I used to believe them, but I no longer do and John Boehner is my Exhibit A. It’s on.

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