15 February 2019

Leftover Cheap Chocolate Assortment Link Sausages

Definitely overdue thanks to Life. Despite the tendency of the current media to do their jobs on druuuuuugs — especially, but not only, Reynard's descendants (and it's worthwhile to check that out, as "sly, amoral, cowardly, and self-seeking" is a pretty good description) — I try not to do that.

  • Speaking of druuuuugs, have you ever stopped to consider the dubious factual assumptions behind drug dogs and warrantless search doctrine? They're almost as credible as those behind Palsgraf. Almost.
  • <SARCASM> Last month's shutdown had at least one set of beneficiaries. Temporarily. But these new squatters on federal land are undocumented and probably illegal immigrants, so they have to go! Even their children, who are obviously just freeloaders and need to be separated from their parents for their own good (and ease of deportation). And I don't want to hear any nonsense about "refugees" from stupid things like climate change and ecological-niche collapse and habitat destruction — those aren't grounds for withholding deportation. </SARCASM>
  • Someone who should have won a Nobel Prize for Literature (or at least gotten more acclaim than the white male upper-middle-class maroons who have dominated American literary awards) received some overdue recognition from the NEH recently. Of course, the literary/critical theory underlying the article is fundamentally wrong; Le Guin's work was the epitome of an intelligent observer purposefully designing distorted mirrors not to create the new, but to comment on particular aspects of the present. But then, the literary/critical theory underlying the article is precisely what led to overweening praise for Carver and Cheever and so on (and that's just the Cs).
  • And then there's the fundamental contradiction between "We need more government money for dubious 'national security' measures" and "We need to give the very richest a biiiiiiig tax break." Rich (usually amoral) people and rich (totally amoral, almost by definition) companies. It leads to a nerdishly fascinating inquiry: Just WTF do they mean by "capitalism" anyway? Does that include the silent siphoners, who have the "right" to siphon off individual data because an individual's data only has economic value when it is merged with many other individuals' data? (Hint: No, that's mercantilism, not capitalism.) And speaking of mergers and silent siphoning, how 'bout them pricing algorithms? I'd ordinarily just say "do the math," but there are so many divide-by-zero and other boundary-condition violations there that doing the math won't get very far.

02 February 2019

Where Were You Then?

Here's another entry in my overflowing file of reasons that law-enforcement officials should not be directly elected, but instead should be qualified professionals appointed by (and subject to appropriate, limited, for-cause-related oversight by) elected officials. One of the local sheriffs in this supposedly ultraliberal state — consistent with the rest of his county government, so at least he's not being (locally) disloyal — has stated that he's instructing all of the law enforcement professionals under his authority not to enforce any part of the new voter-approved Initiative 1639. Just look at that smiling picture and ponder its dissonance from the subject matter!

Don't ponder its dissonance from reality too much, though: You'll hurt yourself. What I really want to know is this, Sheriff Scott (and the same of your white male colleagues and predecessors in the rural and semirural counties of this state): Where the hell were you when your upstanding local citizens were attacking Native Americans over the damned fish catch? Did those citizens' "property rights" and "commercial advantage" somehow justify ignorance of treaty obligations, and justify not just punching holes in boats and nets but beating the crap out of the Others while deputies failed to respond? Where the hell were you and your ilk when American citizens of Japanese descent were being rounded up for internment camps? Where the hell were you when any other civil-rights issue — especially those based on clear constitutional authority like the Fourteenth Amendment's demand for equal protection of the law — arose? Where the hell were you the last time there was a gay-bashing incident off campus at the local high school? Where the hell were you the last time some of the Real Americans in your jurisdiction torched a non-Christian place of worship or business?

You do not get to pick and choose which statutes to enforce, Sheriff. Sometimes there are legitimate allocation-of-scarce-resources issues that mean in practice that you have to prioritize (I've run into them as a CO myself)… but you've made no reference to that. Admittedly, there are ambiguities that need to be resolved in some of the details of I–1639… just like there are ambiguities and professional judgment involved in damned near any enforcement of any law at any time. That doesn't mean you get to decide, in your supreme self-righteous arrogance, that an entire law that appears consistent with even the most generous-to-gun-owners Supreme Court decisions is to be unenforced just because you think some parts of it could be clearer. If it doesn't work for Kim Davis in her merely administrative capacity, it bloody well shouldn't work for you when you are charged primarily with protecting public safety. <SARCASM> But I'm supposed to respect your professional judgment. Just like I learned exactly how much to respect the professional judgment of the popularly elected sheriffs (and their deputies) in Oklahoma and Cleveland Counties regarding airmen and NCOs under my supervision and command who, for whatever reason, didn't look like them. To some of us with moderately long memories and/or horizons beyond, well, the local curvature of the planet, "Sheriff" comes right before "Clark" or "Arpaio" — and it's going to take a few more decades of demonstrated even-handedness before that reaction fades, even for those of us with pale skin and military haircuts who were merely paying attention and actually gave a rat's ass about protecting the constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Probably not as long as it takes your collective "the gummint is grievously harming my political patrons' civil liberties by moderately impairing their military-class firepower that has no legitimate civilian usage and no realistic training for any usage" hysteria to fade, though. </SARCASM>

And for you morons who claim that you need to keep a large-magazine firearm handy at bedside for home defense against intruders, do a little bit of math. Compare the amount of time that it takes you to wake up, reach over to that bedside table, retrieve your "equalizer," sight down on a target in a dimly lit bedroom, and pull the trigger… to the amount of time that it takes an intruder with a $12 plastic-handled hunting knife purchased at some nearby convenience store to cross your ten-by-twelve bedroom and really mess up your day. Meanwhile, make sure the "intruder" wasn't your ten-year-old kid having a nightmare or videogame rush who came in your bedroom door. <SARCASM> Besides, your kid might have a chance to live if you don't have one in the pipe and fifteen in the magazine, given your usual marksmanship (which seldom approaches that on display in any Star Wars film). </SARCASM>

31 January 2019

Frostbitten Midwestern Internet Link Sausages

Rumors that these link sausages were left outside in Chicago this morning because it was both faster and cheaper than using a commercial freezer are just rumors.

  • It's not just US judges who are being subjected to overt political selection and pressure. (And that's leaving aside the dubious constitutionality of electing state-court judges; one must wonder how an elected judiciary is a "republican form of government" when their counterparts were not elected at the time the Constitution was adopted.) When the problem extends to the International Criminal Court, the rule of law is in jeopardy. Well, more jeopardy than it always is…
  • …from assholes like this guy, who apparently believe that whatever benefits them individually and can be somehow presented as a general benefit (even when that presentation is fundamentally bullshit) is not just allowable, but admirable. It's almost as if people aren't really robotsrational actors in reality — sort of like the difference between reality and the Ideal Gas Law.
  • Ignorance of that kind of difference is just one example of the critical need for greater scientific literacy among political leaders. Hard-core research scientists don't, themselves, tend to make great political decisionmakers (Exhibit #1408: Dixie Lee Ray), but that's still better than the kind of ignorance that makes calling the internet a series of tubes rather routine.
  • All of which reinforces the need for fact-checking in commercial publishing. The fundamental flaw in that article is that it treats commercial publishing as all of publishing, and neglects other publishing industries (like limited-circulation periodicals and academic of all sorts) as if they necessarily have the same standards, mechanisms — and flaws — as NYC-based commercial general-audience publishing (whether for books or periodicals). For all its flaws, peer review appears to do at least as good a job as keeping a cadre of in-house experts (who, if they're any good, know damned well that they don't know everything).

    It also, sub silencio, ignores the ethical standards of the authors, whether we're talking journalism, science, or something else. This is a problem, because the article presumes that only the editorial process in commercial publishing will ensure any allegiance to a defensible factual foundation… whereas that's true only in politics.

  • And then, there's for-all-practical-purposes permanent fallout from the temper-tantrum shutdown caused by the thing on Drumpf's head. Or, perhaps, his fundamental nature.

23 January 2019

Presidential Vocabulary (William Goldman Edition)

One of his handlers taught Cheeto a new word today. He claims that the only threat to his former fixer "personal lawyer" is the "truth", and that the Speaker of the House of Representatives is afraid of the "truth" (even though he'll no doubt broadcast the same damned speech from elsewhere, so neither she nor the public will avoid the speech). As one of Mr Goldman's most popular films remarked (also regarding a stable genius who labelled Socrates a "moron"), "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it does."

Meanwhile, he's more polite to repressive dictators who remain technically in a state of armed conflict with the United States than to democratically elected government officials who are not his sycophants.1 Of course, there's another film scripted by the late Mr Goldman that's relevant here. On all evidence, Cheeto hasn't ever seen it, and probably thinks it's the fantasy as compared to The Princess Bride.

  1. Ordinarily, I'd link directly to the original statement. I am not going to give Cheeto that satisfaction; neither will I support the even-more-simultaneously-childish-and-Orwellian business model of the venue on which that statement originally appeared. Things these days are plenty antisocial without dragging antisocial media into a conversation that requires vastly more than 140 characters at a time. Hell, just saying "conflict of interest" uses up twenty-two, allowing for spaces on either side!

20 January 2019

Seven Link Sausages In Search of (An) Author(ity)

If there's an underlying flavor profile to this platter, it's lies as publicity and marketing devices (PDF), which isn't exactly a new topic on this blawg.

  • It couldn't happen to a nicer pile of empty calories, excessive saturated fat and sodium, and arrogant marketing memes: Big Mac is ™ no more, at least in the EU. Mickey D's (notice the trademark disparagement there?) can continue to sell and brand its monstrosities as Big Macs; it just cannot exclude others.
  • Then there's the problem of declining author income. This article at least tries to reach beyond surface impressions, which is a good thing, but it misses badly. To fix a problem, one must have at least some understanding of both proximate and first cause. Arguing over whether Amazon is the proximate cause is all well and good. But it ignores first cause, which — bluntly — is largely the fault of publishers (and everyone else in the economic chain) still living with nineteenth-century class biases, and how that infects the entire process from the way they recruit their staffs to the way authors get paid.
  • And some of that first cause is fed by the continuing foolishness of treating "publishing" as a single industry with a single set of memes, circumstances, and everything else. A couple of side trips into academia should disabuse everyone of that; consider, on the one hand, the problem of authors with human — and even overwhelmingly awful — flaws, and its converse of quasifrancophonic literary theory whose only unifying factor is denying the existence of any author other than the author of the theory under discussion. Then ask yourself if any of that has even the slightest relevance to celebrity memoirs.
  • On the other hand, the FBI at least used to believe in authors and the potential dangers they posed even without being Frank Snepp or Philip Agee. Presuming, that is, that one can correctly identify the author.
  • Or zombie authors authors' estates, very few of which are operated in any fashion consistent with the deceased author's views, interests, intent, or anything else — even when there is a good estate plan. Just ask Franz Kafka.
  • Then there's the issue of how scientists appear in the arts, especially visual media. I've been in high-level research labs and institutions, which is precisely why I proclaim that a certain popular show (and its spinoff) on The All-Seeing Eye must be destroyed: They have nothing to do with either science or scientists, and display almost boundless contempt for those who live a life of the mind. Or, for that matter, their human failings and adaptation of popular memes to those failings (which is almost always a failure to adapt). No, instead the laziness and ignorance of "scientists are either superhuman or socially inept" continues to dominate every production company and especially writers' room.
  • Last for now, and perhaps most annoyingly because I watched Sauron's destruction of The Times as a credible source of journalism up close three decades ago: Sauron currently proposes removing even the formalist (and seldom respected) barrier between ownership and editorial staff. Context matters, asshole: Journalism is not just another business cranking out widgets and attempting to achieve a monopoly while somehow skirting antitrust scrutiny. Bite me.

13 January 2019

Rather Missing the Point

Just to demonstrate that my ire isn't always about politics or law, I'm going to take both Scalzi and Harvilla to task for missing the, or at least one very important, point about negative reviews. Simply put, reviews aren't generated and don't appear in a vacuum… and a certain proportion of thoughtful negative reviews from a review source is the best demonstration of that source's trustworthiness.

A negative review is almost never the only review that reviewer has done. One learnt far more about — to choose a famous example — the perspicacity of Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel by hearing/watching/reading their negative reviews and defenses thereof. And that isn't just about nebulous "taste," either: A critic (or author writing a review, or author in general) had bloody well better have a conscious rationale for why certain "types" of works are outside their attention. It might be rational or irrational disdain; it might be humility in knowing how little one knows in some areas (one only wishes that more "critics" and "reviewers" of military and espionage fiction would acquire some of that… including too damned many "former military" and "former intelligence" people writing about radically different contexts unmerited by their own experience/scholarship); it might be bad experiences with crap (remember, Sturgeon was an optimist). It might even be so personal that the conscious rationale isn't for public consumption, like a reviewer who lives with PTSD.

More broadly, a single review is almost never the only review appearing in that review source. Here, I must genially disagree with Mr Scalzi on one point: PR people generally do not accept that reviewers are not just adjuncts of the publicity-and-marketing campaign, and especially not in more (self-) serious subsets of the arts. If they did, there would never be an embargo date on reviews. And this is where Harvilla's invocation of Krasinski and Anderson really fails: Simply by being prominent enough to be big fish in the small indie pond, Krasinski and Anderson are inherently part of the marketing-and-publicity strategy of others in that pond. <SARCASM> If you really want to see how it's done, try visiting the world of the young classically trained musician in nonacademic selective youth orchestras — presuming a very strong stomach and very high tolerance for posturing, bullshit, egos, entitlement and privilege, parents living through their children's achievements, outright sabotage, and temper tantrums. If you can shrug off the contemporary political news, you might have a shot at it. </SARCASM>

The well-considered negative review is a demonstration of trustworthiness on the part of both the individual reviewer and the review source. It doesn't even need to go as far as Ebert did about North in demonstrating that the emperor wasn't just naked, but was probably unable to spell "textile;" the gentle, considered thumbs-down is equally valuable in demonstrating that the reader of/listener to that review can have at least some trust that the reviewer hasn't been coopted and isn't just a cheerleader or relentless booster. And in the social media world with its unacknowledged benefactors, that's even more important. Objecting to a stale crust on that apple pie is not unAmerican.

07 January 2019

Coronation Chicken

I think I've figured out what passes for a "strategy" behind Drumpf's threat to extend the shutdown for weeks or months. It doesn't have much to do with the border wall, but instead with the part of government he has proven unable to control. On Friday 11 Jan 2019 (or shortly thereafter), the federal courts will run out of money for ordinary operations and be restricted to hearing priority matters. Criminal cases count as priority matters. Civil rights cases, however, do not.

So over the weekend and early next week, I thoroughly expect some really outrageous Drumpf Administration executive orders, regulations, etc. (presuming we can distinguish this from business as usual every day under this administration), followed very quickly by lawsuits from the Usual Parties. Followed even more quickly by cut-and-paste orders from the respective Offices of the Clerk staying the lawsuits "until further order of this court." Too, this means that the anti-ACA ruling from a district court in Texas will not be proceeding through the appellate process, because it's not even conceivably a priority action.

Next, Alton Brown will devote an entire episode of a program to Coronation Chicken. It's been mentioned in passing regarding the White House and shutdowns before, but it was developed as a cheap festive dish in Blighty after the Second Thirty Years' War (using cheapo "curry powder" because fresh herbs and spices weren't available — or at least not affordable). Which seems all too appropriate with Brexit looming… Of course, that reference to The West Wing will backfire because the Executive Branch was the good guys, and nobody near where the border wall belongs will look at the substance.

04 January 2019

The Voice of Experience

A few news items in the last couple of days have demonstrated pretty definitively that we're in for a fun time leading up to and following the 2020 election cycle. Remember that "fun" is an acronym for "fouled-up nonsense," or something that sounds a lot like that. It all boils down to this: Governance is not a fraternity hazing ritual with strict taking of turns. The longer the various party establishments stick to this vision, the longer they're going to be despised and unable to actually do anything.

First (at least in time), there are the (entirely expected) rumblings from the party elders about the uppity new congresscreatures.

Some new lawmakers could get prime positions. Rep.-elect Donna Shalala (D-Fla.), 77, who served as a secretary of Health and Human Services and is one of the oldest freshman lawmakers in history, has a shot at a seat on the Energy and Commerce Committee that oversees healthcare policy. Orange County Rep.-elect Katie Porter, who has significant experience investigating consumer bankruptcy, could get on the Financial Services Committee.

Fellow California Rep.-elect Katie Hill, who is one of the freshman class’ two representatives to House leadership and serves on the group that will make committee assignments, acknowledged the struggle between putting freshmen in key roles and respecting the more experienced lawmakers who want the same slots. “You’re talking about people who have dedicated years and sometimes decades to hard work in the hopes or the goal of getting on these exclusive committees,” she said. Now there are freshmen who are “sort of wanting to jump the line. It’s tough. I understand.” The new lawmakers have also shown that they’re willing to air their grievances loudly and directly to the public. Unhappy with climate policy, Ocasio-Cortez protested in Pelosi’s office on her first day in Washington for freshman orientation.

(fake paragraphing removed for clarity) Earlier in the article, another asshole (non-gender specific) remarked

Other veteran lawmakers were less charitable, viewing the newcomers’ demands as audacious. “I don’t know if I want to say ‘Sit down and shut up’” in the newspaper, said one Democrat."

This reflects one of several necessary-but-not-sufficient fallacies embedded in power structures that use seniority as a measure of right and merit. Experience with a system is a necessary component for the system as a whole to function, especially procedurally. It is not, however, sufficient… or a measure of merit, suitability, knowledge of substance, or anything else. Expertise gathered outside the seniority system — like, say, law professors who've been writing on the issues that will concern their requested committee assignments for two decades, and I'm referring to Katie Porter in addition to someone else discussed below — matters. Professor Porter probably knows one helluva lot more about regulation of the financial industry than a five-term member from East Overshoe (or who has extensive inherited wealth) who is now senior enough to demand a mere committee seat (we're not talking about appointment as "Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer"!) under a seniority system.

This is particularly ironic coming from a party that has, without exception since well before Watergate, been composed of two types of people at the top: When successful on the national stage, outsiders; otherwise, establishment-system losers who are nonetheless successful in getting their own power advanced while sabotaging substantive agendas. And yet because they continue to control the machinery of power — and I use that term advisedly — the latter remain convinced of their own rectitude and merit. Including, most damagingly, their perceptions of "likability" and how that relates to candidacy. I'm hoping that Professor Warren doesn't listen to advisors touting this issue as much as Secretary Clinton did, because acknowledging that narrative put Clinton in a straitjacket from which Houdini wouldn't even have tried to escape.

The problem with Clinton wasn't "likability." It was the perception — rightly or wrongly, but IMNSHO mostly rightly — of putting somewhat feminist lipstick on an establishment pigsty. Leave aside the "daughter of Chicago machine politics" problem, which would have been a much more central issue if not for the, umm, jackass in the room: Nepotism. Because regardless of her own merits, Hilary Clinton rose to national prominence via family relationships. And that is not acceptable… especially given that little fallback of Chicago machine politics lurking in the background. The Jackasses haven't learned a damned thing from the failure of Edward Kennedy on the national stage… nor from the damned near uniform failure of Chicago machine politicians when imported into the Obama administration, especially those with existing political Names. And if you really need further proof, just look at the history of Claire McCaskill, stretching back to her initial… ascension… to office.

Experience is only a voice, assholes. It's not the entire conversation, especially when "go along to get along" is precisely the narrative behind Time's Up and MeToo and the civil rights movements (race, gender, orientation, whatever). And not all voices — even, and perhaps especially, when coming from those who have no personal experience with the present circumstances facing those calling for change — are those of anything resembling "wisdom." The entire point of a representative (and not appointed) legislative body is to provide soapboxes for diverse points of view — not to bury them by ensuring that the soapboxes that matter most to them have been reserved for others.

29 December 2018

Contemptuous Words

I've been minorly laid up for a few days, binge-watching old TV series because that's about all that my brain can handle. Specifically, The West Wing. I am no longer subject to Article 88 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, so I can… colorfully… express my despair that the political leadership of this nation (especially, but far from only, the Heffalumps) has turned that sober, enthusiastic series exploring and extolling the merits of governing in good faith, even through profound disagreements, into something with less plausibility than even the worst stuff on the SyFy channel. Even pro wrestling.

Here's an example: Can you imagine the following conversation occurring in Washington between members of opposite parties?

President Bartlet You want another Brady?

Judge Mulready Sure, just like you'd like another Ashland — who wouldn't? The court was at its best when Brady was fighting Ashland.

President Bartlet Plenty of good law written by the voice of moderation.

Judge Mulready Who writes the extraordinary dissent? The one-man-minority opinion whose time hasn't come but 20 years later some circuit court clerk digs it up at three in the morning. Brennan railing against censorship. Harlan's Jeremiad on Jim Crow.

"The Supremes" (Season 5, Episode 17, aired 24 Mar 2004).

So fuck you Senator Turtle and your minions, your coreligionists in the view that the object of power is power (who either themselves forget, or want everyone to forget, that that phrase is in the context of a totalitarian dictatorship and not a democratic republic). That the extraordinary dissent — and not just in judicial opinions — doesn't just matter to some recent law-school graduate at 3 a.m., but is central to the entire concept of a democratic republic. And so is compromise.

So perhaps I wouldn't be violating Article 88 because I hold them so far beneath contempt. Not much of a defense.

21 December 2018

A Solution for the Impending Shutdown

I think I have a solution for the impending shutdown of the federal government.

President Cheeto wants a border wall to keep people from shithole countries from bothering him with their annoying demands for asylum. But the economy may not be as robust as we'd like; financial markets haven't done too well this month. Therefore, some judicious cost-cutting seems in order; so does some creative engineering.

With just a little bit of thought — and a short trip to an internet map, fully recognizing its… limitations… on this subject — I think I've found a better solution. As a bonus, no environmental impact statement will be necessary (there's a statutory exception).

I propose a ten-meter-high walled circle centered on 38° 53' 52.6452" N and 77° 2' 11.6160" W, 318 meters in radius. We can throw in guard towers every fifty meters and still come in well under $5 billion, even if we make it a full Faraday cage (with a top and bottom) to cut off the Twitter feed.

Shutdown averted. Mission accomplished. Although I sort of cringe at possibly needing to quote Reagan: "Tear down this wall!" I suppose I could pretend I'm quoting Roger Waters…

09 December 2018

Non-Kosher Holiday Link Sausages

These link sausages have all been hanging in the same smokehouse, many for far too long. They're all concocted from the same recipe, though — and leave the same aftertaste of "adulterated contents," if not necessarily too Jungle-like. More importantly, they're all directly relevant to freedom of both communication and creation, and who controls the channels. They focus on the intellectual property world.

  • First up is an incredibly obtuse bit of bullshit from someone who should know better: A lament that "Indiscriminate use of ‘intellectual property’ has unsurprisingly bred absurdity." Leaving aside its reliance upon Richard Stallman's entitled, tenure-protected nonsense for damned near anything, the article fails to answer two critical questions that each must be answered in a particular way for its conclusion to have any validity. First, if it's wrong to group "too much" under "intellectual property," shouldn't we also make the same distinctions at the core legal and, umm, intellectual levels in "real property"? Shouldn't use of farmland be treated distinctly from redevelopment of brownfields in all respects (not to mention easements, riparian rights, etc.)? Second, and more to the point, what is the realistic alternative for encouraging those not protected by tenure or leisure to "advance the useful arts and sciences" — and more to the point, how do we get from here to there, and at what cost?

    Bluntly, this is typical utopian bullshit. There's no consideration of costs, alternatives, pathways, or wider consequences. More to the point, there's no consideration of "achievable imperfection" as the true goal of the rule of law… because the rule of law imposes a veil of ignorance ab initio, but cannot guarantee a just outcome in each instance. Nothing can; reality is all about acknowledging the existence of outliers and accounting for them (PDF image).

  • Stepping slightly farther back in the chain, consider glitches in the production-of-creative/useful-works subprocess
  • …and how those glitches are reflected in the publishing-and-distribution subprocess, both before actual publication and afterward at both large scale and somewhat smaller (with more-detailed data). Note, however, that not one of the entities appearing in any of these pieces (specifically identified or otherwise) has been subjected to any realistic antitrust scrutiny — not even hypothetically.
  • But that's just the specialized world of academia, where we can't expect economic realities to intrude, right? <SARCASM> In the purported "real" world, attribution and the nature of works is never a problem, is it? Or reuse — directly, through new publication, or indirectly, as "inspiration" for new works? And, of course, everyone in the distribution subprocess benefits equally, just like rising tides lift all boats (except those already holed below the waterline, perhaps). </SARCASM>

Ultimately, these sausages demonstrate that Marx was fundamentally wrong about any society moving past pure industrialism. It's not control of the means of production that creates power disparities and injustice, but control of the means of distribution. During the early and mid-nineteenth centuries — the data set upon which Marx (and Engels et al.) unleashed their black-box ideologies and post hoc rationalizations — in Western society "production" and "distribution" had largely coextensive ownership, so it was perhaps more difficult to understand that they're equally important loci of antitrust. Of course, if they weren't distinct, the leading US antitrust cases of the first three decades of the Sherman Act wouldn't concern railroads…

Whether one's loyalties are pledged to the Montagues or the Capulets, the Sharks or the Jets, it's still about organized crime. Even if it's not that organized.

22 November 2018

The 2018 Turkey Awards

An annual tradition for two decades! This is my list of ridiculous people from 2018 (so far). Pass me one of those rolls, please:

  • The Greasy Gravy Award for oily publicity that makes the main dish inedible goes to Hop-Hop Productions and its proprietor, who shall not be name-checked here (because that would, after all, feed the publicity beast)… even before going limp.
  • The Red-Tide Oyster Stuffing Award for carelessly poisoning an otherwise tasty dish goes to the American Bar Association for its institutional arrogance. Yeah, I thoroughly believe the ABA is "liberal" in the face of anti-science ethics opinions and support of the most racist, fraud-and-class-warfare-enabling segment of its membership. (Note on the latter: I participated in Heintz v. Jenkins on remand and dealt with "Van Ru", assholes; I know what I'm talking about, even if you refuse to see it, and I've seen the same bullshit spouted forth in the last two months by one of these miscreants.)
  • The Broken Wishbone Award for shattering dreams goes to Wayne LaPierre, although there's a good argument that the damned award should be retired in his name. Unless and until gun-rights advocates accept that there is a price for their position, there will be no discussion — only sniping that almost always shares the same defect as all NRA gun-safety courses (no coverage of target acquisition or downrange clearance).
  • The Golden Gristle Award for assertions far too difficult to digest (and usually stuck in one's teeth) goes to everyone trying to treat the state-sanctioned murder of a journalist inside an embassy as anything other than, well, state-sanctioned murder; this is just one example. n.b. I still remember some of the people who have been involved/blamed/scapegoated/etc. That does not increase my confidence level at all.
  • The Conspicuous Consumption Cranberry Relish Award for the most-outrageous example thereof goes to the entitled asshole who bought this for $90 million — which is approximately $90 million more than the current administration wants to spend on all arts funding. p.s. The artist will get exactly nothing.
  • The Crabapple Pie Award for marketing something sour as something sweet goes to Amazon's HQ2 extortion of localities. Guys: You didn't need to do this.
  • The Wilted Salad Award for the one part of the meal that's supposed to be "good for you," but is instead rather past its sell-by date, goes to Ivanka Trump and her "private" e-mail account. One wonders if Hilary Clinton is in her address book… ok, maybe not.
  • The Brussels Sprout Award for stinky, slimy, overcooked, gentrified little cabbages goes to Brexiteers, who almost uniformly hope to profit by having less scrutiny placed on their activities by people who didn't go to the same public (private) schools they did.
  • The Dried-Out Breastmeat Award for overcooking the books goes to Brian Kemp, Governor-Elect of Georgia, who obviously couldn't spell "conflict of interest" if spotted the first eleven letters.
  • The Rancid Drumstick Award for something that should be edible, but isn't, goes to Laura Ingraham… although the rejoinder by a teenager was much tastier.
  • New Menu Item This Year! The GMO Tofurkey Roast Award for a main-dish item that's supposed to be more wholesome, nutritious, and/or ethical than factory-farmed turkey, but merely hides something that's perhaps worse under that veneer of virtue, goes to #metoo excesses and blind spots. There are no winners here, and anyone using the problem as a platform for their own advantage is lower than pond scum.
  • Special Limited Time Offer! The Salmonella Carrot Medley (Artificial Color Added) Award for discrediting an office and a nation goes to this guy — hopefully, only through 2020. Although now that I think about it, he'll continue to do so long after he's left office under whatever circumstances that happens.