Thursday, December 30, 2021

Yes or No Questions

From a recent post by Jon Pavlovitz...

I’d love to talk with Mr. Schmeck and the rest of the #LGB crowd and find out what exactly Joe Biden has done to them to inspire such expletive-laden rage. 

How has he specifically harmed them? 

What precisely are the injuries they have sustained at his hands to merit this unprecedented public disgust? 

Has he denied or downplayed the existence of a pandemic and willfully killed hundreds of thousands of people? 

Has he ever incited his followers to engage in an act of domestic terrorism to overthrow the government and overturn an election? 

Has be berated reporters, coddled dictators, opposed medical experts, insulted women, or repeatedly misled the American people in nonsensical, rambling press conferences?

I put these yes or no questions to conservative apologists who read my blog daily. Responding with any variation of “NO YOU” supports the core assertions of this article.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

The Coming Criminal Referral for Donald J. Trump

Up until this point in time, Trump and his supporters have enjoyed a lot of mollycoddling from Congress and the DOJ. They have thumped their chests and stuck out their chin in adolescent defiance of our country's democratic institutions. And in a very "beer hall putsch" kind of style. 

That time is likely coming to an end for them.

It's been quite pleasant to see the insurrectionists and traitors going to jail for their involvement in the January 6th attempted coup. Some are in jail for years for their criminality. Others will soon follow.

One of them is going to be Donald J. Trump.

I'm thinking 8 years for him. 

And this would be why Liz Cheney keeps repeating the letter of this law in conjunction with Trump. 

Monday, December 27, 2021

Free Speech


Monday, November 15, 2021

Saturday, October 09, 2021

A Slow Moving Coup

Bill Maher is hoping that his latest editorial scares the shit out of more people. I'm just hoping that it wakes the Democrats up and they start arresting the people that are trying to take over our country. 

We are already in a civil war. We know who the bad guys are. We saw them on January 6th. We see them here. They are attempting to turn our country into an authoritarian regime by accusing the rest of us of doing the same thing. 

This was done quite successfully in Germany in the 1930s. People like Kevin Baker have fully embraced Goebbels-like tactics out of pure fear and hatred. They continually LIE about the left and, quite frankly, anyone who doesn't agree with them. 

They are very dangerous and must be stopped within the law that we are barely holding on to...

Monday, September 06, 2021

Pro Life

Pro life would be 20 Sandy Hook students starting high school this week.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Dedicated To Kevin Baker

 Take a look at this image.

These are American heroes. They are the policemen who put their lives on the line when Trump supporters engaged in a terrorist attack on our nation's capitol. This act of insurrection was based on the lie that the election was stolen from Donald Trump.

A big proponent of this lie is my old nemesis, Kevin Baker, who is still acting in sedition to the nation he claims to love. His recent post, "Despair and Utter Hopelessness," is a shining example of just how far CULT Kevin has gone. 

Kevin lives in a world where Twitter posts are the same things as facts. His anger towards any information that contradicts his scientology like beliefs has so overwhelmed any logic that he had left that it's disgusting. 

He and his followers have embraced the role of traitor completely. Listening to the testimony yesterday, I can only imagine Kevin either cheering on the crowds as they called the police traitors and beat them. Or denying it all, saying it's liberal media propaganda, not a big deal, and oh, weren't the BLM protest so much worse? 

We know exactly who you are, Kevin Baker. You are the modern day version of a Nazi. You accuse your perceived enemies of doing the very things you do and demonize them for it. (copyright: Josef Goebbels). You want an authoritarian state where there is only one ideology in power: YOURS. And that's not even the sad part.

The true tragedy in your long post of lies is that the very decay that's eroding our country is caused entirely by folks like you. You adolescently blame everyone else for COVID-19, gun violence, civic unrest, climate issues, and economic disaster. Yet it's YOUR FUCKING IDEOLOGY that's causing all of it. You supported an incompetent buffoon and Russian asset over the most capable person to be president because of adolescent feelings about liberals. 

Half the people dead from COVID-19 would alive right now if Hillary was president. Their blood is on your hands. You refuse any new gun laws that could actually help bring down gun violence. You scoff at any discussion of race or culture. You think climate change is a liberal plot. And even after economic stimulation of aggregate demand staved off another depression, you still stomped your feet at government interference in the economy.

And why?

Because you never grew out of your issues with authority. Every view you have comes from the lens of a 12 year old boy. 

The rest of the country, and there are far more of us than of you people, are sick and tired of your nonsense holding us back. We are going to force you to submit to reality and the harm you are doing to our country. You may think you know what "force" means but you likely don't. 

Every day we see more and more young people getting into "good trouble"..."necessary trouble." Some of them are my former students. Some are ex-Republicans who left the party when you and the crazies took it over. The overwhelming majority are liberals and moderates who are doing the necessary work to make sure you and your ilk are going to be quickly relegated to the ash heap of irrelevance. 

The photo above is one of heroes, Kevin. Heroes. There was a time when you might have seen them the same way. Now you aren't fit to lick their boots. 

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

The Nazis Keep Marching On

I used to have a tag on here called "Secret Authoritarians." They aren't really being that secret about it anymore, are they? The January 6th domestic terrorist attack and insurrection has now been more clearly documented. Check it out.

Just imagine the hay that would be made if these were liberals. Instead, it's a lot of denial and propaganda about what is quite plainly conservatives being EXACTLY what I said they were all along. 

They are Nazis in every sense of the word. 

Wednesday, July 07, 2021

Friday, June 25, 2021

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Me Vs. We

The biggest impediment in our society right now is this. 

People in our society don't care about others. More importantly, they have an adolescent loathing to systemic structures like government which create spaces for group-level support. 

We will continue to decay as a country until this horse shit attitude changes. 

Wednesday, June 02, 2021

Leave Naomi Osaka Alone

The sports world is upset over Naomi Osaka pulling out of the French Open. How dare she not attend press conferences! Fining her thousands of dollars wasn't enough -- they had to embarrass her and force her out of the tournament, and then threaten to drive her out of tennis completely.

I don't watch much sports -- basically just volleyball. But I always cringe when it comes to the interviews. The same questions are asked and the same cliches are repeated every time. It's usually just embarrassing to everyone.

And what's the point? The only thing that matters is what happens on the court. Why do we need to hear excuses or humble-bragging in the aftermath of a tennis match?

The play-by-play and color announcers generally do a fine job of informing us when the players screw up, and why they screwed up, how many times they screwed up in the past, and the statistics of their screwups. Why put the players on the spot in front of a world-wide audience, especially after they lose a match?

I mean, who really cares what athletes have to say? They're not there to talk to us, they're there to play the game. They're not generally all that insightful, especially the "naturals" who are just good at their sport and don't really know why they are.

Plus, one of the best ways to improve your performance is to learn from your mistakes, and then immediately forget them and focus on the next thing. If you need to talk to someone, talk to the coach -- they're the one who's responsible for the analysis and training anyway.

I can see why tournament organizers and the press want a photo-op with the winner. But why torment the loser with questions after a hard-fought match? Nothing is gained by humiliating these athletes.

I grant that the tennis organizations are within their rights to ask the people they pay millions to play games the rest of us play just for fun to show up for a post-match celebration that the press is invited to.

But just the winners.

If the loser wants to make an appearance, fine. But if they don't, it makes no sense to bother them with stupid questions that embarrass the reporters and audience as much as the players.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Remember Benghazi?

Think back with me to those days of yore when conservatives blew 89 bowels about the Benghazi attack. Remember all those investigations that found nothing? They were so angry about an attack on a makeshift consulate/CIA base that they were beside themselves. So you would think they would want an investigation into what happened on January 6th, right?


Take your hypocrisy and shove it up your ass. We are coming for you. And we won't rest until you are in prison. 

Friday, May 28, 2021

Is Test Prep for Standardized Testing Cheating?

There's a great example of disingenuity in today's Washington Post, penned by arch-conservative George F. Will:

Thomas Jefferson High School (TJ), a selective STEM magnet school with a national reputation for excellence, has what the school board in suburban Fairfax County, Va., considers a problem: Too many Asian American students excel on the admission test. The current TJ student body is 73 percent Asian American, 17.7 percent White, 3.3 percent Hispanic or Latino, 1 percent Black and 6 percent other. So, the board has decided to eliminate the test. Admissions will be based on a “holistic” assessment of applicants, meaning whatever admissions officials want it to mean.
Will, long a champion of white privilege, wants to roll back any form of "diversity" in admissions. In the guise of protesting anti-Asian discrimination he blasts people who question the validity of standardized testing. And he can't resist large numbers of "scare quotes" to make his point:
The TJ parents’ complaint notes that in 2018, a retired county middle school teacher ominously told Virginia’s General Assembly that Asian American parents are “ravenous” for opportunities for their children. In 2020, a member of the state legislature spoke of, but did not specify, “unethical ways” Asian American parents “push their kids into [TJ].” Presumably, they push their children to do well on standardized tests. At a 2020 town hall meeting, Fairfax County’s schools superintendent stigmatized TJ’s student body majority by complaining that Asian American parents spend “thousands upon thousands” on test preparation. Virginia’s secretary of education later denounced such studying as comparable to “performance enhancement drugs” in sports: cheating. 

The fact is, George, spending thousands of dollars to push your kids to do well on standardized tests is the very essence of cheating.

Here's how it works: parents hire tutors who have taken the test in previous years. Each year these tutors quiz test takers to regurgitate the questions that appeared on the test. They prepare "study guides" (note the scare quotes!) that have the questions and the answers. Students memorize the answers, not necessarily understanding the questions.

Now, creating a good standardized test is an expensive proposition. I used to work at a company that did computerized standardized testing worldwide. Writing a good test isn't just a matter of jotting down random questions. It involves creating a large bank of items (questions), then having a large number of people answer those items, including people who know the subject well. The results are then analyzed and statistics are generated. Bad items (ones that don't predict true ability) are tossed.
Items are added and removed each year, but banks of standardized items generally remain stable over time because they're expensive to create.
This is why many people consider study guides and tutors to be unethical. They literally give the kids the answers to the test. Yeah, they don't know exactly which questions will be on each year's test, and they can't be sure they've got the official answer, but they make the kids memorize everything.

The problem is, memorizing answers to canned questions is not the same as acquiring critical problem solving abilities. But it does give the advantage to children of parents who can afford to throw money at it.

When I worked for that testing company we delivered the written certification tests for pilots on computers, getting rid of the paper-and-pencil tests, which took forever to grade. Pilot trainees at flight schools wanted instant results so they could get into the cockpit that day and do their practical exams. 
Over time we computerized airline mechanic testing as well. One of the airlines wanted to move its service operations to China (this was in the Nineties, back when companies started selling out American workers big time). So the FAA had us set up a testing center in China to accommodate the airline.

The FAA's written mechanics test consisted of, as I recall, 25 or 50 multiple-choice questions. The paper version of the test had several uniquely-numbered standard "forms," each drawing the prescribed number of random items from the larger item bank.

I was at work one day when the sales guy called me from China. "The tests are wrong," he said.
 "What? I don't think so. They're just like the paper ones. They're very simple, straightforward tests. Nothing fancy."

He paused. "But they're in the wrong order."

"Huh? There is no 'order.' We randomized the item delivery order at the FAA's request."

"Well, we have a problem. These guys don't speak English."

"But..." And then it hit me. The Chinese mechanics had memorized the order of the items and the answers for every numbered form of the test. But when we computerized the test the order was determined randomly on delivery, making it impossible for the Chinese-speaking mechanics to cheat.
When it came to the written test, the question with pilots and mechanics was always, Does this really matter? The test is just a formality, everyone said. The practical exam will sort at the bad ones. 

But in this case, it really would matter. All the manuals for these planes were written in English. All the markings on the engines and wings were in English. If the mechanics can't read English, they can't read the manuals. And they can't properly service the planes.

Now, I'm not saying that all Chinese people cheat on tests. Clearly, Americans cheat too (I mean, how else did Donald Trump get through high school and college?). 

But there are definitely cultural attitudes about cheating: in some places, like the Soviet Union, cheating was a way of life. In college in the late Seventies I had friends from Russia and Ukraine, smart guys, who would openly cheat on every test even though they did not need to, just because they could. I didn't know any Americans who cheated because they wouldn't even talk about it, must less admit to it.

The testing company I worked for regularly ran statistics on pass rates for students at all our testing centers to look for cheating. Many of the centers were at schools that provided training for the subject material (we did a lot of certification for computer network technicians and the like).

Some centers, in China and India in particular, had much higher pass rates than others. So we sent in "secret shoppers" and discovered that some of these testing centers offered an extra service: they would stand behind you and tell you the answers to the questions.

Protecting the integrity of the item banks is one of the biggest problems in testing. Some of these testing centers took photos of the questions as they appeared on the screen so they could develop "study guides." 
That was almost 30 years ago -- it's worse now with a cell phone in every pocket and even glasses that have built-in cameras. There's a long history of schemes to steal questions for tests like the SAT (like this and this and this).

I'm sure that Will and many Asian families do not consider spending thousands of dollars on tutors and study guides on standardized test prep to be cheating. But it is because of the ubiquity of item theft.

But there is a larger point here. We require that doctors and nurses and lawyers pass rigorous written examinations before they practice medicine and law. Pilots have to pass tests before they can fly. Real estate agents have to be certified.

That makes sense. People should be qualified before they can do work that can affect people's lives.

But should that rationale apply to kids getting into a high school? How are they ever going to learn this stuff if they're never even given a chance? I mean, these kids aren't doing brain surgery there. They're going there to learn basic science and math.

The admissions process for a school like Thomas Jefferson should determine whether kids can benefit from going to that school -- can they absorb the material and earn a passing grade?
By their very nature standardized multiple choice exams do not test a student's ability to learn and solve real problems -- they test the ability to regurgitate memorized data. Learning and memorization are not the same thing.
Schools like this historically only want the "best" students. Why? Why shouldn't every student have an equal shot at going to a good school?

I suspect that the real purpose of standardized tests is to puff up the egos of school administrators and keep their pass rates high with a minimum of effort. And, sadly, to keep out poor kids, who have historically been ethnic minorities. 
But that's being turned on it's head with the success of many Asian Americans. Will does have a point that white parents are being hypocritical complaining about Asian Americans using the same scam white folks came up with to keep themselves on top.
To a large degree the ability to learn something depends more on motivation and persistence than previous accomplishments. 
Why should a student motivated by a fear of disappointing their wealthy parents get into a good school while a student motivated by inherent curiosity and an actual love of science and technology is rejected because their poor parents can't afford to buy study guides and pay tutors?

Sunday, May 09, 2021

Thursday, April 29, 2021

About those Pronouns...

I'm taking a linguistics class at the local university, delivered via Zoom. At the start of the semester many of the students included their "pronouns" in their display name ("Betsy Ross: she/her/hers"), but those all got wiped when the U implemented a security protocol that required the displayed name match the internal name. 

The school felt the need to apologize profusely. But, honestly, the whole pronoun thing is problematic and most likely unworkable, as this advice columnist question illustrates.

It's unworkable because it is the height of arrogance to think that everyone should know your first, middle and last names, your unknown form of address (sir, ma'am, ?), the title you prefer (Mr., Ms., Mrs., ?), whether you have some kind of title (Dr., Esq., PhD, captain, lieutenant, etc.), and three different personal pronouns (he/him/his, she/her/hers, they/them/theirs, zee/zer/zers, or whatever fanciful creation people may come up for themselves).

That's at least nine different labels that can apply to you. And many people who might refer to you won't know you, and will therefore not know what labels to apply, constantly sending you into a tizzy with microaggressions.

To implement this, people would have to walk around wearing labels stating their pronouns, or dress or groom themselves in a culturally agreed-upon fashion linked to their preferences. Sort of like making everyone wear a personal Star of David.

The motivation for this is some notion of everyone receiving equal treatment, by giving everyone special treatment.

And the thing is, it won't alleviate sexism, or gay prejudice, or trans phobia, or any of those things. 

Most European languages are heavily into grammatical gender: English has gender in pronouns only, French has two genders (masculine and feminine) that apply to all nouns, even inanimate objects: books are masculine, waltzes are feminine. German has three genders (masculine, feminine and neuter),  Russian has three and half genders (animate masculine, inanimate masculine, feminine and neuter). In those languages adjectives have different endings depending on gender, different articles based on gender, and Russian even conjugates verbs in the past tense (only!) based on gender.

Despite being heavily into grammatical gender, pronoun usage in German is confounding to English speakers: it doesn't actually depend on physical gender. The diminutive suffixes -chen and -lein change the gender of the word they modify to neuter. The words for girl and young woman, Mädchen (from Mädel) and Fräulein (from Frau), are both grammatically neuter, so the neuter pronoun es — it — would be used for them. Yes, a German man would call a hot young Fräulein "it."

But the majority of world languages have no grammatical gender, not for pronouns, not for nouns, not for anything.

The Japanese language historically avoids pronouns completely. In polite conversation people are typically referred to in the third person by their name, rather than a pronoun. You and I are usually omitted and understood from context. The same honorific — san or sensei — is used for males and females. 

But Japan (like nearly all human societies) is historically very sexist. And even though basic Japanese grammar lacks the gender markings of French and German, there is a huge difference between the speech of males and females in Japanese. Men and women utilize a completely different set of pronouns (when used) and verbs, with females using the "polite" forms and males using the "rough" forms. Which is, of course, not at all surprising.

The upshot is: even in languages with grammars that have no gender at all, gender bias and sexism still exist. The idea that the language people use will confine their thoughts and make them behave or think a certain way is pure BS.

There's this idea out there that some languages have a way of saying something that no other language can express, or that the language you speak somehow constrains your thoughts. This is nonsense: every natural language can express every notion that every other natural language can express. It may take more or fewer words to get the point across, but all languages (perhaps excepting pidgins constructed for trade or similar purposes, and ignoring discussions of quantum mechanics in every language) are essentially equal.

Now, it is totally reasonable for everyone to expect to be treated equally, with respect and dignity. But that can't happen if every person expects to have their every little whim catered to -- it's impossible for everyone you meet to know how you want to be coddled. Treating everyone differently is simply impractical, and more to the point, is the opposite of what we should really want.

Therefore, I would make the following proposals:

  • Address people by their names when you know their names, or you.
  • Dispense with sex-based titles such as Mr./Mrs./Ms. completely. Especially that outrageously sexist and antiquated practice of addressing envelopes to women with their husbands' names, e.g., Mrs. William J. Clinton for Hillary Rodham Clinton (my wife still gets letters like that!).
  • Likewise, toss out sir and ma'am. It is stilted and antiquated, and most people don't use them anyway. If you need to address an unfamiliar person directly, we already have a word for that: you. Feel free to add a "hey" if you really need their attention.
  • Address people with titles (doctors, military ranks, and specific jobs) with those titles, and their name if known: Dr. Strangelove, Nurse Ratched, Captain Spaulding, President Underwood, but not "Mr. President."
  • Refer to people in the third person by their names. This can also help clarify sentences -- it's not always clear which person he refers to when you're talking about the interaction between two males.
  • As a last resort, use "they/them/theirs" when referring to an indefinite person or one of unknown name or status. People may bicker with this, saying that it's grammatically incorrect to refer to a single person with a third-person plural they as in, "They were the first person in line." But English speakers have been doing this literally for centuries. If you're still not convinced, think of it this way: we use you are for both the singular and plural second person (thou art was the singular form before we started addressing single persons in the plural). It's perfectly reasonable to treat the indefinite third person the same way. And everyone already does it.

This way you could talk about Caitlyn Jenner all day long and never once worry whether Jenner's a she, he, they or zee.

Adopting these standards at a university would ameliorate problems like the one that came up in Ohio:

A Christian professor of philosophy who was reprimanded for refusing to refer to a trans student as a woman can pursue his lawsuit against Shawnee State University in Ohio, a federal appeals court said Friday.

Shawnee State “punished a professor for his speech on a hotly contested issue,” the appeals court said. “And it did so despite the constitutional protections afforded by the First Amendment.”

The case stemmed from a 2018 political philosophy class in which the professor, Nicholas Meriwether, called a trans woman “sir.” Meriwether said it happened accidentally, as no one informed him of the student’s preferred pronoun. After class, the student “demanded” to be called “Ms.,” like other female students, and threatened to have him fired if he didn’t, according to Meriwether’s lawsuit.

It is simply unrealistic for a professor just looking at someone sitting in class of, say, 200 students to know how each student wants to be addressed. If you get rid of sir and Ms., replacing them with the student's actual name, or hey, you, the problem just goes way: the professor can't possibly defend using sir or Mr. when the standard of discourse at the university is to use you or the student's actual name. Similarly, the student can't bitch if the professor calls them by their name or you every time he talks to them (see how natural them is?).

That wouldn't infringe on the professor's "right to free speech" or tick the student off for being misidentified. And if one or the other insists on being a dick about it, given that there's a completely neutral option that offends no one, the university could take action against either party if they persist in their obnoxious behavior/demands.

Now, I'm not fooling myself here: I know everyone is still going to assign some kind of gender to every person they meet. But no one can get away with saying that using people's names and addressing them as you is a horrendous burden and a violation of their core beliefs.

Screwing with the language, adding new pronouns, making everyone learn nine forms of address for every person they meet — none of this will change how people think or feel. It will just piss off the sticks in the mud, giving them yet one more thing to claim they're a victim of, and it will make non-binary folks feel bad every time someone accidentally uses the wrong term for them.

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Things White People Don't Have To Think About

I need to drive my two-year-old to daycare tomorrow morning. To ensure we arrive alive, we won't take public transit (Oscar Grant). I removed all air fresheners from the vehicle and double-checked my registration status (Daunte Wright), and ensured my license plates were visible (Lt. Caron Nazario). 

I will be careful to follow all traffic rules (Philando Castille), signal every turn (Sandra Bland), keep the radio volume low (Jordan Davis), and won't stop at a fast food chain for a meal (Rayshard Brooks). I'm too afraid to pray (Rev. Clementa C. Pickney) so I just hope the car won't break down (Corey Jones). 

When my wife picks him up at the end of the day, I'll remind her not to dance (Elijah McClain), stop to play in a park (Tamir Rice), patronize the local convenience store for snacks (Trayvon Martin), or walk around the neighborhood (Mike Brown). 

Once they are home, we won't stand in our backyard (Stephon Clark), eat ice cream on the couch (Botham Jean), or play any video games (Atatiana Jefferson). After my wife and I tuck him into bed around 7:30pm, neither of us will leave the house to go to Walmart (John Crawford) or to the gym (Tshyrand Oates) or on a jog (Ahmaud Arbery). 

We won't even walk to see the birds (Christian Cooper). We'll just sit and try not to breathe (George Floyd) and not to sleep (Breonna Taylor). 

These are things white people simply do not have to think about. 


Thursday, April 01, 2021

The Straw Man Argument Known as The Narrative

The subject of "The Narrative" has come up recently in the news and it's way past time to address it. According to conservatives, "The Narrative" is liberal propaganda that asserts that all right-wingers are racists who prey upon people of color. Conservatives believe that they are being unfairly targeted by the left and gleefully point out when people of color attack each other as proof that "The Narrative" is a lie. 

 In reality, the concept of "The Narrative" is a straw man argument employed as a "gotcha" tactic that muddies the waters, gaslights, and conveniently avoids the facts about conservatives today. 

Those facts are: 
-74,000,000 people voted for a guy who used the racist terms "China Flu" and "Kung Flu" in describing the coronavirus. 
-White supremacists groups coordinated the attack on the Capitol on January 6th. 
-98% of mass shooters are white and male. 

If you are a conservative whining about "The Narrative," step one would be to STFU about liberals and deal with the large number of racist assholes in your party. Stop blaming everyone else for your problems and avoiding the elephant in the room. 

Being a nonracist isn't enough anymore. You have to be an antiracist. Get over your adolescent issues with someone telling you what to do and just fucking do it because it's the right thing to do. You aren't being victimized here and your attempt to pull a Goebels is pathetic. 

In short, stop making shit up

Monday, March 29, 2021

Hey, Lindsey

To show his NRA bona fides, Lindsey O. Graham went on Fox News to issue the standard blather the gun industry has bought and paid for:

“I own an AR-15,” Graham told Fox News host Chris Wallace. “If there’s a natural disaster in South Carolina where the cops can’t protect my neighborhood, my house will be the last one that the gang will come to, because I can defend myself.”
Seriously? Lindsey, this is South Carolina we're talking about. Everyone in the gang that comes to your door is gonna have their own AR-15, some of them modified for autofire. And they'll all have Glock 17s -- no, they'll probably have two apiece. And a Bowie knife. And maybe a couple of grenades. Plus a laser sight. And a silencer. And half of them will be wearing body armor. All courtesy of you and the other Republican gun-industry shills in Congress.

Come on, Lindsey! Was it really the smartest move to advertise to the entire world that you have a stockpile of AR-15 ammo? You just made your house the gang's first stop after the natural disaster exacerbated by the climate change you pretend doesn't exist.

All these Republican gun lovers imagine that they're all Rick Grimes. But it's a fantasy: they're all Negan.

Less Regulated Than Vaginas


Saturday, March 27, 2021

Take Your Operative and Shove It Up Your Prefatory

Gun humpers like to use this explanation of the second amendment to sound extra grammar smart. 

The second comma divides the amendment into two clauses: one “prefatory” and the other “operative.”

Invariably they say this in an online debate to make their opponent scared at their “intellect” regarding the English language. The problem is that they aren’t being truthful. Shocking, I know, that someone who has weird beliefs about guns should be so dishonest. 

Absolute clauses are indeed grammatically independent but that doesn’t mean that they are automatically unrelated. In fact, absolute clauses typically provide a causal or temporal context for the main clause. 

The founders, most of whom were classically educated, would have recognized this rhetorical device as the “ablative absolute” of Latin prose. To take an example from Horace likely to have been familiar to them: “Caesar, being in command of the earth, I fear neither civil war nor death by violence” (ego nec tumultum nec mori per vim metuam, tenente Caesare terras). The main clause flows logically from the absolute clause: “Because Caesar commands the earth, I fear neither civil war nor death by violence.” 

The second amendment written this way would read “Because a well-regulated militia is necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.” In other words, the amendment is really about protecting militias that were much needed to face the standing army of the British, a horrifying concept to the people of the time. 

Explain this to the next liar who has cult-like beliefs about guns

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Hey Kevin Baker, Guard Duck and Other Traitors

Read this.

Stop fucking up our country with your nonsense. 

Friday, March 19, 2021


If you are someone who pretends that racism isn't that bad...that the left is too "woke"...that people of color complain too much...that culture doesn't matter...that our horrible history with African Americans, Asians, Latin peoples, and other people of color should be denied or ignored... 


Your horseshit attitude about race isn't going to cut it anymore. You are aiding and abetting the enemies of equity. And the rest of us are going to force you to change your ways.


Thursday, March 18, 2021

Religious Misogyny Motivated the Georgia Murders

When eight people, mostly Asian women, were murdered at massage parlors in Georgia, a huge argument ensued: were these race-based hate crimes, or the acts of a sex-crazed wacko?

The piece of trash that did this was turned in by his parents, who gave the cops his cellphone number so they could track him down. We'll call him "PoT" instead of his real name to avoid giving him the notoriety he likely craves.

PoT's Instagram account had the following tagline: “Pizza, guns, drums, music, family, and God. This pretty much sums up my life. It’s a pretty good life.”

If life was so good, what was PoT's problem? Why did he do this?

Authorities said Robert Aaron Long had confessed to the killings and had told investigators he had “a sexual addiction.” Long indicated he may have frequented the spas in the past, police said, and that they were “a temptation for him that he wanted to eliminate.”

In other words, PoT was a disgusting and weak animal, and "Guns and God" were the answer he chose to solve his own failings: kill the thing he desired and his temptation would go away.

We see this pattern over and over and over, in nearly all religions. In Saudi Arabia they make women cover themselves from head to toe to avoid inciting the passions of weak men. In Afghanistan the Taliban stopped girls going to school so they wouldn't tempt men. Ultraorthodox Jews in Brooklyn treat women like chattel, denying them a real education and turning them into baby machines that no man but their husbands can touch. Catholic priests worldwide crusade against birth control and abortion, denying women the most basic control over their own bodies. Southern Baptists disallow dancing and their pastors tell women that they have to look attractive because "God made men to be drawn to beautiful women," while sporting a gut that could dam the Mississippi River. And all religions have been covering up the rapes committed by their pastors, priests, rabbis and mullahs since time immemorial.

Religion gives animals like PoT license to murder. Here's how it goes. Lust is a sin. Temptation is how Satan takes us away from God. Satan is evil. You must conquer temptation. Throw in some guns and the answer is obvious. PoT was "proving" to God the strength of his faith, by destroying evil temptation at the source, killing these women.

How can I know that this was the motivation? There are literally millions of women out there to tempt him, and PoT knows that he can't kill them all. But he can pass God's "test" by killing the temptations he's met.

PoT had been in treatment for addiction, and clearly it failed. PoT's youth pastor said, “I don’t say this callously: I don’t know what’s happened in [PoT] to get to this point. What happened last night doesn’t seem in any way like the young man I knew.”

I can tell that pastor how PoT got to that point: religion screwed him up. By harping on sin and temptation and pretending that whatever force in the Universe that created the Andromeda galaxy actually cares how some bozo in rural Georgia gets his rocks off, his "faith" drove him to murder.

Religion does give legitimate comfort to some people. An old lady can die happy, thinking she'll be reunited with her long-dead husband. It can help some kids stay on the straight and narrow.

But then we saw how nearly the entire evangelical hierarchy endorsed a completely depraved and immoral man for president, despite his own bragging about how he sexually assaults women. And then they had the gall to compare him to King David (who was also a total scumbag, but one who ultimately repented). And then they sued state governments that wouldn't let them crowd their congregations into disease-filled churches so they could fill their collection plates during a pandemic. All the while claiming that they are "pro-life."

Organized religion has lost whatever moral authority it ever had. It's just another gang of greedy men grubbing for money and power.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

End The Voting Rights Battle

I don't do this often but both sides are completely wrong in the voting rights debate. And Ross Douthat has explained why in his latest piece. 

The first study, from the Democracy and Polarization Lab at Stanford University, looks at the effects of no-excuse absentee voting on the 2020 elections — the kind of balloting that a lot of states expanded and that many Republican state legislators now want to roll back. Contrary to liberal expectations, easing the voting rules this way seemed to have no effect on turnout: “States newly implementing no-excuse absentee voting for 2020 did not see larger increases in turnout than states that did not.” Then contrary to Republican fears, the easement didn’t help Democrats at the G.O.P.’s expense: “No-excuse absentee did not substantially increase Democratic turnout relative to Republican turnout.” Overall the authors argue that what drove higher turnout in 2020 was simply “voter interest” in the elections, not the major voting rule change, which “mobilized relatively few voters and had at most a muted partisan effect.” 

The second study comes from a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Oregon, and it looks further back in time to assess the effects of Shelby County v. Holder, the Supreme Court revision of the Voting Rights Act that made it easier for states to impose voter ID laws and other restrictions. Using data from six federal elections, the author finds no post-Shelby divergence between white and African-American turnout in states affected by the ruling. Indeed, if anything, the jurisdictions saw African-American turnout rise relative to white turnout in the 2016 elections, suggesting that new obstacles to voting prompt swift mobilization in response.

That should all clear it up, right? 


Sunday, February 21, 2021

The Texas Disaster

For the last several years there's been a different kind of weather pattern: a terrible "polar vortex" that brings freezing temperatures down into places like Austin, Texas, where it got as low as 0 degrees, and warm toasty weather to Anchorage, Alaska, where it was 20 degrees warmer.

Every year there are articles that ask whether climate change is responsible for this or that particular freeze. And the answer from scientists is maddening to laymen: maybe not this one, but it's responsible for the increased frequency of such events.

The mechanism is pretty obvious: the jetstream, which usually keeps arctic air bottled up at the north pole, has been weakened by the warming atmosphere over the last several years. When a warm front breaks through the weakened jetstream, bringing balmy weather to Alaska, cold polar air is pushed south, often down into the lower 48.

Texas, a wholly owned subsidiary of the oil and gas industry, decided long ago that they didn't want to be part of the national power grid. So they have their own grid, which is almost completely unregulated. 

To keep prices low the power companies don't have any reserve capacity. They spend nothing on contingencies for extremely hot or extremely cold weather. So when it got down to 20, 10, 5 and 0 degrees last weekend all the natural gas pipelines froze. Power plants that use gas turbines went offline. Cooling water pipes froze, and coal and nuclear plants went offline. Ice formed on blades, so wind turbines went offline.

Now, we have gas turbines in Minnesota, where it was -20 below for days on end at the same Texas was 20 and 30 degrees warmer. They didn't freeze. We have nuclear power plants, and coal-fired power plants, and wind turbines, and they all kept working just fine. 

While Texas was suffering from blizzard-like conditions last Sunday Minnesota had very cold but clear weather. During the worst two days in Texas the solar panels on our house generated 145 kilowatt hours of electricity. Some of which we could have sent to Texas if they hadn't cut themselves off from the rest of the country, preventing people from freezing to death or dying of carbon monoxide poisoned trying to keep warm by running their cars.

See, that's the thing about renewable energy. It's not always windy or sunny everywhere. But it's always windy or sunny somewhere. And if you have an interconnected grid you can trade that power back and forth.

When Texas lost power its governor went on Fox News and blamed the outage on wind turbines, which generate maybe 10% of Texas' power. He didn't mention that the nuclear, coal and natural gas plants that generate the vast majority of power in Texas were also offline, because utilities skipped weatherizing their infrastructure, even though Texas went through a similar disaster in 2011.

When Texas lost power Ted Cruz went to Cancun, because he wanted to be a "good dad." Because, you know, there's nothing a senator can do to help. 

When Texas lost power New York representative and Republican bogeywoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez went to Houston, helped out at a food bank and organized an online relief drive that had already raised $4 million by Saturday. But she doesn't have kids who need to go to lie on the beach in Cancun in the middle of a pandemic, so she has all the free time in the world.

Yeah, AOC is just pulling a stunt, showing how Democrats actually care about people and then do something to help. But, geeze, Ted! I mean, Rafael. You could have pulled the same stunt. But you didn't! You went to Cancun, something an actual human being would know makes you look like a total douche bag.

When Texas lost power Joe Biden declared a major disaster, freeing up emergency funds. There was no sniping about Texas voting for the "former guy," or an attempt to extort some concession from its governor, or a rush visit to Houston to throw paper towels at people seeking warmth in a shelter.

Republicans constantly tell us that government is the problem, not the solution. Well, it's very clear that Republican governments are the problem. Republican governments are just shills for giant companies and billionaires, doing whatever the people with all the money want them to do. Or worse, they use the levers of government to line their own pockets. Like that former guy who charged the Secret Service millions of dollars to stay at his own hotels and resorts...

And somehow Republicans maintain power by selling the lie that they're the defenders of freedom. What was the freedom Texas Republicans sold to its citizens? The freedom to get ripped off by big companies:

SAN ANTONIO — As millions of Texans shivered in dark, cold homes over the past week while a winter storm devastated the state’s power grid and froze natural gas production, those who could still summon lights with the flick of a switch felt lucky.

Now, many of them are paying a severe price for it.

“My savings is gone,” said Scott Willoughby, a 63-year-old Army veteran who lives on Social Security payments in a Dallas suburb. He said he had nearly emptied his savings account so that he would be able to pay the $16,752 electric bill charged to his credit card — 70 times what he usually pays for all of his utilities combined. “There’s nothing I can do about it, but it’s broken me.”

Monday, February 15, 2021

Are We Ever Going to Learn?

About once a month, like clockwork, an accusation appears that dethrones yet another cultural hero. We found out that Minnesota nice Amy Klobuchar was a mean boss. Al Franken did sexist things on a USO tour. James Gunn made bad jokes a decade ago and got fired. Countless football players slug their girlfriends.

This time it's Joss Whedon, creator of several television shows that featured strong female leads:

Earlier this week, former “Buffy” and “Angel” co-star Charisma Carpenter released a statement claiming that Whedon had mistreated and eventually fired her from “Angel” after she gave birth in the early 2000s. She writes that Whedon “has created hostile and toxic work environments since his early career. I know because I experienced it firsthand. Repeatedly.” She says that Whedon called her “fat” in the early months of her pregnancy, despite her relatively low body weight, and that he scorned the importance of this major life event, even going as far to ask her if she was “going to keep it.” Carpenter reports now living with a chronic physical condition that she says was initially brought on by working with Whedon.
 The author of the Washington Post piece linked above is outraged by these revelations. She wrote:
Through my late teens and early 20s, I owned a T-shirt that read in big, chunky letters, “Joss Whedon Is My Master Now.” It was one of the first pieces of clothing I ever owned that signified not only my aesthetic tastes but also what I considered my intellectual identity. Above all else, it announced my affection for the man who had created “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” At the time, Whedon’s innovative cult franchise defined feminism and feminine clout for legions of young fans. It tackled everything from the intricacies of female power to the meaning of death itself, all the while pumping out metatextual one-liners. And Whedon — more than the stars of his shows or the characters they embodied — was the face of all that heart-wrenching, revelatory brilliance.
Whedon would probably characterize his interactions with Carpenter as typical workplace banter, meant in jest. At best it was thoughtless and careless. At worst at sabotaged a woman's self respect. But on a scale of 1 to 10 on the list of bad things bosses have done to employees, this ranks about a 2. If your ego is really that fragile you have no business working in Hollywood, or even the local McDonalds. That's life in the real world.

I'm not defending Whedon here. His comments were bad and stupid, and he shouldn't have made them.

What I'm interested in here is the reaction of the writer of the Post piece. She feels outraged and betrayed. She feels like a fool for buying that "Joss Whedon Is My Master Now" T-shirt.

And she should feel like a fool. This is the problem with elevating creators of art that we like to some higher plane. They're all just ordinary people. They will always disappoint you.

Why buy a T-shirt with Whedon's name on it? Isn't it the idea of Buffy the Vampire Slayer she admired, not the bald guy who invented her?
Joss Whedon is just a guy. He's not a brilliant mastermind, or guru, or keeper of the secrets of the universe. He just took a cultural meme -- damsel in distress -- and flipped it. Every time we heap inordinate praise on individuals who have done something we admire we are just setting ourselves up for disappointment. Because these people are just regular guys. They put their pants on one leg at a time. They still use the bathroom. They are impatient, they are petty, they are selfish, and they are very often single-minded in their pursuit of their art, career or performance on the field.

It's fine to celebrate the great TV series, the insightful novels, the legislative accomplishments, the beautiful songs, the fabulous plays on the field. 
But we make a colossal mistake when we lionize the people who do these things. In almost every single case these creators and performers did not make these accomplishments all by themselves. They had the help of writers, editors, art directors, a large staff, coaches, team mates, and parents. They did not build it all by themselves.

When we place people on pedestals we set them up for a fall. They start thinking they're really hot stuff and they're somehow better than other people. They start thinking they know more than they actually do, that they have the right to take whatever they want, from whoever they want, whenever they want. They mistakenly think they're experts in every field, not just what they're good at (I'm talking about you, Elon Musk.)

By elevating these people above the rest of us we give them license to act with impunity. In a very palpable way Joss Whedon's admirer's encouraged the very behavior that they now condemn.

I mean, seriously: Whedon goes to Comicon and sees hundreds of cute young women in "Joss Whedon Is My Master Now" T-shirts. You don't think that's going to affect the man's behavior?

In the same vein, what are these people thinking when they call Donald Trump "god emperor?" When Trump came down with Covid he wound up in the hospital for three days, yet somehow his followers thought he had a "god-like" constitution? I mean -- as Republicans constantly tell us -- most people who get Covid can hardly tell they've been sick, yet Trump required an extensive course of specialized medication and hospitalization. Trump is just another weak, fat, sickly old man.

We as a people have to stop idolizing individuals as somehow superhuman. They're all just people, even when they've created something we love. 
Yes, celebrate the wonderful creations. But never forget that the guys who created them are just putzes like you and me. We feed their egos at our own peril.

Tuesday, February 09, 2021

Dedicated To Right Wing Bloggers and Commenters Everywhere

This is who you are. Domestic terrorists. Authoritarian cultists. Psychotic criminals.

Your petty, adolescent games are finished. You can try to hide. You can even try to make up your own reality but it won't work. I've warned you for years this would be the result and you laughed and didn't listen. 

We will dominate you in every election going forward. You will have zero say in anything that happens in terms of the direction of this country.

You are completely fucked. And you know what that means?

Our country will finally be moving forward to greatness. 

Monday, February 01, 2021

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Monday, January 18, 2021

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Dear Senate Republicans:

Suck it up, Republicans. Your guy lost. Deal with it.

Check that. He wasn't your guy. He was an elitist New York grifter, failed casino owner and con man who thinks he's better than everyone else, even though he's an ignorant dunderhead. He was a front man for the Russian mob who made a hostile takeover of the Republican party. You never liked him.

Trump's a loser. He's always been a loser. Even when he wins, he acts like a loser, whining about everything, lying about everything, even irrelevant nonsense like inauguration crowd size. 

So why do you want to drag out the unmitigated catastrophe of the Trump years? Why do want to risk him coming back in 2024? 

Senators, you must convict the bastard!

He got lucky and won in 2016 with the help of the Russians, and because everybody hates Hillary, even half the Democrats. James Comey hung her out to dry with his mishandling of the bogus email scandals, and the leaking by Rudy Giuliani's cronies in the New York FBI office of the equally bogus Weiner laptop scandal, just days before the election.

Every Republican knew Trump was a toxic serial rapist before the election, when he was caught on tape bragging about grabbing women by the pussy. He won the primary with grade-school tactics, insulting and spouting ridiculous lies about his Republican opponents, including some of your fellow senators. Remember Low-energy Jeb, Little Marco, and Trump's claim that Ted Cruz's dad shot JFK? 

Ted, how could you possibly support this weasel and carry his lying water for him? Have you no shame?

Trump continued his assault on allies in the Republican Party and his own employees throughout his term, trashing everyone from Jeff Sessions, to John Bolton, to Rex Tillerson, to John Kelly, to Bill Barr. Every time Trump screwed the pooch, he blamed someone else and threw them under the bus. He displayed zero loyalty to his allies. To you, dear senators.

And then, on January 6, he sent a lynch mob to the Capitol to kill Mike Pence. And risked your lives in the process.

Everyone knows Trump lost. Everyone knows why Trump lost. But they're too afraid of him, and the crazies that he's been egging on for the last five years, to admit it. Republican office holders are getting death threats from people in their own party simply for obeying the law and keeping their vow to uphold the Constitution.

Yeah, I know, you're afraid for yourselves and your families. Well, join the club. These nutjobs have been plotting to kill -- and actually killing -- Democrats, Jews, Muslims, Mexicans for the last five years. Literally dozens of Trump supporters, like Cesar Sayoc, have been jailed for terrorist threats and murder.

Why would any sane person want to keep Trump around? The longer he has a voice in politics, the longer he'll rile up these crazies and the more people they'll threaten and kill. Including other Republicans, because Trump and his people want to instill fear and incite a race war.

Trump is a malignant narcissistic psychopath, and by his lights, if he can't be president, no one can. He'll burn the country to the ground if you don't stop him.

This clown has destroyed America's standing as a world power. He drove our trade deficit and national debt to record highs. He's the first president in forever to leave office with more people unemployed than when he came in. He's given over our foreign policy to the Russians and Israel. He's alienated all our allies. He surrendered to Kim Jong Un and Vladimir Putin and Hafez Assad and the Taliban. He coddled murderous dictators like Saudia Arabia's MBS and Turkey's Erdogan. The Iranians are back to enriching weapons grade uranium.

Almost half a million Americans are dead because he botched the coronavirus response.

Trump is a total failure. He is the biggest loser at all the things that really matter.

And, face it: there's nothing to worry about Biden and the Democrats being in charge. When Democrats come into power after a Republican destroys the economy things improve -- as it did with Roosevelt after Hoover, Clinton after Bush I, and Obama after Bush II. Biden won't be dictated to by the squad and Bernie because most congressional Democrats are moderate. And Trump has been such a disaster that there's just not enough money for the squad's wish list.

Just admit it: Republicans are terrible at running the country. You don't want government to succeed. You only have an opposition party mindset, you're only happy when you're whining and sniping at the "establishment" -- the people who run the government -- even when those people are you. Not wanting to do the job makes you unfit to actually do the job.

Trump losing is the best thing to happen to this country since the Allies won WWII. Businesses crave stability and predictability, but all Trump did was sow chaos, discord and uncertainty. And it's the best thing to happen to you, senators: you don't have to worry about Trump stabbing you in the back at every turn, or issuing some insane tweet in the middle of the night, destroying everything you worked on for the last year and a half.

So, dump Trump's big fat rump. Vote to convict!

Thursday, January 07, 2021

Trump Screws His Supporters 10 Times Harder. Again.

Donald Trump loves to brag to about how he doesn't just get even, he hits back at his enemies 10 times harder. But the people he hurts the most are his employees (Mick Mulvaney, Jeff Sessions, Bill Barr, etc.), his business partners, his investors, his political allies, his wives, and his most rabid political devotees.

After Trump incited a mob outside the White House they rioted inside the Capitol. Four people died, one shot by capitol police as she lunged over a barrier.

These people are now screwed. They are facing years in prison for criminal destruction of property, terrorizing members of congress and numerous other charges. And these idiots documented their crimes on social media!

We have to pause to note that these white rioters were treated with kid gloves. Over the summer Black Lives Matter protesters were met by SWAT teams and the military decked out in riot gear, but Trump rioters, who for weeks had openly plotted on social media to invade the capitol building, were met only by a small capitol police force.

What was the FBI doing for the last two months since the election? Aren't they supposed to be tracking threats, foreign and domestic?

These people's lives are now ruined. And where was Trump? After inciting them to riot, he went back to the White House to watch the carnage on television.

And what the hell are these people been fighting for? Why do they want four more years of this clown?

The Trump years have been an unprecedented disaster. Three to four thousand people are dying every day from Covid -- that's eight 9/11s a week!

The economy is mess because of his idiotic tariffs and totally botched response to the pandemic.

Our government and corporate computer systems have been hacked by the Russians. And Trump has yet to say one bad word about Putin.

Kim Jong Un has continued to build nuclear weapons after making Trump look like an idiot for saying that he fell in love with the North Korean dictator.

Iran is back to enriching weapons grade uranium after Trump withdrew from the international agreement that prevented them from doing so. Trump's assassination of a popular Iranian general only made Iran more determined to defy him, rather than getting them to back down. And the Russians openly help the Iranians.

Taliban forces are taking Russian bounties to kill American troops, continuing to attack government officials and kill innocent civilians while Trump's negotiators try to make a "peace deal" with these psychopathic murderers. Trump's exit from Afghanistan will make our withdrawal from Vietnam look like a victory parade.

Russian TV set scenes of Trump's capitol riot to dramatic music, graphically showing how out of control the United States is, and how dangerous democracy is.

Notice how Russia so prominently figures when we talk about Trump. They are, after all, responsible for putting him in the White House. He is undeniably their creature.

Trump loves to claim that the rest of the world is laughing at us. Well, he's right now. The Russians are laughing. The Chinese are laughing. The North Koreans are laughing. The Iranians are laughing. They all think Trump is a joke. He can't even get Dictator 101 right.

Trump is the biggest loser. And nothing is more pathetic than a loser who keeps whining after he's been beaten. Trump isn't a man, he's a childish caricature reminiscent of Trelane in The Squire of Gothos.

But Canada, Australia, Europe, Australia, Great Britain, Japan and the rest of the free world are shocked and saddened by how far the United States has fallen, becoming yet another banana republic where crazies run riot in the capitol building.

Given all this, I still cannot comprehend why anyone would support this absolute scumbag. It has always been clear from the beginning that he does nothing but lie and make false promises that he'll never deliver on. He doesn't give a damn about anyone other than himself. He flushes his allies, employees and supporters down the toilet like yesterday's Big Mac, blaming them for his innumerable failures.

They are the American Carnage Trump promised us.

Some day, we can only hope, Trump supporters will realize they have been played and royally screwed by this animal. He is and always has been the very thing they claim to hate: the cosseted insider who manipulates the system in his own favor, repeatedly screwing over the people who got him there in the first place.

And then instead of rioting in the capitol, perhaps they'll have a few protests at Mar a Lago, or Trump Tower, or his lovely DC hotel, or at his several golf courses.

I Rest My Case

For many years, I've asserted that the right are domestic terrorists, traitors to our nation. Here is the incontrovertible evidence. 

In a couple of weeks, the Democrats will have total control of the federal government. I hope they Gitmo every single one of these fuckwits.