From the Economist:
WHEN the state accuses you of a crime and seizes your assets before trial, thus preventing you from hiring the counsel of your choice, what recourse do you have? That question is at the heart of Kaley v United States, a case the United States Supreme Court issued its decision on this week. The answer, worryingly, seems to be: None.
Bad Lip Reading does The Walking Dead again.
The Foo Fighters covered War Pigs on Letterman. Enjoy.
My favorite Jan Hooks bit ever:
Empire Online has an exhaustive and delightful retrospective up on The West Wing which is worth your time.
The closing quote is from Sorkin:
During one of our monthly cast lunches in the first season, Brad Whitford said, “No matter what we do from here on out, this show is the first line of our obits.” Martin, who was in Apocalypse Now, said, “I’m good with that”. Me too.
If you don’t have time for the whole thing (it’s long), DO make time for the 15 Things You Didn’t Know, which is fun despite the clickbaity headline.
So, it turns out you can comment out comment characters in SQL.
set IsDeleted=0, ExternalID=@externalID
9. Revolution 9, because if it’s not included some superannuated Beatlemania holdout somewhere will bitch about it.
8. 9mm, that most democratic of calibers.
6. The number of times Ferris Bueller was absent, which should be a lesson to us all.
5. The number of planets there REALLY are, at least for old folks like me, dammit.
4. Beethoven’s Ninth, which we all know by heart.
3. The best of the appeals courts, the Ninth.
2. i, the first person pronoun, square root of negative one, and NINTH LETTER.
1. NINE YEARS WITH MRS HEATHEN. Best nine of all, ever. I love you, Erin.
A number of right-wing-run states are refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses even in the wake of this week’s ruling, insisting that they won’t until forced.
Just go watch this right now (make time; it’s 16 minutes).
At this point, can basically just snatch anything they want from anyone they want — cash, cars, houses — and it’s on you to prove your property is NOT “guilty.”
tl;dr: They’re all mine, and before today were mostly all on my Flickr. I selected, obviously, for pics that might look interesting when cropped to the window available above. WordPress randomly selects one when the page is built, so you get a different one nearly every time.
This link is to a gallery of the full-size images, in the event you’re curious to see them, or their context. The oldest of them are from 2005, and were taken with a point-and-shoot.
Check this shit out. They’ve been smacked by the FCC to the tune of $600,000 for blocking personal wifi devices in a conference center in order to force people to use their overpriced service.
A spokesman for the hotel, Jeff Flaherty, had this bullshit to add:
“Marriott has a strong interest in ensuring that when our guests use our Wi-Fi service, they will be protected from rogue wireless hotspots that can cause degraded service, insidious cyber-attacks and identity theft,” he wrote in a statement without responding to Ars’ direct questions.
Midway through my ride tonight, I stopped to snap this:
That’s total miles on my Surly, which attentive readers will recall is actually my SECOND Surly, purchased in August of 2012.
Fun fact: According to Strava, 2,575 of those miles are since April of this year.
Eric Holder is upset that Apple and Google have gone to encryption-by-default, and would prefer they provide law enforcement back doors that I’m SURE would NEVER be compromised. He’s even relying on the “won’t someone think of the children” line, which is more or less a tell that a cop is overreaching.
Fuck. That. If people trusted the government not to snoop inappropriately, encryption like this wouldn’t be nearly as much of a hot-button topic. It’s the Feds’ own heavy-handed, extralegal, unconscionable tactics that have led companies like Apple and Google to employ encryption that they can’t circumvent.
Reap what you sow, jackass.
Remember all that tomfoolery about non-brands of whiskey pretending they make whiskey? Yeah, there’s a class action brewing against Templeton Rye based on their failure to honor labeling laws, specifically concerning where the whiskey is actually distilled.
If you have not seen last Sunday’s Simpsons Couch Gag, well, here’s your chance. It’s very, very weird and wonderful:
The onscreen text is brilliant:
AMUSEMENT IS CONTROL
HAIL HAIL MOON GOD WATCH WATCH YES YES
PUT IN THE EYE HOLE GROW LIKE PLANT
BEAM EPASODE NOW INTO EXO-SKULLS AND VIGOROUSLY TOUCH FLIPPERS
CONSUME NOW CONSUME IT RUB IT ON YOUR FLIPPERS
ALL ANIMALS CAN SCREAM
Florida cop tases a 62-year-old woman for no apparent reason. Well, there is a reason: she was questioning his actions, which were already looking pretty shady, and we all know bullies can’t tolerate that.
The police department promises “an internal investigation.”
Ginsburg was right:
One such matter is Perez v. Paragon Contractors, a case that arose out of a Department of Labor investigation into the use of child labor by members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (The F.L.D.S. church is an exiled offshoot of the Mormon Church.) In the case, Vernon Steed, a leader of the F.L.D.S. church, refused to answer questions by federal investigators, asserting that he made a religious vow not to discuss church matters. Applying Hobby Lobby, David Sam, a district-court judge in Utah, agreed with Steed, holding that his testimony would amount to a “substantial burden” on his religious beliefs—a standard used in Hobby Lobby—and excused him from testifying. The judge, also echoing Hobby Lobby, said that he needed only to determine that Steed’s views were “sincere” in order to uphold his claim. Judge Sam further noted that the government had failed to prove that demanding Steed’s testimony was not, in the words of the R.F.R.A., “the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.” That burden seems increasingly difficult for the government to meet.
Yeah, you read that right. A witness was excused from testifying about the possibly illegal practices of his church because it was against his religious beliefs to discuss internal church matters with outsiders.
(Finished July 30; I’m stupid behind on these posts.)
By now, everyone knows the name Edward Snowden, and what he did, and what he gave up to do what he did — and what challenges he may still face if the US government ever gets their hands on him. But do yourself a favor and read this book, because you really don’t know the whole story, and you really — still — have no idea how egregious the NSA’s behavior has been.
No Place to Hide is equal parts expose and thriller; the initial chapters detail how Greenwald was contacted by Snowden, and the tradecraft he had to learn in order to communicate with him. Snowden was very, very careful, and for good reason: as we’ve seen, his disclosures have been pretty explosive.
The second part of the story is Greenwald’s analysis of what’s been released so far: explaining the absurd, illegal, unconstitutional overreach of the surveillance in terms anyone can understand (and therefore be outraged by). These programs are ongoing, and are likely to remain issues in campaigns for some time to come, but we wouldn’t even know about them if it weren’t for Snowden.
The intelligence community is, obviously, totally bananas for all these programs, and why wouldn’t they be — it’s a spy’s wet dream to have access to this kind of data. But letting intelligence operatives decide where the line between “reasonable surveillance” and “criminally dangerous big brother shit” is a recipe for disaster.
Greenwald also gives us a pretty exhaustive history of surveillance, including a discussion of the effect this kind of “total information awareness” has on free (and not-so-free) societies. (Hint: it’s not good.)
Of course, the NSA isn’t acting in a vacuum here; there’s been a general failure of the press to act as a real check on government for a long, long time. Today, they so love their access that they’re completely unwilling to call out lies and bullshit. It’s much safer to regurgitate press releases without challenging anything. N.B. that it’s absolutely, unequivocally true that the Times knew about the wiretapping in 2004, before the election, and failed to tell anyone; something this explosive could have easily changed the election results.
But this is where we are: we have a powerful and craven intelligence (and law enforcement) community that views even dissent as unAmerican and dangerous even in the absence of actual wrongdoing or lawbreaking. This leads to a malignant expansion of state power, and cries out for someone to say something and at least begin the conversation in public about how much we’ll put up with. The press wasn’t doing it. Snowden and Greenwald have, and for that we all owe them a debt.
Say you’re asleep in your house. Say you’re awoken by some goon breaking into your home through a window, so you reach for your pistol to defend your home, property, and family. It is, after all, Texas; if a kid in a hoodie is threatening enough in Florida, then surely someone breaking into your house is threatening.
Gotcha! It was actually a no-knock marijuana raid (that found no drugs, and certainly found nothing to suggest the resident was a kingpin), and you just killed a cop! (A cop who has, posthumously, been awarded a Star of Texas by the governor.)
Oh, you’re also black, so it should come as no surprise that the prosecutor wants to kill you for having the unmitigated gall to defend your home against unknown intruders.
N.B. that nothing found in the raid was actionable at all. They’re trying to execute this guy for shooting at intruders. Which, of course, sounds a lot like another case I remember.
Oh, and further note that the Killeen cops were executing a no-knock, surprise warrant — basically, the most violent sort of raid — in pursuit of a drug now legal for personal use in two states. Whether or not this kind of violent, retrograde enforcement of pot prohibition is a good idea or good use of resources is left as an exercise to the reader.
An Ohio grand jury has refused to indict the (white) cops who gunned down an unarmed, unthreatening shopper in a Wal-Mart for committed the crime of “holding a toy gun while black.”
There is video evidence that he was doing absolutely nothing that could be construed as a threat. This was straight up murder, and it should surprise absolutely none of you that the cops will get off scott free.
Be aware of what events like this, with no actual consequences for the muderers, mean to a significant portion of the country. Recognize that displays like this and actions like this in the wake of such crimes make it very, very clear that a huge chunk of law enforcement think they’re doing absolutely nothing wrong.
This must change. The longer we allow this to go on, the more we fundamentally damage our society. Hold violent cops accountable, personally and criminally. Limit the powers of police to use force for no good reason. Create real consequences for overreach. End asset forfeiture. And stop recruiting ignorant bullies into LEOs.
I mean, seriously.
Do not give them your money.
This may be the best whisky commercial in the history of the world.
The St. Louis Police Academy, in evaluating the situation in Ferguson, has realized that cops are missing an important part of training, but in what can only be described as one of the best examples EVER of “learning the wrong lesson,” their response is to add a class on managing the media after they shoot people.
Herein, he absolutely destroys the craven, bullshit claims the Miss American organization makes about its “scholarship program.”
It’s a thing of beauty. Seriously, watch the whole thing.
As I noted before, there’s been a bit of an explosion in the bourbon and American whiskey market in the last few years. As a consequence, there’s lots of bullshit on the shelves — bottles made by marketers, full of sourced juice, with utterly fictional histories and backgrounds, positioned in such a way as to ABSOLUTELY mislead customers.
This is shitty behavior.
Fortunately, the liquor world is one of the first places to have gotten actual truth-in-labeling laws, and so the words on a liquor bottle actually MEAN something if you know what to look for.
Probably the most egregious label bullshit is hiding the provenance of the whiskey. N.B. that the word “produced” really just means “bottled.” If the bottle doesn’t say where it was distilled, then the odds are the marketers don’t want you to know. Pick another bottle; good whiskey is proud of where it comes from.
The next thing to look for is what the bottle claims it contains. The truly shitty operations will sell things like “spirit whiskey,” which is basically grain alcohol with some flavorings designed to mimic actual aged whiskey. This stuff is bullshit, and you should not buy it. Look for things that actually claim to be bourbon whiskey or rye whiskey.
But that doesn’t solve much; the “bourbon” name doesn’t mean as much as you think it does (for example, it doesn’t have to be from Kentucky). To be called bourbon, according to the Feds:
- Produced in the US
- The mash bill (mix of grain) must be 51% or more corn
- It must be distilled at less than 160 proof
- It must be age at 125 proof or below
- It must be aged in new, charred oak barrels
Note that there is no minimum aging required, nor is there anything about additives and flavorings. Adding shit to bourbon is completely legal, and shitty distillers and “producers” do it all the time.
The next step is what you need to look for: if it says “straight bourbon,” it can contain no additives and must be aged in those barrels for at least 2 years. Realistically, there’s no reason to buy something that isn’t straight.
A straight bourbon with no age statement on the bottle must be aged more than 4 years. (Oh, and the age statement must be the age of the youngest whiskey in the bottle; blending is okay, and is done all the time to produce a consistent product.)
A bourbon labeled “blended” may have coloring, flavoring, and other spirits (i.e., grain alcohol) added, but at least 51% of the product must be straight bourbon.
“Bottled in Bond” is an even more serious distinction. You won’t find a lot of marketing whiskey done this way, but (hilariously) the 1897 Bottled in Bond act was passed to regulate unscrupulous whiskey sellers who used coloring and flavoring and whatnot to dupe customers. Sound familiar?
BIB bourbon must meet all the requirements of straight bourbon, plus:
- It must be aged in a federally bonded warehouse for at least 4 years
- It must be bottled at 100 proof
- It must clearly state the identity of the distillery and, if different, the bottling location
- It must be the product of a single distilling season and one distiller at one distillery
Found over at Merlin’s joint:
[When Vonnegut tells his wife he’s going out to buy an envelope] Oh, she says, well, you’re not a poor man. You know, why don’t you go online and buy a hundred envelopes and put them in the closet? And so I pretend not to hear her. And go out to get an envelope because I’m going to have a hell of a good time in the process of buying one envelope. I meet a lot of people. And, see some great looking babes. And a fire engine goes by. And I give them the thumbs up. And, and ask a woman what kind of dog that is. And, and I don’t know. The moral of the story is, is we’re here on Earth to fart around. And, of course, the computers will do us out of that. And, what the computer people don’t realize, or they don’t care, is we’re dancing animals. You know, we love to move around. And, we’re not supposed to dance at all anymore.
And they absolutely do not care if you’re guilty or not. In fact, they’ll work miracles to incarcerate you or kill you. And there will be, of course, no consequences for railroading anybody.
- Consider the example of a man picked up for a minor drug possession charge who somehow managed to commit suicide with a gun undiscovered by two searches, and while his hands were cuffed behind is back!
- Or about about the sad tale of Tyree Threatt, who is facing charges for a mugging committed in June 27. However, the state admits that on the day in question, he was in jail. Never mind the alibi; make bail or sit in jail some more, because the prosecutors would rather “work it out at trial.”
They are absolutely right. Asset forfeiture is a major revenue source for LEOs nationwide, so there is little reason to expect a cop to do anything other than seize whatever they can get away with. They have the power to do so, even if no crime has been committed and no arrest made.
This is, of course, bullshit.
43-year-old Jens Voigt was successful in his Hour attempt, and blew the prior record of 49.700 kilometers out of the water with 51.115. That’s 31.761 miles.
Just by way of comparison, I’ll add a stat of my own. I am an enthusiastic amateur, nowhere nearly the fastest person I ride with, but I’ll put this out there: GarminConnect tracks a few metrics, and one of them is your best time over 40km, which is 24.85 miles.
My PR over that distance, set during the Katy Flatland ride in July, is 1:14:46, at an average speed of 19.9MPH. Voigt covered 40 kilometers today in a hair under 47 minutes.
Seriously, go read this whole thing.
He’s going for the Hour.
The Hour record in cycling is simple: how far can you ride in a single hour on a track bike? It’s done inside, alone, on a velodrome, and is more than a little bananas. Eddy Merckx set a record in 1972 that stood for twelve years; the current record is 30.9 miles, set in 2005 by Ondrej Sosenka, is only about a fifth of a mile farther than Eddy.
Velo News has more, including his playlist.
The increasing militarization of American police forces is a dangerous trend that will have real consequences for our democracy if we do not curtail it.
Somehow, I made it 44 years without every really paying attention to the day to day differences in the time the sun sets. My agrarian ancestors would be horrified, I’m sure, but for most of my working life the only real question was “is it going to be light outside when I leave the office?”
In the summer, the answer is yes.
In the winter, the answer is no.
And for most of my life, that’s all I noticed.
But a couple months ago, I started riding with a group at West End on Tuesdays and Thursdays; the ride starts at 6:30, which is much earlier than the rides I’d done in the past. This summer has been great for my cycling; I’ve lost weight and gotten stronger, both of which have made me faster. The route to the ride doesn’t change, so I could gauge my progress by what time I pass certain points, and especially what time I get home.
The first thing I noticed was that my “great ride” finish time got closer and closer to 8:00; a couple times, I even got home BEFORE 8.
The second thing I noticed was that not only did I never turn on my headlight, but most of the riders I was with didn’t even bother to bring one. Sure, if you took breaks and didn’t plan to finish until the bottom half of the 8:00 hour, you’d need one, but if you mashed hard and kept moving you really didn’t need to bother at all in June (earliest sunset: 8:17, on the first), or in July (8:15, on the 31st)
Of course, after July 1, days start getting shorter again, and by mid-August I was using my headlight on the last parts of the ride even though I was finishing at the same time.
I started to wonder — never having bothered to care before — about the rate at which the day was getting shorter. I’d blithely assumed the change was linear at first, but there’s every reason for it not to be. It’s just that I never had cause to notice it before because I’d never been outside consistently during the time in question.
Being a giant nerd, I went looking for data. It wasn’t hard to find. This month the changes from Tuesday to Thursday, and especially from Thursday to the following Tuesday, have been especially pronounced; the table quantifies it, but in a way I didn’t anticipate.
The surprise was that yes, the acceleration IS there in the last half of the year — but it had already happened. Each day in September is about 1:45 shorter than the previous one; there’s almost no variance at all. The first was 1:44 shorter than the last day of August, and the 30th will be 1:46 shorter than the 29th.
The giant jumps happened two months ago. July first was only 22 seconds shorter than the last day of June, but by the end of the month the delta had ballooned to 1:17. The change in August wasn’t as huge, but it’s still much bigger than September: 1:19 on August 1 to 1:42 on the 31st.
I just didn’t NOTICE until September, because (a) the average day-to-day change in July is so much smaller and (b) if I’m honest, I admit that the need to use my headlight made me much more conscious of the rate of change.
But those big bites in September really do drive the point home. There’s only about a nine minute difference in daylight between July 1 and July 31, but those 1:45 changes add up quick in September. The 30th is more than half an hour shorter than the first.
My ride on the 11th had three and a half minutes less sunlight than my ride on the 9th, just two days before. My ride tonight will have nearly NINE minutes less sunlight than my ride Thursday.
tl;dr: Orbits and seasons, man.
If you don’t love this, I’m not sure we can be friends.
GOP block paycheck fairness bill. Not a single Republican broke party lines to vote for it.
The short version is that Minneapolis man has, for some reason (and there’s no reason to assume it’s a valid reason), been placed on the “extra scrutiny” list by the TSA — but they somehow managed to forget to give him the third degree before boarding. So, obviously, the logical thing to do is screen him after the flight.
Fortunately, the passenger simply refused to comply and walked away, since the TSA has no power to detain you. (They did threaten to call the Denver police and have him arrested, which is remarkable in and of itself, and entirely aside from the fact that it’s a completely empty threat.) And, of course, the DHS and TSA won’t actually discuss why this man is on the extra scrutiny list, even with the man himself, so there’s no way to resolve the situation.