drwex: (Default)
Try to keep this quote in your head for the next four years:
[A] plaintiff seeking compensatory relief must have suffered an injury-in-fact, that is fairly traceable to the defendant's challenged conduct, and that is likely to be redressed by a favorable judicial decision.

This quote relates to whether or not someone is eligible to bring a case - called having "standing". It's a test that every court is to use on whether the complaint brought by a plaintiff can be decided on its merits. Many cases don't go forward because the people involved are judged to lack standing to bring the complaint, and it's why organizations seeking to set significant precedents (e.g. equal marriage) wait until they have plaintiffs with good standing arguments.

This is relevant today because there's a lot of - to be frank - bafflegab about suing Trump for this or that violation. Take one example: I think it's reasonably well established that he's arguably violating, say, the Emoluments Clause of the US Constitution. I say "arguably" because such a case would have to be argued in a court of law, decided, and appealed likely all the way to the Supreme Court. There's very little caselaw and relevant precedent about this clause. People who tell you that Trump obviously is or is not violating that clause are engaged in political speech, not legal speech.

What matters, though, is that we're extremely unlikely to see Trump actually brought to trial. Trump's various businesses are likely to continue to be sued - a hazard of any business operation - but Trump himself is not likely to appear in court, even leaving aside the question of Presidential immunity to legal actions. The reason being that it's going to be very hard to show that there is a plaintiff who has suffered the kind of cognizable harm described in the quote.

Let's take the worst possible interpretation of things for Trump: foreign powers deliberately steer their agents and tourists and visitors to stay at Trump properties, golf at Mar a Lago, and so on. The foreign government pays the bills for these things and the profits go directly into Trump's pockets. That would seem to be almost definitionally what a violation of the Emoluments Clause would look like. But who is harmed by that?

The average American? We may be outraged at the President's behavior, but outrage is not standing. A competitor? They might argue a business loss due to such an arrangement, to which Trump's lawyers simply shrug and say "prove it - prove that you would have gotten the business in different circumstances." There may exist a marketplace where a Trump business competes head-to-head with only one other, but in general someone who doesn't stay at a Trump hotel has a wide array of other choices. Ditto golfing or whatever. For any competitor to have standing they'd have to show that Trump's conduct led to their injury. All Trump did was plaster his name on his hotels, which he did well before the election, and let the dough roll in. What conduct, specifically, could the courts remedy?

In fact, I don't think anyone - even Trump's ardent opponents - would argue that customers should be prevented from staying at Trump properties. The problem is really that those monies are going into the President's pockets with, presumably, resulting influence flowing back to the paying foreign entity. That's what the Emoluments Clause was meant to stop.

That brings us back to the only actual check on the President's behavior - the Legislative branch. Violations of the Emoluments Clause could well form part of any articles of impeachment. The odds on that happening are, effectively, zero. And even if they did they're not a lawsuit and not subject to the rules of standing I'm discussing.

We might debate how this highlights a flaw in the US system of governance but even if we preempt the debate and just agree that it is, it's not going to change anytime soon. So the next time you hear or read someone banging on about how Trump should be sued for this-or-that I suggest you do what I do and skip on to the next thing because unless they're a law expert on the level of Professor Tribe they likely have no clue what they're banging on about.
drwex: (Default)
Amid the insanity of a 130+ day Gish Gallop that's still emanating from the dumpster fire it's hard to keep a handle on the idea that there are actual facts to be reviewed and data to be analyzed. Let's turn for a moment to one such story:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2017/06/05/its-time-to-bust-the-myth-most-trump-voters-were-not-working-class/?utm_term=.112ef36b9f08

This weekend, the Post's Nicholas Carnes and Noam Lupu put together another attempt to bust the "working class for Trump" meme. This has been one of the most popular stories since the election - or even the campaign. The story has been fueled by the fact that the machine Democrats as I ranted yesterday picked a candidate who seemed to have no ability to connect with actual working-class (blue collar especially) voters.

Carnes and Lupu put it directly - most primary Trump voters were affluent, and so were his election-day supporters. Data show that only about 1/3 of his support came from people who have household incomes below USD 50,000 - the current median. A similar number (1/3) had household incomes above $100k. That holds true particularly for non-Hispanic white voters, supposedly the core of Trump's support.

Carnes and Lupu also looked at education levels - Trump voters were reported famously to be people without college degrees. True, but a broader analysis shows that something like 70% of all Republican voters don't have college degrees. Trump drew voters from the high-school educated in line with the voting membership of that party.

Bottom line: the "prototypical" white non-Hispanic voter without a college degree who makes below the median income accounts for only 25% of Trump's vote tally. This "prototype" is a creation of (imo) lazy media looking for an easy story and angry supporters of other candidates looking for an easy scapegoat. Reality, as usual, is more nuanced than easy and if we're going to get rid of this cancer before it kills us we need to start by getting rid of bad myths.
drwex: (Default)
(slightly modified from a post by Cory Doctorow)

Dear Liberals, Independents, and principled Conservatives
In 2020 there will be a candidate competing against Donald Trump for President. It is very likely this candidate:
  1. Isn't your first choice

  2. Isn't 100% ideologically pure

  3. Has made mistakes

  4. Might not really excite you all that much

  5. Has ideas you are uncomfortable with

Please start the process of getting over that shit now instead of waiting until 2020.

Dear Democratic Establishment
In 2020 we will need to choose a candidate to fight Trump, an actual threat to the survival of the human race. So you might be tempted (again) to ask America to vote for a warmongering, banker-friendly, more-of-the-same candidate, on the theory that we'll vote for the candidate who makes people like you rich as fuck rather than enduring four more years of Trump, even if that candidate is terrible in every way except for not being Trump.

That is a hell of a gamble, and it could literally cost us the only planet we have. Knock that shit off.

Democrats have no future as the "at least we're not Trump" party. Get used to it. You have two whole years; use them wisely.

No love,
Me
drwex: (pogo)
I find a lot of commentary falling into the duality of "if it's not awesome, it sucks; if it didn't suck it must be awesome." I went into this movie with low expectations and sky-high hopes. It beat expectations but didn't meet my hopes. 3/5 stars

As usual, I can't talk about a number of the problems without spoilers so let me get the non-spoiler stuff up front. This review is divided into
the good )
---------- Below here be spoilers, at least one major; go see the movie then come read this and tell me what you think
the bad )
---------- below here be more spoilers; have you seen the movie yet? No, seriously, go see it. I'm about to spoil the ending.
the problematic )
drwex: (Troll)
The Supreme Court just issued a really important ruling that, at first glance, looks to be about obscure issues in patenting. In reality it affects all of us who have ever re-sold an item we purchased, including things like cars, phones, etc.

tl;dr SCOTUS[1] unanimously slapped down yet another wrong-headed ruling from the CAFC[2] and as a result you do not have to worry about being sued by some random corporation just because you resell something you own.

first some background )
Now in this case )
So what happens now? )
I'm sure that later today will bring more bad news from the dumpster fire in Washington but it was nice to get a big chunk of something good this morning so I figured I'd write about that.

[1] Supreme Court of the United States. Highest court of the country.
[2] Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Was set up to relieve some of the load on SCOTUS in dealing with intellectual property cases. It ought to be the final stop for such cases, but CAFC has been issuing decisions that have leaned heavily toward more restrictions and more favoritism to big rights-holder interests. They also have a long history of getting slapped down because their decisions can be appealed to SCOTUS and they almost always get reversed. Which they then proceed to ignore, but that's another story entirely.
drwex: (Default)
Another numbered list, all vaguely related.

1. In a few days it will be my birthday and I'm asking people to help me make that meaningful by helping others. Yes, I'm asking for money (for Oxfam) and that's not a reasonable thing for lots of people. If it's not on your list please help me spread the word.

2. Soon it will be the Jewish holiday of Shavuot - for most Jews who observe, it will start at sundown tonight. It marks the anniversary of the giving of the Torah (the laws, commandments, and history) by G-d on Mt. Sinai. Traditionally, Jews read the Ten Commandments in synagogue on this holiday, as they were read in the desert originally. It's also associated with eating dairy foods, because all Jewish holidays are about food in some way. HIAS, the Jewish-focused refugee support organization I'm looking to work with, sent out a reminder wishing people a "meaningful" Shavuot.

It's not the first time I've heard this phrase but it's one I like, as a mostly non-observant Jew. I recognize that people perform a wide variety of religious rituals for various reasons and I hope that anyone who does that is able to find meaning in those observances.

3. This morning I avoided serious injury or perhaps death through fate or fortune or random chance - take your pick. I was walking the dog, as I do, on the sidewalk. A landscaping truck coming from behind me was well over the median line, which forced an oncoming truck to swerve quite wide to avoid colliding. In swerving, the avoiding truck went well up onto the sidewalk, a few meters in front of me. Had I been those few meters farther forward I would have been struck by this truck.

As it was I just got my hair mussed by the wind and my day's worth of adrenaline in a few seconds. It was literally over and gone before I could even start shaking.
drwex: (Default)
I was floored waking up to the news that Gianforte - despite assaulting a reporter - won his election. I hope they put this f*cker away and he can not show up to vote for anything more horrid because he's in a jail cell. This is who we have become: the worst of American bullying and thuggery and violence.

More than ever I'm convinced that Trump is the symptom, not the cause. His presence and words and behavior legitimize and embolden this kind of fascist violence, and the islamophobic violence we saw enacted at airports in the wake of the travel bans, and the racist violence we are seeing across the country as immigration officials go after the brown-skinned who might possibly be in the country without proper papers. But that seething hatred, that fascism, racism, sexism, and *phobia was there before. Now it has the upper hand - it's emboldened.

I find myself deeply depressed. Fortunately, Jay Smooth to the rescue: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLMF4FxXhbI

There's a URL at the end of the video but I'd like to point out that Jay Smooth now has a Patreon and if you are a fan of his critique and commentary, if you find his insights as useful as I do, you can now show your support as I have by becoming a patron.
drwex: (Default)
I deeply understand why many of the creative people I know are finding it hard to create in this environment. I don't think of myself as particularly creative, but so much of my brain-space is consumed by what's happening to the country and people I love that there's not a huge amount of room for other things. Look it's more numbered points.

1. https://www.facebook.com/FromBusinessToButtons/videos/vb.319214441472944/1424883597572684/?type=2&theater
(Sorry that's a Facebook URL; I couldn't find another. Also the sound quality is bad.) This is Mike Monteiro continuing to be f-bomb laden and in-your-face (if you're a designer) about the idea that ethics are not optional and how it's our job to fight fascism. He's not wrong - design is the gatekeeper to a whole lot of things and if you think about our problems as bad design solutions then you get to think about better designs.

2. Like Monteiro I remain weirdly optimistic. I see people getting energized, women running for office for the first time, and the strong likelihood that the complacent wing of the Democratic party is going to get a swift kick in its lazy ass. All good things. Arguably these are shining stars in a night sky of black-hearted evil but that's OK, I'll take it. I think we're not going to have a President Pence anytime soon, nor do I think we're heading for the sort of full-blown Constitutional crisis that seemed likely a bit ago. I don't think Drumph is going to launch nukes, but I do think we're likely to see more pretextual acts for ongoing violent distractions.

This lull is likely to last until the special counsel's report comes out, at which point I expect ALL the shit to hit the fan. Meanwhile, they still can't stop the signal - latest being that Congress is fighting Flynn's attempt to shield documents. Flynn-the-person can't be compelled to testify but his corporation doesn't have 5th Amendment protection.

I'm starting to be reminded of the proverb about "for want of a nail" which is sometimes attributed to Benjamin Franklin (see the entry at Goodreads Quotes). I can't imagine that Trump ever thought "gee if I fire this guy it'll bring the whole house of cards down" but that may well be what he gets.

3. I am also reminded of "Nixon's Spirit" from Paul Oakenfold. I wanted to find a version with lyrics but could not. Basically it's a spoken word piece from Hunter S Thompson over Oakenfold's music. Thomson is talking about the damage done to the late 20th century by Richard Nixon. When Thompson says, "You don't even have to know who Nixon was to be affected by his ugly Nazi spirit" I hear relevance to today. Trump, like Nixon, disgraces and degrades the office of President. That may not be a thing we ordinarily care about but it's going to matter, soon.

Think hard about whether you'd rather have crippled ineffectual President Trump or active engaged President Pence in charge between now and 2020. I can't definitively say one would be more damaging than the other. While my heart dearly longs to see Trump scurrying away in the dead of night like the diseased cur he is I fear what would happen in his wake.

4. I am UTTERLY BAFFLED by people who refuse to understand that the attack on the Ariana Grande concert was an attack that targeted women, young girls, and LGBTQ persons. Those are her fans. This asshole didn't drive a truck into a random crowd; he strapped on a bomb and picked a specific concert venue when a specific person was playing. It's like saying that the 9/11 attacks didn't target Americans because non-Americans were also killed. Yes, true, but those attacks targeted Americans. When we come to understand this attacker's motivations I will be floored if we fail to find misogyny and homophobia high among them.

5. I am still capable of being completely elated by seeing my child happy. I'll write more if I can catch up on updates.
drwex: (Default)
Or, why I'm a First Amendment fundamentalist. [profile] jducouer pointed to this article from Yonatan Zunger. As often with Zunger, it's a bit long but very well thought-out and worth your time to read. It just happens to be wrong*.

"wrong*" is a shorthand I use for not factually incorrect but that does not hold up to detailed scrutiny. People can disagree whether something is wrong* while still agreeing on fundamental principles and factual bases. In this case I think Zunger is wrong* in part because he's avoiding the hard part of his argument and in part because he's not considering enough points of view.

Zunger starts off agreeing with ZoƩ Samudzi who made the claim that "...implicit incitement to violence via hate speech is protectable" and identifies this as a weakness. Zunger elaborates that the reason such things ought not to be protected is because hate speech, which he equates with harassment "silence[s] the weak and amplif[ies] the powerful." That's the first wrong* thing. Harassment, a specifically targeted attack, is not the same as hate speech.

I'm not even going to address defending harassment. I know people do defend it, but they're wrong (not even wrong*). Both in law and case precedent, harassment is not protected speech. So that leaves us with a discussion of hate speech. Zunger argues that hate speech amplifies existing social asymmetries - the targets of hate speech are most often people (women, people of color, people of different gender expressions and orientation) that already have unequal burdens just in daily living. "Talking while female" and "driving while black" are actual expressions of the systemic factors that disadvantage leads to. We want to counter that, so let's take seriously a point that a system (of free speech in this case) promotes that disadvantage.

Hate speech, Zunger argues, "has the particular ability to shut down speech by minority groups more than that by majority groups." True. The question is, what do you do about that? Zunger's answer is fuzzy and he doesn't really suggest a way to deal with the problem saying things like "Devising good speech policy is profoundly hard" and "the law must wrestle with this hard problem, and try to place a meaningful dividing line". Which, I'm arguing, is exactly what it does right now, where it comes down permitting a wide array of distasteful and offensive speech.

Having shied away from one hard question it's easy to see how Zunger has shied away from an even harder question, which is why I think his view is wrong*. Ask yourself:
What constitutes "hate speech"? What is "implicit incitement"?

My guess is that you, my mostly white mostly American mostly liberal readers will come up with answers similar to mine. It's no coincidence that Zunger illustrates his article with a comic of Captain America punching a Nazi. We all agree Nazis are bad and antisemitism (and its dual Islamophobia) are bad and that's it. Right? Easy. Done.

Except, what do you say to someone who believes that your insult to their religion is hate speech? What do you say to the person who believes their king is an incarnate god and any statement portraying that person or their family as less than divinely perfect is implicit incitement? What do you say to the person who honestly believes that the Bible is the literal word of G-d and any statement questioning that is an attack on par with saying that women are inferior creatures fit only to bear children? That latter is clearly hate speech so what allows us to restrict that and not restrict someone who questions whether Jesus literally rose from the dead?

Other people see things differently[1]. An attempt to define hate speech in a way that can be applied outside our (first world, white, etc.) preconception circle has to acknowledge that difference or we are simply imposing our views on everyone. Without a clear description of "implied incitement" you are left in a situation where no one can know if their speech is to be permitted, except perhaps if it's cleared by The Group Appointed To Check Speech for Hatred and Implied Incitement. Please tell me who gets to be part of that Group - I'm quite sure it won't be freaks like me but I'm curious to know your selection process. I'm also quite certain that any situation that requires speech to be pre-cleared is going to be far worse for the people who are unfairly targeted and harassed today. History shows that when you have to pre-clear things you get prohibited from stuff like publishing poems about gay love, or comics showing interracial kissing. And on and on. It's not like we're new at this.

Zunger says that the "marketplace of ideas" requires regulation. I agree; we have those. And for very good reasons our chosen regulations target harassment and not hate speech, prohibit actual incitement not implied. The US used to have sedition laws and other things that kept free expression down. We've spent the better part of the last century learning - often the hard way (sorry Eugene Debs) - that these restrictions are generally a bad idea.

So I think it's wrong* to equate harassment and hate speech. I think it's wrong* to slip "implied" in front of incitement while pretending they're the same thing. and most of all it's wrong to assume that everyone shares the same speech values and ideals as we do.

[1] If you have not already read it I highly recommend Bruce Sterling's short story titled We See Things Differently.
drwex: (Python)
You may know I enjoy Indian foods, among them allo mutter - peas and potatoes, basically. I've often said that if I was forced to be vegetarian for the rest of my life I'd likely eat nothing but Indian food. Anyway, I've looked at that phrase more hundreds of times than I can count and it was only today that my brain produced:

Aloo mutter
Aloo fadduh
Here I am at
Camp Granada

You're welcome.

(If you have no idea what I'm banging on about, start with Wikipedia if you must, but it's generally more fun to listen than to read.)
drwex: (WWFD)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vDLFItfX9Jw

When I posted originally about the issues I want to focus on in my #Resistance I noted that climate change fell just a bit below the cut-off threshold. That was mostly because I feel we need an open and informed news and cultural debate in order for people to understand and advance the work on refugee and LGBTQ issues I care most about. Needing to help with that work in order to do the work on my top two issues meant I felt full up.

So work to preserve net neutrality obviously falls above this line. But so in general does work on free speech, freedom to assemble, and freedom to promulgate the truth. That includes the need to advance and improve scientific understanding. Neil deGrasse Tyson goes farther, as the subject pull quote says. He argues that while it's fine for everyone to have an opinion - indeed, it's our Constitution-granted right - when those in power deny scientific evidence, when they speak anti-science, and when they fail to realize that cutting off scientific research means handing the future of our society to someone else, that's an existential threat.
drwex: (Default)
https://my.oxfamamerica.org/AWbday

Normally a birthday is about the person celebrating the occasion. This year I'd like my birthday to be about one of my chosen issues.

With the help of Oxfam I'm putting out a request for money. If you're the sort who cares about food shortages, meeting the needs of refugees around the world, and who would consider doing something for my birthday please visit this URL. It's the home page for my birthday fundraising campaign. If you would normally get me something please consider giving that money to Oxfam. If money isn't your thing please help me by spreading the word. Obviously this appeal is to my friends and family and people who care about my natal anniversary but anyone who feels moved as I do can join in.

Sharing the things I care deeply about is one of the best birthday presents I can imagine.
drwex: (Default)
All of the following are things rattling around in my brain that I might develop into posts but likely not. So I'm going to write down some thoughts and see what I think of them in a few days:

  • The Trump Administration has yet to suffer a crisis that was not of its own making. I am actually terrified of what's going to happen when they have to deal with a serious external issue. The closest thing is the Soviet violation of the INF treaty, which started at least as far back as 2014 but since the Russians aren't launching missiles at anyone we care about it's been swept under the rug by two administrations now. Reports shortly after Drumph took office indicated that Russia had deployed the treaty-breaking missiles but that story has fallen so far below the WTF level I don't think anyone remembers it now. This Administration appears incapable of walking and chewing gum at the same time; heaven help us when they have to manage external crises and govern at the same time.

  • The almost blase' attitude that the major media has taken to the WannaCry ransomware attack contrasts strongly with the massive freak-outs that we (collectively) have to Islamic terrorist attacks, even when both things happen in the same not-US countries. I feel there's a current of racism here. Islamic people often have brown skins and are clearly not like us. Crackers are often white kids from the US or Europe (though fingers are pointing at North Korea this time) so we imagine them as being more like us. Objectively, the attacks on medical and other important records poses a much greater threat to life and safety than any terrorist shooting. But we hand-wave it. Yes, there are elements of "technology is complicated and explosions are easy to understand" but I fear that unexamined racism plays a large part in these disparate reactions.

  • "Can't stop the signal" (Firefly) has been in my head the last few weeks. Every attempt to quash the story leads to more revelations. It's not just a Streisand effect where more people know about a thing because someone tried to suppress it. But, like, if Comey had never been fired would we even know that Trump had asked him to stop investigating Flynn? That said, it's wise to remember that this view is not universal. For shits and grins try flipping back and forth to, say, Faux News. They seem neither to know nor care about this story. I think "bubbles" is too simplistic a way to talk about this. Maybe Lakoff's "Don't Think of an Elephant" is better - people have these built-up frames and those things structure all of reality. In Reality Frame A, the administration is in crashing disarray and discussion of impeachment is reasonable. In Reality Frame B those things don't exist or aren't important and some other narrative dominates. Lakoff had some ideas for how to work with people who have very different or incompatible reality frames but I don't see anyone trying to apply that seriously today.

  • I am being reminded how much I prefer the question "Did we do the right thing?" to the question "Did we do things the right way?"


What thoughts are occupying your brain-space these days?
drwex: (WWFD)
https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap170515.html

Reminder: Mother Nature do not give a sh*t what the Jackass-in-Chief is doing. She remains the coolest ever.
drwex: (Default)
even if someplace as established as NPR (Morning Edition) gets them wrong.

Assuming for a moment that the Post story is correct and Trump bragged about something secret to his Russian cronies...

No, it is not actually a violation of any law I can find. It's stupid and incompetent but anyone who didn't know Trump was those things is not going to wake up now. The US President is the ultimate authority on classification levels. He can declassify things at will. There is some pushback against retroactive classification (*) but there is no higher authority on removing classification. Trump has been bleating about how he has "every right" to share this information. Nobody said you didn't have the right, Jackass. We just said it was a really dumb idea.

If it's not illegal, then what's wrong with it? From analyses I've read there are three big problems here:

  1. Trump revealed **to the Russians** information that has not been shared with our allies. Bet that makes them feel good! This is directly damaging to our relationships with those countries.

  2. The information was apparently not developed by US agencies. It was (reportedly) shared with us by a friendly other-national security agency. Longstanding tradition is that if one country shares something it gets a say in how that information is passed along. This is one of the bases of the "five eyes" intelligence-sharing agreement that was highlighted in the Snowden papers. It's also a basis for other non-five countries sharing intelligence with us and if they think Trump is going to spill stuff stupidly to the Russians then they're not going to share with us anymore. That's direct damage to the capabilities of the US intelligence system.

  3. The information apparently contains enough specificity that the Russians can backtrack its source. According to The Post this included the name of the city where the threat was detected. This is where NPR (and others) fell down. When quoting National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster people are focusing on his claim that reports are "false". It's important to read exactly what McMaster said because he's choosing his words carefully:
    At no time were intelligence sources or methods discussed, and the president did not disclose any military operations that were not already publicly known

    But nobody I know has said anything about military operations - that's a flat-out red herring, and most people aren't saying that Trump directly disclosed sources or methods. So technically McMaster is correct, but he's doing what spooks always do, which is muddy the waters and create plausible deniability.


  4. Now the question is whether this rises to the level of impeachable offense. In a Post op-ed, Harvard Law professor Tribe listed a number of potential grounds for impeachment. Now we have the possibility that Trump's actions amount to treason, one of the few crimes enumerated in the Constitution. Specifically "...adhering to [the United States'] Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort." There's not a lot of good caselaw here, one of the reasons Congress specifically passed laws making it illegal to assist a listed terrorist organization. That law, not treason law, has been used in most of the modern "giving aid and comfort" cases. So that leaves us with impeachment.

    Both Nixon and Clinton were targeted by Articles of Impeachment introduced by hostile (other-party-controlled) Houses. To my knowledge no sitting President has ever had their own party file such Articles against them. I don't expect it to happen now. Look at how quickly Republicans closed ranks around Trump over Comey's firing, despite the blatant lies involved. Republicans won't agree on a special prosecutor or even the much weaker Select Committee that McCain keeps trying to push. People who think Trump is losing support or that the Republicans will turn on him are putting too much hope in too little substance, I think. All the signs point to him surviving this one, too.

    I still think the odds are better than 50% that he won't finish his full term, but there will have to be something really seismic to flip that switch. A major Republican loss in the '18 elections or the FBI producing an actual smoking gun would be my first two candidates right now, but I can't rule out Trump doing something so incredibly awful as to bring himself down. However, it's worth bearing in mind that all through his presidential candidacy people kept predicting that his blunders and bombast would be his downfall, yet they weren't. Experience does not lean on the side of those thinking Trump will bring himself down; thus, I expect it'll be something external.


    (*) The Progressive atom-bomb story case is a good example (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._The_Progressive,_Inc.) Although the government withdrew its appeal most observers thought they would continue to lose in their attempts to classify retroactively material that the magazine had found on library shelves and assembled.
drwex: (VNV)
This post will discuss rape and sexual assault. If you're not OK with reading that, it's under a cut tag. If you're wondering why I (cis, able, white guy) am writing about this topic at all it's because I am determined that my children (male-bodied) are going to go out into the world with a lot more awareness and understanding of both their privilege and responsibility than my parents gave me.

As with other such posts I am particularly interested in responses from my female-bodied and -identified readers but all respectful comments and discussion are welcome.
They say hard cases make bad law )

"What does that mean" is the teenage equivalent of the preschooler's "why".
drwex: (Default)
I've caught up on reading now, so let me try to catch up on writing, some. The previous April post only covered the first few days of the month

In between there was the saga of the disappearing child, which is long and gets its own cut tag:
Read more... )

Then there was Passover, which got its own post eventually.

That brings us to mid-April, when we took a family trip to eastern PA.
Read more... )

The next weekend was intended to be the Boston version of the March for Science, but that seemed to be the "stand around for science" and there were other things and I ended up not going. I still feel ambivalent about that. I'm really failing to find a resistance group or activity that holds my attention and interest and lets me feel like I'm DOING something. I call my Rep now and then to congratulate and encourage him; most recently for continuing to try and get some measure of truth around the Trump team's involvement with Russia. There's so much going on (wrong) that it's easy to lose sight of the things I think are important. Like, is anyone else in the current Administration subject to blackmail or actively suborned by the Russians? Like, how the hell do we stop them upgefukking the next election?

More to come...
drwex: (Troll)
I have a general rule that films with the same person serving as both writer and director will be better than splitting those visions. There are lots of good movies with different writers than directors but also lots of bad. There are fewer bad in my experience with one writer/director. That said, this was too long, poorly written, and disappointing. 3/5, saved from 2/5 because Gamora.

One of the things that should've been a clue for this movie's problems is the lack of a subtitle. Every other Marvel-universe sequel I can think of has had a subtitle that tells you what the movie is going to be about. Think "Age of Ultron" or "The Winter Soldier". Now pause for a moment and try to come up with the three- or four-word subtitle that would describe this movie. I can't think of one because the movie doesn't have a focus. It would be something like "we try really hard to do more of the same stuff and be funny at it." Or "Isn't Baby Groot Really Cute?"

Yes, Groot is cute. No, the movie isn't really funny. The movie lacks anything like a coherent plot but let's put all the complete spoilers under the cut tag...
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No one expects a sequel to be as good as the original. The first GotG was so off-the-wall, so out of character for all the other Marvel Universe movies, that they had to sell you on the idea that it was Marvel universe. And that movie was great. Likewise, I expect the next Deadpool movie will have a hard time living up to the original. But GotG 2 suffers from a lot more than sequel-itis. It suffers from a bad script that drags everything else down.

I don't fault Chris Pratt for being wooden, nor Kurt Russel for being ridiculous. But that's what the script makes their characters be.
drwex: (VNV)
especially if you have, have had, or will have school-aged children, please consider adding your name to this petition to set Massachusetts Middle and High School start times to 8:30 AM or later.

We have had two children go through this. One managed/manages it, but would enjoy life more if it wasn't a requirement. The other is just not coping with school starting at 7:30.

There is reasonable scientific evidence that these hours are not beneficial for children, particularly as they approach puberty. And frankly it'd just be a lot less stress on parents.

Thanks for your consideration.
drwex: (WWFD)
At my work conference this past week the conversation turned to getting information about... well, everything. I reeled off some of the list of things I know I can ask my friends about - cooking and enterprise software and cosmology and game design and gardening and preservation and economic theory and lots more I'm forgetting off the top of my head. My coworkers were suitably impressed but I don't consider myself to have all that diverse of a social circle.

For myself, I'm always pleased to (and spend time on Quora to) answer questions about intellectual property as well as design and user experience. I do UX for a living, and have for many years; I also used to blog on IP (mostly copyright) and consider myself a knowledgeable amateur. But I bet there's a lot you folk know that I don't know about.

So, dear readers, what are you happy to answer questions about?

Feel free to leave a comment here, or post an entry in your own journal talking about what you like to discuss and how you came to have this knowledge. I am ever curious.

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drwex

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