Tuesday, August 31, 2010

on "Constitutional Lawyers" and expertise

Recently I left a comment at Susan's blog concerning her reference to Glenn Greenwald as a "Constitutional lawyer." I mentioned that calling one's self a "Constitutional lawyer" is a sales pitch, not a statement of expertise.

Lawyers don't get board certified in a specialty like medical doctors. We can't go around calling ourselves Constitutional lawyers unless that's a distinct area of expertise recognized by and within our professional group, not honestly. We can do it as a sales pitch to gain business, but it's stretching things to call one's self a "Constitutional lawyer" in most every case I can imagine.

On a prior occasion I roasted Greenwald pretty heavily with a cartoon at PRN. In that cartoon I joked that he gained "Constitutional law" expertise by arguing for 1st A freedom of expression injuries in people whose hair had been damaged by defective hair care products. The hyperbole shouldn't have to be explained, it's making a point by gross exaggeration... but the point is basically that most lawyers encounter Constitutional issues as ancillary to one or more of the major disputes that comprise the lawsuits they work on. Even in-house lawyers at newspapers will spend lots of time working on non-Constitutional issues, things like employment issues, contractual work, general corporate work. And that is so even though a newspaper's operation pivots on the First Amendment being consistently interpreted as respecting freedom of the press... which suggests the First Amendment is always somehow a live issue in the daily operations of newspapers.

In my years as a lawyer I worked about 75% of the time on insurance matters. I worked on interpretation of insurance policies, interpretation of insurance laws and regulations, disputes of insurance coverage, disputes among insurers engaged in layers of reinsurance, disputes among reinsurers who are on the hook for an insolvent insurance company's risks. I've done derivative insurance coverage work through a state's guaranty fund operation. I've argued appeals regarding the intersection of an insurance policy's coverage language, a statute governing the property-liability insurance guaranty association's quasi-coverage obligations, and the prioritization of payment to people owed money by a now-insolvent insurance carrier.

However, if people ask me what I do, I don't say I'm an "Insurance lawyer." Insurance itself is about contracts, mostly. So I'd more accurately be a contract lawyer, or maybe a statutory/regulatory lawyer where I'm not a contract lawyer.

I could say I"m an "Appellate lawyer" because I've worked on several appeals, one of them resulting in a published case where the Court used language and analysis from my appellate brief in its opinion rationale. But I don't.

I've worked on Constitutional issues. Maybe I am a "Constitutional lawyer" after all.

I've also been an insurance company lobbyist. Uh oh.

Gosh. What title do I bestow upon myself when I publish under my real name?

sawsidges n taters


1) I've never opined on this publicly, and to many it's probably not a novel observation, but isn't it just hipster-style ironic that Amazon's "Kindle" is so named, while it will virtually put all books in a Fahrenheit 451 pyre?

2) Fearing that America is going to be "turned over to" Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, and the "Tea Party" is misplaced fear.  NB:  the salesmen say whatever's needed to sell the idea/thing/project.  Beck and Palin are playing on the dissatisfaction with Obama, to perpetuate the Us vs Them game that distracts everyone from the core truth:  no matter whether it's Barack Obama or Sarah Palin in the Oval Office, the people who call the shots in 2010 (and 2 years hence in 2012) will benefit.  Example:  Obama-Biden delivering what Bush-Cheney would have delivered had 3 terms been available to Bush-Cheney.  Hope!  Change!  Articulate First Black President!

3) The disaffection felt by the audience who attended Glenn Beck's Mendacity on the Mall, it's a real disaffection that is rooted in real economic disparity, regardless of whether the scapegoating rhetoric is tapped into a purely bigoted perspective.  When Joe Sixpack agrees with Glenn Beck and rants on Obama's "secret Muslim" status, what's really at work there is Joe stating his economic pains with the only blaming vector Joe knows:  them immigrants and furriners are at fault.  Of course Joe doesn't realize, for example, that the Northern Spotted Owl was a scapegoat for Charles Hurwitz's desire to make logging a multinational, land-stripping operation, and Joe would quickly blame "enviros" and "tree huggers" for his cousin Cletus's loss of a job with a logging company.  This doesn't make Cletus's job loss any less real, even if Joe is wrong, even if it is not "enviros" at fault but instead is Hurwitz's fault and the fault of other big-scale timber extractors.

4) If we're going to move out of this morass of misdirection, it's going to happen because partisan people put down their boxing gloves and start to see what they have in common.  Polly-Anne Progressive is going to have to try to understand why Sarah Palin is attractive to Ethyl Sixpack.  It won't help Polly-Anne to keep complaining that Ethyl is a stupid, poor white trash, ignoramus redneck bigot.  All that sort of commentary reinforces is Polly-Anne's feeling of superiority for not being Ethyl Sixpack.

Friday, August 27, 2010


Jolly funny crackup?

Joint fueling commission?

Jersey's fraudulent contractors?

no, no... and NO.

Jesus FUCKING Christ.

Read this from Bruce Schneier:
Is the Whole Country an Airport Security Zone?

Full-body scanners in roving vans:

American Science & Engineering, a company based in Billerica, Massachusetts, has sold U.S. and foreign government agencies more than 500 backscatter x-ray scanners mounted in vans that can be driven past neighboring vehicles to see their contents, Joe Reiss, a vice president of marketing at the company told me in an interview.
Fucking unbelievable, it should be.

Fucking inevitable, it is.

Fucking nauseous, I am.

There's more at the link.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Oil Parallels

Reality Zone has a good new post about the BP Deepwater Horizon gusher "trust fund" and its administration. One of the main points made is the collusion between government and Big Oil on oil profiteering.

Of course this profiteering isn't news to anyone who has been following the Fed Govt's workings since 2001 (when it became really brazen under Bush-Cheney), but it does reveal more fully two of the primary motors of current domestic and foreign policy: natural resource control, and natural resource profiteering.

An observation I made quite a few years ago on a prior blog I kept was this: we could see the true motives of the "Operation: Iraqi Freedom" militarism in Iraq in the Iraq Study Group Report, which set forth the US Govt's preferences for how Iraq would be handled from 2003 onward. Within the ISG report is a framework for the installed puppet regime government, and a mandate that the puppet government would give Iraq's oil to ...essentially... Big Oil. You will have to study who are the interested parties in the relevant ISG report sections in order to learn that Big Oil's interests are driving the report's conclusions and recommendations, but the conclusion you can't avoid is that Big Oil is running the show in the current Iraqi clusterfuck.

As is the current fashion for Fed Govt projects, regulatory schemes and legislation,FN the Public Face of the Iraq Project and the ISG report is found at the comically named United States Institute for Peace 

(click on the link to go to the page where you can download a .pdf of the report)

After you have downloaded and opened the .pdf document, stop on the front page and notice who are the Iraq Study Group. Ask yourself whose interests each person historically has represented. Each is a public figure in American federal political and government machinery. Each has been written about extensively by the mainstream infotainment media as well as 2d string "independent" (co-dependent, actually) publications like The Nation and similar opinion-shaping periodicals. And of course, each one's name will bring up all kinds of hits on any InterWebToobz search engine.

Here, if my mission were to inculcate you on the Regal Nature of the Extremely Historic Report, I might suggest you read the report's opening text.

But instead, to let you observe the evidence with a relatively untainted mind, I'm going to direct you straightaway to the relevant provisions:

Recommendation 62


Recommendation 63

which begin with report page 56's introduction of Section 5: The Oil Sector.

Read all of Section 5, but pay closest attention to the Recommendations 62 and 63, and ask yourself why the US Fed Govt has any right to dictate what will happen with Iraq's own natural resource. The oil resides within Iraq's boundaries, in Iraqi soil. Yet the ISG is "recommending" that Iraq turn over that oil to "commercial" interests, comprised mainly of extra-Iraqi multinational oil companies.

You know, like BP.

When Dubya declared we were a-goin'-to-war to kick Saddam's ass (and maybe partly because Poppy failed to do so, let's not forget that little motive), I posted my thoughts around many Toobz political discussion fora stating that we were going in to take Iraq's oil. The common refrain: "no, if we wanted to do that, we would just take it."

"Uh, that's what I'm saying we're doing," was my reply.

For some reason, many people would persist in saying my suggested approach -- via war -- was not the same as just taking the damned oil.

So I asked, "can't the whole enterprise be one of profiteering, and global dominance projection, at the same time?" Because really, it's been about boosting defense spending, boosting military logistics contractor spending, boosting engineering and construction spending, boosting the formation of a high-octane "domestic security" bureaucracy and techno-policing back home. So it's not just a theft of oil. It's a profit vehicle where oil control is secured through highly profitable (if culturally and individually destructive) mechanisms that let a nice little segment of American society profit hugely.

In the gamble and bargain, we get a dominant physical presence in Iraq from which we can control, through various direct and indirect means, the whole oil and natural gas resource pool of that portion of the planet.

Which is why we're mucking about in Iran right now, in case you weren't looking.


FN - Obvious examples: "Homeland Security" being about spying on innocent citizens; "No Child Left Behind" being about making stupid, compliant robots out of children; "Healthy Forests Initiative" being about making forests "healthy" by removing their trees. Of course, "Operation: Iraqi Freedom" was itself comically named, being that Iraqis are more oppressed now than before the Operation began.

Sharon, Lee, and the Giant Reign X1

My friends Sharon and Lee review MTB and skiing stuff for various e-forums. A lot of others in The Toobz do the same, but Sharon and Lee have a solid sense of what's useful information. On the other hand, lots of reviewers provide nothing but fluff and a bit of useless secret-handshake nonsense like currently faddish cliches or terms, or mere regurgitation of manufacturer advertising material.

Pinkbike.com is a Canadian website dedicated to MTB stuff and it's been around a while. It has long been a hangout for teenagers and immature adults, uninformed and stupid people. The forums are full of kids posting their Xmas Dreams and "my dad's gonna buy me a _________ for my next birthday" types of verbal cotton candy. But over the past year or so, Pinkbike has been improving its front-page content to provide a pretty big contrast against the discussion forum juvenilia. Rather than avoiding Pinkbike for its stupid after-school bored teenager forums, it's now worth checking to see Pinkbike's MTB information on its front page.

Sharon and Lee recently tested the Giant Reign X1 for Pinkbike. Their review is very good. Check it out here.


Please go watch BDR's XtraNormal cartoon (found within this post). Even if you're not a Sonic Youth fan (or former fan) you should find it very funny. I sure did.


Because I feel like tootin' my own horn, here's the first XtraNormal cartoon I did, to jape one of the InterWebToobz' best MTB related e-experts and e-riders.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Most Over-rated Scribes, Part I

One of my favorite things to point at, mock, and dissect is the Over-rated Scribe.  I have never done a formal blog entry in which I focus solely on someone gaining that stature, although I have spent a fair amount of time picking on a lot of writers.

Today's first entry for Over-rated Scribe:

Frat Baby, of Rolling Stone Magazine.

Be sure to dig on Frat Baby's fratboy hat and squared-off soul patch, his two external cues that he is making "hip" status with the dipshit college-wasting bigots who dress just like Frat Baby.

Dude, the new album by Michael Franti will get you laid, guaranteed.  By the way, did you read Frat Baby's stuff about the shitbird 9/11 Truthers?  Those assholes are like people who don't like football!

Tweakistan vs Fiddleburg

The "left" in American sociopolitical debate is stuck trying to tweak things with incremental regulatory/legal nonsense, forever assuming the government is the best vehicle for levelling a bumpy playing field.  "More, better democrats!," they shout.  "More, better regulators!"  "More, better regulatory enforcement!"

How delusional is this?

The commonest analog I know, and also the most accurate, is the situation of the abused partner/girlfriend/spouse, who keeps returning to the man who beats her, berates her, ignores her, mocks her, cheats on her, steals her money, borrows and wrecks her car, eats her groceries, accepts her cooking without contributing anything to the meal or the cleanup.

When you're constantly abused by the one you think you love, the only solutions available are these:

1) Get out of the relationship.

2) Stay in the relationship, and either (a) ignore the abuse; or (b) pretend the abuse will be lessened if only you can reach the abuser's supposedly hidden tender heart and convert him.

Only (1) makes any sense to a person with self-respect.  Only (1) works for anyone who values long-term sanity and personal safety.

The draw for people caught up in (2)(a) is the notion of conscious ignorance, overtly pretending that the abuse is irrelevant.  The romanticized image of the abuser is controlling; the abuser's actual behavior is forgotten by a mind trick.

The draw for people caught up in (2)(b) is the notion of the Mother Teresa Power, the power to save another's soul.

Is either of (2)(a) or (2)(b) sensible to you?

If so, I suggest reading two essays:

Glen Ford -- We Are Cornered: There's No Way Out Without a Fight

Kevin Carson -- Who's Really Being Naive?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

gettin' high, chuckin' the bolus

Late last week I drove East to a different series of mountains within our thoroughly American treasure, the Rocky Mountains, where I rode my bike with 3 guys from SoCal.  One of them is a guy named Rodney who does a long road trip every summer to ride his MTB in the Rockies, working from Montana down through Colorado, or the reverse, before heading back to SoCal.  The other two were friends and riding buddies of Rodney's from SoCal, Al and Mark.  I've seen many pictures of Mark, Al and Rodney riding together thanks to our mutual friend Cow-Hucker Steve who takes a lot of ride pictures and posts them at various places on the InterWebToobz.FN

I've ridden with Rodney several times, the first being 4 years ago (or maybe 3?) when he was on the MT end of his summer road trip.  We met at a small town 45 miles south of me, drove another 1.25 hrs south and west, and did a ride near the MT/ID border. I have a lot of pictures from that ride, it was stellar for several reasons.  I'll add them to this post later.

Then 2 years ago I drove to Stanley ID to meet Rodney in the middle of his summer road trip.  We did a super-long ride in the Boulder/White Clouds Mountains, probably the best overall MTB ride I've ever done.

This year, Rodney, Mark and Al were going to be several hours east of me for a week, so that's where I met them last Thursday. 

Sittin' on my ass, waiting for Rodney and Mark to return from shuttle rig parking.

Somewhere along the climb... this ridgeline opposite us looked very tasty for skiing.

This little feature has a name but I'm not revealing it.  The view of it from the valley floor is pretty awesome.  It's a good distance off here and I don't have a powerful zoom.

It's the geology, bitches!

An alpine postcard for Mark to use.

Rodney, in the middle of something like his 23d consecutive day of riding.

Al, virtually eclipsed by the powerful Sun.

Such a quaint setting.

Mark leads the SoCal boys in the final part of the descent.  The SoCal boys weren't used to the steep sidehill singletrack.  The likelihood of injury if you fell left (downslope) was really high, probably at least 90%, because you'd tumble for a long time and your ragdolling body would pick up lots of speed to be imparted on impact as destructive energy on the skeleto-muscular human body.

Rodney's next.

And then Al, who was working his helmet camera.  I haven't seen the vid footage yet.  Al and Rodney took lots of pictures too, haven't seen any of them yet.

After that ride last Thurs I went with my friends Kevin & Scott to camp Saturday night in SW MT for a Sunday ride that was essentially the same ride Rodney and I did 3 or 4 years ago, with some extra mileage tacked on.

Not a White Man's Fire.

From the topmost point on the ride.  Looking into ID.

Kinda craggy over where we are standing.

Kevin's scrambling in those rocks if you look closely.

FN- The linked thread is amusing.  I test MTB tires for Maxxis.  I got Steve into the testing program.  He asked me my thoughts on a Minion 2.5 DHF for a 29er, I told him it was pointless because the existing Maxxis Ardent 2.4 x 29 will do whatever the Minion would do.  Steve is not deterred.  He wants that tire and he intends to squeeze Maxxis until they yield.  Good luck Steve! As for me, I just want Exo-Protection sidewalls on the Ardent 2.25 x 29 and 2.25 x 26, so I can stop throwing away rear tires due to rock scuffs on the sidewalls. 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

curve? asymptote? thug guarding an econoline?

Over the past few days I have noticed criticism of Daily Kos in the context of Chris "O-Bot Left" Bowers' defection to Zuniga-land.

...and criticism of Howard Dean for his stance on the 2010 Symbol for All American Eternity: The 9/11 Ground-Zero Mosque!

Quite a few years ago I was busy telling friends that Howard Dean is a stooge, that Markos Zuniga is a disinformation specialist, goat-roping team division. I was trying to tell these friends why they should stop being "liberals" and "progressives" and Democrat-faithfuls. I was telling them these things because I wanted them to stop voting for and supporting things that they kept saying they didn't want to support... like murder, like corporate agribusiness, like pseudo-regulation that actually enables financial crimes, white collar corporate crimes, and other forms of theft by those who wear nice suits and speak with a relaxed, confident, polysyllabic manner.

You know, like Bill Clinton.

Or Barack Obama.

You know what I mean, don't you, you... old sport.

 Don't you?

Always stick with the winning team, old sport!

Even Amber Milgram knows this.

an Andy Rooney moment

The following are my present list of petty grievances with the American public and/or certain subsets thereof.  These come from spending time reading profiles at online dating sites:

1) Using one's telephone area code as a Badge of Honor or a weak analog to a gang call sign.  "I'm from the 973!"  Yeah, well big fucking deal, Babs.  I blame Aaron Spelling and Beverly Hills 90210 for putting stupid number sequences in the hive-mind of public "opinion" where some douche-drinking dipshit's fantasy of what's "cool" (or "hip" or whatever) and enviable prevails.  Yeah, hack Spelling writer-team drone, your decision to use a ZIP code to show status... GENIUS!

2) Using one's airport 3-letter call sign as a Badge of Honor.  Id.  Look, Sister Sledge, you're not cooler if you say you're recently transplanted to SLC from PDX.  In fact why don't you get back into your Biodiesel Mercedes-Benz and drive on back to Portland, hipster?

3) Women who say they want to "live life to its fullest."  What the fuck, Shirley?  Who does NOT want that?  You might want to change your profile to say "I intend to breathe air, eat when hungry and drink when thirsty, and sleep when tired ...from now until I die!"

4) Women who say their interests include "travel."  Oh.  Okay.  You mean you don't intend to sit in the same exact spot from now until you're flatlined?  You're going to actually move?  Ambulate?  Bipedally transport yourself?  Jolly good.  You're very interesting, you know that?  It's funny, every single woman I've met since college who said she was into "travel" was really into merely being in some other place.  The idea of actually experiencing that other place as something unique... not on the radar, sorry.  "Travel" in this setting usually includes flying (with lots of others) and staying at a chain hotel (with lots of others) in a sterile part of the travelled-to place, eating meals at chain food joints, and hanging around others who are doing much the same.  When the whole "travel" schtick is tallied, it looks like a fantastic waste of $$$ and time, because all of the "experiences" are exactly what one could have at home, but simply had in a different town.  This is fun?  Really?

5) Women who post cleavage-flaunting pictures to their profile, who say they drink "frequently," and yet also say that their religion is "Christian, and very serious about it."  Okay, Magdalene.  Gotcha.  Don't forget to wash his feet with your tears and dry them with your hair, topless... while drunk.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

forever vigilante!

Over at Kunstler's Clusterfuck Nation, an interesting but typicalFN Kunstler entry was followed by a huge comments thread, containing this interesting post by "Butch" --
Yes there is a comedy of errors that has brought us to this point, the US has actually been here before, if different sense. The evil that the progressives have wrought is about to collapse the nation. I suspect the founding fathers have “stashed a raft” to help us through this. They always feared a strong central government, easily manipulated, in this case by the elites/progressives, to result in loss of our liberty. The raft they stashed was the States, the States are sovereign, I suspect we will see the rebellion manifest itself in the States, the States will break away, small business and cash only businesses may stop paying taxes, then local companies will stop…if they all stopped the Federal Government is over.
All pretty good, except the idea of the States' sovereignty being a "raft" and simply converting to a balkanized nation.

I would agree with the positive effect of such a balkanization, but I wonder how easily it will happen with a populace that tends to give obeisance to the Fed Govt even while seeming to think it corrupt. Too often, "...but what else ya gonna do?" is tagged to the end of a person's response to evidence of corruption.
It may likely happen this way, in conjunction with the collapse of the dollar. Larger companies will then stop paying taxes as no one else is. The Federal government will be brought to its knees; so do you throw the entire country in jail? No, you reform government quickly and effectively, when the people have faith they may start paying taxes again…this or some other form of State withdrawal will have to occur to keep folks safe and a viable nation. The States may establish their own currencies again and ignore DC.
Perhaps, but let's remember what happened when the Confederacy tried this, at a time when the Fed Govt was not as militarized, when under Homeland Security auspices the DOJ didn't use Fusion Centers to bring state and local po-po and prosecutors into the Federal orbit, when the Fed Govt didn't have a lot of mercs on contract, who can be re-deployed to domestic "security" purposes.
But Jim is right, our creditors may decide to take land to pay the debt, I suspect the northwest may become Chinese. Not a good scenario.
Nor a very likely one, but a nice nightmare to float for those who live in or near the PacNW.
Perhaps with enough new, scared, blood in November some of this can be corrected, but I fear that those that go to Washington to do good are soon corrupted and stay to do well for themselves.
Uh, no... there are no "good ones" who go these days... if there ever were. (Wellstone fanatics, I beg your indulgence here.)
Few who have studies this have a good feeling about the probable outcome. Yes this is gloom and doom but remember, the Internet is like the Committees of Correspondence during the Revolutionary War, folks are studying and comparing notes, most of us do not want to be doom and gloom’ers, but we are also realists who understand economics, human nature, and greed. We see that the dark side often overpowers the good, and unless we are forever vigilante we have no chance. Jim is very astute at evaluating the situation; his observations are usually germane and accurate, unfortunately for the all of us.
Nicely mushy, that closing sentiment.

Was the "forever vigilante" a typographical error, or an intended phrase?

*   *   *   *   *

RELATED ESSAY:  Dmitry Orlov, Miserable Pursuits

FN - "Typical" meaning it contains some upper-middle-class-but-occasionally-tending-toward-Luddist bias, in which Kunstler shows obediance to "the rule of law" and the idea that "more, better regulation" will help us and would have helped us avoid the financial problems our society now suffers.  Kunstler's view has evolved from the "more, better Democrats" perspective, so I would guess he's going to move a bit on this "rule of law" and "more, better enforcement" perspective.  But maybe he won't -- it's very possible he's got a strong authoritarian streak, and just wants to be the dictator of what's acceptable.  His blind-spot love for Israel's "right of self-defense" might be said to suggest this.

firefox bugginess

If you browse with Firefox you might have experienced its very slow shut-down.  For example, the window may close, but on Task Manager, you'll find the process is still open.  I have been experiencing this for the last several iterations of Firefox 3 that I've downloaded.

Today I tried disabling a few plug-ins and found that when I disabled the following 3 Windows Media-related plugins, the shutdown was much quicker:

- Microsoft DRM Netscape Network Object

- Windows Media Player Plug-In Dynamic Link Library

- Microsoft DRM Store Netscape Plug-In

These 3 plug-ins were standard on the basic download either from Mozilla for Firefox, or from Microsoft from Windows Update.  I did not add or install them individually.

blackjawed living room couch professors

Faced with the awful and disturbing consequences of actually examining closely and critically the acts of their Noble Democrats and hallowed Obamessiah, the InterWebToobz' Esteemed Progressive Pedants are prepared to lecture their readers on what's really important.

Among these items of high density and extreme gravity:

* the problems that only appear to be attributable to Obama-Biden and the current Congress, but actually are the fault of Evil Rethuglicans now holding office, or Evil Rethuglicans from the Bush-Cheney era

* the terrible things done by Ralph Nader, thief of loyalty and disturber of Prince Albert's Rightful Ascension

* the living horror the Congress and the Obama-Biden Administration are being made to suffer --forced, by the very presence of the intimidating beings known as Republicans-- in the realm of Social Security reform

* the core essence of "marriage" being disturbed by "cultural conservatives" (read: anyone who doesn't agree with Hoss Doubt-Hat)

* and the ever-present harbinger of Hell, the quest for Elizabeth Warren to become Supreme Regulator of Wall Street Sandbox Conduct

Friday, August 13, 2010

low-ranking DVDs

Last night was movie night, the first in a long time.  I got 3 DVDs from Wastings, watched two last night, saving the 3d for tonight.

Boondock Saints II was pathetic, I can't tell what happened to the idea that Troy Duffy presented in the original Boondock Saints, but it didn't carry forward here.  The actors slipped in and out of their accents and when the accents were "on" they still weren't believable.  The laughs didn't arrive very often and when they did, they were weak chuckles that felt like a too-large tip given a waiter/waitress who evokes pity.  The actress who plays Dexter's girlfriend in that Showtime series, Julie Benz, was great to look at but her Southern accent came and went, and the script written for her was total shit, but not so shitty it was B-movie funny.  Her "genius" profiler was almost a lampoon of the present TV trend of hyping "profilers" as if they (1) exist; (2) do what the fictional presentation suggests; and (3) succeed as suggested.  Such "profiling" is pure bullshit, it doesn't work, it can't work, and the notion that someone can do it as Benz's character did is pitiful.  As a satire, BDII would be passable, but as a serious drama with straight comedy overtones, failing grade.  F-, and that's generous.  Bonus failure points given for Peter Fonda's cardboard play, and Judd Nelson's over-acting.

Multiple Sarcasms was much better than AllMovie's 2-star rating suggests, and much better than their reviewer described.  AM's reviewer said he couldn't figure out how the Gabe-Cari-Annie triangle came about but I picked up on it rather easily.  I don't think the triangle was a conceit or ill-conceived... as I was watching the movie it seemed the connection between Gabe and Cari was stronger and deeper than the one with Annie.  The acting was strong all around.  It reminded me of a Woody Allen drama-comedy, but without the insular Jewish culture roots.  The only conceit I picked up on was the vibe of "we're New Yorkers, therefore we're special and cool," but having spent a lot of time in NYC before moving west, I can say that I've met a lot of people who think that about themselves and NYC.  A solid B.

Tonight:  Brooklyn's Finest.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Power of Pity

Stephen Hawking found fame for having a personal theory on cosmology that was spread around by the mainstream media.  My personal belief is that pity is the driver of Hawking's fame.  Everyone wants to pity a man who is confined to a wheelchair, barely able to communicate orally, left using engineered devices to carry forth the products of his very fertile imagination.

One look at the guy evokes pity in most humans.  Pity causes us to let down our guard.  And cosmology is a subject on which so many are ignorant, that they don't even have much of a guard to let down.

Cosmic theory is about as "scientific" as creationism.  It involves human belief, and little else.  So whether you believe in Hawking's brilliance or supposed expertise, well... I grant you your religious faith's free expanses, I concede that you can believe in whatever you want.

As for me, I'll continue thinking Hawking a big fraud.  I mean, he's saying the only hope for humanity is colonizing space.

What a stupid fuck.  Dream on, Stevie.

uh, nope

I return to my position of disagreement with Arthur Silber, courtesy of his latest entry re WikiLeaks.

Three False Criticisms of Wikileaks, and the Rush to Irrelevance and Error

Three interconnected criticisms of Wikileaks, and of the recently released Afghanistan material, merit consideration. These particular criticisms can be summarized as follows:

"These materials don't tell us anything new, or anything we didn't already know."
The leaked documents did not tell me anything I did not alreay know. Whether you want to call me "wrong" in saying that, Arthur, is something I can't fix nor persuade you contrarily, but you still cannot be correct.

Whether the leaked documents told someone somewhere a thing he didn't know previously, that's different. Completely different.

You can't tell me what I do and do not know, Arthur. More particularly, you cannot know what I do or do not know. You'd have to be me, and you're not.

WikiLeaks is not a revolution. American culture cares more about celebrities and bullshit than it does about what's going on in our "war" efforts. WikiLeaks won't change that.

It's a pity to see someone forecasting so poorly. I'd imagine it's a problem with his back-cast. The leader and tippet are all jumbled into a bird's nest of monofilament. No fish ever struck a fly surrounded by a thicket of monofilament. Better timing, more patience, and paying attention to the actual behavior of the fly and the line will make for a better forecast, every time.

Not Robinson, but awfully close

One can live in a society and opine regularly on its workings, while completely misunderstanding it.  One doesn't have to be Robinson Crusoe, stranded on an island, to completely miss what's going on in the rest of one's homeland, outside one's imagined fantasies.

Lairds and malveens, I give you the Count of Corrente, Lame-Beer 'd Rather, commenting at Robinson Crusoe's:
Please vote, but using this order of priorities. At the state and national level:

1. Third party (Green; DFL). And neither the Ds nor the Rs.

2. None Of The Above (NOTA), either write-in, or by spoiling your ballot (depending on jurisdiction).

And at the local level, get to know the person, and vote for them, regardless of party.

It's important for you to affirmatively vote for neither legacy party, and to have that vote counted. That's the only way to defeat the narrative of voter disengagement, and replace it with a narrative of rejection. It's also the clearest possible way to demonstrate the numbers of those who want "another place to go."
And I give you a Satisfied Yuppie:
I second Lambert'sapproach.

I most definitely am not voting for national Democrats as I've done for the previous 44 years. "What's at stake in November" isn't which of the two branches of the corporate party we elect, but rather rejecting them both. The previous election was the final straw: all that energy expended to elect a decent Democrat, and we ended up with a Republican! No, no, no, and no, Mr. Gibbs: I will not be back at the polls like a good soldier. I'm voting for my country, not your stinking Wall Street establishment party.
Then I give you Chuckles Oxy-Clean, a/k/a yrs trly:
Perhaps mr strether didn't notice that votes are rigged electronically, tabulated falsely, and circumvented entirely as of November 2000.

Encouraging one to vote... missing the problem, missing the point. Entirely.

Of course, if you need a last-ditch effort that salves your conscience and helps you believe in The American Dream, then by all means -- vote. Participate in a charade that is devoid of actual meaning. Participate in an event that actually denies your participatory voice in the running of government. Yes, participate in non-participation.

One can always tell who fears actual remaking of society -- it's shown by who refuses to imagine the remaking, and insists on "change from within" when such change never has happened, never will happen, by all signals facts trends and indicia.

Yes, by all means - vote. Because you need to pat yourself on the back for the formalized "right thing" you've done by pulling the lever, punching the chad, penciling in the box. Embolden the mythology!

In summation:

none of this will change until a significant number of us Americans realize that "change from within" won't be delivered. It must be changed by stepping outside the current cheap fascia of "democracy" and creating our own system, without the input or control offered by those who presently run and rig the game.

Do Lame-Beer and the Taosian-without-Tao even realize that they're just spinning up a thematic variation on "more and better Democrats"? I doubt it.

You can lead a lemming to the cliff, but you can't make him jump!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

it's possible, even probable

One of the things I believe to be incumbent upon anyone who opines publicly on trends in social-economic-political matters is to acknowledge and admit error.

For several years I have held a quasi-grudge against Glenn Greenwald for his positions that he defended when I first started reading him -- basically, his view was a thematic consistency rooted in these ideas:  Democrats good, Republicans bad, elect more + better Democrats, terrorists = evil, Islam = evil.  Anyone who read "Unclaimed Territory" with a skeptical eye starting around 2006 knows what I'm talking about here.

Greenwald has slowly slithered away from many of those positions, but I've yet to read or hear that he acknowledges the massive errors he once offered as the "correct" view on American political machinations.

Meanwhile lately I've disagreed with Arthur Silber's take on fearing that Julian Assange's life may be in danger due to the WikiLeaks controversy.

Well, if I'm to believe what Justin Raimondo's site offers, I may have to eat a whole lot of humble pie.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

menace, no dennis.

1983, Wheeling, West Virginia. My friend George the Squid tells me I need to check out Richard Thompson.

"Richard who?," I say.

Squid previously got me to listen to the Dead despite my inclination away from my college's many Deadheads, their vibe of "dude where'd the sixties go?" pushing me away at the same time Squid is handing me cassette tapes and telling me which songs to check out. I'm trusting his musical recommendations at this point. I return the favor with loans of Gang of Four vinyl EPs.

Somewhere in this time period I notice the Joe Boyd connection running through several albums that I listen to and enjoy:  Richard & Linda Thompson, Shoot Out the Lights... R.E.M., Fables of the Reconstruction... 10,000 Maniacs, The Wishing Chair.  I start wondering whether my disdain for folkies and folk-rock has been wasted energy.FN

In the nearly-30 years that have passed, I find that Richard Thompson is the only one I still enjoy listening to.  Listening now to the Boyd-produced 10,000 Maniacs just reminds me of how dull and yuppie-pandering they became, how Natalie Merchant went from being a young woman that I would have loved to meet and date when I was 23, to a less-young woman that I was inclined to mock for her Yup-dom only 4 or 5 years later.  How, exactly, does one go from Scorpio Rising and My Mother the War, to the soft-rock adult contemporary quasi-Windham Hill of the Tigerlily album?  Only Natalie knew for sure, my crush breaking in the process.

Oh well, it wasn't long before Polly from Yeovil stepped in to fill the gap.

One of the better shows I went to during my DC residency was Tsunami opening for PJ Harvey on her Rid of Me tour.  I'd never heard Tsunami before that night, but I became a pretty quick fan.

Oh, and as to that other mid-80s band produced by Joe Boyd, the boys from Athens... they fell off the radar with their Green album.  Thanks to Scott Litt and his radio-friendly production values, thanks to a band hungering for more money/fame, thanks to whatever... I lost interest in REM and didn't care what happened to them.

I still follow Richard Thompson, though.  He's become a bit softer, his living in California made that inevitable, but his solos are still excellent and the most recent of his albums that I own, Sweet Warrior, is a good listen.

FN -- ...and many years later, I discover Joe Boyd is a Harvard graduate, and I can't bring myself to hold it against him.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Black-Eyed Susie

I was lucky enough to be at this show, it happened only a few months before I left NJ for the west.

The album containing this song as a studio cut: The Northeast Kingdom

good stuff from Arthur Silber

Of all the blogs I read regularly, there are only a handful where I almost always agree with the blogger. Chris Floyd is one of them; Arthur Silber is another.

Recently Silber has been on a multi-part series about the WikiLeaks news stories that have been bouncing around for the past few weeks. I haven't agreed with Silber on the observations he's been making there; I think he is over-dramatizing the threats involved; I think the threat to the Fed Govt is miniscule and I think the Fed Govt has bigger fish to fry than Julian Assange.

But Silber just posted a new entry covering a couple subjects where he's been powerfully wise for as long as I've been reading him -- "intelligence," and the "progressive" movement in America.  It's worth your time.

Embarrassing, Disgraceful Crap

I must add that one of the things I like about that post is that it picks apart the "progressive" mindset that is well on display at Corrente. Whenever I visit Corrente, I am left with the impression that if there were no Republicans, there would be no steam powering the robots who post there.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


nod to Skeptical Eye for this; much appreciated.

bamboo slivers under the fingernails

A brace of propositions that I recently challenged:

1) Private property is inherently evil

2) Personal belongings are not private property

I can't say I have much patience for communism.  The primary gripe I have with Marxists is their goal of making everything communal.  This absurd fantasy requires that one of two situations must obtain:  either all of the humans dwelling in the Marxist-ideal communist society agree on everything imaginable by the most imaginative human; OR a massive bureaucracy must be created to clamp down on those who do not agree with the Marxist-ideal communist regime's chosen standards for what is "correct" human behavior in the Marxist-ideal communist society.

So I am expected by Marxists to give up my claim to my bicycles, my ski equipment, my clothing if someone else in the hallowed Marxist-ideal communist society wishes to use any of those things.

And this I cannot abide.

I can see where Glossy Karl got his idea, though.  A spoiled child who knew riches his entire life but seemed to have despised his parents, he petulantly set about creating his own identity independent from that of his family, by declaring war on the capitalism that had made his family so rich.  Did Glossy Karl retain personal property while extolling communist ideals?  But of course.  Like his modern-day counterpart, Naomi Klein, Marx was an amazingly hypocritical person.  He wrote critique after critique of private property and capital, but enjoyed the fruits of private property and capital.

Is that supposed to be admired?  Emulated?  Respected?

Pardon me.  I'm not in awe, nor do I feel respect.  I don't want to emulate Glossy Karl's anything.

Glossy Karl got a few things right on the way to praising communism.  His idea that a human's ability to work is a value in itself, and the juxtaposition of this labor vs capital -- these are correct.

But they were correct before Glossy Karl observed them, and they remain correct in his wake, and they didn't need Glossy Karl's convoluted, pretentious prose to make them true.

I'd rather have bamboo slivers driven under my fingernails, than take part in a communist society.

And yet I hate capitalism, its wastefulness, its disparities in social power.

To most Marxists I've encountered, that means I'm supposed to admire Marx -- as if the only position one can take is either capitalism, or Marxism.

Like the only choice we have is Democrat, or Republican.

Like the only flavors available are chocolate, or vanilla.

Like the only colors in existence are black, or white.

The paucity of imagination on display is saddening.

Call me Don Quixote, and consider me to be tilting at windmills.  I'll recognize you, Marxists and Capitalists, for what you are:  people lacking imagination, people comforted by familiarity, people afraid of trying something other than what "experts" have told them are the only choices.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Congratulations to Marc Beaumont!

Marc Beaumont, one of the earliest Steve Peat proteges, won the Val di Sole UCI DH yesterday by more than one second over Greg Minnaar.  Gee Atherton, who leads the UCI DH points series by a slim margin, took 3d.  American phenom Aaron Gwin was on pace to win the whole schmeer, but took a digger that cost him the win.  Gwinny will have to wait for his first World Cup win.

Emmeline Ragot, who is on fire this year, took the women's DH win by a significant margin.

The final at Windham Peak NY will be a killer.

VitalMTB has some excellent shots by Sven Martin and Gary Perkin from the finals here.

MTBCut's video of the finals:

the sshtingle

If you've ever ridden singlespeed-style you know the strangely compelling, attractive nature of that gig.  Quiet.  Always in the right gear.  A bit more walking/hiking.  Fewer things to go wrong.

But if you live in a town where you truly can ride fantastic singletrack, even eventual alpine journeys, from your home that is 7 miles of pavement/almost-pavement away from the trailhead, you know that the climbing gear suitable for SS-ing frequently is a maddening spinnery.  It's good to get that high-RPM pedaling style down to a smooth, well-oiled machine of a technique... very good, in fact.  But it can be a bit tough on the 7-mile pedal home when you're tired, extremely hungry, and wanting to go sit down and eat.

A few friends got into the dinglespeed (NM (No Mark; no rights reserved)) situation last year and raved about how it was great for the cross-town pedal and also for the descent.  I heard them, I listened to them, I even believed them.  But I lacked the money to have a new rear wheel built, to buy 2 new rear cogs + 2 new chainrings + new chain.  Maaaaaaawwwwww-neh.  It escapes me, it flees from me like I'm its enemy.  But over time, I saved my pennies and finally was able to work out the dingle.

The definitive in-town alpine ride was on the table yesterday.  The fastest that ride has been finished door-to-door for me has been 8 hours, in early October at peak fitness on a bike that let me pedal most of the climbing miles.  I'm not a powerhouse climber though, so usually it takes longer than 8 hours.  Yesterday it was 9:20 total time.  SA was the ride partner on this one, he's a frequent ride partner for local and out-of-town rides.  I kept putting my bike in the way so he could try to ride past that extra-wide handlebar whenever I stopped to take a picture or at least try for one.

The Inbred worked well yesterday.  Trails were incredible because of huge thunderstorms & hailstorms Saturday.  Temps were great, everything was great.  But I'm totally beat down today.  My legs feel like lead and I'm body-tired.

I praise the dinglespeed.

git sum

The blog nyctaper is good if you like live music but can't be bothered to go see shows, or can't see the shows of the bands found at nyctaper.  One of the discoveries I made at nyctaper last year was Oneida.  I have a recording of them from Market Hotel in Brooklyn that contains the song below, in a great long jammy version sorta like this one.  There are occasional times I wish I lived in NYC so I could go see Oneida regularly.  Oneida's website is here.

Git sum.


Oneida's MySpace page is here. I just found out they will play my town on August 20 at Totalfest. My need to visit NYC is removed. Colin Hickey, you are God.