Monday, December 12, 2011

"10 steps to better blogging" from SplatF

Yes: 10 steps to better blogging – SplatF: Attribute well — the way you’d want to be attributed. Use names, link prominently, never plagiarize. Quote or paraphrase the part of an article that you need to make your point, but always with the goal of sending readers to the original site for the full story. (Some credit here to Henry Blodget, for Business Insider’s original excerpting policy in 2009. And to John Gruber, whose attribution activism is good for the web.) Aim to become as big of a traffic referrer as you possibly can — not only is that good policy, but it’s a great business asset.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Critics: 'Tough' sheriff botched sex-crime cases - Yahoo! News

When I read "the man pummeled the teen from behind" I was shocked to read that kind of vivid description in an AP story. Then I realized that by "pummeled" Jacques probably meant "hit."

Critics: 'Tough' sheriff botched sex-crime cases - Yahoo! News: Critics: 'Tough' sheriff botched sex-crime cases
By JACQUES BILLEAUD | AP�–�Sun, Dec 4, 2011

EL MIRAGE, Ariz. (AP) — The 13-year-old girl opened the door of her home in this small city on the edge of Phoenix to encounter a man who said that his car had broken down and he needed to use the phone. Once inside, the man pummeled the teen from behind, knocking her unconscious and sexually assaulting her.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

HR 140

Ridiculous.
This bill has 70% popular support on PopVox.com at the moment, which is clearly an unthoughtful, emotional population. A lot of the anti-birthright sentiment correlates with founding father worship, but the founding fathers clearly did not have American citizens for parents.

If the day comes when this bill passes, the future of the United States is looking to be pretty sad.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

"Ex-SC GOP Official Calls Pelosi C-Word On Twitter, Tells TPM It Was A Joke | Election 2012" from Talking Points Memo

Ex-SC GOP Official Calls Pelosi C-Word On Twitter, Tells TPM It Was A Joke | Election 2012: @ToddKincannon: @TeresaKopec “The Crabby Cunt from the California Coast”? #NancyPelosi
@ToddKincannon: @TeresaKopec Or how about “The Botox Bitch from Buggeryland”? That seems to work for Nancy Pelosi too.
@ToddKincannon: @TeresaKopec Would you prefer Nancy the Crooked Whore? More accurate, but also more words.
He later walked one of these back, but not for the reason you might think:
@aterkel I wish I could walk back the “Nancy the Crooked Whore” thing. It’s not alliterative.

"Nancy the Crooked Whore" is more words than what?

Friday, November 4, 2011

"The H-Word: 'The Pricetag is High.'" from Bitch

Like my problem with immigration laws, my biggest problem with prostitution laws is that these laws tend to negatively impact the lives of desperate people working hard to get by. Sugar daddy dating seems like a pretty fantastic solution to the prostitution problem. The system is rough and imperfect- as the first anonymous commenter on the Bitch piece laments, "But, in my own experience, these men are just looking for a cleaner, cheaper hooker - And, they take advantage of women that are young or struggling financially to get that." However, while laws against sugar-daddy-dating would be virtually impossible to enforce, systems could easily be developed to screen out many dangerous or conniving people on both ends of these potential transactions. An online dating site, say, with a background checks that runs your subscription payments to your sugar baby. Such a system should be so much safer than the traditional outside-the-law pimping system. I'm amazed that the traditional method of prostituting is still around with this innovative line of sex work to compete with it. The full story at Bitch: The H-Word: "The Pricetag is High.":
portion of a white woman's face close to the camera. she is eating a sucker.The H-Word presents first person experiences from sex workers across the country. Here, Liv compares her job as a sugar baby to her perceptions of other forms of sex work.

I go by Liv and I'm 33.  I live in Texas and I'm a college graduate.

read more

Monday, October 17, 2011

OccupyWriters.com piece by Lemony Snicket and hosted by Neil Gaiman


Thirteen Observations made by Lemony Snicket while watching Occupy Wall Street from a Discreet Distance

1. If you work hard, and become successful, it does not necessarily mean you are successful because you worked hard, just as if you are tall with long hair it doesn’t mean you would be a midget if you were bald.

2. “Fortune” is a word for having a lot of money and for having a lot of luck, but that does not mean the word has two definitions.

3. Money is like a child—rarely unaccompanied. When it disappears, look to those who were supposed to be keeping an eye on it while you were at the grocery store. You might also look for someone who has a lot of extra children sitting around, with long, suspicious explanations for how they got there.

4. People who say money doesn’t matter are like people who say cake doesn’t matter—it’s probably because they’ve already had a few slices.

5. There may not be a reason to share your cake. It is, after all, yours. You probably baked it yourself, in an oven of your own construction with ingredients you harvested yourself. It may be possible to keep your entire cake while explaining to any nearby hungry people just how reasonable you are.

6. Nobody wants to fall into a safety net, because it means the structure in which they’ve been living is in a state of collapse and they have no choice but to tumble downwards. However, it beats the alternative.

7. Someone feeling wronged is like someone feeling thirsty. Don’t tell them they aren’t. Sit with them and have a drink.

8. Don’t ask yourself if something is fair. Ask someone else—a stranger in the street, for example.

9. People gathering in the streets feeling wronged tend to be loud, as it is difficult to make oneself heard on the other side of an impressive edifice.

10. It is not always the job of people shouting outside impressive buildings to solve problems. It is often the job of the people inside, who have paper, pens, desks, and an impressive view.

11. Historically, a story about people inside impressive buildings ignoring or even taunting people standing outside shouting at them turns out to be a story with an unhappy ending.

12. If you have a large crowd shouting outside your building, there might not be room for a safety net if you’re the one tumbling down when it collapses.

13. 99 percent is a very large percentage. For instance, easily 99 percent of people want a roof over their heads, food on their tables, and the occasional slice of cake for dessert. Surely an arrangement can be made with that niggling 1 percent who disagree.


OccupyWriters.com

Neil Gaiman's mirror

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Propagating Stereotypes

The Consumerist's Worst Ad in America 2011 is accepting votes through the weekend, and their category  "Trend That Needs To Stop Being A Trend" inspires this topic of discussion.


"Asian Accents Are 'Hilarious'" and "Men Barely Tolerating Their Wives & Girlfriends" are two of the nominees in this category, and I wish they could both win.

Stereotyping and prejudicial thinking may not be legal crimes, but they certainly can be moral crimes, social crimes, and legal crimes.  And our economic system depends upon stereotyping and prejudicial thinking.

In Alan Cooper's well-received The Inmates are Running the Asylum, he discusses his strategy for developing personas to design products for, "Stereotypical personas are more effective if the stereotyping lends more credence to the persona. My goal here is not to be politically correct, but to get everyone to believe that my personas are real."
 Cooper goes on to discuss some unnecessary stereotypes.  In a critical reflection of this book's "Chapter 9: Designing for Pleasure," I insisted that "when [Cooper] asserts, 'Stereotypical personas are more effective if the stereotyping lends more credence to the persona,' he seems to be ignoring the equally true inverse: that the persona lends more credence to the stereotype. I don’t think that 'a statuesque, 5-foot-11 inch beauty who went to Beverly Hills High . . . [and] is a computer technician' or a male who is a nurse would 'confuse everyone,' but I do think that systematically rejecting these non-stereotypical personas will reinforce the stereotypes themselves."

Regardless of my documented stance against using stereotypes in marketing and development personas, stereotypes tend to be how these personas are designed.  Even in the event that research is done to create an amalgamated entity, stereotypes tend to seep in; people naturally think in stereotypes.  Since marketing research is costly in terms of both time and money, however, I suspect many personas are developed using stereotypes alone.  These personas are then used by companies to create our wants and needs, our problems and solutions.  This is in free-market capitalism.

Communists don't seem to have a better solution.  I don't even have an inkling of how to start fixing this problem.  The problem is so innate that we'll have a hard time of socially outgrowing the issue, but I'm optimistic that we will.

In the meantime, I'll keep supporting boys who paint their toenails pink and commercials for female-specific hygiene that are as raunchy as commercials for male-specific hygiene.  What else can we do?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

I'm the kind of cat who wears ironic teeshirts non-ironically. Also, I apparently refer to myself as a cat.

A while ago, we published an article about a need for slavery. Today, I'm issuing a challenge. I would like someone to prove me wrong. I want someone to outline an economic system that does not rely on unpaid or underpaid labor.

I suspect that crime may be an unavoidable component of any economic system. For bonus points, outline an economic system that can work without relying on crime of any sort.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Just Skip Your Tuesday Mocha

I've been frustrated lately with commercials and editorials and advice columns suggesting that I, the frugal reader, should withhold superfluous luxuries. A textbook recently told me that I could afford an $8 / month service by driving past Starbucks every Tuesday without stopping for a cappuccino. That advice irked me, and since reading that chapter, I've noticed the same style rhetoric is pretty common. I saw a commercial this evening that suggested I give my change to charity instead of throwing it on my dresser.

Here's my issue: if I go to Starbucks twice in a year, that's a lot for me - once is a splurge. As a general rule, I don't carry cash, so I have no change to throw on my dresser. On the rare occasions that I do need to use cash, I deposit my change back into my account the first chance I get.

My irritation is this: those of us who buy a drink at Starbucks every day and throw our change on our dressers are not the same people who sweat about splitting $10 a month on tools and charity. The people who are unwilling to spend $10 are people whose entire budget consists of food, shelter, and transportation, with no room left over for frivolities like health care, education, or recreation.

The target audience does not have the cash to throw forgetfully on their dressers while sipping a venti mocha they picked up in their spare time. The target audience is already skipping Starbucks and using every bit of change they can find. Like Stephen Colbert said, "Poor people have ceiling fans, dvd players, and coffee makers?! That's not fair! I don't have any of those things. I have central air, a blu-ray player, and I get my coffee at Starbucks everyday.” The disconnect is at least that real.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

50/50


Fair use 50/50 poster from Wikipedia
After seeing The Fighter, I thought it would be a long time before I saw another new movie that I would consider a favorite. I was pretty wrong about that.

50/50 is exactly the kind of art that I am aiming for with all these Bad Mutha Booboisie projects. This movie really is a perfect example of my artistic goal.

Upon my first viewing of the film, I have no criticisms. Maybe after I see it again some things will stand out, but on the first time through, I was mainly just entertained and impressed. Joseph Gordon-Levitt has been impressing me since Treasure Planet when he was just a wee li'l lad, and I think we can agree that Seth Rogen is a funny dude. Bryce Dallas Howard and Anjelica Huston are both solid leading ladies, as usual. Of all the actors, though, I was most impressed by Anna Kendrick, who I recognized from Up in the Air (and who Sarah tells me is in the Twilight saga); she was at least as impressive as Gordon-Levitt, and at least as funny as Rogen. I'm going to have to keep an eye out for more of her movies. She might become a new favorite as well.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Poor ScarJo

Scarlett Johansson nude cell phone photo 1 (reenactment)
Scarlett Johansson nude cell phone photo 2 (reenactment)
Poor Scarlett Johansson. Yesterday someone released two nude photos of the actress. The photos were released by someone who had hacked her cell phone and stolen the pictures. I'm sure people upload stolen nude pictures to the internet all the time, but I feel particularly bad for attractive famous people that this happens to. For most people, a stolen-and-uploaded nude photo would be a temporary source of embarrassment, and perhaps eventually a funny story. For a well-known and good-looking person like Ms. Johansson, the unintended audience is spectacularly larger than for an unknown party.

Out of respect for Scarlett's privacy, I've reenacted the photos instead of including the originals. You don't need to see them. You know what she looks like, and the poses are like what you see me doing here. Obviously curiosity got the better of me, but, in all fairness, I also looked at Anthony Weiner's stolen nude cell phone photos. I have been a fan of both of these celebrities for a long time (check the back-issues), and I feel so bad for them.

Many of us are naked for some portion of every single day. And we live in a world where cameras are increasingly ubiquitous. I am not one for censorship, but I think we may need to impose some serious penalties on distributing stolen photographs. Perhaps the wider the distribution, the stricter the penalty?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Look Who I Found!

Awhile ago, you may remember if you've been with us for awhile, we started two film projects about a couple of townie characters named Lee Fries and Bentley "Bont" Bontsworth ((We're Not) Bricks & Brass and Community Collegian, if you're curious). We had an up-and-coming musician onboard as musical director for those projects. His name is Brennan Villines, and he looks like this:
I just happened to see this headline today on a link list: "Listen Up: Brennan Villines". It's the same guy - he's currently starring in a production of Bye Bye Birdy. Check out the story at Go Memphis and see that a friend of the Booboisie can become somebody: http://www.gomemphis.com/news/2011/sep/06/listen-brennan-villines/

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Drag Me To Hell


Theatrical poster from Wikipedia
Sam Raimi's Drag Me To Hell is the best monster movie I have seen since Gore Verbinski's The Ring. The film is scary and gross without ever falling into mindlessness. I hadn't heard of the film until Sarah, knowing that I like both Sam Raimi & Justin Long, gave me a copy as a gift. I was extremely surprised and impressed by the quality of the film; I liked even more than The Evil Dead. Dileep Rao, whom I had only otherwise seen in Inception gives an extraordinarily impressive performance in Drag Me To Hell. I don't want to give much away, but the film is remarkably fun and definitely worth checking out.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

A House-Hunting Horror Story

for my good friend Lauren and her husband Neil. Good luck, guys!

At the beginning 2009, Sarah was done with the MSW coursework she intended on taking at IUPUI, and I was still trying to get into grad school. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 included a first-time homebuyer credit of $8000 that need never be paid back so long as the first-time homebuyers stay in their homes for at least 3 years. Since we had nothing to hold us in Indianapolis but our jobs, we started applying for jobs near the graduate schools that I applied to, hoping that one of us would get a job near a school that I would get into. We had crunched the numbers and discovered that, for roughly the same monthly payment as our rent at the time, we could buy a house, build equity, and get a free $8000.

I didn't get into grad school that year, but Sarah landed a job near Bloomington, Indiana, and the house-hunting began.

A nice thing about house-hunting in Bloomington while living in Indy is that we didn't have to take off work to do it - the cities are close enough together that we could do it all during evenings and weekends. I worked in the state building, and I spent my lunchbreaks applying for pre-approvals at the financial institutions in Circle Center (the center of Indianapolis). For what it's worth, 5/3 and Chase were my first choices going in, since I already had accounts at both of these institutions. The representative that I spoke with at 5/3 made it clear that my lunchbreak was close to his lunchbreak, and he'd rather be taking an early lunch than working on a mortgage application for some punk kid. The rep at Chase was superprofessional, though, and Chase had a better rate to offer us anyway, and lower closing costs. The only downside to Chase was that they couldn't guarantee we'd be able to close by the time our lease was up at the end of May.

I talked to our (wonderful, fantastic) landlord, and he said it was fine if we paid month-to-month without a contract until he found new tenants, meaning we could stay past our lease and push the closing back a month. I went down to Chase and paid the application fee to get the ball rolling.

Sarah had already arranged to quit her job in Indy and start her job near Bloomington to coincide with our original closing time. Meanwhile, our Realtor suggested we apply for a mortgage with a company in Bloomington called Mortgage Masters. Sarah went in and talked to a representative there who said it would be "no problem" to get a mortgage closed by our original anticipated move date. I went back to Chase, got my fee back since they hadn't actually started processing the app yet, and went down to Mortgage Masters in Bloomington and paid the fee there instead.

On May 2, 2009 (Free Comic Book Day), we made an offer on a house, it was accepted, and we signed the paperwork to make our agreement binding for 30 days. We ordered a home inspection and put down our earnest money. We dropped off all of the paperwork asked of us at Mortgage Masters, and we went home to our apartment feeling pretty proud of ourselves.

The representative stopped answering her phone and responding to emails when Sarah would try to check on our application. The representative kept emailing us, asking for updated bank records and paystubs, and for older documents that we had already provided. The representative did this so much that we started keeping records of what we sent her, when, and how many times we had to send it again. By the time our scheduled closing date came around, our mortgage master had not even finished our application. We met up with our sellers, apologetically, and we all signed paperwork to extend the agreement another 30 days.

So we paid an extra month at the apartment in Indy. Sarah's parents live near Bloomington, so while she was working there but before we moved down there, she stayed with her parents so she wouldn't have to waste so much time/gas/money commuting so far.

The next 30 days went about the same as the previous 30 days. By the time our new closing date came around, our application was complete but had not yet been sent to the underwriters. We tried to extend our contract with the sellers again, but they were too pissed at already taking off 2 days of work each and getting nowhere. They refused to extend the agreement, raised the price of their house, and said that even if we agreed to pay more than they were asking they wouldn't sell it to us.

All along, our Mortgage Masters representative acted like I didn't exist. When we were there in person, she'd tell Sarah to tell me or ask me things. And when the application still wasn't ready a full month after she said it would be, she laughed with her apology, saying it was no big deal, and it's not like we'd be homeless because of it.

We really thought that an extra month beyond "no-problem"-time would have been enough time for our mortgage master to get it together and we'd be able to move in. We had rented a U-Haul for the second time in as many months, and since we'd had all of our stuff packed up since late May anyway, we went ahead and loaded it up. We'd already agreed to be out of the apartment by the end of June. In one day, we'd gone in our minds (and our lives) from homeowners to homeless.

Sarah's parents let us stash our boxes of everything-we-own in their garage and let us stay with them while we tried to find a new place to live. We made a point to chip in for groceries, but Sarah's parents wouldn't let us pay them any rent or utilities.

We did a lot of hand-wringing about our situation, particularly about whether to stick it out with Mortgage Masters where we'd already sunk thousands of non-refundable dollars and more than three months time. They'd screwed us over bad enough that everything we owned was packed in boxes in a garage, but if we changed lenders, we'd have to spend all that time and money again. We doubled down and hoped that it would not be another three months before we were done with Mortgage Masters.

Somehow, it was a lot easier to house-hunt when we were living in an apartment than when we were overextended houseguests. We saw a lot of interesting houses, many of which would have been fine if we would have had some time to fix them up a little before moving in. As it was, we wanted to find something we could move into right away, so that we could not be homeless anymore.

Applying for a job while not having an address is superdifficult, by the way, so my Bloomington-area job hunt was rather stagnant, and I was commuting to Indy during our homeless days.

My favorite inside-a-house-while-house-hunting memory came during this time. Our realtor had found a foreclosure that was quite a bit less than we'd been expecting to spend, but not so low that we suspected anything terribly wrong with it. When we stopped to look at it, we quickly realized that it has almost the same floor plan as my parents' house. We were pretty excited about it until we discovered one of the rooms was missing a wall to the outside. Well, the wall was laying in the yard instead of attached to the house. Besides that, the house looked great.

Eventually we found the house that we bought, and we closed on it on August 19, 81 days after we were told we'd be able to. 5/3 lent us the money. Our Mortgage Masters representative was late to the closing. My name is spelled "Jonhnanthan" on our documents.

Way back in May we'd gotten some coupons for free grilled KFC that Oprah Winfrey had been giving out, and the night we bought our house, we sat on the floor of the filthy, dirty, empty, wiener-dog-smelling house and ate our grilled chicken. It's been good since we finally moved in, but it was a mess going through the process.

Oh, when we asked our Realtor why she'd recommended Mortgage Masters, she told us that she'd heard good things but had never worked with them before. She said she's not going to recommend them anymore!

So, my advice, if you'd like it: finance your house with an institution you've worked with before and trust and/or plan on the process taking a lot longer than advertised.

Good luck guys!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

"Proposed New Health Insurance Forms Seek To Make Sense Of It All" from the Consumerist

via the Consumerist:

Proposed New Health Insurance Forms Seek To Make Sense Of It All:


Much about the health insurance business is deliberately byzantine, intended to discourage customers from understanding all the fine details of their policies. But today the Department of Health and Human Services proposed a new way of labeling insurance policies that would spell out the costs and benefits of health plans in easy-to-understand language.



"Today, many consumers don't have easy access to information in plain English to help them understand the differences in the coverage and benefits provided by different health plans," said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.



Under the proposed regulations, consumers have access to two forms that will help them understand and evaluate their health insurance choices, including:



*An easy to understand Summary of Benefits and Coverage; and

*A uniform glossary of terms commonly used in health insurance coverage, such as "deductible" and "co-pay."



The forms must be made available to enrollees and potential customers upon request before they buy coverage.



"By making the terms of health insurance plans easier to understand, consumers are less likely to find themselves in health plans that don't meet their needs," said Lynn Quincy, senior health policy analyst for Consumers Union. She says she's "heard too many stories of consumers that purchased a health insurance plan that they didn't understand. Creating this health insurance disclosure will help reduce that confusion much in the same way that recent disclosures for mortgage terms or credit cards have helped to better inform consumers."



To see a PDF of the proposed labels, click here.



Providing Clear and Consistent Information to Consumers about Their Health Insurance Coverage [HealthCare.gov]

Monday, August 15, 2011

Taxes & Services

I often hear people complain about how high taxes are.

I often hear people complain about how shitty government services are.

Sometimes I even hear people complain about how shitty government services are in relation to how high taxes are.

I am tired of how often I hear people complain about how the government is trying to take away their entitlements while complaining about taxes and the very existence of government services.

As I am wont to do, I am calling us to action. If you think you might be a person like one of the generic people I described above, or if you are otherwise dissatisfied with taxes or government services, do something. And by "do something," I do not mean "start to complain" or "keep complaining."

By "do something," I mean if you think that you are better suited for an office than the current officeholder or the favorite for the next election, run for that office. If not, find someone who you think is better and support their campaign.

We act like elected officials are some sort of aloof subsection of society, selected by divine right, when really, they are just people who thought they could do better respective jobs than the people that they replaced and ran against.

Sure, there are some dynastic political families in America, but the only advantage a politician's child has over anyone else in fair elective politics is more opportunity to impress people who have experience supporting winning campaigns.

You'll probably be the underdog, and you'll probably lose the first race you enter and every race thereafter, but you cannot win if you do not run. And you cannot expect the government to do anything differently than it does unless you make changes to the government.

Power to the people.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Federalism

Federalism is one of the keystones of the US system of government, but with today's unsurprising downgrade of the US credit rating, I've been thinking about how much we, in the states, rely on the government at the national level. According to 'kipedia, as of 2011 August 1, the division of national, state, and local resposibilities is roughly as follows:

National government domestic policies

State government policies

Local government policies

  • Variances (adaptation of state law to local conditions)
  • Public works
  • Contracts for public works
  • Licensing of public accommodations
  • Assessable improvements
  • Basic public services

I hadn't ever really thought about it before today, but I am kind of shocked that the local level has the fewest responsibilities. Of course this Wikipedia list is not comprehensive, and some responsibilities, like currency and intellectual property rights make much more sense to be as general and centralized as possible. But I think a compelling tactic to correct the United States budget deficit is to review the responsibilities of the federal government, determine what tasks would make more sense to be done locally and move those tasks from the federal level of government to the local level of government, with the states doing the same thing as the federal government.

People are often expressing concern with alleged "government takeovers"; the government should lose as many duties as it can, pushing them as far down the division of power as possible. Let's use the far-reaching government for things like civil rights protections. Let's use the local level of government for things like business regulation, trade restrictions, immigration policy. States can fill in the gaps on either end.

Why have levels of government if we're going to depend on the most abstracted level for everything? We might as well have a parliamentary monarchy at that point.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Dick Scrub

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Vaginal Puppeteering vs. D**k Scrub
www.colbertnation.com
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Stephen Colbert's Summer's Eve's Hail to the V parody is hilarious, but he seems to have somehow missed the Axe Detailer campaign:

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Blind Rage will kill us all.

Someone I went to high school with posted this status update last night after Casey Anthony, alleged child murderer, was acquitted:

"Everybody go to Caylee's Law and like the page and sign a petition to hopefully change the DOUBLE JEPORADY LAW... maybe it wont help but its worth a try!! JUSTICE FOR CAYLEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"


She wants to change the double jeopardy law--as if double jeopardy is some federal statute that exists by popular vote--because of the outcome of one trial. What the hell is going on?

I understand the frustration that accompanies the feeling a criminal has been allowed to walk free. It's horrible. But at the same time, in a publicized trial, most of what We see is what the Media thinks is the most interesting, which is not necessarily representative of what's really going on in the courtroom. Even if the person looks guilty as sin, that does not a conviction make. Our justice system is founded on a presumption of innocence, not a presumption of guilt with people we think look shifty.

I am, however, rendered almost speechless by the quote above. First, the so-called "double jeopardy law" is not just some obscure technicality that benefits lucky criminals. It arises from a little thing called the United States Constitution--the Fifth Amendment to be exact. In relevant part, the Fifth Amendment reads "nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb." Further Constitutional support is found in the Fourteenth Amendment--"No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States . . . nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws"--which makes the Fifth Amendment's prohibition of double jeopardy binding on the several states as well as the federal government (Benton v. Maryland). Thus, overturning the "double jeopardy" law would, in essence, be to violate (or repeal) the relevant clauses of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. You would change our fucking Constitution just because some jurors in a strange case that has no bearing on your personal life whatsoever couldn't agree that the prosecutor, who seems to be lazy, had satisfied the state's "beyond a reasonable doubt" burden of proof? You have to be kidding me.

Secondly, what happens if you are alleged to have committed a crime, are acquitted, and then prosecuted a second time for the same event? You would be infuriated, scared, harassed. Let's please not throw the baby out with the bathwater just because you personally find the outcome of a single case to be undesirable.

Thirdly, it is the responsibility of a jury--not the public at large--to decide guilt or innocence. That jury was unconvinced by whatever evidentiary showing the prosecution made. I would venture to say the jury, or at least most of the people on it, probably had the same bad feelings toward Casey Anthony as the 5th/14th-repealers do: the story doesn't make sense, she looks guilty, we don't like her, there's a dead toddler and someone must pay, etc. But the jury has a duty--a very, very serious duty--to put aside personal feelings and evaluate the entire picture. Then, the jury must put that information alongside the state's "beyond a reasonable doubt" burden of proof, which in many jurisdictions is treated as somewhere between 90 and 99.9% certainty of guilt; anything less should end in acquittal. If the jurors just weren't convinced that burden was met--regardless of whether their gut feelings tell them she's guilty or that they hate her guts--they had a duty to acquit. That result falls squarely on the prosecution for not mounting enough evidence, presenting it poorly, etc.

Fourthly, even if that little "double jeopardy law" is repealed, there's no guarantee you'd get a conviction to satisfy your bloodlust. What if Anthony is tried again and a second jury acquits her? Then she looks even more innocent, you have egg on your face, and your bloodlust goes unsatisfied. This is sort of like the poor people that play the lottery and pray to win it, because it'll fix all their problems; then when they do win the millions, their lives go in the shitter because the money ruins them, and they end up in a worse situation they started in. Then what?

Lastly, everyone seems to be looking at this situation through the same rage-filled lenses as they did the OJ Simpson verdict. We all assume the bitch is guilty and want her to burn. Fine. But what if she isn't?

Let's look at another polarizing case: JonBenet Ramsey. Popular opinion was that her family was responsible for her death, and they were publicly vilified for it. Many people wanted the family prosecuted and put to death, because they were so certain of their guilt. But in 2008, the Ramsey family was cleared of wrongdoing and deemed innocent. What if, between the death in 1996 and the 2008 declaration of innocence, the family had been tried, falsely convicted, and wrongly executed?

In our rage and bloodlust and desire for justice--especially where an innocent child has been murdered--we still cannot lose sight of the foundations of our system. We can't lose sight of the big picture, and all that hangs in the balance. The reactionary changing of laws based on one data point--here, one case that ends without a satisfactory ending in the minds of many--can easily chip away at our fundamental protections and make the mere act of living in the USA a dangerous endeavor. What if you are falsely accused of a serious crime? Don't you want the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment to protect you? That is what's at stake here: your own safety and protection.

I'm sorry for all the people that are sitting at home crying and worrying about the outcome of the Casey Anthony trial. Benjamin Franklin has echoed the famous "Blackstone formulation" that it's preferable to have ten guilty people walk free than one innocent person suffer. That's kind of the basis of our entire nation's criminal legal code. That's why it takes so long for criminals to be brought to justice: our courts are very, very careful about exercising the burden of judging another human being when lives hang in the balance. It's taken very seriously and it goes back hundreds of years. Ignoring that precedent for the sake of one bad mom that you don't like does not a good idea make.

Have some perspective, people. It's what the Founding Fathers would want.

Estate Law

Out at dinner recently, someone was talking about how she'd like her kids to get an estate lawyer to hide money if she ever ends up in a long-term nursing home. "The government takes so much over your life," she said, "and that money should go to your kids." I almost couldn't disagree more.

She was talking about finding ways to hide money to leave an inheritance for her kids while being able to pay for her own increasing healthcare costs with Medicaid.


I do think that the American government has historically (and presently) done an inadequate job of managing the costs of healthcare for its citizens, but I also think that gaming the system can only worsen the problem.

US Healthcare Spending

"The rules for qualifying for medicaid are always changing," she complained. "They're just trying to keep up with people hiding money to avoid the rules," I retorted. "You're probably right," she admitted, "but I don't feel bad at all hiding money from them."

Since I spilled a Dr. Pepper on her couch the last time I had dinner with them, I decided to leave the conversation at that. However, while I think that the government should do more for sick and elderly adults, I don't think that they should take that money from impoverished families.


I'm all for robinhoodian stealing-from-the-rich-to-give-to-the-poor, but I can't justify stealing-from-the-poor-to-give-my-kids-some-money-when-I-die.

"Y U No" from QuickMeme

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Happy Gays: New York Gay Pride Parade

I really enjoyed Josh Gad's report on the Daily Show last night. I'm glad to see that he's still around, and that he's improving:


Also, apparently he's in The Book of Mormon.

Pornography? Why?


In college, the fish and funnel video described in WTSP article "Hardcore porn, racist e-mail found on Tampa Bay Storm coach Tim Marcum's computer" made its way around campus. It was disturbing. Of course, more amusing pornographic films made their rounds as well, including Love Muffins and Women in Black 2. Watching these films, I wondered what path takes a person from adorable child to licking someone's butt on film.


I know that "How to Make Love Like a Porn Star: A Cautionary Tale" by Jenna Jameson and Neil Strauss is a memoir and is available. That book actually came out the year I started college. However, the reviews of the book have always steered me away from it, describing it as "pandering" and "about 1/3 full of nude pictures."


Recently, I came across a blog by a former pornstar (pictured above, on the right) who went by the name "Ashlynn Brooke" in her pornography days. She is now going by "Ashley" and is accessibly chronicling her memories of her journey from curious high schooler to on-camera butt-licking. So far it's interesting and easy to read. If, like me, you wonder how people end up getting paid for presenting their naughty-times, you might want to check Ashley's Blog out: http://all-things-ash.com/

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Jon Stewart on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace

I haven't had a chance to watch this yet, so I'm just putting it up in full instead of writing something this week:

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Rest in peace, Max Carpenter

Jack Kevorkian, like Ron Burgundy, played jazz flute. If you'd like some thematic music to listen to while you read this week's Fear Goggles, here you go:


Jack Kevorkian died on 2011 June 3, 4 years and 2 days after his release from prison. He had been in prison, as you probably know, for actively and persistently assisting willing humans to euthanize themselves. Kevorkian died not from a euthanasia device, but from a thrombosis.

6 days after Kevorkian's death, a friend of the Booboisie, and family member to Jerry, was euthanized. Rest in peace, Max.



The decision to euthanize a non-human animal is often made by a council composed of that animal's doctor and that animal's adoptive family. In the case of humans, I suspect the decision is made similarly, but in the human case, the person whose life is at stake can also have a say, except in cases where the person in question is too young or otherwise unable to understand or communicate his/her opinions on the subject.

Local legality and acceptance of euthanasia, as I understand it:
  • Non-human animals - legal and largely uncontroversial
  • Pre-natal humans - 1/3 legal and controversial
  • Terminally unconscious humans - legal and mildly controversial
  • Conscious, mentally unfit humans - sometimes punitively legal and controversial
  • Conscious, mentally sound humans - illegal and largely uncontroversial

I cannot understand how this set of legalities and controversialities developed or how it makes any sense. Wikipedia currently lists the following "Reasons for euthanasia" on its "Animal euthanasia" page (reasons are not currently listed on the general "Euthanasia" page):
  • Terminal illness – e.g. cancer
  • Rabies
  • Behavioral problems (that usually cannot be corrected) – e.g. aggression
  • Illness or broken limbs that would cause suffering for the animal to live with, or when the owner cannot afford (or has a moral objection to) treatment.
  • Old age – Deterioration to loss of major bodily functions. Severe impairment of the quality of life.
  • Lack of homes - many shelters receive considerably more surrendered animals than they are capable of re-housing.

I often hear people claim that humans are the only species capable of feelings, including pain and fright. I fully disagree with that idea, but I also don't understand how that idea is compatible with popular views on euthanasia. How is quality of life an issue for an unfeeling beast?

Regardless of the existence of animal emotions, why is a quick, peaceful, medically-induced death acceptable for almost every possible suffering animal except the willing, cognizant human?

At least the suffering animal incapable of communicating its medical desires is allowed a quick, peaceful, medically induced death.

Rest in peace, Max. You too, Jack.

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Fallacy of Memorial Day

There's more than one reason why I don't buy into celebrating Memorial Day. First of all, I think the vast majority of people that celebrate (not necessarily the "three-day-weekender" celebration or the "50%-off-all-furniture-in-the-store" celebration) do so with false sincerity. Most of them seem to want to appear to be sincere in there appreciation, but don't think about it the other 364 days of the year.

Secondly, and more obnoxiously for me, is we artificially inflate the status of servicepeople in our nation compared to other professions. Before you get mad, let me begin by saying none of what's about to follow is designed to belittle or degrade the sacrifice of our armed services. They make incredible sacrifices and I would never want to marginalize that. What follows is, simply, an attempt to give perspective.

Although members of the armed services are given food, housing, college funding, and health care in addition to a paycheck, we act as if they are categorically under-appreciated. Really? In what other profession--except maybe as a Senator--would you get such benefits?

If you're still not following me, think about it this way: what are police and firefighters paid? About $49,000 a year for police and $41,000 for firefighters. While servicemembers may not bring home that much, it's hard to imagine their pay plus their additional benefits don't amount to more than police and firefighters, who don't get those same perks.

Still not with me? Okay, fine. People are quick to deride police that have "desk jobs" because they aren't on the streets. Well, what do you people think the majority of military jobs are? Desk jobs. There are more cooks, painters, and office jockeys than infantrymen, but they're all entitled to wear the uniform and get the praise. How is this double standard fair?

Answer: it isn't. The fact is that the average police officer and firefighter is in real danger every day they go to work, whether in a standoff or directing traffic, or fighting a fire. Thousands of police officers and firefighters die in the line of duty every year. Why do we not celebrate their sacrifices?

There are probably two reasons. First of all, it's become acceptable in our society to villainize police as bad guys and scumbags. There are bad apples in every profession, but allowing those people to typecast the entire profession is ludicrous. We don't villainize all military members after a few of them rape and murder innocent civilians, or go crazy and shoot their comrades. Police and firefighters should be no different.

Secondly, we are afraid to criticize members of the armed services. If a Marine rapes and kills a woman and her children in a war zone, we say, "What a shame, the pressure must've gotten to him," and that's the end of it. But if a cop pulls you over and gives you a ticket, all cops are scumbags. Just the same, there's a culture that it's unacceptable to not treat the military as demi-gods. They are human beings just like you and me. We need to stop pretending they are angels doing God's work with assault rifles and missiles.

So until we start celebrating our police and firefighters and stop pretending like every person with a military uniform is an infallible Captain America, I won't be satisfied. I know it's not a popular position to take, but I don't care. It's the right position to take.

Happy Memorial Day.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Post Office Rant (possibly "Post Office Rant Redux")

I haven't written anything for good ol' Fear Goggles in months (thanks for nothing, law school, your steaming pile of time-wasting horseshit!), so in my non-triumphant return I'm going to discuss something I may have already railed against in the past. But given that no one reads this blog and even if they do, they probably aren't familiar with the full body of work herein, I'm going to cover the subject anyway. Also, if you didn't know that maybe (again, I'm still not sure) I've written about this previously and only found out about it because of the last sentence, here's a special instruction: ignore the previous sentence and start anew at the next paragraph.

I was in line in the post office a few days ago to mail a package. It was about noon, which is always a busy time at the post office. However, on this day only about 5 people were in line: 2 in front of me, and two in the back.

I'd been there about a minute perhaps when I hear the following statement from the person behind me in line:

"This is what's wrong with our government. They can't do anything. How hard is it to run the post office, really? They keep raising the cost to mail, they lose your mail, the service is slow in the office and in delivery, and they are all idiots. They like using what little power they have to give you the third degree when you mail a package. I'm so sick of this stupid government-owned crap, it's a joke."

I don't know where to begin, so I'm going to fire off my key points in list format. (It's a blog--there's no rule against that).

  • First of all, just because the USPS is a government organization doesn't mean that it's useless and defective. It just means it's a government organization. Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.
  • Secondly, it's really hard to manage billions of pieces of mail for 350+ million people in one of the largest geographical areas on the planet. It's sort of a miracle that anyone ever gets their mail on time, if at all.
  • What does it cost to send a letter first class from NY to LA? Like fifty cents? Are you such a miserable cheap bastard that you feel gouged when someone carries a piece of paper for you cross country in 3 days or less for less than a dollar? If you'd never seen mail prices and someone said "How much do you think it would cost if you gave a letter to this company and had them produce it 3,000 miles away in less than three days?" your guess would probably be at least $50. So what if they raised stamps 1-cent! It's still a fucking steal and one of the few true bargains in the world! If the USPS had raised prices in accordance with inflation and gas prices, it would cost about $5 to mail a letter. But, luckily, those scumbags are owned by our shitty government (remember that point you made earlier?) and they subsidize it to keep the mail affordable for everyone. What jerks!
  • When was the last time you actually had the USPS lose your mail? Or even damage it? You probably can't remember, can you? And even if you do remember, I bet it was an isolated incident, and not a pattern of reckless abandon as you suggested.
  • Service in the post office isn't that slow. Even if you were in line at McDonald's when it's busy, you're going to be in line 5 or 10 minutes. Why is it acceptable to stand in line for a shitty manufactured sleazeburger but you can't wait more than 10 seconds to send a letter? Be consistent!
  • And the "third degree" business. You may not recall 9/11 and the subsequent anthrax scare, or the pipe bombs of the 1990s, but that's why postal workers ask what's in the package when you mail it. It's not Big Brother. It's not to be nosy or go on a power trip. It's to help make sure the mail is safe. Admittedly, if you're sending a dirty bomb in the mail and Betty Postworker asks "Is there anything liquid, chemical, or potentially hazardous in the package?" you aren't going to say, "Damn, you got me, I totally put a bomb in there; good one, Betty." But it might catch someone acting weird and it'll tip them off to scan the box before they mail it to Washington, D.C.
  • Lastly, if that's how you feel about the post office, why are you here in the first place? Why aren't you down at Fedex or UPS getting stellar customer service, speedy delivery, and rock-bottom prices? The answer is "because it costs less than a fucking dollar to send a fucking letter from fucking Kentucky to fucking Timbuktu."
You aren't entitled to first-class service just because you pay taxes. I pay taxes too, and I don't expect to get V.I.P. treatment when I mail a letter. The fact is the post office is a huge public service to us all, and we pay shockingly little to enjoy its benefits.

So if you're the asshole standing in line 30 seconds at the post office and throw a hissy fit, here's my advice: Stop being such a jerkoff, because we're all waiting patiently and you should do the same. Your time is no more important than mine, and I'm willing to wait 5 minutes to ship a package for $3 when it would cost $10 to sent it through another provider.

And if you really don't like the post office and won't back down, have Fedex or UPS deliver all your mail. See how long you want to foot that bill before you complain about waiting 3 minutes at the post office, you leech.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

"Raw: O'Reilly vs. Stewart Over Common Controversy" from Fox News

"Republican Candidate" from Saturday Night Live




10u: Ed Helms / Paul Simon

Republican Candidate

Republican Candidate.....Ed Helms

[ open on stock footage of eagle soaring, majestic fields, etc. ]

Announcer: This election season, America will decide if we want four more years of politics as usual... or if we think, as a nation, we can do better.

[ dissolve to random Republican candidate seated on his desk ]

Republican CandidateI think we can do better. Hello, I'm either Tim Pawlenty, Mitch Daniels, or Gary Johnson. And I believe I'M the man that can get this country back on track.

[ cut to close-up shot ]

I understand that, with such a crowded field of candidates, it's hard to tell us apart. We all look the same, and our names are boring. But, whoever I am, there are some things I know to be true.

[ cut to wide shot ]

I know that free enterprise is the beating heart of any vibrant democracy. I know that I'm a white male between the ages of 45 and 60. I know that I'm not Donald Trump or Newt Gingrich, because you know what they look like. But I might be Joh Huntsman or John Thune. In conclusion: My dad, the military, dogs, church stuff.

I'm Tim Pawlenty, Mitch Daniels, John Thune, John Huntsman, Gary Johnson, Mitch Johnson, Tim Daniels, or Hunt Mitchman. And I approved this message.

[ cut to American flag graphic ]

Announcer: Paid for by Land's End.

[ fade ]

Writers:

Doug Abeles

James Anderson

Alex Baze

Heather Anne Campbell

Jessica Conrad

Jim Downey

Tom Flanigan

Shelly Gossman

Steve Higgins

Colin Jost

Erik Kenward

Rob Klein

Jonathan Krisel

Seth Meyers

Lorne Michaels

John Mulaney

Christine Nangle

Michael Patrick O'Brien

Paula Pell

Simon Rich

Marika Sawyer

Akiva Schaffer

John Solomon

Kent Sublette

Bryan Tucker




SNL Transcripts

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Faxes today

The Bad Mutha Booboisie needed to file its annual property taxes for the first time, and we had the option to mail or fax it in. I typically use a free fax service online when I need to fax something like this, and I intended to do so this time. On Thrusday, I prepared my files into two 3-page PDFs and uploaded them to the service. I entered the required information, confirmed my request, and left them processing while I went to mow my front lawn.

When I got back from mowing, I found that the first 3 pages had gone through while the subsequent 3 pages had not gotten a response from the receiving fax machine. I tried to try again, but the limit of 2 faxes per 24-hours apparently includes failed faxes in the count. I tried 3 other free online services; none worked. On Friday, I took my file to my day job with me and tried 4 times to fax from there; no response each time. I ended up mailing my tax files, but I wonder: why do we still use the fax system?

Why don't we have automatic backup-to-email settings and fax-via-DSL or wifi? I don't understand how fax has survived without evolving. Please explain it to me.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

J Crew & Toes


J Crew recently featured pictures of their creative director Jenna Lyons and her son Beckett in an advertisement called "Saturday with Jenna", which we have lovingly parodied, above. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart episode that brought my attention to the ad (the segment is available in two clips at the end of this article) indicated a general negativity towards the ad from the news media in general. A quick Google search gives the same indication.

Why? Are we concerned that men who were raised to disregard meaningless gender roles will fail to keep women in their place? Are we worried that Beckett will grow up to be a little girl who stands up for human rights instead of being man enough to insult a little kid he's never met and will likely never meet? Perhaps, as the Daily Mail reported, the problem is that the ad "celebrates transgendered identity."

Transgendered identities, like women, children, foreigners, non-whites, and non-Christians, should obviously not be celebrated. We all know that fully-grown white Christian American English-speaking men are the only real people.

Seriously, though, my interest in shopping at J Crew went from near 0 to extreme with this ad.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Don't Tax America's Dad

This week's contribution by our own Jerry Carpenter was originally posted last night at Jerry's Blug Specktacular:


In order to generate some revenue for this thing (you have no idea how much Sharpie pens and sketch pads go for these days), we've turned over the following Blag, er, Blug post to the American Tea Partier Founding Fathering and Fostering America's Future In The Coming Years of Obama-Struction. Take it away, guys:

Shhhh, America. It's okay. The ATPFFAFAFINCYOOS knows your scared, but you don't have to be.


You've heard the news. Obama's new budget plan calls for a tax increase on the wealthiest families. Instead of cutting the wasteful spending of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, he has opted to declare all out war on America's true social security: the people that prove the free market works. Corporations all over are demonized, but what the liberal-progressive socialists don't want you to know is that Corporate America is like America's Dad. Corporate America knows when you need to learn the responsibility of working a low wage job for the good of Daddy. Daddy can't run the economy if he's paying you more than it's worth to hang sheet rock. Corporate America knows when to quell your fears of environmental Armageddon; oil spills help us appreciate the ocean, tar sand emissions help us appreciate the air. Daddy has to have some fun, though, too. Raising America is hard. The ATPFFARARINCYOOS understands that once and while, Daddy has to live a little and go hogwild at the Del Derivatives Casino. That's what Daddies do. You have to let Daddy have his fun. If we start taxing America's Dad, America's Dad is going to up and leave, and HE'S NEVER COMING BACK! DO YOU HEAR ME?!? LEAVING AND NEVER COMING BACK AND YOU'LL BE SORRY WHEN HE'S GONE AND NEVER COMES TO YOUR BIRTHDAY!


Support America's Dad. Don't Tax Him. Otherwise, you'll be left alone to be touched inappropriately by creepy Uncle Obama.

Everybody Mambo!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

By Request, Peak Oil

Jerry has been concerning himself lately with Peak Oil, which is currently defined on Wikipedia as "the point in time when the maximum rate of global petroleum extraction is reached, after which the rate of production enters terminal decline." If I understand correctly, the worry comes from the fact that most of our socioeconomic reality is dependent on oil; a decline in and eventual depletion of oil will likely mean drastic social and economic changes. The change could be for the worse, which is, I believe, the big fear here. Prices of just about everything will skyrocket into prohibitivity. Many, maybe most, people will lose their jobs because they won't be able to afford their respective commutes. The world economy will collapse more that it has in the entire history of economics. More people will be dying of poverty-related problems than not.
Maybe I'm just too optimistic and/or sadistic, but I'm looking forward to Peak Oil. The idea that Peak Oil is avoidable seems farfetched to me, but I hope that Peak Oil can be the straw that breaks the camel's back.
Our social and economic systems are outdated and need to be replaced or reformed. On the 2011 March 28 episode of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Mansour O. El-Kikhia pointed out that the Westphalian system of nation-states has been in place, virtually unchanged since 1648, and that this system is outdated, almost obsolete. Using the social media uprisings in Egypt and the American wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya as examples, El-Kikhia asserted that the Westphalian system of sovereign nation-states cannot last much longer. I agree with him, and I would add terrorism, the European Union, the internet, the Great Recession, and Peak Oil as factors in the upcoming fall of Westphalianism. Taken alone, Peak Oil would probably be catastrophic. Taken with the other aforementioned factors and other current and future world situations, however, Peak Oil might make the world a better place. My advisor in college said that he drives a gas-guzzler conscientiously, in an effort to force the world to find alternative energy solutions more quickly. I'd rather we move away from oil by choice, but if we move away by necessity, at least we still move away. The right thing for the wrong reasons is still an improvement. If Peak Oil is what we need to finally shake our oil addiction, I say bring the pain. After we ride out the withdrawal, we'll be stronger for it.