Posted by Cameron @ 6:17 pm on July 30th 2011

One better than a quartet

David Grisman Quintet – Dawg’s Rag

Posted by Rojas @ 5:13 pm on July 30th 2011

We are not enemies.

I don’t know that I can deal anymore with the way political ideologues treat those with whom they disagree. As a democratic polity, I fear we have badly lost our way.

I’ll begin with a couple of acknowledgements. For starters: I suppose that there ARE people out there in America who desire to see their nation fail. There have been traitors in American history. There are people who think that America ought to be cut down to size, relative to other nations. As a rule these people are not deep cover agents, hiding behind a more politic mask; as a rule they tend instead to be rather open in their views; nonetheless, I will accept that there are perhaps a few people hiding amongst us who wish to plunge America into chaos in order to further some agenda of their own. (more…)

Posted by Brad @ 3:46 pm on July 30th 2011

Music Video of the Week

Appropriate for DeptCeilingocolypse Weekend.

Turn this mother up.

Nine Inch Nails – Wish

Posted by Rojas @ 3:11 pm on July 28th 2011

That goddamn chart

The above chart, published in the New York Times on Sunday and currently shambling through all forms of social media and the blogosphere, reflects one of the most consistently disingenuous partisan arguments out there, specifically: that continued Republican opposition to ending the Bush tax cuts is either a driver of the budget deficit or the primary driver of the budget deficit. Let’s review recent events, shall we? (more…)

Posted by Brad @ 9:53 am on July 28th 2011

Herman Cain: “Turns Out, Muslims Are Actual People. I have Been Misinformed.”

It apparently had just never occurred to him before that all American muslims might not be terrorists seeking imposition of Sharia Law.

The more you know

For some reason, this is even MORE disturbing to me than when I thought he was just an asshole.

Posted by Brad @ 9:45 am on July 28th 2011

The Most Mainstream Fringe Position In America

The NAACP officially endorses an end to the War on Drugs. More here. They join such nutbags as the Global Commission on Drug Policy and the Attorney General of the United States in endorsing such a reversal.

Posted by Brad @ 1:53 pm on July 26th 2011

Music Video of the Week

One of my favorite bluegrass song chorus’ ever. Great band to see live, btw.

Yonder Mountain String Band – Troubled Mind

Posted by Rojas @ 8:54 pm on July 25th 2011

Obama Saves America liveblog

Because why not?

Posted by Brad @ 11:29 am on July 25th 2011

Worth Noting

Rick Perry is, I expect, going to announce his candidacy for the Republican nomination soon. He will be running mostly against Mitt Romney, as a more socially conservative and Tea Party friendly alternative, and he will also play the role as the saner and more experienced but still dyed-in-the-red conservative alternative to Michelle Bachmann. He’s going to try to fulfill the Buckley maxim for Republican primary voters, of being the most electable conservative in the race, and he may well win the nomination with that strategy.

But even he, when given the opportunity to criticize New York for its recent legalization of gay marriage, takes a pass, saying “That’s New York, and that’s their business, and that’s fine with me.” Story here.

That strikes me as something of a watershed moment, and another data point that, even among the right-wing of the Republican party, the electoral gains of flogging the “threat to marriage!” horse are seen as past the point of diminishing returns. It’s not that Perry will be a pro-same sex marriage candidate – he most certainly will not be. But he seems to be making a conscious decision to not bang on about it much, leaving it instead to the increasingly marginalized platforms of the likes of Rick Santorum. Worth noting that the guy who is running a campaign entirely predicated on being to the right of Mitt Romney, on this issue, picks this one issue to move to the left.

Posted by Brad @ 9:52 am on July 25th 2011

A Good Cop

If we post recorded police stops, generally it’s to highlight awful behavior on the part of police.

So you know what? I’ll post a video of outstanding behavior on the part of a police officer.

A guy is walking down the street in Oceanside, California with a gun on his hip, as permitted by law. A cop pulls over to check him out. The guy starts recording, and clearly he’s of the same school of thought as the Campaign for Liberty TSA kid, in that he’s going to be cooperative to the bare minimum required of him by law, including not giving ID, and not giving his name and information (aside from his carry permit (which, presumably, has his name on it anyway)).

Watch how Officer Matt Lyons with the Oceanside Police Department handles the situation.

Posted by Rojas @ 1:03 am on July 24th 2011


Here is what happens when a Canadian sports franchise fails to make its team lineup photos available for a road game.

Wrestling fans will appreciate the accompanying music.

Posted by Rojas @ 11:21 pm on July 23rd 2011

Quote of the day

“The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies. … Leadership means that ‘the buck stops here.’ Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better. I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America’s debt limit.”

-Senator Barack Obama, March 2006.

Posted by Brad @ 2:50 pm on July 22nd 2011

Music Video of the Week

Theme version!

This week’s theme: songs for which the chorus, but nothing else, was already written before the original songwriter came to them.

It’s a micro-genre I like a lot, wherein a songwriter hears a snatch of something – or an outright song chorus – and then just goes ahead and finishes the song.

My favorite of the genre is a song that, sadly, doesn’t appear to exist online. Jim Infantino had a dream one night, in which he was at the Iron Horse in Boston pulling on the drapes (the Iron Horse doesn’t have drapes), and singing the chorus of a song that went “Put a cold beer on her wrist, Rita,” and sounded sort of like a Tom Waits song. Anyway, he woke up, had that snatch of song in his head for days, and finally wrote the song. Although, as he was quick to point out, the song was theoretically already written, so it was more like rewriting something he couldn’t remember.

Close second: Peter Mulvey, who had a friend who had written a chorus that went:

“She was just a stranger, a stranger, a stranger,
She was just a stranger, too.
She was just a stranger, a stranger a stranger,
She was just a stranger too.
She was just a stranger, a stranger, a stranger,
She came in to town just lookin’ for a manger
She was a stranger —
She wasn’t looking for you.”

And for years Peter always thought that ought to be a full song, and then one day he vaguely remembered somebody that his father had once mentioned to him, a guy named Dynamite Bill. So Peter asked his dad about him, and wrote the song. Full story, and song, here at 3:25. A better version of the song was a previous MVOTW.

Anyway, for this week, I think I’m going to go with:

Colin Hay – Oh, California

If you have other examples, please, share them in comments.

Posted by Brad @ 12:00 pm on July 22nd 2011

Gary Bauer Attempts to Make the Libertarian Case Against Same Sex Marriage

Really, that headline kind of says it all, and if you might suspect that Gary Bauer making a libertarian case against same sex marriage is entirely dependent on fundamental misunderstandings of both same sex marriage and libertarianism, congratulations! You’re right.

Posted by Brad @ 10:15 am on July 22nd 2011

The Casket Monks of Covington, Louisiana

If you hadn’t heard about it, in Covington, LA there is an abbey who recently began building and selling simple wooden caskets as their main source of income. This ran afoul of the local death care industry, who for the last hundred years had themselves overseen the regulatory and licensing requirements for such activities. They claimed the monks needed high school diplomas, a year of apprenticeship in embalming, a parlour that could seat 30 people and six caskets, a room fully equipped for embalming, etc. etc. etc…all for the right to make and sell wooden boxes.

It’s been an almost perfect example of how business regulations – those things that progressives always demand as a way of preventing “corporations” and “big business” from screwing the little guy – are, more often than not, used by corporations and big business to screw the little guy. In any case, the monks challenged the regulatory scheme that essentially sought to codify an economic oligarchy, and this week, they won their case. Read that whole article for a great summary/rundown. Reason also has done good coverage for this story.

The case may still go to the Supreme Court on appeal, and let’s hope it does. The more precedents against government – in collusion with business – trying to fiat who wins and loses in markets, the better.

Oh, and feel free to visit the site for Saint Joseph Abbey, if you’re so inclined, or are in the market.


Posted by Brad @ 3:25 pm on July 21st 2011

The Republicans on the Debt Ceiling as Objectively Insane

I don’t normally get up in arms much about the “mainstream media”, but am I the only person who is a bit bothered by the at-this-point-standard characterization of Republicans who are trying to get spending concessions in return for raising the debt ceiling as being either objectively insane or some kind of supervillians out to destroy the American economy?

I understand the need to raise the debt ceiling and not default on our debt, as a short term practical matter, but it seems to me that the conversation should not begin with “here is this pure formality that we have done 74 times since 1962 and requires absolutely no thought or debate,” but rather “our spending is so disproportionate to our revenue that not only do we have to take out massive debt to pay for it, but we have to INCREASE the amount of debt we take with each passing year.”

The problem, it seems to me, begins not with fair weather intransigence on spending cuts or tax increases, but rather on a fundamental disinclination to deal with a government that costs more than can be afforded.

We are financing the majority of our government spending by borrowing money we have no intention of paying back. And it’s the people NOT choosing to annually rubber stamp an exacerbation of that problem who are the fiscal lunatics?

Posted by Brad @ 4:40 pm on July 18th 2011

One-Hitting the Republicans

Thursday was the 50th Annual Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game. Turns out newly elected Representative for New Orleans’ Second District, Democratic Rep. Cedric Richmond, used to play a little ball in college.


Posted by Brad @ 10:17 am on July 18th 2011

Well, at Least We No Longer Disappear People to Secret Prisoners to be Tortured Anymore…

Is there any further refuge for the last Obama-holdouts who supported him, like I did, to get America past Bush-era abuses in civil liberties and execution of the war on terror?

If so, they maybe ought to read the expose by Jeremy Scahill in The Nation, about new black site prisons being set up around the world (this one in Somalia). Obama has not ended the practice – if anything, he has institutionalized it and added extra layers of secrecy and smokescreens. Glenn Greenwald zooms out.

Posted by Brad @ 10:43 am on July 14th 2011

Forget 2036 – Apparently, Social Security Doesn’t Have Enough Money to Get Past August 2nd

Merrill Matthews brilliantly nails Obama and his administration for accidentally exposing the complete fabrication that is “the social security trust fund” – purported to have $2.6 trillion in real assets, or so we’ve been told repeatedly over the years.

Posted by Brad @ 9:42 am on July 14th 2011

Perfidy and Bin Laden?

As details of the bin Laden raid continue to leak out, there’s one in particular that have given me and a few other people pause. Namely, the Guardian is reporting that American intelligence organized a fake vaccination program in the neighborhood in which the bin Laden compound was thought to be, as a way of potentially gaining access to his DNA (by extracting blood while vaccinating his children). The details can be found here.

A few years ago, you may recall, Colombian counter-narcotic forces rescued handful of long-held hostages taken by the rebel FARC, and which included three Americans: Thomas Howes, Marc Gonsalves and Keith Stansell. The hostages were rescued by Colombian officials pretending to be the Red Cross, getting the rebels to agree to an inspection of the hostages, and then…yoink.

I wrote at the time about the concept of perfidy – that is flying a false flag or otherwise convincing your enemies that you’re there for humanitarian reasons and instead, you know, shooting them when they surrender. The Bin Laden action is not precisely that, I think. No military action was taken at the time, it was not precisely in the context of a war, no specific organization was represented – really it falls much more cleanly under the category of garden variety intelligence ruse. Although it’s pretty iffy, my guess would be a fair court would likely rule that this action was permissible.

And yet, it is, after a fashion, an action that is problematic for the same reason you can’t pretend to be the Red Cross and then shoot the guy when he comes to you for treatment (or when he allows you to provide humanitarian aid to hostages). Namely, the ruse is an exploitation of precisely the same impulse that allows pretending to be the Red Cross to work: that is, the inherent trust that enemies have in the notion that humanitarian workers and doctors are not, in fact, agents of a military campaign exploiting your trust in them to get you killed. That a doctor approaching you to treat wounds, fundamentally, ought to be treated differently than you would treat somebody that might fall under the category of combatant. That humanitarian workers are out-of-bounds for either exploitation or retaliation.

Of course, nobody really gives a shit about whether resorting to trickery to get Bin Laden was “fair” or not, and if there’s anybody who has shown a propensity to exploit and retaliate against humanitarian workers, it’s Al Queda. That’s not the point. The point is, once you begin to pose as the Red Cross, or humanitarian workers, or local doctors going out in the community to give Hepatitis B vaccinations, then the enemy, quite rationally and justifiably, can view those people as no-longer off-limits. In a world in which America has a reputation for playing by a set of relatively clear rules, it might make America’s job harder, but our enemies are almost lulled into playing by those same rules. In a world where we don’t vaccinate children to enable us to kill their fathers, our enemies have no reason to mistrust vaccinations or the physicians and nurses who are giving them. In a world where the Red Cross relief workers or the nurse down the street providing medical care to neighborhood children might, in fact, be CIA agents come to kill you, those people are suddenly fair game.

So while the Bin Laden action isn’t quite flying a false flag, I think it’s an action of a similar kind. And the more we throw out the rule book in our military conduct and cease to care about holding ourselves to any ideals or constraints save those that are directly beneficial to the most immediate military (or police) action being taken, the more it’s us, as much as them, sowing the seeds of anarchy and nihilism.

James Fallows, Maryn McKenna, Kent Sepkowitz, and Christopher R. Albon all have thoughts on this that are worth reading.

Posted by Cameron @ 10:51 pm on July 13th 2011

Who knew talking was so complex?

This is a quicktime video which I’ve never been a fan of but the video well worth checking out. It’s a remarkable side view of our tongue and head while we’re speaking.

The source is here and there are some other interesting ones on the USC SPAN website who were the initial researchers.

Posted by Brad @ 2:04 pm on July 13th 2011

Now That DADT Has Been Repealed…

I really want to see a YouTube video of some big burly bear Marine asking out “Friends with Benefits” director Will Gluck to the Marine Corps Ball.

Posted by Brad @ 12:27 pm on July 12th 2011

Ron Paul to Not Seek Reelection to Congress

His current term will be his last in the legislature, Lew Rockwell and Ron’s hometown paper report. He will instead focus on what has become the Cottage Industry of Ron Paul, his presidential run (or his son’s), his Campaign for Liberty, his educational efforts, his brand, etc.

I can’t say I blame him – he is getting up there in years too, and I’m sure he’s trying to keep all the balls in the air takes a tremendous amount of time and energy. Still a shame – after being elected to Congress as a non-incumbent three times, and spending decades as a dismissed back-bencher in, essentially, a caucus of one, Paul’s finally gotten a measure of respect and institutional power. His perennial bills like abolishing the TSA, auditing the fed, and ending the drug wars, are ones he introduces every year, but have only recently been successful in actually starting debates versus being dismissed and ignored out of hand. Colleagues are more likely than at any point in his career to either work with him or get out of his way. And after finally getting a committee posting, he’s able to run hearings on his pet issues of the gold standard and federal reserve, commanding attention. After half a lifetime fighting to even be heard, it’s really only been in the last two years when everything has finally come to fruition in his congressional career. Dr. No had finally come into his own.

So, the end of an era to be sure. America has been the better for him, and for those of us who have tilted at the same windmills, he was a bastion of hope-against-hope, a beacon of sanity-in-an-insane-system. Congress has never seen one like him, and likely never will. He will be missed, and the vacuum that will be created for his absence will be hard, if not impossible, to ever fill again – to the detriment of all of us who love the ideals the country was founded upon.

Posted by Brad @ 11:50 am on July 12th 2011

Problematizing Libya

We’re still there, by the way. And now nobody seems precisely sure what’s going on, what should be going on, or what will be going on. Who could have predicted that another ambiguous military intervention in a weird-o Middle Eastern state might turn into a quagmire? If only we knew. But, hindsight, 20/20, all that, you know. We’ll get it right next time, surely.

Posted by Brad @ 11:24 am on July 12th 2011

The Standford Prison Experiment

Is about 40 years old now. Stanford’s alumni magazine catches up with some of the participants of what remains one of psychology’s most fascinating and achingly relevant insights into human behavior.

Posted by Brad @ 1:52 am on July 10th 2011

Ahh Baseball

Two things:

1. Jose Bautista is the best player in baseball. He is inhuman. This has nothing to do with anything.

2. Go Pirates. Also nothing to do with anything.

3. I watch a lot of baseball games, and I have to say the best color commentators in the game are Jerry Remy and Don Orsillo who do the broadcasts for the Red Sox. They’re extremely smart and insightful, of course, but more than most, they’re also enormously entertaining and have great chemistry.

Anyway, here they are reacting to a play off the field.

Original Video – More videos at TinyPic

Posted by Brad @ 4:15 pm on July 8th 2011

How to be a Politician

Edward Miliband, the Leader of the Labour Party and Leader of the Opposition in the UK, shows you how it’s done.

Two thoughts:

1. This is what all politicians are going to sound like in 5 years as any off-color, non-scripted, or even just original remarks are becoming more and more dangerous by the day. It’s easy to take the piss out of Miliband here, but it’s really nobody’s fault but our own.

2. Where’s Dizzy when you need him. :(

Posted by Brad @ 9:13 am on July 8th 2011

Social Media Background Checks

I’m glad I came of age at the cusp of the internet age, rather than when it was in full swing. In any case, although employers regularly google job candidates, a few consulting firms are making the first forays into systematizing background checks based on your social media footprint.

Posted by Jack @ 9:56 pm on July 7th 2011

Lights and Reefers

Patrick Appel notes the apparently new to many concept of LED based home lighting technology. The short version: traditional incandescent light bulbs are grossly inefficient, wasting much of the energy on heat rather than light. Most of us are already familiar with power compact fluorescents, the spirally things now effectively mandated in Europe. Indeed, they are much more efficient in terms of light output per watt. But LEDs put them both to shame, generating extraordinary light, even full daylight spectrum light, for a fraction of the energy cost, with the added benefit of lasting for years and years.

Those of us in the reef keeping hobby, i.e., we who maintain salt water aquariums designed to house not merely fish, but also the far more challenging corals, have been following the tech in this area for years. Many of us, including yours truly, have already shifted our reef lighting method to LEDs. Most coral requires significant light, far more than traditional aquariums, and so lighting methodology has been a major source of discussion and experimentation. Very High Output fluorescents gave way to Metal Halides decades ago. More recently, narrow tubed T5 High Output fluorescents have been making inroads into the MH market share due to light efficiency and bulb-to-water heat transfer advantages. But LED’s are truly the new wave, and reefers the world over are converting. I shifted from a MH/VHO combo eating 820 watts to a pure LED rig that consumers a mere 165w, while also providing greater light spectrum flexibility and enormously greater bulb life expectancy. I may have to augment a bit with some additional LEDs to truly match the old set ups numbers, but I am confident I will keep it under 250 watts.

What I would like to know is if the “other” reefers have begun to transition. You know, the gardeners. Their community has been using metal halides for a long while as well. The significant heat production and electrical draw has been a downside exploited by law enforcement to find grow houses. LEDs, if usable in their “hobby”, would alter that equation.

Posted by Jack @ 9:10 pm on July 7th 2011

U.N. Peacekeepers, the Srebrenica Massacre, and Liability

David Bosco highlights an interesting ruling in a Dutch court holding that the Netherlands government is responsible in the deaths of 8000 civilians during the 1995 Srebrenica massacre. It’s an important decision, though under appeal and likely to have limited immediate impact. I take issue with Bosco’s characterization of the decision, suggesting as he does that it will have a chilling effect on international willingness to participate in United Nations Peace Support Operations, ostensibly because this ruling alerts potential troop contributing countries to an additional hazard they face: legal consequences for failure to protect civilians.

The ruling was a remarkable victory for the Bosnian who had doggedly pursued the case, but it could also send shockwaves through the UN peacekeeping system. Ideally, it would stiffen the spine of often passive peacekeepers. States active in peacekeeping might decide that their troops must now be more vigilant about preventing human rights abuses on their watch. The unfortunate reality is that the precedent may simply discourage states from participating. Why send troops into unstable situations and run the risk that your government will be held responsible for atrocities they fail to prevent?

Bosco is not wrong regarding a theoretical cooling effect of an increasingly demanding mission set for peacekeepers, though it is certainly not this ruling that establishes that requirement, but rather an extraordinary increase in international and U.N. emphasis on Protection Of Civilians in international conflict areas, especially by official U.N. PSOs. Along with countering Sexual and Gender Based Violence, POC is the new acronym cum watchword in peacekeeping; this ruling is Johnny Come Lately in terms of forewarning potential mission participants. One merely needs to visit the front page of the U.N. Department of Peace Keeping Office to find this article, number two on the page, just below children in conflict.

Besides, countries don’t participate in these missions out of the kindness in their hearts; they do it for international prestige, for multinational cooperative building purposes, and for money. The U.N. handsomely compensates troop contributing nations (and the individual soldiers) based upon a set formula: the more troops and equipment you contribute, the more money you get, and it is of an order of magnitude that many countries finance a significant portion of their defense budget with it. The supposed additional liability burden surrounding protection of civilians is not negligible, but nor is it a surprise sprung upon unsuspecting peacekeeping nations by a Dutch court.

Via Zoë Pollock at The Dish.

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