Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Rein In Blood

Dear Bernie Sanders campaign staff:

You generally do a good job of letting anything embarrassing or pants-on-head go out on your email blasts. But please, for the love of Kang and Kodos, watch out for well-known usage errors:

"Rein in" is a horse metaphor, not a king metaphor.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Live-blogging the Houston Bernie Sanders rally

20:27 Sanders brings up racism, and one person starts shouting "Black Lives Matter". Some congratulatory throat-clearing about electing Obama and color of their character. Then name-checks Sandra Bland, Freddie Gray, Tamir Rice. Calls for police to be held accountable, to be "part of their community, not oppressors in the community".

20:17 "All of us have a moral responsibility to ensure that the planet we leave our children and grandchildren is habitable."

20:06 Overturn Citizens United.

20:04 Wall Street, To Big To Fail, Glass-Steagall, break up the big banks.

20:01 Calls for 13 million infrastructure jobs.

19:53 Pivot to "family values": legally guaranteed paid medical and family leave, paid sick leave, length of work weeks, paid vacation.

"Forcing women to return to work five days after childbirth is the opposite of a family value."

19:50 Sanders calls current minimum wage a "starvation wage" and calls for $15/hour. "It is not a radical idea in America that if a person works 40 hours a week then they should not be in poverty." Calls on men to fix the gender wage gap.

19:46 Unemployment, underemployment, and youth unemployment (17-25). Breaks down stats by race. "We are turning our backs on an entire generation. And if you think this is unrelated to the millions in prison, you would be mistaken."

19:43 "This campaign us singlehandedly sending a message to the billionaire class, and that message is, you can't have it all. You cannot combine to ship jobs to China when millions here need work."

19:38 Apparently the issue portion of the speech starts now. Go figure. First up: income inequality.

19:37 "I want you to tell your working class Republican friends and coworkers about the Republican budget. Ask them about cuts to Medicare and Medicaid. Ask them about cuts to Pell grants. Ask them about WIC. Ask them about outsourcing jobs. And then ask them about tax cuts for the top two-tenths of a percent."

19:34 "I have taken in virtually every powerful special interest in this country, and many if them hate my guts."

19:31 "Fifty state strategy". "You cannot be a national political party, claiming to represent working families, and leave untouched half the states in the nation."

19:28 "People ask me, why on earth are you coming to Texas? My answer: I do know that this is a conservative, Republican state, and that's exactly why I'm here."

19:27 Sanders takes the stage.

19:25 Cummings hit labor, TPP, environment hard.

19:15 Claude Cummings vice president of the Communication Workers of America, gives introduction.

* All quotes are paraphrases.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Weekend Photography

Had a chance to do some shooting last weekend. Some friends-of-friends had a crawfish boil out on the old family farm, and my friend and I took a walk around the back side of the property. I haven't seen her shots, but may update this post and add them later if she wants me to.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

[E]valuation is nontrivial

You know how when you're in a debate with a smart person, and the debate wants to fragment -- you need some kind of tree structure to keep track of all the threads that the two of you have brought up, because some of them are irrelevant to the main point but still intriguing, and some of them neither of you are sure whether they'll be crucial or just trivial, and sometime what was irrelevant turns into its own fun conversation/debate?

Except usually you can't do all of this, because the debate is taking place in a linear format like blog (or, worse, Facebook) comment threads?

I had a moment feeling a little like that today when reading Massimo Pigliucci's report from the American Philosophical Association meeting in Philadelphia where he relates sitting through a panel stocked with followers of Ayn Rand. In general, this is an exercise not worth the investment of time, since no one except Objectivists takes Objectivist philosophy seriously. (Not least because Objectivist philosophers don't take any non-Objectivist philosophy seriously, and it's pretty bootless to try to have an academic discourse that way.)

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Whiny little gits: on legislation by version control

There's an idea that's been rattling around my head for some time now, probably originally seeded by some internet forum discussion, and it's now been rattling long enough without me seeing any deadly objections that I figured I'd put it down on e-paper.

Problem-setting: legislative process. It's weird, and convoluted, and in many cases the rules of a legislative chamber allow changes to be made to a bill which the members need not be aware of. This was borne out recently in Congress when a single member inserted a provision at the behest of Citigroup, and there was no way to excise the provision from the final version which was submitted to both houses for an up-or-down vote, without jeopardizing the passage of the whole bill.

To zoom out a bit: voters don't care about, pay attention to, or understand process. That's OK, in one sense -- voters really are supposed to care about results, in theory, and are supposed to trust their representatives to get good at process. The problem comes in when advocacy organizations start scoring process moves as position-taking. For example, there's a funny little quirk in the Senate rules that if the majority fails to break a filibuster, the only way to try later to break the same filibuster is if someone changes their mind. What this means in practice is that the Majority Leader will vote to sustain the filibuster if he's sure the logjam won't break -- this way he can "change his mind" later if they can whip up the votes to get the bill through. But this exposes him to an advocacy organization scoring his vote as being on the wrong side of their favorite issue.

There's even the very basic existential question of "what does the law actually say?". How are we to know, under the current way of setting up legislation, if the text on the paper distributed to Congress is the same as the text which is digitally available on the website of the Library of Congress; or if either is identical to the text on the page signed by the President? And in case of a discrepancy, which is "the law"? Typos happen, and humans aren't optimized to catch them on paper.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Metal for winter

So, there's these Russians, and they have a band...

... and it makes me think of snow and ice and other things nice...