Ten Second News

Tech Tuesday 1/29/19 – Cool Sounds Edition( 7 )

[TT1] A few weeks back, I talked about using small drones to inspect aircraft turbines.  Now we have a small robot to inspect the skin of an aircraft.  Overall, I support using drones and robots for aircraft inspections, as long as the software that is evaluating the sensor feed is more capable than a person at spotting an issue.  I’ve done these kinds of inspections, on hovercraft and airliners, and it can be mind numbing.  I’d rather a robot spot and flag dozens of issues for humans to evaluate, than having a person get tired and bored doing an inspection and miss things.

[TT2] Apparently, the magnetic poles won’t stop and ask for directions, either.

[TT3] I’m hoping Mike talks about this Lost Light image on Thursday.  Or this bit about the black hole at the center of the galaxy.

[TT4] Researchers have figured out what causes rogue waves to form.  The magic number is 120.  I’ve never seen one of these monsters, but they are no joke.  They will break a ship in half.

[TT5] Alzheimer’s may be caused by gum disease (gingivitis) and aggravated by a lack of sleep, so… well… brush your teeth and go to bed!

[TT6] I get how the laser creates the sound, but wouldn’t anyone along the beam path also hear the message, not just the intended recipient?

[TT7] Speaking of lasers, we can use them to flash transform carbon nano-tubes and fibers into diamond.  Suck it, DeBeers.

[TT8] Last time, it was Bell getting into the VTOL market, now Boeing.  Their entry is not what I’d call attractive.  Seems perfectly safe and functional, but about as exciting as a Corolla.

[TT9] A ready made Thermo Acoustic Cooling Plant.  What is Thermo Acoustic Cooling?  It’s an old process that was originally developed by the US DOD back in the day, that starts by taking heat and turning it into mechanical motion.  That motion is in the form of sound waves.  The sound waves travel around the blue circle, building up acoustic energy.  At some point, that energy hits a desired peak (amplitude), and that can be used to create a delta Temperature to provide cooling.  The actual physics are rather obscure.  The overall point is that this is A) Not Humbug, and B) is done without working fluids that are dangerous to the environment, or any significant energy input (aside from pumps to move the heat around).

[TT10] Yes, finally, I can exercise while reading a book!  OK, yes, I’ve done that before, back when my leg was getting rehabbed, but those electro-stimulators are fecking annoying.

[TT11] Bio-solids!  Pshaw!  Just say what they are, poop bricks.  But, they do lock stuff like heavy metals away so they aren’t leaching into the ground.

[TT12] Pulling CO2 out of the air in exchange for H2 & energy.  Of course, the end result is all that nasty NaHCO3 we have to deal with.  I’m sure we can all volunteer to make some cakes and cookies with it.

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Linky Friday: Please Allow Me to Introduce Myself( 15 )

With the 2020 presidential campaign heating up, and several of the big names starting to officially declare, the first batch of campaign videos to introduce the candidate are out. Let us view them together…

[LF1] Kamala Harris:



[LF2] Elizabeth Warren:



[LF3] Kirsten Gillibrand:



[LF4] Julián Castro



[LF5] Tulsi Gabbard:



[LF6] Richard Ojeda



[LF7] Pete Buttigieg



[LF8] John K. Delaney



[LF9] Andrew Yang




[LF10] Cory Booker says he’s nearing 2020 decision as he swings through key southern states.

[LF11] Joe Biden’s tough-on-crime past could haunt him in 2020.

[LF12] Beto O’Rourke’s web diary inspires derision and hope as 2020 presidential field takes shape.

[LF13] Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown Moves Closer To Joining 2020 Campaign.

[LF14] The Unfinished Business of Bernie Sanders

[LF15] Montana’s Bullock mum about plans for 2020.

[LF16] NH Primary Source: Michael Bloomberg’s upcoming visit to NH takes shape.

[LF17] Sen. Amy Klobuchar drops more hints about 2020, disavows fake campaign logo.

[LF18] John Hickenlooper isn’t running for president yet.

[LF19] Terry McAuliffe hints, ‘I’m going to announce,’ says Trump ‘has no moral core’.

[LF20] Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Facebook ads in swing states stir 2020 speculation2020 speculation2020 speculation.

[LF21] Teachers’ strike behind him, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti refocuses on a White House bid.

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Wednesday Writs for 1/23( 26 )

Wednesday Writs for 1/23[L1]: In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the week in which we celebrate his birthday, our case of the week is one of which he was at the center. The year was 1960, and the strife of the civil rights movement raged particularly strong in the south. In Alabama, Dr. King often found himself at odds with local authorities, having being arrested several times and facing criminal charges. On March 29th of that year, the New York Times ran a full page advertisement, titled “Heed Their Rising Voices”, seeking donations to fund Dr. King’s legal defense. The advertisement contained the names of many celebrities, including prominent black celebrities such as Sammy Davis Jr., and Eartha Kitt, and was endorsed by 16 members of the clergy from the south.  The ad described the turmoil in the south, the efforts of the protesters and the actions of law enforcement in response.

But according to L.B. Sullivan, one of three Montgomery City Commissioners, the ad had several inaccuracies and while it did not mention Sullivan in person, he believed the actions described were attributable to himself. The inaccuracies included the erroneous statement that Dr. King had been arrested 7 times, when it was actually 4; that protesters sang ‘My Country Tis of Thee’ on the steps of the state capitol, when it was actually the National Anthem; and that the Alabama State College campus had been “ringed” by “truckloads” of police in response to the demonstration at the capitol. Sullivan, alleging that statements implicating “the police” necessarily referred to him because of his role as the supervisor of the Montgomery Police Department, filed suit against the NY Times for libel. Sullivan was eventually awarded $500,000 by an Alabama jury, which was affirmed by the state supreme court on appeal. The Times took the fight to the United States Supreme Court, and New York Times v. Sullivan became a landmark case on libel and the freedom of the press.

The Court ruled 9-0 in favor of the paper in a decision penned by Justice Brennan. The case established the actual malice standard for libel cases in which the subject of the libel is a public official: “…the First Amendment protects the publication of all statements, even false ones, about the conduct of public officials except when statements are made with actual malice (with knowlege that they are false or in reckless disregard of their truth or falsity.” Further, said Justice Brennan, the “erroneous statement is inevitable in free debate, and… it must be protected if the freedoms of expression are to have the ‘breathing space’ that they need to survive”.

[L2]: In a lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Missouri, the state is violating the right-to-counsel due to its shortage of available public defenders and its refusal to increase funding. The 8th Circuit says the government is immune from the suit. Missouri spends an average of $355 per indigent defense case- or roughly the hourly rate of private counsel.

[L3]: The US Supreme Court rejected a challenge to the appointment of acting US Attorney General Matthew Whittaker on the grounds that his appointment was not confirmed by the Senate. The Court said that while the attorney general position is subject to confirmation, an “acting” official is not, because it is not a “continuing or permanent position.

[L4]: Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote his first opinion since taking the bench in October, and it’s a doozy of a snore about arbitration.

[L5]: One-hundred years to the day that prohibition became the law, the Supreme Court heard arguments in a booze dispute out of Tennessee. The issue is whether Tennessee may prohibit out-of-state retailers from selling in the state.

[L6]: In a serious case of throwing good money after bad, a California lawyer who battled all the way to the state court of appeals to avoid paying $300 to a former employee says the lawsuit has cost him nearly $100,000.

[L7]: Also out of California, the state Appellate Court ruled that imposing fines against indigent defendants is unconstitutional. The criminal case underlying the decision was a woman convicted of multiple counts of misdemeanor driving on a suspended license. The defendant, a homeless and disabled woman who could not afford the fines, was driving her children to school or going to work. She was ordered jailed for non-payment.

[L8]: In what can only be described as a niche area of law, taxidermy is, it turns out, highly regulated. Check your local laws before you have your beloved cat stuffed. And do not throw away that stuffed bird.

[L9]: Slap a hippo, go to jail: our dumb criminal of the week thought spanking a baby hippo would make for a funny video, and became the subject of an investigation by the LAPD. No one told him hippos kill more people than any other animal in the world, save the mosquito; watch the Darwin contender here:

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Ordinary World: Education( 17 )

[Ed1] While Democrats are united in supporting teachers’ strikes in California, the party is divided over the role of charter schools in education, reports Dana Goldstein in the New York Times.

[Ed2] A recently-released report shows that community college students that go on to elite schools graduate at higher rates than first-time freshmen.

[Ed3] Field trips, apart from being enjoyable experiences for school students also hold numerous educational benefits. The various benefits have been outlined in a recent research paper, summarised by Education Next.

[Ed4] The state of Louisiana is undertaking new measures to ensure a more well-rounded education for its students, placing more emphasis on enrichment opportunities.

[Ed5] Timothy Shanahan, a professor at the University of Illinois blogs about the low percentage of American students achieving reading proficiency.

[Ed6] Corey DeAngelis, education policy analyst for the Cato Institute, argues that striking teachers in California should campaign for expanded school choice instead.

[Ed7] A new research paper suggests that single-sex schools have a significant positive effect on academic results as well as reducing arrest rates and teen motherhood.

[Ed8] Education Week’s editors and reporters set out what they believe to be the 10 major trends and ideas that will shape the conversation on education in 2019.

[Ed9] Do American schools provide equality of opportunity for students? Brookings Institute analyst Dick Startz examines where American schools fall short on educational equality.

[Ed10] Schools are often decried as being ‘factory-like’ in their models of learning. But is this really the case? Tom Greenwell, writing for Australian publication Inside Story, investigates the issue.

[Ed11] The ‘Learning Pyramid’ is one of the more popular learning theories within education. Blake Harvard, a psychology teacher and blogger, deconstructs the idea and explains why it’s a myth.


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Ordinary World for Monday 21 January( 77 )

Ordinary World
Monday 21 January 2019

As always, all linked pieces are for discussion and consideration, not as implied endorsement of the author’s views by Ordinary Times

[OW1] It’s a Rams-Patriots Super Bowl, and an Officiating Nightmare by Albert Breer: “The story this morning should be, would be, Rams coach Sean McVay taking a franchise that had missed the postseason 12 consecutive times to the Super Bowl in just his second year, and going right through the raucous Superdome to do it. The story this morning should be, would be, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s incomparable brilliance in the face of a worthy young challenger at Arrowhead. But that’s not where we are on this Monday morning. As has been the case, to a lesser degree, on other Monday mornings this year, you woke up today to more talk about a bad call in a football game. And you should.”

[OW2] Martin Luther King Jr. lived an extraordinary life. At 33, he was pressing the case of civil rights with President John Kennedy. At 34, he galvanized the nation with his “I Have a Dream” speech. At 35, he won the Nobel Peace Prize. At 39, he was assassinated, but he left a legacy of hope and inspiration that continues today. The Seattle Times created a web page in tribute to Dr. King, collecting the story of his life, photographs of the times in which he lived, and perspectives from politicians, activists, and ordinary citizens on his tremendous legacy.

[OW3] The Media Wildly Mischaracterized That Video of Covington Catholic Students Confronting a Native American Veteran by Robby Soave: “It would be impossible to definitively state that none of the young men did anything wrong, offensive, or problematic, at some point, and maybe the smiling student was attempting to intimidate Phillips. But there’s shockingly little evidence of wrongdoing, unless donning a Trump hat and standing in a group of other people doing the same is now an act of harassment or violence. Phillips’ account, meanwhile, is at best flawed, and arguably deliberately misleading. Unless other information emerges, the school’s best move would be to have a conversation with the boys about the incident, perhaps discuss some strategies for remaining on perfect behavior at highly charged political rallies—where everybody is recording everything on a cell phone—and let that be the end of it.”

[OW4] What It’s Like for Secular, Liberal Pro-lifers at the March for Life by Ashley Fetters: “The inclusion of Ben Shapiro, the founder of the conservative website The Daily Wire and the host of the podcast The Ben Shapiro Show, on the rally’s lineup angered some left-leaning supporters of the pro-life cause; Shapiro is a popular figure among far-right conservatives, and a recent op-ed in The Washington Post warned that Shapiro’s invitation to the main stage of the March for Life would alienate nonconservatives from the event. (Shapiro also made headlines Friday morning when he proclaimed that if he were given the chance to go back in time and kill baby Hitler, because of his pro-life beliefs, he would not.) Some secular pro-lifers I spoke with could see the logic of inviting a popular figure with passionate pro-life views to speak at the rally. But others were less than thrilled about Shapiro’s presence. For one thing, they didn’t love that Shapiro, who recorded an episode of his podcast from the main stage, often referred to supporters of abortion rights as “the left.” Geraghty, Rehumanize’s communications director, referred to himself in conversation as a “leftist”; other pro-life protesters I spoke with described themselves as left-leaning or progressive. But as Josh Stanton, a 23-year-old attending the march who also supports causes such as Black Lives Matter, pointed out, derogatorily conflating “the right” and “the left” with “pro-life” and “pro-choice,” respectively, is pretty common now, “on both sides.”

[OW5] Natural Disasters Worsen Inequality: Two months after the Camp Fire, the recovery in Paradise, California, is harder for some than for others by Annie Lowrey: “Although disasters like the Camp Fire seem to strike indiscriminately, in the aggregate that is not quite the case. Cheaper homes built without strong foundations or storm windows tend to be less safe during tornadoes and hurricanes. Floods hit low-lying neighborhoods the hardest, and low-lying neighborhoods are often low-income neighborhoods. In California, the extremely high cost of housing has encouraged building in and migration to certain fire-prone areas. This is to say: The country’s built landscape means that lower-income families are often the most vulnerable to disasters.”

[OW6] The 2019 Women’s March battled controversy. These women turned out anyway. They’re aware of the anti-Semitism concerns, but still support the movement’s larger goals. By Anna North “In the wake of the allegations, the Democratic National Committee and progressive groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center have distanced themselves from Women’s March, Inc. Meanwhile, other groups, including March On, which focuses on helping progressive candidates win elections, are hosting marches and other actions today that are separate from those organized by Women’s March, Inc. A group called the Women’s March Alliance, which organized the 2017 and 2018 marches in New York, organized a march on Manhattan’s Upper West Side that was separate from the Foley Square rally. “The controversy has people confused about whether or not they should march,” Vanessa Wruble, executive director of March On and a co-founder of the first Women’s March on Washington in 2017, told Vox by phone. But, she said, “everyone should march. Doesn’t matter where you march, just march.””

[OW7] Narratives of the Trump Administration?—?Part I: If you think you’ve read this story before, it’s because you probably have by Varad Mehta: “Since even before he was sworn in, variants of these headlines have appeared in the press with metronomic regularity. They are less headlines than tropes, Homeric epithets whose formulaic repetition transports an entire inventory of psychic and emotional associations. Pluck one at random and you could find yourself in January, 2017 — or January, 2019. But if you didn’t check the date, you wouldn’t know which it was. Its stories like so many rituals, the media has recreated what the historian of religion Mircea Eliade called the “continual present”?—?in which yesterday, today, and tomorrow become one and time no longer exists?—?and installed Trump’s presidency within it.”

[OW8] Why are single women still mistaken for prostitutes? By Flora Drury: “So when Clementine Crawford was reportedly told she could no longer sit at the bar of her favourite Manhattan restaurant, she was confused. As she wrote later, she was even more confused when a man, arriving not long after she had been sat at a table, was allowed to take a seat at that very same bar. It was only, she says, when she pushed for a reason, that she was told “the owner had ordered a crackdown on hookers”. Her years of regular dinners, and her high-flying job, appeared to mean nothing. The implication for all single women was clear.”

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Ordinary Sunday Brunch( 5 )

Ordinary Sunday Brunch

Music Links

[Mu1] Sixty years ago, Berry Gordy set up the hit factory of Motown. Arwa Haider looks at how an independent record label created one of the most influential sounds of the 20th Century.

[Mu2] Latest Nielsen Music Report Shows How Healthy The Music Industry Really Is.

[Mu3] The Father of Bluegrass Music, Bill Monroe, was a major star of the Grand Ole Opry for more than 50 years; a member of the Country Music, Songwriters and Rock and Roll halls of fame; and a legendary figure in American music.

[Mu4] Is Liberty Media About to Become the Most Powerful Company in Music?: The media giant could end up owning a stake in no less than seven billion-dollar or multi-billion dollar music companies by the time 2019 is through.

[Mu5] “This is the story of how, against all odds, I learned to love Phil Collins, the Dad of Dad-Rock and the Norm of Normcore. Alternatively: how I found myself dancing like a loon to Su-Su-sudio, one of the most evil earworms of its benighted era – a song which I had valiantly tried to purge from my memory shortly after its release in 1985, now stuck in my head again, this time for all eternity. Oh no!”

Art Links

[Ar1] Saving history and beauty: How the ‘Monuments Men’ traced stolen art.

[Ar2] Beer with a Painter: Fred Tomaselli “There is an outer world of violent chaos, and an inside world that is the paradise of being an artist.”

[Ar3] A wrongfully convicted man spent 45 years painting in prison. Now free, he’s selling his art to get by.

[Ar4] Full Color Dot Matrix Is The Art We Need

History Links

[Hi1] Why the Great Molasses Flood Was So Deadly: When a steel tank full of molasses ruptured in 1919, physics and neglect contributed to make the accident so horrific, leading to 21 deaths.

[Hi2] Jessica Wilkerson tells the stories of the radical mountain women who fought against bosses and laid the groundwork for ensuing generations of Appalachian resistance.

[Hi3] Prague’s Window into History

[Hi4] Remembering Atlantic City’s Black History and Segregated Past.

Food Links

[Fo1] Can Americans learn to love ugly fruits and vegetables?

[Fo2] Some lawmakers in West Virginia want to end the state’s lifetime ban on food stamps for people convicted of drug-related felonies.

[Fo3] What Life Is Like When Corn Is off the Table: Corn lurks in so many surprising places, from table salt to apples to IV bags.

[Fo4] How Singapore’s World-Famous Street Food Could Disappear

[Fo5] What Is Italian-Australian Food? Two Interpretations, on Opposite Sides of the Street.

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Wednesday Writs for 1/16( 10 )

Wednesday Writs for 1/16

John Merryman

[L1]: In the current climate of debate over the powers–or lack thereof–of the commander-in-chief to unilaterally impose his will, it is a good time to revisit that time another Republican president took it upon himself to strip away a constitutional right by the stroke of his pen. The year was 1861 and the president was Abraham Lincoln, who, as the Civil War raged, suspended the right of habeas corpus, a move summarily struck down in Ex Parte Merryman, our case of the week.

A Maryland farmer named John Merryman was roused from his bed at two am by federal troops, arrested and taken prisoner, and held at Fort McHenry-all without a warrant. An attorney, learning of his plight, petitioned the federal Circuit Court in Maryland for a writ of habeas corpus, an order which would compel Merryman’s captors to bring him before the Court and justify his arrest and detention. Acting as a circuit judge at that time was Roger B. Taney of Dred Scott infamy, who was also the chief justice of the US Supreme Court. Justice Taney issued the writ, ordering Merryman to be brought to his court the following day. Instead of Merryman, the court clerk delivered a message from Ft. McHenry. The message from General Cadwalder, Commander of Ft. McHenry, declined to come to court or to produce Merryman. The General further explained that, per President Lincoln, military officers were permitted to suspend the writ of habeas corpus if deemed necessary. “This is a high and delicate trust,” wrote General Codwalder, referring to himself in the third person, “and it has been enjoined upon him that it should be executed with judgment and discretion, but he is nevertheless also instructed that in times of civil strife, errors, if any, should be on the side of the safety of the country”. (Imagine that; a president taking unilateral action erring on the side of safety of the country, rather than individual liberties? The more things change…). Justice Taney was not impressed by the presidential dictate, and issued a written opinion declaring the president’s authority to suspend habeas corpus, a power he believed to be designated to congress by the Constitution, null and void. Said Taney:

The short term for which he is elected, and the narrow limits to which his power is confined, show the jealousy and apprehension of future danger which the framers of the constitution felt in relation to that department of the government, and how carefully they withheld from it many of the powers belonging to the executive branch of the English government which were considered as dangerous to the liberty of the subject; and conferred (and that in clear and specific terms) those powers only which were deemed essential to secure the successful operation of the government.

President Lincoln did not accept Taney’s ruling and spoke out about it fervently. He continued suspending the writ when he deemed it necessary, and in 1863 received congressional permission to suspend habeas corpus for the duration of the war, prompting Justice Taney to despair that the Supreme Court would “ever again be restored to the authority and rank which the Constitution intended to confer upon it.”

[L2]: The Kansas Supreme Court rules that the smell of weed justifies the warrantless search of your home- as detected by a human, not a K-9, in case you wondered. If that seems reasonable, you might be interested to know that, in the underlying case, the weed in question was 25 grams of raw marijuana, inside a Tupperware container, inside a safe, inside a closet.

[L3]: A jury in California has issued the ultimate punishment to the Mongols Motorcycle Club: they have been stripped of their trademarked logo. H/T Kenneth Duel for the link.

[L4]: If you are surprised that the alleged outlaw biker gang has a trademark, you may also be surprised to learn of the litigiousness of the Mongols’ rival gang, the Hell’s Angels.

[L5]: In other intellectual property news, the popular video game Red Dead Redemption 2 is on the wrong end of a legal fight with Pinkerton Consulting and Investigations over the game’s depiction of Pinkerton as old-west villains.

[L6]: Love conquers all, including government shut downs: DC’s “Love Act” permits the issuance of marriage licenses to continue, despite the government closure.

[L7]: Foie gras remains verboten in California after a 9th Circuit review of a challenge on the 2012 ban. The law was implemented due to the force-feeding process used to produce the delicacy.

[L8]: In a rare feat, Duke Law grads had a 100% passage rate for the July 2018 California Bar Exam: All 25 grads who sat for the exam passed. This is especially impressive given that the over all failure rate for the notoriously difficult California Bar Exam was nearly 60%.

[L9]: A man who was accidentally locked in a Burger King bathroom for over an hour was promised free food for life from the manager. When the regional manager found out and put the kibosh on the deal, the man sued for what he calculated to be the value of a lifetime of free meals-taking into account a shortened life-span due to his love of fast food.

[L10]: In other Burger King news, an Illinois lawyer faces federal extortion charges for trying to strong arm the fast food chain into retaining his services. The lawyer, also a Chicago Alderman, asked BK to hire his firm in exchange for lifting a “stop work” order he had issued to renovations in one of their restaurants.

OK, I laughed:

Wednesday Writs for 1/16

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Tech Tuesday 11/15/18 “Lucy, The Sky Is Diamonds” Edition( 6 )

[TT1] Boeing hangs the biggest turbofan to date on the 777X prototype.  To give that some perspective, the engine is about the same width as the fuselage of a 737.  Boeing is also showing off it’s ideas for a new transonic wing (a wing designed to cruise in the transonic range, ~Mach 0.8 – Mach 0.95).  The challenge of transonic cruise is that it guarantees that some parts of the aircraft will experience supersonic airflow, while others are still subsonic.  Any flow that goes supersonic results in shocks that impact performance and fatigue life, requiring that the design account for that.  Long, thin wings are ideal for those cruise conditions, but a simple cantilevered wing that long and thin requires a lot of additional structure (read: weight).  The trussed wing gives additional lifting area and support, negating the bulk of the weight penalty.  From an Aviation Week article (login required):

The junction with the fuselage has been moved back and the main truss now angles up to meet the wing at some distance from the fuselage, presumably to reduce aerodynamic interference. There is a small jury member connecting the truss to the wing close to its junction with the wing.

The long-span wing folds just outboard of the truss junctions to enable the TTBW to use the same airport gates as a 737, which has a wing span of almost 118 ft.

The aircraft pictured appears to be conventionally powered, with turbofans mounted under the wing, but NASA is studying versions of the TTBW concept with hybrid-electric propulsion. These have electric motors integrated into the turbine engines. An electric-powered ducted thruster on the tail ingests the fuselage boundary layer and reenergizes the wake, reducing drag and energy consumption.

[TT2] Not to let Boeing have all the attention, Airbus is working on a “helicopter” that it thinks could hit 400 kph.

[TT3] Bell is putting it’s toes into the whole air taxi business.  Once upon a time, Bell was hoping to market a civilian version of the V-22 Osprey or the V-280 Valor for urban air ferry services.  Not sure if that is still a plan.

[TT4] LG says it has a production ready rollable OLED TV.  This is not a big screen OLED on a rolling cart, it’s an OLED screen that can roll up like a newspaper for out of sight storage in a media cabinet or credenza.

[TT5] Ford says no to Wi-Fi, yes to 5G.  Hammering out these kinds of protocols is kinda crucial to the development of fully-, or even semi-autonomous vehicles.

[TT6] The UK is testing a new kind of communications satellite, one that can be modified and reprogrammed while in orbit.

[TT7] China’s Far Side probe carried an extra antenna on it’s trip around the bend, one that will be able to listen to radio signals we haven’t really gotten to listen to since the 70’s.  Also in radio-astronomy, the Canadians have a new telescope called CHIME (seriously, do people honestly brainstorm names that make handy acronyms?).  Not only will CHIME help investigate the phenomena known as Fast Radio Bursts, it already answered one big question about them while it was basically booting up.

[TT8] Ya know how our ancestors thought the stars in the sky were gemstones in the firmament.  About that…

[TT9] Stellar Cow gives birth to a black hole, or a neutron star.  We think.

[TT10] Finally, we have a lead on why fake news propagates so readily.  It’s the Boomers fault.

[TT11] A steam powered spacecraft.  Call me skeptical.  Intrigued, but skeptical.

[TT12] Broad spectrum Ebola protection in one single dose.  That’s pretty fecking awesome.

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Ordinary World( 45 )

Ordinary World
14 January 2019

As always, all linked pieces are for discussion and consideration, not as implied endorsement of the author’s views by Ordinary Times

[OW1] Referenda Delenda Est: Brexit shows how direct democracy can be dangerous By George Will: “It is dismaying that most of the binding law in Britain comes from the European Commission in Brussels. But why, with its primacy at stake, did Parliament punt one of the most momentous decisions in British history to a referendum? The bedrock principle of representative government is that “the people” do not decide issues, they decide who shall decide. And once a legislature sloughs off responsibility and resorts to a referendum on the dubious premise that the simple way to find out what people want is to ask them, it is difficult to avoid recurring episodes of plebiscitary democracy.”

[OW2] Jair Bolsonaro Is Not the New Trump. He’s Worse. By Ruth Ben-Ghiat: ““Bolsonaro is as much an apparition from Brazil’s past as a harbinger of its future,” historian Kenneth Serbin wrote at Foreign Affairs the day of the inauguration: Only a “politics of forgetting” about the violence of the military dictatorship has made his ascent possible. I’d go further: Bolsonaro advances a new phase of remembrance that rehabilitates the people and causes of that terrible time. During the 2016 congressional proceedings leading to Rousseff’s impeachment, Bolsonaro dedicated his vote against her to her torturer—Colonel Carlos Alberto Brilhante Ustra, de facto chief of army intelligence services, which ordered Rousseff, then a leftist guerrilla, tortured for three weeks in 1970 (she was then a political prisoner for two years). Sympathizers like Bolsonaro publicly honor those who subjected Brazilians to torture methods such as “the barbecue,” where victims were tied to a metal rack and given electric shocks on and inside their bodies.”

[OW3] New Congress Should Target Tariffs, Not Tax Reform by Ross Marchand: “Where Republicans see an encroachment on the free market, Democrats see executive abuse by the president. By tackling the tariff issue, both parties can gain credibility with the hundreds of millions of American consumers who have seen their taxes gone up since the start of the trade war. One important place to start is the reassertion of congressional authority over trade matters. When the president raised tariffs last year, he invoked the little-known section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 which allows the chief executive to raise import taxes in the name of “national security.” Congress can take this broad, vague power away by insisting that “national security” tariffs be tied to an actual authorization of military force or a (vanishingly rare) formal declaration of war.”

[OW4] What Makes A Refugee? by Gary Brooks “Creating an image of false refugees, foreigners invading the UK when it’s full up and taking opportunities from the natives, is an appeal to a sense of victimization and grievance which is easily exploited. Six-hour queues for a doctor at the surgery is one example people rail against, and it’s “because of all these refugees we let in.” Rather than examine strains on the NHS due to private tendering policies or any other cause, it’s much easier to adopt the populist notion that this is only a problem because foreigners are here clogging up the system and taking the rightful place of the natives. People are upset when there is a woman in a niqab in front of them in the doctor’s office, but they rarely notice when the same hold-up is caused by Doris from flat 4B down the road.”

[OW5] Sweetheart deals for big companies aren’t what Florida needs by Alex Muresianu: “It’s hard to think of a more wasteful use of taxpayer money. For every dollar the state gave to film production companies, the state economy only grew by 18 cents. Even worse, an analysis from the University of Southern California found that film tax incentives nationwide have had a minimal — even negative — impact on economic growth. Furthermore, a report from Michigan’s state senate found that each job created by film tax incentives only lasts an average of 23 days.”

[OW6] The World Isn’t Laughing at Just Trump: American allies are laughing at the whole country by Rachel Donadio: “The moment was a silly one, a bathetic expression of competitive dominance-signaling, that nonetheless revealed something real: People confident in their own power don’t often feel the need to demonstrate it so theatrically—and for all Trump’s attempts to showcase his might, global confidence in his ability to handle international affairs is low and sinking, according to the Pew Research Center. Tellingly, whereas Macron later revealed an ironic awareness of the absurdity of The Handshake, Trump did not. The world was laughing with Macron, at Trump.”

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Ordinary Sunday Brunch( 0 )

Ordinary Sunday Brunch

Music Links

[Mu1] Missy Elliott becomes first female hip-hop artist to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

[Mu2] For many Rolling Stones fans, Charlie Watts is the band’s most mysterious and intriguing member. He’s a guy who prefers jazz to rock, yet has spent nearly 60 years playing in the world’s greatest rock & roll band. A well-dressed eccentric, he is known to draw a sketch of every single hotel room he stays in and owns cars despite being unable to drive.

[Mu3] Jazz Wouldn’t Be the Same Without Them. But Few Applauded These Hidden Figures.

[Mu4] Music in dementia care sounds promising, but there is a catch.

[Mu5] It also cannot be refuted that, despite mountainous circumstantial evidence and witness testimonies suggesting overwhelmingly that Robert Sylvester Kelly, 51, is a serial sexual predator, pedophile, rapist and physical abuser, many people in R. Kelly’s fan base simply do not care enough to stop listening and buying his music.

Art Links

[Ar1] The term “public art” might be considered an oxymoron. “Public” is a broad, all encompassing term, while “art” is a purely private matter, both in creation and appreciation. Reconciling the two can be a problem. It is a subject that makes everyone an instant critic and can put the gentlest artist into a blind rage at a moment’s notice.

[Ar2] The Art of Science: Scientists capture the complex and the compelling through the camera lens. It’s here where color, shape and texture collaborate, and the art of science begins.

[Ar3] Prosecutors: Art Dealer Mary Boone Should Go to Prison.

[Ar4] Three Ways Art History Needs to Change in 2019.

History Links

[Hi1] Scientists are still fascinated by Phineas Gage. Here’s why: A blank canvas for generations of science.

[Hi2] Maps Provide a Special View of American History.

[Hi3] Why We Need to Keep Searching for Lost Silent Films: Early motion pictures give us an important window into our collective past.

[Hi4] The Spies Who Launched America’s Industrial Revolution: From water-powered textile mills, to mechanical looms, much of the machinery that powered America’s early industrial success was “borrowed” from Europe.

Food Links

[Fo1] Don’t Panic: The Government Shutdown Isn’t Making Food Unsafe.

[Fo2] How heroes and villains play a role in your choice of food.

[Fo3] The Dark Side of Food & Beverage: Battling Mental & Behavioral Health Problems.

[Fo4] You Can Now Put Bacon On A McDonald’s Big Mac, Quarter Pounder, Or Fries. Yeah, that’s not a thing you could do before!

[Fo5] Eating, Hacked: When Tech Took Over Food.

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Linky Friday: Moving Pictures Edition( 11 )

Linky Friday: Moving Pictures Edition

[MP1] Justice Ginsburg Misses Supreme Court Oral Arguments For First Time



[MP4] Man caught on camera licking doorbell…for 3 hours.

[MP5] Thursday Throughput touched on this, but an breakdown of the Ultima Thule flyby

[MP6] A staffer at local Fox affiliate Q13 has been fired after the station aired what appears to be a doctored video of President Trump’s Tuesday night speech from the Oval Office.



[MP8] The most talked about video of the week, except this is the unedited original one that fewer people actually watched…

[MP9] It’s Getting Harder to Spot a Deep Fake Video.

[MP10] El Chapo trial reveals text messages with his wife, mistress.

[MP11] Bluegrass legend Earl Scruggs gets the Google Doodle treatment.

[MP12] Elizabeth Warren has a beer; people have opinions on it.

[MP13] A Look Back at Sears’ History.



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Wednesday Writs for 1/9( 39 )

Wednesday Writs for 1/9[L1]: Most of the well-informed readers of this blog are familiar with Buck v. Bell, a travesty of a Supreme Court decision in which Virginia’s eugenics law, allowing the forced sterilization of the intellectually disabled and other “unfit” persons, was deemed acceptable, from a constitutional standpoint. The case has never been overturned, though the threat of litigation caused the number of physicians willing to perform the procedure without patient consent to decline over the next fifty years. But in 1971, the mother of a 15 year-old girl named Ida submitted a petition to an Indiana Judge, seeking permission to have her daughter, whom she described as  “slightly retarded”, sterilized without the girl’s knowledge.

Without a hearing, the appointment of a guardian ad litem for the girl, or any further inquiry, Judge Stump signed the petition the same day. Under the guise of an appendectomy, the girl was sterilized the following week. She found out two years later, after she married and tried to conceive. When Ida learned what happened to her, she filed a lawsuit against her mother, her mother’s lawyer, the doctor, the hospital, and the judge, giving rise to our case of the week. The suit was a “1983 action”, which alleges deprivation of rights under color of law. The District Court dismissed the case in its entirety, finding that the only defendant subject to the 1983 action was the judge, who, the Court ruled, enjoyed judicial immunity from the suit.

The Court of Appeals reversed, finding that the judge had acted outside of his authority and could not rely on immunity to shield him from his “failure to comply with elementary principles of procedural due process.” The judge appealed to the US Supreme Court. The case, Stump v. Sparkman, would be a landmark case–not for reproductive rights, but for judicial immunity. The Court ruled 5-3 in a 1978 decision that the judge was within his jurisdictional authority to rule on the petition, and thus could not be held liable for his ruling, even if it was in error, even if the consequences were tragic. In fact, said Justice White writing for the Court, the more controversial the issue before a judge, the more important it was for the judge to be immune from liability for the consequences of his or her decision.

[L2]: An assistant district attorney showed up for court drunk and unprepared to go forward in a hearing. As a result, the defendant, a confessed child molester, had all charges dropped, with prejudice, on speedy trial grounds.

[L3]: In a symbolic victory, the parents of Otto Warmbier are awarded a half-billion dollars in their lawsuit against North Korea for the torture of their son, which resulted in his death. While chances are nil that North Korea, who did not respond to the suit, will honor the default judgment, the result is nonetheless a powerful statement.

[L4]: A sentence that would have been a head-scratcher a few years ago: lawyers for the Russian troll farm, Concord Management, quoted Animal House in its latest pleading to the court presiding over special counsel Robert Mueller’s indictment of the company for conspiracy against the United States. “You f***** up,” writes counsel Eric Doubelier, quoting Otter, the ladies’ man of Delta Tau Chi.

[L5]: On the heels of a year in which law enforcement broke new ground in the use of familial DNA to solve cold cases, Bloomberg advises the public to think twice about privacy concerns before submitting their samples to commercial DNA and genealogy companies.

[L6]: Disney, creator of Mulan, Aladdin, Moana, and Cocoa fights allegations of cultural appropriation for its trademark registration of “Hakuna Matata”.

[L7]: A federal judge in Oregon confirms that a man with a degree in engineering is allowed to call himself an engineer, even if the Oregon Board of Examiners for Engineering and Land Surveying has not given him a license to do so. (H/T to Oscar Gordon for the link.)

[L8]: In case you missed it, Cyntoia Brown, the woman sentenced to life in prison at age 16 for shooting the man who bought her for sex, was granted full clemency by the governor of Tennessee. Prior to the shooting, the young woman reportedly lived a life of sexual slavery and abuse, prompting the campaign for her freedom.

[L9]: A middle school teacher who made headlines for feeding a live puppy to a snapping turtle in front of his students was acquitted of animal cruelty charges.

[L10]:How about a gutsy criminal of the week, instead of a stupid one? This burglar asked his victim for a ride, and got it.

[L11]: Finally this week, my number one choice for favorite scene from a lawyer movie: this one from A Time to Kill (bet you thought it would be To Kill a Mockingbird, huh?). The twist at the end here caught my breath the first time I saw it. But not only does it make a devastating point, it also depicts a masterful closing argument, which, in real life, would undoubtedly reach a jury in a way most lawyers dream of:

Best Closing statement ever (A Time to kill 1996)


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Tech Tuesday – Earthrise Edition( 20 )

[TT1] Making plywood, then and now.  Note the difference in required manpower.

[TT2] Dream Chaser Space Plane cleared for production.

[TT3] Ocean Thermal Energy Device.  Seriously, we spent all these decades warming up the oceans, it’s just silly of us not to extract that energy back out.

[TT4] China has finally lived the Pink Floyd dream.  Also, while I love good old American ‘Can-Do’, if the Chinese, or anyone else, wants to advance human knowledge, I’m all for it.  Good for them!

[TT5] “A Flyby of Ultima Thule” sounds like the title of a Prog Rock song.  But no, it’s an actual rock in the Kuiper Belt, and New Horizons (the plucky space craft that gave us our first pics of Pluto) is going in for a look.

[TT6] In a previous post, I talked about how organic food was not better for the environment.  Now, let’s talk about the irrational fear of GMOs means we’ll need more land for less food.

[TT7] Saturn is shedding it’s rings like a bad 80’s hairstyle.

[TT8] A UV de-activated adhesive for bandages, or what have you.  Also, now I want to know more about Topological Entanglement.

[TT9] Shrink wrap that kills bacteria and is edible.

[TT10] A bit of rabbit genetic code lets ivy plants clean the air in your home.  Next up, police locate kidnappers who watch too much TV by finding modified Ivy plants in the house.

[TT11] Honestly, if there is one thing robotics should be doing for us, it’s this.  Crawling around inside gas turbines was fun and all when I was a fit young man in the Navy, but these days…

[TT12] 50 years ago, man saw the first Earthrise over the moon, and someone thought to take a picture.

[TT13] Speaking of color photos, the Chromatic Awards.

[TT14] More applications for acoustic levitation.  Now when does it become a repulsorlift?

[TT15] Feeding seaweed to microorganisms to get bio-plastic.

[TT16] Being visibly armed can lead to greater hostility.  It’s one study, and all the caveats that go with that, but interesting all the same.  Specifically the fact that it was done in the UK, which is rather famously disarmed, both the public and the police.  I wonder, perhaps, if it’s less the visible presence of arms, and more the visible and available reminders of the power differentials that cause both sides to be more aggressive.

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Ordinary World for 7 January, 2019( 19 )

Ordinary World for 7 January, 2019

As always, all linked pieces are for discussion and consideration, not as implied endorsement of the author’s views by Ordinary Times

[OW1] The Progressive Case for Centrism by Roger Sollenberger: “The truth is, whether you like it or not, progressives need to learn to embrace centrists, if for no other reason than to maximize their own influence on policy. Centrists in turn need to yield over time to an increasingly progressive agenda, and if American history is a guide, this is inevitable. Political tactics aren’t political platforms. It’s critical that liberals, whether we identify as Democrats or not, recognize what we have in common. That’s far more important for 2020 than jamming crowbars into the cracks between us.”

[OW2] As Big Retailers Seek to Cut Their Tax Bills, Towns Bear the Brunt by Patricia Cohen: “This is not an entirely new idea. In 1921, the New York Stock Exchange appealed its property tax assessment, arguing that because its building could not be adapted for any other use, it should be considered only a “tear-down proposition” that decreased the value of the land. A State Supreme Court judge disagreed. Sales comparisons often make sense for homes, experts say, because they can estimate what a willing buyer would pay by looking at recent sales of similar houses or apartments on the same block or in the neighborhood.”

[OW3] The Division Caused By Romney’s Op-Ed Is Just What the GOP Needs by Kimberly Ross: “If this “further division” causes some to look distastefully at Trumpism, then I applaud it. If this “further division” spurs (actual) conservatives to stand against poisonous rhetoric that is too easily dismissed, then it should be praised. There is nothing admirable about uniting behind a leader, placing a blindfold on, and marching in lockstep because of a romanticized duty to party. It removes all thought and common sense from the process and asks that we disregard substance in favor of the superficial. Then again, that’s what many Republican voters did on November 8, 2016.”

[OW4] What the Hell Is the ‘Military Version of Eminent Domain’? Whatever it is, it can’t be good. by Joe Setyon: “In all seriousness, federal law does allow for military department secretaries to “acquire any interest in land” if “the acquisition is needed in the interest of national defense.” But defining building a wall on the southern border as an issue of national defense is a stretch. It’s also worth noting that calling for a “military version of eminent domain” may not be the best way for Trump to sell his wall to the American people. Polls already show that a majority of Americans oppose the project. Further reducing the due process available to border property holders is unlikely to increase that number.”

[OW5] We Need More Martin Van Burens by Eric Medlin: “Politicians should still aspire to be like George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin Roosevelt. These prominent leaders transcended their era and led the country through its most challenging years. But not every president will have a Great Depression to overcome or a Civil War to win. The vast majority of presidents will have to secure partisan accomplishments through deal-making and compromise. Instead of attempting to be the greatest president, they should strive to be like Martin Van Buren and enact rules and laws that will influence American society for decades to come.”

[OW6] Tucker Carlson’s Monologue Insults His Viewers by Conor Friedersdorf: “The monologue was compelling. It is easy to imagine large swaths of the viewing audience concluding that, if nothing else, the host is on their side. But Carlson failed the most basic test of respect for his audience: He told them blatant lies, falsehoods, and untruths, assuming that they wouldn’t notice. Some of us did. A broadcaster’s untruths can be difficult to hear in real time, especially if he’s talented at modulating his voice and looking into the camera. But Carlson ranged across so many different subjects that he inevitably covered some terrain that the educated viewer would know a lot about. In those moments, his mendacity was unmistakable.”

[OW7] Why Aren’t Democratic Governors Pardoning More Prisoners? By Matt Ford: “Pardoning incarcerated people or commuting their sentences largely fell out of vogue during the tough-on-crime era at both the state and federal level. Harry Truman issued more than 1,900 pardons during his tenure, while Dwight D. Eisenhower handed out more than 1,100 throughout his eight years in office. That number fell even as prison populations exploded in the 1980s and 1990s: George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush collectively issued fewer than 700 pardons during their quarter-century in power. Though comparable figures for the nation’s governors aren’t readily available, they’ve reportedly shown a similar aversion to clemency since the 1960s. What would it look like if governors pursued a more aggressive approach to their clemency powers?

[OW8] The case against the case for Beto O’Rourke by O.T. Ford: “If Beto O’Rourke is the Democratic nominee in 2020, I will vote for him, and not just with great reluctance. Donald Trump and the Republican Party must be soundly defeated, it goes without saying. Moreover, I like Beto, and I see him as a politician with great potential. But he will not be my choice in the Democratic primaries. The problem is not just that there are good reasons for nominating someone else. It’s that people are supporting Beto O’Rourke for bad reasons. They don’t want Beto to run the government. They want Beto to take us all to prom.”

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Ordinary Sunday Brunch( 2 )

Ordinary Sunday Brunch

Music Links

[Mu1] 2018, According to Rolling Stone: “Rap’s New Generation Took Over, Rock Ruled the Road and Radio Still Mattered, and more trends that defined the year in music”

[Mu2] Out of Silence, the Music of Meditation: “An audience member told the musicians that, for him, ‘the most special thing was the silence before and after you played. There was anticipation without expectation.’”

[Mu3] One of the most tumultuous years of the 20th century also produced some of its greatest popular music. And it’s not just baby boomers who are nostalgic for the sounds of their youth: Even to people born decades later, the music of 1968 stands out.

[Mu4] Lifetime digs into R. Kelly’s sexual predatory behavior in six-part documentary ‘Surviving R. Kelly’

[Mu5] How A Mongolian Heavy Metal Band Got Millions Of YouTube Views

Art Links

[Ar1] Removed in secret, hidden for years, Philly school’s art collection belongs in the public eye, officials now say

[Ar2] Maine artist known for Stephen King illustrations debuts art for ‘Bird Box’

[Ar3] Art show at Waikiki hotel displays “old Hawaii”: A Waikiki hotel offers a free public exhibit of the work of American painter and printmaker John Melville Kelly, whose work depicting Polynesians often likens him to Tahiti’s Gauguin.

[Ar4] BBC art expert reveals rare painting worth thousands of pounds was destroyed by his cat

History Links

[Hi1] Telling the History of the U.S. Through Its Territories: In “How to Hide an Empire,” Daniel Immerwahr explores America far beyond the borders of the Lower 48.

[Hi2] A wooden mallet with a colorful history of being shattered: Throughout American history, speakers of the House have pounded their gavels so hard in search of order that they wind up smashing the gavel itself into smithereens.

[Hi3] History Majors Are Becoming a Thing of the Past, Except in the Ivy League: In the last decade, the number of students majoring in history at the nation’s colleges has plummeted, and it seemingly has nothing to do with the job market.

[Hi4] 8 things you may not know about British history: Most of us are familiar with British history’s landmark events: the Roman invasion, the battle of Hastings, Magna Carta, the Reformation and so forth. But what about the overlooked, lesser-known moments?

Food Links

[Fo1] Through Food Art, Asian-Americans Stop ‘Pushing Heritage To The Back Burner’

[Fo2] The Norwegian Art of the Pack Lunch: Today the matpakke is much more than just an insipid open sandwich; it’s a national institution, and an understated source of cultural pride.

[Fo3] Many People Who Claim to Have a Food Allergy Actually Don’t

[Fo4] Dealing with a ‘food desert’: USA NIAGARA: Expansion of healthy food options in city being explored

[Fo5] How A Memphis Food Hall Is Transforming Refugee Lives And The Community

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Linky Friday: Those Folks on the Hill( 5 )

Linky Friday: Those Folks on the Hill

[LF1] The historic new Congress, in 17 pictures

[LF2] The New Congress: Fewer Christians But Still Religious

[LF3] A look inside the most diverse Congress in history

[LF4] ‘Si, se puede’: With inauguration, Latina legislators make history in Congress

[LF5] Muslim and Jewish holy books among many used to swear-in Congress

[LF6] ‘There’s so many different things!’: How technology baffled an elderly Congress in 2018

[LF7] A Nuclear Battle Is Ahead in Congress: Democrats seem intent on killing the main elements of the Pentagon’s plan to modernize the arsenal.

[LF8] FCC’s Ajit Pai says Congress was right not to restore net neutrality

[LF9] Congress in 2019: What are the alternatives to impeachment?

[LF10] Dysfunction junction: Why we have a ‘do nothing’ Congress

[LF11] McConnell Faces Pressure From Republicans to Stop Avoiding Shutdown Fight

[LF12] Senate Investigation Alleges U.S. Marshals Service Commonly Used Fraudulent, Pre-Printed Subpoenas to Collect Telephone Records

[LF13] Kyrsten Sinema Makes History As First Openly Bisexual Person Sworn In To Senate

[LF14] Big shakeup coming to Senate Armed Services

[LF15] Senate Sets Mid-January Confirmation Hearings For Attorney General Nominee

[LF16] Grassley sworn in as Senate President Pro Tempore

[LF17] The Path to Give California 12 Senators, and Vermont Just One

[LF18] Orrin Hatch ends 4-decade Senate run as unique GOP voice

[LF19] Those 44 former senators are demanding a Senate that no longer exists

[LF20] The Senate Is Where Peril Awaits Trump

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Ordinary World for 1/3( 9 )


[Hi1] Sears: Civil Rights Pioneers

[Hi2] Did the US throw the space race?

[Hi3] The American Revolution was perhaps saved by raiding Bermuda.

[Hi4] 400 years is a really long time.

[Hi5] A look at Japanese fireworks and artwork thereof from yesteryear.


[Ho1] Megan Garber says down with lawns! They certainly are a hassle, but my childhood wouldn’t have been the same without them.

[Ho2] Right on. It won’t help with the places where costs are highest, but it will help just about everywhere else.


[Re1] How would a universe designed for humans even work?


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Wednesday Writs for 1/2/19( 15 )

Wednesday Writs for 1/2/19*My apologies for the hiatus: I was swept away by Christmas spirit, or something.*

[L1]: In 1951, an epic battle came before the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. Or, epically named, at least: Batman v. Commissioner. The caped crusader vs. the pillar of police? The Dark Knight vs the Top Cop? No… actually, our case of the week was the farmer vs. the IRS. Mr. Batman was a Texas rancher who wanted to make his son, only 14 at the time, a partner in the farm. He was counseled that such family partnerships were frowned upon and seen as instruments of tax-dodging. Indeed, when Mr. Batman’s tax returns reflected his arrangement with his son, the IRS took issue and attributed some $20,000 more in income than Batman and his wife had claimed. Thus ensued a two year court battle, in which the IRS emerged victorious. All in all, it was a fairly dry tax

[L2]: A captive of the Bronx Zoo will have his day in Court. After 42 years, a Court will decide his freedom: Happy the Elephant is granted Habeas Corpus.

[L3]: Who among us has embezzled half a million dollars from a Catholic School and spent it gambling in Vegas? The answer is: Nun of us. Two nuns, actually.

[L4]: Many have lauded (rightly so, in my humble opinion) a rare successful bipartisan effort by congress last week: the passage of the First Step Act, a bill, already signed into law by President Trump, to ease some overly harsh penalties for drug offenders at the federal level.

[L5]: Lawyers behaving badly: this time at a deposition, in which the offending counsel called his opponent stupid, and a bitch. His justification: Trump. “Standards have changed,” explained the lawyer. Bonus: when the judge in the case reprimanded him, he accused the judge of “robe rage”.

[L6]: Chief Justice John Roberts continues to disappoint conservatives, this time by siding with the liberal contingent of SCOTUS in rebuffing the Trump administration’s attempt to keep new restrictions on asylum alive via motion for stay of a lower court ruling, pending appeal. This was the same case that led to some verbal sparring between Chief Justice Roberts and the president back in November.

[L7]: There was much speculation around Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s pointy-edged necklace, worn in this year’s official SCOTUS group photo. Was it a pointed (no pun intended) jab at her newest colleague? No, as it turns out. Just a gift from an adoring fan. The gifter was a lawyer, however, which may raise ethical concerns should the attorney ever have a case before the Court during RBG’s tenure. But, considering how few lawyers achieve that honor, it is likely a moot point.

[L8]: In a victory for Ninjas everywhere, a Federal judge has struck down a New York law that banned Nunchucks. H/T Oscar Gordon for the link.

[L9]: A federal judge in Houston issued an order that made the rounds on social media for its blunt rebuke of the lawyers in a case. “What is wrong with you?” asked Judge Vanessa Gilmore of the whiny lawyers before her. The short and not sweet order can be read here.

[L10]: There is no such thing as a good time to shoplift, but there is such a thing as the worst possible time to shoplift: during a Shop with a Cop event. Thanks to our dumb criminal of the week for the public service announcement.

[L11]: Back in November I posted a clip from My Cousin Vinny, calling it one of my top three lawyer movies of all time, and promising to post a second the following week. Apparently, I forgot, so I present, #2 of my favorite lawyer movie scenes, with Al Pacino in the obvious form the devil would take in today’s society: the lawyer (bad language warning):


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Ordinary New Year( 0 )

Ordinary New Year

It was a year of breaking news, pitched debates, earnest discussions, and pointed opinions. Here are a few of the most read, shared, and discussed pieces from the year that was at Ordinary Times:

[NY1] The Magic of Ben Shapiro by AdotSad: “The “How we got Trump” point is overplayed, and the real answer is certainly multifactorial, but my contention is that Shapiro and others like him helped cultivate an environment in which Trump could be successful within the conservative movement. The irony is two-fold – first, Shapiro doesn’t seem to realize or care about what he helped build. If you listened to his latest speech at CPAC, almost the entirety of it focused on channeling audience anger towards the left and attacking the media. Second, the very methods he criticizes the left for using, he employs. If you accept his premise that the reactionary right has only emerged because of the left, then you should at least acknowledge the danger of radicalization of the left if you use the very tactics you bemoan”

[NY2] When Schools Get Political, What Should Teachers Do? by Michele Kerr: “Everyone has the best of intentions. The teachers and administrators at Oceana meant well. So do the schools and teachers Rick Hess refers to, from Eva Moskowitz and all the Success Academy teachers, to the teachers and schools busing Newark students to a protest in Washington DC. So do I. Without question, my actions at Oceana were an expression of values, just as the other teachers and schools were expressing theirs. The difference lies in what we each want our students to do. I want my students to share my values about open expression, and could care less whether they agree with me. Oceana High School and Eva Moskowitz, as well as many other schools and teachers, see no valid alternative to their opinions, and so consider any efforts at “hearing all sides” to be wasted. They see agreement as essential, conflicting opinions as harmful and—I believe as a consequence—don’t really think much about the need for open expression.”

[NY3] The Rigged System by Tod Kelly: “That someone should be presumed innocent until proven guilty is a bedrock American belief, and it’s one that we rightfully should cherish. But that’s assuming the system is fair and just, and in the case of sexual assault it simply isn’t. No, we should not have a system where we “believe all women accusers no matter what.” But neither should we have a system where being a victim means the justice system assumes you to be suspect at best, and threatens you with punishment at worst. The system is rigged.”

[NY4] Incentive to Kill by Em Carpenter: “It often seems that police officers escape consequences for shooting deaths. Never mind criminal charges; they are rarely held to account civilly, either. And that is due in large part to the wide protection provided by the doctrine of qualified immunity. If it seems that qualified immunity holds officers harmless when they make poor decisions, even if they result in a citizen’s death, that is by design. In Maciariello v. Sumner, a case out of Maryland, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals explained the rationale for qualified immunity: to protect officers from the consequences of “bad guesses in gray areas”, unless the officers have “transgressed bright lines” of the law. In other words, if an officer arrives on the scene, makes an incorrect guess as to what is going on, and acts on that guess in a way that causes harm, he is not to be held accountable for the consequences of his actions. The law protects “all but the plainly incompetent” or those who violate “clearly established rights”, and rarely is that standard deemed met.”

[NY5] Politics, Empathy and the Kavanaugh Thing by Michael Siegel: “In a sane world, the Republicans would have gotten Kavanaugh to withdraw to clear his name and nominated someone else in his place. In a sane world, the Democrats would have conceded that the allegations were shaky but said they should be disqualifying anyway. But we don’t live in that world, if we ever did. And the reasonable people seem to be fleeing the field to leave the crazies in charge. I don’t know that there’s a fix for the disease that has afflicted our politics. It’s not just that we live in echo chambers. It’s that there is always some idiot on Twitter, on television, on Facebook, somewhere who will make the worst possible argument that can be made. And that argument will be easily amplified in the echo chambers as an example of what “they” really think.”

[NY6] If Conservatives Want to be Heard, Stop Whining About Unfair by Andrew Donaldson: “Learning that there is a larger world is difficult. Learning that world doesn’t care about thoughts and feelings even more so. How children react to this revelation is a behavior long studied by experts. All agree this process impacts thought and behavior for the rest of that child’s life. The same principles apply to political thought. No matter where one falls on the political spectrum, there are just as many people who disagree as agree with you. Often there are people smarter, more articulate, and with larger platforms who can eloquently espouse things that you know are not true. There are people in positions of power that your principles tell you are doing more harm than good. Frustration comes in not thinking, but knowing, you are right in your cause, but no one is listening to you, and in fact doing the opposite is so frustrating…so infuriating…so…unfair! We need to get over ourselves and stop with the usual litany of what is unfair.”

[NY7] Democrats and Chicken Little Politics by Mark Kruger: “Moreover, to win based on an inevitable Trump implosion forces Democrats to root for disaster. This is not an enviable position for a party desperate to define itself as positive and progressive. I have little doubt, Trump being Trump, that he might oblige them and go down in flames. But assuming that the “everything is terrible” motto continues to ring hollow, what’s Plan B? If Trump succeeds, even in a window dressing sort of way, what will become of the Democratic predictions of the Apocalypse? If the economy keeps humming, if Trump skates by on Russia, if the tariff kerfuffle with the G7 turns out to be a mayonnaise sandwich, or worse, succeeds in resetting a few short-term trade deals in the US favor – what then? What will the Democratic message be? I don’t think “Trump is just such an idiot” is going to work as a slogan any more than “but it’s her turn”. I’m not suggesting I know a winning strategy. I only know that rooting for a “crashing economy“, as Bill Maher has done, is like hoping your NBA team loses it’s last 10 games so you get a higher draft pick. It may work, but it says you love your team more than the game.”

[NY8] Are There Earnest Arguments Against Birthright Citizenship? by Vikram Bath : “The entirety of US national history has featured strong disagreement about who should enjoy the full rights and privileges of full citizens. I am going to present my own cartoonized version of history here, but do your own research if you want better. In general, there have been a lot of arguments as to whether things like owning property, literacy, being able to pay a poll tax, having a clear record, and being able to clear other arbitrary barriers ought to count towards a person’s claim of full citizenship. By and large, these were all proxies for more fundamental claims:”

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Ordinary Sunday Brunch: Culture Links( 1 )

Ordinary Sunday Brunch

Music Links

[Mu1] HMV: The rise and fall of a music icon

[Mu2] Music lyrics are getting angrier, sadder over time, study finds

[Mu3] Woodstock: 50th anniversary festival to be held at original site

[Mu4] Turning LEGO Blocks into Music with OpenCV

[Mu5] U. researchers: Alzheimer’s patients can benefit from familiar music

Art Links

[Ar1] The Pursuit of Art, 2018: The creation and interpretation of art remains an anchor and a refuge, a sanctuary for vanishing ideals.

[Ar2] Remembering Sister Wendy Beckett, Beloved Nun Who Made Art Accessible

[Ar3] African Nations Ask for Their Art to Be Returned

[Ar4] “Sophisticated” Art Collectors Are Facing Less Sympathetic Courts

History Links

[Hi1] U.S. Army’s only all-female, African American WWII unit honored with monument

[Hi2] Five Amazing Things We Learned About History From Ancient DNA In 2018

[Hi3] Teacher deployed political collection to make history come alive

[Hi4] A High-Flying History of Champagne, Hot-Air Balloons, and French Farmers

Food Links

[Fo1] The Timeless Bliss of Eating Hometown Food

[Fo2] Video: Medieval peasant food was frigging delicious

[Fo3] TV chef in hot water after ‘horsesh-t’ Chinese food diss

[Fo4] Research into how plants respond to microgravity could help grow food in space

[Fo5] Why We Drink Champagne on New Year’s Eve

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Linky Friday: NIMBY This, YIMBY That( 21 )

Linky Friday: NIMBY This, YIMBY That

[LF1] Los Angeles NIMBY Lawsuit Succeeds in Killing Off Elon Musk’s Futuristic Transit Tunnel

[LF2] A new Housing Policy Debate paper explores a deeply controversial idea: a cap-and-trade system for building affordable housing. Some New Jersey lawmakers want to give it a try.

[LF3] Turning NIMBYs into YIMBYs in Portland

[LF4] Is Airwave Nimbyism Holding Back 5G? The GPS industry has been keeping spectrum hostage for a decade.

[LF5] HUD won one court battle, lost another under Ben Carson in 2018

[LF6] NIMBY-land Brisbane Says Yes to Major Housing: Brisbane voters narrowly approved a development that would add up to 2,200 housing units on the border of San Francisco and Daly City.

[LF7] A denser L.A. of high rises and YIMBYs would be a disaster for poor residents

[LF8] The YIMBY movement comes to New York City

[LF9] Seattle commission targets single-family zones for housing solutions

[LF10] Six YIMBYs on a mission: Mostly younger and living with roommates, activists want a place to live that won’t take their last dime — the American dream in a new context

[LF11] Jehovah’s Witnesses Sell Last Piece Of Former Brooklyn HQ

[LF12] A Decade without Single-Family Residential Zoning in Grand Rapids

[LF13] Stamford to review zoning powers over Airbnb, other issues

[LF14] If Oregon Bans Single-Family Zoning, It Will Change How Portlanders Live

[LF15] Single-Family Zoning Is an Urban Dinosaur

[LF16] Why Raleigh canceled a planned talk on gentrification in the city

[LF17] How Machine Learning and AI Can Predict Gentrification

[LF18] Denver school claims it faces eviction from landlord because of gentrification

[LF19] Gentrification battle moves to SeaTac as immigrant-owned businesses face displacement

[LF20] How Urban Core Amenities Drive Gentrification and Increase Inequality

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Morning Ed: Family( 12 )

[Fa1] Contrary to stereotypes, being a parent has moved me left more than right so far, but one big exception is child care center regulation. The price breaks aren’t all that great, but availability…

[Fa2] Related: The case against zoning, children edition.

[Fa3] There’s a case to be made that a lot of these gaps are selection bias (which doesn’t actually let everyone off the hook!), but it’s still the opposite of what a lot of people are told.

[Fa4] The true story of The Sperm and Egg.

[Fa5] I’m not nearly as bothered by overprotective parents as I am the effect they can have on norms and laws that affect us all.

[Fa6] A guest piece by Hugo Schwyzer at the Institute For Family Studies is impossibly 2018.

[Fa7] Whew!

[Fa8] One issue to keep an eye out for when it comes to making the decision to cohabitate (Well, any phase of a relationship really, but especially that one): Asymmetrical commitment.

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Ordinary World: Christmas Hangover( 14 )

Ordinary World: Christmas Hangover

[OW1] On Christmas Eve, Trump tweets grievances

[OW2] Merry Christm….opps, never mind: “A Swiss man won a million and then lost it on Saturday, when a televised Swiss lotto draw went chaotically wrong.”

[OW3] What Was Steve Mnuchin Thinking? Three Possibilities

[OW4] The Dollar Store Backlash Has Begun: The U.S. has added 10,000 of these budget retail outlets since 2001. But some towns and cities are trying to push back.

[OW5] Japan Reportedly Will Leave International Whaling Group To Resume Commercial Hunts

[OW6] Illusion of control: Why the world is full of buttons that don’t work

[OW7] Every government shutdown — and how long they lasted

[OW8] Inside Bernie-world’s war on Beto O’Rourke

[OW9] GoFundMe refunds money after police say fundraiser for homeless man was a scam

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Ordinary Sunday Brunch: Culture Links( 6 )

Ordinary Sunday Brunch

Music Links

[Mu1] The 27 Best Music Moments of 2018 according to The Atlantic.

[Mu2] All Songs Considered: The Year In Music 2018 from NPR

[Mu3] 10 Best Country Music Videos of 2018 from Rolling Stone

[Mu4] Real live rock ’n’ roll stories for Christmas

[Mu5] How Will Rock and Roll Find Its Future?

Art Links

[Ar1] The Art-Filled Spanish Palace That Went Up In Flames On Christmas Eve

[Ar2] Art of Clay and Steel in the City of New Orleans

[Ar3] What happened to all the art in Mexico’s presidential palace?

[Ar4] The art behind the gorgeous indie game Gris

History Links

[Hi1] The history of Jews, Chinese food, and Christmas, explained by a rabbi

[Hi2] The complex task of writing history

[Hi3] Christmas Wreaths Are a Classic Holiday Decoration With a Surprisingly Deep History

[Hi4] Why the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire Makes for a Complicated History

Food Links

[Fo1] Re-visiting 2018 food safety Op-Eds

[Fo2] New Research Suggests That Food Really Does Affect How We Think

[Fo3] Last Call: The intricacies of leaving food for Santa

[Fo4] FDA weighs legalizing interstate sales of cannabis-based CBD in food and drinks

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Linky Friday: Merry and Bright( 1 )

Linky Friday: Merry and Bright

[MB1] I Spent a Year Wrestling With the Metaphysics of The Muppet Christmas Carol

[MB2] Bleak house: the dark truth behind Charles Dickens’ Christmas obsession

[MB3] Merry Christmas, Don Corleone

[MB4] Netflix Now Owns Christmas TV, Too

[MB5] Vintage photos of a ‘Merry Christmas’ in N.J.

[MB6] A Weed Grows In Toledo, And Residents Hang Their Christmas Hopes Upon It

[MB7] How was Utah’s first Christmas Day observed? By working, of course

[MB8] Canada’s Christmas Tree in a Bottle

[MB9] The Monumental Push Behind Getting That Package Delivered By Christmas

[MB10] Christmas Facts and Trivia

[MB11] Why social media is killing Christmas

[MB12] Die Hard gets remixed as ‘The Greatest Christmas Story’ ever told

[MB13] 17 old photos of LA’s grandest department stores decked out for Christmas

[MB14] How Queen Victoria and Prince Albert Made Christmas Trees a Holiday Staple

[MB15] America’s Most Glorious Christmas Trees

[MB16] A journey through Europe’s historic Christmas markets

[MB17] How Many Americans Celebrate Hanukkah? It’s More Than You Think

[MB18] Wellness: Coping with Estrangement Over the Holidays

[MB19] Today is one of the eight sacred Celtic holidays of the year

[MB20] When the Christmas Plant Was a Pepper, Not a Poinsettia

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Wednesday Writs for 12/19( 17 )

Wednesday Writs for 12/19

Roy Pearson (Picture from the Washington Post)

[L1]: We hear a lot about lawsuit abuse and frivolous cases, in which some litigant appears to attempt to make a quick buck through use of the court system against a hapless defendant. While many a lawyer will tell you the stereotype is exaggerated, these cases exist. One such travesty was initiated in 2006 by, of all people, an administrative law judge, in Pearson v. Chung, our case of the week.

Our plaintiff was Roy Pearson, who suffered the tragic tort of (he alleges) a pair of pants lost by a dry cleaner. The business, run by the Chungs, contends they gave Pearson’s pants back, but he insisted they were not his. Pearson sued for the loss of the pants, and also alleged unfair trade practices; specifically, Pearson argued, the “satisfaction guaranteed” sign in the window of the business was an unconditional warranty, one which the Chungs must have had no intention of honoring since they refused to “satisfy” him regarding his supposedly lost pants. If that wasn’t enough of a reach, Pearson asked for damages for seven different violations of the Consumer Protections Procedures act for every day of the several years the business had been opened. His first demand was $1,500; settlement negotiations culminated in an offer of $12,000 from the Chungs, which Pearson rejected. He ultimately asked for $54 Million. At a bench trial, the trial court judge found for the Chungs on all counts. Pearson appealed, but the DC Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court, finding Pearson’s claims “not supported by law or reason”. Just this year, Pearson faced discipline from the DC Board on Professional Responsibility for his actions.

The Board recommended Pearson’s law license be suspended for 90 days. The Chungs went out of business.

[L2]: Millions were riveted a few years ago by the documentary series “Making a Murderer” involving the murder of Theresa Halbach and subsequent conviction of Steven Avery and his 16 year old nephew, Brandon Dassey. The series was chock-full of awful characters-including most of the lawyers involved. What struck me in the series was the abominable representation provided by Dassey’s lawyer, Len Kachinsky, including allowing his client to be interviewed without counsel present, and steadfastly ignoring Dassey’s claims of innocence. Since then, he became a municipal judge, a position from which he was suspended following stalking charges by a court clerk. He was acquitted last week, but I think we can all still agree, he’s a creep.

[L3]: The Ninth Circuit is taking up the question of whether defendant children in immigration courts have a right to counsel. Per the government, because it is a civil rather than criminal proceeding, they do not, not even a baby in a basket.

[L4]: The Chinese tech company Huawei developed a phone smart enough to drive a Porsche, but we won’t be getting it here in the US, due to the FCC’s national security concerns.

[L5]: Third Circuit judge Thomas Hardiman made the news last summer as a name on Trump’s shortlist for SCOTUS nomination. He was back in the headlines last week with his proposal to eliminate discovery in federal civil cases worth less than $500K, an idea some believe detrimental to the average litigant.

[L6]: Uber is being sued again, this time for anti-competitive behavior. They’re accused by rival Sidecar of engaging in “widespread sabotage”, including submitting phony ride requests to tie up drivers, and unfair pricing.

[L7]: The DC Circuit tackled the government’s ban on transgendered people in the military last week. One point of contention: the government insists the ban is not discriminatory because it allows an exception for transgendered people who do not have gender dysphoria- which, as Judge Robert Wilkins pointed out, is basically defined as being transgendered.

[L8]: Any lawyer who often practices in front of a particular judge will pick up cues, certain phrases that signal to an attorney where the judge’s mind may be going on an argument. Our supremes are no different. 

[L9]: Don’t do drugs and then chase zombies around the WalMart parking lot in an endloader, or you may get 15 years in prison like our dumb criminal of the week.

[L10]: The jury is still out on what may make the cut as the craziest lawsuits of 2018, but here are the winners, as it were, for last year:

Top Ten Most Ridiculous Lawsuits of 2017

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Tech Tuesday – 12/18/18( 17 )

On a personal note, we spent the weekend in Flagstaff, and Bug got to see Mars through a 16″ telescope, and he got to see the Orion Nebula through the Clark Telescope, which showed him 8 baby stars and the glowing green gas of the nebula. Totally worth staying up late and standing in line in the cold.

[TT1] It’s got a funny name, but under the right conditions it can provide more thrust than the mains.  So I guess the name isn’t quite so funny.

[TT2] New neural network design using ordinary differential equations. If you understand calculus, this will make sense.

[TT3] Oh, man, evidence that gender is not as simple as XX or XY is bound to cause certain heads to explode.

[TT4] See what happens when you let your kids play with Shrinky Dinks too much?

[TT5] Pretty sure this was an episode of Curious George, when he got to pilot a mini-sub to find a lost sensor package.

[TT6] I feel better knowing there is a group out there for Architects with anger issues.

[TT7] Using lasers to help cubesats keep in touch with earth.  This is more involved, and a bit more clever, than simply pointing a laser at earth.

[TT8] A motorcycle with jets in the wheels.  We are living in the future.

[TT9] Organic farming is bad for the environment.  Bit of schadenfreude with this one.

[TT10] CRISPR techniques could help with obesity without editing genes.  Well, some obesity, in people with certain gene mutations.  Not you, you just need to stop hitting Dunkin Donuts three times a week and try going for a walk longer than from the couch to the bathroom.  And maybe take Dave’s advice and lift some actual weight.  Or eat some clay.  Ya’ll weren’t expecting that last one, were ya?

[TT11] The VSS Unity reached space and came home safely.

[TT12] Previously mentioned ‘Steam Sponge’ has leveled up to become a ‘Super Heated Steam Sponge’.

[TT13] I am enormously curious and eager to try a vat grown steak.

[TT14] Electric motors do make variable geometry a lot easier to do.

[TT15] Two older drugs, when their powers combine, can form Captain Pla…, errr, no, but they can cause cancer cells to starve and die.  Now can someone explain to me why this doesn’t hurt healthy cells?

[TT16] A tunable, artificial Mother of Pearl.

[TT17] The 3rd, and final, Zumwalt has left the construction yards.  Why the 3rd, and not the 32nd as originally planned?  Because OMG! are these expensive ships, and destroyers, like frigates, are supposed to be cheap and easy to turn out.  The Zumwalt is sitting at (not counting R&D costs) $4.6B per hull.  The Arleigh Burke class is $1.8B per hull, and those ships are currently doubling as light cruisers (since the Navy is no longer developing a Ticonderoga replacement, which was only $1B a pop).  Compare to the Freedom LCS, which is just shy of $400M.

[TT18] I’m a fan of electric motors, but being a fluids guy, I personally think hydraulic motors don’t get nearly the love they deserve.  Glad to see someone else thinks so too!

[TT19] Damnit technology, stop finding more fossil fuels!

[TT20] Sure it’s small, but can it be produced cost effectively?  Thoughts, Brother Michael?

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Ordinary World 17 Dec 18( 2 )

Ordinary World
16 Dec 18

[OW1] Has The Trump-Russia Scandal Actually Been The GOP-Russia Scandal All Along? by Elizabeth Piccuito: “People have generally assumed that the main problem facing the GOP from investigations into illegal Russian influence schemes is that the party will be sullied by association with their leader. Butina’s plea, however, is a sign (and not the only sign) that Trump may not be the only Republican unduly influenced by Russia.”

[OW2] How to approach Kansas’s economy post-Brownback by Alex Muresianu: “Instead of pursuing budget-busting tax cuts, the Republican legislature should work with the new governor to reform Kansas’s tax code by lowering tax rates and broadening tax bases. Kansas’s tax code is roughly average, ranking 28th of 50 for business climate, according to the nonpartisan Tax Foundation’s State Business Tax Climate Index.”

[OW3] A Boost for Young, Diverse Farmers by Olivia Paschal: “The new farm bill, which passed through both houses of Congress last week and is waiting on Donald Trump’s signature, nearly triples funding for the only two programs specifically designed to support beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers; in other words, farmers outside the current dominant—and aging—demographic. The two grant programs—the Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Program, often known as the 2501 Program after its original section number, and the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program—will exist within one new initiative, called the Farmer Opportunity Training and Outreach (FOTO) Program.”

[OW4] Tear Up the Farm Bill and Start Over by Alison Acosta Winters & Caroline Kitchens : “This year’s bill, like its predecessors, is a huge jumble of subsidies and other programs, such as quotas and price setting, that dole out welfare to corporate agricultural interests. It creates barriers for new farmers, wastes resources, and creates risk for farmers and taxpayers alike. The bill leaves intact numerous harmful policies, including programs designed to shield the U.S. sugar industry from competition, which help keep U.S. sugar prices double those of the rest of the world. This hurts consumers and sugar-using businesses alike.”

[OW5] California Regulators Want to Tax Texts You Sent 5 Years Ago by Joe Setyon: “The tax would not apply to internet messaging services such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and iMessage—platforms that many people use instead of traditional texting. That raises the question of unequal enforcement. “Subjecting wireless carriers’ text messaging traffic to surcharges that cannot be applied to the lion’s share of messaging traffic and messaging providers is illogical, anti-competitive, and harmful to consumers,” the CTIA, a telecommunications industry trade group, argues in a legal filing. It’s not even a given that the California Public Utilities Commission has the legal right to do this. Thanks to a rule adopted by the Federal Communications Commission yesterday, text messages are now considered an “information service,” which the commission may not have the authority to tax.”

[OW6] Teen vaping is soaring as the Trump administration tries to crack down by Kimberly Leonard: “Vaping opponents, including members of the public health sector, have long charged that e-cigarettes target teens because they come in multiple flavors intended to mimic fruits or desserts. Defenders of the flavors say that adults need an alternative that tastes nothing like traditional cigarettes to get them to stop smoking. The FDA plans to ban the sale of certain flavored e-cigarettes in convenience stores and gas stations. This would mean that certain flavors can be sold only in specialty vaping shops. The FDA will also require age verifications on websites where the devices are sold. The actions have caused alarm among conservatives who point to the Trump administration’s otherwise deregulatory agenda, and to vaping organizations who argue that they will diminish progress made on smoking regular cigarettes.”

[OW7] Rebuilding the City on a Hill by Avi Woolf: “Increasing rural support for the right, alongside its decline in cities and now also suburbs, marks something deeper than what pundits have noted. Right-wing bigotry, after all, existed long before the Tea Party, and it certainly predates Trump. I’m afraid what it marks out is the abandonment of any hope for the future, of any belief in the possibility of persuading young people or immigrants or anyone who lives near different kinds of people that conservative ideas outside of just free markets and tax cuts have any value for them. This is wrong. My series has been an attempt to show that.”

[OW8] Trump Owns a Government Shutdown. So What? by Alex Shephard: “Trump designed Tuesday’s Oval Office meeting to be a spectacle. “Although aides often urge him to keep such meetings closed to the public, The Washington Post reports, “Trump likes the visual of him at the center of a room leading a meeting with lawmakers because he looks like he is ‘in charge,’ according to a former White House official.” When Pelosi and Schumer asked to meet behind closed doors, Trump refused. Nonetheless, all three of them may have gotten what they wanted.”

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Ordinary Sunday Brunch: Culture Links( 25 )

Ordinary Sunday Brunch

Music Links

[Mu1] Maroon 5 and How the Super Bowl Halftime Show Became Music’s Least Wanted Gig

[Mu2] This is what kind of music you should listen to at work to be more productive

[Mu3] Does listening to music really help you to fall asleep?

[Mu4] Dolores O’Riordan remembered by Dave Davies

[Mu5] Music to keep the darkness at bay: The history of music in fact began even before the time of Lascaux, dating to near the beginning of the Upper Paleolithic age.

Art Links

[Ar1] Hoarding and Spending at Art Basel Miami Beach: After Safariland, if you need to convince yourself that the art world isn’t entirely in money’s thrall, you’d want to be anywhere but here.

[Ar2] Legacy of Lynching Exhibit Explores Racial Violence Through Art

[Ar3] ‘Thank you, dear Nazis’: A German art collective says it tricked neo-Nazis into outing themselves online

[Ar4] Gris mirrors the stages of grief through art, sound and design

History Links

[Hi1] Southern Baptist Seminary Confronts History Of Slaveholding And ‘Deep Racism’

[Hi2] Smithsonian names woman to top post at American History Museum

[Hi3] How the Civil War Changed Christmas in the United States

[Hi4] Anti-Semitism is making a comeback, and history can explain why

Food Links

[Fo1] Moosewood, the Restaurant that Taught Americans to Eat Healthyish, Has a New Cookbook

[Fo2] Rethinking the Corny History of Maize: A new genetic study traces the movement of one of the world’s most vital crops from Mexico to South America

[Fo3] The History of Mocha Coffees

[Fo4] What’s Ina Garten making today: Whole lotta cash

[Fo5] Stadium Food Is Nasty and Full of Human Sweat, According to an ESPN Report

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Linky Friday: Mental Health( 10 )

“About a third of my cases are suffering from no clinically definable neurosis, but from the senselessness and emptiness of their lives. This can be defined as the general neurosis of our times.”
– Carl Gustav Jung

Linky Friday: Mental Health

[GB1] What is ‘hangxiety?’ When drinking to overcome social anxiety backfires the day after.

[GB2] New brain circuit that controls anxiety found

[GB3] Black children are suffering higher rates of depression and anxiety. What’s going on?

[GB4] Anxiety Is Our New Religion

[GB5] Depression Can Be Hard To Talk About, So Farmers Turn To Twitter For Support

[GB6] Regular trips out guard against depression in old age

[GB7] 300 years of storms: The evolution of the language of depression

[GB8] It’s despair, not depression, that’s responsible for Indigenous suicide

[GB9] McKenzie Adams Suicide: Everything We Know About The Heartbreaking Story Of 9-Year-Old Who TooK Her Own Life

[GB10] The boy on the bridge: A 12-year-old tried to kill himself, police say. Instead, he killed someone else.

[GB11] VA Struggles Unlock The Reasons Behind High Risk Of Suicide Among Older Veterans

[GB12] Social Media Is Ruining Our Minds—It Also Might Save Them

[GB13] Kaiser mental health workers explain why they’re striking

[GB14] Oregon may require middle, high schoolers undergo annual mental health exams

[GB15] Being detained under the Mental Health Act drove me to improve care

[GB16] Even with insurance, getting mental health treatment is a struggle in Mass., study says[GB17]

[GB18] Military units to reunite for mental health support in new VA pilot to prevent suicide

[GB19] AI can predict mental health issues from your Instagram posts. But should it?

[GB20] The Administration of Mental Health

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Ordinary World 13 Dec 2018( 3 )

Ordinary World
13 Dec 2018

What Google’s CEO Couldn’t Explain to Congress” by Alexis C. Madrigal: “It was the kind of borderline-surreal, mostly useless exchange that typified the hearing. Serious issues with Google’s practices around the world got very short shrift. Democrats and Republicans alike tried to ask questions about Google’s prospective plans to build a censored version of its search engine that could be deployed in China. But none of them made use of the reported details about what’s known as Project Dragonfly, and Pichai answered their general queries simply: “We have no plans to launch in China,” he said.”

A New Moment for North Carolina Politics” by Eric Medlin: “More than likely, North Carolina will hold its congressional election again. Harris will be forced by state law to stay on the ballot, and his opponent, Dan McCready, has a good chance of winning. While the corruption inherent in this election seems exceptional, winning through underhanded tactics is an established political strategy in North Carolina politics. The more exceptional aspect of this episode is not that fraud occurred in a North Carolina election, but that someone may actually be punished for it.”

‘Zombie’ Theresa May staggers on towards her eventual downfall” by Dominic Waghorn: “Like a zombie, Theresa May staggers on. Whatever is thrown at her, nothing can bring her down. But neither can she regain her strength. As she stumbles towards her eventual destruction, is she taking the country with her? She has overcome and survived the latest challenge but the prime minister immediately now faces an even bigger one.”

Would David Hume Give BlacKkKlansman a Golden Globe?” by Elizabeth Picciuto: “I’m disinclined to go along with his first criterion, that people with typical or greater sensory abilities are the better judges. What he’s trying to get at is an explanation for the surprising uniformity of opinion. However, as he notes, a sharper-than-typical sensory ability can sometimes hinder one from enjoying what others enjoy. Also, people with atypical sensory systems can sometimes fulfill the second criterion better: they can pick up on nuance and subtlety that others miss. The others, though, seem pretty compelling to me, particularly sensitivity to nuance, lots of experience, and freedom from prejudice.”

Side Hustles & Freelancing in a Gig Economy by Jessica Elliot: “The majority of us side hustle to cover some monthly expenses, like the orthodontist payment or insurance on a teenage driver. Others tuck it away for a special vacation. However, millions of people are increasingly turning to the idea of multiple income streams and becoming less dependent on one employer for the entirety of their income. There’s a driving factor that pushes people into full-time freelancing or long hours to a side hustle. I like to call it—desperation.”

The State of Democratic Data” by Tom Bonier: “To that end, the 2016 presidential campaign saw the emergence of a new conventional wisdom: Democrats, who were widely believed to possess a significant advantage over Republicans in the area of data and analytics, had suddenly fallen far behind, leading to Hillary Clinton’s defeat. Of course, when a candidate who was such a strong favorite to win falls short, it’s natural to look for excuses and cast blame. This particular narrative came without much evidence. In the end, Democrats failed to see Donald Trump’s path to victory, even though it was in plain sight all along, obscured only by the margin of error in the polls the campaign used to predict state-level outcomes.”

#ThotAudit: The Incel Troll Campaign Reporting Online Sex Workers to the IRS” by Baily Steen: “The term “thot,” for those unfamiliar with such internet slang, stands for “that hoe over there” and can easily apply to popular online harlots who trade nude content of themselves for lustful attention. For those with the right ego, body and branding, the online sex industry yields plenty of rewards, and apparently inspires a lot of sexual frustration. Enter the “manosphere,” the dark hive of online forums often frequented by male members of the far-right, where irritation for women’s sexual liberties abound. On Sunday, such dissatisfied “involuntary celibates” and “meninist” activists took attention away from their complaining about the opposite sex to snitch on the sexual promiscuity of social media’s most eligible “thots,” to the point it even caught the attention of the IRS themselves.”

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Wednesday Writs for 12/12( 12 )

Wednesday Writs for 12/12[L1]: Carol Bond was a woman scorned by a cheating husband, but it was her best friend, who happened to be her husband’s pregnant mistress, whom she blamed. The actions Carol took to exact her revenge resulted in her being charged with violation of an international treaty, and became the basis for Bond v. United States, our case of the week.

Carol Bond was a micro biologist, so naturally her plan was to poison her husband’s girlfriend with toxic chemicals. Fortunately for the homewrecker, Carol was caught before she could inflict any serious damage- but the federal government indicted her under the Chemical Weapons Convention Implementation Act.

Mrs. Bond appealed the charges levied by the United States, on the grounds that the government had no authority to use an international treaty in a domestic prosecution. In support, she cited the Tenth Amendment, which says the federal government only has the powers granted to it by the Constitution. First, the government denied that Carol, or any individual, had standing to challenge federal law under the Tenth Amendment, arguing that only a state could do so. The Third Circuit agreed, but SCOTUS sided with Carol and sent the case back for reconsideration on the merits of her Tenth Amendment claim. Still, the Circuit Court sided with the government, opining that while the prosecution’s interpretation of the Act as used against Carol Bond was “striking” in its “breadth”, it nonetheless held it was applicable. But Carol once again appealed to the Supreme Court and in a unanimous decision (including three separately written concurrences), SCOTUS reversed her conviction in 2011.

[L2]: A few weeks ago SCOTUS heard argument in Nieves v. Bartlett, in which Russell Bartlett argues that his 2014 arrest for disorderly conduct and resisting was retaliation for his exercise of free speech- he claims he was arrested for approaching an officer to express displeasure at the officer’s questioning of a group of teens. The issue is whether his arrest- which was for resisting an arrest arising from his verbal complaints of the officer’s conduct- amounts to a retaliatory violation of his freedom of speech. The issue has been before the court twice before with mixed results. Erwin Chemerinsky speculates whether the third time is the charm.

[L3]: A Massachusetts judge is facing a probe into allegations she allowed a defendant appearing in her court room to escape out the back door to elude ICE agents waiting outside to take him into custody.

[L4]: A class-action lawsuit has been filed against Pinnacle Foods, Inc. over their Hawaiian brand potato chips on false advertising grounds, because the chips are made in Washington State. This is an outrage. Next, you’ll be telling me Swedish Fish aren’t actually made in Sweden (some are, but some are made in Canada).

[L5]: Were the Stormy Daniels/Karen McDougal payoffs-the ones the president didn’t know about, ok he did know but wasn’t involved, ok he was involved but it was legal, ok it wasn’t legal but it was Cohen’s mistake-an illegal campaign contribution? These analysts say yes.

[L6]: This one guy (besides Trump) disagrees.

[L7]: Pro-union advocates who were troubled by last summer’s SCOTUS decision in Janus are worried there may be another, more problematic case in the pipleline.

[L8]: In another Janus spinoff, one in which I have personal interest, a North Dakota lawyer demands to be free of bar membership.

[L8]: Podcast recommendation: The Modern Law Library from the ABA Journal is a short bi-weekly podcast featuring the authors or subjects of books of legal interest. The most recent episode features three judges who contributed to the book “Tough Cases: Judges Tell the Stories of Some of the Hardest Decisions They’ve Ever Made.”

[L9]: I should rename “Dumb Criminal of the Week” as “Florida Man of the Week”: If you illegally jump into a crocodile exhibit, don’t leave behind your Crocs. Or a trail of blood.

Wednesday Writs for 12/12

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Morning Ed: Energy( 12 )

Morning Ed: Energy

[En1] Peter Van Doren writes of the current limitations of green energy.

[En2] A look at the largest wind farm in Mexico.

[En3] Spokane wants to send Canada’s smoke back.

[En4] When dinosaurs roamed the Earth, it looked different.

[En5] Renewable energy has a lot riding on the ability to build a better battery.

[En6] Progress towards cleaner energy in Texas keeps chugging along.

[En7] A look at Japan’s plans to use recycled nuclear material for an arsenal.

[En8] Big Oil is under some pressure to ramp up.


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Ordinary Sunday Brunch( 22 )

Ordinary Sunday Brunch

Music Links

[Mu1] As debates over music in the age of #MeToo rage on, radio is still about the power of the people

[Mu2] Pop Music in 2018 Was a Beautiful, Transformative Mess

[Mu3] Disappearing movies and games: How safe is your digital collection?

[Mu4] How The ‘New World’ Symphony Introduced American Music To Itself

[Mu5] Matthew Herbert Sets The EU To Music With His Brexit Big Band.

Art Links

[Ar1] Parties, private jets, and multimillion-dollar paintings: Art Basel, explained

[Ar2] “Come,” it says. “Smell the roses. I use beauty as a trap,” the artist, Ebony G. Patterson, told the Cut in Miami this week.

[Ar3] Walmart to purchase Art.com assets

[Ar4] Tania Bruguera and Other Cuban Artists Released from Jail, Government Curtails Law Censoring the Arts

History Links

[Hi1] Pearl Harbor history preserved with help of Paul Allen Philanthropies

[Hi2] Always good, but this week they tackle some history: The Books Briefing: History, Reconsidered

[Hi3] Forty Years Ago, 12.6 Million Feet of History Went Up in Smoke

[Hi4] The Most Amazing Historical Discoveries of 2018

Food Links

[Fo1] Comfort food? Ohio State University installs bacon vending machine

[Fo2] Oversight of US military’s food suppliers called into question after fraud indictment

[Fo3] Despite value deals, fast-food prices are on the rise

[Fo4] Food giants lure consumers with ‘stealth small brands’

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Linky Friday: Pearl Harbor( 7 )

Linky Friday: Pearl Harbor

[In1] For first time, no USS Arizona survivors will be in attendance at ceremonies to mark attack on Pearl Harbor.

[In2] How the U.S. Navy’s Battleships Got Revenge for Pearl Harbor.

[In3] Unknown Stories: Audio Recordings Reveal Mood in Buffalo After Pearl Harbor

[In4] A scrap from Pearl Harbor saved this WWII sailor’s life off Okinawa

[In5] Before Pearl Harbor, these secret American heroes were already resisting Japan

[In6] On the morning of Sunday, Dec. 7, Jensen was the only physician on duty at the Naval Hospital. On a second-floor balcony overlooking Hickam field, he was stitching up the face of a soldier who had been injured in a bar fight. At 7:55 a.m., he heard explosions, then 20 planes flying low at a high speed, skimming the hospital’s roof.

[In7] A total of 334 crewmembers survived the USS Arizona sinking. Some of them have chosen to be interred on the USS Arizona upon their death.

[In8] Pearl Harbor tugboat in North Little Rock to offer 1st public tours

[In9] On This Day in 1941?—?During the Attack on Pearl Harbor Lt. Annie Fox Earned the First Purple Heart Awarded To A Woman.

[In10] How (Almost) Everyone Failed to Prepare for Pearl Harbor.

[In11] Pearl Harbor Mystery: Where Is USS Oklahoma?

[In12] Utah Was the “Not So Famous” Battleship Sunk During the Pearl Harbor Attack.

[In13] Japan’s Midget Submarine Attack on Pearl Harbor Was a Suicide Mission.

[In14] How the Battleship USS Nevada and I Survived World War II.

[In15] How the U.S. and Japan Became Allies even after Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

[In16] Blame Alfred Thayer Mahan for Pearl Harbor (and Thank Him for Its Failure).

[In17] Doris Miller honored on eve of Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.

[In18] Vin Scully recalls learning about Pearl Harbor.

[In19] VIEWPOINT: Widow: “People are forgetting about Pearl Harbor”.

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Wednesday Writs for 12/5( 8 )

Wednesday Writs for 12/5

Schenk Flyer

    [L1]: The year was 1917. The United States was embroiled in the first World War, and a draft had been instituted. A Mr. Schenk, the admitted general secretary of the “Socialist Party”, and others in his group were mailing out flyers and literature to draftees, denouncing the war and the draft. The flyers encouraged the drafted men to defy the orders, averring that the conscription violated the 13th amendment prohibiting involuntary servitude. But Schenk et. al. found themselves charged by the government with conspiracy and misuse of the mail for sending out the literature which, they alleged, obstructed recruiting and incited insubordination. They were convicted, and appealed on the grounds that the charges amounted to violation of their first amendment rights. The case made it to the Supreme Court, in Schenk v. United States, our case of the week. The Court ruled unanimously against the socialists. Writing for the court, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said the following:

…when a nation is at war, many things that might be said in time of peace are such hindrance to its effort that their utterance will not be endured so long as men fight, and that no Court could regard them as protected by any constitutional right.

In the opinion of the Court, the realities of wartime could justify the imposition of stricter restrictions on the freedom of speech. Holmes also made the following statement, which is perhaps the most well-known and lasting detail of the Schenk case:

The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic.

[L2]: SCOTUS members are back on the bench on January 7th to begin hearing the first oral arguments of 2019. Among those on the docket are cases involving copyrights, FDA warnings, governmental immunity, and Native American hunting rights.

[L3]: Are law schools adequately preparing students for the modern practice of law? Forbes contributor Mark Cohen isn’t so sure.

[L4]: Second year Law student Joshua Quick made headlines last month when he fought with a man who opened fire at a Florida yoga studio. In appreciation of his heroism, his law school rewarded him with $30,000 toward his education.

[L5]: When Citizen United was decided, John Paul Steven read his dissent from the bench. It was notable at the time that he had some difficulty reading, and he decided that same day to step down. What no one knew, not even Justice Stevens, was that he had suffered a mini-stroke.

[L6]: Pennsylvania’s former attorney general reports to jail this week. Kathleen Kane’s appeals were denied; she will serve ten months for leaking grand jury documents and lying under oath.

[L7]: Everyone loves dad jokes. Everyone loves lawyer jokes. Here is a short list of jokes that are both: lawyer/dad jokes, if you will.

[L8]: Genetics is funny, and it seems we are constantly finding out new ways in which our genes decide who we are, and not just in a physical sense. A man in New Mexico charged with a (very) violent crime is appealing his conviction, arguing that his attorney should have been permitted to present evidence that he carries “the warrior gene”, and is thus predisposed to violence.

[L9]: Jay-Z: rap god, fashion mogul, and advocate for diversity in arbitration?

[L10]: Our dumb criminal of the week just couldn’t get a handle on things. Like his gun.

[L11]: YouTube Channel recommendation: History Boy. YouTube channels are big with kids these days, but most of them are video game related. This young man makes short videos of interesting history tidbits- like this one, containing a quote by Justice Holmes, a civil war veteran. (Warning: graphic images).

Oliver Wendell Homes civil war quote


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