Retaking the pledge

In 2005, Patterico called for bloggers to take the same pledge he was taking:

If the FEC makes rules that limit my First Amendment right to express my opinion on core political issues, I will not obey those rules.

It took me a day or two, but I eventually saw the wisdom of his approach.

And the Federal Election Commission wisely kept its big yap shut about the matter, until now:

In October, then FEC Vice Chairwoman Ann M. Ravel promised that she would renew a push to regulate online political speech following a deadlocked commission vote that would have subjected political videos and blog posts to the reporting and disclosure requirements placed on political advertisers who broadcast on television. On Wednesday, she will begin to make good on that promise.

“Some of my colleagues seem to believe that the same political message that would require disclosure if run on television should be categorically exempt from the same requirements when placed in the Internet alone,” Ravel said in an October statement. “As a matter of policy, this simply does not make sense.”

Take your “policy” and shove it, Annie dear. In the best of all possible worlds, there would be no such thing as a Federal Election Commission, and the limit of your public utterances would be “You want fries with that?”

So Patterico is renewing the pledge, and so am I: “If the FEC makes rules that limit my First Amendment right to express my opinion on core political issues, I will not obey those rules.”

Period.

Comments (7)




Care Bears scared

One weird little contretemps reflected the tone of the entire game: imagine, if you will, a jump ball between Zack Randolph and Russell Westbrook. Now imagine Westbrook winning the jump. It happened, and the mighty Grizzlies, the one team that can be counted on to try to grind the Thunder into multicolored paste, took one more of a seemingly endless series of body blows from an Oklahoma City team that damned well wanted to go into the All-Star break on a high note. The Thunder were up 18 at the half; the Griz fought back to within 11 halfway through the fourth; despite the sudden absences of Dion Waiters (who stepped on Tony Allen’s foot) and Kevin Durant (probably a precautionary measure), Memphis gained no more ground, and Dave Joerger finally cried Uncle. The final was 105-89, and the Griz are now up 2-1 for the season.

How decisive was this thrashing? Memphis shot 37 percent, missed 10 of 12 treys, and picked up four fast-break points. Still, this is the statistic that stings: 14 Thunder turnovers produced only two point for the Griz. Z-Bo, of course, led the squad with 16 points and 11 boards; Jeff Green picked up 11, nine in the second half; amazingly, Marc Gasol wasn’t much of a factor, 8 points on 2-10 shooting and five rebounds.

One reason Gasol wasn’t getting anywhere was total Thunder rebound dominance, 49-42. Everyone was snatching boards: Durant had 10 (with 26 points), Russell Westbrook nine (with 24 points and nine assists), Nick Collison nine (with 15 points). Mitch McGary, after two consecutive double-doubles, got a dose of suckage: the Griz keyed on him, and in 15 minutes he managed two boards and six fouls. The Dueling Sixth Men were fairly evenly matched, Waiters collecting 11 points before turning his ankle, Reggie Jackson cashing in eight.

The Pacers put the hurt on the Pelicans tonight, so the Thunder have sole possession of ninth place, and trail the eighth-place Suns by a mere half a game. Assuming we didn’t lose a couple of players tonight, this is a promising position to be in before the next 29 games.

Comments




Version 19.8.41

If you were already somewhat miffed by the blithe assumption by Samsung that you’d keep your mouth shut in front of their Smart TVs, miffage is now intensified:

After Samsung calmed us all down, users of smart TV app Plex noticed a Pepsi commercial playing in the middle of content streamed from their own media server within the house. Plex simplifies using your home computer as a media server for smart TVs, streaming devices, tablets, phones, and game consoles. It is not supposed to inject ads in the middle of the program you’re enjoying. Yet that’s what users report happening: Pepsi ads pop up during shows streamed to their sets using Plex.

A spokesperson for Plex told GigaOm that they weren’t adding ads to users’ video streams. Users reported Pepsi ads interjected in other programs while playing programs directly on the TV from their computer, so the app wasn’t serving up the ads. This was caused by the TV, and only users of Samsung smart TVs have reported it.

Q. E. Farking D.

Temperature of hell when you buy a Samsung Smart TV:

  1. 32 °F
  2. 0 °F
  3. -40 °F
  4. 0 °K

Surely no good can come of schemes like this, even if you like Pepsi.

Comments (6)




Late at nitrogen

You might remember this observation from last spring:

[T]echnically, the firing squad is still authorized in Oklahoma — if both lethal injection and the electric chair should be found to be Constitutionally impermissible. This was a semi-clever maneuver by the legislature to make sure they had something to fall back on if the courts took issue with the drug cocktail.

Add to these two options the possibility of a third:

With no debate, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 9-0 Tuesday to authorize “nitrogen hypoxia,” which depletes oxygen supply in the blood to cause death.

The bill’s author, Moore Republican Sen. Anthony Sykes, says it’s likely the bill will be amended before the session is over.

Three lethal injections remain on hold in Oklahoma while the U.S. Supreme Court considers whether Oklahoma’s three-drug method is constitutional.

At least they wouldn’t have to sweat supplies: half the tire shops in town have nitrogen-generating devices.

Last I looked, the title of SB 749 had been stricken, which requires some explanation:

Strike the Title: to change the title of a bill to a few words which are briefly descriptive but constitutionally unacceptable. The major intent of this action is to ensure that the bill will go to a conference committee. The same effect may be achieved by striking the enacting clause. Any Senate legislation being reported out of a Senate committee, with the exception of an appropriation bill, must have an enacting clause or resolving clause and a Senate and House author.

The opponents you might expect are, as expected, opposing:

Ryan Kiesel, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union argues there is no humane way to kill someone and a bigger question needs to be discussed.

“These types of bills really miss the point. They miss the opportunity for Oklahoma to have a much broader and deeper conversation about if we should be in the business of executing people at all,” Kiesel said.

Say “gas chamber” to me, and the first thing I think of is Susan Hayward as Barbara Graham.

That’s “gas chamber.” With an S:

You may track the bill here.

Comments (4)




Outward buckpass

Why, yes, your personal information was jeopardized. Want to know what we’re going to do about it? Take a guess:

[B]ecause I have BC/BS health insurance … well, I wasted a good part of Friday morning on the phone with the credit bureaus getting holds/fraud alerts placed on my accounts, because apparently our information was among that in the Anthem breach. Now someone is telling me I need to contact the IRS and tell them not to process any address changes put through in my name in the next x period of time … and I just can’t. I can’t call that awful phone-tree and try to figure out whom I need to talk to and get kicked out three separate times and have to go through it again like I did the last time I had a problem. I’d hope that Anthem would do something towards taking care of that for us, or if they won’t, I guess I just file as early as I can and hope no one is going to try to use my SSN for nefarious purposes.

It would be most unkind to point out that, no thanks to a far bigger scam than mere identity theft, the IRS and the health-insurance industry are now joined at the hip. This is like Cthulhu hiring an adjunct.

We’ve also been warned to watch out for e-mail scams offering us credit monitoring, supposedly in the name of Anthem. It’s like, “You ALREADY have my personal information, this just adds insult to injury.”

A two-for-one deal! Expect Leviathan to promote the hell out of it on social media.

Comments (1)




Yellow Peril 2.0

God help you if you void where prohibited:

A water manager is facing discipline after he was caught urinating in an empty reservoir that supplies drinking water for the San Francisco Bay Area.

San Francisco Public Utilities Commission spokesman Tyrone Jue said Monday that the agency confirmed anonymous complaints that maintenance planner Martin Sanchez had urinated in the 674-million-gallon reservoir in the Sierra Nevada foothills early last month.

Wait a minute. Did they say “empty”?

The reservoir had been drained for maintenance, and officials say public health wasn’t in danger.

Oh. Well, throw the book at him anyway. This is California, after all. Thinking about a crime is itself a crime.

Sanchez, who earns $111,000 annually, was in line for a promotion before the incident. He now faces a maximum penalty of a weeklong suspension without pay.

Some book, huh?

(Via Daily Pundit.)

Comments (3)




You’re on your own

Rather a lot of us live alone, not that there’s anything wrong with that:

Mic just gathered some scientific research that claims living alone boosts your social skills, chills out your overactive brain, and forces you to get in touch with yourself.

Yeah, I can see some of that:

Spending time by yourself helps you value time with friends. And the time you spend with other people is all by choice, not forced.

You’re becoming the chillest person that ever was: When you live with roommates or a significant other, there’s always some sort of clamor: your roommate’s Spotify playlist, your other roommate vacuuming his bedroom for the third time this week. Not so when you’re alone. (Well, assuming your apartment is blessed with thick walls.)

Which is why I live in the middle of a largish lot and share walls with no one.

Still, this poses some additional challenges:

It’s a weird thing, not having someone double-check that you’re legally prepared for the outside world. That is on you, when you live alone. Of course, you’re probably not going to forget to wear clothes, but the thought that you could tends to cross your mind for a second. Because, technically, you could walk out of the house wearing nothing but a headband, sipping a cup of coffee, and nobody would say anything until you left the house. It’s like a childhood nightmare come true.

Two words: car keys. Fumbling around for them will make me excruciatingly aware of my condition.

Comments (3)




Decimalpractice

Yours truly, back in ’07, griping (with the help of WiseGeek) about that nine-tenths of a cent grafted onto the price of a gallon of gas:

They took it one step further: what if the price were jacked up, not by $0.009, but by $0.0099? Another $14 million for the month, another $170 million for the year, and besides contrarian cranks like me, hardly anyone would even notice.

What if, indeed?

Fractions of a penny aren’t a significant amount of money, so we don’t really pay attention to them. That might be what the dollar store chain 99 Cents Only is counting on. They don’t exactly hide that everything in their stores costs 99.99¢ rather than 99¢, putting that information on customer receipts and even on shelf tags. Does that make the store’s name misleading, or is it okay to round down?

One customer decided “misleading”:

One customer noticed and was annoyed enough to file a lawsuit against the company, which ended with them posting signs explaining the additional .99¢ price hike. The company blamed the need to raise their prices almost imperceptibly on inflation.

But of course.

Comments (5)




All the cool kids are doing it

That’s the only possible explanation I can see for this:

A poll has just been released which shows that Oklahomans overwhelming favor electing the U.S. President by a national popular vote.

On January 19th and 20th, Public Policy Polling interviewed 893 Oklahomans across the state. The results show that 79% of Oklahomans favor a national popular vote over the current system that rewards the electors to the winner of each state.

Actually, the current system doesn’t do that at all. Voters select a slate of electors, each pledged (or, in some historical incidents, not pledged) to vote for the candidate named on the ballot. (In this state, we even list the actual electors.) But contemporary politicians are utterly desperate for uninformed voters, aren’t they, Robbie?

“It’s clear that the national popular vote is overwhelmingly supported by Oklahomans regardless of party affiliation,” said former State Senator Rob Johnson. Johnson has championed the national popular vote in the Oklahoma State Senate and was the principal author of the legislation in 2014.

It is not any such thing. Get a whiff of the actual poll question:

How do you think we should elect the President: should it be the candidate who gets the most votes in all 50 states, or the current electoral college system? If you think it should be the candidate who gets the most votes in all 50 states, press 1. If you think it should be the current electoral college system, press 2.

You do know what a leading question is, don’t you?

Of course, pollsters ask what they’re told to ask. I don’t know anyone who votes the way they’re told to vote, except maybe the anonymous object of Dylan’s scorn in “Positively 4th Street”: “You just want to be on the side that’s winning.” If that’s you, you got a lotta nerve.

Comments (1)




Make mine Spunow

And look, it’s on sale:

Chocolate bars for sale

Miss Cellania explains: “Almojoy got nuts, Spunow don’t.” Still unexplained: the difference between Nickers and Sickers.

And where the heck are the W&Ws?

Comments (3)




Sentimetal

STFU necklace by Wendy BrandesThis week being, well, the week it is, I am keeping a lower profile than usual — not that I want to discourage any potential girlfriends, of which there are exactly none on the horizon — but simply because one popular topic this time of year is the difficulty of communication between the sexes, a discussion I would just as soon avoid. I am delighted, therefore, to note that seriously stylish jewelry designer Wendy Brandes is offering this silver necklace which conveys a straightforward message without any possibility of misinterpretation, at least if everyone involved speaks English.

Also available: “GTFOH”; “IDGAF”; “SRSLY?”; and many others.

(Via Nancy Friedman.)

Comments




Note to future husbands

Of all the red-carpet appearances on Sunday night’s Grammy Awards broadcast, it was Meghan Trainor’s that shook me up the most:

Meghan Trainor at the Grammys in Galia Lahav

This appears to have emerged from Galia Lahav’s MoonStruck collection, about which the designer says:

As the moon is the spotlight amongst the many stars in the night sky, so is the female’s body when reflected within layers of lace and silk. This collection is a black prism of black shades and shimmers of sheer textured fabric representing a midst summer nights dream. Moon Struck elegantly takes you away to a place of serenity where body silhouettes are revealed as a revolutionary era of evening gowns are born.

Rediscovering the mermaid shape as nymphs once roamed the oceans in Greek mythology, this is like a collection like never before, elegant with movement in the night. Each gown holds the shape to a figure of a goddess.

And then suddenly it made sense. Trainor, as she’s mentioned before, ain’t no size 2; but a goddess appears as she damned well pleases. If you have designs on her, so to speak, here are your marching orders. Keep in mind that she brought her dad to the Grammys.

(Via InStyle.com.)

Comments (5)




Peaks and valleys

It was 38-18 after twelve minutes, and we all assumed that the Nuggets were well and truly flushed, in the plumbing sense. Not so. Denver came back with 41 in the second quarter, leaving the Thunder up 73-59, and in the opening moments of the third pulled to within five, a run highlighted by Kevin Durant attempting to drop-kick Kenneth Faried to the Front Range. KD was rung up for a technical and a Flagrant One. This just made him mad, and if you’re the Nuggets, you won’t like him when he’s mad. He’d been dropping treys with alacrity, and went back to doing more of them. At the end of the third, Durant had 38 points on 12-16 shooting, 7-11 from way outside, and the Thunder led by 14, just as they had at halftime, though the Nuggets closed on a 7-0 run. That run grew to 11-0 early in the fourth. OKC’s reserves held serve through the halfway point of the quarter; when the starters returned, the Thunder were up nine, and at the horn, they were up ten, 124-114.

A few numbers were inked into the record book tonight. KD’s seven treys — he finished with 40 — tied a career high; Andre Roberson’s 12 points set a new career high; and Mitch McGary got his second double-double in two days, with 17 points and 10 rebounds. (At 25 minutes, he played more than a couple of the starters.) Russell Westbrook scored a handy 26 on 14 shots. (KD’s 40 came on 19, so the efficiency angle was working a bit better than usual.) In fact, the Thunder shot a laudable 54 percent, 50 percent (12-24) from beyond the circle, and had small leads in rebounds (40-38) and assists (24-20).

Denver posted a couple of double-doubles: Faried, with 22 points and 10 rebounds, and rookie center Jusuf Nurkić, with 16 points and 14 boards before fouling out. Wilson Chandler had a team-high 23; Ty Lawson collected 22. Through much of the night, the Nuggets were shooting 50 percent or better, falling to 48 at the end. It’s their sixth straight loss at the Pepsi Center, something that hasn’t happened in twelve years.

The Pelicans obligingly dropped one to the Jazz tonight, so right now it’s New Orleans and OKC with identical records — though the Pels own the tiebreaker, having won the season series 3-1. There remains that one game against the Griz on Wednesday, and then the All-Star break.

Comments




A high bill, but it’s clean

Last week, you may recall, I reported in to the family physician with a bladder complaint: it always seemed full no matter how long I spent in front of the porcelain facility. Said the doctor, it’s probably an infection of the prostate and/or just that it’s grown a bit, as it does in old geezers like you and me. (He’s about my age.) He prescribed a pair of drugs: an alpha blocker to reduce the pressure and maybe shrink the tissue a bit, and five days’ worth of almost industrial-strength antibiotic to clear up any lingering infection. “However,” he said, “I’m just old-school enough to order a PSA test.”

Said test was graded Friday, and the score reported back to me today. Evidently I passed, by which is meant that no further testing is anticipated. The Reaper, that scythe-wielding son of a bitch, is thwarted once more — for now.

Comments (5)




The Weather Patrol reports in

Record heat yesterday: seventy-eight degrees Fahrenheit, 2° warmer than the old record, set in 1999. (Then again, it’s February; only last Thursday it dropped into the teens and barely made it above 40 that afternoon.) I got outside and trimmed a holly. Meanwhile, Michael Eberharter went to Quail Springs Mall, specifically to Candyopolis:

Rainbow Dash for Candyopolis

Can’t argue with that, Dashie.

Comments




How are the aerodynamics?

Aaron Robinson, in the March Car and Driver, on the Chevrolet Trax, a “wee SUV”:

The optional four-wheel drive is an electronically controlled system that engages clutch plates to add torque to the rear. It is not driver-lockable, just an automatic all-weather axle, there to straighten your path when the barometer nose-dives.

Or, you know, not. The lowest barometer reading in this town since ever — meaning, most likely, “since 1890” — was 28.81 inches of mercury, on this very date in 1960. The high temperature that day was 75, which does not suggest a need for four-wheel drive. There were, however, F1-level tornadoes in the northeastern part of the state, and I don’t want to be driving in that kind of stuff no matter where the torque is allocated.

Maybe Robinson meant something other than “barometer.”

Comments (2)