Monthly Archives: March 2009

Scattershot 2009-03-30

Things I’d tweet about if Twitter allowed longer messages:

  • When you take several law enforcement agencies and throw them together into a drug task force, it tends to enhance thuggish behavior. However when the WestNET task force of Kitsap County, Washington launched a drug raid against the home of Bruce and Pamela Olson, they did manage to avoid shooting the family dogs. Instead, they poisoned them.
  • It’s not that I don’t think we should trust cops and prosecutors. But if we trust them too much, we risk letting (alleged) bad cops and bad prosecutors like these (with bonus bad judge) get away with it.
  • Speak of which, Anthony Hernandez claims he was framed on drug charges by Chicago cop Slawomir Plewa. Since Plewa has already been stripped of his police powers and charged with trying to frame someone else, Hernandez’s claim has a certain plausibility.
  • The mania for post-prison punishment of sex offenders continues its spiral into insanity, as the Connecticut legislature contemplates requiring 2 days advanced registration for out-of-state offenders who are just passing through.
  • And just to give you an idea of what counts as a sex offender these days, an asshat named George P. Skumanick (who also happens to be District Attorney of Wyoming County, Pennsylvania) has threatened to file child pornography charges against 17 high school students for having nude or semi-nude pictures of other high school students on their cell phones. In some cases, the students would have been charged for pictures of themselves.

(Hat tip: Radley, Randazza)


Scattershot 2009-03-27

Things I might have tweeted about if I “got” Twitter:

  • Damn Microsoft! My Windows system crashed—full Blue Screen Of Death! All I was doing was running Windows XP booted off a RAID disk array that’s not supported directly by Windows, accessing an Office document from an encrypted virtual disk mounted out of a container file on a portable USB drive, copying the contents of a CD to another USB drive, using LogMeIn to remote control two other computers elsewhere in Chicago, running another copy of Windows in a VMware virtual machine, and installing a third-party camera driver, all at the same time. What a piece of crap!
  • AIG executive Jake DeSantis gives Congress a well-deserved “fuck you too”:

“None of us should be cheated of our payments any more than a plumber should be cheated after he has fixed the pipes but a careless electrician causes a fire that burns down the house.”

  • Awww. Kitties.
  • Remember the “David After Dentist” kid?

That’s David DeVore. It turns out some idiots have no sense of humor:

I understand that we live in an entertainment-obsessed world, but videos of children on drugs cross the line.

You know, the War on Drugs is stupid enough when it’s illegal drugs we’re talking about. This is just dental anesthetic. It’s medicine you dumbass!

  • Apparently the US Attorney couldn’t find enough of Bernie Madoff’s real victims so he…well…see for yourself. I’m sure all the other victims are totally legitimate…
  • Sometimes upper management seems kind of stupid, even to themselves.
  • Old guys like my dad who sleep during the day tend to wake up at the damnedest times…and want me to be up too.
  • (Hat tip: Kip, Scott.)

Scattershot 2009-03-25

Things I would have tweeted about if I used twitter…and had more than 140 characters:

  • Crimlaw blogger Ken Lammers, now with 50% more badass.
  • Must not hate all cops…must not hate all cops…
  • Sex offender registration—not just for sex offenders anymore.
  • Apparently, shaking hands is now reasonable suspision:
  • The undercover officers, located approximately 10 to 20 yards away from the three vehicles, were unable to see any money or narcotics exchanged. Detective David LaRoche, however, testified that, based on his experience as a “buy” officer on undercover narcotics investigations, the purpose of touching closed fists is to keep anyone from seeing the exchange of money and narcotics during the drug deal. Likewise, Detective William Best, who also witnessed the fist bump, described it as “typical–you can conceal heroin, crack cocaine, anything in the palm of your hand. Real quick drop it off. Pick up your money same hand and you’re out.”

  • I’ve been listening to CSPAN coverage of the AIG hearings in Congress. What I’ve learned is that members of congress don’t seem to understand what a retention bonus is. When you need an employee to finish a task for you, but you plan to fire them as soon as they finish, they will start looking for another job. And if they find one, they’ll quit to take it, leaving your task undone. So you have to pay them extra to stay to the bitter end. If leaving the task undone could lose your company billions of dollars and contribute to the collapse of the national economy, you have to pay them a lot.
  • That doesn’t mean the AIG bonuses are reasonable, but that’s why they go to “the people who got us into this.” Because those are the people who know the way out. It sucks, but how much money do you want to lose on principle?
  • The winner of the online contest for the name of the new space station module is the write-in entry “Colbert.” Second place goes to the balloted name “Serenity.” Sounds like Colbert Report fans v.s. Firefly fans.
  • “Police say woman used fake ID to get fake breasts.” But of course.
  • Now playing: Defending People 2: The Impactening

As They Say, Blogging Will Be Light…

A few years ago, my father went into the hospital and came out bedridden. Since then, my mother has been his primary care giver. She gets some assistance from a home care service, and my wife and I get over there a couple of times a week.

Looking back, she started getting tired a month or so ago. Two weeks ago, I took her to her doctor, who said she seemed mostly okay, but needed some changes to her medication.

Thursday, she called my wife and asked her to stop by and make dinner because she was too tired. She’s never done that before. Friday, she didn’t call, but I stopped in to see how she was doing, and she didn’t seem to be able to get out of bed because her legs were too sore.

Yesterday morning, we sent her to the hospital, where they diagnosed her with congestive heart failure. They’re dripping three different medications into her, and she’s on 100% oxygen.

I knew the day would come when my mother couldn’t take care of my dad any more, but somehow it managed to sneak up on me. I suspect my mother helped a bit by hiding her problems. She doesn’t want me to worry.

(I’ve got a medical power of attorney, so I’ll be able to get all the answers from her doctor.)

I’m staying overnight with my dad to take care of him. My wife will come by tomorrow to spell me for a while, then I’ll take over for another night. And then…

I’ve asked a friend to wipe the Windows 7 beta off my second computer and install a stable operating system and some development software on it so I can do productive work from here. I’ll pick up a cable internet box on Monday. And then…

And then…

I don’t know. Move in with dad? And mom when she gets back? Put dad in respite care? Put them both in a home? Sell our condo into this soft market and try to buy a house large enough for all four of us?

I’m filled with doubt and fear of the unknown. I’m angry at myself for not being ready. For not seeing it coming. For not having a better plan.

(Although I must admit, I’m one libertarian who is, at least for today, greatful for the highly-socialized healthcare available to seniors.)

Right now, I just woke up after a few hours sleep at dad’s house. He’s been sleepy and peaceful. It’s actually nice and quiet.

That’s deceptive, of course. In the morning, he’ll have demands. There will be meals, and changes of bedlinen, and medication, and laundry, and shopping, and housekeeping and God knows what else…I don’t know the daily routine of the household.

As the saying goes, blogging will be light…or at least a bit different.

Welcome To the Blogroll, Jennifer

I don’t usually announce new additions to the blogroll, but maybe it’s time I start.

The libertarian world first noticed Jennifer as a commenter on Reason magazine’s Hit&Run blog, where she could usually be counted on to say something intelligent and snarky.

Jennifer’s actually a professional writer, with columns published in the Hartford Advocate and the New Britain Herald. One of my favorites is her piece on the Connecticut law against playing poker for money, which has an exception for games played among friends:

“It’s an illegal activity,” Young explained. Before anybody can play Internet poker without going to jail, “there has to be a law on the books permitting it.” And there isn’t. So the Advocate asked: where card games are concerned, would it be accurate to say that which is not allowed is prohibited?

“It is prohibited,” Young agreed.

Unless it’s among friends. So how long does it take for two strangers to legally qualify?

“We haven’t really traveled down that road … I think it’s something the courts would have to work on,” Young said.

The Advocate also wondered if sexual activity could form the foundation of a legal friendship. If you meet a stranger at six o’clock and have sex with him at six-fifteen, can you legally play poker in the afterglow?

I’ve been reading Jennifer’s blog, Ravings of a Feral Genius, for a couple of years now, but I only just realized I never added it to my blogroll. Until now.

Welcome to the blogroll, Jennifer.

Tips For a Gunfight?

Last night, my wife told me that at her company party today they’re going to be playing laser tag, and she’s pretty sure that a lot of people are going to be gunning for her. I don’t really know how the game works, and my knowledge of combat pistolcraft is more theoretical than practical, but I tried to come up with a few tips to help her out.

The key problem is that there’s no time for practice. So advice like “don’t pull the trigger, squeeze it” isn’t much good because it takes time to learn the technique. It has to be something she has a chance of learning during the first few minutes of the game.

Here’s what I came up with on short notice:

  • Isosoles stance—Hold the gun with both hands, throw your arms forward and lock your elbows so the gun is straight out in front. Pivot from the hips to place the gunsight on the target. Pull the trigger until they light up.
  • Keep the gun in shooting position all the time—Walk through the course with the gun pointed wherever you expect the threat, turning to face doorways or windows. Never lower it, never raise it. You’ll look like a dork, but you’ll get more kills than if you try to look cool.
  • Take cover first—When someone shoots at you unexpectedly, get out of the kill zone to someplace they can’t shoot you. Only then should you try to figure out how to pop out and shoot back.

I thought of one more piece of advice, but it was too late:

  • Handle corners by moving sideways before advancing—rather than walk right up to a corner or a doorway, stand back a bit and move sideways to give you a better view around the edge. If there’s a threat, it will be easier to duck back sideways than to back up suddenly.

So, was that good advice or bad advice? Anybody out there have better ideas?

Thinking About the Bailout

I know I still owe my readers a post on what can go wrong with the stimulus, but I found something interesting about the bailout. Kip Esquire posts the following context-free tweet:

If A owes B $2, and B owes C $2, and C owes A $2, and nobody has any money, then the required bailout is not $6, but $0. Just saying…

It’s an excellent point. As a nation, all of us being in debt to each other should not be a very big problem. However, thoughtful supporters of government intervention would argue that while the bailout need not be $6, a figure larger than $0 might still be helpful. To understand why, consider the plight of C.

C has an idea for a business venture that could earn him some income. However, the venture needs some startup cash, and C is broke. Worse, C owes A two dollars. Meanwhile, M still has a bit of cash. Normally, M would be willing to lend C the money, but M is worried about C’s creditworthiness in light of his inability to pay A. In theory, C has money coming from B, but in this troubled, debt-ridden economy, that income is not a sure thing: B might never pay. So M refuses to make the loan, C doesn’t start his new venture, and the economy stagnates because the credit market is stuck.

Until one day, G steps in to save the day with a bailout package. G will loan A one dollar. A uses the dollar to pay off half his debt to B, B then uses the dollar to repay C, and C uses it to pay A. Now A owes B $1, and B owes C $1, and C owes A $1. Maybe this reduction in debt is enough to get M to make the business loan that C is hoping for. If not, A still has the dollar, and they can pass it around again to drive debt down some more. Eventually, C gets his business loan, A repays the dollar to G, and the economy is back on track.

This happy tale has a few unhappy complications. First of all, G doesn’t actually have any money to lend. Instead, G either (a) sends men with guns to take the money from P, or (b) borrows the money from M, who is willing to lend G the money only because M knows that G can always repay the loan by sending men with guns to take the money from P.

Second, in addition to A’s debt to B, A also owes $2 to D, $2 to E, $1 to its executives for their lucrative bonus plan, and $3 to China. When it gets its dollar from G, it pays those other guys instead of B and the credit market is still stuck. G has to loan A several more dollars before A finally decides to pay B.

Third, B hates being broke so much that when B finally gets a dollar from A, B decides to hang onto it rather than paying C and being broke again. G will have to pour even more money into the system to get B feeling comfortable enough to pay C and break the credit crunch.

Or maybe everybody just goes bankrupt and G has to rob P to pay M.

For those of you who had trouble following this little explanation, A through E are various banks and businesses, G is the government, and M is the private money lending market. Oh, and we the people are P. We’re the ones who get robbed at the end.