Ten Second News

Ordinary World: Education( 44 )

EDU1: Thousands of students in Britain skipped class to partake in a protest about the lack of action on climate change.

EDU2: Do active shooter drills work? Writing for The Atlantic, Erica Christakis argues that they are counter-productive and misguided

EDU3: Writing for the New York Times, Lisa Damour raises the question: Why do girls outperform boys at school, but struggle to attain leadership positions in the workplace?

EDU4: Grade inflation is an increasing problem at American schools and universities. Writing for the Fordham Institute, Brandon Wright details how the issue harms vulnerable high schoolers.

EDU5: Should more emphasis be placed on arts education in schools? A new report from Brookings highlights some of the benefits of this form of education.

EDU6: Is homework valuable at a K-12 level? Stephen Sawchuk of Education Week suggests that the quality, not quantity of homework given is the more important question to ask.

EDU7: What’s the best way to keep school students safe? Recent studies suggest that increased police presence may not be the way to go.

EDU8: A recent survey report from FIRE highlights how the Charlottesville protests changed many students’ attitudes towards speech on campus.

EDU9: Can Big Science be too big? A new study finds that small teams of researchers do more innovative work than large teams do.

EDU10: A new replication study revives the question: Is taking notes by hand really better for students?

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Ordinary World 18Feb2018( 1 )

Ordinary World 18Feb2018

As always, all linked pieces are for discussion and consideration, not endorsement of the POV by Ordinary Times.

[OW1] How Congress and President Obama Made Trump’s Wall Possible by Josh Blackman: “This episode illustrates how Congress has long ago relinquished its lawmaking powers. The legislature enacts omnibus bills that few members actually read. Often, these super-duper-statutes contain nearly-limitless delegations of authority to the executive branch, with only the flimsiest guidelines of how and when that authority should be executed. Other times, Congress gives the president the exact authority he needs, with few strings attached. Such is the case with §284: Obama signed a bill into law that gave his successor the very precise power to “construct . . . fences . . . across international boundaries of the United States.” Moreover, a predecessor of this statute, known commonly as Section 1004, has been in effect since 1990. Critically, other longstanding provisions allow the president to shift appropriations around to fund that construction. Trump’s decision to rely on § 284 reflects, once again, an instance where he relies on express delegations of power to accomplish awful policies.”

[OW2] Tulsi Gabbard Is Not Anti-War: She’s a nationalist, hiding behind a mask of anti-interventionism by Caroline Orr by Caroline Orr: “She’s not opposed to war; she’s opposed to U.S. involvement in some wars — even if that means doing nothing to help civilians who are being slaughtered by war criminals. She has accepted huge sums of money from the defense industry, expressed support for increasing the use of drone strikes, and hinted that she would consider using torture if she thought it was necessary. And like Trump, she believes in putting “America first,” regardless of the global consequences. She isn’t “anti-war” — she’s a nationalist, hiding behind a mask of anti-interventionism.”

[OW3] A Wendell Berry Solution to Cory Booker’s Problem By Marlo Safi: “The issue that Booker raises, and that conservatives especially should consider, is that of the sustainability of our current rate of consumption, but we should extrapolate further. Our planet’s resources are finite. We are consuming without self-restraint, but also without a sense of responsibility or consequence. We treat God’s creation with a blasphemous amount of violence and disrespect — we also take from it beyond our needs, to an immodest extent that necessitates brutality and that unsurprisingly breeds the decadence of dumping milk because we can’t manage the glut. American farmers, who live on the land and off of it, who rely on it for their livelihoods and thus treat it with care through traditional agrarian practices, are being pushed out because of government handouts to agribusiness companies. The rural communities that conservatives claim to represent are being destroyed, and it’s becoming difficult to attract the next generation of farmers when little incentive remains, and when there’s a cultural prejudice against hard manual labor and rural-town Americans.”

[OW4] Passive Resistance: Is the movement to stop Donald Trump just an exercise in branding? by Mychal Denzel Smith: “The Resistance, if it is a movement, cannot be too preoccupied with the Democratic Party as an arm of its organization. Institutions as old as the party are primarily concerned with survival. The extent to which the Democrats can be pushed in any given direction will be determined by whether or not they fear a mass exodus from their ranks. With no viable alternative party available to liberal and left-leaning voters, there is no reason to believe such an egress will happen. The Resistance will have to ask something more of the people who have taken it up. There is a politics beyond that which created Trump. There are labor strikes, sit-ins, boycotts, and, yes, smashed windows and Nazi punching. But if it is to persuade a meaningful number of people to consent to such tactics, much less adopt them, the Resistance has to show itself as a true movement, one worthy of the name it carries and more meaningful to the people who are participating. It needs to find a definition and purpose beyond Trump.”

[OW5] Don’t Forget the Real Reason Shutdowns Happen: Congress can’t even follow their own rules by Sarah Rumpf: “But the most important question we should ask has nothing to do with the specifics of those moves listed above. It’s this: How did we get in this mess in the first place? In other words, why are we managing the federal budget with gigantic, last-minute bills? Why are we risking throwing a giant wrench in America’s economic engine again? Isn’t there a better way to manage the national budget? Of course there is. One better way is the system that Congress themselves established. The trouble is, they don’t follow their own rules — and we are failing to hold them accountable.”

[OW6] Ralph Northam to Jussie Smollett: How Black History Month 2019 Has Been a Total Disaster by Stereo Williams: “February is when so many Americans recognize the struggles and triumphs of Black folks; a month where we celebrate all that it means to be Black, and an amplified version of how we trumpet our heritage all year long. It’s been a mentally throttling BHM this year, however. Even though nothing diminishes our self-love, there have been so many affronts, scandals and head-scratchers this year that you almost forget that we’re supposed to be in a more celebratory mood: an incarcerated Bill Cosby likening himself to Martin Luther King, Jr., J. Lo’s headlining of what was allegedly a Grammy tribute to Motown, Candace Owens still being Candace Owens—it’s been a lot. Maybe we’ll have a better Juneteenth. Black History Month 2019. One for the ages.”

[OW7] UK: Labour split: Jeremy Corbyn is ‘disappointed’ by seven MPs quitting party to set up Independent Group: Breakaway politicians urge those from other parties to join new grouping by Samuel Osborne “The Labour leader made the comments after Luciana Berger, Chris Leslie, Angela Smith, Gavin Shuker, Mike Gapes, Ann Coffey and Chuka Umunna also criticised his handling of allegations of antisemitism. They announced they would sit in the House of Commons as independents under the banner of “The Independent Group”, in a move representing the most significant split in the party since the breakaway of the Social Democratic Party in the early 1980s. Announcing their move at a press conference at London’s County Hall, Mr Leslie, a former shadow chancellor, said Labour had been “hijacked by the machine politics of the hard left”, while Ms Berger said she had come to the “sickening” conclusion the party is now “institutionally antisemitic”. Mr Corbyn said: ”I am disappointed that these MPs have felt unable to continue to work together for the Labour policies that inspired millions at the last election and saw us increase our vote by the largest share since 1945.”

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Ordinary Sunday Brunch( 0 )

Ordinary Sunday Brunch

Music Links

[Mu1] The Accusations Against Ryan Adams Are All Too Familiar: How far are the harassment and career-derailment allegations against the rocker from, say, the A Star Is Born story?

[Mu2] How Pop Music Embraced Death and Lost Its Sex Appeal .

[Mu3] Elvis Presley’s Comeback Special at 50: Inside the All-Star Revival.

[Mu4] Jazz, once thriving in Omaha, is now the least popular genre in the U.S.

[Mu5] 7 stunning classical duets that are guaranteed to lift your spirits.

[Mu6] Today in Hip Hop history 26 years ago, February 16, 1993, the legendary pop culture icon Tupac Shakur released his second studio LP.

History Links

[Hi1] “For Adams, Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War contained within it insight of every possible “usefull” sort: “You will find it full of Instruction to the Orator, the Statesman, the General, as well as to the Historian and the Philosopher.”

[Hi2] The history of British slave ownership has been buried: now its scale can be revealed.

[Hi3] Buffalo Soldier, 98, Doesn’t Want Black Regiment’s History to ‘Fade Out’.

[Hi4] The Dare Stone – Hoax or History of the Lost Roanoke Colony?

Art Links

[Ar1] Why some Georgia O’Keeffe paintings have ‘art acne’: A new imaging technique could help art curators track destructive bumps over time.

[Ar2] The Art of Repairing Broken Ceramics Creates a New Kind of Beauty.

[Ar3] Placing Art in Hotel Rooms Can Yield Genuinely Surprising Results.

[Ar4] How Nuns Have Shaped the Course of Art History.

Food Links

[Fo1] When India Kicked Out Coca-Cola, Local Sodas Thrived.

[Fo2] The Table: Women Changing Culinary Culture, One Dinner At A Time:

[Fo3] Though “soul food” is a phrase deeply entrenched in our vocabulary, the term only became common in the 1960s and around the civil rights movement.

[Fo4] Can You Get Over a Food Intolerance?

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Linky Friday: Adventures in Amazon( 117 )

[LF1] Amazon had New York City in the bag. Then left-wing activists got fired up.

[LF2] Andrew Cuomo: A small group of politicians who shall remain nameless blew this Amazon deal for us

[LF3] Amazon Will Pay a Whopping $0 in Federal Taxes on $11.2 Billion Profits

[LF4] Jeff Bezos gave away more money than Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg combined in 2018

[LF5] Why It’s Hard to Escape Amazon’s Long Reach

[LF6] Anti-Amazon politicians heckled by business owners at Queens victory rally

[LF7] Dirty Dealings in the $175B Amazon marketplace

[LF8] Amazon and Google. ask for non-stop data from smart home devices

[LF9] ‘Productive Meeting’ Between Amazon and Unions, Then a Shock

[LF10] Amazon’s Aggressive Anti-Union Tactics Revealed in Leaked 45-Minute Video

[LF11] Amazon Is Dividing (and Conquering?) New York City’s Unions

[LF12] Report: Amazon ramps up ocean shipping services

[LF13] UK: Amazon set to build second logistics centre in North East, creating thousands of jobs

[LF14] Analysts: Amazon buying FedEx makes sense if it’s serious about delivery

[LF15] Amazon Officially Calls Out Carriers as Competitors

[LF16] How Amazon and Eero could bring enterprise-grade threat management to the masses

[LF17] Amazon Buying Eero Could Create Tech’s Most Dangerous Data Company

[LF18] Jeff Bezos used to hate spending money on ads, but told employees in November he ‘changed his mind’

[LF19] How Amazon makes money

[LF20]Playing catch up: Amazon has a big advertising business. Walmart wants one too

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Wednesday Writs for 2/13( 3 )

Wednesday Writs for 2/13[L1]: In 1946, North Carolina farmer Thomas Causby sued the United States government over his suicidal chickens. It seems Mr. Causby’s fowl had a habit of running frantically headlong into the side of the barn, killing themselves, and the cause was US military planes flying in to land at the nearby municipal airport. The planes passed over the farm so low- a mere 67 feet above the top of his house- that the landing lights would light up the property at night and the winds from the aircraft could blow leaves off of the trees. The noise and lights caused the chickens to panic, fly into walls and kill themselves, and eventually led to the end of the farmer’s commercial chicken production. Mr. Causby filed suit for damages to his business and property in the now-defunct US Court of Claims, claiming that he owned the airspace above his property and that the airplanes had been trespassing and caused his losses. The Court of Claims ruled that the government had essentially taken an easement over Causby’s property, and awarded the farmer $2000 for damages.

The government appealed, in the matter of United States v. Causby, our Case of the Week.  In analyzing the issue the Court first recognized the common law principle of cujus est solum ejus est usque and coelum– that ownership of land extends to the edge of the universe. This argument was summarily dismissed as being untenable in light of modern air travel, because it would give rise to thousands of trespass claims every day. The government maintained that it owned all airspace, from the sky to the ground. But the Court, in a 5-2 opinion written by Justice Douglas (with one justice not participating and another having recently died) agreed with Causby that the intrusion and interference with the use of his property constituted an unlawful taking under the 5th amendment, such that he should be compensated for the loss of value. But the Court found that the record was devoid of specific details of the easement the flight path had created, and sent the case back to the Court of Claims for a more definitive description and a recalculation of damages.

This case is still important after 70-plus years, as courts grapple with the use of drones, both public and private, are likely to occupy the space between that which could reasonably be the dominion of aircraft and the dominion of the landowner.

[L2]:A family in Texas becomes one of the first to utilize David’s Law, filing a lawsuit over the bullying of their son after he was voted “Most Likely to Shoot Up the School.”

[L3]: Baltimore becomes one of four cities to decriminalize pot possession, even though their respective states have not.

[L4]: SCOTUS continues its recent trend of rulings which favor abortion rights, if only temporarily, by staying the  implementation of a Louisiana law that would tighten restrictions on abortion providers. Roberts joined the liberals in the 5-4 vote.

[L5]: The Google WAZE app alerts users to speed traps and DUI checkpoints- and the NYPD is not pleased. The Departement sent Google a cease and desist letter, threatening legal action if the service was not removed.

[L6]: Jason Van Dyke, the Chicago PD officer convicted of second degree murder in the shooting death of Laquan MacDonald, was recently sentenced to only seven years. The prosecutor, along with the Illinois attorney general, filed a petition on Monday challenging the lenient sentence, on the grounds that the judge failed to impose any sentence for other crimes for which Van Dyke was convicted.

[L7]: Teachers in Denver walked out of the classroom this week in a strike over wages. It is one in a recent string of teacher strikes across the country, beginning with a two week walk out in West Virginia last winter and one in Los Angeles last month.

[L8]: A lawyer in Oklahoma shut down a court house when he showed up for court quite literally crawling with bed bugs. The critters were reportedly falling out of his clothing.

[L9]: Crazy law of the week: Hawaii is considering raising the minimum age to purchase cigarettes from 21 to 30- then 40, then 50, then 60, and age 100 by 2024.

[L10]: ICYMI last week, this man’s hilarious and blatant attempt at insurance fraud earns him our dumb criminal of the week award. Behold:

Caught on Camera: Man’s ‘Fake' Workplace Slip and Fall

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Tech Tuesday 12/12/19 – Make It Rain Edition( 3 )

[TT1]The RAF is retiring the venerable multi-role Tornado strike aircraft.  The RAF Typhoon, and the F-35 (when they are ready) will be replacing the old workhorse.  It was a tough old swing-wing plane, similar in many ways to the F-14 Tomcat, and first flown shortly after I was born in 1974, and produced from 1979-1998.  The Tornado is still (TTBOMK) in service in Germany and Italy.

[TT2]Boeing is teaming up with Aerion to try and bring a supersonic business jet to market.  Supersonic business jets actually make sense.  Things like the Concorde were just too bloody expensive to keep the seats filled, but business jets, that’s a market that could work.

[TT3] Aircraft wake seeds clouds.  Yes, the aerodynamic effects of a transonic wing passing through the moisture laden air above a cloud can significantly increase the precipitation.  I imagine after this, NOAA and the FAA will be coordinating air traffic over drought zones.

[TT4] China has a consent problem.  Shocking, I know.

[TT5] Gypsum sourced from power plant flue scrubbers is actually a superior agricultural product that gypsum that is mined from the earth.

[TT6] Cubesats get new thruster technology that won’t wear out.

[TT7] A novel sugar molecule could unseat Round-Up.

[TT8] Self-healing polymers are neat.  Self healing polymers I can print are even neater.  But I’m not sure how much value that adds to tires, unless we are talking about airless wheels.

[TT9] Earth maybe 4.5 billion years old, but that crunchy iron nougat center didn’t form until 500 million years ago.

[TT10] The problem of medical protein production comes home to roost.  (Sorry, best pun I could come up with today, feel free to offer up your own in the comments).

[TT11] Are we looking at the first steps towards having a device that can give the non-communicative a way to talk?  Like put this on a coma patient and see if anyone is home?

[TT12] This is a really neat way to utilize an old quarry.

[TT13] Wouldn’t it be neat if our handheld devices could just charge up from all the stray RF energy we are continuously surrounded by?  About that

[TT14] Once again, engineers look to nature for ways to improve our technology.

[TT15] Welding plastics and metals together.  Seems simple enough, although the metal does require a laser etching surface prep at the point of contact.  But laser etching metal surfaces is straightforward and common these days.  I wonder how strong such a bond is?  Is this a structural bond, or just something that is useful for applying a protective facade?

[TT16] Graphene powder + water = electrically conductive Play-Doh.

[TT17] Not really a Tech Tuesday item, but one I want to link to, and don’t have enough time to do justice for.  Luckily, ProPublica doesn’t need my help to talk about how bad the US Navy has messed up its sailors.  This kind of command failure, of both the military and the civilian leadership (ultimately, the demand to do more with less funding falls on our elected officials) is one of those things that constantly stresses the rank and file.

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Ordinary World: Monday 11Feb19( 99 )

Ordinary World: Monday 11Feb19

[OW1] Don’t Let ?µ©%ing Measles Make a Comeback: Pass Legislation to Save The Public Health. Again. by David Koff: “The reality of the world in which we live is that some folks are just stupid: they deny that The Holocaust was real, they deny that we landed men on the Moon, they boldly believe that the Earth is flat and, as you’ve learned, they believe that vaccines are dangerous. Let them be stupid, Senator. Our job-yours and mine-is to craft legislation despite their shocking and dangerous stupidity. Therefore, When you announce that you’re once again sponsoring a bill to protect The Public’s health, you’ll no doubt be confronted with anger, misinformation, and outright lies. Expect that, plan a strategy for it and have a crack team of folks standing by to help you educate The Public and your fellow legislators. I’ll be on that team if you ask.”

[OW2] Beneath Brexit, The British Conservatives Are Changing by Josh Adams: “The next leader of the British Conservative Party will most likely be far removed from Trump’s brand of right-wing politics, which is noticeably less keen on free trade and far more socially conservative. What is not clear is whether or not this slavish devotion to Trumpism from congressional Republicans is an electoral convenience or a sign of a sincere (and permanent) change to the party’s philosophy. What is noticeable is that British conservatives are spending far less time talking up American conservatism as a model to emulate. Trumpism simply doesn’t sell across the pond. This generational change in the philosophy of the Conservative Party has gone largely unnoticed, and understandably so. Britain’s departure from the EU has gobbled up the political bandwidth and left little space for tracking other developments. On the opposite benches, Labour’s leadership transformation in recent years from a mainstream social democratic politics into a Maduro-sympathizing, anti-Semitic radical socialist one has been far more profound and dramatic (and if you’re into a little schadenfreude: entertaining, too).”

[OW3] You’re Living in the America John Dingell Made By Zach Stanton: “Modern America is as much a creation of John Dingell’s life work as anyone’s. If you or a parent or grandparent have relied on Medicare or Medicaid; if you’ve seethed about the lack of gun control; if you’ve cheered that segregation of public places is illegal and employment discrimination is banned; if you’re thankful for the continued existence of the U.S. auto industry; if you’ve raged about gas-guzzling cars contributing to climate change; if your health insurance is purchased on the Obamacare exchanges; if you’ve swum in lakes or rivers or oceans free from toxic pollution; if you’ve drunk a glass of or bathed your children in tap water with confidence that it’s free from contamination; then John Dingell played a role in your life.”

[OW4] Why It Doesn’t Matter if Ralph Northam Wasn’t in That Racist Photo By Lili Loofbourow: “That’s what this “let’s-insult-women-and-minorities” bravado is about, and its function isn’t rebellious. It simply confirms the quiet codes of power and dominance. It’s agreeing not be the killjoy in the group. It signals a willingness to play along with power, celebrate its excesses, affirm its essential privacy. And it’s disquieting—and should be disqualifying—to see that in a governor. It’s popular, these days, to insist that the rules have changed. That suddenly people are being held to standards that didn’t exist before, and that this is all rather unfair. Baloney. The reason that photo appeared in Northam’s yearbook in the first place is because it was violating a social standard, one that was apparently too flimsy to fully take hold in America. If you want to look edgy, blackface seemed like a pretty safe bet, and Northam took it, expecting it to cost him nothing. No one had the power to exact payment at Eastern Virginia Medical School in 1984, and Ralph Northam knew that. But nothing is free forever.”

[OW5] Omar ignites new anti-Semitism controversy with comments on AIPAC By John Bresnahan: “On Sunday night, Omar was responding to a tweet from prominent journalist Glenn Greenwald, who said, “Equating [Omar and Tlaib’s] criticism of Israel to Steve King’s long defense of white supremacy is obscene (McCarthy said it’s worse). In the US, we’re allowed to criticize our own government: certainly foreign governments. The GOP House Leader’s priorities are warped.” In response to Greewald’s post, Omar tweeted, “It’s all about the Benjamins baby,” followed by a music emoji, which suggested that money was calling the tune for McCarthy. When asked to explain where the money she was referring to came from, Omar tweeted: “AIPAC.” An Omar spokesman said the tweets “speak for themselves.” Democratic leadership offices didn’t respond Sunday evening to requests for comment on Omar’s statements. McCarthy and other Republicans have pressed Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and top Democrats to “take action” against Omar and Tlaib, saying he would do so if the GOP were the majority party.”

[OW6] The Trouble With Candace Owens by Cathy Young: “What exactly is that message and what are those values, other than boilerplate rhetoric about personal responsibility? A Trump personality cult? Locking up journalists who report the news in a way the President dislikes? A conservative version of tribalism and victimhood? (Owens has told her followers that conservatives shouldn’t “become skeptics” when they hear negative things about “one of our own.”) Mocking concerns about the resurgence of white supremacism, as she did in a video shortly after the white nationalist march in Charlottesville in which one of the participants ran down and killed a protester? Conspiracy theories such as speculation that white nationalist Richard Spencer is a Democratic plant? If you’re getting the sense that Owens is not a serious person, well…”

[OW7] If Trump Declares An Emergency To Build The Wall, Congress Can Block Him by Tamara Keith: “But that could change if President Trump follows through on his threat. A Democratic leadership aide tells NPR the House will “vigorously challenge any declaration that seeks an end run around Congress’s power of the purse.” That would likely include a resolution like the one Miller introduced back in 2005. If the Democrat-controlled House were to pass it, the Republican-controlled Senate would have no choice but to vote on it under the law. Several Republican senators have been cautioning the president not to put them in that position. “I have real concerns about it, but I’m not gonna start talking about the floor strategy and how I’m going to vote and how the House is going to vote until we get there and I hope we don’t get there,” said Senator Roy Blunt, R-Mo. But if they do get there and a resolution were to pass, President Trump could still veto it. It’s unlikely either chamber would have the two-thirds majority needed to reverse a veto.”

[OW8] Beyond the slogan, ‘Medicare for all’ vexes Democratic presidential candidates by Melanie Mason: “The role of insurance companies is an unavoidable flashpoint. While the Kaiser Family Foundation found nearly 60% of the public said they support a Medicare for all plan, that approval plummets to 37% if it would eliminate private insurers. Many are confused by how such a proposal would affect them. More than half of the respondents believed they could keep their employer-sponsored plan under Medicare for all, which is not the case under Sanders’ bill. Even the vocabulary surrounding the issue can be baffling. Universal coverage, for example, is not the same thing as single-payer. The former is a goal for everyone to have some form of health insurance; the latter is a specific type of system where one entity — usually the government — pays for everyone’s medical care. “Universal coverage is definitely something that gets a positive reaction from people, as does the general concept of the federal government doing more to provide health insurance for people,” Hamel said. “People agree on the goals and don’t agree on the ways to get there.” Single-payer advocates have seized on Medicare as an easily recognizable symbol of government healthcare, albeit one with significant reliance on private insurers. “The branding of ‘Medicare for all’ is so important because the vast majority of Americans know Medicare, they like it, they have family members that are on it,” said Topher Spiro, a health policy expert at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank.”

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Ordinary World: Virginia, Oh Virginia( 13 )

New controversies are swirling in the Old Dominion as the chaos in Richmond continues into a second week. Here is the latest in the ever-changing landscape of Virginia government scandal:

[VA1] Va. Democrats Call For Fairfax’s Resignation After 2nd Accuser Comes Forward

[VA2] Delegate threatens impeachment after second Fairfax accuser comes forward.

[VA3] Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam Plans To Survive By Changing His Agenda To Focus On Race: The governor — reading “Roots” and “The Case for Reparations” — has brought on a new team to help, and is committed to pursuing a bold policy agenda to help make amends.

[VA4] Virginia Senate majority leader distances himself from racist content in yearbook he edited

[VA5] Kurtis Blow Condemns Virginia AG for Once Using Blackface to Imitate Him

[VA6] Opinion: Why Ralph Northam Should Not Resign

[VA7] Opinion: Ralph Northam must resign

[VA8] 2020 Democrats add to calls for Justin Fairfax to resign

[VA9] Virginia’s Racist History Clashes With New South Image

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Linky Friday: Planes, Trains, & Automobiles( 20 )

Linky Friday: Planes, Trains, & Automobiles

[LF1] How a new satellite constellation could allow us to track planes all over the globe

[LF2] ‘Green New Deal’ To Seek Transport Overhaul

[LF3] How important is Ford’s Super Duty Truck line? ““Our North American truck and van business together — just our commercial business — it would be a Fortune 40 company,” Kumar Galhotra, president of Ford’s North American operations, told reporters at a briefing in Detroit last week. “It would be bigger than Procter & Gamble. That’s how important this segment is for us.”

[LF4] Why There Are No Nuclear Airplanes: Strategists considered sacrificing older pilots to patrol the skies in flying reactors. An Object Lesson.

[LF5] Amazon Dives Into Self-Driving Cars With a Bet on Aurora

[LF6] Volvo Sells More Cars But Makes Less Profit

[LF7] Oil Trains Make Comeback as Pipeline Bottlenecks Worsen

[LF8] Motoring, marketing, and the story of the Michelin Man

[LF9] Look out, UPS and FedEx? Amazon filing cites ‘intense competition’ in transportation and logistics

[LF10] Black Boxes Might Soon Send Real-Time Data After Plane Crashes

[LF11] Uber just added public transportation to its app: Starting with Denver, Uber aims to become a one-stop shop for all modes of transportation

[LF12] Electric Scooters Are Popping Up in Cities Across the Country. But Are They Safe?

[LF13] Aging county shifts demand toward public transportation

[LF14] World-renowned subway signal guru hired to speed up NYC’s trains

[LF15] Transportation Biosecurity: Control What You Can

[LF16] How Will Motorcyclists Safely Ride Among Autonomous Automobiles? BMW is using a “riderless” R1200GS to assure motorcycling’s future

[LF17] How Do We Reclaim Our Communities From Private Automobiles?

[LF18] Nauseating L Train Mystery Smell Enters Day 4: ‘We Get Drunk With The Fumes!’

[LF19] Holocaust survivors receive reparations for deportations on French trains

[LF20] The US proposed to pay Denmark $100 million to buy Greenlandafter flirting with the idea of swapping oil-rich land in Alaska for strategic parts of the bleak Arctic island, documents in the National Archives show.

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Wednesday Writs for 2/6( 18 )

[L1]: In Scottsboro, Alabama in 1931, 9 young black men and boys (the youngest being 12 and the oldest 19) were removed by an angry mob from a train car, accused of assaulting a group of white boys while illegally “riding the rails”. The black boys were Haywood Patterson, Clarence Norris, Charlie Weems, Andy Wright, Roy Wright, Olin Montgomery, Ozie Powell, Willie Roberson, and Eugene Williams. The authorities also found two young white women, Victoria Price and Ruby Bates, who were willing to accuse the boys of raping them (Bates later recanted). The arrests occurred on March 25; by March 31 all 9 had been indicted, and the trials began a week later. None of the boys were permitted to meet with an attorney prior to the trials; in fact, none of the boys had any representation until the morning of trial. Instead of appointing each boy his own attorney, the judge appointed “the bar” generally, with a real estate lawyer out of Chattanooga assisting in an “amicus curiae” capacity. Finally, one lawyer, who had not defended a criminal case for most of his career, volunteered to help.

Eight of the 9 boys were convicted in three separate trials, and all 8 of them were sentenced to death. Only the youngest was spared when the judge declared a mistrial.  Following the convictions, there began a national campaign and legal battle to exonerate and save the condemned, who had become known as the Scottsboro Boys. The boys’ plight made it to the Alabama Supreme court and then to the Supreme Court of the United States in Powell v. Alabama, our case of the week.

Wednesday Writs for 2/6

Flyer by the ILD in support of the boys.

Following the swift convictions of the 8 boys in the Alabama state court, their cause was taken up by an unlikely group: the Communist Party USA, whose legal arm, the International Labor Defense (ILD), was soon joined hesitantly by the NAACP. The execution dates were set for July of 1931, but the group was granted a stay as attorneys George Chamlee and Joseph Brodsky appealed the boys’ cases to the Alabama State Supreme Court.  The defense argued to the state high court that the boys did not receive a fair trial because they had been denied adequate assistance of counsel and time to prepare a defense, that their jury was intimidated by outsiders, and that the exclusion of blacks from the jury was unconstitutional. The state Supreme Court found no violation of due process as to any of the defendants. 7 of 8 verdicts were affirmed; the youngest boy was granted a new trial due to his age, deemed too young to face the electric chair. One of the court’s justices, John C. Anderson, dissented, decrying the haste with which the case was brought to trial.

The case then went before the US Supreme Court in October of 1932. The opinion, written by Justice George Sutherland, contained this excerpt from the trial transcripts, concerning the appointment of counsel:

“The Court: Well gentlemen, if Mr. Roddy only appears as assistant that way, I think it is proper that I appoint members of this bar to represent them, I expect that is right. If Mr. Roddy will appear, I wouldn’t of course, I would not appoint anybody. I don’t see, Mr. Roddy, how I can make a qualified appointment or a limited appointment. Of course, I don’t mean to cut off your assistance in any way — Well gentlemen, I think you understand it. ”

“Mr. Moody: I am willing to go ahead and help Mr. Roddy in anything I can do about it, under the circumstances.”

“The Court: All right, all the lawyers that will; of course, I would not require a lawyer to appear if –”

“Mr. Moody: I am willing to do that for him as a member of the bar; I will go ahead and help do anything I can do.”

“The Court: All right.”

Said the Court of this exchange: “And in this casual fashion, the matter of counsel in a capital case was disposed of.” The Court went on to rule in a 7-2 decision that the boys had been denied their right to counsel, and held that “[T]he right of the accused, at least in a capital case, to have the aid of counsel for his defense, which includes the right to have sufficient time to advise with counsel and to prepare a defense, is one of the fundamental rights guaranteed by the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.”

The high court victory was not the end; the cases were sent back for retrial, resulted in convictions again, and came back before the high Court once more. There was no happy ending for the Scottsboro Boys; though none received the death penalty, they nevertheless spent years in prison. There are many more details and twists to this case than I can fit here in the Writs, and I highly encourage you to read more about the case. Detailed information about each of the boys and what happened to them can be found here.

[L2]: In further recognition of Black History Month, read about seven African Americans who have had an important influence on the law.

[L3]: After a trial that lasted 2 and a half months and involved 56 hours, the fate of Joaquin Guzman Lorea is in the hands of the jury. You may know him better as “El Chapo”.

[L4]: A panty-stealing lawyer has been indefinitely suspended from the practice of law. Oh, and he’s a former prosecutor, too.

[L5]: Anytime a restaurant puts up a sign informing customers that their children are not welcome, the resultant social media commentary is split between angry parents and those who want to eat in peace. But, are these “bans” legal? What if they’re really loud kids?

[L6]: The 9th Circuit ruled in favor of the American Beverage Association in ruling the San Francisco ordinance requiring health warning labels on sugary drink ads a First Amendment violation. The Court based its ruling on the the law’s requirement that the warning take up 20% of the ad space.

[L7]: The Arkansas Supreme Court blocked a Fayetteville city council ordinance prohibiting discrimination against LGBTQs, reversing a lower court which had denied an injunction, based on an Arkansas law prohibiting individual counties and municipalities from enacting their own anti-discrimination laws.

[L8]: Florida court rules that unregulated sales of bitcoin may be prosecuted, finding that one such defendant was in violation of state law by not being a registered “money services business”.

[L9]: Turns out Ben and Jerry’s, the hippy ice cream, may not be the environmentally conscious product it seems to want us to believe it is, according to a lawsuit over false advertising.

[L10]: A partial power outage left inmates at a Brooklyn jail without heat or electricity during last weeks frigid, single digit temperatures, and the lawsuits have begun.

[L11]: 21 Savage, a rapper who purports to have grown up on the tough streets of Atlanta, was arrested this week- by ICE agents. Turns out, he’s from the UK. He came to the states as a teen and overstayed his VISA. In homage, I present to you his opus,  “Break Da Law” (warning: bad words.)

21 Savage – Break Da Law (Official Audio)

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Ordinary World 4 Feb 2019( 1 )

[OW1] What We’ll Remember About Belichick and Brady’s Boring Super Bowl Win By Kevin Clark: “The Patriots beat the Los Angeles Rams 13-3 on Sunday in Atlanta to win their sixth Super Bowl in 18 years. The game served the same general function as the Star Wars prequels: It was not good, but it explained a lot. In the decades to come, no one will care that one of the Patriots’ Super Bowl appearances during this run was hopelessly boring. My educated guess is that we’ll eventually salvage this game as a football hipsters’ paradise: two defensive coaches in Bill Belichick and Wade Phillips using unpredictable schemes to absolutely wreck the opposing team’s offense in an era when that seemed impossible. In that regard, it will probably be studied for decades to come. In every other regard, it should never be shown on television again.”

[OW2] Will Anyone Save Black Colleges? By Adam Harris: “Black colleges—which were founded, primarily after the Civil War, to educate black people who were shut out of most higher education—have been underfunded for decades. That they are now overlooked for big donations in favor of wealthier schools seems like insult on top of injury. Of course, financial woes like those Bennett is dealing with aren’t limited to black colleges. Small liberal-arts institutions are struggling, too—and those troubles have led some schools to close or merge with other colleges in the past several years. According to Alvin Schexnider, a former chancellor of Winston-Salem State University who now operates a higher-education management-consulting firm, any institution that has a high tuition-discount rate, is located in a rural area, has fewer than 1,000 students, or has a small endowment will likely face existence-threatening struggles in the coming years.”

[OW3] Every Democrat Wants Ralph Northam Gone—Except Ralph Northam by Scott Nover: “Only one Democratic voice on the news programs offered a defense of Northam. Former Representative Jim Moran of Virginia told This Week’s George Stephanopoulos that Northam should not resign. “I hate to be on the other side of virtually all of my friends on this, but I do disagree with their judgment, because I think it is a rush to judgment,” Moran said. “Even if the worst case scenario is true … I think there is an issue of redemption.”Northam appears to be counting on Americans to see things Moran’s way—to believe that he at least deserves more time to explain himself. But for most of the governor’s peers in American politics, his time has already run out.”

[OW4] Bernie Sanders’ Internationalism – and His Tulsi Gabbard Problem by Charles Davis: “It is all, in a word, obscene, and incongruous with Bernie’s own self-stated internationalism. He is no savior either, with blind spots of his own on race and the war on terror, faults of which all should be aware. Still, he is a fundamentally decent human being?—?not an apologist for genocide. Yet there remains a question of judgment, raised when he endorses, in speech and with fellowships, those who are. The contrast is jarring: While he met with members of the White Helmets, volunteers who dig out the victims of U.S., Russian, and Syrian airstrikes. Gabbard has met and openly defended their killers, repeatedly expressing a desire for more of the airstrikes that kill them and other civilians. For this, she is rewarded with a featured speaking gig at Sanders Institute events and a glowing endorsement from Bernie’s 501(c)(4), one of the most conservative Democrats?—?someone who as a state lawmaker opposed civil unions and “homosexual extremist[s]”?—?rebranded as a bold liberal, an arrangement that’s already driving away the genuinely progressive from the Bernie machine.”

[OW5] Inside an Effort to Document Every Single Language on Earth by Evan Nicole Brown: “In 2014, three friends from Brooklyn founded a nonprofit they call Wikitongues. The idea was to create an open-access platform with the ambitious goal of documenting, in some way, every language in the world. In the last five years, the team has collected more than 435 of them via video submissions of native speakers. Though this digital oral history project has received significant support since its inception (as any free-use language resource should), Atlas Obscura decided to ask Daniel Bogre Udell, one of the founders (along with Frederico Andrade and Lindie Botes), a few questions about his relationship to the languages he’s been documenting. While some of Udell’s motivations are personal, it’s impossible to embark on an archival project of this scale without a real investment in people all over the world, and bringing attention to the future of at-risk tongues.”

[OW6] Why We Are Quitting RedState by Kimberly Ross and Andrea Ruth: “The message was clear: Tread lightly when it comes to criticizing Trump. Before that purge, RedState had a healthy mix of stories that were critical of Trump and supportive of him. Afterward, despite holding on to some Trump critics, the tenor of the site shifted. The leftover Trump critics wrote fewer entries and the hostility toward those who still did was palpable. We learned personally that writers who dare to examine President Trump or the MAGA mentality are purposely suppressed in private or even publicly criticized. In one case, one of us (Kimberly) wrote a piece that was critical of Trump supporters’ attempts to dismiss bomb threats as a liberal hoax. It was published but any references to it on Twitter or Facebook were deleted and done so repeatedly without explanation. Only after speaking up did she learn the piece wouldn’t get shared on social media, and instructions came down from Salem management to stop discussing the incident with colleagues.”

[OW7] ‘Mission success’: Navy’s first woman fighter pilot honored in Tennessee with historic all-female flyover by Ryan Wilusz: “As four of the most sophisticated Navy aircraft rumbled through the valley in Maynardville on Saturday above the grave of Capt. Rosemary Mariner, her husband, Tommy, looked to the sky — and the heavens — with one thought in his mind: “Mission success.” But it wasn’t an easy mission for Rosemary. It was one that required unwillingly shining her shoes and following protocol in order to get into flight school. After becoming the Navy’s first female fighter pilot, the mission involved challenging and breaking down barriers so other women could follow their dreams, too. Rosemary was laid to rest Saturday at age 65 surrounded by family, friends and just a handful of the military women she opened doors for — while yet more women flew high above them as the Navy held its first all-female flyover in her honor.”

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Ordinary World: Throwback Thursday( 2 )

[TT1] Idle Speculation on the Future of Media by Vikram Bath (January 21, 2016):

“LB: So why hasn’t anyone done this for news yet?

VB: Someone should! 2016 might be the right time to try it. Someone could become the Netflix or Spotify of news. But they will face a lot of challenges. While CNN might be happy, their ad networks will not. These include powerful corporations like Google and Facebook. Another issue is that whoever tries this will basically be competing with ad-blocking software, which is inexpensive. I think this can be overcome. Spotify and Netflix compete with torrents, DVRs, and other ways to try to get content ad-free.

LB: Is there any other way things could end up for media companies?

VB: Yes, there are some promising experiments going on. One is Buzzfeed. Buzzfeed doesn’t interleave unwanted ads into the content they have. Instead, they try to make the ads themselves appealing.

While Buzzfeed has a reputation for some really terrible work, they actually have some of the most detailed reporting on some topics. When Michael LaCour’s Science article was retracted, the best reporting was found at Buzzfeed.

There are writers doing good work at Buzzfeed, and it’s funded in part on the backs of stuff copy-pasted from Reddit.”

[TT2] How Bolsonaro Happens: Seven points about the Brazilian Presidential Election: Andre Kenji de Sousa (October 26, 2018): “The episode brought him fame, which allowed him to be elected to the City Council of Rio de Janeiro in the following year, helped by the support of the lower ranks of the Military. He was then elected to Congress where he was basically a backbencher. He was not a high-profile member of any committees or commissions, and he did not manage to pass any bill. Bolsonaro only gained a national profile through his fights with feminist members of Congress. (Yes, including the infamous fight where he suggested that he would not rape a colleague because she was ugly.) Unlike Nigel Farage and Jean Marie Le Pen, Bolsonaro did not build a political organization. He was chosen by activists on the right, who were attracted by his rhetoric. That’s pretty similar to the Ron Paul Revolution in the US Republican Primaries in 2008 and 2012. Ron Paul did not create a political organization either; he was embraced by a diffuse network of activists that were pretty savvy on social media. Bolsonaro only chose the party in which he would run some months before the election. In some sense, he is an accidental politician. He is not like Hugo Chavez or Vladimir Putin, who carefully planned their rise to power. He is not so much an authoritarian as he is someone that would enable the authoritarianism of other people, especially because he does not have the political experience to control other people. Imagine Ron Paul being elected to the White House. Or imagine Dennis Kucinich, Justin Amash or your typical highly ideological backbencher that is not liked by most members of both parties being elected to the White House. You get the idea.

[TT3] Be a Dissenter for Science by Jason Kuznicki (April 29, 2014): “But there is also an anti-science left. Their numbers and influence are certainly much smaller, and the media does its best never to connect the dots. Still, they’re out there: They are the anti-GMO folks, who reject a scientific consensus every bit as strong as the one supporting anthropogenic global warming. They are the anti-vaxers, whose movement will hopefully fizzle now that we are seeing the awful effects of leaving kids unvaccinated. They are the groups opposing food irradiation, although irradiating to kill bacteria is both safe and effective. And then there’s the entire organic food movement, aptly likened to a kind of secular kashrut. Organic food has shown no demonstrated health benefits. Organic farming means destroying more natural habitat than we need to. And organic farming methods can’t possibly feed the whole world. Organics will necessarily remain exactly what they are right now: a luxury, one that gratifies our apparently inborn need for purity-and-danger taboos. They’re a game that lefties play with their instincts, and not at all a means of saving the planet. That said, I am not writing to suggest a simple equivalence between Team Red and Team Blue. I’m not saying that it’s irrelevant which side you choose, or that there are no meaningful differences between them. (I am not doing these things, and yet I know that — because politics is the mind killer — I will be accused of doing them anyway. So, whatever.) I’m not asking you to abandon your political beliefs wholesale, and still less am I asking you to adopt mine. I appear to have been born enjoying cognitive dissonance, and I don’t expect this to be a shared character fault, given how maladaptive it is. What I ask is much simpler: Whichever side you’re on, left or right, at least put science first. If you have to, be a dissenter for science. No matter what side you’re on.”

[TT4] Mocking the Polyamorous: an Exercise in Self-Defeating Advocacy by Burt Likko (July 23, 2015): “What reasonable reaction does Morse expect to this? Does anyone reasonably think that Sonmore would read this and then say “He’s right! I don’t want to be in an open marriage anymore!” Especially after reading through the body of an essay laced with disparagement of feminism, marbled with embracing the concept of spouses “owning” one another, and positively boiling with insults to Sonmore’s masculinity. Morse’s contempt for Sonmore oozes like sweat out of every paragraph. In my experience, insulting someone, or mocking someone, rarely makes the subject respond by saying, “You know, you’re right; I shall change my attitude and behaviors as you imply I ought.” No, the usual response to an insult is a defensive “Go [fish] yourself,” followed by digging in further into the position under attack. Assuming he reads Morse, Sonmore is going to double-down on his feminism, he’s going to double-down on the validity and value of his open marriage. Compounding the frustration here is that that a good case can be made that monogamy ought to be the norm, deviated from only cautiously and only by a few.”

[TT5] Too Efficient By Half by Will Truman (October 2, 2017): “This is a real problem for the unemployed and a collective action problem from hell. People lose their jobs, go to the back of the hiring line, stay unemployed, the gap on their resume grows, and so on and so forth. This is of a particular concern to me because I have been out of the job market for quite a while. If something happened to my wife, I would have yet another disadvantage when it came to finding work. Recruiters driving this makes quite a bit of sense. So does the fact that they make filling jobs more time-consuming, even apart from the long-term unemployment issue. It actually reminds me a bit of online dating. The dating marketplace is extremely inefficient. There are a lot of guys looking for girlfriends, a lot of girls looking for boyfriends. Sometimes you run into situations where standards are too high or people are too unattractive (physically or otherwise), but it sure seems like we could do a better job. Enter internet dating. And I’m just old enough to have sort of watched it happen. Suddenly you had dozens of people at your fingertips. You had profiles to look at, pictures. And what happened to me, and a lot of other people, is that standards suddenly shot upwards. You’d often end up skipping right past people that might catch your attention in an “attainable” sort of way because they would suddenly be next to someone who was something of a complete package. It’s the paradox of choice, except with people involved.”

[TT6] Weep the Revolution by Tod Kelly (July 26, 2016): “The simple truth is that by their very definition political “Revolutions” in democratic societies never really succeed. For good or ill, the will of the mainstream always prevails in the long run. Worse, those who run the Revolutions from above are well aware of this truth, even as they coax their faithful to believe otherwise. Revolutions in Democracies are built to lose. The only question going in is whether they lose quietly or spectacularly. Still, it’s a very important question. Because what a Revolution can do is influence the mainstream. A Revolution can take its great and bold ideas and push them deep into the mainstream’s consciousness. Revolutions can, if they are lucky, become mainstream. Thus does Jesse Jackson’s plea to include gays and lesbians in the great “quilt” of liberalism eventually become this “thing that I think we’ve always done.” This does William Buckley’s quiet, sly poking eventually become the seeds for Reagan’s Morning in America. Thus does Annie Arniel’s Quixotic political dream of suffrage lead not to just the 19th Amendment, but to a society where its repeal is all but unthinkable. Thus does Ross Perot, a funny little man most of America mocks, manage to transform the non-issue of the federal deficit into a campaign stump-speech staple. Which, to a Revolutionary spirit, can admittedly be a somewhat depressing thing. Part of the great pleasure of being counterculture, after all, is… well, being counter culture. A Che Guevara tee-shirt in a capitalist, consumer-driven society is a sexy uniform of the cool class. In a socialist-in-power society, however, it’s as lame as a shirt advertising the delicious, refreshing taste of Coca-Cola. Most of us who have taken part in a political Revolution, if we are being truly honest with ourselves, were inspired by the Revolution itself. A post-victory world? Not so much. Yeah, Bernie’s agenda being adopted into the party platform is nice and all, but that’s not really why we all came to the party. I know this, because I have been there.”

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Wednesday Writs for 1/30( 22 )

Wednesday Writs for 1/30

Wong Kim Ark

[L1]: There really is nothing new under the sun. Nearly every societal debate can be found in some iteration in the annals of history. In today’s Case of the Week, we learn that one of today’s hot topic political issues has been controversial since at least 1898: birthright citizenship. In 1873, a Chinese woman in San Francisco gave birth to a son, Wong Kim Ark. Though his parents returned to China in 1890, Wong remained in the country. In 1895, he took a trip to China to visit his parents. When he returned on a steamship later that same year, he was refused entry at the port and taken into custody by the “customs collector”. At that time, the Chinese Exclusion Act was in effect, which placed a moratorium on the immigration of Chinese laborers. It was under this Act that Wong Kim Ark was refused entry and detained.

When brought before a court, he was discharged from custody on the grounds that, having been born in America and never having renounced or otherwise forfeited his citizenship, he was a citizen under the 14th Amendment, rendering the Chinese Exclusion Act inapplicable. The United States appealed to the the Supreme Court, giving rise to United States v. Wong Kim Ark, in which the Court wrestled with the question of birthright citizenship.

Wong Kim Ark argued that he was a U.S. citizen based upon the first clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which reads as follows:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.

The government argued that the second part of that clause, “and subject to the jurisdiction thereof”, was in question because his parents were still Chinese citizens and “subjects of the Emperor” when he was born, and he was therefore subject to the emperor’s jurisdiction and not that of the United States. The Court, as it is wont to do, turned to the English common law to interpret the clause. Under English common law, all persons born within the King’s realm were subjects of the King, except for the children of  “foreign ambassadors” or the children of “alien enemies” born on English soil but during “a hostile occupation of the king’s dominions.” Substituting the jurisdiction of the U.S. government for that of the king, the Supreme Court in 1898 (pictured in this week’s featured image) ruled in favor of Wong Kim Ark and enshrined birthright citizenship, although anyone who has paid attention knows that this ruling is far from accepted; efforts to overturn the Wong Kim Ark decision via judicial or legislative means have persisted through the current day, though none successfully, yet.

[L2]: Some convicted criminal defendants in Tennessee are suing over the practice of allowing reduced sentences for men who agree to get vasectomies. While one would think the issue was with the practice itself, which has since been rescinded, these particular plaintiffs are angry they were not given the same option.

[L3]: Some New Orleans Saints season ticket holders are not taking their loss to the Los Angeles Rams sitting down: a lawsuit has been filed seeking to replay the end of the NFC Championship game in the wake of an unbelievably bad missed pass interference call.

[L4]: The Supreme Court denied cert last week to a football coach suing over being prohibited from praying on the field after games. Justice Alito agreed with the denial based on undeveloped facts at the lower court, but in a statement joined by Justices Thomas, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, expressed dismay over some of the 9th Circuit’s views on the matter.

[L5]: According to the 7th Circuit, the protection against disparate impact by age discrimination only applies to the employed, not to those seeking employment. There is a circuit split, so we may see this at SCOTUS sometime soon.

[L6]: After mistakenly placing a Stanford researcher on the no-fly list, the U.S. government adds insult to injury by “playing discovery games” in the resulting court case- much to the dismay of the 9th Circuit panel hearing the case.

[L7]: A feel good story too great not to share: from a neglected and homeless foster kid, to a single mother of five, to a law school graduate.

[L8]: Any parent of a pre-teen boy can tell you that Fortnite is evil, but some enterprising criminals are using the game’s “V bucks” currency system to launder ill-gotten cash.

[L9]: Many people have grown to detest the rentable scooters taking over in cities like DC and San Diego, but according to a lawsuit against Bird and Lime, the two biggest companies behind the scooters, errant scooters left on sidewalks present a real impediment to people with disabilities and limited mobility.

[L10]: Television ads for law firms are notoriously cheesy, but some lawyers have the video thing figured out. Here’s one of them in which an attorney breaks down the criminality of the Dark Knight:

Ed V. The Dark Knight | Brown & Crouppen

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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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