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Do We Need To Talk About Whether Franken's Resignation Was Too Hasty And Sets A Bad Precedent?

Posted by LizardBreath
on 12.09.17

I don't think it does. At least, any precedent there is will be weaponized by Republicans and will work in their favor, but that's because they're shameless liars with the media on their side -- it doesn't matter what the specific precedent is.

Break down the Franken situation a little: there are two questions -- is what he's accused of bad enough to resign over, and did he actually do it? On the first question, I'm comfortable saying that yes it is. It's not murder, it's in the range where I'd be cynical about supporting his staying on if we were going to lose a Senate seat, but he was repeatedly sexually abusing people. I don't want to be a member of a party where it's an accepted fact that the price I and other women have to pay for having a 'good' Senator is to be an available body to be mauled if that's what he wants.

On the second issue: the 'believe women' shibboleth obviously makes things tricky. Ratfucking and dirty tricks are possible, and I'm sure they're going to happen sometimes. But Franken wasn't denying what he did in any way that could be taken seriously -- the strongest statement he made was from his resignation speech:

I also think it gave some people the false impression that I was admitting to doing things that in fact I haven't done. Some of the allegations against me are simply not true. Others I remember very differently.


Someone who's getting ratfucked has a responsibility to say "This specific thing did not happen. I do not grope women at photo ops. If there are eight women who say I did, someone, please, investigate and they will find evidence that it is a coordinated conspiracy like what James O'Keefe did to ACORN." There's going to be a moment, I'm sure, when a response like that is necessary, and at that point we need to accept the necessity of investigation and weigh the credibility of the stories, because politically motivated lying is possible. Franken, though, was clearly not willing to put himself in that category -- the only way I can read 'I remember very differently' is 'Come on, is a little ass-grabbing really that bad? Sure, now they say they mind it, but they were fine with it at the time.'

Roy Moore is going all out with the claim that he's being ratfucked and none of the stories about him are true. At which point he gets an investigative process which will reveal that he's a filthy liar. But Franken hasn't been deprived of anything.


 

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The State Folk Dance Conspiracy

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 12.08.17

An interesting thing that I bet we have never discussed here before!

via Jammies


 

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Friday WTFuckery

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 12.08.17

I didn't realize quite how many resources the House was sinking into investigating the Uranium One deal.

At this point ...
  • The House Judiciary Committee is investigating the Uranium One deal.
  • The House Oversight Committee is investigating the Uranium One deal.
  • The House Intelligence Committee is investigating the Uranium One deal.
  • The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee has called for an investigation of the Uranium One deal.
  • Republicans in both houses have called on the Department of Justice to appoint a new special counsel to investigate the Uranium One deal.

while simultaneously ¯\_(ツ)_/¯-ing it up to Trump Jrs absurd invocation of attorney-client privilege.

In my head, I thought that the establishment Republicans were not quite on the same team as Trump. Both grotesquely evil, and often with significant overlap, but with personal animosity. It brought me up short to realize quite how heavily they're trying to discredit Mueller, but also it's impossible to be surprised by their complete shithead ways.

I would have been incensed, but snow! SNOW!! Two inches worth! omg.

PS: This could also be a Franken thread, now that I see the comments in the old thread. My opinion - he is correct to resign and I'm sad that he's the kind of person who does this shit. Aside from the moral rightness of resigning, he needs to do it to leave Democrats in a stronger position to lambast the Republicans for Moore and Trump and probably every last one of them, except maybe Pence. Originally I thought it was an ACORN-sting, but I've come around to the idea that he is legitimately gross.


 

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Walter Scott

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 12.07.17

The cop who murdered Walter Scott was sentenced to 19-24 years. Not for murder but he pled guilty to obstruction of justice.

It's depressing but good to see consequences.

There must still be a half-dozen videos of police brutality from this past year, but they must not get any traction anymore because the news cycle is overwhelmed with Trump-related horror stories.


 

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Threesday

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 12.07.17

I don't have a solid post, so here's some old links and thoughts:
1. 45% of cargo ships are empty (due to trade imbalances). Not exactly surprising, but a lot of fuel when it's phrased that way.

2. Curbside pick up has just arrived at our local grocery store, so I assume we're the last to get it. It costs $5. I can't imagine doing it because I'm a creature of habit. But more generally: is curbside pickup a depressing sign of dehumanization and a culture that is insatiably hungry to create time and then immediately fill the time saved? or is it just fine and helps people's lives run more smoothly? or is it a nonissue that most people never think about but use occasionally, like valet parking?

3. Remember the gerrymandering math conference? I was not accepted, but I was in good company - they were swamped with applications. When I thought about the gerrymandering problem last summer, the thing I couldn't figure out is why it was a math problem, when all was said and done. Certainly you can make up parameters and do interesting math on them, but not in any politically useful sense, not that requires an army of mathematicians cracking the problem. I concluded it was just for the social value of being to say that your expert witness had a PhD in fractions.

It seems they've reached a similar conclusion - the next conference (to be held in Austin) is focused on hacking and map-making, and does not yet appear to be pure-mathematical at all, which makes way more sense. I think I still find this interesting, but there's nothing that makes me particularly suited for it. The problem - and I would genuinely appreciate input on this terribly trivial problem - is that it falls on my 40th birthday. You don't get many decade-birthdays, especially on a Saturday, and maybe I would rather not spend mine there. But maybe I'd enjoy spending it there. Eh, this is such a dull thing to waste your mental space on. But still tell me what to do.


 

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Guest Post - Homocakephobia v. Queers

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 12.06.17

Sir Kraab writes: Obviously the baker is an asshole and was spoiling for a fight. He could have turned the couple away by lying, like a normal person with hateful beliefs. Just say you're too busy or you've developed carpal tunnel or your dog ate the recipe.

I am wondering, though, where the bright line is, legally, on protected classes. Sex seems like the hard* one.*** What about hair stylists who serve only men or only women? (We'll stipulate that they're equally skilled at both.) Massage therapists? Bars that waive the cover charge for "ladies" on Tuesdays? A women-only nude beach? Single sex colleges?

Boy Scouts? (I agree with others who've said the real reason they're letting girls in now is that their enrollment is falling. Should they have been forced to?) Girl Scouts? (Except that Girl Scouts are awesome and have been letting boys in for ages.) Ad infinitum.

We've talked about this before but google and yahoo have failed me.

======================================

*It seems like no one brings us cock jokes anymore.**

**Earworm!

***I'm leaving out things plausibly based on (assumed) biology****/body types/modesty/sexual puritanism: bathrooms, locker rooms, sports leagues.

****I don't mean that I'm leaving out cis/trans. I mean that there are some female/male distinctions that might be defensible as long as people are allowed to decide how they identify.

Heebie's take: What about this as a test, off the top of my head - service providers are allowed to provide services that are specific to a single gender or situation, but they can't determine who fits that situation. So you can say you're providing women's haircuts, but you don't get to choose who wants one. I don't know how this translates into gay-cake-fear, though. I read the NYT opinion that was basically, "You get to control the message on your product" and since "gay wedding cakes" are not a thing, a wedding cake is not a message, so you can't discriminate, whereas if I ordered a cake that said, "I want everyone to be gay-married to everyone!" then they could discriminate. Let's all only order cakes that say, "Whoever decorates this cake is okay with all human rights, especially for gay people" and then the shithead cake decorators would go out of business.


 

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Depress, the depressening

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 12.06.17

Well, look at my post on Dollar General from 2013, turning out to be prescient. The WSJ journal is paywalled, but here's a choice quote from a Vox article:

Dollar General, with about 14,000 stores across the country and a $22 billion market value, targets customers making $40,000 a year or less. They are expanding, CEO Todd Vasos told the Journal.
Why?
"The economy is continuing to create more of our core customer," Vasos said.

Is that the most depressing thing I could find? Nope!

What is life in an RV like?

Their former professions include accountant, McDonald's executive, advertising art director and broadcast journalist, as well as jobs in the retail and service industries. "Sometimes I felt like I was wandering around post-recession refugee camps," she writes. She meets victims of bad investments and people who hadn't been able to set aside enough of a safety net to survive divorce, illness, or injury. Most frequently, she meets victims of the 2008 recession, people who were laid off or saw their 401(k)s and other assets wiped out. "Many hoped life on the road would be an escape from an otherwise empty future," she writes.

How'd it work out?

Yet the temporary workamping jobs they found are often physically punishing and poorly paid, with no benefits except a free place to park your RV. A CamperForce employee might walk more than 15 miles a day on concrete floors, ceaselessly squatting and bending. Dispensers dotted around the warehouses dole out free painkillers, and an on-site medical team deals with more serious afflictions. Other workamping jobs include working the sugar beet harvest in Montana, Minnesota and North Dakota and campsite hosting, a job that offers pretty camping in exchange for low pay and plenty of toilets to clean. Even with a free parking spot thrown in, most of the workampers Bruder meets struggle to make ends meet. She writes of one of Linda's stints as a campsite host: "Even if Linda convinced her employer to give her full-time, forty-hour weeks all year long - and didn't take any vacations - her annual salary would amount to $17,680, with no benefits."

Nothing Depression-era to see here, move along, thanks.


 

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Bile Rising

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 12.05.17

Are they really not going to reauthorize CHIP? I haven't seen any coverage about it, but I don't see how they would get around to it by the end of 2017.

I'm having trouble articulating my anger. Maybe I'll feel better if I can get it out! Here's an attempt: the fiery bile in the pit of my stomach (sure) is aimed at the post-tax-bill, immediate cuts to entitlements. The nanosecond pivot that will surely arrive where all these shit-eaters turn and smile and say, "We do care about deficits after all!" and slash and burn all programs they possibly can.

It's really the same as the national Bears Ears park thing and all the rest of it - just relentlessly salting the earth.

Anyway, are they really going to let CHIP fizzle out without anyone paying much mind?


 

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Accountability

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 12.05.17

This is really very unusual:

[John] Oliver was moderating a pre-screening panel discussion about the 20th anniversary of the film "Wag the Dog" when he asked Hoffman about allegations that he groped a 17-year-old intern on the set of a 1985 movie....According to video captured by The Washington Post's Steven Zeitchik, Oliver told Hoffman that his apology in response to the allegation seemed dismissive and like a "cop out."
"I'm not the moral arbiter of anything," Oliver said before quoting Hoffman's apology. "'It's not reflective of who I am.' It's that kind of response to this stuff that pisses me off because it is reflective of who you were if it happened and you've given no evidence to show that it didn't happen. Then there was a period of time for awhile when you were creeping around women."
The testy exchange went on for about 15 minutes, according to journalists in the audience. Oliver moved the conversation to another topic, but Hoffman returned to the discussion, which set off another 15-minute argument.

Good on John Oliver. Audience members felt super uncomfortable, it was reported.

I'm still feeling so angry at the world that I've been sitting on this post for nearly an hour, thinking "blah, what is there to say about this," but I might as well post it. I'll post some shitty stuff soon enough, surely.


 

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Guest Post - A Little Bit of Discworld

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 12.05.17

Moss-moss C. writes: This might be up the blog's alley:

[Carpe Jugulum is] also a story about modernity and the horrors of modernity. This is where the story might feel a little out of step with the gothic tradition. The gothic is so deeply tied to hauntings--to the past reaching forward into the present. Yet here the gothic vampires are leading the charge into the Modern.
[...]
if one of the main problems of Discworld is "how are we to progress toward justice," one of the main perspectives you'd want to include is the possibility of "progress" being monstrous.
[...]
What really defines the de Magpyrs, like the [Italian F]uturists, is that they want modern ideas and modern technology of domination, but they don't really have an interest in changing their fundamentally predatory nature or relationship to other races. In fact, they've taken all these "modern" ideas and used them as part of a whole new ideology to justify them staying in exactly the same place they've always been in, just with an even more iron grip.


 

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Fractions

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 12.04.17

Fractions really are hard! I liked this article, and the explanation of why people find fractions so hard, but this drove me crazy:

East Asian languages express fractions such as 3/4 as "out of four, three," which makes it easier to understand their meaning than relatively opaque terms such as "three fourth."

YOU NITWIT, no wonder you're confused. (Possibly the missing 's' is just a typo?)(No, because they're claiming it's an opaque term? I don't know.)

Anyway, I don't think their solutions are that great, aside from giving teachers a better understanding of fractions. Here's a thing I've heard, to illustrate why it's hard to teach fractions - take a moment to think how you would explain the following:
1. 5 times 3.
2. 5 divided by 3.
3. 5 times 1/2.
4. 5 divided by 1/2.

The point is that most explanations that people reach for, for the first three, fail when you get to the fourth.

One thing that needs to happen is that fractions should be re-taught (as opposed to a hasty, crammed review). Everything is easier the second time you hear it, and it would go much faster. The first time through - 4th-7th grade - you'd get the algorithms down. The second time through, maybe a unit in 8th-10th grade, you'd understand why the algorithms are what they are.

Of course, another problem is that everybody adds to curricula, and no one ever takes stuff out. So I guess fractions will stay hard.


 

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Worst, The Worsening

Posted by Ogged
on 12.03.17

Suppose Mueller has Trump dead to rights and...nothing happens. This looks like the most likely scenario, doesn't it? And if it comes to pass, we'll really have an extra-legal executive, also known as an authoritarian regime. That sure doesn't seem good. And I think this is right.


 

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Another Weekend Longread

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 12.03.17

I thoroughly enjoyed this profile of John Urschel, the math grad student who played for the Ravens:

A year later, in the spring of 2016, during the NFL offseason, Urschel enrolled at MIT and took four classes as a full-time student. While his teammates were working out and vacationing, Urschel was living in Cambridge, Mass., studying numerical linear algebra and random matrix theory, spending his days working on complex mathematical proofs, attending lectures by visiting professors, talking math with people who enjoyed the subject as much as he did, loving every minute of life as an academic ... until one day an administrator reminded him that, come fall, come football season, he would have to remain a full-time student. He couldn't go part-time. The MIT doctoral program doesn't make exceptions in that regard, even for professional athletes.

Turn your volume off so that the autoplay isn't quite as irritating.


 

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