For some time I have been aware of a deterioration in the play time of my iPod. When new it had a playback time between recharges of over 10 hours.
It reached the point in January this year where I was barely getting 2 hours of playback time, which is not even sufficient to keep me going on a flight to Washington DC, which is where my current client is located.
Side Note – I made an interesting discovery on one of the flights to DC. I normally get an exit row seat on those flights, since a 35 inch inseam and standard coach legroom are not a good fit. I also had taken to placing my ipod on a ledge that runs along the door about 1 foot above the ground, to get it out of my lap, pockets or desk.
What I discovered was a sudden crash during playback where the battery status would plunge in a matter of minutes from almost full to “Please connect charger”. I assumed that the battery was now really bad; however, when I picked up the Ipod to examine it, I found that the case was freezing cold (and I mean COLD),. The door was cold-soaked and the Ipod had cooled to about freezing. This will negatively impact any battery, since batteries are a chemical device. Sure enough, after 10 minutes between my legs, the Ipod battery level was back to (not quite) full. It still didn’t stop the iPod from failing 30 minutes later with battery exhaustion, but I did get another 30 minutes of playback time.
There are lots of companies who will replace iPod batteries for a fee if you send the device away. However, I decided that, given the plethora of YouTube DIY videos showing how easy it really is to dismantle and replace everything in your iPod, it was time to try that myself. The battery for an iPod is only $7 if you buy it online, and there are companies that sell the battery and a kit of tools to open the iPod.
So…I ordered a battery replacement kit online, and waited for it to show up, while watching Youtube videos where grown men speaking in resonant well-modulated voices opened iPods seemingly without effort, disgorging the (very tightly packaged) contents.
However, I soon discovered by listening to the details that my iPod would not be as simple to open. I have a 160Gb 7th Generation version, which is very tightly packaged. It has a single platter disk drive (instead of the dual platter drives in 5th and 6th Gen iPods) which allowed Apple to make the case even slimmer. However, this also complicates case opening, since they also shrank down the case retaining clips.
The kit of parts arrived, so I set aside an evening to open the iPod. Surely this would be a matter of a few minutes and I would have the device open before my eyes.
After an hour of wrestling with the case and making next to no impact, I moved on to other things.
Second try – same outcome.
At this point I watched other videos, including one where a man with a collection of Exacto-knives seemingly was able to undo a 7th generation iPod in a matter of only 2 minutes and 40 seconds or thereabouts. Aha! This was the silver bullet, the panacea. With a collection of Exacto-knives I would be transformed from a bumbling fool into a mighty colossus of the home workbench, vanquishing iPods and sundry other devices Just Like That.
I snapped into action and visited Harbor Freight, which as engineers and DIY geeks know, functions as an Aladdin’s Cave for many tools. I smacked down the ATM card and marched out with the world’s largest collection of Exacto knives. This was the ticket to instant iPod opening.
Well, as it turned out, No.
The guy’s Exacto knives in his video must have been made from kryptonite or unobtanium, because when I tried to use them to separate the casing from the iPod chassis, the clips would unclip and then snap back into place. The knife blades were not rigid enough to hold the case away from the chassis. After 40 minutes of this, with my sense of humor rapidly disappearing, I called it a night.
2 days later, I was back at it again. Up until this point I had been working carefully to prevent any damage to the sides and back of the iPod. However, urgency overrode elegance, so I picked up the most heavy duty tool from the original iPod battery kit, and set to work with that one, prising the sides of the case away from the iPod body.
Success! After 10 minutes of small-scale wrestling, I pulled the case back off the iPod, revealing the inside contents. There was some minor scuffing damage to the iPod front case, but not noticeable unless you are really examining the device.
Once you get the case back off, replacing the battery is actually relatively easy, as long as you have tweezers to pull and replace the battery connection cable to the motherboard. Snapping the case back on is also easy, as long as you make sure that you have un-bent any bent clips. Apple never really designed the iPod to be worked on in this way (remember the brouhaha when people originally wanted to replace the battery, and Apple became all threaty about voided warranties and issued “don’t do this at home” injunctions?), so the retaining clips on the back cover tend to become splayed when you pull the casing off, and they need to be bent back into place. If you keep removing the case, I suspect that the clips will rapidly suffer fatigue failure.
However, after 30 minutes wrestling to get the case apart, I replaced the battery in 10 minutes and had the case snapped back together in 2 minutes.
Success! After charging the battery for 2 hours, I ran the iPod for a total of 6 hours on 2 flights to DC and in the evenings on the road, and it was still showing 80% charge. A hell of a lot better than 2 hours.
1. This is not for everybody. It is at the limit of my DIY skills. However, my iPod is the most difficult to dismantle because it is the most tightly packaged.
2. those YouTube videos showing effortless mastery of iPod opening are somewhat like those fishing programs that one sees on TV. You know the ones…”Fishing with Ted”, where Ted is on a boat in the ocean, staring at the camera. He says something like “Hello, Ted here…we are in the Pacific Ocean, where I am going to fish for halibut”. You then immediately see him with his rod bent double as he wrestles with, and then lands, a fish the size of a small dining table. What you don’t see is all of the footage of the screw-ups, 2 days of fishing with no results, foul-hooking of seabirds and boat rigging, and sundry other SNAFUs. So…those 4 minutes of YouTube video? They were probably condensed from several hours of wrestling and swearing…
Aside from the assorted collection of individuals currently fighting Federal government land ownership and stewardship, there are a collection of groups attempting to re-assert that they argue is a fundamental right of the people - to form Grand Juries at a local level.
One such group is the National Liberty Alliance. Their aim, based on a reading of their web site, is nothing less than the establishment of a complete replacement US government. In fact, there appear to be vacancies for government roles in 40 states of the Union. Anybody want to be a Governor or Attorney General without pesky requirements like elections or experience? This may be your chance...
The National Liberty Alliance is part of a collection of groups attempting to set up local Grand Juries and "shadow" legal systems at State and local level in the USA.
The founders and leaders of this group appear to be what I call armchair lawyers. There is no evidence that they have law degrees or any legal experience. However, they do like writing densely packed pseudo-legal documents, and they love Latin. They are relying on legal arguments derived in part from ancient Common Law, which allows them to (a) use Latin everywhere in their documents and filings and (b) issue fines denominated in archaic measures such as pieces of silver (I kid you not).
The current popcorn amusement under this group's umbrella is a body they have created which goes by the snappy name of the Unified New York Common Law Grand Jury.
Nobody could accuse this body of lacking in ambition. Currently, they are attempting to cite a laundry list of New York state legal officers for contempt at the same time and date. This is their latest filing, an omnibus "show up or else" demand that they present themselves for arraignment on contempt of court charges on June 2nd. Here follows a small snippet of their confident assertions:
This is an Extraordinary Special Procedure to answer Writ Quo Warranto, demanding that the Peoples’ stewards give account of their stewardship, therefore NO motions will be considered.
APPEARANCES ARE DEMANDED, failure to appear constitutes contempt. As a government servant you have a duty to answer. “Silence can only be equated with fraud where there is a legal or moral duty to speak, or where an inquiry left unanswered would be intentionally misleading.
This is a common Law procedure executed Coram Nobis, the Magistrate has “NO” authority to approve requests for time extensions or postpone said summons, Grand Jurist will be laying aside all business and will be traveling from across the state, likewise is expected of the accused.
Notice that, like many internet commenters who are suffering from an attack of shrillness, this Grand Jury team believes that ALL CAPs will magically endow their sentences with more weight and gravitas.
The citing for contempt apparently is their response to being denied facilities by the state of New York to run their Grand Jury system.
Make sure you watch this one unfold. Even by the standards of fringe group activity, this one is more interesting and potentially more entertaining than a lot of them.
With the recent Cliven Bundy imbroglio (see here), the focus in the public eye has been on the groups of individuals who believe that the Federal Government lacks any kind of moral and/or legal legitimacy.
Lost in the mix is that there are numerous individuals possessed of the same beliefs about State governments and legal processes. Some of these individuals are also hostile to Federal powers; others may not have even got that far.
Stephen L'Abbe is one such individual. He believes that the state of Idaho is an improperly constituted corporation that has no legal jurisdiction over him. As a result, when he was cited for speeding in Boise, he refused to pay the citation fee and contested it in court. He lost. He then appealed to the District court, citing numerous legal and procedural claims, which were all dismissed, as the District court affirmed his conviction.
L'Abbe then appealed to the State court. The court has also dismissed his appeal. However, rather than simply stamping "Denied" on a terse document, the court instead has documented in detail the reasons why, no, the court system in Idaho is legitimate and does have jurisdiction over Stephen L'Abbe. The entire carefully written decision is here. As the document explains in part:
...state governments existed before the creation of the national government, are repeatedly referred to in the U.S. Constitution, and their power and capability are continuously referred to in federal court opinions.
I always have problems determining whether individuals like Stephen L'Abbe are sincerely of the belief that governments and their legal systems are illegitimate, or whether they are simply anarchists and/or scofflaws whose underlying belief is that the laws do not apply to them. I leave it up to the reader to draw his or her own conclusions.
Many of you will have noticed the stand-off that developed in the middle of April 2014 between the family and supporters of Cliven Bundy, a veteran Nevada rancher, and the Bureau of Land Management.
The stand-off, which occurred while BLM agents were attempting to take possession of a number of cattle belonging to Bundy, generated a lot of light heat and sound in the media. In particular, the media outlets hostile to the Federal government and the current administration have been dining out on the crisis, extolling the courage of Bundy as another "little guy" being trampled under the jackboot of Big Gubmint.
Except that the affair is not that simple.
Well, on one level it is quite simple. On other levels, it is symptomatic of other long-standing issues that exist in the relationship between a central government and its citizens scattered across multiple quasi-independent states.
Firstly, we need to start with the simple stuff. Cliven Bundy is not a valiant hero fighting the Evil Feds. He is a perennial and consistent scofflaw. This article from a Nevada blogger, himself a lawyer and also a Mormon (which is Bundy's birth religion) explains very cogently why Bundy is not the heroic little guy that he and his supporters sell as his public image. It is also clear that Bundy is not highly thought of locally in Nevada, either within his own religious community, or within the farming and ranching communities. This ranching and cattle raising blog contains a bunch of comments from ranchers who clearly see Bundy as a scofflaw. Bundy has been succesfully avoiding over $1m in fines and penalties imposed on him for grazing cattle without valid permits for over 20 years. That is money that is due to us, the taxpayers. He has been bilking the government and gaining an unfair commercial advantage compared to ranchers who do pay for grazing rights. His assertion that he does not recognize most Federal laws is merely a post-hoc rationalization for his wilful failure to obey the law. There is a good reason why the Nevada cattle ranchers association currently wants nothing to do with him.
Secondly, Cliven Bundy's persistent contempt for and defiance of the Federal Government is part of a whole broader spectrum of anti-Federalism activism within the USA. This activism comprises a number of distinct but overlapping threads.
Bundy is being publicly supported by Richard Mack, a self-appointed leader of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, a collection of current and former law enforcement officials who argue that all law enforcement belongs at the local level, and the Federal Government has no role to play.
There is a local and state-level political dimension to this whole affair, which can be seen in the form of various local Nevada political representatives (including, rather incredibly, a candidate for State Attorney General) making all sorts of contorted and mind-bogglingly stupid statements of support for Bundy. Some of these bloviations are rooted in long-standing resentments in the American West against what is seen as heavy-handed, insensitive central government intrusion. A lot of the resentments stem from Federal management of public lands (Google "Sagebrush Rebellion" for some idea of the history). For historical reasons related to their acquisition, large percentages of a number of Western states, including Nevada, are comprised of public lands managed by the Federal government.
More recently, border patrol checkpoints have become a lightning rod for resentments. See Photography Is Not A Crime for the details.
Those of us who have followed the Sovereign Citizen movement also recognize elements of that movement's beliefs in Bundy's categorical assertions (rejected by courts since 1993) that the Federal Government has no jurisdiction over his grazing rights. SovCits, as a general rule, like to imagine the legal landscape as they think it should be, not as it actually is. They utilize this approach most often to claim that the Federal Government has no right to tax them or regulate them. It is, in summary, a "Wild West" mindset, where people are free (as they see it) from government tyranny. The rationalization is derived from the whole process which gave rise to the United States. In the SovCit world, citizens are superior to government and are in no way subjects, and the Federal Government has no legitimacy.
As a number of SovCits have discovered, the court system has no sympathy for this interesting worldview when it clashes with local and federal laws. A number of Sovcits are serving prison sentences for various felonies, including tax evasion. Unfortunately, law enforcement bodies in the USA have also discovered that a number of SovCits are not only hostile to the idea of central government; they are also prepared to commit violent acts, including murders and kidnappings.
Law enforcement and the legal system are having to deal with some people who are not sociable, properly adjusted members of society. That image showing a man lying on an overbridge aiming an AR-15 towards the scene of the stand-off? That is an Idaho militia member, not a government employee.
So, when you read (as you inevitably will) more outpourings about Cliven Bundy, remember two things.
1. he is not a heroic figure, valiantly fighting the Feds, he is basically a freeloader who thinks that Federal Laws mostly do not apply to him
2. he has a significant base of support, ranging from pandering local politicians through to some (likely) sinister people who may just be prepared to engage in violence as part of thir campaign to overthrow the Federal Government and install their dystopian new version of the USA.
You may or may not regard the Federal government as a positive force for good, but...those guys you see in the images pointing guns from bridges? They are not our friends either.
UPDATE - As this article makes clear, Cliven Bundy is far from the first rancher in the West to lock horns (excuse the pun) with the Federal government over grazing rights. Several predecessors also seemed to be spoiling for fights with the legal system, and they all lost. This article also explains that the deal that ranchers get for grazing rights is extremely generous, since it relies in part on a formula for cattle costs from...1966.
UPDATE 2 - This thread from Quatloos has more explanations in it about the chronology of the affair. One of the key nuggets of information is that Bundy missed out on a major payout to retire his grazing rights because he had allowed his permit to expire in 1993. He is the only rancher left in that area of Nevada as a result.
UPDATE 3 - This news article reveals that Cliven Bundy's family, as far as can be traced, have NOT been settled in Nevada since the 1870s, as Bundy has been claiming. His parents only moved to the Bundy Ranch in the late 1940's. This fact was revealed in one of the court cases that Bundy lost in the 1990's (which he refuses to comply with the judgement of).
Cliven Bundy's "little heroic cowboy" fantasy, complete with his posing with the US flag, is nothing more than pseudo-patriotic grandstanding backed up by BS.
Written by Mary.
For those of you that live in or near Mesquite, you need to know your animal shelter is a KILL organization. Not knowing this, we went in there today to see if they had any kittens - they didn't. But, they did have about a dozen adults. We found one that we thought was interesting, and decided to get to know her. I opened the cage to pick her up and discovered she was pregnant! After some discussion we decided we wanted her. We would take her home and take good care of her until she had her kittens. They would then appear on a kitten cam for all to see, enjoy and watch grow. We would choose a couple to keep and find good homes for the others -should there be more than two.
After finding someone to talk to and finding out what was required for adoption, she went away to talk to someone and came back to get me - she said I needed to talk to someone. When I told the other people (5 women) that I wanted to adopt her, I was told I couldn't.
I was told rather sternly without any compassion or concern what so ever that they were required to spay/neuter all cats before they were adopted - no exceptions.
I told them that the reason we wanted her was that she was pregnant and we wanted to assure she and her kittens found a good home.
One lady said sternly, " NO, YOU'LL JUST TAKE HER AND THE KITTENS WILL END UP BACK HERE!" Another said you're not allowed to adopt a pregnant cat! "They will spay her and KILL her kittens before you can adopt her." Another said in a rather angry tone "there are too many cats out there." (clearly she was not a cat person!)
They were very stern, uncaring and except for one woman (the one that said she was the dog person and didn't know much about the cats), very rude.
Graham and I were both shocked and astounded and left very sad and upset. We decided to not adopt her because that was a certain death for the kittens. Her only hope was that she has the kittens before they got around to doing anything.
We continue our quest for the right kittens for us. When the time is right, the right kittens will find us.
One of the more interesting (or disturbing) things about The Onion is that articles on the site and its TV channel have become progressively closer to apparent reality over the years.
However, The Onion, despite the closing of the gap between satire and reality, still operates firmly in the former category. So, it is puzzling when people persist in treating it seriously, as documented on this website, which shows all manner of people failing to engage in critical thinking and research before shooting off on Facebook.
1. Today's lawyer-wannabe blusterer - Sean Fodera
As documented by Ken White over at Popehat, Fodera is butthurt and thinks he is qualified on the subject of defamation law. Ken, as usual, attempts to break through his bloviating delusions.
2. The difference in speed if you're the Texas Medical Board
The TMB has failed to shut down the debatable and unproven treatment regimens of Stanislav Burzynski, who has been peddling all manner of weird and wonderful claimed cures for cancer for decades out of Texas. However, they are only too willing to snap into action almost immediately when the word "abortion" is mentioned. Orac over at Respectful Insolence compares and contrasts the inconsistent behavior.
As my previous Round-Up article points out, this bill, which seeks to permit both private businesses and government businesses to discriminate and refuse service to individuals based on sexual orientation, is now dead...for the time being.
Andrew Sullivan explains some of the consequences if the bill becomes law.
However, this article explains that the underlying rationale behind the bill is one of regressive censoriousness:
...seeing defeat on the horizon in the gay-marriage wars, social conservatives have shifted gears. Instead of trying to stop the tide of social change, they are seeking to exempt themselves from it under the banner of "religious liberty." Typically, social conservatives have pushed for exemptions in blue states like New York or Vermont only once the legislature has begun considering gay-rights legislation. But starting with Kansas, followers of the gay-marriage saga should expect to see more and more red states considering such preemptive measures as stand-alone bills.
Folks, this is quite simply, petulant, foot-stomping, authoritarians jerkishness. Other people's marriage arrangements are none of their damn business. These people do not have to associate with gays, bisxuals, trisexuals or trans-sexuals if they do not want to, they can exclude anybody they don't like from their personal lives. However, the bill seeks to permit them to avoid having to come into contact with those individuals in any area of their lives. It is an attempt to allow them to live in a weird zone where they can exclude sinful individuals at will. Another way to describe this is that they wish to forever be able to live in an exclusionary bubble, a universe divorced from the reality that the rest of us have to live in. As this article explains, the legislation was written by a religious lobbying group, not the Kansas GOP. This is both interesting and somewhat mind-boggling. (It also confirms my long-held suspicion that a lot of bills are, despite their promulgation by politicians, written by lobbyists, but maybe you knew that already).
The attempt to introduce this legislation appears to be part of the standard behavioral approach of regressive authoritarians, which follows this sort of sequence when their worldviews and attitudes are challenged:
1. Issue snarling challenge "If you don't like it, leave"
2. (If 1 fails), try to change the law to enshrine your worldview
3. (If 2 fails), threaten to secede from the Union
4. (If 3 fails), threaten to leave and live somewhere else
Note that very few authoritarians of this persuasion actually leave or move. Part of it is that when looking at other countries, there are a limited number of places that would willingly embrace a collection of censorious religiously-motivated crackpots. Some countries ending in -istan spring to mind, but those embrace The Wrong Sort of Religion. After that, the possible list gets real short real quick.
There are other areas of the USA that historically have been tolerant of people with exclusionary worldviews (like Idaho), but setting up a new community anywhere is really quite tough work. However, it might be best if these exclusionary religiously motivated people did form their own community, preferably a long way away from where I live. It seems that if they are not going to be happy until they can exclude anybody whose values they disapprove of from their lives, the right answer is for them find their own bubble some place else.
I see these bills, now being proposed in several other states, as an attempt to modify the law to perpetuate religious privilege under the guise of anti-discrimination. This is tilting at windmills, just like the attempts to pass anti-miscegenation laws in the recent past. Those legal maneouverings failed, and anybody arguing for them soon ended up on the wrong side of history.
1. Kansas House Bill 2453
This bill, which permits all types of providers of public service (including, but not limited to medical professionals, hospital staff, pharmacists, and law enforcement) to refuse to interact with or serve people they perceive to be homosexual, using a brand new "religious belief" exemption. I use the word "perceive" because I do not believe that there is any normal way that anybody interacting with a member of the public can definitively know if that person is gay, unless they are in possession of NSA data, or they are engaging in invasion of personal privacy.
It is my opinion that this bill is an excellent example of what I term political masturbation. It was dreamed up to address the fears and trepidations of electors who think that when something happens that do not like (in this case, the appearance, seemingly out of nowhere, of The Gayz), somebody needs to Pass A Law Against It. It is possible that the bill may not become law, since the GOP appears to have decided that the shitstorm is too great. UPDATE - The Bill has essentially been put on indefinite hold by the State Senate.
Even if the bill is signed into law, it is my belief that it will rapidly be ruled unconstitutional, since it appears to conflict with the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution (aka the Equal Protection clause). However, if the law is declared to be unconstitutional, that does not matter. What really matters is that the legislators who voted for it can then turn to their supporters, shrug their shoulders, and say "well, we tried..." and then go on to explain how they were thwarted by
UPDATE - If you want to understand the extent to which a broad religious belief exemption could be exploited, read this article about a Walgreens pharmacist who engaged in guerilla warfare against the sale of contraceptive drugs where he was employed. He was fired, and is now suing Walgreens.
2. Political Correctness
I am wary of this phrase. It gets thrown around a lot, mostly by people who seem to be unhappy that they cannot be obnoxious about other human beings or their worldviews without being called on it.
John Scalzi has a very good summary of his view of what you should think about before you use the phrase over at his blog:
“Political Correctness” is a catchphrase which today means one of two things. The first is, “I have done no substantial thinking on this topic in at least twenty years and therefore anything I say past this point cannot be treated with any seriousness.” The second is “It is more important for me to continue my ingrained bigotry than it is for you not to be denigrated or offended by my bigotry, because I am lazy and do not wish to be bothered.” If in fact you do not intend to convey either of these two things, you should not use, nor sign on to a document which uses, the phrase “political correctness.”
3. The Jonathan Martin bullying affair
Those of us who follow the NFL heard all about this over 3 months ago, when Jonathan Martin suddenly left the Miami Dolphins. It soon became clear that he had left mainly because he perceived that he had been subjected to unfair and threatening harrassment by team-mates.
The NFL commissioned an investigation of the incidents and the culture of the Miami Dolphins. The investigator has now released his report. It is exhaustive, detailed, and does not make good reading for either the Miami Dolphins or the NFL. Briefly, it confirms that several team-mates of Martin, led by Ritchie Incognito and Mike Pouncey, also involving John Jerry, engaged in a campaign of harrassment of Martin. It also confirms that coaches were aware of the harrassment, but did not take any action.
In the wider USA, these sorts of events would be prima facie evidence of a hostile workplace or work environment, and legal consequences would be inevitable. It is going to be interesting how the NFL and the Miami Dolphins react to the report, but here (for what it's worth) are my observations:
1. Ritchie Incognito is, by his own admission, a man with a troubled past and mental challenges. The Miami Dolphins signed him presumably knowing those facts. It therefore was incumbent on them to monitor his behavior to ensure that he did not create issues for the team. It appears that no such monitoring occurred. If you needed proof of his mental fluctuations, you need only look at how he jumped on and off of Twitter in the past week, finally deleting his Twitter account not long after the NFL report was published. This is not the behavior of a smart or well-balanced person.
2. It is the job of the coaches and leaders of a team to get the most out of all of the players on the team. This extends to making sure that the players are taken care of in terms of their work environment. Workplace interactions are sometimes not part of playing the game, but all players deserve a positive working environment and respectful treatment. This means that players who are different in their approach to workplace interactions, in a positive way, need to be embraced. If they are different in their approach to workplace interactions in a negative way, they need to be informed of this, given the chance to change their behavior, and if that does not yield a positive result, they may need to be shown the door. There is no compelling evidence of negative behavior by Jonathan Martin, but there is plenty of documented evidence of bad behavior by Incognito and other team mates.
3. Under no circumstances must leadership abdicate responsibility for managing a workplace environment. If they do so, they are effectively signalling that any majority viewpoint on how team members should behave is acceptable. Using the "buck stops here" process, senior leaders in the Dolphins, including the head coach, should have known that the issue existed and should have been involved in crafting a solution. However, it seems that no action was taken by leadership, who were subsequently surprised when Martin walked out on the team. This suggests a lack of attention to workplace behavior and discipline.
3. The "boys will be boys" rationalization of bad behavior is not viable in a workplace where the average age of the workers approaches 30. Neither does calling Jonathan Martin a "snitch" or a "pussy" magically eliminate the accountability for bad behavior by his team-mates, or the lack of interest shown in the behavior by the Miami Dolphins. The use of those words tells me more about the bully-enabling mindset of the accusers than it does about Martin's behavior.
The NFL is under increased scrutiny about workplace behavior, both as the result of the Jonathan Martin affair, and the decision of draft prospect Michael Sam to announce that he is a gay American. The NFL needs to take the lead and inform teams that the old "law of the jungle" working environment, with coaches looking the other direction as immature and dysfunctional behaviors occur, is not acceptable. More importantly, the NFL needs to beware of the trap into which a lot of corporations fall, when they tolerate jerks and assholes, to the detriment of the corporation, because they are perceived to be successful or talented.
Yes, this will change the culture of the locker room. It's called evolution. The NFL had better get used to it, before they and teams find themselves not only buried in lawsuits, but potentially under Federal investigation.
1. Butthurt in Rhode Island - abuse of State Resources
This article by Ken White over at Popehat explains how State Representative Scott Guthrie, butthurt and possessed of a hissy-fit by a satirical web site aimed at him, somehow managed to persuade law enforcement to expend significant time and effort on attempting to identify the author of the satire.
There are two problems here; (1) as Ken pointed out, Guthrie is a thin-skinned twit, and (2) the police should never have even started the investigation, knowing that satire, by court rulings at all levels, is protected expression under the First Amendment. Somebody in law enforcement needs to be forced to explain why they pissed away time and money on a wild-goose-chase (and possibly illegal) investigation.
2. When a CBO report says the opposite of what some people would have you believe
GOP partisans and opponents of the PPACA fell upon the recent CBO report like vultures on roadkill, claiming that it says that the PPACA will cost the USA two million jobs. Except that this is NOT exactly what the CBO report says, as this article explains. Yet another example where the need to fit facts into a prior partisan rhetorical framework results in the twisting of said facts. A less polite person might call it juvenile, nihilistic GOP bullshit, but not me...
The PPACA is definitely going to change the work landscape in the USA, and like any major piece of legislation it has already had unintended consequences. However, there are upsides to the legislation, one of them being the erosion of the umbilical link between employment and healthcare, and the ability of creative and artistic individuals to actually be able to sfford healthcare. The US healthcare delivery system is still broken, but it will take more than half a dozen PPACAs to fix that bigger issue, and before a fix can be defined, enough electors in the USA have to actually come to terms with how bad the US is at delivering healthcare.
3. Commuting to work between countries
This article on Gizmodo explains how commuting to work between countries is already a reality in Europe, and how it could become commonplace in the Americas, but that some changes to transportation models are needed first.
4. The Woody Allen - Mia Farrow family dramas
The worst thing about this whole affair is not that it reveals the chronic dysfunctionality in the families of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen (anybody who had not just landed from Mars would have already worked that out), but that both parties to the mess and their children are now conducting a proxy war in public. The right answer would be for all of them to STFU, but I fear that genie is not only out of the bottle, but currently circling the globe at great altitude.
It is not easy to find sober, useful comment on this mess, partly because Woody Allen remains a deeply polarizing figure (people seem to either love or hate the man and his creative works), and partly because the allegations involve both rape and child sexual abuse, which stir powerful and primitive emotions. My blunt assessment, without passing judgement on the validity of the expansive claims being made by either side, is more along the lines of "a plague on both their houses". That may sound like a cop-out, but I am deeply reluctant to go along with the current process, which seems like a variant on "let's try these people in the court of public opinion". I seem to dimly recall that we did that a few hundred years ago when persecuting people for being witches and engaging in satanic practices. I thought that we had matured as a civilisation and dropped that sort of mass hysteria down the mineshaft of history...but there I go being naive again...
5. Blast from the Past #1 - Christian dismissal of Atheists from 2008
It appears to be an article of faith among many confirmed Christians in the USA that Christianity is under attack from evil forces, including (but not limited to) Atheists, who are seen as agents of the Devil or Satan.
This is not a new viewpoint. Back in 1994, when I was working at Texas Instruments in Dallas, I sat patiently at lunch and listened as a fellow IT colleague who had been elected to a local school board, and who seemed to be spending at least 2 hours a day on the phone campaigning to have Creationism inserted into the district's Science curriculum, insisted that Christianity in the modern USA was "under attack". He was not thrilled when I pointed out that the USA is one of the most religion-friendly countries in the modern world. I pointed to all of recent religious groupings that started in the USA (Mormons, Scientologists being just two) and the extent to which religions enjoy financial privileges such as tax exemptions not available to non-religious groups. He went silent, changed the subject, and did not sit at lunch with me any more. Which was a relief, since if he had continued with his bloviations, I might have had to become more pointed in my dismissals.
Lost in all of the huffing and puffing about Christian persecution are occasional incidents that prove that some Christians are, when the mood takes them, cheerfully capable of being dismissive and sometimes offensive towards non-Christians. This incident from a Ford dealership in San Diego in 2008 is a good example. They produced an advert that essentially told Atheists (who they apparently determined were 14% of the population) to Shut Up.
The reaction of the dealership was schizoid in the extreme. After initially appearing to issue a Notpology (the concept of the Notpology is the subject of an article that I am currently writing), they then back-tracked and doubled down on the message behind the advert, reverting to jaw-jutting defiance.
The dealership may have determined that they were more likely to get additional business from Christians if they were rude about Atheists, and that the additional business from Christians would outweigh any additional business from Atheists. Personally, given that the ad writer lived in Oklahoma, which is one of the more overtly Christian states of the union, I have my doubts about whether anybody involved in this did any analysis. However, as a general rule, in any competitive marketplace, it is bad business strategy to gratuitously insult part of your target customer base. No sensible professional advertizing group would propose to advertize for a business by insulting part of that business's target audience.
While there is no constitutional right to not be offended, there is also a fundamental human interaction rule that it is not a good idea to be gratuitously offensive either. Somebody forgot that rule in this case, and the dealership ended up looking like a mean-spirited bunch of Christianist twits.
5. Blast from the Past #2 - The rise of bizarre reasoning in modern America
The author actually has a more blunt term for it, as you will see if you read the article.