The bulging Dell XPS 13 keyboard and the solution

In 2018, tired of the lack of horsepower of my existing publishing company laptop, in use with White Cat Publishing, I went out and found a Dell XPS13 laptop on Ebay. I selected it because it was fairly powerful, and it could be used for video processing if we took it on vacation, and the keyboard had good reviews.

And when I first started using it, it ticked all of those boxes.

Fast forward to the beginning of this year, when I began to notice that the keyboard was bulging upwards on the left hand side. Most of the left hand side had a noticeable bulge in the D, C, E key area, extending down to the space bar. I had no idea why this was happening, but the laptop did seem to be hot on that side, so I concluded that it was due to internal overheating. I began to power the laptop when I was not actively using it.

The bulge in the keyboard slowly became worse, and started to affect the operation of the keyboard. The space key began malfunctioning, if I tried to use the left hand side of it, nothing happened. More annoyingly, shutting the laptop would engage CTRL Lock on the keyboard, and I could not get out of it using Windows 10 (this is an issue with Windows 10, but the coincidence of the issues was making me…not a happy bunny). The touch pad was also starting to become glitchy.

Now…I can think faster than I type. My typing speed is what limits my ability to rapidly get stuff down, so anything that slows down typing for me, is beyond annoying. Sadly, my better half can attest to the gradual disappearance of my patience with the laptop keyboard.

Also…the laptop would shut down without warning, thinking that the battery was low (no it was not, at least according to the on-screen power management information).

I had resigned myself to the reality that I was going to need to invest in a new laptop. Mary, probably fed up with my cursing swearing and chucking of objects, was researching new laptops online and through Costco.

My sanity was degrading. Something had to be done.

So…I began to look online using “Dell XPS 13 warped keyboard”.

And…paydirt.

The random shutting down of the laptop and the keyboard warp were caused by the same underlying issue.

The modern laptop, with no disk drive, and a lot of pressure to reduce the thickness to not much more than that of a tablet, is designed with an ultra-thin Lithium battery pack, which occupies the entire space between the keyboard and the back panel. There is no space to speak of inside a modern laptop case.

The back panel is made of thin metal. The keyboard base is made of very thin plastic.

The battery pack was failed, and when Lithium packs fail, they overheat and expand. With nowhere to go against the case bottom, the battery was pushing up the keyboard, progressively warping it and degrading its functionality.

So…a search for a battery pack showed lots of them available. I ordered one from Amazon. My thinking was, if the keyboard was thin, it would resume its normal shape after a new battery pack was fitted. With a new battery pack costing $65, this was worth a try. If the keyboard refused to un-warp, a new keyboard could be installed. Beyond that, it would make more sense to spring for a new laptop.

The installation of the new battery pack was fairly easy. Just a case of removing 8 screws from the metal base, pulling the base off the laptop. There are videos like this one on YoutTube that walk through the rest of the process.

So, after pulling the old battery pack, this is what it looks like.

The top side (next to the keyboard):

The pack should be totally flat where the cells are located. As you can see, that’s…not even remotely close to flat. Bulging like a way overweight bar-room boozer.

The bottom side (next to the case):

This side is even worse, but there is some clearance inside the case, so it assumed the contour of the case bottom. I suspect that the pack expanded into that space, then as the expansion became worse, it pushed the keyboard up.

So…new pack installed, and now…a flat keyboard with all the keys working properly.

For somebody who needs a good fast keyboard this is….Nirvana.

 

 

 

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My Social Media principles (UPDATED)

I wrote this in 2015, but most of it is still applicable.

1. I am not online to make money. I have no advertising revenue income from any of my blogs or other social media locations. I am not writing to gain, keep or impress an audience. Essentially I am writing for my own fun, and to improve my writing for other reasons (I am writing books that I hope to self-publish). If other people like my writing, this is good. If other people hate it, this is also good. The last thing I would like to be is non-memorable. I can achieve that latter goal by not writing at all.
2. My approach to identity is to post as myself. As far as revealing information about myself other than my given first and last names, I adhere to what a former work colleague defined to me as The Concept Of Minimum Effective Fact. I reveal only the minimum amount of information about myself. For example, I never reveal my home address to others in casual conversation. Why would they need to know that piece of information?
3. I seek out different views, and I am interested if those views are articulately and usefully expressed.
4. Not everybody is going to like me or my views after reading what I have to say. I call this the law of averages. One cannot be liked by everybody. I accept that.
5. I use humor and irony a LOT. Humor and comedy, apart from making people laugh (which is a hell of a lot better than almost anything else, except possibly sex), also allow for the subversive exposure and ridicule of all of the weird, illogical and stupid things that tend to take root in modern societies and inside the heads of people.
6. I extend the Principle of Charity in discourse. I will adopt the most benevolent interpretation of somebody’s statement, not the most negative one, initially. I will revise that approach rapidly if I detect that the other parties to the discussion are not interested in interacting on the basis of good faith.
7. If you want to engage in discourse with me, provide some evidence that you are thinking as you write, and that you can construct arguments. Hitchens’ Razor is my general response to assertions without any supporting evidence.
8. If you write postings or comments that mostly recycle talk radio or partisan media outlet cliches, I am unlikely to respond. See (7)
9. If you want your ideas to be respected, have good ideas. I have a tendency to engage in ridicule if people espouse ridiculous ideas and either cannot support them or try to engage in sleight of hand, fallacious reasoning or other forms of sophistry. Ridicule is a logical response to the promulgation of ridiculous ideas. Please note that in line with extending the Principle of Charity (see above), I will be endeavoring to critique the ideas, not the person.
10. There is no Constitutional right to not be offended. If you find something that I wrote is offensive, you need to ask yourself if it is because I have expressed it offensively, or whether you simply do not like the viewpoint. If it is the former, feel free to call me on it. If it is the latter, let’s debate it, but starting with “I am offended” is likely to result in a response along the lines of “and your point is…?”. You, not me, control how you react to viewpoints and ideas that conflict with your worldview.
11. If your posting is clearly a toxic rant on a subject that you cannot stay away from, I am unlikely to respond. I learned some time ago that engaging this level of toxicity is a waste of everybody’s time. In my experience, the people writing these sorts of rants most of the time are seeking affirmation, not debate or discussion.
12. If your posting or comment contains juvenile sneers like “libtard” or “remoaner” and/or engages in broad-brush negative stereotyping of individuals or societal groups using tired cliches like “liberals”, “atheists”, “republicons” or similar, or contains suggestions like “leave the country if you don’t like X”, or contains statements that prove that you consider groups of individuals as some lower form of life, I am probably going to rip you a new one rhetorically, or Block you. Processing elementary school insults and dealing with exclusionary and mean-spirited worldviews is a waste of my time.
13. I love to understand the world, via information and facts. That leads to me using fact checking extensively. I can and will fact check claims and allegations off the internet, and from time to time I am going to declare some stuff to be bullcrap, nonsense, or poorly formulated or argued.
14. I have a reasonable working knowledge of the modern world political landscape. This does mean that I am likely to call out bizarre or distorted worldviews. For example, there is a tendency right now to call out any political view that is perceived to be more progressive than the mean in the modern USA as “socialism ” or “marxism”. This is likely to cause me to eventually engage in ridicule. See (9) above. The reasons for this are varied and several. One of them is that I grew up under socialism, so I know more than a little about its operation as a political system. The second reason is that most people in the USA, when asked to define the meaning of “socialism”, are unable to do so. When you cannot adequately define a concept, you’re really not at all qualified to discuss how it might apply to the real world.
15. I have a reasonable understanding of the types and usage of various logical fallacies, and I will remark on their usage if I encounter them in postings or arguments. Logical fallacies undermine the validity of arguments. If you don’t know about logical fallacies, here is a list of the most used ones. 
16. YouTube videos do not magically confer credibility and gravitas on ridiculous, dysfunctional or illogically dystopian opinions and worldviews. Anybody with $100 of camera gear, spare time, editing software and a resonant, well-modulated voice can create a YouTube video. Many people on the political and societal fringes of the modern USA such as Qanon adherents, Sovereign Citizens, Birthers, adherents to all kinds of conspiracy theories and religious crackpots, turn out YouTube videos at almost the same rate that I breathe. My analysis and questions will revolve around the content. I try to distinguish between quantity and quality when the time comes to analyze outputs on that channel.
17. Capitalizing whole words or sentences LIKE THIS in your enthusiasm or zeal to make a point is counter-productive. It is shouting, which works about as well in the internet world as it does in the real world. It also makes me wonder if you have a problem with the underlying argument or point, if you feel that shouting is the only effective way to communicate it.
18. If I walk away from a discussion, you have no right to assume that you have “beaten” me, or somehow impressed me into agreeing with you. Just because you have silenced somebody, it does not entitle you to conclude that they now agree with you. Most probably I walked away because I determined that further discussion was a waste of my time, which is my prerogative. However, you could check this by asking. Conversely, I am not into declaring rhetorical “victory” in discussions. That sort of approach belongs in elementary school.

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Dear Mississippi

Dear State of Mississippi,

I hear from my spies that some of you, and some of your leaders, are deeply unhappy about the imminent future of the United States.

I believe that this is because A Guy You Apparently Didn’t Vote For, I think he is named Biden, is going to become the 46th President of the United States, because he beat The Guy You Apparently Voted For in the recent election.

Apparently, this change will be a Bad Thing for the United States, so some of you want out.

Well OK then.

Although the Constitution does not have any defined process for how a State can leave the Union, let’s not worry about that right now. Let’s also overlook that unfortunate little contretemps in the 1860s, where I seem to recall that a whole collection of you (by “you” I mean the Southern States) had a collective hissy-fit over the planned abolition of slavery, and decided to fight a bunch of other states over it. (By the way, You Lost. Those nice stars-and-bars cloth objects that some of you like to wave about from time to time are copies of the battle flag of a defeated secessionist army. In other words, Losers. But I digress).

Let’s assume that you, Mississippi, desirous of No Union At All, want to secede from the rest of the United States.

First of all, I think I need to point out that by most objective measures, Mississippi is heavily dependent on the Federal Government. When I looked at some hand-dandy charts, you are the third most financially and governmentally dependent state in the Union, after New Mexico and Kentucky. So the idea that you are, you know, ready to make your own way in the world, Just Like That, might be a wee bit optimistic. But, hey, all children dream of one day leaving home and having their own place. Right?

So, sure. Let’s talk about secession.

First of all, let’s talk money.

It’s like this. The USA has a national debt, which the last time I looked had passed $23.3 trillion (yes, that is a number that contains a blank of a lot of zeroes). And it is still rising. You, the good citizens of Mississippi, are, along with all of the other states, the collective owners of that debt. So, if you want to leave the Union, we will require you to assume a pro rata share of the debt. I just happen to have a calculator handy, and if we do it on the basis of population, your current share of the debt is…

$208 billion.

I understand that your current state debt is approximately $7.4 billion. I got out the calculator again, and did some more math. That will give Mississippi a debt to GDP ratio, after we do the math, of 182%. Not the worst in the world, mind you, Japan is at 238%. But then the next country is Greece. At 181%. Oh dear. You will be the second worst country in the world. That means your borrowing costs will probably rise. But hey, that’s how free markets work, right?

Of course, if you want us, acting on behalf of Uncle Sam and the US Treasury, to guarantee your debts, we can do so for a fee. This is for a state which <checks notes> is last in the Union at present on per capita GDP, so you folks will need all the help you can get.

There will be no more money from the US treasury. Of course, you won’t have to send us any either. This may be good for you, since I understand that a lot of you are always grumbling about sending money to Washington for “coastal elites”, “spongers” and “liberals” who might even be behaving according to “San Francisco values”. If you want to just have sales taxes and property taxes, and continue with your 5% maximum income tax, have at it. We will watch to see how you can balance the books that way. I think you might find that 5% is a tad low for an income tax, but hey, your call.

Now, let’s talk defense.

You will assume total control over the Mississippi National Guard and its assets. Why not? It is mostly older stuff that was passed down from the US Air Force, Army and Navy anyway. We don’t need the hassle of looking after old KC-135s and obsolete APCs. But you may have to pay more for spares, since you will be buying them as Mississippi, instead of using the Full Faith and Credit Of The United States. Unless, of course you want to kick some cash over to us to continue to enjoy some of that Full Faith and Credit.

Ah, you might want to participate in the overall US national defense, I hear you say? Well, we will have to talk about that. On normal commercial terms. Those F-35s are kind of expensive, and they don’t fly themselves. And Naval patrol boats cost money to run.

All Federal government installations will be closed down, unless you buy them from us at fair market value less 5%. That is more than fair, considering that you probably provide a lot less than 5% of the federal tax revenues each year.

You will be responsible for healthcare provisioning, and for deciding what healthcare systems replace Federally funded systems like Medicaid and Medicare and Tri-Care. We will allow you to participate for 5 years after secession in the systems if we can agree the price. If not, it’s over to you.

Roads, airports, ports? Over to you. If you owned them you get to keep them, but no more Federal money to help with upkeep. If the Federal government owns them, you get to buy them from us at market value less 5%. If you don’t want them, we will close them and sell them off to the highest bidder, no matter where that bidder may be in the world. Except for the Federal Interstates (hold on we’ll get to that in a minute). Hey, it’s simply responsible reclamation of taxpayers money. I hear that your government likes to talk about that a lot down there in the Summer heat.

By the way, you might need to work out some arrangement for hurricane and peril insurance. Those hurricanes are getting worse, and unless we can agree on financial terms, the Federal government cannot continue to guarantee flood and peril insurance for home owners. We note that some of your coastline is, er, very close to or below sea level.

If you want to continue to participate in GPS and the FAA, sure. There will be a fee for that. Controlling satellites and airspace is a tricky job requiring state of the art equipment, and those Air Traffic Controllers have to be kept supplied with coffee.

Now, about Federal Interstates. No, you are not going to make them into toll roads. If you do that, we will impose tolls in the other direction when your vehicles leave Mississippi. I don’t think you would want that. We will provide 5% of the cost of maintenance for Federal highways. More than reasonable. Ditto the Mighty Mississipp. You will not impose tolls on that waterway, unless you want to have to pay reciprocal tolls.

It is up to you whether you want to apply for admission to the United Nations and the WTO. We won’t take a position either way, except to note that if you want to join the United Nations, it will be as a new country without any of the privileges that the United States currently enjoys (like that permanent Membership of the Security Council). Ditto trading blocs. However, we may ask you to kick in a few million to pay for your share of representation on the world stage. Embassies, and United Nations and WTO representation costs money.

If you are serious about the idea of becoming a true country you may need to pay for the cost of setting up a Federation Ambassador office in DC, as will we in Jackson. Standard United Nations diplomatic rules will apply.

Passports? Customs declarations? Border posts? Hell no. We are not going to get into that border shit. I mean, if you really really want a border, you can have one, but then we will require passports for any of your folks to enter the United States, and we will impose work permit and visa controls, just like we do with other countries. Also, you will need to have your own border controls, agreed with the 4 states with which you will share a border. I don’t think you really want to go there. There will be reciprocal visit rights by US citizens to Mississippi and Mississippi citizens to the USA. However, Mississippi citizens will need to apply for permission to move elsewhere in the USA, and if the states want to impose their own quotas and work restrictions, well, State’s Rights and all that. You will need to talk to them about that, unless you want us to act on your behalf, in which case I am sure we can do so. If the price is right.

No, you may not become a tax haven country. We have had enough trouble in the past dealing with oligarchs on big yachts, surrounded by men in dark glasses, carrying cases with strange bulges in their clothing. I know this may come as a shock to those of you who are used to a failed casino operator running the country, but we do have some standards.

Ditto alcohol and tobacco and other mind-altering substances. If you decide to try and become a haven for smugglers or “country entrepreneurs”, the neighboring states will have our forbearance if they want to change the ways that they interact with you, legally, logistically and commercially. It’s that States Rights thingy again. I think you rather like that (at least, you always seem to think it is important whenever the Federal government wants to do something you don’t like).

Yes, you will have to continue to enforce the same environmental laws that the rest of the United States enforces. You may have noticed that there are artifacts on the planet such as weather and water, that tend to move substances across state boundaries. We are not going to allow your factories, power plants and other industries to send shit into the water table or oceans, or into the atmosphere where it can drift over Our Way. In return, we undertake to not do the same to you. Deal? After all, if you start dicking about with things like vehicle emissions laws because you want to have, oh I don’t know, Rolling Coal as a state pastime, that is going to prevent Brandon and Brett from driving to New Orleans to see the Saints, and that seems a little restrictive, don’t you agree?

Which brings us nicely onto sports. You make your own arrangements for teams like Ole Miss. Whatever you want to do is fine with us.

This list is not exhaustive. We’re just getting warmed up.

 

Yours sincerely,

The United States

 

 

 

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This week’s Brexit Hit Parade

Last week’s positions in brackets

1 (1) – Sovereignty
2 (9) – Walk Away UK
3 (2) – Our Fish!
4 (3) – They Need Us More Than We Need Them
5 (4) – Trade on WTO Rules
6 (6) – No Deal!
7 (5) – Sunlit Uplands
8 (7) – Sink The Migrant Boats
9 (10) – When I Said Foreigner I Didn’t Really Mean You
10 (8) – I Live For Remoaner Tears

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Clueless claptrap 001- the Daily Telegraph

The Daily Telegraph, in line with the general Brexit narrative that the UK wants a deal with the EU, but the EU is being Mean Nasty and Unco-operative, has published a screed suggesting that if the EU wants a deal, it should fire Michael Barnier. 

There is so much wrong with this twaddle, I am not sure where to start.

I’ll be blunt. It is fucking stupid.

It is stupid, because Michael Barnier is not some lone-wolf anti-British Furriner, seeking to grind the face of Mighty Britain in the dust. Barnier leads a negotiating group which has strict instructions from the EU about what the parameters are that the EU will accept for a deal. The EU could fire or sideline Michael Barnier tomorrow, and the EU position on negotiations would remain unchanged. Whoever Barnier’s replacement turns out to be will simply be carrying out instructions from the EU.

The whining from the Telegraph,you will notice, has nothing of any substance. It is all about perceived style.  “We don’t like his tone” is the posturing of children whose feelings have been hurt. It is also a common racist dog-whistle. This may be because Barnier, who speaks better English than most British people, has already seen off Mark Francois, a Tory MP whose mouth and keyboard keeps running way ahead of his limited intellect. Francois wrote a table-thumping letter to Barnier, who calmly cut it up into tiny little pieces and sent the remains back to Francois. 

The UK’s juvenile, posturing approach to negotiations is not serving it well. But this is what you get when you give the job of driving the family car to a collection of dimwits living in a bubble surrounded by sycophants, who have signed off on the Mighty Imperial Britain fallacy. When fantasy starts to collide with reality, people not connected to reality cannot process reality, so it must be The Other Side’s Fault. Hence the appearance of the Big Bad EU narrative.

This nonsense will continue for the rest of the year, until one of two events occurs. The UK will concede at the last minute to a deal worse than any deal it could have negotiated IF it had been willing to, you know, STFU and work properly and constructively with the EU. Or…there will be no trade and collaboration deals of any kind.

If the outcome is the latter, I predict an almighty melt-down in the UK starting in mid-January, as the lack of any useful trading relationship with the EU throws the UK into an economic tailspin. The electors in the UK who voted for Brexit with the cheerful claim of “I knew what I was voting for” will find out that they may have known what they were voting for, but they had no damn clue about the consequences of what they were voting for.

The UK is failing at Negotiation 101, persistently and consistently. Demanding that the other side fire its chief negotiator is proof of that. It is the action of a desperate group of children, not a properly functioning team of adults. It is also a pretty good indication that the UK  may be finding out that operating as one country is more difficult than they imagined, due to the sudden lack of leverage that the UK possesses.

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4+ years of conversation and discussion with Brexit supporters

The discussion with hardcore Brexit supporters generally goes down two routes:

  1. Discussion with football supporters
  2. Discussion with pseudo-economists

The football supporters dialogue goes like this:

We won!
What did you win?
#Brexit! Sovereignty!
Yeah, but how do you benefit?
Light bulbs! Vacuum cleaners! Bananas! Fishing! Sovereignty!
Yeah, I know, but what are the real benefits?
Told you…we won!
But what are the…benefits?
Woo hoo! We won!
What are the benefits?
We won! Get over it!
I repeat what are the benefits?
If you don’t like it, Leave!

This is the sum total of the dialogue. These supporters see Brexit as some sort of football game which Their Team won. So everybody needs to “get over it”. Strangely enough, they do not want to recognize that football teams play each other quite frequently, which gives the losing side an opportunity to win the next game. Brexit supporters like to pretend that the 2016 Referendum result was some irrevocable event.

The pseudo-economist discussion goes something like this:

We won!

Yeah OK. So what now?

We will get a great deal!

Yeah, you said that. What about those 753 free trade agreements the EU negotiated on our behalf over the last 45 years?

We will negotiate new ones!

Do you know how long it takes to negotiate 1 free trade agreement?

If they’re mean to us we will trade on WTO terms!

What countries trade on WTO terms? Why do all of these trade alignments like the EU, TPP and Mercosur exist if WTO terms are so great?

They need us more than we need them!

Um, the EU has 5 x the GDP of the UK. I think it might be the other way round.

The German car companies can’t do without the UK!

If they can’t they seem to be very quiet about it

The EU is being mean to us!

Um, we’re leaving the club. We don’t get to keep all of the membership benefits.

We signed a trade deal with the Faroe Islands!

Um, how large is the economy of the Faroe Islands?

We are going to get a trade deal with Australia!

How far is the EU from the UK compared to Australia?

Why are you so negative?

There is not one argument by the pseudo-economists that has any mathematical, legal or practical heft. Most of the people making the arguments above have no idea of the complexities of international trade. They are not tethered to reality in any way. However, the arguments are superficially plausible, and when accompanied by suitable cherry-picked data, can look reasonably compelling to the uninitiated.

The “sovereignty” appeal is to the abstract idea that a country in the modern world can be truly independent. No such country exists. The only independent peoples are those with no contact with the rest of the world. There might be 2 tribes in the world like that. The rest of the world has interdependent relationships.

The sovereignty mirage is similar to the imaginary world posited by old-style libertarians, who think that the USA is still a rural agrarian economy with unlimited space, where a man can go off to Be A Real Man. Such places exist only in people’s imaginations.

 

 

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Epsom Derby shock – Serpentine

The Epsom Derby has a habit of throwing up shock results from time to time.

Epsom racecourse is not a regular oval, flat race track. It is undulating, culminating in the downhill sweep around Tattenham Corner, which is angled and cambered, and which often sees fancied horses changing lead legs, and becoming, gait-wise, crossed up. This robs them of momentum at a critical phase of the race.

Every year, a lone horse and jockey will try to lead from the front from the top of the hill to the winning post. Usually, it is an outsider, a horse whose trainer is confident will stay 1.5 miles, but lacking in speed. And normally, the lone ranger is swallowed up by the pack about 2 furlongs out, as his staying ability is trumped by the acceleration of higher-quality horses.

Once in a while, however, the lone ranger horse does cross the line first. In 1974, Snow Knight, a colt with next to no racing record, and a suspect temperament, was discounted in pre-race analysis, starting as a rank outsider at 50/1. He further dismayed everybody by dumping jockey Brian Taylor within a short period of time of him mounting in the paddock. This was SOP for Snow Knight, who was a fractious animal. Taylor swiftly remounted, none the worse for wear, and Snow Knight went to the start line, albeit still arguing with his handlers as he was led into the stalls.

Taylor slipped the field over half a mile out and went for home, confident that Snow Knight would stay the distance. He had run well in the Lingfield Derby Trial, a race at the same distance on a circuit that resembles Epsom. Everybody sat and watched, expecting Snow Knight to be swallowed up by the field, but around 2 furlongs out, the terrible truth dawned, both among the brains of the pursuing jockeys, and the spectators, that Snow Knight was not coming back to the pack. He accelerated well, and held off the pursuers to win by 2 lengths. He actually pulled away from his closest pursuer in the last furlong. He had speed as well as stamina.

Unlike some Derby fields, this was not a weak race. Snow Knight was not the second coming of Airborne. High-quality horses such as Bustino (who had won the Lingfield Derby Trial) trailed him home in the race. Snow Knight, it turned out, was a far better race horse than anybody expected. His record in the UK was spotty, mainly because after the Derby he was mostly entered in races where he was competing against older horses, but sent to race in the USA at age 4, he did very well indeed,despite still being a pain in the ass temperament-wise. At the end of 1975 he was voted Champion American Turf Horse.

Yesterday at Epsom, we had a repeat of the 1974 race, when Serpentine, an unfancied outsider, was sent into the lead of the race a long way out. None of the other horses followed him, and kept tracking each other and running their own race. They suddenly found themselves with no chance, as Serpentine kept moving at the same speed, and they barely made a dent in his lead. He crossed the line 5+ lengths clear.

It remains to be seen whether Serpentine’s victory was a fluke, made possible by the introversion and collective observational failure of the rest of the jockeys, or whether he genuinely is a top-class racehorse. His breeding suggests that he may be the real deal. We will find out over time.

 

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Anatomy of a confrontation – St Louis MO

UPDATE – 3

A lengthy thread where Greg Doucette, aided by locals who have read zoning legislation and national historic place documentation, explains that while the houses in the subdivision and the subdivision is private, the roads and footpaths are not.

UPDATE – 2

  1. The McCloskeys have a record…of behaving litigiously and confrontationally.
  2. Local demonstrators held a demonstration against them outside the subdivision.
  3. A number of local people in the subdvision are not impressed by the McCloskeys’ behavior.

Conclusion – the principals of McCloskey Law have a track record of being bumptious asshats.

UPDATE – 1

  1. The gated community in question is, for many people in St Louis, a profound illustration of racial and economic divides in the city. It is less than 1 mile from some of the more deprived inner-city neighborhoods.
  2. The lawyer couple have given interviews to local media where they explain why they ended up waving guns all over the place on their front lawn. They have lawyered up already, expecting that they will be investigated by law enforcement, and they clearly intend to invoke the “castle doctrine” defense to any inquiries by law enforcement. (No surprise there). But you have to laugh at this quote from their lawyer’s prepared statement:

“My clients, as melanin-deficient human beings, are completely respectful of the message Black Lives Matter needs to get out, especially to whites,” said lawyer Albert Watkins.

ORIGINAL POSTING

Yesterday, during a street demonstration in St. Louis MO, a couple, who own an early 20th century mansion in central St. Louis, were videoed standing in front of the house waving firearms at demonstrators and shouting at them.

The identities of the house owners were very easy to determine. The house is one of a collection of turn of the century houses that are regarded as local museum pieces. Their house was actually built by a member of the Busch family.

The house owners, no matter which way you parse the video, looked ludicrous. They came steaming out of their house, barefoot, angrily shouting and waving a pistol (the woman) and what looked like an AR-15 (the man). Demonstrators shouted back at the couple. It all looked very edgy, with the potential for something dangerous and possibly fatal to occur.

This is how I initially responded to a snapshot on counter.social:

I was criticised for posting the slam on the couple without knowing all of the facts. So I went off to find out as many facts as I could about the dynamics that led to the confrontation.

The backstory to these events, as usual, is interesting. The demonstrators were in front of the couple’s house because they were trying to get to the house of the Mayor of St. Louis, Lyda Krewson, as part of an attempt to demonstrate against her. She published the names and addresses of citizens last week during a discussion about pushback on the local police. That was regarded by many people as an abuse of power, and a threat to the personal safety of those individuals.

The important fact is that the demonstrators were not interested in the couple’s house, or them personally. In fact, they probably had not even noticed the house, until the couple came charging out waving their firearms.

Missouri law allows for private streets as well as private gated subdivisions. Both the Mayor’s house and the house of the couple are part of the same gated subdivision, with private streets.

There are two gated entrances. As is normal, there are swing gates for motor vehicles, with a side gate for people walking in and out.

The demonstrators can be seen, on video, walking into the sub-division through the side gate of one of the entrances. The side gate did not appear to be locked, and there was no sign of any security personnel to prevent them from entering.

Once inside the subdivision, they were on private property without permission, and therefore trespassing.

There has been a lot of nonsense talked about legal sanctions against the couple, who are personal injury lawyers.

Claims have been made that they can be disciplined by the Missouri bar association. Somehow I do not see that happening. Bar associations almost never discipline members, and expulsions are very rare. Generally, the only way you can be expelled from a bar association is for embezzling clients’ money. Anything else likely will earn you a reprimand or at worst a token suspension. “Behaving like a posturing dick” does not a bar expulsion make.

The next question is whether they could be charged with brandishing a firearm in a threatening manner. Well, yes, there is a statute that covers that. HOWEVER…it is almost certainly overridden (in this case) by Missouri Statute 563.031. This is a classic “stand your ground” statute, and, like most statutes of this type, it is very defendant-friendly. In order to be found guilty of violating the statute, the prosecution has to prove that the homeowner had no logical basis for feeling threatened. I think that is unlikely in this context. Although the demonstrators were not targeting the couple’s house, they were on private property, and there were a number of them. A sympathetic jury will not be convicting the couple on that basis.

Personally, my belief is that the couple can use the incident to actually bolster their marketing credentials. Many personal injury lawyers like to boast of being “tough”, “mean”, and “relentless”. They cultivate an image of bellicose aggression towards The Big Guys, acting on behalf of The Little Guy. What better way to demonstrate your bona fides than by aggressively defending your home against marauding savages…er, demonstrators? I can hear a voice-over now. “We defended our home relentlessly against marauding bands of thugs. We bring the same attitude when we Fight For You”.

I stand by my original reaction. The couple were waving firearms around in a way that tells me that they either never attended a firearm safety course, or if they did they forgot everything about it. The man, at one point, was pointing the AR-15 directly at his wife. The video looked like he was holding her hostage, threatening to shoot her. They looked both ludicrous and stupid at the same time.

I once spent time talking with an ex-military guy about firearms, and something he said stuck with me. He said “these are devices designed to kill people. If you don’t want to kill somebody, you should not point one of these devices at them. Ever”.

Personally, If I was them, I would be asking the management of the subdivision “where the hell was our security”? A group of demonstrators were clearly able to march into the subdivision with no impediment. Given that the demonstration was being publicised on social media, the management company of the subdivision should have been taking precautions.

At a time where the concept of white privilege is finally being discussed seriously, they also looked like exemplars. Their house, both outside and inside, looks like a mini-Versailles. It is huge – 13,900 square feet in size, with tacky and pretentious artwork all over the interior. They then proceeded to look and act every bit like over-privileged, scared people.

Now, thanks to the merging of the internet and the age of phone video, their actions are immortalized, for good bad or ugly.

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Briefs – Monday 30th June 2020

  1. Covid-19

Covid-19 is running up exponentially in Dallas County.

We need another lockdown IMMEDIATELY. We are staying locked down. I wish I could say the same for other people, but not only are a lot of people swanning about without a care in the world, some of them are still not wearing masks.

2. A week of UK government ineptitude in a Thread

Yes, it really is this bad. The government is incompetent, venal and corrupt. And way too many electors in the UK voted for it. Buckle up kiddos, it’s going to be a wild ride. Especially after 1st January 2021, when the full impact of the UK’s departure from the EU is felt for the first time.

The government’s decision to invest up to £500 million in a bankrupt satellite internet service provider looks more foolish the more you examine it. 

Tonight the deadline for the UK to request a Brexit extension passed. The UK is now on the clock and on the path to the original wet-dream outcome of many Brexiteers – a No Deal crash-out at the end of the year.

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