Net Neutrality Passed. Congratulations, Idiots

Congratulations to those who clamored for Net Neutrality. You’ve helped hand control of the internet to a federal agency that, just a few years ago, went absolutely batshit over TV showing less than a second of a forty-five-year-old nipple. Gee, if you only had the foresight to do that in 1995, today we’d have a much smaller, cleaner internet that we’d be accessing with 100k baud dial-up modems.

And it’s all because one multi-billion dollar company we love had a spat with a different multi-billion dollar company we despise. Netflix was sucking down 34% of Comcast’s bandwidth during prime time. Comcast demanded payment, Netflix flipped them off, so Comcast started throttling their signal. The two companies battled and bartered and came to an agreement, which is what companies do, but that provided the impetus to espouse Net Neutrality, a nice sounding phrase that let the government get their nose into the internet tent.

Rather than create a regulation that simply forbid throttling, the FCC used this as an opportunity to expand their tentacles deep into the net. Their regulations are in a 332 page book that, as of this writing, has not been made available to the public. I bet it’s just full of freedom.

 

About a hundred years ago, radio became available to the public. The first stations were licensed by the Department of Commerce. Civilian use of radio was shut down during WWI, ostensibly so the government could use it for the military.

In 1917 Lee De Forest set up a station in New York that broadcast music and news, only to be shut down by the government which declared “there is no place on the ether for entertainment.” Lee moved to San Francisco and started a new radio station in 1918.

Theradio number of stations exploded, and the spectrum was gloriously chaotic. Pretty much anyone could get a license and broadcast whatever they wanted to. Radio became so popular that broadcasters were stepping on each other’s frequencies, so in 1927 the Federal Radio Commission was formed. Instead of just dealing with the problem of interfering frequencies, they declared all stations had to act in the public interest. The name was changed to the Federal Communications Commission in 1934. They weren’t just going to control radio; they were going to control all communications.

As stations proliferated, some became more successful than others. Some banded together into networks, to syndicate content. The FCC broke up some networks, and allowed others to remain intact, essentially picking the winners and losers. Throughout this time, they also regulated content.

When TV came along, they started licensing that, also regulating content. It was essentially illegal to even show a double bed in a married couple’s bedroom. Breaking any of their rules resulted in huge fines and the threat that the station would lose their license.

The Fairness Doctrine required stations to offer equal time to opposing views. Rather than time every opinion or political piece with a stopwatch and carefully doling out equal air time to opposing views, for free, radio simply avoided any controversy. As a result, talk radio consisted of dull shows about gardening and cooking. This changed in 1969, with the Red Lion case, when the Supremes recognized that the first amendment (the one amendment they seem to like and understand) should apply to radio (but not too much). Conservatives, who had been ignored by the mainstream media of the day, seized the opportunity and created talk radio that expressed right, and often far-right, viewpoints. The left is still pissed about this, and some lefties still advocate for a return to the fairness doctrine. They’ve never been fond of free speech.

The FCC continued, and still continues, to regulate content on broadcast radio and TV. Fortunately, their attempts to regulate cable content were defeated. Imagine if they had succeeded. We’d have never seen The Sopranos, Sex and the City, Breaking Bad, or any of the other groundbreaking shows that have flourished on cable, out of their reach.

In a free country, anyone could start a radio station as long as it didn’t interfere with someone else’s station, or nearby electronics. But in the US, licensing and regulations make starting a station prohibitively expensive, creating a huge barrier to entry that guarantees existing stations are spared the trouble of actual competition. When you lament how lame radio has become, be sure to thank the FCC.

 

NN supporters brush aside the immutable Law of Unintended Consequences while endlessly spewig unlikely scenarios that haven’t happened as the reason we need Big Brother to step in. The idea that we shouldn’t fix things that aren’t broken has never appealed to them – their statist mindset and nanny nature compels them to clamor for government to run in and protect them from every imaginary danger. And now they’re getting their way.

Having a hugely powerful, unelected government agency slapping down regulations is going be a disaster. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of our lives. Given their history of censorship and stalling innovation, we can only guess what horrors are in store for us.

But not for that multi-billion dollar company you like. They’ll do just fine.

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Politically Correct Club

It’s great fun to watch progressivism eat itself. (“You can’t perform The Vagina Monologues, because some women don’t have vaginas!”) So when I read Jon Chait’s article “Not A Very P.C. Thing to Say,” my first thought was “Right On!” (Us old people say things like that.) My second thought was “This is going to be fun to watch.” Sure enough, within hours of the article’s publication, the blogosphere exploded with condemnation.

The first rule of Politically Correct Club is “Don’t talk about Politically Correct Club.” Anyone who does will be attacked and vilified for the crime of being self-critical. The article generated a predictable shit-storm of calumny, along with denial of the reality he dared to discuss. As expected, most of the reactions weren’t critiques of the content, but name calling, attacks on his writing style, insisting he’s wrong without explaining why, and vilifying him for the unforgivable sin of being a white male.

Of the several I’ve read, this one is the most entertainingly ironic. He starts out with the required insults: “Jon Chait is a jerk who somehow manages to be both condescending and wounded in his piece on political correctness. He gets the basic nature of language policing wrong, and his solutions are wrong…” He then provides several specific examples of people who were driven from their movement for not being PC enough, proving Jon’s point, perfectly.

Andrew Sullivan is of the few bloggers who didn’t attack Jon – instead he expanded on the central idea of the article.

And the paradox of this within the gay rights movement is an astounding one. For the past twenty years, the open, free-wheeling arguments for marriage equality and military service have persuaded, yes, persuaded, Americans with remarkable speed that reform was right and necessary. Yes: the arguments. If you want to argue that no social progress can come without coercion or suppression of free speech, you have to deal with the empirical fact that old-fashioned liberalism brought gay equality to America far, far faster than identity politics leftism. It was liberalism – not leftism – that gave us this breakthrough.

Ten or twelve years ago I held that opinion that gays should be able to marry, but we should reserve the world “marriage” for heterosexual marriages, and use a different word for gay couples. I said that in a forum, and someone replied, “How well has separate but equal worked in the past?” I realized they were right, and changed my mind almost instantly. They Smartenized me.

Anyone expressing that opinion today will be screamed at, and called a patriarchal privileged cisgendered homophobe. Will that help enlighten them?

***

Observing the reaction to Jon’s article reminded me of an unfinished piece that’s been sitting on my hard drive for too long. Originally intended as an addendum to the Stupid Meter article, it’s a glossary words RadFems and other PC pundits have concocted or perverted. I’m not sure if it’s dated, or appropriate, or both – I’ll leave that for you to decide.

Privilege: Any white male with any advantage of any kind is guilty of abusing their undeserved privilege. Do you have a penis? Then you have privilege. Do you have degree that you worked hard for, and that your parents helped with by working two extra jobs? Privilege. Did you happen to be born white? Then you’re guilty of privilege, you rat-bastard. Do you have some skill or talent that you’ve honed and improved upon? Privilege privilege privilege, and you should be ashamed.

In such conversations, if you replace the word “privilege” with the much more accurate word “advantage,” the entire perspective changes. It becomes more reasonable and realistic. “You got where you are because of privilege” is an insult that says a person’s achievements are undeserved. “You had advantages getting where you are,” is a simple statement of fact. Everyone has different advantages. Some people have more than others. Some are better than others at making the most of whatever advantages they have.

There is no question that being a white male provides significant advantages over any other gender/race combination. But the idea that it guarantees success can be dispelled with a short visit to any WalMart.

Check Your Privilege: Shorthand for, “Shut your honkey yap. You’re privileged and so nothing you say on any subject matters.”

Microaggression: A deep investigation (three seconds on Google) taught me this word was coined in the 70’s to refer to subtle racism. Now it refers to failures of political correctness that are so subtle, minute, trivial, and unintentional, that no normal grown-up would even notice them. But the politically correct are not normal, nor grown up. They devote an inordinate amount of time searching for things to be offended about, finding them everywhere, then endlessly screeching about them.

How long before we hear complaints about Nanoagression? Picoagression?

Cisgendered: The first time I saw this I had to look it up. It’s a technical term psychologists use to describe people whose psychology matches their gender. In other words, males who are happy to be men and females who are happy to be women. In other words, about 99.5% of the population. But now it’s used as an insult, further a proof of “privilege.” If you’re content to be a man or a woman, you should be ashamed of yourself.

Rape Culture: Rapists are universally despised in our culture. Even in prison, other inmates consider them the lowest of the low. The merest hint that someone may be a rapist is enough to destroy their reputation and ruin their life. RadFems insist that somehow this means we live in a rape culture.

There are cultures where women are forced to cover themselves, head to foot, because they believe men are too rapey to control themselves. In some of these cultures, when a woman gets raped, she’s buried her up to her neck and then stoned to death, while her rapist goes free. That is a rape culture, but RadFems pretty much ignore it. They’re too busy redefining oggoling as “stare rape.” Yes, that’s a thing, according to them.

John Cusack playing a love song on a boombox? Rape culture. Seriously.

Mansplaining: Originally, a useful term referring to a man confidently explaining something to a woman who is more knowledgeable about the subject than he is. About twelve minutes after being used, it was co-opted by the left to mean “any time a male opens his mouth.”

Manspreading: A man who sits with is legs apart, especially on public transportation, is guilty of this heinous crime. Yes, it’s rude and inconsiderate on a crowded vehicle if he’s taking up an extra seat, but that’s not what this is all about. A man who doesn’t sit like a woman is deeply, deeply offensive to RadFems.

Mangina: A subspecies of male who, for unfathomable reasons, sides with RadFems.

OK, that’s not a PC word. It’s an anti-PC word that I liked too much to leave out.

Trigger Warning: Any word can trigger an emotional breakdown, so any article or conversation that might upset a RadFem (i.e. pretty much anything) should be preceded by the words, “Trigger Warning.” Neglecting the warning is aggression, and not a mere micoaggression, you insensitive privileged cisgendered scum.

***

PC vocabulary is not intended to improve a conversation. It is intended to condescendingly and smugly shut it down. Unless I’m in a poke-the-village-idiot with-a-stick mood, I’ll give them exactly what they want, and exit the discussion. Pursuing it is simply a waste of time.

It sure can be fun to watch, though.

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Why Mandatory Labeling for GMOs is a Very Bad Idea

When I first wrote first wrote about anti-GMO activists (GMOers) fifteen years ago, they were just beginning to feed their Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) to the general public. Now a substantial percentage of the public has swallowed their nonsense. They’ve succeeded in convincing idiot politicians to ban them in several countries. They haven’t done as well in the US -recently several state referendums to force labeling have failed. But nannies never quit, and they’re still demanding GMO labeling. This is a very bad idea, for several reasons.

Like all nannies and conspiracy theorists, GMOers lie. Constantly, predictably, and compulsively. They have to, since there is no evidence that GMOs have ever caused any harm to anyone’s health or the environment.

Their favorite tactic is the Gish Gallop – spouting an endless stream of bullshit claims in rapid succession. If, like me, you’re foolish enough to debate a GMOer, every time you disprove one of their lies they’ll simply spew another one.

“GM Foods aren’t tested.”

“Actually, they are, thoroughly, before being approved. And there are more than 2000 studies that have found them harmless.”

“But all of those studies have been sponsored by Monsanto or The Government, which is owned by Monsanto.”

“Actually, 600 of them were completely independent.”

“But I have a French study on rats that shows it causes tumors.”

“Actually, that study, the only one that supports your position, has been thoroughly debunked. It was conducted by GMOers, using a very small sample size, on rats that are designed to be tumor-prone, with none of the standard double-blind protocols that are standard in legitimate studies. The journal that published it has retracted it.”

“But you can’t prove GMOs are safe.”

“Actually, you can’t prove anything is safe. That’s not how science works. What you can do is look for dangers, and when extensive testing doesn’t find any, conclude that it’s not dangerous. Can you prove that organic food is safe?”

(Ignoring the question…) But it made Indian farmers commit suicide.”

“Actually, the data doesn’t bear that out, let me explain. . .”

“Do you know you use the word ‘actually’ an awful lot?”

“Actually, that’s the first true thing you’ve said.”

Over the past twenty years, billions of people have eaten trillions of meals containing GMOs. Among all those people eating all those meals, GMOers can’t point to a single instance of anyone ever being harmed by them. Not one. The bottom line is there is no evidence, not even a little, that GM foods are dangerous.

Their ignorant activism is far from harmless. It is directly responsible for millions of deaths.

Vitamin A deficiencies are a huge problem in many parts of Africa. Every year it results in a million children to going blind, and causes a half a million deaths. One promising solution is Golden Rice, which has been genetically modified to provide the missing vitamin, and will be gifted to small farmers. It’s taken twelve years to develop, and still isn’t in use, because GMOers have been fighting it, including by destroying test crops. Each year of delay has cost a million lives and resulted in a half million more blind kids.

Affluent countries banning GMOs has resulted in hungry countries refusing thousands of tons of donated food. They’ve been scared into believing donations might contain GMOs, and those GMOs might get into the food supply, and that would make it impossible for them to export to countries that have banned them. Donated food and seeds that have been accepted have been destroyed by locals who have fallen for GMOer propaganda.

Here, then, are five reasons mandatory GMO labeling is a Very Bad Idea.

5) Given the safety of GMOs, it’s completely unnecessary. GMOers insist they have a right to know if their food contains any GMO components, but they can avoid them simply by buying food labeled Organic, which, by definition doesn’t contain GMOs.

4) No one is preventing voluntary labeling. Some food producers are already labeling their products as GMO Free. This not only provides information for the luddites, but makes it easy for rational people to avoid their products, to avoid contributing to the hysteria.

3) It would lend credibly to GMOer propaganda. “If they’re not dangerous, why are they labeled?

2) It would be enormously expensive. Corn, wheat, soybeans and other commodities are shipped and stored in bulk, mixed together from various farms. Seperating GMO and non-GMO commodities would require separate, duplicate facilities, which would more than double storage and transportation costs.

And the #1 reason: It would cater to the real motive of GMOers movement – destroying the market for good, inexpensive, healthy food. Here are a few quotes from movement leaders:

Personally, I believe GM foods must be banned entirely, but labeling is the most efficient way to achieve this. – Dr. Joseph Mercola, operator of the junk-science site Mercola.com

By avoiding GMOs, you contribute to the tipping point of consumer rejection, forcing them out of our food supply. – Jeffrey Smith, Founder, Institute for Responsible Technology

The industry’s not stupid. The industry knows that if those foods are labeled ‘genetically engineered,’ the public will shy away and won’t take them. – Jeremy Rifkin – a fear-mongering activist nanny who is consistently wrong about everything

The burning question for us all then becomes how – and how quickly – can we move healthy, organic products from a 4.2% market niche, to the dominant force in American food and farming? The first step is to change our labeling laws. – Ronnie Cummins, Director, Organic Consumers Association

Ignorance is easier to spread than knowledge – far too many people prefer sensational, nonsense claims to clear science. Labeling is designed to foster ignorance.

Let’s pick reality instead.

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Please Punish Us Some More

Most police temper tantrums result in one of us mundanes being murdered or maimed, but the latest hissy fit by NYPD has, much to their embarrassment, been a very good thing for citizens.

NYPD cops are now ignoring most of the trivial “offenses” committed by citizens. The numbers have been widely reported. Compared to the same week last year, citations for traffic violations are down from 10,069 to 587, a 94% decrease. Summonses for offences like public intoxication and urination went from 4,831 to 300, another 94% decrease. This week last year cops wrote 14,699 parking tickets; this week, 1,241. And drug arrests dropped 84%, from 382 to 63. Total arrests are down 66%.

That’s more than 27,000 fewer tickets and citations levied on citizens. In one week. 27k citizens were able to go about their business, peacefully doing whatever, without having their day ruined, their wallets raided, or their rights infringed.

Please, please, punish us some more.

The NY POST loves loves LOVES the police. A cop could rape a baby in Times Square, then eat the corpse raw, and The Post would find something praiseworthy in the story. One of their early headlines: “Crime Wave Engulfs New York Following Execution of Cops.” But despite this “crime wave” everything is functioning normally in NYC. There has been no rise in actual crimes, i.e crimes with victims.

 

Most observers in Ferguson said the protests were peaceful until the cops started attacking the crowds with tear gas and threats. Nashville cops took a very different approach. They treated the protesters calmly and respectfully, even serving them snacks. When a citizen wrote to the police chief, Steve Anderson, and criticized his peaceful handling of the situation, he responded with a long, thoughtful letter than explained his vision of a cop’s job. He wants his cops to be Peace Officers, instead of Law Enforcers. His letter went viral, and was highly praised by everyone who chews with their mouth closed.

In the year 2013, our officers made over four hundred thousand vehicle stops, mostly for traffic violations. A citation was issued in only about one in six of those stops. Five of the six received warnings.

That is some fine police work. In most cases a warning for a traffic violation is going to be just as effective in changing behavior as a ticket. It’s not necessary to suck a chunk of money out of someone’s budget for them to get the point. We could use a more cops like him.

 

This is a teaching moment for NYC Cops. Although their snit was inspired by childishness, rather than any desire to improve the lives of the communities they infest, there is a slight possibility they could wake up and realize they’re the ones creating most of the problems they’re “solving.” If they take just a moment to listen to our response to their slowdown, they could finally start to understand what citizens want from the police. It’s not complicated, or unreasonable.

We are tired of being treated like criminals and revenue spigots for the sole purposes of fattening the public coffers and making cops feel manly. We are tired of seeing lives ruined, or ended, by aggressive, unaccountable police.

We want cops to at least try to protect us from Actual Bad Guys who hurt and defraud people. We want to see the murders and rapists and thieves locked away from us. And we want to see cops who commit monstrous crimes punished as thoroughly as citizens who commit minor ones. Start doing that, officers, and you’ll start actually deserving the respect you demand.

Will they take it to heart? Probably not. They haven’t stopped harassing us because they know the policies are wrong; they’re pouting. When their tantrum subsides, as all tantrums do, it’s more likely they’ll gleefully return to ruining people’s days, and sometimes lives, over trivia. Hell, they may even ramp it up to make up for lost time.

But it’s a teaching moment for us, too. We’re all learning just how unnecessary these intrusions into our lives are. We’re seeing how life improves dramatically when cops back off. We’re seeing exactly what happens with fewer cops bothering us over stupid crap – everything gets better.

It’s a start.

Update: The NYPD continued their slowdown for a second week. The New York Times has responded by reaffirming their love of Big Brother. They are furious at the cops for refusing to harass New Yorkers for trivial offenses. The title of the editorial is “No Justice, No Police.” Shaking down citizens is, in their opinion, justice.

They could have pointed out that another 24k NYC citizens went about their lives peacefully, without being harassed for trivia. They could have concluded that this proves the primary purpose of the NYPD is revenue generation, not protection. They could have talked about the fact that no one was strangled by cops for some minor crime.

Instead, they said labeled it as “a reckless, coordinated escalation of a war between the police unions and Mr. de Blasio and a hijacking of law-enforcement policy by those who do not set law-enforcement policy.” They call it a “deplorable gesture.” The refer to it as a “madness [that] has to stop.”

I looked for the by-line, expecting to see it was written by some well-known boot-licker, but it lists the authors as “The Editorial Board.” The entire board is appalled at the increased freedom NYC citizens are now enjoying.

I hope everyone on the board gets a traffic ticket on the way home.

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Cameras On Cops Won’t Change Anything. Here’s Something That Could.

For the past couple of years I’ve been obsessed with stories of cops murdering and maiming citizens and never being held accountable for it. The scenarios are always the same, and have happened literally thousands of times:

A cop maims or murders a citizen who was doing nothing wrong, or perhaps suspected of some minor infraction.

The cop is given a paid vacation while the police investigate themselves.

The local news covers the story, and often gleefully vilifying the victim. The mainstream media ignores it.

The “investigation” determines the cop acted appropriately, and he goes back on the streets.

It often ends there, but if there is enough public outcry, the prosecutor may send the case to the grand jury. Grand juries, who are famous for indicting nearly everyone brought before them, almost never indict a cop. The cop goes back on the streets.

In the extremely rare case where the cop is indicted, a jury that includes people with ties to the police nearly always declares him not guilty. The cop goes back on the streets.

In the extremely, extremely rare case where a cop is convicted, he is given a pathetically light sentence.

After the cop is cleared in one of these steps, there is an inevitable civil suit. Civil courts are not controlled by prosecutors, so the victims (or their surviving family members) usually win, and six and seven figure judgments are common. In every case, the money is paid by the taxpayers, not the cops who caused the damage.

This scenario has been played out thousands of times. Each incident reinforces what cops already know: they can do whatever they want with no fear of recrimination. The odds of them ever receiving any punishment, regardless of the egregiousness of their crimes, are so small they are virtually non-existent.

I’ve been waiting, for years, for the mainstream media to cover the story of these thousands of murders and maimings. It finally happed with Ferguson, which is unfortunate, because the facts of that case are not clear-cut (partly because the police have intentionally obfuscated them). However, the cases of Eric Garner and John Crawford are clear-cut – the cops murdered those men. And the grand juries, of course, cleared them of any wrongdoing.

This has been going on for decades. It appears to be escalating, but we can’t be sure. A twenty-year-old federal law requires police departments to report such incidents to the justice department, but most cops ignore this law the same way they ignore every other law. The only things bringing these incidents to light are citizens with video cameras, recording the events in often-horrific detail.

Obama wants to spend a quarter of a billion dollars to put cameras on every cop. Cop cameras have been implemented in a few jurisdictions, and seem to have a slightly calming effect on testosterone-infected officers, but not enough to make a significant difference. It’s common for the cameras to “malfunction” just moments before a cop goes Rambo on a citizen. More importantly, cops don’t appear to care about video evidence. Why should they? Clear and convincing videos proved the cops murdered Eric Gartner and John Crawford, but it didn’t matter, not even a little, to the fate of the murderers. They’re still free.

Changing the system is a pipe-dream. Cops are the violent arm of The State, and The State will do everything it can to protect them. Prosecutors will do everything possible to exonerate them. Grand juries will keep setting them free. It’s simply not possible to create effective change in the tens of thousands of jurisdictions in the US.

Citizen review boards are toothless, and a waste of time. All they can do is make recommendations, which are summarily ignored.

Calls for police to pay for their own liability insurance, which would become unaffordable after a large judgment or two, sound workable, but the police unions will never allow it.

Special state or federal prosecutors, assigned to handle police violence, sound like a good idea. But they’d still be an arm of the state, and are unlikely to make any real difference. The most we could hope for would be a couple of extra convictions before they become as complicit in the violence as the rest of the system.

But there is one thing that could dramatically reduce police violence, rather quickly.

The Supreme Court created the legal doctrine of “qualified immunity,” which removes personal responsibility from violent cops and transfers the liability to the local government. Removing qualified immunity and making cops financially responsible for the judgments against them, would cause a rapid change in police interactions with citizens.

Currently, cops have no reason to fear any repercussions for their actions, no matter how egregious. Making them personally responsible for civil judgments would give them a powerful incentive to act like peace officers, instead of the unaccountable standing army they’ve become.

Imagine what would happen the first time a cop has to sell his house and vehicles, empty his bank accounts, and liquidate his pension to pay off a multi-million dollar judgment.

Police all over the country will howl. They’ll claim it will make cops hesitate before gunning down one of us, which could get them killed. They’ll set up a crowd-funding site to mitigate the damage. (Officer Wilson made over $400k for shooting Brown. The head of the organization that raised the money was also the prosecutor in the case.) They’ll preach about how dangerous and vital their job is, and how nobody on the outside can understand it.

The second time it happens they’ll do the same. And the third and the forth times as well. But when the count gets higher, when a dozen of their brothers in blue have been impoverished for their violence, they’ll realize that things have finally changed, and now, for the first time in decades, there are consequences for their brutality.

They’ll think twice about conducting a 4 a.m. SWAT raid on a citizen’s home based on the claims of some unreliable informant. Maybe they’ll cancel it completely. At the very least, they’ll make sure they’re at the right address. They’ll pause before smashing someone’s face into a concrete wall. They’ll take a moment to consider alternatives to emptying their guns into one of us. They’ll try to come up with a peaceful solution to a situation, instead of immediately escalating it into a violent encounter. Hell, they may even shoot fewer dogs.

The most violent gang in the country will have no choice but to chill out a bit, quite a bit, and we’ll all be safer than we are now.

And the good cops, the ones who really do try to protect and serve? It will have no effect on the way they do their jobs.

A side benefit will be a reduction of public anger. The marches and protests we’re seeing are the direct result of cops getting away with whatever they do. Seeing them actually punished will have a strong calming effect on the community. It would be great to see bad cops go to jail, but since that’s not going to happen, we may be satisfied seeing them living in ratty apartments and driving a twenty-year-old beaters for the rest of their lives. Imagine the joy of seeing the cops who murdered Kelly Thomas becoming homeless themselves.

The beauty of this solution is the ease of implementing it. We don’t have to change a broken, unfixable system, or spend billions of dollars on solutions that won’t change anything. All we have to do is eliminate the qualified immunity doctrine. Simple. Straightforward.

And very, very satisfying.

 

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Farewell, Sammy

With the possible exception of a few human beings, dogs are the finest creatures on the planet. Having a dog makes life much better, so losing a dog makes life much worse.

I’ve shared my life with lots of different dogs, and every time I’ve lost one I’ve cried like a toddler. I’m crying as I write this, because I just lost the best dog I ever had, Sammy.

JillandSamedited

Before Sammy we had Jenny, a rescue Black Lab we adopted when she was about a year old. She had a sweet disposition, but obviously had been abused. We never hit her, of course, but if you made quick movements around her she’d flinch, always.

Jenny was diagnosed with cancer, and given only a few weeks to live. My father-in-law, Art, went to a supermarket where someone was giving out black lab puppies. They were a compromised litter from a breeder. An unknown dog had broken into the kennel and impregnated Sam’s mom, so she gave birth to a litter of mutts. We never knew for sure what mix of breeds he was. He was obviously Black Lab, but we think he had some Golden Retriever. Some people said he looked like a Flat Coat Retriever.

It would have been cruel to introduce a new puppy into the house during Jenny’s last days. Sam was Art’s dog for the month or so before Jenny made her final visit to the vet.

From day one, it was obvious that Sammy had more style and personality than most other dogs. He had boundless energy, and loved to run, especially to play fetch. One of his favorite activities was getting the morning paper. We’d look at him, say, “Paper?” and he’d run to the door, eager to get it for us. Several times we postponed canceling the paper (consistent delivery is well beyond the capabilities of the Times Union) just so Sam could have the pleasure of retrieving it.

He was a big dog, a hundred and ten pounds of mutt, and was aggressively friendly. He sometimes scared strangers, wanting to jump up and lick their faces, but most people immediately took a liking to him. He had several dog-friends in the neighborhood, and loved playing with them.

sam in the snow_small

He was so good-natured it was impossible to discipline him. You’d try giving him the stern Bad Dog Lecture, and he’d stare at you wagging his tail, delighted you were paying attention to him.

He had a strange reaction to riding in a car. While most dogs love it, sticking their head out the window, he dealt with it with resignation, laying down in the back seat and not paying any attention to what was going on outside. We never could figure out why.

His favorite thing was sticks. Big sticks, little sticks, but especially big sticks. The bigger the better. I once cut down a twelve-foot sapling in the yard, and gave it to him. He pranced around with it like he had just conquered the world. Whenever we went for walks he had to have a stick in his mouth. We referred to them as his walking sticks.

There is a paved path near our house, a very long stretch that used to be railroad tracks. It was his favorite place for walks, and when the weather was nice we took him there nearly every day. He loved the water, and the woods off the path provided him with streams to prance in. Another part of the path is lined with ditches that fill with water after rainstorms. He would get on one end of the ditch, run-splash to the other end, then turn around and run back, drenching himself in the process. We had a cupboard full of old bath towels that were “Sammy towels,” used to dry him when we returned home.

Strolling casually down the path while enjoying a fine cigar and watching Sam blast through every pool and puddle was a sublime pleasure. I don’t know which of us enjoyed it more.

He was well-known in the neighborhood, and in our whole village. We’d take him for walks through the village and everyone had to say hello to him. People we didn’t even know somehow knew him and would greet him by name.

He loved neckerchiefs. When we put a fresh one on him he’d prance around with a “Hey, Look At Me” attitude.

And he had a sense of humor. If he did something that made you laugh, he’d immediately do it again.

About a year ago, he started having leg problems. Our vet, Dr. Desiree Thibeault (a wonderful woman who has kept our various pets healthy for the past twenty years) said it was a problem with the joints in his hind legs not being connected quite right. We had to curtail his running, and be very careful with him. Since running was his thing, it wasn’t easy, but over time his leg got better.

About a month ago he got very weak and despondent. So weak he couldn’t walk. My wife, Nona, sewed a stretcher for him and we took him to the vet. The vet said he was bleeding internally, probably from a ruptured growth on his spleen, and his weakness was due to a very low red blood cell count. She kept him for a couple of days, then sent him home with meds and instructions to help nurse him back to health.

His recovery was slow, but after about two weeks he was getting better. We celebrated Thanksgiving early, and when we had a house full of people last Sunday he was almost perky.

And then he went downhill. Walking because more difficult for him with each passing day. The vet had told us to feed him liver, lightly cooked, as a source of iron. I have never cooked anything so disgusting – it was like frying a slug, and stunk up the whole house. When he first came home from the vet, he loved it, but as he got sicker, he refused it. He had no interest in the dry dog food he’d been eating for years, so I made him different things to try to get him to eat. Greasy cheeseburgers. Scrambled eggs with ham and cheese. turkey left-overs.  Sometimes he’d eat, but more often he’d just turn away from the plate.

I’ll spare you the details of his last couple of days. Describing them would be gross and unpleasant and unnecessary. Suffice it to say we knew he was bleeding internally again. Yesterday it became apparent he was never going to get any better, so this morning we put a fresh neckerchief on him and took him for his final visit to the vet.

Thank you, Art, for picking out Sam for us. Thank you Desiree, for taking care of him for ten years. Thanks to all my friends and neighbors who made him the prince of the neighborhood.

And thank you Sam, for all the love and laughter and pure delight you gave us for a decade. I’ve owned good dogs, and great dogs, but you were the Best Dog I’ve ever had, and probably the last dog I’ll ever have. I’ve cried for every dog I’ve lost, but I’ve been crying longer and harder for you than I ever have before.

Farewell, my dear friend. You made our lives so much better, and so much more fun.

I will miss you forever.

 

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Herfing With The Smartenizer – Life, Liberty, and Proper Tea

I just did an interview on the Life, Liberty and Proper Tea podcast. We talk (and disagree somewhat) on source of rights, touch on understanding statistics, then move on to the subject of Nicotine Nannies, and how they’ve inspired other nannies with different causes. From there we discuss the joys and risks of tobacco, and why smoke filled rooms are a good thing.

Check it out.

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