sunday services

Today we have a stirring rant on the evils of homosexuality by David Berzins from the Word of Truth Baptist Church in the Terrible Sand Kingdom of Arizonastan.

If a man also lie with mankind, as hee lyeth with a woman, both of them haue committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shalbe vpon them.  — Leviticus 20:13  KJV (1611)

Well, there you have it.

 

 

it ain’t me babe

OK so here’s the opening salvo of the HRC presidential campaign.

I’ve been through this twice now, which is as much as I can take, and haven’t found one damn thing about it that doesn’t annoy the crap out of me.

OK, given that it’s exactly what one would expect from crunching focus group numbers to target the most valuable electoral demographics—it’s a campaign ad after all—why does it irritate me so much?

Because it means I’m electorally insignificant to these people. I don’t matter to this campaign one damn bit. I’m in the focus group labeled “these people don’t matter”.

I’m not urban. I don’t have a smartphone or a teevee. I think economic growth inextricably linked to resource consumption growth is a problem not a solution. I’m appalled by plastic crap and think that people who buy it by the truckload for their new baby have something wrong with their brains, as do those people who place that upward inflection at the end of their sentences thereby turning perfectly normal statements into questions and who make me want to stab myself in the eye with a fucking pencil.

There are very few circumstances where I think background music is acceptable—even very good music, which this is not. It would take some effort to think of what those circumstances might be, but a supposedly important message from someone wanting to be president of the country with the most destructive military in the history of human affairs is not one of them.

I have no interest in “retiring”. Nor the money, come to that. And while it’s nice that you include the bit about  “the deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top. Everyday Americans need a champion, and I wanna be that champion“, I’m not buying the notion that you’re serious about doing anything substantive about it.

But you don’t care if I’m buying it or not. You’re not talking to me.

 

another one

It had to happen sooner or later and now it looks like it has. A pretty clear video of a cop (white? yes.) just flat shooting some guy (black? yes.) in the back while he’s running away. I don’t want to embed the video, nor have I yet summoned the fortitude to watch it myself, and I’m not sure when or even if I ever will because things like this fill me with a cold fury,  but for those who wish to see it it’s available at the NYT or the Guardian.

The officer here, Michael T. Slager, initially asserted that he fired his weapon because he "felt threatened".

The officer here, Michael T. Slager, initially asserted that he fired his weapon because he “felt threatened”.

 

That cops shoot unarmed people is not news. That cops routinely lie about the circumstances surrounding such shootings is neither unusual nor is it news, though it damn well should be both. That cops lie in courts-of-law is not unusual. That cops tinker with evidence and even plant it is not unusual, and it looks like this is what the video shows;

Michael T. Slager. Charged with murder.

Michael T. Slager. Charged with murder.

The footage was posted online by Charleston’s Post & Courier on Tuesday, and filmed by an anonymous bystander. It appears to show that a stun gun wire has already been deployed, but falls out as Scott runs away from Slager, who pulls out his firearm and shoots until Scott falls to the ground. The officer then walks over to the body and appears to talk into his radio. He reaches the body and shouts: “Put your hands behind your back now, put your hands behind your back”. Scott is motionless, his face down in the ground.

The officer then appears to shout “Put your hands behind your back” again before picking up Scott’s limp arms and placing them in what look like handcuffs.

Slager then moves away from the body and picks up an item from the ground, near where he fired the shots. At this point another officer arrives on the scene and stands over Scott’s body.

Slager walks back over to the body and appears to drop the item he has picked up next to Scott’s body.

This just might be the most unambiguous video evidence to date of something like this. The defense lawyers won’t call it unambiguous of course, but this is first time in my memory that a cop has been formally charged with murder this fast after the event.

ThinkProgress has a piece up by Judd Legum which illustrates exactly what normally happens in situations like this as police departments close ranks and go into damage control mode. This is the original police department account, on Saturday, in the Post and Courier,  before anyone in authority knew of the video’s existence;

Police in a matter of hours declared the occurrence at the corner of Remount and Craig roads a traffic stop gone wrong, alleging the dead man fought with an officer over his Taser before deadly force was employed.

A statement released by North Charleston police spokesman Spencer Pryor said a man ran on foot from the traffic stop and an officer deployed his department-issued Taser in an attempt to stop him.
That did not work, police said, and an altercation ensued as the men struggled over the device. Police allege that during the struggle the man gained control of the Taser and attempted to use it against the officer.

The officer then resorted to his service weapon and shot him, police alleged.

Legum’s piece continues;

By Sunday, the police department had clammed up and refused to release any additional information about the events. (It’s unclear when the department became aware of the existence of the video.)

On Monday, Slager sought to reinforce his narrative, this time releasing a statement through his attorney. From The Post And Courier:

Slager thinks he properly followed all procedures and policies before resorting to deadly force, lawyer David Aylor said in a statement.

“When confronted, Officer Slager reached for his Taser — as trained by the department — and then a struggle ensued,” Aylor said. “The driver tried to overpower Officer Slager in an effort to take his Taser.”

Seconds later, the report added, he radioed that the suspect wrested control of the device. Even with the Taser’s prongs deployed, the device can still be used as a stun gun to temporarily incapacitate someone.

Slager “felt threatened and reached for his department-issued firearm and fired his weapon,” his attorney added.

On Tuesday, the mayor confirmed that Slager would be charged with murder.

This is going to be interesting to watch, because there are two working principles which underpin law-enforcement in much of the US.

First is that the public be afraid to resist or to flee, to do anything other than comply and even if you do that, especially if you’re black, you’re still going to be shitting bricks.

Second is that the law-enforcement officers themselves are not unduly afraid of being held accountable when they act like Al Capone. A high level of confidence among the rank and file that they will not be held accountable to anything like the same degree as ordinary “civilians” is an absolutely indispensable part of stability in the chain of command in many a police department. All the more so since police departments began to increasingly resemble military special forces, both visually and in tactics.

n-NORTH-CHARLESTON-SHOOTING-large-1

Still need the handcuffs, it seems, even after you kill ‘em

Thus if this officer is convicted and sentenced to a substantial penalty, a lot more cops are going to start thinking twice, and more than twice, about shooting people who are running away. Since many cops are not in the physical shape to be chasing after anyone even marginally fleet of foot, more people are thus going to escape arrest, and once that kind of  thing catches on, well, who knows?

So yeah, this case is going to be worth watching. The pressure not to throw this cop under the judicial bus will be enormous, and from high altitude in command chains across the country. The pressure not to have this cop walk with just a slap on the wrist, given how stark the video evidence appears to be, will also be enormous—especially given the context of Ferguson and the DOJ report on police culture corruption.

The last time a video was seemingly as unambiguous as this one was the Rodney King beating years ago. Those cops all walked, and the shit really hit the fan.

If that happens again, here, with a court case in which lawyers convince a jury that what they’re looking at is not what they think they’re looking at, well, batten down the hatches, ‘cos shit will get really ugly.

don’t look at my dick

I’m going to do my best not to have 9thousandfeet become nothing more than the John Oliver fan club, but good is good, and there ain’t much in the way of good happening nowadays. Except for the long awaited baguette recipe that I’ve been working on since this blog first started. It’s close. Any day now, I promise. And it’s easy too, and you don’t have to be French. Or even like the fucking French.

Thing the first; My guess is that anyone cruising by here has likely seen this video already, but some may have only seen the edited-down versions which focus on just the interview with Edward Snowden. If  you’re one of them, that’s a mistake. The whole thing is 33 very worthwhile minutes.

Thing the second; John Oliver is, actually, a genius.

He insists he’s a comedian, and to the degree that he’s goddamn funny that’s true enough. But if we are going to expand the concept of journalism, as Glenn Greenwald and his comment thread groupies so memorably and relentlessly insisted (and for the record I’m not unhappy with the idea of expanding the traditional definition of “journalism”), then this is the finest journalism now happening in the US.

Oliver routinely resists being characterized as a journalist, and using the traditional definition he’s right of course. But we’re not using that, so he’s wrong.

 

Thing the third; What this makes clear is that after all the brouhaha and breathless news coverage which accompanied the original leaks, and after all the heavy breathing in Greenwaldistan, and after all the Pulitzer and Oscar awards and self-congratulatory circle jerks, almost nobody, statistically speaking, gives a shit about Snowden or government overreach.

Just so long as “they” can’t see our dick pics.

We’re going to go through another presidential election campaign season which will arguably set new records for ugliness and rank stupidity (if that’s even possible) and this issue will almost certainly not even be peripheral. Among the institutions which got heavily involved in the Snowden material, the Guardian is rapidly morphing into a slightly less aesthetically disagreeable version of the Huffington Post (Escaped Bison leads Police on a Merry Chase!!),  Glenn Greenwald’s much ballyhooed new perch on Pierre Omidyar’s lap over at the Intercept is arguably falling apart as serious talent abandons ship, and the mighty Greenwald himself is reduced to appearing in an interview with insane conspiracy theorist Glenn Beck to try staying on anyone’s  radar.

And Thing the fourth;  June 1st. The deadline for doing making a decision about extending, or not, the Patriot Act. Mark your calendars and place your bets.

I’m going with the government continuing to collect pictures of everyone’s penis, and with us all learning to live with it by pretending it belongs to someone else.

march madness

March madness, for anyone not familiar with it, refers to the immensely profitable lunacy which surrounds the final stages of the college basketball championship. No thinking person gives a shit about any of this, naturally enough, but nothing wrong with understanding what it’s all about. By contrast with what we’re supposed to think it’s all about, that is.

As is often the case, it takes a comedian to explain things like this with any realism at all, and nobody does this kind of thing better than John Oliver. (His deconstruction of the Net Neutrality issue is simply classic)

Oliver is a comedian by trade, that’s perfectly clear, but  if there is anyone doing more penetrating reportage than this guy right now, I don’t know who it is.

OK, so the basketball “bracket” is all just a bullshit scam, which thoughtful people everywhere already knew of course, but that doesn’t mean all competitive “brackets” are in the same boat. Here’s one with a distinguished internet history which is the real deal; The Competition for the Name of the Year.

Yep, they’re all real names, and yep, the competition is damn tough.

click image to embiggen

click image to embiggen if necessary

Me?

It’s a tough call. For the Final Four, I’m gonna go with Swindly Lint vs Jazznique St Junious, and  Dr Wallop Promthong vs Tunis van Peenen.

(hat tip; kottke)

it’s official

phil3-800x430

Yep, US politics has now officially gone down the rabbit hole completely.

Oh sure, it’s been weird as hell for years now, and politics is always weird anyway, here or anywhere else.  And OK, we’re talking the annual CPAC hate festival and red meat carnival.  But christ on a crutch, look at this, which I present as a verbatim news article;

Duck Dynasty television star Phil Robertson told the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Friday that 110 million Americans were infected with sexually transmitted diseases and that it was “the revenge of the hippies.”

After accepting the Andrew Breitbart Defender of the First Amendment Award, Robertson stepped up to the CPAC podium and pulled out a Bible that appeared to be held together with duct tape.

“In case one of you gets to be president of the United States, make sure you carry your Bible and your woman,” the reality star advised. “I’m just saying, safety. Safety.”

I swear, there’s guys in the editorial offices of The Onion tearing their hair out now.  How the fuck can a satirical operation possibly top that?

“A Bible that appeared to be held together with duct tape.”

Heh. That’s fucking brilliant.

“The Andrew Breitbart Defender of the First Amendment Award…”

Oh right. Breitbart. The internet home of  racist knuckle-draggers from coast to coast.

Oh hell yeah, it goes on;

“I don’t want you to die early!” he exclaimed. “It you’re disease free and she’s disease free, you’re married, you keep your sex right there, you won’t get sick from a sexually transmitted disease! Come on!”

“There is a penalty to be paid from what the beatniks and it morphed into the hippies!” the Duck Commander continued. “What do you call the 110 million people who have sexually transmitted illnesses? It’s the revenge of the hippies! Sex, drugs and rock & roll have come back to haunt us! In a bad way!”

Robertson said that he had done additional research on the CDC website and found out that only one encounter was necessary to contract a sexually transmitted illness.

“How many seconds does it take to get genital herpes?” he asked the CPAC audience. “It said 30 seconds. I’m like, whoa, that’s pretty quick.”

“You want a godly, biblical, medically safe option? One man, one woman, married for life.”

“The Duck Commander continued…”

Holy shit.

Keep in mind this festival of fuckwittery is the annual gathering of those whose approval, or at least absence of hostile opposition,  is the first step for anyone wishing to snag the GOP nomination.

OK, here it is. Come on, you know you want to watch it!

 

 

Money and Time

A while ago I mentioned something about the Time Value of Money, and someone thought I meant by that Time Equals Money, and it seemed interesting, maybe to explain the difference.

Because I also despise the tyranny of people insisting “time = money”. It’s why I gave up being a lawyer decades ago. Couldn’t stand filling out time sheets parceling out my working days (and often evenings) into five minute billable segments.

The time value of money is something very different. It’s basically interest. Which, for most of human history, was considered highly immoral. We all know that Christians were never allowed to charge interest, so the Jews had to do it for them, otherwise how would anyone ever have managed to finance the Renaissance? But of course even the Jews were not allowed to charge other Jews interest, for most of Jewish history; and even now good Muslims are not allowed to charge anyone interest, nor to pay interest to anyone.

Try to imagine a world where interest is not only against the rules, but actually unthinkable. As an idea. Auden tried, and he went mad (or maybe he was already mad and that was the idea upon which his madness chose to lite).

If humans could only lend and borrow money on trust, or for love, or merely to do each other some good, think what a different kind of world it would be. A hell of a lot slower world. A hell of a lot less developed world. We’d probably all still be either mired in feudalism or moving from pasture to pasture as nomads. But maybe there would be categorically fewer of us, and we wouldn’t have stoked the furnace of the biosphere to the point where we are doomed to be incinerated.

In a cheerful new development here in the U.K., political protest itself has been privatized, at least in London, as of last week. Want to march in protest of government action (or in this case inaction, on climate change)? Fine. You still can, but only so long as you pay for all the (expensive) policing, up front. If you don’t pay, and you do march, you are committing a crime. If there was any shred of democracy left here, it has been blown away just now by a very chill wind.