Monday, May 31, 2010

Marriott Continues Cuteness.

As I discussed earlier, the folks at Marriott got just a bit cute with NRA attendees staying in their facilities and with folks holding side-events to the NRA convention at their facilities - setting them up, after taking their money, for potential felony charges.

To their surprise, things went viral. Seems the designated targets not only took exception, but they and their friends are spreading the word here and elsewhere with coverage on most major blogs and in national venues (since the venomous bigotry was aimed at "icky gun people", the national traditional media seems largely unable to detect said misbehavior).

Boycotts are firing up, starting with the folks at Grass Roots North Carolina. Apparently, effective boycotts and negative PR, given Marriott's subsequent actions.

A BIG LIE. Marriott announced they'd take down all the nasty signs and wouldn't be naughty anymore. As Examiner Paul Valone documents, for Marriott there is apparently a huge difference between what they say and what they do - for us common folks, we call that sort of thing fraud and deceit (but to be really sure, run it past your attorney).

Apparently their current course is based on the theory if they just babble on long enough and loud enough, gun owners will somehow forget Marriotts ongoing fun and games and come back, bringing their checkbooks with. Not likely.

In the meantime, where's the NRA? Granted, their website is a truly godawful piece of slow-loading kludge on anything less than a T1, but still - they are the 800lb gorilla.

When do we see a statement across all NRA sites along the lines of:

We at the NRA are vastly disappointed by the ill-considered conduct by the staff and corporate leadership of Marriott in Charlotte during our convention and subsequently. We recognize and respect the right of private property owners to set policy, however bigoted and ill-advised, on their own property. We also support the right of our members, affiliates, and allies to take their business and their dollars to persons that do not engage in discrimination against our members, including varieties of discrimination that could be considered entrapping our members in felonies. We encourage all persons opposed to bigotry and bait and switch tactics to do business with any other hotel or motel than Marriott at all our future events, staying in tents, if necessary as superior lodgings to those available from such a duplicitous organization. We regret this necessity, but for the legal protection of our members, we must post this recommendation until further notice.

Mr. LaPierre, your podium is waiting....

Thursday, May 27, 2010

TSA, hard at work...

On liberal oil spill rants

In response to a liberal rant on Obama's inaction and the innate evil of BP (and their alleged inaction, being far to busy rampaging in a Scrooge McDuck-like vault to actually respond the Gulf oil spill).

For good or ill, regulations are seldom *ever* forward looking.

They most often are formulated in a post-disaster/post-political embarrassment environment where "looking busy and important" does more for a politicians chances of re-election or a bureaucrats chances of advancement than "Let's sit down, think this through, and after a detailed analysis of what we could do better next time, examine all the worst case scenarios we can imagine, and *based in reason and on evidence* develop a set of precautions, reaction procedures, and oversight abilities that give us a better bet against this kind of disaster, or barring that, cleaning up the next one"

"Let's just do something, dammit!" feels good, but can and often does lead to making things worse. And frankly, the last thing the experts on the scene need (the BP folks who *do this for a living and for whom making it work is a livelihood*) is the nightmare of a presidential visit with all the security drama, distractions, and strains on already stressed resources. (ed., not to mention that if the frontline oil folks screw up, they are ALSO at the front of the line to get suddenly dead in the event of a rig seems reasonably to suspect a certain enthusiasm for care, caution, and safety.)

I may not like or support Obama, but staying away is the best thing he can do in this instance. A Presidential visit isn't always a beneficial thing.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Lesson of the Day: Don't Screw the Unconsenting

Example the First: How's that working for you, Cycles & More?

Example the Second: Does litigation make it better, T&J Towing?

Just a hint. No matter what you, as a business owner or employee may have gotten away with in the past, this is a whole new world. Offend a customer, and become a star of the blogworld, on Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, and more - a whole new level of negative fame.

Try litigating your opponent into silence, and watch your business implode, as the 'net community responds to what is perceived as an attack on freedom of speech.

Your business (and very possibly personal) history will be examined and published, every complainant you've ever had will suddenly be talking to each other (and comparing notes and attorneys while raising their united voices in publicly retelling their tales of woe regarding your business and the essential vileness of your business practices in their eyes).

This will not be good. The balance of power has shifted. The Better Business Bureau was...annoying...if you weren't a good business critter, but it was fairly toothless and most folks couldn't be bothered to check your business with them before *doing* business with you. Lifting a phone was too much effort.

A quick Google search, on the other hand, is a lot easier. And folks are doing them more and more. Or checking out Yelp.

Cycles and More of southern Louisiana, over a year later, in a simple Google search pulls up Ambulance Drivers blogpost as the sixth result - and gee whiz, it sure wouldn't inspire me to rush right over and do business with them. For a long while, AD's post was *first* in Google listing for Cycles and More.

Our second example, T&J Towing out of Michigan, when googled generates the Facebook UnLove group dedicated to them and their practices as the FIRST result. Again, not a really great business promotion.

If it's not screaming obvious yet, the wrong thing to do is get all pissy about matters. If you are at fault, or could reasonably be viewed as such - think very seriously about apologizing, then making the matter right...or you, too, could be watching your business implode as the offended customers version of events blazes across the internet like a wildfire on a gasoline-soaked prairie.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

What do we want from the NRA in a convention?

Charlotte was a mistake, a substantial one. From the moment the NRA knew the Convention Center was no-carry and that even restaurants were carry-hostile for even the concealed carry crowd, Charlotte should have been a no-go.

Bad words should have been said, tearing at hair performed, and general dismay expressed - and then a press release distributed that the NRA was horribly, horribly, sorry...but that it would be, based on the hostile welcome the city offered the NRA's members, be holding 2010 elsewhere - even holding it on the Burning Man site, complete with Tents & RV's as convention facilities, would have been a screaming improvement.

Fortunately, contrary to the NRA spin, there are a number of *other* cities (not just two or three) that could accommodate the convention. Houston, Dallas, Oklahoma City, Phoenix, Albuqueque - heavens, even Seattle would be friendlier to folks attending with both open-carry and CPL options (check who Seattle is reciprocal with, and with due notice, you can either bag a permit or go open carry if your state isn't listed).

There are plenty of convention-ready cities (or, if necessary, large flat pieces of ground) that welcome us and our cash. We'd like to support them.

We want a convention where we are not disarmed - not in the event facility, not in our hotels, and not when we're out and about or seeking a bite to eat.

As covered elsewhere, Marriott in Charlotte got cute with NRA members and other attending folks - placing them at significant legal risk. According to various reports, this is apparently a corporation wide problem.

We want to be warned of risks and of vendors that would abuse or cheat us. And while we're at it, we'd like to know who our friends are so we can spend money with them.

Anything else we should be asking for, folks?

After all, once we realize the NRA screwed up significantly, and tell them so, it's part of our responsibility to offer some hints on how to do better going forward.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Soap Box, Ballot Box, Jury Box, Bullet Box

You know, I'd really like to not see our nation making political decisions using either of the last two boxes in my lifetime (or, frankly, my nieces).

Current events are not, however, causing me wild optimism. One can, after all, only piss into the wind for so long before growing damp and funky-smelling - no matter how enthusiastically one goes about the project.

Will there still be blogs?

I don't have quite the gift of Stingray at such things...but, given this, I'll give it a whirl.

You pig-fucking, monkey-fellating, scat-fondling, snake-rimming unpatriotic nimrods. You treasonous, cretinous wretches - have you grown bored with fondling yourselves and your interns? We've grown used to your having the morals of rabid badgers in heats, the ethics of a rattlesnake, and the appetites, intellects, and sensible attitudes of rhinoceri with severe mental deficits. But you go to far.

I write my blog, and I write it to please me. If folks give me money or sponsor me, that is between me and PERHAPS my readers. Buyer beware, and anyone without enough skepticism, particularly in a nation accursed with you and your ilk as what passes for a leadership class, to consider the possibility is likely to stupid to worry about.

That you rock-headed dipshits, you dingleberries on the body politic, have simultaneously erupted into public office not unlike a veritable plague of pustulent boils upon the buttocks of the nations citizenry is to some extent our fault as citizens.

We have let you buy us off with bread and circuses, with baubles, and then baffle us with bullshit - as it's been a very long time indeed since any significant number of you asshats have had what it takes to blind us with your brilliance. We have bought into it as you've thrown sops to various special interest groups and spent the majority time posturing, junketing, and looking busy.

Now, with the DISCLOSE Act winding its way through once-august halls now sullied by your very presence, that vile bit of legal deception attempting to evade the First Amendment in a transparent attempt to silence your critics in the blogosphere and elsewhere, simultaneously seeks to reward those that wave pom-poms as you hie about your treachery.


We will not be silent, nor will we be silenced. I, and other like-minded persons, will write on the 'net and elsewhere, speak as we wish, and do so as we drive you like diseased vermin towards the ballot box where you will be driven from office - in all likelihood, all too often, the good with the bad, but so be it. None of you are indispensable, and every incumbent is now suspect.

November is coming. Start making retirement plans.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Getting Cute in Charlotte - Marriott Bait'n'Switch, With Fangs

With news breaking post-convention at Workmans blog and over at the Charlotte Examiners blog, it becomes apparent that Manager Jim Diehl and his staff of the Charlotte Mariott City Center have been very naughty indeed.

It seems that after several hundred NRA convention goers made reservations to stay at the Marriott and, in addition, Grass Roots North Carolina also held its “Gala for Gun Rights” on Friday night at the location. GRNC had, in fact, by all accounts carefully verified in advance that Marriott was not one of the many gun-free zones that make Charlotte a deeply undesireable city for 2A conventions and events.

Subsequent to taking payment and check-in of said guests and organization (estimated at over $100,000), on Friday night, during the Gala, Diehl and his minions posted the hotel as a no-firearms zone using quickie computer printed signs and scotch tape to hit all the entrances - instantly criminalizing those present and placing them at risk of prosecution if they were in possession of firearms on the premises.

Such prosecution would place them at risk of imprisonment, fines, and loss of their Concealed Pistol Licenses.

As a bonus, the hotel had hand-outs on its front desk actively encouraging visitors to place themselves in legal jeopardy by asserting the patently false notion that firearms could be checked/stored at the Charlotte Convention Center - a center where possession of firearms, regardless of intent, is a criminal act as verified by Workman. So, following these directions, armed guests would rush up to Center security, announce they had a gun to check, and then be at risk of arrest, imprisonment, and seizure of their firearm.

Very. Naughty. Indeed.

I will leave it to the attorneys in the community to determine with certainty if such action rises to the level of criminal conduct (Bait'n'switch? Fraud?) though my lay suspicions certainly leave me rather curious if those merry boundaries were crossed by Diehl and company.

Similarly, though as a lay person, I suspect that grounds for civil litigation exist...but would rather leave that fight to the lawyers, though I will be gleefully cheering on the attack lawyers should such occur.

I do suggest that, from a purely ethical view, that the folks at Grass Roots North Carolina and every NRA-attending guest affected by Diehls unacceptable actions are due a refund in full of all funds they expended staying or putting on an event at the Marriott during the time period in question. As a lay person, I suspect the argument could be made for such action on a legal basis, and would encourage the affected to seek counsel from appropriately licensed persons.

Subsequent to the event, Workman and Valone tell us, Marriott made a series of excuses, and when faced with public pressure made a rather mealy-mouthed and essentially worthless apology while claiming it will never happen again in a call to a High Road participant.

Not enough. Not nearly enough. Full refunds, public apologies, and then a restitution campaign to make good the risk the individuals and organizations were placed at by Marriott's bad faith (my opinion, ymmv) actions.

If individuals had actually been arrested, more punitive measures would, in my opinion have been appropriate. Marriott should be grateful that did not occur as a result of their actions, and that their liability, through no fault of their own, was minimized.

From the point of view of the activist, I can only urge folks to take actions to minimize their risk while taking every possible action to provide Marriott with a "learning moment".

Don't stay or hold an event at a Marriott facility if it is practically avoidable - until the conditions above have been met, they should likely be considered as dangerously untrustworthy. A tent is a better, and likely legally less risky, choice.

If you can't avoid Marriott for your event (i.e., if it's the only game in town), ensure your rental or event contract specifically bans such conduct with specified and prohibitively punitive penalties for violation - and specified compensation for damaged individuals. Or hold your event in a field or parking lot. Or put it off a year. In my opinion, it's just not a good risk.

If an opportunity comes up in your life to steer other, non-gun related events or business away from Marriott - Carpe Diem! Seize the day, and drive business elsewhere by any lawful means. It can be as simple as simply steering company travel away or as dramatic as pulling a convention previously scheduled. There are, after all, plenty of other hungry hotel chains out there in todays economy.

Finally, don't give up hope. Don't be quiet, shrug your shoulders, and assume there's nothing to be done. In just one day after folks got home, caught their post-event breath, Marriott has already *begun* to realize the depth of their faux pas.

That's due to folks like you blogging about this, writing and calling Marriott, and generally raising havoc over their bad actions. The time to smile and take it is long past on many fronts, of which this is but one - today is the day to burst forth in your very own personal rendition of Twisted Sisters "We're not going to take it, anymore" while reaching for pen, pocketbook, and keyboard.

To contact Marriott (with thanks to Valone for the contact data):

E-mail Charlotte Marriot City Center General Manager Jim Diehl at or fax him at (704) 358-6522 and let him know that until you receive an apology and a notification that postings have been removed, you and everyone you know will be avoiding the hotel.
  • Call Marriott Corporate Communications at (301) 380-7770 and leave a message for Kathleen Matthews, Executive Vice President, Global Communications and Public Affairs, letting her know that Marriott will be held accountable for the actions of its hotel in Charlotte, whether or not the hotel is a franchisee.

  • Contact Marriott Customer Care at or (888) 236-2427 and deliver the same message that you will not use any Marriott until the problem is resolved;

  • If you are a Marriott shareholder, contact Investor Relations at:

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

And so it begins...

One of the key rules in politics and in life is to never push an enemy into so far into a corner that they either have no reasonable way out, or believe they have no reasonable way out. A good corollary of nearly equal importance is that you should always try and leave a surviving opponent with a reasonable amount of "face" and dignity.

The current administration and their co-conspirators are apparently unaware of these rules, or seriously underestimate the character and number of folks they are angering.

Scott Brown's victory in Massachusetts was a *hint*. So was the public rejection at the Utah GOP convention of Senator Bob Bennett as that parties fall candidate for the Senate race.

Tonight, we see the eviction of 45 year Senate inhabitant and party-jumper, Arlen Specter in the Pennsylvania primary. In Kentucky, Rand Paul took out the GOP establishment candidate handily. A Democrat narrowly squeaked by in the special election to fill Murtha's House seat.

Both parties need to worry, but, the (D) probably needs to worry more. There's a notably cranky giant out there, twitching in his slumber...and he may or may not be terribly discriminate about party membership when he lays about him with his terrible swift sword come the elections this fall.

The GOP would be well advised to start aligning itself with Libertarians and folks in the Tea Party movement - or risk becoming irrelevant.

Monday, May 17, 2010

NRA 2010...a passing thought on the way to Pittsburgh

Note: North Carolina State law prohibits the carrying of firearms in the Charlotte Convention Center, and the Time Warner Cable Arena. In addition, the Rules and Regulations of the Charlotte Convention Center prohibit the carrying of firearms in the Center. Pursuant to Time Warner Cable Arena policy, all individuals entering the Arena will be subject to a magnetometer security check.

This was not a welcoming city. This was not a city that respected the privacy or dignity of 60,000+ guests and more than 150 vendors. This was not a city deserving of $15,000,000 or more of revenue from the NRA, its' members, or its vendors.

This was a mistake.

That a good time was had by many is indisputable. That the event provided aid and comfort to persons and organizations hostile to the NRA's goals and interests is equally indisputable. That many, because of the relevant laws and policies either stayed home or refused to attend the "official" events in the verboten spaces is again equally indisputable.

I do not, and will not, criticize those who were both able and chose to attend - after all, an NRA convention is a big fling and it's not all that often one gets to attend. I applaud those who made the best of a bad situation, particularly and especially folks like Breda who not only made the best of a bad situation - she managed to generate a fair amount of joy and festivity despite amount of fail built into the event by the NRA's bad venue choice.

That said, this needs to be the last time. Regardless of the NRA's pitiful excuse "there's just not that many cities that can do a convention our size", there are sufficient cities that would welcome the NRA, its' members, its vendors, and the vast outpouring of cash resulting from their appearance that the NRA can do without Charlotte and other cities that are either hostile or don't quite get it.

Seattle, Phoenix, Albuqueque, Houston, Dallas, New Orleans (dear gawd, the NRA in New Orleans...what a party!), Miami, Ft Lauderdale, St. Louis, even Tacoma for heavens sake...and if the facility is crowded - so be it. Reward the virtuous and starve the hostiles and the clueless.

No more conventions in anti-gun towns.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Severe Envy

Our favorite World's Deadliest Librarian is throwing her BlogBash tonight at the 2010 NRA Convention in Charlotte, NC (an odd place to hold a pro-gun event...). Breda managed to get, as a special guest, Alan Gura of Heller and SAF fame. Gura is also lead attorney representing the SAF in McDonald vs. Chicago, recently argued before the Supreme Court of the United States. Should make for some interesting chats.

It's a bit premature to get reports, but rumor has it all the cool kids able to make it to Charlotte are in attendance and flying their blog flag proudly. JayG brought the rage, Breda the deadly, Number6 his wit, Alan his man-skirt and his special alan-dance, Wai his pointy objects, MikeW, Weer'dBeard, SayUncle) and a number of others to be named later...

Meanwhile, nobody has collected the Nerd Cocoa prize from Stingray, but that's not because folks are not wearing the mighty shirt. And there's still a whole day full of hope left!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Elena Kagan & Scotus

Elena Kagan might be a good, bad, or indifferent judge - we don't know, what with her never having held a judicial position before. She might write landmark decisions expanding civil rights or states rights or severely damaging those same rights - but we don't know, because Kagan has no judicial record.

We do know she has chosen to associate, of her own free will, with Slick Willie and the Obamination. Both the Obama and Clinton administrations take/took an expansive view of federal authority, a dim view of firearms and individual rights, and were in general more committed to "social justice" and pragmatism (though the Obamanites, not so much, being more "if we just implement it right" wonks trying to saddle the us with the failed socialist experiments of Europe).

The Supreme Court of the United States is not amateur hour. Neither is it the place for wild gambles - one may occasionally be surprised (people are not, after all, static creations - they tend to grow and evolve and degenerate as time, experience, and entropy happen), but ideally any nominee to the Supreme Court should have a *minimum* of a decade of judicial experience complete with a track record of decisions prior to nomination to the Court.

Kagan does not. Serving as Solicitor General for a little over a year under Obama and as Associate White House Counsel under Clinton indicates only that she is reasonably competent at kissing the right rectums and is a perhaps adequate administrator and litigator - it does not demonstrate, for good or ill, judicial temperament or philosophy. Keeping busy between (D) presidential administrations, as a Harvard Law School Dean and as a Professor of Law similarly fail to provide indicators of anything resembling judicial temperament or philosophy.

What few indications we have, including her ardent support of barring military recruiters from Harvards campus, is not particularly promising - and we cannot fail to note than when previously nominated for a Federal District Court judgeship, the then GOP Senate declined to even hear the nomination for reasons not publicly available.

Rumors of Kagan's supposed lesbianism are, for the most part, irrelevant - or at least overshadowed by the appearance that she is either a fire-breathing liberal or frequent associate thereof, which only heightens concerns regarding what might emerge as her judicial philosophy.

Elevating a lesbian, or someone broadly perceived as a lesbian, to the Supreme Court would not trouble me a whit had she at least SOME judicial track record. Should such mythical nominee ALSO be black and libertarian, I should be reduced to mad giggles of joy for not less than a month.

That she is a mere 50-some years old, liberal/progressive, and orthodox progressive at that...leads me to believe that the interests of the nation would best be served by stalling this nomination and all nominations consideration until well after the November elections, when meaningful opposition may well appear in the Senate as a voice for moderation.

Gah. It's going to take DECADES to undo the damage inflicted by the Obamanation.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

A wee adventure...

Meandering home after doing the Mom-Chauffeur thing to CostCo, I was leaving Sodo, when I ran across a classic specimen of Yuppie Neanderthalus Seattlus - a beamer driving hulking sort with a strong sense of entitlement and anger issues.

This became apparent when he whipped into the left-hand turn lane and cut me off (and darned near taking off the nose of my car, I honked, and he flipped me the bird several times before meandering off on a slow Sunday morning at warp speed.

Myself, I don't like either bullies or buttheads much. And tend towards the view that tolerating such bullshit propagates it.

Multi-tasking is our friend. Saying a little word to the Fates, a cell phone can emerge and a report can be made of license plate, make/model, driver description and a short synopsis of events can be shared in the spirit of community improvement...and should a patrol officer have a spare moment (a sadly rare thing) to share wisdom with the cretin, well, it beats other chains of events.

We've had such critters in the area, with far more money and entitlement than sense, drag other drivers out of their cars and physically abuse them. Squash'm while they're small - Washington's answer to aggressive driving is RCW 46.61.525, and should the Fates be particularly kind, the Neanderthal Du Jour will end up under a pile of irritable SPD sorts having taken a swing at one for having the temerity to interfere with his privileged travels...

Moderate grrrr.....

The Captain's Wife's Lament

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Gonna be a party!!

Breda, the worlds deadliest librarian and the former infinitely better half of Gun Nuts Radio, an occasionally entertaining and informative (usually when Breda was allowed to talk) internet radio show that appears to have spiraled into some odd kind of semi-defunct state subsequent to her departure, now will grace the 2010 NRA Convention oddly placed in the gun-hostile City-State of Charlotte, N.C. - yet again displaying the awe-inspiring self-restraint and grace that first brought her to the notice of her listening public....

Why you ask? Because Breda has a party to throw! A great big party! Given the dearth of other worthwhile blogger gatherings, the founder of the Bredalucion will be tossing a wee fling at a friendly Irish pub in Charlotte after proper derision and scorn are heaped upon a particular vendor - taking time from her other pursuits, such as hobo-catapulting and world domination.

Some of us, anchored by other obligations, cannot attend - but will be there in spirit (and perhaps even online or telephonically) as the wee woman with the 1000 yard rifle leads the blogging masses in pillaging of wrong-headed and mocking of the foolish.

Be there if you can. 7 - 7:30PM on Saturday, May 15th. Wish I could be there with y'all!!

Could've been the whiskey
Might've been the gin
Could've been the three or four six-packs,
I don't know, but look at the mess I'm in
My head is like a football
I think I'm going to die
Tell me, me oh, me oh my
Wasn't that a party

Someone took a grapefruit
Wore it like a hat
I saw someone under my kitchen table
Talking to my old tom cat
They were talking about hockey
The cat was talking back
Long about then every-thing went black
Wasn't that a party

I'm sure it's just my memory
Playing tricks on me
But I think I saw my buddy
Cutting down my neighbour's tree

Could've been the whiskey
Might've been the gin
Could've been the three or four six-packs,
I don't know, but look at the mess I'm in
My head is like a football
I think I'm going to die
Tell me, me oh, me oh my
Wasn't that a party

Billy, Joe and Tommy
Well they went a little far
They were sittin' in my back yard, blowing on a sireen
From somebody's police car

So you see, Your Honour
It was all in fun
The little bitty track meet down on main street
Was just to see if the cops could run
Well they run us in to see you
In an alcoholic haze
I sure can use those thirty days
To re-cover from the party

Could've been the whiskey
Might've been the gin
Could've been the three or four six-packs,
I don't know, but look at the mess I'm in
My head is like a football
I think I'm going to die
Tell me, me oh, me oh my
Wasn't that a party

Wasn't That a Party - Irish Rover Cover, Tom Paxton Tune, 1980

Atomic Nerd & Salamander Epic NRA Wear

Screw it. I can't do any better. I will, on the other hand, simply copy and link across 'cause it really is that good. Go, buy, see if you can get some of the amazing Atomic Nerds Hot Cocoa mix as a prize!


I’m not, but you know who is? H-S Precision is going to have a booth on the convention floor. If you’re adverse to link clicking, don’t forget that H-S Precision’s catalog once carried an endorsement from Lon Horiuchi, the federal sniper who shot Vickie Weaver at Ruby Ridge. Think it was just a fluke that slipped through the layers and layers of catalog editorial oversight? Think again.

So for the stylish convention attendee who feels the urge to remind folks not to do business with such class acts, I present the first ever Atomic Nerds Merchandising Boondoggle! (I’m new to this zazzle thing. If something didn’t come out right, a wizard did it.)

For a bonus, anyone who pisses off the HS employees on the con floor enough to get a black eye while wearing this shirt gets a free batch of our cocoa mix and peanut butter cookies. Happy convention going!


For more quality merchandise and good reading sprinkled with Awsum Sauce, visit Atomic Nerds, home of LabRat & StingRay.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Freedom of the Road

Read This. But not while drinking beverages.


Might not be such a bad motto for a state flag...

And surely a translated version would be politically correct....

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

On History

I would suggest that there is but one history - reported with greater or lesser accuracy, and that vast and mighty scorn should be heaped upon those who deliberately vary from delivering an accurate recounting of facts to the best of their ability to either heap disdain or praise upon historic persons and events disproportionate to said persons or events demonstrable effect on subsequent events

Those who do so from ignorance or an excess of passion are deserving of only a slightly lesser degree of scorn.

In some era's one group or another is more influential or turns up a winner to a greater extent than others. Frequently achieving that is not accomplished through the distribution of fairy dust and exhibition of noble character - history is a tale of chicanery, violence, tragedy, and tears interspersed with brief moments of triumph of the human spirit and even more rarely of virtue.

Trying to use history to validate or denigrate any particular group deprives us of histories most important lessons - the "gee, that was a good idea" or "hrm, we should NEVER EVER do that" moments that history offers so we may advance as a species and perhaps avoid the worst of our moments as a species.

To only tell part, or to disproportionately emphasize or deprecate of any part of history is to steal that knowledge and experience from us all.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Global Warming, Fraud, and Gay Rights

It seems that Virginia Attorney General Cucinelli is busily investigating a Prof. Michael Mann who produced the "hockey stick" graph in support of global warming for misuse of state funds. If Cucinelli demonstrates fraud, that would certainly seem likely to be considered misuse.

Having run across this report over at Slashdot, I then ran across a poster who seemed determined to play the ad hominem game. Given that I favor LGBT folk having the same rights as everyone else, and object to ad hominem and name calling as argumentative techniques...a fisking seemed called for - enjoy.

As a gay man, I find the very concept of barring such anti-discrimination policies offensive. However, before we really get the bandwagon rolling, what say we ask a couple of questions:

1) What have past Virginia AG's advised cities, towns, and political subdivisions regarding non-discrimination policy generally and LGBT affecting law specifically? What was their reasoning? What is Cucinelli's?

2) Do, in fact, any provisions exist in Virginia statute or state constitutional provision that a competent attorney would be compelled to advise his client (the Universities and colleges) that such a policy (and thus they) are in violation of, or potentially might reasonably to be argued to be in violation of?

3) Given the increasing evidence that at least some portions of the "Global Warming" theory are based on spurious or manufactured evidence (without addressing in any way whether or not anthropogenic global warming valid as a theory or in any way a verifiable phenomenon), is it not the duty of a sitting AG when the question is raised about whether the science and research paid for on the public dime might be fraudulent, to then investigate such questions - and if a preponderance of evidence shows that fraud was committed on the public dime, is it then not the duty of said Attorney General to prosecute the perpetrator of the fraud and misuse of state funds to the full extent of the law?

(For the newbs, in most instances this would mean an affirmative answer to : Did Mann knowingly publish false or misleading results? If so, were state funds used in producing/creating/obtaining such false data?)

4) Aside from Cucinelli as a common factor does the University policy issue have anything to do with the rightness or wrongness of the investigation of Mann and his global warming work?

To address our first question, we have but to look at Cucinelli's advisory letter itself . He cites a number of relevant prior Virginia Attorney Generals opinions, yet notably fails to cite either constitutional or statutory provision - instead basing his reasoning on the theory that unless it is specifically permitted, that a University or other subordinate political division (from governor to rural village) may not extend or expand civil rights beyond those enumerated by the Virginia General Assembly, a body that as recently as a few weeks ago (and on 26 other occasions) has declined with varying degrees of vehemence to add sexual orientation or expression to the list of protected classes (i.e., list of things forbidden to discriminate based upon).

The actions or lack thereof of the Virginia General Assembly, notwithstanding the opinions of the current and several prior Attorney Generals of the State of Virginia, are simply irrelevant. Our fundamental legal tradition is not "whatever is not specifically permitted, is forbidden" - rather, it is "whatever is not specifically forbidden, is permitted" which undermines a basic argument of Cucinelli and his predecessors.

Further, as demonstrated in a long line of prior cases, subordinate political divisions may extend MORE civil rights protections, but never less than those extended by their respective superior bodies, subject to the provisions of the prior paragraph.

Since the Virginia General Assembly has, to the best of my knowledge, never barred subordinate bodies from extending such protections to allege such a bar is mistaken at best, and in my opinion, malicious bigotry at worst.

To address our second question, I return to the reasoning addressed in the first. Any competent attorney would, given the opportunity, to cite clear statutory law would do so - as it would substantially strengthen their legal argument. I find the absence of such citation telling, to put it mildly and the "public policy" argument weak on the face of it. If public policy barred any action not specifically authorized by the Assembly, the various bodies and subordinate bodies would be paralyzed between legislative sessions and require constant legislative guidance.

Clearly, this is not the case. Cucinelli himself cites, in the fourth paragraph of his letter, the broad authority of Universities and Colleges to do "that which is needful" to provide for the education, safety, and welfare of students. Inarguably, allowing either favoritism towards or discrimination against faculty, students, or staff of the relevant institutions based upon their non-criminal sexual orientation or expression does not enhance the safety, welfare, or educational prospects of the students whose interests the various regents are responsible to protect.

Again, Cucinelli and his predecessors appear to stray from both common legal practice and logic when they advise their clients to refrain from enacting policies prohibiting discrimination based on lawful behavior and may, in fact, place their clients at risk of both federal and state litigation. Neither Cucinelli or his predecessors appear deserving of plaudits or rewards in their conduct in issuing such opinions. I would personally favor reprimands administered either the Virginia State Bar or the voters of the State of Virginia, or both to those still among the breathing.

Moving on to our third question, if Cucinelli or his staff are presented with reasonable cause (and at that point, little more than curiosity is required) to suspect that state funds were used for fraudulent purposes or to perpetrate a fraud, they have an obligation to investigate to the best of their ability whether such acts have taken place, and if in the face of the evidence produced by their investigation they then reasonably believe that such fraud occurred and that they have a reasonably chance of satisfying a court and jury of such, they then have an obligation to prosecute unless they can reasonably argue that such a prosecution would be contrary to the interests of the State of Virginia. An investigation of Mann seems reasonable; only time and the eventual filing (or not) of charges will demonstrate whether such an investigation was justified, specifically if those charges are affirmed before a judge and jury resulting in conviction(s).

Addressing our final question, whether or not the two issues are reasonably related as the poster implies, the answer is relatively obvious - No. The issues of LGBT Discrimination Policies and Scientific Fraud paid for with state funds are fundamentally separate from each other and the poster in question is simply engaging in an ad hominem attack - alleging that because Cucinelli did one thing that he and others (including myself) might find bad, that all things Cucinelli does are bad per se, and then goes on to engage in high-brow name-calling by referring to Cucinelli as a known espouser of conservative views.

Now, as a gay man and a conservative (Libertarian variant, small "l") myself, I suspect I and many others on Slashdot do not find "conservative" the epithet that the poster intends. The emotive ranting of those on the right or the left bears little resemblance to reason, and merits only scathing contempt - with extra helpings of vitriol when it descends into ad hominem and name calling. Happily, Slashdot posters are usually logic and fact based and avoid such foolishness. Regrettably, in this instance, a poster failed to evade that painfully obvious intellectual trap.

I am not an attorney, and do not under any circumstances pretend to be one. No person should rely on the above as legal advice, and should consult a licensed attorney qualified to practice in the relevant state(s). The above represents only my opinion and not that of any other person or organization.