Aug 052016
 

This is cut and pasted from the authoritative 538.com. I added the links to the guys.

1 lawyer
Michael Barrett, the director of Missouri’s public defender system, says he has a big funding problem. In an unusual letter to the governor, Jay Nixon, Barrett said the state’s public defender system is ranked 49th in the U.S., that its budget has been repeatedly cut, and that he can’t hire enough attorneys for the department to do its job under the current funding level. Luckily, section 600.042.5 of state law allows him to essentially pick any member of the Missouri bar to defend a case if the need arises. So, he’s assigned a case to a prominent Missouri attorney, Gov. Jay Nixon, to prove his point. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]

 Posted by at 4:10 am
Oct 182015
 

10/17/15

So, I saw this and was naturally reminded of the Supreme Court.

Earlier this year there was a case called Walker v. Texas Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans, Inc.    Texas sells specialty license plates on which people can put a message of their choice. Anyone who likes that message can pay extra to those plates. They are not vanity plates, its more like when states have a slogan like “Live Free or Die”, or “Famous Potatoes”. Its kind of goofy, there are plates sponsored by a fast food chain that say “Mighty Fine Burgers”.  A group of redneck pricks applied to be able to get plates with a confederate flag, and to Texas’ credit they were denied. They appealed on First Amendment free speech grounds and lost, with Justice Thomas voting along with the four liberals. Odd, you say? This is a typical example of people who are hard core conservatives except as to matters that affect themselves. Thomas grew up in Georgia in an era when there was plenty of Klan activity, and he knows that flag to be a terrorist symbol.  Thomas’ vote on this is discussed here. The decision came out right around the time that that other redneck prick shot a bunch of Black people at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC.

Anyway during oral argument there was this exchange

Full audio at Oyez.

Ginsberg did not pull that reference out of the air. There was a case in 2007 in which a high school kid sued for a violation of his free speech rights after he was suspended for putting up a poster that said, “Bong hits 4 Jesus” across the street from his high school. Morse v. Frederick.  He lost because Kennedy went with the conservatives for the proposition that kids don’t have free speech.

So, had Thomas not flipped, it seems like the Constitution would require that some kids in Texas would not be allowed to drive to school.

 Posted by at 1:37 pm
May 022015
 

solomonThe phrase, “cut the baby in half.” is today shorthand for a type of compromise, and refers to one of the most well known, if not well read, passages of the bible.

The thing to know about Solomon is that he was a king in the oriental style, and that he was probably a prick. He was born into royalty, got where he was through his mother’s palace intrigue, obscenely rich, giant palace, eunuchs, slaves, a huge harem, gaudy displays of superiority to his subjects. Much more like an Ottoman sultan than what we think of as the Old Testament. And he was a bad king. He taxed the populace into penury and was the first Hebrew king to require forced labor of free citizens. He put the kingdom deep into debt, largely to fund his extravagance. When he died, the regions outside of the capital revolted. The kingdom split in two and was never really reunited. His queen’s name is an eponym for a shameless, wicked woman to this day: Jezebel. Justice was not really this guy’s strong suit.

Solomon gets treated very well by the guys who wrote the bible 300 or so years later, because he built the temple; and those writers were all about the temple. But even they couldn’t just leave out that he was a fuck-up.

The job of a king in those days consisted to a great extent of sitting in judgment in a way that would compare pretty closely with our experience of Ex Parte, only with no motions to revise.

The passage about his great wisdom as a judge, 1 Kings 3:16-28, begins with the words “Then came there two women, that were harlots, unto the king, and stood before him.” This is almost never referenced, that the litigants were unclean, and the child in question had no father. In the ethics of the day, these were worthless people, the baby most of all. And, I’m guessing their presentation lacked the usual decorum, the disputants being unlettered members of the underclass. Think: Jerry Springer. There is nothing in the passage that suggests other than that Solomon fully intended to dismember the baby. I think he mostly wanted to get these no-name yahoos and their creepy dispute out of his courtroom; and to send a message to similarly situated people to keep their petty arguments to themselves.  That the one woman spoke up and ceded her child to the other was, I think, unforeseen. Anybody could have figured that one out. He was not so much wise as lucky.

I think that it was Solomon whom the author of First Samuel, chapter 8:10-22 had in mind. This is my favorite passage in the Bible, so far. The passage describes one step in what was a transition from a culture based on tribal organization to a centralized state. God, through Samuel, sets out the downside:

And Samuel told all the words of the Lord unto the people that asked of him a king.

And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots.

And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them to ear his ground°, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots.

And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers.

And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants.

And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants.

And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work.

He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants.

And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the Lord will not hear you in that day.

Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us;

That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.

And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he rehearsed them in the ears of the Lord.

And the Lord said to Samuel, Hearken unto their voice, and make them a king. And Samuel said unto the men of Israel, Go ye every man unto his city.

Saul was made king, succeeded by David, succeeded by Solomon. Bet you never heard of Solomon’s successor. Rehoboam.

 Posted by at 3:25 am
Jan 262015
 

So, I decided that I’m paying too much for my mobile phone, and I thought I would see if there is a cheaper plan. Thank goodness the anxiety and confusion of comparing plans is unnecessary. T-Mobile has put my mind completely at rest. I have the best of all possible cell phone plans.

tmobile

 Posted by at 6:07 pm
Dec 102014
 

First, here are some sites where you can buy books TomFolio AbeBooks and stuff Etsy.

This is about what dickheads the people who run Amazon are. They have what are called fulfillment centers, which are giant warehouses full of shelves with bins with stuff in them and hundreds of people working their asses off, we know, because Skynet is tracking their movements to the nanosecond. At the end of the day they go through security to make sure they are not stealing. Here is Mark Thierman, attorney for the workers:


It can take almost half an hour, and Amazon refuses to pay them. And the reason it takes so long is that Amazonian rulers  are such chislers they have just the one kiosk, rather than the three or so it would take to come up to the level of humanity Homeland Security has to offer.

The employees at one warehouse, no union of course, just individuals, sue. It winds its way through the courts, and Amazon appeals to the Supremes.  The case summary and the full oral argument on Oyez.

Amazon goes out and hires a guy named Paul Clement, who has argued more cases before the Court than any practicing lawyer. He is a legend. Brilliant in oral argument. Honest guy. Generally represents corporations and conservatives. Clerked for Scalia.  He is the ultimate Big Ticket Lawyer.

THIS is who Amazon hires, they are so intent on chiseling their employees. Lets just say Mr. Thierman has no Wikipedia page and leave it there.

And the law in this area is just so weird. Here is Clement


They go on like this for an hour, just arcane arbitrary rules that are, I guess the product of corporations just hacking away wherever they can, nickle and diming people.  As far as I can tell, its kind of a tossup which side has the better legal argument, which says more about the state of the law than the arguments, I think. The proposition that Amazon should lose just because their shit is fucked up and bullshit, well, thats not how its done. Mr. Thierman seems at first not to be having a good day, but he rallies in the last part of his argument, kind of great to listen to. I suspect this will be a Kennedy Court decision.

There was a nice lawerly exchange between Clement and his old boss, Justice Scalia


When I’m editing these tapes I often speed up the tape, it sounds really cool. Here are Clement, Sotomoyor (I think), and Scalia.

Postscript. Amazon won in a unanimous decision. Oyez.

 Posted by at 7:39 am
Dec 022014
 

So, in 2007 a fishing boat captain named Yates is pulled over by the fish police and busted for having a bunch of undersized red groupers. Behind the cops back he tossed the illegal fish overboard to get rid of the evidence. He was charged with destroying evidence under the Sarbanes-Oxley act, which was passed in the wake of the Enron and Arthur Anderson scandals, to prevent coverups of financial misdeeds. Seems like a stretch. Turns out the act has a really long prison term associated with it.

This ends up being argued earlier this month at the US Supreme court and the audio is great to listen to. The real fun starts about 30 minutes in, when the prosecutor comes to the podium.

The colloquy generated a now famous exchange, Chief Justice Roberts interrupts in this 30 second clip:

 

This came after about 5 minutes of the Justices left right and center, led by an outraged Justice Scalia, giving the guy a hard time for the excellent reason that overcharging petty offenses is objectionable. This 5 minutes of tape is really worth hearing if you want something about the Court to feel good about.

 

Details about the case and complete audio can be had at the terrific Scotusblog website on this page.

By the way, Justice Scalia refers to the Bond case, details and audio here, in which a woman was charged with violating a chemical weapons treaty for going crazy and trying in very loopy ways to poison her husband’s mistress. Very entertaining.

 Posted by at 8:27 am
Nov 272014
 

Posted here  on Google Groups support forum:

to whom can I complain about Google’s high handed behavior

I had a Blogger account a couple of years ago, before it was acquired by Google. I would like to take it down. It shows up in searches in competition with another blog I put up on my own website.

To delete the Blogger account now Google requires that all Google products be deleted, including apps that I paid for at the Play Store. I can live with deleting my g-mail account, which is free after all, but Google wants to rob me of my paid for goods.

Google has also blocked me from taking down individual posts, which it seems like would belong to me.

I never agreed to this, Google purchased Blogger with no notice to me and no agreement of mine that I recall giving. I did not read the user agreement when I signed up to Blogger but I doubt there was anything about my Play Store apps there.

Thing is, its Google. Whose job is it to make Google play by some fair set of rules? Is there a regulator?

Don’t get me wrong. For a giant soul-less corporation Google does relatively little evil. I’m perplexed and delighted by all the free stuff they give out. But that should not entitle them to be dickish.

Here is my last post on Blogger.

http://visiblecontents.blogspot.com/2014/11/go-away.html

 And then, funny things began to happen~~~~[expand title=”Read On” id=”readon”]

A few minutes later I got this e-mail

email from google

And I clicked on the “Another Topic” link and there is this

forum post from Matt Bariletti

Thing is, handy as it is to have translations into Spanish and Portuguese, it would have been better to see that other forum where this popular subject was being addressed. Alas, not to be found. In fact, my original post has disappeared. Click on the link at the top and it takes you to this page.

I could not find contact information for Matt Bariletti. So I replied to his e-mail to me as follows

Hi, Matt. Sorry you have to work on a holiday. Maybe you are a robot, so that would be OK.

I see that  the page was forwarded, but I do not see the other topic related to my question. You say its a popular topic, which I’m sure is so, but can you refer me to the place at which the similar question is discussed and maybe even answered?

But then I noticed that his email address was blogger+noreply@googleproductforums.com, so I don’t think he got it.

Matts google plus pageMatt is, of course, is on Google Plus, that kind of lame competitor of Facebook (which in my opinion is unbelievably lame). So I have included him as an acquaintance in my circles. He looks like a nice guy.

Heres his url  https://plus.google.com/115510091888744404525/posts

So, I’ll post him a link to this post and hope that he gets back to me. I’d really like to know where my question is addressed on the forum. And, I guess it would also be nice if Google would be less, I don’t know, slimy? Lowdown? Lets go with unhelpful.

 

Usually Google has more self confidence. The first site I open every day is Google News, its my morning paper. And they often post news items that reflect poorly on Google. Different algorithm for support forums, I guess.
Collapse Post[/expand]

 Posted by at 5:34 pm
Nov 252014
 

Monkeys understand Justice and Equity – YouTube.

This is a pretty famous clip. It bears several viewings, the moment where monkey number two realizes it is being screwed removes, I think, any doubt that we are of  similar stock.

Here is the director’s cut with additional material from the scientist guy:

▶ Two Monkeys Were Paid Unequally: Excerpt from Frans de Waal’s TED Talk – YouTube.

And here is one about Rat Morality, which sounds like the name of a punk band

 Posted by at 9:08 pm

Ephesus

 Essay, Legal Stuff, Religion, Turkey  Comments Off on Ephesus
Apr 282014
 
20140428_113924This was the largest theater in Ionia, the part of ancient Greece that was in Turkey.  Paul the apostle had a gig here that did not go well.As a change of pace, Paul was chased out of town by an angry mob of pagans rather than of Jews. It seems he violated the precept set out best by Guido the killer pimp in the movie “Risky Business” (played by the great Joe Pantiolano): in uncertain times never fuck with another man’s livelihood. Here is Pauls account, from Acts. (I have a long book report on Acts of the Apostles here .)
19:23 About that time there arose no small stir concerning the Way. 19:24 For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought no little business to the craftsmen, 19:25 whom he gathered together, with the workmen of like occupation, and said, “Sirs, you know that by this business we have our wealth. 19:26 You see and hear, that not at Ephesus alone, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away many people, saying that they are no gods, that are made with hands. 19:27 Not only is there danger that this our trade come into disrepute, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be counted as nothing, and her majesty destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worships.”

[expand title=”Read On” id=”readon”]

19:28 When they heard this they were filled with anger, and cried out, saying, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” 19:29 The whole city was filled with confusion, and they rushed with one accord into the theater, having seized Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul’s companions in travel. 19:30 When Paul wanted to enter in to the people, the disciples didn’t allow him. 19:31 Certain also of the Asiarchs, being his friends, sent to him and begged him not to venture into the theater. 19:32 Some therefore cried one thing, and some another, for the assembly was in confusion. Most of them didn’t know why they had come together. 19:33 They brought Alexander out of the multitude, the Jews putting him forward. Alexander beckoned with his hand, and would have made a defense to the people. 19:34 But when they perceived that he was a Jew, all with one voice for a time of about two hours cried out, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”
19:35 When the town clerk had quieted the multitude, he said, “You men of Ephesus, what man is there who doesn’t know that the city of the Ephesians is temple keeper of the great goddess Artemis, and of the image which fell down from Zeus? 19:36 Seeing then that these things can’t be denied, you ought to be quiet, and to do nothing rash. 19:37 For you have brought these men here, who are neither robbers of temples nor blasphemers of your goddess. 19:38 If therefore Demetrius and the craftsmen who are with him have a matter against anyone, the courts are open, and there are proconsuls. Let them press charges against one another. 19:39 But if you seek anything about other matters, it will be settled in the regular assembly. 19:40For indeed we are in danger of being accused concerning this day’s riot, there being no cause. Concerning it, we wouldn’t be able to give an account of this commotion.” 19:41 When he had thus spoken, he dismissed the assembly.
20:1 After the uproar had ceased, Paul sent for the disciples, took leave of them, and departed to go into Macedonia.

Collapse Post[/expand]

 Posted by at 5:35 am