Sunday, March 31, 2013

Preempted family

Looks like my dad's appearance on "60 Minutes" to discuss the Pioneer Hotel fire is being preempted by some collegiate sporting event involving craziness. Hopefully they'll broadcast it before too long.

UPDATE 4/1: Here's the full segment.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Half-Cocked Pedants

I have decided that the most annoying subset of people are those who insist on correcting anyone who uses the word "clip" instead of "magazine."

Having been around guns since I was a kid, owned them since I was about 13, regularly shot them for many years, and having both sorts of devices within arm's reach of me now, I've never once been in a situation where the terms "clip" and "magazine" weren't freely used interchangeably, except for conversations where some pedantic gun control opponent wants to pretend that people who disagree with him don't know anything about guns.

I have never known anyone to give two shits about the distinction except in that context. I've never been to a range where someone passes a magazine to his shooting partner and asks him to "reload that clip" and everyone on the line stops to correct him. I've never heard anyone yelled at for saying they got a "new clip for my Sig" or anything of the sort.

Yeah, it's technically inaccurate to say "clip" instead of "magazine." Nobody gives this much of a crap except when trying to be dismissive. Ever.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

SCOTUS marriage cases began today

I think the odds are good for Team Love in the marriage equality cases, but let's be clear about the stakes:

No matter what the Court does, DOMA's expiration date is coming up fast, and we can expect not only federal rights but full faith and credit being extended to marriages entered into in any state.

What we can't bank on is that gay Americans in every state will have the right to marry without sneaking across the border to somewhere more accepting. Without the Court extending constitutional protection to the right to marry, there may, for the rest of our lives, be states that refuse to treat gay and lesbian citizens equally.

You can look at national polls supporting marriage equality and say that gays and lesbians are now powerful enough to get what they want through the democratic process, but that's a very bird's-eye view of the landscape. Take a look at individual states, and you'll understand that in many of them, gay citizens are still viewed as second-class. Unless the Court acts to protect those Americans, this inequality could remain for generations to come.

Hey, Towson University has a Nazi Club!

College boys at Towson U. Went in dumb, come out dumb too.

I'm sure the people of Baltimore will be just thrilled to have white supremacist vigilantes wandering around.

Monday, March 25, 2013

We don't know for sure if George Zimmerman is a racist*, but ain't no doubt that his mama raised at least one.


(* - Yeah, we do.)

146 Reasons to Support Labor Unions

146 people died on March 25, 1911, in the infamous Triangle Shirt Waist Fire. Two of them were only 14, three were only 15. Most were young women who had come to the US looking for better lives. All were victims of unchecked business interests trampling the rights and safety of workers.

RPG after-action report

The gang of adventurers managed to (mostly) survive yet another delve into the ruins of the Tower of Magic in Castle Greyhawk. Not so lucky with the plucky band of investigators in "Call of Cthulhu." I'm sorry to report that I went insane and attempted to walk into the waiting arms...err, tentacles, of an ancient beast released upon the earth who devoured our minds and bodies. Humanity is doomed. My bad.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

RPGs: Not just explosive small arms!

Looking forward to a Sunday filled with an almost unreasonably large amount of role-playing games. Pathfinder for the first part, Call of Cthulhu for the second part. I somehow managed to avoid RPGs as a kid, but over the past two years or so, I've started playing D&D pretty regularly, thanks to a couple of friends from theatre who got me into it. So far, I've been a rogue from the Pirate Isles, a paladin of Iomedae, and a ribald Bard. Yes, it's nerdy as hell. But you know what? So am I.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Well THAT didn't take long.

Three days ago I'm saying that I'm stuck on the couch looking for something to do. Then yesterday an old colleague offers me a senior position in his consulting firm, and just like that, I'm back to work. Granted, I'm still on the couch. But at least now I'm not bored.

This is worse than whatever nightmarish delusions Wayne LaPierre might have

A baby was shot in the head. The mother was shot in the leg. And the police are looking for suspects between 10 and 15 years old.

The incident in Brunswick prompted a search for two young male suspects, one between 13 and 15 years old, and the other possibly as young as 10.


The mother, who was treated and released from a hospital, told CNN affiliate WAWS that she was walking her 13-month-old in his stroller Thursday morning when the two youths approached her and demanded money.

"He said, 'I am going to kill you if you don't give me your money,'" said Sherry West. She said she insisted she had no cash so the older boy shot her in the leg.

"He says, 'Well, I am going to kill your baby.'"

She tried to shield the baby, but the boy shoved her away and shot the infant in the head, she said.

I'm so glad that we live in a nation that's flooded with handguns. Think of the horrors that would befall us without them.

Too Big To Fail

Stories like this drive me nuts:

There is virtually no chance any significant piece of legislation will pass Congress that would meaningfully reduce the size of the nation’s biggest banks or restrict their activities.

It’s true the recent rise in break-up-the-banks fever could embolden regulators to get a little tougher in final Dodd-Frank rules, expected later this year. And a strange bedfellows, left-right coalition is now pressing for more dramatic action.

Still, there’s nothing on the horizon likely to satisfy those who say the biggest banks — led by JPMorganChase, Citigroup, Wells Fargo and Bank of America — continue to pose a systemic threat to the U.S. economy.

First was "too big to fail." Then was "too big to prosecute." At some point, can we please focus on the first two words in those phrases?

We screwed up letting this happen. We need to fix it.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Potato Chips and Lunch Meat, Up in the Front Seat

Not to get too deep into my undergraduate experiences, but this is exactly correct.

“Our potencies here are off the scale,” confirms longtime grower Todd Ellison, co-founder of Colorado Marijuana Marketing, a one-stop shop for weed-related entrepreneurs in search of marketing help. “I have a guy who taught me to grow, who has been growing since the ’60s. And this stuff blows him away.” And Ellison agrees. “I am almost 40. I’ve got three kids. You don’t want something that is going to lay you out and make you stupid all day.”


When my brother, Andrew Marris, got into the weed-analysis business, he expected that growers would be poring over readouts detailing the concentrations of the various psychoactive components, trying to create perfect, complex masterpieces. Instead, though, he found that many of his customers were obsessively focused on just one statistic: the percentage of THC.

This THC obsession has created a bimodal weed supply. There’s the carefully bred marijuana, with excellent flavor and aroma and pleasing suite of effects—which are ridiculously, hallucinatory, time-stutteringly strong for a casual user. Then there’s ditch weed or Mexican brick weed. Sure, you can smoke it around the campfire until the stars go out, but it smells bad and tastes bad, and nobody is going to bother testing it or perfecting it. What’s missing is lower-potency, high-quality dope.

Part of the issue is that, with the illegality of marijuana, procuring it has (until very recently in a very few places) been a criminal act that people don't like going through with any regularity. High-potency pot means that users can smoke less of it, less often, thus reducing the frequency of return visits. For sellers in places where the criminal aspect is about to disappear, steps that lead to more return visits will be welcome. Weaker strains that users can smoke more of will provide a big boost in that regard.

Today's less potent stuff looks worse, tastes worse and feels worse than the high-octane stuff, but the high-octane stuff is just too strong. Figuring out how to bridge that gap will be the key to a viable long-term market structure.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Things That Keep State Rep. John Kavanagh Awake at Night

"Weird people," indeed:
A new bill introduced this week by Republican state representative John Kavanagh would make it a Class 1 misdemeanor to use a public restroom that does not correspond to the gender on one’s birth certificate. If a person is reported to be using the bathroom without the proper paperwork and matching genitals, it would be defined as “disorderly conduct” and the person could be fined $2,500 and spend six months in jail.

The new bill comes on the heels of anti-discriminatory legislation passed in Phoenix last month which extended basic protections to transgender people in housing, the workplace, and in places of public accommodation.

It’s the last bit regarding “public accommodation” that inspired Kavanagh to introduce his own bill. He told 12 News Phoenix: “The city of Phoenix has crafted a bill that allows people to define their sex by what they think in their head. If you’re a male, you don’t go into a female shower or locker room, or vice versa.”

He added that the Phoenix ordinance could also protect “weird” people who use the wrong bathroom on purpose: “It also raises the specter of people who want to go into those opposite sex facilities not because they’re transgender, but because they are weird.”

When I was in middle school, one of my classmates was a transsexual student who was biologically female but identified as male. Would anyone care to guess what happened the day he tried to use the "correct" girls' restroom when a substitute teacher who didn't realize the situation was on duty?

This is about shaming the trans community. Nothing more.

Today's Tragic Juxtaposition

...comes to us from the Great State of Colorado:

Colorado prison chief shot dead on eve of gun laws signing

(Reuters) - The head of Colorado's prison system was shot dead at his home in what police said may have been a targeted killing, just hours before the governor on Wednesday signed new gun control laws spurred by a rash of deadly mass shootings in Colorado and elsewhere.

Police said Tom Clements, 58, appointed two years ago as executive director of the Colorado Department of Corrections, was shot on Tuesday night at his home in a secluded wooded area near the picturesque town of Monument, 45 miles south of Denver.

The killing did not appear to be linked to any break-in or robbery attempt, said El Paso County Sheriff's Department Lieutenant Jeff Kramer. He said the shooting did not appear to be random.

Meanwhile, on the Governor's Facebook page, gun nuts are trolling in full force, because apparently "the right to keep and bear arms" means "the right to own whatever kind of guns and magazines you feel like without ever submitting to a background check." Because freedom.


It still amazes me that Michele Bachmann was, at one point, a front-runner for the Republican nomination for President. I have a very hard time imagining how people look at her and think "There's someone I want representing me!"

Here she is running away from Dana Bash while trying to dodge questions about false information in a speech she gave.

Henceforth, this shall be known as the "Bana Dash"

And here is the Washington Post fact-checker pointing out another massive lie from the same speech:

Indeed, the 2013 budget documents submitted to Congress by the Agriculture Department, which manages SNAP, shows that less than 6 percent of the program is spent on administrative costs. Only 166 people manage the $82 billion food-stamp program — many outside Washington — and the budget document says that staff salaries amount to one-third of 1 percent of USDA’s budget for food and nutrition programs.

Considering such statistics are easily available to a member of Congress, let alone his or her staff, it’s a wonder she never bothered to check. She just assumed “government bureaucrats” were consuming funds reserved for poor people.

A Bachmann spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

Bachmann made two key errors here. First, she misinterpreted Tanner’s point. Then, she blithely assumed the ratio was applicable to the Food Stamp program when budget data show she’s off by more than a factor of 10 (or a factor of 200, if you just count salaries.)

I really can't figure out how she stays in office. I can only assume the people that keep voting for her like to look for interesting shapes in their bowel movements and say their favorite food is "puh-sketti," and somehow a lot of them ended up clustered in one general area.

Back in the Saddle

Hard to believe I let a year go by without actually writing anything here. As it happens, I got pulled into full-time political writing for a very large, time-consuming organization, and didn't really want to mix business and pleasure. But now that the campaign is over, and I'm back on the couch looking for something to do, perhaps a resurrection of the Great Unread Buck is in order. Let's see if this time it sticks.