Posted in Quick Hits on May 18th, 2015 by Ed

One of the most frustrating things about academia is that every department has one or two of these, and they refuse to retire so everyone is sitting around patiently waiting for them to die.

Please hurry.


Posted in Quick Hits on May 1st, 2015 by Ed

Every time I think the crazy can't be topped I end up eating my words, but please read the comment section on this story about the Texas National Guard being deployed to monitor US Army exercises in Texas and tell me where we could possibly go from here. If this isn't peak crazy, I hope I'm not alive when it comes.


Posted in Quick Hits on April 29th, 2015 by Ed

Hey did anyone notice – or pause to consider, as it takes very little thought to figure out – what the real Message is in that "Mother scolds and smacks her son for participating in Baltimore riots" viral video? As America's white people celebrate their mental image of what black people should do (in this case, raise children who will Know Their Place) the woman stated, "That's my only son and at the end of the day I don't want him to be a Freddie Gray."

In other words, it's not Good Parenting finally on display from Those People. It's another black American trying to teach her son the lesson that in this country the police will kill a black male in this country for looking at them funny. It's a woman trying to teach her son the lesson that you can't stick your hand in an alligator's mouth, not someone who is worried about the alligator.


Posted in Quick Hits on April 9th, 2015 by Ed

After years of stop-starting various endeavors related to this website I have decided to go all in on the New Republican Bible project. I am re-writing the Gospels and other highlights of the New Testament with Jesus as a modern Republican in the vein of Scott Walker or Sam Brownback, hopefully to be completed by Christmas 2015. It will make the perfect gift. God willing, it will be available in print and electronic formats. The foreword will be written by Jesus himself.

Though I am on record as anti-crowdfunding and though it would be entirely within reason to call me a hypocrite, I've set up such a page. My goal isn't to solicit donations but rather to get pre-sale/pre-order numbers high enough, potentially, to interest a publisher. I certainly don't consider self-publishing beneath me but ideally I can get someone interested in this who isn't me. If you think you are a person who would buy such a thing, why not go ahead and do it now?

With any luck – which, of course, is not something that seems to apply to my endeavors in most cases – this will work. It's just ridiculous enough to.


Posted in Quick Hits on April 7th, 2015 by Ed

On the heels of last week's post about California and the strain on our water resources, here is a great if lenghty piece delightfully titled "The Town Los Angeles Drank." It goes into a great deal of detail on just how complex, costly, and increasingly audacious the plans and infrastructure necessary to meet the giant state's water needs are getting.

Aside from the obvious relevance to the current drought and long term questions about the availability of water, the article touches on just how timid governments are these days to propose anything ambitious…anything at all, really. The 20th Century was defined by massive, expensive public works, and where would California be without them (think Hoover Dam)? The 21st is unfolding as an era in which everything the government does is Bad, anything it tries to do with fail, and the only acceptable Big Programs are the ones that take public funds and hand them over to private industry (Bush's prescription drug program or the ACA come to mind). And businesses, of course, know how to do things The Right Way. The only problem is that the free market is incapable of incentivizing them to solve unprofitable problems, meaning that the role of government is to slop enough money into the trough to spur them into action.

If that seems backward and inefficient to you, or if basic questions of accountability are coming to mind, you're a communist.

Fortunately California is a little less beholden to articles of right wing ideological faith than, say, Kansas but they've had their moments over the years. This is a state that made it illegal for its legislature to raise taxes, invented the Three Strikes law, and shat Ronald Reagan and Bob Dornan upon the rest of the nation. When the staggering cost of keeping the water flowing to the state's megacities as well as its agricultural backbone becomes clear, will the state pony up or will the process of governing be derailed by another idiotic ballot proposition? Based on the state's recent history, it could go either way.


Posted in Quick Hits on April 1st, 2015 by Ed

It has been a long time, but just in case you feel like reliving the anger and amazement at the howling stupidity of your fellow citizens all over again the CIA declassified the ration of shit / document used to justify the Iraq War.

I don't see why this would be especially newsworthy. It's not like there's anything to be learned from that experience.


Posted in Quick Hits on March 23rd, 2015 by Ed

I generally find very little interesting about the hybrid of Big Data worship and undergraduate-level methods skills at Five Thirty Eight. This infographic produced in the wake of Ted Cruz's announcement – Good luck, asshat – has a lot going on in addition to the basic message that his candidacy is going absolutely nowhere.


Several things stand out.

1. Republicans who actually won the presidency in the past probably would not be able to win the nomination today. It says a lot about the massive changes in the GOP since the 1980s that George HW Bush and Richard Nixon are virtually communists by the current standards.

2. Holy shit was Barry Goldwater out there. He is probably too conservative to get elected today, which means that in 1964 he must have looked like Kaiser Wilhelm next to the other candidates of the day. That decade was a time of transition and change politically, but the leap from Eisenhower to Goldwater…wow.

3. Look at the staggeringly large gap between public statements and congressional voting record for both Pauls. Ron and Rand might – hold on to your seats – have a tendency to say one thing and do another. However, the conservatism of their congressional voting records is no doubt skewed by the fact that most votes in Congress are economic and regulatory in nature. These issues are the ones where the Pauls are on the far right. On some social and foreign policy issues they are, in line with their libertarian philosophy, not quite as conservative. Congress doesn't vote on those things nearly as often, though. Social issues are basically just campaign fodder and they're more likely to figure prominently in the Supreme Court docket than the agenda in Congress.

4. Chris Christie is going nowhere slowly.

5. Man there have been some dog crap Republican candidates over the past few years. Ah, John Kasich. We hardly knew ye.


Posted in Quick Hits on March 23rd, 2015 by Ed

This is long, and I'm unsure what I can add to it other than to say that this is an attitude one encounters often when dealing with college students and I never have any idea what to do about it. But you really should read it.

Oh, and I don't think this kid or many of his peers have the slightest idea what the word "satire" means. He keeps using it and appears to understand it only as the thing you claim you were doing when you get in hot water for saying or doing something awful. It's telling that this kid thought an outside audience would be sympathetic if only "their side" could be heard. It says a lot about how coddled and cloistered these kids are. Everyone they interact with shares their mindset and you can see how much it shocks them to be exposed to criticism from people outside the bubble. I suspect that they rationalize it with their traditional "Those people are just jealous because I'm so awesome" mantra.

Oh alright, one more thing: this is why attorneys tell their clients never to do interviews. Seriously kid, I know you think you're helping your Bros but you're not. Maybe stop talking.


Posted in Quick Hits on March 18th, 2015 by Ed

Just a reminder that if you aren't following Gin and Tacos on Facebook you don't know what you're missing.


Posted in Quick Hits on March 17th, 2015 by Ed

One of the ironies of the low quality of work that one often receives from college students is that they often put a tremendous amount of effort into attempting to get a higher grade after the fact. On more than one occasion I have told a student sincerely, "If you had put as much effort into doing the assignment as you have put into lobbying for a higher grade, this conversation would be unnecessary." It might sound sarcastic but it's absolutely true. In many cases they put a ton of effort into getting a good grade – they just don't allocate the effort wisely. Do it before the paper is due and it will benefit your grade a lot; afterward the same amount of effort is likely to accomplish nothing.

I mention this because I often wonder why police can't devote as much effort to doing their job properly as they do into covering up the things they do wrong. Some good old fashioned investigative reporting has uncovered a trail of Wikipedia edits on entries for Eric Garner, Sean Bell, Amadou Diallo, and other people killed by NYPD officers over the years, all coming from 1 Police Plaza. Editing Wikipedia is not the most labor intensive process on Earth (although honestly the more active pages are almost impossible to edit these days unless you've been involved for a long time) but there are quite a few of them spread out over time. If only there were something more useful to do with that time than search the internet and attempt to whitewash facts about things the department has done that cast it in a negative light.

Maybe this is for the best. They'd probably just do more stop-and-frisk if they didn't have the internet to keep them busy sometimes.