Note to Self [What You Say | What I Think]

Yes, you really did just hear that gaffe. Here is the question: Did a Democratic Member of Congress just gaffe up really, really badly in one direction, or the other?

Translation: Did he botch, or tip, it?

Continue reading


If It’s Tuesday I Must Be Whining

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton works from a desk inside a C-17 military plane upon her departure from Malta, in the Mediterranean Sea, bound for Tripoli, Libya, 18 October 2011. (Kevin Lamarque/Associated Press)

Microcosmic: As Rachel Maddow asks Michael Beschloss his opinion on campaign norms―e.g., releasing tax returns―it occurs to me that we are quite possibly witnessing a microiteration of a problematic thumbnail sketch: If achieved, then change standard.

As Maddow asked, what about the future? And that would approximately make sense: Hillary Clinton is about to be elected president of the United States of America. We’ve already decided that everything else in her career is just that much more volatile and alarming and inappropriate than any man who came before her, repeatedly suggesting with each iteration that we will, in fact, attempt to change the rules in order to forestall certain outcomes.

For instance, who remembers the One-Drop Rule? Was there nothing incongruous or untoward about the proposition that we finally laid the One-Drop Rule to rest when Barack Obama was elected? Okay, that’s not fair; we lynched the One-Drop Rule and then put the corpse in whiteface: If Barack Obama is one-drop white, we haven’t yet elected our first black president.

Remind me all you want that it didn’t work; I’ll just shrug and wonder why we bothered trying.

Still, though, if we call off the customary tax return release? It’s easy enough to expect the ritual to survive Donald Trump, but we’ve seen this happen before. No, really, did you know that politicians were never supposed to get paid for public speaking when they weren’t in office? Apparently this has always been the rule, and Hillary Clinton just wasn’t smart enough to know. And since her predecessors didn’t really use the private email systems that they actually did, Secretary Clinton should have known that behaving like her predecessors was forbidden; I mean, it’s not like we suddenly invented this standard that what she did was unacceptable out of thin air just because she’s Hillary freakin’ Clinton, right? It’s not like we didn’t care when it was anyone else and then just decide to care because some scandalmongering political opponents decided to pretend something entirely ahistorical and―you know, since it’s “Her”―well, yeah, why not, sounds great. Sorry, I guess that’s just a distraction, isn’t it? Because while we’re spinning pay for play fancies because transparency means we can, the only reason we don’t care about the idea of pay for play through Colin Powell’s foundation, while he was Secretary of State, is because he’s Colin Powell, not Hillary Clinton, so that sort of thing could never, ever happen.

Nor is it just about girls, though it’s true in this case it kind of is. But the underlying principle of schoolyard socialization dynamics includes a function whereby a bellwether among the despised might achieve a threshold of respectability, and the communal response is to alter the threshold in order to maintain exclusion. That is to say, some kids will simply never be allowed by their peers to be cool; it’s a general bully principle, because without it the list of people bullies are allowed to treat poorly pretty much crumbles to dust in the wind.


Image note: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton works from a desk inside a C-17 military plane 18 October 2011. (Kevin Lamarque/Associated Press)

Maddow, Rachel. “Historic debate could reset campaign norms”. msnbc. 27 September 2016.

Personal Reflections on Politics and Priorities

The Statue of Freedom atop the U.S. Capitol building.

Let us speak of love and life and the beauty of this Universe.

What? Oh. Right. Sorry.

Look, to the one it seems really simple; to the other, we all have people in our lives who will, when they don’t like the obvious implication of an obvious fact, chuff and puff and stutter: “Wh-wha-what? What are you talking about? What does that even mean?” The thing about this behavior is that except for the fact of contention, these people in our lives know damn well what we’re talking about, and if there is any confusion about what it means, they’re certainly tipping their hand by going from zero to attack in zero-point-two-one-seven-three seconds. You know that common tease, “Struck a nerve, there”?

Sometimes it seems tragic: Perceived competitive pressures can seem so permeating in and of the perspectives subscribing to or advocating its processes and outcomes as to inhibit normal, healthy social function. More accessibly: Capitalism escalates mental health risk factors. Or, more generally: People who believe in or advocate the dog eat dog rat race can fall into it so deeply that their social faculties degrade into dysfunction.

And sometimes we think, “Huh? But you knew what this meant yesterday. And you even believed it last week!”

Continue reading

Quote of the Day: Benen on Republicans and the Ten Commandments

The Ten Commandments

The larger point is that some conservatives are so eager to have government extend official support to their religious beliefs that they’re willing to argue that their sacred texts have no religious value at all. It’s ironic, in a way – it’s tempting to think opponents of religion would want to strip sacred texts of their spiritual significance. Here we have the opposite.

Steve Benen

Yes, it comes to this.


Benen, Steve. “This Week in God, 8.23.14”. msnbc. 23 August 2014.

Good Enough for the Software Industry

If ...?  Then ...?

I don’t think it is especially nitpickety to wonder what it is about software design for commercial purposes used by media research companies that this little outcome should occur.

“We appreciate your interest,” they politely tell us, “but unfortunately this survey is now closed”.

Just for that, I ought to put iModerate into my popup blocker. After all, I don’t mind the occasional survey request from websites I frequent; nor am I offended that this one launches in a way that evades the popup blocker in the first place.

But let us be clear: When N(sufficient) then stop launching the popup. That is to say, sure, I am not a computer programmer, but I still don’t see what is so difficult about a very basic if/then statement.

Instead, when N equals or exceeds the intended sample threshold for the survey, the subroutine simply changes the message to thank the user for their interest in a survey they did not ask to take and most likely would have bypassed, anyway.

And, yes, it is true one could run their browser with a less stringent cookie policy, so that the survey software might identify a user who has already answered, but that still does not explain the odd decision to continue launching the survey window with the new message. The nearest I can guess is that their unscientific poll might somehow or other have enough bad data that they might need to reopen the survey a couple days later. But even for marketing data that would seem a sketchy survey protocol.

So, you know … Just stop launching the survey when you have enough responses. Is this really so hard? After all, I will happily concede that it really does seem a strange thing to fret about. Then again, it happened, and I noticed, and then the question persisted. And, still, it persists.

It has long been said, “Good enough for government work.” But over the last twenty or so years, what has emerged is a business model that reads, “Good enough for the software industry.” This would seem just a particularly peculiar example of where that idea shows through.

The Appearance of … Well, Something

George Washington BridgeIs it fair to say that by the time the key players lawyer up, as such, we can start taking what should have been the silliest political conspiracy theory of the year seriously?

Even worse … well, the transition from silly to serious seems nearly obligatory, doesn’t it?

Continue reading

And So Can They?

Every once in a while, I see a—oh, right. Sorry. Wrong song.

Through the Looking GlassIt is the sort of thing that can actually make me paranoid. Well, kind of. But when you feel that milhouse moment, when the slightest breath of air will shatter the looking glass—or, such as it is, when you finally expect that Rachel Maddow will break character and, at long last, say, “Nah, I’m just fuckin’ wit’cha.”

† † †

(Transcript to come, I suppose; and maybe a screengrab when I figure out how badly I broke everything installing KDE Plasma. Yeah. Too bad about that.)