Category Archives: Elsewhere

Maybe, and not too temporary. Due to some resource issues with our domain host, I am having to cut down on bandwidth. Since this site is currently inactive, it’s a good way to save .2GB of bandwidth a day.

The site will come back up, maybe/hopefully with new content, in a couple of weeks.

I will be monitoring site activity over the next day or two and will make a decision then.


Category: Elsewhere

There was great alarm in media and on Twitter as a poll suggested 51% of Republicans consider the media to be “enemies of the people.”

{Gasp} That’s terrible. Probably Trump’s fault.

Except it was mostly the poll’s fault. You can get different answers to the same question depending on how you phrase the question and phrase the answer. This one was a doozy. What, you may ask, were the alternatives to the media being “enemy of the people” and “important part of democracy”?

There were none.

Now, as far as I am concerned, the media is an important tool for democracy and is not an enemy of the people, but the way this question is set up most people are going to read it as “Do you like the media? Yes or no?” And a little over half said no. Maybe that’s not optimal, and maybe Trump takes some of the blame for that or that takes the blame for Trump. But those are different questions than the alarmist one about whether or not they are enemies of the people. And polls like this don’t really help.

I’m not really going to bat for the GOP and their voters’ relationship with the media. I’m willing to believe that they are overly hostile to the media. But you’re going to need a better poll than this to demonstrate it.


Category: Elsewhere

Last week I had to let my subscriptions to both Hulu and Netflix lapse. Knowing this day was coming, I have been stocking up on all of the original programming on each service. I had the subscription just long enough to see Hard Sun. Which I am kind of glad I did.

I knew nothing of the series going into it. Looked like a cop show. It came out of the gate feeling like one, too. It set up the IAB detective watching her partner while solving crimes with him. Her boss/partner is accused of killing his former partner, with whose wife he was and is presently sleeping. The IAB cop even has the traditional pinboard.

Then we find out that the world is about to end. They run across some evidence that the government is preparing for Armageddon. The government knows that they know, threaten their families. And back and forth, back and forth.

Except that all the while they continue to go about solving crimes. Much of it related to end of the world cultism. Word has gotten out, but it’s still considered crackpottery. So the story bounces around between the mystery of the day, internal affairs, and Armageddon. Solve a mystery. Get closer to revealing your partner is a murderer. Try to either expose the end of the world or stop your partner from exposing it (they’re coming from different places on this issue). I can’t tell whether it is impressive focus on the part of the cops that third one doesn’t eclipse the other two, or indicative of sloppy writing and unrealistic characterization.

I’m glad I watched it mostly because it’s unique. The show it seems to be at first, the cop drama – isn’t actually great. The characters are unoriginal and the plot has been done a hundred times. It seems like it’s going to be serviceable and forgettable.

Instead, it’s memorable if only for the weirdness of the end of the world being a subplot.


Category: Elsewhere

There are four places around here to go grocery shopping. Each of them have something that the others lack, in terms of it either being there or being better or cheaper than the others, and things they don’t have. Where I go is dictated by what I need and which list it’s on. Martin’s is missing next to nothing, and Walmart is only missing things like lowfat cheese and bulk nuts. Weis has diet birch beer, and Food Lion has good house brands but lack a number of things that are staples, most notably 647 bread.

But Food Lion is very conveniently located. It’s a two minute drive from Lain’s preschool.

But it seems like I never get to go there. There is almost always something on the list that they don’t have. But even when there isn’t, something happens. I kind of need to go there now for some of their house brand stuff, but twice this week I have been thwarted. The first case my wife called and said that I needed to pick up some prescriptions at Martin’s. Then the today I couldn’t dump recycling in the morning, so I will have to do it this afternoon, which means I can’t have food sitting in the car that whole time. So… once again, it will be either Walmart or Martin’s.

I have been trying to improve various things in my life through systems and organization. One thing I would love to do is have my lists set up so that I am not having to pick which thing I’m not going to have because it’s at one of the other places. The fates, however, really don’t want me ever going to the most convenient option conveniently.


Category: Elsewhere

We have a lot of snow coming down right now. We’re going to be stuck in the house for a couple days or maybe more. We have plenty of milk and eggs.

That never happens.

It’s almost always the case that these things strike when there is weak stock. And in both cases, there almost was. I was at the market and couldn’t remember the milk situation and wasn’t sure if I really needed to get more eggs or whether it could wait until the next trip to the market. In both cases I decided to get it anyway. Thank goodness. We may run out of half-and-half, though.

Money is somewhat tight right now, so we’re likely going to have to shovel our own substantial driveway (did I mention that it’s at an incline?). I might actually go there today and make an effort of out it, to cut down on the height tomorrow. When we had the 36″ a couple years back, we realized it would have been helpful not to entirely wait for it to pass. It’s just psychologically difficult clearing a driveway as the weather continues to un-clear it.

Otherwise, we’re just riding it out.


Category: Elsewhere

Audacious Epigone has a(n anti-semitic) post but with a really interesting datapoint:

His point is on the Jewish topline, but their numbers are only moderately higher than Japan and Canada, neither of which we especially consider a threat. China and Russia… have a lot going against them and those who came here from there are adversely selected in a way that Japanese are less likely to be. The only real surprise is England (my ancestral homeland). If I were more ambitious, I’d track down the numbers for more countries because it’s really interesting. Specifically I’d be interested in Mexico, India, Vietnam, Nordica, Germany, Italy, and Ireland. Then, for good measure, theck out Texans who live elsewhere in the US.

Anyway, my guess is that the numbers for Ireland and Italy would be high and Germany would probably be somewhere in between those two and England. While I am sort of puzzled by the England number, I am also not too surprised about it. There’s something non-de-rigueur about being high on Britain and the UK, even though no other non-neighboring country has a more persistent hold on our national attention. So we pay attention to it but maybe can’t quite love it.

One alternative to that is a watering-down. Very few people are of strictly English heritage. And the two countries are so similar that we just don’t think of things in those terms, the way that others do. If you are of Russian or Japanese ancestry you are more likely to be of distinct Russian or Japanese ancestry than if you’re English. Italy and Ireland used to be more like Russia, but now are more like England. So Russia’s numbers are low and Japan’s numbers are relatively high because opinions run more strongly one way or the other due to a stronger connection. England, meanwhile, elicits a shrug. Maybe Germany, too.

I really need to learn how to use the GSS thing.

In any event, I am skeptical that the 8% that separates Jews from Canadians warrants the amount of attention directed to each.


Category: Elsewhere

So last week we went to Disney World. And, as indicated in the above tweet, I did not bring any glasses. This was doubly frustrating because the possibility of leaving the sunglasses in my car is something I’d thought about. And it wouldn’t have been difficult to throw a spare pair of glasses into the suitcase just in case. But I didn’t. And when I got past security I realized that my transition lenses hadn’t transitioned. Because they weren’t transition lenses.

Fate did throw me a bone, however, because I had some contacts in my toiletry bag. The only problem is that I didn’t have any sunglasses. My eyes are sensitive enough that if I have to choose between wearing sunglasses indoors or contacts with no eye protection outdoors, I’ll take the former. I should have just purchased some sunglasses at Disney World, but I was irrationally thrifty.

The end result is that on the big first day, I was wearing sunglasses. When I say “the big first day” it was the day that we went in the morning and Lain and I didn’t leave until dark (or, in my case, really really really dark). Also, because of the way things shook out, I missed a couple of dimly lit indoor rides where I could barely see what was going on.

Despite being out of practice, the contacts went into my eyes seemlessly and I wore them the rest of the trip (with sunglasses).

Now I’m back and I know once I switch back to glasses, I’m probably not going to use these contacts again.

It’s a weirdly different experience wearing contacts after all this time. I haven’t worn any in at least two years. Once I got prescription sunglasses, I rarely felt the need. I see better with glasses. Except I can’t entirely. The world looks wonderful through my contacts. No fingerprint smudges. No dust. But I can barely read. Because of my astigmatism, I lose some of the detail front and center.

It reminds me of a Batman Animated Series episode where Bruce Wayne is stuck in a dream. Everything is vivid and life-like, but because it’s a dream he can’t read anything. (Which I think is a myth, actually, but I’ll roll with it.Photo by n4i.es


Category: Elsewhere

As some of you (probably all of you) may have heard, through a series of probable and improbable events, Roy Moore won the Republican nomination for US senator from Alabama. Since then, there has been a revelation that when he was younger, he had an eye for the younger ladies. As young as 14. That’s a subject in and of itself (a post on related issues is coming).

There have been some moves recently to fiddle with the special election and perhaps even cancel it.

The narrative from the left has shifted from the Republicans can’t or won’t do anything about Roy Moore to being aghast that they might have found a way to prevent him without actually losing the seat. Someone cynical might even say that the opposition to Moore had less to do with him being particular bad and more to do with him being a Republican, and maybe a belief on their part that Moore might actually be useful as an anchor around the party. if one were cynical. It has a fair amount of explanatory power, at any rate.

Actually, I believe 100% that is the case with some. With others, I am relatively certain it isn’t. But we’re all blinkered by our political and partisan desires to some degree or another. I would suggest that at least some of the outrage at the possibility that the election might be canceled (it won’t) is a hair-trigger for revulsion at anything the GOP does to its own advantage.

In 2002, New Jersey had a senator named Bob Torricelli. He was corrupt. Democrats were perfectly okay with that corruption – never putting up as much resistance to him as the GOP put up to Moore, for example – right up until it appeared that he was going to lose. Then they got him out of the race. The problem is that the deadline for changing the ballots had passed. So they went to court and demanded that the ballots be changed. Preventing a Democrat from appearing on the ballot was against democracy and by trying to prevent a new Democrat from being on the ballot – you know, enforcing the law – Republicans were actively trying to prevent democracy. The bastards! (Remember what I said about hair-triggers?). Democrats took it to court and won. Oddly enough, a few years later, Democrats actively sought to prevent Republicans from pulling the same trick in Texas, and succeeded.

Meanwhile, in Massachusetts Democrats changed the procedure for replacing senators twice in order to prevent Mitt Romney from nominating a successor to John Kerry in 2004 (if he’d won) and enable Deval Patrick to do so for Kennedy later that decade.

The notion of canceling elections in Alabama has one major advantage over all of these things: It’s actually in accordance with existing law. Existing law gives the governor the ability to call elections or not. The ability to let the appointee serve out the balance of the term is legally at her discretion. They wouldn’t have to go to court. Others might go to court to overturn the law, but not to create new law as was the case in New Jersey (and was attempted in Texas). It is actually reminiscent of parliamentary systems, where elections are frequently called to the advantage of the incumbent party. They’re not explicitly canceled, but you hold an election now precisely so that you don’t have to hold it at a later date.

For what it’s worth, I am conflicted on the idea and actually lean against. I don’t like changing the rules in the middle of the game and Moore is awful but one senator in 100 doesn’t really justify it. I’m also not sure it’s worth the backlash in this case. If they do it, I won’t really raise a stink. I’ll just be glad that Moore isn’t in the senate.

I am relatively sure a lot of Democrats are approaching this from a standpoint of saving/losing a seat and all that. Indeed, ironies of ironies, they’re prepared to go to court to prevent a ballot change because changing a candidate after the filing deadline would be cheating! Huh. But anyway, this isn’t a matter of the election being canceled or the Democrat winning. It’s as likely as not a case of Senator Moore vs Senator Bogstandardrepublican. Even with all that’s going on, Roy Moore is hanging roughly even with Democrat Doug Jones. As the heat dissipates, it seems more likely than not Moore will recover. Democrats themselves were telling me this not a couple of days ago.

So if opposition to Moore is opposition to Moore, one would think that they might actually give the idea some consideration. If opposition to Moore is opposition to the GOP, it makes sense to reflexively cry bloody murder here and do everything you can do keep Moore on the ballot.

As for the Republicans… we’ll see. They have actually done more here than I expected them to do. After watching the Access Hollywood Carousel last year, I have taken all wiggle room to be deliberate and immediately pounced on the “if” of their statements (if he did it). But right now they’re doing everything I would expect of a party that is actually repulsed. Governor Ivey has declared that she won’t call a new election. Moore isn’t going to step aside. They’re either going to help Moore and more-or-less secure their senate majority in 2018, or they’re not and they’re going to imperil it. I suspect I know which path they’re going to take, though I’m open to being pleasantly surprised.


Category: Elsewhere

Politico caught a lot of grief for this cartoon:

The Washington Post explained why:

The first problem with the cartoon is its crassness. People are still being saved, and it’s making fun of those same people.

The second problem is the stereotypes. It’s almost a caricature of what you’d expect a liberal cartoonist to draw in response to conservative Texans relying upon the government in their time of crisis. The Confederate flag T-shirt. The Gadsden Flag. The reference to being saved by God (which seems extremely dismissive of Christianity). The Texas secession banner. It’s all kind of … predictable?

The third problem is that, while this tragedy struck Texas, a red state, the most acute devastation in a populous area is in Houston. Harris County went for Hillary Clinton by double-digits, and neighboring Fort Bend County was blue as well. The population of both combined is more than 5 million — about one-fifth of the entire state of Texas.

This overlooks the fourth problem, in my view, which is that it didn’t match what the nation saw. In fact, there was so much of a disconnect that I think he drew (or at least mentally designed) before the hurricane even hit.

He had an image in his mind of how it was going to go. All those once proud Texans would sit around waiting about the federal government to come get them, complaining that the feddies didn’t save their fat, confederate-flagged arses sooner. And everybody else would see his cartoon and say “Yes! That is exactly it!’

Instead, what we saw was something different. The (mostly local) authorities did all they could, which by virtue of being not nearly as dysfunctional as New Orleans was not nothing. But people came from all over Texas and Louisiana to lend a hand. Slate can talk all it wants about how this is to be expected, but it’s not what people were expecting. This cartoonists expected fat-asses. A lot of others were gearing up on a wave of expected looting. Instead we saw an awful lot of Texans helping Texans.

All of which makes the piece bizarre outside of an exercise in confirmation-bias and, I can’t not say it, cultural sneering. He can say that it was just about secessionists and confederates and only “bad” Texans, but those were the Texans he chose to showcase.

Politico would go on to announce the death of Texas individualism, which misses a similar mark in that individualism is not really what we saw. Of course, what is meant is at least partially the federal funds that are about to go the state’s way. I think it’s completely fair to take Ted Cruz and their congressional delegation to account for their foot-dragging on Sandy relief, and to point out that generally the states rely on one another, but it’s also worth noting that Texas (like NY/NJ) has been paying into that pot for years, and while the temptation is to think that because it’s a red state it takes more out than it pulls in but it’s one of the exceptions to the rule. Not that it should matter. But by all means, rake Ted Cruz and company over the coals if they don’t successfully demonstrate that it actually was about the pork. But leave it at that.

Which, I should add, is what people have been doing for the most part. In fact, I have been pretty pleasantly surprised at how few people responded the way that cartoonist did.

Good job, America.


Category: Elsewhere


Category: Elsewhere

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Queenland

Greetings from Stonebridge a fictitious city in a fictitious state located in a tri-state area in the interior Mid-Atlantic region. We're in western Queenland, which is really a state unto itself, and not to be confused with Queensland in Australia.

Nothing written on this site should be taken as strictly true, though if the author were making it all up rest assured the main character and his life would be a lot less unremarkable.


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