Friday, April 18, 2014

Most screwed

Без ордера

Did they have a warrant when they blocked this site (and all other blogspot blogs) in 2010? Did they get a warrant when there was another flurry of sites that couldn't be accessed from Kazakhstan in 2011?

I don't know how the "warrant" requirement works in Kazakhstan, but under Kazakhstani law, but usually a warrant would be something issued by a judge against a specific entity or web site. Not the kind of blanket ban I ran into when I was in Kaz. So I wonder if this law is doing much more than legalizing something that was already being done.

What John Cole said

I couldn't agree more.

I have never understood why political journalist want so much to be celebrity journalist.


Maybe Putin will start a fad of resurrecting old place names from the colonial era. Then I can talk about my upcoming trip to Nouvelle-France, which sounds a bit more exciting than another visit with the midwestern in-laws.

Thursday, April 17, 2014


I always love it when someone who makes a public principled stand against gay marriage suddenly becomes in favor of it when he finds out a close family member is gay. It's the same thing with Teddy Olsen and Dick Cheney. While I'm glad to have them on my side on this issue, the self-centeredness of it all drives me a bit mad. Is there any doubt that if all their relatives were straight they would be anti-gay rights? I guess gay rights are only important when someone you love is getting screwed.

Race to the bottom

At the same time that the Ukrainian military is demonstrating that it is unable to protect it's territory from Russian-inspired/sponsored lawlessness, the wheels are coming off the Russian economy.

Which country will fall apart first? Maybe its economic problems will get Russia to work harder to find a way to de-escalate in the today's talks  Or maybe, it gives them an incentive not to resolve the crisis because the Russian economy was hitting the skids even before this crisis made it worse and if the crisis goes away, Putin won't have those nefarious foreigners and their sanctions to blame then the economy starts to drag down his approval numbers (assuming approval polls are still permitted in Russia if Putin's numbers go seriously south).

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Russian Economy Contracts

But you know, Putin is totally "winning" because the success of a national leader is not measured by how well his policies work for the country he governs, it's about how much he can swagger around and look like a kool kid.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Awesome chart

Whoever made this chart either had a wicked sense of humor or is impressively audacious in his (or her) dishonesty. Can you spot the problem?


Monday, April 14, 2014

Chocolution 15: Rogue Chocolatier, Rio Caribe

Yet another single-source just-cacao-plus-sugar bar. I realize last week I gave the impression that I was getting a little sick of these. Because I was! One of the benefits of tasting a bunch of bars with few extra ingredients is that I began to appreciate how much those other ingredients can add to the flavor and texture of the chocolate.

At least that was the attitude I was developing until I tried this one. This one was good. Really really good. It had an almost perfect chocolate taste, not too bitter or sweet. Unlike the other purist dark chocolate bars, this one was really creamy.

I'm not sure what Rogue is doing, but they are doing it right. At least with the Rio Caribe bar. That one is not on their web site anymore, which is the down side of the small batch single source strategy. By the time I get my hands on a bar and taste it, the batch is probably over and I can't get another one. But I will definitely try another Rogue if I ever get the chance.

Hey and while I'm being all wordy this week, can I bitch about one thing? (Of course I can! This is where I do whatever the fuck I want! Like write self-indulgent reviews of the candy that I eat, all in the service of a New Year's Resolution that only I care about). This is printed on the back of the Rio Caribe bar's wrapper:

As much as I like this chocolate, that "Notes" thing bugs me. I know that's how people talk when they talk about wine. And I understand how that kind of metaphorical speech about tastes developed. We really don't have a good vocabulary to describe the subtle flavors of things like wine. So people resort to comparisons with flavors that others will be familiar with.

The problem is that I don't think it works as well with chocolate. I have had chocolate with actual coffee, oranges, and nuts added to it. In fact, that's pretty common. So when I read that there are "notes of coffee" in this bar and then I taste it, all I think is "that doesn't taste like it has coffee in it." Because these are plausible additives to the chocolate I am pulled out of the metaphor in a way that I am not if someone used those words to describe a wine. It just highlights the limitations of this sort of description rather than its utility. What works for wine does not work as well for chocolate. Which means all we are left with is a sense of snooty. People need to cut it out.

Why "too early"?

I thought this was strange:
The suspect [in the shooting at a Jewish Community Center], 73, is a former Ku Klux Klan leader with a history of anti-Semitism and racism, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights organization that tracks hate groups. It identified him as Frazier Glenn Miller, 73, commonly known as Glenn Miller, and said he was the founder and grand dragon of the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.


Mr. Miller was taken into custody on Sunday afternoon at a local elementary school near Village Shalom, the police said. In video taken by KMBC, a local television station, the suspect yelled “Heil Hitler!” while sitting in a police car.


The police said it was too early in the investigation to determine whether the attacks were a hate crime.
 While I want police to be pretty sure they have a hate crime before they classify it as a hate crime, what more do they need in this case? I was sold with the "Heil Hitler!"

Friday, April 11, 2014

I choose to meet with rich people so the American people should pay me more

Soon-to-be-retiring Representative Jim Moran:
We deal with people on a regular basis who come to see us who make more in a week than we make in a year.
Isn't that a better argument for members of Congress to meet with different people than an argument for giving them a bigger salary?

"beyond legal authority"

I don't know what I find more depressing:

(b) my near absolute certainty that no one will ever be held legally accountable for these crimes.

(via Memeorandum)

I thought W was a teetotaler

When President George W. Bush followed Mr. Rumsfeld to Mongolia a short time later, the White House quietly persuaded Mongolian officials not to give the president a horse, and they complied. Mr. Bush did partake in Mongolian horse culture another way, by drinking the local brew, fermented mare’s milk.
That fermented mare's milk beverage--what the Mongols call "airag" (айраг) and the Kazakhs call "kumis" (қымыз)--is alcoholic. That's the point of fermenting the milk. Maybe there was a kumiss exception to Bush's alleged temperance?

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Rick Scott killed Charlene Dill

Well, both he and the Republican members of the Florida legislature did. (So did Chief Justice Roberts, but that's another post)

The headline of this post is true even if Scott and all of the anti-medicaid expansion legislators never heard of Dill and bore her no ill will. In fact, that is probably the case. And yet they should know that denying people the means to pay for medical care will result in some people's deaths. One of those "some people" happened to be Charlene Dill. No doubt there are many others like her (one study calculated 17,000) who will die in Florida and other non-medicaid expansion states.

Societal assumptions can be a problem too

Yesterday was Equal Pay Day, the day the National Committee on Pay Equity has calculated is the number of days into this year that the average woman would have to work to make as much as the average man made last year. The heart of that calculation is the statistic that on average women in America earn 77% as much as men.

The right has been attacking that 77% figure. The best explanation I could find for their problems with the number is from the allegedly non-partisan WP Fact Checker column:
In other words, since women in general work fewer hours than men in a year, the statistics used by the White House may be less reliable for examining the key focus of the proposed Paycheck Fairness Act — wage discrimination. For instance, annual wage figures do not take into account the fact that teachers — many of whom are women — have a primary job that fills nine months out of the year.  The weekly wage is more of an apples-to-apples comparison, but it does not include as many income categories.
June O’Neill, a former director of the Congressional Budget Office, has noted that the wage gap is affected by a number of factors, including that the average woman has less work experience than the average man and that more of the weeks worked by women are part-time rather than full-time. Women also tend to leave the work force for periods in order to raise children, seek jobs that may have more flexible hours but lower pay and choose careers that tend to have lower pay.
But isn't the fact that women are more likely to work part time, take jobs with shorter or more flexible hours, or leave the work force to raise children itself a product of sexism? Society assumes that women are primarily responsible for childcare and other family issues. There are stay at home dads these days but they still are very much the minority. Even if Kessler is right and most of the disparity is not due to wage discrimination (and I'm not positive that he is right), that doesn't mean that the difference is earnings isn't real or that difference isn't due to people treating women differently than men. It's still a problem.