June 17, 2019

Econ Wan Oh One

What will one pound be worth, post-Brexit, should Britain chose to stiff the EU for the costs it must bear for removing itself from the union? Asking for a friend.

June 16, 2019

The Future of the Future In End-Times Rhetoric

Jupiter is almost four times farther away from earth than the earth is from the sun. Neptune is about 28 times farther from earth than earth is from the sun. Neptune is far, far away. To arrive in good order at Neptune would be a prodigious achievement on the part of humanity. Who's to say it's achievable?

I find myself, even in my senescence, leaning pro-Neptune.

June 07, 2019

Of Which The Moon Is A Part

"I'll take, The sky seen from Mars for $4000, Alex," he said.

"No, I'm sorry, that would be, The Solar System … ah, wait, we have a judges' ruling that the Moon is unquestionably a part of the sky seen from Mars, so we'll allow that answer as well. Congratulations for playing Make Sense of THIS!"

June 03, 2019


When men of science envisage a possibility of this kind, they are prone to a type of fallacy which is common also in other directions. They imagine that a reform inaugurated by men of science would be administered as men of science would wish, by men similar in outlook to those who have advocated it. In like manner women who advocated votes for women used to imagine that the woman voter of the future would resemble the ardent feminist who won her the vote; and socialist leaders imagine that a socialist State would be administered by idealistic reformers like themselves. These are, of course, delusions; a reform, once achieved, is handed over to the average citizen.

—Bertrand Russell, ICARUS or The Future of Science, 1924

And the average citizen, distracted by more immediate concerns, willingly passes administration of the reformed matter over to all the same people who cared enough to fight over the reform in the first place.

May 17, 2019

"Lieutenant Slaughter was remembered in the name of a city and a county in Washington Territory, but citizens renamed the city Auburn and the county Kitsap"

I lived in Steilacoom, WA, while stationed at Ft. Lewis, so the story of Slaughter as told by Ulysses Grant and the expansion of its punchline here have a special resonance.

The room I rented overlooked a southern limb of Puget Sound in an old failed hotel that had, it was claimed, once sheltered Grant himself on the Pacific Northwest leg of his post-presidential grand tour of the world.

May 14, 2019


Meanwhile, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere eclipsed 415 parts per million for the first time in human history.


Eleven years ago the hope was to keep the CO2 level in Earth's atmosphere under 350 parts per million to avoid the foreseeable catastrophic consequences of permitting any greater concentration. Eleven years on and we are farther away from that goal than we have ever been in what passes for history among the humans.

May 02, 2019

The Meaning Of The Document Always Resides Outside The Document, Where It May Be Contested

The Mueller Report is a fundamentally conservative document produced by a fundamentally unobjectionable conservative high ranking career Republican Justice Department/FBI functionary named, not coincidentally, Robert Mueller.

There is enormous restraint in the ambit of Mueller's investigation, tracks leading down avenues some of which he notes but does not pursue, matters which by the generous terms of his remit would be within his right to examine, but nevertheless leaving him with two sore points, the nature and extent of Russian encroachment in the conduct of the 2016 presidential election, and the multitudinous efforts of the President of the United States to undermine that investigation, once begun.

He scrupulously draws within the lines he has created for himself, and comes up with a handful of times the president has quite evidently committed obstruction of justice.

Playing by what he notes are the established rules of the Justice Department, Mueller does not formally indict the President for criminality. He simply points the way.

The currently released redacted version of The Special Counsel's Report, the document itself, violates established Department of Justice requirements as set out by Section 508 in particular, requiring the Department to publish documents in formats which employ various electronic technologies that aid in their accessibility, search functions and the like, are unavailable in the document as released by William Barr's Department of Justice, which is instead made up of a set of rude snapshots of what were once pages in a PDF, a format which fully supports all those assistive requirements of Section 508.

Removing those requirements in the version offered to Congress and the public was the responsibility of Barr and presumably Rosenstein as they worked to redact what they could of Mueller's work with the tools they had at hand.

April 26, 2019

Who Knew Coups News?

Today at the NRA convention, Donald Trump made preposterous claims about a coup against his presidency that outranked NRA chief Wayne LaPierre's claims about a coup against his own presidency at the same convention. Lot of couping going on there.

April 21, 2019

Your Simile of the Week Award

One of the most common misunderstandings about Dumb Guys is that they are not capable of doing things. This is false. They can and in fact absolutely love to do complicated-sounding things like scheme and intrigue. They may not do those things well, and will generally do them in arbitrary and ineffective ways. But they will attack the work of scheming and maneuvering and infighting with all the vigor of a dog trying to carry a too-big tree branch through a doorway.

David Roth

March 24, 2019

***BREAKING*** Must Credit Quotidian

Apparently, in spite of months spent on the task, Donald Trump cannot be exonerated by the Special Counsel appointed to look into his dealings.

March 17, 2019

The First Aside of the 2020 Presidential Race

Say what you will about Joe Biden, he spearheaded the bankruptcy bill that made it to the desk and signature of George W. Bush, that effectively indentured a generation of student loan recipients to decades of ineradicable debt payment, itself a mere sidelight to the bill's main aim, removing historic bankruptcy protections from a broad range of consumers.

So there's that.

March 12, 2019

Brexit Breakdown

How fucked up is the world economy going to be in the aftermath of the gun-to-its-own-head British state careering somnolently toward the nihilist culmination of Brexit a couple of weeks from now? The United States is particularly entwined with the fate of the financial instruments purveyed in the City, London's clearinghouse for global financial transactions. I have no idea if the markets have priced in the cost of disconnecting Britain from the global economy already. Even so, a jolt should be expected shortly, to the unhappy isle and associated parts of the wider world.

March 07, 2019

A Suggestion Is Corrected

CORRECTION (March 7, 9:48 a.m.): An earlier version of this article incorrectly suggested that an article in a conservative outlet suggested Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her top aide could face jail time over an FEC complaint. The article suggested that they could face jail time over ties to a political action committee named in the FEC complaint, not because of the complaint itself.

Jane Timms, NBC News

March 05, 2019

I Cried "Uncle"

John Phillips, of the Mamas and Papas Phillips's, wrote the song Me and My Uncle, a staple of Grateful Dead performances, becoming that group's most played song between 1965 and 1995, with 608 performances (a plausible though not personally verified by me amount), which is many more than necessary by my way of thinking, but admittedly offering up scores to choose from if the best ever among all the rest of them is sought from Deadheads who perforce would have experienced a decent sampling during any arbitrary stretch of time during those 30 years had they attended whatever the minimum number of shows it might take to be considered a Deadhead at the time.

I'm pretty sure I was at Winterland for what appears to have been the third performance of Me and My Uncle. I thought it was O.K., however much my pronounced distaste for cowboy music in general ruled against it. That was always going to be the best performance for me. The rest I managed to endure with what patience I could muster under the circumstances.

March 03, 2019

Suicide Is The Last Refuge Of The Cynic, I Hear

Hunter Thompson memorialized at University of California Santa Cruz's McHenry library.

February 08, 2019

February 05, 2019


Fallen tree blocks East Cliff Drive in Santa Cruz, CA, February 4, 2019
Eucalyptus is a monstrously invasive lifeform in coastal California, rivalling grasses and human beings for the title of most thoroughgoing colonizer of its lands. Here, nudged by insistent winds, unmoored from the rain-saturated soils on the edge of Twin Lakes Beach in Santa Cruz, a giant one leans across East Cliff Drive.

January 27, 2019

Counter-programing For An Otherwise Very Mueller February

Mick Mulvaney used Fox News Sunday morning to announce that Trump would use emergency powers to fund his wall. His comment was reinforced by the Wall Street Journal, reporting the president's words to the same effect.

This is the fuck Congress option of the many possible constitutional crises the body politic might suffer shortly.