Tuesday October 1st, 2019 10:40 Impeachment logic

I just want to say one thing about this, and maybe just lay it down when it’s fresh, lest it all be forgotten in the fog of what’s to come.

All you really need to know about the Ukraine scandal is contained in the following quote:

“I want to know who’s the person who gave the whistle-blower the information because that’s close to a spy. You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart with spies and treason, right? We used to handle it a little differently than we do now.”

Just think about it for a minute.

If the whistleblower is a spy, that means that they got some information that they weren’t supposed to get, then shared it with other people who weren’t supposed to get it. That means that the information they got is true. One does not spy on another person and see or hear things that never even happened.

If the whistleblower is a liar who made everything up in an attempt to bring down an upstanding president, they they’re not a spy at all. They’re just someone who made up some lies. They didn’t see anything or hear anything, from anyone. The entire process took place in their own mind.

It is logically impossible for both concepts to be true.

Remember that.

They already started saying it, but, very soon, they will be telling you non-stop that both things are true at the same time.

In: News, PoliticsNo Comments

Wednesday August 21st, 2019 13:35 Who needs critical thinking, anyway?

There’s been a story circulating the intertubes lately about some poor kid in Texas who had severe respiratory problems, was put in the ICU and nearly died.

Nobody knows – including his doctors – exactly why all of this happened to him. It’s a bit of a medical mystery.

But you can be damn sure that everyone has taken great pains to point out the fact that he liked to use a vaporizer.

Still photo from what these people think happens at vape manufacturing plants.

My absolute favorite article on the subject was this one, from his actual doctor.

You will notice how insipidly they lay out their case for vaping being the culprit.

  1. No one has any idea what’s happening
  2. This doctor knows what all the other doctors were secretly thinking
  3. The kid told her – a year ago – that he liked vaping
  4. Vaping delivers nicotine and nicotine is bad
  5. One Juul pod has as much nicotine as a whole pack of cigarettes (that has what to do with what?)
  6. Lots of kids have tried vaping
  7. They are full of chemicals

So, clearly we can say his habit landed him in the hospital, right?

Not. Even. Fucking. Close.

For starters, the first thing this doctor does is outline for us all the different procedures he required and all the tests he went through and how confused all the doctors on the case were. Then, she mentions vaping, as if we’re all supposed to say “ohhhhhhhh, that must be it.”

Uh, no.

That’s not how science works. That’s not how medicine works. That’s barely how anything on the planet works.

What she’s really saying is: “A team of medical professionals were baffled by this case, but now that we’ve learned that he participated in the subject of a moral panic, we can stop trying to figure out what actually caused all this, and blame it on the vaping.”

Problem the first with this pseudo-logic is that it’s pseudo-logic.

One would expect a doctor to ask his parents to bring in the specific substance he was vaping so it could be analyzed. One would expect they would bring in friends and classmates to see if he was exposed to any toxins and if other children could be affected as well. One would expect they would contact specialists in rare lung disorders to see if this is simply something very unusual that isn’t detectable by standard hospital testing and examination.

One would expect a doctor to not throw her hands up and say “Well, he vapes, so I guess I can stop with all this ‘science’ nonsense.”

Problem the second is the way this doctor throws around the word “chemicals” like this is the 1950s and no one understands that the very air that we breathe is a chemical. Water is a chemical. We are made out of chemicals.

Perhaps “doctor” is the word we shouldn’t be throwing around with regards to her.

The article goes on to spout unattributed statistics about how many teenagers have tried vaping. 45% sounds like a lot.

This, of course, ignores the simple facts of who we’re dealing with. 45% of teenagers would try drinking their own urine if their peers told them to. There’s a new “challenge” on YouTube every couple months, many of which are wildly stupid, some of which are wildly dangerous. Millions of kids – and adults alike – participate in them, for no reason other than everyone else is doing it.

I’m suspecting that this woman is not a parent, because any parent I’ve ever met would view a kid doing something because his friends did it first as par for the course.

Then her article cites a group of cases that the CDC is investigating, supposedly linked to vaping. But one only has to click through to that article to find a key sentence:

“While some cases in each of the states are similar and appear to be linked to e-cigarette product use, more information is needed to determine what is causing the illnesses,” the CDC said in a brief statement.

These cases likewise are curiously concentrated in specific states. Typically, that indicates environmental factors, which would absolutely include a local manufacturer of vaporizer liquids selling a contaminated batch of product locally, then shipping some of that same batch to various locations across the country. Since online sales are a thing that, you know, exists.

When a company ships out salmonella-tainted spinach, doctors don’t go running around saying that all spinach will make you sick. Because that would be really stupid.

The overall point here:

People around the country and the world have been waving red flags around vaporizers for years now. And while there is much to be said about the lack of regulation around the manufacturing and distribution process, nothing excites people who enjoy a good moral panic than the old “won’t someone please think of the children” trope.

And they love a story like this one, be it steeped in logical fallacy or not.

This is how bullshit like anti-vax starts.

One person has some severe problem, and a doctor – a profession we’ve been trained our entire lives to trust implicitly – says that X caused the problem.

Only there is no evidence whatsoever that X did anything at all.

There are just a lot of people being misled by doctors who are either intellectually lazy, pushing an agenda, or otherwise outrightly derelict in their duty to inform the public of facts about medicine.

And they should be ashamed of themselves.

So what do you think we should do, Mr. Smarty Pants?

Glad you asked.

One of the many useful things we can do is introduce enforceable standards in the industry. Every single consumer should be able to tell exactly what’s in their vaporizer at all times, and there should be government-backed recourse for people who produce substandard products that cause unintended harm to their customers.

If we can tell people exactly how many grams of fat are in a Whopper and the precise concentration of alcohol in every beer, then we can do this too.

Another useful thing is to stop wasting our time pretending that fruit flavoring = targeting children. I don’t know about you, but my taste buds didn’t stop working the instant I turned 18.

We can instead focus on the actual presentation of these things in stores.

In most places, you have to go into a liquor store to buy liquor. Kids are not allowed in there. While the kids still want booze and are able to get it through other means, they’re not constantly seeing it in stores everywhere, all the time.

It would even be good for the economy, to create an entirely new category of business that exclusively sells age-restricted items. Also, pretty awesome for us adults, to get a pack of smokes, a bottle of whiskey and some porn, all in the same place.

Ok, that came off sounding like a pretty lonely shopping trip, but you get the idea.

Lastly, shore up the existing laws.

Did you know that, in many states, it is not against the law for kids to smoke? That’s right: it’s only illegal to sell or give them cigarettes. They’re allowed to posses and smoke them as much as they want.

While many might say that making something illegal only makes it cooler in the mind of a teenager, it also makes it a hell of a lot harder to do freely.

I’ve read stories where kids are vaping right in the middle of class. You can bet your ass they’re not going to do that quite so much if it might mean explaining to mom why she had to leave work to pick you up at county lockup.

There are probably a ton of other good ideas out there. But the bottom line is this:

We humans excel at behavioral manipulation.

If you don’t think so, go yell “fuck!” in front of a baby. Then ask any of the people who get immediately offended why they think it’s offensive to say a single word in the presence of a child that can’t possibly understand what you’re saying in the first place.

If we really wanted to stop kids from doing this, we could get the job done.

But hysterics have never worked before, and they’re not going to work now.

In: News, OtherNo Comments

Wednesday July 24th, 2019 14:27 Rutger Hauer, 1944-2019

Still one of the best things ever recorded, and by far the best ad-lib in cinematic history:

In: Music/Movies/TV, NewsNo Comments

Thursday May 2nd, 2019 13:35 Let’s all make a note of this

Yesterday, the Attorney General of The United States said this, out loud, on camera, while sitting in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee:

“[If an investigation is] based on false allegations, the president does not have to sit there constitutionally and allow it to run its course. The president could terminate the proceeding and it would not be a corrupt intent because he was being falsely accused.”

I think we should all take note of this particular moment in time.

Because the simple-language translation of that is: “The president can do anything he wants, and if anyone ever accuses him of breaking the law, all he has to do is say ‘No I didn’t’ and it’s case closed.”

That’s not an alarmist interpretation of what just happened. It’s simply listening to the words and following the logic of those words.

To explain, in an orderly fashion:

  1. Barr is specifically referring to investigations based on false allegations.
  2. Common sense tells you it’s impossible to prove that an allegation is false until after it’s been investigated. Otherwise, it’s not an investigation at all – you’re just taking someone’s word.
  3. Barr is very plainly telling us that the president can decide an allegation is false before an investigation has been conducted or completed. And he does not have to provide independently-verified proof of an allegation being false.
  4. Therefore, the president must be taken at his word, as there are no means to validate his claim that the allegation was false.
  5. If that is true, the president has full legal authority to declare a true allegation to be false. All he has to do is lie (which is not exactly out of the realm of possibility for a politician).**

And that’s how you end up with this sort of thing:

In this country, when someone says “that person committed a crime,” we have organizations like the police and the FBI and the DOJ that are chock-full of professional investigators whose job it is to figure out whether or not an accusation is true, and whether or not that can be proven in court.

In this country, you don’t get to just say “I didn’t do that,” and then demand that the police/FBI/DOJ stop bothering you.

In this country, nobody is above the law.

At least, that’s how things worked up until yesterday.

**Seriously, just try to imagine this happening to you. Imagine you could stop the police from investigating anything you ever did, simply by claiming you didn’t do it. Now, if you’re a GOP supporter, imagine Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders having that power. Still sound like a good idea?
In: News, PoliticsNo Comments

Monday April 22nd, 2019 09:34 On this Earth Day

I just wanted to say:

In: News, OtherNo Comments

Friday March 8th, 2019 14:56 Pay her. Pay that woman her money.

:::title must be read in the appropriate Teddy KGB voice:::

So, the most successful women’s soccer team in human history is having to sue the US Soccer federation to get paid as much as their dreadfully-underperforming male counterparts. Jeebus Crist.

It’s not the most popular sport around, so a couple quick facts on how absurd this is:

1. The men’s team sucks. Like, a lot. They made it to third place…in 1930, by way of miracle and the fact that it was the first-ever world cup and only 13 nations bothered to show up. It took 64 years for them to get past the first round again, in 1994. In 1998, they followed up that performance by placing dead last.

2. The women’s team fucking rules. Like, a lot. They made it to third place in 1995, 2003 and 2007. Second place in 2011 in a heartbreaker of a game. They have been champions three times.

3. Count up all the cups in that last point. Total of 7, right? Well, that’s the total number that have ever taken place. That’s right: the women have never finished below third. Germany is the closest contender for being so superiorly badass, but they managed to screw up the one tournament they hosted (kind of a theme for the Germans).

4. I can’t find a clip to link to, but I promise you I’ve actually seen one of their opponents shaking before kickoff. Literally shaking with fear of the impending asswhipping before them.

Need more?

Think of it this way: saying the USMNT should get paid more than the USWNT is like saying the players from Brazil should get paid less than the guys from Poland.

Still not convinced?

Well, here’s the women’s team:

Here’s the men’s team (after failing to qualify for the last WC at all):

So just pay them already. Last thing you want is to piss them off. They destroy pretty much anyone who gets in their way.

In: News, OtherNo Comments

Friday February 22nd, 2019 12:30 Fraudulent crickets

The Mark Harris story in North Carolina has only one valid reaction gif:

There is no possible manner in which I can quantify the volume at which a looped track of “OF COURSE THEY DID” is replaying in my head.

Any idiot who’s ever worked with absentee ballots knows they were breaking the law. It was patently obvious that the fraudster McCrae Dowless was going to do something illegal. The candidate’s son explicitly told his father that this was going to happen. Then, after the fact, it was painfully apparent they hadn’t bothered to try to hide it.

Hell, for a minute there, I was suspicious that they were faking all of this in an attempt to forcibly create a clear story of voter fraud for alternate political purpose. They were all just so bad at it.

But that’s not the ‘of course they did’ moment.

That moment was when I looked for the responses of the literally hundreds of Republican candidates and elected officials who had previously railed about voter fraud for years on end.

The ones who immediately enacted or shredded laws in the name of stopping voter fraud the instant Shelby County vs Holder came down. The ones who saw nothing wrong with voter intimidation squads or ID requirements that conveniently had a disproportionate effect on voters who tend to vote against them. The ones that tried to perpetuate the buffoonishly idiotic claim that 3 million illegal immigrants voted in 2016.

The ones who should be, right now, shouting from the rooftops that, right here, is undeniable proof that election fraud can happen.*

But instead:

*Seriously, they’ve been operating all this time with absolutely zero credible evidence. I would be ecstatic if someone so enthusiastically proved me right.

In: News, PoliticsNo Comments

Thursday February 7th, 2019 16:03 My eyes are lying bastards

I grew up in the great John Stewart era of The Daily Show (I was 16 when he started, so let’s just say that qualifies and move on). As such, I’ve not been a big fan of Trevor Noah. But when he and his team get it, they really get it:

This morning, the Failing NY Times™ had pretty much the same graph on their front page:

First thing I must say is: Spot on, Ronny Chieng. Seriously, any idiot can look at that thing and figure it out. At least, any idiot without a vested interest in pretending that they can’t.

That brings us to this afternoon, when I heard about the *president complaining on Twitter that he was being harassed by nefarious congresscritters exercising their so-called ‘Constitutional obligations of their offices and oaths.’

I mean, Bill Kristol was mocking him for this. More than once. Bloody Bill Kristol, lifelong Republican and man who never met a war he didn’t like.

Somewhere else in the thread, my eyes landed on this:

Now that there is pretty straightforward. So, let’s do some quick math:

Number of indictments:
Republicans: 209
Democrats: 3

Number of convictions:
Republicans: 113
Democrats: 1

Number of people sentenced to prison:
Republicans: 36
Democrats: 1

Okay, that’s pretty damning. But the list clearly shows that more Republicans have been in office, and thus have had more time for bad things to happen. So let’s do that math:

Republican indictments per year: 7.1
Democratic indictments per year: .1
Ratio: 71:1

Republican convictions per year: 3.8
Democratic convictions per year: .05
Ratio: 76:1

Republicans sent to prison per year: 1.2
Democrats sent to prison per year: .05
Ratio: 24:1

Now, before someone goes off to cite this as proof that the FBI (they’re the ones in the DOJ who collect the evidence) has it out for Republicans and are just letting the Democrats off the hook, let’s take a look at who’s been running the FBI all this time. You know, aside from the president who is the head of all federal law enforcement.

J. Edgar Hoover, May 10, 1924 – May 2, 1972, Republican
Clarence M. Kelley, July 9, 1973 – February 15, 1977, Republican
William Webster, February 23, 1978 – May 25, 1987, Republican
William S. Sessions, November 2, 1987 – July 19, 1993, Republican
(are we sensing a pattern here?)
Louis Freeh, September 1, 1993 – June 25, 2001, Republican
Robert Mueller, September 4, 2001 – September 4, 2013, Republican
James Comey, September 4, 2013 – May 9, 2017, Republican (turned Independent in 2016)
Andrew McCabe, February 1, 2016 – January 29, 2018, Republican
Christopher A. Wray, August 2, 2017 – Current, Republican

That’s damn near 100 years of Republicans running the FBI.

If every single one of the post-Hoover directors were out to get Republicans and shield Democrats, you guys have some serious internal problems with your party.

So, to review some facts:

  • When a Republican is elected president, it is 76 times more likely that someone in the administration will be convicted of a crime than if a Democrat held the office
  • Every single head of the FBI has been a Republican, and it appears they have faithfully executed their duty to pursue criminal activity in the White House
  • Attorneys General of the United States are presidential appointees and Harry Truman was the last full-term president to not change his immediately upon taking office (Reagan was the only one since who didn’t do it on Jan. 20. He waited until Jan 23.)
  • In case that last point was confusing, I’m saying that all the indictments and prosecutions took place at the behest and with the approval of someone that the president personally nominated to do exactly that job.
  • In case you think they don’t also vigorously pursue Democrats, I will point you to the 10 separate investigations into Benghazi.

Thus, when Trump says that investigating his administration is harassment, my only response is:

Yes, Mr. President. It is most certainly harassment. So long as I don’t believe my lying eyes.

In: News, PoliticsNo Comments

Tuesday January 15th, 2019 11:11 Well, that was predictable

Never underestimate how quickly the knuckle-dragging douche nozzle contingent will freak out when it’s suggested they learn how to human:

It’s an ad suggesting that harassing and belittling women is a bad thing. That one probably shouldn’t just watch little kids get into fistfights or gang up to hunt each other like animals. That bullying is wrong. That teaching a young boy to become a good man is a pretty fine idea. That those who are already men can sometimes act better.

Seriously? Who has a problem with that?

If you do, please go away. The rest of us find you just as unwelcome as you did that commercial.

Because, really, why are you always complaining? You’re way too sensitive. You should smile more.

In: Music/Movies/TV, NewsNo Comments

Monday December 17th, 2018 16:50 I am shocked to learn that there is gambling in this establishment

I usually stay away from religion around here, but this thing is just bugging the hell out of me.

So, a boy in California commits suicide. The priest at his funeral, rather insensitively, points out that, the religion espoused by the boy, his family and probably most of the people in the room at the time, is officially against suicide and thinks it a mortal sin that sends you straight to hell (albeit with exception for mental illness).

Now, that there is a really shitty thing to do with the grieving family sitting right in front of you.

But from whence does this outrage come? Their family is Catholic. They attend Catholic mass. They raised their son to be Catholic. They held his funeral service in a Catholic church.

And now everyone is simply appalled that the guy behind the lectern stated exactly what their religion says is true about suicide.

Of course we all think it was inappropriate. Of course we all think he should have held his tongue.

But I don’t see a single headline saying “Catholics reconsidering their view on suicide when confronted with the cruel reality of that position.”

They’re just complaining about a priest mentioning one of their own beliefs at an inconvenient time.

I’ll leave the last word to an old writer:

In: News, OtherNo Comments

Whois

IT guy, dev, designer, writer.

Got a degree in print journalism from UF but history dealt some bad cards to that industry, so I moved back to an earlier love: the computer.

Was recently at ZMOS Networks, but am now the Senior IT Associate at the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation.

My name is moderately common, as are a couple screen names, so always look for the logo to make sure you're reading something with official Km approval.

You can get to me directly with kyle(@)kylemitchell.org