Who was at the Boston Free Speech rally?

a photo of Boston Free Speech protesters
Boston Free Speech protesters

So, this morning at brunch, my girlfriend and I watched live news coverage of the Boston Free Speech rally and its infinitely larger protest. The narrative seemed to be that the protesters were all liberal bleeding-heart types and that the rally attendees were a bunch of racist, Donald Trump supporting, alt-right white folk. But, a few hours later, Scott Adams (the creator of Dilbert) took to Periscope asking if anyone knew for sure that the Boston Free Speech group was actually there to promote racism. And, of the 1,000+ people watching his Periscope, no one (myself included) seemed to know.

This is me trying to answer that question. Now, I don’t actually know for certain who all showed up to this event. What I do know is the list of speakers the group published shortly before the event. Here is the annotated list. Continue reading Who was at the Boston Free Speech rally?

What is the caselaw regarding cops killing people?

bullet with police badge and kkk maskHere in the United States it feels like a week can’t go by without a white cop killing an unarmed black man. It’s a distressing situation made that much more overwhelming by all the complicated and unresolved social problems it brings front and center for all the bobbleheads to poke and prod and jabber about but do nothing to change.

I don’t think I’m capable of adequately understanding and addressing all of those issues. Hell, I know I’m not. However, one question I can at least scratch the surface of is the question of caselaw. I spent a recent Sunday quaffing coffee and Googling the shit out of terms like “officer-involved shooting”, “deadly force”, “excessive force” and “police brutality”, and now I am an expert on the subject.1

What I gleaned through my Cyberian wanderings is that the caselaw deals with three subjects: the criminality of the officer’s conduct (Did s/he commit murder/manslaughter?), the liability of the officer (Can the victim’s family sue him/her personally?), and the liability of the officer’s employer (Should the state/city/agency compensate the victim’s family?). In other words, we’re dealing with criminal law (Should the officer go to prison?) and civil law (Can the officer/police department be sued?).

I’ll relate what I found regarding all of these, but we’ll start by defining our terms. Next I’ll talk about the civil law. I’ll end with a discussion of the criminal caselaw. Continue reading What is the caselaw regarding cops killing people?

I’m all out of give-a-shit: the difference between giving a shit and giving a shit about pretending to give a shit

Bow Ties Blue and Red Fucking AnarchistI bought Sarah Knight’s The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a Fuck the other day. It was one of those caffeinated-out-of-your-mind-while-wandering-around-Barnes-&-Noble kind of decisions. I’ve read about half of it now and have to say that it’s something of a primer. The reality is that, as Knight herself attests, she’s something of a #zerofucksgiven newb. I meanwhile have been giving zero fucks for most of my life. While a funny book that imparts advice many people really need to hear; as a primer, Knight’s book misses much of the nuance involved in not giving a fuck. So I’ve dedicated this blog post  to one of those nuances. Continue reading I’m all out of give-a-shit: the difference between giving a shit and giving a shit about pretending to give a shit

Does Zoloft cause weight gain?

Zoloft (Sertraline) Side Effects by Percent
Zoloft (Sertraline) Side Effects by Percent

My doctor prescribed me Zoloft a while back, and I almost immediately put on 10 pounds, and a question I’ve had ever since is, does Zoloft (aka Sertraline hydrochloride) cause weight gain? Well, let’s find out. (And let me preface all of this by saying that–as Jon Lajoie would put it–I’m just a regular everyday normal guy, not a doctor or scientist or whathaveyou; and I’m not giving advice, just dispensing wisdumb.)

Continue reading Does Zoloft cause weight gain?

Whose input goes into the USDA food pyramid?

four versions of the U.S.D.A. food pyramid from 1943 to present
USDA food pyramid (1943, 1992, 2005, 2011)

A question I’ve had for years is: Whose input goes into the USDA food pyramid/guide? In conversation, a few people have told me that meat, dairy and wheat farmer organizations hire big-money lobbyists to heavily influence these recommendations. As something of a cynic, that’s always seemed quite plausible to me; but I’ve always retained some doubt. I mean, would a federal agency really compromise the quality of its dietary advice for decades in order to placate some farmers? Well, it kinda looks like the answer is yes. Continue reading Whose input goes into the USDA food pyramid?

Does sentience make us special?

From the time I was a kid, I was told I was special. I was special because my parents loved me. I was special because Caucasian Jesus loved me. I was special because I was born in the Muthafuckin-U-S-of-A. Et cetera. And I’m not alone. I suspect most of us grow up feeling somehow special, somehow significant. We all feel like the star of our very own Truman Show. One reason we spend so much of life being pissy is because we don’t understand why other people don’t treat us like the rock stars we feel we are. Continue reading Does sentience make us special?

Which is worse for the environment–wildfires or suppressing them?

I was scrolling through the notes app on my iPhone recently and saw this question I posed to myself but never answered: Which is worse for the environment–wildfires or fighting them? Sitting in a chain coffee shop, quaffing caffein and eating a bagel, I figured, What better time to research that question than right now? Continue reading Which is worse for the environment–wildfires or suppressing them?

Why redneck women are so hot: the theory of Natural Light selection

I whiled away my teenage years and much of my twenties in Northwest Florida where rural communities are plentiful as are the redneck women and men who inhabit them. And a question that came up again and again was: Why are there so many beautiful women living out in the middle of Bumfuck Nowhere? I mean, you stop in one of those towns where the gas station is also the general store–you go inside and it’s like a mini Walmart/redneck petting zoo–and this mud-caked pickup truck pulls up beside you, and out hops this gorgeous woman with long, flowing hair, a golden tan and a six pack that Ciara would muff-dive Monica for; and she’s wearing camouflage and hunter orange; and the guy riding shotgun has a beer gut, neck hair and a half-empty Natural Light can for a spit cup; and you think: What the fuck? Continue reading Why redneck women are so hot: the theory of Natural Light selection

Jakob E. Wagner, Wisconsin Antigo High School prom shooter, and the Tragedy Troll

Jakob E. Wagner's Instagram Profile
Jakob E. Wagner’s Instagram Profile

Jakob E. Wagner, of Antigo Wisconsin, shot two people at the Antigo High School prom this past Saturday night. His motive is still unknown. Chances are, by the time it is known, the national media will have moved on. After all, a so-called “mass shooting” where the only fatality was the shooter is hardly big news. But, while the news media might have the attention span of a 3 year old on crack, the internet rarely forgets; and its bottom-feeders are usually the last to move on.

Continue reading Jakob E. Wagner, Wisconsin Antigo High School prom shooter, and the Tragedy Troll

Rise of the professional troll

Jaime Cochran aka @asshurtmacfags
Jaime Cochran, aka @asshurtmacfags, on HuffPost Live in 2012

I’d never heard of professional trolls until I watched a Kali Muscle video on YouTube recently. After his antics ended, YouTube made its usual “you might also like” suggestions. I clicked on one purporting to be about how nobody should take Kali’s exercise advice. But the video wasn’t about that. It was just some twenty-something guy doing a voice-over to a video by the person I’d just watched, talking shit, making a lot of ad hominem remarks, but saying nothing instructive or constructive–basically, a shitty imitation of MST3K  schtick. I’d stumbled upon a professional troll. Continue reading Rise of the professional troll