Most people pay no attention to terms of service. Maybe they heard somewhere that they probably weren’t enforceable. Or something. Most of us aren’t worth suing anyway, even if they were. And frankly, you can’t even exist if you read every one of the click-throughs that pops up. If you use a Windows Surface 2 for the purpose it is advertised, you violate the EULA. I saw an agreement earlier today that said that the terms could change without notice so you should review it every time you visit the site. Nobody does this.
If you want to unleash a bit of chaos on the world, try pulling this sort of stunt yourself. Send a letter to General Mills saying that by accepting a coupon tendered by you they agree to donate $50 to your favorite nonprofit. Or make it a bit different. Or maybe your IP address in it and say that by sending data from their website to that IP address they agree that any future contracts of adhesion between you and the company must be negotiated in Klingon. Or perhaps that by continuing to send data to your IP address will replace the obligations of both parties with those used in standard industry practice.
(Or maybe don’t. There’s a very real chance you’d end up with some sort of blacklisted IP address and a letter from an anxious lawyer.)
The existence of “contracts” that nobody reads, nobody understands, and nobody expects to be enforceable does a real violence to contract law.
nicodemus-blog answered my previous question with another question:
Depends, do you wish to hold yourself to a higher standard or internet bahavior?
First, there is no higher standard of internet behavior than misattributing quotes from Monty Python and the Holy Grail to the founding fathers.
Second, whether or not that “or” was supposed to be an “of” I’m going to roll with it as an “or.” It’s better that way. It forces a choice between a higher standard and internet behavior. Because from Monday through Friday I choose that higher standard. But on the weekends when nobody is reading anyway? It’s time for some internet bahavior.
Little known fact: A few news sites have pioneered the e-mullet. It’s a form of site design where the top of the page is all business and higher standard. But once you scroll down to the paid links and comments it’s all internet bahavior.
It looks like Lamar Alexander just got his first smartphone. He wants the GOP to appeal to kids these days with their iPhones and participation trophies and Twitterverses.
I’m not entirely clear on how the metaphor works. If your goal is a minimally regulated market, iPhone Apps are a terrible analogy. “We insist that businesses to go through a prolonged and opaque approval process before they have access to the market in order to ensure quality services for all citizens.” “We at Apple.gov believe we know how you want to use your device better than you do. We’re willing to sacrifice consumer choice for a sleek and streamlined design.”
I’m not hating on Apple with this. Their products do, after all, have a sleek and streamlined design. It works for them. It’s just … I’m pretty sure those aren’t the Republican’s goals.
“I don’t recognize the United States government as even existing.”—Cliven Bundy, rightwing militia hero for refusing to pay grazing fees for his cattle in Nevada. (via politicalprof)
I’m not terribly sympathetic to the sort of tax cheat who offers grand explanations for why he shouldn’t have to pay taxes like everybody else. If you’re going to be a dick about paying taxes, own it like an honest crook. Or deny it like a rationally self-interested crook.
But this is even sillier. It’s one thing to want to be left alone. It’s another level of dickery to insist that you have a right to exploit public resources without following any rules.
I was watching a movie about this functionally invincible protagonist struggles to get over his own douchery. Except he’s only douchey because he feels inadequate, so it’s okay. With the help of a woman he learned that he was special and powerful. But then he let it get to his head. Fortunately the woman helped him get over himself just in time to avert catastrophe. For her.
I forget which movie it was. Maybe it was Thor. Or Iron Man. Or maybe the Lion King. Or maybe it was pretty much every single other super hero movie ever made. Maybe it was the Iliad. It’s a pretty common plot.
I’m just saying that our heroes seem to be having trouble getting their lives together. And our supervillians? Sure, they’ve got some problems too. Most of them are trying to save the world—they just struggle with criminal insanity. They’re doing the best with what they’ve got. But if your mind is shattered by the cruelty of a broken world, at least you’re rocking a decent excuse for a bit of self-obsession.
I caught a few minutes of a CSPAN radio call in show. A moderator and two person panel fielded questions from three phone lines. “Republican,” Democratic,” and “Independent.” As you might predict, there were some differing views from the caller. But they shared some common ground. Specifically, they were all utterly bonkers.
Every single person who called in espoused both bizarrely extreme policies AND made at least one major factual misstatement. (One of the democrats, for example, seemed to miss that gasoline refined from crude oil was not the same stuff as the natural gas extracted through fracking.)
And these are the people who are passionate enough about politics that they listen to C-SPan radio and call in. In other words, they’re voters. And they’re probably more informed than the bulk of the electorate.
But once all these votes get considered collectively, things mostly workout. I know things aren’t perfect. But they’re way better than they woudl be if any of these callers got their way on everything.
When a major pleading is due, I sometimes end up at the office a bit later than usual. Everything is quiet. There are no interruptions. Things start coming together beautifully. I take a bit of pride in my work. And that pride necessarily extends to the probable reaction of the sucker attorney on the otherside who’s about to get a few hundred pages of reality dropped on him. It’s not just imminent victory. It’s the growing probability that the victory will be so powerful and so glorious that the law itself will change.
There’s only one problem. It does something curious to my inner monologue. It starts channeling supervillains. There’s a lot of crushing of enemies and bending of wills. Sometimes it’s just manic laughter and explosions.
I assume this is standard career satisfaction stuff?
What are your thoughts on limited liability corporations? From my basic understanding, there are no ethical or moral reasons not to repeal limited liability, only utilitarian reasons. Would love to hear your thoughts!
This is now the most amount of time that I have ever spent thinking about limited liability corporations.
“So no liberal is going to win a debate that big government freed the slaves. In fact, it was Abraham Lincoln, the very first Republican, who took this on as a cause and a lot of it was based on a love in his heart that comes from God.”—
Jim DeMint, head of the Heritage Foundation, helpfully proving that he does not understand how slavery ended in the United States. Lincoln’s love, while real, needed millions of troops and workers to enforce, for example.
So … this has got to be an awkward topic for DeMint. It’s not just that the actual Civil War was pretty unambiguously the assertion of power by a federal government against certain states and their perceived rights for the purpose of ending slavery. DeMint’s other problem is that the entire abolition movement was basically things DeMint doesn’t like organizing against the darkest excess of the era’ capitalism.
Either you accept Leviticus, state the bible is selectively flawed, or discard the bible. If the bible is selectively flawed you are absolutely no more or less justified than some gay-bashing idiot in rooting your faith in any aspect of the bible.
The only responses I have ever received to this line of reasoning have been nine-paragraph circuitous garbage fires.
It needn’t take nine paragraphs.
The Bible is collections of texts. Some are poetry. Some are histories. Some are letters. The texts were written a long time ago. The texts were collected a long time ago. The texts were written for various purposes. The texts were selected for various reasons. Things changed. The texts were translated.
Insisting that the Bible should be read in the same way as Harry Potter is juvenile. So, chucking the whole thing because a few parts of one book seem to have some tension with other parts. Also it’s weird to call people hypocritical for learning things. “You used to believe electrons orbited the atom like planets and now you believe they hang out in a probability cloud. Hypocritical waffling!”
RE: Squashed's constitutional amendment #6. Changing the Senate to be elected by proportional popular vote would change the dynamics of federalism in the US and raise the question: if the Senate is not representing the states (as intended by the constitution) why even keep the Senate? Why modify the Senate? Why not just abolish it and have a unicameral legislature base upon the House?
There are three questions in here.
Do I care about changing the Constitutional balance between the several states? Not really. One person, one vote is far more important to me than preserving the historical curiosities that led to the Senate.
Should be be concerned that adjusting the Senate to a proportional popular vote could result in electing folks without geographically defined constituencies? Yes. And this one bothers me a lot. In fact, my proposal would be a disaster on that front. The parties would nominate lists where the first handful of people are guys you might want to vote for. But after that, it would just be party loyalists.
Is there nevertheless a good reason for bicameralism? Yes. Can you imagine how rapidly and disastrously the law would change if the House of Representatives could make law all by itself Between 2008 and 2010 we’d have had a dozen different healthcare laws passed. Between 2010 and 2012 they would all have been repealed. And we’d probably have invaded Canada.
But overall, point well taken. Let’s strike my proposal to change the Senate until such time as I come up with a better way to do it. How about this:
Ninety senators are elected from 30 districts of roughly equal populations across the country. Each person has three senators elected for six year terms. Every two years one stands for reelection.
Ever two years three other Senators are elected by national popular vote.
Maybe there’s one other guy to make it an even hundred. I’m not sure how he gets chosen. Let’s make him Ron Paul to start out with. *But* at any time, any member of the Senate or House of Representatives can challenge him to single combat and the winner immediately gets the seat. But if you lose, you lose your seat and the Hundredth Senator gets to nominate your replacement. Per the rules of the new Senate, combat will have priority over any other order of business, so you can do a challenge as sort of a filibuster but more awesome.
I’m still working out some of the details of that last point.
Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens has a new book out where he proposes six amendments to the Constitution. Three are new; three are amendments to existing portions. What six (or however many you might have) would you like to see?
That’s a tough one. We haven’t amended the Constitution in over twenty years. I was eleven. And that was a tiny thing about Congressional pay that apparently took 202 years to ratify. Before that one, it was another twenty years. We haven’t amended the Constitution in my memory. At least, not explicitly. And it’s not even that we haven’t amended the Constitution recently. We haven’t even come close. So … it’s a bit intimidating to think of what I could do, given a chance. But … let’s try this.
1. Change Redistricting. It turns out that this is the same as Justice Steven’s 2nd proposal. I couldn’t think of an elegant way to phrase it, but it’s such an obvious one that I assumed it had to be one of his proposals.
2. Something to guarantee a quality K-12 education for all Americans. I’m not quite sure how to phrase this one. Basically if we have under-resourced schools, everybody’s taxes keep going up until things approve.
3. All permanent residents are entitled to the same rights as citizens. Lawful permanent resident status converts to citizenship by operation of law after three years.
4. Civil Gideon. You have a right to representation by an attorney in civil proceedings involving child custody, property forfeiture, eviction, and so on.
5. Pay parity between prosecutors and public defenders.
6. Replace the Senate with a body selected by a proportional popular vote. When I first heard this one, I thought it was a terrible idea. But I also lived in Montana.
7. No more homelessness, hunger, or death from medically preventable causes. There’s no reason we can’t Constitutionally guarantee a minimum standard of living for everybody.
Now that I’m reading Stevens’ suggestions, I’d also like to abolish the death penalty. And I think I’d strike the second amendment in its entirety.
It’s a tough year for the Democrats. The folks voted in in the 2008 landslide are now up for reelection. So that’s going to be tough. On the other hand, the Republicans have been *so* cooperative in self-destructing lately. The chances that they’ll make it to election without some epic meltdowns seem pretty low.
Sorry, guys. I may be turning into the world’s least interesting political blogger. Of late I’ve been increasingly convinced that:
1) Minute-to-minute analysis of any political situation is relatively pointless because single data points are less significant than long term trends; and
2) I don’t know enough about most things to be able to write intelligently about them.
Also, it’s not an election year. It’s hard to maintain even the delusion of relevance. Or perhaps it’s more that things have been good lately and the urge to seek validation on the Internet hasn’t been particularly high.
The point is, it’s the sort of quiet Saturday night that would be great to squander on the Internet. But I don’t actually have anything to say. Let me know if you have any ideas. Or just say hi. If you’re reading this on a Saturday night, you know how it is.
It occurs to me that the debate over whether or not college athletes should be paid is really a debate between three groups of people.
People who think college athletes should be paid because talented and hardworking people should be appropriately compensated.
People who think that college athletes should not be paid because I don’t know amateurism or something.
People who think semi-professional sports teams are a distraction from the core mission of a university.
I suspect that group #2 is probably a pretty small group. And group #3 is primarily composed of people who don’t much like sports.
I thought they got paid with a college education? I’ve heard that’s expensive these days…
Yes, but also no, right? If you’re the star center on the basketball team and a critical piece of a billion dollar industry, a college scholarship is sort of a weird side benefit. It’s great if you’re there to get an education and a degree. It’s less great if you’re you’re primarily an athlete and have a schedule arranged to ensure that you maintain eligibility while distracting you as little as possible from athletics?
If my employer informed me that my salary was going to be replaced by an education scholarship, I’d be livid. Earning another degree isn’t part of my life plan at the moment. By the same token, if you’re giving out full ride college scholarships for people who otherwise could not afford to go, athletic prowess is only tangentially related to the educational goal.
Of course, I’m cool with schools giving out athletic scholarships if it results in a massive influx of money that can be used to advance things I care about.
Ten months after Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA was collecting US telephone records in bulk, three sets of proposals have emerged to change the way the agency operates. All would end the data collection program in its current form, but there are crucial differences between the rival plans.
Take a look and compare the plans that could change United States surveillance practices.
The House proposal is, essentially, whitewashing the same problems. The proposal in the Senate is stalled in committee. Obama’s proposal would be an okay proposal—but it’s really something that should be done by the legislature.
I’m seeing some confused things written about unwarranted searches and electronic privacy. To clarify:
If you do something publicly, it’s probably not even a search.
If there is a warrant, it is, by definition, not an unwarranted search.
These are two very important questions to ask any time you’re reading about an invasion of privacy. (Other questions are whether sufficient evidence existed to justify the warrant and whether the warrant was sufficiently narrow.)
I missed an important point in my previous post criticizing Paul Ryan and his supporters. Paul Ryan is a guy who never met a market he didn’t want to french kiss. But the moment he starts talking poverty, suddenly it’s a fuzzy culture thing.
Don’t look for actual economic causes of systemic poverty. Don’t look at the systemic and deliberate stripping of wealth from vulnerable neighborhoods. Don’t ask why the labor market is so soft and the home ownership rate so low. Just blame “inner city culture.” It’s just some intangible inferiority Ryan believes all those “inner city” folks have.
I’m just saying, you can’t blame people for mistaking him for a racist.
Why is it controversial to recognize that much crime and social breakdown aligns with low-income black neighborhoods? Golly, I wonder if they are related. Not inherently, of course, but it’s obvious they go hand-in hand in our culture. The author’s point is that Obama can say similar things about inner-city culture (yes, I said it—it’s an easy and useful reference term), and can get away with it.
Lots of people speed on the Interstate. If you’re a cop, it’s your job to pull some folks over now and then. It’s not a problem if some of those folks are black. It is a big problem when all of those folks are black.
You’ve identified black people as the source of a variety of social ills on a number of occasions. But rural, white meth addicts don’t get a mention. Nor do the urban white folks largely responsible for off-shoring jobs and wage depression. The extent of the analysis of poverty seems to be a slightly frillier way of the unambiguously racist “black people are lazy” slur.
There are three reasons Obama can talk about generational poverty as one part of a broader discussion about poverty in America without drawing the heat that Ryan draws. First, he’s established a record of talking about poverty in its entirety. He’s going to discuss all of poverty, not just the part that suits his political purposes. International poverty has been a major agenda item for Obama. Second, Obama’s not a tourist. Maybe you don’t think highly of a few years as a community organizer. Whatever. Obama spent a real chunk of his life working in a very real, very hands on way with some very poor folks. At some point, you’ve shown enough commitment to a cause that you can bring up some of the darker stuff without people assuming you’re a hater. Third—and yes, this is a double standard—if Obama starts sounding a bit like Paul Ryan, people assume he’s trying to reach out to Paul Ryan. Or somebody a lot like Paul Ryan. He probably is. People understand how the game is played. They’re willing to cut him a bit of slack because they know that when the chips are down Obama has their backs.
Put more simply, Obama has the record needed to be taken seriously when he talks about poverty. Paul Ryan’s record suggests that he’s just casually sniping at black people to pad his resume.
“So even though Mr. Ryan never mentioned race, liberals attacked his off-the-cuff remarks as racist while the President’s moral lecture [communicating the same basic point] was hardly noticed. Republicans are accused of racism if they ignore the least fortunate, and now they’re racist for taking poverty and its causes seriously. Unless you unreservedly favor the welfare status quo, or used to be a community organizer, the left gets you coming and going.”
We have got this tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work, so there’s a cultural problem that has to be dealt with.
I think we should give Ryan the benefit of the doubt and assume he’s peddling thinly-veiled racist stereotypes. Because if he isn’t, he looks pretty dumb.
I work in an shiny office building in the middle of the city. It’s surrounded by other office buildings and people are busy, busy, busy. If Ryan means “the middle of the cit” by “inner city” then it doesn’t get an more inner city than my building full of lawyers. Inner city real estate is pretty expensive—so you need a good paying job to live here. You’d have to be pretty dumb to assume that this inner city culture of over-priced martinis and luxury condos has generations of men “not even thinking about working or learning the value and culture of work.”
Except that you and I both know that Ryan wasn’t talking about the downtown office buildings when he said “inner city.” He was talking about the urban blight part of the city. The “inner city” that is used in contrast to the suburbs and the ex-urbs. The “inner city” that only became a thing as redlining, white flight, and racial tension re-segregated schools and gutted urban neighborhoods. Paul Ryan was talking about black people.
I’ll believe that Ryan is taking the causes of poverty seriously when he says something intelligent about poverty. Public assistance is minimal and sucky. If Ryan thinks that people would choose public assistance over the best job the can find, maybe it’s time to talk seriously about incentivizing employment. Maybe raise the minimum wage to make that an easy choice.
Massachusetts Bill Senate Bill 787 titled “An Act relative to divorce,” seeks to add the following language to the divorce act:
In divorce, separation, or 209A proceedings involving children and a marital home, the party remaining in the home shall not conduct a dating or sexual relationship within the home until a divorce is final and all financial and custody issues are resolved, unless the express permission is granted by the courts.
(For the non-lawyers, yes, this is a proposed law that says, among other things, that if you’re a domestic violence victim and get a restraining order ordering the abuser out of the house, you’re not allowed to conduct a “dating or sexual relationship” within the home during the years it could take to get things finalized. Don’t worry, this will never become law. As in, it’s not even worth being outraged about.)
I don't think the anonymous interlocutor inferred anywhere in his post that black people would somehow be more likely to dress less "appropriately" than white people. I don't know why you would seem to jump to that conclusion. He also did not insinuate that racism as a whole is based on clothing. He simply disagreed with your notion that white people are somehow inherently more likely to be treated better. Neil deGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye are taken more seriously than Jay-Z and Justin Bieber.
So why did the interlocutor start talking about clothing again? I said that racism was a problem and she was like, “No, it’s just about clothes.” I’m pretty sure she wasn’t asserting that implicit bias was not a thing. She was just trying to attribute it to clothing. As discussed earlier, this was not the most clever argument—but that was the argument. And I think it’s only fair to assume the best.
Because if she were trying to argue that white people are not more likely to be treated better, that would be a pretty dumb argument to make. I mean, maybe you could plausibly make the argument if there hadn’t been [reams of studies](http://kirwaninstitute.osu.edu/docs/SOTS-Implicit_Bias.pdf) on this sort of thing that consistently found disparate outcomes on every measurable thing despite controlling for everything. It’s not like this is just one zany outlier study. This is all about as established as it gets.
I don’t know much about Ukraine.1 I’m not remotely qualified to speak about the complicated geopolitical situation. A few minutes ago, I learned from Wikipedia that the correct usage is “Ukraine” rather than “the Ukraine.” And if I ever say something like, “Ukraine is an indispensable strategic gateway between Europe and Asia,” I’m talking about Risk.
With that said, I’ve gotten reasonably good at spotting lopsided media coverage—and something about the coverage of Crimea doesn’t sit well with me. The dominant narrative in the U.S. goes something like this:
Vladamir Putin just up an annexed a chunk of Ukraine because he’s a tyrant and misses the cold war. The world is letting him get away with this because it is weak and/or scared.
The problem with this is that I don’t think things are going particularly well for Putin. Invading Crimea reads more as “desperate gambit” than “casual imperialism.” I wonder if it’s more helpful to conceptualize this crisis as less a military struggle between the United States and Russia and more as an economic and cultural clash between the European Union and Russia. And in that case it looks less like Russia is snagging Crimea (which it pretty much already had) and more as if the European Union walks off with the remainder of Ukraine.
Does it make sense to think of the E.U. as a superpower?
A few people pointed out that it might make sense not to write about something I know I know very little about. It’s true—but that hasn’t stopped anybody else. I suppose I could have opened with, “Most of what you all are writing about Ukraine is obvious rubbish. I’m not an expert, and even I know you should be ashamed.” But that’s not my style. So if you’re an expert, a personal witness, or somebody who can tell me where I went wrong, please do. Otherwise, deal with it. ↩
I gave a snarky reply a few hours ago to the anonymous interlocutor who suggested that systemic racism had more to do with clothing and “hygiene” than it did with racism. As backwards as I think that suggestion was, that was a dubious call on my part. I’m sure the argument was earnestly believed and offered in good faith. And I’m sure the questioner will choose a word other than hygiene the next time the topic comes up. I probably shouldn’t play so heavily into the questioner’s likely assumption that she’s a reasonable person and that the ugliest parts of our past and present will melt away before the brilliant light of white logic.
Here’s the problem with the “it’s about how people dress, not about race” bit:
I mentioned disparate treatment based on race—and my buddy somehow assumes I’m actually talking about clothing. I’m not sure quite where the short-circuit occurred. Is it that he pictured a white guy and a black guy, mentally dressed them up based on a stereotype, and then used that stereotype to reach a conclusion? Or is that he equates “respectably dressed” as “dressed like a white dude”? Either way, it’s a problem.
What type of clothing did you think about when you thought “respectably dressed?” What type of clothing do you think of as not respectably dressed? Is one less functional? Is one fabric a lower quality? Or is the only problem with the clothing the person you assume would be wearing it?
Regarding your racism and privilege post - if a white person dresses like a bum or "white trash", they will not be taken seriously. Likewise, if a black person dresses respectably and takes care of his appearance, the odds of his personality being perceived as intelligent and serious increase. Isn't it less to do with race and more to do with each person's individual approach to appearance and hygiene?
(The other problem is that your assumptions on what counts as dressing “respectably” have a whole set of assumptions about race, culture, and wealth built into them.)
The other day, I heard a generally reasonable person proclaim in complete seriousness that he did not harbor any prejudices. Part of me wanted to explain to him that as much as I appreciated the sentiment, gross and easily quantifiable racial inequality seemed to persist, and that if you don’t have a damned good explanation for why things are the way they are you can safely assume that you’re unwittingly complicit. But where to begin?
Perhaps I could have explained it this way: If I write somebody a letter, it gets taken seriously. The guy opening it shows it to his manager. His manager shows it to her manager. Maybe I still don’t get what I want—but I get treated well and taken seriously. My letters—even the angry ones—are unfailingly polite. I don’t need to be angry to get somebody’s attention. I just need to sign the letter “Attorney at Law.”
Being a white guy has the same relative effect. It takes negligble effort to be treated well and taken seriously
In Utah, the documents show, a former state attorney general, John Swallow, sought to transform his office into a defender of payday loan companies, an industry criticized for preying on the poor with short-term loans at exorbitant interest rates.
So McCain wants to send troops to Crimea or something. I mean, there’s not a lot of places McCain doesn’t want to send troops. But it would be nice if McCain would try out some solution other than “hit it with a stick.” Acting dumb and violent isn’t really necessary for geopolitical credibility.
Remember that one week where it looked like there was a chance of a McCain/Palin presidency?
This isn’t just an Amazon problem. In the last few years, Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter have all made huge attempts to move into major parts of each others’ businesses, usually at the detriment of their customers or users.
I don’t like it when corporations act like insecure preteens. Or insecure and overbearing boyfriends. “Hang out with me, not Microsoft. I am your everything now. What, are you afraid of commitment. Privacy is dead.”
Sorry, im sure you get asked this all the time but what type of law do you practice? And do you think that being a lawyer is becoming more clerical (bureaucratic in a sense) and leaving critical thinking behind?
I do foreclosure prevention. I basically sue banks for fun and justice.
I don’t at all think that being being a lawyer is becoming more clerical. I feel like I’ve pretty much innovated two wholly novel legal theories in the past twenty-four hours.