Squashed

A blog of politics, law, religion, and the tricky spots where they collide.

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For those who don’t know, this dog’s name is Beckett. He’s inhumanly fast and wicked smart.

Well … wicked smart for a dog. By human terms that’s not terribly smart. Basically he’ll fall for the oldest trick in the book multiple times before catching on. 

The pose he’s in, with the toy bone, is basically a game of steal the bacon. If I get it first, I throw it and we play fetch. If he gets it first, we play tug. Tug is a stupid game.

Obviously, he’s faster than I am. But if I wave my left hand around, he stops paying attention to the right. “Look a squirrel!” also works. The only problem is that he’ll eventually catch on.  And then I’ll have taught one of God’s innocent creatures about lying.

For those who don’t know, this dog’s name is Beckett. He’s inhumanly fast and wicked smart.

Well … wicked smart for a dog. By human terms that’s not terribly smart. Basically he’ll fall for the oldest trick in the book multiple times before catching on.

The pose he’s in, with the toy bone, is basically a game of steal the bacon. If I get it first, I throw it and we play fetch. If he gets it first, we play tug. Tug is a stupid game.

Obviously, he’s faster than I am. But if I wave my left hand around, he stops paying attention to the right. “Look a squirrel!” also works. The only problem is that he’ll eventually catch on. And then I’ll have taught one of God’s innocent creatures about lying.

"I sue banks."

"What do you do?" is one of those questions that calls for different levels of detail depending on the context. If I’m feeling particularly glib, I sometimes answer, "I sue banks."

People rarely ask the obvious follow-ups. Why do you sue banks? What did the banks do to deserve so much suing?

Instead they say things like, “That’s God’s work. Keep it up.”

This is a pretty dramatic shift from a few years back. Previously people wanted details. Are you suing banks because you’re a money-grubbing lawyer or some kind of quixotic bleeding heart who doesn’t understand the financial system?1 That’s all changed.

Some of it was the recession. Some of it was Occupy. Whatever the cause, it’s a pretty widespread assumption that the banks are so thoroughly up to things they should not be up to that the specifics of why they’re being sued isn’t particularly relevant. “I sue banks” is a bit like saying, “I punch Nazis.”


  1. The answer I’m looking for is quixotic bleeding heart with a head for numbers. 

In a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Tuesday, [Manuel Noriega,] the 80-year-old once known as one of Latin America’s most powerful strongmen accused the Activision Blizzard video game company of harming his reputation with “Call of Duty: Black Ops II.” Noriega — convicted of drug trafficking, money laundering and killing political opponents — is serving out a prison sentence in Panama, where he was extradited in 2011.

The theory that those who start reasonably equal cannot remain reasonably equal is a fallacy founded entirely on a society in which they start extremely unequal.

—G.K. Chesterton, The Outline of Sanity (1927).

Congress sought to deal with this problem in 1997 by passing the Leahy amendment, a provision named after Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) that prohibits aid to units and individuals thought to be involved in gross human rights violations…. Such vetting ought to be built into the new partnership program. But the administration is seeking to neuter the Leahy amendment by giving the defense secretary the authority to disregard it by asserting that “it is in the national security interest to do so.” In fact, allowing aid to flow to foreign military units that commit major human rights crimes cannot be in the U.S. interest in any circumstances. Congress should reject the ­exemption.

rncresearch:

CBS: New Scandal At VA Involving Disability Benefits

This is a big problem, assuming it turns out to be accurate. The detail that isn’t mentioned in the story is that back disability pay is typically dated to the initial application. So changing that date may be effectively stealing thousands or tens of thousands of dollars from Veterans.

(There wasn’t quite enough detail in the story to determine whether that was happening.)

Citigroup and U.S. Reach $7 Billion Mortgage Settlement - NYTimes.com

NPR quoted some finance guy saying something to the effect that the Justice Department should prosecute people criminally rather than going after the banks for these gigantic civil settlements. After all, these settlements mostly hurt the companies and the shareholders.

The only problem is that deals like this don’t rule out criminal prosecution. Those aren’t mutually exclusive things. Prosecuting the little fish would treat their transgressions like isolated incidents. They weren’t.

A government watchdog agency said an estimated $106 billion in payments were made in error last year: meaning they were the wrong amount, went to the wrong person or lacked sufficient documentation.

Government makes $106 billion in improper payments - Jul. 9, 2014

CNN.com is basically Clickhole at this point. The headline linking to this article said, “Feds send $106 billion to wrong people.” That’s not what the article says at all.

A payment made without sufficient documentation is far different from a payment made to the wrong person. It’s just that somebody didn’t get all their paperwork in order. Maybe there’s a problem behind that. Or maybe it’s just that somebody thought the paperwork wasn’t as important as the Government Accountability Office thought it was. Little Susie needs a reduced price school lunch. Little Susie obviously qualifies. But maybe somebody decided to just sign off on the thing rather than insisting that Susie’s parents document their lack of income by going to whatever office they need to go to and filling out a pain-in-the-neck form in a language they maybe or maybe don’t understand.

So do your paperwork. Maybe it’s important. But “missing paperwork” is completely different than “we paid the wrong guy.”

virtualephemera:

englishprof:

Facebook Users Denounce Steven Spielberg’s Senseless Killing of Dinosaurs
For what it’s worth, I showed the above picture to my 3.5-year-old son, whose entire knowledge of the movie has been gleaned from like four YouTube clips. Here’s a transcript of our conversation:

Me: Hey. What’s this?Son: A dinosaur.Me: What kind?Son: Triceratops. Me: What’s it from?Son: I don’t know—ummm, oh, Jurassic Park!Me: Thank you.Son: Why was that triceratops sick?


The mystery of what caused dinosaur extinction has finally be solved. Damn you, Spielberg. You son of a bitch.

"If time travel were possible, why don’t we see all the time travelers?"

Why? Because you’re too boring. Who wants to visit this century. The time travelers are obviously all hunting dinosaurs to extinction.

virtualephemera:

englishprof:

Facebook Users Denounce Steven Spielberg’s Senseless Killing of Dinosaurs

For what it’s worth, I showed the above picture to my 3.5-year-old son, whose entire knowledge of the movie has been gleaned from like four YouTube clips. Here’s a transcript of our conversation:

Me: Hey. What’s this?
Son: A dinosaur.
Me: What kind?
Son: Triceratops.
Me: What’s it from?
Son: I don’t know—ummm, oh, Jurassic Park!
Me: Thank you.
Son: Why was that triceratops sick?

The mystery of what caused dinosaur extinction has finally be solved.

Damn you, Spielberg. You son of a bitch.

"If time travel were possible, why don’t we see all the time travelers?"

Why? Because you’re too boring. Who wants to visit this century. The time travelers are obviously all hunting dinosaurs to extinction.

A lot of congressfolk are demanding that Obama visit the border

It’s not clear what he’s supposed to do while he’s there. Presumably pose for photographs for negative campaign adds. But I suppose anybody can demand whatever they want of the President.

Can we change that rule slightly, though? I’d like the rule to be that you can demand anything you want to demand from the President unless you’re a member of a Congress with single digit approval ratings. Because maybe you need to prioritize getting your own branch of government in shape. Perhaps hold off on throwing stones until you figure out how to get that approval rating up to, say, 25%?