Archive for August, 2017

Quote of the day.

Wednesday, August 30th, 2017

We have sort of a trifecta today, because we can’t choose. All three by way of the Hacker News Twitter, the first two from the same source:

“Blindly trusting authority to make our ethical decisions for us is the best way to separate ourselves from the Nazis!”

The IRB listened patiently to all this, then said that it had to be in pen. You know who else had people sign consent forms in pencil…?

The third one really isn’t a quote of the day. You should just read the whole thing: “Laser Products I Hate”. Including why you shouldn’t give money to Kickstarter for that Cubiio piece of crap.

TMQ Watch: August 29, 2017.

Wednesday, August 30th, 2017

Week two. Gesundheit.

Our count is roughly 9,400 words. Will TMQ join the 10,000 Club this season? We would not be surprised.

(And this is why we’re running behind: we do plan to try to get these up on Tuesday, but if the Weekly Standard is going to let Easterbrook run on as long as he wants, without apparent editing or restrictions, we can’t promise that.)

After the jump, this week’s column…



Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

By way of Patrick Non-White: a series of tweets from Matt Corbett‏ about how flood planning and storm runoff works in Houston.

If you click on that first one, you should be able to follow the rest of the (long) thread from there, though you might have to skip over some stuff about cheerleading.

I’m also not an expert, and haven’t lived in Houston for (mumble mumble) years now, but this fits in with what I do know. I especially appreciate his discussion of the evacuate/don’t evacuate decision: it was more than just partisan politics, it also involved differing sets of priorities.

Bad writer! No cookie!

Monday, August 28th, 2017

Fan fiction isn’t my cup of tea. If you enjoy it, more power to you. And I don’t like making fun of other writers for being supposedly “bad”: it feels kind of like throwing rocks from inside my glass house.

But I ran across a discussion of this work of fan fiction while looking into something else (I’ll get into that “something else” later) and thought it was worth mentioning here. Especially for all you “The Eye of Aragon” fans.

“My Immortal” by “XXXbloodyrists666XXX” is a work of Harry Potter fan fiction. With vampires.

… the story centers on a 17-year-old female vampire, a non-canonical character, and her relationships with the characters of the Harry Potter series, most notably her romantic relationship with Draco Malfoy.


The protagonist of the story is Ebony (occasionally Enoby, Evony, or Egogy) Dark’ness Dementia Raven Way, a seventeen-year-old vampire who attends Hogwarts (located in England instead of originally Scotland) as a member of Slytherin House. Hogwarts is depicted as being divided between two cliques, the goths and the preps. Ebony and all the sympathetic characters are part of the goth clique while the members of the prep clique are portrayed unsympathetically. Many of the main characters of Harry Potter are given “goffik” [sic] makeovers, moved to the Slytherin House, and renamed.

And it gets crazier from there. Draco Malfoy is bisexual, Harry Potter is a vampire, “there is also an unexplained cameo by a gothic Marty McFly, with the DeLorean time machine able to transform into an iPod.”

Also, the author can’t spell:

A third plot point sees Professor McGonagall (often referred to as “McGoogle” or “McGoggles”) and Severus Snape (often called “Snap”, or “Snope” at times) attempting to rape or harm the protagonists. Yet another plot point follow Remus Lupin and Snape being bisexuals who spy on Ebony, at one point resulting in a moment shortly after Draco’s “death” where they are sitting on their broomsticks with “Loopin masticating [sic]” to Ebony bathing.

This was originally published in 44 chapters to The author claims that chapters 39 and 40 were actually written by someone who hacked into their account. And the author also apparently had a falling-out of sorts with “their editor” somewhere around chapter 12. (Personally, the most amazing part to me is that the author had an editor.)

“My Immortal” is no longer on, though copies are still circulating. I haven’t found one yet. If I do, I am tempted to give it a shot. The 44 chapters total to about 22,000 words, so it shouldn’t take too long to struggle through.

But what’s the rest of the story? How did this come to my attention, and why am I interested? Well, there are rumors floating around – based on supposed similarities in the writing – that “XXXbloodyrists666XXX” is actually Lani Sarem, author of the “New York Times bestseller” Handbook for Mortals.


Obit watch: August 28, 2017.

Monday, August 28th, 2017

Noted movie director Tobe “Lifeforce” Hooper.

Okay, okay. He also directed the original “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”. And “Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2”. And “Poltergeist”. And “Toolbox Murders”. And, apparently, an episode of “The Equalizer”.

Tragedy versus comedy.

Saturday, August 26th, 2017

Comedy is when your social network sites are down.

Tragedy is when a legendary local barbecue joint catches fire.

Obit watch: August 26, 2017.

Saturday, August 26th, 2017

Charlie Robertson, two term mayor of York, PA, has died at the age 83.

In July of 1969. Mr. Robertson was a patrol officer on the York police force. There was massive racial unrest going on in York. Another York PD officer, Henry C. Schaad, was shot and died of his injuries two weeks later.

On the night of July 21st, a woman named Lillie Belle Allen, who was visiting from out of town, was shot and killed. She was going to buy groceries with some of her family when their car was ambushed.

More than one hundred rounds were fired at the car, and Allen was shot by several different types of bullets.

Both of these cases languished until 1999, when the local papers published a 30-year retrospective on the riots. People started coming forward with new information, and the local DA reopened the case.

As a result of the new investigation, Mayor Robertson was charged with murder. He’d just won the Democratic primary and was running for a third term, but dropped out of the race after being indicted. Nine other men were charged with crimes as well.

Prosecutors had argued that Mr. Robertson gave ammunition to at least one of the gunmen to avenge Patrolman Schaad’s shooting three days earlier. A co-defendant who pleaded guilty in the case, Rick Knouse, testified that Mr. Robertson had given him rifle bullets and told him to kill as many black people as he could.
Mr. Robertson admitted that he had shouted “White power!” at a gang rally in a city park a day earlier, but he denied the other accusations. He was the first officer to arrive at the scene of the shooting, but neither he nor three other officers disarmed gang members, took witness statements or filed a report.

Seven of the ten men who were indicted pled guilty to lesser charges. Mr. Robertson and two other men went to trial. The two other men, Gregory H. Neff and Robert N. Messersmith, were found guilty of second degree murder.

Mr. Robertson was acquitted.

In case you were wondering, the investigation into Officer Schaad’s death was also reopened. Two other men, Stephen Freeland and Leon Wright, were charged in that case and convicted of second degree murder as well.

1969 York race riot on Wikipedia.

Also among the dead: Cecil D. Andrus, former interior secretary under President Carter.

Loser update.

Friday, August 25th, 2017

The loser update will return again this year. The Entertainment and Sports Programming Network is saying that the Jets are going to be exceptionally awful this year. We’ll see.

Speaking of ESPN, I thought some of my readers might enjoy this: the worst NFL teams of the past 30 years.

Obviously, the 2008 Detroit Lions were the worst of the worst, right? Well, not so fast: ESPN’s ranking is based on their “DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) metric”. So the 2008 Lions aren’t the worst NFL team of the past 30 years: they’re not even the worst Lions team of the past 30 years.

Who was the worst? And are the Houston Texans represented? You’ll have to give ESPN a page view for the answer to the first question. For the second one, yes, indeed, the Texans do show up on both the worst teams and worst offenses list.

Quaint and curious volumes of forgotten lore (#4 in a series).

Thursday, August 24th, 2017

I ran across this one at Half-Price a few weeks ago. It was a little more expensive than I would have liked, but not signed Capstick level. I vacillated on it, but ended up pulling the trigger because:

  1. It is the only copy of this book I’ve ever seen.
  2. It was published by a small press, so it probably isn’t that common.
  3. It was still cheap relative to Amazon asking prices.
  4. I’d actually read about the subject, and the book itself, in Bill James’s Popular Crime. This is a case (kind of like guns) where I paid as much for the story behind the book as the book itself.

He Made It Safe to Murder: The Life of Moman Pruiett by Howard K. Berry.

Who was Moman Pruiett? Like Earl Rogers, Pruiett is one of those forgotten titans of the law. As a criminal lawyer, he operated mostly out of Texas and (what became) Oklahoma, and later Florida, around the turn of the last century. Out of 342 murder cases he acted as the defense attorney for, he won outright acquittals in 304. 37 of his clients were convicted of lesser crimes than murder. The only client of his who was actually sentenced to death received a presidential commutation of his sentence.

How did Moman Pruiett do this? Well, he wasn’t just a criminal lawyer: he was a criminal lawyer. The young Pruiett had two felony convictions on his record and spent three years in prison. In spite of that, he read for the law and somehow managed to gain admission to the bar at the age of 22. It was a different time back then.

Even after being admitted, Pruiett didn’t have a lot of respect for the law: he suborned perjury, manipulated juries (in one case retold by Bill James, Pruiett figured out who the jury foreman was going to be and had the defendant’s sister seduce and move in with the man), kidnapped witnesses, played poker with judges (and, per James, “accepted acquittals to settle debts”) and generally just did whatever he needed to – legal or not – to get his clients off.

There’s an online article that partially retails one of the most famous Pruiett stores. Since this is already running long, I’ll put a jump here.


Random notes: August 24, 2017.

Thursday, August 24th, 2017

Also among the dead: the print edition of the Village Voice.

In other news: WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE!

Keeping your head up, your eyes open, and not driving into high water is probably a good idea. But. I remember the last time a hurricane came ashore near Houston, and was threatening Austin. I was still attending St. Ed’s at the time, and the university was sending out regular updates. There was tremendous hysteria. Everyone was hunkering down waiting for the storm.

In my part of town, the skies turned dark…and we got maybe three drops of rain, total. The hurricane was a giant bust.

I suggest being careful. But I’m not going to put any faith in apocalyptic predictions until the water starts coming over the top of the dam.

Whatever happened to Alice Goodman? She wrote the librettos to John Adams’s “Nixon in China” and “Death of Klinghoffer”…and then she just sort of vanished.

Turns out, she’s an ordained Anglican priest living in England.

“I never drifted away from music,” she said in a recent phone interview. “I couldn’t get work commissioned, so I did what members of my family do when that kind of thing happened: I started another degree. By 1997, I was being offered commissions and collaborations again, but none of them were particularly interesting to me, and my ideas didn’t interest my colleagues.”

Obit watch take 2.

Thursday, August 24th, 2017

To quote John “Daring Fireball” Gruber: “Finally.

NYT obit for Brian Aldiss.

Obit watch: August 24, 2017.

Thursday, August 24th, 2017

Still no NYT obit for Brian Aldiss.

But the paper did run one for outsider artist M. T. Liggett.

He built a sculpture of Hillary Clinton, with a swastika for a torso, that he called “Our Jack-Booted Eva Braun.”

But before you jump to the conclusion that he was a Republican (he actually ran for local office several times as one, but was never elected):

One of Mr. Liggett’s signs links former President George W. Bush to Big Oil and asks for the return of his predecessor, Bill Clinton: “Bring Back Slick Willie.” But he also depicted Mr. Clinton as a bright red hog; he called that work “Razorback Draft Dodger.”

Apparently, he pretty much hated every politician:

Mr. Liggett could sound as angry as Howard Beale, the unhinged anchorman of the movie “Network.” He hated political stupidity, was suspicious of government intrusion into people’s lives and held “turkey politicians,” as he called them, responsible for the 9/11 attacks.

“I got this thing about me,” he said in “Moon Tosser of the Prairie” (2010), a documentary about him that was produced by Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kan. “If you walk up to me and say you’re a Democrat, I’m a Republican. If you’re a Buddhist, I’m a Shinto. If you’re a Catholic, I’m a Protestant.”