State Sponsored Fat Shaming

I know that I’m getting old because I can now say “Back when I was a kid.” Anyways, back when I was a kid we had it pounded into our skulls that you never, ever insulted a person’s weight. This went double if that person was a girl. As it turns out constant bombardment by various media outlets telling girls what the ideal figure was resulted in a lot of eating disorders. So the creed of the day became “Everybody is beautiful” and “True beauty comes from within.”

Now the message is changing. Fat shaming is in. In fact fat shaming is now state sponsored! This may have something to do with the state getting itself more embedded in healthcare and therefore wanting to reduce expenses by getting people to kill themselves with anorexia or bulimia losing weight. And since sources are now claiming obesity is costing the healthcare industry as much as smoking you can bet the state is going to be ramping up its fat shaming propaganda post haste:

The worldwide cost of obesity is about the same as smoking or armed conflict and greater than both alcoholism and climate change, research has suggested.

I don’t look forward to the new wave of eating disorders this is likely to cause.

California Desperately Needs Slave Laborers

The neoliberal paradise of California has a problem. That problem is a shipload of prisoners and only a small rowboat of prisons. This problem actually got so bad at the Nazgûl ruled that a population limit had to be set for the state’s prisons. Well the state’s prison system is not happy about being ordered to free a bunch of its prisoners. Can you guess what it isn’t happy? If you think it has anything to do with potentially dangerous individuals being released onto the street you would be incorrect (since the people being considered for release are nonviolent offenders). It’s because they desperately needs the prisoners for slave labor:

Out of California’s years-long litigation over reducing the population of prisons deemed unconstitutionally overcrowded by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2010, another obstacle to addressing the U.S. epidemic of mass incarceration has emerged: The utility of cheap prison labor.

In recent filings, lawyers for the state have resisted court orders that they expand parole programs, reasoning not that releasing inmates early is logistically impossible or would threaten public safety, but instead that prisons won’t have enough minimum security inmates left to perform inmate jobs.


The Department of Corrections didn’t like this idea, either. It argued that offering 2-for-1 credits to any inmates who perform other prison labor would mean more minimum security inmates would be released earlier, and they wouldn’t have as large of a labor pool. They would still need to fill those jobs by drawing candidates who could otherwise work fighting wildfires, and would be “forced to draw down its fire camp population to fill these vital MSF [Minimum Support Facility] positions.” In other words, they didn’t want to have to hire full-time employees to perform any of the work that inmates are now performing.”

I do appreciate it when the state is honest about its intentions. For far too long it has been claiming that prisons are about reforming criminals and segregating the violent people from the rest of society. In reality it’s about the massive prison-industrial complex that uses slave labor to cut the state’s expenses.

Look Over There

Because there’s nothing here. I’m officiating a wedding this weekend (yeah, I have one of those sweet Internet ordinations) and as part of the ceremony the couple to be wed asked me to give a short speech about marriage. Instead of blogging I’m writing that speech. And because I’m a history nerd this speech requires me to do a bit of research into the history of marriage, which is taking more time than I originally estimated. The bottom line is that you get nothing more today and the rest of the week will be iffy to. If you feel gypped I will be more than happy to send you a refund.

Hear Ye Glorious Warriors of the Three Percent

Raise your hands if you know somebody in the gun rights, libertarian, or neoconservative movement that has advocating shooting a cop acting unlawfully. OK, I can’t actually see your hands so that was a stupid thing for me to request but I believe it’s a safe bet to say individuals connected with these groups know at least one person that fits this description.

Yesterday I ended up in a conversation with an individual who not only advocating shooting police officers that act unlawfully but went so far as to say it’s one’s duty to do so. Of course I pointed out that anybody who shot a cop would quickly find the wrath of that entire department, including its sizable arsenal, coming down on them like the hammer of Thor. That’s when the nonsense really started. As it turns out this individual he adamant that he would lay down his life in the name of defending another person’s rights because he was a member of the three percenters (which they stylistically type III% because they seem to think using Roman numerals makes them edgy or something). The three percenters is a movement I had forgotten about (mostly because their most outspoken members promises an American revolution and never even attempted to deliver). But my experience has show that the three precenters movement is made up heavily, if not mostly, of warrior wannabes.

Warrior wannabes are adorable, especially when they get all angsty and start talking revolution. For those of you who don’t know they take their name from the American Revolution in which, they say, only three percent of the colonists were actually involved in overthrowing the British. So they believe that if they get three percent of the current American population to join them they can successfully overthrow the current government. But there’s a big difference between then and now: back then there was actually three percent of the American population that organized and knew how to fight whereas today the three percent, even if they actually made up three percent of the current American population, are disorganized and many have no idea how to actually fight. And that’s what makes the current three percenters’ claims laughable and their most vocal warrior wannabes downright hilarious.

Let’s return to the dude I first mentioned. According to him it is everybody’s duty to shoot cops acting unlawfully. He claims he has no concern about dying defending another person’s rights in this manner. Yet it would be so easy for him to back his bluster with actual action. We currently have a hotbed of activity in Ferguson, Missouri that involves notable instances of police acting unlawfully. Why isn’t he and his ilk down there waging war against the police? Here’s a hint, it’s because they’re all talk.

Warrior wannabes, like Earth itself, can best be described as mostly harmless. They very much want to be harmful and so regurgitate statements that they think will make them sound like total badasses. But they’re not fooling anybody (besides, perhaps, each other) because their claims can be easily verified as bullshit when they sit behind their computer monitors instead of going out and doing what they claim to not only want to do but are duty bound to do.

Colt on the Verge of Bankruptcy, Again

It appears, once again, Colt is on the verge of bankruptcy. Nobody appears to be shocked by this. Colt has a long history of making decisions that could be generously called questionable. In fact BusinessWeek has put together a nice summarized history of Colt. The article is focused mostly on Colt’s bad decisions because, frankly, there aren’t a lot of good decisions to look at. For me the dumbest decision the company made was all but abandoning the civilian market in favor of focusing on the military market after it had lost the contract to produce the sidearm and rifle for the United States military:

In the 1970s, Colt and other American gunmakers, following the bad example of Detroit’s Big Three automakers, grew smug and lazy. Like Japanese and German car companies, more nimble foreign gunmakers grabbed market share. By the 1980s, Smith & Wesson had lost the U.S. police to Austria’s Glock, while Colt saw Italy’s Beretta snatch its main U.S. Army sidearm contract. In 1985, Colt plant employees who belonged to the United Auto Workers launched a protracted strike for higher pay. Replacement employees weren’t up to the task, and “quality suffered badly,” says Feldman, then an organizer for the National Rifle Association. In 1988 the Pentagon gave Colt’s M16 contract to FN Herstal of Belgium. Four years later, Colt filed for bankruptcy court protection from its creditors. “With the end of the Cold War,” says Hopkins, the firearms marketer, “it seemed like the company might never recover.”


In 1999, Zilkha named a new CEO, William Keys, a retired three-star Marine Corps general. The company announced it would end production of all but a handful of civilian handguns and focus on military production. As a reporter at the Wall Street Journal during this period, I interviewed a memorably glum Zilkha. He complained that on top of his other problems, he felt unfairly targeted by gun rights activists who criticized his past contributions to Democratic New York Senator Charles Schumer, a vocal proponent of stricter gun control. When I suggested to Zilkha that he seemed to regret ever having entered the gun business, he didn’t argue.

Admittedly Colt has backed away from the decision over time. Now if you want an authentic Colt firearm you can get one but it will cost you your first born child. I know a few people who still herald the Colt 1911 as the end all be all in 1911s but I could never figured out what Colt 1911s do that other 1911s manufactured by reputable manufacturers for less don’t. Maybe the stamped on mustang makes the slide move faster, I don’t know.

That’s the other thing. Releasing 1911s is fine and all but there are approximately eleventy bajillion 1911 manufacturers out there. Name alone is seldom enough to keep one relevant in a market for very long. Smart manufacturers try to provide some kind of innovation be in new models of firearms or firearms designed to service niche markets. As far as I can tell Colt does neither.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the Colt name is bought up by a foreign manufacturer at a fire sale price. While the name alone isn’t enough to keep one in the market it certainly would offer quick credibility to a new manufacturer looking to enter the market (since a lot of people will mistake the new Colt for the old Colt just as many people mistake Springfield Armory, Inc. for the Springfield Armory of lore).

Guilty Until Proven Innocent

A common act of hypocrisy I notice from individuals that could best be described as tough on crime or neocons is their willingness to declare anybody shot by a cop a thug and demand an investigation before making any negative judgements about a cop who shoots somebody. Case in point, the grand jury decision regarding the Darren Wilson case will soon release a decision. In anticipation for the decision the Missouri governor had told his cops to have their batons at the ready. But there are individuals, sadly within the gun rights movement, that apparently already know what went on. Bob Owens, for example, has two tweets that demonstrate the mindset I mentioned at the beginning:

Even without a trial or so much as a grand jury decision Mr. Owens has already determined that Michael Brown was nothing more than a violent thug and that the people upset by his death are misguided.

I sometime wish I had clairvoyant powers and could know, for certain, what went down in situations I wasn’t in any way involved in. But this seems to be a power only the tough on crime and rioters possess. According to one side Michael Brown deserved to be shot by the cop and according to the other side the cop murdered Michael Brown without cause.

Face Jail Time for Teaching People to Pass a Bull Crap Test

File this post under everything is illegal. A man has been indicted for running a business that claims to teach people how to pass polygraph tests. Initially I thought he was being charged with fraud for false advertising but he’s actually being charged for attempting to defraud the government:

A former Oklahoma City police officer was indicted Thursday on accusations of teaching people to cheat on lie detector tests, the government announced Friday.

The 69-year-old Norman, Oklahoma, man is the owner of and charged customers thousands of dollars for instructions on how to beat lie detector tests administered for federal employment suitability assessments, federal security background investigations, and internal federal agency investigations, court documents show.

According to the five-count indictment [PDF] lodged against Douglas Williams:

The purpose of the scheme was to defraud the United States and to obtain and maintain positions of Federal employment for Williams’ customers for which they did not qualify, and the salary attendant to such positions, through materially false and fraudulent statements and representations. A further purpose of the scheme was for Williams to enrich himself by assisting his customers—including, among others, Federal job applicants, applicants for Federal security clearances, and individuals under investigation by Federal law enforcement agencies—in deceiving the Federal government in order to obtain or maintain positions of Federal employment for which Williams’ customers did not qualify.

If I understand the state’s “logic” it’s claiming that since it uses polygraphs on employees anybody teaching individuals how to pass a polygraph is defrauding the state. Such a case may have some kind of merit if polygraphs actually worked. But they’re bullshit. People, as a group, have no consistent response to lying. The only reason polygraphs are at all effective is because people subjected to polygraph tests believe they’re effective. A skilled operator can convince a person being tested that the machine is telling him something and that’s often enough to get the person to divulge whatever it is they were lying about.

If government agencies are still using polygraphs to test employees then it is entirely at fault for using voodoo to verify the integrity of employees. Anybody teaching people how to pass a polygraph, as opposed to telling people that polygraphs are bullshit, are only guilty of lying by claiming that polygraphs are somehow effective.

Also, as an aside, you cannot defraud a thief and the state is the greatest thief of them all.

Indoor Shooting Range

In general I’m not a fan of indoor shooting ranges. That may sound like a strange thing to here from a Minnesotan in November but indoor ranges are much louder than outdoor ranges and the air quality can be pretty iffy. Still, I would love to have one in my basement but I know the man would stop me from enjoying it:

Police were responding to a 911 call reporting shots fired inside the house near S. Circle and Hwy 24 in Colorado Springs. Officers say as they approached the house they heard more shots and noticed the front door was open.

When they got inside, they says they found three people in the basement. Two were allegedly taking turns shooting at glass bottles and a third person was watching.

Bummer. I guess those guys should have had suppressors. But seriously, the last sentence of the story reveals something that I doubt anybody will find surprising:

Police say they had also been drinking.

Well… no shit?

Again, on a serious note, I’m guessing the home owner hadn’t setup the basement with the proper outfitting for a firing range. Assuming somebody did properly setup their home to stop bullets from leaving I think having a range in their basement would be pretty awesome.

EDIT: 2014-11-18: 10:16: My derp caught up with me and I typed that indoor ranges are louder than indoor ranges. This has been fixed. Everything thank Mr. King for e-mailing me about this.

Monday Metal: Magic Dragon by Gloryhammer

Are you ready for some nerd metal? If not, too bad, try again next week. For those who like awesome shit we’re going to listen to some Gloryhammer, which has the distinction of being pretty nerdy even for a power metal band. The song is magic dragon. I have no idea if it relates to heroine but considering that Gloryhammer is a metal band it’s not entirely out of the question:

Freedom is Unconstitutional


Lysander Spooner meme gloriously stolen from the linked article.

The Constitution is holy scripture to many Americans. Within its pages lies the secrets everlasting freedom, prosperity, and happiness according to its worshipers. I’m not one of those worshipers. I used to be. But then I actually read the document and thought about what it actually said. Two clauses I like to point out as examples of the Constitution not being a government limiting document are Article III, which establishes the Supreme Court, and the Taxing and Spending Clause, which gives Congress the power to tax.

The Supreme Court has the final say in all legal arguments about interpretations of the Constitution. Because of that the document only means what the Supreme Court, which is part of the federal government the Constitution supposedly restrains, says it means. And the power to tax means Congress can ensure the federal government has as much money as it needs to do whatever it wants. Before the Constitution there were the Articles of Confederation, which didn’t grant the federal government the power to tax. That meant that the states had to voluntarily fund the federal government and gave them a convenient way to starve the beast should it get too big.

The wonderful writers over at The Art of Not Being Government wrote an excellent article, or as many constitutionalists will call it heresy, refuting some of the claims made about the Constitution. Especially noteworthy are the myths regarding the origin of the document. Many people mistakenly believe that the Constitution was created to protect individual liberty and create a small federal government. In reality it was a massive power grab perpetrated by individuals who really missed having a king to rule over all, as the Taxing and Spending Clause shows.

I recommend you click on the link and read the article. Especially if you are a constitutionalists. It makes some very good points that are seldom covered in any class or course on the Constitution.