“Perfect Organism” (UPDATED)

Consider the cat.

Specifically, consider the cat’s drive to kill.

"The reason cats are so pissy is they're God's perfect killing machines but they only weigh 8lbs and we keep picking them up and kissing them" – Tweet by David Thorpe

Now, consider this classic scene from Alien, but imagine that they’re talking about Jones, the ship’s cat, instead of the eight-foot-tall, acid-bleeding xenomorph: Continue reading


“I was just a kid they called his sidekick…”

When I asked my wife to marry me, one of this first things she said to me (after “yes,” thankfully) was to ask if the Gourds could play our wedding. It wasn’t really a question—she was telling me that we would hire the Gourds to play, and that our wedding budget would have to work around whatever it cost. As I happen to love the Gourds, too, I had no objection.

I mention the Gourds because they are part of a long, proud, twangy tradition of Texas country/folk/bluegrass/etc. musicians. The Gourds certainly had their own unique sound, distinct from just about any other band I know, but they also belong to a tradition pioneered by people like Guy Clark, who died a few days ago at the age of 74.

This has been a bad year for music. Guy Clark’s death has hit me much closer to home than others, and it’s not just because he’s from Texas, or because he is a legend of Texas music. I don’t even know all that many of his songs. He wasn’t a singularly unique artist like David Bowie or Prince. It’s doubtful that anyone could call him a “visionary” on the same scale as Bowie or Prince. Guy Clark was an old guy with a guitar, writing and singing what he knew. He did it very, very well. And a whole lot of people loved him for it. Continue reading


Oceanfront Property

If you’re into this whole “climate change threatens coastal ecosystems” thing (and you should be, because, you know, science and all that), Climate Central has an interactive map that shows how sea-level rise could affect coastal areas.

Here’s Houston, Texas with a one-foot rise in sea levels:

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And here it is with a ten-foot rise: Continue reading


Preaching to the Choir

This bit of news from the legal world probably shouldn’t come as much of a surprise:

Florida Bar President Ramon Abadin invited every male South Florida law firm managing partner to a speech he gave Wednesday about gender bias in the legal profession. Apparently just one showed up, the head of a small law firm.

“I’m highly disappointed there aren’t more positions of power here in the room,” he said. “I realize I’m preaching to the choir.”

Anger bubbled over in the sold-out room dominated by women in the Miami chapter of the Florida Association for Women Lawyers. The chapter hosted Abadin weeks after a Florida Bar survey of female attorneys found widespread sexism in the justice system, with 43 percent of women reporting personal experience with gender bias.

“I thought the number should be zero,” he said. “In my naive mind, maybe it would be 5 percent. But people privately tell me the number is actually higher.”

At least he knows now, so I guess that’s something. Continue reading


Monday Morning Cute: Spiders (Well, Maybe…)

Can spiders ever be cute? The creator of this listicle at the website LOL Gallery Infatuation seems to think so. I generally—and rather vehemently—disagree, which is why this post does not reproduce any of the pictures displayed over there.

I have addressed the question of whether arthropods can ever meet the standard human definition of “cute” before, and I’ve even found some examples among the insects and the crustaceans. I do not feel that I am ready, however, to extend any amount of squee to the arachnids, especially the members of the order Araneae. Maybe I just need time…

Others clearly disagree with me, though: Continue reading


Are You F—ing Kidding Me?

I am a bit too angry to see straight, but need to share the utter, reprehensible ridiculousness of this:

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An ex-stripper who went on to law school and later was elected a judge was found dead inside her Nevada home Sunday, The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

Her body was discovered during a welfare check, the report said, and authorities do not suspect foul play.

Municipal Judge Diana Hampton, who was 50, was known by colleagues as a hard worker and appeared to be the perfect picture of health. Her death shocked colleagues, one of whom told the paper he planned to have lunch with the judge this week.

Hampton, who served as a municipal judge for more than a decade, worked with youth in the community to discourage them from crime.

Hampton took an unusual route to her judgeship. She was criticized during her 2005 run for Henderson Department 3 for working as a stripper in Las Vegas prior to pursuing law school. It was a part of her past she did not disavow and reaffirmed that her past had nothing to do with how she would rule from the bench.

“From the very beginning, she decided she was going to be a judge,” said Joe Sciscento, a justice of the peace who knew Hampton for more than 20 years. “She was dedicated to that. She was focused on that, and she wouldn’t let things get in her way.”

[Emphasis added] Continue reading


The Limits of Free Speech

Police Consider Charging Trump With Inciting a Riot Over Violence at North Carolina Rally, Sarah K. Burris, Raw Story, March 14, 2016:

The Cumberland County Sheriff’s office is considering filing charges of inciting a riot against GOP frontrunner Donald Trump for the Fayetteville, North Carolina rally according to anNBC reporter and local media sources. The rally was the site where Trump supporter John Franklin McGraw was arrested for sucker-punching a black protester and threatening to kill him.

“We are looking at the totality of these circumstances, including any additional charges against Mr. McGraw, including the potential of whether there was conduct on the part of Mr. Trump or the Trump campaign which rose to the level of inciting a riot,” Sheriff’s Office lawyer Ronnie Mitchell told The Fayetteville Observer.

At the rally, Trump asked the audience “Can’t we have a little more action than this?” when protesters were causing a disturbance. “See, in the good old days this didn’t use to happen, because they used to treat them very rough,” he said. “We’ve become very weak.”

Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444, 447 (1969): Continue reading


Monday Morning Cute: Cuteness Triumphant

I’ve been quite neglectful in posting my weekly cuteness updates, so to get the ball rolling again, I present my dog, Zeta, panting in a sunbeam like a f—ing boss.

View post on imgur.com


Remember the Alamo

History turns to legend, and legends inevitably leave pieces of the truth behind.

Everyone who grew up in Texas, especially those like me who grew up in San Antonio, knows what happened at the Alamo 180 years ago today.

The Battle of the Alamo shaped our identity as Texans and helped to make this state, for both good and ill, what it is today. So remember the Alamo today, but also remember that history is more art than science—a human endeavor subject to our faulty memories and romanticized notions of the past.

Theodore Gentilz (Texas State Library) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons Continue reading


Fixing a Few Memes

I came across some memes and other images in the past day or so that looked like they needed some fixing. I just thought I’d share.

First, we have a meme from a Facebook page called “The Advocates for Self-Government” (h/t Jason):

"Up until 1913 Americans kept all of their earnings. Despite this, America still had schools, roads, colleges, vast railroads, subways, and an army & navy. Tell me again why people need to be extorted?"

It shows a scene from a New York City street, circa 1913*. The text offers a pretty standard revisionist history of the United States prior to the Sixteenth Amendment, suggesting that the U.S. was doing just fine without federal income tax. Then, of course, it throws in the “taxation = theft” bit, which I’m not even going to bother refuting here because the people who make that argument are incapable of feeling intellectual shame. Continue reading