Initial, Hastily-Scribbled Thoughts on the Darren Wilson Grand Jury

[By popular request (i.e. at least one person), here are some thoughts* I jotted down on Facebook earlier today, partly in response to articles on NPR and Vox. Edited to correct spelling/grammar/formatting only.]

In a nutshell, the prosecutor presented exculpatory evidence to the grand jury, lobbed softball questions at the prospective defendant, and did just about everything he could to soft-pedal the case—given that the grand jury is supposed to be the time when the prosecutor presents a one-sided, self-serving narrative of the case in order to secure a conviction, I’m inclined to call bullshit on the whole thing.

A few other points:

1. Double jeopardy does not attach at the grand jury stage, so there is no legal reason why another grand jury couldn’t meet and indict Wilson. He is not “exonerated,” nor is he “not guilty” in a legal sense. In just about any other criminal proceeding, the prosecutor would be explaining that to us, instead of the other way around. Continue reading


The Cat Shall Avenge You

Time for a shout-out to a supremely awesome person, followed by a shout-out to a funny internet comment. First of all, Ben Schwartz of San Francisco may be one of the best people on Earth, and we can only wish that it hadn’t taken a near-fatal attack for the world to realize this (h/t Lynn). This could prove to be a superhero origin story, either for him or his cat.

Via Jezebel

That’s what Kinja user DarthPumpkin seems to think, anyway.

Screen Shot 2014-11-21 at 12.22.13 PM

Others went further, even noting the similarities to Dex-Starr’s origins: Continue reading


Bribery in a post-Citizens United World

If money is “speech” in an electoral context, what about during the course of governance?

Could direct payment of cash, or some other thing of value, to an official in exchange for some official action, or forbearance from some official action, be construed as a very convincing argument that is protected by the First Amendment?

To give an example, suppose two people have separate meetings with an official regarding a pending application for, say, a building permit. The first person is a resident of a neighborhood that adjoins the property on which the proposed project will be built. That person explains to the official that the project will cause substantial noise pollution at all hours of the day and night, will depress property values to a significant degree, and will cause all of the residents of the neighborhood to develop a non-fatal condition that causes them to grow additional heads that emit flatulence from their mouths, which will cause unemployment problems.

Like this, but I guess with more farts.

The second person meets with the official and explains that the briefcase in his hand has $1 million in cash that will belong to the official if the permit is issued. Continue reading


Rhinoceros Guard Duty

I saw this on the Fascinating Pictures Twitter feed:

There really are only six northern white rhinos left, after a 34 year-old male died on October 17, 2014. He was one of only two surviving males, meaning the species has very grim prospects for survival (and yes, I’m trying to avoid sounding defeatist.) Only four of them are actually in Africa, at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. The other two are at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park in California. I saw one of them back in 2011:

White rhinoceros

The northern white rhinos in Kenya have been under 24-hour armed guard for a while, as reported by the Telegraph back in 2012. Even with the guards, though, poachers have continued to pick the rhinos off: Continue reading


The ’80s Sitcom Parody (or Whatever This Is) We Didn’t Even Know We Needed Until We Saw It

You’ve probably already seen Adult Swim’s “Too Many Cooks” informercial (whatever that means), but in case you haven’t, it’s worth eleven minutes of your time. Stop asking questions and watch it:

The overwrought ’80s sitcom intro was ripe for surreal parody, when you think about it, but you probably never did before because why would you? Somewhere along the line, between the still-lengthy intro to Friends, the abbreviated intros to shows like Scrubs (did you know that’s actually an entire song?), and the just-get-in-with-it show openings of today, I mostly forgot that goofy sitcom intros ever existed (except for the songs—I’ll never forget classics like Diff’rent Strokes and their like). Only HBO shows (and their imitators) seem to have extended intros anymore, and except maybe for Game of Thrones—which you need to watch for any changes to the map—I suspect most people fast-forward through them.

Anyway, this seems like an important moment in our cultural history that we will have forgotten about by next week, so enjoy it while you can.

Also, I learned about “Too Many Cooks” thanks to this GIF on Imgur, which seems to capture the most truly WTF moment: Continue reading


My Thoughts on the Election After One Week, in GIFs

Quite a few people are angry. Some might even be looking for payback. Sure, the Republicans will talk a good game, like they’re all sunshine and sweetness. But really, we won’t be sure whom to trust. Continue reading


A Thought for NaNoWriMo Participants

We are eleven days into November, and I haven’t actually started on National Novel Writing Month yet. That doesn’t mean I’m out, just that I procrastinate proudly.

For those who are actively participating, and who might be feeling sone frustration, this bit of wisdom from Chuck Wendig might not make you feel better, per se, but hopefully it will remind you that all creative endeavors are painful at some point.


The Second and the Twenty-Fourth

You may have seen this meme floating about (h/t Mare):

Via Facebook/Join the Coffee Party Movement

Via Facebook/Join the Coffee Party Movement

Rand Paul and Ted Cruz both agree criminals and terrorists should not have to show an ID to buy an assault rifle because it is an infringement on their constitutional rights.

But Rand Paul and Ted Cruz both agree a 92 year old senior trying to vote without the proper ID is a threat to our democracy and could destroy our free election system.

Leaving aside the atrocious font, the argument still isn’t quite right. It offers sort of a caricatured summary of the argument in favor of voter ID laws, and doesn’t note the constitutional implications of requiring people to get an ID that they would not otherwise need solely for the purpose of voting. That’s pretty much a poll tax, which is pretty unambiguously unconstitutional. Anyway, here’s my own caricature of the usual response to this meme from the pro-voter-ID-law crowd: Continue reading


Oh, British Nobility

Always behind the times.


Monday Morning Cute: The Daily Visitor

“Every morning he visits for a glass of milk.”

Hosted on Imgur

Via undercovergiraffe on Imgur.