In Defense of the Black Panthers Zimmerman Bounty

The remnants of the Black Panthers organization supposedly called for George Zimmerman to be killed and they offered a reward to the person doing it. There was a great hue and cry with claims from all sides that this was an incredibly inappropriate and awful thing to do. 

It occurs to me instead that it's not the wrong thing to do and, more importantly, it's is an inevitable consequence of the Stand Your Ground law. Though the situation is different now that the State of Florida bowed to public pressure and is applying it's 'justice' system to Zimmerman, for a long time, it seemed very clear that he was going to get away, literally, with murder, a murder that he freely admitted to committing. The lessons learned are interesting.

You have to ask, What is the appropriate response of a family or clan to the outright murder of a member? The Martin family knows this kid. They know that it is absolutely impossible that he posed a mortal threat to Zimmerman. They know with the same certainty that most of us would that their child was not into violence or crime and, thus, in he was not in some small way responsible for putting himself in a position to get shot. 

Can you allow a Zimmerman to go happily about his life while you are crushed with grief and your son is dead forever? Can you allow other violent racists to know that they can kill your sons with impunity simply because the majority of your state legislature is ok with it? It seems to me that the answer in all these cases is no.

What I think has happened is that the society has made clear that certain people, Travyon Martin's parents, are beyond the reach of justice. The services of civilization have been withdrawn from them. The Black Panthers, as bad as it sounds, are simply offering to exact the perfectly reasonable penalty that is being withheld by the State of Florida.

If there is a murder and the villain is acquitted, we generally say to the family, the process is imperfect, you must accept your defeat and go on with your life. We say, the virtues of civilization require that we accept the process, including the fact that it's imperfect. Your heartbreak and anger must be swallowed to support the public good. Public peace and safety demand that vigilante behavior be suppressed.

But for the Martin family, there is no public peace and safety. The police in their town and their state legislators are very clear in asserting that no one is safe. Justice is not imperfect because we have decided that the rights of gun owners are beyond the reach of justice. Black kids continue to live in fear. Outrage at a confessed murderer going unpunished corrodes peoples hearts. Confidence in society as the just substitute for our desire for revenge and protection is gone.

I have long thought that this country is heading for a violent period. The right wing has become so extreme in their viewpoints and political tactics that the rest of us are becoming effectively disenfranchised. Small victories notwithstanding, the juggernaut of fear and ignorance – and self-dealing – is neutralizing the good will that allows people of different viewpoints to coexist. And Stand Your Ground laws grant license to the insanely conservative for murder.

The conservatives have firmly established the idea that compromise and cooperation in pursuit of a peaceful and orderly society is not a requirement any more. From Republican intransigence on every issue to Florida (and 21 other states) making clear that one has no obligation to avoid murder if there is a plausible excuse, these people are leaving the rest of us no choice. WInning the Presidency and two houses of Congress leaves us impotent. Being a decent family with a decent kid earns you no justice. Truth is turned on its head every day and those who want to cooperate, discuss and conduct a reasonable society are simply taken for suckers by the right-wing.

Eventually, someone is going to focus on the fact that the the Supreme Court is filled with pragmatic, young judges acting on vicious conservative ideologiy and realize that there is no hope for justice. Others will focus on the Senate which, having a majority of representatives that agree with reasonable people, are prevented from working their will by the perfectly uncooperative minority. As night follows day, someone will realize that our society has given up on being reasonable. Someone will think,  John Roberts, Sam Alito, Tony Scalia (or, John Boehner, Grover Norquist, Rush Limbaugh, etc) present a real threat to his well-being and decide that it's time to Stand His Ground.

Where Are You?

Ladies, you know you can count on my support. I will donate, vote, march, hell, I'll break windows and set things on fire if it will make a difference.

But I'm also thinking, where the hell are you? Do you realize that this is not a joke? These people are actually passing laws to restrict your freedom and the freedom of your daughters?

The forces of tyranny are relentless these days. They seek new ways to restrict and humiliate you - and your daughters. And they seem to be doing it with no repercussions. In state after state, anti-women laws are being passed without riots, without violence in the streets, without any meaningful pushback.

Most of my friends hate me because I am so strident in pushing my political viewpoint. I have a daughter and so, I am very active, at least in the world of ideas. When election season comes around, I will be there, too.

But women, where the hell are you? This is your fight, your freedom. Though I have no sympathy if you sat back while the topic was only abortion, I am astonished at the silence as they try to pass laws requiring proof that you are not using drugs for contraception. Try to make it more difficult to get contraception. To torment women that choose to abort.

And eliminate child care, and subsidies for female sports and the elimination of women's power and self-determination in a death by a thousand cuts.

Have you become so entitled, so complacent that you can't be bothered? This is not my fight. I'm a man. The tyrants' goal is to make my life free and yours subordinated. Why am I the only one that gets in trouble arguing at parties.

Where the hell are you?

Rand Paul's Viewpoints Provide a Teachable Movement

I am deeply frustrated by the public response to Rand Paul's explanation that the 'only' part of the Civil Rights Act is the part where the government makes it illegal to refuse service to people because of their race, sex or religion. He explains that market forces will bring about the right result which, he hopes, may reduce discrimination.

The public conversation focuses on two canards. Whether or not he's a racist and, whether or not he would have compromised and voted for it. Toss in a little, "The media is mean to me," and you have a complete distraction.

These are fun topics for discussion but if you really think about the situation, you have to realize that the big deal is that he finally articulated the fundamental tea party question, when is the government allowed to assert control over the populace? Leaving aside the fact that their anarchic viewpoints tend to attract a lot of lunatics (the nazi picture carriers, etc), there really is an emerging theme in the tea party focused on the idea that much of what the government does to people is illegitimate.

Hitherto, this has only been said general terms. Sure, they like to decry health care reform, but this broad picture gives no view of where they see the boundary. Rand Paul has done us a favor by 1) getting himeself elected by a lot of tea partiers so he really can be said to be a representative sample of the species. And, 2) giving us a couple of really specific, real world examples of where he wants to draw the boundary separating the acceptable from the illegitimate..

I wish the interviewers would forget about the Civil Rights Act. Rand Paul is right, it's history. Further, it allows him to distract us by telling us he doesn't favor repeal. Nobody thinks he does. It's truly a non-issue. He uses all the juicy subtopics of civil rights to get people arguing about that, not focusing on this learning opportunity.

What I want to hear are questions about the Americans With Disabilities Act. I want to hear what he thinks about meat inspection and prohibitions on selling alcohol to minors. He has said that it's illegitimate to use government power to coerce behavior by BP in the Gulf. He brought up the coal mining industry in a context that implies that the intention to regulate them more carefully is inappropriate and meanspirited. He pretty clearly, it seemed to me, said that it's ok for the company to base safety measures on their cost-effectiveness. Sometimes there are accidents he says, and you can't make it all perfect.

I want to know what he thinks those of us that want to act together as a nation should do. I want everyone to be able to forget their ethnic heritage except when they are enjoying it. Along with a lot of people, I want no racial discrimination. What should we do to accomplish that?

He seems to think that the only action we can take is to refuse to buy their goods. What if that doesn't work? Do we have no legitimate recourse? Doesn't that really mean that our ultimate recourse is violence?

What about environmental regulation? I would like to know if he thinks that occupational and consumer safety regulations are overreaching? What about labeling and weights and measures. Should a company be able to actively misrepresent the contents of a package in the grocery store? I guess he see this as infringement on free speech.

I wanted Rachael Maddow to follow this line when she interviewed him. She has the brains to actually follow through, "Ok Mr Paul, what exactly is the 'principle' here?  All of these are fundamentally the same problem of the government imposing contraints on behaviors that are deemed undesireable by the legislators. Rand Paul seems to think any constraint is bad. That those of us in the rest of the society have no authority to say, We don't want to see racism any more!, and the only thing we can do is hope it changes if we only purchase things from people who are not racists.

We have an actual moment now, thanks to Rand Paul, where we could be focused on understanding the idea of limits of power. We also have a moment where this movement has shown it's real colors. I do not believe that the common voter would be pleased with a strong message of his sincerely held beliefs, at least if framed by focusing on the billion actual ways that life would be awful without and much better with, an appropriate amount government coercion. 

Javascript Drag and Drop

I got an error:

$(this).data("draggable") is null

When I went to redraw my web page after the user dragged a revision. After a lot of irritating screwing around, I found that you need to make it undraggable before display and then draggable again after, ie,



Remote Server MSSQL

I have just had occasion to want to access data from two MSSQL databases. One is on my workstation. The other is out there in cyberspace someplace. I used MS SQL Server Management Studio Express. Here is how I did it:

First, I created two new scripts, CreateServer.sql and ProcessData.sql. Each of these was created with a connection to my local instance.

Then, I created a named reference to the remote database. In their parlance, it is a server and the reference is in sys.server (as I found out from one of the many error messages* I got along the way). This required EXEC'ing two commands, both placed in the CreateServer file:

EXEC    sp_addlinkedserver    @server='LOCALSERVERNAME', @srvproduct='', @provider='SQLOLEDB', @datasrc='999.999.999.999'

EXEC sp_addlinkedsrvlogin @rmtsrvname=LOCALSERVERNAME, @useself=FALSE, @rmtuser='REMOTEUSERNAME', @rmtpassword='remotepassword'

Then I could access them using straightforward syntax (in the ProcessData file):


Obviously, DATABASENAME and TABLENAME must represent things that exist in the remote database. Less obviously, "dbo" must be exactly the way it is shown.

Microsoft explains some of the particulars: sp_addlinkedserver and sp_addlinkedsrvlogin.

*fyi, "Could not find server in sysservers. Execute sp_addlinkedserver to add the server to sysservers. The statement has been terminated."

No We Can't

Every other industrial country has managed to provide health care to their citizens. Now that he decision is made, the Republicans are telling us we can't do it.

Are we Americans? Is there something America we can't do?

The party of Can't Do. Amazing.

(Thanks Phred!)

Apple Multi Touch enhancement adds gestures, incredible improvement:

It's called Better Touch Tool. I got it when I got a Magic Mouse. It defines many gestures and allows you to associate them with actions, both in general and for specific programs, and for both the mouse and trackpad. It's great for the mouse, but it's also totally worth it just for the trackpad.

For Safari, I have added a mechanism that lets me enlarge a page with a gesture he calls the "right-tip-tap". I put a finger on the trackpad and the just tap with a finger to the right of it. Poof! the page gets bigger. Do it with a finger to the left of the reference finger and Bang! it's smaller again. If I tap my pad with three fingers, it jumps to the top of the page. It is fully awesome. 

I have similar suite on my mouse, though with different gestures. The trackpad won't let you define many one and two finger gestures (I assume Apple has claimed them) and those are best for a lot of things, especially on a track surface that moves. For paging back and forward on my mouse, I use a left or right single finger swipe. It was hard to work at first. Eventually, I realized that I just needed to let go of the mouse and brush my fingertip across it delicately. It also works great.

If you have either device, multi touch track pad or magic mouse, get this right away.

Police want backdoor to Web users' private data | Politics and Law - CNET News

I thought you'd find this interesting. It says:

"Anyone with an e-mail account likely knows that police can peek inside it if they have a paper search warrant.
But cybercrime investigators are frustrated by the speed of traditional methods of faxing, mailing, or e-mailing companies these documents. They're pushing for the creation of a national Web interface linking police computers with those of Internet and e-mail providers so requests can be sent and received electronically.
CNET has reviewed a survey scheduled to be released at a federal task force meeting on Thursday, which says that law enforcement agencies are virtually unanimous in calling for such an interface to be created. Eighty-nine percent of police surveyed, it says, want to be able to "exchange legal process requests and responses to legal process" through an encrypted, police-only "nationwide computer network." 


Check it out at: