Monday, December 31, 2012

When I got shot

On the evening of December 31, 1996 I was hanging out with a couple of friends of mine.  We were bored and trying to think of something to do, when one of them said to go to their place because, hey, they have more games.  So we went over there and began playing Magic at the small kitchen table.  Most of his family was home at the time and they were doing their own thing.

Eventually we got all drawn into a conversation with a couple members of his family and we got up from our game and just stood around the kitchen.  One, Rich, grabbed a fake red little gun.  The kind that presses against powder packs to make it go "POP POP POP".  Well this one would but it was broken, even with the packs it could not make a POP noise.

He's idly pulling the trigger while talking, when suddenly there were loud POP POP POP sounds.  Rich was suddenly holding his right arm to him, and when I looked down I saw blood on my shirt.  I assumed, as did most people, that it was spray from his getting shot.  Several seconds later, as I was getting dizzy, we realized I had 3 holes in my abdomen and one in my arm.

My friend's father grabs his gun, and we all shelter against walls.  Not that it would do much good, as we later learned the bullets had to have passed through the Garage Roof, Garage wall and Foyer wall to hit us in the kitchen.  Which they did.  One, a rifle round, hit somewhere in a bedroom and landed perfectly in a bag of clothes.  911 was called.  And then my mother (who assumed it was her sister calling her as the Ball had just dropped).

The owner of the house threw his gun up on a fridge as the police arrived, as he did not want to be a statistic, and they cased the place and the neighborhood around.  (Later we found the shooter was on the balcony of the house behind this one, across the alley).  I was taken to the hospital first.  And let me tell you, catheters are NOT fun.  But I was out by 2:30 am, as they saw that the bullets had missed my organs and just traveled through skin and fat.

A surgeon, later, told me they don't remove bullets often anymore unless they have to, due to digging around to remove them tends to cause more damage than the shooting does.  Historically, many people who died of gunshots (especially assassinations) died of the surgery, not the actual shooting.

Four holes in my body.  One, the left most in my abdomen, was the same bullet that hit Rich's arm (which shattered bone, he had to get a steel plate put in).  The one that went in my right arm (stopping a couple millimeters before hitting my bone) traveled through my abdomen first.

I got so fucking lucky.  Several months later, my right arm started to reject the bullet inside of it so I had to go through surgery to have it removed.  That scar is far more visible than the 3 shooting scars I still have.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

That Which Slithers Into Sight 5?

It was over in but a few moments.  The dark void that was, apparently, my public defender flowed into me completely and I could feel its raw power fuse into my being.  Darkness slithered over my eyes and I saw things in a new way. The building around me now looked as if it was rotted and full of mold.  Insects slithered along every possible surface, and cracks appeared in all the walls.

Monday, December 24, 2012

That Which Slithers Into Sight 4?

Upon seeing the featureless black void that was apparently my public defender, I backed as far as I could against the holding cell and stared.  The public defender said to the officer in its gravelly voice, "What's his tox screen look like?"

Sunday, December 23, 2012

That Which Slithers Into Sight 3?

I wasted no time.  I ran out of the building into the outside world.  Feeling the air hit my skin made me realize I left the blanket on the floor in front of my door, "Fuck me."  I ran at my full speed, my muscles not even aching from the four  miles I ran earlier, towards the wooded wetlands only a block from my apartment.  Figuring that was a place I could at least partially hide while I thought things through.  It did not take me long to get there at all.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

That Which Slithers Into Sight, 2?

The blaze of glorious light that emanated from the person before me washed over the area around me.  The gray dirty walls of the hospital now appeared white and spotless.  The area behind him teemed with green plant life that just glistened in the sunlight.  Well, the area that was not a gray parking lot anyway.  Glorious light could only do so much it seems.

That Which Slithers Into Sight, 1?

It turns out my heart weighed as much as a feather.  And thus was I thrown into this midden realm of misery and sorrow.

Friday, December 21, 2012

A Bright Cold Day in December

"And so, whether you are here to stay, or passing through on your way to parts unknown.                                Welcome to America. It's safer here."

The National Rifle Association was founded in 1871 partially in response to just how badly Union recruits fired their rifles.  They organized rifle clubs in various states to improve marksmanship.  Historically they were about gun training and safety.  And in fact have many former generals amongst their Presidents and even a former President.  

Then in 1977 something changed.  They changed from gun safety to "SECOND AMENDMENT!"  They became more of a lobbying organization of gun manufacturers and not gun enthusiasts.  But they knew how to talk to their members and pull the wool over their eyes.  This organization, this group that used to count Ulysses S Grant as a President, began to state that gun laws were how the jackbooted thugs of the Federal Government would take away their members freedoms.

Many people bought this line.  The second amendment suddenly was re-interpreted.  It was now an "Everyone can have guns" amendment rather than an "Organized Militia" amendment as it had been interpreted often historically.

And now they wish a National Database of The Mentally Ill.  That was distinctly mentioned in their press statement.  So if you're mentally ill, you must register on a national database.

They wish for a Good Guy With A Gun in every school.  There are over 98,000 schools in the US.  If you were to pay one person minimum wage to be at each school for 8 hours a day, 180 days a year, it would cost US$1B.  And I am sure you would not pay only minimum wage to this position.

They are advocating the beginning of a police state.  The same group that tells its members that the President is going to take their guns.  The same group that implies a fear of jackbooted thugs of the government everywhere. They now are advocating it.  

They also are advocating that the media is to blame.  That movies, that video games are to blame.  That the First Amendment is less than the Second, because Two is a bigger number.

Doublethink, after all, is the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in ones mind simultaneously and accepting both of them.  This is today's NRA.

Sometime before the New Year, perhaps tomorrow, I will write the story of how I got shot.  The bullet inside of me has been rather sensitive the past few days as if it wants its story told.

Monday, December 10, 2012


So it looks as if the Washington Post is going to paywall itself.  It'll follow in the famous steps of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, but the less famous steps of the regional papers as well.

This is a long time in coming, unfortunately.  I hate paywalling.  I want to be able to get my news and as I am but a poor man I cannot afford the variety of subscriptions.  But as I am sure most of us have noticed, newspapers plain and simply suck.

It started in the '90s.  The '90s, when only the Nerds were online (Online year: 1995 for me) yet the newspaper industry was blaming online (And cable) for their dying profits.  Back at that point the newspaper industry was earning large net profits.  Profits that most industries would (And possibly have) kill for.  But Wall Street's mentality is if your profits shrink, you are dying.  And while that can be argued to be true, if your profits shrink but every other industry would still kill to have them, you might be okay for the time being.

Now there were many answers on how to regrow the newspaper industry at that point.  However the tycoons decided to cut. (This is where the root for my immense hatred of Wall Street comes from).  The various papers began to cut bureau reporters.  And that satisfied the ravening beast in New York some.  But eventually it asked for more sacrifices.

And this is what began to kill off the newspaper industry.  The papers began to get rid of their high seniority reporters due to the level of pay.  Bean-Counter logic.  The downside is that journalism, true journalism, requires relationships.

So the veteran police reporter that's now laid off and replaced by some fresh reporter?  All the relationships that reporter had with the police station goes away, they don't magically transfer to the new reporter.  So tips, off the record conversations, on the record conversations, anonymous conversations...they all go away.

But it's not just the police.  It's city hall, it's the state capital, it's various community organizations.  The cutting of the highest paid reporters caused the papers to have no relationships.

For instance: I recently cancelled my subscription to the Indianapolis Star.  Why?  It was nothing.  Anytime I complained by their lack of community reporting they would talk about the incidental "lifestyle" crap that they continued to add.  Yes, restaurant reviews are nice to have.  What is going on, what is worth going to, all very nice to have.  But for some reason they figured actual news was not important, it was best to keep adding to the lifestyle section.

I finally got fed up and I have not missed it.  (Well except for the fact they robbed me. I called, cancelled my subscription and they cancelled it instantly despite me having paid for 3 more weeks.)  And I am really curious what their subscription rates are like now that they've raised their rates and paywalled their website.

But that long rambling bit aside...Due to the place the industry finds itself now, the Era of Free News is coming to an end.  Paywalls are coming and seem to even be necessary.  If the papers have good publishers, the money might go to actual reporting and an improving of content.  But if they don't, it'll just be a magazine in grayprint.

Speaking of magazines.  As I am sure most of you know, Newsweek has dropped their physical magazine.  So how will they make money?  They're currently floating a plan to make the Daily Beast paywalled.  Yes, even the Daily Beast, mostly an opinionated place, will be paywalled.

This is the end, my friend.  Free News, the era of free information is at an end.  And while it could be argued that the free information is what led to the crappy reporting of the past decade plus, I think this is still a thing to be mourned.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

D&D Nerdery 2: Savage Opakaw 3: The Ruination

The Words of St. Galain

  1. Lo, the darkness took over the land.  The races three were now divided and shattered into many more.  Where stood the Elves now stood beings of such grace as the Eladrin.
  2. But in this time of darkness grace would not be tolerated to exist upon itself.  And the Eladrin and those untwisted had to face with a darker cousin.  And darker still were the Fomor.  And the chains they began to place upon their cousins.
  3. Silence let it's oppressive weight be felt during each of our sermons and even our holiest warriors began to have doubts.  
  4. The darkest thoughts of our flock magnified during this period after the Shattering.  The faithless grew amongst them and spread their foul words through the minds of the grieving.  And the presence of the demonborn was an insult to our Faith.
  5. And as the doubts and the dark thoughts magnified and the demonborns very existence mocked us, that negative energy coalesced into a being.
  6. A being darker than the Fomor.  One that made the demonborn seem more a blessing than a curse.  And as befitting its darkness, it hid in the shadows and twisted further. 
  7. Whole settlements of humans marched to the sealed mountain homes of the Dwarves, at the base of the God's river.  They began to war upon the very earth that sealed the dwarves in.  
  8. And once they penetrated, dark beings of tusk and putrid skin flowed outward and massacred the makeshift army.  
  9. Every last soul was lost that day, and that statement is true to its core.  For these beings, these Orcs, piled every last body into the Holy River.  And there the Darkness revealed itself.  
  10. The mountain of bodies melted down into the holy waters.  Putrid diseases of kinds never before in our lands spread from the waters.  
  11. The black waters spread quickly, infecting every last settlement it passed through.  Those unafflicted fled to the safety of the forests to the north and south. 
  12. Those afflicted died a painful death even our most powerful prayers could not alleviate.  And as our flock saw once again our power questioned, the lack of faith spread further.
  13. In response we walked away from our duty to tend the flock.  We stopped our attempts at alleviating the pain and suffering of the afflicted.  Peace and Love was replaced with Revenge and Justice.
  14. We assembled an army.  At its core our best clerics, now praying for guidance in battle.
  15. Defending them and being the strong backbone of this army were our former Temple Defenders, now dubbed Paladins of the Faith.
  16. The most fervent amongst our new warriors were declared to be Avengers.  For they shall avenge all the insults done to our peoples and our Lord.
  17. We marched up the desecrated river and warred upon the Orcs that served our Enemy.  They fell before our righteous might and on we marched.
  18. Up the mountain of bodies that our blades created.  Up to the Enemy itself, who gazed down from the base of the river he conquered from our Lord.
  19. Our mightiest prayers were uttered, calling for the holy light to cleanse the darkness from our land.  And our prayers combined and unleashed such radiance from the heavens.  Our hearts lifted at the sight.
  20. And then sunk at the reality.  For as the radiance hit the Enemy, it was taken inside and twisted.  Suddenly that radiance was made Dark and unleashed upon us.  
  21. Many of our warriors fell instantly at the touch and rose again to fight us.  The fallen's holy powers were twisted to that of darkness.  And each of us who were touched by their blades would fall and rise again to make war upon our fellows.
  22. As all seemed lost and our holy army began to break, a light broke out onto the heavens.
  23. A voice spoke out to me, asking me to accept the God within my Heart.  I did so and as I did I felt myself swelled with such power.
  24. I heard my voice speak out a word from a language I had never heard before, and the Dark One recoiled.  
  25. A Gate of Silver appeared in the sky and swung open, revealing behind it a large host of angelic warriors.  The warriors flew over our fallen comrades and turned them to ash, and we stood in place as we watched them fly upon the Dark One.
  26. The Dark One, however, fought back.  Those we thought invincible fell before his blade, but did him great damage as well.
  27. And I knew then that it required more than just a spoken word, no matter how holy, to defeat this one.  I climbed up the mountain as the angels and the Dark One warred.
  28. Upon reaching the summit I threw myself at the unholy thing that so insulted our Lord and invoked all the power I had felt the God grant me.  
  29. A Blade of silver and light appeared in my hand and plunged into the chest of the Dark One.  I felt the coldness of his being began to infect my soul.  I pushed away and flung myself backwards, watching as the light enveloped it.
  30. And so the war was won but with cost.  The Angels streamed back through the gate and closed it.  Our Holy Order given a new task.
  31. For the river is still unhallowed and beings of dark power and death now roam along its banks.  The core of our land now rendered inhospitable.
  32. But we remain.  We remain under the lands and fight back.  Our Lord, now reviled amongst our former flock, strengthens our will with this holy cause.
  33. Soon the river shall turn blue again, and the darkness that has enveloped us all will finally cease.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

D&D Nerdery 2: Savage Opakaw 2: The Shattering

The Shattering


What follows is a concise summary of the shattering, using both that which our own forebears recorded for us and the tales that have spread amongst the savages.  We have extensively trained both tale-tellers and enterprising wizards to leave our ivory tower and find all manner of knowledge now lost to us.  


The existence of Dragons had long been hypothesized due to the artwork of pre-imperial times.  But our guild, as well as most scholars and philosophizers  decided that the depictions that were deemed dragons were just overly stylized crocodiles.  Many state that if we had known we could have been prepared, but what followed their arrival none could have been prepared for.

Over the ocean they came and they instantly decimated our seaside towns.  Those were our weakest defenses, of course, as only a few existed and seaside trade had proven to be more of a loss than a profit to our merchants.  

The tales of the few survivors told of us majestic lizards, streaming out magic that even the oldest and most talented of the elves would have found impossible.  They were larger than the oliphants and the colours of their scales gleamed in the light.  The number we were told was low, just but 6, yet the entire seaside was in ruins.  And after that attack they had disappeared for weeks.

We immediately went to work going through our oldest tomes for any information on these new invaders. And as we found nothing we watched in horror as panic spread quickly throughout the empire.  The elves, those that live the longest and have the best histories, were thought to have covered up their existence and demagogues in the streets riled up ancient racism against them.

But just as gang violence began to rear its head in the streets the dragons showed up again, their foul breath and warping spells worked along the elvish forests.  And the magic was so great that even the elves in the towns along the river and our towers began to be warped. The ones outside of their forests ended up melting down to the horror of all, the ones inside their forests split into divergent species.  The chaos of the change caused the elves to drop out of the Empire and cease all contact and trade.

The nobles could not agree on what to do next and many ideas were proposed.  This gridlock led to little being done except an emphasis on archery training, as well as our own training in more destructive magics.  The clerics put further effort into contacting their deity, but even Its agents were not responding to the spells.

However the next attack would split the humans and dwarves apart.  The dragons once again attacked human lands, and their nobles began to formulate a desperation plan.  The dwarves, meanwhile, began to study transmogrification magics in a vain attempt to help the elves.

The humans desperate plan was pulled off first, as the noble families of the empire summoned many outsiders to plead with.  The outsiders instantly ruined the capital as they fought amongst themselves, and the demons that were left agreed to fight for the Empire.  For a price, of course.  They formed a plan of attack and waited.

The dwarves at this time, having seen the damage the demons had already done, balked and withdrew to their mountain strongholds.  There they tested the magic they thought would save the elves, but instead it twisted them as well.

And as for the desperate plans of the humans?  It could be argued that it succeeded.  The dragons attacked once more, and the demons teleported themselves as well as battle mages and the soldiers to the site of the battle.  A dragon actually fell that day, and those that remained cast their horrible warping spells.  And these spells interacted with the natural resistance of the demons, causing some of the essence to bounce back upon the dragons.  The whole battlefield erupted and once the spells were done none remained the same.  The dragons, demons and humans ended up mixing and creating new species.  The humans outside of the battle remained untouched.

This was enough to cause the death of the empire that was.  But to fall as far as civilization had required a few more steps.  The most damaging of these additional steps was the fouling of the river.

Friday, December 7, 2012

D&D Nerdery 2: Savage Opakaw

No one living now can remember as far back as that which was.  Opakaw now just lives in legend, handed down from storyteller to storyteller through the generations.

To hear the tales of it now invites the listener to envision the paradise that that empire must have been.  It is stated that it was an empire ruled by families of humans, elves, and dwarves.  Each race living in harmony with the others, despite them all living in different parts of the realm.

The humans, of course, founded their cities upon the river that the empire took its name from and its tributaries.  They were industrious and expanded quickly.   And ever seeking out better materials and better methods of which to do things.  Which led them both to their future partners.

To the south, of course, were the elves.  The forest was thick but still traversable, unlike that which we find ourselves in today.  And the elves were very knowledgeable with their magics and the humans quick learners.  Through the bond forged over magic the elves and humans banded together, and the first division of the races began with that as the two even bred together to create a half-breed.  First reviled, these half-breeds eventually began to be lavished upon.  Many of the later Consuls were from their stock.

And to the north were the dwarven smiths.  Found by the humans as they traveled further up the Opakaw seeking the source of the minerals that would occasionally wind up in the river.  And there they found the Dwarves, living along the mountains that formed The Roof Of The World.  There they mined and smithed, and the best metals in the world were theirs to command.  Desiring the access to such resources, the humans welcomed them into the fold.

And soon the realm was at rest.  The three primary races stood in harmony and the tales tell us all was at peace.  Common knowledge, even now, states that a citizen could traverse from one end of this empire to another and worry not of any hazard befalling them.  Bandits were unheard of, and dangerous animals warded off with magical tokens freely available to all.  The God, with its benevolence, shown down its light upon all of civilization.  Do not give me that look, for I have not named It nor would I.  But It must be included for a tale to be complete.

A true peace, a strong empire that lasted for a thousand years.  So the tales say, anyhow.  Some hint at even longer.  The tales state such fantastic things were commonplace.  The water was always crystal clear and the food could be kept for days on end.  Diseases were unheard of and it was said that a common man could live for a hundred years without troubles.  Paradise indeed.

But tales of paradise do not get told without dwelling upon what happened to paradise.  And there are indeed many tales of how that paradise got shattered and of how we ended up as we are now.  But that is for tomorrow as the night draws us to our sleep.

Please remember to keep that fire well lit for it will ward off the lizards.  And those who stand guard tonight; do not break the circle for that is what will keep us safe from the dangers of this jungle.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

D&D Nerdery: Winterthur Part 2: PC Races


Winterthur, as most cities that formed the old empire, is a human dominated.  Other civilized races may have turned inwards but it does not mean they do not exist.  This here is a listing of the various races in the Players Handbook and the Players Handbook 2.

Friday, November 30, 2012

D&D Nerdery: Winterthur

The city of Winterthur is the last sign of civilization in the north.  Sure there are some villages further north that house and serve those that live out even closer to the wilderness, but none are very large nor visited by much beyond farmers, soldiers and tax collectors.

The fact that civilization is slowly crumbling is very evident on the roads surrounding Winterthur.  To the more civilized south the roads are evidently still heavily used, but not the strong straight concrete that it once was.  To the north the road is even more heavily ruined, but it still makes it to the villages in what could be generously described as 'one-piece.'  To the east, into the mountains where once trade was handled with the industrious Dwarves, the roads are long neglected and extend not much further than the final village.  And to the west the roads disappear into the ravenous forest, which is encroaching further and further upon lands claimed by the settlement every year.

Soldier patrols are stronger every year to combat the wildness and desperation taking hold.  Of course with increased patrols comes increased taxes, which adds to the desperation.  Bandits along the southern road, wild goblins and orcs hounding the eastern parts of the settlement, raiders pillaging the north and creatures that reek of magic haunting the western.

Inside the high and thick walls that surround the city (Ignoring for the moment the densely-populated Vorstadt which are surrounded by smaller walls and house the trades) things are less desperate, at least they are on the surface.  The Markets are often packed, and the guildhalls are well maintained.  The houses of the noble families form an inner ring that surrounds the center of the city where the hall of government sits.


The ruler of the city is Margrave Zanne of the family Kyburg.  She is a young woman who has been the ceremonial ruler since she was six years old, and actual ruler for the past 4 years.  She is advised by the heads of the guilds, the noble families and occasionally the mayors of the nearby villages.  

The official religion of Winterthur, as in many former imperial cities, is Erathis.  The head of the church is the ruler of the city.  Given Zanne was Margrave at the age of 6 she was given the charge of running the church at that young age.  This has led her to be more pious than many past rulers.


Given the cost of the Linked Portal ritual, only magical items travel via portals, though occasionally higher end artistic craftsmanship will as well.  The trade goods all travel the old fashioned way, either by boat or road, and thus are prey to the bandits to the south and north.

The guildhalls inside the city are a strong part of the city politics, and thus can be truly said to no longer represent their guilds interests properly.  As the power of the Empire waned and finally collapsed, the families of the city saw the guilds as a way to increase their own money.  So most of these guilds are now ran by various noble families and the Guildmaster has become a hereditary one.

The mages guild is the major exception to this rule.  The Mages guild, due to their teleportation circles, is in constant contact with the other Mage guilds throughout the old lands of the empire.  There is a clear structure that runs through the various guilds.


The Vorstadt mostly lies along the southern and western walls, sandwiched between the city and the river.  It is a densely populated area where most of the city’s trades are done, and so the smell is..unpleasant to say the least.  The people of the Vorstadt are of a variety of races (Unlike the mostly human interior of the city).  

The population of the Vorstadt is rapidly increasing.  As raids increase on the farms and villages surrounding Winterthur, not to mention the forest claiming an ever increasing amount of land, people flee to the city of their liege for help.  Most of those people end up in the Vorstadt, some joining an honest trade.  Many others resorting to begging, or worse.

The guildhalls in the interior of the city claim to control their respective trades that are done out in the Vorstadt, but they hold little true control.  All the smiths still pay their ever-increasing dues, they have to of course by city fiat, but many of them have a closer influence they must answer to.  

Crime has always been an issue in the Vorstadt, but it’s gotten increasingly worse as more bodies press inside.  The old Vorstadt ‘Guild’, a mockery on the other guilds, that kept overt crime at a low to prevent the soldiers from intervening has splintered into competing factions.  Now to too many tradesman one does not pay protection money to just one organized guild, but to many different gangs.  And woe to the smith who decides to gamble and only pay to select gangs.  Too often they choose poorly.

Other Lands / Races

Southern Lands

Things up in the north sound dire, but they are no better in the south.  As the empire withdrew into its core lands, petty kings began to pop up in their old lands.  And once the empire finally collapsed, the various cities in its core all declared themselves strong states of their own.  And as is often in a place of many kingdoms and city-states, war is common.


The elves have always been more aloof and distant to the old empire, but they often had ambassadors and traders interacting.  Since the fall they’ve turned more inward and are rather rare to come across.  Though some do live in human lands.


The Dwarves turned inward before the empire collapsed, about the same time as Orcs began to threaten the boundaries.  Traders are rarely seen, though some cities have dwarven enclaves.

Newslinks: November 30th, 2012

Well it's been a slow news day in the past 24 hours.  Some major announcements, yes, but not too much in the way of quantity.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Newslinks: November 29th, 2012

"The conspiracy therefore was not to mislead the American public but to mislead America's enemies. If Rice had gone beyond her unclassified talking points and said that Ansar al-Sharia was suspected to be behind the Benghazi attacks, no doubt she would now be being hounded for the unauthorized disclosure of classified information."
Peter Bergen, CNN

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Newslinks: November 28th, 2012

“A genuine odyssey is not about piling up experiences. It is a deeply felt, risky, unpredictable tour of the soul.” 
Thomas Moore

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Newslinks: November 27th, 2012

My son is wanting to be awake more in mid-day.  Thus newslinks will be posted at 10 am everyday. (Yes it's slowly getting earlier. Eventually they'll be posted in the past before the news happens.)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Newslinks: November 26th, 2012

"Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration"
Abraham Lincoln, 1861

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Responding to my Responders: 'The Corporations Are People, My Friends' Edition.

I would normally not do this but sometimes a reply to a reply gets too long and unwieldy.

Krellen stated:
"Y'know, the Supreme Court actually never ruled that Corporations are people. They ruled that Corporations should be treated as people FOR TAX PURPOSES. Some clerk translated that to "Corporations are people", and the fallacy has stuck with us."

It is sadly a bit more complicated than that.  In 1886 the case 'Santa Clara County v Southern Pacific Railroad Company' was brought to the Supreme Court's attention.  In the case, Santa Clara County was trying to levy a property tax against the Southern Pacific Railroad Company.  Because, like most corporations, the SPRC did not wish to pay said tax they argued about it.  One of their arguments was based on the 14th amendments 'Equal Protection' law.  The railroad was simply being held to a different standard than human taxpayers.

This is, of course, ridiculous.  First graders would laugh this out of their classroom.  But law is far more ridiculous than anything else, including quantum mechanics.

The Supreme Court Chief Justice, Morrison Waite, said preceding the proceedings: 
"The Court does not wish to hear argument on the question whether the provision in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution which forbids a state to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws applies to these corporations. We are all of the opinion that it does."

In their published opinion, however, they did not include that.  Ducking the question, as it were.  So technically that should not have established a precedent.  

Enter the court reporter, J.C. Bancroft Davis.  A court reporter is much more esteemed than a simple clerk.  They digest the dense rulings and summarize key findings in published headnotes.  Well, Mr. Davis sent a letter to Mr. Waite asking if he could include the preface in the headnote.  Waite gave an ambivalent response that Davis took as a yes.  And thus was a precedent formed.  Now why would this man push for this?  Well it would not be fair of me to speculate.

But this is a blog, and thus I have no journalistic standing or integrity expected upon me.  While Mr. Davis had a very long and varied career in the public service, he also at one point was the president of the board of directors of Newburgh & New York Railroad Company.  Now when he did this he was not in that position any longer, but one can speculate that he was very obviously a standard 19th century (21st century?  Are we entering a new gilded age?) businessman and wanted to pave the way for businesses to have less government hassle.

This is what I meant in my previous post when I said "Unethical" because it was.  Due to this the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th amendment, designed to help former slaves, was used to strike down regulations placed upon corporations countless times until the New Deal.  In fact, it was used to protect corporations from regulations more often than it was used to protect former slaves. 

And, of course, corporations still love to use the First Amendment to argue certain things.  Like that they can lie freely.  Or that they can give unlimited campaign contributions.  The Supreme Court had a chance to update this ruling and fix things but alas, they decided to be pro business.  And they're so smug in thinking they're right about it.  Yes I'm bitter.

Newslinks: November 25th, 2012

Why is corporate welfare so beloved by this country, but any attempt to help actual people with the government disliked?

Why does everyone insist that charities can do the helping when it's obvious that charities cannot keep up?  For that matter, why do the people who insist that charities should be the sole help rarely donate to charities that do help?

For that matter, how can a corporation legally be a person (And that was decided upon rather unethically by a 19th century Supreme Court) when a corporation is just a piece of paper whose ownership gets transferred?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Newslinks: November 24th, 2012

Yesterday I mentioned I hated the term "Free Thinkers".  In my experience it has been used to describe anyone who is in a "not conventional" religion but not yet a cult.  So it's mostly been used to describe atheists, agnostics and wiccans. Of course, the Wiccan was the only one who had any real religion in that group at all so maybe he was included to not start any fights.

But here is my feeling on this.  While I don't respect someones belief system much if they haven't actually examined it, I have known many religious people who took a route to their religion.  Their life led them to embrace that religion, often upon some studying.  And those people are the ones who know the most about that religion.  Downside, of course, is by coming to religion in your adulthood you tend to embrace it with a passion and zeal.  The Evangelical movement is powered by these "Born Again Christians."

Many of whom, in my experience, embrace it so strongly because deep down they had a hard life in their young adulthood and their religion is their pillar.  Their way to move beyond that past.  And thus why they can be so uncompromising.

This opening has gotten a bit away from its point.  Mainly:  People in a mainstream religion, or religion of any kind, CAN be free thinkers, and many often are.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Newslinks November 23rd, 2012

Alright. It's time to talk entitlement.  No, no, don't go running away screaming! Please! This isn't one of those! (I hope)

It took me a long time to understand the mindset of the Christians who believe this country is being taken from them.  But it's quite simple.  For a long time their's was the dominant view.  What they believed was the law.  Their religion could be everywhere, despite the constitution.  They saw this as a Good thing and it wasn't enforced by a religious police like they have in Saudi Arabia, it just was.

Then free thinkers (I do hate this term, by the way) began to arise.  They saw that the America they were in was actually oppressive to their own belief systems despite the Constitution.  So they began to challenge and win those challenges.  Slowly making this place friendlier to all non-Christians (And some Christian Sects).

Now the Christians don't see it as a balancing act, because there's no way their world view would let them see this.  They see it as the balance is being thrown out of whack. That they are being discriminated against.  They don't see it as everyone becoming equal, they see it as everyone becoming more equal than they.

Of course they are wrong, vastly wrong, but often entitlement is based upon where you stand.  You don't see your own entitlement. So they don't see that they were on Top.  They only see their "rights" being taken away.

So Non Christians just see the Christian Right in this country wishing to oppress them.  But that's not what it is.  The Christian Right honestly believes they are victims now, that their rights are being taken away.  That they are being targeted.  And while they are wrong, it still makes me quite sad.  Because most of them will not ever see the truth of the matter because they cannot.  And this is a tragedy.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Newslinks: November 21st, 2012

I recently ran across a public opinion poll on Palestinian attitudes.  It was embedded in an article that stated the best way to defeat Hamas is for Israel to prop up the Palestinian Authority.  This is true if the Right Wing government of Israel truly wanted Hamas gone.  I'm cynical towards that.

But the poll.  It was interesting and it shows why Hamas can still get support amongst Palestinians.  The poll was taken in late September by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research.  I have no idea their sample method so I'm posting these numbers rather blind:

66% of Palestinians believe that the Palestinian Authority's long term goal is to recover all or parts of the land occupied in 1967. (Aka Gaza/West Bank).  24% believe the PA's goal is to recover the 1948 lands.  So right there the Palestinians think the PA wants a two state solution.

However 57% of Palestinians believe settlement growth has made a Palestinian state impossible.  I can't blame them.  President George W. Bush's roadmap to peace obligated Israel to freeze settlement growth and remove illegal outposts.  Currently the right wing Netanyahu government has doubled funding for settlements.  And the outposts that are illegal even under Israeli law?  The current government is considering legalizing them.  This leads into....

81% of Palestinians believe that Israel's long term goal is to annex the Palestinian territory occupied in 1967. And this is why Hamas still gets support.  Because when a very large percentage of the Palestinians think Israel just wants to completely annex Gaza and the West Bank than there's no real chance for peace.  And this is a tragedy.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Newslinks: November 20th, 2012

I almost had nothing to say then I thought of something!

Why do I refuse to use the name Myanmar?  Well ever since Burma's junta took over, they imposed the name Myanmar and also got rid of many other colonial names.  This does not sound like that big of a deal, India got rid of their colonial names as well.  However many Burmese democratic opposition groups oppose the name change and prefer the Burma one.  The UN has recognized Myanmar, but the US and UK has not.  In international politics it is seen as if you call the country Myanmar, you're soft on the regime.  Now of course I am not in international politics but I do agree.  If they get a fully democratic government and they decide to keep the name, I will probably change as well. But as of now, out of protest, I use Burma.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Newslinks November 19th, 2012

I will say the Hamas experiment has mostly failed.  Their governing arm has done a decent job providing services to the Palestinian people in Gaza and the fact they are in charge has moderated the militant wing...a little.  But it's way too little. The militant wing has too little interest in protecting the Palestinian people so they continue to be a terrorist faction instead of a source of stability and defense.
In all honesty, the way Gaza looks at the moment, if an election was held and Hamas was voted out I doubt they would give it up.  Remember the civil war against Fatah.  But that is just speculation, there'd first have to be an election and second Hamas would have to lose.  And there were supposed to be elections back in May, in an agreement Hamas made (brokered by the Egyptians) with the Palestinian National Authority, but they backed out of the elections stating holding them would be "impossible."  In January it will have been 7 years since elections were held in Palestine.
Also of interest: In 2011 the Independent Commission for Human Rights lambasted the PA, Hamas and Israel for human rights abuses against the Palestinians.  I don't remember hearing much about this, but I think that should be highlighted.
Hamas could have ended up the good guys in this, however improbably and insane that statement seems.  Terrorist organizations can reform, especially if given political power.  But they're clinging to power and abusing the trust of the people they're in charge of.   If there was the 15 years of peace (see newslink below) that Israel wanted, I wonder how long it would take for the Palestinian people to rise up against their own government.  But it won't happen as long as there are attacks in their cities.  No matter how bad their government is, people band together behind it when attacked by an outside force.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Newslinks: November 18th, 2012

"The goal of the operation is to send Gaza back to the Middle Ages.                                                                              Only then will Israel be calm for forty years."
Interior Minister Eli Yishai
"The first and absolute condition for a truce is stopping all fire from Gaza."
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Newslinks: November 17th, 2012

So let's talk a little about monopolies.  The US government supposedly has a system in place to stop monopolies, and they do.  And it works (on occasion, ask AT&T).  However their system looks at the whole country as a model.  The true victims of monopolies are people in every city and town.  The companies with the monopolies are not those that have a stranglehold on the country, but one on their community.
For instance, in many places with a fully privatized Electricity Utility have been seeing a constant increase in their bills.  Various fees added on, the electric rate going up.  And so since consumers cannot truly get away from these companies without having to move (Which is not a truly reasonable option), they are in effect a monopoly.
My water bill has tripled since I moved here 3 years ago.  There are MULTIPLE water companies in the area but they each are very regulated in where they service.  So once again I am stuck.
And let us not forget cable internet.  In some areas there is choice.  DSL, while slower than cable, is more preferable to dial up.  And Dial up is nearly always an (ridiculously poor) option.  And of course in Kansas City there is Google Fiber.   Oh Google Fiber how I desire you.  Got a bit off track there, sorry.  But most of the time you have one real option, whether it be Comcast, AT&T, Time Warner (You poor people with Time Warner.  It even drove Patrick Stewart into the sheer depths of despair.)  And no other real competitor will come by due to franchise agreements.  And this monopoly definitely shows how it hurts us.  We are rather far behind in Internet Speed compared to Western Europe, Korea and Japan, because these companies have little need to do better.  Again, except Google.  Oh Google, let me feel your fiber

Friday, November 16, 2012

Israel & Gaza. Please Read the whole thing. Very Stream of Thought and Jumbled.

Alright.  I've been critical on Israel's actions in Gaza.  There are many reasons for this.  However I do want to make something clear...I understand that no country can nor should tolerate their people being aimed at with rockets.  Despite those rockets being unsophisticated and rarely lethal, it still is terrorism and they are dangerous and are disruptive.

Their short term goals are simple:  Assassinate militant leaders, leveling various safe houses and getting rid of weapon depots and military installations.  But what is their long term, for as Janine Zacharia stated:

"In the end, Israel will be no safer, although it will surely be more alone in the world and living in a neighborhood that is less tolerant of its aggressive countermeasures."

Newslinks: November 16th, 2012

Many of you on the Twitter-verse have seen me rage about the energy infrastructure we have and how money should go to invest it.
Roughly 500,000 Americans lose power for at least 2 hours EVERY SINGLE DAY.
The average substation transformer is 42 years old.  The expected life span of them? 40 years.
70% of the largest high-voltage power transformers, those that weigh up to 800,000 pounds, are more than 25 years old and thus subject to increased risk of failure.  Replacing one of these transformers can take up to twenty months.
Our system is so antiquated and overloaded that when there's an issue it spreads beyond the area.  The June Derecho which did quite a bit of wind damage from Indian through the Appalachians to DC saw other areas out of power for longer than others.  Such as suburban Maryland.  It was not hit harder, but the damage it sustained triggered multiple failures down the line.
For a better example, one of which many of you are too young for, was the Ohio Failure of 2003.  Line failures in Northeastern Ohio darkened a 1,900 square mile area.  265 power plants went offline. Cost nearly $6B, nearly 100 people died and 50 million people in the dark for four days.
We need to put serious money into this. It is a National Security AND Human Rights issue.  Yet it's always kicked down the road and every year it gets worse.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Newslinks, November 15th, 2016.

September 29, 2000 - August 31, 2012

At least 6,617 Palestinians and 1,097 Israelis have been killed.
126 Israeli children have been killed by Palestinians. 1,476 Palestinian children have been killed by Israelis.
10,792 Israeli injuries. 59,575 Palestinian Injuries.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Newslinks: November 14th, 2012

Eric Holder apparently knew about the Petraeus story for months.  I say that qualifies as the DoJ being added to the list, since he didn't let the White House know.  At least he's not accused of stalking Mrs. Kelley....yet.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Newslinks November 13, 2012

This Petraeus thing has gone insane.  And now, a new twist.  General John Allen, the top commander in Afghanistan, is said to have sent 'inappropriate' e-mails to Mrs. Kelley.  So now we have inappropriate CIA, FBI and DoD.  Which Department is next in this thing?

The big thing to me, depending on those inappropriate e-mails, is the FBI Agent.  He pursued a friendship with Mrs. Kelley. He was never a part of the investigation but kept nosing around it.  His superiors finally had to tell him "Back off". Then, due to his worldview, he figured the investigation stalled due to a coverup to protect the President.  Thus a week before the election he figured it would be a good idea to inform the Republicans on the Hill, probably in the vain hopes that A> The girl he fancied would be protected and B> that they would leak this to the media.  Eric Cantor, for once in his life, decided to do the right thing and reached out to the FBI Director and got the story straight.  And of course when Fox heard of this, they started chatting up more conspiracy theories.  But it was the far right wing tendency to go to conspiracy theories that is the story, due to this unnamed FBI agent.  (Yes the far left does do conspiracies too.  So far not relevant to this story.  ... Yet. Give it time.)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Newslinks November 12, 2012

So very early Sunday morning there was a large explosion in southern Indianapolis. It destroyed 3 houses, and significantly damaged a couple dozen more. The conspiracy theorists on the internet have gone nuts. Some are trying to link it to supposed explosions and radiation spikes that happened at the Michigan Indiana border. Others are saying it's a US drone strike. Others are saying it's a jet that crash-landed straight down. The most sensible of all these is the "It's a meteorite or satellite and the government is trying to cover it up." Why..the cover up I don't know. That's why I said most sensible, not most likely.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

News Links, November 11th, 2012

So two days ago it was Petraeus resigning that made me angry.  Yesterday, 5 hours after I posted news links (Better than 20 minutes), George Entwistle resigned as Director General of the BBC.  They had a broadcast on child abuse allegations that linked abuse to a Lord.  It was later proven to be false and BBC is in quite a bit of a roil for it.  Worst thing for the Beeb to be in, given the Tories do want to cut it's funding.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Aulayan's News Links: November 10, 2012

I am a little angry at David Petraeus right now.  20 minutes after I posted my newslinks yesterday, he resigned.  Due to an affair.  With his Biographer.  Whom the FBI were investigating because of suspicions she had inappropriate access to classified materials.  Which the White House did not find out about until Wednesday (Sorry Conservative Conspiracy Theorists!).  And there's the summary of that!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Aulayan's News Links: November 9th, 2012

Welcome to my newslinks.  I cannot guarantee I'll do this everyday.  But I may.  If I do I will attempt to have it up by 2 pm.  I gather most of my links in the morning but I wait until 2 due to the major news that usually starts coming out around 11.  Also: Fuck CNN. (You'll see why at the end of this post)

Caverna de las Brujas Part 5

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Caverna de las Brujas Part 4

The building before Henry was impressive for being in the center of London.  Comprised of tan brickwork, it stood three stories high with tall windows gazing out into the street.  Three chimneys rose above the roof, with a steady stream of smoke rising high into the London sky.  The land before the place was impressive tile work with each tile bearing names of what were presumably patrons.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Post-Election Thoughts Ballot Measures edition

I do not have much to say about this election that everyone everywhere has not read somewhere else.  So here are my thoughts and results on a handful of ballot measures.

Caverna de las Brujas Part 3

Fuck it's bright.  That was the first thing registering in Henry Arthur's brain.  His eyes fluttered open and he found himself staring straight up at an electric light, hanging above the bed he was in.  He tilted his head to the left and groaned in pain and once more upon registering what he saw.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Caverna de las Brujas Part 2

Henry's eyes snapped open at the sound of an explosion and within seconds he was up and out of what was laughingly called a bed down here in the trenches.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Caverna de las Brujas Part 1

Visually it was unimpressive.  A dark mouth in gray slate, thrice the width of a man but only slightly taller, flanked by a handful of green bushes.  The rocks and soil in the steep slope up to the cavern were held in place by the intermittent placement of short stubby brown plants.