Category Archives: Random Smartassery

Wisdom from the Kwik Stop in Penrose, CO

Pretty much every time I go to Cañon City

Denver to Canon City

to visit a client who is, as Judge Williams would say, a guest of the state of Colorado, I stop at the Kwik Stop in Penrose.  (Well, not actually downtown Penrose; more like suburban Penrose.)

Penrose

The Kwik Stop offers Subway sandwiches and good ol fashioned Colorado wisdom, the latter generally involving some combination of dramatically-posed talon-baring eagles, firearms, and gentle suggestions concerning what folks can do if they don’t approve of those things.  But occasionally there are nuggets of truly wise wisdom.  For example:

2013-02-04_13-05-36_943

2013-02-04_13-05-15_615

2013-02-04_13-05-08_820

And finally, my feeling about camping, or really any outdoor activity.

2013-02-04_13-05-27_753

Who knew Microsoft was in the soul-saving business?

But my ability to use its software to save my soul currently has some bugs.  This is the error message I get every time I try to open MS Outlook.

Redemption helper

My Redemption Helper is on the fritz!  I am unredeemed!  Maybe I need a laying-on of IT hands!   A binary prayer request!  A baptism in bytes!  A Microsoft mitzvah!  (Trying to keep it ecumenical here.)

Things that are not patriotic:

Attempting to keep people from voting – in Florida

Early voting the Sunday before Election Day used to be allowed. But it was eliminated by the GOP-controlled state Legislature and Republican Gov. Rick Scott last year after Barack Obama used early voting to help him win Florida in 2008 — and therefore the presidency.

and in Ohio.

In Ohio, after attempting to cancel weekend early voting all together, Secretary of State Jon Husted (R) drastically rolled back early voting hours.

Remember:

If you have to stop people voting to win elections, your ideas suck.

Closer to home, the two Obama signs I had stapled to our fence were torn down.  Too lazy to drive to Obama HQ and get new signs, I resorted to more basic First Amendment tools:  the inkjet printer and staple gun.

The little sign on the right reads:

Tim pointed out that it’s not really communism; more like fascism. I thought it reminded me of the neighborhood committees in China, in which neighbors kept an eye on one another’s ideological purity.  It’s also possible that it was random vandalism by drunken college students — not unknown in our ‘hood.

Extra bonus Colorado sunset shot:

Mutt Mitt

Hey!  I didn’t invent the product or the packaging — I just added my 8th grade sense of humor.  And a product endorsement:  nothing beats the Mitt for scooping poop!

Camera
MX880 series

Yes, I put the poop scoop bag bag on the scanner.  Yes I did.

Garage Triage

 

*  Includes car, bike, snow blower, tools (actually used), tools (aspirational), and the complete Fair Employment Practices Cases, Vols. I – 1997, complete with Post-It annotations by Peter C. Robertson.

Whew!

These ads always give me a great sense of relief, because God knows I’d rather my child* be in the company of

Matt Savage

or

grandin

or

Tammet

than these assholes

tommy-hilfiger-ss-2011-by-craig-mcdean-styled-karl-templar

********

* My theoretical child.  I don’t have kids.  But to be clear, I would rather be and/or hang out with people with autism than people in a Hilfiger ad.

Modesty glasses: finally, recognition that it’s their problem, not ours.

In Israel, new modesty glasses for Orthodox Jewish men blur women out of their line of sight – NY Daily News.

It’s the latest prescription for extreme ultra-Orthodox Jewish men who shun contact with the opposite sex: Glasses that blur their vision, so they don’t have to see women they consider to be immodestly dressed.

This is sheer genius!  With modern technology, if we can’t convince bigots to bring their thinking into the modern world, at least we don’t have to change our behavior to cater to their stone age views.  Bigot Glasses:  think of the uses!

  • Racist?  Here are glasses that make everyone’s skin tone look white.
  • Homophobic?  These glasses will portray, to the wearer, that any couple observed through the lenses consists of one man and one woman.
  • Islamophobic?  The glasses can be programmed to photographically superimpose members of the 4H Club overtop of any images of men with dark skin, beards, or turbans or women in headscarves.
  • Disabiliphobic?  There will be glasses to blur out wheelchairs, white canes, and sign language, showing instead those same people walking, seeing, hearing, and flipping you off.  (Still a few bugs in that technology.)

The ultimate genius, of course, is that Bigot Glasses only affect the bigot, so the rest of us can go about living our black, female, Islamic, gay, and/or disabled lives in peace.

There is, of course, one set of these glasses I’d invest in:  grumpy old lady glasses.   Technology that erases tattoos, pulls up pants, covers up exposed underwear, brushes hair, feigns respect, and edits out the word “like.”

Constitutional originalism for the unbuff

Scalia Suggests ‘Hand-Held Rocket Launchers’ Are Protected Under Second Amendment | ThinkProgress.

Can you guess why Scalia suggests hand-held rocket launchers are protected under the Second Amendment?  Because you can “bear” them.  That is, you can, theoretically, lift them onto your shoulder.  So for this reason, “it does not apply to cannons.”  I swear this is not The Onion.  Seriously, folks, if we’re going for originalism, we can’t stop with the bright line between hand-held rocket launchers and cannons.  Clearly your Second Amendment rights, per Scalia, are calibrated to the amount of weight you can bench press.  Clearly this guy’s

http://www.theworldsstrongestman.com/uncategorized/wsm-experience-finland-results/

constitutional rights are greater than mine, given that I’m not sure I could heft a Saturday Night Special.  But this, too, is flawed as originalism goes because at the time the Second Amendment was drafted, wasn’t the average body size smaller?  Shouldn’t we all be limited to the weapons that the average late 18th Century constitution-drafter could heft?  And if “bear” means only what it meant in 1781, how can freedom of the “press” apply to the internet?

Absurdity Slider

No, it’s not a small, tasty, metaphysical snack.  It’s a review of a review — big time-saver! — and a digression into the meaning of life.  The slider is explained below.  (Look!  A teaser!)

I minored in philosophy.  At Swarthmore.  You’d think this would have trained me to overthink almost anything.  And honestly, I can overthink important things like the font in my email or whether to get the 90 Shilling or the 1554.  But I recently* read a review in the New Yorker of a book that I think may represent the gold standard in overthinking: David Benatar’s “Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming Into Existence.”  The thesis: since it’s worse to suffer pain than to forego pleasure and since — in the words of the reviewer, “[e]ven the best of all possible lives consists of a mixture of pleasure and pain” — it is better never to have been born.

Yes, you read that correctly.  As the review notes:

The volume is dedicated to his parents, “even though they brought me into existence,” and to his brothers, “each of whose existence, although a harm to him, is a great benefit to the rest of us.”  (It’s fun to imagine what family reunions with the Benatars are like.)

But I think I’ve found the Rosetta Stone of disability discrimination.  As the reviewer explains it:

Benatar’s case rests on a critical but, in his view, unappreciated asymmetry. Consider two couples, the A’s and the B’s .  The A’s are young, healthy, and rich. If they had children, they could give them the best of everything — schools, clothes, electronic gaming devices. Even so, we would not say that the A’s have a moral obligation to reproduce.

The B’s are just as young and rich. But both have a genetic disease, and, were they to have a child together, that child would suffer terribly. We would say, using Benatar’s logic, that the B ‘s have an ethical obligation not to procreate.

They have a WHAT?

The case of the A’s and the B’s shows that we regard pleasure and pain differently. Pleasure missed out on by the nonexistent doesn’t count as a harm. Yet suffering avoided counts as a good, even when the recipient is a nonexistent one.

And what holds for the A’s and the B’s is basically true for everyone. Even the best of all possible lives consists of a mixture of pleasure and pain. Had the pleasure been forgone — that is, had the life never been created — no one would have been the worse for it. But the world is worse off because of the suffering brought needlessly into it.

Is this guy an android?  Everyone suffers at some point.  In fact, how does life have any meaning without suffering?  Hell, without pain, how do you learn basic things like not to touch a hot stove and not to listen to the Beach Boys?  I suppose if you never existed, you wouldn’t have to go through any bothersome learning processes.  But then, what’s the point?  I guess that is his point.

“One of the implications of my argument is that a life filled with good and containing only the most minute quantity of bad — a life of utter bliss adulterated only by the pain of a single pin-prick — is worse than no life at all,” Benatar writes.

He acknowledges that many readers will have difficulty accepting such a “deeply unsettling claim.” They will say that they consider their own existence to be a blessing, and that the same goes for their children’s. But they’re only kidding themselves.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is not The Onion and as near as I can tell, this dude expects his theory to be taken seriously.  On one level, it merits only derision.  Or this year’s Hitchhiker’s Guide Philosophy Award, an award I just started for philosophical arguments that measure up to my favorite ever, from the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, explaining the existence of the Babel Fish:

Now it is such a bizarrely improbable coincidence that anything so mindboggingly useful could have evolved purely by chance that some thinkers have chosen to see it as the final and clinching proof of the non-existence of God.

The argument goes something like this:

`I refuse to prove that I exist,’ says God, `for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing.’

`But,’ says Man, `The Babel fish is a dead giveaway, isn’t it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don’t. QED.’

`Oh dear,’ says God, `I hadn’t thought of that,’ and promptly vanished in a puff of logic.

`Oh, that was easy,’ says Man, and for an encore goes on to prove that black is white and gets himself killed on the next zebra crossing.

But on another level, the concept that it is better to avoid all pain than to experience any pleasure explains disabiliphobia.  It explains why the non-disabled world regularly projects on to people with disabilities a far lower quality of life than the latter actually experience.  This, in turn, leads non-disabled windbags like Peter Singer to opine that it is better for infants with disabilities not to be born or to be killed in infancy.  Benatar’s theory is simply the apotheosis of Singer’s: If it’s better not to be born than to be born with quadriplegia, where do we draw the line?  Better not to be born than to be born and later in life get the sniffles.  Perhaps it’s helpful to imagine this scale as a slider of the type I’m just now learning to use in Lightroom.  We’ll call it the Absurdity Slider:

The Absurdity Slider


Benatar took the Absurdity Slider and dragged it all the way to the right — up to 11 — where not only is it best to euthanize disabled infants, but it’s best that none of us ever have been born.

Given the highly accurate “that’s bullshit!” response most people will have to Benatar’s theory, I think he’s done us a service in placing Singer’s arguments along this all-important scale.  If only I had control of the actual slider.  Any coders out there want to help me develop a working Absurdity Slider, one that could tone down the absurdity in an argument the way you adjust the contrast in a digital photo?

*************

* Yes it was in the April 9 New Yorker, but it is true that I only recently read it, as I have just now reached that archeological layer in the New Yorker pile next to my comfy chair.

Introducing The Cute Puppies’ Guide to Title III of the ADA

There have been two types of post that have driven most of the traffic on this blog:  photos of my dogs; and my attempt to start an internet meme with the photo of Gus Fring being blown up by the mobster who used a wheelchair (MWD?).   So I try to publish my deep thoughts about disability rights, the practice of law, and adventures in trial technology, and what my immense readership really wants to see is photos of cute dogs and guys with their heads blown off.

This reminded me of one of my favorite Saturday Night Live sketches:  Kevin Nealon with No Attention Span News.  Not the funniest perhaps, but one that was excruciatingly accurate in portraying what it feels like to try to talk about something important but boring.  (Sorry for the ad.  It’s worth it.  Keep watching.)

With these thoughts in mind, I decided that we needed a more attention-grabbing way of presenting the ADA.  Lacking the copyright to the image of Gus Fring, but blessed with two very cute dogs, I decided to inaugurate The Cute Puppies’ Guide to Title III of the ADA:

There now!  Don’t you feel inspired to learn more?  You can check in from time to time on the FoxRobBlog, which will also have scintillating news of our latest case adventures and legal developments.  And puppies!