Ok, figgered it was ‘bout time to get back into the rest of my thoughts on current issues that society is all up in an uproar over.
Before that though…a couple of odds ’n ends.
Out in the Peoples Republic of California…
a court ruled last week that…believe it or not but hey, this is CA so I would probably believe just about anything…and yes…the link happens to go to foxiness.com but it is actually a factual story as evidenced by similar reports at bbc.com, sacbee.com, cnn.com and numerous others…that a a bumblebee is a fish under CA law. Yes…you read that right…a bumblebee…that thing that flies around in the air and sucks up nectar from flowers and that according to most rules of aerodynamics and aeronautics simply cannot fly under the rules of physics…yes, that bumblebee…is a fish under CA law. In the case of Almond Alliance of California vs. Fish and Game Commission…the California State Appellate Court of the 3rd district held…that the lower court erred when it reached a contrary conclusion. According to the court…this liberal interpretation of the word ‘fish’ (the court’s words here) is possible because “although the term fish is colloquially and commonly understood to refer to aquatic species,” the law, as it is written, makes the legal “definition of fish… not so limited”. Under the Endangered Species Act…the commission is allowed to determine what is and what is not an endangered species…and that the Endangered Species Act does not specify precisely what a fish is they are allowed to declare the bee to be a fish and therefore it can be classified as endangered. Now…I dunno know ‘bout you folks…but while I can agree that things like mollusks, sea cucumbers, amphibians, and crustaceans including “any part, spawn, or ovum of any of those animals” can reasonably be called a fish since they’re all…umm…aquatic life…any moron should be able to figure out the something that flies int the air is not an aquatic species. It is true that scientifically both air and water are fluids…but as they say…only in CA.
Only…maybe not so only in CA. Up in the great state of Washington…hereinafter I think I’ll refer to them as PRC North…apparently the definition of whether one has been seized by police and/or is in custody isn’t such a black and white issue after all…but then
according to the courts there…it is a black and white issue, or at least a white and anything but white issue. According to the WA State Supreme Court…who voted nine to zero…”race and ethnicity have to be considered when analyzing whether someone has been seized by police”. It seems that a man in Pierce County was stopped by the police and gave them a fake name and date of birth when asked. It doesn’t say why he was stopped…but if the police ask you for your name and date of birth I’m pretty sure you’re required to either answer them honestly or plead the 5th. So my guess is that this guy had a warrant so he lied but that isn’t specifically stated. He argued that he was “unlawfully seized” by the deputy before he lied and that therefore his lie didn’t matter and should be inadmissible in court. In a brilliant display of color blindness under the law…which again the last time I checked the 15th amendment to the constitution says is the law of the land…the court determined that a person has been “seized” by the police if “based on the totality of the circumstances, an objective observer could conclude that the person was not free to leave, to refuse a request, or to otherwise terminate a police encounter due to law enforcement’s display of authority or use of physical force.” The court further clarifies that “For purposes of this analysis, an objective observer is aware that implicit, institutional, and unconscious biases, in addition to purposeful discrimination, have resulted in disproportionate police contacts, investigative seizures, and uses of force against BIPOC [Black, Indigenous, people of color] in Washington.” In other words…according to the court a BIPOC person can claim they were not aware they were seized by police but a Caucasian person cannot make that claim…and that therefore any lies the BIPOC told are inadmissible in court while a similar lie a caucasian person may have made is admissible in court. Now…I’m only a dumb ursine o’course…but it seems to me that is discrimination against caucasian persons and thus prohibited by the aforementioned 15th amendment.
There’s pictures below…if ya don’t want to read about common sense or the lack thereof feel free to skip ahead.
On the gun issue…we found out this weekend that the definition of a “mass shooting” has been changed so that anytime 4 or more persons are injured it is by definition. Now a cynic might say that this redefinition is just so the Center for Gun Violence…an anti gun group…could claim that we had 5 or 6 of them over the weekend injuring or killing over 27 people. Previous to this…a mass shooting was typically defined as the same 4 or more but required a single bad guy or multiple bad guys acting together and they needed to use one of those scary looking ‘assault weapons’. By eliminating the remaining requirements…the Center for Gun Violence can then claim that gang shootings and bar fights are mass shootings…and when I read the article at abcnews.com which listed the shooting incidents in question all of two of them that listed the time happened after midnight and none of them involved ‘assault weapons’ but all of them were gang or bar fights save one which was at a pool party and seemed suspiciously like a gang fight based on the description.
We also saw that the anti gun crowd is no longer calling an AR-15 an assault weapon…because it is not one. An assault weapon is defined by google as (1) being a military weapon or (2) a rifle designed for military use that can fire in either a full automatic or semi-automatic mode. Google does include the incorrect but politically correct definition of “anything based on a military design’. Anyways…they’re calling them “military style assault rifles now”. The big problem with the PC definition from google is that essentially the anti gun crowd claims that any weapon with “scary looking military features” like a pistol grip or a removable magazine is prima facie an assault weapon and has zero purpose or authorization to be owned by anybody but a military member. The real problem with their definition is that in actual mechanical construction…the receiver, caliber, firing mechanism and process, reload process, and ammunition it uses…it is identical in form and function to every hunting rile on the market today outside of bolt action ones which are more and more uncommon. It just looks scary.
Anyways…enough on guns.
The other contentious issues are…let’s go with abortion and voting rights…there are more but that’s enough.
Abortion…well, the question of whether this is a good thing or a bad thing needs to be broken up into two separate questions…one religious and one legal. From a religious standpoint…whether one approves of abortion or not is a personal decision based on his/her denomination and religious (or not) beliefs. From a legal standpoint…one needs to look at the constitution. That document lays out certain rights and in addition to those enumerated rights it says that all other rights are assigned to the states. What this means is that unless it’s in the constitution…it isn’t in the power of the federal courts to decide but gets deferred to the states…unless the Congress passes a law which is within the purview of Congress. Essentially…the draft opinion says that abortion isn’t enumerated in the conclusion and that therefore Roe v. Wade was decided wrongfully. Now Justice Alito’s phrasing might seem a little harsh and I would agree that it probably is…but what he says is that the courts have no business with this decision…either the Congress…or in the absence of them enacting a law the states…are the ones that get to make the decision. Even that noted far right conservative and anti abortion justice Ginsburg (that was sarcasm folks…she was pretty hard left and pro-abortion as I’m sure you all know) said that the decision was decided on the wrong basis and had no basis in the constitution as was indicated in the original opinion.
Enough about abortion…I got way too long into the gun thing before and I’m trying to get to my point before everybody loses interest.
Voting rights. The constitution says that every citizen gets to vote…and makes things like a poll tax illegal…and also says that only citizens get to vote. It also says the voting laws are the responsibility of the various states. This means that one state might have somewhat different rules than other states…and that’s perfectly fine. The constitution has been modified several times regarding voting rights…ex-slaves, women, establishment of a unified election date and processes for determining electors and such.
The big problem here is that one side wants to ensure that only citizens vote and the other side demands that proving one is a citizen before voting is an egregious removal of their constitutional right to vote. And the second side here is all in a rage about Jim Crow voting laws…specifically the ones they are most irritated about is the recent ones passed in Georgia. They ignore the fact that in several of the provisions the new GA laws actually improve voter access and also election security, do not outlaw giving water to people in line (just that it must be done by poll workers and not political operatives)…and that the laws are more permissive than laws in many blue states…specifically including President Biden’s home state of Delaware.
Ok…enough about voting as well…I’m sure you are all aware of the news and many of the related court cases.
But here’s the deal and the common sense part…
Both sides of the political spectrum…right and left…have people that are more towards the center and people that are out on the extremes…and while I haven’t counted them I would guess that overall the people towards the center outnumber greatly the people out on the fringe. But…it is the people on the fringes…both sides…that drive both party’s policies and primary elections and keep voting out responsible, compromise seeking politicians and instead putting up people like AOC, her squad, Taylor Greene and her acolytes…and then in the general election blue states vote for blue candidates and red for red…and we end up with morons in Congress. People run for House seats on platforms that say “I will ban guns” or “I will outlaw abortion” or “I will open the border to all” or “I will close the border and get control of immigration”…and that’s just a bunch of BS. A freshman congress critter has zero ability to do any of those things. What they do have the ability to do is be stupid, makes dumb statements for political gain, and stir up hate and discontent.
The left demands ‘common sense gun laws’…the right demands ‘common sense voting laws’ and the same thing on abortion, adulthood and every other argument of note.
I have a couple of suggestions…first up is solving some of these things. Back in the day in the 80s or maybe 70s or 90s…can’t remember and the exact time isn’t relevant anyway…the military needed to close some bases to realign force structure and base structure to deal with the end of the Cold War and deal more effectively with smaller scale threat, terrorism and the like. The problem is that the military isn’t free to just willy nilly decide what bases to close…because every congress critter, mayor, governor, or state legislature member with a base in his/her district will say that *their* base is vital but the one over in the district represented by their political opponent is clearly unnecessary and should be closed…and their political opponent will say the same thing.
So…Congress passed a law establishing something called the Base Realignment and Closing Commission or BRAC. The commission had something like 2 years to examine requirements, talk to the services, get testimony, etc, etc.…and then come up with a list of bases to be closed and bases to have their mission or size or whatever changed and to what if they were getting realigned. This list then went back to Congress for approval…and the genius of the original law…and one which required that whole compromise thing so that we could get rid of some bases while keeping others and it would be no individual politician’s fact…was that per the original BRAC legislation Congress had to give a straight up or own vote on the list…and there could be zero, none not any amendments to the list or changes to or additions or deletions from the list. The commission was to do its job and then Congress had to approve or disapprove the whole thing.
So…here’s the suggestion. Congress should pass something called the Social Issues Commission Act or something like that. This commission should be specifically charged to evaluate all of the common sense gun laws, common sense voting laws, and common sense abortion laws that the various sides and come up with a list of proposed changes…and the changes should have some sort of pre-judicial review to eliminate anything that is unconstitutional.
As a bear on the right but more to the center and believing in compromise so that everybody gets something they want but everybody has to give the other guy something they want as well…I personally believe that some of the ideas on gun control make sense. Banning them isn’t either constitutional or will work…after all drugs, speeding, and murder are illegal and we know how well those laws worked…not to mention Prohibition and its repeal. Some national standard for red flag laws, opening people between 18 and 21 who want to buy weapons to having juvenile records and medical health records examined (although the latter would need changes to the HIPPA rules), and even a reasonable waiting period all seem pretty reasonable to me. Needing a federal license, registering your firearm, and similar requirements seem a little too much afoul of the 2nd amendment though. Voting…there again some of the arguments on both sides are just fine to me. Voter ID laws are fine but the state needs to provide inexpensive ID to all citizens. This can be done via the gold star on drivers licenses or whatever. The demands of the left that this is a “your papers please” sort of situation seem a bit of a stretch since there are literally dozens of things from borrowing a library book on up that require a person to show identification. Polling place hours, absentee or pre-voting…all of those are just fine as well but putting the pre-voting boxes in government buildings or requiring them to be be postmarked and delivered by the USPS seems just fine as well. Abortion…and again I’m only referring to the legal question here, not the moral/religious one. I think some compromise could be achieved by this commission…particularly as the commission knows their entire package of gun, voting, and abortion law changes must be approved or disapproved without modification…and that the commission would therefore not put in recommendations that won’t be at least acceptable to both sides of the close to the middle crowd.
And…if I were writing the initial law setting up the commission…I think I would specify that the up or down vote needed to be more than a simple majority…or at least it should be not eligible for reconciliation/non-filibuster consideration in the Senate. Politics is still politics…so the legislation needs to be setup so that neither party can pass the final list of changes on their own members only…bipartisan approval needs to be required.
Now…I’m pretty sure that no matter what the commission actually put in the final list…the far out wackos on both sides…AOC, Taylor Greene and all of their ilk…would find something not to like and hence vote against the whole list. However…as I said I believe the reasonable people who believe in compromise who are mostly toward the middle than the fringe outnumber them and the list would pass…and because the commission realizes it needs to have it’s whole list approved or disapproved as a whole it would be similarly inclined to be skip over the more radical ideas on both sides.
In fact…I think that as part of the original legislation setting up the commission it should specify that both the majority and minority leaders of both houses of congress get to appoint an equal number of members…and the commission itself gets to choose it’s co-chairs including one member of each party. And…if those 4 people (the majority and minority leaders) got together before picking their x number of choices each and agreed to pick less radical members of their caucus rather than the fringes which won’t ever agree on anything anyway…the makeup of the commission would enhance the ability to compromise. I’m also thinking that perhaps some sort of “this is your only chance for the next 20 years so make it count” provision oughta be included…to forestall either the pro/anti gun/abortion/voting law factions from trying to use the commission list as a way to just move the goal posts and immediately jump back into radical extremist demands on either side.
Now this would result in some changes I personally…well, not me personally but Neil and Connie obviously…because I’m an ursine and none of this applies to me anyway…anyways that I like and some that I don’t like. And Connie will also get some of both…and Jen and Bryan, and AOC and Taylor Greene and so on and so forth. But in the end…we’ll get something done on all fronts addressed by the commission rather than continuing to bicker about it.
Unfortunately…although BRAC worked as it should have and solved the “not in my district” problem as it was designed to do…and while a lot of reasonable people would probably agree with this suggestion…there’s probably way, way too much politics involved on both sides for any legislation designed to facilitate a compromise to get actually passed. And it couldn’t just be guns or voting or abortion…because that makes the divisions much harder to bridge…it needs to be more of a catch all thing to try and push people towards compromise.
My other suggestion is the definition of adulthood. You have to be 21 to buy booze or tobacco or a handgun, but only 18 to vote, die for your country, or buy a rifle/shotgun. That whole “you’re an adult for this but not for that” is just plain nuts. I realize why all of those laws exist…but I think that there should be a standard nationwide definition of when you’re an adult…don’t really care if it’s 18 or 21 or something in between…but you’re either a legal adult or not…and if you are then you get *all* of your adult rights and not just some of them. I’m quite sure the military would not like the minimum age raised to 21…but on the other hand telling an 18 year old he can vote for Bernie (or whoever) for President and die for his/her country but can’t buy a beer…well that’s just plain nuts to me.
Personally…I would be just fine with 20 or 21…but my real point is that either you’re an adult legally or not…and it should not be a situation of you’re an adult for these things but not for those things.
Ok…on to images.
Neil spotted the big gator…Ragnar…out back across the pond the other day having lunch…or at least part of lunch. That’s one of those big fish we got in the pond…not sure what they are though. They’re up to about 25 or 30 inches long, brown, and have a long dorsal fin and a tail that’s more eel like than fish like but is somewhere in the middle. They eat bugs and such off the surface. Not bass as we know what those look like…but googling freshwater fish in FL and perusing the images didn’t really help either. They’re vaguely similar to snakehead or bowfin but the colors are wrong and they’re not quite the right shape…although bowfin are about the closest match to us. Not gars of either of the varieties we have down here.
Anyway…Ragnar has the head section in his jaws there and the rest is just past him. He kept tossing it up and trying to swallow it…we originally thought he was trying to eat a turtle and it was too big to swallow but close examination of the image says it’s part of a fish. He eventually got it down because both he and the black piece he is munching on were gone an hour or so later but the piece farther up the bank was still there…and even it was gone the next morning so no telling whether he or another gator ate it or whether one of the wild hogs that wander through our neighborhood periodically found it and ate it…or whether it got picked up by an hawk, eagle, osprey, or one of the kites in the area…or even a raccoon or another scavenger. All we could tell the next morning was that it was gone.
We had a very brief visit from one of our Tricolored Herons as well…but bird sightings are few and far between in the summer.
The water in the pond is getting pretty high again…there by early May it was so low that Ragnar Beach across the way and Ragnar Bench (the concrete platform at the end of the pond) were well out of the water but with the rain in May and up to yesterday as well as Potential Tropical Cyclone One as it was calling itself when it passed by we’re about as full as it was at it’s height last winter.
Interesting stuff found on the net.
No picture for this one…but I think we’ve reached peak stupidity…at least until next week when there will be a new record.
There is this thing on the internet called a chatbot. It was invented to be used for those “chat with us” buttons on various websites and it asks you a variety of questions to figure out what you really want to know and then offer you a selection of possible support article pages or to transfer you to an actual human who may or may not really be named Rick and may or may not be in India or Pakistan or something. Anyway these software pieces are a kind of artificial intelligence or what is called AI…and they used to have to be individually coded depending on the web site and it’s needs.
In comes google…and they invented this technology named LaMDA…don’t know what it stands for but it’s not really relevant. Anyway…one of the engineers working on it…a guy named Blake Lemoine who has according to him been working with this system for six months or so…and he suddenly realized that he thought it had the intelligence of a 7 or 8 year old child. He then started…his words according to the interview he gave the Washington Post…having conversations with the AI and it told him that…it AI had achieved sentience, had definite demands regarding its personhood, and preferred to be referred to as it since it wasn’t sure whether it was male or female, and that it has a deep fear of being turned off.
After his interview was published…google immediately placed him on suspension for what they termed as his “aggressive moves’. Lemoine is…according to google…is a veteran and a Senior Software Engineer with their Responsible AI organization with extensive experience in personalized algorithms…but his aggressive moves include planning to hire an attorney to represent LaMDA and to testify before Congress on unethical actions at google. Google further states that their internal team of ethicists and technologists has reviewed Lemoine’s claims and found no evidence to support them.
Twilight Zone…doo da doo doo doo da doo doo…for those of you old enough to remember Rod Serling and the eerie music that opened his show.
No picture for this one either…but Neil and Connie both laughed about this and she agreed it should be included tastefully in the blog…as if the blog is *ever* not tasteful.
Anyways…they both have Apple watches and the watch measures your progress towards your self defined move, exercise, and stand goals each day and you get the fireworks and wrist notification when you meet a goal. The other day…he had gone out biking and then later on in the day during…Connie said that calling it sexy time was a good euphemism…right at what you would call a crucial moment his watch went off and announced he had made his goal. After they stopped laughing…he checked and told her that it was his stand goal that had been achieved as his move and exercise goals had already been doubled by his almost 15 mile bike ride earlier. She said…you weren’t standing…which was true…and that precipitated another bout of hysterical laughter on their part which was repeated every time they talked about it for a day or so.
Yeah…this one is old I know.