MonthAugust 2017

New Report on “Release Time”

From Reason comes news of a new report released by the James Madison Institute and Competitive Enterprise Institute on how much taxpayer money is used by government employees to do union work.

The big news is Miami-Dade spending $9 million in salary for hours its employees were doing union work. Well, maybe. No one knows for sure because Miami-Dade doesn’t ask the union to account for those hours.

Since I live in Tampa, I took a look at this part. Almost $367,000 for FY16. Again, no accountability as to what union members were doing during those “release hours”.

So, my question is why should I be forced to pay through my tax dollars for public employees to work for the union, which definitely doesn’t have my interests as a taxpayer at heart?

Taking The Nephew To Scouts Again

Due to his father’s new job, I have been designated as the new chauffeur for my nephew to his Boy Scouts meeting. I fully intend on using the time waiting for him to either A) get caught up on comics or B) getting some writing done – both of which I can do on my tablet.

The other fun bit is that the boy is now old enough for different audiobooks than those we listened to when he went to Cub Scouts. I’ve already started him on Hardcore History’s “Ghosts of the Ostfront” series.

Why Am I An Optimist?

Because as bad as civil discourse on social media can get, there are people who prove that when the fecal matter impacts the turbine the good get going. Case in point: the Cajun Navy.

These are folks who dropped everything, hitched up their boats, and drove for hours on the chance that they can rescue people in their darkest hour. Not because someone was paying them or they were forced to at gunpoint, but because of an altruistic desire to save lives. One guy in the article reports rescuing forty people. Forty Frickin’ People.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I’m generally optimistic when it comes to people.

Want to Help Harvey’s Victims?

Charity Navigator put up its vetted charities working to help the victims from Hurricane Harvey.

Mine will be going to the American Red Cross, but find one that appeals to you.

Metal Tuesday – Ghost – Square Hammer

Ghost is one of those interesting theatrical groups. They do the satanic metal bit, with the kicker that they’re lead singer is an anti-Pope. The music has a unique sound amongst the metal bands.

Giving the Police Military Hardware

The Trump administration is reversing an Obama administration decision and opening up the spigot for police agencies to receive surplus military equipment. What could go wrong?

Well, let’s look back at SWAT team histories. Originally they were developed for dealing with very specific, low occurrence, high threat situations. In that context, it makes sense to have a group available. Except the only place where SWAT teams are regularly taking down heavily armed bad guys is on television. Instead, SWAT teams are doing drug raids. And it’s not like they’re hitting the Cocaine Cowboys of 1980’s Miami.

Giving military equipment to police encourages those police to find new and inventive ways of using them. Usually in the highly violent world of SWAT.

Derek’s Mildly Useful Reviews – The Hitman’s Bodyguard

I suck at doing reviews. Still, I feel the need to express my opinions about various things. So, for my first mildly useful review, “The Hitman’s Bodyguard”.

TL;DR – Amusing as hell with a decent amount of pleasing action tropes

The Good:

1. Ryan Reynolds

2. Samuel L. Jackson

3. Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson playing off of each other

4. Lots of gunfights, chases, and explosions

5. Selma Hayek

The Bad:

1. Plot barely hangs together

2. Reynolds love story is kinda stupid

3. This is not “John Wick” with better actors

Going To Do My Civic Duty

I got something that I haven’t gotten for about fifteen years – a jury summons. It’s been even longer than that since I sat at the courthouse waiting to be called. That got me to thinking of what has changed in my thinking since the last time I sat in the pool.

1. I started carrying a gun on a regular basis. That alone has radically shifted my worldview, but then I attended trainings and started learning about the legalities of self defense – and the intricacies of the legal system.

2. I don’t have the automatic deference to police that my younger self had. Because of the powers that a police officer are granted, I’m more likely to hold them to a higher standard.

3. I don’t trust forensics as much as I used to. Some forensic tools, such as DNA testing, were developed through rigorous processes, and are generally reliable. Others, such as handwriting and hair analysis, were developed in crime labs, and are less reliable. Then there’s the small item of the numerous lab scandals.

4. I no longer expect the heroic prosecutors and scumbag defense attorneys. If anything, I don’t trust either side. Probably about as much as I trust MSNBC and Fox to present their cases.

And now I have to go through my EDC and start yanking out stuff that is not allowed at the courthouse. That may take a bit.

Derek’s Week In Review

Sunday – I hope the eclipse will be cool.

Monday – Eclipse is fucking cool!

Tuesday – 25 hour road trips aren’t as easy as I remember.

Wednesday – Beefs O Brady’s is hard when you’re on a diet

Thursday – Traffic is a bitch. Work insane. What exactly did I do to incur this karma?

Friday – Even after a two-day work week, I’m still glad for the weekend.

Saturday – Why am I so addicted to ridiculous and sappy shows? I should be doing something more productive. After another episode.

Software For Writing

For my birthday last month, The Brother bought me the Windows version of Scrivener. I’d heard a lot about from the Mac users, so I was willing to give it a shot. I also picked up the iOS version, because I do a lot of my writing on my iPad and iPhone. Here’s what I’m liking so far:

1. The project folders – everything you need for your writing project can be stored in a folder, including text, PDFs, pictures. You can be as extensive or as concise as needed.

2. Syncing – So far, linking Scrivener and Dropbox has allowed seamless syncing across all of my writing platforms. This was an issue when I was using Byword and Editorial, as I would occasionally get conflicting versions from different platforms.

My biggest issue with Scrivener right now is that it does not support markdown. Part of it is that I’ve been writing in markdown for the past few years, so it’s instinctive, but another is that I don’t have to go looking for buttons or highlight text when I want to do bold or italics. Really important when writing on the phone.

Overall, I’d suggest giving it a shot.

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