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Free Speech vs First Amendment Rights

01 Oct
October 1, 2017

This post has its genesis in the recent kerfuffle over football peoples kneeling during the national anthem to protest the perceived epidemic of blacks being killed by police. I’m not going to address the players’ complaints or Trump’s narcissistic need to inject himself into the fray. Discussing this is difficult because it doesn’t just hit hot buttons all over the spectrum – it slams into those hot buttons like a SWAT team doing a drug raid.

TL;DR – Although there are some touches on the First Amendment since the president felt the need to fling himself in with his normal wild abandon or dignity or common sense, the main issues are the people politicization / tribalism of everything and a degrading of free speech in our culture.

I’ve seen too many commentators equate the First Amendment and free speech. Although they’re linked, it’s similar to the link between the Second Amendment and the right to self defense. The Amendments are there to restrain the government from putting laws in place that would prevent people from exercising the underlying rights. Until this last week, this was not a First Amendment issue because the government wasn’t trying to stop the players. Of course, then Trump stormed in – either because he’s unable to have a national story not be about him or because he’s redirecting the media’s almost Pavlovian response to anything he does away from other stories. Before the gentle readers try to remind me that the government is not sending its agents to stop the players, I would like to remind them the incredible reach of the government. This is especially true for the NFL, since they are dependent on their current exemption from anti-trust laws (that’s a whole other rant). When the head of that monstrous apparatus decides to weigh in, there can be a chilling effect. An indirect rather than direct governmental infringement on speech. Overall, as of this writing, the First Amendment application remains the lesser of the issues. This is still more a cultural issue.

There was an old Soviet saying of “Everything within the state, nothing outside the state.” Over the past few decades, this describes the growing divide in America. Except instead of the state, it’s nothing outside the tribe. Yes, I know the dangers of over-generalizing, but it does seem most of the population is being drawn into two tribes whose members share a general worldview and values. Over the last ten years, the tribes are becoming less rivals and more enemies. I’m not the first person to make that observation, and I don’t think we’re on the brink of a second civil war.

One of the fall outs of this hyper-tribalism is a chilling of free speech, particularly in every day interactions. For example, one of the attacks leveled at the players is that it is inappropriate for them to protest at their job. Why?

Is it because our culture has conditioned us that we don’t discuss politics in the workplace so as not to alienate customers or fellow workers? I know that’s one of the reasons I don’t discuss politics with my coworkers. I can easily see how in this day of weaponized speech, a firm would try to protect itself with a blanket culture of no speech on controversial topics.

Unfortunately, I don’t see sanity breaking out among the chattering class that define the cultural battles between the tribes. I can only hope that we do so on the day to day level – and for that I’m optimistic.

Don’t Waive The Jones Act, Repeal It

28 Sep
September 28, 2017

As stated in this Reason article, waiving the Jones Act is good, but it really needs to be repealed.

http://reason.com/blog/2017/09/28/trump-waives-jones-act-for-puerto-rico-f

For those who don’t want to click the link:

“The Jones Act requires any ship traveling from port to port in the United States and its territories be built, owned, and crewed by Americans. Foreign ships can dock once in a U.S. port and cannot bounce from port to port delivering (or picking up) goods.”

The Jones Act (actually the Maritime Marine Act of 1920) drives up the prices of everything coming into places like Puerto Rico, as well as reducing the availability of goods. It’s an obsolete relic of protectionism.

EDIT: Sens. McCain and Lee are proposing a repeal for Puerto Rico. Again, why not scrap the damn thing?

Metal Tuesday- Kiske & Sommerville – Run With A Dream

26 Sep
September 26, 2017

This week’s comes from an album composed as a compliment to the old MMO “City of Heroes.” Man, I miss that game.

Now Where’s My Tar and Feathers

20 Sep
September 20, 2017

You’re a county code enforcement person whose county has just been hit by a hurricane. And not a little Cat 1, but a pretty decent Cat 3. A lot of people in your county are without power and most businesses are closed. What is the best way you can serve those taxpayers who pay for your salary? Well, if you work Miami-Dade, you trundle out in your vehicle and start handing out “warnings” to homeowners.

http://www.wftv.com/news/local/want-solar-panels-you-still-have-to-pay-florida-utilities/276475576

Metal Tuesday- Armor of God – Faith Hope & Love

19 Sep
September 19, 2017

This week’s band is relatively local, hailing from Orlando. I saw them when Hammerfall came to town, and we all know I’m a sucker for female-fronted metal. Here’s a track that I enjoyed.

Convoy!

17 Sep
September 17, 2017

Sunday was consumed with moving my brother out to the other side of the state to start a new job. Due to extenuating circumstances, the plan is for him to stay in a borrowed RV during the week and come back to Tampa on the weekend.

Lessons to take away:

  1. Having a soda erupt in the lap is bad enough. Having to drive around with slightly sticky jeans for eight or nine hours just makes everything worse.

  2. Running GPS while connected to a Bluetooth speaker and a watch takes more power than my iPhone 6 draws from the car outlet.

  3. Revolutions is a great podcast to just leave on for a long drive. And I don’t understand those who talk about the “romanticism” of the French Revolution. That was just a bloody, ball of crazy on all sides.

  4. I really miss my truck when I have to drive someone else’s vehicle for a semi-long trip.

  5. Anytime I think of just buying an RV and living out of an RV to simplify my life, I remember I hate driving vehicles bigger than my Xterra.

  6. It’s a very good thing that Honda Civics get very good gas mileage. Particularly when your brother accidentally leaves his idling the entire time you go out for Chinese buffet. Side note – we found his keys!

  7. Even after all the memes, it’s still kind of amazing how inventively a soldier can crash a humvee with trailer. Even more amusing when it’s the MPs who crashed their humvee.

  8. I’m very glad to be back in my home – even if the cats are already driving me insane.

Long Live the Trackball!

16 Sep
September 16, 2017

And in the seemingly endless list of things to add to my “want” list comes the Logitech MX Ergo.

https://www.theverge.com/circuitbreaker/2017/9/6/16257584/logitech-mx-ergo-trackball-mouse-bluetooth-wireless

I’m a big fan of thumb trackballs. I started with them when I was at college because I fucking hated the trackpad on my laptop, and there was rarely enough space for a regular mouse to move around. My brother suggested trying a trackball, and I never looked back.

Both of my home computers use them. Heck, I have a ten-year-old one at work that I’m hoping will not die on me because getting a new one through our IT would be a pain. Plus there’s the slight humor factor of when my coworkers have to use my computer for some reason.

When my brother and I were setting up my computers after Irma, I’d thought we lost one of the Bluetooth nubs to one of the trackballs. I was busily figuring out how to fit an MX Ergo into my recovery budget before we found the nub still in place on my tower.

Right now, I can’t justify the $100. Maybe when one of my current trackballs die, or if I get a significant bonus from work. Until then, I will just salivate.

What Can I Bring on a Plane, Again?

15 Sep
September 15, 2017

My boss has decided to take another position, and today is her last day. That’s a shame, because I just got her trained on how to deal with me. Oh well, change happens – and more frequently than I’d like.

Her departure means I get to go to a conference in Vegas this spring. That’s a bit too far for me to drive without taking leave, which means I have to fly. That’s something I haven’t done in eight years or so. This will require a close examination of my EDC.

Time to go look up rules again.

Metal Tuesday- Gloryhammer – The Hollywood Hootsman

13 Sep
September 13, 2017

Yes, I know it isn’t Tuesday. Fuck it. My week’s screwed up because of storm. So, I chose something light and funny.

Irma T Plus 4 Hours

11 Sep
September 11, 2017

My brother’s place came through just fine. We didn’t even lose power. My house came through intact. Lost the fences, some branches and a gutter. Power was still going strong.

Now comes the fun of moving back. The cats in particular are going to be fun – especially now that they know what the crates are for. And then there’s setting back up my office.

Overall, my family came off much better than a lot of folks in the state.