…ok…it’s easter…or as one of my less-religious friends would put it…happy chocolate day…& I know the whole point for a lot of folks is that someone picked today to rise from the dead…but…some of us might be feeling more like death warmed over…& having second thoughts about the whole business of rising in the first place…particularly…to take a random example that isn’t…if they aren’t as young as they once were but spent the night before the morning after in the company of friends from overseas they haven’t seen since before those friends got hitched…so…before I try to remember how to read & find out when the aspirin might kick in…some words of wisdom from today’s sponsor
…see…if I don’t have any unexplained tattoos…then…was I even really drinking?
…they…I mean they…obviously yours truly wouldn’t go & do a thing like that…I’ve learned my painful lessons about age & hangovers…hell…I first heard that routine when I wasn’t even legally supposed to be doing any drinking…so it stands to reason…& besides…so long as I get 31hrs sleep tomorrow…yeah…go ahead…laugh it up…just…could you do it quietly…at least until the aspirin commence doing the lord’s work?
…awww…c’mon, now…why is it just now dawning on me like “god’s flashlight”…that the lord’s work included something of an abundance of smiting?
…& where the hell was my experimental electric VTOL ride home last night, anyway…one of those suckers would have come in right handy…but no…the walk’ll do me good…famous last words
…something, something…lessons learned…something
On Monday, investigators demanded records related to the deleted texts from the Office of Inspector General Joseph V. Cuffari, an appointee of President Donald Trump whose office shut down an inquiry into the Secret Service messages last year amid the House’s probe of the insurrection.
The records request, which was revealed in a federal lawsuit this week filed by Cuffari and his staff against the panel of inspectors leading the probe, suggests new urgency in a high-profile investigation that began in May 2021 and has since evolved into a wide-ranging inquiry into dozens of allegations of misconduct, including partisan decision-making, investigative failures and retaliation against whistleblowers.
The probe has paralyzed the inspector general’s office, alienated Cuffari from the watchdog community and led to calls for President Biden to fire him. The president has signaled that he intends to stay out of the process until the panel from the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE) completes its work. When a federal watchdog is accused of misconduct and the organization decides that it warrants attention, another inspector general is assigned to investigate, under a system set up by Congress.
Cuffari, his chief of staff, Kristen Fredericks, and his general counsel, James Read, as well as a former government official, Joseph Gangloff — the four who filed the federal lawsuit — declined to comment through a spokesman for the New Civil Liberties Alliance, a group representing them funded by conservative legal scholars that is devoted to fighting the “unconstitutional administrative state within our U.S. government,” according to its website.
The lawsuit, an unusual broadside against the federal watchdog community by one of its own, accuses the panel of exceeding its authority and of “illegal interference” in the operations of one of the government’s largest oversight offices.
“He’s challenged the structure of a body statutorily created by Congress,” said one inspector general, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations. “We’re appalled and exhausted by him.”
After learning that the messages had been erased as part of a migration to new devices, Cuffari waited months to disclose to Congress that his office had discovered the deletions and did not press Homeland Security officials to explain why they did not preserve the records. The Secret Service later provided the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack with thousands of records after reviewing its communications databases from the time of the attack, but nearly all of the records had been shared previously with Cuffari’s office and Congress.
The complaint alleges broadly that investigators from the office of Department of Transportation Inspector General Eric Soskin, which is conducting the probe, have harassed Cuffari and his staff to respond to requests for document and other information.
Cuffari, Fredericks and Read also complain that investigators have refused their demands to have government lawyers represent them, forcing them to pay their own legal bills — a common practice when federal employees come under investigation. The lawsuit claims the Integrity Committee has abused its power and is operating under an “unconstitutional” structure, since its members are not appointed by the president. The plaintiffs seek to prohibit the investigation into Cuffari and find the committee’s existence unlawful.
Gangloff, the fourth plaintiff in the lawsuit, does not work at Homeland Security, but is former chief counsel for the Social Security Administration inspector general, Gail Ennis. Ennis is under multiple investigations following reporting by The Washington Post that revealed how an anti-fraud program imposed massive penalties on disabled and elderly people. One probe is being led by the CIGIE panel.
The lawsuit says that Gangloff, who was in charge of the program, was notified last year that he is under investigation. He alleges that he has not been afforded a venue to respond or hear details. He disputes the Integrity Committee’s right to investigate him since he has left government service.
The lawsuit is not Cuffari’s first attempt to push back against the investigation. He and his staff have for months refused to release documents and tried to block interviews, effectively delaying the probe, as The Post has reported.https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/04/06/homeland-security-watchdog-secret-service-texts/
…I know I might not be what you might call at the top of my game this morning…but…I’m not sure we’ve been taking the right lessons from some of this stuff…not everything is universally applicable…& least said, soonest mended seems like a poor excuse when it comes to the actions of the secret service on the day of an assault upon the institutions of the state during what’s supposed to be a peaceful transition of power…but what do I know…there was a time when I thought “good enough for government work” meant “to an unusually exacting standard”…so there’s every possibility I’m a fucking idiot?
IRS and Treasury Department officials said Thursday that they will use $80 billion in new funding for the tax service to claw back unpaid balances from high-income earners and complex businesses — restoring audits on those taxpayers to higher rates from more than a decade ago — and boost customer service resources for middle- and low-income tax filers.
The agency plans to digitize its tax-processing pipeline and begin developing government-backed online tax-filing software with money from the Inflation Reduction Act, one of President Biden’s chief legislative victories, officials announced in a 149-page report.
Retooling the IRS, which languished for more than a decade with budget and staffing shortages, was a key provision in the legislation to pay for spending on climate change and health care.https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2023/04/06/biden-irs-tax-audit-wealthy/
“The tax system is not fair. It is not fair,” Biden said during his State of the Union address. “No billionaire should be paying a lower tax rate than a schoolteacher or a firefighter. I mean it.”
…do ya, joe? …’cause like the man said…”& some of us like to add…& this time…I mean it”
(…not to mention whole armies of lawyers & accountants if you get to try out the version where there’s more of the stuff than you can spend…even after paying that little lot)
Social Security isn’t projected to be bankrupt, as you may falsely believe. But the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund (OASI), which pays retirement and survivor benefits, will be unable to issue full benefits starting in 2033, according to the latest trustee reports for the Social Security and Medicare trust funds.
If no actions are taken by Congress, yes, Social Security and Medicare face a significant funding shortfall.
Each year, the trustees of the Social Security and Medicare trust funds issue reports on the current and projected financial status of the two programs. The 2023 reviews repeated a concern from previous years: There is more money going out than coming in.https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2023/04/07/social-security-shortfall-impact/
…plus ça change, amirite? …who am I kidding…I’m gonna need more coffee…& very probably longer than I’ve got
A year ago, Amazon workers in Staten Island, New York won a “historic” victory – overcoming a multimillion-dollar campaign by the multibillion-dollar corporation to win the right to organize Amazon’s first-ever union.
A year on from that victory – which labor leaders had hoped would trigger a wave of union victories – is looking less momentous and another union election win at Amazon has remained elusive.
The company has continued to aggressively oppose unionization and organizing efforts at its warehouses. Critics charge US laws and issues at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the federal agency charged with enforcing US labor law, have stymied progress for the new labor movement.
The company spent over $14.2m on anti-union consultants in 2022.
“It’s a very stark demonstration of all the flaws in the National Labor Relations Board process and how the current law really plays into the hands of the anti-union employers,” said Rebecca Givan, a professor of labor studies and employment relations at Rutgers University, on the long delays in resolving NLRB charges and getting Amazon to the bargaining table since the union election win.
“It demonstrates the objectives of the National Labor Relations Act are so far from being fulfilled, and to really rebound, labor law reform is needed,” Givan added. “The fact employers can spend an unlimited amount to fight organizing and hide a great deal of that spending, the fact that workers who are organizing have no right to equal time, and the fact that employers can use every trick imaginable to delay, delay, delay and try to win a war of attrition. It demonstrates all of the holes in current labor law.”https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2023/apr/08/long-fight-organize-us-workers-amazon
…good job these politicians have such a firm grasp of how the financials operate
As the Federal Reserve looks to modernize banking, two potential 2024 presidential candidates have accused the central bank of seeking to use a proposed digital dollar to “control” Americans’ finances, although Fed officials have committed to no such plans.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis alleged last weekend that a Fed-made digital U.S. dollar would let the government block transactions like buying a rifle or filling up with “too much gas.”
He added, speaking at a Pennsylvania conference on Saturday, “They are going to try to impose an ESG agenda,” referring to private sector policies aimed at advancing environmental, social and governance principles, which conservative lawmakers across the country have been pushing to curb.
“It is ceding the power of our financial freedom to a central bank which does not have our interests at heart,” DeSantis said.
…for fuck’s sake…at this rate I’m gonna wind up wearing out that whole not-how-any-of-this-works .gif before anybody even knows what the choices are for president in ’25…let alone by the time any of the suckers who’d vote for that asshole figure out what ESG actually stands for
The Fed is readying its “FedNow” initiative, which aims to shorten the time it takes for banks to send funds to other banks, for a planned July rollout. Separately, it has also been exploring the possibility of issuing a digital version of the dollar that households could readily use instead of cash. The central bank-issued currency would be used in digital wallets offered by the private sector, including by consumer lenders.
The Fed is exploring the idea to keep up with countries that have moved to implement their own digital currencies, such as China. But officials have made clear that they are not committed to following through on issuing one. And Fed Chair Jerome Powell has said that the central bank wouldn’t issue any consumer-facing digital dollar without authorization from Congress.
“We haven’t decided that this is something that the financial system in the country would want or need, so that’s going to be very important,” Powell told Congress on March 8.
Last year, the Fed issued a white paper analyzing the potential pros and cons of issuing a digital dollar. The paper makes no mention of any intention to throttle transactions.DeSantis and RFK Jr. misconstrue Fed’s digital plans in warning of government overreach [NBC]
…but, hey…if your audience doesn’t know that…what they don’t know won’t hurt them…right?
Officials who have used Spillman Technologies’ software in California, Colorado and Texas allege it has crashed in the midst of 911 calls, forcing dispatchers to frantically take notes by hand while emergencies were unfolding. They say it has failed to provide the fastest routes for traveling to the scenes of emergencies, costing precious time for first responders and those they’re trying to help. And they say it has lost police reports about alleged crimes, sometimes as officers were in the midst of writing them.
Spillman Technologies, which was acquired by Motorola Solutions in 2016, provides dispatch and records management software systems to more than 1,000 agencies nationwide, according to a 2016 press release from Motorola. Officials say that while those services are crucial for law enforcement agencies, the software has failed to deliver them as promised.
Spillman has a track record of failing to properly maintain multiple types of records for the Redding police, including crime data, Schueller alleged. As a result, the crime statistics available on their website from 2019 to 2021 are “a rough estimate,” he said.
“We didn’t do it for 2022 because it’s too screwed up,” he added.https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/policing-software-blamed-least-3-states-errors-losing-criminal-case-cr-rcna78331
…depends who “they” are, I guess
Officers with the Farmington police department of north-western New Mexico shot and killed a homeowner when they showed up at the wrong address in response to a domestic violence call this week, according to state authorities.
The officers were not immediately identified, and it wasn’t clear what administrative action could be taken.
Video footage from officers’ body-worn cameras was reviewed by state police and showed the homeowner opening the screen door armed with a handgun. That’s when officers retreated and fired. Not knowing who was outside, the man’s wife returned fire from the doorway, and officers fired again.
State police said the woman had put down her gun after realizing the individuals outside her home were police officers.
Farmington’s police chief, Steve Hebbe, said in a social media post that it had been a chaotic scene and that more information would be released in the coming week. He called it a dark day for the police force and for the family of the slain homeowner, who was identified as Robert Dotson.
…a dark day? …motherfucker I know it comes with some dark thoughts…but where’s god’s goddamned flashlight when you need it…if protect & serve is still on any official paperwork I’m pretty sure there’s a hell of a class action suit for breach of terms if anyone can lay a hand on that social contract I remember hearing a lot about when I was growing up
When asked about the initial report of domestic violence that came from a home across the street, a Farmington police spokesperson, Shanice Gonzales, said no action had been taken against any of the parties in that case and that no one had been armed at that address.https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/apr/08/new-mexico-police-shooting-farmington
…not for nothing…which in the face of qualified immunity it frankly sickens me to conclude it almost certainly is…but…if I get all tooled up & then rock up to the wrong house & shoot a complete stranger to death because he’d followed advice about home security & figured bringing a gun along was the right way to answer the door to unexpected visitors he had to get out of bed to investigate…the fact that I was only maybe going to shoot the guy whose house I meant to go to ain’t gonna buy me jack shit when it comes to leniency in the murder trial my ass is going to get fast-tracked through…still…I guess I could take comfort in the fact that since ’09 the state of new mexico has formally renounced capital punishment…presumably on the grounds that relying on the mechanisms of the state to provide justice with an option on it costing the life of a potentially innocent party would be…I dunno…not fucking how any of this is supposed to fucking work…if some poor carpenter from nazareth really did die for our collective sins…& come back again…I can see the part where year after year we repeat some rituals to acknowledge what an all-time high for selfless acts that kind of thing might be…but do we really have to keep repeating the same damn sins? …what’s up with that? …did I miss some hidden scripture that says heaven turned out to bankrupt its pension system because nobody factored in how they’d have to keep paying out forever to an ever increasing multitude of souls…& as the sole example of re-incarnation to be afforded that metaphysical loophole the son of god is the only one who can hold down a steady gig…so keep sinning or the only paycheck underwriting the life everlasting might go up in a puff of fire & brimstone? …& don’t get me started on “suffer the children”
In the debate over free speech and social justice, commentators on the right and the “heterodox” left often claim that college students are all either stridently liberal or cowed into silence by those who are.
As someone who has spent two decades teaching at colleges large and small, public and private, I don’t recognize this description — and it’s not because I think that it’s conservative students who are dominating the discourse.
In my experience, college students are all too reluctant to express strong opinions about the world at large. I wish my students were so eager to voice their ideas in class. Ideally, they would address the topic of the course, but I’d take what I could get — the news perhaps, social media more likely, the weather if it came down to it. If they’re talking, then maybe I can steer the conversation toward what they need to learn.
But I’ve found one place where students’ ideas emerge into splendid view: the opinion pages of student newspapers. I recently immersed myself in student papers from across Texas, where I live and teach. It certainly wasn’t a scientific sample, but it gave me new insight into an otherwise reticent population.
In those pages, students test out arguments and exercise their thinking and writing skills in the service of an immediate social purpose. Seemingly unprompted, they have something to say. It’s true that these opinion pages feature some debate about mainstream politics and that voices on the left are more prominent than those on the right. But more frequent (and, to me, much more interesting) are the essays about issues that affect students day to day — homework during the first week of class, campus grocery delivery, long-distance relationships.
Reading these essays is a deeply reassuring exercise. I see hope for the future of civic life in these students who are brave (or perhaps naïve) enough to examine an issue in their community and make their best case about it in writing. They know what matters to their readers and draw on shared vocabulary and experience. At their best, these essays exhibit all that opinion writing ought to be.
Social justice issues do arise; The North Texas Daily’s opinion page is heavily progressive and concerned with national and even international issues.
But often student opinions are endearingly local, and as a result, they do not easily fit into a left-right dichotomy. There is no liberal orthodoxy on improving the graduation rate at Texas State University or movement-conservative stance on whether to feed the University of Houston’s ubiquitous squirrels.
…sorry…where was I?
Polls show that traditional-age college students tend to be politically liberal on national issues. But even a conservative former Battalion columnist, Garion Frankel, pushed back against outside claims about the political discourse at A&M. “As someone who has been an Aggie for five years now and has never felt threatened, pushed out or hampered by the alleged ‘wokeness’ of my alma mater,” he wrote, “I think it’s worth defending A&M on this front.” And many universities across the country, including U.T.-Austin, have conservative student papers, often funded by outside donors.
The biggest threats to opinion writing on campus appear to be not ideological but economic and administrative, with some university leaders attempting to exercise greater control. Many student newspapers in Texas have cut production or gone dormant in recent years, mirroring trends in the professional media. Several mainstream student papers also now rely on donations to maintain their independence.
The college opinion landscape is more varied than critics would have you believe simply because student writers are engaged with the world as they know it. In many cases, they are trying to persuade an audience of their peers to take actions that matter in the specific context of their community: Resist the social pressure to get engaged before graduating, quit using the anonymous social media app Fizz, stop packing up before class ends.
Or they are thinking through questions that arise during the transition to adulthood. The Texas A&M Battalion columnist Ana Sofia Sloane wrote in November about her ambivalent feelings about turning 20. “It feels like I’m standing at the edge of a precipice,” she wrote. “In front of me lies a chasm of uncertainty, responsibility and expectation. Taking the inevitable step forward is difficult.”https://www.nytimes.com/2023/04/07/opinion/heres-where-college-students-reveal-what-they-truly-care-about.html
…who says you can’t re-invent the damn wheel, anyway?
Compelling evidence supports the claims of two New Orleans high school seniors who say they have found a new way to prove Pythagoras’s theorem by using trigonometry, a respected mathematics professor said, even if the students’ “really important and fantastic” achievement is not the first time trigonometry has been used to prove the theory, as their school apparently touted.
Álvaro Lozano-Robledo, of the University of Connecticut, spoke this week in a series of TikTok videos, addressing international reports about Calcea Rujean Johnson and Ne’Kiya Jackson.https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/apr/07/new-orleans-teens-pythagorean-theory
…& it doesn’t take the voice of experience to tell you not to believe everything you read
They called the television quizshow Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader for a reason, and a Virginia elementary school student has just reportedly reminded everyone of that after getting a publisher to acknowledge a mistake in his class’s science textbook.
Liam Squires, a fifth-grader at HM Pearson elementary school in a county less than 50 miles west of Washington DC, recently earned a write-up on the local Fauquier Times news website after noticing that his school’s Exploring Science All Around Us textbook had switched up the labels on pictures of an igneous rock and a sedimentary rock.https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/apr/04/virginia-student-science-textbook-correction-rocks
…it’s an important distinction, too…if…say…one were feeling, say…darkly facetious…maybe you’d find yourself wondering if possibly igneous stuff made for better building blocks if you’re trying to build a sturdy edifice…& that as political edifices go…the current crop has an overabundance of sedimentary material that’s fucking up the foundations of the thing…&…well…maybe guy fawkes was thinking his method might effect the sort of transfiguration that put him on the side of the angels…but clearly that’s crazy talk
…clearly the angels tried to unionize & their continuing & conspicuous absence from the mundane scene all these years is because they’re still finding it sucks to be negotiating with an omniscient & omnipotent being…particularly one with a penchant for ineffable ways
God does not play dice with the universe: He plays an ineffable game of His own devising, which might be compared, from the perspective of any of the other players [i.e. everybody], to being involved in an obscure and complex variant of poker in a pitch-dark room, with blank cards, for infinite stakes, with a Dealer who won’t tell you the rules, and who *smiles all the time*.[terry pratchett & neil gaiman – good omens]
…you do the math
“Moby-Dick” was, for me, one of those books that languished in the guilt-inducing category of “things you should have read a long time ago,” and I just never got around to it. Plus, I am a mathematician. And despite my interest in literature, my intellectual priorities did not include 400-page novels about whales — or so I thought.
That all changed one day when I overheard a mathematician friend mention that “Moby-Dick” contains a reference to cycloids.
Cycloids are among the most beautiful mathematical curves in existence — the French mathematician Blaise Pascal found them so distractingly fascinating that he claimed merely thinking about them could relieve the pain of a bad toothache — but applications to whaling are not usually listed on their résumé.
Intrigued, I finally read “Moby-Dick,” and was delighted to find that it abounds with mathematical metaphors. I realized further it’s not just Herman Melville; Leo Tolstoy writes about calculus, James Joyce about geometry. Fractal structure underlies Michael Crichton’s “Jurassic Park” and algebraic principles govern various forms of poetry. We mathematicians even appear in work by authors as disparate as Arthur Conan Doyle and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
There have been occasional academic studies on mathematical aspects of specific genres and authors. But the more holistic connections between mathematics and literature have not received the attention they deserve.https://www.nytimes.com/2023/04/07/opinion/the-wondrous-connections-between-mathematics-and-literature.html
…if you like that sort of thing…I recommend gödel, escher, bach, as it happens…but…if you’re feeling about like I am today…it’s possible that “the man who was thursday” (“a nightmare”) might be more your speed…or even “thursday next“…I certainly feel like I could maybe sleep ’til then, anyway…but for some reason the phrase “see you next tuesday” has been floating through the pounding in my head since shortly after I cast an eye at the headlines this morning…so…fuck it…maybe I ought to dust off a copy of withnail & I…& see about making some time
…where’s the whisky…I’ve got a bastard behind the eyes
…I should probably leave you all to your own devices
…if the miracle of the aspirin does come through for me, though…I might manage to drag myself back here with some tunes?