gridlore: Gold football helmet with red 49ers logo (Football - 49ers helmet)
Well, it was made official today. The Oakland/Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders are packing their bags and moving to Las Vegas. Eventually. Currently is for the Raiders to play the next two seasons at the O.Co (dumbest naming rights deal ever) Mausoleum before moving to their new digs in Sin City.

Isn't that going to be awkward? Anyone who has ever watched a Raiders' home game realizes that the Oakland fans are . . . special. Fanatical. OK, they're bloody lunatics. Elaborate costumes ranging from barbarians to Darth Raider that would turn heads at ComicCon, all in the iconic black and silver, and concentrated in the Black Hole, the seats at the south end of the field. You don't get that anywhere else.

It seems that the Raiders are the league's last old school football team. They've never been pretty. Raider uniforms attract mud, grass, and blood in great quantities. Their heroes have nicknames like "Snake" and "Assassin." Going to a Raiders game is to take your life in your hands. Even outside the Black Hole the fans tend to be raging, drunk, and more interested in fights than watching the game.

Sadly, this seems to be increasingly common at NFL games. Time to end tailgating and deny access to drunk fans.

But as crazy as that fan base is, they are devoted to the Raiders and to Raider Nation. They endured a 12 year shunning when the team moved to Los Angeles and welcomed them back with open arms. The venerated an owner who treated his fans as commodities, not part of the larger zeitgeist that made the Raiders so great, even in the long run of losing seasons that followed their humiliating loss in 2002's Super Bowl XVIII.

So a lot of people are asking why move the team? Why abandon this cultural phenomenon that has been roaring along since 1960? I've seen many, many fans declare that they are done. I'm seriously wondering how many people will both to go to games in the next two seasons as the new stadium is constructed in the desert?

The answer to my question is money. Unlike most NFL owners, the Davis family does not have extensive sources of income outside the team. Al Davis, who has a memorial eternal flame at the Coliseum, spent his life focused on the Raiders. He never built a large outside fortune. His son, Mark Davis, who inherited the team on his father's passing, wants to cash in. Las Vegas offered a big package.

Goodbye Raiders.

But like I said, they team has at least two seasons before they have anyplace in their new home to play. The stadium at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas is completely inadequate when it comes to the demands of hosting a professional football game. It has been suggested that if the City of Oakland and Alameda County refuse to provide vital services for home games, the Raiders might play in Los Angeles, San Diego (which just lost the Chargers to Los Angeles) or at Levi's Stadium here in Santa Clara.

Ha. We'd demand a huge rent for that. Levi's is a shrine to the Forty-Niners. The Raiders would be playing in a red and gold temple to names like Montana and Rice. It would be awkward as hell for everyone involved. I've even seen Stanford of UC Berkeley mentioned as possible temporary shelters for the homeless wandering players.

Here's the nightmare scenario for everyone. Last season, the Raiders made the playoffs for the first time in fifteen years. What happens if they win big next year and go to the Super Bowl? How does that work in the face of a probable fan boycott? If the team plays the year in San Diego, and wins the Super Bowl, where do you hold the frigging parade? Do you dare hold it downtown Oakland, a city known for violent protests? San Diego, which won't really give a damn? The NFL must be cringing at the possibility.

But that's sports. My beloved Giants spent nearly a century in New York before moving west, and there aren't many lakes in Los Angeles to name the Lakers after. It is, at its heart, a business. And as majority owner, Mark Davis has every right to make the moves he feels best for the team. The only major sport franchise where this couldn't happen is with the Green Bay Packers, who are owned by the people of Green Bay, Wisconsin. I'd love to see that model expanded.

As a closing note, the vote of NFL team owners to allow the move was 31-1. The owner of the Miami Dolphins was the sole vote against. I guess he didn't want to give up the title of Tackiest NFL City.

gridlore: Army Infantry school shield over crossed infantry rifles (Army Infantry)
This my last comment on the shootings at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando. As we all know, a gunman with a entire menu of issues, who claimed allegiance to three terrorist groups who hate each other, entered the club and shot over 100 people, killing 49 and wounding 53 others. He uses a SIG Sauer MCX semi-automatic rifle and a 9mm Glock 17 handgun in the attack. After a stand off lasting several hours, the gunman was killed by SWAT officers.

Much of the debate centers around the weapons used. The MCX was designed for sale to governments for military use. Read the site linked. It's designed for rapid fire even in semi-automatic mode, and built to be quieter than most non-suppressed weapons. A boon for special forces, perhaps, but for civilians?

Rather than repeat the arguments, I'm just going to point out another shooting incident that was remarkably similar in terms of the situation but had a very different outcome.

On December 8th, 2004, Damageplan was playing the Alrosa Villa in Columbus, Ohio. The place was packed because the band was the post-Pantera project of drummer Vinnie Paul and Darryl "Dimebag" Abbott, legendary guitarist. The two brothers were thrilled to be back on the road and playing to 700 fans. Shortly after the band's set started, a 25-year-old former Marine named Nathan Gale walked onto the stage and started shooting. Dimebag was the first to fall. A massacre was underway.

That night there were four deaths, and seven wounded. Out of over 700 fans, band personnel and club staff. Why so low? Because Gale was using a 9mm Beretta 92FS pistol with a 15 round magazine. The police were able to approach and kill Gale while he was reloading.

The only difference here was the weapons used.
gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (US Flag)
Associate Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has died at 79. Normally, when someone of note or importance dies, I'm able to muster a few kind words. It rarely does good to speak ill of the dead. If nothing else, I can express my sympathy for the friends and family.

Not so in this case. When it comes to Mr. Scalia, the Grateful Dead best expressed my opinion: "There may come a day I will dance on your grave/If unable to dance I'll crawl 'cross it." I loathed this man. His questionable ethics, his crudeness, and his unending desire to roll back a half century of social progress because he was afraid of change.

Have no doubt, Justice Scalia was the enemy of all but the financial elite and the far-right conservative religious in this nation. Read his opinions. He was an Originalist when it suited him, and staunchly opposed to extending Constitutional rights to any segment of the public he found suspect. His dissent in Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003) is a masterpiece of his paleoconservative disconnect. He freely admits that laws restricting personal rights can't pass constitutional muster, but argues that they should be left in place anyway. His dissent in Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. ___ (2015) shows his unethical and frankly, bullying nature.

A horrible justice gone from the bench, and an unethical man gone from our planet. I shall not shed a tear for him.
gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Penguin - Exploding)
Over the last couple of weeks I have become increasingly frustrated with how modern news outlets operate. The fact that it's about viewer numbers and not actually reporting the news in most cases is a fact, but it has become pathetic.

For the record, I am down to watching The Rachael Maddow Show on MSNBC, and I don't even do that every night. I get my news from KCBS radio (740AM) and online from diverse sources like Reuters, Al Jazera, the BBC, and whatever domestic sources I can find for a story. I find network news unwatchable for the utterly shallow coverage. Even the weekend talking head shows have become less "Face The Nation" and more "give your prepared speech." Guest are selected based on the numbers they'll bring in.

What really pissed me off was the coverage of the death of Freddie Grey while in the custody of the Baltimore Police Department and the resultant civil unrest. This was an important story, to be sure. It highlighted the institutional racism this country still faces, the over-militarization and excessive force employed by the police, and the problems of endemic poverty in creating a permanent underclass. This was a story that deserved close examination.

What we got was eight hours a day of talking heads moving from network to network, rash speculation, reporting of rumors as fact, and on-site reporters outnumbering protesters in some cases. There were days when there was nothing meaningful to report, yet the news outlets stayed on the story while ignoring other important stories. For example, did you know that last week the Supreme Court issued a ruling that shocked court watchers and may have paved the way for a challenge to Citizens United? I know because I follow a couple of legal blogs. But it got almost zero airtime because we had to interview a member of the Crips live on air.

I wish I was kidding.

The problem is that directors are terrified that if they cover something else the junkies who want that story only will change channels. Which is a terrible way to get real news out.

My other moment of frustration came Saturday. Saturday, something amazing happened in the world of sports. Two baseball games ended when a baserunner was hit by a batted ball. That's called Runner Interference in the rules, and the runner is out. (The batter gets credit for a single.) Never before in the history of Major League Baseball had two games ended on this call on the same day. Think about it; the Major Leagues ave been around (officially) for 112 years. Each season each team plays well over 100 games. And never before did this improbably thing happen.

So I tuned into ESPN to see some highlights and discussion. However, every other sporting event in the world was being ignored for an over-hyped welterweight boxing match that was universally described as terrible. ESPN spent three hours covering a fight where very little happened, cutting to interviews with everyone involved, analyzing each punch. . . it wasn't a good fight!

But it was a much-hyped fight. This was supposed to be the fight of the century. So ESPN ignored reality and ignored everything else.

There's a reason I don't watch much TV beyond a few favorites.
gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Me - Thoughtful)
In the comments on an article about the death of Gregory Powell, one of the infamous Onion Field killers. One commenter wondered if the cost of the long incarceration of Powell would change the mind of anti-death penalty folks like me. Here's my response:

Sorry, but no.

The simple fact of the matter is that the police make mistakes or act in illegal ways to close a case. Not always, not even often, but it happens. Same goes for prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges.. the entire criminal justice system is capable of error.

So what do you do if evidence is found that someone was wrongly convicted? A judge can void the conviction and call for a new trial. In extreme cases the judge can declare the entire case irreversibly tainted and order the convict freed immediately. States have funds to compensate those imprisoned wrongly for their loss of freedom.

How do you compensate a dead man? Isn't the premeditated intentional killing of an innocent man the very definition of murder? Should we execute those responsible for the wrong verdict?

People are freed every month after their convictions are overturned. Your lust for blood and vengeance isn't justice, it's the howling of a lynch mob.

If you really cared about lowering prison costs you'd be advocating for an end to the war on some drugs, working to end the poverty and hopelessness that leads to a life of crime, and demanding alternative sentences for non-violent offenders.
gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Me - Thoughtful)

With absolutely no attempt at hyperbole at all, it is fair to say that this is one of - if not the - biggest achievement of the human race.

For, as we speak, an object conceived in the human mind, and built by our tools, and launched from our planet, is sailing out of the further depths of our solar system - and will be the first object made by man to sail out into interstellar space.

The Voyager 1, built by Nasa and launched in 1977 has spent the last 35 years steadily increasing its distance from Earth, and is now now 17,970,000,000km - or 11,100,000,000miles - away, travelling at 10km a second.

Indications over the last week implies that Voyager 1 is now leaving the heliosphere - the last vestige of this solar system.

gridlore: Army Infantry school shield over crossed infantry rifles (Army Infantry)
I haven't seen it and have no desire to do so. But if this was a five-man sniper team from the 3/2 Marines as has been reported, each and every one of these Marines needs to be charged and, once convicted, thrown out of the service with a Dishonorable Discharge.

This is a hard concept for a lot of civilians to get. "Wait, blowing someone up with a cluster bomb is fine, but peeing on a corpse is wrong?" Yes. American soldiers will strive to kill the enemy with all the tools at our disposal. That is our job. We, from a grunt Marine Rifleman to an Air Force Missileman in a silo, are there to Kill People and Break Things. This is what we do. We are very good at it. But we are also trained in the tradition of mercy to the enemy wounded, fallen, and to those who have become our prisoners.

Respecting your enemy is perhaps the hardest thing a soldier is asked to do. The enemy is trying to kill you. Odds are, the enemy comes from an alien culture which may be offensive to the average American. At worst, the enemy may be seen as a cheater who refuses to stand up and fight. When you actually get your hands on the enemy, alive or dead, the urge to take out your anger or frustration is near-overwhelming.

But we have to resist that urge. Because we are supposed to be better than that. The difference between a mob and an Army is discipline. We treat enemy wounded. We protected captured enemy troops and treat them humanely. And we treat enemy dead as we would one of our own fallen. With respect. To see that respect fail so spectacularly among an elite group like a USMC sniper team is sickening. For all the legends that surround snipers as merciless death-dealers, we're still humans. We are just held to a higher standard since we are expected to operate outside the normal chain of command much of the time.

Some will blame the high operational tempo, the endless and repeated tours. Bullshit. Every single service member serving today, a decade after we entered Afghanistan, knows what they were getting into. Stress is not an excuse. There is no excuse possible for the complete breakdown of discipline to the point where United States Marines would desecrate an enemy's corpse. None. These five Marines need to be loudly and publicly thrown to the wolves pour encourager les autres. If we're really cutting back on the military and making training harder, I suggest tightening the screws on discipline as well.

In my perfect word, once convicted, these five losers would be paraded in dress blues before as many of the 2nd Marines as can be gathered. On a stage, every piece of rank, insignia, awards... anything that makes the uniform a Marine uniform, is ripped off. The discharges are read aloud. Then the entire regiment turns their backs on the malefactors. I'd also deny any government benefits to those dishonorably discharged. That includes unemployment, Medicare, and Social Security.

Yes, I'm furious about this. These morons just handed the enemy a propaganda coup.
gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Army - Infantry)
The troops are not in Fort Bragg, NC. They are at Fort Bragg. This is a minor nit, but it bugs me. Mainly because it's far more common to refer to yourself being in a unit which is at a particular base. ("I was in the 1/15th at Schofield Barracks." for example.)
gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Me - CAR -15)
PayPal is evil. Stop doing business with them immediately.

Once you've stopped screaming and throwing things, let them know how you feel.
gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Default)
Originally posted by [ profile] write_light at BAD Internet Laws Heading Your Way

From the flist: 

Spread the word, even you're not a US citizen, it is important for everyone!! It easy to do and it can change everything. More info by clicking on the banner.

Website Blocking

The government can order service providers to block websites for infringing links posted by any users.

Risk of Jail for Ordinary Users

It becomes a felony with a potential 5 year sentence to stream a copyrighted work that would cost more than $2,500 to license, even if you are a totally noncommercial user, e.g. singing a pop song on Facebook.

Chaos for the Internet

Thousands of sites that are legal under the DMCA would face new legal threats. People trying to keep the internet more secure wouldn't be able to rely on the integrity of the DNS system.

Read this analysis from

Get on the phone and call your representative. Express your disapproval. Tell him or her exactly how you feel, and that you don't support this. Tell your friends to call their representatives, their Congressperson, and complain. Mention that you are a registered voter that takes your civic responsibility seriously and that you will use that vote to express your feelings about this.

“We support the bill’s stated goals — providing additional enforcement tools to combat foreign ‘rogue’ websites that are dedicated to copyright infringement or counterfeiting,” the Internet companies wrote in Tuesday’s letter. “Unfortunately, the bills as drafted would expose law-abiding U.S. Internet and technology companies to new uncertain liabilities, private rights of action and technology mandates that would require monitoring of websites.”  The chamber-led coalition in support of the bill includes Walmart, Eli Lilly & Co. and Netflix.

Google and other opponents of the legislation argue that restricting the Internet in the U.S. sets a bad international precedent and that the language defines infringing too broadly.

gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Gadsen)
Small Local Banks

If you really want to put the fear of Midas into the "too big to fail" financial institutions, start moving money to small local banks and credit unions. Start paying cash, and writing checks. They depend on their millions of customers to support their bloated infrastructures and billions in bonuses. So leave. Do the research. Find a good, solid, local institution and take you business there. The best part is a local bank has local concerns. You money will be used for loans in your community, not to finance some swamp reclamation project in Burma. To really twist the knife, stop using credit cards. Pay off you balances and close accounts. Keep one or two for emergencies, but shut off that flow of revenue.

It's our money, it's our nation, and it is time to tell the 1% that in the only language they understand.
gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Gordon is not impressed)

Gordon Ramsay dwarf porn lookalike eaten by badgers

gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Army - Infantry)
Texas lawmakers fighting to insert Christian language in funerals for non-Christian soldiers

Shouldn't veterans and their families have the right to decide whether religion -- and what kind -- is welcome at their own funerals? The Department of Veterans Affairs says yes. But three Texas Congressman and Christian military organizations want to strip away this basic right. Instead, they want to be allowed to impose unwanted Christian ceremonies on the military funerals of everybody who has served the red, white, and blue.

OK, I am livid over this. I am a veteran. I am an atheist. My disposal plan is cremation and scattering at sea, but if I did want a military service, I would not want an unwanted religious element intruding. Read Invictus instead. The crazy thing that the Christian services these morons want would horrify my family members who are Christians, as they run the gamut from Catholic to semi-agnostic deists. Then there's my mother-in-law's Judaism...

This is just another example of how the far right in America doesn't give a damn about Constitutional freedoms. Freedom of religion? Only if you're the right Christian sect.

Makes me sick.
gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Default)
Rare Manuscript: Butch Cassidy Survived Bolivian Shootout! - Entertainment - The Atlantic Wire

With Hollywood as a guide, you know that legendary outlaw Butch Cassidy died in a blaze of gunfire in 1908 after being chased down in Bolivia and surrounded by cavalry. That established history is being challenged by a rare book collector and author, Brent Ashworth and Larry Pointer, who are enthusiastic about the idea that Cassidy shook free of his pursuers, hightailed it to Europe to get plastic surgery, and then retired to Washington state to pen his memoirs under a pseudonym. And the Associated Press, who reported the imaginative theory, entertains the notion for a bit:

A rare books collector says he has obtained a manuscript with new evidence that may give credence to that theory. The 200-page manuscript, "Bandit Invincible: The Story of Butch Cassidy," which dates to 1934, is twice as long as a previously known but unpublished novella of the same title by William T. Phillips, a machinist who died in Spokane in 1937.

Now in my mind, Butch escaped, mortally wounded, and stumbled upon a Bolivian shaman. Who nursed him back to health and told him the spirits had saved him for a reason. Armed with his skills as gunfighter and brawler mixed with Incan magics, he became The Jaguar, a masked hero of the 20s and 30s before vanishing.
gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Science!)
You can't buy a lithium-air battery (yet). You've probably never even heard of one. They were only invented 15 years ago, and for now, they're still just laboratory curiosities.

But with the latest lab breakthrough, the lithium-air battery (also known as the lithium-oxygen battery) is nosing up into the energy density region seen in gasoline. If you're thinking battery-powered car, maybe your sights are too low. How does battery-powered airplane sound?
gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (US Flag)
Schakowsky's Awesome Jobs Bill

Jan Schakowsky, a high-profile Progressive Caucus congresswoman from Illinois, has released a jobs bill. In her statement, she announced to America that the "worst deficit this country faces isn’t the budget deficit. It’s the jobs deficit. We need to get our people and our economy moving again.”

And her bill does precisely that in a very noble and brave step forward.
gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Default)
Protesters Rally Outside House Speaker's Office - Video - WLWT Cincinnati

Dozens of people protested outside House Speak John Boehner's office Tuesday to urge him to focus on jobs. About time.
gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Atheism - God)
Rick Perry’s Jesus Imperative: A Report from Saturday’s Mega-Rally | Politics | Religion Dispatches

By the time Texas Governor Rick Perry took the stage at his scheduled time at The Response on Saturday, the crowd had been softened to receive him. Perry, as scheduled, emerged from behind the prayer and worship band shortly before 11:30, his coiffed hair and toothy grin filling the enormous television screens behind him. The audience, still aglow and groggy, almost, from a frenzied prayer session devoted to individual repentance had been called upon, through the throb of the praise music, to “lay yourselves bare” for Jesus, your “first love,” and to “repent for putting other things before Jesus.”

This was no idle command—in fact “command” and “obedience” were the day’s chief buzzwords for many speakers; as repentance was required on behalf of yourself, your church, and your country for having failed to commit yourself to Jesus, for having permitted abortion and “sexual immorality,” for failing to cleanse yourself of “filthiness,” and to repent for having “touched what is unclean.” As the individual repentance portion of the day reached its climax, just before Perry’s remarks, people lay flat on the floor; others raised their arms in charismatic receipt of God’s word. Others danced. Some spoke in tongues. A woman wearing a fatigue green “M.A.S.H.” t-shirt (that’s Mobile Army Spiritual Hospital) prostrated herself on the floor.

“Like all of you, I love this country this deeply,” intoned the governor who once publicly mused about his state seceding. “Indeed the only thing you love more,” he added, as the audience held its collective breath, praying he wouldn’t say something that fell short of expectations, “is the living Christ.” A collective exhale for him getting it right; the governor was exalted.


gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Default)

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