Friday, February 26, 2010

Domestic violence news update

• A while back I wrote about New York Assemblyman Hiram Monserrate, who was convicted of domestic assault and has just been kicked out of the state Senate. Governor Paterson supports the move, and calls attention to potential witness intimidation.

But wait, there's more! One of Paterson's top aides is now under investigation for domestic violence, and Paterson allegedly called the victim himself to convince her to keep quiet.

Lame Weekend-Update-Style Punch Line: In related news, New York announced its new tourism slogan: "If I Can't Love New York, Nobody Can."

• As part of his promotion for a new stimulus jobs bill, Sen. Harry Reid announced that unemployed men are more likely to beat their wives. This is certainly plausible. After all, domestic violence is primarily a control issue, and many abusers are narcissists who need to maintain their images at all costs. Lose his job and he's lost control of your life, and his image, which was tied up in his job, is seriously damaged. The abuser needs to reassert control somewhere else.

That said, Sen. Reid's argument sounds a little like an argument to put more police on patrol in high-crime neighborhoods order to keep late-night coffee shops in business, and carries the nasty undertone that people who oppose the bill not only hate jobs, but hate women as well. The reason the government wants to reduce unemployment is not because of the secondary effects of unemployment. The reason the government wants to reduce unemployment is because unemployment is bad in and of itself.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Off to change all my passwords...

I have learned that a book containing my family tree is now available through Google Books. It was initially interesting to have the search feature available to see if anyone was murdered (one), or if I'm the only one in Idaho (another guy's second wife is from Jerome), and then the information that a bunch of them seem to have died fighting for the Germans on the Eastern Front.

And then I realized that anyone with good Internet skills can find the answers to two very common security questions - my mother's maiden name and my place of birth. Of course, they could've found this out beforehand by buying the book, but if someone's going to steal my identity, I'd at least like them to go to the effort of spending thirty bucks or so on the project.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Useful if you're writing alternate history about Romans

The Catholic Church officially names all its dioceses* in Latin, but they can be maddeningly inconsistent with translations of local names.

For example, in the United States, you'll find an Archidioecesis Ludovicopolitana, a Dioecesis Petriculana, and a Dioecesis Rubribaculensis, but you'll also find a Dioecesis Bridgeportensis and a Dioecesis de Fairbanks.

Why does Santa Fe become Sanctes Fides, but Las Cruces stays Las Cruces? Shouldn't Iowa have something like Monachi? And why do I live near Xylopolis?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Alexander Stern is not very good at video games. Not his fault, of course; he's just got some kind of unspecified "visual processing impairment."* He says that because he's disabled, he's unable to "fully enjoy[] the video games manufactured by Sony.... As a result, [he] has not acquired the items some players of video games amass through their play.... Nor has [he] progressed as far or as successfully in the video games to provide him with sufficient knowledge of the games to meaningfully interact with fellow video game enthusiasts at the conventions and other events Sony organizes to promote the video games."

Rather than visit GameFAQs or enter cheat codes or find a different goddamn hobby, Mr. Stern decided his best option would be to file suit against Sony under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

His theory was that because he wasn't any good at the games, he was effectively denied access to Sony's conventions, and Sony was using the games as a test to screen out the disabled so that Sonywouldn't have to accommodate their disabilities - which is a little like saying that failing to allow a blind skater to participate in roller derby is just a ruse to keep her from bringing her guide dog to Rollercon.

Judge Percy Anderson of the Central District of California ruled that no, Americans do not have the constitutional or statutory right to pwn noobs. (I cannot believe I just typed that.)

*Note that some therapists consider OCD to be a visual processing disorder, which might also motivate someone to be so focused on beating a game to cause him to file a lawsuit to make it happen.

Friday, February 5, 2010

I'll be sure to dress nicer next time I go to WinCo

This map of state-by-state locations for Craiglist "Missed Encounters" posts will teach you about lots of regional stores, fulfill some of your stereotypes (either about certain parts of America or about Craigslist posters), and leave you wondering why there are no lesbians in the Dakotas.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Instilling discipline at a young age

From a recent Iowa Court of Appeals decision:

The reported incidents included: (1) the biological father spanking Nicholas while he was a newborn in the neonatal intensive care unit...

Now, surely some of you will note that I am not a parent and don't know what it's like to be one, but how could anyone possibly think that newborns had the intellectual capacity to understand concepts such as punishment for misbehavior? (Unless he was a Scientologist who was trying to instill some engrams.)