SocraticGadfly: 5/22/16 - 5/29/16

May 26, 2016

Texas runoff elections recap

Not much to add to what Brains had to say, but I'll do a few notes.

First, living in SBOE District 9, it was gratifying to see gay prostitute monger Mary Lou Bruner go down to defeat in the GOP runoff. I think her appearance on WFAA's talking heads last Sunday killed her. Bud Kennedy wasn't harshly confrontational, but he and his cohost strongly grilled her, her conspiracy theories, and the conspiracy theory-driven lies she and her campaign spread about opponent Keven Ellis' campaign. Her staff probably told her, or she told herself, she couldn't afford to duck the appearance once the offer was made to both, but she probably should have. Ellis got a lot of exposure, and her nuttery (collected at this spot) got just as much.

Second, to snark ... if religious conservative Wayne Christian is the GOP nominee for the RRC, then shouldn't he want to clean up the messes by Big Oil? After all, oil spills and fracking waste are both noxious enough they can cause spontaneous abortions, I'm sure, and abortion is right up his alley.

To be more serious, the win of Grady Yarbrough on the Democratic runoff for RRC underscores another point.

The Railroad Commission, along with Court of Criminal Appeals Place 5, is one of two MUST-FOCUS races for the Texas Green Party to hit the 5 percent threshold and maintain party-line ballot access in 2018. Yarbrough is a doob.

Unfortunately, as of this time, all Green candidate Martina Salinas has is a Facebook page with no updates in more than three months, and no website.

(The other is Place 5 for the Court of Criminal Appeals. Judith Sanders-Castro is the Green nominee. As I blogged during primary filings, Betsy Johnson appears to have been a last-minute Dem recruit with a mix of just wanting to fill out the Dem slate and perhaps wanting to cockblock Greens. Given what I read about Gilberto Hinojosa, no surprise. That said, I can't find even a Facebook page for her.)

A basic, Wordpress-driven website costs what, $39 a month to host with GoDaddy or something? A professional, but part-time, web/IT person, for a third-party candidate on a quasi-volunteer basis, shouldn't cost more than $100 a month right now, maybe $100 a week after Labor Day.

So, Salinas, and Sanders-Castro, it's time to up the ante. And, I've Tweeted Texas Greens already to pass this along.

May 25, 2016

Neil Young, capitalist sellout — #hypocrisy alert (updated)

Neil Young (Wikipedia photo)
Neil Young has long been known for "reinventing" himself musically every several years, but he's long been seen as a consistent liberal political and social voice.

(Update, May 25, 2016: Well, maybe not a consistent liberal political and social voice. Sure, he endorsed Bernie Sanders earlier this year, but now, he's ready and willing to let Donald Trump use his music at campaign events, as long as he pays up.)

Back to the original ....

Well, maybe we should re-invent our understanding of him. And, his voice aside, part of a trilogy of "interesting" voices along with Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson, maybe we should re-invent our understanding of him as a musician — at least one who understands much about actual recording and engineering — as well.

And, why do I say this?

From this great piece from LA Weekly, which once and for all refutes the idea that "vintage vinyl" sounds better than CDs.

If anything, it actually is worse.

Due to the shorter "travel time" near the label, sound quality on a record deteriorates even further near the center of the black plastic. And (petard alert!) to get more than 40 or so minutes of sounds on a piece of vintage vinyl, the sound must be COMPRESSED! And, there's extra distortion, despite that compression.

And, no, you worshipers at the Altar of Vinyl, the Altar of Glass Vacuum Tubes won't help on this.

How does this all tie to Neil Young?


It's his relationship to PonoMusic and the bullshit that Pono is selling to gullible worshipers at the Altar of Vinyl.

First, a background note. Pete Lyman, co-owner and chief mastering technician at Infrasonic Sound, notes that a lot of stuff being cut to vinyl is actually from stuff not only with digital masters, but with original engineering for digital. And, vinyl masters today aren't being produced the same way as they were in the pre-CD era.

Now, an introduction to more generalized hypercapitalist bullshit that's being sold to the Church of Vinyl:
As labels seek to capitalize on a physical medium that is gaining momentum, some marketing efforts offering superior sound are downright misleading. Most notable among these is "audiophile-quality 180-gram vinyl," which consumers assume is superior because it is heavier. Lyman, however, says the added weight offers no musical benefit at all. 
"It increases shipping costs and sales cost of the record. That's about it," he says. "It's the Super Big Gulp of vinyl, but you're not getting more [sound quality], really, you're just getting more vinyl."
OK, that sets the stage.

Here's the capitalist sellout:
With PonoMusic, Neil Young is leading fans down the digital version of a similar "bigger is better" sonic trail. 
It has long been believed that the human ear cannot hear frequencies above 22 kHz. This is why CDs sample sound at 44.1 kHz and 16 bits of information per sample. According to a theorem called Nyquist-Shannon, in order to reach a desired range, sound must be sampled at twice that range. Half of 44, obviously, is 22. 
Pono — along with some other digital retailers such as — sells some tracks that sample music as high as 192 kHz, with 24 bits per sample. Pono also offers a PonoPlayer (retail price: $399), which the company says is optimized to play those tracks.
So, the 192 kHz is just bullshit. Per Wiki, 192kHz is at the upper end of bats' sonar-based hearing range!

It's bullshit in the same way as gold-plated audio connections and similar overpriced stupidity.

Since the human ear can't hear that high, a special music player that allegedly reproduces them — as well as engineers who claim they can tell the quality grade difference — is an even higher, pricier grade of bullshit.

Even if ol Neil ain't getting a direct cut of Pomo's money in exchange for his Kickstarter effort, he's still a capitalist sellout. If he is getting some payola (I see what I did there), he's a sellout in spades.

Actually, in play rights, etc., he IS getting a direct cut of Pomo's money, though:
You can buy an armload of used LPs for the $21.79 it costs to buy a 192 kHz version of Young's Harvest at the Pono store.
 Capitalist sellout.

I'm surprised that he hasn't offered an updated "After the Gold Rush," let alone "Heart of Gold." (I see what I did there.)

And, music engineering idiot, spouting New Agey-type nonsense like this:
As he's been pitching Pono, Young has continued to promote the idea that analog formats and recording gear offer the authentic sound, and digital is a compromise. 
"I don't think [Pono] can sound better than vinyl," he said earlier this month at the Consumer Electronics Show. "Because vinyl is a reflection and any digital is a reconstitution; it's not the same thing."
Or else, a — wait for it, wait for it ...

A capitalist sellout playing on his public persona, which would expect him to say something like this, and doing so at a capitalist palooza like the CES. 

That said, he's got plenty of suckers willing to buy into his capitalist sellout if Americans bought nearly 10 million vintage vinyl albums in 2014.

Matt Bruenig, skeptical left-liberalism, #tribalism and related thoughts

Matt Bruenig
First, I'm about as glad that I'm not plugged into insider left-liberalism, socialism, as far as the American commentariat goes, etc. as I'm glad I'm not plugged into movement/scientific skepticism or Gnu Atheism.

The kerfuffle over Matt Bruenig being dismissed from Demos is a good example.

Despite the fact that, on Twitter, he appears to often be churlish at best, vituperative at worst, is the first "tell" against him. I can call out Neera Tandem for supporting the RSS and BJP in India, or Joan Walsh for being a centrist (and a sign that the Overton Window is alive and well at The Nation, if she's writing there), without being ageist, or just a general turd, you know?

And, apparently, he either doesn't know, or doesn't care, himself.

That said, per Lawyers, Guns and Money, he appears to be a bit of a hypocrite. Having a government job with the National Labor Relations Board, then saying too many lawyers are paid too much, is ... "rich." (I mean, yes, if he and his wife, 20somethings, are pulling down $100K a year in DC, and the AFL-CIO paid for his law school, he has no financial pain, even if the Demos firing gave him a haircut.)

He also (and I agree with several points by commenter Manual) appears to be a bit of a hypocrite about money again. No, he did not explicitly say Demos was his only, or even his majority, source of income, but one could easily infer that, which indicates that he was implying it. Read his GoFundMe that he set up after Demos fired him, if you don't believe me.

Nor is he that skeptically incisive of a thinker, also per LGM, though removed from his own blog, apparently, if he finds John Rawls to be highly influential. Walter Kaufmann blew Rawls out of the water long ago. I've blogged in more detail about some of Kaufmann's ideas.

This is why I raise eyebrows at left-liberals who aren't skeptical about their economic philosophy. Take self-proclaimed Marxists.

Any Hegelian-derived philosophy is a bit suspect in my eyes, in general. Any deterministic or any system-building philosophy is also suspect. The world doesn't operate in such absolutes. It's why I identify myself as a skeptical left-liberal.

That said, are non-leftist "conventional American liberals," even if they didn't get him fired from Demos, gloating over it? Did they push Demos, even if they didn't "get him fired," because, to parse Jesuitical, only Demos actually could fire him? Of course.

And, is this part of an organized attack?

Per what's happening to Carl Beijer, yes. And Beijer, at least from what I've seen on Twitter, and on occasional reading of his website, is NOT Bruenig in his general tone.

And, whether part of a mob, or simply part of stupidity, when the "labor editor" for the Great Orange Satan Tweets:
We're in the land where the one-eyed is king.

And, where collateral damage, per Beijer, is sometimes deliberate.

Took me all of 30 secs on Wikipedia, as I tweeted back, to show up her ignorance, long after many others did.

Beyond this, on left-liberals of whatever exact moniker circling the wagons against plain old liberals?

What we have here is tribalism, pure and simple. Regular readers of this blog should know that I loathe tribalism in general. I've certainly been vocal about tribalism in general in this election, decrying women voting for Clinton just because she's a woman, and the #ImWithHer hashtag, asking (rhetorically, knowing some won't answer and others are clueless outside the two-party system) why they weren't with Cynthia McKinney in 2008 or Jill Stein in 2012.

And, I don't "do" tribalism. See "movement skepticism" and Gnu Atheism above.

Anyway, I certainly don't know every bit of backstory, but, especially if he had had some sort of warning from Demos before, it arguably did the right thing.

Beyond that, any allegedly liberal, let alone left-liberal, labor lawyer making ageist comments has no business holding his current daytime job, since ageism is even more insidious, and harder to prove, than sexism and racism.

May 24, 2016

Electoral bigotry and third-party voting

I am not optimistic about converting a lot of "Sandernistas" to Plan B, as Brains calls it, voting for Jill Stein. And, I accept that.

That's not what this post is about.

It's about the defensibility of third-party voting in general.

And, I'm not just talking about third-party voting of the left.

I disagree with most true libertarians on almost all non-social issues, though some actually do — with what they say is coherent libertarian-based justification — support single-payer national health care, a guaranteed annual income, or both. (I disagree even more with fake libertarians like the Paul family, who actually belong in the Constitution Party.)

I support their third-party voting, though, and even more, their defense of third-party voting. Donald Trump may seem to them as much as "lesser evil" as Hillary Clinton does to me.

I support their voting, and their defense of voting against people who make "wasted vote" claims. And, on my side of the aisle, I support "us" against "oh the SCOTUS" claims.

Above all, I support all two, three or more (per Idries Shah) third-party angles against people who claim (quite wrongly) that we don't really understand the system, that we're doing little more than mocking voting, or that we're unintelligent in general.

These are the "electoral bigots" of the header.

Indeed, I'll defend not voting at all, if done on intelligent principles, against these electoral bigots.

Oh, something else? You electoral bigots get more off-putting and even infuriating, the more you do it.

As for one of those "electoral bigots," who said that even Bernie Sanders within the two-party system was failing on getting parts of his message out, most notably about single-payer national health care and the true costs of it after we largely stop buying private insurance? Well, the fact that even 40 percent of Republicans would prefer single-payer to Obamacare kind of refutes that claim, doesn't it?

And, on Facebook, I'm glad to have dropped one person, and glad that pseudoskeptic Mark Boslaugh, an ears-in-fingers Clintonista, dropped me. (Well, I'm sad I didn't drop him first.) But, that's about Clinton, or Clinton vs. Sanders, not about third parties.

And, thus, per good friend Brains, in Part 5 of his "revolution" series, it's time to push Plan B, voting Green, harder, against electoral bigots, or people who just have cold feet about voting third party. Got nothing to lose, this election.

May 23, 2016

TX Progressives eyeball politicos as runoff day nears

The Texas Progressive Alliance does not get paid to not work for Ken Paxton or George P. Bush as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff just shakes his head at the Supreme Court punt on birth control.

Libby Shaw at Daily Kos explores the deep disconnect between the recently ratified Texas Republican Party's platform and the views of residents in Houston, the stateís largest city. Political Divide: Texas GOP - Its braying buffoons and "penurious reactionaries" are not who we are.

Socratic Gadfly looks at the most recent imbroglio, or whatever, involving Dallas County DA Susan Hawk, and  fires both barrels, saying she needs to resign AND the Dallas media needs to do a MUCH better job covering this issue.

The latest revolution update is posted by PDiddie at Brain and Eggs.

Egberto Willies says his own personal health issues have made him double down on supporting single payer.

Neil at All People Have Value walked around Downtown Houston this week with a sign that called for us to respect one another. APHV is part of

Texas Sharon wrote about a solvable spill in Mansfield that TCEQ seemingly doesn't want to solve.


And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

TrailBlazers talks about George P(issing it away) Bush, like Ken Paxton, paying people not to work.

Robert Rivard excoriates the Supreme Court decision upholding the school finance system.

Better Texas Blog forecasts a scary future for Texas' children as a result of that ruling.

Christopher Hooks contemplates Ted Cruz's future.

Leah Binkovitz rethinks urban design in the wake of recent flooding.

Offcite reviews several new books on transportation.

The Lunch Tray documents a falling out between the School Nutrition Association and House Republicans.

The WAWG Blog calls the gig economy the slave economy.

Save Buffalo Bayou reports on herons and egrets.

Texas Observer reviews HBO's All the Way, the TV movie version of the Bryan Cranston-helmed stage play about LBJ.

A round-up of all things #FeelTheBern — take note, #Sandernistas

1. Sorry, but he is NOT winning California. First of all, as I've blogged before, Cal's three biggest Dems — Pelosi, Boxer and Betty Crocker (you figure it) — are all in Clinton's camp. Dunno about Jerry Brown, but as Californios know, his real concern is to get the Edmund G. Brown Jr. Peripheral Delta Canal authorized.

Besides that, Bernie is behind in all recent Cal polls (don't believe made-up shit posted to the Interwebz without actual links) and well behind in most.

1A. Sanders has been having a pretty severe money burn recently. Sure, a lot of it has been buying in California already, but even in the primaries, it's a pretty expensive media state.

2.  Chuck Schumer as Sanders-Clinton peacemaker? I've seen stranger.

3. Sanders reportedly wants Dems to have a more liberal stance re Israel and Palestine. Good luck trying to build a bridge for THAT, Chuck. (Really, there's no bridge possible there. Either Clinton moves, or Sanders moves, and lots of papier mâché is employed, or else nobody moves significantly, and there's not enough papier mâché to hide that, so somebody lies.)

3. 4Channers trolling BOTH Clinton and Sanders supporters? Shock me. Stupid enough to leave a cyber-paper trail. That said, how much of that is real and how much is a bullshit hollow claim itself?


That said, let's get to the meat of last week — the Nevada Democratic state convention.

1. Everything you've heard from mainstream media (plus Nevada's alleged "dean," Jon Ralston) about the convention, including one item, is lies. NO chairs were thrown. And, there were vulgar statements but no death threats. Indeed, on the thrown chairs, the lie was so egregious fact-checking site Snopes wrote about it. Jon Ralston cares nada, showing that if he's a dean, it's as dean of schmuckery, and the MSM needs to (but won't) dethrone him. And, he and others are apparently willing to tell these lies because Team Hillary is running scared. The liars include Dem hack Steve Benen, writing for the ever-greater disappointment Rachel Madcow Maddow. Of course, as in most things involving both the words of "Nevada" and "Democrats," as Sanders hinted himself, the sticky fingers of Harry Reid are around somewhere.

1A. Then, the neolib opinion media, as exemplified by Kevin Drum, engage in a mix of schadenfreude nut-kicking and "hey Bernie, get off the pity pot" writing.

Good luck bridging all THAT, Chuck. Oh, and Bernie, do you really expect to take your followers, especially your younger ones, over that bridge themselves, now that they've seen raw political hackery?


That said, Bernie does have a potential black eye on HIS horizon. And, a real one, not a made-up one.

Burlington College will soon close. The Bernie connection? The closure is over massive debt run up while his wife, Jane, ran the place. And deliberately took on the debt.

The growth she hoped for and that did not materialize may have been based on hopes that her name, her marriage, and the connections, would hit paydirt in a small place like Vermont. Or maybe not. But, it's possible. Given that she's the driving force behind his campaign, including his sluggardliness on releasing old tax returns, this could be a black eye.

And, Hillary Clinton is occasionally right when she complains about Bernie not facing tough media coverage. The possibility of Jane Sanders playing off her background's never been investigated.