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So, with [Justice Stephen J.]Field on the Court, still more twists were yet to come. The Supreme Court's opinions are officially published in volumes edited by an administrator called the reporter of decisions. By tradition, the reporter writes up a summary of the Court's opinion and includes it at the beginning of the opinion. The reporter in the 1880s was J.C. Bancroft Davis, whose wildly inaccurate summary of the Southern Pacific case said that the Court had ruled that "corporations are persons within ... the Fourteenth Amendment." Whether his summary was an error or something more nefarious--Davis had once been the president of the Newburgh and New York Railway Company--will likely never be known.

Field nonetheless saw Davis's erroneous summary as an opportunity. A few years later, in an opinion in an unrelated case, Field wrote that "corporations are persons within the meaning" of the Fourteenth Amendment. "It was so held in Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad," explained Field, who knew very well that the Court had done no such thing.

His gambit worked. In the following years, the case would be cited over and over by courts across the nation, including the Supreme Court, for deciding that corporations had rights under the Fourteenth Amendment.

If this whole legal notion that "corporations are people too" is based on a complete fabrication and it is known to have been done so by the legal community why is it allowed to stand? Is the power of tradition and precedent so powerful that even something like this that was a pure fabrication inserted into the court record cannot (or will not) be easily overturned?

Dozens of House Democrats are calling for an ethics investigation into the habit many lawmakers seem to have of sleeping in their congressional office, something that critics say is improper and unsanitary.

In a December letter signed by 30 members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) obtained by Politico, the Democrats called for a probe into whether the "problematic" practice violated federal law.

"Members who sleep overnight in their offices receive free lodging, free cable, free security, free cleaning services, and utilizie other utilities free of charge in direct violation of the ethics rules which prohibit official resources from being used for personal purposes," the members wrote in a letter to Ethics Committee Chairwoman Susan Brooks (R-Ind.) and ranking member Ted Deutch (D-Fla.)

Some members said they took issue with a number Republicans regularly sleeping in their congressional offices, living for free in a government building, while advocating cuts to welfare programs.

Not a surprise that Republican lawmakers are some of the biggest leaches.
Science / Falcon-9 launch window starts at 1:30 pm today
I'll have to remember to go out on the balcony to watch this afternoon.

Traffic towards the Cape started getting heavy this morning.

I remember when this ad came on thinking that I'm pretty sure Dr. King wouldn't approve of that use of his sermon.

"The reality is that we just need to look around. Supermarkets are open, and things are going back to normal," Alejandro De La Campa, FEMA's director in Puerto Rico told NPR. "If we're giving free water and food, that means that families are not going to supermarkets to buy."

But a third of Puerto Rico still lacks electricity, some areas still don't have running water, while FEMA has said "only about 1 percent of islanders still need emergency food and water," NPR reported.

Politics and Current Events / Guess the Party!

A <snip> lawmaker in Kansas said that African-Americans "responded the worst" to marijuana because of their "genetics" and "character makeup."

State Rep. Steve Alford <snip> said at a "Legislative Coffee" session on Saturday that Jim Crow-era policies banning drugs such as pot were to protect other citizens from the drug use of black Americans.

"Basically any way you say it, marijuana is an entry drug into the higher drugs," Alford said, as first reported by The Garden City Telegram. "What you really need to do is go back in the '30s, when they outlawed all types of drugs in Kansas and across the United States."

"What was the reason why they did that? One of the reasons why, I hate to say it, was that the African-Americans, they were basically users and they basically responded the worst to those drugs just because of their character makeup, their genetics and that," he continued.

"And so basically what we're trying to do is we're trying to do a complete reverse, with people not remembering what has happened in the past."

Good luck guys!

James Damore, the former Google engineer who was fired after he wrote a memo sharply criticizing diversity efforts at the company, has filed a class-action lawsuit against his former employer alleging that the tech giant discriminates against conservative white men.

After his memo, the lawsuit says, "Google executives and employees condemned Damore, his memo, and his views." Damore also says he was laughed at, personally insulted and attacked, before ultimately being fired.

omg, he was laughed at?

The riddle:

Albany, California teacher Bret Turner claimed that he recently gave a quiz to one of his first-grade classes by asking his students a crafty, little riddle. On Tuesday, he tweeted out the "Puzzle of the Day": "I am the beginning of everything, the end of everywhere. I'm the beginning of eternity, the end of time & space. What am I?"

Young Morrissey's answer:

"The first guess from one of my 1st graders was 'death' and such an awed, somber, reflective hush fell over the class that I didn't want to tell them that actually the answer is the letter e, which just seemed so banal in the moment."

Mafia / Callout: Mafia Nerds
Check this out:

Currently $6.99 on Steam.

These things are often misunderstood. So, lest our readers, or the honoree himself, get the wrong impression, let us repeat the idea behind The Salt Lake Tribune's Utahn of the Year designation.

The criteria are not set in stone. But this year, as many times in the past, The Tribune has assigned the label to the Utahn who, over the past 12 months, has done the most. Has made the most news. Has had the biggest impact. For good or for ill.

The selection of Sen. Orrin G. Hatch as the 2017 Utahn of the Year has little to do with the fact that, after 42 years, he is the longest-serving Republican senator in U.S. history, that he has been a senator from Utah longer than three-fifths of the state's population has been alive.

It has everything to do with recognizing:

  • Hatch's part in the dramatic dismantling of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments.
  • His role as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee in passing a major overhaul of the nation's tax code.
  • His utter lack of integrity that rises from his unquenchable thirst for power.

Each of these actions stands to impact the lives of every Utahn, now and for years to come. Whether those Utahns approve or disapprove of those actions has little consequence in this specific recognition. Only the breadth and depth of their significance matters.

And Hatch's reaction?

Politics and Current Events / Papa John's fires Papa John


The only downside is this shithead is still worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

This summer, Elon Musk spoke to the National Governors Association and told them that "AI is a fundamental risk to the existence of human civilization." Doomsayers have been issuing similar warnings for some time, but never before have they commanded so much visibility. Musk isn't necessarily worried about the rise of a malicious computer like Skynet from The Terminator. Speaking to Maureen Dowd for a Vanity Fair article published in April, Musk gave an example of an artificial intelligence that's given the task of picking strawberries. It seems harmless enough, but as the AI redesigns itself to be more effective, it might decide that the best way to maximize its output would be to destroy civilization and convert the entire surface of the Earth into strawberry fields. Thus, in its pursuit of a seemingly innocuous goal, an AI could bring about the extinction of humanity purely as an unintended side effect.

This scenario sounds absurd to most people, yet there are a surprising number of technologists who think it illustrates a real danger. Why? Perhaps it's because they're already accustomed to entities that operate this way: Silicon Valley tech companies.

Would serve them right.
Arts and Entertainment / Okja
Anyone else watch this on the Netflix?

It was horrifying in parts.

All in all I liked it.

A public feud between two of America's top black intellectuals has led one of them to abandon Twitter.

Cornel West, author of the well-known Race Matters, has been increasingly critical of Ta-Nehisi Coates, the Atlantic writer and author of Between the World and Me and We Were Eight Years in Power. This culminated on Monday night, when Coates left Twitter -- a day after West published an op-ed in the Guardian that called Coates "the neoliberal face of the black freedom struggle."

Guys, please don't fight!
There are quite a few SF stories where aliens arrive to harvest the earth of its resources endangering all of humanity.

However, if resource strapped aliens bumbled into our solar system wouldn't they be able to get more resources for less trouble just by harvesting the other planets and/or the asteroid belt?

We could probably even charge them royalties for the privilege.
Female broadcaster accuses Al Franken of sexual harassment/assault.

Over the last few days I've heard female lawmakers talking about how they've been harassed by colleagues some of whom are still active members of congress. But they don't name names . . . how come?

CNN did a piece the other day about this:

In that they said:

More than half a dozen interviewees independently named one California congressman for pursuing female staffers; another half dozen pointed to a Texas congressman for engaging in inappropriate behavior. CNN is not naming either of those lawmakers because the stories are unverified.

Unverified reports haven't stopped CNN from naming names in Hollywood and other industries that have had women come out and tell their harassment/assault stories. Why not Congress?

I feel that by refusing to name names CNN is helping to perpetuate the old system of sexual harassment being an open secret where the harassers are free to carry on with their harassing because why not? If they're not going to be prosecuted, censured or even publically shamed what incentive is there for them to stop harassing?
Politics and Current Events / American Epistemic Crisis

Pretty depressing read but I think it paints a realistic picture of where we're at as a country.

Right now it looks like there's no way out of this cycle and I'm a little scared about how it will (has to?) end.
Arts and Entertainment / Stranger Things 2
Comes out tomorrow!

Anyone else plan on binging it this weekend?

Will best girl Barb finally be saved?


Here are three trends that are often discussed in isolation:

  • The low birth-rates of advanced economies
  • The rise of a xenophobic anti-immigration politics
  • The fragility of the welfare state

While these subjects might seem to have nothing to do with each other, in fact they crash into each other like dominos. As rich countries have fewer babies, they need immigration to grow their prime-age workforces. But as the foreign-born share of the population rises, xenophobia often festers and threatens egalitarian policy-making.

There is no reason to think that this cause-and-effect is inevitable, but the trend is clear enough that liberal policy makers need to think hard about this doom loop and how to break it. Let's spell it out in greater detail.

If this is really a global trend and even liberal countries in northern aren't immune I'm not sure how to stop it.
Politics and Current Events / Christianity in action

A North Carolina pastor has "repossessed" the grave marker of a 5-year-old who died of leukemia, because the bereaved family still owed his company money for the monument. Wayne and Crystal Leatherman, who buried their son a year ago, say they're in shock.

. . .

"I hated to do it. I'm not heartless and I have had a child die, so I know how it feels. But what was I to do? I thought having (the marker) would give me some leverage. In hindsight, I should have just written it up as a bad debt ... This could ruin my reputation. Hopefully, we can get this resolved, even if I take a loss on it."

Gee, I don't know Pastor Shoaf . . . what were you to do? Maybe you could have forgiven their debt like Jesus forgave your debt instead of taking a child's headstone off of their grave?