Saturday salmagundi

• In Italy, you can be convicted of manslaughter for failing to predict an earthquake. Apart from the general absurdity of Italy’s legal argument, it’s hard to imagine a worse or more dangerous step for undermining both honest science and public safety.

• The Consumerist provides a valuable tool: “A Guide to Figuring Out Executives’ Email Addresses.” Executive Email Carpet Bombs can be very effective — that’s why these addresses are easily accessible to the public.

• Beverly Mann is absolutely right that “The Quiet Fact That Obama Should SHOUT About” is a terrific example of good government serving and protecting the people of America. It’s evidence that Obama is on your side, and that ought to matter to voters. But Mann’s conclusion, that “Obama could put this election away within the next few days with a few clearly-stated, specific facts of this sort” presumes that this election is about facts and truth and reality. If that were the case, he’d have put the election away ages ago.

• The Peace Pastor asks, “Will Texas admit it killed an innocent man?” Answer: No. But it did.

• Promoting democracy: International observers head to Texas to learn how American democracy works. Republican officials threaten them with arrest.

• I would be extremely proud if one day I could claim a list of accomplishments as impressive as those listed in this campaign ad about Matt Varilek. Strangely, this isn’t an ad for Varilek, it’s for the incumbent, South Dakota’s Republican Rep. Krisi Noem. According to Noem and her party, getting a master’s degree, studying in Cambridge, and being hailed internationally as an expert are disgraceful misdeeds that voters should punish.

• Police in Montana say a man was having an affair with his neighbor’s wife, so he lay in wait for the neighbor and shot the unarmed husband three times, killing him in cold blood. And that’s why police won’t be pressing charges.

You’re Not Allowed to Kill Civilians.

• Rudy Giuliani thinks he’s got a “zinger,” saying that if insurance plans are going to cover birth control, then they “should cover Viagra. It’s only fair.” Since insurance plans already do cover Viagra — including plans for those patriarchal Christians railing against birth-control coverage — then Giuliani ought to be demanding coverage for birth control. “It’s only fair,” right, Rudy? Right? … Hello?Rudy?

• Here’s an Obama endorsement from someone who has actually accomplished what no Republican has in my lifetime: balanced the federal budget. Brad DeLong explains “Why I Am Going to Vote Against Mitt Romney, in Case You Were Wondering.”

• This is what the Internet is for: Doktor Zoom takes a literary journey inspired by a tweet from Sen. Grassley. “Assume Deer Dead,” he says, “is literature itself.”

“So we beat on, deer against the traffic, borne back ceaselessly into the past. …”

• Last week, thanks to the greedy little guy ransacking the Indian corn on our porch, I realized for the first time that chipmunks can store food in their cheeks just like hamsters. This week, via It’s Okay To Be Smart, I learn something slightly less adorable about our little friends.

• The mortality rate for human beings is 93.5 percent (so far).

• At Huffington Post, Charles Redfern reads Moral Minority: The Evangelical Left in an Age of Conservatism, by David Swartz. “Sider’s ESA narrowly evaded bankruptcy,” Redfern writes, summarizing the first decade of my working life in five words.

• Pastor Chris’ ideas in “Spitballing the Future of the Church” echo some of Scott Paeth’s ideas in his “Church for Freaks” series. Chris, meet Scott. Scott, meet Chris.

It could be bunnies. For Halloween, Kate Nash and band play “Once More With Feeling.” Pretty cool idea and it seemed fun, though “Where Do We Go From Here” is a bit of a downer for ending a set at a rock club.

John Fugelsang: “Limbaugh just called Christie ‘fat & a fool;’ which is like having Rush call you a draft-dodging woman-hating addict bigot.”

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  • Lori

    It doesn’t. There are shortages because the terminals have been offline, roads have been impasable and stations have been without power.

    Chris must have gotten all excited because someone mentioned the word “gouging” and missed the fact that said person was not arguing in favor of gouging. He was arguing that $4/gallon isn’t actually gouging, but a market correction in the variance between crude oil prices and gas prices at the pump. This is quite a different argument than “It’s good to allow gougers to help people prioritize, because if people really need it then they’ll have the money.” Maybe the guy used too many big words.

  • Greenygal

    Actually, at the end of the report the guy starts making basically Chris’s argument:

    “If you did have the ability to gouge, i’ll use that word freely. if you have the ability to raise prices as high as you can you would do two things. first, there is a lot of talk out there about people panicking, topping off their tanks when they really don’t need to, that sort of thing. if you have $6 or $7 gasoline that would end. it also creates an entrepreneurial opportunity to go with a $9,000 tank truck into harrisburg, albany, whatever, load it up, bring it here and sell it and actually make money.  If the spread over the regular price somewhere else is not that high, that opportunity doesn’t exist.  … I still think that this is a short-term thing, we could make it a little shorter if those gouging laws were not in effect.”

    I am not in sympathy with this argument, to put it mildly, but Chris isn’t actually making that bit up.

  • Lori

     Fair enough. I think I must have missed some of the end of the transcript. The formatting was weird and it didn’t want to scroll for me. I thought I had managed to get to the bottom, but apparently not.

  • Click Gmail’s “Display Images” option. They’re safe and will not do nasty things.

  • greenygal- in my non defense though, he says gouging will shorten the time people have to scramble for gas but it doesn’t solve the larger problem.  I would actually tend to agree with Lori that it’s a storm, stuff happens. there’s not a lot of hope that they can fortify all this stuff.  Infrastructure is not really out strong suit these days.

  • There is a reason why we don’t let the free market run untrammelled, and that’s partly because for all that the price system is a very responsive thing under the right conditions, it is not 100% suitable or applicable in all cases or circumstances and needs to be appropriately curbed sometimes.

  • I don’t think it’s saying that. If anything it’s an argument against democracy itself. We all want infrastructure but theres no infrastructure party.

  • PollyAmory

    Earthquakes can’t be predicted in a way that we typically understand the term. In his book, he explains why. The best that can be done is to say that the odds of such-and-such intensity earthquakes in the next ten years is so-and-so. That’s about as precise as it is possible to get. 

  • LoneWolf343

     Well, right, the technical word is “forecast” because it is an estimation of the probability of an event.