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User Journal

Journal Journal: Rudy Giuliani Prepares to Enter the GOP Race 1

Apparently he figured since there won't be a clear leader after Iowa and New Hampshire, he might as well jump in as well. With nothing else useful to say, Giuliani decided to attack the Super Bowl Halftime Show . As much as the current crop is a big crowd of idiots, Giuliani does have one thing the rest of the idiots don't have - a day on the calendar set aside to honor his infinite awesomeness. That must be an instant +10 delegates, at least.
User Journal

Journal Journal: Cruz won't even worry about truth this early 66

Did Ted Cruz gin up Iowa voter histories?
That is actually one of the kinder reviews of the campaign mailers that the Cruz campaign sent out. One of my favorite bits so far on this is that apparently the campaign arbitrarily picked either "55%", "65%", or "75%" as a voting "score" for the people they mailed these out to (some say this may have been in part because the state voting records don't have enough information to calculate this number).

The reply from Cruz himself is interesting:

Cruz himself said in Iowa: "I will apologize to no one for using every tool we can to encourage Iowa voters to come out and vote."

User Journal

Journal Journal: GOP operatives celebrating their own stupidity 15

Republican Operatives Try to Help Bernie Sanders

Apparently some of the GOP brass have drank enough Jesus Juice that they believe they can beat Sanders, in spite of

An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll finds him leading Trump nationally by 15 points, while Clinton leads Trump by 10 points.

The GOP fail spin is indeed quite amusing to watch. It's unclear how they will ever make it back out of the woods a second time. If Sanders won the nomination, the GOP would need more than their usual strategy of voter obstruction to keep him out of the white house. If he won the white house, they would only make themselves look even more ridiculous and hypocritical to keep with their strategy of congressional obstruction as a platform.


Journal Journal: Nope, the GOP has no problem getting women in to the tent... 2

Report: Cranston seniors director resigned after having man dress as woman for press conference

Cranston's director of senior services stepped down last week after she had a male bus driver for the Cranston Senior Enrichment Center masquerade as a woman to improve visuals at a press conference.

The man was wearing a dress, earrings, lipstick, and a wig, according to the report.

Stenhouse's last public appearance (the one featuring the man dressed up in drag for the conference)?

an initiative that Stenhouse had put together: the creation of a student snow-shoveling brigade to help poor and infirm older people. Students receive high school community service credits for their efforts.

There was an announcement at the Cranston Senior Enrichment Center, in which some students gleefully shoveled snow from a pile Stenhouse arranged despite the lack of snowfall.

But, of course, Republicans wouldn't waste money like this, would they?

Stenhouse, 56, of Warwick, is a former Republican member of the Warwick City Council and a current member of the Warwick Planning Board. She was the unsuccessful Republican candidate for Rhode Island secretary of state in 2006 and was an aide to Donald L. Carcieri when he was governor.

Ooops, scratch that one.

The Almighty Buck

Journal Journal: Macy's to Close 40 Stores nationwide 4

This week a list of 40 stores that Macy's will close in 2016 was announced :
  • Irvine Spectrum, Irvine, Calif.
  • Country Club Plaza, Sacramento, Calif.
  • Westfield Century City, Los Angeles (This store will be closed in January 2016 and replaced with a new, larger store to open in this same shopping center in spring 2017)
  • Enfield Square main store, Enfield, Conn.
  • Enfield Square furniture/home/men's store, Enfield, Conn.
  • North DeKalb Mall, Decatur, Ga.
  • Kailua, Hawaii
  • Palouse Mall, Moscow, Idaho
  • Northwoods Mall, Peoria, Ill.
  • Cortana Mall, Baton Rouge, La.
  • Valley Mall, Hagerstown, Md.
  • Berkshire Mall, Lanesborough, Mass.
  • Eastfield Mall, Springfield, Mass.
  • The Shoppes at Stadium, Columbia, Mo.
  • Middlesex Mall, South Plainfield, N.J.
  • McKinley Mall main store, Buffalo, N.Y.
  • McKinley Mall home store, Buffalo, N.Y.
  • Arnot Mall, Horsehead, N.Y.
  • Hudson Valley Mall, Kingston, N.Y.
  • Eastern Hills Mall, Williamsville, N.Y.
  • Cary Towne Center, Cary, N.C.
  • Chapel Hill Mall, Akron, Ohio
  • Midway Mall, Elyria, Ohio
  • Quail Springs Mall, Oklahoma City, Okla.
  • Pony Village Mall, North Bend, Ore.
  • Roseburg Valley Mall, Roseburg, Ore.
  • Suburban Square, Ardmore, Pa.
  • Century III Mall, West Mifflin, Pa.
  • Ridgmar Mall, Ft. Worth, Texas
  • Chesapeake Square, Chesapeake, Va.
  • Virginia Center Commons, Glen Allen, Va.
  • Peninsula Town Center, Hampton, Va.
  • Military Circle Mall, Norfolk, Va.
  • Regency Square main store, Richmond, Va.
  • Regency Square furniture/home/men's store, Richmond, Va.
  • Downtown Spokane, Spokane, Wash.

This little snippet is interesting as well:

Macy's also announced Wednesday that it has engaged Eastdil Secured in conjunction with Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs to approach potential interested parties to form joint ventures to utilize the company's mall-based properties as well as its flagship real estate in Manhattan, San Francisco, Chicago and Minneapolis.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Is slashdot mangling underscores in user names now?

It's entirely possible that I didn't notice this before. What I see today is odd, though. If we look at my friend smitty we see that for some reason the underscores in his name are no longer recognized. I say no longer as my browser still remembers looking at his JEs or comments with underscores (ie, smitty_one_each) even though if I try to do that now it comes up telling me that user does not exist.

Equally peculiar, the underscore in my user name still works. Is it something with the fact that his name has two underscores, and mine only one? Was this part of the "fix" to the login problems we were having over the past two (or so) weeks?

Journal Journal: I see I'm not the only one with login problems here... 1

Back on Monday I mentioned a problem with the comment system , which I'm pretty sure is actually coming from the login system more specifically. Interestingly others are also bringing it up in the front page story on predictions for 2016 .

For as much as makes no difference, my prediction is that this site won't make it to Dec 31 of 2016. Leadership is gone, there is no sign that any actual programmers still work here, the editors have been phoning it in for years, and the site has been up for sale for some time now. New bugs keep popping up, and old ones just remain.

If you haven't had the bug yet - and in my case it comes up in both firefox and chrome - it works like this. When you first load the page, you find that it doesn't show you being logged in. Then you hit F5, and you are logged in. Then you go to a front page story, and you are logged in. However you try to post a comment or reply in that story, and suddenly you are no longer logged in.

One new feature with this one is now when I try to post a comment (even though it will only allow me to do that as AC) the submit and preview buttons are eventually not rendered. This makes it particularly difficult to finish posting the comment.

Whoever leaves last, I hope you remember to turn out the lights. It would be a shame to keep wasting all that electricity.

Journal Journal: Anyone else having problems with the comment system? 5

Not sure if there is something wrong with my browser or what, but I've had a few times where I've gone to send a comment and found that slashdot has mysteriously logged me out in the process. Then I start a new tab and things are OK again. A few times the main page has shown me not logged in as well, only to refresh and find myself logged in. It seems that stories are still be posted as usual right now, so the whole system doesn't seem to be down as it was last time...

Journal Journal: Conservative tactic of the day: Anger Wherever you Can 35

I was reading through google news when I came upon a Reuters article about Ted Cruz claiming the media is "taking aim" at this children . It was mentioned that the cartoon he is up in arms over was in the Washington Post, but had been removed, so I looked briefly for it.

The first hit for it in a google images search came from Breitbart , pretty well guaranteeing the least-favorable depiction possible of the cartoon.

The response from the cartoonist is that indeed they were depicting Cruz's kids as being manipulated by him for his campaign. I will say, though, that before seeing it I didn't even know he had two kids. Had I seen it before the outrage I would have thought it was saying he was manipulating the GOP electorate as if they were a couple of small monkeys.
The Matrix

Journal Journal: Why conspiracies won't be detracted by their certain failure 120

In the matter of the array of anti-Obama conspiracies, the simple fact at this point is that January 20 2017 is less than 400 days away. The glass-half-full side of the conspiracy buffs should be celebrating at this point as it means they are that much closer to the end of the administration. Naturally, the glass-half-empty side of the same group is angry because they realize they cannot reduce that number any quicker through action than through waiting out the clock.

The fact of the matter though is that the conspiracy crowd wins either way. When President Lawnchair leaves office the conspiracy buffs will tell us about all the conspiracies that were not "investigated" and how they are indication of terrible things that could have happened.

Journal Journal: Healthcare.gov has nothing on hp.com 4

A lot of politicians - and people who want to become politicians - like to claim that healthcare.gov was a disaster. They like to claim that it demonstrates any of a number of evils associated with the Lawnchair Administration.

Yet by my experience it is far from the worst major web site out there. Healthcare.gov can't possibly be as useless as hp.com. If I was inclined to endorse conspiracy I would suggest that hp.com is actually intentionally misleading and designed to drive customers away.

That is a pretty lofty accusation but based on what I just went through I think an argument along those lines could be made.

I have a multifunction printer/scanner/copier/fax/deep-fryer that we purchased back in July of 2014. It is almost certainly out of warranty on its own but that is not the full story. I went to hp.com because the ink cartridges have dried up ahead of time, to see what they could do about that (a lot of people don't know this but the cartridges often have "ink warranty" on them). So I went ahead and tried to see if I could make their web page useful as I don't have a phone number to call.

That was a rather awful mistake.

I started at their support page. I entered my model and serial numbers. It helpfully told me my warranty ended in June of 2013. Yes, hp.com claims my warranty ended over a year before I bought the product. They helpfully have a link you can click to start a warranty dispute (perhaps I'm not the first to run into these absurd problems?). Except tonight that link doesn't work.

I know with a different HP device I had, I was able to get to a chat session with an HP employee. But not this time. Since I can't get it to accept that my printer indeed wasn't even made before they claim the warranty ended, it won't let me get there.

They keep wanting me to go read forums, as if they will magically produce working ink cartridges for me.

Did I mention these cartridges are reporting basically empty after only printing 28 pages - the vast majority of which were printer status reports, cartridge cleanings, and print head alignments?

Well, at least the scanner works pretty well and it makes decent onion rings.
First Person Shooters (Games)

Journal Journal: How Useful Is a "Good Guy With a Gun"? 3

Few statements come up more often than the myth of stopping a "bad guy with a gun" by way of a "Good Guy With a Gun". This is often used to inspire people to join the NRA, get a concealed carry permit, join the NRA, buy guns, join the NRA, vote republican, join the NRA, vote republican, and join the NRA. Few people have actually put much thought into the utility of Joe Six Pack hoping to stop a situation with his licensed weapon.

So the Daily Show opted to test it with approved shooting training a simulations. They also cited some interesting data on shooting events:

The results explain why it's so rare for "a good guy with a gun" to stop active shooters. According to the FBI's report on active shooter events between 2000 and 2013, only about 3 percent were stopped by a civilian with a gun. Unarmed civilians actually stopped more incidents - about 13 percent. Most of the incidents - more than 56 percent - ended on the shooter's initiative, when the shooter either killed himself or herself, simply stopped shooting, or fled the scene.

User Journal

Journal Journal: $freaks++ (don't ask questions) 14

As the official slashdot message of it hasn't yet come, go ahead and read the other person's celebration of it first.

Why ask why, try bud dry!

I am also enjoying the new abuse of "arguing in good faith" coming from various people as a response whenever they are faced with a question they don't want to answer - even if it directly follows their own writing. Of course now in the same thread I get the

They don't want you in their sandbox.

Which is quite appropriate, although I would say it would be even more so if it was instead "echo chamber" (which is what slashdot largely has become).

First Person Shooters (Games)

Journal Journal: How Ronald Reagan Learned to Love Gun Control 55

How Ronald Reagan Learned to Love Gun Control

By Peter Weber, writing for The Week

(I'll bring up more on this later, but wanted to get the text out there sooner):

America is once again waging a rhetorical war of attrition over gun violence, after another mass shooting, this one in San Bernardino, California. We know the name of the suspects, both dead, and that one of the shooters was a coworker of the 14 people he and his wife are accused of murdering. We know it was the worst mass shooting since a lone gunman shot dead 20 small children and seven adults in a Connecticut elementary school.

We don't know the motive for the attack, but we do have some idea how this recurring battle over preventing the next mass shooting will go, and what the U.S. will end up doing (nothing). Maybe we can trip up this cycle a bit by talking about Ronald Reagan.

You can't expect Republicans to love everything about Reagan, but because today's Republicans, and notably its current crop of presidential contenders, pay such respect to America's 40th president â" sorry Bushes, pÃre and fils â" Reagan provides an interesting benchmark of American politics. There are a lot of issues that Reagan would be out of step with in today's Republican Party â" immigration, negotiating with global enemies, and tax hikes, to name a few that liberals like to highlight. (Though, to be fair, are any Democrats excited to defend JFK's escalation of Vietnam?) But maybe the starkest is gun control.

So as America's fight over gun laws moves to Reagan's home state of California, both sides of the gun debate â" but especially proponents of stricter gun laws â" can probably learn something from the Gipper. Arguably the most consequential president for gun control legislation in the past century, Reagan was also a favorite son of the National Rifle Association, gun control's most effective opponent.

Here's a look at a few gun control measures Reagan played a critical role in:

1. Banning open carry in California.

Back in 1967, says Jacob Sullum at Reason, "the NRA supported the Mulford Act, which banned open carrying of loaded firearms in California. The law, a response to the Black Panthers' conspicuous exercise of the right to armed self-defense, also was supported by Gov. Ronald Reagan." As the bill's conservative sponsor, Don Mulford (R), argued in 1989, "openly carrying a gun is an 'act of violence or near violence,'" Sullum noted. "Apparently Reagan and the NRA agreed." The Mulford Act is still on the books in California, America's most populous state.

2. Banning the sale of machine guns and other automatic weapons.

The NRA fondly cites the Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986 as "the most sweeping rollback of gun control laws in history." And while it did in fact roll back some of the provisions of the 1968 Gun Control Act, it also contained a provision â" banning the sale of machine guns and other fully automatic weapons to civilians â" that came back to haunt the NRA. Robert Spitzer, an expert on gun law, tells NPR that it was "a precedent that would open the door for restricting civilian access to semiautomatic, assault-style weapons." Congress did just that in 1994, thanks â" very plausibly â" to Ronald Reagan. (See below.)

3. Mandating background checks for handgun purchases.

In 1991, Reagan supported the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, named for his press secretary shot during the 1981 attempt on Reagan's life. That bill passed in 1993, mandating federal background checks and a five-day waiting period. "Every year, an average of 9,200 Americans are murdered by handguns, according to Department of Justice statistics," Reagan wrote in a 1991 op-ed for The New York Times. "This does not include suicides or the tens of thousands of robberies, rapes, and assaults committed with handguns. This level of violence must be stopped."

4. Banning assault weapons.

Despite the law being enacted well after his presidency, Reagan was credited with playing a critical role in the Assault Weapons Ban of 1994, which has since expired. Reagan's personal and effective lobbying helped the bill overcome the strong objections of the NRA. "The vote on the assault weapon ban was contentious and barely passed the House of Representatives," notes Andrew Kaczynski. "At least two members of the House of Representatives credited Reagan with influencing their votes. The bill passed 216-214, a margin of two votes."

For anyone seeking a path toward common ground on gun control, there are interesting lessons here.

It's worth mentioning, of course, that times have changed: Modern gun-rights maximalism wasn't mainstream until about the time Reagan, a lifelong member of the NRA, became president. The NRA, for example, supported or even championed many gun control measures for most of its existence, until hardliner Harlon Carter became head of the organization in 1977, as UCLA law professor Adam Winkler detailed in The Atlantic. "Reagan's California," Winkler added, may have had "one of the strictest gun-control regimes in the nation," though Reagan's views "changed considerably" during the 1970s, too.

And that's the first lesson: Support for gun laws is cyclical, and has been since the Founding Fathers wrote the Second Amendment. My colleague Ryan Cooper was right to say there is another federal gun regulation in America's future, at some point down the line.

If Reagan did turn against gun regulations in the 1970s, his views shifted back sometime after he was shot by John Hinckley Jr. in 1981. And that points to the second big lesson from Reagan's views on gun control: They appear to be influenced by his personal experiences with people aiming guns at him.

Reagan cited his attempted assassination in his 1991 speech backing the Brady Bill, as well as honoring the other three men wounded in the attack: Jim Brady, who was shot in the head and paralyzed; Washington, D.C., police officer Thomas Delahanty, shot in the neck and forced to retire due to nerve damage; and Secret Service Agent Tim McCarthy, shot in the chest and liver. "This nightmare might never have happened if legislation that is before Congress now â" the Brady bill â" had been law back in 1981," Reagan said. He gave a favorable nod to Jim and Sarah Brady's work; the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, which Sarah Brady led at the time, is one of the NRA's fiercest critics.

In California, Reagan threw his support behind the Mulford Act after a heavily armed group of Black Panthers gathered at the state capitol while the new governor was supposed to be hosting a group of eighth-graders for fried chicken, Winkler recounts at The Atlantic. That same afternoon, Reagan told reporters that he saw "no reason why on the street today a citizen should be carrying loaded weapons." Mulford quickly added a provision to his bill barring loaded firearms from the capitol, except for when carried by law enforcement.

Banning loaded weapons from the legislature may seem like a normal and prudent idea, but ordinary citizens could freely roam the U.S. Capitol until 1983, when a bomb detonated outside the Senate Republican cloakroom and House Minority Leader Robert Byrd's office. That wasn't the first bomb attack in the Capitol, and gunmen had fired at congressmen from the gallery in 1954, says Josh Zeitz at Politico Magazine, but after the '83 bomb congressmen finally started walling themselves off from citizens and, especially, citizens bearing arms. Even then, putting metal detectors at the door of the Capitol was controversial.

The Capitol complex has only gotten more locked down since then. Zeitz makes the obvious connection: "Ironically, as Congress has become less hospitable to gun safety laws, and as conservative Republican legislators have grown more strident in their desire to see citizens carry open and concealed weapons everywhere â" in churches and schools, on college campuses, at bars and restaurants â" the one venue that has grown more gun-free, more secure, and more restrictive is the building they work in."

This is wading into potentially dangerous territory, so let me be clear: The correct way to get more gun control is emphatically not to attack or threaten elected representatives. But it does seem true that when powerful constituencies feel personally threatened or aggrieved, they often appear more likely to support gun restrictions. After Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) was gravely shot and six supporters and staffers killed by a gunman in 2011, for example, she dedicated herself to the cause of gun control with her husband, Cmr. Mark Kelly, a Navy veteran.

The third major lesson from Reagan is that it matters who is proposing and backing new gun laws. When we trust people, we are more likely to listen to their ideas and have faith that they have, if not our best interests at heart, at least an aversion to harming our cause. Thus, right from the start, Democrats are more likely to support policies from Democratic presidents, Republicans are more likely to support proposals from GOP presidents, and the NRA is likely to consider ideas floated by gun-rights advocates and gun owners.

The NRA trusted Reagan; it has never trusted Obama. The closest the U.S. came to getting modest new firearms restrictions this century, in 2013, the sponsors of the bill were proud gun owners Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), an opponent of gun control, and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who was endorsed by the NRA in 2012, in an election where he ran a TV ad featuring him shooting a piece of environmental legislation with a rifle. The NRA and Manchin parted ways in 2013.

There is a broad middle ground on gun laws. Proponents of tighter gun control, defeated and often demoralized after years of losses, would generally be open to if not thrilled by adding some modest restrictions. So would most Americans, and a majority of gun owners. The NRA, fueled by years of wins, isn't giving ground. That's where we're at.

Ronald Reagan, probably to the surprise of both gun control advocates and opponents, occupied that area of broad consensus. If the NRA really loved Reagan, they might remember that.

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"Little prigs and three-quarter madmen may have the conceit that the laws of nature are constantly broken for their sakes." -- Friedrich Nietzsche