damnum absque injuria

May 27, 2010

They’re Ba-ack

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 11:39 pm

WTF plates, that is. This time it’s Tennessee’s turn.

Marriott Update

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 12:11 am

Looks like I may have spoken too soon. Seems that Marriott hasn’t taken down any anti-gun-owner signs (yet?) and that its anti-gun roots run deeper than previously thought. Stay tuned.

May 25, 2010

Another Blogger Sets the Record Straight

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 2:48 pm

Like Will Folks, I’m a blogger who must confess to an inappropriate relationship with Nikki Haley. Impure thoughts are inappropriate, right?

Ace has more.

Facebook and Privacy

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 7:27 am

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg acknowledges having made “a bunch of mistakes” (h/t: Molly N.) in an email to Robert Scoble, but declined to elaborate on what the new product fixes would be, noting generally that “I’d like to show an improved product rather than just talk about things we might do.” Pete Cashmore objects:

Except that this isn’t a model that typically fairs well in the PR and media worlds: To Facebook’s audience, it has seemed that Facebook either doesn’t know or doesn’t care about user concerns around privacy. If Facebook does indeed share user concerns and will soon make changes (as Mark explains), a very early mea culpa and increased communication with the press may have saved Facebook from a great deal of criticism.

There’s no question Facebook should have acted much sooner than it did. In case anyone who works for Facebook is reading this, let me clarify that by “act” I mean “act to address users’ privacy concerns, not act to spam our privacy all over the universe.” That said, I see merit to saying less now about what they might do now, and coming back with a much better product then. Talk about what you will do never carries much weight. Talk about what you have done, does. Take the Domino’s example. Does anyone seriously think it would have been a wise move for them to have publicly admitted a year ago that their pizza tasted like crap, and that they would be designing a new kind of pizza Real Soon Now, but won’t we please, please, pretty please with a cherry on top keep buying the old crap in the meantime? Or was it better to do what they did, and keep their new design under wraps until they actually had a better product to deliver?

Facebook is on borrowed time. They can either fully address the privacy concerns, or it’s a matter of months, not years, before we all jump ship to another social networking site that looks like Facebook, feels like Facebook, generally acts like Facebook but doesn’t “help” us broadcast information intended for a select group of friends to the world. Whether that happens or not depends on what the new Facebook actually does when it comes out, not on what Zuckerberg promises it will do now.

May 24, 2010

GRNC Gets Results – in Charlotte and Beyond?

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 9:28 pm

Looks like the long overdue “premature” boycott against corporate gun-grabbing Marriott has paid off in a matter of days. It’s not official yet, but this email from GRNC suggests that there is an excellent chance the gun-grabbing Marriott will soon be the formerly gun-grabbing Marriott, not just in Charlotte but worldwide:

Grass Roots North Carolina, P.O. Box 10684, Raleigh, NC 27605

919-664-8565, www.grnc.org, GRNC Alert Hotline: (919) 562-4137

GRNC Alert 05-24-10:

GRNC campaign leads Marriott to say signs will be removed

Grass Roots North Carolina began a “Don’t Buy” campaign against Marriott International after its Charlotte hotel took money from and then made inadvertent criminals of hundreds of gun owners by posting “no firearms” signs *during* the weekend of the NRA convention and GRNC’s “Gala for Gun Rights.” Marriott confessed to a prohibition on firearms in all of its properties, many of which were posted.

After GRNC began the effort and Gun Rights Examiners Paul Valone, Dave Workman and David Codrea and others ran it, the boycott immediately “went viral,” appearing on forums across the country and generating untold numbers of contacts to Marriott – many of which were from Marriott’s “Rewards” members who supported the boycott. On Sunday, the Marriott boycott made nationally-syndicated radio on Tom Gresham’s “Gun Talk.”

Today, upper level Marriott executive Keith Thomas told GRNC board member Bill Krupicka that signs from the Charlotte property had already been removed, and that signs across the country will be removed promptly.

Please bear in mind that this victory is conditional: Marriott has not yet confirmed its policy, and a public apology to the gun owners staying in and traversing the Marriott across the weekend of the NRA convention has not yet been issued. Accordingly, please do not relax pressure against Marriott International yet. More information will be provided as it becomes available.


* Keith Thomas: Reports directly to JW Marriott, Jr. himself. Thomas can be reached at Mr. Marriott’s office at either keith.thomas@marriott.com or 800-621-0999.

* Kathleen Matthews, Executive Vice President, Global Communications and Public Affairs: Kathleen.Matthews@marriott.com, 301-380-7770. Also include her assistant, Marilyn Cole at: marilyn.cole@marriott.com or 301-380-7525.

* Chad Callaghan, Vice President of Loss Prevention: chad.callaghan@marriott.com. Also call his assistant Pat Murphy at 301-380-7814 and presuming he ignores your call, feel free to page him at: 800-313-9391.

* Jim Diehl: Don’t forget the General Manager (and reportedly regional executive) who started this mess:, jim.diehl@marriott.com, phone: 704-333-9000, fax (directly to his office): 704-358-6522.


Looks good for now, but keep the calls coming. As Yogi usedta say, it ain’t over till it’s over.

May 23, 2010

TruthOrFiction Fiction

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 11:48 am

Continuing Retard Week: as bad as Annenberg Political (humorously known as “FactCheck.org”), Politifact, Snopes and the rest of the “your opinions are myths, mine are facts, nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah” web sites may be, one site among them, TruthOrFiction.com, warrants special attention. Check out their entry purporting to debunk the popular “doctors are more dangerous than guns” meme. While the author of the page acknowledges that the figure on licensed physicians in the U.S. was probably good (700,000 in the year the email originally circulated vs. 780,000 in 2008), they label the email as fiction because, in their view, “not all of the statistics appear accurate.” They proceed to identify the statistics they believe to be inaccurate, and offer statistics of their own:

Email Version
TruthOrFiction Version
Number of physicians in U.S.
Accidental deaths caused by physicians
Accidental deaths per physician
Number of gun owners in the U.S.
Annual accidental gun deaths (total)
Annual accidental gun deaths per gun owner
Factor by which doctors are more deadly than guns

If you’re not a retard, your first reaction to the above table would be to say “Wow, not only are doctors 9,000 times more dangerous than guns, as originally claimed in that email, the real figure is much worse than that!” Your second reaction would to say “Wait a minute, that higher figure on gun ownership can’t be right. Sure, we have one of the highest rates of firearm ownership in the world, but with a total population of 305 million there is no friggin’ way that 96% of us own guns.” Of course, if you are not a retard, you are also overqualified to write for TruthOrFiction:

Regarding gun owners, figures from 2002-2001 from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives said there are 294 million gun owners in the U.S., a much higher figure that [sic] that quoted in the email.

Most of us count years from 2001 to 2002, not from 2002 to 2001, but never mind that. Between this crazy statistic (vs. 80 million, a figure that is well established among anyone with a passing knowledge about firearms in the U.S.), the fact that they deem something “fiction” when their own stats suggest it is an understated fact, and stamping the page as last updated on 2/20/07 while quoting stats from 2008, they seem to be on a mission to make James Frey look credible. I mean, at least in his case you can be reasonably sure that Chapter Four really was the fourth chapter in the book, and that he really does have parents. Remember this the next time anyone sends you a link to anything on TruthOrFiction.com purporting to prove anything.

*The number quoted in original email, as reproduced at TruthOrFiction, is actually off by a factor of ten, reading as 0.000188 instead of 0.0000188. However, they must have used the right figure in the actual calculation, else they would have concluded that doctors are only 900 times more dangerous than guns rather than 9,000.

May 22, 2010

Raise Eric Schoenberg’s Taxes, Please

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 9:30 am

If you can find a way to do that while leaving everyone else’s rates alone, have at it (‘hat tip: Molly). Here’s the lowlight on why incentives don’t matter:

Consider research conducted by two psychologists, Dale Miller and Rebecca Ratner. They told a group of Princeton students that the Red Cross would be coming to campus for a blood drive. Because blood supplies were dangerously low, the organization was considering paying $15 for donations, and it wanted to get a sense of how much difference that would make. The students estimated that 63% of their classmates would donate if they got paid, almost double the 33% they predicted would donate without pay. But when asked whether they themselves would donate, those students were only slightly more likely to donate for $15 than for nothing: 73% vs. 63%. In other words, they thought their classmates would be more influenced by money than they actually were.

In other words, Eric Schoenberg is retarded. Non-retards, by contrast, understand the difference between what people say they will do and what they actually end up doing, and that incentives can help to bridge that gap. Suppose the Red Cross had actually held a blood drive at Princeton without compensation. Does anyone seriously believe that 63% of the student body would actually have shown up? Or that the same percentage who would have flaked out on a free blood drive would also have flaked out if there were money on the table? That the entire U.S. population is as idealistic as the average college student, or that a modest incentive that boosts donations by “only” 16% among spoiled rich kids* might not serve as a stronger incentive among those who consider $15 real money? Even if we do assume all this – and I don’t – increasing blood donations by 16% strikes me as a worthy enough goal to make the $15 incentive worth exploring. of course it won’t be since we live in a retardocracy that forbids people to sell their own blood even for a modest price like $15, while allowing the recipients of their gift to sell it to others for much more than that.

I will concede this much, however: raising Schoenberg’s taxes, and those of everyone else in his bracket, by a paltry $15 a year would have a negligible impact on economic activity. Of course it won’t make a dent in the budget deficit, either, which is why no one is debating a $15 tax increase on the rich. Which brings me to yet another reason why Eric Schoenberg is retarded: he fails to grasp that large incentives often succeed where smaller ones fail. Not happy with a $15 incentive that “only” increases blood donations by 16%? Then pay them more, dumbass. This isn’t rocket science.

The rest of Schoenberg’s article doesn’t even try to make the case that letting the government take even more money than it does will close the deficit, end world starvation, whiten your teeth while you sleep, or make the world a better place in any way, shape or form. Like most other liberal dogma, you are simply asked to accept this premise on blind faith. Just believe, man, just believe.

*No, I’m not suggesting that all Princeton students are spoiled rich kids, only most of them. We can quibble over “most,” I suppose, but that would miss the point, which is that majority or no, spoiled rich kids are certainly over-represented at Princeton vis a vis the population at large.

May 21, 2010

Marriott to Gun Owners: Drop Dead (But Pay Us First!)

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 9:16 pm

Sebastian thinks the boycott is premature. I say it’s long overdue.

Grass Roots North Carolina notes that the Charlotte Marriott made instant criminals of countless guests by putting up no guns” signs while the event was underway – and long after GRNC had selected the venue in reliance on it being gun-friendly (at least in the Starbucksian sense of the phrase, i.e., not openly hostile to gun owners). Many have complained, and the good news is that Marriott has apologized. The bad is that rather than apologizing for putting those signs up and exposing their guests to criminal prosecution, their apology was for not having the signs up all along:

Dear Valued Guest,

Correction: the remainder of this email will make it clear that from their perspective I am not valued, nor am I a guest.

Thank you for contacting Marriott. We appreciate the opportunity to provide you with information.

Neat, but I didn’t ask them for information. I contacted them to provide them with information.

We would like to thank Grass Roots North Carolina/Forum for Firearms Education for its business at the Charlotte Marriott City Center hotel.

In other words: we like money. Fair enough, but….

During the group’s stay, there was some confusion regarding the hotel’s position on the carrying of firearms by the public. It has been the hotel’s long-standing policy to not allow firearms by the public on the premises.

In other words, they are an explicitly anti-gun organization, which has thus far managed to stay off the NRA blacklist despite being far worse than most of the companies on it. This, in turn, allowed them to exploit that very confusion not just during GRNC’s stay, but for months before that; else GRNC members (and Lord knows how many NRA members) take their business elsewhere.

In accordance with applicable law, this policy is posted in several locations around the hotel. Marriott’s policy is to comply with all applicable laws and ordinances.

From these weasel words you’d almost thing there were some law or ordinance requiring Marriott to post no guns signs around the hotel. Of course no law does; what the applicable law (North Carolina General Statute 14-415.11(c) – there are no applicable ordinances due to preemption) does do is convert what would otherwise be a mere civil trespass into a crime that can get our Valued GuestsTM fined, imprisoned and deprived of their right to carry anywhere in the state or even purchase firearms without their sheriffs’ permission. If this is what they do to their Valued GuestsTM, I shudder to think what they’d do to the guests they don’t value.

We are a hospitality company that provides public accommodations and space for events and functions. We do this without regard to the lawful purpose or views of any specific group or organization.

Yeah, it’s might hospitable of you to not be quite as hostile to the First Amendment as to the Second, but a company serious about hospitality wouldn’t have such a ridiculous policy in teh first place. There’s certainly nothing hospitable about tricking thousands of law-abiding gun owners into patronizing your joint, only to turn around and expose them to criminal liability for taking you up on your offer of faux hospitality.

As always, the safety and security of our guests and associates is a top priority.

So high that you adopt a lame-brained policy that has no potential of making any of your guests or associates safe, and ample potential to endanger them.

Marriott Customer Care

Translated: disregards, some lying crapweasel who won’t even stand up and put his/her/its name behind his/her/its words. Let’s call him/her/it … oh, I dunno …. Kathleen Matthews? Or maybe here assistant, Marilyn Cole? I doubt it was Jim Diehl, the brainiac who started this mess.

Note that despite having non-signed the email, he/she/it isn’t quite done yet. While Marriott loves to “comply with all applicable laws and ordinances” that enable it to expose others to criminal liability for exercising their legal and constitutional rights wherever they can, that doesn’t mean they’re above quoting scary, legal-sounding gibberish where no such law applies:

This communication contains information from Marriott International, Inc. that may be confidential. Except for personal use by the intended recipient, or as expressly authorized by the sender, any person who receives this information is prohibited from disclosing, copying, distributing, and/or using it. If you have received this communication in error, please immediately delete it and all copies, and promptly notify the sender. Nothing in this communication is intended to operate as an electronic signature under applicable law.

So to the extent that receiving mail from someone is the equivalent of being on their property, Marriott takes it upon themselves to say, in essence, “by reading my smarmy email you agree not to fisk it in a public forum.” Sorry, Marriott, no dice. Gun owners made the mistake of paying Marriott a fortune last week in Charlotte. We won’t be making that mistake again.

UPDATE: The original version of this post omitted Diehl’s name and address, on the theory that he was just taking orders from on high. After re-reading the message I’m not so sure; they never actually said it was the entire chain’s policy to require its Valued GuestsTM to be sitting ducks; only that it was the longstanding policy of “the hotel.” I’ve sent them a follow-up email asking for clarification on that point, but meanwhile, I’m leaving Diehl’s name and email address up there now, because at a minimum he is the one responsible for negotiating this deal with a gun rights outfit he knew, or should have known, would expect to be allowed to carry there.

May 20, 2010

Gun Show Loophole, Defined

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 7:55 pm

Me no like gun shows. Gun shows legal. Loophole!

May 19, 2010

Toomey for Senate

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 7:03 am

Congratulations, Pennsylvania, you just jumped out of the frying pan. Step two is not to land in the fire.


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