Quotulatiousness

April 1, 2014

Libertarian Police Department

Filed under: Humour, Liberty — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 08:32

In The New Yorker, Tom O’Donnell goes on the road with the hardworking cops of the LPD:

I was shooting heroin and reading The Fountainhead in the front seat of my privately owned police cruiser when a call came in. I put a quarter in the radio to activate it. It was the chief.

“Bad news, detective. We got a situation.”

“What? Is the mayor trying to ban trans fats again?”

“Worse. Somebody just stole 474 million dollars’ worth of bitcoins.”

The heroin needle practically fell out of my arm. “What kind of monster would do something like that? Bitcoins are the ultimate currency: virtual, anonymous, stateless. They represent true economic freedom, not subject to arbitrary manipulation by any government. Do we have any leads?”

“Not yet. But mark my words: we’re going to figure out who did this and we’re going to take them down… provided someone pays us a fair market rate to do so.”

“Easy, chief,” I said, “Any rate the market offers is, by definition, fair.”

He laughed. “That’s why you’re the best I got, Lisowski. Now you get out there and find those bitcoins.”

“Don’t worry,” I said. “I’m on it.”

H/T to Walter Olson:

March 30, 2014

“[E]very Ohio political candidate has escaped from a lunatic asylum and all Ohio ballot initiatives are the work of Satan”

Filed under: Humour, Liberty, Politics, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 10:11

P.J. O’Rourke finally made his mom proud by filing a brief of Amici Curiae to the US Supreme Court:

Ilya Shapiro, with a J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School, is Senior Fellow in Constitutional Studies at Cato and editor-in-chief of the Cato Supreme Court Review. He often files amicus briefs, especially in cases where constitutionally guaranteed rights are imperiled. But these briefs are serious in tone even though Ilya is funny in person.

He’s also self-effacing, saying, “There are people who know more about Constitutional law than I do, and there are people who are funnier than I am, but I do occupy the very small area of overlap in that Venn diagram.”

The Venn diagram seemed like the only proper approach to a law that would make you a criminal in Ohio for saying that Buckeye president William Howard Taft was so fat his wife had to grease the doorframe and tell him there was a banana cream pie in the Blue Room to get him into the White House.

The fight-a-laugh-with-a-laugh brief was Cato Legal Associate Gabriel Latner’s idea. He wrote the first draft. Cato Research Fellow Trevor Burrus added research. And more jokes. Then Ilya Shapiro took over. I was asked to read it and give it my endorsement because I am an expert on being run out of Ohio. Ask my mother.

Politico posted a condensed version of the brief, and I shared the byline with Ilya. On the Above the Law blog David Lat called it the “Best Amicus Brief Ever.” (Albeit that’s a low “bar” — notice how I casually toss in legal jokes now that I’m arguing a case before the Supreme Court.) And a lawyer friend of mine congratulated me on what he said was the first legal brief in history to go viral.

March 19, 2014

Dark Dungeons Teaser Trailer

Filed under: Gaming, Humour, Media, Religion — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 00:01

Published on 18 Mar 2014

Dark Dungeons brings Jack Chick’s 1984 masterpiece to the silver screen. Visit http://darkdungeonsthemovie.com/ for exclusive updates!

Debbie and Marcie arrive at college unaware of the dangers of RPGing. They are soon indoctrinated into this dangerous lifestyle where they face the threat of learning real life magical powers, being invited to join a witches’ coven, and resisting the lure of Ms. Frost, a vile temptress of a GM. But what peril must the two friends face when they stumble across the Necronomicon and their fantasy game becomes a reality game? Find out in Dark Dungeons!

February 19, 2014

NSA and DHS admit that parody is allowed after all

Filed under: Bureaucracy, Business, Government — Tags: , — Nicholas Russon @ 08:58

Julian Hattem reports that the NSA and the DHS have dropped their complaint about parody mugs that they initially claimed were violating some sort of “special legal protection” for certain US government agencies’ seals:

The NSA and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are abandoning their protests against a line of mugs, hats and shirts that mock official government insignia, settling a lawsuit filed by the consumer interest group Public Citizen on behalf of Dan McCall, a Minnesota activist who sold products poking fun at the government.

“This is an important win,” said Paul Levy, a Public Citizen lawyer involved in the case, in a statement on Tuesday. “Citizens shouldn’t have to worry whether criticizing government agencies will get them in trouble or not. This settlement proves the First Amendment is there to protect citizens’ rights to free speech.”

McCall’s site, LibertyManiacs.com, sold bumper stickers, shirts, hats and other goods featuring a series of parody images. One graphic featured the DHS seal with the words “Department of Homeland Stupidity.”

In 2011, the NSA and the DHS sent cease and desist letters to Zazzle, which printed McCall’s designs, claiming that the images violated special legal protections for the agencies’ official seals.

The LibertyManiacs site shows a selection of “Censored by” items on the front page (I imagine they’ll be getting quite a sales boost from this case):

LibertyManiacs front page

February 15, 2014

What is your threat level?

Filed under: Government, Humour, USA — Tags: , — Nicholas Russon @ 11:09

PersonalThreatLevel

H/T to Cory Doctorow for the link.

February 11, 2014

QotD: The NSA voicemail greeting

Filed under: Government, Humour, Quotations — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 10:41

Thanks for calling the National Security Agency. Press 1 for a blanket denial. Whatever you heard, it’s not true. Press 2 to hear a transcript of every call you’ve ever made. Press 3 to confess. If you haven’t done anything, that’s OK, the NSA treats everyone like a criminal. Press 4 to have your tax money used to violate your privacy. Press 5 to hear these options again.

Gregg Easterbrook, “Are the Chiefs real or opportunistic?”, ESPN Tuesday Morning Quarterback, 2013-10-29

February 10, 2014

A “Dumb” parody that Starbucks finds unamusing

Filed under: Business, Law, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 09:23

I am not a lawyer, but it seems to me that this “parody” of a Starbucks shop is too similar to the real thing and that it would be easy for someone to think they were buying “the real thing” at this store:

A store labeled as “Dumb Starbucks,” using the Starbucks corporate logo and bearing an almost identical look to an actual Starbucks, opened up in Los Feliz on Friday, according to employees.

It was open until about 6 p.m. Saturday and drinks were free as part of what a barista called a “grand opening.”

The coffee shop reopened again Sunday morning and coffee was again free. Dozens of people could be seen waiting in line to get in.

Messages left with people associated with “Dumb Starbucks” seeking comment have not been returned. Messages left with Starbucks Corporation have also not been returned.

The menu was limited.

On Sunday, there still was no business license or health code rating posted in the establishment. The baristas said they were hired from Craigslist.

Despite the popularity, customers seemed confused about what exactly was going on.

“I saw online that there was a Dumb Starbucks sign. One of my friends posted about it, and I live across the street, so I just walked over,” Jonathan Brown told KPCC. He described it as “weirdly off-kilter,” with everything looking like a regular Starbucks except for the word “dumb” in front of it.

Their “FAQ” posting shows that they’re aware that this ploy may not be lawyer-proof:

Dumb Starbucks FAQ

Update, 11 February: The prank is revealed to be the work of Nathan Fielder.

Mr Fielder appeared in person at the store to make the announcement, where he said there are plans to open a second outlet in Brooklyn, New York.

There had been widespread speculation that the store, which uses Starbucks’ trademarks, was a publicity stunt.

Starbucks said they were aware of the store but denied any affiliation.

“We are evaluating next steps and while we appreciate the humour, they cannot use our name, which is a protected trademark,” a Starbucks spokesperson said in a statement.

February 2, 2014

Don’t forget your Super Bowl Bingo card

Filed under: Football, Humour, Media — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 09:23

Super Bowl bingo

Update: Seattle, you’re drunk. Go home.

Seattle Super Bowl snack

February 1, 2014

QotD: Captains, Majors, and Colonels

Filed under: Britain, Media, Military, Quotations — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 09:06

The BBC television show Blackadder is arguably one of the funniest and finest comedies of the late 20th century. Achingly sharp, with jokes that are still funny to this day, it was a four series show which finished with Blackadder Goes Forth set in the First World War. Watching the show today, one is struck by how funny it is, and also worryingly how its anti-establishment jokes aimed at undermining the social structure of the time has become the accepted historical record of the First World War.

The UK has a very strange ‘love hate’ relationship with its military officers — junior ones are portrayed as incompetent (Lieutenant George), Captains are seen as possibly okay (Captain Blackadder), Majors are usually seen retired and with a snifter in their hand (the Major from Fawlty Towers), while Colonels or heaven forbid Generals (General Melchett) are usually seen as inept, incompetent, who do not have a clue about their profession or what it involves. They are seen as people without a clue until the point when they retire, at which point they suddenly become military geniuses, whose angry letters to Broadsheet newspapers warrant being printed on the grounds that they are military commanders who know what they are talking about.

Sir Humphrey, “This is the Captain(s) of Your Ship Speaking… Why there are 260 Captains in the Royal Navy today”, Thin Pinstriped Line, 2013-10-19

The hand-egg championship, described

Filed under: Football, Humour, Media, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 00:01

Part of a continuing series of reporting American events in the way American media reports foreign events:

This Sunday, the eyes of millions of Americans will turn to a fetid marsh in the industrial hinterlands of New York City for the country’s most important sporting event — and some would say the key to understanding its proud but violent culture.

Despite decades of exposure to the outside world through trade and globalization, Americans have resisted adopting internationally popular sports like soccer, cricket, and kabaddi, preferring instead a complex, brutal, and highly mechanized form of rugby confusingly called football. (Except for in a couple of instances, feet do not touch the ball.)

The two finest teams from the nation’s 32 premier league squads meet each year in an event known as the Super Bowl. (There is in fact no bowl.) This year, the game pits a young upstart team from the Northwest Frontier Provinces against another from the mountainous interior region led by the aging scion of one of the sport’s most legendary families. The winner of the contest will claim the title of “world champion,” although very few people play the sport beyond the country’s national borders.

Although the rules are complex — this video [embedded below] offers a brief overview — in broad strokes the contest involves two large teams of large men wearing large amounts of protective padding attempting to move an oblong ball down a 91.44-meter field by either throwing it or running with it while their opponents attempt to knock them to the ground with maximum force.

January 30, 2014

Duffelblog – Marine converts demand religious symbols be allowed in uniform

Filed under: Humour, Military, Religion — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 08:14

You can always trust Duffelblog to give you the latest US military news:

Marines Convert To Norse Paganism, Demand Horns And Wings On Helmets

CAMP LEJEUNE, NC — An entire rifle squad which has converted to Asatru, or Northern European Heathenry, has expressed disappointment in new Pentagon dress code requirements claiming religious exemptions to military uniform standards are not inclusive enough.

The Asatru devotees complain they are not allowed to wear their religious clothing in uniform unlike Sikh, Muslim, and Jewish members. Focused on historical Norse paganism, the Marines want to affix horns and wings on their helmets in order to accommodate individual expression of their beliefs.

“It’s the only way Valkyrie can identify the Kindred if we fall righteously in battle,” said Sgt. Bram Gunbjorn, who serves as both squad leader and gothi (priest) of his squad of housescarls, otherwise known as 3rd Squad, Second Platoon, Charlie Company.

The squad believes upon their worthy death in combat, the Valkyrie will lead them to Valhalla, the mythological hall presided over by Odin, the Allfather.

“I think these clowns have been reading too many comic books,” said battalion Sgt. Maj. Mike Brooks. “There’s no actual historical evidence Vikings or any Northern European groups wore that garbage into battle.”

Soon after the sergeant major made this statement, the horrified Marines submitted a complaint to their Equal Opportunity Officer on the grounds of religious intolerance.

January 27, 2014

The Kronies – Get konnected!

Filed under: Government, Humour, Media — Tags: , — Nicholas Russon @ 08:56

Published on 22 Jan 2014

Get Konnected at http://www.thekronies.com

The Kronies are in action…Mandating, Tarrify-ing, Inflating, and Boondoggling their way to profits powered by their special konnection to the G-Force. Watch Big-G and his team stomp out competition!

H/T to Popehat for the link.

January 19, 2014

Obamacare opponents ruthlessly parody the efforts of supporters

Filed under: Humour, Media, Politics — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 10:51

Those who are still opposed to President Obama’s healthcare program will go to any lengths to ridicule and belittle both the program itself and the people who support it. Here, for example is one of the nastiest attempts to drag Obamacare into the public eye in as negative and mocking a fashion as possible.

I’m either on drugs, or the administration is this helplessly stupid. The Tell a Friend — Get Covered campaign, better described as “a tourist trap off Route 66,” began a six-hour live-streamed event Thursday afternoon that was advertised to “include stories, tips, helpful information and other details related to national health care options.” Really, it was as if the audio-visual club got wasted on malt liquor and hijacked public access television.

Get Covered, a partnership among state healthcare exchanges and the Obamacare missionary Enroll America, expertly fails to cater to young people. Its circus began Thursday with a dance-off between Richard Simmons and the contortionist Nathan Barnatt, overseen by the star of an Internet show whose premise is “drunk cooking.” How this is supposed to entice a 27 year old to pay $200 a month for health insurance, or even talk about it, is a question for the gods.

“What’s he doing?” Simmons exclaimed as Barnatt began to shake his body wildly.

“He’s extending his livelihood! That’s what he’s doing!” Hannah Hart, your host and creator of My Drunk Kitchen, responded in an endorsement of cardio.

Oh, c’mon. Is this seriously going to be one of those D-grade infomercials in which the participants force every line back to the bottom one?

“His moves are telling us something,” Barnatt whispered as Simmons took his turn.

“They are, and I think they’re saying, ‘Be flexible about your health insurance options,’” Hart responded.

Yes. Yes, it is.

Oh. Sorry. Apparently this isn’t a sleazy disinformation scheme by opponents. It’s a “good faith” advertising effort by supporters. Carry on, then.

January 17, 2014

QotD: Forming a cabinet in a parliamentary system

Filed under: Britain, Government, Humour, Quotations — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 08:05

The argument that we must do everything a Minister demands because he has been ‘democratically chosen’ does not stand up to close inspection. MPs are not chosen by ‘the people’ — they are chosen by their local constituency parties: thirty-five men in grubby raincoats or thirty-five women in silly hats. The further ‘selection’ process is equally a nonsense: there are only 630 MPs and a party with just over 300 MPs forms a government and of these 300, 100 are too old and too silly to be ministers and 100 too young and too callow. Therefore there are about 100 MPs to fill 100 government posts. Effectively no choice at all.

Jonathan Lynn, “Yes Minister Series: Quotes from the dialogue”, JonathanLynn.com

January 16, 2014

A political speech you’ll never hear

Filed under: Government, Humour, Politics, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 13:19

Jim Geraghty‘s congressman is retiring, so some have suggested that he should run to replace him. Here’s the speech he’ll never give:

I have been asked what I am willing to do to earn the great responsibility and honor of representing you in the House of Representatives. My answer is simple and direct: Absolutely nothing.

(Nervous laughter from crowd.)

My fellow Virginians, if you elect me to Congress, I promise that I will not lift a finger for the special interests, the corporate interests, the lobbyists, Big Oil, Big Business, Big Papi, the Big Ten, the Notorious B.I.G., or The Big Bang Theory. I won’t answer to them or any other one of our public discourse’s designated villains of the week.

(Cheering)

I can make this promise with confidence because I’m pretty sure I won’t do much of anything for you, either.

(Cheering stops)

This is an area where my principled commitment to limited government and my deep disinterest in dealing with your problems will align perfectly.

Do you want a deduction or tax credit written into the tax code to benefit your business? Well, tough, because you’re not getting it. Your business is supposed to thrive because it provides quality goods and services, not because it gets some special help from the IRS.

(Murmurs of discontent.)

[...]

Have you ever considered that maybe the reason Congress is so awful is you, dear voters? I mean, you elected these clowns. But even beyond that, most of the time when members of Congress interact with the public, they’re being asked for favors. The mail they get, the phone calls they get, most of the people who show up at their town halls – everybody’s asking them for something. Get more funding for this! Help us get money to do that! Make sure this agency spends more on this local project! Look, your congressman is not Santa Claus! [...] Through your behavior and expectations, you’ve conditioned our elected leaders to think of themselves as walking ATMs.

Ask not what your country can do for you … because I’m sick and tired of your whining. Do it yourself.

(The crowd is silent and not happy.)

What do you say, Virginia? Are you ready for a congressman who has nothing to offer you but … well, basically nothing to offer you?

Crowd: BOOOOOOOOOO!

Guy in crowd: Hey, doesn’t Mary Katharine Ham live in this district, too?

Another guy in crowd: Let’s nominate her!

The crowd moves on.

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