The Kavanaugh Process

One of the features of the American judicial system is the notion of process. It’s there in the Constitution: “due process.” The notion that how you proceed (shared root with process) is just as important as the result of the proceedings.

The Republicans have elected to follow a mangled process for deciding whether to consent on the nominee for such a process-oriented institution. Hundreds of thousands of documents withheld. Conflicts in the release process that would make Lady Justice tear off her blindfold and toss down her scales, walking away in disgust. Confidentiality markings that are meant to obscure rather than protect.

Another low point. The thinking among Senate Republicans seems to be that, given their map for the 2018 midterms, they have nothing to lose. When your team is virtually guaranteed, no matter the wave, that you’ll retain your majority, that’s when you say “fuck the voters.” Except that’s not how our country is supposed to work. That’s exactly the kind of tribal, might-makes-right thinking we sought to abolish in forming the nation.

I expect that they will feel the sting of their indifference to America’s flag and its defenders in due time. The Republicans in the Senate may be safe in 2018 (remains to be seen), but they will not be safe forever. Kavanaugh may yet be confirmed through a process that any judge in any court in the land would bang the gavel on, and bad judges do real damage. That’s regrettable, lamentable, but at the end of the day all the rest of us can do is keep working to remedy the injustices, whether they are natural or artificial, political or commercial.

To put it another way, if Kavanaugh is confirmed, if the court rules poorly, the choice remains of how to react. I do not expect that the public will abide in bad law. It takes time, it takes effort. The law is subject to amendment.

This is just the sort of power shifting that Senator Sasse pointed to in his opening remarks (The Washington Post: 4 September 2018: Amber Phillips: “Ben Sasse on why Kavanaugh hearings are so ugly”; see especially the four-point argument mentioned). Having an imbalanced court inevitably pushes voters in the other direction, like carrying too many groceries in one hand leads you to lean the other way to compensate.

There’s an open question in game theory about how necessary such shifts are. That is, whether congress could self-reattach (to extend the self-neuter analogy used by Sasse), or whether some outside event is required to provoke such a response. If, in fact, such outside agitations are requisite, then in our next revision of our governing systems we should seek to build-in mechanisms to induce rebalancing more frequently.


We are just over eight weeks out from the election.

A License to Disbelieve

In Ian Flemming’s series involving the character James Bond, there is the notion of a “License to Kill.” The license, granted to secret agents, apparently confers immunity from prosecution when they commit homicide as part of their official duties.

But one of the key concepts that’s harming our modern political discourse is this ungranted, self-founded license to disbelieve that many have taken up. Climate denial has surely played a major role in its development, what with one party virtually deciding that having a livable planet is not a priority and just outright denying that we should do anything.

Causes like the anti-vaccination movement, which is apparently much of a non-partisan affair, also fuel the idea that we can just up and decide to ignore data out of fear or discomfort.

There was the rash of Republicans who famously disbelieved the citizenship of President Obama, which was a precursor to the current government that feels comfortable disbelieving (without evidence or due process) the citizenship of ordinary folks.

But unlike the License to Kill, or even a license to drive, the license to disbelieve is not issued. There is no test. There is no accountability. Oops, I rejected vaccines as a commie plot, and now your kid has plague. Oops, I thought China invented the global warming hoax, and now Miami is Sea World.

The license to disbelieve does get revoked, though. Just as in the above cases. When pestilence spreads, the license to disbelieve vaccines gets revoked. When the seas rise, or when, in 2100, half of the country has over 50 days per year at 38°C/100°F, the license to disbelieve carbon pollution is stamped void.

There is a high level of irreverence for facts that comes with the license to disbelieve. It is as though the practitioners of disbelief are looking at a cloud, deciding its shape. While it is clearly a mushroom cloud, they want to lie and pretend that nothing horrible will happen. They choose to see a funny tree shape, instead.


The antidote to disbelief is logical reasoning about mitigating risks. If there’s a bevy of evidence for something, even if you disbelieve, you’re a fool to not make some plans to handle the risk that you’re wrong.

With WINE, Buying Unsupported (?) Games on Steam

Interesting news that Valve has developed and integrated a WINE fork called Proton into the Linux version of their game launcher. The consideration now becomes whether to buy games that work through this compatibility layer but don’t otherwise support Linux.

There are always a lot of people on forums that speak of dual-booting, and that class will mostly buy games regardless of Linux support. For them, lack of Linux support was never a deal breaker, even if they would have liked to have support. Game access comes first, and they’ll be happy to keep buying the games they want, playing them in a Linux environment when they can.

There are people that have used WINE or similar layers all along from Linux, and they would buy whatever games they liked that they could verify would work via the WINE database (plus natively supported games). For this group, access via Linux, by any means, comes first. But they’ll still happily keep doing their thing.

There are also plenty who will want first-class Linux support, and that group is harder to judge now. If a game’s support is via WINE/Proton, does that count as first class? Especially if they are willing to fix bugs that arise, either by contributing to Proton or by changing their own game. One issue there is that updating games for Windows to fix bugs for Linux seems weird. It’ll be up to Valve and developers to decide whether having a “Windows-WINE” flavored repository makes sense for developers that use that approach.

But I digress. Some of the purist camp will not want to play games via compatibility, but if the developers signal they support Linux through WINE/Proton, others will consider support support.

The main long-term benefit of adding a compatibility layer may actually be bigger than Linux gaming. Due to WINE’s potential for portability, there may be places that Windows games end up working in the distant future that nobody planned on.


I installed and tried the old Katamari Damacy clone, The Wonderful End of the World (Dejoban Games). It worked just fine. There were only one or two models without rendered textures (black instead), and only one occasion where mouse-capture was partially lost (alt-tabbing out and in fixed that).

When I get a chance, I’ll try some other games I haven’t played in the years since I left Windows. I suspect most of them will mostly work.

Whether I’ll buy games that work through “Steam Play,” I haven’t decided just yet. I’ll certainly consider it, though.

Abuse is Not Normal

Whether it’s from a spouse, lover, clergy, parent, child, doctor, boss, employee, co-worker, police officer, member of the public, someone online, or the president, abuse isn’t normal and it’s not okay. It’s not okay when it’s from a faceless company against their customers. It’s not okay when it’s approved by a legislature or a church. Abuse is wrong in all of its forms.

There is a fundamental right to live without abuse. How that is best achieved depends on the circumstances, but that it be achieved is not up for debate.

The current executive officeholder is abusive. He has abused his office. He has abused the employees of that office. He has abused the media, and he has abused the public. He slings abuse on our international partners.

It’s not normal, it’s not okay. Having support from a single American to every American does not make abuse okay. Cheering on abuse does not change the fact that it is a violation of humanity.

The normal response to abuse is to cut it off. To separate and avoid the abuser. That’s not always possible.


The current administration engages in all the signs of abuse. They trivialize major problems, including the failure to release Brett Kavanaugh’s records and the jailing of migrant children. Also seen in the pretended outrage that journalists dare question them.

The president goes on regular tirades on social media, lashing out in an uncontrolled and jealous fashion. He isolates the country, scaring off our allies that might speak up against him. He dehumanizes critics. He lies constantly. He threatens retribution for criticism, and in the case of John Brennan, James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, and others, he and his administration took real and tangible steps to enact retaliation. He has regularly called for investigations into political opponents.


In time, congress may find itself in a position to intervene and stop this abuse. But the media has a vital role today, to not give abuse a platform. Wherever this administration crosses the line to abuse, the media should state it as such.

As media consumers, we also have our role to play. If you read about or watch news or peripheral media covering abusive events, acknowledge that the behavior is abuse, whether the article or presenter does so or not. Whether it’s an individual or group being abused, remember that the real target of public abuse is the observer. The abuser wants you to avoid speaking out, to accept eir dominance. Do not do what e wants.

In due time, this wretched man will be gone. The abusers’ days are numbered. As a society, we should make abuse in all its forms a relic of the past.

Earth Matters

Economists don’t bother to calculate the value of a habitable planet when they model the economy. That’s because an uninhabitable planet makes all production and other economic values drop to zero, and the value of habitability is therefore invaluable, like the laws of physics, or the existence of mathematics.

With every passing year, we see the consequences of climate change. We still have not taken the necessary steps to deal with it. As November’s midterms approach, one wonders how an augmented reality election would work. One could see the future that they are voting for displayed in the voting booth. In places like Miami, Florida, certain candidates’ realities might be a city abandoned to the ocean.

But we don’t have future-vision technology. We have to rely on public reports of the science and the meaning and what candidates say and whom they align with. There is guesswork. But the Republican Party has made it clear that they do not stand for or with the planet. They do not take the question of habitability seriously. They take earth for granted. They believe it will always be habitable and that people will just have to suck it up and die if their area is flooded or poisoned.

They certainly don’t believe that people whose homes are uninhabitable have a right to cross imaginary lines in violation of laws. If your crops wither and your soil turns to dust, that’s your problem (unless you’re their constituent, in which case, welfare).


The risk of all of earth becoming uninhabitable is low. The risk for parts of earth, currently inhabited, becoming lost, is a certainty. The longer that Republican policies remain in effect, that we do not take real action on climate change, the worse the consequences will be.

The Republican Party is free to abandon their broken thinking any time they want. They can choose to support the planet we need to survive. They should take the chance to do it before the public opinion climate changes on them, permanently.