Risk perception, or why women are choosing bears

Now that the party has somewhat died down around the recent social media phenomenon of women saying they’d rather run into a bear in the wild than a random man, let’s look into why this is a symptom of a much greater problem in society.

And what is that problem? Risk perception and assessment.

In short, “I’d pick the bear” is another demonstration that people are really, really bad at understanding and perceiving risk, let alone assessing it. I said such in the comment on this video by The Prim Reaper:

My opinion on this whole matter is it’s also a symptom of a greater problem regarding risk assessment and perception. It goes beyond a woman’s perceptions of how much in danger she might be at any given time. That any woman would suggest she’s safer with any random bear as opposed to any random man means that those women really have absolutely no idea how to assess risk.

And it’s a problem not just with this. As we saw during COVID, people can be scared into complying with some very draconian laws and regulations all in the name of “safety” because they don’t understand how to evaluate risk. And I see the same in plenty of other circles as well.

First, let’s get this out of the way. Women, if you think you’re safer with a bear than with a man, you are demonstrably insane, completely out of touch with reality. While your absolute risk of being attacked by a bear is very, very remote, that is only because the likelihood you’ll actually encounter a bear in the wild is also very, very remote. Even if you regularly walk trails where bears live, the chance you’ll encounter a bear is remote.

And even if you did encounter a bear in the wild, what is the likelihood it’ll attack you? That depends on quite a few variables, one being how recently it ate. And if the bear you’re encountering is a cub… well your risk of getting attacked just went through the roof.

Whereas women encounter men all. the. time. Since, you know, we’re half the population. Yet the absolute risk any woman will be attacked by any man is actually fairly remote. And I mean genuine crimes here, not the crime of a man merely looking at a woman.

But how can you assess that risk? There’s a LOT of bad data out there, with everything condensed down to aggregate statistics that remove any nuance, however slight, making it largely not possible for the most part. And it’s nuance that’s needed to properly assess risk – such as the nuance that you have to actually encounter a bear to even have a risk it’ll attack you.

Sure in every major city there are regions therein where you likely shouldn’t go, where doing so will all but invite a higher risk you’ll become a victim of some crime or the need to defend yourself. And those areas tend to be readily apparent just by looking at them.

That doesn’t mean your risk of being victimized isn’t zero outside those areas. But your risk does drop substantially. Aggregate statistics, though, can make the opposite look true. And even within those areas, your risk of becoming a crime victim depends on details – i.e. nuances – that aggregate statistics leave out.

But if anything showed just how bad we are with risk assessment, along with acting like aggregate statistics actually mean anything more than just being an aggregate of something, that would easily be the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rather than try to enumerate all the things that went wrong, I’ll just give you Bill Maher’s “New Rule” segment from April 2022:

But there are plenty of areas in which we basically strap the entire idea of risk assessment and evaluation onto a rocket and launch it on a one-way trip away from Earth as if it was Voyager III.

It leads to the question of why people are so paranoid. Why has the idea of our risk perception and assessment become, largely, that if the risk isn’t zero it’s all-but-guaranteed to happen?

Simple: media hype.

Not just news media, mind you. Over the last 20 years, more and more people have been informing their worldviews online instead of through what has been called “traditional media”. And through “independent media” as it’s been called, narratives matter more than the truth. Which is why that’s now become the case with “traditional media”.

Because reality is boring. Scaring the shit out of people drives ad revenue.

And it’s through online content consumption that notions like this are perpetually reinforced despite not being true in the least:

And the narrative that women can’t walk out of their homes without fear of being raped is pervasive in modern society to the point where women feel they’re safer with bears than a random man.

Let’s not forget about “Schrodinger’s rapist”. This presented the idea to women that it was basically a coin flip of whether any random man would rape her. Remember the discredited “1 in 5 women will experience sexual assault” statistic? Apparently that has been upgraded to “over half of all women”. No, seriously:

The source being cited with those entries in the 2016/2017 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, which doesn’t say “Over half of women and almost one in three men have experienced sexual violence…” Instead it’s 1 in 5 women who have allegedly suffered sexual violence. And even that number is likely drastically overstating reality since it makes it sound like the United States is worse than some of the worst countries in the world and gives the impression that women literally cannot live anywhere without fear of someone raping them…

A corollary to this is “stranger danger”. Despite the fact the vast majority of child abductions are custody related, there’s still this pervasive myth that your children are always in danger of being abducted unless you’re watching over them every moment of every day. And mothers, in particular, are suffering the brunt of this since mothers are more likely to be castigated by the public or arrested by the police for taking their eyes of their kids for a moment.

And the helicopter parenting spurned on by the “stranger danger” phenomenon has led to some impaired outcomes with kids. It’s probably more destructive than absent fathers since helicopter parenting impairs a youth’s chance to increasingly assert their independence as they get older and reach adulthood.

Despite the fact that fatal interactions of blacks with police are extremely rare – No, seriously, they are extremely rare – paranoia runs rampant due to the over-hype of the media of incidents like the Philando Castile shooting, Eric Garner’s death, and the Michael Brown shooting.

Turns out that what drastically increases your risk of being killed by a police officer is violently resisting arrest or presenting a weapon. Same with shooting at police, such as the case of Dexter Reed when he emptied a magazine shooting at them. If you’re calm and cool in your interactions with police, regardless of your skin color, everything should go smoothly.

Statistics prove time and again that a public school is the safest place for a child to be, safer than being at home or being transported between home and school. Yet the anti-gun left has regularly called public schools “shooting ranges”. And the media over-hypes the notion as well by making it sound like it’s only inevitable that a mass shooting will happen at every school in the United States with bullshit like this:

There isn’t a standardized definition of a “school shooting”, which allows anti-gun groups to overinflate the numbers such that any shooting that occurs on or even nearby any school campus is counted, regardless of whether students were even in danger. Someone commits suicide in a school parking lot in the middle of the night? School shooting…

Again, scaring the shit out of people drives ad revenue.

In all seriousness, the risk that any children will be caught up in a school shooting scenario is so low that it really shouldn’t be scaring anyone. The Columbine-style spree shootings on school campuses is so unlikely an event that the Mother Jones spreadsheet that tracks spree shootings with 3 or more deaths includes, as of this writing, only 23 school events since 1982. About one every other year. Our schools are definitely not “shooting ranges”. And your kids are far, far more likely to die being transferred to and from school, especially if they are not being transported in a bus.

And the same with mass shootings. There is no standardized definition of “mass shooting” either, allowing for drastically inflated numbers to be reported. Something even Mother Jones, who is far from a right-wing publication, has called out. And a very striking omission from the Mother Jones spreadsheet is the 2024 Kansas City Super Bowl parade shooting in which only one (1) person was killed.

Vaccines are easily the best advance in public health ever, even more so than the discovery of antibiotics, allowing us to end the scourge of smallpox and polio – though polio is not quite completely extinct in the wild. Yet vaccine injuries and the discredited vaccine/autism link are continually proliferated by anti-vaxxers. Not COVID vaccine skeptics, mind you, because the COVID “vaccine” wasn’t actually a vaccine, but people who take something merely being called a vaccine as if you’re injecting autism into kids.

And on that front is also the people drastically overstating the risk to public health by those who don’t vaccinate. The TV show “House” helped that along by stopping short of outright stating that a mother who doesn’t vaccinate her child is condemning the child to a very early death. Despite the fact your risk of contracting any vaccine-preventable illness in any developed nation is… remote. Influenza is an obvious exception. And same with measles unless you’re in North America.

And contracting one is also not the death sentence it once was, at least in developed nations. Diphtheria outbreaks once wiped out households. Now we can treat it with antibiotics.

Being anti-vaccine is definitely a luxury, a privilege of living in a developed nation because vaccines have wiped out most of the greatest threats to public health. But the same can’t be said about handwashing. COVID brought this to the forefront. But as Bill Maher says in the above segment, people were taking it too far.

Because people were so afraid of COVID that they thought contracting it meant, at the least, a coin flip on whether they would be hospitalized, and probably another coin flip on whether they’d survive it.

Again, reality is boring. Scaring the shit out of people drives ad revenue.

And so we have women believing they’re safer with bears. Sorry, ladies, but you’re not Goldie O’Gilt.

Chevron had to go

During the Reagan years, the Supreme Court decided Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 467 US 837 (1984). And yes, it’s named for that Chevron. This ruling created was is called the “Chevron deference” or the “Chevron test”. To be brief, this is the Supreme Court decision that has allowed decades of ambiguous laws to remain on the books.

Now the deference didn’t allow the regulatory agencies to just write whatever regulations they wanted out of whole cloth. They still had to be authorized by statute.

The issue came down to what to do when the statute was somewhat vague or had potentially multiple interpretations. Rather than kicking the statute to the curb and throwing the problem back onto Congress to resolve, the “Chevron deference” allowed regulatory agencies to decide for Congress how the statute should be interpreted.

We saw this, most notably, in King v. Burwell. I wrote about that here.

So Chevron needed to be overruled to end that deference. In short, if a statute could be interpreted multiple ways, or there are demonstrable conflicts within the statute, Congress should be resolving that, not the regulatory agencies. So with Chevron out of the way, hopefully that’s what’ll happen. That the Courts will start declaring more statutes as unconstitutionally vague, shifting the burden onto Congress to amend the statutes in question to alleviate any ambiguities.

But as the Supreme Court would also note, the Federal judiciary has been, since Chevron was first handed down actually, turning away from it. Meaning it was really only a matter of time before it was explicitly overruled – similar to how Trump v. Hawaii explicitly nullified Korematsu, a decision even more wrongly decided than Plessy v. Ferguson.

Of note as well are the States that have explicitly barred their own Courts from using the Chevron deference – Arizona and Florida – or their Courts have issued rulings effectively nullifying Chevron within their own jurisdictions – Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

And now with Chevron out of the way, Congress will need to do their job and write clear and unambiguous statutes rather than leaving it up to the regulatory agencies to do their work for them.

And also of note is that the decision in Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo protected any prior decisions and rulings that relied on Chevron, regardless of at what Court, from being vacated. That does not mean those prior decisions cannot be revisited, and Chevron being overruled means those prior cases cannot be relied on as precedent to the extent they relied on Chevron. Only that those cases aren’t also explicitly overruled merely for relying on Chevron.

How NOT to assert your rights – “Florida man” edition

Thankfully I don’t really see these much. I last addressed a similar concept about 7 years ago, so let’s revisit since this one is calling out specific statutes.

And whomever made this is showing a Florida driver license, and the two noted statutes are from Florida’s books. So let’s start with those.

I am not required to sign [any citations] – §318.14(2)

Except as provided in ss. 316.1001(2), 316.0083316.173, and 316.1896, any person cited for a violation requiring a mandatory hearing listed in s. 318.19 or any other criminal traffic violation listed in chapter 316 must sign and accept a citation indicating a promise to appear. The officer may indicate on the traffic citation the time and location of the scheduled hearing and must indicate the applicable civil penalty established in s. 318.18. For all other infractions under this section, except for infractions under s. 316.1001, the officer must certify by electronic, electronic facsimile, or written signature that the citation was delivered to the person cited. This certification is prima facie evidence that the person cited was served with the citation.

So what does all of this mean? Well, as mentioned in the heading for this, the implication given in the sign is that a person receiving a citation is not required to sign it. Doesn’t matter what the citation is for. Whereas the statute clearly says otherwise.

The violations requiring a mandatory hearing, meaning you’re also required to sign the citation, include:

  • a crash involving the death or “serious bodily injury” of another person,
  • failing to stop for a school bus where required,
  • failing to properly secure a load in a vehicle or trailer, or
  • exceeding the posted speed limit by 20mph or more

And the “criminal” violations in chapter 316 of the Florida statutes would be those classified as misdemeanors and includes, among other things, reckless driving and “aggressive careless driving”.

And if you are required to sign the citation and refuse, that’s a second-degree misdemeanor under §318.14(3).

I am not required to hand you my license – §322.15

(1) Every licensee shall have his or her driver license, which must be fully legible with no portion of such license faded, altered, mutilated, or defaced, in his or her immediate possession at all times when operating a motor vehicle and shall present or submit the same upon the demand of a law enforcement officer or an authorized representative of the department. A licensee may present or submit a digital proof of driver license as provided in s. 322.032 in lieu of his or her printed driver license; however, if the law enforcement officer or authorized representative of the department is unable to immediately verify the digital proof of driver license, upon the demand of the law enforcement officer or authorized representative of the department, the licensee must present or submit his or her printed driver license.

(2) Upon the failure of any person to display a driver license as required by subsection (1), the law enforcement officer or authorized representative of the department stopping the person shall require the person to imprint his or her fingerprints upon any citation issued by the officer or authorized representative, or the officer or authorized representative shall collect the fingerprints electronically.

In subsection 1, the relevant words here are (emphasis mine) “present or submit the same upon the demand of a law enforcement officer”. This means if the officer tells you to hand over your license, you MUST hand over your license. There is no jurisdiction in the United States I’m aware of where that is not the case as laws regarding traffic stops are more-or-less universal, with some exceptions related to what may or may not constitute probable cause. And the officer will be inspecting your license and calling it in to make sure you are in lawful possession of a valid driver license card.

Thus I am not opening my window

Yes you are. Because…

I will comply with clearly stated lawful orders.

…lawful orders include commanding you to roll down your window to such an extent that the officer can see and identify you and verify that you are the person depicted on the driver license. As already mentioned, it is a lawful order for the officer to command you to hand over your driver license.

On proof of insurance, though, Florida statute doesn’t require you to actually hand over the proof of insurance, but merely display it to the officer. And most of us probably don’t carry a paper copy of our proof of insurance anymore, instead relying on an app from our insurance company. Which is how I do it, relying on the GEICO app – though there has been a time or two when even that hasn’t cooperated.

And, ultimately, a law enforcement officer always has the option to order you out of the vehicle, and they don’t need to state a reason.

Refusing to obey the commands of a law enforcement officer is a first-degree misdemeanor under §843.02. And as already stated, if you are required to sign the citation and refuse – which the above clearly indicates they may refuse – that’s a second-degree misdemeanor under §318.14(3). Both of which subject you to arrest, and the officer will use whatever force is necessary to effect that arrest. And if you resist, that only ups the charges more. And if you are arrested, your vehicle then becomes subject to a search incident to an arrest.

I’ve said before that you don’t need to be infinitely cooperative with an officer, but don’t be an asshole during the traffic stop either. And don’t have a sign like the above in your car window. It just makes you an asshole. And guarantees you’ll get a citation every time, so forget about being let off with a warning.

Sales taxes and shelf prices in the United States

One of the many complaints the rest of the world has with the United States, and it’s one on which I share some sentiment, is with a particular part of our tax policy: that we don’t include sales taxes in the shelf price. And there are a couple reasons why, starting with…

More than one tax

One thing much of the rest of the world forgets or never understands is the United States is a federated constitutional republic of 50 sovereign States. Note that word: sovereign. Each State has sovereignty separate from the United States. Each State has its own laws separate of everyone else. Meaning they all have their own taxes.

But within each State, we also aren’t paying just one sales tax.

Every State empowers their counties and municipalities to enact their own taxes to raise revenue for their own expenses. Property taxes are a classic example. As is sales taxes. Five States do not have a statewide sales tax: Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon.

But in every city in every other State in the United States, you’re subject to the statewide sales tax and the city sales tax where the transaction takes place. You may also be subject to a third tax, that being the county level. And possibly additional “local option” taxes or other special sales taxes.

Okay, not really a valid excuse. Just include all of that in the shelf price, right? Well that’s not so easy because of math. More specifically…

Fractional pennies and rounding

This is the main crux of the matter. Let’s lead with an example.

On a recent grocery store run, I bought just 1 item for $12 – it was a take & bake lasagna. The e-receipt shows three taxes applied to it: 2% to Kansas, 1.48% to Johnson County, and 1.38% to Lenexa. On the one item, that came to about 58 cents in sales taxes.

And calculating those three taxes, the 2% one is straightforward, just 24 cents. But the 1.48% and 1.38% include fractions of a penny – 17.76 cents and 16.56 cents, respectively. So the total is 58.32 cents, which gets rounded off at the register. And as most items on the shelf are not even dollar prices, you’re pretty much guaranteed to have factional pennies coming into play. With the lasagna, if the shelf price was $11.99 instead of an even $12, the sales taxes would be 23.98 cents, 17.74 cents, and 16.54 cents.

So including the sales taxes in the shelf price introduces a bit of a dilemma when you start talking about far more than just one item.

Round down and you deprive the government of tax revenue it’s entitled to by law when you aggregate that rounding across billions of line items per day. With the lasagna, rounding down would mean 17 cents and 16 cents on the county and city taxes, respectively, or 57 cents total taxes collected. And if the shelf price was $11.99 instead of an even $12, it would be 56 cents total since the 23.98 cents would be rounded down to 23 cents.

Round up, though, and the government collects more than the law permits. Which is illegal.

Round off at all, up or down depending on where the numbers fall, and it could go either way. In the example with the $11.99 shelf price, all three taxes would be rounded up, meaning, again, the government would be collecting more than the law allows.

The best way to ensure the tax calculation is fair to all parties involved is calculating the sales tax across the aggregate totals of eligible items at the register, then rounding to the nearest penny. This also avoids the complication of having to account for fractions of a penny in the inventory and pricing systems, which likely aren’t coded to accommodate that. Along with separate values being tracked for each sales tax collected, meaning separate aggregations.

It’s just easier, overall, and more fair calculating the taxes on the subtotal.

Sure it does mean you can’t know till the final total how much you’re going to be spending, and people have been burned by that. But that’s also why you should keep a ballpark percentage in your head of how much over the shelf price you’ll likely be paying for something.

If you’re only paying one sales tax, and that sales tax doesn’t result in fractions of pennies (which can only happen if all shelf prices are even dollar amounts), including it in the shelf price is relatively easy. But we aren’t doing that in the United States.

But that also doesn’t mean we’re doing sales taxes wrong, which is largely the implication whenever anyone points out that the United States is doing something different from the rest of the world.

Bump stocks and automatic operations

So according to the ATF and Sotomayor’s dissent in the “bump stock” case, Garland v. Cargill, these two operations are identical:

rm *.NEF


rm DSC_0001.NEF
rm DSC_0002.NEF
rm DSC_0003.NEF
rm DSC_0004.NEF
rm DSC_0005.NEF
rm DSC_0006.NEF
rm DSC_0007.NEF
rm DSC_0008.NEF
rm DSC_0009.NEF
rm DSC_0010.NEF
rm DSC_0011.NEF
rm DSC_0012.NEF
rm DSC_0013.NEF
rm DSC_0014.NEF
rm DSC_0015.NEF
rm DSC_0016.NEF
rm DSC_0017.NEF
rm DSC_0018.NEF
rm DSC_0019.NEF
rm DSC_0020.NEF

Yeah, obviously not. Sure they might have the same result, but they aren’t identical in operation.

The first command automatically removes all files matching the wildcard, similar to holding the trigger on a machinegun, with Ctrl+C to interrupt the operation before it completes being the same as removing your finger from the trigger before the magazine is emptied. The second list of commands is removing each file you want to delete individually, which is the same as pulling the trigger for each round you want to fire.

And the equivalent of a bump stock is taking the second list of commands and putting it in a script.

The Supreme Court got it right here in ruling that bump stocks don’t convert a semi-automatic firearm into an automatic firearm. Just as putting a list of rm commands in a script doesn’t make it the same as an rm command using a wildcard.

Now the Supreme Court did NOT say that bump stocks are protected by the Second Amendment. They said only that the ATF exceeded its authority in conjuring a rule that attaching a bump stock to a rifle makes it a machinegun. Congress can still act and make bump stocks illegal – though I doubt they will since all legislative attempts at Congress failed.

But 15 States have banned them, and those bans are still in effect after today’s ruling.

Challenging a repeal

So a UNANIMOUS decision by the Supreme Court in FDA v. Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine quashes the entire lawsuit several pro-life groups brought against the FDA regarding mifepristone (i.e., the “abortion pill”), saying the groups who brought the lawsuit do not have standing.

Which makes sense.

This whole case stems from the fact the FDA relaxed regulations on the administration of mifepristone. That is, in effect, a repeal in part of a regulation. And while the Supreme Court stopped short of saying this, I’d argue that when the government repeals anything, be it a statute or a regulation, in whole or in part, NO ONE has standing to challenge that. The ex post facto provision of the Constitution is the reason why, since it means that any repeal applies only going forward.

Imagine if religious organizations or members of the military filed suit against Congress over the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010…. How exactly would they have Article III standing for such a case?

How would anyone have standing to challenge a repeal of a law or regulation? I personally cannot think of a single circumstance where the government repealing a statute or regulation, in whole or in part, is something anyone would ever have standing to challenge.

It’s enacting new laws or regulations that has that potential, but not until those laws or regulations are enforced, and only those upon whom those new laws or regulations are enforced have standing to challenge said laws or regulations.

But challenging a partial repeal of a regulation? Seriously? Again, how could anyone have standing to challenge that?

About that Hope Woodard video

If you have no idea who Hope Woodard is, don’t fret. I didn’t either until Courtney Ryan’s video on the matter showed up on my YouTube feed:

Now the original TikTok video is gone. From looking around other comments sections, Hope was apparently getting… rape and death threats for this video. Who knew this would be a touchy subject? Anyway…

First, let’s go over what Hope said:

I was with a friend of mine yesterday, and we were getting a piece of pizza. And one of the guys behind the counter, he was so cute. And we did have a little smile exchange.

And she goes, “Oh my gosh.” And then she goes “Hope, you have to teach me how to flirt.”

And I was like, “Well okay.” So I just wrote my number down on a napkin and I gave it to him.

And she was like, “I can’t believe you did that so easy. What if he has a girlfriend?”

And I said “What? I’ll probably never hear from that guy. I don’t care about him. I don’t know him. He might have a girlfriend. I hope he does. I bet she’s beautiful. And I think he treats her well. You don’t give your number away, you don’t flirt because you really, really want something. You just flirt because it’s fun. Who cares about that guy? You think I’d ever actually like him. No offense, he works at a pizza shop. All love, I’m sure he’s in a great band.”

But anyways, this is your sign. Give your number away today. But when you give it away, don’t expect anything. Because it’s not for them. It’s for you.

It seems everyone, including Courtney, got hung up on her words about the pizza guy, despite the fact she didn’t say much about him. She’s just not into guys who work at pizza parlors. And she just wasn’t that into this specific guy. Why is that such a big deal? And I mean that in all seriousness, why is this such a big deal?

And her message is completely lost (and now deleted) by people who got hung up on it. Do people think she was saying those things right in front of the pizza guy?

Or is her honesty the issue? Sure, she took a slight jab at his job with her honesty that she doesn’t think she’d ever like him because he works at a pizza shop, but otherwise hopes he has a good life and a beautiful girlfriend he treats very well. And I know there’s been a lot of backlash in recent years about women having unreasonable and unrealistic preferences. But what about not wanting to date a guy who works at a pizza parlor is unreasonable or unrealistic?

Did she denigrate pizza guys? No. She didn’t say anything degrading about the work or food service in general. She just said she wouldn’t date someone who works at a pizza shop.

So where exactly is the problem here?

Flirting and being a flirt

And it seems a lot of people have no idea what flirting is or what it genuinely looks like, since a lot of people have also taken issue with what Hope said about flirting despite her being absolutely right. Flirting is entirely about fun. Acting amorously without serious intent. I wrote an entire article about it.

It isn’t flirting if your intentions are for more than having a fun few moments with someone. Let me repeat that: it is NOT flirting if your intentions are for more than having a fun few moments with someone. And she had a fun few moments with him. Smile exchange, scrawling down her number without a care for whether he calls or texts.

And also having the confidence in herself to just… scrawl down her number and hand it to him. Note that word: confidence. It’s important.

I do still have some degree of social anxiety. Being a street photographer has allowed me to overcome that. Since I wouldn’t be getting the shots if I didn’t get over myself and take the risk in approaching people.

And much like Hope’s friend in the above video, there’ve been plenty of photographers who have flat out asked me how I get the shots. “How do you do it?” And I tell them… I just do it. Though I’ve yet to openly demonstrate that in front of another photographer in much the same way Hope did with her friend. It would absolutely be very interesting if that chance arose. Perhaps I need to start wearing a body camera and posting videos of that to YouTube and TikTok. And then watch all the hate come in about how I’m bothering women, and how they’re just agreeing because they’re afraid of how I’ll react if they say No, and bullshit like that. Anyway…

Her message

What was Hope’s overall message that got lost in the noise over the pizza guy? It’s the same as what I just said about my street photography, and it’s much the same message in other videos about dating on her TikTok channel: get over yourself. In her case, it’s get over yourself and give out your number, even if you aren’t serious about doing anything with the people you’re giving it to.

Since you miss every shot you don’t take. But you need to get over yourself and put yourself out there and take those risks to boost your self-confidence to get the partner you ultimately want. Not to tell yourself “I hope they call or text”, because then you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Whereas if you keep your expectations low and don’t care whether they do call or text, there’s no risk of disappointment. Instead the risk is one of surprise if they do reach out.


And it’s wild the assumptions people are making about her. Just as you shouldn’t judge an entire relationship from one video on TikTok, something that is unfortunately extremely common, it’s equally unwise to judge an entire person based on one TikTok video. And in a rather telling fashion, everyone who is saying Hope is in the wrong for “judging” the pizza guy – despite there being no judgment or denigration at all – are judging her based on a few lines from one video.

Courtney in the video above even does much the same. She describes the video as “really… cruel?”, “disappointing”, and “unnecessarily mean”, and misinterprets the video as “essentially making fun of [the pizza shop worker]”. I’m pretty sure we were watching the same video, but her interpretation of it definitely makes it sound like we weren’t. It’s like summarizing a movie from a handful of scenes despite watching the entire thing.

Again, sticking to what Hope said about the pizza guy and largely ignoring everything else. All because she openly admitted to…. having a preference.

Give me a break.

Hope didn’t do or say anything wrong here. Everyone just needs to lighten the fuck up.

Lavazza and the point of diminishing returns

One concept I feel a lot of people in the espresso communities need to learn, or re-learn, is “point of diminishing returns”, sometimes also called the “law of diminishing returns”. It’s a concept I recently recalled when talking about photography equipment. In short, it’s the point after which you are no longer getting value commensurate to the money you are spending.

The idea comes up a lot with gaming computers and selecting parts and trying to find the optimal point in terms of price versus performance, enthusiasts nothwithstanding.

With photography equipment, the concept is the same. Are you shelling out for a 60+ MP camera, or 100+ MP medium format, for photos that will only ever be seen on a computer screen? Would a 20MP or 24MP camera work just as fine for where you’re publishing photos?

And with espresso, the question really needs to be asked regarding not just equipment – e.g., machines like the Decent DE1 lineup – but also coffee. There’s this obsession among espresso enthusiasts with roast date. And I get it, since the fresher off the roast date you can get, the better the coffee is going to taste, since coffee does go stale unless it’s properly stored. That’s the narrative everyone is being sold.

“Buy local!”

“Avoid mass produced coffee!”

“Starbucks is the devil!”

I’m sure we’ve all heard these at one point or another. And with COVID, the emphasis on “buy local” was apt since it was smaller businesses – including the smaller coffee roasters – who suffered under the government-mandated concentration of commerce to the largest companies.

And I fell for that spell as well.

Being in Kansas City the default name for coffee is The Roasterie since they’re… everywhere. Their Super Tuscan was my go-to blend till I discovered Messenger Coffee when I moved to Rosehill Point in Lenexa in 2016, which is right behind Black Dog Coffeehouse, a Messenger Coffee partner. I fell in love with the flavor and it fast became my default and the baseline against which I’d measure other coffees I would try.

When I moved to Kansas City, KS, after buying my house, I discovered Filling Station off Johnson Drive (across from Shawnee Mission North High School) is also a Messenger Coffee partner, so bought beans from them. I just prefer the convenience of doing that over ordering it online. And Messenger doesn’t allow me to order for pickup at their plant like The Roasterie.

Then I lost my job.

Living off savings and having to cut back meant cutting out Messenger Coffee and its nearly $2 per day expense on beans. 18 USD for a 12oz bag of whole beans that lasted typically about 10 days with my normal rate of consumption. That wasn’t the only reason I looked for alternatives. As about the time I lost my job, Messenger was making changes to their branding and product lineup with their partners that I didn’t like. So the timing was perfect for finding a new direction.

After the spectacular failure that was Verena Street “espresso”, I recalled a coffee brand I’d encountered early on when I first looked at making a home espresso setup: Lavazza.

And, even better, it was available on Amazon and could be delivered overnight. A 1kg bag of the Lavazza Espresso 5/10 intensity blend for $19 including the overnight delivery charge and sales taxes. Almost 3x the coffee for the same price I was paying for Messenger’s Relay Espresso blend.

Let me repeat that: 3x the coffee. For. the same. price.

I wasn’t too keen on the flavor profile for that one, so tried the Barista Gran Crema 7/10 intensity for about 3 USD more, and I’ve stuck with that since.

So when I recalled the concept of “point of diminishing returns” when discussing photography equipment recently, it brought me back to coffee and how, for the last several months, I’d been buying a mass produced brand for a fraction of the price of the local roast that had become my default.

And it brings up this question: is Messenger Coffee two to three times better than Lavazza? No.

Indeed the flavor profiles are pretty similar, but Lavazza’s Barista Gran Crema actually wins out for me. I’m not a coffee enthusiast with a sophisticated palate and taste detection that rivals the best sommeliers. And my unemployment had me realizing that the more expensive coffees fail when it comes to the value proposition.

And with my Airscape canisters, the beans stay reasonably fresh for about the entire month the bag has no issue lasting. (Though I will soon be looking into a mason jar vacuum sealer for storing coffee beans over using the Airscape.)

I’ve said before that we need to stop complicating espresso. And that really also needs to start with the coffee. Go with a local roaster if you want and, more importantly, can afford to. But don’t dismiss the value question and avoid larger brands like Lavazza and Illy simply to… avoid the larger brands. Don’t be afraid to explore. Don’t fall for the spell of the roast date and avoid adding larger roasters into that exploration.

You might find something you like that will also save you a ton of money in the long run.

Revisiting Trump and the Fourteenth Amendment

So the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that States cannot exclude former-President (and current Republican front-runner) Donald Trump from their Republican primary ballots. I wrote an article basically saying much the same back in November 2022.

So where did the Supreme Court and I agree, and where did we not?

“officers of the United States”

First off, let’s get this out of the way. While it was argued by Trump’s attorneys that the President is not an “officer of the United States” as inferred in the Constitution, the Supreme Court ultimately did not rule on that point.

But they didn’t need to. Because it isn’t yet relevant.

For it to become relevant, two things would have to happen, in this order:

  1. Trump, or another former President, would need to be convicted in a Federal Court under 18 USC §2381 or §2383, with that conviction not being vacated by a Court, and
  2. They would then need to win the election for the office of President.

And given the likelihood for this to happen, this is a question that will likely never be addressed simply because it won’t ever need to be.

Section 5

This was really the entirety of the Supreme Court’s ruling. Section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment says simply, “The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.” So Congress alone is granted that authority by the Fourteenth Amendment.

Its ratification did not stop ex-Confederates from seeking and being elected to Federal office. The issue was simply Congress had yet to define an enforcement mechanism, meaning, by default, Congress never saw the Amendment as self-enforcing. And Section 5 explicitly disavows any idea that it is self-enforcing.

Congress’s Section 5 power is critical when it comes to Section 3. Indeed, during a debate on enforcement legislation less than a year after ratification, Sen. Trumbull noted that “notwithstanding [Section 3] … hundreds of men [were] holding office” in violation of its terms. Cong. Globe, 41st Cong., 1st Sess., at 626. The Constitution, Trumbull noted, “provide[d] no means for enforcing” the disqualification, necessitating a “bill to give effect to the fundamental law embraced in the Constitution.” Ibid. The enforcement mechanism Trumbull championed was later enacted as part of the Enforcement Act of 1870, “pursuant to the power conferred by §5 of the [Fourteenth] Amendment.” General Building Contractors Assn., Inc. v. Pennsylvania, 458 U. S. 375, 385 (1982); see 16 Stat. 143–144.

I mentioned the Enforcement Act of 1870 in my previous article. It provided for a “writ of quo warranto” for removing any person who was holding any Federal office in violation of Constitutional requirements – it was not limited only to the Fourteenth Amendment. Currently there is no Federal “quo warranto” statute. Instead that power is held by the District of Columbia with authorization by Congress and adjudicated by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.

And absent “quo warranto”, Congress has absolute authority to impeach someone who is holding an office without proper qualification. The House and Senate have the unquestionable authority to refuse to seat and to eject someone who is not qualified to hold a seat in the respective Chambers.

For example, if it was true and could be proven that Obama was not a natural born citizen of the United States, the House absolutely could have him impeached on that point. Same for any person who was convicted of treason, insurrection, or, largely, any crimes against the sovereignty of the United States. The House and the Senate have that unquestionable, irreversible authority.

After the Enforcement Act of 1870 was largely repealed following the Second World War, the only direct enforcement mechanism for Section 3 left intact is the Federal criminal statutes for treason and insurrection, 18 USC §§2381, 2383, respectively.

So, in short, only Congress has the power to enforce Section 3, contrary to the assertions of the State of Colorado. And the Supreme Court also used much the same assertions to back up their reasoning that I used in my article.

Separate sovereigns

The Court also highlighted a complication that we’re already seeing. “The result could well be that a single candidate would be declared ineligible in some States, but not others, based on the same conduct (and perhaps even the same factual record).” And we’re already seeing this.

Due to the separate sovereigns doctrine.

Normally this doctrine is applied with regard to the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment, but the concept is apt here. Each States is the controller of their own elections, deciding who has access to their ballots and who does not. This is why candidates for President have to gain approval from each State individually to be on the ballot in that State. There is no overarching Federal qualification process each State must honor – though that’d make Federal elections for third party candidates far easier.

Did they go too far?

Justices Barrett, Sotomayor, Kagan, and Jackson alleged in the two concurring opinions that the majority went a bit far in (and these are my words) “hammering home” the point that the States cannot enforce Section 3. But what they’re saying doesn’t seem to jive with the final decision of the Court, making me wonder if there was a much broader decision initially that was scaled back on the objections of the concurring Justices.

First, Justice Barrett:

This suit was brought by Colorado voters under state law in state court. It does not require us to address the complicated question whether federal legislation is the exclusive vehicle through which Section 3 can be enforced.

Reading the decision, I don’t see this occurring in the slightest. For one, the question isn’t complicated in the least. It’s straightforward. And the Court didn’t declare herein that Federal legislation is the “exclusive vehicle through which Section 3 can be enforced”. That had already been declared previously by Chief Justice Chase back in 1869. The Court herein merely reiterated it.

And Justice Sotomayor (with whom Kagan and Jackson joined) went so far into left field she hopped the fence and kept going. Again, I wonder if there was initially a much broader opinion that was then scaled back after Barrett and Sotomayor wrote their concurrences. This sentence in Sotomayor’s opinion gives reason to believe this: “They decide novel constitutional questions to insulate this Court and petitioner from future controversy. Ante, at 13.” Except there is nothing on page 13 matching what she is describing.

What was initially there?

Yet the Court continues on to resolve questions not before us. In a case involving no federal action whatsoever, the Court opines on how federal enforcement of Section 3 must proceed. Congress, the majority says, must enact legislation under Section 5 prescribing the procedures to “‘”ascertain[] what particular individuals”’” should be disqualified. Ante, at 5 (quoting Griffin’s Case, 11 F. Cas. 7, 26 (No. 5,815) (CC Va. 1869) (Chase, Circuit Justice)). These musings are as inadequately supported as they are gratuitous.

Note the year on the “Griffin’s Case” citation. 1869. The year after the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified. And the year before the Enforcement Acts of 1870 were passed into law under President Ulysses S. Grant.

More specifically, Chase issued his opinion in May 1869. Senator Trumbull, noted above, said what is quoted on April 8, 1869. So Senator Trumbull also recognized what Chief Justice Chase would eventually rule: that the Amendment required an enforcement mechanism for removing ex-Confederates who were disqualified by the Fourteenth Amendment and that no such enforcement mechanism yet existed.

Now the object of the amendment is to unseat every officer, whether judicial or executive, who holds civil or military office in contravention of the terms of the amendment. Surely a construction which fails to accomplish the main purpose of the amendment, and yet necessarily works the mischief and inconveniences which have been described, and is repugnant to the first principles of justice and right embodied in other provisions of the constitution, is not to be favored, if any other reasonable construction can be found.

Is there, then, any other reasonable construction? In the judgment of the court there is another, not only reasonable, but very clearly warranted by the terms of the amendment, and recognized by the legislation of congress. The object of the amendment is to exclude from certain offices a certain class of persons. Now, it is obviously impossible to do this by a simple declaration, whether in the constitution or in an act of congress, that all persons included within a particular description shall not hold office. For, in the very nature of things, it must be ascertained what particular individuals are embraced by the definition, before any sentence of exclusion can be made to operate. To accomplish this ascertainment and ensure effective results, proceedings, evidence, decisions, and enforcements of decisions, more or less formal, are indispensable; and these can only be provided for by congress.

Now, the necessity of this is recognized by the amendment itself, in its fifth and final section, which declares that “congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provision of this article.”

There are, indeed, other sections than the third, to the enforcement of which legislation is necessary; but there is no one which more clearly requires legislation in order to give effect to it. The fifth section qualifies the third to the same extent as it would if the whole amendment consisted of these two sections. And the final clause of the third section itself is significant. It gives to congress absolute control of the whole operation of the amendment These are its words: “But congress may, by a vote of two-thirds of each house, remove such disability.” Taking the third section then, in its completeness with this final clause, it seems to put beyond reasonable question the conclusion that the intention of the people of the United States, in adopting the fourteenth amendment, was to create a disability, to be removed in proper cases by a two-thirds vote, and to be made operative in other cases by the legislation of congress in its ordinary course. This construction gives certain effect to the undoubted intent of the amendment to insure the exclusion from office of the designated class of persons, if not relieved from their disabilities, and avoids the manifold evils which must attend the construction insisted upon by the counsel for the petitioner.

It results from the examination that persons in office by lawful appointment or election before the promulgation of the fourteenth amendment, are not removed there from by the direct and immediate effect of the prohibition to hold office contained in the third section; but that legislation by congress is necessary to give effect to the prohibition, by providing for such removal. And it results further that the exercise of their several functions by these officers, until removed in pursuance of such legislation, is not unlawful.

Now remember, this was before the Enforcement Acts. The Fourteenth Amendment declared a disqualification for office that took effect immediately upon its ratification, one that Congress could remove – and the Court noted in a footnote that Congress did just that with the election of Nelson Tift.

But the mere declaration of the disqualification isn’t enough since, as Chase and Trumbull pointed out, Section 3 is not self-enforcing. Congress must enact legislation providing for its enforcement. And that’s where the aptly-named Enforcement Act of 1870 comes into play.

All the Court said in the majority opinion is simply that Congress alone has that authority.

All that, though, was repealed in 1948. What was left behind is the insurrection statute along with the “writ of quo warranto” process in the District of Columbia, along with, of course, the House’s impeachment power.

The Court today needed to resolve only a single question: whether an individual State may keep a Presidential candidate found to have engaged in insurrection off its ballot. The majority resolves much more than the case before us. Although federal enforcement of Section 3 is in no way at issue, the majority announces novel rules for how that enforcement must operate. It reaches out to decide Section 3 questions not before us, and to foreclose future efforts to disqualify a Presidential candidate under that provision. In a sensitive case crying out for judicial restraint, it abandons that course.

Again, the majority did no such thing. It said that enforcement falls only with Congress and that currently the only enforcement vehicle is, as mentioned, 18 USC §2381 and §2383. They didn’t address Federal enforcement of Section 3 in the slightest in what was published except to say, again, that only Congress can enforce it and highlight how it’s currently to be enforced.

But why did the Court do this?

In my opinion, it’s to foreclose any alternate ideas that might be brought before the Court as to how Trump might be declared ineligible under the Fourteenth Amendment. Such as, since the Court brought up Congress, attempting to appeal to Congress for a joint resolution or something amounting to a bill of attainder.

That’s the “hammering home” I mentioned earlier.

And I feel they did that to close any loopholes with the hope of keeping any potential future cases off their docket, since, this being an election year, any such cases would likely require expedited handling, disrupting their other business. So if they can prevent that by writing an opinion that says, in short, “States can’t enforce Section 3, and Congress can only do so via proper legislation”, then they’re closing the question on what Congress can do before it’s even asked.

No wiggle room. No loophole.

Inspect your holsters!

Holsters serve two important purposes: they carry your firearm and, more importantly, they retain your firearm.

The retention mechanisms in holsters are extremely important. Not only do they keep your firearm in the holster while you’re moving around, but should also make it so a random person isn’t able to just grab your firearm and run:

So if you don’t have a holster with good retention, remedy that shortfall. Now! (I personally recommend the ShapeShift from Alien Gear.)

But having the holster isn’t enough. You do need to periodically test the retention in your holster to make sure it not only still holds your firearm securely, but that someone also can’t just grab your firearm and unholster it.

Retentions wear out over time, so it’s important to periodically inspect them and replace the holster (or just the shell, if in the case of a lot of IWBs) if the retention is failing or not adequately retaining your firearm.

So what’s bringing this up? The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department (LASD) recently had an… incident. A 17 year-old woman managed to take a deputy’s firearm from his holster and turned it on herself:

It is alleged the female reached toward the deputy’s firearm and retrieved the firearm from the deputy’s holster. During the altercation, it is alleged that the female suffered from a self-inflicted gunshot wound with what we believe to be the deputy’s firearm.

Which given the type of retention in law enforcement holsters, that normally shouldn’t be possible. With heavy emphasis on NORMALLY. A worn or faulty retention could allow that to happen, though. In a comment on the article reporting this incident, I said this:

Okay the LASD needs to inspect everyone’s holsters to ensure the retention mechanisms are working as expected, or completely re-evaluate what holsters they’re issuing to their officers.

And depending on what actually happened, the Los Angeles Sheriff might order an inspection of every officer’s holsters just to make sure retentions are working as expected. Any that are found to be defective will be replaced. And there’s the possibility they issue completely different holsters to their officers.

But either way, the only person who should be able to unholster a firearm is the person wearing it. So if the young woman in question was able to unholster the officer’s firearm despite the retentions that should be built into that holster, it’s safe to say the retentions failed or were defective out of the gate.

So let this be a reminder to test the retention on your holster. And if you don’t have a retention holster, get one. Again, I recommend the Alien Gear ShapeShift and have been using it since I bought it nearly 6 years ago as of this writing.