You could be forgiven for wondering if yesterdays’ murders by NFL players are CTE-related

“I can say he’s a good kid — he was a good kid, and I think the football messed him up.” — Alonzo Adams, father of Philip Adams, a former college and NFL football player, who killed five people and seriously injured another before killing himself yesterday in South Carolina.

Yesterday, the Palm Beach Sheriffs Office arrested former Florida State and New York Giants wide receiver Travis Rudolph was arrested for first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder in a South Florida double shooting.

It’s too early to say that Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is responsible for these killings. CTE is a condition that can result from repeated trauma to the head–like what happens to football players. We won’t know if Rudolph is a CTE victim until he dies.

At some point, Adams will have an autopsy, and we’ll know–but we’ll have moved on to the next thing by then.

Mike Webster was the center for the Pittsburgh Steelers during their glory days, playing for their first four Super Bowl winners (starting at center in Super Bowls XIII and XIV). He’s in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and was named to the NFL’s 75th and 100th anniversary teams, and the all-decade teams for both the 1970s and 1980s. He died in 2002 at the age of 50. He was shown to be disabled while he still played for the Steelers. After his career ended, he suffered from amnesia, dementia, and chronic pain. He lived his last years in his pickup truck and in train stations, in spite of offers to help him from teammates.

Former Steelers center Mike Webster

He was the first former NFL player to be diagnosed with CTE. His estate sued the NFL and won a $1.6 million judgement.

Since then, an All-Star team has come out as suffering from CTE-related maladies. Living players include Tony Dorsett, Mike Adamle, Mark Duper, Brett Favre, Bernie Kosar, Tim Green (a former NFL analyst and novelist), Leonard Marshall, Jim McMahon, Antwaan Randle-El, and Darryl Talley. Randle-El is just 41.

Deceased players include Dwight Clark, Frank Gifford, John Mackey, Earl Morrall, Bubba Smith, Ken Stabler, Aaron Hernandez, and Tommy Nobis.

Former Bears safety Dave Duerson, Falcons safety Ray Easterling, and Chargers and Patriots linebacker Junior Seau committed suicide. Duerson and Seau both shot themselves in the chest so their brains could be autopsied.

Former Chiefs Linebacker Jovan Belcher

Former Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher murdered his girlfriend (and mother of his child), then drove to the Chiefs practice facility and after talking to then-General Manager Scott Pioli, head coach Romeo Crennel, and linebackers coach Gary Gibbs, then shot himself in the head. His autopsy also found CTE.

Hernandez was found guilty of murdering a friend, Odin Lloyd in 2013. Hernandez was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. In April 2017, he was found dead in his prison cell in a Massachusetts prison after hanging himself with a bed sheet.

Former two-sport star Bo Jackson has said that if he knew about CTE, he wouldn’t have played football (and what a baseball star he might’ve been).

Bo Jackson wouldn’t play football if he had to do it over. And he doesn’t want his kids to, either.

It’s possible neither Adams nor Rudolph have CTE. It’s at least equally as likely that one or both do.

Settlements with more than 4,500 players and public pressure have prompted the NFL to amend rules to protect player, but there’s a high likelihood the league knew about the effects of concussions before that knowledge became well-established to the public. And to be fair, the NFL is the last stop for these players, most of whom have played football since childhood. Whatever damage was done, started long before they first put on an NFL jersey.

Unfortunately, because you can’t tell about CTE damages until someone dies–and because by the time players get to the pros, in some cases the damage may already be done, there’s a long road before these tragedies start to abate.

Most of the affected players loved the game, and found a way to focus and achieve. For some, it was a pathway to success that wouldn’t have otherwise been available,

I like football. I’d like to see my team, the Jets, become relevant again. But it bothers me that the sport I’ve enjoyed since Joe Namath days may be driving former players, and sometimes others, to early deaths.

Like Bo Jackson, if my children were interested in playing, I’d probably try to steer them elsewhere.

Football at all levels has started to respond to the CTE issue. Leading with you helmet when you tackle, for instance, has been a penalty for years. Concussion protocols are the norm at most levels of football. Rather than just hustling back out there so you can keep your job, you have to be cleared medically to play.

But in a sport like football, you’ll never eliminate all the head injuries. And there’s enough information available now that players aren’t ignorant of the risks.

In some ways, this is a problem without an absolute solution. In a free society, if someone wants to play football, they should be able to.

These stories will never fully go away. But hopefully as this generation of football players ages into retirement from the game, they’ll start to become less common.


Twitch adds terms to suspend people for outside activities; this is a good thing

The social media platform Twitch, which the young people use for all their gaming stuff, has added offline activity to the list of things that can result in discipline on their platform, up to suspension for an indefinite amount of time. Twitch is working with an “investigations law firm” to validate claims and will also include law enforcement evidence in determining its actions. It won’t take action until the investigation is complete.

Although the actions that could result in discipline include obviously illegal action, such as deadly violence, terrorism, sexual assault, and grooming children for sexual assault, they’ve said the guidelines are iterative, which means they’re likely to grow. The company, which is owned by Amazon, said it’s concentrating on the most harmful first.

Twitch is one of the channels used by professional gamers (God help us all) to monetize their gaming. If you talk to my son, he’ll tell you all about it (the same way I could’ve told you about the MTV back in the day).

In a sense, it’s where gamers go to work. They can monetizing their gaming on Twitch. If that’s the case, rather than being an intrusion on freedom, these moves could be more akin to a professional sports league suspending or banning a player for similar actions.

The move came after a guy named Dominykas Zeglaitis, an online personality, was accused of raping a woman who was intoxicated at a group video Zeglaitis appeared in. The Vlog Squad, an online group Zeglaitis was part of, admitted that Zeglaitis, charmingly known as Durte Dom, coerced two underaged women into a kiss after providing them alcohol. The women allege that they were too intoxicated to consent to the sexual situations they were put in.

Dominykas Zeglaitis, putz

If an athlete were accused of doing this–and if part of the accusation were confirmed–odds are very good that they’d be suspended based on the protocols agreed upon with that league’s collective bargaining agreement.

It’s possible, given things, that these requirements could extend beyond criminal actions, into the kind of perceived unfairness that’s prompting Republicans to want to strip social media liability protections under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. That hasn’t happened yet.

In the meantime, Twitch is a privately owned social media company that can revoke access as it sees fit. And there are worse things to do than to prevent people who violate the law from accessing social media, especially when those violations involve social media activities.


Libertarianism is dead

The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help. – Ronald Reagan.

CNN reports that a bill that would reverse a 28-year ban on yoga instruction in public schools stalled in committee. Republican opponents were worried that the practice would introduce Hinduism into schools. I’ve personally done Yoga by Adrienne two version of P90X yoga. A friend’s daughter teaches yoga. In my research about Fibromyalgia, yoga’s come up a lot as a tool to help reduce stress and fight the condition.

P90X’s Tony Horton, leading people to Hinduism since 2005.

The word Hindu never came up in any of that.

Mitch McConnell warned corporations to stay out of politics this week. His warning came after threats to pull Major League Baseball’s antitrust exemption after they moved the All-Star Game out of Atlanta. The Georgia state legislature is considering removing Delta’s break on jet-fuel costs, as well.

There’s more, but the point’s already been made.

The Republican Party used to have a strong libertarian streak, made obvious by President Reagan’s remark and approach to governing.

In the 1990s, Bill Clinton famously said “The era of Big Government is over.” These days, the era or big government being over are over.

Republicans, who used to believe that the government that governs least governs best, now believe that the government that intervenes as much as Democrats (but to a different end). No one in government believes in limiting government power or reach.

Government has a place in a civil society. As much as liberals like to claim libertarians would forsake the socialist fire and police departments and socialist roads and the like. Most libertarians understand that libertarianism doesn’t mean no government; it means appropriate government.

Government should do the least amount possible to maintain peace and reasonable fairness, and then allow people to make their own way.

Republicans would do better paying attention to financial shenanigans and working on creating reasonable tools to respond to things like worldwide pandemics, so we don’t unilaterally give control to whoever happens to head the executive branch. They could look for ways to prevent things like the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster.

Instead, they’re not only pandering to their base, they’re using their power to cook the electoral books and to punish anyone who doesn’t fall into line.

People who believe in limited government have no place to go. Libertarians don’t need to win every time to add value, but they should be there to act as a counterweight to the idea that every government solution just needs a problem to apply itself to.


When the government extorts companies into “right” thinking, that’s a scary development.

Eight Georgia state representatives have declared their offices Coke-free zones and have requested that all Coke products (there’s a lot more than you think) should be removed from their office suites because Coke has come out against Georgia’s voting legislation.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott declined an invitation to throw out the first pitch at the Rangers home opener after Commissioner Rob Manfred announced that the All-Star Game would be moved out of Atlanta this summer. Abbott also said that no city in Texas would seek to host the All-Star Game or any other MLB special event. (The Rangers are a likely venue for the All-Star game considering their new wareho…baseball palace built just outside Dallas.)

Globe Life Warehouse, the Rangers’ new baseball palace

Republican Senators Mike Lee of Utah and Ted Cruz of Texas have called for the revocation of Major League Baseball’s antitrust exemption because of the All-Star move. Cruz went so far as to post a list of MLB official sponsors, asking if they all hate the 75 million people who voted for Donald Trump.

To the best of my knowledge, no one has called for air traffic controllers to stop routing Delta flights after they criticized the new voting laws, but the week’s still young yet. But the Georgia state house voted to eliminate Delta’s $35 million jet-fuel tax break–it’s unlikely to become law soon. A similar tax break was removed after Delta stopped offering NRA members a discount, but it was quietly added back later.

The high irony of this is that Democrats were getting ready to boycott MLB, Coke, Delta, and other companies if they didn’t come out against the laws, and several have called for those companies to move their corporate headquarters (’cause that’s something you can do in the space of a week).

These companies didn’t act in a vacuum. Had MLB not acted, there’s a decent chance the All-Star Game could’ve been boycotted by its own players–a public relations nightmare no sane organization would want. And Delta, Coke, and the rest have to consider their employees and customer base.

In short, these companies can’t win. Either they hate (Senator Cruz’s words) every single person who voted against Trump, or they hate every single person who’s not a straight white Christian male.

In a free society, you get to disagree with the government. And while state legislators are free to stock their offices with what they want (mine stocked the fridge with beer and got after me if it didn’t get used quickly enough), state governments and the federal government shouldn’t be using their legislative powers to extort companies into supporting their legislative agenda.

Can you imaging the howling out of Ted Cruz and Mike Lee if Chuck Schumer threatened MLB’s antitrust exemption because they didn’t cut back enough on air travel (which contributes to climate change)? You wouldn’t need FOX News to hear them; you could just open the window.

We’re moving far past the time when you can have a legitimate disagreement without having to pay because a segment of society doesn’t like your stance. The difference is, the Democrats are massing on Twitter for a boycott, while Republicans are using the government to coerce companies away from wrong thinking, which will be punished, to right thinking, which will be rewarded.

I

One of those approaches is chillingly Orwellian.


Bad news: The Covid’s kicking our emotional asses. Good news: It’s time to kick back at it.

A recent poll sponsored by MessageEnvy has cast a light on the difficulties we’re having as part of the Covid pandemic, showing that it’s not just the financial and health-related stress we’ve had to deal with, but a litany of other stresses as well. Among the findings:

  • 40% haven’t recognized themselves in a mirror.
  • About half have negative feelings about their bodies or don’t have the same level of confidence they had before.
  • Of the 55% who said they’ve never had chronic pain, about a third say they’re feeling that pain now.
  • Almost half (47%) said their body is aching in new ways.
  • 58% said their new normal is inflicting wear and tear on their bodies.
  • Half said they feel drained by the general stress of the Covid pandemic while 46% said it’s the sameness that’s affecting them (testify!).
  • 31% want to obtain mental health counseling.
I could’ve put the Limu Emu here, but I’m not evil.

It’s reasonable to expect that the last 13 months have added weight to our existence. We’ve going through a pandemic, extreme (for this country) racial tension, an economic crash, and watched as this country came the closest its come in at least 150 years to a partial collapse.

The last 13 months, captured in one picture

Even now, as the rate of vaccination is increasing, it’s starting to look like we might not have the clean exit from the collective Covid imprisonment that we’ve been wanting. Though time will tell for sure, there’s a constant murmur that the increase of variants will eventually confound our vaccines and send us closer to square one than anyone feels like going.

If you aren’t feeling stress or concern, then you either have the greatest relationship with God in the history of Christendom, or you aren’t paying attention.

It’s reasonable to feel one or several of the things listed above. The sameness is really affecting me. Working from home is awesome, but it was nice to go into the office every now and again, just to be able to do it.

Of the bullets listed above, the last one is the most hopeful–almost a third see there’s a problem and want to do something about it.

A third want professional help. Bob Newhart’s happy to pitch in.

That’s the part we seem to forget sometimes.

If you’ve put on the Covid 19 (pounds), you have options. As winter recedes into the past, it’s easier to get outside. Just feeling sun against your skin is a plus. Considering that summer heat’s still a ways away, now’s the time to get out. You don’t have to run a marathon, but maybe a ten-minute walk’s a good place to start.

Diet’s always been a bitch for me. I certainly don’t eat the way I did when I was 17 (or 27), but keeping clean’s still a struggle for me. It’s a struggle worth having.

If nothing else, run the vacuum cleaner.

Personally, I’ve made a point the last several weekends to do something useful. I exercise, but I’ve also been making stuff. Just this morning, I ironed my two Hawaiian shirts that need it because I like wearing them.

Though the ghost of John Hillerman may yell at me and take away the wine cellar

We’re not helpless against the Covid or whatever level of lockdown we’ve decided to place ourselves under. Individually, we can affect every one of the maladies listed above, including chronic pain (food choices are central there).

Even if we have to fiddle around with stupid stinking Covid variants for longer than we want, the darkest part’s over. Now’s the time to start planting seeds for the best post-Covid life possible.

But the government can’t do that for you. Your preacher can’t do that for you. Neither Oprah nor Tony Horton can do that for you.

It’s up to you.

What do you do?


Moving the All-Star Game was a private organization making a business decision. I’d watch either way.

I just want to watch a ballgame.

Unfortunately, even baseball is a front on the cultural wars.

This year’s All-Star Game–the first since 2019–was scheduled to be played in the Atlanta Braves’ new stadium north of Atlanta. The stadium–Truist Park–opened in 2017 after the team completed its 20-year lease at Turner Field, close to downtown Atlanta and mass transport. Truist Park, originally SunTrust Park, is about 10 miles northwest of downtown.

Truist Park, the Braves baseball palace

In justifying the need for a stadium, the team said people stayed away because of the traffic and parking and that Turner Field “doesn’t match up with where the majority of our fans come from.” The team also said the stadium needed substantial funding for upkeep, as well as $200 million for upgrades to improve the fan experience.

Turner Field, the Braves’ hopelessly outdated 20-year-old stadium

Not everyone saw it that way. Some thought the team wanted to cater to white suburban fans, who didn’t want to attend a game in the predominantly black Summerhill neighborhood adjacent to Turner Field. At the time the move was being considered, Summerhill had a lower crime rate than some of the neighborhoods around the Braves new Cobb County home.

It’s no secret that the people in the Summerhill neighborhood aren’t likely to be Braves fans or baseball fans. While baseball has a diverse population of players, as of last opening day, less than 8% of players on Major League rosters were black. That’s less than half or what it was forty seasons ago (18.7%).

In addition, with 45% of black children living under the poverty line, it’s hard to justify the cost of equipment, let alone the increases cost of travel teams for the best players. While football’s more expensive to play than baseball, it’s appointment viewing seventeen–now eighteen weekends each fall. And basketball is culturally relevant, in part because all you need is a ball and a hoop to play.

Baseball has a demographics problem, one it’s trying hard to resolve. And the numbers, while low, are starting to increase.

The last thing it needed was a boycott of the All-Star Game–a marquee event in the dead spot between basketball and football–because of the recently passed election regulations in Georgia.

Because the Dodgers won the World Series last fall, manager Dave Roberts is set to manage the National League All-Star team. He said he would consider not managing the game. If he were to pass, Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts, one of the best players in the game, could reasonably be expected to follow suit. They might be the first dominos to fall, leaving baseball’s lack of popularity among blacks and low number of black players to be news fodder during the relative news doldrums of the summer.

Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts might not draw attention from potential black fans for playing the All-Star Game, but they’d notice if he boycotts.

The racial overtones of the team’s decision to move to the suburbs would’ve been frosting for the media’s inevitable feeding frenzy.

Moving the All-Star game was an inevitable business decisions for a sport that’s doing well, but looking at a potential work stoppage this winter, along with a fan base that’s aging and demographically shrinking (white dudes, like me).

While the All-Star Game isn’t the draw it used to be for me, if Major League Baseball hadn’t moved the game, I’d have watched baseball. Now that they have moved the game, I’ll watch baseball. It’s not a statement on racism, fascism, communism, voting rights, reasonable voting requirements, or anything else.

I like baseball.

I also don’t see an issue with requiring ID vote. But the Georgia law went well beyond that reasonable requirement.

And that’s not why the All-Star Game was moved anyway. It was a business decision made by a white man (Commissioner Rob Manfred) whose constituents (29 of 30 franchise owners) don’t want to lose money.

In a capitalist society, owners get to do things like that to maximize their investment. In almost any other situation, the people demanding a boycott over the move would be defending the owners’s rights to do as they please.


Fibro Saturday: How much should I share? plus minor updates, a Lady Gaga reference (she has it, too) and links.

Damn right I am.

It’s been almost two months since I’ve been diagnosed with fibro and sharing hasn’t been an issue. I posted here within a few days of the diagnosis and I shared it at work. At the time, I was missing work here and there and figured I should let them know why.

And I post here about it once a week.

After all, I’m a dude with Fibro. Not many of my people can say that, so I figured I should.

So you’d think I’d be past figuring out what to share, but I’m not.

Most of the information around the Interwebs is by people whose lives are significantly reduced by this condition. I’m in a few Facebook groups and very few of the posts are about how great life is in spite of everything. They’re hurting and looking for help. In many cases, their relationships and jobs have been diminished. Some are confined to a life that’s barely an existence.

That last thing I want to do is crap on those peoples’ experience.

That said, maybe it’s time to tell the other side of the story.

Since I got a little more serious about things, I’ve lost nine to ten pounds, depending on the day. (I only have fifty more to go.) My diet is cleaner. I’ve start cooking things so I can enjoy things I’ve avoided because of the crap that’s added when you don’t make it yourself. And I still manage to have a beer every now and again.

Finally, I’ve started walking, and then running again. I haven’t made up all the ground I’ve lost since things started to go sideways, but I’m closer. I’ve covered at least five miles (walking or running and walking) ten days in a row and at least four miles for eighteen days in a row. Since I started keeping track on Valentine’s Day, I’ve covered more than 200 miles. That’s just the start of what’s going to happen.

I’ve posted to this blog every day and submitted a couple short stories I really like to a writing contest. I’m working on first revisions to the most ambitious novel I’ve ever attempted to write.

In short, I’m doing what I can do to move forward anyway. Screw Fibro. It crushes other peoples’ lives and it may eventually do the same from me. Until then, I’m gonna continue kicking its ass. I want to run a 10K this fall8 and a half marathon over the winter. And I still want to run a marathon.

In the meantime, I intend to live my life in a way that minimizes Fibro’s impact to my life.

Dammit.

* * *

Update: I ran 6.5 miles this morning. That’s a 10K, baby. Now I’m scoping out half marathons for the fall, because why not? All of this is obviously day-to-day. I could wake up tomorrow and crash to the worst days of 2015, so I’ll take every day I can get and just kick the living crap out of it.

Food Update: Didn’t make anything new or exciting this week. Just the yogurt and granola, but we’re having turkey chili tonight and hoping that’s good.

Things I could do better:

  • I’ve been backsliding on the food, so I need to behave myself the next few days and re-establish some good habits. That’s vital if I want to continue.
  • I’ve done very little yoga and no meditating. I need to build that into daily life. My mindset’s been slipping a bit lately.

* * *

Links:


In some ways, maybe Good Friday should be more important to us than Easter

Even if you skip the beatings Jesus had before his execution, crucifixion is a brutal way to die. Your arms and legs are impaled to a rough wooden cross, which is then stood upright. You’re typically naked during your execution. What remains of your life is a choice between easing the pain in your feet and arms–at the cost of not being able to breathe, or pushing up on them to catch a breath.

It typically took hours to die. Breaking the legs of the condemned was considered a mercy, as it prevented them from pushing up and catching a breath. Death soon followed.

God allowed us to do this to him.

We did this to God and he didn’t destroy us. That’s humility. That’s love. That’s our model.

Love is giving someone permission to deeply hurt you and God certainly did that.

Personally, if you tortured me to death and I had the ability to call down a legion of angels to avenge me, anyone who participated in what happened would be a smudge on the ground.

Most Christians celebrate Easter, with Good Friday as a weigh station on the route to the resurrection. Good Friday is a bummer. Easter is a triumph, a chance to celebrate Jesus’s beating death and saving us all.

(If God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, then we already had the route to salvation; we just didn’t realize it.)

While Jesus rose on Sunday, it’s how he handled Friday that we should look to as a model, especially if you call yourself Christian.

A lot of American Christians say they’re persecuted, unable to practice their faith without some sort of risk. My pastor put that in perspective last weekend when he described discussions he had with Chinese pastors and the threats to their lives. Last I knew no one in the United States was disappeared for proclaiming Jesus.

But Jesus wasn’t about amassing power. If he were, he’d have been the political savior the Jews of the time were looking for. Instead, Jesus was an itinerant preacher. He allowed us to execute him in one of the worst ways we ever invented. A mighty leader who wanted political dominion for himself and his followers would’ve broken the people trying to execute him. Instead, he submitted both to the Roman and the Jews, but also to his Father’s will.

That means we’re called to be the same.

We aren’t supposed to worry about accumulating political power or demonizing our enemies or worrying about Lil Nas X’s sneakers.

Jesus didn’t die to make us powerful; he died to make us free. He died to show us that we could stand in front of God, having done our worst, and God wouldn’t destroy us. We know this because he didn’t destroy us when we murdered him.

We forget that too often. We assert our power in his name as if Jesus agrees with us. We spend too much time on the triumph of Easter Sunday, as if it were our triumph. When really Good Friday was our pardon, the tangible proof that God loved us so much that he wouldn’t avenge himself even when we murdered him.

In that regard, maybe Good Friday is the point and Easter is the end flourish that proves the point.

God literally had every right to destroy us and he didn’t. That’s love.

As a result, we’re not supposed to be loud and proud and powerful. We’re supposed to be moved to profound gratitude that God showed us that we could literally do our worst to him and that he wouldn’t destroy us.

PS — I’m not good at any of this.


I’d never want to be on the Derek Chauvin jury

When Casey Anthony was acquitted, I was on the fringes of an online conversation about publicly identifying the jurors on that case. The people having the discussion, who disagreed with the verdict, said they had a right to know, and that if the jurors believed in their verdict they should be willing to publicly stand behind it.

After the trial, juror number 12, a woman in her 60s who worked at Publix, quit her job and moved out of Florida as the result of the verdict.

Although, the jurors in the George Floyd trial haven’t been publicly identified yet, theirs is a difficult job. This Politico story capsulizes the fear in its lead:

One prospective juror’s voice quivered as she told attorneys during jury selection that she feared for her family’s safety if chosen for the panel that will decide the fate of a white former police officer charged with killing George Floyd.

If Derek Chauvin isn’t convicted of a material crime, it’s a safe bet that the same protests and riots that occurred after his death last year will occur again. It’s a similarly safe bet that the narrative after will be “We all saw Chauvin kill that man. For the jury to find what it did, they must all be racist.”

Derek Chauvin. Pool via REUTERS

Years ago, I was on a jury. Both the accused and the victim had a long criminal past. The case involved the theft of a cell phone. The accused’s, umm, narrative of what actually happened was so ridiculous that the prosecuting attorney verged on ridiculing him about it. I’m pretty sure he perjured himself and I was certain he stole the cell phone (later, he put it back, making us all wonder why we even heard the case).

But our job wasn’t to determine whether we thought the accused did it. We were there to determine whether the prosecution proved he did it beyond a reasonable doubt. In our assessment, they didn’t. Several of us on the jury really wanted to find this guy guilty, but the trial didn’t provide the proof we needed to do so.

The jury in the Floyd case has the same charge–determine whether the prosecution proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Derek Chauvin was guilty of the charges leveled against him. For any jury–this one, the Casey Anthony jury, the OJ jury–to ignore those rules and find on the basis of their thoughts independent of the proof provided in the trial is called jury nullification.

Personally, having done so once, I have no doubt in my ability to cast my vote based on the evidence provided, regardless whether I thought the accused did it.

Which takes me back to the quote from the Politico story.

It’s clear that the loudest voices concerned with this trial will expect nothing less than a guilty verdict on a charge that carries a significant penalty. It’s equally clear that some of those voices will be moved to anger and potentially violence if that’s not what happens. The juror referenced above, who was dismissed to her great relief, isn’t paranoid in her fear.

So what do you do if the prosecution doesn’t meet the standard for conviction?

The rules say to acquit. But if your name ever got out or if someone figured out you were a juror, everyone around you would brand you an accessory to a racially motivated murder. It would bring danger on you, your family, even your employer.

The people serving on that jury are taking that chance and should be applauded for it.

Regardless of the verdict, their privacy must be considered classified information, and in an ideal world, there would be criminal consequences for outing them.

Personally, I’m not sure I’d serve on that jury. If I did, and we did acquit, I would tell my entire family and all my friends to disown me as publicly as possible, for their own safety.

Maybe I’m paranoid about this and perhaps a touch racist myself.


DC’s proposed sugary drinks tax is patronizing, targets the poor, and doesn’t address the damn problem (brings in tax revenue, though)

One of the great parts about being a real grown-up boy, beyond saying up as late as I want (which isn’t that damn late any more) is the ability to eat and drink what I want, when I want. Outside my primary care physician, no one gets to give me crap about what I eat.

As a responsible adult, I like it that way.

Then again, I don’t live in the District of Columbia, which may enact a new 15 cents per ounce tax on sugary drinks, such as sodas, energy drinks, and sports drinks. Presumably, the big vat of desert you get at Starbuck’s that also includes seven drops of coffee isn’t part of this utopian plan to end all bad things in the nation’s capital.

41 million calories in this picture, but this is not a sugary drink in DC

The surcharge, which would be directly applied to the cost of the drinks, presumably as opposed to being added at the register. (That way it’s not the city government gouging you, it’s the soda company or the store.) It would add $2 to a twelve-pack of sodas.

The tax’s sponsor, council member Mary Cheh, calls it the Nutrition Equity Bill because…I don’t know exactly. I’m not sure how it’s equitable for people with money to jump in a car and drive to Maryland or Virginia to save money on their fix while people who can’t afford that are stuck paying more.

The goal is to reduce obesity and diabeetus, especially among lower-income neighborhoods, which have higher rates of both.

In council member Cheh’s world, it’s okay to extort money from poor people for drinking soda. Beyond that world, it’s not okay to have a conversation about obesity and diabetes, because of hurt feelings and body shaming. While it’s okay for Meagan Trainor to trash skinny bitches (it’s all about that base) and that’s okay, we all have to say Lizzo’s body is absolutely perfect the way it is and there’s nothing she might need to improve for health purposes.

In summary, there’s no problem that can’t be solved by adding to the city’s tax revenue.

What council member Cheh doesn’t take into account is the law of unintended consequences. People who aren’t inclined to eat veggies and tofu won’t start because you made their Coke fix more expensive. They’ll:

  • Figure out a way to get it from Maryland or Virginia, or
  • Switch to diet, which has its own host of health issues, or
  • Buy it on the newly established Mountain Dew black market, or
  • Cut back on the small amount of healthful food they do eat so there’s money for the Cokes.
Come on, man. The first one is free. You know you want it.

The money raised by the taxes will fund a program by which the District’s homeless shelters would be required to serve urban camping enthusiasts (the homeless) healthier meals because the only thing standing between them and health is the option of having riced cauliflower at the soup kitchen.

Some of the money will also be used for grants to support nutrition education, cooking lessons, and gardens at shelters and transitional housing.

Meanwhile, the evil capitalist oppressors (that is, taxpayers) will get all sugared up on their vanilla latte mochaccino belt buster while they run to the suburbs for a 19,000 calorie lunch of bacon-wrapped chicken strips fried in lard with a vat of Coke that would cost $12 million if it were served in the District.

Or we could start raising children that could be coached on healthful habits and the understanding that while Krispy Kreme’s are fun once in a while, the Krispy Kreme Diet will make you look like the Sta-Puft Marshmallow man, and raise Wilford Brimley from the grave.