A failure to anticipate

Reading the Mueller report, one of the things that strikes me is how inadequately prevailing laws anticipate what the Trump campaign did.

It should be trivial to agree that what the campaign did was wrong; after all, it knew of an attack against this country, failed to alert the government of the attack, and sought to benefit from the attack.

But the agency laws don’t fit the offense, the campaign finance laws don’t fit the offense, and the conspiracy laws don’t fit the offense.

So: Does all of that mean, as Trump seems to think, that there wasn’t any offense? Not in my book. What it means is conduct that was so low and unprecedented that Congress failed to anticipate it.

I do think, as I have said previously, that Trump et. al. gave aid and comfort to an enemy; the campaign committed treason.

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Bottled water: Maybe not a good idea

Longtime readers will recall that my nephew, Ryan, graduated from Wayne State’s journalism school a few years back. He is now an investigative journalist at Consumer Reports, and published yesterday a story that’s getting picked-up by local television stations across the country and, if the Mueller story ever dies down, could easily become a feature for national network news.

Over the past few years, as consumers have worried more about the quality of municipal tap water, bottled water has surged in popularity. It’s now the nation’s best-selling bottled beverage, according to the International Bottled Water Association. But a CR investigation has found that in some cases bottled water on store shelves contains more potentially harmful arsenic than tap water flowing into some homes.

I’ve read lots and lots of stories like this over the years, and almost always get irritated because the author fails to be mindful of the distinction between permissible levels of a contaminant and safe levels of a contaminant — a mistake that Ryan didn’t make.

So it’s a well done piece of work by somebody who was thinking as he went. Go take a look.

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Quote for the day

… the campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts …

The Mueller Report

As I wrote just a few days ago:

Treason is giving aid and comfort to the enemy — like when your campaign knows a hostile foreign power is attacking your country’s election, you seek to exploit the attack for your own benefit, you fail to notify your government that you have knowledge of the attack, and you seek to frustrate the subsequent investigation of the attack.

Again: Why should Trump not be expected to answer a charge of treason?

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Misguided credit

Jesus and Mo satirizes the tendency to thank Our Invisible Friend for the work of men.

As longtime readers know, my son was born with an extremely unusual cardiac condition requiring years of sophisticated treatment, including a couple of very delicate surgeries; mercifully, there is now no reason why he shouldn’t live an ordinary life. I annoyed a lot of people through the years whenever I answered the exclamation “Thank, God!” with “I thank the doctors, the scientists, and the engineers who made the tools.”

All “God” gave us was a problem to be solved; it was disciplined minds that gave us a solution.

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Notre Dame

I suppose it’s unseemly to say so, but I’m indifferent to Notre Dame. Perhaps I would feel differently if I had once been there, but it’s more likely that if I had I would have felt irritated at the ostentatious wealth produced by a gaudy fraud.

A few things you are unlikely to learn from the news coverage.

  • As originally built, the high cathedral walls were profoundly unstable. The famous flying buttresses were a later addition, something I learned in a structures course as a civil engineering undergrad. Modern structural design incorporates shear-walls to overcome the problem, eliminating the need for exterior buttresses.

  • The Catholic Church pioneered modern distributed management. Have you ever wondered what is the difference between a cathedral and a church? Cathedrals served as “regional headquarters” and are headed by a higher-ranking Holy Man. Each cathedral, in turn, has “satellites” (local churches) whose staff are answerable to the big-shot who heads the cathedral.

  • The British author Ken Follett has written a wonderful novel about the politics, and architecture and engineering, of a medieval cathedral, The Pillars of the Earth. It’s a great yarn with a lot of detail, and well worth having in hand next trip to the beach.

  • It’s unlikely that Notre Dame, or any other of the hundreds of churches claiming crucifixion relics, actually possess relics of the crucifixion. Jesus was regarded as a common criminal by most Romans, and had a very small set of fans; it’s unlikely that those few fans rolled away barrels of souvenirs from the crucifixion, anticipating the day that every village church would aspire to boost its income by displaying a gen-u-ine splinter from the cross, or thorn from the crown, or knuckle from the thumb of some dead saint.

France has committed to rebuilding the cathedral, which is their business and allright with me; tourism supports a lot of jobs.

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