Absolutely shameful: Texas governor dehumanizes shooting victims

Among others, Click2Houston.com (KPRC-DT) recently reported on the statements of our Texas governor, Greg Abbott, regarding the shooting of five people in a house in Cleveland, Texas. The official press release that our governor released used dehumanizing language, and I quote:

Governor Greg Abbott today announced a $50,000 reward for a Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) top 10 fugitive who is in the country illegally and killed five illegal immigrants in a shooting Friday night in Cleveland, Texas.

Over the years, there have been many moments where I was embarrassed to be a Texan. This is one such moment. Mr. Abbott speaks for himself and his personal viewpoint when he chooses to emphasize the immigration status of the shooting victims. It is patently obscene and devoid of decency to dehumanize those who have lost their lives in a tragedy like this.

To me, it doesn’t matter who actually wrote this. This is an official Texas government press release and the ultimate responsibility for the language used goes back to Mr. Abbott. Though I consider it far more likely than not that Mr. Abbott himself chose the language to use in this press release, he’s still responsible for it if that’s not the case.

What’s even worse, quoting the Click2Houston story, is that he only apologized for the error in fact when it turns out at least one of the victims was in fact in the country illegally:

“We’ve since learned that at least one of the victims may have been in the United States legally,” Abbott spokesperson Renae Eze said in the statement. “We regret if the information was incorrect and detracted from the important goal of finding and arresting the criminal.”

Better news comes later in the story:

Authorities have said the victims were all from Honduras but have not disclosed their immigration status. The local county sheriff, Greg Capers of San Jacinto County, said Sunday that he did not care about the victims’ immigration status and felt a duty to protect everyone in his county.

This is refreshing, especially since I am pretty sure San Jacinto County is a red (conservative-/Republican-leaning) county. This is the way it should be: human beings are a human beings and all have the same right to be safe and protected by law enforcement.

It’s an open secret that our immigration policies are broken and a lot of people in the country without documentation have crossed the border out of desperation. They come to the United States in the hope of finding a better life and being treated with compassion and dignity. My disappointment with our government goes far beyond just Mr. Abbott and a press release, though certainly that line in the press release is one of the more egregious failures of our government to treat people like human beings.

I used to wonder why some people hate the US so much. And now I’ve seen some of it. And honestly, it’s hard to blame them.

Indicted and arrested at long last

Picture taken by slowking4, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

In lieu of the usual link to a given news source for this, I’m instead going to link to the Wikipedia article “Indictment of Donald Trump” for reference. It is becoming more difficult to find news sources that don’t appear to be biased one way or the other.

In the past few days, we have finally seen the arrest and indictment of our former president (who I really don’t think is worthy of the title, but that’s another story). The charges are 34 felony counts of falsifying business records, each with a possible four-year sentence to be served consecutively, for a total of 136 years. From the Wikipedia article:

On March 30, 2023, Donald Trump, the president of the United States from 2017 to 2021, was indicted by a Manhattan grand jury for his alleged role in a scandal stemming from hush money payments made to the pornographic film actress Stormy Daniels prior to the 2016 U.S. presidential election,[2][3][4] making him the first U.S. president to be indicted.[5][6][7] Trump faces 34 charges of falsifying business records in the first degree.[8][9][10] In New York, falsifying business records is a misdemeanor, but can become a felony if done to further another crime.[11] The indictment raises novel and complex legal issues.[12][13]

While I believe it is unfortunate that an indictment of a former president was necessary, it is a relief to see that some government, somewhere, is finally willing to make a statement that nobody is above the law.

For the entire four-year term, and clearly for worse, Mr. Trump ran his presidency with the attitude that he was above the rules. With the New York indictment and the ongoing Georgia and federal investigations, it is finally coming to light just how far above the law Mr. Trump was willing to go.

I know in years past I have often been critical of certain actions by law enforcement and our court system. The reality is that when the laws are enforced equally and fairly and judges make reasonable decisions, I don’t have any issues. Some of the more prominent examples of law enforcement not acting in such a fashion, from past posts, would be when they shoot innocent dogs (and again a couple of years prior) and running a questionable crosswalk enforcement trap.

I don’t think the arrest and indictment of Mr. Trump falls into the category of a law enforcement screw-up. This is our legal system doing its job. This doesn’t mean Mr. Trump is guilty just yet; he is entitled to the same due process of law as the rest of us. Unfortunately, the next in-person hearing is not until December 4, meaning this will be anything but a speedy trial (though there is no guarantee it will go to trial, it is definitely expected).

Perhaps due to his high profile and the lack of likelihood he will become a fugitive, Mr. Trump was allowed to return to Florida right after the hearing. Due to bail reforms in New York (state), he was probably not required to post a bail bond, for better or worse. (The nice part about this is some of the conservatives might shut up about bail reform for a while.) Usually bail bond companies will require a defendant released on bond to call and/or sign in at the office periodically (often once per week). I’m not that worried about Mr. Trump as a flight risk, though some conditions should have been imposed on his pretrial release, as the events of 2021 January 6 have shown that he can be quite dangerous.

He was fingerprinted but no mugshot was taken; to be fair, I think we all know what he looks like by now. Again, I would suspect the mugshot to be another safeguard against a potential escape; however, I do think it would have helped send a clear message to Mr. Trump to have a mugshot taken that yes, we as a society are treating you like a criminal, former president or not. Fingerprints alone may or may not have accomplished this, as these days fingerprinting is also used for identification for professional licenses.

In summary, while this is an unfortunate chapter in American history in many respects, I fully support the district attorneys and court system in New York state in this effort, and believe the world will be a better place as a result of due process of law in this matter, including the trial.

On computing, technology, mishaps, and the importance of backups

I’ve had an interesting past couple of days. The short version for the non-nerds is that a computer improvement project completely went sideways, resulting in my having to restore from backups I made before I decided to start my “improvements”, then finding out those backups weren’t any good and restore from slightly older but more reliable backups.

For the nerds, the detailed version of it goes something like this:

  1. Back up /home filesystem just in case things don’t work out. This takes up ~380GB of a 480GB drive and is the whole reason I’m doing the rest of this. It takes two hours, and the completely inaccurate remaining time calculation isn’t encouraging. But it gets done… supposedly.
  2. Move root, swap, and boot manager (rEFInd) onto 120GB drive. So far so good.
  3. Resize filesystems on 240GB drive using GParted. So far so good.
  4. Try to expand /home to fill most of 480GB drive using GParted. Find out it’s going to take way too long, and it’ll be faster to just nuke and restore from the backup made in step 1.
  5. Restore from said backup.
  6. Wake up the next morning to find system won’t boot, it’s beefing about /home not being mountable (btrfs). Swear profusely.
  7. Wipe (run blkdiscard) on 480GB drive and try restore again.
  8. Reboot and find that the filesystem is still unmountable. Swear profusely again.
  9. Wipe 480GB drive again and format as ext4 instead of btrfs.
  10. Restore from last good Back In Time backup (that’s what is happening on the other computer right now as I write this).

The gist of it is partclone appears to have made a bad backup from btrfs, and I’m not sure if it’s operator error or an actual bug. I may experiment with much smaller filesystems to try and replicate it.

The moral of the story: Backup often and check your backups before you actually need them. For situations where a whole disk/partition backup is the best option, make a file-based backup as well just in case; while the former will be more faithful to what was actually on the disk, stuff happens and you will be glad the individual files are still around in some form when it does.

An open letter to Connor Ingalls regarding the image of pinball and its players

Mr. Ingalls:

I happened upon your story regarding the Myrtle Beach Pinball Museum as it was shared to one of the many pinball groups on Facebook which I follow. In general, I think it’s great that you are willing to cover pinball and help keep the game alive. Many people have assumed since it is difficult to find a pinball machine unless you know where to look that the game is dead, and that’s emphatically not the case, whether one is in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (as you are); Houston, Texas (as I am); or many other cities across the US or even around the world.

It’s also a good thing that you shine a spotlight on an antiquated and unenforced law prohibiting minors from playing pinball, in hopes of finally getting it off the books.

However, I do have a quibble with this particular wording in the story:

We informed [a 13-year-old pinball player at the Myrtle Beach Pinball Museum] of the ban, and asked if he would continue playing…it should come as no surprise, the type of kid who plays pinball, isn’t concerned with playing by the rules.

This, too, is antiquated and reinforces a stereotype about pinball players that, if allowed to continue, is going to hinder growing the game and the hobby for the new generation. I run the Bayou City Pinball League in the greater Houston, Texas, area and one of the founding principles of the league is that it is for law-abiding citizens of good character, and the goal I envision is to have a crime-free league one can be proud to be a part of with a clear “no gambling” policy. In addition to that, I endeavor for the league I am founding to be a visible representation of the good people in the pinball community via periodic volunteer initiatives (in the broader community, as opposed to simply volunteering at pinball shows and tournaments). I know of no other pinball league which has even tried to label itself “crime-free” or aim for such lofty goals; the other and more populated pinball league in the area, which I used to play in, most definitely does not at least based on what I have able to observe.

Simply put, I feel “the type of kid who plays pinball” should not be presumed any more of a rulebreaker than the type of kid who plays chess, baseball, football, basketball, hockey, soccer, etc despite past stereotypes which would state otherwise. Like the outdated law you mention in your story, these stereotypes should also go the way of the dodo sooner rather than later.

[also sent via email to  ]

Revisiting the Pacific Pro Football League

Back in 2017 February, I wrote a post about the planned upcoming Pacific Pro Football League. In general I was positive about the concept and had looked forward to seeing the new league.

Unfortunately, it appears that the organizers saw things differently. Arguably, the Pac Pro League was one of many casualties of the COVID-19 pandemic, since it was due to start play in 2020 July per Wikipedia. This is a pretty massive disappointment, especially given many of the other football initiatives that have come in the past few years: the Alliance of American Football (which unfortunately didn’t even last a full season), the (new) XFL (which is scheduled to be restarted soon), and the (new) USFL.

In any event, the existing effort was reformatted to a scouting event called HUB Football. It appears HUB Football has been successful as a non-contact training camp, even though games were part of the original concept and have yet to be held.

I wish HUB Football continued success. However, I also hope someone picks up the idea of the original Pac Pro League and makes it a reality. I believe there is a time and place for it and would still like to see it happen.