April 30, 2012

Really Free


Posted by Dr. Frank at 02:14 AM

April 28, 2012

Where's the punitivity in that?

This guy was attacked (Tased and beaten up) by Portland police who mistook him for a graffitist as he walked home from a night of bowling. Four years later, he wins $250,000 in damages in a federal suit. The cops involved are still on the job, naturally. Since taxpayers, and not the officers, will pay the tab, there's little if any disincentive, on the ground, for repeating this process ad infinitum, which is without a doubt exactly what will happen. We haven't heard the last of Tasing and beating up suspected graffiti artists in Portland, OR, I reckon. Nothing unusual there -- that's the system we've got.

Incidental to this federal case, though, I assume, is this feature of Oregon law on the "distribution of punitive damages" cited by Radley Balko:

"60 percent of punitive damages awarded in suits like this go not to the brutality victim, but to a fund for crime victims. And another 10 percent goes to . . . a fund for Oregon state courts."
It's there in black and peach. So, apparently, the state (i.e. the perpetrators) gets a ten per cent commission on any judgment against it, while the victim only gets a small fraction of the total. Talk about screwed up incentives!

As for the 60% in the "criminal injuries compensation account," how does that work? Compensating criminal victims seems like a fine idea (if that ever actually happens) and I can see nothing wrong with establishing a fund for it. But it's a bit much, surely, for the state to fund the fund by stealing from punitive damages assessed against itself? Where's the punitivity in that? You know, I just sort of assumed that damages in cases like this actually went to the victim. It's almost as though the state is trying to discourage people from filing lawsuits against it. Even if that is the real reason, what is the stated rationale for depriving the victim of damages in his own case? How common is this sort of arrangement among the states, anybody know?

My other question concerns this:

During the trial, the city’s attorney tried to use Halsted’s classic kung fu film collection against him, saying it proved he was violent.
Of course that's ridiculous, though, again, a pretty common tactic, i.e. trying to use someone's "stuff" against him. But my question is, how did the city's attorney even know about his classic kung fu film collection? Did they search his apartment? Can they? I assume not, but who knows? If not, how did his stuff even become an issue concerning the question of whether police were justified in Tasing and beating him up?

I am realizing how little I know about the process of this kind of case, which up to now I'd thought was pretty straightforward. Answers, comments, and insights will be over-reacted to below.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 06:49 PM | Comments (7)

April 26, 2012

Abuse of Power is in the Eye of the Beholder

It's usually hyperbole when something is tagged "beyond parody," but this comes mighty close.

Andrew Rosenthal of the New York Times explains why George W. Bush's abuses of power were so appalling, whereas President Obama's abuses of power are just fine because… well, the real reason, obviously, is because Obama is his guy. That's a familiar line of thinking, and we all do it to a degree, dressing up blind loyalty to our cultural reference group with flimsy, occasionally reasonable-sounding rationalization. It's just comparatively rare, and thus striking, that the dynamic is on display so nakedly in such a prominent context. Usually, they don't actually put it in writing.

So, that's the real reason. As for the stated reason, it's a bit hard to credit. Rosenthal appears to believe that Obama's use of executive orders to evade the inconvenience of the legislative and judicial process has been solely in aid of things like "jobs for veterans and fuel economy standards." Wheras, in fact and of course, Obama has continued, and in many cases amplified, nearly every one of his predecessor's abuses (i.e. the precise ones that Rosenthal and his fellows in the commentariat found to be such a grave danger to the republic and the commonweal way back when. What a difference a D makes.)

The other thing of which he seems to be unaware is that, as with Bush but arguably to a greater degree, a major motivation for advancing policies through this means is not to circumvent an uncooperative legislature: Congress seems quite willing, now as then, to rubber stamp pretty much any attack on civil liberties that an expansion of executive power might entail, for the asking. Rather, it is to keep the policies secret and shield them from public and judicial scrutiny.

Or maybe he is aware, but prefers not to mention it, which is even worse. Whether it's Team Blue or Team Red in charge, it's still tyranny. But, as Rosenthal concludes, "there may be no alternative." God help us.

(via Jacob Sullum at Reason, who has more, of course.)

Posted by Dr. Frank at 06:50 PM

April 20, 2012



Posted by Dr. Frank at 09:35 PM

Basically, you're crazy to invite police officers into your home

which is what you are doing any time you call 911 or other emergency services. The cops always arrive first. Their first priority is to protect themselves, and in a volatile, unpredictable situation, you never know when something will make them feel threatened enough to shoot somebody. It doesn't always end in tragedy, of course, but it can, and does. And when it does, the officers are hardly ever held accountable in any real way and remain on the job, meaning you could well draw the short straw and get one with a track record of recklessness or violence when all you really wanted was someone to take granny to the hospital.

To wit, here's another case of a family having trouble with a disturbed suicidal teenaged son. They expected "help" from emergency services personnel, and instead watched helplessly as a sheriff's deputy Tased the kid, then shot him dead (three shots) when he tried to get up. You want that guy in your house when you need medical assistance, or, come to that, for any reason? It's almost guaranteed he'll be back on the job making more housecalls before too long. So, if you live in Keyes, CA, you have to ask yourself, do you feel lucky?

Here's another one, a suicidal guy Tased and beaten to death, apparently, on the way to the hospital.

(via Reason.)

Posted by Dr. Frank at 01:07 AM | Comments (1)

Word Watch

I've got no opinion on "birth rape," apparently a term of art for invasive medical procedures conducted during childbirth. But this sentence, flagged by Ann Althouse, is a doozy:

Yeah, it’s wrong to make a woman feel emasculated on what should be one of the most empowering days of her life, but it’s not rape.
That's in Time Magazine, folks.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 12:11 AM

April 19, 2012

Files for Sale

If you don't want to read this whole post, the short version is: much of the MTX/Dr. Frank stuff should now be back up on iTunes and other digital distribution services. (And the major stuff that isn't up yet will be soon.)

So, as you probably know, Lookout Records stopped operations earlier this year. Among other things, this meant that the MTX/Dr. Frank catalog had to be pulled from digital services and has been (mostly) missing from on-line stores like iTunes and streaming services like Pandora for the last couple of months.

Whatever else happens in the way of re-issues and physical releases and so forth in the future, it seemed like a good idea to try to get the songs back up on-line sooner rather than later, so that's what we've been trying to do.

Much of it is now back "up," as far as I can tell, e.g. on iTunes, and presumably on all the other places, too, though it's possible there may be glitches here and there for a stretch.

In configuring this, I decided to disaggregate the albums, eps, and singles from the CD re-issue compilations, where we pretty much just piled on everything we had that wasn't on the album, without regard to sequencing (or anything, really.) So the idea is to take advantage of the flexibility of this digital world we've got by using it to re-configure everything as it was released, the singles as singles, the albums as albums, etc. We always thought of the vinyl as the "real" release, whereas the CD was more like archival storage or something. This approach had some perverse results once people started to think of the CD as the album, most notably on Our Bodies Our Selves, where the vinyl sequence makes sense, while the CD version just has the Gun Crazy b-sides and "God Bless America" tacked on senselessly at the end. All this "extra" material will be available, just not in the configuration that mimics the crazy CD comps.

As it stands now, some of the singles are still missing, but I hope to have them up soon, as well as other stuff like Road to Ruin, some kind of "Odds and Sods" type compilation of the "bonus" stuff that wasn't on albums, eps, or singles, the "best of" we discussed here, etc.

So that's it for now. More to come.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 04:12 PM | Comments (9)

April 17, 2012

Don't Call 911 in a medical emergency

A Bogota NY woman calls emergency services, hoping for an ambulance to take her emotionally disturbed son to the hospital. Police arrive on the scene first, hop out of the car, tackle the "patient," hold him down, and begin beating the hell out of him.

("Why are you punching him?" cries the mom. Just doing their job, ma'am.)

Another officer intervenes, breaking up the beating, and is now the one on trial, accused by her department of being "psychologically unfit to be a police officer." Sounds about right, actually.

(via the Agitator.)

Posted by Dr. Frank at 04:59 PM | Comments (1)

You Should Make Some T Shirts for Your Band and Sell them on Tour

Cracker's David Lowry takes on the "Digerati."

(via metafilter, where the commenters, by and large, just ain't buying it.)

Posted by Dr. Frank at 04:15 PM

April 16, 2012

After Taxes


(via Reason. My dad used to have this tape in his truck when I was a kid riding around with him during his work day and we used to sing along with this one, though he made sure to explain that taxes pay for the roads.)

Posted by Dr. Frank at 04:55 PM

Don't Whistle at Whales

Marine biologist faces twenty years in federal prison for allegedly lying to federal prosecutors investigating the incident, in which the captain and a crew-member of a whale-watching excursion whistled at a humpback whale to encourage it to stick around their boats. The "lying" appears to have consisted of furnishing the feds with an excerpted video of the whistling rather than the total raw footage. A five-year investigation of all of her confiscated computers, devices, and files managed to turn up no basis for an actual charge of "whale harassment." She is, as she says, facing punishment for an effective absurdity: lying about her involvement in an event that didn't happen.

(The investigation was sparked by the captain's wife, who asked the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for clarification as to whether whistling was permitted under the law. Oops. Another mistake: don't ask the government for advice about whether or not you're complying with the law. Even if you are, they can figure out something to charge you with, and they will.)

Now I suppose there's a legitimate point in trying to prevent flagrant abuse of marine life, though whistling seems fairly benign. But surely once it's established that the underlying crime did not occur (e.g. that the whistling did not rise to the level of chargeable harassment) that should be the end of it. The government has no business concerning itself with inadvertent "lying" about the non-event. Yet in our increasingly dystopian system of criminal justice, the process is itself the punishment. Unfortunate innocents become ensnared in a complex network of nested "meta-crimes" with only a distant relation to anything that might have been intended or done. Endless and forever. Your only chance is to sit tight and hope they don't notice you. Good luck out there.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 04:01 PM | Comments (2)

April 15, 2012

Old Navy


Posted by Dr. Frank at 04:51 PM | Comments (2)

April 10, 2012

Ba Ba Ba Ba Ba

Posted by Dr. Frank at 03:47 AM | Comments (3)

April 07, 2012



Posted by Dr. Frank at 10:37 PM

April 06, 2012

When We Was Fab


Posted by Dr. Frank at 03:18 PM | Comments (2)

April 05, 2012

This Apparatus Must be Earthed


So Jim Marshall has died, at age 88.

I remember visiting the Marshall factory in Bletchley, Milton Keynes on a UK tour to try to get a troublesome head repaired. The repair didn't wind up working all that well in the long run, as it turned out, but the place was really something.

Everything, outside and in, was color coordinated with the signature black and white, from the building facade to the interior decor, to the outfits worn by the staff at the front of house (business-y looking ladies with black skirts and white blouses.) I showed them the amp, and it was kind of like an entry ticket: they waved us through with hardly a word to a workshop area, where this elderly guy took it apart and twisted a few things before reassembling it. Then he plugged in a guitar (an SG I think), played one ringing chord and said: "nice sounding amp, mate." It did sound nice. It always sounded nice when it made sound at all. (And when it was malfunctioning, it smelled kind of nice too. Memories.) I think it lasted at least another few shows though.

There's a bit of folklore about the ladies who assemble the amplifiers: supposedly each of these assemblies is characteristically if only very slightly different from each other, and some hyper Marshall-y players and sound guys can, it is said, tell from the sound which lady it was that did the assembly on a particular amp. And they'd say things like "ah, this is a Brenda. Or possibly a Gladys. Hm. No, Brenda, I think. Listen to the high end..." I've heard people say that sort of thing, in jest I've always thought. No idea if it's true to any degree at all. (And the old engineer guy didn't mention Brenda, that I remember.)

Whether true or not, though, you can see those ladies working in a line at long workbenches through the windows at one end of the building, and seeing them was one of those inexplicably thrilling moments that happen randomly from time to time. I'll never forget it. Brenda was in there somewhere, she had to be.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 05:19 PM | Comments (1)

April 04, 2012

I wish it could be 1996 again


Interpunk has recreated the old "...women who love them" shirt that we used to sell on our mid-90s tours. It was our biggest selling design, I believe, for many years, but it's been a long time since it was possible to buy one commercially. (The Interpunk guys got the design from a shirt they found on ebay.)

Anyway, head over there and buy one, or one of their other MTX shirts, or various other products.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 08:15 PM | Comments (16)

April 03, 2012

Where's Me Jumper?


Posted by Dr. Frank at 04:57 PM

April 02, 2012

In Which I am Hostilely Questioned by Booklist


Posted by Dr. Frank at 07:09 PM

Before he was Frank Portman, Hollywood bigshot, Frank was known as Dr. Frank and fronted the The Mr. T Experience…

Heh. That's from a punknews.org item.

By the way, that list isn't exactly set in stone and you can still discuss or contribute or whatever if you feel like it.

Posted by Dr. Frank at 06:42 PM | Comments (3)


A few days ago I asked for suggestions for a theoretical "best of" MTX collection, mostly because I've been working on getting the back catalog back together for digital re-release and it seems like a "greatest hits" type option would probably be good. Plus, I was just curious.

I got way more responses than I expected (and I appreciate them very much.) I hadn't intended to do a systematic tally, but there were too many to keep in my head at the same time, so I did. I suppose it's a pretty good measure of what the most popular tracks are, though it's not in any way scientific. The general thrust of it is not surprising, but some of the details weren't necessarily what I expected. For instance, "More than Toast" is #1 by quite a big margin. I knew people liked that one, but I wouldn't have guessed it was so clearly preferred to all the others that are so similar to it. Ha.

Anyway, for what it's worth, here's the top twenty, tallied from responses received via blog comment, email, facebook, and twitter. I only counted songs from MTX releases; I didn't count "likes" to facebook comments; when someone listed the same song twenty times I counted it as one; and when someone said something like "just put all the tracks from Love is Dead on it" I didn't count that at all.

More than Toast 159

Even Hitler Had a Girlfriend 112

Ba Ba Ba Ba Ba 95

Sackcloth and Ashes 94

The History of the Concept of the Soul 85

Swallow Everything 83

Book of Revelation 75

…and I Will be with You 73

Dumb Little Band 71

King Dork 70

Tapin' Up My Heart 68

Velveeta 68

At Gilman Street 63

Last Time I listened to You 61

Fucked Up on Life 61

Here She Comes 58

I Fell for You 57

I'm Like Yeah, but She's All No 57

Naomi 56

Thank You for Not Being One of Them 55

The next two "tiers" of "vote"-getters were:

Deep Deep Down 54

I Wrote a Book about Rock and Roll 54

Love is Dead 54

Danny Partridge 50

I Believe in You 50

She's No Rocket Scientist 50

She's Not a Flower 50

With My Looks and Your Brains 50

Not sure I'll stick with the list exactly, whatever I do wind up doing with it, but this is all pretty good to know.

Thanks again for "voting."

Posted by Dr. Frank at 03:55 PM | Comments (13)