Recently, local blog Greater Greater Washington reported that some residents in Washington D.C. have been exposed to flyers that promulgate a political opinion — an opinion that is likely not shared by the majority of said residents.
Some of the offending flyers.
Fortunately, people have taken it all in stride, as they’ve quietly acknowledged that the distribution of such flyers is protected political speech, a core facet of the First Amendment.
… Oh, what’s this? It seems that I’ve spoken too soon. Some are not taking it so well, and things are getting a little absurd. Councilmember Brandon Todd has even publicly called for police action (the thought police?) to curb this exercise of free speech:
Are the people who distributed the flyers behaving lawfully?
Solely for the purposes of argument, let us concede that the flyers are indeed inelegant, offensive, and even hateful. But these aspects alone do not exempt the flyers from First Amendment protection, as the US Supreme Court recently reaffirmed:
… the proudest boast of our free speech jurisprudence is that we protect the freedom to express “the thought that we hate.”
— Justice Samuel Alito
A law found to discriminate based on viewpoint is an “egregious form of content discrimination,” which is “presumptively unconstitutional.” … A law that can be directed against speech found offensive to some portion of the public can be turned against minority and dissenting views to the detriment of all.
— Justice Anthony Kennedy
Now, back to the flyers
The flyers didn’t encourage violence, they simply voiced a political opinion – one that is shared by tens of millions of Americans. Is advocating for a legal, non-violent political opinion not allowed in the District? Is it [Greater Greater Washington’s] position that flyers advocating for a legal, non-violent political opinion should be prohibited?
To wit, the message of the flyers boils down to advocating for the enforcement of existing federal laws. While reasonable people can disagree about the particulars of settled law, in a general sense, advocating for the enforcement of a law is an entirely normal, constitutionally-protected action.
The people who distributed the flyers — if they are guilty of anything — might have violated DC law regarding the placement of signs/placards in public rights-of-way. This is a minor violation akin to littering.
Is DC leadership behaving lawfully?
Let’s take it back all the way to Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, which outlines powers of congress over the federal district (that is, Washington, D.C.):
To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States …
Additionally, congress has granted the federal government the power to prosecute immigration crimes by way of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Federal law makes it clear that immigration offenses are criminal acts, not merely civil infractions:
- 18 U.S. Code § 1425 – Procurement of citizenship or naturalization unlawfully
- 18 U.S. Code § 1546 – Fraud and misuse of visas, permits, and other documents
- 8 U.S. Code § 1325 – Improper entry by alien
Washington D.C., by declaring itself a “sanctuary city” for illegal aliens, does not magically nullify federal criminal law. To the contrary, DC and other such sanctuary jurisdictions are operating in direct conflict with Title 8, section 1324 of U.S. Code:
8 U.S. Code § 1324 – Bringing in and harboring certain aliens, subparagraph (A)(iii):
Any person who— … knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that an alien has come to, entered, or remains in the United States in violation of law, conceals, harbors, or shields from detection, or attempts to conceal, harbor, or shield from detection, such alien in any place, including any building or any means of transportation;
The wording of 8 U.S. Code § 1324 is clear:
A person who violates subparagraph (A) shall, for each alien in respect to whom such a violation occurs— … in the case of a violation of subparagraph (A)(ii), (iii), (iv), or (v)(II), be fined under title 18, imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both …
In other words, those who harbor illegal aliens can potentially receive up to five years in prison for each alien.
So, no. With respect to this issue, DC leadership is not behaving lawfully in two main ways:
- Failing to prosecute illegal aliens or those who harbor illegal aliens
- Openly encouraging residents and businesses to flout federal immigration law
From the beginning, there were strands that once anchored me to my childhood. In government, it was President Ronald Reagan. In faith, Pope John Paul II (now Saint John Paul the Great). In sports, baseball player Cal Ripken Jr. In music, Brian Wilson. And in family, it was my late grandfather, Robert Gaudin Greene. It’s hard to explain, but their continued presence in my life served as a sort of willful suspension of time. In a way, I could keep telling myself, “Time isn’t really passing …” or “The world is just as it was …” as long as my childhood heroes — my strands — were still alive and thriving. As long as Papa was around, I was still but a child, an adolescent. But on Tuesday morning, another strand came loose, as my grandfather passed into eternal life.
On September 27, 2016 Robert Morgan Gaudin Greene, age 92, peacefully passed away in Rockville, MD. He was born on June 23, 1924 in Waco, TX, the 6th of 7 children, the fourth of five sons — the Martlet — of James Floyd Greene and Mary Louise Dupre. At the age of five, his family settled in Birmingham, AL where he attended Lakeview Elementary School, Ramsay High School, Birmingham Southern College, and Howard College (now Samford University). He enlisted in the US Navy in World War II, advancing to the rank of Lieutenant Junior Grade. He served on the destroyer U.S.S. Hall, the hospital ship U.S.S. Consolation, and the gasoline tanker U.S.S. Patapsco. After the War, he settled in the Washington D.C. area and received a Mechanical Engineering degree from the Catholic University of America. He married the former Ellen Rowena Deckelman on November 8, 1952.
Mr. Greene had a varied career starting as a Mechanical Engineer for the Bureau of Ships Model Basin and then to the U.S. Army Biological Laboratories at Fort Detrick. He served as the Patent Security Officer of the U.S. Army from 1973 until 1980. After 26 years of Army employment, he retired in 1980 as a General Engineer from Headquarters US Army Material Command. He was a life-long Catholic with membership in the Knights of Columbus, Legion of Mary and Holy Name Society and was a founding member of St Elizabeth Parish in Rockville, MD. He attended Gaithersburg Community Bible Study for several years. Among his hobbies were fishing, crossword puzzles, Scrabble, antique clock repair, traveling, and being among family. He leaves behind his beloved wife Ellen, and 3 children: Theresa M. Brundage (Geoffrey) of Olney, MD, Paul V. of Rockville, MD and Kevin M. (Amy) of Elmira, NY, 8 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren. He was pre-deceased by 1 grandchild in 1998. He is survived by a brother, Edward A. Greene of Chevy Chase, MD.
There’s an old saying that goes something like, “You never have to ask someone if they’re a veteran, because they’ll just tell you. And then they’ll keep reminding you again and again.” However, this saying in no way applied to my grandfather. Very rarely did I hear about his service in the Navy during World War II, or of his employment as a mechanical engineer with the Army during Korea and Vietnam. Papa was always perfectly modest about it, even considering the degree of reverence that society typically bestows upon WWII veterans — the quintessential members of the Greatest Generation.
My only recollection of his time in the Navy comes from his naval enlistment photograph, framed and still hanging in the hallway of his home. I’d pass by that faded photograph from time to time, pausing for just a moment to meditate on the man in the picture. I saw it again recently and it was like peering into a mirror.
From my earliest memories, I witnessed his seemingly unbounded intelligence and curiosity. For instance, he knew the binomial nomenclature of scores of flora and fauna. He restored old clocks and household appliances. For years, he kept his mind sharp by finishing the Washington Post crossword puzzle before breakfast. His copies of the dictionary and the Scrabble players dictionary are ragged and lined with his frequent notes and addenda. Yes, he edited the dictionary!
He retired at age 56, the year I was born. He lived a humble, mostly quiet life in retirement. Even though his lifestyle was never lavish, I still managed to get the impression that he never had to worry about money. As a child, having sleepovers at Grandma and Papa’s house was always a special time, always a calming experience. Papa was, in every sense of the word, a model grandfather.
Deep in my heart — that’s where the knot comes loose.
April 2008: Sniff, in one of Annie’s favorite pictures
It is with immense sadness that Annie and I announce the death of our first rabbit, Sniff Bun-Bun Brundage. Sniff was born circa June 2007 and died on Friday night, September 2, 2016. He follows his adopted brother, Munch Dallas Brundage into paradise. He is survived by his human sister, Tanya, and his human parents.
We adopted Sniff from a very generous family who was trying to find a new home for their rabbit. We went up to meet them at a nearby mall, and they gave us pretty much everything: cage, food bowl, food, litter, chew toys, and a cute little bunny, wearing a purple vest with a detachable leash. We are forever grateful for their priceless gift. Sniff gave us tremendous joy for nine years.
September 2007: Sniff, a few days after we brought him home.
He was truly part of our family. Sniff was a mama’s boy. He would hop over to Annie for a petting and then Munch would follow suit. In his younger days, Sniff used to do his corkscrew hops around the family room. When we lived at the townhouse, he would hop over to Annie from the kitchen and he would circle around her feet, and play with her sweater, which was dangling from a chair. We used to take him for walks outside in his purple harness. Once, during the fall, we took him outside and he got scared of a falling leaf. It was hilarious.
Sniff never liked to be held, but he loved to be petted. He would put his head on Annie’s lap, and just curl up on her legs for a petting. Annie would scratch both sides of his cheeks and rub the top of his head. When we moved to the single family home, Sniff and Munch shared a bedroom and they would hop over to the master suite at night and sleep under our bed. That lasted for a while. After Munch died, Sniff had the bunny room all to himself. He would come over to the master bedroom whenever he heard us, such as when we were giving Tanya a bath, or when Tanya was drinking her milk on the bed. In whatever bedroom we’d happen to be in, Sniff would find us and tunnel under the bed. Tanya and Annie would go up to see him during the daytime, and also in the evening time until I get home. On the rare occasion that Tanya would be sick or cry in the middle of the night, Sniff would hop over and inspect the situation. Whenever Annie would go into Sniff’s room to visit him, Sniff would run circles around her, or flop down over her feet, asking for a petting.
Sniff and Munch used to have a little toy elephant hanging from his cage door. The elephant had this little bell attached to it, so we’d know whenever they entered or exited their cage. Sniff also had this other little metal bell toy. Whenever we’d put it in front of him, Sniff would pick it up with his teeth and fling it out of his way.
July 2016: Sniff, in his last outdoor photo session.
We would give him lettuce, kale, carrots, and dandelion leaves, but his favorite was kale. We decided to almost completely cut out kale, as we were afraid that he’d get kidney stones like his brother. On the rare occasion that Annie would give him kale, Sniff would smell it coming and get excited before it arrived. After Sniff started to have dental problems and had to get one of his incisors extracted, Annie started shaving his carrots, which were easier for him to gnaw. Recently, Tanya would go outside and look for suitable treats for him, such as dandelions, clover, and occasionally, dried leaves. Sniff used to love to eat dried leaves. I’d call them his bunny potato chips.
Sniff slowly turned into an old rabbit, and was actually on arthritis medication, Pepcid, and pain medication. Annie took Sniff to the rabbit emergency room on Friday afternoon, after he appeared listless and didn’t have an appetite. The doctor said that he had stomach ulcers and a low temperature. Sniff died shortly before midnight. We were planning to go see him the next day, and we thought that we’d be able to hold him at least one more time. Annie was even holding out hope that he’d bounce back and recover. It wasn’t meant to be.
On Saturday, we went back to the animal hospital to pick up Sniff’s body. Annie held him in her arms all the way home. We held a funeral in Sniff’s room. I said my Catholic prayers, and Annie said her Buddhist prayers. As before with Munch, we buried Sniff in the backyard, under a new rosebush just a few feet away from his brother.
Annie still goes up to turn the light on in his room when the sun goes down. Most of Sniff’s things are still where they’ve always been. It’s hard to break routine. We still half expect to see him hop over to the master bedroom, or to open his door and see him lying down in his usual spot on the carpet. We told Tanya that Sniff is in bunny heaven, reunited with Munch.
July 2011: Sniff and Munch, sniffing each other.
Editors and regular expressions
- EditPad Pro: A great code editor with best-in-class regular expression support.
- Sublime Text
Version control and diffing
FTP and database clients
Documentation and web apps
- Adobe Color CC
- Can I Use: Because I can’t keep all of this in my head.
- CDNJS: Cloudflare is my favorite CDN.
- Chalkwork icon set: Currently in use at FAA.gov.
- CSS specifications (W3C)
- CSS support matrix
- Data URL encoder: Saves HTTP requests.
- Dummy image generator: For when customers want style before substance.
- FAA developer resources
- Font Awesome: A custom icon font.
- Google Analytics
- Google Webmasters
- HTML specification
- HTML5 Boilerplate
- HTTP lint
- JPEG information: Don’t let the lo-fi interface fool you — this is the best JPEG compressor. Made by the same people behind Webpagetest.
- jQuery API
- jQuery UI API
- Mozilla Developer Network
- PageSpeed Insights (by Google)
- Pingdom full page test
- Stack Overflow
- TinyPNG: The best PNG compressor. It even supports 8-bit alpha transparency.
- Unicode characters: Charbase
- Unicode characters: W3C
- Unicode code converter
- WAVE (Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool): WCAG scans
- WCAG color contrast checker: Your mockups violate federal law, and I can prove it with math.
- Webpagetest: Front-end page speed optimization
- Google Chrome Canary
- Google Chrome for Android
- Google Chrome for iOS
- Google Chrome
- Microsoft Edge
- Microsoft Internet Explorer
- Mozilla Firefox Developer Edition
- Mozilla Firefox for Android
- Mozilla Firefox: The browser in which I perform the majority of my development work.
- Oracle VM VirtualBox: I run virtual machines to cover legacy versions of Internet Explorer. I’m counting down the days until I no longer have to look at IE 8’s ugly face.
- QupZilla: One of a handful of little-known Windows-based browsers that support WebKit/WebCore. In 2013, Google forked WebCore into Blink, and soon thereafter, Chrome switched from WebCore to Blink. Since then, WebCore and Blink have been steadily diverging.
- Safari for iOS
Browser tools and plugins
- Accessibility Developer Tools: Accessibility audit and element properties
- Check My Links
- Fiddler: web debugging proxy
- Google Chrome DevTools
- Mozilla Firefox developer tools: Firefox’s built-in developer tools were first introduced in version 4 back in 2011, and they’ve slowly evolved into a solid replacement for FireBug. I stopped using FireBug in 2014 and haven’t looked back.
- Open With
- Pearl Crescent Page Saver
- Server Switcher: Easily switches a website between development and production tiers
- WAVE (Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool): WCAG scans
- Web Developer toolbar
The propensity of a person to play back recorded sound in public and unsolicited (for instance, in a store, at the park, or while in the presence of a captive audience such as on the subway) is inversely proportional to the generally-accepted listenability of the music being played and the quality of both the source and the playback equipment.
What this means is that for every kind soul who plays, for instance, Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Brandenburg Concerto #4 In G (Allegro)”, “Flamenco Sketches” from Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue, or take your pick from The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, you have literally thousands of people playing lowest common denominator, dynamically-compressed, Auto-Tuned r&b/pop. And no, the teeming masses are not lugging around their vintage reel-to-reel tape decks, tube amps, and Focal Sopras in makeshift portable configurations; they’re playing back low quality MP3s using the tiny, tinny-sounding, $2.67 speakers that came integrated into their cheap carrier-subsidized smartphones.
July 2008: Munch on the day we brought him home
It is with immense sadness that Annie and I announce the death of our second rabbit, Munch Dallas Brundage. Munch was born circa May 2008 and died on Saturday afternoon, June 27, 2015. He is survived by his adopted brother, Sniff Bun-Bun Brundage, his human sister, Tanya, and his human parents.
Munch was ever true to his name and greatly enjoy meal time; his favorite foods were carrots, kale, and lettuce (in that order). We have seen him finish his own bowl, and then help himself to Sniff’s bowl as well. And of course, he loved to munch on hay throughout the day.
Munch used to do what we call “corkscrew hops,” where he would dash across the room, then leap up and twist his body in mid air. It was a riot.
Munch never liked to be held, but he loved to be petted. He was a very petable rabbit. He would start out in a “Sphinx position” with his two front paws under his chin — kind of scrunched up, but as you pet him, he’d kick out his two hind legs and go into full “long Bunny mode”, with his entire body sprawled out on the floor like a pancake.
When we first adopted him, he was so small that he was able to tunnel behind the shelves in our living room, but as he grew older, he was still trying to go through the same tunnel even after his increasing size caught up with him. For the longest time, he would still attempt to go through his old tunnel.
When Munch was young, he used to go up and down the stairs on occasion. It was the cutest thing watching his butt shimmy down the stairs.
Of the two rabbits, Munch was the laid-back one — in relaxed mode most of the time. Munch was content as long as he got his carrots and his grooming.
April 2009: Sniff (left) and Munch
When we first moved into our current home, the rabbits got their own bedroom at the opposite end of the hallway from the master suite. They were always free to roam around upstairs. Sniff and Munch are not just rabbits to us — they are members of our family. I know that sounds clichéd, but we have to say it. They used to run down the hallway to the master suite, with their ears flopping up and down, like they were about to take off on a runway. We called it the Bunway. Bun-Bun Airlines. Once they got to our room, they’d tunnel under our bed, and used to sleep there — more so when we first moved in. Whenever we got up or disturbed them, they’d thump at us as if we were disturbing their space.
When Tanya was born, we moved the rabbits into the spare bedroom closest to us. The rabbits had previously enjoyed a bedroom with a walk-in closet (a hop-in closet), but now they had to settle for just a regular closet.
Earlier this month, Munch was diagnosed with kidney stones and kidney dysfunction — a fairly typical disorder for domesticated rabbits. On Friday night, we had to put him in overnight intensive care in Virginia, but we knew that the situation was grim. The following morning, the vet called to say that he was not doing well and that he might die in the ICU. The last thing we wanted was for Munch to die all alone without his family, and in a strange place. On Saturday afternoon, we arrived at his side. The vet made it clear that he would not last very long if we brought him home, and that he would be suffering immensely. We had to make the heart-wrenching decision to put him to sleep. We wanted him to remember that Mommy and Daddy were holding him as he drifted off.
We brought Munch’s body home and laid him in his room one last time so that Sniff could say his goodbyes. Sniff had his closure. We’re spending more time with Sniff, as he’s lost his companion. He used to be content to stay in his room with Munch, but lately, he’s taken to hopping around upstairs, looking for us.
On Sunday afternoon, we conducted an hour-long funeral. I said my Catholic prayers and Annie said her Buddhist prayers. We buried him in our backyard under a new rosebush, where we can see his grave site when we look outside.
Today, Tanya asked, “Where’s Munch?” Annie replied, “Munch died and went to Bunny Heaven.”
November 2013: Our three babies sharing a snack. Left to right: Tanya, Sniff, and Munch (foreground).
Tanya grabbed onto the banister in the foyer and pretended that she was riding a horse on the carousel at Wheaton Regional Park.
“Tanya’s on the merry-go-round.”
A light bulb went off in her head as she equated the circular motion of the carousel’s horses with the elliptical orbits of the planets.
“Tanya’s a planet. Planets go around the sun.”
I then asked her, “What planet are you?”
She answered without hesitation: “Uranus.” And, after a few seconds, “Neptune.”
The other day, Tanya and I were hanging out in my man-cave, listening to records, as we do most every evening. We had been making our way through my otherwise-neglected collection of 45s when I rediscovered a single that I had completely forgotten about, David Wills’ “There’s a Song on the Jukebox.”
Now I hope I don’t have to describe to you what a perfect gem of an old country song this is. As I hit “play” again after the needle returned, the song got me thinking about jukeboxes, but more specifically, the pricing and economics behind them.
From the 1950s, and lasting until even the 1980s, the jukebox was an essential cog in the music industry machine. In rock and roll’s formative years, the price of a single play on a typical jukebox was ten cents, as evidenced by Chuck Berry’s 1956 hit, “Roll Over, Beethoven:” Long as she’s got a dime, the music will never stop. Fast-forward about twenty years and our old buddy David Wills is still feeding single dimes into the jukebox. As inflation had eroded the value of a dime by almost half in the intervening 20 years, a single play on a jukebox in 1975 represented a much better value than it did in Chuck Berry’s era.
But let’s take it a step further and compare a single play in 1956 to an equivalent purchase in the present day. Merely adjusting for inflation won’t cut it, as there has been a marked increase in disposable income per capita in the United States, after adjusting for inflation. Based on the graph (below), it’s safe to say that per capita real disposable income has increased three-fold since the mid-fifties.
Our inflation-adjusted 1956 dime is worth about $.87 today. But that dime was even more valuable back then, as it represented a much bigger piece of the disposable income pie. Adjusting that inflation-adjusted dime for constant real disposable income yields a value of $2.61. Yep.
Would you pay $2.61 today to listen to a two-minute pop song once? Remember that in the 1950s and 1960s, a typical pop song lasted about two minutes. Three minutes tops.
Put another way, would you spend around $60 to listen to an hour of music — music that you wouldn’t even own afterwards? No, you wouldn’t. But you’d likely pay that amount on an annual basis with a music subscription service such as Pandora, Spotify, Rdio, Google Play, etc. Astounding: the same dollar figure that once provided only an hour’s worth of listening pleasure now provides a whole year’s worth — and with a virtual jukebox with tens of thousands of songs.
Over the past 60 years, the cost of renting music has decreased by 99.9886% on a per-hour basis.