The Incredible Mr. Trump

I’m constantly amazed by Donald Trump’s ability to caricature himself beyond the bounds of satire. It’s becoming impossible to tell if we are watching a heavy-handed cartoon parody or a piece of officially authorized Trump Campaign media. Take this song, which opened Trump’s Florida rally earlier this month. Of course, this is not the first time kids have been forced to literally sing the praises of a political savior, but I would be less surprised to see this song in a Trump-mocking internet skit than an actual rally.

When I first heard this, I assumed that the girls on stage were a random selection of Trump staffer children. I was also pretty sure that its clunky lyrics had sprung from the pen (or stream of consciousness) of The Donald himself, so keenly representative of his flashing wit and deftly woven wordplay as it was.

After doing a little more research, it seems that the song was performed by the local girl group USA Freedom Kids, and written by their manager. I’m still convinced he swiped most of those rhymes from Trump’s Twitter feed, though (just like he swiped the melody and chorus from George Cohen), and that song made me realize who Trump has been reminding me of all these years: The Wind in the Willows’ highly self-celebrated Mr. Toad of Toad Hall.


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The Death of House Bill 1412

I was at the Tennessee Capitol yesterday to see the first, and last, discussion of House Bill 1412, “The Tennessee Defense of Natural Marriage Act” in the House Civil Justice Subcommittee. I was one of about 150 supporters of the bill who showed up to watch, and most of us overflowed out of Hearing Room 31 into the hall. As the subcommittee began the order of business, we were joined by seven or eight activists who were protesting the bill. Despite our differences, we all squeezed tightly together to watch 90 minutes of wrangling on the monitor, and I don’t think either side could have counted the outcome as a serious victory.

For those that don’t know the backstory, HB1412 was a fairly simple bill, short and to the point. You can read it here in its eight-page entirety, but I’ll summarize it. It consists of seven pages of WHERASes, decrying the Supreme Court decision Obergefell v. Hodges and judicial supremacy in general, quoting historical commentary by legal scholars on the Constitutional limits of Federal courts, and praising the Tennessee Constitution’s own statement on marriage.

The final page contains the three actionable sections of the bill, which basically just state that Tennessee will continue to obey its own Constitution, and that it will defend its citizens and employees who obey their own Constitution. Pretty strong stuff, right? Imagine, a bill just flat-out quoting the Constitution instead of hiding its intent in hundreds of pages of dense vaguery. For reference, here is the relevant language from Article XI, Section 18 of the Constitution of Tennessee:

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Baby’s First Smartphone!


I generally cringe when I see tiny children with their attention glued to an iPhone screen, or when I read gadget reviews and see commenters asking if such-and-such a device would be a good first smartphone for a six-year-old. I guess that’s a little hypocritical of me now, since I just set up a smartphone for a three-month-old.

To clarify, however, James isn’t allowed to play with this phone. It’s basically the music player for his room, and his portable baby monitor, and it’s very handy. It’s also very cost-effective; I bought this Droid Razr M used on eBay, and after three years of very hard use, it was replaced by a newer eBay phone that Heidi bought me for Christmas. So what all can we do with this scuffed and chipped phone?

Baby Monitor

For the past month or so, we’ve been using the Dormi baby monitor app to keep an ear on James when he’s napping. It has all the features of a regular old analog baby monitor, but smarter. You’ll need at least two devices, one of which is set to child mode and listens for noise, and the other is set to parent mode and waits for alerts. Instead of listening to an infuriatingly constant drone of 900mhz interference, you only hear the baby when he starts waking up.

That means that it’s very data efficient, and very battery efficient. The two devices can automatically find each other when they are on the same wifi network, or you can set them up manually over the internet if you need more distance. The connection is encrypted, you can also have multiple parent devices listening to a single child device, there’s an option for two-way communication, and you can even use the phone’s cameras to see what’s going on.