I managed to poop all over my operating system with a spell checker.

how, you ask?

Well.

apparently macos, plus stuff like chrome, uses hunspell for its spellchecking and it’s built in.

but it wasn’t visible from the commandline.

and i wanted to use it in emacs.

so I installed it on homebrew.

but it couldn’t find the dictionaries, despite being in the right place.

and I found a bunch of random mentions on SO about bizarre bugs in the latest version.

And homebrew apparently doesn’t let you install versions from previous commits any more. …


First: it is unequivocally bad when people’s stuff gets destroyed. It is unequivocally bad when third parties to a social conflict are harmed. We should be sad when that occurs.

But, it is a mistake to focus our attention on the blameworthiness, or lack thereof, of the individuals involved in such occurrences. (Before you jump down my throat about using language designed to minimize the individual responsibility of those involved: be patient, starting in the next paragraph, I’m going to justify that conscious language choice with an argument.) And it is a mistake to respond to “looting” or “rioting” associated…


These are some loose and only lightly proofread notes on what police abolition means to me. It was originally written as a facebook comment, but I’ve decided that it might be useful for at least one moderately thoughtful conception of what “police abolition” might entail. By “moderately thoughtful,” I mean: I’m not a criminal justice expert. But I am a law expert, and an institutional political science expert; I’ve also thought about the problems of policing for a long time as a critical race theorist. I’m just one guy, and don’t purport to speak for anyone else, but here’s what…


Since I signed the law professor’s letter opposing the confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, I’ve received some e-mails, including from the public and from the press, commenting on that decision or asking for an explanation. I figured it would be worthwhile to reproduce (with light edits) some comments I sent to a reporter explaining why I signed the letter. Note that these comments, like the letter, focus not on the substance of the allegations, but on Kavanaugh’s intemperate and partisan display in response. …


Donald Trump poses a threat to the rule of law. Here’s what we can do to stand up for America’s constitutional order.

Donald Trump’s pattern of behavior fits authoritarian precedent. (Photo credit: Gage Skidmore.)

The Constitution and the Rule of Law

The late Justice Scalia was well-known for a number of important judicial commitments — to Constitutional originalism, to a permissive account of the Establishment Clause, to a skeptical approach to executive criminal justice power. But his most important commitment was to the rule of law, a central constitutional ideal to which he routinely appealed (and about which he published a famous academic article, “The Rule of Law as a Law of Rules“).

The rule of law is traditionally contrasted to “the rule of men.” The contrast captures the difference between societies in which the awesome power of governments to send…


A bunch of really terrible bills have been introduced in the Iowa legislature thus far in 2017.

The session’s only being going for three weeks. So far, none of these horrible bills have been passed. In addition to holding Congress’s feet to the fire, we need to hold the state legislature’s feet to the fire too. We must keep them from passing any of the terrible bills below.

Here are the worst bills I can find:

SF 111, introduced by Chapman, Zaun, Behn, Brown, Breitbach, Bertrand, Chelgren, C. Johnson, and Anderson. …


I’m written a small, hopefully useful, tool to allow for decentralized monitoring of public data (coding against Donald Trump). It’s called minitrue, and you can get it here.

What is it?

Python scripts to monitor public data and prove that it’s been changed.

The idea: suppose Donald Trump goes full 1984 and tampers with government data. For example, modifying climate data to conceal evidence of human generated climate change. That’s bad. Wouldn’t you like to catch him? minitrue can help.

minitrue will take a list of URLS that you give it. Then it will go to those URLs, save their contents to disk…


I’m writing this on my brand new iPad Pro (gigantic model, specced up to the wazoo). In case anyone’s also thinking about pulling the trigger, here are my impressions from the first 24 hours of use. I’ll probably edit it over the coming days as I discover more.

The Good

  • It’s surprisingly light. I can hold it in one hand without too much problem, for a good long time. (Caveat: I’m a large strong dude with large strong hands. I even lift, bro. YMMV.)
  • The Smart Keyboard’s not bad. It’s not perfect (I can’t quite type as fast or as accurately on…


Reflections on the occasion of watching someone fairly sophisticated narrowly avoid getting phished about an hour ago.

(Unsubstantiated) Claim: a lot of phishing attacks are forged to appear to come from a fairly narrow range of relatively sophisticated companies — email providers, connectivity providers, financial institutions, etc.

Thought 1: “why can’t these companies use standard off-the-shelf public key crypto to digitally sign emails?”

Objection 1: well, the people who are going to be likely victimized by phishing attacks aren’t likely to be able or willing to figure out how to use GPG, plus the key exchange problem.

Reply 1: why can’t companies distribute to their users, on sign-up, a very lightweight signature-verification app that hides all the…


Constitutional lawyer here. Let’s talk some sense.

Donald Trump just proposed stripping people who burn the flag of U.S. Citizenship. Such a law would, of course, be a violation of the First Amendment. See the Supreme Court’s opinion in Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397 (1989).

But that doesn’t seem to bother Trump:

when creeping fascism stops creeping and starts galloping

In response, a number of right-wing commentators have pointed out that Hillary Clinton, in 2005, co-sponsored a bill to criminalize flag-burning. Here’s the text of that bill, which you can go read yourself.

Here’s why the comparison between Trump’s…

Paul Gowder

Law prof/political scientist writing about con law, political philosophy, data, professional ethics, and justice. And whatever I want. http://paul-gowder.com

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