Author Archive: Erich Vieth

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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Rick Steves’ Pragmatic Approach to Terrorism

May 23, 2017 | By | Reply More

I’ve long admired Rick Steves, not only for his immensely useful travel resources, but for his world view and his willingness to speak up on difficult topics, such as advocating for the decriminalization of drugs.

Another topic on which he has taken a courageous stand is the way we, as a nation, react to terrorism. Here’s what Steves had to say (in 2006):

I think we’re 300 million people and if we lose a few hundred people a year to terrorists, that doesn’t change who we are and it shouldn’t change the fabric of our society. Frankly I think we should get used to losing—as long as we’re taking the stance in the world of being the military superpower, you’re going to have people nipping at you. And if it’s hundreds or thousands—we lose 15,000 people a year to have the right to bear arms and most people think that’s a good deal, year after year. We spend 15,000 people for the right to bear arms. What do we spend to be as aggressive and heavy weight on this planet? We’re always going to have terrorism.

I agree with Steves. Zero tolerance regarding terrorism is ruining us. We tolerate death as inevitable in many other spheres without freaking out, clamping down on civil rights and indiscriminately bombing people overseas.

Yes, you should try to prevent (all) acts of violence, but occasionally you will fail to prevent deaths, as happens with gun violence, drunken driving, texting while driving, cigarette smoking, lack of medical care, eating crappy food and lack to exercise. How many people die early because they are forced to go to terrible schools, which sends them into a downward spiral?

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The Heroism of Chelsea Manning

May 20, 2017 | By | Reply More

Now the that Chelsea Manning has finally been released from U.S. custody, Glenn Greenwald takes this opportunity to recount her heroism:

Though Manning was largely scorned and rejected in most mainstream Washington circles, she did everything one wants a whistleblower to do: tried to ensure that the public learns of concealed corruption and criminality, with the intent of fostering debate and empowering the citizenry with knowledge that should never have been concealed from them. And she did it all knowing that she was risking prison to do so, but followed the dictates of her conscience rather than her self-interest.

BUT AS COURAGEOUS as that original whistleblowing was, Manning’s heroism has only multiplied since then, become more multifaceted and consequential. As a result, she has inspired countless people around the world. At this point, one could almost say that her 2010 leaking to WikiLeaks has faded into the background when assessing her true impact as a human being. Her bravery and sense of conviction wasn’t a one-time outburst: It was the sustained basis for her last seven years of imprisonment that she somehow filled with purpose, dignity, and inspiration.

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“Ataraxia”: My Favorite New Word

May 18, 2017 | By | Reply More

Ataraxia:

For Epicureanism, ataraxia was synonymous with the only true happiness possible for a person. It signifies the state of robust tranquillity that derives from eschewing concerns about an afterlife, not fearing the gods (because they are distant and unconcerned with us), avoiding politics and vexatious people, surrounding oneself with trustworthy and affectionate friends, realizing that the physical things one needs to be happy are few and that pain seldom lasts long, and, most importantly, being an affectionate, virtuous person, worthy of trust.

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Why the war on drugs is worse than the drugs themselves.

May 16, 2017 | By | Reply More

Peter Christ, founder of LEAP (“Law Enforcement Action Partnership”). The war on drugs is worse than the drugs themselves, as Peter Christ’s explains in this video:

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Appellate Law in the Trenches

May 4, 2017 | By | Reply More

I was happy with the turnout and quality of speakers for today’s seminar sponsored by the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis: “Appellate Lawyering in the Trenches.” I had the honor of being the organizer, but most of the work was done by the following presenters: Eric Martin, Beth Carver and Barbara Smith (Bryan Cave), Jeff McPherson (Armstrong Teasdale), Hon. Colleen Dolan and Joy Hannell (Missouri Court of Appeals), John Campbell (Campbell Law),and Shannan Hall (BAMSL). We have already received lots of good feedback from those attending and I look forward to doing something like this again within the next year or two.

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Charles Glenn Continues to Earn the Spotlight

May 4, 2017 | By | 1 Reply More

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch recently featured this article on Charles Glenn, best known these days for singing the national anthem a cappella at Blues games. He has a strong clear voice even now, in his early 60’s. I applaud his successes for many reasons. He is genuinely an upbeat generous man, a dedicated dad with a wonderful sense of humor and unrelenting creativity.

Back in the 1970s, when we were mere teenagers, Charles and I were co-leaders of the 8-piece St. Louis jazz-rock band “Ego.” I was the guitarist and Charles was lead singer (of course), which he excelled at while playing a full set of drums. I’m really proud of what we accomplished. And I continue to celebrate Charles Glenn’s many successes.

[caption id="attachment_28180" align="aligncenter" width="602"] Ego, Circa 1974[/caption]
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About people who are “Anti-Science”

May 2, 2017 | By | Reply More

Good article in Scientific American reminding us that those who are science-adverse or science-ignorant in some ways embrace science in other ways.  That should be obvious, in that creationists are willing to fly in airplanes and those who reject vaccines love to use their smart phones.  But this article goes further, and warns us that slapping people with with a general anti-science label risks driving them further into scientific ignorance.

People’s relationship with science is much more complex and nuanced than “pro-science” or “anti-science.” We need to correct some of the misconceptions we have and show that what is often labeled as “anti-science” or “science denial” is often better understood as isolated incidents of motivated bias. In general, trust in science is much higher than we often realize, in part because it includes a lot of people we might often consider “anti-science.”

The conclusions of this article:

  • There is a deep respect for scientists and the scientific process.
  • People often use what they believe to be credible scientific findings to argue against actual, credible scientific findings.
  • It is often the implied solutions of scientific findings that motivate denial.
  • People often deny the relevance of facts, not just their correctness.
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How safe is it to have even one nuclear weapon?

April 27, 2017 | By | Reply More
How safe is it to have even one nuclear weapon?

When I was a child, my school would have nuclear attack drills, which involved quickly climbing under a desk of walking quickly to the basement of the school. I think the general strategy was to go somewhere special to essentially kiss your ass goodbye.  That was in the 1960’s where a neighbor in Florissant had actually built a bomb shelter in the front yard, and you can still see the entry to that shelter.  In the decade since the 1960s, I’ve gradually stopped thinking so much about the world’s arsenal of nuclear weapons, even though they are extremely dangerous to possess, even for a country that has them for the supposed purpose of using them against another county.

See time code 1:17 of this excellent documentary by Eric Schlosser, “Command and Control,” where it is revealed that a declassified military report indicates that there have been more than 1,000 U.S. accidents involving nuclear weapons, at least 31 of these posing serious risks of accidental detonation, risking the lives of countless Americans.

It is a miracle that none of these have resulted in nuclear detonations. From the American Experience Website: “Based on the critically-acclaimed book by Eric Schlosser, this chilling documentary exposes the terrifying truth about the management of America’s nuclear arsenal and shows what can happen when the weapons built to protect us threaten to destroy us.”

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On interfering with elections

April 25, 2017 | By | Reply More

The U.S. has accused Russia of interfering with the recent U.S. Presidential election. That accusation needs to be viewed in context:

The U.S. has a long history of attempting to influence presidential elections in other countries – it’s done so as many as 81 times between 1946 and 2000, according to a database amassed by political scientist Dov Levin of Carnegie Mellon University.

That number doesn’t include military coups and regime change efforts following the election of candidates the U.S. didn’t like, notably those in Iran, Guatemala and Chile. Nor does it include general assistance with the electoral process, such as election monitoring.

This  information is from a detailed article in the LA Times, with many specifics. For instance, the U.S. tried to interfere with the election of the Russian leader in 1996. According to the same article, Russia attempted to interfere with “36 foreign elections from the end of World War II to the turn of the century.”

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