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This blog is the work of an educated civilian, not of an expert in the fields discussed.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween

Story via Tweet. (Pic unrelated!)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Railway Man

Caught a bit but could not get into the film and the book is written in a way that fits the author but not something I could read thru either. Still, read parts and it is powerful stuff of someone who suffers torture and imprisonment in WWII and decades later (the film starts with a meet cute; the book is more linear) meets a translator from back then, obtaining some sense of closure and release. Hard to imagine humanity's cruelty and survival at times.

A bit more on that Stay From Execution ...

I noted the USSC granted a stay of an execution. It, with Sotomayor dissenting, denied another from the same person that challenged the state's planned use of a made-to-order execution drug produced by an unidentified compounding pharmacy. I link to a news article since you can't tell from the USSC website. This continues the justices, though more than one dissented in various cases, not saying a word on the latest execution drug controversies.

And More: The opposition to medical involvement in lethal injections adds to the cause of use of inert gas or firing squads, that is, if we use the death penalty at all.

"Justice Samuel Alito on the Bill of Rights’ meaning here and globally"

Linda Greenhouse's latest had a look back to the undocumented schoolchildren case of Plyler v. Doe and compared it to the recent voting rights case out of Texas.  John Roberts as a young member of the Reagan Administration supporting reining in statutory voting protections and also was not a big fan of Plyler.

Alito's conservative bona fides also show themselves early.  Still, there is some common ground, as seen in a recent meeting of Yale grads (Thomas, Alito and Sotomayor; the other six -- though Ginsburg has a footnote -- are Harvard alums).  Also, Alito gave some words honoring the Bill of Rights, showing in a broad sense, we are united more than we are not.  He connected the Declaration of Independence and the BOR:
The seed that became the Bill of Rights was planted here in Philadelphia in 1776 when the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence,” he said. “The Declaration of Independence proclaims the every person has a certain unalienable rights that are precious to us. The Bill of Rights codifies the promise of the Declaration of Independence., it codifies unalienable rights that are precious to us as Americans.
 And, he talked about how government power and rights go together:
And today we can see that both of those groups were perceptive. On the one hand, the government has grown to a size that the founding generation could never had imagined, and the Bill of Rights is vitally needed to keep the federal government and the state governments in check, to make sure they do not violate precious individual rights. At the same time, however, without the governmental structure that the Constitution created, the Bill of Rights would be like an arm without a body. Constitutional provisions protecting individual rights are worse than useless if they are not backed up by a governmental structure to enforce those rights.
Alito also spoke about how human rights were honored globally. And, he ends with how ultimately rights are honored in our hearts -- Hamilton once noted that words on parchments alone is not enough. The opponents of the Bill of Rights were wrong to not accept that though it might not be enough, it helps. Alito spoke of judicial review, but also overall recognized that the courts are not the only way rights are protected.

It often is not even the most important way.  

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Game 7 -- is pitching a god fair?

Game turned on an infield single basically ... and Madison "baseball god" Bumgarnder. Five innings of nothing (or 4.2 than a last bit of hope). Unbelievable etc. etc. Oh hell with it. What a boring World Series that was mostly bullpen with a bit of starter (Shields finally had a good six but then you know Madison and the KC pen deciding to suck). Again, blah.

One way to celebrate National Cat Day ...

Her opening is imaging yourself at a dinner party and eating a delicious stew. You ask for the recipe and it turns out it is dog meat. This horrifies you, but then the host laughs and says she was just kidding. It's "only" beef. Well, that's fine.
My previous remarks about Dr. Melanie Joy and her discussion of carnism (quoting the Amazon summary of her book -- "the belief system that has conditioned us to eat certain animals and not others"). It goes beyond speciesism. Our selective concern of animals (happy National Cat Day) fits in with our broad ability to draw lines that do not always seem logical but then we are talking about humans, not Vulcans. So, we are very concerned about let's say carriage horses (at least some people) but not so much factory farmed "food" animals. 

This came to mind when -- after making a Halloween themed joke about "Kit Kats" on another topic -- when Stephen Colbert last night talked about some NRA involved pressures in Pennsylvania. Put aside a litigation friendly measure (lawsuits are okay for us), the particularly notable action is a move to stop sales of dogs and cats for human consumption. On some level, you know, this seems curious -- we kill lots of them for purposes of population control, so it seems wasteful and all.  The ultimate purpose was to protect pigeon shoots, but the whole thing does sound squicky. 

Now, breeding them merely for that purpose is different, yes -- not a big fan of  specialty breeds for adoption either with so many strays.  Likewise, eating roadkill probably would be humane. At any rate, by one count, forty-four states allow the personal consumption of dog and cat meat. And, some people think it bad when people eat cat food. The state of New York prohibits "any person to slaughter or butcher domesticated dog or domesticated cat to create food, meat or meat products for human or animal consumption."  Note the qualifier.  Legal research: determine what "domesticated" adds to the equation.  Yeah, will get right at that.

There is some concern that use of cats and other domestic animals will lead to some negative results involving pet owners. So, perhaps use of them for research will lead to some neighborhood pets to be wrongly seized.  It's a relatively minor concern. The real matter is that people have an emotional connection to dogs and cats -- articles about this story, e.g., have pictures of cute dogs and readers imagine eating them. Now, this doesn't faze a lot of people when dealing with animals society eats overall.  Remember those Starkist commercials where the fish is upset about not being taken to be eaten?  See commercials now with cutesy cows promoting milk and cheese.  Find them a tad creepy.

Still, Dr. Joy's presentation comes to mind. Logically, why is it a problem to breed etc. cats and dogs for human consumption?  The basic reason is that we respect them too much as "persons" or something close to them to find that appropriate. I asked the author of an animal rights book about consumption of animals who die from natural causes and she concluded that it still was immoral.  The matter is complicated because if you allow it, there will be promotion of other usage of animals for consumption. But, even independently, it would be bad because it demeans them. We don't after all think of eating naturally dying humans.

The additional respect given to certain animals that are not treated like food is not somehow totally horrible.  I realize this, so let's put that aside. But, still, there is a certain disconnect here and arbitrariness. This is part of why ultimately I became a vegetarian.  If we are going to respect animals and care about animal welfare (and perhaps even not like fur or veal), allowing millions of animals to suffer for our palate seems wrong to me.  Big fan of pussy cats myself -- hey Yogee, Simon, Paris et. al.! -- but not so much that mistreatment of pigs, cows and so forth suddenly don't matter to me.

As Mark Kelly and Gabrielle Giffords recently wrote in Enough, the NRA is rightly um "targeted" for various reasons, and doing so here is fine. Plus, it's clearly comedy gold.  Still ... 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Last Execution of Year in Texas?

After a late appeal was rejected (for some reason -- we have no grounds to be told -- Breyer did not take part), Miguel Angel Paredes, whose bio suggests his fate was far from surprising, was executed. Don't find this overly useful myself. Update: With lots of former judges etc. pushing for it, USSC does stay an execution 6-3. No need to wait this long. And, given the rarity of it, how about a damn short opinion explaining why?!

Just a Reminder ...

More here. Meanwhile, Obama's "war" on whistle-blowers. And, this really makes me find the institution pathetic. Do you LIKE promoting abortions this much? Again, I will say it over and over again, if this level of purity is sooooooo important to you, you have to be consistent and support pure separation and practicably impossible to uphold broad exemptions. You do not.


The author of the (in)famous Heather Has Two Mommies wrote this book for teens that realistically provides us the voice of an outcast girl from 1971 (dedication implies based on someone; was written in 2000s) who has a relationship with an older man. Nothing profound, story a bit thin at spots, but deals with a touchy subject pretty well.

Want to Change Your Carrier? No? Have A Blessed Day!

I was reading in a public place recently and some Mormon missionary gave me a card and Starkist, but had no sample DVD of the "we're Mormon" documentary she spoke about. Bad planning. Ended, like someone referenced here and a person that I spoke to on the phone earlier with "have a blessed day." Like a comment there, no, I don't mind that. Thanks to changing evangelical minds on LGBT. And those nurses/doctors who ministered EBOLA sick? Talk about "Christian" duty! And, talking about EBOLA, compare Obama with Reagan.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Obama As Sign To Vote "D" Next Tuesday

I personally from the beginning thought Obama was too restrained even if in some respects he appeals to my inner core but it is good to remember that in various ways he was well worth it. One reason to show up (reducing turnout leans conservative) and vote Democrat.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Sunday Sports etc.

Long day of football with a morning game from London (Falcons blew it) though not too many surprises. One sorta was how horrible Jets played. Cards win over Eagles best game overall. Oakland still winless. Baseball - Shields actually did okay. But, hitting and relief did not. World Series pretty boring so far. Death Comes to Pemberley (didn't like book much) started pretty well if with a weaker final third. Old fave on tv -- Desperately Seeking Susan.

RIP Gloria Casarez

Leader in GLBT movement dies at 42.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Election Day Posts

It's only ten days away and some places already ongoing! Sen. Gillibrand with Julia Margulies, a reason to protest vote against Gov. Cuomo, why arguments for voting id laws (a time when conservatives like regulations) don't add up & key NY re-districting ballot measure up in air.

RZ Comes Back After A Few Years, Not Looking Like RZ

If Ms. "You Had Me At Hello" wants it fine, though the "it's good living" bit sounds (looks?) lame, but as this article notes, there are negatives to using surgery to clear away what made you distinctive and/or familiar to people. Like Tina Fey -- she looks too glamorous. Jennifer Aniston too tanned and polished. Not going to lie and say never think some work makes a person looks better. But, it is far from always true. Also, moderation is often a good thing.