Various thoughts on current events with an emphasis on politics, legal issues, books, movies and whatever is on my mind. Emails can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org; please put "blog comments" in the subject line.
Earlier, I noted that the NYT wasn't too interesting today. Sure enough. A few comments. First, there was something about being an atheist at Christmas time. Silly. Christmas is largely not about believing in a God, surely one whose son in some fashion was born in a manger. Is Santa Claus too related to belief in a God? A former neighbor was Jewish, so was Jesus so they say, but they still put up Xmas directions. And, no specification of the "X." The holiday arose from ancient origins, connected to the solstice surely, and fit into the Christians' worldview. Not the other way around. Think of Thanksgiving -- generally speaking not really deemed a religious holiday, but it harkens back to days of thanksgiving (and humiliation), which do have a religious competent.
Second, a book review of John Yoo's and Bruce Ackerman's latest (two books, mind you) annoyed. Yoo for the usual, Ackerman for his thought that somehow we needed some sort of special emergency Constitution or something the next time some 9/11 deal came. Again, you can go to the website to take a look at the story, but this sort of thing is tedious. The review is pretty dismissive, if trying not to be too much so, of Yoo -- how can "trust us" really warrant anything else, especially when we know the record of "us?" Ackerman was a slightly different matter -- a nod to how at least he is thinking about the problem, etc. But, the conclusion reminded us that those famous German saboteurs in WWII ... the leaders surrendered themselves, more attached to the U.S. (and its values) deep down.
Do we want to surrender them, even temporarily for some "emergency?" BA in a fashion doesn't quite trust the Constitution either. There is no need for some emergency powers ... the emergency situation is taken care of by respecting the basic constitutional principles used the rest of the time. The general idea that a Patriot Act sort of deal (or something more limited) should have a time limit is fine, but at some point, you get a time limited grant of power one rather not obtain, and wonder if it is worth it or will be relinquished after that time is up. Talking about our values, Peter Singer had a piece on the importance and ultimate moral obligation of private charity (not denying the importance of the government too, something many do). It got a bit longwinded too soon, but he's right. One of those things underlining how we are not quite as civilized deep down as we think we are.
As to football, today suggests the value of having two NY teams to root for. The Jets -- who were said to be likely to be about 6-10 (I thought 8-8 was quite possible) -- are more alive these days (middle of the pack, but such is the name of the game across the leagues) than the Giants (losers of five of six, the one win vs. the Panthers, the back-up QB harkening back to the team's 1-15 season). On the subject of back-up QBs, the Eagles are doing pretty good with one (3-1), hmm? I saw enough struggling play from the Giants to turn the game off. Last I checked, it was 14-13, Eagles, late third. Missed the Eagles scoring 22 in the fourth, to the Giants' 9. Darn. Oh, btw ... still not dead. Those last seeds need more than this sort of lackluster play to be eliminated.
The Jets had a good game. So, wanting to leave the day on a good note, it was off to the movies. The Secret Life of Words. Ah, Tim Robbins again. Robbins is having a pretty nice career for himself, when not being called a leftist traitor sort for his political convictions. He already had a movie this year where he played a South African military officer or something whose actions leads a black family man to become a freedom fighter for the cause. He also has that mature/sexy guy thing going for him, perhaps to prove that he isn't that much younger than his wife. Anyway, this time he plays a temporarily blinded oil worker nursed by a mysterious young woman played by Sarah Polley, who doesn't even seem to be a nurse at first. Clearly, though, she suffered some trauma as well.
See here, spoiler, to see the sort of thing at stake. Overall, very good acting work from the two, though I did not quite like the ending. In a fashion, the movie fits the theme of this entry overall. Left me with one more reading to do though.