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

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Legend of the Monk and the Merchant : Twelve Keys for Successful Living

I received this book free from Book Sneeze in return for a review.  Any opinions here are of the writer alone.

This is the latest version of this book with a forward provided by Dave Ramsey.  The message of this book is that business and making money is not inherently evil and that this is a misguided approach to take, including if you follow biblical commands.  The true moral, biblical path here is different and the book provides twelve keys for successful living, that is, living a good life that honor's God's path.  This reminds me of Jesus' parable where someone was criticized for simply, to him sensibly, just in effect "safely" keeping his money under the proverbial mattress.  This "no risk, no reward" approach was rejected.  What would Jesus' ministry lead to, after all, if no risks were taken, just playing it safe?

The reference to a parable is appropriate, since this book uses a similar approach: a story of a monk and merchant taking place in the Renaissance is used to provide lessons, the reader informed while being entertained by a good story.  The book provides the parable and then a "study guide" that provides a commentary that guides the reader. 

This all is done in under two hundred pages, so it is both entertaining and an overall quick read.  Besides being enjoyable and morally satisfying, it is an attractive volume with a pretty cover.  

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Serious Debby Ryan

I like her in Suite Life On Deck though her new show is not as well written. So, checked out via a library rental her serious guest shot on Private Practice, where she bonds with a cast member at a drug treatment center. Not fan of show but not bad on her part, though it's fairly brief.  She also was good in somewhat "serious" roles in Radio Rebel and What If.

Susan Rice / Kerry's Seat?

Rachel Maddow had long segment suggesting Republican targeting Susan Rice is really about getting Kerry's Senate seat. In a "never mind," isn't it true that he is also up there as a possibility for Secretary of Defense? Also, Dems have 55 votes now. I'm more game in thinking it is about foreign policy posturing. This might be an "and also" reason.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Ice Princess is an appealing look at passions, fears, and dreams through a female p.o.v. Add in a bit of wish fulfillment. Kim Cattrall also has a change of pace role that works. The mom has a good line about the daughter's hopes to go into ice skating having a ten year expiration rate. Is that really compelling for a teenager? Ten years! In fact, many adults would appreciate something wherein they can be truly passionate for a decade. Let the rest of the life be somewhat mundane ... those ten years will make a lifetime. For some, it's much less than that.

Why am I reposting this comment from 2006?  Well, the teen science nerd turned ice skater is played by Michelle Trachtenberg, who does a little skating in an episode of Mercy.  You know, the show I just watched on DVD -- that is, the full season that was all that aired.  The DVD allowed quick viewing, ff-ing past some stuff, closed captioning allowing me even to see what was being said at times. A flashback to another project, intentional or not, was but one t.v./film geek moment. The elder Gilmore girl taking heroin among other things as her character here suffered a debilitating disease was one somewhat surreal moment.

As I quickly noted before, the show as a whole was pretty good, though it overdoses on drama. A character is introduced, e.g., largely to have something bad happen to her. The show also ended with more than one major cliffhanger, ones never dealt with, given the cancellation.  Bummer.  Still, good opening music, net plus on good dramatic scenes and K.K. Moggie plays a cute level-headed doctor ... would liked to have seen more of her.  James LeGros -- who has his own drama -- is my favorite doctor character though.  Better with the beard. Some extras, including two commentaries, one with crew, one with the three lead nurses. 

So many hospital, legal and crime dramas of late, so it's not too surprising that this one was lost among them.  Still, it had week to week "watch me" qualities (a few good story arcs) and some dramatic chops.  Good find.


The last book and one I'm skimming now on non-violence were obtained cheap on Amazon. Wish the current book (title omitted out of boredom) was not so boring textbook-like since the subject matter, the history of the idea, is so important. A certain form of Christianity, particularly the importance of individual conscience, is a dominant theme.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Jesus on Death Row

This small volume authored by a former federal prosecutor uses Jesus' execution, from a believer's p.o.v., to discuss the death penalty and criminal justice as a whole. It covers a lot of ground and is thought provoking on various levels. His columns are good too.

Rev. Joe: Imperfect God?

One good subplot of Mercy concerned a religious man having a crisis of faith when he didn't see God when he [the guy, not God] "died" for three minutes. The nurse suggested good and evil are ultimately in people. Meanwhile, if there is a God, it seems it is more likely God was imperfect. And, that would be okay. It would make more sense and seem more fair.

Sunday Stuff

The odds said it would be close, but the NYG whipped the Packers. The other games were fairly ho hum though the Jags might have a QB, at least they are showing some life. Meanwhile, watching Mercy on DVD -- a nurse show from a few years ago, it ODs on drama, but has some good moments. The lead, lol, was in the first Atlas Shrugged movie.

Saturday, November 24, 2012


iCarly imho got tired in the last year or so, so it's a good time for the show to say goodbye. The last episode, where we meet her dad, was nice enough, but it didn't have the charm of early episodes. So, basically, part of a theme.  Victorious is next up.

Friday, November 23, 2012

October Baby [SPOILER]

I knew where this was coming from before watching it, but its journey of self-discovery plot seemed worthwhile. It was -- a young woman finds out she was the product of a botched abortion (it happens but since >1% of abortions occur when a fetus is viable, rather rarely), struggles with it and goes on a search to find her birth mother.  Her father is scared for her and doesn't think she can handle the full truth (yes, there's more) while a childhood friend that clearly loves her helps.  She is a Christian, but this isn't forced down our throat much -- there is a moment of truth in a church, but yeah, some people believe and the message is fairly universal. 

There are really only two well known actors in the film, one in a very good cameo (see also, Diamond Men), though maybe one or more of the others popped up in something else.  Still, I thought the acting was good overall, especially for an independent message film (some on Amazon hated it, partially since instant video has a vague description; the rental box made it fairly clear it was a pro-life film ... films have messages, some we don't like).  The film also doesn't lay things that thick -- a few scenes flag its sympathies, but  much of it is a typical young person's personal journey with quirky characters sort of thing.   The best way to promote something.

I'm pro-choice, add the duh for anyone not a newbie, but appreciated this film overall. Early on, there was some implication that survivors of abortion (of course, most abortions don't occur at 24 weeks, but most death penalty trials don't have innocent defendants or very sympathetic ones either, a theme in more than one film too) suffer psychologically somehow. It was all very vague.  But, other than that, and a mention that the woman who adopted her volunteered at a "crisis pregnancy center" (just cited, those in the know will catch it), the film isn't really some sort of bad propaganda piece.  It is about Hannah's journey to acceptance.

It amounts to an adopted child's journey and those occur, down to them forgiving their birth mother, and the mother's desire to forget about that time in her life. Toss in a cute love story and a realistic look at the conflicted feelings of the couple who adopted here. And, the ultimate theme is one of forgiveness.  The nurse who helped her birth mother has a powerful anti-abortion message to give, but someone who helped perform late term abortions would be akin to those who helped rape victims get an abortion -- I don't think 24 week fetuses are mere tissue either.

The viewer might elide that and the vast majority that occur early on, yes.  Still, rather understandable.  Even then, the message of forgiveness is not that of a stereotypical right wing sort of thing.  I'm game there.  The music was a bit heavy-handed but the film was not. The DVD has some extras, including from an actual abortion survivor and the credits provides a surprise about the woman who played the birth mother. 

Ken Burns' Civil War

A teacher told me her students found this documentary, which I watched repeatedly, very boring. Kids today! Could have been a not exciting part, but still. Meanwhile, his daughter wrote a book on the infamous Central Park rape case, that turned out to be a major travesty of justice, and made a documentary on the matter. Will check out the book later.

Vote Counting

A few cite with a bit of a sneer that a few state elections weren't completed for days or for over a week, including Florida. Florida had various problems, but on some level, who cares? So, it takes a bit of time to count the votes in certain real close elections. Imagine if Florida was allowed to finish its count in 2000. Waiting a couple days in Florida wasn't a big deal.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Scare But Dallas Loses

Up 28-3 at the Half, the Redskins made it interesting, but when it got to be 35-28, they iced it with a long drive and a field goal. Jets had a comedy of errors in the first half, in effect giving the Pats 21 points in about a span of a minute. First goal now is not to have them have another 50+ game. [Update: Success! Final 49-19. Sad, obviously.]

Detroit Yet Again Lose on Thanksgiving

Dubious call [and coach stupidity on it] helped but also again and again not icing it. [Update: On that new rule, give the moron a 15 yard penalty, but have the automatic replay. Denying it is gratuitous. Concur. As to the two point try, reasonable but not totally sure.]

Right To Jets Beating The Pats?

Alex Kozinski red flags some concerns about "natural law" here, but as I note in comments, things like saying a right to choose an abortion is one isn't necessarily a problem for me.  Natural rights to me are those society determines are basic to justice arising from our needs and experiences.  It provides at least some background context to right determination.  Something Benjamin Cardozo once said seems appropriate:
If, however, we can attribute to law the epithet 'natural,' it is, as we have said, in a different sense from that which formerly attached to the expression 'natural law.' That expression then meant that nature had imprinted in us, as one of the very elements of reason, certain principles of which all the articles of the code were only the application. The same expression ought to mean today that law springs from the relations of fact which exist between things. Like those relations themselves, natural law is in perpetual travail. It is no longer in texts or in systems derived from reason that we must look for the source of law; it is in social utility, in the necessity that certain consequences shall be attached to given hypotheses. The legislator has only a fragmentary consciousness of this law; he translates it by the rules which he prescribes. When the question is one of fixing the meaning of those rules, where ought we to search? Manifestly at their source; that is to say, in the exigencies of social life. There resides the strongest probability of discovering the sense of the law. In the same way when the question is one of supplying the gaps in the law, it is not of logical deductions, it is rather of social needs, that we are to ask the solution.
Don't expect me to be familiar with the whole text.  What I get out of this, however, is that there is an underlining "consciousness" that guides legislators and judges for that matter, and helps determine the nature of rights. This consciousness is a result of "social life," more broadly, our experiences as a society.  It helps to fill in the gaps, the text only going so far though it clearly helps and restrains some, including when determining what "due process" or the Ninth Amendment means. 

Alan D. wrote Rights From Wrongs: A Secular Theory of the Origins of Rights in which he rejects natural rights. The book, however, to me doesn't quite do that.  "Natural rights" -- this is the charm as well as the burden -- has always had a broad meaning and rights that society (not God necessarily) determines are necessary by the "nature" of things can fit the bill.  These are fundamental rights (e.g., the grand jury is not "natural" while freedom of speech is) necessary to true happiness given our natural needs and make-up.  There is a "natural" connection there.

Anyway, a happy thanksgiving, and a big thank you to everyone who makes life that much more worth living.  And, go Jets.

Silent House (Panting Actress)

I keep on seeing Elizabeth Olsen as a victim of a cult or something -- this is before watching much of the film (Martha Marcy May Marlene or 4M ... not really) -- while flicking through the channels.  Her film is one of various that repeatedly is on cable like a real bad teen vampire spoof that is sort of anti-funny.  At first, thought she was one of the Olsen twins -- she does look like them -- but it turns out she is their younger sister.  Olsen does have acting chops and is blessed with having the chance to show them off recently in a bunch of films where she acts up a storm in various genres.

Silent House is not a problem because of her personally -- I agree with various reviews (see, e.g., Rotten Tomatoes) that suggest she does a good job with the material.  It is just very annoying material.  One review notes rightly enough that it "has enough material for 25 good minutes" and that the charm of her "screams and panting wears off" after awhile.  For me, it was about five minutes.  Olsen's character is terrified after about five minutes or so once the film gets into gear (with implications she has some unclear "issues" early on, but that's typical in these sorts of thriller/horror flicks) and really it seems a tad premature.  She does terrified well, but a little of that goes a long way. 

The film has a gimmick where everything is like in one continual take, which is not really novel or anything (Hitchcock did it in Rope, but that had more you know, plot), but it basically amounts to her stressed out as she runs around the house a lot.  I basically fast forwarded the damn thing after a half hour or so, figuring there was some point to all of this.  There is a certain charm to the film technique and seeing things through her singular point of view. Still don't think there is enough here for a full length film.  It would have been better as a short subject.  The "tell" doesn't improve matters really.  It is actually a bit confusing, which is okay, since it is meant to be symbolic or something. If it wasn't so borrringggg....

Anyways, liked her enough to reserve two more of her films, including that one I keep on flicking past on cable.  This one has a commentary track, but the film itself annoyed me enough that I skipped it.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Anatomy of An Execution

Translation from legalese to lingo: Screwing up, messing up and getting mixed up happen when you are under 18.
Co-written by his final spiritual adviser, who also was a former teacher, this is an eloquent book that covers the life to execution of someone now barred from being executed because the crime was committed when he was seventeen.  Roper v. Simmons came in 2005; Douglas Christopher Thomas died five years earlier, before he was thirty years old.  A summary of the book's purposes was offered by the other author:
[A] case study by which to highlight and explore such questions as the execution of minors, the quality of legal defense provided by court-appointed counsel, the trial and appeals process of capital cases, the prison conditions on death row, the methods of execution and the role of spiritual advisors.

The authors are against the death penalty and believe in the humanity of those executed, and this person in particular (the even younger girlfriend, who helped him kill her parents so that they could stay together -- not that the parents did much really to keep them apart -- is looked at with a scornful eye).* They don't let him off the hook though believe his execution was particularly wrong, something others (including the trial judge) felt as well.  This comes out in various passage,  but the core value of the book is that it provides a comprehensive look at the history and process of execution in Virginia as well as one in particular.

When I check the Supreme Court website for orders, from time to time, there are denials of final appeals in death penalty cases.  Looking at the details, these cases repeatedly involve heinous crimes.  The crime here in effect was a heinous crime of passion by a mixed-up immature teenager.  He was defended at trial by two overwhelmed first time death attorneys, the book pointing out various places where this strongly hurt his case, particularly in the sentencing phase.  This is one of those cases where we see the arbitrary nature of the application of the death penalty.

The girl here was fourteen, so too young to be tried as an adult, so was only kept in confinement for a few years.  It is arbitrary, though the same might be said for a similarly immature nineteen year old after Simmons, that she is out now, married, particularly since it was her parents killed. The net value to society to execute him is unclear to me though at least it appears Thomas obtained some peace, growing to maturely accept what he did and have remorse, to the degree others could so determine.  I see him as a human being in that respect and would if he was some twenty-five year old person who killed someone for less "sympathetic" reasons.  But, his youth and so forth does help the reader some.

Scott Turow in Ultimate Punishment: A Lawyer's Reflections on Dealing with the Death Penalty references someone he helped, someone who killed in a "mundane" way that does not reach the narrow range of particularly heinous murders that states determine justify the death penalty.  Given mitigating factors, this case fits the bill.  The authors agree that the person here is not to be judged by the worst of his acts, which would be true too for a murderer of a police officer.  Each person probably has their own story to put such acts in context, but such a person as just noted would entail a somewhat different kind of book.

But, the death penalty is not only about the "worst of the worst," who repeatedly have their own mitigation aspects. There will always be some Douglas Christopher Thomas sort of character, even if he or she is not a troubled teen when doing the crime.  And, the person is also a window into a wider subject matter, which again is here told eloquently.  Photographs help provide this tone, including those of the murder victims and a person who helped him, herself knowing a family member murdered.

 A both well documented and emotional book, this is much recommended.


* I'm against the death penalty, but I felt myself a bit more empathic of the other side at times.  For instance, the "death squad" who fights to oppose those working on appeals.  Of course, they are gung ho -- each side here has a mentality and a sense of perspective is somewhat like the defensive line during a game considering the humanity of the offensive line of the other team.  They do, but only up to a point. 

Also, again Jessica Wiseman was fourteen at the time of the crime. Yes, she was an immature manipulative thing, but what would one expect, especially after she was convicted? After all, she was locked up in a juvenile facility based on her very immaturity.  It is noted that Thomas was very sexually active in part as a "masculine" coping mechanism affected by his specific biography. She had her own twisted means of coping and as a human being in her own fashion is a tragic case. 

The parts inspired in particular by the spiritual adviser also lay it on a bit thick about how he was a beautiful soul and so on though I can understand how serving such a role would touch a person.  

Rudman: Actually Serious Pol

Prof. Dorf has a good post on Sen. Rudman (RIP), noting even if one disagrees with certain of his policies, he was "reality based" and helped give us Souter. And, being so, Rudman actually didn't think Souter's outdated form of conservatism on the Court was a surprise.

Some silliness

Some can handle it, obviously, but somewhat curious what goes through the minds of the Obamas when (if) they eat turkey tomorrow. That's one big looking bird.

Pardoning Turkeys?

If President Obama follows tradition and this week, it will be a ceremony rich in irony. While the president has been a regular dispenser of clemency to fowl, he has not been so generous to humans. It is time for that disjuncture to end.
Concur. The op-ed writer is a former federal prosecutor.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Right to secede?

Talk of secession is not meant to be taken literally. Instead, those who raise the subject wish to underscore the degree to which cultural and political divisions track geographic ones. Appearances can be deceptive, however. Blue states contain many Republicans, just as red states contain many Democrats. Even the rhetorical point of contemporary secessionists is thus subject to question.
Before current noises, there were (less noisy) talk, leading to an interesting discussion of the legal nuances of the matter.  I don't recall talk of hundreds of thousands (really?) after Bush won in 2004, but then opposition to a bad President and being a crackpot, different things.  Still, signing an online petition with no chance of passing is realistically symbolic here.  Secession being "bad law and policy," notwithstanding.

Lyle Denniston in a recent essay on the subject noted:
In order to overrule Texas v. White by constitutional amendment, a secession proposal would have to modify the very Preamble of the Constitution, in which the nation’s people created “a more perfect Union,” and would have to wipe out the guarantee in Article IV of a “republican form of government” in each state. Those were the provisions of the Constitution on which the Supreme Court relied in 1869. And the nation’s people deeply revere those constitutional commitments.
A 1869 ruling is not necessarily binding for all time, but we can accept it as precedent. Texas v. White, 5-3, noted that "in all its provisions, looks to an indestructible Union, composed of indestructible States" and even though Texas didn't have representation in Congress etc., it was still a "state" during the Civil War and under military government.  The dissent argued it was not a "state" for purposes of the case, not answering the question of its presence in the union during the war.  

As the linked Dorf essay notes, states are not necessarily "indestructible" as seen by the presence of the states of Maine and West Virginia, both voluntary (the latter open to some question) offshoots of larger states, Massachusetts and Virginia.  As the ruling itself noted: "There was no place for reconsideration or revocation, except through revolution or through consent of the States." The amendment process provides a possible means to such agreement as might congressional agreement, which is after all how Texas entered the union. 

The concern here is an involuntary (that is, regarding the nation as a whole) secession of one or more states.  Revolution is one way to go here and we had our own -- the American "Revolution."  But, that seems so radical.  Thus, some try to find a means within the existing system to justify what some claim is not allowed.  Sometimes, the result is really a revolution of the current law (honestly, such was the case for various Warren Court rulings, including those alleging to follow precedent) though not admitted as such.  There is a lot of play in the joints.

The Civil War is seen by many as a test of history that secession is not legal under our constitutional system.  I question this, even if Lincoln (see also, the Dorf essay) is honored by many on this point.  Basically, history determined defending slavery (yeah, that's what it did) was not a valid reason, nor losing a fairly run national election. Election has consequences and all that.  To take the quote in mind, what the national government truly was not guaranteeing a republican form of government? Would remaining in a tyrannous system in effect be non-republican?
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
The Declaration of Independence appealed to natural law to defend the actions of the colonists, ending with an assertion of "power ... to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do."  Sounds to me like a legal argument of sorts -- they would be independent states pursuant to the laws of nations.  In effect, the document sets forth a contractual argument that once things get bad enough, the people have a right to rebel.  It is in effect a duty.  To me, this is a "legal" argument.

There were a few posts at Volokh Conspiracy (I linked to one) and the general sentiment seemed to be that there isn't a legal argument here, just a revolutionary one.  Eh.  We as a nation defended our revolution in our basic defense to said act at least partially in legal terms, a legal mindset being of special importance, not religion, conquest or nativity.  The Ninth Amendment cites unenumerated rights that arise in part from natural rights and the government in place has no legitimate power to deny them.  Said "power" is thus limited and the DOI [and the 10A] suggests there is retained a certain popular power of self-help once this is ignored too much, the 2A ensuring self-defense is not denied as well.

I realize there was talk of "perpetual union" and a "more perfect union," but is it really credible that some time in the 18th Century a group can bind future generations for all time on this matter?  Surely, if one state decides things are horrible, it is very questionable, and it will realistically be a judgment of history (and often military conflict) to determine if it is correct.  The Confederate states failed on that.  But, putting aside their grounds and how easy they deemed it for them to leave, their argument to me was not totally wrong.  If tyrants truly controlled the nation, totally denying people a republican form of government, perpetual injustice does not to me seem the only "legal" path.  A foundation is necessary there.

So, I think it possible that there is a legal right to secede if certain criteria are met and that it would not be extralegal revolution. This nation is not merely a matter of governmental might.  The sovereignty retained by the people could in a horrible situation be the sole legitimate power, requiring them to establish new governments, including new nations.  The need, however, are not to be "light and transient causes" such as the "wrong" person winning an election with a program deemed strongly unjust by some minority of the populace.  Be it the New Deal or Bush's program.  More like Nazi control.

If this sort of natural law (which need not be based on a deity) argument is not what "legal" means in these debates, okay, but if basic rights are in effect natural, the argument might go further than some might like.

RIP Rudman

Former U.S. Sen. Warren Rudman, co-author of the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings deficit reduction act and a key backer of fellow Granite Stater David Souter’s being named to the U.S. Supreme Court, has died. He was 82. He died overnight, having been in declining health for some time.
Support of Souter alone is worthy of an attaboy.

Monday, November 19, 2012

MNF (No Tie for SF Tonight)

Various games where some underdogs showed some life, but the end result was as expected changed somewhat in a marquee battle of division leaders with back-up QBs.  The Bears' defense, however, was embarrassed, the offense getting something of a gift TD in a drive extended by a dubious penalty.  32-7, the Chicago D finishing on a penalty.

Non-voting PR Delegate On Recent Vote on Status

A change appears to be desired, even if the particular change is unclear.

Marijuana Legalization Measures Raise New Complexities

U.S. Rep. Adam Smith and 17 other U.S. Congress members formally asked the Department of Justice and Drug Enforcement Administration not to enforce federal drug laws against marijuana use in Washington and Colorado in a letter released Friday. Though both states have made regulated, recreational use of marijuana legal, federal agencies still have the power to enforce a federal ban on the drug.
This sentiment is popular if not unanimous.  The Administration early on made it a matter of policy to not target medicinal marijuana that was provided subsequent to state law.  For reasons the critics of the change in policy repeatedly don't make that clear to me (the confirmation of a strict DEA head seems notable), this hands-off policy changed to some degree mid-term.  The Administration is not ideal here though some positives can be cited.  No radical change against the "drug war" though. 

Two states now decriminalizing marijuana will raise new concerns, particularly since they do more [edit: but see comment by Marty Lederman questioning if the state itself will be in trouble] than merely decriminalize, which is different than non-enforcement or laws that make personal possession of small amounts a trivial matter or even protected (Alaska held that it was a matter of privacy).   Such is the rub -- the regulation and taxation of the substance is logical and all, but it raises more red flags for the federal government. Medicinal marijuana laws got three votes in the Supreme Court, but even the dissent didn't go further than that. Likewise, it noted that "homegrown cultivation and personal possession and use of marijuana for medicinal purposes has no apparent commercial character," while regulating the sale of the stuff surely does.

Even going beyond that narrow issue, states might be deemed to have more interest over health matters, covering medicinal use.  As noted in an article discussing the Supreme Court striking down a barrier to Oregon's euthanasia law:
While the court's decision was based on standard principles of administrative law, and not on the Constitution, it was clearly influenced by the majority's view that the regulation of medical practice belonged, as a general matter, to the states.
Of course, six justices upheld a federal policy against medicinal marijuana given the comprehensive scheme in place regulating drugs in a national and international commerce, holding even the limited effects of medicinal marijuana (somehow two justices felt differently for the PPACA) on said commerce justified overriding state law.  Still, the opposition had more bite than states going its own way on even recreational use of drugs.  Nonetheless, bite there is as a matter of policy and argument, particularly unless we are talking about major distribution and production centers. These still are largely matters of state concern ideally and in practice. 

Drug policy overall tends to have medical effects given the nature of the substance in question, even if the drugs in question are not used as traditional medicine.  Local crime policy is also something best left to the states and use of states as laboratories is totally appropriate here.  This too has constitutional implications, at least as a matter of policy that should be rejected only in compelling cases.  Personally, I also think use of marijuana is basically a personal liberty issue, even without the overlap with various specific constitutional provisions, including federalism concerns.*

Some benign neglect from the Obama Administration, while for form's sake at least not officially accepting the laws as valid, would be best.


*  Marijuana use over time repeated had various First Amendment implications, for instance.  It was a symbol of dissent, a social lubricant (association/assembly) and the mind altering functions had both communicative and religious/spiritual applications. Criminalization in practice violates the 4A, led to excessive punishments and is applied unequally.

And, general liberty concerns, including for personal health, warrants protection too. Meanwhile, for consenting adults, the state interests for criminalization were/are low, especially given the dangers of various legal substances. A separate amendment was deemed required to nationally target alcohol and that went badly.  Marijuana should be deemed similar in that respect.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Week 11: No Upsets Yet

The early games had various chances for bad teams to upset good ones, including the one win Jags pushing things to a third scoring in OT, but none won. Jags went for the win as OT was running low, helping Houston. Penalties hurt the Browns (and NYG). The Bucs got the late two pointer and won in OT. Meanwhile, the Jets convincingly beat mediocre competition. [Update: Late games, same theme.]

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Shall We Kiss?

After a friendly dinner, a French man goes to give an "innocent" good night kiss to a woman in town for business. She tells a story about the danger of such of thing. Cute film though it could have been about twenty minutes shorter. Things are dragged out though that does add some charm to the story (the meat of the film). Another fun rental. No real extras.

The Lieberman Party Gets A New Member

Chris Hayes ended today by noting Gov. Cuomo screwed Democrats this election cycle, down to not stepping in when someone who ran as a Democrat decided to caucus with Republicans, which matters given state senate control promises to be real close. This apparently was not a big surprise to everyone and he replaces someone who did this sort of thing too.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Rev. Joe (Kyrsten Sinema)

I know I said no more election stuff, but someone referenced Romney's religion, and this (from 2005) is great: "My state representative is a bisexual apostate Mormon! And Arizona's youngest legislator." Calling Trey Parker! Seriously, congrats. Arizona has some good people, not all like the asshole senator. Giffords' seat still too close to call. [Her guy won.]

Lincoln's Code: The Laws of War in American History

With a focus on the Civil War and Lieber's Code, this book covers in effect 1776-1914. It is not fully comprehensive but it's approachable to the lay reader and has a lot of good stuff. Jack Goldsmith liked it too. Overall, a continual theme is the pragmatic spirit of the enterprise, if resulting in some idealistic ends. Some very good vignettes.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Lying About Rice


McCain is a tired old [asshole] and Graham -- the fact he still is one of the more "reasonable" Republican senators just suggests merely "relatively" -- is repeatedly not much better.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Upcoming Battles: Cabinet

The fear is appointing Kerry will bring back Brown to the Senate, but heck, that's far from some gimmee (see comments), and if he's felt to be due, heck, why not? As to Rice, the tools (e.g., McCain) are in full force. B.S. alert. Perhaps, black women named "Rice" will be the "go to" now for DOS. I wonder who is up for Treasury. Meanwhile, remember him?

Upcoming Battles: Budget

Back in '04, one concern about supporting Dean was his stance on taxes, including not supporting middle class tax cuts enough. As with other things, and my online fiscal source said it was reasonable, I felt this meant he was opposed for being right. This "fiscal cliff" (O'Donnell/Hayes: fiscal curb) stuff is comparable. I'm inclined to think the best path would be LESS tax cuts, even beyond the (joke) 250K "middle class" line. What do I know?

R.A. Dickey Wins Cy Young

First knuckleballer to gain that honor, toss in the first no-hitter, a decent first half & Matt Harvey showing signs of being an ace. Heck, if the Mets didn't stink up the joint in the Second Half ... Well, they got rid of Bay. It can only go downhill from here. Seriously, Wright and/or Dickey can be re-signed, but what else will happen of interest?

SC Watch

After a per curiam, the first regular opinion was handed down for the '12 term, unanimously. Sotomayor (again) provides a rare statement [11/13] regarding a pending case (a death penalty matter, Ginsburg joined her; Scalia/Thomas/Alito had a dissenting statement). And, Stevens' latest (11/9) speech discussed judicial retention elections (against), death penalty (against) and how being overruled doesn't make you a bad judge. Nice large font.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Some More Election News

Bisexual Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) has appeared to have won her close race for Congress,* and is one of many intriguing newbies or potential newbies.  She would not be the "first non-theist" (Rep. Stark, non-theist Unitarian fits the bill), but that just adds to her promising resume. Diversity (the whole NH delegation will be women) comes in various ways, including religion, which is notable even if there is no religious test on the record:
Hawaii had two momentous elections. First, they elected Mazie Hirono as the state's first woman senator. She is also the first Japan-born immigrant, the first Buddhist, and the first Asian-American woman elected to the US Senate. Stepping into Hirono's former seat in the US House of Representatives will be Tulsi Gabbard, a 31-year-old Iraq War Veteran, who will be the first Hindu-American to serve in the US Congress. Well done, Hawaii.
Tulsi Gabbard, showing the complex dynamics possible regarding such things, has said that her military experience has led her to have more liberal social views:
"It brought me to a deeper understanding of the meaning of freedom in our country," Gabbard said in an interview. "We cannot afford to walk down that dangerous path of government overstepping its boundaries into the most personal parts of our lives."
Meanwhile, this review of the election results, including some ballot measures, including a couple lesser known local losses for same sex rights, was helpful.  More helpful would be a reform of re-districting in which legislatures would not skewer things in ways that don't accurately reflect the electorate. Gerrymandering is quite old, but it is ever more possible these days.  Along with national voting standards (now at risk with a new Supreme Court cert grant)  and less partisan control.

This will (perhaps) mark the end of election news until the electoral votes are placed and counted, at least, if they do something interesting!


* As the first article notes, her (black) Republican opponent, outside of SSM, has really downplayed any anti-gay rhetoric in the campaign, more so in fact that Sinema's Democratic primary challenger. I'm not very gung ho on the "Republican Liberty Caucus" idea, but there are some exceptions -- see this thread as to Rep. Jeff Flake, though the right to choose an abortion is usually a basic requirement for me. 

The Cranes Are Flying

A suitable film for Veterans Day as well as a few other holidays. An excellent Russian film from the 1950s that starts off with young love and then WWII intervenes. It has a universal appeal and one can imagine it taking place many places. The "squirrel" (both) is very cute.


A KC/Steelers match-up already was lame, but KC actually got a 10-0, but then their 1-7 record kicked in. ANOTHER QB being knocked out didn't prevent the dark cloud, helped by a missed 30-ish field goal, questionable calls and (after an end of regulation tie) a final f-up. Net, the calls were annoying, but hard to be overly sympathetic. Ugly 16-13 loss, 1-8.

Monday, November 12, 2012

More Nikki Rashan

I talked about Nikki Rashan's first book and checked out her next two "urban novels,"* which were quick reads as I tried to read more substantial fare with mixed results. 

Still, after a nice "beach read" that overall was actually quite good with complex characters (surely, given the genre) and a well structured story, the ending a surprise, I was disappointed with the results.  This includes Cyber Case, her third novel, which took on the intriguing issue of the problem of online networking and how that might interfere with relationships.  The online part was weakly tacked on, particularly the "dangerous" part, more focus on the pleasant enough (so it can be read like a pop tart of sorts; I rather a more tasty muffin) lesbian friendships/relationship goings on.  I was lead to think there would be more drama with the social networking plot. 

You Make Me Wanna (the couple had a tacked on cameo in Cyber Case) was a sequel to Rashan's first.  It was fun to see the heroine again, but it did not have the same complex story structure.  She found true love basically at first sight, which very well might be possible (who am I to judge?), but it took away much suspense.  We had even more of the too good to be true stuff here.  The first one made the love interest sound like some sort of goddess, but in effect she was a single mom in a middle class existence, a HR manager.  Here, there was a bit of 'just normal folks," but lots of rich people too.  I realize this is fantasy, like reading a Danielle Steel novel or something, but it got to be a tad much. 

The book had a few interesting touches.  As logical for a book focused on African American characters, there was a touch of their religious background (in the third novel, even the brother's new stripper girlfriend said grace at meals).  The gay cousin was a head security guard.  Kyla is a "big sister" here and a moment of drama occurs when it turns out her sexuality might interfere.  The girlfriend a few times seems to unfairly lash out because of her own insecurities though she makes a big deal that Kyla shouldn't be insecure.  And, in a particularly controversial to some readers I'm sure subplot, a woman decides not to continue exploring her bisexual side (and conveniently falls for another character) to protect her ability to see the son of her ex-husband.  In the real world, such sacrifices of our passions do occur, though we rather not think about that sort of thing.

So, it was not a totally uninteresting bit of reading, but I personally wanted it to have a bit more meat to it.  In effect, it was a series of "Kyra has mildly stressful but pleasant moments toward true contentment."  Rashan noted that her first novel wasn't really a roman-a-clef though she herself underwent a somewhat similar change in her life (if after being a mom).  But, her life (and maybe those of others she knows; she noted a minor character -- not saying what one -- at least was based on someone she knew) probably helped provide the complexity of the first novel.  She has not followed up with two novels as complete, but they are okay reads  for those who accept the limitations.


* You can see the covers of the three novels here on her website with a reference to the "traditional copy" of the original. In the acknowledgements section of the sequel, there is a brief reference to an edited version.  It sounds like the version I read (with the yellow hat cover) was a somewhat updated version (again explaining the publishing date v. the time period of the novel).

There is at least one more cover, not shown there, a non-sexual one of a woman with a man looking toward a woman.  There is a certain truth to that one, since the novels aren't as "sexy" as the promotional covers and titles (the the first one has a certain truth to it) might imply.  No surprise there, since sexing up covers is standard and these books are far from "G" rated anyhow.  Still, I like the Cyber Case cover's toned down look. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Week 10 [Updated] [One More QB Down]

A few old fashioned whippings going on this afternoon; unfortunately, the NYG are on the wrong side of one at the moment. It's November, time to lose? Some late NY game drama ... Buffalo. But, net result was same. Falcons lose for first time. SD mediocre again. [Later: Jets whipped too, Dallas won 4Q, Rams/SF tied. SNF a close one so far. Houston wins.]

Happy Veterans' Day

Big Money: Mixed Bag Results


As noted by the professor in the video and comments here, let's not be TOO cocky about "big money" losing this election. Mixed bag, including affecting Obama's message.

"The Press"

Is the press a tool or an institution that deserves special protection? I think both arguments are reasonable, leaning toward some sort of special protections (not absolute, such as a modified source privilege) but do note things like definitional problems. "Press" is not simply "media." I can imagine a corporation having a separate "media" department with the institutional norms that suggests though like Citizens United and PACS, is that something that can be required? And, I'm not tied to some "originalist" rule here. It's 2012.

Honoring Fetishes

“Nice belt,” I said, gesturing to the red canvas belt around his waist.
Interesting NYT article on fetishes that underlines that sort of thing is worthy (besides interesting) of discussion, opening up various social themes and so on. Life is complex and I'm against narrowly discussing it. I'm annoyed and saddened when that occurs. So boring.

Gemma Arterton

I knew the (eye candy) lead in that film looked familiar. She played Elizabeth Bennett (of Austen fame) in Lost in Austen, where a modern woman steps into an Austen novel. A cute mini-series that went on too long. She played Tess of Hardy fame. And, other notable roles.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Graphic Novel To Film

A good find on DVD with a great ensemble cast and bits of dialogue.  A modern twist on a Thomas Hardy novel, the lead causing mischief in rural England. Good extras.

The Long Haul (And It Starts Again Now!)


Rizzoli & Isles (S2)

I watched this season on DVD, skimming some episodes I either watched or didn't like too much. The "making of" segment was interesting, covering the various aspects of production. The show as a whole is a tad forced (Maura, e.g., is TOO much of a know-it-all) but has some charm. The O'Reilly episode was a good one. Touching subplot involving Korsak's stepson. The family stuff is pretty convoluted but do like Lorraine Bracco as Rizzoli's mom.

Rev. Joe (Christian Conservatives Lose Out)

There are various accounts about how Christian conservatives lost out in this election. Well, "yah," especially on the moronic "grand threat to liberty contraceptive mandate" b.s. But, their influence is surely not dead, and one way to go there is stop being so over the top about things. I'm sure there is a conservative side to the electorate. But, you know, finesse.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

NFL Update

Colts appear to be on the road to victory. To me, most of the playoff slots are filled, except for rankings. One question mark is final WC. Colts have a decent shot, having several weak teams left. Like in GB, seems they have a QB for the future to replace a superstar.

Jared Loughner sentenced

I comment here -- basically, realistically, okay, though ideally even the strong on crime sorts there accept he is deranged. For him personally, however, Kent S. is correct to note the difference in practice could be minor. Tragic case. Glad it didn't drag on. A state trial would be a bad idea imho & in spirit a sort of double jeopardy, if not as now understood.

Puerto Rico Statehood

The vote was not fully clear so don't know how much it matters, but should be reported on at least somewhat as much as pot measures. Obama promised to follow the will of the voters.

The Oath

Jeffrey Toobin's book on the Supreme Court in the Obama years is okay, had some interesting tidbits (who is this Souter gf? Breyer comes off as a bit sad, O'Connor thought how the Bush presidency turned out was "terrible") but as a whole it wasn't that deep. Worth a skim. More vignette than comprehensive. Not liking many recent USSC books really.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Republican Consolation Prize: The House

“So the House results,” he said, “are best explained by incumbency, redistricting, a status-quo election, and a vague desire for bipartisanship and balance of power.”
2010 was good timing for the "Tea Party" gang.

More Election News

Dem. lost the NV U.S. Senate race by about 1%, while over 9% voted for third parties. Florida has yet to be called though Obama is leading by over 1%. Obama won two less states (IN and NC) this time around. LGM has good "why it matters" stuff. Meanwhile, Bay's gone. Was a (costly) mistake to get him with that deal but wish him well. One more drag gone.

NY Judicial Races

Two upstate appellate justices were defeated on Nov. 6 in their re-election bids, while a third from Long Island was trailing.
The average voter in my area would know only the party label of judicial candidates most probably and I find judicial elections here ridiculous largely for that reason. But, seems the races did matter in a few races. More the pity, probably.

And Also: Democrat Wins CT Senate Race

Sexual Equality Wins

Three (one might not be final) more states have SSM, MN did not set its "DOMA" laws in constitutional stone, an open lesbian won in the Senate and "the re-election of a President willing not only to work to eliminate DADT and DOMA, but also to speak out in support of basic fairness and human decency." Truly: "Unthinkable yesterday. Commonplace tomorrow."

Mixed Gains for Pot

Colorado/Washington legalized, Oregon did not. Hold off the Cheetos: federal prohibitions still in place. Arkansas did not, MA did legalize medicinal marijuana. Montana tweaked theirs somewhat. A state "DREAM Act" passed in Maryland. Mixed victories in California, though some on death row actually opposed the repeal (which lost) given the small print.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Obama wins

Plus, Elizabeth Warren and some other good people. Ryan did win ... his house race. Republicans still control House and have power to filibuster. Glass -- half full/empty!

"An Unacceptable Voting System and America’s Federalism Fetish"

I got in trouble with the give an inch brigade by noting that some local rules might be okay (it's going to happen either way), but the overall principle promoted here is on point.  Local partisans making the rules particularly has been shown to be problematic.

One Term More!

Monday, November 05, 2012

Voting is Fundamental / Election Preview

Though not regarded strictly as a natural right, but as a privilege merely conceded by society according to its will, under certain conditions, nevertheless [political franchise of voting] is regarded as a fundamental political right, because preservative of all rights.
It is sometimes noted that the Constitution doesn't directly protect the right to vote as compared to various specific rules such as not discriminating by sex, race or age.  As Bush v. Gore noted:
The individual citizen has no federal constitutional right to vote for electors for the President of the United States unless and until the state legislature chooses a statewide election as the means to implement its power to appoint members of the Electoral College.
Eh.  The right to vote has been determined to be a "'fundamental right" and such rights can only be abridged when done for a compelling interest and by  narrowly drawn reasons, “any alleged infringement of the right of citizens to vote must be carefully and meticulously scrutinized."  The last link is from a dissent in a voter id case, so the principle might not have been properly applied of late. But, a combination of constitutional interests (republican government, association, petition, liberty, equal protection)  adds together to draw into question denying adult citizens the right to vote.  This includes those no longer in jail but who once was convicted of a felony, which is discriminatory and counterproductive to promote good citizenship in practice. 

Making it harder for some to vote is something done in a partisan way a lot lately.  Instead of putting new, repeatedly pointless, barriers, the effort should be in the other direction.  In NY, there will be come difficulties given the storm, but we manage without voter id (except for a federal rule for certain new voters) and even provide a paid window if people can show they cannot reach the polls during that time period.  Not quite the ideal of an election holiday, perhaps, given the outdated day we vote.  Understand, btw, the early voting idea, but still see some value in the symbolism of a certain day and place to come together for voting.

Our decentralized system and current political reality making voting rather messy, down to the FCC not being able to make basic rulings given split votes on the panel involved or a panel set up to address voting concerns pursuant to post-Bush v. Gore legislation not even being filled.  There has been some effort by the Obama Justice Department to deal with some voter suppression laws, one reason why I'm voting for the guy, but at least for federal elections, there is a lot to be said for a more united system.  Too much b.s. going on in Florida and Ohio along. Another problem is the use of partisans to run election systems. As with all but a few states that use independent panels to redistrict, but more so, this is lousy policy.  Some local discretion will still occur.

Anyway, as noted, I'm for Obama.  Sen. Gillibrand has turned out to be a good choice, which a search on this website will show was something I thought at the time she was appointed when Clinton resigned. A local assembly race led to an upset (though she's still on a third party line) given ethical issues. The guy running has done something like no one does around here -- set up a quite visible local presence, down to t-shirts and weekly BBQs.  "A" and my vote for your effort.  Even looking into it a bit, no real idea who to vote for local judicial races.  I'll vote Green for various other safe races, including my House member, who never seems to have any local presence (our area of the district is a tack on, he mostly a "Queens" representative) to promote that cause some.

I think Obama will win and the Democrats will have about the same (maybe a few more, if things go their way) number of senators, but damn I wish it wasn't as close as it seems to be.  On that front, things do seem to be leaning Obama's way in the key areas, but it really shouldn't be close at all given his asshole competition, who even many Republicans don't like.  Hear less about the House, but there are some interesting ballot measures, including to liberalize marijuana laws and some key same sex marriage votes.  Expect some disappointment of Prop 8 level on that front.

Overall, LGM has some good stuff on why Obama is the best choice and how to actually advance left leaning change. 

[Update: As usual, I'm lucky, smooth sailing voting, no delays or anything.  I just voted party line for judges, who even a search online didn't offer much in way of understanding as to best choice, writing in one as a type of protest vote.  Just call me Joe Citizen.]

First '12 Term Opinion

A brief per curiam. Meanwhile, Jay-Z song or 4A primer?

A Season for Miracles

This is the other repeat favorite Hallmark Christmas movie I referenced though there probably will be other seasonal movies that come to mind (including once Thanksgiving is actually over).  The website can show you when such films are on, including this one.  It is a bit more rough than the previous one, not every part clicks as well, but as a whole it does. Kathy Baker has a real stereotypical role as a DSS bureaucrat that does the movie no favors (even Brooke Burns' looser bf has her beat), sad since she has had so many good roles.

The lead, Carla Gugino, has also been in many things, though the usual line with her is that her talent has not been fully taken advantaged of by such projects as the t.v. version of Karen Sisco.  Laura Dern also plays fairly to type as a drug addicted mom from hell.  In fact, the movie starts on a rather dark footing with her in a hospital after a near overdose, soon to be sentenced for five years in jail.  This hasn't been the first time she has been in trouble, her young children suffering, while their young aunt (this film was made in 1999, so she's about 28)  struggles to care for them, not having that stable of a living either.

Both sisters were raised in foster homes, so when the bureaucrat wants to take the kids away since she doesn't have the means to take care of her sisters' kids, Gugino flees with them, their car breaking down in the small town of Bethlehem.  Symbolic, no?  By some lucky chances, mistaken identity (a nice empty house that the locals thinks is hers, apparently the actual owner looked something like her as a child)  and a someone who turns out to be an angel (Patty Duke), aunt and children finally have two weeks or so of Hallmark Christmas happiness, plus falling in love with the local sheriff.  Shades of The Good Witch?!

I like various things about the film. Again, the serious aspects adds character, though the lucky house and job (ironically, in effect a maid for a black woman who owns an inn) suggests some Hallmark privilege,  I also like the lead (a year back, I saw her in Mighty Macs) and overall it is a nice fantasy.  The girl is clued in to The Secret Garden, which is a very good book (also liked the 1990s movie).  And, though Kathy Baker's character was too heavy-handed (you can have the bureaucrats parroting the party line without going that far), the film's parts as a whole did its job.

It surely was better than that lame NYG game.  Sigh.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Week 9

NYG is not scoring enough, including today where they blew a 20-10 lead, but it was about time -- seventh wins have been difficult for years.  Various other lame games, though they were more unbalanced, Colts' win an exception.  Panthers also finally won again.

Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Halloween is over, so it's time for Hallmark to have a Christmas movie marathon. Um ok. Still, it does include a couple of my favorite Christmas movies -- not only television movies at that, including the title piece.  Charming leads, a good script and the fact it just clicks puts it on a higher level.  The last thing is what really makes it a repeat favorite.  Having a vet like Henry Winkler as the catalyst helps, but Brooke Burns [interesting bio; rather accident prone!], not such an acting pro, shines here too.  Cf. her supporting role in Pepper Dennis, a show that I wanted to like, but it just wasn't well written and put together.  This is, down to a fun fantasy / dream sequence.  Takes a lot to do that on all cylinders. 

Sure, it has some cliches -- oh, the dull and at times not very nice boyfriend, that we just know is there only to get rid of, check!  But, even there, it earns them a bit -- she's a single mom and already screwed up with the dad. Safe makes sense. And, when the fun guy (the weakest of the leads, but he does his job as a whole) starts to lay the Christmas cliches on a tad too thick, she let's him know WHY she is a tad anal.  There is a hint that it was a means to put order to uncertainty from childhood, her mom flighty, her dad out of the picture for some reason.   She earned it.

So, the basic idea is that she's a successful businesswoman/single mom, but is a bit of a control freak, loving lists.  Her more loose, down to earth  retired cop uncle comes in for Christmas and meets up with a more free spirit sort at the airport and pushes her to have him over for the night when his flight was cancelled.  The uncle likes the guy and thinks he would make a better match for the mom than her safe business man bf, who is so very boring (and deep down, shallow ... imagine a movie where the boring guy turns out to be the best fit?!).  Meanwhile, they prepare for Christmas, the guy growing on her and bringing some fun to the holiday. Cue the chemistry!

As noted, it is done in a nice light smooth way, the various parts, from the opening music to just one last time for that oversized wreath to fall, done well.  It promotes Christmas fun and togetherness and a broad view of family as well (a single mom, her young son, her uncle who was a surrogate father and some stranger who is taken in).  It doesn't hurt that the two leads are so young and pretty but they each have just the right spirit, Burns really making the picture, I think.  And, there is that touch of seriousness to add a bit of weight.  How they get the bike might not please certain people though!  Still, great holiday fare.

And, yes, it's still Hallmark.  Don't expect THAT much depth!

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Reality Is So Misleading!

Congressional Research Service published a detailed report, documenting the fact that reducing taxes on the wealthy does not, in fact, generate economic growth. Instead, the CRS found, the trickle-down model appears to be "associated with the increasing concentration of income at the top."
Republican economic policy deemed wrong is hurtful and Senate Republicans cry foul.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Rev. Joe: A different view of ministerial exemptions

This Article critiques the constitutional underpinning of the ministerial exemption, which grants religious organizations immunity from anti-discrimination suits brought by ministerial employees
An interesting article that argues general applicable laws are best in this context. See also, the photographer not serving gays case [comments], which is somewhat comparable.

NY Marathon

As a resident of NYC, I lean toward the "pro" side here. [it was cancelled]

Imperfection Works in An Imperfect World

John Dean talks about George McGovern.  Various accounts also noted his imperfections, including a (including to someone there) bad campaign. But, much respect for the man. Obama is imperfect, but I am not ashamed he is our President. At times, the last two shamed us. Yes, Clinton some too and blaming our culture doesn't cut it. He knew it.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Obama On Tuesday, No Nose Holding

See also.  Cf. He isn't the God of the Left. So, let's ignore much of what he did. B.S.

Romney on FEMA

New tweak.  Go away. 

All Saints Day

Sometimes boundaries can paradoxically provide us with freedom.
The opening quote is from one of my favorite episodes of Daria, a moment of insight from her English teacher, a somewhat doofish (if one with good intentions) character. She is having problems with a special writing assignment and eventually he narrows the guidelines.  This helps her formulate a story, while free reign was problematic.  I think the same can apply to things generally. A constitution, holy book or story all provides a boundary that people can work off of, especially if there is enough room in the joints for various interpretations. 

A more open approach might be nice, but sometimes it is unrealistic in practice. And, working within the boundaries (which are reassuring to many) provide a certain freedom. Such is clearly shown by the various takes on the Holy Bible, both testaments.  I'm very sympathetic to those who follow a Unitarian-Unilateralist type approach (toss in Universal Life Church, ethical culture, freethinker or whatnot here)  and would ultimately take that approach myself.  I myself was raised Catholic (if not strongly), so am particularly familiar with that approach, particularly the Bible.  I like many of the tribe don't like many aspects of the religion while still be affected by it somehow.  There is a social liberal aspect to it, e.g..

Today is All Saints' Day.  Yesterday was "all Hallows eve," aka Halloween.  That is an old-fashioned way of saying the day before All Saints Day, a day that is rather self-explanatory.  It is one of a handful (six really) where you are obligated to go to church (Saturday/Monday excepted; don't recall that rule but sounds right, at least as to Saturday) outside of Sunday.  The Mary heavy leaning of Catholicism is shown here with three of the days involving her personally.  Christmas and Ascension Thursday are the others aside from today. Three have some sort of secular character, one because it falls on New Years Day.

Today also has a broad ranging character and not just because of the connection with the candy day.  I have in the past spoken about my broad sentiment as to "religion," a broad based concern that ties together conscience, the sacred and the spiritual.  Today has that character too.  Saints are formally people chosen by the Church under various criteria, some that the average Catholic probably doesn't take that seriously (rules for miracles come to mind).  Loosely, a "saint" is a very special person.  The video is one of MHP's "foot soldiers" segments about a form of such individuals. A "saint" probably is in more rarefied area but merely in degree.  Sandy only brings to mind more the importance of these special people and it is only right to have a special day to honor them.

All of them. 

No Internet For 48 Hours

I somehow survived. Happy birthday bro.