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

Monday, December 31, 2012

Creation

I recall some excitement in the liberal blog-o-sphere about the film, a chance for science and other such things to get a respectful examination. But, it turned out to be a disappointment. The DVD commentary is good though. Commentary tracks on the issues mixed. The source material might help one understand the intent here. Wish it was done better though.

Redskins In

The Redskins QB is not 100%, but the Dallas team as a whole is ailing and its QB returned to form -- after getting a prime chance to come back from 11 down via two key penalties, Romo had one final turnover that basically sealed it. 3-6 to the playoffs? They deserve it.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

She Done Him Wrong

I thought this first starring film role for Mae West sort of lame. She was around forty and honestly sorta looked it. She had that distinctive voice but really didn't seem to have enough energy (her songs didn't impress) and the film overall was a bit "blah." People at the time liked it though, making the studio some $$$, but other films at the time were more risque.

Viks In

That "TD" by Seattle vs. the Packs didn't help the Bears in the end, but the extra loss cost the Packs a bye. [Seattle might have got in anyway, if tiebreakers worked out.] All things being equal. Top seeds: Denver/Pats and Falcons/SF. Seattle's competition will be decided by the final game. Packs/Viks? Rematch. Other WC match-ups: Texans/Bengals & Ravens/Colts.

Week 17

NYJ started Sanchez after their third stringer finally admitted to concussion symptoms. Fans just got a headache. Pathetic last 1/4 of season. NYG beat up the Eagles, but not winning ONE game out of Steelers/Bengals & Ravens/Falcons took things out of their hands. Detroit lost after showing some mid-game life. Shocker there. Giants eliminated. Texans could have cost themselves a bye. Viks win, they in; lose, Bears in. Some seeding also still open.

Lana Wachowski

Part of the sibling (sic) team behind Cloud Atlas and other top Hollywood films recently was honored (as she says in eloquent remarks) for being herself so well -- that is, coming out as transsexual ("transgender" is used, but with a sex change operation and all, "transsexual" to me is the proper term). The often forgotten part of GLBT.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Religious Employees Harmed

The contraceptive mandate litigation continues. I care more about the religious employee myself, who truly has a substantial burden when denied coverage to a possible range of preventive services. Surely, some quite sincere religious claims can be made against many of them too. The interests of the employees are ten times more serious in my book.

Guess They Should Have Won More Games ...

The Giants need the Lions actually to win a game, um I mean beat the Bears, who need to win and have the Packs beat the Vikings to get in themselves. The Giants need both the Bears and Viks (and the Cowboys) to lose, plus to beat the Eagles. With Vick playing for a contract and the head coach on the way out, that won't be easy either. Oh well.

The Lucky One

I enjoyed The Lucky Ones about three rather different soldiers on leave. The Lucky One from the author of The Notebook (young leads were great) etc. started fairly well and nice to see the lead of the t.v. show Mercy (involving a former combat nurse with issues) again. Zac Efron was able to handle a dramatic role and Blythe Danner was appreciated.  Still, got bored of this romantic drama about a troubled Iraqi vet before the big "reveal" occurred. 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Revelations

To each his sufferings: all are men, Condemned alike to groan; The tender for another's pain, The unfeeling for his own. Yet ah! why should they know their fate? Since sorrow never comes too late, And happiness too swiftly flies. Thought would destroy their paradise. No more; where ignorance is bliss, 'Tis folly to be wise. 

-- Thomas Gray, "Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College"
The concept of "original sin" troubles many, but recently thinking about the idea, my thought was that in a fashion it makes sense. Human knowledge is a two-pronged thing: it brings forth much good only with some baggage.  Knowledge is necessary to be aware of a concept such as sin and to actively do something we generally deem sinful. A brain damaged child might do harm, but not sin.  Knowledge and sin are linked.  Knowledge is an aspect of humanity.  As is the inability to be perfect.

So, being human includes a sinful nature, some drive to harm.  Fire begins forth arson along with its many good uses. We don't think that fire is therefore depraved as such and "original sin" does have a lot of problematic baggage.  Still, it has some truth to it.  Along with sin is the drive to fight it, to deem it as not just something one must bear, but something that can be destroyed in some fashion.  This continued to be a sort of seminal battle, many cultures believing creation itself was in some fashion a fight against sin or some sort of evil forces.  The Bible itself has signs of this, God controlling the void, making heaven and earth.

The Bible begins with creation and ends with a sort of destruction, namely, Revelations, which ends with the destruction of evil and the return to the beginning. The very heading of the final chapter in one version suggests as much: "Eden Restored."  The book also ends with a warning: "If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll."  Well, surely, that is the end of the Holy Scripture!  And, then we are told that Jesus is "coming soon" and a final "Amen" is said.  A fitting end to the Bible.

Of course, it isn't quite that simple and Elaine Pagels, who has made a career of studying alternate religious writings (particularly those known as "gnostic") says as much in her latest book.  Her own book ends on quite a different note than the original, promoting the importance of "our own voice."  The original, understood to be written around 90 C.E. by a person named "John," but (and many long before it was added to the canon of twenty-seven "New Testament" books thought as much) likely not the one who wrote the gospel by that name* was not so open-minded, concerned not just with the end times, but wrongful practice.  

Pagels' book uses Revelations as a launching pad for a broader discussion, the subtitle referencing "in the Book of Revelation" a tad misleading in that respect.  For instance, John seems to be a foreigner in a foreign land, theorized as originally from Palestine, but driven out because of the Jewish War of the 60s.  He is appalled at the state of the land he is in, a den of iniquity and false gods. But, Pagels notes that many in fact thought the temples and gods were a sign of the majesty of Rome, honoring the empire a means to place themselves in the order of things.  Brings to mind how the Jews sneered at idols as if people like simpletons were worshiping stone reflections of animals or such. Karen Armstrong and others, however, have noted idols were more a type of conduit to outside forces.  Much like icons and relics are for many Christians.

The irony of it all, of course, is that John saw Rome as the evil one here, but eventually we had a "Roman" Catholic Church.  This shows the plastic nature, the flexibility of the work in question.  The attraction to the mystical forces -- would make an interesting video game or comic book -- found in the book is not surprising.  It is a wondrous bit of poetry and vision, a sort of 1st Century Dante.  The charm goes beyond that because of the symbolic nature of it all.  The value of symbols and things not meant to be taken purely literally (though various references to actual things are clearly present; the book notes even the volcanic eruption at Pompey seems to be alluded to)  is it can apply to any number of things.

And, such is the case here -- Pagels makes a good case that John was an Orthodox Jew (I use the term loosely, I realize, given we need a frame of reference) as well being a Christian, someone who felt it important to follow kosher rules and such. He would therefore likely find Paul's philosophy (tempered some by Luke in Acts) that belief in Christ alone, not following such rules, is what is necessary.  (Pagels suggest this is true for Paul in general, not even that a Jewish Christian would still follow the traditional law.)  Imagine John's annoyance that not only were people who we now would deem Christian weren't following Jewish law, but that it would be in fact wrong, evil even, to suggest you had to do so!

In time, however, there was a move to unite everyone -- make things "catholic."  Thus, the differences between Paul and Peter were ironed out and James (not of the twelve apostles, the "brother" of Jesus, who head the Jerusalem Church until his death around 62) is barely mentioned.  Such differences, however, caused a lot of heat, Paul quite upset that his beliefs were challenged.  And, such schisms continued down to the 4th Century, when Christianity became the established church.  Revelations, concerned in part with wrongful belief and action, became useful here.  Its focus on Rome was no longer the focus; the "beast" now heretical Christians.  Pagels, of course, with her gnostic scholarship (such writings come up here too) is more open to this sort of thing.

So, the book is not only about the book itself and the times it was written, but also alternate visions and the "orthodox" groups (themselves ridiculed by the orthodox forces of the day -- now seen as pagans, though as Pagels notes at one point, the shared concerns might make it curious why it matters what exactly one worships, but such openness is the bane of the powers that be throughout the ages) who challenged them.  Readers of her past works will recognize common themes.  An interesting journey with various surprising tidbits, such as how Augustus compromised with the Jews (they were to honor him in their temple, but could do it to their God) and an early appeal to free exercise of religion as a "fundamental right" under natural law.

The book was quite controversial over the years, particularly given how some "heretical" groups found it so appealing, its mystical aspects and claim of prophecy by someone clearly not one of the twelve apostles (if him, why not anyone? where would that take us?!) not helping.  Still, it was as the link above notes, quite popular and that is one reason it was accepted as part of the canon. The ending also seems fitting and the person largely involved in promoting an idea of a fixed canon of books also saw its value as an appeal against "heretics."  Still, unlike most books of the New Testament, it was somewhat of an iffy thing down to the end.**

Such perhaps might be why Pagels finds it appealing. 

---

* The gospel by that name itself is anonymous, not labeled as being by "John" the apostle.  It is only said to be by the "beloved disciple," whomever that might be.  The book in question here at least (this is standard in prophetic literature, according to the book) says who is talking, well, at least the person's first name and location.   

** The inclusion of a set "canon" of twenty-seven books in the so-called New Testament is most problematic when other works are deemed so heretical that even reading them is a problem.  It was such an official announcement that led to the burial of a bunch of works that were only found in the 20th Century, beforehand deemed worthwhile by monasteries and others as a means of insight into the divine.

Most of the actual books are probably validly chosen over others as "true" accounts from the 1st Century. The gospels, e.g., probably do basically reflect what happened in Jesus' ministry in some sense as compared to later works purporting to talk about Jesus' childhood or him having Mary Magdalene serve as a vessel of gnostic knowledge. This does assume "authoritarian" means written by original "fathers of the Church" or those closely connected to them, which is partially why a move was made to make John the Apostle the author of Revelations, which many realized was fictional.  The ability of others to hear the voice of the divine is quite arguable but that would be a separate debate. 

Other gospels, e.g., very well provide insights and truth to those who wrote and read them, but other than (maybe) the Gospel of Thomas, they were actually written much later.  They also have a sort of mystical and at times fantastical content (even compared to walking on water and such) that not surprisingly were rejected.  A few books, such as II Peter (written quite late compared to the others) are questionable and were seen as such (also, the Letter to the Hebrews, not a Pauline letter or even written in his voice ala Timothy).  Again, this doesn't make them "wrong" as such.  

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Silver Linings Playbook

Overall, I enjoyed this film, particularly the early scenes when we get a raw look at the mental health of various characters. The acting, including the mom and Julia Stiles (in a small role, looking properly worn by events), was very good.  The film goes in a certain standard Hollywood film direction that is a bit disappointing, but doesn't ruin it as a whole.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Sisters in Faith Holy Bible by Michele Clark Jenkins

Over the years, I have had various bibles for various reasons, including the fact that the Hebrew and Christian holy writ are downright interesting.  Like some other things, such as the U.S. Constitution, lots of people are very affected by the books though they often do not really read them closely.

Back in the day, e.g., chances were the average person did not even know how to read them, if they even had a copy available in the everyday language of the community involved.  These days there are loads of options and I obtained one -- the Kings James Version -- from Sisters in Faith via the Book Sneeze program.  The idea is that I review the book, no strings attached on the content of the review, and get to keep the book free of charge.  Not a bad deal, huh?

One thing that I look at in getting bibles is the look.  I know the content is key here, but it's nice to have a good looking bible, like the big family bible from my childhood.  This is an attractive looking copy with a colorful cover, easy to read text and so forth.  You can put it on the top of the book shelf and open it up when the spirit moves you or you wish to check a verse or passage.  For instance, a recent discussion of the death penalty involving concerns of innocents being killed brought to mind Abraham and Sodom as well as the parables of Jesus.  This is a big dictionary size copy that allows you to quickly look for desired passage while still useful for regular use, including for religious study.

As to study, one helpful addition to various bibles are commentary.  I enjoy commentary as a whole and over the years read various interpretations of the various books in question from various perspectives.  This copy provides a little summary of each book, adds "practical applications," prayers and highlights special quotes in various of the books.  This is a nice touch.  It can be a launching pad for contemplation and discussion or skipped over if it is not for you.  I might disagree with some interpretation or sentiment, but who doesn't in this area?  This copy also has a detailed index referring to various passages, helpful maps and various pages for those who wish to write down some notes.

Overall, it is a beautiful looking copy of the Christian Bible though perhaps not worth the cover price.  The bible is specifically geared to black women, but I think overall, the perspectives it offers are general, "sisters in faith" a broad group with concerns that many can understand and relate to.  

Monday, December 24, 2012

My Grown Up Christmas List

No more lives torn apart / That wars would never start / And time would heal all hearts / And everyone would have a friend / And right would always win / And love would never end, ooh / This is my grown up christmas list
Merry Xmas.

St. Tebow

Turns out, Tebow told coach Rex Ryan and coordinator Tony Sparano he didn't want to be used in the gimmick formation this week.
The media is really laying on the pissed off St. Tebow theme, but really: I understand he was brought as a gimmick, to sell seats etc. But, this would require actually using the guy some along with selling jerseys and personal appearances. He was barely used. Was he that bad in practice? Denver managed to use him. Jets really screwed things up this season.

Christmas Eve

If you want to hear the gospel stories related to Christmas you can obtain a few here (and more written versions) or check the Peanuts Christmas special. BTW, as to Jets and those "two championship games," one playoffs was thanks to the Colts giving a game away or they would have three non-playoff seasons. So, getting old. Giants have two rings. Get a pass.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Cinderella Liberty

Based on a book with more material (the good DVD commentary by the director references a long book but Amazon has it under 200 pages), this is a charming comedy/drama about a good-hearted sailor (James Caan) falling in love with a barfly single mom (Marsha Mason). Good cast, some familiar faces in support. Sorta right time for it. Looks great.

Week 16: Not NY's Week

After a special teams screw-up, it looked good for awhile (14-7), but the Jets third stringer ran into the wall. Meanwhile, the NYG scored less points, their playoff hopes on life support. Bengals/Colts in. Bears/Viks alive. Steelers/Miami/Saints out. Seattle leading [in].

Rev. Joe (Xmas Displays)

Are the constitutionality of Christmas displays still an issue these days?  Well, this time of year, I traditionally honor such litigation and for form's sake cite Justice Stevens now.

World Doesn't End / Detroit Lions Lose

Calvin Johnson had to settle for having a record-breaking night in yet another Detroit loss.

Saturday it might be, but it was MNF, underlined by the lameness of the match-up.  Detroit, again, showed a bit of life but lost in the end, repeatedly unable to score TDs.  Falcons clinched #1 seed. Will it choke again in the playoffs?  SF/Sea (SNF) should be the game.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Mets: Half Full or Empty?

It’s understandable for fans to want immediate results, and for the media to pounce on a team they see as being down.  However, throwing money around recklessly and spending on mediocrity is what put the Mets in the situation they’re currently in.
OTOH, there is this as to their OF situation (not good), implying it's around mid-March.

across a hundred mountains

I checked this book out after looking at the author's (who came here as an undocumented alien as a child though her story is different than the characters here) autobiography.  Quite good though one of the parallel stories is basically a "how worse can it get for her" account. 

NRA's One Note Response

Lawrence O'Donnell had a remarkable almost twenty minute response to the head of the NRA's statement while Chris Hayes' panel provided various viewpoints. LO was right to be pissed off -- fantasies about a police officer (sounds like a standing army; btw, that didn't stop Columbine) in every school from the same people who won't raise taxes to pay for it and targeting Hollywood. What about movie theaters, congressional meet-ups or fast food restaurants. Oh, quite a few want that too, including increasing concealed carry. Didn't help in the Giffords shooting though. Fort Hood. etc.

See also another Volokh Conspiracy failure to actually accept any chance of regulation, this time a tiresome "let's all be reasonable!" response to criticism (by a few named people) of a libertarian voice that various people have found a tool in the past. The selective nature of the whole thing is underlined by citing someone (Mark Kleiman, who at times comes off as a concern troll) saying someone had a fevered imagination when he suggested the McArdle said we should think about suicide squads of children rushing at shooters. Oh?
My guess is that we're going to get a law anyway, and my hope is that it will consist of small measures that might have some tiny actual effect, like restrictions on magazine capacity. I'd also like us to encourage people to gang rush shooters, rather than following their instincts to hide; if we drilled it into young people that the correct thing to do is for everyone to instantly run at the guy with the gun, these sorts of mass shootings would be less deadly, because even a guy with a very powerful weapon can be brought down by 8-12 unarmed bodies piling on him at once. Would it work? Would people do it? I have no idea; all I can say is that both these things would be more effective than banning rifles with pistol grips.
In comments, instead of addressing my criticism of the allegation that Jonathan Chait (via Kleiman) imagined all of this, Adler said I should address Kleiman and McArdle responding.  A link was provided to the latter and it isn't helpful.  She said Chait should have taken what she said in context and what she meant -- though this was in response to a shooting involving young children -- by "young people" is teenagers.  Oh. That's soooo much more sane. She also cited a few examples of people actually rushing shooters, including one person who was a retired member of the military.  Hiding actually saved lives here, just to cite that.

One reply in the VC thread addressed what the judge noted in the LAT (O'Donnell read the op-ed in its entirety on air):
Bystanders got to Loughner and subdued him only after he emptied one 31-round magazine and was trying to load another. Adam Lanza, the Newtown shooter, chose as his primary weapon a semiautomatic rifle with 30-round magazines. And we don't even bother to call the 100-rounder that James Holmes is accused of emptying in an Aurora, Colo., movie theater a magazine — it is a drum. How is this not an argument for regulating the number of rounds a gun can fire?
That is, even if we imagine doing that, the heavy firepower of the gun, something the pro-Heller, conservative judge  among quite a few other gun owners do not believe such guns are necessary.  More than one person on Chris Hayes noted the belief that owning a gun is a right and/or something someone can believe important or perfectly fine.  That's fine.  Personally, I don't own a gun, but understand and accept the sentiment that owning one is okay and in fact is a right.  But, we limit rights in our system of "ordered liberty."  Heller itself notes:
We also recognize another important limitation on the right to keep and carry arms. Miller said, as we have explained, that the sorts of weapons protected were those “in common use at the time.” 307 U. S., at 179. We think that limitation is fairly supported by the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of “dangerous and unusual weapons.”
This is true even if a certain weapon is "most useful in military service" because the 2A is not about every such weapon.  It is tragic that Heller is not used by more people to support gun control. "Gun control" is another scare word  as if "gun prohibition" is involved.  But, quoting Heller, "[l]ike most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited." The ruling even suggests concealed carry could be banned (it doesn't say, but it is likely another matter if all carry is banned) and:
Although we do not undertake an exhaustive historical analysis today of the full scope of the Second Amendment , nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.
As the LAT article notes, such regulations will only do so much, but if stopping all harm is the test, loads of regulations would be unsatisfactory. The limits of "assault weapon" bans in particular often occur because so many types of guns are not included (Connecticut has such a ban, enough said) and the guns not included often can easily be altered to become rapid fire weapons. So, make the law more comprehensive. This is not about banning guns as a whole or denying concealed carry at all.  How much good will it do?  I don't know.  But, we should be able to draw reasonable lines here.  As some have noted, having them for fun or psychological pleasure do not override their dangers. 

As to existing guns, the judge suggests targeting even current owners.  I don't know if that is really possible -- putting aside the likely response (they are coming to seize our guns! see!!!!!)  -- except by voluntary buy backs.  One option would be taxing them a lot.  Taxing protected devices would be problematic, but if we can ban their sale (I see litigation), we should be able to heavily tax them ala the guns in U.S. v. Miller. The taxes can also be subject to them truly being under lock and key in safes or more likely outside the home.  Don't see seizure as likely.

One other thing, someone on Hayes strongly opposed registration ala cars.  Guns are a right!  Yes, they are, just like voting and jury service is a right (yes, jury service is a right, though most just see it as a burden; some, however, aren't very gung ho about guns either)  as well as have a duty component. They also are regulated. A "well regulated" militia includes some form of registration. Heller is misguided in suggesting personal gun ownership at home for self-defense is the core issue here.

That is part of it, but the 2A is also about the militia. The militia has various aspects and this includes a civic duty component. We as members of the militia have special responsibilities.  The militia and guns as Heller notes is open to various regulations  The militia also can be called up by the state -- its function is just that to avoid a standing army being so large and powerful -- when necessary.  So, why not require an accounting of membership (namely, owners of weapons and what weapons)  by registration? This aside from the need to register dangerous devices, including if the owners somehow no longer have a right to own them (die, become felons, mentally ill and so forth).

Lawrence O'Donnell made a point about how much power the head of the NRA, who spoke of a few million members, vis-a-vis head of powerful unions or of the AARP.   Many many more people own guns as well.  Underlining why the power of the NRA and their one-note sentiments are so troubling.  The response of some (like Stephanie Miller, who criticized violent video games, getting pushback from her news reader and producer) on the other side as well -- talk about repealing the 2A won't help much either.  The dead here need more from us.  It's just too important.

[I forgot to add this argument that drug criminalization is a major cause of gun violence. Surely though even if we do a lot to cut back -- and apparently letting two states experiment with legalization of marijuana is deemed a lot -- the violence will continue.  But, I guess we need to take it all in the same spirit, small steps important too.  We also need to think big, including yes a change in culture.  Like other evils, including slavery, change seems oh so impossible.  It can be possible though, even if it is a long hard road.]

Friday, December 21, 2012

Trouble With The Curve

Lame movie.  Another "I'm old" movie ("over the hill" movies from him go back at least 20 years, e.g., Unforgiven) from Eastwood (not directed by), just a whole lot less enjoyable. Baseball and Amy Adams fall along the way, doubly unfortunate. Justin Timberlake was actually okay. The script, not so much. The boorish prospect was particularly heavy-handed.

Winter


Is here.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Assault Weapon Ban?

Tired of Prof. Volokh's one-note responses on his blog regarding gun control, particularly since someone with his scholarship should be able to provide more well-rounded remarks. Don't know how current owners will be handled, but this is yet another conservative gun owner supporting an "assault weapon" ban. Let's see what the Biden task force does.

"A History Of The Rifle Used In The Sandy Hook Massacre"

I appreciate pieces like this. I repeatedly am left wondering about basic facts and background pieces help understanding overall. Solutions of much use require them too.

Jets Follies

Reports are (St.) Tebow will look to be traded (he's due to leave either way) if he is not offered a shot in the last two (meaningless) games. Uh huh. Guy was misused all season and this is what does it? Jets need a real back-up, but talks of getting Vick are inane. Yeah, they need more drama. BTW, Sanchez should have been benched before his final screw-up.

Bork RIP

Various responses. Jack Balkin suggested what would happen if Bork was confirmed over Scalia. I think Kagan was right the first time: the Bork hearings were how things should go and he lost on the merits, even if (shocking!) there was some harsh rhetoric from advocates. He was wrong and quite shrill after awhile, but added to the conversation. Not sure if staying on to have someone in control was horrible re: the "massacre." His views are the issue.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Mets Obtain Spare OF

Mets Acquire Outfielder Collin Cowgill in Trade With Athletics
Not surprising. The team will find some spare parts as place-setters, including in the OF, for 2013. Meanwhile, NCIS pretty good so far, including a nice "squirrely" guest star. (Mystery wasn't great, but the guest stars and Tony subplot were nice, including the look into his apartment with a fish named after his old (murdered) colleague.)

Obama Voted President

Tradition trumped suspense Monday as members of the Electoral College cast the official, final votes in the 2012 presidential election, a constitutional formality on President Obama's march to a second term.
Not seeing why it matters in Arizona, where he didn't win, but birthism popped up.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Jets Eliminated

In pathetic fashion. 

A report from the community ...

Gene Rosen had just finished feeding his cats and was heading from his home near Sandy Hook Elementary school to a diner Friday morning when he saw six small children sitting in a neat semicircle at the end of his driveway.
The last sentence is heartbreaking.  The video seems to be an example of an appropriate means to provide humane video to stories of this sort.  

Mets Going In Right Direction



Mets Today, after wringing all dark possibilities (e.g., what if he blocks trade?), still finding things wrong (note comment how the Mets won't have a credible team -- mind you not even a playoff team -- until 2016)I respect the guy's baseball knowledge and his commenting after each game -- especially after clearly his heart wasn't in it -- but am tired of the whining and dark cloud stuff. After a no-hitter, Cy Young and batting championship in a span of merely two years, what will it take?! 

Fans have a reason to be glad, even though it is quite true that it is a hedged sort of thing.  The team and ownership -- one reason why a conservative approach is to my mind honestly prudent -- is still messed up.  But, so it goes.  Money don't bring good management.  And, I hope he is not totally serious about this, neither does the fact the team is in NY.   The Yanks had some down years in my lifetime too.   It will take more than a year or two to fix a screwed up team that year after year was just good enough to tease.  And, I think some hope is warranted.
Again, the Mets weren’t contenders in 2013 with Dickey, and they’re likely not contenders this year without him.  In 2014, though, with a potential franchise catcher in place, Zack Wheeler likely in the rotation, Noah Syndergaard on the horizon, and other moves that should be made after the Johan Santana and Jason Bay deals come off the books, the team very well may be contenders.  With the aforementioned starting rotation, along with Ike Davis, Ruben Tejada, Daniel Murphy, David Wright, Josh Edgin, Bobby Parnell, Jeurys Familia, and others, the Mets have the start of something solid.  Trading R.A Dickey doesn’t doom the Mets, it simply changes the dynamic.  Hopefully, the change is for the better.
I agree with this analysis of the Dickey trade to Toronto, who also took a lot of stuff off the hands of the Marlins, including old friend J. Reyes.  Contra what Joe Janish noted in a comment, I don't think 2013 is "in the toilet."  It isn't going to playoff baseball, if that is what you mean, but 2012 gave you a no-hitter, Cy Young and a perfectly reasonable 1/2 ... and then, yes, an ugly second half that even if it was a bit better would have helped.  I doubt we will get the first two in '13, but who is to know what will come next?  Still, yes, the season is likely to be another low to mid '70s win season.  Lower expectations.

Back to the trade. The trade includes not only a catching prospect that very well can be up sooner rather than later (the team really needed a good catcher, particularly one who could hit), but a promising pitching prospect (due a bit later).  I really like Dickey, but the old chestnut is true: you can lose a lot of games with or without your star player.  Dickey is likely not to be a 20 game winner again.  In '11, he pitched very good, but his record didn't show it.  I wish him well in Toronto and the AL East should be quite interesting now that the Orioles and maybe BJ are lot just also rans.  The Mets had him for three years and thanks for them!

The Mets did not only get some value for Dickey instead of retaining him as the team grows into contention.  It disposed of Bay -- a good sign of the problem with trusting them with expensive signings -- and received some salary flexibility for '13 in the process.  They signed David Wright & received the same. This provides some money for a few spare parts and/or maybe to re-sign Scott Hairston, who showed some pop off the bench and could play each outfield position as needed.  The team still doesn't really have a good outfielder -- more a bunch of fourth outfielders and question marks -- but it is December.  Just one decent move there is quite possible.

The team has some real pitching talent, if a lot of it raw, and hopefully we will see some of it (like Josh Edgin) thrive in '13.  From the mix, including trading extras, they should be able to get some relief corps.  The closer is Frank Francisco though Parnell can fill in as needed.  Parnell has yet, over a few years now, shown the wherewithal to be trusted as a closer.  So, the team has two iffy people there.  We know the team is incomplete.  Infield, now with a catcher, is pretty decent.  Starting pitching is promising.  Relief is getting there.  More money is coming.  I'm realistically optimistic.

After 2006, the norm was repeated hopes that were crushed in the end.  Sandy Alderson was supposed to be a sign of hope for the future.  Realize this is NY and all, but this was due to take some time.  It's happening.  Could it have been done better, including finding a reasonable priced position player or two other than Cedeno? Putting aside that the off-season is not over, sure.  So be it.  The team is going in the right direction and fans are starting to accept milestones like a Cy Young as "eh, that's nice, but ..."  Getting a bit greedy there.

Anyway, Giants screwed up and are not gimmees for the playoffs, but a Super Bowl ring gives you something of a pass.  Redskins my back-up in the NFC East.  I'm looking forward to the SF/Seattle game -- looks great.  Jets not quite eliminated. Oh well.  After a horrible string, even 8-8 will look good, kinda ... not really.  That Pat OT loss was the jump the shark moment.

Ohio Gov Kasich commutes death sentence

The Republican governor of Ohio, who to my knowledge is fairly consistently partisan on the usual suspects, has shown some commendable judgement on commuting death sentences.  Not an immediate issue on the federal level, but Obama has been deficient in use of pardon power generally.  For context, Ohio is up there on the execution chart.

Hick

The teenage lead in this film actually has already been in a few things (including Kick Ass), but only saw her in Dark Shadows (boring film, turned it off).  She's quite good here as a naive "trailer trash" sort of teen that runs away and meets some troubled characters (including Blake Lively , also quite good).  Goes on a dubious turn late. Alec Baldwin has a bit part he seems to have taken mainly to underact.  Good "making of" segment.

And More

The prayer vigil last night was touching, particularly the man who gave the Muslim prayer and had trouble holding it together.  He followed a young boy giving a prayer in Arabic, who only stumbled a bit.  Meanwhile, SF survived blowing a 28 point lead, beating the Pats -- I would have punted at the end there, myself. Had a shot to stop them out of field goal range. 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Week 15

"Atlanta was very, very good. We were very, very bad," New York coach Tom Coughlin said. "There's no excuse for what happened here."
Yes.  Well, back to wall.  Other embarrassments, but none of such a good team.  Bears fell to a multiple team tie for the last Wild Card slot.  Arizona finally won, beating Detroit big. 

Kerry As SOS?

F. that.  Really, F. that.  Republicans, or in particular a few trolls, smeared a U.S ambassador.  Now, they are pushing for Kerry. "Fine choice!"  etc.  Puking in my mouth.


More on CT


Yes, determining what to do is much more complicated and social norms will have to be addressed as well as scholarship that from my vantage point (see also, deterrence and the death penalty) only takes us so far and needs to be fine tuned.  The ostrich approach won't do. Also, murder rates as a whole have gone done significantly while "rampage violence" has seemed to go up.  I say "seem" since even that has been challenged.  It is all very hazy. 

Rev. Joe: "God vs. Gay?"

I am reading said book and it overall makes a good case, though I wish it would have cited Acts 15 (sexual morality one of the limited rules Gentiles need to follow).  Still, even he basically has to admit Paul has wrong-headed ideas of what is "natural" -- you really can't get around that his view on proper sex roles are wrongheaded.  But, yes, the Bible as a whole promotes sexual equality and love and even the "bad verses" are not anti-gay as such. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Obama on Marijuana

In short, I read Obama's comments as early evidence that his administration is prepared to adopt an evolving public health approach to these matters rather than a rigid crime and punishment view.  I hope I am right in this assessment, because that is how I think these complicated and contingent social and legal issues should be considered.
We'll see.

Details

Details are starting to come out regarding the mass murder yesterday and it underlines the importance of waiting for the facts.  For instance, if it is not even his guns, it is that much harder to keep them away from those unfit.  This doesn't change the value of using tragedy to, carefully as possible, have a smart conversation about reasonable gun policy. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Over 20 Dead

We always hear "today's not the time," but why not?  Yes, we can't deal with the specific event with instant solutions, but how about other ones?  Time passed.  Still, there is just so much we can do.  Guns, however, have been taken off the table except to expand gun rights.  Inane.  Guns as much as other major things should be subject to sound regulations. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Dawn Johnsen

She has an extended article in this collection in honor of Justice Stevens and the last ten or so pages on the Obama Administration (see also, here on Libya) is well worth reading alone. Wish she was leading the OLC. Her reference to the 13A / abortion rights was sound too.

David Wright Contract

Wright will donate 1 percent of his base salary to the New York Mets Foundation, and the charities will be jointly chosen by him and the team.
More details here. I say we make this standard. The overpaying, a norm this off-season, of players surely make it pretty painless.

Susan Rice withdraws from State consideration

the Republican offensive -- led by Sens. John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Susan Collins, Bob Corker, and Kelly Ayotte -- was based on literally nothing.
Like Dawn Johnsen, if less important on a symbolic level (and perhaps merits), the Republicans got their piece of flesh. I don't want Kerry now to be chosen so the Rs can suddenly get all bipartisan and shit. Screw that. Obama has something of a free pass now, so find someone else. As with this unsurprising result, the reverse won't surprise me.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Day That Will Live in Infamy

Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year’s Presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the Nation’s confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law.
12/12/00.

War on Drugs? Peace Man!

The proposals continue to temper the "war on drugs," particularly marijuana. Good Rolling Stones article, including how state attempts to regulate/tax can be targeted. After all, that's the point of national power -- local discretion is decreased some. But, this only increases national discretion. See also, NYT on (selective) mass incarceration. Interesting times.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

"DOMA's Future if the Court Denies Justiciability"

What would happen then? Well, for one thing, presumably the Second Circuit decision is vacated also. Windsor herself still wins the case, because, with the executive not defending DOMA, and the BLAG lacking standing, she gets a default judgment.
Doubt a complete punt, but that's something. Read whole thing. I think the Administration's position here (enforce/don't defend) is sound (if applied sparingly) and don't see the logic in the courts rejecting the Administration in effect honoring the spirit of Cooper v. Aaron. [Update: OTOH, Prop 8 is more complicated. I lean toward allowing standing, but see here.]

David and Lisa

This is the 50th anniversary of this powerful film of two mentally troubled teens who find a special connection at a residence treatment center. "David" is played (well) by someone too old for the role. His psychiatrist (the author of the source material is one) later played Franklin in 1776. Distinctive voice. "Lisa" is great too. David's dad is also very good.

Monday, December 10, 2012

MNF

Houston started badly and are now down 21-0 vs. the Pats. Ugh.

Human Rights Day

Today, on Human Rights Day, as we mark the 64th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the inter-American human rights system – guardian of the world’s first international human rights agreement – faces an unprecedented threat to its independence and authority.
More here and here. Family planning as human right here.

Detroit Loses, Packs Beat Them ... Ho Hum

The Bears were hoping for something of a miracle -- the Packs have been beating Detroit at home for years and Detroit has been losing, including after winning early, for some time this season. More of the same in snowy conditions.  Detroit looked good, slipped up and lost in the end.  Texans/Pats close week. Two tough games for the Pats to see how good they are.

The Central Park Five

Sotomayor... explained that the pressure of a custodial interrogation is "so immense that it 'can induce a frighteningly high percentage of people to confess to crimes they never committed' " and referred to studies showing that youngsters are particularly susceptible to such pressure. Therefore, she explains, "a reasonable child subjected to police questioning will sometimes feel pressured to submit when a reasonable adult would feel free to go" and that ... "such conclusions apply broadly to children as a class. And, they are self-evident to anyone who was a child once himself, including any police officer or judge."
Dahlia Lithwick was discussing a ruling in which the Supreme Court held that age should be specifically taken into consideration when determining custody under Miranda.  The idea that people would falsely confess on a common sense level seems ridiculous, particularly for serious crimes, such as rape or murder, but it does happen.  And, those under sixteen or those with some sort of mental deficiency or learning disorder would be particularly susceptible to this.  Though not just them.

The Central Park Five, a book and now a documentary by Sarah Burns (the daughter of the well known Ken Burns, who helped make the documentary) underlines this fact.  The book is about the horrible rape of a young white woman (notable: multiple rapes occurred about that time, many not involving whites, but her case was singled out) in Central Park (NYC) which was blamed on five teens (one Hispanic, four blacks) that was part of a so-called "wilding" bunch that harassed various bikers and others in the park that night.

Some members of the much bigger group did do that and it is unclear by the book just what these teens did in respect to that.  But, none of this group raped the woman.  That was the work of a solo rapist who was in the midst of a serial rape spree involving a death.  Unfortunately for the five teens, though there were clues at the time, this only came out years later after all but one was out of prison already (the meeting of the actual rapist with one of the five led to the confession, the guy in prison for a long time for his multiple crimes).  Beforehand, basically everyone, even the media sources somewhat supportive of their cause (such as those with mainly black readership) assumed guilt, down to the likes of Bob Herbert, the left leaning columnist who joined in.

As a few realized as early as the first trial (there were two trials), the evidence provided was clearly problematic. The "confessions" had numerous problems, particularly conflicting details that didn't match the known facts.  The teens (either under sixteen or one under eighteen with a learning disability) were interrogated in coercive conditions, repeatedly their parents or guardians stepping out of the room (one such time, conveniently, one or more decided to "confess"), deprived of sleep or in at least one case, much to eat.  The timeline was skewered.  By the time of the trial, a semen sample was found that didn't match any of the suspects.  The physical evidence made the guilt of the boys questionable.  And, it seemed that basically from the night of the attack, the teens were deemed guilty, the unfortunate fact of clear reasonable doubt worked around.

The book, a quick reading 200 or so pages, is devastating reading, starting with a discussion in effect of how my city is a basket case about twenty-five years ago.  We also learn a bit about the teens themselves, some having some problems, but as a whole not basket cases, including doing well in school and having people on their side. The crime is explained and then the one note response, both the media and the justice system not having their finest hour. Most devastating is a summary of the actual rapist's crime spree, the Central Park rape in the middle of it, with certain aspects that matched a pattern.  A police officer actually talked to the rapist (wearing the headset of the jogger) shortly after the rape.

It gets to be rather depressing and some readers will be quite upset at what seems to be a very shoddy prosecution.  Once the rapist confessed, the Manhattan District Attorney's Office did show some class, having a special investigation and eventually supporting the defense's move to revoke the guilty verdicts.  Linda Fairstein, the head of sex crimes at the time, and various representatives of the police were upset at this, but the evidence was simply glaring that there was a miscarriage of justice here.  The confession techniques might work in other cases (some degree of trickery was used to have the rapist confess some of his crimes) but in this case, particularly involving teens as young as fourteen, mess.

I put above a link to the author's Facebook page and there is a clip there of a Democracy Now! appearance, which includes one of the accused and a very clips of the documentary. I myself was quite shocked when reading over a decade after the events that the joggers were innocent.  It is an important example of the fallibility of the justice system, even when horrible crimes are involved. The book covers a lot of ground -- race relations, media portrayal, the criminal justice system and the personal stories involved.  The documentary has also received good reviews, though I have not myself seen it.  Both are worthwhile. 

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Week 14 (Jets/Sanchez Have A Good Half)

The NYG whipped the Saints but the other teams in their division won on their last possession, two at the buzzer, one in OT.  Colts came back, Viks hurt the Bears, Chargers finally won (even with Ben back) and the Seahawks won 58-0.  Skelton didn't do it, huh?

Saturday, December 08, 2012

SSM Goes to Washington



The USSC has granted cert. on two same sex marriage cases -- Prop 8 and the Windsor case (sexual orientation warrants intermediate scrutiny; very sympathetic elderly widow litigant) though they added questions regarding the standing of various parties to bring the cases and jurisdiction given the Administration's stance. Since Kagan had no apparent reason to recuse herself while she suggested she would in the 1CA DOMA case, it is not surprising that was taken.  The scrutiny question is a bit of a joker.  I'm somewhat surprised at Prop 8 and wary. 

I find it somewhat dubious that they will punt in that fashion though it's somewhat more possible in the Prop 8 case, I guess (DOMA as a federal law is a question that has to be decided eventually, Prop 8 only covers California, the legislature and governor supports SSM anyway).   SCOTUSBlog notes this as to the Obama Administration:
On the jurisdictional issue the Court raises re the government petition in DOMA (12-307): the SG has argued that, because DOMA is still on the books until its constitutionality is finally decided, it retains an obligation to enforce Section 3, so the 2d CA ruling involves a judgment against the United States, which gives it a right to appeal to the SCt, even though it agrees with the substantive outcome of the 2d CA decision.
Seems perfectly logical and the policy of not defending but enforcing is standard and set forth as a rule pre-Obama.  The standing of the House of Representatives [BLAG] might be more complicated, but it seems irrelevant if the Windsor herself is not obtaining benefits. SCOTUSBlog explains: "Mrs.Windsor has her own petition at the Court, but it did not figure directly in the Friday orders." As to the standing of the backers of Prop 8, well, I personally think they should have standing to defend a state ballot measure in place to get around executive/legislative opposition, but if they really want to, they probably can find a technicality.  As is, it just delays things further on that front.

[Just found some links to discussions on the standing issues that suggest that the Prop 8 intervenors have standing but BLAG (which is in effect representative of the leadership of the Republican caucus of the House, Democrats rejecting the litigation though Obama did welcome it to have the legal question settled) very well might not.  It is not the most "sexy" issue, but the standing questions here very well might be an important aspect of the case, especially respecting ballot measures that regular government officials wish to in effect nullify.]

While live blogging, SCOTUSBlog noted that the question posed by the Prop 8 plaintiffs was if "traditional" marriage can be protected by the state of California.  Traditional marriage has not be protected in that state for years.  The actual question set forth by the petition was "Whether the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits the State of California from defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman."  The actual ruling wasn't that broad -- e.g., the CA9 ruling suggested an alternative where the state went it slow, temporarily not recognizing SSM.  See, e.g., Hawaii, where the legislature was given the option to either recognize or not to recognize.  It is the way they went about it.* 

Meanwhile, I received an email from my junior senator, Sen. Gillibrand (who is already being put out there as a dark horse candidate in '16):
Momentum across the country is clearly growing towards recognizing the marriages of all loving and committed couples and finally putting the discriminatory DOMA policy into the dustbin of history. But even as DOMA heads to the Supreme Court, it is still incumbent upon Congress to pass the Respect For Marriage Act, which would not only repeal DOMA, but would also put in place much-needed protections for legally married same-sex couples.

Please sign my petition at repealDOMA.com to join the growing chorus of support for the passage of The Respect For Marriage Act and for the repeal of this discriminatory and unconstitutional law.

In addition to legislatively repealing DOMA once and for all, The Respect For Marriage Act, authored by my colleague Rep. Jerrold Nadler in the House, would also provide same-sex couples with the certainty that federal benefits and protections afforded straight married couples would be granted to them even if they were to move or travel to another state that doesn't recognize same-sex marriage.
That would be ideal.  See how DADT went down.

---

* [Update] See, e.g., this analysis, the first of multiple ones promised at that blog.  I would add that this would provide, possibly, a means for one of the current SSM states to go backwards. Not that I wish them to do so or believe they should on basic constitutional equality grounds. A comment in a post at Volokh Conspiracy also is relevent here:

The Ninth Circuit panel took themselves to be answering the narrow question of whether a state, after offering full-fledged same-sex marriage as a matter of constitutional right, may then rescind that right solely with respect to the designation "marriage," leaving untouched all the associated substantive legal incidents of marriage (which are still offered to same-sex couples in California.) Thus, they held that while Baker may control the broader question of whether states may deny same-sex couples access to marriage, it did not control the merits of Prop. 8, arising as it did within the particular circumstances of California.
But, this thing is repeatedly going to be framed as a much larger question.  It ultimately is, not that the USSC has to decide it as that.

Mary

Today is the day Catholics honors the "immaculate conception," which is not in reference to the birth of Jesus.  It is based on the supposition, not shared by many Christians and probably confusingly understood by some Catholics, that Mary herself was born without original sin.  This to me would cheapen things a bit, since her strength of character is underlined if she was just like the rest of us, inclined from birth to "sin," or act against God's will (actual or symbolically understood).

Her acceptance of destiny also becomes less profound.
The Gospel of Luke notes:

In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary.  The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you."

 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.  You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David,  and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."

"How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?"

The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[c] the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God."

"I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." Then the angel left her.
The whole account has a mystical quality that "fulfills" a biblical prophecy that appears to have concerned something else, including a quite normal birth.  Still, it is interesting to examine what is happening here.  For instance, note how Mary, who is about thirteen here, is informed beforehand by a messenger from God.  The matter is not just thrust upon her without warning.  She also consents to her role.  The event here (called the "annunciation" or announcement) can be seen as a symbolic acceptance and/or understanding of her role. The angel can be seen as symbolic -- ultimately, it can be a matter of faith on Mary's part, a personal religious experience.

Only time would tell if it was true or a mistaken confusion of a naive teenager.  The account was written long after the events, even if we take it as fact, based on oral statements perhaps given decades later.  Given the two birth narratives (Matthew and Luke) conflict, as do all the gospels on various details of Jesus' life, the exact details are unclear.  A mistranslation of "virgin" or using one version of the assumed truth so that the prophecy would be fulfilled could lead to an account that did not exactly happen quite that way.  Who is to say that an "illegitimate" pregnancy would not be used for God's purposes?  The Bible has many accounts, including involved assumed ancestors of Jesus, where questionable events (including tricking a father-in-law to conceive a child) furthered God's plan.

A book considered the death penalty by looking at Jesus' own execution,* in part since Jesus said that the least among us (including prisoners) should be treated as one would treat Jesus himself.  Imagine if Mary is seen as the seminal teen mother? Singling her out as having no original sin, like the idea of a perfect God who accepts the state of the world, does not really work for me.  But, what do I know?


I just share a name with St. Joseph, after all. 

---

* Jesus on Death Row: The Trial of Jesus and American Capital Punishment by Mark Osler

Friday, December 07, 2012

Focusing On The Positive

I admit it -- this "cougar on the prowl" photoshoot caught my eye. Like the simple outfit, long hair and glasses, Demi. I like how this review of a somewhat tired film (seems to be a trend this week, it depends what your "thing" is) respects its good aspects (few films don't have something worth watching) while making a larger point, like a good review does.

Infamy

Perhaps, the 18th is the true day that lives in infamy, not an attack on a military target of a nation that was doing war-like things to them economically though Japan in bad form was secret about planning it. On that, and other issues (e.g., raising taxes), Last Word's segments last night with George Takei are timely. LD has his moments.

Mets Update

Other than signing Wright until his late 30s, the Mets really didn't do anything yet, and I agree this is okay. Just making stupid expensive moves to make them has been totally played. Not that fans unreasonably are wary given past failures. Time will tell.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Pot Confusion

Chris Hayes last night had someone who noted that the early policy of the Obama Administration to only target violations of state law regarding medicinal marijuana was complicated in California because of the lack of clear state policy. Toss in comments earlier that those under 21 and who smoke in public (not allowed by new laws) are major targets of state police and the whole picture is somewhat confused. Details very important.

Daria

Finished up the Daria DVD set by watching the third of four parts, which covers mostly the Fourth Season, which is when Daria and Tom (Daria's friend's bf) slowly fall for each other. Various other good character goings on, the cartoon characters here more open our concern than many real life shows. Still wish Jake (like Quinn) had a few more good moments.

Rizzoli & Isles

I found the last two episodes pretty good, the last one providing a chance for the younger partner to have a subplot of his own. The show can be pretty silly at times, but the episodes were well written. And, the mom, to be honest, looked pretty good in a slip.

Son

I finished Lois Lowry's book Son, which is reportedly the final book in the "Messenger" series of which I read one other book (a character pops up here). Overall, I enjoyed it, though found the ending a bit weak. Not sure how much it ties things up. Also, found the "Claire" parts (about 2/3) more interesting. Still, I'd recommend it.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

George Ochoa Executed

A fairly typical case. He killed a couple during a home invasion, a compatriot getting life as a Mexican national that raised consulate issues. Such a somewhat arbitrary difference of treatment occurs a lot. The apparent borderline mental health issues also are fairly standard. To me, this is a good case for life imprisonment. Not a killing a cop or torture sort of thing.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

NY Senate Power Sharing Arraignment

They spell his name wrong, but my senator is involved in a new coalition in the NY Senate as discussed here, a senator "you can count on" to join with Republicans, apparently. I'm actually willing to consider some thinking outside the box -- our legislature is something of a mess, but I don't recall Klein asking us first about this sort of thing. [Update: OTOH, he ran -- don't recall this I admit -- on both party lines.] Tad dubious though.

Drones

Richard Clarke had a good op-ed supportive of drones over the weekend. Yes, the drones aren't 2001 self-aware flying robots. I think more clarity is necessary but some of the rules are on record. IF we target people, it is less lethal than various alternatives. Wary about the targeting though sorry Rachel, killing American citizens (ask Grant about that) isn't shocking on its own. More on the other (non-lethal) stuff the U.S. is doing would also be helpful.

And More

Last Word highlighted Costas' comments and it is sad that reasonable gun regulation and use is removed from the political discourse. LD noted handguns aren't going to stop tyranny in the 21st Century. Guns are used for various purposes, including self-defense. And, if we consider the matter, for better or worse, our armed society does check the government.

Reality Invades A Kid's Game

Bob Costas (who I find a bit of a blowhard), after noting he often disagrees with the guy, cited a columnist that noted that if the KC player didn't own a handgun, it's likely two people would still be alive. The comment on "gun culture" is fine but guns aren't just going to disappear. Owning a gun isn't really the problem here. It's the abuse of them.

SC: Imaginary Creature Hypos

First, Justice Breyer described as a “unicorn” the mythical lawyer who might say “I think I’ll stay silent on this unsettled legal point, hoping that the law will become clear by the time I appeal.” Justice Kagan, and later even Justice Scalia, agreed, and Justice Breyer expanded the category to include hippogriffs (another imaginary creature).
Another re-cap that makes one want to listen. [She was rough but I think okay.]

Monday, December 03, 2012

Here We Go AGAIN

I saw very little of the MNF game since I don't find this sort of teeth pulling aggravation fun. Yet again, the Giants give themselves little wiggle room in December and if anything a harder path ahead. Betting man says they will do it again, but you know, it's sorta tedious.

"Twenty-Five Years of Schmoozing"

“Good evening to you, and how you be? Steve Somers here and you there.” That’s how Steve Somers begins his nightly call-in show — his schmooze, he calls it — on WFAN, New York’s sports radio station. He’s been saying this for 25 years, and it’s a ritual greeting as reassuring to his listeners as the call of a muezzin.
He's charming. Good NYT piece.

SC Argument recap

Breyer lost almost everybody in the courtroom, though, with trying to draw some meaning out of a couple of English cases he had read, from the eighteenth century. Only Justice Scalia understood enough of Breyer’s point to put it down with a dose of sarcasm.
Sounds like a good oral overall.

SC Watch

USSC did not decide on any SSM cases but Justice Sotomayor had another notable solo dissent of denial of cert., this time to underline the importance of providing mitigation evidence in a death penalty case, not to "explain" as much as to understand if the penalty is "deserved."  Its importance to a jury was also discussed in Anatomy of An Execution.

NY Concealed Carry Law Upheld

Only those with a certain need are given a license to carry concealed weapons in NY and Heller/McDonald winner Mr. Gura lost in the second circuit. It's not the home, meets compelling state interest under intermediate scrutiny and there is more supportive history. Reasonable to me, though not slam dunk, if the law is not applied arbitrarily (can see as applied challenges here), but the USSC will have to clarify the rules at some point.

Sports Update

Phils QB of the future has a good SNF performance but a late fumble decides the game in favor of Dallas. Thus, Giants still need to win tonight to be comfty. Mets have signed Wright for a long term deal, paying him more than he is likely worth, but that's what one has to do. How's Toronto, Mr. Reyes, btw? Will Dickey be used for parts? Depressingly practical.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Week 13

In an ugly game, fans saw the Jets' third string QB and "won" 7-6. Steelers third stringer won too. Lions found a way to lose again. Bucs also lost a close one, SF had a lot of things occur to lose vs. the Rams again, barely not having another tie. Seattle won in the end, Packers/Bears now tied. And, Dallas is behind at the Half again. Giants tomorrow.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Son

After a few false starts into a good book, which is cited as a conclusion of sorts to a series that includes (taking the one I read) Gathering Blue. Lois Lowry (not just for teens!) again takes us into a dystopian world where something as basic as loving your newborn is a shocking thing. Only half-way through, but quite good.

Martha Marcy May Marlene

I thought Silent House annoying, but the lead actress has a better, if still somewhat disjointed (again intentionally) project here as a victim of a cult. Still, hello, she's obviously screwed up. How can the sister and husband just watch her? The film also basically just ends.

Facebook

I was working with someone else on a few facebook pages (a sort of private project) and can see it being rather addictive. Commenting, likes, editing, the works. The same as to Twitter. Nothing profound saying that, but it is amazing after awhile. Ditto with blogs.

SSM Again

The USSC is deciding what SSM type cases to hear so it is back to the standard arguments on blogs -- see, e.g., my probably ill advised repeated comments over at Volokh Conspiracy.  I feel compelled to beat the dead horse, but I guess you have to do so when the principles are important enough.  Still as with years of PPACA arguments, it is sooooo tiresome.