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

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

“Teaching Controversial Topics”

This short paper by a guest blogger at Concurring Opinions is an interesting read with various applications. Certain topics do have to be carefully discussed and "outliers" can be a problem, especially in the educational context. It is amazing how social expectations are so important in some cases. Note sometimes the "outliers" aren't necessary wrong.

Trade Deadline

Pretty dead really with few trades overall, so it is far from shocking or concerning that the Mets did not find anything worth giving up Byrd, Parnell or anyone else for. Closers aren't a dime a dozen anyway and Byrd (a bargain) helps team compete and youngsters develop now. Meanwhile, Lagares has great "d" and showing some "o" at CF. Nice surprise.

"Openly Gay Justice Nominee Goes Off Script to Thank Partner, Kids"

A bit old news, but it was re-aired on C-SPAN today. Also, with filibuster battles and all, let me note that I would seriously consider a great reduction on necessary up/down votes when dealing with assistant positions like this. OTOH, if truly an "officer," it is constitutionally necessary. So, stopping filibusters here is particularly important.

Bradley Manning

The "aid the enemy charge" was overreaching as probably is discretion-wise some of the other charges. The charges he pled guilty for provides enough chance to punish him along with what already occurred. It's gratuitous. His treatment was probably wrong there, if not as horrible as some say. What he did is rightly seen as criminal on some level.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Fosters

Stef was shot, but is okay, and it brought forth flashbacks and a marriage proposal. Very good episode. There is, of course, a little wrinkle on the shooting to cause some drama.

Monday, July 29, 2013

PSA: Donate Blood ... It's Easy & Rewarding (with free snacks!)

"Let the Supreme Court Handle Appointments to the FISA Courts"

One little known tidbit is the role of the Chief Justice in staffing FISA courts and this suggestion that this is constitutionally (and otherwise) problematic is convincing. The Chief Justice is not akin to a President and here doesn't even have the advice/consent check. The solution in this case is open to debate; Senate confirmation might be best.

Disney "Flash Forward" Theme

A few Disney shows last night "flashed forward" in various ways to show the future of some characters. Not the first time they had a [yup!] united theme like this and like before mixed bag. Cute actress for teenage Charlie; the episode was okay. Shake It Up might have been the best. Still not liking Debby Ryan's new show.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Weekend Break

First, a quick cite to a 3CA ruling that rightly realizes for profits are different in respect to religious liberty than individuals. Even if you don't draw the line the exact same way, the result is sound. I just worry the USSC won't treat the contraceptive mandate quite so sanely.

Thursday, July 25, 2013


This was one of those films on my DVD list and found it on demand. It's about a young teacher who handles her alcoholism. The lead is very good and the film overall is decent, but seems a bit underdeveloped. Megan Mullally has a play against type supporting role and looks uncomfortable though that also is the nature of the character. Worth a look.

"Self-Defense" Laws

I think the Zimmerman verdict is probably correct and even your garden variety leftie have felt bad hinting otherwise. Still, not only should we not go the other direction (e.g., assume Martin is guilty), but it does raise serious questions, including on line drawing for use of lethal force. Then, there is someone who feels a car is worth more than a thief's life.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


Key problem here is that unlike say President Clinton, his record overall isn't that impressive. What did he really do? So, personal issues and respect [Julia Sweeney, e.g., was on Twitter in effect saying he comes off as a jerk.] is that much more important. Other than name recognition, not really sure why I should support him for mayor over a City Council President or other possibilities. At least, Spitzer (running for comptroller) was AG/governor.

Huh ...

Rosanna also has two brothers and two sisters (used to be three brothers and one sister) in show business.
Explanation. Just saw Tim Hudson get hurt in a freak injury in the 8th in the midst of him cruising during a 6-0 Mets game. [Suffered a right ankle fracture when] he didn't step out of the way covering first base. Don't recall seeing something quite like that during a game.

The Fosters

I'm up to date now, watching the latest episode, which was somewhat slow going until a violent cliffhanger. But, even here, the actors played their parts well, which is a telling sign of something good. The show's [Recaps here.] habit of ending while something is ongoing is a nice touch that usually works well. I know you: you are from Crazy Like A Fox!

Selling Caskets Not Quite Akin To Personal Traits

Some monks won a lawsuit involving a policy "granting funeral homes an exclusive right to sell caskets" and the state is asking the USSC to take up the case. The first link included various types supportive of the ruling, but I disagreed there (and here) -- in fact, it might lessen regulation, since various things encourage funeral homes to act properly here vis-a-vis anyone out there being able to sell caskets. Rational for 14A purposes.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Ohio Officials Ordered To Recognize Gay Couple’s Marriage

The matter has been dealt with here, especially in comments, but to summarize: states that selectively target same sex couples in ways not done for minors or first cousins are pretty easy 14A calls. Windsor dealt with the feds, but equal protection is a general concern. These rather sympathetic cases are the ladder pegs to full SSM recognition.

Mixed DC Circuit ruling in suit against FDA allowing execution drug importation

Big questions generally have a lot of small ones that can affect them -- look at the Prop 8 litigation and standing. So too the death penalty, discretion of the FDA to allow importation of drugs an example, given shortages. I think ultimately a way will be found around this, especially given there being no overall shortage of production of lethal items.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Supreme Court Watch

The Supreme Court scheduled three days to release orders over the summer and today was the first -- nothing seems notable. No, I'm not "Joe Doe." Death penalty orders continue as necessary and/or and special situations. John Paul Stevens also commented on Shelby. Now that Helen Thomas (RIP) has died, he has to up the "over 90" commentator role.


The recent episodes were on demand, but found the first on YouTube, not the second. The DVD I just watched had a PSA against against pirating, including downloading indie films. I understand that, but question how far to take it, especially with television shows like this. Know about copyrights. Full low budget films and stuff sold for profit are pretty easy calls. Targeting kids for music downloads? Not so much. Still annoyed with all those false hits.

The Fosters Cover All The Bases

Catching up some more on The Fosters, issues covered include the morning after pill (including id problems), transgender kids, religious beliefs (a Catholic couple supported SSM, but slipped up -- contraceptives is the example to point to regarding dissent from doctrine; otoh, their teenage daughter was there) and biracial families. Checklist anyone?

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Nice Girl Plays Bad

Maia Mitchell's new Disney movie reflects my image of her -- cheery girl. So, bad language alert, when her character in the series premiere of The Fosters not only was beaten up in juvie but notes the lead couple are "dykes" and references the "real" (not adopted) kid, it was just downright amusing. Sort of seeing Debby Ryan as a drug addict on Private Practice.

Letters from Skye

This is a poetic epistolary novel -- like an 18th Century creation, it is made up of letters. It involves a love affair surrounding WWI that affects things two decades later in WWII. Overall, I enjoyed it, but did not like an important plot point. Didn't ring true. But, very good first novel as a whole. Good sense of inner life, mystery, love and adventure.

Saturday, July 20, 2013


I stop at a library weekends while checking some cats and stuff and often find a good DVD. Barely made it today, but was rewarded with this above average indie about celebrity, college student/teacher romance (with a bit of a twist) and more. Well done all around. One of the leads sorta seems familiar, but a check makes me think it's someone else I thought of.

ABC Family Continues Its "Different Kind of Family" Motif

Only know MM from promos on Disney, so surprised about her role in this more serious ABC Family with some other familiar faces. Saw two episodes so far and it's pretty good. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

"How Stand Your Ground Relates To George Zimmerman"

I dislike absolute language, especially when it clouds the situation, and suggestions that SYG had "nothing" to do with the verdict is an example. [I should read that guy more.] Sen. Durbin's scheduled hearing is a good move. Gun ownership requires due care, reasonable regulations and balanced self-defense rules. SYG rules skewer things.

Dick (No Not That)

An amusing and smart satire ("you have been talking for 18 1/2 minutes!") about two teenage girls that get caught up in Watergate with a slew of familiar faces, including a young (1999) Ryan Reynolds. It loses a bit after awhile, as these things tend to do, but overall fun. There is a commentary track, but the overly sedate tone put me to sleep.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Elizabeth McGovern

Delaying the Employment Mandate

I do not find this "blatantly unconstitutional" or horrible, especially given the reality of the situation. Given some accounts, this is a good voice of sanity.

A couple things ...

An interesting angle -- discussion of the federal Community Relation Service's role in the recent Florida drama. The conservative/libertarian blog Volokh Conspiracy has had some good kumbaya posts on how slavery isn't libertarian. Note to neo-confederates. A bit of snark, but appreciated; still, with the Shelby ruling etc., let's remember the Civil War also led to expansion of federal power and other changes where agreement is less prevalent.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

All Star Game

And Also: Got to say that Colbert has been a bit rough the first two times back, with two extended 'eh' segments.  The Fox News bit last night was amusing.  Syndicated t.v. watch -- great episode of Rules of Engagement at midnight (my time) on WGN, Timmy going to the psychiatrist to help Russell find out about himself and Jeff upset about someone eating off his plate. Jen also had a good bit involving a stripped shirt.  

Mets fans very well might see the team going thru five year cycles, more or less, with the 2000 World Series long gone.  Many, especially since we are reminded of it every time the guy pitches when the Cardinals come to town, might recall 2006.  Then, there were the two years of the season ending on the final day (cf. 1999, where the team needed an extra game to get to the playoffs).  And, a bunch of downer years where hope for the playoffs disappeared, though first halves had a tendency to be okay.

The team appears to be going in the right direction now, costly contracts finally coming  off the ledger, no really stupid moves made (a few expensive relievers were signed last year, but relatively speaking, not akin to money tossed down the whole for the likes of Bay or Perez or Castillo).  Likewise, each year appears to have some highlight. First, though he ended on a wimp move (leaving game after an at bat), Reyes ended his Mets reign with a batting title. Then, a two-fer -- first no-hitter and a Cy Young winner (not even the same person!).

And, now an All Star Game and young phenom coming into his own -- Matt Harvey, who started it at his home park.  The first pitch was made (after some stretching) by Tom Seaver, who had a health scare recently, and later had a nice little interview.  Harvey might have had a bit of nerves, giving up a hit and hitting a batter, but then settling down for a good two innings of work.  There were only three hits by the NL (mostly boring game), two by Mets (one former -- Beltran -- one by Wright), the third by Paul Goldschmidt, Votto's replacement.  Note more than one local whined about Harvey skipping a start for an "exhibition game," as if it mattered he skipped and game. A co-host of a local sports show today noted that the game was probably the second most important start of his life thus far.  Yeah.  So, yeah, skipping a game vs. the Pirates didn't matter.

As noted, the game as a whole was pretty boring, the pitchers not giving much up at all after Harvey's starting hiccups.  A few moments, including Rivera's 8th inning appearance (remember, he started as a set-up man), are notable.  One pretty impressive was -- after chubby (Fielder) chugged a lead-off triple -- Grilli holding the AL scoreless in the 9th.  Kimbrel btw had the weakest inning -- three hits, one run. Lee didn't have a good inning either. The AL pitching was impressive. A great play by the third baseman (I believe Machado).  Rivera, the sentimental choice, was MVP, but winning pitcher Sale (two innings, no hits) might have earned it.

The Mets or NY fan was more interested in the start and finish, Harvey giving you two and Rivera giving a finale.  AL gets home field advantage.

Cutting The Mustard

I have overall enjoyed (found her latest a bit weak) books by the author of this examination of an employment dispute at BU, which in a two hundred page tight package told a personal story of personal conflicts while mixing in basic affirmative action theory and legal goings on.  Written in the mid-1980s, it is still quite relevant, especially as a defense of AA. An important catalyst in the (mixed blessing) story recently died.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

‘Stand Your Ground’ Laws Expanding Protection for the Aggressor

Worthwhile read.

Free Quran

A recent hit to my blog went to a discussion to "religion," so it was apropos that my free Quran came today. Yes. I have never read the book, though have read books and took a couple classes that dealt with it and the religion as a whole. So, it was useful to find a website that provided free Qurans to converts/non-believers. The translation has received bona fides and it's a nice pocket sized version with helpful footnotes.

"Nuclear Option Averted"

Who really thought the "nuclear" option would actually be used? At best, mildly enthused here though let's see who the two replacements are. The abuse of the confirmation process opened up a possibility for real change. Mild win, but Rs already got a lot. See links for more.

"What Happens When We Actually Catch Edward Snowden?"

An interesting analysis.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Downton Abbey: S2

I have seen all but the Christmas episode and found it a good watch. Got your soap opera, WWI drama and comfort food (overall these are nice people). A few interesting extras. [Saw the final part ... a key thing finally happened after like eight years. If nothing else, characters here have a lot of patience. Colbert had an amusing parody.]

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Rev. Joe: Complexity and Informed Knowledge Regarding Sexual Matters

This thread involves various attempts by myself and someone else (who I don't agree with exactly: an early abortion is not always, e.g., a "tragedy" imho) to explain the complexity of the abortion/adoption issue on moral grounds. The need to understand seems "bizarre" to some people, the overall tone and approach to me counterproductive. I find it sad.

What's On? Oh ... Zimmerman verdict

Especially with Florida law, I early on (before the trial and concerns about how the prosecution handled it) thought it possible that Zimmerman would be declared not guilty. Deep down, yeah, sorta think he's guilty, but being found so in Florida court is a bit different. It's a horrible case and hopefully something good will come of it. Ultimately, it is one case, if a recent archetype of various things. AMC had a Death Wish marathon on.

ETA: See, Richard here. I think that's quite possibly true.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Matt Harvey Drama

Reportedly, the Mets phenomenon and All Star (played at his home park this year) had blister issues and anyways the plan is to limit his innings. So, the management is skipping a start vs. the struggling/still leading Pirates. BIG DEAL. Everyone know the Mets aren't playoff bound. And, yeah, it's a big deal to have him nice and ready for the ASG, hopefully to start. At Citifield. The "message" sent is just that. No major disrespect to baseball purity.

Spitzer Gets Signatures for Comptroller Race

See my comment here and the matching article. More here. Spitzer is a schmuck. The main competition looks like an experienced pol well qualified, not doing it as some sort of personal crusade. I'm also not a big supporter of Weiner for mayor. He didn't do much last time and really doesn't appear to amount to much more now. He has name recognition.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Need a Lot? Get Rid of A Key Thing You Have!

There has been some talk about trading Mets' closer Bobby "the beard" Parnell, but not really sold. The Mets need many things. They have struggled with closers for years. But, one thing they seem to have is a young cheap one under their control. Let's trade him! For you know, a maybe. And, then we will have to find a closer again. Eh. Better wow us.

True Concern for Women's Health Is Good Public Policy

An article in the NYT and this discussion underlines that regulation of abortion providers is a real concern, but the selective anti-choice path of some who use Kermit Gosnell in a troll-like way (see, e.g., various posts at Mirror of Justice, to which I responded repeatedly with some spleen) is not the answer. Neutral medical regulation, not bigger game, is best.

"Senate Republicans Ratchet Up Fight to Block Obama Nominees to D.C. Circuit"

This sort of blatant partisanship makes the current breed of Rs distasteful to me.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Note (I & III)

I liked The Note, a Hallmark film that ultimately relies on how much you like the two leads. I did and think they add to a mature superior drama. The third film is a bit watered down, but including a good performance of the struggling young mom to add a bit of realism, it is not bad. Basically a hour worth of good material in a ninety minute time though. Music a bit eh.

Pennsylvania Marriage Equality Case

The latest federal lawsuit raises the now quite familiar arguments (gender equality is included) and personal stories. The state appears to be one of the remainder without a constitutional amendment bar as such though legislative repeal seems unlikely. Unlike some, no fairly equal [possible limited win?] civil union option like NJ, if likely friendly in other ways. An outlier in the SSM friendly NE. Think a state amendment might be a better case. ETA: AG won't defend, but governor etc. still can.


Began yesterday. The most sacred month of Muslim calendar.

Camera in the Courtroom

I support the cause, especially the bipartisan nature, but might be biting too much to chew. How about starting with decision days or some such? What is the problem there? Or, a suggestion or requirement to test it out for a few cases?

Tuesday, July 09, 2013


Well, last episode had dark. Almost gratuitously so.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Downtown Abbey

I am up to the final episode of the first series & the second is on its way. The third will take a bit of time, but in time for the fourth early next year. Can see why it is so popular. It's comfort food -- nothing really bad happened yet -- cushions some blows. Might do with more bite. Believe S2 will. Fan of Elizabeth McGovern in the past and nice she has a plum role here. She's around fifty and looks good -- good to have some maturity.

"When Leon Trotsky Agreed to Testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee"

Interesting historical trivia, including an expansive comment. Meanwhile, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops supports voting reform, showing it doesn't just corrupt its brand via backward sex stuff. Really, keep with the stuff that matters people.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

New Book Panel

I'm having problems finding a book that will "stick" the last week or so, but did find some good ones in recent months, a few found on the updated side panel. As expected, The Other Typist is being made into a movie. Keira Knightley will star. A few choice roles to fill.

Gettysburg: The Love Letter

A twist on celebrating the 150th anniversary of the battle -- an old Hallmark romantic fantasy about a miraculous correspondence through time with the battle as an important plot point. Jennifer Jason Leigh particularly adds some dramatic weight. Meanwhile, I'm late to the party, but liking Downtown Abbey so far. Hey, Elizabeth McGovern!

Saturday, July 06, 2013

One out of Two Not Bad

I enjoyed The Riddle of the Labyrinth, a book about the deciphering of an ancient script, but found the author's first book (Talking Hands: What Sign Language Reveals About the Mind) much more of a trudge. The travelogue of sorts of a deaf friendly Arabic town was okay, if a tad repetitive, but the language discussion seemed more geared for specialists.

Rev. Joe: Mere Assertions

I liked Shadowlands, but only saw a bit of the Narnia films (didn't read them). Not impressed with this work. Not a fan of weak argument that draws webs from poor foundations. The stuff about marriage etc. also seems more than "mere" Christianity. [Agreed: even for a believer, this could be a trudge.] More criticism. [A few good bits, easy to read, but "cotton candy." At some point, bad argument is hard to read.] Might work for the choir.

Friday, July 05, 2013

Beating A Dead Horse: Selective ACA Concern

Distasteful metaphor but so it goes -- yet again, tried to get the contributors to face up to the selective nature of concerns about the contraceptive mandate. Hard not to just be snide, especially when petty potshots about Obama poll numbers are blithely ignored. Yeah, quite right you only addressed part of what I said. Such is the bloody problem.

Residential Tourist

For the holiday yesterday, I took a trip downtown to the Staten Island ferry (free), and staid down there long enough to see the beautiful sight of the harbor at night. A nice trip, including seeing some rental bikes, the East Coast Memorial, some nice on the eyes concert folks and so on. Few fireworks seen though. The bows that lit up were particularly cute.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Gettysburg (and Vicksburg too)

First off, can do without this heat. Anyways, as shown repeatedly on C-SPAN weekend, we are in the midst of the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg battle and the fall of Vicksburg, part of the fight against slavery (the "but for" cause -- h/t a comment at the link -- of the Civil War). And, some on Seneca Falls, which is not totally unrelated. And, Happy 4th!

"Implementing Health Reform: A One-Year Employer Mandate Delay"

The difficulty of keeping all the balls in the air regarding an imperfect piece of legislation in the face of a recalcitrant House would cause problem for the best of Administration. Can't really fully judge but discussions like this lead me to be okay with the delay, even if it might be not a great move. Discretion here is not shockingly unprecedented either.

"Physician Participation in Executions"

This is a good article regarding the problems of strict principle here -- if executions will continue and error that can harm the person can be reduced, it seems ironic to refuse any participation even if the inmate asks for it. The other side has a point too.

Monday, July 01, 2013

"A Restroom of One’s Own"

Transsexuals are among those hurt by barriers to same sex marriage, but raise various tricky issues overall. I again recommend a couple books by Cris Beam on such issues.

Anthony Kennedy Does Ted One Better

Jonathan Rauch had a good commentary over the weekend on Kennedy's Windsor opinion and his skill at being at the median of things, though being labeled as a "politician" might suggest why others don't like him.  Here, at least, I think his opinion was very good, especially it highlighting the feds traditionally letting states develop marriage. The feds suddenly blocking the way is a special problem, even if SSM as a whole should be protected.

"Hobby Lobby Wins Before En Banc Tenth Circuit"

I find the idea that the contraceptive mandate is a thread to religious liberty absurd and find the whole thing aggravating, including the plain hypocrisy (and stupidity) of the Catholic Church focusing on this.  The same f-ing church -- yes, at some point it pisses me off -- that ignores that its own members are breaking the marriage sacrament in their eyes.  I simply don't understand how they can blithely let people who do this take communion. Or, do all those Catholics have two or so children because of the rhythm method?  For-profits seeking an exemption is truly stupid:
So the legal requirement that the plaintiffs pay for a health care plan which, among *many* other things, covers contraceptive services which may or may not *actually* be abortifacients, and which will neither be used by the plaintiffs nor given directly by them to employees who may choose to use them, is a violation of plaintiffs' religious principles.

How does this possibly rise to the level of "religious exemption"? I have to agree with Joe_JP that this is a tenuous argument at best for organizations whose primary purpose is actually religious, and utterly absurd for a commercial establishment (even one that's selling religious paraphernalia, and Hobby Lobby at least doesn't even have that excuse).
A post from "Scott" in this thread with various (same old) arguments from similar minds, including myself.  What really annoys me is that people like Prof. Adler refuse to explain how broad these claims are. They simply are not applicable to contraception though stretching the "abortion exception" (which is a policy exception, not a constitutional one) to include morning after pills is bad enough. If this is a problem, birth control pills overall and IUDs (maybe more) also might act this way.  No, it would apply to any single religious problem an employer, even a for-profit selling hobby supplies, might have with any health choice. Trying to drown us in minutiae won't change this. 

I find the concern of various religious affiliated schools (including those like various local ones that many might not deem "religious," like Manhattan College) dubious -- janitors should get to use their health care as they see fit.  But, when corporate for-profit hobby stores raise claims, it is nonsense on stilts.  So were claims against PPACA.  Yeah. I stick to my comment over there -- taking things this far really waters down the religious liberty and exemption brand.  It truly harms both overall.

The Chaos

This book uses West Indies myths and a good amount of surrealism (things just suddenly go crazy) to deal with a mixed raced teenage girl's self-discovery.  She is sassy, talented and comfortable with her sexual power, but troubled too.  I liked this as a whole but thought it rambled on too much about the surreal things going on. Could have been shorter.