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

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

TV Watch

There might be a loose end, but okay conclusion (don't worry; Tiva is fine ... physically) to last week's NCIS cliffhanger. Revenge is of course killing (American media rarely finds more creative means) but a couple good reaction shots and nice to have Ziva do the honors. Meanwhile, more cruelty for Mets fans. Too soon for this level of futility.

AMERICAN GROWN: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America

American Grown doesn't meet my expectations as a gardening or garden history book, but I admire it as a piece of propaganda.
Yes, it isn't really a "how to," but it is not supposed to be. Its lovely pictures (which drew me in), testimonials and overall message of the value of gardening, community and healthy children (and adults) are enough. Check it out.

Someone Else Finds Me Obnoxious

I clashed with a professor online regarding a few issues, my beef being that I didn't think he actually responded to me and in fact set up strawmen. This was shown in part when all three of us pointed out just that on a matter. I got a bit emotional, but so did he ("we get it" etc.). Felt like I was talking to a wall. Hate that, in part because I support reasoned debate with people I disagree with. I make the effort. But, if they make bad arguments, they can be called on it. I realize this takes some finesse. Can't be an asshole about it.

Obama On Closing Gitmo: ‘I’m Going To Go Back At This’


It is lame simply to blame him for not closing GITMO, but he is part of the problem. The hunger strike was raised in today's press conference. Will anything get done?

Update: See here.  I realize Obama is playing with a bad deck but if he can play with the rules by supporting an invasion in Libya, I think there is room here, including perhaps forcing the point with a certain detainee and seeing what Congress does.  This is one of those special situations like Lincoln at the start of the Civil War.

Cruelty to Mets Fans (Twitter Comments Fun Though)

That 15th inning slog, including blowing the lead in the 9th and 15th, against the Marlins (for now, the worst team in the NL East) hopefully will be the most pathetic game of the year. Well, one can hope. Beating the Mets might not matter much if Stanton is out for long.

Monday, April 29, 2013

"Someone Is Wrong On The Internet"

When concern about scheduling a national event on Yom Kippur is compared to ice cream flavors at a retirement party, it might be time to ignore the person.  But, I'm addicted -- I have to respond. On same sex marriage and certain other things, the person is not a tool.

Supreme Court Watch

Whether, under the Privileges and Immunities Clause of Article IV and the dormant Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution, a state may preclude citizens of other states from enjoying the same right of access to public records that the state affords its own citizens.
The oral argument in this case suggested that the justices weren't impressed that there was a violation and the unanimous result reaffirmed it.  As I did then, this surprised me somewhat.  The justices after all also didn't seem overly impressed of the need for the favoritism here regarding access to state FOIA requests.  So, why not require the evenhanded treatment that the Privileges and Immunities Clause seems to warrant?  In effect, the ruling was that the FOIA requests aren't really "fundamental" enough to warrant application of the rule and regardless any differential treatment was minor.  So, the fact one litigant "received much of what he sought" (aka not the same as a state resident might) by alternative means was good enough.  Also, largely appealing to history, the right to access of public information on equal terms with in-state citizens is not one the clause protects.  [Here's a more substantive summary.]

Eh. The litigants were not equally treated. The state's interests were dubious -- the cost concern was trivial for individual requests and could have been handled differently. That is, just charge the person any additional charge to compensate for providing a service to a non-tax payer.  FOIA does provide state citizens the right to be informed about their own government.  But, as the facts of the case suggests, that is not the only value of such requests, and others out of state also are concerned with such details, particularly if they have some business within the state in some fashion.  I think a case might have been made on the commerce point but the P/I issue alone could have handled it.

The opinion does not refute that there is some interest there, it should was not impressed with the importance of it all.  It seems to me that a more clear rule would be best here, instead of trying to determining if the interest was "fundamental" and even then if the burden was strong enough.  Again, at least, if the result would not in any real way burden an interest that in-state citizens have a right to retain.  Access to records is not akin to voting or the like. At least, it is troubling no one had any problems with the favoritism particularly given its gratuitous nature.  If the case was too trivial to matter, why take the litigants' appeal? 

Meanwhile, the USSC disposed of another case 5-4 as improvidently granted.  A few of the majority justified the move given the dissent.  The case regarded "[w]hether a state’s failure to fund counsel for an indigent defendant for five years as a direct result of the prosecution’s choice to seek the death penalty should be weighed against the state for speedy trial purposes."  (to quote again from SCOTUSblog)  Clear statement rules at times are cited by conservative justices, but the above suggests a certain selectivity. The same applies to respecting the findings of state courts as the conflicting opinions here underline.

I think DIGs are a big waste of time so should be used sparingly.  So, there is a high burden to justify one here.  OTOH, they are used at times to settle cases where the justices are in effect stuck and/or "wanted this case to go away rather than have to pick sides on the merits" and the result is to keep the law as a whole in stasis.  Unclear how that plays out here. Anyway, oral arguments are over, and there are basically two months left of the term, the more "hot button" cases likely to be decided in June.  Meanwhile, orders and various other opinions will be handed down. 

Also, speedy recovery to bike aficionado Justice Breyer.

TV Watch

I fear Toby (the baby after Charlie) was something of a "jump the shark" moment on Good Luck Charlie though it still can be amusing. The 4th season premiere had the Muppets but as a whole was "eh." Feel the same way about Veep though last week's episode was decent. This week? More typically "blah." A word that fits the Mets of late.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Rev. Joe -- Minaret

This is a good fiction book by Leila Aboulela whose personal biography adds to the veracity -- it concerns a well off child from the Sudan whose life changes as the political winds of her country does, eventually leading her to become a strict Muslim as well as a servant, where she eventually falls in love with a younger man. Honest and realistic in its flawed characters.

Personal Best

Update: "NBA center Jason Collins has become the first athlete in a major American team sport to come out as gay during his playing career." Life goes on. 

The other two available episodes of Bomb Girls was not as good, but had a few good scenes.  NCIS was not a great episode either, an annoying cliffhanger to boot, but actress alert -- the empath on Star Trek: The Next Generation is now (well, the actress) the head of Mossad.  Meanwhile, th usual weekend trip to the library not only resulted in seeing a fiction book by a non-fiction author I enjoyed in the past (more on this perhaps at a later date), but also catching sight of the movie Personal Best.

The basic things that this movie calls to mind includes that it is the first movie the "am I a lesbian" character in It's In The Water asks for at video store run.  The lesbian relationship is what this movie often is know for. I also remember a scene where Mariel Hemingway's character is excited when it turns out her boyfriend (played by an actual athlete as is the co-star and others, America's boycott of the 1980 Olympics apparently helping making such things more available) has to go to the bathroom, since she always wanted to hold a guy's penis when he does so.  Also, I recall Roger Ebert (probably) saying that the coach accepted his two stars' relationship. only fearing that it would complicate their athletic performances.  Don't think I ever saw the whole film though.

It was a good find, including a good conversational commentary by the director, the coach character (Scott Glenn) and that bf, who is a small part later in the film, but basically as well done as the others, who mostly were non-actors or in the case of the star, someone with little acting.  It is amazing really when a movie is so well put together, basically from start to finish, given there is so much involved in making a film  I felt the same way about the Kurt Russell version of Miracle (this occurred in the Winter Olympics, which explains why they even could play in the 1980 games and you know show people you can believe in miracles).  There is a lot to like about the film, including the refreshing comfortable sensuality:
This is a very physical movie, one of the healthiest and sweatiest celebrations of physical exertion I can remember. There is a lot of nudity in the film--not only erotic nudity, although there is some of that, but also locker room and steam room nudity, and messing around nudity that has an unashamed, kidding freshness to it.
Right you are, Mr. Ebert.  In the commentary, the writer/director noted he (would a female director do much different here? interesting to consider) had the first love scene take place in a child's room to show the childish innocence of the event, the playful nature of it all, which began when MH challenged her to an arm wrestle contest to show she had guts. The character's inner self-confidence comes out when she meets the aforementioned guy and gives him training trips, mind you, it comes out he has two gold medals.  It appears she is as or more strong than the older athlete who took a big sister concern early on. 

The bathroom scene is notable for another thing: actual full frontal male nudity (which is somewhat gratuitously provided about this time in Life of Brian, the guy showing it after a sex scene for once). This is not a gay thing -- the selective showing of nudity has real cultural significance and messaging in my opinion and the same includes the lack of similar playful and comfortable nudity and sexuality in other films. Relationships and sexuality is quite complex (MH's bisexuality here underlines it) but American films (and probably other countries in their own fashion though from a small sample size, less so in various cases) are pretty limited here. Imagine a similar male movie with similar heavily full nudity, including sex scenes. It will be as striking as the first baseball or football player coming out while still being an active player. 

A word on the guys. As noted, the Olympic runner Kenny Moore was good as her second love interest.  Scott Glenn had a good role as a coach who really cares for his girls (women -- sometimes, you still use "girls" for adults, but it's equal -- men repeatedly come off as but "boys" to women too), even when he is cursing at them.  The writer/director Robert Towne does not really have many director credits, but as with various other things, a home run was hit here.  Consider The Crying Game -- other than a fairly lame supporting role in Stargate (better known as a series), Jaye Davidson really didn't have any other credits. Perfect in the one movie.

Personal best, one might say.

[Update: The film itself is from 1982; the DVD commentary from about twenty-five years later. Good off color comparison made by MH (comes better from her): you are what my brother would call a carpenter's dream -- flat as a board and easy to nail.]

Friday, April 26, 2013

Bomb Girls

Like Being Erica, there is a time lag before this Canadian show comes here, but checked demand and four episodes were ready all at once. Saw 2.7 and 2.8 so far, the latter like 2.6 having more than one really powerful moment and storyline. Not that both weren't good. The show about WWII Canadian women in a bomb factory is a good "I have that channel?" find.

"Religion without God"

The Unitarian-Universalist "religion" welcomes atheists, which is just one example of the title not being a contradiction in terms. Ronald Dworkin gave a series of lectures on the topic and was working on a book form when he died. It will be released posthumously.

Thursday, April 25, 2013


I enjoyed the book about this account of the secret mission to rescue six diplomats during the Iran hostage crisis and the film was well made too though it changed some stuff for dramatic purposes. [ETA: Near the end, it leans on the "exciting finish" too thick and it's mostly fictional anyway.] Ben Affleck is getting to be a pretty talented guy.

The Tattoos were a bit much ...

I think dark humor is acceptable though at times it works better in hindsight. So, see the humor here, but it is still a pretty horrible thing. Offensive comment.

Woody Guthrie’s Dust Bowl Novel

A book with an introduction co-edited by Johnny Depp seemed promising. The introduction was interesting and Bound for Glory was a good film of his life, if a bit meandering (fittingly so). Couldn't get into the poetic prose, but could see why some might like it. Meanwhile, for Downton Abbey fans, Life Below Stairs provides some history

TV Watch

Rules of Engagement was okay -- best for giving Jen a bit to do, to cite a hobbyhorse of mine. Don't recall a train delay that long. Saw two episodes of The Americans. Don't like all these killings and risk takings. Big surprise the Russian mole came clean. Is she trying to find a means to get revenge on her dead colleague? Few other nice touches too. Didn't see NCIS. Not really into the personal drama and push for revenge there. Nice Mets win.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Evil Dead

Didn't see the remake but my horror movie blog source did provide this and in comments explained (though she might have been tongue in cheek) why the review of the remake of the source of the blog's name was never written. I thought that remake lame. Sheesh, has it been two years? I saw Evil Dead 2 & 3, but don't recall the first one. Was it more serious?


They are getting some congressional attention, including from the people who live in the targeted area. Innocents die when military force is used, which is part of why "war it is hell" and should be a last resort. Legal or not, dubious if the drone campaign as a whole is a good policy, even if I would not absolutely be against them.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

"West Fertilizer Co.’s environmental compliance problems go back decade"

The company’s regulatory history going back to 1976 comes to light as investigators seek the cause of last week’s fertilizer explosion that killed at least 14 people.
This story is an "also ran," but shouldn't be ignored. This underlines why there really is no "media blackout" as to the Gosnell trial. These sorts of regulatory things are regularly underreported. Putting aside, again, that story was reported.

"What Is a Person"

I talk a bit in reply to a blog post about that question, including how an embryo might be "life" but not "a person" for legal purposes (but still something more than a simple "thing"), and how "person" might in some fashion apply to non-humans, which sci-fi suggests is somewhat obvious. "Person" is in effect a value marker.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Check Her Out

I don’t believe in fairies
I don’t believe in ghosts
I don’t believe in vampires
Hungry for our throats

- Shelley Segal
The FFRF newsletter led me to this sweet sounding singer.

In Chambers: Stories of Supreme Court Law Clerks

This is a collection of essays, some by the people themselves. Nothing too novel for someone familiar with the history, but some good stuff re. the changing role and flavor of the justices (1880s to 2000s) involved. Generally rather positive, so we don't get all the flaws, except for Douglas, of course. Interestingly, the mostly forgotten Charles Whittaker is included.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Mets Listen To My Blog Post

Sure. Anyway, helped by Nats miscues, they won the series via a 2-0 win. Laffey, who might be mediocre but didn't meet even lower expectations, is designated for assignment.

Small, Beautifully Moving Parts

Another regular pick in the library are "film movement" independent/foreign films usually with a short film or two added. Mixed bag, but this one about a tech friendly pregnant woman struggling with doubt and parent issues was charming overall. Hilary Swank was in the HBO film Mary and Martha, which was somewhat standard, only saw part, but she had some powerful scenes, including one where she states her son's death was her fault.

Greek Tragedies Are Less Predictable

A long suffering Mets fan all the more so that I began rooting for them after their 1980s heyday, this season to me has modest expectations. Still, requires taking advantage of a reasonable early schedule and realizing the team's penchant for last season swoons. So, these early blown games really are annoying and distressing. Yesterday was a game you expected to lose (mismatch!) but they soared ahead. For all of .2 of an inning. Tied, lasted one batter.


The website at one point notes profits from the film "will help provide mental health services for survivors of religious abuse" [also promote artists] and there is a PSA on the DVD on this issue. The danger of cults and lack of practicing with true free will is as noted not done by just bashing religion. This is a lesson that can be applied broadly to all types of beliefs.

Rev. Joe Films: Paradise Recovered

There is a lot out there in the movie department but it's good to physically hold a DVD case, so the library is nice, and provides a limited number of options so you are not overwhelmed. The title film was a nice surprise. I agree with this review overall that it loses its way a bit. But, its treatment of a fundamentalist having a crisis of faith without simply losing it is still pretty good with pleasant leads and a nice twist on the Good Samaritan fable.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Boston Bombing Raises Various Concerns

Various questions raised by the Boston attacks, including the application of the "public safety exception" by the Obama Administration (good article cited by Emily Bazelon). Lawrence O'Donnell had some good reporting on his show. As to the "lockdown," I understand the concern, but given the situation, acceptable. It also was limited and voluntary. Also, it is impressive that the person was caught so fast though not before more death and heartache.

Rev. Joe Gets Porn?

I obtained a free copy of "Freethought Today" from the Freedom From Religion Foundation (to be a bit misleading given I interpret "religion" broadly). It looks like porn -- it is folded over and the "cover" is blank accept for the stamped on address label, even the name vague ("ffrf" and a PO Box though with a "non-profit" stamp). For Bible Country?

Must be that Bronx Blood

Listening to the Indian adoption case (sad facts but interesting; the patent case might be too, but the orals got boring fast), Sotomayor was in aggressive mode again.  She might want to tone that down a bit; Roberts at one point got annoyed and told her to let the guy answer. BTW, for those not aware, I'm from the Bronx, so get to kid about it.

The Tough Luck Constitution

I was not sure if it paid to read yet another summary of the ACA cases, especially since the basic logic of this small volume can be found in various blog posts or articles written by the author.

This is not to disrespect the author (see here, where he both defends Dawn Johnsen* and references to me a compelling 13A argument he makes as to abortion rights).  An earlier book (less geared to the general public, but still not overly academic) on historical practice as to interstate comity as to marriages provided a cautious approach to SSM (this was six years ago, but it holds true for me) that appeals. Another book rejecting the premise of Boy Scouts of America v. Dale to me sounds ill advised, but at Amazon even an opponent of its premise found it well written.

Koppelman at one point noted that the book is geared to the general reader, of which on this subject perhaps I am not totally representative given the amount of reading and such done on this and other related topics. Still, always appreciate a good brisk summary, noting elsewhere that Mill (who I was shamed to read in full when noting this) said some good stuff in On Liberty, but darn it was a trudge to read in that classic literature speak of his. Managed to read some classic works (read and enjoyed the works of Jane Austen a couple years back) but still.

The book was enjoyable as a sort of collection of essays.  The general sentiment, shared by Jack Balkin, is that the Founders understood Art. 1 to be a list of things that the federal government had the power to do because the states were unable to do so.  This reflects the principle of "subsidiary," something Justice Breyer also supported in his two books. The committee that wrote it was instructed to be guided by this principle (see linked essay):
legislate in all cases for the general interests of the Union, and also in those to which the States are separately incompetent, or in which the harmony of the United States may be interrupted by the exercise of individual legislation.
The basic result is that, yes Virginia, the ACA  is not only constitutional, but it is in effect loyal to "originalist" principles. This appalls some since if originalism (shudder) can support so-called "living constitutionalism," what the heck won't fit under its tenets?  The blame is not on Jack Balkin et. al., friends, but the plastic nature of originalism itself.  Anyway, history is too important to be left to conservatives.  My belief that ACA is clearly constitutional is suggested by various things I wrote for the last few years here and elsewhere (Slate, Volokh Conspiracy, etc.). Partially, it is a matter (see link) that I think there is a broad power and responsibility there, but partially since I think even within the limits (artificial often) demanded by some, there are clear reasons to think so. 

Anyway, I think the book is fine enough but have two complaints. First, the subsidiary principle is great, but what it basically does it provide guidance on rightful application of powers enumerated or logically arising from such enumerations. This covers a lot of ground, surely, but it is not the same as if the above federalism dictum was the only thing there. There are specific things chosen for enumeration and this serves as a check.  This underlines the falsity that ACA leads to "no limits."  Second, other than the subsidiary or national interest principle there are other limits and this was not really clearly underlined enough.  The issue here is clearly a matter of interstate commerce.  More importantly, there are various limits such as the Bill of Rights. For some reason, this "limit" was not noted.

Still, do check the book out, it's a quick read (around 150 pages, smallish at that) though the last bit was a rather striking thing to leave out.  The title by the way is the belief that there is limited federal power (and state power really, given the implications of the arguments), which lead to a dark view that certain people will suffer, but "tough luck," since it's necessary for liberty overall.  Such people like Randy Barnett see the New Deal as the moment when the Constitution died or something, apparently thinking the best of times was the Gilded Age or something.

One more thing.  I still think that even given the premises of the opponents, ACA stands up.  Realistically, no one is really "inactive." As the book notes, the Roberts opinion cheats a bit and requires that the person has to be active in the "health care" market.  In other words, it is not even that the person is "inactive," or "just breathing," to cite tiresome cant of some opponents (said with a sneer).  This is a curious thing. Apparently, even if you are active (sic) in various ways that directly and indirectly (but enough to substantially affect) take part in interstate commerce, the federal government can not regulate your actions in this fashion unless the regulation involves the specific sort of commerce you are involved in.  At least, pursuant to the phony rules set forth.

Fairly recently, and this is normal enough, I had a cleaning project to do for a family member. Took a bus to her home, a bus that must be integrated pursuant to federal law because it involves interstate commerce.  Fed her cats, using food bought a a supermarket that also must meet various federal regulations again largely pursuant to the Commerce Clause.   Later, I did a bit more shopping to buy supplies in various stores (stores where I was, shudder, forced to associate with people because they were public accommodations that had to follow an "all comer" policy), following an "el," that is an elevated subway train also involved in travel that involved interstate travel in various ways.  You get the idea.  I use this example to show that even putting aside employment (again, don't count for Roberts, since it isn't the health market), the average person will be involved in interstate commerce regularly. 

Health care played an important part in all of these things, including the nature of the employees available to work, the health of those passed (especially in a populated urban city like mine) and the overall costs involved, given it is 1/6 of the national economy.  (See Akhil Amar here on the many ways the Constitution touches upon these issues. One thing that stands out for me is the bankruptcy power, given how important health care costs factor into that).  If Mr. Wickard could be caught up into the matrix here, so to speak, how in the hell - I find opposition here specious - am I and others "inactive" for purposes of the Commerce Clause?  Add the various political and constitutional limits,** this really shouldn't have been hard.

But, it was, huh?


* I continue to believe that the filibustering of Dawn Johnsen is one of the most distressing aspects of the first term.  Her appointment to head the OLC served as a symbol that a new start had to occur there, to (per an op-ed she wrote) "[r]estoring leadership and integrity to the Office of Legal Counsel."  There is just only so much that one person can do, but her background and ethical principles suggested the importance of the appointment, one which some in the Administration very much might have not been totally unhappy failed given she might have made things difficult in certain cases.  I feel somewhat similar about the gun bills.

** I think there are like five: (1) political [having lived it, the idea it was "rammed thru" is risible] (2) subsidiary principle (3) economic (see U.S. v. Lopez / Morrison)  (4) textual limits (Bill of Rights etc.) (5) structural limits (no commandeering of states etc.).  Also, there has to be a basic rational basis that it involves "interstate commerce" or is "necessary and proper" (the latter including things like 4/5) for same.  Even if you take a concern for active/inactive, ACA would meet for me a "rational basis with teeth" test, especially since the means is limited and economic in nature.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Playing for Keeps

I was attracted by reviews that said this was standard but with some interesting things (like Jessica Biel's performance) mixed in. Saw a bit of that (the ex learning from his son about the mom's marriage plans was handled in a good understated way), but ugh, the "assembly line" was pretty boring fast. So, blah, you get better stuff for free on Hallmark.

On Speech

Ronald Dworkin ... argued that speech should be protected in part because citizens have a “moral responsibility…not only to form convictions of one’s own, but to express these to others, out of respect and concern for them, and out of a compelling desire that truth be known, justice served, and the good secured.”
An article argues this was the personal philosophy of Anthony Lewis and it influences my addiction of sorts to online comments. There is some egotism involved, yes, but also a personal evangelical desire to share and argue. I think I have insights to contribute and a certain mindset to provide them better than certain others. It's fun, but more that that.

Baby Steps on Marijuana

A few conservative Republicans are following principle (contra to some of the gun bills cited yesterday) and supporting a bill that would allow local options for marijuana. Sounds a bit tricky if the conduct really involves out of state actors (e.g., sales to travelers), but good for them. Mere possession of small qualities of marijuana are not really a "crime" in NY though "public view" can get you in trouble. No medicinal marijuana exception, yet.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Gun Regulations Pass in Senate ... Underlining Bill In Limbo

Two amendments to the gun regulation bill passed -- mental health care and a national check on state discretion on releasing information about gun owners. Another two -- expanding rights of vets and overriding local law on concealed carrying in regard to travelers received 56/57. A gun trafficking proposal, contra the article, received the most at 58.

Judge Bridget Mary McCormack

It might be different elsewhere, but over here judicial elections are a joke, since they get so little coverage, so voters don't know anything about the candidates. Helps when your sister brings in the West Wing cast to help your candidacy (in Michigan). Turns out she won.

"The Problem With Gun Control Politics"

I understand the argument here that the Dems who voted against background checks can be forgiven, but it was a compromise bill by a quite conservative Dem. Sometimes, you have to follow the team. Also, reject that it was so very trivial. Did the Newtown families think that? At the very least, it had real symbolic effect as a sign that the gun power has to compromise just a tad. Assuming it would fail in the House also is a tad too defeatist.

"What if NY invested more in dairy farms and less in prisons?"

h/t to article with video and audio. Upstate NY is farm country as Gillibrand shows. All for prison alternatives, including "drug courts." Not gung ho about dairy as a vegan in spirit, but if it's going to be there, do it in a way good for the community.

Court Artist

The source of two USSC pics.

"Keeping Their Art to Themselves"

Ms. Thomas, 30, wore a cardigan to her job interview — preemptively and perhaps prudently — seven years ago, and remains grateful that the human resources manager never panned down to her right ankle, which bears a tattooed sword with a banner reading “Daddy” (when she meets with clients, on go Ms. Thomas’s black tights).
Interesting article on tattoos as an employment issue.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


Obama, with gun violence victims around him, pissed off at Senate filibuster of seven gun control proposals today. As my own Sen. Gillibrand noted on Twitter, the Senate "let down" the public and is "truly broken." Julia Sweeney called it "Really unfuckingbelievable."

Supreme Court Watch

No per se "no warrant" rule for blood tests of alleged drunk drivers. 8-1 but split on line drawing. Seems okay. Alien Tort Statute case doesn't override presumption against extraterritoriality but 4-5 justices [see various posts here] leave something of an opening. Yesterday, had two more Kagan opinions, her style discussed here. Like it, especially the down to earth flavor, but at some point sarcasm does get to be a bit too Scaliaesque.

"Legalize Polygamy!"

Talked about a book by the family seen in the article. Basically, don't criminalize polygamy, but the issue with SSM is equal legal recognition. Different thing and the Slate piece doesn't do a great job discussing the nuances. But, the headline catches the eye!


Makes sense to have the co-star in Hysteria, a movie about the invention of the vibrator, to narrate a documentary about orgasms. Passed this while flipping the channels.  BTW, sex is so pristine in late night soft porn. No bodily fluids at all. They just get dressed and go back to what they were doing.  I'm not asking full realism here, but you know ...

Mets Clown Show

First, if Gee cannot pitch five innings, the team needs another starter.  Second, all you needed was a split.  It took a ridiculous amount of screwing up (the eighth inning was a classic here) to manage to blow that. And, after a long day, after 1 A.M. NY time, do we really need your typical Gary Cohen "[the other team] WINS IT!" call?  You know, shut up.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

(Mostly) TV Watch

Rules of Engagement last night was akin to the early episodes that I felt were comfortable things to watch at the end of the day.  Now, this can be done literally since WGN provides two episodes at midnight.

Recent episodes apparently cannot find much to do with Jen while making her finance (they have been engaged for about six years -- at least if you count the seasons though the length is not really alluded to -- now though a reference suggested they will be married in a few months) more and more stupid. Adam was more interesting when he was less of a caricature and  it's a shame that they cannot find more to do with Jen, since she has that vibe where though she's hot, she also has a masculine side. They showed this once when she and Jeff bonded and there is potential there.  She's clearly the dominant one in the relationship.

The two subplots -- Jeff (whose health scare was not referenced) is eating unhealthy (he carries along MSG since salt doesn't do it for him any more) and this leads to him and Audrey to go to a healthy cooking class with Adam/Jen.  He makes this a competition, which Audrey finds distasteful, but since Jeff is really just her id, eventually comes around.  Meanwhile, Timmy goes on vacation, and Russell in effect fills the void with a female Timmy, not willing to realize just how he is making his new gf into the form of his personal assistant.  Holy gender confusion, Batman!

When Russell accidentally thought Timmy was the gf, it was the end of things, and -- as his wont -- he basically didn't think about it any more, creating a fiction that Timmy was the one who was behind it.  But, in real life, people are known to do things like that -- there are people attracted to people of the same sex or transsexuals and do not really want to accept "the truth" of the matter.  The line here is probably not clear anyhow. Any number of relationships probably have some form of fiction to them, the full truth hard to come by.  Totally possible or not, someone who you can be truthful with is an important resource.  Truth can be scary.

Later on in the night, Soldier's Girl was on cable, a true story about a solider who falls in love with a transsexual dancer with a military past herself.  It is a good (and tragic) based on true life affair that both concerns their relationship as well the soldier's company, the sergeant who wants to leave sleeping dogs lie, another who wants to find the gay guy rumored, two troubled fellow soldiers and others who just want to have fun and do their job. Each part is well done, including Calpernia Addams,* who wrote a book about her own story.  The book is well written but was not in the frame of mind to appreciate its somewhat flowery tone.

Earlier, I finally watched the tape of the latest episode of The Americans, with replays, instant on demand and taping (and online stuff) allowing a person to watch such and such whenever. It feels like I'm watching something and then it's almost time to watch it again ... oh, that's right, I didn't actually watch it a week ago. Anyway, like the show, including Keri Russell, who looks like she hasn't slept in a few days or something -- she has that level of seriousness all the time on the show. Still, think too much occurred too fast -- too many killings, with now another somewhat important person (Elizabeth's first recruit, who she probably also loves) killed.  The show needs to relax a bit.  Have a "normal" episode. 

BTW, finished Julia Sweeney's book -- just in time, since she was starting to ramble a bit, and again, recommend it.  How can I not when it has a chapter in which she has a conversation with her mother-in-law about an illegal abortion back in 1960? (Sweeney references her own abortion too.)  Since this is a sort of hobbyhorse of mine -- millions of abortions have been done in this country in the last decade alone, but it is still a taboo topic to talk about -- I appreciated the chapter.

It was entitled "Pussy," since the person that drove her to a secret location looked like Big Pussy from the Sopranos.  Little random vulgar touches like that, charming. Sweeney is an Irish Catholic and is cute though she is more cute looking as she gets older.  As I noted, I liked her monologues, but the second one was the weaker link. In part, it was because she seemed a bit too privileged (which she admits to here), with talk of expensive trips to where Darwin studied and all.  She also seems to have had a lot of boyfriends (her stock name for them is "Joe" and other than her high school flame, we start with Joe #10). 

She also had a good amount of death, even for someone who is now in her early '50s. The first monologue is about her brother dying young and in the book we learn about the death of another brother.  We also learn of the death of her lovable father (from her first monologue) and I later on her blog found out that both her elderly cat (still around from the late 1990s until recently) and the dog we learn about (before the 13 year end point she suggests) in the book.  She says on blog that she won't have any more pets, but that is what she said about dogs in the first place.

And, Sweeney said a few years ago, I guess it is, that she was going to stop blogging because she was worrying about the privacy of her adopted daughter.  I say "Ha" -- this book belies that.  She clearly asked Mulan if it was okay (she's 12 now, and obviously also can read it) and we are better for it.  Still, some pretty intimate things here, including young Mulan asking about sex.  I would imagine many preteens might be embarrassed if the whole world knew about that.  But, she's a Sweeney.  They are sort of exhibitionists about talking about things. 

BTW, those tabs where you scan for more material are like everywhere now.  I don't have the smart device to do it.


* Kudos both to the actor (sic) and the makeup/wardrobe here, since hard as it is to believe, the person playing her is not a transsexual but the actor who later played Rep. Wood, a vocal opponent of the 13A in Lincoln.  The use of prosthetics so that even topless (the character took hormones and has breasts) she looks the part is especially notable.  I did not see it, but the actual person contributes to the DVD. 

Monday, April 15, 2013


Well, another Mets game postponed though the events today in Boston might lead some not to be in the mood. OTOH, sports are there in part to keep our mind off dead children.

If It's Not One Thing, It's Your Mother

Not a big fan of Julia Sweeney's entertainment work (Baby Blues was cute), but enjoyed her monologues (saw one in person). So, looked forward to her new book, focusing on motherhood (she adopted a child on her own after a hysterectomy). Amusing and perspective so far, hard not to hear her bemused voice while reading. Mother's Day upcoming!

Sunday, April 14, 2013


It got a lot of nominations, but only the lead won though given how good it looked maybe it should have won a technical. Film itself was somewhat boring, starting with a hard to believe opening (pretty sassy black solider there) and a dragged out final twenty after the 13A was passed. Stevens showing it to his black "housekeeper" seemed like a good place to end. Various things to keep interest including some good performances. Mixed though.

Snow Day

Matt Harvey gave up his first hit after 6.2 (Santana gave up a "hit" around then) but continued his dominance / suggestion he will be this year's Dickey. Weather led to a cancellation today, weather no surprise, so should have had a DH. OTOH, both teams are not playoff bound, so a make-up game is sorta pointless. CO weather bad too.

Rev. Joe: Room for Optimism?

"Pope Names Panel to Advise on Reforming Vatican." Along with some efforts to show his humility and tone down the pomp (reminds me of an episode of an old show -- the things that you remember), perhaps there are signs that the new pope will do some good for his flock.

Odds and Ends

Like the guy here, I like to read reviews, but do read the book from time to time. Some reviews do lead me to read or watch the thing. This one didn't work out. Get Fuzzy's plots about catching the mouse are amusing -- sometimes that comic loses its way. The new monopoly piece bit (who says comics aren't educational?) in Pearls Before Swine also funny.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Role Playing as a Nazi?

This might be a bit harsh, but I do find it more true than the "OMG" approach taken at Talking Points Memo. It is very important to consider the mind-set of those who we find wrong or even evil. Sometimes, this is not easy or overly pleasant. It is not the same thing as actually supporting them. In fact, opposition requires truly knowing your enemy.

God Forbid You Talk About Gun Proposals

Two people (EV and Kopel) at VC are particularly expert on 2A issues, but neither has found it useful to talk there about the ongoing proposals in a significant moment. But, EV feels it necessary to have three posts about a somewhat lame letter from the senator from Connecticut. Also, "gun control" is used loosely while we continue are preached about the proper use of "assault" and "automatic." Sorry, also one about a poll. Bias showing, guys.

Bomb Girls

Major happenings on 2.5 and 2.6 (missed 2.4), including hey isn't that Myles? (The finance whose death we discover in a nice underplayed scene was on Being Erica). Good drama though not some great work of art or anything. Betty had her moment too.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Avery's "intrinsic value"

The Texas Supreme Court overturned a novel ruling that provided damages [comparing it to rulings on sentimental value of an heirloom] for the sentimental value of a dog. The court deemed such a major change of the law, especially given all the lines you had to draw, was better left to the legislature. Seems valid, but the legislature should act.

Ignoring Uncomfortable Facts?

As noted here, "there is no Gosnell coverup," and he is if anything a symbol for those who want readily available health care, including abortion services, of what happens when it is not adequately provided. If there is a lack of coverage, I'm all for more. OTOH, for those who want to single this out out of personal beliefs, things are seen thru their own tinted glasses.

Priests of Our Democracy

On the last chapters of this book on threats to academic freedom, particularly anti-communism, focused on events in New York City particularly. It covers important ground and the people's stories shine through. But, it is somewhat tediously put together and the legal stuff is not really always clearly expressed. Somewhat disappointing.

Frances Perkins

Last Word at times is a bit tiresome and/or heavy-handed, but has some good material. A particularly good extended feature (two nights so far) on the title person, the architect of Social Security includes insights on how it has been adapted (including lowing benefits in some sense) over the years, is recommended. Idealistic realism is great.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Homeschooling Victims

Michelle Goldberg speaks to the darker side of homeschooling here. The blog cited by Ms. King is especially sad, though it's great she seems to be doing well now. For instance, see how her twisted upbringing led to stop praying. Prayer is not magic and all, but even if you believe in God, this response should not be too surprising. I don't think the state can ban such schooling, but this underlines the value of exposure to diversity, especially as a child.

Contraceptive Mandate

I comment here after someone suggests those who support it don't think religions should be treated differently. Totally bogus. I think Oregon v. Smith was wrong decided. And, it is the opponents that repeatedly ignore the religious liberty of employees and students. The balancing of interests is correctly decided here, at most a problem of the small print.

Anthony Weiner

He is testing the waters to see if a NYC mayoral run is in the cards, now that Bloomberg is retiring. Like last time, don't think he has much of a shot. Better off trying to find some local race, ala Mark Sandford, if he wants to return to politics. Choose wisely, I think the voters might accept him. We have second chances here, including for putzes like him.

Spotting A Team Five Runs: Problematic

I think Jeremy Hefner is a credible fifth starter, but apparently he can't handle the Phils well, though this time he did get an out. Took awhile though. With Marcum out and Gee blowing it, the not that great anyway bullpen is being overworked. Expect a game to be blown by them (well, one was, though an error helped). Okay, some. Long season.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

SSM=Polygamy / 2A = No Limits

I think this bleg interesting, but it basically became a chance for people to attack any hint of non-absolutism. Like how someone found it hard to oppose purchase of stolen guns. Multipe people didn't think the front of a courthouse was a sensitive place, favoring a narrow definition of "in." Calling Bill Clinton! Meanwhile, at TPM, somewhat different mindset ...

Priests of Our Democracy: The Supreme Court, Academic Freedom, and the Anti-Communist Purge

Reading this now, a fan of two of her previous works. I also believe I read a book by all who wrote a blurb. About 1/3 in and it's pretty good reading (much of it in fact focuses on local events, not the USSC) though not sure if it covers much new ground. Good left friendly history with some balance: injustice does not take everyone targeted off innocent babes.

Monday, April 08, 2013

A Little Free Library

Condom Wars

Read in the NYT today the latest in Catholic colleges' latest campaign to look like backward Puritans. The "pro-life" student against use of something that will prevent conception got me, though again, they are for the promotion of more life. Private college, they have likely a right to stop students giving out condoms on campus, but it's still stupid.

Oh Well

One thing cited along the way yesterday was that the new Cubs ace had a heckuva lot of strikeouts. I missed the part where he lost the game in the sixth. Don't worry. Some pretty good pitchers had bad days yesterday. BTW, yeah, the Mets pitcher yesterday was mediocre. Guy's the second replacement aka #7 starter. Low bar there.

Mets WIN!

Had a major cleaning chore yesterday, providing a chance to listen to the Mets game. Though I'm not a big fan of the sidekick to Howie Rose, the Mets do have a top radio/t.v. crew. More consistently than the on the field talent. Spot starter was knocked around but the Marlins only scored three, their closer blowing it while the questionable Mets pen kept them scoreless for 4.2. I know, the Marlins, but did make up for Friday's late game messiness.

American Creation: Triumphs and Tragedies at the Founding of the Republic

Found this free at the library (NYPL don't accept donations, but some libraries give away books. The chapter on the Creeks discussed something I didn't know much about, the others providing a few interesting insights on standard subjects. An example: the Constitution set up a continuing conversation, no one side winning out. Pleasant read.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

Take that title literally. The movie provides some touches (unless your typical suburban party has heroin) but things are fairly sedate other than the occasional riot. Steve Carrell and Keira Knightley are nice company and the film (and commentary) on the whole is nice in a melancholy way. Rambles along too much with various good supporting roles along the way.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

The Americans Risks Jumping Shark Moment

All that makes last night’s missteps all the more frustrating. Why did Stan Beeman, an upstanding FBI agent whose life was completely upended by an undercover assignment with an Aryan gang, break bad so quickly?
I agree -- was pissed when Stan killed the guy in the last episode. Found the kill level a bit too much already (reality: more boring) and the beating up a superior bit ridiculous but after three agents died in a tragic f-up, another two "agents" basically did as well? Ugh.

Friday, April 05, 2013


Going to be some nights like this. Ugh.

Plan B Update

The latest on this case. It was understandable, but still a mild wrong, that the Obama Administration decided to "maintain limits on access to Plan B contraception by girls under the age of 17." It very well might not be the last word. The courts are in part there to guard against illicit political decisions though administrative rule-making is usually upheld

Thursday, April 04, 2013

And More ...

Ebert was a great humanist and a beacon of empathy and kindness.

-- Chris Hayes (Tweet)
The "beacon" part is a bit much, but the sentiment is valid. [Good discussion on CH.]

Roger Ebert R.I.P.

Just heard his cancer returned and that he might not have much more time to live ... now, it has been reported that he has died. I grew up watching him and Siskel (whose death ended an era) and deeply appreciate those like them who provide a summary to help contemplate a movie, an issue or anything else. Where would blogging be without such launch points?

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Canada TV Again Has Some Courage

The Canadian teenage drama Degrassi a few years ago back did something basically never done -- a character had an abortion. Bomb Girls, though it hints a character had one in the past, took the norm and a character (pregnant by an affair) decided not to have one. And, then she miscarried. Still, showing the abortionist as an acceptable character, notable.

SSM: A Liberty For All

“This Article proposes that same-sex marriage bans channel individuals, particularly bisexuals, into heterosexual relations and relationships, impermissibly burdening the sexual liberty interest protected under Lawrence v. Texas.”
Interesting summary though the article goes on a bit too long.

Too Cute

Academy Award Fodder? Yawn!

Okay, so I turned off both Zero Dark Thirty and Life of Pi, watching about an hour combined, bored in both cases. Still I could determine how the torture scenes were used in one (mixed message) and where he got his name in the other. So, it wasn't a total loss.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Harrell -- Hard Luck Ace

He started Game 2, but he really seems like the "ace" of the Astros, going 11-11 on that AAA team last year and giving up one run in six against the Rangers today, leaving down 1-0 (Astros avoided a perfect game by one out). Astros is prime "no hit" fodder to be sure. How about Kershaw's complete game victory yesterday, his HR starting the scoring in the 8th?

Bad Form

Telling me I "tend" to be "obnoxious and abrasive" and even I should understand something though later (while noting an edit on another point, not saying he did so) toning it down to "can be obnoxious," and refusing to let me defend myself since the person doesn't want to "debate civility." And, then warning me to be civil. Physician, heal thyself.

Yanks/Mets: Same Starting Day

I don't really care that the Yanks and Mets started the same day. They have different fan bases generally speaking and the best a local sports show had to offer were problems of the media (big enough to deal) to report both at once. Still, neither team plays today. Why couldn't one start the season today? Or, later in the day yesterday? A bit weird.

Out of Order

A recent review of Justice O'Connor's newest book on the Supreme Court criticizes it as underwritten pablum. A past collection make me receptive to this conclusion. O'Connor is one of many judicial centrists who have voiced a middle path with a certain lack of depth. We can challenge them on the point while recognizing non-centrists have their own faults. Point is that there are "givens" that only a few completely analyze. Cheers for those who can.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Let's Play Ball!

Emmy Rossum performed the national anthem at the Mets season opener. Who knew she was a singer? She did great as did the NYMs (11-2). The Astros did too, going against Rangers (your '12 choke winners), but that might have been a premature April Fools' joke.


Mayim Bialik recap. She's great.

Supreme Court Watch

Some orders and a per curiam were handed down. Generally less divisive orals this month, but a few look interesting, including to decide (w/o Kagan) if a law "which requires an organization to have a policy explicitly opposing prostitution and sex trafficking in order to receive federal funding to provide HIV and AIDS programs overseas, violates the [1A]."

Madrid 1987

... and old guy and a young thing get locked in a bathroom with but a towel between them and continue okay conversation without any big reveal (other than some mostly female nudity). The 2012 Spanish film held your interest for an hour or so, the actors in what amounts to a stage play doing well enough. Then, it gets a bit boring.