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

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Death Penalty Grinds On

After serving time for killing his wife, much less than he originally was sentenced per a now overturned Texan law [depressingly unsurprising biographic materials included] , William Earl Rayford was sentenced to die for murdering his ex-girlfriend. After over eighteen years, he was executed last night. After the usual SCOTUS orders. Don't see much justice in this, or public safety much furthered by arbitrarily eventually executing this far from "worst of the worst" (a colloquial assumption of whom deserves to be executed that does fit various people on death row) individual. I say this without shedding any tears for him personally.

ETA: Another one, this one with children involved. So, special aggravation. Public safety is really not furthered here -- threat of execution isn't really why one would not kill their young kids. As to retribution, eventually executing a few such heinous murderers doesn't do much for me net. Plus, system as a whole retains all its problems. I again am not shedding tears for this person specifically. Again maybe there is something else wrong buried in the record.

In Between

A fitting film for this "Me Too" era (including the dubious men in their lives, excepting one), concerning three somewhat different Palestinian women looking for love and their place in the world, having some difficulities in the process. Well acted and put together overall though somewhat predictable in certain respects. The final shot is often the promo and reflects the film ending on a depressing note. Saw it at the Pelham Picture House.

ETA: Most conservative roommate comes off as most complex. Also, why did the lesbian so blatantly temp fate with her girlfriend at her parents house, even after being wary of even holding hands in public outside? Did she want to get caught? Also, why is she going to Germany specifically? Does she speak German? Would also like to know a bit more about lawyer & why she seemed so manic (was upset about bf asking her to quit smoking, but hard partying part would have been a fairer request if she wanted to marry).

SOTU: FU Trump and All Your Enablers

Monday, January 29, 2018

The Commuter (Fun But Disappointing)

Another Liam Neeson action flick that this time early on promises to be something more (including raising "would you" ethical questions) but then is over the top silly with a range of standard tropes (down to the perfidy of his former friend). Thus, we have a nice set up of his family dynamic including Elizabeth McGovern as his wife, then a tacked on "they are okay, great job" sighting near the end of the film. The ethical complexity is also totally forgotten about too. The number of fight/action scenes by someone over 60 is a bit absurd too.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Feminist Judgment Series Rewritten Judicial Opinions

I find books that use one incident, including a legal case (there are multiple series covering many of them), to provide a center to discuss a range of issues and the history/aftermath respecting them a helpful approach.  For instance, to take the recent anniversary, a book on Roe v. Wade will not merely provide a case study of the litigants and the history of the litigation, but a thumbnail sketch of history behind abortion law and so forth.

More of this thing, including for a few current cases of particular note to the public, would be helpful. The article can include pictures of the participants, a chart providing context of the history of the issues etc.  The story might also be written after the fact, providing information on what happened since the opinion was handled down. For instance, multiple criminal cases decide federal constitutional law issues, but the ultimate effect for the litigants is unclear. State law might in fact result in ultimate victories, for example, even after a loss in federal court.

A somewhat related area of literature involves providing alternative perspectives on legal cases.  This includes discussion of little known cases, perhaps ones that were decided by lower courts only that had intriguing possibilities.  For instance, a retrospective on Griswold included an article on a forgotten companion case to an earlier ruling, a case that could have highlighted the importance of contraceptives to autonomy in marriage, particularly for women.  I would have tweaked a comment in that article regarding there not being a health concern as compared to Poe v. Ullman where the wife had a medical condition that made pregnancy dangerous. All pregnancies in some fashion have health issues and beyond the obvious effects on the woman, it affects the couple as a whole. 

There are also attempts to write alternative opinions, including collections covering Roe v. Wade and Brown v. Bd.  The subject book, the introduction can be read online, is of this caliber.  After two introductory chapters, the second particularly academic in character, there are twenty-five alternative opinions (mainly majority, but also concurrences and dissents).  The link provides a full list, but after Bradwell (women's right to be a lawyer) and Muller (hours limit law upheld for women), they all involve modern day cases from Griswold on.  Each are introduced by an often tedious discussion and then we get the feminist judgment, the "justice" for some reason given her (in nearly all cases) full name, when practice is to only include the last name ("Justice Ginsburg," not "Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg").

I was overall disappointed with the results though the actual opinions are a mixed bag.  The alternative opinion of Rostker v. Goldberg (military draft) was one of the best while a few seemed a tad redundant (Planned Parenthood v. Casey amounted to an adoption of Justice Blackmun's opinion). One case involving sexual abuse of a student eloquently voiced her experience, including bluntly calling it "rape." Griswold was an unrealistic 21st Century sexual autonomy judgment when a more narrow ruling very well could have been feminist in character as well with an opening for more as events develop.  See, e.g., the article cited. And, though appreciate Harris v. McRae* taking the establishment argument seriously, it too blithely rejected the free exercise one.  Generally, perhaps for space reasons or a desire to promote ideal arguments as compared to more realistic time specific judgments [each opinion only used materials available at the time but this should also include realistic results], the opinions seemed a bit too conclusionary at times too.

One book -- couldn't get into it -- I recently read examined how scientists felt about religion and spirituality.  The book was careful to allow such terms to have an open-ended character, people have different opinions about them, reflecting the reality of the situation.  "Feminism" is somewhat of this character.  At any rate, the idea behind the book is interesting and the result was of some value.  One can imagine other perspectives that would provide interesting analysis regarding various cases, such as different religious or cultural viewpoints.

This book was at best a mixed bag but at least there was so much to pick from that there was a good chance of some interest. 


* The opinion argues that there is no right to have your religious beliefs sponsored by the state.  The introduction argued that this also would open up dangerous avenues as seen by current disputes where discrimination is allowed if motivated by religious belief.

But, there is also a right not to be deprived of general benefits selectively for specific religious beliefs. This to me is what happens when you only fund childbirth and not abortion (except in narrow cases) for what amounts to at least quasi-religious reasons.  This has an express free exercise flavor in part because religious freedom of action doesn't just apply to conservatives.

This also reflects an at time "what about" character that popped up at times. What about Sherbert v. Verner (cited once in passing in another case via a string cite) in which denial of unemployment benefits was problematic when a person was unemployed "for cause" arising from religious belief?  The individualized provision of benefits that does not directly harm third parties (a blanket benefit only for religious reasons rejected) to me logically applies in the health benefit context.

Finally, other than a passing citation in a footnote, Adkins v. Children's Hospital is ignored.  This is a rare case that does have feminist language, even though denial of minimum wage benefits (to women alone) is not a result a lot support. But, one of the opinions here dissents from giving special rights to women regarding hours laws. So, why not at least reference [as a false start at least] an opinion [in 1923!] with language like this:
No distinction can be made between women who work for others and those who do not; nor is there ground for distinction between women and men, for, certainly, if women require a minimum wage to preserve their morals men require it to preserve their honesty.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Roe Turns 45

The women's marches (thank you!) were well timed in part because today is the 45th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, covering something with various aspects, various subjects (privacy, autonomy, history, medicine, religion, sexual equality, First Amendment issues etc.). No wonder it first was of deep interest to me in high school. Many posts on this blog discuss the issues. Finally, a nod to Doe v. Bolton, which deserves more attention for the material covered, including Douglas' concurrence and the state oral argument.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

A Year later ...

A year ago, I watched a free showing of Loving with various people upset at what happened at noon that day (1/20/17 seems on some basic more of "infamous" day than a surprised military attack on a military target and all involved there). Still find Trump being in the White House and so on insane and nauseating. The whole Stormy Daniels thing (among others) does give people a reason to watch this, a Stormy Daniels production. Saw the girlfriend in the beginning in another film, also as a supporting character. Think she handles the dramatics pretty well. Seriously -- to me, a bit of skill helps there. Go Jags! Please win.

ETA: Okay. A bit more on that film. Has four sex scenes, a sizable lag time between first (the best) and second. Third is a toss-in with two extraneous characters. Guy friend (who she has had sex with) of lead's bestie [who is really the center of a sorta "B" plot] has no sex scenes at all. Lead to me is the blandest of the bunch really. Decent amount of plot and overall (lead's parents are over the top) decent acting. Pats win 4Q. Baseball please.

Friday, January 19, 2018

The Didache: A Window on the Earliest Christians

Re-reading this book on an early (maybe before the gospels or around the same time) Christian work that is a guidebook ("teaching") for believers. I discussed it a few times in the past, including here. The developing tradition aspects [such and such occurs but is given a different meaning over time, for example] continue to impress. As usual, best to consider it as one possible view of certain matters, understanding the past never a perfect science. Overall, appreciate the moderate tone. The Didache itself is worthy to be read along with the books of the NT and would have been a suitable addition to the New New Testament.

ETA: In my original discussion, I referenced a mysterious passage involving something prophets are allowed to do if they don't encourage others to do it. Note the various ways the words are translated, affecting how one is led to understand the text. The average person misses this since they don't know Hebrew or Greek. And, even experts split over these things. This is beyond not knowing the exact context. Or, possibility of mistakes writing it down/copying or whatever. Warrants humility when interpreting/formulating doctrine.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Prequel to "All the President's Men"?

Started a bit slow (and fiscal stuff boring though did add to the drama some and personal story), but overall, enjoyable film quite suitable for the times. Rah rah stuff really.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Division Round

This is an ongoing football post. Eagles 15-10 win (and that's 10 points given up on turnovers) was the sort of gutsy win needed with a back-up QB. Falcons had chance to go ahead late but first and goal effort kinda sad. Figure, written during warm ups, Pats won. Jags probably goners too, especially embarrassing Steelers last time. Saints game likely to be best again. Will update (with winners) as needed. [Jags upset -- their offense repeatedly stopping the Steelers from having a major comeback. Vikings had under a minute after a late field goal complete a Saints comeback and managed to actually to get a TD.]

ETA: It took some questionable non-calls and thought somehow the Steelers would manage to come back -- that onside kick call near the end really was dubious -- but some game by the Jags often dubious offense. And, that is with the D giving up a few "come on!" scores. Fear the Jags can't do that vs Pats but reason to hope it will be a game (contra Titans).

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Clemson etc.

Missed my honorary college football team (Clemson) got whomped in the Sugar Bowl, so Alabama had a shot at the championship. The game likely better than AFC division round games though Jags did beat the Steelers last time. Being behind as usual, finally got a smartphone. It's easy to switch numbers (even from a T-Mobile flip phone to a Verizon Android) though don't really need most of the gimmicks. Typing is annoying though there is a way to make the screen bigger. Grandpa is cranky. Remember answering machines?

Sunday, January 07, 2018

2018: A Week In

It's a week in and besides being damn cold at times, what has changed, huh? So disappointed in you 2018! Seriously, who knows what this year will bring. Disappointments and a few surprises, I guess. Winners of today's football games as expected but Jags eked out in a bad effort (Bills QB out late after a wicked hit that for some f-ing reason got no penalty) while Panthers hung on until late to lose (an early missed chip shot helped that). Theme for me recently is that I'm tired of assholes and people doing asshole things. That is all.

Monday, January 01, 2018

Happy New Year

Well, a NY team (Buffalo) did get to the playoffs because the Bengals had a late game winning drive [eliminating Ravens] and the Dolphins (for at least the second time) didn't manage to score after a late onside kick [Bills win]. Giants won but more importantly (after scoring 15 early points, nothing much) Colts did too, so #2 pick. Some new teams in -- like the Jags, but guess the Vikings will be my choice. And, Hack didn't get to play again, even in garbage time. Just enjoyed the bone chilling weather. FU Keith Hernandez, btw.

ETA: Titans upset but KC losing in the first round required plus not that good. Nice story Rams: offense didn't show up and incomplete pass late failed to make last two minutes exciting. Still, after last year's Super Bowl, Falcons deserve at least one year of shame.