Nothin' matters and what if it did?
Jul. 23rd, 2012
We watched "Political Animals" last night, I'd be a little more interested in continuing to watch the show except they threw in this really clumsy product placement for skype and Word For Friends at some point in the show. For some reason, product placement really gets on my nerves, not sure if I should embrace it as a necessary evil made necessary by the fact that people don't watch ads or reject it as unacceptable corruption of the artistic process that is TV writing. My sense, I guess, is that product placement turns the show into a de facto infomercial, although "Weeds" seems to have done some product placement for Skymall which I found almost tolerable, so at least be clever w/ the product placement.
11:33 am - NCAA PSU sanctions
I'm no defender or PSU or Joe Paterno, but the "vacating of wins" announced in the NCAA's penalty to PSU over the Sandusky child abuse doesn't make much sense to me. I'm glad they've pulled down Paterno's statue and I wouldn't have minded if they'd simply shut down the program (of course, I wouldn't mind if they'd just shut down all Div. 1 athletics), but unless there's reason to think that the misdeeds contributed to the PSU victories in some meaningful way, it just doesn't make sense to me to somehow try to claim that those wins didn't occur. Does the guy who now has the record for most football wins think that this somehow proves he actually was a better coach than Paterno? he presumably is a better human being, but seems to me that the "number of wins" metric still records what it always seemed to recorder regardless of what we know about Paterno's willingness to cover up child abuse. "Number of wins" is, to my mind, a simple metric, not a reward that the NCAA can somehow grant and retract.
x-posted to blogspot
Jul. 16th, 2012
09:06 pm - alberta trip
We've been up in Canada for two weeks, Alberta, to be more specific, visiting with my wife's family and sight seeing in the mountains. To welcome us back to the sweet land of liberty, ICE had us come in for a "biometrics update" when we crossed the border yesterday and we opened our luggage at home tonight to discover friendly notes from the TSA letting us know that they'd gone through each of our suitcases. Anyway, nice trip, but we flew into and out of Great Falls to save money. I'm not sure we'll do that again. We traveled from Edmonton yesterday, a trip of 8 hours and then spent much of today flying, very exhausting/
Jun. 29th, 2012
12:14 pm - The SCOTUS decision
Yesterday, I went in to work late because I wanted to watch the SCOTUS decision coming in live. What a complete clusterfuck that was. CNN blaring that the mandate was struck down, then I checked Drudge who said the same thing. I went over to Globe and Mail and it was saying that it had been upheld. WTF? I went to Twitter and started seeing the retweets from ScotusBlog confirming the same thing, but CNN was still getting it wrong. Anyway, I thought that was brilliant, I had to go to a Canadian news source to get an accurate report about SCOTUS.
Anyway, as Obama said in his speech, this really goes beyond politics, the health care coverage situation in the US went from abysmally unfair to starting to do what insurance coverage is supposed to do, give people some assurance that if they're sick or disabled their ability to pay for their care and/or future care won't be impeded by their getting treatment. Seems like the simplest thing one should expect in a developed country in the 21st century. The comment at the end of a Slate story sums it up:
"Hilary Matfess, a young policy analyst, was jumping up and down, yelling out details.
'The mandate is constitutional! It was upheld! Roberts went for the swing vote! Yes! Oh my God! The individual mandate survives as a tax!'
Did you work on passing the bill? I asked.
'No!' said Matfess. 'I just have lupus!' "
People trying to put this decision in the context of "loss of liberty" should keep in mind the new found freedom that people like Ms. Matfess now has to live her life and pursue any sort of employment or unemployment she wants without worrying about invalidating her health coverage.
Jun. 26th, 2012
11:08 am - SCOTUS immigration decision
I find it interesting that Tea Partiers can be so pleased with the SCOTUS upholding Arizona immigration law requiring state trooper to investigate immigration status of "suspected" undocumented aliens. After all, isn't the effect of this, essentially, opening the door to laws that will require US citizens to carry documentation on them at all times or risk detainment? This seems like a significant imposition on individual liberty, so why is this imposition on liberty okay but the individual mandate is just beyond the pale? I'm not arguing that police should never be allowed to ask about immigration status, although I do wonder a bit about how to apply the status law check w/o racial or ethnic profiling, but I just see a big tension here on the part of the TP.
Interestingly, I was reading up on this a bit more yesterday. and discovered that all "aliens" in the US for more than 30 days are already required to be fingerprinted and carry an alien registration card. This was news to me. Prior to our getting fingerprinted for our green cards we'd never been fingerprinted or received any such card or been advised by our lawyers to obtain one. We did have an I-94 or some such "receipt" in our passport, but, of course, we didn't carry that around. (and we never gave it up when we left the country although, technically, that's what's supposed to happen, apparently) Also, few green card holders actually carry their green cards with them, despite the law requiring it, because they're a huge pain and expense to replace and one is never asked for it unless reporting to a new job or coming into the country. So, I also wonder whether and how police are being trained to establish legal presence, and steps being taken to make it easy for those legally present to be able to straightforwardly prove it, as it seems like things aren't currently very well set up to handle this.
Jun. 14th, 2012
07:36 am - Censorship and school libraries
Thanks to a friend's FB post, I stumbled on an interesting site chock full of survey data tracked over time and easily sliced and diced according to different demographic factors: link. But here's a survey issue that's often given me a bit of pause: "Books that contain dangerous ideas should be banned from public school libraries". The survey results make it clear that most disagree with this. And the more educated one is, the less likely one is to agree with it. But this alleged position of opposing book banning strikes me as a bit disingenuous. Of course, I don't agree that all books with "dangerous" ideas should be banned from public school libraries, but who does? But surely some books containing dangerous ideas should be banned in public school libraries.
It's a bit unclear whether the statement as posed in the survey is intended as a universal or existential claim, but I think if the former nobody would agree and if the latter everyone should agree. For example, I consider myself a fairly strong proponent of free speech and certainly believe in getting students to consider radical ideas that might shake their world view, but If I were to learn that the library in my kids' elementary school had had The Protocols of the Elders of Zion or anti-gay pamphlets or bomb-making instructions or tomes devoted to explicit sexual descriptions written for an adult audience I'd have objected and argued for their immediate removal. Does anyone think that there should be no content restriction of any sort on public school libraries -- they'd be okay with the library in the school serving kids they care about carrying Mein Kampf or other racist and obscene drivel?
So, it's interesting when people denounce the prudes who want books removed from a school library (or those answering this survey question with a "disagree"). While it's almost always the case that I disagree with the "prudes" about whether certain material is appropriate for school age kids, (the cases that make the news usually involve silliness like banning Harry Potter or some such), this is a disagreement about where to draw the line rather than a question of whether to draw a line at all. Nonetheless in these cases opponents of the would be book-removers typically denigrate their opponents as "book burners" or "pro censorship" as if they themselves would draw the line at nothing at all when it comes to school library contents. I find that a little bit hard to believe. I think those discussions would be more useful if they involved discussions about what sort of material is appropriate for public school students or reasonably funded with taxpayer money rather than appearing to invoke the implausible assumption that no book should ever be banned from a public school library under any circumstance.
Jun. 11th, 2012
12:06 pm - Iron Lady
We watched The Iron Lady this weekend. I thought it was quite good, nice job of using her later dementia to frame the film but most of all I just thought that Meryl Streep was amazing, as usual, as was the makeup work. I also thought the film was impressive insofar as it told the story and made her somewhat sympathetic but also made it pretty clear how and why people would have mutinied against her in 1990. When I think of the Reagan/Thatcher/Mulroney era it seems like a lifetime ago, I was a wee bit surprised to be reminded that she had been PM as late as 1990.
Jun. 7th, 2012
Hey, hats off to the Conservatives, they're bagging Section 13 of the Human Rights Act forbidding hate speech over phone or internet, in a vote that was party line. this is the first time I've been pleased they won a majority. link
Also, this quote is priceless, "Freedom of speech is an American concept, so I don’t give it any value." I'd think it was a caricature of a Canadianism, it's awesome if somebody really said it. FFS, we devalue something just because we think it's an American concept?
x-posted to canpolitik
12:08 pm - Poutine Party?
I got an email from the Embassy this morning advertising a Poutine party at some DC bar on June 29. I clicked the link, it's sort of epicly screwed up as a Canada Day celebration IMO. As I noted in a FB post:
Jun. 4th, 2012
G. went to a wedding in Edmonton last weekend. I had a pleasant weekend with the boys. Last night I was supposed to pick G. up at Dulles airport at 1 am but there was a delay in her flight. It didn't end up arriving until after 2:30, fortunately United had sent me an alert so I didn't go out early.
In any event, it was very strange to go to the airport that time of night. Part of the trip there is through a wooded area and I had to drive very carefully to avoid hitting deer, I saw a number of them. The airport itself was largely deserted, it was odd to see it so quiet, almost eerie. Grace had offered to take a cab home, I was worried there might not be any and I was right, almost no cabs there. I checked the arrival board and her flight was one of only 2 to be arriving between 1 and 5:30.