Thursday, March 29, 2012

Obama and the Supremes

This is a political post.

My conservative FB friend seems excited that his insurance premiums are about to go up and he can go back to be being denied for insurance because of a cold sore in the future, what with the constitutionality of Obamacare being debated in the Supreme Court. In an extra hours session of oral arguments, the best points were be put forth by the brightest minds both sides can muster (well, the best the conservatives could muster, the Administration's guy shanked it) in front of America's council of wise men, er, the eight justices. Yes, there are nine justices, but in my opinion Clarence Thomas doesn't count because because he's already indicated he doesn't listen to oral arguments (he thinks the brief is enough) and because of that idea he doesn't ask questions during these sessions. In like six or seven years. Plus, he always votes conservative, so it's almost a "why bother?" situation.

But this year the conservative court is all for Obama. They can give him the election. All they have to do is decide that the Individual Mandate part of the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional. Or not.

Wait what?

The Supreme Court is facing a public perception problem. After the disastrous Citizen United decision which basically put the election process up for the highest bidder, accelerating this country's pace to a kleptocracy, this third leg of government has a higher profile than ever. Supreme Court arguments don't usually get the kind of coverage we'd normally accord to NFL Playoff game. The Supremes have boxed themselves into a corner. Their last few decisions have communicated the idea that the court is "out of touch" or perhaps too partisan. The prohibition against "pre-existing conditions" and other parts of the law are very popular. But the key to making it all work, the Individual Mandate is not, at least among conservatives. Another ruling against what are perceived as the common interests of the general population - akin to money equals speech, corporations are people - only takes us further down a dark and twisted road.

That the mandate is clearly constitutional is beside the point. The Constitution gives Congress the power to regulate commerce among the states. This is clear. Health care, as our conservative friends like to point out, is nearly one sixth of the economy, so it qualifies as such commerce. And the court is firmly in the corner that if Congress can regulate the commerce, it make laws to make that regulation possible. And when I say "the court" I mean conservative Justice and everyone's favorite constitutional originalist, one Antonin Scalia. He actually said so in a court brief. Well talking about something else, but you can see how this should apply here.

But, all this is moot, because, as I learned in my law school class from Professor Segall, the court really isn't a court. They don't even have to pay attention to ethical behavior.

Strike down the Act, Obama gets re-elected. Uphold the Act, Obama gets re-elected. He's got it both ways. Why?

If the Court strikes down the Act, or weakens it to the point of ineffectiveness by severing the Mandate portion, the argument becomes we need to replace these justices, they're old, out of touch and are obviously ideologically tainted. And the only way to get new justices is keep Obama in office and pray the Justices Thomas and or Scalia wake up one morning and decide they've had enough and move to Fiji to sell timeshares. Or take up professional poker. A loss here will only complete the narrative that has been just under the radar for the past two years: the President is fighting the very well entrenched establishment that has joined forces with the fringe thinkers, and he still needs your help. Because after this and Citizens, a thinking liberal can raise the specter of a reversal of Roe v. Wade...and that's the real third rail of American jurisprudence.

Now, if the Court upholds the Act, Obama's signature legislation becomes he centerpiece his re-election campaign's "It only gets better from here" idealism. The we've only started we can keep going if you give me more time type of thing. That and it looks like oil prices might come down and suddenly, well then the problems his enemies are throwing at him go back to the soul of America, the most specious argument one can give right now.

Damned if you do. Damned if you don't. It's just a thought. From the folks at Lowcountry DTUD & BBQ.

Ain't American politics grand.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Hunger Games (as required by Internet Rule # 47854b)

Ramblings Post #188
There are certain Rules. You always stock hot sauce. The socks stay on. You don't talk about fight club. You don't place a special order then get mad when it takes a while to make. You don't show up late for trial. And it is always the biggest you've ever seen. And if it is a hot topic, your blog must comment on it...if only in passing. So, today, we discuss of all things, a book series I've never even read.

Three books. I guess.

Full Disclosure Warning
: I have not read any of the three books. I have no intention of reading these three books. I don't think I've even read the dust jacket or the back cover of one of these books.

What little I do know might have come from SKIMMING the Wikipedia entry.

That said, what follows is NOT an informed opinion. Heck this isn't even going to be about the movie or the book, but about the idea of the book into movie in general. I'm hoping to skirt the rule by believing that the series at least instigated the conversation. At least that's what I'm going to tell the Internet Cops if it comes to that.

Now, I understand that the trilogy (in the rack next to register at the campus bookstore) was supposed to be Young Adult reading, and maybe that's what soured me. The Young Adult works that I have tried to read, well, the writing in general tends to turn me off. It's usually simplistic, lacking depth and poorly plotted. My understanding is that while this story is wildly imaginative, and apparently very popular - it's also ridiculously derivative of Lord of the Flies, The Running Man, the Most Dangerous Game and as I understand it a Japanese novel and film called Battle Royale.

Let me also be clear that I have no intention of seeing the movie. Aside from the fact that I haven't been to the movies in years, the Book to Movie conundrum should give any fan of the books pause. This conundrum is that a popular book being made into a movie generally has to leave some of the things that the fans of the book really liked out...because of time constraints or a directors mental vision. Or more likely, that Hollywood thinks it can do better. That's why Micheal Keaton was the cast as Batman. Twice. Bad example, I liked those films, but in far too many cases this has generally resulted in the film being an unrecognizable mess that upset the real fans. This was true up until faithful adaptions of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings proved successful proving that fans like good stories, good writing and not just stars.

So which does the Hunger Games film give it's fans? A heavily edited Hollywood version of the book or a faithful vision of the story? Which brings us back to the writing, Young Adult fiction. Which I think is simplistic, lacking depth and poorly plotted. And as I understand from comments at various sites my original thought appears to be right on the money for this series - not so great writing to begin with. So not a good start.

Hopefully this joint will make a few million, some fans will be joyful, a few more actors will get jobs and the world will keep turning. Or maybe it could be the next John Carter?

In any case, I'm not going to see it. Homework.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The End of the Diet

Ramblings Post #187
All things must change. I once told Sporty, in one of my moments of poetic clarity (or I remember reading it somewhere) that we're always changing, even to the degree that right now we are aren't the same person we were when we woke up this morning. Life isn't a series of abrupt changes, although they do happen, they are in reality a shifting over time. Well, I've shifted. And damn if now the gear ain't stuck.

This is the last time I'm going to call it my diet, because it stopped being a diet a while ago and became just how I eat now. I am entirely resentful of the situation, because now although I crave french fries, I hate how they make me feel after I've eaten them. Although a juicy hamburger is what I want, the weight of it in my gut and the fact that I have to go to sleep after eating it makes me angry. Pizza is a sleep aid. All my favorites I can't eat anymore, because I don't like the way I feel after I eat them.

I'm not quite up to "Nothing tastes as good as being thin feels", probably because I'm not thin. I'm thinner than I was, but not thin. But this is getting ridiculous. I really want some baby back ribs - the falling of the bone, licking the sauce off your fingers, have to change your shirt kind of baby back ribs that normally knock you out. But I'm afraid that one meal would put me in a food coma. I want to go to Ray's on the River's Sunday Buffet (that I have no one I really want to go with is beside the point) but I know that means anything else on Sunday is over, not gonna happen, and I got stuff to do.

They tricked me!

Okay, they did kinda say this at the beginning, not a diet really more a lifestyle change yadda yadda yadda, but who was actually listening. And I figured if the damned thing did work, I could just go back to eating and turn it off and on as I pleased. This eat and sleep joint is so not cool.

NOT cool.

But my slim shirts still fit. So there's that.

Maybe I'll just lose some more damn weight.

Barkeep. Something diet. No wait, I'm not crazy. Water.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Some other things I meant to comment on

Ramblings Post #186
Sometimes you get busy. It happens. You don't see it coming, but you turn around and you've got three papers, two outlines and you still have to figure what you're going to do with life all while you realize wings and fries are NOT going to help. Think SALAD. It happens. All you can do is stop, take a deep breath, and keep it moving.

Peyton Manning

I'm not a Peyton Manning fan. But as a football fan I have to admit that even at 80%, even at his advanced age, Peyton Manning is better than 95% of the quarterbacks in the NFL right now. Honestly, when he said he was going to be available, I hoped Jerry would pull out his checkbook and put a star on his helmet for next season. Yes, forget what you heard, I like Romo but Manning is the TRUTH.

That said, I think Tebow needs to stay put. For the record, I'm definitely not a Tebow fan [for reasons involving him being a horrible but incredibly lucky QB, not anything else] but as a soon be professional counselor, my not quite yet professional advice: Take a salary cut, play for free if necessary, but don't let the Broncos ship you out. You have a chance to learn from a master of the game, and he's gonna be there three years at best. Then it will be your time again. And then you will be better.

Or go to Jacksonville where they may rename the stadium after you. Yes, they're that desperate.

Conservative Strategies

My conservative friend posted something the other day on FB, commenting that as we condemn Rush, the conservatives can find just as many failings in Bill Maher. The argument struck me as wrong on its face, and I wondered why. My friend of course added a link to a video that spelled it out, and after watching it I realized that whoever designed conservative tactics is an absolute genius. With the Contraception Kerfuffle, they somehow made the whole thing about religion when it wasn't, and now they're making the Rush argument into statements about women in general, as opposed to the personalized attack actually perpetrated.

Let's be clear here. Did Maher refer to several conservative women by derogatory terms? Yes. Was it right? No. Should he be classified in the same category? Let's look at the situation. Maher verbally attacked/insulted a public figure, someone who voluntarily placed themselves in the public eye, with the occasional slur. Just that one person. Limbaugh verbally attacked a private citizen who simply spoke before her elected officials on an issue that personally concerned her. Are we now not allowed to speak to government for fear of ridicule? The targets aren't even comparable - Palin and Bachman command their own audiences and followers, where as Limbaugh's victim might have had a blog and a twitter account. She had no real way to respond. And he maintained his use of that particular slur not in one instance, but continuous rant for several hours. Over several days. And really, it was not just one person, but an slur that inferred its use to most of the women in the US [all women who used birth control]. That he was factually wrong in a number of assertions made during this claim is a whole different discussion.

While both on the wrong side of the issue, the two are hardly comparable.


Does this mean the "old and dusty" Ipad2's are on sale? Or should I just be satisfied dreaming about the Kindle fire that I can't afford either? I'm just asking.

Trayvon Martin

The more I read about this case, the more I wonder what's really going on in Florida. I don't have all the details, but the this use of the state's Stand Your Ground law, a well intentioned sentiment, is uniquely bad. Apparently under this Florida law, you have no duty to retreat in the face of danger. However, having called the police and being told to retreat, Zimmerman decided to follow the young man. If you approach and engage danger, doesn't this negate the self defense element needed for the Stand Your Ground law?

Or has Florida become a live action version of South Park, where you need only yell "He's coming right at us!" to have the right to blast away? Oh wait, even South Park doesn't allow that any more.

March Madness

For the first time in years, I don't have a bracket to follow. Despite the idea, one I espoused to my brother after my MPRE experience, that only takes five minutes to make one, I didn't. Priorities. That said, I think I would have had a chance this year since I understand that apparently every bracket in the country is busted. Or close to it. But then considering I didn't watch first weekend of games...studying on Thursday and Friday, bewildered on Saturday, back to studying for everything else on Sunday. So there will be no bracket updates this year.

But then I don't really follow college basketball. The teams change way too much. But then I don't really follow pro basketball either now. Too many games for me to keep up with right now.

That's all I can think of for now. I'm sure I missed something. But I got a paper to write. Wait, two papers. Make that....

Barkeep. You have and all night buffet, right?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Been Busy

Ramblings Post #185
And then there are those moments, when things start to get a busy. So all you can do is bite down on your mouthpiece and prepare to either get run over or give back as good as you get.

“I write about adversity, I praise adversity, not to be pessimistic, but rather to strengthen myself. The more familiar that you are with it, the less likely you are to have a breakdown when it occurs. You become more reflective of its purpose, you understand God's reason for it, and are then able to make the best of everything that you are handed. The darkness is only frightening after constant sunshine.”
~ Criss Jami

I just realized, or read somewhere, that work expands to fill to time allotted to it. Which is bad. Been busy.

MPRE test on Saturday. You need to pass this to be even allowed to take the Georgia there's that.

For some reason, although my mind seems to believe we should be coasting, I have a one major project [started research and spoke to prof], three little projects [ one surprise from last week, one started, one not started], and two finals still to go [ one outline pretty good, the other needs work]. Silly me.

The new career start is ramping up, so I'm having to tweak resumes and cover letters as I find suitable positions.

So if I'm not here railing against reality, forgive me. Barkeep. Energy drink.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Contraception Kerfuffle

This is a political post.

First, to correct the esteemed gentleman from Florida, and whatever region would like to claim Mr. Reilly, this isn’t about tax dollars going to pay for contraception. The law in question is a mandate that companies that offer benefits have to include contraception as part of a women’s health care package. There is no mandate that the woman in question actually use it…or that the company has to even offer benefits of any kind, only that those that chose to offer benefits have to make it an option. No tax dollars involved.

Maybe enforcement. But that's a paperwork thing.

But let's play devil's advocate. That really wasn't meant to be the pun I see it is now. But if this whole dust up were about tax dollars, this boils down to the government paying for something one group of Americans doesn’t approve of. Which would make this different from any number of government programs how? There are people who protest the military, but pay taxes to support it. Do they now get to opt out? What would make either this program so special or the people who protest it so special that they should suddenly merit particular attention? Do we going forward have to have a unanimous decision on everything tax dollars pay for?

That 28 states already have this mandate...and that those separately don't amount to an attack on religion seems to have been overlooked. But when the sitting President suggests it suddenly it's the most vile concept. That kind of posturing lends itself to the idea that this really isn't about religion.

When the church operates a business, open to the public, it becomes just that, a business. And while we can exempt a religious organization from a lot a laws, well, how much exemption does the church get? Are they exempt from criminal laws as well, if it infringes on their beliefs? Are these exceptions only applicable to Catholics? Can Protestants get an exception? Wiccans? How about Muslims?

This really isn't about religion, is it?

Monday, March 5, 2012

Spring Broke 2012

Ramblings Post #184
There are certain social constructs that we can’t get away from. Things like birthday parties, the requirement that you hold the door for someone just the right amount of distance behind you, that you don’t automatically punch someone in the mouth for saying something egregiously stupid. Little things. And since I’m in college, well, college of sort, and because a number of college traditions are holdovers from when ours was an agrarian based economy, it was once again Spring Break.

Time off

Well, for the first time since I started, Spring Break actually meant a break. Well, not really.
Unlike my youth, were Spring Break meant a bohemian vacation, $50, the open road to somewhere, sleeping on the floor and hanging out, at my age and my need for a decent mattress to sleep on a trip anywhere would have meant funds I currently cannot spare. So I spent the Break at the house, cleaning, eating badly and working on little projects here there like my second presentation and my resume. The week wasn’t a total workathon however I did manage a few things that represented a break from the average.

Wait, that's not totally true.

Resume Building
I quit my job in the middle of a down economy.

That’s a statement that still gives me pause. I wasn’t laid off or fired; I walked in with a resignation letter and spent a week letting them get ready. But it had to be done. And now for the first time in nearly a decade I have to put together resume. And legal resumes for the most part only want your legal experience. And because I had a mortgage, went part time and my former job wasn’t in the legal area, I really don’t have any. I’ve been into to see the career counselors and had what I’ve put together reviewed a few times, but I’m still a little iffy. And because the translating my non-legal background into something that fills out the blank portion of my resume the creation of my cover letter is taking longer than I thought. Much longer.

Eating Badly

My routine since I’ve lost the weight has been kinda up and down. A few days a week I’m on it, no red meat, lots of fruits and veggies, plenty of water, little sugar or salt. I would just need to work on timing my meals properly and avoid occasionally adding a forbidden ingredient to spice up a meal, but for the most part I was good. Then break came. And I ate three boxes of cereal. And some cake. And some frozen pizza. And some ice cream. And some, well, you get the picture. Now I need to cleanse and I’m not looking forward to the bland while my taste buds get re-adjusted.


So, because I already had it, I started playing that NBA2k12. Like a lot of modern games, it fairly intricately designed program with single game capabilities, a blacktop option with no fouls, a franchise mode, and my personal favorite - single player career. In this mode, since they start you out with low character "rating" that you improve over time, I figured the beatings I was suffering through would eventually be overcome. But then, as I got into the game, I realized that something odd was happening. I haven't watched the NBA other than casually in quite a few years, but I'm fairly certain that even top guards weren't knocking down threes like layups. Well, maybe the top guards, but not the third string guards. In one game, somebody managed to drain six threes in six attempts...and there were still seven minutes to play in the first quarter. Something was a little fishy.

More than a little frustrated, and because I was supposed to be the league leading scorer and my computer generated teammates weren't that bad, I finally had to go to the well to figure out what was going on. Yes, I googled it. And it turns out; the game's default setting means that pretty much any open shot by the opposition will fall. And even some of the well covered ones. But if you change it "simulation", well then the third string guard doesn't suddenly turn into Michael Jordan when he hits the floor.

And suddenly the game is a lot more enjoyable. And because I know I can beat it if I play well, instead of formerly were I had to play perfectly, it means I can stop obsessing about it. And actually do something maybe, like research my presentation.

That's my player. Good ain't he?

My personal projects

I have a number of half-finished personal projects. My movie, a number of novels I’ve started, a number of web projects I’ve tossed around, even more short stories where the elements are not quite lined up. Stuff that's just notes. And spring break would have been a great time to pull one out, dust it off and start anew. That did not happen. See aforementioned frustration with Playstation.

Sunday afternoon

So I'm home, working on my negotiation prep when Spanky insists I raise up and head to Loca Luna. Now, one of my old college running partners has been throwing a Sunday afternoon promotion for forever which I have been promising myself I would drop through. From the pictures he posts, it seems like a fairly nice event. So, because my mind was starting to get crazy with various negotiation options, and was tired of growing envious of my classmates ski trip pics on FB, I threw on some clothes and headed north.

Loca is one of those spots that probably should be on Gordon Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares, only they still have a good crowd so it may be a while before they get some help. Maybe it was the table I was at, which I noticed was at the focal point of all four of the room's main speakers, or the fact that the music was so loud that even conversations where you leaned into a person still had to be shouted that turned me off to the spot. Or maybe it was that Loca featured a live band that acted they were in concert instead of playing for a restaurant crowd. Or maybe it was the less than likable food (tapas) on a paper menu that looked like they didn't want to go to the trouble of trying. It had been looking kinda good, until I actually got there.

Spanky and Serve had apparently been sipping for some time before I got there, because despite all the detractors that were blatantly obvious to me, and later on I found out were obvious to them as well, they appeared to be having a good time. But then I found out later they were communicating via text instead of talking, which is really annoying. So the afternoon was spent watching them stare at the crowd and text each other, wondering why I wasn’t at home, sneaking in some more NBA2K12 before I had to put the Playstation back in the closet.

So, that’s my Spring Break

Barkeep, I’ll need a tall glass of water and nice house salad, no cheese. I’ve been so bad.