SCOTUS – Formidable Lineup of cases

supreme court 2017

The highest court in the US is often the final word on highly contentious laws, disputes between states and the federal government, and final appeals to stay executions.

It hears fewer than 100 cases a year and the key announcements are made in June. Each of the nine justices serve a lifetime appointment after being nominated by the president and approved by the Senate.

Cases are usually brought to the court after they are appealed from a series of lower courts, although in time-sensitive cases, lawyers can petition for a hearing. The court’s opinions can also create precedents, directing other judges to follow their interpretation in similar cases.

In recent years, the court has expanded gay marriage to all 50 states, halted President Obama’s immigration orders and delayed a US plan to cut carbon emissions while appeals went forward.

Occasionally, the Supreme Court will revisit an issue in a new case and change their own precedent, a move anti-abortion activists hope will come to pass with a new conservative justice.

The case that interest me the most is Carpenter v United States, which is another application of 18th-century rights to the 21st comes in Carpenter v United States, a case asking whether the right to privacy extends to information beamed out from mobile phones. In 2011, when Timothy Carpenter was arrested for organizing a series of armed robberies, the FBI built its case on four months of mobile-phone data showing where he was when the crimes took place. This information was retrieved under a law permitting phone companies to divulge information to corroborate “specific and articulate facts” relevant to a criminal investigation. By placing Mr Carpenter within a stone’s throw of the robberies based on the antennae through which he placed and received calls, the FBI was able to map his movements and convict him without ever securing a warrant from a judge. In Carpenter, the justices will ask whether this tactic violated the Fourth Amendment’s ban on “unreasonable searches and seizures”.

source

here and here

 

Gloria E. Anzaldúa, mestizaje, and caste system

I was reading about the google doodle today – Gloria E. Anzaldúa, and then reached out to my Hispanic colleague to explain certain terms

and a term that caught my attention was “mestizaje”( meaning a state of being beyond binary (“either-or”) conception, into academic writing and discussion. In her theoretical works, Anzaldúa called for a “new mestiza,” which she described as an individual aware of her conflicting and meshing identities and uses these “new angles of vision” to challenge binary thinking in the Western world.)

Here i feel her thinking is similar to mine – i always felt slightly amused by the binary thinking of the western mind, be it Caucasian feminists lesbian lawyers that i have known here in DC or white evangelical protestants, or black reformed Calvinists (they all are, in my opinion, struck in the time- loop (using star trek parlance) of Judaeo-Christian ethics – there can be no resolution because THE ONLY possibilities are A or A’ )

I often felt the arguments I encounter among them as simplistic and binary.

Further investigation of Mestizaje yielded this …

Created by Hispanic elites, the sistema de castas or the sociedad de castas, varied largely due to their birth, color, race and origin of ethnic types. The system of castas was more than socio-racial classification. It had an effect on every aspect of life, including economics and taxation. Both the Spanish colonial state and the Church required more tax and tribute payments from those of lower socio-racial categories…

Private eye Vincent Parco

Truth – they say, and I of course am starting to believe in is stranger than fiction!

This is so juicy and good that I love it !

Like many private investigators, Vincent Parco has, for nearly 30 years, made his living in the darker corners of New York.

In 1991, he admitted on the witness stand to having sold a pistol and a silencer to a woman who used them in a love-triangle murder that came to be known in the city’s tabloid media as the “Fatal Attraction” case. Decades later, he found himself embroiled in the salacious prosecution of Anna Gristina, the so-called Soccer Mom Madam, whose little black book inspired terror among the rich and famous, both before, and after, she pleaded guilty, to running a brothel on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

On Tuesday, however, Mr. Parco, 67, made the leap from a simple sleuth and connoisseur of crime to a criminal defendant. In a proceeding that rivaled (and perhaps outdid) his prior exploits in the underworld, he was charged with trying to derail a sexual abuse case in a Hasidic community in Brooklyn by secretly recording a witness having sex with prostitutes he had hired then threatening to expose the man unless he stopped cooperating with prosecutors.

NYT – page A21; Wednesday, September 20th 2017

A tale of 2 Americas, by the way of Turkey, Greece

TURKEY GREEK

I love America. I love the ‘Just do it’ attitude of many of my friends and well wishers. I love the Shenandoah Mountains, Country Roads, and Rafting across the Yampa River for a week with Sierra Club, I love Disney World, Hardy Boys, Universal Studios – islands of adventure, john Muir, the conservation efforts and the capitalism exploits.

One thing that I slowly got used to is what this article so lucidly states, the ignorance to – “The second is the America of coups and occupations, military dictators and CIA plots, economic meddling and contempt for foreign cultures.”

I have had a conversation with a state department diplomat who actually got offended that my Dad mentioned it to her. The reality of the second America.

What’s more – Is the seemingly lackadaisical attitude towards – “Truth”? It used to bother me that people can say anything without actually being held accountable for. They would state something as a matter of fact as if they just spoke the Bhagavad Gita.

Suzy Hansen writes “This may be particularly true of those Americans who came of age in the 1990s as the United States triumphed over the Soviets, its status as a benevolent superpower somehow confirmed. The ugliness of the Cold War was largely forgotten. I remember the Marshall Plan and the Truman Doctrine portrayed in my ’90s-era education as great international acts of charity, of which Turkey had been among the lucky recipients. But when I moved to Istanbul, Turks taught me about the more complicated aspects of the United States’ long relationship with their country: that thousands of U.S. soldiers had occupied Turkish soil in the 1950s, and how, throughout the darkest days of the Cold War, most Turks believed that the United States was manipulating their military and their citizens. I had come expecting Turks to be foreign to me. It turned out we were profoundly, tormentedly, related.”

Well, there is no word that was just created by Suzy – tormentedly. Exactly, that proves my point I guess.

What about Greece?

“It wasn’t just Turkey. After the financial crisis in Greece, I interviewed many intellectuals and other citizens there who offered historical explanations during which they referred — casually, assuming I knew about it — to an American intervention. I’d never heard of it. But it was a pivotal moment in contemporary Greek history: Thousands of Americans arrived in Athens as part of the Truman Doctrine, propping up an authoritarian regime against Greek communists and leftists and demanding that Greeks imitate the American way of life. From the late 1940s to the 1970s, American military personnel, diplomats and spies provided ample support to the Greek government as it tortured and persecuted its citizens. This history, our history, was part of them. I haven’t met any Americans for whom it was part of their identity — most never knew about it. It wasn’t at all part of mine. “

Hurricanes and Physics

IRMA AND JOSE

Why do hurricanes or typhoons move counter clock wise in the Northern Hemisphere, and Clockwise direction in the southern hemisphere?

the above is the current state of the two hurricanes as of 1:20 pm EST.

When i was young i never ever understood pseudo forces. It did not make sense to me at all! why would they make up ‘fictitious forces’!

Well, now I know why !! Because the rotation of the earth!

earth rotates from west to east (the sun first rises in the east!, right?) so if you imagine looking down from the north pole: We see it first rises in New Delhi and then in Washington DC. DC has to “catch up” it has to go to New Delhi. So west to east!

Because of this rotation – any wind rising up near the equator (the air is warmer and it is lighter- so it rises up) is “pulled” in the direction of rotation . that is makes like pulled pork! Pulled wind is like pulled pork. Tasty and dangerous!

pulled wind

If Earth did not rotate as it does, we would have high-speed winds of almost 480 km/h (about 300 mph) gusting from the poles to the Equator and back!!

this force is called the Coriolis Force

 

Brief History of Athens and its application to modern Washington DC Modern Jackass, Fundamentalism, Sectarianism

Plato_Silanion_Musei_Capitolini_MC1377

Richard Sennett wrote the mind threatens continually to subvert the materials with which it works. What I mean by the academic anti-intellectualism evinced in the review of my book is a parade of authorities, a refusal to confront intellectual difficulty, a fear of ambiguity, all of which attempt to ward off that power of mind.

When I had come back from Paris to Washington DC I had felt that I was “returning to the backwaters” of Washington DC. To give an analogy to my friends – I compared Paris to DC vis-à-vis New York city to Huma, Louisiana. Someone got offended! Actually indignant!

Richard Hofstadter tenth book, earned him the Pulitzer Prize in Non-Fiction in 1964.  He calls it a personal book and a critical enquiry.

I have argued here, that Pragmatism is the American pastime; it is the virtue. Hofstadter contends that “mystique of practicality” as spiritually crippling”. The folksy maxim of Calvin Coolidge: “the business of America is business.”  American disinterest to the past–our consistently anti-historical, pro-utilitarian disposition– the secularization of the American mind by way of the “curious cult of religious practicality”.

Reductio ad absurdum, is a form of argument which attempts either to disprove a statement by showing it inevitably leads to a ridiculous, absurd, or impractical conclusion, or to prove one by showing that if it were not true, the result would be absurd or impossible.

And I have encountered more than my share here in Washington DC.

There is a fascinating conversation here – “this American life

Modern Jackass. Of course, there is no Modern Jackass. But ever since I heard that story, I found myself referring to Modern Jackass all the time. It’s incredibly useful, and it could be useful to you, to back out of all kinds of awkward conversational situations.

Nancy Updike

The thing about Modern Jackass is, it’s usually not something about which you know nothing. It’s something about which you know a little bit, enough to sort of get yourself into trouble.

Ira Glass

Like you read an article.

Nancy Updike

Exactly, or something on the web.

Ira Glass

Just last weekend, I was out for breakfast with some friends. And we got into this conversation about these people who do caloric restriction. Have you heard about this? Apparently, there are these people who believe that if you eat a lot less, it can make you live longer. As so we’re talking about this, and somebody’s explaining the cells of your body go through all this wear and tear when you actually digest food. And before you know it, one of my friends– somebody who knows nothing about biology, actually– starts talking about mitochondria. Mitochondria. And maybe he had a little bit of knowledge about this. But it was totally Modern JackassModernJackass, the medical edition, which Nancy says that she finds herself in quite a bit.

Nancy Updike

My mother sends me information about partially hydrogenated oils. And then when somebody says, wait, why is partially hydrogenated oil bad again? I say, well, it’s an unstable compound, which it is. It’s oil to which hydrogen has been added in order to make it solid at room temperature. That I know. That’s a fact.

Ira Glass

And why would that be bad, Nancy?

Nancy Updike

Well, that’s where we get into Modern Jackass territory. It’s unstable in your body. There’s an extra hydrogen atom that can interact with things.

Ira Glass

Oxygen and form water.

Nancy Updike

Exactly.

Eric Weiner wrote

The ancient Athenians enjoyed a deeply intimate relationship with their city. Civic life was not optional, and the Athenians had a word for those who refused to participate in public affairs: idiotes. There was no such thing as an aloof, apathetic Athenian. “The man who took no interest in the affairs of state was not a man who minded his own business,” wrote the ancient historian Thucydides, “but a man who had no business being in Athens at all.” When it came to public projects, the Athenians spent lavishly. (And, if they could help it, with other people’s money—they paid for the construction of the Parthenon, among other things, with funds from the Delian League, an alliance of several Greek city-states formed to fend off the Persians.)

In retrospect, many aspects of Athenian life—including the layout and character of the city itself—were conducive to creative thinking. The ancient Greeks did everything outdoors. A house was less a home than a dormitory, a place where most people spent fewer than 30 waking minutes each day. The rest of the time was spent in the marketplace, or working out at the gymnasium or the wrestling grounds, or perhaps strolling along the rolling hills that surround the city. Unlike today, the Greeks didn’t differentiate between physical and mental activity; Plato’s famous Academy, the progenitor of the modern university, was as much an athletic facility as an intellectual one. The Greeks viewed body and mind as two inseparable parts of a whole: A fit mind not attached to a fit body rendered both incomplete.

The Athenians also hastened their demise by succumbing to what one historian calls “a creeping vanity.” Eventually, they reversed their open-door policy and shunned foreigners. Houses grew larger and more ostentatious. Streets grew wider, the city less intimate. People developed gourmet taste. The gap between rich and poor, citizen and noncitizen, grew wider, while the sophists, hawking their verbal acrobatics, grew more influential. Academics became less about pursuing truth and more about parsing it. The once vibrant urban life degenerated.