Thursday, October 16, 2014

York, Pa. Trip

In York for the semi-annual Train Collector's Association meeting. Nice hotel!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

What Happened With The Supreme Court Non-Decision on Marriage Equality

After reading plenty of analysis, it's becoming clearer to me what happened behind the scenes that led to yesterday's US Supreme Court announcement that it will decline to hear any of the seven appeals of lower circuit court decisions overturning state bans on same sex marriage. There are nine justices on the Supreme Court. It would take just four of the justices to vote in favor of hearing any of these appeals. Make no mistake about it, four of the nine justices oppose marriage equality. One of them, Scalia, actually hates gay people. He thinks we are immoral.

So why didn't the four conservatives vote to take the case? It was purely a political move. For Scalia and the other conservatives there was no good option. If the court voted to hear an appeal, and the full court went against him and decided in favor of marriage equality, as is likely, he loses the entire ball game. On the other hand, if the court did what it did and declined to hear any of the appeals, marriage equality comes to another 11 states. It was a case of the lesser of two evils for Scalia and company. So the four conservatives took the lesser of two evils option. The more reasonable moderate and liberal justices simply see no reason to get involved since they agree with the lower court decisions. Law professor Mike Dorf puts it this way:

...the denial was a kind of deal. The liberals get what they really want: nationwide SSM is inevitable. The conservatives avoid having to write dissents that will make them look like bigots to their grandchildren. The Court as a whole gets a relatively peaceful Term in which hot-button cultural issues are not especially prominent. I'm not suggesting that this "deal" was explicit, but it's relatively easy to imagine how it would take shape without anybody calling it a deal.

AIA Exhibit At Liberty Place

Downtown Day!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Dan On Hitchcock

My latest theory on Hitchcock, the greatest film director. By R. Daniel Evans.

Among probably others there are 2 types of Hitchcock movies. One uses a basic setting in a very intimate way that becomes claustrophobic and creates part of the protagonists' fears and desires. Think of masterpieces like "Rope," " Psycho" and "Rear Window." Even better are the greatest of all Hitchcock films that use setting as part of the character's world, dilemnas and psychological impetus. These films include "The Man Who Knew Too Much" and "Vertigo." Last night I was watching parts of "North by Northwest," another great gem in this category. We, the viewer, go from Roger Thornhill's sophisticated if slightly constained life in Manhattan to another world of mystery in Glen Cove, then on to an erotically charged train (intimacy again) to the inner recesses of psychological fear on the vast Midwest plains (ironic) and Mt. Rushmore. If you take "Vertigo" it's similar: from the wild rush on rooftops that leads to psychological destruction of the protagonist's confidence to the mysterious and erotic world of old, Hispanic San Francisco. Even the very crooked streets of the city reflect the distortions and untruths of the hero's mind, as he falls in love with an imaginary woman, created by a fake assisted by a criminal. Later the changes of scene (the big Redwood trees, the cemetery and the old Mission) reveal further depths or layers, just like an onion peeled to reveal its heart. No doubt some film buff or student has already written a paper about how the settings in his films are major characters in his best works. How many other directors do this with such confidence and skill? At the present I can only think of Orson Welles with "Citizen Kane." There we go from an old, brash New York to political frenzy to a secluded world of zaniness at Xanadu, where both the hero's sexual and private lives have collapsed.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

An Autumn Chore

Aluminum triple track storm windows installed decades ago at the beach house have deteriorated. The past several days I replaced them with new storm windows.