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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in osewalrus' LiveJournal:

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Thursday, August 25th, 2016
6:20 pm
Link Harvest: ABA Proposed Rule Change
The ABA has proposed a change to its ethics rules that is creating a buzz.

The actual language of the proposed rule change, which would make it an ethics violation to: "harrass or discriminate on the basis of race, sex, religion, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, or socio-economic status in matters related to the practice of law" is not unreasonable (although I'm not clear on "socio-economic status"). What is troubling is to read the official comments (which are not themselves law, but are "guidance") and the accompanying essay of justification.

Essentially, it is clear that the majority of the committe which voted out the report, and the President of the ABA, would like to use ethics code to police conduct that cannot be policed in other ways. This includes a very broad definition of "related to the practice of law" to situations ranging from networking opportunities through social events sponsored by bar organizations, law schools or other "law related" events, to making work place harassment (including types not covered by state law) an ethics violation.

However much one may like the idea of purging jerks out of the practice of law, that is not the role of the ethics code -- and the intellectual justifications employed are, to be blunt, rather flimsy. When you are citing as precident for an expansive view of "the practice of law" the Clinton/Lewinsky disciplinary action by the AR Bar Association (which was widely regarded in the legal field as a travesty for its violation of precident and clear political motivation), then you are not standing on particularly firm ground (but I will give you points for irony for using Ken Starr to justify your anti-harassment policy).

In law, and in society generally, process really does matter. I grant there is a bunch of fuzziness about law and process. But the notes and report make it clear that this is not fuzzy. 
Monday, August 22nd, 2016
2:17 pm
Another Tea Leaf In The Egypt/Saudi/Israel relationship.
So the Egyptian foreign Minister defended Israel's security practices to a bunch of Egyptian school children. Televised.

Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and East Africa continue to drift toward a rapproachment with Israel. That will open the door for more explicit ties between Israel and the North African countries with which it has existing quasi-diplomatic relations.

At this point, the most steadfast anti-Israel countries in Africa are South Africa, whose ruling ANC party will not forgive Israel for maintaining relations with Apartheid SA until 1988, and Sudan. Other African nations (which have functioning governments) either have direct relations with Israel or quasi-recognition status.

The reasons why this change is going on are quite interesting and complicated, so of course no one is noticing. But if the trend continues, it may well be that there will be an Israel/Egypt/Saudi/East Africa national block opposed to an Iran/Iraq/Syria/Lebanon block with Jordan and Turkey acting as neutrals. As for the PA?

I expect that at some point in 3-5 years the Arab League, lead by Egypt and SA, will impose on the PA a peace deal similar to what Olmert offered Abbas back in '08 (which was similar to what Barak offered in '99), and will impose a unification on the PA by helping the PA retake Gaza.

Why? Again, somewhat complicated to explain. I may be getting too far ahead of myself. But the alternative is such a nasty, brutal mess in the Middle East that I'm hopeful. 
Friday, August 19th, 2016
10:28 am
Link Harvest: "Why Do Black Activists Care About Palestine?"
Good article from the Atlantic, although much of the money quote is buried in the middle.

"While many Jewish leaders disagree with this framing of history and the current situation on the ground in Israel and Palestine, what seems to matter to them almost as much is being singled out. While the platform names a number of nations, claiming they’ve been victimized by the United States’ colonial-style foreign policy, it condemns only one foreign government: Israel. The platform does not express sympathy with the Kurds in Iraq or the Rohingya in Burma; it does not condemn Qatar’s treatment of migrant workers or Saudi Arabia’s oppression of Shiite Muslims. Perhaps, just like the landlords and grocers and pawnshop brokers of New York, Israel is held to a different standard by black activists—because Jews, they think, should know better. Or perhaps the special focus on Israel traces back to the pan-African movement, or owes a debt to the prominence of pro-Palestinian activism on American campuses. Whatever the origin, the result is the same."

I will add a personal observsation. One of the more annoying things about trying to have nuanced discussions about what is happening in the middle east is that most people interested in it have little interest in even vaguely trying to understand what other people are saying because they are convinced they already know. Anyone from the AIPAC side of the argument or further right wing boils down to a rather simple line of reasoning: "They hate us. They all hate Jews and want to chase us into the sea." Anyone from J St. or further left on the spectrum has an equally simplistic line of reasoning: "Israel are oppressors, and simply oppress the Palestinians because, well, they are oppressors." Arguments between the two sides generally start with charges and counter charges and devolve from there into slogan shouting.

Mind you, such simplistic dichotomies are all too common these days. But it does make life rather frustrating for those of us who believe that good policy comes from recognition of the messiness of reality and trying to actually understand the real motivations of opponents.

I also like the fact that what irritates a number of us (me in particular) is that the progressive left (a) pretty much talks about Israel and Jews in the same way most white people talk about POC, and with the same angry defensiveness most white people show when you call them on it; and, (b) that this extends to the general lack of any contact with the Jewish community except for the safe circle of friends who totally agree with them about Israel. I just adored this bit from the article:

"But it’s impossible to know how to listen to another group’s hurt when you don’t know any of its members; Bonsu [A #BLM Activist] said she does not know a single Jewish person who supports the state of Israel, although, as she pointed out, she is just one person."

Most progressives are as interested in genuine engagement with Jews who disagree on their harsh perspective on Israel as most conservatives are interested in engaging with black people who disagree with them. Listening to Ben Carson and voting in 2012 for Herman Cain in the primary does not magically refute the arguments of African Americans about the Republican Party and its impact on Black America. Likewise, the embrace of Neturei Kartah and Jews who agree with you about how Israeli is a colonial power that perpetrates genocide on Palestinians doesn't really give you insight into Jews that believe that Israel is the historic homeland of the Jews and that the mass return to Israel of Jews from around the world (including the majority of Israeli Jews, who are descended from Jewish Israelis who lived in Israel before the Zionist movement or are descended from Middle Eastern, Indian, or African Jewish communities) is a return to our ancestral home -- even if we oppose Israel's polcies toward the Palestinians, support a two-state solution, and condemn racist Israeli polcies wrt to either Jews of Color or non-Jews.
Wednesday, August 17th, 2016
4:28 pm
State Department Issues Annual Religious Freedom Report.
Every year, the State Department issues an annual report on religious freedom globally. This includes, for those interested, your freedom to be an athiest. A fairly interesting document in a wide variety of ways. It makes no conclusions. Rather, it simply records relevant developments and incidents.

Needless to say, I gravitated toward Israel and the Occupied Territories. These are two separate reports, although the "Occupied Territories" includes East Jerusalem and Gaza. it makes interesting reading.

Israel: http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/irf/religiousfreedom/index.htm?dynamic_load_id=256269&year=2015#wrapper

Occupied: http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/irf/religiousfreedom/index.htm?dynamic_load_id=256271&year=2015#wrapper
Monday, August 15th, 2016
11:57 am
Link Harvest: Yotam Marom on Being Secular Jewish Progressive
And discovering that, yes, being Jewish means coming from a historically oppressed and marginalized people with all the baggage that brings and how to deal with the rapidly emerging ugliness on the left.

I confess, as a religious Jew my reaction has been somewhat different. Indeed, I have in most conversations with my coreligionists played the role of Rabbi Akiva, rejoicing to see a fox doing its business among the Temple ruins.

I look on my people and I see all the things that God has warned shall prompt him to make the nations of the world turn on us. I see rising anti-Semetism, from the right and from the left. Bitter as it is to see, shall I not rejoice to the see the Word of the Lord fulfilled? And if the Lord's promise of punishment is made manifest, is not His promise of delvierance also to be made manifest -- if we prove ourselves worthy?
Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016
4:46 pm
Rant: What Does It Mean To Be "The Party That Believes In Science."
This is becoming a very significant issue for progressives. And not simply in the hard sciences, but the social sciences as well.
Hard science and social science have always been critically important to advancing progressive policies. By contrast, we have pointed to the failure of science and pseudo-science as supporting racist policies, misogyny, or advancing pro-industrial policies. The environmental movement provides many examples where hard science was dismissed time and again until the weight of real scientific evidence became overwhelming. The same with consumer protection for carcinogens. And everyone should remember the value of the "Clark Experiment" as applied social science in Brown v. Board of education. By contrast, social theories justified with little evidence such as "broken windows policing" have caused immeasurable harm until debunked and disproven by rigorous social science research.

Which is why I am becoming very concerned that legitimate suspicion of self-interested research or agency capture is morphing in some cases to objection without substance.
Collapse )

I do not want the Democratic Party to claim the mantle of "belief in science," and then use bad science to advance pro-corporate policies. I want progressives to embrace the mantle of believing in science, and modeling that behavior.
7:11 am
So There's a Clinton Convention Bounce. Does It Matter?
More evidence comes in that, now that both political conventions are over, Clinton is regaining ground she lost to Trump in July.

My issue is that I'm still not confident that the underlying conditions that created the correlations over the last 50+ years of analysis still hold.

As I was saying all thorugh the primary season, there is lots of reason to believe that the underlying factors that have made politics more predictable over the years are fraying. Huge population shifts, dramatic changes in how these populations abosrb news and views, the fact that the system is terribly complex (by which I mean lots of variables that are mutually dependent) all push us into an increasingly unknown country.

So sure, getting a post convention bounce is better than not getting a post-convention bounce. And we will see what happens when we have the debates and have the two candidates side-by-side. The impact of eliminating the voter i.d. rules in the three most restrictive states may also have significant impact (even in TX).

All this is to say that we will actually have an election, and it is the election that will decide who gets to be President, who are the members of Congress, and who are the members of your state legislature. And whatever ballot issues you care about.

What you chose to do with that information is entirely up to you.
Wednesday, July 27th, 2016
8:25 am
Good Period Story: Nathan the Womanizer (lit. "fornicator") and the Faithful Wife
Good period story of how Nathan, a notorious womanizer, is brought to repentance by the refusal of Hannah, a faithful wife of the merchant Moses. Note: use of Rabbi Akiva in his role as peace maker/generally positive influence.

Source: Mesechet Shabbat 56b
Tuesday, July 26th, 2016
10:52 am
Link Harvest: 90% of Sanders Supporters Now Supporting Hillary
This PEW poll shows that, contrary to what one sees on TV, the Democrats have pretty much pulled together.

In fact, that 90% understates things. It is 90% of the 20% who were consistent Sanders supporters from March 2015 until April 2016.

So we have a core of "Never Hillary" who are not going to be persuaded. That's fine. They have their reasons and I am not going to try to persuade them otherwise. But from a productive standpoint, Dems (and anti-Trumps voting for Hillary) would get much more bang for the buck focusing on getting out the vote, keeping the left wing that has come into the fold happy, and avoiding pitched fights with Never Hillarys wherever possible.
7:35 am
Corey Booker's Speech At DNC Last Night Was Awesome
This man understands that we want inspiration!

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016
9:10 pm
Why Is Israel More Popular With African Governments These Days?

One of many interesting developments over the last few weeks with regard to Israel, its relationship with Africa and other developing nations.

While the US and EU left denounce Israel as "colonialists" building an "apartheid state," Israel's standing with East African nations and a number of other developing nations (such as Paraguay) are growing stronger.

Why? Many reasons, but here are a few.

1. Israel has a lot of what the developing world wants and needs. First, it has incredible technology for water efficiency and reclamation. It has advanced agriculture science geared to a water-scarce environment. It has a substantial venture capital community able to provide necessary investment capital for African nations like Kenya, which are turning entrepreneurial now that they are reaching the necessary critical mass for development. Israel has a huge generic drug industry which -- unlike Pharma -- is willing to sell life saving drugs in the developing world at a reasonable cost (at least when compared to US and EU based drug companies).

And none of it comes with the trade strings that make dealing with the US and EU, aka "El Norte," such an economically losing proposition (see below).

2. Israel is a counterweight to "El Norte."
For most of the developing world, the real "neo-Imperialism" flows from trade agreements which privilege large multinational companies based in the EU and US. This is particularly true on the intellectual property front, where US and EU trade deals have vastly expanded the scope of patent and copyright protection to reenforce monopolies by major agriculture and pharmaceutical companies.

By contrast, Israel pretty much just wants trade and international recognition as a normal state. They have no interest in getting other countries to change their internal laws to promote the interests of Big Pharma or Ag.

Additionally, Israel's increasing ostracism by the US and the EU paradoxically boosts its stature with the developing world. When the US and other major imperialist powers like France, Germany and the UK embraced Israel openly, the more suspicious the developing world was of Israel as a mere extension of El Norte. With increasingly vocal elements in El Norte denouncing Israel, Israel now appears much less threatening as a trade partner.

3. Failure of the BRIC countries to emerge as leaders of the developing world.

Y'all remember in the late 00s when the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) were going to displace US hegemony and El Norte generally? Now, not so much. I won't get into the various issues of BRIC and the developing world, but suffice it to say they failed to provide the necessary source of what the developing world wants and needs for its own economic development.

4. Israel is very clearly motivated to fight terrorism and is a much more reliable ally on this front than the US or EU.

We now start to get into some areas that modern progressives may find equally damning to Israel and the developing world, particularly East Africa and the Sunni states of the Middle East. But the US and the EU are increasingly seen as fickle friends with regard to maintaining regional stability. By contrast, Israel is seen as (a) extremely interested for its own safety in opposing extremist groups such as Al Qeda and ISIS, and (b) equally opposed to letting Iran or Turkey gain dominance in the region. Also, Israel is not nearly as hung up about all that "human rights stuff" that makes dealing with the US and EU such a pain in the ass. "Blah blah oppress religious and ethnic minorities, blah blah morality of using drones to kill at a distance, blah blah."

From the perspective of the East African and Middle Eastern regimes, Israel is much less annoying because it doesn't do the whole Jimminy Cricket thing, and Israel (so far) pretty much has zero interest in trying to protect human rights outside its borders (other than Natan Sharansky, and nobody listens to him). Mind you, it's not that Israelis *like* seeing human rights violated by Arab or African states. But it does give Israel a great deal of smugness about itself as compared to other countries in the region. Besides, it's not like pushing for human rights in other countries helps Israel on foreign relations because the Left is pretty much gonna keep calling them colonial oppressor apartheid racist pigs. So, like any rational actor, Israel is all like "Fuck it!" If the progressive left thinks we're worse than Uganda -- which makes being gay or lesbian a death penalty offense, why the Heck should we try to change Uganda? It'll only get dismissed as "pink washing."

So at a time when the US and EU are becoming more annoying over all that human rights stuff, having a potential partner that shares your core concerns (stoping people who want to blow you up), is not bothered by the fact that you are going to use the technology you buy and training you buy to oppress your own people, and doesn't give a crap about that "due process" stuff for killing terrorists with drones looks increasingly attractive.

5. The Developing World is a lot less sympathetic to Palestinians than they used to be -- in part because they actually went through an anti-colonial period and think the PA are being obnoxious, spoiled demand-y brats who should have taken their deal a long time ago.

Countries like Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopa and a bunch of others actually went through historic periods of colonial rule and know what happens when you declare independence and get de-colonialized. it does not look *anything* like what Palestinians are demanding and progressives are supporting.

Most folks in the U.S. and EU either do not pay attention to the Palestinian demands for ethnic cleansing of the Jewish population of "Palestine" or support it because the Jewish population are supposedly imperialist colonials. News flash: none of the East African nations ever got to get rid of all the white colonialists. That was a precondition of independence. Yes, a lot of the white settlers voluntarily went home. But white settlers who had lived in the country for any length of time got to stay if they wanted to stay. That's why Kenya still has white people. Ditto Uganda. Check this general Wikipedia entry on "white Africans."

Nor did any natives of any African decolonialized nation have any kind of "right of return" to go colonize England, or have their own special agency within the UN entirely devoted to their care and feeding, etc.

So if you are Kenyan, and you read the Arab and Palestinian press, and you read the combination of continued cries for Jihad against the Jews, refusal to accept independence that does not involve removal of the Jewish population of "free Palestine" and insisting on special refugee status and perks as refugees for people who are about 3 or 4 generations removed from the original refugee crisis -- you get kind of annoyed. This is especially true when all these guys are demanding you put aside your own self-interest to support them out of "solidarity."

6. Many of these governments are extremely suspicious of establishing precedents that will come back to bite them in the ass.

It's not just resentment against Palestinians for publicly demanding in all their news outlets to refuse to take a deal that any of the African countries would have been happy to take in their decolonization period. It's the fear that if you can establish a precedent under International law that does what the Palestinians and El Norte progressives want, it will come back to bite them in the ass.

It used to be easy to laugh about norms of international law and stuff. Everyone understood that you could pull that shit on Israel at the UN and there was no need to be consistent. But now, with the ICC and all those annoying human rights activists and the EU making pronouncements with actual precedential value, it's not fun any more. If what Israel did in 2014 in Gaza was a "crime against humanity," then the standard security practices in most of these countries are going to be prosecutable.

We saw an example of this when the PA tried to get sanctions against Israel at FIFA, and they got forced into a compromise where FIFA refused to consider their claims in any official way. Why? Because what the Palestinians were claiming was all apartheid treatment equivalent to South Africa, etc. is what most developing countries call "Tuesday." Interference with freedom of movement for security checks? Scheduling issues with checkpoints? General "humiliation" by going through military checkpoints and inspections. Hell, that is routine.

Likewise, of refugee status is heritable forever, that is going to really change who various ethnic minorities in developing nations get treated. Is everyone descended from someone who fled Rwanda in 1994 entitled to come back and claim full Rwandan citizenship? En masse?

All of this taken together creates a rather lovely paradox. The greater the success of BDS and other anti-Israel efforts in the US, EU and "El Norte" generally, the more attractive Israel becomes to the actual developing world. I do not suggest that this is necessarily a good outcome or bad. But it does suggest that mainstream political analysis in the Global North is increasingly out of touch with the emerging reality on the ground.

Needless to say, btw, the Arab Press is not in the least pleased: http://gulfnews.com/opinion/thinkers/netanyahu-s-move-into-africa-is-more-than-a-charm-offensive-1.1865921
(and I love the anti-Semetic picture that goes with the article)
Sunday, July 17th, 2016
4:24 pm
Baton Rouge

I have spent more than 10 years dreading this.

Create the right circumstances and we again discover our rich history of political violence.

Friday, July 15th, 2016
6:44 am
A Spontaneous Shabbos Drash
Experience shapes interpretation. Layning Chukot this week and am struck by the fascinating transitional elements in language. Everyone focuses on a few incidents, but the parsha is very rich and an anomaly in many ways for its shifts in language and narrative perspective. It is almost a miniature of replay of everything from the previous generation (with the exception of the Revelation at Sinai and Yom Suf) and a study in contrasts in behavior.

But most importantly, we see several critical shifts in language and action -- and in God's response. B'nei Yisorel are being made into the singular Yisroel. Moshe gradually retreats as the active leader and Yisroel takes the lead. God likewise moves from the obviously miraculous (summoning the water) to the more derech hateva (the plague of poisonous snakes). Yisroel display a heightened perception in recognizing the snakes -- which could be attributed to nature and be used as further evidence that Moshe and God had led Yisroel out to die -- as punishment from God. It is not only that they recognize and do initial teshuva by asking Moshe to intervene, but the cure itself depends on their personal teshuva and relationship with God rather than simply on Moshe's intercession (albeit they are still training and still need an intermediary).

Similarly, Yisroel move to active and derech ha teva in their dealings with the surrounding nations. We begin with Moshe sending messengers to the King of Edom. But midway through it shifts to Yisroel (using singular) and Edom (also using singular) (reading the layning really brings home the textual shift). Similarly, when the nation is attacked and captives taken, it is Yisroel (not Moshe) that takes initiative, asking God to give the enemies into their hands.

In this, we may also explain two puzzling features. The poem and the reference to the book "The Wars of God." These poems are unusual in that they are not attributed to God or to prophecy. Nor is the Book of the Wars of God given an author or a holy or prophetic status. Rather, we must conclude that these poems and the The Wars of God are products of national authors and poets writing their own songs of praise and their own history. As with other works of man, they do not last. But they are a critically important transition in that they represent a spontaneous move to record their own history and celebrate their victories.

They are mentioned, therefore, not for their own sake, but for what they represent -- a sign of emotional growth. L'mah ha davar domeh? (To what may we compare this?) Every parent has a collection of things made by their child at various stages of life. Though of objectively little worth, these items become precious keepsakes for the parent. And not only for the parent. At times the when the child grows and is distant or disobedient, the parent may look at these keepsakes and remember the young child and recall the love and affection that seems absent today. At other times, when the parent and child have reconciled, the keepsakes have meaning to bond them together. And when the parent is gone, the child may keep the items as beloved keepsakes of the parent. "My parents kept this thing because they loved me."

So too the poems of Chukot and the reference to the Book of the War of God. God most lovingly records this stage of our national development and preserved it forever in the Torah. In times of our disobedience, God remembers the love and difficulty of raising the young nation. "Zacharti lach chessed n'uriach." ("I am reminded of the happiness of our youthful love" Jeremiah 2:1) In our exile, we recall when God was pleased to record our every victory and expression. In the days of the Messiah, we shall dwell again in the house of the Lord and we shall recall jointly with love the time of our youth.

Good shabbos.
Thursday, July 14th, 2016
6:17 am
Interestingly disturbing civil case under Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA)
Don't have time to write about this too much. But figured I'd park it here for possible future reference.

Orin Kerr (respected Cyberlaw Prof) writes a column on the recent 9th Circuit decision in Facebook v. Power Ventures, Inc. (not sure why Kerr refers to it as FB v. Vachani (the individual owner) when convention is to use the first header first for consolidated cases). Basically, Vachani, through his company Power Ventures (collectively, "Power") developed an ap that let users organize their posts and send messages in a different way than the FB default. FB did not like this and sent Power a cease and desist, warning it that in FB's view Power's ap violated federal law. FB also blocked the Power IP address so the ap wouldn't work. Power ignored the letter and switched IP addresses. FB filed a civil suit under, among other things, the CFAA.

The opinion works in the shadow of a previous en banc 9th Cir. decision, which held that violation of a public website's terms of service did not violate the CFAA. Writing for the court Judge Graber found that a cease and desist letter is different from a violation of the acceptable use policy and terms of service, in that it provides specific notice to the individual that the computer owner (meaning the company owning the servers, not the individual user downloading the ap) has revoked permission to access the computers in question.

I'll skip Kerr's analysis (I agree with some of it, but not all) and point out what to me is the systemic problem. It's clear that the author of the opinion believes that the provider of the service (FB) should be able to limit who uses the service and for what purpose. Fair enough. But the author is shoving this outcome into a frame that does not fit. What we really have here is a breach of contract case. I make something available to a customer (and you are a customer, whether or not you are paying with money or your personal information) under certain terms, and reserve the right to deny service to a customer who violates those terms.

That's all good, proper and appropriate. But unlike a physical store, where I can simply have security evict the offending customer, that doesn't work easily for online digital services. Additionally, the right to refuse service is not unconstrained. State law and federal law prohibit the exercise of this refusal for a variety of reasons, ranging from discrimination on the basis of race or sex (including sexual orientation) to various considerations of consumer protection and equity.

These various checks and balances on "meat space" commercial acticvity evolved over time via the common law and legislatures passing statutes. We are seeing a similar struggle here, but at warp speed. It's clear the opinion does not like Power offering a service through an ap that violates the way FB wants to offer its service. One may agree or disagree with this position (I have good arguments for each, seeing as how I'm a lawyer, as well as good arguments for how to distinguish among the various types of online services). But in trying to reach the "right" result, courts need to remember they are constrained by the existing law and the regular cannons of stautory interpretation. Warping the law to reach the "right" result in a particular case often has unfortunate ripple effects in the other direction.

I've been through a couple of cycles of this, which included the fantastic warping of copyright and trademark in the 1990s and 00s to accomplish the same thing, generally at the cost of free speech and innovation. Sometimes the pendulum has swung the other way (it did on domain names and cybersquatting, not so much on TM). But even after the pendulum swings some, it still creates the opportunity for litigious behavior and things like SLAPP suits (stands for "Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation") (a lawsuit likely to lose if taken to trial, but has the effect of taking down speech critical of a person or interest and discourages participation generally. For example, the lawsuit against the NYT for libel in the Supreme Court NYT v. Sullivan case would be an example of a SLAPP suit).

All that said, there is value in letting court's take the first stab at these things rather than trying to legislate too quickly. Getting bad legislation undone is a harder process than getting bad judicial decisions narrowed and reversing the overall bad trend that may emerge at first blush as courts struggle to adapt law to the new set of circumstances. While hard on the guinea pigs either suing or getting sued, it does create a solid record and debate in the legal literature on which Congress can build. OTOH, there is also clearly costs in doing it this way, especially to the guinea pigs.

So yeah, life is messy and complicated.
Wednesday, July 13th, 2016
1:54 pm
Just how thoroughly Ben Gurion and Golda screwed the pooch on Israel
So only now are we seeing Sepharadi and Mizrahi culture, which was the actual dominant Jewish culture in Israel until the Zionist movement, get taught in Israeli schools.

This gets to one of my serious irritants about the early secular Zionists who dominated the formation of the Jewish state and dominated its politics until the 1970s. They were a bunch of racist Europena schmucks who would gladly have styed in Europe if the non-Jews in Europe would have been willing to accept them. The actual idealized Israeli state that Ben Gurion and Golda Meir and other secular Zionists talked about was "Vienna on the Mediterannean." Despite the fact that slightly over 50% of Jews in Israel are of Sepharadi or Mizrahi dissent, they are still subject to racial discrimination and cultural elimination because the values of the Secular Zionists were institutionalized.

And while Rav Kook and the original religious Olim were better about this, the religious leadership has now become thoroughly contaminated with this sort of institutional racism. Mind you, this is also following a dramatic differntiation where various sects and practitioners think themselves superior to their fellow Jews (let alone non-Jews). The word used by these practitioners when they have dealings with others is mkalkilim, meaning "to make dirty." Mkalkilim! Is not God the Mikva of Israel? But even within this generally obnoxious elitism of an elect among the elect, one can find racist overtones.

But even so, the fact that Israel only now has to rediscover its actual Middle Eastern heritage  is an appaling artifact of the racism of too many European secular Zionists. it also has created fertile ground for the whole "colonialism" narrative. It is impossible for Israeli Jews to claim Israel as our ancestral home when blotting out our own native history. Likewise, the fact that the supposedly "white" Jewish population is about as "brown" as the surrounding non-Jewish countries (because that is where the majority are actually from) is obscured by the Israeli cultural prism of normalizing European Jewish ancestry and history.

OK, rant over now.
7:40 am
Achievement unlocked: Saving communications infrastructure for all Americans
Nothing is certain, of course. But even more than the net neutrality decision, the FCC's little marked order to be adopted tomorrow concluding the rulemaking on the "tech transition" will shape our communictions infrastructure for the next 50 or so years. Thanks to 4 years of work by yours truly and a bunch of others, the FCC is adopting rules that make it possible for us to start the next phase of our infrastructure based on the values that gave us 96% penetration of voice, rather than the pure market based approach that has given us 80% penetration of broadband. The process, if carried out sucessfully and embraced by the local communities when the time comes, should ensure that vital services like 911 remain intact, we have a reasonable phase out of legacy technologies, and that EVERYONE -- including those traditionally excluded -- get an upgrade as we upgrade our communications infrastructure. It should also create thousands of good paying union jobs along the way.

I explain it all here.

I am particularly proud of this proceeding for a number of reasons. But most importantly, because it gives us the chance to for once, FOR ONCE, stop the inequality before it starts. 
Wednesday, July 6th, 2016
5:19 am
Old Filk Song: Iowa (Trek Version)
I hauled this out for the one-shots at Conterpoint last week end, and found out on http://ladymondegreen's page that folks had never heard it and http://cflute, http://browngirl and http://katyhh expressed interest in my posting the words. So here it is again for those who are interested.

Title: Iowa (I Just Work In Outer Space) by Harold Feld
Tune: Iowa by Dar Williams

A man can't just reach out and touch the stars
But the nights of Iowa make me wish that I could
My family and friends, I'd hate to leave you
But if the chance came by, I would

Way back where I come from
It seems no one else is bothered
By the urge to know what lies behind
The nearest bend or turn

So they walk in their world of safe people
While at night I walk out on the hillsides and burn

Iowa, ohhhh Iowa, Iowa
Ahhhhh Iowa

How I long to explore strange new worlds
To boldly go where no man has ever gone before
But I fear that the price I have to pay
Is to leave you all forever when I go out to explore

I asked my brother 'bout it
On a hot day
The sun beat down on cornfields
And the dust clouds filled the air

Sam said: "Hearth and home are what you need Jim.
It's family that counts, not whatever lies out there."


Once I had everything, I gave it up.
No beach to walk on and no world that I can ever call my own
I have fed all to my ever hungry heart
I have become a Name that ever through the galaxy will roam

And I'd do it again.

But sometimes in the quite
Of a late watch
I think about my family and the friends I'll never see.

And I wish I was again the boy I was in Iowa
The hillsides, the night skies and me.

Chorus x2
Tuesday, July 5th, 2016
6:22 am
Conterpoint was fun.
Spent the weekend at Conterpoint, this year's rotating North East Filk convention. As usual, it was a very fun time and I will not try to name everyone I saw because I will surely leave people out.

Becky and I missed open filking Friday and pretty much crashed the first 24 hours of the con. Because it has been that kind of week and we both really needed the sleep. Did have a very nice filk circle on Saturday night led by Brenda Sutton. Moved over to the larger circle when the smaller circle started to wind down, but wilted around 2 a.m.

The most intriguing part of the con for me was the proposal from madfilkentist to consolidate the 3 convention committees/organizations and have one annual location with a much larger concom pool. I agree with this proposal. The old reasons for the rotation system are largely historical, and the hope that three different organizations in three locations would grow three strong local filk communities has not really panned out. I think we ought to give continuity a try for awhile and see how that goes.

The ideal geographic location would be in the NYC metro area, which is hideously expensive (as jonbaker pointed out, that's what a population of 8 million people does to the surrounding economy). The largest and most organized club is Massfilc, which also has 501(c)(3) status. The cheapest hotels near metro areas are in the South Jersey and Baltimore areas -- closest to the Conterpoint concom. Southern Jersery is more attractive by reason of central geography, but it has no one on the ground in the region.

So it looks like a potentially good idea, but it will need some discussion. OTOH, the sooner we can settle it, the better. Massfilc needs to get its convention committee together and hotel search under way and everything attendant to announcing the con at Contata in 2017.

For me, the best part of the con was getting to have a good, sit down conversation with Bill and Brenda Sutton. I haven't actually seen them since GaFilk in 2009 (although we have stayed in touch via FB). They recently went to SCA 50th year, and have gone all ga-ga about joining the SCA. So nice to see people more sensible than gorgeousgary :-) Alas, they will not be at Pennsic.

All in all, it was a fun con, very much like a relaxacon with fairly minimal programming. Hopefully we will make it to Contata next year.
6:03 am
Missing the 4th At the Hatch Shell, But It Looked Weird This Year
I admit, I've always been spoiled by the 4th of July with the Boston Pops on the Charles River by the Hatch Shell. I grew up going, and sailing at Community Boating during the day (except when July 4 fell on Friday or Saturday).

When we moved to DC, we tried the National Mall once or twice. Way too hot and the show was not really designed for the audience -- it was designed for the TV cameras doing "A Capital Fourth" on WETA. Among other things, they made no effort to ime the fireworks to the music. It was just "bam!" lots of pretty but random stuff while the performance kept going.

This year, since we were home because of the weather (which happily was not as bad as it could have been) and Aaron out at the movies we decided to watch A Capital Fourth on WETA. It was OK. But they show almost no fire works. And again, there is no effort to synch the fire works with the performance.

Then Becky discovered that the Pops were on CBS. But it looks like they changed things radically to fit with TV. We watched about half an hour from 9:30-10, then gave up.

Unfortunately, the fire works around here are just not very good and are waaaaaay too crowded. Need to find some small town nearby that does a traditional marching band set and modest display. I'm a sucker for a good traditional marching band medly on the 4th.

But it was a pleasant day. Happy post-July 4th.
Friday, July 1st, 2016
7:41 am
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