Canada Gets Freer

I wish the rationale were individual instead of “group” rights, but nonetheless, Canada has done a good thing by starting the process of legalizing gay marriage. Unlike Atrios or Yglesias, though, I won’t turn up my nose because of the company I keep on the issue or a fear that the lack of ideological purity will invalidate the progress.

My preferred solution would be that all marriages become civil unions and marriage be left for churches (and unions could be between any combination of consenting adults–I think tradition would do much more than law to keep polygamists at bay–and no, Ricky Santorum, dogs aren’t considered consenting adults), but if this is what’s politically possible, it’s a good second.

Yes, that’s me complimenting Canada.

Finally, Batman Begun Right

Sometimes, even if you’re just a vengeance-filled guy dressed as a bat, you need a bit of rebirth.

I have really disliked the previous Batman movies–yes, even and especially Mr. Mom’s version. They tried to straddle both the campy and the dark sides of the fence, and got a bit uncomfortable in the batsuit as a result. I thought Danny Devito was painful to watch.

Batman Begins is more what I had in mind–it picks a side and goes with it. Humor is not abandoned, but left mainly to Michael Caine. It’s a much darker rendition.

And yet. And yet. It could have been more.

I would have really enjoyed a more ambiguous treatment of Batman. Sure, he’s for justice–but blurring the line between that and vengeance would have been more interesting. A movie that left the reader wondering if he really should always root for Batman, or at least would feel uncomfortable rooting for him would have been a triumph.

Similarly the bureaucracy is split into Good People and Bad People. The Good People don’t take bribes and are eternally selfless. The Bad People take bribes and are corpulent. How about nuance? How about examining how people who don’t view themselves as bad nonetheless end up frustrating justice through petty careerism or hamstrung by perverse incentives? How about a city government concerned first and foremost with its own survival and somewhat aloof from the issues of the citizens, the criminals, or the “good guys”?

To their credit, they kind of tried with the main villain in the piece, but I won’t give it away (though you probably will see it coming a good distance off). Still, it was a pretty paper-thin attempt.

The acting was OK, the special effects good, but the fight scenes were a little weak (pretty obvious camera work to hide the lack of actual fighting by the principles–or a really bad attempt to show them really doing it).

Overall enjoyable and a vast improvement. But it could have been just a bit more–which is what keeps it less than X-men or Spiderman-level.

We Got Your Eminent Domain Right Here

Looks like a Supreme Court member may pay for his decision, in a near-literal sense. I’ll just link to Hit & Run’s post and what are sure to be funny, funny comments.

Yep, this decision has no potential for unconstitutional abuse.

But hey, after reading this roundup of eminent domain proceedings going forward after the decision, there’s an excellent chance that Souter would have been hit by this without sweet, sweet revenge as motivation. Now somebody go after Kennedy’s and Stevens’s pads.

Microsoft’s Pitching, Anybody Want to Play Catcher?

And here’s the windup.

Or to use the usual metaphor, so begins the Microsoftian Embrace of AJAX, a technology that makes rich cross-platform, cross-browser applications possible–like Google’s Gmail. Pucker your cheeks, because I think nobody at this point doubts that their nifty little toolkit will come with some rather stiff extensions aimed at “filling a hole” and injecting Windows IE-only solutions.

And a thousand clueless noobs will start designing a whole new set of IE-only interfaces because they’re not smart enough to do otherwise.

But it’s not an abuse of a monopoly, oh, no.

In Case You Missed It

Here’s a post immediately following the Raich decision by Fafnir, of Fafblog, demonstrating just how stupid Yglesias was to claim it would “make it harder to regulate giant corporations”.

“Insolent pot!” says Giblets. “Be more vendible!”

“Giblets why are you yellin at that pot plant?” says me.

“Giblets is trying to turn it into commerce,” says Giblets. “But buying and selling it is too much work. He wants it to be commerce NOOOOOWWW!”

“Silly Giblets, everything is commerce!” says me. “Let’s step into this maaaagical schoolbus and we will learn all about Our World Of Commerce!”

The comments, also, are worth reading:

You may be actually sitting on your front stoop basking in the gloriously warm rays of the sun. But is that really any different than exchanging money for goods and services at a tanning salon? No! The sun is a communist that undermines the tanning salon economy, and you, likewise are a communist.

Something to Believe In

I was IMing with Ginger today (technically yesterday) and she was intrigued by a palm reading she’d gotten from someone, and asked me what I thought about it. I replied that I’d once had a reading by a deeply committed (and she should have been) woman who said erroneously that a major illness or injury would happen to me at age 27 (I’m not even sure I got a sinus infection that winter), and that my life line “wasn’t good” and implied that, basically, I’d be dead now.

With the exception of any lingering religiosity or belief that Mannheim Steamroller is anything but Muzak, there is little dead about me.

Ginger was disappointed, and wondered what, if anything, she could believe in–to which I replied,

“Gravity. It works every time.”

That’s right, folks. Science gets it wrong occasionally, but existence is never wrong–and science is the only way you’ll ever get close to understanding it. Think about it. Gravity works even when you’re not looking. If you don’t think you believe in it, compare the reaction of anybody in the world when something heavy is dropped above them. It doesn’t matter your religious belief, sexual orientation, color, gender, or feelings about the tastiness of broccoli (ugh). Everybody who has a functioning nervous system and motor control will attempt to ward it off.

Compare that to any magic incantation, prayer, curse, invocation, charm, or chant. Even people who don’t believe reality exists will show their belief when it looks like gravity is giving them the blunt end of a heavy object.

Yglesias Has Lost His Mind

Matthew Yglesias responds to a couple of pieces by Julian Sanchez and Matt Welch questioning the response of well-known lefties (as opposed to rank and file, who seem much more divided) to Kelo vs. New London.

Key quip from his pooh-poohing:

It speaks well of the intelligence of the libertarian legal community that when they try and establish precedents that will make it much harder to regulate large corporations and wealthy individuals in the public interest that they don’t choose the case of Mega Corp v. Cute Deer or Sick Child v. Giant Drug Company. Instead, they pick cases like Raich and Kelo, where liberal egalitarians may sympathize with plaintiffs ostensibly beseiged by Big Government.

Yes, because preventing local governments from becoming a way for businesses to circumvent the free market at the expense of the less-politically-connected doesn’t “make it much harder to regulate large corporations and wealthy individuals in the public interest”. It has zero, zip, zilch to do with regulation, and only the tiniest sliver to do with the public interest, which was the whole point. Or did he mean Raich, where activity that involved no commerce whatsoever was being regulated under the “Commerce” Clause? How does that favor big business? He doesn’t say, because there is no rational way to back that up. It’s just insanely random and desperate mud-smearing.

Think if the swing vote had been Kennedy but the affirmative votes were the conservatives–is there any doubt in anyone’s mind that Yglesias would be screaming about how this ruling shows that Republicans are firmly in the pockets of Big Business? I find it difficult to find a mainstream, popularly-read lefty who disapproves of the ruling. Yet from the comments on their blogs and from some liberals I’ve talked to, the base is not nearly so unanimous in their approval, despite the boot-licking of their punditerati.

Attention progressive pundits: Coalitions require compromise and finding common ground. If libertarians and “liberals” can’t find common ground on tyranny-of-the-majority issues like these, then there is no common ground and you will have lost another political constituency you might have used to chisel at the Republican base. This is a simple issue where your core principles, if those core principles are in fact greater than simply expanding government power at any cost, are not at stake. Your core constituencies are, in fact, at stake. This means that the Republicans will have pissed off a good portion of their base and you will have failed to pick them up.

Republicans have been on a drive for Big Business and Big Government at the expense of their principles, and it’s fractured the libertarian/conservative coalition and started to splinter the conservatives, as well. But since the liberal pundits have picked up the “libertarians are worse than conservatives” meme of the extreme left, they are blind to opportunities to expand their base because it means agreeing with Bad People. There are a number of libertarians who would be willing to vote for liberals if you agreed on issues of civil liberties (Raich) or corporate welfare (Kelo). However, if you can’t even be seen to get off the partisan “my guys can’t be wrong no matter what” spin-cycle for these issues, then there’s no net advantage for us to vote for you. I know this issue is pretty much making my mind up not to support the Democrats in the next election. Instead I’ll just vote for the Libertarian Party. They may be wacky, but right now they look positively reasonable by comparison.

Enjoy being the minority in a theocracy. You richly deserve it.

It’s Like Text Wrap–For Pictures

Dunno how unique this is or when Mac OS X got this ability, but I was looking at Wyatt’s blog with my RSS reader. It uses the Mac OS X-native WebKit technology to embed Safari’s HTML rendering in the article pane. I’m used to blog entries with images causing me to scroll, but I was wondering what was up with Wyatt’s image–and then I realized…

The picture was being wrapped:


Kinda cool, huh?

Update: So it wasn’t being wrapped, it was actually several images beside each other for some unknown reason. Dammit. That would have been cool.