l33tminion: (Default)
The Russia Thing: Don Junior's "defense" amounted to "they tried to arrange a quid pro quo but I was too dense to have any idea that was what they were doing. It's amazing how quickly the talking points shifted from "obviously nothing like that would have happened" to "it's clearly no big deal that happened". Political bias is what it is, but it's still alarming to see conservatives do a complete 180 on questions like "does morality matter?" I suggest the usual exercise for Republicans of making a sincere effort to imagine how you would feel if Hillary Clinton (Barack Obama? Bill Clinton?) did anything even remotely like this.

The Healthcare Thing: Republicans have been running for seven years on the unpouplarity of Obamacare, and the idea of "repealing Obamacare" remains somewhat popular. But they have not bothered to perform the crucial step of coming up with a plan that's actually more popular than Obamcare. Or, for that matter, even a deeply unpopular plan that they could still somehow ram through with hours of debate, no bipartisan amendments, no hearings, and fifty votes plus Pence. It was amazing to see the Republicans thrash through every major type of repeal. There was the no-repeal repeal, the particular version of which made things worse for the poor and better for the old before making them much, much worse for the old as well. There was the repeal and delay, where Republicans could run on having "repealed Obamacare" but no one gets to see the change until after the midterms. There's the free-lunch repeal, where you repeal just the mandate and hope that the conventional rules of economics just don't apply any more (the CBO predicts they do). The only things that remain untried are the repeal just the name and anything that resembles Trump's promises of "insurance for everybody" that's "much less expensive and much better". This isn't over yet, the Republicans could find some other plan that gets the support of one more senator, or maybe it will actually involve some convoluted plan to lure a Democratic senator from a state with a Republican governor and appointed replacements to some other part of the administration. But maybe they should consider the normal legislative process?

The North Korea Thing: North Korea is a horrible nightmare state, and war with North Korea would be an immense humanitarian catastrophe. But there's plenty of opportunities for delay to make the situation much, much worse. This seems like it would be hard situation to handle for a diplomatic, competent President with a functioning administration including a fully-staffed State Department.

The Actual Literal Nazis: Trump's response to Charlottesville was slow, tepid, and equivocating, at the very least deeply compromised. It's no wonder many white nationalists view it as not-so-covert support. This pattern of right-wing street violence being aided by "both sides" equivocation and lukewarm prosecution is a familiar one.
l33tminion: (Exile)
I wouldn't have expected that one of the news stories this week could be summarized as "don't worry, it's just the President falling asleep in the middle of his midnight Twitter rant".

The bit about Trump pulling out of the Paris Accord is almost as much of a non-story. It's the quintessential Trumpian political move: It reverses a decision made by Obama, it's something Trump can do unilaterally, and it won't have any immediate or concrete effect.

(It also provided Trump with a fascinating opportunity to use "Pittsburgh" as metonymy instead of synecdoche.)

This weekend, there were more murderous terror attacks in London, followed by calls from UK PM Theresa May to censor the internet and President Trump repeating calls for blanket bans on travel from some majority-Muslim countries excluding ones where he has rich friends.
l33tminion: (Wings)
I'm in Shaker Heights for Thanksgiving (Julie, too). We've actually been in Cleveland since Sunday morning, but haven't gotten around to posting because... I don't know why. I feel like this vacation is getting away from me, though it's been really nice seeing the friends and family I've seen.

The train in was running super-late, so we didn't get home until 7AM on Sunday. The weather has been blustery and cold in turns, turning to snow.

My folks are doing well. I got some time to catch up with my siblings. My sister, Melissa, is freelancing and busy with tech week for a show. I got to see her and meet her boyfriend, Elliot, on Thanksgiving day. My brother, Solomon, started a new job at Crop Kitchen a few weeks ago, and our family had dinner at the restaurant on Wednesday (it's good!). Julie, Solomon, and I went to the Natural History Museum. We went out on the town with Markos and Co (including his new girlfriend, who's really interesting and nice and hangs out with a cool crowd). We caught up with Dan and Anne, who are preparing for incoming progeny in T minus some small number. I was also happy to hear from my Cousin Miriam, who called from the other side of the globe with some Thanksgiving well-wishes. Thanksgiving dinner was wonderful.

The national (and local, for Cleveland) news has me all out of sorts. I'll limit my commentary to this (which I've repeated a few times elsewhere): There's more to the systemic social issues surrounding race relations in America than implicit bias lowering barriers to violence in the moments before a tragedy. An 18-year-old getting in a fist-fight with a police officer or an unsupervised 12-year-old pointing a realistic-looking toy gun at strangers in a park in a neighbourhood with a high incidence of armed crime and gang violence, those are also things that happen in context.

I also want to share a few related links to things that have been impinging on my thoughts:My 10-year high school reunion is Saturday. It seems few of my high school friends will be there. I guess it will be interesting to see who else remembers me. I've changed a lot since high school, and I'm thankful for that, to say the least.
l33tminion: (Jon Stewart)
Here's a local news story I neglected to mention here earlier:

A local supermarket renowned for it's big crowds and cheap produce is in turmoil after the former CEO was ousted. The two main investors are cousins and their families, Arthur T. Demoulas (the former CEO) and Arthur S. Demoulas. After long-standing conflicts, the board ejected ATD and named James Gooch (a former president at RadioShack) and Felicia Thornton as co-CEOs. The Arthur S. side seems to be looking to increase shareholder dividends and possibly sell off the business to private equity. Other big supermarket chains in the area have significantly higher prices and worse employee compensation, so it doesn't take a genius to predict the planned new course for the company.

The result: Wildcat strikes and massive employee protests. Enough disruption to the warehouses to cause truckloads of spoilage and empty shelves in the stores (which was a bizarre sight to see there). Associates putting up protest signs in the store and picketing on their off-hours. Organizers fired, threats of mass firings. Counter-threats from pretty much every store manager of mass resignations. Sole demand of "return the old CEO". Many customers boycotting, others turning away due to the disruption in service. The whole massive supermarket chain wrecked in the space of a few weeks.

ATD has offered to buy out the other shareholders, but the board is considering other bids, and the ASD faction would have to accept the offer. I wouldn't be surprised to see him sell out to some big chain anyways. Sack the workers and sell the buildings to some other supermarket chain for a fraction of their previous value. Livelihoods wrecked and a successful business razed because owning half of a $3B enterprise wasn't enough to assuage ASD's greed.

More here, here, and here.
l33tminion: (Doom)
World news has certainly been interesting this week. There's the situation in Ukraine, which on the plus side seems to have a very high ratio of military maneuvers to actual violence for a war (there's still a complete lack of any casualties from military action). Does this end with Russia quasi-annexing Crimea just as with Abkhazia and South Ossetia in 2008? Probably.

There was also a serious aviation disaster today, as Malaysia Airlines flight 370 went missing, presumed crashed. There aren't too many things that could cause a 777 to be instantly destroyed in clear skies, and it seems that at least two passengers made it aboard using stolen passports (if that's a rare occurrence, that's likely to be related, but I don't know if it is, maybe criminals make it on to flights for that journey using reported-stolen passports all the time due to lax or corrupt security). 777s are insanely reliable aircraft, this is by far the worst 777 accident (there have only been two other 777 accidents with three fatalities total, all from a crash last year).

Earlier this week, Newsweek returned to print with a splash by ruining the life (I hope that is hyperbole) of some guy who used to be named Satoshi Nakamoto (who now goes by Dorian). Personally, I think Leah Goodman's desire for a scoop resulted in her shoving this guy into the spotlight on some pretty flimsy evidence. I can't be sure that Dorian Nakamoto isn't Bitcoin's creator, but from the evidence I've seen I think it's most likely he's not. That he denies it says little, and a denial from one of Satoshi Nakamoto's accounts (disused for some years) says even less, but the background doesn't fit well and an analysis of writing under both names makes it seem like the two are different individuals. Of course, it could be an elaborate ruse, but I currently think that unlikely.
l33tminion: (Overwork)
The federal government is back on as of last Thursday. A proposed Senate compromise was approved by large majorities in both houses. In the end, the only thing that surprised me was how many Republican representatives backed the compromise, once the were given the chance to vote (the count was 285-144 in the House, 81-18 in the Senate, all nay votes were Republicans). Hopefully Obama holding his ground this time will discourage the hugely irresponsible tactic of threatening default (probably not on treasury bond payments, but loans are not the only kind of financial obligation that matters, defaulting on bills or wages is just as irresponsible) as part of legislative negotiations. And those that are concerned about the national debt would be wise to avoid tactics that cause plenty of misery without actually saving any money.

In related (?) news, it seems Ohio is taking the medicaid expansion after all. A strange story, since the Republican governor and the Republican-controlled legislature don't see eye-to-eye on this issue. Wonder if more governors will follow. "I've stopped the federal government from paying for your health insurance" might not be so great a point to campaign on.

Bitcoin is over $200 per on increased demand from China. Chinese internet search giant Baidu has started accepting it for payment.

In my life, this week has been quite busy. I made some significant progress catching up on chores, and managed to find time to get this year's flu shot.

At work, my current bug is annoyingly hydra-like. Migration to Google infrastructure has wonderful aspects and annoying bumps.

Oh, I haven't mentioned tabletop gaming here for a while. Xave ran a brief Nobilis game, which was interesting, and now Andrew's running a game of "Dragons in the Vineyard" (Dogs in the Vineyard mechanics, Exalted setting). Very interesting so far. Dogs has a set of rules that make for fascinating storytelling, and places the players in a very different sort of role than many such games.
l33tminion: (Pirate Hat)
A few stories of interest:

The NYC AG has demanded a bunch of user data from Airbnb about those renting out units through the site, presumably as a prelude to some sort of crackdown. Seems like a disaster for Airbnb. They're fighting it as an overly broad request, but also publicly acting as if they assume it's just a crackdown on particularly bad actors, having nothing to do with the fact that vast swaths of their ordinary business is flagrantly illegal (not because it harms anyone, just due to the sort of industry regulation that lightly restrains with one hand and grants a permanent monopoly with the other).

South Dakota has been reeling from a serious snowstorm early and sudden enough to wipe out thousands of cattle. What a crazy disaster.

Federal authorities shut down the anonymous online black market known as Silk Road, arresting its founder for conspiracy to commit money laundering, narcotics trafficking, and conspiracy to commit murder. The story is fascinating from a security and law-enforcement perspective. I wrote about it a bit on ComplexMeme.
l33tminion: (Exile)
I said before I left for camp that I'd discuss current events, but didn't do so on my return. So I'll briefly discuss some of that now.

The Voting Rights Act Case (Shelby v. Holder) - The Supreme Court declared the formula for requiring certain jurisdictions to get federal clearance for changes in their election laws unconstitutional. Fortunately, this leaves room for Congress to reestablish the law on firm Constitutional footing by coming up with a new formula based on recent data. Unfortunately, there is no way the current Congress will do that.

The Prop 8 Case (Hollingsworth v. Perry) - The California gay marriage switch has been flipped back to on again after the Supreme Court denied the appeal on standing, ruling that proponents of a state ballot measure don't get to appeal a challenge to the constitutionality of that measure just because the state government refuses to do so. I wasn't surprised. The opinions are pretty interesting, though. Plus it was a very odd split on the ruling, with Sotomayor joining Kennedy, Thomas, and Alito on the dissent, Scalia joining Roberts, Ginsberg, Breyer, and Kagan on the majority.

The DOMA Case (US v. Winsor) - The Supreme Court struck down the part of DOMA that says the federal government doesn't respect same-sex marriages on equal rights grounds. The other part of DOMA (that allows state governments to not respect other state's same-sex marriages) was not at issue. There were also weird issues of jurisdiction on this case, given that both sides were arguing that the ruling should be upheld. The US government argued that they had standing to appeal the case based on the taxes they'd have to refund to Edith Winsor if DOMA was upheld, even though they didn't want DOMA to be upheld. Jurisprudence is supposed to be based on adversarial cases, the government is arguing in this case that the adversarial presentation of the issues is ensured entirely by amicus briefs. I can see why the Obama administration wouldn't want DOMA to apply to only part of the country, and wouldn't want to wait for all the District Courts to fall in line or for a split ruling to force the Supreme Court to hear the issue, but it's still pretty weird. Scalia's dissent is probably the most interesting part of the opinions here, a passionate and grumpy rant against "judicial activism" (in the most technically precise sense of the phrase):
[...] declaring the compatibility of state or federal laws with the Constitution is not only not the "primary role" of this Court, it is not a separate, free standing role at all. We perform that role incidentally—by accident, as it were—when that is necessary to resolve the dispute before us. Then, and only then, does it become "'the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is.'" That is why, in 1793, we politely declined the Washington Administration's request to "say what the law is" on a particular treaty matter that was not the subject of a concrete legal controversy. 3 Correspondence and Public Papers of John Jay 486–489 (H. Johnston ed. 1893). And that is why, as our opinions have said, some questions of law will never be presented to this Court, because there will never be anyone with standing to bring a lawsuit.

[...]

Windsor's injury was cured by the judgment in her favor. And while, in ordinary circumstances, the United States is injured by a directive to pay a tax refund, this suit is far from ordinary. Whatever injury the United States has suffered will surely not be redressed by the action that it, as a litigant, asks us to take. The final sentence of the Solicitor General's brief on the merits reads: "For the foregoing reasons, the judgment of the court of appeals should be affirmed." Brief for United States (merits) 54 (emphasis added [by Scalia]). That will not cure the Government’s injury, but carve it into stone. One could spend many fruitless afternoons ransacking our library for any other petitioner's brief seeking an affirmance of the judgment against it.
(Would be an interesting exercise for law students to actually attempt this "scavenger hunt". Did Scalia do so for this case?)

Scalia also helpfully writes the argument against the other part of DOMA for the liberal part of the court in the tradition of grumpy-but-perspicacious conservative dissents (e.g. as in Griswald, Lawrence). Scalia is angry in advance that that other part of DOMA will also be overturned in time, and there's nothing he can do about it.

George Zimmerman's Murder Trial - The case is and remains a tragedy. I wouldn't have been happy to see the verdict go differently, given the evidence. I don't want juries convicting based on their personal belief that the defendant is a bad person. In this case, the law said to convict Zimmerman only if it was clear beyond a reasonable doubt that he didn't act in self-defense. But who knows what happened? There were only two witnesses to the start of the altercation, and one of them is dead. Physical evidence and witness testimony were compatible with scenarios where Martin got into a fistfight with Zimmerman under conditions that fall far short of the legal standard for provocation and with scenarios where Zimmerman intentionally and maliciously provoked a fight. I agree with this analysis.

Of course, protections for people who use lethal force in self-defense make it easier to get away with murder. And the whole scenario is steeped in racism, from Zimmerman's determination that Martin was a suspicious character to Martin's reaction to the "creepy-ass cracker" following him. And Martin surely didn't get any judicial due process. One could snarkily suggest that if you're frightened in Florida, you'd better run away or pull a gun and escalate to lethal force immediately. When everyone's frightened and fear excuses everything, half-measures will only get you killed. But that would be taking things in the wrong direction.
l33tminion: (L33t)
What to say about the past few weeks? One of the marathon bombers was killed, the other captured alive after a manhunt that left the city shut down for the better part of a day. And I don't mind that. A bomber on the loose is dangerous indeed, maximizing the chances of catching the guy was worthwhile, even if it was very disruptive.

There's a lot going on in my household lately. I'm busy with wedding planning (though much of the work is done at this point). And figuring out what the housemate situation will be in July (DJ is moving out, though he'll still be in town). Work is busy. Workouts are intense. Things are stressful for a lot of people I know, it seems. Plus everyone's sick.

The weather is beautiful, though.

I've found time to play a few video games which are all pretty good and couldn't be more different from one another:
Dishonored (a steampunk-horror stealth-combat game about assassination, revenge, and the price of power, featuring a bit of a twist on the usual deal-with-the-devil trope)
Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch (a JRPG, Level-5's charming collab with Studio Ghibli)
don't take it personally, babe, it just ain't your story (a VN about fiction, meta-fiction, identity crises, high school literature class, and social networks)

May is looking like it's going to be as crazy as March.

This weekend, I'm going to Florida for Julie's sister's baby shower. Looking forward to that!
l33tminion: (Exile)
I was going to write about various minutiae, but after today's events, I don't see how I could.

How to begin: I'm safe and unharmed, so is Julie, so is everyone else I know.

I want to say "keep calm and carry on", but it's easy for me to say when I didn't suffer personally. Those who were injured, who were first-hand witness to the brutality of the attack, those who lost friends and family, for those people, fear and despair are completely understandable reactions. Yet I still selfishly hope that they, too, will assert that terrorists may take lives, may cause grievous harm, may destroy things that we hold dear, but the only humanity they can destroy is their own.

I take some comfort in the fact that terrorists are incompetent, cowardly, and generally ineffective, while hoping that a free society could continue to be free in the face of the most effective attacks that evil people could theoretically muster. But I still hope this isn't the end of the post-9/11 trend that actually happened and the start of the post-9/11 trend everyone feared (indiscriminate attacks on numerous and undefendable "soft targets").

I hope we will remember that terrorists are the small demons of modern society. They have a hard time causing as much death and destruction as, say, traffic accidents, though they cause it in a way that's much more horrifying and gruesome and depraved. Thwarting and incapacitating terrorists is crucial, but when it comes to measures taken to increase safety, we need to remember that safety is a means to freedom, not an end in itself.

Today, the marathoners accomplished a feat worthy of praise. I say, and I hope, that the terrorists accomplished nothing.
l33tminion: (Rainbow)
Gay-marriage stuff has reached the Supreme Court a bit sooner than I'd thought. Things worth noting from the arguments:

Scalia's question of when bans on gay marriage became unconstitutional. Really wish Olson was willing to bite the bullet and say 1868 (just as bans on interracial marriage became unconstitutional in 1876 but false arguments for why such bans were in fact constitutional didn't finally fall until nearly a century later).

Kennedy's question on whether same-sex marriage bans are gender discrimination. I agree with Somin's argument in that post, they are. The Court has noted that strict scrutiny applies to laws that distinguish based on gender, even if the objective of the law isn't to discriminate against men or women in particular. In this case, the objective of the law is to discriminate against homosexuals, but the distinction it makes is one of gender, not of sexual orientation; in fact, ban proponents seem quite happy to point out that homosexuals are currently (technically) allowed to get married.

It seems likely that the court is going to come up with some sort of hair-splitting ruling (or non-ruling) that leaves the California ban struck down but the state of affairs for the nation in general still ambiguous. Ditto for DOMA. That law has extreme problems on states' rights and full faith and credit grounds, but the present case could well be let stand based on some technicality about standing (since the Obama administration agrees the law is unconstitutional).

Edited to add: Yeah, DOMA is in trouble:
Justice Elena Kagan, whom President Barack Obama appointed to the bench, closely questioned attorney Paul Clement, who was defending the law, about whether DOMA was passed with the specific intent to discriminate against an unpopular minority group. Kagan said anytime a law targets a group of people "that is not everybody's favorite group in the world" it raises a red flag that Congress' judgment was "infected by dislike, by fear, by animus."

Clement refuted that, saying the federal government was forced to take action in 1996 because for the first time, it appeared possible that a state would allow same-sex couples to wed. If a few states allowed same-sex marriage and the others did not, Clement said it would create confusion at the federal level as to how to apply the more than 1,000 laws and statutes that affect married couples.

Kagan interrupted. "Well, is what happened in 1996—and I'm going to quote from the House report here—is that 'Congress decided to reflect and honor a collective moral judgment and to express moral disapproval of homosexuality.' Is that what happened in 1996?"

Kagan's question provoked a few gasps and laughter in the courtroom, but Clement was not caught off guard. "Does the House report say that? Of course, the House report says that. And if that's enough to invalidate the statute, then you should invalidate the statute," Clement said.
And this is the lawyer defending DOMA!
l33tminion: (Microbes)
I've been around, but haven't managed to get the time to write a post since two weeks ago. I've been very stressed out. Not by my last post's news (quite the opposite), lots of things are going well for me personally (Julie, too). I'm looking forward to the holidays.

But work has been super busy. And I've been sick. So has pretty much everyone I know, this year seems to be producing a bumper crop of common cold strains. Plus the news has ranged from discouraging to incredibly depressing.

Going to try to get to climbing some today. My back has recovered from its injury.
l33tminion: (Doom)
Sandy was quite a storm. Though it wasn't so bad in the Boston area, there were still a lot of people without power (not me, though, Somerville and Cambridge were mostly untouched). I worked from home on Monday (making a brief jaunt to the office Sunday night to prepare) and stayed inside through the worst of the wind. The rest of the week has had pretty reasonable weather, except for a brief but torrential downpour Tuesday evening that I had the bad fortune to be caught outside in.

Presidential election stuff is really in the last minutes now, and the Romney campaign is just getting incredibly depressing: From outright lying to Ohio voters about Chrystler and GM outsourcing jobs to China, to staging storm-relief photo-ops, to more details on Romney's tax evasion, to all the weirness with Ohio's electronic voting machines (though David Brin's take on electioneering conspiracies was more upbeat, perhaps). I really hope my friends in Ohio are paying attention.

This bit about the response to the storm and government policy is well worth a read.

This week has been very busy and I'm quite tired. I hope this weekend will be relaxing.
l33tminion: (Criminal)
For those following the story of crooked Jon Corzine or the state of Wall Street in general, read this. Damon Runyon would be proud.
l33tminion: (Doubt)
Went to Albany this past weekend for a memorial service, the ceremony was beautiful, eloquent, joyful, deeply sad. It was good to have been there.

The news this week is already full of awesome achievement, senseless brutality, and major disaster.

In an odd mood, to say the least.

Sore from bouldering yesterday, but scrambled up to v2s and a v1+. Slow progress, but progress.
l33tminion: (Overwork)
Still busy, as evidenced by the lack of posts.

It was a happy weekend of parties (office summer party on Friday, Olin summer party on Saturday, Julie's friend's kid's first birthday on Sunday (plus Film Club Sunday evening)). The weeks have been enjoyable, too.

But it's been a melancholy week at the Grotto. My housemate DJ's mom is no more, the best cancer treatments could only do so much. Death is always too soon, but in this case (as in many cases) it is particularly too soon. By all accounts she led an extraordinary life.

The news from Aurora, while less personal, also casts its shadow on the overall mood.
l33tminion: (Neobama)
Annotated ruling here. The law was upheld (with minor tweaks to the bit about Medicaid, the government can't cut off funds to get states to go along with the Medicaid expansion).

Four of the nine Supreme Court Justices (Ginsberg, Sotomayor, Breyer, and Kagan) think that the government could even force you to buy health insurance and arrest, fine, or jail you if you don't.

But those four plus Chief Justice Roberts think that the government can levy an additional tax on people who don't buy health insurance, so the ACA stands. (More on that here and here.)

The Anti-Injuction Act doesn't prevent the suit because legislation about how "taxes" act has to do with what congress calls a "tax", but judicial review depends on what's a de facto tax. (Including for enumerated powers, by that ruling. SCOTUS could have struck the law and said, "Try passing it with the word 'tax' actually in there," but they didn't.)

It seems that Roberts changed his vote after the initial conference?

The remaining Justices (Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, Alito) disagree with the commerce clause argument (with Thomas writing an additional opinion that he even disagrees with the standard the court is using to decide commerce clause arguments, set in US v. Lopez; he feels that allowing Congress to regulate activity that "substantially affects" interstate commerce is way too broad), and think that the "it's actually a tax" argument is flim-flam. Scalia notes that there's precedent for the court viewing an excessive tax as a de facto penalty, but not for viewing a slight fine as a de facto tax (even if it's collected by the IRS, some other penalties are as well).

(But a law with the same effect that used the word "tax" would be constitutional under Congress's tax power, if the exceptions were stated as exceptions to the "tax" instead of exemptions to the "mandate", and the bill originated in the House of Representatives and followed the rest of Congressional procedure for tax laws? Scalia thinks "maybe" but is furious that question received approximately no consideration at all.)

Overall, I think it's better that the act stands, and I'm fine with the liberal justice's arguments on commerce clause grounds. But Robert's arguments that the "penalty" for the "mandate" is in fact a tax are really flimsy, Scalia demolishes him on those grounds. I think that Roberts was wrong to switch his vote on that ground. If he succumbed to outside political pressure, that's despicable. And come on, if he was really bowing to the realpolitik, shouldn't he have shifted his position on the commerce clause?

ETA: On further consideration, I do recognize that Roberts is taking a rather clever position here. He's holding back from a far more significant striking down of legislation than the courts have done in decades, while still admitting some limit to commerce clause powers, and he's giving the administration a nearly ideal outcome while still implicitly criticizing them for sneaking in a tax increase.
l33tminion: (Rainbow)
Very interesting!

The 9th District Court of Appeals has issued a 2-1 panel ruling affirming the lower-court ruling that overturned CA's Prop 8. The full ruling is quite long, I haven't been able to get into it yet, but here are the key points from the summaries I've read:

1. The stay is still in effect, pending deadlines for filing an appeal, so nothing changes for those seeking to get married in CA. The Prop 8 Proponents will probably ask for a longer stay as they continue the appeal process (if the Circuit Court of Appeals refuses as stay, they could ask for a stay from SCOTUS).

2. The next step in appeals is to ask for the entire set of 9th Circuit Court Judges rule on the case en banc.

3. The ruling seems to be on rational basis instead of strict scrutiny grounds, so doesn't require argument about whether laws regarding sexual orientation require stricter review.

4. It's a narrow ruling, in that it specifically looks at the issue in the context of CA, which has marriage-minus-"marriage" civil unions (both before and after Prop 8). A lot of the arguments that Prop 8 serves a legitimate government interest refer to interests that are not in fact served merely by removing the term "marriage". The ruling concludes: "Proposition 8 serves no purpose and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples." It is an attempt at "separate but equal" which cannot be constitutional.

If SCOTUS ever ends up hearing this case, I'd hope they wouldn't be so restrained in scope and not rule against "separate but equal" in a way that leaves open the question of whether states can simply ditch the "but equal" part on this particular issue (leading to a scramble to repeal long-established compromises on civil partnerships / civil unions). But making a narrow ruling increases the probability that SCOTUS will just decline to review the case, letting it stand for now (until other circuit courts have a chance to rule on it, anyways).
l33tminion: (Climbing)
I'm going to skip any attempt to chronicle the last few weeks in detail. Work's been tough but I'm getting stuff done, there have been a lot of other fun events in my life, I'm keeping busy. I got back to climbing on Monday. And I went to the Olin Career Fair to represent Google on Wednesday, that was pretty cool.

The big item in the news today is that Steve Jobs is no more. Not terribly surprising, but sad. xkcd says it all with a comic that's a perfect balance of mournful sentiment and affectionate ribbing.
l33tminion: (Exercise)
Warm up = 30 sec. jumping jacks, 30 sec. shuffle splits, 30 sec. burpees, 30 sec. mountain climbers. What's new this week is that I'm running through that twice in a row.

My incredibly itchy nose has been fixed by better allergy medicine.

It looks like Hurricane Irene is going to be quite a bad storm.

In mostly unrelated news, I'm going to PiCon this weekend.
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