Saturday, January 24, 2009

2233 State's Rights? And other bits.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Vienna Convention on Consular Relations provides that arrested aliens have access to diplomats from their home country. The U.S. ratified it in 1969, including an annex to the treaty under which the U.S. agreed to let the world court resolve disputes over interpretation.

The U.S. insists that foreign countries afford Vienna Convention privileges to Americans in trouble overseas, under the provisions of this treaty. However, the U.S. does NOT ITSELF honor the treaty, because, believe it or not, states are under no obligation to honor the treaty. That's really stupid.

The issue heated up recently when the International Court of Justice unanimously found that the U.S. had violated the Hague tribunal's July order to stay the execution of José Medellín, a Mexican convicted in Texas of murder. The court had called for additional judicial hearings to be held to weigh whether he was entitled to a new trial or other relief because local police failed to provide him consular access after arrest, as required by the treaty.

Texas simply ignored the order.

The federal administration says they can't force individual states to obey. So foreign nationals who run afoul of state laws may not be (in most states are not) allowed consular access. That's kind of like if you were arrested and jailed in Yemen for a crime you did not commit, but you were not permitted to contact the U.S. Embassy, because you'd been arrested and charged by local police, not the national police.
The controversy "makes the U.S. look like it's putting itself above the law," said Diana Shelton, an international law professor at George Washington University. "And it's also putting U.S. nationals at risk" when they travel abroad, she said, because foreign governments can cite U.S. noncompliance should they deny consular access to Americans.

Spokesmen for Mr. Obama couldn't be reached for comment.

Frustrated by their nationals being jailed without consular access, foreign governments have increasingly turned to The Hague to pressure Washington to comply. After Paraguay and Germany won world-court cases against the U.S., Mexico in 2003 asked the Hague tribunal to find the U.S. in breach and vacate the death sentences of dozens of Mexican nationals in several states.

In a 2004 opinion, the court stopped short of Mexico's request but directed the U.S. to conduct additional judicial hearings to see whether the inmates were entitled to new trials or other relief.

The decision sparked a battle early in President George W. Bush's second term between hard-liners who considered international law largely irrelevant [!!!! emphasis mine] and moderates concerned that perceptions that the Bush administration was ignoring Washington's international obligations would undercut U.S. diplomacy.
Full Wall Street Journal story here.

Ok, I understand most of it. What I don't understand is that bit about not being able to make states comply. It was my understanding that federal law supersedes state law, and that should include treaties, shouldn't it? I mean, could Michigan declare war on Canada? Well, ok, but you know what I mean.
A) It shouldn't require a law from Congress to force states to recognize treaties, and
B) if it does, then why isn't there such a law already?


Repeating a question I still don't have an answer to. I should ask Sheldon, from "The Big Bang Theory". It's my understanding that it's our yellow sun that causes Superman to have super strength and super powers.

It's my understanding that you build muscles by working them hard.

Now, if Superman has super strength, so to him nothing is heavy, how did he manage to build big muscles?

Just something I don't understand.


Another old question. I've never understood the part in the Irish blessing, "...may the road rise up to meet you...". It's supposed to be good, but I don't understand why. Doesn't it mean that there should be no downhills? Aren't downhills the easy parts? It still leaves uphills, maybe even steeper ones if the road keeps rising. If you fall flat on your face, the road rose up to meet you. That's not good.

I don't understand.


I forgot something important. As strong as silk fiber is when it's new, it weakens with age.

I've purchased many very beautiful especially soft old silk saris to use for sewing projects. Yesterday I was holding one up to myself to judge how sheer it was, and I accidentally stepped on the edge. When I pulled it up a little higher, it tore. The scary part - I was barefoot, and didn't even feel the pull. It's really fragile. Like cobweb.


Something I've just discovered: I have twice now hidden this journal by changing the URL. It's pretty easy with blogger. But they don't warn you that when you do that, it breaks all the backward links in posts pointing to previous posts.

Friday, January 23, 2009

2232 Sportsmanship

Friday, January 23, 2009

A friend is all het up over the Covenant School/Dallas Academy high school girl's basketball game. Wants the Covenant coach fired. Briefly, the Covanent School stomped the hell out of Dallas Academy, beating them 100-0. Dallas has a total of 20 female students (120 male), and only 8 on the girls' team. They haven't won a game in four years. At halftime, the score was 59-0. The Covenant coach kept the starting players, and they continued to push throughout the second half. Their supporters were also rather loud.

Ok, it wasn't very sportsmanlike. In fact, it was pretty much nasty and unnecessary. The Covenant school authorities and the coach have apologized, and have voluntarily forfeited the game.

I think I know what happened. In girls' high school basketball, 100 is rare, and I think they just saw their chance to "steal the baby's lollipop" so to speak. Temptation is a bitch.


This all reminded me of the first, last, and only sports event I attended at my college. The college won the state wrestling championship year after year. Nationally famous for wrestling. It was THE sport at that school.

No other college in the state had come anywhere near them - until this particular year. This evening was the final evening of the state championships, and it was being held at our school, and the other team was very very good. It wasn't going to be the usual walk in the park.

So everybody went to the gym that afternoon. I didn't want to go but got talked into it. Things went back and forth, tied, until it came down to the last match. The winner of that one would win the championship for their school, they could take it away from us for the first time in more than a decade. (Or something like that. Anyway, it was a very big deal.)

The guys faced off, and grappled a bit, and then the kid from the other school landed on the mat awkwardly, and we all actually heard his forearm snap.

A timeout was called, the kid went to the side with his coach, there was a lot of fuss and discussion, some kind of pneumatic splint was put on his arm (like a balloon, somebody said it was chilled), and then the kid went back out to the mat!

I couldn't believe it! He was going to continue!

So then they started again, and the wrestler from our school went straight for the kid's arm. And that's the way it went. Our guy grabbed the arm and twisted, pulled, bent, and pounded it. He wasn't even wrestling - he was just attacking the arm. The referee didn't stop it. It went on and on, and the kid screamed with every twist. "Our side" of the stands was chanting "Work on the arm! Work on the arm!" It was the most disgusting thing I'd ever seen in my life.

I was also standing and screaming, but I was screaming "Leave his arm alone! Stop! Stop it! Not the arm! Not the arm! If you can't beat a one-armed man fairly you don't deserve to win!"

When it went on and on I got hysterical, and friends dragged me out - with me still screaming the whole way.

For a long while afterward, there were people who wouldn't talk to me in the lounge. I was a traitor. Didn't I understand how important it was? They seemed to feel that the important thing was to win - that HOW didn't matter. There were very few people who agreed with me, and that troubled me for a very long time.

I blame first the kid's coach. The coach should not have left it up to the boy to make the decision, because the amount of pressure on the kid was enormous. The coach should have pulled the kid and taken the forfeit. He should not have allowed the torture to continue.

I blame our wrestler and our coach second. There's no reason that our wrestler could not have won without torturing the arm, because if he couldn't beat a one-armed man he didn't deserve to win anyway.

I blame the referee (or whatever he's called). He had the power to stop it, and didn't.

To this day, I wonder about the kid, and whether his arm healed ok. Or whether his arm has been messed up ever since. And I don't know or remember who won. It never was important to me.


The worrisome registered letter waiting at the PO, that I worried about yesterday, turned out to be from an acquaintance in Australia. I don't know why it was registered.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

2231 I need to borrow a life

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I've got to start up some kind of life again. I do a lot of just sitting around waiting for something to happen.

Today I:
  • washed my hair
  • wrote an email to my sister
  • went to the grocery store for dry cat food, litter, and toilet paper
  • cleaned the litter boxes
  • read some internet stuff, nothing necessary, mind you
and, uh, that's pretty much it.

On the list, but not done:
  • read new dental plan booklet
  • search desk & floor piles for tax stuff
  • search desk & den files for name and address of the estate lawyer
  • pay bills
  • write to everyone I've owed notes to for the past six months
  • make dentist appointment
  • make doctor appointment
  • make vet appointment
This is not good. Sometimes days go by that I don't speak to any live person. Only 18 months ago I was pretty active. I've got to get involved in some activities again, but I don't know what. The volunteer group hasn't assigned me to anything since last spring. Maybe because they like to get new recruits involved? I'm pulling away from Mensa for a while, because a few people have been bugging me lately and I need to let the piles of crap erode a bit before I let them throw more on.

I somehow got on a contra-dance email list. Maybe I'll try that.


I found a slip in the mailbox that I have a registered letter (a large envelope) waiting for me at the post office. I'm worried. Really. I'm not expecting anything registered.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

2230 Is it just me?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I'm sure there are technical words to describe what I'm seeing, but I don't know them, except maybe for "manipulation".

You know how the tv spots have been trying to convince us that the February switch to digital is "because it's so much better"? (Um, like, as opposed to all the money to be made selling the old bands?)

It seems to me somebody is stepping that argument up a bit.

For at least the past six or eight months I've had sets that pick up both digital and non-digital, and up until the past month I didn't notice a lot of difference on most of the channels that I get on my rooftop antenna. I could watch channel 10, or 10.01. The non-digital (analog?) shows have been coming in sharp and clear. About the only difference I'd noticed with digital is that the digital colors were more intense.

Suddenly, there's a BIG difference. (Although now that I think about it, it's been happening gradually over the past month, not suddenly.) The non-digital looks like it's put together with blocks of color. Slabs. Painted with palette knives. Wide ones. Looks a lot like the old beginner-level Paint By Numbers masterpieces. People's noses look strange.

It looks terrible.

It didn't always look that bad.

Do they think people will look at it and say, "Oh, wow, yeah, digital really is a lot better! I didn't realize there was so much difference!"

Well, there didn't usta be that much difference!

I really really don't like being manipulated.

2229 Yup. Uh-huh.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

In a post yesterday, I wondered how long it would take for someone to complain that Obama did not take the oath correctly and therefore cannot exercise the duties of President. Not long, it appears.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

2228 Strange Mail

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

My mailbox was packed full this afternoon, eight packages. Two of them were unexpected and seemed odd. One was from Coldwater Creek, but it wasn't their usual overly large box and preprinted label - it was an envelope with the address and return address handwritten. The other was a small padded envelope with a return address for an unfamiliar business.

The small Coldwater envelope has a history.
I had ordered a sweater in gray from the discount outlet, and when it arrived, I loved it so much I went back and ordered it in red, using a coupon that pretty much covered its cost.
  • A day later I got an email that the red was out of stock, order canceled.
  • Ok. The coupon is about to expire, so I went back online to see what else I could get.
  • Hmmm. The red sweater is still listed. Relisted? So I ordered it again, plus a t-shirt.
  • A day later I got an email that the sweater is out of stock, but they'll send the t-shirt (free, 'cause the coupon covered it).
  • Early last week the t-shirt arrived.
  • End of story, right?
  • Wrong.
  • Yesterday I got a phone call from Coldwater Creek - first ever. The lady told me that the red sweater I had ordered is out of stock, and she assured me that I would not be charged for it.
  • Um, yeah, I know, ok.
  • Today I open the odd-looking envelope with the Coldwater return address, and in it is the red sweater,
  • and the usual invoice with my name and address on it,
  • and a note from a stranger that she had received it by mistake, that she had called Coldwater, and they had told her to send it to me. No return address for her.
Now what? Did I just get a free sweater?

The little envelope contained a pair of earrings. Two strange things about that - I haven't bought earrings in months, and this particular pair looked very familiar. I really like them. So I went online and looked for the business name on the return address, and it was an eBay seller.
  • I went to my eBay account to see if I had bought anything from her lately. Maybe she sent the wrong item?
  • Nope. I also verified I hadn't bought earrings from anyone lately.
  • I verified that none of the items I have purchased recently included free earrings.
  • Stumped.
  • I pulled up my feedback, and searched for feedback from her, any past dealings.
  • Ha! In April of last year, she left me positive feedback saying "So sorry they got lost in the mail. Wonderful buyer",
  • and I had left her positive "Lost in mail, honest seller offered refund",
  • and then I remembered!
  • I had bought earrings from her, they had never arrived, she offered a refund, but I didn't accept it because I wasn't certain that I hadn't simply mixed them up with others I had bought at about the same time, the cost wasn't high, and I was satisfied that she had offered.
  • I looked at the envelope, and the date on the USPS-printed stamp is "APR 03, '08"!
So I sent her an email (on one of her current listings) telling her they'd finally arrived.

Weird. I got something I think I didn't pay for, and something I paid for but thought I didn't get. Is this the way the year is going to go? If so, is that good or bad?

2227 Drumlines

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The previous post sent me off to YouTube to find drumline videos. I've got the hunger again. This post is for me, a place to keep some of my favorites.

Some basics:

Florida A&M University on the field. Can't see the hands, but still good.

This is a practice. Very bad sound, but very good example of what FAMU does better than anyone else - watch the hands! Precision! The Rockettes couldn't do it as well. Note that they're passing sticks to the guy next to them down the line without missing a stroke.

Black Fire Percussion:
These guys really have fun!

Thrilling! One of my favorites.

The Phantom Regiment:
The small city across the river is a stop on the junior corps tournament tour, and all day before the evening competitions, you find them on lawns, in parks, in parking lots all over uptown, doing exactly this. Note the feet moving. On the field, they move constantly, and FAST!, in and out of patterns.

Blue Devils:
Perfection. Notice the camera shots at rim-level - the sticks are all the same height!

Mississippi State University:

Santa Clara Vanguard:
(They have a fault - they look down. They should never look down.)

The Cadets of Bergen County:

The Glassmen:
(Past 3:10 is of no interest.)


2226 Speeches and Bands, and more free speech

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Yeah, I watched the Inauguration and the parade. I'm not going to wax philosophical. I just love me some marching bands.

There were a few things that struck me about the proceedings, though.

I was happy to see Barbara Bush looking so good. Even though she's ultimately responsible for unleashing so much havoc on the world, I've always liked her. She never simpered, never carefully chose her words. She's a strong lady.

The oath was strange. I'm sure Obama had memorized it, but the judge tripped him up. The Constitution, in Article II, Section I, says that “Before [the incoming President] enters on the execution of his office, he shall take the following oath or affirmation:
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.
I wonder how long it will take his detractors to point out that he has not yet taken the oath as written?

Ted Kennedy's luncheon seizure freaked everyone out. It really wasn't a big deal, folks. When you have a brain tumor, tiredness, stress, or even flashing lights can bring on a seizure. As long as it doesn't go into a series, it's not a big deal. It's just part of the package. They'll give him an extra jolt of his seizure medication, and that's that. I was a bit surprised when the hospital said he was awake and responding, though. That didn't feel true. After a seizure he should sleep, needs to sleep, shouldn't even be able to stay awake. After discharging like that, the brain needs to recharge.

I thought Obama's speech was great. It wasn't designed to get cheers, so I was amused when the first cheer went to the line: "We will restore science to its rightful place." Right on! (And what a slap....)

Lenox presented Obama and Biden with bowls. Bush got a hurricane lamp. Snicker. Chuckle. Snort. I wonder if that was on purpose.

I do love me some marching bands. Especially drum and bugle corps. Especially precision marching. Especially drumlines. Especially national champion drumlines. So when the Florida A & M corps paused in front of the reviewing stand, with the drums right in front of the new President, I bounced in my seat, "Yes! Yes! A salute!", but they just stood there a moment and then moved on. I was very disappointed.

Oh well. The national competitions are in a few days. Maybe I'll be able to see them on PBS or something.

There was one small incident that almost spoiled the day. After the ceremony but before the parade I went to the deli to get a sandwich. There were the three counter people, the owner in his office, a female customer paying for her stuff, and me. Then the customer said something about Obama.

It was kind of funny. There was an audible gasp, the three counter people turned and looked at me with big eyes, and the owner started out of his office. It was fairly obvious they expected a reaction from me. I hadn't heard what she said, but she kept talking, so I listened.

And yeah, I reacted. But I'm old enough and wise enough to know when someone is too stupid and too closed-minded to bother arguing with, so I dropped a fact or two, the others' heads whipping back and forth between us, I shrugged, and said "Well, we all apply labels that make us feel comfortable", and she scurried out before I could apply a label of my own.

Now, what's most interesting to me was the counter folks' suddenly getting so very worried about my reaction. I don't know why. Yeah, I'm dating The Man, but I don't think they know about him, unless the village is a LOT smaller than I thought it was (he and I had lunch in the tavern once many months ago). They know nothing about my politics, and I've never so much as snapped at anyone in there, so I don't have a reputation for temper.

Interesting. 'Tis a puzzlement.

2225 Blankie

Tuesday, January 19, 2009

Something I just remembered. Daughter's blankie. That's not what she actually called him, "blankie" is generic. I don't remember his name. I wonder where he is now.

He was a silky little coverlet that was nice to rub between your fingers when you sucked your thumb, and small and thin enough to carry around draped over your neck.

When he was about three years old, blankie was torn and tattered and badly stained. His fiber-fill was sticking out in tufts. I bought some silky fabric, folded blankie and sewed him into a tube of the new fabric, making sure to sew some of blankie's bits sticking outside the seams, so Daughter could still feel him and be assured that he was really in there.

In first grade she decided she was too old for thumb-sucking, and shortly after she gave up the thumb, blankie got relegated to a shelf in her bedroom, where he spent the next eleven years, alone, neglected, forgotten.

When she went to college, she took him with her.

Monday, January 19, 2009

2224 Laundry Day

Monday, January 19, 2009

Five loads of regular laundry today, and two loads of musty-smelling silk saris. I didn't have too much hope for an ordinary wash taking out the musty odor, but it did, so I'm happy.

The Big Bang Theory tonight is not a rerun, so I plan to watch that. Nothing else happening.

I'm bored with being bored.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

2223 Movies, sort of

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Nothing day. Really. I played with the cats, watched a 90-minute documentary, Crazy Love, about Burt Pugach and Linda Riss (they dated, he was obsessed with her, she found out he was married and broke up with him, he hired some guys to throw acid in her face, she was scarred and blinded, he spent 14 years in prison, he got out and was still obsessed with her, even his friends say he's certifiably insane, they ended up married, he takes care of her and she makes his life miserable, they're in their seventies now, and it's all true true true, also sick sick sick, and I don't regret the 90 minutes). Really weird coincidence, Linda reminds me so much of May - the way she talks, the things she says - and the woman with the thin whispy bangs looks and sounds like our friend NJ, it was all very strange.

And now I'm half-watching a terrible PBS opera while I wait for the Masterpiece Classic's presentation of "Wuthering Heights" to start. Oops, I just checked and that doesn't start until 9 pm. Maybe I should find something else to do.

We were supposed to get some minor snow sprinkles last night, nothing to speak of. Well, it's about three inches. And the snowthrower is in the shop again. The Aerio slid down the driveway when I went to the deli this afternoon, I was afraid she wouldn't stop at the end of the drive and shoot right on out into the road, we slid the last 15 feet and then stopped right at the edge, but then later she made it UP the driveway just fine. That's amazing. She's a good little car.

I'm bored.