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Lakeshore
An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2011-04-03 03:34
Subject: [links] Link salad turns over and over and over again now
Security: Public
Tags:culture, japan, links, movies, personal, politics, religion, science, tech
Ancient tablet bears writing, to scientists' surpriseA 2-inch-by-3-inch clay tablet is older than expected — dating to 3,350 years ago — and is found at a site in Greece where researchers did not expect to find writing.

Anita Sarkeesian on the Manic Pixie Dream Girl — Some interesting sociology here.

Ancient Greek Computer Had Surprising Sun TrackerThe world’s oldest astronomical calculator is famous for having intricate gear systems centuries ahead of their time. But new work shows the Antikythera mechanism used pure geometry, as well as flashy gears to track celestial bodies’ motion through the heavens. (Snurched from Elizabeth Bourne.)

Concrete fails to plug leak at Fukushima nuclear plantAn operator at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant says highly radioactive water from a pit near a reactor continues to leak into the ocean. Tepco officials plan to explore using a polymer in another attempt to stop the flow.

“With notably rare exceptions” — Slacktivist is funny, with some good links on religion and politics.

Mad Men and Mad WomenRepublicans hate social engineering, unless they're doing it. This made me laugh so hard, because it's so true. Kind of like how they hate activist judges, unless those judges are ruling the way they like. Et cetera.

?otD: Which end up?



4/3/2011
Writing time yesterday: 2.0 hours (WRPA)
Body movement: n/a (airport walking to come)
Hours slept: 6.0 hours (solid)
Weight: 248.6
Currently reading: Betrayer, C.J. Cherryh

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emmainfiniti
User: emmainfiniti
Date: 2011-04-03 11:39 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I am deeply ambivalent about the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope in modern storytelling. I disagree with the assertion that MPDG exists only in the lives of lonely writers and artists. This is a role I have seen women play in real life (and I admit I have been there, myself, at times), so I perceive more of a reflection of cultural expectations than a driving force of its own. It seems that MPDG is an improvement on other tropes such as the independent and solitary self-made man theme - even though the female is a supporting character, she is recognized as providing value exceeding her ability to provide sexual gratification and reproduction. The MPDG is less offensive to me than the trope of less-attractive-friend who helps the protagonist achieve love with the super-hot-object. Of course, the ideal is to present plenty of diverse characters with depth, and perhaps the real problem is not that the MPDG exists, but that she dominates the female presence in the media to the exclusion of other female characters.


AotD: Heads up!
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Jim Hetley
User: jhetley
Date: 2011-04-03 11:54 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Don't know which end is up, but the butter side is always down.
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ericjamesstone
User: ericjamesstone
Date: 2011-04-04 03:59 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
To me, it seems almost as if liberals heard conservatives complaining about about "activist judges" and assumed it meant "judges who make rulings we don't like," so liberals decided to claim that judges who made rulings they didn't like were "activist judges," and proceeded to call conservatives hypocrites who liked activist judges when the rulings were conservative.

Now, obviously, there are conservatives who will cheer any ruling they favor. But judicial activism is not just a question of whose ox is being gored.

I'll try to illustrate with some examples.

Let's take the issue of abortion rights. A right to abortion was never mentioned in the Constitution or any of the amendments. There's no evidence whatsoever that the ratifiers of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and the 14th Amendment believed they were protecting a woman's right to have an abortion. For well over a century, various state legislatures passed laws regulating abortion, and nobody thought those laws were unconstitutional. As a general rule, matters which were not specifically subject to federal regulation were left to the states to determine. Some states outlawed abortion, some did not. (As governor, Ronald Reagan actually signed the California law legalizing abortion in that state.) Then some judges decided that something which was clearly not considered unconstitutional at the time the relevant Constitutional passages were passed should be ruled unconstitutional. That's judicial activism: the judiciary overriding other branches of government (either state or federal) on the basis of new interpretations of the law that have little basis in the actual text.

Now, imagine for a moment that conservative justices on the Supreme Court simply overturn Roe v. Wade. Of course, liberals would scream that it was "conservative judicial activism," but they would be incorrect, and here's why: That would simply return the issue of abortion to the states to decide. What would be conservative judicial activism would be if the justices went beyond overturning Roe v. Wade and interpreted the Constitution to protect the right to life of unborn humans, and that all laws permitting abortion must be overturned (except under rare circumstances). There's no evidence that the Constitutional Framers had any such intention, so conservative justices would be guilty of the same kind of judicial activism as liberal justices if they did that.

Another example: the death penalty. The late Supreme Court Justices Brennan and Marshall believed that the death penalty should be ruled unconstitutional and voted against it in every capital punishment case that came before them, even though the Constitution itself clearly authorizes it. That's activist judging. Conservative judges tend to say the issue should be left to the states (or to Congress, for federal crimes.) A "conservative activist judge" would restore the death penalty in states that have abolished it.

Now, on issues where the courts clearly have long-established and clear Constitutional bases from which to rule, such as freedom of speech, the overriding of the other branches of government is not "activist." So, for example, the Supreme Court decision that protected flag burning was not an "activist" ruling (condemned mostly by conservatives, but not generally cited as an example of liberal judicial activism), nor was the decision that protected the political speech of organizations (condemned mostly by liberals, and incorrectly called "conservative judicial activism" by some).
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