log (2008/05/23 to 2008/05/29)

So should I be worried because when I have the Air Conditioner running in my car on humid days, and I push the button that makes it blow encolded air out the dashboard vents, there sometimes emerges from those vents rolling (if insubstantial and transparent) clouds of white steam and/or smoke? I don't know if it smells like anything, 'cause of I still can't smell. It stops if I turn off the A/C, but today on the drive home I really didn't want to turn off the A/C because the relative humidity was like a zillion percent.

The Supreme Court of the United States of America, and in particular the recentish decision in Crawford et. al. v. Marion County Election Board et. al., which I've just read because it's interesting an' educational to read Supreme Court decisions, and I haven't done it enough lately.

As each of you may or may not have noticed, Crawford v. Marion is about the constitutionality of Indiana's voting laws, which were recently changed to require presenting a government-issued photo ID at the polling place, or alternately filing a provisional ballet and then showing up at the county seat within ten days and signing your name to a paper saying that you had one of the allowed good reasons for not having one (like being poor and not having enough money to pay for the paperwork necessary to get the documents required to get a government-issued photo ID, although you do apparently have enough money to like miss work and get to the county seat).

Now some folks thought that this constituted a Poll Tax, one of those Bad Things from a Long Time Ago that were Unamerican because they were mostly designed "to keep them damn cahlahds from votin'". Proponents of the measure said that is was not a Bad Thing at all, because it was designed "to keep them damn poah people from votin', erhh, ah mean from committin' Election Fraud, uhh, ah mean t' keep ennyone from committin' Election Fraud, yah, thet was it!".

One of the main problems with this latter argument is that never in the history of the State of Indiana, and maybe a dozen times in the entire history of the Solar System, has there been an attempt to commit Election Fraud in a way that this requirement would in fact have stopped. But hey! You never know.

Eventually this got to the Supreme Court, and the other day the Court issued a Decision, saying that the Indiana requirement was actually peachy keen. I summarize the Decision here for those short on reading time:

Justice Stevens (joined by Chief Justice Rehnquist I mean Roberts and Justice Kennedy) for the Court: "Well, I dunno, it's true that the state didn't prove that there was actually any election fraud to prevent, but on the other hand the plaintiffs didn't prove there were actually any particular number of poor people that would be burdened. And even if the law was enacted mostly to disenfranchise poor people, there are other reasons they might have enacted it, too. So whatever. The law stands. And here's about six thousand previous Decisions with the word 'vote' in them somewhere that one of our clerks found for us on Lexis/Nexis."

Justice Scalia (joined by Justice Thomas and Justice Alito) concurring: "Now hold on! We don't want to be so wussy here. Even if the plaintiffs had proven that there were poor people who would have been burdened by the requirement, the law still would have been fine, because the law imposes the same burden on everyone; it's just the impact of that burden that might be different between people. It's like if a law said you had to be male to vote: that would impose the very same burden on everyone (having to be male), it's just that the impact might be heavier on some people (women, for instance).

"Now there's this pesky Poll Tax decision in Harper v. Virginia that might seem to hold exactly the opposite, saying that a poll tax would be an unfair burden on the poor, but we can construe this very very narrowly as applying only to requirements that people pay money directly to the government, and not applying to things like the Indiana requirement where you have to pay money to taxi services and maybe to the people that can give you a copy of your birth certificate -- but hm that's the government too isn't it, but, well -- LOOK! IT'S HALLEY'S COMET!

"So since this law does not put an undue burden on voters in general, where by 'voters in general' I mean wealthy white voters who belong to my country club, and since discrimination is okay because, without proof of discriminatory intent, a generally applicable law with disparate impact is not unconstitutional, the law stands (as should every other law that mostly impacts poor people, since poor people aren't yet a protected class, and you know how I feel about any suggestion that we might create new protected classes)."

Everyone reading the decision: "Hm, but on that thing about discriminatory intent, didn't the main opinion say that there might in fact have been discriminatory intent? Shouldn't we worry about that a bit?"

Justice Scalia (with a heavy sigh, clearly nearing the end of his patience): "Anyone with a proper respect for stare decisis and quidquid latine dictum sit altum viditur will realize at once that in this case -- LOOK! IT'S HALLEY'S COMET! AGAIN! WHOA!!"

Justice Souter (joined by Justice Ginsburg) dissenting: "Oh for heaven's sake. The only even vaugely plausible reason the state could give for this law was to prevent a kind of fraud that no one ever tries to commit, and by the most conservative estimate tens of thousands of people will be unable to vote because of it. The parallel to the Poll Tax found unconstitutional in Harper is painfully obvious. Sheesh. The law is unconstitutional."

Justice Breyer dissenting: "Yeah, what they said! I'm only writing my own separate dissent because I had some time to kill before lunch. Here are some precedents."

So a mealy-mouthed bad decision by the Court, a more forthright if really mean-spirited and anti-egalitarian and incredibly narrow interpretation of Harper by the mean kids, and a rather sad, and sadly quite correct, dissent by the kids from the Art Room.

Sigh! I intended that to be funny, but it's mostly sad, isn't it? Ah, well, on to...

Second Life (ah brave new world, that doesn't have such Scalias in it):

The new park, Hughes Rise

This is the first shot of my new park in Hughes Rise (yay!) in a decently-complete state (although it's still changing).

I bought my first 512 square meters here back on Xmas of 2006 (back when each resident got a chance to buy one 512 at well below market rates), and I've been erratically buying adjacent parcels as I happen to notice them becoming available. (Seems to be a pretty high turnover rate here for some reason.)

The other day I bought two more, enough to get me to the edge of the next Tier (monthly payment) plateau; I now have 2560m2; woot! And for some reason or other I decided to actually do something with it. Never really having done a ground build before I started on a sort of slapdash park, with the result (so far) that you see here. Uneven slightly weathered looking walls, trees, birdsong, a fountain or two, places to sit, some decorative fireworks, a big lumpy placeholder sculpture, and (just to the left of the tree in the foreground and not lit well enough yet) the copy of her lovely piece "Embrace", donated to the park by the wunnerful Callipygian Christensen, of who I have writ before.

(Also rosebushes. And that picture of dogs playing poker, 'way up in the back. And and and...)

People are saying I should have a party there. I might! Of course I'm been saying that about my Indolence club build for awhile now. *8)

And just to close, here's a Twitter feed of all mentions of the word "wish" on Twitter, and a graph of sunshine levels.