04/03/2013

Now reading: Terms of Enlistment

by wfgodbold

By the internet-famous Marko Kloos!

I’ve only just started it. First I had to finish A Throne of Bones and Summa Elvetica (both by Vox Day).

Terms of Enlistment–a milSF work–should nicely cleanse the palate after two long fantasy works (elves, orcs, goblins, Roman legions, a Catholic Church analogue, Vikings–what more could you want?).

I’ll probably finish it by the weekend, if I can work in some reading time in between work and class.

03/30/2013

A month’s worth of movie reviews

by wfgodbold

In reverse chronological order:

GI Joe: Retaliation was pretty good, if a bit light on plot (but hey, it’s GI Joe; just be glad the last half of the movie doesn’t teach you a moral lesson), and a bit ham-fisted with how it deals with characters from the first movie. Overall, though, I’d say it was better than the first movie, and should make enough money for Hasbro to keep the series going (whether that’s good or bad I leave up to you, gentle reader).

Olympus Has Fallen is a rah-rah kill ‘em all kind of movie, and Gerard Butler takes a turn as a Secret Service agent who has to save the president from an army of terrorists. He does so, of course, with much violence and more headshots than seems probable (look, if you’re fighting an army of mooks, it makes zero sense to shoot them all with a handgun when you’ve got a perfectly serviceable carbine SLUNG ACROSS YOUR BACK). *ahem* Anyway, aside from one scene (where I think the director was trying to hard to give us an American version of Fabrizio Quattrocchi‘s “I will show you how an Italian dies!”), it’s a good action movie. Even if the president kept making terrible decisions (I suppose they needed realism there to make up for the headshots).

Jack the Giant Slayer is an entertaining . . .

No. Just no. I can’t do this. It’s terrible. Not even Ian McShane, Ewan MacGregor, and Bill Nighy are enough to salvage this monstrosity. This does not fill me with hope for Bryan Singer’s return to the helm of the X-Men franchise.

A Good Day to Die Hard, on the other hand, is everything we’ve come to expect from a Die Hard movie. Gunfights, explosions, duplicity, John McClane complaining about absolutely everything, and general mayhem. Would definitely see again.

I had meant to write these up individually, but I kept finding some reason to procrastinate. I shall endeavor to do better, gentle reader. Until next time, enjoy the trailers for RED 2 and The Wolverine:

03/29/2013

Overheard in Jurisprudence

by wfgodbold

In class last night, while discussing Dworkin and the objective nature of morality:

Student: I’m just saying that somewhere there’s probably at least one person who thinks that putting babies on stakes is morally fine.

Professor: Yeah, and there are also people who don’t think that 2+2=4. Where do we put those people?

Me: Congress?

Even in law school, we’re united by our shared hatred of Congress.

03/27/2013

Three cheers for SCOTUS!*

by wfgodbold

Yesterday, in a 5-4 decision, the Court held that bringing a drug dog onto the curtilage of a house constituted a search under the Fourth Amendment. This seems like common sense, but given the Court’s sui generis treatment of drug dogs in the past, it wasn’t actually a slam dunk.

Scalia wrote for the majority (and was joined by Thomas, Ginsberg, Sotomayor, and Kagan), and though I haven’t yet read the opinion, the reasoning seems like it should follow pretty clearly from his opinion in Kyllo. Scalia relied in part on the reasoning used in last year’s GPS case.

Best line (seen excerpted elsewhere):

We have accordingly recognized that “the knocker on the front door is treated as an invitation or license to attempt an entry, justifying ingress to the home by solicitors, hawkers and peddlers of all kinds.” Breard v. Alexandria, 341 U. S. 622, 626 (1951). This implicit license typically permits the visitor to approach the home by the front path, knock promptly, wait briefly to be received, and then (absent invitation to linger longer) leave. Complying with the terms of that traditional invitation does not require fine-grained legal knowledge; it is generally managed without incident by the Nation’s Girl Scouts and trick-or-treaters. [emphasis added]

The Court then held today that the Federal Tort Claims Act applies to law enforcement acting within the scope of their duties–any activity in the scope of their duties, not merely investigation or law enforcement. I don’t know anything about the FTCA, but anything that can help hold law enforcement accountable is a good thing, right?

Standard disclaimer: I’m just a law student. If you rely on anything I’ve said here, on your own head be it.

*Why, yes, I am cheering SCOTUS in a cryptically titled blog post. You probably thought this was going to be about gay marriage or DOMA.

Fooled you!

03/21/2013

Intermediate scrutiny is the new rational basis

by wfgodbold

At least in the Fourth Circuit.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision reversed the district court’s decision in Woollard v. Sheridan (which had invalidated the Maryland concealed carry statute’s requirement that an applicant show good cause for issuance of a concealed carry license).

The court quoted legislative “findings” supporting the law as written:

(1) the number of violent crimes committed in the State has increased alarmingly in recent years;

(2) a high percentage of violent crimes committed in the State involves the use of handguns;

(3) the result is a substantial increase in the number of deaths and injuries largely traceable to the carrying of handguns in public places by criminals;

(4) current law has not been effective in curbing the more frequent use of handguns in committing crime; and

(5) additional regulations on the wearing, carrying, and transporting of handguns are necessary to preserve the peace and tranquility of the State and to protect the rights and liberties of the public.

The court even notes that these findings (adopted in 2002), have not been substantially changed since the Maryland legislature first adopted them in 1972.

Somehow, despite the passage of 30 years from the legislature’s initial adoption to its re-adoption of these findings, the situation in Maryland has not changed (after all, if it had worked, and crime had gone down in response to any laws based on these findings, surely the present findings would differ by at least crediting the current harsh laws for the drop in crime). This is in fact strikingly similar to the Supreme Court’s current case on the Voting Rights Act, in which Congress had adopted the same “findings” today as it did at the VRA’s inception–in 1965.

The Fourth Circuit went on to list several other “findings” (I won’t reproduce them here; if you click through to the Volokh Conspiracy and then to the opinion itself, you can read them on pp. 26-28). This reads like a litany of standard gun control fears–essentially that liberalized carry will take us back to the wild west. It hasn’t (for example, despite similar claims by opponents of Virginia’s bar and restaurant carry bill, crime didn’t increase–it dropped).

Maryland essentially argued that they should be able to deny carry licenses to the vast majority of applicants because of public safety, and the Fourth Circuit went along with it (citing heavily to the Second Circuit’s opinion in Kachalsky, but doing its best to minimize the Seventh Circuit’s opinion in Moore).

Professor Volokh appears to take a dim view of the court’s deference to the legislature’s findings (especially coupled with this standard of review) and notes that “a constitutional right that can be trumped in nearly all its applications, under whatever level of scrutiny, is not really a right.”

I agree.

I would go further, though. The various circuits, in KachalskyPeterson, and now in Woollard are focusing too much on Heller and McDonald‘s language regarding the “core” Second Amendment right. The right of armed self-defense may be strongest in the home, but as the Seventh Circuit noted in Moore, that does not mean that it is nonexistent elsewhere. 

I only have one other thing to say about this case–I’m very glad it came out today and not last Thursday, or I would have had to stay up all night reworking certain parts of my law review note so I could turn it in on Friday.

03/17/2013

In the immortal words of Michael Bay*

by wfgodbold

Shit just got real.

Yes, the IMF and the EU rammed a ~10% tax on bank account assets down Cyprus’s throat as a condition of Cyprus’s bailout (I’m not even going to get into whether bailouts are a good idea or not in this post).

The IMF/EU decided to do this on Saturday, after the banks closed.**

And the 10% “tax” will be removed from bank accounts before they open on Monday.

I’m not normally one to lambast all taxation as theft, but if a bunch of foreigners I didn’t vote for and who aren’t accountable to me or my countrymen come in the night to take money out of my bank account, I don’t see how it can be called anything else.

The article is full of quotes from various non-Cypriots, before finally, in the preantepenultimate paragraph, stating “Cyprus President Nikos Anastasiades attended the talks.”***

I’m sure the DutchFinance Minister, the head of the IMF, the head of the European Central Bank, and the French Finance Minister, all of whom were involved in coming to this “agreement,” did so with heavy heart. After all, the Cypriots might fire them in the next election…

The nature of the EU and its shared currency has lead to this problem (just as it lead to the problem of Greece, etc.). Member countries must sacrifice their own best interests and that of their countrymen on the altar of the euro, and do so in vain. The European countries, their economies, and their cultures were distinct before the union. Expecting homogeneity to result from an unthinking merger into a bureaucratic state that is united only by a shared currency was folly.

The American colonists only thought they were taxed without representation in the years leading up to the Revolution–at least they were being taxed by their own government.

Cyprus is being taxed by foreigners. It’s hard to have less representation than that.

*Yes, gentle reader, I know that Michael Bay only directed Bad Boys II, and did not actually write it. But do you know who wrote it?

I thought not.

**And if you don’t think the powers that be in the EU knew about this before the close of business on Friday and transferred their money out of any accounts in Cyprus, just like how JFK didn’t sign the Cuba embargo until he had gotten 1200 Cuban cigars, I’ve got a bridge you might be interested in buying.

***The astute reader will notice that yes, the Cypriot Finance Minister was mentioned earlier than the Cypriot president, but also that despite his mention in the article, he was not quoted.

03/13/2013

Crunch time.

by wfgodbold

The final draft of my law review note is due Friday at noon. Between that and my part time jobs and classes (and the damn time change), I’m exhausted.

Spring break is next week, though, so I’ll be able to recover and catch up before the last month of the semester. In the mean time, here’s the first video from Gloryhammer‘s upcoming debut album:

I can’t decide if I like it or not, but since one of the tracks is titled “The Unicorn Invasion of Dundee,” I may have to get the album regardless.

03/03/2013

Remember, gentle reader, that under federal law, “firearm” has a very specific definition

by wfgodbold

A firearm is:

(1) a shotgun having a barrel or barrels of less than 18 inches in length; (2) a weapon made from a shotgun if such weapon as modified has an overall length of less than 26 inches or a barrel or barrels of less than 18 inches in length; (3) a rifle having a barrel or barrels of less than 16 inches in length; (4) a weapon made from a rifle if such weapon as modified has an overall length of less than 26 inches or a barrel or barrels of less than 16 inches in length; (5) any other weapon, as defined in subsection (e); (6) a machinegun; (7) any silencer (as defined in section 921 of Title 18, United States Code); and (8) a destructive device.

Under federal law, all such “firearms” must be registered. From the definition, regular handguns, rifles, and shotguns are not included. Only short-barreled rifles & shotguns, machine guns, silencers, destructive devices, and AOWs are “firearms.” Possession of unregistered firearms is a felony punishable by up to ten years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

So when you read, gentle reader, that President Obama has pardoned someone for “possession of an unregistered firearm,” it means that the person pardoned had either a short-barreled rifle/shotgun, a machine gun, a silencer, a destructive device, or an AOW that was not registered with the ATF.

Now, it could be that Obama now thinks that heavily restricting the possession of firearms is a bad idea. If so, I agree, and I look forward to any proposal for repealing the NFA the president brings forward. Suppressors are great safety devices, and short barrels make rifles far less unwieldy. I shouldn’t have to pay a $200 tax stamp to the government to possess them, and I certainly shouldn’t be prevented from lending them to friends or family (I’m not even going to address the ridiculous necessity of gun trusts the NFA has foisted on us).

Considering Obama’s continued push for standard capacity magazine bans and a reinstatement of the ban on so-called assault weapons, I doubt that’s the case.

02/22/2013

HAVA heart…

by wfgodbold

Donate to Honored American Veterans Afield by the end of March, send Linoge a enough of a copy of your receipt that he can verify you donated, and you’ll get one entry to win nifty prizes for every $5 donated!

I know A Good Day to Die Hard just came out, but instead of getting overpriced, overcooked movie popcorn, use that money to help returning veterans transition to life in the US.

It’s win-win!

Help veterans and win prizes!

Well, probably not so much winning prizes, but win-lose doesn’t sound as good. But who cares! After all, it’s only money! What else are you going to do with it?

 

Tags: ,
02/18/2013

Shut up and take my money! – Bungie edition

by wfgodbold

I haven’t played a multiplayer FPS in some time, but Destiny looks awesome:

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