Thursday, September 30, 2004

High School Debate Limited in South Carolina 

Advocate.com reports that high school principal David Damm and school superintendent Thomas Dowling of Fort Mill, S.C. have taken the previously approved topics of gay marriage, abortion and stem cell research off the slate of issues to be used in a student run debate on October 19. The debate was designed to be similar to the upcoming presidential debates.

A school announcement stated:
"The issues to be discussed will be education, health care, economic growth and jobs, the war in Iraq, taxation and the national debt, faith-based initiatives, energy policy and foreign policy.... Because of South Carolina laws, we cannot discuss such controversial issues as stem cell research, abortion, or homosexual marriages."
Damm and Dowling have stated their belief that the South Carolina prohibition on discussing abortion or gay sex in health class likely extends to these types of discussions also. South Carolina's chief counsel for the Education Department disagrees, stating that there is no prohibition against general discussion of any topic, and that stem cell research is not included in the health class topic ban.

By the way, Fort Mill High School is a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation "Model School," as well as a "Blue Ribbon School" under the No Child Left Behind program.
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UPDATE (10/4/04): After consulting with the education department's attorneys, the school administrators have now reversed, and the students will be allowed to include the topics of their choice. Perhaps they should have checked with the lawyer first if they were concerned about a problem with a state educational law? Are they working with Jim DeMint?

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 3:54 PM

Lost in the Comment Sphere 

I wish Haloscan had some easy way to determine to what post a particular comment is attached. When I go into the Haloscan screen that lists all the comments, they're listed in chronological order. If there are more than one comment on a particular post, you'll see all of them when viewing any of them, but there's no indication as to the origin post. I love the service otherwise, though.

Usually this isn't a problem, since people most often comment on the most recent posts. But sometimes a comment is made to an older post, and the origin isn't always obvious from the comment. Then I have to flip through the monthly archives, checking Comments for the one in question.

Today I had the following comment pop up:
Take it from one who knows you are miles away from drawing any similarity with your specified comparisons.You will make a great lawyer if you continue to assume. But the judge might disagree on that point. Perhaps you should be aware that assuming makes an ass out of U and Me

Sounds like it was probably prompted by one of my lefty liberal political or legal related posts. I went to the main page, but it wasn't on any of those. Then I started searching through previous months, checking for any posts of that sort with single comments. Nothing. I checked again. Nothing. So I checked again, only this time I also looked at the unlikely candidates, such as movie reviews, etc. Bingo. It was attached to this post, which contained the inflammatory and highly assumption-laden news that Jodie Foster would be starring in the film Flight Plan. I made some references to movies with similar-sounding plots, and a note about the popularity of Jodie Foster among visitors to Provincetown.

I'm thinking that Bob, the commenter, assumed he was on some other post and that his comment would have a more biting edge to it than it wound up projecting. Sorry, Bob. Feel free to come back again and re-comment in the right place so I can be sure to be appropriately offended!
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UPDATE (1:20 pm): I checked on Sitemeter to see if I could figure out how Bob arrived at the blog, and I noticed that someone got here through a search for Jodie Foster Flight Plan. I'm going to make a big assumption here (sorry) that this was indeed Bob. So perhaps he actually did mean to attach the comment where he did. If that's the case, I think perhaps he confused any notes I may have made comparing the basic publicized plot with the plots of other shows and movies with the idea that I assumed these comparisons were complete or accurate. And I really don't get his connection between my preproduction film speculation with a legal career, or anyone's state of ass-hood. Perhaps Bob is on the production crew for the film? Good for you, Bob. I'd love to hear any inside scoop you could provide. But perhaps you might check your own assumptions first.


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Posted by Beth Henderson at 1:00 PM

Nigerian Soccer Players: No Braids or Earrings, It's So Gay 

365Gay.com reports that a Nigerian government official has expressed his concern that the Nigerian soccer team is promoting homosexuality among the country's youth, because many of the players wear braids and earrings. A "senior football official" then told players that they would have to remove their braids at an upcoming youth tournament, so as not to unduly influence the young people into turning gay.

I can see their point. I mean look what goes on here in the NFL with all those football players wearing braids and earrings. We all know how the NFL is actively engaged not only in encouraging their players to be out and proud, but also in luring all the fans into adopting and promoting the homosexual lifestyle. They're almost as bad as those NASCAR guys.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 11:53 AM

Lost: Pilot (Part II) 

This week we got answers to most of the questions I posed after last week's episode, as follows:

Yes, Charlie was indeed rescuing his stash from the lavatory. In the flashback sequence, we see that the people running around in the aisles were Charlie and the flight crew, who thought he was acting suspiciously. Turns out he was jonesing for a fix, which he got when he ducked into the lav. Unfortunately for him, that's when the turbulence and explosion sequence began, so he dropped the baggie and opted to get to an oxygen mask rather than try to retrieve it.

Spoiled Chick and Dense boy are siblings. Spoiled Chick apparently has a long history of drinking in Paris instead of studying, and of making a series of choices designed to infuriate her family, usually with great success. Memorable dialogue:

Spoiled Chick: I've suffered a trauma!
Dense Boy: We all have. The only difference is that you gave yourself a pedicure.

Still no factual information about Daniel Dae Kim and Silent Subservient Female. Although we know that DDK is proficient at shellfish collection and subsequent sushi preparation, and SSF is not silent, and is quietly rebellious from her subservience. Maybe I'll change her name to Soft-spoken Subjugated Female.

Vincent is The Kid's dog. The Kid's name is Walt. Mom and Dad were separated, Mom and Walt moved around a lot, but Mom recently died at their current home in Australia. Apparently Walt and Vincent were on their way to living with Dad. Dad doesn't seem too upset about Vincent's apparent death, and makes the extreme misjudgment of trying to cheer Walt up by promising to get a new dog when they get home. Hey, why don't you promise to pick up a new Mom while you're at it? Give the kid a chance to grieve. And to find Vincent in the jungle.

We also got new information on a number of passengers, and of course, new questions.

Orange Peel Mouth Bald Guy, formerly The CAG on JAG, actually can speak. He loves backgammon, and befriends Walt. While describing the game, he points out that there are two sides, one dark and one light. He says this with much gravity, so you know he has deeper meanings. A reference to the duality of humanity, to the circle of life, to Three Dog Night? He then asks Walt if he wants to know a secret. End scene. I think he's going to be the mysterious Knower of Things.

One passenger, Sayid, is a former member of the Iraqui Republican Guard, and he was able to repair the transceiver, but they have limited battery life for it. They then heard a looping message that apparently has been repeating for 16 years, 5 months. Hey - find the source and scavenge that Energizer battery!

Then we have Angry White Man, who perhaps has some tortured past. We know this because he was reading a letter and looking wounded. Then he lashed out with some typical playground bully activity, like picking on the Arab (Sayid) and the fat guy (Hurley). He also took a handgun and U.S. Marshall's badge from a body at some point - we didn't actually see it. The gun came in handy when he shot down the charging polar bear. Yep, polar bear.

Accusations are then hurled that Sayid was a prisoner that the marshall was transporting (Walt found some handcuffs in the jungle). Kate then deftly swipes the gun from Angry White Man's grasp, and asks if anyone knows how to unload it. Sayid gives her minimal instructions which she carries out with way too much ease. She totally knows how to field strip an M16 blindfolded, if you ask me. We then see through flashback that Kate was the one in handcuffs, being transported for something she may or may not have done, perhaps with or without justification. We're supposed to assume that her captor was the U.S. Marshall, but I'm not so sure that's the case. Maybe the marshall/prisoner combo was another pair, or perhaps Kate's the marshall but she totally screwed up and her prisoner took over her identity.

During Kate's flashback, we see that during the airplane event, her captor was struck in the head by flying luggage, and passed out. Kate managed to get the handcuff keys, free herself, affix her oxygen mask and then made sure to affix his oxygen mask as well.

Speaking of Maybe U.S. Marshall, he's the guy with metal sticking out of his gut. Jake decides he has to remove it, and enlists Hurley to hold the patient down in case he wakes up. Hurley passes out at the sight of blood, and then of course the patient wakes up. The first thing he asks is not "Where am I?" or "What happened?" or even "Why are you slicing into me with a straight razor?" Nope, he wants to know, "Where is she?"

End episode.
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UPDATE (2:14 pm): Thanks to TelevisionWithoutPity's recaplet, I'm reminded of a plot point and amusing scene. After DDK prepared his conch sushi and slapped away SSF's hand, he attempted to distribute it to the other passengers, without much success. He became insistent that Pregnant Girl have some, and she finally did so apparently in an effort to make the crazy man go away. Well, either this was some magic sushi or the immobile-for-a-day baby really hates raw seafood, because the kid instantly reacted by kicking away inside mom's gut. Pregnant Girl was overcome with joy, and grabbed DDK's hand and made him feel her stomach and the action contained therein. He was quite overcome with horror at this highly inappropriate violation of his sense of decorum, and scurried away down the beach.

In related news, SSF witnesses Kate wading in the ocean in her scivvies, and tries to tell or warn Kate about something. Kate nods understandingly and does absolutely nothing. SSF later pointedly unbuttons her top button which DDK had insisted she keep closed. Either she's catching the flame of rebellion, or she's hoping for some flames with Kate and her athletic, ocean sprayed bod. Or both. Time will tell.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 11:19 AM
Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Melissa Etheridge's Sitcom Project 

AfterEllen.com today has breaking news that ABC won a bidding war (!) for a proposed sitcom featuring Melissa Etheridge as a "gay music teacher and her straight, male best friend who live together to jointly raise the daughter of another friend." Apparently there's a fair chance this will actually become a show (many that get greenlighted for development don't make it to broadcast), given the multi-network interest, and the number of successful industry people already attached.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:34 AM
Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Heather Matarazzo Interview 

October's issue of The Advocate has an interview with recently out Heather Matarazzo, of Welcome to the Dollhouse and The Princess Diaries. They have a short excerpt online here.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:21 AM
Monday, September 27, 2004

Richard Branson + SpaceShipOne = Virgin Galactic 

Entrepeneur extraordinaire Richard Branson is teaming up with Burt Rutan , designer of SpaceShipOne, to create Virgin Galactic, the world's first commercial spaceline.

SpaceShipOne is considered the front runner for the Ansari X-Prize, and is scheduled to begin its official attempt this week. The cost to go on a suborbital flight, including three days of preflight training, is expected to come in at $208,000. The first vessel, the VSS Enterprise, will begin construction next year.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 1:27 PM

Charmed - Cheaper by the Coven 

What's going on? I actually enjoyed this episode. No eye-rolling, no seeing things coming 45 minutes in advance. Okay, mostly.

Of course, this might have something to do with my having watched it at 3:30 this morning when I finally gave up on getting back to sleep. Anything that would distract me from the "bing - I'm awake" sensation was welcome.

Paige has decided that Chris needs a wiccaning, but Piper is trying to minimize magic. Guess now that Paige is off the no magic wagon, Piper has decided to leap on. Phoebe as usual is caught in the middle. But she's really only there to exhibit the sexual side effects of whatever spell has gone awry, and she fulfilled her role quite well in last night's episode by doing some leaping of her own. But more on that later.

Grams gets conjured, Dad gets an invitation, Mom gets conjured. The gang's all here. Finola Hughes seemed a little off, like she lost some weight and some of her charm and charisma along with it. But no need to fear - Charisma Carpenter guest starred as The Seer, and brought plenty of both. Charm and charisma that is, not weight. Although she did bring some much needed acting weight to the show. Damn, she was good. She wasn't over the top, she wasn't hamming it up, she wasn't oozing evil or telegraphing her motivations. More Charisma Carpenter! And more John de Lancie!

Anyway, some masked demon is after Wyatt. Meanwhile, Wyatt is after attention.

The kids get whisked off to magic school with Paige, who is digging out from under bureaucratic paperwork. Leo goes demon hunting, which brings him to The Seer. She reveals through her pool in a cauldron that said demon either is or looks just like Leo. He freaks out and orbs off to check on the boys, who were napping. The Leo-Demon pops in, and they get into a lightning bolt match, during which time Grams pops in and gets a gander. She is now fully convinced that Leo's lost his moral compass and isn't to be trusted.

In the other story, Wyatt is all jealous of baby Chris getting all the attention, and is doing things like orbing away his pacifier, his blanket, or Chris himself. Now that was funny. Wyatt orbed him over to Grandpa's house and into his arms. Which was convenient, since he was heading over for the wiccaning anyway. Grams decides this is all just sibling rivalry, and casts a spell she used to use on the girls. Turns out she used lots of spells on the girls. Magic as grandmother's little helper. Good thing she's a witch and not a pharmacist, or the Charmed Ones would have been permanent residents of The Tenderloin by now. The spell removes The Rivalry from the boys (how was Chris exhibiting sibling rivalry? This looked like a simple case of one-way jealousy to me, but anyway), but unfortunately it then deposits itself in the nearest set of siblings, i.e. the Charmed Ones.

So what happened back in their youth? Everytime they had a spat, Grams would cast out their rivalry only to let it hit random siblings throughout the Bay Area? That's responsible.

For some reason The Rivalry didn't just bring out their intersibling squabbling, but also reverted them to generally childish behavior. They act like petulant 11 to 13-year-olds. I couldn't quite figure out the logic behind this plot device, but this was the only big hole this episode, so I'm okay with it.

Paige embarrasses herself by making out with a 21-year-old magic school student teacher, Phoebe embarrasses herself by attending a Reader's Choice Award ceremony and accepting an award for a column that Lesley wrote, then literally leaping into his arms after he rescues her from questions she can't answer. Leaps into his arms and fully wraps her arms and legs around his neck and torso, respectively. She tries to explain it away later, but Les isn't buying it. I don't recall Piper embarrassing herself, but she did enough of that in A Call to Arms.

Anyway, Mom and Dad give Grams the boot and say they'll fix their own children's problems, thank you very much. Even though neither of them were around much to get the parenting experience, and Paige isn't actually Victor's daughter, but that's okay. They're a family now. Nice.

Long story not so long: Mom casts a grammatically improper yet still effective reversal spell on the girls. Mom remembers Piper having night terrors when Dad left, and the Leo-Demon only shows up when Wyatt is asleep, so they figure out that Wyatt is blaming himself for driving Leo away, but at the same time is making it all Leo's fault, but because of his oh-so-fabulous powers his internal psychodrama is made manifest. Showdown at the site of Gideon's death match, and everything is hunky-dory. Wyatt got to act a little bit this episode.

All is right with the world, the Halliwell ghosts (except Prue, although her name was mentioned!) glow their way in, and we end with the wiccaning underway.

Oh, and a cameo appearance was made by P3, whose beer supplier is behind on delivery for the weekend rush, but Piper's got two cases of Red Bull on the bar and a handsome employee checking on why she's so calm. Yep, that was it. Perhaps next week there will be an exterior shot or something.

Next week: A Pirate Story. I do not have high hopes.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:58 AM
Saturday, September 25, 2004

Ann Wagner Works Words 

Missouri Republican Party Chair and Republican National Committee Co-Chair Ann Wagner knows how to use words. Apparently Thursday she addressed the crowd in St. Joseph, MO who were waiting for a speech from Vice-President Dick Cheney, and brought up the CBS-Rather documents in a way that raised concerns of improper allegations, which she denied on Friday:

"Only the most desperate of campaigns would stoop to forging documents," she told a roaring crowd.

But Wagner said Friday she did not believe there is evidence suggesting the campaign forged anything: "We don't know who it is who seemed to put forward those forged documents. My rhetoric is just to fire up the crowd, and Dan Rather and CBS News gets them going."

She didn't actual SAY that the Kerry campaign forged documents, just that only a desperate campaign would do such a thing, while at the same time mentioning both the Kerry campaign and a particular set of questionable documents. It's all how you phrase it. Wagner demonstrated her flair for phraseology back a the Republican National Convention, when she was discussing the thousands of protesters who showed up:

The level of denial was deep among Republicans. Thousands of protesters marched during the convention. They weren't angry about President George W. Bush's policies, they were simply political plants. At least, that's how the chairwoman of the Missouri Republican Party, Ann Wagner, defined them.

"We're not calling them protesters. Those demonstrators are Kerry supporters," Wagner told a Post-Dispatch reporter.

Back to the Bush administration false dichotomy. If you're not with us, you're against us. If you're against us, you're for them. You're either for the war in Iraq or a supporter of ruthless dictators. You're either for unilateral preemptive action or you're against the members of the armed services.


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Posted by Beth Henderson at 1:59 PM

Joan of Arcadia - Only Connect 

Oof - how disturbing on so many levels. Everyone is hiding something from someone else, if not from everyone else. Last night was an examination of the consequences of shutting yourself off from others, for whatever reason, and trust me - those consequences are not good.

First off, let me put it right out there. I don't like the bangs. But if the bangs were just part of the "Joan is cut off" storyline, okay. They framed her face and made her seem too much like a portrait of herself, too smooth and even. It was a great visual on the loss of her spirit and creativity.

Second, something good. Becky Wahlstrom and Christopher Marquette are now regulars. Yay - keep them on. I still think Grace and Joan should get together. One of the only times Joan seemed to regain her own personality last night was during her brief bedroom chat with Grace. And of course Grace would shimmy up the drain pip and climb in Joan's window rather than use the front door. "What are you doing?" "Clinging to a drain pipe." Also, Ms. Lischak is now the physics teacher, and she clearly loves physics even more than chemistry. She's awesome. It's like teaching is a performance art for her.

So Joan went to "camp" for the summer as part of her rehab process. She calls it crazy camp, Helen says it was to continue her physical recovery from the infection on which they're blaming her behavior of the past year. She's now trying with all her might to keep herself convinced that God never really talked to her, and that she was imagining the whole thing. God, meanwhile, is appearing in all the usual suspects plus at least one new on (Skateboard Guy). The first one who seemed to begin to break through was Little Girl God, who was bouncing and tossing a ball that looked very much like Earth. They give LGG the most insightful and philosophical lines, and this kid pulls them off perfectly.

Adam has spent the summer researching other experiences of talking with God, and now believes Joan, but she doesn't want him to believe it, and has barred him from discussing it with her or anyone else. She wants "the old me" back, and so does Adam. Trouble is, the person Joan is seeking never existed, and isn't the person Adam misses.

Grace and Luke have continued their odd relationship. She drew up and made him sign a Confidentiality Agreement, which he agreed to in order to receive his allotted 5 minutes per day of makeout time. In secret. And nothing else. Kevin extracted the truth, and convinced Luke that girls just want the guy to stand up (ironic choice of words coming from Kevin), and take charge. So Luke charges himself on over to Becky's house and rings the doorbell. She opens the door, says "You're dead," and slams the door in his face. End relationship. How weird do you think those makeout scenes were for the actors, one of whom is 17 and the other of whom is 29?

Helen is contemplating returning to the catholic church, and has been meeting with her priest friend and an ex-nun he referred her to. The ex-nun, Lilly Waters (played by Constance Zimmer), is fabulous. She a double-espresso drinking, cigarette smoking, gothed out cool chick who describes her nun days as follows: "Remember Sister Maria, in the Sound of Music? That was me, only with surfing instead of singing and spinning on the mountainside." But she's kept the whole idea secret from her family. Lilly chews her out, then tells her to get over herself and bring God home to meet the family before coming back to talk. There's a lot of references to God as boyfriend here. And of Luke as Not-Boyfriend. I heartily agree with the latter.

Will is continuing his efforts to find a common interest with Kevin, so Kevin decides to try out the adaptive golf idea. It didn't have the desired effect.

Will is also trying to deal solo with the fact that he and Helen are being sued for causing emotional distress to the young man whose drunk driving accident caused Kevin's paralysis, and whom the Girardis declined to sue for medical expenses or press charges against. Apparently Kevin called Will from the party and said that Andy was drinking. Kevin was going to drive Andy home himself, but relented when Andy became obstinate. So they're now holding Kevin and his parents responsible.

Helen goes to the station to tell Will about her crisis of faith, but Will really doesn't want to hear it. The whole thing with Andy is confirming for him the complete injustice of the world and his belief that we are all just here to get through each day with as little torment as possible until we die. Everyone and everything in this scene was very gray and blue, all muted tones, except Helen, who is wearing a deep red coat. Perhaps something about her taking steps to connect and return the vibrancy to her life, while Will is still repressed and isolated and can't see the beauty of the world?

Later at home, Will finally tells Helen his secret. They have a quality bonding minute before Luke drags them out to the garage to see Kevin in his golf set up. Unfortunately, seeing Kevin strapped to the side of the cart with his legs dangling limp on the ground only drove home the contrast between what he's gone through with Andy's apparent difficulty concentrating and trouble with work, and Will rushes back to the house.

Joan is back working at the bookstore, whose owner is continuing to have problems with his wife and her rabbit. It's worse than we realized, because the poor woman comes into the store in her pj's, and reveals that she has killed her beloved rabbit because her husband was jealous of her talking to it instead of him, even though in her mind Lydia was the only one who really understood her. The husband is shocked. The wife is shocked. Joan is shocked. God is shocked. The audience is shocked. I'm in tears, clinging desperately to one of my cats and being thankful that I have connections in this world.

Outside the store, Cute Guy God talks to Joan about the need to connect with the world and the people in it. Joan opens up to him, but tells him she can't see him anymore. She broke up with God.

Apparently next week there will be terrible fallout from said breakup. I know this is a drama, but it's getting very dark, and has very few light moments in which you can breath. I hope this doesn't go on all season, because I won't be able to take it.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:53 AM
Friday, September 24, 2004

RNC: Vote or Else 

The RNC admits sending inflammatory mailings, warning that liberal Democrats will ban the Bible and force gay marriage if conservative citizens don't vote on Election Day.

The mailings, which were publicized last week, contained images of a Bible with the word BANNED across it, and a photo of a kneeling man placing a ring on another man's hand, with the word ALLOWED.

I really try to be realistic and pragmatic. I try to be neither a cynic nor a Pollyanna. But I have to admit to being incredibly disappointed when intelligent and educated people stoop to such tactics, especially when it comes to something so fundamental to this nation as the selection of our national leaders.

I understand that as much as I might wish it, many Americans don't take the time to educate themselves on the issues beyond what is spoonfed to them by the leaders of whatever group they identify with. As depressing as that is, I find it reprehensible that this attitude is basically encouraged by those same leaders. If the public as a whole were actually fully informed of all sides of even just the issues of interest to them, the politicians, lobbyists, special interest groups, etc. would find it more difficult to sway them with simplified and distorted one-liners about incredibly complex and nuanced issues. Let alone with flat-out lies.

Just in case anyone thinks I'm right-wing bashing: I apply this to information thrown into the arena by groups on all areas of the spectrum.

My wishful thinking: that Americans would take seriously their responsibility to understand current events and how our government is designed and functions, and would then be active in our society. Education can be as inexpensive as simply spending some time. And yes, time is precious, but so is America, every citizen in it, and our system of governance. It's worth the investment.

One of my long held beliefs is a statement printed on the bookcovers my parents (a working class couple; a non-union carpenter and secretary who both worked at least one full-time job each while raising six children) provided for my schoolbooks starting in elementary school:

Education is an ornament in prosperity and a refuge in adversity.

-Aristotle


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Posted by Beth Henderson at 2:42 PM

Cynthia Nixon Quietly Out? 

Perhaps this year's Primetime Emmy Awards were gayer than we realized. AfterEllen has an article today on the apparently subtle coming out of Best Supporting Actress winner Cynthia Nixon.

The article also has a bit of Nixon's bio, plus some discussion of the professional impact on other actors who have either come out or at least stopped hiding that they are lesbian or bisexual. I was surprised that Angelina Jolie wasn't on their list - she's been very open about her bisexuality and has discussed it in numerous articles. And we dykes almost never miss an opportunity to bring up Angelina in a conversation or writing when it's even remotely possible.

Speaking of which - seen Sky Captain yet?

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 1:31 PM

Wedge of Awedgiance - Can't Touch This 

The House of Representatives passed their wedge issue bill which would bar federal courts from hearing any challenges to the inclusion of "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. Details over at the ACS of NESL blog.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:35 AM
Thursday, September 23, 2004

Pigs is Pigs, But Horses Ain't Vehicles 

AP reports on a Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision (concurring opinion here) yesterday in which two men were appealing their conviction for drunk driving. Their argument hinged on whether they were actually operating a vehicle. The incident begin when the driver of a pickup truck rear-ended one of the horses they were riding. Yes, horses. The court ruled that the drunk driving law cannot be used against inebriated equestrians.

Justice Michael Eakin dissented, and adapted the theme from Mr. Ed for his purposes:
"A horse is a horse, of course, of course,
but the Vehicle Code does not divorce
its application from, perforce,
a steed as my colleagues said.
"'It's not vague,' I'll say until I'm hoarse,
and whether a car, a truck or horse
this law applies with equal force,
and I'd reverse instead."


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Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:43 AM

American Film Renaissance Review 

Noy Thrupkaew went on down to the American Film Renaissance in Texas this month, to check out the self-proclaimed first film festival for conservatives. He recounts the experience over at The American Prospect, in an article titled Texas Film-School Massacre. His general thoughts on the festival are summed up in this excerpt:

A year and a half ago, the two former law students [the founders of the festival] got the idea to start up their pro-American film festival after they saw that their local theater in Little Rock, Arkansas, was screening only two movies: Frida, about a "communist artist," and Moore's Bowling for Columbine.

"Where were the films for normal people?" Ellen Hubbard asked.

Sadly, not at the AFR.


Throughout the festival he was reminded of Moby Dick (with Michael Moore being the titular character and many of the event attendees taking on the role of Ahab), witnessed many instances of unusual cause and effect analyses, and a bunch of not so great films, but he also saw one or two well-done pieces, and evidence of cultural cross-pollination between the two ends of the political spectrum. He came away with hope that there is at least hope of common ground for discussion between the sides, and where there is discussion, there is hope that each side can come away with at least a slightly better understanding of the other.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:22 AM

Good Writing Makes a Difference 

I know we all like to bitch and moan about our papers in Legal Research & Writing, but at the same time we also all (hopefully) know how important they are to our own professional development. For anyone who still hasn't grasped this idea, check out Uncivil Litigator's post about his opponent's first brief in the insurance coverage case he's handling. In anticipating his own task of now writing a response to this less than stellar effort, UCL has this to say:
In writing it I'll feel a bit like a boxer standing over a cowering, whimpering, bloodied opponent who's just waiting to be KO'd, which you'd think would be kind of fun... but it's really not. I'd rather swing at someone who can swing back and give me and the court a run for our money.
So the next time you're sweating over your assignment, just decide: do you want to be the one who fights the good fight, or the one who rolls over so the other side of your ribcage can be more easily kicked?

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:13 AM
Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Lost - Pilot (Part I) 

Whoa. Seriously cool show. I'm so happy. The soundtrack, the lighting, the pacing, the subtle and gradual story and character development, the small pieces of mystery, the timing of the breaks, the acting!

The opening title gradually enlarging and coming into focus, followed by the sudden shot of the eye opening and pupil dilating. Realization of pain. Struggling through the jungle, suddenly on a beautiful beach. What's that noise? A few steps more and he's at the frenetic crash site. The way the noise of the still functioning jet engine would fade when he focused on a particular cry for help.

The look on Kate's face as she reverently removed the hiking boots from the body that no longer needed them. The snotty attitude of spoiled chick, who "will eat on the rescue boat!" The sound effects. Was Charlie rescuing his stash from the lavatory or something?

What's the story with Spoiled Chick and Dense Boy? Are they a couple? Siblings? How about Daniel Dae Kim and Silent Subservient Female? Another couple? Is he smuggling her into the country? Are they fleeing persecution? Are they simply xenophobic?

Who's Vincent? Is it a scary monster that Dad made up? Is it Kid's imaginary friend? Is it the golden labrador that's watching them?

What the hell is that noise? They said it sounded familiar. Is it a time loop, and they're hearing their plane crash, but slightly distorted? What chewed up the pilot and spit him out? Didn't he taste good?

Speaking of the pilot, that was the one piece of predictability that I spotted. As soon as he stuck his swollen purple face out that window I was sure he was doomed. But when he paused and turned to place the transceiver on the seat - his fate was sealed.

In the flashback to the flight scene, who were the two people that ran up the aisle in a hurry? Was it flight crew? Was it whoever caused the explosion? What did cause the explosion?

How many times did I catch myself holding my breath during this episode? Is my face now swollen and purple like the pilot? Oh well, I have a whole week to breath until the next episode is on.
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UPDATE (9/24): I saved the Tivo recording so The Girl could watch it, as I had a feeling she might enjoy it. She watched it last night while I was in class and is just a hooked as I am.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 11:20 PM

I Am Palm OS 

Courtesy of The Guyfriend, here is a new quiz: Which OS Are You?

You are Palm OS. Punctual, straightforward and very useful.  Your mother wants you to do more with your life like your cousin Wince, but you're happy with who you are.

FYI - he is Windows 98: "a bit flaky, but well-liked..."

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 1:57 PM

Swaggart Downplays Comments 

The Times-Picayune (via 365Gay.com) obtained an interview with televangelist Jimmy Swaggart, in which he downplayed the seriousness of his statements regarding killing any man who looked at him "that way." Among his comments regarding the incident:
"It was a tongue-in-cheek statement best left unsaid. I won't make it anymore," Swaggart said in an interview Tuesday.

On whether his statement could encourage violence against GLBT individuals:
"Good gracious alive, it would be a long stretch of the imagination to come up with that," he said.
His overall summing up of his thoughts in hindsight:
"I was unwise in making the statement. All of us have made statements we wish we hadn't made. That was one for me."

So basically he feels that making a "blunt and plain" intention to kill a man who "ever looks at me like that" can be interpreted and accepted as a joke, that it would be nearly impossible to take seriously or to be inciteful to his many viewers, and that he should have left this sentiment unsaid. Not that he's sorry, not that his followers should know he didn't actually mean it, not that he doesn't really think that way. He just wishes he didn't say it out loud, and be caught on tape doing it.
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UPDATE (2:06 pm): The FortWayne.com editorial board weighs in. From their article:
President Bush and the GOP - and Indiana Republicans who backed a state constitutional amendment on marriage - might not win many votes denouncing Swaggart and others who smirk or cheer at the mention of killing a gay man because of the way he looks. But they would enjoy the respect due any leaders who recognizes that some followers are a source of shame, not strength.


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Posted by Beth Henderson at 11:20 AM

Terry Gross Article 

WNYC has published Terry Gross' Introduction to her new book, All I Did Was Ask. This introduction stands alone as a fabulous article, providing insights into NPR's Fresh Air host, her interviewing philosophy and style, and what happens behind the scenes in the production of this show. Be sure to read her thoughts on interviews with Bill O'Reilly and Gene Simmons (I heard that one during its original airing. I alerted my office neighbors to turn it on, as it was fascinating to hear it devolve while she struggled to maintain a level of professionalism higher than shock radio. She did an amazing job maintaining her composure in the face of his incredibly boorish behavior. That interview is one of the transcripts included in the book, which is a collection of transcripts from interviews with arts-related guests: writers, actors, directors, musicians and visual artists.

Amazon link:

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:32 AM
Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Charmed - The Bare Witch Project 

Let me guess - they blew their budget on the horrifyingly bad CGI arms from last week, so they have no money left to pay the child actors actually to appear in their scenes. How else to explain the perpetual shrouding of these tiny tikes?

How on earth would those "repressed" cafe patrons even have known Piper had an infant with her, let alone be grossed out by her breast feeding him? They must simply be grossed out by the concept itself, because there's no way in hell they saw him. She looked like she was simply wearing a very bad shawl-sling-combo, perhaps being utilized to disguise the invisible, nonexistant cast on her arm. There was a baby under that thing? They should have reported her for attempted smothering, not for public feeding.

Then when Piper and Phoebe returned home with the kids in the double stroller, why on earth did they have both seats completely covered with the blankets? And then they just left them parked in the hallway like that? How about some air, people!!!! And Wyatt is certainly mobile at this point (when they're not tranquilizing him, which I think they do heavily judging by the way the kid just sits there and gapes open mouthed regardless of what else is going on), so what do they think will happen when he wakes up and decides to climb out of his cloth prison? That's right - the whole thing is going to tip over and crash to the floor, right along with two-month old Chris. Yeah, that's a healthy situation.

But back to the breast-feeding scenario. They're in the outdoor section of a cafe in San Francisco, which even the script admits has an ordinance which allows for breast-feeding in public, Piper is being discreet to a fault (see above), and the other patrons (all two of them) are sitting many, many feet away. And they're in SAN FRANCISCO for god's sake! We're supposed to believe that those other patrons (who were young yuppie types seemingly on a date) were actually going to be paying attention to them, and then be offended enough to complain to the owner, and that the owner would actually be that rude and condescending while flouting the law, and would simply rely on his "right to refuse service" sign as justification? Good thing they weren't holding hands, even for the briefest of moments. They might have been mistaken as a lesbian couple, out with their little imitation family, imposing themselves and their twisted values on all the innocent heterosexual bystanders. And you know THAT wouldn't have flown in San Francisco.

Oh, right, this is The WB. They needed some excuse to have Alyssa Milano ride a horse bareback, even for the briefest of appearances, so they could then use it in their promos to rope in the hetero male viewers. Even though Phoebe's little protest didn't actually make sense. It might have been simpler to call City Hall and report the owner's actions. And the speech itself? I think that if the owner preferred that women be barefoot and pregnant, he would have lauded the breast-feeding as a demonstration of the proper behavior of women - caring for the children, not out working. He certainly wouldn't have deferred to the preference of the other childless patrons. But they do have me wondering what Les is about to type after witnessing the incident. From across the street several stories up, where he couldn't hear a thing but clearly recognized Phoebe even though she was naked, on horseback and sporting long, straight blonde hair. Uh-huh.

In other stories, the trend towards better guest stars (hopefully) commences, with Maury Sterling as Lord Dyson and John de Lancie (YAY! I had no idea he was going to be on) as the Elder in charge of negotiating with Paige about the magic school. My theory is that he's really Q, who has the rest of the Elders convinced that he's one of them and is just along to test humanity and witches. Or perhaps he's testing the audience, to see how long we'll keep watching! Hey, keep him on, add Charisma Carpenter, and you'll get at least another season out of me. And hire Jane Espenson - I hear she's got some free time coming up!

Paige fights to keep the school open for the good of the kids, who then promptly start being all kinds of disruptive and aggressive, and one of them conjures up Lady Godiva and the evil demon Lord Dyson, who feeds on repression. Hijinks ensue, they send her back but screw it up so that she doesn't finish her ride and the world becomes a giant repressed state in which women have no rights and aren't allowed to speak in public. Of course, it seems to me that after Lord Dyson feeds on a person's repressions, they are freed from them. So why would the whole world be repressed after a thousand years of this? I can see that he would be encouraging the repression in order to guarantee himself a constant food source, but doesn't his act of feeding then free that person? Isn't that a bit of a self-defeating design?

Oh, never mind. They bring her back again, vanquish Dyson by overdosing him with all Leo's repressed anger, send her back and all is right with the world. Plus Paige recruited the troubled youth who conjured her in the first place, he sends her back and increases his self-esteem and altruistic tendencies, the Elders okay the school remaining open, and put Paige in charge. And she's surprised that they put her in charge. Why is she surprised? We all saw that coming.

Leo is being cold-shouldered by the other Elders, who won't let him come into the Elder House in case he freaks out and starts flaming them all. They don't know for sure about the one he killed last week, but they have their suspicions. But now he's all unrepressed and has let go of the anger, so I'm not sure how this is going to play out. In some stupid, nonsensical and totally forced manner, no doubt.

Oh yeah, and they mentioned P3. It's still open. Let the guest bands begin. Maybe Phoebe will establish a special breast-feeding area.

The disembodied transparent head thingy is still flying around disturbing Leo. The elders still sense yet another looming threat greater than any they've ever known before. Blah, blah, blah.

But Charisma Carpenter starts her guest appearances next week!!!! Plus Grams and Mom will be making appearances! Yay!!! But sadly, Nick Lachey will also be there, and John de Lancie will not. Why, why?



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Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:30 AM
Monday, September 20, 2004

Film Festival For the Right Wing 

Are you feeling left out because you love movies, but feel Hollywood is run by the ultra-liberal left, and Hollywood in turn is taking over the culture of America? Do you have photos of Michael Moore and Barbra Streisand taped to your dart board? Well, despair no more - the American Film Renaissance is coming soon to Dallas, Texas, and they are "Doing Film the Right Way."

Yes, it's a film fest for the conservative right wing. In case you're concerned that they're not really conservative or right enough for you, take heart in that one of their major sponsors is WorldNetDaily, that chronicler of all things wrong with everyone but you! One of today's featured stories on WND? "Did N.Y. Times engineer same-sex marriage?"

One of the festival's ad lines? "Join us for the first and only pro-American film festival in the country." From their "About the AFR" page:
For the good or bad, in today's America, the film industry profoundly influences the pace and direction of American cultural life. Our movie screens have now become the primary front in the cultural war waged between the traditional and the modern, the spiritual and the secular.

For far too long, the film industry has used its influence to create movies advancing a world view that derides patriotism, faith, and traditional American values. But for filmmakers and movie-goers alike, the AFR offers an opportunity to consider film works encompassing a view of America that represents pride, humility, and appreciation for our great nation.

For a list of the amazing films you can view from September 10 - September 12, check here. The VIP Festival Pass is only $40 per person.
*************
Stepping out of character and back into my own persona now. Ugh. The top-listed film is "Against Nature," a "provocative documentary" about how environmentals are destroying the world. There's also a documentary about the profound world-wide impact of "The Passion of the Christ." And as an added bonus - an entire film about Ann Coulter! My head might explode.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 5:26 PM

Toronto Film Festival 2004 Winner 

Reuters reports that top honors at this year's Toronto Film Festival were taken by Hotel Rwanda (People's Choice Award) and Omagh (Discovery Award).

Among the actors being chatted up at Toronto as potential Oscar nominees are Don Cheadle (Hotel Rwanda), Liam Neeson (Kinsey), Jamie Foxx (Ray - I've seen the trailer, and this one looks great) and Kevin Spacey (Beyond the Sea). No mention was made in the Reuters article of actress nominees. What's up with that?

The Washington Post nodded to the same actors, but also gave notice on some of the actresses. Annette Benning was noted to have "drawn high praise" for Being Julia, but this note was made external to the Oscar commentary. The women in the same sentence as "Oscar" were Joan Allen (Yes) (I think she's just fabulous) and Laura Linney (Kinsey and also P.S.).

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 4:30 PM

Swaggart Under Investigation for Death Threats 

Televangelist Jimmy Swaggart is in the hot seat in Canada after complaints were filed about a sermon he made last week from Canada. The show was televised throughout Canada and the United States. At one point he discussed gay marriage, and had this to say:
"I'm trying to find the correct name for it ... this utter absolute, asinine, idiotic stupidity of men marrying men. ... I've never seen a man in my life I wanted to marry."

Before continuing on to the statement that got him in trouble, let me interrupt to say that I've also never seen a man I wanted to marry. And I'm really okay with that. So is The Girl. And Jimmy? I'm fairly certain that there aren't any men out there who want to marry you. Now back to the hate speech:
"And I'm gonna be blunt and plain; if one ever looks at me like that, I'm gonna kill him and tell God he died."
Yep, Jimmy Swaggart stated on multinational television that he would kill a man for looking at him. And his audience applauded. The comments have been described as "a serious breach" of broadcast regulations in Canada, as well as possibly being violative of Canada's criminal statutes against hate speech.

The portion of the Canadian Television Broadcasting Regulations that applies is regulation 5(1)(b):
"A licensee shall not broadcast any abusive comment or abusive pictorial representation that, when taken in context, tends to or is likely to expose an individual or a group or class of individuals to hatred or contempt on the basis of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age or mental or physical disability"

The criminal statute is Chapter 46, Section 319.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 8:29 AM
Sunday, September 19, 2004

Justice Dept.: Scalia Erasure Illegal 

Last April I posted on the incident in which U.S. Marshalls forced two journalists to erase recordings they had made during a public speech by Justice Scalia.

Via ACSBlog I see that the Justice Dept. has now admitted that the action was a violation of the Privacy Protection Act, and that the reporters are entitled to $1000 damages each plus reasonable attorney's fees. The concession was in response to a lawsuit that has been filed by the two reporters' news organizations. Justice is opposing the plaintiffs' motion for an injunction to prevent a repeat of the incident, however. You know, just because it's illegal doesn't mean they want to get in extra trouble if they do it again.

That and other outstanding issues will be addressed in the course of the lawsuit.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:49 AM
Saturday, September 18, 2004

Bench Memorandum on Money Laundering 

Repeat the mantra from last semester: It's just a draft, it's just a draft, it's just a draft.

Make pledges to self:
  • I will be more organized next time.
  • I will more fully utilize the Excel spreadsheet I so cleverly designed.
  • I will finish the draft prior to the day it is due.
Take deep breath.

Return to immersion.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 6:13 PM

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow - Rules! 

Alfred Hitchcock, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Gene Roddenberry. Buck Rogers, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Captain Proton, Star Wars, The Wizard of Oz, Seaquest DSV, Babylon 5, King Kong, Land of the Lost, sci-fi, mystery, action, romance and all other types of B-movies. Kerry Conran extracted the genetic makeup from all these cinematic predecessors and mixed them up, creating a primordial ooze from which he brought forth Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow!

The Girl, FMB and I got to the theater at 7:15 for the 8:00 show to secure the perfect seats, which was successfully accomplished. We've been waiting since last December, when we first saw the trailer in the exact same theater, when we were there to see The Return of the King. We were at the Loews Boston Common, in theater 2, which is one of the giant seating capacity, enormo-screen theaters, with the best sound in town. We were in the center, right behind the aisle, so there was no one in front of us and we had a railing on which to prop our feet. And the crowd continued in until the house was full of geeks, gayboys and lesbos. I felt so at home! Then the film commenced.

It had me from the opening credits. Everything was perfectly retro with a high-tech edge. It's what the sci-fi filmakers would have created in the early days if they only had the technology to match their endless imaginations. The lighting, the music, the sound quality, the dialogue, the twists and turns. Giovanni Ribisi's stunned declaration, "Shazam!" and his collection of Buck Rogers comic books. It's set circa 1938, only different. It comes complete with background showings of the hit movies of the time, a Brownie camera, experimental ray guns, visuals of radio waves travelling across the countryside in visibly expanding rings, and camera movement across the world as a giant topographic map with the countries labeled and the compass directing the way.

Jude Law is Sky Captain, flying ace extraordinaire; Gwynneth Paltrow is Polly Perkins, girl reporter; Giovanni Ribisi is the early cool geek inventor, complete with sexy workings of his slide rule and protractor, impressive mental calculations and technobabble to beat the band; Laurence Olivier makes an awe inspiring appearance (via archive footage); and Angelina Jolie is Frankie Cook, Captain in Her Majesty's Navy and commanding officer of an elite unit. Wow, is she perfect. Her clipped accent is nothing like the also perfect one in Tomb Raider, and she's totally commanding. As Polly Perkins says, "She's quite a girl." I'll say. At one point I was thinking that Frankie is the Military Jane West to Polly's Career Girl Barbie. Although to be fair to Polly, she's got quite a bit of both Nancy Drew and Lois Lane in her as well.

Frankie is the central figure in the ultimate wow-factor sequence of the entire film. I won't give it away, but you'll know it when you see it. Many of us burst into applause at its climax. And we all applauded when the end credits began rolling. As we were standing up to exit, the leatherman behind us said that he had a sudden craving for Ovaltine and Winstons.

I can't wait to see this again, and I will no doubt put myself on the preorder list as soon as it's available. Grab your friends and head down to whatever local cineplex has the biggest screen and the best sound system. Get some popcorn, sit back, and let yourself be taken on a fabulous ride of futuristic nostalgia.

Reality Check: FMB loved it as much as I did, but she and The Dark Lord also played Darth Vader's Theme as the music to accompany their first entrance as husband and wife at their wedding reception. And she can speak Elvish.

Two quotes from The Girl:
"Oh my god, I'm embarrased to be seen coming out of the theater with all these geeks. I mean come on - look at them all!"

"I'm never going to another one of these goddammed movies with you two again."

But I heard her laughing a few times. She just won't admit it.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:12 AM

The Hatemonger Speaks 

Back in June I put up a couple of postings on the writings of James Atticus Bowden, retired Army officer, and Defense Department consultant, who in his nonofficial capacity is a writer for the extremely far right, the author of such gems as references to judges as "black-robed priest kings" and dismissal of clergy members who are "sissy Christians" "in the arrogant pride of their inclusiveness, diversity, welcoming and progressiveness." To illegal immigrants he says, "Happy Thanksgiving, illegal immigrants, now leave. This is our American home, not a whorehouse." I also provided a link to an official paper he wrote while in the Army in 1985.

Yesterday he left a comment thanking me for finding the Steadfast paper (the official paper), and inquiring if I had found it online somewhere. I'm not fond of bloggers who use "um," but in this case I feel it's totally appropriate.

Um, yeah, I found it online. That's how I was able to provide the link to the online copy. At a website. Online.

But I do have to give him credit for his polite thanks and civil inquiry. It provides no insights into the workings of his multifaceted disdain for others, but at least he tried.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 8:53 AM
Friday, September 17, 2004

Marcel Marceau Radio Interview 

Right now Dick Gordon is interviewing Marcel Marceau on NPR's show The Connection. This is just playing with my reality. Marcel speaks!

If you're reading this before 12:00 Eastern time, you can go to the show website and view the webcam. Otherwise, you can also go to the site and listen to the audio.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 11:09 AM

ACS, Federalist Link Changes 

Sadly, I've had to remove the New England School of Law Federalist Society Blog from my link list. They've gone and removed it from the blogosphere. I chatted with the chapter president, and he felt it was just too much work. Too bad - I think blogs are a great way to create a presence for your group and to generate buzz.

In order to maintain a Federalist Society link of some sort (good to know what all sides are saying), I've added Ex Parte, the blog of Harvard's Federalist Society. Unlike the national ACS site, The national Federalist Society site doesn't appear to have a blog, so I opted for local.

Meanwhile, the American Constitution Society at NESL is getting off to a good start. We've had a lot of people express interest in getting involved, have gotten our probationary status as a student group, and have started our own blog. Hopefully we'll be able to elect an official executive board sometime next week, and can really get rolling.

The ACS members blog (not the official ACS blog) has an interesting post on Self-Destruction of the Federalist Concept, which articulates some of what was said during the multilateral debate that spontaneously developed at the student organization fair yesterday. Judging by the enthusiasm demonstrated in the discussion at the fair, I'd say this is a topic which generates a lot of passion. Cool.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 6:55 AM
Thursday, September 16, 2004

Blogrolling 

Anyone know what's up with Blogrolling.com? My link lists aren't working, and the site seems to have been diverted to Tucows.

I really hope I don't have to recreate my blog links. This will make for a very unhappy camper...

But on the bright side, Sky Captain opens tomorrow, and I've already secured the tickets. Gene Shalit apparently said, "If you don't like this film, you just don't like movies." Can't wait. The Girl, however, is going under duress and only with the bribe of dinner out beforehand.

UPDATE: Okay, moments after I posted this, Blogrolling appears to have come back online. But it's still a bit sluggish. Hmm. I may need to make some sort of snapshot backup of my links for peace of mind.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:11 PM

Film Clip Hypos 

I'm really enjoying my Evidence class. The professor is new to the school, so none of us had any insight to her style. She's intelligent and enthusiastic and all that good stuff, but the kicker is that she uses film clips to set up hypos! In case you hadn't noticed, I kind of enjoy movies, so this is like the best of both worlds. The first clip she used on the first day of class was from Thelma and Louise. I had a feeling this was going to be a good class.

Since then we've seen clips from such films as The Verdict, Anatomy of a Murder, Brother's Keeper, and Presumed Innocent.

Last night we got a clip from Broadcast News. It was one of my favorite Joan Cusack scenes, where she's the production assistant who has to run the just-edited videotape over to the news studio, where the broadcast has already started. In the middle of the run she hurdles over a small child in a hallway, then continues her mad dash. The hypo was to assume that she hadn't been as successful in her leap, and the child had been injured, but she had continued on in the same way as in the film. The parents were then suing for damages based on negligence. Could the plaintiff introduce witnesses to testify about her actions after the collision without running into a Rule 404(b) barrier?

Can't wait to see what she comes up with next.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:54 AM
Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Political Firing, Hiring 

I missed this until today, but last week a Georgia woman was fired from her manufacturing job because she refused to remove a John Kerry bumper sticker from her car. She had not discussed politics on her job or in the plant, but the plant owner had distributed pro-Bush pamphlets to all employees. Apparently her manager gaver her a message from the boss that she can either work for boss or for John Kerry.

She now works for John Kerry. The candidate read about the firing, and called her up to offer her a job on the campaign. A representative of the DNC apparently followed up the call, and will be working out the details with the newly re-employed Lynne Gobbell.



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Posted by Beth Henderson at 2:38 PM

New Study on Gays in the Military 

UCLA's Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military has released a new study on gay, lesbian and bisexual servicemembers deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many are serving openly in their units despite Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and the study finds that those who are not hiding have more success in performing their duties. The 52-page report can be viewed here.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 2:18 PM

Lost on ABC 

Now that an hour of my tv viewing time has been freed up by Fox's delay of Tru Calling, The Guyfriend has (not so) helpfully told me about ABC's upcoming series, Lost. I'm going to have to check it out.

Sci-Fi Wire has articles about the show here and here. The official show preview site is here, and there's a more informative unofficial fan site here. First of all, David Fury of Buffy fame is a co-executive producer. That alone is worthy of giving the pilot a shot. The show takes place on a South Pacific island where various mysterious and very unusual occurences take place. The cast is composed of the survivors of a plane crash onto the island. While freaky things happen, Fury assures us that there will be a rational explanation for everything... eventually. It might seem supernatural, but like Scully, they will figure out the scientific reason.

The cast includes Daniel Dae Kim (from Crusade, Angel, Enterprise, 24 and ER, among others) - yes, Gavin's back. That's at least two Buffy-Angel connections. For Lord of the Ring fans, there's Dominic Monaghan. There's also Josh Holloway, who played "Good-Looking Boy" in the first episode of Angel.

The show will be on Wednesdays at 8 pm, starting 9/22.
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UPDATE (9/23/04): The pilot (part I) was phenomenal! This will definitely be an addition to my regular commentaries. Check the Episode Index for specific shows as they are aired.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:28 AM

Audiobotany 

No, I'm not talking about talking to your plants. I'm talking about your plants singing to you. Yahoo News today is publicizing a Japanese export called Ka-On, a high tech vase that will turn your plants into a speaker system. A speaker phone model is expected soon.

No really, I'm serious!!! It apparently also keeps bugs away from the plants, and extends the longevity of cut flowers. But the system does work better with some plants than with others. Masumi Gotoh, the president of manufacturer Let's Corp., recommends Gerberas and sunflowers.

MSNBC's article includes a photo, which shows a Let's employee listening to calla lilies, but she's got her ear literally against the flower, so I don't know how useful it's going to be for actual use. Maybe for subliminal messages?

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:04 AM

Wonderfalls DVD 

And now for some happier news. The Wonderfalls DVD is tentatively scheduled for release December 7, according to SaveWonderfalls.com. The four-disc set will include all 13 of the episodes (9 of which never aired), plus special features and commentaries. I know what I want for Christmas this year...

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 8:42 AM

Tru Calling Delayed, Episodes Reduced 

Sci-Fi Wire reports today that Fox is delaying Tru Calling to a midseason slot, and might cut the episode order to 6 from 13. What is with their timing? This was a crappy show almost all season, but I kept watching because it was like a car wreck or a loose tooth. I had to keep watching and checking. And then it actually started to get better at the end of the season. And then they signed on Jane Espenson. There was hope! But it's Fox, darling of the reality show fans, so not really so much hope.

But what really kills me is that when Fox renewed Tru Calling in the spring, they apparently promoted this as "their willingness to be patient and give shows with potential time to find an audience," according to the Hollywood Reporter (SFW quotes them, but I can't find the original HR article).

Yeah, that's why they killed Wonderfalls after four episodes. This was a show that generated an instant following and rave reviews. It was nominated for Outstanding New Program, even though it was no longer on the air! Patience my fucking ass.

More probable is that it's cheaper and faster to produce reality shows. I guess they have an even bigger car wreck/loose tooth appeal. The masses keep watching, and the advertisers pay for eyeballs NOW, not after an audience develops.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 8:19 AM
Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Holy Nanotubes, Your Honor! Space Law Moot Court 

Boley Blogs! today highlighted the announcement of the 2005 Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition. View the problem here. It has to do with construction of a space elevator utilizing carbon nanotube technology, competing sovereignties, laser weapons and 23,000 miles of Super String. What more could a sci-fi geek law student ask for?

Amazon link:

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 6:48 PM

Legislating the Courts 

ACSBlog has a post which mentions H.R. 3799, the proposed "Constitution Restoration Act of 2004." The summary they gave appeared a bit frightening in the limitations it would place on federal courts, so I dug into the original sources. Still frightened.

You can find the text of the bill here. Basically, it bars federal courts from addressing questions of official acknowledgment of "God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government," and from looking to any foreign government or agency when it comes to questions of US Constitutional interpretation. It would also make nonbinding on the states any federal decision (at any time, past, present or future) which did either of these two prohibited things. It also makes violation of the act an impeachable offense.

The House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property held hearings on the bill yesterday. The submitted texts from the witnesses are at these pages: Roy Moore (yes, the former Alabama Chief Justice), William Dannemeyer, Arthur Hellman, and Michael Gerhardt. You can view the webcast here.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 2:38 PM

Supreme Court 2004-2005 Cases 

On the Docket has posted up this handy-dandy guide to cases accepted by the US Supreme Court for the coming term. The chart is organized by Docket Number, and includes a brief listing of the issues involved, as well as links to more background on each case.

They also have a separate listing by assigned oral argument date, which is great if you're more interested in what's coming up in a particular timeframe, but this page doesn't include the issue list. It does include the case links, however. Oral arguments have been assigned through October 13 at this point.

You can also find links to submitted briefs on the Briefs page of the American Bar Association site's Supreme Court Preview section.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 11:14 AM

Charmed - A Call to Arms 

Leo's conflicted and tormented, Phoebe is having work/personal life issues and makes out with a guy she just met, Paige seeks a new hobby, Piper is having motherhood/Charmed One issues, and Darryl looks like a big doofus. Yep, same old same old.

And dear god WHY did they have to bring Barbas back? Billy Drago just makes my skin crawl. Uck - this character is just so slimey and smarmy, and I just don't buy his all-powerful manipulating abilities. If he could be that effective over Charmed Ones and Elders, wouldn't he have pretty much taken over the world by now?

What's new?

-Phoebe is adjusting her work schedule in order to clear her head and redefine her priorities. No, she sort of did that when she went off to Hong Kong.

-There's going to be an ongoing storyline involving the non-Hogwart's magic school. No, that's what dragged us down last season.

-Two of our heroes were transformed into gods! No, they've definitely done that one before.

-The fate of the world depends on the copulating activities of Leo and Piper! Done way more times than my stomach can handle.

-Paige will be throwing herself wholely and completely into her new mission. Right, like she's ever understood the meaning of "moderation."

-Darryl is torn between his loyalty to the Halliwells and the pressures put on him by his job and his new partner who is determined to expose them for... something. She doesn't know what, but she KNOWS they're up to SOMETHING!!! So done.

-Phoebe is attracted to a guy she met through work. Yeah, right, that's new. Gag.

So what really is new? Yes, I think there were one or two things we can count as new as long as we don't dwell on it for any length of time.

-Gideon is out of the picture. I have hope for the school storyline, since Gideon was the one thing that really bugged me about it. The new story is: Gideon was the only one who could keep the elders from closing it, now he's gone so we're giving up, but Paige is now going to lead the fight, blah blah blah. She feels strongly that they need the school to teach the next generation, because otherwise they'll have to learn magic from the precocious and possibly evil kid on the playground, and you know how well that always works out. Then again, none of the Halliwells had a school in which to learn their craft, and they're doing pretty well. No, wait. They're royally screwed up. Okay - Go Paige!

-No mention of P3. At all. By anyone. Piper apparently hasn't left the house in the two months since Little Chris was born, Paige has been almost as entirely cooped up, and Phoebe has been totally focused on her advice column.

-Piper with six arms. The CGI was uneven here. Sometimes it was cool, sometimes the arms were rather transparent. Literally. Like ghost arms. But it worked well for her, since she finally had enough hands to multitask efficiently like she's always wanted. Seriously, I think she was overexposed to the Enjoli commercial when she was a child.

-Piper's gutteral voice when she told Barbas "No!" Where the hell did that come from? I had to Tivo instant replay it a couple of times. Was this just some oddity of sound recording, or was the animalistic, borderline demonic (think Exorcist) tone foretelling of something?

-Leo killed an elder. And Piper is planning on keeping it a secret from the rest of the magical world. And Leo seems to be going along with the plan. Now this is new - a chink in the armor of righteousness. I LIKE IT!

Now move it along and bring on Charisma Carpenter!

Next week: Phoebe is transformed into Lady Godiva. Yes, that means she'll be naked. Yes, this is still The WB.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 8:28 AM
Monday, September 13, 2004

Explosion: Yes. Forest Fire: No. Mountain: Gone. 

North Korea has finally spoken about last week's mysterious cloud and its cause. They claim to have blown up a mountain as part of a hydroelectric project. Word came through British Foreign Office Minister Bill Rammell, who says the explanation was given to him today by North Korean Foreign Minister Paek Nam Sun. The government is also reportedly allowing a British ambassador to visit the site, perhaps tomorrow.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:46 AM

Jersey Girl 

Why is it that Ben Affleck is so much better when he's in a Kevin Smith film than when he's working for any other director? I'm not as big an Affleck basher as The Girl is, but he has come off as rather one-dimensional and wooden in some of his efforts. But when he's working for Smith, he wins me over every time.

Speaking of Kevin Smith, he wanted this to be the tagline for the Jersey Girl promos: "You'd have to be a totally jaded dick not to like this movie." While I probably would have phrased it differently, I totally agree.

Jersey Girl is the story of single dad Ollie Trinke (Affleck) and his 7-year-old daughter, Gertie (Raquel Castro). This is a romantic comedy of sorts (including good use of the Big Chase Scene), but while there is some grown-up romance early between Ollie and Gertrude (Jennifer Lopez), his wife who dies in childbirth, and later between Ollie and Maya (Liv Tyler), the local video store clerk, the real romance is between Ollie and his daughter, as they each learn how important they are to each other, and what sacrifices each would make to ensure the other's happiness.

Also providing substance is George Carlin as Ollie's dad and to some extent his conscience. Plus there are a number of cameos, as in any Kevin Smith project.

Pick up the DVD and a box of tissues - you'll need them a number of times.

Reality Check: The Girl liked this one as well. She was still blowing her nose an hour after the end credits. Of course whenever we watch something that makes one of us cry (happy or sad tears), we have to check with each other to make sure we're not alone in the sappiness. We were in this one together.

Amazon links:

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:02 AM
Sunday, September 12, 2004

Cloud: Yes. Explosion: Unknown? 

According to Reuters, Condoleeza Rice is now casting doubt on whether the big cloud was even caused by an explosion:
"We don't think, at this point, that it was a nuclear event. But we're looking at it and we'll get further analysis," national security adviser Condoleezza Rice (news - web sites) said on CNN's "Late Edition."

Then further on:
Rice played down sightings of mushroom cloud. "There are all kinds of reports and there are all kinds of assessments that are going on. Maybe it was a fire, some kind of forest fire," she said.

So now the preferred bottom line is: Big Boom. Or not. Big Cloud. Definitely a big cloud. But maybe it's a Forest Fire. Yeah, that's it! A Forest Fire. That's the ticket! But wait - wouldn't they have been able to use that fancy satellite imagery to detect the ongoing presence of a heat source if it were a simple forest fire causing a 2-mile cloud? And I thought I read something about a crater and unusual seismic activity? Where was this kind of caution and resistance to conclusion-jumping when we were invading Iraq?

Also note that the area in question is off-limits to aid workers and all other outsiders.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 1:32 PM

Heart, With Anne McCue 

Off we went to FleetBoston Pavilion last evening to see Heart, with opening act Anne McCue.

Word to the wise: don't rely on a navigation system to get around Boston anywhere near the Big Dig. It gets very confused. The street layout changes daily, and it doesn't understand that when you're in the central artery tunnel you're not on the surface, and you can't take a right turn. A couple of times it told us "You have arrived," when we were deep underground. We ended up taking a tour of the tunnels, actually, including the Callahan and Ted Williams. It was rather distracting seeing our location map in the Ted Williams Tunnel. The little arrow representing us was moving along the white line, and the rest of the screen was a blue expanse representing the harbor. But eventually we made it.

The opening act was Anne McCue, of whom I had never heard, but with whom I was impressed. For the most part it was just her and one of her several guitars, both electric and acoustic, picking, strumming, slide. Folk, rock, blues, clear powerful voice, pretty good brief patter between tunes. She finished up with a Hendrix number (Machine Gun), and was joined onstage by Heart's bass and drum players. She's good.

Then came Heart. They've still got it. Hard rocking, amazing pipes, lots of energy. But they didn't hold my attention all the time. When they were kicking it out I was right there, but when they'd slow it down even a bit, I found my thoughts wandering.

"Geez, look at the turnbuckles holding this tent up. Glad it's not raining, it might blow in through that opening. Is that guy lighting a joint? When did Barracuda come out? I think we played it at middle school dances, so that would have been maybe 1977. I was 12 or 13, and they were in their 20's at least, so now maybe they're in their early 50's. My sister's that age. I wonder if she could rock out like that. Yeah, she probably could. If she played guitar. And sang. Hey, Ann kind of reminds me of Jack Black. He could probably do a good impression of her. I'm kind of hungry. Glad we ordered those fried clams ahead, because the line at the Clam Box was really long. But now I'm hungry again. Oh - they're rocking again. Cool."

At one point they gave a pitch for voter registration, which you could do there. This motivated a bunch of guys to start chanting "Four More Years, Four More Years!" But they chilled out fairly quickly when no one joined in. Then later when they introduced the band, unfortunately they let the bass player have the mike. "Just two things: Rock the Vote, and Fuck the Yankees!" He then pranced around a bit while giving the middle finger salute, in kind of a "Yeah, baby - I'm bad!" kind of way. Apparently there had just been too much hard-rocking estrogen floating around, and this little show of testosterone was all the boys oin the audience needed to start bellowing, "Yan-kees Suck, Yan-Kees Suck!" This went on longer than the Four More Years chant, but was in the exact same rhythm. They must be so proud of themselves, having mastered not one but two three-syllable phrases.

Anyway, they wrapped up their second encore (and can it really count as an encore, when it's clearly just part of the plan? They keep the stage lighting flashing, the crew changes out the guitars as soon as they leave the stage, and when they've come back and finished what they've decided to do, the house lights come back on and we're expected to leave. Shouldn't the encore(s) be based on audience response and demand?) with a couple of Led Zeppelin covers, which they were perfectly suited to and performed marvelously. Then came the battle of the parking lot and we were on our way home.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 11:54 AM

Explosion: Yes. Type: Unknown. 

So the AP headline today is "Powell Says N. Korea Blast Not Nuclear." Well, that's not exactly what he said, according to the full article:
"There was no indication that was a nuclear event of any kind. Exactly what it was, we're not sure," Powell said on ABC's "This Week."
Bottom line: something went boom. Really big boom. Really big cloud. Lots of seismic activity. No comment from North Korea or their closest ally, China.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 11:46 AM
Saturday, September 11, 2004

Say It With a Mushroom Cloud 

It appears that North Korea may have detonated a nuclear device Thursday on the occasion of the anniversary of the founding of the country. A South Korean news agency is reporting a mushroom cloud over 2 miles in diameter, and a crater that was spotted by satellite. From the AP report:
"North Korea was founded Sept. 9, 1948. Leader Kim Jong Il uses the occasion to stage performances and other events to bolster loyalty among the impoverished North Korean population. "

Nothing like a big explosion to rally the impoverished citizenry. Of course, food would be good too if they felt like going that route.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 11:58 PM

Have It Your Way - Or Not 

Is it really that freaking much to ask that they actually put in the bag the sweet and sour sauce that I asked for with my Chicken McNuggets? Do they just like to see people walk back after they've pulled away from the drive-through area?

When I go back to the pick up window because the inside is closed, and ask for the sweet and sour sauce I had requested earlier, is the sarcastic "ooookaaaay" really necessary? Like it's just such a wacky notion, getting some of the sauce that was designed to go with the nuggets, actually WITH the nuggets? Silly me...

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 11:44 PM
Friday, September 10, 2004

New Melissa Live 

I found on LesbiaNation.com an announcement that Melissa Etheridge is releasing a new concert DVD and CD on September 28. Lucky Live was filmed during the concert at NYC's Roseland Ballroom this year, and includes live versions of all the tracks from the Lucky CD, plus the unreleased track "Good Girls and Boys," plus commentary, a day in the life documentary and an interview. The CD has the audio tracks from the concert.

Amazon link:

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 1:49 PM
Thursday, September 09, 2004

Collateral 

Collateral is a movie about indecision, inaction, and what a difference a fare makes. A really well-made movie.

Tom Cruise is a fully detached hit man, Jamie Foxx is a temporary cab driver in his 12th year, Jada Pinkett Smith is a US Attorney and Mark Ruffalo is an LA narcotics cop in this introspective action thriller. The camera work is great, the pacing is nicely balanced between quiet transitions and fast-moving shootouts, and the soundtrack is worth purchasing.

Reality Check: The Girl liked it as well. "Much better than The Bourne Supremacy."

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 5:39 PM
Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Hawaii Public Site Ban Law 

MercuryNews.com reports that the ACLU has filed suit against the State of Hawaii on behalf of Carlos Hernandez, a library patron who was using a library computer to view GayHawaii.com, a website which provides travel, tourist and business information for people living in or visiting Hawaii. A security guard issued Hernandez a written "warning" that he was to leave the building and would be banned for one year. In response to an inquiry by a local gay rights group, a library official said that the guard took the action because there were photographs of shirtless men on the site, and that while she didn't agree with the action there is nothing she can do to change it.

The law was apparently intended to keep squatters from public sites such as campgrounds and beaches. The ACLU argues that because there are no guidelines for use of the statute, nor any avenue for appeals, it is open for abuse. Hawaii's Attorney General contends that:
the ACLU's lawsuit is based on the flawed premise that authorities would abuse the law. "Just because a statute is capable of being abused, doesn't mean that the statute is unconstitutional," Bennett said.

It sounds like the present case is proof of just such abuse.

The ACLU site has a more detailed description of the suit and the legal arguments behind it. The statute in question is Act 50, which was enacted earlier this year.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 6:40 AM