Category Archives: Links

Farewell to Argle-Bargle, Jiggery Pokery, and all that

The passing of Justice Antonin Scalia of the US Supreme Court, on Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016.  Here’s the in-depth obituary in the NY Times, by Adam Liptak.

Check out the link to NPR’s Nina Totenberg’s remembrance of J. Scalia.   I liked how Totenberg explained some questions of concern – the work of the US Supreme will still continue (that’s a given), but if there’s a 4-4 tie on some cases, there won’t be precedential value for some cases beyond the circuits of the cases’ origins.

Slate’s Jordan Weissmann has some analysis on what might occur with some cases, including the affirmative action case (which is back at the US Supreme Court again).  (I’ll also link Weissmann’s article on how the phrases “jiggery-pokery” and “pure applesauce” became part of the mythos of Scalia).

Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick on how J. Scalia captivated us, even when a whole lot of us may have vehemently disagreed with him.  There really won’t be a US S.Ct. justice like him anymore (probably, anyway).  Lithwick’s remembrance of Scalia is also worth a read.

Personally, I wish we didn’t have to be so partisan right away about who will replace Scalia, since his passing was so sudden and shocking.

But, of course, the debating went into high gear, with the Republicans already decrying the idea of any confirmation of a prospective nominee.  President Obama is still president, and he has a job to do – pick a nominee for the Court.  If the Senate won’t do its job… well, I guess it’s on them.

See here in the NY Times by Carl Hulse and Mark Landler about how the battle lines are drawn.   And, as Lithwick noted, Obama has a lot of prospective nominees; it’s not like there isn’t a whole load of choices, even possibly moderate ones.

The Republicans might very well hit new level of ludicrousness here.   We might want to revisit how this country handled, say, the failed nomination of Abe Fortas under the Lyndon B. Johnson administration, or the confirmed nomination of Anthony Kennedy under Ronald Reagan’s administration (under the final year of that administration, at that). But, we really haven’t had anything like this at all in modern history, at least nothing that might last a full year of a vacancy.

(NPR has an overview on the time frames and nominations of yore).

PBS NewsHour also has a nice review on how ugly this could get, without a hope of compromise (at least, nothing on the horizon, anyway).

It’s easy for me to blame the Republicans, from the armchair quarterback position.  It’s not like I’m the one making appointments or confirming them.  I did a search of Scalia in past posts on the triscribe blog, and as I said here in the post on Jeffrey Toobin’s book, The Oath,  about how things could get messy (and that was my commentary about the nomination of Srikanth “Sri” Srinivasan to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (later confirmed)): realistically and in a fair-minded way, I think it might even get hard to figure out who to blame in the long run (if, say, the President doesn’t pick a perfectly good candidate to make the Republicans look foolish here).

But, maybe it’s not about blaming anyone; maybe it’s about making sure that things get done and we don’t get stupid?  Or is that wishful thinking on my part?

At least there isn’t total ugliness: let’s remember that J. Scalia and J. Ginsburg had a warm friendship, despite the political and jurisprudential differences.  (I thought this article at by Dara Lind was interesting about that, in light of how uncivil our world is these days).  People are people and maybe we could look to our better angels and how we can be good to each other.

Oh, well, on a ice cold Valentine’s Day, there is a lot of food for thought.  Stay warm!

Post-Snowmageddon 2016

Some wrap up on the storm!  Last week this time, we were in the tail end of the blizzard.  There are various names for it – Snowpocalypse, Snowmaggedon, etc. I went with Snowmaggedon simply because it was a lot; I did not call it “Jonah” just because I was not giving in to the Weather Channel’s ridiculous naming conventions of winter storms (no, Weather Channel, these storms aren’t like hurricanes).

Of course, because the blizzard happened on a Saturday, it wasn’t a snow day that disrupted the workday. And, I had predicted no snow accumulation at all, a few days before the storm; I was shocked that, by 11am Saturday, 1/23/16, the thing was a blizzard and was going to be less than two feet.  It wasn’t like I did math or anything, of course…

Anyway, I generally thought that the city did a decent job – the travel ban more or less got people off the streets; the MTA didn’t totally go overboard, even though removing bus and removing subways from exterior lines were measures that left everybody but Manhattan (well, more or less) without travel anyway.  More specifically, however, on Facebook, I did gripe  about how the street corners/crosswalks were in awful shape by Sunday evening, 1/24/16, and questioned who was responsible for that, since clearly no one anything.

On the Monday after the blizzard, 1/25/16, Gothamist had a good post on the problem at street corners/crosswalks. I agree that this is a yearly problem, but I ended up not e-mailing my city councilman about it, since the melting happened so fast by Tuesday, 1/26/16 (hitting more than 40 degrees, short of 50 degrees, Fahrenheit can do that easily).  NY Times says that the job of clearing snow to the corners belongs to the property owners adjacent to that sidewalk, but I think that enforcement – in the form of hefty fines – is clearly not happening. Someday we have to figure this out in a better way, if only to ensure public safety. Sigh.

Also, the perennial question appeared to be who will the city leave behind/forget in the process of plowing.  Given that this was a historic blizzard, I was curious, and lo and behold, it looked like Queens, the biggest borough, made the stink about how their neighborhoods didn’t get plowed (Staten Island came awfully lose, when I was watching the news late that Sunday night). I’m not going to belittle how Queens got buried, but considering how every mayor since John Lindsay has tried so hard to save Queens from snow, I do wonder why we haven’t figured out how to do better by now with Queens.

Bob Hardt over at NY1’s Inside City Hall’s blog, raised the point in his post about the plowing that, the city did a decent job and unfortunately, someone is going to be the last plowed, but the city ought to review and revise the plowing plan.

Then, the NY TImes covered how the city had a new plowing plan and that it clearly didn’t do that great a job for Queens. Apparently, after the December 2010 – day after Christmas mess which stranded a lot of us in south Brooklyn and the rest of the outerboroughs – Sanitation modified the usual plowing of primary, secondary, and tertiary streets, and used a so-called two level process, critical and sector. I thought the NY Times article was interesting for explaining the process, but didn’t quite fully explain what happened.

Frankly, I had no idea that Sanitation wasn’t doing their usual primary, secondary, and tertiary plowing during the blizzard. Then again, it sounds like a lot of finger pointing going on, so the city and the media might actually want to thoroughly investigate what happened and what might be a better system, so we don’t ended up leaving people buried and stranded again.

My theory – which is hardly based on any real scientific research on my part, of course – is that we’ll have more weird, wacky storms with the climate instability.  We might want to learn to adapt somehow, but it sure is going to cost us…

Anyway, if we’re lucky, we might not see more snow for awhile yet? And, the snow was a generally better distraction compared to a lot of other bad news in the world.

A Review of Reading/Literary Highlights 2015

As a follow up to the 2014 analysis, here’s the analysis of 2015.  At a total of 43 books, the count in the year 2015 was the least I’ve read since I started keeping track of my reading since 2009, a year in which I had started my count late and so I couldn’t say what was the total that year).  The list for 2015 is this post.  The breakdowns for the 2015 reading are as follows:

7 non-fiction; 34 fiction; 2 poetry; 14 ebooks; 1 history/literary criticism; 1 memoirs; 4 literary fiction books; 2 romance novels; 17 comics/graphic novels; 1 anthology; 5 mystery/suspense/thriller books; 2 in the category of meditation/psychology/medicine/self-help/lifestyle type books; 6 approximately children books (not counting the comics/graphic novels); and 1 career development book.

I did a check, out of curiosity, to see the gender and/or racial/ethnic breakdowns of the authors.  About 6 were women writers/co-writers (not counting any in Manhattan Noir 2).  I was terrible with people of color as writers/co-writers; possibly two or three, not counting those behind the comics/graphic novels.  The reality is that I was haphazard with my reading; I’d have to be more conscious and active in deciding what I read and who I read, to have a more diverse reading.  Will I do that in 2016?  That remains to be seen; I haven’t made such a specific or concrete resolution.

I tackled some heavier reading with Virginia Woolf, William Faulkner, Jane Austen, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s book was for my book club meeting this year, actually).  Austen’s Mansfield Park was very much not my favorite; it took forever to read and wasn’t that much intriguing.  I couldn’t get into Woolf’s The Years; the idea of taking in the moment is always a good idea, but I couldn’t “get” it – it wasn’t about a story and that made it harder for me to swallow.

I really binged for a period in reading ebooks for awhile there.  As usual, thanks to the public libraries, Brooklyn Public Library and New York Public Library, for much of the books and ebooks.  As usual, by November, I didn’t do reading because of NaNoWriMo.

In 2015, I still didn’t finish Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass or Linda Greenhouse’s Becoming Justice Blackman.  I still didn’t get to reading Umberto Eco’s In the Name of the Rose or Shakespeare’s King Lear.  Due to work, I didn’t get to go to much book club meetings.  I read a lot of my issues of bar association magazines, since I was behind, but I’m behind on reading everything (forget watching television; my watching television in 2015 was also pathetic).  2015 was strangely disappointing, honestly.

Books purchases were mostly from the independent bookstores (thanks, Strand; Housing Works; and McNally Jackson).  Online book purchases were still from Barnes and Noble and Amazon.

Literary notable things in 2015: Brooklyn Book Festival!  MoCCA Arts Festival (comics and graphic novels galore).  And, I completed (well, for NaNoWriMo purposes “completed”) yet another NaNoWriMo project.  I had checked out the Ernest Hemingway exhibit at the Morgan Library & Museum; very impressive.  The exhibit motivated me to read a Hemingway book, and I liked reading Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast at the end of the year.

Hopefully I will have a better year of reading in 2016.

(cross-posted at