Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Wednesday Steps

Off to the dentist this morning, so not much time to wander through the headlines in search of stories of interest that cross our paths at the start of another cold day.

Shlock: I felt like throwing my meerschaum pipe at my computer screen this morning after watching the trailer for the new Sherlock Holmes movie made by the director who married Madonna.

What do outracing fireballs, gladiatorial combat and sex bondage have to do with the cerebral Baker Street detective?? It's elementary, Watson: Hollywood thinks we're all illiterate idiots.

From the official movie site: "In a dynamic new portrayal of Arthur Conan Doyle's most famous characters, 'Sherlock Holmes' sends Holmes and his stalwart partner Watson on their latest challenge. Revealing fighting skills as lethal as his legendary intellect, Holmes will battle as never before to bring down a new nemesis and a deadly plot that could destroy the country."

Justice: Walter Williams' latest column "Empathy vs Law", on President Obama's pledge to find a new Supreme Court judge with "empathy":

A referee's job, whether he is a football referee or a Supreme Court justice, is to know the rules of the game and make sure that they are evenly applied without bias. Do we want referees to allow empathy to influence their decisions? Let's look at it using this year's Super Bowl as an example.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have won six Super Bowl titles, seven AFC championships and hosted 10 conference games. No other AFC or NFC team can match this record. By contrast, the Arizona Cardinals' last championship victory was in 1947 when they were based in Chicago. In anyone's book, this is a gross disparity. Should the referees have the empathy to understand what it's like to be a perennial loser and what would you think of a referee whose decisions were guided by his empathy? Suppose a referee, in the name of compensatory justice, stringently applied pass interference or roughing the passer violations against the Steelers and less stringently against the Cardinals. Or, would you support a referee who refused to make offensive pass interference calls because he thought it was a silly rule? You'd probably remind him that the league makes the rules, not referees.

I'm betting that most people would agree that football justice requires that referees apply the rules blindly and independent of the records or any other characteristic of the two teams.

Absurd: Pennsylvania lawmakers try to rebalance the scales of justice for home-baked charity: "If church members can't prepare a home-cooked meal or dessert and take it to the church for fellow members or the local community to enjoy, what's next?"
An Agriculture Department inspector fired the first salvo in the baked goods battle during Lent after spotting home-baked pies in St. Cecilia Catholic Church in Rochester. The church was told it's against the law to sell pies, cookies and cakes baked at home.
"Food prepared in a private home can only be used if that facility is licensed/ registered and inspected by the department," state regulations say. The department adopted retail food rules in 2003 to keep pace with changing food science.
Some lawmakers say now is not to the time to raise the issue, and suggest their colleagues need to focus on more important tasks such as working out the state's budget.
Others say spending cuts could force state government to abandon some programs, and that allowing churches and other groups to sell home-baked goods could help them fill a funding gap.
The proposed legislation "seems frivolous, but it's probably not," Rep. Carl Walker Metzgar, R-Bedford/Somerset.
Churches and nonprofits that rely on homemade baked goods to raise money for schools and other programs were surprised by the little-known rule.
"It kind of hits you in the face that government oversteps its bounds sometimes," said the Rev. Michael Greb, pastor at St. Cecilia. "No one wants to be rebellious to the law, but the law is absurd."

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