Saturday, January 25, 2003

Experts Pick. Twelve of the ESPN experts pick the Bucs to win tomorrow, versus 5 who pick the Raiders. Meanwhile, over at SI, the experts back the Raiders 4-1.

Friday, January 24, 2003

Go Raiders. Beat the Bucs.

As a fan, I really wish there was a two week break -- there have been so many stories on my team, and I'm so overloaded right now, I've missed many.

Thankfully, there is Christian Raider fan (hey, watch it -- that's no oxymoron) Darth Freeman's Raider News and Opinion webpage.
We wear the Silver,
We wear the Black
We never retreat,
We always attack.
Master Key Defect -- There's a story in the NYTimes announcing an ATT researcher is publishing a defect in the system of master-keys that would allow someone to easily defeat a lock system on a building that is master-keyed. The paper quotes Marc Weber Tobias, "a locks expert who works as a security consultant to law enforcement agencies" as saying "I view the problem as pretty serious," he said, adding that the technique was so simple, "an idiot could do it." The story also notes that this is known to some locksmiths: "The technique is not news to locksmiths, said Lloyd Seliber, the head instructor of master-key classes for Schlage . . ."

As an idiot and former locksmith, I want to toss in my thoughts. I'm pretty sure I know what the paper is referring to -- it's not expressly laid out -- but it's something that I explored when I was minding the lock and key shop late at night. Actually, I think most locksmiths enjoy puzzling out locks -- figuring out how to defeat them. In the shop, when not repairing locks or servicing customers, you generally practiced picking locks -- it's like some people do crossword puzzles or play computer solitaire.

Locks that are accessible to a master-key are generally easier to pick to begin with -- just because there are more possible solutions than those locks that are not master-keyed. Similarly, there are buildings, like a dorm, where there might be one building-wide master key, as well as separate master-keys that will open a floor of rooms or a suite of offices. The more master keys, the more solutions and the easier it is to solve or pick. What the ATT researcher has discovered is that it is pretty easy to deduce the configuration of a masterkey if you have one existing key -- say a visitor takes a restroom key and makes a quick imprint. By cutting your own master key, you can get into rooms without worrying about picking each door.

[As an aside, there are some locksmiths that are so good with a pick that it's as if they were using a master key -- nothing slows them down. I was not one of those.]

Actually, there's an easy solution -- don't have a master-key.

If you buy a new house, go out and get new locks -- make sure they're keyed to the same key and that there's no master-lock. While Kwikset locks are the most common, they are easy to pick. I like Schlage -- but not because they're any more difficult to pick (although, compared to Kwikset, they are) -- but because they're pretty strong locks.

If you really want security, go with Medeco locks.
Roe and Refs. This is an intermission on my notes on the Roe v. Wade case (sorry, it's been one of those weeks). I was just talking with a friend -- a Giants fan -- about the Super Bowl and we each agreed that the worst scenario -- even worse than losing a blowout -- is losing by a bad call by a referee.

Roe v. Wade was a bad call. Not just because it made abortion -- in my view the killing of babies -- legally permitted. Yes that was bad, but the problem is that there is no reason for the Court to have ruled the way it did. What it did was a lot like if the referee waved off a winning touchdown by saying there was a rule that said you couldn't throw a pass to anyone wearing a jersey number with double digits with less than two minutes left in a game.

Don't take my word for it -- look at this story by law professor Kermit Roosevelt or this one by the strongly pro-abortion reporter Tony Mauro.

Roosevelt writes:
For years now, there has been a serious disconnection between the popular perception of Roe and its standing among constitutional law scholars. It is now time to address that disconnect; it is time to admit in public that, as an example of the practice of constitutional opinion writing, Roe is a serious disappointment. You will be hard-pressed to find a constitutional law professor, even among those who support the idea of constitutional protection for the right to choose, who will embrace the opinion itself rather than the result.

This is not surprising. As constitutional argument, Roe is barely coherent. The court pulled its fundamental right to choose more or less from the constitutional ether.
Mauro quotes Jeffrey Rosen and descibes him thusly,
liberal George Washington University Law School professor and legal affairs editor at The New Republic, likens the ruling to "the mad grandfather in the attic that no one wants to look at. It's a lingering embarrassment." He adds, "The remarkable thing about Roe is that 30 years later, scholars are still trying to find a good rationale for it."

Of course, the gulf between making a mistake on the field and one in the Court is huge -- wider than the gulf between galaxies. If you make a mistake on the field, you can admit it like the NFL did and it aggravates a large number of fans for years. If you make a mistake as a Justice, people die, you destablize the law, the government and society; you politicize the courts for decades; you destroy legitimacy. Oh, and people die -- 40,000,000 in the past 30 years. Who was it, Noonan or Dreher, who wrote in the past week that it's the same as killing off everyone in New York City and California.

Since I've been doing this blog, I've mentioned the Shapiro Conjecture, by USA Today columnist, which, if you haven't read, you really should. This is the best brief explanation of how Roe has distorted the political process in the past 30 years.

This was a profoundly bad decision.

BTW -- since I mentioned the refs and the Super Bowl -- here is a list of the refs and here is an article about the head referee, Mike Carollo.

Thursday, January 23, 2003

Who's Birthday? My wife told me that yesterday, the 30th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, my son's first question to her was "Who's birthday is it today?" With a catch in her voice she said "Nobody -- it's nobody's birthday today."

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

What Did Roe Decide? Part II In his "brief survey [of] the history of abortion," the first thing Blackmun "feels" compelled to do is to knock the blocks out from The Hippocratic Oath, which states, in part, "I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy." Blackmun determines that "the Oath originated in a group representing only a small segment of Greek opinion" which slowly became adopted by more and more and then "the emerging teachings of Christianity" embraced it. (page 132). Next, he looks briefly at the common law, the English law, American law, the American Medical Association, the American Public Health Association and, last, the American Bar Association.

More to come...

Update [Just realized I never pushed the "publish" button.] See these comments by a doctor who took the Oath a year and a half after the Roe decision and how the Oath was modified:
The ruling had an immediate effect on the practice and ethics of medicine. No longer would my obstetrics professor tell his students that his was a unique specialty, that he always had two patients to consider, mother and child. Now only when the mother wanted the child did we treat two patients. When the mother didn’t want the child, no consideration would be given to the unborn’s humanity. It was no longer a child but a blob of tissue, a “product of conception,” a parasitic entity or whatever the mother chose to call “it.” For the first time, every doctor in every state could legally kill another human being. On my pediatric rotation that year, I helped to resuscitate a child who was born four months prematurely crying aloud, struggling to breathe. She was the result of a failed abortion. She was wizened and burned from the hypertonic saline used to try to kill her on the hospital floor just below the nursery. I can still see her clearly in my mind’s eye.

One and a half years after Roe v. Wade, when I graduated, something else very profound had happened. The Hippocratic Oath we took, that had stood medicine in good stead for 2400 years, had been changed. The part about refusing to give a woman a pessary to induce an abortion had been deleted.
What Did Roe Decide? Part I. Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113, decided 30 years ago today, was a lengthy. sweeping opinion which addressed a number of issues. I'd like to look at exactly what the Court announced in Roe, and then the Doe v. Bolton case, which accompanied it. I'll break it down into segments, this first dealing with some of the preliminary issues, not related directly to abortion.

According to the Justice Blackmun's opinion, the case was initially filed by Jane Roe, which we now know was the psuedonym for Norma McCorvey (see her story here). McCorvey, represented by Sarah Weddington, sought a declaratory judgment that the Texas criminal abortion statutes were unconstitutional and an injunction restraining the District Attorney in Dallas from enforcing the statutes. Her petition for relief was amended several times, first, to seek class relief. Second, she was joined by a local doctor, James Hubert Hallford, who wanted to perform abortions. Last, to complete the legal strategy, a pseudonymous married couple, John and Mary Doe (not to be confused with the Mary Doe in the companion case from Georgia) were also added.

First the Court had to address a number of issues, namely whether the named parties had standing to challenge the Texas laws and, somewhat related, whether the parties actually had a stake in the controversy. The second issue was a particular problem for Jane Roe who had filed the case in March, 1970, claiming to be pregnant at that time. Since it was over 1,000 days from the filing of the case to the Supreme Court's decision and the normal pregnancy runs about 266 days. Blackmun noted that the birth of a child
makes a case moot, pregnancy litigation seldom will survive much beyond the trial stage, and appellate review will be effectively denied. Our law should not be that rigid. Pregnancy often comes more than once to the same woman, and in the general population, if man is to survive, it will always be with us. Pregnancy provides a classic justification for a conclusion of nonmootness. It truly could be "capable of repetition, yet evading review."
Actually, I must admit that I am being kind to the Justice, because he didn't say birth of the child, he wrote "the normal 266-day human gestation period is so short that the pregnancy will come to term" and then referred to the event we know as birth as "that termination." [I pause here to wonder about Harry's childhood -- did he have a happy termination day, I wonder.]

In any event, the Court held "Jane Roe had standing to undertake this litigation, that she presented a justiciable controversy, and that the termination of her 1970 pregnancy has not rendered her case moot." Interestingly, especially in light of the rest of the opinion, and what would develop, the Court held that the physician and the married couple did not have standing to challenge. Referring to the married couple, Blackmun wrote: "Their alleged injury rests on possible future contraceptive failure, possible future pregnancy, possible future unpreparedness for parenthood, and possible future impairment of health."

Next, the Court (or to be honest, Justice Blackmun) devotes 18 pages to what he "feels" is a "desirable brief[ ] survey, in several aspects, the history of abortion, for such insight as that history may afford us, and then to examine the state purposes and interests behind the criminal abortion laws." (pp 130-147)

Tuesday, January 21, 2003

Roe's progeny. What is the result of Roe v. Wade? Peggy Noonan reflects here.

What did the Court really hold in Roe, by the way?
Fans, Part II. There was this, from the S. F. Chronicle, regarding the experience of Titans fans at the HOT (House of Thrills, Oakland Alameda Collesium):
Raiders fans so dominated the Coliseum that Tennessee Titans fans were as scarce as bright spots in Gov. Gray Davis' budget.

Jo Ann and Larry Lawson, who traveled from a small town outside Nashville, were among the few brave souls to wear Titans jerseys, jackets and caps, but they left before the game was over.

"We took a little bit of verbal abuse, but it was all good-natured," said Jo Ann Lawson. "It was nowhere near as bad as we expected. People told us everyone was going to beat us up if you wore Titans apparel. But everyone was as nice as could be."

That, many Raiders fans said, shouldn't be a surprise.

"Not everyone here is convicts and thugs," said Fidel Murga, who was standing in the Black Hole.
Update- On the other hand, consider this from Bill Romanowski: "Honestly, we have the kind of fans that if they were ever allowed on the field, they'd probably dismember people."

Monday, January 20, 2003

White Raiders. The Raiders will wear their white "away" jerseys for the game.

For the record, they are 2-0 in Super Bowl games when wearing white (Minnesota, Philadephia) and 1-1 in black (Washington, Green Bay).

Red Raiders? I spent a little time in DC in the early 1970s and then again in the 1980s, so there's a few things that remind me of the Redskins of those eras. First, the early 1970s was the George Allen years with the "future is now" mentality. Under George Allen, the old veterans were welcome. Also, he brought along so many of his old players, they called his team the 'Ramskin" So to some extent, the Raiders are a throwback or tribute to that mentality. Or maybe the lessons a son learned from his pop?

Second, there's something about Bill Callahan that reminds me of Joe Gibbs -- both were softspoken and cerebral -- each had a seemingly bland personality. But each proved to be winners.

Sunday, January 19, 2003

Raider Nation. The fans of the Raider Nation -- One Nation -- are celebrating a hard fought win tonight. It was one of those games that was closer than the final score -- in fact, I was hoping Tennessee would score on their last drive because I didn't want the record books to make it look like anything more than a 10 point win. Steve McNair is incredible.

Okay, Chucky, the Raider Nation is waiting for you.