Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Mess in Indiana

Wow talk about something blowing up in your face.

Talk about the governor or Indiana bombing on a national political show. When asked over and over again if the Religious Freedom Restoration Act you just signed can discriminate against people Governor Pence just couldn’t answer the question.

Talk about a backlash from no less than WalMart and the Chamber or Commerce.

Then boy are you in a mess.

Is the law specifically aimed at gay and lesbians no not really? But the claim that this is the same Religious Freedom Restoration Act that other states and the federal law is simply not true. The changes put in the law would make it easier for people to discriminate against a whole host of people. When one of the main supporters and proponents of the law Advance American posts this on its website about the law:

  • Christian bakers, florists and photographers should not be punished for refusing to participate in a homosexual marriage!
  • A Christian business should not be punished for refusing to allow a man to use the women’s restroom!
  • A church should not be punished because they refuse to let the church be used for a homosexual wedding!

Then it’s pretty clear how they view the intent of the law. The ability to deny service to gays and lesbians.

The best story on the differences in the law is in the Atlantic by Garret Epps.

The claim from some in the media is there is very little difference in the Indiana law and other Religious Freedom Restoration Act but Epps points out this is wrong:

The problem with this statement is that, well, it’s false. That becomes clear when you read and compare those tedious state statutes. If you do that, you will find that the Indiana statute has two features the federal RFRA—and most state RFRAs—do not. First, the Indiana law explicitly allows any for-profit business to assert a right to “the free exercise of religion.” The federal RFRA doesn’t contain such language, and neither does any of the state RFRAs except South Carolina’s; in fact, Louisiana and Pennsylvania, explicitly exclude for-profit businesses from the protection of their RFRAs.

The new Indiana statute also contains this odd language: “A person whose exercise of religion has been substantially burdened, or is likely to be substantially burdened, by a violation of this chapter may assert the violation or impending violation as a claim or defense in a judicial or administrative proceeding, regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity is a party to the proceeding.” (My italics.) Neither the federal RFRA, nor 18 of the 19 state statutes cited by the Post, says anything like this; only the Texas RFRA, passed in 1999, contains similar language.

He adds:

Of all the state “religious freedom” laws I have read, this new statute hints most strongly that it is there to be used as a means of excluding gays and same-sex couples from accessing employment, housing, and public accommodations on the same terms as other people. True, there is no actual language that says, All businesses wishing to discriminate in employment, housing, and public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation, please check this “religious objection” box.

The statute shows every sign of having been carefully designed to put new obstacles in the path of equality; and it has been publicly sold with deceptive claims that it is “nothing new.”

And why would you think that? Well look at the people standing behind Governor Pence in the official signing photo. A ceremony which was private. When the Indianapolis Star asked who the lobbyists in the photo were Pence refused to name them. You can see who these outstanding individuals are by following this link. I’m not going to mention them in my blog post.

There’s a list of companies that object to the law here are just a few: Angie’s List, Apple, Eli Lilly, Gen Con, Levi Strauss & Co., Salesforce to name just a few. A list of celebrities here are a few: Charles Barkley, Cher, Ellen DeGeneres, George Takei, Jason Collins, James Van Der Beek and Wilco - canceled Indianapolis show.

But probably the most damning thing is this front page from the Indianapolis Star:

Pence has promised this will be fixed even though he still thinks there's nothing wrong with the bill. We'll just have to wait and see.

Six Days to Go

This is a great article from the Post on one of my favorite Nats pitchers Doug Fister. From the article:

Fister considers himself a defensive player as well as a pitcher. As he fires down at the strike zone with a 6-foot-8 body that yields a seven-foot-high release point, he seduces batters with a sinking fastball more heavy than overpowering. He cuts it and changes speeds, creating contact that is hardly ever the kind the batter would prefer.

Fister got more than half of his outs last season with groundballs. Over the past three seasons, less than 18 percent of his outs have been strikeouts, by far the lowest percentage on the Nationals’ staff. Fister needs his defense more than his fellow pitchers do.

In one of the games I saw him pitch he made an amazing play. He ran over to cover first and did the splits in catching a ball throw to him. That's right all 6'8" and he did the splits to catch the ball and then popped right back up. I was amazed at the game and even more amazed when I saw the replay. I thought that must have hurt. He's also pitches at a very fast tempo. A great athlete all around. Looking forward to seeing him pitch this year.

Monday, March 30, 2015

At the National Kite Festival

The National Kite Festival is:

The Blossom Kite Festival, previously named the Smithsonian Kite Festival, is an annual event that is traditionally a part of the festivities at the National Cherry Blossom Festival on the National Mall in Washington, DC. Kite enthusiasts show off their stunt skills and compete for awards. The Kite Festival is one of the most popular annual events in Washington, DC and features kite fliers from across the U.S. and the world. This year’s event features five areas to explore and enjoy: the Competition & Demonstration Field, Kite Club Display Area, Activity Tents, Family Field, and Public Field. A mini-parade steps off at 10 a.m. to begin the day.

It was a cold a blustery day on Saturday. The time I was down there it has also clouded over so it felt even colder. But there are some pictures from the festival.

On the grounds of the Washington Monument on a blustery day.

Lots of dragon kites this year.

Kids raced with this parachute kites

I really liked this kite

More from the Kites Festival

Festival Highlights included:

  • The popular Rokkaku Battle and Hot Tricks Showdown are displays of kite flying showmanship. The Rokkaku Battle features hexagonal-shaped fighter kites commonly flown in Japan and now in many other parts of the world. In the Battle, teams of kite fliers compete to “cut” or “ground” opposing kites. The Hot Tricks Showdown is a competition in which multi-line kite fliers engage in a series of one-on-one competitions and maneuver their sport kites in amazing flight patterns during 30 seconds of music. The winners are selected by audience applause.
  • On the Competition & Demonstration Field (free registration required), experienced kite makers enter kites with the theme of “Spring Around the World,” showcasing cultural heritage, international kite traditions and international friendship.

This guy was with a group of people that attempted to get a kite in the air

More dragons

There were also kite eating trees present as well. Charlie Brown would understand this.

Last from the Kite Festival

Final pictures form the kite festival.

One of my favorites

This was a huge kite. It looked great against the monument.

One Week and Counting!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

A Week and a Day Until It all Begins

Just a few more days until baseball season will be upon us.

There's a great article in the Post today by Thomas Boswell on Bryce Harper. Boswell starts the column this way:
When is Bryce Harper going to learn to shut up?


So get used to “Where’s my ring?” and “How can we lose?”

Get accustomed to Harper elaborating on his comments, not walking them back. This past week, he said he stands by his quips — just good-natured, confident fun — in a Sports Illustrated story. He shared the cover with $210 million free agent Max Scherzer, who, to Harper, looks like the perfect World Series ring bearer.

In his seventh year in the national public eye, in his fourth season in the big leagues and past his 22nd birthday, Harper isn’t going to change and shouldn’t. Nats pitching coach Steve McCatty nails it when he says, “The individual makes the player. Your personality is how you play. So, you have to be yourself.”

Frankly I like Harper's style. He needs to be a little more baseball smart to avoid the injuries he's had in the past. I think he has produced more than any other Nats player in the post season. He just has to duplicate that during the regular season.

I will always remember his first home game as a National. The ball was hit to him in left field. He got the ball and unleashed this massive throw to home. The running was called safe (actually he was out on replays of the play (replay challenges weren't around then). The amazing thing was as the ball moved toward home plate everyone in the stands stood up. It was amazing.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Charlie Turns Four Today

Charlie taking it easy on a Saturday night.

My other feline friend turns four today. Here are some pictures of Charlie.

Master of the shopping bag

Helping make the bed?

Charlie loves to dip his paws in water and then lick the water off of his paw

Fudge at the Fudgery

Not far from National Harbor are the Tanger Outlet Mall. In there ia an amazing and very dangerous store: Fudgery. It will solve your craving of everything that is fudge and more.

Here are a few photos. I actually got out of the store without buying anything. A triumph as far as I'm concerned.

At National Harbor

Last Saturday I went to National Harbor with my friend Jim.

Here's what their site says about it:
National Harbor is not so much a destination as it is an experience — and we’re committed to providing you with a never-ending variety of things to do. Immerse yourself in the sights, scents, and sounds of our unique waterfront wonderland. From fresh artisan cheese to cinema al fresco to family-friendly fun, National Harbor is your place to play. Come on a whim; stay for the night. We’re right on the water…yet a world away. With all the things to do at National Harbor, you’ll be coming back for more fun in no time.
It was a little cold and over cast when we arrived but by the afternoon things had cleared up and it was actually warm.

It is a fun place to go but I'm not sure I'd go there on a regular basis. Once the casino is built I think it will be a really busy place. We enjoyed going up in the Capital Wheel. We did find it odd that there wasn't a shuttle bus to take people from the Harbor to the outlet mall near by.

I take that back there was a shuttle from the big hotel there but it didn't start running until 4pm which we both thought was odd.

One more thing there was some sort of cheer leading competition going on there. I find it a little creepy to see all these young girls running around in their cheer leading outfits. Sometimes they would even break out into cheers while walking down the street. After awhile at the hotel and later at the Harbor itself all you saw were cheer leaders. It sort of made me think of a Twilight Zone.

Here are some pictures from National Harbor.

On the Capital Wheel

Here's what the web site says about the Capital Wheel:
You’ll feel like you’re sitting on top of the world when you experience National Harbor’s most iconic attraction, The Capital Wheel!

As you soar 180 feet above the Potomac River waterfront, you will marvel at the incomparable views. Sights visible include the White House and Capitol, the National Mall, Arlington Cemetery, City of Alexandria, Prince George’s County and the lush parklands throughout the DC-Maryland-Virginia region.
Jim and I both enjoyed going up in it. But you're a little too far away from Washington to really see much more than the Washington Monument. But still it was fun to go up in.

Here are a few pictures.