Good Legal Analysis of Obergefell v Hodges

by Chris Burfield in

I have been searching for a good, in plain english, analysis of the legal arguments contained in the opinions and I think I finally found a couple worth sharing. 

There is a good, concise, plain english explanation of the case and the opinions over at SCOTUSblog by Amy Howe. They have been my source for hearing as soon as possible the results of the recent cases. 

If you are looking for a more in depth analysis then feel free to check out Burt Likko at Ordinary Times. I will warn you though, the post is 7,200 words with lots of quotations from the opinions. He has lots of stern words for Chief Justice Roberts, accusing him of being uncharacteristically Scalia like in his opinion. 

If you are more interested in the future implications of the case, and not in the "Oh My God Here Comes Polygamy!" sense then feel free to check out Kenji Yoshino over at Slate. He makes the observation that due to Kennedy's majority opinion equality and liberty are linked for future jurisprudence. The implications for future favorable decisions regarding constitutional rights to health care and education are now marginally better as a result.

Submitting to the Evil of the Designated Hitter

by Chris Burfield in

I am not a fan of the designated hitter rule. I know all the arguments by heart, trust me, I just can't get past the artificial nature of it. In the end though, we will all have to come to terms with it because it is not likely to go away. In fact, it will likely become accepted in my beloved National League before too long.

Over at Ordinary Times Richard Herschberger has been running a series on the history of baseball. He posted the article below a couple weeks ago but I still think it is worth sharing. It aims to explain, from an analytical and economic perspective, why the DH came about and why it is hear to stay. In one word, specialization.

From the middle (link to full):

What we have here is increasing hyper-specialization. It is not a law of nature. It is a decision. On the youth level, pitchers often are their teams’ best hitters, relying on natural athleticism. As they advance, training gets more serious and more specialized. In the most extreme version, the pitcher gets no batting training at all. Presumably the reason for this is that every minute spent training to hit is a minute not spent training to pitch, and is regarded as time wasted. The poster child for such specialization is none other than Babe Ruth. He was a very good pitcher, and had the stuff to be a great one. But early in his career he abandoned the mound and specialized in batting. It was understood that he had to choose one or the other. (This also, incidentally, serves as the response to anyone who claims that Barry Bonds was the greater player. Don’t waste your time talking about steroids. Ask about his ERA.)

Read the whole thing.

Is That Jessica Chastain?

by Chris Burfield in


To be completely honest, when I first saw the trailer for Jurassic World (which by the way save your money and just watch Jurassic Park again) I genuinely thought Jessica Chastain was in it. I was mistaken, it is Bryce Dallas Howard. Evidently, I am not the only one to do that either.

Over at the A.V. Club they pointed the way to a funny little song which helps you realize the difference as well. Enjoy.

The American Revolution: A Just War?

by Chris Burfield in

There are some willing to argue that it was not. Dr Frazer in The Journal of Military Ethics examines the eight criteria for a "Just War" and finds the American Revolution lacking. I have not been able to read the whole article because it is behind a paywall ($40 for a single article or $106 for the full issue, get real). The pull quotes over at Ordinary Times piqued my interest enough for me to share it with you.

Hat tip to Jon Rowe at Ordinary Times for pointing the way to this article.

From Frazer's article:

Benjamin Franklin, America’s friends in Parliament and the American public were shocked by this vandalism, but Boston refused to punish the perpetrators or to pay for the destroyed property. Colonial authorities had previously refused to punish other lesser- known incidents of violence and vandalism, such as the Gaspee incident in which a ship’s captain was shot and a law-enforcement ship burned by the Sons of Liberty without consequence. Repeated acts of this kind forced the British to pass tougher laws and take greater control. After the so-called Tea ‘Party’, the British government had to decide between reasserting its authority or losing Massachusetts. As a result, a series of punitive laws called the Coercive Acts (which the colonists called the ‘Intolerable Acts’) were passed. That punishment for lawlessness produced greater cries of ‘tyranny’. Again, one should think of what would happen if such acts were committed today in the US. Would the governing authorities just look the other way or dismiss it as a ‘party’? If punishing acts of violence and vandalism is a normal, reasonable function of government, then the Americans’ just cause claims must be questioned.

New Music: May 2015

by Chris Burfield in

I know, I know... we are almost to July and I'm just now posting my playlist of the new music which caught my ear in May. Between my road trip and getting back into the groove of regular life this has fallen by the wayside. Also, because of my road trip I did not listen to much of the new music released towards the end of May but I still caught enough bits and pieces to round out the list, for instance the first song on the list. Enjoy!

1.) Perfect World by Allen Stone on Radius

Hearing the singles released from this album really whetted my appetite for the full meal and I was not disappointed. This is the lead song of the album and I think it is the best among a really good lot, full of funk and soul which has you moving to the beat.

2.) Shake and Tremble by Django Django on Born Under Saturn

The sophomore effort from this group out of England. The beginning of this track nails it and is what got it onto this list.

3.) ii) Gold by Mikal Cronin on MCIII

I really enjoyed the rock and roll vibe coming off this song, there are few songs like it on this album.

4.) Ride by Twenty One Pilots on Ride

The chill beat on this song is perfect for the summer heat. Enjoy.

5.) Until the Levee by Joy Williams, a single released in May

You just had to know that after The Civil Wars broke up Joy Williams would not stop making music. The full album came out in June but this single was released in May. It is a very short but honest song and establishes that she still has it. I'm looking forward to the giving the full album a listen.

6.) Feeling Good by Avicii, a single released in May

Given that there is a James Bond movie coming out this fall I had to double check to see if this song was going to be the one for that movie. It is not going to be but it certainly sounds like it auditioned for the role.

7.) Narrow Mouth by The Early November on Imbue

Some really good rock on this track. If you liked later era Relient K, the more somber and sober era, then the sound of this track will be very familiar to you.

8.) Feeling Ok by Best Coast on California Nights

This band has appeared before on my lists and this song comes from the full album which dropped in May. Stadium rock to the core and very good.

9.) Only Love by Mumford & Sons on Wilder Mind

You just had to know a song from the new Mumford & Sons album was going to make this list, right? I mean if you have been paying attention to the lists from past months anyway. This track starts off slow but builds, going into their slow, fast, slow rhythm they have become known for. This song really reminds me of Sigh No More, just electric instead of banjos.

10.) High by Zella Day, a single released in May

You rarely hear female vocals with straight ahead rock and roll and that is what really caught my ear on this track.

11.) Backless by Desaparecidos, a single released in May

These guys are apparently back after a long "break". I really liked the driving beat and overall feel to this song.

12.) Darkness of the Dream by The Tallest Man on Earth on Dark Bird is Home

Quite the tonal shift between the previous song and this one, no? I just like the sound of this song.

13.) Bad Break by POP ETC, a single released in May

Definitely a pop song, which you should expect given their name, but a good one.

14.) Talk to Me by Kopecky on Drug For The Modern Age

I heard of these guys from The Relevant podcast where they came through their studio and played a few songs. This is a really good album and this one of the best songs on it.

15.) Get The Point by My Morning Jacket on The Waterfall

The perfect song to close out the list. Chill and laid back. Feels like a song you could listen to at the close of the day as you watch the sun go down over the lake.

Americanization of Christianity

by Chris Burfield in

There was an excellent post put up at the Economist's Democracy in America blog last week. It deals with Republican reticence regarding the debut of Caitlyn Jenner. Even Rick Santorum has said some open minded things about her. Many blame this on liberals controlling the debate and calling anyone who disapproves a bigot, however the Economist's Will Wilkinson pins this on the Americanization of Christianity.

From the middle and end (link to full):

Americans tend to want a version of Americanism, and they get it. Americanism is a frontier creed of freedom, of the inviolability of individual conscience and salvation as self-realisation. The American religion does Protestantism one better. Not only are we, each of us, qualified to interpret scripture, but also we each have a direct line to God. You can just feel Jesus. In my own American faith tradition, a minority version of Mormonism, the Holy Spirit—one of the guises of God—is a ubiquitous, pervasive presence. Like radio waves, you've just got to tune it in.


This is why going after Ms Jenner is ultimately a loser for Republican presidential wannabes. Caitlyn Jenner of Malibu is a leading indicator not of the secularisation of America, but of the ongoing Americanisation of Christianity. There's no point dying in the last ditch to defend Old World dogma against the transformative advance of America's native faith. Especially not if it will leave you out of step with the growing number of voters who find divinity by spelunking the self.

Read the whole thing, it is well worth your time. 

Selfies & the Toilet Paper Aisle

by Chris Burfield in

How is that for a title?

I have shared articles from McSweeney's before but last week they posted 2 which had me hysterically laughing. The first was a spin on the creation of Adam and Eve and instead of the original sin being eating from the tree it involves a smartphone and a stick from the tree. I think you know where this is going. It is hilarious.

A bit from the middle (link to full):

But Adam was persistent in his need to be part of the pictures. The Lord God pondered this and said, “It is not good for the man to be without pictures of himself." So the Lord God added a feature to the camera, making it capable of taking pictures from both sides so that the man could be in pictures with the wild animals and birds.

The man liked the new feature, and took many pictures that way. But after a while he grew tired of his face being so large in the foreground with the wild animals and birds so far in the background. So he went to the Lord God and said, “It is true I can take pictures of myself, but I am limited by the length of my arms as to what kind of pictures I can take.”

The second one involves a trip down the toilet paper aisle. For anyone who has tried to do any serious comparisons of the options there it is hilarious. It was extra funny for me because as a former pricing analyst whose job it was to help set the prices on toilet paper I have had to actually try to full blown comparisons of the different products.

From the beginning (link to full):

Look here, for example, this pack of 15 mega-rolls, equal to 30 regular rolls, appears to be the best deal, right? But wait, then what about these 10 humungo-rolls, equal to 40 regular rolls? Or these 6 giganti-rolls, equal to 48 regular rolls? Or this 3-pack of super-rolls, weighing in at whopping 54 regular rolls? Each pack costs marginally more than the previous while providing just a bit more paper. So, which will it be? Wait, don’t answer that. We’re not done browsing yet.

Do read both if you are need in of a laugh. Since it is a Monday I know you are.

A Credible Christianity?

by Chris Burfield in

This article was in my queue to read well before I left on vacation. Still, it is an excellent and thought provoking piece which needs to be shared. Especially since it is quite convicting to me. I have often thought the modern American church has a "branding" problem and that we need to change how we present our message in order for the core tenets of the gospel need to be heard. This article blows that thinking out of the water.

From the middle (link to full):

If the issue actually was that most cultural elites outside of the church simply didn’t understand what we actually believed and had all sorts of wrong ideas from seeing one too many stories about Fred Phelps, then maybe a rebranding campaign could “work” in the way that marketing campaigns work. Trying to convince everyone outside the church that we’re cool and “get it” and care about all the things Portlandia hipsters care about would get us somewhere. I’m not sure it’s a place worth going, mind, but it’d be something.

But the events of the past five years, or at least the past three years, should make it abundantly clear that ours is not a credibility problem. The issues are much greater than that. As Rod Dreher noted several months ago (and David Sessions made much the same point here), what we’re actually talking about are two societies that have beliefs about the basic nature of reality that are fundamentally antagonistic to one another. Note that they aren’t simply fundamentally different, but antagonistic. Set next to a difference of that nature, the attempts at finding superficial similarities look rather silly–which is precisely what they are.

He goes on to talk about the dangers inherent with treating the gospel with a pure marketing strategy and as a business. Do read the whole thing.