Five Things: June 15, 2020

Slow news day today, amirite? Here are five things.

26 years ago today I proposed to Krissy. Now, maybe this is not the top news story of the day for the rest of you, but for me, you know, it’s pretty significant. Also, in case it’s not evident and you’ve not heard this story before, she said yes. So that was good for me! If you’ve never actually seen my proposal to Krissy, I have it here for your perusal. It was in my newspaper column at the time. Also arguably the smartest thing I’ve ever done. And it’s hard to argue with the results!

Supreme Court gives LGBTQ+ people workplace protections on a 6-3 vote, and honestly it’s the “6-3” number there that surprises me; I could have easily envisioned a 5-4 split on this going either way, so the idea that the court codified workplace protections for queer folks with a conservative vote to spare is, well, a significant thing. And also that the opinion was written by Neil Gorsuch, who fashioned the court opinion on more or less conservative lines, “conservative” here being used in the older sense of the term and not the more recent “only pander to billionaires and people who think Jesus was a bigot like them” definition.

Aside from the fact that the decision was morally and legally correct and the right thing for the court to do (also, fuck you, Kavanaugh, Alito and Thomas), I’m happy for my queer friends today. The last week in particular has been a hard one for a lot of them. They could do with a win. This was, unambiguously, a win.

Star Wars Squadrons! Take a look at this trailer:

I’m excited for this game because waaaaaay back in the day, the X-Wing and Tie Fighter games were my favorite video games in the Star Wars game canon. The idea that we’re coming back around to that, with snazzy new graphics and smooth gameplay, gets me happy like a little kid (or, well, like a twenty-something, which was how old I was when the first batch of Star Wars space fighter games came out).

The Oscars are delayed, and that includes an extension of the eligibility window, apparently, out beyond the usual calendar year. Why? Coronavirus, silly! It’s still a thing! And will continue to be, because too many dimwits aren’t wearing their masks (seriously, wear your damn mask, people). This isn’t the first time the Oscar ceremony has been delayed by outside events, but I do think it’s the first time, or at least since the very early years, where the eligibility period extended outside of a calendar year. One wonders how this will influence the other mostly-end-of-the-year film awards here in the US — bluntly, none of them matter that much except and unless they are part of the run-up to the Oscars. I expect all the other awards to fairly quickly fall in line, in terms of shifting back and extending their eligibility period.

Ted “Not in the Face” Cruz, what a dick: Seriously, challenging Ron Perlman to wrestle Jim Jordan is very much of a junior high nerdlinger sort of thing. “I don’t want to get hit, but I want you to get hit, so go fight that guy who could stuff me into a trash can!” Or as Perlman succinctly and accurately put it:

I mean, yes, this is all ridiculous performative masculinity on display by all parties, but Cruz is just… well, sad. I mean, more than usual. And he’s usually so very sad.

50 Comments on “Five Things: June 15, 2020”

  1. You and Krissy are wonderful. Happy Anniversary to you both, and may you have many more.

  2. a) Congratulations to the Scalzis and anyone else who has cause to celebrate

    b) I try to think well of Texans, I really do, but y’all need to lose Cruz. He is not a good look.

  3. I mean, Cruz has been saying even more ignorant stuff recently attacking people about Christopher Columbus. I have to wonder what is going on at his office. Like, WTF?

    I look forward to wishing you a happy anniversary on Wednesday! (Not because I’m stalking you, but because my husband’s and my wedding anniversary is also 6/17.)

  4. She said yes?? No kidding! You lucky dog.

    BTW, Gorsuch is still illegitimate, but he practiced what he preached — follow the plain language of the statute. The rest of the Originalist Crew is unable to let that override their bigotries.

  5. Ted Cruz is trying out for a role in “The New Sopranos”. His aspirational goal is to be called “Big Pussy”

  6. Yeah, I really liked the justification rendered by the Supreme Court; it’s a slightly out of the box way of thinking of the issue but it’s kind of obvious in hindsight as being pretty textual in nature.

  7. First congratulations to Krissy and you for the many years of marriage. I to proposed to my now wife on the one year anniversary of our first date however not in such a public way.

    I am also excited about the new Star Wars Squadrons game. I spent many an evening blowing up tie fighters and star destroyers while in high school and college. I just hope that they don’t make it mandatory to play it all online in a multiplayer setting. To many games today are overly focused on the online multiplayer when some of us just want to play the single player game and call it good.

  8. Unrelated to this particular post, but I was catching up on old posts, and wanted to thank you for letting me know about a new-to-me P.C. Hodgell book in New Books and ARCs 6/5/20.

  9. Thing is, it really isn’t an out-of-the-box or novel approach; it’s a very straightforward textualist interpretation. Some of us olds may well remember when the specter of Gay Rights was used as a bludgeon against the idea of giving equal rights under the law to women.

    The dissent whining about Scalia’s legacy is one of the dumbest SCOTUS moments since Rehnquist argued discrimination against women for being pregnant wasn’t sex-based because companies would probably treat pregnant men the same, har har. I almost wish that execrable fossil had lived long enough to see that there are pregnant men.

  10. Ken:

    Let’s not do the casual sexism here, please. Making fun of faux-masculinity does not have to go into denigrating femininity and/or vaginas by any other name. (I suspect you weren’t intending to, and that you’re riffing off a character from the series. But, yeah.)

  11. Interesting move by the Oscars to shift the eligibility window; I’m not sure it sits right with me. To me, award-winning films are so tied up in the calendar year they’re released in (in terms of the horse-race tracking of nominees and buzz and all that film-nerdy stuff) that to make an exception this time would just leave a giant asterisk next to the whole season. (Not that there’s not already a giant asterisk next to everything 2020-related.)

    Alissa Wilkinson writes about it here – – and gets at a very good point: it seems they’re shifting the window to make sure that all the films that “deserve” award attention don’t have to wait until the 2021 award season, which is a huge missed opportunity for some of 2020’s smaller, more daring films to reach a bigger audience due to the sudden lack of award-season competition.

  12. @Dana: We would love to get rid of Cruz but first we have to under the truly epic amount of gerrymandering in the state, and doing THAT means dumping the Republicans out of the governor’s mansion and the legislature simultaneously. Plus, he’s not running again in 2024, if I remember correctly. This year, we’re trying to get rid of Cornyn, who’s barely smart enough NOT to be a raging bellend on Twitter when he’s actually running for re-election.

    I remember when progressive politicians could get elected in this state. It has been a while.

  13. Cruz is pretty awful and performative but hey … at least he’s not suing a cow. Or his mom. Or his mom’s cow. ;)

  14. Much happiness to you and Krissy.

    Also, Not only in Cruz trotting out the “Let’s you and him fight”, he’s saying it to a seventy-year-old man. (Perlman was born April, 1950). So much courage.

  15. No, the point is, what movies? They should have just canceled the Oscars (like they should cancel the MLB season rather than impose a 50 game season and a sh!tload of playoff games and pretend it is a real season). Movies aren’t opening, except for streaming. Who really believes TENET is going to open wide in July? Anyone? Bueller? They need to take in OVER $400 MILLION just to break even. Just push everything back a year and make people wear their damn masks!

    And get off my lawn.

    Congratulations again this year to you cray kids on another Anniversary. This year is going to put a real damper on celebrating our FIFTIETH in October, but it’s the thought that counts, right, not the trip to Vegas or wherever. As long as we’re still here and healthy, that’s what counts. Same for you two.

  16. Gorsuch doesn’t bother me as much as Cavanaugh (Gorsuch might have gotten Cavanaugh’s seat if Obama had actually been able to appoint a Justice, and if Trump hadn’t driven away any one sane to help). Lying during your job interview (especially as a Supreme Court Justice) is normally a showstopper (excuses about the yearbook picture, for example, were not even coherent).

    At least something good happened this year.

  17. Happy Anniversary, guy. May there be so many more to come.

    BTW, There’s a lot to dislike about Kavanaugh, but check out his (separate) dissent: “Millions of gay and lesbian Americans have worked hard for many decades to achieve equal treatment in fact and in law. They have exhibited extraordinary vision, tenacity, and grit—battling often steep odds in the legislative and judicial arenas, not to mention in their daily lives. They have advanced powerful
    policy arguments and can take pride in today’s result.” He argues in his dissent that Congress, rather than the courts, should have extended these rights. And he wrote a separate dissent rather than signing onto Alito’s semi-incoherent screed.

  18. Dear folks,

    Well, yay for us, today. Finally some GOOD! NEWS!

    Y’all may want to read the Opinion (or as much of the 173 pages as you can stand – the syllabus is only 4 pages long). It’s fascinatin’. This at the bottom of page 1 (!):

    “The straightforward application of Title VII’s terms interpreted in accord with their ordinary public meaning at the time of their enactment re-solves these cases. ”

    Bullshit! This was nothing like the common meaning of “sex” in 1964, and certainly not what the legislators intended. Homosexuality was still most places a crime, still listed as a mental disorder. Compton was five years away, Stonewall was seven.

    There follow three pages of legalistic legerdemain intended to show that an expansive view of the 1964’s use of sex really does include gender orientation and trans matters. I found it totally unconvincing and seriously contrived to a specific end. But it’s all legal and quasi-traditionalist/intentionalist.

    ‘Cept, really it is bullshit. Just legally-enforceable bullshit.

    About time we got some favoring OUR side.

    I gotta believe that this is in some way personal for Gorsuch. He didn’t just draw a line in the sand, he dug a near-unbridgeable trench. This is him saying to the dissenting judges, “I am hoisting you by your own petards. Good luck finding a way around this.” And to the TERFs and other bigots outside the court, “We are now done with this matter. Period, full stop. Live with it.” With only three judges dissenting, they’re not in a position to force the court to hear another case.

    There’s also some strong language rejecting businesses’ right to do anything it wants in contradiction to civil rights law, in the name of religious freedom. This is the majority saying that they are not going to be favorably inclined towards more of those cases than they have been.

    Still working my way through… sooo many pages.

    pax / Ctein
    — Ctein’s Online Gallery
    — Digital Restorations

  19. First: Congratulations.

    Second: That Gorsuch took the lead on this was a surprise to me. I remember what a hack his mother was and I expected him to tread the same path. So two cheers for him.

    Third: Just when I think that, maybe, Alito isn’t as a big a jerk as I think he is, he reminds me why I dislike him.

  20. Dear glc,

    Thanks. A good read! As a pacifist, I’d rather not be slugging it out with anyone [smile].

    This is what makes horse races. Slate thought it straightforward, I thought it twisted as all f*ck,but we’re both thrilled with the outcome.

    I am now very cautiously hopeful about future LGBTQ cases that come before this court. In part because the textualists and original intentists have proven themselves far from ideologically pure. It’s a philosophy of convenience for them, invoked when it gets them the results it wants, ignored when it doesn’t. Even Saint Scalia was very inconsistent in his application.

    I think we have strong indications that seven members of the court are solidly on the side of LGBTQ rights, even if one (Kavanaugh) won’t enforce them. When future cases (like the military and health care and housing) come up, even when the “text” doesn’t support it, there’s a hope they’ll once again abandon their legal principles for the greater good.

    Call me a cockeyed optimist.

    But please don’t call me early to breakfast. Night owl.

    Back to reading the Opinion. Whew. Does anyone here know if this is close to the longest Opinion issued by the Court? Good thing I love this kind of thing.

    (Okay, yeah, I read SC cases for fun. It’s a kink. Don’t judge. 😉)

    pax / quirky Ctein

  21. The Star Wars Squadrons trailer disappointed me in one major way.

    Someone was flying a Y-wing. Maker, those things were terrible in X-Wing.

  22. @ Sarah Marie: Graham is currently desperate to avoid being outed by all the male sex workers he’s (allegedly) hired over the years – a bunch of them have been getting together on twitter over the last few weeks to compare notes. We’ll see if it sticks once that has died down.

    Search twitter for “Lady G” if you want more info (but be prepared to see gay porn as well).

  23. re. Dontchawonder – ” He argues in his dissent that Congress, rather than the courts, should have extended these rights.”

    It’s a good point and even a subtle dig at the current dis-functionality of Congress.* Whether or not he is using it as a cover for his own bigotry may/will be revealed in further opinions, but for now he has demonstrated ‘classic’ conservatism. (And if he remains a ‘classic’ conservative, well, there are worse options.)

    * Yes they should have, in clear concise language, passed by veto-proof majority. Miles to go…

  24. @Dave Crisp:

    Oh, I know, hence the “here’s hoping the sentiment is genuine and enduring”

    I, for one, absolutely love that Graham is getting some of what he’s been doling out to others for a lifetime.

    Something else I noted was his employment of the terms race-bating and xenophobic, as if the N-word and “filthy (insert disgusting term for any other nationality) haven’t been a staple of his personal lexicon for decades.

    Still, the fall is something to see, and right before an election!

    I’ll pass the handle on to other interested parties. :)

  25. I guess the “Spastic Chicken” is a more energetic version of the “Kicking a Dead Squirrel” dance that was on display every year at various parties at Comdex back in the 90’s.

  26. Y-Wings and TIE Bombers were painful. My personal favorite is the TIE Defender. Those things were incredible.

    For me, Squadrons is going to come down to:

    1. Is the single player campaign an actual campaign, or is it basically a tutorial for the multiplayer? I’m only interested in single player – I need to be able to pause whenever I need to, for starters.
    2. Is the view from the cockpit? (looks like it probably is, which is good)
    3. Can I use my joystick with it?

  27. ctein,
    About ten days ago you said “longissimus, non legi?”
    Everything I know about Latin is just from having a pretty good grasp of English, but I really enjoyed this.

  28. I don’t think Cavanaugh was undeserving of nomination (I’m pretty sure ABA thought he was good despite their likely disagreements), just that lying to the Senate should have killed his approval.

    Considering the gap between people of different political stripes, we seem to rely on the SC to solve our problems for us, which does seem like a mistake. We’ve been doing it for a while, though, and there’s no reason to think it’ll stop soon (despite Cavanaugh’s implicit hope); that would require a strength in facing that we haven’t had or been willing to exercise for a long time.

  29. The SC decision didn’t surprise me at all. He may be a bloodless, corporation-loving conservative, but at least Gorsuch is qualified to be a SC justice. Thomas, Alito, and Kavanaugh, on the other hand, were appointed for entirely political reasons and their unlikeliness to ever “disappoint” their benefactors.

  30. Dear Granny,

    Thank you, but I shall not take credit for it. That goes to Liza Furr, at a dinner conversation, wherein I suggested there should be legal doctrine for “too long, didn’t read.” Liz translated that into appropriate Latin. She emailed:

    “Too long, didn’t read: longior, non legi
    or if it was *really* long: longissimus, non legi

    And longus, the base form of longior and longissimus, also means “tedious.” :-D”

    pax / Ctein

  31. Sarah Marie – That YouTube of Graham is from 2015, so no, Graham’s public opinion of Trump didn’t last much past the election, except for occasional bursts of decency or at least sanity. (That’s separate from disagreeing on issues, e.g. Graham’s much more of a hawk.)

  32. My summary of the decisions
    – Gorsuch, for the majority – picky textual reading explaining how Title VII has always banned discriminating against LGBT people, if you follow conservative textual analysis properly. (And yeah, I’m sympathetic to Ctein’s position that it’s contrived and he might have gotten just as contrived in the other direction if he’d wanted, though original-text people may abuse that less often than original-intent people like Scalia.)
    – Alito, joined by Thomas – “No, no NO no NO NO, we’ve never done it that way so NO!” with an appendix about “SEX sex sex” (as if gay sex didn’t count as sex in 1964.)
    – Kavanaugh – “I reject the majority’s opinion that Title VII bans this, it’s clearly asking us to expand Title VII, I don’t want to do that, but here’s some sympathetic dicta.”

  33. Dear Bill,

    Having finished reading Gorsuch, I’d assert he didn’t write a mere Opinion, he wrote a fuckin’ manifesto. A died-in-the-wool SJW couldn’t have done better. In fact, I bet some of his more passionate prose gets requoted a lot. At this point, I think Slate got it wrong– this was not straightforward textualism, this was blatant advocacy.


    In that regard, I’d have more sympathy for Alito’s waaaaay too long dissent if it weren’t so disingenuous. Just as much as the other cons he’s treated text/intent as a philosophy of convenience, discarded when it didn’t suit him. Pot, meet Kettle. Live with it.

    I’d give Kavanaugh’s last paragraph more weight than you did. These guys ain’t politicians, they don’t have to worry about currying favor with the populace. He could have left off that last para entirely and closed his dissent on procedural grounds. Instead he chose to close with a shout-out.

    pax / elated Ctein

  34. I really liked Gorsuch’s writing in that – it was amazingly clear, readable by lay people as well as lawyers, and it was highly worthwhile reading. He pretty much scorched the earth with the “Congress could have said that if they wanted to” parts.
    I’ll have to give Kavanaugh’s another chance; aside from it being after Alito’s long rant (:-), he started off by saying he disagreed with it and kind of went on like that for a while, and I may not have given it the attention it deserved by that point.

  35. To ctein and others who think this interpretation is “novel,” not classically textual: consider a possible analogy, sexual orientation discrimination is to sex discrimination as hate crimes are to murder. Even though hate crimes have a unique sort of conceptual space with novel consequences and origins, nothing about being a new area of law changes the basic understanding that injuring and killing other human beings is usually considered out of bounds. Even though sexual orientation brings new considerations to the table, this does not negate the fact that sexual discrimination is one of the roots of orientation discrimination.

    It’s what’s wrong with Scalia’s approach in general, there is no pure plain meaning in text. Scalia and most others applied their added assumptions about sexual matters to exclude the more plain meaning of the statute all these years.

  36. Hi, Sarah Marie – Unfortunately, that’s still Pre-Trumpification Lindsey Graham just repackaged as Democrat TV ads. It’ll be interesting to see if that affects his Senate race this fall against Jaime Harrison. (It’ll make him look like a better person, but also as an enemy of Trump; could go either way.)

  37. I hope it goes the “Graham fleas public and political life in disgrace, never to darken the lives of non-SWMs again” way.

    Either way, hardcore trumpists aren’t likely to forgive or forget the disloyalty.

    With any luck, the emergent sex scandal and the packaged reminder will work collectively to unseat him in the Fall.

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