Monday, 06/27/2016

Up Leaps The Race Of Earthmen

Out, far, and onward yet!


June 27, 11:10 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Arching Sky Is Calling

The Green Hills Of Earth:

We pray for one last landing
On the globe that gave us birth;
Let us rest our eyes on the friendly skies
And the cool, green hills of Earth.

Rhysling, the Blind Singer of the Spaceways.


June 27, 10:24 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Besides, Seer Stones Are Dangerous

They distract drivers and hobbits.


June 27, 9:41 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

"It must be the network!"

Vermont native Joseph Smith was killed by a mob on today's date, so this seems fitting:

Founder of the Mormon church, Joseph Smith, used what he called a “seer stone” to derive mystical information and supernatural knowledge. When the angel Moroni showed Smith the golden plates, according to the story in the Book of Mormon, Smith was unable to read the gold plates because he didn’t speak the “reformed Egyptian” language. Lucky for Smith, the “seer stones” he named “Urim and Thummim” magically enabled him to translate the 116-page book.

Mormon leader Dieter Uchtdorf serves as a “Second Counselor in the First Presidency” in the church, and while the story of Smith may seem farfetched, he says he can prove it is true, because a “seer stone” is basically the same thing as an iPhone.

“I can get the collected knowledge of the world through a few little inputs,” Uchtdorf wrote as a description on a Facebook photo of him holding up his iPhone. “I can take a photo or a video with my phone and share it with family on the other side of our planet. I can even translate anything into or from many different languages!”

Uchtdorf believes that if he can do so many amazing things with his smartphone, which wasn’t announced by Apple CEO Steve Jobs until 2007, then surely God gave Smith his own smartphone in 1823 to read the secret golden plates. “If it is possible for me to access the knowledge of the world through my phone, who can question that seer stones are impossible for God?” he asked.

To be fair, God does have a pretty big R&D budget, but we all know aliens brought us all the good tech.


June 27, 9:04 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

what they want her to be is weak

Maybe someday another child won't feel as alone as she does.


June 27, 8:18 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

It's A Trap!

And Dead Tony couldn't have stopped it:

In a huge victory for the pro-choice movement, the Supreme Court voted 5-3 Monday to strike down two major anti-abortion provisions that were part of an omnibus anti-abortion law Texas passed in 2013.

The court's ruling in Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt also strikes a blow to a strategy by the pro-life movement to limit abortion access incrementally, through state laws.

To provide abortions at any stage of pregnancy, the provisions forced doctors to have"admitting privileges" with a nearby hospital (which are difficult to get for abortion providers specifically), and forced clinics to undergo often expensive renovations to become "ambulatory surgical centers," which haven't been demonstrated to make abortion safer (though abortion is already quite a safe medical procedure.)

While pro-life advocates said these laws made abortion safer for women, their most significant effect was forcing roughly half of the state's abortion clinics to close. The overwhelming consensus from doctors is that the laws had no medical benefit, and actually made abortion less safe because they forced quality clinics to close for no compelling medical reason.

The central constitutional question was: Did the policies put an "undue burden" on women when they are forced to drive hundreds of miles because their nearest clinic has closed due to regulatory hurdles?

The Court found that it did.

"Both the admitting-privileges and the surgical-center requirements place a substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking a previability abortion, constitute an undue burden on abortion access, and thus violate the Constitution," read the decision.

No fucking shit.  I mean, TRAP laws are no threat to liberty like background checks and smaller magazines and/or clips, of course, but this is still pretty good news, if you're into that sort of thing.


June 27, 6:35 PM in Constitution, Schmonstitution, Soaking In Patriarchy | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, 06/26/2016

Let's talk of graves, of worms, and epitaphs

They smile at me that shortly shall be dead...


June 26, 11:41 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

I've Got Mine

. . . On the State of the Union:

I imagine this message in Congress on the state of the Union:
situation tragic,

left underground only 75 years of iron
50 years of cobalt
but 55 years worth of sulfur and 20 of bauxite
in the heart what?
     Nothing, zero,
          mine without ore,
          cavern in which nothing prowls,
          of blood not a drop left.

Aimé Césaire.


June 26, 11:15 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wild At Heart

Secession for me is a symbol of my individuality, and my belief in personal freedom.


June 26, 10:08 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Let's Ditch Texas

A modest proposal:

Resolved, That His Excellency, President Trump, be requested to employ a sufficient number of able-bodied Muslims to proceed to the State of Texas, and to dig a ditch around the limits of the same, and to float 'the thing' into the Atlantic.

It must be a confusing time for Austinites and other hippies.


June 26, 9:14 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Everything is different

The second time around.


June 26, 7:56 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Engages In Blog-whoring Behavior

Take my URL, please:

The week, the US CBP published a notice in the Federal Register proposing a change to the Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record paperwork that visitors to the US fill out when they cross the border, in which they announce plans to ask travellers to "please enter information associated with your online presence."

Yeah, whatever.


June 26, 7:18 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Engages In Blog-posting Behavior

Finally getting to OITNB since Ericka got home, and Taystee's new job as Caputo's assistant reminded me of this old story Mom told me about her profession:

In 1973, D. L. Rosenhan published a ground-breaking psychiatric study in January 19 issue of Science magazine. The article exposed a serious short-coming in the psychiatric hospitals at the time, and therefore it became very controversial. Dr. Rosenhan, a professor of psychology and law at Stanford University, designed the study to try to answer the title question: “If sanity and insanity exist, how shall we know them?”

The now famous (some offended or embarrassed psychiatrists preferred to call it “infamous”) experiment that was carried out involved 12 different psychiatric hospitals and 8 different people, mostly professionals (including the author). Each of the eight were totally and certifiably sane “pseudo-patients”.

Each one secretly gained admission to one or two different mental hospitals by falsely complaining to a psychiatrist that they had been hearing voices over the past few weeks. The “voices” in each case were saying only the three words “empty,” “hollow,” and “thud.” No visual hallucinations or other psychological abnormalities were relayed to the examining psychiatrist. Except for the fake “chief complaint”, the intake histories relayed by the patients were  entirely truthful. Each “patient” was immediately admitted, much to the surprise of most of the pseudo-patients.

All but one of the admitted “patients” were given a diagnosis of “schizophrenia”. The other one was labeled “manic-depressive”. When they were discharged, the eleven had discharge diagnoses of “schizophrenia, in remission,” despite the fact that absolutely no psychotic or manic behaviors had been observed during their stays.

After admission, each pseudo-patient acted totally sane, each emphasizing that the voices had disappeared. When given the chance, each also asked about when they could be discharged. Those questions were largely ignored by staff.

Despite the fact that each one acted totally normally throughout, their hospital stays averaged 19 days, ranging from 7 to 52 days.

The pseudo-patients engaged in all the normal ward activities except for the fact that they never swallowed the variety of antipsychotic pills that had been prescribed for them. The only obvious difference between the behaviors of the experimental group and the regular patients was that each of them took notes during their hospitalizations. On several occasions, a staff member wrote in the patient’s chart: “the patient engages in note-taking behavior”. Otherwise none of the staff seemed interested in any of the patient’s behaviors.

Do you have a skeleton key made from real human bone that opens a door to a world of talking animals?


June 26, 6:29 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sing The Fucking Song!

The whole world's gone to hell, but how are you?


June 26, 6:11 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Happy Big Gay Tony Day!

June 26 is always a good day to drink bigots' tears:

  • 2003: Lawrence.
  • 2013: Windsor.
  • 2015: Obergefell.

Let us toast Justice Vaffanculo in Hell!

So far, few people have followed my recommendation that on this date we dress up in black robes, wear a scowling Scalia mask, and set bonfires to commemorate the brightness of wingnut self-immolation which provided us such a beacon of hope and justice.  Sometimes I feel like John "Nobody Ever Listens To Me" Adams...


June 26, 4:56 PM in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

And Now The Blexit

Thanks once again for a nice, late, extended blegiversary.  I can't believe you people have put up with me for 13 years. If anybody forgot to donate, there's always a link somewhere on this site, but the annoying post footer is gone for another year.  Pax!


June 26, 10:25 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, 06/25/2016

Hey little Brexit, what have you done?

Perhaps the Remainers and Regretters will get enough signatures to start again.


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June 25, 11:11 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

People will not look forward to posterity


Our stone wall was built by slaves and my bones, my bones
are paid for. We have two
of everything, twice heavy
in our pockets, warming
our two big hands.
This is the story, as I know it. One morning:
the ships came, as foretold, and death
pearl-handled, almost
and completely.
How cheap a date I turned out to be.
Each finger weak with the memory:
lost teeth, regret. Our ghosts
walk the shoulders of the road at night.
I get the feeling you’ve been lying to me.

Camille Rankine.


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June 25, 10:22 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

All Before Brexit

NY TimesJune 26, 1861:

The Second Vermont Regiment, which has for three weeks been encamped at Benningtion, Vt., arrived in this City yesterday, via the Hudson River Railroad. They were met on landing, although they came so early, (about 6 1/2 o'clock) by a large delegation of the sons of Vermont, who escorted them to their quarters at the Park Barracks, where arms were stacked and breakfast disposed of as soon as available. The camp was, during the forenoon, a busy scene. Friends flocked in rapidly to greet old relatives and acquaintances, and the provincial hemlock -- the Vermont insignia of patriotism -- graded several regiments of civilians' hat-bands and button-holes, in honor of the day.

The regiment, like others from the hardy North and East, commanded approbation. The men were all well behaved, and intelligent, while at the same time their stalwart frames bespoke the best material for soldiers. The uniform is of serviceable grey. Most of the muskets are of the old fashioned smooth-bore pattern, which occasions great dissatisaction; only one company is armed with rifles, and they have the Minio. Many of the members vow that they would almost rather stand up and be shot, than be obliged to vanquish their enemies with such unwieldly implements as they now have. The excellent deportment of the men contrasted strongly with the maudlin pranks of a corps of the Thirty first Regiment of this City, Col. PRATT, whose conduct brought blushes to the cheeks of many a New-Yorker.

The entire sobriety of the Vermont men was none the less commendable in view of the sale within the barracks of "refreshments" in violation of all military rule and sadly destructive of discipline. The recruit can, in fact, get drunk without going over the chains, and Col. VAN BEUREN owes it to good discipline to see that the traffic is stopped. The Vermonters, however, withstood the temptation -- it, indeed, it be not improper to suppose that they could be tempted thus to overstep the bounds of propriety. They exhibited their prudence by filling their haversacks with fresh provisions, purchasing portable filters, changing their paper money for silver, writing letters home, and otherwise improving their time like reasonable men. The following is a list of the officers.
About 2 1/2 o'clock regimental line was formed in front of the City Hall, where several hundred of the sons of Vermont, resident in the City, had assembled to witness the presentation of a flag. The regiment was in full marching dress, knapsacks, haversacks, and blankets slung, and though the sun was scorching hot, stood manfully the speechifying, which for more than an hour they were compelled to undergo.
It was no vain ceremony. The flag was tendered because its donors knew Vermont and cherished a remembrance of her, and therefore desired to have her sons carry with them some symbol of that remembrance. Vermont had a rough surface, but cultivated intellect. She was cold in her high mountains, but she had a warm and generous heart. There was no State in this Union that would send men to this battle who would understand better their duty. Their bayonets could think as well as speak, because their little State was full of school houses, and newspapers and churches, and colleges and academies.

She had sent them out as her representatives on the battle-field, and asked them not to dishonor her. He felt a confidence that they would not dishonor Vermont, for he saw that in their countenances that reminded him of those who, eighty four years ago, stood by JOHN STARK at Bennington, by ETHAN ALLEN at Ticonderoga, and by SETH WARNER. They had a name to sustain. Gen. BEAUREGARD had said that they were going for beauty, but God knew that they had better beauty at home than any they would find South.

Listed among the companies:

Company H, Fletcher -- Wm. T. Burnham, Captain; Jerome B. Case, First Lieutenant; Chester K. Leach, Second Lieutenant.

Chester Leach survived the war, having seen significant action, but his brother died of typhoid and is buried just up the road from The Compound.  There are three-score Civil War vets linked with our small town of Fletcher, and tens of thousands from Vermont.  Many of the boys hallowed the ground at Gettysburg, called upon by their government and honor to suppress rebellion, and to free the oppressed.  All because some folks decided the regular political process was too cumbersome, so treason and violence was the only resort...


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June 25, 9:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

a lion still has claws

It's a nice day for a red wedding.


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June 25, 5:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

We, The...

On this anniversary of Virginia's ratifying our Constitution (the tenth State to do so), I thought a few vignettes from their convention were worthy of some propagation.  First, I give you Super Patriot Patrick Henry:

[S]ir, give me leave to demand, What right had they to say, We, the people? My political curiosity, exclusive of my anxious solicitude for the public welfare, leads me to ask, Who authorized them to speak the language of, We, the people, instead of, We, the states?

He feared enslavement by government, and claimed to hate slavery, however

Among ten thousand implied powers which they may assume, they may, if we be engaged in war, liberate every one of your slaves if they please...Have they not power to provide for the general defence and welfare? May they not think that these call for the abolition of slavery? May they not pronounce all slaves free, and will they not be warranted by that power? This is no ambiguous implication or logical deduction. The paper speaks to the point: they have the power in clear, unequivocal terms, and will clearly and certainly exercise it. As much as I deplore slavery, I see that prudence forbids its abolition. I deny that the general government ought to set them free, because a decided majority of the states have not the ties of sympathy and fellow-feeling for those whose interest would be affected by their emancipation. The majority of Congress is to the north, and the slaves are to the south.

It's a puzzle that Super Patriot From A Slave State focused so much on states' and not individual rights.  Anyway, he was answered thus by Edmund Pendleton (who was unanimously elected president of the convention):

Personify government: apply to it as a friend to assist you, and it will grant your request. This is the only government founded in real compact. There is no quarrel between government and liberty; the former is the shield and protector of the latter. The war is between government and licentiousness, faction, turbulence, and other violations of the rules of society, to preserve liberty...

But an objection is made to the form: the expression, We, the people, is thought improper. Permit me to ask the gentleman who made this objection, who but the people can delegate powers? Who but the people have a right to form government? The expression is a common one, and a favorite one with me. The representatives of the people, by their authority, is a mode wholly inessential. If the objection be, that the Union ought to be not of the people, but of the state governments, then I think the choice of the former very happy and proper. What have the state governments to do with it? Were they to determine, the people would not, in that case, be the judges upon what terms it was adopted.

Henry was no democrat, and no fan of the proposed republican framework, either.  He spoke near the end of Virginia's Convention:

[A]fter observing that the proposal of ratification was premature, and that the importance of the subject required the most mature deliberation, proceeded thus: — The honorable member must forgive me for declaring my dissent from it; because, if I understand it rightly, it admits that the new system is defective, and most capitally; for, immediately after the proposed ratification, there comes a declaration that the paper before you is not intended to violate any of these three great rights — the liberty of religion, liberty of the press, and the trial by jury. What is the infercnce when you enumerate the rights which you are to enjoy? That those not enumerated are relinquished. There are only three things to he retained — religion, freedom of the press, and jury trial. Will not the ratification carry every thing, without excepting these three things? Will not all the world pronounce that we intended to give up all the rest? Every thing it speaks of, by way of rights, is comprised in these things. 
Is it not worth while to turn your eyes, for a moment, from subsequent amendments to the situation of your country? Can you have a lasting union in these circumstances? It will be in vain to expect it. But if you agree to previous amendments, you shall have union, firm and solid.

I cannot conclude without saying that I shall have nothing to do with it, if subsequent amendments be determined upon. Oppressions will be carried on as radically by the majority when adjustments and accommodations will be held up. I say, I conceive it my duty, if this government is adopted before it is amended, to go home. I shall act as I think my duty requires. Every other gentleman will do the same. Previous amendments, in my opinion, are necessary to procure peace and tranquillity. 1 fear, if they be not agreed to, every movement and operation of government will cease; and how long that baneful thing, civil discord, will stay from this country, God only knows. When men are free from restraint, how long will you suspend their fury? The interval between this and bloodshed is but a moment. The licentious and wicked of the community will seize with avidity every thing you hold. In this unhappy situation, what is to be done r It surpasses my stock of wisdom. If you will, in the language of freemen, stipulate that there are rights which no man under heaven can take from you, you shall have me going along with you; not otherwise.

[Here Mr. Henry informed the committee that he had a resolution prepared, to refer a declaration of rights, with certain amendments to the most exceptionable parts of the Constitution, to the other states in the confederacy, for their consideration, previous to its ratification. The clerk than read the resolution, the declaration of rights, and amendments...]

Madison, who really wanted a clean ratification, embraced the amendment proposals but as something to be pressed for AFTER ratification:

I am persuaded that the gentlemen who contend for previous amendments are not aware of the dangers which must result. Virginia, after having made opposition, will be obliged to recede from it. Might not the nine states say, with a great deal of propriety, "It is not proper, decent, or right, in you, to demand that we should reverse what we have done. Do as we have done; place confidence in us, as we have done in one another; and then we shall freely, fairly, and dispassionately consider and investigate your propositions, and endeavor to gratify your wishes. But if you do not do this, it is more reasonable that you should yield to us than we to you. You cannot exist without us; you must be a member of the Union."

The case of Maryland, instanced by the gentleman, does not hold. She would not agree to confederate, because the other states would not assent to her claims of the western lands. Was she gratified? No; she put herself like the rest. Nor has she since been gratified. The lands are in the common stock of the Union.

As far as his amendments are not objectionable, or unsafe, so far they may be subsequently recommended--not because they are necessary, but because they can produce no possible danger, and may gratify some gentlemen's wishes. But I never can consent to his previous amendments, because they are pregnant with dreadful dangers.

Following a plea by Governor Edmund Randolph to vote for Union (despite his having voted against the final Constitution in Philadelphia) so Virginia wouldn't be left behind, Henry stayed his course and introduced a resolution to delay of ratification until the States could also consider Virginia's proposed changes.  That was narrowly defeated, 88-80.  The main question on approving the Constitution passed by a similar margin, 89-79.

At that point, the threat of disunion was greater than the danger posed to Liberty by a strong government.  Most likely that's still true even today..


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June 25, 1:50 PM in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, 06/24/2016

So he's a bit of a fixer upper

People make bad choices if they're mad or scared or stressed, but throw a little love their way...


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June 24, 11:55 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

There Are None So Blind As Those Who Will Not Turn On The Heater

A blind man was riding an unheated train:

From Bryansk he was traveling home with his fate.

Fate whispered to him so the whole car could hear:
And why should you care about blindness and war?

It’s good, she was saying, you’re sightless and poor.
If you were not blind, you’d never survive.

The Germans won’t kill you, you’re nothing to them.
Allow me to lift that bag on your shoulder—

The one with the holes, the empty torn one.
Let me just raise your eyelids wide open.

The blind man was traveling home with his fate,
Now thankful for blindness. Happy about it.

Arseny Tarkovsky.


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June 24, 11:17 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Brexit: A Re-enactment

Angela Merkel and David Cameron say goodbye.


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June 24, 10:56 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

So now it's time to leave and make it alone

Bye, Felicia:

The evacuation of the British, and the entrance of the Americans, produced in the inhabitants mingled feelings of joy and sadness. The whigs greatly rejoiced at their deliverance, while the families of loyalists were saddened by the change. There was a marked contrast between the troops that left and the troops that came. "We had been accustomed for a long time to military display in all the finish and finery of garrison life," said an American lady to Mr. Irving; "the troops just leaving us were as if equipped for show, and with their scarlet uniforms and burnished arms, made a brilliant display; the troops that marched in, on the contrary, were ill-clad and weather-beaten, and made a forlorn appearance; but they were _our_ troops, and as I looked at them and thought upon all they had done and suffered for us, my heart and my eyes were full, and I admired and gloried in them the more, because they _were_ weather-beaten and forlorn."[6]

But joy was the predominant feeling, and on that night the city was a scene of public festivity, and demonstrations of unbounded pleasure. The governor gave a feast, and splendid fireworks illuminated the town.

Sorry not sorry for enjoying #Brexit's historical whatevers.  It's like the Articles of Confederation, but nobody got to Annapolis, let alone Philadelphia.  Perhaps fodder for the next Harry Turtledove series...


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June 24, 10:33 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

You're probably gonna start a fight

#Brexit is good news for Donald Trump.


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June 24, 9:56 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

When in the Course of human events...

I pray that the United States does not suffer unduly from its want of a monarchy.

 - King George III to Parliament, 5 December, 1782

This is how John Adams described the first audience with his former monarch as a US Ambassador, 1 June, 1785:

The King listened to every word I said with dignity, it is true, but with an apparent Emotion." Whether it was the Nature of the Interview, or whether it was my visible Agitation, for I felt more than I did or could express, that touched him, I cannot say, but he was much affected, and answered me with more tremor, than I had spoken with, and said


The Circumstances of this Audience are so extraordinary, the language you have now held is so extremely proper and the Feelings you have discovered, so justly adapted to the occasion that I must say, that I not only receive with Pleasure, the Assurances of the friendly Dispositions of the United States, but that I am very glad the Choice has fallen upon you to be their Minister. I wish you, Sir, to believe, and that it may be understood in America, that I have done nothing in the late contest, but what I thought myself indispensably bound to do by the Duty which I owed to my people. I will be very frank with you. I was the last to consent to the separation; but the separation having been made, and having become inevitable, I have always said as I say now, that I would be the first to meet the Friendship of the United States as an independent Power. The moment I see such sentiments and Language as yours prevail, and a disposition to give this country the Preference, that moment I shall say let the Circumstances of Language, Religion and blood, have their natural and full Effect....

The King then asked me, whether I came last from France, and, upon my answering in the affirmative, he put on an air of Familiarity, and smiling or rather laughing said "There is an opinion, among some People, that you are not the most attracted of all your Countrymen, to the manners of France." I was surprised at this, because I thought it, an Indiscretion and a descent from his Dignity. I was a little embarrassed, but determined not to deny the Truth on the one hand, nor leave him to infer from it, any attachment to England on the other, I threw off as much Gravity as I could and assumed an air of Gaiety and a Tone of Derision, as far as was decent, and said "That opinion Sir, is not mistaken, I must avow to your Majesty, I have no Attachment but to my own Country." The King replied, as quick as lightning "An honest Man will never have any other."

Wonder how Angela Merkel will greet Sebastian Wood next time they bump into each other?


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June 24, 9:12 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Three Reverences



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June 24, 8:28 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Texas Secesh: Still Crazy But Cute After All These Years

I needed a good chuckle today:

From the looks of it, the British people have chosen to take control of their political and economic destiny. The forces of fear have lost. It is now important for Texas to look to ‪#‎Brexit‬ as an inspiration and an example that Texans can also take control of our destiny. It is time for Texans to rally with us and fight for the right to become a self-governing nation.

Of course the Lisbon Treaty has an explicit stipulation about how to leave the Union.  The US Constitution? No. Such. Thing.

But I'm willing to accept the dicta in Texas v White that We the Rest of the Several States can consent to see you sorry ass go.


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June 24, 7:58 PM in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

Current Mood

I think I've seen this movie before.


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June 24, 6:31 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Not a drum was heard, not a funeral note...

No Take Backsies:

In a segment during the BBC’s rolling coverage of events, Adam was introduced as a Leave voter and asked for his reaction.

He said: “I’m a bit shocked to be honest.

“I’m shocked that we voted for Leave, I didn’t think that was going to happen.

“I didn’t think my vote was going to matter too much because I thought we were just going to remain.”

Some guy in the woods:

What is the price-current of an honest man and patriot to-day? They hesitate, and they regret, and sometimes they petition; but they do nothing in earnest and with effect. They will wait, well disposed, for others to remedy the evil, that they may no longer have it to regret. At most, they give only a cheap vote, and a feeble countenance and Godspeed, to the right, as it goes by them. There are nine hundred and ninety-nine patrons of virtue to one virtuous man; but it is easier to deal with the real possessor of a thing than with the temporary guardian of it.

All voting is a sort of gaming, like checkers or backgammon, with a slight moral tinge to it, a playing with right and wrong, with moral questions; and betting naturally accompanies it. The character of the voters is not staked. I cast my vote, perchance, as I think right; but I am not vitally concerned that that right should prevail. I am willing to leave it to the majority. Its obligation, therefore, never exceeds that of expediency. Even voting for the right is doing nothing for it. It is only expressing to men feebly your desire that it should prevail. A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority. There is but little virtue in the action of masses of men.

Let's make sure we keep our Republic on this side of the pond, at least.


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June 24, 9:54 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, 06/23/2016

Paintings By Whistler

"The title Nocturnes is to be interpreted here in a general and, more particularly, in a decorative sense."


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June 23, 11:48 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Oтвечает: «Я».

The Muse:

When in the night I await her coming,
My life seems stopped. I ask myself: What
Are tributes, freedom, or youth compared
To this treasured friend holding a flute?
Look, she's coming! She throws off her veil
And watches me, steady and long. I say:
"Was it you who dictated to Dante the pages
Of Hell?" And she answers: "I am the one."

Anna Akhmatova.


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June 23, 11:23 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Perhaps Trump Should Try A Sit-in To Help His Grift

Bless her heart:

Fox News contributor Stacey Dash blasted House Democrats for conducting what she said was an “uncivilized” protest in an effort to get a vote on gun safety bills.

On Thursday’s edition of Outnumbered, Dash agreed with House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), who called the Democrats’ protest a “fundraising stunt.”

“That’s all it is,” she opined. “It’s so uncivilized. I’ve never seen anything so uncivilized in my life. And in the House chamber, I mean, to behave that way.”

To be fair, C-SPAN didn't exist when Matthew Lyon and Charles Sumner were in office, so she can be forgiven for not seeing things more uncivilized than a Civil Rights veteran sitting.


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June 23, 10:51 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

They Write Letters

Vermonters represent on June 23, 1775:

A letter from the officers of Crown Point, dated June 10, 1775 was laid before the Congress.

Information being given, that Col. Allen and Captn. Seth Warner who brought the letter were at the door, ∥and had some things of importance to communicate,∥

Ordered, That they be called in. After they withdrew, the Congress took the letter and information into consideration.

Resolved, That it be recommended to the Officer commanding in the New York department, to procure, as soon as possible, a list of the men employed in taking and garrisoning Crown Point and Ticonderogo, and keeping possession of the lakes, and also of their disbursements, in order that they may be paid.

Resolved, That their pay be the same as that of the officers and privates in the American Army; the highest of the officers not to exceed that of a captain, and that the pay commence the third day of last May, and continue until they are discharged.

Resolved, That it be recommended to the convention of New York, that they, consulting with General Schuyler, employ in the army to be raised for the defence of America, those called Green Mountain Boys, under such officers as the sd Green Mountain Boys shall chuse.

The letter in question:

HONOURED SIRS: We, whose names are prefixed above, do in council approve of and nominate Colonel Ethan Allen, Captain Seth Warner, and Captain Remember Baker, to meet you in Congress, to consult and have your advice upon this move, which we have understood that you have approved; we are now in possession of Ticonderoga and Crown Point. And this day, at five o' clock, our armed sloop and schooners arrived here and furnished us with intelligence, that about three hundred of the Regular forces were at St˙ John' s, fortifying and intrenching upon the Grants, near this place. We think it might be practicable, in case of emergency, to raise about five hundred men, in case (as they are poor) of encouragement. Colonel Allen has behaved, in this affair, very singularly remarkable for his courage, and must, in duty recommend him to you and the whole Continent.

A number of gentlemen, among whom were Major Elmore, of Connecticut, and Colonel Easton, ofPittsfield, contributed, as a present, to a number of Indians of the Caughnawagas and CaptainNinham, of Stockbridge, largely, out of their own pockets, who ask no fee nor reward; it was given upon their assurance of friendship. The majority of us have seen the marks of his abuse that he had received at St˙ John' s from the Regulars; they assure us, (and we believe that the Indians will meddle in no way,) that they understand this affair to be a family dispute.

This coming, of course, in the wake of our great victory at Ticonderoga, and just about a year before the establishment of Warner's "extra-continental" regiment.  You're welcome, America.


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June 23, 10:07 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

If It Were Up To Me, I'd Arrest Led Zeppelin

Just kidding. Had no black dog in the fight, but glad for an excuse to play the greatest cover ever, featuring Heart, Jason Bonham, and YoYo Ma.  And it's not available on vinyl.  I think.


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June 23, 9:29 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Perhaps Thom Tillis Should Arrest His Own Mouth

If it were up to me, I'd not have you in the Senate:

“The business of the House is more important than the antics that we see going on there, and if it were my chamber, it would be cleared and people would be arrested, if that's what's necessary to get us back to the task at hand,” the North Carolina lawmaker said on the Senate floor. 

You're a Senator.  Why the fuck would you talk about the other chamber's prerogative?

 “Why people would use the pulpit of the House floor of the House chamber to advance their political agenda..."

Indeed, it's a mystery why they would use their chamber to advance their political agenda as opposed to what you're doing.


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June 23, 8:53 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Day The Media Servers Died

A Facebook friend inadvertently reminded me of The Portable Phonograph just recently:

The old man seated himself laboriously, and reached out, groaning at the movement, to put another block of peat on the fire. With bowed heads and averted eyes, his three guests acknowledged his magnanimity. “We thank you, Doctor Jenkins, for the reading,” said the man who had named the books. They seemed then to be waiting for something. Doctor Jenkins understood, but was loath to comply. In an ordinary moment he would have said nothing. But the words of The Tempest, which he had been reading, and the religious attention of the three, made this an unusual occasion.

“You wish to hear the phonograph,” he said grudgingly. The two middle-aged men stared into the fire, unable to formulate and expose the enormity of their desire. The young man, however, said anxiously, between suppressed coughs, “Oh, please,” like an excited child.

The old man rose again in his difficult way, and went to the back of the cell. He returned and placed tenderly upon the packed floor, where the firelight might fall upon it, an old portable phonograph in a black case. He smoothed the top with his hand, and then opened it. The lovely green-felt-covered disc became visible. “I have been using thorns as needles,” he said. “But tonight, because we have a musician among us” – he bent his head to the young man, almost invisible in the shadow – “I will use a steel needle. There are only three left.” The two middle-aged men stared at him in speechless adoration. The one with the big hands, who wanted to write, moved his lips, but the whisper was not audible.

“Oh, don’t!” cried the young man, as if he were hurt. “The thorns will do beautifully.” “No,” the old man said. “I have become accustomed to the thorns, but they are not really good. For you, my young friend, we will have good music tonight. After all,” he added generously, and beginning to wind the phonograph, which creaked, “they can’t last forever.” “No, nor we,” the man who needed to write said harshly. “The needle, by all means.” “Oh, thanks,” said the young man. “Thanks,” he said again in a low, excited voice, and then stifled his coughing with a bowed head.

“The records, though,” said the old man when he had finished winding, “are a different matter. Already they are very worn. I do not play them more than once a week. One, once a week, that is what I allow myself. More than a week I cannot stand it; not to hear them,” he apologized. “No, how could you?” cried the young man. “And with them here like this.” “A man can stand anything,” said the man who wanted to write, in his harsh, antagonistic voice. “Please, the music,” said the young man. “Only the one,” said the old man. “In the long run, we will remember more that way.”

Yes, I have a thing for post-apocalyptic and dystopian stories about mundane things from our epoch.


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June 23, 8:13 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Setting The Communist Manifesto To Music

Let us ponder the irresistible decline of our existing social classes...


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June 23, 7:40 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

I Wanna Play Poker With Abigail Fisher's Lawyer

Time for today's edition of Spot The Tell:

Fisher expressed disappointment in Thursday’s decision. “I hope that the nation will one day move beyond affirmative action,” she said.

Blum, who has also spearheaded lawsuits against affirmative action programs at Harvard and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said that the Supreme Court’s ruling could lead to a weakening of “the social fabric that holds us together as a nation.”

“Today’s decision is a sad step backward for the original, colorblind principles to our civil rights laws,” he said in a statement.

Actually, our civil rights laws were very much the opposite of colorblind: they recognize society was not, and coincdentally to the detriment of certain people of color, and therefore the law had to step in to correct the problem.  Saying you're colorblind is admitting you're blind to victims of color.


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June 23, 6:17 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)


There are days I really miss the Fortress of Solitude.


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June 23, 10:19 AM in Family Life | Permalink | Comments (2)

Adventures In Bad Legislating

This is a nation that developed the world's most destructive weapon, is the only one to have actually used one (two!) in war, and yet somehow since that time we also sent humans to the moon and ended up, so far, not causing a global nuclear holocaust.  This is a nation that finds new and inventive ways to prevent women from exercising their reproductive rights.  This is a nation that cleverly attacks non-existent problems like voter fraud to disenfranchise minority voters

All that, but we can't, among all the nations of the world, figure out how to mitigate the violence, particularly involving guns, in our society.  That's the backdrop to the frustration many Americans feel, and the desperate measures House Dems have taken during their remarkable sit-in.

Make no mistake: any solution that relies on the No Fly List is bad, bad, bad.  I'd also submit that outright bans probably aren't going to work, either.

That said, I'm completely sympathetic with John Lewis et al.  This Congress thought it was a great idea to vote on actively eroding the 4th Amendment (Senate) and gutting a rule that requires bankers to do their jobs with client interests in mind (House).  Then they throw up their hands and say nothing to do about all the shootings, sorry.

The Dems' stated goal of a (losing) vote on some bad law isn't necessarily bad itself, however.  Like many "stunts", the real object is to force a reaction.  At the very least, they put their differences with the Do Nothing/Know Nothing GOP in stark relief.  That's particularly good if the other side can't even come up with alternatives, and is left sputtering on Twitter.

I'd love to see a complete pivot away from this demand and toward something more constructive.  How about: "okay, you don't like this approach, so let's skip it.  While we're at it, let's kill the No Fly List.  Oh, also maybe let us create a Department of Peace, and end the ban on gun research by the CDC so we can at least start examining violence inherent in our society and why the fuck other countries don't go through the same shit every other goddamned day?"

It's not like sitting around has gotten us anywhere...


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June 23, 9:36 AM in Constitution, Schmonstitution, Pax Americana, RKBA | Permalink | Comments (3)

Wednesday, 06/22/2016

Go your way, I'll go mine and conceal carry on.

The questions of a thousand dreams, what you do and what you see...


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June 22, 11:59 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Nobody Wants A May Wedding, Anyway

The Cherry Trees:

The cherry trees bend over and are shedding
On the old road where all that passed are dead,
Their petals, strewing the grass as for a wedding
This early May morn when there is none to wed.

Edward Thomas.


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June 22, 11:14 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

"Calculated merely to amuse, or rather to deceive."

Due process is as due process does:

[The Senate] voted on legislation from Republican Arizona Sen. John McCain to chip just a little bit more of the Fourth Amendment away by allowing the FBI to skip that whole judicial review process when collecting electronic records of suspects. This is their answer to Orlando, even though it's not an answer at all. The FBI director, in fact, said it wouldn't have made a difference because the FBI had the shooter's electronic records, obtained with a judge's consent. Oh well.

And yes, this is the same Republican party that argued keeping people on the terrorist watch list from getting guns was a problem because there wasn't judicial process. No, it doesn't make any sense.

Sure it makes sense, just as it does for Democrats to push their legislation tied to a No Fly List that they decried during the Bush Interregnum.  It's always surprising to me when people are surprised that the political process involves politics.  Context matters, as do changing circumstances, which is completely consistent with how we've done shit since we first argued about the Bill of Rights.


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June 22, 10:21 PM in Constitution, Schmonstitution, RKBA | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fear is the lock

And laughter the stock and barrel?


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June 22, 9:17 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Where Does My Nose Begin?

What, sir, is the use of a militia? It is to prevent the establishment of a standing army, the bane of liberty.

 - Elbridge Gerry, debating the Second Amendment on 17 August, 1789

Not that I agree with Prohibition, nor total bans on any particular firearms, but John Finch, Chairman of the Prohibition National Committee, does offer some counsel from the 19th century that we might consider:

Unrestrained natural liberty is the enemy of civil liberty. Let me illustrate: It was personal liberty that enabled Guiteau to send the bullet through the back of President Garfield. It is civil liberty which will hang him on the 30th of June. Do you see the difference? It is personal liberty that would let me meet you on the street and knock your brains out with a club; it is civil liberty that would punish me for the crime...

Personal liberty means individual or brute liberty. Civil liberty means the restraint of personal liberty. I have a legal right to fill my mouth with tobacco, and chew, and chew and spit. I do not believe I have the physical and moral right.

I have a right to chew and spit that way, or chew and spit the other way—it is none of your business. You grant that right if I am alone on the prairie. I go into a crowd of men and exercise the right. I chew and spit in one man's facer and chew and spit in another man's ear. I would be knocked down in a minute. As a man hits me on the ear, I exclaim, "Is not this a free country?" "Yes." "Have not I a right to spit?" You would teach me that my right to spit ceased where your right not to be spit upon began.

This arm is my arm and my wife's; it is not yours. Up here I have a right to strike out with it as I please. I go over there with these gentlemen and swing my arm and exercise the natural right which you have granted;. I hit one man on the nose, another under the ear, and as I go down the stairs on my head, I cry out:

"Is not this a free country?"

"Yes, sir."

"Have not I a right to swing my arm?"

"Yes, but your right to swing your arm leaves off where my right not to have my nose struck begins."

Here civil government comes in to prevent bloodshed, adjust rights and settle disputes.

Natural rights have inherent limits because they inevitably come into conflict with other natural rights.  Constitutional rights have explicit and implicit limits, even the precious RKBA.  You might claim that you're protecting yourself, but the political process exists for all of of us to protect ourselves.  Trying to find a balance is not infringement: it's the way this shit is supposed to work.


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June 22, 8:44 PM in Conscience, Constitution, Schmonstitution, RKBA | Permalink | Comments (0)

Our House

We've got 2 dogs and a seemingly infinite number of Schroedinger's cats in the yard.


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June 22, 7:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Great Fathers

May the Sword of the Parent never be Stain'd with the Blood of her Children.

 - Recorded by John Adams (perhaps offered by Pernicious Quaker John Dickinson) in his diary, 20 October, 1774

My 3 and 3/8s regular readers know I liked to ignore the present by diving into historical papers at times, and today is an exemplar.  The Continental Congress' Journal notes on 24 June, 1776:

Two Letters from General Washington, of the 20 and 21, with sundry papers enclosed, were laid before Congress and read: Whereupon,

Resolved, That a letter be written to the General, desiring him to put a stop to the raising the companies of Mohickan and Stockbridge Indians, mentioned in one of the enclosed papers; and that a like letter be written to Governor Trumbull.

That the letters, with the enclosed papers, be referred to the Board of War and Ordnance.

A letter, from the convention of New Jersey, dated 21, with sundry papers, containing the questions proposed to Mr. William Franklin, his behavior ∥on the occasion,∥ and the resolution of the Convention, "declaring him a virulent enemy to this country, and a person that may prove dangerous, and that the said William Franklin be confined in such place and manner as the Continental Congress shall direct;" Whereupon,

Resolved, That William Franklin be sent under guard to Governor Trumbull, who is desired to take his parole; and, if Mr. Franklin refuses to give his parole, that Governor Trumbull be desired to treat him agreeable to the resolutions of Congress respecting prisoners.

This just caught my interest because of the strange relationship between The Great White Father and real natives about whom Trump forgets, as well as that of Super Patriot Benjamin Franklin and his Loyalist bastard son.  Everything's a lot more complicated than pat histories would suggest, but it does seem a House Divided can, in fact, stand...


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June 22, 7:08 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wrong Week

For just about everything, it would seem.


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June 22, 6:42 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)