Tuesday, 03/03/2015

History Is Bunk

Which is probably why I like it so much.


March 3, 7:56 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Objects Of The Most Stupendous Magnitude

My prepared remarks for today.


PS--I cribbed a little.

March 3, 9:29 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Direct Democracy In Action

Town Meeting today.  Busy being all democratic.  Will bring news of either my triumphant re-election to, or shameful booting from, the Selectboard.


March 3, 8:16 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, 03/02/2015

Heh, He Said 'Duty'

To be fair, the Dersh didn't say there was a constitutional mandate (like some people enjoy inventing).  He merely asserted there's some sort of vague, morally-relativistic duty for Democrats to listen to a foreign national undermine delicate talks with an almost-nuke-capable regime.


March 2, 4:29 PM in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)

I Have The Conch

I don't understand why Lord of the Flies governance isn't effective and scalable:

In America, libertarian ideas are attractive to mostly young, white men with high ideals and no life experience that live off of the previous generation’s investments and sacrifice.  I know this because as a young, white idiot, I subscribed to this system of discredited ideas:  Selfishness is good, government is bad. Take what you want, when you want and however you can.  Poor people deserve what they get, and the smartest, hardworking people always win.  So get yours before someone else does.  I read the books by Charles Murray and have an autographed copy of Ron Paul’s “The Revolution.” The thread that links all the disparate books and ideas is that they fail in practice.  Eliminate all taxes, privatize everything, load a country up with guns and oppose all public expenditures, you end up with Honduras.

Honduras is the new Somalia!  I must update my notes.

Apropos of nothing, I have 4 little libertarians running around screaming.  One hopes they grow up.


March 2, 8:50 AM | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, 03/01/2015

In The Mood

Not for leeks or leaks, though.


March 1, 10:29 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Pissing In The Snow

More (Not Darrell) Issa:

Pissing in the snow
outside my door--
it makes a very straight hole.

When Mex does, it's always at an angle.


March 1, 8:47 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Speaking Of Ben Franklin

Oh yeah, does he have a decades long history of public service, or is it just the same first name and title that fools you?

[T]he candidate who aroused the most intense enthusiasm was Ben Carson. Evan, a 17-year old proudly wearing a "Run Ben Run" sticker on his lapel, was effusive in his praise. "He's not run by lobbyists," he said. "His policies are going to be what he believes in…he has integrity." A group of college students relaxing on couches in the expo hall agreed that if the GOP wants to win in 2016, Carson needs to be a factor. "I love Ben," said Blake, a college student from Illinois. Carson is, he said, "the Ben Franklin of our time."

To his credit, he does believe in vaccination...


March 1, 7:27 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Enumerate This

Second to my beloved Post Office, I really love the constitutionl provision that provides for our decennial census.  President Washington signed the first act enabling enumeration of Americans on March 1, 1790.  Naturally there was debate about how best to go about the mandate, whether there'd be enough time to complete everything, etc.

James Madison observed on January 25:

[T]hey had now an opportunity of obtaining the most useful information for those who should hereafter be called upon to legislate for their country if this bill was extended so as to embrace some other objects besides the bare enumeration of the inhabitants; it would enable them to adapt the public measures to the particular circumstances of the community. In order to know the various interests of the United States, it was necessary that the description of the several classes into which the community was divided, should be accurately known; on this knowledge the legislature might proceed to make a proper provision for the agricultural, commercial and manufacturing interests, but without it they could never make their provisions in due proportion.

This kind of information, he observed, all legislatures had wished for; but this kind of information had never been obtained in any country. He wished, therefore, to avail himself of the present opportunity of accomplishing so valuable a purpose. If the plan was pursued in taking every future census, it would give them an opportunity of marking the progress of the society, and distinguishing the growth of every interest. This would furnish ground for many useful calculations, and at the same time answer the purpose of a check on the officers who were employed to make the enumeration, forasmuch as the aggregate number was divided into parts, any imposition might be discovered with proportionable ease. If these ideas met the approbation of the house, he hoped they would pass over the schedule in the second clause of the bill, and he would endeavor to prepare something to accomplish this object.

The following day he presented a plan:

...which he moved should be inserted in lieu of that annexed to the bill, viz.

Free white males, under 16; free white males, above 16; white females, free blacks, and slaves, the heads of families, &c.

And he likewise proposed that a particular schedule should be included in the bill, specifying the number of persons employed in different professions and arts, carried on within the United States; such as merchants, mechanics, manufacturers, &c. &c.

There was debate on Groundhog Day:

Mr. Livermore apprehended this plan was too extensive to be carried into operation, and divided the people into classes too minute to be readily ascertained.

For example, many inhabitants of New Hampshire pursued two, three, or four occupations, but which was the principal one depended upon the season of the year, or some other adventitious circumstance; some followed weaving in the spring and summer, but the making of shoes was the most predominant in the fair and winter; under what class are these people to be thrown, especially if they joined husbandry and carpenter's work to the rest? He was confident the distinction which the gentleman wished to make could not be performed; he was therefore against adding additional labor, and consequently, incurring additional expense, whether the work was executed or not.

Besides this, he apprehended it would excite the jealousy of the people; they would suspect that Government was so particular, in order to learn their ability to bear the burthen of direct or other taxes, and under this idea, they may refuse to give the officer such a particular account as the law requires, by which means you expose him to great inconvenience and delay in the performance of his duty.

Mr. Sedgwick understood, when the bill was recommitted, it was intended to specify every class of citizens, into which the community was divided, in order to ascertain the actual state of the society. Now, he had to ask, why it was not extended further? He thought the learned professions should be returned, as well as the others, and would furnish as grateful information as the return of any other. The state of society could be ascertained, perhaps, in some decree, from observing these proportions.

Mr. Madison.—If the object to bp attained by this particular enumeration be as important in the judgment of this House, as it appears to my mind, they will not sutler a small defect in the plan to defeat the whole. And I am very sensible, Mr. Speaker, that there will be more difficulty attendant on the taking the census,in the way required by the constitution, and which we are obliged to perform, than there will be in the additional trouble of making all the distinctions contemplated in the bill. The classes of people most troublesome to enumerate, in this schedule, are happily those resident in large towns, as the greatest number of artisans live in populous cities and compact settlements, where distinctions are made with great ease.

I take it, sir, that in order to accommodate our laws to the real situation of our constituents, we ought to be acquainted with that situation. It may be impossible to ascertain it as far as I wish; but we may ascertain it so far as to be extremely useful, when we come to pass laws, affecting any particular description of people.

If gentlemen have any doubts with respect to its utility, I cannot satisfy them in a better manner, than by referring them to the debates which took place upon the bills intended collaterally to benefit the agricultural, commercial, and manufacturing parts of the community. Did they not wish then to know the relative proportion of each, and the exact number of every division, in order that they might rest their arguments on facts, instead of assertions and conjectures?

Will any gentleman pretend to doubt but our regulations would have been better accommodated to the real state of the society than they are? If our decisions had been influenced by actual returns would they not have been varied, according as the one ude or the other was more or less numerous? We should have given less encouragement in some instances, and more in others; but in everv instance, we should have proceeded with more light and satisfaction.

The gentleman from Massachusetts, (Mr. Sedgwick) has asked, why the learned professions were not included: I have no objection to giving a column to the general body. I think the work would be rendered more complete by the addition, and if the decision of such a motion turned upon my voice, they shall beadded. But it may nevertheless be o&served, that in such a character they can never be objects of legislative attention or cognizance.

As to those who are employed in teaching and inculcating the duties of religion there may be some indelicacy in singling them out, as the General Government is proscribed from interfering, in any manner whatever, in matters respecting religion; and it may be thought to do this; in ascertaining who, and who are not ministers of the Gospel. Conceiving the extension of the plan to be useful, and not difficult, I hope it may meet the ready concurrence of this House.

Mr. Page thought this particular method of describing the people, would occasion an alarm among them: they would suppose the Government intended something, by putting the Union to this additional expense, beside gratifying an idle curiosity; their purposes cannot be supposed the same as the historian's or philosopher's —they are statesmen, and all their measures are suspected of policy. If he had not heard the object so well explained on this floor, as one of the people he might have been jealous of the attempt, and as it could serve no real purpose,for he contended, if they were now acquainted with the minutia, they would not be benefited by it. He hoped the business would be accomplished in gome other way.

Mr. Madison thought it was more likely, that the people would suppose the information was required for its true object, namely to know in what proportion to distribute the benefits resulting from an efficient General Government.

Ultimately between the House and Senate, the more specific enumerations were dropped.  They did, however, provide for greater distinction between classes of persons than merely opting for a raw count of Americans.  

Over the years different kinds of data were gathered to better understand our growing and changing nation so as to be more effective, as James Madison thought we should.  Something for the Ron (and Rand) Pauls of the world to remember.

They should also remember that Ben Franklin was our first demographer, having penned Observations Concerning the Increase of Mankind, Peopling of Countries, etc. in 1751.  He also applied statistical methods to smallpox in 1759 with Some Account of the Success of Inoculation for the Small-Pox in England and America:

Notwithstanding the now uncontroverted success of Inoculation, it does not seem to make that progress among the common people in America, which at first was expected. Scruples of conscience weigh with many, concerning the lawfulness of the practice: And if one parent or near relation is against it, the other does not chuse to inoculate a child without free consent of all parties, lest in case of a disastrous event, perpetual blame should follow.

These scruples a sensible Clergy may in time remove. The expence of having the operation perform’d by a Surgeon, weighs with others, for that has been pretty high in some parts of America; and where a common tradesman or artificer has a number in his family to have the distemper, it amounts to more money than he can well spare. Many of these, rather than own the true motive for declining Inoculation, join with the scrupulous in the cry against it, and influence others.

A small Pamphlet wrote in plain language by some skilful Physician, and publish’d, directing what preparations of the body should be used before the Inoculation of children, what precautions to avoid giving the infection at the same time in the common way, and how the operation is to be performed, the incisions dress’d, the patient treated, and on the appearance of what symptoms a Physician is to be called, &c. might by encouraging parents to inoculate their own children, be a means of removing that objection of the expence, render the practice much more general, and thereby save the lives of thousands.

A Republic, if you enumerate and inoculate it...


March 1, 6:55 PM in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Articles, Schmarticles

We have at length finished the Confederation and shall send it to the different States in a few days with strong exortation to give it quick consideration and speedy return.

 - Richard Henry Lee to Samuel Adams, November 15, 1777

Quick consideration and speedy return.  Yeah.  Not so much: didn't go into effect until March 1, 1781 (Maryland was the last to ratify about a week earlier).

And to tell a family secret?  Slavery was a big topic during the debates, reminiscent of some sort of fractional compromise people might recall.

Anyway, as a frame of effective government, the Articles sucked.  Let's just face up to that.  As an expedience during the Revolution, they provided a bit more organization than the ad hoc Continental Congress and saw us through the early days as an independent nation.  Great, so far as that goes.

Yet Madison laid out a dozen problems with the Articles, including some faves of mine:

2. Encroachments by the States on the federal authority.
5. want of concert in matters where common interest requires it.
6. want of Guaranty to the States of their Constitutions & laws against internal violence.
7. want of sanction to the laws, and of coercion in the Government of the Confederacy.
11. Injustice of the laws of States.

#11 presaged Federalist 10 with a dash of Federalist 44, detailing the threats to liberty States pose.  #6 is pretty awesome as well:

According to Republican Theory, Right and power being both vested in the majority, are held to be synonimous. According to fact and experience a minority may in an appeal to force, be an overmatch for the majority.

1. If the minority happen to include all such as possess the skill and habits of military life, & such as possess the great pecuniary resources, one third only may conquer the remaining two thirds.

2. One third of those who participate in the choice of the rulers, may be rendered a majority by the accession of those whose poverty excludes them from a right of suffrage, and who for obvious reasons will be more likely to join the standard of sedition than that of the established Government.

3. Where slavery exists the republican Theory becomes still more fallacious.

It is left as an exercise for the reader to apply this to our contemporary political environment.


March 1, 5:16 PM in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

It's Tough Being The Majority

Finally discovered majority rule, pookie?

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) on Sunday said that Senate Republicans should change the filibuster rules.

On NBC's "Meet the Press," host Chuck Todd asked if he would support a rules change in the Senate eliminating the filibuster for legislation.

McCarthy said it's not "nuclear" when "57 percent of the Senate voted for the Collins amendment that would take away the president's action."

"That's not nuclear, when 57 percent of the American representation says it's wrong. That's not in the Constitution. I think they should change the rule," he said.

Not sure why the fuck Chuck Todd is asking a Representative about rules in the other chamber, but what's good for the goose I guess.  And being stupid isn't mentioned in the Constitution, either.


March 1, 3:03 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

I Don't Like Spiders, But I Also Don't Like Himsa

From Selected Haiku by Issa:

Don’t worry, spiders,
I keep house

Edited by Robert Hass.


March 1, 12:23 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, 02/28/2015

Funny, He Doesn't Look Massholish

You can take the Vulcan outta Bahston.


February 28, 11:09 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

L'chaim And Prosper

Spock was a real mensch:

“Leonard Nimoy grew up in a teeming Yiddish-speaking neighborhood in Boston and despite his subsequent travels through the galaxy, he never forgot where he came from,” said Aaron Lansky, the Yiddish Book Center’s founder and president. “In 1995 he hosted Jewish Short Stories from Eastern Europe and Beyond, a thirteen-part radio series produced by the Yiddish Book Center. He performed Yiddish stories, and he funded a project to record them for children. Toward the end of his life he called for increased efforts to teach Yiddish to a new generation. 
“I’m not sure any Vulcan ever spoke a more geshmak (flavorful) Yiddish,” Lansky said. “He will be missed.”
Zikhroyne livrokhe—may his memory be for a blessing.



PS--Ah, I see I used the L'chaim/LLAP joke last year on his birthday.

February 28, 10:36 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

I Am As Constant As The Northern Star

A new fellow in the firmament:

A newfound cosmic object may be a long-sought missing link that could help flesh out the black hole family tree.

The object appears to be an intermediate-mass black hole (IMBH), astronomers say. Called NGC-2276-3c, it lies in an arm of the spiral galaxy NGC-2276, about 100 million light-years from Earth.

IMBHs are thought to contain the mass of a few hundred to a few hundred thousand suns. The black holes are therefore intermediate in size between stellar-mass black holes and the behemoths that lurk at the hearts of galaxies, which can harbor billions of solar masses.

Researchers have long hypothesized the existence of IMBHs, which are believed to be the seeds from which supermassive black holes grow. But the midsize structures have proven elusive thus far.

"Astronomers have been looking very hard for these medium-sized black holes," study co-author Tim Roberts, of the University of Durham in the United Kingdom, said in a statement. "There have been hints that they exist, but the IMBHs have been acting like a long-lost relative that isn't interested in being found."

There is no true-fix’d and resting quality to our understanding of this Cosmos...


February 28, 9:54 PM in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Beam Me Up, Scotty

Life could very well be on other worlds in our solar system besides Earth.  Still no indication of whether there's intelligent life anywhere, though...


February 28, 9:08 PM in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Faster Than The Speed Of Light

No one ever dies there.


February 28, 8:20 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Seeking Of Self

By Vyacheslav Ivanov:

Dying, the seed will discover the self it finds in the losing.
That is, oh, Nature, thy law! That is thy lesson, oh, Man!
Hearing dark music, the poet knoweth no rest; he abideth—
Purer and purer the sound, clearer the fore-uttered word.

The Dude abides, too...


February 28, 7:03 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

It's Hard Being Stupid

Okay, I cop to rather obsessively hating memes.  They help make us stupid by reinforcing our beliefs through inaccuracy (by outright lies or abject ignorance).  Lots of them are crappy rhetoric about the Revolutionary Era, but they also reflect contemporary myths.

I also generally dislike cherrypicking, and all the rampant misquoting of our old white dead guys.  With plenty of spurious quotations floating around, I am ever vigilant as a service to my 3.8725 regular readers and the wider community.

Naturally, a couple of times I've tripped over sayings attributed to Ben Franklin, or taken completely out of context.  Which brings me to the latest:

We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid.

Sounds clever and pithy enough to be Franklin, right?  Well, I couldn't find a good citation anywhere, which is never wholly dispositive, but does tend to make me suspicious.  I am not alone:

I can't find any attribution of the quoted language to Franklin before about the turn of the twenty-first century. (A Google Books search finds one instance from the year 2000, in 2001 Librarian's Engagement Calendar and Almanac.) On the other hand I did find the following quotation attributed to another popular source of folk wisdom—namely, "Chinese Proverb"—in Mary Cole, The Circles of Life (2008):

He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; he who does not ask a question is a fool forever. We are all born ignorant, but to stay ignorant is a choice, without some form o education you are lost. —(Chinese Proverb)

And another folk favorite, Mark Twain, receives credit for this version of the saying, from Mohammad Mujeeb-ur-Rahman, The Betrayal of Intellect in Higher Education (1997):

Man is only born ignorant. It takes four years of college to make him stupid. —Mark Twain

The closest wording I've seen to the supposed Franklin quote before 2000 is from Earl Nightingale,This Is Earl Nightingale (1969) [combined snippets]:

Every human being has to be born ignorant and, for a time, live in ignorance. But if he remains ignorant that is his own fault. The fight against ignorance waged by everyone during his or her lifetime must be an individual, personal thing.

Unlike the other three authors I've cited so far, Nightingale takes full credit for his statement...No one offers any clear source in his work for [The Franklin quote]. I have no doubt that the attribution of this wording to Franklin is spurious.
Having rejected the attribution of the quotation cited by the OP to Franklin, I note that one source,Poor Richard's Almanac (1914), which consists of "Selections from the apothegms and proverbs" of Franklin, offers this otherwise unsourced saying:

Being ignorant is not so much a shame, as being unwilling to learn.

This quotation has a trail that goes back to Benjamin Franklin, Autobiography. Poor Richard. Letters. (1899), which lists it (with the word Shame capitalized) in a section titled "Sayings of Poor Richard, Selected from Dr. Benjamin Franklin's "Poor Richard's Almanack, 1733–1758." Even better, Bob Blaisdell, The Dover Anthology of American Literature, volume 1 (2014), assigns this Franklin quotation to the year 1755. That's the way a legitimate quotation tends to behave.

The entire discussion above, BTW, including where Franklin might have gotten his inspiration is neat, if you're so inclined.  

Anyway, it just proves Lincoln's maxim that you should never trust shit you see on the Internet, especially if it's in a picture.  You can't even completely rely on what appear to be legit source materials because of transcription errors and the like.  

It's fine to use this shit as inspiration--outside of precisely factual things, there are often grains of Truth--but let's not quote it as though it comes directly from G-d.  That's stupid.


February 28, 5:41 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Inhofe Walks Again By Night

The Further Adventures of Nick Danger via Green Mountain Daily.


February 28, 4:58 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Heh, He Said 'Harding'

Whilst reading Republican campaign material from 1916, I...um, came upon this funny part:

Time never alters a fundamental truth. Conditions do change, popular interest is self-asserting, and "paramounting" has its penis, as the Democratic party will bear witness...

It's left as an exercise to divine what really was meant before OCR screwed the pooch (Danger, Will Robinson!).  Also interesting from Harding's keynote:

The President has said ours is a provincial party, evidently forgetting the Federalist founding of our nationality and Re- publican expansion to greater national glory. The Democratic party not only fails to grasp our immensity and importance, it is sectional on the mainland and unheeding of our island possessions.

Its vision does not catch the splendor of Old Glory in the sunlight of the world. Right now when the devouring flames of war are burning most fiercely, when our national view must be world-wide to be comprehensive, the Democratic administration has proposed to set adrift an island empire, in violation of our obligations to the world, to the Philippine people and ourselves.

Amid proclamations of our ministrations in behalf of mankind it undertook to renounce its guardianship of a race of people and leave them to walk alone when they had not been fully taught to creep. A few rebellious Democrats joined the Republican minority in sparing us this national disgrace, but the design is written among the vacillations of the present administration.

The Democratic party once hauled down the flag which had been unfurled in honor in the Pacific and met rebuke at the first popular expression at the polls. No administration which hauls down the flag and none which proposes to haul it down ever can succeed itself in directing the affairs of the American people.

Ain't nothing new under the sun...


February 28, 3:14 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Discovered Country

Human rights and their defense are as old as civilization; but, more important to us, the founding American fathers wrote the covenant of a people's rule into the bond of national life, beyond all erasure or abridgement.

 - Warren Harding, speech renominating President Howard Taft (June 22, 1912)

Anthony comments below:

I asked several members of my mother's generation when they first remember people going on about [the phrase "founding fathers"], they couldn't remember it much being used before the reaction to the civil rights movement set it. That was about when I first remember hearing it being used as an assertion of the eternal and immutable minds of the gods.

I find this interesting because when talking about early American history we tend to take contemporary terminology for granted.  Does 'privacy' mean the same thing today as back in the Founding Era, or was the word more about bodily functions, with 'security' being closer to our modern concept?  And if the Pilgrims didn't really refer to themselves as such, who started it?

The various terms we use have really become shibboleth, part of our national myths.  I'd submit one of the biggest examples is the Founding Fathers:

The myth of the Founding Fathers constitutes an American master narrative which has enshrined a group of statesmen and politicians of the revolutionary and post-revolutionary period as personifications of the origin of American nationhood, republicanism, and democratic culture. More so than with the previously discussed individuals and groups. the Founding Fathers epitomize a political myth of origin that is phrased in a language of kinship. The term ‘Fathers’ suggests tradition, legitimacy, and paternity and creates an allegory of family and affiliation that affirms the union and the cohesion of the new nation. When the colonists in the revolutionary decade argued that they were no longer subjects of the British King and that they could now govern themselves (cf. Declaration of Independence), they claimed not only the maturity of the colonies and its ruling elite but also their capacity to produce progenitors in their own right. The construction of ‘new world’ authority and the logic of reproduction went hand in hand.

So where did this one come from?

No matter how many historians seek to drive a stake through its heart, the phrase “founding fathers” remains a core component of the way Americans talk about politics and government, one with remarkable rhetorical power. Given this fact, we might assume that “founding fathers” has had as long and honorable a history as “All men are created equal.” And yet, for an expression so central to Americans’ understanding of their past, and so fruitful a source of legal, political, and historiographic controversy,“founding fathers” has a surprisingly short life. It did not enter the political lexicon until the early twentieth century, and its inventor is no one you might expect.

None other than Warren Harding gets the credit.  First as Senator giving the RNC keynote address on June 7, 1916:

[W]e ought to be as genuinely American today as when the founding fathers flung their immortal defiance in the face of old-world oppressions and dedicated a new republic to liberty and justice. We ought to be as prepared for defense as Washington urged amid the anxieties of our national beginning, and Grant confirmed amid the calm reflections of union restored.
In building the surpassing temple of the republic, which we have been doing to the astonishment, sometimes the envy, sometimes the admiration of the world, and ofttimes inspiring others by our example, there ever will be modifications and additions to meet the public need and conform to popular ideals.

We do not fear to imitate nor fail to originate, but there can be no discord about underlying foundations or essential walls or proven arches or stately columns. Mine is a deep conviction that the founding fathers were divinely inspired, and the wisdom of representative popular government is proven in the surpassing achievement. 

He echoed the themes in his own inaugural on March 4, 1921:

Standing in this presence, mindful of the solemnity of this occasion, feeling the emotions which no one may know until he senses the great weight of responsibility for himself, I must utter my belief in the divine inspiration of the founding fathers. Surely there must have been God's intent in the making of this new-world Republic.

Ours is an organic law which had but one ambiguity, and we saw that effaced in a baptism of sacrifice and blood, with union maintained, the Nation supreme, and its concord inspiring. We have seen the world rivet its hopeful gaze on the great truths on which the founders wrought. We have seen civil, human, and religious liberty verified and glorified.

In the beginning the Old World scoffed at our experiment; today our foundations of political and social belief stand unshaken, a precious inheritance to ourselves, an inspiring example of freedom and civilization to all mankind. Let us express renewed and strengthened devotion, in grateful reverence for the immortal beginning, and utter our confidence in the supreme fulfillment.

It appears Harding planted the seed, but it didn't really grow to maturity until the 60s and 70s when scholars started to show great interest in whatever cohort was deemed Founding Fathers.  And now they are popularly treated as ouija boards, dragged out to provide spirit guidance on issues of the day that most likely could not have even imagined in their epoch.  Just as intended.


February 28, 2:38 PM in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Undiscovered Country

By now you've probably seen this:

Former Arizona county sheriff Richard Mack, a fierce opponent of Obamacare and a leader in the "constitutional sheriff" movement, is struggling to pay his medical bills after he and his wife each faced serious illnesses. The former sheriff and his wife do not have health insurance and started a GoFundMe campaign to solicit donations from family and friends to cover the costs of their medical care.

"Because they are self-employed, they have no medical insurance and are in desperate need of our assistance," reads a note on Mack's personal website.

Mack, the founder of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, suffered a heart attack in January and is in recovery. His wife fell ill late last year. Mack is on the board of Oath Keepers, a right-wing fringe group made up of police and military veterans, and is known forsupporting Cliven Bundy in his standoff against the federal government. He is also an ardent opponent of Obamacare.

"The States do not have to take or support or pay for Obamacare or anything else from Washington DC. The States are not subject to federal direction," he wrote on his website, outlining how state governments can block President Obama.

Would that I had the same amount of compassion as the folks giving this selfish, ignorant asshole money:

Some people like to say a conservative is a former liberal who got mugged.  Could the corollary be a liberal is a former conservative who needed help from the community?  I'm not so sure.

I've only got the emotional space right now to engage in schadenfreude.  Good on the better people who are finding common humanity with a person in need, no matter how much his problems are self-inflicted as he advocated destructive policy.


February 28, 1:05 PM in And Fuck... | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

taH Pagh taHbe'

You have not experienced Shakespeare until you have read him in the original Klingon.


February 28, 11:34 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

There's Snow Business Like Snow Business

Decades from now my children will be perusing the Congressional Record looking for blog fodder as they wait out extreme weather, and will find this:

Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Mr. President...I ask unanimous consent to show the Earth-Now Web site on the iPad device that I have.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

Mr. WHITEHOUSE. If you go to Earth-Now, it is actually quite easy to load. You can see how that polar vortex measurably brings the cold air down to New England. If you do not want--this is produced by NASA. These are pretty serious people. So you can believe NASA and you can believe what their satellites measure on the planet or you can believe the Senator with the snowball.

The U.S. Navy takes this very seriously, to the point where Admiral Locklear, who is the head of the Pacific Command, has said that climate change is the biggest threat that we face in the Pacific. He is a career military officer, and he is deadly serious. You can either believe the U.S. Navy or you can believe the Senator with the snowball.

The religious and faith groups are very clear on this, by and large. I would particularly salute the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which has made very, very clear strong statements. We are going to hear more from Pope Francis about this when he releases his encyclical and when he speaks to the joint session of Congress on September 24.

I think it will be quite clear that you can either believe the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Pope Francis or you can belief [sic] the Senator with the snowball.

In corporate America there is an immense array of major, significant, intelligent, and responsible corporations that are very clear that climate change is real. They are companies such as Coke and Pepsi; companies such as Ford, GM, and Caterpillar; companies such as Walmart and Target; companies such as VF Industries, which makes a wide array of clothing products; Nike; companies such as Mars and Nestle.

So, we have our choice. We can believe Coke and Pepsi and Ford and GM and Walmart and Target and VF Industries and Nike and Mars and Nestle; or we can believe the Senator with the snowball.

Every major American scientific society has put itself on record-- many of them a decade ago--that climate change is deadly real. They measure it. They see it. They know why it happens. The predictions correlate with what we see, as they increasingly come true. The fundamental principles--that it is derived from carbon pollution, which comes from burning fossil fuels--are beyond legitimate dispute to the point where the leading scientific organizations on the planet calls them "unequivocal.''

So you can believe every single major American scientific society or you can believe the Senator with the snowball.

There's a snowball's chance in Inhofe's hell that this will get through to anybody.  Still it's nice to have to save these debates for posterity so when everybody wonders how we killed the world, they'll see just how crazy these motherfuckers were.


PS--Yes, I know there will be no blogging in the 2050s.  Use that as a placeholder for whatever crap they'll waste time on in the Matrix.

February 28, 10:49 AM in And Fuck..., Biofuels, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, 02/27/2015

"A far better resting place that I go to than I have ever known."

Godspeed, Mr Spock.


February 27, 11:13 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

There Are Always Possibilities

Quite logical:

Solar power has been studied and tested for nearly 40 years, but only within the last few years have we seen innovations truly make leaps and bounds. Looking towards the future, scientists are now saying that with the technology we have in development today, giant solar-powered satellites able to collect energy and shoot it back down to earth could be used to power the entire globe as soon as 2041. John Mankins, former NASA scientist and U.S. Space Agency former Head of Concepts, is credited with pioneering the theory, which is creating quite the buzz with a number of international scientists and organizations.

Naturally, this reminded me of Asimov's story Reason:

Half a year later, the boys had change their minds. The flame of a giant sun had given way to the soft blackness of space but external variations mean little in the business of checking the workings of experimental robots. Whatever the background, one is face to face with an inscrutable positronic brain, which the slide-rule geniuses say should work thus-and-so.

Except that they don't. Powell and Donovan found that out after they had been on the Station less than two weeks.
"I've come to have a talk with the two of you," [the robot said quietly.]

"Oh!" Powell looked uncomfortable. "Well, sit down. No, not that chair. One of the legs is weak and you're no lightweight."

The robot did so and said placidly, "I have come to a decision."

Donovan glowered and put the remnants of his sandwich aside. "If it's on any of that screwy-"

The other motioned impatiently for silence, "Go ahead, Cutie. We're listening."

"I have spent these last two days in concentrated introspection," said Cutie, "and the results have been most interesting. I began at the one sure assumption I felt permitted to make. I, myself, exist, because I think-"

Powell groaned, "Oh, Jupiter, a robot Descartes!"

"Who's Descartes?" demanded Donovan. "Listen, do we have to sit here and listen to this metal maniac-"

"Keep quiet, Mike!"

Cutie continued imperturbably, "And the question that immediately arose was: Just what is the cause of my existence?"

Powell's jaw set lumpily. "You're being foolish. I told you already that we made you."

"And if you don't believe us," added Donovan, "we'll gladly take you apart!"

The robot spread his strong hands in a deprecatory gesture, "I accept nothing on authority. A hypothesis must be backed by reason, or else it is worthless – and it goes against all the dictates of logic to suppose that you made me."

Powell dropped a restraining arm upon Donovan's suddenly bunched fist. "Just why do you say that?"

Cutie laughed. It was a very inhuman laugh – the most machine-like utterance he had yet given vent to. It was sharp and explosive, as regular as a metronome and as uninflected.

"Look at you," he said finally. "I say this in no spirit of contempt, but look at you! The material you are made of is soft and flabby, lacking endurance and strength, depending for energy upon the inefficient oxidation of organic material – like that." He pointed a disapproving finger at what remained of Donovan's sandwich. "Periodically you pass into a coma and the least variation in temperature, air pressure, humidity, or radiation intensity impairs your efficiency. You are makeshift.

"I, on the other hand, am a finished product. I absorb electrical energy directly and utilize it with an almost one hundred percent efficiency. I am composed of strong metal, am continuously conscious, and can stand extremes of environment easily. These are facts which, with the self-evident proposition that no being can create another being superior to itself, smashes your silly hypothesis to nothing."

Donovan's muttered curses rose into intelligibility as he sprang to his feet, rusty eyebrows drawn low. "All right, you son of a hunk of iron ore, if we didn't make you, who did?"

Cutie nodded gravely. "Very good, Donovan. That was indeed the next question. Evidently my creator must be more powerful than myself and so there was only one possibility."

The Earthmen looked blank and Cutie continued, "What is the center of activities here in the station? What do we all serve? What absorbs all our attention?" He waited expectantly.

Donovan turned a startled look upon his companion. "I'll bet this tinplated screwball is talking about the Energy Converter itself."

"Is that right, Cutie?" grinned Powell.

"I am talking about the Master," came the cold, sharp answer.

It was the signal for a roar of laughter from Donovan, and Powell himself dissolved into a half-suppressed giggle.

Cutie had risen to his feet and his gleaming eyes passed from one Earthman to the other. "It is so just the same and I don't wonder that you refuse to believe. You two are not long to stay here, I'm sure. Powell himself said that at first only men served the Master; that there followed robots for the routine work; and, finally, myself for the executive labor. The facts are no doubt true, but the explanation entirely illogical. Do you want the truth behind it all?"

"Go ahead, Cutie. You're amusing."

"The Master created humans first as the lowest type, most easily formed. Gradually, he replaced them by robots, the next higher step, and finally he created me; to take the place of the last humans. From now on, I serve the Master."

Hari Seldon never could have anticipated...


February 27, 10:29 PM in Biofuels, Bitches!, Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

This Will Be Your Big Chance To Get Away From It All

Boner, I'm laughing at the superior intellect:

A House Republican effort to punt on Department of Homeland Security funding failed on the floor Friday, leaving the GOP leadership in a bind on whether to throw in the towel and pass a budget bill without immigration measures.

It's back to the drawing board with only hours to go until a DHS shutdown.

The vote failed 203 to 224, an embarrassing loss after Republican leadership had predicted they had the votes to get the three-week continuing resolution through. Fifty-two Republicans voted against funding DHS for even a matter of weeks without riders to block President Barack Obama's deportation relief and work authorizationfor undocumented immigrants.

House Democrats could have pushed the bill over the line, but most opposed it in hopes that its failure would force Republicans to fund the department for the full year, free of restrictive immigration measures.

Glad to see Dems showing spine for a change.  But sorry, terrorists, DHS employees will show up anyway...


February 27, 9:50 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Genesis Effect

And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

 - Genesis 2:9

I'm sure everybody's seen Nimoy's final tweet:

Neither Bones nor Chauncey Gardner could have said it better.  And I mean that in totally a good way.


February 27, 9:07 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

It Was The Worst Of Times


Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.), the chairman of a House Science subcommittee, says that he did not vaccinate his children.

Loudermilk was responding to a question at a town hall last week, when a woman brought up claims that the CDC covered up the link between vaccines and autism. 

"I believe it’s a parents decision whether to immunize or not," Loudermilk, a freshman member of Congress, said. He later added: "Most of our children, we didn’t immunize. They’re healthy."

He said they were home-schooled and therefore did not have to be vaccinated.

How sad that his belief is not only contrary to science, but also legal precedent.

Regardless, it's a good thing his kids never leave home to go to, say...Disneyland.  Or Stone Mountain, or Six Flags, or Wild Adventure, or the Piggly Fucking Wiggly.  You know, where the majority of Americans don't want to be with unvaccinated lepers.


February 27, 8:12 PM in And Fuck... | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

It Was The Best Of Times

I mentioned Lincoln's famous Cooper Union address earlier this month in the Tenther context.  But here's one of my favorite quotations from the speech he delivered on this date in 1860:

I do not mean to say we are bound to follow implicitly in whatever our fathers did. To do so, would be to discard all the lights of current experience - to reject all progress - all improvement. What I do say is, that if we would supplant the opinions and policy of our fathers in any case, we should do so upon evidence so conclusive, and argument so clear, that even their great authority, fairly considered and weighed, cannot stand; and most surely not in a case whereof we ourselves declare they understood the question better than we.

It is left as an exercise for the reader to determine why I like it.


February 27, 6:38 PM in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

By True, I Mean False

In Search Of...The Springfield Files.


February 27, 5:22 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

At The Grey Havens

Bilbo's Last Song:

Farewell, friends! The sails are set,
the wind is east, the moorings fret.
Shadows long before me lie,
beneath the ever-bending sky,
but islands lie behind the Sun
that I shall raise ere all is done;
lands there are to west of West,
where night is quiet and sleep is rest.

J.R.R. Tolkien.


February 27, 4:47 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

I've Been Dead Before

Best part of Nimoy's legacy...


February 27, 1:29 PM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Listen My Children And You Shall Hear Bullshit


He said to his friend, "If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light,--
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm."

I guess he can be forgiven on his birthday for making a hash of Paul Revere's ride, though not so badly as some people.


February 27, 10:37 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, 02/26/2015

I Fell Into A Burning Ring Of Fire

And it burns, burns, burns...


February 26, 9:45 PM | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

For Resistance is not of GOD, but he - hath built his works upon it.

After we came out of the church, we stood talking for some time together of Bishop Berkeley's ingenious sophistry to prove the nonexistence of matter, and that every thing in the universe is merely ideal. I observed, that though we are satisfied his doctrine is not true, it is impossible to refute it. I never shall forget the alacrity with which Johnson answered, striking his foot with mighty force against a large stone, till he rebounded from it -- "I refute it thus."

 - James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)

Senator Inhofe continues to entertain:

Inhofe chairs the Environment and Public Works Senate Committee and, by no coincidence, is the leading climate denier in Congress. On Thursday, he thought he stumbled upon the final nail in the coffins of the 97 percent of scientists who say climate change is happening: He noticed there was snow on the ground. In February.

Not one to let this perfect evidence melt through his fingers, Inhofe packed a snowball and carried it with him in a bag into the Capitol and onto the Senate Floor. During the latest in his now-almost daily speeches on the “climate change hoax,” Inhofe threw the snowball towards the front of the room with a triumphant smirk.

“Do you know what this is? It’s a snowball. It’s just from outside here, so it’s very very cold out … very unseasonable.”

Of course he gave the game away by pointing out the weather was unseasonable, which you know, climate change is kind of about.  But whatever, to the Good Senator it's all God's will anyway.  Thankfully plenty of Christians don't take his ignorant line.

Me, I'd like to refute Inhofe by kicking him in the stones.


PS--Click the pick to see the full-sized C&H strip.

February 26, 8:07 PM in Biofuels, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Knowledge Is No Longer Republican

Interesting thesis:

Many of the today’s biggest political issues, like our privacy rights, would not even be up for debate today had it not been for the attack on education. If more Americans had had a strong understanding of our history, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney would have never been able to pull off the Patriot Act. And, we wouldn’t be discussing the Orwellian government spy agencies like the NSA in this day and age.

While we can’t undo the damage to the Fourth Amendment overnight, we can protect our remaining rights by passing on accurate history, and protecting public education.

Thomas Jefferson recognized that education is vital to a functioning Democratic Republic.

In a letter to James Madison, Jefferson wrote: “And say, finally, whether peace is best preserved by giving energy to the government, or information to the people. This last is the most certain, and the most legitimate engine of government. Educate and inform the whole mass of the people. Enable them to see that it is their interest to preserve peace and order, and they will preserve them…. They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.”

In light of Oklahoma’s recent attack on AP History, it would be easy to argue that today’s Republicans don’t recognize the value of a good education. However, the reality is that they do, and that the spreading attack on public education is far more sinister.

When the Patriot Act was signed, Bush and his ilk claimed the power to violate citizens’ private lives because, they said, there is no “right to privacy” in the United States. In that, they – perhaps purposefully – overlooked the history of America and the Declaration of Independence, signed on July 4, 1776. And they missed a basic understanding of the evolution of language in the United States.

Yeah, I've noted this kinda thing before:

Shorter Rick Santorum: Know who else thought government had a role in educating children?  Hitler!

It is a parent’s responsibility to educate their children. It is not the government’s job. 

I admit to being puzzled as to why so many people think parent's responsibilities and government's jobs are mutually exclusive.  Do we not each defend our children, for example, both at home and through constitutional mechanisms?  Why, then, should each authority not have some role in education, especially when the health of the republic is at stake?

Indeed, as Vermont's own Ira Allen observed:

The greatest legislators from Lycurgus down to John Lock, have laid down a moral and scientific system of education as the very foundation and cement of a State...

But since the article above brought up Jefferson, I gotta return to Senator Sessions:

Oh my (via LGM):

This week, Alabama Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III...decided to wage war against humanistic inquiry in general. In a letter to the chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities, Carol Watson, Sessions demanded to know why the NEH was doling out so much grant money for projects that struck him as obviously worthless.
Sessions has also uncovered evidence that the government agency’s “Bridging Cultures” program is “distribut[ing] books related to Islam to over 900 libraries across the United States.” Books about Muslims in Uncle Sam's libraries? What nefarious plot is this?!

Sessions makes no bones about the purpose of his letter, which is to establish his reasons for trying to gut the NEH’s budget.

Oh, bah, Imma just quote Sayshuns' namesake, Thomas Jefferson, for rebuttal:

  • A Bill for the More General Diffusion of Knowledge (1780): [W]hence it becomes expedient for promoting the publick happiness that those persons, whom nature hath endowed with genius and virtue, should be rendered by liberal education worthy to receive, and able to guard the sacred deposit of the rights and liberties of their fellow citizens, and that they should be called to that charge without regard to wealth, birth or other accidental condition or circumstance; but the indigence of the greater number disabling them from so educating, at their own expence, those of their children whom nature hath fitly formed and disposed to become useful instruments for the public, it is better that such should be sought for and educated at the common expence of all, than that the happiness of all should be confided to the weak or wicked.
  • Letter to George Whythe (1786): Preach, my dear Sir, a crusade against ignorance; establish and improve the law for educating the common people. Let our countrymen know that the people alone can protect us against [tyranny, oppression, etc], and that the tax which will be paid for this purpose is not more than the thousandth part of what will be paid to kings, priests and nobles who will rise up among us if we leave the people in ignorance.
  • Letter to Pierre S. Dupont de Nemours (1816): Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day...I believe [the human condition] susceptible of much improvement, and most of all, in matters of government and religion; and that the diffusion of knowledge among the people is to be the instrument by which it is effected.

Being generally enlightened--not just trained to be a cog in the capitalist machine--is important in a republic such as ours.  And if people want to deal effectively with the world at large, which includes 1.3 billion Muslims, it might even be a good idea to learn about Islam, oddly enough!  Which was central to Jefferson's and Allen's point.

Anyway, here's a funny little tangent.  Here's part of that Jefferson quote I grabbed from the Salon article again:

[The People] are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.

It sounded familiar to me, so I dug up yet another old post of mine

[On the People's] good sense we may rely with the most security for the preservation of a due degree of liberty. 

Not only are the sentiments identical with extremely similar wording, they both purportedly come from a letter written to James Madison on December 20, 1787.  I was a bit confused at first because when you look at each piece's source [Salon's, mine] you find a great deal of overlap and divergence.

It appears to matter which collection of TJ's letters you rely upon.  The one Salon used likely comes from the Memorial Edition (or the Washington Edition) whereas my source is the Ford Edition.  And about these myriad versions:

Unlike Henry Washington, Ford went to great lengths to check his transcriptions and page proofs against the original documents. In so doing, Ford insured that his was the most accurate and scholarly edition of Jefferson’s writings yet published.

Ford’s Writings of Thomas Jefferson was not a flawless work. Owing to the editorial rigor that he brought to the documents, especially the various state papers, Ford was not able to include as many papers as Henry Washington had...Nonetheless Ford’s Writings of Thomas Jefferson was a dramatic improvement over previous editions.

Paul L. Ford’s edition of Jefferson’s writings appeared four decades after the Congress Edition of Henry A. Washington. Despite Ford’s editorial rigor and the sophistication of his collection, it was soon followed by another, larger, collection of published Jefferson papers.

In April 1903 a new organization, the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, was launched. The Association was dedicated to raising money and support for the building of a monument to Jefferson in Washington. It failed to do so owing to a lack of funds. The Association did sponsor a new edition of Jefferson’s writings, edited by Andrew A. Lipscomb and Albert E. Bergh, usually referred to as the ‘Memorial Edition’...

They supplemented Washington’s original edition with some notable additions...In terms of its scope and coverage, the Memorial Edition was the most ambitious and comprehensive of the four major collections of Jefferson’s writing published between 18229 and 1904.

Unfortunately, the editing of the documents was uneven. In transcribing documents, Lipscomb and Bergh replicated Henry Washington’s earlier errors while introducing new mistakes of their own....Although widely circulated, the Memorial Edition was inadequate for serious study of Jefferson. While it was more inclusive than Ford’s recent Writings of Thomas Jefferson, it lacked the editorial sophistication and scholarly reliability that characterized Ford’s edition.“

Just goes to show that it's sometimes hard to be truly definitive when citing stuff from so long ago.  One must always be cautious.  And willing to learn new things instead of being stuck in old tropes, the way our republican founders intended for the good of our nation.


February 26, 7:30 PM in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Subsidies Are A Part Of Originalism

I saw this incredible assertion by a commenter on FB: When THIS country was founded we subsidized nothing and yet the nation flourished!

Yeah, well, that's quite inaccurate.  Since the First Congress we've subsidized shipping, fishing, and even healthcare.  We've made it easy to acquire new land while promoting settlement.

We do this to support industry and encourage certain individual behaviors.  I won't argue the merits of such policies right now, though I'll note Free Market God Adam Smith understood their value to society.  

Just wanted to point out that any claim about subsidies being a recent commie invention somehow holding back our great nation is the height of ignorance.


February 26, 10:16 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)


8-day old Sam in his Skinner box, having returned to the hospital for more fun in the fake sun.


February 26, 9:41 AM in Family Life | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, 02/25/2015

Smash The Thermometer

Well, yes, you can actually tear the day to shreds.


February 25, 11:15 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Up The Flinty Steep And Craggy Mountain

Contra spem spero:

В довгу, темную нічку невидну
Не стулю ні на хвильку очей -
Все шукатиму зірку провідну,
Ясну владарку темних ночей.

Так! я буду крізь сльози сміятись,
Серед лиха співати пісні,
Без надії таки сподіватись,
Буду жити! Геть, думи сумні!

In the long dark ever-viewless night-time
Not one instant shall I close my eyes,
I'll seek ever for the star to guide me,
She that reigns bright mistress of dark skies.

Yes, I'll smile, indeed, through tears and weeping
Sing my songs where evil holds its sway,
Hopeless, a steadfast hope forever keeping,
I shall live! You thoughts of grief, away!

Lesya Ukrainka.


February 25, 10:28 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday Toddlerblogging

Sick kids' long naps make for late nights and parents' resorting to electronic opiates.


February 25, 10:03 PM in Family Life | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Paint Mars By Numbers

In 1964, NASA was still years away from its first moon landing. Failed missions and botched technology were common, but the agency was determined to learn more about the universe. On November 28, 1964, Mariner 4 set out to orbit Mars.

It took over seven months for the probe to reach Mars, and when it got there, it spent just 25 minutes observing the atmosphere. On July 14, 1965, scientists gathered at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory to celebrate the probe’s historic flyby. But though the probe successfully transmitted 22 close-up images and 5.2 million bits of data, the team had to wait for a data translator to create a photograph.

McKinnon reports what happened next:

Instead of waiting for the entire image processing procedure to create the official photograph, the employees in the telecommunications group at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory mounted the strips in this display panel and hand-coloured the numbers to create a quick and dirty visualization.

Once the mosaic was complete, the Telecommunications System employees framed the completed image and presented it to their director, William H. Pickering.

(h/t Suzie Kidnap)

Which brings to mind one of my fave Cosmos episodes...


February 25, 9:31 PM in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Seared Memories Only Count If We Want To Remember Them

Of course he just doesn't get it:

"This Bill O'Reilly thing, I'll tell you the truth, I don't get it," [Joe Scarborough told his fellow co-hosts of MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Wednesday morning].

Last week, Mother Jones magazine published an article that cast doubt on things O'Reilly has said about having covered the Falklands War for CBS News in the 1980s.

"Are we debating rubber bullets versus real bullets?" Scarborough said. "I don't know."
At certain points O'Reilly has appeared to suggest he was "in the Falklands" in a "war zone." (He has clarified he was in Buenos Aires the entire time, along with the rest of the CBS correspondents, and insisted his accounts of the war were accurate.)

Scarborough took on the location question directly.

"No he was in the Falklands," Scarborough said. "There were riots!"

I have a memory seared - seared - in my mind from 2004 when people were attacking John Kerry (who actually served in an actual war zone) for having memories of serving in a war zone.  One of them was Joe Scarborough, who apparently "got it" back then.


PS--I have a seared memory of a march against the Gulf War back in college and a prof with whom I reconnected a few months before I went to Palestine to get shot at with rubber bullets.

February 25, 8:48 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Justices Should Get Outside

And Kagan should've cited Bubble Guppies.


February 25, 8:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Kagan Hears A Who

Seuss Court watching can be fun:

Kagan—whose breezy yet stinging dissents are quickly becoming legendary—advocates for a more “conventional” reading of the law, writing that “a ‘tangible object’ is an object that’s tangible.” She then drops what must be one of the more amazing citations ever issued by a Supreme Court justice:

As the plurality must acknowledge, the ordinary meaning of “tangible object” is “a discrete thing that possesses physical form.” A fish is, of course, a discrete thing that possesses physical form. See generally Dr. Seuss, One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish (1960).

So, it was all wit and sallies at the Supreme Court on Wednesday morning—except for John Yates, who came one vote away from facing up to 20 years in prison, and for grouper, which could soon go extinct due to overfishing. In the end, Yates turned out to be a startlingly close call for a case destined to become better known for fish jokes than for statutory interpretation.

Yes, that's wicked funny.  But did anybody else notice this?

Stepping back from the words “tangible object” provides only further evidence that Congress said what it meant and meant what it said.



February 25, 6:54 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

The Flag Frees


[South Portland High School] Senior class president Lily SanGiovanni sparked community outrage in January when she changed the way she invited students and faculty members to recite the pledge.

“At this time,” SanGiovanni said over the intercom, “would you please rise and join me for the Pledge of Allegiance if you’d like to.”

It was the latest salvo in a monthslong effort by SanGiovanni and some of her friends to make it clear that reciting the pledge is optional under state and federal law, so students cannot be forced to stand and say it every morning. Although no students have filed formal complaints in recent years, SanGiovanni and her friends said they and other students have felt uncomfortable or pressured by their teachers to say it.

The addition of “if you’d like to” inflamed simmering opposition from staff members who had been wrestling with the pledge issue since June. It also triggered an emotional, anti-immigrant backlash in the community and left SanGiovanni and her friends searching for a way to carry their cause forward.

Schools never learn.


February 25, 11:41 AM in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Indeed, Let's Close The Barn Door After The Horses Infect Us

We have a lot of work to do:

A bill that would make it more difficult for parents to avoid mandatory vaccinations for their children is unlikely to be debated this year. Legislative leaders say they have other, more pressing, priorities.

House Health Care Committee chairman Bill Lippert says the major focus of his panel this year is a bill that makes health care more affordable and more accessible to all Vermonters.
[Addison Sen. Claire Ayer, the chairwoman of the Senate Health Care committee] questions if it's a good idea to eliminate the religious exemption.

"I think we'd have to be in a real emergency state before we consider something like that,” she says.

Key lawmakers say the debate at the Statehouse could change dramatically if an outbreak of measles takes place in Vermont in the coming weeks.  

Yeah, let's improve Vermonter's access to healthcare but not worry about mitigating preventable infections that cause dangerous health problems (not to mention drive up the costs of the access we're trying to improve).  Why should we even bother when there's no such thing as jet, plane, or auto travel to Vermont from the places where there are already outbreaks?

Ohbytheway, people are getting sick.


February 25, 9:18 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, 02/24/2015

Tessio Lives!

Abe Vigoda will never die.


February 24, 10:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)