A Blow At Marriage Bigotry
[W]hether Mormonism will be seriously affected by the destruction of polygamy or not, this degrading practice cannot be very long-lived.
- New York Times, January 8, 1879
Salt Lake Tribune today:
A federal judge will hear arguments Wednesday in a lawsuit challenging Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage brought by three couples who contend the prohibition is unconstitutional.
Each side has asked U.S. District Court Judge Robert J. Shelby for summary judgment — that is, to find their arguments so compelling there is no need for what would likely be a protracted legal fight over Utah’s Amendment 3, the ban approved by voters in 2004.
Attorneys for Utah say Windsor makes clear that states, not the federal government, have sovereign authority to define and regulate marriage. The Windsor ruling is "replete with deferential references" to the state of New York’s power and authority to regulate marriage, state attorneys argue, and criticizes the federal government’s effort to interfere with such decisions.
Windsor "overturned an act of Congress considered an ‘unusual’ federal intrusion" into state authority. Given that, Utah’s own power, decision-making and "exercise of its sovereign authority within our federal system to not include same-sex marriage is entitled to the same respect and deference," the state argues.
Attorneys for the three couples say that under the "binding analysis" of Windsor, their arguments prevail because "Utah’s Marriage Discrimination Laws ... single out same-sex couples to impose a disability on them, and to treat them unequally." Under Windsor, such laws are "irrational, and no legitimate purpose overcomes their purpose and effect to disparage and injure."
"In arguing that regulation of marriage is the exclusive province of the state, the state defendants rely on antiquated opinions and case law, and ignore the patent statements in Windsor to the contrary," the couples argue. Moreover, the state defendants "gloss over" statements in the decision that highlight the need to "respect the constitutional rights of persons" in marriage laws and misinterpret the basis for striking down DOMA, which was equal protection and due process — not federalism.
Giving Thanks For The Departed
Each first Sunday in November a Thanksgiving Festival is held at the Berkeley Plantation in accordance with documentation from 1619. The event fulfills instructions given to the 38 settlers who arrived on the banks of the James River at Berkeley Hundred as documented in the proclamation:
"Wee ordaine that the day of our ships arrival at the place assigned for plantacon in the land of Virginia shall be yearly and perpetually kept holy as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty God."
The settlers set sail in a ship called The Margaret from the Port of Bristol in England, where at the Berkeley Castle funding for the journey was supplied by landowners including Sir Richard Berkeley and William Throckmorton. Agriculture was going through difficult times and many people in the area wanted to start a new life for themselves in America, and so they joined the leaders Sir John Woodleefe, George Thorpe, and John Smyth, who had planned this remarkable and historic voyage. Although they encountered severe weather that delayed their journey, the landing on December 4, 1619, is well documented by the Virginia Company of London.
I guess they didn't market theirs so well as the Pilgrims...
Chanukah Is Indeed Da Bomb
Today's a jolly day for fans of the Jovian system.
First of all, the largest irregular moon of Jupiter, Himalia, was discovered in 1904 by Charles Dillon Perrine at the Lick Observatory:
Himalia is the fifth largest moon orbiting Jupiter. With a mean radius of 85 km assuming an albedo of 0.04), it's only about 5% the size of the fourth largest moon, Europa. But it's by far the largest member of the Himalia group, a family of Jovian satellites which have similar orbits and appearance, and are therefore thought to have a common origin.
Himalia may be the largest remaining chunk of an asteroid (a C- or D-class asteroid, judging by the fact that it reflects only about 4% of the light it receives), which had several pieces broken off in a collision either before or after being captured by Jupiter's gravity. In this scenario, those pieces became the other moons in the Himalia group...
Himalia was named for a nymph of the island of Rhodes in Greek mythology who was one of the lovers of Zeus (the Greek equivalent of the Roman god Jupiter). She bore him three sons: Spartaeus, Cronios and Cytus.
Notice the Great Red Spot on the right? Well, there's a new theory about how the storm could sustain itself for so long:
"Based on current theories, the Great Red Spot should have disappeared after several decades," researcher Pedram Hassanzadeh, a geophysical fluid dynamicist at Harvard University,said in a statement. "Instead, it has been there for hundreds of years."
Some researchers suggest that large vortices such as the Great Red Spot gain energy and survive by absorbing smaller vortices. However, "this does not happen often enough to explain the Red Spot's longevity," researcher Philip Marcus, a fluid dynamicist and planetary scientist at the University of California, Berkeley,said in a statement.
To help solve the mystery of the Great Red Spot's endurance, Hassanzadeh and Marcus developed a new 3D, high-resolution computer model of large vortices.
Models of vortices generally focus on swirling horizontal winds, where most of the energy resides. Although vortices also have vertical flows, these have much less energy. Therefore, "in the past, most researchers either ignored the vertical flow because they thought it was not important, or they used simpler equations because it was so difficult to model," Hassanzadeh said.
The researchers now find that vertical flows hold the key to the Great Red Spot's longevity: When the storm loses energy, vertical flows move hot and cold gases in and out of the storm, restoring part of the vortex's energy. Their model also predicts radial flows that suck winds from the high-speed jet streams around the Great Red Spot toward the storm's center, helping it last longer.
Together, vortices — whether on Jupiter or in Earth's oceans — may decay up to 100 times slower than researchers previously thought.
"Some vortices in the oceans have been observed to last for several years and are believed to play an important role in the oceanic ecosystem and ocean-atmosphere interaction," Marcus told SPACE.com. In addition, "vortices with physics very similar to the Great Red Spot are believed to contribute to star and planet formation processes, which would require them to last for several million years. Both oceanic and astrophysical vortices are subjected to dissipating processes, and the mechanism described here for the longevity of the Great Red Spot presents a very plausible explanation for their longevity as well."
The scientists caution that their model does not entirely explain the Great Red Spot's long life span. They suggest that occasional mergers with smaller vortices may help prolong the giant storm's life as well, and have begun modifying their computer model to test this idea.
Florida Has Always Been A Problem
On December 3, 1805, President Thomas Jefferson delivered his Fifth Annual Message to Congress. Not being the best orator, he didn't do it in person, which became the tradition until Woodrow Wilson started giving what we know today as the SOTU.
Anyway, he touched on his re-election, Lewis and Clark's exploration of America's vast new territory, US Marines kicking butt in Tripoli, and troubles with Spain. Regarding that last item, Jefferson promised more specific information would be forthcoming. A few days later, Congress received another (confidential) message, and the House referred it to a committee headed by John Randolph.
Ultimately, the committee reported (secretly) that it would be good to buy the Floridian leftovers from Louisiana instead of going to war for them, and eventually the House appropriated 2 million dollars for the purpose. During the process, Randolph was not amused:
The instant Randolph grasped the situation, he saw that Mr. Madison had converted the Spanish dispute into a French job. He put the President's messages in his pocket. Honestly indignant at what he considered a mean attempt to bribe one nation to join in robbing another, he thought the whole transaction only worthy of Madison's groveling character. All his prejudices were strengthened and his contempt for the Secretary was turned into a passion.
Calling his committee together, he affected to see nothing in the secret message that could be construed as a request for money to purchase Florida, and a majority of the committee joined him in this view. He went to see Mr. Madison, and, according to his account, the Secretary told him that France was the great obstacle to the compromise of Spanish difficulties ; that she would not permit Spain to settle her disputes with us because France wanted money, and we must give her money or have a Spanish and French war, — all which, whether Mr. Madison said it or not, was true, but put a terrible weapon into Randolph's hands.
He called on the President, always affecting total ignorance as to executive plans, and professing a wish to cooperate with the government so far as his principles and judgment would permit ; yet when Mr. Jefferson explained that he wanted two millions to buy Florida, Randolph replied without reserve that he would never consent, because the money had not been asked for in the message, and he would not take on his own shoulders or those of the House the proper responsibility of the Executive ; but even if the money had been expressly asked, he should have been averse to granting it, because, after the failure of every attempt at negotiation, such a step would dis- grace us forever ; because France would be encouraged to blackmail us on all occasions, and England would feel contempt for our measures and attitude towards herself. He did not mince his words.
The meeting of the committee and the interviews with Mr. Madison and the President seem all to have taken place on December 7 and 8. Randolph now waited a week, and then on December 14 coolly set out for Baltimore, where he passed another week, while the administration was fuming in "Washington, unable to call the committee together. On December 21 he returned, and by this time the excitement had waxed high, so that even his friend Nicholson remonstrated.
The committee was instantly called, and Randolph, booted and spurred, as he had ridden from Baltimore, was hurrying to the committee-room, when he was stopped by his friend Gallatin, who put into his hands a paper headed " Provision for the purchase of Florida." Randolph broke out upon him with a strong expression of disgust. He declared that he would not vote a shilling ; that the whole proceeding was highly disingenuous ; that the President said one thing in public, another in private, took all the honor to himself, and threw all the odium on Congress ; and that true wisdom and cunning were utterly incom- patible in the management of great affairs.
He lost the point, but:
Jefferson carried his point; he won a victory over Randolph, and silenced open resistance within the party; but his success was gained at a cost hitherto unknown in his experience. The men who were most obedient in public to his will growled in private almost as fiercely as Randolph himself. Senator Bradley made no secret of his disgust. Senator Anderson of Tennessee frankly said that he wished the Devil had the Bill; that the opposition did not half know how bad it was; that it was the most pernicious measure Jefferson had ever taken; "but so it was, so he would have it, and so it must be!"
Three Republican Senators—Bradley, Logan, and Mitchill—absented themselves at the final vote; four more—Adair, Gilman, Stone, and Sumter—voted against the Bill, which on its third reading obtained only seventeen voices in its favor against eleven in opposition. Worse than this, the malcontents felt that for the first time in the history of their party the whip of Executive power had been snapped over their heads; and, worst of all, the New England Federalists took for granted that Jefferson had become a creature of Napoleon. Of all political ideas that could gain a lodgment in the public mind, this last was the most fatal!
That either Jefferson or Madison was led by French sympathies has been shown to be untrue. Both of them submitted to the violence of all the belligerents alike, and their eagerness for Florida caused them by turns to flatter and to threaten Spain, France, and England; but not even for the sake of Florida would they have taken either a direct or an indirect part with France. Their unwillingness to offend Napoleon rose not from sympathy with him, but from the conviction that he alone could give Florida to the United States without the expense and losses inevitable in a war.
Unhappily the public knew little of what President Jefferson had done or was doing; and another piece of legislation, carried through Congress at the same moment with the "Two-million Act," went far to fix the Federalists in their belief that the Administration obeyed the beck and call of the French Emperor.
Writing as Decius the following year, Randolph complained:
It must be obvious to the most superficial eye, that every consideration of a selfish or prudential nature, would have dissuaded any man, or set of men, among the repulicans, from an open opposition to any leading and favourite measure of the executive, at that juncture.
The president of the U. S. had just been re-elected by a great and imposing majority of the people. The acquisition of Louisiana has given an eclat to the executive, and cast a splendour around the administration, in which every minor defect of the government was eclipsed and forgotten. The colossal popularity of the president seemed to mock at all opposition.
Unmindful of past and dear-bought experience, the republicans had erected a political idol, on whose altars he who dared to question its infallibility, must prepare to bleed. In this posture of affairs, all opposition was indeed a forlorn hope. There was every thing to lose, nothing to gain.
The minority had only to compromise their principles to betray their duty to themselves, their constituents, and their country, in order to enjoy the countenance of the aduiinistration, to ensure the approbation of the public, for a time, and their own contempt for ever. They had but to acquiesce in measures which their conscience and judgment condemned, and swim in ignoble security with the current of the day.
He also was up in arms about secrecy and double-dealing and whatnot, which annoyed Jefferson:
4. He speaks of a double set of opinions & principles; the one ostensible, to go on the journals & before the public, the other efficient, and the real motives to action. But where are these double opinions and principles?
The executive informed the legislature of the wrongs of Spain, & that preparation should be made to repel them, by force, if necessary. But as it might still be possible to negotiate a settlement, they asked such means as might enable them to meet the negociation, whatever form it might take. The 1st part of this system was communicated publicly, the 2d privately; but both were equally official, equally involved the responsibility of the Executive, and were equally to go on the journals.
5. That the purchase of the Floridas was in direct opposition to the views of the executive, as expressed in the President’s official communication. It was not in opposition even to the public part of the communication, which did not recommend war, but only to be prepared for it. It perfectly harmonized with the private part, which asked the means of negociation in such terms as covered the purchase of Florida as evidently as it was proper to speak it out.
He speaks of secret communications between the executive and members, of backstairs’ influence, &c. But he never spoke of this while he and Mr. Nicholson enjoyed it almost solely. But when he differed from the executive in a leading measure, & the executive, not submitting to him, expressed it’s sentiments to others, the very sentiments (to wit, the purchase of Florida) which he acknoleges they expressed to him, then he roars out upon backstairs’ influence.
And so Randolph became a leader of the "quids" or "Old Republicans" who opposed Jeffersonians until Jackson's election. I kinda see them as the Tea Party Anarchy Caucus of the day: a vocal minority within their party, extreme in their views of the Constitution and federalism, not entirely effective or practical, etc. And I think we can blame Florida for all of that.
A Little Medley
A Capitol Day
[W]hile there may not be an exact "completion date" for our U.S. Capitol Building, there is one day that truly stands out in its history — December 2, 1863, exactly 150 years ago. On that day, the Statue of Freedom — which tops the Capitol Dome — was lifted into place atop the recently constructed cast-iron Dome. Up until that point, the Capitol looked quite different than what we see today (at right). It was a much smaller building, representing a smaller nation. As the country grew, so did the need to expand the Capitol.
By 1850, the size of the Capitol Building could no longer accommodate the increasing numbers of representatives from newly admitted states. Architect Thomas U. Walter was hired to extend the north and south wings of the building. On July 4, 1851, President Millard Fillmore laid the cornerstone for the northeast corner of the House wing, marking the beginning of this expansion.
As the new wings were constructed, more than doubling the length of the Capitol, Walter realized the Capitol's original Dome no longer suited the building's proportions. He designed a new cast-iron Dome, which still stands atop the Capitol today.
On May 11, 1855, Montgomery C. Meigs, engineer of the Capitol, wrote to artist Thomas Crawford commissioning him to create a statue to top the new Dome. Meigs provided guidance to Crawford for his design, writing, “We have too many Washingtons, we have America in the pediment. Victories and Liberties are rather pagan emblems, but a Liberty I fear is the best we can get.”
Here's hoping the Tea Party Anarchy Caucus doesn't tear the whole thing down...
Sino-Indian Space Race
India's first robotic Mars probe set sail for the Red Planet Saturday (Nov. 30) with a vital rocket burn to catapult the spacecraft out of the realm of Earth's gravity and into interplanetary space.
The Mars Orbiter Mission, India's first Mars probe, is due to enter orbit around the Red Planet on Sept. 24, 2014, two days after NASA's MAVEN Mars probe arrives.
Saturday's crucial maneuver was timed for the precise moment necessary to send the spacecraft toward Mars, and it had to go off without a hitch.
China's first lunar rover is bound for the moon after launching Sunday (Dec. 1) on a mission that, if successful, will establish China as the third nation to soft land a spacecraft on Earth's natural satellite.
Further, if all goes as planned, China's Chang'e 3 mission will mark the first time any spacecraft has made a soft landing on the moon since the former Soviet Union's Luna 24 unmanned mission in August 1976. The last of the Luna series of Soviet spacecraft, Luna 24 was the third and last lunar landing mission to follow the final U.S. visit to the moon’s surface on the manned Apollo 17 mission four years earlier.
The Chang'e 3 rover was named "Yutu," or "Jade Rabbit," after the [goddess Chang'e's] pet white rabbit of Chinese folklore. The name was chosen following a poll that sought ideas from Chinese citizens worldwide.
The adventure continues...
"Shall we entangle ourselves, at all, in European politicks, & wars?"
I called the New World into existence to redress the balance of the Old.
- British Deputy Prime Minister George Canning, December 12, 1826
Speaking of SecState John Quincy Adams, he spoke on July 4, 1821:
[America] goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy.
She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own. She will commend the general cause by the countenance of her voice, and the benignant sympathy of her example.
She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom.
Fast forward a couple years, when Britain and the US were concerned about a resurgence of European monarchial/colonial power in the Americas. George Canning proposed a bilateral announcement warning everybody off. President Monroe wasn't sure how to respond, so he sought advice.
JQA recorded in his journal in November, 1823:
13th. Morning occupied in making a draft of minutes for the message of the President upon subjects under the direction of the Department of State. I took to the President's my draft of minutes and copies of the instructions to R. Rush dispatched last summer. I read and left my draft with him.
I find him yet altogether unsettled in his own mind as to the answer to be given to Mr. Canning's proposals, and alarmed, far beyond anything that I could have conceived possible, with the fear that the Holy Alliance are about to restore immediately all South America to Spain. Calhoun stimulates the panic, and the news that Cadiz has surrendered to the French has so affected the President that he appeared entirely to despair of the cause of South America. He will recover from this in a few days; but I never saw more indecision in him...
15th....[President Monroe] asked for the correspondence relating to the intercourse with the British American Colonies, with a view to the particular notice which he intends to take of it in the message; which I thought should have been only in general terms. He also showed me two letters which he had received—one from Mr. Jefferson, 23d October, and one from Mr. Madison of 30th October, giving their opinions on the proposals of Mr. Canning. The President had sent them the two dispatches from R. Rush of 23d and 28th August, enclosing the correspondence between Canning and him, and requested their opinions on the proposals.
Mr. Jefferson thinks them more important than anything that has happened since our Revolution. He is for acceding to the proposals, with a view to pledging Great Britain against the Holy Allies; though he thinks the island of Cuba would be a valuable and important acquisition to our Union. Mr. Madison's opinions are less decisively pronounced, and he thinks, as I do, that this movement on the part of Great Britain is impelled more by her interest than by a principle of general liberty.
The subject of Mr. Canning's proposals was resumed, and I soon found the source of the President's despondency with regard to South American affairs. Calhoun is perfectly moon-struck by the surrender of Cadiz, and says the Holy Allies, with ten thousand men, will restore all Mexico and all South America to the Spanish dominion. I did not deny that they might make a temporary impression for three, four, or five years, but I no more believe that the Holy Allies will restore the Spanish dominion upon the American continent than that the Chimborazo will sink beneath the ocean.
But, I added, if the South Americans were really in a state to be so easily subdued, it would be but a more forcible motive for us to beware of involving ourselves in their fate. I set this down as one of Calhoun's extravaganzas. He is for plunging into a war to prevent that which, if his opinion of it is correct, we are utterly unable to prevent. He is for embarking our lives and fortunes in a ship which he declares the very rats have abandoned.
21st....I took with me the draft of my dispatch to R. Rush in answer to Canning's proposals, with the President's projected amendments and my proposal of amendment upon amendment. We had a very long discussion upon one phrase, which seemed to me to require none at all. The sentiment expressed was, that although we should throw no impediment in the way of an arrangement between Spain and her ex-Colonies by amicable negotiation, we should claim to be treated by the South Americans upon the footing of equal favor with the most favored nation.
The President had proposed a modifying amendment, which seemed to admit that we should not object to an arrangement by which special favors, or even a restoration of authority, might be conceded to Spain. To this I strenuously objected, as did Mr. Calhoun...The President did not insist upon any of his amendments which were not admitted by general consent, and the final paper, though considerably varied from my original draft, will be conformable to my own views...
My purpose would be in a moderate and conciliatory manner, but with a firm and determined spirit, to...assert [principles] upon which our own Government is founded, and, while disclaiming all intention of attempting to propagate them by force, and all interference with the political affairs of Europe, to declare our expectation and hope that the European powers will equally abstain from the attempt to spread their principles in theAmerican hemisphere, or to subjugate by force any part of these continents to their will.
The President approved of this idea; and then taking up the sketches that he had prepared for his message, read them to us. Its introduction was in a tone of deep solemnity and of high alarm, intimating that this country is menaced by imminent and formidable dangers, such as would probably soon call for their most vigorous energies and the closest union. It then proceeded to speak of the foreign affairs, chiefly according to the sketch I had given him some days since, but with occasional variations.
After hashing out the US stance, Adams sent instructions to Ambassador Richard Rush in London on the 30th:
As a member of the European community Great Britain lias relations with all the other Powers of Europe, which the United States have not, and with which it is their unaltered determination, not to interfere. But American Affairs, whether of the Northern or of the Southern Continent can henceforth not be excluded from the interference of the United States. All questions of policy relating to them have a bearing so direct upon the Rights and Interests of the United States themselves, that they cannot be left at the disposal of European Powers animated and directed exclusively by European principles and interests.
Aware of the deep importance of united ends and councils, with those of Great Britain in this emergency, we see no possible basis on which that harmonious concert of measures can be founded, other than the general principle of South-American Independence. So long as Great Britain withholds the recognition of that, we may, as we certainly do concur with her in the aversion to the transfer to any other power of any of the colonies in this Hemisphere, heretofore, or yet belonging to Spain; but the principles of that aversion, so far as they are common to both parties, resting only upon a casual coincidence of interests, in a National point of view selfish on both sides, would be liable to dissolution by every change of phase in the aspects of European Politics.
And so President Monroe unilaterally declared on December 2:
The citizens of the United States cherish sentiments the most friendly in favor of the liberty and happiness of their fellow-men on that side of the Atlantic. In the wars of the European powers in matters relating to themselves we have never taken any part, nor does it comport with our policy to do so. It is only when our rights are invaded or seriously menaced that we resent injuries or make preparation for our defense.
With the movements in this hemisphere we are of necessity more immediately connected, and by causes which must be obvious to all enlightened and impartial observers. The political system of the allied powers is essentially different in this respect from that of America. This difference proceeds from that which exists in their respective Governments; and to the defense of our own, which has been achieved by the loss of so much blood and treasure, and matured by the wisdom of their most enlightened citizens, and under which we have enjoyed unexampled felicity, this whole nation is devoted.
We owe it, therefore, to candor and to the amicable relations existing between the United States and those powers to declare that we should consider any attempt on their part to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety. With the existing colonies or dependencies of any European power we have not interfered and shall not interfere.
But with the Governments who have declared their independence and maintain it, and whose independence we have, on great consideration and on just principles, acknowledged, we could not view any interposition for the purpose of oppressing them, or controlling in any other manner their destiny, by any European power in any other light than as the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition toward the United States.
And there you have it. Monroe's Doctrine has been expanded and tweaked a number of times over the intervening years. I'm not really sure it's actually been our policy for the last hundred years, given all our intervention in Europe since we put on our Superpower Pants.
For instance, I found an interesting article about the Doctrine by Rear-Admiral Colby Chester (the only naval officer to have served in the Civil War, Spanish-American War, and WWI) from July, 1914, not long after Archduke Ferdinand has been assassinated:
In defending the continental policy of "America for the Americans" the United States will have ample cause for keeping up an efficient navy, and to protect the seven thousand miles of coast line, including "the greater Panama Canal zone," she will need every ship that our non-military people will authorize to be constructed. It has been well said that the Monroe Doctrine is as strong as the navy of the United States, and in view of the fact that our country- men insist on maintaining but a small navy as compared with those that might be brought against it in combination, our people should avoid creating enemies, who might be tempted, in order to protect their own interests, to form an alliance with more power than we could bring to bear against them.
Let the United States...in the words of the Hon. John Barrett, director of the Pan-American Union, "take advantage of the opening of the Panama Canal, to signalize formally, as it were, the beginning of a new Pan-American era in which the Monroe Doctrine, which represents the dictum of one government in the family of nations, shall evolve into a greater Pan-American doctrine, which shall represent the mutual interest and protection of all."
It is better to make friends than to build guns.
Indeed. But a few years later Yanks with their guns turned the tide in France and--demobilization notwithstanding--we had fundamentally reversed the European side of Monroe's equation.
Now jump ahead another century. Current SecState, John Kerry, said earlier this month:
When people speak of the Western Hemisphere, they often talk about transformations that have taken place, but the truth is one of the biggest transformations has happened right here in the United States of America. In the early days of our republic, the United States made a choice about its relationship with Latin America. President James Monroe, who was also a former Secretary of State, declared that the United States would unilaterally, and as a matter of fact, act as the protector of the region. The doctrine that bears his name asserted our authority to step in and oppose the influence of European powers in Latin America. And throughout our nation’s history, successive presidents have reinforced that doctrine and made a similar choice.
Today, however, we have made a different choice. The era of the Monroe Doctrine is over.
Yeah, um...whatever. Anyway, Happy Birthday, Monroe Doctrine!
The Spirit Of Adventukkah
Speaking Of Scrooge Types
It's the 4th night of Scroogukkah (a day out of sync with the Festival of Lights). So far: Albert Finney (meh, my 1st time, so maybe it will grow on me); Alistair Sim (the old standby, my fave); George C Scott (another new one to me, sedate but good).
Tonite it'll be one from our usual rotation, though which is still TBD. What's the mood? Michael Caine, Jim Carrey or Bill Murray? Interspersed over the next few nights will be Patrick Stewart and Reginald Owen, both recent additions to our collection.
About the woodcut:
The three-quarter-page woodcut precedes the moment realised, and, indeed, coincides with the textual introduction of Ebenezer Scrooge himself as Marley's legatee, so that the illustration typifies Scrooge's key identity after the loss of his friend and partner, that of businessman and employer. Warmly dressed and ready even for the eventuality of rain despite the cold temperatures, Scrooge lectures Bob about the necessity for economy, preventing him from joining his family on Christmas Eve.
The snuffed out candle behind Scrooge may well suggest not merely closing time but the end of life, the smoke being the ghost of the candle's flame. Bob's clothing and demeanour contrast those of his employer, for he has no overcoat but carries a high-crowned beaver. Barnard well describes Bob's discomfort by his glazed expression and bent left leg, implying a shifting rather than a solid stance; although he is adept at hiding his true emotions from his dour employer, he is already thinking of the walk home and the family that awaits him.
And for the conservatives and austerians out there: yes, Scrooge is a bad guy. Please make a note of it.
It's A Communist Life
Yup, It's A Wonderful Life time again. Movie just ended, and Sam asked if bankers were Nono Guys. Of course they are, we answered.
Also, don't forget:
With regard to the picture "It's a Wonderful Life", [redacted] stated in substance that the film represented rather obvious attempts to discredit bankers by casting Lionel Barrymore as a "scrooge-type" so that he would be the most hated man in the picture. This, according to these sources, is a common trick used by Communists.
In addition, [redacted] stated that, in his opinion, this picture deliberately maligned the upper class, attempting to show the people who had money were mean and despicable characters.
The Kochs better just hope the movie doesn't end this way next time...
Racism Is Over!
Snow Falls On The Dead
Pre-Thanksgiving snow is the first stick more than a couple days, and now some light showers to cover up the snirt. Inevitably makes me think of Joyce's The Dead, which I think is one of the most beautiful stories ever, particularly the end:
A few light taps upon the pane made him turn to the window. It had begun to snow again. He watched sleepily the flakes, silver and dark, falling obliquely against the lamp-light. The time had come for him to set out on his journey westward. Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling, too, upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.
Probably my favorite paragraph in literature.