Sunday, 02/26/2017

Now He's A Four-Timer


Bill Paxton: the only person to be killed by a Terminator, Predator, and Alien.  Now the Grim Reaper himself.  Requiescat in pace.

ntodd

February 26, 11:07 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

On Hellespont

Hero and Leander:

         It lies not in our power to love or hate,
For will in us is over-rul'd by fate.
When two are stript, long ere the course begin,
We wish that one should lose, the other win;
And one especially do we affect
Of two gold ingots, like in each respect:
The reason no man knows, let it suffice,
What we behold is censur'd by our eyes.
Where both deliberate, the love is slight:
Who ever lov'd, that lov'd not at first sight?

Christopher Marlowe.

ntodd

February 26, 9:44 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Trump Administration Seeks to Loosen Hiring Requirements to Beef Up Border Patrol


They just have to meet the low bar of Lord Dampnut himself.

ntodd

February 26, 8:09 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Stupid Lawns

Hate 'em myself, but their origins are not entirely suprising and rather interesting:

The American obsession with a close-cut patch of green has its roots in 17th-century Europe. Castles in France and England at the time were guarded by men whose vision couldn’t be obstructed by wild shrubbery in case anybody decided to lay siege, so grazing animals were used to trim unruly vegetation. Since these castles belonged to the wealthiest landowners, a smooth property became a status symbol, and that mentality has carried over into the modern-day American ’burb. All that time you spend mowing and raking and weeding? Blame it on the landscape lust of some disenfranchised peasants.

Somewhere along the line, well-groomed turf also became symbolic of a well-rounded masculinity. In 1999, The New York Times reported that “obsession with lawns seems overwhelmingly a male prerogative, maybe the next big guy thing after smoking cigars and swilling martinis.” Then last year, in the National Review, ubiquitous lawn services that leave the weeding to someone else were cited as one of the reasons young men increasingly “don’t have common touchstones for what it’s like to grow up to be a man.” Emphasis theirs.

Why do we do anything?  Because it might have made sense a few centuries ago.  Even the Electoral College!

ntodd

February 26, 6:50 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, 02/25/2017

To The Czar Of Cellists


Just a little something from The Julius Block Cylinders

ntodd

February 25, 11:59 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Fragment 1

Sea-ward, white gleaming thro' the busy scud:

With arching Wings, the sea-mew o'er my head
Posts on, as bent on speed, now passaging
Edges the stiffer Breeze, now, yielding, drifts,
Now floats upon the air, and sends from far
A wildly-wailing Note.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

ntodd

February 25, 11:37 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Look in my eyes, what do you see?


I know your anger, I know your dreams...

ntodd

February 25, 10:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

How is one to know what one doesn’t know?

Gorby, a dude whose enlightened rule coincided with the last two Party Congresses, which coincided with my two jaunts to the former Soviet Union:

The 20th congress of the Communist party holds a unique place in Soviet history, due to Nikita Khrushchev's report On the Cult of the Individual. The speech was prepared in strict secrecy, and Khrushchev kept working on it during the congress. He gave the speech on February 25 1956 at a closed meeting, after the new party leadership was elected. The speech shocked delegates, all committed communists, and then wider Soviet society. It accused Joseph Stalin of creating a personality cult. It debunked the myth of Stalin as "the disciple of Lenin": in fact, under the guise of fighting the "enemies of the people" Stalin had eliminated Lenin's closest associates.

Khrushchev cited facts about Joseph Stalin's criminal deeds, of which the people knew little or nothing. For the first time, he spoke not only about the murder of Sergei Kirov and the execution of delegates to the 17th party congress, but also about the abuse of prisoners. Stalin, who had been venerated as next to God, was revealed as the instigator of mass repression. Despite the damning revelations, the speech's overall assessment of Stalin was relatively mild. In this, Khrushchev yielded to the pressure of conservatives like Molotov. He said, for example, that "in the past Stalin undoubtedly performed great services to the party, to the working class and to the international workers' movement".

By contrast, in preliminary discussion, Khrushchev had said: "Stalin destroyed the party. He was not a Marxist. He wiped out all that is sacred in a human being." Later, fearing that the truth about Stalin could lead to criticism of the political system, Khrushchev reverted to saying that Stalin had been a staunch revolutionary. Such contradictions are evidence of a hard-fought battle - a struggle that should not be seen as mere palace intrigue.

Steve Bannon will be giving this speech one day, I'm sure of it.

ntodd

February 25, 8:18 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

The Poem I Forgot To Post

George Moore:

In speaking of ‘aspiration,’
From the recesses of a pen more dolorous than blackness
itself,
Were you presenting us with one more form of imperturbable
French drollery,
Or was it self directed banter?
Habitual ennui
Took from you, your invisible, hot helmet of anaemia—
While you were filling your “little glass” from the
decanter
Of a transparent-murky, would-be-truthful “hobohemia”—
And then facetiously
Went off with it? Your soul’s supplanter,
The spirit of good narrative, flatters you, convinced that
in reporting briefly
One choice incident, you have known beauty other than that
of stys, on
Which to fix your admiration.

Marianne Moore.

ntodd

February 25, 5:08 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, 02/24/2017

Isn't It Good?


Mmm...drinking wine.

ntodd

February 24, 11:02 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

In München steht ein Hofbräuhaus, oans, zwoa, g'suffa!

Some guy with a funny mustachio:

[T]he date of February 24, 1920 was set for the holding of this first great mass meeting of the still unknown movement.

I personally conducted the preparations. They were very brief. Altogether the whole apparatus was adjusted to make lightning decisions. Its aim was to enable us to take a position on current questions in the form of mass meetings within twenty-four hours. They were to be announced by posters and leaflets whose content was determined according to those guiding principles which in rough outlines I have set down in my treatise on propaganda. Effect on the broad masses, concentration on a few points, constant repetition of the same, self-assured and self-reliant framing of the text in the forms of an apodictic statement, greatest perseverance in distribution and patience in awaiting the effect.

On principle, the color red was chosen; it is the most exciting; we knew it would infuriate and provoke our adversaries the most and thus bring us to their attention and memory whether they liked it or not.

I understand Steve Bannon learned drinking songs there as a wee lad...

ntodd

February 24, 9:14 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Judiciary: How Does It Fucking Work?

[T]he federal judiciary is supreme in the exposition of the law of the Constitution.

 - Cooper v Aaron (1958)


True, Judicial Review was not, actually, born with Marbury, but the ruling sure did cement the weakest branch's role in American constitutional law.  Somebody alert the unpopular fascist pretenders in our Executive branch.

ntodd

February 24, 7:43 PM in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

We Are Not Afraid Of The word 'Tension'

My company's CEO and President signed an open letter to Lord Dampnuts about his immoral, unconstitutional, and counterproductive Muslim ban:

We believe that immigrants and visitors from these nations should be allowed into the US to help increase the efficacy of the work we do to build peace and prosperity both at home and around the world. Collectively, we employ tens of thousands of people, and we have always found that the most powerful solutions for societal ills only emerge with the intimate involvement of those whom we work to serve. Diversity is the lifeblood of social, economic, and political progress, and policies that impede this value weaken our ability to innovate and implement social change.

We fear that such policies limit opportunity, inclusion, and our nation’s opportunity to engage with the world. We stand with the millions of people around the globe who have joined hands in resistance to efforts to sow fear and create false divisions along the lines of religion, ethnicity, country of origin, gender, or any other degree of difference.

I'm just an infosec guy, but I'm very glad to be working with people who have great courage and vision, especially in these unsettled times.

ntodd

February 24, 5:25 PM in Conscience | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, 02/23/2017

Chandos


O Be Joyful in the Lord!  Or whatever.

ntodd

February 23, 11:22 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

He Moves In Mysterious Ways

Hatred and Vengeance, My Eternal Portion:

Scarce can endure delay of execution,
Wait, with impatient readiness, to seize my
                           Soul in a moment.

William Cowper.

ntodd

February 23, 9:35 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, 02/22/2017

Nocturne


I am now very sleepy.

ntodd

February 22, 10:35 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Mine Has Flown

First Fig:

My candle burns at both ends;
   It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—
   It gives a lovely light!

Edna St. Vincent Millay.

ntodd

February 22, 8:12 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, 02/21/2017

a father like trump


Heh: put your tiny hand in mine...

ntodd

February 21, 11:31 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

a sky like lead

The Shield of Achilles:

Out of the air a voice without a face
  Proved by statistics that some cause was just
In tones as dry and level as the place:
  No one was cheered and nothing was discussed;
  Column by column in a cloud of dust
They marched away enduring a belief
Whose logic brought them, somewhere else, to grief.

WH Auden.

ntodd

February 21, 10:14 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Deine Papiere, Jude!

Why not a little repeat of British history:

Identity card schemes have been introduced into this country twice before, only to be scrapped soon after amidst widespread public rejoicing and relief. They were initially brought in during World War I, as a way of increasing domestic security at a time of unprecedented national emergency; but they were generally regarded as a threat to civil liberties rather than a safeguard, and abandoned when the war ended.

They were introduced again in 1939, for essentially the same reason, and were met with an equally unenthusiastic public response. But despite these familiar objections, the Labour government of Clement Attlee decided to continue the scheme, in the face of the Cold War and the perceived Soviet threat, so it was not until 1952 that identity cards were abolished a second time. This was partly because the Conservative government of Winston Churchill was determined to "set the people free". But then, as now, it was also on account of the cost.

And then:

On 7 December 1950, Clarence Willcock, a dry cleaner from north London, was driving his car before being stopped by a policeman, Harold Muckle, who ordered him to show his identity card. He refused. The case Willcock v Muckle ended up in the High Court the following year, with Lord Chief Justice Goddard saying that the continuation of ID cards was an annoyance to the public "and tended to turn law-abiding subjects into law-breakers". Mr Willcock was sent on his way...

At the bottom of the column for Monday 21 February [a House of Commons diary] says: "Identity cards abolished in Britain, 1952". The Tories, under Churchill, had been elected to replace the Attlee government just four months earlier on a programme to "set the people free". Mr Willcock became a national hero and the final inspiration for the Tory view that ID cards had no place in their philosophy.

Churchill's government recognised that their abolition, along with that of rationing, was part of the symbolic transition from the command and control of the people necessitated by the exigencies of war. Their demise signalled the release of the people from the strictures of the state. 

Trump is scribbling notes, I'm sure.

ntodd

February 21, 6:38 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, 02/20/2017

Unflinching Courage


I'm sure that view is even more tremendous now...

ntodd

February 20, 11:43 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

efficient, authoritative, and prosperous

At the Post Office:

The line is long, processional, glacial,
and the attendant a giant stone, cobalt blue
with flecks of white, I’m not so much
looking at a rock but a slab of night.
The stone asks if anything inside the package
is perishable. When I say no the stone
laughs, muted thunderclap, meaning
everything decays, not just fruit
or cut flowers, but paper, ink, the CD
I burned with music, and my friend
waiting to hear the songs, some little joy
after chemo eroded the tumor. I know flesh
is temporary, and memory a tilting barn
the elements dismantle nail by nail.
I know the stone knows a millennia of rain
and wind will even grind away
his ragged face, and all of this slow erasing
is just a prelude to when the swelling
universe burns out, goes dark, holds
nothing but black holes, the bones of stars
and planets, a vast silence. The stone
is stone-faced. The stone asks how soon
I want the package delivered. As fast
as possible, I say, then start counting the days.

David Hernandez.

ntodd

February 20, 11:12 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

What Tyranny Of The Minority?

Madison in Federalist 10:

The influence of factious leaders may kindle a flame within their particular States, but will be unable to spread a general conflagration through the other States. A religious sect may degenerate into a political faction in a part of the Confederacy; but the variety of sects dispersed over the entire face of it must secure the national councils against any danger from that source. A rage for paper money, for an abolition of debts, for an equal division of property, or for any other improper or wicked project, will be less apt to pervade the whole body of the Union than a particular member of it; in the same proportion as such a malady is more likely to taint a particular county or district, than an entire State.

Proof positive that the Framers weren't, in fact, all that.

ntodd

February 20, 10:54 PM in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

I Don't Like Haircuts


I blame Bugs.

ntodd

February 20, 10:21 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Check's In The Mail

[The Post Office] is perhaps the only mercantile project which has been successfully managed by, I believe, every sort of government. 

 - Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations (Book V, Ch 2)


The Post Office has been around since before we had even declared independence--with Ben Franklin made the first Postmaster General--showing just how important communication in general and the postal service in particular is.  The Articles Congress passed An Ordinance for Regulating the Post-Office of the United States of America in 1782.  

Once the US Congress ramped up under our Constitution in 1789, the House wanted to continue the existing regime: 

[U]ntil further provision be made by law, the General Post Office of the United States shall be conducted according to the rules and regulations prescribed: by the ordinances and resolutions of the late Congress, and that contracts be made for the conveyance of the mail in conformity thereto...

But the Senate had other ideas, and on September 11:

Mr. Butler, in behalf of the committee appointed on the tenth of September, on the resolve of the House of Representatives, providing for the regulation of the post of flee, reported, not to concur in the resolve, and a bill upon the subject matter thereof;

And, on the question of concurrence in the resolve of the House of Representatives:

It passed in the negative.

Ordered, That the bill, entitled "An act for the temporary establishment of the post office," have the first reading at this time.

It's not apparent from the record how much, if any, debate there was on the bill.  It zipped through the Senate, and was passed even more rapidly by the House.  The act was extremely brief and its operation was limited through the next session, though it had to be renewed the following August, and again in March after that (when service was also extended to Bennington in the new state of Vermont!).  It appears the Legislative branch has always had difficulty addressing some issues and needed to extend "temporary" solutions time and again.

Anyway, Congress put the Post Office under the Executive branch, which makes sense.  What they didn't do was provide the department much power except basically making contracts for transport of the mail.  The further expansion of the system, and delegation of authority to do so, was an unresolved constitutional question.  Because, you know, it is the Legislative branch who was granted this power in Article I, Section 8To establish Post Offices and Post Roads.  

Which brings us to the Second Congress.  President Washington lit a fire under legislators on October 25, 1791:

I shall content myself with a general reference to former communications for several objects, upon which the urgency of other affairs has hitherto postponed any definitive resolution. Their importance will recal them to your attention; and, I trust, that the progress already made in the most arduous arrangements of the government will afford you leisure to resume them with advantage.

There are, however, some of them of which I cannot forbear a more particular mention. These are: the militia; the post-office and post roads; the mint; weights and measures; a provision for the sale of the vacant lands of the United States.
...
The importance of the post-office and post reads, on a plan sufficiently liberal and comprehensive, as they respect the expedition, safety, and facility of communication, is increased by their instrumentality in diffusing a knowledge of the laws and proceedings of the government; which, while it contributes to the security of the people, serves also to guard them against the effects of misrepresentation and misconception. The establishment of additional cross posts, especially to some of the important points in the western and northern parts of the Union, cannot fail to be of material utility.

So the House finally got to work in earnest on December 6.  Mr Sedgwick started things off with a motion to have the president establish postal routes, as opposed to Congress' specifying each road in legislation.  There was objection:

Mr Livermore observed that the Legislative body being empowered by the Constitution "to establish post offices and post roads," it is as clearly their duty to designate the roads as to establish the offices; and he did not think they could with propriety delegate that power, which they were themselves appointed to exercise. Some gentlemen, he knew, were of opinion that the business of the United States could be better transacted by a single person than by many; but this was not the intention of the Constitution.

It was provided that the Government should be administered by Representatives, of the people's choice; so that every man, who has the right of voting, shall be in some measure concerned in making every law for the United States. The establishment of post roads he considered as a very important object; but he did not wish to see them so diffused as to become a heavy charge where the advantage resulting from them would be but small; nor, on the other hand, for the sake of bringing a revenue into the Treasury, consent to straiten them so as to check the progress of information.

If the post office were to be regulated by the will of a single person, the dissemination of intelligence might be impeded, and the people kept entirely in the dark with respect to the transactions of Government; or the Postmaster, if vested with the whole power, might branch out the offices to such a degree as to make them prove a heavy burden to the United States.

A reply:

Mr Sedgwick felt himself by no means disposed to resign all the business of the House to the President, or to any one else; but he thought that the Executive part of the business ought to be left to Executive officers. He did not, for his part, know the particular circumstances of population, geography, &c., which had been taken into the calculation by the select committee, when they pointed out the roads delineated in the bill; but he would ask, whether they understood the subject so thoroughly as the Executive officer would, who being responsible to the people for the proper discharge of the trust reposed in him, must use his utmost diligence in order to a satisfactory execution of the delegated power?

As to the constitutionality of this delegation, it was admitted by the committee themselves who brought in the bill; for if the power was altogether indelegable, no part of it could be delegated; and if a part of it could, he saw no reason why the whole could not. The second section was as unconstitutional as the first, for it is there said, that "it shall be lawful for the Postmaster General to establish such other roads as post roads, as to him may seem necessary."

Congress, he observed, are authorized not only to establish post offices and post roads, but also to borrow money; but is it understood that Congress are to go in a body to borrow every sum that may be requisite? Is it not rather their office to determine the principle on which the business is to be conducted, and then delegate the power of carrying their resolves into execution? They are also empowered to coin money, and if no part of their power be delegable, he did not know but they might be obliged to turn coiners, and work in the Mint themselves. 

Yaddayaddayadda.  

At the heart of discussion wasn't just whether Congress could delegate such power, but was it even a good idea?  Was the USPS a business, in essence, that should be run super efficiently with substantial executive discretion and maybe even generate some revenue for the national government?  Or was it really an essential public service that needed to be more responsive to the needs of the People and thus required very particular oversight by their representatives in the legislature?

Sedgwick's motion was defeated the following day, so it appears that Congress felt the Post Office wasn't a business per se.  Something that Darrell Issa ought to keep in mind.

Finally, a bill with about 50 lines of designated postal routes was delivered to the Senate on January 10, 1792.  Senators nitpicked, then the chambers came to agreement and Washington signed the rather expansive bill into law on this date.

Now, let's take bets on how quickly Trump will try to destroy my beloved Postal Service.  How much money did FedEx and UPS execs donate to his campagin?

ntodd

February 20, 9:09 PM in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, 02/19/2017

Only child know


No we're never gonna survive.

ntodd

February 19, 11:12 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)