Thursday, 02/11/2016

Everything has to end

You'll soon find we're out of time...


February 11, 11:14 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

For a thousand words she got a life sentence


The woman is perfected.   
Her dead
Body wears the smile of accomplishment,   
The illusion of a Greek necessity
Flows in the scrolls of her toga,   
Her bare
Feet seem to be saying:
We have come so far, it is over.
Each dead child coiled, a white serpent,   
One at each little
Pitcher of milk, now empty.   
She has folded
Them back into her body as petals   
Of a rose close when the garden
Stiffens and odors bleed
From the sweet, deep throats of the night flower.
The moon has nothing to be sad about,   
Staring from her hood of bone.
She is used to this sort of thing.
Her blacks crackle and drag.

Sylvia Plath.


February 11, 9:45 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, 02/10/2016


Not enough trombone, but it's pretty good.


February 10, 11:13 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

We're few, perhaps three

Boris Pasternak:

We're few, perhaps three, hellish fellows
Who hail from the flaming Donetz,
With a fluid gray bark for our cover
Made of rain-clouds and soldiers' soviets
And verses and endless debates
About art or it may be freight rates.

We used to be people.  We're epochs.
Pell-mell we rush caravanwise
As the tundra to groans of the tender
And tension of pistons and ties.
Together we'll rip through your prose,
We'll whirl, a tornado of crows,

And be off!  But you'll not understand it
Till late.  So the wind in the dawn
Hits the thatch on the roof--for a moment--
But puts immortality on
At trees' stormy sessions, in speech
Of boughs the roof's shingles can't reach.

Translated by Babette Deutsch.


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

Intersection Has A Heartbeat

Might be reviving the Intersection again, as Sadie and I are returning to Foothills Bakery regularly on Tuesdays and Fridays (this was yesterday, of course, but isn't dissimilar to today's weather).


February 10, 6:25 PM in Family Life | Permalink | Comments (0)

Old White Man Yells At Marginalized People Shaped Cloud

The disinherited don't need our permission to protest or express themselves in a particular way.  So critics can go fuck themselves, and I'll work on the post telling them exactly how...


February 10, 6:03 PM in And Fuck... | Permalink | Comments (0)

Old Man Yells At Old Man Shaped Cloud

John Cole suggests that the kids are, in fact, not on your lawn, and know just how brown the grass is.  He and Bernie might be on to something...


February 10, 5:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tuesday, 02/09/2016

Live those dreams

Scheme those schemes.


February 9, 11:10 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

They Who Feel Death

For Martyrs:

They who feel death close as a breath
Speak loudly in unlighted rooms
Lounge upright in articulate gesture
Before the herd of jealous Gods

Fate finds them receiving
At home.

Grim the warrior forest who present
Casual silence with casual battle cries
Or stand unflinchingly lodged

In common sand

Alice Walker.


February 9, 10:14 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Everybody Talks About The Weather, But Nobody Ever Legislates Anything About It

Nobody, except Congressman Halbert Paine, et al:

The Executive Documents and the Congressional Globe of the 41st Congress, 2d session, show that on December 14, 1869, Hon. Halbert E. Paine, Member of Congress from Wisconsin, introduced a bill to create a weather warning service under the Secretary of War. The Document accompanying this bill consisted of a Memorial of Prof. Increase A. Lapham of Milwaukee, Wis., entitled "Disasters on the Lakes," and comprised a record of the marine disasters on the Lakes for 1869.

The legislation finally enacted was the passage of a Joint Resolution, also introduced by Mr. Paine, which passed the House of Representatives February 2, 1870; the Senate on February 4, 1870; and was signed and approved by the President February 9, 1870. We may therefore conclude that the passage of the legislation establishing meteorological observations and reports in the United States was accomplished chiefly by the Hon. Halbert E. Paine upon the representations of Prof. I. A. Lapham.

No one has been more scrupulously careful than Abbe himself, as can be shown by documentary evidence, to give Professor Lapham the fullest measure of credit for the work done by him which practically ended with the enactment of the law which imposed upon the Secretary of War the task of organizing meteorological observations throughout the United States and the giving of notice on the northern Lakes and sea-board of the approach of storms.

When the Secretary of War sought to put these provisions of law into operation he endeavored to enlist the services and council of Lapham, Abbe, and others. Lapham declined but Abbe, whose work began with his Cincinnati Weather Bulletin, responded heartily and was appointed the assistant or meteorologist of General Albert J. Myer, chief signal officer of the Army, in charge of this work.

Thus, the National Weather Service was born.  And check out what Cleveland Abbe did, starting with his appointment as the first chief meteorologist, according to Popular Science Monthly (Jan 1888):

In this position, Professor Abbe, during 1871, organized the methods and work of the so-called 'probability' or study-room, in making weather maps, drawing isobars, ordering storm signals, etc., and dictated the published official tri-daily synopses and 'probabilities' of the weather. In the same year he began and urged the collection of lines of leveling, and in 1872, by laborious analysis, deduced the altitudes of the Signal-Service barometers above sea level.

He instituted in 1872, and reorganized in 1874, the work of publishing a monthly weather review, with its maps and studies of storms. He urged the extension of simultaneous observations throughout the world, as the only proper method of studying the weather; and, as General Myer distinctly avowed, the success of the negotiations of the Vienna Congress of 1874 was due to following his advice.

And he organized, in 1875, the work of preparing the material and publishing the 'Daily Bulletin of Simultaneous International Meteorological Observations.' Especially is the organization of the numerous state weather services of the country due to his advocacy, and to the letters sent by his advice by General Hazen to the governors of the states.

As chairman of the standard time committee of the American Metrological Society, and later delegate of the United States to the International Meridian and Time Conference, which met at Washington in October, 1884, Abbe took an active part in all those conferences, discussions and studies, which culminated in the adoption by the railroads of the United States of the present system of standard times.

The Bureau's legislative history is a little murky to me.  Rep Paine introduced two similar bills in December (HR579 on the 14th, HR602 on the 16th).  I can't find out what happened to them, but maybe they died in the Commerce Committee?  Perhaps they decided a joint resolution was more appropriate with such a modest authorization for an existing department.  Dunno.

Regardless, Paine asked for unanimous consent to introduce his resolution (H. Res. 143) on, appropriately enough, Groundhog Day, and it was quickly passed.  The Senate dealt with it in short order, and it was law by the 9th:

Be it resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Unitted States of America in Congress assembled, That the Secretary of War be, and he hereby is, authorized and required to provide for taking meterological ohaervations at the military stations in the interior of the continent, and at other points in the States and Territories of the United States, and for giving notice on the northern lakes and on the sea-coast, by magnetic telegraph and marine signals, of the approach and force of storms.

We can see the motivation in the preamble to Paine's original bill:

Whereas the record of marine disasters on the northern lakes for the years eighteen hundred and sixty-eight and eighteen hundred and sixty-nine, shows that during the year eighteen hundred and sixty-eight one thousand one hundred and sixty-four casualties occurred, involving a loss of three hundred and twenty-one lives, and of property of the value of three million one hundred and fourteen thousand dollars, and that during the year eighteen hundred and sixty-nine one thousand nine hundred and fourteen casualties occurred, involving a loss of two hundred and nine lives, and of property of the value of four million one hundred and sixty thousand dollars;

and that in eighteen hundred and sixty-eight one hundred and five vessels, of the value of one million two hundred and seven thousand three hundred dollars were totally lost, and in eighteen hundred and sixty-nine, one hundred and twenty-six vessels of the value of one million four hundred and fourteen thousand two hundred dollars were totally lost;

and whereas scientific observations have already shown that the course of storms in the United States is generally from west to east, and made known their rate of progress, and the changes of the barometer which precede and accompany them;

and whereas a large proportion of the loss of life and property by marine disasters on the northern lakes might be avoided by timely notice to mariners of approaching storms;


Follows a similar development history to the UK's Met Office a little more than a decade earlier.  Makes a lot of sense, what with commerce, particularly maritime, being so important to both nations, with so many lives and dollars at risk.

Yet the Bureau was initially placed under the War Dept.  Apparently it was thought military discipline would be valuable to the service, though it was put in the Agriculture Dept in 1891, and finally moved to Commerce in 1940 (ordered by that tyrant, FDR, without any Congressional approval).

Anyway, the NWS is there for the benefit of all (one might say for the general Welfare).  Even if it's not mentioned in the Constitution...


February 9, 9:31 PM in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

As Necessary In The Political World As Storms In The Physical

On this date in 1775, the British Parliament declared to the King:

[W]e find, that a part of your Majesty's subjects in the province of the Massachusetts Bay have proceeded so far to resist the authority of the supreme legislature, that a rebellion at this time actually exists within the said province; and we see, with the utmost concern, that they have been countenanced and encouraged by unlawful combinations and engagements, entered into by your Majesty's subjects in several of the other colonies, to the injury and oppression of many of their innocent fellow-subjects resident within the kingdom of Great Britain, and the rest of your Majesty's dominions.

At the time, only some hothead Massholes were rebelling.  It took a bit more than a year of abuse for the rest of New England and her sister colonies to dive in.

But there were even then people in England who as yet attempted conciliation.  Edmund Burke spoke in Parliament the following month:

Those who wield the thunder of the state, may have more confidence in the efficacy of arms. But I confess, possibly for want of this knowledge, my opinion is much more in favour of prudent management, than of force; considering force not as an odious, but a feeble instrument, for preserving a people so numerous, so active, so growing, so spirited as this, in a profitable and subordinate connexion with us.

First, Sir, permit me to observe, that the use of force alone is buttemporary. It may subdue for a moment; but it does not remove the necessity of subduing again: and a nation is not governed, which is perpetually to be conquered.

My next objection is its uncertainty. Terror is not always the effect of force; and an armament is not a victory. If you do not succeed, you are without resource; for, conciliation failing, force remains; but, force failing, no further hope of reconciliation is left. Power and authority are sometimes bought by kindness; but they can never be begged as alms by an impoverished and defeated violence.

A further objection to force is, that you impair the object by your very endeavours to preserve it. The thing you fought for is not the thing which you recover; but depreciated, sunk, wasted, and consumed in the contest. Nothing less will content me, than whole America. 

I do not choose to consume its strength along with our own; because in all parts it is the British strength that I consume. I do not choose to be caught by a foreign enemy at the end of this exhausting conflict; and still less in the midst of it. I may escape; but I can make no insurance against such an event. Let me add, that I do not choose wholly to break the American spirit; because it is the spirit that has made the country.

Lastly, we have no sort of experience in favour of force as an instrument in the rule of our Colonies. Their growth and their utility has been owing to methods altogether different. Our ancient indulgence has been said to be pursued to a fault. It may be so. But we know, if feeling is evidence, that our fault was more tolerable than our attempt [178] to mend it; and our sin far more salutary than our penitence.
The colonies draw from you, as with their life-blood, these ideas and principles. Their love of liberty, as with you, fixed and attached on this specific point of taxing. Liberty might be safe, or might be endangered, in twenty other particulars, without their being much pleased or alarmed. Here they felt its pulse; and as they found that beat, they thought themselves sick or sound.

I do not say whether they were right or wrong in applying your general arguments to their own case. It is not easy indeed to make a monopoly of theorems and corollaries. The fact is, that they did thus apply those general arguments; and your mode of governing them, whether through lenity or indolence, through wisdom or mistake, confirmed them in the imagination, that they, as well as you, had an interest in these common principles.

Obviously that worked as well as John Dickinson's attempts to remain a free Englishman.  But it wasn't a done deal until more bad choices were made by the powers that be.


February 9, 7:54 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Hell Is Other Feminists

Hecate reframes the Special Place In Hell for us:

When Ms. Clinton ran the first time, Geraldine Ferraro, who ran as Walter Mondale’s Vice President and was considered, by many, to be the first realistic female candidate for Vice President, got caught up in Patriarchy’s game.  Ms. Ferraro said that now-President Obama benefitted from being an African American man in his contest with Ms. Clinton.  The media jumped and Ms. Clinton’s campaign suffered.

This time around, Patriarchy’s been playing the game just as effectively.   Former Secretary of State, Madeline Albright, who is pushing 80 and quivering when she holds a microphone, admonished younger women (who think that “it’s already been done”) that there’s a “special place in hell for women who don’t help each other,” and this, as was intended, was played as old women v. young women.  Feminist icon, Gloria Steinem, allowed Patriarchy’s beloved bad boy, Bill Maher, to trap her in this game.  When Mr. Maher asked why Ms. Clinton isn’t doing better with young women, Steinem bought into his assumption and said that young women will get more radical as they age, because women lose power as they get older.

Dear My (Older) Sisters:  Please Stop Letting Them Do This To Us.

Look there is a simple answer to every question that attempts to pit Ms. Clinton’s supporters against other (often younger) women.  Take notes because here it is:

“I support Ms. Clinton.  Almost never has America had such an experienced, tested, and well-rounded candidate for president.  If you want to see her perform under fire, go watch the eleven-hour grilling that she took from hostile Republicans, determined to destroy her candidacy, concerning Benghazi.  Ms. Clinton brings exceptional credentials to the Oval Office, credentials that NO other candidate, Republican or Democrat, can match. I know many young women who are excited to see a woman finally, after more than two hundred years, make a serious run for the White House.  And I know many women who, regardless of Ms. Clinton’s gender, believe Ms. Clinton to be the best, most experienced, most realistic candidate for the White House.  And why is it, Questioner, that you need older women and younger women to engage in a dispute over this?”

Period.  The end.  Move on.

Don't let the bastards grind you down...


February 9, 6:38 PM in Soaking In Patriarchy | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, 02/08/2016

March, Indy!

Yup, my fave.


February 8, 11:04 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

"I find that Thibault cancels out Capoferro."


The mechanism: stamped black tin,
Leatherette over cardboard, bits of boxwood,
A lens
The shutter falls
Dividing that from this.

Now in high-ceiling bedrooms,
unoccupied, unvisited,
in the bottom drawers of veneered bureaus
in cool chemical darkness curl commemorative
montages of the country's World War dead,

just as I myself discovered
one other summer in an attic trunk,
and beneath that every boy's best treasure
of tarnished actual ammunition
real little bits of war
but also
the mechanism

The blued finish of firearms
is a process, controlled, derived from common
rust, but there under so rare and uncommon a patina
that many years untouched
until I took it up
and turning, entranced, down the unpainted
stair, to the hallway where I swear
I never heard the first shot.

The copper-jacketed slug recovered
from the bathroom's cardboard cylinder of
Morton's Salt was undeformed
save for the faint bright marks of lands
and grooves so hot, stilled energy,
it blistered my hand.

The gun lay on the dusty carpet.
Returning in utter awe I took it so carefully up
That the second shot, equally unintended,
notched the hardwood bannister
and brought a strange bright smell of ancient sap to life
in a beam ofdusty sunlight.
Absolutely alone
in awareness of the mechanism.

Like the first time you put your mouth
on a woman.

William Gibson.


February 8, 10:19 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, 02/07/2016

'cause I Slay

The Queen.


February 7, 10:50 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Caged Bird

Apology for Apostasy?

Soft songs, like birds, die in poison air
So my song cannot now be candy.
Anger rots the oak and elm; roses are rare,
Seldom seen through blind despair.
And my murmur cannot be heard
Above the din and damn. The night is full
Of buggers and bastards; no moon or stars
Light the sky. And my candy is deferred
Till peacetime, when my voice shall be light,
Like down, lilting in the air; then shall I
Sing of beaches, white in the magic sun,
And of moons and maidens at midnight.

Etheridge Knight.


February 7, 10:03 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Falò delle vanità

Good times:

It was Lent, 1497. Giralomo Savonarola had already been ruling the city of Florence for many years, preaching to the people and almost brainwashing them into believing that their extravagant life's were sinful. He regularly packed out the Santa Maria del Fiore, famous for it's massive dome built and finished by Brunelleschi in 1469, where he delivered rousing sermons against the extravagant clothes and art that the Florentine people were famous for.

At the start of Lent Savonarola sent a band of innocents around the city to collect up what he called 'vanities'. These innocents, known as the 'blessed innocents' were groups of children who up until then had walked around the city dressed in robes of purest white and singing the praises of God...

At the very bottom of the pyramid were items such as wigs, false beards, pots of rouge that women used to redden their cheeks and perfumes. On top of that were books that Savonarola and his followers considered to be 'Pagan' - these were all important historical works from Greek philosophers, books of poems by Ovid and Petrarch, works by Cicero. Next came paintings, drawings and bust sculptures of subjects considered profane. Included among these were works by the famous Sandro Boticelli, who is said to have been a follower of Savonarola and abandoned his paintings to follow the friar. Next were musical instruments, sculptures and paintings of naked women.

And right at the very top of the pyramid were sculptures of Greek Gods and mythical legends. This was then finalised by an effigy of Satan, reigning over these sinful items. It is said that this model of Satan was given the face of a Venetian man who had offered to buy the items for 22,000 florins. 

Seems apt for Superb Owl Sunday...


February 7, 8:56 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

Beware The People Weeping When They Bare The Iron Hand

A few years ago I noted the strange epilogue to Lincoln's assassination on Birth of a Nation Day (actually tomorrow I just realized, but whatever...blame Leap Year or something).  Major Henry Rathbone and his fiancee, Clara Harris, were present in the theater box:

CLARA HARRIS AND HENRY RATHBONE MARRIED IN 1867, HAD three children, and moved to Hanover, Germany. No one ever blamed Rathbone for the night at Ford’s Theatre. He was a social guest, not Lincoln’s bodyguard. He wasn’t assigned the duty of protecting the presi- dent. And he didn’t see Booth until after the actor fired his pistol.

Still, he was an army officer. And he was in the box.  Fortunately for Rathbone, it did not become widely known that he had asked Dr. Leale to treat his wound before treating Lincoln’s...

Clara would have been better off if John Wilkes Booth had stabbed her fiance again and slain him at Ford’s Theatre on April 14, 1865. If Booth had served her that night, then she would have survived the night eighteen years later when, on December 23, I883, Henry, after behaving oddly and menacing the children, murdered Clara in their home. In a bizarre, chilling reminder of Booth’s crime, Henry selected the assassin’s weapons of choice—the pistol and the knife. Rathbone shot his wife and then stabbed her to death. Then he tried to commit suicide with the same blade.

It was a brutal, bloody crime that harkened back to the horrific scene in the president's box. But this time Clara's dress was drenched not with Henry's blood, but her own. Henry never returned to America and lived out his remaining days in a German asylum.

And speaking of DW's racist agitprop, I'm glad there is a newer film taking the title back.  We need more...


February 7, 7:42 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

if you see rubio acting strangely, don't be surprised

This, apropos of this.


February 7, 6:14 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Yuge Assholes

We don't need 'em:

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) had a terse message for any of his supporters who engage in online harassment: “We don’t want that crap.” He told CNN on Sunday that the so-called “Berniebro” phenomenon is “disgusting” and that “anybody who is supporting me that is doing the sexist things — we don’t want them.”

The “Berniebro” phenomenon, where a mob of online Sanders supporters attack politicians and writers who express views critical of the Vermont senator or supportive of his Democratic rival Secretary Hilary Clinton, launched numerous thinkpieces from journalists unfortunate enough to encounter them online. At their worst, Berniebros have accused Clinton supporters of voting “based on who had the vagina” and have invented novel sexist terms such as “clitrash.”

Meanwhile, the Sanders campaign has engaged in an escalating series of tactics trying to convince the Berniebros to cut it out.

But why doesn't he tell all the socialists to cut the crap?


February 7, 5:09 PM in Soaking In Patriarchy | Permalink | Comments (0)

Vee Are Zee Morons

This, apropos of this and this.


February 7, 12:20 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sovereignty, Schmovereignty

I don’t recognize the United States government as even existing.

 - Cliven Bundy

Today is the 221st birthday of the 11th Amendment.  PAR-TAY!!!eleven!!!!11!

I'm guessing it's not one most people are intimately familiar with, but it has quite a fascinating history:

Eleventh Amendment jurisprudence has become over the years esoteric and abstruse and the decisions inconsistent. At the same time, it is a vital element of federal jurisdiction that "go[es] to the very heart of [the] federal system and affect[s] the allocation of power between the United States and the several states." Because of the centrality of the Amendment at the intersection of federal judicial power and the accountability of the States and their officers to federal constitutional standards, it has occasioned considerable dispute within and without the Court.

The action of the Supreme Court in accepting jurisdiction of a suit against a State by a citizen of another State in 1793 provoked such angry reaction in Georgia and such anxieties in other States that at the first meeting of Congress following the decision the Eleventh Amendment was proposed by an overwhelming vote of both Houses and ratified with, what was for that day, "vehement speed."Chisholm had been brought under that part of the jurisdictional provision of Article III that authorized cognizance of "controversies ... between a State and Citizens of another State."

At the time of the ratification debates, opponents of the proposed Constitution had objected to the subjection of a State to suits in federal courts and had been met with conflicting responses—on the one hand, an admission that the accusation was true and that it was entirely proper so to provide, and, on the other hand, that the accusation was false and the clause applied only when a State was the party plaintiff. So matters stood when Congress, in enacting the Judiciary Act of 1789, without recorded controversy gave the Supreme Court original jurisdiction of suits between States and citizens of other States. Chisholm v. Georgia was brought under this jurisdictional provision to recover under a contract for supplies executed with the State during the Revolution. Four of the five Justices agreed that a State could be sued under this Article III jurisdictional provision and that under section the Supreme Court properly had original jurisdiction.

The Amendment proposed by Congress and ratified by the States was directed specifically toward overturning the result in Chisholmand preventing suits against States by citizens of other States or by citizens or subjects of foreign jurisdictions.

Speaking of inconsistent rulings, how about a little bit from Mr Tony Originalist Scalia?  First, Blatchford v. Native Village of Noatak (1991):

Despite the narrowness of its terms, since Hans v. Louisiana, 134 U. S. 1 (1890), we have understood the Eleventh Amendment to stand not so much for what it says, but for the presupposition of our constitutional structure which it confirms: that the States entered the federal system with their sovereignty intact...

Here Scalia continues playing his revisionist Eleventher trumpet to the tune of Rehnquist's revived hyper-federalism.  As noted by Mark Strasser in FSU Law Review:

The need for one effective federal law could not be satisfied if states were able to avoid suits in federal court by pleading sovereign immunity. As the Framers realized, there would be, at most, a confederation of states rather than one Union, if large portions of state sovereign immunity had not been surrendered when states ratified the Constitution; a confederation was exactly what the Framers sought to replace when arguing for the ratification of the Constitution.

The current sovereign immunity interpretation offered by the Court does not represent the intentions of the Framers, claims to the contrary notwithstanding. It may well be that at least some of the Framers did not believe that nonconsenting states should be subject to federal court jurisdiction on diversity grounds; however, a requirement that states must always give permission to be sued...federal court would have been too close to the bad experience under the Articles of Confederation ever to have been acceptable.

But then there's Scalia VOPA v Stewart (2011):

We do not doubt, of course, that there are limits on the Federal Government’s power to affect the internal operations of a State...But those limits must be found in some textual provision or structural premise of the Constitution. Additional limits cannot be smuggled in under the Eleventh Amendment by barring a suit in federal court that does not violate the State’s sovereign immunity.

Abstruse, indeed.  Tenthers and Eleventhers try to construe the plain text and history of the Constitution to grant way too much sovereignty to the several States.  Writes Aman Pradhan in NYU's Legislation and Policy Journal:

Sovereign immunity frustrates popular sovereignty—the principle that sovereignty resides in the people and that governments are subject to the rule of law—by forcing individuals to file often-ineffective suits against state officials rather than against the states themselves.

Second, it limits the state and federal governments’ attempts to legislate in concert in such areas as environmental law by reducing state accountability and undermining the reach of citizen suits. Reducing state accountability tends to create a disincentive for Congress to delegate regulatory authority to the states.

Third, these drawbacks cannot be justified in the name of the federalist concern for state autonomy. The Eleventh Amendment only grants states immunity from suit; it does nothing to protect their ability to govern. Finally, it may even be counterproductive, as inconsistent enforcement gives the federal government incentive to consolidate, rather than delegate, power.

Tell that to Patrick Henry, man!  Obviously, popular sovereignty carries its own risks to liberty, which is why we have republican government, not direct democracy.  As does state sovereignty, which is why we have a federal system, not a confederation.  

Yet one must remember that the People are, in fact, the ultimate sovereign.  Perhaps we can take inspiration from the vehement reaction to Chisolm and make another clarifying change to our Constitution in the wake of Citizens United.  Or maybe a couple Obama appointments will allow SCOTUS to apply a fix ala Ex parte Young.

Whatever.  Scalia might not believe in Holmes' living constitution, but we still have a living republic two centuries after the Framers first tinkered with their flawed document.  We'll get good at this stuff eventually...


February 7, 10:48 AM in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (2)

Saturday, 02/06/2016

Take the path, believe the math

You'll tell me when it's over.


February 6, 10:56 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Listen, And Feel, & Die.

O-Jazz-O War Memoir: Jazz, Don’t Listen To It At Your Own Risk:

In the beginning, in the wet
Warm dark place,
Straining to break out, clawing at strange cables
Hearing her screams, laughing
Later we forgave ourselves, we didn’t know”
Some secret jazz
Shouted, wait, don’t go.
Impatient, we came running, innocent
Laughing blobs of blood & faith.
To this mother, father world
Where laughter seems out of place
So we learned to cry, pleased
They pronounce human.

Bob Kaufman.


February 6, 9:19 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)


In many ways, Bailey is so reminiscent of Kayla.


February 6, 7:05 PM in Family Life | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, 02/05/2016

We see Orion rising

The stars are ours.


February 5, 11:17 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Will you fight to stay alive here, riding the earth toward God-knows-where?

My God, It's Full of Stars:

We like to think of it as parallel to what we know,
Only bigger. One man against the authorities.
Or one man against a city of zombies. One man
Who is not, in fact, a man, sent to understand
The caravan of men now chasing him like red ants
Let loose down the pants of America. Man on the run.
Man with a ship to catch, a payload to drop,
This message going out to all of space. . . . Though
Maybe it’s more like life below the sea: silent,
Buoyant, bizarrely benign. Relics
Of an outmoded design. Some like to imagine
A cosmic mother watching through a spray of stars,
Mouthing yes, yes as we toddle toward the light,
Biting her lip if we teeter at some ledge. Longing
To sweep us to her breast, she hopes for the best
While the father storms through adjacent rooms
Ranting with the force of Kingdom Come,
Not caring anymore what might snap us in its jaw.
Sometimes,  what I see is a library in a rural community.
All the tall shelves in the big open room. And the pencils
In a cup at Circulation, gnawed on by the entire population.
The books have lived here all along, belonging
For weeks at a time to one or another in the brief sequence
Of family names, speaking (at night mostly) to a face,
A pair of eyes. The most remarkable lies.

Tracy K. Smith.


February 5, 10:41 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Stars are never sleeping

Dead ones and the living...


February 5, 10:02 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

My God, It's Not Full Of Stars!

Speaking of The Great Apollo Hoax:

The first question we typically put to the conspiracists is: if NASA wished to perpetuate a convincing fraud, why didn't they produce photos (with stars) that satisfied the public's expectations and didn't raise questions? We get this answer:

NASA knew they couldn't duplicate the complex arrangement of stars accurately enough to fool people, so they just left them out.

When the webmaster was volunteering at the planetarium at Kansas State University we had no problem creating highly accurate starfields. Star maps and planetarium technology were old hat at the time of the Apollo missions. No special expertise required.

So given that they could have, why didn't they?

It's satisfying to discover that the conspiracists' expectations are naive and that the empty black void is just what you would expect to see under those circumstances.

On earth we see the stars in the sky because there is little other light. Those who live in mountainous country can go up into the mountains where the air is thin and there are no distracting lights, the stars are quite magnificent. But when you return to the brightly lit city and look at the same night sky, you see only the brightest stars. If you go inside the house and turn on all the lights and look out the window, you can't see any stars.

Why not?

Because the human eye has adjusted to the amount of light, first by adjusting the iris and then by changing the chemical composition of the retina to make it more or less sensitive. In the pitch blackness of the mountains they're open just as wide as they can be, allowing more light to enter. In the night city, they close somewhat to adjust for the street lights. And inside the house, they are as closed as they are during the daytime in sunlight. Acamera's aperture works the same way. To set the exposure for bright exposure means that subtle lights like stars simply won't show up.

Because the sky on the moon is black, we tend to believe the viewing conditions are the same as night on earth. Not true.

The proof that NASA understood exactly what they were doing in creating a precise hoax:

113:49:43 Shepard: Okay, Houston. While he's working on the LEC, let me comment that it certainly is a stark place here at Fra Mauro. I think it's made all the more stark by the fact that the sky is completely black.

Do not mourn Shepard, Roosa, and Mitchell.  They were conspirators of the most odious kind.


February 5, 9:23 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Antares; Houston. You're Go For Fra Mauro.

NASA's 3rd faked landing was fun.


February 5, 8:40 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

The One In Channel 30?

The Apollo 14 landing involved one of my favorite computer stories ever:

In the center of Antares’ control panel was a red circular push button labelled “Abort.” Its purpose did not require a huge amount of explanation, except that pressing it would set in motion a chain of events to terminate the lunar landing, activating the ascent engine and boosting Shepard and Mitchell back up toward Roosa and Kitty Hawk. “The switch,” wrote Gene Kranz, one of the mission’s four flight directors, “had electrical contacts to issue signals to the LM engines, computer and abort electronics. When the abort switch for Apollo 14’s LM had been manufactured, a small piece of metal had been left in the switch. Now, in zero gravity, and with both crew and ground oblivious, this piece of metal was floating among the contacts of the switch, randomly making intermittent connections.”

Since the drama of Apollo 13, more than $15 million-worth of modifications had been incorporated into the Mission Operations Control Room, one of which included changes to help a controller to rapidly identify any change in status in critical spacecraft systems. From his chair as Antares’ control engineer for descent and landing, Dick Thorson glanced at his monitor and noticed a red light blink on; it seemed to imply that either Shepard or Mitchell had pushed the Abort button. Thorson was perplexed. Why would they do that? They had yet to begin their Powered Descent. Maybe there had been a telemetry patching error to the light panel on his console; a quick check, however, confirmed that everything was as it should be. As the engineer’s eyes widened, it became clear that, if this was for real, it signalled bad news for the landing at Fra Mauro. In the back room, two of Thorson’s colleagues, Hal Loden and Bob Carlton, also noticed the problem and suggested that one of the astronauts should tap the panel on which the Abort switch was located, in an effort to resolve the indication.

“Gerry,” Thorson called up Flight Director Gerry Griffin on the intercom loop, “I’m seeing an abort indication in the lunar module. Have the crew verify that the button is not depressed.”

Capcom Fred Haise duly passed the request up to Antares, and Mitchell tapped the panel with a flashlight. The abort light blinked off, then came back on again a few minutes later. “What’s wrong with this ship?” Shepard wondered. They were barely 90 minutes away from the initiation of Powered Descent, and the landing was temporarily waved off until a solution could be found. “Thorson’s dilemma was a thorny one,” explained Kranz in his autobiography, Failure Is Not An Option. “To land, we needed to bypass the switch, but if we had problems during landing, we needed the switch to abort. It was a hell of a risk-gain trade.” Thorson’s team identified a software “patch” for Antares’ computer, which would lock out both the Abort and Abort Stage switches, allowing the mission to continue. However, in an emergency, should Shepard and Mitchell need to perform an abort close to the surface, they would need to use the keyboard to manually initiate the abort program. Gerry Griffin was willing to accept the risk, confident that Shepard would probably do the same. He rescheduled the landing attempt for two hours’ time, on the next pass.

Key to this effort was the Draper Laboratory at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which had developed the guidance and navigation systems for the Apollo spacecraft. Their engineers now shifted into high gear to wring out the software patch and make it work. Within the hour, a procedure had been devised, whereby the Abort switch could be bypassed when the descent engine was ignited and then re-enabled immediately thereafter. Amidst ratty communications with Antares, Haise radioed up instructions to Mitchell. First, the astronauts would start the descent engine at low power, using the acceleration to move the contaminating metal—probably a bit of solder—away from the switch contacts. As soon as Shepard fired the engine, Mitchell would input a string of 16 commands to enable steering and guidance, then another string of 16 more commands to disable the Abort program, then another 14 commands to lock into the landing radar and the descent software.

“This entire sequence,” wrote Kranz, “would occur as the crew was descending to the Moon. The mission now rested on an emergency patch to the flight software that was less than two hours old, had been simulated only once and was being performed by a crew that had never practiced it.” Nevertheless, when the engine lit, Kranz was astounded that Shepard had lost nothing of his sharpness and marvelous calmness as the instructions were entered into Antares’ computer. As the engine climbed steadily toward 10 percent thrust, Thorson monitored his display and saw no evidence that the Abort switch had been activated. So far, the mission was back on track.

“Thank you, Houston,” radioed Shepard. “Nice job down there!”

In his biography of Shepard, Neal Thompson related the singular contribution of one young MIT programmer, Don Eyles, who had helped to design Antares’ software. Eyles recalled being shocked from sleep as an Air Force car screeched to a halt outside his apartment at two in the morning and a uniformed officer hammered on his door. He was told that he had 90 minutes to come up with a solution for Apollo 14’s problems. Eyles threw a jacket over his pyjamas and was driven to his nearby lab to create, virtually from scratch, a substitute program to eliminate Antares’ faulty abort signal.

These days if they had a problem, the astronauts would first be required to login to Windows Live, then go to a Knowledge Base article, then finally just build a new machine themselves and install Linux.


February 5, 8:07 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)


The Dogz greet Sonora during morning pee, and some felines refuse to be left out. Murphy missed the party, but left a message.


February 5, 2:33 PM in Family Life | Permalink | Comments (0)

Happy Birthday, Crazy James Otis!

There's sort of Godwinian kind of law regarding taxes.  The longer a debate goes on, there's a probability approaching one that somebody will cry, "no taxation without representation!"

Uh, yeah, and do you not have Representatives and Senators in the Congress?  Were you prevented from voting in national, state and local elections in 2008, 2010, 2012 (despite the GOP's best efforts)?  It's certainly true that arbitrary authority extracting taxes without our consent is bad, as James Otis wrote in 1764:

The very act of taxing exercised over those who are not represented appears to me to be depriving them of one of their most essential rights as freemen, and if continued seems to be in effect an entire disfranchisement of every civil right.

But the whole point is that we do grant the authority to tax for our collective good, not that we rebelled over taxation per se.  Way back in the days of revolution, people recognized that shit had to be paid for, and that our primary beef was that we wanted to be able to direct and limit that responsiblity of government.

Same goes for all the insurrectionist fever going around.  If we lived in a nation with no popular sovereignty and no republican structure to mitigate the worst effects of government, then yeah, maybe we should rebel over Obama's drone war or healthcare mandates or whatever.

Yet we have free elections, representation and rights to demand action from our government (we even retain our natural rights to engage in acts of civil disobedience, so long as we're prepared to accept the consequences).  It ain't easy, but it's a far sight better than picking up our muskets every time we don't agree with policy.


February 5, 1:20 PM in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (2)