Saturday, 01/31/2015

Bottomless Pathos



January 31, 10:23 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

"The constitutional majority of two thirds having voted in the affirmative..."

January 31, 1865, the US House passed the 13th Amendment:

During the roll-call,

On Mr. English and Mr. Ganson voting 'ay,' there was considerable applause on the Republican side of the House.

The Speaker called repeatedly to order, and asked that members should set a better example to spectators in the gallery.

Mr. Kalbfleisch and other Democratic members remarked that the applause came, not from the spectators in the gallery, but from members on the floor.
The Speaker directed the Clerk to call his name as a member of the House.

The Clerk called the name of Schulyer Colfax, of Indiana, and Mr. Colfax voted "ay."

[This incident was greeted with renewed applause.]

The Speaker.  The constitutional majority of two thirds having voted in the affirmative, the joint resolution is passed.

[The announcement was received by the House and by the spectators with an outburst of enthusiasm. The members on the Republican side of the House instantly sprang to their feet, and, regardless of parliamentary rules, applauded with cheers and clapping of hands. The example was followed by male spectators in the galleries, which were crowded to excess, who waved their hats and cheered loud and long, while the ladies, hundreds of whom were present, rose in their seats and waved their handkerchiefs, participating in and adding to the general excitement and intense interest of the scene. This lasted for several minutes.]

Despite some of the expected cinematic liberties taken by Spielberg, Lincoln actually portrays the scene pretty well.  And in less than a year, the amendment became Supreme Law of the Land.

Naturally, States' Rightists tried to use the ban on slavery a century later to fight against civil rights.  Because not being allowed to discriminate is the real slavery.


January 31, 8:50 PM in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Watch This. Here, Hold My Vaccines.

Hey, let's get drunk and start firing into a crowd!

Each day, we make dozens of decisions that directly relate to our health. We decide to wear a seatbelt on our way to work, or we don't. And sometimes, we choose the riskier path for reasons of convenience or comfort or pleasure. We might not wear a bike helmet or we might have a second drink at happy hour (Or a third. Or a fourth).

These are decisions about the amount of risk that we want to take on as individuals, and we accept the risks of our own decisions.

Deciding whether or not to get vaccinations — or to get our children vaccinations — is not one of those decisions. Vaccination is not a personal decision. It has the potential to affect hundreds, maybe thousands, of other people.

It's a good article, though I'd submit that deciding to have that 3rd or 4th drink isn't just an individual choice either.  That's why we've criminalized impaired driving and worked hard to educate people on the dangers enough.  This has reduced drunk driving deaths, injuries and other social damage.

And we had done similar--better, even--good regarding preventable diseases.  Until some people started acting like they deserve society's protection without any social obligation.


January 31, 1:26 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Golden Arches, Not Hammers And Sickles

January 31, 1990:

The Soviet Union's first McDonald's fast food restaurant opens in Moscow. Throngs of people line up to pay the equivalent of several days' wages for Big Macs, shakes, and french fries.

The appearance of this notorious symbol of capitalism and the enthusiastic reception it received from the Russian people were signs that times were changing in the Soviet Union. An American journalist on the scene reported the customers seemed most amazed at the "simple sight of polite shop this nation of commercial boorishness." A Soviet journalist had a more practical opinion, stating that the restaurant was "the expression of America's rationalism and pragmatism toward food." He also noted that the "contrast with our own unrealized pretensions is both sad and challenging."

I lived in Moscow that summer, which was generally a different experience than when I was there in '86, not just where McDonald's or other Western corporate incursions were concerned.  Where I was yelled at by cops for essentially jaywalking in Red Square the first time around, four years later there were painters, entrepreneurs selling trinkets, and even CNN with a big platform across the street from the Kremlin to cover what would prove to be the final Communist Party Congress.

My friends and I answered the siren song of Ronald McDonald after several weeks of scrounging for food of uncertain quality.  After going through Lenin's tomb 3 times in a row on a lark, and being rebuffed at a couple restaurants, we surrendered and scampered over for a guaranteed meal of something familiar, if not the best product.

In line about 2 hours, watching with great mirth as Russians examined menu placemats that staff handed out so they'd know what was available, negotiated with their children about what was for dinner, purchased many bags full of Big Macs, etc.  Given how long we all were used to waiting for typical Soviet fare, it was well worth time (and money for both locals and starving students living on decent stipends).

Ended up dining under the Golden Arches a few more times before departing the Evil Empire for the last time.  Something I never would have imagined possible when I chose to major in Russian and Soviet Studies.  Turns out, I also didn't imagine the country would disappear just after I obtained my degree, so one ought not put too much stock in my imagination.


January 31, 11:14 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Post-racial Police

Conservatives who think they've "debunked" Charles Blow's story about his kid clearly have never seen Boyz n the Hood.  Oh, and haven't considered the essential point that young black males are assumed to be nefarious by our society which, turns out, includes black cops.


January 31, 10:16 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, 01/30/2015

Now Everybody Do The Propaganda

And sing along to the age of paranoia.


January 30, 10:42 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Innocence Is A Kind Of Insanity

If only David Brooks would truly be a Quiet American.


January 30, 10:15 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

"He would not require us to deny sense and reason in physical matters."


I am reminded again of the singular genius of Walter Miller’s Canticle for Leibowitz.  The church preserves human knowledge after a holocaust unleashed by science.  The church even recovers modern science when a monk is the first person to understand the principle of generating electricity and using it to power a light bulb (which he also invents; although it’s an arc light, not a vacuum sealed bulb).  Eventually science recreates the conditions for holocaust, and the church, in the form of a handful of monks, leaves Earth for colonies in space.  Science, as ever, owes nothing to society, even as it destroys it twice.  Religion, on other hand, offers society both an alternative, and continuation.  It is in the world and not entirely of the world.  Science, entirely in and of the world, still imagines its place is above the world, and superior to it.  Human arrogance loves to be fed, no matter the consequences.

Love the book myself.

Of course, monkish folk kept knowledge alive during the darkest of ages, as we know from James Burke and Umberto Eco.  Still, Quakers don't usually trust the type.  And I prefer this picture to the one RMJ used for his hate-filled agenda.


January 30, 8:45 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Where Everything Isn't Meant To Be Okay


While some false beliefs, such as astrology, are fairly harmless, parents who believe falsely that vaccination is dangerous or unnecessary for children present a real public health hazard. That's why researchers, publishing in Pediatrics, decided to test four different pro-vaccination messages on a group of parents with children under 18 and with a variety of attitudes about vaccination to see which one was most persuasive in persuading them to vaccinate.  As Chris Mooney reports for Mother Jones, the results are utterly demoralizing: Nothing made anti-vaccination parents more amendable to vaccinating their kids. At best, the messages didn't move the needle one way or another, but it seems the harder you try to persuade a vaccination denialist to see the light, the more stubborn they get about not vaccinating their kids.

But hey, the problem isn't antivaxxers!

[P]arents who opt out of vaccines come to their decisions by prioritizing the very virtues American culture readily recommends: freedom of choice, consumer primacy, individualism, self-determination, and a dim, almost cynical view of common goods like public health. If enclaves of anti-vaccination advocates are limited to the rarefied exurbs of California and Oregon, then the prevalence of this "neoliberal" frame makes all the more sense, as a certain laissez-faire attitude toward matters of mass coordination is associated with wealth and an attendant sense of personal control: Since money affords the wealthy a certain amount of control over their personal affairs, they both experience feelings of control (which may or may not correspond to reality) and feel less concerned with the welfare of others. After all, if one is convinced they can manage their own affairs, why shouldn't everyone else be able to?

'cept for the whole epoch wherein Americans complied with vaccine regimes enough to eliminate smallpox, polio, and measles, the thesis is sound.  But we do seem to have lost our love for science, so perhaps contemporary American culture has become stupid as well as selfish.


January 30, 6:52 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)


Only Other People have identities to play identity politics with.  We The Default are just poor schmoes trying to make it through life the best we can with our inherent advantages.


January 30, 5:34 PM in Soaking In Patriarchy | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Confusion And Delay

Come with us to the beautiful Island of Sodor in the worst Thomas video you'll ever see.


January 30, 4:57 PM in Family Life | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)


No angel.

A pause.

Bodies, rest & motion.

Today's snow almost makes up for that dud of a storm earlier this week.


January 30, 10:44 AM in Firewall Fairy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

"We will rendezvous Again."

a message from the bunker:

It was not meant to be an odyssey,
Leviathan escape. Some unravel
time is all, to add a wing but not 
rebuild the nest. A few fortnights 
of coming down from drafty stages, 
scary plains, aging airplanes. Too 
many mornings waking in The 
Grand and Not So Grand 
Hotel Where Am I.

RIP, Rod McKuen.


January 30, 8:50 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, 01/29/2015

A Quaint And Curious Volume Of Forgotten Lore

Don't send me to the path of nevermore.


January 29, 10:07 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Demon, Get Out!

Remember when?

Eric Robert Rudolph [plead] guilty to federal charges stemming from a series of bombings, including the fatal attacks at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta during the 1996 Olympics and at a Birmingham, Alabama family planning clinic in 1998.

Rudolph, 38, of Murphy, North Carolina, was charged in the Northern District of Georgia for the bombing attack at Centennial Olympic Park on July 27, 1996, which killed Olympic spectator Alice Hawthorne and seriously injured more than 100 other people; the bombing attack on a Sandy Springs, Georgia, family planning clinic on Jan. 16, 1997, which injured more than 50 people; and the bombing attack on a Midtown Atlanta nightclub, the Otherside Lounge, on Feb. 21, 1997, which injured five people.

Rudolph was also indicted in the Northern District of Alabama for the bombing attack on a Birmingham family planning clinic on Jan. 29, 1998, which killed Birmingham Police Officer Robert Sanderson and critically injured nurse Emily Lyons.

When will white Christians renounce their terrorism?


January 29, 4:59 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

The Obamacare Destructors

Once again, the GOP reminds me of the Wormsley Common Gang.


January 29, 12:42 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)


Ericka got a nice kid shot in Mount Peculiar whilst I was at a State Dem Cmte meeting last winter.


January 29, 8:30 AM in Family Life | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, 01/28/2015

Sittin' On Top Of The World

Let's to it pell-mell...


January 28, 10:52 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Where Is A Man's Castle?

This Volokh post about the ancient American debate about self-defense simply reminded me of stuff I've written about Paul Revere and John Adams.  That is all.


January 28, 8:27 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sticking To Their Guns


Gun Owners of Vermont President Ed Cutler thinks there are already too many gun laws in Vermont, and he strongly opposes background check legislation introduced in the Senate last week.

The overarching issue for Cutler and many gun rights’ proponents, who gathered at the Statehouse on Tuesday wearing blaze orange clothing, is that they view any new gun law as a step toward criminalizing lawful gun ownership.

Vermont has among the most liberal gun laws in the country, according to the Law Center for Prevention of Gun Violence. The state does not require a permit for carrying a concealed gun, and does not impose a waiting period for purchases, limit the number of guns that can be bought at one time, require the reporting of mental health commitments, or require dealers to obtain a state license.

I'm not opposed to background checks or even other heavier restrictions--I find them consistent with both the US and VT constitutions for a variety of reasons (I won't even bother linking to old posts right now).  I'm also not hep on them, primarily because our state does not, in fact, have a gun problem, and it's not credibly been shown to be looming on the horizon, nor are we a dangerous exporter of weapon because of our liberal laws.

All that said, I truly don't understand why any Vermont pol is trying to push this, particularly after my friend Senator Philip Baruth had to withdraw an "assault weapon" ban during the previous Legislature because of a huge backlash that mobilized my friends in the pro-RKBA camp.  I can't even buy the glib "Bloomberg money" explanation.

Phil didn't really pay a political price in Chittenden County, but other gun safety proponents did in the last election cycle, and there doesn't seem to be any upside to this kind of legislation, even if there arguably were some need for it.  I'd rather our legislators work harder on single-payer, strengthening the social safety net, and raising taxes on Governor Shumlin's golf pals than waste time and political capital on this issue.

Oh, and as an elected municipal official, I'd also suggest they give us more money for our crumbling infrastructure, which would go a long way to saving our taxpayers money, create jobs, and probably save more lives than any potential gun safety law would.


January 28, 6:50 PM in RKBA | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Waterboarding Is Not Refreshing

This is:

[U.S. Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch] was asked about [waterboarding] by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee.

"Waterboarding is torture, senator," Lynch said.

"And thus illegal?" he asked.

"And thus illegal," she said.

Not that any of the perps will be frog marched to jail, but this is still important.


January 28, 12:06 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

High Flight

By John Gillespie Magee, Jr:

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth 
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings; 
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth 
Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things 
You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung 
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there, 
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung 
My eager craft through footless halls of air. 
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue 
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace 
Where never lark, or even eagle flew - 
And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod 
The high untrespassed sanctity of space, 
Put out my hand and touched the face of God. 

Another day, another NASA disaster anniversary...


January 28, 10:54 AM in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, 01/27/2015

Every Day The Dreamers Die

See what's on the other side.


January 27, 10:25 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

"Our God-given curiosity will force us to go there ourselves..."

Godspeed, Grissom, White, and Chaffee:

There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail:
There gloom the dark, broad seas. My mariners,
Souls that have toil'd, and wrought, and thought with me—
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads—you and I are old;
Old age hath yet his honour and his toil;
Death closes all: but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson.


January 27, 9:48 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

I Blame Mark Twain


A lot of my friends, both those with kids and those without, are pissed off at "the weatherman" for telling them there would be a big storm when there was not. But keep in mind that predicting the weather is really really hard. Predicting with perfect accuracy is currently impossible. I'm sure  meteorologist would much rather be right, so they do their best based on the measurements and models they have. It doesn't always work because there are too many factors that go into any weather system. They still do a much better job than weather predictors have done at any other point in human history. So lay off them.

The people to heap scorn on are the newscasters and their enablers on social media who hyperventilate any time they hear the word "snow." Not every storm has to be the one "of the century" or a "-mageddon". It is possible to tell people we might get a lot of snow the next day without treating it as it might be the end of civilization as we know it. Snow is actually normal weather in this part of the country. We can treat it like a normal thing, even while telling people there is a chance that the snow might pile up and disrupt travel for a short period of time. It doesn't have to be anything scary or alarming. It can just be something to take into account. 

Ignorant governors don't help, either.


January 27, 8:56 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Damned Peasants, Responding To Free Speech With Free Speech

I don't normally go for much in the way of media personality crit, but this is good:

It's getting so that white people are afraid to speak their minds:

Under p.c. culture, the same idea can be expressed identically by two people but received differently depending on the race and sex of the individuals doing the expressing.

This is a well-documented and obvious point, only for some reason it says "Under p.c. culture" instead of "everywhere." As I'm sure Chait is aware, women who write cutting and incisive columns about politics are constantly subject to sexist abuse of the sort he never has to deal with, and people of color who write the same sorts of things as Jonathan Chait face similarly endless torrents of racist abuse. Straight, white men, though, are sometimes called racist, which we can all agree is hurtful in its own way.

It's tough being a Good Liberal out there, what with all the riffraff and their twitter machines...


January 27, 6:43 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)


We have plenty of resources.  What's in scarce supply is empathy, sharing, and basic humanity, thanks to the Cult of Avarice.


January 27, 5:47 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

In God's Country

Yeah, okay President Sharia:

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) said during an appearance Thursday on a Christian television show that he’s thinking about running for President to help the nation know where laws come from: God.
“We cannot survive as a republic if we do not become, once again, a God-centered nation that understands that our laws do not come from man, they come from God,” he said on the show “Life Today.”

That brought to mind something Brother William argued in The Name of the Rose:

God had told Adam not to eat of the tree of good and evil, and that was divine law; but then He had authorized, or, rather, encouraged, Adam to give things names, and on that score He had allowed His terrestrial subject free rein. In fact, though some in our times say that nomina sunt consequentia rerum, the book of Genesis is actually quite explicit on this point: God brought all the animals unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.

And though surely the first man had been clever enough to call, in his Adamic language, every thing and animal according to its nature, nevertheless he was exercising a kind of sovereign right in imagining the name that in his opinion best corresponded to that nature. Because, in fact, it is now known that men impose different names to designate concepts, though only the concepts, signs of things, are the same for all. So that surely the word “nomen” comes from “nomos,” that is to say “law,” since nomina are given by men ad placitum, in other words by free and collective accord.

...William concluded, is it clear that legislation over the things of this earth, and therefore over the things of the cities and kingdoms, has nothing to do with the custody and administration of the divine word, an unalienable privilege of the ecclesiastical hierarchy. Unhappy indeed, William said, are the infidels, who have no similar authority to interpret for them the divine word (and all felt sorry for the infidels).

Oddly enough, I hadn't read Eco at the time, but back when Last Temptation of Christ came out this line of reasoning (minus the Latin) formed the basis of an LTE that I'd written to the Toledo Blade supporting the movie against certain folks who wanted it banned.  Then a fundamentalist wrote to me in response and we got into an argument over snail mail--I come by my troll persona honestly.


January 27, 4:23 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Trolling The Troll

As I've noted before, trolling Scalia with his own dissents is fun!  Whether it be about marriage equality or Obamacare...


January 27, 1:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)


Daughter of Saturn
And mother of Mars. Juno:
Disappointing storm.


January 27, 12:44 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, 01/26/2015

Sturm Und Drang

Seen reports of thundersnow thanks to our friend Juno, but nary a flake in these parts thus far.


January 26, 9:33 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Assisted State Suicide

The Nation tackles disenfranchisement:

[A]n important tool remains unused, all but forgotten in a dark and dusty corner of the shed. Dating back to Reconstruction, it has the great merit of being already enshrined in the Constitution. According to Section 2 of the Fourteenth Amendment, any state that denies or abridges the right to vote for any reason must have its congressional representation reduced in proportion to the number of citizens it disenfranchises. Arguably the most radical clause in the Constitution, it was designed to remake the government and the country. It has never been enforced.
Last September, the Government Accountability Office released a report showing that in Kansas and Tennessee, both of which passed voter-ID laws, voter turnout in the 2012 elections declined 2 to 3 percentage points more than in comparable states that did not introduce such restrictions. The report demonstrated that turnout was disproportionately lower among African-Americans, newly registered voters, and those between the ages of 18 and 23.

Now imagine if Section 2 were finally enforced. Kansas sends only four representatives to the House, so disenfranchisement of 25 percent of its voting-age citizens would be required for it to lose one. Tennessee has nine, bringing the percentage down to 11. North Carolina has thirteen representatives; 7.7 percent of voters would need to be disenfranchised. Ohio, with sixteen members, would need 6.25 percent; Florida, with twenty-seven members, 3.7 percent—still too high. But Texas has thirty-six representatives. Only 2.8 percent of Texans would need to be disenfranchised for the Lone Star State to lose a member of its congressional delegation.
“Big deal,” the skeptics may scoff, “one measly representative.” Enforcing Section 2 would neither end the latest infringements on voting rights nor immediately reverse the balance of power in the House. But it would contextualize voter-ID laws and related policies within a broader project of voter suppression that’s as old as the restored Union. The provision was designed, as one of its supporters argued, for a future in which Congress refuses to enforce voters rights, so that disenfranchising states, in the interim, would “not have the benefit of their wrongdoing.” A gift from the Radical Republicans of 1866 to the radical democrats of today, Section 2 should figure prominently in the 2016 platform of any candidate or party committed to protecting the right to vote.

I guess this is clever so far as it goes.  

But, um...enforcement would require legislation per Section 5, which oddly enough has essentially the same language as Amendment XV's Section 2.  You know, the part that John Roberts found oddly less than compelling a reason to uphold the VRA.  So I'm not sure why the GOP Congress or SCOTUS would do this.

As for making this a platform plank, I just don't see this even as a useful rhetorical exercise.  I'm not sure it would scootch the Overton Window, and certainly it's not going to earn any political points when a lot of education would be required to even broach the subject of proportional representation.


January 26, 9:43 AM in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, 01/25/2015

We come from the land of the ice and snow

Weather models are our overlords...


January 25, 10:12 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

An Immodest Tradeoff

Loomis wants to eat the rich:

If I wrote an op-ed that said my ideology created policy preferences that might lead to the death of the poor, but, hey, we have to make trade-offs, I’d be Fred Hiatt’s new best friend. Such as Michael Strain of the American Enterprise Institute:

Say conservatives have their way with Obamacare, and the Supreme Court deals it a death blow or a Republican president repeals it in 2017. Some people who got health insurance as a result of the Affordable Care Act may lose it. In which case, liberals like to say, some of Obamacare’s beneficiaries may die.

During the health-care debates of 2009, Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) brought a poster on the House floor: “The Republican Health Care Plan: Die Quickly.” In the summer of 2012, when Obamacare was threatened by a presidential election, writer Jonathan Alter argued that “repeal equals death. People will die in the United States if Obamacare is repealed.” Columnist Jonathan Chait wrote recently that those who may die are victims of ideology — “collateral damage” incurred in conservatives’ pursuit “of a larger goal.” If these are the stakes, many liberals argue, then ending Obamacare is immoral.

Except, it’s not.

In a world of scarce resources, a slightly higher mortality rate is an acceptable price to pay for certain goals — including more cash for other programs, such as those that help the poor; less government coercion and more individual liberty; more health-care choice for consumers, allowing them to find plans that better fit their needs; more money for taxpayers to spend themselves; and less federal health-care spending. This opinion is not immoral. Such choices are inevitable. They are made all the time.

Saying of the ending of Obamacare, even if it leads to the deaths of thousands of poor, “it clearly would not be immoral,” Strain goes on into absurd comparison country...It swings from “we let people drive cars and sometimes people die in them so why bother with a good healthcare system” to “oh yeah libs, well what would you say to spending 3/4 of our GDP on health care,” i.e., arguments no one is making except in American Enterprise Institute drinking parties.

Fuck it, we gotta build more bombs and give the Kochs tax cuts.  The poor can just make better choices about how and when they're born, or die.


January 25, 6:38 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

I am but mad north-north-west

When the wind is southerly I know a hawk from a handsaw:

By Monday a strong Nor'easter will start to develop. Southern parts of Vermont could see some light snow develop Monday afternoon. The worst of the storm will occur on Monday night into Tuesday; snow will be heavy at times especially in central and southern areas. The snow will taper off to snow showers on Tuesday afternoon and evening. Some snow showers could linger, especially in the mountains, through Wednesday. As always, the storm track is critical in determining snowfall amounts.

At this early juncture it appears that southern areas could see more than a foot of snow out of this. Central parts of the region could end up with at least 6-12". Then amounts will continue to drop off to the north and west. If the storm tracks closer to the coast, then many of us would see more than a foot of snow. It's still early in the game, so please check back for updates. For many of us, travel will likely be very difficult on Tuesday morning.

Toboggans and snowshoes all prepped.  Just need more booze and strawberry poptarts.


January 25, 1:57 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Letting Aliens Vote

Had an interesting conversation on Twitter with a few people in light of BTV's exploration of re-enfranchising resident aliens for local elections.  Had a less interesting discussion with people who were more hostile, ignorant and racist on Facebook, too (it's treasonous!  it's unconstitutional!  it's about assmiliation!).

I'll leave aside the fact that the US Constitution is silent on the issue and rather allows the Several States to set voting qualifications for Federal elections.  I find this bit from Vermont history to be illuminating:

Although state-wide voting rights were linked to U.S. citizenship after 1828, non-citizens continued to participate as voters and government officials at the local level.  In Woodcock v. Bolster, decided in 1863, the Vermont Supreme Court considered whether voting by aliens in school and town elections conflicted with the Constitution...After declaring the practice of local non-citizen voting to be in keeping with the state Constitution and laws, the court commented on the policy arguments advanced by the challenger:    

“It is also urged, that, upon general principles of public policy, unnaturalized foreigners should not be allowed this limited right to vote and hold office; that with so little education as they usually have, and such limited knowledge of the principles and policy of our government as they possess, there is danger in allowing them to exercise even so small a share in the government and management of our educational and municipal institutions...But we are not satisfied that the objection itself is sound.'

...It has been the policy of our government to encourage emigration from abroad, and, at as early a period as may be, to extend to such emigrants all the rights of citizenship, that their feelings and interests may become identified with the government and the country. While awaiting the time when they are to become entitled to the full rights of citizenship, it seems to us a wise policy in the Legislature to allow them to participate in the affairs of these minor municipal corporations, as in some degree a preparatory fitting and training for the exercise of the more important and extensive rights and duties of citizens.

It is of the greatest importance that the children of such persons should be educated, at least to the extent for which opportunity is afforded by our common schools, and that the parents should be induced to send their children to school, and it seems to us that they would be much more likely to do so, and to take interest in their attendance and improvement, if allowed to participate in their regulation and management, than if wholly excluded.

One of the main objections (besides simple bigotry) is that these furriners are just too damned ignorant to vote properly.  What I find most compelling about SCOV's argument is that if you want people to be educated (which is funny because I have plenty of anectdata about Somali chemical engineers and university professors and the like living here), they need to be engaged in the system.  

How better to accomplish that than to allow them to vote for school board members and whatnot?  Denying them political rights in their local community is counterproductive and unwise, as well as immoral from my POV.


January 25, 11:29 AM in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Epidemic, Schmepidemic

No big whoop, right?

An outbreak of measles that began at Disneyland before Christmas is disrupting lives in six states.

Seventy people have been diagnosed with measles, and hundreds more have been exposed at schools, doctor's offices, hospitals, shopping malls and other places visited by infected patients. Arizona became the latest state to report a case of measles related to Disneyland when a woman in her 50s was diagnosed. The outbreak has spread to Utah, Washington, Colorado, Oregon and across the border to Mexico.

Oh, maybe not:

Before the vaccine, the United States saw approximately 4 million cases of measles each year and 400 to 500 deaths. These are the stats that vaccine-deniers tend to emphasize—a relatively low number of deaths compared with the number of infections. However, those statistics alone leave out a big part of measles infections. Prevaccine, almost 48,000 people were also hospitalized each year because of measles and measles complications. One in 20 of those infected developed pneumonia. More rarely but more seriously, each year 1,000 became chronically disabled due to measles encephalitis.

Measles is not a benign disease.

I'll just note that there's an order of magnitude greater number of people in the US infected with measles than ever were with ebola.  I await calls for mandatory quarantines...


January 25, 10:16 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday Mornin'

Come and rest your bones with me...


January 25, 8:37 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Arsenal At Springfield

By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:

Were half the power, that fills the world with terror,
      Were half the wealth bestowed on camps and courts,
Given to redeem the human mind from error,
      There were no need of arsenals or forts:

The warrior's name would be a name abhorred!
      And every nation, that should lift again
Its hand against a brother, on its forehead
      Would wear forevermore the curse of Cain!

Down the dark future, through long generations,
      The echoing sounds grow fainter and then cease;
And like a bell, with solemn, sweet vibrations,
      I hear once more the voice of Christ say, "Peace!"

Peace! and no longer from its brazen portals
      The blast of War's great organ shakes the skies!
But beautiful as songs of the immortals,
      The holy melodies of love arise.

Interesting background on Longfellow's poem from NPS:

“The Arsenal at Springfield” was originally published in Graham's Magazine in May 1845; it was reprinted at the end of 1845 in The Belfry of Bruges and other Poems, a volume that technically has a copyright date of 1846. As for the poem itself, it is widely known that the poem was not Longfellow's idea. As Cecil B. Williams notes in his 1964 book, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the poet's second wife, Fanny, was "at least partly responsible" for the writing of the poem. As Williams explains, on the Longfellows' "wedding journey in 1843, they visited, among other places, the arsenal at Springfield, Massachusetts, with the result, Fanny said, that 'I urged H. to write a peace poem.'" Likewise, as Thomas Wentworth Higginson notes in his 1902 book, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Fanny sometimes "suggested subjects for poems."

Fanny was not the only inspiration for the poem, however. As Higginson notes, on the trip to the arsenal, Longfellow and his wife were also joined by "Charles Sumner, just then the especial prophet of international peace." Sumner was a noted crusader for peace, and, as George Lowell Austin notes of the poem in his 1888 book, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: His Life, His Works, His Friendships, a large influence on the poem. Austin, who had known Longfellow, recounts a conversation in which the poet told him that "The Arsenal at Springfield" "was suggested by reading Mr. Sumner's eloquent address on 'The True Grandeur of Nations.'"

As for the poem itself, critics have given it mixed reviews. Some, like Edward Wagenknecht, liked the poem. In his 1986 book, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: His Poetry and Prose, Wagenknecht calls it an "admirably constructed poem" and says that it "is perhaps Longfellow's most effective plea for peace." However, others, like Newton Arvin, in his 1855 book, Longfellow: His Life and Work, have faulted the poem somewhat. Says Arvin, the poem "is only half successful if only because the anti-war theme is developed so fully in direct rhetorical terms." Still, in the end, Arvin approves of the poem, since it "takes off from a fine image — the burnished gun-barrels at the Arsenal rising to the ceiling like the pipes of a huge and ominous organ." Many other critics have been struck by the vivid imagery of the war organ.

In 1916, during World War I, George Hamlin Fitch notes in his essay, "Longfellow: The Poet of the Household," that the poem is "an eloquent plea for peace." In addition, citing the current state of affairs in the world, Fitch says that Longfellow's verses "have special force at this time when more than half the civilized world is engaged in the most destructive war ever known." However, not all critics praised the poem. The most scathing review comes from George Saintsbury, whose 1933 essay, "Longfellow's Poems," notes that while he likes many of Longfellow's verses, he did not like "The Arsenal at Springfield." Says Saintsbury, the poem "is a piece of mere claptrap, out of harmony with some of his own most spirited work, and merely an instance of a cant common at the time."

Anywayz, Happy Shay Day!  The Springfield Armory clash killed four rebels and wounded twenty--they were defeated by one of them militias, donchano.


January 25, 7:50 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)