Sunday, 12/21/2014

Return Of The Sun


Axial Tilt is the reason for the season!

ntodd

December 21, 10:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Palin Is The Reason For The Season

It'd be nice if TBogg would spend more time celebrating Shakiramas than Grifterduh, but whatchagonnado:

“What we believe in is freedom of expressing our faith and what our beliefs are, not allowing just a few angry atheists with attorneys perhaps to tell us that we can’t celebrate the birth of Christ the way that we would like to,” she said. “And [her year-old book is] not an in-your-face political lecture, it’s a fun book that incorporates the solution to the challenge that is the war on Christmas that we see taking place right now.”

I have to admit that it's a real shame Christmas has been banned as the Black-Panther-Islamo-Wiccan-Atheist-Jewish Cabal forced us all to celebrate Kwanzaramasolstiyulakkuh.  Thanks a lot, Ebenezer Obama!

ntodd

December 21, 8:05 PM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

It Leaves The Whole Community Blind

Interesting role reversal: for months officers say don't condemn us for acts of few "bad apples." Now they link protests to lone attacker.

 - Wesley Lowery


Amen.  How people are responding to yesterday's horrific injustice is telling:

The killings were condemned by local, state and national officials; the families of the victims of police killings this year; as well as many of the civil rights leaders and groups that have been the most vocal in the ongoing “Black Lives Matter” protests.

“I’m standing here in sorrow about losing those two police officers,” said Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner, whose choking death at the hands of a New York officer this year, recorded on video, sparked national outrage that turned to protest when the officer was not indicted. “These two police officers lost their lives senselessly.”

But political pundits, particularly among political conservatives, and law enforcement officials, who for weeks have insisted that the demonstrations are “anti-police,” said this weekend that the attack on the two officers was a result of the tense political environment created by the protests.
...
“Today’s events are a tragedy in their own right,” the Ferguson Action statement declared. “To conflate them with the brave activism of millions of people across the country is nothing short of cheap political punditry.” 

In statements, social media postings and interviews, various protest leaders stuck a unified message when addressing the New York shootings — they stressed that the killings were tragic and unlinked to the protests, they accused the news media of glossing over the fact that the suspect first shot his former girlfriend, and they pointed to their repeated public calls advocating nonviolence.

“We’ve all said that this is a horrible thing that shouldn’t have happened,” said Charles Wade, a leading protest organizer. “I say time and time again that I’m against police violence and I’m not against police officers in general. I have an issue with improper policing, police violence and police impunity.”
...
“This wasn’t at all related to protests. This wasn’t some revolutionary act,” Cherrell Brown, an organizer who has been instrumental in the New York protests, said during an appearance on MSNBC on Sunday morning. “This was a senseless murder.”
...
On Saturday night, as angry commentators attacked him and other protest leaders on social media — suggesting they were to blame for the shootings of the New York officers — Mckesson responded with what would be the first of dozens of carefully crafted tweets. This one was retweeted more than 8,000 times.

“I do not condone the killing of the two NYPD officers today. I do not condone the killing of unarmed black people. I do not condone killing.” Mckesson wrote, adding in his next social media dispatch: “See, life is a beautiful thing. And we can live in and create a world where no one is killed.”

I saw lots of stuff about how justified the killings of Trayvon, Mike, John, Tamir, Eric, et al, from myriad people for a variety of reasons.  I'm sure there are some people saying the brutal murders of Officers Ramos and Liu are also justified, but not anybody who is dedicated to justice.

That's something the SBA and police services in general should think about...

ntodd

December 21, 6:52 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

On The Longest Night Of The Year


Let the candle burn all night...

ntodd

December 21, 6:03 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Chanukkah Is As Chanukkah Does

Just as people keep (or don't) Christmas in different ways, and the holiday's original meaning and practice has morphed, so it is with Hanukkah (whose spelling is all over the place).

Here's the NYTimes from a couple years back:

Many Americans, Jews as well as Christians, think that the legend of the long-lasting oil is the root of Hanukkah’s commemoration. And perhaps that mistake is no surprise, given that for many the holiday has morphed into “Christmas for Jews,” echoing the message of peace on earth accompanied by gift giving. In doing so, the holiday’s own message of Jewish survival and faith has been diluted.

Hanukkah is one of the most widely celebrated Jewish holidays in America. But unlike Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Passover (or even the lesser-known Sukkot and Shavuot), all of which are explicitly mentioned in the Torah, Hanukkah gets only a brief, sketchy reference in the Talmud, the voluminous collection of Jewish oral law and tradition written down hundreds of years after the Maccabees’ revolt.

There for the first time the miracle of the oil is recorded: the ancient temple in Jerusalem held an eternal flame, but after the desecration by the foreign invaders — including the sacrificing of pigs, a non-kosher animal, on the altar — only one day’s worth of purified oil remained. Yet the faithful went ahead and lighted it.

The oil burned in the rededicated temple for eight days, long enough for a new supply to arrive. Hence the practice of lighting candles for eight nights to observe Hanukkah, which means dedication in Hebrew. (Perhaps just as significantly, the reference to oil also gave rise to a holiday tradition of eating foods like potato pancakes and doughnuts that had been cooked in it.)

Though Hanukkah is a minor Jewish holiday, 19th-century activists in America promoted it to encourage their coreligionists to take pride in their heritage. During the 20th century it was embraced more broadly by Jews who wanted to fit in with other Americans celebrating the holiday season — and to make their kids feel better about not getting anything from Santa.

It helped, of course, that Hanukkah falls near Christmas on the calendar and traditionally involved candles and small monetary gifts. Over time, children began receiving grander presents, and Hanukkah-themed season’s greeting cards proliferated. Some families even started to purchase “Hanukkah bushes,” small trees often decked out with Stars of David and miniature Maccabees.

And Haaretz last year:

Sometime during the Middle Ages, it became a tradition for Jewish women to eat dairy products on the holiday in recognition of the heroism of Judith, the Jewish heroine of the Book of Judith.

Now, Judith had become associated with the Maccabees even though according to the account of the apocryphal Book of Judith itself, she lived hundreds of years before them.

At any rate, according to the story, when infiltrating the enemy camp, Judith, for reasons of kashrut, ate no meat: she confined herself to dairy products, while she ingratiated her way into the tent of the enemy general Holofernes, who she beheaded, thus saving her people from certain destruction.

In Eastern Europe, the dairy diet took the shape of eating latkes, which were cheesy pancakes. Only later in the mid-19th Century, when Russian farmers began growing potatoes, did latkes take the form of the potato pancakes that we know today.

The tradition of spinning dreidels on Hanukkah is also a product of the Middle Ages.

The dreidel was simply a gambling game, with the letters on the dreidel not denoting "nes gadol haya sham" (“A great miracle happened there”) as we say today. Rather, each letter stood for a Yiddish word having to do with the game: nun was for nicht (nothing), gimel was for ganz (all), shin was forstell ein (put in), and hei was for half (half) – which indicated what one must do after each turn. The rules are those of an earlier non-Jewish gambling game called teetotum.

The tradition of eating fried doughnuts, or sufganiyot as they are called in Israel, is an even later addition to the holiday. It first appeared attested in Morocco in the end of the 18th Century, though it is widely attributed to the father of the Rambam, Rabbi Maymon, who lived in Iberia hundreds of years earlier.

Finally, Hanukkah has always been a minor holiday in Jewish tradition. That's because while other holidays are sanctioned by the Bible and thus are seen as divinely ordained, Hanukkah is post-biblical: it was ordained by rabbis. It seems to have gained its importance in the 20th Century in the United States, mainly because it tends to coincide with Christmas. And this is how the holiday got its present shape with dreidels, latkes, sufganiyot and menorahs, and lest we forget - gifts.

Gifts used to be the reason for the season(s) in my book, but these days I'm all about the lights, especially candles.  I guess I've evolved as well...

ntodd

December 21, 4:13 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Turning Back

Yeah, I guess the cops are down on the mayor:

Believing City Hall has betrayed them, cops demonstrated their anger Saturday by turning their backs on Mayor de Blasio as he entered a Brooklyn hospital to pay his respects to two murdered officers.

A startling video shows a hallway at Woodhull Hospital filled with officers silently facing away from de Blasio as he walks a blue gantlet.

The demonstration, captured by WPIX11 News, included the presidents of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association and the Sergeants Benevolent Association.

Members of the NYPD certainly have the same rights of free speech as the rest of us, and turning one's back is an old form of renunciation and protest.  I think they're all washed up when it comes to blaming de Blasio for the situation, but fully support their peaceful acts directed at the power elite (as opposed to their wearing hateful t-shirts mocking the oppressed).

I would admonish them, however, to consider that lashing out and being on a war footing probably will not help address any of the issues they or their communities are concerned about.  The police might very well have the people they protect and serve turn their backs on them in symbolic and more tangible ways, and likely foster more violence through their denial of the real problems at hand.

ntodd

December 21, 3:08 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Everything I Learned About Immune Systems Came From Downton Abbey

Listen to him, he's pre-med:

The mainstay of treatment for symptomatic cold viruses is to suppress, not boost, our crude and clunky innate immune responses. That’s why we take fever reducers and antihistamines. Even if a natural immunity boost were possible, the very notion of this is misguided. In extreme cases, overreacting to infections can even cause changes in our vascular system, leading to sepsis and shock—our blood vessels become too flimsy in response to inflammation initiated by, you guessed it, our natural innate immune responses.

In general, extremes are bad. Too much immunity (for example, autoimmune responses) can lead to allergies, tissue damage, and even anaphylaxis. Too little immunity, say from chemotherapy or HIV/AIDS, and you're at risk of deadly infections that most people clear with ease. Our bodies have evolved toward a balance, but sometimes innate immunity is overzealous and needs curbing.

Okay, in all seriousness, people should remember Downton Season 2, Episode 8 (April 1919):

The 1918 Spanish flu that killed up to 50 million people worldwide caused a severe immune response, which may help to explain why it was so deadly, American scientists say.

The pandemic was one of the worst in recorded history and killed more people than World War I. But researchers did not understand what made it so lethal.
...
"What we think is happening is that the host's inflammatory response is being highly activated by the virus, and that response is making the virus much more damaging to the host," said Dr John Kash, of the University of Washington in Seattle, who headed the research team. "It is an overblown inflammatory response," he said in an interview...
...
The Spanish flu pandemic was caused by the H1N1 influenza strain. Unlike other flu viruses that afflict mainly the elderly and children, the 1918 pandemic struck young adults and people without immune system problems.

*sips Mucinex thoughtfully*

ntodd

December 21, 1:57 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Frosty Wind Made Moan


Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone.

ntodd

December 21, 12:44 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Where's Al Sharpton?

Right here:

We have stressed at every rally and march that anyone engaged in any violence is an enemy to the pursuit of justice for Eric Garner and Michael Brown.

Fight the real enemy: violence and injustice.  That's alway been the point, despite the divisive rhetoric from people who are invested in the status quo.

ntodd

December 21, 12:09 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Only Thing That Can Stop A Bad Guy With A Gun Is A Good Guy With A Gun

Unless President/AG/Mayor Al Sharpton suggests killer cops be held accountable, which only gives aid and comfort to cop killers.  Because killing unarmed black people doesn't inflame crazy violent people, nor do cops wearing I Can Breathe t-shirts.

ntodd

December 21, 11:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

I Guess Lithuanian Memories Are As Short As Ours

Dear Lithuania: you don't really stand a chance militarily against Russia, so you might recall your own civilian-based defense preparations during the late Soviet era.  

It wasn't that long ago, was it?  Guess I'm just old.  But I'll repeat that it's nice one of my majors is back in vogue.

ntodd

December 21, 10:22 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Dear Sol: Please Come Back

Toward the Winter Solstice:

Although the roof is just a story high,
It dizzies me a little to look down.
I lariat-twirl the cord of Christmas lights
And cast it to the weeping birch’s crown;
A dowel into which I’ve screwed a hook
Enables me to reach, lift, drape, and twine
The cord among the boughs so that the bulbs
Will accent the tree’s elegant design.

Friends, passing home from work or shopping, pause
And call up commendations or critiques.
I make adjustments. Though a potpourri
Of Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Jews, and Sikhs,
We all are conscious of the time of year;
We all enjoy its colorful displays
And keep some festival that mitigates
The dwindling warmth and compass of the days.
...

Some wonder if the star of Bethlehem
Occurred when Jupiter and Saturn crossed;
It’s comforting to look up from this roof
And feel that, while all changes, nothing’s lost,
To recollect that in antiquity
The winter solstice fell in Capricorn
And that, in the Orion Nebula,
From swirling gas, new stars are being born.

Timothy Steele.

ntodd

December 21, 9:33 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, 12/20/2014

The Night The Reindeer Died


Eat this!

ntodd

December 20, 10:31 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

In The Bleak Midwinter

On December 20, 1620, the Mayflower was bobbing in Plymouth Bay whilst the Pilgrims tried to figure out where to settle:

[W]e returned againe a ship board, with resolution the next morning to settle on some of those places, so in the morning, after we had called on God for direction, we came to this resolution, to goe presently ashore againe, and to take a better view of two places, which wee thought most fitting for vs, for we could not now take time for surther search or consideration, our victuals being much spent, especially, our Beere, and it being now the 19. of December.

After our landing and viewing of the places, so well as we could we came to a conclusion, by most voyces, to set on the maine Land, on the first place, on an high ground, where there is a great deale of Land cleared, and hath beene planted with Corne three or four yeares agoe, and there is a very sweet brooke runnes vnder the hill side, and many delicate springs of as good water as can be drunke, and where we may harbour our Shallops and Boates exceeding well...

[W]hat people inhabite here we yet know not, for as yet we haue seene none, so there we made our Randevous, and a place for some of our people about twentie, resolving in the morning to come all astiore, and to build houses, but the next morning being Thursday the 21. of December, it was stormie and wett, that we could not goe ashore...

A few days later, they declared war on Christmas.

ntodd

December 20, 9:45 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

"Awe, not comfort."

To Live in the Mercy of God:

To feel vibrate the enraptured
 
waterfall flinging itself
unabating down and down
                              to clenched fists of rock.
Swiftness of plunge,
hour after year after century,
                                                   O or Ah
uninterrupted, voice
many-stranded.
                              To breathe
spray. The smoke of it.
                              Arcs
of steelwhite foam, glissades
of fugitive jade barely perceptible. Such passion—
rage or joy?
                              Thus, not mild, not temperate,
God’s love for the world. Vast
flood of mercy
                      flung on resistance.

Denise Levertov.

ntodd

December 20, 9:02 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

It's Hammer Time


Sing unto God, and high affections raise...

ntodd

December 20, 8:14 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Zogt "Al Hanisim", Loybt Got Far Di Nisim

Time for Jesus' favorite Chanukah carol:

Oy, Chanukah, Oh Chanukah
A beautiful celebration.
Such a cheerful and happy one,
There is none like it.
Every night with the dreidels we will play,
Fresh, hot latkes we will eat endlessly.

Actually, pierogi here tonight.  It's a Slavic thing.

ntodd

December 20, 5:23 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

They Don't Care About Us


Everybody gone bad, situation, aggravation, everybody allegation...

ntodd

December 20, 10:33 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, 12/19/2014

Read The Constitution

Okay, this is after the video signoff, but HFS, what an awesome comment thread under Boner's SOTU invite:

Squinting really hard to see where there's any mention of a Speaker, let alone a required invitation for a SOTU in the Constitution.  Because, you know.  But originalists are right in decrying unconstitutional posts to Facebook...

ntodd

December 19, 10:48 PM in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Matthew 5:14


You got to stay bright...

ntodd

December 19, 10:28 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

"Indeed, He knows what is declared and what is hidden."

From the Qur'an, Surah 33:40-47, for Springfield City Councilor Bud Williams:

Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but he is the Messenger of Allah and the Last of the prophets; and Allah is cognizant of all things.

O you who believe! remember Allah, remembering frequently,

And glorify Him morning and evening.

He it is Who sends His blessings on you, and (so do) His angels, that He may bring you forth out of utter darkness into the light; and He is Merciful to the believers.

Their salutation on the day that they meet Him shall be, Peace, and He has prepared for them an honourable reward.

O Prophet! surely We have sent you as a witness, and as a bearer of good news and as a warner,

And as one inviting to Allah by His permission, and as a light-giving torch.

And give to the believers the good news that they shall have a great grace from Allah.

Just being very positive and adding to his understanding.  Never forget, man, and Merry Christmas!

ntodd

December 19, 9:45 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Damn It, Now We'll Have A Drinking Game

Fucking Boner invited Obama to give a SOTU.  I'd love it if the president simply replied he's busy since that is Date Night with Michelle, but he'll be happy to send them a copy of his address when he gets around to it.

ntodd

December 19, 8:56 PM in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Open Siddur Project

Aharon Varady writes in comments:

Researching and transcribing the Megillat Antiochus and several of its important translations was a labor of love for me. Happy you found this text at the Open Siddur Project. If you or any of your readers are interested, we're selling print copies of the Megillat Antiochus to raise money for the Open Siddur (an open-source, digital humanities project sharing Jewish liturgy and related work for the crafting and print of new siddurim and related works).

Just signal boosting.  It's good to have people doing this stuff, so throw some gelt their way if you can.

ntodd

December 19, 8:17 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Lepers And Outcasts

Not sure why, but I stared re-reading Name of the Rose recently.  And for some reason this struck me as germane today:

"The outcast lepers would like to drag everything down in their ruin. And they become all the more evil, the more you cast them out; and the more you depict them as a court of lemures who want your ruin, the more they will be outcast. Saint Francis realized this, and his first decision was to go and live among the lepers. The people of God cannot be changed until the outcasts are restored to the body."
...
“The flock is like a series of concentric circles, from the broadest range of the flock to its immediate surroundings. The lepers are a sign of exclusion in general. Saint Francis understood that. He didn't want only to help the lepers; if he had, his act would have been reduced to quite a poor and impotent act of charity. He wanted to signify something else. Have you been told about his preaching to the birds?”
...
“They were birds of prey, outcast birds, like the lepers. Francis was surely thinking of that verse of the Apocalypse that says: ‘I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together at the supper of the great God; that ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great!’ ”
...
“For centuries, as pope and emperor tore each other apart in their quarrels over power, the excluded went on living on the fringe, like lepers, of whom true lepers are only the illustration ordained by God to make us understand this wondrous parable, so that in saying ‘lepers’ we would understand ‘outcast, poor, simple, excluded, uprooted from the countryside, humiliated in the cities.’

But we did not understand; the mystery of leprosy has continued to haunt us because we have not recognized the nature of the sign. Excluded as they were from the flock, all of them were ready to hear, or to produce, every sermon that, barking back to the word of Christ, would condemn the behavior of the dogs and shepherds and would promise their punishment one day.

The powerful always realized this. The recovery of the outcasts demanded reduction of the privileges of the powerful, so the excluded who became aware of their exclusion had to be branded as heretics, whatever their doctrine. And for their part, blinded by their exclusion, they were not really inter- ested in any doctrine. This is the illusion of heresy.

Everyone is heretical, everyone is orthodox. The faith a movement proclaims doesn’t count: what counts is the hope it ofiers. All heresies are the banner of a reality, an exclusion. Scratch the heresy and you will find the leper. Every battle against heresy wants only this: to keep the leper as he is..."

Replace 'leper' with, oh, I dunno...

ntodd

December 19, 7:24 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Living By A Mythical Concept Of Time

VTDigger has a good bit about today's protest in Mount Peculiar, which made a little blip on the national radar:

Deb Richter, a longtime single payer advocate who regularly attends the Green Mountain Care Board’s meetings, tried to convince protesters that Shumlin is not their enemy.

“He’s the only governor in the country who raised this issue and put it in the forefront,” she said.

She urged them to have patience, and she says she is still optimistic Vermont will be the first state to have public universal health care, but that goal may need to achieved incrementally, as the governor indicated when he made his announcement Wednesday.

“This is like turning the Titanic,” she said, “Frankly, beating up on the governor I do not believe is really going to be helpful.”

Richter called on the protestors to take their message to the Legislature, which she said is now the most fertile ground for making progress on health reform.

“There’s a Legislature that can bring this up also, and I don’t think it would take much arm-twisting for the governor to go along with that,” Richter said.

“If they get 50 calls in every district, believe me they will bring this up,” she added.

I like Deb, have corresponded with her during the lead up to our first baby steps, and know she's wicked smart and dedicated to the cause.  I don't discount her counsel--yes, now we must ratchet pressure on the Leg, and most progress involves setbacks--but she makes an empty point about Shummy's raising the issue.  

So the fuck what?  Doesn't help us for him to use the issue over 3 election cycles only to bail 3 years before implementation.  He deserves our ire and whatever political consequences he suffers.

Shummy also needs the message so he doesn't do anything else stupid, like vetoing necessary legislation or stacking the GMCB with pro-biz Trojan horses or whatever else he can do to derail our efforts more than he has.  Being an Executive means he is a convenient focus for statewide efforts.

And now one hopes part of that focus will be more insistent challenge from the left:

The Vermont Progressive Party did not run Progressive challengers against Governor Shumlin in the last three cycles, in large part because of his unwavering promise to lead on single payer. While we are outraged by Shumlin’s broken promises, we are not terribly surprised. Progressives have long raised the same challenges Shumlin is now using as his excuses for why we can't move ahead on single payer. We have long pushed for discussions about how we can equitably fund our new system, and live up to our promise of healthcare as a human right. But rather than work through these issues or scale back the project, Shumlin decided to scrap it entirely (and with it, many Vermonters' hopes of a just and accessible healthcare system).

Governor Shumlin only seems concerned about the projected future economic burden to businesses, not the burden that working people are bearing right now. There are significant and meaningful steps Vermont can take as we transition to a fully publicly financed health system-- a system that doesn't punish working families who can't afford the high costs of health insurance premiums. We can't be afraid to examine ways to fund a more fair, more efficient, universal system of healthcare delivery (like they have in virtually every other country in the industrialized world). Vermont needs leaders who aren't afraid of having these tough conversations, who aren't too scared to stand up for what's right. We owe that to the people of our state. Anything less is a betrayal of all Vermont's working families who struggle with the costs of healthcare every day.  

It's hardly leadership to throw in the towel before doing the real hard work required to get us over the hump into a system that pays off for all.  Contrary to his fatuous assertions, the time is NOW to do this.  But perish the thought that his plutocrat constituency kick in when there are profits and mansions to be expanded.

ntodd

December 19, 5:39 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

"Dude, Jewish people don't celebrate Christmas!"


Yeah, okay, so I'm in an irreverant mood thanks to Mr Williams.

ntodd

December 19, 4:54 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Space Is 3D

This is extremely cool:

[H]ow do you email a socket wrench into space?

The story starts back in November, when Wilmore put together the ISS's very first 3D printer, a collaboration between NASA and company Made In Space. About a month later, Wilmore noted to mission control that a socket wrench would be helpful to have. Instead of putting it on the supply, however, Made In Space mocked up a quick model on CAD on Earth and emailed the design to Wilmore, who ran the designs through the printer and assembled the 20 separate parts into the exact socket wrench he had requested.

What would be cooler is teleportation, but this is a nice application of current technology. 

ntodd

December 19, 4:41 PM in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Mister Garrison Is The Reason For The Season


And Springfield City Councilor Bud Williams travels 'round the world and says Merry fuckin' Christmas to you...

ntodd

December 19, 1:06 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Jesus Fucking Christ On A Menorah

For the enlightenment of readers who aren't on Facebook:

A city official shocked onlookers Tuesday in Massachusetts with his pronouncement during a ceremony marking the start of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah.

“Jesus is the reason for the season,” said Springfield City Councilor Bud Williams.
...
Williams, who is Baptist, said he mentioned Jesus after previous speakers referenced “the bright light” from 2,000 years ago, which he took to be an allusion to the birth of Christ.

“Jesus was Jewish,” Williams said. “To me, Jesus is the messiah … I thought I was being very positive.”

“Jaws dropped,” reported the Springfield Republican, but Williams said some participants, including rabbis, thanked him for his remarks afterward.

However, none of them have commented on the record.

“I thought it added something to the service, it didn’t take away,” Williams said.

What an ignorant asshole.  Oh yes, Jesus was part of a revolt 160 years before he was born. 

Added something?  Yeah, you injected your own belief of Jesus' messianic identity into a cermony that has fuck all to do with him, for people who don't share that belief.  That does, really, take away from the service.  

It comes from the sense of entitlement certain Christians positively cling to in this "Christian" nation.  Hey, you don't mind if I tell you who to marry, what to do with your body, how best to worship under the protection of the Christian First Amendment, do you?  A bright light mentioned during the Festival of Lights?  Clearly you must mean Jesus.

As I said elsewhere, I'm sure Williams won't mind when a Muslim mentions the fact that Christ was merely one of Allah's prophets and that Muḥammad was the most perfect of His creatures at the next Midnight Christmas Service.  It's just adding to the festivities, right?

ntodd

December 19, 8:50 AM in And Fuck... | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, 12/18/2014

Aurorae


Speaking of lights...

ntodd

December 18, 9:54 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Golly, Hope Nobody Is Offended By This

I'd mentioned King's Letter from Birmingham Jail elsewhere in relationship to my earlier post.  This is one part I especially had in mind:

I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate...Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.

That just might've pissed a few people off.  Might also have enlightened a couple.  

ntodd

December 18, 9:08 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Megillat Antiokhus

From The Scroll of Antiochus:

62 [T]hey sought pure olive oil with which to light the Menorah, but they found only one little vessel sealed with the seal of the High-Priest and they knew it to be pure. And it contained but sufficient oil for one day.

63 But the God of Heaven Who caused His presence to dwell in the Sanctuary, gave His blessing and it sufficed to light the Menorah eight days.

64 Therefore did the sons of the Ḥashmonai together with the Israelites

65 ordain that these eight days be ever celebrated as days of joy and feasting along wth the festivals ordained in the Torah; that candles be lit to commemorate the victory they achieved through the God of Heaven...

You know, just to get back to basics.

ntodd

December 18, 5:16 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

I Don't Know What To Do With White People Offended By This

Seriously, I'm having a hard time understanding how ostensible allies can be offended by this article:

Over the past two weeks, I've seen good white people congratulate themselves for deleting racist friends or debating family members or performing small acts of kindness to Black people. Sometimes I think I'd prefer racist trolling to this grade of self-aggrandizement. A racist troll is easy to dismiss. He does not think decency is enough. Sometimes I think good white people expect to be rewarded for their decency. We are not like those other white people. See how enlightened and aware we are? See how we are good?

Over the past two weeks, I have fluctuated between anger and grief. I feel surrounded by Black death. What a privilege, to concern yourself with seeming good while the rest of us want to seem worthy of life.
...
We all want to believe in progress, in history that marches forward in a neat line, in transcended differences and growing acceptance, in how good the good white people have become. So we expect racism to appear, cartoonishly evil like a Disney villain. As if a racist cop is one who wakes in the morning, twirling his mustache and rubbing his hands together as he plots how to destroy black lives.

I don't think Darren Wilson or Daniel Pantaleo set out to kill Black men. I'm sure the cops who arrested my father meant well. But what good are your good intentions if they kill us?

When my friends and I discuss people we dislike, we often end our conversations with, "But he means well."

We always land here, because we want to affirm ourselves as fair, non-judgmental people who examine a person not only by what he does but also by what he intends to. After all, aren't all of us standing in the gap between who we are and who we try to be? Isn't it human to allow those we dislike—even those who harm us—a residence in this space as well?

"You know what? He means well," we say. We lean on this, and the phrase is so condescending, so cloyingly sweet, so hollow, that I'd almost rather anyone say anything else about me than how awful I am despite how good I intend to be.

Really, how much empathy do you have for people smacked down by our society's inherent racism if you can't even hear what she's saying, and fall back onto glib dismissals on the order of "all lives matter"?  Fine, you're great, now will you stop being offended--which, yes, is making it about you and comes from privilege--so we can get back to actually talking about the problems of injustice?  Jesus fuck.

ntodd

December 18, 4:47 PM in And Fuck... | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

#throwbackthursday


Chilling in the April sun back our first year together (2006).

ntodd

December 18, 8:39 AM in Family Life | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, 12/17/2014

Mankind Was My Business!


Can't find a good B&W version of Marley's scene--this looks lovely and adds depth, but I prefer the ambiguous, moody, shadowy feel of the non-colorized original.

ntodd

December 17, 10:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

I Don't Know How To Say It Other Than, "Fuck You, Governor Shumlin."

God knows you wouldn't want to ask your plutocrat drinking buddies for any coin:

In a striking reversal, Gov. Peter Shumlin on Wednesday abandoned his chief policy initiative, saying “now is not the right time” to pursue single-payer health care reform.

Shumlin dropped the political bombshell with no warning Wednesday afternoon at a crowded Statehouse press conference. He said that new cost estimates provided by his team last Friday made clear that the plan he envisioned was “just not affordable.”

Continuing to fight for single-payer when it would likely hurt Vermont’s economy, he said, “is not good for Vermont and it would not be good for true health care reform.”

Shumlin vowed to pursue more modest measures to slow the growth of health care spending, but his decision to forgo a looming battle in the legislature over how to finance his plan marks the end — for now — of a four-year effort to dramatically restructure the state’s health care system.

It also represents a major political blow to a politician who rode to the governorship on the promise of enacting the nation’s first single-payer system. As Shumlin himself said Wednesday, “This is the greatest disappointment of my political life so far.”

For some people, it's not a disappointment, but more denial of necessary services for them to live.  For some people, it's not a disappointment, but a complete betrayal.

You are not just a disappointment, but a traitor who has cynically and ignorantly undercut all our arguments for, and hard work toward, the best, most cost-effective reform that is desperately needed.  You are not just a disappointment, but clearly a huge mistake made by the voters who trusted you for several years.

I'm not just disappointed, but ready to abandon you and a Democratic party that was at least somewhat on the side of the People here in Vermont even if still way too spineless and right leaning nationally.  Go fuck yourself, loser.

ntodd

December 17, 7:59 PM in And Fuck... | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Ma'oz Tzur

Rock of Ages:

The Greeks gathered against me, in days of the Hasmoneans.
They broke down the walls of my towers, and defiled all the oils.
But from the last remaining flask a miracle was wrought for the Jews.
Therefore the sages of the day ordained these eight for songs of praise.

Deliverance has too long been delayed, and the evil days are still rollin'...

ntodd

December 17, 4:21 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Embargo Worked!

It only took 50 years, but finally we'll be able to get some non-Dominican Cohibas (well, maybe).  Relations between very old Cuban exiles and the Vatican have soured, but anything that can poke Putin and Rubio in the eye is clearly good for humanity.

ntodd

December 17, 3:59 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

This Is What Unprivilege Looks Like

The moral high ground in America: beatings and torture are fine ways to maintain the status quo, and there's no such thing as property rights if you're in the way.  But hey, it's not my fault!

ntodd

December 17, 12:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

If You Can't Take The Crucifixion, Don't Join The Roman Legion

Aggressively defensive much, tough guys?

Gabe Crocker, president of the St. Louis County police association, which opposed the Rams players' public displays, outlined the group's position in a Tuesday phone interview with TPM. While noting that local law enforcement is attempting to bridge the divides exacerbated by the Brown shooting, he said that the Rams' protest was "offensive" to members of the police community.

As for the call for discipline of the players, Crocker defended the decision.

"What's interesting is that it's the same kind rhetoric that's used against us," he said. "Why can't a police union demand that, after what it deems as misconduct, why can't it demand discipline?"

What's interesting is that when the Rams players put their hands up, they didn't kill anybody.  And police kinda work for the people calling for accountability.  Other than that, it's exactly the same.

ntodd

December 17, 10:25 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

'Tis The Season For Weird Christmas Weather Thanks To Climate Change

Whittier:

The sun that brief December day
Rose cheerless over hills of gray,
And, darkly circled, gave at noon
A sadder light than waning moon.
Slow tracing down the thickening sky
Its mute and ominous prophecy,
A portent seeming less than threat,
It sank from sight before it set.
A chill no coat, however stout,
Of homespun stuff could quite shut out,
A hard, dull bitterness of cold,
That checked, mid-vein, the circling race
Of life-blood in the sharpened face,
The coming of the snow-storm told.

A fair amount of snow on the ground right now, but there's rain in the forecast some days, sun others, and snow a cople times including perhaps on Xmas day.  I hate it when Nature can't make up its mind.

ntodd

December 17, 9:34 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, 12/16/2014

Celebrating The Birth Of A Great Light In Our Starry Firmament


Kinderman: "many aspects of the Choral Fantasy anticipate Beethoven's later setting of Schiller's text in the choral finale of the Ninth Symphony."

ntodd

December 16, 10:17 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Another NASA Coverup

There's clearly life on Mars.  They're doing it to us again.

ntodd

December 16, 9:18 PM in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Unwind Your Bloody Flag, Chelsea

Why the hell not have 2 Clintons run in the primary?

BTW Chelsea Clinton becomes constitutionally eligible for the office in February. (If you turn 35 after the general election but before the Electoral College vote are you eligible? What about after the College but before the inauguration? What if you’re from a culture that calls people “35″ during their 35th year of life? I’ve heard Germans do this. They’re not constitutionally eligible though).

I'd say if you're the requisite age upon inauguration, you're eligible.  I'll also note that Bush I is still eligible for another term since he lost to Clinton I.  It's like a Shakespearean thing at this point:

King Pepin, which deposed Childeric,
Did, as heir general, being descended
Of Blithild, which was daughter to King Clothair,
Make claim and title to the crown of France.
Hugh Capet also, who usurped the crown
Of Charles the duke of Lorraine, sole heir male
Of the true line and stock of Charles the Great,
To find his title with some shows of truth,
'Through, in pure truth, it was corrupt and naught,
Convey'd himself as heir to the Lady Lingare,
Daughter to Charlemain, who was the son
To Lewis the emperor, and Lewis the son
Of Charles the Great. Also King Lewis the Tenth,
Who was sole heir to the usurper Capet,
Could not keep quiet in his conscience,
Wearing the crown of France, till satisfied
That fair Queen Isabel, his grandmother,
Was lineal of the Lady Ermengare,
Daughter to Charles the foresaid duke of Lorraine:
By the which marriage the line of Charles the Great
Was re-united to the crown of France.
So that, as clear as is the summer's sun.

King Pepin's grandfather died on this date in 714.  I think.  Whatever, all this incestuous political stuff is confusing and a bit annoying.  Not at all clear as the summer's sun (which is why Olivier's version is funny).

ntodd

December 16, 8:06 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Worst Court Decision Since Marbury Or Dred Scott

Oh, since this is the judicial activism that conservatives whine about:

A federal judge in Pennsylvania ruled on Tuesday that President Barack Obama's recentexecutive actions on immigration are unconstitutional.

"The Court holds that the Executive Action is unconstitutional because it violates the separation of powers and the Take Care Clause of the Constitution," wrote U.S. District Judge Arthur J. Schwab, who was appointed by George W. Bush.

Schwab determined that Obama's actions — which pave the way for three-year work permits for more than 4.4 million people (those brought to the U.S. as children and undocumented parents of American citizens) — were illegal because they permit "substantive rights" for "broad categories" of individuals.
...
Schwab wrote in his ruling that Obama was legislating. "Congress's lawmaking power is not subject to Presidential supervision or control," he wrote. "Perceived or actual Congressional inaction does not endow legislative power with the Executive."

The case concerns a Honduran man who was arrested and detained by the Department of Homeland Security for re-entering the U.S. illegally after he was removed. The case is about "arguably unequal and arbitrary immigration enforcement" in the U.S., the judge wrote, noting that he moved to consider Obama's executive action out of concern for whether it "would impact the sentencing of this Defendant."

Yeah, well, quite a reach to attack a constitutional question not actually brought up by the case.  And briefly for now, I'll just cough and say, "Chaney and Arizona."  Oh, but if the new superfiscallyresponsible GOP Congress wants to fully fund the removal of 11.5M undocumented aliens, rather than the 400k that's possible annually, they're welcome to try.

ntodd

December 16, 6:33 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

"Justice is a right that every American should have."

The Browns' WR, Andrew Hawkins, responds:

I utterly respect and appreciate every police officer that protects and serves all of us with honesty, integrity and the right way. And I don’t think those kind of officers should be offended by what I did...

I’m not an activist, in any way, shape or form. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred I keep my opinions to myself on most matters. I worked extremely hard to build and keep my reputation especially here in Ohio, and by most accounts I’ve done a solid job of decently building a good name. Before I made the decision to wear the T-shirt, I understood I was putting that reputation in jeopardy to some of those people who wouldn’t necessarily agree with my perspective. I understood there was going to be backlash, and that scared me, honestly. But deep down I felt like it was the right thing to do. If I was to run away from what I felt in my soul was the right thing to do, that would make me a coward, and I can’t live with that. God wouldn’t be able to put me where I am today, as far as I’ve come in life, if I was a coward.

[My 2-year-old little boy] is my entire world. And the No. 1 reason for me wearing the T-shirt was the thought of what happened to Tamir Rice happening to my little Austin scares the living hell out of me. And my heart was broken for the parents of Tamir and John Crawford knowing they had to live that nightmare of a reality...

[T]his is America, everyone has the right to their first amendment rights. Those who support me, I appreciate your support. But at the same time, support the causes and the people and the injustices that you feel strongly about. Stand up for them. Speak up for them. No matter what it is because that’s what America’s about and that’s what this country was founded on.

A fight for justice anywhere is a fight for justice everywhere.  Even on the football field.

ntodd

December 16, 5:44 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

O, Ir Kleyne Likhtelekh

You do indeed have tales to tell:

Oh little candles, 
your old stories 
awaken my anguish; 
deep in my heart there stirs 
a tearful question: 
What will be next?

I was going to kick off the Festival of Lights with Isaiah 60:19, but this fit my mood better...

ntodd

December 16, 4:50 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

If It's Good Enough For The Bloody Christ

Who would Jesus torture?  Whomever the fuck he wants, that's who.  And he knows from torture.

ntodd

December 16, 12:34 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Still Working On My Third Cup Of Joe Myself

The Tea that bainfull weed is arrived. Great and I hope Effectual opposition has been made to the landing of it. 

 - Abigail Adams to Mercy Otis Warren, December 5, 1773


Time to revisit a classic FB meme that bugged the crap out of me last year:

So I have to ask once again: have none of these motherfuckers actually read the Declaration of Independence beyond its preamble?  There were 27 (TWENTY-FUCKING-SEVEN) grievances enumerated, 1 (ONE) of which was "imposing Taxes on us without our Consent" about 17 (SEVENTEEN) from the top.

Anyway, I'll be a little charitable on the 2% increase claim, though I don't find it convincing.  It's all a little muddy, but it appears to me that the Townshend Revenue Act reduced the tea tax essentially from 12 cents (4 shillings) to 3 cents (well, pence) per pound of tea (weight, not sterling).  The original principle at stake was Parliament's assertion of the right to tax Colonies at all--it was now to be actually collected and spent in America--but once all the other taxes were repealed, revolutionary ardour cooled a bit.

With the Tea Act, however, Colonials were really pissed about giving the East India Company a goddamned monopoly and corporate tax break.  Here's John Dickinson, writing as RusticusNovember 27, 1773:

Are we...to be given up to the Disposal of the East-India Company, who have now the Assurance to step forth in Aid of the Minister, to execute his Plan of enslaving America?

Their conduct in Asia, for some Years past, has given ample Proof, how little they regard the Laws of Nations, the Rights, Liberties, or Lives of Meu. They have levied War, excited Rebellions, dethroned lawful Princes, and sacrificed Millions for the Sake of Gain. The Revenues of mighty Kingdoms have centered in their Coffers. And these not being sufficient to glut their Avarice, they have, by the most unparalleled Barbarities, Extortions and Monopolies, stripped the miserable Inhabitants of their Property, and reduced whole Provinces to Indigence and Ruin.

Fifteen hundred Thousand, it is said, perished by Famine in one Year, not because the Earth denied its Fruits, but this Company and its Servants engrossed all the Necessaries of Life, and set them at so high a Rate, that the Poor could not purchase them. Thus having drained the Sources of that immense Wealth, which they have for several Years past been accustomed to amass, and squander away on their Lusts, and in corrupting their Country, they now, it seems, cast their Eyes on America, as a new Theatre, whereon to exercise their Talents of Rapine, Oppression and Cruelty.

The Monopoly of Tea, is, I dare say, but a small Part of the Plan they have formed to strip us of our Property. But thank GOD, we are not Sea Poys, nor Marattas, but British Subjects, who are born to Liberty, who know its Worth, and who prize it high. We are engaged in a mighty Struggle. The Cause is of the utmost Importance, and the Determination of it will fix our Condition as Slaves or Freemen.

It is not the paltry Sum of Three-Pence which is now demanded, but the Principle upon which it is demanded, that we are contending against. Before we pay any Thing, let us see whether we have any Thing we can call our own to pay. [JD's emph.]

So it wasn't the extremely small tax that angered Colonials, but rather a variety of other issues: that old saw, "no taxation without representation"; the revenues being used to pay salaries of colonial officials, taking away accountability from the People; a huge government loan and corporate tax break for EIC, undercutting American smuggle...um, traders; etc.  I mean, really, if the Framers were against taxation, would they have codified Congress' plenary power to tax in the Constitution?  And, of course, the Tea Act effectively REDUCED the price of tea for Americans, who were also taxed less overall than subjects in England, but whatever.

Since we're talking tea, we have to look at the British East India Company's role in this passion play.  Chartered in 1600, EIC was essentially the commercial and colonial arm of England, who at the time wasn't powerful or rich enough yet to dominate the world on its own.  By 1757, EIC had won the Battle of Plassey, which essentially marked the beginning of the company's and country's Indian empire.  

None other than Adam Smith held the company in rather low regard:

[A] company of merchants are, it seems, incapable of considering themselves as sovereigns, even after they have become such...It is the interest of the East India company, considered as sovereigns, that the European goods which are carried to their Indian dominions should be sold there as cheap as possible; and that the Indian goods which are brought from thence should bring there as good a price, or should be sold there as dear as possible. But the reverse of this is their interest as merchants. As sovereigns, their interest is exactly the same with that of the country which they govern. As merchants their interest is directly opposite to that interest.

It appears his treatise (and Dickinson's) was informed by the Bengal Famine of several years earlier, caused in large part by EIC's mismanagement.  As he notes later:

Negligence and profusion, therefore, must always prevail, more or less, in the management of the affairs of such a company. It is upon this account that joint stock companies for foreign trade have seldom been able to maintain the competition against private adventurers. They have, accordingly, very seldom succeeded without an exclusive privilege, and frequently have not succeeded with one. Without an exclusive privilege they have commonly mismanaged the trade. With an exclusive privilege they have both mismanaged and confined it.

Even with a monopoly, EIC was sucking wind.  They had over 17.5M pounds of tea sitting around (my back of the napkin estimate is 2-3 times more than England and America consumed annually, but I have no exact source) in 1773, thanks to foreign competition.  The company also was heavily in debt (1.3M Pounds), including to the British government, for a variety of reasons.

So they turned to drug running and getting the aforementioned tax break.  On the latter, we'll let one of the real tea partiers summarize:

While the inhabitants of Boston and the British colonies were thus exquisitively sensible to whatever they deemed hostile to their rights, resenting with equal indignation the most trivial as the most serious attack a resolution was taken in England, which if executed, would have given the victory to the government, and reduced the Americans to the condition to which they had such an extreme repugnance.

Their obstinacy in refusing to pay the duty on tea, rendered the smuggling of it an object, and was frequently practiced, and their resolutions against using it, although observed by many with little fidelity, had greatly diminished the importation into the colonies of this commodity. Meanwhile an immense quantity of it was accumulated in the warehouses of the East India Company in England.

This company petitioned the king to surpress the duty of three pence per pound upon its introduction into America, and to continue the six pence upon its exportation from the ports of England ; such a measure would have given the government an advantage of three pence per pound, and relieved the Americans from a law they abhorred. But the government would not consent, as they were more solicitous about the right than the measure.

The company, however, received permission to transport tea, free of all duty, from Great Britain to America, and to introduce it there on paying a duty of three pence.

This angered folks enough that they did a little dumping of tea in the harbor.  That act of defiance was actually a demonstration against corporatism.  

So about that.  John Adams' recorded the event in his journal the next day (December 17, 1773):

Last Night 3 Cargoes of Bohea Tea were emptied into the Sea. This Morning a Man of War sails.
 
This is the most magnificent Movement of all. There is a Dignity, a Majesty, a Sublimity, in this last Effort of the Patriots, that I greatly admire. The People should never rise, without doing something to be remembered -- something notable And striking. This Destruction of the Tea is so bold, so daring, so firm, intrepid and inflexible, and it must have so important Consequences, and so lasting, that I cant but consider it as an Epocha in History.

But why'd they dress as Mohwaks?  Bruce E. Johansen on explains:

As the tea symbolised imported British oppression and taxation without representation, the Indian symbolised its antithesis – a 'trademark' of an emerging American identity, and a voice for liberty, against British oppression. The Indian symbol (particularly the Mohawk) appeared not only at Boston's tea party, but also at anti-tea protests the length of the seaboard. Through the pre-revolutionary years, the American Indian, to the colonists becoming Americans, symbolised a sense of liberty and independence, as well as American-ness, which appeared in many forms of propaganda, from songs, to slogans, to political engravings, which served the purpose of modern editorial cartoons.

Paul Revere, whose 'midnight ride' became legend in the hands of Longfellow, played a crucial role in forging this sense of American identity, contributing to the revolutionary cause a series of remarkable political engravings which cast an Indian woman as the symbol of a nation being born, long before Brother Jonathan or Uncle Sam came along. Revere was far from being alone in this regard. The image of the Indian as a symbol of liberation and American identity fits finely the popular conception of the time that America's native people had much to teach Europeans on both sides of the Atlantic. In the pre-revolutionary years, in its most graphic form, the Indian again became a counterpoint to European political tyranny and class stratification.
...
The Indian as a symbol of an oppressed America made its debut along with the earliest agitation against British taxation. In a cartoon titled 'The Great Financier, or British Economy for the Years 1763, 1764, 1765', George Grenville, First Lord of the Admiralty, holds a balance, while a subordinate loads it with rubbish. William Pitt, the Prime Minister, leans on a crutch as an Indian (representing America) groans, on one knee, under the burden of Grenville's taxes. In the earliest engravings, America is enduring the pain of taxation. Later, the Indians of revolutionary propaganda would take the offensive, shooting bows and arrows at their oppressors, a prelude to armed rebellion by the colonists themselves.

Symbols are powerful and important.  This one worked so well that there were actually a number of other such parties.  F'rinstance, there was one in Annapolis back in October of '74, when the Peggy Stewart was burned:

In the summer of 1774, Thomas Charles Williams, the London representative of an Annapolis merchant firm, tried to smuggle tea across the Atlantic into Annapolis by disguising nearly a ton of it in 17 packages labeled as linen, and loading it among the rest of the cargo on the brig Peggy Stewart. The captain of the brig, Richard Jackson, only discovered the true nature of the "linen" while at sea. A few years before, an Annapolis precedent had been set when its customs officer refused to allow any ships to unload any portion of their cargo until the tax on all of it had been paid. This now alarmed Captain Jackson because most of the rest of the Peggy Stewart's cargo consisted of 53 indentured servants.

The ship reached Annapolis on October 14, 1774, and Williams's business partners decided they wanted nothing to do with his attempt at smuggling. They could not think of risking the lives of the indentured servants by sending the ship back across the Atlantic during the storm season which had just begun. They paid the customs tax due and quickly got the human cargo ashore, leaving the tea onboard. The presence of tea aboard ship had inflamed public opinion in Annapolis. Williams and his business partners were threatened with lynching; their store and their homes, with destruction. To avoid that, the business partners offered to burn the Peggy Stewart, which they owned, along with its cargo, which they did, on the night of October 19. This came to be called the Annapolis Tea Party. The city of Annapolis marks this each year with a ceremony.

And beyond these very real acts of property destruction (which people condemning Ferguson protesters should recall), Colonials started changing their drinking habits. John Adams again:

I believe I forgot to tell you one Anecdote: When I first came to this House it was late in the Afternoon, and I had ridden 35 miles at least. "Madam" said I to Mrs. Huston, "is it lawfull for a weary Traveller to refresh himself with a Dish of Tea provided it has been honestly smuggled, or paid no Duties?"

"No sir, said she, we have renounced all Tea in this Place. I cant make Tea, but He make you Coffee." Accordingly I have drank Coffee every Afternoon since, and have borne it very well. Tea must be universally renounced. I must be weaned, and the sooner, the better.

His saucy wife:

You must know that there is a great Scarcity of Sugar and Coffe, articles which the Female part of the State are very loth to give up, expecially whilst they consider the Scarcity occasiond by the merchants having secreted a large Quantity. There has been much rout and Noise in the Town for several weeks. Some Stores had been opend by a number of people and the Coffe and Sugar carried into the Market and dealt out by pounds.

It was rumourd that an eminent, wealthy, stingy Merchant (who is a Batchelor) had a Hogshead of Coffe in his Store which he refused to sell to the committee under 6 shillings per pound. A Number of Females some say a hundred, some say more assembled with a cart and trucks, marchd down to the Ware House and demanded the keys, which he refused to deliver, upon which one of them seazd him by his Neck and tossd him into the cart. Upon his finding no Quarter he deliverd the keys, when they tipd up the cart and dischargd him, then opend the Warehouse, Hoisted out the Coffe themselves, put it into the trucks and drove off.

It was reported that he had a Spanking among them, but this I believe was not true. A large concourse of Men stood amazd silent Spectators of the whole transaction.

Thus we have a great beverage divide between our two countries to this day.  Now skip ahead a few years, and it seems that Gouverneur Morris was on target during the Constitutional Convention:

The Rich will strive to establish their dominion & enslave the rest. They always did. They always will...

A firm Governt. alone can protect our liberties. He fears the influence of the rich. They will have the same effect here as elsewhere if we do not by such a Govt. keep them within their proper sphere. 

We should remember that the people never act from reason alone. The Rich will take advantage of their passions & make these the instruments for oppressing them. The Result of the Contest will be a violent aristocracy, or a more violent despotism. The schemes of the Rich will be favored by the extent of the Country.

How does a firm government protect our liberties?  Through things like regulationtaxesproviding services and responding to the will of the People rather than business concerns.  Sadly, the rich, like...say, the Waltons have convinced poor people that government alone is a threat to their liberties.  

As one participant (Plough Jogger, perhaps a pseudonymous homage to John Adams?) said in a protest convention back in 1780:

The great men are going to get all we have and I think it is time for us to rise and put a stop to it...

Indeed.

*sips coffee thoughtfully*

ntodd

December 16, 11:07 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, 12/15/2014

Taking A Walk


The people far below are sleeping as we fly into the Festival of Lights...

ntodd

December 15, 10:13 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)