Dick Cheney's Mentor
Another Fast For Slow Justice
A few days ago I committed to my first fast in a couple years:
I pledge to join the global hunger strike and actions for justice for Guantanamo prisoners by fasting for at least 24 hours.
I acknowledge that I will never know what it is like to hunger strike under conditions as inhumane as those within Guantanamo, but hereby join the global hunger strike in hopes that it, among a variety of other efforts, will provide an impetus for policy change.
I call on President Obama to release the 86 prisoners who have been cleared for release, formally charge and try the remaining prisoners in fair and open proceedings, and close the shameful prison in Guantanamo -- as he promised to do when he ran for office.
Usual caveats about effectiveness, expectations, the need for escalating, strategic action, etc.
Anyway, I'm going to enjoy our regular meal with Papa tomorrow night, then not break my fast until Monday morning. Not a long one, but I need to show solidarity with the victims of our immoral policies down in Cuba as well as my Pink sisters and brothers, plus it's always something that breaks up the mundane routines of a comfortable life and realigns perspective.
For those of you who remember my old 198 Sundays feature at Pax, which highlighted a different Method of nonviolent action each week, this would be an example of the "lowest" level of the tactic: the fast of moral pressure. Compare and contrast to the hunger strikes going on to our south, and Gandhi's satyagrahic form.
First They Came For The Forms
So the more info that comes to light, the more it seems people are pissed that the IRS did its job, albet to a lesser extent than it could/should to enforce the law. But, you know, questionnaires are an essential element of fascism...
One Could Argue He's 2/5s Correct
I agree with my esteemed colleague from Virginia.
- Founding Father, John Quincy Adams (age 9)
“Rev. [Charles Wallace] Smith must not have understood the 3/5ths clause was an anti-slavery amendment. Its purpose was to limit the voting power of slave holding states,” Jackson, an African-American, said in his statement.
Indeed, and the General Welfare clause was pro-slavery. Everybody knows that.
This is a deeply misleading telling of American constitutional history.
The inclusion of the clause greatly enhanced the South’s political power and made it harder to abolish slavery.
Understatement of the last 10 score years.
Freedom ain't free, so take 600k lives out of petty cash (a few million in bondage notwithstanding)! And the liberty to remain willfully ignorant? Priceless...
Here Comes The Rain Again
Punching Peter: An Oklahoman Treatise On The Bankrupting Of Man's Conscience
To robbe Petyr & geve it Poule, it were non almesse but gret synne.
- From Jacob's Well (1450)
Yeah, what Betty Cracker said:
It’s no surprise that Coburn is a liar and a hypocrite: That’s what we expect from politicians. It’s what our grandparents expected, and their grandparents too.
But what does seem somewhat novel — to me, at least — is the brazen callousness in today’s breed of Republicans, a rigid orthodoxy combined with a rich man’s insulation from trouble that renders them utterly indifferent to the fate of others, even those who look like them and share their origins and cultural pretensions.
People like Coburn and Tea Partiers forget that an essential part of the American experience has been pulling together to help people hurt by disasters or otherwise. And we have always done so with the help of our Federal government's unique ability to draw upon national resources through its power to tax and spend money to promote the general welfare.
Punching Peter--by taking away his SNAP benefits or what have you--to pay for Paul's disaster relief is un-American.
The time to hesitate is through
Disaster Porn Redux
This is all I've got to say about the big tornado. Oh, and Coburn can bite me.
Indeed, Because The IRS Shoots So Many People
“You know, thank goodness that the IRS was not around to have helped the Founders when they founded the country or otherwise they would have probably shot the Boston Tea Party participants, they would have killed off over half of the signers of the Declaration of the Independence,” Gohmert added.
Speaking Of The Moon
As even most elementary-school graduates know, the moon reflects the light of the sun but produces no light of its own.
But don't tell that to the good people of Waco, who were "visibly angered by what some perceived as irreverence," according to the Waco Tribune.
Nye was in town to participate in McLennan Community College's Distinguished Lecture Series. He gave two lectures on such unfunny and adult topics as global warming, Mars exploration, and energy consumption.
But nothing got people as riled as when he brought up Genesis 1:16, which reads: "God made two great lights -- the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars."
The lesser light, he pointed out, is not a light at all, but only a reflector.
At this point, several people in the audience stormed out in fury. One woman yelled "We believe in God!" and left with three children, thus ensuring that people across America would read about the incident and conclude that Waco is as nutty as they'd always suspected.
Like God couldn't make a lesser light out of a fucking reflector, or stars that are actually other suns, far away...
In Other Words
Rocket Science Isn't Rocket Science Or A Facebook Meme
Once the rockets are up, who cares where they come down. That's not my department.
If NASA thought going to the moon were as simple as "rocket goes up, up, up!" we'd never have gotten there. Some things are actually complex.
It's not super easy. Yet it's obviously not impossible to get to the moon (or beyond) if we put our minds to solving each problem one by one, put all the steps together ahead of time and write 'em on checklists, practice, execute. We did it. With 1960s technology.
So I sometimes say, "even rocket science isn't rocket science." In other words, even difficult, complicated things, often represented by ROCKET SCIENCE, aren't really all that bad when you get down to it. Many steps, not something you bang out in an evening over a few beers, but achievable. Still, something that takes some real thought and appreciation for all the components that have to work together.
Now, it's pretty funny to ask, "If they can put man on the moon, why can't they invent a parking meter that can make change of a dollar bill!?" Juxtapose something apparently miraculous, magical, with something that seems so easy. Low hanging, humorous fruit. And, of course, they can do those simple things, if there's any margin in it.
Or we ask different questions like, "why don't we use some sort of smart meter technology that can read a wireless ID in your car and debit your account?" Or something. We figure stuff out. It's not undoable, just takes doing.
Which brings me to why, as much as I love social media, I really detest Facebook memes. Instead of putting a bit of neural energy toward an issue, just boil that down to fit on a bumpersticker or picture of a famous person and VOILA! You have an "argument" that "proves" your "point."
But it doesn't. 9 times out of 10, it's a misattributed quotation, an oversimplification, some bad paraphrase. Or flat out factually inaccurate. The latest is Umbrellagate.
HAHAHA! Obama is so uppit...er, entitled, he thinks he's better than an Anglo-Saxon Queen! LOL!!!!eleven!!11!
We have so much information and context at our fingertips today. 30 seconds of googling can unearth pretty much everything you need to know about something. Yet we're so busy data collecting that we stop as soon as we find an item that agrees with our preconceived, boiled down notions, and miss the forest for a single convenient tree.
Quite frankly, it's amazing we got to the moon at all. And I wonder if we ever will again when we can't be bothered to put a little more effort toward defending our policy positions and beliefs.
Like and share if you agree!
Mel's Char Palace
Happy birthday, Seth Warner:
Immediately after the commencement of the Revolutionary War, [Ethan] Allen and Warner became primarily conspicuous among the Green Mountain Boys (as settlers in that region denominated themselves), who were as ready to seize the musket in defence of American liberty as were any in the regularly organized colonies, and, indeed, were the very first to assail His Majesty's forces, in the surprise and capture of Ticonderoga, led by Allen, and seconded by Warner; and Crown Point, the next fortress held by the British arms, was on the following day taken by Warner, to whom that honor was conceded by the other officers engaged in that affair.
Both Allen and Warner were made colonels by the self-assumed authority of the occupants of what now constitutes the State of Vermont, and were recognized as such by the army, soon after those events, destined by Congress for the invasion of Canada, and as partisan officers did good service therein. Allen's career was, however, short, he being made prisoner in a rash attempt to surprise Montreal during the progress of the siege of St. John's, by Gen. Montgomery, and sent in irons to England to be tried as a traitor.
But Warner, who was as much distinguished for cool courage as Allen was for impetuosity, continued throughout that and the two succeeding campaigns to render excellent service its a partisan commander, in many of those conflicts between small parties on each side which are not particularized in the history of the war —and not only so, but for the part he acted in some truly celebrated conflicts.
Appropriately enough, Warner was head of Warner's Regiment, an "extra-continental" regiment (one of several not directly attached to a particular state) established by Congress on July 5, 1776. All part of the "Vermont Question" wherein Congress had to dance around the issue of New York's claim on our territory.
Why Hasn't Obama Been Impeached Yet?
When will he just get a BJ and be done with it?
Keep comin up with funky ass shit like every single day
Clear And Present Danger
Conservative activist Tom Zawistowski, the former president of the Ohio Liberty Coalition, compared the Obama administration's ongoing IRS scandal to Nazi Germany during an appearance Thursday afternoon on Fox News.
Zawistowski appeared on Neil Cavuto's show to say that he believed his group was among those targeted by the IRS. He said it took two-and-a-half years for his organization's tax-exempt status to be approved.
After describing the delay as "onerous intrusive and politically motivated", Zawistowski, called the responses he received from the IRS as "frightening".
"This is unbelievable. This is Nazi Germany," he said.
If there's one thing Hitler was really good at, it was taking a long time to process tax-exempt applications. Truly, the mark of absolute fascist dictatorship run horribly amok with its jackboots stomping on the throat of freedom-loving patriotic liberty.
Anyway, if you want real tyranny in the USA, consider the Sedition Amendments to the Espionage Act of 1917, upheld by SCOTUS, 7-2. Holmes dissented (along with Brandeis):
I do not doubt for a moment that by the same reasoning that would justify punishing persuasion to murder, the United States constitutionally may punish speech that produces or is intended to produce a clear and imminent danger that it will bring about forthwith certain substantive evils that the United States constitutionally may seek to prevent. The power undoubtedly is greater in time of war than in time of peace because war opens dangers that do not exist at other times.
But as against dangers peculiar to war, as against others, the principle of the right to free speech is always the same. It is only the present danger of immediate evil or an intent to bring it about that warrants Congress in setting a limit to the expression of opinion where private rights are not concerned.
Persecution for the expression of opinions seems to me perfectly logical. If you have no doubt of your premises or your power and want a certain result with all your heart you naturally express your wishes in law and sweep away all opposition. To allow opposition by speech seems to indicate that you think the speech impotent, as when a man says that he has squared the circle, or that you do not care whole heartedly for the result, or that you doubt either your power or your premises.
But when men have realized that time has upset many fighting faiths, they may come to believe even more than they believe the very foundations of their own conduct that the ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas-that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market, and that truth is the only ground upon which their wishes safely can be carried out. That at any rate is the theory of our Constitution. It is an experiment, as all life is an experiment.
Every year if not every day we have to wager our salvation upon some prophecy based upon imperfect knowledge. While that experiment is part of our system I think that we should be eternally vigilant against attempts to check the expression of opinions that we loathe and believe to be fraught with death, unless they so imminently threaten immediate interference with the lawful and pressing purposes of the law that an immediate check is required to save the country.
Only the emergency that makes it immediately dangerous to leave the correction of evil counsels to time warrants making any exception to the sweeping command, 'Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech.'
Douglas concurred in Brandenburg several decades later (making an allusion to Holmes whilst defending greater speech protection):
One's beliefs have long been thought to be sanctuaries which government could not invade...The line between what is permissible and not subject to control and what may be made impermissible and subject to regulation is the line between ideas and overt acts.
The example usually given by those who would punish speech is the case of one who falsely shouts fire in a crowded theatre.
This is, however, a classic case where speech is brigaded with action...They are indeed inseparable and a prosecution can be launched for the overt acts actually caused. Apart from rare instances of that kind, speech is, I think, immune from prosecution. Certainly there is no constitutional line between advocacy of abstract ideas as in Yates and advocacy of political action as in Scales. The quality of advocacy turns on the depth of the conviction; and government has no power to invade that sanctuary of belief and conscience.
Being thrown in jail for dissent is tyranny. Delays in application processing is what you should expect from bureaucracy (lemme tell you how long disability filings take, both with the government and for-profit corporations). A little perspective, please...
Billion Year Old Carbon
Some Coincidences In Space And Time
Ne frusta vixisse vidar ("May I not seemed to have lived in vain").
- Tycho Brahe's last words to Johannes Kepler
I noted in March that Kepler discovered his 3rd law on almost the same date that his namesake space observatory was launched. Now, on THIS date, he reconfirmed his discovery (after noticing some calculation errors), and we also receive some not-so-good news about the Kepler spacecraft:
At our semi-weekly contact on Tuesday, May 14, 2013, we found the Kepler spacecraft once again in safe mode. As was the case earlier this month, this was a Thruster-Controlled Safe Mode. The root cause is not yet known, however the proximate cause appears to be an attitude error. The spacecraft was oriented with the solar panels facing the sun, slowly spinning about the sun-line. The communication link comes and goes as the spacecraft spins.
We attempted to return to reaction wheel control as the spacecraft rotated into communication, and commanded a stop rotation. Initially, it appeared that all three wheels responded and that rotation had been successfully stopped, but reaction wheel 4 remained at full torque while the spin rate dropped to zero. This is a clear indication that there has been an internal failure within the reaction wheel, likely a structural failure of the wheel bearing. The spacecraft was then transitioned back to Thruster-Controlled Safe Mode.
The spacecraft is stable and safe, if still burning fuel. Our fuel budget is sufficient that we can take due caution while we finish our planning. In its current mode, our fuel will last for several months. Point Rest State would extend that period to years.
With the failure of a second reaction wheel, it's unlikely that the spacecraft will be able to return to the high pointing accuracy that enables its high-precision photometry. However, no decision has been made to end data collection.
Kepler had successfully completed its primary three-and-a-half year mission and entered an extended mission phase in November 2012.
Even if data collection were to end, the mission has substantial quantities of data on the ground yet to be fully analyzed, and the string of scientific discoveries is expected to continue for years to come.
All good things must come to an end, I guess. And this mission was certainly not in vain...
Actually, Mr Kokesh, That's Not Entirely Accurate
Kokesh answered the Washington Post through a series of text messages:
Suppose the D.C. police, as they have promised, block the marchers from crossing into Washington? How should they respond?
“With Satyagraha,” Kokesh, 31, texted The Washington Post. That is a term used by Mahatma Gandhi to describe his strategy of nonviolent resistance to British rule in India. [...]
Did his response of “satyagraha” mean violence is unacceptable?
“Only if absolutely necessary in defense of life or limb,” he wrote.
'tis true that Gandhi did not absolutely rule out violence as a tool, but in a very limited context:
I have...not hesitated to say that it is better to be violent if there is violence in our breasts than to put on the cloak of non-violence to cover impotence. Violence is any day preferable to impotence. There is hope for a violent man to become non-violent. There is no such hope for the impotent.
Satyagraha is a weapon of the strong; it admits of no violence under any circumstance whatever; and it ever insists upon truth.
If you wish to wrap yourself in the trappings of Gandhian satyagraha, I recommend understanding it a little better...
The Final Countdown
Securing The Blessings Of Liberty Takes Compromise
[FN1]Monday May 14th 1787 was the day fixed for the meeting of the deputies in Convention for revising the federal system of Government. On that day a small number only had assembled. Seven States were not convened till, Friday 25 of May...
Mr. ROBERT MORRIS informed the members assembled that by the instruction & in behalf, of the deputation of Pena. he proposed George Washington Esqr. late Commander in chief for president of the Convention.
[FN5] Mr. JNo. RUTLIDGE seconded the motion; expressing his confidence that the choice would be unanimous, and observing that the presence of Genl. Washington forbade any observations on the occasion which might otherwise be proper. General WASHINGTON was accordingly unanimously elected by ballot, and conducted to the Chair by Mr. R. Morris and Mr. Rutlidge; from which in a very emphatic manner he thanked the Convention for the honor they had conferred on him, reminded them of the novelty of the scene of business in which he was to act, lamented his want of better qualifications, and claimed the indulgence of the House towards the involuntary errors which his inexperience might occasion.
[FN6][The nomination came with particular grace from Penna. as Docr. Franklin alone could have been thought of as a competitor. The Docr. was himself to have made the nomination of General Washington, but the state of the weather and of his health confined him to his house.]
What's instructive to me is that we had a completely broken government (The Articles) and people from different regions and ideologies who really disagreed on a lot of fundamental shit somehow compromised enough to form a more perfect Union. Would that certain folks in Congress today would reflect on that...
Before Chicken Little Looked Up At The Skylab
The first human inhabitants took up residence aboard the International Space Station (ISS) in 2000. Since then, the ISS has been home to many resident crews who have performed fantastic research in the microgravity of Earth orbit. But none of this would have been possible without America's first space station: Skylab.
From its launch on May 14, 1973, until the return of its third and final crew on Feb. 8, 1974, the Skylab program proved that humans can live and work in outer space for extended periods of time.
Pete Conrad, Paul Weitz and Joe Kerwin spent 28 days in orbit as the first crew of Skylab. The second crew--Alan Bean, Jack Lousma and Owen Garriott--spent 59 days in space. The final Skylab crew spent 84 days in space and consisted of Jerry Carr, Bill Pogue and Edward Gibson. Each Skylab crew set new spaceflight duration records. The record set by the final crew was not broken by an American astronaut until the Shuttle-Mir program more than 20 years later.
Skylab served as the greatest solar observatory of its time, a microgravity lab, a medical lab, an Earth-observing facility, and, most importantly, a home away from home for its residents. The program also led to new technologies. Special showers, toilets, sleeping bags, exercise equipment and kitchen facilities were designed to function in microgravity.
I thought of this last night as I paused my binge viewing of Babylon 5 to watch Expedition 35 and Commander Oddity land in the territory of our former Cold War and space adversaries. I wasn't entirely aware of Skylab during its actual operation--I only vaguely knew there was any space activity since I was born just after Armstrong's leap--but I sure do remember when it crashed into Australia.
And today I reflect on how far we've come in geopolitical and technological terms. With the retirement of the creaky STS, we rely on Russia to get us up to and down from a shared station, which just had a Canadian astronaut in charge, strumming his guitar. And I show all this to my son on the NASA channel via the Internet, first deployed the year I was born and we landed on the moon.
If that isn't magic, I don't know what is. The sky might be falling down all around us, but we've done some amazing things, and if we will it, we can do so again.
"Blood, toil, tears, and sweat..."
Where's The There?