Morning Widdershinners! Wow, where to start? So much swirling in the news it’s like trying to coronate the King of Flatulence after a soup bean feast. There’s been good news for libruls – upholding the ACA, upholding the redrawing of congressional districts by citizen panels, upholding the prohibitions against housing discrimination, and of course, bringing equality to marriage.
There was even cause for celebration amongst conservatives by the end of the week. First, there was the news that states can continue experimenting with ways to kill people while they look for a suitable drug to keep the occupancy rate of death chambers reasonably high. Then, as if that wasn’t enough, there was word that industry smokestacks can continue to belch out lethal mercury, sulfur dioxide, and other poisons into the air we breathe. No expert am I, but it seems there’s a great opportunity for some synergy in these two bits of news.
So instead of dwelling on the news, let’s “reflesh” some history this morning. I say “reflesh” since time has a way of stripping away the meat of events and leaving us with nothing more than sketchy skeletons of things past. And when I say the past, I mean forever, like the past thirty-five years. The wisdom of Mark Twain, “Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please,” seems to have been turned on its head over the last thirty-five years. Facts have become afterthoughts replaced with gossamer fairy tales spun from the selective recall of pie-eyed partisans who ride unicorns and trade credit default derivatives.
Before every public building, every airport, every road, and all currency bear the name or likeness of Ronald Reagan, we should remind ourselves of some wickedly pesky facts. Little reminders of the era like the Iran-Contra scandal, the squandering of $130 Billion to bail out politically connected savings and loans in what was, relatively speaking, a bigger bailout than George W. Bush’s TARP, the weakening of the EPA, across the board deregulation, mind-bending increases in defense spending, “welfare queens and young bucks”, ketchup as a vegetable, and most importantly, deficits fueled by tax cuts under the guise of the trickle down economics fantasy – the ultimate political slogan masquerading as an economic theory.
It is this era where the groundwork was laid for the gutting of the middle class with flat or receding wages while the one-percenters embarked on a thirty-five year bonanza – the likes of which haven’t been seen since the Gilded Age.
To bring this written séance of things past full circle to the events of the last week, there’s an ambulatory herpetic reminder of the Reagan era – none other than one, Antonin Scalia. Just like a drug resistant strain of herpes, since 1986 Scalia has been a recurring reminder of the folly of the Reagan era.
Scalia was appointed to the seat of William Rehnquist when Rehnquist was elevated to Chief Justice. Scalia, a disciple of Robert Bork who was barred from the Supreme Court by a bipartisan coalition of Democrats and Republicans, believes in originalism. In the mid-1970s, like worthless toadstools after a spring rain, originalism sprang from the fertile minds of Bork, Scalia, and a handful of others – all enterprising conservatives hawking a solution in search of a problem. Virtually unheard of before the mid-1970s, originalism is Scalia’s preferred method of circular reasoning.
The best way to describe originalism is this: Words forever have the meanings they had at the time of their effectuation. Per Scalia’s thinking, the words of the Constitution mean today what a reasonable person believed they meant in 1788. Conveniently, with no one still around from 1788 it is Scalia, as a robed lexicographer, who gets to determine what that reasonable meaning was and is. Like so many things from the Reagan era, when the practical effect of the logic is weighed, you discover a corpulent thumb on the scales.
To lay bear the folly of Scalia’s beliefs, so prevalent and political in last week’s opinions, here’s a little exercise to disprove his theory that words are fixed, unchanging purveyors of the concepts they represent. Read this paragraph:
Stringz of letterz r efforts to express meaningful propositions in an intelligible whey. To succeed does not require the youse of any rite series of words and, in fact, a sntnce fll of gibberish cn B prfctly comprehensible and meaningful 2 an intelligent reader. To understand a phrse or paragraf or an entire txt rekwires the use of human understanding and contextual infrmation not just a dctionry.
Since Marbury v. Madison established judicial review in 1803, words have been nothing more than guideposts pointing the way toward understanding. As intelligent readers, you grasped the meaning of the “paragraf” above and you know words have no traction outside contextual and experiential understanding. The learning here is a simple one: Words have consequences whether they are lessening discrimination, promoting equality or unfortunately, approving a smorgasbord of execution drugs.
Thirty years is a long time to suffer the foolishness of such gibberish and jiggery-pokery from a Supreme Court Justice. So the next time you see a Reagan monument, make sure you’re reminded of his gift that just keeps on giving – an Oompa Loompa in a black robe answering to the name Antonin.
Have a great day and your opinions on any subject are encouraged and will be appreciated.
Good morning, Widdershins. I have been conspicuous by my absence of late, and I wish that I could say that things are all better. Family issues have taken up much of my time, and will likely continue to do so until early August. I will be around as much as possible until that time.
My congratulations to he Rainbow Widdershins. Obergefell v. Hodges is the judicial equivalent of Loving v. Virginia and Roe v. Wade. The ruling more or less applies the Full Faith and Credit of one state’s decision to another. Now, stand back and watch for the ensuing fallout.
As a nation, we do not accept change easily or well. The African-American march to equality really began in 1941 when President Roosevelt issued Executive Order Number 8802 which accepted African Americans into job training programs, forbade discrimination, and created the Fair Employment Practices Committee. The military itself remained segregated until President Truman issued Executive Order Number 9981 in 1948:
It is hereby declared to be the policy of the President that there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion or national origin. This policy shall be put into effect as rapidly as possible, having due regard to the time required to effectuate any necessary changes without impairing efficiency or morale.
“Due time” took some time to effect, and Secretary of the Army Kenneth Claiborne Royall was a casualty. Truman relieved him in 1949 for his refusal to comply. Actually, it took until 1954 to completely desegregate the military. Housing, schools, and the last all-black units disappeared in 1954, the same year that Brown v. The Board was handed down by SCOTUS. Subsequently, the de jure segregaion of the Southern schools was struck down over the next decade, but as de facto segregation was not covered by the decision, the Northern schools took well into the Seventies to fully desegregate. Four decades later, what do we have to show for it? This:
NEW YORK — The nation’s most segregated schools aren’t in the deep south — they’re in New York, according to a report released Tuesday by the University of California, Los Angeles’ Civil Rights Project.
That means that in 2009, black and Latino students in New York “had the highest concentration in intensely-segregated public schools,” in which white students made up less than 10 percent of enrollment and “the lowest exposure to white students,” wrote John Kucsera, a UCLA researcher, and Gary Orfield, a UCLA professor and the project’s director. “For several decades, the state has been more segregated for blacks than any Southern state, though the South has a much higher percent of African American students,” the authors wrote. The report, “New York State’s Extreme School Segregation,” looked at 60 years of data up to 2010, from various demographics and other research.
There’s also a high level of “double segregation,” Orfield said in an interview, as students are increasingly isolated not only by race, but also by income: the typical black or Latino student in New York state attends a school with twice as many low-income students as their white peers. That concentration of poverty brings schools disadvantages that mixed-income schools often lack: health issues, mobile populations, entrenched violence and teachers who come from the least selective training programs. “They don’t train kids to work in a society that’s diverse by race and class,” he said. “There’s a systematically unequal set of demands on those schools.”
At least it’s not “double secret segregation”. Not now, anyhow.
As for the women’s movement, we have also made great strides. From the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920, to Griswald v. Connecticut in 1965, to Roe v. Wade in 1973, we have come a long way, baby. We have gone from being “quota’ed” into flagship universities to being the majority on campus at a number of them. We are now free to apply to professional schools with impunity. The only problem is that the last ten years has been a steady erosion of our hard-earned rights, and the ability to control our reproductive systems is the basis of our ability to do many other things. Seems as though we are marching backwards into time, and I’m growing more and more uncomfortable with things. I remember the days when BCP were as illegal as abortions, and the world was not a better place for this. I also remember the pitifully few women physicians being pushed int0 pediatrics and obstetrics, and women who chose the law as a career being offered employment as secretaries rather than as attorneys. These are not warm, fuzzy trips down memory lane.
So, my gay friends, enjoy the days. You have scored one hell of a big win here with the SCOTUS decision, and it seems that corporate America has your back as well as evidenced by the response to the Indiana mess. But if you blink, you may find it all slipping away.
This is an open thread.
Hiya and howdy Widdershinners. It’s the weekend and as usual we will be surveying some of the weird and wacky. But if I may…
An exercise I’ve always found enlightening is this one: Tell me how you spend your time and I can tell you who you are. During the last week:
The Democratic Party celebrated 6.5 million Americans continuing to have access to health care, celebrated the continued protection of Americans from housing discrimination, and celebrated the human dignity of same-sex families.
The Republican Party fretted about if, when, and how to remove a symbol of immoral and ignoble segregation haunting state capitols.
Yeah, that really happened.
Now to the nonsense you have come to expect from me on the weekends. Many thanks to the compilers of such mishegas.
What did we do before we became laboratory monkeys responding to click baiting? I’ll tell you what we ought to have been doing – fearing cows more than bears, fearing high school sports more than terrorists, fearing Disney World more than alligators, and fearing bad handwriting more than Ebola. Hard to believe, but each of these fears are real and lethal, but if you see a Guernsey in a football helmet signing autographs at Epcot – be afraid, very afraid.
How Noble Can He Be
In the course of a Medicare fraud investigation, it was learned that a Dallas-area doctor Noble U. Ezukanma, 56, billed the government for 205 hours’ work in one day. It was October 16, 2012. Now, how much work did you get done that day?
A Washington Post blog entry briefly reviewed the new edition of Routledge International Handbook of Ignorance Studies. The reviewer’s conclusion: “The realm of ignorance is so vast that no one volume can fully cover it.” Agreed.
The law of turkey-baster insemination took a turn in Virginia in April when mother Joyce Bruce was unable to keep sperm-provider Robert Boardwine out of her son’s life. Bruce relied on a state statute that seemed to allow her sole parenthood if the pregnancy was based on assisted-reproduction medical technology. However, the Court of Appeals of Virginia declared that a “kitchen implement” is not “medical technology” and, considering Boardwine’s genuine interest in fatherhood, ruled that he was entitled to joint custody and visitation rights. No word on the fate of the turkey-baster, but just in case, don’t buy one at a yard sale.
Not that Tennessee is simple or anything, but after nine months, at a cost of $46,000, here is what was created. Created is too grand a term, here is what the Post Office suggests as Tennessee’s postal abbreviation plopped in a red square sitting on a blue line. Critics were underwhelmed. The consultants countered with, “We were aiming for simple.” They got what they paid for because it was so simple, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejected it.
In January 1976, NBC Television unveiled a stylized red-and-blue trapezoidal ‘N’. NBC paid a design firm close to $1 million (in 1976 dollars) to develop the artwork, but within days NBC learned that the Nebraska Educational Television Network had been using an almost identical logo for half a year. Two differences: (1) NETV’s logo was entirely red; and (2) NETV had only paid $100 for the design. NETV’s lawyers were soon in contact with NBC over the issue of trademark infringement. The result was that NBC agreed to pay NETV over $555,000 for the rights to the design, as well as $25,000 so that NETV could create itself a new logo. “Ding, ding, dong” – we thought you should know.
No, Whitesboro, New York, is not celebrating the throttling of Native Americans or at least that is the story. This scene is said to have taken place in 1784, when a Judge Hugh White, the founder of the village, engaged in a “friendly wrestling match” with a local Oneida Indian. This seal has been redesigned, but it still looks like a white guy choking an Indian. An epic fail in redesign, but Little Bighorn pretty much evened it up.
In 1986, the University of Kentucky debuted a new logo for the Wildcats. Eight years later, eight years, not 8 hours, 8 weeks, or 8 months, but EIGHT years later there were complaints that the Wildcat’s rolled tongue looked too much like a penis. The logo was redesigned as a testament to the empowerment of sex education.
Perpetrators or “perps” as Barney Fife and Rudy Giuliani would call them, are frequently on the run. While on the run, they unintentionally reveal their whereabouts because of their need to show off on social media. Christopher Wallace (not that Chris Wallace) reached legendary status as the “Show-Off King in the Land of the Stupid” with this demonstration. Wallace was being sought in connection with a burglary, so he went to his home in Fairfield, Maine — and promptly posted on Snapchat that that’s where he was. Police arrived and during their search happened to notice a brand-new Snapchat post from Wallace. Wallace conveniently wrote that the police were in his home right then searching for him, but that he was ever so cunningly hiding in a cabinet. The police promptly opened the cabinet wherein Wallace in an incredulous tone asked, “How’d you find me?”
That’s a wrap for the day my friends. Have a great weekend and all your opinions are highly encouraged on any subject you deem worthy.
Good morning Widdershinners — a happy Friday to you.
Just an amuse bouche via video for your entertainment today. Enjoy Chelsea’s Mom and pay particular attention to the lyrics. You might want to look at your nearest shampoo bottle for guidance, then — listen, enjoy, and repeat!
Your thoughts on any subject are highly encouraged.
Sadly, the horrors of the massacre at Mother Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston were numbing. It’s an all too routine occurrence in the country these days. This time it was nine people in a church as opposed to a school with twenty first-graders and their teachers.
Remarkably, it looks as if the northern Virginia battle flag will be withdrawn from the capitol grounds of South Carolina. The swiftness of this action is unprecedented. What is even more exceptional is that it took something this horrific for everyone to take a breath, realize the undeniable racist symbolism, and unshackle themselves from the lies told to justify the hatefulness.
It is remarkably sad that this is what it took to bring people to the point of just listening to facts — facts that haven’t changed in 53 years. In 1962, the battle flag of Virginia found its way to the South Carolina statehouse after segregationists took it as their symbol of open rebellion against civil rights. In this instance, the Stars and Bars had little to do with Civil War heritage – other than being a continuing subterfuge of tacit racism.
It took nine good people dying to spur a simple conversation based upon irrefutable facts – facts heretofore unacceptable and unspoken because they fell outside preconceived opinions. If this is a lesson from the Mother Emmanuel massacre, wouldn’t it be extraordinary if it was a lesson capable of being applied to other divisive issues? For instance:
What if people took a moment and considered that the Second Amendment did not guarantee any individual gun rights until the case of District of Columbia v. Heller? What if there was a realization such an interpretation of the Second Amendment was considered laughable prior to 1977 and only after the NRA was taken over by cabal of gun manufacturers did such an interpretation gain traction? There has never been a historical “right to bear arms” only an unflinching greed to sell more guns. A greed not constitutionally sanctioned until 2008.
Or what if people took a breath and realized abortion did not magically appear in 1973 by virtue of Roe v. Wade, but existed as a right from the beginnings of the country. Under English common law, legal medical assistance was available for pregnancy termination until the time of quickening (first perceptible fetal movement usually at about four months). Our incorporation of English common law formed the basis of our legal system and with it, the right to abortion services.
Or what if people were disabused of the notion that the biblical definition of marriage is synonymous with only opposite sex marriage? As recorded, the biblical definition of marriage was in constant flux – from polygamy to taking the wife of a dead brother to forcing a rape victim to marry her rapist to prohibition of interracial or interdenominational marriages and that’s only a few variations of sanctioned biblical marriage. “Traditional marriage” is merely the latest incarnation of a constantly changing cultural practice with same-sex marriage being far from the most shocking installment along its evolutionary trail.
A little self-reflection would go a long way for everyone no matter what their political leanings might be. Just think what would happen if Texans had to drive 550 miles, both ways, to exercise their “constitutional right” to buy a firearm — the equivalency of what a Texan woman must do now to exercise her constitutional right to access legal abortion health services? Just think what would happen if older Americans, incapable of childbearing, were denied marriage licenses under the same logic used to bolster opposition to same-sex marriage?
Just think of the progress we could make if everyone would stop, take a breath, listen, and consider irrefutable facts before rushing to distort them in favor of baseless opinions. It’s sad that nine people had to die at Bible study to remind us of something so remarkably simple.
Take the conversation in any direction you might want to explore today.
Good Monday, all! As you have most likely heard, the Internets have been abuzz with the strange story of Rachel Dolezal, formerly leader of the Spokane, Washington chapter of the NAACP, who has been outed as a white woman passing for black. In the past several days, she has first denied being white; then when her parents showed pictures of her as a blonde, freckled teenager, claimed to be “transracial” as Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner is transgender. Now, Ms. Dolezal has floated the idea that she may not be her parents’ biological child…a claim that appears to be based more on wishful thinking than reality, if her brother is to be believed.
Rachel Dolezal, the embattled ex-NAACP chapter president accused of lying about being black, insisted this past week on national television she is not white, saying she had no proof she is her parents biological child.
“I haven’t had a DNA test,” she said NBC Nightly News. “There’s been no biological proof that Larry and Ruthanne [Dolezal] are my biological parents.”
Ezra Dolezal, Rachel’s adopted biracial brother, challenges her to take the test.
“She’s obviously related to my parents and she says she’s not, she should get a DNA test, that would definitely prove it,” he tells PEOPLE. “I don’t why she keeps saying it.”
I don’t know either, but it clearly means a lot to Dolezal to identify as black. I recently read a thoughtful piece by Chris Jones in the Chicago Tribune, in which the topic of racial identity being potentially selective is interestingly framed in the context of Caitlyn Jenner, Donald Trump’s declaration of his candidacy for President, and the horrible attack in South Carolina. As Jones wrote,
…[W]e all live in a historical context, and our actions and desires are always read in terms of what others are doing. That’s not to say that the legitimacy of role-playing isn’t complicated — even many of those who fully supported and admired Jenner’s right to make a bold splash as a woman were aware that she had not chosen to depict herself as something close to what most transgender people experience. She was not photographed as herself — she was photographed as a retro icon, not as a woman, but as the image of a Hollywood star. That was a constructed piece of role-playing regardless of the gender of the subject.
Was that just Jenner seizing her own brand, which is wise for us all? Who does not want to be photographed with glamour? And why not serve as a role model? But some saw malevolence in the big-media machine, the creation of a marketable figure from which the authentic was airbrushed in favor of a new character, a siren with appeal for the voyeuristic.
That is the problem, of course, with the media saturation of these so-called controversies: However authentic or inauthentic the original impulse, the argument becomes moot. There is money to be made either way. No doubt Dolezal is already fielding many offers of representation — book contracts, reality shows, personal appearances, all surely are in the offing. Will that make the life of her African-American children better? Who is to say?
I wish I knew what motivated Dolezal’s actions. Who knows, maybe ten years from now a lot of people will come out as “transracial,” but for now, she’s caused quite a furor.
What do you think about this? This is an open thread.
For this weekend’s exercise in mindlessness, here are some stories for your enjoyment. As always, I’m grateful to the compilers of News of the Weird and the Weird Universe. Warning: This post contains an unedited Brazilian-Germanic name that some readers might find offensive. I apologize in advance.
Mark Gubin lives in Milwaukee. For 27 years he has had a “Welcome to Cleveland” sign painted on his roof. Passengers on flights arriving at Milwaukee’s Mitchell International Airport are often disconcerted and sometimes panicked by the sign, but it’s all in good fun according to Gubin. He says, “Living in the world is not a dress rehearsal. You better have fun with it.” I want to be a friend of Mr. Gubin.
With the NBA season finally over, rent the luxurious lane…
Apartment buyers in ridiculously expensive Hong Kong are now eagerly paying up to the equivalent of $500,000 (US) for units not much bigger than a U.S. parking space. Typically you can physically self-measure the apartments by your own wing-span. An agent told the Wall Street Journal this month that standard furniture does not fit in these units and that having guests over requires sitting on the window sill. The Journal pointed out a typical “mosquito” apartment unit in Hong Kong is 180 square feet, much, much smaller than the 304 square feet of a basketball court’s “lane” subject to a “3-second” violation. A government lottery in Hong Kong for subsidized housing units rewards barely one of every one-hundred applicants.
It’s always who you know…
According to a Radio Free Europe dispatch, some jihadists who have traveled to Syria to join ISIS have been complaining of late. Their complaints center on being unable to secure work as “martyrs” because of discrimination by previously recruited and tenured fighters. One “pro-ISIS” cleric said they “are so fed up with the long waiting lists in Syria that they end up heading to Iraq, where the lists are shorter.” One new budding martyr jihadist said, “Saudis are controlling the suicide rosters in the Syrian theater and won’t let anyone in. They always allow their relatives to go to the front of the line.”
It was an awkward moment for Corey Huddleston, 52, of Dickson, Tennessee. He had apparently taken a fancy to a local teenage girl. According to police, to advance his intentions he knocked on her family’s front door, then pushed his way in, asked for cigarettes and beer, “touched himself” inappropriately, asked about the girl, and then reluctantly bid everyone adieu. However, he cleverly went around to a back window of a darkened bedroom, climbed inside, and fondled a sleeping figure in bed, whom he assumed was the girl. To put a punctuation on what was already a big night in Dickson, the sleeping figure was not the girl, but the girl’s father. The fondled father later confessed that he called the police only after resisting the impulse to kill Huddleston. It should be noted that Mr. Huddleston is quite accomplished since his police rap sheet shows more than one-hundred charges. Nobody likes a quitter.
In other Tennessee news, notwithstanding anything you might have seen in the movies, stealing a two-hundred pound floor model safe is a very low-return crime. This sage wisdom was lost on three pals in Kingsport, Tennessee. After struggling to load the safe into a car’s trunk and accidentally shattering the back window, they drove to one of the three’s apartment. Even though it was the middle of the night, police were called when neighbors saw the safe being dragged across a parking lot. Highly trained in evidence collection, the police followed the gouge marks left by the safe in the parking lot and on the sidewalks leading straight to the apartment where the safe had been taken. When the officers were admitted to the apartment, there was the unopened safe in the middle of the kitchen. According to the police here is the way the conversation went:
Police: Why do you gentlemen have a safe?
Perps: We found it in an alley and thought we would bring it home.
Police then opened the safe. It was empty.
Some International News…
Adultery is fine in Japan (despite laws against it), if it is done with a “business purpose”, or so ruled the Tokyo District Court. Specifically this ruling dealt with a night club lady who used repeated sexual acts to butter up good customers. The businessman’s wife promptly found out that her husband’s bread had been “buttered up” for seven years. She had no idea how good a customer he was.
The Indian Journal of Dermatology announced in April that it was withdrawing a recent scientific paper written by a dentist. The paper was entitled, “Development of a Guideline to Approach Plagiarism in Indian Scenarios.” The paper was pulled because major parts of it had been plagiarized.
A good friend of mine is an accomplished industrial psychologist – highly degreed and published many times over. He and I have laughed often and much about things that would cause the exact, same response in a fourteen year-old boy. He wisely says, “Males never socially mature much over the age of fourteen, we just learn how to manage it.” With that said, here are some news items my inner fourteen year-old finds giggle-worthy.
Richard Langtry became a little over-enthusiastic during a day of team building and decided to give his employee, Michael Peacock, a friendly male-bonding tug. A subsequent lawsuit alleges, “Langtry then grabbed Peacock’s left testicle, squeezed it hard, and pulled it down as if to rip it from his groin.” Peacock is now one dangly short, and is suing everyone even remotely associated with this day of emasculating team building.
Artist Mark Sturkenboom has come up with a remarkable new remembrance device for one’s dear departed, if the departed is a male. Sturkenboom wants to put the “boom, boom” in remembering so he has devised a dildo that holds 21 grams of cremated ashes. To cover its most practical use, it comes accessorized by a necklace and a music player (I find that amazing in and of itself). “After passing,” Sturkenboom explained, “the missing of intimacy” is “one aspect of the pain and grief.” This remembrance can be purchased even if your husband wasn’t named Dick.
The English Plymouth Herald reports that the Tavistock Town Council hastily changed the wording in March of its help-wanted ad seeking a general maintenance person. In local jargon, a general maintenance person is known as a “hand”, thus, it was not wise for Tavistock to continue to advertise an offer of a “general hand job.”
A Brazilian student-athlete enrolled at Medicine Hat (Alberta) College and promptly announced he would play the next basketball season under his real Brazilian-German name. His given name is Guilherme Carbagiale Fuck (which he insists is pronounced foo-kay and means “fox” in German). It is unclear whether or not his excellent ball handling will come to be known euphemistically as “Fucking”.
Have a great weekend. Take the conversation in any direction you might like to explore.