Saturday, January 7, 2017

Electoral College Nonsense

As I have said before our nascent democracy is in serious danger.
Separation of powers (and other constitutional concepts) is under attack. Most recently by the GOP Senate refusing to consider Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to sit on SCOTUS after Antonin Scalia died in February of last year. That nomination died when the 114th Congress adjourned sine die. Now of course the Democrats in the Senate are proposing to pay the GOP majority back by refusing to confirm any Trump attempt to fill the Scalia vacancy. Now Republic suffers from the childish antics of both parties. Their excuse for this constitutional outrage and massive dereliction of their own duty was that Obama had less than a year remaining in office and therefore he should forfeit his presidential power and I might add, his duty to nominate and appoint officers of his government for his remaining time in office because of the timing of Scalia’s death. That was one lousy syllogism. But that didn’t keep them from standing up and loudly proclaiming that they wouldn’t consider any judicial nominations the President might put forward.
This was effectively a partial coup and it was without question a violation of both the Senate’s obligation to “advise and consent” and its concomitant obligation to advise and not consent to Judge Garland’s nomination. This was an absolute abdication of its duties under the Constitution and effectively cut the President’s term almost a year prior to its natural termination on January 20th of this year. By acting in this way the GOP has increased the chances the Nation will have a judicial system that ultimately will speak out of both sides of its mouth depending on which side was the prevailing party in the Circuit.
This past year’s presidential election’s outcome was determined by an archaic system of election that the founders created in order to allegedly prevent mobs from taking over the office and certainly to further insulate the institution of slavery from being upended by their greatest fear: slave rebellions. Their fear of common un-propertied white men voting or at the helm of the ship of state was exceeded only their fear of slaves rebelling against their masters and bringing down the entire agricultural economy then in place. Now as Donald Trump serial liar prepares to take office and wreak havoc on the Republic we are seeing how that system isolates the office of President from its constituency the people of the this nation. It is absolutely past time to consign the electoral college to the trash heap of history, along with Donald Trump.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Okay. It's Over Now What?

I have not yet recovered from the fiasco of the 2016 election. I am unsure of how I feel, other than the anger I feel towards all the folks who decided to fix what they perceived is wrong with America by electing Donald to be President of the United States. I am amazed that more people rightly or wrongly voted for Mrs. Clinton than voted for Donald. Not only that but the total number of votes cast against him totaled something like 75 million. Yet he won the election by gathering 36 more votes than Hillary did in the place where it actually counts: the 50 state capitals and the District of Columbia. This is more proof that our Constitution is not a democratic document. Political movement toward making it a more democratic document has been an ongoing struggle since its adoption but it is not yet there. As proof of that I offer the fact that seventy-five million people voted for someone other than the fellow who will be inaugurated on January 20th. That really needs to be fixed.

I find it really hard to get my head around that. Donald Trump, barring the intervention of any deity actually interested in the future of the USofA, is going to become president at noon two weeks from tomorrow. All the opportunities to set aside this ‘election’ have passed. The electoral college cast its votes on December 19th and then disbanded never to be heard from again. On Tuesday last the incoming 115th House of Representatives counted the electoral votes and certified the presidential election as a done deal. The Senate took similar action with respect to Mike Pence’s election as vice president.

Since I don’t have any belief that petitioning various gods and goddesses for intervention will help us in this hour of peril we had best get our collective and individual asses in gear and start making noise and becoming part of #TheResistance or our Nation will be doomed. We are on a headlong rush off the coming cliff into the great unknown. We had better figure out a way to stop this. I mean now!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Trash Day in the Canyons

     Today is Trash Day in the Canyons. One of my neighbors had already taken their trash out by the time I started to move mine to the ‘curbside’ for pick up. Earlier this morning my cat Rupert was sitting in his window surveying his lands and the castle grounds but was clearly upset at something that had invaded his space. It was the sound of wings, big wings, flapping in the air at high speed. There was a huge crow worrying at one of my neighbors’ trash barrels.
     Later I was taking my barrels out to the road and I noticed that the crow was now joined by a comrade and they had succeeded in liberating some of the treasures in the neighbors’ barrel. What was liberated was a bag of store-bought sugar cookies. These guys had no fear of me and I was twenty feet away from them. I was scolding them. They scolded me back. So I just started watching them. They had a system. One of the crows would stand nearby to the now ripped open bag of cookies in the middle of our road while the other crow would swoop down and grab one in its maw and fly off to enjoy his treasure. When he was done he returned to the area of the cookies, relieved his comrade and stood guard while his comrade grabbed a cookie and took off. This was repeated several times until eventually they seemed to lose active interest in the cookies but still stood by guarding their treasure.
      I would suspect by the time the cookies are gone that the birds will both be dead of diabetic shock. There has to be at least one lesson there for us to heed.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

North Pole of Jupiter

NASA was created in late 1958 during the waning years of the Eisenhower Administration. The Act creating NASA was the creature of the 85th Congress which was run by Democrats. The Act was signed into law by President Eisenhower. It was a bipartisan creation, something that could never be accomplished today with the current crop of GOP-crazies in Congress. The GOP now actively supports the elimination or diminishment of our space agency and certainly seeks annually to defund it.
      Its creation was perhaps a naive expression of the USofA’s can-do attitude in its new position as the sine qua non of the victory over the Nazis and the Empire of Japan barely a decade before its creation. It turned out to be a full employment for act for geeks of every sort. Even better than that it turned out to be an incredible font of knowledge and awe at what ‘nature hath wrought.’
      This past week NASA released pictures taken by the Juno spacecraft of something we have never before seen: the north pole of Jupiter. The NASA geeks were flabbergasted.. They had no expectation that they would see the wonders photographed by Juno. This picture is dominated by blues. Those blues sharply off set the familiar reddish bands around Jupiter. It is simply stunning. I could sit in a darkened room staring at this picture and travel to the end of ends of space-time in my mind.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Willful and Persistent Ignorance

The christian church has long taught that there is no such thing as an unforgivable sin. I suspect whoever it was who handed down that doctrine never had to deal with the ignorance of anyone willfully and persistently ignorant like Mr. Trump or with his disciples. He is indeed a prideful son of a bitch.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Kiwi a Cosmic Joke

If ever there was a cosmic joke it was the creation of the kiwi bird. The kiwi is native to New Zealand and exists no where else in the world. It is functionally blind and it is nocturnal. It has no wings and it can not fly. The hens of the species ovulate once a year and the resultant egg is sometimes 40-50 percent of the body-weight of the hen. If any creature was designed not to survive in our terrarium it is the kiwi.
      The only thing the bird has going for it is that it has no natural enemies. At least it didn’t until the arrival of the British. The Brits brought their pigs with them and introduced porkers to New Zealand. Pigs are an ornery lot and lots of them escaped or were just turned loose. The pigs thought the kiwis tasted just fine and kiwis were suddenly on the diet of the pigs. The pigs taught the Brits that kiwis were indeed yummy. The population of kiwis dropped from the millions down to fewer than ten thousand in less than a century.
      I visited New Zealand a number of years ago and during that trip I went to a facility that cares for kiwis. Most of the remaining birds live in captivity. They had periodic kiwi shows. We were ushered into a large dark room with its walls painted black. There were benches in front of a large terrarium. The enclosure was lighted to resemble a moon lit night. No cameras were permitted and visitors were required to sit soundlessly on the benches watching and waiting. Finally we were rewarded by seeing a lumbering small chicken sized creature pecking around on the ground whatever they feed them. It was reddish in color. It didn’t sing or dance or do tricks. It just went and pecked at the ground and then went and hid. It was pretty boring.
      As a matter of full disclosure I have wondered many times since what one of those birds would taste like...and what kiwl-made wine would go with roasted kiwi. Finding out would probably provoke an international incident.

On Peaches and Eggs

An artist friend and neighbor stopped by a day or so ago.. He has both a peach tree and a mess of critters called chickens. They lay eggs pretty much one a day per hen almost like clock work. It apparently is one of the few things hens do, eat, poop and lay eggs. His peach tree is pretty amazing. It produces peaches and oxygen. The tree doesn’t appear to eat anything and it pretty much doesn’t poop. It isn’t quite as prolific as his hens but the peaches he brought by were really good and sweet. Well one of them was. The other two are being carefully cared for so they can be a later joy. Anyone growing up in California has to know the joy of summer time California peaches and the absolute joy of fresh peach pie on a summer eve sitting on the porch listening to frogs and crickets and nighttime song birds.. Try it. I think you will like it.
The peaches reminded me of a John Prine tune Spanish Pipedream

We blew up our TV threw away our paper
Went to the country, built us a home
Had a lot of children, fed 'em on peaches

  I started thinking about chickens and eggs. Yes I do have a lot of time on my hands. It occurs to me that from what I can gather the average hen (whatever average means) lays one egg each day until the bird croaks. Occasionally chickens will get broody and stop laying for a few days but basically it’s one a day per hen forever. If you have a little land you can build a henhouse for a couple of hens, say ten thousand or so. Over a week’s time you are going to have a whole bunch of eggs. What if you have a million hens laying eggs? In that event you are quite simply a big egg farmer and all is automated even your government subsidy is direct deposited into you bank account.

      When a chicken builds an egg the last thing it builds is the shell. During this process what becomes the shell is coated with some kind hen body-fluid. This fluid hardens around the shell and seals it from outside intruders such as pathogens. Remember the egg inside the shell is pretty much sterile. There really is no need to refrigerate a chicken egg if the coating is intact. Commercial egg farmers wash the eggs to remove the coating and bleach them so they are white (subliminal association: white = clean and pure) Because of the resultant porousness of the shell the egg now has to be kept refrigerated.
      What this quick guide to being an egg farmer really brings to mind is the degree of control over the “free market” that can be exercised by the egg farmers by manipulating the flow of eggs to the retail markets. The retailer has to move his newly perishable egg inventory while the egg farmer can sit on his stock of non perishable eggs. That gives the farmer more economic power than I care to see.