Wednesday, August 31, 2022

The Light We Cannot See












We have just returned from a visit to McCall Idaho.  There is a wonderful lodge there that sits on the confluence of the southern shore of  Payette Lake and the Payette River.  The river makes its way to the south there, creating several other large lakes as well as the often rafted river gorge with its class five rapids.  The Lake is an ancient 600 feet deep glacial lake with pristine snow melt water that is clear enough to see perhaps 30 feet down.  For a week, I did little more than stare at the lake with its 8,000 foot mountains on its northern shore from our room or the sandy beach just below.

The light there is magnificent.  The bright sand, the blue water, the green pine forest, the clear aired light blue sky with all manner of clouds hanging over it all.  It's like looking at the ocean, except you are a mile high and the waves lap instead of roar.

We had friends with us who we gladly shared our time with.

One night, we talked about the Pulitzer prize winning book,  All the Light We Cannot See.  Besides being one of the great titles of all time, some reviewers opine that it is one of the best historical fictions of our time. This from its Amazon page:

Written by Anthony Doerr, the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning author of Cloud Cuckoo Land, All the Light We Cannot See is a beautiful, stunningly ambitious instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

Marie-Laure lives in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where her father works. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

In a mining town in Germany, Werner Pfennig, an orphan, grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find that brings them news and stories from places they have never seen or imagined. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments and is enlisted to use his talent to track down the resistance. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another.

Doerr’s “stunning sense of physical detail and gorgeous metaphors”
are dazzling. Ten years in the writing,  All the Light We Cannot See is a magnificent, deeply moving novel from a writer “whose sentences never fail to thrill”.

The book was a winner of the Pulitzer Prize, a New York Times Book Review Top Ten Book, and a National Book Award Finalist.  And it should soon also be available as a 4 part series on Netflix this year. 

But what does the title mean?   It's a reference first and foremost to all the light we literally cannot see: that is, the wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum that are beyond the ability of human eyes to detect (radio waves, of course, being the most relevant to the plot of the book).

But for me, the title is more ethereal than that. 

For as I have written in Lightland and Beyond,  we literally do not see light at all.  All the light we cannot see is the creation itself.  For we only see where the light has been.  Look up into the dark night sky to see for yourself.  Space is full of light, yet we see mostly darkness with our eyes.  And this distinction is not just some semantic trick.

In the Greek creation of the Cosmos as described in the Theogony,  Hesiod asks the Muses to reveal to him which came into being first and the answer was the Void.  Out of the Void came darkness and black night. Out of Night came Light and Day.  Even in the Hebrew version of the creation... darkness is first. 

But the point is this.

Most of us do not see Light.  

We see Day.  

For light cannot be seen without matter, and as sure as matter reveals light, it also creates shadow or the Night. In Doerr's masterful work, Marie-Laure LeBlanc evacuates Paris with her father after he is entrusted with a valuable diamond named the Sea of Flames. It represents the human desire for power and control.

And in this dark night of political ignorance,

All the light we cannot see will win the day.


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Sunday, July 31, 2022

The October Surprise












Remember the ERA? It was the Equal Rights Amendment and it almost passed to become part of our Constitution more than 40 years ago.  It's pretty straightforward.

"SECTION 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

"SEC. 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

"SEC. 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification."

From the Congressional Research Service:

"The power to amend the Constitution is established in Article V. Article V empowers Congress to propose an amendment when two-thirds of both chambers deem it necessary or on the application of two-thirds of the state legislatures to call a convention for proposing an amendment.  

A proposed amendment becomes part of the Constitution when ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the states or by conventions in three-fourths of the states. Following ratification by three-fourths of the states, the Archivist of the United States, pursuant to 1 U.S.C. § 106b, is to identify the ratifying states, publish the amendment, and certify that the amendment has become part of the Constitution.

By the fall of 1977, 35 states had ratified the ERA, three fewer than the 38 needed for adoption. H. J. Res. 638 was introduced in October 1977 to extend the ERAs ratification deadline until June 30, 1982. Representative Elizabeth Holtzman, the joint resolutions sponsor, indicated that the extension would provide an insurance policy to assure that the deadline will not arbitrarily end all debate on the ERA. H.J. Res. 638 passed the House and Senate in 1978, but no additional states ratified the ERA before the June 30, 1982, deadline.  

However, Nevada ratified the ERA in 2017, and Illinois ratified the amendment in 2018. Virginia became the 38th state to ratify the ERA in 2020.

After Virginia ratified the ERA, supporters of the amendment moved for its inclusion in the Constitution, as it had been ratified arguably in accordance with Article V by three-fourths of the states. The Archivist declined to certify the ERA, however, relying on an opinion by the Department of Justices Office of Legal Counsel, which concluded that the amendments original ratification deadline had expired and that the amendment was not properly before the states when approved by Virginia, Nevada, and Illinois.  

In January 2020, Virginia, Nevada, and Illinois filed a complaint in federal district court seeking relief that would have ordered the Archivist to publish and certify the ERA as part of the Constitution under 1 U.S.C. § 106b. In Virginia v. Ferriero, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed the lawsuit, primarily on its conclusion that the states lacked standing to invoke the courts jurisdiction."


The Supremes decide to violate the spirit of the ERA only a year after it finally receives the ratification of the 38th state, thus qualifying it to be part of our Constitution

Apparently they did. 

But there's more:

Virginia, Illinois, and Nevada filed an appeal of Ferriero with the D.C. Circuit in May 2021. In February 2022, the court granted Virginias motion to be dismissed as a party in the case. Currently, Illinois and Nevada are continuing with the appeal, and oral argument before the D.C. Circuit has yet to be scheduled.

But there's still more:

Between 1973 and 1978, five statesIdaho, Kentucky, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Tennesseepassed legislation to rescind their prior ratification of the ERA.

Legislation to revive consideration of the ERA has been introduced steadily since the 1982 deadline. These measures have generally assumed two approaches. One approach involves restarting the ratification process with a new joint resolution. H. J. Res. 28, for example, proposes a new constitutional amendment relative to equal rights for men and women. If passed by the House and Senate, the amendment would be presented to the states for ratification.

A second approach contemplates the continued vitality of the 35 state ratifications completed before the ERAs original ratification deadline. H. J. Res. 17 provides that notwithstanding any time limit contained in House Joint Resolution 208, 92d Congress, as agreed to in the Senate on March 22, 1972, the article of amendment proposed to the States in that joint resolution shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the United States Constitution whenever ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States.  

Is there another third approach? 

Could the President instruct the Archivist to adopt the amendment?

Could he simply appoint an Archivist who will?

The ERA would be the first amendment added to the Constitution in nearly 30 years and the most significant since the Twenty-Sixth Amendment lowered the voting age to 18 more than a half century ago. The Twenty-Seventh Amendment, ratified in 1992, affected only the 535 members of the House and Senate, mandating that congressional salary increases not take effect until after the next election. 

The ERA, by contrast, would confer a new constitutional protection to every American citizen that, unlike current state and federal anti-discrimination laws, would not be vulnerable to the whims of whichever party wields power at a given time. 

Might make a good October surprise




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Thursday, June 30, 2022

We Dissent

Most of us were not surprised this week when the United States Extreme Court formally ruled to take women's rights away with the aid of three new injustices appointed by an unfit president who won with the aid of foreign power even after tape was released in which the candidate spoke of grabbing women by the pussy.  When someone tells you who they are, believe them.

And we were not surprised when this new extreme court ruled that  New York's 105 year old gun law was found to be unconstitutional.  Sure took them a while.

Nor were we surprised when our 15th century Taliban band of black robes decided that a clearly delegated EPA cannot set standards to protect us from the  ravages of climate change.

But I was somehow surprised that they would allow a football coach to hold a prayer service on public land on the 50 yard line after the game. In all fairness, I don't blame him for praying, his win/loss record is abysmal. It's the public land thing that violates the constitution.

Here is what the court minority representing a super majority of citizens said of the Roe ruling:

“We cannot understand how anyone can be confident that today’s opinion will be the last of its kind,” the liberals wrote.

And the three justices took a sharp swipe at the contention from Justice Brett Kavanaugh that the Constitution is “neutral” on the question of abortion and that the decision should therefore be left to the states.

“When it comes to rights, the Court does not act ‘neutrally’ when it leaves everything up to the States,” the liberals wrote. “When the Court decimates a right women have held for 50 years, the Court is not being ‘scrupulously neutral.’ It is instead taking sides: against women who wish to exercise the right, and for States (like Mississippi) that want to bar them from doing so.”

Kavanaugh “cannot obscure that point by appropriating the rhetoric of even-handedness,” they added.

“In overruling Roe and Casey, this Court betrays its guiding principles. With sorrow — for this Court, but more, for the many millions of American women who have today lost a fundamental constitutional protection — we dissent,” they wrote.

In New York, the state legislature shot back immediately.  This from the NYT:

"A week after the Supreme Court issued monumental rulings loosening restrictions on carrying guns and overturning the constitutional right to abortion, New York enacted sweeping measures designed to blunt the decisions’ effects.

In an extraordinary session convened by Gov. Kathy Hochul that began Thursday and carried late into Friday evening, the State Legislature adopted a new law placing significant restrictions on the carrying of handguns and passed an amendment that would initiate the process of enshrining the right to abortion in the state constitution.

The new legislation illustrates the growing distance between a conservative-led court that has reasserted its influence in American political life and blue states such as New York — one of the most left-leaning in the nation, where all three branches of government are controlled by Democrats and President Biden easily triumphed over Donald J. Trump in 2020."

As for the EPA, the Guardian characterized it this way:

"In a 6-3 decision that will seriously hinder America’s ability to stave off disastrous global heating, the supreme court, which became dominated by rightwing justices under the Trump administration, has opted to support a case brought by West Virginia that demands the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) be limited in how it regulates planet-heating gases from the energy sector.  

The case, which was backed by a host of other Republican-led states including Texas and Kentucky, was highly unusual in that it was based upon the Clean Power Plan, an Obama-era strategy to cut emissions from coal-fired power plants that never came into effect. The Biden administration sought to have the case dismissed as baseless given the plan was dropped and has not been resurrected."

So the Court did not strike down a law, it prohibited the idea of such a law

Meanwhile the President made it clear that if D's gain 2 seats in the Senate and they hold the house, then he will support codification of Roe.

"President Joe Biden said Thursday that he would support an exception to the Senate filibuster to codify Roe v. Wade and federally protect access to abortion.

I believe we have to codify Roe v. Wade in the law and the way to do that is to make sure that Congress votes to do that, and if the filibuster gets in the way, it’s like voting rights, it should be ‘we provide an exception for this’ — require an exception to the filibuster for this action to deal with the Supreme Court decision,” Biden said during a press conference at the NATO summit. "(Politico)

 This election is not just about Roe, it's about sanity.  It's about electing enough Democrats to stop this rogue supreme court before it rules in favor of state legislatures overruling the popular vote.

Fourteen years ago I wrote about the Texas Taliban, which was the Texas Republican Party.  Now, after withholding approval of Obama's supreme court pick, and fumbling the ball with RBG, we find ourselves in the hands of a ruthless gang of the same religious zealots in Washington.

We need to do more than Dissent.

We need to resist.

And we need to VOTE in epic droves in November.

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Monday, May 30, 2022

Woe is US


It's Memorial Day and there is a lot of stuff Women's Rights.

 Woe vs Wade was a landmark decision of the US Supreme  Court in which the Court ruled that the Constitution of the United States protects a pregnant woman's liberty to chose to have an abortion without excessive government restriction. The decision struck down a whole host of Federal and state abortion laws.

This from Wikipedia:

The decision involved the case of Norma McCorvey—known by the legal pseudonym "Jane Roe"—who in 1969 became pregnant with her third child. McCorvey wanted an abortion but lived in Texas, where abortion was illegal except when necessary to save the mother's life. Her attorneys, Sarah Weddington and Linda Coffee, filed a lawsuit on her behalf in U.S. federal court against her local district attorney, Henry Wade, alleging that Texas's abortion laws were unconstitutional. A three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas heard the case and ruled in her favor. Yet the District Court ruled against two others who were also represented by Weddington and Coffee alongside McCorvey. Weddington and Coffee appealed their partial loss to the U.S. Supreme Court, while at the same time Wade cross-appealed his partial loss to the Supreme Court.

In January 1973, the Supreme Court issued a 7–2 decision in McCorvey's favor ruling that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides a "right to privacy" that protects a pregnant woman's right to choose whether to have an abortion. It also ruled that this right is not absolute and must be balanced against governments' interests in protecting women's health and prenatal life.[4][5] The Court resolved this balancing test by tying state regulation of abortion to the three trimesters of pregnancy: during the first trimester, governments could not prohibit abortions at all; during the second trimester, governments could require reasonable health regulations; during the third trimester, abortions could be prohibited entirely so long as the laws contained exceptions for cases when they were necessary to save the life or health of the mother.[5] The Court classified the right to choose to have an abortion as "fundamental", which required courts to evaluate challenged abortion laws under the "strict scrutiny" standard, the highest level of judicial review in the United States.[6]

The Court's ruling in Roe was criticized by some in the legal community,[7] and some called the decision an example of judicial activism.[8] The Supreme Court revisited and modified Roe's legal rulings in its 1992 decision Planned Parenthood v. Casey.[9] In Casey, the Court reaffirmed Roe's holding that a woman's right to choose to have an abortion is constitutionally protected, but overruled Roe's strict scrutiny standard for reviewing abortion restrictions and abandoned Roe's trimester framework in favor of a standard based on fetal viability.[4][10]

On May 2, 2022, Politico obtained a leaked initial draft majority opinion penned by Justice Samuel Alito indicating that the Supreme Court is prepared to overturn Roe and Casey in a pending final decision on Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization,[11] expected to be issued by June 2022.[12] A press release from Chief Justice John Roberts the following day confirmed the authenticity of the leaked document, but stated that the draft "does not represent a decision by the Court or the final position of any member on the issues in the case".[13]

I was 24 when the decision came down.  Later, I would soon learn that Sarah Weddington, one of the attorneys who argued Roe was an Austinite and for a time was my state representative by the time Roe was decided.  She also served under President Carter as his assistant. Her death, the day after Christmas last year at age 76, occurred shortly  after Dobbs vs Jackson Women's Health Organization was argued before the Supremes, a case that was reconsidering Roe.  Her spectacular career was setting.

I could go down the dark hole, but others do it better and they are funnier. Here is the Liberal Redneck:


But, George Carlin was doing it better a long time ago. 



I just read in the Cook Political report that the R's currently have a 10 to 12 seat projected lead in the house in the upcoming midterms as they protect the fetus in the womb and then murder them with their inhuman gun policies once they are actually alive.

Perhaps the January 6 hearings will make up the difference as the case is made that Trump and his followers are not fit for governing.

Problem is, nobody may be listening.

If so, Woe is US


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Saturday, April 30, 2022

Four in the Morning














With all of the news about War and Sickness, I have been up quite a lot at four in the morning.  So far I have about 100 pages of these Four Word Haikus.  So this is just a small sample.  The full work will be released in the not so distant future as Four in the Morning.


Right livelihood is fundamental


Honesty builds the soul


Courage lets us explore


Kindness heals us all


Humility makes us human


Thinking gives us time


Time comes from thought


Philosophy is a Playground


Religion is not easy


Progress is an Illusion


Illusion is what isn’t


Make time for Noting


Take Walks every day


Make Doors in Divisions


Always look out Windows


Let the light in


Learn to read well


Learn to listen quietly


Don’t tempt the Gods


Hold your love gently


Break your habits daily


Speak often with Neighbors


Cast your spells carefully


Sing when you can


Dance to the Beat


Travel as a Traveler


Stand tall with allies


Be busy while Alone


Find fault if wise


Look out for corners


Make roads that last


Fight Fire with Water


Move Mountains with Belief


Have Mercy on yourself


Be kind when angry


Look the other Way


Reach out to Strangers


Don’t ever stop Believing


Watch the grass grow


Wait your turn patiently


Continue with your madness


Remember who you are


Find strength in Holiness


Some Rivers are deep


Always marvel at rain


We come from Dirt


Four Words  Book Two


Find your good side


Let the other wither


Pride rarely works well


If the road forks


Take it with courage


Learn to moon walk


Become a good magician


Wander aimlessly on occasion


If you can’t sleep


Do something that matters


Work on people skills


Squeaky wheels get grease


Sometimes they get replaced


Be a good loser


Be a better winner


Set your goals daily


Don’t eat too much


Remember to remember names


Don’t burn many bridges


If you hurt someone


Try to fix it


Stay fit when old


Take adventures when young


Don’t ever be afraid


Make fear an ally


Always see the stars


Keep your friends close


And your enemies closer


Learn that jealousy corrodes


Be strong when weakened


Be gentle when strong


Art that is best


Is often said least


Men have hard hearts


But they bleed easily


Children must be nurtured


Especially when they’re old


Good parents are impermanent


Learn to hear yourself


Particularly when you’re talking


Learn to visualize outcomes


Give Peace a Chance


Violence is very effective


But the shadow lingers



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