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|Sunday, January 9th, 2011|
|Secession Sesquicentennial: Mississippi
Today is the 150th anniversary of Mississippi's secession from the Union. To commemorate that, I'm posting "A Declaration of the Immediate Causes which Induce and Justify the Secession of the State of Mississippi from the Federal Union." -- Mississippi's equivalent of the Declaration of Independence. This is what the CSA was fighting for, in the words of its own leaders:
In the momentous step which our State has taken of dissolving its connection with the government of which we so long formed a part, it is but just that we should declare the prominent reasons which have induced our course. Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery-- the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization. That blow has been long aimed at the institution, and was at the point of reaching its consummation. There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union, whose principles had been subverted to work out our ruin.
That we do not overstate the dangers to our institution, a reference to a few facts will sufficiently prove.
The hostility to this institution commenced before the adoption of the Constitution, and was manifested in the well-known Ordinance of 1787, in regard to the Northwestern Territory.
The feeling increased, until, in 1819-20, it deprived the South of more than half the vast territory acquired from France.
The same hostility dismembered Texas and seized upon all the territory acquired from Mexico.
It has grown until it denies the right of property in slaves, and refuses protection to that right on the high seas, in the Territories, and wherever the government of the United States had jurisdiction.
It refuses the admission of new slave States into the Union, and seeks to extinguish it by confining it within its present limits, denying the power of expansion.
It tramples the original equality of the South under foot.
It has nullified the Fugitive Slave Law in almost every free State in the Union, and has utterly broken the compact which our fathers pledged their faith to maintain.
It advocates negro equality, socially and politically, and promotes insurrection and incendiarism in our midst.
It has enlisted its press, its pulpit and its schools against us, until the whole popular mind of the North is excited and inflamed with prejudice.
It has made combinations and formed associations to carry out its schemes of emancipation in the States and wherever else slavery exists.
It seeks not to elevate or to support the slave, but to destroy his present condition without providing a better.
It has invaded a State, and invested with the honors of martyrdom the wretch whose purpose was to apply flames to our dwellings, and the weapons of destruction to our lives.
It has broken every compact into which it has entered for our security.
It has given indubitable evidence of its design to ruin our agriculture, to prostrate our industrial pursuits and to destroy our social system.
It knows no relenting or hesitation in its purposes; it stops not in its march of aggression, and leaves us no room to hope for cessation or for pause.
It has recently obtained control of the Government, by the prosecution of its unhallowed schemes, and destroyed the last expectation of living together in friendship and brotherhood.
Utter subjugation awaits us in the Union, if we should consent longer to remain in it. It is not a matter of choice, but of necessity. We must either submit to degradation, and to the loss of property worth four billions of money, or we must secede from the Union framed by our fathers, to secure this as well as every other species of property. For far less cause than this, our fathers separated from the Crown of England.
Our decision is made. We follow their footsteps. We embrace the alternative of separation; and for the reasons here stated, we resolve to maintain our rights with the full consciousness of the justice of our course, and the undoubting belief of our ability to maintain it.
|Tuesday, November 9th, 2010|
(yes, I know it needs a better title)
Current Mood: weird
Irreparable invalid markup ('<london [...] they’ve>') in entry. Owner must fix manually. Raw contents below.]
(yes, I know it needs a better title)
<London street, late afternoon. HENRY HIGGINS and his friend FRANCIS STONE are in the middle of a restrained but somewhat heated argument. From the look on Stone’s face, this is not the first time they’ve been over this. On the corner ELIZA DOOLITTLE, a Cockney flower girl, is peddling her wares to a wealthy middle-aged toff.>
HH: I tell you, I can take any common trollop off the street and pass her off as a duchess.
ED: <screeching> ’Ere! ’Oo wants to buy me flowers!
WMAT: But there are no flowers in your basket…
ED: ’At’s wut vey call a euphemivvum, guv’na. <flower girl winks and gooses the man, who storms off in sexually repressed Victorian outrage>
FS: <points to flower girl with his cane> Even her?
HH: Even her!
FS: You 100 pounds sure?
HH: Done! <they shake>
<omnibus crashes into flower girl, killing her instantly. She lies in a pool of blood, her neck bent at an unnatural angle>
HH: This may take a bit more work than I thought.
<Later, In Henry’s parlor….>
HH: Repeat after me, please. “The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plains.”
EZ: Braaaains….<zombie Eliza lurches toward Higgins and tries to bite him. He beats her back with a cricket bat>
HH: Your vowels are coming along nicely, but I’m afraid your consonants need work. For the forty-third time there is no voiced bilabial stop in “rain!”
|Thursday, October 14th, 2010|
|An Open Letter to Christine O'Donnell
To: the Republican candidate for Delaware's open Senate seat
Re: Your colossal stupidity
I just can't get over how stupid you are (or, on the very edge of possibility, how stupid you think the people of Delaware are). Calling Coons a Marxist? Do you not know what that word means? Is it just a generic insult to you, the political equivalent of "you have cooties?" Or do you really think that anyone who doesn't masturbate to the image of children working 12 hour shifts in sweatshops (yeah, I'm looking at you, would-be Senator Rease) must be dirty mutant pinko traitor scum?
|Wednesday, September 8th, 2010|
|Almost pure unadulterated awesomesauce
Today I gave a presentation on the War of 1812 for the local Kiwanis Club, and ALMOST had a moment of ultimate awesome.
During the Q&A section a member of the audience wanted to know about an ancestor who'd fought at the Battle of Craney Island. It just so happened that I'd found information about the veteran in question during my research, and so was able to tell the fellow that his ancestor had been a private serving as a rifleman in a light artillery company (American field artillery units often cross-trained as infantry during this period), and that the family still had the gun he'd carried to war with him. Picture it, being able to tell random audience member about a private in a 200 year old battle just off the top of your head like that. I'd look like I had the biographies of all 750 Americans at Craney Island memorized. Cool beyond cool, neh?
That's how it should have gone.
Unfortunately instead of asking about his specific ancestor, the fellow just asked about finding unit rosters from the battle, since why would I know about some specific private? I don't have unit rosters and ended up stammering out something along the lines of "I don't know, give me your contact information and I'll get back to you." Durr....
When he gave me his card after the meeting and I realized who he was I was able to give him the information above, but the rest of the audience went away thinking "Durr, I dunno" was my best answer. The "this guy knows everything! He's fucking AWESOME!!!!" crowd reaction remains confined to whatever alternate universe collects the unuttered witticisms of l'esprit descolier.
|Friday, May 14th, 2010|
I got an A on my "Republicans are assholes" history term paper.
Okay, that deserves some explanation. My term paper for African American history was on the realignment of the 1930s, the massive shift of African American voters from the GOP to FDR's coalition. Originally I expected to focus on the New Deal and its appeal to blacks, but the more I researched the more I found a preexisting groundswell of black discontent with the GOP, and the bulk of my paper ended up being about how the Republicans abused the trust of and antagonized black supporters in the 1920s and 1930s. I concluded that blacks were essentially driven from the GOP, and the only reason they stuck around as long as they did was because the Democrats were pretty much assholes too. Once the Democrats stopped trying to be bigger racist pricks than the Republicans, blacks jumped ship pretty much en masse. Current Mood: happy
|Thursday, May 13th, 2010|
|A Little Slice of History Geek Heaven
Last night I saw William Chrystal (long-time interviewer on The Thomas Jefferson Hour
) performing live as Alexander Hamilton. It was a great show, marred only by one audience member using the question and answer session to go on a long rambling demonstration of how much he knew about history and never actually asking a question.
And no, it wasn't me this time.
Anyway, even that wasn't so bad. Elderly men in suit started making time-out signals in the audience, and "Hamilton," who had repeated previous questions to the audience to make sure everyone heard properly, dismissed the guy's ramble as "impossible to summarize."
The performance was fun, I won an autographed book in a raffle (I don't recall ever in my life winning a raffle before), and at the end of the reception got to take home the vegetable plate since they were going to just throw it out anyway. Trifecta. Current Mood: cheerful
|Saturday, May 1st, 2010|
|Mississippi High School Declares Gay Student an "Unperson"
They've removed all references to this kid from the high school year book. No senior photo, no nothing. It's a "Mean Girls" version of a Stalinist purge.
Oh, and this isn't the same high school as the one with the "separate but equal" prom. Mississippi has way too much crazy for just one high school to contain.
I wonder if I should create a "God punishes homophobes with oil spills" facebook page. Just to piss the fundies and wing-nuts off, of course.
|Wednesday, March 31st, 2010|
|Notes from the war on Pesach
You've probably heard the joke about the classic Jewish dilemma: free pork. Well, my father experienced something very much like that tonight. A coffee shop was giving away free bagels. On passover week. Free chumetz on Pesach. This is right up there with McDonald's line of tref bagels back in the 90s. Or was it Burger King? Anyway, they all had some sort of pork product on them except the steak and cheese bagel. Not a kosher option on the menu. Current Mood: amused
|Friday, February 5th, 2010|
|Saturday, January 23rd, 2010|
|Thursday, January 21st, 2010|
|Saturday, January 2nd, 2010|
|Doctor Who: The End of My Patience, Part 1
I'm halfway through part one and had to stop. It's all too painfully embarrassing to take at one sitting. The pacing is horrid. No build-up, just straight into THE UNIVERSE IS IN GRAVE CRISIS, BIGGEST EVER!! Again. Panic, chase scenes, everything (artificially) screwed up to the highest pitch. Then the Doctor interrupts his chase scene of the villain who's central to all this mishegas to go have coffee with an old friend
! This is the worst pacing I've seen on any television show EVER. I'm not exaggerating -- I can't think of a single exception. And the music -- normally I think complaints about the music are a bit over the top, but this time it was so loud and intrusive that I wanted to drive a spike through my eardrums to make it stop.
This may not be the worst Doctor Who story ever made (too early to tell on that score), but as of half an hour into it it is far and away the clumsiest. Russell Davies needs to lay off the cocaine. Or if he wrote that script clean and sober... well, somehow that's an even more depressing notion.
I'm not sure if I'm ready to go back for the second half yet. I may need a good night's sleep before I'm prepared to face it. Current Mood: grumpy
|Friday, January 1st, 2010|
|Sunday, December 13th, 2009|
|Notes from the War on Christmas
Yesterday I attended a "Holiday Music Festival." It's Hannukkah, but the music was all Christmas music -- some secular pieces like "Frosty the Snowman," some religious like "Come All Ye Faithful." Lots of people were wishing "merry Christmas," and the evening climaxed with a parade starring Santa Claus.
Was this a vast conspiracy to suppress my religion, another step on the road to the day when they will drive pigs through our synagogues, force pork down our throats, and impose Christianity on us on pain of death or exile? Of course not. That's paranoid ranting. When people say "merry Christmas" they don't mean "convert or burn in hell, heathen scum!" They mean "be happy this time of year."
So here's the thing -- if talking about a holiday that isn't happening yet during my holiday (well, festival if you want to get technical) isn't an attack on my faith, why do a small but extremely loud and obnoxious minority of Christians consider it an attack on theirs to say "happy holidays" instead of mentioning their holiday exclusively? "Happy holidays" doesn't exclude Christians -- it doesn't exclude anyone.
Two explanations spring to mind. One is that these guys know that saying "happy holidays" isn't an attack on anyone and they're just cynically trying to whip up the resentment of a majority that's losing its traditional preferential treatment -- resentment which can be channeled into all sorts of other, more meaningful political and cultural fights. The other is that they believe not mentioning Christmas by name really is an attack and culturally marginalizes them -- in which case they're effectively admitting their use of "merry Christmas" is an attack on and an attempt to marginalize all non-Christians. In other words, if there's a culture war they're admitting that they've been fighting it for years -- no, centuries -- and they're horrified that the other side has started fighting back.
Frankly I'm not sure which of those is worse -- the cynic or the zealot. I'm just glad that the majority of Christians don't buy into this "war on Christmas" myth that the loud and obnoxious few bleat about. Current Mood: thoughtful
|Tuesday, December 8th, 2009|
Scenes from Quentin Tarantino’s The Smurfs
HEFTY: Have you ever gotten your smurf smurfed?
VANITY: No, I’m not that flexible.
HEFTY: (does doubletake) No, smurfhead, by somebody else!
VANITY: I never really thought about it. I mean, who but me has a mouth pretty enough to smurf my smurf?
(HANDY SMURF, GRUMPY SMURF and FARMER SMURF have a badly bruised BRAINY SMURF tied to a chair inside a darkened mushroom)
HANDY: All right, you smurfing mother-smurfer, we know you sold us out to Gargamel.
BRAINY: I would never do that!
GRUMPY: I hate traitors even more than I hate liars! Don’t try to bullsmurf us, Clumsy already ratted you out.
BRAINY: That smurf-for-brains? You gotta be smurfin’ me. He barely knows his own name, and you believe him when he says I’m a traitor?
GRUMPY: We’re wasting time! I—
FARMER: You hate that. We know. You said the same smurfin’ thing 23 times since we got here. You know what we hate? We hate you using the same smurfin’ word every other sentence!
BRAINY: Actually we all—
ALL: Shut the smurf up!
HANDY: You’re right, we’ll have to beat it out of him. Farmer, get the hoe.
FARMER: But Smurfette’s been kidnapped!
HANDY: No, smurf-wit, the—oh, never mind. We’ll use what I’ve got with me.
(a sprightly movement from a Beethoven symphony begins playing in the backround. HANDY starts to dance toward Brainy waving a hammer and chisel about menacingly.) Current Mood: decidedly unsmurfy
|Sunday, November 29th, 2009|
|Another horrid idea for Doctor Who
(the thoughts... the bad thoughts... they won't leave me ALONE!!)
"The Wisdom of Confucius"
The Doctor travels to China in the interregnum between the Zhou and Qin dynasties, and discovers that everyone there behaves exactly like the residence of a London council estate. There he meets Confucius, a preening celebrity basking in the popularity of his hot new philosophy, and together they must defeat an army of time-traveling kung-fu cybermen.
Guest starring Jackie Chan as Confucius. Or Rain. We haven't quite decided yet. Current Mood: silly
|Friday, November 27th, 2009|
|More Doctor Who crap
"Day off of the Daleks"
In the gripping season/series finale of Doctor Who, Earth girds for an invasion by a massive GCI army of cyborgs... an invasion that doesn't come.
(THE DOCTOR and a heavily armed detachment from UNIT set up outside Heathrow Airport)
DOCTOR: It's about time you listened to me! You humans can be so irrationally stubborn.
UNIT COMMANDER: You don't make it very easy, Doctor. Whenever anyone asked for evidence you just started jumping up and down shouting "there's no time for that!" Or "I'll explain later!"
(The Doctor starts jumping up and down excitedly and pointing)
DOCTOR: There's no time for that! It's started! See?
(The UNIT commander looks where the Doctor is pointing. Sure enough, descending from the sky is... an airplane)
COMMANDER: That's an airplane.
(a corporal whispers something to the CO)
COMMANDER: Air traffic control confirms it's a scheduled flight from Toronto.
(The Doctor looks again, seems to deflate a bit, then points in a slightly different direction and starts jumping up and down again)
DOCTOR: What about THAT, then?
COMMANDER: That's a cloud.
DOCTOR (triumphantly): A DALEK-shaped cloud!
COMMANDER (looks again): ...not really.
DOCTOR: No, really! If you tilt your head at a 45 degree angle and squint a bit you'll see it!
COMMANDER (tilting head 45 degrees and squinting): Looks more like a lighthouse to me.
DOCTOR: No, it's... well, I suppose so.
DOCTOR: I'll just be in my TARDIS, then.
Next time on Doctor Who: "The Keys of Florida."
The Doctor and his companion spend an hour on a beach fronting the Gulf of Mexico, drinking Coronas (sponsorship deal!) and working on their tans. This highly experimental episode contains no dialogue.
|Monday, November 23rd, 2009|
|George Will is being a schmuck again.
He's back on his "we will never run out of oil" kick again. The fact that US production has been declining for going on 40 years now (or maybe that's just continental US production, though Alaska's peak was more than 20 years ago now too) apparently isn't enough to convince him that non-renewable resources are in fact finite. I don't think he's stupid, which means he must be deliberately lying, cynically sacrificing the long-term and even intermediate-term interests of the world in general, and even just the United States, for the short-term interests of a small clique of wealthy investors and industrialists. What a sad excuse for a human being he's turned into. I used to point him out as an example of an intelligent responsible conservative voice. Can't do that anymore. If the right-wing media hasn't become completely intellectually and morally bankrupt, they've got their assets well-hidden. Current Mood: disgusted
|Wednesday, November 18th, 2009|
I just got back from a Roger Daltrey concert and I'm so high I could drop trou and piss on cloud 9. The venue upgraded my seats to orchestra seating, which was a pleasant surprise. Daltrey may not be able to hit the high notes like once did, but the man can still belt. And do that spin-toss-catch trick with the microphone. And play a mean ukelele. Also, he looks damned good for a man in his 60s. Hell, he looks damned good for a man in his 40s.
Thanks to the friends who clubbed together and got me the ticket. It was all I'd hoped for and more. Current Mood: ecstatic