Wednesday, March 20, 2019

the hero worship of the founding fathers

"The Constitution invests the people with just enough power to carry out the functions that it dictates. If so, this explains a good deal about the American political system — its low ideological level, its narrowness of debate, its all-around thoughtlessness. Instead of freely thinking through the problems before them, Americans are required — programmed, actually — to think only in ways dictated by the founders.

They are creatures of a pre-ordained democracy that limits their role to filling in certain blanks. They will argue endlessly about the “necessary and proper” clause in Article I or the meaning of the Second Amendment, but never about why, after more than two centuries, they should remain bound by such precepts in the first place. They debate what the Constitution allows them to debate and disregard the rest."

--  Abolish the Electoral College

Sunday, January 6, 2019


"I think promising goes back to the unstated contract between a mother and child.  It's no use her telling a child, 'You must not go near the edge of the cliff, or touch fire, or wander off,' unless the child agrees that it won't.  If the child doesn't agree, then the mother must be more vigilant than is practical. What the child promises is to try to stay alive. What the mother promises, in return, is to love the child and try to keep it alive. That is the earliest contract humans make, or have ever made. So, when we ask a [crisis line] caller to promise, we are touching an ancient nerve. The equation written in our cells, in our bones, is that keeping yourself safe will lead to love. It is the oldest and simplest promise."

-- Diane Ackerman, A Slender Thread: Rediscovering Hope at the Heart of Crisis

Saturday, November 3, 2018


"The predominance of women in genealogical communities is consistent with the literature on "kinkeeping," the term coined by Carolyn J. Rosenthal to describe how the practice of maintaining family ties -- through activities such as fostering communication between members or providing emotional and financial aid to them -- was a form of gendered labor. Genealogists can be seen as fulfilling the role of kinkeeper in their families. With genealogical practices of prior times and of today, kinkeeping involves the work of connecting past and present kin with purposeful narrative."

 -- Alondra Nelson, The Social Life of DNA: Race, Reparations, and Reconciliation after the Genome

Monday, September 17, 2018

all they'll know of life

The two men [Robert E Lee and Joe Johnston] fell silent, seemed to be both enjoying the faint sound of a harmonica, muffled sounds of men moving about, fragments of conversation, all sounds of an army at rest.

"Look out there, all over the camp.  Even the card playing is quiet. This is no party.  They're preparing for it, every man looking deep inside himself, asking the same questions, making his own peace."

Johnston took his hat off, held it in his hands, stared at it. "No one plans this, Robert.  No one says, 'I'm going to join the Army so I can fight a war.' you and I have been doing this for what? Eighteen years? After awhile you never expect to see something like this.  Some of these boys are straight out of the Point, class of 1846, going straight from the classroom to combat.  What will that do to them?  They'll see the Army very differently than you or I do, Robert.  War might even become... normal to them.  You and I, we have lives to go home to, families.  This war will end, and we will go back to doing what we always did before.  But those boys, their lives will never be the same.  All they'll know about life is fighting a war. Peacetime could be very dull."

 -- Jeff Shaara, Gone for Soldiers: A Novel of the Mexican-American War

Sunday, August 26, 2018

"There was a time - not long ago - when Americans could honestly look their kids in the eye and promise they would enjoy a better life than their parents had. That was the essence of the American Dream, now receding into memory for many and at its moment of greatest peril."

- David Rolf, The Fight For $15

Saturday, October 7, 2017

A small green island

There is a small green island
where one white cow lives alone, a meadow of an island.

The cow grazes till nightfull, full and fat,
but during the night she panics
and grows thin as a single hair.
What shall I eat tomorrow? There is nothing left.
By dawn the grass has grown up again, waist-high.
The cow starts eating and by dark
the meadow is clipped short.

She is full of strength and energy, but she panics
in the dark as before and grows abnormally thin overnight.
The cow does this over and over,
and this is all she does.

She never thinks, This meadow has never failed
to grow back. Why should I be afraid every night
that it won't. The cow is the bodily soul.
The island field is this world where that grows
lean with fear and fat with blessing, lean and fat.

White cow, don't make yourself miserable
with what's to come, or not to come.

-- Rumi

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

"What I really love about traditional music -- Irish, gypsy, American roots, whatever -- is how it exists in context with what's come before," DiMario [of Crooked Still] says.  "It's about real people, going through real stuff, who needed music to survive.  I'm more moved by a scratchy field recording, out of tune and with rough edges, than anything modern.  The emotional content underneath resonates with deeper meaning."

-- No Depression #76: Abigail Washburn and The Next Generation