Sunday, June 30, 2013

Give me 24 hours to be here, and I will be.

I refuse to post these to the front page of Wikipedia any more. But I will post them here.
Did You Know ... after producer Mark Hellinger announced that Humphrey Bogart would never be seen in an "unmasculine" painter's smock and beret in the 1947 film The Two Mrs. Carrolls, co-star Barbara Stanwyck put a smock and beret on Bogart's wardrobe clothes rack one day as a joke?

Saturday, June 29, 2013

I refuse to post these to the front page of Wikipedia any more. But I will post them here.
Did You Know ... that African-American lawyer William Henry Harrison Hart, whose father was a a white slave trader, won in 1905 a Maryland Court of Appeals case that held that Maryland's Jim Crow laws were an improper restriction on interstate commerce?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

3:30 p.m. on June 25, 1876.

Wyatt Earp was settling in as the Assistant Marshal of Dodge City, Kansas. In San Francisco, they were still celebrating the arrival of the Transcontinental Express -- a train which made the run from New York City to the Pacific Ocean in the astonishing time of 3 days, 11 hours, and 39 minutes. In England, the public was gobbling up The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, which had been released three weeks earlier (the book wouldn't be published in the United States until December). Across Europe, newspapers were breaking the news that two days earlier as many as 15,000 Bulgarians had been massacred by Ottoman Turkish troops. Serbia and Montenegro were about to declare war on Turkey. The United States Congress was debating whether to admit Colorado as the 38th state. And in Philadelphia at the Centennial International Exhibition of 1876, American citizens were using Alexander Graham Bell's telephone and the Remington typewriter and eating Heinz ketchup and drinking Hires root beer -- all four of which were first introduced at the fair.

On the Little Bighorn River in Montana, the officers and men of the Seventh Cavalry were about to make history, too.

Major Marcus Reno's group of 150 officers and men crossed to the west bank of the Little Bighorn River at just about 3:00 p.m. The view of the valley ahead of them was blocked by an oxbow bend in the river. A large copse of cottonwood trees grew in this bend (which became known as the "Western Bend"), blocking Reno's view of what lay ahead. Reno had no idea how large nor how far away the Indian camp ahead was. Reno believed his men had crossed near the village, but what he had seen were just a few outlying teepees.  The main body of the camp was still three miles (4.8 km) off. Moving north with his exhausted, hungry, thristy horses at a quick trot, the troops covered the distance in about 20 minutes.

When his battalion reached the bend in the river, Reno could hardly belive what he was seeing. Even though he could only reached the far southern cluster of teepees belonging to the Hunkpapa, it was still the largest Indian village he had ever seen. Reno immediately dispatched a rider to ride back south, cross the river, climb the bluffs, and ride north along them to find Custer. The message:  The Indians were not running scared but rather were in front of him, and in large numbers. As Reno's men came to a halt at a prairie dog town about a quarter-mile south of the village, the Indians began running about -- some in panic, some trying to gather their belongings to flee, some racing up the hills to the east into the pony herds to find a mount. The dust kicked up by the scattering Indians began to obscure the village...

Reno ordered his men to get ready for battle. Three of the four columns dismounted and loaded their Springfield Model 1873 carbine rifles. They handed the reins of their horses to their mounted comrades, who tied the reins to their own horses' bridles and then led the horses off toward the safety of the trees.

Reno pulled a whiskey bottle from his jacket. It was not unusual for officers to drink during battle. But to several officers in Reno's battalion that afternoon, it was clear that Marcus Reno was not merely drinking -- he was drunk. He was slurring his words. He was breathing too hard. He was unfocused, found it difficult to make decisions, and not in control of himself.

The men formed into a single line about a mile (1.6 km) long extending from the river in the east to the foothills in the west. Each man was about five yards (4.6 m) from the next. They marched about 100 yards (91.4 m) forward until they reached the prairie dog town. The flag-bearer planted the battalion flag in the earth. About 440 yards (402 m) in front of them was the Hunkpapa village. Some of the soldiers lay down or knelt behind the prairie dog mounds, using them as a defense. Reno passed his bottle to some of his other officers, each of whom took a swig.

Although Reno had given no word, his men began to open fire.

There were two problems with the Springfield Model 1873 carbine. The first was that it had an effective range of only about 250 yards (228.5 m). Reno had stopped far short of the Indian village. Nearly all the shots into the village were ineffective, although some shots managed to go wild with enough force to hit teepees and wound the occasional panicked woman or child.

The other problem was far more serious.

Custer's Last Stand...  behind this link.

On February 12, 1873, the United States Congress put the American economy on the gold standard. Money in the U.S. prior to the Civil War had all been metal -- that is, coins made of either gold or silver. The coins had varying amounts of gold or silver in them, depending on the value of the coin. During the Civil War, the public began hoarding coins. This created a liquidity crisis, and nearly every bank in the nation was threatened with failure. The Congress quickly passed the National Banking Act in 1863, which established national banks and permitted these banks to issue paper money (United States Notes, popularly known as "greenbacks"). This paper money represented a percentage of the gold and silver bullion in the bank's vaults. In 1866, Congress passed a tax on all bank-issued and state-issued currency, and the "greenbacks" became the national American currency.

Congress couldn't stop fiddling with the amount of gold and silver each greenback was supposed to represent. The lower the percentage, the more greenbacks could be issued. Soon the percentage had dropped precipitously, and anyone holding a greenback issued in 1863 found that it was almost worthless by 1872. Congress made the use of metal coinage legal again after the war, although by now the amount of gold and silver in each coin was so low as to be meaningless. Nonetheless, because of the vast amount of metal coin in circulation, this percentage was important. Raising the percentage of silver in a coin by just a few grains per coin could mean that the owners of silver mines would see the demand for their bullion -- and the price of silver -- rise dramatically.

But gold was far less common than silver. The discovery of a massive silver lode out West could easily force the price of silver lower, making silver-backed coins worth much less than when they were issued. For powerful Eastern money interests, this was disastrous: A bank might issue a loan for $10,000 in 1870, but the discovery of a big silver lode the next year would mean that the coins paying off that loan were worth only $6,750 (due to the drop in the price of silver). Moving the U.S. onto the "gold standard" -- where the only metal used in coins was gold -- would protect the big, greedy Eastern banks. It would also protect the big, greedy industrial monopolies which the banks financed: Railroads, steel mills, ship-building, mining, textiles, timber, and oil. It would keep famers (nearly 80 percent of Americans at the time worked on farms), consumers, and city-dwellers improverished...but, hey, they were just "little people" and not worth caring about.

Doing the New York City banks' bidding, Congress passed the Coinage Act of 1873 on February 12. This removed silver as the base metal in American coins, and put the U.S. on the gold standard.

The effect of the Coinage Act of 1873 was disastrous: Most Western mining companies collapsed. Common people, who tended to hold small-denomination coins backed with silver, found their currency worthless. The life savings of tens of millions of Americans were wiped out. Farmers and small business owners, who relied on regular drops in the price of silver to service their high-interest debt, went bankrupt. Worried investors stopped buying bonds. The Jay Cooke Company, one of the largest investment banking firms in America, attempted to sell several million dollars of Northern Pacific Railway bonds. Not a single bond sold. Cooke went bankrupt, triggering the failure of thousands of banks across the country. The American economy sank into a deep depression. The economic crisis spread to Europe. Great Britain's economy collapsed by the end of the year. Newly-formed Imperial Germany had followed the lead of the United States, and its silver-less economy also collapsed. Otto von Bismarck, the German leader, imposed high trade tarriffs to try to protect Germany industry from competition, but this only worsened the problems and trade across Europe came to a screeching halt. The economies of France, Austria, and Turkey then plunged into depression.

The subsequent worldwide economic crisis is known as "The Long Depression." It lasted six years in the United States. Great Britain would not emerge from its Long Depression for an astonishing 20 years.

Ulysses S. Grant was re-elected President of the United States in 1872. Grant was desperate to find new deposits of gold to help devalue the American currency. A devalued gold coin would not only help lift the U.S. out of depression -- it would make it easier to pay down the federal government's debt, which was still over $2 billion (100 times what it had been just a decade before) due to the Civil War and the cost of Reconstruction in the Deep South.

So in 1874, Grant sent a blond-haired ego-maniac named George Armstrong Custer into the western part of the Dakota Territory in an attempt to find gold.

There is no good ending to this story, but... see more behind this link

Saturday, June 22, 2013

All right, all you Venture Bros. fanatics!

Below is an image from the season premier of the show. This depicts an exhibit case in Augustus St. Cloud's palatial home. Everything under glass or on display in that home is from a science fiction TV show or movie.

This particular case appears devoted to Star Wars memorabilia. The eyeball-on-a-stalk at the bottom is the creature from the garbage compactor scene in Star Wars. To the right and above it is the head of the Rancor that Luke Skywalker fought in the pit in Return of the Jedi.

But what is the third item, that electronic eye in the square hood? I'm sure it's from a Star Wars movie. But which one? What scene????

This has been bugging me for three weeks! I don't think it is the eye-in-a-metal-claw that examines Luke when he tried to enter Jabba the Hut's lair in Return of the Jedi.

Did a sea monster wash up in New Zealand?????????????????????

The truth is out there (and behind this link below).

hee hee hee!

I refuse to post these to the front page of Wikipedia any more. But I will post them here.
Did You Know ... cross and the headstone marking Robert F. Kennedy's grave were stolen in 1981 and never recovered?

Thursday, June 20, 2013


A statue of Frederick Douglass was unveiled in the U.S. Capitol this week. All states get two statues in Statuary Hall. D.C. never had one. Congress finally allowed a single statue for the District of Columbia: It refused to put D.C. on an equal footing with the states.

Douglass had an instinct for what was right, and was a superb orator. Let's see what Frederick Douglass had to say about marriage rights, shall we?
The marriage institution cannot exist among slaves, and one sixth of the population of democratic America is denied it's privileges by the law of the land. What is to be thought of a nation boasting of its liberty, boasting of it's humanity, boasting of its Christianity, boasting of its love of justice and purity, and yet having within its own borders three millions of persons denied by law the right of marriage?

- Frederick Douglass, "My Bondage and My Freedom"

I typed in some coordinates. I expected the red push-pin icon to land on top of the coordinates I typed in. Imagine my surprise when it did not do so. It used to do this in the old Google Maps. But not in the new version! Google has pre-loaded a large number of landmarks, retail outlets, restaurants, roads, and so on into its software.

Google Maps will only put the red push-pin icon on those landmarks which are pre-loaded into its software. IT WILL NOT PUT THE ICON ON THE COORDINATES YOU ENTERED.

That, my friends, is a major fuck-up.

In the image here, I wanted to go to the item marked with the blue box. Google Maps refused to show those coordinates, and instead kept trying to force me to go to the landmark with the push-pin icon. When I entered other, similar coordinates, Google Maps once again chose a different landmark -- but NOT the coordinates I wanted to go to.

The Eisenhower Memorial Commission, refusing to buckle to any pressure whatsoever from Congress or the Eisenhower family, has approved the Eisenhower memorial in essentially the same form that has drawn intense criticism for the past three years.

Minor changes were made by Frank Gehry before the vote. These include restoring the bas-reliefs behind the statues. Behind the statue of Eisenhower standing by a globe will be a bas-relief showing him signing the Civil Rights Act of 1957. Behind the statue of him addressing troops in Europe will be a bas-relief of soldiers storming the beaches at Normandy. The now-approved quotations from various Eisenhower speeches have been added to the giant skewed blocks, and the sculpture of a boyish Eisenhower now is slightly turned to look at the presidential blocks.

A letter from the Eisenhower family calling for an entirely new memorial competition was read aloud. However, Rocco Siciliano, the Hollywood lawyer and Eisenhower aide who chairs the the memorial commission, replied that "The family deserves to be heard but they do not deserve to be obeyed."

The next step is for Gehry to take his design to the National Capital Planning Commission and the Commission on Fine Arts, both of which must approve the memorial's design before construction of the $110 million project can begin.

* * * * *

What is kitsch?

Kitsch is a German word that means "mass-produced art or art which uses cultural icons designed to convey exaggerated sentimentality or melodrama." Kitsch art is unsubstantial or gaudy, and is calculated to have popular appeal.

The Eisenhower memorial is the definition of kitsch. It takes existing artwork -- these various photographs of Eisenhower which now have iconic status -- and turns them into statues. It does so in order to pluck at the sentimental heart-strings of Americans.

The Eisenhower memorial takes three iconic photographs taken during Eisenhower's administration -- his standing by the globe in the Oval Office, his signing the Civil Rights Act, his standing arms-akimbo in France talking to troops after D-Day -- and transforms them into bas-reliefs and statues. That is the very definition of kitsch. It is nothing but recapitulation. It is not art.

The one artistic element in the memorial is the statue of the boyish Eisenhower, leaning back against a low marble wall opposite the memorial. This will be a new creation, not one taken from a photograph. Gehry has nothing to do with this piece of art; someone else will actually sculpt it.

In a letter read aloud at yesterday's commission meeting, Frank Gehry repeatedly (and repetitiously) emphasized how he sees polarities in Eisenwhower's life. Eisenhowever came from a modest background, but became a great man. Eisenhower believed in peace, but was a great warrior. And so on... I think Gehry has fundamentally misconceived what is essential about Eisenhowever. Eisenhower was complex -- not simple, and not just polarities. I think Gehry's memorial also does little to address the polarities he has identified. The sole element of the memorial which does this is the boy-statue. But that's only a small element of the memorial, and will be overwhelmed by the massive blocks and the hundred-foot-tall screens with their missile silo-like towers holding them up.

But most importantly, however, Gehry has done little to actually convey what made Eisenhower great. One, small element of Gehry's memorial seems to think that what made Eisenhower great was his humble beginnings. But plenty of people are born humble; isn't the real issue that Eisenhower strove, worked, and disciplined himself to become more than any other dirt farmer's kid (like his peers)? Gehry simply has no ability to convey what made Eisenhower great. He merely repeats things we already know: Ike was a globalist, Ike signed the Civil Rights Act, Ike led American troops in Europe. Yeah, so? So did Patton, and Adlai Stevenson was a globalist, too. But we don't have memorials to them. "But Eisenhower was president." Yes he was. And James Garfield led American troops into combat, and was a globalist, and was president. But we don't have a memorial to him. Many presidents both led troops into combat as well as became president and signed important laws -- like Eisenhower. But we don't have memorials to them. Gehry's memorial doesn't seem to have a handle on Ike. It recapitulates, as if that was enough. It's not.

One could quibble with other elements of Gehry's design, although these are probably not deal-breakers. It's an unbalanced memorial: While two presidential events are shown on the left (glabalism, Civil Rights Act), only a single is shown on the right. One could point out that Gehry seems to hate the location, and with the screens is doing his goddamnedest to screen off the U.S. Capitol and Johnson Building from his precious work of art. He wants you to focus on Gehry's work, not on the context in which it exists. One could wonder what the giant, askew blocks mean -- apparently nothing, except to avoid monumentalism, and yet people will interpret them and assign meaning to them that perhaps Gehry doesn't want.

But to my mind, those are just quibbles. The real issue is that this memorial is awful, awful kitsch. And that this memorial doesn't convey anything about the things that made Dwight D. Eisenhower great.

Frank Gehry is a good architect. But he designed a shitty memorial.

At 12:04 AM on June 21 (Eastern US time), the Sun will begin moving toward the south again. Those observing this event generally begin celebrating at dusk (that's tonight) because "days" begin at dusk in the pagan tradition.

Because the Sun is shifting direction, this weakens the barrier between This World and the Otherworld. For those who believe, this is a time for seeking insight into themselves, into moral dilemmas, into how they should act. It is a time when those on the other side may contact us in this world, to impart knowledge or feeling. It is a time when dreams have importance.

Summer solstice is usually celebrated with a bonfire, which represents the long day.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

I love volcanoes.

Mexico's Popocat├ępetl is just a few miles from Mexico City. It's never been quiet in the past 10,000 years. But for the past few weeks, seismologists believed it was undergoing a typical slow-motion eruption. Just a little lava at the summit, some smoke every now and then....

And then this happened on June 17 at 1:23 P.M. This time-lapse video occurss over 11 minutes.

But my god....

WHAT THE FUCK???????????? This is outrageous!

A study by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development shows that landlords are one-third less likely to call a gay couple back than a straight couple.

The study is proof-positive that landlords openly and willingly discriminate against LGBTQ people. The study's authors say that housing discrimination is probably much worse than this, because they only studied "first contact" inquiries (when a person initially contacts a landlord) and not landlord-potential tenant interactions later as negotiations occur, security deposits are made, and leases are signed.

GODDAMN but The Onion is funny!!!!!!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

I refuse to post these to the front page of Wikipedia any more. But I will post them here.
Did You Know ... that because the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center focuses only on African American life in the 1950s, it is considered a specialized museum?
I sooooooooooooooooo want this to be an over-size poster in my house!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Here is the poster for the upcoming film The Butler, based on the true story of Eugene Allen -- an African American high school dropout who served eight Presidents at the White House.

What is wrong with this poster??

Saturday, June 15, 2013

You shook him until he got sick. Now your soda can is going to puke in your mouth until he can puke no more. And yes, you are going to drink it down -- and tell others that you feel refreshed by it.

Friday, June 14, 2013


You never forget your first love.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Remember: On this day in 1963 -- just hours after President John F. Kennedy's speech on national television in support of civil rights -- African American civil rights activist Medgar Evers was murdered in his driveway in Jackson, Mississippi, by Ku Klux Klan member Byron De La Beckwith. He was shot in the back.

All-white juries deadlocked twice on De La Beckwith's guilt.

In 1994, new evidence allowed the state to try De La Beckwith again, and he was convicted of murder on February 5, 1994. De La Beckwith died in prison in January 2001 at the age of 80.

Evers' wife, Myrlie Evers-Williams, has remained a civil rights activist to this very day.

R.I.P., Ed Hotaling.

Hotaling was a veteran reporter for WRC-TV here in Washington, D.C. He died on June 3 of a heart attack, but had been in a nursing home for six years after a horrible automobile accident.

In 2000, Hotaling was researching the 200th anniversary of the U.S. Capitol. He discovered hundreds of pay stubs in Treasury Department archives detailing the work of African-American slaves in erecting the building. His discovery showed the extent of slave labor, and what they worked on.

Historians considered the discovery routine and "not news" -- something they had long assumed.

The response of the academic history community is shameful.

Yes, historians had long assumed that black slaves built the structure. But they never bothered to actually find out. They just assumed it, and left it at that. They never bothered to investigate how many slaves worked the project, what percentage of the workforce this was, what their living conditions were, how much their owners were paid, what kind of work they did (manual or skilled; if skilled, whether it was woodwork or sculpture or ornamental plastering or...), or when slaves began to be used and when slaves stopped being used on the Capitol. Who owned these slaves? Where did they go afterward? Are their descendants still around?

Historians of the U.S. Capitol simply didn't care.

Instead of slapdash, shoddy academic work, Hotaling did something no academic would be bothered with: He actually dug up the facts.

Historians and architects sniffed at and pooh-poohed Hotaling's work, because he embarrassed them and pointed how how their work was full of unjustified assumptions based on a complete lack of reference to documentary sources.

But Ed Hotaling did this country a great service -- one our well-paid academics couldn't be bothered to do.

This is why I can get seething mad at so-called "real" historians.

(Side note: The New York Times published a lengthy Hotaling obit on June 10. The Washington Post couldn't be bothered until a day later, and only after learning about the death from the Times! What a crappy local paper we have.)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Sasha Gradiva 021 - DC Capital Pride street festival - 2013-06-09

Jinkx Monsoon - Christian Lezzil 003 - DC Capital Pride street festival - 2013-06-09

At last! At last!!

I uploaded all the pictures from the D.C. Capital Pride street festival on June 9, 2013. It took me a lot longer to sort through these images, because I took a boatload of images of Icona Pop, Sasha Gradiva, and Jinkx Monsoon and her stripper boys (including my friend Christian, kissing the crowd goodbye - above).

You can see all the street festival images here on my Flickr account.

Please note: I am not deeply, deeply, deeply in love with Sasha Gradiva's backup dancer (top). Even if he has beautiful eyes, a mouth that could be kissed for months, a body to die for -- and a smile that makes me melt and want to induce him to do immoral, sinful, loving things to me.


I don't even know his name...

three friends - DC Capital Pride street festival - 2013-06-09

returned peace corps with sign - DC Capital Pride street festival - 2013-06-09

chris gives out free hugs - DC Capital Pride street festival - 2013-06-09

Ladies of town and Derek Brown 006 - DC Capital Pride street festival - 2013-06-09

handsome asian climber 01 - DC Capital Pride street festival - 2013-06-09

inspire hope and change in blue - DC Capital Pride street festival - 2013-06-09

muscular asian in briefs 001 - DC Capital Pride street festival - 2013-06-09

Sunday, June 9, 2013

homo moto boy - DC Capital Pride parade - 2013-06-08

There are 164 photos of the D.C. Capital Pride parade uploaded to my Flickr site. More may be uploaded in the coming week or two, as I have another 1005 to go through (some are poor, some repetitive, and some might be good).

Check 'em out here.

blow me some kisses - DC Capital Pride parade - 2013-06-08

secrets-ziegfelds 008 - Christian Lezzil - DC Capital Pride parade - 2013-06-08

everybody is different - DC Capital Pride parade - 2013-06-08

centurion 002 - DC Capital Pride parade - 2013-06-08

undercover - DC Capital Pride parade - 2013-06-08

happy helper - DC Capital Pride parade - 2013-06-08

after pride 004 - DC Capital Pride parade - 2013-06-08

A homophobic preacher was on Dupont Circle on June 8, spouting hell and damnation at the Capital Pride parade.

As the Washington Post reported this morning:
"blah blah blah blah..., said a man from McLean Bible Church who was debating with parade-goers. He spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to speak freely about a controversial subject."
WHAT?????? Anonymous?? So much for your suck-ass witnessing, you dickwad! You either believe in what you say and stand up for it, or you don't you witless witness. This only goes to show what a shallow, heretical "faith" you have. (Or lack, I'm not sure which.)

Interestingly, McLean Bible Church is the same goofy bunch that advertises relentlessly on local pop radio stations with their "not a sermon, just a thought" ads. They try to position themselves as non-preachy, modern, and middle-of-the-road. Then they come and preach hellfire at gay pride??


Friday, June 7, 2013

The D.C. Capital Pride Alliance needs donors. I've donated $1,000. If you'd like to donate, they really want your small donation ($10, $50, etc.) Donate here, and they could win a matching grant of $7,000:

The Capital Pride Alliance sponsors the Capital Pride street festival and parade, as well as a host of other events for LGBT people of all races, creeds, ages, and genders in May and June and throughout the year.

Everything this nonprofit does relies on donations. All of it.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

On June 6, 1944, the D-Day invasions began in Normandy, France.


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

With The Venture Bros. season premiere, fans were reminded to go watch the 2012 Halloween special to catch up on the things that occurred in the first 20 minutes of the show. I didn't need to do that, but I did go review the special later just for fun.

Damn, there is some funny writing on that show.
Dr. Venture: What are these, king size? Oh, no, no, no, no, no. We hadn out fun size here, Hatred.

Sgt. Hatred: Doc, we are 15 miles from the nearest house, we got an electric fence, motion sensitive laser defense modules... If a kid makes it to that front door, they're getting the big candy bar!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

I refuse to post these to the front page of Wikipedia any more. Someone else, however, thought the work was good and nominated it. I will post them here if that happens...
Did You Know ...that a British ambassador, a Polish pianist, and a Filipino president were once entombed at the USS Maine Mast Memorial, though none of them died when the ship exploded and sank?

Amini Fonua is the first Texas A&M University athlete to come out gay. He did it this year. A friend in a creative writing class needed to do a portrait piece, and Fornua agreed. And in doing so, he discussed his own coming-out process -- and came out to the entire TAMU community.

Fonua, who is from New Zealand, is a swimmer. He was the 2012 100-yard breaststroke Big 12 Champion with a school-record-setting time of 53.44 seconds.

Fonua's father is Tongan, and he not only competed for Tonga at the 2012 London Olympics -- he was the Tongan flag-bearer at the Olympics.
Not surprising: Yet another GOP post-mortem on the 2012 election shows that voters age 18-to-29 overwhelmingly reject the message of the Republican Party. It's the Four Rs: Racist, rigid, religious, rich.

The only thing allowing the GOP to keep seats in Congress is gerrymandering: It wins state legislative elections every 10 years (something the Democrats have yet to understand the importance of), which allows it to gerrymander progressive Congressional districts out of existence. Oh, sure, at some point, the rubber band will snap. But in the meantime, great damage is done to democracy as people lose faith in the system.

But the real issue is this: The GOP believes in the idea that lack of rules equates with freedom, and freedom is the highest goal. Because society does not want to return to the "state of nature" in which it's dog-eat-dog, some rules are necessary.

But what rules? This is where the GOP engages in simplistic campaigning, all the time, even to itself. "Smaller government, lower taxes." There is no discussion of what rules are necessary to avoid the "state of nature". It's mindless.

The GOP has also wed itself to religious conservatism, as if somehow the government-enforced imposition of "traditional" values fit the goal of maximal freedom. Is if, somehow, "traditional" values were by default the best values... as if old age and creakiness determined quality.

The whole point of a democracy is that "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" cannot be defined. Any single choice of king/dictator/elite is likely to not be the one that will maximize those life, liberty, and happiness for the majority of people. The best alternative is democracy -- which still falls short, but is better than the imposition of elite rule.

But the great political thinkers of the Enlightenment never had to contend with multinational corporations, mass media, or the standing industrial army. Shouldn't it be time to rethink what rules are necessary to allow the maximum amount of freedom?

You'd think so. But the GOP does not. It remains wedded (I think for reasons of political convenience) to the religious right. And that dooms it to an embrace of "traditional" values -- and that includes traditional approaches to maximizing freedom.

And it is going to doom that political party.

Perhaps that is a good thing. It's not like America has thrown away political parties before. Remember the Whigs? They once elected Presidents and Congresses. Not any more.

Monday, June 3, 2013

I refuse to post these to the front page of Wikipedia any more. But I will post them here.
Did You Know ... that Shipstead-Luce Act gave the United States Commission of Fine Arts statutory authority to approve the height, appearance, and color and texture of materials for exterior construction of any building, public or private, erected in the District of Columbia?
landscapers 016 - 2013-05-17

landscapers 005 - 2013-05-17

We have the hottest landscaping crew at my apartment building. Woof.

landscapers 008 - 2013-05-17

landscapers 015 - 2013-05-17

landscapers 010 - 2013-05-17

landscapers 018 - 2013-05-17

landscapers 021 - 2013-05-17

landscapers 011 - 2013-05-17