Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Original Sin and the US Constitution?

Nothing rankles me more than the Original Sin argument about the United States and the Constitution. That we were founded upon Slavery. Quite the opposite is true. We were founded as a nation based on the stated notion that protection for slavery would only last until 1807, and further, that there could be no Amendment to change that date or goal. Read it. Article 1 Section 9.

So, in the very first Article of the US Constitution there is not only an acknowledgment of the evils of slavery, which was part of the system handed down to us by Britain, there is also a stated date for the cessation of importation of more slaves. This was the only way to get the 13 colonies to agree on the Constitution. And, yes, after 1807 we did have the misguided Missouri Compromise and the Kansas-Nebraska Act. I say misguided because attempting to compromise with something like slavery is just that; at the very least.

But by 1861 it all came to a head, as it was bound to, and 685,000 Americans, North and South, died to finally end slavery. Was it instantaneously successful? Of course not. But, the point is that we kept hammering it until it took proper shape and today we live in a world which has more slaves than we, as a nation, ever held in bondage.

Is there still work to do? "In order to form a more perfect Union" there always will be. But Original Sin? Sorry, you'll have to peddle that line elsewhere.....

Saturday, July 6, 2019

The Birds at River Oaks Drive

The birds here at my new house at first might look the same,
rats with wings, fleeting things, although not quite so tame.
They may fly, sing, soar and squawk and even sound the same,
But the birds back at the old place, put these new ones to shame.

Yes, they may be more colorful, plentiful and varied.
But I'd trade these yellow finches for the way the robin carried
her dignity, her poise, her noise, the way she never tarried,
Building a nest on my back porch screen for the robin she had married.    

These new birds live in the woods and come soaring down for seed.
They play and fuss and sometimes fight, all to feed their greed.
The blue birds chase the cardinals who have gathered here to feed,
They chase them off but can't eat now, with the finches filling their needs.

They remind me of corporate raiders, and the plots they often hatch,
But instead of penthouse suites they make their plans from a nest of thatch. 
So I really miss the old birds, the ones I used to watch. 
Though the new ones might be colorful, they're simply not a match....

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Every Day with Sue

Every evening when day is done
your eyes are as the setting sun;
soothing, cooling; but still afire,
with a blazing flame I still admire.

Happy Anniversary, Sue.
33 years and counting....

Sunday, June 23, 2019

The Sun, the Moon and the Stars.

The moon and stars were talking one day,
The Sun was shining too bright.
He made them look dull some folks would say
So they banished him into the night.

The Sun didn't agree and hated his plight
So, he came up with a plan.
He'd rule the day and then sent them away,
To see what they could see without light.

And that is the reason why right to this day,
You never see them together.
While one is setting, the other one's rising,
and all agree it's been the for better......

--------------------------------------
Revised Version

The moon and stars were talking one day,
the Sun was shining too bright.
He made them look dull some folks would say,
so, they banished him into the night.

The Sun didn't agree and hated his plight
and so he refused to stay
Let them see what they could without light,
he thought as he turned them away.

And that is the reason why up to this writing,
you seldom see them together.
While one is setting, the other one's rising,
and all agree it's been for the better......

(For Sarah Ruth)

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Settled Law and a Living Constitution

We are often told that we have a "living" constitution. I am a moderate and agree with this assessment. After all, if it were not so, we would still be living with a permanent decision in the Dred Scott case. Nobody is in favor of that.

A "living" constitution has given us most of the freedoms we enjoy today. Many of them are bundled within the 14th Amendment, which is somewhat akin to placing all your eggs in one basket. But that's another story......

This year there has been a sea change in our society surrounding the Roe v Wade decision, which was made under the auspices of the 14th Amendment. Several states, almost half at this point, have passed new restrictions on abortion, leading the Pro Choice crowd to talk of "settled law."

While I am pro choice, I am also a Constitutionlist and a believer in a "living" Constitution. After all, it was this belief in a "living" Constitution upon which Roe v Wade was predicated and upheld.

Settled Law implies that once the Supreme Court decides an issue, then it's settled. Court nominees have had to convince Congress that they believe Roe v Wade to be settled law. I do not believe in "settled" law.

So, how do I merge both beliefs, which may seem to be in opposition to one another? Let's explore this.....

A Living Constitution implies that changes made by Amendment will apply as the people change and society grows.

Some people will be saying that the changes to abortion law are all part of a "living Constitution", and there is merit in that argument.

Others will opine that "Settled" Law means there can be no changes made to law after a Supreme Court decision has been rendered. There is also some merit to that view.

To really decide this issue you have to look at which changes by Amendment have been successful and which have not. You don't have to look very far for the example. It was the Volstead Act, the 18th Amendment in 1920. It was a failure and repealed by the 21st Amendment in 1933.

Here then, is the dilemma we face.

If we believe in settled law then we should still have slavery under Dred Scott, or Separate but Equal. Since "settled" law is not possible with an amendable Constitution, we don't have those things anymore.

So, we would have to say we don't believe in settled law. We believe in a "living" Constitution which changes with the needs of the people. (Notice I say "needs" and not "wants.")

People wanted Prohibition, just as they once approved of slavery. We are not populists. So, the "living" Constitution is capable of changing its mind, just as it did with the Volstead Act.

This may seem as being in agreement with a reversal of Roe v Wade under the 14th Amendment, but it wouldn't be true.

The big difference in all of this argument, and the point which most often goes unsaid, is that "settled" law has only always applied to our being granted more rights under the law.

The one time they tried to use the Bill of Rights, which is comprised of all 27 Amendments, to tell us what we could not do, was a failure and needed to be reversed.

Abortion is a right granted, not removed. As such, "settled" law is not contradictory to our "living" Constitution. It is compatible with it.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Pi Day

We all take Pi for granted. It’s loaded into our computers and calculators for us, and we use it in equations all the time without ever thinking of it beyond it's formulaic utility. Some years ago, while working as an estimator of utilities, I found it necessary; or maybe desirable; to understand the exact meaning of Pi and how it worked in relation to the circle.

Having failed at the subject all through high school, and even before that, I had this “fear” of math brought on by my parent’s assertions that I was not able to understand the subject. I was, like my mother; and remember, it was my mother who said it; used to tell me, “You take after me and I could never understand math. But you can read well, and your brother can’t.” What a stupid statement to make to any child, even your own! Water under the bridge. Having navigated around the world, by sextant, in the days before Nav Sats etc., I can truly say that I am perfectly capable of working out any mathematical problem thrown my way. The failure was in the teaching method.

Had they wanted to really engage my passion all they would have had to do was make the problems relevant to real life. Like, you are on a ship and headed in this direction for 8 days at so many mils per hour. How far have you gone? That would have got me interested. And by high school, rather than the mundane tasks of geometry and trigonometry, nautical astronomy would have proven more effective at teaching not only both of those subjects, but given the student a true perspective of just where we were on the terrestrial plane, and also how insignificant we actually are; individually, or collectively, in the grand scheme of things.

What is Pi? 3. 14159 is the most common answer. Then browse Wikipedia for what that means. Ask the “math” student in your family. The answers you get will all be concerned with the number rather than what it really means, or stands for. That was the purpose of charting it, as I did above, almost 40 years ago while estimating the volume of pipe necessary to hold a specific amount of water. I used a 6” pipe for the example, mostly because it was easily equated to decimal form, and I had a boatload of 6” pipe on hand.

But I kept running into Pi while figuring it out, and then rechecking my figures. So, I did what Captain Ellison used to tell us at the Baltimore School of Navigation; “Draw it out!” And, I did. And while putting some of my papers in order a few years ago; I actually did that; I ran across this and decided to post it for posterity.

In short, while Pi represents the factor used to determine the area within a circle, by careful calculation; and drawing the problem out; it becomes apparent that Pi actually represents .785% of the area of any circle. Will this change the world as we know it? I hardly think so. But it is an example of the beauty and perfection of numbers.

While I have rounded off the number to obtain this new factor, it should not pose any real problems for any calculations confined to construction, travel etc. Would I use it to build a spaceship and plan a trip to Mars? Hardly. But for the average needs of an estimator; or carpenter; this factor works out just fine.

I hope someone finds this useful and lets me know! Pi for now!

Note: Though I was able to find something about the factor .785 referenced on line; and one fellow even describes drawing a square with a circle inside the perimeters; I still find this explanation and diagram easier to follow.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Daffodils



See the pretty daffodils,
they grow in gardens;
grow on hills.

Unless the wind blows
they stand still;
like Guardians of the spring.

🌞


Photo by Sarah Ruth Williams - Chapel Hill, NC