I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe

The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken

Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
-Bertrand Russell

What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell

December 24, 2014 - 1:07 p.m.

A Modest Proposal

Wow it's almost noon and I haven't started writing an I can't eat till I'm done. That's what you call incentive.

So today I have things to write about but it's Christmas Eve so nobody is going to read it. But no matter. There's a great scene in A Night to Remember, the classic film about the Titanic. As has become legendary the band played while the ship was sinking. One of the musicians asked, "Why are we playing? Nobody is listening." And the leader says, "Nobody listens during dinner either." I think of that every time there's an inattentive audience. In the end you make art for yourself, to fulfill your inner needs, a dreamer has to dream.

What did I do yesterday? I went food shopping, got Taylor ham and bacon, and had dinner at Heather's. This time she cooked. Then we watched TV, the latest episode of The Librarians. It was incredibly neuro. They had to rescue Santa Claus. I won't go as far as calling it good.

Oh if forgot, there's an idiot story. Know why I forgot? Come on this is easy. I just gave it away. I forgot because I'm an idiot. I left the house, got on the subway, went to check something on my phone, and …. realized I left my phone at home. This could have been trouble as Heather's doorbell is almost subaudible. I usually call when I get there. I lucked out because she was near the bell when I rang up.

Getting home was an adventure. When I have my phone I check the MTA Bus Time website to see when the next bus is. I didn't have mine so I used Heather's but she doesn't have it bookmarked. That wasted a few minutes. When I got connected I saw I had to leave immediately but that meant putting on my shoes and a few layers of clothing. I ran down the steps and outside. OK I don't run but I walked quickly. But then I saw the bus and I did run. I missed it. But then I saw another bus right behind it. If it had stopped I'd have made it but of course it didn't stop because nobody was on it. Heather is only a few stops from the terminal. Everyone waiting got on the first bus. So the second bus was running empty and serving absolutely no purpose. Why did they sent it out a minute after the first bus? They should have held it. And why is made clear. I had to wait 55 minutes for the next bus. Oh and that was immediately followed by another one. The dispatchers did a terrible job. It didn't help that it was cold and drizzling If I had my phone I'd have seen I had a long wait and taken the subway even though that's usually longer if I had I'd have been home before the next bus came.

I had trouble writing yesterday as I have problems. But if I take notes I always have things to write about as my mind is always racing someplace. It isn't always dwelling on disaster. Here are a few places my mind went.

In the wake of the cop shooting in Bedford Stuyvesant some people including the President of the PBA, Patrick J. Lynch, have blamed the murder on the people protesting the Eric Garner and Michael Brown killings and called for an end to the protests. But it isn't just him it's become a right wing trope. This despite the fact that the shooter, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, was not part of the protests. I didn't see these same people calling for the end of anti-abortion protests after the numerous bombings and assassinations and those killers did come out of the protest movement. They were not unstable people who had spent their lives in an out of jail and just shot their girlfriends. It is total hypocrisy. Many treat these killers as heroes, nobody I calling Brinsley a martyr. There's universal agreement that what he did was wrong and that there is no justification.

But I am wondering about the efficacy of continuing the protest. At this point I don't know what they can hope to achieve. There is no policy prescription that the protestors are fighting for. What they could achieve is the knowledge that the killings of black by police without fear for punishment is not acceptable. That's been done. Further protests might make things work by keeping police in bunker mentality, us against them. What we need now is mutual understanding.

I think about things more random too. The majority of people voting in the 2012 congressional elections voted for Democrats but the Republicans controlled the house by a comfortable margin. I don't know the total votes in the last election but I do know they nowhere are close to the majority that the Republicans have in the House. Most of you will now say, "Gerrymandering!" And yes that goes on but it's not the main cause. Even without Gerrymandering the GOP would have controlled the house after 2012. The reason is demographics. Democrats are heavily concentrated in fewer areas. The Republicans have smaller majorities in more areas. So what's the solution? Many countries use proportional representation. Each party makes a list. If they get 55% of the votes then they get 55% of the legislators. So in a legislature had 100 members the top 55 people on the party's list would make it. I am never comfortable with that system. It has two problems. it puts too much power in the party leaders. Keeping your job depends on pleasing them and not the people. Secondly nobody protects the interests of localities and that's very important in a diverse country.

Some countries have a hybrid system. So let's return to the country with 100 legislators. Let's say they had voting by district and the party that got 55% of the vote won only 52% of the districts they'd get enough seats to get them to 55%. That is not 3 seats like ou might expect but 5 or 6. Five would give them 54.2% and six 55.6% so I'd go for six as that leaves it the closest. And to keep this out of the party leaders hands the extra seats could go to the six biggest vote getters among the losers though that would leave the district with two legislators. Even this has problems and I'm cautioned by the example of Hungary where a hybrid system was used to reinforce the dominance of the ruling party. It would also mean that the size of the legislature wouldn't be fixed as it would depend on the number of seats needed to bring proportionality.

Of course this would require a constitutional amendment and it will never happen. And it would still leave the totally unrepresentative Senate where a small state has as many senators as a large state. And that can't be change by amendment. Article 5 of the constitution contains, " … no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate." Of course that article can be amended so we could reform the senate but it would take two constitutional amendments. I'd be all for that. I'm not so sure about my proposal for the House. The problem now with demographics is temporary. It might sort itself out. I hope so.

OK so today I wrote a lot and nobody will read it but I'll know it's there. And now I can have Taylor ham!





Brother Brothers in Arms - October 01, 2017
Late to Bed and Late to Rise - September 30, 2017
On Your Feet or On Your Knees - September 29, 2017
Why Life Doesn't End on Closing Day - September 28, 2017
Anna and King of I Am - September 27, 2017



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Horvendile December 24, 2014
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