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

November 08, 2017 - 12:05 p.m.

Democracy in New York City

My digestive system is still having issues. It's not indigestion, it's the Crohn's affecting me in a new way. Tomorrow is NERFA so I must be better by then. I went out yesterday and I ate with a healthy appetite, I should be OK, it's just discomfort.

Yesterday was social, I made dates with two friends, a third was a bonus. First, I met Bri at 10. That meant leaving here at 8:30 which is why I didn't update yesterday. 8:30 is when I usually get up. I decided that sleep was more important that home cooking, so I grabbed breakfast at Dunkin' Donuts. I had a free drink coming to me, so I splurged and had a large cappuccino with a turboshot of espresso. Sleepiness was not an issue. They also had a deal on bacon, egg, and cheese, on a croissant, two for $5. They are usually one for $4. I couldn't resist. I told you that I had a healthy appetite.

Then I went down to Penn Station to meet Bri; I'm going to promote her photography at NERFA. We met so she could give me postcards to sell her services. Her work was illustrated by a picture of Carolann Solebello. The main reason she came into the City was to do a shoot with Carolann. This was a business trip; hanging out with me was just a bonus or the cost of doing business depending on your outlook. For me it was a bonus. We didn't do anything just talked as we went down to Mark Dann's studio where she is recording her new album.

It's been way too long since I've seen Bri, she's a booster of my happiness and mental health. As you might have guessed the bonus friend was Carolann. When we got to the studio the directions to get in didn't seem to have any relationship with what was at the door. Bri was giving a code, there was no place to enter codes. We tried calling the studio, nobody answered. Bri texted Carolann and she came down to let her in. The building had two entrances, we were at the wrong one. I thought of that and looked but didn't walk far enough down the block. Bri and Carolann hugs are a good way to start a day.

When I made the plan with Bri I decided to amortize the time it takes to make a trip to the City and made a lunch date with Dan. He works down by Bowling Green. I have always loved the Bull statue and used to visit it when I was in the area. Then it became a tourist magnet. Now it is always hidden by a curtain of people. When they added the statue of the Fearless Girl I wanted to get a picture but have never been able to get one without a crowd. I came up with a cunning plan. There should be days or at least hours where tourists are banned from the statues so New Yorkers can properly appreciate them. Dan asked how to determine who a New Yorker is. I came up with a simple test; you asked what the name of the street that's is the north border of SoHo. If they say, "Hyoo-ston" they are not allowed.

Dan and I went to a Chinese Buffet. I had a spare rib and many kinds of chicken. It was about 20 lbs of food. Like I said, healthy appetite. I asked if the The Lords of Liechtenstein needed a photographer and he said yes. I gave him one of Bri's postcards I'm on the job.

After lunch with Dan I went to Trader Joe's and had my two failures of the day. First, I forgot to bring a shopping bag. Then I forgot to buy spiced apple cider. When I got home I finished the last of the cider in the fridge. I'll have to buy more when I get home from NERFA.

When I got back to City Island my I was back to efficient planning. I took the bus two extra stops to the school to vote. I have to call the Board of Elections to complain about the woman in charge my voting district. When I arrived, she asked me for ID. I explained that she's not allowed to do that. She asked for it again. I said it's illegal. Then she said it was just, so she knows how to spell my name. I tried to explain that is not a good enough reason, that this is an important issue that people are fighting for. She gave me a "Why do I get the troublemaker's look," and said, then you'll have to spell your name. I never need to spell my name, it's spelled just as it's pronounced but I did. I'm sure she went back to asking people for ID. This should be part of the training. It probably is, and she didn’t pay attention.

As is my tradition I did write-in votes for uncontested offices; this time those were all judgeships. It's my way of protesting undemocratic one-party rule even when the one party is mine, the Democratic party. I wrote in Jane, Bernie, me, Daenerys Targaryen, Tyrion Lannister, and Jon Snow. I misspelled Dany's name; I hope that doesn't cost her the election.

I'm a Democrat living in a Democratic city and this was only the third time the candidate for mayor that I voted for won. Koch, Giuliani and Bloomberg each one three times and I never voted for them. David Dinkins and our current mayor, Bill DiBlasio are the only winners I voted for.

I remembered to turn the ballot over to vote for the propositions. The ballot is very poorly designed, the arrows pointing to flip it over were small and inconspicuous. On the reverse side, the ones with the propositions the arrows were large and prominent. This might have been deliberate, New York is famous for making voting difficult. When voting for a proposition voting "no" means you are voting FOR the change. The wording is deliberately obscure. The thing is I can't think of a motive for making it difficult vote on the propositions at all. It could just be bad design.

The big issue was Proposition 1 calling for a Constitutional Convention. The state's constitution has a clause calling for a referendum on holding a Con Con every 20 years. Good government groups were split on it. The state's government is rife with corruption and the senate won't support anti-corruption legislation. Gerrymandering is so severe that no one in either house has to worry about winning re-election. Since the legislature won't make these changes then people reason we need a Con Con to enact them.

The problem is the convention can do anything. They could get rid of the protections for the Adirondack Park which now must be kept, "Forever Wild." NARAL is afraid of attacks on abortion rights. This is New York, I am not afraid of that, but I am afraid of special interests which are highly motivated inserting clauses that will prove harmful. I'm also afraid that term limits would be enacted which I find anti-democratic. The thing is that the decision to vote yes or no is close and complex, yet people feel very strongly about it. This is tribalism, "everyone is against it, so it must be bad."

The key thing for me is that the necessary changes can be made without a Con Con but through the normal amendment procedures. I voted for the amendment that will let politicians convicted for felonies involving their misuse of their offices to lose their pensions.

Today I'm going to rest and hope my digestive system takes care of itself. I should have time to blog before leaving for NERFA tomorrow. If not, you'll hear from me again on Monday.





Grading Essays at NERFA - November 16, 2017
The Fifth Day of NERFA - November 15, 2017
You Need to Hear These People! - November 14, 2017
The Court Fool of NERFA - November 13, 2017
NERFA Ball - November 12, 2017



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