Florida Man Bans Spectrum of Visible Light

Nature Being Naughty–Illegal in Florida Schools

July 1 begins the “Don’t Say GAY” law for Flori-duh schools. The first victim is unfortunately light. Rainbow images (aka, the visible spectrum) are explicitly banned from public schools, in the form of stickers, clothes, jewelry, what have you. Is this a symbol of the darkness that is falling across our once free country?

I hope some film class includes the classic Hepburn-Grant movie Bringing Up Baby, where Cary Grant, while wearing a woman’s robe, jumps in the air and explains, “I just went GAY all of a sudden.” I would feel bad about Physics teachers who can’t show a picture of the visible spectrum, but it is hard to imagine a physics textbook that doesn’t have one. The optics wouldn’t look right.

Even better, teachers of Florida, resign in masse. Let the Goobernor deal with that.

Early Happy Fourth–Thomas Jefferson on Judicial Supremacy

In 1807, President Thomas Jefferson was “commanded” by Supreme Court Justice–and his cousin–John Marshall to appear at the trial of Aaron Burr, who was charged with treason (Marshall was the presiding judge at the trial). Jefferson said, thanks but no thanks, and replied to Marshall thusly, essentially saying “make me.”

As to our personal attendance at Richmond, I am persuaded the court is sensible that paramount duties to the nation at large control the obligation of compliance with its summons in this case, as it would should we receive a similar one to attend the trials of Blennerhassett and others in the Mississippi territory, those instituted at St Louis and other places on the western waters, or at any place other than the seat of government. To comply with such calls would leave the nation without an executive branch, whose agency nevertheless is understood to be so constantly necessary that it is the sole branch which the constitution requires to be always in function. It could not, then, intend that it should be withdrawn from its station by any co-ordinate authority.

Jefferson’s Letters

Note the use of the words “co-ordinate authority,” which is the polite Jeffersonian way of saying, “you’re not the boss of me.” Jefferson held that, in line with the Constitution, that all branches of government are co-equal, and that no un-elected official, or any other kind, was going to be allowed to issue kingly orders down from on high. Jefferson thought that it should take two out of the three branches of government, to over-rule the third. For what it’s worth, after Jefferson refused to be Marshall’s errand boy, Marshall found Burr to be not guilty.

After his retirement, Jefferson was not so polite about judicial kings-in-the making. From one of his private letters, he explained:

At the establishment of our constitutions, the judiciary bodies were supposed to be the most helpless and harmless members of the government. Experience, however, soon showed in what way they were to become the most dangerous; that the insufficiency of the means provided for their removal gave them a freehold and irresponsibility in office.

Jefferson’s Letters

No one can say we weren’t warned.

Bottlebrush Buckeye

I Say Ha! to the Heat

Need a late spring/summer blooming temperate forest shrub? This native could be the ticket. Two varieties of this species spread out the bloom period for a potential month and a half, and the plant doesn’t care if the highs are in the seventies, or like today, in the nineties.

In the wild, Bottlebrush Buckeye is found primarily in Alabama and Georgia, but it is now grown in Zones 4-8. The plant pictured is the earlier blooming “species” variety that was at peak bloom last week, when it was pummeled by 4+inches of rain in one day, and it still looks as pictured. Soon the second variety, often sold as var. Serotina, will begin to bloom, and will continue blooming into July. We have one of those as well, and it will bloom into July. Northern gardeners have reported later periods of bloom stretching into August.

A huge population of wild var. Serotina plants are growing just about three miles from here, south of Garden City, right along the edges of US Highway 31. Every few years Alabama Power will cut them down to the ground under the power line that runs to Blount Springs, which somehow or other rejuvenates the plants. Within in a few years the blooms will be spectacular, with limestone boulders interspersed with hundred foot long colonies of plants, and blooms hanging out over the road from steep hillsides. Unfortunately this section of highway is known for some spectacular wrecks, though they have never been attributed to drivers rubbernecking the plants.

Book Banning Season is Open for All to Enjoy

A Book in a Fur-in Language? Gott in Himmel!

The positive part of book bans is often overlooked, as a significant part of the population only thinks about books when they hear that some have been banned. I even taught a World Literature survey class once where everything on the syllabus was available in the erotica section of a large bookstore in Montgomery. Every work had been banned at one time or context or another, and some are still banned by the holier than thou. Interest in the class increased greatly when I informed the students of these facts.

The list of my top five to be recommended for censorship was not easy to compile, but I started and ended with Southern writers, as the South has been around the block a few times on this issue.

5) The Thomas Jefferson Bible

If King James could have his own special version of the Bible, why couldn’t Mr. Jefferson? The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth was his second attempt at distilling the Bible down to its essence. That it is only 84 pages long says all you need to know. My personal bible would include both the stories about Judith and Holofernes (see the famous painting by Artemisia Gentileschi, Judith Beheading Holofernes), and most importantly, the one where Jesus stretched too short wood to the proper length in Joseph’s workshop. No one would read that one either.

4) Gargantua and Pantagruel, by Francois Rabelais

What’s not to love about two giants wreaking havoc all over France and Europe? The Church didn’t think this first bestseller of fiction was very funny, and Rabelais needed the protection of the Queen of Navarre to avoid execution, on the basis of his assertion that giants can be born through their mother’s ears. Of course the priest named Friar John of the Funnels, who was always drunk, didn’t strike them as humorous either. Always a favorite in my World Lit class, but don’t teach this in Floriduh.

3) Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself

Slavery and American history? Sounds all woke to me. That Douglass was criticized for writing that religious slave owners were the worst ones, says all you need to know about pre-civil war America. People, please go back to sleep, and don’t tell this to Florida man if you ever wake up.

2) The Sorrows of Young Werther, by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

This masterpiece of Sturm and Drang (storm and stress) is all about love, and suicide at a young age. Banned by Italy and Denmark as a bad influence on the young, the city of Leipzig in the German part of the Holy Roman Empire also banned the style of clothes that the fictional Werther wore. Now that’s a real ban, German style.

1) To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

Yikes! A young girl who wears boy’s clothes and goes by the name of Scout. Named by NPR as America’s favorite novel, it has racism, profanity, and gender confusion, all under an oak tree in south Alabama. Remember when Scout said to “pass the damn ham” at the family dinner table? Hardly a flattering depiction of Southern girl-hood. Also, don’t forget that scary Boo Radley. I am the proud owner of the first printing of this book, which is in the picture above.

After all that thinking, which may well be illegal soon enough, I am going to relax and read a comforting banned book.

1963–Three Reverends Walk into a Restaurant in Georgia

Wait–Those are anti-war Russian Kids who were Sent to the Slammer this Week–see the NPR Story about Them

There were no midgets in this group of clergy–alphabetically, they were Ralph Abernathy, Martin Luther King Jr, and Fred Shuttlesworth. I learned about this incident reading the brilliant book Carry Me Home by Diane McWhorter. Here’s the cover.

Looks Familiar–Birmingham Kids Headed to the Slammer in 1963

The brains of the group, Shuttlesworth of Birmingham, had gone to Georgia to propose a protest, that was to become one of the most famous in world history, which he called Project C. It involved occupying the lunch counters in Birmingham, using his trademark tactic of “direct action.” Neither of the other two had ever participated in a direct action protest. Unfortunately, Shuttlesworth missed his plane back to Alabama.

I’ll quote McWhorter from this point:

Chafing to catch his flight back to Birmingham, Shuttlesworth asked King and Abernathy to drive him to Savannah. Arriving at the airport just as the plane for Birmingham was taking off, King said with humorous sympathy, “Ralph, I believe Fred has missed his plane.” Inside the terminal, Shuttlesworth said, “Gentlemen, I’m powerful hungry,” and led them into the all-white lunch room, instructing them, “Leave some stools between us. Some white folks may want to sit down.” To the waitress who was sullenly ignoring the leaders of the civil rights movement, Shuttlesworth called, “Little lady, if you don’t want your airport to make the history books, you better serve me.” But the only record for posterity was the rolls of surveillance film that the FBI shot of the SCLC member’s coming and goings at the airport, assuming the revolutionary plot being hatched at Dorchester to be Marxist-Leninist.

Carry Me Home

J. Edgar Hoover was something like the Putin of American history–that is, when he wasn’t playing dress up with his boyfriend. The line between the Klan, the FBI, and the police was practically invisible in Birmingham in the early 60’s, which was often compared to Berlin in the late 1930’s. All wanted to portray the civil rights movement as being communists, who wanted to take away white people’s places at the lunch counter. Thus few of the fifty bombings that happened there were ever solved, the last notable one claiming the life of Federal Judge Robert Vance. His daughter in law Joyce is now a news analyst for MSNBC.

I have to admire all the kids in those two pictures, but my favorite is the girl wearing the toboggan. She looks like she is mad enough to eat Putin’s lunch. I hope she does.

The Gazpacho Police Are Coming for You

The South is famous for such things as laid back folks, college sports, good food, a variable climate, and elected officials of questionable intellectual capacity. One, in fact, fears that a Spanish soup is trying to hunt her down.

The honorable US Representative for northwest Georgia apparently doesn’t know from Gazpacho. She stated, in her typical ranting fashion, that the Speaker of the House was sicking the Gazpacho police on her. I am of the firm conviction that a Gazpacho bath would be the best remedy for removing any skunk smell that a person might have.

Some countries do in fact have food police, in particular, Italy (sorry Spain, but we had to switch countries). The Carabinieri (think Italian FBI), which is actually part of the Italian Army, in fact has an agricultural division, that enforces Italian and EU food laws. Olive oil fraud is a major illegal activity in Italy, (author Tom Mueller estimates that 75-80% of the extra virgin oil sold in the US is fake) and wine is the number ten export. So the Carabinieri are charged with everything from dealing with organized crime to enforcing European Union Egg Directive 1028, which requires inspection and labeling of eggs. Italians really hate that last one.

Which in a round about way brings me to the topic of Ur-Fascism, a term coined by the great Italian writer Umberto Eco. His 1995 essay of the same title, published in The New York Review of Books, has become justifiably famous. Eco recalls winning a writing award given by the Italian Fascistas when he was only ten. He said all he had to do was agree with them.

The distinction Eco makes is between Italian Ur-Fascism and Nazism. Ur-Fascists are dangerous, but almost comically incompetent. Unlike the single minded and ruthlessly efficient Nazi party, the Ur-Fascists were and are primarily interested in lining their pockets and running off at the mouth. My favorite sentence from the essay has to be the following: “Mussolini did not have any philosophy: he had only rhetoric.” From that point, Eco outlines his analysis of fascist rhetoric, now usually called the Fascist playbook. Don’t read it and then watch the news, and really don’t dare to watch C-span afterward.

So we should probably add one party rule and Ur-Fascism as a Southern trait. Recently both Alabama and Mississippi were ranked as two of the most corrupt states in the Union by a good government group. Alabama is using Covid relief money to build new prisons, while having a former football coach as a senator, who couldn’t name the three branches of the US government when asked. He should have punted.

The South, everything from soup to nuts. Especially the nuts.

Escaped Alabama Kangaroo Lured Home with Pabst Blue Ribbon

I’m going to read any story that involves a Kangaroo and beer, and it’s even better when it happened in my home county of Cullman. In mid January Jackie Legs escaped from a farm that raises long horn cattle and tortoises. If I were Dave Barry, I would have to say that I am not making this up.

In addition to the PBR, the extra treat for the roo were cheese puffs, which apparently go great with the beer. It is not known if the owner tried this while drinking one of those giant cans of Fosters.

According to a local news station, “Jackie is wearing a dog collar, is very friendly toward people and will get into a truck.” Therefore, if you see Jackie at some point in the future, just pull a cold one out of the cooler in your F-150, and hide your cheese puffs.

Thomas Jefferson on the Public Interest and Judicial Supremacy

Thomas Jefferson ignored the Supreme Court whenever he felt like it, especially when the rulings were made by Arch-Federalist John Marshall. In his old age he summed up his feelings about the aristocratic status that judges had acquired.

At the establishment of our constitutions, the judiciary bodies were supposed to be the most helpless and harmless members of the government. Experience, however, soon showed in what way they were to become the most dangerous; that the insufficiency of the means provided for their removal gave them a freehold and irresponsibility in office.

Thomas Jefferson

Naturally, he always pointed to the fact that there are actually supposed to be three co-equal branches of the government, as mandated by the US Constitution–none is supposed to have carte blanche over the others. What a concept–democracy.

Now we have six unelected, Ivy League pseudo-educated religious bigots, deciding what the law is and is not. King George the Third looks like a little league dude compared to this arrogant bunch of buffoons, and the amount of power that they have usurped..

We have yet another Voltaire moment imposed on us, Voltaire being the writer whose bust just happens to be in the main hall at Monticello. We must cultivate our own gardens, and not recognize the corporate lackeys that have been installed as judges. I no longer shop at Wal-Mart and other equally repulsive big box stores, and I have never even considered having any dealings with a travesty like FarceBook. Take their money away, and watch them collapse.

We may very well lose the right to have majority rule, if we haven’t already. We can still always vote with our feet.

Hoya! Empty Shelves and Hyper-Inflation

Anyone who reads this blog with any regularity will know what Hoya! means. It’s the stuff you don’t want to step in whilst in the Horse barn, or any other barn, for that matter. These days, I can’t even look at the news media on the interwebs without having a bushel of Hoya! chunked at me.

My two favorites–empty shelves and hyper-inflation. I have actually seen one empty shelf at the supermarket, but that was a year ago when all the toilet paper hoarding was going on. Even then, it wasn’t completely empty–some brands remained in stock. As I am not a a fan of any particular kind of this sanitary product, I grabbed some and left. No harm and no foul.

Gas prices? They have gone up, but buy a Prius like ours, and you won’t notice or care. We still have to buy a tank of gas every couple of months, but it is usually in the twenty buck range. Stop driving your Ford Extinction, and get over the worries.

And then there is the all-time world champion, the fate of the un-vaccinated. They are in fact dying like flies, but if you live with the intelligence of a fly, you are probably going to die like one. The CDC can issue all the mask guidelines it wants, but as the cliche goes, you can’t cure stupid. As my hero Forrest Gump said, “Stupid is as stupid does.”

In short, I am going to have to go back to one of my favorite writers, the nineteenth century American philosopher Charles Sanders Pierce. He devised the most famous definition of the formation of a hypothesis, a procedure he named “abduction.” An astute person applies a general rule to a particular problem, and acts according, though the general rule MUST BE BASED ON FACTS AND REALITY, if it is to be useful. Four vaccinations later (three Covid and one flu), and I have not grown a single crocodile scale, or truthfully, even had a single noticeable side effect.

Maybe that is just me, but as HD Thoreau said, I don’t know anyone else nearly as well as myself.

December 16–Pizza al Fresco

Mangia

Yes, winter in the age of climate disruption. Technically this was late late last fall, but with temps in the mid 70’s, it might as well have been late late spring. In this situation, the only thing to do is light up the brick oven, and eat some pizza outside.

Our pizza sauce has evolved over the years, and I will simply list the secret ingredients, soon to be secret no more. Here it goes:

Balsamic Vinegar

Garlic Paste

Italian Tomato Paste in a Tube (like the Garlic Paste)

Homemade Pesto, frozen in an ice cube tray

Home canned local Tomatoes

It is possible to screw up the sauce even with these ingredients, but it can only be accomplished with some difficulty. Go easy on the vinegar and the paste, and all’s well that eats well.

I will resist the temptation to make another bad joke about Al Fresco. I could hurt his feelings.

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