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Musings

  • I watched the SpaceX launch today, and I’ll be honest: I haven’t been this excited about a rocket launch since Challenger.  Good on Mister Musk and his team for making space fun again.
  • Yeah, launching a red convertible into solar orbit might seem like a frivolous thing to do, but you have to admit that it has style
  • I wonder how long the thing will be up there before it goes from ‘Wow, what a technological wonder’ to ‘Don’t touch it!  That’s a historical landmark!’ to ‘Will someone please do something about this navigation hazard?’
  • The latest book went off to the alpha readers today.  Hopefully, it’ll be ready to go by the end of March.
  • I started alpha reading a friend’s book that I’ve been neglecting while I finished up my own project.  Someday, I hope to write half as well as my friends.
  • Speaking of good writers, LawDog has a sample chapter from his first audiobook up.  I’ll admit it.  I read the blogposts, have a hard copy of the book, and I was still happy to spend an Audible credit to get this.  It’ll be a great book to listen to during drives.
  • I’m pretty sure that the next few months at work are not going to well and truly suck, but I am also sure that they won’t go as smooth as glass.  It’s trying to figure out at which end of that spectrum my life will be that’s giving me fits.

Musings

  • We slept in this morning.  Not ’til noon, of course, just a couple extra hours of slumber.
    • The dogs were ecstatic to see us, and very appreciative of us filling their food bowls.
    • The cats, on the other hand, gave me the stinky eye as I gave them their breakfast. If I’m not mistaken, they’ve spent the day complaining online about the service at our establishment.
  • Moonshine the Wonder Lab must have decided to cook his own second breakfast this morning, because Irish Woman was called to the kitchen by the clicking sound of our stove lighting and the faint smell of plastic burning.
    • She discovered one burner lit, but still trying to ignite, and a larger burner pumping raw gas out as fast as it could.
    • A plastic platter that I had set on the back of the stove had a hold burned through it and was making quite the smell.
    • Luckily, she caught it before it was a major problem.  However, I have now been tasked with finding a way to affix a spring to keep the baby gate to the kitchen closed.
    • This is, of course, after his adventure last week in which an entire platter of french toast disappeared after a brief incursion by our beloved pet into the food preparation area.
  • The rough draft of the latest story is done. I’m basking in that afterglow of “I got the story out” that ends when I start proofreading and find all of the warts on it that I can.
    • It’s not like anything I’ve done before, and I’m not even sure which genre it goes into.  We’ll see what it looks like after a few rereads.

Musings

  • Between raw water, colorful detergent packets, and modern country music, I really fear for the future of our nation.
  • When you’re researching three different things for writing projects at the same time, it makes for some really interesting dreams.
  • One of those dreams woke me up at 5 AM this morning, so I thought I’d take care of the animals so that they wouldn’t wake everyone else up.  I took the dogs out, fed them and the cats, then quietly went back to bed.
    • Irish Woman let me sleep in until 8:30.  When I went into the kitchen to wish her good morning, I saw Moonshine finishing his second breakfast.
    • Apparently the poor little pup had given her the “I’m starving” eyes.
    • I swear, that dog winked at me as he left the kitchen.
  • Maybe waiting half an hour to go out and see what Irish Woman was doing after I heard her pick up the snow shovel on the porch wasn’t very smart.
    • Of course, neither was saying “Wow, sweetheart, I didn’t know you knew how to shovel snow!”
    • She may or may not have considered seeing how well a snow shovel wrapped around my cranium.
  • The eternal question – Do I take the truck to the carwash or just wait for the weather to warm up so it rains like cats and dogs?

Thought for the Day

|| Federalist No. 10 || 

The Same Subject Continued: The Union as a Safeguard Against Domestic Faction and Insurrection
From the New York Packet.
Friday, November 23, 1787.

Author: James Madison

To the People of the State of New York:

AMONG the numerous advantages promised by a well-constructed Union, none deserves to be more accurately developed than its tendency to break and control the violence of faction. The friend of popular governments never finds himself so much alarmed for their character and fate, as when he contemplates their propensity to this dangerous vice. He will not fail, therefore, to set a due value on any plan which, without violating the principles to which he is attached, provides a proper cure for it. The instability, injustice, and confusion introduced into the public councils, have, in truth, been the mortal diseases under which popular governments have everywhere perished; as they continue to be the favorite and fruitful topics from which the adversaries to liberty derive their most specious declamations. The valuable improvements made by the American constitutions on the popular models, both ancient and modern, cannot certainly be too much admired; but it would be an unwarrantable partiality, to contend that they have as effectually obviated the danger on this side, as was wished and expected. Complaints are everywhere heard from our most considerate and virtuous citizens, equally the friends of public and private faith, and of public and personal liberty, that our governments are too unstable, that the public good is disregarded in the conflicts of rival parties, and that measures are too often decided, not according to the rules of justice and the rights of the minor party, but by the superior force of an interested and overbearing majority. However anxiously we may wish that these complaints had no foundation, the evidence, of known facts will not permit us to deny that they are in some degree true. It will be found, indeed, on a candid review of our situation, that some of the distresses under which we labor have been erroneously charged on the operation of our governments; but it will be found, at the same time, that other causes will not alone account for many of our heaviest misfortunes; and, particularly, for that prevailing and increasing distrust of public engagements, and alarm for private rights, which are echoed from one end of the continent to the other. These must be chiefly, if not wholly, effects of the unsteadiness and injustice with which a factious spirit has tainted our public administrations.

By a faction, I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or a minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adversed to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.

There are two methods of curing the mischiefs of faction: the one, by removing its causes; the other, by controlling its effects.

There are again two methods of removing the causes of faction: the one, by destroying the liberty which is essential to its existence; the other, by giving to every citizen the same opinions, the same passions, and the same interests.

It could never be more truly said than of the first remedy, that it was worse than the disease. Liberty is to faction what air is to fire, an aliment without which it instantly expires. But it could not be less folly to abolish liberty, which is essential to political life, because it nourishes faction, than it would be to wish the annihilation of air, which is essential to animal life, because it imparts to fire its destructive agency.

The second expedient is as impracticable as the first would be unwise. As long as the reason of man continues fallible, and he is at liberty to exercise it, different opinions will be formed. As long as the connection subsists between his reason and his self-love, his opinions and his passions will have a reciprocal influence on each other; and the former will be objects to which the latter will attach themselves. The diversity in the faculties of men, from which the rights of property originate, is not less an insuperable obstacle to a uniformity of interests. The protection of these faculties is the first object of government. From the protection of different and unequal faculties of acquiring property, the possession of different degrees and kinds of property immediately results; and from the influence of these on the sentiments and views of the respective proprietors, ensues a division of the society into different interests and parties.

The latent causes of faction are thus sown in the nature of man; and we see them everywhere brought into different degrees of activity, according to the different circumstances of civil society. A zeal for different opinions concerning religion, concerning government, and many other points, as well of speculation as of practice; an attachment to different leaders ambitiously contending for pre-eminence and power; or to persons of other descriptions whose fortunes have been interesting to the human passions, have, in turn, divided mankind into parties, inflamed them with mutual animosity, and rendered them much more disposed to vex and oppress each other than to co-operate for their common good. So strong is this propensity of mankind to fall into mutual animosities, that where no substantial occasion presents itself, the most frivolous and fanciful distinctions have been sufficient to kindle their unfriendly passions and excite their most violent conflicts. But the most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property. Those who hold and those who are without property have ever formed distinct interests in society. Those who are creditors, and those who are debtors, fall under a like discrimination. A landed interest, a manufacturing interest, a mercantile interest, a moneyed interest, with many lesser interests, grow up of necessity in civilized nations, and divide them into different classes, actuated by different sentiments and views. The regulation of these various and interfering interests forms the principal task of modern legislation, and involves the spirit of party and faction in the necessary and ordinary operations of the government.

No man is allowed to be a judge in his own cause, because his interest would certainly bias his judgment, and, not improbably, corrupt his integrity. With equal, nay with greater reason, a body of men are unfit to be both judges and parties at the same time; yet what are many of the most important acts of legislation, but so many judicial determinations, not indeed concerning the rights of single persons, but concerning the rights of large bodies of citizens? And what are the different classes of legislators but advocates and parties to the causes which they determine? Is a law proposed concerning private debts? It is a question to which the creditors are parties on one side and the debtors on the other. Justice ought to hold the balance between them. Yet the parties are, and must be, themselves the judges; and the most numerous party, or, in other words, the most powerful faction must be expected to prevail. Shall domestic manufactures be encouraged, and in what degree, by restrictions on foreign manufactures? are questions which would be differently decided by the landed and the manufacturing classes, and probably by neither with a sole regard to justice and the public good. The apportionment of taxes on the various descriptions of property is an act which seems to require the most exact impartiality; yet there is, perhaps, no legislative act in which greater opportunity and temptation are given to a predominant party to trample on the rules of justice. Every shilling with which they overburden the inferior number, is a shilling saved to their own pockets.

It is in vain to say that enlightened statesmen will be able to adjust these clashing interests, and render them all subservient to the public good. Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm. Nor, in many cases, can such an adjustment be made at all without taking into view indirect and remote considerations, which will rarely prevail over the immediate interest which one party may find in disregarding the rights of another or the good of the whole.

The inference to which we are brought is, that the CAUSES of faction cannot be removed, and that relief is only to be sought in the means of controlling its EFFECTS.

If a faction consists of less than a majority, relief is supplied by the republican principle, which enables the majority to defeat its sinister views by regular vote. It may clog the administration, it may convulse the society; but it will be unable to execute and mask its violence under the forms of the Constitution. When a majority is included in a faction, the form of popular government, on the other hand, enables it to sacrifice to its ruling passion or interest both the public good and the rights of other citizens. To secure the public good and private rights against the danger of such a faction, and at the same time to preserve the spirit and the form of popular government, is then the great object to which our inquiries are directed. Let me add that it is the great desideratum by which this form of government can be rescued from the opprobrium under which it has so long labored, and be recommended to the esteem and adoption of mankind.

By what means is this object attainable? Evidently by one of two only. Either the existence of the same passion or interest in a majority at the same time must be prevented, or the majority, having such coexistent passion or interest, must be rendered, by their number and local situation, unable to concert and carry into effect schemes of oppression. If the impulse and the opportunity be suffered to coincide, we well know that neither moral nor religious motives can be relied on as an adequate control. They are not found to be such on the injustice and violence of individuals, and lose their efficacy in proportion to the number combined together, that is, in proportion as their efficacy becomes needful.

From this view of the subject it may be concluded that a pure democracy, by which I mean a society consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person, can admit of no cure for the mischiefs of faction. A common passion or interest will, in almost every case, be felt by a majority of the whole; a communication and concert result from the form of government itself; and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party or an obnoxious individual. Hence it is that such democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths. Theoretic politicians, who have patronized this species of government, have erroneously supposed that by reducing mankind to a perfect equality in their political rights, they would, at the same time, be perfectly equalized and assimilated in their possessions, their opinions, and their passions.

A republic, by which I mean a government in which the scheme of representation takes place, opens a different prospect, and promises the cure for which we are seeking. Let us examine the points in which it varies from pure democracy, and we shall comprehend both the nature of the cure and the efficacy which it must derive from the Union.

The two great points of difference between a democracy and a republic are: first, the delegation of the government, in the latter, to a small number of citizens elected by the rest; secondly, the greater number of citizens, and greater sphere of country, over which the latter may be extended.

The effect of the first difference is, on the one hand, to refine and enlarge the public views, by passing them through the medium of a chosen body of citizens, whose wisdom may best discern the true interest of their country, and whose patriotism and love of justice will be least likely to sacrifice it to temporary or partial considerations. Under such a regulation, it may well happen that the public voice, pronounced by the representatives of the people, will be more consonant to the public good than if pronounced by the people themselves, convened for the purpose. On the other hand, the effect may be inverted. Men of factious tempers, of local prejudices, or of sinister designs, may, by intrigue, by corruption, or by other means, first obtain the suffrages, and then betray the interests, of the people. The question resulting is, whether small or extensive republics are more favorable to the election of proper guardians of the public weal; and it is clearly decided in favor of the latter by two obvious considerations:

In the first place, it is to be remarked that, however small the republic may be, the representatives must be raised to a certain number, in order to guard against the cabals of a few; and that, however large it may be, they must be limited to a certain number, in order to guard against the confusion of a multitude. Hence, the number of representatives in the two cases not being in proportion to that of the two constituents, and being proportionally greater in the small republic, it follows that, if the proportion of fit characters be not less in the large than in the small republic, the former will present a greater option, and consequently a greater probability of a fit choice.

In the next place, as each representative will be chosen by a greater number of citizens in the large than in the small republic, it will be more difficult for unworthy candidates to practice with success the vicious arts by which elections are too often carried; and the suffrages of the people being more free, will be more likely to centre in men who possess the most attractive merit and the most diffusive and established characters.

It must be confessed that in this, as in most other cases, there is a mean, on both sides of which inconveniences will be found to lie. By enlarging too much the number of electors, you render the representatives too little acquainted with all their local circumstances and lesser interests; as by reducing it too much, you render him unduly attached to these, and too little fit to comprehend and pursue great and national objects. The federal Constitution forms a happy combination in this respect; the great and aggregate interests being referred to the national, the local and particular to the State legislatures.

The other point of difference is, the greater number of citizens and extent of territory which may be brought within the compass of republican than of democratic government; and it is this circumstance principally which renders factious combinations less to be dreaded in the former than in the latter. The smaller the society, the fewer probably will be the distinct parties and interests composing it; the fewer the distinct parties and interests, the more frequently will a majority be found of the same party; and the smaller the number of individuals composing a majority, and the smaller the compass within which they are placed, the more easily will they concert and execute their plans of oppression. Extend the sphere, and you take in a greater variety of parties and interests; you make it less probable that a majority of the whole will have a common motive to invade the rights of other citizens; or if such a common motive exists, it will be more difficult for all who feel it to discover their own strength, and to act in unison with each other. Besides other impediments, it may be remarked that, where there is a consciousness of unjust or dishonorable purposes, communication is always checked by distrust in proportion to the number whose concurrence is necessary.

Hence, it clearly appears, that the same advantage which a republic has over a democracy, in controlling the effects of faction, is enjoyed by a large over a small republic,–is enjoyed by the Union over the States composing it. Does the advantage consist in the substitution of representatives whose enlightened views and virtuous sentiments render them superior to local prejudices and schemes of injustice? It will not be denied that the representation of the Union will be most likely to possess these requisite endowments. Does it consist in the greater security afforded by a greater variety of parties, against the event of any one party being able to outnumber and oppress the rest? In an equal degree does the increased variety of parties comprised within the Union, increase this security. Does it, in fine, consist in the greater obstacles opposed to the concert and accomplishment of the secret wishes of an unjust and interested majority? Here, again, the extent of the Union gives it the most palpable advantage.

The influence of factious leaders may kindle a flame within their particular States, but will be unable to spread a general conflagration through the other States. A religious sect may degenerate into a political faction in a part of the Confederacy; but the variety of sects dispersed over the entire face of it must secure the national councils against any danger from that source. A rage for paper money, for an abolition of debts, for an equal division of property, or for any other improper or wicked project, will be less apt to pervade the whole body of the Union than a particular member of it; in the same proportion as such a malady is more likely to taint a particular county or district, than an entire State.

In the extent and proper structure of the Union, therefore, we behold a republican remedy for the diseases most incident to republican government. And according to the degree of pleasure and pride we feel in being republicans, ought to be our zeal in cherishing the spirit and supporting the character of Federalists.

Musings

  • Poe’s Law – It is impossible to create a parody of extreme views so obviously exaggerated that it cannot be mistaken by some readers or viewers as a sincere expression of the parodied views.
    • Tom’s Corollary to Poe’s Law – It is impossible to tell the Gorilla Channel from Tom’s family home movies.
  • We binge watched the original Johnny Quest while we watched the snow fall yesterday.   There seem to be two categories of episodes in that series:
    • Those darn shifty foreigners are at it again.
    • Those people with bones in their noses want to kill us.
  • Girlie Bear and I had an in-depth conversation about such important subjects as the importance of using dark brown sugar or molasses in chocolate chip cookies, as well as the proper ratio of butter to peanut butter when making peanut butter cookies.
  • Irish Woman and I had a tense moment when I discovered that she had disposed of a bunch of bananas I was letting get rather soft so that I could make banana bread.  Her defense was that they were about to gain sentience and try to rally the rest of the kitchen against us.

Musings

  • I am officially too damned old for New Year’s Eve.  I was as sober as a judge all night, and went to bed at 9:30.
  • Our garbage men are going to hate us, because we have approximately 13 cubic yards of junk ready to go out to the curb.
  • I braved the nippy Kentucky weather yesterday to make a donut run, before I had coffee.  If that’s not love, I don’t know what is.
  • Girlie Bear knew she had gotten Boo a good book when he immediately ignored her so he could read the first 20 pages.
  • Took Irish Woman and Boo to see Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle this morning.  We figured that most of the annoying people would either be at home sleeping it off or at someone else’s home trying to figure out where their clothes were.
    • I enjoyed this movie more than The Last (Star Wars Movie I’ll Pay Full Price to See) Jedi.  Yeah, it’s not a classic of American cinema, but it was fun.
  • Here are the movies that had trailers at the theater this morning:
    • Maze Runner:  The Death Cure – Pretty young people revolt against the ugly old people who are doing ugly things, and triumph after overcoming great physical and moral obstacles, such as getting their faces artistically dirty, and going through through a pretty outrageous series of pretty dangerous stunts and action scenes, because they’re pretty.
    • Sherlock Gnomes – Gnomeo and Juliet are back to make all kinds of new little-people based puns, along with a certain detective being portrayed in a way that is making the baby Jesus cry.
    • Spider-Man:  Into the Spider-Verse – Apparently there is a plague of radioactive spiders in New York, because every disaffected teen in the city is crawling the walls.
    • Peter Rabbit – Rey and General Hux are back, only this time they’re not in a galaxy far, far away.  Continuing their quest to destroy all of my favorite childhood memories, they’re turning Beatrix Potter into a CGI-plagued romantic comedy.
  • Apparently, I have pinched a nerve in my hip, which does oh, so much for my mid-winter attitude.
    • Getting old sucks.

Musings

  • My plans for decluttering the house are starting to include a 30 foot dumpster and a snow shovel.
  • It probably says a lot about my mood lately that I’ve been watching videos of Japanese game shows and giggling like a fiend.
  • Note to self – When the overnight diner doubles the size of a large order of hashbrowns prepared “All the way” and adds a healthy dollop of sausage gravy to top it off, that is not to be taken as a personal challenge.
  • Man does not live by bread alone.  You have to add in coffee and chocolate to have a truly balanced diet while working third shift to monitor computers.
  • Irish Woman noticed that my home town had a high temperature in the negative teens the other day.  I didn’t help my chances of convincing her to move there someday when I commented that this was before the wind chill was factored in.
    • My stories of predawn newspaper delivery during a North Dakota winter were probably counterproductive, too.
  • Irish Woman got me an espresso machine and a new coffee maker for Christmas, along with two boxes of pistol ammunition.  I fall more in love with her every day.

Musings

  • If you can’t make monster faces at your youngest son when he’s on stage for a Christmas pageant, what’s the point of having kids?
  • Note to musicians – Silent Night does not need new lyrics or arrangement.
  • Every time someone sings Jingle Bells as hip-hop, the baby Jesus cries.
  • The 12 Days of Christmas is so much better in the original Klingon.
  • If you’re over the age of 7 and can’t sit through an elementary school Christmas pageant without constantly talking and laughing with your buddy in the chair next to you, don’t go to said Christmas pageant in the first place.
  • If you are six feet in front of me and use a flash strong enough to send semaphore to low earth orbit to take a picture of your child who is two feet behind me, your kid is going to learn a few new Anglo-Saxon words while I wait for my sight to return.
  • There are three kinds of kids in Christmas pageants:
    • Those who are absolutely thrilled to be there and are having the time of their lives.
    • Those who are there to make their mothers and grandmothers happy, no matter how distasteful the experience might be.
    • Those who were given a choice by the judge:  Go and sing “Oh Holy Night” or go to jail.

Musings

  • It’s not every day that I get to use a hatchet, a bow saw, a bush hog, and a claw hammer.  Today was one of those days.
  • You know you’ve done some funky stuff when you have to scrub the tub after your shower.
  • The tree is up, it’s twinkling, and the Grinch is in the DVD player.  Ho freaking ho.
    • We, being traditional folks, went through the annual ritual of “Where did we put those bloody lights?”
  • I’m not a redneck for putting my beer out on the porch to keep it cold.  I’m an environmentalist.
  • We have found that the only way to get Derby to sleep on her dog bed is to put said bed onto the couch where she prefers to sleep.
  • Either Irish Woman is trying to fatten me up for the mid-winters feast, or she just feels like making huge breakfasts this weekend.  I haven’t needed lunch since Friday.
  • The office had their Christmas lunch and gift exchange on Friday.  The most hotly contested gifts were a yard long Snicker’s bar and 10 pounds of country sausage from a local butcher.  Not sure what that says about the folks I work with.

Musings

  • The other night, I was reminded that the little switch on the side of the stand mixer goes backward to shut off the mixer, and forward to turn it all the way up.
    • I just wanted to make another pumpkin pie.  I ended up a pumpkin spice Norwegian.
    • The passage of time slowed to a crawl when I heard that little motor start to wind up.  I swear, I could see each and every droplet as it exited the mixer.
    • Irish Woman, being the calm and supportive wife that she is, called out to make sure that my string of profanity was not due to an injury, then showed her intelligence by staying in the other room until after I’d cleaned up and gotten a shower.
    • There was one part of the kitchen that wasn’t painted orange: the hole in the splatter pattern shaped like a fat man leaning over a mixer.
  • The married man’s quandary:
    • Does he just sweep and vacuum the living room rug and light a few candles so that his wife can feel that he’s pulling his weight while she runs their offspring to school?
      • or
    • Does he tell his wife that he did it because the dog got into the garbage can while he was in the shower and he didn’t want her to come home to THAT mess on the living room rug?
  • The Big Brown Truck of Happiness came up our driveway at 9:30 this evening, and the dogs didn’t lift their heads from their beds.  Either they’re really used to this guy, or they had a really hard day.
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