Friday, June 19, 2009

Why I Love My Wife

Well, one example of why, anyhow. I'd originally written up this charming little three-line scene in the wake of the initial Swine Flu outbreak back at the beginning of May. Then I lost it in the shuffle. Since we're heading out of town for a friend's wedding (congrats to Nishant and Blythe!), I felt it was appropriate to celebrate love. Here goes:

One evening a couple weeks back, Melissa and I were chatting about the continuing news reports and press conferences regarding the swine flu.

M: The State epidemiologist was talking today about what people can do to protect themselves, and how to properly wash their hands. She said "We don't want you to just get them wet. You should sing Happy Birthday twice, you know." So I've been doing that. I've been singing Happy Birthday twice every time I wash my hands.
F: That's delightful! Who are you singing Happy Birthday to when you do it?
M: To my hands.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Reckoning for those who defraud the laborer of his hire

Ta-Nehisi Coates at The Atlantic posted a terrific link today that I wanted to share with you all. It's from Jourdon Anderson, a freed slave in Ohio, to his former master in Tennessee shortly after the Civil War. It is masterfully understated. Absolutely fascinating (click on the opening in the box below):
To My Old Master, Colonel P.H. Anderson, Big Spring, Tennessee

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Lunatic Fringe

There's a phrase that was tossed around in the wake of the murder of Dr. George Tiller in Wichita a couple weeks back, and has now appeared again in conjunction with the killing of a security guard by James von Brunn yesterday at the Holocaust Museum: "sovereign citizen." Both gunmen were self-described Sovereign Citizens, and have left a trail of contacts and presence on right-wing fringe websites.

The first I'd heard of the phrase sovereign citizen was in this Washington Monthly article a litle over a year ago. It's a fascinating read: in recent years, more than twenty African American men charged with violent offenses in Baltimore have invoked their rights as sovereign citizens, claiming not to be bound by the illegal assertion of power by the United States Federal Government. The truly weird part is the origin of the concept, relative to the defendants: the Sovereign Citizen Movement is based in opposition to the Fourteenth Amendment, which outlawed slavery. It claims that the 14th converted sovereign citizens, bound by English Common Law, into federal citizens, or something, and that the Government uses federal citizens as collateral in foreign debt (again, or something). Adherents further believe that there is a specific set of legal verbiage, presented in a certain order on certain forms, that can free you from your federal citizenship and return you to sovereign citizenship; this, it should be noted, is drivel.

Anyway, apparently tied to this is the concept of Posse Comitatus, Latin for "force of the county," which asserts that the supreme law enforecement power in the land is that of county sherrifs, and that the National Guard, federal troops, etc., have no power over the local sherrif. According to the Washington Monthly article, this idea derives from an act passed at the federal level in 1878 to take the teeth out of Reconstruction and prevent the government from protecting civil rights in the South.

Very strange and interesting, all, but not at all to diminish the tragedy of these murders. My sympathy goes out to the families of both victims.