Author Archives: Leo Tarvi
Those of you who know me, know that I like language and especially like writing systems, and if you know me really well you know that I have a soft spot for runes, particularly the Elder Futhark. So you will probably understand that this graffiti caught my attention.
I’ve spent the last few hours working on it, and if this says anything I don’t have enough to figure it out. The leftmost glyph I can’t find in any version of the runic alphabets, either it comes from somewhere else or they made it up. The second from the left only exists in one Anglo Saxon inscription, the Ruthwell Cross, which is old enough that we can’t be sure whether the character was only briefly in use, or only used in that region because they had a funny way of pronouncing “K” when it was is followed by a secondary fronted vowel. The last two are jera in the Elder Futhark and calc in Anglo Saxon, I was only able to find those two specific shapes together in the
runic alphabet variant from Gothenburg in Sweden.
So whatever this is intended to mean, it’s not using a historical version of the runes. Seven unique letters isn’t enough to work out even the simplest substitution cipher, and if they’ve done something more arcane like made up their own language it might be literally impossible for me to figure it out. I mean, I still honestly don’t know if that first character is just made up or not.
But that’s boring, and I like to try to figure things out. So I dug out my old runic divination book, loaded up some likely meanings for that Ruthwell rune, remembered that in divination you read the runes from right to left, and assumed that the mystery glyph is a signature or initial of some sort.
I think the best interpretation I came up with was “Danger, the harvest of giants nears completion, seek the chalice, Signed.”
It’s both a very cool feature and a frustrating bug that broad symbolic interpretation is really wide open. I think I mentioned in my post about runic divination years ago that the handy part is you automatically discard the interpretations that don’t apply to you. Going totally in the dark like this, there’s just too many possibilities! And of course we can’t discard the idea that this person just liked runes, much as I do, and took a lot of drugs and felt inspired to write some runes down.
I’m going to ignore that possibility for now, though, for two reasons. First, because this is clearly writing, not just a doodle, and writing is always intended to convey meaning. Second, because on my way home tonight I saw jera, in the Elder style, (that’s the second from the right that looks like two offset angle brackets in that picture), painted prominently on a utility box. With dots to either side, which is important because in a lot of runic writing dots are used instead of spaces. So whoever painted it wanted us to know that it was meant to stand alone.
Look, this could easily be some kid who’s into old writing systems. Hell, during the more troubled years of my youth it could have been me. Whatever it means, I’m really curious about this, so do me a favor and if you see any rune graffiti, please take a picture and send it to me. I don’t just mean people in my area, either.
This is mostly pure curiosity, but there’s also a more serious possible explanation. One group of people, or maybe group of groups of people, who have been using runes and growing in popularity lately, is white supremacists. If this graffiti is coming from neo-nazis active in my city, I damn well want to know about it.
Take care everyone.
Ah, Infowars. You manage to be the premiere right-wing conspiracy theory group and also the best parody of right-wing conspiracy theorists at the same time.
I don’t remember how I stumbled across this video. I think it was on Tuesday, give or take, but I’m not sure about when either. I tried to embed but WordPress wasn’t having that, so you’ll have to follow the link if you want to watch it. Which is fine, they have a transcript there which is, frankly, easier to work with.
Let’s spend a paragraph or two describing the video.
Owen Shroyer is our host, and he begins by challenging us to call him crazy, call him a conspiracy theorist. Then he shows us an animated map of total precipitable water from August 9th. He narrates how there are two hurricanes forming in the Pacific, then a wave or energy beam emanates from Antarctica and suddenly the budding storms split and dissipate. Then we’re treated to a similar map from the same source around August 22, (he says “yesterday”, it was posted on the 23rd, and the world is large and has time zones) and a similar effect is described.
Then Shroyer and his guest, Professor Darrell Hamamoto, speculate wildly that since John Kerry went to Antarctica in November of 2016, maybe he’s connected to these events, and that there might be, and I’m just going to quote from the transcript here, “there might be a direct line that connects that facility down in Antarctica to the Kalorama neighborhood of Washington D.C., where the Obama Foundation is housed”.
Okay Owen, you’re a conspiracy theorist. Read the rest of this entry
Decades from now, there will be a true story. It might be a book or a movie, or both, or maybe something new that doesn’t even exist yet. But it will be a famous, powerful story about someone’s search for their birth parents, whom they haven’t seen since they were taken away as a child by the United State Government in 2018.
Mark my words, this will absolutely happen. The only uncertainty is how famous it will actually be. If I am still alive, I will do my best to make it more famous.
This policy is going to be remembered by history as evil. When it is remembered at all, of course; Americans have a knack for forgetting the uglier parts of our history. I don’t really have the energy to say much about this, it’s a painful subject to think about and also while I was preparing this post I learn that Attorney General Jeff Sessions it going to deny, or at least limit, asylum to people escaping domestic violence. I can only assume he’s trying to set a precedent to make it harder for his victims to escape. But a few things are worth saying.
First, this is evil, and cruel, and illegal in the eyes of any sensible court, and despite the repeated use of the passive “separating families”, I can’t see it as anything but kidnapping. But what really frightens me isn’t that a few sadistic assholes in power set this policy, it’s that so many Americans are willing to support it.
A significant number of Americans seem to honestly think that taking children away is an appropriate, proportionate response to people traveling without proper documentation.
That’s like evil witch in the dark fairytale forest level shit right there. Read the rest of this entry
Saturday night I was fortunate enough to see Dernier Cri, Third Cloud from the Left’s latest production. I went into this almost completely blind; all I knew about the show was that it was about fashion and it was being performed in a private home. Excited by the underground feel, (literally, as it turns out. The performance space is in the basement.) I put on an ascot and headed into the cloudy world of high stakes fashion.
I don’t know if I made a good case for reviving the ascot as a fashionable accessory, but I certainly enjoyed an interesting night.
We began by finding the house. This was helped along by encountering other people who were well-dressed and looking vaguely lost. We were greeted in the foyer by the mightily overworked Esperanza Torres (expertly played by Carol Walker) and spent the next fifteen minutes sipping wine and mingling in what felt to me like a strange cross between a dinner party and a LARP. I really don’t know how much of the little pre-show bits were scripted and how much were just improvised, but we were already getting a feel for the characters well before we descended to the theater proper.
Dernier Cri is a very intimate show, and heavily character driven. I’m not going to bother with a plot summary; this play relies on the depth of the characters, and the sense of intimacy it creates with them to carry the audience along. I could easily imagine myself complaining that nothing happened had this been produced with less care and skill, because so much of the action is inside the characters’ heads.
But we get inside those heads. We feel the strength and vulnerability of these characters, their ambitions, their machinations, their insecurities. We get to know these people and that makes the small story feel big. All the little moments become important because this show makes a very successful effort to get us to care about these characters.
I’ll share my favorite part with you. There’s a scene where Silvio Quilombo (Carlos Barrera) is explaining his vision to the models. There’s low, rhythmic music adding a quiet intensity as he poses them one at a time with his cane, telling a little story to go with each pose. It’s quite possibly the most beautiful live art I’ve ever seen, and the final touch, the little cherry on top, is when Silvio, who has been carefully using only his cane to adjust the positions of the models, reaches out with his hand to take Aimer’s. Aimer (Jean-Paul Jones) had earlier made it clear that he generally dislikes being touched, and watching his face flicker through emotions, beginning with shock and ending with warmth, is the perfect capstone to this scene.
Dernier Cri runs every Thursday, Friday and Saturday for the next two weeks, until the Twelfth. At $65 tickets are fairly pricey, but that’s somewhat offset by food and wine, and you have an excellent chance to mingle with the cast and crew afterwards. Once the show proper ended we returned to the main floor of the house for a lovely buffet dinner, and most of the company joined us once they’d scrubbed their faces and changed their clothes. There was so much more than just the show itself that I feel simply calling it a play undersells the evening a bit.
If you like creative independent musical theatre, fashion, and intimate stories, and if you can afford the ticket price, I highly recommend this experience. Tickets are $65 per seat and can be purchased here.
Third Cloud from the Left is doing some very interesting, creative things, and while I probably won’t be able to see Dernier Cri again, I’m definitely looking forward to what else they have to offer.
So this morning I had a lovely breakfast at The Cove on Castro, an excellent diner that I strongly recommend, and then sat down at Twin Peaks Tavern to sip a Bloody Mary and write a blog post.
This is not that post.
I was making good progress on my writing, despite working on my phone, and nearing the end of my drink when I heard a wail from outside and looked up to see a man sitting on a little hard shell suitcase and screaming at whatever internal demons were tormenting him. Seeing people in crisis like this is a part of city life, and you learn to sort of tune it out after a while and just get on with your day. Which is pretty much what I did, I felt sorry for the poor guy and then went back to trying to find the perfect set of words to describe how a coat should smell.
A few minutes later, the window exploded.
Screaming Guy had swung his little suitcase into the big window, sending glass flying everywhere. He promptly took off downhill, and passed out of my knowledge. After a shocked moment someone pursued, but I don’t know if anything came of that.
Nobody was hurt, although the two guys sitting at the table right in front of it abandoned their drinks in case of glass.
When things had calmed down a bit, I realized that my blog post hadn’t been saved and was lost forever. So that’s been my morning.
Sunday Update: During the afternoon, I noticed a typo in that post and opened up the WordPress app on my phone to fix it. After making the change and updating the post I hit the back button a few times, intending to exit the app, and was suddenly looking at an earlier draft of the post, and found that the post had been unpublished and reverted to that earlier, barely started version.
This sent me into a funk that lasted well into the evening and has more or less convinced me that the WordPress mobile app is more trouble that it’s worth. That was two posts yesterday that I lost to that app!
Many thanks to excellent person Tadhg for sending me a copy of this post, allowing me to restore it properly.
So here’s a quick update for anyone who’s wondered what’s going on with me.
Thursday morning I got sick. Really sick. It happened fast, at 8:00 I was thinking “That walk sure seemed to take a lot out of me”, and 8:30 I was nauseous enough to be certain there was something more going on, and at 8:45 it was clear that I wouldn’t be able to continue my workday. By 10:30 I was bedridden.
I haven’t been that sick in a long time.
There was a strange moment last night where I suddenly realized what day it was. I had fallen into this surreal, timeless world. My usual indicators of time abandoned me; sleep came randomly without the usual cycles, I couldn’t eat and had no appetite, I had no work or social obligations, and from my apartment (especially when all the blinds are closed because I’m sick) you don’t get more than “night” or “day” from a glance at the window.
So, I’m definitely over the worst of it. Hopefully my body has gotten rid of whatever bug caused this and all I’m feeling now is the effects of two days of broken sleep and almost no food. Last night I finally got about four hours of proper sleep, and I can definitely tell the difference between it and what I was getting before.
Deep in the night, when I was trying not to lie awake in bed, I passed some time by playing Stardew Valley. That’s a video game that’s mostly about farming, but also has a relationship game and a dungeon crawl in it, and possibly more that I haven’t discovered yet.
So it’s vaguely around 4am, I’ve gotten my first chickens, and I’m feeling like I was not given enough information to properly care for these animals. In particular I inspected them one morning and they were both described as “[chicken’s name] looks sad.” That’s all it gave me, and I found it very distressing. What does it mean that my chickens look sad? Is there some course of action that this is meant to suggest? WHY ARE MY CHICKENS SAD?!
I went to bed soon after.
So there’s my update. I’m not even close to 100%, but I don’t think I’m infected anymore. I’m going to cook some breakfast now, but I thick I’ll save the spicy sausage and just have eggs and toast this morning.
So today’s the day. Today President Obama hands over the office to Donald Trump.
My first plan for this day was to get a pizza and head to the bar after work, but more and more I’m thinking I’ll just head home with a bottle of rum. I might still order pizza, but I definitely need to drink tonight.
I’ve been saying for a while now that I think we’re really getting President Pence, and I may as well explain my thinking. The way I see it, Trump will have to either be a good little puppet for the GOP; or just be a loud, attention-grabbing figurehead while Pence does all the work of being President. If he tries to do his own thing, the Republican-controlled Congress will impeach him and remove him from office, making Pence the actual President.
He’s provided plenty of justifications for impeachment, they won’t have to work very hard to make it believable. Assuming, of course, that they even bother maintaining the illusion of legitimacy rather than just outright declaring that they’re removing him because he won’t do what they want. The veneer of government feels awfully thin these days.
Trump’s general lack of interest in actually doing the job of the President suggests that he’s going for “loud, attention-grabbing figurehead”. The rumor that Trump’s campaign approached Kasich for Vice-President and said the deal would be for Kasich to handle all domestic and foreign policy while Trump was off “making America great again” doesn’t help with this assessment. Well, getting attention is what he does best, I suppose.
Of course if I’m right about that, it means that for all the rhetoric about going against the establishment, the Trump Administration may well be the most establishment presidency we’ve ever seen.
Anyway, we’ll see what happens in the next few years. But I’m not going to be watching the inauguration.
Take care, everybody.
I hadn’t meant to be silent this long. I’ve written several partial posts, and early this month I wrote a complete post on third-party voting and protest votes that got swallowed by the great null, and I’m still upset about that because it was some of my best writing in the past few years.
Then the election happened. To be honest, I think that broke me a bit.
So here we are. We’ve elected a know-nothing huckster and a theocratic nightmare to executive office, we’ve handed both houses of Congress to the party of human suffering, and because the Democrats didn’t bother to fight over the Supreme Court appointment we can expect a conservative activist judge to replace the last conservative activist judge.
The Southern Poverty Law Center documented 701 incidents of hate in the week after the election. The “Alt-Right”, which I’ll remind you is just a re-branding of white nationalism, (yes, including actual fucking nazis) has been celebrating, and here in San Francisco there has been a palpable chill in daily life, punctuated by demonstrations.
I’ve heard several reports of young trans people committing suicide. I’ve not bothered to try confirming those, because I’m depressed enough already, but it’s worth mentioning that nobody found that hard to believe.
So what can we do about it?
First, find out which elected officials represent you. There’s an excellent tool for that here. There’s also some really good resources here, which is in general a site worth bookmarking for all the handy information on it. Get the contact information for everyone representing you, both the U.S. Congress and your state legislature, and make a handy list for yourself.
Then contact them. It’s actually pretty easy to make an appointment and see them in person, which probably has the best impact on them. Next is a phone call, and then writing a letter, and finally an email is still better than nothing.
I don’t know what your life is like, what resources you have and what challenges you face, so I won’t tell you how much to invest in this. But do something. Even if it’s just a form letter email that you change the names on and send out to everyone, that’s a hell of a lot better than griping on facebook.
I’m also going to echo the words of P. Andrew Torrez, from the Opening Arguments podcast, that if you only have health insurance because Obamacare forced insurance companies to provide coverage even for those with pre-existing conditions, you can make a big impact by making an appointment and looking them in the eyes and telling them how repealing the Affordable Care Act will affect you. Even Ted Cruz is not so reptilian that he’d be unmoved by looking at someone’s actual face while they explain that if the ACA is repealed they will die.
On a side note, if you’re not listening to Opening Arguments, you should be.
Get involved. Talk to your reps, even if you didn’t vote for them, even if their platform is everything you abhor. We have a representative government and it is literally their job to care what you think. Don’t be rude to them, don’t be defensive, there’s no need to even get confrontational; just make it clear where you stand.
Somehow we’ve forgotten that this is how our government is supposed to work. We get caught up in protests and big dramatic demonstrations, and those certainly have their place, but they mean nothing if people don’t participate in the government. It does no good to raise awareness if people, once aware of the problem, do nothing about it.
I’ll try to be back with more soon. I’m long overdue for a Constitution post, and also I’ve been falling out of the habit of writing, which must be maintained.
As always, thank you for reading, share your thoughts in the comments, and please take care of each other.
So tonight I watched Buffy Live at the Oasis, a camp-drag version of the late 90s Joss Whedon TV show. I don’t think it was as accessibly funny as last year’s Star Trek Live, but to anyone who was a teenager in the mid-to-late 90s it was probably a better bet for a fun show!
The thing about Star Trek Live was that it appealed to Trek fans, which has permeated pop-culture to the point that almost everyone could appreciate a show based on it, while Buffy was solidly aiming for the nostalgia of a very specific time frame. And it really, really delivered!
From the music played before, during, and after the show, to the atmosphere of the show and the venue in general, to the clothing worn by most of the audience, (because really, they knew what the real draw here was), the whole outfit came together to bring people back to 1997, when the internet was still the domain of techno-geeks, music still tasted of Seattle grunge, and vampires were kinda wimpy if you could get a sharp piece of wood between their ribs.
My personal favorite bits were the glaring at the audience, daring any of us to disagree every time Buffy was referred to as a sixteen year old girl; the pitch-perfect performances of the Giles and Joyce characters; the way the character of Jesse was cut entirely out of the show with about as much impact as his death had in the TV series; and the fact that for all his handwaving and scene-chewing, the guy playing Angel still delivered a more nuanced and believable performance than David Boreanaz did in the first few episodes.
I’ll also give a shout out to the woman who congratulated me on how awesome I was after the show, and after being told that I wasn’t actually in the show went on to explain that I was clearly awesome anyways and started touching my face before finally wandering back off to her life. I may have lied to her and said I was married. But she definitely added to that sense of 90s nostalgia, harkening back to a time when people used to make me uncomfortable by getting into my personal space and touching me too much.
If you loved the TV show you should obviously see this, but also if you ever think about that general era, that time in our lives, or really in our culture, then you should definitely see this. The cast is fun, the themed specialty drinks are tasty, and the crowd is a blast! I suspect it’s not as broadly-appealing as Star Trek Live, but to anyone who lived thru the 90s it will be worth the price!
The show is at the Oasis on 11th and Folsom and runs Wednesday thru Sunday until The end of the month, with a special closing night on Halloween. Buy tickets here!
So the opponents of Prop. V have almost convinced me to support it.
Let me back up a bit.
Proposition V is going to be on the ballot this November here in San Francisco. It’s a city-level tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, which for this purpose is being defined as “a beverage that contains added sugar and 25 or more calories per 12 ounces.” When you look at the list of things that are exempt it becomes quite clear that this is specifically targeting soda pop (I don’t even remember the last time I saw those two words together, let alone wrote them myself. Weird.) and other junk-food drinks. Diet soda, alcohol, and probably anything you think of as a healthy soft drink are not subject to it.
There are a lot of valid and interesting points of discussion to this proposal, and I think some good conversations could be had about it, but that’s not what I’m here to talk about. I’m here to talk about the campaign against it, specifically the mailings I’ve been getting that were paid for by No on V, Enough is Enough: Don’t Tax Our Groceries, with Major Funding by American Beverage Association California PAC.
That’s seriously what it says. Take a moment to appreciate that at some point there had to be a committee meeting in which people deliberately chose that name. On purpose. Read the rest of this entry
Welcome back! This took quite a bit longer than expected, things have been busy. Sorry about that.
Section 7 is getting its own post, partly because big things are happening in it, and partly because I’m getting tired of digging into the last post to see where I am. Maybe I’ll just start doing one post per section.
As usual, I am not an expert or a legal scholar, or even particularly bright. No law student should be using this as research, and any who do deserve the grade they get for it.
Anyway, here we go! Read the rest of this entry
Last night I went to see Speed of Light, the second play of Quantum Dragon Theatre’s inaugural season, and I’m going to go ahead and recommend it to anyone who’s ever stayed up late reading science fiction, or hungered for the next book.
I’m saying book because the play reminded me an awful lot of classic SF novels. It has an old-school feel to it, like pre-transistor Heinlein stories. I’d bet serious money that Frank Herbert’s Dune was an influence on the playwright, too.
Speed of Light is set at least 5,000 years into the future, where humanity has spread to five planets and settled there long enough to develop racial distinctions between them. Two of those planets have now fallen to the Feeders, a mindless alien horde that devours all it encounters.
How, exactly, a mindless horde operates spaceships is never explored, and we may well be the victims of propaganda on just how mindless they really are. In a novel I’d expect some more exposition on that, but in a two-hour play I’m perfectly willing to let it slide, especially since there’s already a lot going on in here.
You see, traveling faster than light had been assumed to be impossible for thousands of years, up until people saw the Feeders do it. It then immediately became very important to figure out how it’s done, because the aliens are attacking a third planet and show no signs that they’ll go away after it’s been stripped of all life. Our story follows a mathematical prodigy who’s spent the last ten years working on this problem, and the people around her. Read the rest of this entry
Another weekend, another chunk of the Constitution. I’m going to try to stagger these with other posts, because if I let this project dominate my blog too much I think I’ll just get frustrated and abandon the project, and I’m finally starting to write with some frequency again.
As usual, please don’t mistake me for any kind of expert. I’m probably learning far more than I’m teaching, here.
Okay, let’s get a little farther in. Read the rest of this entry
The biggest problem I have with writing these days is that the time I feel most able to really sit down and work on something is about the same time I need to be putting on my shoes and going to work. Seriously, that flurry of activity over the weekend started when I woke up early Saturday morning and took a notebook out for coffee.
Apparently in my brain the best conditions for writing are an early start and hot beverages.
It carries over, though. Every morning this week I’ve wanted to write something. Like I’ve got it moving again now and want to keep at it before I lose momentum. I’m posting this from my phone while I’m on the bus just to try to keep that going.
Unfortunately that’s really all I have just now, something to try to keep the momentum going. I have things I want to write about, but they’ll have to wait at least a little longer.
Honestly, I might have managed something quick during breakfast, but I saw a headline that read something like 8 students burned to death for blasphemy and had to go find something soothing to look at.
Quick note before we begin, once again I want to thank the U. S. Constitution Online site, which has made this much easier than it otherwise would be since I can just copy and paste the relevant parts of the Constitution from them. It sometimes feels like I’m not commenting on the original legal document so much as writing commentary on that website.
As usual, I am not a lawyer or scholar, nor an expert on this in any way.
Ok, let’s get back into this. Read the rest of this entry
Welcome back to my ongoing series on the Constitution! Like the preamble, my first post was more a mission statement than anything with real content, but I still managed to miss a couple things I wanted to mention.
First is that my primary tools for this project are the U. S. Constitution Online website and my ACLU-printed pocket constitution. I have several more of those pocket books, and if anybody wants one you can either find me in person, or click on that ACLU site and they’ll give you one for free.
I thought there was a second thing, but if so I’ve forgotten it. Oh well, onwards!
My standard disclaimer applies: I am not an expert in any subject, in any way.
Section 1. All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.
The first article is about the legislative branch of the government. In fact the first three articles establish the three branches, legislative, executive, and judicial.
It seems likely that starting with Congress was intentional, to draw attention away from one person’s power. Remember that this government was designed to be of and for the people, so most of the power rests with Congress, at least in theory.
Also, note that it says “All legislative Powers”. Only Congress can make laws, not the president, not the courts. But both the executive and judicial branches can have profound effects on laws, as we’ll see in later installments.
Since I’m about to quote the first part to be modified by a later amendment, I’m going to point out that I’ll be following the convention where modified text is (in parentheses and italic), while commentary establishing the nature of the modification is (in parentheses and bold).
Technically this means I’ll be including some stuff that’s not in the original text, but this is probably the best way to do it. I’ll also maintain the original links, since they are useful in many ways.
Section 2. The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States, and the Electors in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature.
No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.
(Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.) (The previous sentence in parentheses was modified by the 14th Amendment, section 2.) The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct. The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one Representative; and until such enumeration shall be made, the State of New Hampshire shall be entitled to chuse three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five and Georgia three.
When vacancies happen in the Representation from any State, the Executive Authority thereof shall issue Writs of Election to fill such Vacancies.
In Section 2 we get to work actually doing stuff. Section 2 is all about the House of Representatives.
I had trouble figuring out what “the Electors in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature” is trying to say. After a bit of thinking, it seems to be saying that if you qualify to be an elector for the most numerous branch of the legislature of your state, then you qualify to be an elector for the state. It’s not clear to me if “Elector” in this case just means “person voting in this election” or something else, but it seems the most likely interpretation.
This is the moment when I realize just how ambitious this constitution project of mine is, because I’m having to seriously examine this archaic language cold. I haven’t actually sat down and examined the Constitution with an intent to understand it as a whole since… ever, now that I think of it. I’ve looked things up, and I’ve read it all the way through, but there was always context which narrowed my scope. Having to take a broad view of the entire document really makes it clear how much I don’t understand.
Which is good, however annoying it is. This project is about learning, and I’m doing that.
The second paragraph establishes the requirements to be a Representative. Age, citizen, resident, and that’s it.
Although the old language is harder to understand, I prefer the oldest parts of the Constitution for their brevity. When we get to the amendments you’ll see what I mean, in the 19th century they start getting longer and longer.
Section 2 also contains our first hint of slavery in the infamous three-fifths compromise. I’m interested that they used such indirect language about it, I wonder what the discussions were like leading up to that.
Slavery was a contentious issue at the time, and would remain so right up until it was abolished. When people speak, as some do, of the framers of the constitution as though they were nearly super-humanly wise and all in agreement with each other, remember that this early in the document we’ve established that slaves are 3/5 of a person because the framers could not agree on whether to count them or not.
In fact whether or not slaves counted for population figures was a pretty big deal, with the standard practice being to count them when it was beneficial to your interests and not when it wasn’t. The southern states in particular had large slave populations and wanted them to count for the number of representatives they got in the house, thereby increasing their influence.
So not only were they owning people, they were using them as tokens for power.
What else do we have? Establishing the census, limiting the size of the House and providing provisional numbers until the first census is taken. Then we see that when there’s a vacancy in the House, the state Governor has to have an election to fill it. Finally, the House is obligated to choose its Speaker and officers, and the House has the power of Impeachment.
I’m starting to pick up that 18th century habit of capitalizing nouns. This will probably get worse before it gets better. Also, dig that old-timey spelling of “Chuse”! I kinda like it, shame we went with the double-O instead.
Anyway, this is over 1200 words, so I’m going to end the post here. I’ll try to have Article 1, Section 3 up tomorrow.
Feel free to share your analysis in the comments, and have an excellent day.
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
So begins the United States Constitution. And so begins my series on that venerated document. Yes, I know I said I didn’t want to dive right into a series, but it was all I could think more or less coherently about.
This was inspired, more than anything else, by something I saw on Facebook, or rather the reactions to it. It was a short explanation of the amendment process, pointing out that Obama can’t repeal the second amendment because it takes two-thirds of congress to change the constitution. And people reacted with surprise. Read the rest of this entry