“Nor’easter” b.s.

So I’m sitting watching a recent weathercast, wondering if it’s another effect of Global Warming that we seem to have tons more “Nor’easters” these days than when I was little, where maybe I remember reading the term only in Moby Dick dialogue or something.  Turns out the resident lexicographer* at The Boston Globe, appropriately enough, was a few years ahead of me (scroll down): It seems to be nothing more than a recent weather “journalist” fad.  Keep in mind she’s only referring to print usage.  I’d guess it’s even more prevalent in TV and radio: ‘Be afraid, be very afraid, here comes another Nor’easter!

(In that post two years ago to the day — spooky! — I forgot to mention explicitly that weather hype is considered to boost audiences … hence they can charge more for advertising, for delivering more ears and/or eyes.)

Of course, bad ones are a PIA, almost like a hurricane, in some ways worse.  But what’s with all the hype about beach erosion, too?  Wasn’t there plenty in the billions of years before humanity came along and built beachfront condos and resorts?  You’d think the original U.S. eastern shore was halfway out in the Atlantic!  That’s right, it’s not plate tectonics, just beach erosion!  I say anyone who builds in such places deserves what they get.  Now we all enjoy a beach any time of year, and maintaining them in desert perfection costs coastal towns, states, and countries mondo bucks.  That’s gonna get more fun with Climate Change too….

(*–I’ll tell this joke on myself: Originally instead of lexicographer I wrote logothete.  Guess I’ve been reading too much Byzantine history in conjunction with my [informal] Orthodoxy studies!)

We hold this truth to be self-evident

The opening line of the U.S. unilateral Declaration of Independence of 1776, “We hold these truths to be self-evident,” ISN’T!  If they’re self-evident, you don’t have to say you hold them to be so: they simply are so.  “The lady doth protest too much, methinks!”  Certainly they went on to deprive myriads of their fellow Colonial residents, Native Americans, and Africans of their “unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”….

Weird names, not just Black after all

this piece from Salon (you can tell I’ve just been there) reminds us.  Although the author should’ve come across the fact that even the ancient Romans sometimes named their children numbers after their birth order – Secundus/a, Quartus, Quintus, Septimus, Octavius – which sounds alot more impressive if you don’t know Latin – Second, Fourth, Fifth, Seventh, Eighth…!  (I’d give in to the temptation to claim that Augustus and Julius Caesars were named after months, but of course it’s the other way around!!)  The only thing weirder is George Foreman and his five sons named George.  But understanding the “weird Black name” phenomenon as liberating, yeah, I get that.

Electa, Valantine, and Zebedee are religious names: one or more of St. John’s Epistles were formally addressed to a parish he called the Lady Electa (ie, Chosen, or perhaps Elect, ie, predestined, from Calvinism); Zebedee was father of the Apostles Sts. James and John; and Valantine is just Valentine, the early Christian martyred bishop and patron saint of February 14.

I think I can understand “unique” names (though the Orthodox Church usually insists on Orthodox Saints’ names, for role models, Holy t/Tradition, and Heavenly intercessors for the named), but do they have to sound as ridiculous as some of them do?  Worse, they often defy English-language spelling conventions, as an old radio hand leaving some doubt as to pronunciation, with or without apostrophes, post-initial capital letters, or strings of consonants without a vowel where needed (outside of Polish, of course!).  (And as an Irishman, I must insist that the correct spelling of one common name or name-particle is Sean! 😉  Though I was impressed to meet a young lady named Shavaun, which is simply Siobhan with the spelling anglicized!  Tho I didn’t realize it until I sounded it out in my head … a problem with innovative spellings.)  In any case, is a name truly “unique” simply by changing one letter?  Computers think so, but I don’t know….

As for Arabic-language names, it’s no big deal in itself, though of course alot of people these days have issues with the religion usually suggested, Islam.  Senator Obama’s name, of course, came from his father, a lapsed Muslim who still wanted his kid named after him.  (My legal name is similar in that respect.)  His native Kenya’s Muslim population, like that of other near-Sahara countries, continues to grow.  (But its Orthodox population even faster!)  But critics seem to forget that King Hussein of Jordan was a great friend of the United States; OTOH, Hussein was Saddam’s last name, not his first name … and neither the king nor the future President were named after him!!!  It just happens to be a relatively common Arabic name in various spellings.  For that matter, as Obama has reminded us, (Ehud) Barack was an Israeli prime minister – so I guess it goes both ways, eh?!!

Some of these names are, or seem like, surnames, being used as given names.  This practice of course is well-known in the White Protestant community, though even Catholics have been known to use them for middle names though rarely first names, like John Fitzgerald Kennedy.  Speaking of English Protestants, let’s not forget Praisegod Barebones, and another 17th-century Puritan whose given name was – I swear I am not making this up – “Christ Died To Save Us.”

What’s unfortunate about “Luxury Latch-on” names is that increasingly the original corporate names themselves are totally made up words, and not real names at all, rendering the personal names based on them a second-generation phenomenon, or twice-removed from the real world.

Orencio sounds Shakespearean, like those fake Italian names some of his characters had.

Other than that, my biggest concern as someone who hopes to acquire naming rights over someone someday in the not-too-distant future, is how they’ll deal with the name for the rest of their lives … something that doesn’t seem to enter into as many other parents’ or would-be parents’ minds as I would expect.  Was their own childhood so long ago?  Not longer than mine in most cases, except maybe Dave Letterman and Donald Trump….  But I figure weirdness is for nicknames, totally optional, appearing in no government databases or legal documents (unless they’re in the Mob of course).

“My friends call me Xfrkgyuip.”
“Gee, that’s interesting. Why do they call you that?”

And so on.

Then again, since I learned it, I’ve always thought the Irish Gaelic name for Wednesday, Ceadaoin (Céadaoin), pronounced something like kay-DEEN, would make a pretty girl’s name: hmm, Céadaoin Ó Faoláin….**  [As for its meaning, “First Fast-day,” it refers to the ancient Christian (and continuing Orthodox Christian) practice of cutting-back on food on most Wednesdays of the year; Fridays also, Aoine, meaning simply “Fast-day,” suggesting the Irish didn’t do Wednesdays at first.]  And speaking of Irish names, I dislike the growing trend of giving girls Gaelic boys’ names: Murphy Brown, McKenzie Phillips, even Phelan, an English form of my last name.  I suspect these parents (or writers) aren’t aware that these Irish (or Scottish) surnames are based on (in most cases) ancient men’s given names … witness the constant attention in Irish surname / family history recitations to the supposed derivation of the surname, as faolan, little wolf, rather than the more real and relevant reference to an eponymous ancestor!  There’s also Rory Kennedy, an almost unforgivable sin considering that the last reigning High King of All Ireland bore that name, Rory (Roderick) O’Connor, King of Connacht – variously spelled Ruaidhri, Ruairi.  (Also because she didn’t marry me! 😉  )

But by all means visit this site the Salon writer points to.  It’s so funny you just might cure cancer!  I laughed so hard I cried and had a coughing fit, probably the hardest laugh of my life, no kidding!

(I remember the Black comic who told us a couple years ago about the crap he took for “fighting the good fight” and then turning to dating White women for a while, before again reversing himself.  “A Loqueeda makes up for two Megans and a Becky.”)

(**–Though in proper Irish she’d have to be Céadaoin ní Fhaoláin.)

Violent Demonstrations

When did they start using the word violence to refer to demonstrations, rallies, etc., where nobody is hurt, just property is damaged?

Lessee now, corporations and property are people, but unborn babies aren’t, including embryonic stem cells that are called that because they basically are embryos?  And immigrants and the poor and workers and people of color aren’t much of people either?

WHO’S behind this Strange New World?!!!

Reproductive rights, Take 2

(Improving upon this try.  I think.)

Sex is a “reproductive right.”

Abortion is a homicidal right.

You can’t have an abortion unless you’ve already reproduced, right?

Could a State join Canada?

The article from the last post is about people in Maine interested in having that State secede to Canada.  The author lightly opines, “we would need to change our system of government to Canadian standards and start calling ourselves a province.”

THOUGHT EXPERIMENT.

A State is a sovereign, like “the State of Israel;” a province is a subdivision of a sovereign, like the provinces of the Roman Empire, or of many countries today.  When the UK colonies of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia (as we now call them, more or less) decided to get together in 1867, after watching the Union of sovereign States to the south go through a bloodbath of a  Civil War, they decided they wanted ‘a more perfect union,’ and so remained provinces (as all Britain’s North American colonies were sometimes called), legally giving more power to the central “Confederation” they were creating, Canada.  (Up there this word denotes the exact opposite of what it does for Americans, reflecting on the traditional propaganda about America’s previous “weak Articles of Confederation.”)

It’s true that after over a century of legal adjustments, court rulings (especially by the Brits aiming to protect the constitutive Provinces from Federal encroachment), and political compromises, Canada today seems among the world’s loosest federations, and it’s common to say the Provinces are “co-sovereign” with the Confederation (or Dominion), in almost American terms.  And while, in theologian Stanely Hauerwas’ perfect phrase, “there may be no denying the descriptive power of this statement,” and the Provinces of Canada may have evolved nearly into sovereign States, it still remains a bit of an exaggeration, constitutionally speaking.

Let me elucidate.  As described in their unilateral Declaration of Independence, 13 of the colonies / provinces to the south considered themselves “free and independent States” on or about July 4, 1776 – and they meant States, not State.  Over the next 11 years several wars among them almost broke out, one-on-one affairs IIRC, including New York vs. New Hampshire over the territory claimed by yet another one, the independent Republic of Vermont which everyone forgets, which wasn’t cooperating much with the other 13 at all, sought to exchange ambassadors with the Mother Country, and even to reunite with it!  So in 1787, when a mostly-secret “convention” proposed their “more perfect union,” one thing these “free and independent States” didn’t give up was sovereignty.  The new (written) Constitution merely delegated some of these States’ sovereign attributes or powers or rights to the Union, retaining all those not explicitly delegated.  In this arrangement, similar in species to the “pooled sovereignty” often referred to in connection with the European Union, these States and their Union were definitely co-sovereign (though the term isn’t used in the U.S., being of more-recent Canadian coinage), the Union in the areas delegated to it, and the States in every other way.  American law takes this very seriously, even though the States delegated to the Union powers the world usually considers primary reflections of sovereignty, such as international relations, defense, and currency … and even though there’s been some growth of Federal power due to Constitutional Amendments and court rulings down through the years.  Perhaps the best illustration of this is the fact that not just any case can be appealed to Federal courts; it has to be “a Federal matter,” otherwise the State courts have the last word.

(This came up after the 2000 Presidential Election.  As you may have heard, we don’t actually elect the President of [the Executive Branch of] the United States, Presidential Electors do.  And these Electors are State officers, not Federal.  Each State legislature is completely free to prescribe how to choose its Presidential Electors.  In the first place, as the mischievous Florida Legislative Republicans reminded us, Electors don’t have to be popularly elected; it’s up to each State.  [Though it’s debatable whether they would’ve gotten away with changing the rules after the fact. Would the U.S. Supreme Court have been that brazen?]  More importantly, how each State elects its officers is entirely its own business, and not normally “a Federal matter.”  Therefore, most of us considered that the Federal courts had no business hearing GW Bush’s appeal from the Florida Supreme Court regarding interpretation of Florida’s election laws and administration, by its own State courts.  To get around this, Bush had to concoct a laughable argument that his civil rights – a Federal matter – would be violated if every vote were counted in the counties in which Republican shenanigans were alleged by the Al Gore campaign and many others.  This was an argument of the proverbial “legal mind: the ability to think about something intimately related to something else, without thinking about that to which it is related”: Civil Rights, intended to protect Blacks from re-enslavement after the Civil War, used to deny many Florida Blacks and others the electoral franchise accorded them in this contest under Florida law!  [This is exactly the same area of law that supposedly bestowed human rights on corporations in the U.S., and of course the irony is identical. It’s also the kind of reasoning made famous by the medieval {Western, Catholic} Scholastic philosophers and theologians, now employed by a son of the Protestant Reformation, a Methodist: rationalizing about how many teeth a horse was allowed to have based on made-up prior principles … instead of opening his mouth and counting them!!!  Instead of rationalizing, Florida law provided that the winner of the election would be determined by counting the votes cast.  WHAT A F*CKING CONCEPT!!!]  In a tragic example of expansion of Federal power by court ruling, the Federal courts allowed Bush, and ultimately so did a partisan Supreme Court – although they sure didn’t want their ruling used against  Republicans, when they said, in flagrant violation of every legal principle and tradition this country – and all Common Law countries – supposedly stand on, that their ruling shouldn’t be used as a precedent in any future case.  So much for independent judiciary and rule of law … and the last 7 years of American and world history!  Yes, Canada, courts aren’t always legally correct.)

This is the opposite of what happened in Canada in 1867: the Fathers of Confederation delegated to the Provinces some powers, rights, and privileges, delineated others as shared by the Confederation and Provinces, with the rest remaining with the Confederation.  Arguably, legally, the Provinces are creatures of the Confederation – and hence Provinces – even though they antedated it!

For comparison purposes, in 1901 the drafters of the Australian Commonwealth constitution, fearful of a Canadian-style (theoretically) stronger center, went more with the American model again, on behalf of the federating colonies there.  And so Australia’s constitutive parts, like America’s, are sovereign States, not Provinces – and BTW, their State viceregal officers Governors instead of Lieutenant-Governors.  (Which brings up another illustration: Canadian Provinces have LGs because historically they are lieutenants to the Governor General, even Federal employees, appointed on Federal Advice, not Provincial employees, clearly subordinating the Provinces to the Federal Crown, in spite of the fact that they can have “Her Majesty In Right of” a Province … even suing “Her Majesty In Right of Canada”!)

This is not to say that a State can’t create additional sovereign States; in fact it’s alleged to have happened in a number of newer “federal” countries, essentially constituting their subdivisions Sovereigns in certain areas.  The Holy Roman Emperors even bestowed actual sovereignty on some of their subject principalities (while they remained subject).  I fully expect this century that some Canadian court will find Canada’s Provinces are, have always been, or have become, Sovereign States.  Whether this would require formally reopening the constitution, or could take effect by itself in the British tradition of uncodified constitutional evolution, I don’t know.  Or else Provinces will insist on (greater) involvement in nominating their LGs, and then, on the exclusive right.  Quasi-American Alberta might even be the first to declare itself a (Canadian[?]) State!

Nevertheless, the question before us for now is whether, as the words of the columnist quoted atop this post suggest, an American State would have to give up Statehood to join Canada.  (I doubt she had this question in mind, so I must take full blame myself!)

Before answering it, just for the record, let’s establish whether Maine and other things like it in the U.S. really are States.  After all, only 13 States formed the Union … Vermont joined having formerly been independent just as they … so did Texas, maybe California … that’s it.  The rest were carved out of Federally-controlled/occupied “Territories” (including Indian Lands), settled by Whites and others from elsewhere, then elevated to Statehood and “admitted to the Union.”  But if we accept that sovereigns can create other sovereigns, that’s OK.

So.  Could the Canadian Confederation include both Provinces and States?  Well apparently there’s such a thing as “asymmetrical federalism,” best illustrated by the Russian Federation at this time, the Holy Roman Empire previously (sort of).  But theoretically two ‘levels’ both claiming all but delegated powers would seem to cancel each other out!  Furthermore, Maine residents would be used to the theory of the 9th and 10th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, saving an undetermined reservoir of rights to them even against the government of Maine … as well as the whole three centuries of experience with The Common Law of Maine (including Massachusetts before Maine’s separation from it).  Section 26 of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms brings the 9th Amendment into Canada so to speak, but only insofar as it relates to “any other rights or freedoms that exist in Canada”: here’s one place where the competing “residual powers” doctrines collide head-on, because Mainers might not want to give up U.S. or Maine Unenumerated Rights, especially if they don’t know the extent of what they’d be giving up – kind of like the reluctance to codify the Royal Prerogative for fear of leaving out something that’ll become important in the future.  Then again, not knowing might make it easier for the Mainers!  Aside from this perhaps academic conundrum, in terms of legal systems it might go OK, since each Province does have its own version of the Common Law already, we’d just be adding Maine’s to the mix.  Maybe even the Residual conflict could be finessed with words saving as much of what each side is used to already as practicable.

What’s Admission look like?  Several of the relevantly-named documents here convey an idea, although they all cover admission of British territories … without a lapse of 250 years! 😉

Does Maine remain a State in all this?  I don’t see why not.  The physics of the balance of powers between State and Federal might be shuffled slightly in the move from the USA to Canada, and some shared powers would probably be introduced that America isn’t used to constitutionally … but then again, in reality America has evolved some degree of sharing via Federal mandates and/or funding, it’s just that the method and tone are very different, less ‘interactive’ you might say!

Then there’s the matter of the 3 Indian Reservations and associated Trust Lands in Maine (our example).  I don’t believe Canada holds lands in trust for First Nations groups or individuals like the U.S. Federal government does.  Quite a bit of the U.S. is actually Indian Trust Lands!  The U.S. exploits the land, pursuant to Treaties, and is supposed to collect the revenues and forward them to the Tribes or individual Indians who own them.  (They’ve been screwing this up for years though – so bad they even had to take down their website? – and Indians suing the government allege they’re out 12 Billion dollars all tolled!  Maybe they’d have better luck going to the Chinese!)  Especially Out West, Trust Lands have farms or ranches on them, or mineral extraction, or even towns, counties, railroads, highways, etc.  I don’t know how much land we’re talking about in Maine, but they originally claimed more than 2/3 of the State on the basis of unratified Treaties before a settlement agreement in 1980.  There’s also the matter of the Reserves themselves.  I’m not too familiar with Indian Law in Canada, and it’s pretty rough down here, but there’s the potential to consider that Reserves and Tribes are in fact subject sovereign States themselves (the 1800s Supreme Court’s “domestic dependent nations,” as bad as that sounds!), and my impression is that Tribal self-governance and Sovereignty are farther along here than in Canada.  For that matter, there are also a fair number of French-speakers in Maine … and the theory that most of them are Métis, facing potential recognition under the Canadian constitution as Aboriginal North Americans, and whatever that may entail – adjudication of Aboriginal Rights, Land Title, Sovereignty, hunting and trapping rights….

Does Canada accept a State though?  Well, talks with Maine might “call the question” of the Statehood of the other Provinces anyway.  OTOH, constitutional sticklers might consider it too great a risk to the union; as I’ve said, courts aren’t always legally correct.

As for the columnist’s other comment, “we would need to change our system of government to Canadian standards,” the British North America Act 1867 presumes the kind of government the Provinces have now, ie, the Lieutenant-Governor appointed by the Governor General (on advice of the Prime Minister) in The Queen’s name, governing with the advice of a Ministry retaining the confidence of (in Maine’s case I guess the lower house of) the legislature; and a legislature consisting of the LG and its one or two houses.  ISTM any deviation from this would require a Constitutional Amendment.

Another way might be a Treaty of Union between all Canada and Maine, or USA and Canada with respect to Maine, which Canada could simply receive into its law as constitutional legislation.

Huckabee crossed a picket line; Late night shows

…even if he doesn’t want to admit it.  When he went in a back door to appear on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno to avoid “crossing a picket line,” he either didn’t know or didn’t care that you don’t have to physically walk through a barricade of striking workers to “cross a picket line.”  All you have to do is help a struck workplace perform struck work.  IIUC, Leno, who is himself a Writers’ Guild member and theoretically still on strike, believes as long as he ad-libs and doesn’t “write,” he’s not scabbing himself.  But IIUC, the Guild – who are supposed to be his authority in such matters – disagrees, and was indeed picketing the taping of his show.  (If the Guild kicks Jay out, he’d be barred from writing for his own show!)  If Huckabee really supports the writers, he should’ve foregone the temptation to make political hay by going on Jay’s first new show since the strike began, on the eve of the Iowa straw poll.  But he either doesn’t understand, or doesn’t really care.

Catholic theologian David Tracy and sociologist Andrew Greeley have a theory that might explain Rev. Huck’s behavior.  They say Protestants have a congenital difficulty comprehending analogy – the idea that something is like something else – rooted in their Biblicism and centuries-long opposition to Latin-Rite Catholic material “sacramentalism.”  Thus, Huck wouldn’t have understood that the taboo against “crossing a picket line” isn’t necessarily literal.  It has nothing to do with a face-to-face challenge to the picketers on-duty at that moment, and everything to do with the total aim of the job action by all the employees.

Then again, maybe it’s just because he’s a Republican … which may be the same thing.  Greeley tells the one about the two old Irish-American ladies in Chicago: One says, “I hear Alderman O’Leary has become a Republican.”  The other replies, “Ridiculous!  Wasn’t I after seeing him in church just last Sunday?!”  😉

Of course, Leno calls himself a Catholic of some kind….  Conan O’Brien and Carson Daly, too.  (Daly even majored in Theology at Loyola Marymount … calling into question the Jesuit education available there!!)  So I guess we should boycott them and their advertisers!?  (I must confess that, last night, eating at a turnpike service area, their two TVs were blaring Fox News and O’Brien/Daly. Tough choice. I went with the latter, for which may God have Mercy on me! In Orthodoxy, we seek forgiveness even in a dilemma, rather than seek to justify ourselves before God – before Whom no creature can justify himself. But I saw it as the lesser of two evils!)

Catholic Dave Letterman* did the right thing, reaching an “interim agreement” with the Guild on behalf of himself and Craig Ferguson (aka Worldwide Pants Inc.), before returning to production.

(*–As Dave told fellow Catholic Ray Romano a year or two ago, “I have a season ticket, but I don’t make it to all the games.”)