Monday, October 31, 2022

Saying Goodbye To Hallowe’en 2022

Pretty sure I saw that post last year. How did you spend Hallowe'en 2022, Grandpa?

To Everything Turn, Turn, Turn....

Do the names "Preston Brooks" and "Charles Sumner" ring a bell? It was 166 years, 5 months, and 9 days ago today....

Brooks didn't apologize and, no, the House didn't kick him out:

The day after the attack, the House passed a resolution to establish a select committee to investigate the incident, and Speaker Nathaniel Banks of Massachusetts appointed five Members to look into the matter. The sworn testimony of Senator Albert Brown of Mississippi, whom Brooks spoke with shortly after the incident, describes Brooks’s justification for the attack: “Regarding the speech (of Mr. Sumner) as an attrocious [sic] libel on South Carolina, and a gross insult to my absent relative (Judge Butler), I determined, when it was delivered, to punish him for it.” The select committee recommended expelling Brooks from Congress, but the resolution did not secure the necessary two-thirds vote when it reached the House Floor. On July 15, 1856, Brooks resigned in protest, but was quickly returned to the seat he vacated by a special election held just one month later.

I doubt they'd get the 2/3rds vote to remove MTG if she did something similar (she won't.  EOD.), but Brooks had less justification, seemingly, than DePape did.

Except DePape is just a bull goose looney and, along with Ye and Herschel Walker, walking indictments of our mental health care system, or complete lack thereof.

MTG is just an opportunist. She'll be fishwrap by November 9, whether she wins re-election or not.

White People Must Be Protected From The Consequences Of Their Historical Actions!

Retweeted by George Conway, which is where I found it. He posted a number of tweets like this, in anticipation of today. But that wasn’t the argument heard in Court: Gotta protect white people from racism. I mean, it’s only fair. (Conway actually retweeted arguments that what Harvard does is the same as when Harvard excluded Jews 100 years ago. So, all white people are Jewish now? I’m confused. 🫀). But I digress; back to my point: This is where I was going; and it only got worse, especially when Alito got to speak. I guess we weren’t through with the Harvard case yet. The reasoning in this argument really is bad. White people gotta protect white privlege. And then the UNC case: That’s Exhibit “A.” This is Exhibit “B.” And Exhibit "C." KBJ keeps ruining the boys' party.

Scraping The Barrel

Raw Story:
On Monday, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported that Johnny Teague, the Republican running for Texas' 7th Congressional District, wrote a novel in which he imagines that Anne Frank converted to Christianity and accepted Jesus Christ as her lord and savior in her final days.
The novel is deeply offensive and also clearly just disappeared from view. But then I got to the end of the article and the penny dropped:
Teague is challenging incumbent Democratic Rep. Lizzie Pannill Fletcher, who represents the western suburbs of Houston in Congress.
The Republicans could not have chosen a worse candidate for that district.

Tickle Me Elmo

Not necessarily the best legal argument, but the basics are sound: Elmo can’t say he alone determines “for cause.” So, does Twitter just want to spend money on lawsuits? As I understand it, the blue check verification was started because some users were mistaken for other prominent persons, and sued Twitter to solve the problem (harassment of people with the same name as famous people is a thing).

And Elmo fired the Board (of directors?), so nobody can tell him what to do.

We are going to have to reckon with childish men for a long time. Not because they are powerful because of their immaturity (I truly don’t care what happens to Twitter, and the national economy doesn’t rest on Tesla), but because of the example they set.

Where is our American Volodymyr Zelenskyy?
But he’s just so cute, isn’t he?


Once, in my brief but unspectacular career in a pulpit, I preached in a black church in southern Louisiana (they were lovely people; truly warm and generous and kind to this very white boy). I got into the rhythm of it because I couldn't preach to them the way I did to my white German congregation. But I've never preached like that, and I never could. This is where the roots of rap and hip hop lie; no question about it. More truth spoken to power. These also make me realize (stop me if you've heard this one here!) that the signs I see on my street "SAVE TEXAS/SAVE THE NATION/VOTE REPUBLICAN" are incredibly racist.

Because how else do you counter a sermon (which isn't really a sermon; that's a political rally, not a Sunday service) like that?

Legal Explainer

This is what "contempt of court" looks like, when you perform your contempt in front of the judge:

Federal marshals escorted the leaders of True the Vote out of a Houston courtroom on Monday morning and into a holding cell. Catherine Engelbrecht and Gregg Phillips have been held in contempt of court for refusing to release the name of a person of interest in the defamation and computer hacking case against them, who they claim, without proof, is a confidential FBI informant.

They will remain in jail until they release the name of the man.

There is a serious question as to whether or not this man even exists, much less is a credible witness for his cause:

The involvement of a third man was unknown until a Thursday hearing, when Konnech’s attorney’s pressed Phillips for additional information about what Phillips claimed was an hourslong Konnech research session in Dallas that night. On the stand, Phillips revealed that another “analyst” was present in the room when Hasson allegedly offered evidence he’d uncovered about Konnech, showing the company had stored American poll worker data on a server in China. Neither he nor Engelbrecht would release the third man’s name, saying he was in danger from “drug cartels.”

But let me back up a paragraph:

In podcasts and interviews, Phillips described a dramatic night in early 2021 in a Dallas hotel, where a man he later identified as Mike Hasson revealed what True the Vote has said was hard evidence of Konnech’s alleged influence on the 2020 election.

And then jump forward a paragraph:

While True the Vote’s former attorney on the matter, Brock Akers, released Hasson’s name after U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt demanded he do so earlier in the month, True the Vote’s new legal team has chosen a different path. Akers has not appeared in court since providing Hasson’s name. Last week, Engelbrecht and Phillips were represented by Michael Wynne, a different Houston attorney, who told the court Akers was on vacation “on the Mediterranean” and would be withdrawing from the case. Wynne said Akers remained away, on a cruise, on Monday morning.

This is the Looney Tunes version of representing a client.  Akers, basically, didn't want to be charged with cnntempt himself.  Now he's "out of reach."  I don't mean to imply anything nefarious.  I just mean this is a clown show where the clowns don't realize they are clowns, or that this is a show.  I mean, this is not what you want to hear the judge saying to you (the lawyer) from the bench:

Again on Monday, Wynne said that True the Vote never had access to the data in question in the case. “The information was too large — the number of terabytes — for him to physically have taken possession,” he said. “He did not and does not have access.”

“I don’t know that,” Hoyt responded. “And neither do you.”

The "data in question" is data allegedly provided by Konnech's founder and CEO (who faces charges in Los Angeles) to contractors in China related to election information, data that was not supposed to leave the US. Konnech has sued True the Vote over a social media campaign they spearheaded that led to Yu's arrest.

Yeah, I'm confused, too.

And yeah, it wouldn't be a case involving social media if there weren't incoherent cries of retribution (which, frankly, sound the same coming from one side of the aisle or the other. I have heard these comments addressed at Republicans as well as by Republicans):

Their irrelevance did not matter to True the Vote’s followers, who offered screenshots of the text messages on social media as proof of Engelbrecht and Phillips’ poor treatment at the hands of federal officers. “This is what tyranny looks like,” one said, in a post shared by Phillips. Another said that if the judge sent the pair to jail, “I swear before God we are going to raise up such a cry to Heaven that the entire nation will hear it.”

Yeah, I'm not holdin' my breath.  Meanwhile, if you're still wondering whether somebody is making stuff up:

While Wynne told the court he’d placed calls to various offices at the FBI, there was no indication the agency had responded. Three weeks ago, said Dean Pamphilis, an attorney representing Konnech in the case, the agency made clear it had no confidentiality interest in the case. True the Vote has so far presented no evidence that is false.

“We need to know his name,” Pamphilis said. “We haven’t heard any testimony that his confidentiality status has anything to do with this case. It’s a complete red herring they’ve manufactured to keep us from the truth.” 

I'd say chances are pretty damned good they are.  Meanwhile, further into the annals of bad lawyering in court:

From that last one you get the context of the interruption. The defense wants to paint Weisselberg as a greedy turncoat weasel who took the money and ran and then, when the squeeze is on, ratted out his employers. And unlike Donald Trump (hem hem), Weiselberg is a liar, too! I can't say much for that defense, especially because it sounds like all they've got. But I can explain the point of the judge's interruption.

Juries sit as "triers of fact."  They decide what happened, sifting out the stories they are told by multiple witnesses who all, in effect, are blind men describing the elephant.  The jury is supposed to put those descriptions together and come up with: an elephant!  But whether the elephant committed fraud, or not, is a question of law.  Basically a trial is the prosecution saying "If the elephant looks like this, you find the defendant guilty!"  And the defense says "whatever the elephant looks like, it doesn't make the defendant guilty."  But that neither side can say is:  the defendant is guilty/not guilty, because that's a question of law, not fact.

Once the facts are decided by the jury (reasonable minds can disagree as to what the facts are; the jury makes a determination that is final as a matter of law), the judge decides questions of law (questions upon which reasonable minds cannot differ.). So if the judge finds there is insufficient evidence to create a crime, even if the jury finds the evidence they say is a crime, the judge gets to make that final decision, and throw out the jury verdict.  But short of that, if the judge decides the crime requires elements A,B, and C, and the jury says we find A,B, and C to be true and trustworthy, then the judge says:  defendant committed the crime!

But neither lawyers can say that, at any time.  They can say you should find the defendant guilty or not guilty.  But they can't tell the jurors what the law is.  The jury is only supposed to focus on what the facts are.  The judges, up to the highest court possible, will decide how the law applies to those facts. No judge gets to change those facts, once the jury has found them.  What those facts mean may be arguable; what the facts are for that case is supposed to be beyond dispute. (This is the problem of Alito making up the facts he wants to use to find the opinion he wants to write; but that's another matter.)

So an argument that the facts should lead you to decide there was a crime, is one thing.  The argument that the law won't let you find a crime, is another

Yes, it does take a lot for a judge to interrupt an opening statement. But this was a lot.

Trump's lawyers are going to have a lot of trouble with that.  Of course, they could be going for a mistrial; but that's not really a legal strategy, either, since you can't sabotage your own trial and then call it unjust that you lost.

Stay tuned.


Upon that night, when fairies light
On Cassilis Downans dance,
Or owre the lays, in splendid blaze,
On sprightly coursers prance;
Or for Colean the route is ta'en,
Beneath the moon's pale beams;
There, up the cove, to stray and rove,
Among the rocks and streams
To sport that night.

Among the bonny winding banks,
Where Doon rins, wimplin' clear,
Where Bruce ance ruled the martial ranks,
And shook his Carrick spear,
Some merry, friendly, country-folks,
Together did convene,
To burn their nits, and pou their stocks,
And haud their Halloween
Fu' blithe that night.

The lasses feat, and cleanly neat,
Mair braw than when they're fine;
Their faces blithe, fu' sweetly kythe,
Hearts leal, and warm, and kin';
The lads sae trig, wi' wooer-babs,
Weel knotted on their garten,
Some unco blate, and some wi' gabs,
Gar lasses' hearts gang startin'
Whiles fast at night.

Then, first and foremost, through the kail,
Their stocks maun a' be sought ance;
They steek their een, and graip and wale,
For muckle anes and straught anes.
Poor hav'rel Will fell aff the drift,
And wander'd through the bow-kail,
And pou't, for want o' better shift,
A runt was like a sow-tail,
Sae bow't that night.

Then, staught or crooked, yird or nane,
They roar and cry a' throu'ther;
The very wee things, todlin', rin,
Wi' stocks out owre their shouther;
And gif the custoc's sweet or sour.
Wi' joctelegs they taste them;
Syne cozily, aboon the door,
Wi cannie care, they've placed them
To lie that night.

The lasses staw frae 'mang them a'
To pou their stalks of corn:
But Rab slips out, and jinks about,
Behint the muckle thorn:
He grippet Nelly hard and fast;
Loud skirl'd a' the lasses;
But her tap-pickle maist was lost,
When kitlin' in the fause-house
Wi' him that night.

The auld guidwife's well-hoordit nits,
Are round and round divided,
And monie lads' and lasses' fates
Are there that night decided:
Some kindle coothie, side by side,
And burn thegither trimly;
Some start awa, wi' saucy pride,
And jump out-owre the chimlie
Fu' high that night.

Jean slips in twa wi' tentie ee;
Wha 'twas she wadna tell;
But this is Jock, and this is me,
She says in to hersel:
He bleezed owre her, and she owre him,
As they wad never mair part;
Till, fuff! he started up the lum,
And Jean had e'en a sair heart
To see't that night.

Poor Willie, wi' his bow-kail runt,
Was brunt wi' primsie Mallie;
And Mallie, nae doubt, took the drunt,
To be compared to Willie;
Mall's nit lap out wi' pridefu' fling,
And her ain fit it brunt it;
While Willie lap, and swore by jing,
'Twas just the way he wanted
To be that night.

Nell had the fause-house in her min',
She pits hersel and Rob in;
In loving bleeze they sweetly join,
Till white in ase they're sobbin';
Nell's heart was dancin' at the view,
She whisper'd Rob to leuk for't:
Rob, stowlins, prie'd her bonny mou',
Fu' cozie in the neuk for't,
Unseen that night.

But Merran sat behint their backs,
Her thoughts on Andrew Bell;
She lea'es them gashin' at their cracks,
And slips out by hersel:
She through the yard the nearest taks,
And to the kiln goes then,
And darklins graipit for the bauks,
And in the blue-clue throws then,
Right fear't that night.

And aye she win't, and aye she swat,
I wat she made nae jaukin',
Till something held within the pat,
Guid Lord! but she was quakin'!
But whether 'was the deil himsel,
Or whether 'twas a bauk-en',
Or whether it was Andrew Bell,
She didna wait on talkin'
To spier that night.

Wee Jennie to her grannie says,
"Will ye go wi' me, grannie?
I'll eat the apple at the glass
I gat frae Uncle Johnnie:"
She fuff't her pipe wi' sic a lunt,
In wrath she was sae vap'rin',
She notice't na, an aizle brunt
Her braw new worset apron
Out through that night.

"Ye little skelpie-limmer's face!
I daur you try sic sportin',
As seek the foul thief ony place,
For him to spae your fortune.
Nae doubt but ye may get a sight!
Great cause ye hae to fear it;
For mony a ane has gotten a fright,
And lived and died deleeret
On sic a night.

"Ae hairst afore the Sherramoor, --
I mind't as weel's yestreen,
I was a gilpey then, I'm sure
I wasna past fifteen;
The simmer had been cauld and wat,
And stuff was unco green;
And aye a rantin' kirn we gat,
And just on Halloween
It fell that night.

"Our stibble-rig was Rab M'Graen,
A clever sturdy fallow:
His son gat Eppie Sim wi' wean,
That lived in Achmacalla:
He gat hemp-seed, I mind it weel,
And he made unco light o't;
But mony a day was by himsel,
He was sae sairly frighted
That very night."

Then up gat fechtin' Jamie Fleck,
And he swore by his conscience,
That he could saw hemp-seed a peck;
For it was a' but nonsense.
The auld guidman raught down the pock,
And out a hanfu' gied him;
Syne bade him slip frae 'mang the folk,
Some time when nae ane see'd him,
And try't that night.

He marches through amang the stacks,
Though he was something sturtin;
The graip he for a harrow taks.
And haurls it at his curpin;
And every now and then he says,
"Hemp-seed, I saw thee,
And her that is to be my lass,
Come after me, and draw thee
As fast this night."

He whistled up Lord Lennox' march
To keep his courage cheery;
Although his hair began to arch,
He was say fley'd and eerie:
Till presently he hears a squeak,
And then a grane and gruntle;
He by his shouther gae a keek,
And tumbled wi' a wintle
Out-owre that night.

He roar'd a horrid murder-shout,
In dreadfu' desperation!
And young and auld came runnin' out
To hear the sad narration;
He swore 'twas hilchin Jean M'Craw,
Or crouchie Merran Humphie,
Till, stop! she trotted through them
And wha was it but grumphie
Asteer that night!

Meg fain wad to the barn hae gaen,
To win three wechts o' naething;
But for to meet the deil her lane,
She pat but little faith in:
She gies the herd a pickle nits,
And two red-cheekit apples,
To watch, while for the barn she sets,
In hopes to see Tam Kipples
That very nicht.

She turns the key wi cannie thraw,
And owre the threshold ventures;
But first on Sawnie gies a ca'
Syne bauldly in she enters:
A ratton rattled up the wa',
And she cried, Lord, preserve her!
And ran through midden-hole and a',
And pray'd wi' zeal and fervour,
Fu' fast that night;

They hoy't out Will wi' sair advice;
They hecht him some fine braw ane;
It chanced the stack he faddom'd thrice
Was timmer-propt for thrawin';
He taks a swirlie, auld moss-oak,
For some black grousome carlin;
And loot a winze, and drew a stroke,
Till skin in blypes cam haurlin'
Aff's nieves that night.

A wanton widow Leezie was,
As canty as a kittlin;
But, och! that night amang the shaws,
She got a fearfu' settlin'!
She through the whins, and by the cairn,
And owre the hill gaed scrievin,
Whare three lairds' lands met at a burn
To dip her left sark-sleeve in,
Was bent that night.

Whyles owre a linn the burnie plays,
As through the glen it wimpl't;
Whyles round a rocky scaur it strays;
Whyles in a wiel it dimpl't;
Whyles glitter'd to the nightly rays,
Wi' bickering, dancing dazzle;
Whyles cookit underneath the braes,
Below the spreading hazel,
Unseen that night.

Among the brackens, on the brae,
Between her and the moon,
The deil, or else an outler quey,
Gat up and gae a croon:
Poor Leezie's heart maist lap the hool!
Near lav'rock-height she jumpit;
but mist a fit, and in the pool
Out-owre the lugs she plumpit,
Wi' a plunge that night.

In order, on the clean hearth-stane,
The luggies three are ranged,
And every time great care is ta'en',
To see them duly changed:
Auld Uncle John, wha wedlock joys
Sin' Mar's year did desire,
Because he gat the toom dish thrice,
He heaved them on the fire
In wrath that night.

Wi' merry sangs, and friendly cracks,
I wat they didna weary;
And unco tales, and funny jokes,
Their sports were cheap and cheery;
Till butter'd so'ns, wi' fragrant lunt,
Set a' their gabs a-steerin';
Syne, wi' a social glass o' strunt,
They parted aff careerin'
Fu' blythe that night.

--Robert Burns

You cannot make heads or tails of this without Burns' annotations, which you can find here (and you thought Eliot invented the self-annotated poem), complete with an Eliotesque headnote (he expected you to read Greek and Latin; Burns expects you to read Scots dialect and know that Cassilis Downans is not just a place, but a fairy haunt.  What did people do before Google?).

Yes, I’ve done this once or twice before. But the point of the poem is that it describes the Hallowe’en parties of yore, recounting all the practices usual for the celebration. Most of them were aimed at prognostication, usually around who one would marry. It’s really fun to read, and following Burns’ notes will repay the effort. What it doesn’t have to do with is ghoulies and ghosties and things that go bump in the night. Which tells you our modern Hallowe’en is a very modern invention, and probably says more about us than about our ancestors.

Who seem to have had a much better time of it.

For All The Hallow's Evens

For all the saints.  Or All Saint's Day.  Or actually, Dios de los Muertos, which is how it's marketed.

I've posted some variations of this before.  Hey, this site is free, right?  

Some of my best childhood memories revolve around Hallowe'en.  My mother's youngest sister, the "crazy" aunt who came to our church Halloween party (this was when I was just barely too old to wander the streets at night with the "children"), put on makeup to look like a corpse in a coffin, and then joined us to bob for apples (probably the first time I'd done that, and I found out what hard, wet work it is.  And what absolutely foolish fun.).  Or just the freedom of wandering the streets at night without my parents in tow, joining all the neighborhood kids of the Baby Boom as we walked from house to house in clumps that gathered and broke again, passing stories of where to get the best candy, or the homemade stuff like popcorn balls and caramel apples, stuff always gone by the time you got there, or always from a house several streets over of undetermined location or ill-defined description.  And the story always included that house being "out" by the time your heard of it.  It prepared us for Christmases when we'd have to find the "IT" toy for our kids in an unforeseeable future.  My wife dressing up in black tights and leotard as a "cat" for our daughter's first Hallowe'en....oh, wait.  You don't need to hear about that one.

I still send my Aunt a Peanuts Hallowe’en card every year.

All the internet bluster about Hallowe'en and Samhain seems to have faded now, as well as the business of Hallowe'en being "stolen" from "ancient practices."  Most of that is echoing remnants of the early 19th century, Romanticism turning into Victorianism.  It was the Romantic movement that began to preserve "folklore," as it came to be called.  "Came to be" not because it was illegitimate, but because it was ignored and despised before the Romantics, who saved it but didn't revive it.  The Victorians then supercharged it, along with fuzzy memories of medieval Europe.  Most of the ghost stories and "monsters" we know now (vampires, werewolves, ghosts, goblins, etc.) are products of the Victorian imagination, not remnants of stories told around campfires 3 millenia ago.  The Victorians tried to link them to an imagined past to make them "authentic" in a risingly scientific age, but the connections are horseshit.  Most of those stories are distinctly "modern."

Well, as modern as Poe's stories, most of which are conveniently set in a Europe of an indeterminate age when people dressed in what is now costume and ran around in castles and buildings that look more like something from a Disney themepark than reality.  And Poe was writing those in the mid-19th century, in America. Again, the connection to an imagined past gave the stories the verisimilitude they required.

So most of our Hallowe'en is a matter of memory and conjecture, and the stories we tell ourselves.  But it isn't rooted in some "truth" we destroyed with our "enlightenment" or our "progress."  As with most things, our "truth" about these matters is what we say it is.

All Saint's Day, per New Advent, started in...well, here, let me just give you the whole magilla:

In the early days the Christians were accustomed to solemnize the anniversary of a martyr's death for Christ at the place of martyrdom. In the fourth century, neighbouring dioceses began to interchange feasts, to transfer relics, to divide them, and to join in a common feast; as is shown by the invitation of St. Basil of Caesarea (379) to the bishops of the province of Pontus. Frequently groups of martyrs suffered on the same day, which naturally led to a joint commemoration. In the persecution of Diocletian the number of martyrs became so great that a separate day could not be assigned to each. But the Church, feeling that every martyr should be venerated, appointed a common day for all. The first trace of this we find in Antioch on the Sunday after Pentecost. We also find mention of a common day in a sermon of St. Ephrem the Syrian (373), and in the 74th homily of St. John Chrysostom (407). At first only martyrs and St. John the Baptist were honoured by a special day. Other saints were added gradually, and increased in number when a regular process of canonization was established; still, as early as 411 there is in the Chaldean Calendar a "Commemoratio Confessorum" for the Friday after Easter. In the West Boniface IV, 13 May, 609, or 610, consecrated the Pantheon in Rome to the Blessed Virgin and all the martyrs, ordering an anniversary. Gregory III (731-741) consecrated a chapel in the Basilica of St. Peter to all the saints and fixed the anniversary for 1 November. A basilica of the Apostles already existed in Rome, and its dedication was annually remembered on 1 May. Gregory IV (827-844) extended the celebration on 1 November to the entire Church. The vigil seems to have been held as early as the feast itself. The octave was added by Sixtus IV (1471-84).

So, mid 9th century, All Saints got set as a date on the Church's calendar, having started under Gregory a century earlier. That led, later, to All Soul's on November 2. It was so important a day it acquired an “Eve,” as did, later, Christmas. I don’t know of any other date on the Christian calendar that has such an honor. (Easter has Holy Saturday, but nobody considers that “Easter Eve.”)

The connections to Ireland, especially jack o'lanterns (turnips in Ireland, only after a long period exclusively pumpkins, which are as American as corn and tobacco), didn't really come until the 19th century.  Attempted connections between the Irish Samhain and All Saint's are all pretty much retrojection, especially as an attempt to connect Hallowe'en to Irish practices it supposedly overtook. Gregory was a long way from Ireland in the 8th century and Christianity only reached the island in the 9th century.  It's a pretty small tail wagging a pretty large dog to imagine Gregory picked the date for the entire church just to appeal to an Irish pagan festival in a land that hadn’t yet learned of Xianity.

The vigil, by the way, that "seems to have been held as early as the feast itself," is Hallowe'en.  That vigil appears in the literature as early as Shakespeare, where the practices of the Roman church were slowly being turned Anglican; but that's another story.  Curiously, most of the literature on Hallowe'en begins in the late 18th century, with Robert Burns in Scotland.  It continues in the early 19th century with Walter Scott.  It jumps the pond to Washington Irving's story of Ichabod Crane, where Disney (?; or someone before them) transforms the pumpkin into a jack o' lantern, which makes it a Hallowe'en story.  And then we get Poe.  The iconic black cat of Hallowe'en decorations arguably stems from Poe's story of the same name.  By Poe's time, of course, especially in Puritan tinctured America, the holiday has nothing to do with the Roman Catholic vigil.

Interestingly, the Aztecs and Mayans (and even lesser known groups in Mexico) had festivals honoring the return of the dead.  I can't say for sure the dates of the observances didn't shift after Christians changed the culture, but George Frazer found the Irish expecting the return of the dead around the end of October, which makes sense as people left the fields (farmers first, herdsman as it got too cold finally for the herds) and went indoors to survive the winter.  Thinking of those lost is a likelier custom as winter sets in, especially in Europe.  It seems to be have been as true in tropical Mexico, where the current Dios de los Muertos has very distinct roots in the culture of Mexico.  Many of the practices of the days extend into pre-colombian times, including the idea that the children who have departed return on November 1, the adults on November 2.  Did they adopt the Catholic dates?  Maybe.  It is certainly a festival that is far more "pagan" than it is "Christian."  Not that there's anything wrong with that!

I noted one year (somewhere in my archives!) that there's still no concerted "War on Hallowe'en," even this year when we're told Skittles and other candies (not chocolate?  Apparently not) are going to be dusted with fenantyl (injected? laced?  I think most people don't know how fentanyl is ingested or what form it takes when it's not being consumed.)  Anyway, that doesn't seem to have gotten much traction.  Last year it was "supply chain problems."  This year?  Too much candy, I guess.  The original fears were foreign objects in homemade treats, so candy apples and popcorn balls disappeared (who's going to make those now, anyway?  Easier to imagine drug cartels giving away fentanyl.).  Now we have to fear packaged candy.  It reminds me of a 70 year old essay by Margaret Mead (anybody remember her?  She was a big noise once upon a time.) deriding the concept of an "age of anxiety."  The term itself referred to the fear of nuclear war that hung over everything for 20 years or so (ah, yes, I remember it well.).  Anyway, Mead pointed out that tribes in jungles and forests (and what is the difference, really?  One is less "civilized" than the other?) lived lives faced with perils at every step (from the flora and fauna, basically), and we in "civilization" had no such fears of true imminent individual death.  Well, compared to the fear of nuclear war, she was right.  But today?  What would she say today about blacks being shot by cops willy-nilly, or school shootings, or pandemics nobody wants to protect themselves from because of the inconvenience?  Or people scared to death of drugs and razor blades in Hallowe'en giveaways?  That one’s been around since I was on the streets after dark on October 31.

The Age of Anxiety is real, and it continues to plague us.  Of course it does so largely because we continue to allow ourselves to be anxious.  But I digress....

I have lamented the changing face of Hallowe'en. (Pro tip:  when you can link to posts that are over 15 years old, you've been at this too long.)  I have layered Hallowe'en into the more important rituals/holy days of our modern American calendar.   I still think some reasonable connections can be made there.  I'm going to try to keep that in mind as we move toward Advent.  (Is Hallowe'en the gateway to Advent?  Or just to All Saint's, which prepares us for the liturgical year's end?)  I've commented on the "razor blades in apples" stories, though I think the reference there (to a Salon article, of all things) is less reliable than other information I have which provides a more specific date to the origin of all those stories.

I am now reliably informed that one of the earliest full mentions of Hallowe'en and its attendant celebrations is the poem by Robert Burns that I've posted before on October 31.  I'll continue that tradition this year.  Consider this just prelude, as Hallowe'en itself is prelude to All Saint's which, I would argue, is prelude to the end of Pentecost (the season of, I mean), and in that way preparation, itself, for Advent.  Which is preparation, too.  But there I go, getting ahead of myself again.

Mostly, Hallowe'en is for fun.


Also, look out for badges! And conservative guys scared of cities! Or invisible badges! More last minute costume options: Or Radio Numbers Guy (truly frightening!) Blackface not included: And movies! For kids!!

Sunday, October 30, 2022

Just Burn πŸ”₯ It Down And Be Done With It πŸ”₯

Very  poor grade trolling. The profile pic is Beto. The title is the name of a PAC using the quote from Abbot (about Uvalde. Yeah, down here we haven’t forgotten Uvalde) to troll Abbot by running ads against him and reminding everyone what he said.

And I can’t find out what he’s got against Prof. Vladeck, so I’m guessing he/she/it just thinks she’s/it’s clever.

Well, in a “made-you-look!” sorta way…

πŸ•³️ Funny I Didn’t Read About This On Twitter

His new lax rules allowing a free-for-all of language, attacks, and hate speech on the platform has resulted in several advertisers withdrawing from the platform and costing $33 billion on the day of closing alone. 
“Spreading conspiracy theories, firing senior level executives for cause, which will not hold up in court," said Galloway. "And racial slurs are exploding 14-fold as soon as he takes ownership. As you pointed out, this is day two. In addition, Jim, you and your colleagues, I believe in just a matter of days, will be talking about the fact that he's compromised. You have Xi Jinping, who has demonstrated autocratic power over the markets. Elon Musk's wealth, a huge component of it, is tied up with his business success in China. We've never had someone this powerful, this dependent upon Xi Jinping. It's going to be very interesting. In my view, he's built himself a hole full of vipers and grenades and jumped in."
I’m very curious about those “just cause” firings because I know that was written into the deal (such an “escape clause ” would have to be), but I don’t think it can be the “Get Out Of Jail Free” card Elmo imagines it to be. Having just paid lawyers and court costs to pay do what he didn’t want to do (buy Twitter), you’d think he’d have asked someone: “Will this involve me in three more lawsuits?” Because indeed it will. What’s the downside for the plaintiffs? They lose and don’t get their golden parachutes?

What’s the upside for Elmo? He’s already proven he’ll collapse like a house of cards in legal proceedings, and “just cause” doesn’t mean “just ‘cause I didn’t want to pay them!” He didn’t keep them on long enough to establish a “just cause,” and proving they screwed him on the purchase is the fight he just lost in court.

So the plaintiffs will get their money if they sue (if they don’t they’re fools) later rather than sooner. And they’ll probably get attorneys’ fees, too.

Like the man said, Elmo has built (dug?) himself a hole πŸ•³️, filled it with vipers and grenades, and jumped in.

And Twitter’s losing money again. And if Elmo can’t get that self-driving car on the market, and his king-promised but never delivered truck, and a robot that isn’t a fake; and soon…he’s gonna have bigger problems.
There go a few more advertisers…

Elmo Say: “Never Mind!”

The website Elmo relied on reported that Hillary Clinton was killed in 2016 and replaced by a body double.

Why I Reject “Traditional” Xian Soteriology

Exhibit A.

(Of course the Catholics did it to the natives here through the good auspices of the King of Spain, so I guess we could consider this…karma?)

“I Saw It On Twitter, It Must Be True!”—Elmo

Which means there’s probably something to this, too:

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Holier Than Your Racism

Well, yeah.

Someone’s Being An Asshole

(The adjacent problem with the internet.) Or just coming apart in public: This is both socially acceptable and context appropriate behavior: As is this, which shames the people referenced above and calls upon us all to listen to the better angels of our nature.

Someone’s Hurting πŸ’°

But do they have to do it online?

Editors and paying for what you read are looking better and better. 


Say What You Want About Texas Politics...

"Furries" in public schools is too nutty even for Texas.

A GOP candidate for House District 138 tried to raise the issue in January.  I can't find a reference to it in Texas politics since then.

Maybe it's because Dan Patrick tried to get everybody riled up a few years back about transgender students using the "wrong" bathrooms in public schools.  That didn't get very far because Patrick is the Lite Guv (Molly Ivins' term) and public schools in Texas are independent government agencies over which the Lite Guv has no authority.  That and he's just plain nuts.

I've heard some very silly things in some of the Texas campaigns.  Fear-mongering about "Democrat" judges releasing violent criminals on bail so they can commit more violent crimes and turn the border into an...easily crossed river (which it is.  The drought in Texas is helping with that, I'm sure.) is still running hot (I get a mailer about it almost every day.). 

But no mailers about "furries" in the schools.  Or litter boxes.  Or hissing children.

Then again, even book bans seems to have run their course.  I think people just got bored with it and decided the problem was solved and they went back to worrying about school holidays and what to do with the kids then.

Is It Just Me?

Or are there not that many white people standing behind Obama?

Which is nice.  Looks more like America than the people always standing behind Trump.  Who are by and large the same people, rally to rally.  I haven't seen too many Q-Anon people at those rallies who are not white.  Or at any Q-Anon event, for that matter.

Lotta broken white people out there.  Not a majority, or even a significant minority (MTG is "powerful" because she jumps in front of any camera in range; not because she has any real authority.  Neither does Trump.).  But I've gotta admit; white people are a problem for this country.

Texas Banned "Drop Boxes" in 2021

So I guess these volunteers in Texas are going to harass voters at polling places. Which I suppose could happen, unless those polling places are in parts of town where those "volunteers" fear to tread.

I speak from experience.  When I moved into the part of Houston where I've lived and raised my daughter for the past 25 years, it was considered a "sketchy" area.  Mostly, I suspect, because it was as ethnically diverse as any part of Houston, and it was before Houston started celebrating that diversity (hey, it was much worse here in the '80's, when "diversity" meant white people going to a restaurant for "Mexican" food.).

It's gentrified since then; somewhat.  But there are still people who wouldn't come to the brand new (now not so new) HEB until the store posted off-duty police officers in uniform outside the store, and put up security cameras (on trailers, to be as conspicuous as possible).  The "rich people" from nearby were afraid to be here in daylight, and absolutely would not be here after dark.  Same people who have time to fret about who's voting, in other words.

I just don't think those folks are going to have a lot to do in most of the major urban areas where the Democratic wrong voters live.

I Guess The Only Difference…

All thanks to Elon Musk, who has revived the perfect word to describe what the Republican Party has in mind for us if they take over either or both houses of Congress in January: Hellscape. That's what they're planning to turn this country into — a nation that is already struggling with issues of race, economic inequality, gender, immigration and, yes, crime. They've got plans for the hellscape they dream of: More guns on the street will solve the crime problem; going colorblind will wipe out issues of race; keeping the minimum wage right where it is will take care of economic inequality, which is exactly where they want it; passing laws against gender-affirming medical care will handle those scary trans kids; and accusing Democrats of "opening the border" should keep all those brown people on the other side of the wall they (sort of) built but have already forgotten is there, probably because it's a total failure.
The U.S. Attorney in Delaware has been told to do NOTHING, other than make a 'sweetheart' deal, if even that. There are two sets of 'Justice' in the now Communist USA. Our Country is going to HELL!!!" how we get there. πŸ‘Ή

🀷🏻‍♂️ πŸ‘Ή

Friday, October 28, 2022

Can Elmo Promise The Quality Of Argument Is Going To Improve?

Because, yes, the argument raised about the state action doctrine…oh wait, that’s coming up here: Dammit, not yet there, either! There! "Most disputed areas of law”? By lawyers? Law professors? Judges? Or is he confusing “disputed” with “recently discussed? Because I’d never heard of it, and I understand it’s of very recent vintage. And the biggest dispute is whether it’s really stupid or the stupidest idea any lawyer has ever heard of.

But what gets my attention is how “Twitter’s substantive defense of actual First Amendment rights” becomes “ ‘substantive first amendment’ speech.” Which, as Popehat says, is not a thing. I mean, there’s isn’t any speech (or print) that escapes (or acquires) First Amendment protection because it is not (or us) “substantive.”

So, will Twitter do something about this level of stupidity? Or would that be conspiring to suppress free speech (legislative action by definition may be unwise, but can never be conspiratorial).

“Enough Is Enough”

And now let’s see who doesn’t. Or who condemned the harassment of Supreme Court Justices but is silent now. Well, that’s sane and logical. That’s just crazy talk! Objective journalism would never allow it! Besides, they need both sides on their shows! (Don’t they?)


The man who discovered this continent for Europe started enslaving the people already here almost the minute he stepped off his boat.

We slaughtered the natives without compunction or concern for the better part of the 19th century into the 20th, herding the survivors onto lands we had no use for until, in some cases, we did.

We set up the first international trade in human beings, and ran that industry for 400 years. It took 5 years of war to end it, and then we just continued it without the “owning human beings” part, up to the present day.

We were lynching people (only certain ones, of course) and making postcards about only 100 years ago. Emmett Till was lynched in 1955 (the year I was born, so not long ago at all); his murderers were acquitted. A decade later people bombed black churches because, you know…black churches.

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was vilified as a Communist (sound familiar 60 years later?). I. Edgar Hoover considered King a threat to national security. He used the considerable power of the FBI trying to prove it. Nobody stopped him.

And I haven’t even gotten to COINTELPRO and the House Un-American Activities Committee. Or how many “white” immigrants were not “white” until they were. Or the American eugenics laws that taught the Nazis how to do it.

Honestly, history isn’t that hard. Is it?

Judges Would Also Accept…

"Well, it’s Charlie Kirk.” ????!!???? Pelosi is third in line to the presidency. I’m surprised she and her family don’t have Secret Service protection. If you’ll excuse me, I have to cleanse my blog of conspiracy theories. I recognize a new hysteria in the making. Certainly no reason to think David DePage was influenced by MAGA thinking. No reason at all. Yeah, that pretty much says it.

And He’s Still Not On Twitter

Well, unless Elmo changes his mind. Again. And yes, fans of Elmo are nasty: As in “nasty, racist xenophobes.” Well, one of them. He’s probably not alone.

And since Elmo didn’t buy Netflix or Apple, I’m gonna be fine.
Even if the worst happens.

I’m Old Enough To Remember…

...when the media declared us a “post-racial country” because Obama won.

Lasted most of his two terms.

All of us want to pretend we aren’t involved in America’s original sin, that we don’t bear the scare of that hidden wound.

Elmo Didn’t Want To Buy Twitter

The essential truth of every social network is that the product is content moderation, and everyone hates the people who decide how content moderation works. Content moderation is what Twitter makes — it is the thing that defines the user experience. It’s what YouTube makes, it’s what Instagram makes, it’s what TikTok makes. They all try to incentivize good stuff, disincentivize bad stuff, and delete the really bad stuff. Do you know why YouTube videos are all eight to 10 minutes long? Because that’s how long a video has to be to qualify for a second ad slot in the middle. That’s content moderation, baby — YouTube wants a certain kind of video, and it created incentives to get it. That’s the business you’re in now. The longer you fight it or pretend that you can sell something else, the more Twitter will drag you into the deepest possible muck of defending indefensible speech. And if you turn on a dime and accept that growth requires aggressive content moderation and pushing back against government speech regulations around the country and world, well, we’ll see how your fans react to that. 
Anyhow, welcome to hell. This was your idea.
No, I’m not penning an apologia for Elmo. I’m ROFLMAO. Excellent article there about what Elmo just got himself into.

“Richest Man In The World” don’t mean jackshit when you buy something you shouldn’t.
Yeah. Now imagine the advertisers who don’t want to be associated with Ye. Or Truth Social. Or Parler. That’s what Elmo just bought. And what if it becomes Twitter? What then, Elmo?

In Other News…

One of these things is not like the other: No, not Trump trying to claim credit he isn’t due. It’s “R’s are now poised to fare better.”
"MAGA Republicans are trying to undermine confidence in our elections because they know when more people vote, they lose,” said DCCC spokesperson James Singer when asked about the email. “The DCCC is fighting to ensure Pennsylvanians know how easy, safe, and secure it is to vote and to ensure every eligible ballot gets counted."
Trump has mounted a nationwide effort to challenge election results. That’s the credit he wants to claim.