Thankfully, reality trumps posture

There’s plenty out there about the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage ruling and I can’t really add anything that probably hasn’t already been said, just an observation from looking at the State News Page in my RSS reader this morning.

One of the first things posted on that site was Gov. Daugaard’s statement on the decision. I found it interesting. It said, “I would have preferred for this change to come through the democratic process, rather than the courts. We are a nation of laws, and the state will follow the law. I will be working with the Attorney General to ascertain what this ruling means for state and local governments.”

My thought on the first sentence is that we should consider how we got to this. Citizens elected legislators, legislators passed laws, citizens exercised their right of access to the courts, the courts issued a ruling. Seems to sum up a significant part of “the democratic process.” As for the last sentence, the item on the site immediately prior to the governor’s statement was a release from the Attorney General’s Office in which AG Marty Jackley said, “Because we are a Nation of laws the State will be required to follow the Court’s order that every State must recognize and license same-sex marriage.” Seems to me, then, that there wasn’t much work to be done to “ascertain what this ruling means”.

Fortunately, (although apparently coming after announcements of the approval of $23.7 million for water and waste projects and the GF&P finding “rusty crayfish” in the Missouri), the site contained this headline: South Dakota Prepared To Issue Same Sex Marriage Licenses. Basically, the Department of Health’s system was ready to issue those licenses by 1 p.m. yesterday and the licenses could be obtained at any county register of deeds office. Looks like someone in state government was thinking ahead.

Granted, at least as of this posting, the more partisan announcements are prominently featured on the news page while the significant one is a bit buried below. But at least the state moved far more rapidly than I would have thought, without creating any delay or roadblocks. Reality can be a dose of fresh air.

Indeed, changed understandings of marriage are characteristic of a Nation where new dimensions of freedom become apparent to new generations, often through perspectives that begin in pleas or protests and then are considered in the political sphere and the judicial process.

Obergefell v. Hodges (2015)

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Discombobulated and dislocated

Everyone has their habits and routines. But I guarantee you don’t realize how many until they disappear — especially after 20+ years.

Things have been extremely sparse around here because I am still adjusting to living in a new home after just under 23 years in the house we built. For example, the living room where I’ve had my morning coffee and read the local daily read isn’t there (nor is the local daily, but that’s another story). That also means the chair I sat in is in an environment in which I am not used to reading and is no longer has a bookcase to my left. The silverware isn’t in the drawer to the right of the dishwasher. In fact, there’s nothing but empty space to the right of the dishwasher. And don’t get me started on where light switches are and the way they’re set up. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve used the correct switch to turn on the lights in the garage in the 5 weeks we’ve lived here.

And the physical dislocation affects routines. I was out of town this week so, while sitting in a restaurant Tuesday night, I decided to take a look at my RSS reader. I discovered that it had been 30 days since the last I looked at almost all the 100+ feeds was 30 days before. And I’m pretty sure I did a “mark all as read” back then (and haven’t looked at them again since Tuesday night). It isn’t just that I’ve been busy. The places where I routinized so many day-to-day activities aren’t here so I’ve lost many automatic and subconscious reminders. Those routines/habits haven’t been created here yet.

So, it might still be a while before Weekend Edition and other things on the blog return to some semblance of normality. I can assure you, though, that the past five weeks establish that “home” isn’t a structure or place. It’s where you return to the people (and dogs) who are your life.

The second half of a man’s life is made up of nothing but the habits he has acquired during the first half.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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A purge of Stalinist proportions

Lights have been out here for a bit due to a major change. In mid-May my wife and I moved from the home we built 23 years ago into a townhome with about half the space. As you would expect, you accumulate a lot of stuff over such a stretch, meaning you have to dispose of a lot when you move.

How bad was it? Well, within an hour of the movers leaving, my wife and I were watching Hoarding: Buried Alive to make us feel better. And I haven’t had spent a total of about 10 minutes reading in the last two weeks, if that.

In our case, of course, there were books to deal with — and books and books and books and books. (I won’t go into the Jon Crane prints or the framed autographed rock albums or the framed Fillmore, Avalon and other classic rock posters for which we no longer have sufficient wall space.) “My library” alone had 12 to 14 feet of ceiling-height, built-in bookcases (plus the 5-foot standalone I placed at the end a couple years ago). Our bedroom had two more 7′ x 2 1/2′ bookcases and there were smaller ones throughout the house.

That meant hundreds of books went out the door. Once I decided what I was keeping (about seven bankers boxes) my kids and some friends got their pick of what they wanted. A dozen or more boxes went to a used book store; with a few exceptions, my bookcase full of SF went as a package to one good home; and the VA Hospital got five overflowing moving boxes worth.

I’m not one of those for leaving books in boxes in a garage or storage space so I’m guessing more will be heading out the door as we get more settled in. I know I brought more than we have room for but it’s a process of dealing with exactly what shelf space is going to be available.

I lost plenty of long-time friends. But I’m proud to say that less than a dozen ended up in recycling instead of a new home. I guess that makes me a benevolent liquidator.

For me, books are a symbol of freedom and transformation. They opened my mind and changed my life and I want others to share in that opportunity.

Gail Rebuck, British House of Lords, Nov. 6, 2014

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Weekend Edition: 5-9

Interesting Reading in the Interweb Tubes

  • Banning Books in the 21st Century (“Questions for the parents who want these books banned: Do your kids have cell phones? Access to the internet and social media? Video games? Cable television? If the answer is yes to any of those questions, then your kid is learning about the world already through less tasteful venues.”)

Blog Headline of the Week

Bookish Linkage

Nonbookish Linkage

To me bookstores are like brothels of imagination, each book is luring me over going, ‘Read me, read me.’

Ruby Wax

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Yielding our freedoms: The afterpiece

This series has focused on how actions by the South Dakota Council of Defense during World War I flouted both freedom of religion and freedom of speech. Yet it’s easy to have nearly 100 years of hindsight. I’m not denouncing everything the Council and its members did. They undoubtedly were doing what they thought best for the nation and the state at the time. The Council also took a variety of helpful actions.

For example, its first order regulated the price of seed corn. Ensuing ones regulated grain grading and testing and set a maximum wage for harvesting and threshing work. In addition, in light of “unjust, unreasonable and excess prices,” the Council issued an order setting the maximum net profit in producing and distributing ice, of all thing.

Other orders created a registration system for men between the ages of 16 and 21 and 31 and 65 who were unemployed or not employed in “necessary or useful” occupations so they could assist with food production. (“Capitalists,” insurance salesmen, stockbrokers and “fortune tellers, clairvoyants and palmists” were among the occupations specifically deemed as not necessary, useful. essential or productive.) Concern about idlers also led to the adoption of the “Pool Hall Resolution.” It urged local government to “take immediate steps to more stringently regulate, control, or, if need be, closed all places of loitering and loafing, whether the same be pool halls, places of card playing, or places of vice detrimental to public safety.”

The Council also thought it crucial to support Liberty Bond campaigns and volunteerism. Yet that also led to again intruding on civil liberties. For example, it issued a July 8, 1918, order made it a criminal offense to oppose, discourage, obstruct or interfere with Liberty Bond sales or other fundraising and volunteer requests related to the war. Moreover, including county councils, more than 2,200 “cases” were heard dealing with personal opinion. “The major portion of these hearings related to those abundantly able to take their apportionment of Liberty Bonds, but who refused to do so,” the Council reported. “Surprising discoveries were made. Men heretofore considered reputable citizens attempted to shirk their duty in helping their Country in its financing of a great war.” Except for a few “black spots,” the Council said “delinquents became better citizens” because of the hearings. As for the black spots, the identities of “those who remained obdurate in their position of indifference or opposition are a part of the records of this State, an heritage their children and neighbors will not soon forget, but will refer to with shame and regret.”

On December 19, 1918, the Council essentially ended. Gov. Peter Norbeck, also chair of the Council, issued a proclamation vacating its orders and regulations, terminating county councils of defense, and directing the Council to wrap up its activities and prepare a final report. According to the report, between May 8, 1917, and October 31, 1919, the Council spent $19,769.96 of the $20,000 appropriated it by the Legislature. Yet the book wasn’t entirely closed until the end of 1922, when the South Dakota Supreme Court issued its decision in the court proceedings against the Hutterite colonies.

Plainly, some of what the Council did was of benefit. Yet this series shows the lack of universal truth in the adage that all evil needs to triumph is for good men to do nothing. Sometimes it’s good men’s best-intentioned actions that violate our liberties. The Council of Defense just happens to be an example. And what’s sad isn’t that it occurred but that it was far from the first time and, as people like Edward Snowden have shown, we have infinite capacity to sacrifice our freedom for expedience.

Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the Government’s purposes are beneficent.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis,
dissenting in Olmstead v. United States (1928)

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Weekend Edition: 5-2

Interesting Reading in the Interweb Tubes

  • Object Lesson (“For many of us, our book collections are, in at least one major way, tantamount to our children—they are manifestations of our identity, embodiments of our selfhood; they are a dynamic interior heftily externalized, a sensibility, a worldview defined and objectified.”)
  • NSA Publishes Children’s Coloring Book (“That this is propaganda is so obvious it insults the intelligence of anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of what the NSA and propaganda are.”)

Maybe He Hates Loathes Lawyers

  • An man on trial for alleged attacking his lawyer during a jailhouse meeting attacked his new lawyer in the courtroom this week.

Bookish Linkage

Nonbookish Linkage

Books are not collections of paper, they’re invitations to different worlds. And being in a bookstore is like getting a passport.

Jon Acuff, “Why I Fell Back In Love With Bookstores

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