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Posts Tagged ‘Declaration of Independence

“That’s all we’re asking for: an end to the antidemocratic and un-American practice of gerrymandering congressional districts”*…

 

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Though a substantial majority disapprove of the practice, the Supreme Court recently refused to address the issue of partisan redistricting– gerrymandering…

The Supreme Court will not end extreme partisan gerrymandering. In a 5-4 decision along ideological lines, the court ruled Thursday that partisan gerrymandering of congressional districts cannot be limited by federal courts. Chief Justice John Roberts authored the majority opinion, writing that “what the appellees and dissent seek is an unprecedented expansion of judicial power.”

Justice Elena Kagan’s dissent was scathing. “For the first time ever, this Court refuses to remedy a constitutional violation because it thinks the task beyond judicial capabilities,” she wrote in her opening sentence. She argued that imposing limits on gerrymandered districts is not beyond the scope of the court: “The partisan gerrymanders here debased and dishonored our democracy, turning upside-down the core American idea that all governmental power derives from the people.”

The ruling almost certainly would have been different if Anthony Kennedy were still on the court. Before retiring last year, Kennedy had been the swing justice on previous gerrymandering cases. He had said that partisan gerrymandering was within the purview of the court but that the justices should hold off on ruling any particular gerrymander unconstitutional until a manageable standard for measuring gerrymandering emerged. Since he took that position in 2004, reformers had been attempting to find such a standard. Legal scholars and statisticians developed various measurements to try to win over the court, but without Kennedy, those efforts turned out to be futile…

FiveThirtyEight considers the possible impacts of the Court’s abnegation and explores other paths to a remedy: “Partisan Gerrymandering Isn’t The Supreme Court’s Problem Anymore.”

See also: “Electoral map bias may worsen as U.S. gerrymandering battle shifts to states” and “The Courts Won’t End Gerrymandering. Eric Holder Has a Plan to Fix It Without Them.”

* President Ronald Reagan (in 1988, illustrating on the one hand that this is an issue of long standing [see here for earlier history]; and on the other, that shoes have a way of moving from one foot to the other…)

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As we recall that the American Revolution was, in part, about the lack of fair representation, we might recall that it was on this date in 1776 that the Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Second Continental Congress.

Use it or lose it.

220px-United_States_Declaration_of_Independence source

 

 

“It is vain to expect virtue from women till they are in some degree independent of men”*…

 

After 20 years of roaming the Americas brawling, gambling and murdering close to a dozen people, the man known as Alonso Díaz Ramírez de Guzmán had one last option. Having often turned to the church for sanctuary when waist-deep in trouble, and now facing execution, the soldier and explorer chose the nuclear option: admitting to the bishop that he was actually a woman.

Now known as Catalina de Erauso, a mesmerizing and confusing figure in Basque history, the prisoner not only avoided being executed but also got to meet the pope…

The amazing true tale at “The ruthless conquerer who cross-dressed her way to infamy.

* Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman

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As we speculate on the spectrum, we might send carefully-composed birthday greetings to Mary Katherine Goddard; she was born on this date in 1738.  A Colonial printer and publisher, she published the Maryland Journal, a revolutionary periodical, throughout the Revolutionary War.  She was also the second publisher of the Declaration of Independence (considered at the time a treasonable document by the British); her copy, the Goddard Broadside, was the second printed, and the first to contain the typeset names of the signatories.

She was the first female postmaster in the U.S., heading the Baltimore Post Office from 1775 to 1789, and ran a book store and published an almanac.

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Happy Bloomsday!

 

“Take the time to walk a mile in his moccasins”*…

 

From 1936 to 1966, Victor Green, a postal worker who worked in New Jersey but lived in Harlem, published the directories known today as the Green Book. (The actual titles were variously: The Negro Motorist Green Book; The Negro Travelers’ Green Book; The Travelers’ Green Book.) These listed hotels, restaurants, beauty salons, nightclubs, bars, gas stations, etc. where Black travelers would be welcome. In an age of sundown towns, segregation, and lynching, the Green Book became an indispensable tool for safe navigation…

The NYPL Labs’ Brian Foo (another of whose projects featured in an earlier post) has made the Green Books available– and interactive:  you can map a trip or plot the books’ data.

* from Mary Torrans Lathrap’s poem “Judge Softly”- the probable origin of the now-proverbial “before you judge someone, walk a mile in his shoes”

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As we live like a refugee, we might recall that it was on this date in 1776 that Thomas Paine first published (albeit anonymously) his pamphlet “Common Sense.”  A scathing attack on “tyrant” King George III’s reign over the colonies and a call for complete independence, “Common Sense” advocated immediate action.  America, Paine argued, had a moral obligation to reject monarchy and declare independence.  An instant bestseller in both the colonies and Britain (over 120,000 copies in just a few months), it greatly affected public sentiment at a time when the question of independence was still undecided, and helped shape the deliberations of the Continental Congress leading up to the Declaration of Independence.

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There Will Always Be a Britain, Part 27…

The first installment in illustrator and craftswoman Gemma Correll‘s reflection on British Cuisine:

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[TotH to Curiosity Counts]

 

As we ponder our pantries, we might recall that it was on this date in 1776 that Thomas Paine first published (albeit anonymously) his pamphlet “Common Sense.”   A scathing attack on “tyrant” King George III’s reign over the colonies and a call for complete independence, “Common Sense” advocated immediate action..  America, Paine argued, had a moral obligation to reject monarchy and declare independence.  An instant bestseller in both the colonies and Britain (over 120,000 copies in just a few months), it greatly affecting public sentiment at a time when the question of independence was still undecided, and helped shape the deliberations of the Continental Congress leading up to the Declaration of Independence.

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Written by LW

January 10, 2012 at 1:01 am

The Venn Piagram…

The pie chart one can eat… from Reddit, via the ever-illuminating Flowing Data

As we reach for our forks, we might spare a reasoned thought for the Enlightenment giant John Locke; the physician and philosopher died on this date in 1704. An intellectual descendant of Francis Bacon, Locke was among the first empiricists. He spent over 20 years developing the ideas he published in his most significant work, Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690), an analysis of the nature of human reason which promoted experimentation as the basis of knowledge. Locke established “primary qualities” (e.g., solidity, extension, number) as distinct from “secondary qualities” (sensuous attributes like color or sound). He recognized that science is made possible when the primary qualities, as apprehended, create ideas that faithfully represent reality.

Locke is, of course, also well-remembered as a key developer (with Hobbes, and later Rousseau) of the concept of the Social Contract. Locke’s theory of “natural rights” influenced Voltaire and Rosseau– and formed the intellectual basis of the U.S. Declaration of Independence.

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Keep Calm and Carry On…

Readers will recall (from pre-blog days) war posters reissued and (more recently) war posters updated.  Now reader AW alerts us to war posters updated and made available on one’s choice of mug, tee shirt, or refrigerator magnet; e.g.,…

See the full range, created by The Propaganda Remix Project, here.

As we remember that the medium is the message, we might recall that on this date in 1776, the Declaration of Independence was read aloud in Philadelphia; and the Liberty Bell, rung.

Bell, cracked

The Annals of Symbology, Vol. 27: “Simple Substitution- Rowling Rampant” (Naughtiness Alert- NSFC)…

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Further to the “Plato Code” discovered by Manchester University professor Jay Kennedy to be hidden in the works of Plato (as described in “Special Edition: Too Weird…“), internet scholar “JonJonB” reports (on ICQ):

Purely in the interests of science, I have replaced the word “wand” with “wang” in the first Harry Potter Book…

Some of his results:

“Why aren’t you supposed to do magic?” asked Harry.
[Hagrid:] “Oh, well — I was at Hogwarts meself but I — er — got expelled, ter tell yeh the truth. In me third year. They snapped me wang in half an’ everything.

“Oh, move over,” Hermione snarled. She grabbed Harry’s wang, tapped the lock, and whispered, “Alohomora!”

Harry took the wang. He felt a sudden warmth in his fingers. He raised the wang above his head, brought it swishing down through the dusty air and a stream of red and gold sparks shot from the end like a firework, throwing dancing spots of light on to the walls.

“Get – off – me!” Harry gasped. For a few seconds they struggled, Harry pulling at his uncles sausage-like fingers with his left hand, his right maintaining a firm grip on his raised wang.

Readers will find other compelling evidence– and indeed have the opportunity to search for long-suspected but as-yet-discovered references to Plato in Rowling’s text– at Quote Database.  And readers see/can hear The Pointer Sisters sing this post’s theme song, Willie Dixon’s “Wang Dang Doodle” here.

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As we remember that we promised ourselves to reread Ulysses, we might recall that it was on this date in 1910 that 20,000 people in Reno, Nevada saw Jack Johnson–  boxing’s first African-American heavyweight champ– successfully defend his title against James J. Jeffries.  Jeffries, a prior champ, had retired in 1904 undefeated (Johnson had won the title from Tommy Burns, who received it by default).

In 1910, Jeffries announced “I feel obligated to the sporting public at least to make an effort to reclaim the heavyweight championship for the white race. . . . I should step into the ring again and demonstrate that a white man is king of them all.”  In the event, Johnson proved stronger and more nimble than Jeffries. In the 15th round, after Jeffries had been knocked down twice for the first time in his career, his people called it quits to prevent Johnson from knocking him out.

Johnson’s victory over Jeffries had dashed white dreams of finding a “great white hope” to defeat him.  The result triggered race riots that evening — the Fourth of July — all across the United States, from Texas and Colorado  to New York and Washington, D.C.  Indeed, many “riots” were simply Blacks celebrating in the streets.  In some cities, like Chicago, the police didn’t disturb the celebrations.  But in others, the police and angry white citizens tried to subdue the revelers. In all, “riots” occurred in more than 25 states and 50 cities. About 23 Blacks and two Whites died in the riots, and hundreds more were injured.  Police interrupted several attempted lynchings.

The fight

It was, of course, also on this date– in 1776– that the United States Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Second Continental Congress.

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