What If …

I was looking at the Electoral College maps at 270toWin and noticed something interesting about the 1860 election that I had not seen before. The ranking by Electoral votes had Lincoln with 180, Breckinridge with 72, Bell with 39, and Douglas with 12. Typical high school textbooks, in their inanity, depict that election as between Lincoln and Douglas because of the popular vote results. And while I knew there were other players, the map is pretty clear on how the votes split. Lincoln won the North and West. Douglas won Missouri and half of New Jersey’s votes. Breckinridge won the South. And Bell? Bell took the border states of Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

Now what’s interesting here is that before winning three border states as the candidate of the Constitutional Union party, John C. Bell was in a lithograph published by Harper’s of “prominent candidates for the Republican presidential nomination at the Chicago.” The dynamics of the 1860 election are pretty interesting, and I’d like to know more about them. Perhaps if the Post Office had permitted those seditious Republican tracts to be delivered to the citizens of those states, and perhaps if the Republican candidates were on the ballot, then perhaps, too, Lincoln might have found more kindred spirits in the South.

An Excess of Energy

The one thing, the only thing, that will encourage substitution of an alternate fuel is increasing the cost of the primary fuel relative to the cost of the alternate fuel. For example, walking to the store is 15 minutes, but gasoline is $4.33 per gallon, so one might choose to walk more often than drive.

Like an excess of food encourages obesity, an excess of cheap energy also encourages large houses. We have one built in 1998, which is somewhere between 2,800 and 3,300 square feet, and not as well-insulated as we would like. Heating oil this coming season looks to be around $5.10 per gallon. Thus we’re trying to decide among several different types of wood-burning appliances, from free-standing stoves, to high-efficiency fireplaces, to furnaces. The catalogs I’ve perused mostly contain units which are designed to heat areas of 1,500 sq. ft. or so. This is most readily apparent in those from Scandinavian companies: RAIS does not even bother to make units capable of heating 3,000 sq. ft. A geothermal heat pump might also be an option.

So now we have an obese house. It needs to slim down some now that bread is dear. In the meantime, we’re switching to Wonder® Bread.

Hyphenation

I realized today what bothers me about hyphenate groupings of people, such as Irish-American, Italian-American, or African-American. Why aren’t they just “American”?

Ugh

I was just looking for Sam Waterston’s reading of Lincoln’s Cooper Union speech. What I found was a picture of the Cooper Union’s new academic building.

Architects these days. There are images of the interiors which are even more disturbing. This is an environment expected to be conducive to learning? I’m dizzy just looking at the pictures.

At least it seems to fit into the block. Thank God that [t]he zoning envelope proscribes the kind of exuberant challenge to the grid that the institutional personality of Cooper Union would seem to demand. The best thing I can say about the building is that it looks like it has the potential to engage the street. Why, I wonder, did the architect not echo the exterior of the Cooper Union if his whimsy was forced inward by the zoning code? Is it too much to ask for right angles?

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.–We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,–That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.–He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.–He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.–He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.–He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.–He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.–He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.–He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.–He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.–He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.–He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.–He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies, without the Consent of our legislatures.–He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.–He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:–For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:–For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:–For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:–For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:–For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:–For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:–For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:–For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:–For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.–He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.–He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.–He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.–He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.–He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions. In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people. Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.–

We, Therefore, the Representatives of the UNITED States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do.–And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Scooters

This morning I heard a piece on the radio about scooter sales in New York City. One of the comments piqued my interest.

[The owner of Vespa SoHo, Zachary] Schieffelin says he hopes this means New York will start to look more like London or Rome — the streets buzzing with as many scooters as cars.

Europe has had high fuel prices since the end of WWII. I would suspect that this has contributed as much to scooter use as have the older shapes of the cities — more like New York than Los Angeles — if not more so, particularly as the European cities have become more automobile-oriented.

Go Wake Up the Judge

You know how in the movies, when the cops want to bust in on the mob doing their dirty deeds, first they go wake up the judge in the middle of the night, or drag him out of his poker game or away from his mistress, and have him issue a warrant?

Oh, wait, those aren’t current movies.

In an otherwise interesting post, Jeff Jarvis writes

“It so happens that I agree with Obama on this issue (and I know my view is as unpopular as his). When government forces you do to something then that force must come with immunity. The problem is not the telcos going along but the government making the demand and there being no check on that. But that’s a different debate.”

There was no force. There was willing participation without a warrant. Contrast with Qwest, which refused. The remaining telecommunication providers went along because it was their Patriotic Duty, even though their participation was illegal without a warrant. If there was force, it was a kind peculiar to regulatory regimes: trading dirty deeds for FCC merger approval.

There was a check, even if a pathetic one of Top Secret paperwork known only by handful of amenable judges. The administration ignored it.

The revisions supplant that paperwork check with an even flimsier one, the ipse dixit clause, which lets the Executive do anything as long as the Executive says the Executive says it is ok.

That’s not a check. That’s a blank check.