Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Maybe there is hope, but hie, hie!

Maybe there is hope.  

I promised Fred that I'd wow him with productivity today, beginning with dealing with financial misdeeds, my favorite thing.  So I filed "cow udder balm" under The Castafiore's "operatic make-up products" (for which The Troupe reimburses us biannually).  So I managed to reroute the deposit of my automatic PCIP premium payment to my dear friend President Obama's "Hit List Necessities" (drone maintenance, mainly, and hostess gifts) -- with occasional faulty landings in the National Debt Fund morass.

Buddy the Freakishly Large Kitten, who, at age 2 is having another growth spurt (damn Maine Coons!), complete with a reappearance of his affinity for chewing wires, woke me.  He'd overheard the "productivity" comment and was going to be my aide in seeing it through.

Trouble was, I couldn't straighten my right leg, and who the heck knew where the left one even was?  My right arm was also misplaced, though I could definitively testify that the hand at the end of that arm was swollen and vcry cold.

"Pain pill," thought I, "and a cat with thumbs and whatever other attributes are necessary to the making of a good italian roast in my newly cracked cafetière, and once made, poured over the precise -- in measure as in temperature -- jigger of milk into my ugly green mug and brought to my thirsty lips... and not spilling a God-damned drop because I did manage to mop our wing of the Manor's West Extension yesterday, before falling into a coma."

And, again, as many times before in this blog, I long for a Pensieve.  ["The Pensieve is primarily a device for storing memories outside of one's own head."]  How many other bloggers do you know who long for a Pensieve?  Oh, hush up, Fresca.  (I miss Fresca.  We've never met, yet I miss her!)  Some people are just good people without the requirement of hoops, psychometrics, and disclosure of voting history.

See?  Now, YOU, too, wish for me a Pensieve.  And coffee, and such cats as are necessary to that coffee's procurement, and two 7.5/325 Endocet.  A veritable Peace Train of things.

Aha!  Never mistrust this mind, no matter how far gone, how medicated, how self-pitying, how covered with what appear to be moss-and-lichen twigs -- the lichen we attribute to my funkalicious osteomyelitis and ill-advised skinny dips in the moat during the off-season;  the moss can only be due to my crusty celadon-green Naturalism.  (Naturalism, where the Tea Party was meant to end up, those Baggers!)

But as Brother Yusuf Islam's vintage Peace Train now took over my brain, and its humming eradicated the harmonics of my pain and the displacement of my limbs, and the cats miraculously did manage to hoist my ugly green mug and precise coffee demands to my bedside table -- and after a mere 20 minutes of waiting for the meds to kick in... I grabbed the laptop to see how the world was.  And Peace Train went from thought impediment to badly gurgled half-tones to a full-voiced joyful rendition.  Feel free to join in:

Now I've been happy lately, 
thinking about the good things to come
And I believe it could be, 
something good has begun

Oh I've been smiling lately, 
dreaming about the world as one
And I believe it could be, 
some day it's going to come

Cause out on the edge of darkness, 
there rides a peace train
Oh peace train take this country, 
come take me home again

Now I've been smiling lately, 
thinking about the good things to come
And I believe it could be, 
something good has begun

Oh peace train sounding louder
Glide on the peace train
Come on now peace train
Yes, peace train holy  roller

Everyone jump upon the peace train
Come on now peace train

Get your bags together, 
go bring your good friends too
Cause it's getting nearer, 
it soon will be with you

Now come and join the living, 
it's not so far from you
And it's getting nearer, 
soon it will all be true

Now I've been crying lately, 
thinking about the world as it is
Why must we go on hating, 
why can't we live in bliss

Cause out on the edge of darkness, 
there rides a peace train
Oh peace train take this country, 
come take me home again

Why are you singing, all belly-free and without an inhibition in sight, much less on your shoulder?
Because even before I could locate the information necessary to determining whether the world had made it overnight, my eyes spied the title of an editorial:  "America’s Retreat From the Death Penalty."

Your voice is further buoyed by the small fact that it isn't a signed guest op-ed, or even a signed regular old tired op-eder.  It's a full-fledged New York Times editorial board piece.

There's not a brilliant bit in it.  There's no new information.  There's just the recognition that the whims and moods of America, as determined by its sorta-elected judiciary, have always determined the death penalty policies of this country.  But if you talk to Most People, Most People believe that there is a standardized, measurable, referable, repeatable standard that we keep in the Judiciary Closet -- something like units of measure that are convertible to any bloody, murderous circumstance.

It's true!  Once a decade or so, depending, we fight and tousle, then we remember the Judiciary Closet, where we have stored our imaginary Standards of Legal Measurement, and we all finally gather at the corner pub (or Applebees, if there be no corner pub in what used to pass for your neighborhood) to salute the good King Edwards of the 13th and 14th centuries:

When the Roman Empire passed into history about six hundred years after the time of Christ, Europe then drifted into the Dark Ages. For six or seven hundred years mankind generally made little progress with regard to standardizing measurement. Sometime after the Magna Charta was signed in the Thirteenth Century, King Edward I of England took a step forward. He ordered a permanent measuring stick made of iron to serve as a master standard yardstick for the entire kingdom. This master yardstick was called the "iron ulna", after the bone of the forearm, and it was standardized as the length of a yard, very close to the length of our present-day yard. King Edward realized that constancy and permanence were the key to any standard. He also decreed that the foot measure should be one-third the length of the yard, and the inch one thirty-sixth. King Edward II, in 1324, reverted back to the seed concept of the ancients and passed a statute that "three barleycorns, round and dry," make an inch. 

What?  Oh, I forgot to tell you.  The "Dark Ages" is just code for "hie, hie -- hie unto your metaphors!"  In case you're having trouble following, and who wouldn't, unless she had the assistance of Amazing Felines, Pharmaceuticals, and superb Italian Roast, the standardization of measurement based on what is purely arbitrary has links to both power and the most boring of everyday stuff (barley corns and ulnae), and on these standardizations we build domes, skyscrapers, knickknack shelves, and our opinions about the death penalty.  That last item means, you poor caffeine-deprived, bed-ridden sufferer, life itself.  Toss in the Pyramids and Chichen Itza, as well as most preserved Mayan architecture, and you'll agree with me -- we are some lucky sons-of-bitches, to have such divine wonders born of arbitrary forearms and the relative humidity of a seed.

Before I die, and I do believe this is going to be my year, finally, I'd love to see the Mayan "ruins." I don't know, though, whether they've been rendered handicapped accessible.  How it would suck to make it to the bottom of all that brilliance, only to find no wheelchair ramp.

I feel a  "We the People" Petition coming on.  I'm sure that  "We the People" Petitions cover USAmerican civil rights beyond the borders as well as within.

Anyway, we have stashed away, thanks to people like Napoleon, Jefferson, and Galileo's pendulum, brass bars as arbiters of the standards dissent that falls upon We the People from time to time.  Carry the metaphor over to the Judiciary Closet, and you'll see the main reason we fail at even discussing the Death Penalty with any reasonableness whatsoever.

That's why I stopped discussing it, unless bullied into it.  I mean, I once wore the tiara of DP Abolitionist for a small but brave-hearted Amnesty International group (we even managed to free a Prisoner of Conscience, upon which occasion we drank wine from wax cups).

But somehow, overnight, the editorial board of the New York Times realized that Right is Right, and published this, of which I'll give you a salivary striptease:

America’s Retreat From the Death Penalty 
When the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976, it said there were two social purposes for imposing capital punishment for the most egregious crimes: deterrence and retribution. In recent months, these justifications for a cruel and uncivilized punishment have been seriously undermined by a growing group of judges, prosecutors, scholars and others involved in criminal justice, conservatives and liberals alike. 
A distinguished committee of scholars convened by the National Research Council found that there is no useful evidence to determine if the death penalty deters serious crimes. Many first-rate scholars have tried to prove the theory of deterrence, but that research “is not informative about whether capital punishment increases, decreases, or has no effect on homicide rates,” the committee said. 
A host of other respected experts have also concluded that life imprisonment is a far more practical form of retribution, because the death penalty process is too expensive, too time-consuming and unfairly applied. 
The punishment is supposed to be reserved for the very worst criminals, but dozens of studies in state after state have shown that the process for deciding who should be sent to death row is arbitrary and discriminatory. [Please click HERE for the remainder of the op-ed]
I almost feel that scoping out the rest of the world and what was done in it while I slept is unnecessary.  Over the cliff or not, who cares?  Aleppo, more dead, less, whatever!  Mitch McConnell grew a chin?  It was covered by his health plan and will help him govern more effectively. Hillary Clinton has faked yet another illness? (What do you expect from an hysterical female?  She probably couldn't hold an aspirin between her knees long enough to earn the Presidential Fitness Award.)

None of it matters.

Cause out on the edge of darkness, there rides a peace trainOh peace train take this country, come take me home again
I know, I'm being a gullible rube again.  Leave me to it, at least for the afternoon.  Let me be capricious in my generalizations of a Bunch O'Words, if it makes me happy.  Words matter.

Upcoming Scheduled Executions in the U.S.

All scheduled execution dates cited are tentative. A number of circumstances exist that can change the date.
To write a letter to stop any of the scheduled executions, please use this directory of government officials to direct your letters.

1/16/2013 Robert Gleason Jr. -- Virginia
1/16/2013 Ronald Post -- Ohio
1/29/2013 Kimberly McCarthy -- Texas
2/20/2013 Britt Ripkowski  -- Texas
2/21/2013 Carl Henry Blue -- Texas
3/6/2013 Frederick Treesh -- Ohio
3/21/2013 Michael Dean "Spider" Gonzalez -- Texas
4/10/2013 Rigoberto Avila -- Texas
4/16/2013 Ronnie Threadgill -- Texas
5/1/2013 Steven Smith -- Ohio
7/31/2013 Douglas Feldman -- Texas
8/7/2013 Billy Slagle -- Ohio
9/25/2013 Harry Mitts, Jr. -- Ohio
11/14/2013 Ronald Phillips -- Ohio
1/16/2014 Dennis McGuire -- Ohio
3/19/2014 Gregory Lott -- Ohio
5/28/2014 Arthur Tyler -- Ohio
10/14/2014 Raymond Tibbetts -- Ohio
1/7/2015 Warren Henness -- Ohio

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