Sunday, July 22, 2012

Individual Right to Bear 1791 Arms

In the shadow of the horrible, yet not shocking, tragedy in Aurora, Colorado, I keep thinking back to my proposal on the topic back in November 2007.

So long as SCOTUS is going to find that the Second Amendment is an individual right to bear arms (not a reaffirmation of the militia right), my view remains that the most workable solution for the demands of our modern society is some rather extreme originalism and federalism — the Second Amendment should protect an individual right to bear as such arms existed at the time of the ratification.

Let the states choose if they want to have gun rights beyond this basic backstop.

November 27, 2007 Sauntering - The Right to Bear Ye Olde Arms

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Lennon's Loss

I'll admit that I'm a sappy, emotional guy. Once in a while, I'll settle into work, only to stumble across something on the web that hits me like an emotional ton of bricks.

This short New York Times piece on the 30th anniversary of John Lennon's death is not memorable for its contents — it's memorable for the hundreds of reader comments that follow the piece. It's page after page of short, detailed remembrances, each intimate and sketching a scene of shared yet private grief at the loss of this light.

I was 4 in 1980, so my grief at Lennon's loss wouldn't come until later.

Dried flowers from the funeral of Abraham Lincoln.
Ford's Theatre National Historic Site, Washington, D.C.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Flags & Poppies

Today's Google Doodle, customized locally in recognition of Veterans/Remembrance/Armistice Day, provides a brief, wordless comparison of the difference in how service and sacrifice are remembered on both sides of the Atlantic.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Whoa! Was That a Hiatus?

Not sure how that happened — a blog gets published at least one per month for more than 7 years, then takes a 6-month hiatus.

I'm happy to report that there's no dramatic or dangerous set of events that have led to this blog running silent for all spring and all summer. If anything is the root cause of Sauntering going without a voice, it's the combination of a wonder-if-this-is-sustainable pace at work combined with becoming the father of two kids.

I'm negatively correlated with blogging!

This task remains rewarding, and I hope to return to it with greater gusto soon.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Double Helix Sunrise

Lately/Unfortunately, I've found that my days are much more manageable if I start work before 7 a.m. (My favorite aspect of this schedule is speaking with East Coasters who are calling me early in the hopes of getting my voicemail.)

As I discovered last spring, the sun aligns with the orientation of the hallways in our building during the spring, causing light to ricochet down the halls in unexpected ways that I find quite beautiful:

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Who Dat? Not A Saintly Cheer

The New Orleans Saints are very much the feel-good story of the NFL these days. Displaced by Hurricane Katrina just four years ago, their place atop the standings this season symbolizes the resiliency of their great city.

But as Andy pointed out to me the other day, Saints' fans' cheer of choice symbolizes something quite different. To those unfamiliar, Who Dat? might sound like a southern take on the common Whose House? cheer. It isn't. It is a line popularly used in minstrel shows. (If you think minstrel shows have something to do with nomadic lute players of yore, do some Googling to learn about the minstrel shows popular from the mid-19th to mid-20th century.) Although minstrel shows were popular across the U.S. and, indeed, Europe, they marketed a southern image, presumably for "authenticity." Claiming a connection to New Orleans was, perhaps, the most popular technique.

This is not a legacy anyone should be cheering. The claim that the cheer "celebrates" New Orleans is no more persuasive than the claim that the confederate flag can be used to celebrate southern pride without celebrating slavery and racism. The confederate flag represents the South because it evokes the decision by the southern states to secede in an attempt to perpetuate slavery. Similarly, Who Dat? represents New Orleans because it evokes the city's historic ties to minstrel shows. In either case, you can't reach the ultimate conclusion without the intervening racist imagery.

Think back to the tomahawk chop, as utilized by fans of any number of teams, but particularly the Atlanta Braves. The tomahawk chop is obviously problematic because of the unmistakable connection between the mascot of these teams and the deeply racist image of Native Americans as savages. No matter how sincerely the fans believe they hold no racial animus, the act alone perpetuates a racist caricature.

Who Dat? is no better, and perhaps worse. Although the connection between the cheer and its minstrel roots may be less obvious to the general public than that between the tomahawk chop and a Native American mascot, this only serves to illustrate the intentional selection of the cheer because of its unmistakeable connection to New Orleans; it can't be coopted by another team in another city. Who Dat? is the Saints' cheer because New Orleans has a uniquely strong association with the minstrel shows that popularized the cheer originally.

Saints' fans are rightfully proud their team, but they should not be proud of this cheer. As the Saints march on toward the Super Bowl, more and more people will hear the cheer and wonder what it means. If they take the time to find out, I hope they will justifiably be embarrassed for the Saints.

A sad thought at a time when we should be so proud New Orleans, its people, and its football team.

Monday, January 18, 2010

You're Such a Joker —
Playing Cards as Wine Charms

It's been quite a while since I've posted an art & crafts project. Not counting reminisces on spring sunsets, I think it hasn't been since Summer 2007 and turning rejection letters into grocery lists. We're due.

Steph & I (& our guests) seem to have completely lost our ability to keep track of our wine glasses at our dinner parties of late. I'm drinking out of Steph's glass. Steph's drinking out of her friend's glass. It's unsanitary and, frankly, it makes these soirées sound boozier than they really are.

So there we were, shopping on for wine charms, those little things that dangle off your wine glass and tip you off that it's yours and not someone else's. We were searching for them and being shocked at how chintzy the charms all looked. If you want Ole Miss wine charms, they've got them for you.

Frugality and anti-chintziness being the mother of invention, we had an insight. Convert a deck of playing cards into wine charms.

My parents are the Johnny Appleseeds of playing cards. Every time they visit, they seem to deposit a new deck at our house. Thus, we were easily able to retire the most dog-eared deck to glory.

To employ this method, following these steps:

  1. Start by cutting the card in half horizontally.
  2. Punch a hole. A standard hole punch should be able to reach to the middle of the half-card. The hole will need to be wider than a single hole punch to accommodate the glass stem, so I recommend making a small clover leaf composed of multiple punches.
  3. Use scissors to cut a slit from the cut side to the punched hole.
  4. Round the corners on the cut side and viola! You're done. You just saved $15 by not buying from Amazon, proved that you can recycle your current possessions, and will finally stop drinking out of your Uncle Frank's glass. He's the king of clubs. You're the jack of diamonds, friend.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Welcoming Anne

Anne joined our family on 10/22/09 @ 1:27 AM Pacific, about 30 minutes after we checked into the hospital. Once the time came to be born, she was in a hurry.

Anne @ Almost One Day Old

All are well and at home as Anne approaches one week old. 2½ year old big sister Katie has reacted predictably to this addition, with equal measures of cuteness and chaos.

Whereas shock and life-changing awe was the initial reaction to Katie's arrival back in 2007, Anne's arrival has been one juxtaposition after another:

It's the stark contrast between the needs of a newborn and the needs of a preschooler.

It's remembering how nervous we were when Katie wouldn't sleep or eat or was fussy versus our expectation now that these situations will pass, then return, only to pass again.

It's the suburban California setting that Anne has entered compared to the urban New York world that first greeted Katie.

The things that haven't changed?

Yep, we're still naming our daughters as if we have the full expectation that they may need to someday serve as the Queen of England (Anne Charlotte, meet Catherine Emily. I assure you that, should we someday have a boy, Æthelred is definitely a strong candidate for his name).

Yep, the flood of emotion at greeting a new life is unchanged. In addition to in love, in awe, overjoyed, enamored, and profoundly satisfied, I propose we coin a term to describe the emotional state of the parent of a newborn — Darwinish. "Oh very little one, I long to take care of you so that you might grow, thrive, and – should you so choose – someday pass on your (and my) heritable traits."

Yep, some part of me is still shocked that the 80+% of the human population that reproduces is largely able to cope with the demands of these little things. Looking at a newborn, you're immediately reminded of the frailty of human life. Looking at all the former newborns walking around you each day, you're constantly reminded that we are a resilient species.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009


I once had a boss who occasionally asked us to do things that we'd really rather not do. For example, he once asked my co-worker to fight a parking ticket for him.

I was reminded of this by a copyright case in which the Supreme Court will hear oral argument tomorrow, Reed Elsevier Inc., et al., v. Muchnik, et al. (08-103). As happens occasionally, the Court rejected the issues presented by the petition for certiorari and wrote its own instead. What is far more curious, however: all the parties are on the same side of the issue the Court decided to hear — they are all against the Second Circuit's ruling on it.

So the Court got Ohio State law professor Deborah Jones Merritt to argue that side. I can just imagine that phone call:


C.J. ROBERTS: Howdy Professor, this is John Roberts!

PROF. MERRITT: The Chief Justice?

C.J. ROBERTS: That's the one.

PROF. MERRITT: Oh, um, ah, hello your Honor. How may I help you?

C.J. ROBERTS: Well, see, we've got this case. We're thinking about granting a writ of certiorari, but, I'll be honest, these guys kinda missed the boat with their petition.

PROF. MERRITT: I see . . . . I don't want to tell you how to do your job, but couldn't you just deny the petition?

C.J. ROBERTS: Welllll, yeeaaaah, I suppose. But the case implicates a pretty important question they didn't raise.

PROF. MERRITT: That makes sense. Well, you're the Supreme Court! You can write the question yourselves, right?

C.J. ROBERTS: Exactly! That's what I keep telling everybody.

PROF. MERRITT: So what's the problem?

C.J. ROBERTS: Well, don't tell anyone, but we kinda want to reverse the Second Circuit.


C.J. ROBERTS: The problem is, all the parties want us to reverse the Second Circuit on our question, too.

PROF. MERRITT: Oh, that is tricky.

C.J. ROBERTS: So . . .


C.J. ROBERTS: Wouldja mind arguing the other side?

Just like my co-worker, who dutifully fought our boss's parking ticket, Professor Merritt couldn't bring herself to say no.

Good luck tomorrow, Professor!

Friday, September 25, 2009

What I'll Miss About New York:
#10 — Columbia University

In their Pulitzer Prize-winning book Gotham, Edwin Burrows and Mike Wallace note that the Bloomingdale Insane Asylum was – in 1821 – "a rustic seventy-seven acre plot several miles north of town." By the 1890's Bloomingdale was no more and Columbia University – a school that had existed in New York since it was founded as King's College in 1754 – moved to occupy this seemingly remote location in the Morningside Heights neighborhood of Manhattan.

Columbia University circa 1895, from roughly 115th & Amsterdam Avenue
Today, this spot could be considered rustic and rural relative only to Times Square, and Columbia University is seated in a neighborhood of multi-story buildings that sit shoulder-to-shoulder alongside Broadway and Amsterdam. Still, in the imagination of many New Yorkers I've met, there's a sense that this school is somehow apart from and other than the rest of Manhattan.

Columbia's too far north. For an island that extends to 220th Street, it's a little surprising when you first notice that the maps affixed to the taxi cab partitions don't extend north of 125th Street. Though Robert Moses failed to divide the island with his Lower Manhattan Expressway, Manhattanites incurious about the goings-on above Columbus Circle succeeded in creating two islands where God only created one.

It's the wrong side of the island, too far from the locales of Project Runway and Gossip Girl, north of celebrities walking their dogs or strolling their babies. I'd meet someone at a party downtown and let them know that I studied at Columbia and more often than not their reaction was something along the lines of, "Welcome back from the provinces, country cousin! Will you be in the Big City very long, or is it back to the farm with you?"

Columbia is a bookish place. A place of athletic teams that haven't been competitive since Lou Gehrig. A place that plays social second fiddle to the tragically hip university located in the beating heart of Greenwich Village.

And I miss this place, this place that is the geographic opposite of the serene and almost sleepy school where I obtained my undergraduate degree.

Columbia reminds me that there is a history to this country that I barely know. A 19th century American listener would recognize the name of this school as being a synonym for the United States and the New World, generally.

Since its erection in 1886, the Statue of Liberty has come to represent this country, personified. But before that statue's erection, this country's feminine form was Columbia. Where the Statue of Liberty evokes within us thoughts of this country as a City upon a Hill, Columbia's general evocation of progress and modernity is less of a burden for us to shoulder. Where the Statute of Liberty demands that we shine a light to illuminate the world, Columbia signifies the unrealized promise of a country that is a new arrival on the global scene.

As this country releases its hold on the mantle of global hegemon, maybe we'll see a return to the image of Columbia. The US will have to learn to live with the idea that we can't be the new colossus, unilaterally addressing the world's problems. But we can be Columbia.
What's this? After living in New York City for three years, I'm returning to California. These are the parts of my New York experience that I'll miss the most.