Loving

Saturday, June 26, 1993: My wedding day. Probably the only one I’ll ever have. If the right man comes along, maybe, but I’m not holding my breath. He was a good guy, truly, kind, a bit laid back, not one to party, not so good with money but no one’s perfect; just not the right one for me. It didn’t last, but it was legal. Before 1967, in several states, it wouldn’t have been. Nor would my parents’ marriage. Thanks to Richard and Mildred Loving, and a bunch of other people who helped, we could marry, and it would be recognized in all 50 states.

Friday, June 26, 2015, 10:00 am EDT: The Supreme Court of the United States is wrapping up their 2014-2015 term, with just a few days left. There are some high-profile cases on the docket that require a decision before the term ends, one they’ve already decided. On this Friday, when they share their decisions, they begin with Obergfell v. Hodges. Less than ten minutes in, it’s clear what the decision will be.

Pretty sure you know where I stand on this one.

It DOES NOT mean that places of worship will suddenly have to accept same-sex couples, that they will have to allow weddings in their buildings officiated by their leaders, any more than they are required to perform marriages between persons of different faiths or different races.

It DOES mean those places of worship that do accept same-sex couples, that want to officiate over such a wedding, are free to do so.  It means the state, and the states (not the same thing) must recognize those marriages as legal, in the same way as marriages between persons of different faiths, different races, different genders are recognized.

It DOES NOT mean people will be allowed to marry their children or dogs. That’s just idiotic.

It DOES mean two consenting adults, regardless of gender, will be allowed to enter into a legal contract of marriage, and partake of all the legal benefits therein.

It DOES NOT mean marriage as an institution is under attack.

It DOES mean the institution of marriage is considered important enough that two adults who’ve dedicated their lives to one another would like it to recognized.

If your relationship is threatened by same-sex marriage, then, to put it bluntly, at least one of you is gay.

The comparison between Loving v Virginia and Obergfell v Hodges is not random, nor is it inappropriate. I remind you, Mildred Loving had a statement prepared for the 40th anniversary of the Loving v Virginia decision:

When my late husband*, Richard, and I got married in Washington, DC in 1958, it wasn’t to make a political statement or start a fight. We were in love, and we wanted to be married. …

“When Richard and I came back to our home in Virginia, happily married, we had no intention of battling over the law. We made a commitment to each other in our love and lives, and now had the legal commitment, called marriage, to match. Isn’t that what marriage is? …

“I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard’s and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.”

Coretta Scott King, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s widow, felt pretty similarly. Her husband may have disagreed, but we’ll never know for sure. People do grow, and opinions can change.

It’s about time.

No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right. The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed.

It is so ordered. – Justice Anthony Kennedy, SCOTUS

Alli Yola Engagement 120d

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*In case the other link is broken.

A Moment of Grace

The last week has been difficult for a lot of people, for me on both a personal and professional level. Professionally, I expected; I was off for a week and a half, and while my team members did what they could, they had their own files to deal with. Long days, short nights. I left work at 6:30 on Thursday evening, and back by 6:45 the next morning. I left yesterday around 5:30 – I clocked out before that, just had a brief conversation before I left. It was a rough day for most of us; we were just a bit burnt out. My other team members, with several files, have been working ridiculous hours for weeks. I had, too, but like I said, I had a week and a half off. Helps. There’s a lot to do, and this time of year that’s typical in my line of work, but that doesn’t make it easier.

That’s not the only reason I effectively isolated myself yesterday. Other than live-tweeting during last night’s Orphan Black season finale, I pretty much avoided social networking. And the news.

Wednesday, June 17, nine members of the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church in Charleston, SC, were murdered. A place that is supposed to be a sanctuary, a place of peace, was forever changed. The assailant* joined church members during a prayer meeting, and opened fire. Dating from 1816, almost 50 years before the end of the Civil War, Emanuel AME church got its start when Morris Brown and thousands of other black people left the Methodist Episcopal church due to their discriminatory policies. A few years later, Denmark Vessey – who you should be hearing about as part of American history, and not only in February† – another founder, was executed for fomenting a slave rebellion in 1822. Charleston outlawed all-black churches in 1834; it had been illegal to teach slaves to write since 1740, and schools where slaves, freemen and mulattoes could learn to read or write were outlawed in 1819. If you keep them separate and ignorant, it’s easier to keep them in line. The church still met, and remained underground until 1865, when they could once again meet openly.

Churches have historically been involved in some degree in political change. It was one place where people of a similar mind would gather on a regular basis; easiest way to get a message out. That remains the case even now. How politically involved churches should be is a discussion for another time. The fact remains that Charleston made an effort to keep a people down by passing laws making it even harder for them to congregate without white supervision. Pretty common tactic for a group in power to use to keep that power; it’s certainly not unique to the US.

The assailant was aware, at least peripherally, of this history; he reacted from a place of fear. In his mind, the way to keep things the way he wanted was to eliminate the “enemy.” He was born 100 years too late, perhaps; his reaction wouldn’t have been quite so shocking. Not in a place that had laws increasingly restricting the activities of non-whites. For a non-dictatorship, we do have a pretty good history with suppression and oppression. Again, a topic for another time.

Friday morning, while I was at work, I heard a report of streets being closed. One that was mentioned I assumed was closed due to some construction work that had been going on for a while, now. It wasn’t until later that afternoon, when a friend mentioned it, that I knew why. Officer Sonny Kim responded to a call about a man with a gun behaving erratically. The man in the street shot Officer Kim in the chest, multiple times. Officer Kim was rushed to one of the best hospitals in the country, and yet he lost his life. He was wearing body armor. The shooter* continued to fire, aiming at a parole officer who’d come to help, and another officer, Tom Sandmann, who was able to take him down. The shooter’s family was angry, screaming about police shooting civilians. Perhaps we can understand their initial reaction, but the fact of the matter is the assailant attacked. This was not a case of police brutality. I’ve stayed away from social media because of this. I have friends who span the political spectrum, excluding the most extreme, in either direction. Some will use this to push draconian gun control; others will use this as a response to the recent reports of police overreaction in cases where black civilians are involved.

There are people who were afraid there would be rioting because the cops killed another black man. That reaction of fear and ignorance and intolerance  is part of the problem. There are people who want to riot because the cops killed another black man. That reaction of blind anger and fear and ignorance is also part of the problem. Instead of coming together and removing the fear, eliminating the ignorance, these people move ever closer to the edge, further widening the divide that scares them so.

Social media and the ready availability of articles on the internet don’t help, any more than does the 24-hour news cycle. All three of those things have many positives and many negatives. The double-edged sword is the information on all of the above platforms. For the 24-hour news cycle, if there are no viewers, then there’s no news. It’s a ratings game. More people watch when the news is shocking, or supports their greatest fears. A search on the internet will allow just about anyone to find at least one other kindred spirit, no matter how unpopular a particular view may be. It provides many different articles and blogs from news organizations and people who use only research that supports their views, regardless of the accuracy or reliability of the source. Social media has proven to be an effective way to disseminate all of this information, for good or ill.

For now, this continues to divide us. Those who attempt to do the research get ignored; those who can find the most extreme, most shocking, and most plausible for the intended audience get shared. It’s easier to believe the worst of someone who isn’t you, than to make the effort to discover the truth. We’re all guilty. I make an effort not to do that, but I have my own biases. If there’s something really major, I prefer to go to BBC and Al Jazeera for the news report, just because I believe they’re less likely to be going for readers as aggressively as pretty much any US news source. NPR is usually more objective, although some believe it’s a leftist propaganda factory.

Instead of focusing on the death of an officer in the line of duty, on Officer Kim’s wife and sons who are now without him, on the other Cincinnati Police Department employees who’ve lost a brother, instead of considering the assailant’s family, who have their own questions and losses to deal with, this will be politicized. Nothing will change, beyond some overreaction somewhere that may or may not become law, depending on how much fear legislators wish to encourage.

The truly sad thing is the overreaction response isn’t new, by any stretch; it just happens more quickly.

2015-06-06 Myrtle Beach Dawn_0145a
Dawn, North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Wanted to end with a little peace; I needed it.

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*No, I’m not going to mention him by name. Does it make a difference? It does to me.

†Blacks did not become a part of American history only in February. The idea of Black History Month was to remind people of that very thing. In a perfect world, it wouldn’t be needed; black history, women’s history, hispanic history, these would be part of the curriculum throughout the year, not just in their special months. In a perfect world, history books would be written to depict all history, not the history those in charge of approving the texts want to be shared.

Just a Bit Absurd

I’ve mentioned a few times – although I’ve tried not to belabor it – that work has been more than a little stressful and draining. I missed two weeks, I know, and I’m sorry. Two weeks ago, I had worked a lot of hours in a very short time, and I was all but useless Saturday and Sunday. Last week, I was in North Myrtle Beach. I had a post written, and intended to publish it from there, but I forgot. So, I posted it yesterday. This is the post for this weekend.

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The view from the front balcony. All rooms had a beach view. Might not be perfect, but it was a view.

I didn’t have my camera with me all the time, and there were a couple of incidents where I regretted that lack. Who, though, would think of taking the camera with them on the way to the liquor store?

It’s vacation time, and when I’m on vacation, I do enjoy an adult beverage or two. For me, it’s just something to do when I’m having fun. Not necessary, just an option. Without the Friday wine tastings at the grocery store*, it would be months between beverages.

This was a family vacation, so most of my immediate family and associated hangers-on were there. A few couldn’t make it. My younger brother was planning a trip to the liquor store, because it was far cheaper than the bar at the resort (duh), along with his girlfriend and their daughter. My father opted to join as well. It was within walking distance, and it wasn’t ridiculously hot and humid, so a walk sounded just fine. Now, I may or may not have mentioned, but my family is rather large. The immediate family et al came to around 35 people. We had five different suites in three different buildings. Three rooms in my building, on the same floor, one in the building next door, and one in a building across the street. My sister (S2†), her oldest son, his wife and their son, and her other two grandsons were in that one. She had a balcony with an ocean view, and happened to be on it when we crossed the open courtyard between building 2 and building 3. She saw us, we waived; my brother (S6) called her and let her know where we were going, and she decided to join us. Well that’s fine, we can meet her out front.

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View from the other side of the front balcony/walkway.

We get to the elevator in my building and I head up to the room. Since we’re waiting for someone else, I decide to change out of my swimsuit. While I’m gone, the youngest two sisters (S8 & 9) meet up with my father, and decide they’d like to come along as well. They just want to change, first. My father decided to wait for them. Plan to meet out front as before. No problem. Now this is getting to be a large group.

On the street-side of our building, I found my brother, his girlfriend and their daughter – in a stroller – waiting as well; S2 joined us not long after. We were just waiting for my father and the youngest two sisters. While waiting, S2 got a phone call from either S1 or S3; her grandsons were in the lobby of her building, to be picked up. Okay…so now we’re going to have two more children with us.

S2 goes off to pick up her grandsons. We wait. S6 (brother) senses his daughter getting restless, so he goes to walk her around. Now it’s just me and his girlfriend. At this point, I’m thinking this has gotten to be a much bigger event than originally planned. It had gone from just a quick run to the store to a small procession. I mention the absurdity of it all and S5’s GF humors me. She’s finding it a bit absurd herself. Little did I know…

2015-06-06 Myrtle Beach Dawn_0076a
The beach at dawn, footprints in the wet sand as the tide goes out.

We happen to look toward the garage across the street, and see someone coming. We recognize S2, because we know what she was wearing. Then we notice S3 is leading the pack. Yes, pack. S1 was bringing up the rear, along with her stepdaughter. In between were not just two of S2’s grandsons, but the young (grand?)daughters (I didn’t ask. Meant to, just didn’t) of her current beau, S3’s son and S1’s youngest two, her granddaughter, her stepdaughter, whose name is the same as mine – that doesn’t cause any confusion – and her daughter. They’re coming along; it’s time for them to take a walk anyway. It’s only a few blocks, and they could use the walk to burn off some energy. I start laughing. Procession? This has become a parade! We now have two children in strollers, and 8 more on foot, all under the age of 10 (or maybe 12). Altogether, we end up with 10 adults, 10 children, all heading off to the liquor store. No real incidents with any of them, just a slower pace. When we crossed the street, we briefly ran into two of S1’s older daughters, D1‡ and D3, D1’s fiance and D3’s friend (no other kids her age). For some reason, they didn’t want to join us. Can’t imagine why.

Keeping everything straight? Yeah, me either. Just pretend; that’s what I do.

Our little troop walked through groups of people dining at restaurants along the way. The general reaction was amusement when they realized the size of our little parade. On the way back, we walked down the other side of the street, and through different crowds eating outside. S1’s D3 and friend saw us and joined us again, briefly. She wanted to show us her henna tattoo. It was nice. Got smudged, though. It was a little crowded, you know.

We crossed the street and crossed again, passing a little amusement area, with rides and an arcade. The rides weren’t open yet, but we paused to see how much it would be, since it was in walking distance, and would give the kids something fun to do. It was suddenly rather quiet, and we began looking around, realizing for the first time that my brother, his GF and their daughter, along with all of the walking children, had wandered off. We knew they wouldn’t come to any harm with him, but we were kinda wanting to know where they were. As we passed the arcade, we see is GF poke her head around and wave us on. He’d taken them to the arcade and given them all tokens; they were playing Skeeball when we found them. That was the point when I regretted not having my camera with me.

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Shortly after sunrise. I watched the sun creep up over the buildings. Got a nice series of shots, too.

We stayed a little longer. One of my other siblings got the kids started on a claw machine. The oldest one was rather adept, so she played it for them. There were rubber balls in the machine, and it wouldn’t do but that every kid had one. As I understand it, they went back a couple days later.

Finally, each kid not in a stroller played Skeeball at least once, and each kid, even the ones in the strollers, had a new ball to play with. At last our parade was ready to move on. We marched back, having to rescue a few balls in the process, with one child-induced casualty (she chewed the ball and made a hole – it deflated), and one ball that made it across the street. I got that one. The cars on the road were nice enough to stop for me while I went after it. No one ran into the street, although a few were horsecollared to keep them from doing it. Grab what you can.

That was…an experience.

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*I go for the company; the wine is incidental. Well, the first time it was for the wine. Oh, and the food. The woman who runs the tasting I attend is also a chef, and she tries out recipes to match the wines.

†S2 = sibling 2. I’ve found a numbering system to be more useful. I can number by sisters and brothers, or just number the total. I’m sibling 4 regardless how it’s counted.

‡D1 – descendant 1, her oldest. She has five of them. Four of them came on the trip, three are under 18.

Ghoti◊

We have a white board at work where we put up little quotes or facts; nothing huge, just something that makes people pause. Most often, I use a quote from someone who’s meaningful for that particular day, either because of a birthday or an event. Not always. This past week, for instance, I went with English language pecurliarities. I can’t, unfortunately, remember everything I used – I had my mind on other things, of course – but I do remember a couple.

I started with one that baffled me for the longest time – Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo. I spent a good hour – not at work, at home – looking for something that would help make sense of it. I knew what all the individual definitions were, just not quite clear on where or when they were used. I mean, aside from the second Buffalo, New York reference. The capitalization was a dead giveaway. I finally got it, though, after reviewing several sites that purported to translate it for the confused mind.

Buffalo buffalo – animals from Buffalo, New York
buffalo – bully
buffalo – bison* that once roamed this country in the millions, maybe even billions.

Okay, got that. That was the easy part. Putting it together, that was tricky. I understood it with a word replacement sentence I found, using bison instead of buffalo, and continued picking until it clicked. This isn’t that sentence, but one I put together that helped me.

Bison from Buffalo, New York (Buffalo buffalo) that bison from Buffalo, New York (Buffalo buffalo) bully (buffalo) will bully (buffalo) bison from Buffalo, New York (Buffalo buffalo).

Ship shipping ship text
If the ships the shipping ship shipped were also ship-shipping ships, then it would be a ship-shipping ship shipping ship-shipping ships…

It’s a big loop. Yeah, okay, that isn’t a whole lot better. It worked for me, though. Diagramming helped as well. Not my diagram, I haven’t diagrammed a sentence in a very long time; others had it diagrammed, though. I don’t know that I could put a finger on any one thing that helped; a lot of the things I found were things I’d seen before. Maybe this time they just clicked for me.

There are other fun things about English, ways to make ridiculous, but correct, sentences. For instance, the whole “i before e” thing. apparently, there are significantly more words that don’t fit into that rule – even with the long a addition – than words that follow it. I learned the rule from a Peanuts special; I don’t recall ever being told that in school. As I may have mentioned before, any memories of times from before college are full of gigantic gaps, though, so that doesn’t really mean anything. The rule should read (of course I got this from the internet):

I before E except after C, or if running a feisty heist against your weird beige foreign neighbor.

To be fair, there are a couple of words in there that fit with the most commonly remembered exception, neighbor, and beige. The rest, though, I mean really.

What else we got? Quite a lot, actually. For instance, the title of this post. That’s pronounced “fish” by the most ridiculous of English pronunciation rules. GH as in enough, O as in women (pronounced differently than the singular “woman”), and TI as in nation. Alternately, it can be completely silent – GH as in though, O as in people, T in ballet, and I in business. Oh, there’s also GHOUGHPTEIGHTTEAU‡, among other made-up words. Linguistically, neither fits any rules, and would likely be pronounced the way they look. That’s not the point; the point is English is a creole, borrowing words from all sorts of places, or more accurately, as written on a usenet group back in 1990:

The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don’t just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and riffle [sic] their pockets for new vocabulary.”
– James Nicoll

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Ohio river as seen from Eden Park, Cincinnati. May 2015

This all serves as a distraction for me. There have been so many homicides in the past few weeks, it almost seems there’s a new shooting death every day. People are charging the police with keeping order, which is their job. It’s *not* their job to find something else for people to do, any more than it’s a teacher’s job to babysit the students. Remember the saying “it takes a village?” Well that wasn’t just political rhetoric, it DOES take a village. Parents, neighbors, friends, peers, support from the area government, all of these things make a difference in a life. Take away the things that helps a person feel human – quality food, decent shelter, opportunities for entertainment, a sens of ownership – and people will find their own entertainment. Sometimes that means vandalism, sometimes driving through the countryside at ridiculous speeds, sometimes defending a little patch of concrete you call your own.

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◊The plan was to post this on 6/6, while I was away. Apparently, I forgot. On a beach or something.

*Much like the pronghorn antelope† is not a true antelope, the American buffalo is not actually a buffalo, but a bison. Big differences. There’s a lot of that here, area “discovered” by Europeans and things inaccurately named because they reminded the explorers of something else.

†I still remember the first time I saw pronghorn when I was in Colorado. I mean, I knew the song, Home on the Range, but it was a very different thing seeing them a few hundred yards away. There was a time when I didn’t have to go far to see them, early on. The drop in the herd size was significant in the ten years I was there, as Colorado Springs spread into the eastern plains.

‡GH – hiccough, OUGH – dough, PTH – ptarmigan, EIGH – eight, TTE – gazette, EAU – plateau.
Potato.