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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Michael Mink, Esq.'s LiveJournal:

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Wednesday, July 4th, 2012
4:46 pm
2,942 books
Exclusive of periodicals like Punch (1841-1891 run plus large batches after), the Connecticut State Register (1816-1992 run, plus batches before and after), Military History Quarterly, American Heritage, and some comic book series, that's the total. Inclusive of the periodicals, it's likely I have ca. 3,300 books in my apartment.

Off-hand, if I had to liquidate it, probably wouldn't get a huge amount, though there are a few books that are interesting (I discovered my copy of Art Young's autobiography is signed), and the long runs of Punch and the Connecticut Register together are probably worth in the high four figures. Call it maybe $15,000 worth of books.
Thursday, October 13th, 2011
7:05 pm
Roe v. Wade (a response to someone who didn't allow comments)
I saw this quote on an LJ that I see, though the author did not allow comments on it. The context was a deeply negative reaction to a pending initiative in Mississippi that would define personhood in a way that would limit what is known as "reproductive rights" in some circles, and "abortion" in others.

Anyway, the quote: "Look, I am sick of this debate. Roe vs. Wade passed in 1973, when I was two years old."

(1) If you are sick of debate, you are sick of democracy. Debate is what fuels democracy, and the only time debate truly ends on something is when you have a large-scale consensus on something. Universal suffrage is a good example. That was debated for over 40 years, quite hotly, until the 19th Amendment was ratified shortly after World War I. Incidentally, when the amendment was passed, that pretty much resolved the debate, as repealing amendments, while possible, is very difficult and has only been done once (the 18th Amendment). The 2/3, 2/3, 3/4 requirements of a constitutional amendment ensure that there is substantial consensus on something before it is a *constitutional right* (as opposed to a legal right).

(1a) Roe v. Wade didn't just make abortion legal, which could have been done by legislation. It gave it the status of a constitutional right, which is a kind of super-legality that makes it very difficult to regulate.

(2) "Roe v. Wade passed..." Errrrr, no it didn't, and hence the entire problem. Roe v. Wade was the product of a divided Supreme Court, and *not* the product of legislation passed by Congress (or state legislatures). Furthermore, unlike Brown v. Topeka Board of Education, the USSC wasn't hanging its hat on an explicit provision of the Constitution, but on "penumbras." The USSC successively read into the Constitution that: (a) there was a "right to privacy," (b) that this right in turn applied to sexual matters, and (c) that this right in turn meant the government could not ban abortions. Which is certainly something well open to debate.

In my view, had the debate been allowed to proceed either as an explicit Constitutional amendment, or on a state-by-state basis, something would have "given" by now, and there would eventually have been a consensus. (To a certain extent, albeit with some court interference, this is happening with gay marriage.) Brown v. Topeka started a decade-long process that ultimately ended with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as well as a Constitutional amendment banning the poll tax.

Roe v. Wade didn't do that. It was an end-run around the democratic process, and it's caused no end of grief. It was an attempt to put the matter out of debate, and in a major sense, backfired dreadfully. It's also poisoned the process of selecting federal judges.

(3) By the way, I wonder if this person who commented has any problem with the USSC eventually overruling itself, in Brown v. Topeka, in the infamous Plessy v. Ferguson case from 1892. I mean, 50+ year gap there. Debate over. Right? (/sarcasm)
Monday, September 19th, 2011
7:33 pm
Earl Kress, RIP
I was made sad today by the news that Earl Kress had passed away from complications due to cancer. Kress was someone whose talents I had admired in shows like Pinky and the Brain and Road Rovers, and the various WB-related comic books. I met him once, under happy circumstances (a lunch I hosted for Kress, Charlie Howell, Tom Ruegger et alia at the Penn Club in New York); he struck me as a soft-spoken and altogether decent man. I am very sorry to see him pass on. My condolences to the family.
Saturday, August 27th, 2011
5:51 pm
Other than it's very quiet here in the city (they turned off the mass transit system, and there's hardly any traffic on the streets), and it's raining hard, not much going on.
Sunday, August 21st, 2011
8:07 pm
Culinary fun
The a-eMum's blood pressure needs a bit of regulating. At the moment, she's not on any specific medication, but the a-e has seen some sharp swings that are pretty painful to see, as it affects her emotions.

For a while, she had small bags of Lays, but she got bored with them, and didn't like how greasy they were. She's never been a junk food eater.

So, the a-e, via Amazon, sent her some "Smart Fries," which he himself, because of his low-fat diet, can have. Essentially, air-puffed wheat tubes, fairly high in sodium, good for getting salt back in your system (and thus raising blood pressure).

The a-eMum tried them, and was reasonably satisfied. That, of course, is never enough with her. Last night, her card-index mind recalled that the a-e had sent given her a Nutella sticks treat at Christmas. Essentially, a little package of biscuit sticks with some Nutella, and you dip the sticks in the Nutella. The a-eMum loves Nutella, and rations it out carefully.

At (probably) 1 AM, when the a-eMum was looking to regulate her salt, the idea struck: dip the Smart Fries in Nutella, since they're wheat. Voila! A twist on the snack that gets her the sodium she needs, and the taste she likes.

The a-eMum was highly pleased with herself, and the a-e highly amused. Hey, if it works, it works!
Tuesday, August 16th, 2011
6:23 pm
Japanese animal noises
In the same sense that doggies go "wan-wan," and mice go "chu," what is the noise associated with deer? Especially the senbei-noshing Nara variety.
Tuesday, August 9th, 2011
6:44 pm
I saw TonyFox mention a DC-4 in one of his recent posts; that very plane came up in a conversation the a-e had with the a-eMum over the weekend.

It started when the a-e sent an excerpt from the 1938 Bradshaw's railway timetable guide home, marked to show how someone would get from Dublin's Westland Row station to Ardrahan, Co. Galway, where the a-eMum had kin who owned a large farm.

This segued into comments regarding carrageenan, which both the a-eMum and a-eDad vividly recall (and detested growing up -- it's a type of seaweed extract), and then, a long-forgotten memory.

The a-eMum recalled that in "1945 or 1946," a plane had crashed in Kinvarra (near Ardrahan), and she remembered collecting rivets from the fields. Did the a-e have anything that would back this?

To the a-e's vast amusement, he did. By going on the Irish Newspaper Archive website, he found that, indeed, a Sabena DC-4, being ferried from Canada to Belgium via Ireland, ran out of fuel short of Galway, and belly-flopped in a potato field near Kinvarra, its course stopped by one of the inevitable low stone walls in the area. The pilot and co-pilot, while banged up, did survive. There was even a photo showing the DC-4 lying upright, wedged against the walls, engines stripped away.

The crash fit the time period, was a time when the a-eMum would have been in the area, and certainly would have sprayed rivets all over the place. There was even a reference to a relative in one of the articles, a local doctor who was called to the scene.

The a-eMum was also amused by this, and promptly passed on the .pdfs of the articles to a few family and friends. She observed that a plane in that part of Ireland in 1946 would still have been something of a rarity. Luckily, the story, while not perhaps happy for Sabena, ended up all right. Well, maybe also for the poor potato farmer! How do you get a DC-4 out of a field?
Saturday, July 16th, 2011
5:03 pm
Library Stuff
The a-e got in a few more Levenger BookBoxes (modular wooden bookcases that are, well, box-shaped). It's enabled him to get some things off the floor, and/or sorted better and/or more readily available. (He did find where he'd put his copy of Rovere's "Howe and Hummell: Their True and Scandalous History," a hilarious book about two crooked Victorian-era lawyers of New York.)

He's managed to accumulate 91 of the first 100 volumes of Punch, from 1841 to 1891. Covers quite a lot of ground (a good chunk of the Victorian era, the Civil War, the Crimean War, the Franco-Prussian War, &c.). Sir John Tenniel, perhaps better remembered as the artist for the "Alice" books, was the editorial cartoonist for most of that run. In point of fact, one of the latest volumes the a-e got was the one with the famous "Dropping the Pilot" cartoon involving Otto von Bismarck.

He's missing 5 from the 1845-1851 run, plus an 1866, 1867, 1871 and 1884 volume each.

He has accumulated a pawful of extra volumes, so if there are any lovers of Victoriana out there, drop me a line. I'd sell the volume, cheap ($15+ shipping) or do some trading.
Sunday, June 19th, 2011
5:33 pm
Punch, or, the London Charivari
Those who know the a-e, and have seen the a-e's apartment, know that he loves to read and collect. Off and on over the last bunch of years, he's been buying volumes of Punch, the British humour magazine founded in 1841 that went West for the first time in the early 90s, and had a brief and failed revival later. But when it was at its peak, it had many stars, including Sir John Tenniel, who was the editorial cartoonist from the late 1850s to the early 1890s (and who did the truly iconic Alice in Wonderland drawings).

Most volumes available are in England, meaning it can take a month-plus for them to arrive, but today, the a-e closed on two volumes he'd been missing from the 1850s, and upgraded a Civil War-era volume he had that wasn't in so hot a condition.

When all of his volumes arrive, he'll have all but four volumes from 1853 to 1889, and indeed he'll only be missing 13 volumes out of the whole 1841-1889 set. It makes for fascinating reading, especially for the British POV on the Great Hunger, the Indian Mutiny, the Civil War, assorted colonial wars, the Franco-Prussian war, and so forth.
Sunday, March 20th, 2011
5:37 pm
In toying with some antique Keuffel & Esser slide rules, it's occurred to me that: (a) the use assumes you're already quite good at estimating what the answer is, and (b) the use assumes a level of fractions that's pretty interesting.
Sunday, March 13th, 2011
1:54 pm
Nominated!!
"Felis Ex Machina" made the Ursa Major Awards finals this year, my first nomination since 2005. (Historically, my fourth individual nomination; I have two others with Mitch Marmel.)

It probably got nominated because of very good illustrations done for it by Roy Pounds. It's what's killed me in previous years, good stories without the added punch of good art.

Alas, Kyell Gold picked up two nominations, and given the fact that it's a first-second-third choice voting system, and he's won each of the last four years running, doesn't look good for me. Still, vote! Let's see how far I get.

Also consider two great drawings, Sue Rankin-Pollard's "Cenotaph" (done for Spontoon) and Richard Bartrop's "Lady Sings the Blues" (Spontoon artist).

Current Mood: Proud
Saturday, February 5th, 2011
9:34 pm
Ursa Major Awards Bleg
I'm still trying to win an Ursa Major Award (anthropomorphic fiction), so here's a bleg to register and vote for nominations for the awards; the final round of voting will be in some weeks.

The website is www.ursamajorawards.org
Nominations page is http://www.ursamajorawards.org/nominations.htm

Short Fiction:

"Knocking Down the Fares"
"Felis Ex Machina"

Comic Strip:

Adam Koford's "The Laugh-Out Loud Cats"
Mitch Marmel's "The Couch Kitties"

Anthropomorphic Published Illustration

"Cenotaph," by Susan-Rankin Pollard
Monday, January 17th, 2011
3:38 pm
Legal Aura?
The a-e was at an Indian buffet for lunch today. It opened at 12, and he was the first one there. The proprietor, a small, chatty, pleasant man, dealt with him. So when it came time to settle up the bill, this man -- whom the a-e never met -- asked him if he was a lawyer. Turns out the owner used to be a Cravath, Swaine & Moore lawyer (i.e., high-toned firm). Said he: "You look like a lawyer." This, mark you, when the a-e was in a scruffy army sweater, old khakis, his USS Lexington (CV-2) hat, and he hadn't shaved.

This may be in the same line why the a-e is constantly being stopped for directions in the street, including today. It's bizarre. He can be in a group of a number of people, and *he's* the one that's asked.
Friday, January 14th, 2011
7:42 pm
A baby otter has made a mysterious appearance in my journal. He can do an uncanny Jack Benny impersonation.
Saturday, December 18th, 2010
7:56 pm
For no particular reasons other than karmic rebound mixed with a bit of whimsy, I dropped a Christmas present on a long-time acquaintance tonight. Not ironically, it was a reversi of a present I received from them in the past (not the same item, of course).

Merry Christmas, X! (No, he's not George F. Kennan.)

Current Mood: Holiday cheer
Monday, December 6th, 2010
10:20 pm
Well, two people did call (or equivalent thereof) to cheer the a-e up. Both were appreciated.

Though one of them hypothesized (quarter-jokingly) the existence of a certain class of female (Certain highly pleasing physical and emotional aspects, thereof) that I do not believe exists in reality.

More's the pity for the a-e.

This whole meet-up thing is a complete puzzle for him. Awkward. Hard to take a first step when you don't know where the hell you're going, or there's an open manhole a few steps away.
8:25 pm
Unhappily unmarried.
6:37 pm
The a-e got two reminders today from people he likes a great deal about why they're very happy and in love, and he isn't.
Sunday, October 24th, 2010
10:38 pm
GOP High Water Marks
Since the advent of the 17th Amendment, these are the best elections, I think, the GOP has had:

1918, +7 Senate, +25 House
1920, +10 Senate, +62 House
1928, +8 Senate, +32 House
1938, +6 Senate, +81 House
1942, +9 Senate, +47 House
1946, +12 Senate, +55 House
1980, +12 Senate, +34 House
1994, +8 Senate, +54 House

As things stand right now, the GOP looks like it's going to have a night fairly similar to 1994, except it won't be enough to take the Senate. They'd have to have a showing on the par of 1920 to take the Senate. Not likely, but possible still. (See earlier post, where the 538 Blog has the GOP with a 50% or better to get +9 Senate and about +52 House.)
9:38 pm
Running the numbers
It looks like there's a fair shot that the GOP will take the House a little over a week from now. The NYT's 538 blog suggests that the GOP will hold a 230-205 margin. Looking at some of the other polls, right now the averages are: Democrats, 196, Tossups 36, GOP 203. The Real Clear Politics aggregator is predicting right now the GOP will have a majority.

The Senate? Very unlikely the GOP will force either a deadlock or get a majority. They'd more or less have to nearly run the table.

They currently have one vulnerable seat, which is Kentucky (Rand Paul), though 3 of the 5 surveyors have the GOP to hold this. It's their weakest defence seat.

The GOP is pretty certain, according to the surveys, to take ND, AR, WI and IN from the Democrats. (+4). Pennsylvania is looking a bit shaky, right now, but the GOP is clinging to a lead (+5). IL and CO are looking shakier still, but the GOP is still slighly favoured (+7).

Where things get interesting is the final four races. NV and WV are both rated tossups, and WA has a very shaky Democratic lead. CA may be a longshot.

The 538 blog indicates that the GOP has a 50% chance or better of winning everything through WV (but not CA or WA), which would be +9 and create a deadlock. Thus, it seems about a 7-9 seat gain is in the offing, consistent with what Real Clear Politics is predicting. That would make the Senate either 48-52, or possibly 50-50 (with WV and IL being, I think, immediate seating states, because of special elections).

If it goes to 50-50, things could get a little interesting, what with Collins, Snowe, Lieberman and Nelson.
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