Sunday, March 29, 2009

a grammatic response in capitol hill

i shared with my mother a joy in the oddities of the english language as written properly and improperly. oklahoma court history provided my most usual explanatory example - the 50+ years before someone figured out the implication of having a 'criminal court of appeals' and changed it's name to 'court of criminal appeals'. today i officially dub that almost automatic response to this kind of thing a 'gramatic response' and note that the joke is sometimes on me.

in grade school the designated teaching media was the film strip, a set of images projected on a screen one by a teacher with a clicker. it is only vaguely comparable to the slideshow of today and probably even some 40+ers don't remember the form. one of those taught be an apparently simple truth in what i think was the 5th grade, a picture of a capitol dome was forever linked in my mine with the proper spelling of that particular form of government building, the capitol with an ‘o’. i didn't come up with any such specific image for the other capital with an ‘a’. the irony was that i learned this lesson in the state with the capitol that didn't have a dome. now years later oklahoma has a dome, i live in capitol hill named after the building a developer hoped to house here, and i am left with a need to detail my grammatic response to the words capitol and capital - a phenomenon that occurs more than i care to admit.

a new oklahoma supreme court opinion in this week's bar journal was the actual catalyst for this blog effort. justice yvonne kauger is on my a list because of her relationship to, and support of, oklahoma indian people before and after becoming a justice. last week i read where she backed into the classic capitol mistake by quoting a former justice:

"¶22 Perhaps the most strikingly similar cause is the case of Johnson v.
Walters, 1991 OK 107, ¶22, 819 P.2d 694, wherein the challenged legislation involved two sections which empowered the Legislature to allocate space in the State Capital Building and to relocate various state officials, and a third section which authorized the sale of surplus water from Sardis Reservoir." Fent V. State ex Rel. Oklahoma Capitol Improvement Authority, 2009 OK 15.

reading this i realized it was time begun my research online in preparation for the definitive blog on the subject.

the first step was oklahoma state government. two items in an oklahoma governmental summary
netstate- oklahoma confirmed my theory but gave me my first clue to miss [emphasis added of course]:

On November 16, 1907, Oklahoma was admitted to the union. The state capital, Guthrie, was moved to Oklahoma City in 1910.

OKLAHOMA CAPITOL BUILDING: Location:Oklahoma City; Date Erected:1915-1917; Dome:2001-2002.

next i journeyed to definitions to confirm my capitol dome theory. merriam webster on line assured me that capitol means a building in which a state legislative body meets or a group of buildings in which the functions of state government are carried out; or when capitalized, the Capitol in washington. the word capitol, it seems, came from the latin 'capitolium', the temple of jupiter in rome on the capitoline hill. but again there was a clue in the definition for me to miss.

so finally it took another online dictionary,
the free dictionary, to teach me i was both right and wrong. capital means economic capital, big letters, murder for which the penalty is death, and a british adjective for a good thing. the roots included the latin word for head. but the most important part of the definition of capital which i missed is this: a town or city that is the official seat of government in a political entity ... [or] , the center of a specific activity or industry ... [e.g. a] financial capital'.

so now i'll continue my reeducated grammatic reaction to printed misuse of capitol/capital and hope you join in this one and others. by the way the picture at the top shows the oklahoma state capital company in guthrie which wanted to house the capitol and be the capital and in the end got this company which at least had the decency to spell its name right.

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start the day with a non sequitur smile
i'm not a particular yahoo fan. i started yahoo email early because it was free and bill gates didn't own it. but i'll always pick google for a search and most everything else i can think of. one exception: my 'my yahoo' homepage which allows me to start the morning with 3 cartoons. my perhaps predictable personal choice: doonesbury, non-sequitur, and pat oliphant. to varying degrees all three allow me to smile in the face of the real world by mixing whimsey and a point of view. doonesbury, in particular, regularly teaches me. the current series taught me about a concrete result of bush’s war - aphasia and tbi [traumatic brain injury] in iraq veterans before i knew much about it. [check out Veterans Affairs: About Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Brain Injury in Iraq’s War Veterans if you want the in-depth course.]
for this particular Sunday its non sequitur which made me chuckle as you see above.

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Saturday, March 21, 2009

moving graffiti

i was amazed by this the first time i saw it and it gets better on reviewing. i happily do not know what the artist wants to say if anything. the video is everywhere but i can't yet find the original website. here's a nice little description: 'MUTO an ambiguous animation: animation and editing by blu. assistant sibe : music by andrea martignoni :produced by mercurio film'.

MUTO a wall-painted animation by BLU from blu on Vimeo.


aig+ or what we forgot to tell indians before they signed the treaty
i remain somewhat tongue-tied in response to the depression. I don’t have stocks or 401k’s to see plummet. i don’t have an employer to tank along with my job. i mostly have clients who are made even poorer by the trickledown. i do remain amazed by the absolute lack of shame shown by rich folks and their media and corporate manifestations. one of these causes me to talk a bit - the claim that the aig bonuses are untouchable.
if there is any simple lesson of the day to day practice of the law it is that the written law whether from statutes, constitutions, administrative rules or judicial opinions is ultimately only words. The day to day working of courts and systems affected by the written law require working near it but not following it literally. it is the background music, but not necessarily the theme.
i work mostly within the criminal law court systems. there regularly procedural niceties are ignored and plea bargains made. defendants do not receive the absolutes of constitutional and statutory protections. law enforcement is not allowed to arrest people knowing that they will be punished exactly in keeping with the written law. lawyers and judges find they can occasionally use the written law as the basis for their position and actions. but we all gain something from acknowledging that the written law is only as good as the situation allows.
so perhaps its not surprising that i cringe when i hear the claim that the contracts between a corporation and it’s resident malfeasors to pay them a so-called bonus in spite of their lack of performance trumps all. the lawyers who gave this advice and the clients who accepted it are basically all foolish. for them and anyone who cares to dabble in legal yacking, i recommend a times oped thing in which a professorial type sets out the various things they didn’t think of: A.I.G.’s Bonus Blackmail.
there’s another theory i’ve seen mentioned. these people need to be kept around because they’re the only ones capable of declawing their own monstrous creations. making this the basis of these people’s future would at least add a little truth to the farce. if i was their lawyer, i might suggest that a lotta mea culpa and return of the bonuses might allow them to become part of the cure with whatever benefits accrue to their souls and maybe pocketbooks. unfortunately they’ll probably ask ‘what would rush do?’ and ignore my advice.

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Saturday, March 14, 2009

happy pi day+
saturday morning with 3 - count em 3 - generations of benefield women in the immediate area - 4 if you count the continuing impact of my mother margaret jean benefield on my surroundings. later on i'll happily find nick spitzer and american routes on the internet in a continuation of the love of music old and new which she began in me. more about that later.
but first a new discovery: pi day.
it took me a little time to figure out why 3.14 is pi day. there's a group that doesn't have to go pack to its mathematical memory to figure it out. they actually want to know how many of the infinite numbers of pi you've memorized. they have a few other clues on how to celebrate pi day. my daily bleed provides a better description of pi and its day and a quote from some other intellectuals on the subject:

1998 -- US: Pi in the Sky?: At the Exploratorium in Frisco, California, mathematicians assemble, as usual, to celebrate pi (3.14159 etc.). One of probably dozens or maybe hundreds of such assemblies worldwide at which people sing songs & recite poetry about pi, have pi trivia quizzes, & eat pie. (Pi, the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter, is a
mathematically irrational number, & is thus considered to be a symbol for the mystery of the universe.)

Moe: "When the roll is called up yonder I’ll eat pie."
Curly: "Pi r²?"
Moe: "No, pie are round; cake are square."
Curly: "Oh."Moe: "No, O are round, also ."

i probably won't spend too much time pi'ing but i guarantee i'll spend quality time later in the day with american routes after finding when it's on on the public radio link over on the right. as i probably mentioned before, nick spitzer who is american routes attended the same college as i did. for this reason my latest alumni magazine includes an article on him and the show: digging routes. i recommend the whole article if you have the time and interest and include the introductory portion that speaks to me as a true believer and a show description by spitzer himself:

A Saturday afternoon, maybe a Sunday. You might be driving;
you might be in the kitchen chopping onions. The radio is on, and when you notice the hour, you flip it to a certain NPR station, just in time to hear the rolling opening bars of “Tipitina,” Allen Toussaint’s interpretation of the Professor Longhair classic.“You’re traveling on American Routes, from Basin Street Station in New Orleans,” comes the voice-over: "songs and stories from the bayous to the beltways, from crossroads to crosstown, from coast to coast.” The voice, which belongs to Nick Spitzer C’72, is at once laid back and revved up, friendly but
erudite, somewhere on the wry edge of folksy. As Jelly Roll Morton breaks into “Doctor Jazz,” or Nat King Cole slides into “Route 66,” or Louis Jordan digs into “Five Guys Named Moe,” Spitzer offers a teaser of the week’s installment. It might be the Medicine Show, with rollicking songs of lovesickness and snake-oil healing; it might be Classical Routes, with the likes of Gershwin, Gottschalk, and “Concerto for Cootie”; it might be The Spirit World of New Orleans, with odes to voodoo queens and interviews with Fats Domino and a Louisiana Creole healer. Or it might be a live performance of Arlo Guthrie’s “The City of New Orleans,” as he and Spitzer ride the train of that name, riffing down to the sea.Whatever—for the next two hours, if it’s at all possible, you’re not budging. You’re cruising.
Spitzer himself describes the show as a “Creole document,” explaining that “it contains Creole music, like Zydeco and the roots of jazz; it
contains creolized forms, like the way that Klezmer or country music and rock ’n’ roll represent minglings of culture to create new music out of old traditions; and it’s an assemblage of many different styles that makes the totality of what is a kind of aesthetically creolized, purposely creolized, mixed and mingled document.”
here's a couple of other all purpose blues sites with history and music connections: blues history and the blue highway
i'll close with a seque i think is worthy of the name. roy rogers and dale evans are part of my way back musical history including their signature 'happy trails to you'. during my psychedelic period quicksilver messenger service brought it back to me in a way which, as they noted, blew my mind. after a rambling and wonderful trip around 'who do you love' they provided a 'coda' of a soft happy trails. i can't find a video version of the latter, so here's the original by roy and dale:

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Sunday, March 08, 2009

st penguin's day - irish notes

my claim to 'heritage' happily includes ireland and the irish. i put heritage in quotes to differentiate myself from the ubiquitous oklahoma nonindian claim to 'indian heritage'. i did not grow up in any way irish and my claim to a relationship with things irish comes from consuming and enjoying ireland as delivered to me in books, movies and sounds. i do not choose to insult the irish by claiming i are one whether or not i may have an ancestor who was in fact irish.

my penguinista friend jen [see her link to the right] gives me a chance to prepare for st. patrick's day with some words and a pic that combines two of my loves - penguins and the irish - without claiming i am of penguin heritage.

first a moment in the catskills with my lost new york friend tom hoffman and his family. when bernice and i travelled to new york with our new van and 6 children back when, tom and kathy took us to an 'irish festival' . the festival is like a number of summer tourist drinking events nomiminally dedicated to an indentifiable group. this one however also includes first and later irish expatriates. they demonstrate the absolute angsts of being irish and of being a hyphenated american [cf. american indian.]. they fervently sang 'give ireland back to the irish' and then were just as loud when the song was 'god bless america'. they have escaped - but can not escape - the agony of the 'troubles', the 200 year long reaction to great britain's claim to own ireland and its people. . there is an interruption to the violence but within the week there has been more. i mention all this in part to recommend one of the most beautiful and sad short stories i have ever read: frank o'connor's 'guests of the nation'. it is the story of two new ira recruits assigned to guarding two captive british soldiers who they are ultimately ordered to kill after all have interacted as people. it obviously speaks to the sadness of war - implicitly it also speaks to religion as the basis for war and conquering between neighbors. i couldn't find it online but i unabashedly recommend the story for real reading.

in more modern times 1972's 'bloody sunday' united rockers from both side of the pond to sing against the british in ireland. u2 and beatles john and paul all sang out and in fact it was paul who wrote the first song the irish americans were singing. i'll close with his version of the song and a recommendation that you read wikipedia's account of bloody sunday that gives a capsulized history of the day and the troubles:

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Saturday, March 07, 2009

evolving 1

in 1960 i left the littlest big city in the west to go to school in philadelphia. i found numerous new joys including row houses, real public transportation, people who were different in appeance, sound, and religion from me and philly steak sandwiches. all were important in freeing me to become who i am.
still they were dwarfed by an intellectual experience that would probably be called an 'epiphany' today. i came to know evolution thru a series of classes including one loren eiseley. i found it to be a beautiful, elegant, yet simple, explanation of my existence. perhaps most importantly it made it unnecessary to confront what i consider the obvious foibles of man and christianity. i was free to do and be what i wanted to be and determine my own moral path
this year is the 200th anniversary of darwin's birth and the 150th anniversary of the origin of the species and a long time since my evolution moment. i want to think and write about it all. for now i offer this wonderful image to you.