Resist.

America was built on the backs of the disenfranchised, the downtrodden, those who were seen as lesser than human all because of their color, nationality, or religion. America was never great. There has been no point in American history where equal rights have been available to all.
Racism, sexism, discrimination, hate-based phobias dominated the platform of the man who took office yesterday. The man who lost the popular vote by a larger margin than any other president in modern history (Hayes in 1876 and Adams in 1824 lost by larger margins). The man who entered the Oval Office with a lower approval rating than any other president in modern history.
His history, his words, his lies normalized Neo-Nazis (1, 2), the KKK. He normalized assault, sexism, toxic masculinity, harassment, homophobia, transphobia, and brought back platforms and ideals that were once banners of war criminals. He promised to strip constitutional rights away from people who only wish for equal rights.
The mission & vision of the Women’s March says it all:

“The rhetoric of the past election cycle has insulted, demonized, and threatened many of us – immigrants of all statuses, Muslims and those of diverse religious faiths, people who identify as LGBTQIA, Native people, Black and Brown people, people with disabilities, survivors of sexual assault – and our communities are hurting and scared. We are confronted with the question of how to move forward in the face of national and international concern and fear.
In the spirit of democracy and honoring the champions of human rights, dignity, and justice who have come before us, we join in diversity to show our presence in numbers too great to ignore. The Women’s March on Washington will send a bold message to our new government on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights. We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.”

There are too many issues to be angry about, too many rights in danger of being erased. The march was filled with hundreds of thousands of people marching for different causes, but were unified under one thought: We will not go quietly. We will not lay down and “just accept it.”
We, as a unified front, marched – in spirit or in person – to show that we will fight and protect the rights of those who are less fortunate.
We fight so that future generations don’t have to, so they can experience and know true equality.
We fight and acknowledge that the color of our skin, our occupation, our gender, our sex, determines how we are treated, how we are seen. Immigrants, non-whites, sex workers, LGBTQIA+, those with disabilities, those who are not part of the 1%, almost everyone has something that will be put in jeopardy. And those who are the lucky ones who will not be effected by the policies and laws that will be attempted to get passed, it is our job to stand by those in danger. It is our job to join our voices with theirs, raising the volume and the heat, supporting their marches, their causes, not just when it’s convenient.
We fight because we know that love is stronger than hate.
We fight for our siblings, are parents, our children, our neighbors, the strangers we’ve never met.
We fight because we love our country and our world.
When the president blatantly is ignorant of the unalienable rights this country is founded upon, we will fight and stand tall, speak loud, and protect those that are in danger.
Theodore Roosevelt, in a 1918 wartime essay said:

“Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official, save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country. In either event, it is unpatriotic not to tell the truth, whether about the president or anyone else.”

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American Politics: Rooted in the Past with no Regards for the Future

Over the past twenty-four hours, several pieces have appeared, claiming the possibility of a Hail Mary for these election results. While the polls are closed, and the nation has announced a new president-elect, the Electoral College doesn’t officially meet to cast their ballots until December 19.

How possible is this? What would be needed? How did we get to where we are? Where did the Electoral College come from? What were the Founding Fathers thinking?!

Electoral College: A History

The Electoral College: a remnant of an archaic 18th century tradition that meant the best, but has caused the worst.
At the Constitutional Convention of 1878, a system of checks & balances was put in for our checks and balances. After rejecting the ideas of either Congress or state legislators selecting the president, election by popular vote was settled. However, there was fear that general lack of information would heavily sway votes, causing the people to vote for a familiar face, or a “favorite son” of their home state, instead of a candidate who was more qualified, but less familiar. The hope was that the most informed, knowledgeable people from each state were the ones choosing  This model can be seen throughout history: the Roman Republic’s Centurial Assembly, the Roman Catholic Church of the College of Cardinals selecting the Pope. With many of the Founding Fathers schooled in classical history and political strategies, the similarity of the systems isn’t surprising. However, as the population grew, technology developed, information became more readily available, and the digital age dawned, it turned from a help to a hindrance. Just as it did with the Centurial Assembly, the Electoral College became more of an oligarchic system than a democratic one.

Let it also be realized that this system was designed to work without political parties, OR national campaigns. In Article II, Section I of the Constitution, it outlines the design and implementation of the College:

 

  • Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.
  • The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by Ballot for two Persons, of whom one at least shall not be an Inhabitant of the same State with themselves. And they shall make a List of all the Persons voted for, and of the Number of Votes for each; which List they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the Seat of the Government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the Presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the Certificates, and the Votes shall then be counted. The Person having the greatest Number of Votes shall be the President, if such Number be a Majority of the whole Number of Electors appointed; and if there be more than one who have such Majority, and have an equal Number of Votes, then the House of Representatives shall immediately chuse by Ballot one of them for President; and if no Person have a Majority, then from the five highest on the List the said House shall in like Manner chuse the President. But in chusing the President, the Votes shall be taken by States, the Representation from each State having one Vote; A quorum for this Purpose shall consist of a Member or Members from two thirds of the States, and a Majority of all the States shall be necessary to a Choice. In every Case, after the Choice of the President, the Person having the greatest Number of Votes of the Electors shall be the Vice President. But if there should remain two or more who have equal Votes, the Senate shall chuse from them by Ballot the Vice President.

 

This first design only lasted through four presidential elections, with the second design appearing after the messy Election of 1800 (Jefferson or Burr?). After the Electorates of their party gave each of them equal votes, the vote fell to the House of Representatives who, after 36 tries, finally took a vote that was cast in Jefferson’s favor. Not wanting to go through the same confusing turmoil again, the Continental Congress of 1804 hastily wrote and passed the Twelfth Amendment, which clarified that each Elector cast one vote for president, and one for vice-president, instead of the previous model, which had two votes for president, and the runner-up was given the vice president’s seat.

Political parties had, up to that point, been somewhat unorganized, however, America saw very quickly that the feud Jefferson & Burr had created solidly divided the still-young American political system into two very separate parties (despite both being of the Democratic-Republican Party). Since the amendment, several federal and state laws were passed that somewhat altered the timeline of the Electoral College votes, but by and large, it remains intact the same way that it existed after 1804. (One exception to this rule is the 23rd amendment, which granted the District of Columbia three electors.)

Present Day:
While all electors are chosen by voters, in many states, the names of candidates for the college almost never appear on the ballot, many times, the seats being “awarded” to persons already on the state legislature.

Across the board, electors are, in most cases, pledged to vote for the candidates of the party that nominated them to the position. However, in rare cases, individuals have refused, and voted against their party or the popular vote. These are called “faithless electors.” While there is no concrete evidence that the founders intended for the electors to be independent of any party, but it can be strongly assumed due to the fact that the original model was meant to operate without the existence of political parties at all. In fact, many scholars have the opinion that, once electors have been chose, they remain constitutionally free agents with the ability to vote for whichever candidate that meets the Presidential and Vice Presidential requirements. There are laws punishing faithless electors in 24 of the 50 states, due to a Supreme Court case in 1952, Ray v. Blair, 343 US 214, but the constitutionality of actually punishing an elector has never been decided, and electors can only be punished after the fact, which wouldn’t’ change their vote. Still, the Faithless have been few and far between, with 187 occurring in our nation’s entire 240 year history. In the 20th century alone, there have been seven, one each in 1948, 1956, 1960, 1968, 1972, 1976, 1988, and 2000- none of them swayed or influenced the outcome of an election in any way.

Electing a President:

An official election day was chosen by Congress in 1845, stopping the previous voting practice in which each state had different voting timelines spread between September & November. While not the most timely of practices, this also lead to multiple votes across state lines, and other various voting fraud practices. November was chosen out of ease for the farming population, which comprised most of America’s occupation at the time. They settled on a Tuesday because of the widespread religious practice of observing Sunday as a strict day of rest. It provided a full day’s travel, harvest was in, and travel wasn’t yet hampered by weather. While other countries around the globe have made their election days a federal holiday, or offer other tools for making voting easier, the United States has yet to update their voting process since this time.

Weeks after the general election, the electors meet in the capital of their respective states to cast their ballot. Currently, it’s the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December. This year, it’s December 19th.

Why are we still hoping on the electoral college?

Simple: They do not officially cast their ballots til December 19, leaving several weeks of assumption. At the time of the election, there were four members of the Electoral College already pledging to be faithless: Robert Satiacum and Bret Chiafalo, both Democratic electors from Washington, and Republican electors Baoky Vu, Georgia, and Chris Suprun, from Texas. Suprun later told TIME that he intends to support Trump, so that leaves three. Two Democratic members who intend to abstain from casting their vote at all, and one Republican.

If, in the Electoral College, the margin of victory comes as close as it did in 2000, any one of these men could sway the vote, making it the first time in history to happen. However, there is a series of laws in place that would simply push the process down the line of state laws and constitutional checks & balances.

First, if the Electoral College results in a tie due to an elector abstaining or switching their vote, a provision in the Twelfth Amendment mandates that the House chooses the president, with the Senate choosing the vice president. Each representative in the House casts a single vote, and the majority wins.

Second, when Congress meets on January 6, 2017, they will determine if the Electoral College vote was “regularly given,” a historically ceremonial meeting. However, this meeting doesn’t have to be ceremonial: if a single member of the House and one member of the Senate objects to the results of the Electoral College (ie: the final tally is swayed due to a faithless elector), the newly elected Congress now vote. If both the decision of the House and the Senate agree, the decision is final, and a president is chosen. If they do not agree, then the Secretary of State of the state who’s electors were faithless decides. (ie: If Satiacum, Chiafalo, Vu, or Suprun’s votes were cast in such a way that it swayed the vote, than the Secretary of State for Washington, Georgia, and Texas would make the final decision.)

The contemporary number of electoral votes stands at 538, with a candidate needing 270 in order to become president-elect. Due to the current practice of awarding electoral votes, in which a candidate receives all of a state’s vote if they gain the popular vote, the electoral college stands in Trump’s favor- 290 to Clinton’s 232, as of Wednesday evening, despite Clinton winning the popular vote (making her only the fifth candidate in history to do so). So, as it stands, the chances of the electoral college vote in December actually flipping the election is barely there.

 

So, in conclusion: yes, there is more to the process, but it would defy odds for actual change to happen. What this election really tells us is  how outdated and archaic our voting process has become. Between our election day still resting on a weekday, widespread instances of companies threatening employees if they took time off or were late if they voted, voter repression, and the fact that it isn’t a federal holiday, many things need to change. Our democratic government’s shroud is wearing thin, exposing its oligarchical skeletal structure to the masses. The president elect is chosen not by the people’s vote, but by a group of politicians more interested in keeping their political party in power than they are gratifying the people’s issues. Unfortunately, because the electoral college is written into the Constitution, getting rid of it is far easier said than done. A two-thirds vote in both the House and the Senate, and the ratification in 38 of our 50 states would be required. It’s been tried before, and has failed miserably. Attempts in 1934, 1966, and 1979 have all failed in the legislative branch, and over the past decade, state-by-state workarounds were cropping up in local polls.

As you can see, the dislike and mistrust of the electoral college isn’t a new issue. In fact, national dislike has been at a majority for decades. A Gallup poll in 1948 said 56% were against it. That number rose to 58% in 1967, and by the next year, 80% of the national voice was against the outdated amendment. However, it’s never been successfully repealed.

Regardless of the outcome of the electoral college, we have work to do.

 

Worth noting:
Between third-party voters and the outdated existence of the electoral college, we find the lost votes. Had Clinton won in the closest states: Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Florida, she would have defeated Trump with 307 electoral votes, securing the presidency. (This election is an eerie reflection of how the 2000 election played out, where Florida was, once again, down to the wire.) Please note that the following statistics do not show how many of Johnson’s or Stein’s voters would have voted for Clinton or Trump in the event of the third-party candidates not being on the ballot, or how many of them would have stayed home. However, we can acknowledge that the electoral map would look decidedly different in the event they were not an option.

Florida, 29 electoral votes:
Lost by 119,770 votes, with 99% reporting.
Total number of votes for Stein and Johnson: 270,026.

Michigan, 16 electoral votes:
Lost by 11,837, with 96% reporting.
Total number of votes for Stein and Johnson: 223,707

Pennsylvania, 20 electoral votes:
Lost by 68,236 votes, with 99% reporting.
Total number of votes for Stein and Johnson: 191,565

Wisconsin, 10 electoral votes:
Lost by 27,257, with 95% reporting.
Total number of votes for Johnson and Stein: 137,422

 

 

 

Sources:

US Electoral College, National Archives and Records Administration. https://www.archives.gov/federal-register/electoral-college/index.html

History of the Electoral College, History.com http://www.history.com/topics/electoral-college

Electoral College: Fun Stuff, Jackson County Electoral Board, http://jceb.co.jackson.mo.us/fun_stuff/electoral_college.htm

Education: The Electoral College, Votesmart.org, https://votesmart.org/education/electoral-college#.WCSBHlUrKUk

What Happens if Faithless Electors Swing the Results?, Time.com http://time.com/4560682/faithless-electors/

The One Scenario that Could Still get Hillary to the White House, New York Post, http://nypost.com/2016/11/09/the-one-scenario-that-could-still-get-hillary-into-the-white-house/

Could Faithless Electors Change the Outcome of the Election?, Bustle.com https://www.bustle.com/articles/194300-could-faithless-electors-change-the-outcome-of-the-election-hillary-clinton-supporters-cant-rely-on-them

The So-called Faithless Elector Could Decide the Presidential Election for the First Time, Washington Times, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/nov/9/so-called-faithless-elector-could-decide-president/

How Gary Johnson and Jill Stein Helped Elect Donald Trump, CNN Politics, http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/10/politics/gary-johnson-jill-stein-spoiler/

Getting Rid of the Electoral College, Washington Post,
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/11/09/getting-rid-of-the-electoral-college-dream-on-democrats/

Happy World Book Day!!!

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As a librarian, World Book Day definitely sits at the top of my “favorite random holidays” list (others include: World Nutella day- Feb 5. Bourbon Day- June 15. International Coffee Day- Oct 1, and Hobbit Day- September 22…).

In honor of this most esteemed holiday (which you should celebrate by going to your local bookstore and picking up a new good read!!), I wanted to share some of the great finds that I’ve stumbled across during my wanderings at work! My library is a private library that focuses on science, engineering, and technology, which you can read more about it from my blog post here, or here! We have around 45 miles of shelves filled with academic and professional journals, books, maps, folios, military and industrial standards, government documents, just about anything you can think of! Our rare book collection is also stunning, and I could go on and on until I’m old and grey about that, so I’ll just keep this narrowed down to the fun things I’ve found while hunting the stacks!

Currently, I’m working on curating a temporary collection of books that compliment our upcoming exhibit on the history of ornithology and bird watching as a hobby. From field guides to beautifully illustrated folios, there are books about every bird imaginable! (These adorably expressive owls are photographs from this great book!)

Of course, if you’re going to learn about owls, you may as well pick up some seasonal tips on reindeer handling. (this would definitely come in handy when we move to Finland if our favorite millionare Oompa Loompa gets elected…)

Copy of IMG_8986

Of course, never a pessimist, I’m planning a parade for when he ISN’T elected, and what better source to turn to than a 1956 parade design book?

A woman with vices that extend beyond horrible puns, nutella by the spoonful, and buying books in unnecessary amounts, I enjoy a good cigar now and then… (more “now” than “then” … hey, it’s a vice, right?!), so when I stumbled across this piece written in 1947, discussing the history of pipes and smoking tobacco, I have to say I was excited. It’s now semi-permanently sitting at my desk (Sssh…)

Another facsimile (a book that is an exact copy of the original. This is used especially in cases of handwritten or rare books) that found its way to my desk (not ashamed) is good old Geoff. Oh Geoffrey Chaucer…wait, why is a complete copy of his works, IN THE ORIGINAL ENGLISH, sitting on a shelf in my engineering library…oh well. The tome keeps me company now, making my desk look marvelously important (even though I rarely crack the binding…that semester of Chaucer & Old English in college left me scarred. SCARRED).

 

Of course, sometimes books aren’t that nice to you…Watch out, or they’ll crush you mercilessly.

But as always, it’s a love/hate/love relationship. We love them. We hate waiting for the sequel. We love the antici … pation for the sequel…so keep on being a bookworm! It’s the best kind of worm there is!

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*cough* NERD

BUT WAIT. THERE’S MORE.

NO World Book Day would be complete without random, yet interesting-and-could-probably-be-a-question-on-Jeopardy facts!!

  1. Did you know that the first movable type was invented in China by a man named Bi Sheng, around 1040? That’s nearly 600 YEARS before Gutenberg’s press!
  2. The world’s oldest library, located in Fez, Morocco, was founded by a woman. The al-Qarawiyyin Library is a part of a complex that includes the library, a mosque, and the world’s oldest University. Fatima El-Fihriya, a Tunisian businessman’s daughter, pledged her entire inheritance towards founding a university and library in Fez. The university opened in 859, and has been in continuous operation since its doors first opened. The library has been closed over the past 4 years, undergoing extensive renovations, and is slated to open this May!
  3. The first book to ever be published in America is believed to be a Puritan hymnal from around 1640, now called the Bay Psalm Book. It went up for auction in 2013, set at $30 million.
  4. JRR Tolkien, author of the famous Lord of the Rings series and its numerous companions, was an Oxford professor, linguist, and all around nerd. He was semi-fluent in over 10 languages, and created several for his famed fantasy series  (all of which were based on Germanic languages), he also worked on reconstructing and reviving existing, but long-dead languages as well, such as Medieval Welsh and Lombardic.
  5. The longest book ever printed is thought to be Artamène/Cyrus the Great, a medieval text that measures a whopping 10 volumes, 13,095 pages, and over 1 million words. On the page, the book is written by Frenchman Geroges de Scudéry, but scholars now accredit it more to his sister, Madeleine. If you’re curious, a project was launched to digitize the work here, thanks the the Institute of Modern French Literature! (Here’s a list of some more of the longest books ever published.)

 

 

Dear Presidential Candidates

The more accurate title of this post should be “Dear Mr. Santorum,” but each of the GOP candidates have been guilty of this at one point in time.

However, this is focusing on last night’s circus of a GOP “debate.” Between Trump trying to insult his way into the Oval Office, Fioria apparently not knowing how to fact check her statements or supporting media, and Carson showing that one doesn’t have to be completely intelligent to become a neurosurgeon…It’s a mess. Unfortunately, the “not my circus, not my monkeys” ideal cannot be applied, since all of these goons are attempting to win a bid for the President of the United States. (this time, my threat of moving to Canada is a very real idea)

Last evening, Santorum, a candidate who is far from a front-runner in the rat race, made several statements that belittled the idea of women serving in combat arms positions, claiming that they are too emotional and weak to handle the stress. To be frank, he’s dead wrong, and this is my response to his statement.
Continue reading “Dear Presidential Candidates”

Exhaustion

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Exhaustion hits me like a pendulum:
Appearing, fading, reappearing, fading.
A never-ending cycle.
Melting away with company,
Reappearing with loneliness.
A revolving door,
A Nascar track.

They tell you
“keep going forward.”
“You’re on the right track.”
But they don’t see the left turn
And the next one.
And the next.
The territory I travel is well-worn and familiar,
The grooves on a record
The lanes on a track.
A pattern.

Life is made of patterns.
Life is exhausting.
But it depends on the company we keep, what we do with those things.

photo credit to: http://awelltraveledwoman.tumblr.com/post/88957105726

A Day of Rememberance

Today marks the anniversary of the birth of a man who, despite all odds, rose up against the common thoughts of society to become one of the most recognized and important names in the American (and arguably the world’s) household. Humble, daring, brave, and not afraid to work against the odds, his pioneering efforts aid our society more than we can ever know.
Together with a band of men and women of the same mindset, he forged ahead into a new frontier, boldly going where no man has gone before.

Happy Birthday, James Tiberius Kirk. March 22, 2228, Riverside, Iowa.

Those interesting life facts nobody actually tells us…

So, for the past… 5 years, I’ve been bouncing around the US from state to state, house to dorm to house to apartment… you get the point.

So, throughout all of that, I probably paid more for postage than I did fueling my coffee addiction… and that’s saying something. THEN, this morning, thanks to the hilarious, amazing, and awesome Ricky Van Veen (founder of CollegeHumor- maybe you’ve been to the site… if not…where the hell have you been on the internet? …on second thought, I don’t want to know), I found THIS awesome chart I’ll post below. (and this LINK will show you the chart for wherever YOU live, if it’s not NYC)

This is the UPS outbound delivery map for the basic ground delivery package from NYC.
YELLOW: your package will get there in a day
MUSTARD-y whatever that is…: your package will get to its destination in 2 days
GREEN: it’ll be on their doorstep in 3 days
RED: after 4 days, your cargo will be in their hands
ORANGE: 5 days! woohoo!
GREY: you live in the boonies. even ALASKA gets packages faster than you… but it’ll only take 6 days

outbound shipping