Pledge of Allegiance

I’ve been seeing a grumpy meme mocking “the far left” for their preoccupation with racism, as though it’s an insult invented by unpatriotic extremists to beat up Real Americans(TM). I seem to recall that every weekday for 13 years I was instructed to recite a loyalty pledge in which I promised, hand on my heart, to defend liberty and justice for all. All. Maybe you’re familiar with it.

These colors don’t run, y’all.


Gary says: That dog hunts! Always has!! What’s tough for some hunters is that they sometimes realize THEY are the hunted.

Jeff says: A mandatory loyalty pledge in any free society is odd, as is the entire notion of having to repeat any pledge daily, but the “liberty and justice for all” part is really good.

Gary: I don’t know that I would call it mandatory, although when children are required to recite the pledge, it might be called “brainwashing.” But to me, it is brainwashing in a good way! It’s only mandatory in the military, or of those who serve us in the government, as it should be.

Romie: I always thought it was kinda weird, and none of my schools bothered people who didn’t want to do it. I usually participated, although at different points I dropped out certain bits (because my allegiance isn’t actually to the flag; because I believe in a separation of church and state; because the nation was divisible [I felt at the time, but now I take the Unionist point of view that the Confederate secession was never legally legitimate]).

I have a lot of sympathy for people who find the pledge sinister or alienating. However, speaking only for myself, I enjoy rituals and mantras. There’s something interesting about returning to the same set of words over and over again and finding that I understand them differently. Particularly when they’re words I share with a lot of other people.

Sharon: Seconding the enjoyment of rituals. I worry sometimes my daughter doesn’t get enough of them. She, like me, is a creature who enjoys habit.

Kathy: Hate is never good.

One-Party Rule

More authoritarian dictator shenanigans. If you’re from a state or district which is represented by Democrats in congress, know that as of now, executive branch agencies have been asked to behave as though your representatives are not members of the U.S. government.

In an expected bit of doublespeak nonsense, “A White House spokeswoman said the policy of the administration is “to accommodate the requests of chairmen, regardless of their political party.” There are no Democratic chairmen, as Congress is controlled by Republicans.”

White House orders agencies to ignore Democrats’ oversight requests” (Burgess Everett and Josh Dawsey, Politico)

Festa della Repubblica

By the way, today is the Festa della Repubblica, the Italian national day. It is, as you can tell from the name, NOT unification day, when Italy became one country. It’s a celebration of when — in 1946 — Italy voted to become a republic, and formed the current government after WWII.

This was not a foregone conclusion. There were 12.7 million votes in favor of forming a republic. There were 10.7 million in favor of restoring the monarchy.

It makes sense. When the king ceded power to a popular government, that populist government was Mussolini’s Fascists. There was not a great track record with non-kings. Particularly in the south, there was a desire to go back to the way things had been, which included festivals with nice desserts. They didn’t have the benefit of knowing what we know today, which is that a republican Italy has many festivals with nice desserts.

But Democracy won. The country made a brave decision and formed a parliament. It would from that point forward be the duty of the people to protect the people. Which they have done. This is verse three of the national anthem they adopted a few months after the vote:

Uniamoci, amiamoci,
l'unione e l'amore
rivelano ai popoli
le vie del Signore.

Let’s unite and love one another. Unity and love reveal to the people the ways of the lord.

Bravi, italiani.


Nic says: I dream of the day when we can have a referendum about our monarchy… Even if it wasn’t consigned to history’s dustbin, it would be a huge step to even have it.

Chicca says: Those were very violent times, though. Italy got there and sense prevailed, but there was so much animosity against the King and between his supporters and those against. Glad, of course, we’re well over that now, but Italy is starting to forget its own moral centre, the constitution and how we actually are supposed to help one another and any one in need that makes Italy their new home. It’s a day to celebrate and a day to make us remember what we should be like.

Billfold Essay About Italian Austerity

New essay by me at The Billfold, “Social Trust in a Cash Economy” — a collage of cultural anecdotes about Italy and money, and the way a very calm Austerity crisis feels. It’s about a six-minute read. It starts like this:

There is a recurring bill I pay in Italy, in person, with a credit card. When I finish the transaction, the secretary makes a handwritten note in a small book. She makes the same note on a card-sized piece of notebook paper which I carry. One time, I forgot to bring the card-sized piece of paper. The secretary urgently retrieved an identical card and wrote down the entire history of our financial transactions, so that if she ever tried to cheat me, I could say, no, look here, in your handwriting it says I paid, because this ballpoint numeral is more meaningful than a credit card statement.

Something I didn’t know when I wrote the essay (because I just found out about it today) is that Italian banks get robbed a lot. A lot a lot a lot. (In the essay, I don’t write about banks at all, which probably wouldn’t have changed. But by coincidence, the essay came out the same day I knew this new thing.) Between 2000 and 2006 (the last timeperiod for which there is comprehensive data), Italian banks were robbed an average of 2771 times a year. That’s “walked in with a sack and robbed” robbed. For comparison, Germany’s number is 838. Spain’s is 523. Greece’s is 144. It is a pain in the ass to go into an Italian banks, with lots of, essentially, nested delayed airlocks you have to pass through solo. I figured this was the usual Italian security mania, but in this case it seems warranted

All the World is Waiting for You

Dyed my hair blueblack today. I may be a little excited about Wonder Woman.


Brian says:  Did you dye it with the tears of men?

Romie: Sort of? I made my husband apply it and he was very stressed out by the fear he might (1) fail to dye my hair (2) accidentally dye several other surfaces (3) or both.

Brian: I’m just referring to the guys who are getting very upset about the all-women screenings of Wonder Woman.

Romie: I have been following the strategy of screening messages from those guys. I throw up blocks like they’re missle-deflecting gold bracelets.


Nic says: I used to do blue-black – kind of miss it.

Romie: It is one of very few colors my hair hasn’t previously been! I’m liking it.


Carrie says: Hoo boy just found out BDS Lebanon is boycotting, so my outfit is changing (adding my purple kafia). I realize this is not enough but my ticket is bought already and I do want to go.

Romie: When you’re a member of (or ally of) mutiple sometimes-overlapping oppressed populations, I suspect it’s somewhat revolutionary to be joyful when there is an opportunity to feel delight—to find hope in the community of other imperfect strivers.

I like the kafia idea.


Acevedo: [tosses back long dark locks] you were saying….?


Angie says: GREAT excuse for a selfie, tbh!!

Romie: INSTEAD I CRASH A MAN’S SELFIE

wonderwoman hair

Angie: SO WOMAN, MUCH WONDER

Summer: Your clothes match. I’m agog.

Romie: Mine isn’t clothes; it’s a blanket. We match on many levels but “comfortable ambient temperature” is not one of them.


Angela says: My purple turned red; am considering spinning in place until am brunette and in satin tights myself.

Andrea: Totally thought about doing this, too!!! Solidarity cloaked in midnight blues!!!

Drawdown, by Paul Hawken

Interesting new book for solarpunk peeps and environmentalists which talks about carbon drawdown strategies (because 100% renewable energy, even if it could be achieved, would not pull out the stuff that’s already in the air)—Drawdown, by Paul Hawken. Haven’t read it yet, but here’s some of what came up in the Vox.com interview.

Top of the list for reducing emissions isn’t cars or planes or making things last—it’s disposing of refrigerators and air conditioners when they get too old. 90% of CFC and HCFC leakage happens when the coolant system is starting to conk out and die. No big loss to get rid of that machine, which was already breaking down. If we can convince people to do that instead of trying to stretch it out (maybe because of cost, maybe because of a laudable but in this case misplaced desire to conserve), and can dispose of it safely, that keeps 90-100 gigatons of CO2 equivalents out of the air between now and 2050.

A carbon capture strategy I hadn’t heard of before is Silvopasture, which is farming trees and grazing animals simultaneously. In other words, your pasture has trees on it (sylvan). This makes you more money if you want to sell the trees. It keeps your animals healthier (cows for instance like the shade) and your land healthier. And it sequesters carbon. If you’re writing optimistic SF, maybe include domesticated animal herds in managed forests. (There are other direct carbon capture mechanisms being explored, but the the only method that is currently reliable is photosynthesis.)

Finally, peace has a carbon dividend. Wars are terrible for the environment, and not just in a “they’re bombing the land to pieces” way. Sometimes cynical people think “well, at least this is decreasing population” and think they’re being analytical and brave to say something so horrible. But they’re wrong. Wars use a lot of energy. Wars destroy ecosystems. Wars grind through every resource you can think of, even to move the soldiers and fleeing people around. Peace is much better for preventing global warming.