It has begun. A sunny Saturday reaching up towards maybe 7F today. I took down the cold frame that sat out back all winter and found one lone red lettuce plant growing along with a fair number of carrots. Leeks survived, hilled, out back and out front. Parsnips are starting to poke up enough green to betray their hiding spots. Soups of ginger and parsnip are a-comin'. Peas have already been planted twice and some of the onion seedlings in the basement might actually survive. Rhubarb is a red ball pushing up through the leaves. But, best of all, that is the plot of garlic planted last fall showing itself.
Previous celebrations: 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012. The snow lays about in dirty lumps congesting into ice before it melts. Baseball is close now. SO close I can watch spring games on the iPhone. 450 onion seeds have sprouted in my basement. Under a grow lamp. One sole celeriac has sprouted, too. Hope lives in my edible basement grow op.
When did being panicked by storms become so common? Maybe its being raised on the North Atlantic but is every big blizzard really Snowmageddon? Nothing too panicky in the Buffalo forecast discussion this evening. Maybe we all pine for a snow day. A day when then banks are too big. The ice too slippery. And we have to stay in. March is in three weeks and all we all want is to stay in. Buds are on deck waiting for their turn. Seeds are charting the path up. But we all just want a reason to stay home.
Today's news speaks to some fairly basic constitutional ideas:
The Harper government said Monday it will not include Governor-General David Johnston in any future policy discussions with First Nations, further clouding its battle of wills with aboriginal leaders. A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said Monday Stephen Harper will meet with Assembly of First Nations’ National Chief Shawn Atleo “in the coming weeks,” and has no plans to abide aboriginal leaders’ demands for a summit Thursday. “[First Nations people] are very insistent on having the Governor-General there, but the Governor-General says this is a policy matter with the government and that [he] shouldn’t be there,” Andrew MacDougall said. “We agree with that.”
This is interesting stuff. What is a Prime Minister and what is a Governor-General? In his book Federalism and the Constitution of Canada, David E. Smith uses the proper name of one institution the Prime Minister leads: the Crown-in-Parliament. Even though the Glorious Revolution of 1688 changed a lot of the constitutional principles it did not great autonomous spheres of power so much as rearrange the existing ones. As a result, Smith can write:
Sovereignty in a constitutional monarchy rests in the Crown-in-Parliament (or, legislature), except where the subject is the reserve powers (dissolution of Parliament, for instance) that remain as a matter of prerogative in the hands of the Crown's representative.
So, unless the topic is one reserved to the G.-G., it is a matter of Parliamentary oversight. In section 91 of our Constitution of 1867, part of the division of powers discussion it states "the exclusive Legislative Authority of the Parliament of Canada extends to all Matters coming within the Classes of Subjects next hereinafter enumerated; that is to say," and then lists a number of topics. It is generally taken that the list serves to distinguish between the Federal level and the Provincial one but the assignment of the classes of subjects is to the Parliament of Canada. Item number 24 in the list is "Indians, and Lands reserved for the Indians." Later in the constitution it states under the heading "Treaty Obligations" that:
The Parliament and Government of Canada shall have all Powers necessary or proper for performing the Obligations of Canada or of any Province thereof, as Part of the British Empire, towards Foreign Countries, arising under Treaties between the Empire and such Foreign Countries.
Interestingly, as Smith points out in his book, this only means that the Feds have the power to conclude treaties not to implement them. Where the subject matter is not in the list of subject matters assigned to the Federal Parliament, it is up to the Provinces to implement. And, in any event, the power relates to foreign countries. What was the nature of the "in Empire" domestic treaty that the British and then Canada happily signed from East to West as European Canada asserted itself? Mr. Harper is asserting that whatever it is, it is something that section 91(24) assigns to Parliament and he is the head of Parliament. Clearly an argument available to be made. Because he, like the G.-G. represents the Crown in his own way, too.
I heard the news about Aaron Swartz like everyone else. And then I heard another way as way back when I started blogging I belonged to the Berkman Thursday discussion group through the Harvard Law School's Berkman Center for Internet and Society. I still get the digests via email when something is posted coming up on a decade after it was busy. This week I received this:
It is with great sadness that I share with you the news that one of tech's bright minds and a blog group participant, Aaron Swartz, has left us. Many people are sharing thoughts about this amazing fellow. I'll share a few links below. Some local memorials have already happened and more are yet to come. Since Aaron was on the MIT Mystery Hunt team sj and I and several other blog group folks are on, we are tentatively planning a gathering during the Hunt. If you're participating in the Hunt, keep an ear out for more info.
It was sad news. I knew the guy was young but when I look back I really had no idea that in my late 30s I was in a chat with folk then only a little more than a third of my age. It was interesting stuff and the discussion was hopeful. There was lots to dream about. I saved stories to my blog like this one from 2004 about how blogs might make money one day. I wrote hopeful things this even though for the life of me I have no idea now what I meant to be saying. I argued. And on Thursday evenings for a while I would fire up the computer, turn on the speakers and listen as the Berkman bloggers' group talked. There was a chat function - was it on IRC? - that allowed anyone to participate. So I have this dim recollection of chatting about blogging with a lot of people including Aaron. Maybe I just listened or watched his words pass on the screen.
At some point I got less interested in the theory. An argument point developed that somehow folk were able to appropriate the works of others. I didn't disagree with the point as I had no clue what the heck was meant. The idea generally faded but it took a number of years for the fine points to come to the surface. No one speaks of a "mash up" world any more like in 2004. But Aaron did, I think.
I won't connect dots and I don't expect you would either. As was pointed out, there was depression involved. At least one pal of mine died at his own hands due to depression. It's sad. Does not take a grand design or conspiracy or even anything that makes very much sense. But when I think of the keen interest I had a decade ago and the voices that I listened to in pursuit of that interest, his was in the forefront. And he was so young. As young as my kids now. Sad news.
I missed December. Blame the bastardly disorder that has had me and half the town since November. Never seen such a thing. Been sicker. Never so sick for so long. It don't go away. Remember 2011-12? That was good. Except, me, I had pneumonia.
Such is the life of blogging that there is little or know chance that a handful will live blog the election tomorrow night left alone hunt out a bunch of blogs and the predictions wannabe pundits with a variety of prefixes offer for passers by. I blame Facebook and Twitter. For a while there My Space was promising us that actual social media was an utter flop and that blogs would survive. But no. My prediction of nine and a half years ago that blogs were the era's CB radio has been fulfilled. So here we are. You the reader. Me the predictor. Sure is quiet.
Anyway, I love a good election. Took Wednesday off to enjoy the spectacle last into Tuesday night. I am relying on NCPR, ElectoralVote and Real Clear Politics and plan to watch WPBS on the TV. I am Blitzer-less for the first time since Gulf War I due to cutting out the cable channels. These are the races I think are worth watching here in Easlakia:
♦ President - I think the President gets a second term. The Sandy effect wins the day in both a close race for a vote and less close electoral college vote. I could be surprised but what has Mitt done lately really? Plus gas is down. And people are getting hired. Not enough but just enough. Romney gets Florida but Obama gets Ohio and Virginia.
♦ US Senate - 52 Dems and 48 GOP.
♦ US House - The Dems got over 200 seats but the GOP holds and in ditching many of their moderates assures that Gov. Christie starts a campaign to wipe out the Tea Party before 2016 when he wins the Presidency.
♦ NY - 21: I think the GOP get this seat. The ads have been outrageous and amazingly well funded.
♦ NY Senate: The boundary tweeking has done its job. GOP holds in a squeek. Don't see the GOP losing the 48th across the river.
♦ NY Assembly - redistricting has done some crazy things to norther NY. Is this the new map? Who knows. Pause for a moment and have a thought for St. Lawrence County. The inhumanity of it all.
How's that? Good for a start. Probably more late. Better check my aggregator to see what the other cool kids are saying, too.
Hurricane Sandy. Sounds too benign to be a real threat. It's only a category one at the moment. Nothing like when Juan bashed the family cottage nine years ago. Not like Gustav the year before that knocked down the big old birth at the farm house. But still a big water dump is a coming. Six cm or so by Thursday according to the handy dandy Sandy-app over at The New York Times. Not sure why it needs to take the sharp left turn into Philly. As always, the best information is at the Forecast Discussion at the NOAA. Got all the yard stuff stowed away yesterday. Rolled my ankle on a skittles log and slammed into the ground like only a fat man in his middle age can.
Update 2 pm Monday: Storm now tracking more easterly. Eye no longer thought to be passing over Lake Ontario and may shoot up to Quebec more directly.
I was over in the states yesterday and found an active economy. My favorite lunch spot, the Fairgrounds Inn where I have been going for at least six years now was hopping on a Friday lunch. I had the Italian Combo, thanks for asking. And I got my hair cut. The guy getting sheered next to me went on about the Biden debate. Unhappy but a bit shallow. Was there really cause to gripe? Businesses were expanding. On the way out of town, my rear passenger side wheel just about seized and we were lucky to come over the hill on #37 and see Frenchy's Auto Repair right there. An hour was all it took to get a part delivered and see us back heading to the border. We lapped up the warm late late summer air on a gorgeous rural vista out back of the repair ship. Everyone in the place was happy and busy and working. Some were having a beer. One of my favorite things about the slice of the USA I get to see is how it is both so similar to the Maritimes as a bit of a hard luck corner of the nation but also how frankly cheerful and confident folk are. The restaurant was at a dull roar of conversation the whole time we were there. It was hard to tell if the auto repair was a place of work or a fairly hearty social club given all the people coming and going while we were there.
What will America do on 6 November? My take is that Obama has not been passed, the Federal Senate will not budge and a number of member of the House will move to the left, not the right. There will not be a throw the bums out movement. I don't think Mitt Romney would be a catastrophe any more than four more years would. No wave of nuttin'. But the next four years one way or another will be about managing recovery. Whammo. Not sure the will be a WHAMMO!!! but there will be a Whammo.