03 March 2006

More on the Constitution

Here are a couple of interesting items. I had actually some information that these existed, so I am not surprised, but these are the first two Amendments to the Constitution that were proposed by Congress to the States. They were the first of twelve Amendments. After they were removed, not ratified, the Bill of Rights only included the Ten Amendments with which we are familiar. (Or are we? Who knows them from memory? I don't, but I know where to look them up.) Perhaps they were felt to be redundant, but I wonder if we should have kept the second one, at least.

Amendments Agreed to After Conference and Proposed by Congress to the States September 25, 1789

Article the first: After the first enumeration required by the first Article of the Constitution, there shall be one Representative for every thirty thousand, until the number shall amount to one hundred, after which, the proportion shall be so regulated by Congress, that there shall be not less than one hundred Representatives, nor less than one Representative for every forty thousand persons, until the number of Representatives shall amount to two hundred, after which the proportion shall be so regulated by Congress, that there shall not be less than two hundred Representatives, nor more than one Representative for every fifty thousand persons.

Article the second: No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.

Here is the source website for the above.


02 March 2006

How much do you know?

I heard on a radio talk show yesterday that most Americans know more about The Simpsons than they do about the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. At first, I scoffed, saying to myself, “Surely, everyone knows the First Amendment!”

Then, I said, “Who are you calling Shirley? And I don’t know the First Amendment, either. I know that there are five members of the Simpson family, (Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie) and I can name at least five other characters on the show (Moe, Barney, Smithers, Mr. Burns, and Ned Flanders). I find this distressing, to say the least. I don’t even watch that much television. If you don’t believe that, ask my wife.

So, I looked up the Bill of Rights. In case you don’t know what that is, it is a list of Ten Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, specifically the first ten Amendments. I discovered that there are actually five different rights guaranteed in the First Amendment. This was a surprise to me, since I had always assumed that the first amendment was just the Freedom of Speech and Press Amendment. Actually, it is both more and less complicated than that. Here it is, for your perusal:

Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

According to this, citizens of the U.S. are guaranteed the following:
1. Freedom to establish or join a religion of their own choice, without interference or coercion from the Government
2. Freedom of Speech, namely the freedom to speak out in criticism of the government without fear of reprisal.
3. Freedom of the Press, meaning that I can write anything I want here, and no one from the Government can censor me.
4. Freedom to Peaceable Assembly, specifically to protest. The key word here is “peaceable.” No right is guaranteed for assembling to protest, if your idea of protesting is hurling rocks and Molotov cocktails. In my not-so-humble opinion, hurling words can also be non-peaceable.
5. Freedom to Petition for Redress. I had to do further research on this one. I wasn’t sure what “redress” meant. But it boils down to this: if you have been wronged or injured, especially by the government, you have the right to ask for it to be made right, or at least to be compensated for it. Note that the right to Petition has been guaranteed, not the right to receive.

Now, I might not be a world-renowned Constitutional Scholar, but it only took me about 15 minutes to get this. I might also be wrong in my interpretation, but I don’t think so. I urge all of you to take a look at your life. What TV show do you know more about than the Constitution? How long would it take to learn more?

28 February 2006

Test Firing

27 February 2006

Monday, Monday

I started jogging again today. I actually run somewhat regularly, but have not for a while, since where I live it has been rather cold out. The weather today was glorious, if windy. i started out the run with two colleagues from work, but they quickly left me behind. I may run slow, but I never quit.

The wind was at my back when we started. The trail runs along the river, and there are always ducks in the river. I like to run there. It is rather pleasant, as pleasant as it can be with my lungs wanting to climb out of my chest. The ducks quietly quacked as I ran by, maintaining their position in the river. This was the easy part.

The hard part came when I turned around. Facing the wind is not only a physical barrier with me, but it is also a psychological one. My legs were leaden; the wind made my eyes water and tears streamed down my cheeks. "Really," I told my buddies, "I'm not crying." But I pushed on. And on. And on.

I have learned not to hate running, but not by much. I do it to stay fit, and because the Army says I have to. Personally, I think learning to run breeds cowardice. The British conquered most of the known world in their heyday without a recognizable Physical Training regimen. Of course they also walked everywhere they went, and stood in lines to let the enemy shoot at them. Cowardice to them was flinching when a musket ball came too close. Whatever. I guess the trade-off is worth it, right? I keep telling myself that.

I also told myself that I will try for the Freedom Festival 10K again this year. I have done it a couple of times in the past, and always cherished the tee-shirt I got. I had to: it was all I got, except aches and pains. I never even came close to placing high enough to get any medals or recognition. But I might one day actually enjoy running if I keep it up. Right?



26 February 2006


If sesame seeds don't have any arms or legs, how do they cling to the bun?