Strange Week

I have to admit it’s been a strange week since our return to our Chihuahuan desert haunts after a couple weeks on the road.

First, the US Supreme Court rejected a major part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  The section dealt with Federal review of localities with prior segregationary tactics in voter registration should such locales seek to redistrict or in other substantive ways change their voter registration requirements.  I suppose the argument in favor of eliminating the review could be how far we’ve progressed in race relations since 1965 and that such a review is no longer necessary.  Considering the birther deluge and other attacks on the president, as well as the recent issues with the word choices of Paula Deen,  I wonder if the Court wasn’t being a little ahead of the curve in considering the US to be a post-racial society.

Then SCOTUS pleased the believers in equality with the striking of a key section of the Defense of Marriage Act and its punt back to the 9th District Court of the overturning of California’s Prop. 8 banning same sex marriage.  These decisions have been celebrated by many and condemned by many as well.  While the consensus seems to be that defining what constitutes a marriage is the dominion of the states, this is an issue that will be playing out for several more years.

Then there’s the story about Wendy Davis, Texas state senator, who filibustered the latest attempt to restrict abortion in her home state.  Texas governor Rick Perry immediately attacked Ms. Daviswho was an unwed mother who attended college and graduated from Harvard Law School, in a speech to the National Right to Life convention.  Mr Perry, famous for his inability to articulate his ideas in English during the 2012 presidential campaigns, then tried to spin his attack as “praising” the senator’s accomplishments.  I realize that supporters on either side can make a case for their viewpoint, but it does seem odd that Mr. Perry used a rather disparaging tone in front of the right-to-lifers then became so conciliatory a couple days later after the storm had broken.  And then there’s the special session of the legislature convening Monday July 1 to again attempt to pass the extremely restrictive abortion measure.  Sometimes actions speak louder than “spin.”  Or to quote Mr. Perry, “Oops.”

And the capper of the week:  Today I took my recycling to the drop station.  While driving home I watched a rather non-descript white van pull into the right turn lane next to me.  It paused but a moment, just long enough for me to read the legend printed on its side:” Southwest Paranormal Investigations.”  Here’s the link: . Use your own discretion.  

I’ll admit to being open minded about a lot of things we humans don’t understand, like dark matter; the inability of physics to reconcile relativity, gravity, and quantum mechanics; brane worlds; and multiple universes.  But the sheer weight of the events this past week have just got me dithering……….

Just Musing

“Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.” – Albert Einstein
This is one of my favorite quotes.  And to illustrate its veracity, I posit the ridiculous legal defense of the Defense of Marriage Act by the House of Representatives.  They spent in excess of $3 million which might have been used to mitigate some of the evil effects of the sequester this august body also imposed on “we, the people…”  I think I’m starting to sound like a broken record (remember them??) accusing Congress of malfeasance but I can’t help it when my representative certainly does not represent me and my beliefs but rather those of the ultra-Christian and ultra-conservative oil patch.

Speaking of the environment, my wife and I just completed a long road trip.  We left our beloved Las Cruces (and its triple digit temperatures—June is the hottest month here in the high desert) for the Puget Sound area to visit family and old friends.  We traveled through Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington state.  Such a journey in many vehicles would have left a large carbon footprint, let alone being a catastrophe for the wallet, gas averaging over $3.60 in most of the area.  However, about a year and a half ago, we made the decision to purchase a Toyota Prius.  I’m well aware that the sticker shows higher EPA rating for gas mileage in the city than on the highway.  We are extremely pleased with the car’s performance on this trip: 3,882.7 miles averaging 58MPH (this included some city driving as well as high altitude driving, over 10,500FT) and  getting 47.7MPG.  Crossing Snoqualmie Summit in WA, we hit some rain—first extended usage of the windshield wipers since we bought the car in Dec. 2011.  Not only did the cabin heat come on, but we were treated to the action of the wipers,  The passenger side unit is anchored in the middle of the windshield and has an odd eccentric motion as it sweeps away the precipitation. Now if only there were an affordable electric that would get about 500 miles to a charge……..
One negative about the trip was the plume from the Silver fire in New Mexico.  Rising to almost 30,000 feet, it is visible for hundreds of miles.  And today, apparently the winds have shifted and are carrying this smoke into our region.  The Organ Mountains are not visible and one can smell the smoke in the hazy air.

But the air was not hazy for the days we were in Tacoma.  Majestic Mount Rainier came out and as always was a thrilling sight, seemingly suspended in the sky.

And, of course, to desert rats like us, Puget Sound and Commencement Bay demanded our attention.  Why?  Just look at that expanse of water!!!

And, finally, one of the sublime geological formations that seem strewn about the Western U S.  This particular one is called Wright’s Arch in Southeastern Utah.

As much as we Americans may disagree about our ridiculously ineffective politics and policies and as much as we may embody the quotes of Albert Einstein referenced above, any of us who have traveled in this country, especially west of the Mississippi river, can not but appreciate its beauty.