On This Day, 50 years ago today

Fifty years ago I watched men from planet Earth first set foot on the moon.  I never dreamed that 3 1/2 years later I would watch the last (for my lifetime most likely).  The great disappointment of the Apollo program is that we didn’t go anywhere with it.

In any case, here’s a transcript of the communications of the Eagle’s terminal approach and landing:

Communicators in the text may be identified according to the following list.

CDR  Commander  Neil A. Armstrong
CMP  Command module pilot   Michael Collins
LMP  Lunar module pilot  Edwin E. ALdrin, Jr.
SC  Unidentifiable crewmember
MS  Multiple (simultaneous) speakers
LCC  Launch Control Center
Mission Control Center:
CC  Capsule Communicator (CAP COMM)
F  Flight Director

Remote Sites:
CT Communications Technician (COMM TECH)
Recovery Forces:
R  Recovery helicopter
AB  Air Boss

A series of three dots (…) is used to designate those portions of the communications that could not be transcribed because of garbling. One dash (-) is used to indicate a speaker’s pause or a self-interruption and subsequent completion of a thought. Two dashes (- -) are used to indicate an interruption by another speaker or a point at which a recording was terminated abruptly.

04 06 28 51 CC
Eagle, Houston. We read you now. You’re GO for PDI. Over.

04 06 28 57 LMP (EAGLE)
Roger. Understand. AELD control circuit breakers. DECA GIMBAL AC – closed?

04 06 29 07 CDR (EAGLE)

(GOSS NET 1) Tape 66/4 Page 309

04 06 29 08 LMP (EAGLE)

04 06 29 23 CC
Eagle, Houston. Your alignment is GO on the AGS. On my Mark, 3 30 until ignition.

04 06 29 29 LMP (EAGLE)

04 06 29 33 CC

04 06 29 34 CC
3 30 until ignition.

04 06 29 38 LMP (EAGLE)
Roger. Copy. Thrust translation – four jets – Balance couple – ON. TTCA throttle – MINIMUM. Throttle – AUTO CDR. Prop button – RESET. Prop button. Okay. ABORT/ABORT STAGE – RESET. ATT CONTROL – three of them to MODE CONTROL. 0kay, MODE CONTROL is set. AGS is reading 400 plus 1. Standing by for …

04 06 30 45 LMP (EAGLE)
Hit VERB 77?

04 06 31 04 LMP (EAGLE)
Okay. Sequence camera coming on.

04 06 31 32 CC
Eagle, Houston. If you’d like to try high gain, pitch 212, yaw 37. Over.

04 06 31 45 LMP (EAGLE)
Roger. I think I’ve got you on high gain now.

04 06 31 49 CC

04 06 32 03 LMP (EAGLE)
Say again the angles, though.

04 06 32 05 CC

04 06 32 06 LMP (EAGLE)
I’ll set them in to use them before we yaw around.

04 06 32 08 CC
Roger. Pitch 212, yaw plus 37.

04 06 32 24 LMP (EAGLE)
OMNI’s in.

04 06 33 09 LMP (EAGLE)
… 10 … 10 percent …

(GOSS NET 1) Tape 66/5 Page 310

04 06 33 41 CC
Columbia, Houston. We’ve lost them. Tell them to go aft OMNI. Over.

04 06 33 51 CMP (COLUMBIA)
They’ve lost you. Use the OMNI’s again.

04 06 34 01 LMP (EAGLE)

04 06 34 05 CMP (COLUMBIA)
Say again, Neil?

04 06 34 07 LMP (EAGLE)
I’ll leave it in SLEW. Relay to us. See if they have got me now. I’ve got good signal strength in SLEW.

04 06 34 13 CMP (COLUMBIA)
Okay. You should have him now, Houston.

04 06 34 16 CC
Eagle, we’ve got you now. It’s looking good. Over.

04 06 34 23 CC
Eagle – –

04 06 34 24 LMP (EAGLE)
– – descent looks good.

04 06 34 25 CC
Eagle, Houston. Everything is looking good here. Over.

04 06 34 29 LMP (EAGLE)
Roger. Copy.

04 06 34 34 CC
Eagle, Houston. After yaw around, angles: S band pitch, minus 9, yaw plus 18.

04 06 34 46 LMP (EAGLE)

04 06 34 59 LMP (EAGLE)
AGS and PNGS agree very closely.

04 06 35 01 CC

04 06 35 14 LMP (EAGLE)
Beta ARM. Altitudes are a little high.

04 06 35 45 LMP (EAGLE)
Houston. I’m getting a little fluctuation in the AC voltage now.

04 06 35 51 CC

04 06 35 52 LMP (EAGLE)
Could be our meter, maybe, huh?

(GOSS NET 1) Tape 66/6 Page 311

04 06 35 54 LMP (EAGLE)
Stand by, Looking good to us. You’re still looking good at 3, coming up 3 minutes.

04 06 36 13 LMP (EAGLE)
… real good …. about on.

04 06 36 18 CDR (EAGLE)
Our. position checks downrange show us to be a little long.

04 06 36 21 CC
Roger. Copy.

04 06 36 24 LMP (EAGLE)
AGS has gone about 2 feet per second greater …

04 06 36 36 CDR (EAGLE)
… ought to be … Stand by.,

04 06 36 43 LMP (EAGLE)
Altitude …

04 06 37 00 LMP (EAGLE)
… it’s going to stop.

04 06 37 18 CC
Eagle, Houston. You are GO to continue – –

04 06 37 19 LMP (EAGLE)
… closed … GO … at 4 minutes.

04 06 37 22 CC
Roger. You are GO – You are GO to continue powered descent. You are GO to continue powered des cent.

04 06 37 30 LMP (EAGLE)

04 06 37 35 CC
And, Eagle, Houston. We’ve got data dropout. You’re still looking good.

04 06 38 04 LMP (EAGLE)
… PGNS. We got good lock-on. Altitude lights OUT. DELTA-H is minus 2 900.

04 06 38 18 CC
Roger. We copy.

04 06 38 20 LMP (EAGLE)
Got the Earth right out our front window.

04 06 38 23 CDR (EAGLE)
Houston, you’re looking at our DELTA-H?

04 06 38 25 CC
That’s affirmative.

04 06 38 26 CDR (EAGLE)

(GOSS NET 1) Tape 66/7 Page 312

04 06 38 28 CC
It’s looking good to us. Over.

04 06 38 30 CDR (EAGLE)
It’s a 1202.

04 06 38 32 LMP (EAGLE)

04 06 38 48 CDR (EAGLE)
Give us a reading on the 1202 PROGRAM ALARM.

04 06 38 53 CC
Roger. We got – We’re GO on that alarm

04 06 38 59 CDR (EAGLE)
Roger. P30.

04 06 39 01 CC
6 plus 25, throttle down – –

04 06 39 02 LMP (EAGLE)
Looks like about 820 –

04 06 39 03 CC
– – 6 plus 25, throttle down.

04 06 39 06 CDR (EAGLE)
Roger. Copy. 6 plus 25.

04 06 39 14 LMP (EAGLE)
Same alarm, and it appears to come up when we have a 1668 up.

04 06 39 17 CC
Roger. Copy.

04 06 39 23 CC
Eagle, Houston. We’ll monitor your DELTA-H.

04 06 39 24 LMP (EAGLE)
… worked out beautifully.

04 06 39 28 CC

04 06 39 29 LMP (EAGLE)
… looks good now.

04 06 39 30 CC
Roger. DELTA H is looking good to us.

04 06 39 34 LMP (EAGLE)
Ah! Throttle down – –

04 06 39 35 CDR (EAGLE)
Throttle down on time!

04 06 39 36 CC
Roger, We copy throttle down – –

(GOSS NET 1) Tape 66/8 Page 313

04 06 39 37 LMP (EAGLE)
– – … throttles down. Better than the simulator.

04 06 39 42 CC

04 06 39 48 LMP (EAGLE)
AGS and PGNS look real close.

04 06 40 08 CC
At 7 minutes, you’re looking great to us, Eagle.

04 06 40 13 LMP (EAGLE)
Okay. I’m still on SLEW so we may tend to lose as we gradually pitch over. Let me try AUTO again now and see what happens.

04 06 40 21 CC

04 06 40 23 LMP (EAGLE)
Okay. Looks like it’s holding.

04 06 40 24 CC
Roger. We got good data.

04 06 40 49 CC
Eagle, Houston. It’s descent 2 fuel to MONITOR. Over.

04 06 40 55 CDR (EAGLE)
Going to 2.

04 06 41 01 LMP (EAGLE)
Give us an estimated switchover time please, Houston.

04 06 41 05 CC
Roger. Stand by. You’re looking great at 8 minutes.

04 06 41 10 LMP (EAGLE)
At 7000 –

04 06 41 12 CC
Eagle, you’ve got 30 seconds to P64.

04 06 41 15 LMP (EAGLE)
… Roger.

04 06 41 27 CC
Eagle, Houston. Coming up 8 30; you’re looking great.

04 06 41 35 LMP (EAGLE)

04 06 41 37 CC
We copy.

04 06 41 51 CC
Eagle, you’re looking great. Coming up 9 minutes.

(GOSS NET 1) Tape 66/9 Page 314

04 06 42 05 CDR (EAGLE)
Manual attitude control is good.

04 06 42 08 CC
Roger. Copy.

04 06 42 10 CC
Eagle, Houston. You’re GO for landing. Over.

04 06 42 17 LMP (EAGLE)
Roger. Understand. GO for landing. 3000 feet. PROGRAM ALARM.

04 06 42 19 CC

04 06 42 22 LMP (EAGLE)

04 06 42 24 CDR (EAGLE)

04 06 42 25 CC
Roger. 1201 alarm. We’re GO. Same type. We’re GO.

04 06 42 31 LMP (EAGLE)
2000 feet. 2000 feet. Into the AGS, 47 degrees.

04 06 42 35 CC

04 06 42 36 LMP (EAGLE)
47 degrees.

04 06 42 41 CC
Eagle, looking great. You’re GO.

04 06 42 58 CC
Roger. 1202. We copy it.

04 06 43 01 LMP (EAGLE)
35 degrees. 35 degrees. 750. Coming down to 23.

04 06 43 07 LMP (EAGLE)
700 feet, 21 down, 33 degrees.

04 06 43 11 LMP (EAGLE)
600 feet, down at 19.

04 06 43 15 LMP (EAGLE)
540 feet, down at – 30. Down at 15.

04 06 43 26 LMP (EAGLE)
At 400 feet, down at 9.

04 06 43 29 LMP (EAGLE)
… forward.

(GOSS NET 1) Tape 66/10 Page 315

04 06 43 32 LMP (EAGLE)
350 feet, down at 4.

04 06 43 35 LMP (EAGLE)
30, … one-half down.

04 06 43 42 LMP (EAGLE)
We’re pegged on horizontal velocity.

04 06 43 46 LMP (EAGLE)
300 feet, down 3 1/2, 47 forward.

04 06 43 51 LMP (EAGLE)
… up.

04 06 43 52 LMP (EAGLE)
On 1 a minute, 1 1/2 down.

04 06 43 57 CDR (EAGLE)

04 06 44 04 LMP (EAGLE)
Watch your shadow out there.

04 06 44 07 LMP (EAGLE)
50, down at 2 1/2, 19 forward.

04 06 44 13 LMP (EAGLE)
Altitude-velocity light.

04 06 44 16 LMP (EAGLE)
3 1/2 down, 220 feet, 13 forward.

04 06 44 23 LMP (EAGLE)
11 forward. Coming down nicely.

04 06 44 24 LMP (EAGLE)
200 feet, 4 1/2 down.

04 06 44 26 LMP (EAGLE)
5 1/2 down.

04 06 44 31 LMP (EAGLE)
160, 6 – 6 1/2 down.

04 06 44 33 LMP (EAGLE)
5 1/2 down, 9 forward. That’s good.

04 06 44 40 LMP (EAGLE)
120 feet.

(GOSS NET 1) Tape 66/11 Page 316

04 06 44 45 LMP (EAGLE)
100 feet, 3 1/2 down, 9 forward. Five percent.

04 06 44 51 LMP (EAGLE)

04 06 44 54 LMP (EAGLE)
Okay. 75 feet. There’s looking good. Down a half, 6 forward.

04 06 45 02 CC
60 seconds.

04 06 45 04 LMP (EAGLE)
Lights on. …

04 06 45 08 LMP (EAGLE)
Down 2 1/2. Forward. Forward. Good.

04 06 45 17 LMP (EAGLE)
40 feet, down 2 1/2. Kicking up some dust.

04 06 45 21 LMP (EAGLE)
30 feet, 2 1/2 down. Faint shadow.

04 06 45 25 LMP (EAGLE)
4 forward. 4 forward. Drifting to the right a little. Okay. Down a half.

04 06 45 31 CC
30 seconds.

04 06 45 32 CDR (EAGLE)
Forward drift?

04 06 45 33 LMP (EAGLE)

04 06 45 34 LMP (EAGLE)

04 06 45 40 LMP (EAGLE)

04 06 45 43 LMP (EAGLE)

04 06 45 45 LMP (EAGLE)
ACA – out of DETENT.

04 06 45 46 CDR (EAGLE)
Out of DETENT.

04 06 45 47 LMP (EAGLE)

(GOSS NET 1) Tape 66/12 Page 317

04 06 45 52 LMP (EAGLE)
413 is in.

04 06 45 57 CC
We copy you down, Eagle.

04 06 45 59 CDR (TRANQ)
Houston, Tranquility Base here.

04 06 46 04 CDR (TRANQ)

04 06 46 06 CC
Roger, Tranquility. We copy you on the ground. You got a bunch of guys about to turn blue. We’re breathing again. Thanks a lot.

JULY 1969 AD


The New Philosopher Kings

A double dozen centuries ago (about 380 BC) Plato wrote a treatise called “The Republic.” The system of government described bore essentially none of the characteristics that would come to define what anyone else ever called a Republic.  The Roman Republic bore far more resemblance to what the Founding Fathers of the US called a Republic than anything Plato wrote about.

Plato’s Republic was a sort of totalitarian “meritocracy.” The people who were best at farming were assigned to be farmers.  Those best at war were assigned to the army.  And so on.  And at the top of it all, the Philosopher Kings, who decided who would be farmers (because, of course, the Philosopher Kings–the central planners of the Republic–knew who would be best at farming).  They decided who would be soldiers (because the central planners knew best).  They decided who would do every task.  And all would work not for their own benefit but for the greater good of the whole.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because it is.  Marxism (as it’s come to be known, which Thomas Sowell notes is somewhat different from what Marx actually wrote) or “Socialism” in the modern day.  A centrally planned economy (and “economy” ends up functionally meaning “everything you do”) organized not for individual benefit and certainly not for the “greed” of those engaged in business but for the “greater good” of society.

This social vision is portrayed as “progressive”.  It’s supposed to be new and forward thinking.  And yet, it’s simply the writings of a 19th century philosopher that have failed every time anyone has actually attempted (or claimed to attempt) to put them into practice.  Lenin’s “reinterpretation” a century ago was the only “advancement” of those particular ideas that have happened since (not counting the endless ways of repackaging the same ideas, wrapped in new rhetoric, to disguise the long series of failures) and that a century ago.

“Progressive” has somehow come to mean the regurgitation of a century or more old set of ideas that have failed every time anyone has tried to sell them to the masses.

Every.  Single.  Time.

But it’s actually worse than that.  Marxism, as reinterpreted by Lenin, is nothing more than the concept of the Philosopher Kings wrapped in new rhetoric.  It’s the divine right of kings with proper socialist thought replacing bloodlines.  The inbreeding is intellectual rather than genetic, but just as deadly as any hemophiliac princes.  More, since while a hemophiliac prince might be in danger of bleeding to death, the inbred ideas of the “progressive elite” risk bleeding the whole society to death.

A double dozen centuries of tyranny and oppression for the people at large, for economic failure that spreads misery and poverty.

This is “progressive.”

More bad apples

Yes, I have talked about this recently but this one just disturbed me to no end.


“One bad apple spoils the whole bunch.” If said bad apple is not immediately removed, the rot spreads.

That this psychopath could be acquitted in large part because the judge suppressed the body cam footage, suppressed introduction of his public statements where he looks forward to killing people, and suppressed introduction of his personalized weapon with “you’re fucked” on it demonstrates that the rot has already spread quite wide indeed. It’s not just the cops but judges and prosecutors who are complicit.

Add in that the whole purpose of the “simon says” they were forcing a man who had done nothing illegal to follow was to keep the suspect disoriented and confused (and thus prone to make mistakes) and then the police use a single mistake as a justification for killing him.  This demonstrates that the purpose of that procedure is, indeed, simply to give them an excuse to kill someone.  If you want someone to follow orders and comply, you give orders that are clear and easy to understand and follow.  If you want them to make mistakes, then you give confusing and contradictory orders.  And if the entirely predictable result of those orders is that they make a mistake in following them, and said mistake is justification for shooting them, well, that looks a lot like premeditation from over here.

Again, the rot has spread far and wide throughout the system.

And to cap it all off, he gets a pension for having PTSD from murdering a man? AYFSM?

It’s not “a few bad apples” (or not anymore). It’s a systemic problem.


One of my stepfathers (the only one my late mother “counted” for reasons that don’t concern us here–and I’m not sure how much I believe of those reasons for other reasons that don’t concern us here) was a ham radio operator. As such, particularly in that day and age, he built a lot of his own equipment, some from scratch, others from sources like Heathkit (who apparently still exist although a pale shadow of their former selves). And he would often cannibalize old equipment for parts for new stuff.

One day–I was about, mm, seven maybe–to “keep me busy” he brought me up to his “radio room” and gave me a chassis covered with stuff. He gave instructions on disassembly,c lipping soldered leads and so forth and including sorting the various components. This was supposed to keep me occupied all afternoon.

Apparently, according to my mother recounting the story years later, shortly thereafter he stuck his head out of the ceiling trapdoor (his radio room was in the attic) and said “He’s done. What do I do now?”

Now, this sounds like a cute little family story, and by itself I suppose it was. Unfortunately being reminded of the story based on another story on the Book of Faces (“Small Person” “helping” “Mom Person” with something of a technical nature) also brought with it other memories.

One of those memories, actually a whole sheaf of them, painted another picture.  The flip side given in those memories was that my stepfather was an abusive bastard who, in various ways, abused my mother, abused my sister, and abused me. Alcoholic who was a mean drunk. I can tell stories of lying awake at night hearing him come home and start screaming at my mother. I hear something shatter. When I get up in the morning I find a ceramic lamp broken with blood on it. Yep. He’d smashed it over my mother’s head.

It took a long time for my mother to finally get out of that relationship. There was at least one abortive departure where she left, went back home to Virginia with me and my sister, and we lived there for several month before she ended up going back to him. (Dammit). I think the current term. Unfortunately she had her own issues that led to “codependency” (I’m pretty sure that’s the term.)

He is large part of the reason that I have struggled with insecurity and other issues my entire life.  Oh, I would always have had problems–some things are just part of ones makeup–but had I had a good father figure, roll model, someone to explain things that were going on with me (like that I was just hitting physical development milestones a little bit later than my peers, and given time I would catch up) could have made a lot of difference in coping with the issues I had.

An online search tells me that he died in 2008 at the age of 68 (another obituary says 66, but the one claiming 68 also gives a birth date that matches). And, no, I feel no need to avoid “speaking ill of the dead.”

May his shade freeze in the coldest corners of nifelhel.

“Why don’t You Just Move?”; A Blast from the past.

I keep hearing from people telling me “if you don’t like it, why don’t you just move?”

There’s just one problem with that.  For those of us who prefer limited government on Constitutional principles (as written according to the understanding of those who wrote it, and as properly amended not just redefined away), where could we go?  Short of building new colonies on Earth=like planets around other stars there is no place to go.

As Ronald Reagan put it in a 1964 speech:

The enemy he was referring to then, of course, was the Soviet Union.  That enemy collapsed 27 years after Reagan gave that speech.  Now it’s a new enemy or enemies, the rise of militant Islam is one threat.  The apologists who object to treating it like an enemy, much like those who did the same regarding the old Soviet Union, serve to heighten and extend that threat.

But in many ways we face a more insidious threat.  Many of the ideas the Soviet Union tried to spread to the US in its effort to achieve suzerainty still live on in the US.  They are propagated in the entertainment media, spread in schools and universities, often by people who are not even aware that they are Marxist/Leninist ideas.  Ideas like class warfare, the idea that someone who is financially successful is the enemy.  Ideas like zero sum economics so that the only way someone can have more is by depriving someone else.  The idea that those who seek wealth are “greedy” and unworthy, but those who seek power (so long as they are opposed to those who seek wealth) are somehow virtuous and good.

Got news for you, to paraphrase an ancient proverb:  Wealth might not always get you power, but power can always get you wealth.

And the folk fomenting that, those who want to turn the US into a carbon copy of Europe, say “if you don’t like it, go somewhere else.”

We did go somewhere else.  We came here.  Unless somebody develops true space travel there’s no place left to go.  In Reagan’s words, this is the last stand on Earth.

This, of course, is the point where someone suggests “If you hate government so much, then move to Somalia.”

Look.  A failed state broken into warring factions ruled by local warlords who are essentially absolute despots (until violently deposed) in their local authority is a far cry from a Constitutional government of limited powers with the rights of the people (actual rights not “whatever I want I have a right to and someone else has to pay for it” type “rights”) held sacrosanct.  Indeed, it’s a lot farther from that than the US is today.

Now, perhaps Somalia could be used as a starting point to make such a society, but the local warlords will not give up their petty fiefdoms willingly.  So such a transformation would not be bloodless.  And, not being bloodless, the international community would, with near certainty, take it upon itself to intervene and prevent the transformation.

So no, “going to Somalia” is not an option for those who actually desire a free society.

The same “there’s no place to go” can not be said for those who want European style socialism/social welfare.  Europe, after all, is right there.  It’s exactly what they say they want.  No transformation necessary.  If you’d be more happy in that system it’s there.  You can go there.  I would not deny you.

But you would rather stay here and deny me the kind of government that would make me happy.  Not just me, but a lot of other people like me.

It’s not that you want to live under the social, political, and economic system that pleases you that bothers me.  It’s that you want to force me to live under that system.  I can wave my arm indicating all the choices you have for your desired system.  You, and others like you, have worked hard through long years and decades to make sure there is no other choice for folk like me.

And that is why I will never stop fighting to leave at least one place in the world where Constitutional principles and individual liberty are given more than lip service.

“The Law’s Intent.”

Thomas Sowell, in his various writings, is big on looking at things in terms of the Incentives and Constraints they create rather than their stated hoped for consequences.  This gives you a far better insight into what the actual results are likely to be.

Now, even before I’d ever heard of Thomas Sowell (or Milton Friedman, to name another of my favorite economists) I was wont to say, when someone was talking about what a new law would do, “Don’t tell me the intent.  Tell me what it actually says.  It’s what it says that will be enforced, not whatever its intent might be.”

Case in point, a law in Indiana provided certain exceptions to the gun-free school zone law (state level law which paralleled the Federal law, which itself has certain exceptions).  One of those exceptions was when operating a motor vehicle while delivering children to school or picking them up.  The intent of this law was clearly to allow parents taking their children to school or picking them up afterward to be able to do so even when armed.  However, that wording “operating a motor vehicle” produced an unintended consequence.  If the parent stepped out of the car to help a child with a car seat, or to get supplies out of the trunk, or for any reason whatsoever, they would no longer be “operating” the motor vehicle and would be in violation.  Similarly, if a parent who is normally armed is called to the school to pick up a sick child said parent would either have to park off school property (leaving their weapon in the car) or disarm before coming on school property causing a delay in being able to get their child.  Failure to do any of that was a Class D Felony. (And “Felony” means no more guns ever.)  In at least one case the court noted that the law was clearly intended to cover such circumstances but they had to rule not on what lawmakers intended but on what the law actually said.

And, to be honest, as much as I dislike the results, I have to agree with the court.  The court’s job is to follow the law and the Constitution (ruling the restriction unconstitutional in the first place would, perhaps, have been better but that wasn’t going to happen), and dealing with the actual law on the books is better in general–even if I don’t like the specific application–than usurping lawmaking power to the judicial.

Fortunately, in 2014 the issue was at least partially resolved by a law that allowed individuals to keep their guns in parked cars provided the car is locked and they are out of sight. (Signed by then Governor Mike Pence to the bleating of the anti-gun folk who predicted school shootings as a result–which, of course, have never materialized.  Their dire prediction never do.)

So it’s what the law says, not the supposed intent, that one has to look at.  But there’s a caveat:  words have meanings, and the relevant meaning is that understood by the people who wrote the law.  You do not get to come along and say that “The meaning has changed” and apply new meaning to old law,” particularly the most fundamental of laws in the US:  The United States Constitution.

And to this end, helping to understand what the words of the Constitution and other laws long on the books actually mean, looking into the intent is helpful.  Intent, in this case doesn’t supersede or replace the wording of the law.  The law says what the law says.  But looking at what people have written about the intent can help one to understand what the words meant to the people who wrote it, particularly when language has changed.

The law, and the Constitution, says what it says.  No, it is not a “living document” (“I am altering the deal…”) except in that it allows for alteration through the amendment process (want to change it?  Get 2/3 of the House and 2/3 of the Senate, or a Convention called by 2/3 of the State Legislatures to propose an Amendment and then get 3/4 of the State Legislatures to ratify said Amendment).

What do the words say?  What do the words mean?  What did they mean to the people who wrote them?

These are what determine what the law is, no more, and no less.

Another Snippet

I’ve got two shorter projects running in parallel with my main novel project.  This one is the opening of a sequel to Oruk Means Hard Work:

Elara, queen presumptive of the Elven kingdom of Greenwood clapped her hands over her ears.

“Can you not hear that?”

“Your…highness?” The regent Oridan stared at her in confusion.

“Oh.” Elara turned and stalked down the hallway in the direction of the pained shrieks that only she could hear.  The regent and others of her putative court, her keepers she thought a more honest term, followed in her wake.

The sound led her out of the keep, across the bailey to a small forge.  She burst through the door and stabbed a finger in the direction of the smith.

“What do you think you are doing?”

The smith paused, hammer upraised.  He looked down at the glowing metal in his tongs.


Elara stepped forward, shoving her face in the smith’s.

“You are torturing that steel.”

The smith stepped back, trying to put some distance between him and Elara but Elara followed, her face a mere hand away from his.  The smith dropped the steel on the anvil, but kept the tongs in his hand.

“Highness?  It’s steel. This is how you make…”

“Make what?” Elara jabbed a finger into the smith’s chest. “A blade of some sort?”

“A poignard, yes.”

“Highness?” Oridan spoke from the doorway to the smithy.

“A poignard,” Elara said to the smith, ignoring Oridan. “Did you ever think that the steel doesn’t want to be a poignard?”

Confusion twisted the smith’s face. “The steel…want?”

“Highness?” Oridan said again.

Elara drew in a deep breath, continuing to ignore Oridan. “Yes.  The steel wants.”

“Give me that.” Elara grasped the tongs, near the smith’s hand. She tugged, but the smith retained his grip.

The smith looked over Elara’s shoulder. “Regent?”

“Highness,” Oridan said. “This is not appropriate…”

“I am supposed to be the queen, am I not?”

“When you come of age,” Oridan said, “in seventeen years.”

“So I am a prisoner until then?”

“No, you are the queen presumptive.  My job is to guide…”

Elara glanced at the steel on the anvil.  She forced her voice to calmness.

“Oridan, Regent, I have sat in the councils as you have asked.  I have spoken the words you gave me to say. Give me this. Just this.”

“Highness, this is not appropriate for a queen.”

“I need work to do,” Elara said. “Honest work of my hands.  All you give me are pretty words that mean nothing, spoken to people who speak equally meaningless words back.”

“Diplomacy is…”

“Talk and talk and talk and talk and no end of talk.  And in the end nothing changes. Give me this. Please.  Lest I go mad.”

Oridan hesitated, then looked over his shoulder at the older elf behind him. “Witharin?  You were there when she was recovered.”

Witharin, the court magician regarded Elara for a moment.  Elara strove to appear as earnest as possible. Sometimes she thought Witharin could see more in her than she wished.  She bit her tongue to avoid saying anything that might induce him to deny her plea.

After a moment, Witharin nodded. “I think it would be best to let her have her way in this.  She will be more…tractable I think with a task of her own choosing to occupy her energies.”

“But…working a forge?  Fire and hot steel? She will be burned, scarred.”

Witharin shrugged. “She is already scarred from her treatment at orc hands.”

“But fresh scars?” Oridan’s wave took in Elara’s full height. “Now of all times?”

Elara could remain silent no longer. “What do you mean ‘now of all times’?”

Oridan considered her for a moment. “You are the last survivor of the royal family.  You need to secure the bloodline. It is time to choose a prince consort.”

Elara’s jaw fell open.  Marry? An elf?

Her hatred for all elfen-kind welled up within her and fiercely she bit it back down.  Still she needed to bide her time.


Oridan nodded. “While a love match is preferable, a match you must make, for the sake of all of us.”

Elara met Oridan’s eyes for a moment then, slowly, nodded.  Inwardly, she shrugged. There would be no love match for her, not with an elf, not with anyone.

She scarcely remembered her childhood as an elf princess.  Instead, she remembered the family that had raised her, that had taught her to work, that had loved her.  And she remembered her true love match, the young man known as Buck Tooth, her husband. She remembered the people she had known and loved before the elves came and killed them all.

Just as she would kill the elves.

When the time was right.

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Life among the orcs is hard.  So difficult and ubiquitous is brutal labor among them that “Veth oruk”/”Work is” is their most common greeting.  When Elara, princess of the elves is captured and enslaved by them that is the life she must learn to live, a life of hard, unremitting labor with no hope of rescue.

Work is.