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Is America heading for a civil war?

It wasn't enough that the Supreme Court, stacked by Trump with the appointment of three rather conservative judges, ruled that their guns were more important then your children.
No. They also decided that it was a good time to overturn Roe vs Wade. In other words, the right of a woman to be able to have an abortion.

Now, the thing about the Constitution is that it is not carved into stone, like Moses' tablets at Mount Sinai. The actual Constitution does not give people the right to carry lethal weapons. That was an amendment, something added later. Granted, the first ten amendments were added at once, the so-called Bill of Rights. However it seems to be that if the Constitution can be amended to reflect the needs of the day, could it not be amended again?

 

The gun thing

Furthermore, can it not be considered that the "American dream" has basically failed? The idea of carrying guns made sense when the West was being tamed, the whole "coyboys and indians" thing, and maybe through the heyday of the gangsters.
I can understand the need to carry a gun on you when you're in... Johannesburg, Baghdad, Kyiv... but do people really need to walk around with a gun popping down to the Kwik-E-Mart in suburban small town America. Cicadas, picket fences, neat lawns, plenty of patriotic flags, a yellow schoolbus, twee street lights that look like old gas lamps, a raised water tower next to a ball park, and that one diner that everybody goes to... pretty much any of the smaller towns in the states around the Great Lakes. I'm not joking either, go StreetView. You think Detriot, Michigan looks like a place that failed hard when the motor industry nosedived into the ground? Well, head west a bit to a place called Vermontville. Which contains all of the above tropes. Plus a tank... for some reason.

Go on, take a look at Vermontville. It looks like a sort of peaceful place where nothing ever really happens, at least, until the high school faculty get body-hijacked by aliens.
Now try to rationalise that with the fact that people can apply for a licence to carry a concealed gun. There are some exceptions (schools, day care, stadiums, churches, hospitals, courts...) but it is permitted for a parent picking up their child to either be carrying or have a gun hidden in the car.

What?

The problem is that gun advocates will talk a lot about safety. "Guns make me feel safe". They point out that the bad guys have guns, so the good guys should as well.
Uh-hu. Russia has nukes, so does America.
The problem is, when these weapons come into use, it cannot end well. You see, the so-called bad guys will not be aiming for your leg or arm or something, they will have to assume that there's a good chance you might have a concealed weapon so they'll need to drop you before you have a chance to drop them.
The winner? Neither of you. The only winners are the local undertakers.

Much of the rest of the civilised world gets by without people walking around with guns. That's not to say people don't have access to guns, hunters are a menace on every continent. But normal people, people like me? No guns. And I don't need a gun to delude myself into thinking that I am somehow safe.

Sure, yes, there could be a terrorist incident. Sadly, it happens. Also sadly, the most spectacular act of terrorism ever carried out happened in the middle of New York, with a death toll of several thousand people. Guns... weren't even thought about because 9/11 was pretty much an Outside Context problem for everybody.

If anything, I'd feel less safe knowing that people are walking around waiting for their Judge Dredd moment.

You know, I'd like to visit America one day. My mom is from Maryland (what was once a twee small town, but I think the big city has grown until it's more like an extended suburb). One of my earliest memories is walking along a railway track with an old guy. No, nothing creepy. He had a heart condition so had to go for long walks, and I was an abnoxious toddler who actually liked going for long walks. It looks like the railway is still there, running alongside the Patapsco River.
But it freaks me out to think that people could be walking around carrying guns. How hard does your country and policing fail in order that people think such a thing is necessary?

 

The baby thing

I have previously talked about abortions and noted that quite a number of states that are pro-life have executed the death penalty in the past decade, laying bare the hypocrisy.
Well, having decided to reject the right of a woman to choose they have pretty much turned the United States into one of those shithole countries that the former president talked about in such a disparaging way. Even Catholic countries such as Spain, France, and Ireland accept abortions (with varying rules, usually on how soon it must be performed to avoid complications).
However, this isn't really about life or babies. That's just a smokescreen. It's a male oriented religious belief aimed at controlling women. You know, just like the Taliban.

And yes, I get that people may have deeply held convictions on the matter. That absolutely does not give them the right to force others to march to their step.
I mean, how dare they kick up a fuss and demand their continued access to guns, while at the same time telling women that they cannot choose what is happening within their own bodies? I'll tell you what, let's make America a fairer place. Let's go ahead and do away with abortions and also do away with all the guns. Sound good to you? No? Why not?

 

One of the problems, and this isn't limited to America - I see it in British and French politics, is that there is no longer any sensible middle ground. In a world where it seems some believe that the Democrat Party is a bigger threat to the US than China or Russia, everything is increasingly and worryingly polarised.
This is the sort of thing that leads to conflict.
If you think that such an event is unlikely, just remember the 6th of January 2021 when a group of gullible Republican supporters tried to mount an insurrection against their own government to overturn the legitimate and demonstrable defeat of the Republican President having allegedly been egged on by said former President unwilling to accept that he is so odious that he did in fact lose. Even in Georgia.

Both of the acts of the Supreme Court play to the right, and given that the court effectively dropped two bombshells in one week, I can't help but think it might have been timed to intentionally distrupt the investigations into what actually happened regarding Trump and his Big Lie.
At any rate, it does rather appear that the court is leaning towards the party line rather than any pretence of upholding the law.

Now that the religious right have their tentacles into the judiciary, what will be the next assumed 'right' to fall? Contraception? Gay marriage? Interracial marriage? The ability to even identify as anything other than a good little Christian-with-a-capital-C?
Maybe they'll outlaw dancing to rock and roll and the film that we all thought was a bit dumb will suddenly become prescient forty years before it's time.

The real stories here, however, are the ones that will never be told. The millions of women, across many states of a vast country, who must now realise that sometimes pregnancies just happen and there's literally no choice any more. Whether rape, incest, a broken condom, or just a little too much alcohol, they will be the ones left to deal with the aftermath. The eighteen-odd years of aftermath. The dreams that vanish. The careers abandoned. The further education dropped. The financial mess of now catering for two with less work, fewer prospects, and little hope. The millions of women who have been told, mostly by men, that their own bodies and the choices they make, are no longer acceptable. Somebody else has made fundamental choices on their behalf, because these people know better...

The land of the free, indeed.

 

A trip to Big Town

I wasn't sure if I should go into Big Town. I had planned to, but...

I got up at 8am, made a small tea, read some websites, and dozed off until quarter to ten (oops!). I got up, got ready, and headed out.

My first port of call was Action. Nothing of interest, though I did pick up a new dashcam. It's the exact same as the one I currently have (so 1920×1080 dumped to µSD as an AVI containing MJPEG, running to around 150MiB/minute). The problem was that the itty-bitty (150mA?) LiPo battery inside mine was "très fatiguée" which meant that often when I turned the power off, the camera just died instead of running off battery for a few moments for a tidy shutdown.
This usually meant that the recording in progress was not finalised, so effectively lost. Not to mention messing up the file allocation table. The FAT could be fixed by a periodic reformat, but the trashing the current file (it works in chunks of three minutes) was a far greater issue if you consider the possibility of power loss due to impact, in other words, the very thing for which the camera exists.
Since it was basically the same thing, only with a slightly updated firmware, it was a simple replacement of the camera unit. I left the power cable and sucky-mount in place.
I got a reversing camera with this one, it plugs in the side, but since I have a reversing camera fitted to my car radio, I didn't bother to do anything with this one.

My next stop was DistriCenter that had nothing of interest.

Afterwards I went next door to Gémo and got myself a Stranger Things t-shirt for €6,49 (half price). I find it amusing that so many people are like "the eighties are so cool (except the hairstyles)". I know, I was there. ☺

Stranger Things T-shirt
Stranger Things T-shirt.
I don't normally buy branded goods, whether a popular TV show or a trademark tick. But given what season four offered earlier in the month... good grief.
Let's just say I wasn't really taken with the character of Max, she seemed like a moody stroppy plus one. But in this season she easily stole... the entire damn season. And her escape from the Big Bad was not only quite possibly the best part of the entire show to date, it's also possibly the best few minutes of television this year (really, the acting and editing deserve awards), it also had the side effect of pushing a Kate Bush song from 1985 into it's best chart position - the top 5 in the US, and #1 in the UK.
But please don't watch the epic moment on YouTube if you haven't seen it yet. It won't have as much impact if you don't have all of the build-up.

I then walked to the Citroën garage to ask about the Ami. Specifically, I have found out on-line that the Ami consumes 1.8kWh when charging, and it takes three hours to charge. Well, what isn't made clear is if this is 1.8kW × 3, which for a full charge would equal 5.4kWh. That's like an entire day's consumption in the winter, and closer to a week's consumption in the summer!
The other option is that the charging is 1.8kWh in total, or a drain of around 600W.
Unfortunately the person who "knows stuff" wasn't there. The guy who was tried to multiply the capacity of the battery (5.4kWh) by the supposed price of a unit (€0,13 but that's the raw cost) to tell me that a charge would cost me about €0,70 a day. What worries me is that 1.8 × 3 is indeed 5.4kWh... but that's 5.4kWh at 48V!

At any rate, the Ami is a weird little thing. It's a very obviously plastic box. In order to keep costs down it uses the same basic bodywork for the front and back panels. Additionally, the driver's side door opens from the front, backwards to how it normally opens. With a nod to the famous 2CV, the windows don't wind down, instead the lower third can unlatch and flap up. Also, the side mirrors are silly little round things. To adjust them, you reach out, grab, and adjust.
The driver's side seat can be adjusted. The passenger cannot. The seat itself is a piece of plastic (perhaps with metal inside to add strength) with a cushion to sit on, and a sort of cushion at the back. Incredibly basic.
There's no sound system, but a little space for a Bluetooth speaker. There's no 12V socket, only a single 5V USB for charging a phone. On the plus side, I guess, is a massive window in the roof. It doesn't open, but it makes a light interior.
To be honest, it's a peculiar mixture of weird and painfully cute. It is also dirt cheap. Running to something like €6,999 new. For an electric car. Add another €500 or so for a five year warranty. And a further €350 or so if you want some orange bits (stickers, mouldings, etc). This can also be purchased later.
So it's basically the same price new as my GTO was second hand.

They are wildly popular, having shifted over 20,000 of these since their introduction (in April 2020). They did a limited edition buggy (metal bars instead of doors), and some other stuff, and the entire lot sold out in something like seventeen minutes. As such, if I were to order one now, delivery date would be next year. I think Citroën might need to step up a little here! (they're made in Morocco!) In 2021 they registered just shy of six thousand vehicles, which represented about 22% of the entire French market of voitures sans permis.
Aixam make an electric version of their car. It's pretty much the same deal as the diesel Aixam, there's a City version (like mine), and a slightly longer one. They are proper mini cars with bonnet and boot and everything. They also start at €16,000-18,000 with no additional options. So as basic as the Ami may be (note the absence of a boot), one could buy three for the cost of one electric Aixam.

Citroen Ami
Citroën Ami
(© Ibex73, licenced CC BY-SA, from Wikipedia)
I am interested. Not to replace Caoimhe, but to augment. With a quoted range of 75km of autonomy (with a new battery and test conditions!) this isn't going to be a car to go any distance in. Just going to Châteaubriant and back would use most of the charge.
However... every week day I drive a little under 30km to get to work (there and back). Two days on a single charge? Should be possible. And, better, as of 2024 (I believe), companies will be required to provide charging points for EVs, so I could top up the battery while I'm at work (on their dime).
I actually think this would be a great little thing to use for going to work. It's a shortish daily route. The sort of thing a car like this would be good for.
Then I can leave Caoimhe for really cold days (like, how do you heat an electric car?) and for venturing out to further away places, should I need to.

 

It was chucking it down when I left, so I got rather soggy. Dried off walking around Leclerc. The usual stuff there, but they had a new delivery of baked beans, so I picked up five cans (at €1,29 each, a horrific price but that's to be expected for import goods, I can't imagine Brexit has made things easier).
Speaking of Brexit, I picked up a book on sale. Called "Sky, your Brexit!", it is a play on the title of a famous book ("Ciel! Mon mari!") and it contains numerous Brexit-related phrases. Following that, a pre-Brexit (correct) translation of the phrase into English, and afterwards in bold, the Brexit-imposed revised translation (incorrect, painfully literal). It's rather fascinating the difference in expressions, but I can certainly see why the Frenchies have no idea what I'm on about when I literally translate English expressions. For example, "you'll come up empty handed" is "vous allez faire chou blanc" (not "...faire du chou..."?) which literally means "you're going to make white cabbage"!
I fully agree with the concept of this book. The only reaction that still works for Brexit is endless sarcasm and mockery.

Some Brexit phrases
Some Brexit phrases.

As you can imagine, I was absolutely not going near a burger place. Now, my regular spend at the burger place was about €20. Or two chèques vacances.
So I went into the new Picard instead. Let's be honest, the only thing stopping me dropping a hundred or so is that I don't actually have a freezer, so everything I get goes into the freezer section of the fridge to be eaten over the weekend. So what can I get for the same price as two burgers and some onion rings?

Picard purchases
Picard purchases.
It actually came to about €24. I don't have the receipt to hand, but I was actually expecting it to be a tenner more so was quite surprised.
I had the pulled pork bun and the cheesy potatoes when I got home. Tonight I'm thinking the two gratins (lower right) with the veggie bowl. And Asian tomorrow. A nice selection of different styles, and better food, for a similar price. So... would I be upset at dropping takeway burgers? Perhaps if Picard hadn't opened its doors opposite. But with a Picard there... come on, look at the picture. Two greasy burgers or all of that?

I think I ought to get myself a little table-top freezer. I think I ought to make myself somewhere to put such a thing!

Came home, wrote this. Got really tired around 4pm (didn't sleep well) so went outside to doze in the sun. I will toss this to the site (sorry, not going to bother spel cheking giving how badly I did last time!), then go sit out for a bit longer while listening to Pangea. It's... peaceful. Pleasant. ☺

 

 

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Rick, 25th June 2022, 20:34
Breaking: A proposal, in France, to write the right to abortion into the French constitution (so it cannot be arbitrarily taken away later on) is gaining traction. 
Story here (in French) 
Mick , 26th June 2022, 10:51
Some US women may turn to life endangering acts to terminate their pregnancy in the future. I assume that in the US those wanting an abortion would have been told about all other options available? Maybe even be convinced into keeping or giving the child away for adoption. With the right to abort removed all such advice ends. Could this backfire with more being aborted than currently?  
 
In Guns we trust! 
 
Rick, 26th June 2022, 11:21
Life endangering indeed. Some Republicans want to make an abortion punishable by the death sentence. 
So if a woman who got raped manages to survive a back alley abortion, she then has to try to survive living. Given that somewhere in the Bible Belt is offering $10,000 bounties, I can see this becoming a twenty first century witch hunt. 
David Pilling, 26th June 2022, 13:01
The Ami is interesting. Around here the electric car owners leave them plugged in at Aldi and go for a walk - the chargers are free. The one I talk to always enthuses that there is a phone app that plots a route taking in recharging points. He says there are fast chargers on the Motorway that will only take 28 minutes, which is bearable if things go wrong. 
 
The Ami battery capacity is 5.5KWh that is an amount of energy, not dependent on voltage.  
 
They're not doing that thing they do with power bank capacity "10AH" - but at what voltage. with a power bank you've got to do 10AH x 3.7V = 37WH = 37 x 3600 Joules. 
 
For the Ami, like running a mains 2KW heater for three hours. 
 
It sounds a real bargain, but again talking to people, electric car owners stand around saying when they will get their vehicles. 
 
I spent sometime at a car dealership recently, and they had no new cars, just lots of expensive second hand ones. 
David Pilling, 26th June 2022, 13:11
UK had a little difficulty with (supra-national) judges this week - be interesting if any of the people saying thank goodness for a higher court changed their mind post events in the USA.
Rick, 26th June 2022, 14:09
Well, honestly, if the Ami is going to be drawing 2kW for three hours, I'm a little unsure. That is way more electricity than I normally use! 
I hear that chargers are free in many places, but I rather imagine this is to help push the adoption of EVs. I suspect when there is a sufficient number, charging will become costly. I mean, if it's 2kW per car for a park of fifty cars, that's a hell of a current draw. Who's paying if we aren't? 
 
The problem with new cars is in parts, especially semiconductors. Blame Covid, the war, capitalism, whatever... 
Rick, 26th June 2022, 14:11
The problem isn't in having a higher court, the problem is that the highest court in this case is inherently biased. 
 
It would be as if the ECHR ruled against the UK not because they were blatantly disregarding human rights (again) but because "we disagree with Brexit so NO". That would be biased, impartial, and bring the court into disrepute. 
Rick, 26th June 2022, 14:21
As far as I can determine, the logic behind the Supreme decision appears to be "this isn't a right granted by the Constitution, so we can get rid of it". 
 
Well, there's a lot that isn't specifically granted by the Constitution. Like female suffrage... 
 
That being said, a lot of these additional things you'd have thought would have been covered by the ninth amendment ("The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people"). 
 
The use of the religious right to twist the judiciary to their world view also risks running afoul of the intent of the first amendment.
David Pilling, 26th June 2022, 18:19
Well.. you could always get a petrol generator to charge the car. Or a bank of solar cells. If you own a big battery that's quite useful. In the UK there are special electricity tariffs for charging cars in the middle of the night. They've gone so far as to stop people without cars using them to charge electric car batteries (which they then use to run their houses during the day). 
Come Putin's Winter, man with a 5.5KWH battery will have light and computational power.
Rick, 26th June 2022, 18:50
Come Putin's winter, none of the gizmos will turn on. 
And for god's sake, don't play in the snow...
THE ELECTION WAS STOLEN, 26th June 2022, 18:57
F🐷k you boy. F🐷k you and your rinky dink country smallern Texas. We NEED our guns. We LOVE our guns. We WANT our guns. F🐷k you if you wanna take em away. You dunno what you is yammering about boy. Best shut your trap before someone's gonna put lead in it boy. F🐷k you f🐷k this site f🐷k your entire country. F🐷k Europe. 
There I dun said it. F🐷k Europe. F🐷k all a yous. 
Rick, 26th June 2022, 19:34
Calm down dear, have a nice cup of tea, you'll feel better. 
 
PS: *Many* countries are smaller than Texas.
Rick, 26th June 2022, 19:37
Since the above post reads so much better if you imagine it in the voice of Boss Hog, I've edited the sweary to have pigs within.
Happy, 26th June 2022, 20:31
“ Calm down dear, have a nice cup of tea „ 
 
Most. 
British. 
Thing. 
Ever. 
Rob, 27th June 2022, 00:56
We're at the point where we need to change our car. Its on lease (Motability) so after 3-5 years, time's up, give it back, get a new one. I looked at electric, as even with the recent price rises, its a lot cheaper to run than the diesel. Unfortunately none of those available to us were both big enough for the chair and up-front affordable. So diesel again this time. Maybe next time..
J.G.Harston, 27th June 2022, 01:47
"However it seems to be that if the Constitution can be amended to reflect the needs of the day, could it not be amended again?" 
 
Which is exactly what the SCOTUS has said. It isn't in the Constitution, this is the job of elected politicians, go ahead, legislate for it. Many states have legislated to allow abortion, some states have even legislated to put it in their constitution.
J.G.Harston, 27th June 2022, 01:56
"As far as I can determine, the logic behind the Supreme decision appears to be "this isn't a right granted by the Constitution, so we can get rid of it"." 
 
No, the SCOTUS has said: "this isn't a right granted by the Constitution, so you the elected politicians have to implement it." 
Rick, 27th June 2022, 07:17
Except overturning a decision they had previously ruled upon, knowing full well that the states that mattered to them would immediately legislate against it.
Rick, 27th June 2022, 07:25
https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/12/28/opinion/stillborn-murder-charge.html 
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