Archive for March, 2018

Review: The Rituals of Dinner

Sunday, March 4th, 2018

Rituals of Dinner is the sort of charming book that feels like a palate cleanser between scholarly tomes.  That is just a facade, though.  Margaret Visser has crafted a soundly built exploration of our table manners that supports her elegant tableware.

That said, Rituals abides in an odd niche.  It’s scholarly, but not academic, informative but not authoritative, and traces the roots of ideas without being historical.  In addition, Visser does not pretend to be unbiased.  Her reasoned support for both the Emily Post and Miss Manners traditions warms this etiquette nerd’s heart.  It’s not an etiquette manual, either.

It is an informed depiction of the range of behavior at the table focused on but not limited to American and European traditions.  If you’ve ever wondered why knife etiquette involves where the weapon, er, utensil is pointed this is a book for you.  Visser has spent many hours in the library.

The erudition would fall flat under lesser writing.  She hits an impossible tone with perfect pitch. Digressions are just long enough and deep enough.  The main narrative moves along briskly.  Her organization lends itself to spending a few hours or a few minutes.

Strongly recommended.

Pro Tip: Only the People can change the Constitution (generally with the help of Congress)

Sunday, March 4th, 2018

When a president or candidate claims to be a protector against or progenitor of changes to the Constitution, do not believe them.

The president’s role in repealing the Second Amendment or preventing its repeal is operationally zero.  The same is true of adding new amendments – e.g., the ERA.

The process is completely contained in Article V.  The tl;dr is: if two thirds of both houses propose an amendment (enough to override a veto, were one even possible, incidentally) and three fourths of the state legislatures or conventions therein approve it, the proposed amendment becomes part of the Constitution.  (There’s an alternative way to start the ball rolling, but the 3/4 approval by states always has to happen.)

The chief executive’s only input or output is the ability to shout from the Bully Pulpit. That’s it.

The judicial isn’t involved, either.  It’s just us.

So don’t vote based on that crap.