The Palm Center released the Report of the Transgender Military Commission yesterday, funded by transgender billionaire Jennifer Pritzker, who is also a military veteran, to the tune of $1.35 million, about the suitability of transgender people for service in the military.
Although Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was repealed in 2010, transgender people have remained banned from the military on the basis of the Department of Defense medical regulation DODI 6130.03 which considers any type of gender-confirming clinical, medical or surgical treatments as “disqualifying physical and mental conditions.”
The new report asserts:
Removal of the military’s blanket ban on transgender service members would improve health outcomes, enable commanders to better care for their troops, and reflect the federal government’s commitment to reducing disparities in health care access for transgender people.
The commission was co-chaired by former US Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders and Rear Admiral Alan M. Steinman, MD (Ret.) and included former military officers and top scholars on gender and health.
The Mikado, or, The Town of Titipu is a comic opera in two acts, with music by Arthur Sullivan and libretto by W. S. Gilbert, their ninth of fourteen operatic collaborations. It opened in London, where it ran at the Savoy Theatre for 672 performances, which was the second longest run for any work of musical theatre and one of the longest runs of any theatre piece up to that time. Before the end of 1885, it was estimated that, in Europe and America, at least 150 companies were producing the opera. The Mikado remains the most frequently performed Savoy Opera, and it is especially popular with amateur and school productions. The work has been translated into numerous languages and is one of the most frequently played musical theatre pieces in history.
Setting the opera in Japan, an exotic locale far away from Britain, allowed Gilbert to satirise British politics and institutions more freely by disguising them as Japanese. Gilbert used foreign or fictional locales in several operas, including The Mikado, Princess Ida, The Gondoliers, Utopia, Limited and The Grand Duke, to soften the impact of his pointed satire of British institutions.
The Mikado is a comedy that deals with themes of death and cruelty. This works only because Gilbert treats these themes as trivial, even lighthearted issues. For instance, in Pish-Tush’s song “Our great Mikado, virtuous man”, he sings: “The youth who winked a roving eye/ Or breathed a non-connubial sigh/ Was thereupon condemned to die / He usually objected.” The term for this rhetorical technique is meiosis, a drastic understatement of the situation. Other examples of this are when self-decapitation is described as “an extremely difficult, not to say dangerous, thing to attempt”, and also as merely “awkward”. When a discussion occurs of Nanki-Poo’s life being “cut short in a month”, the tone remains comic and only mock-melancholy. Burial alive is described as “a stuffy death”. Finally, execution by boiling oil or by melted lead is described by the Mikado as a “humorous but lingering” punishment.
Death is treated as a businesslike event in Gilbert’s Topsy-Turvy world. Pooh-Bah calls Ko-Ko, the Lord High Executioner, an “industrious mechanic”. Ko-Ko also treats his bloody office as a profession, saying, “I can’t consent to embark on a professional operation unless I see my way to a successful result.” Of course, joking about death does not originate with The Mikado. The plot conceit that Nanki-Poo may marry Yum-Yum if he agrees to die at the end of the month was used in A Wife for a Month, a 17th century play by John Fletcher. Ko-Ko’s final speech affirms that death has been, throughout the opera, a fiction, a matter of words that can be dispelled with a phrase or two: being dead and being “as good as dead” are equated. In a review of the original production of The Mikado, after praising the show generally, the critic noted that the show’s humour nevertheless depends on
“unsparing exposure of human weaknesses and follies-things grave and even horrible invested with a ridiculous aspect-all the motives prompting our actions traced back to inexhaustible sources of selfishness and cowardice…. Decapitation, disembowelment, immersion in boiling oil or molten lead are the eventualities upon which (the characters’) attention (and that of the audience) is kept fixed with gruesome persistence…. (Gilbert) has unquestionably succeeded in imbuing society with his own quaint, scornful, inverted philosophy; and has thereby established a solid claim to rank amongst the foremost of those latter-day Englishmen who have exercised a distinct psychical influence upon their contemporaries.”
π (Pi), how could we live without it. So let’s celebrate π on it’s day 3.14.
As you remember from grammar school math, π is the mathematical constant consisting of the main numbers 3, 1 and 4. According to the Wikipedia of π, “it is the the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, and is approximately equal to 3.14159.”
It has been represented by the Greek letter “π” since the mid-18th century, though it is also sometimes written as pi. π is an irrational number, which means that it cannot be expressed exactly as a ratio of two integers (such as 22/7 or other fractions that are commonly used to approximate π); consequently, its decimal representation never ends and never settles into a permanent repeating pattern. The digits appear to be randomly distributed, although no proof of this has yet been discovered. π is a transcendental number – a number that is not the root of any nonzero polynomial having rational coefficients. The transcendence of π implies that it is impossible to solve the ancient challenge of squaring the circle with a compass and straight-edge.
OK, enough of that. Let’s get on to the party part
It’s earliest known celebration was in California where in 1988 at the San Francisco Exploratorium physicist Larry Shaw along with the staff and the public marched around one of its circular spaces eating fruit pies. In 2009. The US House of Representatives passed a non-binding resolution declaring 3.14 π (Pi) Day.
Coincidentally, it is also the birthday of theoretical physicist Albert Einstein. So at Princeton University in New Jersey there are numerous celebrations around both events that also include an Albert Einstein look alike contest.
In the past, MIT has posted its acceptance letters to high school seniors on Pi Day.
Attention, Chicago residents: First Slice Pie Café will be giving out free slices of pizza today at 3:14 pm. For readers in the Southeast, pizzas cost $3.14 at Your Pie’s 16 locations across Georgia, Tennessee and Florida.
The Microsoft store is offering 3.14% off on Dell tablets.
At Mission High School in California’s Bay Area, students are composing “piems” – poems that have “the same number of letters as the corresponding digit of pi.”
It’s OK if all of this talk about pi is making you crave pie. Last night, students at Cal Tech hosted a late-night pi-themed pie-eating party. The Pasadena Sun reports: students “dug into 130 pies laid out for them outside student housing. There were 26 each of five different pies. Follow that? So on 3/14 at 1:59 a.m. there were 26 each of five kinds of pie. None is by chance. The first digits of Pi are 3.14159265.”
After pigging out on pies, you can go on a 3.14 mile bicycle ride in Milwaukee.
And by the way, if you think all this pie-eating on Pi Day is merely an exercise in bad puns, prepare to have your mind blown.
In France, British writer Daniel Tammet has kicked off “France’s first Pi Day celebration” at the Palace of Discovery, Paris’s science museum, CNN reports. In 2004, the then-25-year-old recited “22,514 digits of pi from memory” – breaking the European record.
And the founder of π Day, retired physicist Larry Shaw will be at the Exploratorium today leading a “Pi Procession”, in which “Pi partiers will get a yardstick mounted to a pie plate, each with a single digit of pi on it. Then all 500 of them will line up in pi-order” and trot around the “Pi Shrine.”
In 2010’s “Moment of Geek”, Rachel Maddow, host of MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show,” featured a math student teacher, Teresa Miller, from the University of New Mexico with a hula hoop and a Rubic’s Cube that was quite amazing.
I was never that energetic as a math student. Teresa should be a great math and phys ed teacher.
So, whatever you do today, every time you see a circle or a pie of any kind remember π
I’ve founded and run too many franchises to count. I’ve had an unexpected absence for which I’ve never apologized. My only restriction (other than the ones everybody operates under) is that I not interact with a particular user which I have honored and they have not (no, not even a link). I have two sites that I’m very proud of The Stars Hollow Gazette and DocuDharma where my output is considerable.
The allegations of CIA snooping on congressional investigators isn’t just a scandal-the whole premise of secret government is in question.
The CIA’s infiltration of the Senate’s torture probe was a possible constitutional violation and perhaps a criminal one, too. The agency’s inspector general and the Justice Department have begun inquiries. And as the story recently broke, CIA sources-no names, please-told reporters that the real issue was whether the Senate investigators had hacked the CIA to obtain the internal review. Readers of the few newspaper stories on all this did not have to peer too far between the lines to discern a classic Washington battle was under way between Langley and Capitol Hill. [..]
The United States is a republic, and elected officials in all three branches are supposed to be held accountable by those famous checks and balances that school kids learn about in civics classes. When it comes to the clandestine activities of the US government-the operations of the CIA, the other intelligence outfits, and the covert arms of the military-the theory is straightforward: These activities are permitted only because there is congressional oversight. The citizenry is not told about such actions because doing so would endanger national security and render these activities moot. But such secret doings of the executive branch are permissible because elected representatives of the people in the legislative branch monitor these activities and are in a position to impose accountability.
That’s how it’s supposed to work. But since the founding of the national security state in the years after World War II, there have been numerous occasions when the spies, snoops, and secret warriors of the US government have not informed the busybodies on Capitol Hill about all of their actions. In the 1970s, after revelations of CIA assassination programs and other outrageous intelligence agency misdeeds, Congress created what was supposed to be a tighter system of congressional oversight. But following that, the CIA and other undercover government agencies still mounted operations without telling Congress. (See the Iran-Contra scandal.) Often the spies went to imaginative lengths to keep Congress in the dark. More recently, members of the intelligence community have said they were not fully in the know about the NSA’s extensive surveillance programs. Of course, there was a countervailing complaint from the spies. Often when a secret program becomes public knowledge, members of Congress proclaim their shock, even though they had been told about it.
Overall, the system of congressional oversight has hardly (as far as the public can tell) been stellar. And it has raised doubts about the ability of a democratic government to mount secret ops and wage secret wars in a manner consistent with the values of accountability and transparency. What was essential to decent governance on this front was the delicate relationship between congressional overseers and the intelligence agencies.
But we are past the question of torture. What is happening here is a Constitutional crisis. If Feinstein does not have CIA Director Brennan up before her Senate committee immediately, and if she does not call for his resignation and if the president remains silent (“We need to allow Justice to complete its investigation”) then we have witnessed the essential elements of a coup; at the very least, the collapse of the third of the government charged with oversight of the executive.
That oversight- those Constitutional checks and balances- are the difference between a democracy and a monarchy. They are what contains executive power and makes it responsible to the People. But like Jenga, pull out the important one and the whole thing falls.
A Last Question
The only question remaining then is whether the president is part of the coup, or another victim of it. Is he in charge, or are the intelligence agencies? We may have an answer soon. CIA Director Brennan said:
If I did something wrong, I will go to the president and I will explain to him what I did and what the findings were. And he is the one who can ask me to stay or to go.
So far, the White House response has been to ignore the challenge:
President Obama has “great confidence” in Brennan, Carney said during his daily briefing. He added that if there has been any “inappropriate activity,” the president “would want to get to the bottom of it.”
Brennan has challenged the president to act. What the president does will tell us much about the future of our democracy. As radio host Guillermo Jimenez has said, “On this Grand Chessboard, it is We the People who are now in check. It’s our move.”
In the words of Benjamin Franklin. “A Republic, if you can keep it.”
William Black is an associate professor of economics and law at UMKC. He has held many prestigious positions, including executive director for Fraud Prevention. He recently helped the World Bank develop anti-corruption initiatives and served as an expert for OFHEO in its enforcement action against Fannie Mae’s former senior management. He is a criminologist and former financial regulator.