Congratulations, Alabama

Alabama seems to have narrowly avoided national shame today by not electing the Ayatollah of Alabama to the U.S. Senate.  News of the result in the Alabama special election was a relief with an aftertaste of hope.   Negative campaigning and bullying alone may not carry the day right now in American elections.    We’ve all had a long look at the results when the most adept at innuendo and insult attain high office.  Unaccountable, unqualified people in office, incompetent stewards of our resources and rights, doing a bad job.

Congratulations to Senator-elect Doug Jones, congratulations to the voters of Alabama.   Congratulations to the Alabama Election Commission for integrity and to the Alabama Secretary of State for not suppressing the vote to the extent that a fundamentalist Christian thug, twice removed from the bench by his fellow judges in Alabama for flagrant contempt of the Constitution, could be elected to represent you in Washington, D.C..  As I write this, with all 67 counties reporting, the projected margin of victory is less than 2%, currently less than 21,000 votes.  This one has been a squeaker.  It turns out the GOP was right to try to suppress black and Latino votes:  Jones got virtually all of the votes that “minorities” were able to cast in Alabama.  Moore had 70% of the white vote, naturally enough.

In a defense related to Moore’s dismissal of accusations by women he creeped out when they were teenagers, and he an adult assistant district attorney, I think Mike Huckabee’s daughter, the press secretary who replaced Sean Spicer, said it all yesterday in her defense of Donald Trump in the face of renewed allegations of unwanted sexual contact brought by now nineteen women.   It underscored the Trump/Moore lawless approach to governing and the rule of law.  She said, in essence: “y’all voted him into office and the question of if he did or did not years ago grope those women who are accusing him again now is irrelevant.”   Following her, eh, logic, I guess the fact that Moore was defeated means those women weren’t lying about his unwanted sexual attention when they were in high school.

I was delighted to find a complete transcript of the recent press conference where this issue was discussed fully provided on whitehouse.gov.

A grateful thank you to the Trump administration for this unexpected and very welcome example of full government transparency.  I wish the policies of Obama and Cheney had been anywhere near this transparent: 

Francesca.

Q    Thank you, Sarah.  I wanted to ask you about the women who came forward today against the President.  They first were on a television show and then they were at a press conference.  And they said that he should resign, and then also that there should be a congressional investigation.  And I know that you’ve said that this has already been litigated in the last election, but I wanted to get your specific reaction to this idea that there should be a congressional investigation into this.

MS. SANDERS:  Look, the President has addressed these accusations directly and denied all of these allegations. [1]  And this took place long before he was elected to be President. [2]   And the people of this country, at a decisive election, supported President Trump [3] , and we feel like these allegations have been answered through that process [4].

Kristen.

MS. SANDERS:  Sarah, thank you.  I want to follow up on that.  But first, a little bit of breaking news we just learned about:  The Pentagon apparently will now allow transgender people to enlist in the military beginning January 1st.  Your reaction to that?  And any follow-up action you’re going to take?

MS. SANDERS:  Yeah, as of right now, they’re simply complying with a court order and preparing to implement a previous policy to remain in compliance.  The Department of Justice is currently reviewing the legal options to ensure that the President’s directive can be implemented.  [5]

And for anything further and any specifics on both of those matters, I’d refer you to the Department of Defense and the Department of Justice.

Q    Okay, and one follow-up —

MS. SANDERS:  Sorry, Mara.

Q    One follow-up very quickly on — just very quickly, Sarah.

MS. SANDERS:  Sorry, Kristen.  Mara, go ahead.

Q    Can I just ask you about Nikki Haley’s comments saying that the President —

MS. SANDERS:  Mara, go ahead.

Q    I’ll pick that up for you, Kristen.

MS. SANDERS:  She’s going to pick it up for you.

Q    Nikki Haley, as I’m sure you know, said, when asked does the election mean that’s a settled issue — which you’ve been arguing from the podium here — she said, “I know he was elected, but women should always feel comfortable coming forward and we should all be willing to listen to them,” specifically referring to the accusers of the President.  Does the President agree with her?

MS. SANDERS:  Look, as the President said himself, he thinks it’s a good thing that women are coming forward, but he also feels strongly that a mere allegation shouldn’t determine the course.  And, in this case, the President has denied any of these allegations, as have eyewitnesses.  And several reports have shown those eyewitnesses also back up the President’s claim in this process.  [6]

And again, the American people knew this and voted for the President, and we feel like we’re ready to move forward in that process.

Q    But he thinks it’s a good thing that the women who accused him are coming forward now, again?

MS. SANDERS:  The President has said that it’s a good thing for women to be able to feel comfortable in coming forward, generally speaking.  [7]

Jacqueline.

Q    I just want to go off of that, Sarah.  But the President told Howard Stern in 2005 that he had walked into a teen beauty pageant dressing room where he said that teen contestants had no clothes on because he could sort of get away with things like that.  Is that not an admission of sexual harassmen

MS. SANDERS:  Look, the President has spoken about this directly.  I don’t have anything further to add on the process.

Q    And the American public —

MS. SANDERS:  We’re going to do one question today, guys, to move around.

Q    Two ISIS attacks in New York City — or ISIS-inspired attacks in New York City just recently.  Is the President concerned that there is a growing threat against people inspired by ISIS who have been radicalized online?

 

[1]  Trump responded that all the women telling similar stories about him are liars, threatened to sue all of them in court, claimed he never even met most of them and scoffed that half of the ones he did meet were dogs he’d never dream of trying to stick a finger up, the thought itself being repellant to him.    

[2]  And that matters why?

[3]  An election Trump lost by almost 3,000,000 votes and won by a razor thin 70,000 strategically placed votes in five key states that garnered an Electoral College margin of victory.

[4]  Sarah, how does the process of this narrow, brilliantly calculated and executed Electoral College victory have any relation to the question of whether or not Trump did what he boasted of?   Nineteen women tell similar stories about a groping, molesting person entirely consistent with the Boor-in-Chief’s public persona.   What does his magically narrow Electoral College defeat of an intensely disliked opponent have to do with whether he forced himself on these women?  

[5]  This item, while offered mainly to change the subject, means that Trump’s petulant, sensationalist tweet about banning transgender persons for the U.S. Armed Forces was just another impulsive presidential tweet and that there will be no change to existing law on the military’s policy of allowing transgender enlistment.

[6]  What on earth does this actually mean, Sarah?  Was Trump himself the eye witness who corroborates that he didn’t do what the women said he did?

[7] Although all the women who had accused him were, in fact, complete liars trying to cause irreparable harm to his good name, nasty women he promised to sue in court for defamation,  plus, he never met them, or if he did, most of them were dogs he wouldn’t molest with a ten foot poll.

 

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Alabama’s Voter ID Law

There is an ongoing federal lawsuit in Alabama, brought by the NAACP and others, over restrictive voter ID laws in the state that the plaintiffs claim are voter suppression measures disproportionately targeting black and Latino citizens.   Here is a short description of the lawsuit from the Alabama Public Radio website (in other news, did you know W.C. Handy is known worldwide as the Father of the Blues?)

Here are legal papers from the lawsuit itself, plaintiffs responding to the Alabama Secretary of State’s motion to have the case dismissed for lack of triable issues of fact.

Trial was set for September 11, 2017, according to the APR piece, but it seems the trial is now set for February, 2018.  Oh well.  Here is a recent op-ed by a guy who heads a church group fighting the Alabama voter suppression measures.  He does not even mention Alabama’s closure of more than thirty DMV offices where many voters could have secured the newly required photo IDs.   Nor the closure of some voting sites in majority black and hispanic precincts.  

Fortunately we live in a land of law, (he said sardonically).   Here is one shining example of the Supreme law of the land in the land of law we live in:

When a man has emerged from slavery, and by the aid of beneficent legislation has shaken off the inseparable concomitants of that state, there must be some stage in the progress of his elevation when he takes the rank of a mere citizen, and ceases to be the special favorite of the laws, and when his rights as a citizen, or a man, are to be protected in the ordinary modes by which other men’s rights are protected.

(from the Civil Rights Cases, 1883)

You may have to wait ninety years or so for your taste of justice, as these special favorites of the law had to, starting 18 years after the end of the Civil War, but doesn’t that just make it taste sweeter? 

(Rhetorical question, no answer required.)

In a closely contested election, the more votes of your opponent you can cause not to be cast, the better your chance of a narrow victory you can call a mandate.   It’s tempting to say, looking at some of the in-your-face racist bullshit that puts on the finery of American law in our great post-racial society, that this country is doomed.  Think about it, though.  We are probably no more doomed than the rest of the world that the powerful psychopaths at the helm are so heedless about destroying. 

They’re doing a hell of a job, Brownie, hell of a job.

Just for Fun

You’ve got to love these top ten lists.  America is into rankings, big time.   Our entire culture is based on competition and the myth of the big, happy winner and the pathetic, miserable loser.   The competition is not always fair, admittedly, and the rankings are not always accurate or verifiable, but let’s play a little game I just thought up (instead of jumping out of my skin, my only other option at the moment.)

Bear in mind that these rankings were reported in that notorious Commie rag Forbes (note how their “rankings” diverge from the alleged source of the article — check out the sad case of Colorado, for example [1]), so take that into consideration when playing, but play the game along with us anyway, it’s fun in a sick way.  We’re seeing how the top ten in education and the bottom ten in education cast their votes in the 2016 Electoral College.

Ranking the states for educational attainment, based on some formula you can read about in the linked Forbes piece, you get the top ten (one to ten) according to Forbes:  Massachusetts, Maryland, Colorado, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Virginia, Minnesota, Washington, New Jersey.   Their votes in the Electoral College equal 90.   

The bottom ten are (bottom to top):  West Virginia, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Kentucky, Nevada, Alabama, Tennessee, Texas, Oklahoma.  These states represent a total of 104 Electoral College votes, Texas with an outsized 38.   

Top ten best educated states?  All ninety electors went to that nasty woman, loser Hillary Clinton.

Bottom ten worst educated states?  98 of those 104 Electoral College votes went to America’s greatest winner, and the most popular president in human history, Donald J. Trump. 

Only Nevada with its six electors bet against the former casino tycoon, fucking up the wonderful symmetry of this diverting game.

Here’s the 2016 electoral college map, if you want to fill out the rest of the board.  

Thanks for playing, y’all.

 

[1]  Colorado is either #3 or #14, depending on whether you believe Forbes or the report by an outfit called Wallethub that its article is based on. 

 

A Note About the Power of Words

This point hardly needs belaboring– what you call something matters, often very much.   For example, the phrase “sexual harassment” did not even exist until fairly recently when female lawyers coined it and began advocating for laws against it.  Before that time, unless a woman had been raped, or subjected to other forcible sexual contact, in front of witnesses, she had little to no legal recourse for something like a “male chauvinist” boss caressing her ass over her skirt, complimenting her breasts while licking his lips, pressing against her, perhaps even sliding his grubby hand down her shirt and kissing her.  Threatening to fire her, or actually firing her, if she objected to him continuing to do all these things, and other things too, wink, wink — no harm, eh, no word for the harm, no foul!  LOL!

There was not even a word for these still common little practices, they were, until some time in the late 1970s, 80s or 90s, something the law considered de minimis, and, as we all know, de minimis non curat lex.   The law don’t make laws against things we don’t even have a word for, sob sisters.  Ah, for them good old days when America was still great.

We can all rattle off phrases that were created at great expense to shape political discourse — if we can apply that term, which implies a reasoned back and forth conversation, to American politics.   Death Tax, Death Panels, Right to Life, Tax and Spend, Enhanced Interrogation, Right to Work, States’ Rights, Special Rendition, AUMF, Signature Strike, Collateral Damage, Friendly Fire, Climate Change Skeptic, Intelligent Design, Birtherism, blah blah blah.   

Here’s one that just got to me, hearing a discussion about so-called evangelical Christians who support an Alabama bigot running for the Senate in a special election.  This candidate claims it was God’s vengeance on American sodomites and blasphemers what caused the attacks of 9/11/01, though he hates Muslims too, and believes his fervor for the teachings of Jesus trumps any direct order of the U.S. Supreme Court, even in executing his duties as an Alabama Supreme Court justice.   He was twice removed as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, by his fellow Alabama state judges, for unrepentant contempt of court orders. [1] Like the affable idiot Dubya, he takes his orders from a higher father.  Law and Order, yo, as he waves his wife’s little gun at a campaign rally and the audience erupts in applause.  

Anyway, the word that got to me, as much as the fucking f-word, or the n-word itself (let’s all agree to ban the hateful word, shall we, instead of honestly dealing with its long, ugly history and ongoing American legacy) was Democrat.  We now have Republican values and Democrat values, the Republicans are no longer ceding the adjective “democratic” to the party that spawned the Klan while they, the Party of Lincoln, were fighting to abolish the Peculiar Institution. 

Note that subtle, but strong, implication of saying “Democrat” values instead of “Democratic”.  No more moral high ground for you, motherfuckers.  Note that we hardly even notice it at this point, the usage has become ubiquitous.  It was not in wide use until fairly recently.  There was always the Republican candidate and the Democratic candidate, the latter could also be called the Democrat, as opposed to the Republican.  But the D-word’s use has expanded, it seems to me.  It is used in its noun form, weaponized as an adjective, in a pejorative sense, often not undeservedly so, mind you.  It is generally spoken with a southern inflection, think of George Dubya Bush saying it, leaning derisively on that last syllable, Demo-CRAT.   It can be tastefully followed by a well-aimed lunger into the old brass spittoon, for emphasis.   

Words matter, sure, but if you say ’em right, you can make a polite word  just as potent as a darned fighting word, an ‘invitation to exchange fisticuffs’ as the fancy pants on the Supreme Court styled it.  Say the “n-word” with the right emphasis, boy, and it’s as good as using the old one, “nigger”, a word that will get you fired now faster than you can say Jack Robinson.  That was another of them politically correct, liberal Democrat triumphs, taking the castrating shears to our cherished vernacular.  How you like your damned n-word now, n-word?

Alabama Republicans can only thank the good Lord that nobody has a tape recording or video of Roy Moore saying the “n-word” for real.  Y’all would still have to double down and vote for him, but it would be a much harder pull than just against a handful of fifty-something year-old women claiming Moore felt them up when they were teenagers.   He said he asked their mamas every time, before he gave ’em a ride in his car and started sweet talkin’ ’em.   Plus, how come, if there was any truth to these anti-Christian lies at all, they didn’t start defaming his Honor’s good name with this forty years ago?

He’s the Law and Order candidate, unlike that one the Democrat party is running, Doug Jones.  All Jones ever did is prosecute some old men who, when they were young, blew up some little colored girls in a church.  If Alabama can keep enough coloreds from voting tomorrow, Moore has a fair shot at becoming Alabama’s next U.S. Senator.  The Supreme Court itself said we now live in a post-racial society where coloreds are done being the “special favorites of the law.” [2]  No need to enforce the Voting Rights Act down there, Lord no, as the Roberts Court so ruled.  Do not insult our honor, sir! 

States rights, except when it comes to carrying my concealed handgun in Times Square and all over the liberal states that hate the Second Amendment, to make sure it’s ready to fire at bad guys with guns.  And, of course, when it comes to federal action against the most dangerous and evil drug the world has ever known– marijuana.  Oh, yeah, and Monsanto selling its toxic agricultural products wherever it wants and fuck the wishes of local fucking hippies.

Don’t forget to vote tomorrow, Alabama.  You may be number 44 (out of 50) in educational attainment in the U.S. for 2017, but there are still six states with worse outcomes for students (though five out of the six voted for Trump too).   Surprise us, Alabama.

 

[1] how he crawled back to his Chief Justice post after the first time, I have to check out some time, though I suspect the good, white, Republican Christians of Alabama re-elected him.

[2] This phrase is from a famous 1883 Supreme Court ruling in the mischievously named Civil Rights Cases that decided the former slaves no longer needed federal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment and the legislation passed to enforce it.  The 8-1 decision, written by long-winded racist douchebag Justice Joseph P.  Bradley, contains this immortal paragraph which was, for the better part of a century, the law of this great nation, back when we were still great:

When a man has emerged from slavery, and by the aid of beneficent legislation has shaken off the inseparable concomitants of that state, there must be some stage in the progress of his elevation when he takes the rank of a mere citizen, and ceases to be the special favorite of the laws, and when his rights as a citizen, or a man, are to be protected in the ordinary modes by which other men’s rights are protected. There were thousands of free colored people in this country before the abolition of slavery, enjoying all the essential rights of life, liberty, and property the same as white citizens; yet no one, at that time, thought that it was any invasion of their personal status as freemen because they were not admitted to all the privileges enjoyed by white citizens, or because they were subjected to discriminations in the enjoyment of accommodations in inns, public conveyances, and places of amusement. Mere discriminations on account of race or color were not regarded as badges of slavery….

read a more detailed account of this immortal piece of jurisprudence, including Justice John Harlan’s forward-looking dissent  here

Clarification on Net Neutrality posts

Everything I’ve written recently about the issue of Net Neutrality is as accurate as my understanding of the issue can make it.  I need to make one correction:  contrary to what I wrote, noting the custom of net neutrality from the inception of the internet, new FCC chairman Ajit Pai did not lie when he spoke of an existing government regulation requiring net neutrality.     

The FCC regulation in question determined that the internet is a “common carrier” for purposes of regulation by the FCC, like the publicly owned airwaves that make telephone, radio and television transmission possible. [1]  You can see why a former corporate attorney for an Internet Service Provider like Pai, now chairman and FCC regulatory swing vote, would want to nip that shit in the bud.

 

[1]   On 26 February 2015, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ruled in favor of net neutrality by reclassifying broadband access as a telecommunications service and thus applying Title II (common carrier) of the Communications Act of 1934 as well as section 706 of the Telecommunications act of 1996[88] to Internet service providers.[89][90][91][92][93][94] On 12 March 2015, the FCC released the specific details of its new net neutrality rule.[95][96][97] And on 13 April 2015, the FCC published the final rule on its new regulations.[98][99] The rule took effect on June 12, 2015.[100]

 
 

 

 

Post-factual Reality 101

“That ‘grab ’em by the pussy’ locker room banter thing I apologized on nationwide TV for saying?  I never fucking said it!  Fake Trump!​  SAD!” 

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP (announcing largest roll-back of federal land protection in U.S. history to a presumably Native American audience): Your timeless bond with the outdoors should not be replaced with the whims of regulators thousands and thousands of miles away. They don’t know your land. And truly, they don’t care for your land like you do. But from now on, that won’t matter. I’ve come to Utah to take a very historic action to reverse federal overreach and restore the rights of this land to your citizens. … Therefore, today, on the recommendation of Secretary Zinke, and with the wise counsel of Senator Hatch, Senator Lee and the many others, I will sign two presidential proclamations. These actions will modify the national monuments designations of both Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante.

source

Trump “unveil(ed) his plan to open up protected federal lands to mining, logging, drilling and other forms of extraction. The plan calls for shrinking the 1.3 million-acre Bears Ears Monument by more than 80 percent and splitting it into two separate areas. Trump would slash the state’s 1.9 million-acre Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument by 50 percent.”

source

As that hideous, yet still somehow perversely sexual zombie-eyed scarecrow Kellyanne Conway described Trump’s preference for a lie: alternative facts.   You have facts that are just regular, garden variety facts, what you might call empirical, or verifiable facts, and you have, you know, “alternative facts,” which biased purveyors of “fake news” call “lies”. 

Once people can no longer make distinctions well enough to discern the difference between facts that can be verified and alternative facts, you can effectively do whatever you want to these people, for any reason or no reason, or for any alternative reason the imagination of a psychopath might devise.   

This chat between billionaire mercenary Erik Prince and then radio talk show host Steve Bannon struck me the other day, and I made note of it to bring to the attention of any curious reader:

The Intercept reports Prince may have foreshadowed his new proposal [private contractor spies to capture or assassinate high value terror suspects– ed.]  in a 2016 interview on former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon’s radio program, in which Prince proposed reviving a version of the CIA’s Vietnam War assassination scheme, known as the Phoenix Program.

Erik Prince: “Two: a Phoenix-like program. OK, remember the Phoenix Program was a root canal done to the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War. It was a kill—”

Stephen Bannon: “You mean, this is the Phoenix Program—this is the Phoenix—hang on. This is the Phoenix Program in Vietnam.”

Erik Prince: “It was a vicious, but very effective, kill-capture program in Vietnam that destroyed the Viet Cong as a military force. That’s what needs to be done to the funders of Islamic terror, and that would even the wealthy radical Islamist billionaires funding it from the Middle East, and any of the other illicit activities therein.”

source  (see The Intercept: Erik Prince headline)

the story in much greater detail, reported by Jeremy Scahill and Matthew Cole, here

Prince, who shared a $1,350,000,000 inheritance with sister Betsey (DeVos) and two other sisters, and is the founder and former CEO of now corporately reorganized Blackwater, speaks of the Phoenix Program, a long-running, systematic, un-prosecuted war crime, as destroying the Viet Cong as a military force.  You dig?  This is the reason America won the war in Viet Nam, because we had committed patriots with the will to do whatever vicious things had to be done to defeat and utterly destroy the unscrupulous enemy.   You see how this works?

And, you understand, whatever the fact, or alternative fact, of the matter may actually be, if you have a billion dollars and no-bid government contracts, and the right committed people in place, and the right contacts within the military, and the right party in power, you can secretly, and lucratively, hunt down and kill whoever the fuck you want, anywhere in the world. 

You read it here first.  Or not.

Conspiracy of Interests

Most conspiracies do not happen in the manner set out in the sensational, influential, wholly fictional Protocols of the Elders of Zion.  There is no sinister midnight meeting of eternally scheming characters in an ancient cemetery, where they set out their devilish plans in painstaking detail, assign roles, map out larger strategies for global domination.   Most conspiracies happen on a much more subtle level, based on common interests and shared goals. 

A powerful group with a particular interest will automatically advocate for that interest, without any need for an actual meeting of principals or any assigning of particular roles — they just pursue identical self-interests simultaneously.  Very little systematic coordination is needed.  We see this, for example, in the recent return to Gilded Age style tax policy orchestrated by a loose coalition of Republican legislators, an insane chief executive and a small, determined band of billionaire “Libertarians”, corporate “persons” and upwardly mobile multi-millionaires.  Many super-wealthy people, and wealthy corporate “persons” made it happen, but it’s hard to call their efforts a conspiracy in the classic sense.   

The same thing can happen even within a small group, among people of limited individual power.  I’m reminded of this by a personal experience, brought to mind by the recent odd blind cc of an email string from an emotionally challenged person I long considered a close friend.  A person I now would not hesitate to punch in the face with the full force of cathartic American violence, that face triggering a hard-earned exception to my deeply held belief in the rightness of Ahimsa. 

It was a few years ago, Sekhnet and I were going to take Sekhnet’s then 90 year-old Aunt Lillian to dinner at a great vegetarian Chinese restaurant on Main Street called New Bodai.  Shortly before we were to pick up Lillian this friend called to say that he would like to take his daughter to the same restaurant, along with a mutual friend of ours, an angry and bossy woman he had suddenly become close friends with.  We told them what time we would be at the restaurant; they countered that they’d like to eat a bit earlier, they were all hungry.  We told them how long it would take to pick up Lillian and get to the restaurant.   They agreed to meet us at that time.

When we arrived there were several empty plates on the table.   They cheerily told us not to worry, they’d ordered the same for us, it was already on its way.  We endured a joyless meal, eating dishes we had not ordered, and Lillian was largely ignored during the meal.  We split the tab with these two inconsiderate creatures I eventually came to understand I was no longer friends with.   

It strikes me now that they had not “conspired” in the classic sense of planning to serve an old lady a plate of warmed over shit by way of throwing down any kind of gauntlet.   They had not consciously decided to shit on Sekhnet’s feelings, or her aunt’s, or mine.  They were just feeling giddy to have discovered each other, two long-time friends of somebody they were both in the process of actively alienating anyway.   

The guy, I learned from his bizarre email string, is in the process of divorcing his longtime wife, Hitler.  His sex life with his new girlfriend, he reports, is frustrating and joyless, sad to say.   I haven’t heard from the woman since her mother-in-law’s funeral, which I idiotically attended, though it is certain she still publicly whips her hapless husband in the face with the same sickening gusto as always.

If you deeply share interests with somebody, more likely than a plainly laid out plan of attack, all you will need is a nod and a wink to put things in motion.  As much as many of the super-wealthy hate Trump, a crude, lying, ill-bred boor, when he abolishes the “Death Tax” and they can give every penny of their fortunes without any tax payment required of their chosen heirs, they will nod quietly, savoring their fleeting taste of immortality.