ERROL CASTENS: Mid-winter musings and miscellany

By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal

OK, I’ll admit we’re officially less than three weeks into winter, but some of us gardeners are already thinking how late we are in starting seeds for such early season favorites as broccoli and cabbage.
Plants usually reach the stores based not so much on the best time to plant a particular crop in our region but when customers get the gardening itch.
It’s usually well into March – several weeks later than I like – before cool-weather plants hit the stores in my postage stamp of almost-native soil. Tomatoes, which are decidedly warm-weather plants, usually come several weeks before most soils are warm enough for them to flourish.

Misdirected message
My wife tells me the Hallmark Channel flashes frequent reminders of how many days remain until Valentine’s Day. Most folks watching the Hallmark Channel are genetically programmed to know that already, so wouldn’t that warning be more useful on ESPN and the Outdoor Channel?

The more things change …
“The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest (the government) become bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance.” – Cicero, 55 B.C.

Words have no meaning …
Ezra Klein of the Washington Post mocked the reading of the Constitution in Congress as “a gimmick.” He claimed that “the text is confusing, because it was written more than 100 years ago, and what people believe it says differs from person to person … .”
Granted, there is room to differ on some specific applications, but how does dismissing the text – most of which is 223 years old – help solve any disagreements?
Klein’s real colors show with the last part of his statement: “ … and differs depending on what they want to get done.”
In his world, apparently, not only do words come with an expiration date, but assigning their meaning is the prerogative of everyone except the ones who wrote them.

… Or maybe they do
Even Ezra Klein, if he really put his mind to it, could figure out pretty much what the first Congress meant when it enacted this original oath of office for its members: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support the Constitution of the United States.”
He might also recognize the 10th Amendment of the aforesaid Constitution is also rather straightforward: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

Contact Daily Journal Oxford Bureau reporter Errol Castens at (662) 281-1069 or

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