On June 30th, 2023, the last day of the term, the US Supreme Court issued a bizarre ruling regarding free speech and the ongoing culture wars over gay marriage, siding with a Colorado website designer who balked at having to design wedding websites for same-sex couples. But here’s the thing – in 2016, when the suit was filed, Lorie Smith wasn’t designing wedding webizes at all, for couples of any sexual persuasion; she claimed to have been approached by a gay couple whom she refused the services she wasn’t offering to anyone, based on her religious objections to same-sex unions. So, Lorie Smith’s suit against Colorado’s antidiscrimination law was hypothetical or, shall we say, prophylactic?
The celebration of Independence Day in the US is, tragically, often bound up with a deadly expression of Americans’ Second Amendment rights, coinciding with an uptick in the already ubiquitous incidents of mass shootings. Although Founding Father John Adams, after the signing of the Declaration, wrote to his long-suffering wife Abigail that “I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival…It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shows, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more,” I doubt that murdering fellow citizens was the type of celebratory gunplay he anticipated, nor the parade of lost and shattered lives.
[Alice and Annabelle hydrangeas relax in the shade, with a less-than-usually-troublesome squirrel standing guard]
Or is that “heaven”? It’s been awhile coming, but now, in their third summer here, the hydrangeas are really beginning to come into their own. I have five varieties, four Oakleaf and one arborescens, and all are showing improvement over last year’s output.
A bizarre story emerged on Father’s Day 2023 in Kellogg, Idaho, where a 31-year-old father of two shot dead his 18-year-old neighbor, for masturbating fully nude in front of his bedroom window. Majorjon Kaylor told police he “snapped” after seeing Devin Smith swinging and stroking his penis in full view of Kaylor’s wife and young daughters. Police were called and interviewed the recent high school graduate after the masturbation incident on June 13, telling Kaylor afterward that charges would be filed.
On Sunday, 18 June 2023, the Titan submersible, some 13,000 feet under the waters of the North Atlantic, lost contact with its support vessel on the surface. The craft was carrying a crew of five, including OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush and four others who had paid $250,000 apiece for a chance to view the wreckage of the Titanic, part of OceanGate’s underwater tourism service. Last contact came at 9:45 AM local time (11:45 AM UT), and a multi-nation search was instituted after the sub failed to return to the surface at about 3 PM as expected. With an estimated 96 hours of reserve oxygen, by Thursday the 22nd, the operation became one of recovery rather than rescue, as little hope was offered for survivors.
On June 9, 2023, 39-year-old Mark Anthony Batista, a New York firefighter and EMT with Brooklyn Engine Company 226, drowned at the Jersey shore while trying to rescue his daughter, who had become trapped in a rip current. Batista was unsuccessful, losing his own life in the attempt; his daughter was rescued by first responders called to the scene at 8:30 AM, and his body was discovered and retrieved about 10:00. A 15-year veteran of the FDNY, Batista is survived by his eleven-year-old daughter, his wife and two stepsons. The tragedy occurred at Sylvania Beach in Avon-by-the-Sea, NJ.