Please have a nice and safe Fourth of July.
This picture is one I took last year of how it looks outside the window of the Old North Church in Boston.
One if by land and all that.
Here is the inside of the Old North Church in Boston.
One if by land and two if by sea.
This is the site of the Boston Massacre.
What can I tell you? That traffic island and the area around it is where the Boston Massacre took place in 1770.
Photo copyright 2011 Neil Aquino.
Due to recent comments by Sarah Palin, Paul Revere’s Ride is in the news.
When important events in American history find their way back into the news, that is a good time to take your own initiative to learn the real facts.
Above is John Singleton Copley’s 1768 painting of Paul Revere.
Revere, a silversmith, is seen here as both a working person and as a thinker.
Every working person has the ability to understand complex things if he or she is willing to make the effort.
An excellent book about Paul Revere and the Boston he knew is Paul Revere And The World He Lived In by Esther Forbes.
A book about the famous ride that got strong reviews is Paul Revere’s Ride by David Hackett Fischer. I have not read this title.
If you have the good fortune to be able to visit Boston, you can tour the home where Paul Revere and his family lived.
Below is a picture of the Revere home that I took in 2008.
In Boston you can also visit the famous Old North Church.
This is the church where the lanterns were hung on the night of Paul Revere’s ride.
Below is a picture I took from inside the Old North Church in 2008.
Please allow me to be clear—You don’t need to go to Boston to learn about Paul Revere and his ride. All the information you need is at the library, the bookstore, and on the internet.
The things you need to learn about yourself and your world are all around you. These things are accessible with effort and imagination.
You are crazy if you allow other people to tell you about your past.
If you allow other people define your past—and by extension to define the person you are—you will lose control of your future.
Events Of American Revolution Do Not Offer Clear Answers For Today’s Issues—Everybody Is Welcome At Our Great Historical Sites
With the Fourth of July just over a month away, it’s time we take back our history from the right-wing Tea Party extremists who have been allowed to commandeer some portion of our past. The so-called Tea Party wants to use our shared American history in the service of the very un-American ideals of exclusion, and of benefiting the rich over the working man and woman.
One such Tea Party cell here in Texas is called the King Street Patriots. This Houston-based Tea Party outfit takes its name from the street in Boston where the Boston Massacre took place.
King Street is now known as State Street in Boston.
The effort to define our past is about finding justification for political positions in today’s debates. If we can prove that our viewpoints and actions in the present day match the intent of the folks who led the American Revolution, then we can claim that these viewpoints and actions have a special validity and are true to our founding ideals.
The picture above is of the Old Massachusetts State House on the former King Street. I took this picture while visiting Boston in 2008. The Boston Massacre occurred pretty much at the location from where I took the picture. The yellow balcony is the place where the Declaration of Independence was first proclaimed in Boston in 1776.
All people are free to visit this historic location. You can stand at the spot where the Massacre took place. You can tour the Old State House. People of all political beliefs are welcome. People of all nationalities are welcome. There are no immigration checkpoints to see if people have the proper papers. People of all religions are welcomed. Nobody feels compelled to offer a prayer at this great and important site that favors one religion over other religions.
Over the next few weeks I’m going to be writing about some aspects of early American history, and suggesting books and websites for people who would like to learn more.
The first book I’m recommending is Patriots–The Men Who Started the American Revolution by A.J. Langguth. Patriots is an accessible and detailed account of events leading up to the Declaration of Independence and the Revolutionary War.
Good luck in finding a clear ideological lesson for today in the events describes in Patriots or in any serious account of our independence.
Yes–In many ways the American Revolution was a tax revolt. At the same time, the streets of colonial Boston were covered with garbage and animal waste. Women were always pregnant and many died in childbirth. Many children died before reaching adulthood. Folks drank rum and beer all day long in part because clean water could be hard to find.
Would people back in colonial times have paid more taxes for better sanitation, better public health, and for clean water?
Who knows? Those folks are long dead and we live in a very different nation and world.
There is plenty to learn and understand from studying our past. We’ve got to know who we are and where we come from. But nobody can take events from more than 200 years ago, and feel that they now have all the answers to today’s public policy debates.
At least nobody who has any idea what they are talking about has this ability.
Don’t learn your history from this blog. And be certain that you don’t learn your history from far-right fanatics who glorify states rights and who want to return to the injustices of the past.
A clear example of why not to listen to representatives the far-right when they attempt to define our history can be found in this video clip of Sarah Palin talking about Paul Revere’s Ride. She simply has no idea what she is talking about.
Figure stuff out for yourself.
Don’t let other people define your past, and then seek to shape your future while you stand idly by.
Baseball fans may be aware of the saying “Spahn and Sain and pray for rain.”
(Above–Spahn on the left and Sain on the right.)
These words are about the 1948 Boston Braves. Warren Spahn and Johnny Sain were two starting pitchers on the ’48 Braves team that won the American League pennant and then lost the World Series to the Cleveland Indians.
The Boston Braves, after a stop in Milwaukee for a few years, are the current Atlanta Braves.
The words are, as I have learned in researching this post, from a poem written by a Boston sportswriter named Gerald Hern.
Here is the poem—
First we’ll use Spahn
then we’ll use Sain
Then an off day
followed by rain
Back will come Spahn
followed by Sain
by two days of rain
The poem conveys the idea that the only decent starting pitchers for the Braves where Spahn and Sain. It suggests the only way the Braves could win was to have Spahn pitch one day, Sain another day, and then hope for rainouts that would get Spahn and Sain back on the mound without having to use other pitchers.
I’ve been aware of this saying since I was a kid. I suppose I’ve long-believed it reflected the truth.
The thing is—It is not true. I was looking up some baseball facts the other day and I came across the 1948 Braves. I saw that the famous poem was not true.
This made me grumpy. Why do we often believe in things that are not true?
It is not true that Healthcare Reform comes with so-called Death Panels. (Read here about all the helpful aspects of Healthcare Reform)
And it is not true that the 1948 Boston Braves had only two decent starting pitchers.
Sain was a great pitcher in 1948. He pitched a number of innings, did not allow many runs to be scored, and won a bunch of games. Warren Spahn, however, did not in 1948 stand out from the other two pitchers in the Boston rotation.
Braves starting pitchers Bill Voiselle and Vern Bickford had solid seasons in 1948. Bickford was better than Spahn. Though Bickford’s superior performance was muted by the fact that Spahn helped his team by pitching over 100 more innings than did Bickford.
(Below–Vern Bickford baseball card. Bickford seems to have been a decent guy. He died of cancer at age 39. It is good we can recall him.)
Here are the pitching statistics for the 1948 Braves. Look it up for yourself.
Spahn had good years leading up to 1948 and he went on to a Hall of Fame career. However, in 1948, he was just one of three reasonably effective starting pitchers in the shadow of Sain.
People have been believing this story about Spahn and Sain for over 60 years.
I know this is a small matter given all the troubles we face in the world.
It is just that what we hold to be true is so often incorrect.
This is true in what we think about the world and it is true in what we think about the things in our personal lives.
Or, as the rap band Public Enemy once put it—Don’t Believe The Hype.
Many on the right on are criticizing Barack Obama’s support of the mosque near the former World Trade Center location in New York City.
Some of this criticism has come from backers of the so-called Tea Party.
Yet as these angry Tea Party folks attempt to claim they are the heirs to our Founding Fathers by calling themselves “Tea Party”, they forget one of the bravest acts of the Revolutionary era.
John Adams represented the British soldiers accused of the Boston Massacre. He did so in the defense of liberty and in the face of great public anger.
(In saying this, please make note that the people building the N.Y.C. mosque are guilty of nothing. And in fact, despite the public outrage over the Massacre, only two of the nine originally charged were convicted. Public opinion does not always get it right.)
Our modern Tea Party would not know the kind of honor and courage John Adams showed back in 1770.
The Tea Party asserts they know something about the Constitution.
But the truth is, like a political movement that flourished briefly in the 19th century, the Tea Party folks are Know Nothings.
Hyatt Hotels In Boston Outsource Housekeeping Staff For Much Lower-Paid Replacements—Governor Threatens Boycott
Hyatt Hotels in Boston have fired longstanding housekeeping employees and replaced them with outsourced and lower paid staff.
( Above–Boston is a great place to visit. But please do not stay at a Hyatt in Boston until they do right by the people who have worked hard for the company.)
It all started on Aug. 31 after the morning shift, when Hyatt Hotels’ corporate headquarters laid off the entire housekeeping staffs at the Hyatt Regency Boston, Hyatt Regency Cambridge and Hyatt Harborside Hotel, according to the Globe. Citing the tough economy, the existing housekeepers – some of whom at worked at the hotels for years – were fired. Hyatt then hired new workers from an out-of-state staffing firm, according to the story. And in a point now being disputed by Hyatt, the Globe also said that the housekeepers had to train their replacements after being told they would fill in for vacations…. Fast forward to this past Thursday. Several hundred hotel workers came out to rally against the firings in front of the Hyatt Regency Boston, chanting “Hyatt, shame on you,” according to the Globe..US Representative Michael Capuano and state Senator Anthony Galluccio called for a boycott of Hyatt, according to the Globe’s piece. “Maybe they should have just taken the chocolates off the pillows, I don’t know,’’ Capuano told the people assembled, according to the story. “If we let them do this, another hotel will do it, and then another business, and on and on.’’… The controversy kept snowballing today, with even the Harvard Business Review scolding Hyatt in its blog post headlined, “Lessons From Hyatt: Simple Ways to Damage Your Brand.”
Hyatt provides jobs for people and most of us need jobs. But we can’t get by in a nation where loyalty and good work has no value. Hyatt should bring back the dismissed workers. If wage cuts must be made, then deal with the people who have had a hand in making Hyatt a successful hotel chain.
When will American business places realize that if they hope to make money, that there are going to have to be workers and consumers who have good paychecks and steady work?
When will American consumers realize that a focus on price at the expense of everything else will lead only to a downward spiral of wages and benefits?
Above is the self-portrait of the great artist John Singleton Copley. This portrait was painted in 1784 when Copley was 46.
In 1784 Copley lived in England. He had been born in Boston in 1738 and lived there for most of his life until he left for Europe in 1774.
The timing of Copley’s departure for Europe just before the American Revolution was no accident. He was a loyalist. Copley never came back to the United States.
Sometimes, when frustrated with the general public, I look at Copley’s haughty self-portrait and entertain a brief monarchical sympathy. It’s like a stiff drink to get past a rough moment.
I think things out and always reject the option of a king or queen. I think the best way to support democracy is to be candid about the flaws of the masses. That way you are ready for what comes in politics and society.
Wife Is Certain To Realize I Exploded Bowl Of Clam Chowder In Microwave—I Must Now Deflect Her With Positive Clam Chowder Memories
I was making a bowl of clam chowder in the microwave a few minutes ago when I heard a big pop.
The chowder exploded all over the inside of the microwave.
No matter how well I try to clean this mess, my wife will know what has happened.
My wife, who is the best wife ever, is a kind and forgiving person.
It’s just that I know I’m going to leave some clam bits hanging off the top of the oven and that I won’t come near to getting rid of the clam smell. She has been working very hard today and does not want to come home to a big clam smell.
And I am always making some mess and this just might be all she can take from me.
Oh no…I just went and made an effort to clean the mess. There is chowder gunk and exploded clams everywhere.
I could try to blame the electric company for restoring our power yesterday after a few days in dark due to the recent hurricane. This would have never happened while we were unable to turn on the microwave.
But I don’t want to “point fingers” and play the “blame game.” No—I won’t go that route.
Instead, I’m going to remind her of the nice clam chowder she and I ate at the Union Oyster House in Boston just a few months ago. You see above the picture of this famous restaurant. My hope is that by shifting her thoughts to positive clam chowder experiences, I will be able to temper her justifiable consternation at my misdeeds. I’ll remind her that I did not spill or explode any of the clam chowder in Boston.
Those who know the wife and myself might counter that she is no fool and that I am a mess-making wreck.
That’s all true. I’m just hoping she forgets all that and just focuses on the time clam chowder brought us happiness.
The following about how Paul Revere saw life at age 50 is from Paul Revere And The World He Lived In by Esther Forbes—
“Very few people ever live their middle years in the same world they grow up in as children. None whose lives have been broken in two by a great war ever do, and none of Paul Revere’s generation did. They could fall to rioting, as they did in the western part of (Massachusetts.) They could slip into embittered old age as did Samuel Adams. Or they could take things as they found them and go ahead. Paul Revere did the last.”
Reagardless of if you’ve been in a war or not, this seemed to me a useful passage for people of all ages.
Paul Revere lived 1735-1818.
Above is a photo I took last night of a very large artichoke and, also, my copy of Paul Revere And The World He Lived In by Esther Forbes. I’m not fully sure the picture captures the size of the artichoke, but it was a big one.
Below is a picture of an artichoke field. I had never contemplated how artichokes were grown. Here is information about artichokes. It seems people have been eating artichokes for thousands of years.
Paul Revere And The World He Lived In was a Pulitzer Prize winner for history. It’s one of the best books I’ve read. You feel you are in Colonial Boston and that you have a sense of Paul Revere. Here is a review of the book from Time Magazine in 1942.
Both the Olympics in Beijing and the Democratic National Convention in Denver will have limited areas segregated for protests.
“Security” is cited.
Restrictions in China will be tighter than in Denver. Still, why are Democrats, yet again, accepting limiting protests to a certain area when people in America are supposed to have a right of free assembly? The restrictions in Boston four years ago were odious.
So-called “security” reasons are easily used by both dictatorships and more open nations, to curtail the inherent right of individuals to express their grievances.