I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe
The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken
Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell
April 23, 2016 - 12:47 p.m.
Last night was the first night of Pesach; how did I celebrate? I did laundry. I haven't done laundry in a long time. I needed that. Of course I procrastinated all day and waited till the evening. So how many ways am I an idiot? Too many. The bit thing is that when I do my laundry I put everything into two bags, one for whites and one for everything else. I put the detergent and bleach in with the whites and put the whites bag in the larger bag for colors. It weighs a ton so I roll it down the stairs in front of the house. Whoops, that made the bleach leak. Most of what got ruined is not a disaster, it's shirts that I sleep in and I'll keep wearing them. I'll keep wearing what was black underwear and is now shall we say creatively colored. The one that's bad is my Bobtown shirt. I'll have to get another one.
So remember when I missed a show because I had two mishaps at the laundromat, the second of which the dryer didn't dry the clothes? It happened again. There dryer was cold even though I chose hot. That's an extra 40 minutes, I hate that.
I have several ideas I was thinking of writing about. I spent a lot of last night planning on writing about loneliness. I have an odd difficulty spelling loneliness, I have to force myself to put the "e" in. That's an argument against it. The bigger reason is that I fear that writing about being lonely will result in me being lonelier. The act of blogging effects what I'm blogging about.
I'm going to write about people on US money. That's in the news and it gives us historical prospective. So the big news is that thanks to a musical Hamilton is staying on the $10. As they still want a bill with a woman on the front Jackson is getting kicked off the front of the $20 and Harriet Tubman is taking his place. People are being added to the backs of the bills too, suffragettes on the $10 and civil rights leaders on the $5.
Let's start with Hamilton. The idea of dropping him was ridiculous. If there was just one person to appear on US currency it should be Hamilton. He is the architect of the American economy. The modern uses of liberal and conservative are blurry when looking back to the country's founding; the issues were different. Hamilton now a darling of liberals was the leader of the conservatives. Yes, he was against slavery but that was never his big issue. But he was the anti-Bernie, he wanted to empower banks and finance. Jefferson's vision of America was as egalitarian nation of small farmers. Hamilton was an elitist. But he was right about economics. Of course part of that was being heretical by the standards of today's conservatives by thinking putting the newborn nation into debt was a good thing. The liberal Jefferson was against it. It is thanks to Hamilton that the US did not remain a backwater country with an economy dependent on agriculture and natural resources. He created the first Bank of the US and common currency.
Jackson was perhaps the worst person to have on money. Putting aside the genocide and bigotry, he closed the Second Bank of the US. He was against government control of money. Why was he on the money in the first place? He was very popular. I felt bad as a kid for not liking him as he was the first president that didn't come from the elite. He became rich but started as one of the common men and had their support against the economic elites. But the problem with populism is that the population is in general not well-informed and you become popular by appealing to emotions and fear is a powerful one. Again left and right mix oddly in those days by today's standards. Like Trump he was a xenophobe with an inversion. Trump is a nativist against immigrants, Jackson was an anti-nativist, against the Native Americans. They both said "those people" are preventing your prosperity so let's get rid of them. But like Bernie he railed against the banks and finance.
I used to have a notion, based on Hamilton, Woodrow Wilson, and Salmon P. Chase being on bills that people on US currency were important in the history of our money. That's just wrong, most aren't. But I always liked the idea.
So what about Tubman? She is not of the stature of the other people on the bills. She is not as significant as any of the people on the bills now in circulation. Yes, she was heroic but how is the world different because of her. She rescued hundreds of slaves but there were millions. There's a difference between personal heroics and making lasting changes. But if we use that criterion there are no women deserving of consideration for the simple reason that for most of our history women were not allowed to be put in the position of making decisions to change the course of history. So past prejudice becomes the justification for future discrimination. So I'm delighted that now we'll have a black woman on our money. I'd be happier if black women had equal opportunities as white men today so that in 100 years we can have a woman that changed the course of history on our money.
The civil rights trio on the back of the $5 is Eleanor Roosevelt, Marian Anderson and Martin Luther King Jr. I want to talk about Anderson. In a case of being a very good parent my father told me about her a number of times. Her story is part of my DNA. So here's how my father told me the story. Marian Anderson was a great singer, perhaps the greatest singer in the world, maybe the greatest singer ever. She was slated to sing at Constitution Hall in Washington D.C. It was owned by the Daughters of the American Revolution; they would not allow her to play because she was black. Eleanor Roosevelt resigned from the DAR in protest and then went further. She worked to get her a concert at the Lincoln Memorial with the audience on the Mall. Before there was MLK making history at the Memorial there was Marian Anderson. Here's a video of her there. Look at the audience.
To me the most important part of the story is that the first thing my father stressed was her greatness as a singer. In a fairer world she's have likely to have been an opera star. But we she did what she could and that was a lot.
Should we open pictures on our money for things totally unrelated to politics? I was always impressed that England had Isaac Newton on a bill. I'm not sure I actually want that. I don’t want it to be like stamps where we keep changing things up to give everyone a chance. Money should convey stability. But if we did expand the field who should be honored? I'd love Richard Feynman who I'd rate the greatest American scientist. How about Elvis? Mark Twain for sure. Who would you like to see?
Wow I just depressed myself with a quick thought back to loneliness. That means I should finish this and eat matzoh brei with peanut butter. Tonight I'm going to the best Seder in the world so that's what I'll write about tomorrow.
Brother Brothers in Arms - October 01, 2017
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