We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
... it looks like the Common Core is a back-door way for the federal government to exert tremendous influence over education. NCLB prohibits federal departments or agencies from mandating, directing, or controlling "a State, local educational agency, or school's specific instructional content, academic achievement standards and assessments, curriculum, or program of instruction." But that law proved to be a frail safeguard. Secretary Duncan funded new testing consortia in the hope, he said, that their tests would drive instruction and that they would work on "developing curriculum frameworks" and "instructional modules." Coupled with the Obama administration's Race to the Top program, its disregard for the constraints negotiated into NCLB, its expansive and troubling use of NCLB waivers, its aggressive efforts to dictate school discipline and to attack state-based voucher programs, and much else, there is cause to question how much restraint federal officials will show going forward. For instance, advocates have not created a strategy to update the standards or vet materials, prompting quiet conversations among Common Core proponents (including those at the Department of Education) about whether it wouldn't just make sense for the Department to fill the vacuum. At this point, the Common Core looks to be a standing invitation to further federal involvement in schooling.
You all know this already, but I just wanted to jot it down -
In the US, government has grown in importance as it has grown in power, in firepower, and in money. There was a time when nobody really cared about the federal government because it had no impact on daily life.
The Civil War, the Progressive Era of Wilson and Teddy Roosevelt, etc. changed all that. Government changed the culture. Over 100 years, government trained the masses to think "government should do something" whenever life presents them with obstacles, challenges, heartaches, bad luck, and expenses.
To win votes and to enjoy power, government decided to turn citizens into neo-serfs and to cement the impulse to turn to government instead of to God, to their own ingenuity, to family, to neighbor, etc. This infantilises people, weakens them, takes away their dignity.
Nowadays, everybody has his laundry list what government should do for them in their own interest. It is like a list for Santa. I want governments to do less and less.
A very fine American state, Kentucky. But the guy left out gravy. They make serious gravy for grits or biscuits in Kentucky. I'd have it for any meal (but not that disgusting hot-dog gravy they like in coal country).
One historical detail I picked up in reading Philbrick's wonderful Mayflower is that the Pilgrims only permitted civil marriage ceremonies - no religion involved, and no preacher present.
As Calvinists, the Pilgrims/Puritans/Separatists of colonial New England viewed the Anglican sacraments as Papist, and thus representative of the Anti-Christ - and they meant it. As a consequence, Congregational Churches, the heirs of the Puritan movement, still have no sacraments per se, although many have liberalized (or backslided?) to the extent of doing baptism, communion - and, of course, weddings which, even if not technically sacramental, are viewed as sacred vows. People long for a touch of the sacred and sacramental.
It is fascinating to be reminded that our nation's deepest roots are in Calvinist theocracy: pre-enlightenment, for better or worse. They viewed the Indians as equals (though living in spiritual darkness), but they hung some Quakers in Boston as blasphemers (but mainly tried to just send them away).
They even hung an ancestor of mine, who ran away from her husband and kids in Kingston, Rhode Island and was caught on a trail outside of Boston, headed north. Her crime? She refused to return home. We suspect she was not overly fond of her husband, who had previously been suspected of throwing his first wife overboard on the way to Rhode Island in 1640.
Whatever their position on the political spectrum, almost all of those who govern us hold to some version of the melioristic liberalism that is the West's default creed, which teaches that human civilisation is advancing - however falteringly - to a point at which the worst forms of human destructiveness can be left behind. According to this view, evil, if any such thing exists, is not an inbuilt human flaw, but a product of defective social institutions, which can over time be permanently improved.
Paradoxically, this belief in the evanescence of evil is what underlies the hysterical invocation of evil that has lately become so prominent. There are many bad and lamentable forces in the world today, but it is those that undermine the belief in human improvement that are demonised as "evil."
Cape Cod began growing in European (English) population around 1630.
Farming and fishing were the main occupations. The soil was rich then due to the old forests. Today, there is no topsoil left. By 1750 there were few trees left on the Cape due to lumbering, land clearing for farming, and for fuel. The scrub oak and pine that predominate today is not the tall virgin hardwood forest that the colonists encountered.
Everybody grew things and raised animals. There was not much cash except from fishing and boat-building, and there were no shops. Main subsistence crops: orchards, maize, pumpkin and squash, root vegetables, beans, rye. No wheat, no flour, no sugar unless very wealthy - but there was molasses from the West Indies. Also, pigs, steer, milk cows, chickens, and horses for transportation. Cranberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries grew wild. There were plenty of deer and rabbits too, and of course abundant shellfish. Beans with a little pork was a standard meal. People baked their bread once a week, made of mixes of corn (maize) and rye flour. Food: Early American food and drink
When you slaughtered a hog or steer, you shared the meat with neighbors. They did the same.
You were allowed to shoot a wolf or a "problem Indian" but the Indians were not much of a problem and soon settled into Indiantowns and learned English. King Philip's War was not a big deal on Cape Cod.
A village Meeting House served many purposes including local government meetings and church. Most of the early congregations were "united," ie Methodist and Congregational worshipping together. In the early days there was a hot market for pastors and Harvard began grinding them out in 1636 to meet the demand. Like the Boston colonists, the Cape Codders were not Puritans like the Plymouth group.
Other than local rules made in town meetings, there was no "government" in evidence at all. Town officials were by vote, and volunteers. There were no police but there were informal militias. Every adult male citizen was required to own a firearm (mostly matchlocks). Later on, recruiters would pass through towns demanding recruits for the French and Indian War. The structure of grammar schooling varied widely from village to village.
Truancy from church was a crime. So was swearing. Sunday church services generally had two one-hour sermons and around an hour of prayer. The service was around four hours in all. No music, of course, and no communion. Those were Papist things. Each church had a guy assigned to wake up drowsers with a long stick with a feather on one end (for the ladies) and a knob on the other end (to conk the drowsy men on the head). A fun task, no doubt.
Thanksgiving: There were fall harvest Thanksgiving feasts all over the Cape. Nothing to do with the original Pilgrims, just a traditional harvest time thanks to God. The Pilgrim Thanksgiving? They had very little to be thankful for with half their group dead in that first winter, but they were anyway. Remember, they were headed for the already established town of New Amsterdam (New York), not Massachusetts. Got blown off course.
There were windmills all over the Cape, very early. Their main purposes were making corn or rye meal, or for filling up salt flats for salt production (to make salt cod).
Fishing meant mostly Cod on George's Bank, but later Mackeral too. Some guys were fishing schooner skippers by 25. Some of them went on to be transoceanic ship captains. There was some near-shore whaling, and the occasional stranding of a pod of Blackfish (aka Pilot Whales) was hitting the jackpot.
Death: Mainly infectious diseases of early childhood. Some TB in young adulthood. Also, puerperal fever killed a lot of wives so men often went through a series of them. After that, fishermen drowning was the main cause - which provided widows for the widowers. If you escaped those things, most people lived into their 80s. (Those childhood death rates and accident death rates are what skews old-time life expectancy data and thus the averages are meaningless.)
Illumination and heat: Fireplaces for heat, and one in the kitchen for cooking. Wood stoves came much later. Bayberry candles, whale oil lamps.
Transportation, etc: Roads were terrible. Transportation was mainly by water and to be a town you needed a harbor. With its fine harbor, Provincetown was the largest on the Lower Cape. Early on, there was regular travel and mail, via Boston packets.
We might consider these settlers poor and deprived, but all they saw was abundance, faith, and hope. Life was hard and highly uncomfortable (by our standards), and was expected to be. You fended for yourself. If judged utterly helpless, the church came to your aid.
Housing: The history of colonial housing is an interesting one, mostly borrowed from England and from Holland in areas around New York. However, the rural Cape Cod cottage was an American invention and typical on colonial Cape Cod. No plumbing. Every village had an amateur post and beam carpenter in an era where most trades were amateur and everybody was a farmer, including schooner skippers, pastors, and doctors.
President Obama’s executive amnesty violates the laws Congress has passed in order to create and implement laws Congress has refused to pass. The President is providing an estimated 5 million illegal immigrants with social security numbers, photo IDs and work permits—allowing them to now take jobs directly from struggling Americans during a time of record immigration, low wages, and high joblessness.
This amnesty plan was rejected by the American people’s Congress. By refusing to carry out the laws of the United States in order to make his own, the President is endangering our entire Constitutional order.
Well, almost. But this is one block south of Five Points, one of the stops along the way. The 'Collect Pond', which was filled in to create Five Points, wasn't too far from the site depicted here. It's hard to think of Manhattan as rural or bucolic. It was quite so, long before the paved roads, subways, playgrounds, skyscrapers, and parks.
I never learned in school that a president can make his own laws whenever he is frustrated by Congress, but the NYT says it's ok to do that. I can easily imagine what they would say with a Conservative pulling something like that. Anyway, what's the urgency?