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From December 15, 1941, “We Hold These Truths,” a dramatic radio broadcast celebrating the Bill of Rights. It’s an hour long, so grab a cup of tea or what have you, and settle into a comfy chair – or put on headphones and head out for a nice long walk, or whatever it is you like to do while getting educated by audio. It’s well worth a listen, I think. (Parental guidance is suggested for young children, for a portion dedicated to terrors the amendments are designed to protect against.)

From the website:

Narrated by James Stewart. Featuring Edward Arnold, Lionel Barrymore, Walter Brennan, Bob Burns, Dane Clark, Walter Huston, Elliott Lewis, Marjorie Main, Edward G. Robinson, Rudy Vallee, and Orson Welles, among others. Not to mention Leopold Stokowski leading the New York Philharmonic through “The Star Spangled Banner.”

hat tip: @RealTimeWWII on Twitter

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A British immigrant to America discusses Thanksgiving, and other just slightly alien aspects of America.

 

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Government has a nasty tendency to overgrow its proper boundaries. (You might have noticed that?) That’s why showdowns between different branches of government, or between the Senate and the House, aren’t necessarily a bad situation overall. Thoughts on the Shut Down at Breakpoint helps explain why.

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7 Quick Takes Friday

1. Are you a woman about to get married? Are you considering going to a hyphenated last name? Read this first. Actually, you might want to read it even if you don’t fit the description I just gave, because it’s funny, and has good advice.

2. The plot to save America. Actually, it’s a look at currently popular ideas kicking around to revive the Constitution, and to kickstart the proper power of the states again, but we need to start somewhere.

3. How about a fun, totally clean, biology lesson? Check out the gears on the back legs of this little creature. Yes, gears. The planthopper is set up so both hind legs move together.

4. Put your thinking cap on. Deep Roots at Home has compiled a list of a hundred-plus “whole-hearted” books for children. What would you add to the list?

Shortly before coming across that list this week, I started reading Robinson Crusoe on my Kindle. That puts me at fifth grade on the list… Hey, what can I say? I’m a boomer. We were pretty much deprived of classics in school, right up through college, and I’m still catching up to my ancestors, who were better read, over all.

5. Speaking of that, I finished Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens this week. As usual, Dickens has some wonderful observations and great characters, and it was well worth the read. But he lost me on a few corners on this one. I had to go back and reread parts of it along the way, and after I’d finished I went online to check a couple of things, to make sure I understood him correctly. If it had just been something that would have been current in his day, but unfamiliar in mine, I probably wouldn’t mention it – but it wasn’t that. I had to conclude that, at least in literature and history, I wasn’t up to the standards of the general public of Dickens’ day. It’s not like he was writing for elites, after all.

It also struck me while reading this book that if I didn’t know the Bible, I would have missed a lot. And I mean a lot. That’s true of most Western literature up until recently, I’ve found.

6. Speaking of literature, words, and standards, Anthony Esolen’s Word of the Day column is usually entertaining as well as learned. Sometimes it’s useful, too, although I might as well admit that sometimes it sails right over my head. Still, it’s a good resource, and it’s free. And did I mention that it’s often fun?

7. Speaking of Anthony Esolen, have you seen his five-minute Prager University video addressing Were the Middle Ages Dark? Good stuff.

For more 7 Quick Takes Friday posts, please visit Conversion Diary.

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in the late 1800s.

Wonderful photographs.

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I rather like this 2011 commencement address by Robert Blackstock. A taste:

There it is. A start. We want you to think well and often. The point bears mention, of course, because the difficulties we face as a nation, and the difficulties which you will face in college this fall, were caused in no small part by successive generations of leaders who did not think well. It’s not so much that they lack acuity or native intelligence. Rather, they have lost track of which ideas bore good fruit and which ill.

Having marched up the long and arduous road from 1776 to unprecedented freedom and prosperity, we as a nation have forgotten the ideas on which this freedom and this prosperity were first built. The danger is real and it is present. We stand to lose the blessings of liberty, if we do not reclaim those principles and habits without which those blessings cannot stand. This is an urgent concern for you, because the national conversation about ideas is especially pointed and especially off-track in our colleges and universities.

 

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… to a foreign friend, Giovanni Fabbroni, updating him on the war, on scientific experiments, and bemoaning the state of music in America:

SIR, — Your letter of Sep. 15. 1777 from Paris comes safe to hand. We have not however had the pleasure of seeing Mr. De Cenis, the bearer of it in this country, as he joined the army in Pennsylvania as soon as he arrived. I should have taken particular pleasure in serving him on your recommendation. From the kind anxiety expressed in your letter as well as from other sources of information we discover that our enemies have filled Europe with Thrasonic accounts of victories they had never won and conquests they were fated never to make. While these accounts alarmed our friends in Europe they afforded us diversion. We have long been out of all fear for the event of the war. I enclose you a list of the killed, wounded, and captives of the enemy from the commencement of hostilities at Lexington in April, 1775, until November, 1777, since which there has been no event of any consequence. This is the best history of the war which can be brought within the compass of a letter. I believe the account to be near the truth, tho’ it is difficult to get at the numbers lost by an enemy with absolute precision. Many of the articles have been communicated to us from England as taken from the official returns made by their General. I wish it were in my power to send you as just an account of our loss. But this cannot be done without an application to the war office which being in another county is at this time out of my reach. I think that upon the whole it has been about one half the number lost by them, in some instances more, but in others less. This difference is ascribed to our superiority in taking aim when we fire; every soldier in our army having been intimate with his gun from his infancy. If there could have been a doubt before as to the event of the war it is now totally removed by the interposition of France, & the generous alliance she has entered into with us. Tho’ much of my time is employed in the councils of America I have yet a little leisure to indulge my fondness for philosophical studies. I could wish to correspond with you on subjects of that kind. It might not be unacceptable to you to be informed for instance of the true power of our climate as discoverable from the thermometer, from the force & direction of the winds, the quantity of rain, the plants which grow without shelter in winter &c. On the other hand we should be much pleased with contemporary observations on the same particulars in your country, which will give us a comparative view of the two climates. Farenheit’s thermometer is the only one in use with us, I make my daily observations as early as possible in the morning & again about 4 o’clock in the afternoon, these generally showing the maxima of cold & heat in the course of 24 hours. I wish I could gratify your Botanical taste; but I am acquainted with nothing more than the first principles of that science; yet myself & my friends may furnish you with any Botanical subjects which this country affords, and are not to be had with you; and I shall take pleasure in procuring them when pointed out by you. The greatest difficulty will be the means of conveyance during the continuance of the war.

If there is a gratification which I envy any people in this world, it is to your country its music. This is the favorite passion of my soul, & fortune has cast my lot in a country where it is in a state of deplorable barbarism. From the line of life in which we conjecture you to be, I have for some time lost the hope of seeing you here. Should the event prove so, I shall ask your assistance in procuring a substitute, who may be a proficient in singing, & on the Harpsichord. I should be contented to receive such an one two or three years hence, when it is hoped he may come more safely and find here a greater plenty of those useful things which commerce alone can furnish. The bounds of an American fortune will not admit the indulgence of a domestic band of musicians, yet I have thought that a passion for music might be reconciled with that economy which we are obliged to observe. I retain for instance among my domestic servants a gardener (Ortolans), a weaver (Tessitore di lino e lin), a cabinet maker (Stipeltaio) and a stone cutter (Scalpellino laborante in piano) to which I would add a vigneron. In a country where like yours music is cultivated and practised by every class of men I suppose there might be found persons of those trades who could perform on the French horn, clarinet or hautboy & bassoon, so that one might have a band of two French horns, two clarinets, & hautboys & a bassoon, without enlarging their domestic expenses. A certainty of employment for a half dozen years, and at the end of that time to find them if they choose a conveyance to their own country might induce them to come here on reasonable wages. Without meaning to give you trouble, perhaps it might be practicable for you in [your] ordinary intercourse with your people, to find out such men disposed to come to America. Sobriety and good nature would be desirable parts of their characters. If you think such a plan practicable, and will be so kind as to inform me what will be necessary to be done on my part I will take care that it shall be done. The necessary expenses, when informed of them, I can remit before they are wanting, to any port in France, with which country alone we have safe correspondence. I am Sir with much esteem your humble servant.

Find this letter and other American documents at The Avalon Project.

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