Greed

Just as you can lead a horse to water, but can’t make him drink…

You can lead a President to facts, but you can’t make him think.

Remember the Greek myth of King Midas who wanted gold so badly that everything that he touched turned to gold?   He couldn’t eat gold food.   He couldn’t take gold with him when he died.  After a while, all he could do was sit on his golden chair.  (King Midas-Wikipedia)

Money is not evil, but the all-out pursuit—what and how you get it—can be evil.   Who are you stepping on or killing to get it?   Money can rule your life.  Cases in point.   The contamination of the water supply in Flint, Michigan, and the nerve of the city still asking residents to pay their water bills when they can’t drink or use the water.  The lack of help for Puerto Rico by a government that doesn’t know that Puerto Rico is part of the United States (an unincorporated U.S. territory, U.S. citizenship granted 1917, though no vote in U.S. elections, Wikipedia), and the nerve of that same government demanding that any help be paid back.   The examples are ad infinitum—they go on forever.

“It’s about greed.  King Midas is just a tool used to teach us about the dangers of being greedy.  Fancy people call this kind of story a parable:  a short story with an obvious moral or life lesson.”  (https://shmoop.com)

I’m not talking about rich people.   There’s a great difference between wealth and greed, especially if the wealth was earned in a way that benefits the world.   Every greedy person who is ruining the only Earth we have will soon find that out.  Payback cometh!

Written by Rosa L. Griffin

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Review of book, Baltimore: A Not So Serious History, by Letitia Stockett

Ms. Stockett, a Baltimore teacher in 1926, was successful at giving a cultural view of how Baltimore, Maryland came into existence in her book, Baltimore: A Not So Serious History, published in 1997 by Johns Hopkins University Press.   The book is rich in imagery and detail.  Her tour of the Baltimore region is presented in flashbacks by neighborhoods and street intersections.

She began on Charles Street at Mount Vernon Place and wrote of specific historic details covering  the years 1500 to 1900.  When she was finished with an intersection or neighborhood, she went on methodically to the next.  There was a great deal of overlapping and repetition which I appreciated.  This helped to connect different events and people.

What I really liked was Ms. Stockett’s style of telling the story as if it were hot news or local gossip—the kind of telling where you wished you were a fly on the wall to be able to hear it for yourself.

I loved her anecdotes about real Baltimore citizens’ and visitors’ personal relationships and lives.  Hetty Cary was a famous female Confederate spy.  The Peabody family’s original name was Boadie and they were from Ireland (even Ms. Stockett admitted the lineage from the Celtic “wild woman”, Boadicea, was questionable).  Betsy Patterson, Baltimorean, married Jerome Bonaparte without Napoleon’s permission, and was refused entrance to France in her pregnant condition.  John Wilkes Booth, assassin of President Lincoln, had a proud family lineage in Baltimore.  Russia requested and got American engineers to build railroads for the Czar.  Fires, riots, inventions, songs, art, and yellow fever bouts were also detailed.

The other thing I liked was her imagery of how the region looked from trees like the locust “with their heavy ivory perfume” to the origin of the Jones Falls.  But, there were also times when you couldn’t tell if the quotes were hers or someone else’s.  There was mention also of terms and names that were left unexplained, as if she assumed that you knew those things.  In Ms. Stockett’s opinion, something historic always had to be destroyed for progress to come.

However, no other religion except Christian (in a time of freedom of religion) or any other race except white accomplished anything by Ms. Stockett’s account.  Now she was a feminist when it came to women’s accomplishments during and after women’s “days of their servitude” as eye candy and property, otherwise there is nothing politically correct about Ms. Stockett’s book.

She had definite opinions of races and ethnic groups in this 1997 edition, which I assume reflected the attitudes of her day.   American Indians attacked Baltimore or were represented as wooden Indians in front of tobacco stores.  African Americans yelled “deviled crabs” at Lexington Market or were represented as wooden hitching posts for horses.  I’m sure I’m fair in saying that minorities were accorded perhaps 10 phrases in the whole book, mostly derogatory.    I would be interested in reading her original book.

Written by Rosa L. Griffin

 

 

Did You Know?   U.S. Time Zones

Before the 1800’s, people judged the time of day by the position of the sun, but railroad builders saw that the sun’s position changed depending upon what part of the country you were in—thus time zones were established in the U.S.  “The expansion of transport and communication during the 19th century created a need for a unified time-keeping system.”

The program covered railway travel of every kind from city subways to mountain rail lines—from the Atlantic to the Pacific through 4 time zones.   A 3,000-mile journey that was traveled in 6 months, now takes only 5 days.

The program showed how the building of train routes affected everything:  the traveling “towns” which followed the trains, mining, the contributions of the Chinese, the harm to the lifestyle of Native Americans, the effect of the outcome of the Civil War, etc.  In 1846 Truckee, California, there was a winter so bad that the travelers (Donner and Reed wagons) through their mishaps and mistakes (starting late, taking a shortcut, etc.) had to resort to cannibalism to make it.

“Tough Trains:  The Transcontinental Railroad, USA”, traveler Zay Harding, Globetrekker,  http://www.globetrekkertv.com, (2017), WETA UK

Evan Andrews, “10 Things That You Should Know About the Donner Party”, April 14, 2016, http://www.history.com

“Why Do We Have Time Zones?”, http://www.timeanddate.com.

“Railroads Create the First Time Zones”, November 18, 1883, http://www.history.com

Written by Rosa L. Griffin

Did you know? Pocahontas

There are so many stories of Pocahontas, mostly romanticized as in Disney’s Pocahontas movie.

Supposedly, Pocahontas was kidnapped at 17 from the Powhatan tribe and paraded around England.   She is said to have died at 21.   John Smith is said to have started the rumor of her helping him.    www.looper.com/10289/

This Native American woman, Pocahontas, was born Matoaka, known as Amonute, circa 1596-1617. She was notable for her association with the colonial settlement at Jamestown, Virginia.   Pocahontas was the daughter of Powhatan, the paramount chief of a network of tributary tribal nations in the Tsenacommacah, encompassing the Tidewater region of Virginia.  Wikipedia also agrees that the John Smith tale was probably untrue.

In 1613, Pocahontas was captured by the English during Anglo-Indian hostilities, and held for ransom.   During her captivity, she converted to Christianity and took the name Rebecca.  She chose to remain with the English.

In April 1614, she married tobacco planter John Rolfe, and bore him a son, Thomas.

In 1616, the Rolfe’s traveled to London where Pocahontas was presented to English society as the “civilized savage” in hopes of stimulating investment in the Jamestown settlement.

In 1617, Pocahontas died of unknown causes in transit to Virginia and was buried in St. George’s Church, Gravesend.

For more information, check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pocahontas.

Submitted by Rosa L. Griffin

Gone with the Wind, book and movie

Posted 9/4/17  to http://www.chicagonow.com/friendly-curmudgeon/2017/09/gone-with-the-wind-banned-in-memphis-actually-indicts-the-confederacy/

friendlycurmudgeon@yahoo.com

I also enjoyed Gone With the Wind because I like movies that are historical, showing how people lived back then–the housing, costumes, songs, etc.

As a Black woman, I agree that things have gone too far when we are trying to ban or get rid of everything historical.   I also agree that no confederate flags should be flying over any municipal or federal buildings anywhere in the U.S.

But I don’t have a problem with white peoples’ showing pride for their own history on their personal belongings.  Remember, the Dukes of Hazzard–a popular tv show–had their General Lee car.  And, remember, the statues were dedicated during a different era.

Museums are the places for the statues, etc. dedicated to slavery and prejudice.  Like I saw engraved on a monument to the Jewish holocaust, “If we forget the past, we may fall prey to these evil things again” (paraphrased).   But, I suspect that U.S. President No. 45 missed the whole point of protesters being able to protest the statues without getting shot or bludgeoned.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”  George Santayana, 20th century Spanish-American philosopher associated with Pragmatism.

https://en.m.wikiquote.org/wiki/George_Santayana

Written by Rosa L. Griffin