HARRIET TUBMAN (1820 – 1913)

98f/41/hgmp/12611/mp306From Google, this is dedicated to Harriet Tubman, Activist, humanitarian, African-American abolitionist, humanitarian, and Union spy during the American Civil War. (See Wikipedia for more.)

She was born in 1820 in Dorchester County, MD and died on March 10, 1913, in Auburn, NY. Married to Nelson Davis (1869-1888) and John Tubman (1844-1851), she had one daughter, Gertie Davies. She was the child of Harriet Greene and Ben Ross.

There is a huge amount of information about Harriet Tubman available in libraries and across the Internet. Today is the first days of African-American History month. Google Harriet Tubman to find out wonderful things you will love to know.

Not all heroes wear uniforms.

On the non-existence of time

TimeTravelMy husband and I got to arguing about whether changing a single event could change — even derail — the course of history.

I think it’s possible. A small change at the just the right time could alter the outcome of something much bigger. If Queen Victoria had ordered her staff to clean up the drains of Windsor Castle — long-known as a breeding ground for typhoid — Albert would not have died when he did … and Victoria would have been a different woman and queen. And possibly, British imperialism might have followed a different course. How much would have changed? Not everything … but not nothing, either.

If Lincoln had not been assassinated, maybe some of the worst of the post Civil War divisions and hatred might have been averted. If King George had said “Fine. They can vote as British citizens. As long as they pay their taxes.” If the captain of the Titanic had slowed down and spotted the iceberg before hitting it.

nasa time machine

In our personal lives we see where had we chosen differently, many things down the line would be changed. In world history too, there are intersections. Moments when events collide, paths cross, times when history could march left, right or reverse direction.

Garry doesn’t agree. He thinks whatever happened was inevitable. With or without Prince Albert, the world was marching towards disaster. Had Lincoln lived, served his second term, he thinks the racial divisions and hatred in this country would have been unchanged. Maybe delayed by a few years, but no more than that.

TIME_MACHINEASSY_1We could have argued until dawn but other than sheer speculation, there’s no way to know. For this kind of speculation, we have science fiction and its peculiar sub-genre — alternate history. Unless, of course, we find a wormhole in time and step through.

I’m fascinated by time travel. I believe the history of everything would be completely changed had cell phones been invented earlier. If I were a time traveler, I’d give the world mobile communications technology around the time when the Greek city states were getting organized. Then I’d go back to my now and watch history unravel.

Time doesn’t exist. It’s a concept, not a thing. Which is why we can’t travel back to it. It isn’t a place. Time is a construct. It’s how we keep track of events, personally and globally. You can’t go back to a time and place in the past because it isn’t there. The future isn’t there either. Only the present exists and it’s a moving target.

delorean time machineWhich brings me back to our argument. Garry was right. By definition what happened is what had to happen The proof? It can never be changed. Everything that has ever happened was the only thing that could have happened. I can argue the other side, too. Arguments in which no one can possibly win are my favorites.

And that’s why I love time travel. Because it’s impossible.

Frank Brusca interprets Pickett’s Charge

See on Scoop.itTraveling Through Time  – See on georgerstewart.wordpress.com

July 3, 2013, was the 150th Anniversary of Pickett’s Charge at the Battle of Gettysburg.  I’ve already done a long post which describes George R. Stewart’s book about the Charge.

Today, on a lighter note, I’m sending out a new map of the event.  Frank Brusca, who’s a noted Stewart Scholar with special expertise in Stewart’s work on the U.S. 40 highway book, has done a tongue-in-cheek version of the battle map.

Here it is, for your enjoyment.  Notice the lower left hand corner.

Marilyn Armstrong‘s insight:

When we were in Gettysburg, it was very much like this. Americana!! Compare to “real” map :-)

Picketts-Charge

Pickett’s Charge (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

See on georgerstewart.wordpress.com

“Lincoln” is amazing on so many levels.

Lincoln movieIt’s exactly what you hope for in a historical movie … and so very rarely get. Spielberg not only made this wonderful movie well, he made it smart. Instead of trying to cover the entire Lincoln saga or perhaps myth, he focuses on the President’s last months on earth, the period following his reelection during which he pushed through the 13th amendment that finally eliminated slavery in the United States, and ended the war. You will see more about the man Lincoln than in any previous movie or documentary about Lincoln.

The performances are universally brilliant, as you would expect. This is the Hollywood A Team where the magic comes together. Everyone is in this movie — some not even credited but you will recognize them — even if only for a tiny cameo, as if being part of this movie was an honor.

And perhaps so.  I suspect actors volunteered for the privilege of being included. The script is intelligent, elegant, somehow managing to convey both the greatness of the man and his pained humanity. There is no reason for me to go into the details of the cast, writing, history, and so on. The  review published in the New Yorker covers those bases well and you can read it here or on its original site.

“Lincoln,” was written by Tony Kushner, directed by Steven Spielberg, and derived in part from Doris Kearns Goodwin’s “Team of Rivals.”

Daniel Day-Lewis has gotten the role of a lifetime and gave a performance that will probably define his career. Tommy Lee Jones, James Spader and so many others … literally too many to name … are all brilliant. There are not many big roles for women in this story, but I’d like to make a special mention of Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln. Her performance as First Lady gives this suffering woman the first real depth and three-dimensional portrayal I’ve ever seen. Mrs. Lincoln has in cinema and history been given short shrift, labeled a crazy lady, then dismissed.

That she was not quite “right” after the loss of her son is well-documented and disseminated, but she was more than a mere wacko. She was politically savvy and highly intelligent, albeit emotionally unstable and in great pain. Perhaps a more stable, supportive mate would have been able to provide some rays of light in the dark world of President Lincoln … but given the dreadful times through which they lived and were destined to play major and tragic roles, this couple was probably doomed to misery, even had Mary Todd been the incarnation of Pollyanna.

Cover of "Team of Rivals: The Political G...

Cover via Amazon

The enormity of their personal tragedies combined with the responsibility of being the nation’s leader at this particularly desperate historical turning point would have crushed anyone. Lincoln was a giant, but also a man with a wife, children and more than his share of family drama.

The movie is mesmerizing. The way it’s shot, moving from panorama to private moments keeps you on the edge of your seat. Even though the outcome is a foregone conclusion, you live through the battles on the floor of the House of Representatives and in the back rooms where agonizing bargains are struck as if you’ve never seen it before. It’s a painfully accurate and timely look at the real process of getting legislation passed, the viciousness, ruthlessness, chicanery and all else that goes into a process that hasn’t significantly changed over the past 150 years or more. Great cinema and a Real Politik civics lesson for young and old.

Most of the reviews I’ve read have emphasized the historical importance but failed to mention that this is a really compelling movie that makes you feel you have traveled back in time. It’s great drama with more than a dollop of wit and humor. Watch and chew your nails while Lincoln and his carefully picked team somehow push through an amendment to the constitution against staggering odds while simultaneously ending the deadliest war in American history.  It feels like you’ve never heard or seen it before. Spielberg manages to inject a level of tension and excitement that should be impossible. There are surprises, some of them very funny.

Given the subject matter, it’s amazing how often film will make you laugh. There are wonderful scenes, small and intimate, revealing of magic and myth. There are the mandatory “big scenes,” of  battlefields heaped with corpses, but most of the story takes places in small places, in sheds and basements, back rooms, parlors and hidden corners where the light is always dim. Everyone always looks cold … in the most literal sense. It’s winter without central heating and while no one mentions it (why would they? that was the way their world was), men and women alike constantly wrap themselves in blankets and shawls to fend off the chill. It makes you grateful for electricity and radiators, not to mention thermal underwear.

abraham-lincoln-tadLincoln is too tall for the world in which he lives. It can barely contain him or the sorrow he carries. He stoops, bent under the weight of impossible choices and ducks through doorways never high enough.

Go see this movie. Take your kids. Take the grandchildren. Then buy it on DVD and watch it again. Let it remind you of how painful it is to have a free nation and how heavy is the price we pay for the privilege.

This is grand entertainment, history, civics and drama wrapped in a story so insane it could only be true. To quote a familiar phrase, “you can’t make this stuff up.” You rarely get to see movies this good. It’s a treasure that will be even more appreciated in years to come.

Regardless of how many Oscars it wins … or doesn’t win … this is destined to be a classic. It can’t help it. It’s just got classic written all over it.

One more interesting note. When the movie ended and the credits started to roll, no one got up and left. No one at all. Every single person in the theater sat there and watched the credits until the screen went dark. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen that happen before.

♦ See more on www.newyorker.com

How many states were trying to secede after the 2012 election?

Not one single state filed anything suggesting secession.

Why? First, because no state government was stupid enough to lose the benefits they get from the central government. Secession is illegal. The Civil War decided the issue and there’s no going back. All of those petitions were put together by groups of discontented sore losers who didn’t understand in the United States, an election decides the issue.

We don’t govern by petition. We protect your right to petition (thank you, First Amendment), but that only means we don’t throw you in jail for doing it, not that your petition has force of law.  We don’t govern by opinion. We vote. No matter how often or how loudly you tell the world about your dissatisfaction on the Internet, on social media sites, or anything else, it’s the ballot box where we collect and count votes. We have a constitution. We have laws. We vote. We count votes. The winner is decided, the loser takes his marbles and goes home.

A petition by the losers of an election does not trump the right of the people of the United States to freely elect their representatives. That you have the right to petition doesn’t mean your petition is going to change anything. Its existence is a testament to how free a country this is. Most other places, you’d be jailed or shot.

75-ElectionNK-6

The reason that not a single state government has petitioned for secession is because no one running a state is as stupid as these petitioners. They know they can’t go it on their own and aren’t going to try. Not to mention that a state trying to secede is considered to be in rebellion, for which there are serious penalties. As for the argument that we seceded from England, we were never part of England. We were a colony, a far different legal position than that held by a state. We did not secede from England. We rebelled against English rule. We are heroes because we won, but had we lost, it would have been ugly. Rebellion is a serious matter and the price of losing is dreadful. Rebels are hanged or shot, pretty much universally, so anyone who thinks they ought to rebel needs to be prepared to die.

AN HISTORICAL NOTE: The American colonists’ first choice was not to break away from England. We wanted the rights of full British citizenship and full representation in Parliament. In other words, far from preferring rebellion, we wanted inclusion. We wanted our status as a colony upgraded to the British equivalent of statehood … something that our American secessionist wannabes already have … and are too ignorant to value.

No one is going to secede. Not now, not in the forseeable future. Maybe after the alien invasion, things will change. Until then, secession is a non-issue.

As for all the mindless, blood-thirsty idiots who think a civil war is a good idea:

The Civil War cost more than 620,000 American lives, above and below the Mason-Dixon line. Death doesn’t care what color uniform you wear or what color skin you have. Dead is dead. The war between the states caused more American deaths than all other wars this nation has fought combined. ALL of them combined. I don’t know the actual percentage of the population that perished in that hideous conflict, the gory legacy of which we are still dealing with 150 years later, but it was a very substantial percentage. Anyone who suggests that doing that again is a good idea is a criminal.

I don’t care what you believe. No one who values human life, believes in God, or has any kind of conscience or moral compass would suggest we take up arms and start slaughtering each other.

The Peacemakers.

If we are unable to live together, we will not survive as a nation. How can anyone claim to care about this country and then suggest we destroy it because they don’t like the President? Does this sound like patriotism?

There are too many people who have yet to grasp the concept that in a contest, there are always winners and losers. You, over there, with the sign and the sour face. You lost. Deal with it.

Respect the constitution. Work within our excellent system of laws. If you don’t respect our government enough to honor its fundamental principles, you really should go live somewhere else, if you can find anywhere else that will have your sorry asses.

Does it surprise anyone that the “leaders” of this bogus “movement” to secede are largely from the same states that produced the glorious Civil War? You think race might have something to do with it? The number of signatories, assuming that they could be verified as real people, does not come close to a majority of citizens of any state nor even enough to elect someone to congress. It’s just a bunch of malcontents trying to get media attention.  In other words, losers.