Tag Archives: history

1911 insane asylum…

“The Ballroom: A Novel” by Anna Hope –

“And though John did not know the man from before , he knew the brokenness on his face, the restless eyes—as though the world were a trap ready to spring upon you— had seen it on too many faces to count. And on most of them too, the same bafflement, as though unable to understand that this was where they had ended up.”

The shortest explanation of what’s wrong is that pileptics and “feeble minded” people made up too much of these asylums population. You should read about Carrie Buck who was the poster child for why the”feeble minded” and epileptics should be forcibly syerelized. It’s more complicated and more haunting than you think.

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Donald Trump and the Declaration of Independence


Earlier today I happened to pull up the Declaration of Independence in order to point out that that lack of a jury trial was one of the reasons the Colonists gave when they filed for Independence. Imagine my surprise when I easily spotted two more things that seem to be pertinent to this years Presidential Election. Without further ado, here’s a few things Donald Trump and George III have in common:

***Actually, since my process was to copy the list of grievances here delete the ones that weren’t applicable, as I find myself reading these, I’m finding some things that have something to do with other members of our government, so instead of deleting, I’m just going to give you the whole list of grievances and add my commentary to the side.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good. Well, Donald Trump has, what 3000 lawsuits attached to his name and companies? Didn’t he say that the Judge presiding over his Trump University case can’t be fair because the Judge has Mexican heritage? It’s not so much that Trump refuses to “Assent to Laws”, but he seems to assent to them under protest. He thinks that the laws are wrong because they disagree with him.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them. This sounds like the Governor of North Carolina telling the city of Charlotte that they can’t pass anti-discrimination laws.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only. D.C. is in limbo because they’re not a state and therefore have no representation in Congress.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures. 
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people. Well, this charge can be put on Paul Ryan and previous Speakers of the House who have refused to call the House into Special Session for stuff like Zika Funding and the Budget. The Senate leader has not done their duty in holding hearings on a new Supreme Court Justice.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands. Donald Trump wants to build a wall and start requiring entrance tests for immigrants. 
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers. I think this one involves the Senate again.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries. 
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance. My husband is concerned about this one. He’s afraid Trump will create a Gestapo-like police force. I don’t really see that happening, but Trump seems to like power and the authority that comes with it. The way he can’t let the slightest disagreement go, I wonder what he’d do if he had the power to do more than threaten to revoke a newspaper’s credentials.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:–Trump wants to shake up previously negotiated trade agreements, which will lead to uncertainty at best in the business community and at worst will really hurt industries that trade overseas.
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences–well, anyone who agrees with the Guantanamo Bay Prison is guilty of this one. One can argue that the prisoners there aren’t American Citizens and therefore aren’t eligible for our rights, but since the US is founded upon “Certain Inalienable Rights that all Men are Created Equal”, and the US likes to pretend that it’s morality is better than anyone elses in the world, treating anyone like garbage and unworthy of our laws seems hypocritical.
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies: See above.
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions. Oddly enough, it’s the act of calling foreigners “merciless savages” and striving to keep them out of the US that is “exciting domestic insurrections amongst us”. We  live in a modern globalized world, one where just because we have a different color of skin  or speak a different language doesn’t mean that we’re not all equal on the inside. To blindly label anyone is WRONG, yet Trump wants us to be against others.

An author’s error?

Or done on purpose to make this letter more realistic?!?

I studied history in college and read enough primary sources from 1700 to 1900 to easily recognise this letter as being extremely probable, a very welcome sight in a piece of historical fiction!

The interesting tidbit is this line below. If I remember correctly, Lord John told Jamie that the land was from his wife’s family. I even went back and checked to be sure (by the way, I love this latest update for some (all?) Kindle books that let’s you easily flip through pages quickly!).

In actuality (within this book, at least) the property was bequeathed to her son, Lord John’s stepson, but as would be very normal at the time and today, Lord John would be its executor until the child comes of age and back then, this wording would be common since as head of household, the husband would be considered the owner regardless of actual standing.

So, has Ms. Gabaldon forgotten the specifics of her story? Or has she purposely changed the tale to not only show a more real character (one who shares information as he interprets it), but also shows one of the problems of studying history–the trustworthiness of our primary sources, especially when it comes to information about women and children.

Based on other hints and circumstances I’ve come across in this book and its predecessors, I’m extremely confident that the latter is the case, which is also a little surprising since I’m pretty sure Ms. Gabaldon doesn’t include studying history in her author blurb.

And, as a side note, while drawing this line (below) with the – character, I learned that my Amazon Fire on screen keyboard has even more characters than I thought! The dash (-) kept giving me an underscore (_) whenever I tried to hold the key down to make it “run away” which was very confusing so I went to investigate what was happening. By depressing a character key for a full second, such as the dollar sign, it pulls up 5 more currency characters! And there are many other examples! Including percentages! I’m a dork, haha.
Drums Of Autumn (Outlander, Book 4) by Diana Gabaldon –

“Lord John determined that the lad must go to Virginia, where Lord John’s family has Substantial Property”

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Whitewashing real life in fiction

This reminds me of recent complaints about Game of Thrones and its portrayal of the rape of a woman. I don’t watch GoT, but the complaints I’ve heard from both the left and the right is that GoT is essentially using women in an abusive way because women are usually the victims GoT profits off the violence and bloodshed.

Well, I have to wonder. Do we as a society do worse when we paint a rosy colored world of “Leave it to Beaver” and pretend that women are never brutalized? I think that today, when a book, movie or TV show shows something graphic, the creators expect the audience to respond with revulsion and a vow that they would never condone such treatment. And I think that this IS the general response by viewers. They don’t like seeing it, but they know its real life (even in such a fictional world). Its not like not showing it will make it not happen!

The quote that inspired this post is below. These are slave children and we just met another slave who had his jaw half blown off by a pitch explosion. These boys are cooking just such a concoction.

“Drums Of Autumn (Outlander, Book 4)” by Diana Gabaldon –

“A small boy of seven or eight was perched on a high, rickety stool, stirring the pot with a long stick; a taller youth stood by with an enormous ladle, with which he removed the lighter layer of purified turpentine at the top of the kettle, depositing this in a barrel to one side.

As I watched them, a slave came out of the forest, leading a mule, and headed for the kettle. Another man came to help, and together they unloaded the barrels—plainly heavy—from the mule, and upended them into the kettle, one at a time, with a great whoosh of pungent yellowish pinesap.

“Och, ye’ll want to stand back a bit, mum,” Josh said, taking my arm to draw me away from the fire. “The stuff does splash a bit, and happen it should take fire, ye wouldna want to be burnt.””

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Test Post

This is a test post for my blog from “The Rival Queens: Catherine de’ Medici, Her Daughter Marguerite de Valois, and the Betrayal that Ignited a Kingdom” by Nancy Goldstone –

“The queen mother promised again to use her leverage with the Huguenot leadership to convince the Protestants to unilaterally lay down their weapons and withdraw.”

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I’m just trying to figure out what works and what things look like.

Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science– and the World

I picked this book mostly on a gut instinct based on the title and the cover while looking for my next book to blog for. I didn’t think twice about getting this one and ordered it immediately. When I received it in the mail, I was kind of astonished to realize that I’d already put it on my mental to-read list, though it hadn’t actually made it to my physical one on Goodreads. I’d stumbled upon the blurb originally during one of my monthly forays into the physical newspaper at work (I only browse it whilst waiting for my food to reheat in the microwave and usually don’t make it past the front page).

I can only say that I’m thrilled that this book reappeared in my life :-).

loved that the first mini-biography (or rather micro-biographies) was about Mary Putnam Jacobi (1842-1906) who put a lot of effort into writing a well researched paper on exactly why it was utter bullshit that educating women caused their ovaries to shrivel up and die (as was the leading argument by a male who didn’t like the idea of educating women). I though this the perfect place to start this amazing list of women.

However, if you were expecting to find a blurb on Marie Curie in this book, you’ll be sadly disappointed. I don’t really agree with the reasoning behind this omission (it’s discussed in the introduction)–that she’s simply too famous to be included. The methodology for choosing these 52 women (which does include Iréne Joliot-Curie, one of Marie’s daughters) doesn’t say that they must be women who were overlooked during their day. Unwittingly when I was ordering my books from the library for this month(s), I grabbed Almost Famous Women  where I do expect to find a lack of the usual favorites. The women in this book run the gambit of those who were ignored, stolen from, and those who were actually given a lot of praise sooner or later in their career (the category to which Curie belongs).

I have to say that I was somewhat disappointed by the limited scope of these micro-biographies. Generally, except for when a bit of author’s bias creeps in, these are cut and dry descriptions of where these ladies came from, what their passion was, and how they went about making their discoveries. There is just a bare hint that one of the reasons Jacobi was so pissed off by Clarke’s book (Sex in Education; or, A Fair Chance for Girls) was because she was a mother as well as a scientist, so obviously her ovaries hadn’t shriveled up beyond use. While I too find it appalling that the obituary that gave rise to this book listed Yvonne Brill’s “mean stroganoff” well before mentioning that she was a brilliant rocket scientist, I think it harmful to disregard how these women themselves felt about their circumstances.

I consider myself a “practical libertarian communist” with the communist aspect being relevant here: at work, I feel proud when we as a team succeed. I don’t need the personal accolades or recognition to feel like I’ve done a good job. I don’t even mind when someone else takes credit for something that I’ve done a lot of work on, namely because of the smug satisfaction I have knowing that without me they’d fall flat on their face. So long as I make a fair wage for the work that I’ve done, anyone and their brother can step in and claim all the glory. Of course, if they were able to reap the benefits of this glory without me benefiting as well (not foreseeable where I work), then I’d happily step aside and let the glory-takers prove their worth. Currently for me this “glory” is the responsibility of talking to customers and solving the problems that I try my damnest to prevent before they happen even though this is NOT my responsibility, which is why I can’t stop a good half of them.

Anyway, I just dislike when people decide that folks who are seemingly “oppressed” should feel outrage over their situation. Different strokes for different folks, as I say, so while it’s nice to see a generally cut and dry account of these women’s scientific achievements, I think it’s unfair to not list her children if at the end of the day she felt that that was her biggest achievement.

While these micro-biographies are informative, I think they should just be the jumping off point for further research. I know I plan to look into at least a few of these ladies more in depth. I may even finish Madame Curie which I set aside immediately after reading the part about her husband’s death. Otherwise it was a really good book!

I received this book for free from Blogging For Books in exchange for this honest review.

Awesome Ladies of Science
Awesome Ladies of Science by Tc43Industries
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Ah! The element of surprise!
Ah! The element of surprise! by Squidyes
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A drive in the country in Southeastern Virginia

My boyfriend loves to drive. No seriously, he LOVES to drive. Many moons ago (he’s old), he was a long-haul truck driver who went from Virginia to California and back to Virginia once a week. He’s calculated that he’s probably driven 5 million miles. Course, that was before a massive heart attack killed him 14 times when he was 39 years old leaving him with a defibrillator implanted and unable to pass a DOT physical.

Anyway, when he gets stressed, nothing relaxes him more than a drive. I don’t mind one bit–I was born to be in the passenger seat! Last weekend it was hot here and since the AC went out, we went for a 4 hour drive. We live in Southeastern Virginia (also known as Hampton Roads) and in case you didn’t know this, we are like the epicenter of early American historic areas. You can’t throw a stone without hitting something pertaining to early American history (disclaimer: I’m just talking English history post-Jamestown (which we have)–for Native American history, the South- & Midwest have us beat).

So yeah–want the first permanent English Settlement in North America? Historic Jamestown or the Jamestown Settlement. Here’s the insider’s tip: Historic Jamestown is where the settlers first landed and luckily the fort isn’t under the river!! It was only recently that archaeologists discovered that all three corners are indeed still on dry land; before that, they thought one or possibly two were underwater. The Jamestown Settlement is a full reenactment of what the site probably looked like during it’s heyday. It’s where you can see replicas of the 3 ships. Here’s the thing. The Jamestown Settlement is a private business with some state funding while Historic Jamestown is a National Park. There’s a price difference. They are neighbors though, so make sure you enter the correct parking lot.

We took the Jamestown-Scottland Ferry. It’s free and you can see both the Jamestowns (including whats visible of the original fort)! You can also see the recreated boats whose berths are kind of next to the dock (there’s a few trees in the way). The funniest part was having the GPS on the elevation setting and it saying we were 80 miles below sea level while on the ferry.

By the way, the “first” real attempt to settle, down in Roanoke, NC–just a few hours away from here.

Heh–I just learned something! While getting the link to the Jamestown Settlement, I noticed that they have a Yorktown Victory Center. Guess what–this is also not the museum you are necessarily looking for and there’s probably another big price difference. I don’t think I’ve ever been to this one, but I have been to the Yorktown Battlefield and it’s Visitor Center. You can walk this Battlefield for free or spend a few bucks to see the small museum. You can also walk a lovely path to the town of Yorktown or take a free trolley that links the two. Yorktown wasn’t really part of our driving tour, though we did drive through the “Historic Triangle”, so I’ll throw Williamsburg out here as well.

Anywho, back to the driving. He drove northwest where we saw plenty of farm land and what I teasingly call “congested areas”. I kid you not that while driving with my grandma to visit my aunt in Kentucky every time there were 10 buildings close to the road in what might be considered civilization (like, there’s a place to buy groceries and maybe a church), there’d be a sign warning about congested areas. We might see one car in each of these. Here in VA there aren’t any congested area signs like there, but the feeling stuck. I’m looking at Google Maps right now and I guess our route was roughly 258 to 460 to I-295 to 5 to 31 (where the ferry is) to home.

Route 5 is one that I can’t wait to take again. If your a Civil War buff, there are like 5 different plantations all connected by a gorgeous bike path (The Virginia Capital Trail) that starts at Jamestown and will eventually connect to the capital in Richmond (52 miles!). There’s a countdown clock on the website that indicate’s it’ll be done in 4 months (this post being written in late April 2015). Another name for part of Route 5 is the John Tyler Memorial Highway (for the 10th president) and one of the plantations on this road was his Sherwood Forest Plantation. I need to go here! I’ve been to Mount Vernon, Monticello, Montpelier, and the house in Staunton that claims Woodrow Wilson even though he only lived there from age 0 to 1. Still have 4 presidential houses to visit to complete Virginia’s eight. I know I can get my boyfriend to drive us, but we’ll see if he actually wants to tour. He doesn’t like big crowds, which was the downfall of Mount Vernon (I’ll make another post on these later).

Anyway, on this week’s blogging agenda is 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created, which has a fascinating take on slavery in the New World (among other things) and reasons why it thrived where it did and not so much where it didn’t. My dad had been taking a course via Coursera on slavery, but since he takes the classes for fun, he thought that required reading too much. I was reading this book at the same time and it ended up being exactly what he needed to better understand his course material.