some history for president’s day, summer beach grass, skills kids should learn


On Feb. Feb 17th, 1801 the House broke the electoral college tie, chooses Thomas Jefferson as president over Aaron Burr ( the man who killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel).  In 1776 Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence on this portable desk of his own design,

The portable desk on which Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence

The desk continued to be Jefferson’s companion throughout his life as a revolutionary patriot, American diplomat, and president of the United States. While the drafts of the Declaration of Independence were among the first documents Jefferson penned on this desk, the note he attached under the writing board in 1825 was among the last: “Politics as well as Religion has its superstitions. These, gaining strength with time, may, one day, give imaginary value to this relic, for its great association with the birth of the Great Charter of our Independence.”

On November 14, 1825, Thomas Jefferson wrote to his granddaughter Eleanora Randolph Coolidge to inform her that he was sending his “writing box” as a wedding present. Jefferson’s original gift of an inlaid desk had been lost at sea and his portable writing desk was intended as a replacement. The desk remained in the Coolidge family until April 1880, when the family donated it to the U.S. government.

Note the sardonic reference to “imaginary value” like that gained by politics and religion with the passage of time. he seemed to recognize that often the values comes from beliefs seems to gain the patina of  reverence whether warranted or not. Not a lot of notable people in history Jefferson could have an outsized ego at times. That note as well as the one he sent with the desk as a gift showed the humble more reflective side.

February 22 is President’s Day – originally to honor our first president George Washington. Now Lincoln is thrown in as some kind of convenience. What if Washington was not our first president. Or he was but he wasn’t.

When all of the states ratified the Articles of Confederation in 1781, they voted for the first President.  John Hanson from Maryland was the first man to serve as the elected President of Congress under the Articles of Confederation, thus making him acting President of the United States.  He was born on April 3, 1715.

Article IX from the Articles of Confederation states, “The United States in Congress assembled shall have authority to appoint a committee, to sit in the recess of Congress, to be denominated ‘A Committee of the States’, and to consist of one delegate from each State; and to appoint such other committees and civil officers as may be necessary for managing the general affairs of the United States under their direction — to appoint one of their members to preside, provided that no person be allowed to serve in the office of president more than one year in any term of three years;…”

As President of Congress, John Hanson was charged with presiding over the management of the general affairs of the United States for a short of about one year. More information about the office of the President under the Articles of Confederation can be found in the Letter Books of the Presidents of Congress, Samuel Huntington, Thomas Mckean, John Hanson, Elias Boudinot, Thomas Mifflin, Richard Henry Lee, and Arthur St. Clair, 1781-1787 (National Archives Identifier 2050101).

Federalists such as John Jay also fulfilled the role of President of Congress, but the status of his presidency was unequal because the states were not unified under a charter such as the Articles of Confederation or the Constitution. The line of United States Presidents began with John Hanson and his successors continued to serve as weak executives under the Articles until the ratification of the Constitution.  Article II of the United States Constitution firmly established the executive branch of government and strengthened the role of the Presidency.

John Hanson

Washington was out first Constitutional president. Even than our elected representatives saw that a lose confederation of states was unwieldy and unworkable as a genuine nation. A baker’s dozen of little countries under the banner of one country. Why they seemed to immediately see the error of their ways and change course is remarkable in contrast to those modern advocates of creating a country that contained fifty little countries under a confederation.

February is also noted for the month the infamous Zimmermann Telegram was intercepted in 1917,

Decoded in the days after it was intercepted by British Naval Intelligence, Germany’s Zimmermann Telegram was ultimately revealed to the initially incredulous American Embassy in late February 1917.  In the telegram Germany proposed a military alliance with Mexico against the United States, promising in return the restoration of lost territories such as Arizona, Texas and New Mexico.

Zimmermann Telegram

Jon Stewart Rips Fox News Sausage Meeting For Comparing Obama Birth Control Mandate To Nazi Germany (VIDEO). When people who believe they have a right to have dominion over their own body and use contraception start dragging people out of their homes and sending them to death camps, conservatives might be on to some actual Nazi-like behavior.

Reading this – Dear Young Ladies Who Love Chris Brown So Much They Would Let Him Beat Them – or rather the tweets by those women – was one of those what the hell is wrong with some people moments. Lucky for them they will probably never know Brown – Why Chris Brown Is Even Worse Than You Thought, He not only beats women—he makes a conscious choice to beat women. As the article notes there is hope for men who abuse because they were abused. Psychotherapy has a fairly good record in treating those men. Some men like Brown enjoy beating women because they like it, because they enjoy the pain and humiliation they inflict. There might be hope for him, but not until he admits that he has a problem and has that epiphany that the way he sees women and the world is deeply twisted.

crashed yellow paper plane

Eric Klinenberg on Going Solo – The surprising benefits, to oneself and to society, of living alone

You argue that the widespread assumption that living alone is a negative trend is flawed. What are some benefits you’ve noticed for people living alone?

Well, one thing is that we need to make a distinction between living alone and being alone, or being isolated, or feeling lonely. These are all different things. In fact, people who live alone tend to spend more time socializing with friends and neighbors than people who are married. So one thing I learned is that living alone is not an entirely solitary experience. It’s generally a quite social one.

The next thing, I would say, is that we live today in a culture of hyperconnection, or overconnection. If we once worried about isolation, today, more and more critics are concerned that we’re overconncted. So in a moment like this, living alone is one way to get a kind of restorative solitude, a solitude that can be productive, because your home can be an oasis from the constant chatter and overwhelming stimulation of the digital urban existence. It doesn’t need to be—you can go home and be just as connected as you are everywhere else. That’s one of the stories of my book—the communications revolution has helped made living alone possible, because it makes it a potentially social experience. Certainly, the people we interviewed said that having a place of their own allowed them to decompress, and not everyone can do that.

I’m appreciative the sentiments and the trend not as an advocate of living alone – people need to decide what is best for them, but as part of a trend to remove the stigma of singleness. Not counting childhood, people in western democracies and also in India and China are statistically destined – because of divorce death or choice to spend five to twenty years of their adult lives alone. Most of them do not find it lonely or isolating – especially the ones near larger cities ( singles isolated in rural areas are almost a subject unto themselves). So why have a cultural bias that makes those people feel odd or like outcasts.

beach grass and dune fence – big enough for wallpaper.

I tend to dislike list where somewhere tells you how to how to live your life better (Dr Phil type blog posts) – there is one on the top Freshly Pressed featured posts right now. This one has a few things that I like and the writer is not so heavy handed or sanctimonious that he makes you want to do the opposite – 9 Essential Skills Kids Should Learn

2. Solving problems. If a child can solve problems, she can do any job. A new job might be intimidating to any of us, but really it’s just another problem to be solved. A new skill, a new environment, a new need … they’re all simply problems to be solved. Teach your child to solve problems by modeling simple problem solving, then allowing her to do some very easy ones on her own. Don’t immediately solve all your child’s problems — let her fiddle with them and try various possible solutions, and reward such efforts. Eventually, your child will develop confidence in her problem-solving abilities, and then there is nothing she can’t do.

That is in reaction to parents – though bosses, teachers and co-workers do it to – to hover, to make children or people believe they need you to help navigate every problem that comes their way. Some physiologists even think that hovering mentality by parents is why older teens tend to go a little crazy when they either go to college or in the first years after they move out on their own. They face new problems and have not had the mental or emotional practice they needed to sort things out and make good decisions.

I had a animated video on Nikola Tesla here, but it will not work for some reason. I liked this one on tattooing as well. The cinematography is black and white, extremely well done.

N.Y. Adorned “Tradition”