I finished the John Adams book today and it has been a very enjoyable read. You really feel you have a sense of this man and even his wife Abigail because the author uses so many of his letters of which number in the thousands! He rekindled his friendship with Jefferson in his later years and so you get some good insight into Jefferson as well. In that time Jefferson was considered the “pen” of the Declaration of Independence, while Adams was the “voice”. In 1826 the two Presidents and Charles Carroll of Maryland were the only singers of the Declaration still alive. And as fate would have it, Jefferson and Adams died within hours of each other on July 4th, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the historic birth of our country.
This winter’s read was given to me by Luke for Christmas. It’s John Adams by David McCullough and is quite a good read. I’m nearly half way through it and I have to say that once again I find it quite interesting to learn about earlier days and experiences through letters, diaries and events, and how it helps explain the things we experience today relating to people and countries. Adams’ description of France was quite interesting, and the trying times with Franklin and others, including Jefferson, surprises me that America is a country at all. One might correctly describe the “Colonies” as mere pawns in a game between the French and the British. If you’ve got the time, give it a try.
As a follow-on to the Andrew Jackson book I read last winter, I purchased a book on Abraham Lincoln a couple of weeks ago and finished it today. His early political career started around the time Jackson (the first Democrat president) was in office. The author of this biography is Richard Carwardine and I found it to be a good read.
It would be difficult to summarize a 300 page book, but I have to say that things don’t change much. His work-hard ethic coupled with Calvinist religious upbringing played a huge role in his life. And the politics, well . . . politics as usual. I used to think that things were different “back then”. Activist supreme court justices . . . you bet. The formation of the Republican party, of which he played a major role, and the development of that political machine to counter the Democrat’s political machine of the day was very intersting. I thought that newspapers were unbiased “back then”, but in fact it was commonly understood that certain papers were Republican and the others Democrats. Each side openly acknowledged this, unlike today, and used them to their advantage. Promising of appointments to federal offices was also acknowledged. The Democrat political machine was against the Civil War as well as against the abolition of slavery. In fact, they used scare tactics during the 1864 election telling the hordes of Irish immigrants and other laborers in the North that if Lincoln remained in office, the freed blacks would take all of their jobs away. And, they constantly hammered him for being the wrong guy for the job and that he was callous, cowardly and incompetent and that they were fighting for no reason and they complained that Lincoln wouldn’t talk peace and they wanted to give up on the war and let slavery go on even though the North was winning the war by then. But, Lincoln and the Republicans wanted unconditional surrender and an end to slavery and used every strategy, like getting newspaper editors not to publish this or that in exchange for this promise or that. Sound familiar? Lincoln beat McClellan with 56% of the popular vote. I thought it was more overwhelming than that.
I couldn’t help but relate that political climate to these moden times. Quite fascinating. If you can find the time, give it a read. For me, it is like reading a good novel where I have trouble putting it down and going to bed. I guess war can and does solve things . . . in this case, freedom for all and it kept the Union together. If he had been voted out in 1864 we would have ceratinly been at least two countries.
The mayor of Colorado Springs, Lionel Rivera, visited our house last night. I’m in the garage about to makes some cuts with my plate joiner and Luke comes in the garage and says, “Dad, the mayor is at the door”. How weird is that? Seems he was looking for support for the upcoming republican primary in August, as he is now running for US Congress.
Well, I finished An Army of Davids on Saturday night. The author has a section on nanotechnology (molecular manufacturing and computing) which was interesting. Using it to produce objects which go into your bloodstream to repair clogged arteries, kill cancer cells, fix cellular damage seems a little scary, and they think that they could use little objects like these to produce other objects called “assemblers”. Pretty sci-fi. It seems though, that the people are less afraid that it won’t work and are now more afraid that it will work. What happens if the little buggers get out of control? I hear Creighton wrote a book about this topic, too.
Even wilder is that there are those in the genetics fields (biogerentologists) seem to think that in 20 to 30 years we will have the technology to significantly reduce aging or perhaps eliminate it! They are seroiously talking about people living to 200 years and beyond. Who knows maybe it’s just they’re way to generate research money.
A final topic in the book (there are others) is the drive to inhabit another planet. Scientists believe that they have the technology or could have the technology to modify the atmosphere on Mars, making it suitable for a human colony.
There is much more in the book, but again it’s more of a daydream book to me. A sort of, “hey that would be cool” . . . and then I stare off into space for a few minutes thinking about how it would all work.
I framed the new living room closet yesterday and today and started getting the drywall on it. Never made one of them before . . . I think it looks pretty good . . . so far. Gettin’ antsy to get this project done.
I started reading a book the other day, titled: An Army of Davids; How Markets and Technology Empower Ordinary People to Beat Big Media, Big Government and Other Goliaths. It is an easy read and I am roughly half-way through it. The author is Glenn Reynolds who is the blogger at Instapundit.com and a law professor at the University of Tennessee. He is definitely a big proponent of the easy access and and use of the internet. It is pretty light and somewhat interesting. I like the information he presesnts on ways the internet is used for business these days, and I’ve raised my eyebrow more than once at some of his social conclusions (e.g. violent video games). Some video games can teach while entertain, like the Roller Coaster Tycoon games which the kids love, and teaches them about basically running a business (as near as I can tell). He starts with brewing your own beer and the effects that that movement had on the beer industry . . . from micro-brews popping up all over, to the big guys coming out with born-on dating, etc. He moves on to the music recording industry and how technology has changed things there, from people like me with home recording equipment to the distribution of music, via MP3, etc. Anyway, if you’ve got a bit of time for some light reading (lighter than some of the web pages I’ve promoted in the past) it could get you thinking about things. I checked it out of the library.
One of Andrew Jackson’s concerns in America in the early 1800s was the Bank of the US and the power it held to control the economy. When he had the chance as President to put an end to it, he did so by vetoing the renewal of it’s charter. The result was Nicolas Biddle, of the Bank, sending the US into a depression. I’ve never been too interested in banking, but reading about the incident made me want to know more. Oddly enough, I was listening to the radio on my way in to work and I heard a guy talk about the Federal Reserve System, the modern central bank version of the old Bank of the US. So, I went out and got the book titled The Creature from Jekyll Island (The Fed was created on Jekyll Island, Georgia in 1913) . While the book has some conspiracy elements to it, which could be true for all I know, it was an enlightening description of how money (bills & coins) gets into circulation. I wondered about it before, but never more than that.