Tuesday, 5 May 2015

A Brief Essay over Front Porches

This is the front of George Washington's Mount Vernon estate.  It looks out onto the water of the bay.....about 300 feet in front of the house.

A magnificent view, no doubt.

You can sit and imagine spring, summer and fall....late afternoon, after a full day of activity, and settling onto a chair facing the bay.  There's no TV....no internet....no radio.....no daily newspaper.....nothing.

Some neighbor might ride up on his horse.....find George sitting there and sipping a whisky.  A discussion could commence....maybe over horses, fondness for peach cobbler, harsh words over some political discussion, or a long-winded joke about a French mistress and a English minister.

Talk might go into the evening hours, with a candle or lamp lit, and the visitor might be offered up a room for the night.

A porch was a place where discussions were a form of entertainment and emotional survival.  You laughed over good times and bad situations.  You contemplated why men did stupid things, or why women uttered harsh complaints.  You might have spent an hour or two discussing why corn is higher in Arlington, than in Richmond.  Or you might have just wasted a whole afternoon discussing why it's so hot this year compared to last year (you didn't have global warming in those days to blame on such events).

In some ways, we have lost the front porch behavior and attitude.  It was an anchored part of our society, our culture, and our future.  No one today defends the front porch.  No quotes great passages or writes epic movie scripts over the front porch.  It was a saga-builder, just waiting for a visitor to start some topic.

The Addition of Dr Ben Carson to the Republican Primary

First, let's go ahead and admit that there is zero possibility of Dr Ben Carson coming to the end of the Republican primary with any state wins.  He might pick up a couple of delegates here and there, and probably will get a thirty minute chance to speak at the Republican Convention.  Is he running to get a cabinet spot, or is it running just to make people ask more questions?

Second, by adding Dr Carson into the primary debates.....there's this turbo-mechanism which will result.  He adds sense and coherence to the commentary.  He will stand and debate to the ninth degree.....things which some voters simply accept as a fake agenda item.  The weak debate candidates?  They will look weak, shaky, and frail.

Third, some black leaders....particularly within the church environment....will quote Dr Carson on occasion, and deem his campaign as one of positive character.

Fourth.....the list of elected positions?  Well....some people will chat about that and it's one of those minor issues in that he's never run for any office, ever, in his life.  How many American Presidents have that type of background?  A handful in fact (Washington, Grant, Eisenhower, Taft, Taylor, and Hoover).  In the case of Taft.....he'd been a four-star administrator for various Republican Presidents, and eventually held the position of Secretary of Defense.....but had never run for office in his life.  Carson would be walking in some pretty good shoes if he did get elected.

Fifth and final.....maybe this is the guy for VP.  Even if he doesn't carry any big numbers.....he has the position of authority on respect, common values, and simple common sense.  Over the past thirty years.....I can't think of any VP that was a four-star character.

Book Review: David Crockett, His Life and Adventures

By John S. C. Abbott

It is a curious book, available on Amazon Digital for free, which was written well over a hundred years ago.

It is a finely woven and clear-cut story over the remarkable Davy Crockett.  I cam to three observations by the end of the 136 page book (it's easily read over a week).

First, there are at least a hundred occasions when Crockett met up with mother nature, disease, bears, mountain lions, Indians, and hostile threats.....and he should have died.  As you come near the end of the saga.....you come to realize the amount of luck this guy had going for him.....day in and day out.

Second, as a kid around age twelve....he was 'directed' by his dad to help some guy who was herding some cattle from the edge of the wilderness to Virginia (roughly 200 miles away).  He completes the job, and basically walks back.  When you take into consideration.....his age.....lack of a map.....no compass.....no adult leadership.....it is a remarkable feat.  If you tried to find some kid in America today who would do something like this.....I think you'd be disappointed.

Third, you come near the end of the book to realize the Alamo period was something that could have been skipped.  If the Indians had invited him to on hunting with them during their meeting.....he would have never gone to the Alamo or met up with the consequences of the Mexican Army.  In such a case.....you'd have to wonder where exactly he would have ended up and if he might have been some future governor of California.   Remember.....he was only forty-nine when he died at the Alamo.

As for the book?  I'd highly endorse it as a reading and history project for a 10th grade class.  They could complete the book in a week or two, and it'd probably draw out three or four discussion episodes for class participation.