Archive for the ‘boston’ tag
I have gotten quite a few letters from Jose and his mother expressing their gratitude, so hopefully it helps to some degree. Their family, his mother, a step-father and two other siblings, live on an income of about $80 a month.
When I first became his sponsor in 2010, he was kind of too young to write himself, so his mother would write. To my knowledge, the letter below is the first I have received that he wrote himself, and he referenced a Christmas present that he received on my behalf.
Funny story: a young guy, maybe 20-something, approached me one day on the streets of Boston and asked if I would consider sponsoring a child. I asked for credentials to check if he was legit. He was understanding about my skepticism in meeting a stranger who was asking me to make a commitment for a child I would probably never meet. I got his full name and did some research on the organization when I got back to a computer. The funny part is that he chose me specifically because I was wearing a Beatles shirt that day, and to him, that was a signal that I might be willing to help. I would guess that the songs like “Revolution” and “All You Need Is Love” had a lot to do with instilling that impression.
In any case, if I had the resources or time enough away from the job, I could go to Honduras and see Jose if I wished. The cool thing is Children International provides the method to do so if you have the inclination to meet the child and see the fruits of your resources first-hand. Maybe one day I will go, but for now, it’s good to hear that Children International seems to be making a difference in kids’ lives. It’s nice to play a very small part in that.
If you have $25 extra bucks a month, consider sponsoring a child. Here is a letter from Jose and a drawing:
If there were still any doubts about why Boston is one of the best places to live in the U.S. for all people, the Mayor Thomas M. Menino dispels them in the following letter to Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy:
In reference to an earlier post in which I made light of Sarah Palin’s gaffe about Paul Revere riding through Boston to warn the British, not the colonists, about the former’s movements, I need to make a concession, but only a minor one. It is true that when and only when Revere was confronted and captured by the British, he indeed told them
there would be five hundred Americans there in a short time for I had alarmed the Country all the way up
in his letter to Jeremy Belknap.
Either by accident or a stroke of luck, Palin was technically correct that at some point along his ride, Revere told the British about the American troops.
But she remains solidly wrong in suggesting — and she unequivocally does — that warning the British was the main point of Revere’s trip. The main objective of his trip was to warn the American colonists. Presumably, getting captured by the British was not part of Revere’s plans that day, since he tried to elude them. Seeking out the enemy just to warn them of the American militia would have been silly. One can imagine the conversation going something like this:
Revere: Here ye! Here ye, damned British! The American militia is just up the way, and it is going to deal you a decisive blow!
British officer: That’s great, mate! You are now a prisoner of the British army. Answer my questions or I will blow your brains out. (Indeed, a British major did tell Revere that he would shoot him if he didn’t answer his questions)
We can only assume Revere was bright enough to know that actively seeking out enemy forces just to warn them of their impending demise would be counterproductive at best, and I doubt he much enjoyed being told he was under the gun if he didn’t cooperate.
While militia did fire off some rounds that Revere said startled the British, there’s no record that Revere himself fired any rounds, and there’s no mention of “bells” in Revere’s letter. Revere and other riders warned the colonists quietly with lanterns, not with guns or bells. Again, the idea was secrecy. Town bells did ring once the British were near Lexington, and one of the captured riders (not Revere) did say:
The bell’s a’ringing! The town’s alarmed, and you’re all dead men!
The British then turned back to warn their commanders. In my last post on this topic, I noted that Revere indeed told the British there were 500 Americans on the way, but I just wanted to clarify the point since some historians have now claimed that Palin was indeed correct. My contention remains. While she may have been correct that Revere warned the British at some point that night, warning the British couldn’t have been farther from Revere’s goal, but a residual effect of him getting captured. Secrecy was the game.
I have felt a bit out of the blogging groove as of late. Even in years past when I have left town for vacation, I still found time for a post or two, as in 2008 when I wrote from Boston about the presidential debate between then-candidates Barack Obama and John McCain or in 2010 when I marveled about how difficult it was for a tourist like myself to get a clear view of the ocean on the coast of Maine.
So, let me briefly review what I’ve been up to the last couple weeks. As I hinted, I was on vacation in New England last week. Unlike in 2010 or 2008 (or the time before that), I didn’t bother to actually go into the city this time. My friend lives about 10 minutes north of Boston on the North Shore, so I mostly stayed in that general area, visiting numerous used book stores in Rowley, Manchester-by-the-Sea and Danvers. Among them were the Used Book Superstore, (This is a chain store, but the one I visited was in Danvers), Broken in Books (Rowley) and my favorite, Manchester by the Book (Manchester-by-the-Sea). In total, I came back to Georgia with seven books, and while I did visit Barnes & Noble once in Peabody, Mass., I resisted the urge to buy any brand new books. Prior to making it to Boston, I stayed over a couple days in Plymouth, where I drove past but did not actually see, what others described as “unimpressive” rock of that town’s fame.
I have also been reading quite a bit. Since the editor of the paper where I work seems fond of calculating the completion percentage of whatever history book through which he’s currently plowing (I believe he’s at 90 percent), I recently tabulated mine. I am about 72 percent done with From Sea to Shining Sea (not to be confused with this one), the former of which is a 600-page romp through the War of 1812, the war with Mexico and America’s westward expansion. It is an elegant and entertaining read and not so erudite that it’s inaccessible to the common reader. I plan to begin “The Religious Life of Thomas Jefferson” next, which will no doubt make the incontrovertible case that while Jefferson made outward shows toward religion, he was privately more likely a deist and did not believe in the various miracles attributed to Christ. According to Charles Sanford:
From the evidence of his life, we may safely conclude that Jefferson remained a member in good standing of his local Episcopal church all his life, in outward form at least. His inward convictions were another matter, however. His great-grandson described Jefferson’s religion as that of a “conservative Unitarian….He did not believe in the miracles, nor the divinity of Christ, nor the doctrine of the atonement, but he was a firm believer in Divine Providence, in the efficacy of prayer, in a future state of rewards and punishments, and in the meeting of friends in another world.”
Jefferson also famously said in a letter to Benjamin Rush:
I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every from of tyranny over the mind of man.
In any case, I’m quite anticipating reading the book on Jefferson after I finish my romp through America’s expansionist years.
Otherwise, I have been catching up on my Counter Strike: Source, which I did not get to play at all while on vacation. This is a super high priority, I know, especially for someone who puts so much importance on reading and studying, but since I don’t watch much TV, I’ve got to have an engine by which to channel a little nightly frivolity. Of course, even at that, I am quite competitive and probably take it too seriously. Before going to Boston, for instance, I was quite disappointed with the my so-called “KDR” or kill-death ratio (It was o.95 or something. Quite unacceptable), but happily, the server was reset, and so too were the stats. Now, I’m at about 1.07. While some players’ KDR is above 1.50, anything above 1.0 is respectable in my case. I tend to quit the round or “spectate” if I find myself slipping too far below 1.0 so as not to totally screw up my stats. So much for the mirth.
Site notes: I just updated the software to version WordPress 3.1.3, and for anyone who uses WordPress plugins, you may want to shy away from Statpress. Although I had been using it for quite some time, it apparently caused some overload issues on one of my web host’s servers. My host, IXwebhosting.com, had to disable my database until I detected and fixed the problem. Luckily, the word “statpress” actually appeared in the error message generated by the server, so the culprit was clear.
I plan to jump back on this site after I get the holidays are behind us. I’ve recently been entrenched with the aforementioned “War and Peace,” and now, I’m reading a book titled, “Nixon’s Piano,” in which Kenneth O’Reilly traces the track record of each United States president on the topic of race and how few presidents moved race relations and civil rights forward. Rather, the large majority either did all they could to ignore the problem, thus passing the buck to successors or used blacks and other minorities to secure the Southern vote. Of course, numerous early presidents from Washington to Adams to Jefferson knew the peculiar institution was unsustainable in the long run but again, deferred to later generations to actually enact meaningful change. Reluctantly, Lincoln was the man that conclusively ended slavery, but what he couldn’t end was racism, and blacks and other groups would wait another century-plus before Martin Luther King Jr., and other members of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement finally broke the chains of segregation and Jim Crow.
It’s an enticing read, and I would like to read O’Reilly’s other book on race, “Racial Matters: The FBIs Secret File on Black America” in the future.
Needless to say, I typically either spend the bulk of my free time writing and researching for this site or reading and/or playing video games like the 33-year-old teenager that I am.
That said, and in the spirit of annual, year-ending “Best of …” lists, here are 20 of what I consider to be my top blog posts for 2010. In no particular order:
- Jan. 13 — Haitians condemned — classy, Robertson: In light of another natural disaster, Robertson toes the Jerry Falwell line of thinking and blames people, not natural forces, for the Haiti earthquake. God 55, Humans 0.
- Feb. 25 — Talk radio echo chamber claptrap: Michael Savage gets it wrong … again.
- March 21 — Historic legislation well on its way: The most sweeping health reform bill in nearly half a century passes without a single Republican vote. Thirty-two million formerly uninsured patients will be able to get themselves checked out. Insurance companies can no longer deny sick people because of preexisting conditions. Republicans still looking for some kind of human pulse.
- March 17 — In response to Tea, Coffee parties, Kool-Aid Party emerges: In the great spirit of The Onion, I penned this faux-news piece about the newest beverage-inspired political parties. Hopefully, I can do more of this type of thing in the future.
- May 15th — 12-year-old deftly covering Lady Gaga; pop and nothingness: Greyson Chance puts some feeling behind an otherwise lifeless pop song.
- May 10th — Dave Matthews, philosophy and the GrooGrux King: The Dave Matthews Band had something to say about life and death in their latest album, a tribute to their fallen comrade, LeRoi Moore.
- June 19th — Federal suit against Arizona forthcoming: Arizona attempts to skirt federal immigration law, and the Constitution couldn’t be clearer on the matter.
- July 16th — Some reflections from New England: Thoughts from the road during my summer trip to Boston, New York and Connecticut. I will possibly have at least two similar posts next year because of an extra week of vacation.
- July 28th — Federal judge makes ruling on Arizona bill: As it turns out, a federal judge has the ability to read the Constitution’s 14th Amendment.
- Aug. 26th — Movie review: ‘Doubt‘: I don’t review movies very often, but this was one of the more interesting films I’ve seen this year. The movie explores the (special?) relationship between a Catholic priest (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and a schoolboy.
- Aug. 11th — Response to Apologetics IV: miracles: This is one in a series on a Christian apologetic book I read a few months ago. It’s dubbed as a handy guide for Christians to be able to thwart arguments against the Christian faith. It supplies most or all of the stock arguments for faith. I, in turn, thwart some of its more intricate “proofs.”
Sept. 1 — Open letter on problem of evil, my response: A college philosophy graduate pens an open letter to Christians regarding the problem of evil. I reply.
- Sept. 11 — NYC: two towers down but still in the game: Reflections on the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attack.
- Sept. 24th — Colbert: ‘I like talking about people who don’t have any power’: In one of the more fascinating moments on Capitol Hill, comic Stephen Colbert breaks character during a hearing on immigrant labor conditions after spending a day in the fields himself.
- Oct. 6 — More battles over textbook curriculum: Texas Board of Education’s conservative spin on science curriculum.
- Oct. 11 — Apologetics VII: immortality and consciousness: Another in the apologetics series.
- Oct. 13 — Apologetics VIII: heaven, hell, free will: And another.
- Oct. 30 — Mark Levin: ‘Trust me.’ Sure.: More nonsense from another neocon radio host.
- Nov. 30 — Vick: flying high amid, in spite of critics: Having clawed himself out of the public doghouse, the Eagles quarterback may be Super Bowl bound.
- Dec. 7 — Noah’s Ark, the 21st century version: Theme park creators take it to a biblical level.
The site’s been like small thistle-blown Texas town the last week, I know. Sorry about that. I have been scurrying to and fro in parts — pretty much all of them — in the Northeast.
The trip, while quite pleasant and relaxing for the most part, has not been without its annoyances, not the least of which has been the near relentless attempts to snag tourists. I understand that it’s costly to maintain the Concord Museum near Boston ($10 admission to that tiny facility) and other such historic sites, but at times, it just got absurd. Parking near Walden Pond, for instance, is $5 — a fair enough price — but I was quite appalled that swimming, tubing, fishing and other recreational activities are allowed on and around the pond. To me, perhaps among 1 percent of the visitors to this area who actually hold the pond in a venerated state, this is like dancing on sacred ground — and not in the worshiping since as with David dancing before the Lord. I had envisioned that the pond would be roped off and with hiking allowed around the perimeter. I’m not sure the current maintenance of the land is what Thoreau had in mind when he said:
In wilderness is the preservation of the world.
But hey. Call me old-fashioned.
I’m not one to marvel at or even patronize typical historic attractions anyway — as I told one friendly, simply being in this lovely and historic part of the nation is enough for me — but it is distressing that so many sites that should be perusable to any proud American or nature lover, poor nor not, are not. Perhaps the most frustrating experience was a couple days ago in Ogunquit, Maine. I had just had eggs benedict at a café called Eggs & I and had seen a road sign for beach access. I must have taken a wrong turn and didn’t see a beach, but I did find a little cove with some restaurants and shopping areas. At the opening of the cove was a little turnaround area with some parking spaces for $3 per hour. After waiting a good two minutes for a carload of older folks to pull out of a space, I pulled in. I had planned to pay the $3 and walk around for a few minutes, but when I realized that, unless I was interested in looking inside shops or eating, there was nowhere to walk around. I was, however, interested in a little opening overlooking some rocks and the ocean beyond. Thus, I decided to simply grab the camera, hop out, keep the car running and take, literally three shots of the ocean and immediately leave. After all, walking to the ticket booth, paying and walking back to the car would have taken longer than what I had planned. So, I jumped out, took a photo to the left, then to the center, then down the shoreline to the right. Just as I clicked the final shot, a ticket official walked up and said something to the effect of, “You have a ticket?” With blood pressure rising at this point, I said, “No. I’m leaving. I’m done.” He said, “Thank you,” and I pulled away, wondering why a simple view of the ocean is worth $3 or $1 or 25 cents. I cared nought for the bourgeois shops nearby. I just wanted to see the ocean, and if I had had a moment longer, perhaps reflect on the crashing waves before me. I didn’t, after all, see anyone else stopping to take in the scene. I believe my thoughts in a previous Twitter post expressed it adequately about this and other miles and miles of shoreline that are no longer “free” to enjoy at all.
Here is the shot I snapped seconds before being interrupted:
We have lingered in the chambers of the sea | By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown | Till human voices wake us, and we drown. — T.S. Eliot