Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas breaking

"One can never have enough socks. Another Christmas has come and gone and I didn't get a single pair. People will insist on giving me books." Dumbledore, J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

OH WOW, how I wish I had three weeks off for the holidays like I did when I was teaching or attending university. I want to be home!!! — sewing my drapes or taking a nap or reading a book. I'd even settle for scrubbing my kitchen floor.

I told Paul yesterday that it seemed like cruel and unusual punishment to have to go back to work the day after Christmas. Admittedly, we didn't go very early, but we were here today at 8:30. Stuff to do.

My best Christmas present, well it's always Paul of course, but next to health of self and loved ones, it was having little Anaya purr when I petted her. In some arenas of life, I am exceptionally patient and persistent. The rest, not so much.

Speaking of books as gifts, Paul and I have a friend who's a big Thomas Jefferson buff and looking forward to reading the new biography of him that he got for Christmas. Jefferson, by the way, has been downgraded (by me anyway) since I read an article in the New York Times exposing his darker-than-we-have-ever-known-before side. 

I wrote a post Dec. 1 that contains the whole piece by Paul Finkelmanin case you care to read it in its entirety, but here are some excerpts.

When (Jefferson) wrote the Declaration of Independence, announcing the “self-evident” truth that all men are “created equal,” he owned some 175 slaves. Over the subsequent 50 years, a period of extraordinary public service, Jefferson remained the master of Monticello, and a buyer and seller of human beings.

Jefferson was always deeply committed to slavery, and even more deeply hostile to the welfare of blacks, slave or free. His proslavery views were shaped not only by money and status but also by his deeply racist views, which he tried to justify through pseudoscience. 

Nor was Jefferson a particularly kind master. He sometimes punished slaves by selling them away from their families and friends, a retaliation that was incomprehensibly cruel even at the time. A proponent of humane criminal codes for whites, he advocated harsh, almost barbaric, punishments for slaves and free blacks.

Destroying families didn’t bother Jefferson, because he believed blacks lacked basic human emotions. “Their griefs are transient,” he wrote, and their love lacked “a tender delicate mixture of sentiment and sensation.”

As president he acquired the Louisiana Territory but did nothing to stop the spread of slavery into that vast “empire of liberty.” Jefferson told his neighbor Edward Coles not to emancipate his own slaves, because free blacks were “pests in society” who were “as incapable as children of taking care of themselves.” And while he wrote a friend that he sold slaves only as punishment or to unite families, he sold at least 85 humans in a 10-year period to raise cash to buy wine, art and other luxury goods.


I can't get past his hatred and racism. I had said in that Dec. 1 post that I would go back and add an addendum to a previous post I'd written featuring some of TJ's soaring quotes, but I've changed my other mind, as Paul calls it. I'm just taking it down altogether.

And speaking of quotes, I only have 24 more to add to the backlog of blog post I've written since I started, and I will be all caught up. Told ya', I'm patient about some stuff.

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