New York Systems

I'm David. I live in Astoria. During the day I work at a startup. Other times I visit bookstores.
This blog is my curio collection, sort of. I'll have a place of my own for essays... someday.

Posts tagged #america

For the first time in 69 years, there are no American tanks in Europe. On March 18th the United States shipped home 22 M-1 tanks, bringing to an end seven decades of American armor in Europe.
Scalia and his colleagues, though, seem to be more worried about another possible wrong. The role of the Court, Scalia seems to be saying, is to step in when members of Congress are scared of being called racist. Scalia does not seem to be afraid of that.
One of the cons of the Obama era is that it’s given the culture permission to misrepresent idealism in the form of so-called color-blindness.
When Bill Moyers, Keith Olbermann, Mayor Bloomberg, and Rupert Murdoch are all in favor of something—in this case, tougher gun laws—and there’s still no chance of it being enacted, you can rest assured that forces other than reason and partisan politics are involved.
John Cassidy gives ten reasons America might be crazy: http://nyr.kr/Pfaoyn (via newyorker)

Did you know the Japanese bombed the continental United States during World War II?

Close to Home | Futility Closet

In 1896 the U.S. Treasury introduced some beautifully high-minded currency — instead of American presidents, the “educational series” of silver certificates bear neoclassical allegories.

On the $1 note, the Goddess of History instructs a youth, pointing to the U.S. Constitution, a panorama of Washington D.C., and a roster of famous Americans, including Franklin, Longfellow, Hawthorne, and Emerson.

On the $2 note, Science presents Steam and Electricity (as children) to Commerce and Manufacture. The reverse bears portraits of Robert Fulton and Samuel Morse.

The almost impossibly glorious $5 note depicts Electricity Presenting Light to the World. She is flanked by Strength, Fame, and Peace. The New York Times wrote, “The arrangement of this composition, the grace of pose in each figure, and the idea connected with the designs of this artist entitle it to a place beside the finest allegorical designs in the world.”

Unfortunately, the Treasury got a new secretary the following year, one who favored simple, clear designs, and he canceled more than $54 million in certificates as they came into the Treasury. “It can be said authoritatively … that no more of the so-called ‘new certificates’ will be printed,” the Times reported sadly in May 1897. “Neither will fresco painters be called in to make designs for the substitutes.”

What could have been.

Cornell University’s Suzanne Mettler points out that many beneficiaries of government programs seem confused about their own place in the system. She tells us that 44 percent of Social Security recipients, 43 percent of those receiving unemployment benefits, and 40 percent of those on Medicare say that they “have not used a government program.”

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/2011/12/06/one-day-two-good-speeches/

This was a very good speech.

President Barack Obama, Osawatomie, Kan., Dec. 6, 2011

This is the defining issue of our time. This is a make-or-break moment for the middle class, and for all those who are fighting to get into the middle class. Because what’s at stake is whether this will be a country where working people can earn enough to raise a family, build a modest savings, own a home, secure their retirement. Now, in the midst of this debate, there are some who seem to be suffering from a kind of collective amnesia. After all that’s happened, after the worst economic crisis, the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, they want to return to the same practices that got us into this mess. In fact, they want to go back to the same policies that stacked the deck against middle-class Americans for way too many years. And their philosophy is simple: We are better off when everybody is left to fend for themselves and play by their own rules.

I am here to say they are wrong. I’m here in Kansas to reaffirm my deep conviction that we’re greater together than we are on our own. I believe that this country succeeds when everyone gets a fair shot, when everyone does their fair share, when everyone plays by the same rules. …

Now, just as there was in Teddy Roosevelt’s time, there is a certain crowd in Washington who, for the last few decades, have said, let’s respond to this economic challenge with the same old tune. “The market will take care of everything,” they tell us. If we just cut more regulations and cut more taxes – especially for the wealthy – our economy will grow stronger. Sure, they say, there will be winners and losers. But if the winners do really well, then jobs and prosperity will eventually trickle down to everybody else. And, they argue, even if prosperity doesn’t trickle down, well, that’s the price of liberty.

Now, it’s a simple theory. And we have to admit, it’s one that speaks to our rugged individualism and our healthy skepticism of too much government. That’s in America’s DNA. And that theory fits well on a bumper sticker. But here’s the problem: It doesn’t work. It has never worked.

And this was a very good speech.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Geneva, Dec. 6, 2011

Some have suggested that gay rights and human rights are separate and distinct; but, in fact, they are one and the same. Now, of course, 60 years ago, the governments that drafted and passed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights were not thinking about how it applied to the LGBT community. They also weren’t thinking about how it applied to indigenous people or children or people with disabilities or other marginalized groups. Yet in the past 60 years, we have come to recognize that members of these groups are entitled to the full measure of dignity and rights, because, like all people, they share a common humanity.

This recognition did not occur all at once. It evolved over time. And as it did, we understood that we were honoring rights that people always had, rather than creating new or special rights for them. Like being a woman, like being a racial, religious, tribal, or ethnic minority, being LGBT does not make you less human. And that is why gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights.

It is violation of human rights when people are beaten or killed because of their sexual orientation, or because they do not conform to cultural norms about how men and women should look or behave. It is a violation of human rights when governments declare it illegal to be gay, or allow those who harm gay people to go unpunished. It is a violation of human rights when lesbian or transgendered women are subjected to so-called corrective rape, or forcibly subjected to hormone treatments, or when people are murdered after public calls for violence toward gays, or when they are forced to flee their nations and seek asylum in other lands to save their lives. And it is a violation of human rights when life-saving care is withheld from people because they are gay, or equal access to justice is denied to people because they are gay, or public spaces are out of bounds to people because they are gay. No matter what we look like, where we come from, or who we are, we are all equally entitled to our human rights and dignity.

(P.S. pretty words, indeed. But does it result in action?)

Pauline Wayne was a Holstein cow which belonged to William Howard Taft, the 27th President of the United States. Also known as “Miss Wayne”, Pauline was not Taft’s first presidential cow: she replaced the lesser-known “Mooley Wooly”, who provided milk for the First Family for a year and a half. Taft and his wife, Helen Herron Taft, had growing children, and Taft was a notoriously large eater. Accordingly, Mooley Wooly was replaced by Pauline Wayne, because the former could not produce enough milk for the Taft’s growing family. Wisconsin senator Isaac Stephenson bought Pauline Wayne for Mrs. Taft.
From 1910 to 1913, Miss Wayne freely grazed the White House lawn. She was the last presidential cow to live at the White House and was considered as much a Taft family pet as she was livestock. When Taft left office, she was shipped to Wisconsin. Her Bovine Blue Book number was 115,580. The origins of the name “Pauline Wayne” are unknown.