Saturday, July 21, 2007

Friday, July 20, 2007

NH Sky

Damaged Chipmunk

This morning, on the way out of the house I noticed something moving in my front beds. I bent over to look and saw a chipmunk. It moved pretty quickly away from my gaze to hide itself and I noticed something odd about it: it's back legs and tails were black, and the legs did not seem to be moving.

I changed my vantage point to look at the poor beast and noticed that indeed its legs were black and dirty (hopefully, rather than entirely infected and gangrenous) and that the animal was paralyzed from the waist down. The chipmunk must have been hit by a car, maybe one of ours, I do not know, and was hiding out in our beds. It was sort of gross and sad, all at the same time.

Summer Reading

I've been doing some reading this summer. Here's my list and some thoughts on what I've finished.

The Historian
by Elizabeth Kostova
A creepy book about vampires in which the heroine, through flashbacks, reveals her, and her family's, confrontations with Vlad the Impaler. Beautifully written and set in locales all over Europe -- but heavily focused in Romania -- this was a fun read. It's one of those books that's both a page turner and intelligent. Vampires creep me out, so that added a layer of extra fun for me.

The Russian Debutante's Handbook
by Gary Shteyngart
Mrs. Agricola has been telling me for a long time that I need to read this book. I'm glad that I finally took her advice. Laugh-out-loud-funny in parts, Shteyngart skewers mid-90s hipsters, grungesters, the Russian Mafiya and immigrants in Ameriva. His hero, Vladimir Gershkin, is a bumbling nebbish until a crazy misunderstanding in a Miami hotel sends him to the Republic Stolovaya and the city of Prava where he comes up with schemes to enrich the local mobsters, and himself. Like most adventure stories, it ends with our hero living in the 'burbs . . .

The Road
by Cormac McCarthy
I've read eight of eleven of McCarthy's published works and list him as one of my all time favorites. I must admit though, that I was put off by the fact that this book was a selection of the Oprah Book Club -- I almost didn't read it, but because I did almost buy it as a hardcover in December, '06 before it received so much "recognition," Mrs. Agricola picked up a copy for me. Unrelentingly grim, as one would expect a tale of the post-apocalyptic world to be, this book also contains the most human relationship I've encountered in a McCarthy book. Very much a writer of biblical prose, and unafraid to probe man's darkest impulses, many of McCarthy's characters are essentially allegorical representations of good, evil, debasement etc. The unnamed father and son in this book are definitely allegorical, but they are also incredibly human, especially in their love for one another and their will to survive. It was an awesome, deeply moving book that ends (and this in no way gives away the ending)in poetry.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Friday, July 13, 2007

USS Harry S. Truman

Great piece by Bret Stephens of The Wall Street Journal about the USS Harry S. Truman. It's the people and the openness of our society that make our military so wonderful, and he captures that eloquently in his final paragraph (we actually let Chinese naval officers tour our carrier? Are you kidding? America is an amazing place.).

No doubt the Chinese will one day figure out the mechanics of landing planes at sea--and of catapulting them off the deck. I wonder if they'll ever get the human element right. The men and women of the Truman are here as a matter of their own free will in order to defend our collective right to live freely. That's more than a matter of mechanics. It's a matter of spirit: the true source of the Truman's awesome power, and of its beauty, too.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Happy Birthday

Today is Child One's fourth birthday.
She got a bike.
We were outside at 6:45 AM riding it up and down the street.
It was a classic moment.

Happy Birthday, and many many more!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Summer Surge

There's been much ink spilled about "The Surge" currently underway in Iraq. I've linked to some dispatches from Michael Yon, reporting from the front lines, as well as articles appearing in the Wall Street Journal. Depending on which pub you read we're losing (NY Times, Boston Globe, MSM in general); things are going well (WSJ); or thngs are hard, but the pros in our military will prevail (Yon). I'm not a Pollyanna, I think that things could have gone better in Iraq had we taken a more aggressive stance and killed people while taking and holding ground.

It appears that we are doing this now with Gen. David Petraeus's Surge. From the non-MSM it sounds, if given time, then we will actually win in Iraq. Victory in Iraq is what we all should be hoping for but sadly we're not. The Dems are running on a platform of retreat, surrender and defeat and some Republicans are growing wobblier by the day in their support of the war. As I mentioned in an earlier post we have to win this war and winning this war should be all that anybody cares about. As a nation we go apoplectic about the the success or failure of our sports teams -- how can we roll over for this?

While the insipid and cowardly politicians who supposedly run this country play politics and strive to hang onto their cushy gigs, our armed forces are slugging it out and winning. They need to be given time to win -- but that's what the pols and the MSM don't want. How un-American.

Jeff Jacoby, the lone conservative voice at the Globe has a great paragraph in his column today:

Political correctness is no strategy for victory. Islamic fascists will not hate us less if we avoid all mention of the theology that inflames them. Winning the war the jihadists have declared -- the war of Dar al-Islam and Dar al-Harb -- begins with moral clarity. Denial is a luxury we cannot afford.

Monday, July 02, 2007

The Declaration of Independence

In Congress, July 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

The 56 signatures on the Declaration appear in the positions indicated:

[Column 1]
Georgia:
Button Gwinnett
Lyman Hall
George Walton

[Column 2]
North Carolina:
William Hooper
Joseph Hewes
John Penn
South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge
Thomas Heyward, Jr.
Thomas Lynch, Jr.
Arthur Middleton

[Column 3]
Massachusetts:
John Hancock
Maryland:
Samuel Chase
William Paca
Thomas Stone
Charles Carroll of Carrollton
Virginia:
George Wythe
Richard Henry Lee
Thomas Jefferson
Benjamin Harrison
Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee
Carter Braxton

[Column 4]
Pennsylvania:
Robert Morris
Benjamin Rush
Benjamin Franklin
John Morton
George Clymer
James Smith
George Taylor
James Wilson
George Ross
Delaware:
Caesar Rodney
George Read
Thomas McKean

[Column 5]
New York:
William Floyd
Philip Livingston
Francis Lewis
Lewis Morris
New Jersey:
Richard Stockton
John Witherspoon
Francis Hopkinson
John Hart
Abraham Clark

[Column 6]
New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett
William Whipple
Massachusetts:
Samuel Adams
John Adams
Robert Treat Paine
Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins
William Ellery
Connecticut:
Roger Sherman
Samuel Huntington
William Williams
Oliver Wolcott
New Hampshire:
Matthew Thornton

Sunday, July 01, 2007

New World

This week Peggy Noonan has another terrific article entitled Letting Go. This is my favorite passage from it:

My grandfather had his struggles here but never again went home. He'd cast his lot. That's an important point in the immigrant experience, when you cast your lot, when you make your decision. It makes you let go of something. And it makes you hold on to something. The thing you hold on to is the new country. In succeeding generations of your family the holding on becomes a habit and then a patriotism, a love. You realize America is more than the place where the streets were paved with gold. It has history, meaning, tradition. Suddenly that's what you treasure.
Happy Fourth of July. We're off on vacation this week.