Juneteenth

So it appears that we are to have a new federal holiday – that day, following on the final defeat of the Confederacy that slaves in Texas were informed by the arriving Union troops that they were now free. I think it’s marvelous, noting the day when the last slaves in a Confederate state were notified by Republicans that they were no longer slaves.

With apologies to Wm. Shakespeare…

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June Road Trip In the Hill Country

The Daughter Unit and I, with Wee Jamie the Grandson Unit, made a road trip last Saturday – a completely enjoyable outing, even with the necessity of stopping several times to change Wee Jamie’s diapers on the hour-and a half drive to Kingsland on the Llano and Colorado Rivers. He slept for the most part, and excited the admiration of many, who noted the Overwhelming Cuteness of Wee Jamie. His eyes actually opened once or twice during these occasions.

We had an appointment for a presentation ceremony at the American Legion post in Kingsland for me to be presented with a quilt; the ladies of this organization have been working for several years on a project to present a patriotic-themed quilt to every military veteran who can be identified and nominated for one.

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Poison

It’s a special kind of poison, the sudden primacy and popularity of CRT – critical race theory – now hanging in the air like a particularly malignant smog in our workplaces, schools, and universities. It wouldn’t be so malignant, damaging, and counter-productive if it was truly the anti-racism awareness training that it pretends to be, or if it were completely even-handed in being critical of racism across all the spectrum of human colors and backgrounds. But it’s not: as CRT is practiced currently and apparently profitably by race-hustlers of all colors on the rest of us has one focus and one focus only – to blame those whose’ ancestors originated in Northern Europe for the woes and considerable shortcomings of everyone else, without the barest hint of acknowledgement that many of those woes and shortcomings in the African-American communities are self-inflicted. (It would be nice if this would be acknowledged by the CRT warriors, but there will be hundreds of pigs flying in tight combat-box formation overhead before that ever happens.)

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Ferdinand and Hermann’s Excellent Frontier Adventure

(As promised during the Zoom meet-up this afternoon, the absolutely true story of the first cataract surgery in Texas.)

The practice of medicine in these United States for most of the 19th century was a pretty hit or miss proposition. Such was the truly dreadful state of affairs generally when it came to medicine in most places and in all but the last quarter of the 19th century that patients may have been better off having a go with the D-I-Y approach. Doctors trained as apprentices to a doctor with a current practice or studied some books and hung out a shingle. Successful surgeons possessed two basic skill sets; speed and a couple of strong assistants to hold the patient down, until he was done cutting and stitching.

But in South Texas from 1850 on, there was doctor-surgeon who became a legend, for his skill, advanced ideas, and willingness to go to any patient, anywhere and operate under any conditions – and most usually with a great deal of success. Doctor Ferdinand Ludwig von Herff, who dropped the aristocratic ‘von’ almost immediately upon arriving in Texas, was also an idealist, and prepared to live in accordance with his publicly espoused principles. He came to Texas in 1847 as part of a circle of young men called the “Forty,” who had a plan to establish a utopian commune along ideas fashionable at the time.

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Across the Great Divide

Peter Watson, The Great Divide: Nature and Human Nature in the Old World and the New (New York: Harper Perennial, 2013)

As my reviews tend to do, this one will highlight some negatives, but which I will get out of the way early on. Peter Watson is a highly successful author and journalist who has rather more than dabbled in archaeology along the way. I am … somewhat less of an authority. Nonetheless, The Great Divide is kind of a mess, but one that ends up being sufficiently thought-provoking to be worth the effort.

Fun stuff first—shout-out to Jim Bennett for recommending the book; and here are my ideas for relevant musical interludes while reading the following:

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