Tuesday, November 8, 2016

History: The Year is 1895

I've uploaded year 1895 to the TSP Wiki...


Here are some one liners...

Talking a Wilde Leap Off Your Own Pedestal -- Oscar Wilde makes a bad decision. I talk about my friend, Charlie, who blew his brains out.

A Compromise on Civil Rights -- Booker T. Washington goes for the possible now rather than what is impossible... now.

Limits on the Right to Strike -- The Pullman union president is going to jail. I talk about the air traffic controllers strike in 1981.

Notable Births -- Gracie Allen,  J. Edgar Hoover and Buckminster Fuller.

In Other News -- X-Rays, the space elevator and Volleyball.

Talking a Wilde Leap Off Your Own Pedestal

When you are at the height of your career, try not to stumble over your own feet because it can be a very quick "trip" to the bottom. Oscar Wilde has reached his pinnacle. He is the author of "The Picture of Dorian Gray" which almost got him arrested on morals charges. Yet, he remains the favorite of the "Bohemia in tiaras" crowd. His play, "The Importance of Being Earnest," premieres in London this year. It is a satire on the trivial restrictions of Victorian society like fidelity, honesty, the pursuit of love and marriage. The Marquis of Queensberry is sick of Oscar, so he leaves a note, labeling him a "posing somdomite'. (Apparently, the Marquis can't spell, but you get the idea.) Since sodomy is a crime in England, Wilde has the Marquis arrested for libel. This is a mistake because even in London, the truth is a very powerful defense. As the trial unfolds, Oscar Wilde's sexual antics are revealed. In Victorian society, people will look the other way as long as one doesn't make a spectacle out of ones self, but Oscar is making a spectacle. Wilde is arrested for "gross indecency". Bail is posted by Reverend Stewart Headlam on principle. (Good man.) Wilde will be found guilty and sentenced to two years hard labor. ("Hard labor" in Victorian times is VERY hard.) After his release he will leave for France, never to return. His health and his finances will dwindle away. He is done. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Regarding self-destructive decisions, I was in my 20s when I met Charlie. When he spoke he was amazing, but my friend, Duffy, didn't like Charlie's talk of personal renewal and the power of God. I admired Duffy, but I decided to call Charlie and ask a few questions... big questions... like, "Why did God make me this way?" and "Why would He want to help ME?" I didn't expect big answers, but Charlie had no answers at all. I hung up. Maybe Charlie was having a bad day. Indeed, he was. Two days later, Charlie pushed a .38 into his mouth, and blew the back of his head off. Obviously, he had identified the problem because he didn't shoot himself in the heart. I think we had pushed him too high up on that pedestal, and he wanted to get down in the worst way, so he found the worst way. Now, whenever people are tempted to heap more praise on me than I deserve, I step down a little. I'll take the applause for what I deserve, but no more than that. The other lesson I learned was never to let other people fix me. I had tried to put my life in Charlie's hands when he could barely hang on to his own. Now, I will pray for guidance, consult doctors and read helpful books, but all decisions remain in my hands no matter how many therapists I hire. (It took around 6 or 7 as I recall.) I needed help, yet if I could go back in time, and tell my younger self the name of that LAST therapist, it would have done me no good. It took all those other experts, and even Charlie before I could understand. It has been well over 30 years since Charlie took his own life, yet I still think of him, and I tell Charlie's story every couple of months. Charlie paid in cash for this lesson. Now I have passed it on to you. Make it count.

A Compromise on Civil Rights

Booker T. Washington is the founder of Tuskegee Institute, a teacher's college in Alabama. (It is more like a vocational school for Black people at this point, but it will eventually grow into a university.) Booker T. knows fundraising and he knows politics. He is the master of the possible. That is why he has announced a compromise between white and black people of the South. At the first, many freed slaves sought positions of leadership, starting at the top, so to speak, but with the return of sovereignty to the Southern states, the white legislatures have been passing laws to crush the political power of black people. Aside from the ugly aspects of racism, stifling the efforts of one third of the South's population is ultimately self-defeating for the South. Since Booker T. realizes that he cannot stop the destructive legislation coming down the pipeline, he proposes a compromise. Black people will stop their call for political equality, and concentrate on education... starting at the bottom and working their way up, so to speak. What is needed are teachers, nurses, and skilled laborers. He is working on what can be done right now. At first many black leaders support his compromise, but as it becomes clear that no compromise is possible. Black leaders will form a new political organization, the NAACP (the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) in 1909.
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Booker T. Washington's book, "Up from Slavery," provides some context to the times. He was intelligent, motivated and reasonably polite. What Booker T. lacked was an education. He pushed hard to get it, not by making demands, but by finding educators and demonstrating to them that he was willing to work hard. No free lunches. Once he had a baseline education, he passed it on to his fellows. At the Tuskegee Institute, they learned how to discipline themselves, to show up on time, to speak correctly and dress appropriately. Why? Because no one had bothered to teach them these basic skills before. With so much to learn, Booker T. Washington's compromise makes more sense. But as racial tensions rose, and general violence against Blacks increased, building a political organization to fight for civil rights was inevitable. When looking back we often compress time, not realizing that the passage of 10 or 15 years makes a difference. Also the goals of an organization will change over time. For example, the March of Dimes was created to fight polio in children. Now that polio has been effectively eliminated as an immediate concern, what is the March of Dimes doing now? Something else... naturally. [8] [9] [10]

Limits on the Right to Strike

Eugene V. Debs is president of the American Railway Union. He and others have joined with the factory workers of the Pullman Palace Car Company in a general strike. The purpose is to shut down all railroad traffic in and out of Chicago, but in doing so, interstate commerce and US mail delivery have been interrupted and by every indication they will continue to be interrupted. The railroads are a common carrier, and they have contracts with the US government to carry the US mail and transport troops. Thus, the Federal government has a duty to keep the railroads running. But the union strike has gone beyond a mere work-stoppage or boycott of certain services. Engines have been derailed, traffic signals have been disabled and signalmen assaulted. The American Railway Union has defied a court order to cease and desist the blocking of the railroads. After careful consideration, the Supreme Court blesses the power of the Federal government to enforce the Interstate Commerce Act, and to remove all obstructions to interstate commerce. It can also use its constitutional powers to keep the US mails operating. In other words, Eugene V. Debs and the others named in the court order are going to jail. Unions have only a limited ability to strike when employed by a common carrier such as an interstate railroad company. [11]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
In 1981 the air traffic controllers union, going by the acronym PATCO, went on strike when contract negotiations with the US government broke down. This was during the Reagan Administration. During his campaign, Ronald Reagan made it clear that he supported the unions and specifically the air traffic controllers. (Reagan had been president of the Screen Actors Guild which is a union.) PATCO endorsed the Republicans. However, when the strike went on too long, President Reagan ordered the PATCO union members back to work... or PATCO would get decertified and everyone would be fired. It was a standoff. PATCO didn't believe the President had the intestinal fortitude to fire them all. But he sure did...all 11,000 of them, and they stayed fired until President Bill Clinton lifted the ban on hiring back the old controllers. Of course, if they had waited that long to be rehired, they were probably not worth it. My sense is that the air traffic controllers had a legitimate beef concerning working hours and poor equipment, but that they overdid it with the strike. Unions are in a weak position with the common carriers and I can't image how they could fix that. [12] [13] [14]

Notable Births

  • Gracie Allen (Comedian and wife of George Burns. "Say goodnight, Gracie.") [15]
  • J. Edgar Hoover (Director of the FBI until 1972. He will scare the living snot out of politicians including Presidents because of his secret files.) [16]
  • Buckminster Fuller (He will coin "Spaceship Earth" and patent the geodesic dome. The geodesic carbon structure C60 will be called a "Bucky Ball" in his honor.) [17] [18]

In Other News

  • X-Rays are discovered. Wilhelm Röntgen (RONT-gen) will win the Nobel prize for this discovery. [19]
  • The space elevator is first conceived. The Russian pioneer of rocket science, Tsiolkovsky (sol-KOFF-ski), suggests that a tower into space might be constructed. [20]
  • Volleyball is invented at the YMCA because basketball is just too violent. [21]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1895, Wikipedia.

No comments:

Post a Comment