Francis Parkman's Montcalm & Wolfe

A story of the French and Indian Wars, this part intrigued me:

The great colony of Virginia stood in strong contrast to New England. In both the population was English; but the one was Puritan with Roundhead traditions, and the other, so far as concerned its governing class, Anglican with Cavalier traditions. In the one, every man, woman, and child could read and write; in the other, Sir William Berkeley [ed: long-serving Colonial Governor of Virginia] once thanked God that there were no free schools, and no prospect of any for a century. The hope had found fruition. The lower classes of Virginia were as untaught as the warmest friend of popular ignorance could wish. New England had a native literature more than respectable under the circumstances, while Virginia had none; numerous industries, while Virginia was all agriculture, with but a single crop; a homogeneous society and a democratic spirit, while her rival was an aristocracy. Virginian society was distinctively stratified. On the lowest level were the negro slaves, nearly as numerous as all the rest together; next, the indented servants and the poor whites, of low origin, good-humored, but boisterous, and some times vicious; next, the small and despised class of tradesmen and mechanics; next, the farmers and lesser planters, who were mainly of good English stock, and who merged insensibly into the ruling class of the great landowners. It was these last who represented the colony and made the laws. They may be described as English country squires transplanted to a warm climate and turned slave-masters. They sustained their position by entails, and constantly undermined it by the reckless profusion which ruined them at last. Many of them were well born, with an immense pride of descent, increased by the habit of domination. Indolent and energetic by turns; rich in natural gifts and often poor in book-learning, though some, in the lack of good teaching at home, had been bred in the English universities; high-spirited, generous to a fault; keeping open house in their capacious mansions, among vast tobacco-fields and toiling negroes, and living in a rude pomp where the fashions of St. James were somewhat oddly grafted on the roughness of the plantation,--what they wanted in schooling was supplied by an education which books alone would have been impotent to give, the education which came with the possession and exercise of political power, and the sense of a position to maintain, joined to a bold spirit of independence and a patriotic attachment to the Old Dominion. They were few in number; they raced, gambled, drank, and swore; they did everything that in Puritan eyes was most reprehensible; and in the day of need they gave the United Colonies a body of statesmen and orators which had no equal on the continent. A vigorous aristocracy favors the growth of personal eminence, even in those who are not of it, but only near it.

T. R. Reid was on Washington Journal not so long ago

This Tumblr has it.


Immortality isn't so tough

And it may happen in our lifetimes. We need a gene therapy that adds on more TTAGT (telomere) on both ends of all your DNA. When that's worn off you start dying of "old age."

Next generation, of course, is going to wish for the scientific discovery that keeps people looking young. That's not too terribly tough, either, it just involves collagen. Not injections, I wouldn't think, but a real way to replenish it and prevent it from wearing out.

So, you may live for a real long time, you yourself, but you aren't going to be sexy anymore.

Also, people are going to have to stop being so mean to their livers and lungs if we live a real long time, since the problem solved above was just "old age" and not emphysema or cirrhosis. So, as we live longer, we'll be having less fun per year earlier on.

But the alternative to (eventually) banning alcohol and cigarettes is a lifetime of medical coverage for people who might live forever but who have killed their own body. I think pot will be OK, as long as it is ingested. See: Brave New World.


If I could sum up the Spartans and the Athenians during the Peloponnesian War...

     The Athenians were a commercial empire which demanded men or taxes from its allies, whom it would ruthlessly attack if they tried to secede.  The Spartans led a confederacy and demanded little from it, but instead from their countless slaves.  This reminds me of the U.S. Civil War.

     During this Greek civil war, which lasted decades, the Spartans took a large army and stood outside the walls of a city.  The leader of the Army, Brasidas, probably the General most respected by non-Spartans during the entire war, allegedly spoke these words:

Some of you may hang back because they have private enemies, and fear that I may put the city into the hands of a party: none need be more tranquil than they. I am not come here to help this party or that; and I do not consider that I should be bringing you freedom in any real sense, if I should disregard your constitution, and enslave the many to the few or the few to the many. This would be heavier than a foreign yoke; and we Lacedaemonians, instead of being thanked for our pains, should get neither honour nor glory, but, contrariwise, reproaches.

     This, perhaps, reminds you of Iraq.
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