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Archive for the ‘History’ Category

from Wikimedia Commons

I don’t care where you live or what your political persuasion is, I think most people in the U.S. would say that things overall are worse in 2010 than they were in 200o.

But maybe not. This piece by Clay Risen was part of a larger article in today’s New York Times. It couldn’t have come at a better time.

The 2000s Were a Great Decade

Two recessions. 9/11. Iraq. Afghanistan. You might think the last decade was among the worst in modern history. But according to the economist Charles Kenny, author of “Getting Better,” a forthcoming book on global development, you’d be wrong. Average worldwide income, at $10,600, is 25 percent higher than it was a decade ago. Thanks to increases in agriculture efficiency, cereal production grew at double the rate of population in the developing world. Vaccine initiatives have helped cut the death rate from common diseases like measles by 60 percent. Child mortality is down 17 percent.

One of the many factors behind these improvements was increased telecommunications (especially television) in Africa and Asia: education and better health practices could penetrate communities where illiteracy and geographic isolation long stymied public-health efforts. This resulted in hundreds of millions of people who were better educated, more politically engaged and more aware of social and health issues, creating a virtuous cycle of progress.

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From T.H. White’s The Once and Future King: The young Wart, of mysterious parentage, confronts the fact that his foster brother Kay will become a knight and (so he believes) he, Wart, will never be one:

“The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlyn, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the thing for you. Look at what a lot of things there are to learn — pure science, the only purity there is. You can learn astronomy in a lifetime, natural history in three, literature in six. And then, after you have exhausted a milliard lifetimes in biology and medicine and theo-criticism and geography and history and economics — why, you can start to make a cartwheel out of the appropriate wood, or spend fifty years learning to begin to learn to beat your adversary at fencing. After that you can start again on mathematics, until it is time to learn to plough.”

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Juneteenth

JuneteenthJuneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. It commemorates June 19, 1865, the day Union General Gordon Granger and 2,000 federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, to take possession of the state and enforce the emancipation of its slaves — almost three years after the Emancipation Proclamation. It’s recognized in 31 states, but many Americans are unaware of it.

From its Galveston, Texas origin in 1865, the observance of June 19th as the African American Emancipation Day has spread across the United States and beyond. Today Juneteenth commemorates African American freedom and emphasizes education and achievement.

Here’s a link.

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IMG_1182This is the American cemetery at Colleville Sur Mer. We took this on our tour of Normandy in 2005. That’s my sister Margaret and her husband Sonny in the middle of the picture. The principal reason for this trip was to visit the Normandy monuments of D-Day.

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