Hamilton

Today marks the anniversary of the birth of Alexander Hamilton in 1757. Hamilton, who died after being shot – by then Vice-President, Aaron Burr – in a duel in 1804, was the nation’s first Secretary of the Treasury. Love or hate the financial system he devised for the fledgling nation, it was an impressive accomplishment – and he succeeded in accomplishing a great deal in a relatively short period of time.

A prolific writer, Hamilton was the author of the majority of the Federalist Papers – the documents published to win popular support for the US Constitution, and the hybrid form of government that it described. Neither a true democracy, nor a true republic, our government was structured as both a democracy and a republic with three co-equal branches. Something that still seems to be misunderstood nearly 230 years after it was formally put into effect.

In the quote below, Hamilton lays out the purpose of the Judicial. James Madison (whose birthday is in March) described the three equal branches in Federalist #47, and expounded on the need for the separation of powers of the three branches to act as checks and balances in Federalist #51*

“But it is not with a view to infractions of the Constitution only, that the independence of the judges may be an essential safeguard against the effects of occasional ill humors in the society. These sometimes extend no farther than to the injury of the private rights of particular classes of citizens, by unjust and partial laws. Here also the firmness of the judicial magistracy is of vast importance in mitigating the severity and confining the operation of such laws. It not only serves to moderate the immediate mischiefs of those which may have been passed, but it operates as a check upon the legislative body in passing them; who, perceiving that obstacles to the success of iniquitous intention are to be expected from the scruples of the courts, are in a manner compelled, by the very motives of the injustice they meditate, to qualify their attempts. This is a circumstance calculated to have more influence upon the character of our governments, than but few may be aware of.”

— Alexander Hamilton, Federalist #78 (1788)

* Authorship of Federalist #51 is uncertain, credit is normally given to Madison, but the author may have been Hamilton.

Alexander Hamilton image from http://www.biography.com/people/alexander-hamilton-9326481

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Tuesday’s Quotes – January 8, 2018: 1st State of the Union Address

“Nor am I less pursuaded, that you will agree with me in opinion, that there is nothing, which can better deserve your patronage, than the promotion of Science and Literature. Knowledge is in every Country the surest basis of public happiness. In one, in which the measures of Government recieve their impression so immediately from the sense of the Community as in our’s, it is proportionably essential. To the security of a free Constitution it contributes in various ways: By convincing those, who are entrusted with the public administration, that every valuable end of Government is best answered by the enlightened confidence of the people: And by teaching the people themselves to know and to value their own rights; to discern and provide against invasions of them; to distinguish between oppression and the necessary exercise of lawful authority; between burthens proceeding from a disregard to their convenience and those resulting from the inevitable exigencies of Society; to discriminate the spirit of liberty from that of licentiousness, cherishing the first, avoiding the last, and uniting a speedy, but temperate vigilence against encroachments, with an inviolable respect to the laws.”

In a time of increasing willful ignorance, flat-out denial of science, in the US and elsewhere, and a distinct misunderstanding of civics in the US, it seems to worthwhile, on the 228th anniversary of the first State of the Union address, to recall some of the words that George Washington delivered on that winter’s day day in New York in 1790.

Text of the address available at https://www.mountvernon.org/education/primary-sources/state-of-the-union-address

Presidential portrait of George Washington borrowed from https://www.mountvernon.org/george-washington/biography/

 

One final piece of advice for the new year

Being short on time today, I’m back to my archives for inspiration. Tomorrow, January 8th, would have been physicist Stephen Hawking’s 77th birthday. Hawking, arguably the greatest mind of his generation, passed away in March of last year, after 50+ years of defying the odds of surviving ALS. The post below was from January 9th of last year.

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“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.
It matters that you don’t just give up.” — Stephen Hawking, 2012

Words to live by from one of the greatest minds of our era.

Physicist Stephen Hawking, who was diagnosed with ALS at 21,  turned 76 yesterday. And indeed, it mattered that he didn’t just give up. In the past 50 years, he has done an impressive amount of work in cosmology and physics -especially with the understanding of black holes.

In belated honor of his birthday, I’ve (re)shared the concluding lines from the speech he’d prepared to deliver at Cambridge at an event honoring  his 70th birthday, which he, unfortunately, was unable to attend.

Image from NASA of composite x-ray of gas emanating from a black hole at the center of the NGC 1068 galaxy, borrowed from National Geographic at http://science.nationalgeographic.com/science/photos/black-holes-gallery/#/black-hole-wind_840_600x450.jpg

Sage advice

I had an entirely different post planned for today (happens a lot these days), but then I figured I’d remain in the new year’s spirit for at least another day or two. In that vein, I thought I’d re-share this very insightful quote from J. Krishnamurti on letting go.

“It is only when the mind is free from the old that it meets everything anew, and in that there is joy.”
― Jiddu Krishnamurti

Krishnamurti, who died in 1986 at 90, was a philosophical and religious speaker. Indian by birth, he was adopted by Annie Besant, president of the Theosophical Society, as a child, and promoted by her as the leader of the new world order that the Theosophists has predicted would come. In 1929 he renounced that claim, and spent the next several decades traveling globally to speak about religion and philosophy, without identifying with any one religion, or ideology. I had the good fortune to hear him speak in Madras in 1984.

Photo of the Sloop Clearwater on the Hudson River between the Walkway Over the Hudson and the Mid-Hudson Bridge, circa 2015.

Tuesday’s Quotes – January 1, 2019: New year, same me – Welcome to 2019

“Time has no divisions to mark its passage, there is never a thunder-storm or blare of trumpets to announce the beginning of a new month or year. Even when a new century begins it is only we mortals who ring bells and fire off pistols.” — Thomas Mann

I’ve mentioned every January 1st that I don’t think of the new year as a momentous occasion – life is full of events, some big, most not. All of which form us, help us grow, change us – good and bad.  The start of a new calendar year is merely one more step along the way – at most a way of marking a fixed spot – a guidepost as it were.  I do stop and reflect with fair frequency because I’m introspective by nature, though, and it is customary, on the new year, to do some reflecting on the year that’s just passed. I don’t do resolutions (sorry to disappoint), but I do attempt a bit of forecasting. Although I must admit my crystal ball hasn’t worked in years, and if I’m honest that leaves my forecasting with only an average success rate.

On balance, 2018 was a reasonably good year (discounting politics). We are all healthy, if somewhat battered and showing signs of aging, and are mostly happy. My forecasts for 2018 were a bit off since elder daughter was unable to make the trip to the US with her husband because of a job change. However, my spouse and I managed a trip to Arizona to explore our housing options. My husband broke his leg over the summer, and as result our house only went on the market in late November (and was delisted immediately because we have an accepted offer – with the usual contingency on the sale of the buyer’s house – and dealing with backup showings just seemed to stressful). I stopped working nearly a year ago after agreeing to being downsized, and accepting a very generous package. I’ve been doing quite bit of volunteer work. My inner idealistic, semi-radical, self has maintained its footing over the course of the year. I marched for science (again). Besides my ongoing volunteer remote desk job, I’ve done other volunteer activities locally. I managed to finish NaNoWriMo this year. I kept up with this blog, but missed my forecast of a new theme and a more frequent posting schedule. Actually, I’m truly amazed by how little free time I seem to have now that I’m not working.

The future? For the blog, I will continue with my eclectic approach to posting (its name is Time For My Thoughts, after all).  3 days a week seems to be my limit, but I’d still like to increase it to 4 at some point. Perhaps in 2019. Perhaps not. I kept the 2016 theme through 2018 because I like it, and didn’t find any that I liked better. But I do think that it really is time for a change, so I’ll start testing new themes sometime this month (note for those of you not familiar with WordPress, themes are formats.)

For life outside the blog? I know some things (& don’t know many others). My nice package runs out later this month (time does fly), and so too will my income. Assuming all goes well, we will be selling the house well before spring, and after much hand-wringing, and family discussions, we decided that we will head to Arizona, leaving our younger daughter to remain in her chosen school, visiting us occasionally. Some details – like where to register her car which will stay with her, are still undecided, as is how we’ll juggle the logistics of moving 2700 miles (never mind the long distance home buying thing – or the likely out-of-state job hunting). Elder daughter is not planning a trip home this year, but our move to the southwest may actually be easier for her when she does. Younger daughter will mostly stay in New York and northern New Jersey (where her school is). She has close friends near where we live now, and my brother & his family live fairly close to her college, so it should work out well. In the meantime, we’ve started eliminating (freecycle.org is wonderful) or packing up the non-essentials.  There are, as always, many variables, and the important thing is how we adapt – not whether we can rigidly adhere to a plan. If we get too caught up in the plans, life just whizzes by in the blink of an eye, and we miss it.

Whatever your views on calendars, crystal balls, planning, or resolutions, I wish you all a happy, healthy, peaceful 2019.

Pax.

 

Photo of the Pillars of Creation courtesy of NASA.

Final post of 2018

The end of 2018 is nearly upon us – a year that, in a few respects, I’m happy to be putting behind me, although it has been, on balance, a good year for us. I am, however, stunned at the speed with which time seemed to rush by (faster and faster with each passing year).

As usual, though, I’ll save my annual philosophizing for my New Year’s post on Tuesday. And in the meantime, I’ll leave you with these words from TS Eliot:

”For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.”

Until 2019.

Pax.

Photo of the unexpected morning snow,  Sunday, December 30, 2018..