Monday, January 31, 2011

Why Sarah Palin Makes Us Proud: Gumption

February is Sarah Palin Month, and a good time for blogging about this remarkable American. Another good source of regular news for Sarah's supporters is Texans 4 Palin, which I've been reading for a while and added to my blog list on the sidebar.

No one "embraces change" with the legitimacy that Sarah Palin does. Her history is of a woman who makes deliberate decisions that fit the needs of the future.

She is not shackled to yesterday's best plan, she's attentive to new information and is not surprised by the unexpected.

"The next campaign" is not her mindset. She neither runs nor holds office for her ego - she has been a candidate only at those places and times that running for office made sense as a movement toward repairing something broken. Her history proves her integrity: she stays always focused on making things right.

So when, as Ethics Commissioner of the Alaska Oil & Gas Conservation Commission, she found that it was not sufficient to combat unethical behavior within the industry when questionable activities and ethical disinterest were rampant among the Republican party leadership, she did the ethical thing: she first resigned, and announced why. Then she filed good-faith complaints against those who were engaged in shady dealings.

And the minute she determined that the most fixable "brokenness" in the Alaska Governorship was the incessant filing of frivolous complaints against her in effort to push her off of the public stage, she elegantly and simply fixed two problems at once by doing the smart thing.

Just the way the Roadrunner would take a simple step to the right at the very last minute, and watch in bemusement as Wyl E. Coyote jumped right off the cliff.

The political class twittered that her resignation would be the "end of her career". They had no clue what her career was.

It wasn't - and isn't - "being a politician".

The media wanted to censor her, ridicule her, play her for a chump. From the White House Press Corps to JournoList, they bent their ethics to try to keep their "access".

She took a simple step to the right and made a Facebook page. Suddenly even the President was spending time explaining why he wasn't going to take advice from Sarah Palin.

There's access - and there's access.

Sarah Palin has the kind of access every ordinary American is born with. That's why she terrifies the Progressives. She's untouchable, and she is proof the species is not only not extinct, but is alive and thriving. A species of American that thrives without slogans, without marketing campaigns, and without "thought leaders".

A person whose self is whole and inviolable. Who can't be manipulated. Who doesn't seek favor from those who set her up for a fall and who then are angry that she's unaware of their ridicule. And she wouldn't be interested even if she were.

Sarah Palin's interest is not in "Being First Woman President". Her interest is in fixing a broken government. And she will never have to throw her hat into the ring again to do that. I hope she will - but she will only do so when it makes sense from inside her own home and her own head and her own heart as the surest means of fixing the broken stuff she's interested in fixing.

That's real integrity. That's real leadership. That's plain old American gumption.

And that's one reason why Sarah Palin is a Great American.


Photo: "Sarah in Pink Jacket at Villages Book Signing" from The Sarah Palin Information Blog Photo Gallery

Sunday, January 30, 2011

God Bless The Weekend: Saving our Endangered Days Off Together

Those who wish to pretend that Christianity is not the root of all that is best in Western culture, or that America was not founded and formed as a Christian nation forget, or have not understood, that the Holy Sabbath mandated in the 10 Commandments is the only reason workers in the Western world have a day off every week - and workers in countries that never adopted Christianity as a majority faith still cannot expect to be given one day off to have for their own.

For thousands of years in Jewish and Christian societies, everyone - even the poorest, even indentured servants and slaves (before the Christian world - and no other - freed all slaves and set the precedent the rest of the world has not yet caught up with) - even in those times, everyone was entitled to a day off every week.

For centuries, American States had "Blue Laws" that prohibited the sale of certain non-essential merchandise on Sundays. These laws protected businesses from the need to compete for Sunday business, and were thus welcomed by merchants as well as their employees.

The concept of taking Saturday and Sunday together in the weekend as we know it arose in America in various locations where Christians and Jews united to respect both Sabbath and Shabbat. As Jewish immigration increased and the Industrial Revolution led to greater demand for constant labor, America's devout Jewish population needed the same protection for their religious observance. In the tumultuous early days of the 20th century, Jewish leaders joined with labor unions to promote the five-day work week - and the standard weekend - as a uniform practice across industry.

Consistent two-day weekends enabled people of all major American faiths (and those of other religions, and non-believers) to share this time off: Jews as well as Christians, Seventh Day Adventists as well as Baptists, Catholics as well as Mormons. All Americans could perchance meet each other through shared leisure time, and common endeavors for their free hours.

By assuring that the day off was the same for everyone and every class of people, a common culture promoted community, neighborliness, family life and time to rest, relax and enjoy life together.

The American Weekend is endangered: another unnoticed consequence of the persistent drive to de-Christianize the USA.
33 out of every 100 Americans has to work on Saturday or Sunday or both (according to a 2004 study on the detrimental effects of non-traditional work schedules). Those people, and their families, may "not mind" the schedule, but they lose out on the shared family and community leisure time and activities that are much of the joy in life.

If you have ever worked different shifts from that your spouse or friends work, or had to have different days off than the rest of the world, you know how much you miss out on. Not having Saturdays and Sundays off, or at least one of the weekend days, isolates us from everyone we care about.

In today's "not an employee" employment climate, where 40 hour work weeks and paid holidays or paid vacation are more rare than ever before, fewer and fewer can afford to take a day off without pay to make a short trip with their family, camp out overnight, or go to a wedding, or spend the day in the park playing volleyball.

So if you love your weekends, if you are "working for the weekend", and want to keep having Saturday and Sunday to spend with the people you love best, thank the Christian way of life, and thank your company for continuing to adhere to the traditional weekend.

You don't have to be a believer to save the weekend by supporting those businesses who close on Sundays, like McCoy's Building Supply Centers, Chick-Fil-A and Hobby Lobby, and those local businesses in your own town.

If you know of businesses that close on Sundays, feel free to post in the comments.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Question About Tax Philosophy, and The State of The Union Address

Bear with me here. There's something that has bothered me all year, and I'd like to figure it out.

Suppose I believe that it's a good thing to pay taxes in order for the government to provide services that make our society a better place, and that in fact it is the government's job to do this.

Suppose, theoretically, that I've decried special tax deductions loopholes & tax shelters for the wealthy to prevent them having to pay the full allotment of tax due on their income and assets. Suppose I have built a career on supporting this outlook.

Let's suppose that my income for one year is already $5.5 Million, and of that, I will pay about 33% in taxes (including Self Employment taxes), which is about the same percentage that nearly every self-employed person will pay on their income, even those who only made $50 Thousand. So while it looks like a lot to say I paid $1.5 Million in taxes, it's actually not any more, percentage-wise, than, say, Joe the Plumber pays.

What if I were to have a windfall of $1 Million, and the current tax laws (which I claim are unfairly tilted toward the wealthy) will allow me to shuttle that money into my favorite tax-free charities without paying any tax on it.

In the process, I don't get a "charitable deduction", but I get something even better: I get lots of free publicity as a benefactor to these charities, and I don't have to claim the windfall as income.

If I chose not to use the loophole (which I have despised), and did claim the windfall as income, and then made the donations directly, I'd have to pay an extra $14,700. But, instead, I redirect it and "save" the money for the charities, instead of "giving" it to the government.

So in this fantasy, I, a millionaire several times over, who is campaigning to close loopholes and raise taxes on "the rich", take the loophole and avoid paying any taxes at all on $1 Million dollars.

Now, pretend all that is true, and that it isn't me, but the President of the United States.

Welcome to reality.

And 10 months after the one person in the entire universe who should be setting an example & willingly paying every penny in tax that could possibly be owed took the rich man's loophole and avoided paying a single penny of tax on the $1.4 Million Nobel Peace Prize, and took a Foreign Tax Credit of $59,000, while reporting an income - not net worth but one year's income - of $5.5 Million, Mr Obama came before the House for the State of the Union Address, and spoke thusly on 1/25/11:

"For example, over the years, a parade of lobbyists has rigged the tax code to benefit particular companies and industries. Those with accountants or lawyers to work the system can end up paying no taxes at all. "

"So tonight, I’m asking Democrats and Republicans to simplify the system. Get rid of the loopholes. Level the playing field."

"And if we truly care about our deficit, we simply can’t afford a permanent extension of the tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans. "

"Before we take money away from our schools or scholarships away from our students, we should ask millionaires to give up their tax break. It’s not a matter of punishing their success. It’s about promoting America’s success."

Not even the conservative media picked on on this, at the time or any time since. The entire world seems to feel that avoiding paying taxes is ok as long as it is legal even if it is a trick or a "loophole", even if one is the Head Tax Collector. Even if one is the President of the United States and made a campaign of complaining about loopholes for the rich.

No it isn't illegal. It doesn't violate the rules.

But isn't this odd? Am I odd for thinking it odd?

Photo: a flock of wild turkeys in Central Texas

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Hiding In Plain Sight, or, Self-Reliance is Alive and Well and Living in Real America

In "The Lost Demographic" Merv at Prairie Pundit shares an eye-opening article about statistical analysis that made me laugh out loud:

" About a year ago, executives at CNBC were alarmed to discover that they’d suddenly lost one-third of their audience. They couldn’t figure it out; news programming, as a rule, attracts the 25- to 54-year-old demographic.

"So the network delved into the data with the Nielsen Company and made a startling finding: That missing one-third was, in fact, still there. They were no longer being counted as viewers, because they’d turned 55.

They had just turned invisible,” says Alan Wurtzel, president of research at NBC Universal. “ Read it all...

This says a lot about ... a lot. All analysis is dependent on the assumptions one starts out with. Data can be clean as a whistle and clear as a bell, the researcher can be smart as a whip, but if the operating assumptions are wrong, the results will always be as wrong as wrong can be.

And the production of valid assumptions can't be formulized. Effective assumptions are ultimately reliant on very non-scientific intuition, hunches, and educated guesses by people with a talent for seeing connections and thinking for themselves.

One writer with a talent for noticing the connections is David P Goldman, who, under his nom de plume Spengler writes in the Asia Times that "Longevity gives life to Tea Party":

"In fact, the Tea Party is a triumph of economic rationality over lack of talent: its reason for being is so compelling and so clear that it has succeeded despite the silliness of some of its candidates. ..."

"Elite commentators tend to dismiss the Tea Party as a mob of engaged boos. On the contrary, pollster Scott Rasmussen, reports, the Tea Partiers tend to be older than 45, married, wealthier and better educated than the general population, and concerned first of all with federal spending and deficits.

"The most important thing to know about such people is that there are more of them than ever before in American history." Read it all...

True grassroots events such as the Tea Party occur not because of group-think or external engineering - just the opposite, in fact.

The self reliant person is not a loner or a loose cannon, but a hero and a leader: one whose decision to stand or act is made by trusting himself to succeed, whatever it takes, without waiting for someone else to join in the task or tell him what to do. One who knows it is up to him.

The Tea Party is the result of multitudes of healthy, successful individuals independently looking at our national problems, independently reaching the conclusions that (1) their own assumptions are valid and (2) the mandated or reported group-think position cannot produce correct results because it relies wholly on inaccurate assumptions.

Once the assumptions are correct, then data analysis can begin to produce accurate results.

Making such an admission comes hard for people caught up in the sheepfold. But not for the Tea Party, Sarah Palin, and the rest of us ordinary Americans of every color and heritage who are accustomed to thinking our own thoughts, selecting our own assumptions and doing our own research to reach our own accurate and trustworthy conclusions.

Friday, January 21, 2011

...And Pat Austin Blows It All Away

Leave it to an English teacher to show us how to use metaphor and simile properly. Pat leads by example and gives a good humored way to let the wind out of the " 'double barrel'effort of the left to paint every phrase and nuance as a cue to some nut job extremist or as a sign that Republicans are crazed gun toters "

Pat's latest post at "And So It Goes in Shreveport" is titled "Shooting from the Hip" and she lines up her targets and knocks 'em all down with the pragmatism only a high school teacher by choice can bring to the shooting match.

Great aim!

Monday, January 17, 2011

"You framed the imagery. Own it."

The media and progressives finally went too far. I'm a nice blogger. My little rants are polite, factual and reasonable. I don't call names and try not to embarrass or upset the people I love, including those dear to me who are progressive in their politics. I blog as a way of recovering and developing my own voice after years of writing as a corporate spokesperson, as a way of sharing things I think are important to my grandchildren, and mostly because I like to write.

I've been blogging about these persistent irrational calls for "civil discourse" for months, and my posts fell into the great unread ocean of opinion (except for, of all things, a marketing agency coordinating the campaign!). But now the media, the progressives in both parties, and the Democrat-controlled government have shown their hand, and the whole world sees their manipulation for what it is.

And now, thankfully, some other people have said it better than I ever could, in the wake of these progressive abusers' attempts to co-opt the death of decent Americans as an opportunity to further their own outrageous agendas.

Don Surber in The Daily Mail (Linked by Doug Ross ) article "I do not want civil discourse" writes:

"I have been screamed at for 10 years.

"It’s my turn now. I am not going to scream back. But I refuse to allow anyone to dictate what I say or how I say it. I refuse to allow the same foul-mouthed, foul-spirited foul people who dumped on me to now try to tell me what I may or may not say.

"My free speech matters more than the feelings of anyone on the left. You don’t like what I say?

"I will not allow people to label my words Hate Speech or try to lecture me on civility. I saw the lefty signs. The left’s definition of civil discourse is surreal.” Read it all...

And back in November, Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit gave a link to "Stop Shouting"'s "My Rebuttal to a Progressive who Admonished Me to Play Nice ...." who said she spoke only for herself, but whose words gave voice to us all. I have borrowed her words for the title of this post:

"I am tired of being told what I can and can not say.

"What is “acceptable”, while my ideas and values are mocked and trampled.

"Enough. I have had enough.


"Oh yes, your side “went there”. Not only was there no outcry about the “violent imagery”, there were claps and cheers of agreement.

"You framed the imagery. Own it."

The sanest man in America. P.J. O'Rourke, sees behind the curtain: "in the tremors and hysteria of the Times we’re seeing the sad end of liberalism."

The truth will out, always. And that is good news for the continued liberty of the American People.


Here are my own posts on the irrational "Civility" marketing campaign, and its blatant puurpose as a way of destroying conservative and legitimate free speech:

Friday, June 4, 2010
About That "Civility" Business
"The bores of Civility would so appreciate it if we would just wait in the hall until they call for us and mind our tone and trust them to make the best decisions for us. ..."

Sunday, July 25, 2010
The Progressive Habit of Firing People For Rumors About Their Opinions
"I don't know what this new system of facade management is called but American it is not...."

Tuesday, August 10, 2010
The Civility Mirror Crack'd
"How pitiful that Mr Leach was unable to speak of understanding others until after erecting a full set of barriers that exclude the vast majority of the world's population who still find value in contests of strength, in competition in business, in the capacity to achieve an effective deterrence and a successful defense - all engaging the "violence and aggression" that Mr Leach arbitrarily and specifically declares "of course unacceptable" as though there has been some recently attained great consensus of 8 billion people to simultaneously deny their natural, normal, healthy and essential humanity in favor of this year's emergent etiquette fiction."

Sunday, August 15, 2010
def·i·ni·tion: a statement of the meaning of a word
"We see this misappropriation of standard English words in many of the calls for "civility" - which itself has been co-opted to describe a peculiar system of "anger management" intervention rather than the full historical breadth of meaning - as these calls claim new objections to specific traditional words they want deleted from opponents' lexicon, yet do not establish a process that allows dissenters to impose similar restrictions on their own vocabulary. "

Sunday, January 16, 2011
Dr Martin Luther King Jr's Answer to Calls for Civility
"We must come to see that, as the federal courts have consistently affirmed, it is wrong to urge an individual to cease his efforts to gain his basic constitutional rights because the quest may precipitate violence. Society must protect the robbed and punish the robber."
Quote from Dr Martin Luther King Jr

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Dr Martin Luther King Jr's Answer to Calls for Civility

On Calls for Civility:

"In your statement you assert that our actions, even though peaceful, must be condemned because they precipitate violence. But is this a logical assertion?

"Isn't this like condemning a robbed man because his possession of money precipitated the evil act of robbery? Isn't this like condemning Socrates because his unswerving commitment to truth and his philosophical inquiries precipitated the act by the misguided populace in which they made him drink hemlock? Isn't this like condemning Jesus because his unique God-consciousness and never-ceasing devotion to God's will precipitated the evil act of crucifixion?

"We must come to see that, as the federal courts have consistently affirmed, it is wrong to urge an individual to cease his efforts to gain his basic constitutional rights because the quest may precipitate violence. Society must protect the robbed and punish the robber."

Dr Martin Luther King Jr "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" (1963)

On the Consitution, Freedom of Speech, and Freedom of the Press:

"All we say to America is, "Be true to what you said on paper." If I lived in China or even Russia, or any totalitarian country, maybe I could understand the denial of certain basic First Amendment privileges, because they hadn't committed themselves to that over there. But somewhere I read of the freedom of assembly. Somewhere I read of the freedom of speech. Somewhere I read of the freedom of the press. Somewhere I read that the greatness of America is the right to protest for right. And so just as I say, we aren't going to let any injunction turn us around. We are going on."

Dr Martin Luther King "I've Been To The Mountaintop" (1968)

On Perspective:

"You know, several years ago, I was in New York City autographing the first book that I had written. And while sitting there autographing books, a demented black woman came up. The only question I heard from her was, "Are you Martin Luther King?" And I was looking down writing, and I said yes. And the next minute I felt something beating on my chest. Before I knew it I had been stabbed by this demented woman.

"I was rushed to Harlem Hospital. It was a dark Saturday afternoon. And that blade had gone through, and the X-rays revealed that the tip of the blade was on the edge of my aorta, the main artery. And once that's punctured, you drown in your own blood — that's the end of you. It came out in the New York Times the next morning, that if I had sneezed, I would have died.

"Well, about four days later, they allowed me, after the operation, after my chest had been opened, and the blade had been taken out, to move around in the wheel chair in the hospital. They allowed me to read some of the mail that came in, and from all over the states, and the world, kind letters came in. I read a few, but one of them I will never forget. I had received one
from the President and the Vice-President. I've forgotten what those telegrams said. I'd received a visit and a letter from the Governor of New York, but I've forgotten what the letter said. But there was another letter that came from a little girl, a young girl who was a student at the White Plains High School. And I looked at that letter, and I'll never forget it.

"It said simply, "Dear Dr. King: I am a ninth-grade student at the Whites Plains High School." She said, "While it should not matter, I would like to mention that I am a white girl. I read in the paper of your misfortune, and of your suffering. And I read that if you had sneezed, you would have died. And I'm simply writing you to say that I'm so happy that you didn't sneeze."

"And I want to say tonight, I want to say that I am happy that I didn't sneeze."

Dr Martin Luther King "I've Been To The Mountaintop" (1968)

Read up on the life of life of Dr. King. Try Barnes and Noble coupon codes for possible savings.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Part Two: 18th Century Business Women in Publishing: Limited Only By 20th Century Interpretation

We like to recognize "firsts", but so often that's the least interesting part of the story. Mary Katherine Goddard's career is most fascinating to me because it was neither unusual nor controversial in its time. In fact she reflects the ordinariness of a successful business woman in the 18th century, when women published 16 newspapers in the colonies - nearly a quarter of the 78 papers put out each week.

And that is only the women who owned the presses: how many more were employed in all these various shops, as unheralded as the also forgotten men who worked beside them?

Printing was actually a rather common occupation for a woman in the 17th and 18th (and 19th) Centuries. So common that it was little remarked. In 1638, Elizabeth Glover (who later married Harvard's first president) founded the first press in Massachusetts. Her Cambridge Press published the famous "Bay Psalm Book", the first book printed in the colonies.

A publishing dynasty began in 1738 when Elizabeth Timothy took over publication of the South Carolina Gazette as Benjamin Franklin's partner, then left the press to her son who operated it until his death, when he was succeeded by his wife Ann. Cornelia Bradford succeeded her husband as publisher of Philadelphia's American Weekly Mercury in 1742.

Anne Catherine Hoff Green continued the family publishing business in Anapolis after she was widowed in 1767, and became the official printer for the Maryland General Assembly in her own name. Her business was later renamed "Anne Catherine Green & Son, Printers", but she retained control of the reins and they worked for her. Two of her sons and her granson followed her in earning their livelihood as printers.

Following her husband's death in 1773, Clementina Rind ran the Williamsburg Virginia Gazette and was named official printer of Virginia.

Again and again we hear feminists say these women "don't count" because they were only in business by default through their husbands or fathers. They are excluded from lists of Firsts and from lists of accomplished women.

These stories do not show what they are assumed to by people who fail to understand the substance of legal marriage in a predominently Christian or Jewish society as a full joining of male and female into a single social and economic entity as well as a spiritual and physical one. In older days, widows were frequently elected to political positions, including Governor, in
their own right, by a citizenry that fundamentally credited women as full partners in all the achievements of the marriage, recognizing either party's success as stemming from a united purpose.

Is that an old fashioned way of looking at things?

Strangely, even this common occurance in our earlier history of electing women as Governors is poo-poo'ed. Texas tied with Wyoming, both electing women as governors on 1924 - the same year than New Mexico's Hispanic Woman Secretary of State served as interim governor of New Mexico.

These stories are ignored, discounted, and actively hidden by agenda-driven feminists and progressive writers & academics, playing with semantics. One wonders why they refuse to admit to those early accomplishments, and even more why they dually ignore similar husband/wife mutual interests today.

Why? It does not lessen any person's own accomplishment to admit that others have also achieved a position. It does not make the one greater to ignore history and accuracy in reporting.

Did anyone blink when Kimora Lee Simmons took over as CEO of Phat after her ex-husband & company founder Russell Simmons stepped aside? Do people say her achievements "don't count" because her husband started the business or because they ran it as partners? No? Of course not - it would be outrageous to apply that logic. It is just as outrageous to discount the talent and earned prominence of other wives in earlier eras.

Consider how the legacy of Mrs. Coretta Scott King was her own yet inextricably joined with that of her husband, Dr Martin Luther King.

Or the appointment of Missouri First Lady Jean Caranhan, widow of Governor Mel Carnahan, to the US Senate in 2001 in the place of her husband who had passed away during the campaign for Senator and been elected postumously. Had Hilary Clinton been more focused on winning the nomination and less intent on proving she was not running as Bill's wife, she'd be our President today.

Margaret Chase Smith still holds the record as the longest serving, most successful female US senator - and she was originally elected as the widow of the Congressman upon his death.

Does anyone discount the achievements (or controversies) of Indira Gandhi because she succeeded her father Jarawalal Nehru as Prime Minister of India? Or claim that Benazir Bhutto was twice elected Prime Minister of Pakistan only because her father had held the office before her?

Just so, these women in Colonial times were not mere tokens thrown by chance tragedy into business, struggling ineffectually against an adversarial society. Far from it. The original sources show they were accepted without question and with full confidence in their capacity to run a profitable business and meet the exacting needs of their clients.

Photo: From an 1865 issue of Harper's Weekly "The Magazine of Civilization", image of workers (both women and men) in a large commercial printing operation.

Other articles in the theme:

Read Part 1 - 18th Century Equal Opportunity & Success: Some Women Printers in Colonial America

Read - Working Women in Earlier America: Not so Uncommon After All

Thursday, January 13, 2011

18th Century Equal Opportunity & Success: Some Women Printers in Colonial America

In honor of Benjamin Franklin's birthday (coming up on the 17th), here's a bit of history about some of the people who moved in his circles during those Colonial times leading up to the American Revolution.

Letterpress Printers think of Ben Franklin first as a printer - Poor Richard's Almanac set out proverbs that are still quoted today, and Franklin himself described his occupation foremost as "Printer". Postal employees think of Ben as First Postmaster General of the US. In the process of talking or writing about the great man, it's easy to overlook that other people in those days combined the Printer/Postmaster occupations with distinction, including several members of the Goddard family of New London, Connecticut.

Here again, printers like to talk about Sarah Updike Goddard, her daughter Mary Katherine Goddard, and her son William Goddard, as printers in the young Republic, while the USPS recognizes William Goddard and his sister Mary Katherine as significant figures in US Postal History. It is interesting to read the different slants that appear from the different perspectives.

Thus, it is Mary Katherine Goddard (1738-1816) Postmaster of Baltimore, who is first held up by printers as a heroine, whose early edition of the Declaration of Independence was commissioned by the Continental Congress as a definitive version of the document. At the time it was common for Printers/Publishers to take up the role of Postmaster to expand their circulation while reducing their costs and preventing competitors from gaining advantage.

Mary Katherine was following in her father's - and her mother's - and her brother's - footsteps. Giles Goddard was Postmaster of New London Connecticut until his early death, and his wife Sarah Updike Goddard probably took over in his place as one of the early Postmasters during the Colonial period (when everyone was "one of the early" from a historical standpoint) under Crown rule. Together with Sarah's son - Mary's brother - constitutional activist William Goddard, the family operated a publishing, printing and distribution business that figured prominently in early American History.

It was a family business that perfectly utilized the talents of the partners: Sarah as financier and Publisher, William as the charismatic promoter and advance man, Mary as printer and eventually as General Manager.

Sarah Updike Goddard's main work was in Providence, Rhode Island, where she published the Providence Gazette. The family had multiple connections to Ben Franklin, and we see the first here, when Sarah took on Ben's former apprentice John Carter as a partner. She operated the print shop until 1768, when she sold it to John Carter and moved to Philadelphia. There she joined William and Mary Katherine in building up another printing business. Sarah Updike Goddard died in 1770, at the age of 70.

William was a patriot, committed to the cause of liberty, who established a series of pro-independence media concerns: newspapers in Philadelphia and Baltimore, print shops, and, significantly, founded the "Constitutional Post", a mail collection and distribution network to give the colonies safe and private means of communication outside the official channel of the Royal
Post. When independence was declared, Goddard's Constitutional Post became the framework for the United States Post Office. Unfortunately, it was summarily co-opted by the fledgling government without compensation.

Mary Katherine Goddard was the first woman officially appointed Postmaster by Congress after independence was declared. Often labeled "First woman Postmaster in the country", she was not, nor was she the first or only woman serving as official printer to government. She became Postmaster in Baltimore in 1775 and was the only woman Postmaster we know of holding office at the time the colonies transitioned into the United States. She served until 1789.

(I say "that we know of", for early Postal records do not list the gender of the employee, so information prior to the mid 19th century cannot be conclusive. As with printing, Postmaster was also a job so frequently held by women at this early time as to be unremarkable (and thus not mentioned as an oddity in any accounts). Further, however precise record keeping may have been at the time, much is likely to have been lost. For instance, the town I live in got its first Postmaster in 1875. The official list of Postmasters for the town is fairly complete for early years but has question marks for names from 1973 through 1981, and even has gaps within the past 10 years. )

In 1784 when the siblings each published a competing Almanac, Mary Katherine had a falling out with William, after which they parted ways, with him taking over the publishing business while she retained the book business.

She filed no less than five lawsuits against him.

When replaced as Postmaster in 1789 due to a reorgnization of the department that required a traveling Postmaster for the Baltimore region, she complained all the way up to President Washington and the Senate.

Despite petitions from a couple hundred local customers, the needs of the rapidly expanding city for an more robust postal organization were more compelling. Mary Katherine remained in Maryland and continued her book business, although now she had to pay postage when she mailed them.

Goddard was successful in her enterprises, amassing assets of cash, property, books, printing equipment. She also invested in slaves, owning as many as four men and women during one census, and at least one woman at the time of her death in 1816 whom she freed in her will. Unmarried and without her own children as heirs, Goddard disinherited her relations and left the woman, whose name was Belinda Starling, her entire estate as well as release from

One wonders why these people didn't free their slaves and bondservants while they were still living. We can only surmise that they approached this as a kind of "estate planning" much like some today who create elaborate wills and oppose estate taxes on the wealth they leave behind, rather than dividing with their heirs during their lifetime. It is a chilling thought, and one worth pondering.

Mary Katherine Goddard died in 1816, at the age of 78. William died the following year, aged 77.

(Have you ever noticed just how many of the people we read about from hundreds of years ago lived as long as we do, despite not having blood pressure meds and Ensure? While life expectancy has risen over the years, not a single millisecond of time has been added to human life span. That's a topic for another time.)

Click here to go to Part Two of this article: 18th Century Business Women: Limited Only By 20th Century Interpretation

(Photo: Illustration in "A Concise History of Printing" published in 1770, that pictures a press similar to that which these printers would have used. This is one of the oldest books in my library. The quality of the paper is such that it remains strong and flexible today. )

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Meet The 2 Snoops

Here's the scenario:

Two sisters spend their careers fighting crime in a big-city Texas sheriff's department. They each retire to the country with their husbands, and nestle into ranch life in a tiny rural community. Life is peaceful, and full of homespun activity.

On a lark, they decide to open an heir-locator business to help people claim inheritances they may not have known they had. But they need their PI License first. The business just expanded before it even got started.

Meet Sheila and Grace: 2 Snoops Private Investigations.

They find people.

Sounds like a great setting for a cozy mystery novel doesn't it? But 2 Snoops is real, and they are my friends, and they are very good at locating old friends, out of touch classmates, long lost cousins.

They also bring a hefty experience to background checks and other kinds of information research. Their license gives them access to information sources, and their experience gives them a knack for knowing where to look.

Of course, there's also the grittier side of P.I. work, for bail bond companies, insurance companies, and other businesses who have need to trace individuals.

All chatting aside, Sheila and Grace are seasoned, efficient professionals who understand their business and the needs of their clients.

As Private Detectives, they have found a way to put their training and experience back to work in a new way, and I wish them much success in the venture!

If ever you need the services of an investigator, please give them a call.

P.S. Sheila gave me this cool pen and I promised to show it off. That's the extent of my "compensation" for blogging about them! ;-)

Thank you!

Thanks to Pat for the link at And So It Goes in Shreveport. Her weekly "Full Metal Jacket Reach Around" is always a good wrap up of interesting posts, and I appreciate being included. :-)

Thanks also to Clifford at Red Stick Rant for the link on his sidebar. Much appreciated.

Both of these fine blogs, and many others well worth reading for diverse subjects, have permanent links in Pecan Corner's sidebar under "My Blog List", which is where I keep those I read daily. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Great Horace Greeley on Funding Education

Horace Greeley on having only the education one's parents can afford:

"The last Summer that we lived in New Hampshire, an offer was made by the leading men of our neighborhood to send me to Phillips Academy at Exeter, and thence to college, — the expense being so defrayed that no part of it should fall on my parents. They listened thoughtfully to the proposal, briefly deliberated, then firmly, though gratefully, declined it; saying that they would give their children the best education they could afford, and there stop. I do not remember that I had then any decided opinion or wish in the premises ; but I now have; and, from the bottom of my heart, I thank my parents for their wise and manly decision. Much as I have needed a fuller, better -education, I rejoice that I am indebted for schooling to none but those of whom I had a right to ask and expect it."

Horace Greeley "Reflections of a Busy Life" 1868, page 47

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Of Pocket Knives and Paring Knives: Peeling Our Own Apples

Clifford at Red Stick Rant posted this morning about the outrageous case of a girl suspended from school for having an eating utensil in her lunch bag: "On The Cutting Edge Of The Nanny State". I posted a reply there but decided to expand it a bit here.

I still have - and carry - the little pocketknife my grandfather gave me when I was 7 or 8. In the 1960s, a pocketknife was an essential tool and every pocket and pocketbook had one, children as well as adults. This is a small 2" two-blade knife with a yellow marbleized handle. That's it in the photo above. I don't carry or use weapons. I use TOOLS. My knife is a tool.

The main thing my pocketknife was used for in my youth was removing splinters and stickers and bee stingers. Over the years, it also trimmed loose threads, sharpened pencils, cut fruit, trimmed hangnails, opened letters, cut patches for bicycle inner tubes, scraped gum off the soles of shoes, uncorked a wine bottle, dug an arrowhead out of the ground, loosened and tightened screws, pried off lids, opened tamper-proof packaging...

My boys each got their own little pocketknife around the same age. It was a ritual that every boy's grandfather or father gave them their first good pocketknife - the all-purpose tool they would carry with them and treasure for the rest of their lives.

A modern pocket knife is the exact same tool that a worked bit of flint is. It is a fundamental human belonging: the use of a knife predates the harnessing of fire! A knife is an inseperable component of human natural history. It is as essential as shelter and to human life: our first tool is still the ultimate tool.

A knife is not a weapon: a person intent on injury is a weapon, and they will find a tool for their purpose, whether that be a stick or a string, their own strength or something else.

Children as well as adults have a right to feel competent to manipulate their environment and provide for their own needs - including their need to peel fruit, sharpen their pencil, trim their fingernails, and frankly, to carve their initials in a tree in a heart with their first love.

(And furthermore, I think a high school kid should have a right to not have secret searches of their belongings by strangers, but that's another issue).

Clifford posted a link to and I haven't looked through it yet, but the front page has an endorsement from Ted Nugent.

It is outrageous that in the United States of America of all places, we should have to join PACs in order to preserve our ancient and uninterrupted human right to make and own and carry and use the tools that fundamentally define not only human cultures, but earthly humanity itself.

I could say a lot more, but playwright James Goldman gave the best words to Eleanor of Aquitaine (played definitively by Katherine Hepburn) in The Lion in Winter:

"Of course he has a knife. He's always has a knife. We all have knives. It's 1183 and we're barbarians. How clear we make it.

"Oh, my piglets, we are the origins of war -- not history's forces, nor the times, nor justice, nor the lack of it, nor causes, nor religions, nor ideas, nor kinds of government, nor any other thing.

"We are the killers."

The vast majority of us are not as disfunctional and violent as those characters. For 99.99999999999999% of Americans, a knife is just an eating utensil, a paring knife is just a tool for peeling an apple.

And I think I have a human right to cut my own meat, and peel my own apples, whether I am at school or at home, whether I am 10 years old or 110.


Related Posts with Thumbnails