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Independent thoughts

Independent thoughts

Eventually I will think of things to blog that are 100% personal and 0% private. Today is not that day, but when those times come, this is where I will share my independent thoughts.

For that reason, I had thoughts of celebrating this past Fourth of July with yet another relaunch.

If you’re looking for the old blog, or the older blog, or the old older blog, I’m sure I have all the old stuff around here somewhere, but I’m not going to unearth it any time soon — not while there are so many older, better bits to revisit.

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“As we approached the brow of the hill from which it was expected we could see Harris’ camp, and possibly find his men ready formed to meet us, my heart kept getting higher and higher until it felt to me as though it was in my throat. I would have given anything then to have been back in Illinois, but I had not the moral courage to halt and consider what to do; I kept right on. When we reached a point from which the valley below was in full view I halted. The place where Harris had been encamped a few days before was still there and the marks of a recent encampment were plainly visible, but the troops were gone. My heart resumed its place. It occurred to me at once that Harris had been as much afraid of me as I had been of him. This was a view of the question I had never taken before; but it was one I never forgot afterwards. From that event to the close of the war, I never experienced trepidation upon confronting an enemy, though I always felt more or less anxiety. I never forgot that he had as much reason to fear my forces as I had his. The lesson was valuable.”
— Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant, 1885

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…we have got to be honest with ourselves that too many of us choose not to exercise the franchise, that too many of our citizens believe their vote won’t make a difference, or they buy into the cynicism that, by the way, is the central strategy of voter suppression, to make you discouraged, to stop believing in your own power…
—Barack Obama, July 30, 2020

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“James wrote to the believers: Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.” — NIV

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Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength. When you make an impasse passable, that is strength..
—Arnold Schwarzenegger, 1982

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I am a man. Nothing human is alien to me.
—Publius Terentius Afer, 163 BC

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When Ted Williams was managing the Washington Senators he often came into the umpires’ dressing room after games to talk about pitchers. Williams knew more about hitting than any man alive, but he knew who to talk to about pitching. He’d ask about specific pitches during the game — for example, was that a good pitch Mike Epstein struck out on in the third inning? We’d tell him as much as we remembered and make up the rest. He’d also ask our opinion about potential trades. I thought deals were good for baseball, so I’d always tell him to go ahead and make. ‘Sure,’ I’d say, ‘he’s great. Get him if you can.’ ‘I don’t know,’ Williams would say, shaking his head. ‘He was 0-22 last year with a 17.50 earned run average.’ ‘Yeah,’ I’d agree, ‘but you know how statistics lie.’
Once these conversations led to a potentially embarrassing moment. Every third word out of Williams’ mouth was a swear word. These adjectives were an absolutely essential part of his baseball vocabulary. One night, in Washington, President Nixon used our locker room as his ballpark office because it was small, secure and had a separate entrance on the field right next to the President’s box. They even installed a red phone in the room — and you can imagine my temptation. After the game Nixon paused to talk baseball with us. I was my usual delightful self, being smart enough not to mention football, and was in the middle of a wonderful story about me when Williams rapped on the door. The four umpires in the room became so quiet you could have heard a stolen baseball drop. The Secret Service agents brough Williams into the room. I knew exactly what was coming and closed my eyes, although that did not affect my hearing. ‘Hey,’ Williams said after being introduced to the President of the United States, ‘How the $&#* are you?’ Nixon didn’t hesitate. He looked at the four of us and said, ‘Oh, don’t worry about that. I’ve met the $&#*#$ before.’
— Ron Luciano, The Umpire Strikes Back, 1982

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“Of all the scandals disappearing in the flames of Conrad Corfield’s bonfires, none had left a trace quite as distasteful as that of the forty-year reign of the prince of a small state of 800,000 people on the edges of the Rajasthan. The Maharaja of Alwar was a man of such charm and culture that he had been able to seduce a succession of viceroys into tolerating his activities. He happened to believe that he was a reincarnation of the god Rama. As a result he constantly wore black silk gloves to protect his divine fingers from the contaminating touch of mortal flesh, even refusing to remove them to shake the hand of the king of England. He engaged a number of Hindu theologians to calculate the exact size of the turban of Rama so he could make a copy for himself.”
— Freedom At Midnight, 1975

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“We would tell him that this is no time to fight with one hand, when both are needed; that this is no time to fight only with your white hand, and allow your black hand to remain tied.”
— Frederick Douglass, 1861

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“Over time, Lee needed to draw more and more food and fodder for his army via railroad from the fertile Shenandoah Valley, which, remarkably, had managed to avoid the serious devastation. But the principal line, the Virginia Central Railroad, was in such serious need of repair by early 1863 that the superintendent informed Jefferson Davis its ‘efficiency is most seriously impaired.’ Despite a reduction of freight loads by 25 percent, the line still suffered four derailments in five days that winter due to faulty track, and this at an average speed of eight miles per hour. Repairs were impossible because laborers were unavailable. Many white workers were in the army, the superintendent complained, and black workers ran off with the Federal troops, as had nearly all the local slaves. Essentials like railroad ties, in ample supply before the war, were unobtainable, even at triple their prewar price, because there were no workers to chop down trees and make them. As a result, over the final two years of the war, Lee had to look toward the Carolinas and occasionally Georgia for more and more supplies, at greater expense to the Confederacy over railroads heavily burdened and suffering increasingly from disrepair. Nor was this problem unique to Lee’s army. Overused, inadequately maintained railroads burdened other Confederate commands as well—and the southern economy as a whole.”
— Why the Confederacy Lost, 1992

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“As Federal troops pushed up the Peninsula toward Richmond in May 1862, discipline and loyalty among slaves for their masters began to erode. First a dozen fled to Union lines, while the remainder at one plantation enforced a work stoppage, despite entreaties from Ruffin’s son-in-law to return to the fields. Over the next few weeks, more and more slaves slipped off to the Federals, sometimes in dribbles, other times in droves, so that by the end of June there were not enough slaves left to care for the crops and animals. Cutting losses, Ruffin’s son sold much of his share of slaves and livestock and relocated his remaining bondsmen to the south near Petersburg. His father attempted to salvage what was left of his property, but the haunting question remained: Why this rash of runaways, when ‘no where were they better cared for, or better managed & treated, according to their condition of slavery?'”
— Why the Confederacy Lost, 1992