Yesterday I picked up my copy of the Federalist Papers and read No. 1 (Hamilton). It’s a beat-up paperback, a somewhat yellowing Mentor Book, published in 1961. Somehow fitting in its republican simplicity. Seems like I got it used in the summer of ’81 at the University Coop in Austin, probably for the Government class I took that summer at UT.
I read some of them at the time, and a scattering more later in the ’80s, but little since. Time to take it up again. Its 18th-century educated dialect — call it Enlightenmentese — was a little hard to unpack as a callow lad. Not as much now, though now and then I need to re-read a sentence to make sure I understand it.
Each paper is conveniently short: pamphlet sized, you might say. So I’m reading one a day. I ought to have time enough for that. Today was No. 2 (Jay).
Hamilton’s wisdom shines through from the get-go. From Federalist No. 1: “So numerous indeed and so powerful are the causes which serve to give a false bias to the judgment, that we, upon many occasions, see wise and good men on the wrong as well as on the right side of questions of the first magnitude to society.”
And a notion that foretold Internet comment sections, among many other things: “To judge from the conduct of the opposite parties, we shall be led to conclude that they will mutually hope to evince the justness of their opinions, and to increase the number of their converts, by the loudness of their declamations and the bitterness of their invectives.”
I also recently acquired The Shipping News and The Dharma Bums, and plan to read them soon. Reading should involve variety.
Besides this vanity map of the states, a while ago I made a map color coded according to my visits to the state and provincial capitols. It’s a minor hobby of mine.
Green represents the state capitols and provincial parliament buildings that I’ve seen inside and out. The orange-pink means that I’ve seen the capitol, but for one reason or another I didn’t go inside. White is for capitols I’ve never seen at all.
As for the two gold-orange states, Hawaii and Utah, I can’t remember whether I’ve seen or been in the capitols. You’d think I’d remember something like that, but the visits in question were in 1979 and ’80, respectively, years that are otherwise known as a long damn time ago. I was in Honolulu and Salt Lake City. I could have gone. A few years later, I would have made a point of going. But I’m not sure I did then.
How did “Turkey in the Straw” become the universal song for American ice cream trucks? This article suggests a lineage for the association. This YouTube video plays another song to the same tune, one I wasn’t familiar with.