Sunday, March 22, 2020

March 22nd Links

  • Beautiful and solemn, this marble figure honors Maria Gouverneur Mitchell, who died of diphtheria in Philadelphia in 1898, at the age of twenty-two. Her bereft parents, Dr. S. Weir Mitchell and Mary Cadwalader Mitchell, commissioned this monument for Saint Stephen's Episcopal Church in Philadelphia, where she taught children's classes. For Dr. Mitchell, a famous physician and writer, and his wife, this sculpture represented Maria's "singularly sweet and blameless life," their grief over her loss, and the solace they found in both art and faith. To commemorate their daughter, the Mitchells turned to Augustus Saint-Gaudens, the most versatile and imaginative American sculptor of his day. [Philadelphia Museum of Art]
  • The 1925 serum run to Nome, also known as the Great Race of Mercy, was a 675 mile dog team relay of diphtheria antitoxin across the U.S. territory of Alaska, accomplished by 20 mushers and about 150 sled dogs in only five and a half days, saving the community of Nome from a deadly epidemic. The race became both the most famous event in the history of mushing and the last hurrah for a means of transportation which had opened the vast northern territory of Alaska. The gold rush town of Nome was still the largest town in the northern half of Alaska in 1925, with a population of around 1,500 souls. When the Bering Sea froze over the only link to the rest of the world was the Iditarod Trail, which ran 938 miles from the port of Seward, across several mountain ranges and through the vast Interior of the territory before reaching Nome. [link]
  • All this is possible because of the summer vacation habits of a 19th-century New York lawyer named Charles Cotesworth Beaman. Beaman, who was rich even for a 19th-century New York lawyer, loved to go to New Hampshire in summer, and he loved to give parties. It did not interest him to party with the local farmers (who were too busy getting their hay in, anyway). Beaman consequently adopted the strategy of buying all the really nice houses in Cornish as they came on the market. At one time he owned 23, dotted over a thousand acres. Then he would rent them to interesting city friends, principally artists and writers. If everything worked out right, the interesting friend presently bought the house, and then there was a permanent addition to the summer party list. Beaman's part of Cornish became known locally as ''Little New York.'' Saint-Gaudens got involved in the spring of 1885. He had a commission for the statue now known as the Standing Lincoln. The face was relatively easy: He planned to use Lincoln's death-mask as a starter. But how to model the body? His friend Beaman had a suggestion. Come to New Hampshire, Beaman said; the whole state is full of ''Lincoln-shaped men.'' In fact, why not come for the summer and rent one of the 23 houses? [NYT]
  • In a sub-valley there is a coffee shop — "we are not a coffee shop" says their sign. They are a beans shop. But if you order enough beans, you get free coffee. They are open. A risk is taken. I enter. Hands are spritz'd with alcohol. Am I being amoral? Perhaps. But I do need more beans. Also: I am fully asymptomatic, spend my days in solitude, though I know this means nothing, or seems to mean nothing. I breathe shallow breaths though the space is not enclosed. This is my first time interacting with a shop in five days. Nobody bats an eyes. Beans are ordered. A complementary cup of so-called "Geisha" is proffered. The husband goes to work on the beans while the wife lectures me on why they are the best coffee shop in town, perhaps the world. Six foot distance. How they grind, sift, roast the grit. The husband walks outside beside us on the terrace with a pan of ground beans and fans them, like embers. It's slightly maniacal. The wife turns back to me. Everyone else sucks, she says. No good. I mention famous coffee roasters of Tokyo and she shoots them all down, one by one. Daibo? Ugh, a friend drank his coffee and got sick. She is in her 70s, she is indomitable, a mother fucker of coffee queens. She asks me how I like my coffee and approves. Lord forbid you tell her you like darkly roasted beans. Murdered on the spot. The husband emerges once again carrying freshly filtered coffee and against all expectations, against all bets, it is superb. Just — damn. All that shit talking and they delivered. Really finely made coffee. I am in awe. While sitting there others come and buy beans. People are walking around outside. Children are playing, running up and down the street. I am reminded of Fukushima, the explosions, the cloud of radiation, when foreign media seemed to have very different data than local media. I find these days to be days of mental gymnastics, of reconciling what is seen or heard with that projected. Of what is happening or has happened and what isn't happening in front of us. Will it happen? [Craig Mod]
  • However admirable his attempts to reverse the Depression, stabilize banking, etc, he drew the line at a national dole for the Depression's victims. This was one of FDR's chief accusations against him, and it was entirely correct. Hoover suspected that going down that route would lead pretty much where it led Roosevelt – to a dectupling of the size of government and the abandonment of the Constitutional vision of a small federal government presiding over substantially autonomous states. He decided it wasn't worth it. So Herbert Hoover, history's greatest philanthropist and ender-of-famines, would go down in history as the guy who refused to feed starving people. And they hated him for it. [SSC]
  • I have given about four years to research into the New Deal, trying to determine what its ultimate objectives were, what sort of a system it is imposing on the country. To some people it appears to be a strange interlude in American history in that it has no philosophy, that it is sheer opportunism, that it is a muddle of a spoils system, or emotional economics, of reckless adventure, of unctuous claims to a monopoly of human sympathy, of greed for power, of a desire for popular acclaim and an aspiration to make the front pages of the newspapers. That is the most charitable view. To other people it appears to be a cold-blooded attempt by starry-eyed boys to infect the American people by a mixture of European ideas, flavored with our native predilection to get something for nothing. You can choose either one you like best. But the first is the road of chaos which leads to the second. Both of these roads lead over the same grim precipice that is the crippling and possibly the destruction of the freedom of men. [Hoover]
  • The banks in San Francisco (and even banks "back home" in St. Louis and New York) were getting in constant jams because of fractional reserve banking. One thing I hadn't realized is that San Francisco business conditions were levered to the amount of gold coming in from the mines, and the amount of gold mined was, in the short run, a function of rainfall. (Water being used to separate the gold from dirt.) In the long run, of course, the gold production decayed steadily as the most easily discovered and extracted deposits were mined. The "Hubbert's Peak" for California gold was in 1852, before Sherman's bank was even set up. [CBS]
  • Many sectors were way too levered–households with too little savings and too much debt, businesses with too little cash reserves and too much debt, and governments with too much debt and unfunded liabilities. Behavior is likely to change going forward. I expect to see a major reduction in financial intermediation. [Arnold Kling]

1 comment:

eahilf said...

Beautiful and solemn, this marble figure honors Maria Gouverneur Mitchell, who died of diphtheria in Philadelphia in 1898, at the age of twenty-two.

You can find this kind of thing in old churches throughout Europe; I most remember seeing it in Italy: beautiful works of art as family memorials -- I suppose it was also perhaps a form of buying an indulgence by contributing to the ornamental beauty of the church.

The amount of beautiful art -- architecture, sculpture, painting, music -- inspired over the centuries by the Christian religion is truly remarkable.