Last of the Mohicans

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Is private property a good thing? I happen to think it is. Have you ever noticed how public beaches are always disgusting? No one takes pride of ownership. I’ve heard people say after throwing some trash around, “that’s why we pay taxes.”

Since at least Biblical times there’s been a tension in history between communitarian-ism and private ownership. People have written songs and novels about this tension. People have gotten into university debates and great wars over this tension.

NC Wyeth
NC Wyeth

We bemoan the loss of Indian hunting grounds even as we sit in our comfortable highrises or suburban ranches. We feel vaguely guilty because that’s what we’re told to do. Yet a study of the Iroquois nation quickly reveals that their dominance of a vast territory of the US and Canada came at the expense of other weaker tribes. They didn’t just sit around being peaceful. They were into conquest. It didn’t matter if some tribes were all about sharing.

We can say it’s primitive not to share, but the tragic thing about history is that, search as we may for a progressive walk towards enlightenment, it’s always just out of reach. I’m not celebrating “might makes right,” just pointing out that despite lofty ideals everywhere in the world the human tendency is towards this behavior. No matter the style of government or organization or friendship, might often makes right.

I lived with American communists for a while. They worked their “interns” (indentured servants) like dogs for the good of the community and the ecology. They had the land and the power to make our lives miserable. They made sure they had a voice on the local radio station and in the town council. They preached peace and love, but might makes right pushed their interns and neighbors.

hnhnhnOnce we see  this tendency to push each other around we then can see that it’s not them over there or us over here. We can stop expecting our governments to present us with good new schemes to cover our moral failures. The reason why private property is important is because without it we’re at the whim of people who could care less about us and use their might to do whatever they want. Private property gives us a stake in the game. (This doesn’t for a second mean there are perfect systems on Earth)

We can be charitable or not based on the knowledge that what Jesus said about the poor always being with us is true and no amount of second-rate political thought is going to change that. Some people are always going to be stronger, smarter and more evil than others no matter how well we institute Common Core or apologize for winning wars.

Private property means I get to keep my mind as well as my responsibility. With that I must answer to a higher power.

Books I’ve Known and Loved

All men should have his hat and his dog when trying to attract women.
All men should have his hat and his dog when trying to attract women.

Can we all agree that men polish up quite nicely in uniform? Why else would we have cop groupies? My father had a charming charisma, but the uniform brought the groupies. Anyway, men look good in uniform–especially late 19th century military uniform–I happened to notice this at all the Civil war re-enactments–when the weekend was over and some of the men came into camp dressed in modern jeans and dorky t-shirts commemorating a Gettysburg anniversary and white sneakers.

So here’s the sort of book/eye-candy I feast upon when I’m too damned tired to figure out what’s happening in Saratoga 1888 and in finance in my latest rough draft. If you like cute guys, or like uniforms or like military history or like illustration–okay, you know what I like.

Even the horse looks proud to be seen with men in uniform.
Even the horse looks proud to be seen with men in uniform.

I’d probably have to steal the trousers with the yellow stripe down the side. I don’t want to be a soldier but the tailoring of the clothes–to die for. Many women felt the same way and so even though women loved their skirts the fashion world, then as now, always threw out a few military-style garments for the ladies–no camo please.

Bad-boy punishment.
Bad-boy punishment.

We like the bad-boys with the good hearts hidden beneath the uniform–though when Richard Gere started sobbing like a baby in An Officer and a Gentleman I got kinda repulsed–but then I’m no Richard fan so . . .

Pretty colors, many flavors . . .
Pretty colors, many flavors . . .

And a bonus Sound the Charge picture of my hero General George Crook who helps save John Weldon’s ass a few times in  The House on Tenafly Road:

Frienemy of the Indians.
Frienemy of the Indians.

 

Books I’ve Known And Loved

Not just a dull, old history of battles.
Not just a dull, old history of battles.

This is one of my all time favorites. Good old John Billings. Don’t you just love a soldier who gives you the inside dirt with some wit and great illustrations? I do. John enlisted in The Army of the Potomac, but don’t let that remind you of the boring history teacher with coffee breath and endless baseball analogies. While reading this book I was thinking, “Wow, I really have a crush on this guy! He’s giving me everything I need to know about the daily ups and downs of soldiering back in the day–the slang, the food, the music and the complete jerks who could spoil a perfectly good campfire. I’m pretty sure I would have married him if I knew him.”  But that’s how I get when people give me stuff and put illustrations (done by another soldier who lived through the Civil War) in their books.

I got lucky though–I found a veteran of my own who will occasionally throw a salty sailor story my way–but for the rest of you there’s Hardtack and Coffee

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Play this first thing in the morning--your family will love you!
Play this first thing in the morning–your family will love you!
How I punish my children.
How I punish my children.