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Roosevelt Island May 31, 2009

Posted by Afflatus in Events, Explorations.
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Today I went to Roosevelt Island, Theodore not Franklin. The island is the one in the Potomac between the Georgetown waterfront and Roslyn; you can see it from our balcony (if you can call it that). It was a fantastic trip on so many levels. The island has a memorial to Teddy that is really nice. It’s immersion in nature provides for serenity that is unmatched by any other monument or memorial that I have visited. There are paths: big and small, cleared and concealed. We kayaked over there, which some guidebooks say is the easiest way to get there. The only alternative to crossing the water by boat is taking the metro to Roslyn and then walking across a pedestrian bridge (I kayaked both ways so I don’t know anything more than this.)

The Island is pretty big, it took maybe an hour to walk leisurely around the perimeter. The natural environment there was beautiful. Lots of trees, swamps, flowers, shrubbery, and wildlife. Supposedly there are water snakes, beavers, possums, and I forget the rest, but we didn’t see any of these. Today was a beautiful day, so hikers, joggers, picnickers, and visitors were ubiquitous. As a result, the so-called wildlife was nowhere to be seen by my deteriorating vision. Though we did see (and hear) many birds, and butterflies.

It’s fitting that the Teddy Roosevelt memorial would be on a largely undisturbed island as the president was a lifelong nature-lover. Roosevelt pioneered conservancy in this country at the Federal level: he began the National Park Service (among other efforts). Teddy was fascinated by Yellowstone and Yosemite, and he spent much time in Africa on safari-like adventures. Teddy was also a big game hunter and this was usually his activity of choice while in Africa — strange for a conservancy-minded man.

Quotes by Teddy found at memorial (all great, only some worthy of our quote board where some may appear later):

“Courage, hard work, self-mastery, and intelligent effort are all essential to a successful life. Alike for the nation and the individual, the one indispensable requisite is character.”

“Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars but remember to keep your feet on the ground.”

“There is delight in the hardy life of the open. There are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness, that can reveal its mystery, its melancholy and its charm.The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets, which it must turn over to the next generation. increased and not impaired in value.”

“Conservation means development as much as it does protection.”

And some photos:

Teddy was a very interesting man and President. Interesting, for one, because of his combination of machismo and nature-loving, a combination that is sadly considered eccentric in today’s culture. Enough for now, anybody know of a good biography of Roosevelt? Or, anybody want to go back? I’m down. And, PLEASE President Obama, now is the time to pass a comprehensive environmental protection plan. This is the only livable world our (meaning “human’s”) expert astronomers have been able to detect in an unfathomable amount of light years; let’s conserve AND improve the damn thing, as Teddy maybe would say.

Why We Fight May 27, 2009

Posted by Afflatus in Events, Explorations.
1 comment so far

Yesterday I went to the National Museum of American History. In general, it was a great museum. I saw cool historical artifacts such as a Woolworth’s counter where sit-in’s had taken place during the Civil Rights movement in the 1960’s. I also saw the actual flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write our national anthem following the successful defense of Baltimore Harbor in the war of 1812.

The exhibit I spent the most time in was one that covered the wars of the United States. This exhibit was entitled “The Price of Freedom.” I found this title interesting, though not surprising, and I also found it distasteful. Entitling the war exhibit in our nation’s main history museum “The Price of Freedom” implies that the we fought wars in order to defend or maintain our freedom, and this is blatantly untrue. This is hardly the case for any war we’ve fought in, with the possible exception of World War Two.

Granted, the sub-section inside about the war of 1898 (in which the US acquired Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines) was correctly labeled a war of expansion. I was happy to see this concession made by the historians employed by the Federal government to craft the history which the museum would teach.

All in all, the museum was great. It was well designed, with lots of cool interactive features, displays, sounds, and more. It is obviously worth visiting, and I hope to go back and spend more time there. Still, the title “The Price of Freedom” was disconcerting; the museums clear attempt to portray our war efforts by the singular goal of defending freedom irritated me. Am I just being picky, or does this seem wrong to any of you?