Saturday, August 27, 2016

Gee willikers, six miles an hour!



Roller coasters have been a hit since the early 1800s in France.

The first roller coaster in America opened in 1884 on Coney Island in Brooklyn.

Hold that thought.

First roller coaster - Coney Island
LaMarcus Thompson built that wooden wonder and called it the “Switchback Railway.” Basically, the cars started at one end of a slightly elevated track, rolled 600 feet to the other end, and then rolled back to the starting point. The ticket price was a nickel. That baby traveled at 6 mph. Ladies, beware!

Nevertheless, it was a big hit and by 1900 there were hundreds of bigger and faster coasters in operation around the country.

Today, the highest roller coaster in the U. S. is Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey. It’s 456 feet high and top speed is 128 mph. Gee willikers.










Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2016 All rights reserved.

Monday, August 22, 2016

The women who pioneered electronic music



Electronic music doesn’t talk to me in a real loud voice, but this piece from OpenCulture.com rings a few bells.

It’s intriguing because it mentions the not too surprising fact that women were involved in the earliest incarnations of electronic music, back in the 1950s and even earlier.

Didja ever hear of Daphne Oram, Laurie Spiegel, √Čliane Radigue or Pauline Oliveros?

I think it’s a good bet I can say “Of course you didn’t.”

OpenCulture explains that these women represent a small sampling of too-often-overlooked electronic composers, musicians, engineers, and theorists whose work deserves wider appreciation, not because it’s made by women, but because it’s innovative, technically brilliant, and beautiful music made by people who happen to be women.”

Laurie Spiegel

Read a little bit about them and hear their ethereal music here.

Amen, sister.

I’m sticking with Odetta and Joan Baez (her early work), but this was a tantalizing interlude.








Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2016 All rights reserved.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The times they are a-changin’….



The inexorable demographic transformation of America is part of the context for the current dangerous turmoil in our politics.

For instance, TheAtlantic.com points out that less than half of Americans are now classified as white Christians. Less than 30% of the 18-29 age cohort identify themselves as white Christians.

Nevertheless, it’s true that almost three-quarters of all adults claim to be Christian (including Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox and other non-Protestant Christian faiths). So, the minority status of white Christians is largely driven by the increasing proportion of persons of color in the U. S. population.

Increasing diversity of the American citizenry is inevitable. Increasingly, ballot boxes will reflect this trend.



I think these changes will make American society richer in so many ways.

I look forward to the election of more folks who will champion the kind of government an increasingly diverse population needs and wants.







Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2016 All rights reserved.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Blame the men!



As you know, it wasn’t always true in the United States that women were “permitted” to vote.

In 1889, legislators in the Wyoming territory approved a constitution establishing the right of women to vote. Wyoming became the national pioneer in legalizing women’s suffrage in 1890 when it was admitted to the union as the 44th state. (As territories, Wyoming and a couple others allowed women to vote as early as 1869).

The Isle of Man in the Irish Sea gave women who owned property the right to vote in 1881. In 1893 New Zealand became the first country to establish national women’s suffrage.
  

In America, women were unable to vote in most eastern states until August 18, 1920, when the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified.

So, when you’re thinking about U. S. history, keep in mind that men get all the credit—and all the blame—for the actions of the colonies and the national government for the first three hundred years or so.







Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2016 All rights reserved.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Kids will be kids -- update



There has been a fascinating and, I think, poorly understood evolution of parenting and childhood since the earliest colonial days of the American experience.


Paula S. Fass writes about it in The End of American Childhood: A History of Parenting from Life on the Frontier to the Managed Child (Princeton University Press, 2006). A New York Times reviewer points out that the narrative gets a bit lost in the most recent history of “helicopter parents” who are overwhelmingly focused on controlling and protecting their children so they grow up to great lives with success and affluence and notable careers and….cue the all-important play date….make sure Joshua can get into Yale….

It’s intriguing to me to understand that colonial parents rather consciously moved away from the Old World view of children as economic resources, and adopted a more relaxed willingness to give their kids some degree of independence and flexibility in their paths to adult life. Of course, kids were put to work at a young age, but parents gave them opportunity and approval to feel engaged in the work and be open to wider horizons and innovation. Europeans thought that American children were “rude, unmannerly and bold.”

There were many circumstantial differences at work. In the colonies and early United States, there was an abundance of cheap land and a shortage of labor, and thus, pervasive opportunities for personal success. The European tradition of primogeniture was largely absent: on our side of the Atlantic, a father’s land and estate did not pass automatically to the firstborn son, so the more egalitarian inheritance practices boosted the life prospects of most children.

Of course, there’s another side to the childhood narrative: slave children in America were often treated as economic units by their owners. That’s a disgusting reality in our history.







Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2016 All rights reserved.