Recently elected President George Washington – the first president under the then just ratified Constitution (under which the U.S. government still operates) – delivered his inaugural address in New York City on April 30, 1789. The text is eight – that’s right, only eight – pages long and is in his handwriting. Held at the National Archives, these are its first and last pages:
Ah, Monday morning:
And less than two weeks before the inauguration of a new U.S. president who has not exactly charmed half the people in the country, we need this?
Yesterday, History on Instagram shared some “history” with us.
First, nothing in that History Insta-caption above is outright false. However, it is an inch deep and far from the whole truth. For that shallowness in the current climate, and what it unleashed in the post’s comments, I unfollowed.
The other day we watched Steven Spielberg’s 2015 film, Bridge of Spies. You may know it stars Tom Hanks, playing the idealistic American he can portray so well. The film also well-conveys the tenor of its times – the espionage, mistrust, and especially pain, suffering, and even brutality, in a Germany divided between non-communist West and communist East as the Berlin Wall is erected in 1960-61, leading to the separations of friends and loved ones that would last often for nearly thirty years after.
Much of the film is historically reasonable. Yes, some minor plot points drift a bit from the historical record. For example, the episode involving the American graduate student arrested in East Berlin by the communist East German authorities deviates somewhat from the experience of the actual student.
But inaccuracies like that do not diminish the film’s contribution. With action taking place on screen as we watch and that reality making it difficult to show concurrent plotlines, and jammed into two hours viewing time or less, nearly any film that attempts to be 100 percent “history book” precise will probably be unwatchable. The key to a good historical film is it must capture the essence of the characters of the day and the spirit and general flow of events being dramatized.
After several days of rest, I got back to work yesterday. At one point, I found myself writing more about someone named Thomas Jefferson:
I did so within a web of happenings that are impacted to some degrees by his views. Writing is such freedom – and such a challenge. It’s a remarkable exercise as a writer to create a fictional environment in which you have to attack a historical figure you “generally” admire.
I open this morning by restating once again – to reassure you – that this is NOT a politics blog. But there are times I feel I have to swerve briefly into that (unseemly) arena. After all, we have heard so much about the U.S. presidential election that it was impossible here to ignore it entirely.
If you’re exhausted by the U.S. one, well, France – which is of some interest here, as you know – is going to have a presidential election of its own in April (1st round) and May (2nd round) 2017. The Socialist candidate may be the incumbent president, François Hollande. However it seems highly unlikely he will win a second five-year term.
And why? Recently, it was reported President Hollande has a 4 percent job approval rating. No, that is not a typo. I wrote *FOUR* percent:
My wife and I ventured to Belfast for Saturday and Sunday. It was our first time there. It was also an eye-opening experience:
As you may know by now, America had a big day on Tuesday. The result was not to everyone’s liking, of course. We have by now seen a great deal of this sort of reaction, this one described by Chy, at The Lost Mango:
Donald Trump is United State’s newest president. A lot of my friends cried because of sadness and fear regarding the future of our country. As you can see in the photos below, a lot of students in my university protested.
As many of you know by now, this is not a politics site. You don’t care about my personal opinions anyway. Nor really should you.
But before I go back to talking travel, fiction books, history and romance as I do usually, let me say this much…
Although I did some writing on the plane over, I’ve decided to give “Robert,” “Carolina,” “Henry,” and “Marie-Thérèse”, and the others a rest for a few days. They probably could use a short “break” from me, too. 😉 While it’s said you should write constantly, you do have to pause now and then and clear your head.
Moreover I don’t want to veer into “killing off” any characters accidentally because I’m feeling briefly somewhat “off” myself. With my mother’s one year death anniversary on the 26th, I’m trying to find a real-life “happy place.” I suppose these Catskills are one of them:
I snapped that photo yesterday afternoon. It doesn’t look like that outside now, I assure you:
The highly regarded political polling and prediction site FiveThirtyEight reported the other day that if only men voted, Republican nominee Donald Trump would overwhelmingly defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton and win the U.S. presidency:
However, the outcome would be vastly different if ONLY women voted. In that scenario, Clinton would, uh, thump Trump: