Nancye Tuttle calls Tryst “captivating, frightening and all-enveloping. Read her review of the Merrimack Repertory Theater’s latest play on Nancye’s blog.
Marie just did a post about efforts to save the Wilderness Battlefield in Virginia, the place where Lowell resident Henry Abbott was killed in action. Above is a photo of his monument in the Lowell Cemetery, which sits alongside an identical monument for his brother Edward, who was killed earlier in the war. Note the upturned cannons at the corners of the curbing that surrounds the lot. The Abbott grave is right next to the cemetery’s chapel.
As the Sesquicentennial remembrance of the American Civil War begins, battles continue for ground considered sacred by many but just land and areas ripe for commercial development by others. Back in July we blogged about the plans for a new casino – too close for some to the blood-soiled battlefields of Gettysburg. Read my post here.
Since the early 1980s preservationists led by The Civil War Trust have raised funds, gotten grants and land donations to preserve about 29,000 acres of battlefield lands. But much had already been lost – historic buildings razed while other are choked by incroaching development. Even the National Park Service struggles to maintain and preserve this precious history.
Now the preservationists and developers skirmish over a super-sized Walmart planned for the Wilderness Battlefield area in Virginia. The Battle of the Wilderness was one of the most significant engagements of the Civil War – where nearly 186,000 Union and Confederate troops battled for two days. Legendary generals Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant faced off against one another. For locals and the Lowell connection – Major Henry Livermore Abbott of Lowell of the 20th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry died here during this battle. The Wilderness also marked the beginning of the end of the Civil War and is considered as important to American heritage as Gettysburg, Antietam, or Appomattox.
And so as countless numbers of Americans come to honor and remember the Civil War that started 150 years ago and what it means in American history – the big box of Walmart, the cry of the slot machine and a “sea of asphalt” could indeed be their first impression!
Read these articles to learn more about the rally of hundreds of historians, preservationists, academics and National Park advocates – including Pulitzer Prize-winning historian James McPherson, filmmaker Ken Burns and actor Robert Duvall – against the encroachment on this hallowed ground.
From National Trust for Historic Preservation – “11 Most Endangered Historic Places: Wilderness Battlefield.”
From Newsweek – “Battle Over the Battlefields” One hundred and fifty years after the start of the Civil War, we’re still fighting. This time it’s development vs. preservation—and development’s winning
H. L. Abbott and the 20th Massachusetts were in Hancock’s II Corps – perhaps the best corps in the Army of the Potomac (see map) . For more on Abbott check this link. He is buried in the Lowell Cemetery.
The entry below is being cross posted from Marjorie Arons-Barron’s own blog.
It’s good to know that, when we’re tired of the political vitriol and the rantings of Sarah Palin as she insists she is being “blood libeled,” we can turn for sport to the most recent iteration of the mommy wars. For decades, this has referred to the debate between the virtues/shortcomings of working moms versus stay-at-home moms. But a new book by Yale law professor Amy Chua has unleashed the furies in a whole new way. Chua’s new book, “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” was selectively excerpted a week ago in the Wall St. Journal.
Her basic thesis, the foundation on which she has raised her children, is that American parents are too permissive, too concerned about children’s self esteem, too accepting of anything less than excellence. Her “tiger mother” approach is authoritarian and unyielding: no after-school sports, no sleepovers at friends’ houses, drill and retest and drill again if a grade slips, threaten to destroy a beloved stuffed animal if the child’s musical practicing doesn’t yield perfection; scream; harass into compliance. You get the idea.
The excerpt produced the most prolific reader reaction ever experienced on the Journal online, more than 5700 reader responses. The Journal then published an opposing view in “defense of the guilty, ambivalent, preoccupied Western mom,” a sampling of tons of letters on both sides of the debate about what constitutes good parenting, and a defense and qualification by Chua herself. There have been more than 100,000 comments on Facebook, articles in local papers, and a column this morning by no less than David Brooks entitled, “Amy Chua Is A Wimp.”
Clearly the discussion tapped more than unease about whether we’re raising our children the right way. Let’s face it, the wisdom of the maturation process lets us know that, wherever we are on the authoritarian/permissive spectrum, we – and certainly our kids – will determine that we’ve done something wrong. But the intensity of this debate suggests it may be a proxy for our concerns about 21st century economic competition with China.
Some critics suggest that the harsh discipline of the Chinese emphasis on rote learning creates high achievers who perform well on tests but dampens the capacity for creativity. Brooks goes further and asserts that the skills a child achieves in sleepovers and other social interactions prepares children in “managing status rivalries, negotiating group dynamics, understanding social norms, navigating the distinctions between self and group.” All these are important, he points out, because most people do work in groups.
And, while Brooks may well be writing tongue-in-cheek that “the school cafeteria is more demanding than the library,” he still raises a valid point that, while learning “things” and getting good grades is very important, there are other ways by which to measure learning and fulfillment. Fostering innovation and creativity is a very American phenomenon, and it may not be a reach to look at how we’re raising our kids to understand one reason why R & D happens in the United States, and manufacturing (the rote assembly-line jobs) have moved to China.
Most of us, concerned that our children’s generation may be the first not to improve on the standard of living that we enjoy, would like to have it both ways: R&D and keep manufacturing at home, just as we want disciplined academic performers with well-rounded personalities, able to interact easily with others and at home as well in the worlds of sports and music. How to achieve that is a major challenge facing us as parents and as policy-makers. No doubt our uncertainty that we are doing the right thing just expresses in microcosm what our nation is grappling with as it interacts with China going forward. (Note the significance of Hu Jintao’s visit to the White House this week.)
“Tiger Mother” is about much more than parenting. It should be seen as a logical successor to Chua’s earlier provocative books, “World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability” and “Day of Empire: How Hyperpowers Rise to Global Dominance–and Why They Fall”
Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.
In the Boston Globe Magazine today, the Boston Uncommon feature highlights author Andre Dubus III of UMass Lowell and Newbury because he has a new book due out in February, “Townie,” a memoir about growing up and boxing and writing in Haverhill. Read the Q & A here, and get the Globe if you want more.
Frequent contributor Steve O’Connor share some thoughts on Comcast, MTV, and that cable channel’s controversial new show, Skins:
I spent a half hour on the phone yesterday, half of that on hold, with Comcast. I had been watching a report on CNN earlier about a new drama called “Skins” to be shown on MTV. One sponsor, Taco Bell, I believe, has already backed out of advertising during the show, which apparently depicts sex, drug use, and getting drunk among high school kids. Some of the actors are as young as fifteen. Many of the viewers will be younger, I’m sure. Just when you thought the bar of American culture couldn’t get any lower.
MTV defended itself against critics by insisting that they were just reflecting the reality of young lives. They are misunderstood artists of course. Meanwhile, I’m a parent who is just fed up with the rubbish that MTV has been flinging in the faces of our young people for so many years. It’s been a battle getting my kids to turn the channel on shows during which every other word is bleeped out. The characters, in reality shows or dramas, are usually spoiled and self-obsessed, back-stabbing, gossiping, materialistic individuals who are only happy when they are admiring themselves in the mirror, getting drunk in a hot tub, or bad-mouthing some so-called friend.
The Comcast representative, an extremely polite woman who I understand is just doing her job, informed me that it’s possible to block channels. Well, we don’t have a box on every TV, so that’s not really an option. The V chip blocks by content, so in blocking MTV, I might be unable to watch Band of Brothers on the History Chanel, or movie that depicts a sex scene which is not gratuitous, but part of a story with redeeming value, maybe with characters who actually love each other and sacrifice for each other. I guess it’s the shallowness, the mindlessness, of MTV’s brand of sex or “hooking up” and partying that troubles me more than anything.
I’d like to suggest, if you have Comcast, that you take a look at the Digital Economy package. Half the price, and you get basic Service, plus the cable news networks, A&E, Discovery, Food Network, AMC, History, Hallmark, C-Span 2, Disney, and a lot of others, but no MTV. It’s time to send a message to this company that we’re tired of the “reality” they insist they have to reflect. I’m not bringing up my kids to be monks or nuns, but I am trying to teach them some values. Why would I want to pay to have “Skins” in my home?
Perhaps I should wait until tomorrow for this post, because I have something positive to say about the Lowell Sun and a day when the temperature might not rise above 0 degrees would be somehow appropriate for that. But this news is too important to wait.
The Sun is discontinuing Topix, its online comment feature where comments often rivaled those found on the stall of a public restroom in their crudity. The newspaper itself acknowledges this in today’s article:
The Sun’s previous comment board was not moderated, and some commenters were posting remarks that ranged from abusive to racist. The cloak of anonymity enabled too many to make the kind of remarks they would never make if they were required to identify themselves.
The Sun seeks a civil debate on the issues of the day, and there is no lack of those issues locally, statewide, nationally and internationally. Views that are counter to those of The Sun’s editorial page are welcomed and encouraged, but the vile statements that too often marred the online comments section in the past are not.
In place of Topix, the Sun will launch Disqus, an application already in use by many other media websites. People wishing to comment are invited to create a verified Disqus account. Once that’s done, your comments will go up on the site immediately (along with your identity). You may also use Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo accounts to comment in this way. If you want to remain anonymous, you can, but comments submitted that way will go into a moderation queue and, even if they make it onto the site, their appearance will be delayed.
Topix was a bit like a car wreck: it was tempting to look at because it provided a cheap, irrational thrill at someone else’s expense. Any kind of meaningful community discussion was snuffed out on Topix by the bullies who flourished in its anonymity. The various blogs in Lowell have demonstrated that reader comments can greatly enrich the discussion of a topic while retaining civility. The local newspaper – and by extension the entire community – could only benefit from transitioning to a similar environment. So congratulations to the Sun on making this switch.
The following anecdote comes from writer Steve O’Connor, who got the report from a comrade downtown. Without revealing the protagonist so that he won’t get accosted at a later date on Central Street, I want to share this example of one man being a Superhero of the City for the way he stands up for civil society and decent sidewalks. Anyone who says the artists aren’t adding enough value to the city should consider what these defenders of “beauty” do out there every day. This artist shows there’s more than one “Fighter” in Lowell. For publication, I revised a few words in deference to standards and practices at rh.com. Following is the story in the artist’s voice.–PM
“Speaking of dumping, how about the one where I confronted a piece of crap on Central Street. We were approaching each other from, obviously, opposite directions and just as we were about to pass each other he ejected a compact disc onto the sidewalk from some mechanical device he was cradling. Right next to the disc was a trash barrel.
“We both continued on for about ten steps before I looked back to see if he had picked it up. He hadn’t, and so I called to him, ‘Hey, you dropped something.’ He turned, dropped his backpack on the sidewalk, and shouted, ‘You want to make something of it?’
“Now, the guy topped me by about 150 pounds, and I topped him by about 50 years, and, although in my mind I sometimes still think like a 20-year-old, all I have to do is look in the mirror in the morning to realize I can’t move like I think I might. So when I turned and approached him at a brisk pace (my natural walk), it wasn’t with the intent of confronting him in a Micky Ward kind of waltz . . . it was simply to engage him in a civics lesson without shouting.
“But when I stopped about two feet in front of him, I saw his eyes were popped open with surprise and uncertainty of what had just changed in the situation. I was equally surprised at his surprise but, collecting myself, proceeded to tell him that it would be just as easy to put his trash into a barrel as on the ground. Realizing that I probably wasn’t going to put my 76-year-old fist into his fat gut, he informed me that it didn’t matter what he did because Lowell was a crap-dump anyway, so who cares.
“My completely rational and considered reply was, ‘If Lowell is a dump, it’s because of effing lard a-holes like you dumping your crap on the ground when you’ve got a trash barrel right next to you.’ Then I turned and went on my way. End of escapade.
“The only regret I have about this encounter is that, because it happened on the bridge over the canal (and here my fantasy really takes hold), he didn’t lunge at me and I, in my superhero mode, didn’t step aside only enough to assist him in his headlong flight over the railing and into the icy water below. He wouldn’t have drowned, not with all the shopping carts, bicycles, and old tires to hold him up, but he may have thought about dumping trash on the ground again. And then again, maybe not.
“Actually, he was only doing his part in what I am beginning to realize is a symbiotic relationship I have with the pigs of this city: it’s their job to throw their crap on the ground and my job to pick it up, so I guess we’re in cahoots. Happy new year.”