Category Archive 'Boston'

09 Mar 2019

Contemporary Radicalism and Political Intolerance Come Down From Massachusetts Bay

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Daniel Flynn, in the American Spectator, says: Yes, you can blame Massachusetts.

William Blaxton, the city’s first settler who dwelled alone on Boston Common, invited the Puritans to settle on the Shawmut. They soon encouraged him to leave. “I have come from England because I did not like the Lord Bishops,” the first Bostonian lamented. “I cannot join you because I would not be under the lord brethren.”

In the next generation, the Puritans, who depicted themselves as paragons of religious freedom (a bit of propaganda so effective that most fall for it today), executed four on Boston Common for the crime of Quakerism.

Beacon Hill, overlooking the Boston Common, served as the epicenter of the Know Nothing Party during its brief, 1850s heyday. The Know Nothings won every congressional seat, every seat in the state senate, every state constitutional office, and all but 3 of 379 seats in the state house of representatives in the 1854 elections in Massachusetts.

H.L. Mencken traveled from Baltimore to Boston in 1926 to sell a copy of The American Mercury, which contained a story about — gasp — a prostitute, to the Reverend J. Franklin Chase. The Watch and Ward Society head handed a half-dollar to Mencken, who hilariously bit the silver coin to affirm the honesty of the minister magazine buyer. He then handed over a copy of The American Mercury, which resulted in his immediate arrest — and the cigar-chomping Mencken throwing his remaining magazines in the air to the crowd gathered at Brimstone Corner at the edge of Boston Common where the entrance to the Park Street station stands.

Boston imagines itself as the Hub of the Universe and the Athens of America. Massachusetts executed more witches than the rest of the colonies combined, “banned in” regularly prefaces the name of its capital city, and Chik-fil-A, plastic bags, leaf blowers, and other annoyances of the enlightened today regularly face official opprobrium.

How to reconcile the former self-perception with the latter reality?

Today’s Proper Bostonians deny their ancestry. But a thread runs through the Puritans to the Know Nothings to the Watch and Ward Society to today’s do-gooders. Just as the Puritans, the Know Nothings, and the Watch and Ward Society regarded themselves as enlightened, progressive, and cultured, local parochial cosmopolitans imagine themselves as the vanguard of tolerance. Intolerant people remain most intolerant to the idea of their own intolerance.

“As politics have become more about identity than policy, partisan leanings have become more about how we grew up and where we feel like we belong,” the Atlantic, which commissioned the survey, points out. “Politics are acting more like religion, in other words.”


HT: Bird Dog.

19 Feb 2015

Bostonians Have Accepted Their Fate as Canadians

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19 Apr 2013


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#BostonMarathon In case you’re just joining us, here’s what’s going on.

08 Oct 2012

2012: Liberal Versus Conservative Puritan

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Walter Russell Mead, in a typically witty and insightful essay, compares and contrasts the legacy of Massachusetts Bay and Harvard on this year’s two candidates.

When Wilsonians turn their gaze toward the United States, they become what I think of as the Bostonian school in domestic politics. Like the New England Puritans to whom they owe so much, today’s Bostonians believe that a strong state led by the righteous should use its power to make America a more moral and ethical country. This, I believe, is the tradition in American domestic politics that most profoundly shapes President Obama’s worldview; it inspired many of the abolitionists and prohibitionists who played such large roles in 19th century reform politics, and it continues to influence the country wherever the spirit of Old New England survives. (Not all domestic Bostonians are international Wilsonians, by the way; some believe that America should lead by example rather than by imposing its views on others.)

Bostonians over the years have changed their ideas about morality; few today would agree with Increase Mather and John Winthrop that the state should punish any deviation from Biblical morality as understood by 17th century puritan divines. But when it comes to punishing offenses against righteousness as defined by a congress of humanities professors, multiculturalist activists and foundation grants officers, the liberal morality police are ready to march — and to smite. Today’s neo-puritans would certainly agree that once morality has been re-defined in a suitably feminist, anti-racist, anti-homophobic, anti-tobacco and anti-obesity way, it is the clear duty of the Civil Magistrate to enforce the moral law—and that our governing constitutions and laws must be interpreted—by the godly who alone ought to be seated on the judicial tribunals—to give said magistrates all the power they require for their immense and unending task of moral regulation and uplift.

Read the whole thing.

11 Nov 2009

Old Ironsides Under Fire From Bourgeois Neighbors

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Michel Felice Corne, The Constitution and the Guerriere

Ay, tear her tattered ensign down!
Long has it waved on high,
And many an eye has danced to see
That banner in the sky;
Beneath it rung the battle shout,
And burst the cannon’s roar; —
The meteor of the ocean air
Shall sweep the clouds no more.

Her deck, once red with heroes’ blood,
Where knelt the vanquished foe,
When winds were hurrying o’er the flood,
And waves were white below,
No more shall feel the victor’s tread,
Or know the conquered knee; —
The harpies of the shore shall pluck
The eagle of the sea!

Oh, better that her shattered hulk
Should sink beneath the wave;
Her thunders shook the mighty deep,
And there should be her grave;
Nail to the mast her holy flag,
Set every threadbare sail,
And give her to the god of storms,
The lightning and the gale!

–Oliver Wendell Holmes, 1830

The Boston Herald reports that the USS Constitution, the oldest commissioned warship in all the world’s navies, is under attack again.

Her haute bourgeois neighbors are unmoved by the martial glory the renowned frigate won almost two hundred years, earning the nickname “Old Ironsides” as British cannon shot bounced off her double-built oaken hull when she humbled the pride of Nelson’s Navy.

They don’t like listening to the National Anthem every morning when the Constitution’s colors are raised, and her war-like cannon salutes are spoiling the digestion of their brie.

Old Ironsides’ upscale Charlestown neighbors are trying to pull off what British, French and Barbary pirate guns failed to accomplish in more than two centuries – silencing the cannons of the nation’s oldest commissioned naval vessel.

Miffed residents of a posh condo complex have invited the commanding officer of the USS Constitution over for a glass of wine so he can hear for himself that the frigate’s twice-daily cannon blasts – a tradition dating to 1798 – are “more disruptive to the neighborhood than you might have imagined.”

Commanding Officer Timothy Cooper received the most recent complaint two weeks ago from neighbors suggesting naval officers assigned to the historic vessel eliminate the morning and evening blasts on weekends, reduce the size of the gunpowder charge and turn down the volume of the national anthem recording played during the daily flag raising and lowering ceremonies.

“The residential population and congestion of this area has (sic) grown significantly and, it seems to us, that the cannon charge/noise is excessive,” the unidentified resident first wrote in an Aug. 26, 2009, letter obtained by the Herald.

High-end condominium developments have sprung up across from the Charlestown Navy Yard over the past decade, transforming the once hardscrabble waterfront into a toney enclave.

“Over the summer, we have entertained several times, and we have had guests sit up in shock when the cannon goes off,” the resident wrote. “It has also awakened them at 8 a.m. while they are vacationing and then blasted them again at sunset.”

29 Sep 2007

Boston’s City Hall

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The building above used to be Boston’s City Hall, but they replaced it with this.

Sippican Cottage has a few choice comments… and the explanation.

Hat tip to Bird Dog.

01 Mar 2007

Boston Panicks Again

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The Boston Bomb Squad was back in action, blowing up a suspicious object found chained to a lamppost in the Financial district. The object turned out to be a traffic counter.


Homeland Stupidity

Previous Cartoon Promotion incident

03 Feb 2007

Boston Officials Respond Slowly, Then Panic

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Turner Broadcasting’s Cartoon Network hired New York guerilla marketeer Interference, Inc. to promote the film spinoff of a new late night cartoon program Aqua Teen Hunger Force, a cartoon series running since December of 2000 about the adventures of three anthropomorphic fast food items living in New Jersey.

Interference arranged to plant LED images of two Mooninites (secondary character adversaries of the show’s heroes) around Boston, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Seattle, Portland, Austin, San Francisco and Philadelphia to publicize the film.

Other cities shrugged off the Mooninite threat, but Boston officials first took two weeks to notice the signs, then panicked, halting highway, bridge, and river traffic, closing down Boston University, having the bomb squad detonate a sign, and overall spending half a million dollars on this nonsense.

Video: How to Shut Down Boston

Boston is charging the freelance artists who erected the signs with a newly defined crime of placing a hoax device which causes panic. Mark Frauenfelder get it right:

the ones to blame are the Boston city officials, whose astoundingly incompetent response to the report of a suspicious device triggered the panic. The people of Boston should be clamoring for the resignation of the mayor and the head of the department of security for being the only city in the ten-city ad campaign that didn’t notice the signs hanging in plain sight for two full weeks and then misidentifying them in a way that caused widespread panic.

Now these shamefaced bureaucrats are rounding up scapegoats and asking Turner to pay for the damages caused by their own ineptitude. Talk about a hoax.

NYM awards Boston the 2007 Mayor Ray Nagin Prize for municipal incompetence combined with pomposity.

19 Jan 2007

A Tower of Books

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What every well-designed home needs.

New York Times story.

No picture of the stairs, alas!

Seven years ago, when Nader Tehrani and Monica Ponce de Leon, partners at Office dA, an architecture firm in Boston, were asked to renovate a five-story town house in the Back Bay neighborhood, they faced a singular design challenge. The house belonged to Elmar Seibel, now 54, a dealer in rare books on art and architecture, and his wife, Azita Bina-Seibel, 46, a chef and restaurateur.

Mr. Seibel’s personal collection includes at least 40,000 books on Persian and Iranian culture. He keeps many in a warehouse, but perhaps 14,000 or 15,000 are at home.

There is a 1491 copy of a medical book written by Avicenna, the 11th-century philosopher and physician also known as Ibn Sina. A 17th-century eyewitness account of the coronation of a shah, written by Jean Chardin, a French jeweler, is inscribed to Jean-Baptiste Colbert, then the finance minister of France. A 19th-century cookbook has 4,000 handwritten recipes of dishes made for the shah’s court.

The collection began with the birth of the couple’s son, Kian, now 13. Mr. Seibel, a West German native, and Ms. Bina, born in Iran, wanted to give him something from his mother’s family’s cultural heritage. “The original idea was to create something for him — but it takes on a life of its own,” Mr. Seibel said. (Kian, who is fluent in Farsi, has not yet read any of the books in the collection. But he says he will, soon.)

Where, then, were the 14,000 books to go?

“What holds the house together is a vertical staircase that wraps itself around a tower of books that goes up three floors,” Mr. Tehrani said. (The family lives on the top three floors, while Ms. Bina’s mother, Aghdas Zoka-Bina, and a tenant occupy apartments on the first and ground-floor levels.) The stairway ends just below a skylight. “The tower of books appears to pierce the skylight, though it doesn’t in reality,” Mr. Tehrani said.

“The staircase is the ‘it’ factor,” he added. The books are easily accessible from the staircase, just four inches away. Some shelves are designed to hold books upright, while others are wide and shallow, so that manuscripts or magazines can be left there, in an offhand way — and they are. Many of the shelves are backed in translucent glass to let natural light shine through, and recessed lighting in the ceiling makes it possible to grab a book, settle onto any step and read in perfect light. Squinting is not required.

We just bought 80 surplus library bookcases.

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