Wisdom for Our Generation, with Illustrations
Without honesty, reality withers and dies. -- Henry F. Senn
Pile of Key Words
Beauty, The Bill of Rights, Bright's disease, Crab Apples, Edge, University of Florida, Hate List, Muzzling Scientists, Photography, Political Dogma, Scientific Debate, Second Amendment, Theodore Roosevelt, unpatriotic, war
My wife and I came across this scene on the University of Florida campus. It brought back memories of the excitement of our own campus lives many years ago. The back of the man's sign is religious but not particularly threatening, but on the front of the sign, the man and his compatriots chose to include a curious list of people whom they do not like. The list is fairly comprehensive but the nature of the list suggests that they could have added many more special categories. I was particularly annoyed by the category of "Spineless men." While I am relatively spineless, I like to believe that I have a few redeeming qualities.
In general the students reacted as they should and challenged the would-be evangelist. A black student engaged him in an anti-hate discussion, one young man continually blew a trumpet in his face -- he was pretty good, but the girl with the sign shown on the left got it the most right.
After much consideration, my wife and I decided the category that fits us most accurately is "People that talk to pets more than God."
Henry F, Senn, March 2006.
I found this personalized postcard in a small antique store in Utica, NY. Beauty was apparently a beloved dog that died over 90 years ago. I am sure her owner is also no-longer with us. Beauty died of Bright's disease, perhaps related to old age. Bright's Disease is an old fashioned term for an inflammation of the kidneys that is now known to be caused by several complications affecting the kidneys. People also get inflammation of the kidneys and in many cases it is fatal or results in a kidney transplant.
I personally suffered from a bout of Bright's Disease when I was in 7th grade. I would have surely been a goner if my mother hadn't noticed that my whole body was swelling up. I also noticed some symptoms at the time but I was too young to know what to make of them and I was too shy to ask about them. I spent about 10 days in the hospital and six weeks out of school. Bed rest was the only answer that the medical field had for Bright's Disease at the time.
I feel sort of privileged to have survived Bright's Disease and learn something about Beauty many years later, and bring her back to visibility in some small way. Photography is used for many purposes but I think that its greatest importance is the ability to preserve details about the past. For example, if we can look at an old photograph of one of our ancestors, it is only in this way that can we get an accurate picture of what they looked like and how they lived.
I discovered Beauty's picture in a stack of other old photographs that were probably from an estate. These photographs were mostly high-quality studio photos of persons unknown. Such photos often have an elaborate stamp from the photography studio, but there is usually nothing written on the photo about the people in the picture.
I often find such stacks of photos in lower-end antique stores and I wonder why they are there at all. I cannot understand why the descendants of the people in the photographs did not treasure them and marvel at the faces and dress of their ancestors. Sometimes these abandoned photographs are quite elaborate. I remember seeing a large photograph of an infant that was nicely toned and in a large oval frame with domed glass. It must have been very expensive when originally purchased, yet there it was, dusty and standing forgotten in the corner of a small antique store. Who was that baby and why was his or her heirloom photograph sold off to strangers? Did the infant grow up, only to see its family break up or die out? Why was there no descendent to treasure the memory of this infant?
And here is the big point I want to make. Everyone should mark their hardcopy photos with at least the names of the people in them, and the place and date they were taken. This way, if those photographs end up abandoned in an antique store, or perhaps in someone else's attic, they may at least, as in the case of Beauty, be rediscovered by some future generation. This future generation would know that the person in the photo existed and perhaps in some small way affected the society that they now live in. Sometimes, if a name and maybe a location is on a photo, the photo might be reunited with some future generation of the person's family.
Do not forget about snapshots. Although they are less likely to be preserved, they may carry even more significance than studio photos because they often show people and the things that surrounded them in the life they led. A photo of people sitting on the porch of their beloved family home is a good example.
A final thought about digital photography. While this is a wondrous technology that I take advantage of myself, it is all to easy to crank out images by the zillions and then delete or loose them when we have looked at them once too often. Always make a point of printing a few of your best family photos (include the dog, etc.) and do it with long lasting inks and papers, and demand them if you have a printing service do your prints. Remember your Grandparents' or Parents' photos kept in a shoe box?. You only got them out about every 5 years, but you sure enjoyed them when you did.
Henry F. Senn, April 2006
"To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."
-- Theodore Roosevelt, 1918
Have you ever notice that wars are always started by old men with rigid views of religion or politics, but they always send ignorant young men off to fight them.
Henry F. Senn, November 2006
See Muzzling Scientists (Up Front Editorial from May 07 Issue of Natural History Magazine)
Also see the "National Coalition Against Censorship"
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
The second amendment is the most misrepresented right granted by The Bill of Rights. People who use it to defend the unregulated ownership of weapons rarely quote the first two phrases. But, these phrases are first for a reason. They unambiguously state the intended purpose of the amendment.
The framers of the Bill of Rights recognized the role played by citizen soldiers in the revolution, and the infant Nation did not yet have a nation wide defense. Still it faced threats from powerful forces on many frontiers, and it made sense to provide for locally controlled, well-regulated militias, and it made sense for the citizen soldiers to keep their guns at home and ready. The amendment neither denies nor guarantees the right of gun ownership for putting food on the table, protecting the sanctity of the home, or for the worst possible purpose, personal amusement.
Since the nation now has a powerful military and a national guard, the second amendment is actually archaic in its purpose. Perhaps it should be revised to fit our modern realities. For example, "The right of any lunatic to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."
Henry F. Senn 2007