Friday, February 12, 2016

HamAlong Post VI: Hamilton would fight the whole party one by one

A day late but worth the wait (maybe, or not cos I'm pretty sure I'm still sleep deprived so who knows how this will actually turn out) here we are with post IV of our Hamalong covering chapters 27-31. On the tracks side, we're doubling back to cover "Washington On Your Side" through "The Adams Administration" and hopping over to "The Reynolds Pamphlet" (or maybe Burn*).
Thank you Alice for hosting this readalong, and all of your Adams' love. We need a counterpart to Chernow's HamFic.
After Alexander Hamilton left the Treasury Department, he lost the strong, restraining hand of George Washington and the invaluable sense of tact and proportion that went with it.
This section seems to be when Hamilton fights everyone. Everyone. 
Washington is all of Hamilton's impulse control.

Normally Hamilton focused his fighting spirit on Jefferson, but now he's hitting everyone over a trade treaty with England. First Hamilton tried to duel a guy Nicholson who claimed Hamilton tried to get out of an earlier duel. Then he declared "he would fight the whole party one by one" when debates started to get heated. Then he was going to do duel Maturin Livingston. Even Chernow can't believe this.
This was truly amazing behavior: Hamilton was prepared to descend into outright fisticuffs in the streets with his opponents, as if he were a common ruffian.
It cracks me up that young Hamilton did not seem to want to physically fight people nearly as often as getting-to-middle-aged Hamilton did. He didn't end up dueling Nicholson having getting him to sign an apology, and then he got Livingston to deny casting any "aspersions on his manhood or accuse him of cowardice." So Hamilton is basically Marty McFly.
Sit down, Marty
When he's not busy fighting people in the street, he's fighting John Adams, who is a member of the same party so you'd think there would at least be some common ground. Everything Hamilton did seemed to piss off Adams. He tried to make sure Jefferson wouldn't get elected and Adams saw this as taking votes away from him. Adams kept most of Washington's cabinet, who Hamilton was chummy with and they would solicit advice from him. Hamilton also provided a lot of advice to Adams, on the assumption that everyone always wants to hear what he has to say.
They do not, especially if they are curmudgeons like Adams who does NOT appreciate being told what to do.

Most of my knowledge of Adams comes from Chernow and I understand this is tainted and I should probably read something about Adams cos man, he comes off as a real ass here, at least where it comes to Hamilton. He called him, among other things, conceited, with morals like Franklin, engaging in incest (a lot of people seemed to think he was sleeping with Angelica which, I mean, I'm not saying they WERE but I understand the rumors), said he fobbed work off on others, that he was constantly on drugs, and really focused on the fact that Hamilton was not born in the states and was a bastard (Creole bastard, specifically). All of that would be one thing but then he also said shit like "I never wrote a line of slander against my bitterest enemy...nor encouraged it in any other."
Own your dickish behavior, sir.

While he's fighting with everyone, his affair with Maria Reynolds comes to light again. There were rumors that the money paid was hush money for an affair but in general people believed it was for speculation.
Hamilton could not have been stupid enough to pay hush money for sex, Callender alleged, so the money paid to James Reynolds had to involve illicit speculation. In fairness to Callender, it is baffling that Hamilton submitted to blackmail for so long.
Do not underestimate how stupid Hamilton could be. At least his Reynolds Pamphlet made slightly more sense since there was word that someone was going to start publishing a bunch of stuff about Hamilton engaging in speculation and other stuff Hamilton could not abide.
Once Callender's chargers were published, Hamilton faced an agonizing predicament: should he ignore the accusations as beneath his dignity or openly rebut them?
Several of Hamilton's friends recommended he stay silent. Because that is obviously the right answer. Except I think Hamilton is physically incapable of remaining silent. So what does he do?
Deaf to such advice, Hamilton decided to respond at length.
Because of course.

After that there's a bunch about Adams botching things, the US almost going to war with France cos of a failed ambassador field trip, Washington agreeing to come back to command troops if (and only if) Hamilton could be his second, which Adams was NOT having, while Hamilton spent a lot of time concerned with the outfits the soldiers would wear. Politics is weird, you guys.

And there we have it. I'm afraid for the next chapters cos just all the sad stuff is coming up and NO I DON'T WANT IT. Seriously, everyone just stop dueling. It's so stupid.

Till next week!

*I'm not sure if "Burn" should be included here or not, considering the whole point of "Burn" is Eliza taking her out of the narrative, which makes it difficult for her to be in this narrative. 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

HamAlong post is a bit late

OK so I DON'T have my HamAlong post ready for today. I managed the reading but ran out of time to post. But I have a very good reason

SHOWTIME SHOWTIME

If you're wondering YES IT WAS AMAZING AND THE BEST THING EVER and I sort of want to get in line and try to get tickets again. And by sort of I mean I was looking up more tickets as I walked out of the show.

That wasn't the only reason the post didn't happen. Cos originally I was thinking whatever, I'll write something the next day. And then instead the next day I met up with some people to do Harry Potter (books) trivia. Which I thought the Potteralong would have helped with but there were 0 questions about wizarding plumbing or how bad at math Rowling is and instead it was all "This charm was muttered once by a tertiary character in the background WHAT WAS THAT CHARM, SPELLING COUNTS!" type thing.

HamAlong Post VI: Hamilton fights EVERYONE (yes, even more than before) will be coming. Just a bit late.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Your twenties are the worst part of your life that you don't actually know at the time is terrible

I mentioned I read Us as part of a book club. It was my first time joining and after we finished talking about the book (and eating and drinking, as any good book club works) we each put a title in a hat to pick the next book. I suggested I Don't Care About Your Band and it was picked* and now here we are.

I Don't Care About Your Band comes up on Amazon as frequently bought with Caitlin Moran stuff so I figured, hey, good company. Though really, I would put this closer to Chelsea Handler which is good if that's what you like. I read her book My Horizontal Life and it was not really my thing. This is slightly more my thing, but not to the same level has Moran or Lawson.

It's mostly Klausner's experience having sex (and sometimes dating) a variety of people through her teens and twenties who were mostly losers and/or jerks and the things she learned from it. Sometimes it was funny, sometimes it was offensive, and even though I just finished the book the other day** I forgot a good deal of what happens. And at this point it is actually months later and I remember pretty much none of the book or the anecdotes, just a vague feeling I had while reading it.

There are funny moments. I highlighted some quotes I liked then and still like now. And since I've already said I can't remember much of this book (Book club is going to be interesting...), let's instead focus on some of those quotes I highlighted.
My advice to women who habitually gravitate toward musicians is that they learn how to play an instrument and start making music themselves. Not only will they see that it's not that hard, but sometime I think women just want to be the very thing they think they want to sleep with.
The trick is to realize that the boys who talk so much about being rejected that it seems like they're proud of it aren't necessarily sweeter or more sensitive than the Bababooey-spouting frat bullies who line up at clubs like SkyBar to run game on girls they want to date rape. There are plenty of nerds who fear women and aren't sensitive, despite their marketing; they just dislike women in new, exciting ways.
There's a whole generation of us who rode on the wings of feminism's entitlement like it was a Pegasus with cornrows, knowing how smart we were and how we could be anything.
So the book's fine. Entertaining enough, especially if Chelsea Handler is your thing. Wasn't particularly memorable and I don't remember laughing out loud as I did with a Moran or Lawson.

Gif rating:
*By me, when I chose out of said hat but I didn't do it on purpose at all and actually didn't want to pick my book because that's a lot of pressure and WHAT IF THE BOOK IS BAD AND I SCREW UP BOOK CLUB?
**Other day from the point I'm writing this, though by the time this posts it'll prob be a month or so later cos I am GREAT at keeping up with things

Title quote from page 248, location 3166

Klausner, Julie. I Don't Care About Your Band: What I Learned from Indie Rockers, Trust Funders, Pornographers, Felons, Faux-Sensitive Hipsters, and Other Guys I've Dated. Penguin Group, 2010. Kindle

Thursday, February 4, 2016

HamAlong Post V: Hamilton, the bare-knuckled polemicist

It's Thursday, so time time for more A.Ham. For those still caught up, HIGH FIVE! For those falling a bit behind because this is a lot to get to, HIGH FIVE. For those who gave up because omg so much government fighting and not enough Schuyler sisters, HIGH FIVE. High fives for everyone!
Extra high five to Alice for hosting this readalong.

Chapters 20-26 hop back to give us more info around "Say No To This" and Miss Maria Reynolds and then jumping ahead forward to bring us to "Washington On Your Side," then skipping over a couple tracks to hit "We Know." Getting complicated now.

This section seemed to be mostly Hamilton fighting Jefferson, Madison and pretty much every other person he met, getting caught sleeping with Maria Reynolds, and then more fighting with Jefferson and Madison cos of course. The two-party system was also starting to solidify, despite Washington trying to get everyone to just get along. Poor Washington needs a spa day or something cos these kids are driving him crazy.
Hamilton continues to defend the Constitution as the best possible government for an imperfect world.
Mr. Adams observed, "Purge that constitution of its corruption...and it would be the most perfect constitution ever devised by the wit of man." Hamilton paused and said, "Purge it of its corruption...and it would become an impracticable government. As it stands at present, with all its supposed defects, it is the most perfect government which ever existed. 
This is also around the point he realized that his old buddy Madison had gone over to the dark side Democratic Republicans and was SO HURT.
This was his Federalist buddy. How could it betray him like this? Hamilton needed his Laurens, but alas it was not to be. So Hamilton had to fight the good fight alone, or so Chernow makes it seem, though I'm sure there were others right there with him.

I know I've said this in previous posts, but the point that keeps being driven home is how politics does not seem to have changed. It's all infighting and propaganda from politically backed newspapers.

You'd think, what with all the in-fighting and writing rebuttals to the Jefferson-backed newspaper and general running a new country, he wouldn't have time to answer everyone who says something mean about him. You would be wrong. Hamilton never learned the valuable lesson "Don't feed the trolls" and responded to every accusation against his character.
A captive of his emotions, he revealed an irrepressible need to respond to attacks. Whenever he tried to suppress these emotions, they burst out and overwhelmed him.
Chernow's treatment of Maria Reynolds is not my favorite thing. He goes back and forth talking about how she was a crafty conwoman (who also couldn't help at least kind of falling in love with him, cos who wouldn't love Hamilton??) and a flighty, overly-emotional femme fatale. Most of the time he updates the spelling when quoting primary sources, but keeps Maria's original spelling. He says in the intro it's to "emphasize a distinctive voice" but it comes off like "make this chick look like an idiot even though spelling was RIDICULOUS in the past." We know Hamilton is his golden boy, but that doesn't mean anyone who was mean to him is evil. Calm down, mama bear.

Because the lives of Burr and Hamilton are intertwined in crazy ways, Maria Reynolds hired Burr as her lawyer when she decided to divorce her husband James. Now tell me a woman at this time divorcing her like abusive husband isn't bad ass.

America may have been having its problems, but France had its own drama going on, what with the whole revolution and Reign of Terror.
For Hamilton, the utopian revolutionaries in France had emphasized liberty to the exclusion of order, morality, religion, and property rights...He saw the chaos in France as a frightening portent of what could happen in America if the safeguards of order were stripped away by the love of liberty.
Hamilton's concerns in getting a stable government set up in America were validating by the horrors happening across the way. And luckily Lafayette and his wife and kids made it through the terror (though were thrown in prison under deplorable conditions), though his wife's family was not so lucky.

Jefferson and Hamilton again butted heads (what else is new) over how to handle the fighting in France and whether or not to provide aid. Jefferson said they had to help out since France is fighting for freedom which is what America is all about and Hamilton said they should stay away since things are getting pretty terror-y over there. Washington decided it was best for the new nation to remain neutral.
Jefferson was angry that Washington seemed to always agree with Hamilton. Chernow reiterates a few examples of Washington disagreeing with Hamilton to prove Washington didn't go along with ALL of Hamilton's plans, but it sort of comes off sounding ridiculous. I'm not saying Washington didn't differ from Hamilton at times on big issues, but Chernow makes it sound like "One time, Hamilton told Washington to wear a blue shirt and Washington went with a green one instead, SEE HE HARDLY LISTENED TO HAMILTON, SHUT UP JEFFERSON."

Chernow does this a few times. At one point a French expat who fled to Philly ("the French Noah's Ark") is quoted saying of Hamilton "He spoke French, but quite incorrectly" and then goes on to praise Hamilton for other characteristics. But Chernow holds onto that "Hamilton wasn't perfect" comment and immediately responds with "Nobody else ever faulted Hamilton's French."
One last thing, and then we're done for the week

Angelica wrote to Eliza and said
By my Amiable, you know that I mean your husband, for I love him very much, and if you were as generous as the old Romans, you would lend him to me for a little while.
I'm glad Eliza and Angelica had a good relationship and she could say stuff like this and the sisters didn't hate each other. Because that is pretty bold, Angelica. Though it also makes me laugh, and I love the song "Satisfied" so whatever, go you.

There are still a lot of pages left, so I foresee a lot more fighting and policy and financial history and while that's not my favorite stuff, I do have to congratulate Chernow on keeping things readable. Kudos there, sir.

Title quote from page 403

Monday, February 1, 2016

January Reading Wrap-Up

One month of the new year is down. How's the year treating everyone so far? Things have been fine over here, though we had that storm that dropped ALL THE SNOW on the east coast. Being trapped in the house (literally for awhile) meant I had a good excuse to sit around and read.
Yeah...not getting that door opened
Of course then the furnace that heats the bedrooms and bathrooms stopped working*. Then the power went out for a few hours, which made me frustrated and cold. BUT OTHER THAN THAT, things have been fine. And we have power and heat again so that's swell.

A good amount of my reading this month has been dedicated to the #HamAlong, so not getting that much reading completed. But let's see what I did manage.

Total books read
2
When To Rob A Bank by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner
Let The Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvest

Total pages read
884

Fiction
50%

Women authors
0% - whomp

White authors
100% - double whomp
US authors
50%

Book formats
ebook - 100%

Where's the book from
Kindle - 100%

Rereads
0%

Review books
0%

Blogger recos
50%

Translation
50%

Books by decade
2000s - 50%
2010s - 50%

Genres
Economics - 50%
Horror - 50%

Resolution books
50%

Qualifications for a resolution book:
Written by a PoC
OR
Written by someone not from the US
OR
Published before 2000
OR
Translated into English

Let The Right One In - author from Sweden AND it's a translation

Not great, but not too bad. Hamilton will at least get me a bunch of pages next month, if not exactly helping to improve my other stats.

*Luckily our downstairs is on a different furnace that was fine. We were without heat upstairs for a few days and thought we might have to buy a new furnace when luckily the guys figured out the vents were covered in snow. Once they were uncovered we had heat again, which made showering oh-so-much nicer.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

HamAlong Post IV: If politics is preeminently the art of compromise, then Hamilton was in some ways poorly suited for his job

Another week, another Hamilton post. And guess what! We're just over halfway through this monster (if you don't count all of the notes and citations in the back, that is. If you want to count that cos you plan on reading them well, whatever floats your boat. You're not quite halfway then.)
Thank you, Alice, for leading the way.

Chapters 15-19 still cover a little more of "Non-Stop" but we finally make it out of that track and all the way over to "The Room Where It Happened".
These chapters were like 75% about setting up complicated financial systems that would become the backbone of the nation and while it's all important and impressive that he did this, I only understood like a third of what was going on.

But let's start with Hamilton's first day as Secretary of Treasury, where Hamilton "installed an elegant mahogany desk with caryatids - female figures - carved into its spindly legs. A.Ham, you rake, you.

Hamilton does what he does, meaning he writes a TON, gets into the nitty-gritty of his job, to the point that he wanted to know all the details of his port wardens' lighthouses and buoys and made sure customs collectors sent him ship manifests so he knew exactly how much was coming in. He didn't take on the role of Secretary Treasury alone. As a matter of fact, he started his position pissing off his fellow Cabinet members by amassing a HUGE workforce under him. I assume he needed some help getting through all of those  ship manifests. Oh, and he also did the job of Secretary of State, since Jefferson was taking his time coming back to the States and accepting the position.
Hamilton wrote a 51-page pamphlet (I think we're being liberal with the term "pamphlet") to explain his financial plan involving government securities and bonds and other things that I really don't understand. Congress wouldn't let Hamilton present the plan himself, probably because they all remember the six-hour-with-no-break-for-lunch speech he previously gave. That said, Chernow still says that "it was so lengthy that, by the end [of the reading], many representatives sat there in stupefied silence."

That doesn't mean it was a BAD plan. Daniel Webster later talked about the plan and said:
The fabled birth of Minerva from the brain of Jove was hardly more sudden or more perfect than the financial system of the United States as it burst forth from the conception of Alexander Hamilton.
At the time people seemed split on if this was a work of GENIUS or if this was evidence that Hamilton was going to ruin the country and was probably the antichrist (or the "American Mephistopheles"). Because politics has literally always been like that, regardless of anyone talking about getting back to the Good Ol' Days.

Jefferson was especially not a fan of Hamilton's plan since Jefferson believed that they should be an agrarian society, like the simple life he and other Southern plantation owners lived, because Chernow gives us a Jefferson who completely lacks self-awareness.
Jefferson fancied himself a mere child of nature, simple, unaffected man, rather than what he really was: a grandee, gourmet, a hedonist, and a clever, ambitious politician.
Strangely enough for a large slaveholder, [Jefferson] thought that agriculture was egalitarian while manufacturing would produce a class-conscious society.
Jefferson, and increasingly Hamilton's former-congressional buddy Madison, were at odds with Hamilton and his financial plan and now we're seeing the beginning of that two-party system that Washington thought would be such a bad idea.

On thing I did not realize was Angelica's influence during the time. Jefferson and Angelica knew each other in Paris through Jefferson's 26-year old girlfriend Maria Cosway. Jefferson and Angelica flirted, with him even inviting her to Monticello or they could even take a trip to Niagara Falls. But given the animosity between Jefferson and Hamilton, Angelica had to chose and eventually she drifted away from Thomas.

Chernow starts to set the stage for Hamilton's later affair with Maria Reynolds. Or I guess continues to set the stage, since he had that comment about how he probably cheated cos Eliza was so busy RAISING THEIR FAMILY and I'm proud that we all called that out in the last post. Come on, Chernow.
This time he talks about how Hamilton was so driven he never took a break and this also probably contributed to his dalliances. I wish he was able to give reasons without making them sound like excuses for his behavior, especially since it was far from a one-time event.

Maria Reynolds comes off as sort of a crazy chick with wild mood swings and who had terrible grammar. She may have been afraid of her husband and looked to Hamilton for help. She may have played Hamilton from the beginning with the damsel in distress bit. Whatever the case, Hamilton paid the Reynolds to not tell anyone about the affair and tried to convince Eliza to extend her trip to Albany and ugh, Hamilton, I'm not a fan of yours right now.

I remember I wanted to talk about the Whiskey Rebellion but I can't find where in the chapters it is, but I kept thinking of Musical Jefferson's line
Look, when Britain taxed our tea, we got friskyImagine what gon’ happen when you try to tax our whiskey
Oh Hamilton, why didn't you listen? This section doesn't go too into detail about what happened with the Whisky Rebellion but Stuff You Missed in History Class has got you covered.

Even though I was talking about how we're just over halfway done, I still can't imagine what we're going to get into in the next 300 pages. Till next week.

Title quote from page 324

Chernow, Ron. Alexander Hamilton. Penguin, 2004.