Friday, February 28, 2014

Knitting's a Hoot

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Scylla Socks

All done !

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Pretty as a Pigture

Added a guinea pig / cavy to the family.  I have been watching her at the pet store for about 2 months and finally couldn't resist any longer.  Thinking of calling her Trifle as she is a tortie & white. She's been home about 24 hours and things are going well so far. Lola is not hugely impressed but has not flipped her lid, either.
Lola and Trifle

Ready for her closeup
Her right side has all black markings (with white) and her left side has all red markings (with white) except where a black splash spills over her back. Unusual and stunning. It is like having two pigs in one!  I haven't had an abyssinian in a long time, I forgot how cute their crazy fur is.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Coursera - History of the Slave South, Assignment 2

While Jefferson waxes rhetorical with observations about slavery and speculation about black physiology in the "Laws" section of Notes on the State of Virginia, the "Manners" section seems to give a snapshot of his actual judgement about slavery. He fears that the wrath of God will come down on the new Republic and observes "The spirit of the master is abating, that of the slave rising from the dust" (p 175).

Returning to the "Laws" section of the text, we see Jefferson's observations about the very nature of blacks. While our essay prompt mockingly refers to 'science', this was cutting edge science for Jefferson and his contemporaries and these were serious concerns of the day.  Jefferson proffers many differences between blacks and whites, not only "political", but also "physical and moral" (p 149). He argues that upon the emancipation of the blacks in the Republic, they should be given a fresh start in a new land and be replaced by white immigrants; they cannot be incorporated into the Republic due to "Deep rooted prejudices entertained by the whites" and "ten thousand recollections by the blacks of the injuries they have sustained" (p 149). He goes on to delineate ways in which blacks are different from (read: inferior to) whites in their most basic attributes. He remarks that they are less attractive than whites, their bodies process waste differently from whites, giving them a "strong and disagreeable odor" but also makes them "more tolerant of heat, and less so of cold than whites" (p 150).  Jefferson continues by stating that blacks require less sleep, use less forethought, and are more ruled by sex than romance than whites. In fact, he summarizes nicely for us his position when he says "In general, their existence appears to participate more of sensation than reflection" (p150).

The modern reader at this point is tempted to raise a query at this point - what about blacks who were not slaves, or who became free and gained an education?  Here Jefferson compares the idea of an educated black writer to a white one: "though we admit him to the first place among those of his own color who have presented themselves to the public judgment ....when we compare him with [a white writer] we are compelled to enroll him at the bottom of the column" (p 152). Jefferson does not waver from his theory of black inferiority, even citing examples of enslaved whites who were far "smarter" than his contemporary enslaved blacks in America, and under supposed far harsher conditions (p154). Clearly he does not support the idea that slavery itself is the problem here.

For Jefferson, the only way that the idea of emancipation could be entertained was by putting forth the idea of removing all freed blacks from the American (white) Republic. He again contrasts the American situation to that of ancient Rome:   Among the Romans emancipation required but one effort. The slave, when made free, might mix with, without staining the blood of his master. But with us a second is necessary, unknown to history. When freed, he is to be removed beyond the reach of mixture." (p 155).

Monday, February 17, 2014

Resting Monday

Took the cat to the vet, finished the first Scylla sock & took 2 hampers of wash to the laundromat. A big day. 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Productive Saturday

  • Went to work
  • Tidied living room
  • Knit on Scylla sock
  • Checked on Hogsmeade Owl Post
  • Watched an hour of Coursera lectures
  • Watched some "Breaking Bad"
  • Made lunch, fed dog
  • Rejuvenating nap

Friday, February 14, 2014

Knitting Friday

The Scylla socks are moving right along - I am working the heel of sock 1 now.  Only 9 days left to go in the Olympics though so I had better keep up the pace.

The Marigold / Meadow Flowers shawl is also moving along well.  I finished both inner sections and am gearing up to start the two outer sections.  Beads have been obtained although I need to find my handy dandy breading crochet hook pretty soon.

Fritti the kitty is still acting odd, so it is back to the vet again Monday.  Wish us luck!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Perfect Way to Study

At home, with knitting!

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Coursera - History of the Slave South, Assignment 1

The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database is a useful tool for accessing information about who enslaved people were, where they originated from and where they were sold.  We can combine these three parameters and begin to draw conclusions about how the slave trade shaped the American South.

The first table of data isolates the regions in North America where enslaved Africans were received.  At the start of the slave trade, there was a small total number of slaves and the difference between the colony with the fewest slave sales and the most is not very great. In the hundred years of the 18th century, however, the number of slaves increased dramatically, particularly in Virginia and South Carolina, which had plantations and cash crops. Slave importation for most other colonies did not increase as drastically, although a couple of colonies began importation during this time.  When compared to the total quantity of people sold into slavery during the slave trade (12 million), the North American colonies were an afterthought with a total import number of just over 366,000 people.

The second table of data isolates the regions of origin of the enslaved Africans who were transported to the North American colonies. Please note: this export figure of 242,000 is 1/3 less than the import figure discussed above. While locations of origin were spread along the coast, at the beginning of the slave trade the regions of the Bight of Biafra and West Central Africa were the first large scale exporters to the colonies. As the demand for slaves increased in the 18th century the areas of Sierra Leone, Windward Coast and Gold Coast jumped far ahead of the others in both percentage increase and overall number of slaves sent abroad. Interestingly, West Central Africa continued to export large numbers of people throughout this time and even into the 19th century when supply from the other regions either tapered off or was dramatically reduced.

The third table of data combines the information we have already reviewed and shows which specific areas enslaved people were taken from and where they were bought in the colonies. While most colonies (northerly and southerly) had slaves originating from all regions, primarily the plantation economy colonies had slaves who originated in West Central Africa or the Bight of Biafra. 

These charts are a useful resource for looking at the data of the slave trade.  The specificity of the information begins to rehumanize the very idea of a "slave trade"; knowing that people were taken, sold and transported between specific ports brings them closer to us. Unfortunately, the tables do not tell the whole story.  The reasons why the southern colonies received large numbers of people from these regions is not revealed by the tables; could it have been price, supply,  cultural attitude (temperament) or a combination of all these?  We are given points of disembarkation, but as so many enslaved people were captured & sold by rivals, enemies or human traffickers, where did they actually live before their journey began? Working with raw data and tables like these, while interesting, is just the start of the story of the slave trade and its shaping of the American South.