For those of a scientific bent, there is always The Ten Days of Newton.
It occurs to me that it has been three weeks since I thought I got my picture taken on the freeway, and no ticket has come. Maybe it WAS someone else who tripped the flash! (I thought about it today because someone driving a company car got their picture taken on December 11, and it arrived in today's mail, meaning the turnaround is only about ten days.) This also makes me happy.
While problems and triumphs, hopes and fears, are present in any era, the point here is that the transition of America from a predominantly rural agrarian society to a predominantly urban industrial society was such a wrenching experience that it created a kind of crisis mentality as many Americans witnessed the emergence of a sociocultural environment they could neither understand nor identify with. The human response to the new, the different, or the unknown, is often to counter it with a rigid defense of old ways and values, so it is not surprising that many Americans responded by organizing clubs like the DAR and by joining the Temperance Union; by urging the passage of legislative acts to regulate trusts, interstate commerce, and labor unions; by denouncing such alien forces as Catholics, Mormons, blacks, railroad companies, immigrants, and absentee owners; by attempting to exorcise the evils of machine politics, which had corrupted the political system; and by searching for and embracing simple solutions like Henry George;s single tax theory, Laurence Gronlund's brand of Christian socialism, and the Populist's crusade for the silver monetary standard.
Such efforts to impose the known upon the unknown, to replace the impersonal with the personal, and to purify the present by preserving the past--such efforts are further evident in the eras popular books which emphasized both escape and romance.
The author is talking about, of course, the time between 1881 and the 1920's... not the last decade (I figure replace the above-mentioned "alien forces" with "gays, Mexicans, and intellectuals" and you might as well be talking about the Duhbya era), about why the Western outlaw became a figure of romance and admiration (in this particular case, Billy the Kid, who should have vanished into obscurity but somehow managed to become one of the best-known names in Western literature and history). There have been several parts of this book that make me wonder anew about people not learning from history. See:
If the 1920's represented an assault upon the dominance of traditional rural Protestant American values, the Depression of the 1930's amounted to a scattering of the faith many Americans had in their economic system. By the time the first Kid movie previewed in 1930, few Americans could blithely assume that ambition, hard work, thrift, and company loyalty would guarantee success. Few Americans could assume that poverty was the result of ignorance or lassitude. Cynical about the pat and yet searching for a usable past that would help address current moral and economic problems, shocked by the economic chaos of the present, and disillusioned about future prospects, large numbers of Americans were undergoing a fundamental change in how they saw themselves and their world. In the political, economic, social, and cultural upheaval of the 1920s and early 1930s, two events in the natural scene contributed directly to the changing vision of the Kid's significance--Prohibition and the related rise to prominence of the gangster film melodrama.
Millions of Americans between 1920 and 1933 technically became outlaws every time they bought, drank, or distilled alcoholic beverages. Ratified in 1920, Amendment 18 was supposed to regenerate American life. Before its repeal in 1933, however, Prohibition had effectively demonstrated that legislating morality was one task; enforcing it was an altogether different, and difficult, enterprise.
It does remind me that there have been stupid laws before, and equally stupid amendments to Constitutions. When people realize their stupidity, the laws and amendments are repealed. I learn from history.
Santa Tracking! Always enjoyable.
And it may rain tomorrow, the first time it's rained on Christmas in 14 years.
Merry Christmas to All, and to All a Good Night!