American Elephants


A Bit of History That You Probably Never Knew by The Elephant's Child

The photo is from Venezuela, a line of hungry people trying to get groceries, and scarce toilet paper. Here in the Seattle area we are having runs on toilet paper, people are desperately trying to stock up. Some stores are limiting how many packages of rolls one may buy. We have a delivery of groceries coming on Monday, and won’t know until then how much, if any, toilet paper will be included with the order. Thanks to Covid-19.

That leads those of us who read a lot to check into the history of toilet paper, and a lot of people are doing so. You may know that the “slang term” for the toilet is “the crapper.” This is not a bad word for the facility, but the name of the gentleman, Thomas Crapper, who patented his valve and siphon design in 1891. Philadelphia was the first city that switched entirely to cast iron pipes for their new system of water delivery.

Chicago was the first city in the country in 1885, to have a comprehensive sewer system. The Tremont Hotel in Boston was the first hotel of its kind to feature indoor plumbing for guests in 1829. Eight water closets were built by Isaiah Rogers. Until that time indoor water closets were commonly found in the homes of the rich and in luxury hotels.  Soon soap was introduced during bathing,(!) and it was adapted widely for hygiene purposes. Think about that one, with what you know of history in general. Before there were comprehensive sewer systems, there was often a town pump where you went with your bucket. We live in such an age of invention that it’s hard to think about previous generations as not having them. My mother bought her first television so she could see the first moon landing. But there was a time when someone in the family bought their first toilet, and someone first bought toilet paper. Before that the pages of the Sears and Roebuck catalog usually were used.

The first water pipes were discovered by archeologists in the Indus River in India, dating back to 4000-3000 B.C. Egyptian ruler Menes supported a thriving civilization by constructing canals, irrigation ditches, and basins.

This comes from a History of Plumbing Timeline: The Invention of Indoor Plumbing posted by John C. Flood of Virginia, apparently a plumbing company. Do take the time to visit it and learn a bit about our history that you probably never knew. Always good for starting a new conversation at a boring party.



President Trump Goes to India by The Elephant's Child

Of course, the obligatory visit to the Taj Mahal, a stunningly beautiful building built of white marble. It is a mausoleum on the south bank of the Yamuna river in the Indian city of Agra.

It was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan who reigned from 1628 to 1658, to house the tomb of his favorite wife, Muntaz Mahal, and also contains the tomb of Shah Jahan himself. It is the centerpiece of 42 acres that contains a mosque and a guest house, and is set in formal gardens bounded on three sides by a crenellated wall. Muntaz Mahal died while giving birth to their 14th child in 1631. Her death left the emperor heartbroken, and his hair was said to have turned grey overnight. The construction began in 1632.

Here are the pictures from the President’s visit It’s fun to scroll through them. There’s a picture that’s my favorite of a man mounted on a camel, man and camel decorated lavishly with flowers. The camel seems to be smiling in a funny grin, and the gentleman riding him is carrying a Tuba, which he obviously plays at some point.

When you reach the end, do not click on the <2 or 3> which is just a repeat of what you already saw, unless, of course you want to see it all again.



Words of Wisdom for Today: by The Elephant's Child

Andy McCarthy has been invaluable as a source for this whole special prosecutor episode, as he has served as a federal prosecutor for the Southern District of New York, and can explain what’s happening.

Kevin Williamson also has a sharp eye and mind for searching out the reality of a situation:

My own belief is that this was never about removing Trump from office, though of course hamstringing him or humiliating him would have been very satisfying to Democrats. This seems to me to be more about Democrats continuing to tell themselves a comforting fairy tale about why they lost in 2016, and where they really stand politically. Getting cheated out of an election hurts a lot less, psychologically, than getting beat fair and square by Donald Trump — and it does not demand a lot in the way of reconfiguring priorities or rethinking stances. Which is to say, the Democrats’ current commitment to grasping at straws in this matter is, politically speaking, the best news the Trump campaign has had in weeks, the report itself notwithstanding.

American Thinker posted a quote from Victor Davis Hanson that beautifully captures the essence of the Notre Dame tragedy in France:

After 800 years, we were the steward of this iconic representation of western civilization, Catholicism, Christendom. And of all the years, 2019, at the height of our sophistication and technology, I’m not blaming the French or anybody, but we were found wanting and we didn’t protect this icon. And we don’t build them anymore.
There’s great churches and cathedrals that go up all over the world, but, Laura, they are in Poland. They are in Cairo. They are in the Ivory Coast, they’re in Brazil, they’re in India. It’s almost as if the places that are less affluent without the technology of western Europe and the United States are like we used to be. They still believe in transcendence. They still believe in something other than this world.

And so it’s going to be very hard in our society to ever build a cathedral again, much less to repair them, because we don’t believe in what they represented. And it’s ironic, because we don’t like the past. We are at war with the past. We tear down monuments. We don’t build cathedrals. We erase names. We say to Father Serra or Christopher Columbus, you don’t live up to our standards of race, class, and gender, moral superiority. Shame on you.



There are Some Serious Objections to Obama’s Presidential Center. by The Elephant's Child

Back in mid-October, I posted a picture of former President Obama’s proposed presidential library in Chicago. It was to be built on the South Side of Chicago, and to do some neighborhood revitalization as well as be a park, a hub for artists like Springsteen, Chance, and Spike Lee. A lagoon would have paddle boats and skating in the winter, and Michelle wants a sledding hill, something she always wanted as a kid.

It is apparently not going to be a presidential library, but a celebration of Obama, and the papers and records will be somewhere else. The tall building looks like a takeout bag for a Chinese dinner, but I don’t know who the architect is. It has morphed from  a library into a 20 acre “private center.” The supposition is that the city will quickly approve it, since Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel used to be Obama’s Chief of Staff.

Well, not so fast. Behind the scenes, a heated battle is taking place.

Here’s our bottom line. If the Obama Foundation wishes to construct this center on Chicago’s South Side, that’s fine, but not on parkland held in public trust. The University of Chicago, which orchestrated the winning bid for the project, has plenty of land on the South Side that they could and should use. Instead, they’ve been adamant since day one that they must have historic public parkland for the purpose,” Charles Birnbaum, president and founder of D.C.- based nonprofit, the Cultural Landscape Foundation, told the Washington Examiner in a written statement Saturday.

There are other groups: Friends of the Parks, Jackson Park Watch, Openlands, National Association for Olmsted Parks, Save the Midway, Landmarks Illinois, and Preservation Chicago, all of whom have raised serious concerns about the project. Also 200 faculty members from Obama’s former employer, the University of Chicago, issued a formal letter stating its opposition to the presidential center being built at this location.

The Obama Foundation Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. will have to get approval from the Environmental Protection Agency under the National Environmental Policy Act and this is now the Trump administration’s EPA.

The problem is that this is historic parkland, originally designed by Fredrick Law Olmsted, Sr., and Calvert Vaux (New York’s Central Park fame), designed in 1871 and Olmsted wrote in 1895 that the Museum of Science and Industry was intended to be the only “dominating object of interest in the park. There was another Section 106 compliance review in 2012, and officials decided it should not be touched. They said the remaining defining characteristics such as the overall plan depicted on the 1905 map must be respected.

The Obama Foundation has made dozens of changes including road closures within the park, a revamping of the landscaping, and a redesign of the main building which is now 23 stories tall. Since the presidential papers are to go somewhere else, the 23 story building must have some other purpose, like classrooms for teaching community organizing or for instruction on the effort to ‘fundamentally transform the United States of America’. That one didn’t work out so well.

If this seems like a continuation of the theme of power and how it corrupts, you are correct.



The Dark Ages Weren’t Really Dark! by The Elephant's Child

Medieval, the Dark Ages, a time of plagues and starvation, and gloom. Where did we get those ideas? And what was the real truth? Here’s a little historical correction for us.



The Dark Ages? They Really Weren’t That Dark! by The Elephant's Child

Professor Anthony Esolen for Prager University. We’ve been told that the Middle Ages, also known as the Dark Ages, were characterized by oppression ignorance and backwardness in areas like human rights, science, health and the arts? We have been misled.



A Ten Hour Amish Barn Raising: in 3 Minutes 30 Seconds by The Elephant's Child

An Amish Barn Raising in Ohio. This is majorly cool!

Wow. Look at what can happen when you know what you are doing, and how to do it. The first building my father built many years ago—promptly fell down. Big mistakes, if you learn from them can be profitable. He learned his lesson, and the second attempt worked fine.

The important thing is learning from mistakes—not the mistakes themselves. Something we need to remember.

(h/t: Maggie’s Farm)




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