Monday, July 04, 2005


I've been relaxing this holiday weekend. I have the apartment to myself the whole month, and so I've been able to walk around in my boxers, sing at reasonable volume, clutter up the living room, etc.

I've also, thankfully, been able to avoid all family contact which is a blessed thing indeed. I didn't go back to the hometown, didn't watch the parade, didn't even eat any bbq (yet: I get some of that tomorrow).

Used to be, the 4th of July was just an excuse for me to get drunker than snot, even more than usual. I wasn't always a radical, but I never was a patriotic type. Usually, friends and I went to the beach, or I'd go with whoever I was dating at the time to the town picnic (and firework show after). Now .. "who gives a shit" is my attitude. But I'm not just apathetic, I'm antisocial. I haven't had a good (as in, eventful) 4th of July in three years. And I really don't care.

I did watch the fireworks show from my building's roof last night, though. Very good for a town Memphis' size.

Blah, anyway, the date is important for humanist reasons, and should be celebrated as such. The Declaration of Independence is one reason, the anniversary of the death of its author another. But let's not forget John Adams, who died on the same day as his friend and rival Jefferson, fifty years to the day after July 4, 1776.

Adams was a conservative and a moralist. He was crusty, bitter, and rarely had a nice thing to say about his coevals. I rather like this last trait, because he was also honest. The "promote the general welfare" phrase in the Constitution's preamble is as much a testament to John Adams as it could be to anyone; he was a "big government" man, as was his son John Quincy -- a far cry indeed from modern conservatives. Though Adams was a promoter of the "best and brightest" idea of perfect administration, and had only a snarl to offer the French-Jefferson ideals of democracy, he had different reasons for this than do our modern plutocrats: he wanted educated, disinterested (in theory, the least corruptible) men in government. John Adams was not a social darwinist. Alexander Hamilton -- often brilliant, often insane, fatally mouthy -- on the other hand, was, which neatly explains his continuing influence on wingnuttia, while Adams has largely been consigned to the scrapheap except when he's needed for a snotty quote against the alleged intemperance of democrats.