“My goal is to change the norms of illness etiquette so that, from the moment your friend confides her or his diagnosis, the two of you establish a policy of complete candor — that you articulate, ‘I want to be useful and supportive to you throughout this ordeal but I’m not always going to know the right thing to say or do. I won’t always be able to anticipate your needs or read your mood, so I hope you’ll give me a heads up on what’s helpful and what’s not. Would you promise to be honest with me?’”—Letty Cottin Pogrebin
David Stockman earns a “Highbrow/Despicable” ranking on New York Magazine’s Approval Matrix, and we are jealous.
The film “A Place at the Table” opens next weekend. If you buy a movie ticket, download the film, or buy the companion book during March 1-3, Plum Organics will donate a “Super Smoothie” nutritional pouch to a child in need. Do you part to end hunger in America!
“The Age of Valentines”
Then there’s the US Postal System. For the first half century after its founding, its main function was to circulate newspapers to a national audience. Not that you couldn’t send letters, too, but the rates were much higher than for periodicals. In 1840, sending a letter from Boston to Richmond cost 25 cents a sheet, at a time when the average laborer made 75 cents a day…. That all changed in 1845, when Congress enacted the first in a series of laws that sharply reduced the cost of sending letters…. One dramatic effect of the cheaper postage was to allow Americans to keep in touch with one another in what was becoming the most mobile society on earth…. And, oh yes, they also sent valentines.
St. Valentine’s Day was an ancient European holiday. Back in England, people drew lots to divine their future mates and exchanged love poems and intricately folded pieces of paper called “puzzle purses,” the ancestors of the fortune-telling cootie-catchers that children still make today. But before the 1840s, puritan Americans almost completely disregarded the holiday, like the other saints’ days of the Old World. The drop in postal rates set off what contemporaries described as “Valentine mania.” By the late 1850s, Americans were buying 3 million ready-made valentines every year, paying anything from a penny to several hundred dollars for elaborate affairs adorned with gold rings or precious stones. People sent cards to numerous objects of their affection, often taking advantage of the possibilities for anonymity that the mail provided.
That was alarming to moralists who complained that the postal system in general promoted promiscuity, illicit assignations, and the distribution of pornography—and actually, they weren’t entirely wrong about any of that. But fully half of the valentine traffic consisted of comic or insulting cards that people sent anonymously to annoying neighbors or unpopular schoolmasters. By the time the craze tapered off a few decades later, people were sending each other cards for Christmas, Easter, and birthdays, as the greeting card became a fixture of American life.
From The Years of Talking Dangerously, by Geoffrey Nunberg
Lynn Povich is a true pioneer. That is all.
Book trailer for Bringing Mulligan Home: The Other Side of the Good War