Madison’s act of belevolence: the Venezuela Earthquake and 200 years of American foreign aid.

James Madison is often quoted as having been against hand-outs,

“I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.”*

Although these probably weren’t James Madison’s exact words, Congressman Madison probably said something similar.

Portrait of James Madison
Portrait of James Madison

Continue reading Madison’s act of belevolence: the Venezuela Earthquake and 200 years of American foreign aid.

When Saint Patrick’s Day was British

a loyalist bull celebrating St. Patrick's DaySt Patrick’s day “a day always precious in the estimation of the Irishman, was celebrated yesterday at the Free Mason’s Tavern.” Reported the Morning Chronicle.

So the famous playright Sheridan, the Mayor of London, and a few other notables celebrated St. Patrick’s, so what? Well, unlike in previous years, British newspapers in 1812 saw trouble brewing in these celebrations.

Continue reading When Saint Patrick’s Day was British

1812, When Big Banks Could Go Bankrupt

2nd of January, 1812. London was the world’s financial capital, and “Boldero and Lushington” were one of the biggest and best known financial firms in 19th century London.

Photograph of two winged statues joining hands at an angle on top of the National Audit Office in London
National audit Office, London, photographed by the author February 2011

The firm started in 1738, under the name of “Thomas Miners.” In 1742, when Charles Boldero joined the firm, it became “Miners and Boldero.”  As the Boldero family’s influence in the firm increased, so did both their fortunes.

So it was a huge surprise when, on January 2nd 1812, Boldero, Lusington, Boldero and co. stopped making payments. Continue reading 1812, When Big Banks Could Go Bankrupt

Are you a street artist on the Internet Superhighway?

Remember that “professional” photographer who took a polaroid of you on the beach without asking? Then he had the nerve to ask you for five bucks (when the dollar was the international currency)?

Well, today he’s been replaced by the MySpace musician who has emailed you a link to his song. You listen to it, and find a little box asking for a five pound donation.

Personally, I’d rather drop a coin at some guy playing live music in the subway, or drawing a charicature of me in Paris.

I’m sure the tax man disagrees. It’s much easier to freeze a Youtube filmmaker’s PayPal account than it is to follow around some fire breather with an open guitar case. But really, most of these artists don’t make enough to pay taxes, do they?

Unfortunately, graffiti is still around (and terrible graffiti at that). We still see panhandlers and con artists (online and off). But whatever happened to the big city “honest beggar”? Where is the street artist now?

Am I a dinosaur here? Has the Internet destroyed the street artist?