Dear Thomas Jefferson,
There has been a lot of argument as of late about what you and the other ‘founding fathers’ meant by many of the phrases in the Declaration and Constitution. Now, I know that you lived in a very different time, with a different moral code in many ways, but I can’t help but to think that you imagined it being interpreted in the intent if not the letter. Times change, and you were smart enough to know that. But I’ve got a few questions if you’ve got the time.
It used to be that if two people wanted privacy, they could walk down the road a couple hundred yards and make sure there was nobody hiding in the bushes. Nowadays, they can point a laser inferometer at your glasses from half a mile away and hear every word that’s said. Not even the written word in safe. There is technology that allows people as close to absolute secrecy as can be imagined. However the government is constantly pushing for the keys to private peoples letters. How can we assure the rights of people to interact when the government is trying to make personal encryption illegal unless it has a backdoor only the government can open? Why should we trust the government with that information? What if it’s the government that becomes the problem? You yourself once wrote, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”. Why is it that the first thing revolutionaries do is make a law against treason? The king is dead, long live the king.
Lately there has been a lot of talk about religion and government. A lot of guys arguing for the 10 when pressed, most of these people can’t themselves tell you what the ten commandments are. Wouldn’t it be fair to say that the separation between church and state that is in the establishment clause of the first amendment is there to not only protect government from religion, but also to protect religion from government?
Of course, since you were all rich men, the following question is a good one: How are all men created equal when dynastic wealth changes the playing field before they’re even born? I mean, does a kid born to a single mother in Harlem really have the equality at birth with a man who is the son of a president? And all buddy-buddy insider backslapping aside, doesn’t the incredibly escalating costs of higher education in this country only worsen the problem by allowing only the rich to afford the best schools? This year, George Washington University in DC costs $36,400 a year in just tution. Not counting the cost of living in Washington. Now how is a family with the US median income of $43,200 a year supposed to pay for that? Something is out of balance. It seems to me that these schools are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on real estate in their areas, padding their endowments, at the expense of their students. You wrote, "Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government." Explain how we are to have an educated and well-informed public under the situations above.
All in all though, I think you guys did an excellent job. However you didn’t put any limitations on stupid people. For example, there are people trying to make constitutional amendments for the definition of marriage and flag burning and the like. People don’t understand the difference between a symbol and what that symbol represents. If the original Declaration of Independence, which by the way is still around and kept in a very nice and very safe box, were to be destroyed, it wouldn’t destroy this country or all the things that document says. There are plenty of other copies. The same is true of the flag. I understand that it means a lot to people, but don’t they understand that the flag is just a piece of fabric? It’s what the flag represents that’s the important thing. And that includes the right of someone to burn that piece of fabric in protest without the fear of going to jail.
I once heard a marine from WWII talk about flag burning in a documentary. He and his friends were pinned down on Iwa Jima and their flag was left behind in no mans land. And I remember he said something along the lines of. “I love America, but none of my buddies or me were about to get ourselves killed for a 2x4 foot piece of cotton” . See? He gets it.
Regardless of my ranting, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for your hard work. Myself and the 300 million other Americans and others around the world who’ve read your words, owe you greatly. I hope you find the time to answer my questions.
Christ, I don’t know what hand baskets have to do with anything, but the earth is certainly going to hell in one. Since you died, everyone has taken everything you’ve said and twisted them all around. Or at least I think that’s what’s happened. Or at least I hope that’s what’s happened.
For example, communion. I imagined that you were sitting around eating your Passover meal and said to everybody, “So, the Romans are after me and I think they’re going to try to kill me soon. Everyone remember everything I’ve said and pass it on. Let’s toast to the good times we’ve had.” But then by the Council of Nicea, they decided that you were god and started all the “this is my blood, drink it” stuff. I’m not exactly sure why the things you said wouldn’t have been just as important or powerful had they been said by a crazy person, which you probably were.
Then there are the people that use you as the reason bad things happen. To excuse wars, and bigotry and other atrocities. I was at a funeral for my friend’s sister the other day, and the priest said that he once met a dying woman who thanked Jesus for her cancer. Now, I’ve got to assume that she had a brain tumor that was effecting her judgment. Couldn’t it be that some of the cells in her body mutated and grew faster than the good cells nearby and it was killing her? What does the Golden rule and “turn the other cheek” have to do with terminal illnesses?
Sitting in front of me at the service was a woman who obviously goes to church regularly, knew all the lines, held her hands up “to receive the bounty of Christ our lord” and all that. Though when I look down at her pew there is a $300 Prada purse sitting there, and a golden goblet in the priests hands, and waterfalls in the doorway of the church. And that got me thinking about Matthew 19-23 where you supposedly said, “it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God." I don’t understand how these people think they’re following the words you said.
Look, maybe the Pope really does talk to God, and he’s explained that you got a few things wrong while you were down here and that everything is square between you and the catholic church. But I’d like to be the first to say that I think you were a pretty smart guy. Smarmy and overly slick in many ways, but it’s just sad that people seem to have missed the point of what I think you were trying to say.
Anyway, just thought you’d like to get an outsiders opinion, in case you wanted to clear things up. I’m always available to talk. 917 674 4595.
It’s been a while, well, ten and a half months to the day actually. And as you would imagine, everything has changed, and nothing has changed.
Family events, holidays, watching golf, discussing the news, sitting by the pool, going to OSJL are all very different this year. You left a very big hole to fill. I think most of us have given up on the prospect of filling it and decided that it’s probably a good idea to leave it there and just to put up some barriers so no one falls in and hurts themselves.
Mommy and I drove by the hospital Yale-New Haven hospital a couple of weeks ago, and I looked up at your room’s window. That maze of a floor that we used to try to get you to walk around. Constantly cleaning our hands with Purell, and eating in the cafeteria downstairs. It all seems like some kind of nightmare, but every day I wake up and there it is as real as it can be.
Aunt Donna died a few weeks ago. Apparently her illness finally got the best of her. The services were very sad. Watching the family instantly brought us all back to last fall. We have an immediate understanding of how they feel and what they’re going through, the sudden absoluteness of it all. It’s like a switch has been turned off. The feeling that nothing will ever be the same.
Then a couple of days later, Mike Wislocki’s sister died of a sudden stroke. 33 years old, married with 3 kids. So two deaths in as many weeks. It’s a constant reminder that life is far too short to not be doing what you want to do.
I’ve been traveling more this year. Been to Europe three times since January. I wish you could see the pictures, I’ve gotten a lot better since our trip. By the way, did you know that airline people don’t call a 757 a “seven fifty seven”? They call it a “seven five”, or a “seven three”, or whatever. Except the 777 which they call a “triple seven”.
We went to Italy for Stacey and Mike’s wedding. It was a great time, but you were sorely missed. Montemagnio was beautiful and warm. The air so clear you could see the alps on the horizon. Granted, none of us except Melissa and Mark, a little bit, knew what the hell Enrica and Baldino were saying, but it was fun none the less. As Baldino walked around like he was the mayor of town, talking to everybody who passed, we all thought of you. To think that you are not blood relatives is amazing.
One of my other recent jaunts across the pond was to go visit a jazz singer I met who lives in London. She came to visit here too last month. Melissa and mommy think she’s the bees knees. I have a feeling she’s going to be in our lives for a long time. Nice girl, you’d really like her. I just can’t believe that she’s never going to get to meet you, the great Bill Wadman. God, what I wouldn’t give.
You’d be proud, a month or so ago is started getting hot enough for the A/C to be necessary, but for some reason, while the fans were working, the air just wasn’t getting cold. Mommy was getting all mommy and worried that something was broken, but I had a hunch that it was something simple. So I went out and checked the compressor on the side of the garage. It was sitting there doing nothing, which meant that it probably wasn’t getting any power, so I followed the power line back to the fuse box and noticed an unmarked double-breaker was turned off. Bingo, it fired right up. They must of shut it off when the water heater exploded in the spring.
Oh, it looks like Dr Tony took is going to take your motorcycle, since none of us can ride it and it’s too big for us to learn on. I think we’re all happy that it’s staying in the family. Plus he wiped on Paulie’s Ducatti a while ago and needs the practice. My gentle ribbing aside, he’s a great guy and deserves it.
So with my new found beliefs about life, I’m in the process of getting out of the web business and going to try to transition into photography full time. I’ve got a brochure and business cards that I’m waiting to get back from the printers, as well as a new website and contacts in the industry. Advertising, commercial work, editorial portraiture, etc. I think I can be good at it. Starting off from scratch in a new industry, especially in New York, is terrifitying. But there is no time like the present right? And what’s the worst that can happen? I fail, big deal. It’s not going to kill me. I’m also looking into moving to London for a spell. Maybe a few months. I’ve always wanted to try living somewhere else and this might be a good time for that while everything else is in flux too.
Oh, you might not like this part, but Mommy got another cat. We had to do something to try to tame Mina, who it seems only liked you and mommy. So Melissa and Mark thought it a good idea to get a boy kitten who we named Henry, or as Jason calls him, Hank. He’s pretty cute, you’d think he was ok. Goes in his box and everything.
I guess that’s it for now. I’m sure the first few weeks of September are going to be rough for all of us here. Just know that in no way have you been forgotten. If anything Melissa and I are more aware than ever about the way you would have wanted things done.
Trying not to let your memory down. Miss you terribly.
Dear Mr Alan Turing-
Just a quick note of thanks. It was not commonly known or understood in when you were alive the great contributions you made to the world, so I thought I’d take a moment to send along some kind words.
Of course there was your brilliant work at Bletchley Park during the war, which allowed the Allies to read the Enigma code of and ultimately defeat the Nazi’s. That’s all public now, so feel free to tell those old war stories when you're out with your friends.
Perhaps even more important however, was your contribution of the “stored-program computer”, which while almost purely theoretical during your life, has become the basis for most of modern computer science. And that has had an unimaginable effect on the growth of society and the ability of people to communicate and collaborate in the modern world.
I’ll end now by apologizing for all humanity for the way you were treated once it was discovered that you were gay. How you were ostracized and forced on hormone treatments which led to your depression and ultimate suicide is one of the more tragic stories of the 20th century.
You quote literally saved the free world, and this is how we repaid you.
Thank you again for everything.