Sunday, September 4, 2011

Civil War Discussion Group

In that other Life, the one that by convention we call Real, organization is key to surviving our increasingly complex world. Spontaneity is not always wise or rewarded.

In Second Life, however, one can be spontaneous, seeking new sims by searching random keywords, popping into a social event, or stumbling into something educational. One Wednesday, shortly after I logged on, I received word from Caledon's Librarian extraordinaire, Sir JJ Drinkwater, that a new discussion group would shortly be underway, focusing on the American Civil War, with a particular emphasis on firsthand accounts of the period. Knowing terribly little about the war except from high school classes, few years back and the odd dramatization in the meanwhile,* I thought that sounded intriguing, though I wondered how much of a contribution I could make.

Mr. Drinkwater and Dame Kghia Gherardi welcomed me as I arrived in the reading room of the Caledon Library in Victoria City.
Caledon VC  Civil War 003
Sir JJ Drinkwater, Mr. Michael Neff Macbeth, Mr. Ruvean Skytower in front, Miss Lyncean Luminos and Miss Jane Fossett seated behind Mr. Drinkwater.
Caledon VC  Civil War 001
Your humble narrator, Dame Kghia Gherardi, Sir Kyle Chalice
Caledon VC  Civil War 004
Miss Herndon Bluebird, Mr. Snow Scarmon (the height-challenged dinosaur behind the chair on the right)

This turned out to be but the first of the monthly meetings of this group. The initial discussion was limited as few of us were on solid factual footing, and thus our remarks tended to be more in the line of questions than answers. Nonetheless, I anticipate a range of views.

We have a reading assignment as well for the next meeting. I need to find my reading glasses and get cracking, lest Professors Drinkwater and Gherardi think me entirely unserious!

* That's not entirely true. My typist took an economic history class as an undergraduate, taught by the eminent Dr. Claudia Goldin. One of the works we studied, and that I still recall more than a quarter-century later, was Time on the Cross, the 1974 book by Robert Fogel and Stanley Engerman. Using a variety of contemporary sources (contrary to the claim in the linked Wikipedia entry), the authors put forth the view that, contrary to what most historians at the time believed, slavery was a profitable institution and thus would not have withered away of its own accord in the absence of the Civil War. The book was quite controversial in its time.

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