JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post From the series on Questionable Quidity
William Dee, of Willimantic, Connecticut, set out in 11 pages his 57 complaints of Things That Weaken America. Some of them are actually more or less relatively maybe sometimes semi-correct with qualifications, others not so, and still many others being most definitely anti-correct. Some bits are straightforward and make no argument or explanation, as with the entries for artificial teeth ("remove them after eating"), tragedies ("avoid them"), and city living ("is unnatural"). Others are more expansive and inscrutable, as with the entry that rails against a vegetarian diet, ending with the need to sleep alone so that your bedmate does not draw off your vitality with their magnetism. The short and skimpy pamphlet has a sort of Devil's Dictionary feel to it, though without the barbed wit and insight and artfulness. Why Mr. Dee stopped at 57, and why he didn't really address anything that really threatened the United States, I do not know.
The writer strikes me more a 19th century person than a 20th c--perhaps he was born in 1863, which means instruction from his parents were probably taken from their 18th c parents, and the sentiments of the newness of the 1880s and 1890s just never gave way to the modern age. And maybe not.
Here are other examples (spelling, grammar, and etc. as found in the original):
- City Living: "Is unnatural."
- Artificial teeth: the only advice was to "remove them after eating".
- Exercise: "Hurtful to those whop are already over-exercised, by 100 times, from modern efficiency." (?)
- Night-time work: "Good for night-hawks, but bad for honest workmen. It is another short cut to the poor house."
- Steadily Working: "This gives no chance for the workman to rest and become his original self again" In lieu of frequent vacations, "take two hours' rest at mid day."
- Doctors: "Some doctors have been known to keep their patients ill for income."
- Choir singing: "People who are not making a living at it should avoid it."
- Unfortunate marriages: "Have a reliable physician examine both for perfect health and avoid hell on earth..."
- Sentimental music: "It weakens the body."
- Graduation exercises: "A strain on the strongest and a set-back to others. Unnecessary. Abolish."
- Too Ambitious: "Causes too much draft on the vitality."
- Public Opinion: "Bad if against you."
- Too Much Work: "Four hours in 24 is enough for Ford efficiency. Have frequent vacations."
- Vegetarian Diet: "Avoid it." Also, without explanation: "Sleep alone to be sure that the larger oneis not drawing on your vitality by a more powerful magnetism".
- Weakening Dreams: "Very bad."
- Love: "Very weakening. Marry the girl."
- Houses: "They should be small to be easy to burn in case they become infected by germs."
- Polluted Water Veins: [Too long and odd to transcribe.]
- Psychological Illness: "Keep away from sick people if you are troubled."
- Strains: "Avoid them."
- Hard Study: "Avoid as much as possible."
- Tragedies: "Avoid them."
- Home Talent Shows: "Utterly ruinous to those who work for a living."
- Piano and Organ Playing: "Mental and nerve burden. Avoid. Health is better than music."
- Love Letter Writing: "Very bad. Marry the girl."