Saturday, 20 January 2018


Our antiquarian JF Ptak directs our attention to a 1923 pamphlet from one Mister William Dee of Willimantic, Connecticut that outlines fifty-seven theses on “Things that Weaken the American”—offered mostly without explanation or elaboration.
I am not sure if I could be called a reliable narrator exactly given the adumbration of present rhetoricians but a lot of these snap judgments (and we’re not sure why Mister Dee stopped at fifty-seven—but perhaps there was to be a follow-on volume—or why indeed that none of these enumerated woes actually were threats to America or in fact any nation) had a strangely familiar off-the-cuff ring to them and a few pearls of wisdom bear repeating.

  • Love Letter Writing: “Very bad. Marry the girl.” 
  • Home Talent Shows: “Utterly ruinous to those who work for a living.” 
  • Hard Study: “Avoid as much as possible.” 
  • Houses: “They should be small and easy to burn in case they become infected by germs.” 
  • Public Opinion: “Bad if against you.” 
  • Exercise: “Hurtful to those who are already over-exercised, by a hundred times, from modern efficiency.”