Throwback to 1922 Midterm Elections

With the United States’ midterm elections in less than a month, I figured it calls for a Throwback Thursday post to revisit the midterms from a hundred years ago.

Agriculture, unionized labor, and debate over a World War I veterans bonus were the hot-button issues that defined the midterms in the 22nd year of the last century. But like every election, there were sleeper issues that played a role as well.

In 1922, the US was four years removed from World War I, three years removed from the Spanish Flu, and a year removed from one of the worst recessions in the country’s history. 

At the time, Senators had only been elected by popular vote in four election cycles thanks to the Seventeenth Amendment, which was ratified in 1913. 

The 1922 midterms were also only the second election when women in every state had the right to vote thanks to the Nineteenth Amendment, which was ratified in 1920. 

The State of the US Government in 1922

Entering the 1922 midterms, Republicans controlled the House, Senate, and White House. 

In the election of 1920, Republicans had picked up 67 seats in the House, raising their majority to a whopping 303–167, to this day, the largest majority their party has ever held in the lower chamber. 

Republicans also picked up ten seats in the Senate, bringing them to a 59–37 majority in the upper chamber. 

President Warren Harding won the White House in 1920 with more than 60 percent of the popular vote after two terms of Democrat President Woodrow Wilson. Harding ran on a platform of restoring America to its pre-war prosperity and normalcy. 

Democratic leadership, meanwhile, continued to advocate for American meddling on the international stage — a message that proved hugely unpopular with voters after the war.

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What’s Behind The Gluten-Free Fad? And Is It Fading?

Too many people are eating gluten-free diets.

I’m not talking about people who are genuinely affected by celiac disease or who suffer from gluten sensitivity. They obviously have to eat gluten-free.

For over a decade, however, going gluten-free has become a fad to signal the virtue of self-care.

According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, celiac disease diagnoses have increased an average of 7.5 percent over the past few decades. But even this remains minuscule. A study in Minnesota found that from 2000 to 2010, those with celiac disease increased from 11 for every 100,000 to 17 for every 100,000.

Genetics can cause celiac disease but so can environmental factors. I have a family member who developed it from the stress she experienced in college.

But the explosion in gluten-free food doesn’t account for the small growth in gluten-related illnesses.

From 2004 to 2011, gluten-free products increased at an annual rate of 28 percent.

In 2013, in its ‘Healthy Eating Consumer Report’, Technomic found that, in 2010, gluten-free items on limited-service restaurant menus were virtually non-existent. By 2012, there were hundreds. In fact, by the early 2010s, many restaurants were treating gluten-free as a healthy food choice rather than a way to attract celiac customers.

Soon, the public became bombarded with gluten-free Girl Scout cookies, Vodka, and even Trader Joe’s satirical “Gluten-Free Greeting Cards.”

Figuring out which came first, the supply or the demand, requires further research. What’s certain, though, is that they overlapped. The percentage of households purchasing gluten-free products increased from 5 to 11 percent from 2010 to 2013.

Virginia Morris, vice president for consumer strategy and insights at Daymon Worldwide, a private brand and consumer interactions company, told the New York Times, “There are truly people out there who need gluten-free foods for health reasons, but they are not the majority of consumers who are driving this market.”

Indeed, less than one percent of the population suffers from celiac disease. Only six percent suffers from mild gluten-related symptoms. This made the five percent of gluten-free consumption in 2010 in line with the percentage of people who actually needed it.

So, how did this trend start?

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Five Steps to Deal with Frustration

Suffering from frequent frustration may signal something profoundly wrong with one’s personal habits, schedule, or lifestyle. We all get frustrated from time to time. But we can take steps to limit frustration’s symptoms and get to the root of the problem.

Think of stress as the occasional stubbed toe or bruised elbow. It happens sometimes. That’s life.

Now, think of frustration as an infection. Bruises and scratches happen, but it’s not normal for them to become infected.

Living with occasional stress is unavoidable — but short and passing. Here are five steps we can take to keep our stress from infecting into frustration and hurting longer than it should.

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College Is a Commodity, Not a Right

College is a commodity like bread, meat, cars, and homes. It is not a right like life, liberty, and property.

When two people discuss ways to fix the broken American higher education system, and one believes it should be cost-free, they usually talk past each other. They’re simply on different wavelengths.

One is discussing ways to make it so students get what they pay for. The other doesn’t believe students should be paying anything because they don’t see higher education as a commodity.

Here’s how it works: someone pays money to an institution; the institution provides them with the knowledge to pursue a career — no different than someone paying money to an auto dealer in exchange for a car.

Few Americans who believe education should be free believe so because of practicality. They tend to support free higher education on principle. To them, it’s just one of many steps to abandon the capitalist system of exchange. A deeper conversation with them reveals that there isn’t much they consider worthy of commoditization.

But if higher education is too important to be bought and sold, what isn’t? Food? Shelter? Clothing?

If someone’s answer is all of the above, then how much of the above? And who decides how much? A democratically-elected committee?

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Does Listening To Music While Writing Help Or Distract?

Today, most people listen to music when they write. 

Scientific evidence and expert advice tend to recommend against it. But because it’s accepted that that’s what people do nowadays, many instructors don’t bother trying to dissuade.

That’s a mistake.

We often become comfortable with giving in to what we like. Other times, we want so badly to be accepted and liked that we back down from even the slightest constructive criticism.

Listening to any kind of music while studying or writing can waste time and dull creativity. It’s a form of multitasking. Our brains are not hardwired to multitask. We can…and do. But it doesn’t mean it’s healthy or as productive as it would be if we arranged our lives so that we don’t have to.

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David Moniac: West Point’s First American Indian Graduate

David Moniac graduated from the US Military Academy at West Point in 1822. He was the academy’s first American Indian graduate and the first graduate from the state of Alabama. He lived as a civilian and died a soldier.

Moniac was born in 1802 in present-day Montgomery County, in what was then part of the Mississippi Territory. His mother was Elizabeth Weatherford, sister of William Weatherford, the Upper Creek chief who surrendered to Andrew Jackson at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend (1814). 

David’s father, Sam, owned a tavern on the newly-built federal road through Creek territory. During the Creek War (1813–14), Sam served as a scout for the US military.

After the war, David moved to Washington, DC, where he studied under tutor John McLeod to prepare for the entrance exam at West Point. In 1817, David was admitted to the academy. At the time, the academy served primarily to train future military officers and engineers.

In 1821, Moniac marched with his fellow cadets all the way to Boston, where they drilled, and their marching band played. Former President John Quincy Adams had them to his house. Moniac’s commandant, Major William Worth, tried to introduce him to Adams but Moniac didn’t want to, which the commandant told Adams was due to shyness. 

Moniac’s shyness was likely due to his refusal to be made a celebrity and his exhaustion at the constant gawking. Worth told Adams that on more than one occasion, gawkers had mistaken him for the Indian that everyone knew was attending West Point.

Although Moniac had few demerits, he did not perform exceptionally well — likely due to his limited early education. He graduated 39th out of a class of 40 after being held back a year at his request. However, two-thirds of the students who entered the academy when he did failed to graduate. 

His class included five future generals in the US army, two generals in the New Jersey militia, two officers in the Confederate army, three college presidents, and five civil engineers or chief operating officers of railroads.

The army commissioned him as a second lieutenant in the Sixth US Infantry Regiment upon graduation. He promptly resigned, however, because his father had drunk himself to destitution, and his family needed someone to manage its clan’s estate. Continue reading…

Bloodline Does Not Equal Ethnicity

Ethnic Map of New York City

The American media became obsessed with race and identity a decade ago. As the gap between the globe-trotting haves and the monocultural have-nots widened, cultural elites became more emboldened to flex their elitist bona-fides by dunking on the less fortunate — those uninterested in turning their communities into United Nations oases.

But since diversity remains such an explosive and controversial obsession in our American culture, it behooves us to talk about it.

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It’s Okay to Not Write

Staring at a blank page, not knowing what to write can seem time-wasting.

That’s because it is.

In the gig era, it’s hard to justify not doing something you like as a side hustle. If you consider yourself a writer, the thought of not pursuing your craft all the time can seem wasteful — lazy even.

What was it, though, that made writing your preferred side hustle and hobby? It isn’t your 9–5 for a reason.

Passion drives most writers more than anything. However, even the most passionate of hobbyists and side hustlers hit dry spells occasionally.

Sound advice teaches us to write even when we don’t feel like it. Some days I don’t feel like exercising. It doesn’t mean I should come up with excuses not to.

Writing, however, is different. It’s an art. You must force it if it pays the rent. But if it doesn’t, it’s okay not to write at times.

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What To Do If Your Phone Overheats And Won’t Turn On

Ever left your phone in the car and come back to find it’s overheated and doesn’t work properly?

Ever just left it exposed to the sunlight for half an hour of blistering heat?

If you have, you probably found out the hard way — as I did — that smartphones aren’t made for sunbathing.

This can be frustrating — and unnerving if it’s the first time — if you need your phone right away.

I’ve experienced both extremes.

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Tales of Working Fast Food

Photo by @edibleindy

Fast food is as American as apple pie — only less healthy.

For those with no choice but to work in the greasier underbellies of this industry, it creates an unforgettable love-hate relationship with burgers, chicken sandwiches, fries, nuggets, and even soda.

Like many broke undergraduates, fast food provided me with quick employment. It has the highest turnover rate of any industry for good reason. But for those needing a quick paycheck, McDonald’s is always hiring.

These drive-thru grease buckets rarely provide much of a resume boost, but they’re rarely dull. And while some of these places I wouldn’t recommend an enemy work at, they provided me with great multi-tasking practice and a few unforgettable experiences.

Here are a few of them. Continue reading…