A Sobering Look At History Through Ancestry: Owned v. Pwned

From Brandon Friedman (@BrandonF) via Twitter, about 11:30 pm EST:

If you watch the Ancestry.com TV ads, you always see people who find wonderful, redeeming stories about their families.What they don’t prepare you for is that you also find the names and dollar values of the people your family used to own.

Warren 24 years old, yellow color, $1,500; Mease a man 28 yrs old, black color, $1,400;Nettie 20 yrs old, black color, and her children, $1,700; Sarah 17 yrs old and her children, $750; India 52 yrs old black color, $350.

No idea what became of them.

Those are sobering thoughts that harken back to a darker part of our national heritage - a part that we have not left fully behind, when slavery and indentured servitude were used to build the nation on the backs of others.

The Gingrich Delusion

The irony of Newt Gingrich's run for President doesn't lie in the fact that he has about as much chance of success as Donald Trump (that is, none at all), but that he continues to justify himself through an undergraduate--even adolescent--view of history.  That he styles himself an intellectual and sports a PhD in history makes this rich.

Gingrich mistakes pattern for truth, and misunderstands "pattern" itself as applied to intellectual studies.  A pattern of any sort exists in part because we notice it.  That is, it is part of us as much as it is part of whatever we are studying.  As we are subjective beings and have contributed to the pattern, we had best be suspicious of any claims of its objectivity; we had best remove from our minds the possibility of full objectivity for the pattern.

Also, a pattern is not predictive unless it can be tested and the test reproduced--something not possible with history (the scientific method gets its name for a reason).  Identification of pattern can be useful to study in the humanities, but that utility is limited.  Any real historian--any real intellectual, for that matter--knows this.


The Decline of American television

Does anybody out there remember what television was like in the 1970s?

Back in the 1970s we had TV shows like Welcome back Kotter, Barney Miller, Chico and the Man, M*A*S*H*, All in the Family. WKRP in Cincinnati, the ABC After school special and Fat Albert.

The main thing that binds all of these TV shows together was that all of these shows had a social message. They taught important lessons. They taught about the importance of trying to resolve problems without violence, the stupidity of racism, the ugliness of war, the importance of social justice, the importance of getting a good education, the importance of accepting of people who are different than you are, the importance of staying off of drugs and other social messages as well.

We also had Schoolhouse rock which helped to educate America's children.

That was then. This is now.

You MORONS! You put a BUSH Republican back and he's a teabagger, too!

Scott Brown, R-Teabagger, Bush Republican and guaranteed wrench in the works of trying to clean up the mess made by the previous Republican control of government, defeated Martha Coakley in the race for the MA Senate seat formerly occupied by the late Senator Edward Kennedy.

There's no excuse for this -- for putting a man into the Senate who has already vowed to bring back the policies of failure that undermined our nation and marked the legacy of the GOP's gut-and-run method of governing. There's no excuse for giving the party of Failure, the party of No, the party of self-centered and self-serving arrogance back one step closer to power, and for undermining the one chance we've had to make major inroads into cleaning up the disastrous impact of their 8 year long rule of negligence, corruption, cronyism and greed.

For everyone who cast a vote for Brown -- if you're not already a Teabagger, and if you bought into the GOP's running narration of blaming the new President and Democratic majority for their failures and abuse -- then you're a frickin' moron who would deserve the disaster you've voted to prolong, except that it impacts EVERYONE ELSE on the PLANET...people who don't deserve any further extension of this Republican party's malignant legacy.

You bloody ridiculous, foolish morons.

Monday Morning Open Thread: A Reagan Resurgence, Historical Rewrite Edition

This was an interesting view of Reagan, cited as "the greatest American of the 20th Century" in the piece.  Since a lot of the stuff that's currently gone sideways on the GOP originates with the Reagan "revolution" I suspect that the folks are hoping to create a rewritten historical puff piece to bring some of the wayward back into their fold...before using them to smother the nation and cover up the crimes of the Bush Regime.

(Caution: to get it all on one page, I used the "Print This" link -- you'll get prompted for your printer, but should be able to cancel and read the article as one page.)

Reagan's Love of Freedom A Lesson For Today

The piece is definitely pro-Reagan, anti-Carter, and slightly out-of-focus with a few of the realities that were in play.

In short, it's a pretty good piece to review, rebut and reflect upon for why it may be showing up now -- perhaps to recall some of the "good old days" and Reagan "revolution" magic, and perhaps to erase some of the stains and obscure the wounds of the Bush Administration and last 12 years of GOP malfeasance, mismanagement and corruption? Or simply to rewrite history, before reality sets in and too many people realize that the GOP of today evolved from the new direction that launched with the Reagan years?

It's a good time for discussion -- grab some coffee or a beverage and jump right in.

This is, of course, an Open Thread.

Sunday Evening Open Thread: Atlantis Landing, Trailblazing Edition

Here's a video clip of the recent landing of the Space Shuttle Atlantis as it returned from its latest mission.

Some other fun stuff on the science and technology front -- specifically historical in nature, can be found here:

"Trailblazing" website reveals 350 years of science
Sun Nov 29, 2009 8:49pm EST

By Kate Kelland

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - A gruesome account of a 1666 blood transfusion and amusing notes about how an 8-year-old Mozart responded to tests of his genius were published on Monday as part of an online history of scientific endeavor.

The "Trailblazing" website was created by Britain's influential science academy the Royal Society, and includes handwritten papers on some of the most important scientific discoveries of the past three and a half centuries.

Neat stuff, eh?

This is an Open Thread.

One Nation Two Spirits ... Our Native American Brothers & Sisiters

One segment of the LGBT community which is overlooked, most likely not even thought of, are our Native American brothers and sisters.

I became aware of Two Spirits about a year ago when adding categories to my link blog LGBT Rainbow Links.

Aside from being part of our community, the history of Two Spirits goes back before the first Europeans set foot in The New World.

Saturday Morning Open Thread -- Eclectic Collection Edition

Good morning, guten morgen and all that. Today is Saturday, July 18, 2009, and here's a smattering of items that may be of interest.

First, we remember Walter Cronkite, who passed away yesterday, only two days before the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing:

Image credit: CBS News,
via NASA website.

Image is of the Apollo 14
landing site. Hat-tip LA Times.

NASA has a fitting tribute to Mr. Cronkite here.

Open Thread -- Pandemic Precursor Edition

From the LA Times:


"Pandemic influenza is not the same as seasonal influenza. It doesn't respect seasonality the same way," says Lone Simonsen, a flu expert at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

Scientists think the spring swine flu epidemic may be a "herald wave" of what's to come. In 1918, a milder wave of flu cases occurred in late winter and early spring, before the deadly pandemic surge in the fall of that year. In 1957, Asian flu was causing unremarkable illness in China, before landing on American soil for the summer outbreaks and a severe winter season.

Simonsen has studied past pandemics and says that a pattern of multiple waves is common to all of them also. The 1957 pandemic flu had three waves in the U.S. over five years, with a large number of deaths in the winters of 1959 and 1962. The 1968 pandemic flu had two waves in the British Isles over consecutive years, with 15% of the total number of deaths occurring in winter 1968 and the remaining 85% in winter 1969.

This gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "doing the wave."

This is an Open Thread.

Al Qaeda, the Surge, and Rewritten Realities: Staking The Monstrous Myths Before They Solidify

I've noticed that nobody is calling the pundits and traditional media out on their statements of myth as fact -- myths like:

  • the Surge worked
  • we've 'defeated' Al Qaeda in Iraq

C'mon, folks -- don't let the spinmeisters and liemasters succeed in rewriting reality to further pollute history. If you don't want to call 'em out on their b.s. directly, simply make it a habit to restate and correct their b.s. on the fly and then continue making your point.

Don't let them ingrain their b.s. into the collective consciousness.

These are the facts and realities:

  • The Surge failed. Period. It was a change in strategy that our commanders on the ground made that enabled us to take advantage of the situation with regard to paying local militants to help fight against the insurgency. The Pentagon said this pretty clearly, in direct contrast to the Bush White House.
  • WE are THE REASON for 'Al Qaeda in Iraq'. Al Qaeda wasn't there before we invaded; afterward, we had to create a special nomenclature called "Al Qaeda in Iraq" to describe the establishment of a foothold that waltzed in across the unsecured borders our "fearless" (clueless) former CiC and his mass minions were responsible for; it was their idiocy and mismanagement of a misguided, illegal invasion -- totally disregarding our military's seasoned leaders -- that led to the introduction of 'Al Qaeda in Iraq' in the first place.

Open Thread -- Random Remembrance Edition

Remember this?

Klink and Paulson -- Separated at Birth?

Open Threads can be a great way to change topics, introduce new ideas, present a change of pace or inject humor into any site.  It provides people with opportunities to post comments on any topic instead of having to adhere to whatever topic a given post is about, and can lead to interesting discussions.

Topics have ranged from snarky sarcasm to finance, including things like health and the importance of fish poop to life or the significance of ancient poop to the study of archaeology.  Yes, topics even touch down into potty humor. We've delved into LA Noir and explored the potential uses of the internet to help people learn and communicate, even posting a few starter videos on sign language.

It all goes to show you that an Open Thread is truly that: open, ready and waiting for folks to join in the discussion.  C'mon in -- the water's fine ('cept in Fargo at the moment).  Feel free to peruse past Open Threads or simply comment on what's going on locally.  Ignore the potential significance of a Klink-Paulson link if it'll help you get through your morning coffee, and just say "Hello."

This is, as they say, an "Open Thread."

Modern History - Lieberman's Betrayal of Progressives

Think Progress has provided an in depth study of Lieberman's betrayal of progressives. The information will not come as a shock to anyone on the left that has followed him closely and recognized this unholy alliance early on as Lieberman pledged his allegiance to the warmongering neoconservative whack jobs and their likudnik/AIPAC allies.

Lieberman's story is a bizarre combination of apologist for their neoconservative failures and an accomplice in covering up their crimes. For those of you that are unfamiliar with Lieberman's self-propelled decent to this hellish low, please adjust your internal thermostat in order to keep your cool as you read because, in reality, this is not simply a chronicle of the betrayal of progressives, and the left in general, but of Joseph I. Lieberman's betrayal of America and some of the most basic principles she was founded upon.

A Place to Visit for 'PEACE' while in DC for Inauguration

While those of you attending the Inauguration may be staying over for a few days, either before or after, you may find this a restful and enlightening venue to stop in and visit.

1/1-31 Georgetown: The Peace Mural, the unbelievable 2,000 paintings exhibition of art on war, peace, and torture that the Vietnamese-American artist Huong has on display in a 10,000 square foot gallery on M Street in Georgetown: Peace Mural Foundation

"Peoples' Peace Treaty" - On This Day

November 24, 1970

14 American students met with Vietnamese in Hanoi to plan the "Peoples' Peace Treaty" between the peoples of the United States, South Vietnam and North Vietnam.
It begins, "Be it known that the American people and the Vietnamese people are not enemies. The war is carried out in the names of the people of the United States and South Vietnam, but without our consent. It destroys the land and people of Vietnam. It drains America of its resources, its youth, and its honor."
The treaty was ultimately endorsed by millions.