Just a little something something from me to you for the holiday

Two little somethings, in fact, which I hope you will find useful and entertaining.

First off, in regard to Pilgrim Fun Facts: what would you say if I told you that some of the core plot points we were taught back in elementary school about the religious freedom-seekers in the big-buckle hats were wrong?  Well, what would you say if the chairman of the history department at Wheaton College told you?  Starting with, the Pilgrims probably didn’t land at Plymouth Rock:

We “know” the location of the Pilgrims’ landing because in 1741 —121 years after they arrived — a young boy overheard 95-year-old Thomas Faunce relate that his father, who came to Plymouth three years after the Mayflower, told him he’d heard from unnamed persons that the landing occurred there.

(snip)

If a longing for religious freedom had compelled them, they probably never would have left. But while they cherished the freedom of conscience they enjoyed in Leiden, the Pilgrims had two major complaints: They found it a hard place to maintain their English identity and an even harder place to make a living. In America, they hoped to live by themselves, enjoy the same degree of religious liberty and earn a “better and easier” living.

Now, to add to your holiday joy, some important tips to guide your behavior at the big feast…John Cook’s suggestions for the right way to start the family fight!

1) Select Your Target. Obviously, you need to find someone who disagrees with you politically. But not just anyone: Close relatives present perilous risks. Your parents or siblings can drag all sorts of emotional baggage into the fight, muddying the waters and making it more about how your veganism ruined that family vacation to Yellowstone in 1999 than whether “job-killer” is a racist code word.

(snip)

2) Getting Started. First off, you should wait until everyone’s seated at the table before you try to get things started. That way you have a captive audience that has to watch the fireworks, and everyone is settled in for a nice long time. Getting the topic of conversation to politics shouldn’t be too hard. Stick to short, sarcastic, tendentious remarks to get things going. “I’m thankful for all that free stuff Obama gave me.”

Read them all and commit them to memory for a truly if you want to provide your loved ones with a truly inspired Thanksgiving blowout they’ll talk about for years.

You’re welcome.

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Oh, would you look at what those crazy Americans have done now‏

Finding a new angle for a story is one good way to shed light on an event so a reader can see aspects that have been obscured by the shadows of unfamiliarity, ignorance or prejudice.  Today in Slate they wrote up the Senate’s filibuster-ending vote in the style of U.S. journalists when they are writing about other countries around the world; imagine just how stupid we may look to others:

WASHINGTON, United States—In what analysts are calling a landmark step on the country’s path toward representative democracy, the U.S. government agreed today to allow most appointments to high offices to be approved by a majority vote. However, opposition lawmakers are crying foul, arguing that the change will allow the country’s embattled leader to seize more power.

And, if you enjoy the opportunity to see a politician talk out of both sides of his mouth, here’s your chance: in 2005, Senator Barack Obama explains why the Republican majority in the Senate of the time should not tamper with the filibuster rule, precisely the thing the Democratic majority did today.

Obama 2005

I know we can make the arguments for and against this change to Senate rules; personally, I think protecting the rights of the minority from the tyrannical majority is a good thing, but I also think that the minority should have to actually take the floor and keep speaking in order to block action on appointments or legislation, not just threaten to do so.  But I hope we could look at ourselves honestly—all of us as a group, not just our political opponents—and see the ridiculous state that we’ve reached in our politics.

Hey, I was thinking the same thing…but I can’t draw a face full of hate like that

I am sooo tired of hearing political arguments that are based primarily, if not entirely, on what side of the issue God has taken.  Arguments made by people who, apparently, know where God stands on the issues of the day here in America.  Are extreme conservatives the only people who are plugged in to God’s position on the issues?  Or the only ones who find that argument a persuasive one?

Last month I wrote about the echo of today’s extreme conservative message in the language of  long-ago memorials to Confederate war dead.  Today, I note that Doonesbury sees some of the same thing, but makes the point better than I did (or could).

db131110

I couldn’t be more pleased to be sharing a point of view with a comic strip, or more disheartened about the intellectual quality of modern American political rhetoric.

Thanks to Doonesbury, Slate, and GoComics.com

Everything in the news is interrelated to everything else

And who better to prove the point than Tom the Dancing Bug

td131101

Thanks to TtheDB and GoComics.com