London is transfixed by a stunning war memorial commemorating Armistice Day, when World War I ended on November 11, 1918, honored in the United States as Veteran’s Day. All around the iconic Tower of London are 888,246 ceramic poppies, one for each soldier of the Commonwealth who was killed in that war. A beautiful sea of flowers that looks simultaneously like a horrible sea of blood makes a noble tribute for all veterans.
Today we Americans are privileged to participate in what has been called the “civic sacrament” of voting.
Elections for public office are not new, of course. They were staples of the Greek democracy and the Roman republic. The papacy has always been an elected position. In medieval Europe, the Emperor was elected, the main difference from our elections being that only seven people got to vote (including the Duke of Saxony, which is why one holder of that office, Frederick the Wise, had the clout to prevent Martin Luther from being burned at the stake).
Pundits expect a big day for Republicans, who may well gain a majority on the Senate. Any predictions? [Read more…]
Easter Island, known for its mysterious stone figures, is 2,300 miles from South America. And yet, DNA research has found that the ancient Polynesians had children with Native Americans. This happened between 1300 and 1500 A.D. Today, the residents of Easter Island are 10% American Indian. Meanwhile two skulls have been found in Brazil that have been identified as Polynesian. How this mixing of two peoples with primitive technology separated by so much distance is a mystery. [Read more…]
Abortion, far from being a modern medical procedure, was rampant in the past, including in the 19th century. After the jump is an interview with Frederick Dyer, the author of a biography of Dr. Horatio Robinson Storer, the physician responsible for passing anti-abortion laws. He stopped so many abortions that, statistically, he may have saved the life of one of your ancestors, without whom you would cease to exist. [Read more…]
I was 12 years old when I watched Lyndon Johnson’s campaign ad that showed a little girl picking daisies followed by the mushroom cloud of a nuclear blast. Even at the time, I understood the message: Don’t vote for that extremist Barry Goldwater! He will start a nuclear war!
Yes, the ad, if you thought about it was utterably lame (a little girl? daisies?), but it had to have contributed to LBJ’s landslide victory. Drew Babb analyzes the political commercial, which aired as a paid advertisement one time only on September 7, 1964 (after that, it was endlessly re-run by the three networks who covered the ad itself as a piece of news). He calls it the “mother of all attack ads.” [Read more…]