Our Thanksgiving paradox

An interesting opening sentence involving Thanksgiving that my son referred me to on the website Five Thirty Eight:

Thanksgiving — when we give thanks and celebrate a tale about the welcoming of foreign refugees to American shores — is once again upon us.

Very appropriate, but my problem is that I thought too much about it. Because the reality is, it would have been better for the natives if they had kept the refugees out.


An overstatement? Not really. Here’s a video on display at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian involving what the first European immigrants did to the people who had lived here for centuries.

Just to clarify, this is not an anti-immigrant post.

It’s just an observation that there is absolutely nothing today’s immigrants can do that’s worse than what the original immigrants to this country have already done.


The art world has gone to the dogs


This painting sold for $658,000 at Sotheby’s. I don’t know what to say. Here’s some history from the Sotheby’s catalog:

Cassius Marcellus Coolidge (1844-1934), began painting the daily life of some very humanoid canines, an artistic subspecialty that was preceded by a string of careers. In the upstate New York town of Antwerp, Coolidge worked, almost simultaneously, as a druggist, painter of street signs and house numbers, and founder of the first newspaper and earliest bank all within the years between 1868 and 1872. It was after a trip to Europe in 1873 that he turned up in Rochester, New York, as the portraitist of dogs whose life-style mirrored the successful middle-class humans of his time. Coolidge’s first customers were cigar companies, who printed copies of his paintings for giveaways. His fortunes rose when he signed a contract with the printers Brown & Bigelow, who turned out hundreds of thousands of copies of his dog-genre subjects as advertising posters, calendars, and prints.

“Coolidge’s poker-faced style is still engaging today. His dogs fit with amazing ease into such human male phenomena as the all-night card game, the commuter train, and the ball park. His details of expression, clothing, and furniture are precise. Uncannily, the earnest animals resemble people we all know, causing distinctions of race, breed, and color to vanish and evoking the sentiment on an old Maryland gravestone: MAJOR Born a Dog Died a Gentleman” (“A Man’s Life,” American Heritage, February 1973, p. 56).

Don’t know who bought it. I guess it’s the kind of a barometer of taste that you don’t want people to know about if you’re a rich person. Or maybe the rich person just bought it for his dog?

Because there obviously wasn’t anything better the person could do with the money.

The myth of Sisypuss


Remember this from college mythology?

The gods had Sisypuss move an object from the bottom of a hill to the top, only to have the object escape and return to the bottom. So Sisypuss had to go back to the bottom of the hill to do the same work, over and over for eternity.

Of course, what Sisypuss should have done was get off the damn hill.

Peace in our time

Armed conflict seems to be the preferred means of dealing with international issues by at least one political party in the U.S. But, as the narrator says in this video, “That’s so 20th century.”

And yes, the video is correct about King Leopold II of Belgium. He was a war criminal, even though he never declared war on the Congo. He ranks up there with Hitler and Stalin in mass murder, and no one seems to know that. Read “King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa” by Adam Hochschild for a fascinating history on the evil of colonialism.

Man and nature

I’m a firm believer that it isn’t going to be aliens who stomp humanity. It’s going to be something we created.

Because when Skynet becomes self aware or when we get sucked into the Matrix,  someone’s going to ask the computers how do we fix the planet? The answer’s going to be, “Get rid of the humans.”

And when it comes to protecting the planet, humans keep showing they have the morality of Peter Lorre’s character in “M”.