Daily Archives: October 9, 2012

Now That Columbus Day Is Over

Once upon a time, Columbus Day was a national holiday and school children would celebrate the discovery of America. Of course they also celebrated Christmas instead of Winter Break and Easter instead of Spring Break.

That Scoundrel, Columbus!

But more important than the discovery of America is the discovery of the following important facts:

  • That Columbus didn’t really discover America. It had already been discovered by Leif Ericson or Leif the Red or a bunch of Asians who walked across the ice from Russia to Alaska.
  • That Columbus never actually made it to America, but only to several of the islands in the Caribbean, so he only discovered islands, not a continent.
  • That Columbus never discovered anything, but instead thought he was in India, which was why the indigenous people were referred to as Indians.
  • America was named after Amerigo Vespucci, a mapmaker who supposedly put his name in that big blank spot west of the Atlantic – proof that Columbus’ role was unimportant.
  • Columbus paved the way for evil Europeans to bring warfare and disease to the Native Americans (we dare not call them Indians, although without Vespucci we couldn’t call them Native Americans.)

And while we’re at it…

  • Edison didn’t invent the electric light bulb.
  • Henry Ford didn’t invent the automobile.
  • Marconi didn’t invent the wireless (radio).

And we wonder why the world is in the shape it’s in.

So, I ask you to consider the following:

  • If Columbus hadn’t sailed west, you and I would probably be some peasant stock in Europe or Asia under some type of monarchy. If America hadn’t broken the mold, there’s no reason to believe that those born into royalty would have given up their power and prestige. Even after sending the royalty to the guillotine, the French managed to eke out an emperor or two. The Tsar ruled Russia until the Bolshevik revolution, the Shah didn’t let go until Jimmy Carter was president. Then there’s King Juan Carlos of Spain, Queen Elizabeth in Great Britain and of course Brad and Angelina of California.
  • The value of an invention is not necessarily thinking of the idea first or even being the first to make it work. The value is in making its benefit available to others.
  • It was because of Edison, that electric lights became the norm (even though it was Westinghouse’s power distribution system that made it work.)
  • Ford invented a way to make cars inexpensive enough for people to be able to afford. He even paid his workers a seemingly “obscene” wage so that Ford employees would have enough money to purchase Ford Automobiles.
  • Marconi Wireless created the interest and expectation that communications could occur instantly from virtually anywhere to virtually anywhere including to and from ships at sea.

So to those who are down on the explorers and inventors, take comfort in the words of that great American philosopher, George Carlin, who said, “Remember, inside every silver lining – there’s a dark cloud!”

Pets & Who Owns Whom

When we lived in Wyoming we adopted a dog from the shelter. She ran away the first day, jumping a 6 foot fence. After that she never was happy if she was more than 6 feet distant from my wife.

A cat that someone had abandoned in the country stopped by for a visit and stayed for quite a while. He lived outdoors but slept indoors. It was Wyoming, after all. When we moved, both moved with us. The cat would head out each night, and return in the morning, after which he’d try to get the dog’s attention. The dog would ignore the cat, after which the cat would spend time with my wife.

One day when the cat was well over thirteen years old, he went out one night but never came back the next morning. The dog was despondent and quickly deteriorated in health. We lost her several months later.

Soon all we had was Alex, my parrot.

That didn’t last.

The kids talked us into a kitten. Each. The usual promises of responsibility for caring for them were made, dismissed, and eventually caved into after which the follow through was somewhat lacking. Then, of course came the inevitable replacement for Jazz, the dog we lost.

And yes, the same promises were made again and promptly forgotten at the first taste of inconvenience.

Now that you’ve taught the cat to come when you call, what are you going to do?

I finished fencing in the yard today so that the dog can run without being on a chain. So much for the “inexpensive” dog from the animal shelter. In the meantime, the parrot calls for a snack, at which time the cats cluster around his cage as if he’s offering, not asking. As if that weren’t enough, the parrot calls my son’s cat mimicking my son’s voice.

The journey to the dark side is complete. The inmates are now officially running the zoo.