Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Monday, October 09, 2017

Flat Earth Society

I'm at a conference in Baltimore, specifically the International Conference on Communication in Healthcare. I might have something to say about the conference at some point, but today I'm going to talk about, well, today.

I actually got here yesterday. I drove, because by the time I drive an hour to the airport and pay for parking there, and a cab from BWI to here, and the time and money involved, it was just easier. I made excellent time until I got off the highway and onto the Baltimore streets, after which it took me an hour to get to my hotel which was ordinarily only ten blocks away from the Interstate.

I had no idea why the streets were blocked and the whole city gridlocked, until I saw the leading edge of what turned out to be a parade in honor of Columbus day. For this they must have paid a quarter million dollars in police overtime and probably more than that in lost business and truck idling time, to send a parade right down the main street in the heart of the city, blocking all the cross streets long the route as well, and by the way nobody, and I do mean nobody, was watching this stupid parade which consisted of old guys in medieval Italian attire carrying banners and a couple of high school bands.

In case you didn't already know, the story they told you in school was completely false. People in 1492 did not believe the earth was flat. Every sailor knew perfectly well that it was spherical. (Okay, it's only approximately spherical in reality but that's beside the point.) The ancient Greeks knew that and they also knew how big it is. The reason people didn't try to sail west from Europe to China is because they knew that if they tried it, they would run out of provisions and starve long before they got there. Columbus, however, believed that the earth was only 16,000 miles in circumference.

He was of course wrong, and he would indeed have starved to death had he not accidentally run into a continent Europeans didn't know about. (Actually the Scandinavians knew of the existence of what is now eastern Canada but they didn't know the extent of the land mass.)

What followed upon the fortunate blunder of luck fool Christopher Columbus was genocide, expropriation, and slavery. Making me sit in traffic for an hour to celebrate this evil idiot caused a big change in my opinion of Baltimore.


Don Quixote said...

Hey, C. I imagine you saw the op-ed in the NY Times today by an Italian-American who was bewailing the removal and/or vandalizing of statues, specifically Cristóbal Colón. I get the point of the op-ed piece--that one man's villain may be another's champion--but I ultimately rejected the main premise of the piece because all Italian-Americans do not think alike...nor do all members of any group. For example, as a Jewish-American, I admire the work of Albert Einstein but I'm not thrilled with the work of Andrew Dice Clay. Or Paul Wolfowitz. Or Harvey Weinstein. Or Jared Kushner. The list goes on and on. I am not "proud" to be a Jew, and I am not "proud" to be an American; these are matters of chance, as I've often heard you expound upon yourself.

So I think the author of the op-ed piece was completely justified in discussing the tribulations of Italian immigrants to this country--but I think he could have chosen a hell of a better example than "Columbus," as we've Latinized the name, because there are a lot of great Italian-Americans, like Mario Cuomo, etc. And I would still not be "proud" to be of Italian heritage because, as we've discussed, it's all a matter of chance and ascribed status.

The only thing I can think to be "proud" of is being a decent human being in a time of national insanity. Like when I was a one-to-one aide in a dysfunctional public school, and all was chaos around me as a hapless, clueless substitute teacher allowed the special education classroom to descend into chaos, and I stayed on-task with my charge. I'm proud of that.

Cervantes said...

Fiorello LaGuardia would be a good choice also, better than Cuomo actually. He was an Italian-American which is much more appropriate to represent the immigrant experience and the eventual integration of Italians into U.S. society. Also, his mother was Jewish. He did oversee a corrupt political machine but that's how cities worked in those days. He put the power to use for good.

Columbus was born in what is now Italy, which didn't even exist at the time, and he worked for the Spanish monarch and delivered what is now Latin America to Spain. He basically had nothing to do with Italy anyway, so the whole thing is ridiculous.

Gay Boy Bob said...

Good Lawd,

Lighten up! Every hero is flawed.

Margaret Sanger (Planned Parenthood)had an affinity for the KKK, lectured the ladies' auxiliary and spoke in favor of creating a ""Superior White Race" through sterilization.

Robert Byrd recruited for the KKK (Kleagle).

It's pretty well known that Malcolm X was a commie and Marxist.

Che Guevara was an international terrorist and mass murderer.

Woodrow Wilson was an overt racist, segregated the federal workforce and supported Jim Crow laws.

The point is it's just stupid to point out the flaws and complain about historical figures at this point.

Here's some humor for ya'


Why did the chicken cross the road?...

DONALD TRUMP: We will build a big wall to keep illegal chickens from crossing the road. We will have a door for legal chickens.

JOHN KERRY: We will trust the chicken to tell us whether it crossed the road or not.

CHRIS CHRISTIE: We need to waterboard that chicken to find out why it crossed the road.

RAND PAUL: It's none of our business why the chicken crossed the road.

NANCY PELOSI: We will have to wait until the chicken crosses the road to see what it says.

CARLY FIORINA: Hilary Clinton lied about why the chicken crossed the road.

BRIAN WILLIAMS: I crossed the road with the chicken.

BEN CARSON: This isn't brain surgery. So why did the chicken cross the road?

SARAH PALIN: The chicken crossed the road because, gosh-darn it, he's a maverick!

BARACK OBAMA: Let me be perfectly clear, if the chickens like their eggs they can keep their eggs. No chicken will be required to cross the road to surrender her eggs. Period.

HILLARY CLINTON: What difference at this point does it make why the chicken crossed the road?

GEORGE W. BUSH: We don't really care why the chicken crossed the road. We just want to know if the chicken is on our side of the road or not. The chicken is either with us or against us. There is no middle ground here.

BILL CLINTON: I did not cross the road with that chicken.

AL GORE: I invented the chicken.

AL SHARPTON: Why are all the chickens white?

DR. PHIL: The problem we have here is that this chicken won't realize that he must first deal with the problem on this side of the road before it goes after the problem on the other side of the road. What we need to do is help him realize how stupid he is acting by not taking on his current problems before adding any new problems.

OPRAH: Well, I understand that the chicken is having problems, which is why he wants to cross the road so badly. So instead of having the chicken learn from his mistakes and take falls, which is a part of life, I'm going to give this chicken a NEW CAR so that he can just drive across the road and not live his life like the rest of the chickens.

ANDERSON COOPER: We have reason to believe there is a chicken, but we have not yet been allowed to have access to the other side of the road.

ERNEST HEMINGWAY: To die in the rain, alone.

GRANDPA: In my day we didn't ask why the chicken crossed the road. Somebody told us the chicken crossed the road, and that was good enough for us.

BILL GATES: I have just released eChicken2014, which will not only cross roads, but will lay eggs, file your important documents and balance your checkbook.

ALBERT EINSTEIN: Did the chicken really cross the road, or did the road move beneath the chicken?

COLONEL SANDERS: Did I miss one?