Category Archives: History

Party Like It’s 1582

The time change is supposed to make it feel earlier in the afternoon. By some miracle, I was asleep at 9:07 last night. I woke up at 1:42 a.m. and listened to jokes on Alexa. I did the no-laugh challenge. By the second joke, I was laughing enough to annoy G├╝ino, who attempted to remain motionless and quiet at my knees. His consternation with me was apparent.

My newish downstairs neighbors had visitors last night. I used the tried-and-true “turn the box fan even higher” method to drown them out. It was effective. Standing on the deck this morning at 2:30, I whispered down at a couple of people as they smoked and gossiped outside and below me. One of the two guys jumped. The other one laughed. “I hope we weren’t too loud last night,” he said. “Nah, the fumes from my batch of meth had me hallucinating,” I replied, being as serious as I could. Both of the guys looked at each other and then laughed. My only regret is that I didn’t have a chemistry beaker as a prop to add credibility to my joke.

It doesn’t feel like Monday, and it indeed doesn’t feel like it is March with Spring breathing down our necks. It’s Pi Day. That always strikes me as funny, given most adults’ aversion to math. To me, November 10th would be more fun for Pi Day, as it’s the 314th day of the year on the Julian calendar. Most people don’t know that the Julian calendar reigned supreme until the later 1500s. I love the idea of someone just deciding to add two extra months to a year, or arbitrarily opting to change the year. The effect of this is that many events we have learned that happened on a specific date didn’t transpire on the date we note. In 1582, much of the world simply skipped ten or eleven days entirely; some parts didn’t. While we think traveling across time zones is odd, can you imagine traveling across an area only to discover that TEN DAYS was suddenly missing? In England, Sept. 2nd was followed by Sept. 14th.

Myths about daylight savings time that won’t die: we didn’t adopt DST to help farmers. We’re already on DST for 8+ months a year, so what exactly is “standard time?” The ‘extra’ hour of daylight does not make us healthier or happier; it’s physically and emotionally disruptive to many people.

I left my backward clock an hour behind. It’s a good reminder that it annoys most normal people to look at a backward clock to begin with.

Time is indeed an artificial construct. Keep that in mind as you clock in to work today. If your manager asks why you were late for work, feel free to reply, “I’m taking back my time from 1582. And where’s my pie to celebrate the day?”

Party like it’s 1582. It’s the least you can do to celebrate this Monday.

Love, X

The Constitution Is Imperfect By Its Own Admission

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This post originally appeared on a social media page. It garnered a huge amount of anger, after someone shared it on a conservative forum and asked that it be flooded with trollish commentary. The unintended consequence of that trolling resulted in a lot more readers than it ever would have received absent the trolls.

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I wrote this as a simple appeal, one devoid of the complicated and dense language employed by so many when addressing one of the most basic parts of our system of governance.

Another brilliant person vehemently argued that we have no business changing the constitution. Further, he insisted that those who wrote it knew what they were doing. It disturbs me to hear people argue that the law is a closed and perfect system. Obviously, it is not.

The process of amendment aside, I always go for the easy point by pointing out that those rich white men thought that slavery was an excellent idea, as well as failing to include half the population in the right to vote and full participation. The constitution contained several ideas which are reprehensible, undemocratic, and unworthy of continued regard. Even a bit of scrutiny demonstrates that many of the founders wrote the constitution with their own best interests in mind. Those interests were not in favor of much of the population.

Either of those two points is sufficient to derail a thinking man’s reverence for the law. The constitution saddled us with several institutions which do not achieve the objectives for which they were designed.

More importantly, of course, we have the right for self-determination. We owe no total allegiance to those who founded this country, no more than the founders did toward the Crown when they declared war on Great Britain. Circumstances change. Society advances or declines in ways never imagined by the Founders. Even if such changes had been in their minds, it’s irrelevant.

We have just as much right to alter our course now as we did then.

For all the groups deliberately ignored in the original constitution, I apologize. Most people who defend the legitimacy of the original constitution aren’t deliberately endorsing the misogyny and racism of its contents; they are focusing on the idealism allegedly behind it.

Given that the founders also included a method for amendment to our fundamental framework, it’s ridiculous to insist that we should blindly continue allegiance to the parts of our past system which don’t further our evolving values and views. Strangely enough, I’m surprised constantly by how many Americans don’t know that our constitution allows a vote of the states to reconvene another constitutional convention, one which could conceivably rewrite our entire system of governance without oversight.

We do not need to discard our entire constitution to change it. The Founders at least managed to get that part right. As circumstances change, we can alter our framework without the needless waste of revolution.

Many scholars want us to complicate the issue to the point of absurdity.

They employ distracting arguments to have us look away from our ongoing and permanent ability to determine our destiny as a nation.

If we choose to dissolve ourselves from the obligations created by an elitist group of rich white men, we have that right. We can do better. We will do better, or suffer the consequences at our own peril.

You can pontificate all you want to say otherwise. You’ve already lost the argument, however.

You don’t get to frame the issue.

We do.

By law, by necessity, by will.

A Totally Accurate History of the Accordion

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The accordion is alleged to have been invented in Berlin in the 1820s. Historians have commented how appropriate it is that the accordion would reappear in Germany and might have been one of the forgotten reasons for WWI. A few modern conspiracists believe that accordions are extraterrestrial.

Weird Al Yankovic, Lawrence Welk, Billy Joel, Dennis Deyoung, George Clooney, Tom Cruise, and Meryl Streep are among the most famous modern accordionists.

According to recent historical finds, however, we now know that the first accordion was invented during the Spanish Inquisition in the 1400s. Given that the Catholic church and the Vatican in particular recently shared some of its archive with historians, we were able to read the original “Pope’s Guide To Stuff.”

Torquemada had been the Grand Inquisitor for fifteen years. Although the boot, thumbscrew, the Judas Chair, the rack, and the water cure were effective at terrorizing heretics, Torquemada’s servant noted that the greatest agony seemed to coincide with horrendously out of tune musical devices.

Since country music didn’t exist at the time, Torquemada’s servant diligently worked to devise something even worse than what we know as country music. After two years of working in secret, the servant connected a flame bellows to an intricate series of reeds and metal plates. During his first test, it is reported that he converted 37 heretics, but also 2,527 believers; their collective agony was so great that they simply fell to the ground and confessed their guilt, if only to stop the cacophony of the very first accordion. History tells us that 12,000 cats and dogs instantly died as well.

Due to the increasing number of people falsely confessing as the result of the effectiveness of the first accordion, Pope Sixtus IV decreed that the accordion was to be destroyed. Further, anyone attempting to replicate it would be put to death.

It wasn’t until about 1700 that an Italian re-invented the idea of a piano. It took another century, until 1820, before someone devised a version of the accordion that Torquemada’s servant invented. We know that modern accordions don’t quite match the horror of the one created during the Spanish Inquisition.

The results are similar, however.

Wikipedia asserts that the accordion and banjo are close cousins of the musical instrument world – and for obvious reasons.