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Friday, October 25, 2019

Who owns this country anyway?

Slave shipping manifest--one of many

"In the 1700s, China was the largest economy in the world. However, it was overtaken in the 1800s,  first by England, then the United States."*

And the reason for our gain, say some economic historians, is that our slave-based economy rose on the backs of those black men, women and children brought here against their will. Their value contribution was more than all the railroads and factories in America at that time.

Of the 12 million slaves hijacked and shipped to America, 1.5 million died in route due to the harsh and often inhuman transit conditions and treatment. Once here, they were used to work on the tobacco and rice plantations as well as harvest cotton and other labor intensive needs. By 1750, almost 25 percent of the population in the colonies were slaves. They were bought, sold and traded as chattel (a personal possession, an item of property other that real estate).

"All men are created equal... " 
is part of The Declaration of Independence penned by Thomas Jefferson in 1776. It has been called "an immortal declaration" and "perhaps the greatest single phrase of the American Revolution period... with the greatest continuing importance." Ben Franklin.

While slavery is officially over, the Confederate flag and what it stands for still flies high is some places.

It is puzzling and problematic that some Americans seem to pick and choose which parts of the Declaration of Independence and The Constitution of the United States of American  and its amendments we choose to hold holy, as if adherence is optional to our personal agenda.

Yea! We're number 1... or are we?

Isn't it ironic that we stole our land from the American Indians, its rightful owners, then hijacked the slaves that boosted our economy to the top of the wold. We, the immigrants, did that, even though we did actually buy Manhattan for $24 worth of trinkets.

Then we fought one another in the American Civil War over slavery and other issues... and we killed 620,000 of us, an awful number. But in perspective, that number represents less than 20 percent of the slaves we stole.

Now I'm going to play a little trick by reminding you that Disney World's "It's a small world" has it right. Try not to hum that for the rest of your day, but truly believe the message: we are ALL in this together to win as one... or lose divided.

*Much of this information thanks to Slavery's Capitalism, by Sven Beckert and Seth Rockman and


Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Is someone with a No.2 pencil smile happier than someone with a No. 4 pencil smile. Most certainly yes... a No. 4 pencil is harder.

... And that's a fact! But both pencil smiles will help you "get it."

There is 'biting' scientific research that says if you are looking at *Gary Larson's The Far Side cartoons with a pencil between your teeth forcing a smile, you will naturally smile more at the same cartoon than the control group that doesn't have a pencil between their teeth. So. Yes, biting--as with a pencil between your teeth--WILL naturally compel you to really smile more naturally and enjoy what makes you smile better than those who smile randomly, so say the statistical nerds.

This scientific finding for many years has come under question lately when the results could not be duplicated, but even then, few have debunked the concept that a smile is still magic to a better, less hateful world.  And if it takes a pencil to make a smile, so be it.

But really, all of us know there are some in the world who do not smile, or joke or laugh often or never. That begs the question: How do they get by in today's world when even the ridiculous sometimes just has to be laughable. And follow-up question: How difficult is it to get along with them. (Listening Mr. President?)

*And now, the big reveal... and the reason I actually wrote this blog: Rumor has it, THE FAR SIDE cartoon by Gary Larson is coming back! There is none funnier.

After 20 years, The Far Side returns... we hope. Take that Rip Van Winkle

Side note: My California sister and I were driving through San Francisco's Golden Gate Park years ago and noticed a large number of cars in the de Young Museum parking lot. Curious on what was on display, we saw it was a showing of Gary Larson's The Far Side cartoons, so we stopped, of course. As we walked through the display of hundreds of his cartoons, we would hear a laughter from the other side of the room... then from behind us... then to our right and then to our left. In fact, the room was filled with continued laughter scattered here and there as a cartoon had struck a viewer funny. 

It was the most amazing thing of this scale that I had ever witnessed and a happy time was shared by all. Hundreds of laughs from the viewers filling the somber museum space with laughs and smiles from those listening as we laughed too, dozens of times. Yes, for those unfamiliar, The Far Side IS that funny. Google it now for a non-pencil smile... or put a pencil between your teeth and enjoy it even more. The the only question you might have is, "Are they laughing with you... or at you?"