24 November 2011


Today is Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. The holiday is marked by celebratory gatherings of family and friends, and feasting on traditional (or not-so-traditional) dishes. The origins of Thanksgiving are somewhat mythologized, however. Thanks to my dear friend and onetime stepdaughter Geneva, I'm able to share this detailed account of what the first Thanksgiving was like, including a non-idealized description of the Puritan Pilgrims, the Wampanoug Indians, and the cultural realities of the time. It is a fascinating story, one which remains relevant.

Today is significant for several other reasons. On this date in 1859, Charles Darwin's seminal On The Origin of Species was published, introducing the scientific theory that "populations evolve over the course of generations through a process of natural selection." Darwin's insight was one of the most important ideas in human history, as compelling and original as any advanced by Isaac Newton or Albert Einstein. All good scientific theories are subject to debate and refinement, and all great theories stand the test of time. Just so with evolution.

On this day in 1963, businessman Jack Ruby shot and fatally wounded Lee Harvey Oswald, the man charged with having assassinated President John F. Kennedy two days earlier. Nearly half a century later, the reason for Kennedy's death remains enigmatic, with allegations of conspiracies involving various combinations of the FBI, the CIA, the Mafia, Fidel Castro, and even Lyndon Johnson. I've seen documentaries which provide evidence strong enough to suggest that Oswald could not possibly have been acting alone. But given the passage of time and the power of official coverup, it is unlikely that we will ever know the complete truth surrounding the tragic loss of one of our most visionary and charismatic leaders.

Finally, this is blog post number 1,111 ~ with no suggested connection to the 11:11 of numerology or any other new age mysticism. I started commenting in this forum on 29 February 2008. Since then I've published 105 entries in 2008, 362 entries in 2009, 340 entries in 2010, and 304 so far in 2011. Topics have ranged from the profound to the whimsical ~ the environment, cosmology, politics, social justice, art, the sciences, aviation, whatever resonates with my interests or tickles my fancy. Earlier this year I was topping 600 readers per day, which was thrilling and a little daunting. Visitation has trickled off a bit, particularly during the past month when I had no computer with which to publish. Time to rise again !!

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