All posts tagged: history

History is a Teacher

Why do we care about history? Writer and philosopher George Santayana famously said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”  Mark Twain took a more humorous approach with, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”  Over the weekend, I saw a bumper sticker that read “Every time history repeats itself, the price goes up.”  Yale historian Joanne B. Freeman—co-host of the history podcast BackStory and author of The Field of Blood:  Violence in Congress and the Road to Civil War—says simply that “History doesn’t repeat, but it teaches.” My executive assistant (a former Capitol guide) recommended The Field of Blood, and for the past week or more I have been absorbed in the riveting tales of mortal threats, canings, flipped desks, and all-out slugfests…and that’s just on the floor of Congress! During the turbulent and violent three decades leading up to the Civil War, bowie knives and pistols were regularly drawn on members by other members.  Duels happened with alarming frequency, including one that led to the death of one …

The America Bowl: Presidents vs. the Super Bowls

The America Bowl pulls together all of my favorite ways of wasting time. So says Don Steinberg, creator of the online America Bowl showdown between the U.S. Presidents and the Super Bowls.   I read about Steinberg’s web site in a recent issue of The New Yorker and had to check it out. This all began as Steinberg was thinking about Barack Obama, the nation’s 44th president, and he wondered about the connections with other famous 44s – like Hank Aaron who wore the number for the Atlanta Braves. Steinberg soon realized there was a football echo, too – that the 2010 Super Bowl…would be the forty-fourth, or, rather, the XLIVth.  This alignment, like the Rapture, will happen only once. So a web site – complete with logo featuring a pony-tailed George Washington going head-to-head with a football helmet – was born over Thanksgiving.  The idea is to pit each President against his corresponding Super Bowl.  Presidents are judged on their accomplishments; Super Bowls on their competitiveness. If you remember anything about the founding fathers and …

Searching the Internet and Finding…The Edge of the American West

In yet another of my posts on very interesting web sites found while searching the Internet, I bring you today The Edge of the American West.  This is a site that contains writings by historians and philosophers, leading the site to suggest that “History is Philosophy teaching by examples. ” The interests of these men and women run the gamut, if recent posts are any example.  They do a regular This Day in History type of post, one of the most recent being about the day that Richard Nixon declared he wasn’t a crook.  To give  you a sense of the politics here, the post is entitled “Yes You Are.  And Also a Liar.”   There are posts on camel metaphors (having to do with choosing cabinet members), and the day in 1972 when the Dow Jones Industrial Average first closed above 1,000.  (We may be headed back there!) But I knew this was a website worth checking when I read Aw, that could have been MY head.  Here the writer tells the story of how he …