(Part one of two)
When Abigail Adams died in late October, 1818, her husband, John, brokenhearted, said, “I wish I could lie down beside her and die, too.”
Today, the two are entombed side by side, along with their son John Quincy and his wife, Louisa Catherine, in a well-lit, whitewashed crypt beneath the United First Parish Church in Quincy, Mass. I’ve come here to pay my respects to the former presidents and first ladies, but mostly I’m here to say thanks to John, and to remember him because he worried he’d be forgotten.
Concerning this morning’s New York Times article on CERN’s Higgs boson announcement:
The newly discovered particle may be the Higgs boson. It looks for all the world like the Higgs boson. It is for sure a “Higgs-like” particle. Its discovery is an historic “milestone.” It may be one of the biggest observations since the discovery of the quark. Or maybe not. The director general of CERN says he will “stick his neck out” and say that this is a “discovery.” Of something very very important. Maybe. Possibly. Time may tell. Continue reading
by JS O’Brien
Doubtless, the title of this piece made you think I was about to launch into a blame-America-first jeremiad on this July 4. Not the case. This is about pride; what it is and why it makes sense, or doesn’t make sense, to have it.
I grew up around adults who had a regional greeting when they shook hands: “Proud to meet ya!” I thought that was strange at the time, and I still do. Why would anyone be “proud” to meet someone? I suppose, theoretically, if you’d accomplished something really spectacular that got you into a meeting with someone powerful and famous, you could transfer your pride in accomplishment to that meeting, but that’s a bit roundabout, eh? More likely, it’s one of the manifestations — along with the phrase, “Proud to be an American” — of sloppy thinking and misplaced values that are an un-American as terrier pie. Continue reading
I am waiting to see if—no, make it how—the Tea party and other way-right-leaning Republicans react to this week’s barely-qualifies-as-news that TV journalist/personality Anderson Cooper admitted he is gay. (Details here)
Another story from this week also has me worried about the backlash, but first, Cooper:
I have no idea how much courage it takes for a public figure like Cooper to come out. Nor do I have any idea about the extent and tone of the flak that will be fired at him and how he’ll deal with it. Continue reading
Everyone knows that America is named after Amerigo Vespucci, the Italian explorer who someone, apparently erroneously, thought discovered America. So, where did this story come from? Well, if you wander through the stifling heat over to the Library of Congress, you can see the map that contains the first usage of “America.” It’s a map from 1507, created by German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller. It’s one of the most famous maps in history. Angela Merkel presented it to the United States in 2007, and you can go see it right now, if so inclined. But this map, of which the Library of Congress one is the sole surviving copy, was not alone—Waldseemüller made some other maps to accompany this one. And one has just turned up.