Phil Harding’s DNA

Things are rarely exactly as they seem.  I remember watching just a few years ago the hugely popular archeology show from British TV, called “Time Team.”  I specially recall Phil Harding, the colorful field archeologist with the big hat, when he was getting his DNA tested. With the analysis complete, Phil was told he had been descended from the original hunter-gatherer-fishers who came to Britain thousands of years ago.  “I knew it, I knew it!” I can still hear him exclaim with much glee.  I guess it was a validation for Continue reading “Phil Harding’s DNA”

Into the Deep South

I am going to take a short break from the series I began only a few days ago, because I was struck this past week by the death of Harper Lee, the author of To Kill A Mockingbird, one of America’s great books. Lee’s story about race remains one of the most banned or opposed books in American libraries.  I don’t know when I first read it, but I do recall that though the novel held my attention, I somehow did not adequately grasp its message.  As a white Canadian from a white town, I had little personal comprehension of the hateful prejudice that Lee’s book was addressing.  When I made a Continue reading “Into the Deep South”

Before Scotland and Lord of the Rings

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When I was a member of the curriculum committee at the high school where I taught history, it was suggested to me that ancient history should be dropped from the program or reserved as an elective for the final year, and the reason given was that the younger grades could not relate to the “very old stuff.”  I shared with the committee my observation that the kids were very keen on the very old stuff, more so than the history of much later eras.  There was a mystery to the subject that they were drawn to and Continue reading “Before Scotland and Lord of the Rings”

A few questions about the blog

A couple of questions will be answered in today’s blog, namely (1) “Does the logo have a special or hidden meaning?” (Yes, but hidden in plain view), and (2) “Since Washington was a Freemason and Jefferson an avowed atheist, what was the view of John Adams on religion?” (Earnest but free).

The logo is a set of bookends, but the books are at the ends rather than the usual middle, and in the middle is a clock.  This picture is of a spot in my living room and it was meant Continue reading “A few questions about the blog”

The feminism of Abigail

I have a bad toothache.  I’ve already been to the dentist but the x-rays don’t clearly indicate the problem.  We are not sure which tooth has to be treated.  I have to call her back tomorrow and I don’t want the wrong tooth to come out.  In the previous blog, John Adams said we should “Know ourselves,” but I don’t even know my teeth.  Maybe some distraction will help, so I get back to reading McCullough’s Pulitzer Prize book.

The year is 1806, and a friend of John and Abigail Adams publishes a scholarly volume analyzing the recent American Revolution.  The author’s name is Mercy Otis Warren, a Continue reading “The feminism of Abigail”

John Adams and mental health

Why are some people able to face life with all its storms and woes, and then go on to some degree of happiness and achievement, while others never seem to pick themselves up or be able to avoid a tragic personal slide into failure?  John Adams, in the Pulitzer Prize presidential biography by David McCullough on which the HBO Films miniseries was based, dealt with that question and came up with his own answers, partly from the world he lived in and partly from his own insights. Continue reading “John Adams and mental health”