I will not make the argument that Columbus's arrival in the New World was insignificant merely because he was an absolutely awful person or because he didn't actually discover anything (which he himself maintained, claiming until his death that he'd merely found a different route to Asia). But think about this before you dismiss -- before Columbus, avocado, bell peppers, blueberries, cashews, cassava root, chili peppers, chocolate, cocaine, gourds, maize, peanuts, pecans pineapples, pumpkins, squash, tobacco, tomatoes, and vanilla were all unknown in the Old World and alcohol, apples, bananas, barley, cheese, coffee, mango, onions, rice, tea, and turnips, and wheat were unknown in the Americas. Imagine an existence without any of those and you can hopefully begin to get a taste of the importance of the Columbian Exchange. Imagine Italian cuisine without tomato sauce or gnocchi and you can't help but wonder if this is why Columbus is so dear to many Italians. Imagine, on the other hand, genocide, slavery, and old world diseases and you'll understand why he's even more hated by many others.
(Image source -- Tikiyaki)
It's Iced Tea Day again! When people grouse about so-called "Hallmark holidays," Iced Tea Day is rarely if ever mentioned and I've never seen an Iced Tea Day card... maybe we can do something about that.
According to the Tea Association of the USA, Americans consume 85% of their tea iced. Tea was first consumed on ice in the 1860s, when it was regarded by some as a curious fad. By the 1870s it appeared in cookbooks including Estelle Woods Wilcox's Buckeye Cookbook (1876) and Marion Cabell Tyree's Old Virginia (1877). According to Wikipedia, "Its popularity rapidly increased after Richard Blechynden introduced it at the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis." I began drinking it -- either hot or iced depending on the weather and my whims -- when I was about eight -- both for its taste and because I hoped to stunt my growth a bit (and thus hopefully not stand out so much).
Income taxes -- they're no fun -- especially when you're poor.
There are few escapes from them, too. Most of the few countries which don't have them are located in Arabia, where massive corporate taxes on even more massive oil revenue make them unnecessary. In the US, on the other hand, corporate income taxes only account for about 9% of federal government receipts (we may have the highest nominal corporate tax rate in the world but the effective corporate tax rate is much lower) whereas individual income taxes account for about 41%. That might, at first glance, seem high but our individual income taxes are actually low compared to those of most countries. In the developed world, only Chileans, Mexicans, and Turks contribute less to their countries' GDPs... or something (my mind glazed over for a second).
Enough about percentages and Arabia -- what if you want to stay in America but still avoid taxes. You could always go Unabomber or embark upon a black market career... as Big Daddy Kane told us, "pushers don't pay taxes." But Jesus wouldn't approve of either of those options. The Messiah made his opinions on taxes known in the Gospel of Matthew, and even got a little testy:
Amoeba is offering new versions of our iconic T-shirts for a limited time. All shirts are available in-store only, so get your butt to your local Amoeba store for some killer new tees.
At Amoeba Hollywood, look out for our new super soft, limited edition logo shirts in blue, green, red, gray and black. The T-shirts are available for $12.98. I gotta get that black-on-black shirt.
Amoeba San Francisco has available both holiday shirts for $12.99 and tie-dye shirts for $19.98.
If you’re like me, most Christmas music makes you want to stab yourself in the eyeball with a sharpened candy cane. Luckily, since everyone and their mother has attempted a holiday album (I mean, most of them are X-mas-centric), there are some gems in the mix.
The Beach Boys’ Christmas Album/Christmas With the Beach Boys
The Beach Boys and Christmas music go together like Christmas and getting drunk. It’s an obvious choice, sure, but this album also wins because of the originals, which they put just as much effort into as their regular classics. “The Man With All the Toys” kicks enough ass to be listened to all year round.
Some would say the greatest Christmas album of all time, featuring classic productions by Phil Spector, with The Crystals, The Ronettes, Darlene Love and other Spector favorites. Every other version of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” sucks compared to this one.