Amoeblog

Happy Discovery Day -- Real Geographic Discoveries of the Modern Age

Posted by Eric Brightwell, October 13, 2014 04:42pm | Post a Comment
Portrait of Columbus

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. 



(In which Job honors his Mother.)

Posted by Job O Brother, May 10, 2010 12:27pm | Post a Comment
 

victorian woman
An actual picture of my Mother (not pictured here).

In honor of this week’s Mother’s Day, I’m dedicating this entry to my Mammy. 

I remember Mom liked the house kept quiet so she could concentrate on reading her scripts. It also allowed her to track the progress of the housekeepers; she could hear if they were spending their time talking, how much time they spent scouring the living room tile, etc. It was kind of intense, but not as bad as when she stopped getting decent movie roles and her alcoholism worsened. That’s when she started beating me with coat hangers and…

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(In which we celebrate the Arts of Antarctica.)

Posted by Job O Brother, January 17, 2010 01:51pm | Post a Comment
cook portrait
"Hurry up and take the damn picture!" - Captain James Cook

It was today, in 1773, that Captain James “how ironic that he can’t” Cook made history when he and his crew, aboard the HMS Resolution, became the first people in our known history to cross the Antarctic Circle.

To commemorate the occasion, I thought it might be fun to focus on Antarctica, specifically, its music scene and film industry.

Downtown Antarctica
Downtown district

Unfortunately, aside from a few morally questionable home videos of research scientists playing a drinking game that involves Jell-O, some oil, assorted breasts and a few confused penguins, there isn’t really much in the way of Antarctic films.

Nor is there a strong music scene, beyond these same research scientists occasionally picking up a guitar and annoying their fellow bunk-mates with clumsy renditions of “Blackbird” or “The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill.”

Well, no matter. This is a big, big world with so much variety, and we need only to travel north from the great ice continent to discover other interesting music and films.

skyscrapers
Ross Ice Shelf

Chicago has often been called the “Antarctic Circle of Illinois”* and when you visit this bustling metropolis, with its snow-capped hot dog stands and high-rise igloos**, it’s easy to see why.