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Daily Archives: April 17, 2009

Brown University and Columbus Day . . .

Today I learned that the faculty of Brown University, thatĀ  prestigious Ivy League university which sits atop College Hill overlooking the city of Providence, Rhode Island—yes, that university—has capitulated under pressure from some of its students—the “learned” members of the faculty have “killed” Columbus Day.

From FOX NEWS: Wednesday, April 09, 2009

“Fall Weekend” will be taking the place of the holiday formerly known as “Columbus Day” at Brown University this fall.

The faculty of the Ivy League university voted at a meeting Tuesday to establish a new academic and administrative holiday in October called “Fall Weekend” that coincides with Columbus Day, but that doesn’t bear the name of the explorer.

Hundreds of Brown students had asked the Providence, R.I. school to stop observing Columbus Day, saying Christopher Columbus’s violent treatment of Native Americans he encountered was inconsistent with Brown’s values.

“I’m very pleased,” Reiko Koyama, a sophomore who led the effort, told the student newspaper, the Brown Daily Herald. “It’s been a long time coming.”

The change will take effect this fall.

Although the students had asked the school to take another day off instead, Brown will remain closed on Columbus Day, in part to avoid inconveniencing staff whose children might have the holiday off, the Daily Herald reported.

Many other colleges are open on Columbus Day but give students short breaks later in the semester.

Last month a Brown Daily Herald poll found two-thirds of the students supported changing the holiday’s name to Fall Weekend, the newspaper reported.

MY THOUGHTS ON BROWN UNIVERSITY’S ACTION:

I have a serious problem with the faculty buckling under to the students’ request. No, more than serious, I have some major heartburn, and as a result I have taken steps to revise my will.

I have directed my attorney to immediately prepare a revised will for my signature. Instead of Brown University profiting by my demise when I have “shuffled off this mortal coil,” the bulk of my assets will now, instead of going to Brown University to bolster its efforts to achieve PPC (Perfect Political Correctness) it will, following my departure, go to a far more worthy cause—it will go to NATBUF (National Association To Benefit Unwed Fathers), with the how-and-when to use those assets to be determined by the “learned” members of the NATBUF faculty. At this point I direct attention to the name of my blog (thekingoftexas), and stress that unless my fortunes take a turn for the worse, my final assets will not be unsubstantial (particularly when one considers the generous federal government stimulus payments enroute to my state).

As everyone knows, the expression “shuffled off this mortal coil” is borrowed from Shakespeare’s works, and now I must borrow another of his expressions: “That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.” To apply this to the actions of Brown University’s faculty members, this coming October 14 will still be a holiday for the school although the students “. . . had asked the school to take another day off.” However, the faculty refused the request—the school will be closed, ostensibly “. . . to avoid inconveniencing staff whose children might have the holiday off.”

Kudos to Brown University’s faculty members! Columbus Day will continue to be observed at Brown, but will simply be observed under a different name. The result is the same—students who wish to use the day for remembering, contemplating and honoring the achievements of Christopher Columbus can do so without restraint or criticism, and the day off “will smell as sweet” as Shakespeare’s rose.

In view of the faculty’s decision to deny the students’ request to choose a day off other than the second Monday in October, I will consider reversing the revision to my will. I’ll mull it over and get back to you with more details. The revision will definitely not be reversed if Brown University is closed on the second Monday in October this year—Columbus Day.

 
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Columbus knew the world was round . . .

Columbus was a sailor, and any experienced sailor of his time (at least one with a modicum of reasoning ability), would have known that the world was round. The human eye can perceive an object—the complete object—at a maximum distance of 12 miles, on land as well as on water. Beyond that point the object, whether coming or going, begins to appear (or disappear) as it follows the curvature of the earth. If the earth were flat, a lookout in the crow’s nest would see an approaching vessel in its entirety at first sight—a very tiny object, of course, but a vessel complete with its tall masts under full sail, and the vessel would increase in size as it drew nearer to the viewer.

Conversely with a round earth, the lookout would first see the tip of the tallest mast, and more of the masts and sails would be discerned as the vessel drew nearer (or drew nigh, as some would say), and finally would be seen as a whole sailing ship, complete from topmast to the waterline and from bow to stern.

Obviously the earth is not flat—it is round. We know that—we routinely sail, fly and walk around it, and Columbus knew it in 1492. We know that as he plotted his course he severely underestimated the circumference (as in round) of the earth in his efforts to prove that a ship could reach East-Asia (the Indies) by sailing west. If true, the tripĀ  could be completed in far less time than required by the current method of traveling eastward through Arabia on the overland trade route, and the new route would allow Spain to participate in the lucrative spice trade.

That underestimation landed him in the Bahamas Archipelago in North America, on an island he named San Salvador. Believing the island to be the East-Asian mainland (the Indies), he named its inhabitants “Indios.”

None of this in any way diminishes Columbus’ accomplishments. He discovered the New World, and proved that a vessel could go east by sailing west, thus improving Spain’s commercial trade efforts. He successfully made the round-trip across the Atlantic in vessels which may have been state-of-the-art at that time, but in which few modern sailors would choose to make the journey.

We know that Columbus began his journey with four ships—the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria, but only three completed the voyage (it’s not well known, but one sailed over the edge!)

Just kidding! However, I believe he may have begun the voyage with four ships, but one had some serious problems and returned to port.

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2009 in Uncategorized

 

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