Tag Archives: why can’t I marry George Washington though?

In which a grudge is hinted at

6 Oct

Ugh what the hell, that was supposed to post around nine AM this morning. My eternal quest to master the “Schedule Post” feature continues.

So, as you have probably noticed, I love food history. I would like to give you guys more in the way of hilarious anecdotes from history, but a lot of what I end up studying tends to involve material culture and attempts to find out how the general populace lived in a given society, rather than the oustanding few whose names we know. This means that a lot of what I’ve got tends to be more on trends and fashions, instead of the kind of delightful stories one gets from biographies. But I’ll try to work on that a bit more, because I’m sure I just need to dig a little deeper!

Anyhoo, this isn’t so much an anecdote, but it’s kind of awesome: while poking around a couple of food history sites, I came up with this: Thomas Jefferson’s recipe for vanilla ice cream, written by Jefferson himself, is over here at the Library of Congress web site! Oh Thomas Jefferson. Here is the deal with me and Thomas Jefferson, guys: you know how sometimes you meet someone, or you watch a TV show and there’s some character on it, and you can’t explain why, but you just really want to punch them a lot? That is how I get with Thomas Jefferson. I don’t even know! He did a lot of great stuff for the United States, and humanity in general, and he was a pretty interesting dude, objectively, and yet somehow I just want to get a time machine, go back to the eighteenth century, and (after I have gone on my amazing date with George Washington) punch Thomas Jefferson in the face.

Now, if you are like me and you grew up in Virginia, you spent a whole lot of time hearing about how freaking great Thomas Jefferson was, and among his many accomplishments was credit for bringing ice cream to America.* Turns out this is BS! While the earliest known recipe for ice cream in America is Jefferson’s, according to Monticello, “George Washington’s papers contain a prior reference to an ice cream maker”. IT ALL COMES BACK TO GEORGE IN THE END, MY FRIENDS. Seriously, though, the deal was that TJ was just kind of famous for serving it a lot at Monticello, and that’s the earliest known recipe in America (although there are ones in England from as early as 1718). Sorry, TJ, you are just going to have to rest on that whole Declaration of Independence thing and hope it is enough to keep me from punching you. No promises, though; that’s just not how I roll.

* In fairness, I spent a lot of time tuning out whatever my teachers were talking about, especially when we returned once more to the subject of how great Thomas Jefferson was, so maybe I am just piecing this together from hearing about how much he liked ice cream and the approximately five billion other things he is credited with bringing to America (not to be confused with the six billion things Ben Franklin invented or brought to America.

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In which I’ve got nothing.

26 Sep

I went to Small Press Expo in Rockville today! That was good times. I was going to make you a ~brilliant work of Photoshop art~ to illustrate some of the highlights of my day (wishing I had a flamethrower to use on other drivers; finding and replacing a blown fuse in my car and feeling all competent about myself for it; having someone cut in line in front of me to see Kate Beaton and then hearing that same someone complaining about all the people jumping the line; feeling really bad for Kate Beaton, who looked a bit terrified at the crowd; starting my day by getting up at four AM to take my father to the airport so he can go visit Hawaii for work), but I got up at four, so mostly I am thinking I will just kind of nap for awhile. Sorry, dudes! Have this instead.

date

I’m also sorry about the white text. Life is a series of miseries followed by the peace of the grave, my friends. At least you’re not getting stood up and having to watch your army dwindle?

In which the world is in a shocking state.

20 Sep

From News9 in Oklahoma comes the shocking — SHOCKING — report that 75% of high school students in that state can’t name the first President. Obviously this is pretty crazy-sounding, which, I have to admit, is what makes me a little skeptical. I recall some kind of similar poll from the UK a few years back, in which ridiculous answers about Celebrated Naval Hero Gandalf came up a lot. Basically, I remember when I was in high school, and how a lot of the kids I knew probably would’ve thought it was pretty hilarious to pretend they didn’t know who the first President was!

So I don’t know. On the one hand, we are constantly being told that American public schools are not great compared to the rest of the world. On the other hand, these are high school students we’re talking about, and I do not have any trouble at all believing that high school students would want to screw with people polling them. I’m thinking it’s probably a little from Column A (the SHOCKING and TERRIBLE state of our public schools!!!!!!) and a little from Column B (high schoolers being high schoolers). It might just be that rather than telling us a lot about the Tragic Ignorance Of Today’s Youth, this is merely telling us about their Heroic Dedication To Sarcasm!

This is a pretty optimistic post for me, though, I have to say! Normally I am pretty much the first person to come down on the “people are all stupid, grumble grumble” side of things. This is part of what I learned to do in my Serious Historian Training, though: don’t take things at face value. It’s easier to do this with a statistic from my own time, though; it’s a lot easier to go “hang on a second, what would the people I went to high school with ten years ago have done for the lulz” than it is to try and approach the foreign mindset of someone from even two hundred years ago.

(Side note: oh my god I started high school ten years ago. WHAT.)

Basically, polling would be a whole lot easier if having ESP were a requirement for being a pollster! Someone should get on that.

(I also refuse to believe that anyone could forget about the hotness that was George Washington. SOMEDAY I WILL GET A TIME MACHINE AND THEN, HOT YOUNG GEORGE WASHINGTON, THEN WE ARE SO GOING ON A DATE.)

In which I tl;dr crankily.

27 Aug

SO HERE IS THE DEAL: I kind of wife George Washington. If I had to marry a Founding Father I would totally marry him, because he seemed like a genuinely decent dude and when he was young he looked like Jason Isaacs and he was about as progressive as a dude who owned slaves could be (and even in that regard, the hypocrisy of championing ~liberty~ while owning other human beings weighed on him and he eventually freed them in his will, although it is still kind of dickish to wait until you and your wife are good and dead before you bother to do anything). As that ridiculous parenthetical no doubt suggests, though, I also recognize that he was not perfect, and, you know, that the dude owned other human beings. I don’t think recognizing that he was a human being and he did some shitty stuff in addition to the great stuff makes me some whackjob bent on ~slandering~ his character.

Which is just a roundabout way of saying oh, fuck off, drummer from Steppenwolf.

This is my sticking point, I guess, this notion that somehow, we all share this all-or-nothing thinking. Yes, clearly because I recognize that the people involved in my country’s history were people, and therefore capable of making stupid human mistakes and holding human prejudices and biases and grudges, I must therefore hate everything about my country ever. The unfairness of it — and that it comes from people who immediately turn around and trash a large percentage of the population as being incapable of being right about anything ever at least as much as they claim we characterize them as being incapable of being right about anything ever — is what gets me, I guess. And goodness knows I’ve met enough assholes on my own side of the political fence to understand how the frustration can go both ways, so idk, I guess I don’t really have a solution.

I guess I ultimately feel like to interpret so selectively (from either side of the fence, really, because I don’t doubt that there are tunnel-vision types amongst liberal historians, too) — to so refuse to see anything in history but what fits the narrative you want to impose on it — to impose a narrative at all, in some cases, or at least to do so religiously — is to miss half the fun of history. IDK, people are just so ridiculous and can be so awful sometimes, and then the same people can turn around and be so awesome too. Andrew Jackson was what we Serious Historical Experts refer to as a “stone fox”, but he also committed ethnic cleansing. FDR got us out of the Depression, but he also imprisoned American citizens in concentration camps. Basically everyone involved in this book seems to be doing exactly what they are accusing us of doing and trying to fit history into his own neat little narrative, and nothing irritates me like that does.

Probably I will do a second post where I go through what’s in the editorial reviews point-by-point, because all of them are making me go “um, no, no, no, I do not know a single person who believes this, or not in the context that you are presenting these facts”. Well, no, that is probably not true; I’m sure I do know people who believe some of these things, and in fact some review even points out that the title is “needlessly provocative”, but then goes on to be super-condescending about libruls and basically lose whatever credit I was giving him.

Good times!