Thanksgiving’s History: A Short Review

Consistent with Thanksgiving's history, this year, 2020, hasn't been one to rave about. Thanksgiving is about remembering that things could be worse and that we should be thankful that we are here. This year, we've survived  a contested national election, an epidemic,...

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Puns and Putdowns in Comedy History

Visual comedy, because it lacked language, couldn’t be personally nasty or insulting.  Astonishing and surprising stunts simply made people laugh.  As a result, when stunts and rough-house weren’t funny, nobody felt insulted. The use of language brought puns and put-downs.

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Comedians of the Past

The comedians of the past began their careers before live audiences. Many were versatile and often could sing and dance as well as tell jokes and stories. Sometime they played musical instruments. They connected to people: their personal characters were on display and didn’t change.  Audiences felt they knew these people, as if they were neighbors or relatives.

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Technology Changes How We Live

Who needs fancy pens when nobody writes letters?  The old companies- Parker, Waterman, Cross- don’t exist any longer. Their brand names now belong to foreign firms that manufacture mostly in China. We communicate through smart phones and the internet.

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Communication and Dictatorship

The old dictatorships could manipulate radio, movie and print communication.  If they didn’t like a newspaper, they sent thugs to destroy the printing presses.  They could forcibly take over radio stations and stop the showing of movies they didn’t like. When everyone is a communicator, the dictator has a harder time monopolizing thought and communication.

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Pirates and Law and the Development of Chocolate

During the Golden Age of Piracy (the early eighteenth century) royal governors treated pirates as criminals, even though no established law of the seas existed. Pirates operated outside the law, and brought prosperity, and even chocolate.

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Letters and Understanding

My latest book, Washington’s Shadow, is based on the personal correspondence of Leven Powell with his family and about his work for George Washington . It’s a story of Powell’s children and the first wave of western expansion.  Washington’s presence permeates their decisions. 

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Blackbeard and the Use of Power

Under the rules that existed in his time, Blackbeard sometimes operate legally with a royal pardon, and sometimes without the pardon. However, Blackbeard’s power and popularity rested on his position as a sea captain and commander of a large fleet, regardless of legalities.

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