Congratulations on another successful trip around the sun: Why do we celebrate birthdays?

As we get ever closer to the guillotine of 30 hanging over our youth ready to drop and condemn us entirely to adulthood and “maturity,” the question arose – where do our birthday celebrations come from? Like many of our celebrations, birthdays originated from pagan roots. Early Christians did not celebrate birthdays and Jewish tradition measured birthdays for milestones, but did not celebrate birthdays themselves … Continue reading Congratulations on another successful trip around the sun: Why do we celebrate birthdays?

A very happy birthday to… Bugs Bunny!

On July 27th, it will have been 80 years since Bugs first appeared in movie theaters. The character’s longevity is remarkable. A 2018 YouGov poll found that Bugs Bunny was the most popular cartoon in the United States, nearly three generations after his first appearance. The origins of Bugs Bunny are complicated. A similar prototypical version of the character first appeared in the 1938 cartoon … Continue reading A very happy birthday to… Bugs Bunny!

J. Edgar Hoover: Defender of civil liberties?

Practically no one with a passing knowledge of J. Edgar Hoover would identify the late FBI director with civil liberty protection. Under his decades-long tenure, the FBI routinely violated the law and the Constitution. The Bureau has spent nearly fifty years trying to reinvigorate its reputation and disassociate itself from the dark days of Hoover. Your typical civil libertarian will probably state that, the greater … Continue reading J. Edgar Hoover: Defender of civil liberties?

President for one day: The David Atchison administration

As of July 11, 2020, there have officially been 45 U.S. presidents. Theories abound regarding the power held by figures such as Dick Cheney or Edith Wilson, but the official tally stands. Should it? The presidential line of succession is an important mechanism to ensure that, at any point in time, someone occupies the office. In 1849, the president pro tempore was third in that … Continue reading President for one day: The David Atchison administration

Welcome to Hell, Biagio da Cesena: Michelangelo’s spiteful addition to ‘The Last Judgment’

As most are aware, Michelangelo’s famous renderings on the Sistine Chapel, “The Last Judgment,” were highly controversial among Italian clergy for their depiction of nudity. Few were more aghast at Michelangelo’s sacrilege than Biagio da Cesena. The conservative Papal Master of Ceremonies expressed his distaste for Michelangelo’s work by stating that, due to the fresco depicting “all those nude figures, exposing themselves so shamefully,” it … Continue reading Welcome to Hell, Biagio da Cesena: Michelangelo’s spiteful addition to ‘The Last Judgment’

Independence Day: The origin of fireworks and the 4th of July

According to Ron Swanson, “history began on July 4, 1776” when a small colony declared its independence from its motherland – one of the most powerful countries in the world, at the time. Now the United States celebrates its independence every 4th of July with fireworks, barbecues, and parties. However, when did we start using fireworks to celebrate our independence? Around 200 B.C. fireworks were … Continue reading Independence Day: The origin of fireworks and the 4th of July

What could have been: When the Soviet Union tried to join NATO

As preposterous as the headline sounds, it is in fact true. After Stalin’s death in 1953, his successor, Khrushchev, proposed that the Soviet Union join NATO. At that point, the Warsaw Pact had not been formed and NATO was increasing its membership. Soviet leadership, of course, realized that the proposal would not be warmly received by NATO members. The main purpose of the proposal was … Continue reading What could have been: When the Soviet Union tried to join NATO

A mark of distinction: The earliest gospel revealed (or so we think)

Adherents to Christianity hold the four gospels of Jesus—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—in high esteem for their accounts of the life and teachings of Jesus. While many different compilations concerning Jesus were once in circulation among Christians, the Council of Nicaea in the fourth century narrowed the official canon to the aforementioned four gospels. We have a surprisingly strong basis for determining the chronology of … Continue reading A mark of distinction: The earliest gospel revealed (or so we think)