Problematic Peacocks and Other Elizabethan Era Warnings

Perhaps the reason the Virgin Queen decided to remain so is to avoid the humiliation of having one of her upstart subjects oil paint a picture of her swaddling cat in her arms…. Maybe someday there will be superstitions that arise from the era when Queen Kate and King William reign, but it is unlikely…

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Feats of Greatness, Feet of Clay: Authors, Flaws, and the People Behind the Stories

(Orson Scott Card poses at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, in 2008. Wikimedia Commons/ Nihonjoe) “Just because someone’s a member of an ethnic minority doesn’t mean they’re not a nasty small-minded little jerk.” ~ Terry Pratchett, from Feet of Clay  There is a reason I frequently shy away from reading biographies:  people suck.  Even the best people suck.…

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Ten Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know About the Fourth of July

There are lots of things we expect on the Fourth:  fireworks, friends, family. There are things we love (sparklers, Roman candles, cold beer) and things we despise (sauerkraut, ambrosia, Lee Greenwood… all right, haters… this was from a friend. Direct all your spittle-filled anger elsewhere). Here are a few unexpected things about the Fourth you…

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After the Dash: Last Words of the Politically and Historically Infamous

The thing that is so fascinating about a person’s final words is, of course, that the person rarely knows those  utterances will be his or her last. One of my favorite poems is W.S. Merwin‘s “For the Anniversary of My Death”: Every year without knowing it I have passed the day When the last fires…

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What are Prop 8 and DOMA and Why Do They Matter?

This week, as the Supreme Court released its rulings on a variety of different issues, supporters of same-sex marriage were particularly anxious to hear an important piece of news: the Court’s ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California’s Proposition 8. What is the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)? The Defense of Marriage…

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