Open Thread for Monday, October 12, 2015

Cristóbal Colón before Their Most Catholic Majesties: Hey, you got jewels -- you could hock 'em or somethin'...

Cristóbal Colón before Their Most Catholic Majesties: Hey, you got jewels — you could hock ’em or somethin’…

Today, I’m deliberately going with stories that are a little off the beaten track from the hard news I usually lean toward, “talkers” that wouldn’t normally make a front page:

  1. Should we still celebrate Columbus Day? — Of course we should mark what happened in 1492, and calling it Columbia Day is as good a designation as any. Not because he was some kind of plaster saint, and not because he was some purveyor of genocide. He was neither. But what he accomplished in kicking off the phenomenon of globalization was world-shaking. If you doubt it, I recommend you read 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created. It’s fascinating, and eye-opening. Why do people always want to make historical figures into angels or devils? They’re just people, and some of them did extraordinary things. Columbus did. Not exactly on purpose, but he did — in spite of his being very confused about geography.
  2. Confederate flag-wavers charged as street gang — Georgia seems to be having more trouble putting the flag behind it than we have. Not that we have room to be smug — I’ve seen the locals driving around with the flag waving from their pickups (which is not a slur against pickup drivers; I am one). Although not in the last few weeks…
  3. London Police Stop Watching Ecuadorean Embassy For Sign Of Assange — Nice, idea, mates — tell everyone you’ve stopped watching, so you can bag him when he pokes his head out. That is what you’re about, right?
  4. Zimbabwe drops case against lion killer — Apparently, all of the dentist’s “papers were in order.” Oh, well, in that case…
  5. How the pope ended up blessing this boy — Just a heart-warmer about what it meant to this family with a sick child that the pope stopped his car to come over and give him a blessing.

No doubt some of y’all will have some of other ideas for topics.


38 thoughts on “Open Thread for Monday, October 12, 2015

  1. Mark Stewart

    Columbus Day is not a holiday but more like Halloween and St Patrick’s Day – in particular – just without the fun attached.

    1. Brad Warthen

      If the Italian-Americans wanted to start a Columbus Day celebration in Five Points, I will go hoist a glass of red wine with them (I’m assuming green beer would be deemed inappropropriate).

    2. Bryan Caskey

      Kind of weird that it’s a federal holiday but not a state holiday. Kind of like the opposite of Confederate Memorial Day.

      By the by, how come we here in South Carolina don’t recognize Columbus day?

      1. Norm Ivey

        I think at one point some years back state employees had some choice in what holidays they took. Some chose to celebrate Confederate Memorial Day; others chose MLK Day. Columbus Day was one of the options–I think there were 6 choices altogether.

    1. Bryan Caskey

      Yeah, I just saw that. He’s a great coach, and he’s done so much for the Gamecock football team while he’s been here. He gave us some of the greatest moments in the team’s history. There’s never really a great time to leave as a head coach, and everyone who is a fan should never forget all that he did for this program.

      1. Doug Ross

        The Head Bail Coach quit rather than tarnish his record with at least four more losses including what would have been a likely career ending loss to Clemson. The recruiting has been terrible for at least four years. He stuck with his defensive coordinator too long. Both the O-line and D-line are below average. Gamecock fans should prepare themselves for some ugly seasons.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Also, I think his F-line was way too much like his Q-line. Not that there’s anything wrong with that…

          The things football fans do go on about. I have NO idea what you’re saying…

          1. Bryan Caskey

            “o-line” is short for “offensive line” “D-line” is short for “defensive line”. As an intelligent American male (living in the South, no less) you should at least be passably familiar with the general concepts and general terminology for football. You don’t have to be passionate about it, or even like it for that matter. However, you should at least be familiar with the general concepts.

            For instance: When you walk into a room where other men are watching a sporting event, it is acceptable to ask what the score is. It is not acceptable to ask who is playing. (See, Man Code 23-40-15(a)).

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              OK, I’ll accept service on that. I probably could have sussed it out, had I spent time thinking about it, which I did not choose to do.

              It sounded to me like references to the New York city subway system or something. At least THAT’S something that interests me.

              You know what I’m looking forward to? Not seeing or hearing the ridiculous-sounding sobriquet “Head Ball Coach.” It’s so generic, boring and silly. Yes, indeed — he IS the head (foot)ball coach at USC; what’s your point? But football fans go around saying it like it’s cool or something. It’s like those interviews in which coaches keep saying redundant, obvious, trite things such as “Our only plan is to move the football down the football field, yadda-yadda football…”

              1. Bob Amundson

                HBC (Head Ball Coach) was the OBC (Old Ball Coach). Now he is again the OBC. Coach Spurrier is a good coach, an even better self-marketer.

              2. Bryan Caskey

                “You know what I’m looking forward to? Not seeing or hearing the ridiculous-sounding sobriquet “Head Ball Coach.” It’s so generic, boring and silly.”

                No, not really. I look at it as a nickname that is analogous to calling the captain of a ship or a commanding officer of a unit the “Old Man”.

              3. Bryan Caskey

                It’s like those interviews in which coaches keep saying redundant, obvious, trite things such as “Our only plan is to move the football down the football field, yadda-yadda football…”

                See, the thing is, Spurrier is a great interview. He doesn’t say all the normal, trite, coach-speak kind of things. He has great knack for one-liners and comebacks that is unparalleled in college football. As a journalist alone, you should go watch some of his press conferences. He’s hilarious.

                1. Bryan Caskey

                  By way of example, a season or so ago he was asked about his age being a negative. He said, “The Pope is 77 years old and he’s in charge of a billion people. All I have to do is put 11 on the field.

                2. Brad Warthen Post author

                  Speaking of which, just to show that I try to give y’all content about stuff that interests you, I called Ron Morris to see whether he had any interest in commenting on the blog about this development.

                  He passed. He said I was the third or fourth person to call him seeking such input today.

                  He passed, and changed the subject to politics.

                  So I tried.

                  Not that Gamecock fans want to know what Ron thinks, but I did…

            2. Brad Warthen Post author

              Just now, three women in the office were having this detailed, animated, well-informed (I think) discussion about the Spurrier departure, and naming all these possible replacements, and hashing out the latest scuttebutt from the web….

              I cut in to say, “Y’all sound more like regular guys than I do.”

              A moment later, I found several copies of “Southern Living” in a stack on the giveaway counter in the office kitchen. I wanted to ask if it was OK to take one home, but I didn’t want to interrupt the ladies’ guy talk again…

              For my WIFE, people! I wanted to take it home to my WIFE!

              Hey, guys, speaking of magazines, let’s talk about ‘Playboy,’ huh? How about it…

    2. Norm Ivey

      I hate to see him go. He’s done a lot for the program. However, better now than later. Gives USC first jump on any top-tier coaches that may come available during the season.

  2. Burl Burlingame

    I wouldn’t mind if the holiday were changed to Explorers Day or Discoverers Day, to commemorate the spirit of seeking knowledge.

  3. Mark Stewart

    It is also known as please resign so we don’t have to fire you… I imagine that “retiring” triggers a bunch of contract provisions that are beneficial to both sides.

    Between Spurrier riding the situation back down the mountain before retiring and Chip Kelly bailing on the Ducks just before they reached the pinnacle, I would take the coach who gave it his all any day.

    1. Doug Ross

      I don’t mind him announcing his retirement but to not finish out the season is a poor decision. Does he want his players to quit in the middle of a game they are losing?

      1. Mark Stewart

        It’s not the same. Going now opens up the future. A lame duck would absolutely kill recruiting; better to have a new plan than no plan at all.

        1. Doug Ross

          ” Going now opens up the future. ”

          What future? USC is at least two excellent recruiting classes away from being relevant again. Pharoah Cooper will be gone, the QB situation is a mess. Jim Harbaugh went to Michigan and turned them around faster than anyone expected this year. Is there another Harbaugh out there willing to come to Columbia? USC will be in “hope we can win 6 games and make the CARQUEST Bowl” mode for awhile.

            1. Doug Ross

              Who? Harbaugh? Harbaugh had ties to Michigan. He played there. He was a very successful NFL coach. Who are we going to get? Stephen Garcia? Todd Ellis? George Rogers?

              I’m not negative. I’m a realist. The quality of talent on the field is on the lower end of the SEC and has been now for two years. You can’t just rebuild in college football. If you aren’t getting the 5 star recruits, you’re destined to mediocrity or worse. Which of the three QB’s we’ve seen this year look like a player who can lead a team to an SEC title?

              1. Bryan Caskey

                No one is saying it’s going to happen overnight. You seem to be arguing against a point that no one is making.

                1. Doug Ross

                  There appears to be some belief that Spurrier quitting now will open the door to better candidates and better recruiting. How can that be? Recruits won’t pay attention until a new coach is named. And a new coach won’t be named until after the season, right? So what benefit does USC from Spurrier quitting? Do they think they’re going to get some hot current coach to also quit midseason?

                  The timing is poor. The message it sends is a bad one from Spurrier: “I know we’re lousy and I don’t want to hang around to see it end badly”. He should have waited a month before announcing it and then coached the final Clemson game.

                  1. Bob Amundson

                    Patience, Doug. You are right, there are most likely no rainmakers like Harbaugh to immediately turn around the program (although several big names, including Chip Kelly and Mark Dantonio, have surfaced) . Clemson hired an interim coach mid-season internally, then hired Dabo as head coach, who then, much to the distress of Clemson fans, lost five in a row to rival U of SC. Now Clemson has a very strong, top 10 program. The same happened at the University of Utah, who hired Kyle Whittingham after Urban Meyer left. The Utes struggled the first couple of years in the PAC-12, but last year was a good year. This year is even better.

                    Hiring talent internally, especially if the coach has a strong connection to the school (Shawn Elliot is from Camden), can work if the fans and school administration are patient. I must admit, however, I don’t see U of SC fans being patient.

                    1. Lynn Teague

                      USC fans have been nothing but patient for most seasons since long before I was born. I am especially patient, because I don’t care at all, but even those who do have made the state motto (While I breathe I hope) real for the state’s flagship university.

                    2. Bob Amundson

                      I guess it is the 10% or so that are the most vocal. I heard many wanting baseball coach Chad Holbrook’s head after last season, and many have even complained about basketball coach Frank Martin not turning the program around quick enough. I’ll remember to listen to reasonable people like you, Lynn, more often.

  4. Brad Warthen Post author

    By the way, the item I linked to above in the main post — “Five myths about Christopher Columbus” — is, I suppose, mildly informative to people who basically know next to nothing about Columbus.

    But one of the “myths” it “busts” is ridiculous — it’s the “myth” that “Columbus was Italian.” The basis for calling that a “myth” is the alleged fact that “Italy did not exist until 1861.”

    Really? That would be an enormous shock to the Romans! If Caesar wasn’t entering Italia when brought his legion across the Rubicon, then why was it significant?

    Yes, we know — Italy was not a single, unified nation until the 19th century. Garibaldi and all that.

    But Italy was, you know, a thing.

    Saying the Genoan Columbus wasn’t Italian is like saying Juan Perón wasn’t South American…

    1. Rose

      I think it’s important to have a well-rounded education on history. Generations of American children just learned the hero worship version of Columbus, not the fuller picture of the man and the impact his journey had that is described in the article you linked to. Things don’t happen in a vacuum. Good and great people can do horrible things, and horrible people can do good and great things.

  5. Norm Ivey

    David Brooks has an interesting column in the NYT today that follows up on the discussion we had on last Thursday’s Open Thread. I especially like this:

    This anti-political political ethos produced elected leaders of jaw-dropping incompetence. Running a government is a craft, like carpentry. But the new Republican officials did not believe in government and so did not respect its traditions, its disciplines and its craftsmanship. They do not accept the hierarchical structures of authority inherent in political activity.

    He concludes with this:
    These insurgents are incompetent at governing and unwilling to be governed. But they are not a spontaneous growth. It took a thousand small betrayals of conservatism to get to the dysfunction we see all around.

    As long as the establishment wing of the Republicans allows the Freedom Caucus to drive the Republican agenda, they will continue to flounder as the governing party. If it weren’t for gerrymandered districts, they would find themselves on the brink if irrelevance.

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