Happy birthday Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln!

February 12, 2020

Is it an unprecedented coincidence?  211 years ago today, just minutes (probably hours) apart according to unconfirmed accounts, Abraham Lincoln was born in a rude log cabin on Nolin Creek, in Kentucky, and Charles Darwin was born into a wealthy family at his family’s home  in Shrewsbury, England.

Gutzon Borglum’s 1908 bust of Abraham Lincoln in the Crypt of the U.S. Capitol – Architect of the Capitol photo

Lincoln would become one of our most endeared presidents, though endearment would come after his assassination.  Lincoln’s bust rides the crest of Mt. Rushmore (next to two slaveholders), with George Washington, the Father of His Country, Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, and Theodore Roosevelt, the man who made the modern presidency, and the only man ever to have won both a Congressional Medal of Honor and a Nobel Prize, the only president to have won the Medal of Honor. 

Charles Darwin statue, Natural History Museum, London – NHM photo

In his effort to keep the Union together, Lincoln freed the slaves of the states in rebellion during the civil war, becoming an icon to freedom and human rights for all history.  Upon his death the entire nation mourned; his funeral procession from Washington, D.C., to his tomb in Springfield, Illinois, stopped twelve times along the way for full funeral services.  Lying in state in the Illinois House of Representatives, beneath a two-times lifesize portrait of George Washington, a banner proclaimed, “Washington the Father, Lincoln the Savior.”

Darwin would become one of the greatest scientists of all time.  He would be credited with discovering the theory of evolution by natural and sexual selection.  His meticulous footnoting and careful observations formed the data for ground-breaking papers in geology (the creation of coral atolls), zoology (barnacles, and the expression of emotions in animals and man), botany (climbing vines and insectivorous plants), ecology (worms and leaf mould), and travel (the voyage of H.M.S. Beagle).  At his death he was honored with a state funeral, attended by the great scientists and statesmen of London in his day.  Hymns were specially written for the occasion.  Darwin is interred in Westminster Abbey near Sir Isaac Newton, England’s other great scientist, who knocked God out of the heavens.

Lincoln would be known as the man who saved the Union of the United States and set the standard for civil and human rights, vindicating the religious beliefs of many and challenging the beliefs of many more.  Darwin’s theory would become one of the greatest ideas of western civilization, changing forever all the sciences, and especially agriculture, animal husbandry, and the rest of biology, while also provoking crises in religious sects.

Lincoln, the politician known for freeing the slaves, also was the first U.S. president to formally consult with scientists, calling on the National Science Foundation (whose creation he oversaw) to advise his administration.  Darwin, the scientist, advocated that his family put the weight of its fortune behind the effort to abolish slavery in the British Empire.  Each held an interest in the other’s disciplines.

Both men were catapulted to fame in 1858. Lincoln’s notoriety came from a series of debates on the nation’s dealing with slavery, in his losing campaign against Stephen A. Douglas to represent Illinois in the U.S. Senate.  On the fame of that campaign, he won the nomination to the presidency of the fledgling Republican Party in 1860.  Darwin was spurred to publicly reveal his ideas about the power of natural and sexual selection as the force behind evolution, in a paper co-authored by Alfred Russel Wallace, presented to the Linnean Society in London on July 1, 1858.   On the strength of that paper, barely noticed at the time, Darwin published his most famous work, On the Origin of Species, in November 1859.

Darwin and Lincoln might have got along well, but they never met.

What unusual coincidences.

Go celebrate human rights, good science, and the stories about these men.

A school kid could do much worse than to study the history of these two great men.  We study them far too little, it seems to me.


Charles Darwin:

Abraham Lincoln:


Anybody know what hour of the day either of these men was born?

Yes, you may fly your flag today for Lincoln’s birthday, according to the Flag Code; the official holiday, Washington’s Birthday, is next Monday, February 15th — and yes, it’s usually called “Presidents Day” by merchants and calendar makers. You want to fly your flag for Charles Darwin? Darwin never set foot in North America, remained a loyal subject of Her Majesty, Queen Victoria, to the end of his days. But go ahead. Who would know?

This is an encore post.
Yes, this is an encore post. Defeating ignorance takes patience and perseverance.

Rare/Alternative Christmas music 2019: Macy Gray’s call for social justice

December 23, 2019

Some encores from last year. Here’s one in a spasmodic series of posts on Christmas songs you probably haven’t heard a thousand times already, and may actually enjoy hearing. Got a song you’d like to suggest? Suggest it in comments.

Cover sleeve for Macy Gray's

Cover sleeve for Macy Gray’s “All I Want for Christmas.” Amazon image

This one speaks for itself, I think. From experience, I can tell you that playing this song can weed out the Trump supporters in your party attendance rather quickly.

Oddly, I think, it also brings out the dangerous elements of American society to complain about it, judging by comments at the site (go see; there are a lot more):

Grotesque comments at YouTube on Macy Gray's Christmas wishes.

Grotesque comments at YouTube on Macy Gray’s Christmas wishes.

Those thought zombies walk among us. Our cross to bear.

Gray didn’t include it on any album I’ve found.



Fly your flag today for the 2019 holiday honoring Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

January 21, 2019

Marchers from Selma to Montgomery carried the U.S. flag; you should fly yours today in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Image from 60s Survivors page on Joanna Bland, who was part of the march.

Marchers from Selma to Montgomery carried the U.S. flag; you should fly yours today in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Image from 60s Survivors page on Joanna Bland, who was part of the march.

Citizens and residents of the U.S. should fly their U.S. flags today, on the holiday marking the birth of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Fly the U.S. flag today for the holiday for the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.  The holiday is celebrated on the third Monday in January.

King’s actual birthday is January 15. In 2019, the legal holiday is January 21, today. It’s becoming common for Americans to fly their flags all weekend for a holiday on Friday or Monday.

Many Americans will celebrate with a day of service. Perhaps you will, too.

In 2019, in a nation that seems again intolerant of immigrants and people of color, remembering and honoring the life and struggles of Martin Luther King, Jr., and serving others in real and symbolic ways, is more important than ever.


The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C. Credit: architecture.about.com, via Saporta Report

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C. Credit: architecture.about.com, via Saporta Report


Vote! What really matters to you? Then vote!

November 2, 2018

Your vote counts. Every vote counts, but your vote counts for you.


Advertising from the Independence USA PAC


Beto O’Rourke, on kneeling for national anthem

August 23, 2018

U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-Texas (El Paso) in a House committee hearing room. Relevant Magazine image.

U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas (El Paso) in a House committee hearing room. Relevant Magazine image.

U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke reaches out to every Texan in his campaign for the U.S. Senate seat occupied by Ted Cruz. O’Rourke already visited all 254 Texas counties, listening to Texans tell him what is important in their lives.

Now Beto conducts town hall meetings.

Recently a Texan asked him about NFL players’ kneeling during the national anthem.

Does his answer surprise you? It reveals the thought he’s put into issues.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Now This! on Twitter.

Democratic Party pushes civil rights in the modern era — don’t be hoaxed

August 8, 2018

How Congress voted on the Civil Rights Act of 1964, broken down by party and with a few more details; chart by Kevin M. Kruse; from Kruse's Twitter account.

How Congress voted on the Civil Rights Act of 1964, broken down by party and with a few more details; chart by Kevin M. Kruse; from Kruse’s Twitter account.

Not sure if everybody got their Bogus History from Dinesh D’Souza, but a lot of people have the same wrong ideas about what party supported civil rights in the post-World War II era. These crappy distortions of history are showing up on Facebook and all over Twitter. Worse, people believe them.

The crappy claim is that Democrats are the party of racism and support for the Ku Klux Klan. Historically, that was once so; but it has not been so since 1948 as the two main parties in the U.S. switched positions, with Democrats taking on civil rights as a key cause for Democratic constituencies, and the Republican Party retreating from Abraham Lincoln’s work in the Civil War and immediate aftermath, and instead welcoming in racists fleeing the Democratic Party.

Think Strom Thurmond, vs. Mike Mansfield and Lyndon Johnson.

Kevin Kruse corrected D’Souza in a series of Tweets, and you ought to read them and follow the notes. Kruse is good, and better, he is armed with accurate information.

This is solid history, delivered by Kruse in a medium difficult for careful explanations longer than a bumper sticker.

Mr. Kruse made a key point early in the thread.

First of all, the central point in the original tweet stands. If you have to go back to the 1860s or even the 1960s to claim the “party of civil rights” mantle — while ignoring legislative votes and executive actions taken in *this* decade — you’re clearly grasping at straws.

Anyone who reads newspapers would know that. Alas, one of the campaigns of conservatives over the past 40 years has been to kill off newspapers. They’ve been way too successful at it.

I’ll include mostly the Tweets for the rest of this post.

It’s a big tell. See my earlier posts on the 7 Warning Signs of Bogus History.

You can view the entire thread in one unroll, which I find difficult to translate to this blog platform — but you may find it easier to disseminate:




Happy birthday, Abe and Charles!

February 12, 2018

From Smithsonian Magazine's 2009 article,

From Smithsonian Magazine’s 2009 article, “How Lincoln and Darwin Shaped the World.” Illustration by Joe Ciardiello.

On this day in 1809, just a few hours apart, Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln were born.

What are the odds of historic coincidences like that?

Lincoln’s birthday is still listed in law as a date to fly the U.S. flag, though we’ve changed the celebration to the following week and the generic President’s Day, closer to George Washington’s real birthday, February 22. President’s Day is celebrated on the third Monday in February.

So, you may certainly fly your flag today. (You may fly your flag any day, but you get the idea.)

News will feature more celebrations of Darwin than Lincoln, today, I predict — Darwin Day is a worldwide celebration by science nerds.

Both Lincoln and Darwin worked to end slavery. Darwin probably had more of an idea that racial discrimination had no science basis. Lincoln had more political sway. After Lincoln and Darwin, science and human rights advanced greatly, because of their work.



%d bloggers like this: