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Headed for Columbus Day

This weekend is Columbus Day weekend. Also known as “No, you can’t have any mail, or go to the bank because, well, something” weekend. It’s an interesting day.

First, you have various municipalities (Seattle made the news on it this year) declaring it “Indigenous People’s Day” because they feel Columbus was bad for the Indigenous People of the North American Continent. No word yet on when they plan on returning their municipalities completely to the aforementioned Indigenous People groups. Or why, given that anything in the US north of Florida was explored and occupied by the English and French who followed different routes than Columbus, they hold Columbus responsible.

For that matter, second, Columbus was not the first European in North America. In fact, he hit Caribbean islands. There were Norse in America 400 years before Columbus, and possibly Celts before them! Nobody seems to hate on Leif Erickson. Or think about the fact that history is, generally, the story of various tribes conquering other tribes and taking their land. All the dadgum time. Anybody still mad at William the Conqueror? Calling for the Roman Empire to get Gaul back? Nope.

Third, Columbus was not the only one to think the Earth was round. That’s a myth that needs killed dead. Most of those who refused to back his voyage did so because they knew the Earth was round. They also knew the Earth was big. Why? They had read Eratosthenes, the Greek who measured the circumference of the sphere of the Earth.

Around 240 BC.

1700 years before Columbus (240+1492=1732) set sail. Eratosthenes made some errors, like assuming the Earth a perfect sphere, but he established then that the Earth was round.
Columbus assumed that Eratosthenes was wrong on the size, and figured he could get to Asia. Those who wouldn’t front him the ships and cash? They knew it was really, really far…and figured he could not survive that long at sea.

So, Columbus Day is a holiday to celebrate a man who didn’t believe historical geography, who didn’t discover America, and who didn’t actually know where he was.

Which explains perfectly why it’s an American Federal Holiday. It describes our government to perfection. They don’t know where they are, how they got there, or what they’re doing.

It does not explain why it’s the same day as Canadian Thanksgiving.


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