Somebody said, Sail on! Sail on! And studied China and China’s lingo, And cried from the bow, There’s China now! And promptly bumped into San Domingo. – Ogden Nash


It’s time for Columbus Day which is one of the Idler’s favorite holidays and not just because he discovered Ohio either. For one thing, depending on where (or if) you work you might get a Monday off. (If you don’t work, set your alarm for 6 AM and when it goes off, say to yourself, “It’s Columbus Day! I’m going back to sleep.”)  We know a lot of golfers who hold an informal Columbus Open since it’s usually some of the last good links weather before Winter. The shadows are growing long, Kemosabe. Also, there’s a parade Saturday over in Bloomfield which you want to attend with one or more of your Italian friends in the hope that they’ll invite you over for a little pranzo afterward. That’s your main meal if you’re from the boot. And it’s all about the food, right? So Marco Polo supposedly brought pasta back from China and explorers brought the pomodoro (tomato) back from the Americas. Big deal, it was Italian mothers who put it all together and came up with Lasagne and Pasta Carbonara; Shrimp Scampi and Linguini with Clam Sauce; Fettuccine Alfredo and Pasta Puttanesca. Do yourself a favor and don’t ask anybody’s nonna what that last one means. And if you do, don’t let her give you anything that sounds like “bacce del morte”. But if nobody’s mama is cooking for you, you’ll find some pretty good trattorias on that stretch of Liberty.

You’ve probably heard tell  of some controversy surrounding Columbus day. Native American groups and people in the grievance industry like to complain that Columbus’s arrival wasn’t such a great deal for native populations. Maybe not, but you can’t blame it all on old Chris. Not only didn’t anybody know where smallpox came from five hundred years ago, they didn’t know what germs were. At the turn of the last century when they were digging the Panama canal, they still thought malaria was caused by breathing bad air.

When groups of people with iron weapons encounter groups of people with stone weapons it’s not a hard match to handicap. Heck, if you trace your ancestry two thousand years back to Europe, your folks may have been running merrily through a forest when the Roman Legions arrived. The latter proceeded to build a city with running water, public baths and a theater and then sort of forcibly convinced your great (x 60)  grandpappy to abandon his career of chasing squirrels around in favor of going to work on a farm or in a vineyard. He could have resisted, but the legionnaires had swords and spears and Grandpa and his buddies had clubs and slingshots. It’s safe to say that in the broad expanse of history, anyone who could abuse and subjugate someone else did abuse and subjugate that someone else. At least until that someone else found a way to abuse and subjugate him right back. Stop by the Mohegan Sun casino in the Poconos if you feel like being abused and subjugated by native Americans. Hey, it’s a start.

So here’s to Christopher Columbus. He was a daring and resourceful man, but he was also a man of his time. From him we learn what can be accomplished through persistence and determination, and also what can happen immigration-wise when you have an open borders policy.

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