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Raging Pencils by Mike "Ouroboros" Stanfill

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Raging Pencils is a minor personal conceit of:

Mike Stanfill, Private Hand
Mike Stanfill, Private Hand
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Today's mystery web comic is:

start rant

Don't Know Much

"History is an account mostly false, of events mostly unimportant, which are brought about by rulers, mostly knaves, and soldiers, mostly fools." - Ambrose Bierce

Long Story Short: Screw the Comstock lode.

I learned in school that it's possible to herd elephants through the Alps. I also learned that the black plague killed approximately 75 million people. I even learned that Chester A. Arthur is known as the "Father of the Civil Service". Then there's the cotton gin, the Whiskey Rebellion, and 1492.

These bits of data were drilled into my noggin a long time ago but what I've since learned is that I could have gone my entire life blissfully ignorant of such facts and my life wouldn't have been altered one tiny whit.

This may make me seem like more of a misantropic lout than I already am but I've lately begun questioning the entire field of history as a learning tool as most of what we're taught is (A) subjective and (B) of no practical use.

Seriously, what do you know about World War II, or any war for that matter, that would result in the avoidance of future conflicts? How does one's encyclopedic knowledge of past presidents prepare a person for modern politics? If Texas had not joined the union in 1845 would it have vanished in a puff of smoke? (Mesquite wood, of course.)

What if, on the other hand, our schools neatly skipped any mention of something like, oh, slavery in America? Yes, it was a crime against humanity but
it yet lingers on in this big old world, even in America, though on a much smaller scale than the pre-Cilvil War era.

It seems to me that the only thing drilling generation after generation of children, specifically white children, on the details of the subject is that it provides them the odious knowledge that their darker-colored comrades once had slaves as ancestors. It's one thing to understand that slavery has no place among civilized men, it's another to have it handy as a stigmatizing, sociopolitical weapon.

The other problem with history as a scholarly subject is that there's a massive bombardment of historical events inundating us every day, amplified by the problem of who decides what will be taught as canon? Will Darfur matter in 20 years when no one cares now? Why is Hamas so vilified? Why do this nation's newspapers focus on the drums of war rather than the hundreds of thousands marching against it?

Without doubt people should pay more attention to the daily news as fluctuations in the course of modern events shape their lives far more than anything on the historical battlefields. That's also why it's important that laws be enacted to hold newspapers legally accountable for any political distortion they may impart. Because when the story becomes opinion then it's not "news" any more, and it'll be damned hard to sell a paper if you're forced to call it "The Daily Opinion".

It seems to me we'd better off spending more time teaching our children how to reason with mutually accepted fact. Perhaps if we habitually tried to understand how everything works and, therefore, approach it rationally we'd be less inclined to start wars out of ignorance.

And fewer wars mean thinner history books.


end rant

100% Free Bonus Snark!

Hayden Panetierre drops the f-bomb for John McCain. (Funny)

Extra Bonus Snarkaliciousness

mallard fillmorebruce tinsley is a racist moronThis is a Mallard Fillmore two-fer. The top image, circa 10-19-08, is cartoonist Bruce Tinsley's wry, witty poke at one of Senator Obama's more enlightened statements. The bottom is a much more believable alteration of the cartoon.

Bruce Tinsley, the world's worst political cartoonist.

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