Some thoughts on Confederate Memorial Day

Today is the anniversary of the death of John Wilkes Booth, the man who murdered President Abraham Lincoln.  And it is also the anniversary of the surrender of the last large Confederate army in the field at Bennett Place, North Carolina.  I assume that for the latter reason (although I have known at least a few people who argued it was for the former), today is also Confederate Memorial Day in Alabama, the state where I was born.

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“Do you miss the South now?”

That’s a question I am often asked in winter here in Boston by people who know me, especially on particularly cold days.  My answer is always no, no matter how snowy and miserable and cold it is.  And the reason for that is because while I don’t mind cold winters, I really, really don’t like hot summers.  Plenty of people don’t feel the same way, which is probably why so many people from the Northeast retire to Florida.  But I would always rather put up with nasty Boston winters than brutal Alabama summers.  And it’s why on days like today (when it’s supposed to get over 90 degrees) I long for winter to return.

Being the weather geek I am, let me break it down for you with some data.

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Dear universe – I want New England weather back

So tomorrow is Christmas Eve, and the temperature is going to be soaring up to a record-breaking 25 to 35 degrees above normal.

No.  Just no.  In fact, hell no.

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Still thinking of Rerun

I miss him.  I miss my little buddy, and how he used to greet me every day when I come home from work.  Thumbelina still does, of course, but it’s not the same as when the pair of them would get each other all worked up and excited over things like that.

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MLK and cultural appropriation

As a historian, and as someone who grew up in the South, I can’t help but shake my head at how a generation after the tumult of the 1950s and 1960s, we as a society are still struggling with virtually all of the issues that Dr. King fought against.  Don’t get me wrong, we have come a long way, even in my lifetime, but that progress still doesn’t mean that we live in a “post-racial” society.

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When suburban uniformity and reality collide

It is difficult to overstate the importance of water for life. It’s one of the reasons why so many human cities and human civilizations sprung up in places next to rivers or lakes where fresh water was plentiful. And in many places the bringing in of fresh water is one of the first public utilities to appear. Even here in Boston, a public water system was available by the end of the 18th century.
So how is it that in the 21st century, we have so many places, not just in the developing world but right here in the United States, that are struggling just to provide potable water for their population?
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