The Americas before the Mayflower

The Arawak greet Christopher Columbus on his landing on Hispaniola.  Image courtesy of Library of Congress.

As children, most of what we learned about the Native American population of the Americas was based on what colonists and conquerors saw after they had already left their mark on the land and people.   But, what was life in the Americas like before Europeans arrived?   And, what happened in the century after Columbus […]

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How to Bury a Corpse

How to Bury a Corpse

If you've ever planned a funeral, or if you've ever spent your idle time thinking about death, you've no doubt felt yourself oddly curious about the details of the funeral business. No matter if you want to be buried, cremated, launched into orbit or shot out of a cannon, there's plenty of research to be done. […]

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Make A Difference Day

Source: U.S. Navy, Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class John Wallace Ciccarelli Jr., Wikimedia Commons

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said: "Life's most persistent and urgent question is: 'What are you doing for others?'" If you're unsure of how to answer that question and want to do more, Make A Difference Day is for you. Founded more than 20 years ago by USA TODAY Magazine and Points of Light, Make […]

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They’re All Lying to You

They're All Lying to You

Maybe you're the type who trusts in the basic goodness and honesty of your fellow man, who can calmly walk through life, confident in the truth of what average people and organizations have to say for themselves. As far as I'm concerned, that makes you a sap. They're all lying to you. Books told me […]

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I Like Sports?

I Like Sports

I'm a Bears fan, born and raised. I don't have a choice in the matter. When I was a kid, my family had season tickets that were about as high up in Soldier Field as you could go, and I like to think I still follow the sport. But then again, I'm not much into […]

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Say You Want a Revolution

Say You Want a Revolution

A little rebellion now and then can be good for one's constitution. Maybe one day you'll find yourself mad about something or other, and you'll want to take your fight to the Man. Before you do, remember that other people have tried it before, and there are plenty of lessons to learn. Thomas Paine and the […]

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Building a Mystery, Part II: Reza Aslan

Reza Aslan 3

The question that concerns many of the faithful and skeptics alike is, who was Jesus, really? Reza Aslan attempts to answer that question in Zealot. Tellingly, the subtitle is "The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth." This is because we have so little outside of the gospels to go on for Jesus' life. Part of […]

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Literary Criticism is Not Boring!

Literary Criticism is Not Boring

Okay, so literary criticism is boring. If you're not into classic, historic or highfalutin literature, you really don't care what makes something classic, historic or highfalutin. But give it a chance . . . When you find a critic who can actually write, you stumble across a whole new landscape of writers and their words. […]

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That Guy Knows Everything

That Guy Knows Everything

Did you ever wonder what it's like to know everything? Or at least to know enough to fake it? There are a few books out there which give you a glimpse of the world of ultimate knowledge. In The Grand Design, Stephen Hawking has apparently grown so smart he can claim on the first page […]

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The Private Lives of Pundits

The Private Lives of Pundits

What is it like to live your life convincing people that your petty opinions are worth something? Luckily for us, it's easy to find out, because pundits love talking about themselves. There are a bunch of memoirs out there about what they do and how they think. One fun exercise is to read Bill O'Reilly's […]

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