13 October 2014

Columbus Day - disease and shopping

C'mon, can you name these three ships?
Today is the day the U.S. marks the observance of Columbus Day, or Indigenous Peoples Day (no, I'm serious - it's a thing) if one insists that I be all Alameda County Politically Correct, a day in which we celebrate the day in which Columbus discovered the Americas. See what I did there? I said 'the Americas.' It's a fairly common misconception that it was Columbus who discovered America. He did not. It's not like he sailed up to a beach near Daytona and announced, "It's 'Merica. Now somebody get me a hot dog!"

I was thinking about Senor Columbus and what his arrival brought to the Americas late last week while I was talking to a colleague in London about the fact that our U.S. offices would be closed in observance of this auspicious day. He'd just been talking about how excited our media seemed about the Ebola issue and I noted that on Monday we'd get a chance to honor Columbus and thank him for bringing mass communicable disease to the new world. Because flu, scurvy, and STD's.

You may recall the little ditty from elementary school that helped us remember the achievements of that voyage from 1492. You know the one..."In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue." I've reworked just a few lines:

In fourteen ninety two,
Columbus sailed the ocean blue

He had three ships and left from Spain
He sailed through sunshine and brought with him a world of pain

Of his arrival the natives would soon rue
Lamenting, "If only he'd brought a mild case of ague"

I wanted to put my spin on the whole thing but you try finding something that rhymes with 'gonorrhea.' It's not easy and I don't have that kind of time. That said, the legacy of Columbus does go far beyond bringing the agony of communicable disease among other travesties. I mean, where would we be without half off sales on sheets and minor household electronics without him and the observance of this day? If you get upset about the concept of Columbus Day sales, that's kind of ironic. The basis of Columbus' expedition in the first place was to increase trade. The fact that you can get a toaster for an additional 30% off today is simply a fulfillment of legacy.

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