On this day in 1734, the American explorer Daniel Boone was born. I think of him as part of the leading edge of imperial expansion. The man was basically at war with the native tribes his whole life. He’s not exactly a hero, but he’s entirely typical of “great men” of the period. I was surprised that he lived to be 85 years old. [I originally noted this back on 22 October, but that was the old calendar. I thought I would move him here because it is the right date and I want to focus on just what a villain Boone was.]
Marie Antoinette was born in 1755. Were she and her husband Louis XVI all that bad? Not especially. But as I warned in The Revolution Will Be Televised, people are not that rational when they rise up. So if the people of the United States ever rise up from behind the finals of Dancing With the Stars, it won’t just be the “bad” rich like the Koch brothers who get hanged; it will also be the “good” rich like Warren Buffett. And do you know what? I don’t really care.
A couple more living conservative villains have birthdays today. First there is Paul Johnson who is 85 today. He’s one of the great apologists for conservatism. I remember reading Modern Times: A History of the World from the 1920s to the 1980s. In it he makes the case that imperialism was mostly a good thing and didn’t the British lose out with all the money they sent to India. Remember: Johnson is a sober, establishment type of conservative. He is all you need to know to counter this argument that today’s conservatism is so much more extreme than it used to be. If you mean now compared to 200 years ago, maybe. But throughout my lifetime it has been just as extreme, just not as stupid.
The respectable neo-Nazi Pat Buchanan is 75. He’s interesting in that it shows that no level of extremism and racism will keep you off the television. But his level of racism will get you labeled outside the mainstream of conservatism. As we know, a big part of the support for conservatism is racism. But the movement expects this racism to be subtext. I say to all conservatives: embrace Buchanan! At least he’s honest about what he thinks. (Actually, he isn’t. Like most conservatives, he tries to finesse his opinions. But he’s more forward than most and that’s how we know what he is. I’m sure if Buchanan and Ted Cruz were off alone, there’s little they would disagree about.)
KD Lang is 52 today. Look: I mean no disrespect. But this nonsense with the lowercase letters causes all kinds of problems for typesetters. So I’ll admit that she goes by “k.d. lang.” But even that raises lots of questions. Is there a space after the first period? And if not, why is there is there one after the second? I don’t think she’s quite thought this all through. Anyway, she is a fine singer. Here she is doing an excellent version Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”:
The day, however, belongs to the great mathematician George Boole who was born on this day in 1815. He did a lot of different work during his lifetime including important work on one of my favorite things: differential equations. But he is known as the founder of computer science because of his important work in algebraic logic. This is why “Boolean arithmetic” is named after him. The amazing thing about this (and I love this stuff too) is that so much can be done with it. You start with basic assumptions like what an AND operator does. And you end with streaming this great little video about George Boole’s work:
Happy birthday George Boole!
Why has Google not created a doodle for George Boole?!