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Revisiting the Threaded Thanks

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We’re all connected, and I’m thankful for that.

Last year I wrote this piece on the subject, and this year I think the idea is worth revisiting because we’re much less likely to spew hatred and vitriol when we recognize our connections.

Consider today’s feast, if you’re an American participating in the feasting, or if you’re a human who happens to be eating: farmers from around the world contributed to the things on the table. If you’re enjoying poultry it may be local, but the spices applied to it were likely grown much further afield—Hungary for your paprika and Vietnam for the black pepper, to name two likely contenders.

Did anything sit in your refrigerator? Components for that miraculous bit of technology were built by engineers from many nations, using materials that include petroleum products and rare earth metals. When you open the refrigerator you’re operating equipment with bits from China, Thailand, Malaysia, Russia, the United States, Australia, and Saudi Arabia, and that’s the short list.

The “threaded thanks” exercise works in this way: Pick a thing for which you are thankful, and then read up on that thing. Where did it come from? Before it came from there, where did its parts come from? Who hauled it from all those places to the place where you got it? How were they able to make the trip? Find the thread and keep pulling, and identify as many connections as you’re able to. Then express your gratitude for each of those connections.

It might take a while. Probably don’t do this while others are waiting to eat.

There is no room for jingoism or any other dehumanizing belief system in this exercise. There were no “lesser” people involved in bringing you the things that made today’s meal possible. You depend on them, and when they sit down to eat, they depend on you. If you’re reading this, it’s likely that I depend upon you in some way for the meal I’m enjoying. My own living is earned in a massive web of transactions that include the streams of data moving to and from the device upon which you’re reading this text.

Last year at this time I described myself as a thankful person. To me, being thankful means acknowledging the countless hands that bear me up, and expressing my love and appreciation for them. It means being grateful, and learning to whom I owe the debt of gratitude. It means embracing the idea that when I pay for a thing and bring it home, the financial transaction is just one small part of the established connection.

We are all connected, and I am thankful for that. You’re part of those connections in more than just one way. I’m thankful for you, and the work you do to make our world a better one.

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denismm
15 days ago
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Last Remaining Boundary Marker for the Republic of Texas in Carthage, Texas

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The marker is at the border of Texas and Louisiana on FM-31

The independent Republic of Texas had a good 10-year run in the middle of the 19th century. From 1836 to 1846 the Lone Star State wasn’t a state at all, but its own country. It had its own flags, currency, capital, and even its own embassies.

In order to show foreigners that they were entering sovereign land, granite markers were driven into the ground along the Republic’s borders. Today there is only one of these boundary markers still on the job.

Dating back to 1840, this last of the known markers is 10 miles southeast of Deadwood, Texas (yes, it really is called Deadwood) on Farm-to-Market Road 31. Its role is unofficial now, except to let you know when you’ve left Louisiana, and give you a little history of the old Republic and the disputed border along the Sabine River. There were many of these stone markers at the time, but this one, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, is the only one that hasn’t either disappeared or sunk into the river.  

The granite pillar is nine inches square, and sticks up about four feet from the ground. An accompanying plaque notes that it’s actually ten feet long, which means it’s buried several more feet—a feature that has kept it from being stolen, at least on one reported occasion. Three sides are engraved, providing all the necessary details: Merid. Boundary, Established A.D., 1840* on one side, and sides two and three simply say U.S. and R.T., just to make sure you knew which side you were on.

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denismm
34 days ago
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That's a myth. It is allowed to split itself into 5 states if it wants though.
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JayM
35 days ago
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Only state that still retains the right to secede, I have heard.
Atlanta, GA

There’s no pumpkin in “100% canned pumpkin”

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Pumpkin is too watery and stringy to can, and the USDA has an exceptionally loosey-goosey definition of "pumpkin," which allows manufacturers to can various winter squash varieties (including one that Libby's specially bred to substitute for pumpkin) and call it "100% pumpkin." (more…)

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denismm
73 days ago
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False. http://www.snopes.com/canned-pumpkin-isnt-actually-pumpkin/
icepotato
73 days ago
THANK YOU <3
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Mahjong Is Now Available For Xbox One

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Content: Mahjong
Check price and availability in your Xbox LIVE region

Game Description: Play a Zen game! Rediscover the famous traditional Chinese game. Find all the matching pairs of tiles, being careful not to become blocked in, to get to the end of each level. Concentration and perceptiveness are needed to finish the gorgeous boards that we have produced for you. Traditional Mahjong with all its depth and captivating beauty. 70 levels with varying difficulty and brand new puzzles. Customize your games with different graphic styles. Compare scores with your friends and players from around the world.

Purchase Mahjong for Xbox One from the Xbox Games Store

Product Info:
Developer: –
Publisher: Bigben Interactive
Website: Mahjong
Twitter: @BigbenBenelux





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denismm
101 days ago
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Calling this game "Mahjong" is like calling Klondike "Cards". 😡
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DMack
102 days ago
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at last it is available
Victoria, BC

Freefall 2835 July 11, 2016

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Freefall 2835 July 11, 2016
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denismm
151 days ago
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Utterly consistent quality and schedule for 18 years and he says "end of chapter 1"?
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Why Do Pirates Wear Earrings?

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Can that earring pay for his funeral? (Photo: David Goehring/CC BY 2.0)

Avast! Can any one of you scurvy dogs tell me if this earring matches this bandana? While pirates have a reputation for crime and cruelty, they are also known to be flamboyant dressers, if most depictions in popular culture can be believed. And there's one essential accessory sported by everyone from Jack Sparrow to Captain Morgan: the gold hoop earring. 

When exactly men of the sea began to put rings in their ears is anyone’s guess, but there are a handful of legends that claim to explain the fashion. The most popular myth behind the jewelry trend is that sailors would wear gold and silver earrings so that no matter where they died, they would be adorned with a way to pay for their burial. Since gold and silver were accepted forms of payment just about everywhere in the world, having a hunk of it stuck in your ear where it won’t wash away at sea was a pretty solid insurance policy. 

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(Photo: Howard Pyle/Public Domain)

There does seem to be some truth to this myth, says pirate historian Gail Selinger. “If you were a pirate or a thief, you were never buried. But if you’re on land and you die, then you have the money for your own burial, “ she says of the earrings. And it wasn’t just earrings that pirates wore to show off their wealth. During the golden age of piracy, pirates were known to drill holes in coins and wear them like necklaces and bracelets. “They’d wear it on their wrist, or around their neck, so that no one could steal their purse. [Archeologists] found quite a few of those [pieces of money jewelry]. So it’s not just a myth,” says Selinger. How widespread the practice was, however, is unknown.

In addition to their possible role as a down payment on a burial, earrings and jewelry were objects of rebellion. During the height of piracy in the 17th and 18th centuries, much of Europe, and especially England, had a number of sumptuary laws in place that regulated what the common people could wear and how they could live. “It was a legal way for the ruling class to separate themselves from commoners, by regulating what they wore, what they could drink, where they could live,” says Selinger.

The stifling laws prescribed things down to what colors people could wear, what genders could sport jewelry—men weren't allowed—and where they could show off the approved things they could afford. Those who refused to obey these laws could face jail time or heavy monetary fines. Unsurprisingly, this culture of control didn’t really gel with the freewheeling lives of pirates. “Pirates basically gave [these laws] a, ‘to hell with you!’ The mindset was, ‘I no longer allow you to tell me what I can and cannot do,’” says Selinger.    

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(Photo: Howard Pyle/Public Domain)

According to Selinger, the flamboyant dress that came to be associated with historic pirates was a direct response to these sumptuary laws. “Especially going into town, they would wear clothes that they had stolen or purchased in the town, and then wear them, essentially saying, ‘Here I am, what’re you gonna do about it?’ So, the earrings represented [flouting]  flaunting these laws.”

However, without a great deal of concrete evidence of what pirates actually wore, and the thinking behind their outfits, not everyone is convinced that pirates’ iconic earrings were ever really a thing. “Pirates didn't really wear earrings at all—or bandanas," says Angus Konstam, author of Pirate: The Golden Age.“Both were the invention of the late 19th-century American artist Howard Pyle. When he was asked to depict pirates for children's books, he based them on drawings he'd made of Spanish peasants and bandits. So, his pirates wore sashes around their waists, headscarves... and earrings.” As Konstam points out, Pyle is often credited with popularizing what is today considered stereotypical pirate dress, and our continued depiction of pirates wearing earrings is likely thanks to his work.

Whether it's a myth based on some truth, or a truth surrounded by myth, swashbuckling seafarer and their earrings are now inextricably linked. Even hundreds of years later, you can't separate a pirate from their treasures. 

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denismm
187 days ago
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Han Solo wore an earring? :)
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DMack
188 days ago
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Harrison Ford played a sort of space pirate in Star Wars, so you could say the tradition began "a long time ago"
Victoria, BC
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