A Reality Star’s Lie, Cloaked in Violence

Donald Trump and his cable news sock puppet Sean Hannity have been trumpeting the claim that Robert Mueller’s indictment of 13 Russians for election meddling “vindicates” Trump (pictured) and his campaign in the collusion case.

Again, this is not true, but it’s worth noting I think that while the 1640 definition of “vindicate” is “to clear from censure or doubt, by means of demonstration,” the word’s 1620’s root is much more violent, “to avenge or revenge,” according to the Online Etymology Dictionary.

In Trump World, even a claim — or, rather, lie — like “Trump cleared” becomes bloodthirsty and ugly. He and his ilk are incapable of not seeing red. “SAD!”

(For more Fun with Words, aka Etymological Adventures, click here.)

Two Stories, One Topic

Just passing along two stories I wrote recently, both related to my book, The Log Cabin: An Illustrated History.

The first, for The Daily Beast, is all about the iconic cabin’s dark side, i.e. its use in slave trade and to demolish Indian traditions. Cheery stuff.

The second piece, written for Salon, revolves around dead presidents and why we idolize their mythical cabins.

More TK!

The NRA Knows What It Does

This pattern of behavior is proof that the NRA understands its actions are part of America’s gun problem.

From Business Insider:

The National Rifle Association  deleted a tweet on Wednesday evening encouraging people to buy guns for their loved ones on Valentines Day after news of the Florida school shooting broke.

The post, originally tweeted out Wednesday morning by Kimber Firearms, featured a heart-shaped pillow with two guns resting on it. The caption read: “Give your significant other something they’ll appreciate this Valentines Day.”


The NRA has attracted criticism for its social media posts in the past.

In July 2012, an NRA-affiliated account tweeted “Good morning, shooters. Happy Friday! Weekend plans?” shortly after a shooting at a Colorado movie theatre where 12 people died and at least 70 were wounded.

An NRA spokesman told CNN the poster was unaware of the shooting and swiftly deleted the tweet.

In November, the NRA stirred outrage after one of its Twitter accounts tweeted a link to a blog post detailing the differences between various gun parts, in the wake of a shooting at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas which killed 26 and injured several others.

That tweet was also quickly deleted.

Short Post on Two Short-Lived Magazines, 1741

Today marks the 277th anniversary of Boston-based publisher Andrew Bradford releasing American Magazine; or Monthly View of the Political State of the British Colonies.

Meanwhile, three days from now, February 16, marks the same amount of time since Bradford’s protégé and later rival, Benjamin Franklin, published his The General Magazine, and Historical Chronicle for all the British Plantations in America.

Neither publication lasted very long: American Magazine shuttered after three months and Franklin’s in six. Media in America, and in general, has always been a tough gig – and that’s putting it nicely.

Foreign Shlock Shock at Lincoln ‘Birth’ Cabin, 1936

It’s Abraham Lincoln’s birthday and we should only be sharing happy memories of the sixteenth president, the Great Emancipator, the Honest One, but I don’t know when I’ll next receive the opportunity to share this random, tangentially-related fact I learned while writing my book, so, you know, indulge me….

In 1936, the interwar period, Americans were aghast to learn that a shop adjacent to the “Lincoln birth cabin” in Hodgenville, Kentucky, was selling foreign-made wares: products described as “relics of Lincoln’s day,” but which the Chicago Tribune revealed to be as “cheap in material and theme,” constructed in far-off lands like Japan or Germany, and all “exploiting the patriotic sentiments of the American public.”

From the Tribune’s 1936 report:

“The articles…sold for 25 cents each and are cheap in construction, material and theme. One of a black and white china ash tray in the shape of a dog. This was made in Japan. Another, made in Germany, is a small wooden box labeled ‘Hope Chest’ and ornamented by a stenciled rose. Within are a nude kewpie doll and a square of cloth.

Still another of these souvenirs stamped with the words ‘Lincoln’s Birthplace, Kentucky,’ is a miniature wooden spinning wheel. This, according to the label, was made in Czechoslovakia.”

And this so close to a place the Cincinnati Enquirer described in 1909 as a “mecca for all patriotic men and women,” a place the Wisconsin Daily Northwestern called “a mecca for all Americans,” a place President Wilson himself said “expresses so much of what is singular and noteworthy in the history of the country”?! What a travesty!

Now, can only image what these people would say if they learned this “Lincoln birth cabin” was itself an elaborate ruse erected as much to honor Lincoln as to glorify America’s broader rags-to-riches/logs-to-luxury myth. And, more importantly, what would they say about Americans electing a president whose oft-licensed — and etymologically appropriate — last name and well-branded family are tied to dozens and dozens of shoddy products produced overseas, all created precisely to exploit American patriotism?

Archive Diving: Yellowstone Musings

I’ve been in the publishing business for 12 years; more if you count college magazines and even longer if you take my summer camp newspaper into account, which you should.… That said, I’ve written on every topic under the sun: murder, arson, album releases, restaurant openings; I’ve interviewed celebrities and presidential candidates; I’ve waxed on addiction, recovery, grief… Sometimes even happiness! Due to the hyper-frenetic nature of the internet, however, many of those pieces are read and forgotten, lost in the digital past.

This Out magazine piece, “Rocky Mountain, Brights and Darks,” is one such piece, and I’m linking it here as the inaugural entry in a sporadic feature called “Archive Diving,” in which I briefly revive a favorite article, blurb or aside from my editorial past.

Here’s a snippet:

Orion and his belt were up there, and so were the dippers, big and little. And if my rudimentary astronomy can be trusted, I saw Gemini. Or one of half-of it, at least. I felt lost in it all, so small and insignificant: the emotions appropriate for staring into such an abyss. Then, in another part of the expansive sky, a strange star caught my eye. Did it flicker with recognition? I don’t think so, no, but it made me think about how thankful I am to know nightfall. Without darkness, there would be no stars at all.

It was very emo, but also, I think, quite lovely.