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May 02, 2014


Not particularly strange, but I remember being very surprised by the notion of a "bank holiday" when I went to Ireland back in the day. An excessively powerful financial industry! Using its force for good!*

*If you like holidays for having a day off work, which I concede is mildly un-American.

The family favorite was St. Swithin's Day. Usually in a context like "We'll get to that next St. Swithin's Day" -- meaning "Don't hold your breath."

I doubt anybody in the family actually knew what day that was (July 15). I think my parents just liked the name.

Moreso in the spirit of bank holidays than the OP, the Army introduced me to DONSAs - Days of No Scheduled Activity. They normally accompany federal holidays to turn three-day weekends into four-day weekends, but for those months short on federal holidays, they also sometimes just crop up on their own. These would be scheduled well in advance, and would generally fall on or about the same time every year. The flip side of all that time off, of course, is deployments and field exercises where you're "at work" for weeks or months on end, including, of course, all holidays. Though on the third hand, the flip side to that flip side is "training holidays", which are basically comp days for the whole unit at once to balance out exceptionally long hours...

This creature likes Spring Break:


via a link from Sullivan

I'm in favor of designating a week-long series of holidays, perhaps even summers off, in honor of Ta-Nehisi Coates:


John Holbo of Crooked Timber can now be honored with the entire country taking off the entire year of 2015 with full pay and benefits for finally taking on the Republican right wing, conservative bullsh*t term .... "Political Correctness".

Thereafter, we can declare a single annual holiday to visit the term's grave at cemeteries across the country and to pee on and extinquish its eternal flame.

Holbo cite:


Just in time:


Actually, Pi Day is my favorite -- because there's pie.

Unfortunately, I didn't realize until today (Sunday) that yesterday (Saturday) was Naked Gardening Day.

I'll keep an eye out for this next year. Possibly both eyes.

Probably most readers here consider the recent comments by Cliven Bundy and Donald Sterling to be self-evidently racist, but in both these cases the racism isn't obvious to a lot of libertarians. I do think that it is dangerous to draw conclusions from a short clip, but I'm not persuaded by libertarian Robert Wenzel's argument:

[T]here is nothing in the released Donald Sterling tape that leads me to believe he is a racist. It appears to me that he is embarrassed about his girl friend posting pictures on instagram with black guys. Sterling specifically mentions black guys, because that's who she was posing with, but I really think he was thinking "young black studs." (Sterling is 81, so everyone is a young stud to him.)

In other words. Sterling was using the word "black" to invoke a particular black stereotype. No evidence of racism here!

There's a great deal that "isn't obvious to a lot of libertarians." Such as reality.

Open-thread question for the more historically astute:

I've been doing a little genealogy, and I found my great grandfather's draft card for WWI. He was born in Agnone, Italy and had a very Italian name. Every other document I've found for him or anyone else in his family, in-laws included, indicates that they came over from Italy, and if a town is named, it is Agnone.

But his draft card, with a 1915 date, lists his national origin as Austria-Hungary. Was this some way of attempting to avoid military service? Was it a political statement about the Italian government at the time? Was there any pattern of this sort of thing among a significant number of people?

Help me Obsidian Wings; you're my only hope.

Interesting, hairshirt. And I don't know.

There were a lot of parts of present-day Yugoslavia that switched between Italy and Austria-Hungary during the 19th Century, and early 20th. Although it seems that Agnone wasn't one of these, maybe your great grandfather's parent was born somewhere else, or maybe he traveled to another part of what was then Italy to find work (like Dalmatia), and then something changed?

Or maybe when the Triple Alliance formed, Italian citizens were subject to the Austro-Hungarian draft?

Again, don't know.

Here's another weird tidbit, which I had known since forever but now becomes more interesting: My (supposedly!) Italian great grandparents died in the 1918 flu epidemic. Their younger daughter, my grandmother, around the age of 2 at the time, ended up being adopted by a husband and wife - an Italian-immigrant man and a Hungarian-immigrant woman. (Fortunately, they moved her from Youngstown, OH to Philadelphia, where she met my grandfather, allowing my mother, and therefore me, to exist.)

I should have more information soon. As cheesy as it may be, I'm doing a DNA test for ethnicity - not because of the Austria-Hungary thing, but to test my theory that another great grandparent's origins were other than was claimed. But if my results show more than a trace of Eastern European, that might mean something about my great grandfather.

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