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The Purple Muse


Welcome to the web site of The Purple Muse.  We offer commentary and opinion on the major issues being debated in our world today.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Who Discovered America?

I have previously commented on three books written by Gavin Menzies in the blog and articles of thepurplemuse.com.  Who Discovered America? - The Untold History of the Peopling of the Americas is Menzies's fourth book.  The book was published in 2013 with Ian Hudson credited as co-author.  In the Acknowledgments Menzies states that the book was revised nine times.  I think the book could have used a couple more revisions  to turn it into a more cohesive work. 

The book is a compilation of travel blogs, genetic study results and some new information that Menzies has accumulated since the publication of his first book 1421 - The Year China Discovered America.  One of the most interesting sections of the book concerns an area Menzies calls Nova Cataia (Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada).  Menzies and others make the case that ruins of a Chinese settlement exist in this location.  After I finished the book I did some on-line research to find out if any work had been done on this topic by other experts.  Unfortunately, reputable experts on the area in question refuted the evidence Menzies's presents in 2006 with a substantive discussion that is more detailed than Menzies material!  Menzies did not say a word in his 2013 book concerning the challenges to his Nova Cataia theory.

Menzies has presented a tremendous amount of information in his four books that doesn't match up with the generally accepted history of the Americas.  Menzies has done all of us a great service with his efforts over many years.  One of Menzies strongest arguments is based on the history of maps.  I believe there is a lot more to the story of the world's most famous maps and much of that story is buried in the libraries and private collections of Europe and China.  It is my belief that mankind has been traveling on the oceans for thousands of years and that different areas of the Americas were visited or colonized many times before the Vikings or Columbus.  Most Americans know more about the European colonization of America than they do about the incredible history of earlier cultures of the Americas.  I believe their are linkages between early America cultures and the rest of the world that are not fully understood. 

It is possible that Chinese Admiral Zheng He did visit the Americas before Columbus but Menzies latest book didn't do much to help his case in proving it.  More work needs to done before we have a better answer to the question, Who Discovered America? 



11:35 am          Comments

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Teaching History

I have commented on many books on my website that present different perspectives on the history of the world than the history most of us were taught many years ago.  I recently finished reading two books that vividly illustrate the issue of how history should be taught in our schools. 

I have a copy of The Human Odyssey Volume 1 - Prehistory Through the Middle AgesThe Human Odyssey is a three volume set produced by K12 Inc that presents world history in three parts.  Volume 1 is for 7th graders.  Volume 2, for 8th graders, covers the period from the Renaissance through 1914, the brink of World War I.  Volume 3, for high school students, covers the period from World War 1 and Russian revolution to our contemporary era.  All of the books were copyrighted between 2004 and 2007.  Volume 1 is beautifully produced and it is likely that the other two volumes are as well.  

Volume 1 begins with a discussion of the early civilizations in Mesopotamia (Sumer), Egypt, the Indus River Valley and China.  The bulk of the rest of the book is a discussion of the evolution of European civilization from Greece to the Roman Empire though the developments of the Jewish religion, Christianity, Islam, and the great empires that developed through the centuries through the Middle Ages.  The only discussion of the Americas in the book is the existence of the Bering Strait land bridge and Viking exploration of North America.   The early history of the Americas may be covered in Volume 2 and tied the European voyages of discovery.  I believe the book does a great job of explaining world history to 7th graders from a modern traditional Eurocentric perspective.  Is this the history we want to be teaching our children when we now know there is much more to the story? 

Today, I finished reading La Merica by Arthur Faram.  Faram claims his book is "the first true story of the colonization of the Americas".  Faram's book evolved from "the investigation of the history of the Faram family".  The Farams are a Celtic family and the author claims to be able to trace his family history over two millennia.  La Merica is a book that is part Faram family history, part Arthur Faram's version of European history, part introduction to geoglyphology and a rewrite of early American history.  Many of the assertions made by Faram are not well documented in his book but some of the information he provides is extremely interesting and appears to be logical conclusions based on facts.  As I read the book I asked myself questions about how to validate some of the assertions made by Faram. 

Faram is convinced that Europeans had been sailing to the Americas for thousands of years before Columbus discovered America and some Native Americans had European (Celtic) ancestry.  But the highlight of La Merica is Faram's explanation of how the Portuguese claimed most of the land of the Americas using geoglyphs (stone markers or designs in the earth) and then gave the land to the Knights Templar and their successors including the Freemasons.  I had never heard of geoglyphology before reading the book.  I can't accept that all of Faram's conclusions using geoglyphology are accurate.  I also can't state that he is wrong.  I am not sure how to evaluate his interpretations of the many geoglyphs that have been found in the Americas.

How much of Faram's version of history is true?  Faram is just one of many independent researchers that have concluded that the standard version of history is wrong or at a minimum incomplete?  There is physical evidence that may support Faram's perspective.  At a minimum the physical evidence he presents is not explained by the current politically correct version of history. 

So what should we teach our children about the history of the world and when?  Should we explain that there are many unexplained aspects to our history that may change our perspective over time?  Should we tell our children that we really don't know what happened?  Or should we ignore all the unexplained aspects of history until we have absolutely definitive answers to our questions?  I believe everyone needs to know that there are alternative views of world history and children need to be given the opportunity to study those alternative views at an appropriate age, probably the later years of high school.  There is too much new information to leave our history books unchanged for many years. 


12:14 am          Comments

Friday, March 13, 2015

Obamacare and Tax Returns

2014 is the first year that Obamacare has become part of every individual and family tax return in the United States.  On Form 1040 there are two lines that have been added to account for the impact Obamacare may have on out taxes.  Nancy Pelosi was absolutely correct when she stated Obamacare needed to be put into law before we would understand what the program is all about. 

For those families covered by employer health plans or private plans or Medicare with no unique circumstances there is no impact.  You simply skip line 46 and check the box on line 61 and move on.  If you are a taxpayer that has an uninsured person within their "tax household" or you are an Obamacare participant that received "Excess advance premium tax credit repayment" your tax return preparation effort got more complex.  There are more instructions, forms and worksheets to read, understand and complete before the taxpayer can complete their federal tax return.  And in many cases a larger check to write to the IRS. 

Everyone knows that US tax returns are very complex and most people can't deal with them.  Tax preparers and tax preparation software have been a growth industry for many years.  Obamacare adds another layer to the complexity of our tax collection system.  How many of us actually work through the details of our returns so we can fully appreciate how our tax system works?  Fewer and fewer of us prepare our returns every year.  I am one of those that slog through the detail.  I can't imagine how hard working people (especially those with family obligations) deal with all the detail ( I am trying to use a nice word, not a profanity) embedded in the tax code and submit a tax return that is accurate. 

I understand the goal of Obamacare was to expand health care to a segment of our population that couldn't afford it and to correct some coverage issues in the health care system (trying to keep this blog simple).  But did we really need to add significantly to our federal bureaucracy to achieve the goals of the program?  I don't think so. 

Once Obamacare passed I knew it would be nearly impossible to repeal the program in total once it got embedded in our health care system.  After working through my tax return I hope the Supreme Court puts a massive dent into Obamacare by deciding that the federal run exchanges can't provide health insurance subsidies.  This action should force the Executive Branch and Legislative Branch of our government to significantly rework Obamacare.  Hopefully, a revised law will no longer impact the process of filling out our tax returns and allow people that want to be responsible for their own lives and health care make that decision without government interference. 


5:17 pm          Comments

Thursday, March 12, 2015

How The World Works - Really?

I just finished reading one of the most interesting books I have read in recent years.  The book is How The World Works by Noam Chomsky.  The book is a compilation of four short books released between 1992 and 1998.  The paperback version I read was copyrighted in 2011.  This book is a compilation of interviews conducted by David Barsamian with Chomsky from the late 1980s to the 1990s.  Arthur Naiman is the editor of the book. 

I don't believe I ever encountered Chomsky before I saw this book even though he is 86 years old and has been a leading "intellectual" for decades.  He has been called many things and described many ways during his long career as an academic, activist and author.  I could call him an extremely liberal progressive but that doesn't do him justice.  His combination of views doesn't fit any classic definition because he is so far off the mainstream that he regards Barrack Obama as center-right. 

The reason why How The World Works is worth reading is because Chomsky challenges just about everything that is accepted by the American political and economic system.  If you think the US is an honorable nation defending democracy around the world, Chomsky will explain why every American President since World War II is guilty of war crimes equivalent to the charges leveled at German Nazis.  Many of statements Chomsky makes are broad.  Since the book was developed from a series of interviews and covers a large set of topics, many of his statements lack the detail needed for a rigorous discussion. 

Chomsky clearly delivers his message about what he believes have been the evil acts of the west particularly the United States since World War II.  Chomsky doesn't believe in the US version of capitalism and appears to believe that most corporations are evil.  Chomsky wants the workers to run corporations and does believe in the management structures in place at most companies. 

Since many of the interviews and content in the book are about 20 years old it is interesting to speculate about how Chomsky would comment on what has happened since the interviews took place.  It is easy to find out since Chomsky continues to be active at his advanced age and one can find his many interviews and writings on-line.  Even if one disagrees with many of Chomsky's statements one cannot deny that he has made many very valid points.  Our nation is imperfect and its conduct in international affairs during the past 70 years has cost many American lives and resources and even more lives and resources of other nations.  And for what purpose?  So that US corporations can dominate the world?  Apparently Chomsky thinks this is the case. 

I suggest anyone with an open mind and desire to explore a broad range of views read How The World Works.  You don't have to agree with him but the many comments made by Noam Chomsky are worth thinking about. 


9:35 pm          Comments

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Government Yuk

Today was a lovely day in the Washington, DC area.  It rained and stopped and rained harder and stopped and drizzled and stopped all around the metropolitan area throughout the day. 

I made a brilliant decision yesterday to begin working on my federal and state income taxes today.  After gathering my information together I decided to go to my local IRS office and pick up some hard copies of key federal forms that I needed.  I like working with a hard copy of original forms as I work through the various sections of the tax forms.  I fully appreciate that I can print out the forms on my computer or use tax preparation software or give all of my information to a tax preparation firm, but I prefer working with the IRS original forms, when possible, and slog through the process myself.  I also know I can order my forms from the IRS via the mail.  However, a simple trip to the IRS should take care of everything I need?

Since the IRS doesn't have many offices in area I slogged through the traffic to the nearest office.  After waiting in-line to get into the office I walk over to the forms area where a taxpayer can pick up original forms they need.  I have done this for a number of years, since the IRS stopped sending out tax form packages to taxpayers.  I looked at the shelves and most of what I see are trays full of nothing but the piece of paper telling you the tray is empty.  I can't even get an original copy of a Form 1040 or the Form 1040 instruction package, the most basic of all federal tax forms.  I did find some of the forms that I needed.  It was not a completely wasted trip.

There is a person at entrance of the IRS office that deals with issues that don't require the expertise of the IRS staff that are helping people in the waiting room.  When I have collected the forms that are useful to me I had to stand in line to talk to the entrance person, who might be able to give me some additional forms.  After watching what appeared to be a very slow process, I decided to leave.  I picked up my Form 1040s at a local library on my way home in the yuk, rain combined with residual snow and ice remaining from our snow storms. 

I don't know if the shelves of forms in the office were full when the office opened and there was a massive forms rush in the morning.  Or maybe they have been empty for days or never even filled.  All I know is that my interaction with our federal government was not the best.  It was yuk on a yukky day. 


6:33 pm          Comments

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