We interview Professor Michael Rectenwald of NYU about his new book, Nineteenth-Century British Secularism (2016). We learn how diverse non-religious philosophies were and what the real meaning of secularism was in its early decades. Secularism sought to build a society were believers and non-believers could co-exist peacefully and equally before the law. It was not anti-religion. In fact, many secularists saw willful atheism as harmful to society. One of our most thought-provoking shows, Buzzkillers!
As the pilgrims pushed their chairs back from the first Thanksgiving table, their stomachs full of turkey and potatoes, Squanto appeared with bushels of popped corn and spilled it out on the tables for the Pilgrims to enjoy. That’s how Americans got popcorn, right Buzzkillers? Well, maybe not. but you’ll have to listen to find out!
He may have had a GPS system named after him, but Ferdinand Magellan wouldn’t have needed it during his trip around the globe back in the early 1500s. He only made it halfway, dying in the Phillipines at the hands of natives who got sick of him asking for directions. But since it was his ship that eventually got back to Europe, he gets the credit. Oh well, Buzzkillers. Who cares about the details anyway?
Find any fraternity member who’s also a freshman history major. Get him drunk, and he’ll start reeling off myths like crazy. One of them will probably be that Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia (1729-1796) died by being crushed by a horse. While she was having sex with that horse! In bed! You can probably guess whether it’s true, Buzzkillers!
Abner Doubleday didn’t invent baseball, and he didn’t do it in Cooperstown in 1839, Buzzkillers. Once again, a second- or third-hand story created a persistent myth. It was Alexander Cartwright in Manhattan in 1845. The Baseball Hall of Fame is still a great place to visit and I hope to run into you there sometime, Buzzkillers!
Robin Hood did not force King John to sign Magna Carta. Neither did King Arthur or Merlin, or Gandalf for that matter. Magna Carta (800 years old today) is a cluster-bomb of myths. The Professor defuses them and makes the world safe for democracy!
The weather report for the morning of October 29, 1929, the day of the famous Wall Street Crash, called for falling stockbrokers. Ruined businessmen were supposed to be flinging themselves out of their high office windows in despair. Alas, Buzzkillers, forecast didn’t prove true. Stay tuned right here for the update.
A Viking horned helmet would have been very impractical, and perhaps dangerous, in battle, Buzzkillers. There is only one depiction of a horned helmet in ancient Nordic art, and it was probably ceremonial. Horned helmets are most likely the invention of legendary opera composer Wagner’s costume designer in the 19th century.