Friday, July 1, 2011

Lemming Tracks: Fourth of July Weekend, 2011

Some aspects of America's Fourth of July are - there's no other word for it - cheesy.

Literally. That's Troy Landwehr's edible sculpture: a one-ton block of Wisconsin Cheddar, commissioned by Cheez-It, for the 2008 celebration of Independence day. The cheese didn't go to waste - after being displayed in Philadelphia and New York, it went back to Wisconsin: where it was carved up and sent to food pantries.

What's the secret to keeping 2,000 pounds of Wisconsin cheddar edible for so long? Mr. Landwehr coated it in cooking oil.

Red-White-and-Blue Soda Pop Cans

Nothing quite says 'Independence Day' like a red-white-and-blue soda pop can. Some things may say it better - but none quite like that bit of colorful marketing from 2008.

On the whole, the Lemming likes living in America: and has opined on the topic in other blogs:
That crack about "chaos" and "divisiveness" may need a little explaining in this post, so here goes.

Sometimes "freedom" means being free to agree with the majority of your neighbors - or with whoever runs the area you live in. Here in America, the problem has been avoiding a "tyranny of the majority."1

Sometimes there's an oppressed majority, a situation which often doesn't end well:

Mom, Home, Apple Pie, and Monks with Prayer Flags

America's gone through quite a lot of change since the Lemming got interested in this country.

The national government's judicial branch finally got around to sorting out an appalling series of treaty violations, dating from the 19th century. Aside from the injustice of it all, the Lemming's related by marriage to the Oglala Sioux - so there's a personal angle here.

America finally got an Irish president - and survived. Some folks seem shocked that the current administration isn't at all WASPish. Which is a little odd, considering how long it's been since this was even close to being the Anglo-Saxon states of America.

Moving on.

Folks get used to new customs and ideas pretty quickly - which may be why the Lemming hasn't heard how un-American it is to have a tannenbaum in the living room in mid-winter. Queen Victoria was indirectly involved: and that's another topic.

Last year, Fourth of July festivities in Washington, D.C., included monks with prayer flags. They're a little pastel for the Lemming's taste - but hey, they look good.


(from Around the Mall, used w/o permission)

Besides, there's that pesky idea of "freedom" again. Just because most folks in America aren't Bhutanese monks, that doesn't mean that folks who aren't in the majority can't worship - or not worship - as they please. Or criticize the government: and live. That's far from a universally-accepted notion:As part of a religious minority in America, the Lemming's got a very personal stake in supporting religious freedom. For everybody. This is one of the many cases where 'my end of the boat isn't sinking' simply won't float. (A Catholic Citizen in America (April 27, 2011)

Snap, Crackle, Boom, and Whoosh

Then there's fireworks. That's not an exclusively American thing, of course - China, gunpowder, and all that.

Still, America's Independence Day and fireworks are pretty much inseparable for many folks.

Then there's the Minnesota legislature, that banned fireworks quite a while ago. Something about the Masses not being smart enough to use them, the Lemming gathers. There are (real) safety concerns too, of course.

Then, recently, Minnesota's leaders decided to see if civilization as we know it would survive some of the tamer fireworks. (July 1, 2008) The center held, mere anarchy was not loosed upon the world, and Minnesota didn't burn to the ground.

From the snaps, pops, whizzing, and occasional BANG I hear outside, quite a few folks paid about as much attention to fireworks laws this year as they have in the past. And yet, we survive.

Related posts:

1 Concerns about a "tyranny of the majority" aren't new. See:

2 comments:

Brigid said...

An extra word: "Some things may say it be better"

And there might be a little too much space between the end of the article and the list of related posts.

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

Brian Gill said...

Brigid,

Found, fixed, and thanks!

The extra space? This post got published 'early,' before I'd finished it. Instead of 'saving as draft,' I left it as-is online, and plugged along until I was done.

Some of the intermediate steps must have looked - interesting.

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