Thursday, February 12, 2009

One Centennial and Two Bicentennials

What a year for birthdays!

The NAACP turned 100 years old today. They were founded on the 100th birthday of Abraham Lincoln, which I think is quite appropriate.

I don't know much about the NAACP, other than the facts that they have a scholarship and Martin Luther King, Jr. was a member. Sorry, I'm not all up-to-date on my black history. Actually, I also know that it was founded by whites and blacks, as a joint venture. I'm waiting for the Asian version of the NAACP. When's Asian history month??

Two 200th birthdays today- Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin.

I've always liked Abraham Lincoln. That famous picture of him, looking serious and yet somehow also genial- I want to like the man portrayed in the photo. He seems like he'd be kind and sweet, very tall and gaunt but also chivalrous and very human in the best ways. I love that his bow tie is askew. I love how it looks like he's struggling to keep his smile at bay.

I love the Lincoln penny, with his distinct profile on the obverse and the wonderfully symmetrical Lincoln Memorial on the reverse. It's an absolutely useless coin (what's worth a penny nowadays??) but I still love the design of it, more so than any other coin. Plus, new pennies are the best color, that coppery-goldish color that makes all the silver coins look boring.

For his 200th birthday, the U.S. Mint is issuing four 2009 pennies with Lincoln on one side and different images on the other, representing his life in four stages:

1. The Kentucky days.

2. Lincoln: the teen years.

3. Mr. Lincoln goes to Illinois.

4. More importantly, Mr. Lincoln goes to Washington.

I love the widely accepted belief that if news had traveled faster back in the day, Abe Lincoln would never have been able to win the election. He wasn't really "Honest Abe," after all. He told the Northerners what they wanted to hear so they would elect him, and then ran off and told the Southern slave owners what they wanted to hear so they would elect him.

Smart, smart man. Of course, in this digital age where even the president has a Blackberry, Lincoln's strategy would not have worked. That's what's so great- he knew the limitations and used them to his advantage.

Without Lincoln, who knows where America would be today?? Perhaps there would still be slaves. Perhaps the Union and Confederate armies would have eventually split the country in two (North U.S.A. and South U.S.A.?? The Union and the Confederate??) and we would not occupy the giant middle of North America, as we do now. Lincoln definitely helped in the shaping of this country.

Another big birthday today is that of Charles Darwin.

I find it peculiar that Darwin and Lincoln are the same age. I feel as though Darwin should be younger than Lincoln, that they couldn't possibly have been born on the same day. I'm wrong, of course, they were born on the exact same day, and are both 200 today.

I was listening to NPR this morning when a story about Charles Darwin came on. I wasn't really paying attention until they mentioned that Darwin came up with his theory of evolution relatively early, when he was just twenty-eight. He didn't publish his findings until twenty-one years later, though.

The theory that this particular story was exploring: Charles Darwin withheld his extremely un-Godly views because of his love for his wife, Emma.

Yes, Valentine's Day is almost upon us, and I'm sick of seeing hearts everywhere. But Charles Darwin, the author of On The Origin of Species, withholding one of the most important scientific discoveries in the history of all mankind because of his absolute love for his wife?? That's sweet.

Emma Darwin was apparently a very devout Christian. She was upset by her husband's radical theories that pushed God out of the picture, and she implored him to try and walk towards God, rather than towards science. She apparently wrote letters to her husband (which I think is just wildly romantic- who writes letters anymore??) that he kept with him all the time (melt).

That, to me, is one of the nicest expressions of love ever.

Of course, I'm not all full of sunshine and rainbows- I find it hilariously ironic that Charles Darwin, the father of evolution, married his first cousin. I know ... I'm evil. But the irony! The iiiironyyyyyyy!

There is a movie coming out on September 25 (in Britain; I don't know if they've picked up American or worldwide distributors yet) this year about the life of Charles Darwin. Paul Bettany plays Charles and Jennifer Connelly, Paul Bettany's real-life wife, plays Emma.

I can see Jennifer Connelly as Emma. Dark hair, slender, pretty. I feel like Emma should have big, sad eyes with which to guilt her husband into keeping his trap shut about his so-called revelations. I think Jennifer Connelly has those big, sad eyes.

Emma Darwin, probably a fanciful sketching, but "fanciful" was the Photoshop of the day.

Jennifer Connelly. She can act (she really made me believe that she was jonesing enough for drugs to do some truly disgusting things in "Requiem for a Dream") and she's married to her co-star. That should make it easy for her to be a concerned wife character, right?? I'm a touch worried about her English accent. Bad accents ruin films.

Paul Bettany, on the other hand ... He can act, I don't dispute that. I'm just uncertain of the look. I did manage to find pictures that convince me that Paul Bettany could be believable as Charles Darwin.

Pre-Photoshop Photoshopped Charles Darwin. Love the cravat.

Paul Bettany has similar coloring, at least to the one picture of Charles Darwin.

Hmm ... maybe it will work.

I'm looking forward to "Creation," now that I know the whole romantic storyline behind the Charles Darwin story. The dry textbook version of the natural selection story is suddenly a lot more interesting. If they taught it like this in school, perhaps I'd still have some knowledge in my head.

Teachers, please appeal to your target audience. Romance, drama, incest- that'll get your students' attention!

February 12 is almost over, so I'll take the last few minutes left to wish the NAACP a happy 100th birthday. Happy 200th birthday, Abraham Lincoln! Happy 200th birthday, Charles Darwin! Hope you're all around a cake somewhere, pondering the future of minorities, Americans, Brits, scientists, and evolution.


william February 13, 2009 at 7:32 PM  

while i was still a college student in ny, i would sit in a particular starbucks in union square and wait for the bettany-connellys to come. they always came around the same time, always with the stroller. he is tall, and she is tiny. i'm glad they haven't divorced. yet.

happy valentine's day!

jeanny February 14, 2009 at 10:38 PM  

They've been married for six years- that's an eternity in Hollywood!

I really can't believe how ridiculously tall Paul Bettany is. I sincerely doubt that Charles Darwin was anywhere near that tall.

Valentine's Day is just coming to a close here, and it was happy! Hope you had fun, too.

Anonymous,  December 13, 2010 at 5:37 PM  

"I'm waiting for the Asian version of the NAACP. When's Asian history month??"


The NAACP covers all racial minorities, hence, why it is called the advancement of COLORED people. Asian Americans, such as myself, and you, for that matter, fall into this category.