“I was hoping to visit Gettysburg,” Professor Plum said, “but now I won’t bother, because the Civil War never happened.”

He read the mail. (More)

Professor Plum then left with Ms. Scarlet to join the resident faculty in the wine cellar library, where they’ll spend the weekend drinking thinking on our motto of Magis vinum, magis verum (“More wine, more truth.”)

In the staff poker game, the Professor of Astrology Janitor wanted a do-over. Chef raised to open the pot and the Professor of Astrology Janitor turned up the corners of his cards for a quick peek. Seeing what looked like two red Aces, he reraised. Chef looked at her cards and calmly said “All-in,” and the Professor of Astrology Janitor called. Chef turned over two black Aces and the Professor of Astrology Janitor was sure they would split the pot. Then he turned over his cards and saw that one of his Aces was actually a Four, leaving him with only the Ace of Hearts and Four of Diamonds. Only a flush or the three other Fours could save him. Alas, the flop brought the Jack of Spades, Seven of Clubs, and Five of Hearts.

“I was sure I had two Aces,” the Professor of Astrology Janitor said as Chef gathered her chips. “I guess one of them was never there after all.”

He began his plaintive mewling and Chef went to the kitchen to make Biscuits and White Sausage Gravy, leaving your lowly mail room clerk to review the week’s correspondence….


Dear Ms. Crissie,

I’ve spoken with some history professors with very impressive credentials who told me the College Board’s new Advanced Placement History Framework doesn’t surprise them and is aligned with college level history courses that downplay our noble history and accentuate the negative view. As an example, I note our slavery history. Yes, we practiced slavery. But we also ended it voluntarily, at great sacrifice, while the practice continues in many countries still today! Shouldn’t our students be provided that viewpoint? This is part of the argument that America is exceptional. Does our APUSH Framework support or denigrate that position?

Pam in CO

Dear Pam,

We congratulate you for speaking with some history professors with very impressive credentials. We note that you should also have asked any high school guidance counselor or university registrar to explain why high school Advanced Placement classes align with college level courses. They would have told you that students with qualifying high school AP Exam scores can receive course credit and/or skip introductory courses at over 90% of U.S. colleges and universities. Simply, the College Board’s AP U.S. History Framework aligns with college history courses … because it is a college-level program.

We further note that the U.S. was hardly the first nation to abolish slavery. France abolished slavery within her continental borders in 1315. Spain abolished it in overseas colonies in 1542, although many colonial governments continued it through legal ruses. France abolished it in overseas colonies in 1792. Napoleon restored it in 1804, sparking the Haitian Revolution. France abolished slavery altogether in 1848. England abolished slavery within England in 1509, and in 1700 Lord Chief Justice John Holt held that any slave who reached England became free. The Slavery Abolition Act ended slavery throughout the empire in 1833. Wallachia and Moldavia abolished the slavery of the Roma by 1855. In the Americas, Canada began emancipation in 1793 and full abolition came in 1833. In Latin America, Chile fully abolished slavery in 1823, Mexico in 1824, Uruguay in 1851, Columbia in 1852, and Argentina in 1853.

We note that each of those countries ended slavery before the southern states in the U.S., and those abolition movements were indeed “voluntary.” But abolition in the southern U.S. happened at gunpoint. The Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves in Confederate areas not already held by Union troops, and slavery did not end throughout the South until June 19, 1865, when General Gordon Granger freed the remaining slaves at Galveston, Texas, a date now celebrated as Juneteenth.

We conclude that the U.S. waited far longer than most other nations to abolish slavery, and our southern states did so only after losing the Civil War. That is indeed “exceptional” … but not, we suspect, in the sense you intended.


Dear Ms. Crissie,

So slaves in the southern U.S. would have been freed 32 years earlier if we had remained British colonies? Wow. Would Chef still have a recipe for White Sausage Gravy? I make my own biscuits, but I never get the gravy right.

Grav(el)y Hungry in Blogistan

Dear Grav(el)y Hungry,

We prefer to avoid counter-factual “what if” history. The success of the American Revolution encouraged similar revolutions in France and Latin America, and most of those new governments ended slavery. But abolitionist movements were already well underway in England, and slavery might well have ended sooner in the U.S. – as it did in Canada – had we remained part of the British Empire.

As for Chef’s White Sausage Gravy, first crumble 12 ounces of pork sausage in a skillet and cook for about 7 minutes, until it is browned and cooked through. Use a slotted spoon to scoop out the sausage, leaving the rendered fat in the skillet. Whisk in 2 Tablespoons of all-purpose flour to make a roux, and cook for about 1 minute. Then slowly whisk in 2 cups of milk. Continue to whisk until boiling, then lower the heat to simmer, stir in the sausage, and add freshly ground black pepper to taste. Bon appétit!



Pam in CO; students with qualifying high school AP Exam scores can receive course credit and/or skip introductory prerequisite courses at over 90% of U.S. colleges and universities; U.S. was hardly the first country to abolish slavery; abolition in the southern U.S. happened at gunpoint; Juneteenth.

White Sausage Gravy Recipe.


Happy Sunday!