Category Archives: February
As America’s oldest weatherman, Punxsutawney Phil is a groundhog that lives in burrow in Gobbler’s Knob, Pennsylvania. He has been forecasting the fate of winter since the nineteenth century, thanks to the efforts of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, who are continuing a tradition instilled by German Pennsylvania settlers. Like many early European Christians, the German immigrants celebrated a holiday called Candlemas Day, and believed that if a hedgehog saw his shadow on Candlemas Day it was an omen of a long “second winter.” Once in Pennsylvania, they felt that the groundhog was a suitable and wise substitute for the European hedgehog. Beginning on February 2, 1887, Pennsylvanians – and the rest of America – have looked to Punxsutawney Phil for a similar prediction. If Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow, then allegedly we are due for six more weeks of winter, but if not, spring is on the way! What was Phil’s prediction today?
Do you think Punxsutawney Phil could really predict the weather? Why do you think it is important for us as Americans to keep this tradition?
February 2, 1905
Ayn Rand, an influential 20th century thinker, was born in St. Petersburg, Russia and attended the University of Petrograd. Upon graduating, she immigrated to the United States and became a screenwriter, gaining citizenship in 1931. Her second novel, The Fountainhead, published in 1943, gained her worldwide attention. In it she celebrated her politics of individualism, a belief that individual achievement is most important in life. Atlas Shrugged, published in 1957, promoted both individualism and objectivism, which holds that happiness is life’s greatest goal and productive achievement is life’s greatest undertaking. A true capitalist, Rand felt the world’s success is achieved through individual success and intellect. Thus, her work influenced many conservative politicians even as it was dismissed by some scholars as superficial. She died in 1967 as she was working on a television version of Atlas Shrugged.
Why is individual achievement important? How do you think it conflicts with the idea of the common good?