In the introduction to his new book, Sam Sifton lays it out: "Thanksgiving is not easy." Sifton knows whereof he speaks; he's now the national editor of The New York Times, but before he took on that solemn responsibility, he was the newspaper's restaurant critic and a food columnist for its Sunday Magazine.
Back in the 17th century, right around the time when the ideas of great thinkers like Descartes and Newton and Hobbes began to shape the world, a Jesuit priest named Athanasius Kircher also tried to make his mark.
Kircher was something of a jack-of-all-trades. He wrote more than 30 books; he was a philosopher, an inventor, a historian, a scientist. Back in his day, everyone knew about him. But it didn't help his reputation that many of his theories and inventions just couldn't hold water.