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The European colonies of North America were based on liberty, freedom from religious persecution, and cod. One of the first marine species to be fished to near-extinction, this fish sustained New England (where Massachusetts named its most distinctive coastal feature for it) and inspired the frozen-food industry: It was cod, not vegetables, that Clarence Birdseye first began freezing for your convenience in the ’30s. In a lecture based on his book, Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World, journalist Mark Kurlansky will discuss the global significance of what was once the most common of North Atlantic fishes. At 6 p.m. at the Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden’s Ring Auditorium, 7th & Independence Ave. SW. $13. For reservations call (202) 357-3030. (MJ)