Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Assignment of Risk

 In the battle against the Covid-19 terror, epidemiologists have advised government figures to require masks and social distancing to prevent its spread and reduce the possibilities of sickness and death among the surrounding population and to protect each individual as well.


Since January 1, 2006, 324 people have been the victims of violent homicide in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago. Yet during this time there has been no advisory issued or requirement mandated by public health authorities or government officials that bullet-proof vests be worn by shoppers on West Madison Street. 

Saturday, October 17, 2020

From "Watts Up With That"

". . . consider that Voltaire predicted just such an eventuality when he said ‘Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.’ Global warming is the biggest absurdity of the modern era – it can’t happen in theory and hasn’t happened in practice. A big absurdity begets a proportionate atrocity."

Sunday, August 16, 2020

US Covid-19 Numbers

On June 3 of this year the total number of deaths attributed to the Covid-19 malady amounted to 107,648, about the SRO capacity of "The Big House" in Ann Arbor, Michigan if the Michigan Wolverines were playing the Ohio State Buckeyes during a pandemic-free season. 


As of the morning of August 16, the national death toll had exploded to 172,056. Ergo, in the past 74 days 64,408 Yankees have succumbed to the Wuhan flu. If these dead people could sit upright, they would fill to capacity the seats in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, Oxford, Mississippi, the home gridiron of the Fighting Rebels of Ole Miss, the 62nd largest stadium in the US.


Everyone that has perished in the US due to the pandemic could be comfortably seated in just two of the many stadiums in the country. 

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Mississippi To Get A New State Flag!

The current state flag of Mississippi, adopted in 1894, will probably lose its official status and be replaced through legislation in a matter of days, although there doesn't seem to be a consensus on what a new flag might look like. At any rate, it won't contain the infamous stars and bars that accompanied Confederate troops in the War Between the States.

Ultimately, what's all this flag mumbo-jumbo about anyway? Flags have been around for a long, long time. Originally, they were used to visually identify military units and ships, both to their own forces and, in some cases to the enemy. Later, as nation states evolved, flags were used to represent entire countries. This was militarily necessary until various forms of electrical and electronic communication were developed. Today, the only real use of flags in a military context are patches sewn on individual soldier's uniforms to identify them under the terms of international law. In any other context flags are anachronistic remnants of another age that are held dear and represent both jingoistic loyalty and a signal to others. Nobody needs a flag for anything.

Flags do provide something of a clue to what was going on in some people's minds at a certain time. For instance, let's examine the Minnesota state flag. 


The complex, generally inartistic and crappy flag was originally created in 1893. The state was flagless for 35 anonymous years until one was required for the Chicago World's Fair. Modified since, its most important features are in the very center of the banner. A mounted native American is bounding away, presumably into the sunset, and leaving his home to provide opportunity to an immigrant farmer plowing up the virgin top soil to plant turnips or spuds. Behind him are his musket, powder horn, and axe. Maybe the firearm is there in case a deer wanders by and provides the opportunity for a few meals but it's more likely that the weapon is meant to discourage or dispatch one of the former land holders quitting the country.

Flag-bearing Minnesotans, if they are even aware of the details of their banner, must, by displaying it, celebrate the conquest of the upper Mississippi Valley, the expulsion or death of most of the native population, and its absorption into an organization that allows no members to resign.    

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Hunter S. Thompson Talks About The George Floyd Aftermath

The Daily Beast

     "American law enforcement procedures have never been designed to control large groups of citizens in rebellion, but to protect the social structure against specifically criminal acts, or persons. The underlying assumption has always been that the police and the citizenry form a natural alliance against evil and dangerous crooks, who should be arrested on sight and shot if they resist.

There are indications, however, that this 'natural alliance' might be going the way of the Maginot Line. More and more often the police are finding themselves in conflict with whole blocs of the citizenry, none of them criminals in the traditional sense of the word, but many as potentially dangerous--to the police--as any armed felon. This is particularly true in situations involving groups of Negroes and teen-agers. The Watts riot in Los Angeles in 1965 was a classic example of this new alignment. The whole community turned on the police with such a vengeance that the National Guard had to be called in. Yet few of the rioters were criminals--at least not until the riot began. It may be that America is developing a whole new category of essentially social criminals. . . persons who threaten the police and the traditional social structure even when they are breaking no law. . .because they view The Law with contempt and the police with distrust, and this abiding resentment can explode without warning at the slightest provocation."

Hunter S. Thompson, Hell's Angels, Ballantine Books, 1967.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Unlocked Horse Pull

Rural Wisconsinites have taken the pandemic panic with a grain of salt and have decided to get back to normality by embracing a traditional summer activity, the draft horse pulling contest. Horse enthusiasts gathered near the Mecca of the sport, Mondovi, for an afternoon of competition in a contest that predates the internal combustion engines that now propel farm machinery. For a few hours on a beautiful day the bizarre condition of the country could be ignored.

Hometown lady teamster Becky Loomis lines out her team of heavy-weight Belgians on the way to winning their class.

Josh Wickham's gorgeous team of perfectly-matched Belgians won the light-weight class.

Gentle giants wait their turn to pull the loaded stone boat the required 27'6".

The Wickham team's winning pull. 

Saturday, June 13, 2020

NASCAR Bans the Confederate Flag

ESPN Senior Writer Ryan McGee has enpixelated an opinion piece on the sports network's website celebrating NASCAR's banishment of the battle flag of the Confederate states from its property. Of course, this gesture is meant to recognize the evil of slavery, abolished in the US 155 years ago, and to point out that since slavery was an integral part of southern culture, all references to that culture must be eradicated. He neglects to mention some other things.

First, slavery was not only found in the southern colonies, then states, but also in the north. In fact, the transport of enslaved humans from Africa was primarily an activity engaged in by New England-based enterprises. In the 17th century thousands of Irish slaves were also taken from their home island and sent to the New World for unpaid toil for their English colonial masters. After the American Revolution, or, as it might be called, "The Great Treason", the hallowed product of Betsy Ross flew over not just the sainted North but also the slave states. The history of the Stars and Stripes and slavery is far longer than that of the Confederate flag. During most of that period slavery was legal and practiced by many of the most respected figures of that era. Additionally, slavery was common all over the world, as it remains today in many places.

The money quote from McGee's article is this:  It means the most shameful blight on the pages of the history of the United States, and that's no small achievement.

Well, that's an opinion, and a common one at that. Dropping atomic bombs on Japanese teen-age girls walking to school is a contender. Taking over the Republic of Hawaii and making it a US possession might be another. It's actually kind of a long list. But the real top of the list is occupied by the undeniable near genocide and subsequent treatment of the native American population. 

The immediate objective of the European invaders of North America was wealth, gold, fish, fur, timber and property. The fact that these things already belonged to someone else simply meant that they had to be wrestled away by force of numbers and technological superiority. The newcomers also were able to take advantage of fatal diseases for which the native Americans had no immunity or cure. Those few that survived were killed or rounded up and incarcerated in the least hospitable areas of the continent, as official records point out. This policy, which continues to this day, is conveniently ignored by those deploring systemic racism.

It's a most interesting fact that in the aftermath of the War Between the States the victorious Union formed military units made up of newly-freed slaves known as the Buffalo Soldiers. The purpose of these warriors was to resume military duties that had been greatly reduced during the conflict. Those duties were the subjugation and extermination of the plains Indians under the leadership of Gen. Phil Sheridan, statues of whom loom over parks and traffic circles all over the country. Native Americans weren't granted citizenship by the Great White Father until 1924 and later. Once millions of them lived in the new world, now less than 1% of the US population is considered to be of native American ancestry.

On the other hand, descendants of black slaves are the second largest ethnic group in the country, making up almost 13% of the total population. A man of mixed race but considered black has been elected president of the country twice. A substantial number of his administration were also black. Two African-Americans have served on the US Supreme Court.There are currently 55 black members of the US Congress. At this time there are  four members of the US House of Representatives that have native affiliations.