I have absolutely no sympathy for Anthony Comstock, a man described by a biographer as having “no conspicuous talents and...boundless energy”. His brother's death from wounds suffered in the three days of slaughter at Gettysburg, compelled Anthony to join the Union Army. But chance sent the Connecticut farm boy far from the crucial battles around Richmond, and he spent a year of isolation and boredom guarding the backwaters of St. Augustine, Florida. Most of his fellow soldiers considered him a bible thumping prig, who instead of simply refusing it, pompously poured his daily whiskey ration out on the ground. And the great lesson this “religio-monomaniac” took from the war that ended slavery, was that his fellow soldiers were addicted to pornography.
Is there any difference between advocating violence, and using the advocation of violence to make a point? If there is, and I believe there is, it is too subtle a difference for a machine to take notice of. But a human can, if they choose to. Is there a difference between mocking a morally superior position, and taking a morally superior position? Again, a machine might not be capable of detecting the difference, but a human could choose to notice the difference. Well, the powers that run the Daily Kos have decided it is easier to trust the machine So this, today, will be my final new post on this web site.
I am assured by fundamentalist Christians that six thousand years ago God created the world in six days. Of course, six thousand years ago a day was about the shortest period of time humans could measure accurately. And the mystical number six is also the number of sides to the electromagnetic spaces that give cell phones their name. Within each 10 square mile cell surrounding every tower, 832 separate frequencies are used, two frequencies for every individual phone conversation. For the last half century the preferred method for defining these frequencies, the time between each electromagnetic wave crest, has been to hit a ball of 10 million pure cesium atoms with a microwave beam. The cesium then produces one energy wave crest 9 billion, 192 million, 631 thousand 770 times every second and will maintain that exact frequency, it is estimated, for about 20 million years. And 20 million beats 6 thousand any day of the week.
FRIDAY, MAY 15, 1863
In the pre-dawn darkness on the outskirts of Edwards Station, Mississippi , 17,000 Confederate infantry in three divisions set out south eastwards for the crossroads of Dillion. Leading the force is General Pemberton himself. He is looking for the supply trains of Grant's army, which he believes must be strung out between Grand Gulf on the Mississippi and the Mississippi state capital at Jackson, which Grant has just captured. But a mile and a half out of Edward's Station, Pemberton's three divisions are stopped at the ford over tiny Bakers Creek. The usually placid stream has been swollen by the downpour from the 13/14 May. The crossing is so flooded, it is unusable. Because of a lack of simple scouting, Pemberton's little army is forced to backtrack 1 ½ miles to cross the same stream via the bridge of the Jackson/Vicksburg road. Then the column must detour another four miles south before rejoining the road they want to be on. Wirt Adam’s cavalry now leads, followed by Loring’s and then Bowen’s Division, and finally Stevenson’s division, followed by the army’s supply trains. Pemberton does not know it, but this delay is a lucky break for his army.
I think it no accident that the greatest politicians have always had a strong sense of humor – Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, and now, perhaps, Barbara Emery, should she go through with her plan to run for mayor of the 67,000 residents of Rock Hill, South Carolina. This transplanted New Yorker says she is not just another political clown. Debra is a professional. She told the Rock Hill Herald, “I am a clown, but I'm also a serious businesswoman,” so it seems possible she might be be open to using the following line on her yard signs, which I offer to her, free of charge; “All politicians are clowns. Why not try a professional?”.
I can prove Gaius Caligula was the stupidest Roman Emperor of them all. According to Tacitus, who was never wrong, after having been stabbed by his own bodyguards in 41 A.D., the lunatic’s last words were, “I am still alive!” Playing opossum never seems to have occurred to him. Neither did offering money to his assassins. Listen, if you are already falling to your death, what could be the harm in trying to fly? Last words such as those are self defining; you are dead because you deliver them. Consider Billy the Kid’s last words, delivered into a darkened room, which allowed Sheriff Pat Garritt, who was waiting in the room armed with a shotgun, to identify the shadow figure. Said Billy,“Who’s there?”
I remember a proverb that says opportunity knocks only once. That may be true, but it is also true that having heard the knock you still have to get off your behind and open the door. And, in one of the most amazing twists of history, when the scientists at the Royal observatory at Greenwich, England heard that knock they were mightily annoyed. So they pawned off the job of dealing with the disturbance to one of their servants. He turned that disturbance into a career. In fact he made three careers out of simply telling the time.
FRIDAY, MAY 8, 1863
Sherman’s Corps, at last on the eastern side of the Mississippi river, made a force march from Grand Gulf all the way to Harkinson’s Ferry, almost 20 miles on its first full day ashore. In front of it General McClernand’s Corps advances to the Big Sandy Creek. And General McPherson’s Corps was this day edging toward Utica, Mississippi.
I have no doubt that when Stephen Puter put two $1,000 bills on the Senator's desk, John Mitchell (above) promptly picked them up. At his trial John denied he took the bribe, but nothing in his previous life even hints at the possibility that the Oregon scoundrel would have left that much cash unattended so close to his own pocket even for an instant. He was a garden variety sociopath, raised to high office by his ambition. Noted one Oregon newspaper, “His political methods are indeed pitched on a sufficiently low scale, but not below his methods as a lawyer.” That did not make him unusual for a gilded age politician or lawyer. It was the reliability of his depravity that made him a star.
FRIDAY, MAY 1, 1863
In Northern Virginia, Union General Joseph Hooker crosses the Rapidan River and throws his army against Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. But after splitting the Rebels between the town of Fredericksburg and the tiny crossroads of Chancellorsville Clearing, Hooker halts his advance, hoping Lee will take the opportunity to throw his troops against the now dug in Union army to his front. Lee does not oblige.
Meanwhile, Col. Benjamin Grierson’s nine hundred and fifty Midwesterners are just west of Magnolia, Mississippi when they stumble into Rebel Cavalry under Major James De Baun. After a brief skirmish both sides withdraw.
As dawn breaks over the Mississippi River valley the largest amphibious operation in American history prior to the 1944 invasion of Normandy, begins. The 24th and 46th Indiana regiments of McClerand’s 13th Corp are the first to rush ashore at Bruinsburg, south of Port Gibson.
I admit that eventually we must all bow to the will of genetics, even if we aren’t common cattle. And when you come up against a human family like the Smith’s of Glastonbury, Connecticut, any argument of nature verses nurture seems almost pointless. Zephaniah Hollister Smith graduated an ordained minister from Yale, but he gave it up because he did not believe in mixing prophets with profits. Allegedly he excommunicated his entire congregation, and they returned the favor. Swinging to the other extreme Zephaniah then became a successful lawyer. His wife, Hannah Hadassah Hickock Smith was a linguist, a mathematician and a poet, all the more amazing an achievement since she lived in the second half of the 18th century when women were little more than chattel. The couple shared a fascination for astronomy, a passion for the abolition of slavery, and five girls.
I believe it is the most famous magic story of all time. It’s the source of a dozen movie plots and it far surpasses the tale of "The Great Coullew", a magician in Lorraine, France, in 1613, who was beaten to death by his ticked off assistant. Or even the 1922 story that came out of historic Deadwood, South Dakota, when the magician “The Black Wizard Of The West” was murdered by his wife, who switched the blank round in his “Bullet Catch” gag with a real bullet. This one, the story of "The Original Chinese Conjurer" is a real hum-dinger, and its true.
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