Tuesday, February 27, 2007


Vice President Cheney escaped an attempt on his life today in Afghanistan. I read it and was glad that he was not injured or killed, the same as I would be glad that any other vice president escaped danger. Then I began to hear about the ugly things that were being said on the Internet, about how sorry people were that the enemy missed Mr. Cheney. These bloggers and writers expressed hatred for a man they did not even know.

I remember hearing about children stamping their feet and saying, “I hate you1” to their mothers or fathers. But we expect children to grow out of those attitudes. Apparently some adults did not. When adults express such hatred for each other, serious fireworks can often follow. That is why it is important to learn to control ourselves at an early age.

If I were a psychologist or other practitioner of the dark arts, I might wonder about the relationship between these writers of hatred and their parents. But I am not. All I know is that hatred is unhealthy.

One other thing: a person who hates his country is very likely to hate its leaders.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Challenge to Daylight Saving Time

This very day I was asked a very important question by a fan who loves my blog (yes, there is one). She thought I was wise enough to know all kinds of things and asked,

“What is the purpose of Daylight Savings Time?” It is a timely question because sooner that usual we are going to have to make an adjustment. March 11, I believe.

My correspondent, who is old enough to enjoy telling her age, has the initials MM. I refer to her as MM and imagine that she is really Marilyn Monroe because I have seen pictures of her as a young lady.

Here is the wisdom I laid on her about the purpose of Daylight Savings Time:

Dear MM,

The sole purpose of Daylight Savings Time is to refresh one's memory about the location of each clock and timer in his or her abode. I seem to have 43 of the things. Twice a year I am forced to reacquaint myself with all the devices as I reset them. They lurk in strange, hard to-get-to places in dark corners, such as on top of the water conditioner on which dwells black spiders that have red symbols of death on their shiny bodies.

It takes me about a week to change every timing device during which period many things go bump in the night and angry mail delivery people get wet in the day when the sprinklers go off inappropriately. It is always a race to see if I can find them before there is a lawsuit filed against me.

If you need any more help on this or any other topic, please let me know.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

An Old War Story

Pryor House, ca 1859

In a January 13 post to this blog I wrote “Homage to Writers” in which I said that the poet/novelist Wendell Berry and I were researching a project. His great-grandfather Frank Pollard and my great-grandfather Will Pryor both helped Confederate Gen. John Hunt Morgan escape from the Yankees in December of 1863. Pollard and Pryor may not have known each other; they lived several miles apart.

Pollard helped first. Morgan and his aide Captain Hines then went to Pryor’s house. Hines knew Pryor before the War, and after it they served together on the Kentucky Supreme Court. The two Confederate warriors went back to Tennessee where a new army was formed and they continued to torment Yankee forces until Morgan was killed. Hines became a sort of “super-spy” for the CSA.

In the course of investigation, I came across records of Camp Chase near Columbus, Ohio. It was a prison for captured Confederate soldiers and political prisoners. Camp Chase was the prison where Will Pryor was sent in 1862. He was a prominent lawyer in central Kentucky and a political prisoner. (My November 28, 2006 post dealt with the letter President Lincoln wrote about paroling Will Pryor.) Camp Chase was also the prison from which General Morgan and some of his officers escaped on November 27, 1863.

The records of Camp Chase were revealing. They included self-congratulatory documents about what a fine Christian prison it was, as well as letters from prisoners who told what a hell-hole it was. There were also official records each month telling how many and what kinds of prisoners were kept there, and how many escapes occur ed. But I am not sure how accurate the records were. During the month of November, 1863 when Gen. Morgan and five others escaped, the official count of escapes was zero.

There were side issues as well. Columbus was near the Congressional district (if not in it) where Clement Laird Vallandigham (the Copperhead) was elected to the House. Thus there was in the prison record a compilation of election results and some comments. The recorder was against the election of Vallandigham, so the comments were not favorable. Since President Lincoln brought about the destruction of some 200 printing presses of newspapers in the North with whom he disagreed, very few favorable comments about Vallandigham are still in the records. Because I am a first cousin, several times removed, of Vallandigham, I take notice of these comments.

This search into history has been rewarding as it has been fun. It has reinforced the lore handed down by both Wendell’s and my families. When Kentucky Justice Thomas H. Hines wrote about his adventure in 1891, he included the names of those who had helped him and Morgan escape. Pollard and Pryor were both included. Few seem to have known about Pollard’s assistance but Pryor had to flee to Canada until after the war was over. Pryor took the rap.

Far from over, the research will no doubt lead to some kind of article or book. At the moment I do not know which of us will write it. And I do not care as long as the story is told.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Global Cooling Off Period Needed

It is amusing to watch and read the Media reporting on Global Warming. The latest position is that we should all believe in “Warming Caused by Humans” because of scientific consensus. That is, a number of scientists have agreed that the earth is warming, that the warming is caused by human activity and that the warming is bad.

They are laboring under the notion that consensus = fact. Some of us think, no, we know, that consensus = groupthink. Groupthink is seldom a good substitute for fact. Groupthink is not even scientific.

Can 50,000 Frenchmen be wrong? Of course they can be wrong. The history of Science is full of episodes about the lone individual who recognized truth when he saw it, and paid the price when he faced the wrath of groupthinkers. James Clerk Maxwell, for instance, was almost universally sneered at by scientists when he connected light with electromagnetism.

No doubt some scientists are convinced that global warming is caused by humans and that it is bad. One can rightfully ask, “How many of these scientists are meteorologists?” And the answer is not many. Few real meteorologists are so dogmatic as to make such dire predictions that show up in the Media. In fact, some meteorologists have dared to question groupthink.

So there are two sides to this question, after all. One is groupthink and the other is heresy. There are always more groupthinkers than heretics, so consensus is always going to be powerful.

What is the answer? Will groupthink finally be found to be correct?

Clearly the average man is due a cooling-off period while each side searches for very hard to obtain facts. It is too early to conclude anything.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Hillary Clinton & Hugo Chavez

Hillary and Hugo have more in common than their initials and choice of careers. They both want to steal the profits of successful companies. Hillary said recently that she would take Exxon’s profits and use them for programs of her own devising. This is very hard to find on the Internet news sources because the Left finds her statement embarrassing. But she said it, and she meant it. Hugo the dictator just does it.

It is important to remember a few things about profits:

Profits are not Hillary’s to take. Income does not belong to the government.

Hillary’s proposed theft (a wrong) is not justified by the use she would put the funds (ends do not justify means).

Exxon’s profits occurred in spite of falling oil prices, indicating an adept management, not dishonesty of some kind.

Profit is not a dirty word in a capitalistic society—only to the Left.

Many “little guys” depend on the profits of Exxon and other companies for their incomes.

Profits of successful companies are already taxed twice.

If the price of success is governmental seizure, then expect a slower economy and less tax revenues. People react to governmental pressure.

Hillary’s reactionary purpose runs counter to a free society; it tells us a great deal about the real character of the woman and her Socialistic biases.