JUNE 2017

JUNE  2017
J.P. Morgan as a young man in his own words - "The Public Be Damned."

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Friday, July 27, 2012

DEFINING A POLITICIAN

I don't say you have to be crazy to be a politician, but displaying a little screwball logic - “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice” - can solidify your base. On the other hand you don't want voters suspecting you might be completely loony - like President-of- the-Moon Newt Gingrich.  Now, navigating a path between those two alternatives can be tricky at times. For example, in the 1980's a 5'1” tall combative fire cracker named Ruthann Aron used her obsessive-compulsive drive and her pugnacious combative nature to make a fortune in real estate development.   She didn't make a lot of friends, of course. Her urologist husband Barry admitted, “She gets in people’s faces in a very straightforward way and doesn’t tap dance too much.” Still the lady had big dreams, even of becoming a United States Senator. Ruthann's first attempt resulted in defeat, but that was not unusual. She could have recovered. But then she became the first candidate on record to actually sue her opponent for slander. Equating political mud slinging with slander - that was when Ruthann went from being odd to being out to lunch, And then she went from erratic to homicidal. Perhaps we should review the details of her story, so any would-be politicians out there can take notes.
Our lesson begins in the “D.C.” adjacent enclave of Montgomery county, Maryland, one of the richest and best educated counties in America. Everybody here, it seems came from some place else – the county was even named for a Revolutionary War hero who never set foot in the state. This is one of those big ponds where little fish either get eaten or grow big  And it has not voted for a Republican Presidential candidate since Ronald Reagan retired. And, as Barry Rascovar noted for the Washington Post in mid-August of 1994, “...the last time there was a truly contested GOP Senate primary was in the early 1960s.” It was here that our diminutive mother of two faced her first test when, after just two years on the County Planning Board, Ruthann Aron decided to run for the United States Senate as a Republican.
It was a clever move. The dysfunctional Maryland G.O.P had little hope of beating the popular Democrat, Paul Sarbanes who had held the seat since 1976 and seemed a shoe-in for re-election .But even if she lost the primary, Ruthann could still lay a foundation for a future in politics. The only drawback was that there were seven candidates vying for the Republican nomination, so Ruthann decided to stand out, to concentrate in attacking her best known opponent, multimillionaire candy heir and ex-Senator from Tennessee, the handsome Bill Brock III.
Ruthann spent nearly a quarter of a million dollars of her own money buying radio ads, in which two “hillbillies” laughed about the way Maryland voters were being fooled by the “tax-raising, carpetbagging, career politician”, Senator Brock.   The ex-Senator chose to not even mention Ruthann in his few radio ads. No since giving the little lady free publicity. Then, a poll released Labor Day weekend found Brock leading, as expected, with 23% of the vote. But in second place and well within the margin of error for a tie was Ruthann, at 20%.
With just two weeks to go before the primary, Brock decided he could no longer ignore the tiny upstart, and called an afternoon press conference for Thursday, September 8, 1994, on the Rockville courthouse square. As the Baltimore Sun noted, “The minutes preceding yesterday's news conference had the feel of a mock thriller....About 2 p.m. the (Ruthann) Aron camp entered...About 10 minutes later, Mr. Brock arrived with his contingent of sign-wavers.” The Washington Post observed, “As reporters and photographers soaked up the awkward silence, the two camps stared mutely, and the whirring of (film) cameras was all that was heard.”
According to the Post, the biggest bomb shell at the press conference was dropped by a Brock supporter, former U.S. representative Marjorie Holt, who mentioned “...the aura of fraud and breach of contract that constantly surrounds the other candidate.” After that the press conference devolved into two competing impromptu press conferences, during which Brock built on Holt's charge. According to the Post, “She has been convicted by a jury of fraud, more than once," (Brock) told reporters, who bounced between the two candidates like pin balls.” Brock backed up the theatrical press conference with $220,000 in new radio ads, claiming that Ruthann had been convicted of fraud “more than once”, and had to pay “hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines”. Said his narrator, "Before Ruthann Aron starts attacking anybody, maybe she ought to look in the mirror.”
On Tuesday, September 13, Ruthann lost the primary by 50,000 votes. Even worse, a poll released just before the election showed that rather than laying a foundation for her future, her campaign style had left her in a hole by raising her negative ratings to 16%. Her reputation was not even helped when Block was easily beaten by the Democrat Sarbanes in the November general election. So, finding herself in a hole, Ruthann decided to keep digging. She sued Brock for defamation of character. Nobody had ever done that before.
It took over a year for what the Sun called Ruthann's “frivolous lawsuit” to work its way to trial, which it did in early 1996. “Jurors have been schooled”, wrote the Sun, “in subliminal suggestion...the role of Russian composer Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky in an effective campaign commercial....harked to the tonal difference between a major chord and a slamming jail door, listened again and again to the definition of "Ronald Reagan's 11th Commandment" (Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican) and been told that staff members look at members of Congress the way undertakers look at corpses.”
Chief witness for Brock was Arthur G. Kahn, lawyer in a 1984 suit against Ruthann's real estate company, Research Incorporated. Kahn testified his clients had invested in a shopping mall Ruthann was promoting. The mall had never been built, but she still sold the rights to buy the project to a third party for $200,000, and kept the money herself.  The jury awarded her partners $175,000, which Ruthann paid only after Kahn agreed to request the judge vacate the verdict from the record. It had been a civil suit, and she had lost, but there was no conviction, and the verdict had been vacated, so technically there was no record, so technically what Brock had said at the press conference had been untrue ...but the new jury decided that was splitting hairs, and, besides, they just did not like Ruthann very much. Who did? They found for Brock. Ruthann had lost again. And now she was really, double-dog-done in politics
And that should have been the end of Ruthann's public activities, unless she had thrown herself into charity work or earned a Nobel Peace Prize or something. Instead, on June 7, 1997, Ruthann Aron was arrested for hiring a hit man to murder her old nemesis Arthur Kahn, and, as an afterthought, her own husband Barry Aron, as well.  They had her on tape with an undercover cop spelling out the victim's names. They had video of her dropping the down payment off at a hotel. It was an open and shut case.
Ruthann insisted at both of her trials (the first jury hung, 11-1 for conviction) that she was crazy. And it's hard to disagree with that. The why and whereof is irrelevant for purposes of this discussion. Let's just say she was nuts and let it go by saying the jury found her guilty anyway. At her sentencing Ruthann's lawyer pointed out what her career in politics had cost the little lady. "She's lost her credibility, her reputation, her family as she knew it, her dignity, her lifestyle, her husband, almost everything she had”, he said She also got three years in jail with a suspended sentence of ten more years hanging over her head.
Barry the urologist not only filed for divorce, he sued Ruthann for $7.5 million, and she counter-sued him for $24 million. Some people never learn. But it could have been worse. Just before her arrest, Ruthann had been considering a switch to the Democratic party. And wouldn't that have been an interesting second career. And the lesson from our little tale is that if you sleep with a politician, you may not find love, but you will defiantly get screwed. Those people are nuts.
- 30 -

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

OH, NO YOU DON'T


I was speeding north out of Los Angeles on the 5 freeway on a typical Southern California morning, when a flash of silver in the cloudless sky caught my attention The freeway was elevated above the valley floor, straight as an arrow, and I was doing 70 mph in my girlfriend's 1976 Chevrolet Chevette hatchback. I had an unobstructed view of the sky, but when I looked again there was nothing but pale blue. Then it flashed again, and again. And just as I started to ponder what it might be, my car's right rear window vent caught the air, snapped off, flipped in the slipstream and shattered on the pavement behind me. That sort of distracted me, and the driver behind me. And three hours later when I got home the first thing I told my girlfriend Samantha (now my wife), was the story of the busted window. As an afterthought a couple of hours later, I mentioned that I seen a UFO.
Any object you see in the sky which you cannot identify is a UFO. I didn't know what I had seen, but I knew I had not seen a flying saucer, as in something built by aliens to visit our world. I'm not crazy. And while watching the ten o'clock news that night my UFO was identified as a small home-built experimental “light” aircraft, flying out of Whiteman Airport, in Pacoma.   The engine had suddenly quit, and the plane had spiraled into the ground, sadly, killing the pilot. Luckily, no one on the ground was injuried. Every time the spinning plane's wings caught the light, they flashed in my direction, otherwise it was too small and too far away for me to have seen. But what were the odds that I would have been in the right position and looking in the right direction during the 20 seconds it took that plane to fall three thousand feet? My sighting of that UFO was an extremely unlikely event, but far more likely than an alien spaceship visiting the earth.
Twenty percent of Amercians expect aliens to first land in Washington, D.C., which means that 20% of Americans are, in my opinion, too stupid to find their own feet in the dark. About one in three Americans believe in flying saucers. Almost half of the rest are too wussy to admit they have an opinion, while fewer than two in ten are brave enough to assert unequivactly that UFO's are not alien spacecraft. I say all of this not because I believe I am right, but because I know I am.
Just to leave the earth you have to be going 25,000 miles an hour, which is a very expensive and complicated thing to do. Now, aliens might come from a smaller planet with a lower escape velocity, but in that case they would have evolved smaller and weaker than we did. Leaving home is always difficult. . And as difficult as it is to go 7 miles a minute just to get off this rock, in terms of space travel, that is like parallel parking.
From the earth to the sun (also called an Astronomical Unit) is 93 million miles. It would take 176 years to drive to the sun in Sam's Chevette, and you would need a second driver and special glasses. Call them sun glasses. Neptune is 30.5 AU's from the sun, so just to get out of our solar system you would have to drive for 5,369 years. And that wouldn't get you out of your own backyard, speaking universally. The nearest star to our own sun, in other words the house next door, is Proxima Centuri, which is 15, 300 AU from our sun, which means it would take you 2, 692,800 years to drive there. And at 30 miles to the gallon on highway, that would be a very expensive trip for a Chevette.
Of course, the assumption is that aliens have warp-drive, or hyperdrive or star-drive to let them travel faster than the speed of light, and on a Saturday night future teenages will zip down to the McDonald's on Proxima Centuri just to hang out. And I wish that were true, I really do. I am a big Star Strek Next Generation fan. (Dr. Crusher was such a MLF.) But it ain't gonna happen, folks.
Let's say you wanted to build an intersellar Chevette. They weighed about 2,000 pounds, give or take a rear window vent or two, and in order get that hatchback into orbit would take 57,000 pounds of thrust, or a 28.5 to one ratio of thurst to weight. Now that ratio drops quickly the further you get from the center of the earth. But if you want to go faster the ratio starts to go back up, because - and hold on to your hat here – .
Fueling up your 2,000 pound Chevette to reach the speed of light would require 69 billion, 192 million pounds of thrust... except, as you go faster, the Chevette gets heavier. Which means you need more thurst, leading to more mass, requiring more thrust, making more weight, requiring more thrust, etc. ad nauseum. And remember, the heavier the Chevette gets, the amount of additional thrust required is always sqaured, (E=mc2) until the additional thrust required is infinite, more power than exists in the entire universe. And you reach that long before you get to the speed of light. In other words, not only can't you get there from here, you can't get there from anywhere.
Of course, science fiction writers envision a way of changing the rules of the game, by warping space, or using a convienent worm hole, but you might as well say going down the rabbit hole with Alice will get you to Proxima Centuri in five minutes flat. It might but nobody has actually seen a worm hole
I suspect that like a club where friendly beautiful naked woman gyrate for you, the enterance price requires you to hand over all your credit cards. And without a credit card, the women are no longer interested in dancing for you. Just getting into a worm hole requires you to get squished flat in a gravity field, or bombarded with enough radiation to make you transparent. Can I prove that? I don't need to. I'm not the one claiming there is a magical way of getting something for nothing out of the universe. You might was well ask a Republican for a universal health insurance.
Is there life on other planets? Of course there is. On this planet there is life boiling out of vents in the deepest part of the ocean, living things that have never seen sunlight, that find oxigen posionous, that eat acid and petroleum, and then poop hydrogen. Why wouldn't there be life on other planets? With an estimated 6 sextillion planets in the universe (that's a 6 followed by 21 zeros), it becomes certain that there is life out there, somewhere. But is also certain, they have not visited us because they cannot travel faster than the speed of light. Unlikely does not mean impossible, but impossible does not mean unlikely. It means impossible. And traveling faster than the speed of light is not impossible.
- 30 

MAY I HAVE A WORD?

I guess it would be okay to say the whole thing started when somebody noticed that according to the criminal code of Boston, ""No person, unless duly licensed by the mayor and aldermen, shall ring, or cause to be rung, any bell, or other instrument, in any street, to give notice of the exercise of any business or calling...under a penalty of not less than three nor more than twenty dollars for each offense.” This bureaucratic banality inspired the formation, on October 26, 1838, of the Anti-Bell-Ringing Society, or in abbreviated form, the ABRS.
It was a joke, of course, an inside multi-layered joke - a joke about a joke about a joke. In this cause the first joke, to the jesters,  was the anit-bell ringing law itself. And the second joke was in the group's name. It wasn't an anti-bell ringing society, it was actually a pro-bell ringing society; sort of the way “Working Class Americans for Fair Taxes" aren't any of those things either. And the third joke was that there wasn't anybody actually in the anti-bell ringing society.
See, during the 1830's there were 43 newspapers in the city of Boston, from the weekly Advertiser to the Daily Wig. As you can imagine, the competition was rather severe.  Each of their publishers had an axe to grind, from conspiracy theories ( the Anti-Masonic Christian Herald) to benevolent rich people (the National Philanthropist), or they carved out special interest niches (the New England Farmer). But the capitalist imperative eventually drove all the successful newspapers to copy each other, just as reality television does today. A by-product of this leveling process was an intellectual rebellion by those who consumed the same papers but needed to convince their fellow readers that they were smarter than the average yokels who read this drivel. Karl Marx referred to this as the "Club Effect", when he said, "I have a mind to join a club and beat you over the head with it." Or was that Groucho Marx?  Anyway...
There were many inside-joke clubs at the time in Boston, like the Association of Presidents of Bankrupt Insurance Companies, or the Mammoth Cod Association, or the Flouring Committee. Most of these existed merely to allow their wise-acre creators to announce non-existent meetings for these non-existent clubs in the newspapers. Some of them, like the Anti-Bell Ringing Society went so far as to announce platitudinous field trips, which nobody actually showed up for because there was actually no body in the clubs. Everybody who got the joke was supposed to read these announcements and just laugh, not pack their bags.
In November of 1838 the ABRS went so far as to file suit in court to overturn the anti-bell ringing ordinance. And although they never paid the filing fee (and their case was never on the docket) the founders, whoever they or he was, kept the joke going by arguing with their non-existent critics that they had as much right to gather together as "any other moral and benevolent societies in existence". Did I mention their critics were also non-existent?  According to the stream of press releases, issued by the Lord High Chancellor of the ABRS, the group had elected a "Professor of Bell-ecution", and a “Benign Reliever of the Bell-y-ache”. And at their first mythical anniversary dinner party they (myth-ically) had toasted the ladies as, “the only belles the members of this society will ever ring to.”  In mid-March of 1839 they even took a mythical train trip to New York City. The term "ad nasseum" leaps to mind. Are you LOL yet?
Taking their cue from these latter day “You Tube-erites” the newspaper columnists launched their own abbreviated inside-jokes, abbreviated because they relied on initialism, also known as acronyms. In this alternative inside joke universe the initials KY were substituted for “know yuse”, which had already been substituted for “no use”. Ah, if this had been the late 1830's you and I would have been ROTFL right now. Parenthetically, this buffoonery was intensified by including an explanation of the ersatz slang gag in parentheses immediately following the acronym, as it “N.C. ('nuff said), when the writer might have simply written “enough said” instead, or “GTT (gone to Texas), or PDQ (pretty d-mn quick) and SP (small potatoes) or AWALY (Are we all laughing yet?).
e.g.; in June of 1838 the Boston Morning Post (one of the participating newspapers) carried the following note: "Eliot Brown, Esq., Secretary of the Boston Young Men's Society for Meliorating the Condition of the Indians, F.A.H. (fell at Hoboken, N.J.) on Saturday last at 4 o'clock, p.m. in a duel W.O.O.O.F.C. (with one of our first citizens.) What measures will be taken by the Society in consequence of this heart rending event, R.T.B.S. (remains to be seen)."  Nobody was actually shot, except of course the writer who was shooting his mouth off, but i.e,. removed from their environment these abbreviated jokes shriveled up and just died. But while they were in vogue, they reduced the world to a 18th century MMORPG (Massive Multi- player Online Role Playing Game). Ah, LOL et al. for the initiated. All others must pay cash.
On March 23, 1839 the Post (again) carried a follow-up story on page two, concerning that mythical field trip the ABRS did not take to New York City. The editor of the Providence, Rhode Island "Mercury" had  noticed that on the day announced, nobody from the ABRS had been on the Boston to New York train, and noted so in his newspaper. The Boston Sophisticates were in stitches. Clearly the poor philistine from Providence was not in on the joke. But the Post's columnist, Mr. Charles Gordon Greene, continued the gag by responding as follows: "We said not a word about our deputation passing "through the city" of Providence.—We said our brethren were going to New York... and they did go... The "Chairman of the Committee on Charity Lecture Bells," is one of the deputation, and perhaps if he should return to Boston, via Providence, he of the Journal, and his train-band, would have his "contribution box," et ceteras, o.k. (all correct) —and cause the corks to fly, like sparks, upward."
Okay, ignoring Mr. Greenes' convoluted sentence structure for now, the corks were flying because (mythical) champagne bottles had been opened by the (mythical) band of raucous anti-bell ringing acolytes, in their mythical celebration. And reading all this, the non-mythical readers of the Post were by now having a jolly good time at the expense of the rubes from Providence. And I suspect they were having such a good time that they failed to notice the momentous event which had just occurred - the birth of a new word.
Not the conception, certainly, which may have occurred orally a hundred years before, maybe a thousand years before. But this was the moment of birth, March 23, 1839, the first appearance in print that has so far been uncovered of the word "Okay" or OK. The word was so new, is still so new even today, that its spelling has yet to be standardized. And it all happened because the humorists in Boston had become cannibalistic, consuming their own jokes.
But OK would probably have died aborning (or a-boring) had not it been saved by the Presidential election of 1840, which pitted the incumbent Democrat Martin Van Buren against the Wig, William Henry Harrison. You might think the joke here was that Harrison would win the election but died just a month after his interminable inaugural address. But it turns out the real joke was on the loser, Van Buren, who took only 7 states, to Harrison's 19. But that's OK, because Van Buren's political loss was a big win for theoretical lexicography.
You see, the Democrat's campaign manager, Amos Kendall, decided it would be a good idea to emphasise his man's roots. Van Buren had been born in the tiny village of Kinderhook, New York, a bastion of Dutch culture in a rising sea of Englishmen, making their man an ethnic minority. And believing this was just the image the American people were looking for in a politician, Kendall decided to give him the nickname of "Old Kinderhook", calling attention to both his age and his different-nesss at the same time. And he tied it all together with that trendy new word from Boston.  They even had campaign buttons printed up reading simply "OK", and started OK clubs, urging supporters to say, "I'm voting for OK".
In response the Wigs insisted that OK actually stood for "Out of cash" or "Out of credit", revealing once again the endless wealth politicians can mine out of America's mountains of economic insecurity. One Wig columnist described them as " “frightful letters … Those who wear them should bear in mind that it will require their most strenuous exertions … to make all things O.K.”
The fledgling word derivative then received a further boost from new technology, when the Morse telegraph was introduced in 1844. It took far less finger pressing to tap out the word "OK" (you could ignore the "o" and the "K" was just "dash - dot - dash") than to tap out the words "All Correct". OK was far easier to spell, too. In fact, OK is the strongest remaining artifact of telegraphy in our culture, the equivalent of a "Record Player" in the era of compact discs, and compact discs in the era of music downloads.
Twenty years later the young six foot five inch James Pyle left his family home in Nova Scotia to seek his fortune in New York City. He opened a factory in Greenwich Village, where he repackaged sodium carbonate powder as "Pyle's OK Pearline Soap". Mr.Pyle's genius was his discovery that the only difference between soaps was the advertising. All his advertisements framed traditional images of children and dogs and kitties, with that hip new word, OK. He plastered Manhattan from the Battery to the Bronx with the word "OK" until the denizens were seeing it in their sleep. James made a literal fortune, and in 1914 his company was bought out by Proctor and Gamble, which renamed the product "Ivory Soap" and dropped the OK. But by now the adolescent word was strong enough to stand on its own two letters.
And just as the telegraph was being pushed to extinction by the telephone, the lucky "OK" was given yet another new boost on May 5, 1961. Commander Alan B. Shepard, sitting atop a Redstone rocket, assured his controllers that, "Everything is A-OK." And because the American space program performed in public, and the entire world was listening with rapt fascination, this anachronistic sliver of American English slang, a 130 year old inside joke amongst Boston sophists,  instantly became the first phrase of modern international slang.
Everything was indeed "OK." People the world over, who do not speak or usually hear English, know and use OK. It is a borrowed word, which is a nice way of saying it may be the only English word for which the Shakespeare family is does not collect royalties.
Okay?
- 30-

Sunday, July 22, 2012

ETERNAL TRIANGLE Pt. Three


I can’t think of a love triangle that ever turned out productively for the participants, from King David who did not let morality stand between him and separating Bathsheba from her husband, Uriah the Hittite...
...through King Arthur, who let morality prevent him from separating his beloved Guinevere from her lusted after Lancelot....
, through the swelled egos of John Edwards, Elizabeth Edwards and Rielle Hunter...
...and winding down the Appalachian Trail with the romantically addled Maria Belen Chapur, Jenny Sanford and the man in the middle, Governor Mark Sanford. And the “ménage-a-fools” between “Big” Jim Fisk, Josie Mansfield and Edward Stokes repeated the same sad story, with an unfortunate familiar final twist.
These self destructive convergences usually leave the participants exhausted and mumbling some absurd self justification, like “The heart wants what the heart wants”, when, in truth, the more apt description might be, “Stupid is as stupid does.” It needs to be noted that none of these disasters, which we all are suffer from, from time to time, could occur without the active participation of all members. The truth is the participants may be helpless, but they are never blameless.
“Big” Jim’s friends, who knew his love letters to Josie to be harmless drivel, urged him to publish them first, and thereby remove their threat. But this “Prince of the Erie Railroad”, this master of Wall Street, this robber baron supreme, refused to do. Instead he bemoaned his fate, “By the Lord, this is my heart that you want me to make a show of, and I won't.” He was, however, willing to make a lesser show of it, slower and more deliciously painful, and far more dramatically detailed, by not either paying the $200,000 demanded by Stokes ("Big Jim" could easily afford it) or publishing the letters himself, which might even have made a profit. So, the curtain went up on the Third Act of the melodrama
About one on the afternoon of January 6, 1872, “Big” James Fisk got the word that a grand jury had indicted Josie and Edward Stokes for blackmail. He was in the offices of the Erie Railroad, on the second floor of his own Grand Opera House, when he heard. At about 3:30 pm, a visiting friend, gambler John Chamberlain, was leaving the Opera House, when he saw a carriage crossing the intersection of 8th Avenue and 23rd Street. As the carriage clipped past him, Chamberlain saw, peeking out from the passenger compartment, and staring up at the Erie Corporate offices, Edward Stokes.
Ten minutes later “Big” Jim Fisk was in his own carriage, heading uptown, to 44th and Amity Street, later to be renamed 3rd Avenue, to the Grand Central Hotel, around the corner from “Commodore” Vanderbilt’s brand new Grand Central Railroad Station (above). As he entered the hotel “Big” Jim recognized a porter by the name of John Redmond, and asked him to contact one of the guests, a daughter of Samuel B. Morse, inventor of the telegraph. The lady was living at the hotel, and had recently suffered a death in her family. Big Jim wanted to inquire as to her condition.  Redmond followed “Big” Jim up to the stairs toward the second floor lobby.
As they turned the corner at the base of the stairwell they were confronted by Edward Stokes, waiting at the top of the stairs. Arm outstretched, he was pointing a handgun down the stairs - at them.  “Big” Jim Fisk stopped, halfway up. Edward said firmly, “I’ve got you now,” and fired twice. Bang! Bang! Both shots hit Fisk, who cried out, “For God’s sake, will anybody save me?” Redmond, the porter, dove for cover. Fisk staggered back to the foot of the stairs, where Redmond and other employees helped him back up the stairs and into an empty room. He never left it.
A bellboy followed Edward (above), and the shooter was arrested trying to leave the hotel a few minutes later. As the police were transporting Edward to jail, he asked if he could go into a bar for a drink. The answer was “no”. He later asked his jailer, “What do you think, is the man seriously injured?”
The man was. To one visitor, “Big” Jim explained he felt as if he had just eaten green apples. “I've got a belly-ache,”  he said. The gambler, John Chamberlain, did not believe it when he was told of the shooting. “I’ll lay $500 against $100 that it's false.” He would have lost that bet.
Josie, the self-centered center of this melodramatic triangle affair, had no such doubts. Shocked when a newspaperman told her of the shooting, she blurted out, “Edward must have been insane!” Then she immediately added, “I wish you to understand that I am in no way connected with this sad affair.” And finally she insisted, “I have only my reputation to maintain.” Yes, it was a little late for Josie's reputation, and to contend she had not connection to what had happened,  but she still had hopes. Josie always had hopes
“Big” Jim Fisk, who had long ago lost his reputation because of his love for Josie, died at 10:45p.m. the next night. They took his body back to his childhood home, in Brattleboro, Vermont, for burial.
The newspapers were endless in their praise of the man, as unrelenting as they had been, just days before, in their ridicule of him. His love letters, published a week after his death, were so banal, that they created barely a ripple.
As writer Edmund Stedman noted, “"Had Stokes been an illiterate laborer, he would have dangled in a noose two months later.” But Edmund's family was still wealthy enough that it took three trials to convict him of manslaughter, and even then he was sentenced to only six years in Sing Sing prison. He was a popular and entitled inmate, and served only four years. Once out he operated restaurants, and ended his life locked in lawsuits with the very people who had rescued him financially after prison. He died in 1901, at the age of 61.
For Josie Mansfield, the loss of “Big” Jim meant not just the loss of financial security, but, more importantly, the loss of drama in her life. Not that she didn't go looking for it. She testified at Edmund’s first trial, but was unavailable for the two that followed. She sued “Big” Jim’s widow, Lucy, for that $50,000 she still alleged "Big" Jim had invested for her, but that case was thrown out of court. She moved to Paris. She married a rich alcoholic in 1891, and divorced him six years later. In 1897 she moved to Boston to live with a sister, then to Philadelphia to live with another sister. In 1899 she moved to Watertown, South Dakota to live with her brother. She died, back in Paris at the American Hospital, in 1931, having out lived her sugar daddy James, “Big” Jim Fisk, by a lifetime - 60 years. She even outlived the man she had overthrown a fortune for, Edmund Stokes – by 20 years.
At times the three had been a national laughingstock, a pubic delinquency and a media soap opera on a par with Jesse James, Sandra Bullock and Michelle "Bombshell" McGee (et al), with the minor addendum that one member of this most recent triangle seems to have insisted upon being an actual adult. And that brought the entire drama to an early conclusion, much to the media's regret.
But fear not, it will not be long before another trio of thespians feels compelled to raise the curtain on another performance of the same play, and carry the character arc to its illogical and inevitable dramatic conclusion, again. And again. And again. To quote Charley Harper, from "Two and a-Half Men"; Love is not blind. It's retarded."
- 30 -

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