Saturday, June 29, 2019

THE SAUSAGE FACTORY, Giving Women the Vote.

"He's the kind of man a woman would have to marry to get rid of."
Mae West
I wish William Bright (above) had been more of a hero. In reality he struggled his whole life against his own bigotry and bad timing. First, he was a Democrat, which in the late 1860's was the definition of political irrelevancy.   In 1867 Bright emigrated westward, to South Pass City,  a sort of rest and resupply stop astride the 7,500 foot high wagon route through the Rocky Mountains. The transcontinental railroad was in the process of making the town and the pass irrelevant. What had drawn the 44 year old William and his new wife, along with 2,000 miners, to South Pas was the discovery of gold nearby.  Not that William was much of a miner, but the he used what little he had made trading in mining claims to buy a saloon...just as the gold was running out. By the end of the year South Pass City had a total population of just 60 people, and a disturbing number of them were temperance supporters, making even Mr. Bright's saloon irrelevant..
"The only good woman I can recall in history was Betsy Ross. And all she ever made was a flag."
Mae West
Nationally, by 1869 the Democrats were an endangered species on the national stage. Victorious in the Civil War, the party of Lincoln dominated the 41st Congress, controlling the Senate - 57 Republicans to just 9 Democrats, and 150 Republicans to just 65 Democrats in the House of Representatives. Thus it was no surprise that newly selected first governor for the new Wyoming Territory, he would be a good Republican – Ohioan John A. Campbell.  Arriving in the railroad town of Laramie, the new Governor promptly called elections for the Territorial Legislature to be held on Tuesday, August 3, 1869. And shortly thereafter the newly appointed U.S. Attorney for the territory, another good Republican name Joseph Carey, issued a legal opinion that because of the new 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution, no person could be denied the right to vote because of their skin color. And that was the start of all kinds of Wyoming insanity
"Anything worth doing is worth doing slowly."
Mae West
The turnout on election day was disappointing. Only 5,266 men showed up to cast ballots. More might have voted but for the gangs of drunken Democrats flashing guns and knives around all the polling places because they did not believe blacks or Asians or people who thought blacks or Asians should be allowed to vote, should be allowed to vote. Still, it seems unlikely better order at the polls would have significantly changed the outcome. The census taken the following year found only 6,107 men in the entire territory. And when the new legislature convened in Cheyenne in October of 1869 it consisted in total of 12 Representatives in the lower house and 8 Councilmen in the upper house -  and they were all Democrats.
"A man in the house is worth two in the street."
Mae West
One of the most prominent Democrats elected was the racist from South Pass City (above), William Bright. He was so respected by his fellows that he was named President of the Council (the upper house) before the legislature got down to work. And they were very busy, passing 86 laws and 13 memorials and resolutions by mid-December. One law ensured that male teachers should not be paid more than women teachers, while another guaranteed that wives would retain property rights after separating from their husbands. And then there was the  “Act to Prevent Intermarriage between White Persons and those of Negro or Mongolian Blood,” which was self explanatory. Governor Cambell vetoed that one, but the legislature passed it again over his veto. And then, wrote the Wyoming Tribune, “amid the greatest hilarity, and after the presentation of various funny amendments and in the full expectation of a gubernatorial veto, an act was passed enfranchising the women of Wyoming.”
"Those who are easily shocked should be shocked more often."
Mae West
William Bright introduced the measure, labeled Council Bill (CB) 70 on November 30th.  It read, in full, “Section 1. That every woman of the age of eighteen years, residing in this territory, may at every election to be held under the laws thereof, cast her vote. And her rights to the elective franchise and to hold office shall be the same under the election laws of the territory, as those of electors. Section 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after its passage.” And according to his supporting speech, William's primary reasons for introducing such a revolutionary measure – there were only about 1,000 females over the age of ten in all of Wyoming - was that, as an unnamed Councilman said, “if you are going to let the n--gers and the pigtails (Chinese) vote, we will ring in the women, too.”  Three members of the council disagreed on grounds that even as a joke, neither women nor Negros nor Chinese should be considered intellectual or moral equals to white men. But CB70 passed the same day, 6-2 with one abstention.
"Between two evils, I always pick the one I never tried before."
Mae West
When things got to the other side of the Rollings House hotel, where the legislature was meeting,  Benjamin Sheeks, also from South Pass, led the opposition. He tried to permanently table the bill, and when that failed he and his allies tried adding “poison pill” amendments, such as the addition of the phrase,  “colored women and squaws” to section one, and substituting the word “ladies”, as in “ladies of the evening” for the word “women”. These attempts produced some laughter, but they were both defeated. Then Sheeks moved to temporally table the bill, so the House could consider more “pressing matters” first. That passed, but it bought the opponents only two days to lobby against the joke measure.
"Every man I meet wants to protect me. I can't figure out what from."
Mae West
When the debate was resumed, opponents tried moving to adjourn three times in a row, hoping to catch somebody in the outhouse or off sneaking a shot of whiskey or a beer. All three attempts failed. Then it was moved that CB70 should be reconsidered on July 4, 1870 – seven months after the house permanently adjourned. Amid all the laughter and snickering, that maneuver was also defeated . But Sheeks did finally amend CB70, raising the voting age for women from 18 to 21. After all a joke's a joke, but let's not go crazy here. And then, finally, at 8:20 that night the house approved CB70, 7 to 4. It was immediately moved to reconsider the issue, but that was just as quickly defeated. And with that, finally, the issue of female suffrage was dumped into the lap of the Republican Governor, with a snicker..
"The score never interested me, only the game."
Mae West
Governor John Cambell was a bit young, but he was nobody's fool. He knew this bill was intended to mock Republicans for giving the vote to African-American males, and because Edward M. Lee, the appointed Republican Territorial Secretary, was an ardent supporter of female suffrage. As the measure had moved through the legislature, Cambell had asked advice from everybody he knew, looking for the least embarrassing option. And in the end, he decided the best thing to do was to not take the bait, meaning not fight the issue as he had with the mixed race marriage bill. After considering the matter for a few days Governor Cambell decided to simply sign it without comment, which he did on December 10, 1868. In Wyoming, females now had the right to vote.
"His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork."
Mae West
Back in South Pass City, Justice of the Peace R.S. Barr decided to deliver the punch line to Mr. Bright's joke. On Valentine's day 1870 he placed an ad in the newspaper, offering to resign his position “whenever some lady elector shall have been duly appointed ti fill the vacancy.” Ha, ha, and no lady appeared. But they did serve on a grand jury, and they did vote at the next territorial election, in 1871. And the world did not dissolve into an estrogen mush 
"I never said it would be easy, I only said it would be worth it."
Mae West
William Bright would not stand for re-election. His bar went bankrupt in 1870, and he moved to Denver, and from there back to his hometown of  Washington D.C.  On May 3, 1912 the Cheyenne State Leader ran his obituary. “Mr. Bright was 86 years of age, and had been for twenty years past an employee of the government printing office...(He) moved to Wyoming and...drew up and fought through the bill for woman suffrage, which was the first law of its kind ever presented to a law-making body in the United States.” And often, that is how you become a hero -  in retrospect and with heavy editing
"I use to be Snow White, but I drifted."
Mae West
In 1871, at the next meeting of the Territorial Legislature, the male politicians, led again by Mr. Sheek, passed a bill to overturn female suffrage. Governor Cambell vetoed it, and the attempt to override by a two third margin failed, but only just barely. Women in Wyoming retained their voice in their government by one slim vote.   But it would be 1910 before a woman would be elected to serve in the Wyoming legislature, and into the 1950's they were routinely blocked from serving on juries. And yet, Wyoming insists on calling its self the “Equity State”. It seems to me, that is something of an gross exaggeration.
"To err is human - but it feels divine."
Mae West
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Friday, June 28, 2019

GETTING AHEAD - Oliver Cromwell's Postpartum Travels:

I would call it the definitive way of dealing with a swelled head. Oh sure, Oliver Cromwell had some doubts while he was dying. And it was about time he did. All his life Oliver had been such an imperious narcissistic autocrat that in retrospect, the despotic and conceited Charles I now seemed reasonable - once Oliver had beheaded Charles. But then Oliver went on the ultimate ego trip, launching a bloody war trying to eradicate Catholicism from Ireland. He would have had better luck trying to reintroduce the snakes. Oliver was so supercilious that in 1650 he wrote to a Scottish opponent, “I beseech you in the bowels of Christ think it possible you may be mistaken,” and just three years later he suffered no such introspection while making himself dictator, because, “…the spirit of god (was) so strong upon me, I would not consult flesh and blood.” Flesh and blood has bowels, Oliver, it seems, did not. It turns out the one nation Oliver never even attempted to conquer was gaul 
And then at the age of 59, on his death bed, on the afternoon of September 3, 1658, Oliver was beset by humility at long last (as well as a urinary tract infection – which is what kills you when you don’t have antibiotics). Oliver whispered, “My design is to make what haste I can to be gone.” But it was too late to be hasty. Even dead, Oliver could no longer escape the judgment of those who had suffered under his turgid arrogance.
His corpse was entombed in Westminster Abbey, along with all those kings and queens he thought himself superior to. His followers attached a plate to his coffin reading “Oliver Cromwell, Protector of England, Scotland and Ireland”, so that on Judgment Day there would be no chance Oliver would be overlooked. They might as well have planted a big arrow above his crypt that read “Dig Here!”
Judgment day arrived less than three years later. As soon as Charles II was crowned king, he had 12 of those who had participated in his father’s trial tried for high treason. The inevitable executions which followed produced a macabre precursor of Super Bowl Week. From Monday October 8th through Saturday the 13th , 1660 (on the old Julian calendar), the twelve were each subjected to what contemporary witness William Harrison described as “The greatest and most grievous punishment used in England….drawing from the prison to the place of execution upon an hurdle or sled, where they are hanged till they be half dead, and then taken down…”. It wasn’t until after the hanging that the festivities really got started.
The guest-of-dishonor was stretched naked on a butcher block table. First, his genitalia were removed and displayed to him. They were then thrown into a fire. Then, according to English Wikipedia, “A splash of water was usually employed to wake the man if unconscious…A large cut was made in the gut…and the intestines would be spooled out on a device that resembled a dough roller. Each piece of organ would be burned before the sufferer's eyes, and when he was completely disemboweled, his head would be cut off.” And not quickly removed, with a single swipe of a massive sword or an axe, but via repeated whacks with a meat clever. The idea was not to kill the unfortunate honoree, but to torture him, and thus to entertain the crowd.
This was a spectator sport, drawn out for hype and hyperbole. Samuel Pepys was there for the anticlimax. He noted in his diary, “Saturday 13 October…went out to Charing Cross, to see Major-general Harrison hanged, drawn, and quartered…He looking as cheerful as any man could do in that condition. He was presently cut down, and his head and heart shown to the people, at which there was great shouts of joy…After that I went…home, where I was angry with my wife for her things lying about, and in my passion kicked the little fine basket, which I bought her in Holland, and broke it, which troubled me after I had done it.” Ah, death, where is thy operate conditioning?
Oliver Cromwell, being legally and retroactively the villain-in-chief would not be spared these humiliations just because he was deceased. He was spared the pain, but then there had been the urinary tract infection. On the morning of January 30, 1661 Oliver’s corpse and those of two of his fellow deceased co-conspirators, were hung by their necks at Tyburn, the traditional place of execution for “commoners”. Ouch, that little insult must have hurt. The un-dearly departed hung in public, like hams in a smoke house, until four in the afternoon. Then their heads were removed; I presume they cut off Oliver’s last, as we are told it took eight chops. The poor executioner must have been pretty near shagged out from removing the first two heads.
After this academic execution, Oliver’s corpse was discarded into a pit and his head was raised upon a 20 foot wooden pole above the south side of Westminster Palace. Finally, Oliver was as aloof as he had always imagined himself to be, head and shoulders above all other contenders...except he no longer had any shoulders. And there he bobbled about in heavy winds until at least 1672, by which time it seems, people had begun to forget just whose head was which head.
Legends claim that Oliver’s pole was blown down in a storm and Oliver’s dome rolled into the hands of Mr. John Moore, a guard, who snuck the coconut home and stuffed the noggin in his chimney. When it was realized that the arch villain Oliver Cromwell had somehow escaped, rewards were offered and notices posted demanding and threatening punishments unless he were returned. To remain discreet, Mr. Moore gave the head to an apothecary in King Street, who then sold Oliver’s skull to a Mr. Humphrey Dove, Esq. Lawyer Dove kept Oliver confined to a chest until his death in 1687 – Mr. Dove’s death that is. After this it appears that Oliver made a clean getaway, no mean feat for a man with no feet...or legs. Or torso.
In 1710 a Claudius Du Puy opened a museum of curiosities in London containing as its most curious curiosity of all, the head of Oliver Cromwell. That the exhibit was a financial failure was no fault of Oliver’s. He did his part. He was still dead. He still had no body to support him . But was this head really Oliver’s head? Or was it an imposter’s skull masquerading as the demon Protestant?
It would not be until the 1930’s that two scientist issued a 109 page report authenticating to a “moral certainty” that the head in question was unquestionably the head of Oliver Cromwell. And on March 25, 1960 Oliver’s morally certain head was finally buried somewhere near the chapel of Sidney Sussex College, in Cambridge, England. And nobody will admit to knowing exactly where.
And that anonymity must be driving Oliver out of his skull!
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Thursday, June 27, 2019

LIMITS TO LOGIC - A Chimp Teaches Humans How to Think About Chimps

I am tired of reading about willfully stupid humans, such as the well educated and well accomplished drones at the Language Research Center at Georgia State University. For decades the LRC was mired in intellectual orthodoxy and mediocrity, investigating what you would expect and discovering what you would expect.. Then in 1982 a 2 ½ year old bonobo chimpanzee named Kanzi shattered their comfortable ethos. 
 Using American Sign language, which he had picked up from his mother, Kanzi spontaneously signed “marshmallow” and then “fire”. Given matches and marshmallows by the obliging staff, Kanzi gathered twigs, struck a match (above) and set the wood to burning. Next he jammed a stick into a marshmallow (above), which he then toasted and gleefully ate. What the humans finally learned from this “Noah Chimp-anski” was that language is not about syntax, its about communication. The revelation changed their whole scientific process...for a time.
Long after Kanzi had retired to a farm in Iowa, the humans in Atlanta appear to have fallen back into their academic lethargy, as they recently released a study indicating that apes not only think about food, but they also think about thinking about food. To the humans with degrees this is “metacognation”. As one of the two directors of the experiment explained, “There has been an intense debate in the scientific literature in recent years over whether metacognition is unique to humans.” This was the statement which convinced me that homosapians are still in search of a clue. Why didn't they just ask Kanzi? But what I really want to talk to you about is not apes, but Flouride.
Flouride is an isotope of the element Flourine. The nine electrons of Flourine are the hormone ravaged teenager of the periodic table, hungry to share its electrons with any other element.  It took 74 years to purify and isolate Flourine because it bonds with whatever container you put it in, corroding right through it. Even when finally isolated the pale yellow gas desperately bonds to itself – which is why it is called a diatomic. This hunger to mate made Flourine an industrial wunderkind, transferring wanted qualities from one compound to others. It is essential for the smelting of metals. It is the F, in CFC, once used in cooling systems. And when you hit the button on a spray can, there's still a good chance the effective material that jets out, is being carried on some isotope of Flourine.
Flouride is one of those isotopes, one electron short of its parent Flourine, making it twice as eager to bond with any available electron, even ones already happily married - as when six atoms of Florine mate with two atoms of hydrogen already bonded to a sodium atom or to a single atom of chloride. And those are the two most common chemicals, hexafluorosilicic acid and hexafluorosilicate, used in water fluoridation in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control, also in Atlanta, calls fluoridation "one of the ten great public health achievements of the 20th century.” And yet there are some humans who call it a government intrusion, and even spreading poison. To which I am inclined to respond by screeching and throwing my poo at them.
Yes, Flouride is toxic. And toxic is always bad. But remember that salt, which is vital to your survival, is made up of sodium and chlorine, both of which are extremely toxic. And drinking salt water will quickly kill you. Fresh water, on the other hand, is good for you, unless you are drowning. Sugar gives you energy, but is toxic to a diabetic. And don't even get me started about peanuts. Toxic is a level of measurement, not an absolute. Flouride is toxic in anything over moderate amounts. But at minimal levels, it is a powerful weapon against tooth decay. Areas in Colorado with naturally occurring Flouride in their drinking water had lower rates of tooth decay, which is how it occurred to medical doctors in the late 19th century to suggest adding Floride to water supplies. And stopping tooth decay turns out to also be a defence against heart attacks. It is a public health measure that costs less than a dollar a year for the average family. But try telling any of that to a libertarian, and you are liable to get a riacin tainted post card from hell. And that is what I really want to talk about – the politics of conspiracy.
Any discussion of American conspiracy theories over the last 100 years, must include a mention of Robert Henry Wineborn Welch, Jr., the North Carolina native who invented the “Sugar Daddy”, a 40 gram hunk of Carmel on a stick, 24 grams of which are sugar. The confection made Mr. Welch very rich, which predisposed him to believe anyone suggesting that sugar caused cavities must be a dirty stinking anti-capitalist. So naturally the political organization which Welch founded, “The John Birch Society”, saw fluoridation of the nation's water supply as a communist mind control plot. Lots of people wanted to believe in that conspiracy. But the only man who made millions propagating the myth was Robert Welch.
Among the 12 acolytes at the first meeting of the JBS, on December 8, 1958, was a chemical engineer from Texas named Fred Koch (above). An admirer of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, Fred was described by a family friend as “a monarch, untouchable.” Just out of college in the 1920's, he had invented a better method for cracking gasoline out of oil. But the big four oil companies drove him out of business in the United States. So Koch moved to Russia, where his built a dozen new oil refineries for Uncle Joe Stalin. While the communists made Fred rich, he also found their regulations restricting. When the Second World War forced him home, he felt much the same way about the U.S. government. Anyone who stood between Fred and what he wanted, which was money, was not merely wrong, they were evil. Fred now saw a communist hiding under every bed, and like his friend Welch, believed Presidents Roosevelt, Truman and even Eisenhower were either communist or had been duped by them.. Because they dared to tell Fred "No".
Fred's son David admitted in 2007, “He was constantly speaking to us children about what was wrong with government.… It’s something I grew up with.” Charles Koch was told, “If you don't make it, you'll be worthless..” Says David Koch, “He could do that sort of thing so effectively." And when the old man died in 1967 while shooting ducks, he left behind a quartet of sons who felt entitled, inferior, cheated and arrogant. As a progressive writer described them, “The two middle brothers, Charles and David, are the crazy ones. The other two, Frederick and William, are the loony ones.”  But they were all rich, which in America, gives you an audience no matter how crazy or looney you are.
David and Charles (center and right, above) took control of the family fortune, cutting William (above, left) out of the loop after he heavily invested in coal mines, which have never lived up to the Koch profitability standards. So William began decades of litigation against his two brothers. He sued over his share of a trust fund, over the sale of company stock, over a coin collection. At one point he even dragged their 87 year old mother onto the witness stand just months after she had suffered a stroke. Did I mention that William and David are twins?
If Fred is looking on from Valhalla, he must be proud of David and Charles, especially for the political groups they have founded and funded with more than $200 million, such as Americans For Prosperity, and The Tea Party. They even found a way to make William's erratic coal mine profits more dependable, by funding the global warming conspiracy movement. It was the lesson handed down by Robert Welch and his war against sugar. Many climate change critics are honestly driven, or just honestly stupid. Every “green” project stands the same chance of failure and fraud as any “non-green” business. But the only people profiting from climate change denial are Charles and David Koch, and everybody heavily invested in oil or coal. And that is not an accident.
Which brings me back to our cousins the bonobos. Another recent research paper out of Yale and Duke University “discovered” that our fellow primates “exhibit emotional responses to outcomes of their decisions by pouting or throwing angry tantrums when a risk-taking strategy fails to pay off” according to the press release. This research may be worthy of a reward for restating the obvious 
We might ask Kanzi (above) about the Koch brothers, and their risk-taking behavior, but the old boy is now retired on a farm near Des Moines, Iowa. Like Charles and David, Kanzi is the alpha male in his troop, but since bonoboos are matriarchal, his is largely a symbolic role. He spends his time constructing complex sentences complaining about his grandchildren and screwing anybody within reach, just like the Koch brothers. But in the Bonoboo world, screwing each other is a way of reducing tension. In the ethos of the Koch brothers,its a form of aggression. And that is the difference between humans and the less evolved apes. They know something we don't.
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