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Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Dispensing with the Ambulance

I've made several forays into the field of textual criticism where it involves cybertexts, so I'll not bother to trace how this particular version of an old poem developed into what you see here, other than to say that this scribe made an alteration or two of his own before passing it on. This poem was published at least as early as 1912, and is usually attributed to Joseph Malins, who titled it, The Fence or the Ambulance." An ambulance, back in 1895 when he reportedly wrote it, was a glorified battle wagon drawn by a team of horses.

The Ambulance Down In The Valley
'Twas a dangerous cliff, as they freely confessed,
Though to walk near its crest was so pleasant;
But over its terrible edge there had slipped
A duke, and full many a peasant.

The people said something would have to be done,
But their projects did not at all tally.
Some said, "Put a fence 'round the edge of the cliff,"
Some, "An ambulance down in the valley."

The lament of the crowd was profound and was loud,
As their hearts overflowed with their pity;
But the cry for the ambulance carried the day
As it spread through the neighboring city.

A collection was made, to accumulate aid,
And the dwellers in highway and alley
Gave dollars or cents - not to furnish a fence -
But an ambulance down in the valley.

"For the cliff is all right if you're careful," they said;
"And if folks ever slip and are dropping,
It isn't the slipping that hurts them so much
As the shock down below - when they're stopping."

So for years (we have heard), as these mishaps occurred,
Quick forth would the rescuers sally,
To pick up the victims who fell from the cliff,
With the ambulance down in the valley.

Said one, to his peers, "It's a marvel to me
That you'd give so much greater attention
To repairing results than to curing the cause;
You had much better aim at prevention.

For the mischief, of course, should be stopped at its source,
Come, neighbors and friends, let us rally.
It is far better sense to rely on a fence
Than an ambulance down in the valley."

"He's wrong in his head," the majority said;
"He would end all our earnest endeavor.
He's a man who would shirk his responsible work,
But we will support it forever.

Aren't we picking up all, just as fast as they fall,
And giving them care liberally?
A superfluous fence is of no consequence,
With an ambulance down in the valley."

The story looks queer as we've written it here,
But things oft occur that are stranger;
More humane, we assert, than to succor the hurt
Is the plan of removing the danger.

The best possible course is to safeguard the source,
Attending to things rationally.
If we build up the fence, we might almost dispense
With the ambulance down in the valley.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Another month, another post

Here in the USA we recently passed the 51st anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy. There's always a bit of news coverage every year, but especially on the big anniversaries. I may be a bit behind the times, as I'm just now getting back to it, a year after the big 50.

It's been over seven years since my previous post on the topic of Kennedy assassinations, and in the interval the internet has filled with material on both JFK assassinations--more videos than one person can keep up with. But I have been doing some viewing--and reading--and coming to a clearer picture of what may have, or may not have, happened.

Anyway, I've been thinking about the idea that Lee Oswald fired, in less than six seconds, three bullets from a 6.5 mm Mannlicher-Carcano 91/38 in the direction of the Presidential motorcade, striking the President with two of them.

Ballistic tests proved that this was possible. Not easy, not even likely--just possible. One thing, then, is certain: if there was a concerted plan to shoot AND kill the President that day in Dallas, it is impossible that Oswald was the only gunman. As lone-wolf assassination attempts on both Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan have shown, even a semi-automatic weapon at short range is unlikely to put even a single bullet into a President's body. Oswald was not at short range, and did not have a semi-automatic weapon. His chances of hitting the president even once were very small; twice, infinitesimal--and it was only the third shot that killed the President.

If there was a concerted effort to kill the President, there was at the very least one other gunman--who was much closer to the President than Lee Oswald. In fact, I strongly doubt that any sort of organized effort would have had any fewer than three men with a bead on the President as he entered Deally Plaza.

If Oswald was a lone wolf, he was not only a remarkable marksman, he was incredibly lucky. He had one chance to shoot the President, and he was able to get three shots off--the maximum possible with that gun in that amount of time. Furthermore, he connected squarely with the second shot--then fatally with the third. And, the range to the target was farther and farther with each shot. As range increased, his effectiveness increased!

So why, a few minutes later, would he have expended three rounds at point-blank range into Dallas policeman J. D. Tippit--and then require a fourth shot directly to the head to kill him? There goes the remarkable marksman theory.

The conclusion that Lee Oswald was acting along--that he, on a whim, took a junk rifle up six floors, stood at a window, and hit a six-inch-diameter moving target over 100 yards away not once, but twice--is simply preposterous.

Therefore, the Warren Commission was wrong. How could the Commission be wrong? Well, they used the FBI and the CIA as their investigators. The FBI and the CIA must have provided them false information.

I leave it to the reader to draw his own conclusions.

Oh, one more thing. I don't recommend that Ben Carson run for president. It's clear that the office of the president is only a position that can be filled--or at least held--by a poppet. Break free of the strings, and see what happens.

Friday, 7 November 2014


I noticed this morning that when I typed in the address of this blog, a phishing site appeared. I can still get on it via a googel search, but I'm concerned that some visitors won't be able to get on the usual way.

I don't know what to do about this, but suggestions are welcome.

UPDATE 12-2014:    It appears the problem has been resolved. Time for another post.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

An End to Anonymity?

For the past decade, this blog has allowed The White Man to unleash his creative urges in an atmosphere of anonymity. This has been important for a number of reasons, but as time goes by they are all becoming less significant. My readers have probably noticed that I post here less and less, the reason being that my writings are more and more being read under my own name, and the time is soon coming when the benefits of anonymity will diminish past the point of usefulness.

Even my very first post continues to draw in several readers a week, and it will probably be years before what I write in my own name reaches as many as the 50,000 plus unique visitors to this blog, so it will stay up indefinitely--but I won't be contributing very often. I promised earlier to write at least every three months, and that won't be very hard to keep, but don't expect more than about one post a month for the foreseeable future; the need for anonymity will never go away altogether. I will, however, continue to monitor traffic to this blog, and make any updates as needed to ensure that what's on here never misinforms my ongoing readership.

At some point the person behind this blog may see fit to disclose his identity to the world, but don't count on it; what I wrote here stands regardless of who wrote it.

Finally, I want to thank all of my readers, commenters, and followers. You have helped to shape me into the writer that I have become.

Oh, one last thing, while I'm still anonymous--John Brockhoeft Sr, I recently discerned the sort of warfare you're involved in these days, and I have to say I'm very impressed. Keep it up, and may your tribe increase!

Friday, 10 October 2014

Polygamy--a result of slavery?

Foreign Policy has released an article that shows a correlation between tribes on the West Coast of Africa which contributed males to the transatlantic slave trade, and tribes which practice polygyny today. The implication is that the slave trade freed up a surplus of virgins, who were graciously taken in by the remaining men.

Like so many studies, this one failed to ask the question, what caused which?

Polygyny was already a factor during the slave era--and the authors admit this. But what they don't envision is that a conquering tribe would have retained the captured women of the conquered tribe, whilst selling the men as slaves. This scenario turns the whole theory on its head: the sexual disparity in the slave population was not a cause of polygyny, but a result of it.

West African slaves were mostly sent to the New World, where buyers strongly preferred men capable of performing backbreaking tasks on plantations. By contrast, buyers in slave trades centered on the Indian Ocean and Red Sea were often looking for women who could work as domestic servants or concubines.
Record-keeping by European slave traders shows a consistent pattern, Dalton and Leung found: Between 1545 and 1864, 66.4 percent of slaves sent to North America and the Caribbean from present-day Senegal and Gambia were men, as were 66.6 percent sent from Sierra Leone, 65.4 percent from the Gold Coast (now Ghana), and 65.4 percent from the Windward Coast (now Ivory Coast). Going a step further, Dalton and Leung looked at data on the slaves taken from specific ethnic groups and compared it with the percentage of women in those groups who today share husbands with other wives. (They controlled for factors such as education level and religion.) The researchers found that groups hit heavily by trans-Atlantic slavery were significantly more likely to have a high percentage of polygynous marriages.
Now, taking my approach, we see that polygyny in East Africa may have been stifled by a lack of women, the surplus of that sex having been depleted rather than augmented by the slave trade. So if anything was a result of slavery in Africa, it was monogamy. What native culture could not manage to effect--the suppression of polygyny--the outside force of slavery could.

As the Western world slides ever further away from monogamy, we wonder what it will take to reverse that slide, and from where such a powerful force may come.