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the other deep south
The European settlement of Australia began as a penal colony and about 162,000 convicts were shipped there between 1788 and 1870, most of them in the first 60 years. From 1831 to 1840, the free settler arrivals outnumbered convict arrivals and by 1850 there were 156,000 convicts in Australia and 187,000 free settlers. The largest number of free settlers (587,000) arrived in the 1851-1860 period, attracted by the Victorian gold rush.
My current inconvenient and woeful truth is I’ve got the mother of all colds. This misery has all my senses confused and discombobulated …and there’s no relief in sight—at least none that’s not days away. It is times like this that my ‘inner-small boy’ wishes Aunt Lula was still around…
Lula wasn’t my real aunt. You certainly couldn’t find her name anywhere on the official family tree, the one Mom kept folded up in the family Bible. In Mom’s heart though, Aunt Lula was as official as any blood-relation; they had been best friends since they were toddlers…
The tragic vehicular pile-up on Interstate 16 near Savannah where five Georgia Southern University nursing students were killed has shocked our state, and has caused concern on the national stage. It may even lead to new legislation regulating heavy transport rigs to push safer highways.
The nursing students were driving from college in Statesboro to Savannah (roughly 55 miles) to continue their clinical “rotational” training in order to become nurses…
great sucking sound
“The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, … may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.” – James Madison in The Federalist Papers.
You don’t have to know much about the “trade” deal called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to be more than a little suspicious. First, there are the very peculiar bedfellows. Supporting the TPP are President Obama and most Congressional Republicans, the same Republicans who’ve vehemently opposed his every initiative for the past six and one-half years.
stupid, stupid, stupid
It is projected that sometime in 2015, Gun Deaths will become more ubiquitous in the USA than Auto fatalities — at over 30,000 lives per year. By way of comparison in the UK Automobiles are 1,300% more deadly than Guns (using 2011 data).
Baltimore represents the inevitable confluence of trends that only spell more disaster down the road. The trends at play are: 1) Gun Culture 2) Inherent deep rooted Bigotry and 3) the disenfranchisement of the voters –with the consequent undermining of Democracy.
the case for god
Religious “faith” is not an idea I subscribe to. I was asked recently if I would describe myself as an atheist. My response was no, but not in the sense that we usually think of the word. Like the former nun and author Karen Armstrong, I am also conscious of the mystery that is life and that there are many questions beyond my comprehension. I am grateful for being alive and for being able to add my own little contribution toward making this a better world for all of us. But I don’t feel any need to wrap myself up in any organized religion or wind my way on any particular day of the week to a church to “worship.”
The Lady Juliana was built in the Thames River, London. She was a fine looking three-masted barque of about 400 tons, 110 feet long, 30 feet beam and two decks. It is believed she was the first British ship captured by American privateers in May 1776, near Cuba, on a passage from Jamaica to London. While en-route to Rhode Island the captive Lady Juliana was re-taken by a British man-of-war and conveyed to England where she resumed her role running to and from the Caribbean…
Occupy lives from coast to coast. It’s just no longer news. In Oakland, the images of martyred young men are “planted” along with real flowers and trees to start a garden of hope. That’s the Oakland Spring.
Three years ago.
lake city’s gift
Writer’s Journal, Tuesday, April 28 — The mission? Check out a town transforming itself. The destination? Lake City, a town first known as Graham’s Crossroads. To get there, I take a back road as soon and as far as I can, Highway 521. Therein lies a tale of men and soil and transition and transformation.
Once upon a time, many a cigarette shot out of the earth here. And then a shadow fell over this land that grew bright leaf…
for every child
Back many years ago when I graduated from high school, my father made me a promise that changed my life and we should make the same promise to all of our children in South Carolina.
As a callow youth with my brand spanking new diploma in hand, I was simply excited about graduating and looking forward to celebrating with my friends. But before things got too far out of hand, my father pulled me aside, looked me straight in the eye and made me a serious and solemn promise. “As long as I’m financially able,” he said, “I will pay for all of the college and graduate education you need to help you fulfill your life’s dreams.”
100 years ago
April 25 was the one-day of the year Ashley met up with his old army buddies. He left early in the morning to march down the main street of the town and then visit the Returned Servicemen’s Club. It was a long day, the only day of the year he drank alcohol because his stomach had been ulcerated by chlorine and mustard gas a long time before. At the end of the day he would be violently ill but said it was worth the agony and the inevitable lecture from his wife. He stopped at our house on his way home, not feeling good…
a lot of stuff
Write what you know. Has anyone ever given you that advice? I have spent some time thinking this over and wondering, just what did Madeleine L’Engle know about time travel? And what in the world provoked Ray Bradbury and that creepy carousel? So heck with the old chestnut “write what you know.” Today I am writing about what I don’t know.
I don’t know why people take to the couch or bed. Call me insensitive but no matter how down in the black books I get, a quick walk or a punishing hike seems to straighten my world out. Get off your ass and do something would be my advice. Not that anyone is asking.
pursuit of ambiguity
No, no, not that kind of ED, which always seems to feature one of those slightly discomforting situations where you see the happy afterglow of couples strolling hand in hand and smiling lovingly, presumably after the little blue pill has worked its magic. The kind of ED I’m talking about is entirely different. This ED is the nineteenth-century Belle of Amherst, the reclusive poet in white named Emily, and her ties with a fellow writer named Henry.
upstairs closet box
There may be treasures in your attic or in some seldom-visited closet. You can never tell. We stumbled upon quite a treasure the other day, something we did not know was there. It was a large-format book, in a box of textbooks and other literature, probably from one of our children. Going through this box to help re-stock our Little Free Library, here was this older book with 86 stunning black-and-white photographs. The book was titled Say Is This The U.S.A. and the authors were Novelist Erskine Caldwell (born in Moreland, Ga.) and Margaret Bourke-White, the famous photographer.
racing for cause
My friend Hugh Wilson once described the Atlanta Steeplechase as an event where a large crowd of well-dressed people stand in a pasture and get drunk while horses jump over bushes. The Atlanta Steeplechase celebrated its 50th anniversary this past weekend. A lot of people dressed up in clothes they probably wouldn’t wear to work or church, women wore fancy hats, the good china came out for elaborate tailgating, alcohol was consumed in abundance, and there was some pretty darn exciting horse racing.
A bronze statue stands in front of Jadwin Gymnasium at Princeton University. It’s a statue of All-American Dick “Kaz” Kazmaier, who won the Heisman trophy in 1951 – the last Ivy League player to do so – and who famously declined to pursue a career in professional football after being drafted by the Chicago Bears. Instead, he went on to Harvard Business School and proceeded to build an impressive professional resumé that included serving as “director of the American Red Cross; director of the Ladies Professional Golfers Association…
Who would have thought that years in corporate America would be the business background of a newly-published Gwinnett author?
Michael Brown, a Loganville, Ga resident, has now had two books published. We read his Somewhere a River, a 268 page novel from Deeds Publishing of Atlanta, and found it most enthralling. It is set in Alabama, the story turning around growing up in the South, high school and college football, and the entanglements we can get ourselves in both when younger and afterward.
“None of my friends can afford Obamacare, either,” Meghan said indignantly, “it should be repealed.”
We were in the South Carolina Lowcountry. Meghan is a mid-to-late-thirties single mother who is balancing raising her child, her relationship and job while still working on her degree. She was telling us about the hospital where she works. Like so many rural hospitals across the South…
I have a young friend named Gus. He is in second grade at school, just starting out in life, and doesn’t hold back in letting us know what he is thinking. I have another friend named Gus who is ninety-four and confined to bed in a nursing home. He has dementia, so we don’t know what he is thinking, but he responds with a smile when someone talks to him. My older friend Gus hasn’t met the younger Gus and doesn’t know who I am anymore. When I telephone the nursing home to ask if he needs anything the nurses are reluctant to tell me because they “don’t have his chart in front of them” or don’t know who I am.
tuesday, april 21
To begin with, we’re not talking about that super-smart cartoon dog who had a pet boy, though someone named Sherman does figure prominently in the topic at hand. We’re talking about the other Mr. Peabody, George Foster, namesake of the media awards that the University of Georgia has been handing out since 1941.
Submissions to the Peabody competition over the decades have piled up to embody a remarkable collection, some 90,000 kinescopes, 16 mm films, tapes and DVDs, all now stored in a huge, climate controlled grotto beneath the Richard B. Russell Special Collections Library on the UGA campus.
At least not in Glynn County, Georgia. Nor, I suspect, many other places where duplicitous Republicans reign. In some instances, “protection” is a euphemism for extorting money that you shouldn’t have to pay out, if our public servants were doing their job. The Mafia and home insurance come to mind. Which is why, when the term is used by those whom we’ve hired to “serve and protect,” we are relieved to think that, at last, somebody’s doing their job. Think again.
The great satirist, song writer and pianist Tom Lehrer had me wondering about and laughing at his songs even as an adolescent just beginning to appreciate the sardonic view of life. Who could hear and ever forget his black humor in “Poisoning Pigeons In The Park”?
Although separated by time, he and I both served in the Army as “enlisted scum” and both achieved the rank of “Specialist Four,” which he described as “a corporal without portfolio.” He held onto his identity as a sartorial dandy even draped in his wrinkled and ill-fitting uniform, describing his olive drab duds, “If it was good enough for Robin Hood, it’s good enough for me.”
The guitar symbolized the entire day. A four string Fender electric bass resembling those currently popular among rock star wannabees and Hipsters. You pay a few hundred extra and the manufacturers ‘distress’ it. Makes the instrument appear well-worn, as if the owner has played every day for decades. Like Willie Nelson’s old acoustic, minus the bungee strap.
I asked Owen if that was how it happened. He smiled a little then got a wistful look in his ancient eyes. “Yeah, it’s been distressed. The first bass I ever got.”
walking among ghosts
Saturday, March 28, the day before we laid Mom to rest, was busy. People bringing food, funeral service details, and other matters kept us on the go. Later, as things settled down, I felt the need to spend time alone and the best place to do that was in Double Branches on Aunt Vivian’s farm. It was a beautiful day, the sky a deep blue. As I drove to Double Branches, wonderful childhood memories returned. As a boy, I spent many a day there fishing in the ponds, exploring the pastures and woods, riding an old mule, and playing baseball with childhood friends Jabe, Joe Boy, and Sweetie Boy.
religious intolerance act
For years, you have heard people in the South say: “Thank God for Mississippi!”
They meant that were it not for that state, their own state might rank 50th out of 50 states in some category. Mississippi has traditionally ranked 50th in educational attainment, family income, education and other indices. These other states of the South were mighty pleased that their own state didn’t rank below Mississippi. Of course, their state might rank close to Mississippi, but not dead last.
true to oneself
The arrival of the Great American Backyard Bird Count a few weeks back prompted a once-a-decade bird-feeder cleaning. I have a couple of the dome-over-dish type, and since I look down from my loft-office window, I figured I could count better if I could see through those weather-stained, mold-splotched domes. Should I do the cylindrical one, too, while I was at it? No. Obvi. Foul as it might have been, the cylinder had no apparatus to block my view…
Harvey was two years old when his mother died. He was the youngest of ten children and had little schooling because his father didn’t believe it was important. Harvey’s father had arrived from County Cavan about 1858 with his Scottish parents and five siblings as refugees from the famine that had spread across Ireland. He was twenty seven years old when he married for the first time and forty seven when his wife died leaving him with eight children …
Worthy of Comment
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