Monday, July 28, 2014

Moving on.

If you just wandered in here from, say, China, you'd think, "I thought this was a blog about public occurrences, wtf?" Yeah, you're right. I decided a little while ago I wanted to write about Western Pennsylvania but had intended there to be more "writing." Fewer pitchers. I intended to write something "literary," something about water and mountains and life and death and fear and courage and all them literary things. Set in a place I know.  I have only written a little of that stuff. I have been "setting the scene." I've been "getting ideas." I don't know where I'm going with it. Yet. I hope there's a "yet" there. So I'm just trying to keep moving.

That map up there. Easy right? You don't have to be Mark Twain to understand that, right? Eight little towns all lined up along a river. Transportation, right? There was lumber and coal in them thar hills and once you got it out of them thar hills you put it on barges or whatever, boats, and floated it down river. To Pittsburgh or Johnstown or whatever. Frigging float it all the way to China. That's what's going on there, right? No.

That thinnest of thin squiggly blue lines, the one almost completely obscured by the bigger cross-hatched green line, is about as deep as it appears to be. The real thing is about six inches deep. The functional transportation artery on that map is the railroad in green. The West Branch of the Susquehanna River is worthless for transportation. You see where Cherry Tree is? Now, I have not verified this as I write but I am pretty sure Cherry Tree was known in Indian times as Canoe Place. You wanna know why it was called Canoe Place?  Because that was the first place where the frigging river was deep enough to float a goddamned Indian canoe! You could maybe put a lump of coal in a bathtub toy boat and float that down--or up--the West Branch of the Susquehanna. Logging? Oh yeah, right. Unless you're logging twigs, you are not floating anything bigger on that river. So, why does the railroad parallel it? Overlay it. I don't frigging know. The land was flatter, maybe? I don't frigging know. But I know you cannot float coal or logs down that frigging thing. My brother and I once had a discussion. "That's the West Branch of the Susquehanna runs through Barnesboro," says I. "That's not the frigging West Branch of the Susquehanna," says he, with warmth. "What is it then!" "It's a shit creek!" "It's not...I mean, it's not just a frigging shit creek, it's too big!"  "It's a big shit creek!" That's what we used to call it growing up, the shit creek. Maybe that should be capitalized.

It is the West Branch of the Susquehanna and it also is a big Shit Creek. It was an open sewer for those eight little towns. One time when I was a kid, I was on my paper route and I stopped on a bridge to be lazy for a minute. And I looked down at the water of one of the little tributaries, the one that comes from Number 9, that flow into the big shit creek. Behold! I saw a log float down toward me. Followed by some toilet paper. Just movin' on down the river. That really made me sick. It's one thing to know it's a shit creek, it's another to see it. That was the end of that rest stop. I moved on.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Anyway, "Immergrun" is neither company nor patch house and it's not in Ebensburg, neither. "Immergrun" is now part of St. Francis University (been there) in Loretto, Cambria County. CardCow makes me sick, too.

"Company houses."

Bakerton (Know Bakerton). This is from, which calls these "patch houses." Don't know patch houses; know company houses. Bakerton's company houses are on the horizontal street at bottom center and on the vertical T-street at right. In between, that long gray-roofed building, is the company store, according to coalcampusa. The "company" store, not the "patch" store, coalcampusa. You make me sick.

"Company houses."

Bens Creek. Not my creek. Never heard of Bens Creek. Bens Creek.

"Company houses."

Colver. Know Colver. Been to Colver. Don't know what came first, Colver or Revloc.

"Company houses."

Undated, location unknown, Cambria County, Pennsylvania. From the Johnstown Area Historical Association,

"Company houses."

Blandburg. My God, Blandburg. Never heard of Blandburg. This is Blandburg, Cambria County, Pennsylvania. Undated photograph, Library of Congress.

"Company houses."

The coal mine companies dominated every aspect of the miners lives. The towns were created by the companies, sometimes, as with Barnesboro, were named for the principal coal mine owner; the companies built identical homes for the miners, who also had to shop in "company stores." This is  Nanty Glo, Cambria County, Pennsylvania, 1937.

Mt. Aloysius College Chapel, Cresson, Cambria County, Pennsylvania.

Atheist Station, Gallitzin, Cambria County, Pennsylvania. Circa 2000's.

St. Mary's Catholic Church, Gallitzin, Cambria County, Pennsylvania. Circa 1900's.

Episcopal Church, Barnesboro, Cambria County, Pennsylvania, circa 1912.

Moving On.

"From Johnstown, the fugitive slaves moved northeasterly through the heavily wooded valleys and gullies of the Appalachian Mountains. The more well known of the two routes … proceeds from Johnstown all the way to Ebensburg, following the trace that eventually became I-219."
                  -Underground Railroad in Pennsylvania, William J. Switala.

In the 1860 presidential election Cambria County voted for Lincoln and Union. After the election Lincoln instituted the draft. Cambria County just said no to the draft. Lincoln turned the war into a referendum on Emancipation. The better angels who ran the modest Underground Railroad in Cambria County were overwhelmed by the opposite sentiment, Copperheadism. For Union, yes, they would fight. To free the slaves, they felt strongly emancipation was not a worthy objective. They made their revised sentiments clear when a draft guy came to Cambria County to enforce conscription and was told his life expectancy was foreshortened the longer he stayed. He got out and reinforcements came in and quelled the Copperheadism. They didn't quell the free and secret ballot though and in 1864 Cambria County voted for the peace Democrat, George B. McClellan disunion, or Union with slavery and voted against Abraham Lincoln's reelection. Pennsylvania voted to reelect.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Mothers at work. Mother Jones in Barnesboro, Cambria County, Pennsylvania, 1899. 

Boys at play, Nanty Glo, Cambria County, Pennsylvania, 1943. Alfred Eisenstaedt.

"Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality."-Danielle Allen.

"This is a strange and remarkable book...[N]o one has ever written a book on the Declaration quite like this one. If we read the Declaration of Independence slowly and carefully, Danielle Allen believes, then the document can become a basic primer for our democracy. It can be something that all of us--not just scholars and educated elites but common people--can participate in, and should participate in if we want to be good democratic citizens."
-Gordon S. Wood, New York Review of Books, August 14, 2014.

Heh-heh-heh. Oh dear. With good nature we offer the above as counter--hallucinating, headquarters-in-hindquarters, put-down-your-crack-pipe, stay-away-from-strong-magnets-with-that-plate-in-your-head, counter--to the slow, careful reading of the Dec. of Ind. that we have done made here our ownselves. And have wrote about. 

Friday, July 25, 2014

In the car a few minutes ago when the news came on, from the BBC at this hour. Iraq, Israel, Ukraine. Formal, unemotional reading, soft female voice. The last story:

Wikipedia administrators have imposed a ban on page edits from computers at the US House of Representatives, following "persistent disruptive editing". The 10-day block comes after anonymous changes were made to entries on politicians and businesses.The biography of former US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld was edited to say that he was an "alien lizard". BBC News.

Seeking the Soul of Russia.

After denying responsibility for MH17 and pledging cooperation in any investigation, Russian President Vladimir Putin has gone all in with the Russian separatists in Ukraine. More Ukrainian aircraft have been shot down, Russia has begun shelling Ukraine from Russia, and the movement of heavy artillery from Russia into Ukraine is reported as "imminent." All of this has been in the face of increased sanctions from the U.S. and the E.U. The struggle within the Kremlin for the soul of Russia has turned hard anti-West once again.

It's Friday. Coal miners children, Nanty Glo, Cambria County, Pennsylvania, 1943. Alfred Eisenstaedt.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Does Radar Work?

"Air Algerie plane disappears from radar in West Africa, 116 on board."-Washington Post.

This is unbelievable.

AH5017 "apparently" has been found though, "apparently" crashed in Mali, all on board killed.

-Okay, strike "apparently crashed" and "all on board killed," it's "missing" per French President Francois Hollande. "We still don't know what happened," Hollande added helpfully. Image: The Genius of France Between Liberty and Death, Jean-Baptiste Regnault (1795). (7:53 pm).

-Now, we do have this intelligence from The New York Times:

"Moumouni Barro, Burkina Faso’s director of airports, said in a telephone interview from Ouagadougou that a resident of Gossi, a village in Mali between Mopti and Gao, near the border with Burkina Faso, “saw the plane fall from the sky” around 1:50 a.m., during a storm. Mr. Barro said the resident’s account was credible and that searchers were at work in the area."

The "director of airports." Of "Burkina Faso." Vouches for the credibility of  "a resident" of  "Gossi" in Mali. Sure, I'd print that. That's news that's fit to print. Take that sucker to the bank.

But wait!:

"However, other people in Gossi, including the town’s mayor, who were reached by telephone Thursday afternoon could not confirm the report that the plane had been seen there."

We trust the Times will keep us posted as it works its way through the Gossi, Mali phone book. (8:02 pm)

-I'm sure this is on CNN right now--and will be for the next 103 straight days. There is Mali, "Mali," and there is "Burkina Faso." And you can see Mopti and Gao. Don't see "Gossi" but Gossi is between Mopti and Gao, according to The New York Times. And Gossi is where Our Man in Mali, confidential informant numero uno reported seeing AH5017 "fall from the sky." According to the director of airports in Burkina Faso. As told to The New York Times. But, Gossi is also where a Statesman and "other people" challenge the eyesight of Our Man in Mali. Now this commercial break. Back in a flash. (8:31 pm).

-"The Burkina government said in a statement late Thursday that searchers had found the wreckage of 
Flight 5017 at around 6:40 p.m., “on Malian territory, about 30 miles from our borders.”-New York Times (July 25, 2:36 am).

Does America Still Work?

"Inmate's Execution Takes Two Hours."-USAToday.

Americans will recognize that headline. Non-Americans, this happens constantly in America. It is mind-boggling. We can't even kill people anymore.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


This is from Forbes by Gordon G. Chang:

What’s wrong in China?  Xi Jinping, Communist Party general secretary since November 2012, has launched a nationwide anti-corruption campaign that has terrorized most everyone holding a position of responsibility in government.  The newish leader famously promised to take down both “tigers”—those of high rank—and “flies,” and he has made a bold start.

So far, he has stripped Bo Xilai, once China’s most charismatic politician, of all assets and sent him to prison for life for corruption and abuse of power. 
Xi is now going after the underlings in the patronage network of his predecessor, Hu Jintao, and there is evidence to suggest he is also gunning for Hu’s predecessor, Jiang Zemin.  The moves, therefore, look like attempts to bring down both Jiang, the leader of the Shanghai Gang faction, and Hu, head of the Communist Youth League faction.  Xi, it seems, is in the midst of destroying all other power centers in the country’s ruling organization, firmly rejecting the live-and-let-live mentality that has kept peace in Beijing since the sentencing of the Gang of Four in early 1981.

As a part of this ambitious effort, Xi is also targeting senior military officers, most notably Xu Caihou, a Jiang ally.  The gravely ill Xu—stricken by cancer—was stripped of Party membership at the end of last month and, despite his retirement, will be court martialed for taking bribes and selling promotions to junior officers.  The former general is the most senior officer ensnared in an investigation of this sort since the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949.  The PLA Daily, the military’s most authoritative publication, has carried numerous reports this year of generals and admirals condemning Xu and taking what are tantamount to public loyalty oaths to Xi.
Xi, to be sure, is incarcerating corrupt figures, but he is not doing so for their corruption.  He is purging political opponents using corruption as an excuse.  Tellingly, none of the individuals Xi has put away is either one of his family members or a supporter.  And if China’s leader was really determined to rid his country of corruption, he would not be relentlessly jailing anti-corruption activists.
Xi’s campaign is now so ferocious that some Chinese think they could be on the eve of another Cultural Revolution.
“How many times have you heard the Chinese described as pragmatists?” Arthur Waldron, the University of Pennsylvania’s famed historian, asked me the beginning of this month.  “They’re not.”


Never want to have a picture of you and the guy at left surface. Xu Caihou, former Politburo member and Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission was charged recently with graft-related offenses. He's been kicked out of the CPC.

"Ukraine Says 2 Fighter Jets Are Shot Down As Clashes Intensify."-New York Times.

"UKRAINE SAYS:" Is that where we are to place the emphasis as we read that? I don't know.

Seeking the Soul of Russia.

Boy oh boy, U.S. Senator John McCain says Russian President Vladimir Putin is "getting away with murder" in MH17. The latest U.S. intel reports are that there is no "direct link" to Moscow but that Moscow "created the conditions," pretty similar to what President Obama, Secretary of State Kerry and The New York Times have been saying. The problem there is Obama and Kerry and U.S. spooks were equally certain only military action was necessary to get Syria to give up chemical wmd. The same U.S. intel people say their best judgment now is that the shoot-down was a "mistake." Okay, let's dispose of that one right now: if by "mistake," they mean the Russian separatists shot down MH17 thinking it was a Ukrainian military plane, that's no mistake, they had no right shooting down a Ukrainian plane; in criminal law that's called transferred intent. Then a Putin advisor accused Kiev of being "the West's henchmen" while a former advisor said he couldn't believe the level of anti-Western sentiment coming out of the Kremlin these days. There seems to be a bit of a struggle going on for the soul of Russia.

It should be enough that the SAM was fired by Russian separatists from a separatist-controlled area in Ukraine, enough of a "link" to Putin, that is. I thought that was established. These latest reports are at least confusing the issue though for if the above is enough, why not leave it there? Unless the above is not considered enough or unless these latest reports are intended to imply indirectly that that "enough" itself is under reconsideration. Drat this!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

"Nigerian president meets parents of abducted girls."-TVNZ.

What's that guy's name, "Feelgood" or "Happytime" or something?
The government of Canada was a visitor today., the whole government.
Top X most-read posts today:

1. China's Great Wall of Silence, Aug. 6, 2010.
2. China's Great Wall of Silence, Feb. 16, 2008.
3. China's Great Wall of Silence, June 28, 2010.
4. China's Great Wall of Silence, Sept. 30, 2009.
5. China's Great Wall of Silence, Aug. 19, 2010.
6. China's Great Wall of Silence, Sept. 29, 2009.
7. China's Great Wall of Silence, April 29, 2007.
8. China's Great Wall of Silence, Nov. 28, 2011.
9. China's Great Wall of Silence, June 16, 2010.
10. Kiribati.

I see a pattern there. LeBron James is in China. I see!

"I'm Coming Home."

LeBron James just sees things other people can't see. On the basketball court, in life. He is the best basketball player in the world and also one of the most intelligent men in the sport. I did not realize until today that the two year contract he signed with Cleveland is actually a one year with the second at his option. ?  That's more like "I'm coming home to visit." In his Sports Illustrated essay James was definitive that Cleveland was not ready to win a championship immediately ("No way.").  ??  Don't see what he sees.