This morning I saw a story on Facebook about Pokemon Go, the latest mobile gaming craze. It goes like this:
I like this version of America better than the one in the news last week. Plus I hear hunting Pokemon is good exercise. I may have to download Pokemon Go and give it a try — if I can manage to log into the game.
Filed under: Culture and Entertainment and Human Interest
If you’ve never heard of Nathaniel Bettes, read this story about his contributions to the cause of American Revolution. He was a true patriot.
But my favorite anecdote from his life has nothing to do with the sacrifices he made for liberty. Instead, I liked the answer he gave the deacons of his church when they scolded him for hunting on a Sunday, a violation of what many Americans consider the “Christian Sabbath.”
This was Bettes’ defense:
Surely that is somewhere in the Bible.
Filed under: History and Hunting & Guns and Rednecks and Religion
The ignorance of the media when it comes to West Virginia never ceases to amaze those of us who are from the Mountain State. We’re impressed when journalists, especially those who cover sports, even know that West Virginia and Virginia are separate states or that Charleston is the name of our state capital, not just a coastal city in South Carolina.
This week, two members of the media (broadly speaking to include Hollywood) displayed their ignorance of West Virginia’s history on the same day, both of them in reference to the state’s birth during the Civil War. The culprits were:
With their commentaries in mind, now is a good time to revisit one of the most interesting statehood stories in American history. Consider this the CliffsNotes version of West Virginia history for the dummies in the media and entertainment complex.
In fairness to Bump, he was technically correct when he said “Congress consented to the creation of West Virginia as a new American state,” but he left out important context. The Congress that consented included a reconstituted Virginia delegation with a pro-West Virginia slant. The Virginia that existed before the Civil War joined the Confederacy and had no votes in Congress. Neither did any of the Southern states that presumably would have voted against West Virginia statehood.
The war, in other words, created a political and constitutional mess that tilted the balance of power in favor of West Virginia statehood.
Although ardent abolitionist Thaddeus Stevens, R-Pa., voted to create West Virginia, he thought it was “a mockery” to say that splitting Virginia was constitutional. President Abraham Lincoln also had doubts. He thought the idea was “dreaded as a precedent” but also “made expedient by a war.” His answer to charges that the Union in effect endorsed secession in one case while going to war over it in another: In West Virginia’s case, it was “secession in favor of the Constitution.”
I understand why Bump didn’t include all of that information. His story was about the potential legality of secession in America today, and West Virginia’s path to statehood was only one aspect of that topic. But his shorthand account of the events could mislead people into thinking West Virginia’s secession from Virginia wasn’t controversial. It was. The Supreme Court didn’t settle the issue until a 6-3 ruling in 1870.
Ross’ gaffe was more egregious than Bump’s. In trying to dispel one myth that “the South was monolithic” during the Civil War, he repeated another one — that “the State of West Virginia broke off from the State of Virginia because they were not in agreement with the goals of the Confederacy.”
That simplistic analysis is similar to arguing that the Civil War was about states’ rights instead of slavery, one of the myths that Ross tackled. Southern rebellion was more of an expediency for western Virginians to accomplish a goal they had long desired than it was a rejection of the Confederacy.
This is evident in the number of West Virginians who fought for the Confederacy — 18,000 of them compared with 32,000 for the Union. The one thing that even those who are ignorant of West Virginia associate with the state is the Hatfield-McCoy feud. What many of them don’t know, or have forgotten, is that the feud has its roots in the Civil War and that “Devil Anse” Hatfield of West Virginia fought for the Confederacy.
The division of the country over slavery in general, and Virginia’s decision to side with the South in particular, just created an atmosphere for a rebellion within the rebellion. West Virginians always were and always will be different from Virginians, and the war gave our ancestors the political clout they needed to create a geographical split that had existed along economical, ancestral and cultural lines for generations. Ross’ myth-busting video for The Huffington Post distorted that reality.
The mistakes that Bump and Ross made weren’t as superficial as getting the name of West Virginia wrong or forgetting about its capital city. But coming as they did only seven days after West Virginia Day, they were worth noting.
Maybe in the future journalists who care enough to research West Virginia history before they write or talk about it will find this blog post and get some much-needed education.
Filed under: Blogging and History and Media and People and West Virginia
Comments: 1 Comment
I was excited this week when Matt Lauer headed to “The Today Show” kitchen for a segment with food critic Katie Lee on West Virginia’s state food, the pepperoni roll. The Mountain State rarely gets good press on a national scale, so a plug on a popular morning show couldn’t be a bad thing, right?
Then I watched in horror as Lee, a native of Milton, W.Va., proved that she is more foodie than hillbilly. She perverted the perfect simplicity of the pepperoni roll — homemade dough, slices or chunks of pepperoni, cheese and sometimes a little sauce — with a recipe that includes broccoli. Yes, broccoli!
To make culinary matters worse, Lee didn’t even craft her concoction into the form of actual rolls. She fashioned something that looked more like a stromboli, cut it into “12 even rounds” and then cooked them in a casserole dish. She served the meal with banana peppers and marinara sauce on the side.
News flash to Billy Joel’s ex-wife: That is not how you make pepperoni rolls! You’ve been living in the big city too long.
I’m not an anti-broccolite like George H.W. Bush, who famously banned them from the White House menu during his presidency. I might even like the recipe that Katie Lee invented. But she needs to pick a better name for it than pepperoni rolls.
The history behind the redneck delicacy exposes the flaws in Lee’s recipe. The inventor of the pepperoni roll, Giuseppe (Joseph) Argiro, got the idea from watching his fellow coal miners on their lunch breaks.
“A common lunch for immigrant miners, according to Giuseppe’s younger son, Frank Argiro, consisted of ‘a slab of bread, a chunk of pepperoni, and a bucket of water.’ At some point between 1927 and 1938 — nobody seems to know exactly when — Giuseppe began placing the spicy pepperoni within the bread, and the pepperoni roll was born.”
The food came into existence because miners needed something that was meaty enough to get them through the day and practical enough to take into a mine. Lee’s version is not the least bit practical.
The State of West Virginia may need to create the mountaineer equivalent of a “man card” for expatriates like Lee just so the card can be revoked for egregious behavior like this:
Filed under: Entertainment and Food and People and Video and West Virginia
Filed under: Just For Laughs and News & Politics and Video
Comments: 1 Comment
I knew Lady Gaga had some West Virginia roots — she even gave the state a plug in her song “Born This Way” — but until today I didn’t know her Mom was a West Virginia University cheerleader.
That bit of history popped into my Facebook feed yesterday in the form of a picture of Mother Gaga in WVU cheerleading garb, and Lady Gaga herself confirmed it today by sharing the photo on Instagram. The family resemblance is obvious.
Filed under: Music and People and Social Media and Technology and West Virginia
Comments: 1 Comment
Jeb Bush delivered a stern message to Donald Trump at the Republican presidential debate last December: “You’re not going to be able to insult your way to the presidency. That’s not going to happen.” Bush was so certain of the claim that he repeated it later in the debate.
A few weeks later, Sen. Ted Cruz questioned Trump’s demeanor for the presidency after Trump aimed a series of Twitter barbs at Cruz. “I think in terms of a commander-in-chief,” Cruz said, “we ought to have someone who isn’t springing out of bed to tweet in a frantic response to the latest polls.”
But if the results of this week’s Iowa caucuses are any indication, both Bush and Cruz may be wrong. Even though he finished second to Cruz, Trump won 24 percent of the vote in the first balloting of the 2016 campaign. It sure looks like plenty of Americans are comfortable with the idea of a president who throws rhetorical sticks and stones.
Instead of being “the worst thing that ever happened in Donald Trump’s life,” Twitter may be his ticket to the White House. It’s the perfect platform for calling out all of the “stupidity” he sees in America, whether real or imagined.
Trump’s love of all words denigrating is well-documented and predates his presidential campaign. He has been ranting online for years.
But Trump really came into his own boorish self once he launched his bid to become the leader of the free world. The insults have been flowing freely since then — so much so that both The New York Times and The Washington Post have compiled lists of all the people, companies and entire professions he has trashed.
“It’s quite a Twitter stream Trump has going there — if you’re into gawking at gruesome highway wrecks, that is,” technology activist Lauren Weinstein wrote in a blog post suggesting that Twitter should ban Trump. “Onslaughts against individuals. Similar attacks against organizations, even against entire races. White supremacist propaganda. On and on and on. Try retrospectively reading Donald’s tweets without feeling the need to vomit — virtually impossible if you’re a socialized human being and not someone raised by hyenas.”
Trump’s crudest attacks trigger feeding frenzies in the press, making his enemies giddy with anticipation of falling poll numbers that never come.
But his rudeness has become so routine that most people don’t even pay attention — and when they do it’s often to celebrate Trump’s willful intolerance of the tolerance police or his willingness to get in the faces of journalists. A large swath of the electorate seems eager to follow any leader with the guts to be politically incorrect, and he is a master at promoting that persona, especially online.
“The relationship between Trump and Twitter is the perfect marriage of man and medium,” The Daily Beast concluded. “His terse insults are perfectly suited to the 140-character form and his controversy-a-day campaign feeds off of Twitter’s short attention span.” CNN media reporter Brian Stelter recognized Trump’s Twitter mastery, too: “I can’t help but wonder if his Twitter account is more effective at this point than a TV ad.”
Trump has been so good at being bad that, win or lose the presidency, he deserves a book to memorialize his infamous nastiness – one that mean-spirited people can turn to for offensive inspiration. I’ve published that book, including dozens of embedded Trump insults, at Storify.
Filed under: Culture and Media and News & Politics and People and Social Media and Technology
As of today, I’m officially a registered drone owner! That means I’ve agreed to fly by these rules:
These rules already existed, and they are reasonable precautions to ensure safe skies. I’m not sure what the big deal is, so I readily registered before Jan. 21 to get a credit for the $5 fee.
(Full disclosure: I’m a writer at the FAA, but I’m speaking only for me.)
Filed under: Aviation and Government and Technology
Comments: 1 Comment
There are no cougars in Wayne County, W.Va. By official accounts, there are no cougars anywhere in wild, wonderful West Virginia. In fact, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concluded in 2011 that the eastern cougar is no longer endangered because it is extinct.
But for a few days last month, a Prichard, W.Va., man named J.R. Hundley deceived a whole bunch of gullible people on Facebook into thinking he had seen one near his house. “I think he killed my [pit bull]! Something tore him up pretty bad,” Hundley wrote Dec. 16.
When asked by Facebook readers, Hundley divulged phony details about the origins of the picture. He implied that he took the photo on “my driveway up the hill to my house” on Lower Gragston Creek Road. When one reader voiced concern about a free-roaming mountain lion killing pets and livestock, Hundley even offered this reassurance about the one he never actually saw: “I was gone, came home and found him. He wasn’t mean at all!”
Nearly 1,600 people shared his warning about a puma on the prowl in the hills, and another 600 liked it. You could tell from the comments that locals wanted to believe it was true, if only to justify their unfounded fears that mountain lions are in the area. Some people spread rumors of their own.
“We saw one cross the road in Prichard a few years ago in front of us, but it was black,” Carrie Ann Bragg wrote. Kathy Baker Rice shared this tale: “I saw one on Bear Creek a few years ago, just about three miles from Buchanan, Ky., which is across the Big Sandy River from Prichard. Huge.”
Cara Nelson-Hall suggested that the mountain lion Hundley imagined was not alone. “They’re on Davis branch. We hear them,” she said. And Jim Reed cried conspiracy by state game officials. “I bet DNR released him out there, lol,” he said half-jokingly. “I would call them and ask them if they did and tell them to pay [you] for your pit bull.”
Appalachian Magazine bought into Hundley’s story, touting it and other alleged sightings of mountain lions in Appalachia under the headline “Mountain Lion Sighted in West Virginia.” Several readers told their own cougar tales in the comments of the magazine’s Facebook page and ridiculed the doubters.
“Anyone that thinks there are no panthers in West Virginia is a fool,” Opal Marcum said. “They are in Wayne County, Mingo County and Logan County for sure. Just because you don’t see them doesn’t mean they don’t see you.”
But discerning readers quickly pegged Hundley as a hoaxer. “Also look out for the notorious Sasquatch,” Travis Boone mocked. “He’s around too!!”
Some critics assumed that the picture was real and that Hundley edited a mountain lion into it. But as it turns out, the entire photo is real (along with a second one like it). Hundley just didn’t take it.
The photos were published on three Facebook pages, Hunting Trophy Trips, Oregon Outdoor Hunters and Oregon Outdoor Council. Oregon State University forestry student Hayden England saw the cougar March 10 while working in the field near Vida, Ore., and the McKenzie River.
Filed under: History and Hunting & Guns and Media and People and Social Media and West Virginia and Wildlife
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