The Death Of A Snake-handler
Posted on 05.30.12 by Danny Glover @ 10:52 pm

The Bible clearly teaches that you reap what you sow, and if you play with rattlesnakes and refuse medical treatment after being bitten, eventually the poison will win.

So it was with Mark Randall (Mack) Wolford, the leader of a snake-handling church in West Virginia who, like his father decades ago, died this week after a timber rattlesnake bit him during worship. His sister’s account of what happened: “He laid [the snake] on the ground and he sat down next to the snake, and it bit him on the thigh.”

Wolford is the subject of a forthcoming documentary called “With Signs Following.” You can see his biblically ill-informed, ritualistic snake-handling practices in the trailer, which was released in December:

The saddest part of the story is that Wolford died thinking that God endorsed his method of worship and that his family and followers still believe it. “I’m proud of him and don’t want to see him die … but if he does, it’s still the word,” his mother says in the opening of the film’s trailer.

But hopefully filmmaker Kate Fowler’s analysis will prove prophetic about the impact of Wolford’s death: “He’s kind of been the person who kept the faith alive. I think we’ll see a sharp decline [of snake-handling worship] in West Virginia, at least of people openly practicing the faith.”

The sooner this redneck tradition disappears, the better it will be for the reputation of West Virginia because reporters no longer will have material to write stereotypical features like The Washington Post Magazine did on Wolford last fall.

Filed under: News & Politics and People and Religion and Video and West Virginia and Wildlife
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Why We Home-School, Lesson #43
Posted on 05.29.12 by Danny Glover @ 8:23 pm

We have seen the value of homeschooling in the successes of parents and children from our own community, including 6-year-old Lori Anne Madison, who this week will become the youngest person ever to compete in the National Spelling Bee:

Sorina Vlaicu Madison, Lori Anne’s mother and primary teacher, said she and her daughter have no problem eschewing books and academic pursuits if the outside world is more inviting or their minds are tired. That means swim lessons, play dates, time for games like Angry Birds on the Kindle, and visits to an indoor play center called Kids ‘N Motion.

Madison, who teaches health policy at a local university, laughs at the assumption that she has driven her daughter to spelling heights, perhaps by sheer will or intolerance for failure. “You can’t drill a 6-year-old,” Madison said. “You can’t really force them to do anything.”

Lori Anne earned her spot in the national competition by winning the Prince William County, Va., spelling bee. Most of her rivals this week will be at least twice her age.

Lori Anne’s educational success is not unusual in the homeschooling world. Her peer group regularly excels in competition. Here’s just a short list:

  • Evan O’Dorney, who earned $100,000 by winning the Intel Science Talent Search at age 17 — this after winning the National Spelling Bee at age 14.
  • A team of seven students who won the world championship of robotics, a field where homeschoolers often excel.
  • Calvin McCarter, who won the National Geographic Bee at age 10. A few years later, homeschooler Nathan Cornelius won the bee at age 13.
  • Emily Vanasdale, a winner of the National Center for Women and Information Technology Award.
  • Amy Anderson, who won the U.S. Girls’ Junior Golf Championship and who surprised the professional golf world by finishing with the lowest score in the first round of the 2011 U.S. Open.
  • NFL quarterback Tim Tebow, the first home-schooled student to win the coveted Heisman Trophy while at the University of Florida

You can read plenty of other success stories at the website of the Home School Legal Defense Association, or just Google the phrase “homeschooler wins” and watch them fill your screen. Students who get their education at home are especially good at winning spelling bees.

(Read previous “Why We Home-School” lessons.)

Filed under: Grammar and Home Schooling and Human Interest and News & Politics and Sports and Technology and Why We Home-School
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Comedy Central Gold: ‘Working Stiffed’
Posted on 05.24.12 by Danny Glover @ 10:55 am

I’m not a fan of “The Daily Show” or Comedy Central, the cable channel that airs it, but occasionally Facebook or Twitter friends will point me to a “Daily Show” segment that catches my interest. I missed one called “Working Stiffed” from September 2010, but I discovered it today thanks to a new list of the “Top 10 Conservative ‘Daily Show’ Segments.”

The episode exposes the liberal hypocrisy of a labor union in Nevada that protested Walmart’s employment practices while engaging in those same practices toward the non-union protesters it hired. Ranked No. 1 on the Washington Examiner’s top 10 list, the staged report is hilarious:

The top 10 list also includes a similar report where the show confronted liberal editorial writer Froma Harrop for her hypocrisy. She started a “Civility Project” after she personally had called tea party activists economic terrorists on par with al Qaeda. (Content warning: This video includes profanity.)

This quote from the clip perfectly captures the problem with much of the do-gooder double standards of liberals: “They just don’t get irony. Even when there is almost a dictionary definition of it right in front of them, they just don’t get it.”

Filed under: Entertainment and Just For Laughs and Media and News & Politics and People and Video
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Do You Talk Smarter Than A 10th-Grader?
Posted on 05.22.12 by Danny Glover @ 4:13 pm

Skim the headlines about a new study that says members of Congress don’t sound as smart as they once did, and you might think Americans are represented by a bunch of uneducated buffoons.

“Congress Talking Dumber,” blares the New York Daily News. “Congress Sounding Increasingly Like Teenagers,” says the Los Angeles Times. “Sophomoric?” NPR wonders. “Congress At Loss For Words,” Politico adds.

Many members of Congress may well be buffoons in the sense that they have made the institution dysfunctional, but the suggestion that they are idiots because they now speak at a 10th-grade level instead of an 11th-grade level is elitist bunk.

Here’s a quick rhetorical comparison from the NPR story to illustrate the point:

  • Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Calif., whose verbiage received the highest grade ranking: “This Justice Department, in my judgment, based on the experience I’ve had here in this Congress, 18 years, my years as the chief legal officer of the state of California and 35 or 40 years as a practicing attorney tells me that this administration has fundamentally failed in its obligation to attempt to faithfully carry out the laws of the United States.”
  • Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Ga., who scored the second-lowest ranking in the study (eighth grade): “What do they say about socialism, Mr. Speaker? It’s a great plan until you run out of other people’s money. Guess what? We’ve run out of other people’s money. I just want to show you a chart.”

Which sentence would you rather hear? I struggled to find the point in Lungren’s mountain of words, even with the luxury of reading it, but I understood Woodall’s simple message right away.

Filed under: Culture and Government and History and Media and News & Politics and People
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Bill Stewart, True Blue And Gold
Posted on 05.21.12 by Danny Glover @ 10:08 pm

Some days I’m more proud than others to be a West Virginia boy and a West Virginia University alum. Today, as mournful Mountaineers remember former WVU football coach Bill Stewart, is one of those days.

Stewart died on a West Virginia golf course this afternoon while playing in a charity tournament with Ed Pastilong, the former WVU athletic director who took a chance and hired Stewart as head coach in 2008. At age 59, he was much too young.

Mountaineers have spent the past several hours filling their corner of the Internet with tributes to Stewart. The most popular is Stewart’s “Leave No Doubt” speech, which inspired a Mountaineers team rocked by the cowardly betrayal of Rich (Gotta Get Richer) Rodriguez to an upset victory in the 2008 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl:

This photo also has been saturating my Facebook feed:

But this clip really captures the blue-and-gold enthusiasm that all Mountaineers loved about Bill Stewart, even those fans who didn’t think he was a great coach:

Two quotes from the Associated Press story linked above add context to that clip:

  • WVU athletic director Oliver Luck: “Coach Stewart was a rock-solid West Virginian and a true Mountaineer. His enthusiasm and passion for his state’s flagship university was infectious.”
  • Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.: “Bill was a proud West Virginian in every sense of the word, and he was the best cheerleader this state ever had.”

Everybody could see it, including non-West Virginian sports writers like ESPN’s Brian Bennett, who today explained why Stewart’s legacy at WVU is more than wins and losses:

Nobody loved West Virginia more than the New Martinsville native who spoke reverentially about “the old Gold and Blue” every chance he got. You could have never pictured Stewart leaving the Mountaineers for a supposedly bigger job the way Rich Rodriguez did before the 2008 Fiesta Bowl. …

He was a people person, through and through. On one of my first spring visits, we sat in his office talking for more than 90 minutes even though he had to attend a high school coaches’ clinic that was underway. He asked me more questions than the other way around. On another visit, I was scheduled to drive back to Pittsburgh at the end of the day. Stewart worried that I would be driving into storms and kept checking the weather reports throughout the day. He asked me to let him know that I got back safely that night. How many BCS conference coaches would do that?

But that’s how Stewart was, a genuinely nice and thoughtful person. His players — some of whom, like Noel Devine, had wildly different backgrounds — clearly loved him as a father figure. Players, media members and others who knew him got used to receiving daily inspirational text messages from Stewart while he was coaching.

As Bennett said at the end of his touching essay, “There was no head coach like Bill Stewart, and there weren’t many people quite like him, either.”

Filed under: Adoption and Business and Culture and Human Interest and Media and News & Politics and People and Sports and Video and West Virginia
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Why We Home-School, Lesson #42
Posted on 05.19.12 by Danny Glover @ 3:47 pm

We don’t want our children’s education impacted by meddling bureaucrats who waste our taxpayer dollars twice over on nanny-state dietary rules — once to fund “food police” who patrol school cafeterias and the second time to pay the fines for breaking the rules:

Davis High School has been fined $15,000 after they were caught selling soda pop during lunch hour, which is a violation of federal law.

The federally mandated law prohibits the sale of carbonated beverages after lunch is served. The program is an effort to help fight childhood obesity and to have young students make better food choices.

The principal of the school that now must pay the fine at the expense of music and arts education exposed the nonsensical rules. “We can sell a Snickers bar, but can’t sell licorice,” he said. “We can’t sell Swedish Fish, we can’t sell Starburst, we can’t sell Skittles, but we can sell ice cream, we can sell the Snickers bar, Milky Ways, all that stuff.”

This is the second time in three months that school food police have made news. The first time they were caught confiscating a child’s lunch from home.

(Read previous “Why We Home-School” lessons.)

Filed under: Food and Government and News & Politics and Why We Home-School
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The Obama Legacy
Posted on 05.18.12 by Danny Glover @ 1:29 pm

President Obama’s website team was busted this week for rewriting presidential history by inserting Obama-friendly text into the White House biographies of almost every president who has served dating back to the 1920s — 13 presidents in all.

That ego-driven messaging tactic created great fodder for this parody video of “America’s fourth-greatest president”:

Filed under: Government and History and Just For Laughs and News & Politics and People and Video
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Storytelling The Ken Burns Way
Posted on 05.17.12 by Danny Glover @ 10:02 pm

Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns knows how to tell stories. He has told them brilliantly about defining political and cultural moments in American history — the Civil War, the sport of baseball, jazz music, World War II, national parks and Prohibition.

Today in a short Washington Post film, Burns shared his thoughts about what makes a great story. Here are the highlights, with the film embedded below:

  • “The common story is 1+1=2. … The real genuine stories are about 1 and 1 equaling three. … The things that matter most to us — some people call it love, some people call it God, some people call it reason — is that other thing where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.”
  • “The stories that I like to tell are always interesting because the good guys have really serious flaws and the villains are very compelling. My interest is always in complicating things.”
  • “All story is manipulation. … Is there acceptable manipulation you bet. People say, ‘Oh boy, I was so moved to tears in your film.’ That’s a good thing? I manipulated that. That’s part of storytelling. I didn’t do it disingenuously. I did it sincerely. I am moved by that, too. That’s manipulation.”
  • “We tell stories to continue ourselves. We all think an exception is going to be made in our case, and we’re going to live forever. And being a human is actually arriving at the understanding that that’s not going to be. Story is there to just remind us that it’s just OK.”

Filed under: Entertainment and History and People and Sports and Video
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All The Fishy Trouble You Can Eat
Posted on 05.17.12 by Danny Glover @ 1:45 pm

All-you-can-eat specials have survived the test of culinary time because restaurants make a profit from them. But eventually some large redneck with a larger appetite is bound to make a diner pay for promising an endless supply of food for a set price.

Enter Bill Wisth, the 6-foot-6, 350-pound fish fan that Chuck’s Place in Thiensville, Wis., wishes it hadn’t caught on all-you-can-eat night:

Picking a fight with Wisth after he downed at least a dozen pieces of fish but wanted more probably wasn’t the best marketing tactic for Chuck’s Place. The family restaurant has had problems with Wisth before. This time, he decided to protest the restaurant’s decision to try to cap his food intake.

Word spread far beyond tiny Thiensville, as the story has been told by The Christian Post, Christian Science Monitor, Eater, Gawker, The Huffington Post, International Business Times, NPR, New York Magazine, UPI and many more news outlets.

“I can’t believe how slow a news day it is when they’re bringing camera crews out here,” Chuck’s Place owner Ted Hagen said. “… A radio station in Toronto said they’d give me $200 if I’d let him back in and they could film him eating the fish. I said, ‘I don’t think so.’”

Filed under: Food and Human Interest and Media and News & Politics and People and Rednecks and Video
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The Man vs. The State
Posted on 05.17.12 by Danny Glover @ 1:13 pm

A Facebook friend shared this illustration today. It’s funny and sad at the same time:

The message: Teach a man to fish … and the government will steal his fish.

If you know the origins of the image, please let me know in the comments so I can give proper credit and a link to the source.

Filed under: Culture and Government and Just For Laughs and News & Politics
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