The Myth Of The Impala Mama
Posted on 02.18.17 by Danny Glover @ 1:50 pm

Finnish photographer Alison Buttigieg loves cats. The Internet loves cats. But these days Buttigieg hates the Internet because it’s lying about one of her cat photos.

It all started Feb. 11. Someone who knows her work as a wildlife photographer recognized a cheetah picture of hers online. That wasn’t necessarily a surprise  —  Buttigieg published the “remarkable” photo on her blog, Facebook and Instagram last November after it won an international award. But the flood of messages that started pouring in from strangers that day stunned her.

An intellectual property thief had stolen her photo, invented a feel-good back-story for it, and engineered a viral sensation  —  one that wasn’t exactly flattering to Buttigieg. The tall tale portrayed the three cheetahs in the photo as heartless killers, their impala prey as a self-sacrificial mother and Buttigieg as a fragile soul who sank into depression after documenting a feline feast.

“In the beginning I thought it was absolutely hilarious, even the trolling,” she told me in an email interview six days after the hoax spread. “But then it was suddenly really overwhelming when I realized there wasn’t much I could do.”

Buttigieg is an information technology consultant whose passion for animals and for wild places inspired a foray into photography. She has carried a camera on wildlife journeys around the world for 13 years and started taking the photographic aspect of her observations more seriously about four years ago.

“I see my photos as a means to spread awareness about wildlife and the need to protect them and their habitat,” she said.

Buttigieg has shot pictures on three continents  —  Africa, Asia and South America. Her favorite places include Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in Botswana and South Africa, and the Massai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya. In September 2013, she was near the latter location, at the Olare Motorogi Conservancy, when she saw a family of cheetahs trap a lone impala.

Cats of all kinds fascinate Buttigieg because of their beauty and expressive faces. Cheetahs stand out in the felidae species for their speed, quirks and sounds. The guides at the conservancy knew she loved cheetahs, and a mother and two adolescents were near the camp during her visit.

Read the rest of the story at Medium.


Filed under: Blogging and Human Interest and People and Photography and Social Media and Technology and Travel and Wildlife
Comments: 1 Comment

OneFootWandering Through Life On Instagram
Posted on 01.19.17 by Danny Glover @ 6:16 pm

This is one photo of many posted by a young woman who had to have her foot amputated because of cancer. She kept the foot and now takes it with her as she journeys through Instagram life under the moniker “OneFootWander.”

A photo posted by cancer foot (@onefootwander) on

Kristi Loyall explained the idea behind the foot and how it has helped her cope:

It was my cousin’s friend’s idea. They messaged me on Facebook and said they had an idea that I should start an Instagram for my foot. I wanted to do it to make other people and myself laugh.

I was excited when 100 people were following my foot. A lot of people have left positive and kind comments. I didn’t really expect that. It actually made me feel better about my situation. It’s made my outlook on life more positive. I used to be kind of pessimistic.

She has one twisted sense of humor. I like it.


Filed under: Just For Laughs and People and Photography and Social Media and Technology
Comments: None

Katherine Johnson: A W.Va. Success Story
Posted on 01.17.17 by Danny Glover @ 8:13 pm

My wife and I watched the movie “Hidden Figures” over the weekend, and the best part was discovering that one of the three main characters, Katherine Johnson, is a West Virginia native.

Here’s what WVU Magazine had to say in a story about Johnson and other “Barrier Breakers“:

You’ve likely heard about the new biographical drama film ‘Hidden Figures,’ about a team of three black female mathematicians who helped calculate flight trajectories for groundbreaking space projects, including the 1969 Apollo 11 flight to the moon.

The leader of the group was White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., native Katherine Johnson, also the first black woman to desegregate graduate studies at WVU in 1938. At the time, she was one of three black students, and the only female, to attend graduate studies at WVU following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that required public universities to accept black graduate students if similar courses weren’t available at black colleges.

Although her stay at WVU was brief – she spent just one summer here – Johnson was awarded an honorary degree from the university in 2016 and is widely acclaimed as an American space pioneer. In 2015, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award given by the president. Following a historic career with NASA, Johnson, now 98, lives in Newport News, Va.”

I love learning the stories of famous West Virginians, especially those whose successes shatter the stereotypes of the great Mountain State as the land of hillbillies, rednecks and rubes. You can learn more about Johnson via NASA, which ended its story about her by saying, “Not bad, for a little girl from West Virginia.”

Here’s what President Obama had to say about Johnson when awarding her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, followed by the text of the award citation:

Growing up in West Virginia, Katherine Johnson counted everything. She counted steps. She counted dishes. She counted the distance to the church. By 10 years old, she was in high school. By 18, she had graduated from college with degrees in math and French. As an African-American woman, job options were limited — but she was eventually hired as one of several female mathematicians for the agency that would become NASA.

Katherine calculated the flight path for America’s first mission in space, and the path that put Neil Armstrong on the moon. She was even asked to double-check the computer’s math on John Glenn’s orbit around the Earth. So if you think your job is pressure-packed, hers meant that forgetting to carry the one might send somebody floating off into the Solar System. In her 33 years at NASA, Katherine was a pioneer who broke the barriers of race and gender, showing generations of young people that everyone can excel in math and science, and reach for the stars.

Citation: With her razor-sharp mathematical mind, Katherine G. Johnson helped broaden the scope of space travel, charting new frontiers for humanity’s exploration of space, and creating new possibilities for all humankind. From sending the first American to space to the first moon landing, she played a critical role in many of NASA’s most important milestones. Katherine G. Johnson refused to be limited by society’s expectations of her gender and race while expanding the boundaries of humanity’s reach.


Filed under: Government and History and Movies and People and Technology and Video and West Virginia
Comments: None

Elite America’s Irrational Fear Of Rednecks
Posted on 01.13.17 by Danny Glover @ 8:01 pm

Some Americans are so irrational that they fear fellow humans just because they work in blue-collar jobs or like the National Rifle Association. People who don’t think the way they do, embrace the causes they hold dear or even eat at the fancy restaurants they like are “white trash” worthy of scorn.

USA Today columnist Glenn Reynolds shared a few recent anecdotes and quotes to illustrate this phobia, all of them in response to the election of Donald Trump as president:

Ned Resnikoff, a “senior editor” at the liberal website ThinkProgress, wrote on Facebook that he’d called a plumber to fix a clogged drain. … “He was a perfectly nice guy and a consummate professional. But he was also a middle-aged white man with a Southern accent who seemed unperturbed by this week’s news.”

This created fear: “While I had him in the apartment, I couldn’t stop thinking about whether he had voted for Trump, whether he knew my last name is Jewish, and how that knowledge might change the interaction we were having inside my own home.” When it was all over, Resnikoff reported that he was “rattled” at the thought that a Trump supporter might have been in his home. “I couldn’t shake the sense of potential danger.”

… [A]nother piece on reacting to the election, by Tim Kreider in The Week, is titled “I love America. It’s Americans I hate.” Writes Kreider, “The public is a swarm of hostile morons, I told her. You don’t need to make them understand you; you just need to defeat them, or wait for them die. … A vote for Trump is kind of like a murder.”

… [I]n a notorious Yale Law Journal article, feminist law professor Wendy Brown wrote about an experience in which, after a wilderness hike, she returned to her car to find it wouldn’t start. A man in an NRA hat spent a couple of hours helping her get it going, but rather than display appreciation for this act of unselfishness, Brown wrote that she was lucky she had friends along, as a guy like that was probably a rapist.

As Reynolds notes, this kind of class bigotry isn’t new in America. It’s actually older than the country, as documented in great detail last year by historian Nancy Isenberg in the book “White Trash.” It is a dry read at times, but the stories in it are remarkable, in part because they stretch over hundreds of years.

The current angst among America’s elite shows that nothing has changed. Ironically, this new wave of narrow-mindedness started with the political ascension of a billionaire celebrity named Trump.


Filed under: Books and Culture and Hatin' On Rednecks and History and News & Politics and People and Rednecks
Comments: None

The Ungolden Rule Is Worth 300,000 Pennies
Posted on 01.12.17 by Danny Glover @ 5:10 pm

If you ever need an anecdote to illustrate the opposite of the Golden Rule in action, this story from Virginia should do the trick nicely:

After carting the fifth and final wheelbarrow of pennies into the Lebanon Department of Motor Vehicles Wednesday, Nick Stafford could feel the burn in his arms. Winded, Stafford took a smoke break in the DMV’s parking lot. “I’m not used to lifting,” Stafford said. “These are heavy.”

Heavy, indeed. The 300,000 pennies the Cedar Bluff, Virginia man took to the DMV Wednesday morning to pay sales tax on two new cars weighed in at 1,600 pounds. A mature Holstein cow weighs about 1,500 pounds.

See, Stafford had a bone to pick with the DMV. It wasn’t about agonizingly long lines or a bad picture on his driver’s license: It came down to 10 phone numbers. And Stafford ended up filing three lawsuits and spending at least $1,005 to give the DMV his 2 cents.

The story even comes with a quote that is the antithesis of the Golden Rule: “If they were going to inconvenience me, then I was going to inconvenience them.”

Stafford was legally in the right and the Virginia DMV officials were in the wrong, but talk about biting off your nose to spite your face! Stafford went to great trouble and expense all so he could say, “I think I proved my point here.”

Sure, I chuckled at the thought of bureaucrats being forced to count 300,000 pennies as the consequence for having denied a taxpayer basic information he was entitled to get. Many of us are tempted to seek revenge after such aggravating experiences — and sometimes we do, though probably to a far lesser degree.

But what struck me about this story was the depth of Stafford’s bitterness. He undoubtedly had many nights to examine his own attitude and reconsider his course of vindictiveness, yet Stafford woke up every morning determined to be a bigger jerk than the DMV officials.

Filing a freedom-of-information request to get the one telephone number he needed was a reasonable response to bureaucratic stonewalling. Picking a court over phone numbers he didn’t need was petty. Hiring people to bash open rolls of pennies, buying wheelbarrows to haul those pennies into a government office, and watching gleefully for hours as public servants satisfied his spiteful demand was downright cruel.

The man who thinks he is the hero of this story actually is the villain.


Filed under: Culture and Government and Human Interest and News & Politics and People and Religion
Comments: None

Explaining West Virginia
Posted on 12.21.16 by Danny Glover @ 12:42 pm

This is true while also being aggravating and amusing at the same time:

To those of us from West Virginia, it’s highly amusing to hear commentators in Washington and New York attempt to explain why out-of-work coal miners, steelworkers and construction workers voted so overwhelmingly for Donald Trump.

The post-election Washington Post column above follows a reported Post feature from the Mountain State, where the newspaper gave West Virginians a chance to explain for themselves why they voted for Trump. Here are some excerpts:

  • “West Virginians are realists. The mines have been shut down, the railroads have been torn up, the preparation plants have closed. A lot of stuff has been done that can’t be undone. But I’m really looking forward to this president. It’s kind of refreshing to see people come into government who know how business works.”
  • “I like the way he talks — straight, not like that Hillary [Clinton], the way she got up there and shook her finger and said she’d shut every mine down. What would that do to West Virginia?”
  • “Trump was just what people here have always been — skeptical of government, almost libertarian. He’s a West Virginia pipe dream: He’s going to undo the damage to the coal industry and bring back the jobs, and all of our kids down there in North Carolina are going to come home. … If the economy turns around, he’ll get the credit.”

And here’s a piece in Reason magazine, written by a West Virginian, that explores why poverty-stricken people in places like his native McDowell County don’t just leave.

The short answer: It’s complicated. Read the whole story for the long answer. It’s worth it if you’re the least bit interested in understanding the redneck mindset.


Filed under: News & Politics and People and Rednecks and West Virginia
Comments: None

The Photog Who Saw Trump As A Phenom
Posted on 12.12.16 by Danny Glover @ 12:24 pm

This is how journalism is supposed to work — you go places and report what you see and hear, even if you don’t like it: “I don’t like Trump, not in the least bit, but I was watching him resonate.”

[Chris] Arnade sought the poor or unfashionable areas in every location, whether Worcester, Mass.; Utica, N.Y.; Bridgeport, Conn.; Baltimore; or El Paso.

By the summer of 2015, shortly after Trump declared his candidacy, something remarkable was happening. “Everybody I talked to wanted to vote for Trump,” he said. “There was a big disconnect between what you’d see in the press and what I’d hear on the ground.”

He kept going: Buffalo. Kingston, Tenn. Milwaukee. Selma, Ala. He would find the McDonald’s in the poor part of town, or the Walmart parking lot, places he described as ad hoc community centers.

Back in May, when many were still pooh-poohing Trump’s chances, Arnade wrote a notable series of tweets: If Trump didn’t win this time around, it would only be because he was such a deeply flawed candidate; but some Trumplike figure soon would capi­tal­ize on people’s anger and disenfranchisement.

The photographer who watched this phenomenon unfold wasn’t a journalist by training. He saw the story the “real” journalists couldn’t because he drove into flyover country with open eyes and an open mind.

The media elites should take the lesson to heart. They won’t.


Filed under: Media and News & Politics and People and Photography
Comments: None

A Voice Of Reason For The Age Of Trump
Posted on 11.12.16 by Danny Glover @ 12:05 pm

On Tuesday, Americans elected Donald Trump as their next president. He won a convincing majority of the Electoral College vote, but Hillary Clinton won more popular votes than Trump.

That reality alone would be enough to irritate Clinton’s supporters under normal circumstances. Now add to that the fact that few political analysts expected Trump to win and that many people rejected Trump as a candidate not only because they disagreed with his political philosophy and policy ideas but also because they deemed him unfit to be president.

That is a recipe for the kind of hostility Americans are seeing in the days since the election, be it in street protests that sometimes turn into riots or bitter and angry online exchanges. Some students were so distraught by Trump’s election that colleges canceled classes. It’s ugly out there right now.

The country needs voices of reason in this atmosphere, and one of them emerged a couple of days after the election in an unexpected place — West Virginia, the heart of Trump territory. Every county in the Mountain State voted for him, with Oklahoma being the only other state where that happened, and 69 percent of West Virginians voted for Trump.

Three days after the balloting, as news of post-election angst and turmoil mounted, West Virginia University president E. Gordon Gee issued a statement to encourage free speech, responsibility, tolerance of all views and open debate in the WVU community. Here’s an excerpt:

Our community must be a safe, supportive home for all Mountaineers. It must be a place where we celebrate the freedom to speak and accept the responsibility to listen and understand.

On our campus, we will come together to argue and rebut, debate and debunk, learn and teach. We can accept nothing else. The only thing we will not tolerate is intolerance.

We will be what a university must be. Not an echo chamber that reinforces fashionable thought. Not a talk-show spectacle where the loudest and most vulgar voices prevail. But an incubator for open and respectful discourse regarding even the most contentious issues.

The statement is full of progressive buzzwords like that aren’t always as open-minded as they sound when uttered within the context of 21st-century academia. “Incivility,” “hatred” and “discrimination” too often are used to describe those with conservative values, for instance, and only conservatives are expected to show “respect” and “empathy” toward those who are different from them.

But the principles are sound if applied fairly across the political spectrum, and America will be a better nation if they are. Let’s hope leaders like Gee mean what they say for a change and model those attitudes for the country.


Filed under: Education and News & Politics and People and Rednecks and West Virginia
Comments: None

‘Sully’: The Air Traffic Controller’s Story
Posted on 10.07.16 by Danny Glover @ 9:01 pm

Originally published on the FAA’s internal website and at Medium.
By K. Daniel Glover

A few eventful minutes at work on Jan. 15, 2009, left an indelible mark in New York air traffic controller Patrick Harten’s mind. He constantly replayed those terrifying moments in his head in the weeks that followed, and although they ultimately ended with the inspiring tale known as “The Miracle on the Hudson,” Harten kept imagining the tragedy that might have been.

Now he is reliving those remarkable moments all over again — on the big screen via actor Patch Darragh, who plays Harten in the movie “Sully.” “I thought they did a great job capturing what it felt like to be there that day,” Harten said. “I’ve heard from some of the passengers, and they thought so, too. … Parts of it were tough to watch.”

The movie is based on the actual events surrounding the forced emergency landing of US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River. It happened on a cold winter afternoon a few minutes after takeoff from LaGuardia Airport in New York. A flock of Canada geese flew into the Airbus A320, taking out both engines at a low altitude.

Capt. Chesley (Sully) Sullenberger chose to land on the water after concluding that he didn’t have enough time to return to LaGuardia or to land at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey. Harten is the air traffic controller who talked to Sullenberger that day from the terminal radar approach control facility for several airports in the New York area. The Federal Aviation Administration’s TRACONs manage the airspace near airports, and New York TRACON is one of the busiest.

Harten, who first publicly shared his account of the incident in dramatic testimony to Congress, started his shift in the LaGuardia sector of the TRACON minutes before Flight 1549 took off. But soon after he issued a routine heading for the flight, Sullenberger reported the bird strike and double-engine loss. He headed back toward LaGuardia for an emergency landing.

Harten quickly arranged runway access there and communicated the details to Sullenberger. But 35 seconds after first reporting the emergency, the pilot uttered these ominous words: “We’re unable. We may end up in the Hudson.

Sullenberger predicted that fate more definitively about a minute later, after Harten suggested a runway at Teterboro instead. “We can’t do it. … We’re gonna be in the Hudson.”

“I’m sorry, say again,” Harten responded. He then lost radar contact with Flight 1549.

“I thought I was part of one of the worst aviation incidents in modern history at the time,” Harten recounted. He imagined the plane clipping a wing on the water, cartwheeling and breaking into pieces. Even if it landed smoothly, he figured most people on board would drown or succumb to hypothermia. “I was expecting there to maybe be a handful of survivors.”

Read the rest of the story at Medium.


Filed under: Aviation and Government and History and Movies and News & Politics and People and Video
Comments: None

A National Anthem Prophecy Fulfilled
Posted on 09.22.16 by Danny Glover @ 10:48 pm

To hear many Americans tell it today, “The Star-Spangled Banner” has been a cherished anthem of national pride almost since the day Francis Scott Key penned it in 1814. But the government-sanctioned reverence the song enjoys in the 21st century actually didn’t take root until the start of the 20th century — and not everyone thought it was a good idea then.

The song gained plenty of attention, particularly in the military, after Scott wrote it to celebrate the American victory over the British at Fort McHenry in Maryland. But even the military didn’t start incorporating “The Star-Spangled Banner” into its flag-raising ceremonies until 1889. It took another 27 years for Woodrow Wilson to give the tune the stamp of presidential approval in an executive order.

The song’s evolution from battle hymn to national anthem still wasn’t complete, though, and the final hurdle on Capitol Hill wasn’t easy to clear. As the National Park Service noted in its history of the national anthem, 11 lawmakers tried to push 15 different bills and resolutions through Congress between 1910 and 1917, and all of them stalled.

Even after a determined Rep. J. Charles Linthicum, D-Md., adopted “The Star-Spangled Banner” as his personal cause in 1918, he had a years-long fight ahead of him. Congress didn’t clear the bill to President Herbert Hoover until March 3, 1931, a day before adjournment would have killed the idea yet again.

That brings us to a surprising editorial that the Baltimore Evening Sun published the day after Hoover signed the bill. With the amateur poet Key being a favorite son of the city, the newspaper had good reason to celebrate the patriotic development. But it saw cause for concern instead:

It must be pleasing to all Marylanders to have a Maryland song thus honored, and yet the occasion is not yet quite one for unreserved joy. Unofficially, “The Star-Spangled Banner” has long been recognized as the national anthem, so nothing much is added to its dignity by this act of Congress.

On the other hand, now that it has official standing, we formally prophesy that not six months will pass before someone comes forward with a proposal to inflict pains and penalties upon those who do not accord the song what the proposer regards as a proper measure of respect.

That is to say, “The Star-Spangled Banner” will now become another excuse for badgering people who do not conform to the patrioteers’ idea of decorum; and this seems a somewhat unfortunate prospect for a fine old Free State song.

Eighty-five years later, the paper’s prophecy has been fulfilled. The new country that repelled the British in the Battle of Baltimore and the War of 1812 is now embroiled in a tense debate about police shootings of black Americans, and the anthem that united us then divides us now.

It’s not enough that “The Star-Spangled Banner” is played at memorial holidays, military ceremonies and athletic contests across the country, or that the vast majority of the nation’s 324 million people (including me) solemnly stand for it, sing it and revere the symbolism behind it. Every single American must embrace that norm or be reviled as an un-American outcast who should shut up or leave the country.

This, indeed, is an unfortunate fate for a fine song written in a Free State, for a free country.


Filed under: Government and History and Holidays and Media and Military and News & Politics and People
Comments: None

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