Barbecue Brilliance
Posted on 01.19.18 by Danny Glover @ 6:32 pm

This enlightened redneck and I have a lot in common. We’re both from West Virginia; we’re both West Virginia University grads (he for English, me for journalism); and we both live in the other Virginia now.

One thing we don’t have in common: He’s a barbecue champion with Old Virginia Smoke who’s making news for his culinary skills.

I spend most weekends cooking and though it’s hard work, we have a lot of fun out there. It’s me, my wife (whom he calls the “Lil’ General”) and our friend Leigh Anne. We do about 30 competitions a year all over the country. Meeting people and making friends has been the best part. And winning isn’t bad, either.

The main thing is not to overpower the meat. Let the meat speak for itself. It should be kissed with spice, salt, sweet and smoke. Not too much of one thing. But just enough of everything.

Now how do I finagle an invitation to one of his backyard meat fests just down the road from us?!


Filed under: Food and People and West Virginia
Comments: None

Why We Home-School: Lesson #52
Posted on 01.11.18 by Danny Glover @ 7:50 pm

We live in the information age, not the industrial age, and we educate accordingly — just like the parents of “Young Einstein” Romanieo Golphin Jr.

He was featured on “The Today Show” this morning, and the reference to him being homeschooled sent me to Google for more information. Here’s what The Washington Post said about a year ago:

Romanieo has never been enrolled in a public or private school. … Dissatisfied with the outcomes in traditional education, both parents have committed themselves to homeschooling Romanieo and preparing him for the future their way. “Enough with the Industrial Age approach to education in the 21st century,” Golphin said.

Education isn’t a static process, and neither should the systems that foster it be.


Filed under: Education and Home Schooling and Why We Home-School
Comments: None

The Hunt For Disabled Hillbillies
Posted on 10.07.17 by Danny Glover @ 6:34 pm

Every now and then, journalists in the big city get the urge to head for the hills of West Virginia and hunt stereotypes. They always find their prey. Then they tell stories that misrepresent the reality of life for most West Virginians.

You can call it Hatfields-and-McCoys journalism because the tradition is at least that old. The latest installment comes courtesy of The Washington Post, which sent a reporter hunting for hillbillies as part of the paper’s series on Social Security Disability Insurance.

I have no gripe with the topic. It’s worthwhile to shine a light on the Supplemental Security Income system because of its cost and susceptibility to fraud and abuse. I also have no problem with West Virginia being part of the story because 4 percent of West Virginians get SSI benefits — more than any other state, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. One in five working-age residents in Logan County, which the Post visited, are among them.

What galls me are the predictably cliched portrayals of country folk, and they start with the opening anecdote about digging roots from the hills for money: “For the people of the hollow, opportunity begins where the road ends.”

The implication is that the anecdote represents the norm — not just in that hollow but in all of Logan County and the entire state. Poverty reporter Terence McCoy made that point clear a few paragraphs later when he added, “In West Virginia, getting by means digging roots in the mountains.”

No, it doesn’t! Maybe it’s OK to spout that kind of nonsense when writing the script for a reality television show like “Appalachian Outlaws,” but it’s bad journalism.

I spent most of my first 24 years in the Mountain State and still visit regularly, and the only person I ever knew who dug roots was my paternal grandfather. And he did it as much for the thrill of hunting ginseng, a rare find in his part of the state, as for the money.

Most West Virginians who fall on hard times don’t dig roots to “get by”; they turn to family for support. That’s a bit harder to do when multiple family members are on the government dole and/or are estranged from each other. The Post found a family like that not because it’s the norm but because it fit the false image that urban elites have of the state.

That’s also why the Post repeatedly called attention to the fact that Donna Jean Dempsey, the main character in its tale, lives in a rundown shack without running water. It’s mentioned twice in the story and in two separate photo captions.

The photos further reinforce the ridiculous perceptions that prim-and-proper journalists tend to have of West Virginians. The portraits include: a woman who wears the same filthy flannel and blue jeans for a week; a shirtless, bushy-bearded Bubba sitting on a porch; and a gaunt mountain man who relies on oxygen after five heart attacks and two strokes.

Then there is the closing anecdote. Having survived to another SSI payday, Dempsey treated herself to three six-packs of beer at the local dollar stores. McCoy milked that development for all it was worth, characterizing it as “the best moment of the month” for Dempsey.

“She lit a cigarette, stretched out her legs and opened a beer,” he wrote. And then a few sentences later: “She looked down at her beer and thumbed its lid. She took a sip. The moment could last a while longer, she decided.”

Save for a trip to the still and Dempsey sipping from a moonshine jug, he couldn’t have asked for a better redneck ending to this chapter of yellow journalism about West Virginia.


Filed under: Government and History and Human Interest and Media and People and Photography and Rednecks and West Virginia
Comments: None

John E. Kenna Was No Robert E. Lee
Posted on 08.27.17 by Danny Glover @ 2:57 pm

West Virginia doesn’t have a “Confederate statue” inside the U.S. Capitol, but you wouldn’t know it by reading the reports of historically ignorant journalists in Washington.

In their rush to pile onto the growing pile of maligned Confederate statues, the media recently set their sights on the National Statuary Hall Collection. What better place to prop up more straw men for knocking down than in a building with 100 famous statues?

This particular angle to the debate over the Confederacy piqued my interest when I first saw it in The Washington Post because the disparity appeared egregiously unjust at face value. “The U.S. Capitol has at least three times as many statues of Confederate figures as it does of black people,” blared the ridiculously long but seemingly fact-based headline.

The problem is that readers can’t take anything the media report these days at face value, especially when it involves an explosive topic like race. Many journalists are hard-wired to assume that racism exists whenever outrage about it grows loud enough. And they have no interest in digging deep into a story line if their research might undermine their assumptions.

So it is with the attack on “Confederate statues.”

The contempt implied in the loaded phrase may make sense when the focus is on prominent rebels like Confederate President Jefferson Davis, Vice President Alexander Stephens and Gen. Robert E. Lee. But as a native of West Virginia, I grew suspicious of the coverage when I saw in the Post a map of states with supposedly Confederate statues.


A state riven by war
Anyone who actually knows history knows that West Virginia became a state when the North illegally ripped 50 counties from Virginia’s boundaries during the Civil War. West Virginia created five more counties after the war, naming two of them after President Abraham Lincoln and Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, heroes of the Union.

I didn’t immediately reject the idea that elected leaders in West Virginia could have chosen to memorialize a Confederate with one of its two monuments at the Capitol. After all, 18,000 West Virginians fought for the Confederacy.

West Virginia’s Capitol also is home to a statue of Confederate Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. At the statue’s dedication in 1910, the United Daughters of the Confederacy called Jackson “the greatest and most illustrious man ever born on the soil of West Virginia, a typical soldier, patriot and Christian.”

Union troops, on the other hand, weren’t recognized with the Mountaineer Soldier statue for two more years, and a prominent memorial to Lincoln didn’t appear until 1974.

But it still seemed odd that a state formed in the Civil War would have recognized a Confederate leader in the U.S. Capitol. With that history in mind, I turned to a remarkable storehouse of information called the Internet for answers.
(more…)


Filed under: Government and History and Media and News & Politics and People and West Virginia
Comments: 1 Comment

The Two-edged Online Tongue
Posted on 08.04.17 by Danny Glover @ 9:19 pm

The story about the couple who ruined a wedding photographer’s reputation is troubling for many reasons, but one that jumped out in The Washington Post’s coverage is a subtle quote that speaks volumes about the Internet’s ability to empower malicious arrogance: “She’s a blogger. Make sure everything looks perfect.”

The photographer said that about her new client before she ever worked for the woman because she understood all too well the influence of a blogger scorned. Her words are the digital upgrade (or should I say downgrade?) to the adage about never arguing with a man who buys ink by the barrel.

The difference is that in the bygone era when newspapers mattered, most journalists who worked at papers still had editorial checks that prevented egregious abuses. Bloggers have no such restraints. Neither do YouTube or Instagram celebrities. Even average Joes and Janes with a twisted talent for riling the masses into a bout of public shaming can do great damage to an undeserving person’s reputation.

And the scarlet letter is now a scarlet alphabet. From A to Z, any whiff of imagined wrongdoing along the spectrum of “sin” is justification for humiliation — especially if exposing it online might bring a cruel blogger fame or fortune.

I am the guy who once penned what a colleague called an opus to the awesome power of blogs and who co-authored essential guides to Pinterest and Twitter. Teaching people how to use social media for good was my job, so the irony of now decrying the equally destructive power of blogs is not lost on me.

But such is the nature of the two-edged online tongue.


Filed under: Blogging and Media and News & Politics and People and Social Media and Technology
Comments: None

Paden City Summer
Posted on 07.22.17 by Danny Glover @ 1:17 pm

I’m back home in the summer for the first time since I bought my drone, so I took to the air this morning to capture aerial images of Paden City, W.Va., in a new season.

These scenes, taken from the park that runs along the Ohio River, include photos of the town docks, the small campground adjacent to it, the pool, one of the baseball fields, and the south end of town. Marble King, the town’s most famous manufacturer in the modern era, is visible behind the tree line in the photo of the south end of town.

(more…)


Filed under: Business and West Virginia
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The Dog Days Of Spring
Posted on 05.09.17 by Danny Glover @ 8:16 pm

Whenever the whether gets warm, this dog likes to cruise through our city in his master’s hot rod. My walk home from the train station this evening finally coincided with the driver getting stuck in traffic long enough for me to snap a photo.


Filed under: Pets and Photography
Comments: None

A Fad For Fidgety Folks
Posted on 05.05.17 by Danny Glover @ 8:26 pm

Soon after one fad fades, another quickly arises to take its place. And as sure as the whipper-snappers of the day embrace it, the old fogys ridicule it and lament it as the demise of civilization. Fidget spinners are the latest fad to inflame this generational divide:

I don’t know who planted these devices in our country, but it was clearly a malicious act intended to distract us from more important issues, like the latest versions of smartphones and foreign countries itching to invade America.

Many fidget spinners are manufactured in China — I know this because my extremely focused son recently bought a pack of 10 spinners from a Chinese distributor. (I wish I was making that up.) So I suspect China is behind this so-called fad.

At the rate things are going, the Chinese military could overrun the West Coast and our children would be too distracted with their fidget spinners to notice anything, and we adults would be too distracted by our annoyance with fidget spinners to care. There have been times lately, amid the incessant whir of spinners and the occasional yelp of a sleeping dog struck by a dropped spinner, when a Chinese invasion would have been downright refreshing.

A fidget spinner is now on its way to our house from China via Amazon.com, so I guess we’re about to learn what all the fuss is about. What I want to see is a youngster playing with a fidget spinner while scooting through town on Heelys to hunt digital monsters on Pokemon Go.


Filed under: Culture and Family and Technology
Comments: None

Tracking The Trout Truck
Posted on 05.03.17 by Danny Glover @ 8:57 pm

I had no idea that some of my fellow West Virginians track trout trucks to game the fish-stocking process, let alone that the problem is severe enough to warrant regulation for safety reasons:

It is not uncommon for [hatchery] personnel to arrive at a stream to deposit fish and have 15 to 20 people sitting there and waiting on the stock truck. The advancement of the smart phone and rapid communication along with social media is also fueling what has been a longtime problem. … It has been so bad, they’ve been struck in the face by flying lures and treble hooks.

These “fishermen” are like “hunters” who bait game. They’re lazy, and they give enlightened rednecks a bad name.


Filed under: Fishing and Government and News & Politics and Redneck Hall Of Shame and Rednecks and West Virginia
Comments: 1 Comment

Bears In Space
Posted on 03.31.17 by Danny Glover @ 9:10 pm

Sometimes in my research for work, I stumble across some of the coolest bits of trivia in aviation history — like the fact that America once launched bears into space to test the short-lived B-58 Hustler, a nuclear bomber of the Cold War era. Even better is the related cover illustration I discovered in a 1962 issue of an Italian weekly newspaper.


Filed under: Aviation and History and Media and Wildlife
Comments: 1 Comment

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