September 23, 2020

Saturday Ramblings: July 9, 2016

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I’m feeling rather subdued today, after a sad week here in the U.S. But we’ll try to lighten it up a little for this edition of Ramblings and focus on good news stories to encourage smiles and a bit of positive energy.

Psst…Hey, I’m not even gonna rag on Ken Ham this week!

Let’s ramble!

• • •

archnoahs-ark-icon-transparent-2Fifty years ago, on the afternoon of June 22, 1966, near the newly completed Gateway Arch in St. Louis, MO, a group of tourists and a National Park Service guide gawked as a small plane suddenly approached from the west, made a low pass over the Old Courthouse and flew through the legs of the Arch. The pilot zoomed away across the river, toward Illinois. The pilot, the first to fly through the Arch, was never identified.

Until now.

According to an article bDonna Dorris of Madison, now 75 years old, says her father told her later that day that he was the one who did it. His name was Earl Bolin. He worked in the Nickel Plate railroad yards and flew small airplanes as a hobby. On the day of the flight, Dorris, a young mother at the time, stood in her front yard. Her father, who lived across the street, walked up to her. “You might want to catch the news tonight,” she remembers him saying.

According to the article, Bolin only ever told a few people about the flight, and nobody ever snitched, and Bolin never lost his license. “Don’t say anything to anybody, don’t even talk about it,” he’d say to Dorris’s husband, Bill.

Donna Dorris’s father’s flight and his sense of mischief became a part of family lore. They kept it a secret for fifty years until they read about the stunt again recently in the Post-Dispatch’s column, “This Day in History.”

There have been several copycat flights in the intervening years — at least ten more, including a 1984 helicopter whose pilot who was identified and sanctioned by the FAA.

Who knows what other crazy things he did? A toast today to Earl Bolin, adventurer and daredevil!

Psst…Ken Ham opened a theme park with a life-sized Noah’s Ark in Kentucky this week.

noahs-ark-icon-transparent-2Thought I might show you some of my pictures from our recent long weekend in Chicago. We stayed at a hotel right on the Riverwalk on the Chicago River, attended a concert at Wrigley Field with James Taylor and Jackson Browne, and another concert the next night with a picnic at Ravinia listening to Shawn Mullins, Mary Chapin Carpenter, and the Indigo Girls. We also took a walking tour of historic skyscrapers and went to Navy Pier to watch fireworks over the lake. It was a fabulous time in our favorite city. You can see more pictures at Chaplain Mike’s Flickr page.

Psst…oh yeah, the Ark Encounter also includes the Ararat Ridge Zoo, camel and donkey rides, live entertainment, and a 1,500-seat themed restaurant. And zip lines.

noahs-ark-icon-transparent-2A report in the New York Times announces some good news about major diseases.

They are in decline, at least in the U.S. and some other wealthy countries. Here are a few examples. Rates of colon cancer have fallen by almost 50% since their peak in the 1980’s. Hip fracture rates have been falling by 15-20% per decade for the last 30 years. Dementia rates have plummeted from 3.6 per 100 for those over sixty in the 1990’s to 2.0 per 100 today. And even though heart disease still kills more than 300,000 people a year, deaths have fallen 60 percent over the past half century.

1401-heart-terms-artSomething strange is going on in medicine. Major diseases, like colon cancer, dementia and heart disease, are waning in wealthy countries, and improved diagnosis and treatment cannot fully explain it.

Scientists marvel at this good news, a medical mystery of the best sort and one that is often overlooked as advocacy groups emphasize the toll of diseases and the need for more funds. Still, many are puzzled.

“It is really easy to come up with interesting, compelling explanations,” said Dr. David S. Jones, a Harvard historian of medicine. “The challenge is to figure out which of those interesting and compelling hypotheses might be correct.”

Of course, these diseases are far from gone. They still cause enormous suffering and kill millions each year.

But it looks as if people in the United States and some other wealthy countries are, unexpectedly, starting to beat back the diseases of aging. The leading killers are still the leading killers — cancer, heart disease, stroke — but they are occurring later in life, and people in general are living longer in good health.

The results are so striking that some researchers have posited that the cellular process of aging may be changing, in humans’ favor.

Psst…Ham is projecting 1.4 million visitors in the park’s first year, though a consultant for the state said 640,000 was a more likely number.

Marcus Halley, Mahnaz Shabbir and Bob Hill, the steering committee for Beyond Belief.

Marcus Halley, Mahnaz Shabbir and Bob Hill, the steering committee for Beyond Belief.

noahs-ark-icon-transparent-2Thankfully, here is a positive, hopeful story about race and what faith communities are doing to alleviate tensions and build trust between blacks and whites in Kansas City, MO.

It tells about a project at KCPT-TV, the PBS station in town, called Beyond Belief. For more than eight months, the project probed the city’s churches, synagogues and mosques, as well as secular gathering places, and asked whether faith communities could help solve the city’s persistent problems of race, class and inequality. Click on the link to see specific stories of faith in action, in which people tackled some of the hard issues in our nation — race, immigration, justice — that beg for solutions.

Steve Mencher, a Jewish man from the Bronx, NY, headed up the project and wrote the article about its impact on the city and on his own life. Read the entire piece, but here are a couple of paragraphs that encouraged me:

In my experience here in Kansas City, the received wisdom that “Sunday morning is the most segregated hour in America” is only partly true. Yes, churches divide up along Troost Avenue, which slices through the city dividing black and white. But churches are also the main institutions reaching across that line.

The sometimes raw and often powerful testimonies about racism and white privilege that were shared back in February continue to reverberate; their work recognizing racism and fighting for justice continues.

The main thing I’ve learned in my time in Kansas City is that my assumptions about Americans and their God-given right to individuality are all wrong. Everyone does not aspire to thrive in his or her own bubble. In Kansas City, nobody needs to bowl alone. Most humans hunger for community, and in Kansas City, faith is at the heart of that quest.

noahs-ark-icon-transparent-2Finally, an institution that has been part of my life for almost forty years had its final show last Saturday night. Oh, they’ll continue in the fall with a new host, but it won’t ever be the same again. On July 2, Garrison Keillor hosted his last Prairie Home Companion Show from The Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles.

When we were first married and living in the mountains of Vermont, we had no TV and relied upon the radio and our stereo for entertainment. We looked forward to every Saturday night, when Garrison came into our living room to weave his Lake Wobegon tales and introduce us to folk singers and musicians. We attended a show in the early 1980’s at Middlebury College in Vermont and have been faithful listeners all these years. We have derived a lifetime of pleasure from this radio tradition.

I know this video is longer than the ones we usually post on Saturday Ramblings, but nothing could be more appropriate today than Garrison Keillor’s final “News from Lake Wobegon” monologue from PHG. Enjoy.

 Psst…Ham’s next projects are said to be a replica of a walled city where Noah may have lived and a Tower of Babel.

noahs-ark-icon-transparent-2P.S. — Scot McKnight posted this on Jesus Creed Friday.

A great reminder at the end of this week.

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Comments

  1. This is really Ioff topic I suppose, but in seeing the pics of Chicago I was reminded of a gold book I read a while back called THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY, by Erik Larson. Loved the historicity of it. It was an award winner of some kind and his first book had quite a bit of acclaim, novel of American embassy in Berlin during run up to W.W.2

    • Sadly, the murder rate in Chi-town is simply horrific. People will kill. We learned that from Adam’s family in the Book of Genesis.

      • From theothermccain

        . Meanwhile, in Chicago, criminals have shot more than 2,000 people this year, including more than 300 fatal shootings. More that 75% of the victims were black.

        • Robert F says

          Blacks and whites live in two different Americas. In the black America, you are far more likely to be victim to crime and police stop than in white America; in black America, the police (whether they themselves are black, white, Hispanic, etc.) are an occupying force in your neighborhood, and their purpose is more to prevent the crime from spilling beyond the boundaries of your neighborhood than it is to keep the peace within it. That some black people have escaped this living hell is merely the exception that proves the rule, not counter-evidence; and the fact is, no matter how wealthy you are, or where you live, if you are black, especially a black male, you are far more likely to be randomly stopped by police than your white neighbors. This has routinely happened to black people I know, who live in mostly white areas. Whites and blacks live in two different Americas.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        > We learned that from Adam’s family in the Book of Genesis.

        We also learn from scripture that prostitutes can enter the heritage of kings [Rahab], that family can be created across lines of division [Ruth & Naomi], that girls can manipulate kings [Esther], that sometimes the wealthy will sell their lands to help those in need, even starving widows will share what they have with a wayfarer [Elijah].

        Humanity is a mixed bag; and evil is not a trump card against virtue.

        > the murder rate in Chi-town is simply horrific

        One could counter-argue that the exception proves the rule – people do not kill each other regularly. A few places in America have dramatically higher than pretty much everywhere else – emphasis “everywhere else”, which is a lot of places.

        • `But what are the common denominators in these “exception” areas? Surely you will say a higher poverty rate and lower education, but in Chicago the demographics are evenly split between three races. Black young men are 9 times more likely to be shot, and THAT by other young black men. Could accepted culture be a part of the mix? Certainly race is not the determining factor.

          The culture you allow is the culture you get. And I’m not speaking of food and literature here, but COMMON, on the street, culture. Why is everyone afraid to talk about it?

          • Drugs and gangs, that’s the culture in those neighborhoods. Drugs have devastated minority cultures since the 1970’s.

          • Robert F says

            The culture you allow is the culture you get? Oscar, are you willing to assert the same when it comes to the steeply escalating occurrence of suicide, and drug and alcohol related death, since the turn of the century among the white lower-middle and working classes? And the big increase in opioid, including heroin, addiction in the same socioeconomic stratum?

            Where there is no culture of hope, a hope related to, though not identical with, positive economic and personal prospects, social dysfunction thrives. The hope for such prospects is diminishing each year for more and more people in this country. Compound that with our shameful history of exploitation of and injustice towards minority communities,especially the black community, a history written into our national memory and alive and active on our streets today, and you see that the culture you speak of has been, and is being, allowed and empowered by the whole American people, not part of it. It’s not an internal problem of the African-American community; it’s a problem that’s been fostered by, and advantageous to, the whole society. Now that it’s spreading into other places, we are seeing how it produces the similar negative consequences. The whole country has a culture problem, and has for a long, long, long time. Centuries long.

          • Burro [Mule] says

            My daughter recently moved into a 100% Black American neighborhood. My daughter and her roommates are Hispanic, two of whom could be called “black Hispanic” [Dominican, Afro-Cuban] and that alone has caused a great deal of consternation in my heart.

            The area has a high crime rate. There are a lot of twitchy young men with lots of testosterone and no outlet for their energies hanging around, especially in the summertime. Forty years ago they might have been working in one of the shuttered, vine covered factories that freckle the area, but that world is as vanished as Atlantis, and even Emperor Trump won’t bring that back.

            It is interesting that just walking around the area as an unaccompanied white man makes me feel nervous as hell, but walking around with my wife and my daughter and her friends, speaking Spanish, elicits more resentment and suspicion. Hispanics throw the black-white paradigm all out of whack, especially now that they are muscling in traditionally black sinecures and upsetting voting patterns. The real estate company that manages the apartment complex hopes to encourage more Hispanic families to move in, and several Black families have been evicted.

            Cultures are more different than people are. We all want the same thing; love, respect, usefulness, sex appeal, comfort – but our cultures teach us to attain these things differently. I don’t think there is a “judgement-free” zone where you can go and evaluate another culture in an objective god-like manner. Culture doesn’t work like that. Spending any time in an alien culture will jar you and mess with your head in a thousand different ways. This must be how black people feel every day, and although I can do what I can to be fair and charitable to all and sundry, their liberation will not come from a change in white culture. White people are an imploding demographic. After we’re gone, there will be the various Hispanic groups to deal with. They have no guilt about slavery, and basically, Carlos don’ give a sheet, mang.

          • Danielle says

            I don’t think anyone is afraid to talk about the importance of “culture.” People, liberal and otherwise, often discuss culture in regards to crime, policing, and education.

            The objection arises when “culture” is being invoked in order to suggest that the problems in higher crime urban areas is a product of personal moral failing, that individuals and communities are merely “reaping what they sow” and deserve what they get. I’m not sure if you mean to imply this conclusion when you use the words, but often it is what people mean. It is a way of saying, “it’s their job to get themselves out of this, and it’s not fault or business of mine” and to ignore the policy changes and concrete actions it would take to try and push against what lies behind “street culture.” What lies behind it all are economics and other social causes with long histories.

            There are many community organizations and activists who work really hard on behalf of the communities in questions and they contribute a lot. But there’s a long of deep problems and they won’t move in response to a shot of moralism.

          • Burro [Mule] says

            Not invoking culture to explain moral failing. There is enough moral failure in white culture to explain the sufferings of black Americans.

            ”Moralism’ is a strange word. The idea that it is wrong for groups of people to strive for advantages over against other groups, or to exercise them when they have been obtained, is in itself a moral judgment.. It is also a moral judgment that I found missing in the <i.Upanishads, the Analects and to a lesser degree, the Koran. This idea stems from the Bible.

            What I want to know is, after four hundred years of enforced community, are black culture and white culture binary-compatible or not? I will admit to you that it is a great opportunity to exercise Trinitarian virtue, but our culture has lost a lot of Christianity in the last forty years, and it has been replaced with much darker ideologies. Would we be better off continuing the experiment on the basis of modern liberalism/denatured Christianity, or would both of us be better off trying to settle accounts fairly and go our own ways?

            I don’t come down on either side of this yet. The words that an Austrian industialist said to me 37 years ago still ring in my head: “You Americans are far more like your Negroes that you are like us.”

          • Robert F says

            Mule, How would we go on our own ways? Where would we go? And even if we could, and had places to go, and did so, what would prevent our children and their children, or even ourselves, from crossing over the boundaries and mingling our fates with the people on the other side of the tracks? The fact that members of what we call different races can have children together makes it impossible for us to go our own ways; we are biologically one race: the human race. Romeo and Juliet will keep asking us to recognize our common humanity, and to live together as one; if they had lived to reproduce, Romeo and Juliet’s children would have made it imperative that we do so. Anything else would be suicide, as Shakespeare showed us.

          • Burro [Mule] says

            It’s occurring on a minute scale here in Atlanta, where prosperous White communities want to separate from what is basically a black-majority polity and go their own way.

            It is, to say the least, controversial.

            I also don’t think it could be done even roughly justly. The ‘justice’ would be the kind of justice that separated India and Pakistan after the British left. I don’t know how much progress the Hindus and Muslims have made in recognizing their common humanity and living together as one since separating into different polities, or whether they would have been better off as one Hindustan. Hoo nose?

            F*ckall – I wish I had the answers, but in my present vulnerable situation I suffer from a lot of altruism fatigue and a call from Her Majesty [who needs Obama-level black turnouts to become Her Majesty] to swallow my white ways and shoulder another few kilograms of guilt doesn’t sit so very well.

            I’m with you. I hate choosing sides, but the temperature in my racially mixed neighborhood, probably more mixed than most posting here, has been rising considerably, and these people are armed. I am not, and I’m also broke.

          • Chaplain Mike: Thank You!

            Mule: I can always count on you to look at the more complex issues rather than to just reflexively kill the messenger.

            Danielle: No, I am NOT indicating that “culture” is a code word that I am using. Culture arises in ANY group of people who live in close proximity to each other for an extended period of time. Unfortunately the sub-culture of the inner cities is one that has developed as a result of its pathologies. It is even celebrated in media, including music and video/movies to the point that it is EXPECTED and normal. We should not allow this mindset to gain traction if we expect to solve the problems involved.

            And as a side note to this thought, once a resident of that sub-culture leaves than environment then they begin to de-pressurize, although the damage done to their psyche may remain to haunt them for years. At least their children will be freed from that burden unless the parent continues to perpetuate that thinking.

            Robert: I totally reject your line of thinking. It offers no solution other than to blame the white majority and does nothing to deal with the here and now. If you want to continue to wallow in the white/liberal, guilt/angst thinking then go right ahead. I would prefer to try to make things better NOW instead. Yes, white Americans caused the problem and have taken years to admit and try to deal with it, but to continue to use that as a cudgel with which you can beat them about the head and shoulder is a non-starter in MY book.

          • White privilege is saying the culture you allow is the culture you get.

            Also, something just occurred to me the other day. White privilege is also thinking that you should be able to walk anywhere you want to in safety. The concept of “you don’t go/belong there” is foreign to white privilege.

          • Robert F says

            Oscar, what do you propose to do to make things better NOW? Tell the African-American community to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps? That’s the cudgel they’ve been hit over the head with now for decades….in case you didn’t notice, it’s not working. What will you do, besides preach…or would you just prefer to retire to a private enclave, pull up the drawbridge, hire a private security force, and pretend the outside world doesn’t exist? That won’t work…it’s been tried.

          • Dana Ames says

            I think most people won’t like this and some people definitely won’t agree. It’s a hard word. But I think there is great wisdom here, if we can see it. Yes, we are responsible for ourselves and can only change ourselves; and yet we are all interconnected, first by being human, and then by being united to Christ in his Incarnation.

            (Remember that the word “salvation” the character uses doesn’t mean a specific act of praying to “receive Christ as personal savior” and the benefits of that Rather, it means the end, and the path that leads to it, of complete healing and union with God.)

            “There is only one way to salvation, and that is to make yourself responsible for all men’s sins. As soon as you make yourself responsible in all sincerity for everything and for everyone, you will see at once that this is really so, and that you are in fact to blame for everyone and for all things.” ? Fyodor Dostoyevsky, “The Brothers Karamazov”

            For some related great insight from J. Romanides:
            http://oodegr.co/english/dogmatiki1/G1b.htm

            Dana

          • Dana – +1, many times over. It’s not supposed to be “Am I my brother’s keeper?,” but “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

          • Robert F says

            Yes, Dana. I can totally agree; but making oneself responsible for the sins, and welfare, of all humanity is to make oneself vulnerable. It involves risk, and great risk at that, the kind of risk the crosses the road to help the beaten-up stranger, though he is an outcast, not one of ours, and may be bait in a trap to get us closer so that we ourselves may be mugged; and risk involving no guarantee of success, at least not in the short term, or before the eschaton. It’s hard to love humanity, to love your neighbor, when you’re afraid of humanity, and your neighbor, and failure, and getting hurt really bad. It involves great risk, and the likelihood of great failure. It’s scary. How many of us are willing to undertake it? Am I?

          • Robert F says

            Mule, Like you, I live in a mixed race neighborhood, though it’s still mostly white. I’m broke and have no guns; my neighbors are armed to the teeth, and seem mostly to be living well. The whites scare me more than anyone else around here, with their Confederate flags and their Make America Great Again mantra. I don’t really know how to help decrease the racial division in our country; most of the time it’s all I can do to put in a day’s work and rest enough to be ready for the next round. We eke by, my wife and I. Perhaps prayer and fasting (or something like it), the things you suggested the other day, are the only tools I have. Is it enough if I can be faithful in these? What is enough? What makes a difference?

          • Robert F says

            Oscar, FYI, The children of those who escape from inner city environments continue to experience racism in suburban settings, and exclusion as a result of their race. I’ve seen this happen to the children of friends of mine, and it is not unique.

          • Danielle says

            Mule and Oscar, I’m not saying that morality or culture is irrelevant to the conversation. To the contrary, my own position on economic policy (among many other things) is rooted partly in moral values.

            My point is simply that limiting the conversation to culture and morality is inadequate. Is there pathology in cultures where people are impoverished and marginalized? Yes. But the pathology developed in response to social and economic factors, and the persistence of these root causes are consequential to the communities in question.

            I don’t care one bit about “white people feeling guilty” — or not. It buys nothing. What does matter is recognizing that economics and policies matter, that urban planning matters, that flesh-and-blood communities and having skin the game matters. That there’s a common humanity between us and that something might exist in “the city” that isn’t just pathological.

            As for “going our own way” — I suppose that people have been buying estates, moving to the suburbs, signing restrictive covenants, and designing federal policies, and enacting laws that kept people in their places (intentionally and not) for some time. It’s a big part of how we got into this mess. I reject this on moral and practical grounds. Practical, because it has not brought good fruit; moral, because it is not the kind of world I want to have, even if I can be on the winning side of that game.

          • Ok, Robert. So you are assuming that I have the worst of intentions, that I do not understand the suffering of the needy, and that I have no intelligence or moral sense at all. Why assume the worst in people as you did in your reply to me?

            The problem in society is deep and then you go and make generalities about someone who simply wants to ask questions and questions where society has already gone.

            It is not enough to just say “it’s complicated” and then affix blame for the way things are. You have to start SOMEWHERE and often that means starting small. Grand gestures and homilies are worthless. Good intentions do not heal hurts or fill bellies. Aside from one on one relations I have no idea how we can solve the problem of violence and poverty, but we DO have to hash it out together and then see to it our “leaders” get the message.

            As Christians we are called to love our neighbor, feed the hungry, cloth the naked and comfort the sorrowful, but if we cannot even give grace to those of us who differ in viewpoint then all else is nothing but “works”.

          • Christiane says

            I worked in a drug rehab in Paterson NJ teaching boys ages 14 to 17.
            I remember once looking at a frail young black kid with knife scars on his face, who had come back after being away for a while, so I knew he was in trouble again.

            He was not well, he was coughing and very tired. I came beside him and said ‘I see you are back, and not very happy to be here, but at least you will be safe for a while and get some medical help’
            and he looked at me, and got tears in his eyes. I don’t think he’d had much kindness given to him anywhere, and I don’t think he expected it from me. I often remember how vulnerable he was and I wonder if he still lives, and if so, I hope there has been some kindness shown to him.

            We can judge people, but it isn’t working. We need to try something different.
            Kids like that boy in the rehab are born INTO a hell that most of us cannot fathom. And a lot just don’t survive.

          • Robert F says

            Oscar, I apologize for the judgments of you implicit in my comments. I do, however, think we see things from very different perspectives. Speaking for myself, I don’t think the affluent white communities are any kind of model for the disadvantaged black ones in America, because I don’t think that the white communities have come by their affluence and privilege honestly. I don’t think white communities are more functional, just more favored and advantaged in certain very narrow ways; as a white American, I can’t tell African-Americans how their problems can be solved: I can only support them, and stand by them, as they decide the paths they want to pursue. I think Black Lives Matter is one such path, and I support the many protests that BLM has staged across the nation; if one occurs nearby, I will march with them. That’s one thing I can do.

          • Chaplain Mike, you just hit on one of the major causes of this whole problem: violence caused by drugs and gangs. This overall situation is caused by many issues, so we need to face them all and not just focus on racist police (and yes, they need to be dealt with). So why are so many police trigger happy? They’re not all racists. It’s not always racism that causes the police to pull over a black person (and yes, sometimes it is). Violence in urban areas is one of the main causes of this situation. I don’t know the answer; society in general can help, but ultimately, we can’t make people obey the law. They’re going to have to choose to do so themselves. I do know that there are many good groups working to heal racism and violence, but Black Lives Matter is not one of them. They just want to shout and say racist things themselves and frankly are playing right into the hands of the other racists. We’ve got to have leaders who will not engage in the extremism that American culture is in right now, but will work to heal our culture and make hard, honest, work; kindness; and education “cool” again. (If this is rambling, blame the cold meds).

          • Robert F says

            Where is your documentation that BLM is a bad group? Proof, please. One or two isolated incidents of overstepping bounds is not enough; is there a pattern of abuses to which you can point? I have seen no evidence of it.

            The protest the other night in Dallas was completely peaceful, right up until the end when a single individual who had not participated in the protest opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle from a rooftop. You can’t blame the actions of an unhinged domestic terrorist on BLM; there’s no justification for it. Since when did blacks and whites marching together in the streets in peaceful protest, which is what BLM does, become extremism? That sounds like the Constitution according to Trump.

          • Robert, not to go off on a tangent, but opioid and meth addiction plus alcoholism are present on every economic level of US society. A whole lost of people with “respectable” incomes have serious drug problems. But we don’t hear about that much.

            When heroin 1st really took off in the area where i live, back in the 90s, middle-class white terns were the heavy users. (It’s overwhelmingly white around here, but still… They were in it for the thrill – which included trips to rough parts of Philly to meet up with dealers. Kids don’t know that they can die, not at that age.

          • Robert F says

            numo, Yes, but there has been a huge increase in the rate of deaths due to suicide, and alcohol and drug-related causes, in middle-aged members of the lower-middle white working class since around 2000. I’ve read numerous articles and editorial/opinion pieces in the papers and other media about it in the last couple of years; it’s been a widely observed social phenomenon. People are using prescription opioids to medicate various kinds of pain (both physical and psychological); they form a habit by overuse, and when their prescriptions run out, and they can’t afford things like Oxycodone at street value, they turn to heroin as a cheap substitute.

          • Robert – heroin was/is problematic in *many* places, starting in the 90s, and not as a substitute for prescription pain meds. But again, neither here nor there….

            My hometown was featured in a late 90s docu by CNN – about heroin addiction.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Sadly, the murder rate in Chi-town is simply horrific.

        Chi-town’s been that way for a LONG time. Pretty much since it was a circle of log cabins in a lakeside swamp back in 1830.

        Scare up a copy of Gem of the Prairie by Herbert Asbury sometime. (Alternate Ace paperback title: The Chicago Underworld.) It’s the Second City version of Gangs of New York, by the same author, circa 1940.

  2. Psst… I bet $25 that Ark theme park goes bankrupt within 5 years.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      I’ll wager on the same side. Sad for the local municipality that has sunk so much money into it – in an interview their mayor even said “we have no plan B”. This is possibly the most misguided economic development scheme ever. They’d be better off with a super Walmart on the edge of town

      • Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says

        Meh. Kentucky gets what it deserves (says this former resident). Schools are 47th in the nation and you give millions of dollars in tax breaks to this “business”? Shock and awe – by which I mean shocking and awful. It is a pretty heinous day when one can look at their new governor – Matt Bevin – and say, “My, that’s an improvement.”

    • That Other Jean says

      That’s a sucker’s bet, Eeyore. I’m not going to bet against you. Although, much to my dismay, the Creation Museum is still open–even though some of the patrons come just to point and giggle.

    • Eeyore–I hope you’re wrong. I hope it’s 2 years.

      I frequently travel to Charlotte from my home in South Carolina. Looking west as I drive through Fort Mill I see the remains of what used to be Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker’s Heritage USA misadventure. May a similar fate befall Ken Ham’s Kentucky gambit.

      • Is the tower still standing? For a while there was a group that was going to make it into a “Christian” retirement condo whatever. But it was taking so long that the county wanted them to demo it as a nuisance/public hazard.

        (My mom gave them $15K as a deposit. We got much of it back when she died but still…)

    • Christiane says

      maybe the Park could sell time-shares to rent little cabins on the premises, and people from the surrounding Bible-belt world could spend vacations there ….. there IS a market for Young Earth hustlers to thrive in, at least until the thrill wears off

      imagine: ALL the Duggars ( except for the black sheep, yes him) descending of the ARK PARK at one time, cameras rolling, happy, smiling, joyous . . . . goldmine, I tell you

  3. Earl Bolin–HUZZAH!!

  4. Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says

    From the Washington Post: In 2014, the theme park was awarded, then denied, Kentucky tax incentives worth an estimated $18 million over 10 years. The incentives were lost because Answers in Genesis requires employees to sign a statement of belief, but in January, it won a lawsuit to have them restored. They left out the part where the tax incentives were only granted after Ham agreed that he would not discriminate in his hiring practices – the whole point was to create new jobs. Later, he broke his word, and there was quite the local uproar. This is a story that was on local news for weeks, but for some reason, Ham has no shame about being a liar who has stolen from the public coffers, and none of his theological trust fund buddies have held him accountable either. Shameful, and unlikely to win any ethical people over to his crank science viewpoints.

  5. Richard Hershberger says

    I never had you pegged as an Indigo Girls type of guy, Mike. I saw them perform in Philly about fifteen years ago. They put on a good show. This was also the first time I had been at a concert where the women vastly outnumbered the men. This meant that the bathroom line imbalance rapidly became untenable, so many women just cheerfully went into the men’s room. This was a bit startling, but I was plenty old enough to take it is stride. Twenty years earlier and I would have been mortified.

    Back in the 1980s I would sit in my car in a parking lot listening to the radio, if I happened to arrive at my destination during the news from Lake Wobegon. I lost the habit some time in the new millennium. I would tune in occasionally, but the magic wasn’t there. I never decided whether the show changed or I changed. Some of both, I expect. But yes, he was a genuine institution.

    Diseased: My uninformed wild ass guess is that this might result from reductions in (some) pollutants. Kevin Drum over at Mother Jones has been pushing hard the correlation between reduced lead pollution (from both paint and gasoline), followed a couple of decades later by reduced violent crime. It is very easy to follow this road down into silliness, but my notion is that such things put a general stress on the body, which increases its susceptibility to all sorts of ills. But I could be wrong.

    • We were there primarily to hear Mary Chapin Carpenter. There are some Indigo Girls songs I like but I’m not a devotee.

    • Similar for me. I think it was more I changed. I got married and had kids and Saturday at 6/7 was just no longer conducive to sitting around the radio.

  6. Ok, Robert, I’ll give it a try:

    Ricochet foot steps,
    Creeping Shadows flickering,
    The stranger is me.

    BTW, if like me you’re a little rusty at this, check out this site:
    http://writeahaiku.com/

  7. Some say Garrison Keillor is an acquired taste. If that is true, I acquired it the first time I encountered him and it has not lessened over the years. I never cared for his singing voice or his habit of trying to harmonize with his musical guests, but I always looked forward to the fake commercials and the recurring skits like The Lives of the Cowboys and Guy Noir, Private Eye. For me, though, highlight of every show was Garrison’s monologue about Lake Wobegon, his home town out on the edge of the prairie, the town that time forgot and the decades cannot improve, where all of the women are strong, all of the men are good-looking, and all of the children are above average. My Saturday evenings will never be the same. A prospect of a trip to Ken Ham’s place pales in comparison.

  8. Dana Trotter says

    So, I have been a long time reader of Internet Monk, but I have never commented (until today), I am not a very good writer, and am intimidated by putting my thoughts into words, so I rarely comment anywhere on anything, but I wanted to chip in today.
    Thanks for mentioning the PBS show Beyond Belief!! My church is one of the stories featured in this program. I am a part of Grandview Park Presbyterian Church and we are a bilingual congregation in Kansas City, KS. My husband was interviewed (and is in) for this program. Steve Mencher did a great job on this program, and spent a lot of time in our community. He also is a great key boardist and joined our churches band whenever he was visiting on Sunday morning.
    I encourage everyone to watch this program, it is such an encouraging picture of community and faith.

  9. I had no idea there were zip lines back in Noah’s day.

  10. First time commenting here, but I have been a long time reader.
    Thanks for mentioning the PBS program Beyond Belief. My church is one of the stories featured in this program, and my husband was interviewed at length. We have a wonderful bilingual congregation in KC, KS.
    Steve Mencher did a great job on this program, spending about 9 months here in KC, and visiting our church many times. Besides making great tv, he is a wonderful keyboardist and always played with our band when he was visiting.
    This program is an encouraging picture of what community should look like.

  11. Great pictures of Chicago, CM. The city has its pathologies, as alluded to by several commenters, but there’s something magical about the area surrounding the intersection of the river and Michigan Avenue–especially at night. And–with apologies to New York–I don’t think there’s a more picturesque skyline in the world.

  12. When you have an oppressed group of people that become so desperate for change, you may have a lot of social unrest. When conditions in society worsened, violence and maybe an armed uprising may happen, but the rebellion will almost surely be crushed by the military, especially if the population becomes hostile to the rebels. Even if many people joined the rebellion, the revolution would turn into a protracted civil war with no end in sight like the current Syrian Civil War. Under these circumstances the oppressed people that rebelled may never find the equality and freedom that they sought.

    Martin Luther King Jr. knew that this situation would occur if the black civil rights movement turned into a violent armed rebellion because the white people would turn against the black people. The government would have destroyed a black rebellion with overwhelming force, and the black civil rights struggle would have failed. That is why King embraced nonviolence.

    • Robert F says

      And what if a faction of whites rebel in this country? How will it turn out then, for blacks and other minorities? Will the military crush them as readily is it would a black rebellion? Because I tell you, I see a lot of crazy whites running around who have guns, lots of them, and they’re screaming “Make America Great Again!”, and there’s blood in their eyes. They scare me. What alarms me even more is that I think many of them are professional, or former professional, military and law enforcement.

      • I’m scared of this, too. It’s been building since 9/11.

        • And even before, what with militias and white terrorists like the ones who killed so many in Oklahoma City…

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Remember after the 2008 Elections, when the Internet was flooded with John Galt Celebrity Impersonators quoting Atlas Shrugged chapter-and-verse as Prophecy Being Fulfilled?

        I’m expecting the same with The Turner Diaries. Any minute now.

  13. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    The results are so striking that some researchers have posited that the cellular process of aging may be changing, in humans’ favor.

    Think of it as Evolution in Action?

  14. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    Psst…Ken Ham opened a theme park with a life-sized Noah’s Ark in Kentucky this week.

    On my annual trip to the East Coast (returned through Chicago O’Hare — avoid that airport if at all possible), I encountered a little (6X15 feet/2 x 5 meters) poster in my writing partner’s church. Here is my email to Tyler at God of Evolution about the encounter:

    I’m currently on the East Coast wrapping up a vacation visiting both my writing partners. I’m sending this from the church office of one of them (the burned-out preacher), and came across something you’d appreciate.

    (Understand, my writing partner is NOT YEC, and neither is his denom; however, the “church gatekeepers” — Church Ladies who REALLY run the show and can make or break the pastor with a whispering campaign — apparently ARE. Big Time.)

    Well, this year the Fellowship Hall(?) section of this small rural church has a full-wall poster of Noah’s Ark, about 6′ tall by 15′ wide. A very specific Noah’s Ark which I recognized from (1) the bulbous ram bow; (2) the long low deckhouse; (3) the low weathervane sternpost; and especially (4) the design/construction of the wooden trestle ramp parallel to the hull leading to the entry door on Deck 3, starboard beam. Yes, it’s the specific design from Ham’s Ark Experience theme park, down to the entry ramp. Oh, and Noah’s daughters are stocking the Ark (using wooden construction cranes hoisting to the top deck) with big buckets of what (according to Left Behind) the Saved eat in Heaven, “Steaming Piles of Fresh Produce”. (Including bananas.)

    But the best part are the animals going up the ramp two-by-two. Including:

    Two Unitatheriums;
    Two unidentified-but-recognizable paleo-mammals (Chalioctheres?);
    Two Smilodons;
    Two four-tusked, short-trunked Mastodons (Gompotheria?);
    Two Pteranodons (flying overhead about to land on the top deck);
    and Two sauropod dinosaurs (Mokele-Mbebe?)