Civil War soldier to receive Medal of Honor

First Lieutenant Alonzo H. Cushing of Wisconsin will get a Medal of Honor on September 15. Various Senators from Wisconsin starting with Proxmire in the 1980s have been working for it. What did he do? Well, he was on Cemetery Ridge at Gettysburg on the third day of the battle, with Pickett and two other divisions marching toward him. He commanded a Union artillery battery and was shot three times during what became called Pickett’s Charge, first in the shoulder, then in the abdomen, and fatally through the mouth while leading his artillerymen against Lee’s soldiers as they marched up the slope toward the Union lines.

Personally I think if Bobby Lee had the sense given to kumquats he’d not have ordered Pickett and Pettigrew and Trimble up that hill. If you’ve ever been there (or seen the movie Gettysburg) you’d see how slim the odds of taking it were. The front was a mile wide and Lee’s men had to march 3/4 of a mile uphill to reach the Union lines, which were fortified with many artillery batteries like the one Lieutenant Cushing led. There was no cover to hide behind, either. It was Lee’s roll of the dice, and he lost.

Which state has the best local beer?

It’s certainly not Hawai’i. I grant you that I quit drinking in 2000 and had been a Bud drinker for years before that, so I’m no connoisseur. Nonetheless, I’ve had one local beer in the past year, and it didn’t impress me much. Maybe it’s just that I’ve been away from the taste of beer for nearly 15 years, but it didn’t go down well at all. My cousins bought a six-pack of Big Wave while visiting and left a few in the fridge, so I drank ‘em over the period of about a month. Meh.

I have to agree with the comments of the beer raters at thrillist:

43. Hawaii
People tend to vouch for the tastiness of the local beer they tried while in Hawaii, which is probably because THEY WERE IN #@$%& Hawaii. Kona and Maui and the like make some solid beer, but it gets a bit of a perception bump from the Hawaiian mystique.

Kona Brewing's Big Wave Ale

Kona Brewing’s Big Wave Ale

Stop with the Cowboys already

Dear ESPN:

You guys surely get attached to certain teams and lose all objectivity. For example, the Dallas Cowboys and Tony Romo have been mediocre for several years. The last time the team made the playoffs was 2009, which was also the last time they posted a winning record. They’ve been 6-10, 8-8, 8-8, and 8-8 in the past four years. You still insist on covering them as though they were either your neighborhood team (like the Red Sox and Yankees in baseball) or the defending NFL champs. They’re neither.

ESPN’s Total Quarterback Rating is on a scale of 0-100, with 50 being average. The highest Romo has been rated since 2006 when this calculation was first devised is 71.4 in 2011. He’s a 34-year-old QB with one playoff win in eight seasons as a starter. He’s not a first-rate quarterback.

They are not “America’s Team” anymore, no matter how hard you and Jerry Jones try to tell us so. Jones is an owner, not a professional general manager, and it shows.

If there’s an “America’s Team” these days in the NFL, I suspect it’s the Green Bay Packers.


From Events

This is a working rotary dial telephone, presented to my father on the occasion of his 1970 departure from his job as Public Works Officer, Naval Station Guam. That job encompassed many things, including keeping the utilities working from the telephone system to the electrical grid. It’s in the shape of a latte stone, a two-piece pillar used as a building support throughout the Marianas Islands.

Ebola patients released

News flash: Two American Ebola patients released from Atlanta hospital.

Take that, you miserable cowardly crowds who were screeching that they should be kept from returning to their home country. “Let them die in Africa” was the implicit message you were sending.

One wonders how big the intersection is between the screechers above and the anti-vaxxers who deny their children vaccinations. I’ll bet it’s pretty large.

Isn’t science denial a wonderful thing?

An existential question

Surely there’s more to life than going from week to week, marking each by whether it’s the Thursday when you have to put out the green waste rubbish bin or the Thursday when the blue plastic and newspaper waste one is scheduled. Monday night is always the night the gray non-recyclable stuff goes out, so there’s just an endless cycle of Mondays, forever and ever amen.

Greed, thy name is NFL

The news that the NFL was thinking of charging its Super Bowl halftime performers a fee for the right to their 12 minutes of glory before the stupendously large TV audience that is couch-bound on Super Bowl Sunday seems obnoxious enough to me. But it’s even worse than I thought. It’s asking the performers to “contribute a portion of their post-Super Bowl tour income” to the NFL, or to “make some other type of financial contribution.”

There’s a slight smell of extortion here. The implication is “For the privilege of being on our stage for less than fifteen minutes we want a cut of your next tour’s income.”

This is nothing but greed. Performers have apparently been performing for free for quite a while, taking the exposure to that TV audience as payment in kind. But now the NFL, not wealthy enough with its $9 billion in annual revenues (as of 2013), wants to have the artists pay it for the privilege. And how big a percentage of that “post-Super Bowl tour income” will the league demand, and for how long?

I hope no artist takes them up on this.

Take a hike!

Way back in 1970 or 1971 I went to the Grand Canyon from Tucson with two fraternity brothers, Jack Thompson of Mt. Kisco, New York and Drew Harvey of Tupelo, Mississippi. It was spring break and we were intrepid. We had driven the 535 miles in Jack’s Renault R-10, and we wanted to stretch out (also, Jack was majoring in mining engineering, and he was interested in the geology). We planned to hike the South Kaibab Trail to the bottom of the Canyon, camp overnight, and then walk the river trail to the Bright Angel Trail and hike back up, stopping at Indian Garden where we were met by two more fraternity brothers carrying a six-pack of beer. Then we hiked the rest of the way up the Bright Angel (the longer of the two, but the one that tops out at the visitor center).

I still can’t believe I took no pictures or had no camera, but there’s no evidence that I ever did this. Honest, all three of us did. Here’s what it looks like in a 14-minute video:

Here it is in a zillion still photographs.

Ferguson anything but calm

I was under the impression that when Missouri Governor Nixon named Captain Ron Johnson of the Highway Patrol to be in charge of the scene in Ferguson, he’d be in charge. On the night he was named (Thursday) the town appeared to be pretty peaceful and all the military hardware and heavy weaponry was out of sight. But each night since then the cops in riot gear appear to be back in charge. I’m wondering if Capt. Johnson is being used as the token Black guy and set up for a fall here.

Sunday night into Monday morning the cops began firing tear gas canisters at protesters, this time three hours before a midnight curfew was to begin. That was apparently in response to a gang fight which had nothing to do with the protest.

As police began gathering tactical equipment, a crowd of about 300 protesters began a planned march down West Florissant Ave. toward the staging area police have set up in a shopping center about a half-mile south. As the crowd approached, police in three armored vehicles sped toward them, stopping about 10 feet away.

“Disperse immediately,” an officer in the lead vehicle announced.

When none in the crowd did, police launched about a dozen tear gas canisters, sending the bulk of the protesters back down Florissant Ave. or ducking into nearby neighborhoods. Several stragglers were arrested at the scene.

And then the cops started driving up and down the streets in armored vehicles, wearing gas masks and protective clothing.

This police department is completely out of control.