Monday, October 29, 2012

The world is an honest-to-goodness ....

weird place. .... search term of the day:

"nude woman running a backhoe."

From Rochester NY., which is amazing because that sorta stuff usually comes from a middle eastern land.

All I got from the Middle East was a Saudi looking for "hot sex." One would think the desert would provide enough of that, but maybe the camels are sexually repressed.

Why Pakistan will NEVER be Civilized


The West sighed in relief when Rimsha Masih, the 14-year-old Christian girl arrested in Pakistan on August 16 for allegedly burning pages of the Quran, was finally released. Yet the West remains clueless concerning the graphic abuses—including rape and murder—Christian children in Pakistan routinely suffer, simply for being Christian. Consider two stories alone, both of which occurred at the same time Rimsha's blasphemy ordeal was making headlines around the world. 

On August 14, another Christian girl, 12-year-old Muqadas Kainat (which means "Holy Universe") was ambushed in a field near her home in Sahawil by five Muslim men who "gang raped and murdered" her. At the time, her father was at a hospital visiting her sick mother. He and other family members began a frantic search, until a tip led them to the field where his daughter's body lay. The postmortem revealed that she had been "gang raped and later strangled to death by five men." Police, as usual, did not arrest anyone. As a Salem News report puts it, "Complicating matters is the fact that several Christian girls in this remote area have been raped and forced to both marry into the Muslim community and abandon their own religion, human rights groups report…. there is a history in this part of Pakistan according to the Christian community, of local authorities failing to investigate cases of rape or other violence against Christians, often for fear of influential Muslims or militants."

Similarly, on August 20, an 11-year-old Christian boy, Samuel Yaqoob, went to the markets of Faisalabad to buy food for his family, never to return. According to Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, "After extensive searching his body was found near a drain in the Christian colony, bearing marks of horrific torture, with the murder weapon nearby. His nose, lips and belly had been sliced off, and his family could hardly recognize him because the body was so badly burnt.

Some 23 wounds by a sharp weapon have been identified in the autopsy. When sending his body for an autopsy, police raised the possibility of sodomy. Parts of Pakistani culture have a strong homosexual pederast culture, and Christian and other minority boys are especially susceptible to rape and abuse because of the powerlessness of their community and their despised status. In one case fairly recently, a Christian boy was kidnapped, raped, tortured and killed by a police officer, his body similarly being dumped in a drain.

These were just some of the stories concerning the sexual abuse and murder of Pakistan's Christian children that occurred last August—even as the world stood in awe at the Rimsha Masih blasphemy case. Here are 20 more examples, chosen at random from the many former documented cases:

Nisha, a 9-year-old Christian girl was abducted by Muslims, gang-raped, murdered by repeated blows to her head, and then dumped into a canal (May, 2009).
 
Gulfam, another 9-year-old Christian girl, was raped by a Muslim man. Though not killed, she was left "in shock and in the throes of a physical and psychological trauma." During her ordeal, her rapist told her "not to worry because he had done the same service to other young Christian girls" (December, 2010).

Lubna, a 12-year-old Christian girl was kidnapped, gang-raped, and murdered by a group of Muslims (October, 2010).

Kidnapped last Christmas Eve, a 12-year-old Christian girl known as "Anna" was gang raped for eight months, forcibly converted and then "married" to her Muslim attacker. After she escaped, instead of seeing justice done, "the Christian family is in hiding from the rapists and the police" (October, 2011).

After gang-raping a 13-year-old Christian girl, a band of Muslims came to her house when all male members were away working and "mercilessly" beat her pregnant aunt causing her to lose female twins to miscarriage: "They murdered our children, they raped our daughter. We have nothing left with us," lamented an older family member. The police went on to accuse the 13-year-old raped girl of "committing adultery with three men" (June, 2012).

A Muslim man murdered a teenage Christian girl, Amariah, during an attempted rape: he had "grabbed the girl and, under the threat of a gun, tried to drag her away. The young woman resisted, trying to escape the clutches of her attacker, when the man opened fire and killed her instantly, and later tried to conceal the corpse" (December, 2011).

Muslims abducted a 14-year-old Christian girl, Mehek, at gunpoint in broad daylight from her parents' house. One of her abductors declared he would "purify her" by making her "Muslim and my mistress" (August, 2011).

Shazia, a 12-year-old Christian girl, was enslaved, raped, and murdered by Chaudhry Naeem, a rich Muslim lawyer, who was acquitted. His wife and son had participated in abusing the child (November, 2010).

Nadia, a Christian girl who was abducted in 2001 when she was 15-years-old and forced to marry a Muslim, only recently returned to her Catholic family (January, 2012).

A powerful Muslim businessman had two Christian sisters kidnapped, forced to convert to Islam, and "married" to him (May, 2011).

In every one of these cases, Pakistani police either failed to act or sided with the rapists and murderers.
 
The anecdotes represent a mere sampling of the documented atrocities committed against the children of Pakistan's Christians, who amount for a miniscule 1.5% of the nation's population. Then there are the stories that never make it to any media—stories of silent abuse that only the nameless, faceless victims know. For example, it took five years for the story of a 2-year-old toddler who was savagely raped because her Christian father refused to convert to Islam to surface. After undergoing five surgeries, her anatomy remains disfigured and she suffers from several permanent complications. Her family lives in fear and hiding.
 
How many Christian children in Pakistan are being mauled in silence, with their stories never surfacing?

And what animates this savagery? Discussing the aforementioned rape of 9-year-old Gulfam, local sources in Pakistan put it well: "It is shameful. Such incidents occur frequently. Christian girls are considered goods to be damaged at leisure. Abusing them is a right. According to the [Muslim] community's mentality it is not even a crime. Muslims regard them as spoils of war."

Indeed, here is how the late Majid Khadduri, "internationally recognized as one of the world's leading authorities on Islamic law and jurisprudence," explained the idea of human "spoils" in his War and Peace in the Law of Islam:

The term spoil (ghanima) is applied specifically to property acquired by force from non-Muslims. It includes, however, not only property (movable and immovable) but also persons, whether in the capacity of asra (prisoners of war) or sabi (women and children). … If the slave were a woman, the master was permitted to have sexual connection with her as a concubine.

From here, one can begin to understand the rabid fanaticism that possessed Pakistan's Muslims concerning the Rifsha blasphemy case, which resulted in mass riots, Muslim threats to take the law in their own hands, and the dislocation of Christians, some of whom have been forced to live and worship in the wilderness: if infidel Christians, especially their children, are seen as mere "spoils" to be used and disposed of with impunity, certainly it must be intolerable for Muslims if one of these "sub-humans" dares to desecrate Islam's holy book—the same book that ordains their inhuman status.

And herein is the true significance of the Rifsha Masih case: success can be measured not in the fact that this one particular Christian child got away from the savageries of Islamic law and culture, but whether her ordeal will begin to open Western eyes to the terrors Pakistan's Christian children routinely face.

This article is by Raymond Ibrahim, Associate Fellow Middle East Forum

Harry ....

I'm thinkin' you might be blown away, discover the Land of Oz, find out the Wizard is not all that nice, lose power, causing two gallons of vanilla ice cream to melt, making you cranky and driving you to steal red cream soda from your neighbor for which you get arrested and serve time on a chain gang, making your wife a tad unhappy so that she posts rude comments about you on twitter.

Are you safe, Harry?

She Was a Pixie

Marie Louise Victoria Caroline Amalie Alexandra Augusta Friederike Prinzessin von Hannover und Cumberland. About 1887.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The objective Pixie


My writing partner has commented on the concept of “objective” history before, and probably more concisely than I will here. Objective history is a myth. Every historian has a point of view and writes from that view point. This is especially true if one includes the thought that objective history is impartial. Well written history is accurate. There is a vast difference between accuracy and objectivity.
 
I believe most people mean “accurate” when they say “objective.” The idea that a historian can remain uninfluenced by personal feelings and beliefs is derived from 19th Century neo-Platonism. I cannot name for you any individual, God or human, who is uninfluenced by personal beliefs, opinions, or feelings. If you’ve met such a person, please provide their name.
 
Accuracy is reasonably obtainable. Accurately presented history should be the historian’s goal. My writing partner and I share an admiration for Francis Parkman. For you non-Americans, he was a 19th Century historian most noted for a book on the Oregon Trail. But his major work was a multi-volume history of the French in the New World. Parkman read the original colonial era documents; he walked the land that cradled the events; he wrote accurately but with feeling and perspectives. His analyses were limited but insightful. He told the story through the words of its participants, though with far less quotation than we use. This is good, solid, accurate story telling.

We, with less writing skill than Parkman had, do the same. We chose to quote more frequently from original sources because our subject is more controversial. There is a well-fixed, often wrong, mythology that substitutes for history that we must confront. Quotation from original sources help put our history beyond refutation when we chip at this hundred year old mythology. Also it is unlikely that most who follow us will find some of our documentation. It was difficult for us to find, sometimes taking years to locate. Some of it belongs to us, and because of bad experience, we are unlikely to loan it to anyone. Some small amounts of it are too fragile to copy.  

Objectivity is unobtainable, and it is undesirable. Most of those who seek personal objectivity forget that the world functions on value judgments. Historians must pick and choose among fragments of history. Many who’ve written on the same era and same subjects as we do have overlooked key story elements. True, most of these writers are polemicists and not historians. They do not seek nor do they want impartiality. But more often they are shallow researchers. Our research is not shallow, and it is driven by hunches based on our opinions, feelings, beliefs and sometimes just plain hunches.

The quest for ‘objectivity’ leads some to ignore otherwise illuminating behavior. I cannot see those who write for the principal descendant religion telling you that A. D. Jones was a crook, that Paton’s behaviors were questionable, that Russell was a-sexual, or which women he dated, that A. P. Adams was a fat bastard who delighted in intimidation and verbal abuse. It’s a much more interesting story if these things are included. I’m not even sure they know these things.

It is accuracy that matters. If I knew that Russell had chronic hormone problems that caused painful pimples on his butt, I’d include that too. I’d have a strong hunch as to the cause. I’d seek evidence to support my hypothesis. I wouldn’t write it into the story until I could prove it.

My dislike of some of these guys does not change the story. This is especially true since we make them tell their own story and in their own words as often as needed.
A commitment to accuracy does not mean I must abandon my personal feelings. Accuracy is like a strategically placed dragon’s claw. It holds you captive, and, if it’s grasped you in the right place, it brings you considerable pleasure as well.
 
 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Kissing a Dragon and Reading letters.


I’m on the worn-out side today. Two of the young men in my English Grammar class were rowdy. They’re on their way to step two in the discipline process. They won’t like step two at all. 

Living with a shape-shifting dragon is an adventure, but at least it’s helped me see a character in my new story much more clearly. Boy dragons are fun things to have around. I think I’m giving the dragon a Scots accent.

I’ve read and re-read and will read again Horace Randle’s letters. There are a few things that leave me puzzled. It would help if the other side of some of this correspondence was available. I puzzle over his sudden conversion to Baptist theology from Methodism. It is totally unexplained. There are, however, things in his resignation from the Baptist mission that explain later acts. I like doctor Randle. I think I would have like him if I had been alive when he was and met him.

I can’t say that about many of those we profile. We don’t know enough about their personalities. We know some really well, though. I strongly dislike two of these men, Arthur Prince Adams and John H. Paton. My personal feelings don’t keep me from accurately retelling their story, and the negatives are of their own making. We have Adams’ church trial transcripts. He was vain, belligerent, threatening, rude, and not reticent when it came to using his height and vast bulk to intimidate other men. She was also excessively self-righteous. (Not at all a nice man.) Paton we know through his articles, a few personal letters, and a year’s worth of diary entries. The more I read the more complex and more distasteful he seems. Complex is good. It enlivens the story.

It’s strange, I think, that I do not feel the same revulsion over Arthur Delmont Jones. Jones’ wife divorced him for adultery, which seems to have been his life-style. He embezzled money, leading to the suicide of an innocent party. He was party to a fraud, helped drive a bank into default, and was a real estate fraudster. He ran a fake charity for a while. Yet, it is not he but Paton and Adams who make me ill. That may be because Jones is such an average n’er-do-well, even if he was a crook, a cheat, an adulterer.

I’ve decided that my dragon character, in his dragon form, has a long pointy, rather pink, ribbon-like tongue. It isn’t forked.

Okay, so that was a bit out of sequence.
 
I spent part of my class time explaining why a twelve year old’s brain malfunctions.

Anyway, back to Dr. Randle: When he left the Baptists he said he would not disturb previous converts with his new theology. I’m still pondering this. If you believe you’ve found something better, wouldn’t you want to share it? His reasoning seems to be that an earnest Christian, though holding to error, is still acceptable to God and Christ. He did not wish to shake a fragile Christian. He put Jesus first. Later, when he believed one of those with whom he associated put himself above Christ, he ended that association. This is intensely interesting to me, and I find myself sympathetic. There are always those who find divine elevation and divine appointment where none exists. In a figurative way, I see men such as those reaching heaven only to find that there are those there they did not expect, and that they are not the important, God-appointed people they thought they were. If they make it, they’ll be heaven’s janitors. (Yes, yes, I’m sure spirits don’t poo in the human sense. But it would be fun to see them cleaning a toilet or two.)

I’m fairly certain I do not grasp all of this yet. I come away from reading what we have feeling that I have a thousand piece jigsaw with ten missing pieces.

There are others who would be equally interesting if we had more detail. We don’t have it, won’t find it, and I shrug my shoulders over it. I would love to find Ann Eliza Russell’s letters back to Ireland. She appears to have been born in 1825. I’m not certain that is accurate, though it is probably close. As I recall, her grave stone only gives her death date. All the biography we have comes from her son’s incidental remarks, and, while they give us an interesting picture, I suspect it isn’t a totally accurate one. Her son was a child when she died; he didn’t see her through adult eyes. There is no practical hope of seeing anything she wrote.

A historian works with what they have. Unlike political history, we have no state papers to dig out of an archive. What we have is patchwork. Another writer suggested that our book would become the standard work on this subject. I hope not. I hope it becomes the prompt to better, deeper research. I hope someone gets the historian’s flea that makes them want to refute what we write, to enlarge on it, to research it more thoroughly.

Did I tell you that dragons aren’t good kissers. No lips, you see. They have to shape shift to kiss you properly. They do have that nice pointy pink tongue though. Expect a lick.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Hot Dragon Sex, Dr. Randle, and stamps ...

Well .. this title ought to drawn some strange people to my blog ...
 
So … Knobby Knees was mildly surprised to discover he’d turned into a cute, shape-shifting dragon. I told him of the change over pancakes and bacon. He’s used to transmuting into odd things. He was a satyr for a while. He was a unicorn once. … Now he’s a dragon.

 
Shamelessly stolen form an Image Search
 
I received the Horace Randle documents today. Stellar! Some of it is ho-hum usual stuff. But … there is a key, multi-page letter! [Can you see me dancing and shouting, “I knew it! I knew it!?]
 
… Did I mention that shape-shifting dragons have very useful talons?

So … anyway … Horace Randle sent off his resignation letter with loads of detail. This is good stuff. He no longer wished to be a Baptist. Baptists are all deluded, he said. I’ve met a few deluded Baptists, but most of the delusions I noticed were among those Baptist males who thought themselves svelte, handsome, and irresistible. I went to school with a Baptist guy, overly tall, and overly obnoxious, and that coloured my view of the Baptist religion, probably for life … I probably offended everyone with that, huh?

One of my rude children just stole my breadstick. Shame!

And some more “so” … I’m still hopelessly dizzy some days. The increase in medication has changed my vision some. I’ll need new glasses eventually. This is one of the few “positive” aspects of this disorder. My vision has improved immensely from when I was in my teens. But, believe me, it’s not worth it. I’d rather be nearly blind and not have my health issues than have them and see without glasses.

My rather “strange-minded” (her words, not mine) artist friend sent me a longish email on the nature of umm male dragon appendages. I won’t copy it out here, neither will I post the rough sketches she sent. My blog would lose its PG status if I did. Interesting ideas though. ….
 
I’m tired of politics. More specifically I’m tired of the media. My writing partner was a newspaper editor way back when. (McKinley was president maybe) He’s full of stories about what reporters and commentators do. One of my favorites is about an impromptu interview with the president of a largish, Ohio-based research institution. The reporter and this guy were on the same plane. When they landed Reporter guy asks, “Are the rumors true that you plan on running for the Senate?” This ended up as an “exclusive” article. SoAndSo denies rumors. Of course the reporter made the rumor up on the spot.

Most reporters work for the Daily Scandal Blatt at heart, even if they were not hired by any of the yellow-sheets. This is not a new phenomenon. I bet if you went looking you’d find something in some paper about George Washington’s mistress, even if he didn’t have one.

I’ve spent part of this morning sippin’ coffee and vegetating while the world spun too rapidly. Oh … and some inexpensive but very nice stamps came in this morning’s mail. Most of these are from the North German Confederation, and there is a set of the 1920 revalued German stamps. I had some of these, but I collect in two albums, one world-wide and one specialized. The world-wide album is really five volumes covering the first hundred years of postage stamps. The specialized album is just Germany and related. There are three volumes for that. So I found a place for most everything. I’ll either trade off or give away the two extras.
 
 

Recent auction returns are a good indicator of Europe’s financial troubles. The amount bid, except on the very rarest items, has declined – sometimes by a huge amount. This is good for me, even if it isn’t good for the dealers.

I’ve added a dealer from Israel to my “I really like this guy” list.

Did you know that a dragon can wrap his front claw completely around a pixie? Just saying …

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Photo by John Corbin Sunderlin - 1885

Occasional's Adventures with High Tech


Me and my e-reader
Mrs Occasional and I started camping again in our mature years. We’d camped as youngsters, and then used youth hostels when the family was young. But my daughter’s insistence that we join her and hubby for a folk festival a few years ago saw us camping again. And that’s when the problems of reading in bed really started. To try and read a book while lying on a rapidly deflating air bed, holding the book above your head with a penlight torch gripped between your teeth, proved to be a less than relaxing experience. We even bought special torches that fitted around our heads, as if we were going coal mining or something. But the slightest nod and light danced off the roof of the tent, annoying the other reader

 
Mrs Occasional had an early Nintendo – she likes those sorts of things – and one of the programs was a collection of “100 classics.” Reading those on the small Nintendo screen was a great improvement, except that at bedtime you don’t always feel like working your way through the books you did in school. The Victorians had a way with words – using two when even one was superfluous. We wanted to retire and read lighter fare at times.
The first dedicated e-readers with their e-ink format were a pain in the wallet. But then the ubiquitous iPad hit the market. For actual reading with the lights out they were not nearly as good as dedicated e-readers, but all the geeks bought first edition iPads and unloaded their neglected e-readers onto eBay. And thus it came to pass that that Mr and Mrs Occasional became proud owners of two identical Sony e-readers, with illuminated glass screens – and peace and contentment reigned.
Years later we still have the same devices, even though they came to us pre-used. An artistic use of dry transfer letters ensures we don’t mix them up. With extra memory cards they can hold a great amount of books, and even though by today’s standards they are a bit clunky they still work fine for us.
With a freeware program called Calibre, I can transform nearly everything into the ePub format that Sony use. Do I want to read a lengthy chapter of history research from another of Rachael’s blogs? Cut and paste it into Word, save as a pdf, and Calibre will immediately turn it into ePub – which allows a reader to choose different sizes of font for the page and their eyesight.
Of course, you can read books on virtually anything nowadays. My daughter can read books on her miniscule phone. This is great as long as you don’t mind having only one sentence available at any one time. A standard paperback seems to run at around 4000 pages, and you risk a severe case of repetitive strain injury to your thumb. So – horses for courses – if you want an e-reader – get a dedicated one.
So why not buy a Kindle? For a start, our e-reading predated the Kindle. However, as noted above, there is a format called ePub, which was designed to be the industry standard. I can download the latest books for free from the public library in ePub – they self-destruct after three weeks; I can download the main religious magazines I read in ePub; and if I feel like delving into the history that Rachael and Bruce have researched, I can download all the original sources in ePub too. Whereas Kindle have done an Apple – invented a dedicated system that generally only works on their machines. Fine if you only want to obtain books from Amazon, but too limited for my needs.
So what is on my e-reader? (Wake up now – I am sure by now that you are riveted to this post to find out...)  As is my wont, I am about half way through half a dozen books at present. I first downloaded the classics and re-read Dickens Nicholas Nickleby – well, the first half anyway. I love Dickens’ descriptions (e.g. Wackford Squeers – “he had but one eye, whereas the popular prejudice runs in favour of two”) – but in those pre-TV days he did go on a bit. I got to the Madeline Bray sub-plot, and faltered somewhat. Every so often I will go back and do another chapter.
Then as a collector and member of the Jerome K Jerome society I downloaded virtually his whole oeuvre – and actually read them all again, which was a big step up from just admiring them in the bookcase. Some of my favourite authors were sufficiently out of copyright in some lands to allow me access; I also bought an el cheapo CD containing ePubs of about 2500 thrillers off eBay and have been stolidly working my way through memories of a misspent youth. Then there is the first major book produced by the religion I research – it suddenly seemed an oversight not to have actually read it from cover to cover – so that is on the go. Some monthly journals always go on there, and I am half way through a certain book called Pixie Warrior.
As a practicing bibliomane, whose life has been spent falling over stacks of books and crying “Eureka” when prized volumes turn up dirt cheap, I never thought I would succumb to the charms of an electronic gadget. But succumb I have, for sheer convenience and on-the-go, while the original volumes still provide a decorative alternative to wallpaper. Of course there is still nothing like holding the real thing. But to take a library of hundreds, even thousands, of books around with you in your pocket – it has a lot going for it.
If and when my Sony goes to that great scrap heap in the sky, I will probably go for a Nook, or a Kobo, or even another Sony, one that still uses what was supposed to be the industry standard. But for now – time to turn out the lights, click the switch – select from the menu – and – go on – what will it be for tonight? Let’s have some bedclothes back Mrs Occasional, and I wonder what she’s reading...?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

H. A. Randle

I've spent more time than I should have tracing a photo of Horace Andrews Randle, a British born, American traind physician. No success on that front. [sigh] But I found an archive with a file folder of his letters, and these were [gasp] written in the key period.

I wrote the archive an email. Now, I'm hopin' that the whole bunch is not too fragile to copy and not too expensive.

In the mean time, the search for Dr. Randle's photo (and a really cute shape-shifting dragon with a huge pile of gold) continues.

Update:

I heard back surprisingly quickly. The archive in possession has about 70 pages of original documents. Cost is 17.50 for digitalized copies. This is good. Now I have to find the additional 17.50 from our nominal research budget. [insert sigh here]

Update to the Update. Donation received with our thanks!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Youngest to oldest ...

Dau 1 is trimming Dau 2's hair. Dau 5 enters kitchen from dining room, spying the hair surgery in progress. She assesses the situation.

Dau 5 to Dau 1: You look just like Conan the Barber.

Dau 1 to Dau 5: You mean Conan the Barbarian.

Dau 5 to Dau 1: No,  you don't look a thing like him.

My children are strange. It's knobby knees fault. Can't be mine.

???

Midg? YooHoo!

Creepy creepiness ....

Search term from some guy in Branford, Connecticut: "12 year old cute girls toes"

Yipeeeee!!!

No ... I haven't found a cute shape-shifting dragon yet. ... But I bought a book ... for five dollars and shipping. This is good stuff. My writing partner tried to talk a bookseller down to ten dollars for his ratty copy. Said bookseller still has his ratty copy for sale for twenty dollars and expensive shipping. ... He can keep his moldy book forever now!

So what did I buy ... see below:

 
One of the principal - the principal, really - characters in our work in progress asked the author out way back in 1878. We know this because she copies her diary entry into this book. Super bit, huh?

Dragon Question of the Day ...

Assume you're going to date a dragon with a long term relationship in view. Would your dragon of choice have feathers, scales, or eel skin? Would it have wings or not? Would it be huge, middle sized or small?

... So ... mom, I met someone. ...

because i'm dizzy and sickish ..

I'm just posting the answer to an email form some anon. blog contributor ... Take this as an update of sorts on my health and current activities ...

I don't think that his magazine matters for this book, though we do profile him. I managed to download the heralds and the convention reports. I've rewritten bits about Wendell to accommodate the newly found article. We need a similar article search for 1870.

Other than that, I've been sick off and on; snuggled Knobby Knees a bunch; frowned at students; debated fantasy fiction concepts with an artist friend; went treasure (read junk) shopping with aunt Shirley; read young adult books I may use for next semester's classes; read a history of women religious in the middle ages (such scandal); baked poppy seed muffins; entertained my children with wild stories; plotted mayhem against drunken, trespassing hunters; and felt sorry for my self a whole lot. Oh, and I've been debating the nature of shape-shifting dragons with my Starbucks gossip group. Did you ever finish Pixie Warrior. Did you hate it?

On the history front, we're missing detail of Russell and Paton's conference in 1881. I don't think we'll ever find it. I will reread all the earliest Hope articles eventually, looking for it. Two of the early years are off in someone else's hands, supposedly being scanned. I am not sure I like or trust the person doing the scanning, but that was Bruce's choice, not mine. The copies are second generation (maybe 3rd) and the scanning will, I'm told take some tinkering to get it right.

There is an entire area we can't touch in this research simply because we can't find the material - or afford it. Getting the Pittsburgh papers is very expensive. I'm not sure we need them anyway. And there are hints of a fairly wide-spread but low key negative comment regionally in the 1877-1880 era. One of the books i mentioned on my blog contains some letters that may have been about Russell's beliefs, but it's to vague to say. We can't use something that vague.

I need to meet a shape-shifting dragon in person. Probably they'd look a lot like a knobby kneed Scot in their human form. Maybe not. I'll keep my eye out and let you know if I find one ...

 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Photo by John C. Sunderlin - About 1880

Near Fort Edward, New York

Books, Papers, Snuggles and Windmills


Well, I’ve been neglecting my blog, haven’t I? My excuses are the usual ones. I’ve been really, really sick, and I’ve been really, really busy. Fortunately, the one has not precluded the other. My medication was upped a small amount. Taking the extra amount is a lot like being hit in the head with a rubber mallet. I’ve slept away hours as my body adjusts. I seem fine with it now, and it has helped.

In my semi-conscious hours, I’ve been reading. Thanks to O.Reader’s help we have a bazillion pages of documentation we did not have before. My writing partner read through them twice, taking notes. He passed the notes and pages on to me. I’m on my third read. Good stuff here. Things we did not know but suspected. Things we did not know and did not suspect. And things that make us look at other things more critically or differently.

I’ve adopted a color-coded note system. Each read-through gets a different colored sticky note. This helps me keep track of what I have already considered and used. There are gaps in this material, so I find clues that I can’t follow. A “circular” is mentioned. Subscribers to a magazine dropped off after it was published. I wish I knew the circular’s contents. I don’t. My guess is that it concerned paying for subscriptions, but that’s only a guess.

We’ve had a small influx of books and pamphlets. I found a nice first edition with dust jacked of Nichol’s The Midnight Cry. It was relatively inexpensive. I found a lot of four books on ebay. No one bid, probably because of a “partially-fixed mold” issue. I have a nice, large negative ion generator/air filter thingie that cures mold.

I was only interested in one of the four books. As it turns out, two of them are useful. The other two I discarded as beyond rescue. The two I kept are nearly hopeless. They’ll be sitting, pages fanned, in front of the negative ion generator for months. The seller’s fix was to spray cheap perfume on each page. This made it worse than if she had left them alone. The most important of these books is entitled The Millennium.  It was written by John Kohr, a fairly obscure part-time preacher. He opposed the views of some who show up in our book. The interest lies in correspondence between him and an unnamed Millennialist. The other book I kept does not contribute to our research but fits in our larger collection.

I also located two relevant booklets, both of them quite rare – and very inexpensive. One of the online booksellers does not describe his books and booklets well. So material that the big-time collectors would take away from us comes from that  source fairly regularly, if you can call regularly once every quarter. We bought Henry Giles’ The Christian View of Retribution Hereafter. It was published in London in 1839. More importantly we acquired C. F. Hudson’s The Rights of Wrong or, Is Evil Eternal. This was published in Boston in 1859. This is exceptionally rare. Go back and re-read that, pretending that I wrote it all in capital letters. I paid ten dollars out of my stamp collecting allowance to get that. I’m happy as a clam – assuming clams really are happy.

I’ve taken a chunk of my comp-time and personal time these last few weeks. I go back to work tomorrow morning. Yes, I said morning, early. I’m working days over the weekend. I hate the idea, but our census should be quite low this month.

Knobby Knees talked me into riding up – or is that down? Maybe it’s “over.” – to Dayton and Waitsburg and the Tucannon River valley. We got an hour tour of a Wind Energy site. I got tired of seeing wind turbines spin, but it was interesting. We stopped at an over grown cemetery. Cemeteries are really interesting, but they always leave me sad. This one was especially depressing. No one takes care of it, though I understand that many of the descendants of those buried there leave near by. The oldest grave we saw was from the 1880s; the newest from 1995. It’s over grown with tress and weeds. Some of the graves no longer have head stones. Some were vandalized; some have sunk into the ground.

This area is rich farmland. The scenery is striking, breathtaking as a descriptor does not really work. You’d have to see it. Dayton and Waitsburg are pioneer era towns, and retain many of their older buildings. Hidden in the rushes, thistles and weeds are original cabins. We drove by several decayed mystery structures.

Waitsburg

The wind farm is built on private farmland. We got to visit with one of the property owners. He was a gruff, but charming man who took a few minutes to explain wheat land farming to me. I’ll stick to my tiny heard of goats, thanks.

I also got to speak briefly to a Columbia County deputy. … Which reminds me … They still use their historic courthouse. It’s lovely.

KK and I sat way up high above the Tucannon and just watched the world go by. (Okay so there was a kiss or six in there somewhere.) But mostly we just enjoyed the scenery. It was a fun, but very tiring day. I crashed when we got home and slept nearly 13 straight hours.



Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Blep!


Someone sent my writing partner a book that antidotally discusses the history of one of the religions we research. Its scope is very limited; it’s focused primarily on the sect’s story as it unfolds in the City of London.   

My writing partner sent it to me through my cousin. She’s here on business. We gossiped for about twenty minutes, which was too short a time for that pursuit, and then she left me with the book. Folded inside was a note from my WP and, on a separate sheet, his thoughts on some specific pages. He asked me to read the book and decide whether we will review it, mention it without a review, or ignore it. I’m not sure why he passed this distasteful task on to me.

We have a personal history with the author. When our biography of Nelson Barbour was nearing publication, Bruce contacted him, asking him if he would sell the book through his online bookstore. His was one of a small number of online bookstores (all of which have gone out of business) specializing in historical material relevant to our topic. He wrote a rather long critique, attaching it to an email. We couldn’t open the file, and Bruce asked for it in plain text. A terse return email followed declining to stock our book because (in his estimation) the research was poor, the writing was poor, and the subject was irrelevant to a British audience. Later I was able to open the original email attachment. It was rude, to say the least.

He is, of course, free to hold what ever opinions he wishes. But, having critiqued our writing, judging it as of poor quality, I expected that his writing would be sterling if not golden. It is neither. He can’t identify a sentence fragment. He fills his sentences with Kapok-like filler words. I have middle school students whose writing is superior to his. The man needs a grammar refresher. There is no LIFE in this book.

I cannot judge the accuracy of his later chapters. I presume they are reasonably accurate, though they managed to first bore me, then irritate me. The earlier chapters touch on things I know well. These suffer from lack of detail and lack of research. Major events and important persons are left out. The interaction between ZWT adherents and the Methodists and Spurgeon’s Tabernacle are omitted. He misstates minor details and when considering a major controversy, he describes it in such an abbreviated way that the real story isn’t told at all. This isn’t history. This is a retelling of sectarian propaganda. There is no original research here. It’s a poor retelling of what others have written.

I thought about this all day and off and on into the night. I’ve reread portions of this book. I’ve tried to remove myself from his silly comments made when Nelson Barbour: The Millennium’s Forgotten Prophet was published. I have gotten bad reviews before and written a few. Everyone gets them at some point. I’ve decided this is not a book I wish to recommend. In comparison to Hans Hesse’s Am Mutigsten Waren Immer Wieder dei Zeugen Jehovas, a book of similarly narrow focus, it comes off poorly. I also do not wish to post a negative review, so I haven’t given the author’s name or the book’s title here. It will find its own audience, primarily among those mentioned in it, their families and descendants. It will find what ever audience it has without comment from us.
 
This book is not History. While it is filled with all sorts of “facts” and statistics, it tells no story. History, well or poorly written, is all about the story – an accurately retold story.

Harvesting Hops