Interesting map here, based on the 1860 Census, showing slave distribution in the Old South.

You can see how uneven it was, and not a monolithic bloc, as we tend to think of it nowadays.

If you look closely, you will see there is no state of West Virginia, which was carved out of the northwestern corner of Virginia where almost no slave population is shown.  That area of Virginia ultimately voted to secede from the state of Virginia, due to Virginia’s vote to secede from the Union.

The new group of counties decided to call themselves the state of Kanawha, and applied to the Union for statehood.  In 1862, Lincoln and Congress granted their request, but by that time, the counties had changed their mind and shifted to West Virginia as their name of choice, unfortunately depriving us of a pretty neat name.

Look it over!



Here is an interesting artifact over on Slate:



The US banned the importation of Slaves in 1807, but they were still being bought and sold internally.  The Deep South needed raw labor in its fields, and many slaves from northern states were “Sold Down the River” to feed the industry.

A simple business document behind which lies a lifetime of anguish and torment.

Read the story here:



So you spend hours on Twitter.  Every meal you’ve had for the past two years is lovingly displayed on Instagram.  You’ve Pinned every other page you’ve Stumbled across, and to save us all from embarrassment we won’t even mention that stuff you put on Facebook .

You are an Always-On, Always-Connected, Early-Adopter, Beta Version, Master Time Squanderer.  Nothing can stand between you and your quest to produce the greatest body of work in the universe which is of absolutely no value to to any human.

Well; you don’t know nothing.

Learn from the Old Dutch Master.  And when I say old, I mean 1600’s.  No computers, no phones, no electricity, shit I’m not sure if light had been invented back then.

This guy, Athenasius Kircher, (oddly enough, that’s my next door neighbor’s name) spent some serious time and brain power working on the illustration I’ve linked to below.  This ain’t no sketch on the back of a napkin either, this is an Engraving. In other words, he carved this thing into a big sheet of something, probably copper, in order to make the prints.  This thing could have taken years.

And what, I am sure you are asking by now, did he spend so much time and effort and probably blood, (cause those little gravers are dang sharp and I have heard he was something of a klutz,) laboring so diligently to produce?

No less than the definitive, argument-ending, last and final word on that age-old, thorny conundrum that has been the ruination of so many of the world’s best minds; just how the hell did Noah fit all those damn animals in that little boat he built in the back yard?

Somewhere in my head I can hear old Athenasius’s mom, yelling from the backyard with a clothespin in her mouth: “When you gonna look for a job Nasus?”

Check this out:

You can click on the pic and then click on the Online boxes on the next page to see detailed images.  It really is quite a piece of work.



Some pretty incredible pictures here:

Like it or not, you can’t argue that colorizing these old photos that we know so well makes us see them in a completely new way.

Photography was one of my first loves, and I have played with it, studied it, read about it, and appreciated it for a lot of decades now.  These sepia beauties are all old friends to me.

When I started taking pictures, black and white film was still routinely used because color film was in its infancy; slow and grainy.  I took the pictures, I developed the film, and I made the prints.  I devoured Ansel Adams’ books about the art and craft and secretly tried to grow a beard.  I couldn’t measure up to him in any respect, but I loved the craft and I loved the devotion it took.  Still do.

I love these old icons.  I love the hues, I love the flattening effect of the lack of color.  The blacks have no detail and the highlights are completely washed out, leaving it up to our imaginations to fill in, if they are still capable of that in this time when they get so little exercise.

But I have been guilty of loving them as small objects of pure art and creation.  Sure it is a picture of a famous person, or a terrible battle scene, but more on the level of an oil painting by an Old Master than images of Afghanistan on the 6 O’Clock News.

Man does the color change that.

I love the surprise, the rush of emotion, the sudden connection to another human, instead of the cerebral appreciation of a finely crafted work.

Check them out.


Odd that a simple plant would become such a politically charged symbol (Although not the only case, thinking of that green, leafy plant).

It makes a beautiful field, but it is a nasty, nasty, plant.  If you don’t know, the stalks are iron-hard, black, sharp-edged pieces of whip-leather, as are the split open boll casings.
They cut flesh like they were designed to do it, and I have seen the hands of some who spent a lifetime picking it; gnarled, scar-ridden, clubs that were barely recognizable.

Everybody has heard of Eli Whitney, who invented the Cotton Gin, but it was Cyrus McCormick who invented the cotton reaper, back in the 1870’s and slowly started the movement of humans out of the cotton fields.

But as revolutionary as the reaper was, it was still something only affordable by the largest operations, and smaller farms and share-croppers continued hand picking into the 20th century.

It was a life of pain and agony, and probably something that damn near none of us can even comprehend now.



How does the song go? “Regrets; I’ve had a few.”

Well, let the first among us who have never said something completely idiotic throw some stones here, but it is hard not to yuck it up at this one.

The quote is “before man reaches the moon, mail will be delivered within hours from New York to California, to Britain, to India or Australia by guided missiles. We stand on the threshold of rocket mail.” This from the US Postmaster General of 1959.

And now we call it Snail Mail and they are billions of dollars in the hole and the Postmaster General himself may soon be on a rocket to the unemployment office.

ahhh, Life.

As Santayana; who apparently sat around drinking margaritas and thinking up zingers once scribbled out; “Life is not a spectacle or a feast; it is a predicament.

We laugh with you General, not at you.

Here’s the full, sorry, story:

Rocket mail – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.


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