Monday, April 14, 2014

More than a million die each year due to DDT ban, and now Yellow Fever again threatens Americans

    For the first time in almost 50 years mosquitoes carrying the Yellow Fever virus have been found in California.
    I grew up in Holly Springs, so I am well aware of the dangers of Yellow Fever. Although the numbers vary depending on the source, in 1878 Holly Springs had a population of about 3,500. More than half fled the city in fear of the plague. Of those remaining, almost all contracted Yellow Fever. More than 300 died.

    Among the dead was the local newspaper editor, Col. Holland, who reported on the epidemic to the end. A priest and 13 nuns all contracted the disease while caring for the sick. The priest and six of the nuns died. Mississippi Secretary of State Kinloch Falconer, of Holly Springs, returned to his home town to assist and also contracted the disease and died. Supposedly he had asked Gov. Stone to appoint a fellow townsman in the event of his death, and indeed the governor appointed Henry Myers of Holly Springs to fill the post made vacant by Falconer's death.
    Now that we have had our little history lesson, let's talk about how to get rid of yellow fever. It's as simple as three little letters: D-D-T.
    Forget all the horror stories of fragile condor eggs and such that you've heard from back in the days when farmers used massive amounts of the pesticide on their crops. Those stories may be true. But limited DDT use causes little harm and does a great deal of good. The pesticide works.
    Used in small quantities indoors DDT works as a repellent. There is no need to even use enough to actually kill the mosquitoes.
    When discussing DDT we need to remember that it was credited with saving hundreds of millions of lives and eradicating malaria in much of the developed world. By using economic pressure to force poor, mostly African countries not to use the pesticide today our nation is allowing millions to die needlessly.
    In fact, many liberals traditionally hated DDT precisely because it did save lives. Alexander King, founder of the Malthusian Club of Rome, wrote in a biographical essay in 1990: "My own doubts came when DDT was introduced. In Guyana, within two years, it had almost eliminated malaria. So my chief quarrel with DDT, in hindsight, is that it has greatly added to the population problem." Dr. Charles Wurster, one of the major opponents of DDT, is reported to have said, "People are the cause of all the problems. We have too many of them. We need to get rid of some of them, and this (referring to malaria deaths) is as good a way as any."
    The position of the Sierra Club was stated by its director, Michael McCloskey: the "Sierra Club wants a ban on pesticides, even in countries where DDT has kept malaria under control...[because by] using DDT, we reduce mortality rates in underdeveloped countries without the consideration of how to support the increase in populations."
    In other words, these liberals hate DDT because it enables those pesky ol' poor people to keep on living!
    Roughly a million people die from malaria each year. Sometimes these deaths leave families destitute, resulting in further deaths. Most of these deaths could be prevented with the judicious use of DDT.
    Pol Pot killed around a million Cambodians directly and another million indirectly. Today liberals, through their absolute ban on DDT use do exactly the same thing to malaria victims around the undeveloped world -- each and every year!
    We have liberals we don't need. We have a DDT ban we don't need. We have the equivalent of a Pol Pot every year, which we certainly don't need.
    All we need is reasonable, limited use of DDT to eradicate and repel mosquitoes.
    You can side with me on this or side with the liberals and Pol Pot. It's your choice.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Fifth Circuit overturns Cleveland School Freedom of Choice plan; resegregation likely

    The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed a Freedom of Choice integration (click here for decision) plan for the Cleveland School District that was ordered by U.S. District Judge Glen Davidson last year. I wrote a long post about this last year. This is bad news for Cleveland and bad news for public education in general.
    (Click here for the Bolivar Commercial story).
    (Click here for the Wall Street Journal story).
    The appeals court didn't expressly reject Freedom of Choice as an option, but said that in order for it to be allowed Davidson needed to explain in his opinion how it would help integrate all-black Eastside High School and an all-black jr. high school. Click here to read Davidson's well-reasoned opinion from last year.
    Cleveland currently has two high school districts. One has an all-black high school; the other district has a roughly 50-50 balance between black and white students.
    Well, here's the deal. Davidson is not going to be able to explain how his plan will desegregate Eastside because it won't. His order was designed to allow black students the choice to attend an integrated school or an all-black school while keeping a racial balance that would prevent white flight. His opinion noted that Cleveland was one of only two school districts in the Delta to have a substantial number of white students.
    A consolidated Cleveland Attendance District will be more than 70 percent black right off the bat. The U.S. Justice Department has insisted that there will be no white flight, and that white families are less resistant to sending their children to a mostly black school than they were in the 1960s and '70s. What the Justice Department is leaving out is that many Delta schools successfully integrated all the way through the late 1980s, when the whites just drifted away entirely, often due to mistreatment.
    If the Cleveland schools are consolidated, in 20 years the resulting school will have the same demographics as its sister schools in Clarksdale, Greenville, Greenwood, Leland, Rolling Fork, Yazoo City, Belzoni, and elsewhere. It will have virtually no white students.
    For the past 40 years the courts have pushed the notion that the only form of acceptable integration is perfect integration. So vouchers, ability grouping, or anything else that might bring black and white children together as equals have been forbidden. The courts have even gone so far as to rule that in overwhelmingly black districts two white children can't be grouped together in the same homeroom, because splitting them up prevents the creation of an all-black homeroom.
    For Cleveland, even a slight amount of white flight will tip the balance enough that a few more whites will leave. And after that there is likely to be a mad dash for the door. Bayou Academy, North Sunflower Academy, Indianola Academy, and Deer Creek School are only a short drive away. Washington School, at 35 miles, is probably the best school academically, and one that some will choose.
    Ultimately the question is whether society works to achieve desegregation plans that work on the ground but which are less than perfect, or whether we have to have perfect numerical integration.
    In every other heavily black school district in which the federal government has insisted on perfect integration the result has been white flight and almost total segregation. Cleveland will be no different. And just as Cleveland High will soon look a lot like Greenville or Clarksdale, so will the town itself.

Friday, April 4, 2014

I've been cleaning, sorting and going through old scrapbooks this week

    I've been cleaning up for the past few days, and that means trying to sort through boxes of old photos and scrapbooks.
    I found a scrapbook of my mother's that I've never seen before. It had a section of photos from her time as a student at the University of North Carolina, where she got her master's in health education.
    She was on a Rockefeller Scholarship. She told me that by today's standards the scholarship wasn't lavish. But she grew up in the Depression, and she said it was the first time in her life she had plenty of spending money.
    Andy Griffith attended UNC at the same time she did. They weren't friends but knew each other in passing. He was said to have a keen interest in acting, but told everyone that he would never be able to get a job because of his accent.
    There are plenty of photos of Mother going to Mt. Mitchell, the beach, and Washington, D.C. with her friends. Unfortunately she didn't take any photos of Andy Griffith.
    Pictured above is one of Mother's seminar classes. If you take a second look at the photo you might notice something a little funny if you haven't already.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The biggest tip I ever saw my father leave was probably the least deserved

    My father, Sidney Hurdle, died just over a year ago. In the weeks after his death I shared a number of stories about him or the things he told me.
    Recently we went through Dad's desk and started the job of cleaning out his office. He had not been in it for several years before his death; the stairs were too much for him. And so the office has been just as he left it four or five years ago.
    I found some interesting things, some of which I will share over the next few weeks. But I saw something while cleaning that made me remember the biggest tip, by percentage, that I ever saw my dad leave at a restaurant.
    Dad wasn't much of a tipper. He felt 10 percent was something rewarded for good service. He grudgingly would leave 15 percent on occasion. Today we've been browbeaten into leaving 20 percent for lackadaisical service, but not my dad.
    I believe the year was 1994. My brother Mike and I were with Dad in Vincennes, Ind., where the Peabody Coal Company was auctioning off substantial blocks of reclaimed coal land.
    The sale was held in a conference room at the local Holiday Inn. The Holiday Inn chain has improved in recent years, but at the time most Holiday Inns had restaurants that set the standard for mediocrity. We chose to eat in said restaurant.
    We were seated at one of two occupied tables in the large restaurant, and the people at the other table seemed to be just drinking coffee. There was one waitress, a rather large woman who huffed and puffed around as if walking from the kitchen to the table was an unreasonable job demand. The food was poor and the service awful. Our waitress explained the poor service by complaining that her employer had just forced her to take a room service order to a guest. The horrors!
    After a long delay the waitress finally brought our soup out with no spoons. We had teaspoons at the table, but naturally we wanted soup spoons. She told us they didn't have any and shambled away. As soon as she was gone we all muttered to each other that we were certain they had soup spoons, but felt the waitress just didn't want to expend the effort to walk across the restaurant to get them.
    I can't remember our total bill; I'm sure it was less than $20. Dad laid down $25 in cash and we hit the exit. Mike and I immediately demanded to know why a man who hates to tip left more than a 25 percent tip for terrible service. We were both of the opinion that the woman didn't deserve a dime.
    Dad's response was as follows: "Based on the service we just had, that may be the only tip she gets today. She's probably got children at home. They need it."
    I'm not sure it makes much sense to tip extra for really poor service, but that was my dad's policy.
9 And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.
10 But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny.
11 And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house,
12 Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.
13 But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny?
14 Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee.
15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?
Mathew 20:9-15


Monday, March 24, 2014

Pork neck bones were only item on the old meat rack, so I'm using the meat in a lentil soup

    I did a quick swing by Kroger this morning in hopes of finding some deals on the old meat rack. The only thing they had was pork neck bones marked down to 50 percent off, so $3.56 for 3.5 pounds.
    I've never cooked a pork neck bone before. They look a little like some of the ribs I've seen, so I thought maybe I could barbecue them. I got on my phone and did a quick Internet search and found where someone suggested I could simmer them for several hours and the meat would fall off the bones. The meat could then be used to make a lentil soup.
    So I came home, chopped an onion fine, sauteed it and some mushrooms in a quarter-stick of butter, added 12 cups of water and a couple of big teaspoons of beef base along with rosemary and other spices, and then added the pork neck bones to simmer. They are simmering at fairly low heat even as I type.
    I've never cooked lentils before, but the package says they only need about 20 minutes. So late this afternoon I'll fish out the pork neck bones, remove any remaining meat and continue to simmer the broth until suppertime. I'll throw in the lentils 20 or 30 minutes before it's time to eat. Some recipes call for a can of diced tomatoes. I'll let Lucy decide on whether or not to add any.
    Check back late tonight and I'll report on how it was!

    UPDATE: I promised an update on how dinner turned out. It was good, and the neckbones had a lot of meat on them. However, I had to dip out the bones and sort through the meat and mushrooms by hand. Even then some little bones got through.
    Next time I will use smoked pork rather than fresh and strain it. I'll lose the meat doing this but still get all the flavor. While straining I'll saute the onion and mushrooms, pour the liquid back in and let it simmer for an hour. The mushrooms do add a lot of flavor, but have to be simmered.

Friday, March 21, 2014

College friend, housemate, and fraternity brother shares letter signed by both of our fathers.

Click to enlarge
    At some point I seem to recollect coming across a quote that said "Mississippi is not so much a state as it is a private club." I thought Faulkner said it, but numerous Google searches for the author have proven fruitless. If I can't find anyone to attribute it to I guess I'll claim it.
    The point of the quote is that Mississippi is a relatively low-population state in which people from all over seem to share friendships and a common history.
    Joe Guyton, a fraternity brother and former housemate recently emailed me a copy of a letter to the national Democratic Committee that was signed by both of our fathers back in 1948. It urged the committee to name a slate of electors to support the re-election of Harry Truman as all of the state's leaders were supporting Strom Thurmond and Fielding Wright.
    A Google search found reference to this (unsuccessful) effort in a biography of Mississippi Congressman Frank Smith. It was apparently encouraged by Ole Miss professor Jim Silver, who was my father's favorite professor.
    My father was unable to attend a ceremony honoring Silver three years ago, so I went in his stead. I was disappointed when Chancellor Dan Jones and others used the event to suggest that those who wanted a new athletic director for Ole Miss were like those who drove Silver from the Ole Miss campus. It was a disgraceful act of incivility outside the bounds of the Ole Miss creed, yet Jones has still not apologized.
    In any event, what are the odds that two of 24 people who signed a letter back in 1948 would have sons who would later become friends, fraternity brothers, and housemates? My guess is that in Mississippi such things are more likely than in most states.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

USAir's Choice Seats offer little more than a chance to give airline more money

    Delta Airlines offers a few rows of "Economy Comfort" seating on most of its planes. It's a coach seat with extra padding and about four extra inches of extra legroom. Sometimes it's only a few dollars more, and I've bought it before and found it well worth the money. On International flights Delta throws in free hard liquor.
    United Airlines has "Economy Plus" seating, which is the same thing as Delta's Economy Comfort, with a few inches of extra legroom.
    And then there's USAir, which offers "Choice Seats." The airline's website describes these seats as follows:
Be among the first to board (with Zone 2) and among the first to leave when you land. ChoiceSeats are mostly window and aisle seats toward the front of Coach and may include exit row seats. You'll find the same leg room as other seats, but you'll be closer to the front of the plane.
    So on USAir you pay a big premium for a Choice Seat with the only reward being getting on and off early. That's a pretty weak reward. Extra legroom and free whiskey I'll pay for, but I'm not paying a big premium just to get off the plane two minutes before everyone else.