Sunday, August 20, 2017

The best newspaper story I never wrote

On a July day in 1992, one of the women who worked the front desk at the Sulphur Springs newspaper came to my desk. She said, “Bob, could you help this woman? She wants to look up old newspapers, but she doesn’t know how to use the microfilm machine.”

The woman she referenced was black and in her mid-twenties, about five-four.

“Sure,” I said. I stood and said, “Right this way.” At the machine I asked which edition she was looking for.

“Early July, 1967,” the woman said.

I got that reel from a drawer and loaded it onto the microfilm reader. I showed the woman how to advance and reverse the film, how to adjust focus and how to move the lens image on a specific page. I said I would be at my desk if she needed any assistance. I went back to my desk and resumed work on a story for the next day’s edition.

A few minutes later, the woman walked to my desk. She seemed a bit upset and confused at something. She said, “Could you show me how to print a page?”

“Of course,” I said.

When she and I reached the machine, she pointed and said, “That story is about me.”

I looked and saw the headline:

Negro infant
found in box

If ever a headline said "Read Me!" that was the one.

The story was three paragraphs, one column, on Page One, dated in early July 1967 – 25 years before. A Hopkins County Sheriff’s deputy the afternoon before reported he was on patrol on a county road, and he saw a cardboard whiskey case between the ditch and a barbed wire fence. The county is dry, so the deputy stopped to investigate. He approached the box and he looked in.

The deputy saw “a Negro infant,” obviously not more than a few days old. The deputy put the box and the baby in his patrol car and drove as fast as he could to the local hospital.

Then story said the infant was in good health, suffering only from dehydration and insect bites.

I looked up from reading. The woman said, “That’s me. I was the baby in the box.”

I went to the next day’s edition. Another short, Page One story reported the Negro infant found in a box was doing well. And then there was the example of how Texas people are: Around 40 families, equally divided black and white, had contacted the hospital, saying, “We want that baby. We will raise the baby.”

Within a few days, the baby was placed into the care of a prominent black family and adopted by the family after a short period of time.

The woman said, “I always wondered why I was adopted.” She said relatives sometimes commented, but never explained, at family reunions. “Oh, you are the adopted girl,” or, “You’re the girl found in a box.”

Her adoptive mother, she said, only commented, “You are our daughter.”

She looked distraught. She had only then learned where she came from – an empty whiskey box on the side of a county road.

I said, “You could use a hug, but we can’t do that sort of thing.”

She smiled and said, “My mother will have a hug for me when I get home.”

I printed all the small stories on the Negro infant found in box. I handed the copies to her, and I said, “I want to write this story.”

She said, “I don’t know. My mother will decide.” She said I should call her mother later that day.

Of course I called. I explained to the mother I wanted to write her daughter’s story. The mother said, “What good would it do?”

Several reasons ran through my mind. Because it’s a good story. Because people want to know. Because … Because I am a very good writer and I can give the story the words it deserves.

But … I realized the family had its own reasons for privacy, and I would be interfering.

“Yes, Ma’am,” I said to the mother. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome,” she said.

It’s good I didn’t go, because I don’t know what it means

“BlerDCon will be the first of its kind to host and traditional structure of panels, guests, workshops, gaming, cosplay, and music showcasing diversity across all genres!

"June 30th-July 2nd 2017
@The Hyatt Crystal City
In Alexandria, VA"

Comments at the link show nothing is free from the ultra-offended.

“whaddup dutch thread I've got a question considering the 'can i cosplay a racist character?' subject, is this defended when done by the folks who see nothing wrong with the sinterklaas character?

“First off, that question was about cosplaying a character who's racist in the source material, which completely different from dressing up as a racist caricature.

"Secondly, there's nothing wrong with Sinterklaas (Saint Nicholas), it's Black Pete who has been the center of discussion for the past +5 years. According to the lore he is black from soot from going down and up chimneys to deliver presents to children, wears golden ear rings and has red lips (as in the upper picture). Some groups find this a racist caricature of a negro slave, especially as his "boss" is a white man. The media, craving for attention, picked up on this and turned it into a spectacle between two fronts: those in favour of changing him because "muh racism" and those against changing him because "muh tradition". Meanwhile the rational people have already decided to compromise by removing the red lips and ear rings and are currently phasing the traditional Black Pete completely for a modernized version which still fits the lore (bottom picture). However for some this isn't enough (and to those I say fuck off) while for others this is the end of the world (to whom I also say fuck off). It's a nice solution that gets rid of the offensive part, keeps the lore intact and most importantly, it doesn't confuse the kids for who this entire holiday is meant for in the first place. Now if only we could get rid of Stroopwafel Pete, Cheese Pete and Rainbow Pete..."

“Does 'blacking up' for cosplay get overlooked because of that?

"Honestly, I can't really say I've ever seen anyone 'blacking up' for anything that wasn't Black Pete and I doubt it's accepted.”

I still don’t understand, which, of course, means I live in a different world. And that's okay.

Here is a link to the poster:

Saturday, August 19, 2017

1,500-year-old, 54,000-square-foot Sicilian villa

The Durreueli remains “were first discovered in the early 1900s during railroad construction. They weren’t professionally excavated until 1979 when a team of Japanese archaeologists explored the site for six years. They unearthed important parts of the villa, including its baths and exceptional mosaics dedicated to the deities of the sea the structure so dramatically overlooks, but nowhere near the wide range of dates that the current excavation has encountered.”

Friday, August 18, 2017

The monkey invoked his Fifth Amendment rights

“A stuffed monkey hanging from an overhead utility line in an apartment complex near Bowman Field has sparked racial concerns and reports to a Louisville Metro Council member.

“The incident was reported to Councilman Brandon Coan, D-8th District, who initially called it a ‘disgusting display of hatred, bigotry and racism.’

“But later, after visiting the apartment complex and speaking with at least three residents, Coan said it's possible the whole thing was a misunderstanding.”

Link at

Thursday, August 17, 2017

If you drive your car …

Oops. Not allowed today in Ashgabat, capital of Turkmenistan.

To press for physical fitness ahead of the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games, President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov changed traffic laws.

“From 7 am to 7 pm, only public transport – including taxis and emergency vehicles – will be permitted to circulate around the city. Anybody unable to cram into the packed buses or pay for a taxi will be free to cycle, as Berdymukhamedov has advised, in temperatures of around 40 degrees Celsius (105 degrees Fahrenheit). Those who do not own a bicycle – which is most people – will just have to walk.”

More stuff to ban and/or tear down

All statues of Gen. Phil Sheridan -- "The only good Indian is a dead Indian."

All statues of Gen. W.T Sherman -- "Nits make lice," on killing Indian children.

All flags of the states that seceded from the union.

Any mention of "Confederate States of America" or "the Confederacy."

Break up the Choctaw, Cherokee, Chickasaw, Muskogee Creek and Seminole tribal nations. The nations owned slaves and backed the Confederacy 1861-65.

More to come.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Just about ready to give up

I'm coming closer to not reading any more news stories. The stupids are on the verge of winning. Not that the majority of Americans agree with the stupids, but idiocy gets news coverage. Giving up is not the problem it might seem. I am working on at least five stories about transfer to other worlds or times, worlds like Earth, but not altogether the same. There are pretty women with guns, good guys and not good guys, army trucks and pickups. Main characters fight Nazis and Red Commie hordes, as well as alien invaders. The worlds are mine, and I am welcome to them. Lock and load, Galina. Today is a good day for a fight.