The 99th day

What do you know? Earlier this week, with health care, tax reform, financing for the border wall and a possible government shutdown on this week’s agenda, I made a modest prediction:

I bravely predict that the only bit of it that might actually happen is the shutdown, and Trump might order something blown-up in order to change the subject.

The tax plan is a bullet-list on a half-sheet of paper, health care reform/repair/whatever has been shelved again, the wall has been put off till next year’s budget, Congress is debating a resolution to continue funding right now, and The Orange One is ominously warning of a “major, major conflict” with Pyongyang.

I am a very smart guy, but I can’t see into the future. All it takes is to see this bunch as they actually are: A pack of empty bumblers whose lives are cheap theater, lives all about seeming rather than know-how and doing.

I still marvel that Trump fooled so many people.

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When life imitates sarcasm

I’ve used the expression “Tabloid Nation” from time-to-time, as sarcasm, to draw attention to stories that reveal an unseemly regard for publicity without substance. Well, what do you know? It turns out that Matt Drudge is now a media consultant to The Orange One.

So far, Trump has led a White House gripped by paranoia and insecurity, paralyzed by internal jockeying for power. Mistrust between aides runs so deep that many now employ their own personal P.R. advisers — in part to ensure their own narratives get out. Trump himself has been deeply engaged with media figures, even huddling in the Oval Office with Matt Drudge.

H.L. Mencken was right.

As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.

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Uh-oh …

South Africa should expect to be struck with a serious natural disaster within the next week because it has arrested a Holy Man accused of raping women.

Following the arrest and detention of Pastor Tim Omotosho, a Nigerian pastor based in South Africa over allegations of sexual abuse, a member of his church, Jesus Dominion International, has declared that the country will face a calamitous disaster in seven days.

The church member who said that the South African police erred in arresting a man of God no matter what he did, have incurred the wrath of God and a devastating natural disaster awaits them within the next seven days if he not released.

The controversial Pastor Omotosho was arrested at the Port Elizabeth Airport after he was declared wanted by the police for allegedly abusing over 30 young female church members over a period of time.

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Theology-related deepity of the day


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The earliest Americans

I posted a few weeks ago about America’s earliest known miners, the aboriginals who dug copper from pits in the Keweenaw Peninsula about 5000 B.C. It’s one of those odd historical tidbits that gets stuck in my head and doesn’t go away until I’ve learned more.

The first thing to know is that the copper found in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is pure native metal, the same stuff from which pennies used to be made. As the magmatic fluids penetrated cracks in the surrounding rock, it cooled and the copper precipitated out. So there were seams of pure copper in the rock. The first miners heated the rocks until they cracked and the copper could be separated. Traces of those old works remain, and Carbon-14 dating makes it possible to know that the mines — hand-dug pits, actually — were active about 7000-years ago.

The picture below is native copper collected by me when I was at Michigan Tech, and sits on my desk. That’s a 3/16-inch grid.

But wait! There’s more! The Keweenaw Peninsula is the only place in North America where native silver has ever been found intimately entwined with native copper — and jewelry made of entwined silver and copper has been found by archaeologists in Central America. The plain implication is that those ancient miners had established far-reaching trade.

Seven-thousand years ago — more than 3000-years before Atrahasis, the first iteration of Genesis — there were mining and trade in North America.

Who were those people?

There is almost nothing known about them, and that only inferentially. We know, for instance, that they mined and traded, and so we can reasonably assume they had some sense of numbers and a rudimentary way of keeping accounts; we know nothing about that aboriginal math, however, or how they did record-keeping. That, in turn, suggests the use of perishable materials, perhaps marked birch bark? Nobody knows.

Whomever they were, the aboriginals on the southern side of Lake Superior were succeeded by the Ojibwa Indians, a branch of the Chippewa. Geography shapes culture, which in turn shapes religion, and the Ojibwa were a peaceful people, indulgent of children and generous-minded toward strangers. That makes sense, for the waters and woods are full of food, and there is no shortage of building materials. Whether or not the same thing might be said of the earlier miners is difficult to know; they probably tended to be jealous of their mineral wealth.

I’ve picked-up a few books about the Ojibwa during the past month, thinking there might be at least a cultural memory of the people they succeeded. Nope. Maybe they were gone by the time the Ojibwa arrived.

The thing that has most surprised me over the past few weeks of amateur anthropologizing is how little research has been done in this country about the first Americans. There is some academic literature, certainly, but it is sparse to begin with and there have been no sound popularizations of that research; what is available tends to be of the Princess Brighteyes’ Book of Shamanic Potions variety.

But thinking about these things has implications for other things. Where the land was generous and indulgent .. so, too, were the people. It cannot be a coincidence that the aboriginal people of the upper midwest were peaceful, but those of the much harsher American west were aggressive. Similarly, it cannot be a coincidence that the Abrahamic faiths, spawned in the bleakness of Mesopotamia, tend toward dog-eat-dog cruelty.

Our libraries groan with minute parsings of those cultures and religions and their imperialistic migrations to places they didn’t fit and introduced only misery — and are almost barren of information about those people who created a way of life fitted to here. Gore Vidal was right: Monotheism is the greatest disaster to ever befall humanity.

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