Excursion 63, Part 3 (The Mud Rakers)

We all have heard the term “muckraker” and to most of us it conjures up journalistic images—perhaps writers like Upton Sinclair or Ida Tarbell who engaged in early investigative journalism.  Many people credit Theodore Roosevelt for popularizing the term and the term itself to a reference from John Bunyon’s 17th-century novel The Pilgrim’s Progress.  Of course, Bunyon did not use it to refer to journalists.  It was an agricultural term—as was the closely related “mud rakers”—and it referred to people who literally raked the mud, i.e., who tilled wet soil growing produce.  It only came to have a (pejorative) association with journalism in the early 1800s in Great Britain. And even then it was still being used, in the United States as well as in Great Britain, in its agricultural sense.  And that brings us to Ohio…

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Excursion 63, Part 2 (The Camouflage Café and Other Stories)

When I was in the 6th and 7th grades, I took karate lessons and one day, for no particular reason that I can think of, my karate instructor told me the following joke: Once there was a rabbit who grew up with a buzzard and a turtle as friends. One day, they got together and decided they would start a farm. Each would have certain responsibilities, they decided. The buzzard would be responsible for plowing the fields, the turtle would dig a well for water and the rabbit would get the seeds and the fertilizer.  The rabbit left and the other two animals began to work on the farm—and it wasn’t long before they struck oil. By the time the rabbit got back, many weeks later, laboriously pushing a huge cart overloaded with cow manure for the farm, the turtle and the buzzard had constructed a huge mansion. Confused, the rabbit knocked on the door and a penguin dressed as a butler answered the door. “Umm, is Buzzard here?” asked the rabbit.  The penguin butler replied, in a haughty voice, “Mr. Buz-ZARD is out in the yard.” “Well, uh, is Turtle here?” inquired the rabbit.  The butler said, in the same tone, “Mr. Tur-TELL is out at the well.”  Angered, the rabbit threw his hat down and said to the penguin, “Well, you go tell Mr. Buz-ZARD and Mr. Tur-TELL that Mr. Rab-BIT is here with the SHIT!” Continue reading

Excursion 63, Part 1 (The Legions of the Dead)

I’ve given passing thoughts, from time to time, as to what I’d like done with my body once I die. While parts of me—the egotistical and historian parts of me, mostly—would like a burial and headstone, ideally with a pithy comment from me on it, the plain fact is that no one would ever see it or care. So basically, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’d like my body disposed of by whatever means is the cheapest and most convenient, whatever that is. Society in general disagrees, with the results that people like me have fascinating cemeteries to examine from time to time.

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