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Category Archives: Religion

Idaho Avalanche, June 20, 1885. Does news get more general than this? I think it does not. Concerning that last item: Harassing the Salvation Army was once something of a national pastime, as the outfit was well-known in its early years to be an obnoxious and fanatical cult. Local law enforcement didn’t exactly knock themselves out to protect them. In fact, the Sally Anns also got into trouble with the law a lot, owing to their obnoxious and fanatical insistence that they didn’t need a municipal license or permit to preach and demonstrate in public. The case law that grew out of their legal troubles significantly helped broaden and strengthen the 1st Amendment. Also, their street bands were a significant influence on Tom Waits.
Placer mining is a hydraulic technique for separating gold from silt and soil—works sort of like mechanized panning. Often it was what you did with a claim once the big chunks had been removed with pick and shovel, and the yield was typically much lower. The Chinese specialized in these placer-mining clean-up operations, taking over claims that had been exhausted from the perspective of white miners. But then if a given claim turned out to be not so exhausted after all, they were prone to being displaced—it even happened in kinder, gentler Canada! They were well known to be an inferior and heathen race, so local law enforcement didn’t exactly knock themselves out to protect them.

The item about Senator Ransom signifies that he’s a bon vivant or a dandified sleazebag depending on the values you bring to the story.

Beats me what the English are doing with those $25 squirrels. In pairs.

Washington Post, August 17, 1929. Rehearsing for his act and doing a little advance publicity work too, I’ll warrant. If I’d been this guy’s counsel, I’d have thrown Leviticus 11:22 in the judge’s face: “Even these of them ye may eat; the locust after his kind, and the bald locust after his kind, and the beetle after his kind, and the grasshopper after his kind.”
I’ve been delving into the circus wild man theme lately on a account of I just finished reading William Lindsay Gresham’s Nightmare Alley, which I heartily recommend though not to the timid. Sixty-four years after publication, it’s still a seriously disturbing toilet-crawl. Makes Jim Thompson look like Beatrix Potter.

Columbus Inquirer, September 24, 1908. “Possessed of unlimited resources for the gratification of his pleasure”—hot dog! This is another item ripe for adaptation for a handlebar-mustache version of Law & Order. The episode would cold-open with an Italian balloon vendor stepping into the bushes to relieve himself and tripping over the murdered monsignor, natch. Read more.

Chicago Tribune, January 19, 1919. As we all know from Charles Bronson movies, shrinks and their natural allies, liberal judges, are soft on crime and that’s why the whole world has gone to hell in a gay, socialist, heroin-addicted handbasket. It wasn’t always thus, however: Here’s one tough-minded clinician who had the moral courage to advocate the wholesale execution of the violently insane. Okay, he wasn’t exactly advocating it so much as running it up the flagpole to see who saluted. Read more.

New York Times, June 16, 1858. Demented French brothers clad only in straw belts, dropping by in the wee small hours and claiming to have killed their sister: That does set the stage, doesn’t it? It would make a great cold open for an episode of Law & Order: Antebellum Michigan, “ripped from yesterday’s headlines.” Read more.

Philadelphia Inquirer, May 6, 1910. Further to the erotic adventures of Oom the Omnipotent. Read More »

I’m shooting for second Beard as a food blogger and PR trouble shooter.

Wheeling Register, July 3, 1883. The phrase “poisoning the well” still gets bandied about a lot, but only as a metaphor in discussions about rhetorical rules of engagement. But back before the days of socialized tap water, literal well-poisoning was a common crime. But the crime was nowhere near as common as charges of well-poisoning, because everybody who drank from a well was very conscious of its vulnerability to interference. That’s an unbeatable recipe for hysteria and moral panic, and in medieval Europe, Jews, witches, lepers and Muslims were all regarded as incorrigible well-poisoners–which helped keep life interesting for them. Read more.

Washington Post, January 22, 1906. Again we see this reflexive assumption that the attacker is crazy, despite the fact that there are any number of precedents for his claim in Scripture. Why, God rarely goes two pages in the Old Testament without putting out a hit on somebody, or ordering up a big-budget genocide for that matter. Read More »

Atlanta Constitution, January 31, 1907. “Undersized,” hey? Well, you never know who the Big Fella is gonna deputize to serve His mysterious ways. And someone was definitely looking out for Harry Howard when that angry mob came knocking. Shooting four guys and burning down the billiard hall would have been a pretty strong case for ol’ Judge Lynch in Wild West Virginia circa 1907.

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