Wednesday, December 9, 2009

William Cooke in court over meat theft

Lincoln man in court over meat theft: "William Cooke, 21, of Laurel Close, Lincoln, was caught snatching about £72 of goods from a Tesco store in Lincoln.

Lincoln Magistrates' Court heard Cooke carried out the shoplifting spree at 7.04am on November 29.

District Judge Richard Blake told the court it was very likely Cooke had been swiping the goods to find cash for his drugs habit."

I was just hungry.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Maryland Witch Trials

I recently wrote a book about the Salem witch trials called Justice at Salem, but it is worth noting that there were witch trials that happened outside of New England.
A few people from Maryland were accused.

William Thomas Russell, in his 1907 book, Maryland; the land of sanctuary: A history of religious toleration in Maryland from the first settlement until the American revolution wrote:

It was during the Puritan regime [anti-Puritan bias was especially strong among writers in the early 20th century, which explains these remarks. The Puritans were not any more likely than any other religious group at the time to persecute alleged witches] that we first hear of witches in Maryland. While no death penalties were ever inflicted [he is incorrect again, see below] on those unfortunate suspects in the Land of Sanctuary, some few instances are on record to remind us that there were not wanting in the Province those whose dispositions were modeled after Puritan forms. In 1654, at sea, on the ship " Charity " about a fortnight before its arrival in Maryland, it became rumored among the seamen that a woman aboard named Mary Lee was a witch, ' the sailors confidently affirming the same upon her own deportment and discourse, and importuning the master that a trial might be had of her, which the master refused ' . . . Finally the sailors apprehended her without an order, and, without the consent of the ship's captain, the men hanged the woman.1

Father Francis Fitzherbert [I doubt that a Jesuit priest would have been on a ship with Puritans. The murderers were likely not Puritans] travelling as an unknown layman, was a passenger on this ship when Mary Lee was hanged by the sailors. In the Jesuit Letter of 1654 the following allusion to this occurrence is made. "The tempest lasted, in all, two months, whence the opinion arose, that it was not on account of the violence of the ship or atmosphere, but was occasioned by the malevolence of witches. Forthwith they seize a little old woman suspected of sorcery; and after examining her with the strictest scrutiny, guilty or not guilty, they slay her, suspected of this very heinous sin. The corpse and whatever belonged to her they cast into the sea." 1 Needless to say, at such a time, it would have been worse than useless for the priest to have made any interference.

In 1674, John Cowman was ' arraigned, convicted and condemned ' for ' witchcraft, conjuration, sorcery and enchantment used upon the body of Elizabeth Goodale. He was reprieved by the Governor at the intercession of the Lower House, carried to the gallows, the rope put about his neck, it there being made known to him how much he is beholding to the Lower House for interceding in his behalf. Afterwards he was to be employed in such service as the governor should see fit.'

There was still another case similar to the one mentioned above, in which John Washington, greatgrandfather of George Washington, lodges a complaint against one Edward Prescott for the hanging of Elizabeth Richardson for witchcraft on his ship. 1 But it must be remembered that neither of these executions took place upon Maryland soil, and in both were the proceedings condemned by the authorities.
Russell concluded his remarks by writing, "As far as known, these three cases include the whole story of Maryland's part in witchcraft." But others were charged and at least one person was executed for witchcraft in Maryland.

Rebecca Fowler from Calvert County was charged with witchcraft and after a trial in 1685, she was hanged.

Another alleged witch from 17th century Maryland, Moll Dyer was chased out of her village in St. Mary's County after she was accused. Another alleged witch from St. Mary's, Elizabeth Bennett, was cleared by her fellow citizens.

Hannah Edwards of Calvert County was acquitted of witchcraft in 1686. Amazingly, it is reported that Maryland's last witchcraft trial took place in Annapolis in 1712, when a woman from Talbot County named Virtue Violl was acquitted of witchcraft charges.

Of course, while Maryland does not have an overly bloody history of witch prosecutions, its history is hardly perfect. Blacks were treated horribly and although Maryland was more tolerant than other colonies, religious dissenters were also sometimes persecuted.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Justice at Salem: Reexamining the Witch Trials

Justice at Salem: Reexamining the Witch Trials

I haven't been blogging in recent days because I have been busy updating the website for my new book, Justice at Salem.
More on this later.
You can buy a copy directly from Amazon.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Steamtown Marathon; Ranked as one of the Fastest Marathons in the Northeast

The Steamtown Marathon; Ranked as one of the Fastest Marathons in the Northeast

After months of training, I ran my first marathon this past weekend in north eastern PA. The Steamtown Marathon began in Forest City and ended in Scranton. It boasted of a 955' net elevation drop, which makes it a perfect starter marathon.

I have to say that I could not have been happier with the race. It was reasonably priced and well planned. In the weeks and months prior to the race I received regular updates and tips from the race organizers. It was obvious that they were putting a lot of time and thought into this.

Arriving in Scranton with my friends on the morning of the race (we were coming from our hotel in nearby Wilkes Barre), we easily boarded buses which took us to Forest City. We ended our bus trip at the local high school and were greeted by enthusiastic students and other well wishers who made us feel at home. There were enough portable toilets to use and on the inside of the school people could leave their belongings in a marked plastic bag that would be transported to the end of the race. I had no need for this service this time, but it was nice to know that it was available.

At the start of the race there were pace groups that could be joined. I, optimistically, got into the 9 minute per mile pace group with my friends. The race was started on time with a cannon blast. They had Civil War reenactors there to set off the cannon. Despite the fact that we were well above the Mason-Dixon line, for some reason the reenactors were Confederate. It didn't bother me. I think it is a shame that both sides could not have lost in that war (The governments of both sides were so oppressive that neither one was worth killing over to save.)

As you would expect, the traffic was very heavy at the start of the race. They gave us all RFID chips to put on our shoes and our individual times would start once we passed over a rubber mat. There was also a mat somewhere past the middle of the course (perhaps to make sure that no one cheated) and there was the final mat at the end to get an accurate time.

Forest City was a nice little town. It seemed to have a lot of churches. I noticed two Catholic churches, within yards of each other. According to Wikipedia, they once had five Catholic Churches, which was due to the fact that they had different ethnic groups (Polish, Irish, Lithuanian, Slovakian, and Slovenian) and apparently the idea of saving money by worshiping together was out of the question. I then noticed a tobacco shop and then within yards of that, another tobacco shop. I guess the various Slavs don't like to buy tobacco from the same store either.

All the people in the little towns were very friendly. We didn't run though a town where there weren't people out to greet us. Many stood on the side, waved, offered encouraging words, and otherwise wished us well. Some of the small towns brought out their local brass bands to play music for us as we ran by. When you are doing a long race like this, these little gestures help out a great deal. It helps to keep you going.

There was also a good team spirit among the athletes, despite the fact that running is a very individualistic sport. Early on my little water bottle on my running belt fell out. The girl behind me quickly said something and a guy behind me very quickly picked it up and handed it to me as I passed. Also, everyone seemed happy to engage in conversation as we ran. When we hit the 6 mile mark, I dryly remarked, 'Great, just 20.2 miles to go.' 'Thanks, I needed that,' a woman just as dryly replied. I ran into a runner who had graduated from my high school. I didn't know him, but he was wearing a shirt from there. Also, I talked to a runner from a local running group, the 'Annapolis Striders' around mile 19 or so and we talked about different races.

Regarding the race itself, yes there were plenty of downhills, but that just made the flat areas and the uphills feel all the worse. There were also two big uphills near the end. I felt very good in the first ten miles and even after the half mark, I remember thinking 'only a half marathon to go.' It wasn't until somewhere between miles 17 and 20 that I started to feel bad. This is normally when most runners hit the wall. I don't think I really hit it, but I was certainly getting near it, and held off a bit. I stopped a bit more for quick walk breaks and drank more water. There were many water breaks along the way and that was certainly appreciated. Because they were a sponsor, the water was served in Royal Crown cups. Each time I stopped, I could hear Homer Simpson saying, “We can't even pay our bills, and they're drinking Royal Crown Cola!”

My legs were killing me and I felt very worn down past mile 22 or so, but managed to keep going. I found it helpful to break the race down into little parts. First, I tried to think of it as just 4 10ks and change. After the half, I tried to think of it as just a half marathon. After mile 20, then it was just a 10k. After mile 23, then it was just a little bit over a 5k.

Despite all of the pain, I was happy that I did it. I was even happy during it that I was doing it. I remember near the end passing through a neighborhood where everyone watching and cheering was drinking beer. At least one guy was smoking a cigar. But not for a second did I wish to change places with any of them. It is hard to explain, but I felt perfectly at peace with where I was and would not have traded it for anything. I even felt bad for those on the sidelines. They would not know what it was like to run the race. At a certain point, maybe I was delirious, I started to feel like I was part of the thousand year journey through heaven that was part of Plato's Republic and thinking about the end brought to mind this passage from the Republic, “and that those which arrived from time to time appeared to have come as it were from a long journey and gladly departed to the meadow and encamped there as at a festival, and acquaintances greeted one another . . .”

Running this distance certainly requires a lot of training. My longest run had been 22 miles before this. Most days I was just running 10ks. A positive attitude is also critical. The villagers and townspeople along the way certainly helped a great deal. I don't know if I could have finished it without them.

In the end, my time (according to the RFID chip, not the clock) was 4:51:39, with an average pace of 11:10 per mile. That was a little slower than I would have hoped, but not by much. After the race, I was oddly not very hungry. I had some food, but actually ate less than normal. I could only drink two bottles of beer. I spent the rest of the day at the hotel room alone; my running friends having made the decision to leave that day. Lying in the bed, I thought about what lessons could be drawn from a long distance race like this. I think this event speaks well of the ability of humans to organize together on a voluntary basis. I don't believe that the marathon is organized by any government and it relies on sponsors and runners to fund it. Local voluntary community groups, such as the Scouts and Lions helped out with water breaks the like. Most of the police stopping traffic were Fire Police and I suspect that most of them were volunteers. People in the communities seemed more than happy to have us and there were no problems with traffic or anything else. As noted above, all of the runners were friendly and helpful. No one cared about your politics, religion, race, etc. We all helped and encouraged each other. Most of us were running for ourselves. Some were running for others also. But we were considerate of each other and appreciated each other, not because we were forced to, but because we wanted to. Without a government or other forms of force or coercion, we all worked together to achieve something important, for ourselves and everyone else who took part. It was a great experience.

Life would be easier if it were all a marathon.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Pictures From Salem

Salem 2009

A long drive, but an important part of my research.
This week I have been focusing on government crimes - Point Lookout and Salem.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Point Lookout, St. Mary's County, MD

I spend my vacations visiting historic sites.
Here are pictures from the former POW camp in St. Mary's county.

Point Lookout July 21 2009

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Friday, June 12, 2009

Great Punjabi Song - Allah Hoo - سائیں ظہور

Sain Zahoor Ahmad, my favorite Pakistani folk singer. Your winner of "Best BBC voice of the year 2006" award.

Monday, May 25, 2009

MdTA police - Helping to Keep I-97 a Death Trap

MdTA police

Driving southbound around 10:30am on I-97 this morning I spotted two MD Transportation Authority police on motorcycles traveling at a high rate of speed.
No lights or sirens were on.
They were going well over 80 mph. I got up to 80mph in my car in order to pace them, but they were still able to get far ahead of me. I didn't think that it was safe to drive that fast so I slowed back down to 65mph. Tried to get a picture with my cell phone, but they were too far ahead of me by the time I got it out.

I don't criticism them just because I want to whine about everything that police officers do. But it pisses me off because these tax parasites are currently spending taxpayer money with their "click it or ticket" campaign. Also, if they need to make an unofficial quota, they'll be happy to pull you over for going half a mile over the speed limit.

The arrogance of these guys is stunning. They think that they are above the law. I've seen some of these goons driving so fast down 97 it is obvious that they think they are even above the laws of physics.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Md. Guard Issues Warning to Staff about Local TEA Party Protestors - Southern Maryland Headline News

Md. Guard Issues Warning to Staff about Local TEA Party Protestors - Southern Maryland Headline News: "CALLAWAY, Md. (April 15, 2009) - A document issued by the Maryland National Guard on April 9 warns full-time Guard personnel to be aware of threats from local citizens protesting income taxes during grass roots events known as TEA (Taxed Enough Already) Parties -- one of which was held on Solomons Island March 22."

It is amazing how peaceful dissent upsets them so much. I don't consider myself on the left or right. I oppose our governments. I oppose taxation. I believe in a government that is completely funded by user fees and voluntary contributions. I hope that one day there will be no need for a government. But I don't support using violence. Our Federal Government murders people who have done it no harm. Our governments are reckless with our lives. Violence is the tool of the State.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Former opera singer completes North Pole Marathon - Telegraph

Former opera singer completes North Pole Marathon - Telegraph: "Ted Jackson, 36, completed the race in nine and a half hours, finishing 26th out of 38 runners."

After reading the other day that the death count is higher in triathlons than marathons, I remarked that people who just run marathons are pussies. However, that insult does not apply to the people who participated in this marathon.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Md. lawmakers stung by state song -

Md. lawmakers stung by state song - "ANNAPOLIS, Md. - 'Maryland, My Maryland,' the state song which 'spurns the Northern scum,' stings the legislators, too, even if some don't know the words.

'Actually, I really have never paid a lot of attention to the words,' said Delegate Pamela Beidle, D-Anne Arundel, who introduced a bill in the House to change the lyrics of the state song to pay tribute to Maryland rather than express 'Confederate sympathies.'"

It is a fine song and we shouldn't allow these people to change it.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Sailing Alone Around the World

In 1895, Captain Joshua Slocum left Boston to sail around the world alone. At one point he landed in the Cocos Islands where the majority of the people are Sunni Muslims. He wrote about how ship was stuck in the sand. Apparently a big crab was holding onto the boat. Slocum wrote:

This being so or not, it was decided that the Mohammedan priest, Sama the Emim, for a pot of jam, should ask Mohammed to bless the voyage and make the crab let go the sloop's keel, which it did, if it had hold, and she floated on the very next tide.

At another point he landed on a Catholic island and was the guest of a priest. Slocum wrote:

The good abbe of San Gabriel entertained us all royally at the convent, and we remained his guests until the following day. As I was leaving his place, the abbe said, "Captain, I embrace you, and of whatever religion you may be, my wish is that you succeed in making your voyage, and that our Saviour the Christ be always with you!" To this good man's words I could only say, "My dear abbe, had all religionists been so liberal there would have been less bloodshed in the world."

He did run into some Christian idiots in South Africa who still wanted to argue that the earth was flat:

It sounds odd to hear scholars and statesmen say the world is flat; but it is a fact that three Boers favored by the opinion of President Kruger prepared a work to support that contention. While I was at Durban they came from Pretoria to obtain data from me, and they seemed annoyed when I told them that they could not prove it by my experience. With the advice to call up some ghost of the dark ages for research, I went ashore, and left these three wise men poring over the _Spray's_ track on a chart of the world, which, however, proved nothing to them, for it was on Mercator's projection, and behold, it was "flat." The next morning I met one of the party in a clergyman's garb, carrying a large Bible, not different from the one I had read. He tackled me, saying, "If you respect the Word of God, you must admit that the world is flat." "If the Word of God stands on a flat world--" I began. "What!" cried he, losing himself in a passion, and making as if he would run me through with an assagai. "What!" he shouted in astonishment and rage, while I jumped aside to dodge the imaginary weapon. Had this good but misguided fanatic been armed with a real weapon, the crew of the _Spray_ would have died a martyr there and then.

I find all of this interesting because over 100 years later you still have good religious people and you still have extremists and idiots. And not only are we not any better today, we are actually far worse off as it seems that things are even more stirred up. Many people in the West claim that Islam is evil, while ignoring its best traditions, while many also actively support the worst elements of Christianity and Judaism.

Certainly, one cannot look at the Sufis in Islam and say that somehow they are evil. The Neturei Karta movement in Judaism is opposed to the use of human force to establish a Jewish State and believes in fair treatment for all people. I mention these groups, because it seems that with all of the fanatics out there people might get the impression that religion itself is evil. Like anything it can be abused. But it is not as though atheists, such as Stalin or Mao, have done anything for humanity. Any philosophy, whether religious or anti-religious, can be used for evil ends.