December 02, 2009

Hanging day

John Brown keeps showing up on this blog from time to time, but today he's here for a reason. This date marks the 150th anniversary of his execution in Charles Town, back when it was still part of Virginia.

Brown was a real Captain Ahab whose white whale was slavery. His monomania, to use a favorite 19th century term for an abnormal fixity of purpose, matched that of Melville's character. And unlike the captain of the Pequod whose quarry escaped, Brown was ultimately if posthumously successful.

As he was leaving the jail for his execution, he handed this message on a to an attendant:

I John Brown am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty, land: will never be purged away; but with Blood. I had as I now think: vainly flattered myself that without very much bloodshed; it might be done.

It is also said that as he sat on what would be his coffin on the wagon ride to the gallows he looked around at the scenery, saying "This is a beautiful country. I never had the pleasure of seeing it before."

NOT GOOD. This item from The New England Journal of Medicine looks at the consequences of failure to pass health care reform.

CHAMBER OF WHATEVER. WVU-Tech professor and Gazette columnist John David takes the WV Chamber of Commerce to task for urging senators to hold health care legislation hostage over coal mining regulation.

GETTING WARMER. This Reuters article looks at WV's role in making or breaking climate change legislation in the US Senate.

LONELINESS CAN BE BAD FOR YOUR HEALTH and it might be contagious.

HOW'S YOUR INNER CHIMP? Bill Moyers talks with primate researcher Jane Goodall here.

OLD EUROPE. Here's a look at a lost civilization that thrived in the Balkans around 5,000 years ago.

ACTION ITEM. If you are in the Charleston area Thursday and want to publicly oppose military escalation in Afghanistan, WV Patriots for Peace is sponsoring a vigil from 5:15pm - 6:15pm at Brawley Walkway (across from Chili's on Court St).


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