I remember the spraying, one of those clear vignettes from childhood in otherwise jumbled memories. Fog-throwing machines mounted on the back of the white Civil Defense jeeps, acquired by Creek County, Oklahoma as military surplus. Spewing white clouds to the left and to the right, they would come late in the evening down the alley behind our house as the sun was going down and fireflies began their nightly signals.
Until there were no fireflies.
The clouds were DDT directed at mosquitoes. My grandmother would yell at the jeeps and wave her broom at them if it was handy. No one knew then what the DDT did to birds and while they told us not to purposely run though the fog they didn’t exactly tell us to keep a safe distance—just don’t bathe in it.
The alley was kind of an informal border between the white and non-white neighborhoods. It could be there was more information or better information a half a block away, but I doubt it. My grandmother’s outrage at the DDT was genuine, but her expressed concern was for the fireflies. And the honeybees.
I understood about the fireflies because they were beautiful and mysterious. Light with no heat. How did they do that? The bees…well, I would not want to do without honey but I had never seen a hive and did not understand the pollination process, so I just let grandma take up for the honeybees.
After the fireflies disappeared, the bees did, too. The pear tree in the back yard started being very stingy with fruit, but I didn’t catch on. I grew up, and in 1962 Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring, and brought the public relations wrath of the chemical industry down on herself. In due time, the science prevailed over the attacks on Carson and U.S. public policy grew up in time to save the bald eagle from extinction.
When colony collapse disorder reared up, the whole world understood the demise of bees as a crisis for human food production. The U.N. estimated $200 billion worth of human food depended on bees back in 2005.
I wondered if public policy had grown up when CNN reported this week that millions of honeybees are dead in Dorchester County, South Carolina after the county sprayed for mosquitoes in an attempt to stop the spread of the Zika virus. Collateral damage in the war on Zika.
The Environmental Protection Agency website advises, “…acute pesticide poisoning of a hive…is almost always avoidable.”
The beekeepers interviewed by CNN all believed the killing of the bees to be stupidity rather than malice. Maybe so. I just keep hearing my grandmother yelling at those jeeps.
My cousin Ray Sixkiller demanded that I put it in the column when MSN reminded us that September 3 is International Bacon Day. Cousin Ray is one of those guys who would eat bacon ice cream.
The report claimed bacon dates from 1500 B.C.E. but the first patent was for packaging, issued to Oscar Meyer in 1924. Cousin Ray was asking if putting bacon in a package was around the time “lipstick on a pig” became a catch phrase? I am not informed.
Fast Company carried a report asking the question, “What Will it Take for Apple Pay to Take Off in the U.S.?” Apple Pay is a system that allows you to bypass credit cards and pay by waving your iPhone or iWatch at a machine. There was a time I would have considered that goofy, but that was before I set up my coffee tab that way. It works real well before you are fully awake.
The report quoted Apple CEO Tim Cook as saying the two-year-old system has a user base “only” in the tens of millions. Only? In 2015, 256 million people in the U.S. were using plastic, 42 percent debit, 38 percent credit, and the rest preloaded cards of some kind.
Cousin Ray was looking sadly into his wallet. “There was a time,” he said with a sigh, “when having some cash in here was a good thing.”
Reporting on another cultural change underway, Great Big Story ran a short video calling attention to Alex Carozza, 88, who is about to retire as the only accordion repairman in New York City. I’m guessing the Big Apple is turning to synthetic accordion music and hoping the same never happens to zydeco or Tejano.
Reuters reported that the hacktivist collective Anonymous is trying to hack into ISIS connected Twitter accounts as quickly as Twitter is attempting to take them down.
Since the murders in Orlando, Anonymous has taken to posting Gay Pride messages and links to gay porn in ISIS cyberspace. Anonymous claims that some of the people working on the project are Muslims, which would make sense because ISIS kills more Muslims than Christians and Jews put together.
The Donald Trump undertook to school President Obama in how this diplomacy stuff is done. When Air Force One was flying to China for the G-20 Summit, the Chinese at first said they did not want Obama to bring his own stairs for getting off the airplane. Then they changed their mind and as a result Obama did not have his traveling stairs and the Chinese were not prepared with stairs having the proper accouterment—a red carpet.
President Trump would simply order Air Force One to take off and leave the Chinese diplomats standing on the tarmac. I could see by the way he was shaking his head that once more my Republican cousin was not going to defend The Donald. Sure enough, Ray snarked, “I’m sure he’d change his mind if somebody would explain to him what the G-20 is.”
Robert Kirby, representing curmudgeons in The Salt Lake Tribune suggested we should not vote for anyone “so rich they don’t regularly take out their own garbage.” He went on:
I have more in common with Mexicans sneaking into this country to provide better lives for their families than I do with a guy who wants to build a wall to keep them out.
Having disposed of Mr. Trump, he said of people who accumulate wealth after they get into politics “their heads belong on pikes in front of a dollar store.”
Media General did an analysis of a new genre of bovine excrement, Hillary Clinton health conspiracies. For those who don’t remember, this began back when she was summoned before one of the early Benghazi investigations and her appearance was delayed when she sustained a concussion in a fall.
The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy went into full cry, claiming that she faked a concussion to avoid testifying. When it turned out she did have a concussion, the narrative changed from claiming malingering to claiming she is at death’s door and is hiding it.
The latest Hillary health conspiracies are peddled by the presidential candidate who has produced nothing but a letter from a gastroenterologist opining that Donald Trump “will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency” produced in five minutes “while the car waited outside.”
The Media General report traced the allegations though the usual echo chambers: Drudge, World Net Daily, Heat Street, and Infowars. The Los Angeles Times put the frosting on the conspiracy cake with the report that Newt Gingrich was appearing on Sean Hannity’s show to offer his medical opinion when he was interrupted by a coughing fit mid-diagnosis.
That was not quite as bad as when Gingrich was heading up the mob with pitchforks and torches over Bill Clinton’s extramarital sex at the very time Gingrich was doing the same, but close enough to hear some cosmic justice in that untimely cough.
Justice on a less celestial level got underway in Oregon when Newsy reported that trials for the legal scholar militiamen who occupied the Malheur Wildlife Refuge for 41 days earlier this year are getting started.
The incident has already been immortalized in a video game in "cs wildrefuge" by Nipper, a free (and unofficial) map for "Counter-Strike: Global Offensive." The game is reportedly a bit more violent than the actual incident, which produced only one casualty.
The trial itself is shaping up to be one for the twilight zone between fiction and non. Defendant Ryan Bundy has requested a million dollars for playing himself in the trial.
Defendant Ammon Bundy apparently waived his appearance fee but his lawyer has gotten into the spirit by suggesting the feds were playing the villains in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, asking for “badges” for going armed when “I don’t have to show you any stinking badges.”
Newsy could not resist a rehash of Nevada Assemblywoman Michele Fiore, a supporter of the occupiers, when asked if the refuge should go back to the Indian tribes who originally lived on it rather than the ranchers?
“Oh, my my. OK,” Fiore replied. “Why don’t we just all go back to England in that case?”
Sounds like a plan to me.