Category Archives: History

Urban Legend

Today in 565 AD, St, Columba reported seeing the Loch Ness Monster.  I wonder how he would feel if he knew people were still talking about Nessie today.

Around Luverne, legend has it that Jesse James jumped his horse across a ridiculously wide gap at the Devil’s Gulch in Garretson, SD, running away from Northfield and the disastrous raid there.  I have seen the gap and I seriously doubt a horse could jump it, but what do I know? Luvernites also believe that a tornado will never strike the town because of some special characteristics of the Blue Mounds formations to the north of the city. Maybe. Maybe, though, we have just been lucky.

Any legends from where you have lived or where you grew up? What is your favorite urban legend?

 

What About Cousins?

I live pretty equidistant from about three Indian reservations in three different states.  I sometimes see tribal members  at my community mental health agency.  Part of doing my work is getting a good family history.  I have noticed, over 30 years of practice,  distinct differences in how tribal members and everyone who is not a tribal member describes family relationships.  For my tribal clients, there are any number of aunties, uncles,  sisters, and brothers who are important in their lives. They  just don’t match how I, in my eurocentric  orientation, define family.

A good friend of our, a person who is an Arikara Indian,  one of the Three Affiliated Tribes from the Fort Berthold Reservation where Husband works,  posted on Facebook recently a way to navigate these family relationships.

This apparently comes from some sort of Mandan, Arikara, and Hidatsa tribal handbook. Here is how you navigate relationships. for boys. Girls are pretty much the same.

Who is my mother?

  1. My birth mother.
  2. .My mother’s sister
  3. My father’s brother’s wife
  4. My clan father’s wives (My father’s clan brothers)

Who is my father? 

  1. My birth father
  2. My father’s brothers
  3. My sister’s husband
  4. My father’s mother’s brother
  5. My clan fathers (My father’s clan brothers)
  6. My father’s sister’s son

Who is my sister?

  1. My blood sister
  2. My father’s brother’s daughter
  3. My sister’s daughters
  4. My female clan members (My mother’s clan)
  5. Female children of my father’s clan
  6. My mother’s sister’s daughter

Who is my brother?

  1. My blood brothers
  2. My father’s brother’s sons
  3. My sister’s son’s
  4. My mother’s sisters’ sons
  5. My clan male mothers
  6. Male children of my fathers’ clan
  7. My mother’s brother
  8. My mother’s mother’s brother

Who is my auntie?

  1. My father’s sisters
  2.  My father’s sister’s daughter-each generation
  3. My clan aunts (My father’s clan sisters)

Who is my grandmother?

  1. My mother’s mother
  2. My mother’s mother’s sister (Grandmother’s sister)
  3. My father’s mother
  4. My father’s mother’s sister
  5. My mother’s father’s sister-each generation

I notice that great uncles, great aunts, and cousins are defined differently here.  I also find that if I use this to define my family relationships, I have a lot more siblings, parents, and aunts and uncles. That is kind of comforting.

How do you define family? How would your definition change given the above information? 

 

Hypnagogia

Today’s post comes from Barbara in Rivertown

Have you ever been waking up in the morning and hear the phone ring, then become fully awake and realize you just imagined it? If so, you may have experienced an auditory hypnagogic hallucination.

In August of 2015, Dr. Laurence Knott of the UK wrote:  https://patient.info/doctor/hypnagogic-hallucinations “Hypnagogic or hypnopompic hallucinations are visual, tactile, auditory, or other sensory events, usually brief but occasionally prolonged, that occur at the transition from wakefulness to sleep (hypnagogic) or from sleep to wakefulness (hypnopompic). The phenomenon is thought to have been first described by the Dutch physician Isbrand Van Diemerbroeck in 1664.[1] The person may hear sounds that are not there and see visual hallucinations. These visual and auditory images are very vivid and may be bizarre or disturbing.”

And Wikipedia describe it this way: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypnagogia   “Hypnagogia is the experience of the transitional state from wakefulness to sleep in humans: the hypnagogic state of consciousness, during the onset of sleep. Mental phenomena that occur during this “threshold consciousness” phase include lucid thought, lucid dreaming, hallucinations, and sleep paralysis.” As you can see, there are several other “conditions” mentioned, that I don’t have the time to explore here.

I love what is sometimes called the “twilight time” as I drift off to sleep, and frequently have little vignettes play out before my (closed) eyes. I have heard seemingly original strains of music that I wish I could write down and remember later. Rather than thinking of it as a medical condition to be “treated”, I often wish they would last longer.

Do you experience any sort of hallucinations upon waking or falling asleep? Or do you have any elaborate daydreams?

 

Ben’s Rampage

I was sad to read in the Rock County Star Herald, a weekly paper from my home town to which I subscribe, that the Hills Crescent newspaper is ceasing publication. Hills is a small town southwest of Luverne, and the Star Herald, which owns the Crescent, decided to close it down. They promise that Hills and Beaver Creek news and issues will be covered in the Star Herald.

The Crescent was in publication for 126 years. It was started in 1893 and had 200 subscribers when it started. The first press they used was a Rampage brand press that had been previously owned by Ben Franklin! It was the oldest press machine in the US at the time. I think that is so cool! It only printed one page at a time. I have no idea where it got its name. It doesn’t sound like it rampaged at that pace.

Our current town newspaper only publishes Tuesday through Saturday.  It is delivered by the Post Office, so we sometimes don’t get the paper until late in the afternoon. Were it not for the local court news and the comics, we probably wouldn’t subscribe. I envy people who live somewhere they can get a real paper every day.

What are your favorite and least favorite newspapers?

Questions and Answers

Because I have control issues, and because I am a better driver, and because Husband doesn’t like to drive our van, I do almost all the driving.  He says he doesn’t mind being a perpetual passenger.

Living out here means we have to drive long distances to get to places. There is something restful about driving miles and miles in a remote area. I can relax and clear my head. It also gives me and Husband time to have good conversations.  I am fortunate that Husband likes to do research, because when my mind is not focused on work or duties at home, I start wondering about things I see when we travel and ask Husband what the answers might be.   I should also add that when I pose questions, he won’t stop researching until he has an answer. I wonder about the music we listen to (What is the story behind Faure’s Pelleas and Melisande, and how many requiems did Faure write?”), or the terrain we are passing through, or any number of stray topics.

This trip, I somehow started thinking about General Custer, and what routes he took through ND and SD on his first Black Hills expedition. We were driving in the vicinity when we traveled to Denver, so Husband dutifully looked up the route on his phone. Then I started to wonder, “What route did he take to the Little Bighorn”?, since he left from Mandan where he was the commander of Fort Lincoln. Did he go straight west, or did he follow the river boat that took his supplies from Mandan up the Missouri to what is now Williston, ND, where the boat turned south on the Yellowstone River to get close to the Big Horn River. Husband looked that up, too. Custer probably traveled right through our town on his way to Montana. and met up with the boat after it got to the Big Horn.   This led to a lot of discussion on the use of flat bottomed river boats on the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers and the part they played in transporting cannons and equipment.

The only problem with researching while we drive through remote areas is the spotty phone service, but when you have hundreds of miles to travel, there is no rush to find answers, and every so often there is a cell phone tower.

What questions have you had lately? What would you like to research? How do you pass the time on long drives?

Forgive Me, Harry

Today’s post comes to us from our own Minnesota Steve.

Harry Truman and I had a short conversation in October of 1963. Truman was then 79, retired and living in Independence, Missouri. He was flown to Grinnell College to make a few appearances. Truman showed up at the class I was taking on American Constitutional History. He spoke briefly, then asked if any of us had questions.

I did. Although I used to suffer panic attacks when asking a girl for a date, I felt oddly calm as I queried the former president. “The bomb we dropped on Hiroshima demonstrated the awesome lethality of atomic weapons. I wonder why the second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. Couldn’t we, instead, have just obliterated an uninhabited atoll? Wouldn’t that have made the point we were trying to make?”

I wasn’t trying to be a smartass, but Truman thought I was. He shouted a bewildering collection of disconnected phrases. I heard “saved half a million American lives,” but the rest wasn’t clear. Truman was pissed off, and he didn’t hide that. Mercifully–for both of us–the bell rang to signal the end of the class. Truman exited the classroom still roaring at me.

I’ve occasionally told the story of that meeting, offering it as an example of how communication can fail. I was not proud of having caused Truman distress. But neither was I ashamed of my question. I meant well. It wasn’t my fault that the man from Missouri misunderstood me.

And yet I now do feel I was at fault. My question was sure to strike him as impudent, for I totally failed to recognize how often he had been criticized for using atomic weaponry. I failed to consider context.

The decision to drop atomic bombs on Japan was made in the context of the most difficult war this country had ever experienced. For several desperate years, the outcome of that war was in doubt. Even when it was clear the United States would prevail, informed observers calculated that defeating Japan would incur terrible loss of American and Japanese lives. Experts predicted that the invasion of the Japanese homeland would be one of the bloodiest events in world history.

The decision to create the bomb had been made in fear and desperation. Truman’s deployment of the bomb was based in part on the hope that using a devastating new weapon might save lives by showing Japan that continued fighting was futile. Plus, I wonder if he ever grasped the shocking destructiveness of the new weapon.

The world was entirely different when I stood to ask my question of the retired president. By 1962, World War II was a distant memory, a war which the US had won. It was common knowledge in the 1960s that the Soviet Union and the United States would destroy each other and much of the civilized world if Cold War tensions triggered the deployment of atomic bombs. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, just a year before Truman visited my class, the world narrowly avoided a nuclear holocaust.

Truman and I experienced a clash of contexts. He was used to people damning him for using the bomb. Of course, he regarded my question as another insulting attack. How could he not? I was working from an ethical context. That was only possible because I had the luxury of viewing Truman’s decision as an ethical issue that only arose after the great conflict had been resolved. When I spoke up, the fear of losing the war was gone, replaced by fear of the bomb itself.

I’m sorry for the misunderstanding, Harry. You were a good man and a good president. I should have said so the one time we spoke. Please forgive me.

When have you regretted a failure of communications?

Is it fair to judge earlier leaders who made decisions that look wrong in light of modern realities and evolved values?

Getting Dumb and Dumber?

Photo Credit: Getty Images

According to an article I found on BBC.com, it looks like our IQs are starting to recede, or at least not continue upwards as they have been doing.

Intelligence tests (IQ tests) were invented a little more than a century ago and since that time, our scores have been increasing at a steady rate. According to studies “even the average person today would have been considered a genius compared to someone born in 1919”.  (Unless you’re comparing yourself to Albert Einstein (born 1879), then all bets are off.)  This steady increase in IQ is known as the Flynn Effect.

But now scientists have uncovered evidence that this trend may be slowing down and perhaps even reversing. Does this mean we’ve peaked as a species?

Of course the cause of the Flynn Effect has never been agreed upon by the scientific community; most seem to think that multiple environmental factors are involved (increased health, increased food availability, increased access to education, removing lead from gasoline), but nobody really knows for sure. It’s my guess that if there is a decline of our collective IQ on the horizon, no one will understand that either.

Who is the smartest person you know? Or what smart person would you LIKE to know?