Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for May 20th, 2021

There were horses in Native culture before the settlers came

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I was taught that Native Americans had no horses, and that the introduction of horses destroyed the existing social structure of the Plains tribes by introducing a new component to their society. Apparently, not so. Lyla June Johnson writes in Indian Country Today:

Yvette Running Horse Collin’s recent dissertation may have rewritten every natural history book on the shelf. A Lakota/Nakota/Cheyenne scholar, Collin worked within the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Indigenous Studies program to synthesize fossil evidence, historical documents and oral history to present a compelling new story of the horse in the Americas.

The horse was here well before the settlers.

“We have calmly known we’ve always had the horse, way before the settlers came. The Spanish never came through our area, so there’s no way they could have introduced them to us,” reads one quote from a Blackfoot (Nitsitapi) study participant in Collin’s doctoral study.

Columbus didn’t introduce them

The original theory accepted by the Western World was that there were no horses in the Americas prior to Columbus’ arrival in 1492. The Western World concluded that all horses of Native American peoples were, therefore, descendants of horses brought from overseas.

This theory was forced to change, however, after paleontology pioneer Joseph Leidy discovered horse skeletons embedded in American soil in the 1830s. They were dated to be the oldest of any found in the world. According to Collin’s dissertation, the American scientific community was outraged and questioned his findings. Ultimately, they were forced to accept the evidence he provided.

At this point, the narrative shifted to say that horses originated in the Americas, but were later completely extinguished due to the last Ice Age period (roughly 13,000 to 11,000 years ago). Thus, the Spanish were still believed at that time to have “reintroduced” the horse to the Americas in the late 1400s.

Collins’ work disproves Spanish introduction of the horse to Native people

But on account of Collin’s work, the theory is being beckoned to change once again to say that Native Americans always had a sustained relationship with the horse. In the dissertation, Collin compiles a list of fossil and DNA evidence which dates after this supposed “extinction” period.

“The wonderful thing is that we now have Western technology that can provide very accurate dates,” said Collin in a recent interview. “Many studies show that these horses were present after the very same Ice Age that supposedly wiped out them all out. So, the most compelling data to support the Native narrative is actually from a lot of the western scientific measurements that are coming out.”

Collin didn’t stop there, however. She also drew from recorded observations in the diaries and maps created by explorers such as Sir Francis Drake, Sebastian Cabot, and other early Spanish conquistadors. Collin points to the first recorded sighting of horses with Native Peoples in the Carolinas.

“Columbus brought the first Spanish horse to the Caribbean in 1493,” remarks Collin. “The first documented arrival of horses on the mainland, near what we now call Mexico City, was in 1519. The Spanish took meticulous records of every mare and stallion. The first recorded sighting of Native people with horses, however, was in 1521 and that was in the Carolinas. No Spanish horses were recorded as ‘missing’ during this period. There’s no way Spanish horses could have made it through the dense forest and swampland to the Carolinas and repopulated in just two years.”

Collin also drew from interviews with American Indian study participants from seven different Nations. Every indigenous community that was interviewed reported having horses prior to European arrival, and each community had a traditional creation story explaining the sacred place of the horse within their societies.

“I didn’t expect that,” says Collin. “If you lay out a map, these Nations are all over the place. These communities do not speak the same language, share the same culture or the same geographical areas. Yet, their oral histories were all completely aligned. They each shared when the horse was gifted to them by the Creator, that the acquisition was spiritual in nature, and that they did not receive the horse from the Europeans.”

Horse history was purposely distorted

The dissertation posits that the discrepancy between the Spanish “reintroduction” theory and the story reflected by current evidence has to do with a cultural bias that is still present within Western academia. Collin theorizes that because horses were a symbol of status and civilization in Spain during that time, and because conquerors needed to illustrate the Native people as savage and uncivilized to justify their conquest to the Queen of Spain, the truth about the relationship between Native peoples and the horse was purposefully distorted.

“When Columbus came, the Spanish had just finished an 800-year war with Muslims,” Collin cited. “Queen Isabella gathered every horse in the vicinity and those horses became part of her army. With that horse power, she was able to conquer the Muslims. So, the horse was incredibly valuable. You’ll find paintings of her on these beautiful palominos. The horse was very much connected with nobility, power, and the concept of ‘civilization’ for these people.”

For this reason, she posits in through an “intercultural translation” lens that the history of the relationship between the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas and their horses was covered up and rewritten. . .

Continue reading. There’s much more including photographs of the artifacts showing pre-Columbian horses.

Written by Leisureguy

20 May 2021 at 5:32 pm

Posted in Daily life, History, Science

A walk in the other direction

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I won’t be doing this every day, but here is another sample of the neighborhood flora.

Written by Leisureguy

20 May 2021 at 4:59 pm

Posted in Daily life

Wanting to punish police misconduct does NOT mean one “hates cops”

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No more than wanting to punish (say) American criminals mean that one “hates Americans.” And some cops definitely deserve punishment.

Here are two reports, both in the Washington Post, that provide examples:

Colorado officers violently arrested woman, 73, with dementia, and then mocked her. Now they face charges

Andrea Salcedo reports:

It took Officer Austin Hopp less than 30 seconds from the moment he stepped out of his squad car to violently pin Karen Garner, a 73-year-old grandmother of nine, to the ground.

Moments later, the officer in Loveland, Colo., handcuffed Garner and pushed her against the hood of his patrol car — her arm audibly popping — as his colleague Daria Jalali assisted him in the June arrest.

That interaction recorded by Hopp’s body camera left Garner with a dislocated shoulder and a fractured arm, her family said. She later spent hours inside a booking cell without receiving any medical care while officers mocked her arrest.

On Wednesday, nearly a year later, Colorado authorities charged both officers with multiple counts in connection with Garner’s arrest, according to affidavits filed in Larimer County District Court. Both officers previously resigned from the department.

Hopp, 26, was charged with using excessive force and purposefully misleading his supervisors. While in custody, Garner told Hopp that she was in pain at least 14 times, prosecutors said, yet he did not provide medical care.

Jalali, 27, was charged with not intervening while Hopp allegedly used unnecessary force, and not reporting Hopp’s conduct.

Sarah Schielke, an attorney representing Garner’s family, said the family still wants to see others at the police force face charges.

“We are relieved that some criminal charges were filed at all, however we are deeply concerned that they stopped short of charging either of the involved supervising sergeants,” Schielke told The Washington Post.

Sgt. Phil Metzler, who supervised Hopp and Jalali, remains suspended while the city conducts an independent investigation, police said. . .

Continue reading. There’s more.

Body-cam video shows Louisiana troopers stunned, hit, and dragged Black man before his deat


Hannah Knowles reports:

At first, police told Ronald Greene’s loved ones that he died in a car accident — plowing into a tree late one night in 2019 after driving past a traffic stop, according to a lawsuit filed by the man’s family.

Video told a different story, and a familiar one to critics of a state police department plagued by allegations of excessive force against drivers of color.

Body-camera footage published by the Associated Press — withheld for two years by authorities — captures Greene wailing and saying, “I’m sorry!” as Louisiana state troopers violently arrest him, deploying what the AP identifies as a stun gun after the Black man appears to raise his hands inside his car. Officers later punch Greene in the face, drag him briefly by his shackled ankles and leave him to moan alone while handcuffed for more than nine minutes, according to the AP.

“I’m scared! I’m scared! … I’m scared!” the 49-year-old yells while bent over in the front seat. “I’m your brother. I’m scared!”

Excessive force left Greene “beaten, bloodied, and in cardiac arrest,” his family’s wrongful-death lawsuit states. Medics found him unresponsive, it says, and he was pronounced dead minutes after arriving at a hospital, but it took months for the state police to open an internal investigation.

Lee Merritt, an attorney for the family, said he hopes the leaked footage will push leaders to hold the officers involved accountable as the Justice Department reviews the case. Greene’s loved ones had already seen the video, but authorities have refused to make it public while inquiries are pending. Merritt said officials have tried to minimize and bury what led up to Greene’s death.

“This was a malicious attack on the side of the road on a fully surrendered man,” he said in an interview, calling for criminal consequences.

The Louisiana State Police did not dispute AP’s characterizations of the body-camera footage Wednesday and declined to share the video, saying federal and state authorities are still reviewing Greene’s death.

“The premature public release of investigative files and video evidence in this case is not authorized and was not obtained through official sources,” spokesman Nick Manale wrote in an email to The Washington Post. He added that such release “undermines the investigative process and compromises the fair and impartial outcome for the Greene family, LSP employees, and the community.”

The Justice Department said Wednesday evening that it has an open criminal investigation of the incident involving FBI agents, its civil rights division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Louisiana. The department “will take appropriate action” if it finds that any federal crimes were committed, it said.

Merritt noted that the Justice Department has become more “active” under the Biden administration — announcing high-profile hate-crime charges and opening investigations of heavily scrutinized police departments.

“The trend that I’m seeing in 2021 in particular — it gives me hope in this case,” he said.

Lawyers for the troopers involved in the arrest either declined to comment or did not respond to The Post’s inquiries on Wednesday.  . .

Continue reading. There’s more.

Police departments should fire abusive officers and charge them appropriately. (Police unions disagree.)

Written by Leisureguy

20 May 2021 at 12:35 pm

Backstory of Bob Ross (Inc.): Happy art, ugly business

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In the Daily Beast Alston Ramsay tells a compelling, lengthy, and detailed story of Bob Ross’s art and the betrayals involved in it. Well worth reading. The story begins:

Bob Ross is everywhere these days: bobbleheads, Chia Pets, waffle makers, underwear emblazoned with his shining face, even energy drinks “packed with the joy and positivity of Bob Ross!” Whatever merchandising opportunity is out there, kitsch or otherwise, it’s a safe bet his brand-management company is on it—despite his having shuffled off the mortal coil more than 25 years ago.

He’s also a smash hit on social media, where he feels more like a Gen-Z influencer than a once semi-obscure PBS celebrity who rose to fame in the 1980s on the back of his bouffant hairdo, hypnotic singsong baritone, and a timeless message about the beauty of the world around us. His official YouTube page has logged close to half a billion views. He’s been satirized by the comic-book anti-hero Deadpool, the world-infamous street artist Banksy, and even Jim Carrey as Joe Biden on Saturday Night Live.

If that weren’t enough, he’s hawking Mountain Dew in a new CGI commercial that’s right on the edge of the uncanny valley, and Netflix has a feature-length documentary about him due this summer by the prolific actor-producer Melissa McCarthy.

Yes, Bob Ross is a beacon of light in an ever-darkening world—an endless stream of soothing bon mots perfectly at home in the meme-and-merchandise internet era.

He was also recently in federal court. Or, to be more precise, his eponymous company Bob Ross, Inc., was. Now run by the daughter of Bob’s original business partners—Annette and Walt Kowalski—Bob Ross, Inc., was defending itself against claims that it had made millions of dollars by illegally licensing Bob’s image over the last decade, expanding far beyond the company’s original core business of selling Bob Ross-themed paints and paint supplies.

The broad contours of the case revolved around the nuances of intellectual property law and were nothing new in the world of legal bickering over celebrity estates. The details, on the other hand, resided in the land of the unbelievable—incorporating deathbed marriages, last-minute estate changes, CIA-style tape recordings, and even a real-life former CIA agent.

It was all made even more bizarre by the plaintiff who filed suit: Bob’s very own son Steve Ross, a long-standing superstar in the sub-universe of Bob Ross fandom who had largely dropped off the face of the Earth after his father’s death—and was even rumored to have met his own demise some years earlier.

Stranger still, it wasn’t the company’s first brush with federal and other lawsuits. Although, under the leadership of the Kowalskis, Bob Ross, Inc., was usually on the delivering, rather than receiving, end of said lawsuits.

In fact, in the months immediately following Bob’s death in the summer of 1995, Annette and Walt had launched a series of lawsuits and financial claims against Bob’s estate, his widow, his half-brother, and a dermatologist in Indiana who moonlit as the writer-producer of a short-lived PBS children’s show about a talking tree in which Bob had posthumously appeared.

All in all, the strategy was designed to gain total control of Bob’s afterlife—despite Bob’s clear intent otherwise. One of Bob’s close friends took to calling the effort “Grand Theft Bob,” and for 25 years, until now, the story has been known only to a handful of people who were often too scared to speak lest they, too, be the subject of a well-financed lawsuit courtesy of Bob Ross, Inc.

The following account is based on primary documents and interviews with more than 30 people who knew Bob personally or worked alongside him in the hobby-art industry—including family members, fellow TV artists, business associates, and competitors.


To fully understand the genesis of the alleged “Grand Theft Bob,” and how it was ironically responsible for Bob’s recent meteoric pop-culture renaissance, one has to first understand the business behind Bob Ross—and the origins of the company that bears his name.

That story begins not in the sleepy pre-Disney town of Orlando, Florida, where Bob was raised. Nor does it begin in the backwaters of Muncie, Indiana, where almost all 403 episodes of his international smash-hit television show The Joy of Painting were filmed. Nor was it in the bustling suburbs of Washington, D.C., where Bob Ross, Inc., was founded and still resides.

Rather, the business of being Bob Ross begins in the quaint lakeside hamlet of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. And it starts with a chance encounter between then-U.S. Air Force Master Sergeant Robert Norman Ross and a former Nazi conscript named Wilhelm “Bill” Alexander.

The year was 1978, and, after a deployment in Thailand at the tail end of the Vietnam War, Bob had spent the last several years at Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane, Washington, just down the road from Coeur d’Alene. Even though his days were packed with the long hours of a first sergeant—and raising his son Steve as a single father—he still found time to pursue his longstanding passion of painting. A passion that had been turbo-charged when, shortly after returning stateside, he had encountered Bill Alexander just as millions of others had at the time: on PBS, where Bill had pioneered an entirely new style of oil painting in which he could crank out a landscape in less than thirty minutes—the Alexander technique of “wet-on-wet” painting.

“It almost made me angry the first time I saw Alexander on TV,” Bob later explained in the first season of The Joy of Painting. “That he could do in a matter of minutes what took me days to do.”

Luck would have it that Bill was teaching a seminar less than an hour from Bob’s post. That’s how he found himself attending his first workshop on the Alexander technique. Not only was it a chance to learn from the master himself, it was also a job opportunity. Bob was a few years shy of retirement from the military, and he knew exactly what he wanted to do next: apprentice for Bill.

On paper, the two might have seemed like an odd couple. Bob was a tall, lanky, all-American, red-blooded military man who drove fast cars, loved fast women, drank scotch on the rocks, and smoked Salem Greens and Marlboro Reds. He was laser-focused, detail-oriented, and driven to excel.

Bill, on the other hand, was a short, stocky German immigrant with a neck like a linebacker’s, fingers like sausages, and about as much energy as the sun. He was incredibly warm, gave out hugs like candy, and was often generous to a fault. His motto, in life as in painting, was that you can’t have the light without the dark. . .

Continue reading. There’s much more, and it’s worth reading.

Written by Leisureguy

20 May 2021 at 11:48 am

Every day is new

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Photo through my window as the morning sun begins to rise above the buildings (at 6:00am this morning). Every day offers the chance for a new adventure and new learning.

Written by Leisureguy

20 May 2021 at 9:54 am

Posted in Daily life

Good distinction: “Processed” food v. “Ultra-processed” food

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Most people (I believe) think of things like Cheez Whiz, Oreos, and Pringles as processed foods, but not so much homemade mashed potatoes (though instant mashed-potato flakes are indeed though of as “processed”) or cooked kale. But, as some love to point out, the mashed potatoes and cooked kale have indeed gone through a process of preparation (washing, chopping, and cooking) and so those, too, are “processed.”

But those are definitely unlike Cheez Whis, Beyond Beef, and Spam, whose processing is more invasive and intensive. Such foods as these are now called “ultra-processed,” and though at first I resisted the use of the label, I have to admit that I do process the whole foods I eat — for example, by cooking them.

Nevertheless, when people refer to “processed foods,” they almost always are talking about ultra-processed foods, and their intention should be honored.

Nicola Temple’s article for BBC prompted these thoughts. She writes:

My first introduction to processed food began as a child in rural Canada, where we grew 90% of what we ate on our seven-acre homestead. After a carefree summer of catching fireflies and frogs and plucking sugar snaps from the vine, late August marked the start of winter preparation.

In the stifling humidity of an Ontario summer, perched on vinyl 1970s kitchen furniture, we topped and tailed, shucked and shelled, and boiled and blanched – processing all of our home grown produce so that it would feed us through the long, cold winter.

Yet, processed food these days has a far more negative connotation. The words conjure images of “cheese” covered polystyrene-like snacks or “just add water” meals with suspicious “flavour” pouches; these are the ultra-processed foods.

Is it fair to paint all processed food with the same brush of disdain? We forget that innovations in food processing have also helped to improve nutrition, reduce food waste and provide us with more leisure time. It is far more complex than to claim all processed food is bad. Processed food has, for better or for worse (and likely both), changed our relationship with food. Long before that, it shaped us as a species.

Our hominin relation, Homo habilis, which lived between 2.4 million and 1.4 million years ago, bares the first evidence of food processing. Unlike its evolutionary predecessors, habilis had relatively small teeth. It is thought that such an evolutionary trend could only begin if food was being manipulated before it reached the mouth. Pounding roots with rocks or slicing thin strips of meat to make it easier to chew could translate to about 5% less chewing. With less strain on the chewing apparatus – the jaws, muscles and teeth – the body can redirect those energetically expensive tissues elsewhere, causing the face to become smaller relative to the overall skull size.

Homo erectus (1.89 mya – 108,000 years ago) and Homo neanderthalensis (400,000-40,000 years ago) had much smaller teeth than one would predict based on their skull sizes. Evolution could only favour such a reduction in tooth size if food had become easier to chew, and this is likely to only have been accomplished through thermal processing – cooking.

Cooked food requires 22% less muscle to chew and it can release energy (calories) that might otherwise be inaccessible in the raw product. As well as arguably putting our ancient ancestors on a trend toward small faces and big bodies, processed food led to a significant gain in leisure time. Less time spent chewing left the mouth free to develop complex oral language. Energy could be directed to growing a bigger brain rather than a heavy-duty chewing mechanism, and cooked food fed that calorie-hungry brain. When I say that processed food has helped shape us as a species, I mean it quite literally.

However, it continues to do so and that is perhaps more worrisome. Ultra-processed foods have certainly been linked to our ever-increasing body size and our cooked, soft diet is ultimately to blame for misaligned teeth. Small face, big body, crooked teeth – perhaps this is not a trend we wish to continue.

What drove our early ancestors to process food – preservation – remains the main driver behind food processing today. Advancements in technology mean we can now flash-freeze produce in the height of the season mere moments after it has been plucked from the earth, locking those essential nutrients up until they are released again months later on some stove top thousands of miles from where the produce was grown.

Yet there have been many other drivers along the way that have forced food innovation. When more seamen died of malnutrition than in battle during the Seven Years War and Napoleonic Wars, the push to find new ways of preserving food drove the development and widespread adoption of canning. In 1912, a change in legislation in the UK made it necessary for the middle classes to give their household servant a half day off each week; this drove the first iterations of the “ready-meal” as middle-class housewives suddenly found themselves having to cook one evening meal each week. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

20 May 2021 at 9:12 am

Lovely lavender morning

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Stimulated by yesterday’s flower-rich walk, I decided to go a lavender direction for today’s shave. Meißner Tremonia Lavender de Luxe is a fine shaving soap, and the WSP Monarch quickly made a lather to be envied. That Edwin Jagger head on the handle that came with the Parker Semi-Slant worked as well as ever. As I shaved, I realized that I wish I had known one basic guidance when I resumed double-edge shaving: Ride the cap, not the guard. That will generally result in a good angle.

Three passes left a smooth face, and a splash of D.R. Harris Old English Lavender Water finished the shave nicely.

Written by Leisureguy

20 May 2021 at 8:46 am

Posted in Shaving

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