Pass the green tea, dark chocolates, and muscadine grapes…

Photo credit: Joe Nickell’s Snake Oil Collection.

“Some of the loudest, most proudly ignorant guessing in the world is going on in Washington today. Our leaders are sick of all the solid information that has been dumped on humanity by research and scholarship and investigative reporting. They think that the whole country is sick of it, and they could be right. It isn’t the gold standard that they want to put us back on. They want something even more basic. They want to put us back on the snake-oil standard.” — Kurt Vonnegut (2005)

In Joe Nickell’s taxonomy, Miller’s Antiseptic Oil of 1916 was a “type 4”…


Try Bad Moon Rising or just stick with the Tulsa playlist…

An old sign in Trumpistan…

“Where words leave off, music begins.” ― Heinrich Heine (as quoted in Peter’s Quotations, 1977)

Leonard Cohen’s Estate was “surprised and dismayed” that “Hallelujah” was played at the Republican National Convention in August and suggested that they might have considered approval of “You Want It Darker” instead. And now John Fogerty has joined the long list of musicians who oppose the president’s use of their music.

After “Fortunate Son” was played at a campaign rally in Michigan this week, Fogerty posted a video on Facebook and Instagram saying, “It’s a song I could have written now, and so I find…


And why are their monuments still standing on public property?

Hank Willis Thomas’s sculpture, “Rise Up,” at the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama.

“I think it well…not to keep open the sores of war, but to follow the examples of those nations who endeavored to obliterate the marks of civil strife and to commit to oblivion the feelings it engendered.” — Robert E. Lee, from a letter to David McConaughy of the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association in which Lee turned down an invitation to participate in their preservation efforts (1869).

A troubling disconnect often exists between collective memory and historical scholarship, and this predicament is not unique to our understanding of the American Civil War and its aftermath. “Unfortunately,” as Alex Wellerstein explained


“It concerns the years past and the shadows they cast…”

Citizens of Tournai bury plague victims, by Pierart dou Tielt (fl. 1340–1360) — Public Domain.

“I believe that a thought has just gotten caught, In a place where words can’t surround it. It concerns the years past and the shadows they cast, And my path as I walk around it.” — John Prine, “The Third of July” (2003)

I couldn’t watch much of the dystopian spectacle at Mount Rushmore yesterday, but I did tune in briefly before the Dear White Leader paid homage to our Great White Fathers, whose likenesses (I’m sure you already know) were carved into the Lakota Sioux’s “Six Grandfathers” by a Klansman — on stolen Native American land.

While John Prine’s…


Personal and historical reflections on this past week

“First White House of the Confederacy” in Montgomery, across the street from the Alabama State Capitol (2018).

“Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart, as you obey Christ.” —Ephesians 6:5

In three U.S. states, his birthday is celebrated as a public holiday. A statue in his honor stands in the National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol, and his Presidential Library and Museum was dedicated in 1998. Almost 20 public schools and a handful of places are named after him. George Washington? Thomas Jefferson? Abraham Lincoln? Nope, it’s Jefferson Finis Davis — the first and only “President” of the so-called “Confederate States of America.”

Imprisoned at Fort Monroe, Virginia for two…


Annotated by a third cousin twice removed, with timeline.

Wake Forest Law Class of 1903, with Walter Ney Keener seated on the far right, first row — Public Domain.

“What’s natural is the microbe. All the rest — health, integrity, purity (if you like) — is a product of the human will, of a vigilance that must never falter. The good man, the man who infects hardly anyone, is the man who has the fewest lapses of attention.” — Albert Camus (1947)

In 1918 Walter Ney (“Frank”) Keener from Lincolnton, North Carolina ended his “whirlwind nine-year tour of the state’s dailies” and returned to Durham to become the editor of the Morning Herald. Matriculated in law at Wake Forest College (Class of 1903), Frank represented Lincoln County in the…


Thanks to my father’s brother by another mother…

Emergency hospital for soldiers from Kansas — a possible geographic origin of the “Spanish flu” (Public Domain).

Old people just grow lonesome waiting for someone to say, “Hello in there, hello.” John Prine (1971)

In 1915, my dad’s older brother — George — by another mother was born and my great grandfather (also George, or “GW” — short for George Washington) purchased a Ford Model T for under $500 (he sold his livery stable the following year). By the time my dad was born five years later, my great grandparents were managing a household that included the young five year old George as well as my then-young (18 and 19 year old) newlywed grandparents who were…


With an important purpose and timely message for us all…

Santa Claus, by Thomas Nast (1881) — Public Domain.

“In theory, there is no difference between practice and theory. In practice, there is.” — Jan van de Snepscheut (1986), “overheard at a computer science conference.”

When the “jolly old elf ” made his first appearance (1862) in a Union Army camp during the American Civil War, the modern image of Santa Claus was born.


Remembering Josephine and Norma May Bonniwell

Piedmont Wagon Company building in Hickory, North Carolina. Photo by Wilhelm Kühner (2019).

Architecture should have little to do with problem solving — rather it should create desirable conditions and opportunities hitherto thought impossible.” ― Cedric Price

While Louise Blanchard Bethune may be the first American woman to work as a professional architect, starting in 1881, Josephine and Norma May Bonniwell (1877–1961) may very well be the youngest women to do so. Daughters of George Bonniwell from Brooklyn, Josephine and Norma were “carefully trained” by their father and Norma even began working independently as early as March 19, 1892, when the Manufacturers’ Record reported that she had “prepared plans for the erection of…

Wilhelm Kühner

Pruning the “tangled thicket” of Kühner (Keener) Genealogie in Amerika and reflecting on its relevance to current events.

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