Millie Dunn Veasey traveled to England through U-Boat-infested waters, saw war casualties in bombed-out French towns, went to college on the GI Bill, and sat next to Martin Luther King, Jr. at the March on Washington.
Her life story, some of it centered around her time in England and France working with the first all-female, all-black military unit sent to a war zone, is absolutely fascinating. Kudos to Josh Shaffer of the Raleigh News & Observer for profiling Veasey.
Back in Raleigh, Veasey saw an advertisement looking for female black recruits. Women with work experience were especially prized. At the time, she didn’t think of her role as freeing a man for the front lines. She thought, if a white woman could join up, why shouldn’t I?
Her family didn’t share her optimism. She was small, weighed less than 100 pounds, and she’d been sickly as a child. Her mother doubted she could handle the rigorous training. Her brother, already in the Army, doubted she could pass the test.
But Veasey took a bus to Fort Bragg, where she aced the exam, physical and written; she was one of three selected. Before long, the girl from Bloodworth Street who’d never been out of Raleigh found herself standing at reveille in the rain at Fort Des Moines in Iowa, wearing Army-issued galoshes that didn’t fit her narrow AAA-sized feet.
“I didn’t know how to tie my tie,” she confessed.
Here's a video of Veasey's unit, the 6888th postal battalion, taking part in a parade and drills. Read the rest
In many cases, Mitchell’s simple flags are a good deal less exciting than their odd forebears. And it’s hard not to miss some of the more unusual visual miscellanea that the new designs do away with. Still, Mitchell sees value in the cohesion. “I would personally prefer to adhere to the idea of keeping our state and national symbolism current and meaningful,” he says, “which does not mean abandoning history but celebrating progress.”
tl;dr: No. Read the rest
It's time for some American Democracy 101. Every election cycle, it frustrates me to no end that most news outlets spend an inordinate amount of time talking about the latest polls without explaining the significance those polls actually have on the outcome of a presidential election that isn't truly decided by the voters. My Halloween wish this year was for someone to explain the electoral college to me, and Twin Cities journalist Frank Bures has obliged*.
This piece has actually been around since 2000, but I think it's a nice explanation of what the electoral college is, where it comes from, and why it's going to matter to you tonight.
Read the rest
The only votes that count in this election will be cast in mid-December by the 538 members of the electoral college. That's who you and I will vote for on November 7: electors for Bush or electors for Gore, and their votes are the currency of presidential politics. Each state gets as many electors as it has representatives and senators. In all but two states, the winning party takes all the state's electoral votes.
...At first, in several states, there was no popular presidential vote. For decades after 1787, in states like Delaware, New York, and Georgia, the legislatures chose the electors. In South Carolina, there was no popular vote for the chief executive until 1860. But today, party loyalty prevents electors from acting as the free agents envisioned by the founders. In 99% of the cases, the electoral vote is a formality.
First celebrated nationally in 1937, Columbus Day pays homage to Christopher Columbus' arrival in the Americas. It is, needless to say, viewed very differently by different groups of Americans. Some people forget it's a holiday at all. Some Italian Americans see it as a point of cultural pride. Other people — especially Native Americans — point out that Columbus personally oversaw the murder and enslavement of thousands and see the holiday as an intrinsically cruel celebration of the beginning of a massive genocide and generations of oppression.
For some reason, we've been unable to deal with problem of Columbus Day, but now some folks on the Internet have a solution that actually makes a hell of a lot of sense: Replace Columbus Day with Exploration Day.
The logic is quite neat. Columbus Day is about one guy and the (actually untrue) claim that he was the first person to discover America. Inherently, that's pretty Euro-centric, which is a big part of why it sits awkwardly in a pluralistic country. But exploration is inclusive. The ancestors of Native Hawaiians were explorers who crossed the ocean. The ancestors of Native Americans explored their way across the Bering land bridge and then explored two whole continents. If you look at the history of America, you can see a history of exploration done by many different people, from many different backgrounds. Sometimes we're talking about literal, physical exploration. Other times, the exploring is done in a lab. Or in space. But the point is clear: This country was built on explorers. Read the rest
Cue up the Yakity Sax! In case you missed it, there have been a number of Boing Boing posts of late documenting outrageous TSA incidents:
• A terminal in Newark airport was evacuated because the TSA forgot to screen a tiny baby. • TSA agents discovered an "anomaly in the crotchital area" of a 79-year-old woman. • TSA agents at JFK harassed the family of a 7-year-old girl with cerebral palsy and developmental disability. • TSA screeners in LA ran a drug ring and took bribes from drug dealers. • The TSA's anti-hugging squad caught a terrorist masquerading as a 4-year-old girl who loves her grandma. • A 95-year-old US Air Force veteran from World War II and his 85-year-old friend were humiliated, searched and robbed at a San Diego TSA checkpoint.
Did we miss anything else in the past week or so? Let us know in the comments.
Richard Florida on this fascinating map, produced by the Centers for Disease Control:
There is good news: teen births are at their lowest level in more than 60 years (10 percent lower than 2009, 43 percent below their peak in 1970). But the geographic variation is substantial. Teen birthrates are highest in Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Arkansas, and New Mexico,. There are slightly lower concentrations in the neighboring states of Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Arizona. New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, and Massachusetts have the lowest rates of teen births.
The full CDC report details drops in most states (excepting North Dakota, West Virginia and Montana), with the sharpest drops in Nevada, Arizona, California, Florida and Rhode Island. Elsewhere the impregnations continue apace, with Kansas, Michigan and Arkansas posting less dramatic declines.
The teen pregnancy rate is highest in Mississipi and lowest in New Hampshire, the CDC said.
What will stop Conservative America's progeny from having so much hot, wild, bareback sex?