Archived, searchable submissions of opinion on topics related to the North MS area, as well as political commentary and state, national, and worldwide current events, etc. Includes Editorial Opinion, Guest Authors, Letters to the Editor, even occasional fiction pieces.

NEMiss.News NAFD firefighter at Hillcrest house fire.


The New Albany Fire Department (NAFD), as well as assisting firemen from Union County fire departments, had a horrendous night last night.

A late night house fire in New Albany brought the shattering experience every fire fighter faces sooner or later: a victim was trapped in the house. Firemen made entry through a window in one end of the house and, fortunately, found the single occupant of the house that was trapped.

They were able to remove the 63-year-old woman from the flames, but she died a short while later.

It was a tough experience, particularly on some of the younger firemen. It was the first time someone had perished in a New Albany fire in over ten years.

The NAFD has become one of the best trained units in north Mississippi during recent decades, largely through the extraordinary efforts of now-retired New Albany Fire Chief Steve Coker and his successor, New Albany Fire Chief Mark Whiteside..

Coker and Whiteside have overseen extensive training for NAFD firemen as well as hundreds of hours of training for fire crews in Union County’s several volunteer departments. The training has paid off in lower fire insurance rates for property owners and in an enviable record of rescues of folks who would otherwise likely have perished.

But you can’t win every time. Say a prayer for the victim of last night’s fire, her family and friends.

Pray also for our firemen. No firemen were injured removing the victim from the flames last night last night, but all of them are grieving.

Fatal housefire:

NEMiss.News Perkins, Orbison, Cash & Lewis



Jerry Lee Lewis has occasionally been in my thoughts during the last several weeks. While “The Killer” had a long career in American music, his success as a performer is not why I thought about him. Although I liked a couple of his songs, I was not a “fan” and never attempted to see him perform.

When I heard Friday that Lewis had died, I was a little surprised. I’d presumed he was already long dead.

My recent transient thoughts about Jerry Lee started while reading Carl Rollyson’s new biography of William Faulkner. Jill Smith had Rollyson speak at the Union County Heritage Museum in July, and I bought the biography from the museum shop.

Rollyson’s two-volume, 1,097-page, biography of Faulkner is based on many years of research into the life and literary career of the Mississippi Nobelist. Rollyson did an enormous amount of research of his own. Additionally, he had access to the research of Faulkner’s early biographer, Joseph Blotner, and the work of several other writers over the last 60 years.

Until now, Blotner’s book would have been considered the most important Faulkner biography. Blotner was a friend of Faulkner’s from the latter’s time as a lecturer at the University of Virginia. He had first person access to Faulkner and was a pall bearer at the novelist’s funeral in 1962.

Blotner was a good writer of straight forward prose, but his 1974 biography and a subsequent 1991 condensed paperback version were relatively sparse on details about the darker aspects of Faulkner’s life. Blotner does write about Faulkner’s alcohol problem and touches on other details of an unhappy life. However, the reader of Blotner’s Faulkner is spared the many, many ugly details. Some believe Blotner left out most of the nastier stuff to avoid offending Faulkner’s widow and their daughter Jill Faulkner Summers.

Not so with Carl Rollyson’s book. While reading the first volume I was somewhat put off by the abundance of detail about everything from minutia about Faulkner’s personal wardrobe to excruciating details about his long and lucrative career as a screenwriter in Hollywood. I thought it distracted from the flow of the narrative. However, I read Rollyson’s published comments regarding his belief that every detail of the subject’s life is relevant.

Rollyson gives heavy emphasis to the fact that much of Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha fiction is about Southern Decadence: violence, predatory miscegenation, rape, incest, racism, alcoholism, debauchery in general and “the Rise of the Redneck.” He spares us no details in discussing Faulkner’s own dissipation, his many dalliances with very young women and his self-destructive binges on alcohol. The genius of Rowan Oak was brought close to death by his drinking bouts many times, wallowing for days in his own filth, and was hospitalized dozens of times to salvage him from dipsomania.

Faulkner died in 1962 at Wright’s Sanitarium, a small private clinic for alcoholics in Byhalia, Desoto County, Mississippi. He was two months shy of his 65th birthday.

What does Faulkner have to do with Jerry Lee Lewis? It is very unlikely that Faulkner ever heard a recording of Jerry Lee singing and even less likely that The Killer ever read a single page of anything Faulkner wrote. Lewis did have a unique singing style and could literally set fire to a piano, but those are not the reasons I thought of him while reading about Faulkner’s life.

It is simply this: The life of Jerry Lee Lewis’s exemplified Southern Decadence.

Lewis married a 13-year old child, a first cousin, in 1957. The scandal of his incest and statutory rape of the girl derailed his early success as a rock-and-roll artist. However, a dozen years later he came back strong as a performer of country and gospel music. By 1970 he was on top.

His outrageous incidents while under the influence of alcohol and other chemicals were legendary.

He accidentally shot Butch Owens, his base player, in the chest with a handgun in 1976. That same year, the Memphis police arrested him, stoned, at the front gate of Elvis Presley’s house on old Highway 51. He was brandishing a handgun and demanding that Elvis come out, so they could settle who was really “The King” or some such nonsense.

The Killer was married seven times, and two of his wives died under what were called “mysterious circumstances.” A grand jury looked into the 1983 death of one of his wives, who died of an overdose with some of Lewis’s own methadone in her body. He had good lawyers and was not indicted.

I thought of Jerry Lee Lewis several times while reading about debauchery in the life and literature of William Cuthbert Faulkner. The life of The Killer would have made an appropriate character and plot for a Faulkner novel. Brother Will would have had to tone it down a little to make it believable, sort of obscure it in those thousand-word sentences.

Jerry Lee Lewis died at age 87, also in Desoto County, living 23 years longer than William Faulkner. Hard living punishes some more, and quicker, than others.



In 1381, an army of impoverished and mostly illiterate peasants rose up against England’s oppressive economic and social order. Their achievements and ruthless efficiency are as shocking today as they were then to the aristocrats who underestimated them.



I’ve written before about the history of the labor movement in America, including the 1886 Haymarket Massacre. Recently, I’ve been thinking about another little-remembered event from history and its striking parallels with our own time. With Labor Day tomorrow, this seems as good a time as any to consider those parallels, and what lessons or warnings may be drawn from them.

In 1349, the Black Death (now known as Bubonic Plague) arrived in England, killing off between a third and half of the population. Very old news, I know. But did you know the Black Death gave rise to history’s first workers movement? Actually, it was less a “movement” than a “violent uprising bent on upending the whole social order”. Po-tay-to, po-tah-to.

The leader of this rebellion was Wat Tyler. His name suggests he made tiles, but we don’t know for sure. Historians can’t even agree about where he was from or where he was born. Until he entered the stage of history at the head of this rebellion, Tyler was one of the millions of faceless workers of Medieval England whose names are lost to us. We do know he was centuries ahead of his time politically and a formidable tactician. Over just two weeks in the summer of 1381, Tyler helped lead tens of thousands of followers in a lightning terror campaign that brought England’s ruling elite, and even its king, to their knees.

Background- A green and pleasant land, for some

Thanks to England’s fertile soil and long growing season, the ruling class that owned all the land had become fabulously wealthy by the 1300s. Each landowner, or lord, had dozens, if not hundreds, of “serfs” to work their land. These were bonded servants over whom the lords held the power of life and death. It wasn’t technically slavery, but pretty close.

Peasant farmers harvest grain while an overseer stands over them with a rod.

Serfs couldn’t go anywhere or even marry without their lord’s permission. It was a serf’s lot to be born, live, work and die on their lord’s land. Serfs produced everything their lord required from food, to wool, to furnishings. And if their lord got into a squabble with the neighboring lord, the serfs had to go fight for him as well.

These estates needed a lot of people to work them. After the Black Death, there were suddenly a lot fewer people to do all this work. This gave the serfs something they never had before: bargaining power, and a chance of upward mobility.

Only this didn’t happen.

Thumbs on scales and tightening screws

Rather than bowing to market pressures and granting serfs a greater share of the wealth they were producing, the landowners petitioned King Edward III in 1375 to decree that serfs’ wages be limited to pre-Plague levels. And he did. Even worse, new laws further restricted workers’ freedom and mobility, forbidding them from seeking better paid work elsewhere. The landed gentry pushed their workers harder than ever in a vain attempt to match the productivity achieved before half the workforce died off.

As if that weren’t bad enough, the English kings of that time had extensive land claims in France, which they were constantly having to defend. Periodically, the Crown would raise armies of English knights, mercenaries and conscripts to go and fight in France. Historians call this the 100 Years War, but it actually lasted 116 years.

Raising armies also meant raising taxes. As the fighting in France became more and more costly, the taxes became more oppressive. The Crown imposed a series of poll taxes, meaning everyone had to pay the same amount, nobleman and peasant alike. This didn’t seem fair to the already much put-upon peasants. It also didn’t escape their notice that the king’s courtiers seemed to be getting richer as the wars went on.

The last straw

In 1381, peasants staged a silent protest by ghosting from local registries to evade the poll tax. When the king’s treasurers did their sums, the discrepancy was obvious. Rather than turn a blind eye, the authorities sent tax collectors and armed guards into the villages to collect.

The tax collectors, believing no one would dare to defy them, committed hideous abuses, especially against young women. For example, they forced girls to raise their skirts to show whether they had reached puberty, making them eligible to pay the tax.

This was the final straw for the peasants. Across the eastern counties of England, coded messages were sent and armed posses were formed. These posses either beat or killed tax assessors and the armed kingsmen. Emboldened by their success in seeing off the tax collectors, the peasants went on the offensive.

Peasants getting Medieval with farm implements.

With the help of veterans of the French wars, the peasants organized themselves, beating their plowshares into swords. They ransacked local strongholds and centers of authority, burning tax records kept there. They freed serfs who’d been imprisoned for deserting their lords, who regarded them as property.

Marching across the countryside, rebel agitators gathered more followers and resources as they went. Wherever they went, they targeted and killed local nobles and officials who they considered oppressors. 

Even holy places like abbeys and monasteries weren’t safe from the peasants’ ire. The Church, then the biggest landowner in England, was every bit as authoritarian as the secular landlords. The Archbishop of Canterbury Simon Sudbury was also the king’s Lord High Chancellor, and one of the chief architects of the brutal crackdown on tax cheats. About 2000 armed rebels entered Canterbury Cathedral bent on putting Sudbury to death. But Sudbury had already run away to London.

On to London

Within a week of the first uprising, the rebels in Essex had elected Wat Tyler to lead them. Tyler communicated with leaders in the neighboring counties of Cambridge, Kent, Norfolk and Suffolk. Together, the leaders agreed it was time to take the fight to London. Their goal once there was to put their case to the king. King Edward III had since died and his 14-year-old grandson, Richard II, was on the throne. The peasants didn’t see the boy king as their enemy. He was, in their view, appointed by God, and the final arbiter of God’s justice on earth. This, they believed, meant he was bound to take their side.

Instead, the peasants focused their rage on Richard’s advisers, whom the peasants thought were manipulating the boy king to enrich themselves. The peasants believed it was God’s will that they kill these advisers and thus free the king of their evil influence.

By the time all the rebel contingents converged on London, they were about 60,000 strong. Once there, the peasant army found that about half the city’s population of 40,000 were ready and waiting to join them. Over several days, the rebels raided and burned abbeys and stately homes, dumping treasures and luxury goods into the Thames. They stormed the lawcourts, killing lawyers they deemed corrupt. Possibly at the instigation of local cloth merchants, the rebels also targeted and executed foreigners, especially Flemish merchants (from modern day Belgium). Many Flemings were decapitated and others were forced into a church which the rebels then set ablaze. 

The murder of Simon Sudbury, Archbishop of Canterbury, at the Tower of London.

A meeting at Mile End

London’s ruling class was wholly unprepared for such an assault. With all of Richard’s professional soldiers off fighting in France, the city was virtually defenseless. Moreover, Richard’s ruling council seemed paralyzed by the shocking turn of events. For centuries, the nobility had had little or no contact with the peasants they ruled, regarding them as little better than animals. It was inconceivable to them that the peasants could organize themselves with such deadly and purposeful efficiency.

Ultimately, the young king and his council decided to buy time. He consented to meet with a contingent of the rebels from Kent and hear their demands.

Richard and his kingsmen met the Kentish rebels at Mile End, at the edge of London. It’s unknown who put the demands to the king (some assume it was Tyler), but we know what the demands were: an end to serfdom; freedom to sell goods on the open market instead of handing them over to a lord; reduced land rents; and a general pardon for the rebels. The peasants also gave Richard a list of nobles they wanted handed over for execution.

Perhaps to everyone’s surprise, Richard agreed to these demands, and even issued charters making them law. Richard didn’t agree to hand over the nobles, but promised to mete out justice to them himself. However, while Richard was at Mile End, another rebel group stormed the Tower of London, where they finally caught up with Archbishop Sudbury. The rebels dragged out Sudbury and Robert Hales, the Lord High Treasurer, and beheaded them. 

Tyler rides forward

At this point, all but the most radical of the rebels returned home, satisfied with their apparent victories. However, Wat Tyler’s hardcore Essex contingent remained. Buoyed by Richard’s concessions at Mile End and believing the boy king was on their side, Tyler’s group arranged a face-to-face meeting with Richard the very next day at Smithfield, outside London’s walls.

At left, the Mayor of London strikes Wat Tyler. At right, Richard II rides forward to pacify the rebels.

Here again, the two sides met, Richard with his 200 or so kingsmen and advisers, and Tyler with his thousands-strong peasant army. Tyler rode forward to speak with the king. While aristocratic chroniclers of the time begrudgingly admit that Tyler was eloquent, they’re less flattering about his manners. Tyler spoke to the young king with a familiarity the king’s courtiers found offensive. Tyler addressed Richard as an equal, believing he was a fellow brother in the cause.

Tyler’s demands for reforms went further than those at Mile End. He demanded guarantees that the system of serfdom would never re-emerge; the abolition of the senior clergy and aristocracy (apart from the king); local administration of courts and police; and redistribution of the wealth of the clergy and nobility among the commoners.

Richard apparently agreed to these new demands, or at least made a show of it. What happened next is debatable. Most agree that one of the kingsmen provoked Tyler, who drew his knife. The Mayor of London then rode forward and slashed Tyler across the back of his head. Tyler managed to ride a few paces back towards his followers before falling from his horse.

The boy king’s face turn

Richard II. Jolly looking, isn’t he?

The peasants, seeing their leader struck down, raised their bows and prepared to attack. But then the boy king rode forward, telling the peasants that he would be their new leader. The peasants rejoiced and blithely followed Richard’s instruction to meet him at nearby Clerkenwell Fields.

Tyler, dying but not yet dead, was taken to a nearby abbey, ironically, for treatment. There, a group of kingsmen strode in, dragged Tyler outside and beheaded him.

The peasants awaiting the king at Clerkenwell were shocked when Richard arrived with the Mayor of London, who was carrying Tyler’s head on a pike. The king’s forces had the peasants surrounded. Seeing this, the peasants fell to their knees, begging the king’s mercy. Richard told them to leave London in peace, and they did.

The story didn’t end there, however. Richard retracted all his concessions from Mile End, vowing that the conditions of the peasants’ servitude would be even harsher than before. He then dispatched men-at-arms across the land to seek out and kill the rebel leaders in the villages and forests where they were hiding. This slaughter went on for months, killing thousands. At least two rebels suffered the ultimate traitor’s death: hanging, drawing and quartering.


The only immediate result of the revolt in the peasants’ favor was that King Richard at last withdrew the reviled poll tax. Other than that, things changed little for a time. Peasants’ wages remained low and their freedoms severely curtailed.

But over the following decades, England’s ruling class had to come to terms with new economic and social realities. Even though the feudal system remained law, few landlords dared enforce its harsh restrictions on their peasants. Gradually, peasants drifted away from their plantations seeking better opportunities elsewhere. Those peasants content to stay in the farming villages where they’d lived for generations enjoyed better wages and an overall better quality of life.

Of course, the struggle for economic freedom and equality didn’t end there and continues to this day. This struggle has at times given rise to mob violence and brutal crackdowns by the state and owner class. However, at least in the Western world, none have yet matched the scale and carnage of the 1381 Peasants’ Revolt and its aftermath. For that we should be grateful.

Legacy and cautionary tales

A modern reader may sympathize with the rebels’ high-minded goals and aspirations to freedoms we take for granted today. Indeed, many progressive thinkers have eulogized the Peasants’ Revolt as a spiritual predecessor to modern labor and civil rights movements. But it’s important not to gloss over the horrors of those two weeks.

It’s difficult to grasp the scale and shock factor of this revolt today. It sprang up rapidly in counties across England, with possibly hundreds of thousands taking up arms. Within two weeks, they managed to coordinate a massive pincer movement advancing towards London. While this level of organization and discipline was stunning, it was by no means complete. Rebel leaders like Wat Tyler issued orders against looting and wanton savagery, but both occurred and were widespread.

Not only did the rebels kill hundreds of people who they regarded as traitors and oppressors, they also brutally killed many people who were completely innocent. Aside from London’s unfortunate Flemings, the rebels also targeted simple folk who refused to join their cause.  

The Peasants’ Revolt was a spontaneous, widespread, yet highly-focused explosion of rage that gave rise to an orgy of violence and destruction, the like of which we haven’t seen since. In this sense, the revolt marked a turning point in history. It was the moment when society first witnessed the awesome power and terror that can be unleashed when the masses have finally had enough of not having enough.



Please share any thoughts, comments or questions in the Comments section below!

NEMiss.News 1983 Mercedes Benz 300CD


Several days ago, I said goodbye to an old friend: A Union County man bought my 1983 Mercedes-Benz 300CD, which I had owned since 2008.

It was the fourth of the legendary old five-cylinder diesel-powered Mercedes-Benz cars I had owned in the last 23 years.

I drove the car very little in recent years. Several people had asked if I wanted to sell it, but I didn’t. It wasn’t doing me much good, but I loved the old thing. As with any car, about the worst thing you can do for it is to let it just sit around, which was the case. It suffered several years of neglect. However, it could go without being driven for months and then fire up and run the first time it was cranked.

Recently, a man I barely knew asked if I would sell it. It was time. I liked the guy and believed he probably had the skills and patience to do with it what he said he would do: bring it back near the condition it was in 39 years ago when it arrived here from what was then West Germany.

I retrieved the title from the lockbox at BNA Bank, where it had rested for 14 years. He gave me money, and I endorsed the title. Then he clattered off down the street in the old thing.

There was one caveat to the sale: if he ever decides to sell it, he is to give me the first chance of buying it back. I doubt that will ever happen, but it comforted me to think it might not be forever gone.

I bought my first Mercedes diesel when it was time for our daughter to learn to drive. I knew they were built like tanks and wanted her to be safe. It was also a 1983 model, a four-door 300D on the Benz 123 chassis. I sold it and bought a 300SD, the same model year and engine. However, the SD was built on the heavier Benz 126 chassis and was underpowered.

I had been on the lookout for a Benz 300CD when I finally found one in 2008. It is the same 5-cylinder in line turbocharged diesel engine as the others, but in a 2-door coupe. Only 8,003 of the two-door 300CDs were made. Relatively few of them survive outside of California where they are in demand as restoration projects.

The five-cylinder diesel engine in the 300 series Benzes of the 1980s is arguably the most durable automobile engine ever made. Altogether I drove the four I owned over 100,000 miles and they were 20 years old when I first I acquired them, I never spent a dime on engine repairs. Regular oil changes, tires, an occasional valve adjustment, replacement batteries, a radiator, belts and hoses – that’s it. Those engines routinely go 600,000 miles without an overhaul.

They are slow – zero to 60 in an afternoon. The engine makes a racket when first started, sometimes causing the uninitiated to think it’s about to throw a rod. However, when warmed up and at high speed they smooth out. The curb weight of a 300D is 3,583 pounds, but they will consistently get 30 miles per gallon at 80 miles per hour.

I keenly remember the first time I saw a Mercedes-Benz automobile. I was 13 years-old, my eighth-grade and final year at the two-room St. Eunice Public School, one of the last clapboard public grade schools in Callaway County, Missouri.

During recess one late spring afternoon, a huge black machine turned, off of U.S. Highway 54 onto St. Eunice Road, the gravel road that ran past the north side of the schoolgrounds.

Gleaming black paint and shiny chrome, the thing was over 20-feet long and weighed 7,230 lbs. It kicked up a huge cloud of dust and a spray of small gravel as it rolled west.

NEMiss.News Mercedes Benz 600C

Early 1960s Mercedes-Benz 600C

Sitting in the driver’s seat, unmistakable in his big Stetson fedora, a big black cigar clenched in his teeth, was Johann Heinrich (Henry) Danuser, a successful local industrialist and owner of Sky-Go Farms, a model dairy farming operation.

Henry was driving an early 1960s Mercedes-Benz 600C. Quiet as a breeze, Mr. Danuser’s behemoth Benz disappeared over the hill at the grain elevator, and I was awestruck.

German engineer Karl Benz is credited with creating the first practical automobile in 1886. The company he founded set the standards for automobile quality for the next century.

Although the 1998 merger of Mercedes-Benz with Chrysler Corporation is often blamed for a decline in the quality of Mercedes-Benz cars, that may be unfair to both companies. It is sufficient to say here that the “cultures clashed.” It is true that the quality reputation of Mercedes-Benz has been up and down for the last quarter century. A long-time Mercedes owner complained to me a few years ago about the inferior quality of his 2018 Mercedes E-Class sedan, compared to those he had owned in previous years. “It’s a nice car,” he said, “but there’s nothing special about them anymore.”

His top-of-the-line 2018 E Class had a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price of about $55,000. The car I sold a few days ago had an MSRP in 1983 of $35,000, so it’s not hard to figure out that some compromises have been made.

I could never have afforded a big new Mercedes 600C like the one Henry Danuser had 60 years ago,. The 2022 Benz equivalent to the car Henry had is the Mercedes Maybach 600 Pullman priced at $1.4-million. (Plus “dealer prep?”) That said, I am happy to have owned and enjoyed the old Mercedes 300 diesel cars. I believe the new owner will have as much fun driving it as I did. I look forward to the improvements he makes to it and to seeing it clattering around Union County.


NEMiss.News some things call for a casserole



“…little children let us not love in word and speech, but in deed and truth.” 

–1 John 3:18


Some things call for casseroles.


I like words. Words are powerful. Words can give comfort. Words can cause pain. Words are indeed powerful and should be employed with utmost caution. When times dictate that we express our love for one another, words can be soothing and pleasant but not an acceptable substitute for loving, constructive action. Action conceived in truth, action dedicated to real needs, action that makes any problem slightly better speaks with hopeful volume.

NEMiss.News Steve Patterson and CHhicken

Steve Patterson and his beloved companion birddog, Chicken

Actually, it is a pretty simple concept used in Southern culture with great effect for many generations. Every Southern church lady understands that the action of making a cake or a pie or, especially, a casserole and delivering it to a grieving or sick family in need speaks louder than all the words in Mr. Webster’s book. We have always known that speaking words alone, no matter how sincere or eloquent, and then doing nothing, is not enough. Without action, words are of little benefit.

In recent days, we have heard a lot of empty, yet sincere, words. Our thoughts and prayers are indeed with all those impacted by the senseless killing of innocent little children and folks everywhere. Our attention has been especially drawn to the horrific slaughter of innocence in Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

We ask, “Why?” Over and over again we ask “Why?” Why were 19 precious little fourth grade children and two devoted heroic teachers slaughtered? Why? Why? What words can be said? Are there any powerful enough to ease the suffering, the fear, the hopelessness?

What actions would best demonstrate our love for one another? Words continue to fail us. We need a few casseroles!

Some say we need more mental health awareness. Most agree we need better access to mental health resources.  I agree. So why not bake a casserole filled with adequate dollars for mental health delivery and deliver it to the American people? Well, Democrats in Congress and in state houses tried that approach, and Republicans either blocked the bills or vetoed the bills in states with Republican Governors.

Others say we must improve architecture to make public places more secure and safer for use and enjoyment.  I agree.   Most folks, in fact, agree. Well, once again Democrats in state after state have offered this solution, but the casserole never gets cooked because of Republican obstructionists.

Many say guns are the problem. I say guns are definitely one of the problems. Folks, let’s face the facts and start telling the truth. We have a gun problem in this country! I’ve been around guns my entire life. I received a single barrel twenty-gauge Winchester shot gun on my tenth birthday. And before that, I was fairly proficient with BB guns and pellet rifles. Many a medicine bottle and fruit jar met their demise at my hand.

Over the years I’ve owned countless shotguns and hunting rifles made by manufacturers all around the world. I dare say I’ve shot more quail with a side -by-side double barrel fox shotgun than most anyone reading this article. I’ve hunted ducks, geese, deer, turkey, elk, and quail in 11 different states. I know a fair amount about guns. Especially hunting guns.

I also know I have no need or desire to ever own a gun that is designed solely to kill and maim people by the dozens in seconds. Those should be reserved for the military, law enforcement, and a “well regulated militia,” namely the national guard, as mentioned in the Second Amendment of the Constitution!

We need to bake a casserole that removes access to weapons of mass destruction from the recipe. Democrats, namely Joe Biden and Bill Clinton, did this in the 1990’s, and gun violence dropped by a whopping 47 percent, and rose again upon repeal by a startling 246 percent.

Alas, Republicans, who are bought and paid for by the NRA, once again were obstructionist and refused to renew the ban when it came up. Banning assault weapons should be the first layer of our lovingly baked casserole.

The second carefully prepared layer should be the love-adorned healthy, sensible ingredient of red flag laws that allow law enforcement to remove guns from anyone’s hands that families, churches, counselors, trained professionals, or law enforcement itself views as either a threat to society or to themselves.

Of course, none of this can be permissible without due process standards.

And, finally, our lovingly prepared casserole should contain the wholesome, easily digested ingredient of universal background checks. We require drivers licenses and drivers tests to drive an automobile; shouldn’t at lease the same standard be applied to owning and presumably operating a deadly weapon? Who among us really wants to keep violent criminals and crazed folks armed?  We require fishing licenses to go fishing, and that’s a good policy, but for God’s sake, isn’t licensing gun ownership equally as important? The casserole will never be lovingly delivered to a grieving America until the obstructionists, the oppressors have a change of heart.

So, I have a proposal. Let’s all unite in a loving spirt and send our thoughts and prayers to the do-nothing Republican obstructionists. Let us pray that they will loose themselves from the corrupt dollars of the gun lobby and have a change of heart that allows America to address a big problem with a lovingly baked casserole filled with good ole common sense.

Irma Garcia and Eva Mireles were the two teachers murdered by a mentally ill 18 year-old child using a military style assault weapon last week in Texas. They were killed desperately trying to protect 19 little fourth grade students. According to the New York Times, Mrs. Garcia was eventually found by officers “embracing children in her arms pretty much until her last breath.” Visions of that horrific scene are clear in my imagination and can never be unseen again. What if my Grandson were in that room? Or yours? No greater horror can be imagined. What Mrs. Garcia was doing is what others that knew her expected of her. She was protecting her Kids to the very end.

Only two days later, Mrs. Garcia’s husband John Garcia died of a broken heart, after a memorial service for his beloved wife. The couple is survived by four children ranging in age from 13 to 23.

It’s easy to pray for the Garcia family and the Mireles family, too. These two teachers were angels before the shooting and now have beautiful protective wings in heaven. Angels are easy to pray for, but do they really need our prayers? I don’t know, but it makes more sense to me to pray for those still with us who need it most. Those who need just an ounce of these angels’ courage to find divine inspiration to act.

America is a great country because we are problem solvers. Gun violence is indeed a problem that needs solving. There is a casserole filled with common sense solutions waiting to be prepared, and the American people eagerly await its delivery.

If young Afghan little girls can pray for their Taliban oppressors, if Church families in Charleston South Carolina can forgive and pray for a white supremacist that murdered their loved ones, we can surely pray for the Republican obstructionists to solve this problem.

Nineteen precious little souls needlessly perished in Uvalde, Texas. Which one of these angels could have saved the world? I say every single one had that potential. But we will never know, will we?

Angels don’t need my thoughts and prayers. Those among us who allow this carnage to continue do. From this day forward, dear Republican obstructionists, my thoughts and prayers are with you – we need a solution-filled casserole!

A Columbine survivor speaks out, encourages action over words: 




While only 16% of Americans support US military involvement in Ukraine, 45% say they would support establishing a “no-fly zone”. These two stances are contradictory. This is because defense sector-funded “experts” are lying to Americans about what a “no-fly zone” actually is and the dire consequences it could have.



“I do not know with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”

Until recently, I would have sworn that this was a direct quote from Albert Einstein. According to Snopes, however, Einstein likely never said precisely those words. Even if he did, he wasn’t the first to express this idea in similar terms. Regardless, most who are familiar with that quote incorrectly attribute it to Einstein.

And here I thought Al Gore invented the internet.

That false certainty relates in a way to the problem I want to address. When something is repeated often enough by people with sufficient perceived authority, it tends to become a “certainty” to most people.

For instance, in times of war, broadcast media will invite commentators with sufficient gravitas (former-Under Secretary So-n-So or Ret. Gen. Thus-n-Such) to present their views on the conflict. Before you know it, everyone from politicians to pundits to private citizens accepts these views as gospel. But do most of us know whence this gospel came? Do we know who presented it, or who they represent? Usually, the answer is either “No” or “Hell, no”. If you’re ready for a long read, you’ll get some of those answers here.

To war or not to war? Why not both?

A March 2, 2022, YouGov poll found that only 16% of Americans thought it was a good idea to send US troops to fight Russians in Ukraine. Over half (55%) thought this was a bad idea. However, a separate question on the same poll asked whether respondents supported the idea of establishing a “no-fly zone” over Ukraine. Nearly half of of Americans (45%) supported a no-fly zone, and only 20% thought it was a bad idea.

This is an odd contradiction, since a no-fly zone would necessarily involve the US military. It would also be an act of war, bringing us into direct conflict with Russia.

So how can Americans simultaneously embrace two incompatible points of view? The answer is that Americans are being woefully misled as to what a “no-fly zone” would actually mean. A more recent YouGov poll makes this quite clear. When asked about a “no-fly” zone in Ukraine, 59% supported it and 41% opposed it. But when asked if they would support a “no-fly” zone if it were seen as an act of war, only 38% supported it while 62% opposed it.

What is a no-fly zone anyway?

Various experts, media personalities and even politicians seem to be under the mistaken impression that a “no-fly zone” is some sort of gentleman’s agreement. The two sides shake hands and agree to play by the rules of the game. If a player violates one of the rules, the referee blows his whistle, and the offending player walks red-faced into the penalty box.

It’s giving me a headache, too.

It would be nice if it worked that way, but it doesn’t. A “no-fly zone” requires lethal enforcement. In Ukraine, that means that NATO or US forces must be ready to shoot down a Russian plane at a moment’s notice. Once that happens, welcome to World War III. Then it’s only a matter of time until nukes are flying over the North Pole in every direction.

If you doubt Russia’s ability to bring about a nuclear holocaust, have a listen to this.

The experts who are trying convince us that a no-fly zone in Ukraine would be anything less than the start of a global conflict are deliberately gaslighting the public. And they are doing it for very cynical reasons.

The hard sell

Last week, 30 “foreign policy experts” signed an open letter to President Biden, calling for a “limited humanitarian no-fly zone” in Ukraine. Many national politicians then seized on this “expert analysis” and called for a “no-fly zone” themselves. Trouble is that, in the real world, a “limited humanitarian” no-fly zone” vs. a “regular” no-fly zone is a distinction without a difference. These “experts” certainly know that. They should also understand the far-reaching consequences that any no-fly zone in Ukraine backed by the US or NATO would have.

Let’s look at recent media interviews with two of the people who signed that letter. Then we can dive into the reasons why they did it.

Philip Breedlove – retired 4-star Air Force General, former Supreme Commander of NATO in Europe

“Humanitarian” no-fly zone vs. “military” no-fly zone

In a March 3 NPR interview, Gen. Philip Breedlove called for a “humanitarian no-fly zone” in Ukraine. He argued that the mission of a “humanitarian” no-fly zone is fundamentally different to a “military” no-fly zone. But the distinction he offered is one of scope and purpose, rather than enforcement. In Breedlove’s terms, a “military” no-fly zone serves military objectives, while a “humanitarian” no-fly zone would serve humanitarian objectives.

Ret. Gen. Philip Breedlove.

In practice, however, a no-fly zone means being ready to shoot down any plane that violates it, whether it is in an active combat zone or not. Breedlove did at least acknowledge that a “military” no-fly zone, “is essentially an act of war” for that reason. Breedlove can call it a “humanitarian” no-fly zone all he wants. The fact is any no-fly zone is by definition a military no-fly zone.

Why should Putin view having one of his planes shot down in a “humanitarian” no-fly zone as any less of an act of war than if it happened in a “military” no-fly zone? To Putin, this distinction is meaningless and he will react accordingly. Whether we like it or not, in war, the enemy always gets a vote.

A “gamble” or a “calculated military decision”?

The interviewer, Sasha Pfeiffer, pressed Breedlove on a question that should be on everyone’s mind at this stage:

PFEIFFER: Would you still support the idea of a no-fly zone over Ukraine if you knew it would provoke Russia to use nuclear weapons?

BREEDLOVE: No. Nobody wants a nuclear war.

PFEIFFER: So then it’s a gamble to put a no-fly zone into effect.

BREEDLOVE: Yeah, that’s your word. That’s not the word I would use.

PFEIFFER: What word would you use?

BREEDLOVE: It’s a calculated military decision.

Unfortunately, Breedlove’s “calculation”, or justification, for his proposal appealed more to sentiment than good sense. Firstly, Breedlove goaded the listener by asking what “we in the West” are going to do about the plight of the Ukrainians. Secondly, Breedlove assured us that he is not a warmonger. His proof? He has children who are currently active-duty military personnel. I can think of a few things more cowardly than using your children as a shield against valid criticism, but not many.

Evelyn Farkas- former deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia

An ethical trap for Putin?

Last week, Evelyn Farkas also advocated for a “humanitarian no-fly zone” in Ukraine on NPR. Her presentation was every bit as forceful and emotionally-driven as Breedlove’s. Farkas also deployed an undeniable finesse and gift for sophistry that Breedlove was lacking.

Evelyn Farkas, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense.

In the days since Breedlove’s interview, Ukraine and Russia had agreed to create “humanitarian corridors” in Ukraine. Theoretically, these corridors allow civilians to safely evacuate a war zone. But each day, thousands of Ukrainians attempt to flee through these corridors, only to be shelled by Russian artillery. Therefore, Farkas proposed “limited humanitarian no-fly zones” that would be in effect only over these corridors.

Farkas downplayed the risk of this proposal by assuring us that Putin would not feel justified in retaliating if we were to shoot down one of his planes for violating one of these humanitarian corridors. It sounds like a clever “gotcha” for Putin, until you realize it’s utter nonsense.

We should all know by now that a powerful aggressor can justify anything. Farkas herself says, “Russia is not to be trusted”. So when Farkas asserts that Putin would humbly accept his losses due to some moral Catch-22, we can be sure that she’s bullshitting us.

“We need to help protect those people!” says Farkas.

Farkas cynically attempts to shut off our critical thinking skills by appealing to our basic human emotions: pity, outrage and pride.

Like a kid egging on a schoolyard fight, Farkas defiantly declares, “Putin doesn’t have the right to say what is war and what isn’t”. As much as it hurts our pride, I’ll say it again: the enemy always gets a vote.

Farkas also repeatedly alludes to the undeniably horrific situation Ukrainians are facing. She’s apparently so moved by the suffering of the Ukrainians that she’s willing to risk sparking a nuclear World War III. That caused me to wonder if Farkas had ever made such an impassioned appeal for, let’s say, the people of Yemen. After all, Saudi Arabia has been dropping American bombs on Yemeni civilians for 7 years, while starving them with a blockade (both war crimes, by the way). Surely Farkas must have had something to say about it! Well, according to my Google and LexisNexis searches, Farkas hasn’t said a word about the poor starving and bombed-out Yemenis. Nor, for that matter, has Gen. Breedlove.

That’s because those are American bombs being dropped in Yemen, which, from Farkas’ and Breedlove’s perspectives, is good! Whereas the fact that there are no American-made bombs dropping in Ukraine (yet) is not so good. That’s because both Farkas and Breedlove are humble servants of…

The shadowy underworld of Defense Think Tanks

A prestigious think tank can bestow an air of credibility and lofty objective reason to any point of view it generates. But when you look under the hood of these institutions, there is always an underlying agenda, and, usually, lots of money. In effect, think tanks are the ultimate deep state.

I guess some people do get paid to think.

By funding think tanks, donors buy access to the people who can make things happen for them- lofty public figures willing to trade on their reputations to manipulate the narrative in their favor. It’s basically like lobbying, but without all those pesky legal requirements to report where the money comes from and where it goes. Some think tanks publicly disclose their donors and some don’t, as we’ll see.

In the case of defense and foreign policy think tanks, a lot of that money comes from defense contractors like Boeing, Raytheon, Northrup Grumman, Booz Allen etc. It’s obviously a worthwhile investment for them, since Congress just approved $780 billion in defense spending, much of which will find its way to defense contractors.

I’ve gone through the list of the “experts” who signed that letter to Biden calling for a no-fly zone. Unsurprisingly, most of them are members of think tanks that are heavily funded by defense contractors. And many of the signers are illustrious enough to belong to more than one of these think tanks! We’ll start with Breedlove and Farkas.

Breedlove and Farkas’ defense contractor love fest

Gen. Breedlove, like many of the other signers of the “no-fly zone” letter, has ties to the Atlantic Council. The Atlantic Council is generally right-leaning and hawkish and boasts a wide array of corporate donors from the energy, finance, and defense sectors. Breedlove also works with the Center for a New American Security, whose most prominent donors are a “who’s who” of defense contractors. The Jamestown Foundation, another of Breedlove’s haunts, doesn’t even publish a donor list on its website. Watchdog organizations have called attention to this secrecy, as well as the Foundation’s alleged CIA links.

During Russia’s previous incursion into Ukraine in 2014, Breedlove attempted to push then-President Obama to escalate US military involvement in Ukraine. Breedlove was then Supreme Allied Commander for NATO in Europe.

Farkas was also once affiliated with the Atlantic Council.  At the time, she was actively lobbying the US government on behalf of Burisma (the Ukrainian oil company of Hunter Biden fame), which is an Atlantic Council donor.

The defense industry also donated generously to Farkas’ ill-fated 2020 run for Congress. Despite being the best-funded candidate, she finished third in the Democratic primary.

Currently, Farkas has ties to both the Council on Foreign Relations and the Aspen Institute, whose donors include defense contractors and their executives. She is also on the board of the Project 2049 Institute, which doesn’t currently list its donors publicly, although they did at one time. According to the corruption watchdog publication SludgeProject 2049’s donors included major defense contractors Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems. Project 2049’s founder Randall G. Schriver also has ties to Raytheon through his lobbying business.

Speaking of lobbying businesses, Farkas has (at least) one of her own – Farkas Global Strategies. I would love to see her client list.

So how prepared are you for a global apocalypse?

It’s completely normal and human to want to do something about what’s going on in Ukraine. But the thing to do is not to needlessly make the situation infinitely worse.

Jeff Bezos’ yacht has its own yacht. Seriously, look it up.

People like Farkas, Breedlove and the other “experts” calling for a no-fly zone in Ukraine have things that most of us don’t have that might increase their chances of survival when the nukes start flying. They have wealth, power and influence- and they have friends with even greater wealth, power and influence. The elite can hunker down, take refuge in bunkers deep in the earth, and wait out the worst of it. Or they might take to the seas on their mega-yachts, as some did at the height of the pandemic.

For most of us, there is nowhere to run or hide. I don’t care how well-prepared you think you are. Unless you have a steel-reinforced concrete bunker 20 ft. underground and enough canned food and bottled water to last you years, you’re toast.

The best thing you can do right now to ensure your and your family’s future survival is to call your senators and congressmen and tell them to cool it with the no-fly zone talk. Obviously, there’s not much we can do to influence what Putin will do. But whatever happens in Ukraine in the next several weeks or months, the world still has to be here in order to fix it.


Thanks for your time. If you want to learn more about the other signers of the “no-fly zone” letter, their think tanks and who funds them, click here.

– Liz Shiverdecker


Please share any comments, questions or thoughts in the Comments section below!

NEMiss.News Critical Race Theory textbook


“It appears that my worst fears have been realised: we have made progress in everything yet nothing has changed.” –Derrick Bell Steve Patterson and

Steve Patterson, who loves a good cigar.


How many have heard of “critical race theory”? Better yet, how many have the slightest notion as to what it really is? My bet is quite a few readers have at least encountered the term, but don’t have a clue as to what the so-called theory examines.

If you haven’t heard of “critical race theory,” you surely will. It is the centerpiece of the latest Republican-inspired scare tactic designed to frighten the public, create a scenario that outrages sensibilities by obscuring history, and creating alarming, ghastly rage over school curriculums. The sad and tragic fact is this nonsense has resonance with a large swath of the electorate. It recently had a huge impact in statewide elections in Virginia, leading to upset victories by otherwise underdog Republican candidates. Republicans in Oklahoma, Texas, Florida, and Tennessee are already in a frantic rush to pass legislation protecting children from the theory’s devastation. And the biggest circus barker of them all, Tucker Carlson, hyperbolically calls it a “poison” that will end civilization as we know it!

Anybody remember the Scopes Monkey Trial?

It’s the oldest trick in the demagogue’s play book. Scare the public about some nonexistent Demon and paint oneself as the only one capable of slaying the demon! It’s shameful, despicable, contemptible, loathsome, and abhorrent, and unfortunately effective! Warning: beware of self-professed demon slayers!

The only problem with this new “boogie man”(read demon) is that this obscure academic theory is not being taught in any Mississippi classroom, or for that matter in any elementary or secondary classroom in America, nor is it even being contemplated as being taught in those sacred spaces! So, it’s obviously, once again, a solution looking for a problem that does not exist. In other words, it’s a grotesque, despicable political ploy designed to outrage the public by appealing to irrational bigotry, prejudices, and unfounded fear of historical truth. Yet, Republicans all across America insist on weaponizing this little-known and scarcely understood academic construct for their own benefit.

It’s all undeniably rubbish! Putrid rubbish, in my estimation. And, oh, BTW, thundering hordes of violent, machete-bearing Hispanics are not gathering on the southern border planning a bloody assault on American soil, either. Nor is JFK, Jr., soon to be resurrected to endorse Donald Trump, as some crackpots incredibly believe! And, no, Covid is not a Jewish plot created by Bill Gates! It’s all incredibly insane rubbish! Who comes up with these things? Good question, but I have an idea.

The CRT plot follows an age-old marketing gimmick wherein only Republican ”patriots” stand resolute against this obscure academic theory that allegedly threatens to corrupt our children’s innocent minds. Mississippi’s Governor Tate Reeves and House Speaker Phillip Gunn have both already sounded the alarm and started fanning the flames of fear in language reminiscent of 1960’s segregationists. They have both vowed to ban the consideration of this mysterious theory in all public schools.

In obedience to those goals, the Senate recently passed legislation purporting to ban the teaching of “critical race theory” in all public-school curriculums, including state universities and community colleges. Actually, the measure just says that nobody can teach that any person is inferior to another in areas of race, religion, sex, etc. In my view, this legislation is, on its face, an unconstitutional assault on academic freedoms. But, what’s the Constitution, when we’ve got to protect the innocent minds of our children from these radical academic notions? The Senator who introduced the legislation couldn’t even define “critical race theory,” but nevertheless, it is a threat to be banished? Hmmm.

In today’s environment, I wonder if those whose names are on the ballot can muster the courage to stand up to this hogwash. Leadership requires courage, but political suicide ensures that one will never be the leader. As for me, I would not stand with those who perpetrate such a dishonorable notion, especially at the same time real problems demanding honest leadership go unaddressed! Sadly, however, I well understand the sway bigotry, fear, race, and rage still hold in my beloved state, and I won’t be surprised to see how others react.

So what exactly is “critical race theory? What are its origins? And what does it ask our individual intellects to contemplate?

NEMiss.News Da Bell, Critical Race Theory originator

David Bell, originator of Critical Race Theory

“Critical race theory,” simply put, is an academic theory organized over 30 years ago among legal scholars that holds that race is a social, not scientific, construct and offers a framework for studying and understanding the role of systemic racism in the law and the development of public policy in historical context. It is taught, if at all, in law schools, and perhaps a select few graduate seminars in sociology and political science departments. Not in high schools and certainly not in elementary curriculums!

Our modern desire to gain immediate expertise on complicated issues like “critical race theory” by simply glancing at headlines, listening to partisan talking heads on television, or reading expansive Facebook postulating does not work with issues of this gravity. “Critical race theory” is not a simple idea, which is why it’s in law school or select graduate studies. Plus, it requires critical thinking, and that’s in short supply these days, especially in the Mississippi Legislature.

An article published last year in the American Bar Association Journal does as good a job as anything I have read describing the theory and explaining how it might be examined in an educational setting. The article titled ”A Lesson on Critical Race Theory” is lengthy, but well worth reading. I encourage anyone who is intellectually curious or particularly agitated at the concept of “critical race theory” to read this article before developing an opinion as to the theory’s merits. Trust me, there is no simple, sound-byte-way to fully understand the huge body of evidence supporting the theory.

The man behind critical race theory, as detailed in a New Yorker article, is a former Harvard Law School professor named Derrick Bell. Professor Bell was an accomplished civil rights lawyer before spending his later years in academia. His original thoughts, which eventually were dubbed “critical race theory,” advanced the idea that civil rights legal victories, the promises contained and guaranteed in the U S Constitution and civil rights legislation, had little practical impact on American racial discriminatory practices. The reason for this, according to Bell, is that racism is embedded in our legal public policy constructs (oftentimes unintentionally) and institutions. In other, more simple words: systemic racism.

Does systemic racism exist? Well, my life experiences teach me it most definitely does. After almost 50 years of involvement in public policy development and surviving and at times prospering in the economy of the state with the largest proportion of Black population in the nation, I am witness to systemic racism. Almost daily. As a banker, I saw it with the deplorable practice of “Red Lining” and prohibitions to making loans in geographic areas where African Americans lived.

I even witnessed the objections to public kindergartens that called the idea a baby-sitting service for Blacks. I would have to be blind not to see it at work in jury selections, incarceration rates, gerrymandering of congressional and legislative districts, and refusals to adequately fund poorly funded public-school districts. And make no mistake, Mississippi’s refusal to expand Medicaid makes no sense without racism!

History is indeed replete with both benign neglect and purposefully aimed examples of institutional racial discrimination. It’s systemic throughout our history.

Yes, racism is real. Yet the cynical Neanderthals in charge of public policy in the nation’s poorest and most diverse state spend their time stoking fears and prohibiting even the discussion of an obscure academic theory that attempts to better understand our biggest problems.

Banning “critical race theory” is nothing more than a political charade. A distraction reminiscent of cynical political tactics of the past. Remember the so-called “war on Christmas”? Or how about “sharia law is being implemented” or gay wedding cakes? There are no words, at least none I dare use in this space, to describe the cynicism of those who employ these transparent manipulations, or the gullibility of those that fall prey to the charade and let them get by with it!

One would think that with our planet on fire, Covid raging, Democracy itself under attack, hospitals in crisis, schools in turmoil and bullets flying around our children’s heads in the streets, caring leaders would not actually contend that some obscure academic theory poses the largest threat to our children.

But, alas, that would require thinking about someone other than themselves, an ethos in short supply at the Capitol today.

The year 2021 evokes what Dickens wrote 163 years ago in Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”


Northeast Mississippi was rocked New Year’s day, 2021, by the disappearance, perhaps the demise, of a not-well-known young woman named Jessica Stacks, age 28.

The year ended with the death of a beloved, gorgeous woman named Betty White, age 99, in her own words a “lucky old broad.” We find nothing to indicate Betty White was ever in Mississippi. However, her presence during 70 years on our television screens here and throughout America treated all of us to a buoyant and charming life. Her death, just 17 days short of her 100th birthday, was announced in California New Year’s Eve.

In between the first and last days of 2021, the dominant topic here and around the world was the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.

As of this New Year’s Day, 847,000 Americans have died of COVID, more than twice as many Americans as died in World War II (405,399). Mississippi has the highest rate of deaths per million population of all 50 states. Several factors have made us number one in this dismal category: a public health system that has been neglected and underfunded for decades; poor leadership from the governor; too many Mississippians not vaccinated against COVID.

Alabama is in second place in COVID deaths per million residents and for the same reasons.

Municipal elections were held in most Mississippi towns this year. In Tupelo, businessman Todd Jordan was elected mayor, succeeding attorney Jason Shelton, who served two terms and did not run for re-election. Janet Gaston and Rosie Jones were newly elected as members of the Tupelo City Council. Former FBI Agent John Quaka was appointed as Tupelo’s new chief of police.

In New Albany Tim Kent was re-elected as mayor. Kent has thus been elected for five consecutive terms, a record unprecedented in modern times. Parks Smith and Drew Horn were elected to their first terms on the New Albany Board of Aldermen. Both replaced incumbents who did seek re-election.

Jessica Stacks was lost to us one year ago today.

Back briefly to the story that drew the most readers to NEMiss.News: Jessica Stacks was said to have gotten into a small boat with a male companion on the flooded Tallahatchie River New Year’s day morning. Her male companion, Jerry Wayne Baggett, told authorities that Stacks asked to get out of the boat onto the northern bank of the river after the boat had been in the water only a short while. Baggett said Stacks was going to try to walk through the flooded river bottom to Highway 30, about a mile away.

She was not reported missing until late New Year’s Day night.

State and local public safety workers made an exhaustive search for Stacks using state-of-the-art electronic equipment, helicopters, cadaver dogs, spending literally thousands of man hours trying to find Stacks. They found a coat Stacks was said to have been wearing but little else in the way of useful evidence.

The story of the disappearance of Jessica Stacks has attracted hundreds of thousands of readers from around the United States, Europe and Asia.

Public safety officials received dozens of “tips” about where her body might be. It was a major topic on Facebook and social media. But none of the tips produced any usable evidence.

Psychics and other amateur detectives had countless theories about her disappearance.

Union County Sheriff Jimmy Edwards told NEMiss.News New Year’s Eve that his office received information during the last month claiming that Stacks’s body was in a deep cistern/well in the western part of Union County. Authorities searched the well with underwater cameras with no results. Then they pumped all the water out of the 30-foot-deep cistern and still found nothing to indicate her body had ever been in the well.

Betty White had a happier life and died after 80 years as one of America’s favorite entertainers. She was an early star of television in the 1950s, playing characters that were sometimes described as “sickening sweet.”

When she was past 70 years of age, she “re-made” herself as a sexy, naughty “old broad” and achieved success that far exceeded that of her earlier career. She once said her secret to a long life was vodka and hot dogs. Her smile will always be something to recall on days when we are blue.

On a happy note, on this New Year’s Day, The Ole Miss Rebels will play Baylor University’s Bears in the Sugar Bowl.

Steve Patterson, our good friend and one of the best writers we know, sent us these two original sentences New Year’s Eve morning:

“And now we mark a new year filled with hopes and dreams and wonder and things that have never been! Happy New Year!!


–        J. W. Shiverdecker



Please share any thoughts, comments or questions in the Comments section below!


This is one of our favorites of Steve Patterson’s several columns for NEMiss.News. Our readers responded favorably when it was first published six years ago.

Merry Christmas!


Editor’s Note:  Great energy and a good education; success both in business and public service; family and countless friends; financial security; deep Christian faith– Steve Patterson had an abundant measure of the good life. Then an unpleasant and unexpected turn of events, during which he had the most memorable Christmas of his life. This is his third column for NEMiss.News.


It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ‘till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.                                                                                                                                                                -Dr. Seuss

There has been only one Christmas, one Christmas season, one Christmas week, one Christmas Eve, one Christmas Day and one Christmas Night.  All the others are mere ancillary celebrations of the one blessed night which took place over two thousand years ago in the unlikely, out-of-the-way, unimportant village of Bethlehem in a shabby, stinky stable.

If you had been a casual observer standing outside that dark, damp stable in Bethlehem on that first Christmas Night, you would have seen two poor, exhausted souls, Mary and Joseph, as they dragged themselves toward the stable.  You would have immediately recognized that these two raggedly dressed people had no influence, no prestige, and certainly no political power.  Plus, they were Jews – a conquered and despised people in that region at the time.  You wouldn’t believe that anything of significance could happen in this dimly lit stable.  After all, everything of importance happened in Rome, or Athens, or Jerusalem – not in tiny Bethlehem.  All the important stuff was done by the rich, the educated, the famous, the politically connected.  What you saw here was just two poor nobodies in a barn.  The British playwright and sometimes poet, Christopher Fry, captured the situation eloquently:

The darkest time in the year

The poorest place in town;

Cold, and a taste of fear; 

Man and woman alone;

What can we hope for here?

Hold on.  Wait a minute.  Let’s look again.  Something has been left out of the picture: God.  Most situations look bleak when we leave God out of the picture.  But, insert God into what you are witnessing and the picture suddenly changes dramatically.  Add the father of us all, the God of all creation, to the scene; a God intent on revealing himself to all of humanity through the gift of his own son, born in a shabby stable, and a vastly different picture emerges, indeed.  Look for God and you will see the scene change from a hopeless, ordinary, uneventful situation into a prodigious event that becomes the incarnation of God, himself.  The light of the world is born in that bleak barn.  The good news of Jesus’ birth changes all of undeserving humanity forever.  Rejoice as Christopher Fry describes that blessed first Christmas night:

What can we hope for here?

More light than we can learn;

More wealth than we can treasure;

More love than we can earn;

More peace than we can measure;

Because one child is born.

God is sometimes revealed in unlikely places through unlikely people.  The child born in that little stable is not only the good news of Christmas, but the best news the world will ever know.  This was no ordinary child.  This child was God’s gift to us all.  Through this little newborn baby, God gave us the gift of himself; his love, his mercy, and the gift of an abundant and everlasting life.  In this child, born in that humble stable, God revealed himself to us, reconciled us to himself, and enabled us to live as his children and as heirs to his Kingdom.

That’s the gloriously good news of Christmas: not that we love God but that he loves us!  We know that to be true because of the cosmic event that took place in that unimportant village called Bethlehem, in that dark, damp stable, where the word became flesh and dwelt among us.  The first epistle of John, fourth chapter, verses nine and ten confirm it best: “In this love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent his only begotten son into the world, that we might live through him, in this love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his son to be propitiation for our sins.”  That is why we sing “Joy to the world, the Lord has come!”  The message of Christmas is indeed good news.  Good news that came from a most unlikely place, at a most unlikely time, among most unlikely people.


I think we’re going to have an exceptionally good Christmas. The very fact that outward circumstances precludes our making provision for it will show whether we can be content with what is truly essential. I used to be very fond of thinking up and buying presents, but now that we have nothing to give, the gift God gave us in the birth of Christ will seem all the more glorious…. The poorer our quarters, the more clearly we perceive that our hearts should be Christ’s home on earth.                                         – Dietrich Bonhoeffer (writing his fiancé from prison)

Let’s fast forward two thousand plus years to Maxwell Air Force Base Federal Prison Camp.  It is the week of the anniversary celebration of that first Christmas.  I don’t have to imagine it. I was really there, as an involuntary guest of the federal government.  I was an ordinary inmate just like the twelve hundred or so others who had paid reservations of varying lengths.

It was fittingly cold and dreary when I heard my name called over the prison intercom summonsing me to the prison chapel.  This was usually not good news.  Most of the time it meant something bad had occurred at home: a death in the family, an accident, or some other unexpected event so horrible that only a man of God could be the bearer of the news.  My heart raced as I made that long, lonely walk across the prison yard toward the chapel.

Upon my arrival, I was politely greeted by Chaplain Carl Fisher and ushered into his private office.  My heart pounded, and my hands began to tremble.  Chaplain Fisher abruptly said “Steve, calm down.  There is nothing wrong.”

Then, as the blood rushed back into my face, he continued, “It is the tradition here at Maxwell Prison Camp that an inmate be chosen to deliver the Christmas Eve message, and the Chapel staff – and inmates themselves – would like to ask you to deliver that message.”

Relieved, flattered, and delighted, I immediately and eagerly agreed to do it.  While I had filled the pulpit a few times in the Chaplain’s absence before, he advised me that the Christmas Eve service was not the ordinary Chapel gathering.

“It will be the best attended service of the year by both staff and inmates,” he said.  “It is always a special time.  Trust me.  You’ve never experienced anything like it.”

The chapel staff requested that we be allowed to have a midnight Christmas Eve service, like those observed on the outside. That small request was denied by the warden, but a special concession was made to hold the service at nine o’clock at night.  Chaplain Fisher instructed me to arrive a little early.  Naturally, I obliged.

This spot, marked by a silver star with 14 points, is said by tradition to be the exact place where Mary gave birth to Jesus It is in the Grotto (cave) of the Nativity under the fourth-century Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

This spot, marked by a silver star with 14 points, is said by tradition to be the exact place where Mary gave birth to Jesus. It is in the Grotto (cave) of the Nativity under the fourth-century Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

Two nights later, I entered the Chapel through the front door around 8:30, as the prison choir sang “Go Tell It on the Mountain.”  This almost entirely African-American choir was accompanied by a piano, organ, bass guitar, drums, and one alto saxophone.  For the next hour, the choir steadily increased its tempo as several hundred inmates began to fill the pews and finally spill out into the prison yard.  Soon, the entire crowd was clapping, dancing, and singing along full-throated with the choir in joyous anticipation of the child that had been born millennia before in that damp stable in Bethlehem.

The scene was like nothing I had ever witnessed.  Had you been there, you undoubtedly would have agreed.  Hope, optimism, and good news was abundantly flowing from this most unlikely place, at this unlikely time, from these unlikely people.  God had entered the picture!

As the crowd reached its crescendo and finally took its seat, Chaplain Fisher approached the pulpit, made a few welcoming remarks, and introduced the special music for the evening: an inmate and cousin of Gregg Allman of the acclaimed Allman Brothers Band!  He had composed a special song for the occasion, titled “A Letter to Mother at Christmas.”  At the conclusion of his stirring performance, there was not a dry eye to be found.

Chaplain Fisher then made a few announcements, instructed the staff to distribute candles to all the inmates, which would be used at the conclusion of the service, and made a brief introduction of  me.

As I surveyed the assembled congregation, I could not help but think of how society would view us all.  Broken vessels, outcasts from society, separated from our families and former lives, felons, failures, losers, criminals, a bunch of nobodies with questionable pasts and doubtful futures.  Nothing good could possibly come from this most unlikely of places, right?  That conventional view leaves one important element out of the equation: God, and his unfailing grace and gift of redemption.


I was about to deliver one of the most important messages of my life. No political speech, policy presentation or layman’s devotional could hold a candle to presenting the hope of God to a room full of prison inmates and their guards.

I knew many of the faces before me.  A good number of them, I was convinced were unequivocally innocent of what they had been charged with and found guilty of.

Others were guilty by their own admission, and had much to repent and learn.

Regardless of our innocence or guilt, we had all travelled through an amazingly dysfunctional criminal judicial system filled with paradoxical contradictions, where the truth often seemed of scant importance.  Nonetheless, we would always be viewed as felons.  But failures, losers, and nobodies?  No way!  The sure grace of a loving God who gave his Son in that unlikely stable more than two thousand years before took care of that.  Hope was born on that night, and will never die because of the event that took place in that stable on that blessed night.

As is my custom, I began my sermon by telling a couple of humorous stories from my life experience and reading a scripture from each testament, old and new.  The old testament text was one that I had preached from several times before: Micah 6:8, which states “He has shown you, oh man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”  The prophet Micah lived about seven hundred years before Mary and Joseph entered that stable; and it was Micah who had foretold that the glorious event would take place in the unlikely village of Bethlehem.

Micah was a country boy who spoke in blunt, plain language.  He loved the common man and hated corrupt politicians.  One might say Micah was a prophet of social reform.  In fact, the entire book of Micah is primarily a condemnation of religious and political leaders who use their authority to take advantage of the powerless.  I figured this was a pretty good basis for reaching a group of imprisoned men.

I began the message by asking “What does God want from us at Christmas time?  What present can we give our Lord this year?  We have no money.  We have no freedom.  There is little we can do.  Is there anything we can give someone who not only has everything, but actually made everything?  How can we felons bring a smile to the face of the father of us all?”

The answer is simple.  What God wants from us, what he requires of us, he has already given to us: the child born in that little stable in Bethlehem.  He came to establish justice.  He came to show mercy.  He came to lift up the humble.

Justice is an illusory concept to many of us, I said, considering our current predicament.  If you want to please God, be just, even if justice has been denied you.  How do we do that?  Our instructions come from the “Light of the World” born on Christmas night: care for the poor, remember the widows, the orphans, and the prisoners, refrain from cheating, extortion, bribery, and lying, and refuse to take advantage of the less fortunate.  And, oh yeah, one more thing: love one another as he loves us.

To please God, we must show mercy, I said.  We all need and yearn for mercy every day.  On the day we were sentenced to this place, we all wished – and, I bet, prayed – for mercy.  Society does not freely show mercy, but the one born on this night more than two thousand years ago does, and he calls upon us to follow a simple, merciful rule: do unto others as we would have others do unto us.  God gave us the great gift of mercy, and we show our gratitude by giving it back to him.

The very best gift we can give God is to walk humbly with him, I said.  I think it was at this point that I bore down with my most passionate oratory.

“There is one thing – and one thing alone, I shouted – that ultimately matters: God’s opinion of you and me.  The world’s opinion does not matter.  God’s opinion is all that matters.  Any accolade, compliment, praise, honor, humiliation, criticism, put-down, lie, or disappointment we receive from the world means nothing in the eyes of our Father.  Walk humbly with God.  For, he walks with you!”


I continued by referencing an Easter resurrection message rather than an Advent message.  My goal was to show the glory of God’s gift to us from birth, life, death, and resurrection.  I chose the short, but oh so sweet text of Mark 16:4, which states “But, when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away, for it was very large!”

“The child whose birth we celebrate tonight,” I reminded my fellow inmates, “still rolls away the stones in our lives no matter how large they may be.”

Faith in Prison...public domain image

Faith in Prison…public domain image

The stones of hardened hearts can be rolled away by this Christ Child.  The stones of greed, selfishness, and love of money can be rolled away.  Drug and alcohol addiction stones crumble at his command.  Whatever stone stands in your way can be rolled away by the one born in that dirty stable in Bethlehem.  This child opens the door from the outside.  We hope.  We pray.  We wait.  But, the door must be opened from the outside to set us free.  THIS is the good news of Christmas.  This Christ child rolls away the stones no matter how large and opens doors to all who open their hearts to him.  This is why we sing, “Go tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere.  Go tell it on the mountain that Jesus Christ is born!”

The service proper was concluded with a brief prayer by another inmate, but it was far from over.  As we began to light the candles, the crowd spontaneously started to hum a slow version of “Amazing Grace.”  The emotional impact of the service hardly subsided as we slowly made our way back to our sleeping quarters.

As a rule, evenings in prison are loud, boisterous affairs complete with childish horseplay, joke-telling, board games, and the familiar sound of shuffling cards – general frivolity and noisy fun.  On this night, however, silence prevailed.  In fact, it was eerily quiet as most lay silently in their bunks.  No doubt many were dreaming of home, perhaps reflecting upon the service, and recognizing the specialness of the night we had just shared in celebration of the most blessed of events – the birth of Christ.  It was indeed a silent, holy night in that prison camp.


As an outside observer, you may think nothing good could possibly come from a federal prison camp.  I write this column to tell you how misguided such an assumption would be.  I have personal knowledge of great contributions to God’s Kingdom that have emerged from these unlikely places and unlikely people.  Chuck Colson left this unlikely place and established one of the most important evangelical movements ever, through his prison ministries organization.  Richard Scruggs’ “Second Chance” GED program here in Mississippi had its genesis at Maxwell Federal Prison Camp.  Great works of art and literature have arisen from these unlikely places as well, including “Sanctuary of Outcasts,” by Mississippi’s own Neil White.  Countless public health advocates, children advocates, gospel missionaries, and environmental activists have emerged from these unlikely places, all having one thing in common: they sought justice, loved mercy, and walked humbly with God, and the stones were rolled away!

When ole Hank Williams – hardly a soul un-dipped in sin – wrote one of the greatest Christian songs of all time, “I Saw the Light,” the “light” he sang about was the same as that first shown in the dim stable in Bethlehem.  That light continues to shine all over the world and in some unlikely places – slums, bars, jails, and even federal prison camps.  Like Hank, many hurt and hopeless people have been blessed to truthfully sing,  “Praise the Lord. I saw the light!”

I pray that the Light shines upon you and yours this Christmas season, wherever you may be.  As for me, my best Christmas ever took place in that federal prison.  Separated from my past, hardly in control of my present, and unable to even dream of my future, it was just me and the fellowship of other broken vessels.  The hope of the Word that became flesh in that tiny Bethlehem stable was all that I had, and I realized for the first time that it was all – and more – than I needed.

Yes, my very best Christmas took place in prison — as unlikely a setting as the first Christmas, don’t you think?

Merry Christmas.

NEMiss.News Brandon Presley at Union Co. Courthouse


By Bobby Harrison, Mississippi Today

Republished with permission


Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley cited the red letters in the Bible (those of Jesus) as he spoke of the need to use some of the billions in Mississippi’s federal funds to ensure all Mississippians have access to high speed internet and safe public water systems.

Presley, speaking this week in Jackson, cited studies indicating people suffering from addictions during the COVID-19 pandemic had a much better chance to succeed if they could access online counseling.

Presley said he is not saying a good internet connection will end the problem of addiction, “but I am saying if we believe the red letters in the good book, there ought to be enough of us to say we care about putting those tools in our people’s hands…

“We have to make sure as Mississippians we continue to love and care for the unborn, but care also for the born and those who are struggling in life.”

Presley can relate to the average Mississippian, especially rural residents, like few modern politicians. His father was murdered when he was young, and he’s spoken of periods when his family didn’t have water or electricity because his mother couldn’t afford to pay the bills.

He can speak in everyday terms about complicated public utility regulatory issues he deals with as a Public Service commissioner and how those issues impact people.

Because of those communication skills and his ability to easily win what is likely the most Republican of the three Public Service Commission districts, Presley is often touted as something the Mississippi Democratic Party is short of: an attractive statewide candidate.

In 2019, four-term Attorney General Jim Hood was believed to be that person. Yet he could garner only 47% of the vote in losing to Republican Tate Reeves.

“I think Brandon could be a good candidate,” said former state House Democratic leader David Baria, who ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate in 2018. “But I thought Jim Hood was a good candidate. I’ve been chasing for some time what Democrat could win statewide.”

Presley has toyed with running for a statewide post in the past, but has ultimately returned to the safety of re-election to the Public Service Commission. There will be pressure in 2023 for him to be the Democrat to step forward to challenge the Republican nominee for governor — whether it be Reeves or someone else.

In recent years, some white statewide candidates have struggled to earn the trust and support of Black Mississippians, who make up more than two-thirds of the Democratic Party’s voter base. Presley, however, has worked intentionally for years to build relationships among Black leaders from the local to federal levels.

State Rep. John Hines, D-Greenville, said he believes Presley would have strong support from members of the Legislative Black Caucus if he ran for statewide office.

“If Brandon does run for governor, he would be good. He has the heart, the concerns and compassion for the people of Mississippi. He wants people to have access to opportunities,” Hines said.

In the fall of 2003, Presley, then a 25-year-old mayor, met at the Tupelo airport with Gov. Ronnie Musgrove, his campaign staffers and the small group of reporters covering Musgrove’s ultimately unsuccessful re-election bid.

Presley served as one of the hosts as Musgrove campaigned in various locations in northeast Mississippi.

The political novice, in his second year as mayor of Nettleton, which straddles the Lee and Monroe counties border, regaled Musgrove’s staffers and reporters as he would mimic Musgrove’s high-pitched voice and then the deep, slow southern drawl of Musgrove’s Republican opponent Haley Barbour.

But Presley also would provide political insight saying the election was pivotal as it would determine political control of the state for years to come. He said a Musgrove defeat would spell the end of the line for a long time for Democrats as a ruling party in Mississippi.

The 25-year-old was prophetic. Republicans now control all aspects of state government, holding all eight statewide elected posts and maintaining supermajorities in both chambers of the Legislature. On the state level, there is nothing that Republicans do not control.

Presley, now 233 pounds lighter, no longer does impersonations, at least not in public. On occasion he has displayed a respectable singing voice. After all, he is related to another northeast Mississippi native, Elvis Presley.

“I’m a Merle Haggard Democrat,” Presley has joked.

He also is non-committal when asked about his political future.

“That log will shake itself out between now and election year,” Presley said recently on Mississippi Today’s The Other side podcast.

In the coming months, perhaps when annual campaign finance reports are filed in January, Presley’s political future could become clearer — as well as whether he might be aiming to reverse that political trend he predicted would happen way back in 2003.

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NEMiss.News Thankful for digging ditches


Manual labor is considered low value work. Digging ditches may be the lowest of the low. Dirty work. Parents urge their children to “get an education, so you won’t end up digging ditches.”

I have never understood that. I grew up in a family of farmers in Callaway County, Missouri. For my father, my uncles, most of my cousins, and for me, manual labor was part of everyday life. None of us considered it undignified. In fact, we looked down upon people who were unwilling to work with their hands.

Even members of my family who owned a great deal of good farmland, big herds of livestock and nice comfortable homes, prosperous people, thought nothing of getting their hands dirty, shoveling manure out of barnyards, digging post holes with a human-powered device with two long wooden handles, and so forth. We “bucked” hay bales, 40 – 60 pounds each, throwing them onto flatbed trucks or wagons, then stacking them in barn lofts, where the temperature regularly exceeded 120 degrees under a tin roof in July. It was a regular part of life.

During high school, many of us hired out on hay hauling crews. We earned two cents a bale, cash of course, and at the end of the summer it amounted to what was, for teenagers at that time, a nice little pile of money. Those who played high school sports were in condition to push around the town boys who had been lying about the country club all summer, swimming, playing golf and tennis. A few of the town boys got smart and hired on as hay hands. Some of them held up to it fine.

All of this was, of course, a long time ago. The family farms were bought up by Union Electric Company of St. Louis in the 1970s. UE built a big nuclear power plant with a hundred-foot concrete cooling tower more-or-less in the middle of 3,600 acres my great-great-great grandfather had received as a government grant in 1816.

UE pulls water out of the Missouri River two miles away to keep the thing from overheating and blowing up.

Progress. No one of my family actually farms any more. A few own farms, but they put the land into government programs that produce a little cash or tax write offs or both. The land of course grows in value.

As in North Mississippi, dirty manual labor is pretty much a thing of the past for most people in Callaway County.

Although I’ve never made a living at it, I have never entirely broken the habit of digging in the dirt. Maybe a genetic thing.

Recently, my wife and I bought a house, which we are renovating. The previous owner had neglected the property, including allowing the lawn around the house to “degrade” as lawns may do over time, with multiple layers of grass clippings, poorly maintained gutters and so forth. The house has a “conventional” foundation, so water had pooled under the house, causing dry rot in some of the timbers.

A few weeks ago, a carpenter and crew spent several days repairing the damage, replacing some floor joists and timbers with “treated” lumber.

Having spent a good deal of money on that, we didn’t want the water to keep running under the house. We needed to repair the grading and dig some trenches, so water would run away from the building, not back under it.

I decided to dig the ditches myself. The ditches didn’t need to be very wide or deep and will eventually amount to less than a hundred feet in total length. I got a couple of shovels out of my tool shed, one of which I believe my father used 80 or more years ago.

Before going any further I should mention that I have been treated for congestive heart failure for 25 years. I have a related problem with an irregular heartbeat, probably congenital. I have been cared for by two cardiologists, Dr. W. B. Calhoun, Jr. and Dr. James E. Stone, of Cardiology Associates in Tupelo. Bo Calhoun and Jim Stone and their associates have done close to 20 total hours of heart surgery and procedures on me during those 25 years. Two years ago, Jim installed the fourth implantable cardio-defibrillator (ICD) in my upper left chest; the first three had worn out.

My family and friends told me I had “no business out there digging ditches.” Calhoun and Stone, however, basically told me not to “overdo it,” and reminded me that my ICD limits my heart to not more than 72 beats per minute.

So, I dig slowly. Dig for 15-20 minutes, then rest for 20-30 minutes to give my heart time to catch up. It has taken a month of digging and resting to accomplish the 70 or so feet of ditches I have dug.

As ditch digging goes, it’s not pretty work. One ditch runs directly perpendicular to the street, so is noticeably crooked. (I recall my Uncle Clifford telling the story of my grandfather making him and two mules plow under and re-plant five acres of corn, when the the bright green little corn shoots came up in crooked rows. S. P. Shiverdecker was mortified that his neighbors might observe such work in one of his fields.)

However, on this Thanksgiving Day I am profoundly thankful that I have been able, nearing my 74th birthday, to do my little bit of manual labor, digging my little ditches, imperfect as they are.

I am thankful for the health that I do have. I am thankful for Bo Calhoun, Jim Stone, Todd Sandroni and all the others at Cardiology Associates. I am thankful for all those smart boys and girls, who work as electrical engineers at Boston Scientific and elsewhere, designing the electronic devices that give me, in significant part, an artificial heart.

I am thankful for a great wife and daughter, for friends, for plenty to eat, a library full of books, a comfortable home, for having all I need and more.

And I am thankful for my little dab of getting my hands dirty digging ditches. Not much water is running under that old house on this rainy Thanksgiving Day, 2021.




BY: Kendall C. Stancil

Just like when finding a partner for a relationship, we have also become accustomed to having our smart devices compatible. Since the fast advance of technology, we have become reliant on being able to share information between our phones, computers, tablets and even our TVs. With this technology, which is constantly evolving, comes the software updates.

If you are an owner of Apple, Inc. devices you have experienced these updates all too often. Over the years these software updates have led to older devices or older generations no longer being able to update or be compatible with running the current operation or newer software.

Being the owner of Apple, Inc. devices, I have an older MacBook Pro and an Iphone 12 Max Pro. The recent IOS 15.1.1 update left me a bit worried after my Notepad App on my phone was not sharing updates to the Notepad App on my computer. For Apple users, the Notepad App is simple and convenient to use while on the go and working with multiple devices. You can be with a client downtown and scan a document with your phone, and it will be available on your desktop by the time you return home.

Since my phone is set to automatic install of new software updates, it usually takes care of such tasks over night while I sleep.

Recently, I woke up I went about my daily routine of meetings. When I returned to my studio to work, none of my notes and documents had appeared on my computer screen. When troubleshooting, I was getting a “non-compatible” message due to the IOS 15 software on the phone. Once again, fear struck.

I thought of the possibility that my MacBook had reached its point of no longer being supported by new software. So, I took to the internet to see if there was a solution to the problem. As luck would have it, there was. With an afternoon spent updating and installing, I was able to resolve the issue, or at least it seems to be resolved. Time will tell.

The recent IOS 15 software update ended Apple’s support for devices with the A9 chip. This included the Iphone 6, Iphone 6 plus and the Iphone SE. I Pads, including the IPad mini 4 (2015), IPad Air 2 (2014), IPad 5 (2017), also will no longer be supported by IOS 15.

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