A trip to the tiny town of Lone Star, SC, is a journey not so much into the past, but into oblivion.
The unincorporated community, located in Calhoun County just a few miles from Lake Marion, is just a few notches above ghost town status.
Its downtown, once a bustling small-town locale, now features four abandoned buildings: An old freight depot, a general store and two old-style gas stations. Nearby is an active African Methodist Church. A few homes and cotton farms can be seen in the surrounding area.
Lone Star was on the old Atlantic Coast Line Railroad, between Rimini and Creston, another pair of communities that are all but gone.
The railroad line, now owned by CSX, still runs through the town, but there’s no longer any need to stop in Lone Star.
It’s apparent that the freight depot at some point was pulled away from the tracks and relocated on the other side of the road that runs through the town.
It sits silent, padlocked, with a sign that warns visitors that “Hunting, fishing, trapping or trespassing for any purpose is strictly forbidden,” and that violators will be prosecuted.
Over the past few years a variety of commentators have questioned the need for a college education.
Skyrocketing tuition costs and an increased demand for jobs that don’t require a college degree are often cited as reasons to consider skipping the university experience.
And while college certainly isn’t for everyone, overall it’s a poor bet financially to skip the higher education route.
According to the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey, in 2011 the median income of a high school grad who never attended college was $28,659; for those with some college but no degree, it was $32,036.
By comparison, college graduates without advanced degrees had a median income of $49,648. Those with professional degrees had a median income of $87,356, more than three times that for high school grads.
Each year, the individual with a bachelor’s degree earns $20,989 more than the individual who only has a high school diploma. That adds up to a difference of more than $100,000 every five years.
That said, the benefits of a college education go far beyond dollars and cents.
Newsflash for the half-dozen of you who happened to stumble across this blog today: Pop culture ain’t my thing, and it ain’t been my thing for a long, long time.
An example of my indifference to pop culture: I don’t think I’ve ever watched an awards show of any stripe. Not the Oscars, nor the Grammys, certainly not the ESPYs, and especially not anything put on by MTV.
I’ve got no problem with those that enjoy that sort of thing, it’s just not for me.
That said, the most recent hullaballoo over a young strumpet making a fool of herself in public, this time at something called the VMAs, is hardly surprising.
If anything, it’s utterly predictable. Given the seemingly endless parade of puffery and self-promotion that is at the core of today’s awards shows, an “artist” has to work harder and harder to generate publicity.
And you know what – it pays off every time.
The more outlandish the artist, the more notoriety they generate.
Miley Cyrus earned herself millions of dollars of free publicity Sunday evening because Western media no longer wishes to differentiate between news and nonsense.
A decade ago, Southern tobacco auctions appeared set to go the way of mule-and-plow farming.
For more than a century, the sign-song chant of auctioneers had wafted through tobacco warehouses from Virginia to the Carolinas and beyond, as buyers and farmers did business in towns big and small across the region, the sweet aroma of cured tobacco ever-present as crop and cash changed hands.
That began to change in the 1990s as tobacco companies increasingly entered into contracts directly with growers to grow the crop.
By the early- to mid-2000s, tobacco auctions were no more. It seemed the late-summer ritual that was as much a part of the area as NASCAR and fish camps was gone for good.
Now, however, the tobacco auction appears to be making a comeback.
Auctions have been held this year everywhere from Danville, Va., to Wilson, N.C., to Lake City, S.C.
The auction provides a broader marketplace for growers to bring their tobacco bales without worrying about big tobacco company regulations, auctioneer Jim Lynch told the Florence (SC) Morning News.
“The main thing is they don’t care about what the moisture is, how much it weighs and those are some of the hoops big tobacco is making them jump through,” said Lynch, of Carolinas Tobacco Auction in Lake City. “Just like we have 32 bales right here that the moisture was I think one tenth of a percentage high and they expected him to haul it all the way back home and go through it and then bring it back.
The bulk carrier MV Ocean Breeze, seen above, ran aground earlier this week near the port of San Antonio, Chile.
Chilean Navy helicopters rescued the crew of 24, but the ship was battered by massive waves after it dragged its anchor and came to rest near the beach.
The vessel, flying a Hong Kong flag, carries a cargo of wheat and soy beans.
The above image was submitted to the blog gCaptain by Captain Eric Omar Rodríguez Aracena.
More images and videos can be found of the Ocean Breeze in distress on the gCaptain blog.
Prior to the War Between the States South Carolina’s Fairfield County was among the most prosperous areas in the state and the nation.
A good part of this wealth, it should be noted, was in the form of slaves.
According to U.S. Census data, Fairfield County population’s in 1860 included 15,534 slaves. A decade later not only were all those individuals freed, but the county’s population of blacks had decreased by 9 percent, to approximately 14,100.
In addition to the above loss of “property,” Union troops had done severe damage to the county seat of Winnsboro, burning much of the city in the waning days of February 1865, shortly after having laid waste Columbia, S.C., to the west.
So by the following year, with many of the county’s able-bodied white males dead or crippled from the war, a significant percentage of former slaves having moved from the area and general destitution evident throughout the region, residents were desperate.
One plan hatched was to try to create a silk industry in Fairfield County.
Pity the poor Maryland woman who was hit with a $55,000 medical bill after being treated for a venomous snake bite.
Pity her not for being bitten – she was treated at a Bethesda, Md., hospital and is now doing fine – but for her apparent lack of common sense or, more likely, lack of gratitude.
Jules Weiss, according to a story aired on WRC-TV in Washington, DC, had stopped to take a photo at an overlook along the George Washington Parkway. On the way back to her car, she felt something bite her.
Turns out it was a Copperhead, although the story makes it sound as though Weiss wasn’t aware of being bitten by a venomous snake. (How she didn’t happen to see the snake after it bit her isn’t addressed in the story.)
“It felt just like a bee sting,” she told the station. “There were two fang marks with liquid coming out.”
So what did the former emergency medical technician do? Nothing, apparently. It was only an hour later that she noticed her foot had turned “grayish” and started to swell.
Questions for the poor souls who, having run through all the blogs that educate, illuminate and/or edify, are left with this site:
- Is the above caption offensive? If so, why?
It makes light of neither Jesus Christ nor Christianity, but of those individuals who go door to door proselytizing.
Having turned away many a Mormon, Jehovah’s Witness and Southern Baptist from my front door, I couldn’t help but find the meme funny, even though all the above Christians were without fail exceedingly polite and, I would imagine, well intentioned.
- If the evangelizing cat is not at least a little offensive, then why is it humorous?
Often, it’s the taboo that gets the biggest guffaw.
If the image of a cat sticking its paws and part of its head through a small door came with the caption: “Hello Sir – Can I interest you in an excellent deal on a Electromaflux 5000 Upright Vacuum?” it wouldn’t be quite the same, even though we’ve all had to deal with door-to-door salesmen peddling everything from appliances to insurance.
- Finally, what did people do for chuckles in the days before the invention of the camera allowed them to pass around pictures of animals?
This, I concede, is of less philosophical significance than the other questions.
Still, passing around, say, a charcoal image of a cat stuck in a butter churn wouldn’t seem to have the same impact as that of a photo of the same scene.
For more than a decade companies have been highlighting the “environmentally friendly” nature of their new buildings, and for more than a decade the press has been lapping it up, generously doling out coverage that is all but impossible for businesses to secure through the execution of their actual work.
Ponder that for moment: An accounting firm, for example, in a major city that employs 250 people – many in high-paying positions – and has grown slowly but steadily over the past 20 years, will find it difficult to get media coverage until the times comes when it announces it is a constructing a new office, one that is environmentally friendly.
Never mind that stories of these sorts have been in the news for, yes, a decade or more, making them not very “newsy” at all; the media never tires of writing about anything “eco-friendly.”
This is tiresome on several levels:
- One, space and coverage, particularly of business news, have shrunk dramatically in recent years. To devote limited resources to writing about environmentally friendly construction while ignoring the actual accomplishments of the businesses in question, be they accounting firms, banks, advertising agencies, etc., is bad journalism.
- Second, it’s no longer newsworthy when someone builds a structure that meets the standards of the U.S. Green Building Council. That entity was formed in 1993, and more than 7,000 green building projects have been built in the US alone since then.
- Finally, and perhaps most importantly, it appears that the concept behind building environmentally friendly structures may be flawed – very flawed, in fact.
As large daily newspapers continue to gasp for life like oversized carp thrashing in ever-shrinking pools of muddy water, an interesting phenomenon has occurred:
Free weekly publications appear to be thriving across the US.
These “newspapers” are usually little more than a whole mess of advertising wrapped around a handful of inane drivel – often about the advertisers themselves – which is passed off as news.
Unfortunately, the modus operandi of these publications is to carpet bomb as many homes as possible with papers in order to boost circulation numbers.
The higher the circulation, the more publications can charge for advertising. As a result, the companies behind these papers tend to deliver to anything that looks even remotely like a home: run-down trailers, dog houses, tool sheds, etc.
Of course, what is undisclosed is how many or, more accurately, how few people actually read the publication. Also undisclosed is the anger that tends to build up when those that receive the unsolicited publications are unable to end delivery.