About the Cotton Boll Conspiracy

Being a proponent of honesty and transparency, it seems illogical that I’ve never made an effort to attach a name or identifying information to this blog.

It would be nice if this space could be filled with personal tidbits along the lines of: “I’ve retraced the Trail of Tears, wandered through the Hagia Sophia, brought Alois Brunner to justice, and caught and released a Coelacanth off the coast of Madagascar.”

Alas, I’ve done none of the above, though I once did get a rental car up to 131 mph on a rain-slicked German Autobahn just outside Frankfurt.

The reasons for my self-imposed obscurity are many-fold: First, when I began this blog in 2008, I worked for an advertising agency and didn’t want to risk the chance that a client or potential client might take out their angst about something I had written on my boss. That was my decision, not the company’s, which never knew about the blog.

More importantly, though, my goal has been first and foremost to write this blog as though I were the only one reading it. The Cotton Boll Conspiracy exists simply because it’s something I enjoy doing. Its topics are ones I enjoy, find interesting or believe to be of significance. I never saw a need to attach my name to something that I was essentially writing for my own sake.

Of course, in the long run, as Keynes said, we’re all dead, so what I blather on about here won’t amount to a hill of beans. Still, it gives me a place to elaborate on those things that catch my attention, stick in my craw or simply amuse me.

What I won’t do is vouch for the quality of the writing or the depth of thought. The infinite monkey theorem posits that a monkey hitting typewriter keys at random for an infinite amount of time will almost surely type a given text, say Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. If one puts stock in that theory, one could deduce from this blog’s decidedly un-Shakespearian prose that it would take a single neuron-impaired monkey approximately 15 minutes to bang out what you’re perusing here.

The final reason I haven’t attached my name to this random smattering of postings on history, politics, pseudo-culture and an array of other bric-a-brac is the simple reason that anonymity fits my personality. Churchill once famously described the action of the Russia as a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. Some would claim, I suppose, that description can be ascribed to me, as well. Some understand how and why they feel as they do; others never obtain that ability. I’m getting there, albeit slowly.

Bottom line: You’re not going to get much out of me about how “I” feel about things. The blogosphere is full of self-important blowhards who can’t wait to opine on everything from the less-than-attentive baristas at the local Starbucks to their toddler’s latest toilet-training antics. There’s no need for me to add to the gasbaggery.

Whatever your reason for getting this far – whether it be boredom, bemusement, bewilderment – thanks for reading.

– Kevin Dietrich, aka he who scratcheth out the Cotton Boll Conspiracy.

FYI: The content on this blog is released under the CC-BY-SA 3.0 license (or, in the case of an image, any other acceptable free license).

66 thoughts on “About the Cotton Boll Conspiracy

  1. Thank you, Cotton Boll, for the comments that you recently submitted to me. I respect your views and admire your blog. I am left wondering, however, if you have noticed the DAILY attacks to which I have been subjected by one particular blogger for the past two years. I have seen no evidence of ANYONE responding to any of that.

    Have you, even from your anonymity, dared to challenge any of the hateful belittling that person engages in daily? Are you aware that he has blogged about me being pumped full of lead in church? In two years I have responded to his hundreds of slanderous posts on TWO occasions, and I make no apology for either one. I stand behind what I write and am not ashamed to be identified with what I post.

    BTW, I find it interesting that you require a full name and E-mail address of those submitting comments on your blog. Happy to oblige.

    • Thanks for the response. The full name and email address requirement is most likely the result of my not taking the time to think things through when I set the blog up. I have no problems with pseudonyms, but I appreciate your forthrightness.

      • I read a nice story you did on Ty Cobb. I was very interested on it and will there be more? I also may have some images you may like to use for another story. Please reach out to me at jcclarkee@hotmail.com

  2. Knowing of your concern for civil discourse, Cotton Boll, I am wondering if you’ve had a chance to peruse any of the 8 diatribes that have been posted since Sunday from this blogger – a blogger I have acknowledged twice, but who has attacked me daily for two years. Posts like this, for example:

    “Words mean what I say they do,” Humpty Dumpty explained. “No more, and no less.”
    —Waldo Lydecker’s Journal.

    Let’s- just for the fun of it- parse one of Savonarola’s most recent vomits:
    FRIDAY, JUNE 19, 2009Federal Civil Rights Commission Warns Hate Crimes Bill Poses “Menace” to Civil Liberties
    From LifeSiteNews
    By Peter J. Smith

    The US Commission on Civil’ […]

    Or do you just criticize those who you know won’t make YOU a target?

    • My thoughts: First, my posts have not been immune from WLJ’s criticism. That’s the risk one runs by putting ideas out for public consumption.

      Second, while the verbiage may be strong, WLJ is not raising questions in a vacuum. As to the post you listed, “Words mean what I say they do… ” it would appear quite a bit of time and research was expended in dissecting the post so we’re not talking about someone simply shooting from the hip. You disagree with his conclusion – understandably so, since you wrote the original piece – but what ultimately makes blogging useful is accountability. Certainly the subhead “Let’s- just for the fun of it- parse one of Savonarola’s most recent vomits:” is inflammatory, but if WLJ is off base, call him out on it and show why.

      I will say you do yourself no favors with posts such as the following:

      “Obama Returns to His German Roots; With President Obama’s visit to Germany today, it has been reported that he has German roots in Besigheim, a small town north of Stuttgart. Somehow, we suspected a connection:” and then show Obama standing in front of a Nazi flag.

      Making a direct comparison to Obama and Hitler doesn’t lend your site a great deal of credibility. As the half dozen of so people who read my site know, I’m no fan of the Obama Administration, particularly its economic policy, but I also know that a comparison between Hitler and Obama is ludicrous. If you want to assert that Obama is leading us down a road to some sort of national socialism, fine, make that argument, but that’s very different from equating the elected leader of the US with a megalomaniacal despot who led the world into a conflict that killed 60 million people.

      Finally, the fact that you serve on the SC Advisory Committee for the US Commission on Civil Rights automatically gives your views on issues related to civil rights elevated significance. One could logically assume that when you use the term “sodomite,” as in “Obama declares June sodomite pride month,” that you have an issue with gays. Are there members of the gay community jockeying for rights above and beyond those extended to a majority of Americans? Probably, but that’s no different than any other special interest group in this country. The point is, if you’re going to devote an unusual amount of space on your blog to criticizing gays, and you sit on a body dedicated to equal protection, you open your motives up to analysis.

  3. Someone working for the South Carolina Policy Council should be aware of the hallmarks of fascist, national socialism.

    Regarding the US Commission on Civil Rights, that organization has no statutory authority to deal with any issues relating to sexual preference, sinful or otherwise. Leaders of the civil rights movement would be the first to tell you that behavior contrary to the natural law is not a protected civil right.

  4. Mr. Dietrich —

    Your recent comments illuminate for me why your SCPC board members are quitting in disgust. First we learn that you have no problem with the President of the United States dictating the visitation policies for private institutions, and now we learn that “research” is based on Wikipedia entries. If you are the face of modern journalism, it is small wonder that it is dying, and that your “Nerve” blog has, at best, 1/2 the traffic that mine has and 1/5 the number of sites linking in.

  5. I’m sorry, having delved into your blog to this level, to read how you’ve been afflicted by a wuss who apparently expect to be able to attack and hate all he/she wants without ever having to answer to anyone in return. Seems kinda cowardly but we already know how low he/she will stoop to maintain the low ground. Thanks very much to you for taking a more generous, and intellectually challengeing course.

    • He’s an interesting case; I’m left wondering if he really believes all the tripe he puts up on his site? Could anyone, I’m mean, outside of your typical rank-and-file klansman?

      Thanks for the kind words. It gives me a reason to continue toiling away, racking up a couple hundred hits a day if I’m lucky.

      And keep up the good work, as well. It’s nice to be able to read a SC blog that actually makes me think and, every now again, reassess my views.

  6. I dig your concept. And your style of writing. And interesting content.

    Its nice to waffel on sometimes! I don’t care if no one ever reads what I write, I want to just write so I can read it in a few days, weeks or a months time and laugh or cry. whatever.

    • Thanks, Diana. I appreciate the honor, and you taking the time to read my blog. I enjoy yours, as well. Keep up the great work – both of being a blogger and a mom. You’re doing a wonderful job.

  7. Hi there,

    To find your blog is a pleasure I have been indulging myself with. I have deep respect for you. Keep penning and keep inspiring, I am sure lots of readers have found your posts equally entertaining and enlightening!
    I have a joyful ride in your blog, and now I’d like to invite you to visit mine. Thank you and have a wonderful day, my friend! 🙂

    Subhan Zein

  8. Fascinating. Well done on the rental car and for such an intellectual blog. Thanks for reading my baboon post. Despite it seeming far less intelligent in comparison. p.s. It was bewilderment with a dash of intrigue.

  9. I don’t know how you found my blog, but thanks for visiting because it led me to your very controversy-sparking words. I never cease to be amazed at how passionate people can be about certain topics. I doubt that I have the passion, most of the time, but you certainly know how to pull it out of your readers!

  10. Pingback: Next up, the seventh seal to be opened … « The Cotton Boll Conspiracy

    • Thanks for your note, Seeker. The Bluenose is a beauty. I’d could come up with a cliche like “They don’t make them like that any more,” but I don’t think they ever made them that beautiful very often.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  11. I hope that you get this. I am not understanding the “password protected” wording. I responded concerning our mutual interest about W&M

    • Louisva – I did see your message, but when I went back to respond, I couldn’t figure out how to get back to thank you for your note. I’m glad you sent me a note though my blog.

      Ruffin was indeed one of the original fire-eaters; it’s interesting that he was from your neck of the woods. The legend is that he fired the first cannon during the bombardment of Fort Sumter, but I think he was among the first, not *the* first. I believe rather than wrapping himself in a Confederate flag at war’s end and lighting it afire, he actually shot himself with a rifle.

      As for W&M, if I had to do it again – and I’d worked a lot harder in high school, W&M would be at the top of my list for colleges, along with Washington and Jefferson. I have great respect for a true liberal arts education, and there are few schools today that can match either of those for the all-around quality of education.

      Take care and I hope to hear from you again.

      – CBC

  12. You also said on Paul’s blog that:

    Thanks for sending the followup link to your earlier note, Louisva. I am indeed in South Carolina, and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else, though I do enjoy visiting other places on occasion. There’s nothing like being 10 minutes from a medium-sized city and 10 minutes from the middle of nowhere. It’s getting harder and harder to find places like that any more.

    I am glad we finally caught up with each other. My name is Louis Ogden and my personal email address is:


    I can also be reached at my FB page:


    Yes, most of the stuff about Ruffin are “rural myths” but don’t try to tell a native Virginian that, lol. I am an Air Force brat and was born in Memphis in 1950 but due to my father retiring at Langley AFB in 1970, I have become a Virginian now by longevity.

    I must live in a similar place to you as it is on the edge of where semi-rural turns to rural. My home is .7 miles off the hard surface road (.5 down the dirt farm road then .2 miles down my lane so it is very private, quiet, and being a dead end road; it only gets traffic from our neighbors (10 families) and visitors. The entire farm is about 250 acres and I can get to the small town of Hopewell in about 20 minutes. The nearest city, Richmond, is 30 miles to my NW.

    If you go to “Google Maps” and type in “12042 Chatham Road, North Prince George, VA;” (without the quotes, of course) it takes you right to my property. If you zoom in far enough, you can even see my squirrelly lane that goes to the north. It twists and turns to go thru a field, across a creek, then my home is back in the woods. Just south of my property is the piece that has the “Ruffin Farm House” that sits on 30 some odd acres (mine is 16 acres). You can get an aerial shot but no street view because it is a private road.

    Do you have an email address that I can have? I would love to speak with you further about the place here and its history. I LOVE where I live as well and there is LOTS of history here as we are just south of the James River with all the Colonial Plantations, etc. Jamestown and Williamsburg are nearby (approx 25-30 miles) on the north side of the river and east of me. If I knew how to get in touch, I could send pictures and such. Please do keep in touch. This is great fun to me!


  13. Thank you for liking my post “a box full of soil”. It means a lot to me. I’m glad it was a way to find your blog, so interesting!

  14. CBC
    I am Tom Nardone. I want to thank you for reading my posts so faithfully. The reason I write to you today is because I just wanted you to know that I get very angry when I talk about politics, and current events. I take it as a great compliment that someone who writes at your level has an interest in my observations. You honor me with your attention. I just wanted to say thank you, as I live in South Carolina.

    • Tom,

      Thanks for your note. I enjoy your posts, especially your take on life. And, yes, there is certainly plenty to get worked up about in today’s world.

      You have a great sense of humor and wit that makes your take on things worth reading. I work in Columbia, so I get many of the downsides of a big city – bureaucracy, traffic problems, inane government workers out the wazoo – without the benefits of, say, pro sports, decent public transportation or varied job opportunities.

      But, that said, I wouldn’t trade South Caroline for anything. I love being able to drive five miles and be in the countryside. I gather from your posts you likely do not share my love of all things four-legged. Still, folks are nice, the scenery is good and I can blow off fireworks anytime I want.

      Keep up the good work; I need the laughs.

      Kevin Dietrich (CBC)

      • Hello sir

        Hey I don’t think I mentioned this to you last time but I have a book that is going through the editing process it should be a month or two before it is out. I will make a post about it when the time comes. I just thought I would let you know, and I sincerely do appreciate you reading me.

      • Thanks for the heads-up; I look forward to reading it when it’s out. I hope it includes some Home Depot-related tales. Seems like that would be a never-ending supply of unintentional humor.

  15. I try to keep the Home Depot out of the book. I dont think my editor wants any company names in it. For legal reasons. I might actually consider some stories for my blog though. You will be among the first to know of updates on the book. Thanks man

  16. Kevin, you have a true treasure here. That you write for yourself is perhaps what makes your writing so enjoyable. You aren’t writing to please anyone or increase readership. Without being boring, you write in such a civil and sensible tone, even when relating something unpleasant. The range of what you find interesting and choose to share is impressively wide and you write about a lot of things very well. Visits to your site have become somewhat of a routine sanity-break for me, as your subjects and research are intriguing enough to make the brain cells work but not designed to spark some outrage or convince someone of something (more “ahhh” than “aha!”). Yet I can see where reading one of your posts might change a reader’s views or make them consider a subject in a different way, just by presenting research in the form of casual conversation. Finding your site rather late does have an upside: You have enough archives to keep me busy when you don’t post something new. Thanks for sharing the subjects that interest you and the research you do on them.

    • I very much appreciate your kind words. There really are no limits to the number of interesting topics out there worthy of posts – only the time to write about them. And every time I undertake a post I learn something new, which is one of my favorite aspects of blogging.

      I learned a long time ago that there are a whole lot of writers out there far more persuasive when it comes to pushing politics or sports opinions or whatnot, so I decided to concentrate on writing about what I like, rather than grinding axes. It’s a lot more rewarding.

    • Thanks for sharing this. Very interesting and something I never would have expected. Given that pigs are rather intelligent, I’m surprised they didn’t make a run for it at some point. I’m also surprised they allowed their eyelids to be sewn shut. That could not have been an enjoyable job.

  17. Your blog has helped me with various projects over the past few years of my school and also answers random questions I may have. I have a shortcut to it on my computer. I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for your hard work on this blog and how well you keep up with it. Keep up the great work!

  18. Pingback: North Carolina-Civil War Pension-December 4 | coach4aday

  19. Just to demonstrate my fondness for your body of work, I wanted to let you know that Zima is about to be relaunched, the consumate drink for chicks in a fern bar watching Wham! videos on MTV…ah the good ole days.

    • Wow! Talk about a blast from the past! Hopefully it’s “original Zima” and not “new and improved Zima.”

      And if you recall my post about Zima, you deserve some sort of award, along with my condolences. You’ve obfviously plodded through a good deal of dry, arcane posts of the years.

      That said, thanks for stopping by. I appreciate it.

  20. Incredible writing! One question, one comment
    In your book on the 4th Regiment SC Calvary, I’m sure you write about General William Stokes. But in this regiment there was also an African American named William Stokes (see Civil War Talk- African American Spies in the Civil War. Was the African American the General’s son?

    The Rose Latimer Felton you wrote about wrote a speech that became the match that sparked the Wilmington NC Race Insurrection of 1898.

    Thanks for your help and I have joined your group.


    • Thank you for your note, Alvin.

      I did not come across another William Stokes in the Compiled Service Records for the 4th South Carolina Cavalry. I did find a William E. Stokes in Company A of the 3rd South Carolina Cavalry, also from Colleton District, and a William A. Stokes, who served late in the war in Company A of the 2nd South Carolina Cavalry (no enlistment location listed).

      I would think that given that William Stokes was the Lt. Col. of the 4th South Carolina, he would have had his son in the same unit, or perhaps he didn’t want to because it was an illegitimate child. It’s hard to say 150-plus years later.

      I will have to do some more research on Rose Latimer Felton. Thank you for the tip.

      Take care,


  21. Hi Kevin- here at the Smithsonian, we are interested in using the image of the Carnegie library in Union for one of our exhibitions, I have sent you an email on your yahoo account, just wanted to make sure you check it!


    Selwyn Ramp

    • Thank you, Helen. We’re getting a bit of rain, but nothing like the folks on the coast. My urge to write has dwindled some over the summer. I hope to get back in the groove soon. I hope you’re doing well, and I appreciate your note. Take care.

      • Glad that all is well with you…I have not been writing much lately as the time available for thought has evaporated since my husband’s health deteriorated about the same time as that of my mother…
        Plenty of ideas…but no time to write them down!
        I hope that the effects of the storm are

      • I’m sorry to hear about Leo and your mother. Family concerns can make it tough to sit down and spend time putting thoughts together. And, to be honest, sometimes it’s just more important to be with family. All the best, and I hope both of them get well soon.

      • Thank you. so do I…. two worse invalids cannot be imagined…always convinced they can do what they can’t.
        Glad to see your latest post up and running.

  22. Hello! My name is Melissa Winn and I work at America’s Civil War magazine. We’re interested in some of your photos from your 5/28/2014 blog post about Haw’s shop for an article we’re doing in our magazine. I’m hoping that you can email me at mwinn@historynet.com to discuss with me. Thanks! Like the blog a lot! – Melissa

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