Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Heaven is Reel

By Bob Ferris

A few decades ago I was fishing along the shore of Donner Lake casting a lure about hoping to fool some unsuspecting trout into filling a waiting frying pan.  During one of my casts I looked up and saw a red and white plastic bobber floating a dozen or so yards off-shore.  My first thought was some careless angler had dropped the bobber and then let it drift away.  That thought stayed in my mind until that bobber moved and "drifted" against the evening's wind.  That caught my attention because I realized that something below the surface was pushing that bobber in an un-natural fashion.  In this case it was a 15-inch or so trout that I was almost able to net after snagging the line below the bobber with the treble hook of my trusty Mepps.

Thirty years later my wife and I were in a movie theater waiting for the movie “Saving Mr. Banks” to start and were subjected to the normal string of movie previews—only these did not seem “normal” as a lot of the previews had some sort of not-so-subtle religious undertone to them.   I remember feeling it was kind of weird and remarking on it to my wife and then moving on.

Since then I have thought of this apparent super-abundance of cinematic spirituality and wondered whether it was real or just a product of my super-sensitivity to things religious.  So I thought that I would just check to see if what I felt was actually happening.  I also wanted to know if the phenomenon existed whether it was driven by market forces such as audience or revenue in which case I was just going to have to get over myself.

My first stop was to an admittedly imperfect source: Wikipedia.  But someone had gone to the trouble of listing Christian movies by year and that was useful for my purposes.  What we see from that admittedly imperfect list is that during the 1960s through the 1990s 19-23 Christian films were being produced in this country every ten years.  But in the first decade of the new millennium that number jumped to 100 and a little more that half-way through the second decade we are already at 77 Christian films or a little ahead of that substantially increased pace.  Okay…why?

Perhaps Christian movies gross more?  To look at that I went to Box Office Mojo and what I found was this: Only one Christian themed movie made the top 100 grossing films list ("The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" at number 73).  I also found that the average gross of the 100 top Christian movies was about $13 million while the lowest gross domestic figure on the general audience top 100 list was well more than 10 times that figure with all the Harry Potter series so derided in the above video making the top 100 list.  So the likelihood of making it big with one of these Christian themed movies is extremely remote and even if you do well within this genre the grosses are likely to be much, much lower other films.  Not exactly what you want for a pitch to investors.
"Onward Christian soldiers
Marching as to war
With the cross of Jesus
going on before."
The opening lines of “Onward Christian Soldiers
But then I thought: Maybe these film makers are chasing a legitimate market opportunity, but missed the mark?  I have been in business myself and understand that not every good business idea–even those based on sound logic—works.   The most economically logical reason for making more Christian films than once were made would be that there are more Christians now to watch them—a bigger audience.  For this I went to the Pew Foundation to look at what their studies were showing in terms of trends.  And what I found there was that the number of folks who regularly attended church was in fact dropping—particularly in the younger segments of society (i.e., those hitting the theaters). The audience was not bigger it was smaller and would be shrinking in the future.

Are the above just a bad business decisions or are they “bobbers” moving illogically against the wind with the help of something hidden just beneath the surface?  I find that I strongly lean towards the latter explanation particularly as I learn more about the so-called Seven Mountain strategy created by those wanting a more Christian nation.  I suppose that I should gain comfort that they made it clear that they do not want a theocracy.  I find that denial hard to credit, however, as they want us all to live by the laws of their religion and by their moral code.  This seems a little like someone telling you that they do not want to be the “boss,” but that you have to do everything they say.

Senator Ted Cruz, with his father and so-called historian David Barton all proponents of Dominionism and the Seven Mountains (see 1,2.3,4)  
My tendency to gravitate towards the “bobber hypothesis” is also influenced by this election cycle’s crop of candidates who appeared unable to utter three words in a row without saying “God.”  This strategy also helps make sense of the proliferation of legislation aimed at gay marriage, the LGBT community and those who believe that a woman has the right to make decisions about her own body. That understanding is deepened when you know that the lawyer representing Kim Davis is behind much of this legislative nonsense. It strikes me that one does not fundamentally understand “freedom of religion” when they believe it is a tool for denying the rights of others.

Doubt about the propelled bobber idea evaporates when one watches the above video and repeatedly hears cold and calculating talk of kingdoms and the taking of countries—in this case ours.  In my encounter with the bobber-ed trout three decades ago the fish was freed from its buoyant burden and I enjoyed the ten minutes or so of excitement I gained from greatly reducing my reel's drag and gently trying to coax my dinner ashore. Sure I lost an exceptional fish, but both of us were richer rather than poorer for the experience.

From all that I can see of the Seven Mountain strategy it represents nothing more than a whirlwind of ignorance, bigotry and intolerance from which this nation might never ever recover.  It is an uncompromising pathway towards a theocracy laid out on a white board by someone who does not understand or value what this grand experiment in democracy actually represents or how it functions. When we enumerate the threats to our great country this one deserves a huge red check mark and I truly look forward to the day when we have a President, Department of Justice and a Congress willing to materially defend our country and our founding principles from this danger and these radicalized Americans.


(Note: As I have said numerous times, I support freedom of religion up and until that point where the expression of that religion impacts the rights of others, causes physical or mental harm or rips the fabric of this nation (1,2,3,4,5).  

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Sarah the Mad Scientist

By Bob Ferris

When the coal port was first proposed in 2010 for Cherry Point near Bellingham, Washington I was interviewed by a journalism class about the problems with that proposal.  During one of my responses I was talking about the 54 million metric tons of coal that was proposed to be shipped through that facility and what that meant in terms of carbon dioxide emissions.  I offered up that an easy rule of thumb was that for every ton of coal burned about 2.5 tons of carbon dioxide are produced (it is actually 2.86 for anthracite).

The instructor stopped me at this point and asked me how I justified the above statement and whether or not this was commonly accepted.  I was a little stunned and my response was: Yes, it is a basic principle of inorganic chemistry.  For that I got a kind of a scrunchy face response and a lot of blank stares from the students so I continued by saying: If you burn coal you are essentially oxidizing it and in the process taking one carbon atom and combining it with two heavier oxygen atoms.  I got more blank faces so I continued: Remember the C-N-O sequence on the periodic table and the relative atomic weights?  Nothing, so I moved on.

I think about this episode because of Sarah Palin’s recent “I can see Russia from my house” claim about being as much a scientist as Bill Nye is.  My sense is that how folks tend to see and understand the world is largely based on what they have seen or experienced.  Ms. Palin may very well think that she “knows” science because her father once taught the subject in elementary school, but this is a little like her claim about understanding the broader world and foreign policy when she did not get a passport until 2006.

The passport analogy is a good one to examine when looking at Ms. Palin’s claim because science—just like the world—is divided into realms that you have to visit and experience to better understand the whole ball of wax.  The more realms or disciplines (e.g., biology, chemistry, geology, physics, or math) that you are exposed to should increase your understanding of science in general as well as your own sub-discipline.  And the converse is true also.

So how do Sarah and Bill compare? Looking at the current requirement for a journalism degree at Ms. Palin’s alma mater University of Idaho we see that graduating students must complete 8 semester units of science and 3 of math (see here).  At Cornell in the Mechanical Engineering program where Mr. Nye matriculated the students are required to complete 16 semester units of science (chemistry and physics specifically) and 19 of math. Essentially this shows that Mr. Nye was probably exposed to more than 3 times as much science and math as Ms. Palin.  But that really tells little about the true nature of the difference because while Ms. Palin’s science courses were classes to be survived, Mr. Nye’s science and math courses were pre-requisites so that he could be prepared for the more complicated, science-oriented coursework to come (see above flow chart).  Considering these academic preparations equivalent from a science perspective has ridiculous written all over it in bold, capital letters.

Science exposure can also come through work experience.  Ms. Palin was a sportscaster and local politician before becoming Governor of Alaska and quitting before her term’s end.  Mr. Nye worked for Boeing and used his technical skills to develop a hydraulic resonance suppressor for the 747 and then transitioned into consulting and science education.  Now trajectory and force vectors (i.e., physics) are certainly involved in sports, but my sense is that there is likely more science employed in the Boeing labs than in a newsroom or the meeting spaces at the Wasilla City Hall.  Just a guess.
"Bill Nye is as much a scientist as I am," the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee said, according to The Hill. "He's a kids' show actor, he's not a scientist." in CNN report.
In the science game it is not only how you see yourself it is also how you are seen by others. I suspect that part of Ms. Palin’s stance is that Mr. Nye is an “engineer” not a “scientist.”  This is an interesting distinction given that roughly a third of the signers of the so-called Oregon Petition used by the climate denial crowd are folks with engineering or basic science degrees.  Journalists on the other hand were not invited to sign the petition.  Moreover, when we look at external measures of how public institutions view the pair Mr. Nye has six honorary doctorates—five in science.  Ms. Palin on the other hand was identified as a “distinguished alumni” at a junior college in Idaho and made an "Honorary Texan" by former Governor Rick Perry.  Somehow these awarded honors do not seen equivalent from a scientific point view and I am not even going to get into all of Mr. Nye’s patents, scientific committee work, or the 19 Daytime Emmys earned by the children’s science show that Ms. Palin derided.

That Ms. Palin would engage in a scientific pissing match with anyone of any consequence is absurd in the extreme, but it raises two issues for me.  The first is that we should be very, very concerned that society has allowed this particular dog-and-pony show to migrate from the realm of comedy to commentary.  Why is she or Marc Morano given the public oxygen to conduct this intellectual travesty that only acts to cause more delay on needed action and deeper harm to the public?

The second issue it brings up is the general state of journalism and more particularly the environmental beat.  I have interacted with some fine environmental journalists over the years—Andrew Revkin, Bill Dietrich, Bill McKibben, and Tom Horton—come immediately to mind as well as a handful of outdoor writers—Ted Williams, Hal Herring, Todd Wilkinson, Todd Tanner and Brenda Peterson—who study their topics and are prepared for these complicated subjects.  But far too many environmental reporters write without benefit of the deep knowledge which helps them recognize reality from fiction as well as statements of opinion from those of fact—and the good sense to have their writing reflect these distinctions.  There are nearly an infinite array of directions where fingers can be pointed for this phenomenon, but I am very much less inclined to look for those to blame than to hoping someone somewhere has a solution.

With record global temperatures, rising sea levels, topical diseases on the move and acidifying oceans the public—even Sarah Palin’s public—should have very little time for her and Marc Morano’s what-me-worry, carbon-is-wonderful and climate-scientists-are-billionaires tour.  They have about as much functional relevancy at this point as the last standing panels of the Berlin wall.  History will see them for what they were, but the rest of us need to do what we can so that we have that history.  And I will start that process by thinking about all the scientific accomplishments of Sarah Palin while collecting an easily obtainable liquid nitrogen source for my straw bale garden plots (below).

Friday, April 15, 2016

Of Bear Baiting and Buffalo Jumps

By Bob Ferris

Hunting Buffalo by Alfred Jacob Miller
Prehistoric hunters in North America used to stampede bison towards cliffs that they would normally be aware enough to avoid if it were not for the dust obliterating their vision and the mind numbing problems associated with herd mentality.  These areas of mass killing were called “buffalo jumps” and I think of the peril they represent as I look at the letter recently sent by an number of groups to Dan Ashe Director of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) urging Mr. Ashe to accede to the idea that the State of Alaska should negotiate with the USFWS over proper approaches to predator control on federal wildlife refuges in Alaska.  This is in response to the USFWS clarifying that they will not use certain predator control actions on federal refuges in Alaska because of the USFWS’s biodiversity mandate (see here for details of Federal Register notice).

Below are the practices that are proposed for prohibition on federal refuges in Alaska by the USFWS:
- Taking black or brown bear cubs or sows with cubs (exception allowed for resident hunters to take black bear cubs or sows with cubs under customary and traditional use activities at a den site October 15-April 30 in specific game management units in accordance with State law);
- Taking brown bears over bait;
- Taking of bears using traps or snares;
- Taking wolves and coyotes during the denning season (May 1-August 9); and
- Taking bears from an aircraft or on the same day as air travel has occurred (i.e., land and shoot). 
That letter was signed by the following groups:

Archery Trade Association - Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies - Boone and Crockett Club -
Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation - Conservation Force - Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports - Delta Waterfowl - Dallas Safari Club - Ducks Unlimited - Houston Safari Club - Master of Foxhounds Association - Mule Deer Foundation - National Rifle Association - National Wild Turkey Federation - National Shooting Sports Foundation - North American Grouse Partnership - Orion the Hunter’s Institute - Pheasants Forever - Pope and Young Club - Quality Deer Management Association - Quail Forever - Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation - Ruffed Grouse Society - Safari Club International - Shikar Safari Club - Sportsmen’s Alliance - Texas Wildlife Association -
Tread Lightly - Whitetails Unlimited - Wildlife Forever - Wildlife Management Institute - Wildlife Mississippi - Wild Sheep Foundation

Setting aside the obvious insensitivity of these groups in challenging federal authority to manage refuges anywhere at this point in the wake of the Malheur incident, there are a number of other problems with this proposed action.  First, there is simply the unconstitutional idea of any state having the ability to alter federal policies on federal lands.  This should raise red flags with aware hunters and anglers given the vulnerability of state agencies ruled by commissions to influence from energy, mining, livestock and timber interests (1,2,3).  Moreover, the sensitivity to this should be extremely high at this point as we look at these same interests trying very hard to create a fake “grassroots” movement in the West to wrest these land from federal ownership or authority (1,2).  And this has that very smell to it.

Secondarily, the State of Alaska is a particularly bad choice for this effort as it is a state that has been highly criticized for its approaches to predator management in general (1,2,3,4).  And its “one voice” policy for agencies has severely dampened open and honest scientific debate on predators and other resource issues (1,2,3).  And those urging this action should know that.

Certainly when we look at this collection of groups we see entities with strong ties to state agencies such as the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies or the Wildlife Management Institute.  We also see groups that have had long histories of irrational and indefensible predator hatred such as the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (1,2) and the Mule Deer Foundation.  We see too industry groups and those representing industry interests directly such as National Shooting Sports Foundation or indirectly like Tread Lightly.  And we see groups like the various Safari Clubs and the NRA whose policies frequently conflict with those of hunters and anglers as well as being too closely allied with oil and gas interests for many people’s comfort (1,2,3).

I will also say when you look at this list there is a whole lot of redundancy.  There are many Safari Club groups mentioned as well as Conservation Force which is heavily associated with Safari Club. Then there are the coalitions such as Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports and the Sportsmen’s Alliance which are basically these groups as well.

And on the edge of paranoia I will say that many of these groups—not just the NRA or Safari Club—receive funding from or are led by folks with ties to oil, timber or mining interests with their eyes on federal public lands.  Is it just a set of coincidences that the Texas Wildlife Association is led by an employee of an oil company, that the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has close ties with Lucas Oil, or that Consol Energy is on the Ruffed Grouse Society’s list of seven corporate sponsors?   Moreover, why are there so many state or region-based groups involved in this Alaska-only issue if some other larger policy initiative were not in play?

No one who has been watching this or the “hook and bullet” crowd’s struggle with climate change is too surprised by the above or that the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (1,2) representing a body far too filled with Tea Party players would support this poorly considered proposal or anything similar.  But there are a couple of surprises on the list and that is where the aforementioned dust cloud and herd mentality likely come into play. Groups like Ducks Unlimited, the National Wild Turkey Federation and Orion: the Hunter’s Institute should really not be part of this and I am hoping that it is only dust and herd issues that led to their joining rather than bad decision-making or a coming trend.

All groups who signed this ill-advised letter should receive (and deserve) criticism and at the same time the USFWS should receive support for trying to maintain some semblance of fair-chase principles and scientifically defensible actions under very difficult conditions (instructions for comment here).  I will also say that these are groups that should not be supported financially if you are someone who believes in fair-chase, the value of public lands and understands the peril we face from climate change and other forms of pollution (I have provided a list of groups in this arena that I respect before here, thought I might have to re-think Ducks Unlimited).  Let all of them know how you feel!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Sarah Palin and the Shooting of a Caged Lion

By Bob Ferris

I am working on a little rage at this point after being taken in by yet another Sarah Palin scam—this one with the aid of CFACT which has about as much to do with “facts” as Sarah’s daughter Bristol has to do with abstinence.  Yes I fell for the idea presented on Facebook of Sarah Palin standing up and debating Bill Nye “the Science Guy” face-to-face on the issue of climate change in conjunction with the release of CFACT's new denial film Climate Hustle (1,2,3).  And right now after the facts are out I suspect that I feel a little like those folks visiting one of P.T. Barnum’s exhibits rushing excitedly towards the “egress” sign thinking they were going to see some sort of new animal and then finding themselves outside the exhibit.

It turns out what is being proposed is a “debate panel” filled with non-scientists responding to video clips of Bill Nye (1).  Why does this bring to mind people dressed in safari clothes complete with pith helmets posing heroically with a majestic African lion they have just shot while neglecting to disclose that the lion was shot while sitting in a cage?
“I’m very passionate about this issue. We’ve been told by fear-mongers that global warming is due to man’s activities and this presents strong arguments against that in a very relatable way.” Sarah Palin referring to the film Climate Hustle
There is a certain sadness in the above quote from Ms. Palin.  She is singing a hymn from her "church" in perfect pitch with no recognition that her sect’s leadership and preachers (1,2,3) have been increasingly shown to be corrupt and the underlying dogma so much manufactured manure (1,2,3). And her solution to this while her current home state of Alaska (1,2,3,4) suffers more and more from the phenomenon she denies appears for her to sing ever louder and more joyously.

Monday, April 11, 2016

The Right Joe for America Might Actually be William and Mary

By Bob Ferris

“Donald Trump, he’s got these Joe Six-Pack issues on his mind, and he’s got these Joe Six-Pack common sense solutions — he just happens to be an extremely successful and charismatic, with a very large platform, Joe Six-Pack,” she clarified.  Sarah Palin quoted in 2015 
Two election cycles ago there was an attempt by John McCain—with help from then Gov. Sarah Palin—to use “Joe the Plumber” as a campaign icon to justify policies that would likely harm people like Joe.  And more recently Ms. Palin has used “Joe Six-Pack” in her own efforts as well as in her cheer-leading for the political theater that is the Trump campaign.

"Spirit of '76"
Part of me wants to counter these “Joes” with another “Joe” in the form of Corporal Joe Munroe (1,2) (Munroe) the iconic gray-haired and Parson Weems-worthy ancient Lexington man rumored to be the inspiration for the man featured on drum in the “Spirit of ‘76” painting (above).  But dueling myths or partial truths no matter how worthy are really not what this county needs at this critical juncture when our core principles are so much under attack. That said Corporal Joe started me thinking about who might be appropriate in this context and then it hit me:  What about Joe’s parents?

"The Proscribed Royalist, 1651" painted by Everett Millais in 1853 depicting a young Puritan women hiding a Royalist in an oak tree after the Battle of Worcester.   Young William was not so fortunate.   
William Munroe or Munro was born in 1625 in the Scottish Highlands.  Little is known of his youth but in his mid-20s we know that he was a Royalist caught on the bad side of battle odds—16000 Royalist to 28,000 Parliamentarians—and as consequence the losing side of the English Civil War.  He and some of his brothers were eventually captured in the aftermath of the Battle of Worcester in 1651.  About two months later he ended up on a transport ship headed for Plymouth Colony as the bound servant of the very slice of English society that had just handed him a significant defeat.  He came to the colony and was released in some manner because he was soon buying land in the Cambridge Farms area and also being fined because his pigs did not have the required rings in their snouts.
"Experience tells us that such a rough thing as a New England Anabaptist is not to be handled over tenderly. It was toleration that made a world Antichristian" (Samuel Willard, Ne Sutor Ultra Crepidam)
For some reason it took William until he was about 40 to marry and then he wed Martha George the daughter of a prominent Baptist convert in 1665.  Martha’s father John George was fined, jailed and eventually chased out of Charleston, Massachusetts because of his religious beliefs and practices. Perhaps for William and Martha it was love at first site, but it just might have been a case of the daughter of a religious outlaw finding solace with a long-ostracized and lonely Scottish rebel.  They very well might have been each other’s only port in a very stormy sea of Puritanism.  Regardless of the underlying chemistry, in a few years they had four children.  But let’s leave William and Martha for just a bit.

To say that Mary Ball born in Waterford around 1650 had a troubled childhood in the early years of the Plymouth Colony is an understatement.  Her father John Ball was frequently abusive and her mother Elizabeth (Pierce) Ball was characterized as insane or deranged.  The family was in court frequently for one thing or another which is one of the reasons that we know so much about Mary’s early life.  Eventually around 1655 Mary went to live with her maternal grandparents—John and Elizabeth Pierce or Pearce.  Her mother Elizabeth died in 1660 and Grandfather John died in 1661.   When Grandmother Elizabeth died in 1667 Mary was put into “service” by the Selectmen with the prominent Bacon family in nearby Woburn.

But before you start thinking about the Daisy character in Downton Abbey understand that the master of the house, Michael Bacon, soon seduced Mary and had her in a family way by 1670.  This later condition caused Michael to put young Mary on a ferry to the more permissive Rhode Island as fornication in that time and place could have painful or even fatal consequences beyond those associated with childbirth.

Mary’s newly remarried father John Ball lodged a complaint and she was brought back to Watertown where she and her master went on trial.  That Mary was un-wed removed the chance of an adultery charge which was a capital offense so the court proceedings were more about responsibility and support for the soon-to-be-born.  Mary was asked to leave Watertown and found herself in Cambridge Farms where she gained food, shelter and employment in the home of William and Martha Monroe.  The Monroe home must have acted on some level as an island for outcasts.  Then sometime in 1671 or 1672 Martha died.

William Munroe and Mary Ball were married in 1672.  Mary provided William with a bouncing baby roughly every year and half for two decades including Joseph AKA Corporal Joe born in 1687 (1).  Mary died in 1692 at 42 more than likely in the act of trying to produce another Munroe.   William Munroe married again but fathered no more children.  He was buried next to Mary in 1717 and in the intervening three centuries it looks to the romantic mind as if their two gravestones are leaning into each other in embrace.

Illustration from Mary Rowlandson's narrative. 
William and Mary lived during tough times in a tough world.  Mary’s abusive and then neglectful father, for instance, did not go peacefully into the night, but he and his new family were wiped out during an Indian raid in Lancaster (1676); the same attack made infamous by Mary Rowlandson.  Yet William and Mary stood out during this era because their travails and challenges encompassed so many of the catalytic issues that led to the formation and ultimate formulation of this democratic experiment we call the United States.  William lost status and rights because of his political and spiritual beliefs and Mary was subjected to institutionalized religious and social bigotry that seemed to flow much more quickly and freely than kindness, charity or concern.  I suspect too that both of their attitudes were influenced by the less than enlightened treatment of Martha and her father. And like parents time immemorial they probably passed these lessons and sensitivities on to their off-spring and the generations beyond which became scattered like so much dry kindling around a certain town square in a place that had become known as Lexington.

We will never know for certain what, if any, role was played in the Revolutionary War by their son the legendary “Corporal Joe,” but William, Mary and Martha’s descendants were present in abundance at the Battle of Lexington and the subsequent actions on April 19, 1775.  In fact, Ensign Robert Munroe William’s grandson was one of the first of eight casualties on the Lexington Green. In reality, it was hard to avoid bumping into a Munroe on that fateful day around Lexington and Concord from the two Johns and Ebenezer Jr. to former Roger’s Ranger Lt. Edmund Munroe who served as a private in Captain Parker’s Company and his younger brother Orderly Sergeant William the owner of Munroe’s Tavern (above).

Marrett Munroe's house that faces out on the Village Green and was damaged during the Battle of Lexington. 
All in all Captain Parker’s 77-man company that stood on the Green that fateful day had at least seven Munroes as well as two other Munroe family descendants represented in Joseph Comee and Solomon Peirce.  Lt. William Tidd was also married to Ensign Robert Munroe’s daughter Ruth and Captain Parker’s sister Deliverance was married to Nathan Monroe’s father Marrett whose house still stands on the Lexington Green.  So when the British killed Robert Monroe as well as wounding Jedediah, Ebenezer Jr., Joseph and Solomon there were plenty in this company who personally and professionally wanted a “second bite of this apple.”

That second bite has become known as “Parker’s Revenge” and all that could gather including a wounded Jedediah headed to a strategic location and gave the British what-for on their return from Concord towards Boston and then skedaddled to the next attack point.  Jedediah died that afternoon, but Captain Parker—who was suffering from tuberculosis and died of the disease less than five months later—had made his point and set a standard that inspired soldiers for the rest of the War.  Who knows what would have happened to this rebellion and the still-unborn country had this company and others not responded as they did to the morning’s tragedy?

My best guest at this point is that more than two dozen descendants of William, Mary and Martha fought in the Revolutionary War some that were obvious such as General Lafayette’s comrade Captain Josiah Munroe and the not so obvious like great-grandsons Solomon Peirce, Joseph Comee or my direct ancestor Benjamin Williams who was at Bunker Hill.  Some survived the ordeal such as Nathan and William and others died like Robert or his cousins Edmund and George who were killed pretty gruesomely by a single cannon ball at the Battle of Monmouth in 1778.  But all carried the physical and intellectual DNA of these first Munroes forward into the new country they wrestled into existence.

I cannot help but think that the Munroes and those who stood with their descendants at Lexington would wince at the Joe Six-Pack and Tea Party imagery that is being used as a smokescreen by the super-rich and modern-day religious fanatics to take from citizens of this country what they earned at such a cost centuries before.  So as we listen to candidates this election cycle my sense is that we would be better served to embrace those candidates whose platforms would materially address the issues faced by the first Munroes rather than enabling social and religious intolerance or creating more pathways for the elite to hold others in check or for the zealots of any belief to force themselves on the rest of us.