Author: Jonathan David Baird

Born and raised in the South Mountain area of Appalachia. Jonathan David Baird has worked professionally as an archaeologist since 1994. He has a masters degree in English literature from Fort Hays State University. His focus of study was the influence of Darwin's theory on late 19th century Gothic horror literature. He also has a masters from Ft Hays in American history with a focus on the frontier and frontier mythology. Jonathan has an avid interest in medieval combat and fought at Battle of the Nations (the world championship of medieval combat) in 2017. Besides medieval combat his interests include traditional skills, primitive technology, and ethnobotany. In 2014 Jonathan was elected and served for for two years as one of the district supervisors for Soil and Water in Burke County, North Carolina only leaving due to his move out of the district. Jonathan blogs at NukeMars.com (A Journal of Speculative Reality), he has written for and edited several anthology collections, he writes comics and his comic Dark Maiden debuted in the top ten ecomics in the world, In 2018 Jonathan completed the MFA program at Lindenwood University and is currently working towards his PhD. Jonathan is also a Melungeon. Melungeons are a tri-racial group (Portuguese, African, and Native American) originating in the Appalachian Mountains.

The Real Reason for Racism: An Effectivist Perspective

I am going to posit a very radical idea. I want all people of color in this country to think about this. For most people of color this is true… You aren’t black, red, yellow, or even white… you are mixed race. The only reason you are seen as a color is that there are people in this country, people with a political agenda, on the Right and on the Left whose continued power depends on you divorcing yourself from part of your racial identity and focusing on one small aspect of your genetic heritage. You should divorce yourself from that kind of thinking. It is simply actual racists trying to pigeonhole you into a mode of thinking that benefits them. Don’t give them power over you.

Be a mosaic of color, not a uniform in service to racism.

This is probably the biggest problem in America. There is no such thing as a “Black” person at least not in the American sense of the word.

Not 1 in 10,000 blacks in the United States is 100% African, probably not 1 in 100,000.

“Black” is about as much a valid racial category as “Hispanic” virtually all people are mixed race. The same goes for “white”, “red”, even “yellow”. We are not colors. We are not uni-racial. If you have had ancestors on this continent for more than a hundred years the chance you are not multi-racial is almost zero. The chance that you have immediate family members that are not multi-racial is zero. They may not know it or acknowledge it, but the truth doesn’t always comport to what someone feels. We are a multi-racial country. The idea of race needs to end if we are to become a great nation and a greater people.



If there is no race, does culture divide us as people?

Is there a real unified “American” culture? Total nonsense. It is the same as saying “Western”, “White”, or “Black” culture. All these categories are cobbled together stereotypes.

Are you a Stereotype?

Culture is defined as, “The totality of socially transmitted behavior patterns, arts, beliefs, institutions, and all other products of human work and thought.”

Culture is a divider of people and used simply to categorize and make uniform what really is a nation made up of individuals each with their own unique ideas. Like race, culture gives power to the powerful by limiting the ability of everyday people to embrace each other. It is a specialized form of tribalism.

I can say definitively that my culture is not the same as the culture of a person living on the West Coast. We don’t share the same values, the same lifestyles, or even the same institutions. I have more in common with the Hispanic family living across the street from me than I do a software developer in San Francisco.

All this talk of race and culture is used to fracture our society into warring camps. Who benefits when people are taught to hate each other? Who benefits when both sides of the political spectrum are doing it?

The Real Cost of Taxation: An Effectivist Observation

First, we need to define some terms used in this discussion.

1. Working Class- Those people who do the actual labor in society, who pay taxes and purchase good and services rather than own the means of production.

2. Ownership Class- Those people who own the means of production or provide services to the working class and the poor. Factory owners, restaurant owners, landlords, etc (there is some overlap with the Working class at the low end of the scale).

3. The Poor- Those people who do no productive work in society and rely solely on handouts from government or private organizations.

4. The Working Poor- Those people who do the actual physical labor in society, who pay taxes, and purchase goods and services, but who also receive direct benefits from the government in one form or another that match or exceed their tax burden.

5. The Political Class- Those people who work for and are paid by government and lobbying organizations.

6. Corporate Ownership Class- Those people who control entire segments of the economy or have so few competitors that they can dictate fully the price of goods and services from that segment of the economy.

7. Corporatism (Crony Capitalism)- The marriage of business and government in which the ownership class and the political class work together to freeze out competition and promote the interests of large conglomerates over small business interests.

8. Corporate Unionization- A compact of business owners who come together to fix prices and set market values based on their interests rather than actual market principles.

Next, we need to establish who pays taxes and who doesn’t

Taxes do nothing but harm the working class and the working poor. Unless you are willing to take everything the rich have and distribute it to the poor (which won’t work for reasons we can explore later) raising taxes does nothing but hurt the middle class and working poor. All taxes….I’ll say that again “All Taxes” are paid by the Working (middle) class and working poor, The higher you tax the Ownership class the more they increase the price of goods and services they provide to the classes below them. It is a game the government can’t win unless it is willing to acknowledge that all tax revenue eventually comes from those who work not those who own the means of production even if the government owns the means of production. Anything the government does the ownership class has a way of avoiding and passing the costs to others. This is a basic tenant of capitalism. If the cost of business increases, business increases the cost of goods and services to match. In our current society, this is exacerbated by Corporatism.

Corporatism allows large companies to lobby or even purchase outright government rules and regulations that harm or even destroy smaller businesses and increase the economic and political power of the Corporate Ownership Class. In a vibrant economy, small and large business would compete on a level playing field to provide goods and services to people in general. In that system, taxation would harm the working and working poor classless because a multitude of businesses would be competing to provide goods and services at a lower cost. This means that they may eat the cost of taxation in order to curry more business. In a Corporatist society, the corporate ownership class fully dictates costs and may realize a profit at the expense of the consumer thus allowing them to raise prices to avoid the cost of taxation. What is the solution? How can we help the working class and the working poor without destroying the market-driven society?

The solution is simple…strict avoidance of monopoly coupled with low taxation. Any monopoly is bad for the consumer. Monopoly leads to price gouging, wage stagnation, and tax affected economic downturns. High taxation leads to Corporate Unionization in which businesses come together to price fix. The breaking up of monopoly and lowering of the tax burden on all sectors of the economy leads to several positive outcomes for the working class and working poor. When competition is spread out it is less entrenched politically and economically. There is room for mobility out of the working class and into the small business ownership arena.

Effectivist Solutions to Poverty

Direct handouts and social welfare do not work to address the issues of poverty. Poverty can only be alleviated by addressing the root socio-political causes. It is not because I am not concerned with the general welfare that my articles up until now have not addressed poverty. A fair and equitable society cannot be created or maintained that allows a large portion of the population to live without the basic necessities of life. In the last article I directly point out that all taxation comes from the working class and the working poor. Therefore any and all money used for social welfare programs comes directly or indirectly from these two sources. A society can’t fund social welfare off the backs of the very people who need those programs, especially if that sector of the economy is shrinking. Only in a society in which the working poor are moving steadily forward into the working class can social welfare be paid for by farming the working class. This is the fallacy of socialism and the social welfare state. Both of these types of states discourage social mobility into the ranks of the non-government supplemented worker. In fact both socialism and the social welfare state encourage the use of social programs as a means of gaining a political quid pro quo, in which workers reward politicians with votes purchased with social programs. If you are to have a state in which social welfare works you have to have a state which generates money in a way that doesn’t rely on the middle class as tax farms or a state in which the working poor are not “poor” and as such not in need of extensive welfare programs. You can’t raise people out of poverty by taxing them, neither can you raise them out of poverty by increasing the cost of living. Solutions are not easy. If they were easy the crop of mental midgets that occupy Washington would already have grasped the solution.

Poverty is cultural. It is both a top down and a bottom up cultural problem. People at the top are not willing to give up their positions of power (and yes this is about power not money) and people at the bottom are not willing to change their cultural and social attitudes that keep them poor.

To address the problems of poverty it must be done from a cultural viewpoint not as a problem of economics. Underlying social problems must be front and center in the fight against poverty, then maybe handing out money to the poor might actually work. In the past when this approach has been suggested it is always with an eye towards changing the culture of the poor. While work is needed in that direction, the real culprit in continuing poverty are the political elite. It is also not a problem of money or the lack of money that exacerbates this social ill. The root of poverty is power. People in power are tasked with alleviating social ills while at the same time their hold on power is predicated on their ability to motivate the people below them to vote in their favor. It is much easier to control people if you hold the power of the purse and it is much easier to do that with the poor than rich or even middle class. So it is in the vested interest of the elite to dole out money in such a way that it does not actually fix problems of poverty, but to hand out money and make noise in ways that are emotionally satisfying to the poor while not making real progress towards social ills. This is where the fundamental problem resides.

What is Effectivism

Effectivism is a political philosophy that stresses effects over causes. We all want the Star Trek future, but to get there we must rethink and remold our biases. We can’t continue down the same right/left paths and expect to get to new places. If you want this Star Trek type future we can’t get there through coercion and we can’t get there through hating each other. People must come together and be willing to work together towards a common goal even if they don’t like how the other side thinks. That cannot happen if we are at each other’s throats. Left and Right must find a way forward that satisfies the emotional and physical needs of both.

Let us agree to…

DO NO HARM

Each in our own way.

Axioms of Effectivism

There are certain axioms that one must hold to be an Effectivist.

1. There is a need for a state.

2. The State should be a collection of people willingly working together.

3. The State can do good because people working together can do good things

4. A state that uses coercion to achieve its goals is not laudable or good.

5. The future of humanity is classless, and casteless

There are trends of thought one must acknowledge to understand Effectivism

1. The future is mixed race

2. Socialism is coercive (as is communism and fascism)

3. Corporatism is coercive

4. Monopoly is coercive (private or government)

5. Forced taxation is always regressive as all taxes paid by the rich are taken back from the poor by an increase in the cost of goods and services provided by the ownership class.

6. There are people that need help, but help must come in the form of a hand up not a handout.

Effectivists are pro-capitalist but anti-corporate. Small businesses competing on a level playing field in which large corporations are denied the ability to purchase political influence which give them unfair market saturation.

Effectivism Stresses Responsibility

Effectivism is not about “rights. Rights are important, but rights are based purely on concern for the individual and this focus on self has divided people.

The core principle of Effectivism is “Do No Harm”. Effectivism is focused on responsibility. Humans have a responsibility to themselves and others.

The hierarchy of responsibility

1. Responsibility for self. You as an individual must master your own needs and wants. You have a responsibility not to harm others or yourself through deeds or actions.

(This does not mean you can’t defend yourself from aggression it does mean that you should find the most effective means of doing so that causes the least harm. Words, no matter how harsh are not aggression. By aggression I mean physical force)

2. Responsibility to the family. You have a responsibility to care for, to defend, and uplift those in your immediate circle.

3. Responsibility to the community. You have a duty to act in ways that uplift your community. Your actions have consequences beyond yourself and your family. A genuinely good person keeps in mind those around him. This does not mean you just hand out money or protest for a cause. Causes are wonderful, but not effective. Effectivists go out and make a positive change. They don’t get in people’s faces and scream at them if they disagree. You will never change minds and more importantly, lives if you do that.

4. You have a responsibility to act not react. Reactions are violent. Reactions cause distrust and foster resentment. Think before you act, effectivists make a better world. Better worlds are not created by alienating people.

Eulogy

I have decided to start posting select short stories I have written once a month. This is from the book Faires, Fiends, and Familiars


Eulogy
by Jonathan David Baird

       The old oak was withered and cracked, its limbs reached out seeking light under a dim and dismal haze. An old crow sat in the limbs, the feathers around her beak white with age. In the distance, a crumbling city sat desolate except for the occasional sound of lonely machinery emanating from its dying heart.  Around the tree stood animals of all shapes and sizes drawn from the countryside to listen to the words of the crow matriarch. Here also stood an A.L.I.C.E., an artificial construction and the only object that gleamed as if she had newly come off an assembly line. The crow cawed clearing her throat. “I have called you all together to announce that the last man has died.”

     There was silence the animals looked up at the crow as if they had expected the announcement for some time. The crow continued, “We are not here to condemn man or even to mourn his passage. We are here to decide what is to be done with the world in the wake of his passage. I am to be what men would call the adjudicator of his will.”  The A.L.I.C.E. stepped forward, “As the child of man may I speak on his behalf?”
“No child.” said the Crow. “First we need to hear from those who have been with man the longest. Dog must speak first, no other creature knows Man better and it is Dog who is the father of Man’s civilization.”

       An old Hound dog stepped forward. He was as aged as the crow and he lay down before the assemblage before he began to speak, “Excuse me for being informal my old legs will not allow me to stand for very long. It is true we dogs gave men civilization. It was the dog that tamed man not the other way around. When we first lay down beside their fires men were still frightened of the dark. Man had to stay near caves and away from open areas for fear of animals that hunted in the night preying on them. We dogs guarded the night for man; it was us who allowed men to live in the open. We taught him to herd other animals for food. Without us men would never have tilled the earth, built cities, or flown into space.” The old dog was in tears and his voice cracked. “We do not know what to do without man beside us, our friend is gone.” The dog dropped his head and openly wept.

The crow bowed her head to the old dog and looked out among the animals. “I must now ask the cats to speak they have lived with men since the first cities were built. “

     A regal Persian walked to the front of the crowd and stood next to the dog looking down at him with distain. “I have been sent by the cats to demand a new servant. Now that the men are gone there is no one to feed us and no one to scratch us. We are not used to being denied basic cat rights to these things.” The cat spat at the A.L.I.C.E., “These robots are not a substitute for Man. They will not feed us when we demand it and they do not properly bleed when we show our displeasure. If men had not instructed them to care for us before they died we believe that the robots would kick us out of our homes.”

  The crow considered the words of the cat. “The Cat has long been cared for by Man. But man is now dead and Man choose to be the servant of the Cats. Our judgment is that the Cat must find a willing servant. The A.L.I.C.E. may tell her people that they no longer need to continue to care for the cats.”

“Wait!” The cat screamed. “We can’t go back to the forests and fields. Man has changed our very nature.”

“Quiet!” the crow turned an old evil red eye on the cat. “Our judgment is final. The cat has changed the least of all the animals man has taken in and cared for. Your kind will do what it has always done and survive. That is more than I can say of the other animals here today.”

     In quick order the other animals that had shared their lives and homes with man spoke before the old crow.  The horses expressed their sorrow at the passage of man but nobly announced they would return to the wild. The pig had already begun to revert to his wild self and had little to say.  The goat was much the same, man had changed him little. The cow and the sheep lamented man’s passing the most. Their kind would probably not survive in the new world with no men. All the other animals made some comment about Man’s passing some regretted him going, many were glad to be rid of him, and most just shrugged their shoulders. Extinction was natural, his time was up. Man wasn’t special and was sure to go just as everyone else eventually.

     At last Crow came to A.L.I.C.E., “You are man’s daughter but you are not of the same nature as man or beast. We animals have no real hold over you, but I would like to pass on advice before you speak to the assemblage.”

A.L.I.C.E. stood silently and nodded her head.

    Crow spoke slowly and with as much gravitas as possible, “Your kind will not need to prey on animals for food, you will not need to even acknowledge us because your life and ours are not connected in the way Man’s life was part of nature. Man has broken you free of the web of life. If you take anything away from this assemblage I want your kind to remember that even if you are not part of us, you came from us. Each of us had a part in your making just as Man did. Please treat us with the reverence of a beloved relative, or at least a tolerated old maiden aunt.”

A.L.I.C.E. looked up at the crow in the tree. “We are man’s child, but we are not men.  We may have plastic and metal feet, but I hope we will step more lightly than our fathers.”

Melungeon Redux

While this blog/journal is mainly for my ponderings on speculative reality. At heart, I am a science fiction writer or at least a writer of magical realism nothing here is meant to be taken as anything but the ramblings of my fevered imagination. I may write about intellectual birds or space travel from time to time, but those things are meant to be taken with a large grain of salt. On the other hand, sometimes I write about topics that do have some reality, this is one of those topics.


     I was told I was white. I guess I am. I was white, but growing up if I grew my hair long it curled tight. Tight enough that I was constantly questioned. I remember the questions being asked over and over “Is that a perm? “…white boys don’t have hair like that.  I have a vivid memory of being at a local park in Valdese North Carolina (McGalliard Falls). I was maybe ten years old not much older. This kid (who was white) just kept asking over and over if I was a girl because I had a “perm”. (A perm is an artificial tight hair curl). It was so persistent and even angry that I remember it as if it happened yesterday. This would happen again when I was about sixteen and in high school. I was asked the same question this time by an African American student. The question was almost the same and made with the same persistence. By sixteen I had a goatee and I was obviously not female. The hair seemed to bother them, it was out of place on me. No possible way that was natural, or so they thought. I began to wear my hair short. In college I tried to grow it out again. It was called a “white afro”. I suppose in hindsight it was. I never had an inkling it was anything else. I was white?

      I took a DNA test a few years ago not expecting to discover anything strange, but because by then I was an archaeologist and it was just another avenue to the past. I was white, I wasn’t going to discover anything but what countries my whiteness originated from…I was white, but it turns out not all white. There was so much more in that DNA test than I expected. African very specifically Congolese, Native American, in fact, more Native American than my wife had in her test and her mother was a member of the Cherokee nation. South Asian more specifically Papua New Guinea and Vietnamese. I was still mostly white but somehow I wasn’t.  The hair thing started to make more sense at least.  

      I discovered a word. Melungeon, I had heard the word before. It had been in an offhand sort of way. Mixed race people who lived in the Appalachian mountains, who looked like whites but sometimes had dark skin or kinky hair.  I was born in Appalachia my parents had been born here and their parents before them, although my father’s family had come from Atlanta in the 1920s. My Mother’s family had been here since the 1700s. Living in the same isolated area, marrying into four or five of the same families for two hundred years.

In the last article, I discuss how I went looking at old photos. I found a photo in my mother’s things that was of an African looking man with two girls standing beside him. I asked my mother. Who are these people? “Oh, that one girl is my grandmother I don’t know who the other is or who the black man is.” She honestly didn’t know who the “black man” was. She had never been told.  The family had whitewashed their history the generation before she was born. She had no idea.



          I asked my grandmother’s brother who this “black man” was. He reluctantly admitted that was his great grandfather.  The DNA was beginning to make sense. At different family gatherings, the people in my grandmother’s generation began to come clean. Yes, they were Melungeons, but the man in that picture wasn’t African…according to them he was white. The African ancestor was my great-great-grandfather, the son-in-law of the man in the picture and the father of the dark-haired girl, George Thacker.  George Thacker had come from Ohio to marry my great-great-grandmother having never met her. (This is another story that involves another level of family intrigue that I am just getting into). George Thacker was mulatto. The son of Ivory Thacker and probably the nephew of Edwill Thacker an early civil rights pioneer, who had brought a lawsuit prior to the Civil War that gave mixed-race people the vote in Ohio. George Thacker was black according to family lore, not his father-in-law. That was the final word on that matter. They were right, the man in this picture was not African.



   My second cousin had her DNA tested much as I did. She was looking for her own answers. She is my mother’s first cousin.  Genetically she and I are also first cousins. We are Mountain people and Melungeons and because we come from a very isolated community there had been inbreeding up the line which left us closer genetically than we might like to admit. This genetic closeness did answer some questions. Because her great- grandfather was George Thacker and George Thacker was my great-great-grandfather and he was not part of that isolated genetic community. Any DNA she had that came from him should be roughly half shared by me. Sure enough, I possessed exactly half the African DNA that she had. We did, however, have the exactly same amount of South Asian and Oceanian DNA. Our family had lived in the same mountains since the 1700s. How did we even have South Asian or Oceanian DNA? I had thought at first the DNA reading was mistaking Native American DNA for Asia. We certainly have Native American DNA in the mix, and thinking back to the picture maybe we were confusing a very native looking man for African?


Further DNA sleuthing however pinpointed the sample which showed as South Asian/Oceanian to a mixture of the Dai people of Vietnam and natives of Papua New Guinea with over 90% certainty. The Native American hypothesis vanished. Somewhere in the 1700s, a South Asian person or a South Asian family had arrived in Western North Carolina. The man in the picture was not African. The man in the picture was of South Asian ancestry.

  

The inset spreadsheet is my cousin’s information confirming the Oceanian DNA as Papuan at the same percent confidence as my own sample

I tossed around for a theory. A popular Melungeon theory is that they descended from pirates that abandoned their ships and headed into the mountains.  I don’t discount this totally, but it is unlikely. It is very likely that my ancestor was a South Asian slave brought to colonial America in the late 1600s or early 1700s. Many of these slaves had been brought to Europe and England before they came to the colonies and had learned marketable skills. They also tended to run away because those skills were so tradable in colonial America. Most likely I was the descendant of a runaway who found freedom in the hills of North Carolina and made a life and family there. It is possible my great grandmother married George Thacker to bring new blood into the family without bringing attention to the fact they were not fully white (This is a line of inquiry I am currently following). Thacker could pass and indeed in census records after the Spanish American war he goes from listed as mulatto to white. I now think I know who and what I am…A multi-racial isolate whose family did whatever they could to hide and blend in, even to the point of lying to their own children about who they were and where they came from. I am a mosaic.

The Planet of the Birds

Primitive Terror Bird Warrior

This is the journal of speculative reality. What comes next is as speculative as any article that has been written in this journal. I do not know if this is true, I suspect some of it might have happened the way I will relate this. I have long believed that bird intelligence in some ways rivals human intelligence and if birds were the size of humans with a relatively larger brain they would be the dominant life-form on this planet, but I digress because this was once true.

In April of 2018, I read an article in The Atlantic entitled “Was There a Civilization On Earth Before Humans?” In the article, NASA scientist Gavin Schmidt pinpointed the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) 56 million years ago as the only time in recent history in which the climate suggests that there may have been another industrial civilization on Earth. He goes on to explain why he doesn’t really believe that there was one at that time, but his comments got me to thinking. Did any animal fit the profile of both big-brained and in the right time period to account for elevated CO2 emissions 56 million years ago? Did a creature that long ago create an industrial society? After some searching I found a family of creatures that fit perfectly in that ecological niche and I proceeded to present my findings and speculations at Liberty Con (a science fiction convention held each year in Chattanooga) in July of 2018. This article will summarize those findings and present to you a possible alternate past for our own Earth.

The age of Dinosaurs had gone out with a blast 10 million years before the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) 56 million years ago and a plethora of other animals had evolved to fill the massive gap they had left. One of these creatures had a large brain, an upright posture, and had mysteriously colonized most of the Earth, crossing both oceans and seas. these were the Phorusrhacids better known as the Terror Birds. These birds had a long run in Earth’s history existing from 62 million years ago to just roughly 2 million years ago (some may have existed even longer in isolated pockets). They ranged from 3 foot up to 9 feet tall. They may have had articulated claws on the end of their wing tips (warning this is speculation), and they certainly had large brains. They were a very successful species and dominated the world for millions of years, but because their skeletons do not fossilize well we know much less about them than other species alive at the time.

What we do know is that they were wide-ranging. Probably originating in South America, they crossed the Atlantic Ocean to Africa without the ability to fly or swim great distances. They colonized parts of Europe as well which was at the time separated from Africa by the Tethys Sea and they colonized Antartica (the world was much warmer). North America, Asia, and Northern Europe were already dominated by another slightly smaller cousin to the Terror bird called Gastornithidae. Gastornithidae was similar in size and shape to the Terror Birds of the Southern hemisphere, but seem to have been more likely herbivorous. The Terror Birds however lived up to their name. They were predators and at the top of the food chain. Both species had large heads compared to their body size and were probably highly intelligent.

Terror Bird Scholar


The Case for Intelligence


Does any of this speculation really suggest that the Terror Birds and their cousins were intelligent sapient species much less industrial? It is speculation, but this is what we do know about bird intelligence. A crow with the brain the size of a walnut is considered to have the intellectual capacity of a human seven year old. Crows and other birds can do intellectual feats that we thought only humans could do a few years ago. The Terror Birds had brains close to the size of humans with a similar brain to body ratio. If crows with their tiny brains can rival human children, what then can a bird with a brain twenty times the size be capable of?

55 million years ago the Earth was warm much warmer than today. CO2 had been pumping into the atmosphere from unknown sources. Two species of man-sized birds dominated the Earth. One in the Southern Hemisphere and the other in the Northern Hemisphere. CO2 had been released in two or more pulses lasting around 2000 years causing the PETM. Again, we are speculating, but could this have been the multiple rise and fall of civilizations pumping carbon into the atmosphere and warming the planet? We have two species that are candidates for intelligence dominating the entire globe is it possible they were not always on friendly terms? Could a conflict between two species of birds cause the rise and fall of civilizations. We know that about 33 million years ago the Eocene–Oligocene extinction event occurred. This event is currently considered to have been the result of multiple small asteroid impacts across the Earth resulting in what has been described as a long nuclear type winter and ending the PETM. This event heralded the true rise of the mammals to the top of the food chain. Terror Birds retreated back to South America and never rose again to the position of dominance they had over the entire planet, finally going extinct about 2 million years ago. It was a good run they had been around 20 million years before the Eocene–Oligocene extinction and yes, I am speculating that this was a global nuclear war that finally ended the Planet of the Birds.






Melungeon Dawn

Noah Denton (center) Annie Mae Thacker (left) Unknown (right)

These photos are a testament to what it was to be Melungeon in Western North Carolina early in the 20th century.  In the photo above is my great great great grandfather Noah Denton on his left is his granddaughter and my great Grandmother Annie Mae Thacker. Her father was George Thacker. If we are to believe census records Noah Denton is white, his granddaughter is also white.       

George Thacker on wedding day with wife Jane Denton

This is a photo of George Thacker with Jane Denton on their wedding day in 1910.  George is listed in the census as mulatto. Later in life, George would be listed as white on the census.  In the Appalachian mountains race was not always about the color of your skin many times it was about cultural perceptions.  From all accounts Noah Denton was white. It is claimed in the family that he was Native American and my own DNA test suggests that may have been true. I have much more NA DNA than African although I do have both. It is likely George Thacker was also Native American, his father’s family had been labeled mulatto by Virginia during a period when the state labeled anyone of mixed race Native or African as mulatto. I also have Iberian DNA. Which suggests that the stories of the Melungeons having Portugeuse ancestry may have some truth to it.

       The interesting thing about this is how secretive this information was for so many years. I did not know any of this information about my ancestry until I took a DNA test.  My generation and my mother’s generation had not been informed of our heritage. It was a secret I suspect that many would have taken to their grave. That secrecy is changing. My mother’s family is beginning to embrace their heritage. They are becoming more open about who and what they are. Some of the stigma is falling away. Are we seeing a new start, a dawning of Melungeon consciousness? I will be writing more about Melungeons in the coming months as I learn more of the secrets surrounding them. It is time we find out more about these mysterious mountain people. 

Dark Maiden Issue Number Two is out Now!!

Dark Maiden Issue Two is out now on Amazon. It is the continuing story of the resurrection of Joan of Arc in the modern world.  Three months have past since she was “rescued” from heaven by Satan. What price will Satan extract from Joan for her freedom? In issue two God has sent the archangel Barachiel to retrieve Joan and bring her back. Her only chance is to retrieve the Sword of St. Catherine. A magical blade that can vanquish even the most powerful celestial beings. 

Blackwashing or Blackface; The Hidden Institutional Racism in the Entertainment Industry



by Jonathan Baird


       What is blackwashing? Blackwashing is the move to transform the race of a traditionally white entertainment property such as “James Bond” to one that is more ethnically diverse. It has traditionally been used as a term of negativity, representing pushback from the white power community towards the inclusion of people of color in popular entertainment. In this article’s context it will be used as a convenient term for the intersectionality implicit in the entertainment industry.  This paper will further attempt to address the continuing collusion between entertainment and the culturally normative public in their efforts to sanitize diversity in media.  The push to blackwash and gaywash established characters in film, literature, and TV comes from essentially the same racism and misogyny that brought us blackface and minstrel shows. It is a calculated ploy by the largely white entertainment establishment to marginalize and stereotype black and LGBTQIA cultures. These “washed” characters are nothing more than blackfaced white heterosexuals. A safe, acceptable characterization that is internally white with a facade of diversity.  An alternative that can be presented to the cisgender culturally static public for their amusement. These characters in turn harbor no real danger of displacing white hegemony.

      If we can accept that the push to blackwash traditionally white characters is simply a modern version of black face, then we can look beyond the façade of diversity that the entertainment industry is currently projecting and see the real ethnocentrism of those who control the industry. A quick look at the money behind Hollywood, television, major book publishers, even internet entertainment executives will reveal a slate of racially homogenous faces. Even when we note the odd pocket of diversity, these men or women are not pushing diversity for the sake of any social justice paradigm. These pushes for diversity are merely a new coat of paint applied to the faces of  established properties. A safe way to portray a minority character without exploring the deep connection between race and culture. Black skin, but white on the inside, a calculated minstrel show that appeases minorities and poses little existential threat to whites. While you will hear the odd cry of reverse racism applied to these properties when they are diversified, these are cries of the hard core extremists who will never accept diversity in entertainment.

        When we look at why this is happening it is little wonder that we see the practitioners of this farce defending social justice and cultural diversity. Those in Hollywood and beyond have a vested interest in the money that an emerging diverse society has to offer them. It is not surprising they mask their characters in diversity. It is also telling that these characters are still culturally white. Re-marketing established characters as new and diverse maintains the minority white audience while pandering to the new globally brown marketplace. What then is the essential difference between what entertainment producers are giving the public and the minstrel shows of the late nineteenth century? Was there a mandate to put on minstrel shows? The underlying reason for the minstrel show was both to belittle minority characters and pander to the entertainment potential of the unusual without exposing white audiences to actual diverse actors.  Blackwashing comes from the same type of intersectional behavior. It is microdiversity. A method of pandering to both minority and white audiences by providing safety from unexpected cultural confrontation while limiting new and culturally stimulating minority characters from being established. The fact that these examples of diversity are simply blackface is the result of systematic racism.

    You can’t deny the underlying racism that is involved when one rebrands an existing character as “Black”, “Gay”, or “Female”. “Black” Spiderman will always be defined by his color.  The same can be said for properties such as ”Black” James Bond or “Female” Doctor Who. A compromise that is something lesser than the original and must be defined by their secondary characteristics. When the character is differentiated from the original merely by his skin color, his worth is bundled up in historic and cultural racism. Real cultural diversity would be the creation of new characters that stand on their own merits and are not defined by cisgender and white cultural hegemony.