Category Archives: Bacon and pigs

Systemic Racism? What’s That?

By Peter Galuszka

At Bacon’s Rebellion there’s a constant, grating mantra debunking the concept that the U.S. has a serious problem with “Institutional” or “Systemic” Racism.

Slavery? Jim Crow? Irrelevant! We’re treated to commentary after commentary that Blacks just need to try harder. They are lazy. They do not support family values. They get too much wasted money in school spending and health care. Their constant abuse by law enforcement is imaginary. Black Lives Matters is a hateful, racist movement. BLM jeopardizes our values. Students interested in the movement were not “indoctrinated” enough. It’s bad enough if it comes up in public schools, but let BLM come up at a toney private institution in a wealthy, mostly White suburb, then it is a blood libel against every private school headmaster in the country.

For a partial list of blog postings with ideas, please see the URLs at the end of this column.

Ok. So what? Well, this morning I saw a small story in The Washington Post that shocked me since it went right to the heart of Institutional and/or Systemic Racism. If you still don’t believe it exists, read on. Continue reading

Bacon Bits: Pigskins, COVID, Unemployment

Hail the to Pigskins. The football team formerly known as the Washington Redskins has punted on adopting a new permanent name this season, and will refer to itself for the time being as the Washington Football Team. The pause allows the team to “undertake an in-depth branding process” that incorporates player, alumni, fan, community and sponsor input. the team announced. What a cop-out. I’m still holding out hope for the team to rename itself the Washington Pigskins.

COVID risk metrics for school districts. The Virginia Department of Health and Virginia Department of Education are collaborating on a new COVID-19 dashboard to guide local education officials when deciding how to reopen schools this fall. The dashboard likely will include eight to 10 local metrics such as confirmed cases, percent-positive rates on tests, hospitalizations, and the number of local emergency room visits for COVID-19-like illnesses. School divisions will be flagged, red, yellow and green to indicate whether they should reopen, adopt a hybrid model, or adopt a distance-learning model, reports the Prince William Times.

One suggestion: The dashboard should include the number of people testing positive in the age ranges corresponding to elementary, middle, and high school.  Given the different risk profiles for younger and older children, it makes no sense to impose a uniform policy. School boards might consider keeping elementary schools open while going online with high schools.

Economic health metrics. Meanwhile, another 37,946 Virginians have filed for unemployment claims, according to the Virginia Employment Commission. That’s up 17.5% from the previous week. All told, more than one million Virginians have filed for unemployment benefits for the first time since March. “Virginia’s preliminary weekly change — up 7,896 on a seasonally adjusted basis — was the largest increase among the states,” reports the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Tragedy on Interstate 95

Southbound traffic on Interstate 95 near the Thornsburg exit was disrupted yesterday when several pigs wandered into traffic. Several of the animals were injured. It is heartening to hear that numerous motorists stopped to render aid to the suffering creatures.

It’s one thing to see deer roadkill. Deer are a menace to society. Pigs are intelligent beings deserving of human empathy and compassion. Read the story here. — JAB

Our Gutsy Governor

By Peter Galuszka

On June 24, 2015, Nikki Haley, a Republican who was South Carolina’s first non-white governor, called for the removal of a Confederate flag that had been flying over the state’s capitol grounds for years.

“This flag, while an integral part of our past, does not represent the future of our great state,” she said. Her action came a few days after an avowed white supremacist walked into an African-American church and opened fire, killing church members attending a service.

I was watching the news on TV when she made her gutsy move. I was deeply impressed.

And now, Ralph Northam, a Democrat who is governor of Virginia, has taken a similarly gutsy move. He has ordered that the state-owned statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee be removed from its stand on Monument Avenue in Richmond. It has been there for about 130 years, erected by white supremacists with deep sentiment for their romantic myths of Southern history.

“I believe in a Virginia that learns lessons from our past and we all know that our country needs that example right now,” Northam said. Continue reading

The Real Danger with ANTIFA

By Peter Galuszka

Get ready. The names of all kinds of leftist organizations are going to be kicked around as the masterminds behind violent, cop-beating looters, especially the so-called ANTIFA movement in Virginia and across the country..

But what is reality? I don’t have clear answers but I have some ideas to share since I have been dealing with activist groups since I was in high school in the late 1960s. I hope they help this blog’s discussion.

First, there’s plenty of research available about ANTIFA and there are already plenty of reports about it. It is not a single group but a very loose collection of autonomous activist groups, most of which do not advocate violence. For reference, see yesterday’s Daily Beast piece with the blunt headline, “Trump’s ‘ANTIFA Threat Is Total Bullshit – And Totally Dangerous.”

That article and plenty of others note that ANTIFA, or whatever it is, has no clear chain of command and uses ultra-fast social media to alert other activists about rallies and protests but has no control over them. If you are thinking about the tightly-controlled and secretive Communist cells of the past century, you are not getting it. Continue reading

WTJU Podcast: COVID-19 and the Economy

By Peter Galuszka

Here’s is the twice-monthly podcast produced by WTJU, the official radio station of the University of Virginia. With me on this podcast  are Nathan Moore, the station general manager, and Sarah Vogelsong, who covers, labor, energy and environmental issues across the state for the Virginia Mercury, a fairly new and highly regarded non-profit news outlet. Our topic is how Virginia is handling the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Screwing Workers On Safety and Liability

A GRTC bus driver in better times

By Peter Galuszka

At 4:30 a.m. on April 27, about 100 workers of the Greater Richmond Transit Company — half of the total – failed to show up for work.

Worried about the health of its membership, Local 1220 of the International Amalgamated Transit Union demanded additional safety measures such as full personal protection equipment, time and a half hazardous pay, limits on the numbers of passenger and testing.

GRTC management threatened to fire workers who stayed away from work but agreed to talk. A resolution may come at a May 19 board meeting.

Indeed, stories are showing up throughout Virginia and across the country as workers most likely to be exposed to COVID-19 often have the least protection and no guarantees their employers will provide testing, hospitalization and sick pay.

In Timberville near Harrisonburg, workers at a Pilgrim’s Pride poultry plant worry that they are required to work at less than six feet –- considered safe distancing –- from each other. In Norfolk, non-union workers at a General Dynamics ship facility were required to do electrical work until they refused, citing exposure threats and a death. Continue reading

Accidental Post Retracted

Note to readers: I accidentally published a post, “How Lawmakers Coddle Hospital Monopolies,” by guest contributor Jim Sherlock who was still in the process of editing and fact-checking. I have pulled it from the blog, and will re-publish when it meets our editorial standards. My apologies for the confusion.

— JAB

The Apigolypse

Forget about global warming for just a minute. Set aside your fears of national bankruptcy and economic collapse. If you’re looking for calamities, this is really serious: One quarter of the world’s hog population could die from a devastating strain of African swine fever, reports USA Today.

How apocalyptic is the situation? Just ask Mark Schipp, president of the World Organization for Animal Health: “I don’t think the species will be lost, but it’s the biggest threat to the commercial raising of pigs we’ve ever seen. It’s the biggest threat to any commercial livestock of our generation.”

He doesn’t think the species will be lost? That’s reassuring.

The paucity of news coverage suggests to me that people aren’t taking this nearly seriously enough. Let me tell you, if world health officials said that one quarter of all dogs on the planet were destined for the big kennel in the sky, the story would be massive. If one quarter of felines on the planet were headed for kitty kingdom come, the story might be played even bigger (although there might be some celebration mixed in with the caterwauling).

All I can say is that it’s a darn good thing that there are plenty of feral pigs out there — no thanks to the Washington Post!! Commercial hog raising may go under, but as long as pigs roam free, we won’t have to worry about the species becoming extinct!

Lucky thing the United States is sitting on a 40 million-pound surplus of uneaten bacon, a 48-year high. As it turns out, it may not be nearly enough.

— JAB

Dominion Goes Whole Hog for Waste-to-Energy

Hog waste farm: from methane polluter to renewable energy source.

by James A. Bacon

Dominion Energy and Smithfield Foods are investing a half billion dollars to capture methane from hog farms and convert it to “renewable natural gas.” The partnership aims to become the “largest renewable natural gas supplier in the U.S.,” according to a press release issued Wednesday.

A few days ago, I noted how Dominion had sold a $2 billion stake in its Cove Point liquefied natural gas project as part of a larger restructuring of the company away from businesses exposed to market forces in favor of regulated businesses like electric utilities and gas distribution companies. I wondered if Dominion now sees its competitive advantage as its ability to manipulate the regulatory and legislative process.

This new venture, Align Renewable Natural Gas, suggests that Dominion hasn’t abandoned risk-taking ventures entirely. Dominion is making a $250 million bet that a “waste-to-energy” model, demonstrated only in pilot projects, can be implemented nationally. I don’t recall the company having taken a risk of this magnitude to create an entirely new business model before. Continue reading

An Ignominious Footnote to Bacon-Related History

One of America’s founding fathers is finally getting his due: Old Bacon Face. That was the moniker bestowed upon Samuel Chase — an Annapolis, Md. lawyer, signer of the Declaration of Independence, and member of the U.S. Supreme Court — whose mug had a reddish-brown complexion. The House of Representatives voted to impeach Chase in 1805 for his outrageously partisan behavior on the bench, but the Senate could not muster two-thirds majorities to convict him.

This history lesson comes from the Washington Post in the wake of Democratic presidential candidates calling for the impeachment of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Chase was the only Supreme Court Justice ever to be impeached.

— JAB

Important Updates in the World of Bacon

Introducing a new feature on Bacon’s Rebellion — our healthy eating recommendations. As all good Baconauts know, it is our personal responsibility to embrace good nutrition to maintain our health and control health care costs. It’s important to eat lots of salad.

Hat tip: John Butcher

Of, course, no survivalist’s pantry would be complete without Yoder’s canned bacon — with an astounding 10-year shelf life! Only $189.99 on Amazon.com for a case of 12 cans!! Without bacon, there’s not much point in outliving the collapse of civilization.

Finally, an update on the growing list of animal enemies… First they came for the pigs. Then they came for the cats. Now they’re coming for the dogs. From today’s Washington Post: “The dog is one of the world’s most destructive mammals. Brazil proves it.”

— JAB

WaPo Stokes Fear Campaign against Feral Hogs

The Washington Post is ramping up its hate campaign against wild pigs. Labeling the highly intelligent, highly social animals as an “invasive species,” the newspaper describes them as “marauding” across the southern United States,  “eviscerating crops, gobbling up sea turtles, and tramping archaeological sites in a rampage showing no signs of letting up.”

The newspaper invokes their Hispanic origins — “brought to North America from Europe by Spanish conquistadors” — and makes an issue of their high fertility rate: “They produce large litters.” Invoking harmful and negative stereotypes, the newspaper quotes an Arkansas Game & Fish Commissioner spokesman as saying that the animals leave a “trail of diseases and parasites.” And without citing any evidence that wild pigs have attacked humans, it warns, “Their razor sharp tusks combined with their lightning speed can cause serious injury.”

Describing feral hogs as a pest to be exterminated, WaPo writes approvingly of the use of camera-enabled traps, night hunts using infrared scopes, and “helicopter squads rifle-toting sportsmen.” It quotes a Texas wildlife official as suggesting that an AR-15-type firerarm may not pack enough punch to pierce the pig’s tough hide. “The best caliber rifles should be a .243 of greater to prevent wounding and loss of the animal.” Continue reading

Inspiring Image of the Day…

Hat tip: John Butcher

Pigs — Man’s True Best Friend

By any objective standard, pigs are as cute as dogs and cats. Soon, they'll be saving lives. Shouldn't we treat them better?

By any objective standard, pigs are as cute and cuddly as dogs and cats. Soon, they’ll be saving lives. Shouldn’t we treat them better?

Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork producer, announced yesterday that it has created a bioscience division to grow skin and organs for human transplants from pigs.

The Virginia-based company already sells pork byproducts to medical companies developing drugs for ailments such as indigestion, hypothyroidism and deep-vein thrombosis, reports the Virginian-Pilot.

The new unit is part of the Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing institute, funded by the Defense Department, which is developing ways to replace skin for wounded soldiers and preserve human organs. The company also is working with the Harvard Medical School and Columbia University to develop immunology therapy.

Bacon’s bottom line: It’s about time that pigs got their due. Pigs are highly social creatures and high on the scale of intelligence and sentience. And how do we treat them? We pack domestic pigs together in inhuman (or whatever the equivalent word is for pigs) conditions in factory farms. And we hunt wild pigs with inpunity — indeed in some places we seek to eradicate them entirely. Can you imagine the outcry if we hunted down wild cats? If we jammed dogs into tiny stalls and force fed them so we could eat them? Where the heck is PETA?

As Winston Churchill famously said, “”I am fond of pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.”

Surely we can treat pigs as equals in return!