Monthly Archives: April 2013

20130427 – The Lunatic Fringe in the Bible Belt

Saturday – hot and humid. It’s 78 by 10:00.

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Breakfast is back to normal with waffles. Black guy (not PC I know) comes into the breakfast area to ask the receptionist how to tie a tie – no this isn’t the start of a joke. Receptionist has no idea either so I end up giving tie tiring lessons and tie two ties for this geezer. Good to know that usBrits and empire are still good for something.

Check out of our Quality Inn & Suites. Nice hotel; a really friendly greeting on arrival; great wifi; Ice cream, cookies and popcorn in the evening; hot breakfast in the morning; large suite all for $80 a night.

Drive over from Vicksburg to Jackson – the state capital. 

Check in early to another Quality Inn & Suites. Another large suite, great wifi and all for $60 a night.

Drive down to the Farm and Agriculture museum. A interesting indoor museum  along with original farm buildings; village store; gas station (petrol); church; masonic lodge and cotton mill to DSC00216name but a few. A pleasant 2 hours strolling around on a self guided tour.

Then decide to drive into Jackson to stroll around the Froden shopping district. Best described as a dump.

Visit a giant outdoor shop complete with 100 foot waterfall; giant aquarium and trout stream – only in America. But there the amazement with Jackson ends.

We’re still trying to find a supermarket. It seems the whole state has been monopolised by Walmart. That’s it you have Walmart, Walmart and perhaps a Kroeger. Choice? There is none. Should this be a wake up call to us?

I think I may have mentioned that the dominant cuisine in Mississippi seems to be frying. If its edible then before ŷou dish it out, fry it seems to be the rule. Breadcrumb it and then fry it is the ultimate golden rule.

Well tonight we’ve had enough. Yes we’ve enjoyed all the new exotic dishes, but tonight it’s something simple thats been no where near a frying pan. So we search high and low. What do we have in the end? A salad, the only thing they can’t fry. “Oh I’m sorry we can’t serve wine sir, this is a dry county.”

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You know friends think this travelling is all fun and pleasure. Little do they realise the deprivations us pioneer travellers have to suffer. Here we are in the 21st Century in Jackson, Mississippi a dry state. NO WINE. How do people survive here? Has the place been infested with Mormons? It’s like going to a 3rd World country. No doubt some local tin pot religious fruitcake Christian fundamentalist clown of a politician has decided to inflict his views on the rest of the inhabitants.

Certainly not impressed with Jackson in particular and Mississippi as a state seems a bit basic and backward.

A guy goes in an adult book store and asks for an inflatable doll.
Guy behind the counter says, “Male or female?”
Customer says, “Female.”
Counter guy asks, “Black or white?”
Customer says, “White.”
Counter guy asks, “Radical Christian or Muslim Extremist?”
Customer says, “What the hell does religion have to do with it?”
Counter guy says, “The Muslim Extremist blows itself up.”

Go on have a good laugh at yourselves. It’s really not that bad.

Sunday – clouds and rain, but very warm.

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Breakfast is a waffle training session for one of the locals who doesn’t have a clue. Followed by a discussion with some red neck who has the solution to the Korean situation. Bomb the little bastard, it’ll only take an hour and those poor blighters don’t look very happy anyway. 

Swap cars at Jackson airport. “A full-sized Chevy for you sir.” “Please can I have a mid sized Chevy Cruze?” She looks at me as if I’m some sort of half wit out of a shack in a Bayou.

Chevy Cruze it is.

Drive up to Birmingham, Alabama about 3 hours drive.

Check into a lovely suite in a Comfort Inn just outside Birmingham. All of $75 a night including breakfast and wifi.

Pop out in the pouring rain for some dinner and a bottle of wine, 

Here in the Bible Belt there’s another form of Religious fruitcakes, it’s the Christian fundamentalists this time, mind you, in the main, they don’t go around trying to blow you up or stone you to death. Instead in Shelby county it’s no alcohol on a Sunday, yet 2 miles down the road in Jefferson county you can buy alcohol. And of course you can buy a gun anywhere!

Apparently many states prohibit selling alcohol for on and off-premise sales in one form or another on Sundays at some restricted time, under the idea that people should be in church on Sunday morning, or at least not drinking.

Yet the 1st amendment states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion….”. So here we have a law respecting the Christian religion and ramming it’s archaic doctrines down everyones throat.

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The Supreme Court of the United States held in its landmark case, McGowan v. Maryland (1961), that Maryland’s blue laws violated neither the Free Exercise Clause nor the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. It approved the state’s blue law restricting commercial activities on Sunday, noting that while such laws originated to encourage attendance at Christian churches, the contemporary Maryland laws were intended to serve “to provide a uniform day of rest for all citizens” on a secular basis and to promote the secular values of “health, safety, recreation, and general well-being” through a common day of rest.

OK sort of makes some sorted of warped sense. In which case why aren’t the supermarkets closed?

21st century and this lunacy prevails in a supposedly civilised country. Yet another argument in favour of banning religion. God bless the agnostics and atheists!

Buy 6 bottles to be on the safe side as who knows what Christian lunacy prevails in Tennessee.

 

20130425 – Picking Cotton

Thursday – hot and sunny.

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Good breakfast followed by coffee in the room watching the Mississippi roll on by. Massive barges plying their trade, fast down stream but walking pace upstream against the current. 

Drive down to the Frogmore Plantation for a guided tour around an original plantation and slave quarters. Superb guided tour. Knowledgable guide tells us all about cotton picking then and now and slave life. Even get the chance to pick some cotton. All supported by two great videos. Can’t believe it took us 2.5 hours. Well worth the money.

After our lavish lunch, a banana and water, we visit Melrose an original Antebellum Greek style plantation owners house. Operated by the National Park service and as its National Park week entrance is free. As usual with NP there’s a great guided tour. All the original furniture is still inside and it’s been lovingly restored.

Then we have a stroll around downtown Natchez. Stop for a beer at a local “pub” by the river.

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Stop off in a local gift shop run by the black equivalent of Arkwright. A real sales women. Mind you not that we could understand her, our “teach y’all American” certainly dint prepare us-all for this Southern drawl. I’m sure it’s getting broader as we move further North!

For tea it’s Fried dill pickles, Muffalattas and hush puppies complete with jalapeños – yes they’re fried but not a shoe. For Wendy it’s shrimp and crawfish chowder followed by a catfish po-boy. Thankfully I had half a Muffalattas, a real cholesterol special. How DSC00088anyone could eat a full one defies anatomical logic – you certainly wouldn’t be able to walk out, probably need a 911 call to carry you out on a stretcher.

Another action packed day.

According to one of his family members Tamerlan Tsarnaev was, among other things, ‘angry that the world pictures Islam as a violent religion.’ His efforts to refute this charge included planting bombs in the middle of a family sports event in Boston, killing – among others – an eight year old boy.

The case brings to mind that of Muzzammil Hassan from western New York. Hassan was the founder of Bridges TV in the US – a station set up to help ‘non-Muslims overcome the negative images they may have of both Muslims and Islam.’ Mr Hassan was subsequently convicted and sent to prison for beheading his wife.

It seems like the religion of peace has really been at it this week, two Muslim Canadians are on trial for trying to blow up a Canadian passenger train to New York. Three Muslim men DSC00047– including a convert – are on trial at the Old Bailey for plotting to blow up a number of UK targets including the town of Wooton Basset. And at Woolwich Crown Court a cell of radical Muslims from Birmingham are being sentenced for attempting to detonate a set of rucksack bombs and carry out ‘Mumbai-style’ attacks in the UK at targets including synagogues.

Fortunately we in Britain have many politicians willing to address the issues surrounding this. For example, there is Baroness Warsi who was on the television only the other day presenting a short film on ‘Islamophobia’ and declaring that ‘the good news is that government is finally dealing with the issue [of ‘Islamophobia’] and it is now a priority.’

I’d have thought the priority was stopping these fundamentalist attacks and ensuring that we retain freedom of speech, including the right to criticise or mock any religion. “Sticks and stones!”

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Q. How many Muslim extremists will it take to destroy America?
A. None, American Liberals can do it all by themselves, thank you.

Friday – another hot, sunny and humid day.

By way of a change I go completely native for breakfast with grits, biscuits (well scones to us Brits), gravy, bacon that brittle it shatters into tiny fragments and scrambled eggs. Wasn’t sure whether I was expected to smoother it with maple syrup so passed on that.
 
Grits I could live without in my life. Looks like wallpaper paste and I suspect wallpaper paste has more taste. Biscuits and gravy not too bad, just savoury scones smothered in mushroom soup. Stick with waffles or cereal in future.

Take a short drive up the river to Vicksburg, scene of famous civil war battles and long siege. Vicksburg was a key Confederate stronghold that controlled the Mississippi. Many battle as the Union tried to take it but all were repulsed. In the end they lay siege to the town and eventual the Confederates surrended. That’s the history lesson over.

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Great hotel within walking distance of the military park. Yes it is just a 5 minute walk if you can manage to cross the busy two lane highway. Do the patriotic American thing and drive there.
 
Place is run by the National Parks Service so as usual there’s a good visitors centre with a great movie on the battles of Vicksburg. Then you do a +90 minute drive around the battle fields and visit the Ironclad paddle steamer Cairo. All very well done and informative but for the battlefield you can’t help feeling it lacks that something. More of a pleasant drive DSC00135around a monument filled cemetery. Not the sort of place that would excite or engage young children. Perhaps that says it all about the age of my mind. Would have been really good if at least one area was set up “as it was at the battle”, Disney style, complete with trenches, shell craters, mud and gore etc. You don’t come away with any feeling of the true horrors of war, especially back then.
 
Drive down to old town Vicksburg. The “historic district”. You really do feel for the Americans as they have so little long term history and what they do have they seem to have a paucity of genuine artefacts or buildings.
 
Vicksburg, lovely town pleasant to walk around, free wifi and music but so many shops are closed down. Is this the Great Depression all over again or is it the result of out of town shopping Malls. Although the town needn’t bother providing piped Muzak as the local blacks (a tad non PC) share music from their car boom boxes. 

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Can’t even understand the drawl of the beggars. Boy is it hot and humid. Thankfully we’re not here in summer. 
Visit the Mississippi River museum a great hands on place with a river barge you can explore and drive on a simulator. Best of all it’s free. 
 
Then off to a barbecue joint. Another culinary first with Cajun ribs and corn on the cob for tea (dinner for Southern softies). Tasty but difficult to eat with knife and fork, a sticky fingers job.
 
Another great day. Need a rest.
 

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Now here’s a great Muslim initiative and yet another reason to avoid the Maldives.
 
Maldives discussing a total ban of alcohol and pork

A proposed blanket ban on the import of pork and alcohol would destroy the tourism industry of the Maldives beyond repair, Tourism Minister Ahmed Adheeb has told parliament’s National Security Committee.

Local media reports said Addeeb told the committee that vast majority of the Maldives economy relied on tourism, which in turn depended on the sale of alcohol and pork. The whole tourism industry would suffer should these commodities be banned, Adheeb said.

Islamic Minister Sheikh Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed told the committee that serving alcohol and pork or profiting from the trade of such haram commodities was not permitted under Islam.