Saturday, June 19, 2021

 Blogger is replacing all older post in my reading list with the most recent post.  When I go to the latest yellow dog grannie   post the ip address is:  https://yellowdoggrannie.blogspot.com/.

there is no extension at the end to denote different individual different post.   All of her older post now have the same generic address and have been changed to her latest post.   It is the same on my computer and my wife's

any ideas

the Ol'Buzzard

Friday, June 18, 2021

 

IS BLOGGER FUCKED UP OR IS IT ME?


My blogger Reading List is repeating post.   I have four post from Yellowdog Granny and they re all the same,   Three post from She Who Seeks - The titles are different but they are all the same post.    On every post I follow all new and old post are identical to .  

Any one else have that problem?

the Ol'Buzzard  

Thursday, June 17, 2021

UNSOLICITED TELEPHONE CALLS

 



 

Maybe it is because I am in my eighth decade; but I receive an average of five to six robo/unsolicited telephone calls a day.   Many of these calls come in on my caller-id with local Maine numbers and town names, but if I answer they are recordings or someone from Mumbai or Peggy from Russia – so now I don’t answer, and let them go to record.

 

Three times over the last year a man has identified himself as ‘a law enforcement officer’ and stated his ‘badge number’.   He says I am being investigated and unless I return his call immediately a warrant will be issued for my arrest. 

 

Another caller identifies himself as ‘with the IRS’.   He says that a problem has been found in my tax return and if I do not call back immediately $3,256 will be deducted from my checking account within the next three days.   I have had him three time so far this year.

 

My weekly caller is from India; he has a heavy Indian dialect but identifies himself as calling from Medicare.   He also identifies himself as calling from Microsoft, sometimes he says there is a problem with my credit card.    Often, he just says ‘hello, hello, is William there?

 

Back when I answered the phone, before caller-id, I would receive calls from a young man that would begin, ‘Grampa, I’m in trouble.’   He evidently stayed in trouble, because I received his calls about twice a year over three years.

 

And then there are the recordings.

 

These calls are annoying, and I think they are ridiculously funny; but I can’t help but wonder how many old people are actually taken in by these scams?

 

There are vulnerable older women whose husbands took care of the finances, and now alone are easy targets; and old men with onset of dementia…   Emptying people’s bank accounts is bad enough, but when it is aimed and the elderly, it is an additional sin. 

 

 

So now my answering machine states: Because I have received so many unsolicited telephone calls, I no longer answer my phone.  Leave your number and name and if you are a legitimate caller, I will return your call.

 the Ol’Buzzard  


Sunday, May 30, 2021

HISTORY IS WRITTEN BY THE WINNERS OF WARS AND THE PEOPLE IN CONTROL. THAT IS WHY I NEVER HEARD OF THE TULSA MASSACRE

 



 I am in my eighth decade.  I have an undergraduate degree from the University of Maine and a graduate degree from the University of Alaska.   I have taught elementary school, middle school and high school.  I have been principal of four schools.   Until two years ago when I watched the Watchmen television series, I had never heard of the Tulsa Massacre.   At that time, I wasn’t sure whether it was historic or fiction…




It has always annoyed me that history is heavily edited by the nation or state where it occurred, in order to only show a positive image, while white washing any uncomfortable realities.

 

The United States is not ‘The shining city on the hill’ as President Regan proclaimed.  All nations are self-serving with both laudable and despicable histories; but the positive aspects are the only ones that get recorded in our history books.

 

Along with attempted genocide of the Native population; the institution of slavery; being the most warlike nation on earth  (in two-hundred-forty-five years the U.S. has only experienced sixteen years of peace); the confinement of Japanese American citizens in detention camps during the Second World War; the bombing of two Japanese cities with nuclear weapons killing almost a half-million civilians; racial violence in the integration of the South,  the confinement of children and the confinement of parents seeking asylum into separate detention camps… is the history not taught in our schools.  

 

The good, the bad, and the ugly are all a part of our history; and unless we truly teach history in its entirety, we are doomed to repeat the atrocities.

 

The governor of Oklahoma has signed a bill forbidding the history of the Tulsa massacre being taught in Oklahoma schools.  He reasons it would make white students feel uncomfortable. 

 

If schools won’t teach our history, parents should.   Only by citizens understanding our history, can we continually move toward a more perfect Union.


I do not believe the sins of the parents fall to the children and the next generations.   People are products of their time and their culture, and conform to those expectations.   


I do not accept reverse racial profiling.   I do not apologize for being white.  I do not apologize that my great uncle was a member of the KKK.  I do not laud that my great-great grandfather died in the battle of Shiloh fighting for the North. I am neither of those people.  I have no racial animosity, though I know there are those who do - and that needs to change.  I support Black Lives Matter; but I do not support civil anarchy and destruction of property by any side.


I see and understand the injustice suffered by the black population and support their cause.    I feel that teaching accurate history can bring about more change than passing laws in a divided Congress and divided nation. 


the Ol'Buzzard


Saturday, May 29, 2021

WHAT’S WRONG WITH POLICE DEPARTMENTS

 



 

On the anniversary of Gorge Floyd’s death people are asking questions about the competence of police departments in their hiring and supervision of officers.   

 

I spent two years in military police and I was a voluntary diver for the Clay County Sheriff Department in Florida.     

 

It is my perception that the best and the brightest are not necessarily attracted to a career in policing.   Policing, to a large extent, attracts people who are enamored with the authority of the badge and a gun – and in some cases, people insecure in their own identity. 


   

Notice the lead-lined sap gloves the officer is wearing while confronting the public, his right hand grasping his firearm.


There is an intrinsic problem with authority that has never been addressed with police policy and training:

In 1973 the psychology department of Sanford University conducted and experiment concerning prison guards and prisoners.  Random volunteers were taken from the University student body.   To ensure randomness, the assignment of prisoner or guard were alternately picked: prisoner-guard-prisoner-guard…   Prisoners were placed in confinement and guards were given free rein to control the prisoners.  The experiment was scheduled to last two weeks, but had to be terminated after six days because of the aggression of the guards.  

 

This same domineering authority syndrome identified in the Sanford study permeates police departments.   Police, to a large extent, do not act to assist civilians, but to dominate them.  They feel a power to intimidate, and they become aggressive when their authority is questioned.  Being authorized to wield deadly force inflates the ego of many officers; and when multiple officers back-up a call there is a tendency for individual officers to become more aggressive.




 

The structure of police departments is at fault.    Instead of armed authority, it should be public safety and assistance.  It is an attitudinal change that is needed; a change from ‘policing’ to service.

 

I am not anti-police.  I have worked and associated with many policemen and they are basically good people; but their attitude toward the public-in-general is uniformly negative, and they carry a feeling of empowerment and authority.  Many do not have the temperament to be trusted with weapons of deadly force when dealing with volatile situations, and their demeanor escalates the problem rather than subduing it.  


 


 

We should set the record straight.   Supporters of the status-quo of policing seem to feel that criticizing the police is tantamount blasphemy.      They always remind us of how dangerous the job is.  I have heard the comment, “when a cop leaves his house in the morning his wife doesn’t know if he will come back safely.”   There is a misconception about the danger of policing.  

 

A study of the most dangerous jobs in America, places police twenty-second: 

JOB RELATED DEATHS CORRELATED FROM 2018:

1.    Loggers

2.    Aircraft pilots and flight engineers

3.    Derrick operators in oil and gas and mining

4.    Roofers

5.    Garbage collectors

6.    Iron workers

7.    Delivery drivers

8.    Farmers

9.    Fire fighters

10.                       Power linemen

11.                       Agriculture workers

12.                       Crossing guards

13.                       Crane operators

14.                       Construction helpers

15.                       Landscape supervisors

16.                       Highway maintenance workers

17.                       Cement masons

18.                       Small engine mechanics

19.                       Supervisors of mechanics

20.                       Heavy vehicle maintenance

21.                       Ground maintenance workers

22.                       Police officers

23.                       Maintenance workers

24.                       Construction workers

25.                       Mining machine operators

 

There are numerous restrictions and requirements in the Policing Bill now in Congress aimed at holding police officers and police departments more accountable; but this bill will not bring about a culture change in police departments.

 

The answer seems simple to me:

THE OL’BUZZARD’S POLICE REFORM RECOMMENDATION

 

ONE: Increase the educational qualification for police applicants.  It should require beyond a high-school education, and an intense psychological evaluation.

 

TWO: Do not defund the police – de-arm the police.   Police on duty and off duty should be unarmed.   Weapons can be kept locked but available in the patrol cars, and permission from the watch commander needed to access a firearm.    Ninety-nine-plus percent of police interaction with the community doesn’t require carrying a firearm.  Unarmed officers would deal less aggressively with civilians, and in the heat of a confrontation the first instinct would not be to shoot to kill.

 

THREE AND FINALLY:  Any officer killing another human being in the line of duty, regardless of the circumstances, should be removed from public policing and be placed in a support position of equal pay, but never authorized to carry a firearm again.

 

I support police, and the job they do; but there are psychological pressures and tendencies associated with the job that need to be addressed in selection, training and supervision of officers.

 

The culture of policing should be reformed – but this will never happen in today’s social and political climate. 

the Ol’Buzzard

 

 

 

 

 

  

Sunday, May 23, 2021

JANUARY 6, WILL EXIST IN INFAMY

 







 

There are still people running around with MAGA hats and Trump flags.  This post is not for them, because they have become cult members and are past reasoning. 

 

Let us put some of our past history in perspective.   Osama bin Laden organized an attack on the United States of America in 2001.  Two aircraft struck the Twin Towers causing massive civilian loss of life, but the aircrafts sent to strike the heart of our government, the Pentagon and the White House, failed to make their target.  




 



In 2021, twenty years later, Donald J Trump organized an attack on the heart of our government.   He succeeded where Osama bin Laden failed.   Trump’s cult of fanatics assaulted the Capitol of the United States while Congress and Senate were in session.   They violently attacked, and overran the Capitol police, destroying property – including defecating and urinating in the Capitol rotunda.   They ran through the halls of Congress breaking into offices.   A noose was hung from scaffolding and the mob was chanting ‘Hang Mike Pence’.  They were searching to capture the Speaker of the House.  They were armed with collapsible weapons, stun guns, bear spray and zip tie handcuffs.   It is unclear what outcome they were seeking: the violent overthrow of our Constitutional government and the installation of their Glorious Leader… President for life?  

 





Trump lost the election.  He lost the popular vote by almost eight million.  Every Governor and Secretary of State in all the contested states certified the election counts as fair, accurate and unassailable.   There were numerous recounts, each affirming the results of President Biden’s win.  Sixty-four judges, many Republican judges that were appointed by Trump, threw out Trump’s lawsuits as having no merit.   Trump’s total argument was that thousands showed up at his rallies so he couldn’t have lost the election; and even now he continues the Big Lie.



The major threat to United States of America is no longer foreign terrorist, but radicalized American terrorist motivated by the ex-President of the United States – Donald J. Trump.




 

the Ol’Buzzard


Thursday, May 20, 2021

WATER WATER EVERYWHERE AND NOT A DROP TO DRINK

 




 

Yesterday I read the BLOGFODDRE post Remembering the Farm: Water, Wells and Dugouts.   He wrote of the difficulty of obtaining water on his family’s farm in Saskatchewan, Canada.

 

His post brought to mind my memories of water in the small delta town of Rolling Fork, Mississippi during the 1950’s.   I was always told that Rolling Fork got its water from an artesian well – I know absolutely nothing of the source.   I do remember when I took a bath, the water in the tub was piss yellow.  There was a swimming pool in town and the pool water looked like tea.  The deep end of the pool was eight feet and the water was so dark you could not see the bottom at that depth.  We drank that water and never thought anything about it.

 

Of course, the world population in 1950 is estimated at 2.5 billion, now we are approaching a world population of eight billion.  Water consumption, water waste and water pollution are exponentially greater than the mid twentieth century.

 

If anyone had considered selling a bottle of water back then, they would have been laughed at.  Water was free: it came from the sky, and rivers and lakes were full of it, you could dig a well and hit water.

 

That was then, this is now.  Water is now a critical commodity.  Cities have been built in the deserts, people water their lawns, mega-farms irrigate crops; costal marshes have been decimated, rivers are running low, lakes are drying up.   Humans have squandered water sources thinking the supply unlimited.  

 

California is now in the process of converting sewer water into drinking water.   There are many areas in the United States where water conservation is a pressing issue, and repurposing sewerage may become an accepted solution.

 

Climate change will acerbate this problem, and it is quite feasible that in the not-too-distant future wars could be fought over water sources.

 

the Ol’Buzzard

 

 


Sunday, May 16, 2021

BIG NUMBERS

 




 

The news, and the government, throw around the numbers billion and trillion as if they are talking about the cost of a new car: a two-trillion-dollar tax cut, a three trillion-dollar infrastructure plan, a two trillion-dollar covid relief package.

 

Compared to this, the world population of seven-billion doesn’t sound like so much.   And a million is chump chance to many people; the Jaguar C-X75 automobile cost $1.1 million.

 

Let’s put this in perspective:


If you took a stick and banged it on your kitchen table once-per-second, twenty-four hours a day non-stop; it would take you twelve days to bang out a million.


 

Banging out a billion would take you thirty-two years, and to bang out the population of the earth (seven-billion) would take two-hundred and twenty-four years.)




 

It would take thirty-two thousand years (32,000) to bang out one trillion, and that very likely exceeds way past the sell-by date our earth.

 

the Ol’Buzzard   

 


Saturday, May 8, 2021

MONSTERS IN MAINE

 



Maine is a huge state with most of its population along the coast, supported by the tourist industry.  However, rural Maine stayed tied to a rustic life-style throughout most of the 20th century, with logging and farming being the main sources of employment.    In the 1980 my wife and I lived in a house with no plumbing or electricity.  We read by lamp light, listened to Maine Public Radio on a battery radio, and carried our water from a nearby stream.  Our lifestyle was not unusual. 

 

Because of deep ties to the past, Maine has a rich supernatural history of ghost, goblins and vampires; and since two-thirds of the state is unpopulated there are also many tales of strange animal sightings.  Over the last twenty years there have been accounts of an animal that attacks and kill small pets, including dogs.  Those wishing to add drama to the accounts are claiming the animal is the Chupacabra: the mythical monster of Mexico.

 

PBS is available for download on smart TV’s and include the series  Monstrum, hosted Dr Emily Zarka.  If you like the macabre this series is worth watching, and Public Broadcasting is always worth supporting.



After all, this is the home of Stephen King

the Ol'Buzzard






Thursday, May 6, 2021

DR. JOHN IS GONE - BUT NOT FORGOTTEN

 


It has been ages since I posted a Playing For Change video.   This one features Dr. John.






the Ol'Buzzard





Tuesday, May 4, 2021

BORNFREEV asked, Who is Peggy?

 



the Ol'Buzzard

THINGS I THINK ABOUT AT FOUR-O-CLOCK IN THE MORNING.

 






 

Along with other oddities of growing old, insomnia seems to be common.    I don’t have any trouble falling asleep, but I wake about four each morning with the monkeys run through my mind dragging random thoughts that seem to keep me awake. 

 

We view ourselves today as fait accompli, the final, perfect product in the tree of evolution. 

 

There is some justification for that thinking, since evolutionary differences have resulted from adaptive changes among isolated groups to specific environments: Aboriginal in Australia differ from pigmies in Africa and differ from Nordic populations in northern Europe…

 

Today, with the ease of world travel people are less isolated resulting in more cross-cultural societies. 

 

It seems likely to me that the next evolution of humankind will not happen in isolated societies, but as the result of the ease of global travel, we will experience assimilation – moving toward a homogeneous race.

 

Cultural accommodation has more effect on our actions than logic and biological adaptation, so it will take the dying off of most generations living today to asphyxiate the idea of racial purity. 

 

In our egocentricity, we view time over the period of our lifespan, but time is a continuum.  As important as we think we are, humankind will evolve over time, just as we always have – unless we bring about our own destruction. 

 

the Ol’Buzzard


Thursday, April 29, 2021

Telephone scams are running ramped again.   I get so man robo calls I don't answer my phone any more unless I recognize the caller.  So far this year I have had three scam calls left on my answering machine.  The first identified as the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) saying my income tax was being audited and that I owed thousands of dollars.   They stated I should call the 'resolution line' (they listed a number) to speak to an IRS representative.   Of course, the IRS never contacts anyone by telephone.  

Over the last three weeks I have had two calls from scammers identifying as Amazon.   Each call said that a purchase of $395.99 had been made against my credit card, and that if I have made the purchase do nothing and I would receive the product.  If I did not make the purchase I was to call the Amazon Hot Line (listing a number) and talk to an Amazon representative.   


These calls, I am sure, originate from Peggy.






I can imagine some seniors panicking and being fished in to give financial or personal information.   If there are people you are concerned about that might be vulnerable to such scams - you should talk to them.

the Ol'Buzzard

Thursday, April 22, 2021

A CELEBRATION OF EARTH DAY

 


My wife is Native American.  She belongs to the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head.  

 

Native Americans lived in Nature, as a part of Nature – as Nature’s children.   Their customs have always been to celebrate the earth.  

 

Today is Earth day.   Share in the celebration with "people of the first light"

 

 

 Wampanoag (people of the first light)


 

We should all take time today to marvel at the beauty and connectiveness of Nature. 

 

The Ol’Buzzard


Wednesday, April 21, 2021

PICTURES AND SOUNDS OF MARS





The attached link takes you to a NASA web sight published by the Washington Post.   


Perseverance on Mars


We can not only see the surface of Mars, but actually hear sounds of Mars.  A small percentage of the human race drags us into the future.   This has been the formula of all man's accomplishments.  Progress led by a few while the rest of us live out our petty lives from day to day.   

the Ol'Buzzard



Tuesday, April 20, 2021

I AM NOT OF THIS WORLD

 

I grew up in Kentucky and Mississippi back in the forties and fifties.    Men drank bourbon whiskey, so that is the hard liquor I was introduced to.   You drink your whiskey straight, with ice or a splash of water. 

 

 I appreciate the taste of good Bourbon or Scotch whiskey. 




  If you are going to add soda pop to it, don’t bother with the good stuff – just buy the cheap crap – you won’t notice the difference

 

I wasn’t much of a beer drinker until I went to Newfoundland.  In St Johns you could call the brewery and they would deliver beer to your house.   Blue Star and India – introduced me to good beer.   

 

Now days, young people are drinking fruit beers.  What the fuck is that?   Strawberry beer, apple beer, add a lime to your beer???

 

A few days ago, I was in Hannaford grocery store and in the liquor isle I saw Chocolate Whiskey!  

 

I give up.   This is not a world I recognize any more.

 

the Ol’Buzzard

 


Friday, April 16, 2021

GUN VIOLENCE AND OWNERSHIP

 


 

The following is a comment I made on YELLOWDOG GRANNY’s   post.  

 

 

It is not about mass shooters, it is not about cop killing black people, it is not about dangerous militia; It is about guns: the availability of guns, the gun slinger attitude, the acceptance of a gun culture.   Yes, there are social, racist, anarchist, police militarization and mental illness factions that need to be addressed.   But it is the guns.  Guns are killing people.

 

I have lost count of the shootings this week.   Gun violence is now the normal.

 

I am not against gun ownership; but I am against guns being owned for the purpose of killing people. 

 

The answers are simple; but when half of the United States still believe that Donald Trump is the President in exile, there is no hope of common sense ever bringing about changes.

 

We don’t need to restrict guns; we need to address the need for them.  The only reason to own a gun in the United states is for hunting and home protection.  With that in mind, rifle and shotgun ownership should require a hunting license.  Pistol ownership should require a gun permit and background check.

 

Hunting rifles should be bolt-action and a maximum capacity of five rounds.   If you can’t take you prey with five shots you shouldn’t be out in the woods armed.  Shotguns should be single shot, double barreled, or pump with a three-shot capacity.  Handguns should be limited to a six-round capacity.

 

Military type assault weapons designed specifically to kill humans should be banned.

 

Police training, armament and use of force are a total other subject that should be addressed separately. 

 

This, of course, is pie-in-the-sky.  No common-sense gun regulation will ever be accomplished in the United States in the 21st century.  We are a gun violent society.

 

How many hours before the next gun death, or should the question be in minutes?

the Ol’Buzzard   

 

 


Wednesday, April 14, 2021

BRITAIN AND VAMPIRISM IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY

 


I am a Sherlock Holmes enthusiast.  Back in 2000 I wrote this essay for The Occupants of the Empty House, a scion society of the Baker Street Irregulars.  It would help to read The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire, by Conan Doyle to fully understand the context.  However the essay covers some interesting history of Vampirism in 1600 and 1700 Europe.

 

 


 

 

BRITAIN AND VAMPIRISM IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY: AS RELATED TO “THE ADVENTURE OF THE SUSSEX VAMPIRE


 

But first, on earth as Vampire sent,

Thy corpse shall from its tomb be rent:

Then ghastly haunt thy native place,

And suck the blood of all thy race;

There from thy daughter, sister, wife,

At midnight drain the stream of life;

Yet loathe the banquet which perforce

Must feed thy livid living corpse.

Thy victims are they not yet expire

Shall know the demon for their sire,

As cursing thee, thou cursing them,

Thy flowers withered on the stem.

From: “The Gaiour,” by Lord Byron

 

Whether we should consider the Vampire included in the study of Flora and Fauna in the Canon would be a matter of interpretation.   The Random House College Dictionary defines fauna as “the animal of a given region or period.” 

 

Baring-Gould set the date for “The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire” as taking place between Thursday, November 19, to Saturday, November 21, 1896.   Charles Darwin had published The Origin of Species in 1859, and a case could be made that even by 1896 many enlightened persons would consider man to be included in fauna. 

 

Holmes: “The idea of a vampire was to me absurd.   Such things do not happen in criminal practice in England”

 

Between 1600 and 1800 while Britain and Western Europe were in the throws of witch mania, Eastern Europe was experiencing a vampire frenzy.   In the east, even government officials frequently were involved in hunting and staking vampires.   Westerners never seriously considered the existence of vampires until the mid-eighteenth century when there was an outbreak of alleged vampire attacks in East Prussia (1721), and Austro-Hungary (1725).

 

Two famous cases involved Peter Plogojowitz and Arnold Paole.   Plogojowitz died at the age of 62, but returned to raise havoc among his family and neighbors, many who died from loss of blood.  Plogojowitz’s grave was opened and his body was found to be fresh. 

 

Arnold Paole was an ex-soldier who claimed to have experienced a vampire attack while serving in Greece.   Upon returning home he died from a fall while working on his farm.   Within two months after Paole’s burial there were attacks attributed to him.   All of the victims died shortly after.   Two military officers, two army surgeons, and a priest exhumed Arnold Paole’s body; and the corpse was found to be fresh.   Over the next five years there were a number of inexplicable deaths.   A mass exhumation was carried out in 1732, and eleven corpses were found to display the same trait as Paole – no decomposition.  

 

Both of these cases were well documented by government officials who examined the facts and the bodies.   These two cases created an epidemic of alleged vampire attacks in rural villages resulting in a score of bodies being exhumed.  Eventually the Austrian Empress Marie Theresa sent her personal physician to investigate.   He reported back to her that vampires did not exist.   The Empress passed laws prohibiting the opening of graves and the desecration of bodies, bringing and end to the vampire frenzy of Austria.   (Vampires in Myth and History, by Beverley Richardson)

 

One reason for the dichotomy of folklore between Western and Eastern Europe can be attributed to the split that took place in 1054 between the Orthodox Church in the east and the Roman Catholic Church in the west.   A difference that can be linked to centralizing the vampire myth to Eastern Europe was the belief of the Catholic Church that the bodies of saints would not decay in the grave, while the Orthodox Church believed that undecayed corpses were a sign of evil and a link with Satan. 

 

In 1486 the church had published The Malleus Maleficarium as a handbook for the discovery and eradication of witches.   It also covered vampires and how they should be dealt with.  By 1600 this treatise was being used as the ‘bible’ by witch and vampire hunters across Europe.  (Christianity and Vampirism, by Angie McKaig)

 

Holmes: “Make a long arm Watson and see what V has to say.”   I leaned back and took down the great volume to which he referred…  “Hello!   Good old index.  You can’t beat it.   Listen to this, Watson.   Vampirism in Hungary and again Vampires in Transylvania.  

 

Vampire myths go back thousands of years and occur in almost every culture.   The Vampire folklore spreads out along the Black Sea Coast to Greece, the Balkans and Carpathian Mountains, including Hungary and Transylvania.   The Slavic people from Russia to Bulgaria and Serbia to Poland also had rich vampire folklore (B. Richardson)

 

He turned over the pages with eagerness, but after perusal he threw down the great book with a snarl of disappointment.  “Rubbish, Watson, rubbish!  What have we to do with walking corpses who can only be held in their graves by stakes driven through their hearts?   It’s pure lunacy.”

 

The vampires of folklore of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries have only basic similarities to the vampire fiction of today.   The vampires then did not fly, or wear capes, or change into bats.   A man who was contaminated died, then returned to feed on the blood of his family and neighbors.   After a while (anywhere from a few days to a few years, depending on the country of the occurrence) he became more humanlike and was indistinguishable from living humans.   He was able to remain out in the daylight and eat normal food.   At this time he would move to another town and often get married and have children, reverting to his blood lust only on weekends or certain saint’s days.  (The socially Sophisticated Undead in Folklore, by Patrick Johnson)

 

Considering the original vampire legends, the action of Delores Ferguson could well have been interpreted as vampirism.  Though vampire fiction became popular in the eighteen hundreds in Britain, the stereotype of today’s vampire fiction was not yet embedded.   In 1813 the vampire appeared in Britain in Lord Byron’s poem “The Giaour.”   In 1819 John Polidori wrote The Vampire on a challenge from Lord Byron (Mary Shelly wrote Frankenstein at the same challenge/time).   And, in 1848 Varney the Vampyre began serialization as a penny dreadful.   If we accept Baring-Gould’s date of the Sussex incident as 1896, Holmes was conducting his investigation one year before Bram Stoker introduced Dracula and set the pattern for vampire fiction, as we know it today.

 

Accounts of vampirism in the rural areas of Eastern Europe were not unheard of even in Sherlock Holmes’s time.   In Twelve Years’ Study of the Eastern question in Bulgaria by S. B. G. St. Clair and Charles A. Brophy (London: Chapman and Hall, 1877) the authors account an episode that alleged to have taken place in the 1840’s in the village in Bulgaria in which they were presently living.   The Locals told them that a man had arrived in the village and established himself as a tradesman.  He married a local girl, but his new wife complained that he was out every night until dawn.   Cattle and horses became sick and died and it was noted that blood had been drained out of them.   The village suspected the man of being a vampire and   when they examined him they found he had only one nostril – a sure sign that he was a vampire.   The villagers bound him, took him to a hill outside the village, and burned him alive.   Surely with Holmes’s penchant for the unusual he had knowledge of this and other incidents.  

 

Watson: “A living person might have the habit.   I have read, for example, of the old sucking the blood of the young in order to retain their youth.”

“You are right, Watson.   It mentions the legend in one of these references.   But are we to give serious attention to such things?”

 

The reference is obviously of Elizabeth Bathory who was born a noblewoman to a powerful family in Transylvania in 1560.   Elizabeth was married as a teenager, but lived with a constant fear of aging.   Her husband died in 1604 and she moved to Vienna.   Countess Elizabeth became convinced that the blood of young girls was the secret to eternal youth and beauty.   She is believed to have murdered more than six hundred young women in order to have blood to drink and bathe in.   In December of 1610 she was put on trial for her crimes, but being a noblewoman she was not allowed by law to be sentenced to death.   She was sentenced to life imprisonment in her castle in Cachtice, where she died in August 1614.  (Who is Elizabeth Bathory? By Angie McKaig)

 

Holmes constantly reminds us that it is a capital mistake to theorize in advance of the facts (SCAN, SECO, STUD) – yet in the case of the Sussex Vampire he does exactly that.   Before leaving Baker Street he had decided the outcome of the case, and he commences to pursue his investigation to secure the facts to support his theory.   Considering the extensive vampire folklore of Eastern Europe that goes back for centuries, why is Holmes so adamant and closed-minded in considering the possibility of the existence of vampires?   IS this an indication of some prior experience with the preternatural, supernatural, and things that go bump in the night?   This is the real mystery in “The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire.”



the Ol'Buzzard