Getting into a lather about leather

Saw an ad in a newspaper today that caused our jaw to drop.  We checked with our friends at the other end of the room who are the voices of the Brownfield Network, the nation’s largest agriculture radio network and they also were stunned.  One that we always thought of as a cultured young woman uttered an unladylike three-letter exclamation.

Then the ad prompted some discussion.

The ad shows a young woman wearing—get this now—a

Vegan Leather Jacket.

It has a faux fur collar.   We’ve come to understand “faux” is a toney word for “fake.”   Figured that out a long time ago.

But Vegan Leather???????


We can see a riot breaking out in Sturgis, South Dakota next year if some big, burly Harley Davidson owner walks into a bar and asks the other Harley owners, “How do you like my Vegan Leathers?”

The Sturgis Police Department better have its Pentagon-surplus armored vehicle ready to go rescue that guy.  Or woman.  Women can be big and burly sometimes too.

So the newsroom conversation started.

Does the average vegan have enough skin to make a jacket out of?  Or does it take several?

Are these domesticated vegans, farm-raised vegans, free-range vegans, or maybe grass-fed vegans?   And does the Agriculture Department or the Conservation Department have regulatory authority over captive vegan operations?

We’ve seen a few pretty hairy vegans.  Do they really need to have a “faux” collar on this jacket?

It would be a shame to waste the rest of the creature just for the vegan skin, as our forefathers wasted whole buffalo herds just for their hides.  So what does vegan meat taste like?

One of our friends suggested it probably doesn’t have much taste and it’s probably not well-marbled. In fact, he suggested it probably is about as tasty as raw granola or maybe shredded wheat. It probably wouldn’t work well on a barbecue grill because there’s no suet to hold it together–kind of like some moose meat I tried to turn into barbecued burgers one night only to see it all crumble and fall into the charcoal below.

We recognized leather likely comes from cattle.   So what do you suppose–with the understanding that a Vegan is a Vegetarian who doesn’t even drink milk–a vegan cow looks like?  But maybe that’s the answer to our problem.  Perhaps only something as oxymoronic as a vegan cow could produce something as oxymoronic as vegan leather.

But Ye Gad!!  Think of what’s next.

Vegan horsehide for baseballs.

Vegan pigskin for footballs.

Vegan alligator shoes.

After all these years we still haven’t figured out what a Nauga looks like.  Now we have to figure out what in the world produces vegan leather.

This is what happens on a slow news day when there’s nothing particularly significant to occupy our minds.  If you’re a Vegan (and we have some friends who are and we like them  a lot) who feels we have unfairly picked on you, blame Christopher Columbus. Without him, there wouldn’t be a holiday; there likely would be news to cover and we likely would not have been trolling through a newspaper to see this ad.

Notes from the front lines

(Stuff that doesn’t quite make it to full bloghood but answers demands from somebody somewhere that this space be filled with new material from time to time.)

A big bunch of people held a retirement celebration, commemoration, observation—whatever fits–on Monday night expressing their relief, regret, delight, sadness–whatever fits–that this correspondent is abandoning his 70-hour weeks of trying to explain state government to Missourians on December first.  It was a nice event populated with longtime friends, associates, teachers, mentors, and family members .  Several people had things to say in a video played during the event.

(In response to the Girl Scouts’ claim , I made sure a 2007 case of Girl Scout Thin Mints were available.  Several people tried them.  As of this writing, all are still drawing breath, proving that Thin Mints need not be refrigerated to remain viable–in fact, freezing them dries them out, sticks them together, and is counterproductive.  Research has shown they survive nicely under a desk. You’ll understand if you see the video.)

Thanks to those who put the event together and thanks to all of those who attended, especially to those who travelled good distances.


We have railed in this space many times about the Nixon administration’s commitment to managing the news.   We regret to note that Attorney General Chris Koster, who has ambitions to be Nixon’s successor, appears to be practicing to continue that trend.  He issued a statement after a circuit judge ruled that same sex marriages performed in other states must be recognized here but has refused repeated requests from media organizations to explain why he, as the defender of Missouri laws, is not going to appeal that ruling.


Here’s another sign that someone wants to buy government.  A circuit judge candidate in Jefferson City who is challenging a two-term incumbent circuit judge has gotten a $100,000 donation funneled through the Republican State Leadership Committee in Washington, D.C. The money has gone through the RSLC-Missouri PAC to the campaign of Brian Stumpe, how the city prosecutor.

Who gave that money to the national group?   That’s a big secret.  And why such a gigantic amount in a race for local circuit judge?  Well, that’s simple.  Stumpe says it’s because incumbent Patricia Joyce is too liberal.

The Missouri Non-Partisan Court plan, designed to keep judicial candidates from being front-people for special interests,  particularly those who want courts to rule their ways, does not include Cole County.  Those who have advocated for years expanding the plan to all counties now have a textbook example to justify their position.


State auditor Tom Schweich says 15 percent of our local governments and their agencies do not comply with the state law that demands they tell the public what they’re doing.   That’s a lower percentage than he found in a previous audit.

The reduction in non-compliance is not something to cheer about.  Thomas Jefferson told Charles Yancey in a January 6, 1816 letter than a nation cannot be ignorant and be free.   The continued failure of fifteen percent of local government to be as honest as they should be with the people who pay taxes to support them remains unforgiveable.


Go Royals.  Go Cardinals.  Wonder if Governor Nixon will follow Governor Ashcroft’s lead and arrange for a World Series Special train if both teams make the Series.  It was a fun ride in ’85.





Summits, sewers, and students

Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts’ piece in the Kansas City Star  (September 30, 2014) sparks thoughts of a brief visit tinged with historical irony Nancy and I made to a part of the arid plains of southeast Colorado a few years ago and the clashes between history and current culture.

Pitts has written about a new member of the school board in Jefferson County, Colorado (Golden is the county seat)  had  proposed the school district’s history courses “promote citizenship , patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free-enterprise system.”   Teachers would avoid talking about things that “encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law.”   Teachers would emphasize only the “positive aspects.” of American history.  Pitts called the idea “an act of intellectual vandalism.”

The good news is that the biggest Hell-raisers about this suggestion are the students from five area high schools.  Their revolt has led the school board to say it was “misunderstood” and to say it’s going to revise the idea. Misunderstood?   No, says Pitts, “it was understood all too well.”

Don’t look now but we might be seeing the beginning of a new generation that will not be content with a mediocre to poor education, that might not want to be taught only happy history, that might recognize that society has not been and is not fair—and that has the courage to challenge the idea that good citizenship is based only on “positive aspects” of history or of contemporary society.

Were you paying attention a few days ago when several students at St. Louis Vashon High School  walked out of class to protest the sudden resignation of their principle, the poor attendance record of teachers and inadequate substitutes, and lack of books, among other problems?.  These kids faced automatic expulsion but the district’s Superintendent got them to go back to class with promises of specific actions.

High School students of today unafraid to demand better things, more honest things, in their educations are the seeds of a generation that could bear fruit in a decade or two of tomorrows. And not all of that fruit will be sweet for those who think ignorance of the past is the key to creating a happy, vapid, placid, molded , manipulated future.

How do we know?   Because of history.  Because we have seen in our lifetime what cleansed history does to a people and to their nations.

Leonard Pitts says in his column, “There is a reason that courts require witnesses to tell ‘the truth, the  whole  truth.’   To tell half the truth is to tell a lie of omission…American history, properly understood, is a story about the summit we sometimes reach and the sewer we too often tread, about the work of resolving the tension between America’s dream and its reality.”

We wonder how the school system in Jefferson County, Colorado would teach about that arid piece of  the high plains a few hours’ drive away in Prowers County, Colorado, near the small farming community of Granada.

We turned off of Highway 50 about a mile west of Granada one day to drive through a ghost town.  All that’s left are some foundations and a pump house near the community’s water tank.  Otherwise the gravel streets take us past the weedy lots where there used to be buildings.  About 7,300 people lived there once.  The community lost 31 young men who volunteered to fight in World War II. One of those 31 was awarded the Medal of Honor.

This ghost town is the remnant of Camp Amache.   It is one of ten Japanese internment camps established during the war to hold West Coast Japanese-Americans who were deemed security threats after Pearl Harbor, not because of any specific information that they were plotting against the United States but because they were people of Japanese ancestry.

They were rounded up, allowed to bring only one bag with them, and put inside a camp surrounded by barbed wire fencing and guarded by eight towers with machine guns in them.

Camp Amache existed for about three years.

Fifteen years ago, the Amache Preservation Society was formed in Granada to preserve the site and its records.  A museum has been set up.  And here, we hope, is a punch in the gut for the school officials in Jefferson County, Colorado:  The Amache Preservation Historical Society is a Granada High School group.  The museum was set up by Granada High School Students.

Nancy and I paused in the southwest corner of the camp at the small cemetery that holds the children who died at Camp Amache seven decades ago and we looked at the memorial dedicated to those Japanese-Americans from the camp who volunteered to fight in Erope and to those who died  there.    We had several more miles to go that day.   So we drove back down the gravel street to the highway, turned left onto Highway 50 and headed west.

In our Honda minivan.