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Collected editorials

Excuses, always excuses

Ten years coming up

My web site’s tenth birthday is coming up. If my records are correct I started this site in March of 1996. Some would say that it represents a monumental waste of time and talent. You might very well think that; I couldn’t possibly comment.


Our Lady of the Large Black Dog and I are planning to be in Italy from January 27 through February 10. The February issue will either be early or late. The trip narrative will appear when we get back.

For those who wish to eat their heart out in envy, we will be staying with friends who have a farmhouse just south of Tuscany.

Zippety doo dah

South Dakota makes the international news every so often. Usually it is quite embarrassing when it does. The state’s latest bid for international attention came with the attempted demolition of the tallest building in the state, the Zip Feeds building. (It is only natural that the tallest building in the state was a feed building.)

These days the demolition of tall buildings is an art form. I have the impression that in Las Vegas they implode a casino every day and replace it with two more. Not only is building demolition an art form, it is a spectator sport. Such being the case the good city fathers of Sioux Falls (or somebody – Sioux Falls has fathers, many of whom are good, and they may as well get the blame) decided to make the demolition a public event, complete with a raffle to select the lucky person to push the button that would bring the whole building down.

The whole thing was hyped for days, weeks, months, years, centuries, millennia … well, maybe not quite that long, but certainly for a good while … on the local television stations. If it wasn’t quite as big event as the state highschool basketball finals, still it was a big do.

The big day came and the fortunate button pusher pushed the button that would magically implode the building into a neatly compact pile of rubble.


It seems that somebody, somewhere, miscalculated. The building did not disassemble. It did however settle into its basement at a angle, joining the leaning tower of Pisa as a sight to behold.

How embarrassing.

The miracles of modern explosive demolition having failed, the city resorted to the old fashioned ball and crane. It’s taking a few weeks but the building is coming down. Personally I think they should have left it as it was. It would have a tourist attraction to rival the Corn Palace.

Alienation of affections

South Dakota may be an obscure corner of the world but it does find its way into world news from time to time. Even Hyde County manages to make the international newspapers from time to time. Well, they did it at least once, and it may not have been front page news, but still …

It seems that South Dakota was one of the few states in the country that provided for “alienation of affections” suits. (I say “was” because the legislature may have since dispensed with the provisions on the grounds that they were an embarrassment. Then again, maybe not.) For those not familiar with this legal relict from the nineteenth century, if some dastardly person trifled with the affections of your spouse you could sue them for alienation of affections. Given the times in which such suits were actually brought to court, the alternative would have been to challenge the dastard to a duel with swords or pistols, or, if the challenged person were a dastardness, knitting needles at 500 stitches.

This bit of legal ancient legal history sat quietly on the books for decades gathering legal mold, until one day a Sioux Falls doctor (I disremember whether he was the agrieved party or the dastard) sued or was sued for alienation of affections. The case was thrown out of court when it transpired that all of the adultery had occurred in Las Vegas. Apparently alientated affections can’t cross state lines.

Naturally this bit of legal exotica made headlines. We live in an era in which the amusing scandals of strangers a thousand miles away are of the greatest consequence. Perhaps this is as it should be. In Grooming, gossip, and the evolution of language Robin Dunbar advanced the thesis that our species invented language so that we could gossip more efficiently.

Karl Marx once remarked that history repeats itself, first as tragedy and then as farce. In our neck of the woods it seems to have repeated itself first as comedy and then as farce. Enter the Hatfields and the McCoys.

Once upon a time in deepest darkest Hyde County there were two couples whom we shall not name but rather shall simply refer to as the Hatfields and the McCoys. It seems that Mr. McCoy was not entirely happy in his little nest of connubial bliss and had taken to visiting the Hatfields whilst Mr. Hatfield was not at home, perhap being hard at work or perhaps visiting his home away from home, the local bar.

Mrs. McCoy was not the sort of person to take this sort of thing lying down. She sued Mrs. Hatfield for alienation of affections. A court date was set and the entire affair (you should excuse the expression) came before the bar (pun intended).

The trial didn’t happen quite on schedule. It seems that the aggrieved parties, Mrs. McCoy and Mr. Hatfield, had found in each other something more than their mutual grievances. So it was that they were on a cruise in the Caribbean when the trial was originally supposed to happen.

Once the happy aggrieved couple returned the trial went forward. I don’t recall the juicy details of the testimony save that of Mr. McCoy who testified that he had a problem with erectile dysfunction whilst sharing the affections of Mrs. McCoy but no such problem with Mrs. Hatfield.

Testimony of this sort went on for a few days. Finally the judge called the various parties and their lawyers into his chambers. He told them bluntly that he wasn’t going to have his courtroom made into a laughing stock and that he wasn’t to put up with this nonsense any longer. He then found for the plaintiff, awarded her damages of one dollar, and paid the dollar himself. His final words, I am told, bore a striking resemblence to “Now get the Hell out of here.”

Site statistics

Traffic keeps increasing. The site statistics for 2005 through December 28 are:

Visitors 974,639
Pages served 2,052,519
Hits 3,133,165
Bytes sent 19.1G
Fancy that, almost a million people visited my web site last year. The unemployment problem is worse that I thought.

This page was last updated January 1, 2006.

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Collected editorials