Saturday, March 10, 2007

Saturday night stuff

The Roanoke paper had this account of the life and times of Thomas Mason, who as a lawyer served as U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia and nearly became a federal judge, and who as an actor had a part in "Gods and Generals" but specialized in playing the role of Elwood Dowd in "Harvey." The article quotes former Del. Chip Woodrum as saying: "He was Elwood P. Dowd." The article also notes that Mason served in the Navy with John F. Kennedy. I read recently that at the end of the Johnson administration, the White House did not fill a vacancy on the Western District of Virginia when the Commonwealth's U.S. Senators could not agree as between a Virginia Supreme Court justice and Mason as the best choice for the job - and so President Nixon got to fill the position, with Emory Widener, in 1969.

Regarding infallible technology, these items: first, the Richmond paper has this article questioning whose DNA should be in the state's DNA database. Yours? Mine? Second, the Richmond paper reported here that someone spoofed an e-mail to make it look as though it came from the head of the Virginia Information Technologies Agency. Finally, it appears that Virginia's new utility law could bring new nuclear power plants to Virginia, according to this report in the Daily Press.

Finally, I started reading this piece in the Bluefield paper because it includes a segment on the need for an additional judge in Mercer County, which is just over the line, but the part that intrigued me even more was this:

" At least 10,000 years ago, a bison-sized, giant ground sloth with large banana-shaped claws inhabited the West Virginia mountains, according to a report from Delegate Mike Burdiss, D-Wyoming (District 22 including a portion of Mercer). Because of the history connected to the sloth and its claws, the lawmaker has sponsored House Concurrent Resolution 2, which would establish the Megalonyx Jeffersonii as West Virginia’s state fossil.

Burdiss said he has taken this action to bring about a better understanding of American History and encourage the study of fossils, which provide a tangible connection to our past.

Burdiss has this historical story to tell: In the 1790s, President Thomas Jefferson, knowing much of the world was yet to be discovered, commissioned a group of explorers to look for the animal during an expedition as he believed that the sloths were not extinct.

The first trace of the massive creature was found in Organ Cave in modern-day Monroe County that same decade. When President Jefferson saw the fossil bones, which were recovered from the cave, he proclaimed the claws were so large that it must have belonged to a great cat or lion.

Thus, the historic fossils received its name, Megalonyx Jeffersonii, meaning Jefferson’s Giant Claw."

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