Sunday, February 17, 2013

Was The First American Slave Owner a Black Man?

Before 1655 there were no legal slaves in the American colonies, but indentured servants were common. All Servant owners or masters were required to free their servants after their time was up which was typically a period of 4 to 7 years ; you may recall we touched upon this subject with a “Post” titled Indentured Servants or Redemptioners in December of 2011.

It was long believed that indentured servant John Casor was the first individual to be declared a slave in what would later become the United States, and Anthony Johnson a black man; would then be the first known slaveholder in America. Historical court records prove that only part of that statement is true.

The Story of John Casor and his relationship with Anthony Johnson, go’s something like this: Johnson was a man from modern-day Angola that’s located in Southern Africa; in 1619 he was transported to the Virginia Colony to work for a tobacco farmer. When Johnson’s indenture term was up, he was released and recognized as a “free man”.  He must have been the industrious sort because by 1651 he owned a successful farm himself, consisting of 250 acres which he ran with the help of 5 black indentured servants.  In 1654, it was time for Johnson to release John Casor, one of his indentured servants.  Instead Johnson told Casor he was extending his indenture time. Casor was apparently sure Johnson couldn’t legally take such a position or enforce it because he left the Johnson place in search of employment elsewhere. A white man named Robert Parker must have thought the same thing, because he provided Casor employment.

In all likelihood after several threats (no-one among the living today knows), Anthony Johnson brought suit against Robert Parker in the Court of Northampton late that same year. In 1655, the court ruled for unknown reasons that Anthony Johnson could hold John Casor indefinitely as his indentured Servant.  With this action, the Northampton Colonial Virginia Court inadvertently performed two seemingly benign deeds: The first gave judicial sanction for free blacks to own slaves of their own race and second, John Casor became the second lifetime slave held in the English Colonies; in this way, historical court records shown the first black slave owner in Colonial Virginia was Anthony Johnson.

Nevertheless, it wasn’t until 1670 that a law was passed permitting folks to legally hold a black servant for an indefinite period of time as a slave. You see, in that year, the Colonial Assembly passed legislation granting free whites, blacks, and Native Americans the right to own blacks as slaves.

Within less than 30 years (1699), the large number of free blacks prompted fears of a “slave uprising.” So the Province of Virginia ordered the expulsion of freed blacks, which in other words, provided a one way ticket to Africa. Surprisingly records show that many blacks sold themselves to whites so they wouldn’t be required to go to Africa. This was the first attempt to “gently” repatriate (send back) free blacks to the region commonly perceived to be the black man’s homeland; in fact the modern nations of Sierra Leone and Liberia originated as colonies of deported x-black slaves.

Common sense suggests that further “cultivation” of the slave business was anything but wise, nevertheless, America’s slave owners (black and white) continued to thrive; this was especially so in the South.  By 1830 there were 3,775 black families living in the South who owned black slaves. 30 years latter (1860) there were approximately 3,000 black slaves owned by black families just within the city of New Orleans.

In many instances, black slave owners had similar views regarding slavery with their white counterparts. Slave owners of both races occasionally freed a trusted servant but were just as apt to sell a less fortunate slave the very next day. The act of freeing one or several slaves while others remained in bondage did not establish a firm commitment against slavery, but promoted the personal view that some actions by slaves, such as hard work or the display of loyalty, occasionally warranted them their freedom, while others were clearly meant to be slaves until their demise.

As mentioned earlier, John Casor was once thought to be the first documented slave in America when in actuality it was John Punch. He was bound as an indentured servant for life in 1640 (a full 15 years before Casor) after trying to escape from his indenture, or his “master”.

His story is as follows: John Punch was an indentured servant of a Virginia planter known as Hugh Gwyn; he escaped to Maryland in the company of two other servants, one was a Dutchman, the other a Scot.  All three men were caught and sentenced to whippings; in addition the two European men were sentenced to have their terms of indenture extended by four years each.  On the other hand the punishment for John Punch was much more severe than that given to two white indentured servants, which has led historians to call Punch the first African documented to be legally sanctioned as a slave for life in Virginia.  Anthony Johnson remains the first Black man to own a slave for life in America and the second slave owner.

There is only one “rewarding” turn of events that could possibly be associated with the first full-fledged slave (John Punch):  In July of 2012, issued a paper verifying that with the combination of historic research and Y-DNA analysis, the evidence that’s key to proving ancestral links or kinship, concluding that Punch was an eleventh-generation maternal grandfather of President Barack Obama.


Saturday, February 9, 2013


Cross of Scientology

In 1953 popular fiction writer, Lafayette Ronald Hubbard, characterized Scientology as a religion, and incorporated the Church of Scientology in Camden, New Jersey the same year.  The new found religion was based upon Hubbard’s earlier (1952) self-help system, Dianetics.

Hubbard claimed that Dianetics could do a lot of marvelous things including increasing ones intelligence, eliminating unwanted emotions and get rid of a wide range of illnesses he believed were self-induced.  Various disorders are said to be suitable for treatment via Dianetics, including: Arthritis, common allergies, asthma, a few coronary problems, poor eye sight, ulcers, migraine headaches, ‘sexual deviation’ (a classification that includes homosexuality) and death.  

In December of 1993, all Scientology Churches, missions and organizations obtained the coveted position of being recognized by the U S Internal Revenue Service as being fully tax exemption after several years of legal battles. 

Occasionally it’s been suggested that Scientology was established to replace Dianetics but it is perhaps more accurate to say that Scientology extends Dianetics to cover broader areas; the stated goal of Scientology is to “rehabilitate the individual’s spiritual nature so that he may reach his full potential”.

According to Scientology, its beliefs and practices are based on laborious research, and its doctrines are given a significance equivalent to that of the laws of science.   Further the Church has stated that “Scientology works 100 percent of the time when it is properly applied to a person who sincerely desires to improve his life”.

The name Scientology is said to mean “knowing how to know”, and is a durative of two terms, 1 Latin & 1 Greek.   The teachings of Scientology proclaim it’s not simply a belief system but a ‘mode of action’, and it has its own complicated vocabulary to prove it.

A basic belief of Scientology is that the experiences you have in life or in previous lives for that matter are recorded in the brain as a series of “engrams”.  Each individual’s engrams are re-vived and ultimately re-enforced by similar life situations that re-occur throughout one’s life and are more often than not bound to cause unsuitable and self-defeating behavior. The goal of a practicing Scientologist is to “process” or clear away these engrams which permits or allows self-defeating actions. By removing these “bumps in the road” from an individual’s present and past lives, the “thetan” or soul is released.

Just like most religions, Scientology has ministers who are believed to perform some religious rites and sacraments, but their main function is thought to be individual counseling. Scientology is a tightly organized from the top down, with a close-knit inner circle. The church boasts several high profile members, such as Tom Cruise, John Travolta, and Kirstie Alley; of recent date (2013) such high profile members continue to receive increasing amounts of publicity in the media, therefore bring Scientology to the forefront as well. Examples include Tom Cruise’s sudden divorce from Katie Holmes that some say was rooted in serious differences of opinion revolving around Scientology and the alleged sex scandal surrounding John Travolta.  Nonetheless, for most of us Scientology remains a mystery and very few outside the ‘inner circle’ know or are fully aware of their beliefs and teachings.

In any event here’s what I gave been able to dig-up on what Scientologists do believe / teach; initially such beliefs seem relatively benign, but surprise, surprise, the last belief that’s taught (as listed here) is rather far-fetched; in fact, you may be astounded, I know I was:

As briefly touched upon above, one of the core things that a good Scientologist believes is that everything experienced in this life, and past lives, are recorded as “engrams” in our brains. These engrams affect our decision-making process and may cause persons to conduct themselves in an unsuitable and self-defeating manner. Painful or stressful experiences are said to be often imprinted as “engrams” and can have an effect upon future behavior and thoughts in a negative way, hence making a person act irrationally and in a way that’s outside their natural behavior.

Scientologists believe in re-incarnation, a belief that’s held by nearly half the people in the world; so humans are repeatedly born and destined to die again and again.  Quite the repeating cycle you might say but all the while ‘potentially’ gathering favorable “engrams” or shedding themselves of these bad ones. There’s only way to break this cycle of rebirths: Persons must cleanse themselves of all past and present bad “engrams” to advance to the “thetan” state of being. Upon achieving this status, the sole / thetan is freed from the cycle of reincarnation and in this way released from the physical world.

It’s taught that painful experiences and harmful acts in an individual’s current and past lives become imprinted in the “re-active mind” or the unconscious mind which leads to irrational behavior. When an individual breaks away from rational thought and untrue ideas; events called “aberrations”, wrongdoing often results.

To some it’s a little surprising that to learn, unlike Christianity, there is no specific teachings of God or gods in Scientology, however members are permitted (even welcomed)  to be “spiritually enlightened” to a deity as they progress in the faith if and when they so choose.

In a ‘nut shell’ you could say that Scientology considers the belief in a God or gods a personal affair and therefore offers no specific doctrine. The nature of a Supreme Being is revealed as the individual develops spiritual awareness.  Nevertheless, most Scientologists believe there is a life energy or force called “Theta” (not to be confused with the thetan) that is available to everyone; you might say Theta is the universal spirit in the eyes of a good Scientologist.

Salvation is said to be achieved only through the practices and techniques of Scientology, this ultimate goal can only be realized when one’s true nature as an immortal spirit is revealed. This can be achieved with the help of church Practitioners or “Auditors” who are regarded as ministers.  Auditors help others to identify their current and past-life disturbances, which are said to be obstacles to happiness and spiritual enlightenment.

It’s believed that suffering by an individual is caused by the entrapment of the spirit in the physical universe. When an individual becomes aware of his spiritual nature he can only then identify his barriers within the universe and overcome them; hence rising to a higher state of happiness and freedom.

Scientology teaches that an individual cannot free himself without helping to free others at the same time, so this belief has resulted in the establishment of, and the churches support & promotion of, many organizations for social improvement concentrating on areas such as: Drug abuse, education, human rights, religious freedom, and morality and several other areas that impact our society.

Perhaps the most damning of all things taught within the Church of Scientology is the “Xenu” (pronounced: zi-nu / ZEE-noo) story. Some say this is part of the church’s secret “Advanced Technology” teaching which is considered both sacred and mysterious; this tightly held information is rumored to be revealed only to members who have contributed large amounts of cash to the church.  You see, the story of Xenu is a portion of church doctrine concerning extraterrestrial civilizations and alien interventions in planet earths distant past.

As the story goes as was originally told by the church founder L. Ron Hubbard; the ruler of the “Galactic Confederacy” brought billions of his people (known as “Teegeeack’s”) to earth around 75 million years ago in a DC-8-like spacecraft; after placing the them all in close proximity to volcanoes he killed them all with hydrogen bombs.  Why? I guess we’ll never know, since Hubbard departed the living in January of 1986.   Reportedly official Scientology scriptures hold that the spirits of these many Teegeeack people are still hanging out here on earth, and they hoover (for lack of a better word)  around modern day earth folk, causing them spiritual damage.

In 2005, the Church of Scientology’s worldwide membership stood at eight million, but this included an unknown number of people who had only taken the introductory course and did not continue with the program.  As recently as 2007 a Church official claimed 3.5 million members in the United States alone, but an earlier survey conducted in 2001 by the University of New York City could find only 55,000 people in the U S who claimed to be Scientologists. Worldwide, some observers believe a reasonable estimate of practicing members ranges between 100,000 and 200,000, mostly in the U.S., several European countries, South Africa and Australia. Most recently in 2008, the American Religious Identification Survey determined America’s Scientologists count had dropped to a mere 25,000.  But still if they all believe the Xenu Story, it’s nothing short of astounding!  But then that’s just one ol’ man’s opinion.


Friday, February 1, 2013

Disposable E Cigars & Rechargeable E Cigars & A Brief Account of Tobacco Based Cigars . . . . . . . . .

By now you know what a traditional tobacco based cigar is but until recently they were socially acceptable including the ever popular tradition of giving them away to friends & family at the birth of a child.

The word cigar originated from “sikar”, the Mayan-Indian word for smoking, which became “cigarro” in Spanish.  The Spanish were first among the Europeans to manufacture cigars, but not until the early 1700’s.  You see, the activity of smoking began shortly after Chris Columbus returned from his epic 1492 voyage to America;  it’s said a couple members of his crew had learned from the native Cuban “Indians” the satisfaction derived from smoking rolled tobacco leaves. 

It’s hard to forget that the Island of Cuba was an early Spanish possession, which was likewise the source of the tobacco leaves from which Cigarros would be made.  It seems the Conquistadors thought smoking was pretty neat too, because the act of smoking spread to Spain and Portugal and eventually to France, most likely through the French ambassador to Portugal, Jean Nicot, whose name most likely led to the term “nicotine”. Later, the habit spread to Italy and, and although Sir Walter Raleigh’s voyage to South America in 1595 failed to find El Dorado (the fabled city of gold), he is, none the less, credited with introducing a more realistic form of gold known as tobacco to the English.  By 1820 “segars” were being produced in Britain, and in 1821 an Act of Parliament was required to setup over site regulations for their manufacture.

Cigar production and sales became a booming business throughout Europe and in the America’s with little signs of slowing until the early 1960’s when a damning report by the American Surgeon General reported the ill effects on health.  No longer was the cigar a status symbol in the United States and the European passenger trains that had plush smoking cars to accommodate cigar smokers, and hotels that boasted smoking rooms were destined to become relics of the past.   Even the after-dinner cigar, accompanied by glasses of expensive wine or brandy, is said to be a tradition of days gone by.

The effect a rather vivid dream experienced by Hon Lik, the Chinese pharmacist, who is widely credited with the invention of the first generation electronic cigarette; and shortly thereafter the E Cigar, experienced in the year 2000 led to the development of the nicotine delivery system that some tobacco smoking enthusiasts consider just short of incredible. This view is widely held because the electronic device does not contain the substances commonly found in regular smoking tobacco based products, such as, tar and many other cancer causing agents.  The “E devices” do however contain the most addictive substance found in tobacco based products that’s delivered via a harmless vapor; as you’ve guessed that addictive substance is good ol’ Nicotine.

As the story goes, Hon Lik, a heavy tobacco smoker himself, had a serious respiratory infection. Because he constantly coughed and wheezed it became difficult for him to sleep.  Late one night in the year 2000, when he was finally able to fall asleep, he dreamed he was drowning in a deep sea and thought he would surely die. Suddenly the sea water vaporized and he found himself lying in a wonderland filled with a colorful fog . . . An amazing “trip” you might say, from a treacherous sea to colorful vapor! In any event Hon Lik’s dream inspired him to design the electronic cigarette which by most anyone’s standards is revolutionary.

In May of 2004 a cigarette smoking replacement device was introduced by the company Hon Lik worked for, Golden Dragon Holdings, which was a large Chinese tobacco company that later changed its name to Ruyan Group (Holdings) Limited, abbreviated Ruyan (literal translation: “Resembling smoking”); the company started exporting its products into the United States and Europe in late 2005.

So you if you were to say that Hon Lik’s dream was instrumental in his invention of the electronic cigarette that soon morphed into the Electronic (E) Cigar, you’d be right.

A brief description of the device is something like this: It’s a small battery powered device that generally looks a lot like a cigarette or cigar; it delivers nicotine via a liquid solution that’s vaporized into a fog when inhaled. It’s tipped with a colored light that only appears when you inhale or as many smokers like to say, “every time you take a drag”.   

Add the fact that the device yields not even one of the substances commonly found in tobacco based cigarettes, such as, tar and other cancer causing chemicals and it becomes clear why E Cigars, E Cigarettes, and Electronic Pipes have gained such worldwide prominence.

The only issue of late that’s left for you to resolve is which type of E Device you decide to use. Admittedly there is a genuine benefit to the convenience and initial low cost associated with Disposable E Cigars, but for the serious E Cigar smoker, the investment in a Rechargeable E Cigar is said to make the most sense from an economic stand point in the long-run.   

The US Center for Disease Control released figures in March of 2012 estimating that 45.3 million U S citizens, or 19.3% of all adults (18 or older), smoke tobacco products. The figures also show that smoking tobacco is a little more common among men than with women, just in-case you’re wondering.

The bottom line seems to be that traditional tobacco smoking remains the leading cause of avoidable death in the United States; roughly 443,000 U S citizens depart the land of the living every year which amounts to 1 out of every 5 deaths.  With these fact and figures foremost in mind, it’s of little wonder that E Cigar, E Cigarette, and Electronic Pipe use / sales in today’s marketplace can no longer be considered a “niche” Market.  In fact the industries best argument to date is that no reliable research has proven that this mode of getting your “nicotine fix” is apt to cause the big “C”.