Mǎ Kèlì

I acquired a Chinese name when my Korean officemate at the University of Hawai'i, Gun-won Lee, helped me pick one out. He knew Chinese (as well as Korean, Vietnamese, English, and German) pretty well and knew what would make a suitable name. So he opened up Mathews' Chinese Dictionary to the k'ê's to see what might work as a first syllable for "Kelley." The very first character, [#3320], looked like a good candidate. One of the binomes, k'ê4chi3, 克己 (Pinyin kèjǐ), could mean "to deny self, bring the self under control, self-less."

It was a small step from that to K'ê4li4, 克利 (Pinyin Kèlì), "to subdue profit, bring profit under control" [Mathews' character #3867]. Since Confucianism has very mixed fellings about profit, that would be a very good Confucian name. Later, when I was taking a linguistics class at the University of Texas, I happened to sit next to a girl from Hong Kong. I had never checked out the name with anyone who was Chinese, so I showed it to her. "Yes," she said, "that is a Chinese name."

Of course, now I understand that the Confucian attitude towards profit caused tremendous damage to the Chinese people, damage which continued as Confucian hostility to profit was succeeded by Marxist hostility to profit. Nevertheless, neither I, nor my Scotch-Irish ethnic group, are very good at making any profit (my great uncle excepted); and I am in fact in the same professional position, as a parasite of the Public Treasury, as the Confucian Mandarins who managed to stifle the growth of Chinese wealth and strength, opening the country to foreign conquest and later European encroachment.

Since most of my academic colleagues are essentially trying to do the same thing to the United States, the least I can do is try to provide a contrary voice. Nevertheless, since this website it free and non-commercial, "profit" has certainly been "subdued" here.

A Chinese surname was a slightly different proposition. Not just anything can be a surname in Chinese. One way of referring to the Chinese people is as "old hundred names." A limited number of surnames, however, has became somewhat awkward in a country of a billion people. Since certain given names are popular, many people end up with the same names. Foreigners, whose names are often unpronounceable in Chinese, usually pick a Chinese name similar in sound or meaning to their own names.

My surname, "Ross," is Scottish, though perhaps deriving through Scots English from Welsh rhós, "upland or moorland," which was applied to Ross County, Scotland, whence the Earls of Ross derived their name. This was not very helpful for Chinese. However, there is also a German form of "Ross," which was an older German word for "horse" (Roß; modern German uses Pferd).

As it happens, the Chinese word for "horse," Ma3, (Pinyin ) is a very common surname. Since I am also part German (South German, from Baden, not one of those Prussians), I thought I might take advantage of the German meaning. So Ma it was. Since I am a teacher, I can use Mǎzǐ, 馬子, "Master Ma," like K'ung-tzu, 孔子 (Pinyin Kǒngzǐ), "Master K'ung":  Confucius.

Using 克利 isn't going to work with how other languages read these Chinese characters. Thus, in Japanese is koku, こく, in Korean is geug, 극, and in Vietnamese is khắc. in Japanese is ri, り, in Korean ri, 리, and in Vietnamese lợi.

So, Kokuri, Geugri, or Khắclợi aren't going to be very good matches for "Kelley." The biggest problem is probably that Mandarin has lost a final consonant in . We can still see that in Cantonese, where the character is hàk. The final "k" still turns up in Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese. So it is only the accident of the development of Mandarin that makes appropriate for the name.

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Copyright (c) 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2013, 2016, 2017, 2021 Kelley L. Ross, Ph.D., Postumus Friesianorum, All Rights Reserved

The Grand Army of the Republic Highway

On a stretch of US highway 395 in the magnificent Owens Valley of California, with the crest of the Sierra Nevada mountains looming to the west, there is a sign proclaiming that it is the "Grand Army of the Republic Highway." The "Grand Army of the Republic," as it happens, meant the victorious Union Army of the American Civil War. It was also the name then adopted by the postwar veterans organization of Union soldiers (created at much the same time, and by much the same people, as the National Rifle Association), which remained a political force for many years, seeking benefits, as veterans organizations will, for its members. Grover Cleveland was called on to restrain the expansion of these benefits. Calling a stretch of road between the small towns of Bishop and Lone Pine the "Grand Army of the Republic Highway" is a little perplexing, considering that the area had next to nothing to do with the Civil War, on a highway that in general goes through places that similarly had next to nothing to do with the Civil War -- although the Alabama Hills in the Owens Valley and the Kearsarge Pass in the Sierra are named after warships of the Confederacy and the Union, respectively -- the Alabama Hills appear in countless television commercials and in movies. I have noticed (6/25/00) that an additional sign has appeared on California Highway 14 just outside Palmdale, far south of the Owens Valley.

The answer to the puzzle of these signs may be found in the circumstance that the highways in the Owens Valley and near Palmdale were not always just US 395 and California 14. More than forty years ago, the State of California, with the completion of the Interstate Highway System nearing, carried out a great slaughter of US highway numbers. Many old roads, hallowed in the memory of many travelers, like and , were simply abolished, replaced by the new Interstates themselves, as I-40 replaced US 66 or I-80 replaced , turned into State highways, as with US 99 (now California 99), or simply discarded as redundant, like south of Los Angeles, where it would duplicate I-5. The loss of US 40 is noteworthy because I-80 goes around the infamous Donner Pass in the Sierra Nevada, leaving the original, historic route with no more identification than as "Donner Pass Road." Similarly, the highway on which James Dean was killed, , is now just California 46 (with the death scene at the junction of California 41, where there is a private monument at a nearby store parking lot), an otherwise completely unremarkable road.

This is the kind of thing I hate about the Interstate Highway System, particularly in California. The multiple lanes I don't mind. The limited access freeways I don't mind. The bypasses I don't mind:  Indeed, I did not enjoy crawling through traffic in places like Holbrook, Arizona, in blistering August heat, just for the privilege of getting back on the road to Albuquerque. No, I rather like the convenience of the better highways. But the Feds did not need to introduce a whole new system of numbering in the process, only thirty years or so after the original numbering of US highways was put together in the first place. Perhaps it has been forgotten, but the US highway system didn't exist before the 1920's. Although the Constitution gives the federal government the authority to establish "post Roads," which legitimizes federal road building better than most other federal activities are justified under the Constitution, little was done about that before Henry Ford's mass marketing of automobiles created a real demand for improved and paved roads for long trips. Many of the new highways followed historic trails, as US 101 did the Spanish Royal Road (El Camino Real) in California, or created entirely new, convenient, and memorable routes, like US 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles, the "Main Street of America."

Then, in the 1950's, somebody got the bright idea of what I have now seen called the "Eisenhower Interstate Highway System" (or the "National Defense Interstate Highway System," back when Congress actually paid some attention to the Constitutional justification of federal powers). This was actually directly inspired by the Autobahn system that Eisenhower had seen in Germany. While the mass-produced "People's Car" of Nazi Germany, the Volkswagen, was never produced before the War (the Volkswagen factory built tanks instead), the Autobahns themselves were built, with military uses obviously in mind. Thus, the Interstates actually did have a military background and purpose.

This all took long enough to build that it may not have been evident to most people until well into the 1970's what was going to happen. I was still driving on parts of US 66 in 1975. But then came the day when the whole extent of Route 66 was rendered redundant by the completed Interstates. Interstates 10, 15, 40, 44, and 55 would get you from Los Angeles to Chicago just fine, thank you, and we didn't need all those confusing extra US 66 signs around. Besides, there is a little Interstate 66 outside of Washington, DC, so the number is better used elsewhere. By 1985, every State through which US 66 had passed had simply abolished it -- despite its being the "Main Street of America," despite its history, despite the affection of the American People for it, despite its being the "Will Rogers Highway," and despite its recollection in song, movies, and television. In other words, politicians didn't care. The great route was tossed out with the trash.

In a country where owners of homes and other buildings are often deprived of their property rights by "historic conservation" laws (without the "just compensation" guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment), all to prevent the loss of significant artifacts of history, it is surprising that all the history of the US highway system should have been thrown away in so thoughtless, callous, and unnecessary a fashion, perhaps just to make a political point that something new was being done about the highways. There certainly was no reason why the US highway numbers could not have been moved over to the new freeways. This was done with most of US 101. Here in the San Fernando Valley, US 101 was originally Ventura Boulevard, the Royal Road from Los Angeles out to the Mission at San Buenaventura, and beyond. When the Ventura Freeway was built in the 1950's, it became US 101; and Ventura Boulevard was demoted to "Business US 101." Eventually that was discarded. Now Ventura Boulevard is just a street, though someone did keep one of the Camino Real bells on display -- the bells that used to line 101 itself, before they started getting stolen in the 1960's. But US 101 does exist, all the way from Los Angeles, California, to Port Angeles, Washington.

Few States were as ruthless as California in abolishing the old highway numbers [note]. While I live within a mile of US 101, my wife lives just a couple miles from US 1 in New Jersey, which still stretches from Florida to Maine, although everywhere threatened with replacement by Interstate 95. But perhaps US 1 carries too much symbolic value to be scrapped, especially when the side of the continent where the country began would then be left with a high and undistinguished number like "95." At the same time, there is a lot of space in the United States, and the skeletal Interstate Highway System is thin on the ground in a lot of it. Thus, despite several major Interstates crossing Texas (locally called "Inter-Regionals," since it may take many, many hours to actually get to another State), most of the area of the State is only accessible on the older highways. Texas is so big that besides the Interstate, US, and State highways, there is also a system of Ranch or Farm to Market (FM) Roads.

Actually, I had never driven directly between Austin and Albuquerque until 2003. I had no idea how long it might take but expected the worst. Previously I had always driven in stages, such as Austin to San Angelo, San Angelo to Alamogordo, and then Alamogordo to Albuquerque. In 2003, I left Albquerque about 6:30 in the morning. I had lunch in Pecos, Texas. When I arrived at Ft. Stockton on I-10 and saw that it was only 300 some miles to San Antonio, I realized that the drive would not be that bad after all. I made it from Albuquerque to Austin in just about 12 hours. It may have helped that the speed limit on I-10 in West Texas was 80 mph. On that trip, I subsequently did 16 hour drives to get from Austin to Atlanta and then Atlanta to New Jersey. Now I think that 12 hours is quite moderate. In January 2010, I drove straight through from Austin to Los Angeles, in about 20 hours 30 minutes. That was overdoing it.

Today, many people are very sorry that familiar highways like US 66 are gone. At various places on that vanished way new "Historic Route 66" signs have begun to appear. There seems little chance of the old numbers being restored and the thoughtless Interstate numbers replaced, but there will at least be books, organizations, and the agitation of devotees to forestall complete forgetfulness. Which brings me back to the "Grand Army of the Republic Highway":  US 395 in the Owens Valley and California 14 used to be, or also be, US Highway 6.

That all by itself is of interest. There can only be nine single digit US highway numbers in the country. Most are short stretches in New England, but I have already mentioned US 1, which still goes from Key West, Florida, to the Canadian border in Maine. As US 1 stretches the length of the country on the east coast, one would expect US 2 to stretch the length of the country on the border with Canada. However, it never seems to have quite done that. The Great Lakes represent a Canadian salient into the United States that breaks US 2 in half. US 2 thus goes through Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, but ends at the border with New York. It picks up again on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and from there continues all the way to Washington State, ending at what used to be US 99 (now I-5) north of Seattle. This route has been paralleled by, but not replaced by, I-90 and I-94.

US 3, US 4, US 5, and US 7 crisscross New England; but, apart from US 4, which gets as far as Albany, they seem to have always been confined to that region. US 9 does somewhat better, going from Cape May, New Jersey, all the way to the Canadian border in upstate New York, following the historic route of the Dutch road in the Hudson Valley from New York City to Albany. Since the east coast of the United States runs diagonally from southwest to northeast, the numbering of the old north-south highways, except for US 1, gets larger as one goes south. Thus, the coastal road in New Jersey is US 9, in Delaware, US 13, and in the Carolinas and Georgia, US 17. US 1, the coastal road in New England, takes over again in Florida.

US highway 8 represents an anomaly for which we must look afar. Where we might expect to find US 8, or, for that matter, US 10, in New York, Pennsylvania, or New Jersey, they are nowhere to be located. Instead, we look to the west side of the Canadian salient again:  US 10 begins at Detroit, crosses lower Michigan, jumps Lake Michigan, and then crosses Wisconsin to St. Paul, through Minnesota, North Dakota, and Montana, all the way to Seattle, Washington. There is little space between US 2 and US 10 for US 6 or US 8. US 8, as it happens, begins at US 2 in Michigan, and then crosses Wisconsin and Minnesota to St. Paul, there to end. That leaves us looking for US 6, but US 6 has long gone elsewhere.

Way back in New England, US 6 began at Provincetown on Cape Cod, the place the Mayflower is originally supposed to have made landfall. It crosses New England, as we might expect, parallel to US 2 and US 4, through Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, entering New York, like US 4. But where US 4 soon ends, US 6 does not, making its way through to Pennsylvania . In Pennsylvania, the highway hits only one important town, Scranton, but does continue all the way across the State.

Entering Ohio, US 6 meets US 20. There we might expect it to end, since US 20 is a major transcontinental highway, going all the way from Boston to the Pacific Ocean at Newport, Oregon (US 30, starting at Atlantic City, goes to Portland and Astoria, Oregon). But it does not end:  US 6 continues on to Cleveland and through Indiana to Chicago, Illinois. From there, paralleling US 20 and US 30, 6 heads out across Iowa and Nebraska, through Des Moines and Omaha.

Continuing on, we find that US 6 in fact defined the major route from Chicago to Denver, Colorado. To follow the same route today, one must follow I-80 and then turn off on I-76, which goes down to meet I-70, coming over from Kansas City. From Denver, US 6 continues on the major route west down into the valley of Lake Utah and the Great Salt Lake in Utah. I-70 actually ends at I-15 near the middle of the State. US 6 headed up north to hit US 91 (now I-15) at Spanish Fork, just south of Provo. There we might expect it to end too, but it doesn't.

Instead, US 6 wanders off into the emptiest parts of Utah and Nevada. Indeed, the only cities of any size at all that US 6 goes through in Nevada are Ely and Tonopah. It is just west of Ely that we today see the sign at right. Barely entering California, the highway now does end at Bishop. Previously, however, US 6 continued down the Owens Valley, through Mojave, Lancaster, and Palmdale, and to Los Angeles. Indeed, the highway came into Los Angeles on San Fernando Road, crossed US 66, and then went down Figuroa Street all the way to Pacific Coast Highway, not ending until Long Beach. If US 6 had not mostly been erased in California, we might have been able to say that it went all the way from the Mayflower in Provincetown (though it had moved on) to the Queen Mary in Long Beach (though the Queen Mary doesn't have all that much to do with American history -- which is perhaps the point about Southern California). This was the longest US highway:  in 1939 3,652 miles long, and in 1951 3,533 miles.

Below we see the White Pine Mountains (the source of the White River and eponym of White Pine County), still bearing snow in July, 2010, from US 6 west of Ely. This spectacular "Basin and Range" province of Nevada, far from the rush and crowd of the Interstates, features a solitude to match its beauty. It is perhaps fitting that the last leg of US 6 should be isolated from the bustle of modern life and all the changes that have taken place in the last half century, leaving us free to reflect on the developments that have obscured the highway's identity elsewhere and erased historic roads such as US 66.

So was this the real "Grand Army of the Republic Highway"? Well, at right is one of the signs in Nevada that still identify it as such. There are no other highways with such an interesting transcontinental route, and no others, besides US 66 itself, to describe such a large diagonal. The diagonal of US 6, as it happens, does not cross a single former Confederate or Slave State, nor any territory that at any time was under Confederate control, like Oklahoma or Arizona/New Mexico (originally the Territory of New Mexico and briefly controlled as the Confederate Territory of Arizona). While Nevada, Utah, and Colorado, the original Territory of Utah, were open to slavery by the Compromise of 1850, it is doubtful that much slavery was ever practiced there -- the Mormons probably had their hands full with their polygamy -- and then Nevada was admitted as a Free State right in the middle of the Civil War ("Battle Born").

So I originally suspected that US 6 as a whole was at some point designated to commemorate the whole Union Army, as US 66 was called the "Will Rogers Highway." But there certainly is little interest in this now.

In April 2002, after I had originally posted this page, James Powell has sent along some information, like the lengths of the highway above, including where the "Grand Army" designation came from. I will quote some of what he says:

The idea of the GAR [Grand Army of the Republic] Memorial Highway goes back to about 1934. At the (GAR) National Encampment in 1936, it was proposed that US 6 be designated as the GAR Memorial Highway... The designation took place in 1937...

The only specific State Act that Mr. Powell had found was for New York. Since then, I have seen the highway designated by signs in Nevada, with reports of others elsewhere. I have followed parts of the route in Massachusetts and Colorado, but have only crossed it in New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.

Finding US 6

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The Grand Army of the Republic Highway, Note

A curious case of changing the number of a US highway concerns US 666. This was established in 1926 as a branch of US 66, eventually extending from Arizona through New Mexico to Colorado and Utah.

Since 666 is the "Number of the Beast" in the Book of Revelation, and the highway, particularly in New Mexico, seemed to have a particularly high fatality rate, people began to think of US 666 as cursed and as associated with the Devil. The signs for the road also became the most stollen of all US highway signs, presumably both by the curious and by those actually seeking to invoke Satan with the object. References to US 666 began to turn up in popular culture, usually in association with Satanism or paranormal phenomena. To break these associations and to prevent the theft of the signs, a movement began to abolish or renumber the highway.

In 1992, US 666 in Arizona was renumbered as US 191, . After this, US 666 simply began at Gallup, NM, and continued north. In 2003, US 666 in New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah was renumbered US 491, . After the prospective change was announced, nearly all remaining US 666 signs were stollen. After the change, some signs were used that said "Former 666." These have been stollen also.

The fatality rate along US 666 actually seems to have been the result of dangerous conditions on the highway in New Mexico and a high alcoholism rate on the Navajo Reservation. Since the numbering change, much of the road has been reconstructed and divided. This has reduced the fatality rate considerably.

Two things occur to me about this history. One is that the process actually took so long. People don't seem to have worried much about the "Number of the Beast" in the '20's, '30's, '40's, '50's, etc. Then it suddenly became an issue. The other point is that US highway numbers were retained. Where California often gratuitously abolished US highway numbers, even creating new State highway numbers (such as CA 14) to replace them, we see the living system of US highway in action in the case of US 666.

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Lee Ross

This is my great grandfather, Leander Fountain Ross, known to the family as "Lee." He was born on January 11, 1845, in Bradley County, Tennessee, and died on April 28, 1923, in Searcy, Arkansas. My father told me two stories about him. One was that sometimes he would just leave baskets of food on the porch of their house in Arkansas. I assume this means that he was a farmer, although I never otherwise heard about that.

The other story was that he was in the Confederate Army in the Civil War. Since he would have been 18 years old in 1863, that stands to reason. Someone I know has a multivolume roster of everyone who was ever in the Confederate Army. There is indeed an "L. Ross" listed with an Arkansas regiment. However, the story I was told is that Lee came down with the measles and went home. Since more Union and Confederate soldiers died of disease than in combat, Lee's experience and action are not surprising. I never heard whether he went home with permission or deserted. Since the Army would want a soldier with measles to be quarantined, so that the infection would not spread, they might not have objected too strongly if he was willing to leave, saving them the expense and personnel to look after him. The Confederate Army, however, did have a serious problem with desertion.

On the other hand, posted on line is some information about the military service of Lee Ross. It says that Lee enlisted in January 1863, which sounds right. He is said to have been a Second Sargeant, I Company, Smith Regiment in the "Shelby Brigade." But then he was captured and paroled in July 1864. That would have been a sufficient and understandable reason for him to have gone home. Indeed, he would have been very lucky, at that stage in the War, not to have been sent to a Union prisoner of war camp, since prisoner exchanges were no longer being carried out (after the Fort Pillow Massacre, April 12, 1864 -- disturbingly during the time of Lee Ross's service). However, if he actually had come down with measles, that could have provided a reason for him to be paroled rather than sent North to a prison camp, spreading infection as he went. Since there were no longer prisoner exchanges, Lee Ross would not have been discharged from his parole. No issue with desertion in that case.

There is other information on line about another contemporary "L.F. Ross," who is said to have been twenty in 1865, exactly the age Lee Ross when then have been. But this L.F. Ross joined the 10th Arkansas Infantry, Company G, which surrendered at Port Hudson on July 9, 1863. The prisoners were exchanged, and the unit was reorganized as the 10th Mounted Infantry, or the 10th or (Allan R.) Witt's Cavalry. This unit surrendered on May 28, 1865, and all its members were paroled, since the War was over.

So was Lee Ross in Smith's Regiment or Witt's Cavalry? If the latter, then the story about the measles, or possible desertion, doesn't enter into the matter -- although earlier in the War the 10th Arkansas had lost 150 men to measles. That was before Lee Ross joined. Since both accounts of "L.F. Ross" involve parole, with the complication that Confederates in July 1864 were not ordinarily being paroled, while the parole of the 10th Cavalry would have been the custom after Appomatox, the latter account begins to seem more reasonable. But this will need to be definitively cleared up only after more research.

In the early Twenties, my family, the Rosses and Kelleys, were moving from Arkansas to California. My grandmother's brother, Ransom Leslie "Les" Kelley, had struck it rich in the car business, ultimately founding the Kelley Blue Book. My grandfather, Elisha Lockard Ross, held off, since his father did not want to leave Arkansas. When Lee died in 1923, my grandfather then moved his family to California. My father was 7 years old. So I was born in Hollywood, California, not Searcy, Arkansas -- and I did not set foot in Arkansas until 2013.

I was never aware of any Ross relatives back in Arkansas; and when I asked my grandmother (a Kelley) about them, she didn't know anything about it, although she was in touch with many Kelley relatives. Now on line is the information that Lee and Rebecca had 18 children, of whom six lived to have children in adulthood, namely:

  1. Julia Melinda Angeline Rebecca Ross Pruitt (1866-1946)
  2. Charles William "Charlie" Ross (1869-1947)
  3. Narcissa Ross McEuen (1870-1932)
  4. Elishos [sic; Elisha] Lockard Ross (1882-1950)
  5. Lillie Ross Floyd (1889-1924)
  6. Florence Binnie Ross Gay (1891-1962)

After Rebecca died in 1909, Lee remarried, to Eva Arnold, on August 26, 1913. She was 45 years-old (he was 68), and they had no children.

So I seem to have a fair number of Ross cousins in Arkansas, none of whom my family, to my knowledge, has ever had any contact with. The material I see on line has been posted by Linda McCall Rodgers, who says that much of her information came from Florence Pruitt McCall (1889-1985), a daughter of Julia Ross and John Robert Pruitt. Was McCall thus the mother of Linda McCall Rogers? This is not clear. If so, Linda McCall Rogers is my second cousin, although probably substantially older than I am (our grandparents would have been separated by sixteen years and our parents by twenty-seven). Also, there are some minor mysteries here. McCall Rogers gives my grandmother's name as "Phoebe Wages" rather than "Phoebe Lucinda Kelley." Had she previously been married, like her husband? Also, the given name of my grandfather is listed as "Elishos," which is a rather odd name, unlike the "Elisha" with which I and my aunts, his daughters, are otherwise familiar.

There is also the curious case of the father of John W. Ross. He is identified as "Martin Ross" on the 1850 Census; but McCall Rogers gives his name as "Martin van Buren Ross." Now, we can suspect that someone given the name "Martin van Buren" in the 19th century would have been named after the President Martin van Buren, the chosen successor of Andrew Jackson. However, van Buren didn't become President until 1837, and Martin Ross, fifty years of age in 1850, was born around 1800. No one would have been naming anyone after Martin van Buren in 1800. So it is hard to imagine that this is not a confusion, but it may even be a confusion that arose in the Ross family itself. With the name "Martin," it may be that the father of John W. Ross began to be called "van Buren" either as a nickname or a joke.


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Yes, I Inhaled

Yes, I inhaled. But it was only once, on May 10, 1968, in the basement apartment of a house at the corner of Lead Ave. and Ash St., S.E., in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It was an experience that persuaded me that drugs were probably not for me. It almost even got me killed. And so I think it is a significant event in light of my support now, and at times as a political candidate, for drug legalization.

It was certainly the height of the Sixties, in a place, New Mexico, that held certain attractions for hippiedom. It was about the time that I saw Robert Kennedy, from a distance, when he made a campaign appearance in Zimmerman Stadium (since demolished) at the University of New Mexico. I was on my way to my Greek class, scrupulously uninterested in politics, as I would remain for some time. Later I would fly back to Los Angeles from Albuquerque the very morning after Kennedy was assassinated, after sitting up all night with my friends watching for news about it all.

Those were the same friends, Monica and David, both from New York City, who earlier introduced me to marijuana. Not that it was their idea. I had started out my year in New Mexico in a very moralistic, puritanical, and ascetic mode. A Stoic philosopher. I used to get up promptly at 6:30 in the morning and go to bed at 10:00 every night. The last thing I was interested in was any kind of stimulant or hallucinogen. That broke down, in the end, not from peer pressure, since few of my friends were into a drug or partying scene, but pretty much out of loneliness, unhappiness, and despair. The women I had gotten interested in that year were pretty uninterested in me, and that took a toll on my determination. In the end, I was no longer confident that the moralism and asceticism were for anything, and it certainly was not delivering the kind of companionship that I wanted. The Summer of Love (in 1967) had already been distinguished for me by thoughts of suicide. The exhilaration of New Mexico, the great blue sky and towering clouds over Albuquerque and the Sandia Mountains, had thankfully gotten me well over that, but I was still a lonely person.

I knew Monica and David from my Greek class. They really didn't seem like the types to be in a Greek class, but there turned out to be a simple explanation:  Greek was not a spoken language, and so there was no language lab for it. This meant less bother in fulfilling language requirements. The two of them, of the people I knew, seemed to be the most seriously interested in drugs. Sometimes this meant a Friday night experiment of buying over-the-counter drugs and taking a slight overdose, just to see what would happen. But they were also very nice and very friendly people. I lost track of them soon after that year, but I do hope that they avoided the sometimes fatal pitfalls of their recreation.

So, when I thought I might try marijuana, they were the ones to whom I turned. It all started normally enough, but after smoking one cigarette, nothing seemed to happen. So I ended up going through very nearly three all by myself. Then the drug took effect very suddenly, with a very peculiar result. My whole visual field seemed to detach, boil off, and blow away. Leaving a void. Then suddenly it would reappear, and then boil off and blow away again. This process continued and began to speed up. Then it began to seem that it wasn't just my visual field, but my entire consciousness, my entire self, that was boiling off and blowing away. When that happened, I was seized with terror and panic. Hardly realizing what I was doing, since my consciousnessness had blown away, I jumped up, grabbed a glass mug full of hot tea that I had been drinking, and threw it against the wall of the apartment. Poor Monica and David were picking pieces of glass out of their bed for some time.

But the forceful action seemed to retrieve my self, rather like William Hurt pounding the walls and floor to solidify his body at the end of the movie Altered States. I found this rather exhilarating, but it led to a second problem:  I had just spent a good part of the semester studying Immanuel Kant. The entire world of empirical reality was no more than the phenomenal content of consciousness. Now I had just seen and felt this truth demonstrated in the most intimate and forceful way. Even my own self, as Kant also would have said, had disappeared with the world and my consciousness off into that void. So I was suddenly persuaded that the external world had no separate reality whatsoever, and this was a realization that I felt I must immediately communicate to the woman I had recently been interested in. So I went running out the door of Monica and David's apartment. Then I needed to cross Lead Ave., which was actually one of the busier streets in that part of Albuquerque. Since external objects didn't really exist, it occurred to me that I did not have to worry about avoiding the traffic, so I ran out into the street.

This was not a good idea in the face of the traffic, and not a faithful interpretation of Kant either, since the cars were still necessarily there as things-in-themselves. Fortunately, faithfully Kantian or otherwise, I had my doubts about the ideality of the cars while there was still time to get out of the way. There was some honking of horns. Several drivers may have returned home complaining about the doped-up hippie who ran out in front of them on Lead Ave. that night. So I ran on, and soon enough encountered the limitations of my own body:  I ran out of breath. This finally brought me completely back to reality. I began to walk and circled around back to Monica and David's.

David and some other friends were out looking for me. After all, I had jumped up screaming, broken crockery, and run out the door like a mad man. Monica was waiting behind. But I was past the crisis. Soon enough the others returned, and we all drove down to a Mexican restaurant downtown where we had something to eat. I was definitely still high. That was not unpleasant. If I concentrated on introspection, I could begin to reproduce the boiling off effect again, but it was mild and under control. All I had to do was focus on something outside of me to stop it.

By the time Monica and David dropped me off at my dormitory, Oñate Hall (see map), I was coming down from the high pretty steadily. At that point, the prospect of further experimentation was appealing. However, I seemed more shaken by the experience the next day than I had been the night before. Even David said it seemed more like an LSD experience than just like marijuana--and he knew the difference. As days passed, I was less inclined to risk myself again. Soon, I lost all desire to experiment.

In later years, in Los Angeles, Beirut, Hawaii, and Texas, I was often in the company of people, sometimes even my best friends, who were occasional and recreational drug users, which by then just meant marijuana (hashish in Beirut)--even the ones who had dropped LSD in the Sixties had drawn back from the risk of those experiences. It was rare to never that anyone pressured or even invited me to join in. But I had not returned entirely to my asceticism:  By the time I was living in Texas I had learned to drink in such a way as to get drunk but not get sick. So I was not adverse to partying. And we had some great parties in Texas in the late Seventies.

So my testimony is that drugs endangered my life. I fear that others my age in the Sixties ran similar, or greater, risks but were not so lucky. But in light of those risks, dangers, and tragedies, I think that the greater tragedy is trying to protect society from drugs by destroying people's lives through the law, putting them in jail, seizing their property, and criminalizing their imprudence. Nor does it protect society to have created countless big and little Al Capones of the drug trade. "Drug Lord" is an evocative term. Indeed, one might think that this lesson should already have been learned:  Demon Rum was nothing compared to Murder Incorporated. Now the dangerous follies of youth become the tyrannies of paternalistic government, and the Drug Warriors seem willing to destroy the Constitution in order to "save" it.

But it goes a little deeper than that. People now seem to think that the purpose of law and government is to make everything Absolutely Safe. If freedom and the Bill of Rights need to be destroyed, if every citizen needs to be turned into an infant, to make everything Absolutely Safe and to protect everyone from themselves, then so be it, even if it is usually the case that somebody else is going to get their lives destroyed by judicial Terror just to make them safe. There is an irrationality here which is often evident to the youth who are the main focus of anti-drug propaganda:  What sense does it make to threaten people with jail, fines, a criminal record, and the destruction of their life and wealth supposedly to persuade them that drugs are "bad" for them? When the law is obviously worse than drugs, then drugs actually don't seem so bad after all! So if we can avoid the law, why not? And if "punishments" are obviously and grotesquely disproportionate to the "crimes," doesn't this then persuade that all "punishment" and all "crime" are the arbitrary expressions of nothing more than political power?

Hence the wisdom of Thomas Jefferson, who said in his "Notes on Virginia" (1784):

Was the government to prescribe to us our medicine and diet, our bodies would be in such keeping as our souls are now. Thus in France the emetic was once forbidden as medicine, the potato as an article of food.

"In such keeping as our souls are now" refers to the State Religion that was still in force in Virginia when Jefferson wrote in 1784. Jefferson's own "Act for establishing Religious Freedom" was proposed in 1779 but not passed until 1786. Now, however, we have seen the establishment of a virtual State Religion of Health, through which the extra-constitutional and improper powers given to agencies like the FDA and DEA are enforced with outrageous, draconian penalties, not to mention summary and extra-judicial fines and seizures. A secular age thus creates a Secular Inquisition, and it becomes a Crime against the State to endanger the health of bodies which evidently have been surrendered into the keeping of Government. It is an astonishing thing, all in all, to happen in America, except perhaps in relation to the Puritanism that spilled forth in the moronic "Noble Experiment" of Prohibition itself--an appalling regime of repression that simply continues through various drug controls and prohibitions.

So, I fear, I am neither a blissed out, Timothy Leary-like child of the Sixties nor a vengeful Neo-Con out to smash counterculture permissiveness. Indeed, if the permissiveness is bad, it will smash itself. But if the law is busy smashing me instead, just for insisting on governing my own body, it has become terror and tyranny, not justice or wisdom.

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On January 1st, 1981, I was in Austin, Texas. We had had a pretty wild New Year's Eve party the night before, though perhaps not as wild as it might have been ten years earlier. On New Year's Day itself, clear, brisk, and bright, Robert Daniel and Mike Rogers and I went for a drive. The photo of us (right to left, respectively) is below the limestone wall of a stream bed near Marble Falls, Texas. I don't remember how I managed to rig the camera so that I could get across the stream and into the picture in time before the timer went off. Evidently I did -- I even had time to shade my face and so block it from view.

I especially like the day because I picked up one of my most cerished lapel pins. At a Texaco station in Cedar Park, Texas, I bought the armadillo with the Yellow Rose of Texas shown at left. Later I had people telling me that it was actually hard to find pins like that. The armadillo, of course, was rather like the counter-culture mascot at the University of Texas, where the official mascot is Bevo the Longhorn. Armadillos are mostly not seen round about except as road kill in countless Texas highways. I don't know if they are particularly vulnerable to being hit that way. There may just be a lot of them. At a certain time of the year in Hawaii, it was frogs in the roads. Or they might just be stupid -- it is possible to sneak up behind them and grab them by the tail. This is not recommended, however, since they do have wicked claws. Otherwise they just seemed cute and inoffensive -- unless the armor represented some message I've never understood.

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Barry Smith

My attention was called to the book Austrian Philosophy, the Legacy of Franz Brentano and to the article by Jonathan Jacobs & John Zeis, "Form and Cognition:  How to Go Out of Your Mind" [The Monist, vol. 80, no. 4, October, 1997, pp. 539-557] by the editor of the Monist and the author of the book, Barry Smith, Professor of Philosophy at the State University of New York, Buffalo. How this happened is noteworthy.

I met Professor Smith at a conference in 1997. We were both part of the audience to a presentation to the effect that Descartes was a terrible philosopher, the source of all the evils of modern thought, while earlier philosophy, like Aristotle, was much better. I pointed out that Descartes's difficulty with his intuitively known "clear and distinct" ideas was really no different from the problem with Aristotle's "first principles of demonstration." Professor Smith then spoke up that Aristotle's problem had been "taken care of," as would be revealed in an article in a forthcoming issue of his journal.

Later, at a reception, I asked Professor Smith how this had been "taken care of." He said this was really very well known, that it was because of what "first principles were," and that, basically, he couldn't be bothered telling me about it. (This is the sort of response that reminds me why I have often found academic philosophers irritating, not to mention insufferably arrogant.) He could, however, give me the e-mail address of one of the authors of his forthcoming article, who could send me the proof of the article. This was, of course, "Form and Cognition," and Professor Zeis did kindly send me the proof. The problem of first principles had, as it happened, not even been mentioned, much less "taken care of," in the article. The Cartesian problem of knowedge was addressed, but the proposed solution, as I have considered, was very far from being adequate. And if first principles are produced by "formal causation," then this suffers from the same drawback as all other "causal" (or "externalist") theories of knowledge:  A causal relation is not a cognitive relation, and it leaves the subject in possession of intuitions or judgments whose justification is external and hidden to cognitive inspection.

Professor Smith thus seemed to suffer from the disease of so many academic philosophers:  They are so persuaded of their own ideas, and of the consensus of their immediate group of scholar friends, as to regard them as self-evident and in no need of explanation to the hoi poloi -- such as an unknown scholar at a conference. He was much more polite and responsive later in e-mail correspondence, but the first impression was disagreeable, no mistaking it.

I fear, but expect, that others may be similarly put off by me. I am afraid that I unintentially insulted the astrophysicist Piet Hutt of the Institute for Advanced Study (at Princeton) some years ago when he asked me to respond to his enthusiastic reading of Henri Bergson (1859-1941). Since I don't think of Bergson as a very serious philosopher, it was hard to answer Piet without sounding insufferably condescending, to the effect that he was working at a pretty trivial level and needed a much better background in the history of philosophy. Not to worry, he was later able to respond in kind to my views about non-Euclidean geometry -- a sort of response repeated many times by others, sometimes with great indignation, to the philosophy of science and philosophy of mathematics discussions at this site. For general inquires directed to the Proceedings of the Friesian School, I do try and give informative answers to reasonable questions, but sometimes the questions are so lame, or the failure of a particularly dense writer to get the point so incorrigible, that the correspondent must certainly feel that my attitude is as haughty as Barry Smith's.

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