(NOTE: In 2008, the event is January 4-5) Now, it should first be said that I would be the last person to defend raccoons in general. They are germy, parasite-laden, poultry-poaching pests and as far as their looks go, they had better be cute--that, and the fact that they are too big to flush is all that keeps them from being viewed by all on a level with rats. Still, there is a difference between having a strong dislike for all things raccoon and defending the coon hunt.
Not surprisingly, South Carolina, the state that refuses to see a problem with flying the Confederate flag over the capital building, the state that ranks 50th and 51st in SAT math and verbal portions, the home of Strom Thurmond, and the state that proudly boasts of 24 hazardous waste sites, will happily host the biggest coon hunt in the country today through January 8 (2006). On the South Carolina tourism website, the hunt was advertised this way a few years ago:
While the carnage could very well be limited in Orangeburg, the Orangeburg Chamber of Commerce is obviously unaware of, or in deep denial regarding, the way in which coon dogs are trained. Granted, most any dog will chase a raccoon if the opportunity arises, but to pursue one with such determination and in the middle of a winter night takes training. This is not accomplished by dragging a stuffed animal around and yelling sic 'em. As to getting the raccoon scent on something and then training with THAT...I have not seen any raccoon who complies when told to pee in a cup.
Saints celebrating feast days today include, but are not limited to, John Neumann, Apollinaris Syncletica, Syncletica, Simeon Stylites, Convoyon, Dorotheus the Younger, and Gerlac.
Birthdays today include Robert Duvall (1931) and Diane Keaton (1946). Also born on this day was Jeannette Ridlon Piccard (1895-1981). Jeannette Piccard was the first American woman to qualify as a free balloon pilot and was among the first to be ordained as an Episcopalian priest. With her husband, Jean Piccard, Jeannette set a record 57,579' balloon ascent in 1934. Coincidentally, Jean and Jeannette were both identical twins (not each OTHER'S...sheesh).
Jean Piccard? This name doesn't ring a bell? How about Jean Luc Piccard? Do you suppose the similarity of these names is coincidental?
Jean Piccard's twin was the grandfather of the current record-setting balloonist and author, Bertrand Piccard.