Wet Blanket

As if Ferguson might prove too much a shock of an ice bucket, it seems, Lauren Duca points out, a curious coincidence mainstream culture suddenly moves social capital’s heaven and earth for a rare albeit terrible disease of bad-luck biology.

The different etiologies need be no zero-sum game, but are the Vine-length dunks of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge–the frisson of a waterboarding–a sublimated misdirection from the historical wrongs from which some of the most generous check writers benefit?

The irony is that most cases of ALS are social in origin, including a cluster around a lead smelter in Herculaneum, Missouri, just 50 miles south of Ferguson,

The [Doe Run Company] decided it would be too expensive to install upgrades to meet new EPA standards so in an agreement with the EPA, will shut down the lead smelter by the last day of the year.

The plant has operated there since 1892…

Through the years, the company has been forced to remove contaminated soil caused by pollution from the plant and ten years ago, bought out 160 homes around the smelter.

Herculaneum, founded as a shipping point on the Mississippi River for industrialist Moses Austin’s lead mines in Potosi, was named after the ancient Roman town destroyed by Mount Vesuvius.

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