June 29, 2009
A Midnight Race on the Mississippi by Nathaniel Currier 1813-1888
AN EXCITING SCENE OF TWO STEAMBOATS RACING DOWN THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER SIX YEARS AFTER THE CONCLUSION OF THE CIVIL WAR The Mississippi riverboat was second only to the cowboy as the quintessential American product. Indeed, Gulf Coast steamboats achieved such international popularity that wagers were placed as far away as Berlin and Vienna on the outcomes of the famous steamboat races down the Mississippi. Besides their profound economic and technological importance, steamboats also figured as important thematic elements in nineteenth-century European and American art, literature, speech and song. For example, within the works of Joseph Conrad, Charles Dickens, Edna Ferber, Jack London, Herman Melville, Eugene O’Neill, Robert Louis Stevenson and, of course, Mark Twain, steamers served variously as symbols for the contemporary pride and progress in technology, as metaphors for the conflict between man and nature, and as elements of plot and setting. This action-packed chromolithograph depicts two paddle steamers, the Lincoln and Davies, racing down the Mississippi River at night. Both of the steamers charge through the Mississippi’s calm rivers, their hulls crashing through the waves and smokestacks emitting fiery exhausts. Both of the ornate boats are typical of their time periods, as both possess flat-bottomed hulls, 2 side-paddle wheels and are propelled by a single high pressure engine. Passengers are pictured congregating on the decks of each of the boats, eagerly anticipating the outcome of the fiercely fought race. The entire enthralling scene unfolds under a glowing full moon which is seen nestled within an electric blue night sky. This work wonderfully encapsulates the period of the steamboat’s transportation and cultural dominance in the United States, a position soon to be usurped by the mighty railroads.
June 28, 2009
June 26, 2009
June 25, 2009
June 23, 2009
June 20, 2009
Add a Little Weight, Gain 6-7 Years: Study - Science & Health News Briefs | Newser
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June 19, 2009
June 17, 2009
June 16, 2009
U.S. to Respond to North Korea with ‘Strongest Possible Adjectives'
Obama: We are Prepared to Consult Thesaurus
One day after North Korea launched a successful test of a nuclear weapon, President Obama said that the United States was prepared to respond to the threat with "the strongest possible adjectives."
In remarks to reporters at the White House, Mr. Obama said that North Korea should fear the "full force and might of the United States' arsenal of adjectives" and called the missile test "reckless, reprehensible, objectionable, senseless, egregious and condemnable."
Standing at the President's side, Vice President Joseph Biden weighed in with some tough adjectives of his own, branding North Korean President Kim Jong-Il "totally wack and illin'."
Later in the day, Defense Secretary Robert Gates called the North Korean nuclear test "supercilious and jejune," leading some in diplomatic circles to worry that the U.S. might be running out of appropriate adjectives with which to craft its response.
But President Obama attempted to calm those fears, saying that the United States was prepared to "scour the thesaurus" to come up with additional adjectives and was "prepared to use adverbs" if necessary.
"Let's be clear: we are not taking adverbs off the table," Mr. Obama said. "If the need arises, we will use them forcefully, aggressively, swiftly, overwhelmingly and commandingly."
More from Andy Borowitz here.
I think it happens to all of us, forgetfulness that is. Just yesterday during conversation #three million two that my best friend and I were discussing that names seem to go first. If we live a full life then it will probably happen to all of us. I know there is nothing to be done for it, but I worry anyway. I have memories neatly squirreled away that I don't wish to lose, why? I seem to have forgotten.
June 15, 2009
June 13, 2009
Winston Churchill was the British Prime Minister during World War II. He was widely credited with being one of the strategic masterminds that made the Allied victory possible. Churchill was also a prolific writer and won the Nobel Prize for Literature.
This shot was snapped in the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa, Canada after the photographer had annoyed Churchill by taking away his cigar. Widely considered one of the most famous portrait photos ever taken. Date: 1941. Photographer: Yousuf Karsh.
I live near the biggest Amish conclave (if that's the right word) in the U.S. in Holmes county Ohio. We, living in this close proximity, have become use to their dress, their buggy's, their ways, their wish to avoid having their pictures taken.
What I admire above all else is their belief's and non-violence. They live them everyday of their lives. The forgiveness shown to the killer who killed the Amish children in the school was extraordinary. Their belief in non-violence befuddles most of us, and runs counter to how most of us would react in such a moment. The scene in the movie WITNESS of the town rowdies abusing a man who in all probability could physically walk all over them is a dramatic example of their belief being pure and deep to endure such incidents and turn around and forgive the perpetrator.
The Amish in all their peculiarity's are what the original settlers asked for and received, a chance to live their lives and beliefs and contribute to the land they chose.
June 12, 2009
I don’t think there is such a thing as a good war even though Studs Terkel might disagree with me. I believe there are some wars that are necessary. World War II would fall into that category. For all those non-history students, that was the war that featured the United States as the good guys and Japan as one of the bad guys. After they were on the receiving end of two atomic bombs with more in the offing, Japan decided wisely to save the lives of perhaps a million more soldiers and civilians, and surrendered. They also wisely included later in their new constitution, article 9, which forbade maintaining military forces ever again.
Article 9 has remained in the constitution for sixty years, and the Japanese people have been happy with the decision they made. But sadly it seems, article 9 has run head long into the 21st century and they may reluctantly have to drop what may turn out to have been a Japanese version of Camelot, a place where it doesn’t rain until after sundown and by eight a.m. the sunlight must appear, a fairy tale. As it was in Camelot outside forces disrupted what was a wise, and beautiful moment, it may also be coming to Japan.
The changing and ever more dangerous world has come to Japan’s door and questions their non-participation in helping police the more belligerent members of the world community. It’s sad because if it is not changed by 2010, you can rest assured that more efforts will follow until they, which ironically includes the U.S., are successful and article 9 will fall into legend and become a tale the Japanese will tell their grandchildren. A tale of what some will remember as a dream that could not last.
HISTORY OF ARTICLE 9
Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution not only forbids the use of force as a means to settling international disputes but also forbids Japan from maintaining an army, navy or air force. Therefore, in strictly legal terms, the Self Defense Forces are not land, sea or air forces, but are extensions of the national police force. This has had broad implications for foreign, security and defense policy. The ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) government has interpreted Article 9 as renouncing the use of warfare in international disputes but not the internal use of force for the purpose of maintaining law and order. The main opposition party, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) tends to concur with the government's interpretation. At the same time, both parties have advocated the revision of Article 9 by adding an extra clause explicitly authorizing the use of force for the purpose of self-defense against aggression directed against the Japanese nation. The now-defunct Japan Socialist Party (JSP), on the other hand, had considered the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) as unconstitutional and advocated the full implementation of Article 9 through the demilitarization of Japan. When the party joined with the LDP to form a coalition government, it reversed its position and recognized the JSDF as a structure that was constitutional. The Japanese Communist Party (JCP) considers the JSDF unconstitutional and has called for reorganization of Japanese defense policy to feature an armed militia.
Since the late-1990s, Article 9 has been the central feature of a dispute over the ability of Japan to undertake multilateral military commitments overseas. During the late 1980s, increases in government appropriations for the JSDF averaged more than 5 percent per year. By 1990 Japan was ranked third, behind the then-Soviet Union and the United States, in total defense expenditures, and the United States urged Japan to assume a larger share of the burden of defense of the western Pacific. Given these circumstances, some have viewed Article 9 as increasingly irrelevant. It has remained, however, an important brake on the growth of Japan's military capabilities. Despite the fading of bitter wartime memories, the general public, according to opinion polls, continued to show strong support for this constitutional provision.
The majority of Japanese citizens approve the spirit of Article 9 and consider it personally important. But since the 1990s, there has been a shift away from a stance that would tolerate no alteration of the article to allowing a revision that would resolve the discord between the JSDF and Article 9. Additionally, quite a few citizens consider that Japan should allow itself to commit the Self-Defense Forces to collective defense efforts, like those agreed to on the UN Security Council in the Gulf War, for instance. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe marked the 60th anniversary of the Japanese Constitution in 2007 by calling for a bold review of the document to allow the country to take a larger role in global security and foster a revival of national pride.
June 11, 2009
Why do we travel?
Well to be quite honest about it, I don't, or at least I travel very little. It's quite a conundrum actually. When I was young and inquisitive about other countries and cultures I really could not afford to scratch the itch, and now when I could afford to indulge myself in a little world exploration I wish not to take to the road for various physical reasons. No, I'm healthy enough, just getting older, and I dislike living out of suitcases and being away from the comfort and habits I have acquired in my retirement years.
But some mornings I awake and for various reasons my mind returns to those days when I was excited about seeing new countries, exotic cities and journey among people speaking other languages than mine. It was fun, now it would just be irritating that they spoke in a language other than English.
Luckily I am in the minority and most people I think, still like to look around the next curve in the road or sample strange foods, and live for a while in the other man's shoes. This slideshow invites 23 people to explain why they like to travel.
June 10, 2009
From Shorpy comes this billboard of the man blowing smoke rings in 1943. Times do change and smoking became de-classe and out of fashion. I never thought that would happen. We all smoked as I was growing up. I smoked for many years and quit before my wife had our last child. That was approx. 32 years ago. I am convinced that stopping has improved my health as the years have piled up.
If you have not discovered Shorpy yet, you really should.
Book recommendation. AMERICAN MADE by Nick Taylor. A video book review. Will we come to this, this time around? I don't believe so, but our infrastructure could certainly be put on the to-do list and dropped into the job jar. That a large percentage of the projects created by the WPA still stand sixty years later, and are still being used are a statement of it's usefulness.
June 9, 2009
I am not a beer drinker. I've tried different brands through the years, but none has done a thing for me. That is until recently. The wife and I were dining out at the Outback and I felt like trying once again to find a beer that I can say I like.
Well I think I have found one I truly like. Now this is all based on a one glass of beer test. Not exactly a scientifically in the lab kind of test, but a down the gullet of someone who was pessimistic at best of ever finding a beer that I liked the taste of and/or a beer I would actually recommend to anyone. The winner of the harsh one man panel is what the waiter said was a Belgian beer, with the unlikely name of BLUE MOON. I bought a small glass of the product for obvious reasons. It was presented to me in a fat pilsner glass with a slice of orange attached to the side of the glass. The liquid itself was a medium brown with orange overtones. Mine had very little head to it. It was already poured so maybe it disappeared before it made it to my table.
I took a slug.
I squeezed a little orange into the glass and took another slug.
I liked it. Since I didn't intend to have another, I never do, I nursed it throughout my meal, and each time the thought ran through my head that I actually liked it.
I read about it later on the computer and it said it is a wheat-based brew. Is this a newly discovered base for a beer? I can't answer that. I do know it said it was a Coors product. I know I will try it again whenever I find myself in proximity of a drinking establishment. I don't know what a recommendation from an almost non-drinker might mean, but it is good.
June 7, 2009
June 6, 2009
June 5, 2009
Newser) – The Obamas arrive in Paris tonight, but the president and the first lady have told the Sarkozys that they'll need a little time alone. Barack and Michelle declined a dinner invitation from the French president and wife Carla Bruni, even though they are staying at the American ambassador's residence—right next door to couple's Elysée apartment.
Obama and Sarkozy will meet tomorrow for a D-Day remembrance ceremony on Omaha Beach in Normandy. But as the Times of London points out, Obama grew irritated with Sarkozy during the G20 summit, when the French leader told colleagues he thought the president was inexperienced." That led to an ice-cold Obama telling a French minister, "Please tell Nicolas that I shall do my homework."
Good for Obama. Those French are so full of themselves beginning back with De gaulle. He though he won the second world war with a just a little help from Eisenhower and Montgomery.
June 4, 2009
The library of congress owns millions of photographs taken through the years. This was taken in 1942, in color, a fairly rare process in those days. What strikes me is the testosterone quotient is overflowing. This could have been the first Marlboro man, it certainly tweaks all the masculine buttons. A love of the outdoors, man against nature, companionship of man and horse and/or dog in the open air. This could have been the inspiration of countless westerns/cowboy movies or just down the road a bit, television cowboys. Because he actually was a shepherd, the horse and dog would definitely have been partners in that business.
In today's New York Times there is this article about a man who has prostate cancer and is being treated with a drug that suppresses testosterone. While on this drug he experiences hot flashes and other niceties claimed exclusively by the female world. The article is laced with humor about his trip into a mostly exclusive female world.
June 3, 2009
I went to the doctor this morning and in our conversation I told her I was a follower of the ostrich. That is, in case you don't know, is the stick your head in the sand and don't listen to things you should know. So here I run into this advice by Aldous Huxley: “Facts do not cease to exist
because they are ignored.” Huxley is of course correct. But I can think of a hundred examples why ignoring the truth, when the future cannot be altered is of no value.
June 2, 2009
MY AMERICAN TOWN HAS ONE FOOT IN A CAST AND THE OTHER IS ABOUT TO STEP ON THE BANANA PEEL.
Can a town of 50,000 survive when it's industrial base is pulled out from under it bit by bit? This of course is a rhetorical question with an unknowable answer. The question has become a personal one. The town is mine and the latest loss is a big one and perhaps the final straw. Our town has been selected as one of the final pieces in the GM bankruptcy to have a redundant factory. It's been expected when word started filtering down that thirteen more plants would have to go. But it is no help for those employees affected; for the town, or it's businesses.
The town has survived the loss of: Mansfield Tire and Rubber 1,721 workers in 1978
Ohio Brass 1220 workers in 1990
Westinghouse 3244 workers in 1990
Tappan 1422 workers in 1992
and now GM 1200 workers.
Could it have closed at a worse time? No, Will the town survive this? Yes they will, but what comes out on the other end will not be the same town. Out of necessity many will pull up roots and relocate because of job requirements. Some will relocate because the town itself is aging and because of the gradual loss of tax base is looking its age, and those who can afford to will decide that the grass is greener on down the road. What will also happen to a degree is the theory that a vacuum must by nature be occupied by something, will indeed be filled in by those who could not afford to escape to those greener pastures. As the tax base lowers, the infrastructure will suffer with neglected road repairs, boarded up houses will become more prevalent; house values already decreasing will decrease more. Livability decreases.
What percentage of the population will stay? Who can say, but we know that the problem we already have, and that most smaller towns have alike is that all our best and brightest will leave because we do not now, and will certainly not in the near or far away future have the jobs to offer them.
Who do we blame? No one in particular. The times certainly and who shares in that? The government for sure, The banks, indeed, Going to a world economy, which all economists swear by, but all towns like mine can only begrudge because it has taken our future away from us.
Those of us who remain because of age and/or in truth because we don't have another move in us will remain in a town subtracted of many businesses whose presence and product made life a little more enjoyable for us. Such is the way of 21st century life, so far.
The latest comment from one of my most dedicated readers, could it be because she is my cousin? Sondra who grew up in Mansfield and knows the town we grew up in and loved. She also knows about one of the plants that closed in 1992, Tappans. You will find the article here. Her father, my uncle, was named the general manager of the Tappan plant in Murray Kentucky long before the term, 'rust belt' was coined. She remembers Mansfield in it's very good days when our extended families were still young and anything was possible. We exchange thoughts frequently so you will in all probability meet her again. Here are her unedited thoughts regarding plant closings:
Regarding your article about the closing of the GM plant in Mansfield, I found the information about other plant closures most interesting. Until I read that I had forgotten how much a child of the industry world I was. To best describe this, I remember what my Grandmother Kitt said upon my marriage to Bill, a graduate engineer that was going to work at the Space Center in Florida. "Your man is so skinny, how will he ever work in a factory to make a living?" Of course, it was that wonderful industrial town of Mansfield that allow Grandma and Grandpa to achieve what they came to America to achieve. I am proud of my heritage and know I was taught good values that has sustained me all through life. America needs to build as that is what made America great and what is now dying. God help us all.
June 1, 2009
It seems the older I get and the more I watch the politicians I find there is nothing new under the sun. Prejudice is prejudice, only the words, or codewords change. The wingnuts will just come at an issue from another angle. This cartoon by BORS seems to be right on, on that subject.
Lindsay Graham of South Carolina on Fox News Sunday yesterday asked who was going to stand up for him, a white guy from South Carolina? Now what the hell does that mean? A little more of that coded stuff I think.