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Graham Nash wrote “Teach Your Children” while he was a member of The Hollies, but didn’t record it until 1969, after he had moved on to Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. The song appears on the 1970 CSNY album “Déjà Vu.”

Nash said the inspiration for the song was a 1962 photo by Diane Arbus entitled “Child With Toy Hand Grenade in Central Park.” Noting the boy’s aggressive attitude, Nash said society should be more aware of what children learn from adults about war and violence.

Bonus fact: “Teach Your Children” features Jerry Garcia on the steel guitar.

Teach Your Children

By Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, 1970
Written by Graham Nash

You, who are on the road
Must have a code that you can live by.
And so, become yourself,
Because the past is just a goodbye.

Teach your children well.
Their fathers’ hell did slowly go by.
And feed them on your dreams,
The one they pick, the one you’ll know by.

Don’t you ever ask them “Why?”
If they told you, you would cry.
So just look at them and sigh,
And know they love you.

And you (Can you hear?)
Of tender years (And do you care?)
Can’t know the fears (And can you see?)
That your elders grew by. (We must be free.)
And so, please help (To teach your children.)
Them with your youth. (What you believe in.)
They seek the truth (Make a world.)
Before they can die. (That we can live in.)

And teach your parents well.
Their children’s hell will slowly go by.
And feed them on your dreams,
The one they pick, the one you’ll know by.

Don’t you ever ask them, “Why?”
If they told you, you would cry.
So just look at them and sigh,
And know they love you.

https://rockysmith.files.wordpress.com/2022/04/teach-your-children.mp3

Friends, I am a skeptical guy and proud of it. It pays to be skeptical.

I also have a healthy BS detector. BS detection is an essential ability.

Together, my skepticism and BS detector help me avoid being relieved of money by those looking to profit at my expense, whether illegally or by selling me something I don’t need.

The key in this respect is simple: just remember that no business or institution will offer a product or service unless they will derive an acceptable profit from the transaction. Period.

My mortgage company, for example, constantly reminds me that refinancing my mortgage, or taking out a second mortgage, will solve all my problems and improve my life immeasurably. It will be quick and easy. Give us a call.

Translation: borrow more money from us so we can collect more interest.

Another example is a relatively new entry in the insurance business: car repair insurance, aka mechanical breakdown insurance. It applies to repairs that are not accident-related and thus are not covered by your regular auto insurance. You’re probably familiar with ads for CarShield and others.

The fact is, most people never use the coverage — which is quite limited, not to mention saddled with deductibles. Ergo, repair insurance is a guaranteed money-maker for the providers.

And finally, my favorite: a truly artful scam, Medicare Part C.

Medicare Parts A and B provide basic, legitimate coverage from Uncle Sam. Part C consists of “Medicare Advantage” plans from private insurance companies. The idea was invented back in the 1990s by the Republicans under the second George Bush as a way for private industry to get on the Medicare bandwagon and make money.

In coverage as well as cost, Part C plans vary with the provider. The complexity is intentional. It creates a smokescreen that makes the cost and coverage unclear. Clarity does not serve the interests of the insurance provider.

Think about the barrage of advertising and mass mailings unleashed each year during the Part C enrollment period. The insurance industry would never, ever work so feverishly to sell Part C unless it yielded significant profits.

In reality, very few individuals benefit from buying Part C coverage. Experts say it may — may — benefit people who struggle to pay for real Medicare coverage under Parts A and B. Beyond that, Part C is a cash cow for the insurance companies.

I could go on, but you get the idea.

My advice: remember the key to skepticism and BS detection: no individual or entity will offer a product or service unless they will derive an acceptable profit from the transaction.

Period.

Useless Facts

More “Useless Facts for Inquiring Minds.”

● The Toyota Corporation was founded in 1937 by Japanese inventor Sakichi Toyoda to manufacture automatic looms to weave cloth.

● The smallest bones in the human body are the malleus, incus, and stapes bones located in the middle ear. They carry external sounds to your brain.

● The people of Turkey drink the most tea annually, consuming about seven pounds of tea leaves per person. Ireland is in second place with about five pounds per person.

● A cria (Spanish for baby) is a young llama, alpaca, vicuña, or guanaco, all of which are Latin American relatives of the camel. Llamas and alpacas are domesticated, whereas vicuñas and guanacos are wild, but are protected as endangered species.

● Wayne Allwine, a sound effects specialist for Disney Studios, was the voice of Mickey Mouse for 32 years — from 1977 until his death in 2009. In 1991, he married co-worker Russi Taylor, the voice of Minnie Mouse.

● Sweden has not been involved in a war since 1814.

● English is the native language of 350 million people. English is the second language of two billion people.

● The first know automobile accident occurred in 1891 in Ohio City, Ohio, when John William Lambert lost control of his vehicle and hit a hitching post. Lambert was driving a Lambert, a gasoline-powered, three-wheeled vehicle of his own design. He went on to hold over 600 automotive patents, but the Lambert brand couldn’t keep up with Ford et al and fizzled.

The Questions…

1. What is the world’s largest known living organism?

2. What online service has the most users?

3. The term living room surfaced in the late 1800s. What were living rooms called before then?

4. When sea otters sleep, how do they keep from drifting away from each other?

5. Fireflies (Lampyridae), known for emitting light through the chemical process of bioluminescence, are classified as what type of insect?

The Answers…

1. The largest known organism is a massive network of honey mushroom fungus (Armillaria ostoyae) that occupies about 3.4 square miles in eastern Oregon. It is thought to be 2,400 years old. Locals call it the “humongous fungus.”

2. Facebook, which has an astounding 2.9 billion users. That’s more than the populations of China (1.4 billion) and India (1.3 billion) combined.

3. Mostly, they were called parlors, from the French verb parler (to speak) because that’s where people sat and talked. In the 1500s and 1600s, they sometimes were called drawing roomsshort for withdrawing, in the sense of withdrawing there for privacy.

4. They hold hands.

5. Fireflies are a variety of soft-bodied beetle.

Thoughts du Jour

Business As Usual

My county school board doesn’t have a very good record. Some years ago, it built new schools in East Jackson County, and — oops — West Jackson grew faster. Then the board built a new county high school for $69 million that — oops — required portable classrooms the day it opened.

The old county high school became the “college and career center.” I’m not sure a career center needs a campus the size of a shopping mall, plus multiple acres of abandoned football, baseball, softball, soccer, basketball, and practice facilities, but it has them anyway.

Then there’s another matter that smells to high heaven. The old high school was a handsome two-tone brick structure. Brick — the stuff that lasts forever and is wonderfully low-maintenance. This is the old high school:

But before the building opened last fall as the career center, the school board had the entire school — all of those attractive and perfectly serviceable brown bricks — painted. All gazillion of them. This is the career center today:

The old high school — excuse me, the career center — is big and sprawling. Painting it took the contractor all summer.

I would love to know which government official that painting contractor is related to.

Survivor

In Montana in June 1876, General George Armstrong Custer’s 7th Cavalry was steamrolled in the Battle of the Little Bighorn by warriors of the Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapaho tribes. Five of the regiment’s 12 companies were wiped out. Custer and 273 soldiers died.

Two days after the battle, Comanche, the horse of a slain 7th Cavalry officer, was found in a ditch badly wounded. Comanche was hailed as the sole survivor of the battle, but probably wasn’t. Some 100 cavalry horses are thought to have survived and were claimed by the victors.

Comanche suffered seven bullet wounds, but recovered and became a hero to the 7th Cavalry. The unit commander declared that the horse would live out his life in comfort and “will not be ridden by any person whatsoever, under any circumstances, nor will he be put to any kind of work.”

Comanche lived an easy life at Fort Riley, Kansas, until his death in 1891. For some grotesque reason, his body was stuffed, and, also for some grotesque reason, it remains on display today at the University of Kansas Natural History Museum.

Viral Agent

I avoid zombie movies because the idea of zombies is so trite and silly. People get infected, spazz out, cause chaos, and maybe eat brains. Eventually, an antidote is discovered, or they all get killed, or whatever. So tiresome.

A key concept of most zombie stories is that the victims were exposed to some kind of awful new virus. And it made me wonder if maybe, just maybe, something similar might explain the behavior of today’s Republicans.

Imagine an insidious viral agent that infiltrates the brains of conservatives and causes them to ignore facts, deny science, embrace nutty conspiracy theories, hate black and brown people, admire Nazis, praise dictators, and always vote Republican, thus dooming us to an unending succession of wretched scumbags in public office.

The concept of a medical explanation for right-wing behavior makes sense, except for the part where normal people are immune to the virus. I’m still trying to puzzle that out.

This Just In

AUSTIN, TEXAS — A marble bust purchased at a Goodwill store for $35 turned out to be a 2,000-year-old Roman carving.

Antique dealer Laura Young purchased the bust and thought it might be a Victorian garden decoration. She kept it on display in her home while friends at a London auction house tried to trace it.

After several years of research, they identified the bust as depicting Nero Drusus Germanicus, a Roman soldier and politician. The bust had been on display in a German museum prior to World War II. They think a soldier brought it to the US after the war, either having stolen it or purchased it from a looter.

The bust currently is on display at the San Antonia Museum of Art and next year will be returned to Germany. “He needs to go home,” Young said. “he wasn’t supposed to be here.”

Young had a replica of the bust made on a 3D printer to keep for herself.

PYONGYANG, NORTH KOREA — The official news outlet of North Korea claims that burritos and hamburgers were invented by Kim Jong-il, the father of current Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un.

A North Korean newspaper said Jong-il came up with the idea of “wheat wraps” in 2011, shortly before his death from a heart attack. Some years before that, the newspaper said, Jong-il invented a type of hot sandwich, described as “double bread with meat,” that was the forerunner of the hamburger.

The newspaper described the “wheat wrap” burrito as sort of like a gyro with grated cabbage and carrots — more of a spring roll than a burrito.

Despite North Korea’s claims, the burrito probably originated with vaqueros in northern Mexico in the 1800s. Both Germany and the US say they invented the hamburger, also in the 1800s.

FYI, three generations of Kims have ruled North Korea since it was created after World War II. The first dictator was Kim Il-sung, who ran the country from 1945 until his death in 1994. His son Kim Jong-il took over, died in 2011, and was succeeded by the current wacko Kim Jong-un.

LUBBOCK, TEXAS — When told their luggage was overweight, a couple at Lubbock Airport opened the bag and found their pet chihuahua hiding in a cowboy boot.

The couple was boarding a Southwest flight to Las Vegas when a gate agent told them the bag was five pounds overweight. They had the option of paying a fee or transferring items to their carry-ons. To avoid the fee, they opened the suitcase and discovered their five-pound chihuahua Icky inside.

The gate agent offered to keep Icky until the couple returned from vacation, but they contacted a relative who rushed to the airport and took Icky where she was supposed to be, with the couple’s children and babysitter.

Five years ago, the couple found Icky on a remote Texas road, weak and malnourished. When they took her home, their children said the dog was dirty and “icky,” and the name stuck.

Unfortunate Choice

Fredric Brown (1906-1972) was a master of short-short stories noted for humor and zinger endings. I’ve posted eight — count ‘em, eight — Brown stories on this blog. Oh, this one makes nine.

Brown wrote both mysteries and sci-fi, and he was amazingly prolific. He wrote his first short story in 1938 and, by the end of his career in the mid-1960s, had published several hundred stories, plus a few dozen novels.

I’m not jealous. Just in awe.

———

Experiment

By Fredric Brown
Published in Galaxy Science Fiction, February 1954

“The first time machine, gentlemen,” Professor Johnson proudly informed his two colleagues.

“True, it is a small-scale experimental model. It will operate only on objects weighing less than three pounds, five ounces and for distances into the past and future of twelve minutes or less. But it works.”

The small-scale model looked like a small scale — a postage scale — except for two dials in the part under the platform.

Professor Johnson held up a small metal cube. “Our experimental object,” he said, “is a brass cube weighing one pound, two point three ounces. First, I shall send it five minutes into the future.”

He leaned forward and set one of the dials on the time machine. “Look at your watches,” he said.

They looked at their watches. Professor Johnson placed the cube gently on the machine’s platform. It vanished.

Five minutes later, to the second, it reappeared.

Professor Johnson picked it up. “Now five minutes into the past.” He set the other dial. Holding the cube in his hand he looked at his watch.

“It is six minutes before three o’clock. I shall now activate the mechanism — by placing the cube on the platform — at exactly three o’clock. Therefore, the cube should, at five minutes before three, vanish from my hand and appear on the platform, five minutes before I place it there.”

“How can you place it there, then?” asked one of his colleagues.

“It will, as my hand approaches, vanish from the platform and appear in my hand to be placed there. Three o’clock. Notice, please.”

The cube vanished from his hand.

It appeared on the platform of the time machine.

“See? Five minutes before I shall place it there, it is there!”

His other colleague frowned at the cube. “But,” he said, “what if, now that it has already appeared five minutes before you place it there, you should change your mind about doing so and not place it there at three o’clock? Wouldn’t there be a paradox of some sort involved?”

“An interesting idea,” Professor Johnson said. “I had not thought of it, and it will be interesting to try. Very well, I shall not…”

There was no paradox at all. The cube remained.

But the entire rest of the Universe, professors and all, vanished.

Original illustration from Galaxy Science Fiction by David Stone.

George

When I was a kid, during times when my family was not living overseas, we went to Savannah several times a year to see relatives.

I had no problem with that and always looked forward to those visits. Most of my relatives were, and are, good people. And Savannah is a fun place.

One memorable character from those Savannah trips was George, a black man who delivered the mail in the Gordonston neighborhood. George was old from my perspective, but could have been anywhere from his 40s to his 60s.

He was graying and a bit heavy, and the exertion often got to him. But he was a kindly, cheerful man who knew the neighborhood kids by name, including visiting Smiths.

George looked a lot like Uncle Ben, whose benevolent image adorned packages of Uncle Ben’s Rice for decades.

That benign image, by the way, was based on Frank Brown, the maître d’ at a Chicago restaurant frequented in the 1940s by the founder of Uncle Ben’s Rice. The founder believed — correctly, it seems — that Mr. Brown had a certain je ne sais quoi that would help sales.

The personae of both Uncle Ben and Aunt Jemima were retired from the advertising business in 2020, after the murder of George Floyd. Uncle Ben’s Rice became Ben’s Original Rice, minus that familiar face. The Aunt Jemima brand was renamed Pearl Milling Co., the company’s original name from 1889, and the visage of a smiling Jemima is history.

George the mailman had a regular routine in Gordonston. Scattered around the neighborhood were streetside mailboxes where trucks dropped off the day’s mail. George transferred the mail to a large leather pouch slung over his shoulder, made the deliveries (either into front porch mailboxes or through mail slots in the door), and repeated the process until the job was done for the day.

Later, George and his peers were given rolling carts in place of the pouches. And at some point, he retired. By the time I was a teen, most door-to-door delivery had been replaced by mailboxes at the street and mail trucks.

I can still hear George’s gravelly voice and Geechee accent when he greeted me. “Hey there, Rocky! Y’all back in town for a visit! How’s Lee and your mama and daddy?”

Pix o’ the Day

More favorite photos I’ve taken over the years.