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Posts Tagged ‘Society’

The Questions

1. The logo of which NFL team is a flower?

2. A porter who handles luggage at a railroad station is called a redcap. What is a porter at an airport called?

3. Hg is the symbol for what chemical element?

4. What country is the world’s largest producer of coffee?

5. What and where is the world’s tallest uninterrupted waterfall?

The Answers…

1. The logo of the New Orleans Saints is a fleur-de-lis, a stylized lily associated with the French monarchy. (New Orleans was founded by French colonists in 1718.) Fleur, as you may know, means flower in French, and lis means lily.

2. A skycap.

3. Mercury. The symbol Hg comes from the chemical’s original name, hydragyrum, which means “water-silver” in ancient Greek.

4. Brazil has been number one for 150 years. It produces one-third of the world’s coffee.

5. Angel Falls in Venezuela, which drops 3,212 feet.

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Backsliding

Last week, a prestigious think tank in Sweden issued its annual list of “democracies in decline.” For the first time, the United States is on the list.

Let that sink in.

The think tank, the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), said the U.S. is backsliding as a democracy because it is yielding to “authoritarian tendencies.”

Specifically, the Institute cited the issue of Trump’s lie that the 2020 presidential election was rigged and stolen. That fabrication has been accepted, naturally, by the Republicans — in fact, by an overwhelming majority of them.

IDEA also cited the shocking wave of restrictive state voting laws passed by the same nefarious Republicans.

The Institute did applaud the U.S. for passing a new monthly child tax credit. It said the credit likely will cut the U.S. poverty rate in half and in 2021 will lift four million children out of poverty.

The child tax credit, mind you, was 100 percent courtesy of Biden and the Democrats. As for the Republicans — who voted against the tax credit, and who are the direct cause of our backsliding — I offer this photo in lieu of words.

For this photo, words fail me.

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Being open to data, facts, and science doesn’t make you liberal, it makes you literate. It means you favor data, facts, and evidence over conspiracy theories, manufactured misinformation, and cherry-picked industry spins.

Former Senator Paul H. Douglas (D-IL)

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Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience; this is the ideal life.

Mark Twain

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Few men think, yet all will have opinions.

George Berkeley

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Just because your voice reaches halfway around the world doesn’t mean you are wiser then when it reached only to the end of the bar.

Edward R. Murrow

Douglas

Murrow

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This Just In

ANKARA, TURKEY — A Turkish man joined a party looking for a missing person, not realizing he was the subject of the search.

Beyhan Mutlu, 51, went drinking with a friend in a forest in northwest Turkey. When he did not return home, and his wife learned he had wandered drunk into the forest, she reported him missing.

The next morning, Mutlu came across the search party and volunteered to help. When the searchers began calling his name, he realized he was the missing person.

Mutlu identified himself, but the others didn’t believe him and continued the search. Half an hour later, the party encountered Mutlu’s drinking buddy, and the search was ended.

UNIDENTIFIED CITY, GERMANY — Since June, two men have been trading cryptocurrencies based on choices made by a hamster.

The hamster, Mr. Goxx, has a specially constructed enclosure adjacent to his living quarters. When he runs on a hamster wheel, his paws highlight certain cryptocurrencies.

Also inside the “Goxx Box” are two tunnels, one marked buy and one marked sell. After Mr. Goxx makes his selections and runs through one of the tunnels, his owners send his decisions over a real trading platform.

In its first month, Goxx Capital was down 7.3 percent. But by September, the hamster’s career performance was up 19.4 percent — which is better than the NASDAQ 100, the S&P 500, Bitcoin, and Berkshire Hathaway.

TORRANCE, CALIFORNIA — A lost pet parrot was reunited briefly with his British owner, but ultimately was returned to the family the bird lived with for the four years he was missing.

Nigel, an African gray parrot with a British accent, disappeared from the home of Darren Chick and at some point was purchased by a Torrance family at a yard sale for $400. Nigel, who was called Morgan by the family, learned to speak Spanish from the Guatemalan grandparents.

Morgan flew away again and showed up at the home of a woman in a nearby town, who traced Nigel’s microchip and found the original owner.

The Torrance family saw a newspaper story about Nigel’s return and contacted Mr. Chick. When Chick saw how attached the parrot was to the family, he decided to let Nigel return to being Morgan.

Morgan can whistle the first bars of the theme from the movie The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, and he likes to imitate the beeping sounds made by the garbage truck. He also knows the names of the family’s three dogs and barks like them.

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Not long ago, the Georgia DOT rebuilt a bridge across a creek on Georgia Highway 11 south of Jefferson, my fair city. Traffic was rerouted onto side roads for a few months, which was a pain, but the project finally was completed.

Soon after, a story appeared in the local newspaper about some unpleasantness between the DOT and a man who raises cattle on property near the bridge. The incident, I’m pleased to say, concluded in a most satisfying manner.

This is what went down…

To wrap up the project, DOT graded both banks of the creek, seeded the area, and planted several rows of saplings. The owner of the cattle immediately informed DOT that the trees they planted are poisonous to livestock, and his cattle had to be blocked from grazing — on his own property. He demanded that the trees be removed immediately.

DOT officials at the county level ignored the man, probably on grounds that no stupid farmer could tell them what to do. Whereupon, the man dug up the saplings himself and hired a lawyer.

The lawyer got an injunction that prevented DOT from replanting any trees known to be poisonous to animals, and he took DOT to court.

The court ruled that the man was lawfully protecting his animals, and DOT was blocked from filing any retaliatory charges. The court further ordered DOT to allow certified experts to choose the replacement trees to be planted in the area.

By then, state-level DOT officials had stepped in, and they complied fully. Life along Georgia Highway 11 has returned to normal.

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Coming Attractions

It’s truly fascinating how, in just a few decades, the political center has evaporated, and the country has divided itself into two polar opposite camps.

The left and the right. Liberals and conservatives. Or, to be more specific, those who possess a sense of empathy and compassion, and those who don’t. Those who want to use our resources for the common good, and those who don’t. Those who believe we’re all created equal, and those who don’t.

It’s as if we entered some magic portal and were examined, categorized, and separated. In one corner, the Democrats, who in large part are normal and rational. In the other corner, the Republicans, who are mean, selfish, and wrong-headed.

Although I do consider virtually all Republicans to be deplorable, I don’t see all Democrats as admirable. Democratic politicians tend to be weenies — weak, cautious, and hesitant. But, my God, compared to the conservatives of today, the lefties are angels.

The conservatives have abandoned integrity, honesty, and American democracy. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be claiming that Trump won the 2020 election, or trying to rig elections.

On every issue, conservatives invariably come down on the wrong side.

Hold that thought about villainous Republicans while I turn to another subject.

One popular category of Hollywood movies is historical films — stories based on real people and actual events. Some such films portray events accurately, while others apply a Hollywood flourish. It depends on the filmmakers, the event in question, and the available historical record.

Think of movies such as Gandhi, All the President’s Men, Schindler’s List, Apollo 13, Patton, Glory, and The Alamo.

(Re The Alamo: I’m referring to the version from 2004, not the one with John Wayne. One historian commented that Wayne’s movie didn’t have “a single scene which corresponds to a historically verifiable incident.”)

I bring up this subject to note that, sooner or later, Hollywood will begin to make movies about our time.

Films will be made depicting Donald Trump and the MAGA crowd. The Republican voter suppression tactics. The stacking of the federal courts by the GOP. The politicization of the Supreme Court by the right wing.

These movies are inevitable, people.

It’s true that a few documentaries already have been made. In 2020, Frontline took a look at the records of Biden and Trump for a PBS special. But those aren’t full-blown Hollywood historical movies.

Someday, films will document and dramatize Trump’s life as a rich, insufferable New York brat. They will follow him through his nightmare of a presidency, the 700,000+ COVID deaths, and the storming of the Capitol by white supremacist goons. The films will end with however the sorry saga of Donald Trump ultimately ends.

Some movies, I expect, will focus on Trump’s presidency, his collusion with the Russians, and his criminal mishandling of the COVID pandemic. Featured will be the MAGA morons, the anti-mask morons, the anti-vax morons, and nutjob groups such as QAnon, the Proud Boys, etc.

Plenty of screen time will go to Republican politicians who either stood with Trump or said nothing. Nor will Hollywood be able to resist bringing up Trump’s icy relationship with Melania.

A movie of two will reenact the assault of the Capitol in great detail. (Doing so won’t be difficult. Most of what happened is thoroughly documented.) The story will depict the role of Trump and many Republican politicians in planning the attack, and it will follow the actions of rioters, the police, and members of Congress.

Obligatory scenes: surging crowds of insurrectionists screaming and fighting police; members of Congress cowering inside the building; the demise of domestic terrorist Ashli Babbitt.

Trump will be presented, accurately, as an Adolph Hitler type demagogue. His followers and enablers will be likened to the Nazis of Germany in the 1930s and 40s.

One interesting feature will be the casting of actors to portray Trump, Pence, McConnell, Cruz, Bannon, etc.

How long before Hollywood starts making these movies is hard to predict. But you can be sure that not a single film will portray any conservative in a positive light.

That would be fiction.

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Tune o’ the Day

The fictional astronaut Major Tom was introduced in 1969 in the David Bowie song “Space Oddity,” which Bowie said he wrote after watching the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey” while stoned. Bowie also alluded to Major Tom in three other songs.

In 1982, German singer Peter Schilling continued Tom’s story in the song “Major Tom (Völlig Losgelöst)“. Translation: Major Tom (Coming Home). Schilling’s song, in which Major Tom decides that space is his home and breaks off contact with Ground Control, was released in English in 1983.

In 2009, the synthpop band “Shiny Toy Guns” covered the Schilling song for a TV commercial promoting the Lincoln MKZ. It turned out good enough to release as a single — and a pretty good one, at that.

Major Tom (Coming Home)

By Shiny Toy Guns, 2009
Written by Peter Schilling

Standing there alone, the ship is waiting.
All systems are go. Are you sure?
Control is not convinced,
But the computer has the evidence.
No need to abort.
The countdown starts.

Watching in a trance, the crew is certain.
Nothing left to chance. All is working.
Trying to relax up in the capsule.
“Send me up a drink,” jokes Major Tom.
The count goes on.

Four, three, two, one — Earth below us,
Drifting, falling, floating weightless,
Calling, calling home.

Second stage is cut. We’re now in orbit.
Stabilizers up, running perfect.
Starting to collect requested data.
“What will it affect, when all is done?”
Thinks Major Tom.

Back at ground control, there is a problem.
“Go to rockets full” — not responding.
“Hello Major Tom, are you receiving?
Turn the thrusters on. We’re standing by.”
There’s no reply.

Four, three, two, one — Earth below us,
Drifting, falling, floating weightless,
Calling, calling home.

Across the stratosphere, a final message:
“Give my wife my love.”
Then nothing more.

Far beneath the ship, the world is mourning.
They don’t realize that he’s alive.
No one understands, but Major Tom sees.
Now the light commands. “This is my home.

I’m coming home.”

Earth below us, drifting, falling,
Floating weightless, calling home.

Earth below us, drifting, falling,
Floating weightless, calling home.

Earth below us, drifting, falling,
Floating weightless, calling, calling home.

Home.
Home.
Home.
Home.
Home.
Home.

https://rockysmith.files.wordpress.com/2021/10/major-tom.mp3

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Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.

Gautama Buddha

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A friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you.

Elbert Hubbard

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I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all, I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.

Agatha Christie

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It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.

Herman Melville

Buddha

Melville

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Sylvester Graham

I’ll bet you didn’t know that the graham cracker is named for a crusading American preacher, teetotaler, and vegetarian who neither manufactured the crackers nor profited from them. The story is interesting and rather unexpected.

He was Sylvester Graham, born in Connecticut in 1794, the 17th child of a 70-year-old minister and a mother with serious mental issues — which became overwhelming when the minister died.

Accordingly, young Sylvester was raised by a succession of relatives. In one case, the relative ran a tavern where Sylvester was put to work. Seeing alcohol use up close led him to abstain from using, and to vehemently oppose, booze.

In his late 20s, having worked as a farm hand and a teacher, Graham enrolled at Amherst Academy to become a minister. He was expelled when classmates claimed he “improperly approached a woman.”

Humiliated and devastated, Graham had what was described as a nervous breakdown. He moved to Rhode Island and recovered with the help of a woman he later married. In 1828, he began studying theology privately and found work as an itinerant (traveling) Presbyterian minister.

During this period, Graham became involved in both the temperance movement and vegetarianism. He concluded that eating meat was as bad as drinking alcohol for the body and soul and as detrimental to families and society.

Like most in the temperance movement, Graham believed that sex, physical pleasure, or anything that triggered lust should be avoided. He urged people to eat only plants (as had Adam and Eve), chill out, drink pure water, and avoid impure thoughts. Sex more than once a month, he said, was excessive.

To maintain health and prevent disease, he promoted an austere lifestyle, including sleeping on a hard bed, taking cold baths, and exercising vigorously. The Graham Diet consisted of bland, simple foods — whole grains, fruits, and vegetables — eaten in small quantities twice a day. Meat, alcohol, tobacco, and spices, even black pepper, were forbidden.

Because of fears related to a cholera epidemic sweeping the world at the time, his message resonated with the public, and his notoriety spread.

Graham was troubled by the common practice of using chemical additives in food, especially bread, to hide spoilage odors. He urged people to make their own bread at home from plain, whole-wheat flour, coarsely-ground and unsifted, that contained no spices of other additives.

In 1837, he published Treatise on Bread and Bread-Making and began lecturing in Boston and New York City. In the foreword to the book, he wrote:

Thousands in civic life will, for years, and perhaps for as long as they live, eat the most miserable trash that can be imagined, in the form of bread, and never seem to think that they can possibly have anything better, not even that it is an evil to eat such vile stuff as they do.

I have thought, therefore, that I could hardly do society a better service, than to publish the following treatise on a subject, which, whether people are aware of it or not, is, in reality, of very great importance too the health and comfort of everyone.

Grahamism became a nationwide movement. Soon, various companies were marketing graham flour, graham bread, and graham crackers.

Alas, in the end, Graham violated his own teachings and paid the price.

In 1851, at age 57, he became ill at his home in Massachusetts. His doctor diagnosed the problem as weak blood circulation. To stimulate it, he convinced Graham to eat meat, drink alcohol, and submit to a series of opium enemas.

Graham submitted to the new regimen and quickly died.

Outraged that one of their own had fallen off the wagon so dramatically, vegetarians and members of the temperance movement nationwide denounced and disowned Graham. (Apparently, no one thought of renaming the cracker.)

Sylvester Graham believed that his place in history was secure, and he once predicted that, after his death, his home in Northampton, Massachusetts, would become a national shrine.

That didn’t happen. The house is occupied today by Sylvester’s Restaurant, which is, indeed, named for Graham, but has a decidedly un-Graham-like menu.

Sylvester’s offers a range of rich, lavish homemade breads, awash in spices, that take pains to be the opposite of bland.

It also serves a salad topped with a bacon cheddar cheeseburger patty, a char-grilled hamburger covered with muenster cheese, and tacos.

Sylvester Graham (1794-1851)

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This Just In

NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK — A small floral bowl purchased for $35 at a yard sale was identified as a Chinese “lotus bowl” from the early 1400s and sold at auction for $721,800.

The person who hit the jackpot found the porcelain bowl at a Connecticut yard sale last year and sent photos to various experts to determine if it had value.

Officials at Sotheby’s auction division said the bowl dates back to the Ming Dynasty and is only the seventh located to date.

RATHDRUM, IDAHO — A border collie that went missing after being ejected from the family car in an auto crash later was found herding sheep at a nearby farm.

For hours after the collision, the Oswald family searched unsuccessfully for their border collie Tilly. Finally, they asked the sheriff’s office for help and posted an alert on social media.

Several days later, members of the Potter family noticed that an extra dog was herding sheep on their farm, which is located about a mile from the site of the car accident. They turned the dog over to the sheriff’s office, and Tilly was reunited with his family.

Tilly’s owner, who said the dog will “herd anything,” believed Tilly was just taking advantage of an opportunity.

NORTH RIDGEVILLE, OHIO — A North Ridgeville police officer removed a raccoon from a local home after the animal ransacked the kitchen and fell asleep in the dishwasher.

Patrolman John Metzo responded when the residents returned home to find the damage and the sleeping raccoon, which apparently entered the house through a bathroom window. The raccoon was removed without injury and released.

Metzo is known as the department’s “absurd animal call officer” after previously encounters with a cow and a kangaroo.

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