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Temporal ramblings (Updated)
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Published Saturday, November 23, 2013 @ 6:18 PM EST
Nov 23 2013

It seems everyone who remembers November 22, 1963 spent at least a part of yesterday rummaging through the recesses of their memories. So I was in the appropriate frame of mind when Homestead Councilman and fellow Daily Messenger alumni Lloyd Cunningham sent me this old advertisement:

From 1959 through 1967, my father and I lived with his mother and stepfather on the third floor of this former hotel, at the corner of East Eighth Avenue and McClure Street.

The picture's undated, but I'm guessing it's circa 1910. Note the reference in the ad to P. & A. Telephone? According to Poor's Manual of Public Utilities, the Pittsburgh and Allegheny Telephone Company bought the Homestead Telephone Company in 1903, so it's sometime between that date and 1914, when P. & A. went into receivership. Allegheny County's property assessment website, usually a good source of information, had no building details and an incorrect street address- 344 instead of 342. [While the property dates to the early 1900s, Lloyd reports the photo was taken in 1942, when it was called the Liberty Hotel.]

Here's the Google Maps photo of the property from this past August:

Directly opposite was the Mellon Bank managed by Mike Solomon, and the Gulf gasoline station owned by Jack Scandrol and George New, Katilius Furniture was on the Munhall side. Capitol Cleaners was on the other corner.

We had seven rooms and one bath. The structures on the roof and the second floor porch/deck shown in the old photo were already gone when we lived there. There was a rickety fire escape outside the bathroom window. My grandmother kept old rugs there and some potted plants, and it was the shortcut to get to the garbage cans in the alley. The second floor was occupied by a dentist office, a steelworker who rented just one room, and a woman who rented the rest of the floor. (She owned and ran Juanita's Restaurant, at the corner of McClure Street and Hazel Way, the alley between Eighth and Ninth Avenues.)

Note the two small extrusions casting shadows on the front of the building? They supported a large sign for the clothing store once located on the ground floor: "Solomons," with the name spelled vertically in foot-high letters. I remember it vividly because I could see it from my bedroom (the window on the top right of the building). I also remember it because during a game of laundry catch with my Uncle Doyle, he missed, and a pair of my grandfather's dirty boxer shorts ended up hanging from the sign. I don't recall how they were removed, but I do remember my grandmother wouldn't speak to me for two days. It's more than fifty years ago, and I remember Grandma's silent treatment and how she forgave me and made me promise I'd never hurt her again by embarrassing her with my behavior. (My family never believed in spanking, but elevated guilt to an art form.)

Ownership of the building changed hands, and a discount shoe store opened on the ground floor. Eventually, the owner decided to convert the building into one-room cubbyholes, and we moved to a second floor apartment at 810 Ann Street, above Jones & McClure Realty at the corner of East Ninth Avenue and Ann Street, directly across from the Homestead United Presbyterian Church. I lived there until June, 1973, when I got married.

Here's an aerial map of a portion of Homestead and Munhall. On November 22, 1963, I was in fourth grade, and nine years old. It's interesting to note where a nine year old could wander unsupervised, provided he had a destination (Grandma checked) and the street lights hadn't gone on yet.

Ranging Habits of a Nine Year Old Boy
(circa 1963)

  1. Home (342 East Eighth Avenue)
  2. Homestead Elementary School (12th Avenue and Glenn Street)
  3. J & I Dairy, 13th Avenue & McClure Street (source of Superman comic books)
  4. Carnegie Library of Homestead (510 East 10th Avenue, Munhall)
  5. Ninth Avenue Playground/Homestead Borough Building
  6. Ray Roland's house (East 12th Avenue near McClure Street)
  7. Margie's Dairy Store (East 12th Avenue and Ann Street)
  8. Homestead United Presbyterian Church (908 Ann Street)
  9. "You are not allowed to cross West Street. I don't care if it has traffic lights, walk signs, or the Angel Gabriel. It's not safe."

Categories: History, KGB, KGB Family


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The Dream
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Published Wednesday, August 28, 2013 @ 5:57 AM EDT
Aug 28 2013

As long as there's a man alive on the face of the earth, this day will always be remembered the world over.
-Dick Gregory

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(YouTube video: NBC's "wrap-up" of the march on Washington.)

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(YouTube video: Peter, Paul and Mary perform prior to Dr. King's speech..)

On August 28, 1963, I was a few weeks short of nine years old and spending most of my time at the Ninth Avenue Playground across from the Homestead Police Station. It was the Wednesday before Labor Day, the end of summer vacation and the beginning of the fourth grade. I was on my way back out to the playground when my grandmother stopped me. She called me into the living room and told me to sit down and watch the television. Lots of people were in Washington, DC talking about something.

As a nine year old desperately trying to wring enjoyment out of the last week of his summer vacation, the last thing I wanted to do was watch a bunch of adults I didn't know give boring speeches about things that didn't matter to me. But She Who Must Be Obeyed wouldn't take no for an answer; she wasn't even swayed by the knowledge that the reason for my urgent trip to the playground was to retrieve a pot holder I had made for her before the lunch break.

She had been originally attracted to the newscast when she heard Mahalia Jackson singing. My grandmother claimed to be a Baptist (although I'd never seen her in a church in my life), and loved to listen to black gospel singers. I remember her sitting on her chair with her soiled apron, clutching a dishcloth and watching the screen intently.

You listen to this," she told me. "This is important."

I plopped down on the floor and watched as a black guy I didn't recognize approached the microphone. He was standing in front of the Lincoln Memorial, and there were more people there than I had ever seen in my life.

Then he spoke.

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I am happy to join with you today, in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity.

But one hundred years later, we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize an appalling condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our Republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check- a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God's children. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment and to underestimate the determination of the Negro. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose governor's lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith with which I return to the South. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous peaks of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and every molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

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Even as a nine year old, I knew I had witnessed something special. Years later, it occurred to me that the first political speech to which I had ever paid attention turned out to be what most agree was the finest example of public oratory delivered in the 20th century. In fifty years, I've never heard anything that remotely approaches its perfect composition and delivery.

I looked over my shoulder and saw something that really disturbed me... my grandmother was crying.

"What's wrong?" I asked.

The unschooled old woman, born in the hills of West Virginia, shook her head. "Nothing, Kevie," she said. "You just remember what that man just said. You do what that man said, and everything will be all right."

It's been 50 years, and things still aren't "all right."

Perhaps my grandchildren will finally realize the dreams proposed on that hot August day.

America's democracy is still unfinished. The effort to create a more perfect union is a never ending one.

We must remember that. Thankfully, many do. And their efforts, like the situations they strive to correct, will never end.


Categories: History, Martin Luther King, Jr., Video, YouTube


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An impressive exit
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Published Wednesday, April 17, 2013 @ 2:42 AM EDT
Apr 17 2013

Benjamin Franklin died in his home in Philadelphia on April 17, 1790. He was 84.

His funeral took place four days later, and was unprecedented.

Richard Saunders of the Poor Richard's Almanac blog wrote:

Like his life, Ben Franklin's funeral was extraordinary. Held in his adoptive hometown, Philadelphia, it was more like a parade. That's because he was not only the most famous citizen of Philadelphia- at the time, the largest city in America- but also the most famous man in the world. The citizens- 20,000 of them- poured into the streets to accompany his coffin to its resting place, Christ Church burial ground. Today, when hundreds of thousands gather to watch a football game or rock concert, 20,000 may not seem like much of a crowd. But back in 1790, the entire population of Philadelphia was only 28,500. Imagine more than two-thirds of the population of, say, modern New York City, London, or Mumbai taking to the streets for somebody's funeral, and you'll get an idea of what Dr. Franklin's funeral procession must have been like.

The sheer size of the crowd wasn't even the most amazing thing about Ben Franklin's funeral. The procession itself was like a microcosm of old Ben's entire life and achievements. It was led by the assembled clergy of Philadelphia, regardless of denomination, to honor the man who had made freedom to worship as one pleased a cornerstone of the new Republic and had done so much to raise funds for the building of the city's houses of worship. This may have been the first ecumenical gathering ever. There was even a rabbi- and this was back in 1790, in the same century that gave us the Salem witch trials!

Prominent Philadelphia dignitaries, including the mayor and the astronomer David Rittenhouse, carried the coffin. Behind it marched the city's printers (Franklin considered himself first and foremost a printer), then the philosophers (Ben had cofounded the American Philosophical Society), then the physicians of Philadelphia (Dr. Franklin was also a founder of the first medical school in America). The Society of the Cincinnati, an elite society of officers of the American Revolution whose members included George Washington, came next in the procession. From printer's apprentices to the most elite and exclusive society in America, from physicians to philosophers, from priests to politicians, Benjamin Franklin's funeral procession summed up the true work of his life, which was to bring people from all walks of life together in friendship, to their mutal benefit and betterment.

At heart, Benjamin Franklin was a plain man. So it's fitting that his tombstone, rather than some towering monument of curlicues and statuary, is a plain slab that simply reads "Benjamin and Deborah Franklin 1790." You can see his grave for yourself, as I have, in the churchyard at the corner of 5th and Arch Streets in Philadelphia. But the country and the world he made better places were not through showing their grief at his passing. At James Madison's suggestion, the House of Representatives wore mourning for a month. The French National Assembly also wore mourning to honor the man the French loved perhaps even more than his fellow Americans did. (As Count Mirabeau so ably summed it up, "He was able to restrain thunderbolts and tyrants.")

(Click here for the full article.)

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People will accept your idea much more readily if you tell them Benjamin Franklin said it first.
-David H. Comins

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Quotes by Benjamin Franklin:

A false friend and a shadow attend only when the sun shines.

A great empire, like a great cake, is most easily diminished at the edges.

A learned blockhead is a greater blockhead than an ignorant one.

A little neglect may breed mischief: for want of a nail the shoe was lost, for want of a shoe the horse was lost, for want of a horse the rider was lost.

A man compounded of law and gospel is able to cheat a whole country with his religion and then destroy them under color of law.

A Traveller should have a hog's nose, deer's legs, and an ass's back.

An egg today is better than a hen tomorrow.

An empty bag cannot stand upright.

Anger is never without a reason, but seldom a good one.

Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain, and most fools do.

Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man.

Beauty and folly are old companions.

Beware of the young doctor and the old barber.

Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he will never be disappointed.

Creditors have better memories than debtors.

Distrust and caution are the parents of security.

Don't judge a man's wealth-or his piety-by his appearance on Sunday.

Even peace may be purchased at too high a price.

Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other.

Fatigue is the best pillow.

Genius without education is like silver in the mine.

Glass, China, and Reputation, are easily crack'd, and never well mended.

God heals, the doctor takes the fee.

Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.

Half a truth is often a great lie.

He is a fool that cannot conceal his wisdom.

He that cannot obey, cannot command.

He that displays too often his wife and his wallet is in danger of having both of them borrowed.

He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.

He that is of the opinion money will do everything may well be suspected of doing everything for money.

He that speaks ill of the mare will buy her.

He who waits upon Fortune is never sure of Dinner.

He's a fool that makes his doctor his heir.

Hunger never saw bad bread.

I haven't failed. I've found 10,000 ways that don't work.

If a man empties his purse into his head, no one can take it away from him. An investment of knowledge always pays the best interest.

If Jack's in love, he's no judge of Jill's beauty.

If men are so wicked with religion, what would they be without it?

If you can't pay for a thing, don't buy it. If you can't get paid for it, don't sell it.

If you would persuade, you must appeal to interest rather than intellect.

In rivers and bad governments, the lightest things swim at the top.

Industry need not wish, as Poor Richard says, and He that lives upon hope will die fasting. There are no Gains, without Pains.

It is the eyes of other people that ruin us. If all but myself were blind, I should want neither a fine house nor fine furniture.

Laws too gentle are seldom obeyed; too severe, seldom executed.

Life's tragedy is that we get old too soon and wise too late.

Lighthouses are more helpful than churches.

Many foxes grow gray, but few grow good.

Many have quarreled about religion that never practiced it.

Many men die at twenty-five and aren't buried until they are seventy-five.

Most fools think they are only ignorant.

Necessity knows no law; I know some attorneys of the same.

Necessity never made a good bargin.

One good husband is worth two good wives; for the scarcer things are, the more they are valued.

One Today is worth two Tomorrows.

Our Constitution is in actual operation; everything appears to promise that it will last; but nothing in this world is certain but death and taxes.

Praise to the undeserving is severe satire.

Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.

The absent are never without fault. Nor the present without excuse.

The best is the cheapest.

The cat in gloves catches no mice.

The greatest monarch on the proudest throne, is oblig'd to sit upon his own arse.

The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason.

There are no ugly loves, nor handsome prisons.

There are three great friends: an old wife, an old dog and ready money.

There is much difference between imitating a good man and counterfeiting him.

There is no kind of dishonesty into which otherwise good people more easily and frequently fall than that of defrauding the government.

There is nothing so absurd as knowledge spun too fine.

There never was a good war or a bad peace.

They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty or safety.

Think about these things: Whence you came, where you are going, and to whom you must account.

Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead.

To be proud of knowledge is to be blind with light.

Too many parents make life hard for their children by trying, too zealously, to make it easy for them.

Well done is better than well said.

What maintains one vice would bring up two children.

Whatever is begun in anger ends in shame.

When the well's dry, we know the worth of water.

Where liberty is, there is my country.

Where there's marriage without love, there will be love without marriage.

Who is wise? He that learns from everyone. Who is powerful? He that governs his passions. Who is rich? He that is content. Who is that? Nobody.

Wise men don't need advice. Fools won't take it.

Write injuries in dust, benefits in marble.

You cannot strengthen one by weakening another; and you cannot add to the stature of a dwarf by cutting off the leg of a giant.

You may delay, but Time will not.


Categories: Benjamin Franklin, History, Quotes of the day


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Historically speaking
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Published Wednesday, March 20, 2013 @ 10:45 AM EDT
Mar 20 2013

From Poor QT’s Almanack:
On this day in history 98 years ago The Foundation of the General Theory of Relativity was published, followed 88 years later to the day by the U.S. land invasion of Iraq, and it is left to the reader to consider which one wasn’t come up with by an Einstein.
-Zay N. Smith, "QT"


Categories: Albert Einstein, History, Zay N. Smith - Quick Takes


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The Blizzard of 93...
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Published Tuesday, March 12, 2013 @ 5:14 AM EDT
Mar 12 2013

...was 20 years ago today. Here's my then 15 year old daughter Sara digging out the front walk. The snow was heavier in the back of the house, almost up to her waist.


Categories: History, KGB Family


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Historically speaking...
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Published Monday, March 04, 2013 @ 6:22 AM EST
Mar 04 2013

All of you, I am sure, have heard many cries about Government interference with business and about “creeping socialism.” I should like to remind the gentlemen who make these complaints that if events had been allowed to continue as they were going prior to March 4, 1933, most of them would have no businesses left for the Government or for anyone else to interfere with- and almost surely we would have socialism in this country, real socialism.
-Harry S. Truman (in 1950)
(FDR assumed the Presidency for the first time 80 years ago today.)


Categories: FDR, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, History, Politics, Quotes of the day


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Meet the New Year, same as the old year...
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Published Tuesday, January 01, 2013 @ 3:01 AM EST
Jan 01 2013

KGB Report welcomes you to 2013: May this arbitrary, transient point in your solipsistic sense of the space-time continuum delineate the initiation of a series of random events which trend in a manner which you perceive to be favorable.


Categories: Barack Obama, Cartoons, Elections, History, Holidays, Mass shootings, New Years, Photo of the day, Politics, Second Amendment, The Big Bang Theory, U.S. Constitution, WTF?


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Seven score and nine years ago...
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Published Monday, November 19, 2012 @ 8:38 AM EST
Nov 19 2012

...on the afternoon of Thursday, November 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln delivered the "Gettysburg Address" at the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery.

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Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

---

It wasn't by accident that the Gettysburg address was so short. The laws of prose writing are as immutable as those of flight, of mathematics, of physics.
-Ernest Hemingway


Categories: Abraham Lincoln, Ernest Hemingway, History


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You skipped over the good part
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Published Friday, November 16, 2012 @ 2:09 AM EST
Nov 16 2012

There are really only two small sections of the Unites States Constitution that I've memorized. There's the last part of Article VI:

"...no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public trust under the United States."

The emphasis is mine, and identifies the only place in the entire document where the word "ever" appears. This is handy when dealing with those who refuse to acknowledge the founders' intent to keep religion and government separate. I mean, what part of "ever" don't you understand?

And I also know the Preamble.

Boy, do I know the Preamble.

I recited it for a Veterans Day program in Homestead's Frick Park in 1962. I remember it was cold, and I was wearing my Cub Scout uniform. And I didn't make any mistakes, because I had been studying it, living with it, for an entire month.

I learned the Preamble from Margaret McGeever, the principal of my elementary school. And when Margaret McGeever taught you something, you not only memorized it, mastered it, and could recite it on command, you assimilated it into your very DNA structure. It left a virtual, indelible mark on your psyche, not unlike the actual physical hand print of hers that I still have on my left shoulder, a result of The Bell Telephone Movie Incident In The Auditorium.

Miss McGeever not only principaled, she taught drama. She emphasized that the Preamble was not a jumble of words to be hurriedly recited in a dull monotone. It had to be read correctly, with a combination of zeal, reverence and perfect enunciation. "This is the very foundation of who we are," she rumbled in her high-pitched yet gravelly voice. "Just fifty-two words that define who we are."

And I learned them. Really learned them. I spent a half hour every day finding the words in the huge dictionary in her office and transferring their definitions to sheets of blue-ruled white bond paper, the good stuff we used when taking our penmanship tests.

It took me more than a week. She looked through the sheets. She stacked them, placed her folded hands on the neat pile, then gazed at me over the top of her glasses.

I froze. It was not the look of satisfaction I had expected.

Her brow was furrowed. Actually, it was always furrowed; the woman had the forehead of a Shar Pei. But the creases were even deeper, and her voice was sharp.

"Mister Barkes," she intoned. "Your work is not acceptable. You have forgotten one very important word: Preamble. You've managed to omit the title of the work."

I looked at the copy of the Constitution I held in my pudgy, shaking hands. I didn't see the word "preamble" anywhere.

"You won't see the word 'preamble' anywhere," Miss McGeever said, which was simultaneously comforting and terrifying. "I don't see your name written anywhere on your body, but I know who are, and if I were to write about you, I would certainly put your name at the beginning."

"Preamble," she said. "An introduction. From the Latin 'pre', meaning 'before', and 'ambulare', to walk. Literally, to walk before, or to lead. 'Ambulare' is interesting. So many English words are derived from Latin. What English words come from 'ambulare'?"

"Ambulance?" I asked. She nodded. "Amble?" She nodded again.

I was blank. "Do you know what they call baby strollers in England?,"

"Prams?" I replied. "Right. Pram is English slang for perambulator. 'Per' from the Latin through or for, and 'ambulator' from..."

"Ambulare!" This was fun.

Miss McGeever spent the next half hour listing Latin antecedents ("ante-", before; "cedere", to go) for English words. I was sorry when the end of day bell sounded.

"I'll tell Miss Sullivan she has a prospective Latin student," she said, smiling. Miss Sullivan taught first year Latin in ninth grade at the junior high school.

Then the smile disappeared. The stack of Preamble words reappeared. "Review them. We'll have a verbal quiz on Monday."

Wait. Where was I?

Wow. I hate when I have one of those Billy Pilgrim unstuck in time moments.

Right. The Constitution.

There are a lot of people who say the Constitution has but one purpose: to restrict the federal government and limit its power. Anything not explicitly covered within its original 4,543 words and subsequent amendments should not even be considered.

I think they're missing the big picture. Miss McGeever explained it quite well. I remember her florid cursive writing on the blackboard:

Who are "We"? The people of the United States of America.

What do we want? We want to:

1. Form a more perfect Union. (The Articles of Confederation just weren't working.)

2. Establish justice.

3. Insure domestic tranquility.

4. Provide for the common defense.

6. Promote the general Welfare.

7. Secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity. (We're serious about this.)

How are we going to do this?

We do ordain (from the Latin ordinare, to arrange or order) and establish (from the Latin stabilire, to make stable) this Constitution (from the Latin constituo, to confirm, arrange, decide) of the United (L. unus, one, a union) States (L. status, fixed, set) of America.(Mod.L. Americanus, after Amerigo Vespucci).

Pretty straightforward.

Sometimes I think this guy must have been one of Miss McGeever's students. And after this past election, I know how he feels:


Categories: History, KGB Opinion, Observations, Politics, Star Trek, U.S. Constitution, Video, William Shatner, YouTube


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Happy anniv&@<@! NO CONNECTION
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Published Monday, October 29, 2012 @ 12:06 AM EDT
Oct 29 2012

The first message on the ARPANET (the predecessor of the modern Internet) crashed the system.

Sent at 10:30 pm local time on October 29, 1969 by UCLA student programmer Charley Kline, the message text was the word "login." After transmitting the letters "l" and "o," the system then failed. So, the first message over the ARPANET was "lo," and the result was a failed remote login. (Sort of like if Samuel Morse's first telegraph message, "What hath God wrought" had come across as "Wha".)

About an hour later, the computer at UCLA successfully connected and logged in to a computer at Stanford Research Institute. A permanent link between the systems was achieved about a month later.


Categories: History, Internet


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Understanding the Electoral College
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Published Sunday, October 21, 2012 @ 2:41 PM EDT
Oct 21 2012

(Mo Rocca on CBS' Sunday Morning, explaining how the Electoral College works, and a way to fix it without amending the U.S. Constitution.)


Categories: CBS Sunday Morning, Elections, History, Mo Rocca, Video


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Observation of the day
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Published Wednesday, October 17, 2012 @ 9:27 AM EDT
Oct 17 2012

On this day in history 79 years ago Albert Einstein arrived in the United States, and why we keep allowing all these so-called immigrants to traipse into this country, QT will never know.
-Quick Takes, Zay N. Smith


Categories: History, Observations, Zay N. Smith - Quick Takes


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Déjà vu all over again...
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Published Saturday, October 13, 2012 @ 8:44 AM EDT
Oct 13 2012

Ladies and gentlemen:

From force of long habit I almost said, "My fellow delegates."

Tonight you and I join forces for the 1936 campaign.

We enter it with confidence. Never was there greater need for fidelity to the underlying conception of Americanism than there is today. And once again it is given to our party to carry the message of that Americanism to the people.

The task on our part is twofold: First, as simple patriotism requires, to separate the false from the real issues; and, secondly, with facts and without rancor, to clarify the real problems for the American public.

There will be- there are- many false issues. In that respect, this will be no different from other campaigns. Partisans, not willing to face realities, will drag out red herrings as they have always done- to divert attention from the trail of their own weaknesses.

This practice is as old as our democracy. Avoiding the facts- fearful of the truth- a malicious opposition charged that George Washington planned to make himself king under a British form of government; that Thomas Jefferson planned to set up a guillotine under a French Revolutionary form of government; that Andrew Jackson soaked the rich of the Eastern seaboard and planned to surrender American democracy to the dictatorship of a frontier mob. They called Abraham Lincoln a Roman Emperor; Theodore Roosevelt a Destroyer; Woodrow Wilson a self- constituted Messiah.

In this campaign another herring turns up. In former years it has been British and French- and a variety of other things. This year it is Russian. Desperate in mood, angry at failure, cunning in purpose, individuals and groups are seeking to make Communism an issue in an election where Communism is not a controversy between the two major parties.

Here and now, once and for all, let us bury that red herring, and destroy that false issue. You are familiar with my background; you know my heritage; and you are familiar, especially in the State of New York, with my public service extending back over a quarter of a century. For nearly four years I have been President of the United States. A long record has been written. In that record, both in this State and in the national capital, you will find a simple, clear and consistent adherence not only to the letter, but to the spirit of the American form of government.

To that record, my future and the future of my Administration will conform. I have not sought, I do not seek, I repudiate the support of any advocate of Communism or of any other alien "ism" which would by fair means or foul change our American democracy.

That is my position. It always has been my position. It always will be my position.

There is no difference between the major parties as to what they think about Communism. But there is a very great difference between the two parties in what they do about Communism.

I must tell you why. Communism is a manifestation of the social unrest which always comes with widespread economic maladjustment. We in the Democratic party have not been content merely to denounce this menace. We have been realistic enough to face it. We have been intelligent enough to do something about it. And the world has seen the results of what we have done.

In the spring of 1933 we faced a crisis which was the ugly fruit of twelve years of neglect of the causes of economic and social unrest. It was a crisis made to order for all those who would overthrow our form of government. Do I need to recall to you the fear of those days- the reports of those who piled supplies in their basements, who laid plans to get their fortunes across the border, who got themselves hideaways in the country against the impending upheaval? Do I need to recall the law-abiding heads of peaceful families, who began to wonder, as they saw their children starve, how they would get the bread they saw in the bakery window? Do I need to recall the homeless boys who were traveling in bands through the countryside seeking work, seeking food - desperate because they could find neither? Do I need to recall the farmers who banded together with pitchforks to keep the sheriff from selling the farm home under foreclosure? Do I need to recall the powerful leaders of industry and banking who came to me in Washington in those early days of 1933 pleading to be saved?

Most people in the United States remember today the fact that starvation was averted, that homes and farms were saved, that banks were reopened, that crop prices rose, that industry revived, and that the dangerous forces subversive of our form of government were turned aside.

A few people- a few only- unwilling to remember, seem to have forgotten those days.

In the summer of 1933, a nice old gentleman wearing a silk hat fell off the end of a pier. He was unable to swim. A friend ran down the pier, dived overboard and pulled him out; but the silk hat floated off with the tide. After the old gentleman had been revived, he was effusive in his thanks. He praised his friend for saving his life. Today, three years later, the old gentleman is berating his friend because the silk hat was lost.

Why did that crisis of 1929 to 1933 pass without disaster?

The answer is found in the record of what we did. Early in the campaign of 1932 I said: "To meet by reaction that danger of radicalism is to invite disaster. Reaction is no barrier to the radical, it is a challenge, a provocation. The way to meet that danger is to offer a workable program of reconstruction, and the party to offer it is the party with clean hands." We met the emergency with emergency action. But far more important than that, we went to the roots of the problem, and attacked the cause of the crisis. We were against revolution. Therefore, we waged war against those conditions which make revolutions- against the inequalities and resentments which breed them. In America in 1933 the people did not attempt to remedy wrongs by overthrowing their institutions. Americans were made to realize that wrongs could and would be set right within their institutions. We proved that democracy can work.

I have said to you that there is a very great difference between the two parties in what they do about Communism. Conditions congenial to Communism were being bred and fostered throughout this Nation up to the very day of March 4, 1933. Hunger was breeding it, loss of homes and farms was breeding it, closing banks were breeding it, a ruinous price level was breeding it. Discontent and fear were spreading through the land. The previous national Administration, bewildered, did nothing.

In their speeches they deplored it, but by their actions they encouraged it. The injustices, the inequalities, the downright suffering out of which revolutions come- what did they do about these things? Lacking courage, they evaded. Being selfish, they neglected. Being short-sighted, they ignored. When the crisis came- as these wrongs made it sure to come- America was unprepared.

Our lack of preparation for it was best proved by the cringing and the fear of the very people whose indifference helped to make the crisis. They came to us pleading that we should do, overnight, what they should have been doing through the years.

And the simple causes of our unpreparedness were two: First, a weak leadership, and, secondly, an inability to see causes, to understand the reasons for social unrest- the tragic plight of 90 percent of the men, women and children who made up the population of the United States.

It has been well said that "The most dreadful failure of which any form of government can be guilty is simply to lose touch with reality, because out of this failure all imaginable forms of evil grow. Every empire that has crashed has come down primarily because its rulers did not know what was going on in the world and were incapable of learning."

It is for that reason that our American form of government will continue to be safest in. Democratic hands. The real, actual, undercover Republican leadership is the same as it was four years ago. That leadership will never comprehend the need for a program of social justice and of regard for the well- being of the masses of our people.

I have been comparing leadership in Washington. This contrast between Democratic and Republican leadership holds true throughout the length and breadth of the State of New York. As far back as the year 1910, the old Black Horse Cavalry in Albany, which we old people will remember, was failing to meet changing social conditions by appropriate social legislation. Here was a State noted for its industry and noted for its agriculture- a State with the greatest mixture of population- where the poorest and the richest lived, literally, within a stone's throw of each other- in short a situation made to order for potential unrest. And yet in this situation the best that the Republican leaders of those days could say was: "Let them eat cake." What would have happened if that reactionary domination had continued through all these hard years?

Starting in 1911, a Democratic leadership came into power, and with it a new philosophy of government. I had the good fortune to come into public office at that time. I found other young men in the Legislature- men who held the same philosophy; one of them was Bob Wagner; another was Al Smith. We were all joined in a common cause. We did not look on government as something apart from the people. We thought of it as something to be used by the people for their own good.

New factory legislation setting up decent standards of safety and sanitation; limitation of the working hours of women in industry; a workmen's compensation law; a one-day-rest-in-seven law; a full train-crew law; a direct-primary law- these laws and many more were passed which were then called radical and alien to our form of government. Would you or any other Americans call them radical or alien today?

In later years, first under Governor Smith, then during my Governorship, this program of practical intelligence was carried forward over the typical and unswerving opposition of Republican leaders throughout our State.

And today the great tradition of a liberal, progressive Democratic Party has been carried still further by your present Governor, Herbert H. Lehman. He has begun a program of insurance to remove 'the spectre of unemployment from the working people of the State. He has broadened our labor legislation. He has extended the supervision of public utility companies. He has proved himself an untiring seeker for the public good; a doer of social justice; a wise, conscientious, clear-headed and businesslike administrator of the executive branch of our Government. And be it noted that his opponents are led and backed by the same forces and, in many cases, by the same individuals who, for a quarter of a century, have tried to hamstring progress within our State. The overwhelming majority of our citizens, up-state and down-state, regardless of party, propose to return him and his Administration to Albany for another two years.

His task in Albany, like my task in Washington, has been to maintain contact between statecraft and reality. In New York and in Washington, Government which has rendered more than lip service to our Constitutional Democracy has done a work for the protection and preservation of our institutions that could not have been accomplished by repression and force.

Let me warn you and let me warn the Nation against the smooth evasion which says, "Of course we believe all these things; we believe in social security; we believe in work for the unemployed; we believe in saving homes. Cross our hearts and hope to die, we believe in all these things; but we do not like the way the present Administration is doing them. Just turn them over to us. We will do all of them- we will do more of them we will do them better; and, most important of all, the doing of them will not cost anybody anything."

But, my friends, these evaders are banking too heavily on the shortness of our memories. No one will forget that they had their golden opportunity- twelve long years of it.

Remember, too, that the first essential of doing a job well is to want to see the job done. Make no mistake about this: the Republican leadership today is not against the way we have done the job. The Republican leadership is against the job's being done.

Look to the source of the promises of the past. Governor Lehman knows and I know how little legislation in the interests of the average citizen would be on the statute books of the State of New York, and of the Federal Government, if we had waited for Republican leaders to pass it.

The same lack of purpose of fulfillment lies behind the promises of today. You cannot be an Old Guard Republican in the East, and a New Deal Republican in the West. You cannot promise to repeal taxes before one audience and promise to spend more of the taxpayers' money before another audience. You cannot promise tax relief for those who can afford to pay, and, at the same time, promise more of the taxpayers' money for those who are in need. You simply cannot make good on both promises at the same time.

Who is there in America who believes that we can run the risk of turning back our Government to the old leadership which brought it to the brink of 1933? Out of the strains and stresses of these years we have come to see that the true conservative is the man who has a real concern for injustices and takes thought against the day of reckoning. The true conservative seeks to protect the system of private property and free enterprise by correcting such injustices and inequalities as arise from it. The most serious threat to our institutions comes from those who refuse to face the need for change. Liberalism becomes the protection for the far-sighted conservative.

Never has a Nation made greater strides in the safeguarding of democracy than we have made during the past three years. Wise and prudent men- intelligent conservatives- have long known that in a changing world worthy institutions can be conserved only by adjusting them to the changing time. In the words of the great essayist, "The voice of great events is proclaiming to us. Reform if you would preserve." I am that kind of conservative because I am that kind of liberal.

Citation: Franklin D. Roosevelt: "Address at the Democratic State Convention, Syracuse, N.Y.," September 29, 1936. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=15142.


Categories: Elections, FDR, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, History


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Lydia The Tattooed Lady. Annotated.
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Published Wednesday, October 03, 2012 @ 2:44 AM EDT
Oct 03 2012

(YouTube video: "Lydia the Tattooed Lady,")

Yesterday was Groucho's birthday, and every other year or so I post this clip of him singing Lydia, the Tattooed Lady from the classic Marx Brothers film At The Circus.

I was just about to re-post the video when I remembered an e-mail I had received from a reader the last time I published it. A 21-year-old college student asked if Lydia was a "gibberish" song, because many of the lyrics made no sense to him.

No sense?

Lyricist E.Y. "Yip" Harburg was at the top of his form when he wrote Lydia. It's fiendishly clever, invoking historical and contemporary references, and he effortlessly blends them with oblique asides describing Lydia's impressive physical characteristics. The result was an instant classic.

I watched the video again, and then it dawned on me... if my young reader had failed to pay attention during his history, literature, and geography classes, he just wouldn't get it.

So, if you've listened to Lydia and found yourself not only tapping your toes but scratching your head, here are the lyrics. With footnotes.

There will be a quiz later, so please pay attention.

Lydia The Tattooed Lady
(music by Harold Arlen, lyrics by E.Y. Harburg,
the guys who also did "Over the Rainbow.")

Ah, this meeting brings back memories. Childhood days... Lemonade! Romance! My life was wrapped around the circus... Her name was Lydia. I met her at the World's Fair in 1900 (marked down from 1940). Ah, Lydia...

She was the most glorious creature under the sun...
Thaïs!(1)
du Barry!(2)
Garbo!(3)
Rolled into one...

Oh......

Lydia, oh Lydia, say, have you met Lydia?
Lydia The Tattooed Lady
She has eyes that folks adore so,
And a torso even more so.
Lydia, oh Lydia, that encyclopedia.(4)
Oh Lydia The Queen of Tattoo.
On her back is The Battle of Waterloo,(5).
Beside it The Wreck of the Hesperus(6) too.
And proudly above waves the red, white, and blue(7).
You can learn a lot from Lydia!

La-la-la...la-la-la.
La-la-la...la-la-la.

When her robe is unfurled she will show you the world,
If you step up and tell her where.
For a dime you can see Kankakee(8) or Paree(9),
Or Washington Crossing The Delaware.(10)

La-la-la...la-la-la.
La-la-la...la-la-la.

Oh Lydia, oh Lydia, say, have you met Lydia?
Oh Lydia The Tattooed Lady.
When her muscles start relaxin',
Up the hill comes Andrew Jackson.(11)
Lydia, oh Lydia, that encyclopedia.
Oh Lydia the queen of them all.
For two bits(12) she will do a mazurka(13) in jazz,
With a view of Niagara(14) that nobody has.
And on a clear day you can see Alcatraz.(15)
You can learn a lot from Lydia!

La-la-la...la-la-la.
La-la-la...la-la-la.

Come along and see Buffalo Bill(16) with his lasso.
Just a little classic by Mendel Picasso.(17)
Here is Captain Spaulding(18) exploring the Amazon(19).
Here's Godiva,(20) but with her pajamas on.

La-la-la...la-la-la.
La-la-la...la-la-la.

Here is Grover Whalen,(21) unveilin' the Trylon.(22),
Over on the West Coast we have Treasure Island.(23)
Here's Najinsky(24) a-doin' the rhumba.(25)
Here's her social security numba.

Oh Lydia, oh Lydia, that encyclopedia
Oh Lydia the champ of them all.
She once swept an Admiral clear off his feet.
The ships on her hips made his heart skip a beat.
And now the old boy's in command of the fleet,
For he went and married Lydia!

I said Lydia...
He said Lydia...
I said Lydia...
We said Lydia...
La la!

Notes:

 (1) Thaïs, a stunningly beautiful and rich fourth century courtesan who lived in Roman-controlled Alexandria, Egypt. She eventually saw the error of her ways, converted to Christianity, gave her money to the church, spent three years immured in a convent cell as extreme penance, and died 15 days after her release.

 (2) Jeanne Bécu, a.k.a. Madame du Barry (August 19, 1743 - December 8, 1793), the stunningly beautiful and, alas, final Maîtresse-en-titre (chief mistress) of King Louis XV. She was convicted of treason for helping people flee the French Revolution and was beheaded on the guillotine.

 (3) Greta Garbo, born Greta Lovisa Gustafsson, (September 18, 1905 – April 15, 1990), the stunningly beautiful Swedish film actress and international star. She made fewer than 30 films during her 1920-1941 career, retired at the age of 36, and spent her remaining years shunning publicity.

 (4)A book or set of books containing articles on various topics, usually in alphabetical arrangement, covering all branches of knowledge or, less commonly, all aspects of one subject.

 (5)The military engagement in which an imperial French army under the command of Emperor Napoleon was defeated by the armies of the Seventh Coalition on June 18, 1815.

 (6)The Wreck of the Hesperus is a narrative poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow describing... well, bottom line, we're talking about a tattoo of a wrecked, ice-covered ship on a reef with a dead little girl tied to a broken, floating mast.

 (7)The colors of the U.S. flag, a reference to the flag itself, or a reference to the country.

 (8)Kankakee, Illinois, a city about 60 miles south southwest of Chicago.

 (9)Paree (Paris), France's capital and largest city.

 (10)German-American artist Emanuel Gottlieb's 1851 oil-on-canvas painting depicting, with numerous inaccuracies and anachronisms, then-General George Washington standing in a boat, leading his troops in the Christmas 1776 sneak attack against Hessian mercenaries stationed in Trenton, New Jersey.

(11)Andrew "Old Hickory" Jackson (March 15, 1767 – June 8, 1845), the seventh President of the United States, serving two terms from 1829 to 1837. He's best known as the guy on the $20 bill and the first President someone tried to assassinate. Prior to entering politics, he was a noted military leader whose exploits included leading his troops up a steep hill near Tohopeka, Alabama on the March 27, 1814 Battle of Horseshoe Bend during the War of 1812. (The War of 1812 lasted until 1815.)
The reader is encouraged to learn more about Jackson. His presidency makes the current situation in Washington look like a 60s' hippie love-in. Old Hickory was ill-tempered, unforgiving, and the target of vicious personal attacks. During the 1828 election, his opponents called him a jackass. Political cartoonist Thomas Nast later used the jackass to characterize members of Jackson's then newly-formed Democratic party, a symbol that remains to this day. Jackson had been involved in numerous duels and had so many bullets lodged in various body parts that it was said he "rattled like a bag of marbles."

(12)25 cents. The etymology is left as an exercise for the reader.

(13)An upbeat Polish folk dance.

(14)Niagara Falls, the three cataracts located on the border of New York state and the province of Ontario, Canada.

(15)The island in San Francisco Bay. Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary operated there from 1933 to 1963.

(16)William Frederick "Buffalo Bill" Cody (February 26, 1846 – January 10, 1917), whose eponymous wild west shows toured the U.S. and Europe.

(17)Either badly-punctuated references to geneticist Gregor Mendel and artist Pablo Picasso, or lyricist Harburg coupling the last name of a world famous artist to a funny-sounding Jewish first name. You know, like Shlomo Warhol. Come to think of it, Shlomo Picasso is funnier.

(18)The character Groucho portrayed in the stage play and film Animal Crackers.

(19)The river in South America, not the website.

(20)In 1028, Lady Godiva repeatedly asked her husband Leofric (the Earl of Mercia) to not pass along to the impoverished citizens of Coventry the taxes levied on him by the King of England, Edward the Confessor. ("Trickle down" had a different meaning then.) Leo told Lady G that if she'd ride naked through the town market on a horse, he'd nix the tax hike. The next day she did just that. Leofric kept his promise and eliminated all taxes in Coventry except for those related to boarding horses. The bits about her covering her, uh, bits, with her long flowing hair- and the story that Tom the Tailor was struck blind when he took a peek as she passed by his shop (the origin of "Peeping Tom")- are later embellishments.

(21)President of the New York World Fair Corporation.

(22)One of two large structures located at the center of the 1939 World's Fair in New York.

(23)A man-made island in San Francisco Bay between San Francisco and Oakland.

(24)Vaslav Nijinsky (March 12, 1889 or 1890 – April 8, 1950), considered by many to be the greatest male dancer of the early 20th century.

(25)A style of ballroom dancing based on the Cuban bolero-son. Not to be confused with the terminal emulation software. Or the autonomous robot vacuum cleaner.


Categories: Groucho Marx, History, Lydia, The Tattooed Lady, Music, Video, YouTube


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Happy birthday, Star Trek!
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Published Saturday, September 08, 2012 @ 7:39 AM EDT
Sep 08 2012


President Barack Obama and Nichelle Nichols (Uhura)

The good news? Star Trek aired for the first time 46 years ago today.

The bad news? I remember watching its premier as a seventh grader, 46 years ago.

Live long and prosper, indeed.


Categories: Barack Obama, History, Nichelle Nichols, Photo of the day, Star Trek, TV


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Still waiting for the answers
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Published Tuesday, August 28, 2012 @ 10:04 AM EDT
Aug 28 2012

(YouTube video: Peter, Paul and Mary perform "Blowin' in the Wind" at the August 28, 1983 March on Washington.)


Categories: History, Martin Luther King, Jr., Music, Peter, Paul and Mary, Politics, Video, YouTube


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Déjà vu
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Published Tuesday, August 28, 2012 @ 7:07 AM EDT
Aug 28 2012

From KGB Report, seven years ago today:

Sunday, August 28, 2005
posted by KGB at 10:15 PM (permalink)

Apocalypse Wow

Wow. I've never seen a forecast like this:

URGENT - WEATHER MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE NEW ORLEANS LA
413 PM CDT SUN AUG 28 2005

...EXTREMELY DANGEROUS HURRICANE KATRINA CONTINUES TO APPROACH THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER DELTA... ...DEVASTATING DAMAGE EXPECTED...

MOST OF THE AREA WILL BE UNINHABITABLE FOR WEEKS...PERHAPS LONGER. AT LEAST ONE HALF OF WELL CONSTRUCTED HOMES WILL HAVE ROOF AND WALL FAILURE. ALL GABLED ROOFS WILL FAIL...LEAVING THOSE HOMES SEVERELY DAMAGED OR DESTROYED.

THE MAJORITY OF INDUSTRIAL BUILDINGS WILL BECOME NON FUNCTIONAL. PARTIAL TO COMPLETE WALL AND ROOF FAILURE IS EXPECTED. ALL WOOD FRAMED LOW RISING APARTMENT BUILDINGS WILL BE DESTROYED. CONCRETE BLOCK LOW RISE APARTMENTS WILL SUSTAIN MAJOR DAMAGE...INCLUDING SOME WALL AND ROOF FAILURE.

HIGH RISE OFFICE AND APARTMENT BUILDINGS WILL SWAY DANGEROUSLY...A FEW TO THE POINT OF TOTAL COLLAPSE. ALL WINDOWS WILL BLOW OUT.

AIRBORNE DEBRIS WILL BE WIDESPREAD...AND MAY INCLUDE HEAVY ITEMS SUCH AS HOUSEHOLD APPLIANCES AND EVEN LIGHT VEHICLES. SPORT UTILITY VEHICLES AND LIGHT TRUCKS WILL BE MOVED. THE BLOWN DEBRIS WILL CREATE ADDITIONAL DESTRUCTION. PERSONS...PETS...AND LIVESTOCK EXPOSED TO THE WINDS WILL FACE CERTAIN DEATH IF STRUCK.

POWER OUTAGES WILL LAST FOR WEEKS...AS MOST POWER POLES WILL BE DOWN AND TRANSFORMERS DESTROYED. WATER SHORTAGES WILL MAKE HUMAN SUFFERING INCREDIBLE BY MODERN STANDARDS.

THE VAST MAJORITY OF NATIVE TREES WILL BE SNAPPED OR UPROOTED. ONLY THE HEARTIEST WILL REMAIN STANDING...BUT BE TOTALLY DEFOLIATED. FEW CROPS WILL REMAIN. LIVESTOCK LEFT EXPOSED TO THE WINDS WILL BE KILLED.


Categories: History, Weather


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Quotes of the day
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Published Saturday, July 14, 2012 @ 5:29 AM EDT
Jul 14 2012

Quotes of the day- Adlai E. Stevenson II:
 
Adlai Ewing Stevenson II (February 5, 1900 – July 14, 1965) was an American politician, noted for his intellectual demeanor, eloquent oratory, and promotion of liberal causes in the Democratic Party. He served as the 31st Governor of Illinois, and received the Democratic Party's nomination for president in 1952 and 1956; both times he was defeated by Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower. He sought the Democratic presidential nomination for a third time in the election of 1960, but was defeated by Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts. After his election, President Kennedy appointed Stevenson as the Ambassador to the United Nations; he served from 1961 to 1965. He died on July 14, 1965 in London, England after suffering a heart attack.

His most famous moment came on October 25, 1962, during the Cuban missile crisis, when he gave a presentation at an emergency session of the Security Council. He forcefully asked the Soviet representative, Valerian Zorin, if his country was installing missiles in Cuba, punctuated with the famous demand "Don't wait for the translation, answer 'yes' or 'no'!" Following Zorin's refusal to answer the abrupt question, Stevenson retorted, "I am prepared to wait for my answer until Hell freezes over." In one of the most memorable moments in U.N. history, Stevenson then showed photographs that proved the existence of missiles in Cuba, just after the Soviet ambassador had implied they did not exist.

Stevenson was assaulted by an anti-United Nations protesters in Dallas, Texas, on October 24, 1963, one month before the assassination of Kennedy in that same city. A women struck him on the head with a sign, and a man spat on him and on a policeman. Amid the furor, Stevenson said of his assailants: "I don't want to send them to jail. I want to send them to school." (Click for full article.)

A beauty is a woman you notice. A charmer is one who notices you.

A diplomat's life is made up of three ingredients: protocol, Geritol and alcohol.

A hungry man is not a free man.

A wise man does not try to hurry history. Many wars have been avoided by patience and many have been precipitated by reckless haste.

Accuracy is to a newspaper what virtue is to a lady, except that a newspaper can always print a retraction.

After four years at the United Nations I sometimes yearn for the peace and tranquillity of a political convention.

All progress has resulted from people who took unpopular positions. All change is the result of a change in the contemporary state of mind.

America is a country that can choke on a gnat, or swallow tigers.

An Independent is someone who wants to take the politics out of politics.

Bad administration, to be sure, can destroy good policy; but good administration can never save bad policy.

Do not... regard the critics as questionable patriots. What were Washington and Jefferson and Adams but profound critics of the colonial status quo?

Every age needs men who will redeem the time by living with a vision of the things that are to be.

Flattery is all right so long as you don't inhale.

Freedom is not an ideal, it is not even a protection, if it means nothing more than freedom to stagnate, to live without dreams, to have no greater aim than a second car and another television set.

He who slings mud generally loses ground.

I have been thinking that I would make a proposition to my Republican friends... that if they will stop telling lies about the Democrats, we will stop telling the truth about them.

I have tried to talk about the issues in this campaign... But, strangely enough, my friends, this road has been a lonely road because I never meet anybody coming the other way.

I regret that I have but one law firm to give to my country.

Ignorance is stubborn and prejudice dies hard.

In America any boy may become President, and I suppose it's just one of the risks he takes.

In matters of national security emotion is no substitute for intelligence, nor rigidity for prudence. To act coolly, intelligently and prudently in perilous circumstances is the test of a man- and also a nation.

In quiet places, reason abounds.

It will be helpful in our mutual objective to allow every man in America to look his neighbor in the face and see a man- not a color.

It's hard to lead a cavalry charge if you think you look funny on a horse.

Laws are never as effective as habits.

Man does not live by words alone, despite the fact that he sometimes has to eat them.

Man has wrested from nature the power to make the world a desert or to make deserts bloom. There is no evil in the atom; only in men's souls.

My definition of a free society is a society where it is safe to be unpopular.

Nature is indifferent to the survival of the human species, including Americans.

Nixon is the kind of politician who would cut down a redwood tree, then mount the stump for a speech on conservation.

Nothing so dates a man as to decry the younger generation.

Patriotism is not a short and frenzied outburst of emotion but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.

Power corrupts, but lack of power corrupts absolutely.

Public confidence in the integrity of the Government is indispensable to faith in democracy; and when we lose faith in the system, we have lost faith in everything we fight and spend for.

Some people approach every problem with an open mouth.

The best reason I can think of for not running for President of the United States is that you have to shave twice a day.

The hardest thing about any political campaign is how to win without proving that you are unworthy of winning.

The human race has improved everything except the human race.

The idea that you can merchandise candidates for high office like breakfast cereal is the ultimate indignity to the democratic process.

The important thing is not to believe your own propaganda.

The sound of tireless voices is the price we pay for the right to hear the music of our own opinions.

The time to stop a revolution is at the beginning, not the end.

The tragedy of our day is the climate of fear in which we live, and fear breeds repression. Too often sinister threats to the bill of rights, to freedom of the mind, are concealed under the patriotic cloak, of anti-communism.

There are worse things than losing an election; the worst thing is to lose one's convictions and not tell the people the truth.

There is no evil in the atom, only in men's souls.

There is nothing more horrifying than stupidity in action.

There was a time when a fool and his money were soon parted, but now it happens to everybody.

They pick a President and then for four years they pick on him.

Those who corrupt the public mind are just as evil as those who steal from the public purse.

To strike freedom of the mind with the fist of patriotism is an old an ugly subtlety.

True Patriotism, it seems to me, is based on tolerance and a large measure of humility.

Understanding human needs is half the job of meeting them.

Unreason and anti-intellectualism abominate thought. Thinking implies disagreement; and disagreement implies nonconformity; and nonconformity implies heresy; and heresy implies disloyalty- so, obviously, thinking must be stopped. But shouting is not a substitute for thinking and reason is not the subversion but the salvation of freedom.

We can chart our future clearly and wisely only when we know the path which has led to the present.

We have confused the free with the free and easy.

We inherited freedom. We seem unaware that freedom has to be remade and re-earned in each generation of man.

We must never delude ourselves into thinking that physical power is a substitute for moral power, which is the true sign of national greatness.

What a man knows at fifty that he did not know at twenty is, for the most part, incommunicable.

When political ammunition runs low, inevitably the rusty artillery of abuse is wheeled into action.

With the supermarket as our temple and the singing commercial as our litany, are we likely to fire the world with an irresistible vision of America's exalted purpose and inspiring way of life?

Words calculated to catch everyone may catch no one.

You can tell the size of a man by the size of the thing that makes him mad.

You will find that truth is often unpopular and the contest between agreeable fancy and disagreeable fact is unequal. For, in the vernacular, we Americans are suckers for good news.


Categories: Adlai E. Stevenson II, Elections, History, Politics, Quotes of the day


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Do you mean the satellite or the song? Yes.
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Published Tuesday, July 10, 2012 @ 12:20 AM EDT
Jul 10 2012

Telstar is the name of various communications satellites, including the first such satellite to relay television signals. Telstar 1 was launched on top of a Thor-Delta rocket on July 10, 1962. It successfully relayed through space the first television pictures, telephone calls, fax images and provided the first live transatlantic television feed.

(YouTube video: Newsreel of Telstar launch.)

(YouTube video: Telstar by The Tornados.)

Telstar was a 1962 instrumental record performed by The Tornados. It was the first single by a British band to reach number one on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, and was also a number one hit in the UK. The record was named after the AT&T communications satellite Telstar, which went into orbit in July 1962. The song was released five weeks later on August 17, 1962. It was written and produced by Joe Meek, and featured a clavioline, a keyboard instrument with a distinctive electronic sound. It was estimated to have sold at least five million copies worldwide


Categories: History, Music, Telstar, Video, YouTube


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Their finest hour
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Published Monday, June 18, 2012 @ 12:02 AM EDT
Jun 18 2012

The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be freed and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands.

But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new dark age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves, that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, This was their finest hour.

-Prime Minister Winston Churchill, June 18, 1940


Categories: History, Quotes of the day, Winston Churchill


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May 25, 1977
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Published Friday, May 25, 2012 @ 12:10 AM EDT
May 25 2012

A relatively low-budget space opera called Star Wars premiered 35 years ago today. Motion pictures have never been the same.


Categories: Abraham Lincoln, History, Star Wars


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"Four dead in O-hi-o"
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Published Friday, May 04, 2012 @ 3:42 AM EDT
May 04 2012

Egads. The Kent State killings were 42 years ago today...

(You Tube Video: Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young: "Ohio.")


Categories: From the archives, History, Music, Video, YouTube


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Remember...
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Published Tuesday, April 17, 2012 @ 1:46 AM EDT
Apr 17 2012

...42 years ago today. When our "useless" government managed to invent the dozens of technologies needed to send humans to the moon, for less money and in less time than we've spent in Afghanistan. When no problem was insurmountable. When failure was not an option.

Now we can't get a bill out of the U.S. Senate.


Categories: History, KGB Opinion, Video, YouTube


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519 years after Columbus...
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Published Monday, October 10, 2011 @ 7:42 AM EDT
Oct 10 2011

...and some people are still oblivious to the world.


Categories: History, Poster of the day, WTF?


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Rewriting history
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Published Monday, August 29, 2011 @ 8:28 AM EDT
Aug 29 2011

[Texas] students will learn about the contributions of Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority. Maybe the students will read Falwell's claim that feminists and homosexuals were partially responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Phyllis Schlafly, the Heritage Foundation and the NRA are all included. Students will also be required to "discuss the meaning of 'In God We Trust.'"

History in Texas classrooms will be decidedly different from when we were students. I never learned "both the positive and negative impacts of... country and western music" in my high school history class. Where would you rate Estée Lauder in terms of historical importance to our country? If you think she is one of the 68 most important historical figures, you agree with the board. Yes, the board included her in the state curriculum, but not George Washington.

I also never learned that the findings of the House Committee on Un-American Activities were confirmed, perhaps because it is not true. It puts teachers in an awkward position by asking them to teach something that is historically inaccurate. I will not have to deal with that issue in some of my classes because my Advanced Placement U.S. History classes are not required to follow the state curriculum. I am guessing that the Texas Education Agency realizes that students could never pass national exams while learning the state-mandated curriculum.

(Full article here)

You know the good part about all those executions in Texas? Fewer Texans.
-George Carlin


Categories: George Carlin, History, Music


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Homestead
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Published Thursday, July 14, 2011 @ 7:46 AM EDT
Jul 14 2011

("Homestead Town" music video)

I was born in Homestead and lived there until I was 18, first in a third-floor apartment on the corner of Eighth and McClure, then in a second-floor apartment above Jones & McClure Realty on Ninth and Ann. Even then, I recall how people said Homestead was past its prime, but Eighth Avenue was still at nearly 100% occupancy, with two Isaly's, two supermarkets, a McCrory's, Grants, Penney's, and enough foot traffic that you avoided Amity Street at shift changes.

I remember the sick feeling in the pit of my stomach the first time I drove through the town after the mills had been torn down. It's hard to describe- imagine how the residents of New York felt the day after 9/11. And the destruction of Homestead was something America did to itself.

"In its 105-year history," the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette recalled in a 2006 story on the 20th anniversary of the mill's closing, "the Homestead Works produced more than 200 million tons of steel: Rails and railroad cars, armor plate that covered battleships and tanks from the Spanish-American War through the Korean War, and beams and girders that went into the Empire State Building, the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, the U.S. Steel Building in Pittsburgh and the Sears Tower in Chicago."

Its replacement, the Waterfront complex? I've been there a handful of times since it's opened, and it makes me angry. The world's largest steel plant, replaced by big box stores selling Chinese crap.

Some people see a shopping center. I see a white flag.


Categories: History, Music, YouTube


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Interpretations of Independence
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Published Monday, July 04, 2011 @ 8:16 AM EDT
Jul 04 2011

Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died on July 4, 1826, exactly 50 years after the adoption of the Declaration of Independence by the Second Continental Congress,

On July 4, 1997, Charles Kuralt died. A journalist for CBS, he had a passion for America and American history. During the Bicentennial in 1976, he prepared a segment for The CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite that remains the best "news report" of what happened in Philadelphia 200 years earlier:

Another wonderful interpretation of the tensions before the vote is the song Is Anybody There? from the award-winning Broadway musical 1776, which airs at 2 pm today on Turner Classic Movies:

Is Anybody There?"

From the musical "1776"
Music and lyrics by Sherman Edwards

John Adams:

Is anybody there?
Does anybody care?
Does anybody see what I see?

They want to me to quit.
They say, "John, give up the fight."
Still to England I say:
Good night, forever, good night!

For I have crossed the Rubicon,
Let the bridge be burned behind me,
Come what may, come what may.

Commitment!

The croakers all say we'll rue the day,
There'll be hell to pay in fiery purgatory.
Through all the gloom, through all the gloom,
I can see the rays of ravishing light and glory!

Is anybody there?
Does anybody care?
Does anybody see what I see?

I see fireworks!
I see the pageant and pomp and parade!
I hear the bells ringing out!
I hear the cannons' roar!
I see Americans - all Americans.
Free forevermore!

How quiet, how quiet the chamber is.
How silent, how silent the chamber is.

Is anybody there?
Does anybody care?
Does anybody see what I see?


Categories: History, Music, Video, YouTube


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Political jokes of the week
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Published Friday, June 17, 2011 @ 8:48 AM EDT
Jun 17 2011

Recent late-night political jokes, from Daniel Kurtzman's Political Humor Blog on About.com.

Photos of Congressman Weiner have surfaced of him cross-dressing in college, in bra and pantyhose, proving that even back then he knew he wanted to be a Congressman.
-Jay Leno

It was on this day in 1992 that Vice President Dan Quayle misspelled the word 'potato,' thus paving the way for Sarah Palin.
-Jay Leno

According to a new report, only 12 percent of American high school students can pass a basic history test. That's the lowest percentage since our country was founded in 1922.
-Jay Leno

Congressman Weiner’s wife returned today from her diplomatic trip to Ethiopia. She said she got really tired of Ethiopians telling her, 'I feel so sorry for you.'
-Conan O'Brien

A new study shows that only 35 percent of fourth-graders know the purpose of the Declaration of Independence. When she heard this, Sarah Palin said, 'How are they supposed to know about something that happened 20 years ago.'
-Conan O'Brien

A Tea Party group has a summer camp for kids, the only one where they sit around the campfire and tell scary stories about taxing the top 2%.
-Conan O'Brien

Rep. Michele Bachmann once said that gay people lead a very sad life. Apparently, she has never celebrated Halloween in San Francisco.
-Conan O'Brien

Have you seen these Republican presidential candidates? I bet Obama is sorry now that he spent all that money on the new birth certificate.
-David Letterman

A new survey found that 87 percent of high school seniors are less than proficient in U.S. history. Not me. In fact, when I was a senior, I did a 10-page paper on my favorite president, George Jefferson.
-Jimmy Fallon

It turns out that 70 percent of guns found in Mexico actually come from the U.S. Meanwhile, 70 percent of people found in the U.S. actually come from Mexico.
-Jimmy Fallon

One more vote is needed in the New York State Senate to legalize gay marriage. That one vote could be the Republican Senator from Staten Island. If he’s willing to be known for the rest of his career as the Staten Island Fairy.
-Jon Stewart


Categories: History, Jon Stewart, Political Jokes of the Week


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Observation of the day
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Published Thursday, May 19, 2011 @ 6:43 AM EDT
May 19 2011

The United States has no purpose. That is perhaps its greatest achievement. America's founding document, its Declaration of Independence, allows that a state exists only to secure life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

That's it. There's a curious lack of ambition in those words. The United States was not founded for the greater glory of anything, or as the necessary outcome of history, but for the freedom to collect figurines, to join a clogging troupe, to take a road trip. Yet these words, which carry no ideology whatsoever, are the ones that keep winning. This is the lesson of the past ten years, and one Osama bin Laden, a man animated by a grandiose vision of restoring a seventh century Muslim empire, never grasped. The most successful organizing principle the world has ever known is a simple guarantee that we can buy and do things that have no point greater than the satisfaction of our own happiness.

There's been much discussion, since the evening his death was announced, of the appropriate way to celebrate the end of Osama bin Laden. You might consider embracing what defeated him. Do something private and ridiculous, something that answers to no creed.

Pursue happiness.

-Brendan Greeley, excerpted from "Why bin Laden Lost," Businessweek, May 4, 2011.

(h/t to "The Sanity Inspector" on the Usenet alt.quotations newsgroup)


Categories: Founding Fathers, History


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April 11, 1954: The fifties reaches its peak- uh- fifty-ness
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Published Monday, April 11, 2011 @ 6:17 AM EDT
Apr 11 2011

Fifty-seven years ago today, pretty much nothing happened.

Researchers claim they have "officially" discovered the most boring day of the 20th century... April 11, 1954.

A team of Cambridge scientists say the day was devoid of any major news events or even the birth or death of any famous people.

They made the discovery after developing a new search engine which collates 300 million facts and can reveal what happened on certain days in history.

Running a script to compare all days from the beginning of the 20th century, April 11, 1954 was revealed as the most uneventful.

"Nobody significant died that day, no major events apparently occurred and although a typical day in the 20th century has many notable people being born, for some reason that day had only one person that might make that claim: Abdullah Atalar, a Turkish academic."

One wonders what the 24-hour cable news outlets would have covered that day...


Categories: History


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Tough, honest questions
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Published Thursday, April 07, 2011 @ 6:49 AM EDT
Apr 07 2011

Again, one must ask- why are the clearest, most direct interviews performed by a comedian on a fake news show?

Stewart probes Huckabee's support of radical evangelical minister and discredited historian David Barton, who claims- despite incontrovertible evidence to the contrary- that the Founders intended the United States to be a Christian theocracy. Stewart also questions why Huckabee- who is always reasonable and self-effacing during his Daily Show interviews- promotes Barton's extreme ideas when addressing his conservative base.

This is part three of three of the interview; consider watching them all. It's one of Stewart's- and Huckabee's- best efforts.

It also features two Stewart observations that made it to my quote database:

"As someone who is not Christian, it is hard for me to believe Christians are a persecuted people in America... maybe, God willing, one of you will rise up and get to be President of this country; or maybe 44 in a row."

"We need religion to give grace and comfort to a world torn apart by religion."


Categories: Church and State, Daily Show, First Amendment, Founding Fathers, History, Jon Stewart, U.S. Constitution, Video


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Quote of the day
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Published Wednesday, February 23, 2011 @ 11:47 AM EST
Feb 23 2011

The working classes didn't bring this on. It was the big boys that thought the financial drunk was going to last forever and overbought, overmerged and overcapitalized.
-Will Rogers (October 25, 1931)


Categories: History, Quotes of the day


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Bigger is not necessarily better
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Published Friday, February 04, 2011 @ 7:58 AM EST
Feb 04 2011

Back in the late 60s and 70s, around the time the term "rip-off" entered the vernacular, Ralph Nader spearheaded the movement that put into place many of the consumer protection laws and policies that still survive today.

One of these was the requirement for "unit pricing"- indicating on the grocery shelf price tag the per unit cost of the packaged item in ounces, pounds, etc.

This was enacted to enable consumers to easily determine the cost of a product, since some manufacturers used deceptive packaging to trick purchasers. That 99-cent sale item, for example, might contain only 28 ounces of a product in a box designed to look identical to the 32 ounce box next to it. Divide the price by the number of ounces, however, and you'd discover the "sale" item actually cost several cents more per ounce.

I believe people either have forgotten about unit pricing or have never learned how to use it. Couple that with the almost universal assumption that the larger the package, the lower the unit cost, and it appears companies are again taking advantage of consumers.

Last night I ran out to buy cat litter. I usually get the largest container I can, since our inside feline apparently has the digestive system characteristics of a zebra-noshing wild cat from the Serengeti. Out of habit, I looked at the unit cost of the big containers positioned at eye level- 2.9 cents per ounce- then glanced down at the smaller containers on the shelves near the floor- 2.3 cents per ounce.

Curious, I looked at a number of other items and was surprised to find that about a third of the time, the unit price of the smaller package of an item was actually cheaper than the "large economy" version.

I suspect this isn't unique to the Pittsburgh market. Companies are taking advantage of shoppers' mathematical illiteracy and lack of shopping skills.

Keep your eyes open the next time you're in the supermarket, and do the comparisons yourself. I think you may be surprised at what you find.


Categories: Cats, History, WTF?


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Listen to Jim. Trust me on this.
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Published Friday, October 08, 2010 @ 7:15 AM EDT
Oct 08 2010

The Illuminati amongst us (that would be my fellow computer people) know that Sunday will be a binary date day. Last Friday was also a binary date day. Binary dates are those composed exclusively of zeros and ones (ala 10/01/10, or 01/01/01). Binary dates tend to appear exclusively in the early parts of centuries. I was too young to appreciate the last century. I expect to be too old to appreciate the next century. So I'm doing my best to appreciate this century. This is why I noticed that Sunday, 10/10/10, is quite a significant binary date. To explain why will require at least two more paragraphs.

The Literati amongst us (that would be my fellow fans of the works of Douglas Adams), know that the original Earth was destroyed quite suddenly to make room for a pan-galactic bypass, and that only the dolphins (who weren't what they appeared to be), the mice (who really weren't here), and a few humans survived. The Earth we currently live on is a replacement, created as compensation, because the demolition contractors that destroyed the original Earth got the address wrong. We also know that the Ultimate Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything is (ready? drum roll....): 42. That's right; 42. A lesson in getting your questions to be, perhaps, more specific.

The reason for my concern is that Sundays binary date, 10/10/10, when converted to decimal is (ready? drum roll...): 42. That's right; 42. Coincidence you might say. Arbitrary you might say. Did you know that astronomers and physicists have recently re-computed the Hubble Constant (a value that helps explain The Universe), and have concluded that the best approximation available for this value is (ready? drum roll...): 42. That's right; 42. Another coincidence? I think not.

Now I'm not suggesting that the Earth will be destroyed this Sunday by some directionally challenged demolition contractor. Nor am I suggesting that the whole concept of coincidences is a palliative invention of the human psyche. But, just in case (after all, I was a Boy Scout ), I'll be keeping a towel (and a hip flask) handy all day. You've been warned. Good luck!

Peace, Love, and Precision Guidance,

jim

(Jim Sorrells is a Sr. Consultant, Principal, and Co-Founder of JSA Computer Systems Inc. located in beautiful Arneytown NJ. His research interests are Forensic Analysis of Large Scale Organizational Failures, Aesthetic Arrangement of Cellulose Based Structural Materials, and Qualitative Evaluations of Grain and Other Exotic Organic Distillates. He holds an MS in Electrical Engineering from Rutgers University.)


Categories: History


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Let Freedom Ring
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Published Saturday, August 28, 2010 @ 9:48 AM EDT
Aug 28 2010

August 28, 1963

"I am happy to join with you today, in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

"Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity.

"But one hundred years later, we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize an appalling condition.

"In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

"It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check -- a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God's children. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.

"It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment and to underestimate the determination of the Negro. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

"But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

"We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

"And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

"I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

"Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

"I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

"I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."

"I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.

"I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

"I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

"I have a dream today.

"I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose governor's lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers.

"I have a dream today.

"I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

"This is our hope. This is the faith with which I return to the South. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

"This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."

"And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

"Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

"Let freedom ring from the curvaceous peaks of California!

"But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

"Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

"Let freedom ring from every hill and every molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

"When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"


Categories: Classic, Daily Show, History, Hypocrisy, Jon Stewart, Martin Luther King, Jr., Video, WTF?


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Interpretations of independence
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Published Sunday, July 04, 2010 @ 3:29 AM EDT
Jul 04 2010

Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died on July 4, 1826, exactly 50 years after the adoption of the Declaration of Independence by the Second Continental Congress,

On July 4, 1997, Charles Kuralt died. A journalist for CBS, he had a passion for America and American history. During the Bicentennial in 1976, he prepared a segment for The CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite that remains the best "news report" of what happened in Philadelphia 200 years earlier:

Another wonderful interpretation of the tensions before the vote is the song Is Anybody There? from the award-winning musical 1776:

The movie airs today at 2:30 pm on Turner Classic Movies. If you think history is dry and uninteresting, make certain you watch this film.


Categories: History, Music, Video


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Quote of the day
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Published Sunday, May 09, 2010 @ 11:54 AM EDT
May 09 2010

When you argue stupid, you campaign stupid. When you campaign stupid, you win stupid. And when you win stupid, you govern stupid.
-David Frum

(from "The Tea Pary Jacobins" by Mark Lilla)


Categories: History, Hypocrisy, Quotes of the day


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Ironic, but not surprising...
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Published Wednesday, May 05, 2010 @ 9:21 AM EDT
May 05 2010

...that the phrase "Miranda rights" is derived from the Supreme Court case Miranda v Arizona.


Categories: History, Supreme Court


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Forty years ago today
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Published Tuesday, May 04, 2010 @ 12:03 PM EDT
May 04 2010

I was in my junior year at Homestead High School. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's "Teach Your Children" was on the charts at the time. The quartet released "Ohio" about a month after the killings.

A grand jury indicted eight of the Guardsmen, but the charges were dismissed by a judge who deemed the case against them too weak to warrant a trial.


Categories: History, Video


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