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What is it about nice people that attract total idiots?Nice people are martyrs. Idiots are evangelists.

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Friday, January 31, 2014

Time Machine Week 105

(Exhales, calms down from last post.  Fits on plastic smiley face.)

Today is January 31, 1972.  Londonderry, Northern Ireland, is cleaning up from yesterday's "Bloody Sunday".  This story was mentioned once before on Time Machine... I just find it interesting that the song The Men Behind The Wire was #1 in Ireland at the time, seeing as both the song's subject and the reason for the march were the same- the treatment of men in the British Prison camps in Ireland.

This is Time Machine for the week that was, and it is the week Pete Seeger died.



Pete is the man that brought us Where Has All The Flowers Gone,  If I Had A Hammer, and Turn Turn Turn.  He was a man that sought a utopian dream for the world... and was labeled a communist for it.  But a moment to hear his side...

 "I still call myself a communist, because communism is no more what Russia made of it than Christianity is what the churches make of it."


Seeger died Monday, aged 94.

Elsewhere on the show:  A top ten with no new members; a six degrees that kind of leads to the Harlem Globetrotters; the seemingly ubiquitous Jeff Barry;  a 45 at 45 with the Goodees- or is it the Goodies?;  and #3 of the "Beatles songs turning 50 this year" club.  Shall we?

Not those goodies- do I look like Marshawn Lynch?

Starting off as usual with the tops of other charts, we have another new #1 in France.  Called Elle, Je Ne Veux Qu'elle (approximately "It, I Do Not Want It"), it is sung by a chap named -at birth- Guy Bayle, though at this point he is going by Ringo... or, sometimes, Ringo Willy Cat. 

  I'm listening right now... I'll let you know.

(UPDATE:  Not bad, in a Bobby Sherman sort of way.)

Also changing toppers this week is Switzerland, who'll be squeezing in for a week between Middle Of The Road hits, a band called Springwater, led by an Englishman named Phil Cordell, who will later hit with a banjo instrumental as "Dan the Banjo Man".  This time, the song by Springwater is called I Will Return.  Again, I'll let you know.

(UPDATE:  I really like this, a spacey instrumental much like those ELO does- think Fire On High without the fast parts.)

Also, South Africa joins Australia and New Zealand with having discovered John Lennon's Imagine.  Meanwhile, in America, American Pie reigns in Pittsburgh, Chicago (on WLS) and Minneapolis (on KDWB);  Let's Stay Together is at the top in LA; The other half of Chicago has Stay With Me; the other half of Minneapolis has Without You;  San Diego has Day After Day, and Detroit remains united behind I Gotcha.

And that brings us to the hot 100 debuts this week.  Out of 9, we'll look at 3:  Remember Mr. Penguin by Lunar Funk from last time?  It comes in at 97;  Joe Tex's I Gotcha, the toast of Detroit, comes in at 84; and at #77, Neil Young and Heart of Gold.



Before we grow old, we move on to the birthday songs for this week.  (Can one age in a time machine?  Food for thought, existentialists!)  Turning 30, we have the first chart run of UB40's Red Red Wine (in which it peaked at 34; it would return in 2 years to hit #1), John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band's Tender Years, Paul Young's Come Back And Stay...


... oh, yeah, and Michael Jackson's Thriller.

Turning 35, Dire Straits' Sultans Of Swing; Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers with Bustin' Loose; and Sister Sledge with He's The Greatest Dancer.  Turning 40, we have Wings with Jet; Carly Simon and James Taylor's duet on Mockingbird; and the first chart run for Hall and Oates' She's Gone- the one that will end at #60, unlike the one that will see them in the top ten 2 years later.  The Classics IV turn 45 with Traces; and turning fifty are the third Beatles' hit in a matter of three weeks, Please Please Me.  Oh, and the Four Seasons with Dawn (Go Away). Blow out the candles...

I'm going to hold onto the big mover and dropper, as they both have parts to play upcoming.  So I guess it's off to the 45 at 45, which I shall listen to as we go.  (One more time for any newbies:  this is the 45 that was at 45, 45 years ago.)

(UPDATE:  If you don't like Leader Of The Pack, you won't like this;  if you do like it, why bother?)

The song is called Condition Red, by a group called the Goodees.  They were three girls- Kay Evans, Sandra Jackson, and Judy Williams, from a Memphis high school.  The song is lyrically similar (and somewhat music and FX wise) to Leader Of The Pack by the Shangri-Las.  Which is no surprise, as both were written by one George "Shadow" Morton.  Now George got his start with the same outfit as last week's 45/six degrees hero Jeff Barry and his wife Ellie Goldwich.  In fact, Jeff thought George was hitting on her and demanded that he prove he was really a songwriter, by writing a song.  So he went out to his car and put together a song you'll remember... then took an unknown group called the Shangri-Las to do a demo (a demo that included another unknown named Billy Joel on the piano).  That song was Remember (Walking In The Sand).  Morton went on to compose other hits for the Shangri-Las and another unknown band called- believe this or not- the Goodies!  In fact, Leader was supposed to go to them, but the bosses didn't want to waste a potential hit on unknowns (see the theme here?) and made him give it to the Shangri-Las.  And yes, there's more to the story- but that would turn it into a six degrees, and we did that LAST week.





So before we get off to the top forty, let's due the almost-but-not-quite for the week.  One of them is actually the big dropper- falling 53 notches to #78 (from its peak of 25); and that is White Lies, Blue Eyes by Bullet.  Think falls out of the top 40 as well, plunging 38 spots from peaking at 29 to #67 with the controversial hit Once You Understand.  Not quite so drastic are Rare Earth's Hey Big Brother, which slips but a single notch from 24 to 25; and the Honey Cone with One Monkey Don't Spoil No Show, which slips from 14 to 21.


While we have nobody entering the top ten, we have a whopping 8 making it into the top 40.  At 40, up 13, are The Raiders with about their last gasp (in fact, BB peaked it at #51), a tune called Country Wine.  Hamilton, Joe Frank, and Reynolds edge in at 39, up 4 spots with Daisy May;  The Emotions, who finally got noticed in the late seventies with big hits Best Of My Love and Boogie Wonderland, move up 9 to #38 with Show Me How ( a song that BB peaked at #52.)  Carole King moves up 16 to #36 with Sweet Seasons;  Robert John, the man who would bring us Sad Eyes later on, climbs ten to #35 with his remake of The Lion Sleeps Tonight; and the big mover comes in at 32, up 22 notches- Bread with Everything I Own.  The Osmonds come in at 30, up 18 with Down By The Lazy River; and the Carpenters take high debut with Hurting Each Other, going from 42 to 28.

You think I'm gonna tell you who dropped out of the top ten now.  How many times must I tell you, nobody dropped out!  Just run the top ten, please!

Melanie almost dropped out, but she put the breaks on at #10, down from 2, with Brand New Key.

The Stylistics edge up a spot to #9 with You Are Everything.

Also up a spot, Joe Simon's Drowning In A Sea Of Love climbs to #8.

And at seven, our six degrees.

Scorpio falls from 4 to 7 for Dennis Coffey and his Detroit Guitar Band.  Dennis was part of Motown's Funk Brothers, and among the literally dozens of hits he was on, he scored a "Blacksploitation flick" called Black Belt Jones.  One of the actors on said movie should be familiar to you- Scatman Crothers, most famous for being Louie the garbage man on Chico And The Man, as well as the voice of Hong Kong Phooey, among others.


Hong Kong Phooey, number one super-guy...

As it turns out, he was also the voice of Meadowlark Lemon on the old Harlem Globetrotters cartoon show.  Like most cartoons of the era, the Globetrotters always had a music interlude at the climax, and they actually did an entire soundtrack record for this one(to which only Meadowlark added some backup vocals).  It was produced by- can you guess- Jeff Barry, and included 5 songs written or co-written by the resurgent Neil Sedaka, including a pair of released singles like Rainy Day Bells, and this one, which was my favorite:




Believe it or not, the soundtrack  also contained a song co-written  by Barry and Ron Dante- you know, the voice of the Archies...and the Cuff Links... and apparently, while we're on cartoons, The Amazing Chan And The Chan Clan.

And if you want REALLY messed up, how about this:  Keye Luke, who played "Number One Son" in the Charlie Chan films of the 40's and 50's was the voice of Charlie Chan in the cartoon- and was the ONLY Chinese blood  that EVER played Chan in ANY screen adaptation!  Or how about this one- Ed Begley, Sr., played Chan on the radio.  In addition to his many film roles, and fathering St. Elsewhere's Ed Begley, Jr., he was Senator Allbright in the cult classic Wild In The Streets- the movie that brought us Max Frost and the Troopers, and their hit Shape Of Things To Come!

The Jackson Five manage to start climbing again, moving 2 to #6 with Sugar Daddy.

Jonathon Edwards holds at 5 with Sunshine.

Betty Wright cleans up 3 to #4 with Clean Up Woman. 

Hmm... you know, my room IS kinda messy...
Badfinger likewise climbs three to #3 with Day After Day.


Al Green moves into the runner-up slot with Let's Stay Together.


And number one for the third week in the last four...

(pretend you see a picture here...I've already broke the rule once for him, and I'm too lazy to find and change the sign...)


...Don McLean with American Pie!!!!!!!


And there you have it for yet another week.




Thursday, January 30, 2014

Beware of Buzzkill

First off, as Charo once said, I have something to get off my chest (to which Jack Albertson replied, "This is a job for Superman!").  And it began with a post by my good yet liberal friend Roland Hansen which discussed the validity of this:



Now, my comment here is this: I AM SICK TO DEATH OF LIBERALS (not Mr. Hansen, and not most of those who will read this) TELLING ME MY PROBLEM WITH THE PRESIDENT IS RACIAL.  I dislike him for a lot of things politically;  I dislike his disingenuousness, coming across as if he cares about the little guy, when as a shill in Chicago he defended landlords who literally kicked poor people out of tenements at the coldest time of year.  I dislike that he wears the title of Commander In Chief, only to hold forces back while an ambassador got slaughtered, and then lied about why he was killed.  I don't mind his black skin, his big ears, or his dippy wife.  As I told Roland, Col. Wilkerson is full of it.

True story: when I was a security guard some 25 years ago, my Lieutenant watched a biracial couple exit our factory, and said, "That's just a shame."

"What do you mean?"  said I.

"The kids they have," he replied, "All the trouble they'll have because they're biracial..."

Now, I want you to understand, this was a good Christian man, not prejudiced in the least, expressing a genuine concern for such children.  But I told him, "That will be because of people like you, thinking of them as different."

Which brings me to why I ultimately decided to bring this up.  If you haven't seen this yet, let me give you the two-cent tour:  When the commercial for Cheerios came out- you know the one, where the white mom tells the biracial girl that Cheerios are good for the heart, so she pours a bunch on the chest of her black dad- an MSNBC tweeter came out with this:



Because ALL of us right wingers hate blacks, right?  Then "right winger" Michelle Malkin (herself a Philippine-American) went on twitter offensive, asking right wing mixed families to tweet pictures of THEIR families to MSNBC.  If you use the hashtag, #MyRightWingBiracialFamily, you can count for yourself the number of responses- and so could MSNBC.  It wasn't long before not one, but TWO apologies went up over the now-deleted tweet.  But those of you who follow such things know that this is just one of SEVERAL incidents of race-baiting used by MSNBC, including the infamous joking about Mitt Romney's grandchild.

The sad truth of this is, the liberal side is being represented (not "composed of", but "represented by") by people who cannot understand why anyone would disagree with them, and thus, any dispute with Obama HAS to be because he's black.  And he plays right along, too much of a coward IMHO to admit that a lot of people just think he's wrong.  So he and his handlers pump up the race card- and find idiots like this Wilkerson to go along with it.

So here it is.  You have every right to have your opinions about politics.  I'll allow anyone to have their say here.  But the first one of you that tells me one more time "You don't like Obama because you are a racist," is out of here.  No one has yet, and I certainly hope no one ever does.  But... there IS a line.  And frankly, I'm standing on the other side of it with a 2X4 for the next one that crosses it.


-----------------------------------

In the meantime, Scrappy and I did manage to get out for about fifteen minutes yesterday!  I thought it a neat idea for him that we go into the small wood behind the apartment.  Unfortunately, this involved going through a bank of almost knee-deep snow, seeing and then following a pair of deer through brush thick enough that I had to turn my back to it to get through (and believe me, I was praying I didn't trip), and ending up coming out into much the same depth of snow we started out in.  I call it, "The fifteen minutes that lasted forever."

-------------------------------

Next up, when one of my fine Australian friends mentioned an upcoming trip to Perth, I thought about the fun I had last summer following the Australian Hockey league, and got thinking about the three guys that ditched their teams mid season that I'd been keeping an eye on.  Well, Michael Forney was easy- he'd been with my VSV team in the Austrian League all year- until right before they entered the new year.  As the playoffs started, VSV told him they "wanted a different kind of player" (read: one that led the Aussie league in scoring for half a year, rather than one who had just 11 goals on the season) and cut him.  However, he quickly got a new job, and hopes to start Sunday for Sparta Sarpsborg in the Norwegian League.  (Most of this info from a taped interview with Forney on the League site.)

Not quite so good for the Ouellette brothers.  Brother Travis, who had went to camp last fall with the ECHL's Bakersfield team, didn't make that cut, but in mid-December he caught on with the CHLs Arizona Sundogs.  Ten games later, he was waived there, and ended up back in the ECHL with the Greenville Road Warriors.  But after just 5 games, the team suspended him yesterday, and took him off the roster.  No word yet on why.  Track record says he quit the team, but I don't know for sure.

Brother Britt hooked up with the Thousand Island Privateers of the Federal League.  Not that Britt isn't doing well there- he leads his team in scoring- but ... I don't mean to say the FHL is about as low as you can go in North American hockey and still get paid, BUT... there's only 4 teams in the league.


-----------------------------

Finally, a sad note for me.  A similar situation to Saturday's post is springing up with me and a blog friend.  This time, it seems like agreeing with 75% of their point isn't good enough.  I didn't agree with 100% so I got the "I don't know why we're even friends" bit... again.  Now, the other thing is being resolved (hopefully) by e-mail, so do NOT attach any of the following to this. (Read this again- THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE OTHER THING, which is hopefully being resolved.)  But this is the price we pay for the polarized society we are building.  "If I don't agree with you, I'm just not going to listen any more."  Do any of you really think that a political argument (if you even want to call it that) warrants ending a friendship?  I don't and I hope cooler heads prevail.  But damn it, I am sick and tired of hearing that friends cannot disagree.  Of being told I said something I didn't.  Of being blown off when I try to explain.  Even a e-friendship should be built on mutual respect and compromise.

So, here's this, too.  I don't require everyone to agree with me.  I don't mind discussion, and being a Martin, we see arguments as a spectator sport.  But anyone else comes around and says, "I don't know why we're even friends"- bringing personal friendship into places where they DON'T belong, like political discussions- I will take you at your word and say "See ya."  I try to walk on eggshells to make sure I don't wrongfully rope someone into a blanket statement I'm making. (See the "(not "composed of", but "represented by") " comment above.)  Sometimes I don't manage it, and sometimes a person might gloss over my attempt and feel they got stepped on.  But I try, damn you, I tried.  And I'm THIS close to not trying anymore.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

All the things we're not going to talk about.

Of late, I've stayed away from the blatantly political post.  Why?  The black ribbon off to the right there is ample enough evidence of how I feel about the current "state of the Union".  But today, I'm going to touch on some of the things I might talk about if I was talking about them.

(Sort of like "planned disingenuousness", if I may.)

First off, I read (yes, read) a report that FoxNews alerted me to.  It was called "Education or Reputation? A Look at America's Top Liberal Arts Colleges" and was an exhaustive survey of 29 highly ranked Liberal Arts colleges by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni.  This group is an independent non-profit founded in 1995 whose stated goal is "to support Liberal Arts education, uphold high academic standards, safeguard the free exchange of ideas, and ensure that the next generation receives an intellectually rich, high-quality education at an affordable price."  In it, it pointed out three main problems.

First, that the true liberal arts curriculum, where you start out with core subjects such as history, foreign language, composition, literature, economics, math, and science, just doesn't exist anymore.  Out of these subjects, and if you remove the three military academies which cuts it down to 25 schools, you find 13 have a comp requirement; 2 for literature; 11 in languages; one in history (which can be fulfilled by taking classes such as "History of electronic music dance"); 0 in Econ; 17 watered down requirements in math, and 20 likewise in science.  And some of these requirements can be "fulfilled with courses like the one mentioned above, along with:

Food in the Middle East: History, Identity, and Culture (Middlebury)
Mad Men and Mad Women (about the TV show, also Middlebury)
Chess (Grinnell)
The Ethical Shopper (Grinnell)
Bad Words (Grinnell)
Prostitutes in Modern Western Culture (Bowdoin)
History of Hip Hop (also Bowdoin)
'Bad' Women Make Great History: Gender, Identity, and Society in Modern Europe 1789-1945 (likewise)

The second point raised is that freedom of speech and intellectual expression has been cut drastically in favor of "civility", which is apparently required only of "certain" students.  They used a study by another group called the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) that did an exhaustive survey of the same schools ( with the exceptions of the Military Academies and Vassar), grading on a scale of green light (free speech not significantly imperiled), yellow light (policies of the administration either restrict or could be used to unreasonably restrict free speech), and red light (at least one policy that clearly and substantially restricts free speech).  Of the remaining 25, there were ZERO greens, 11 yellows and 14 reds.  And stories from Vassar left no doubt that had they been surveyed, it would have been 15 reds.

Third point was that because of point one, GPAs were going up while (according to employers) the value of that grade was plummeting.  They found the average student was spending 15 hours a week in the classroom and working on classes another 17 outside class, and then would come into the workforce unready and unwilling for a 40+ hour workweek.  On top of that, tuitions for this lesser education were skyrocketing- $50K+ total expenses for ONE YEAR in many cases.  And this was because when expenses came up, most boards of trustees would automatically grant the increase without EVER discussing increased endowments.  Some of these expenses were due to building projects in which the college being endowed with a new building forgot to account for the fact that a new building will require some 70% of its original cost in maintenance over its life; but most was laid at the feet of an ever mushrooming administrative bureaucracy, topped off by University presidents who routinely made more that Barack Obama does.  I was going to do an in-depth on this, but I'll spare you.

Next thing we won't talk about is the State Of The Union Speech last night.  (I mentioned a couple of times how every time I saw the acronym "SOTU", my mind read "STFU".)  I didn't watch.  But a lot has been made of the President's limited raising of the minimum wage.  Gives you that warm and fuzzy feeling, don't it?  Now people can make more money who really need it, right?  Well, let me give you an example of how this is really gonna play out if he extends it to everyone.

I used to work at a place that started everyone at 7.25.  Laurie and I worked there for 20+ years and never topped 10.50.  Now, you want to START at 10.10?  Well, here's what will happen.  This company is NOT going to take a 39% hit to salaries across the board, not when their employees are mainly migrant Mexicans of questionable legality.  They will close the plants they can (likely Fort Wayne and Sanford, NC);  They will leave open the most modern plant (Amarillo) in some reduced capacity; use Rancho Cucumonga as an import point; and send 95% of the work to China.  Leaving Ft Wayne to try to absorb all those Mexicans into a workforce that they are by and large not going to find anything in.  Then what happens?  Do they go back to Mexico?  No, they go on welfare and food stamps.  By doing what appears to be warm and fuzzy if you DON'T stop and think about it, Obama drives more of our economy into China's arms and increases his constituency ( the "employed-by-government-aid") at one blow.  But we won't talk about that.

The third thing we won't talk about is something I listened to on a TED talk (Google it, it's a great place to learn stuff) yesterday.  A lady who had went from police chief to attorney general (in Jersey somewhere) who did an excellent job of explaining how proper statistical tracking can aid both police, prosecutors, and judges in stopping crime.  And I had just one problem with it.  She gave the premise that out of our overflowing prison population, only 5% were actually violent offender who NEEDED to be kept away from society.  Her main point was developing a statistical matrix that would aid prosecutors and judges to know for certain just who was violent, who was likely to be a repeat offender, and who was likely to skip bail.  Her secondary point was that using this matrix they could do a better job of keeping violent repeat offenders in prison and "harmless" non-violent offenders out.  She used the warm-and-fuzzy example of a dude that was homeless and stole four blankets on a cold night spending 8 months in jail waiting for trial.

But I think to myself, say you let the soft offenders off easy.  The drug dealers, the sellers of stolen goods, the petty thieves.  How then do you discourage THEM, when it is their professions that many times lead to increased violence in others?  Fine them?  Hell, most of them have no money or property to take.  Home detention?  How much of our city do you want to turn into a prison- and how much of a deterrent is it really?  Or how about white collar crime?  Is it going to be on a "just give it back and we'll forget all about it" basis?  Bernie Madoff wasn't violent- not physically.  How do people like him fit the picture?  Before you use this matrix as a way to keep people OUT of prison as well as keeping them in, you'd better look at what you're gonna do with the 95% you are left with. But let's not talk about that.

Finally, let's not talk about our "computer freedom".  A friend told me he had a post "moved back to draft" by Blogger because someone had complained about a picture he had put on his blog off the internet.  It had a link he could use to find out which the offending picture was.  He told me it turned out to be a picture from Mountain View, California.  This set off a red light for two reasons.  I have this feedjit gizmo over here on the right, that tells you where your pageviews are coming from.  I have often seen "Mountain View, CA" on this list, popping in on seemingly random posts.  Enough that I've been just under my curiosity limit of seeking it out.  Then I googled Mountain View- and learned that it was the HOME of Google.  Hmmmm....

So, you know me, I went to my feedjit to see how many times MVC had been searching me lately.  And of course, there were were NO recent searches from Mountain View, California.

There are, however, TWO searches from... "Mountain View, ARKANSAS."

Coincidence?  I wonder...

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Iceman cometh

When we got up this morning, the weather radio said it was minus -16.  My gauge read just south of -10.  Two hours later, I'm happy to say we are at a whopping -3.6. (-19.7 C, or 253.3 K).  It's so cold Blogger's having save problems (oh wait, that happens pretty much all the time).  So I've been reading everybody's blogs trolling for ideas and wondering what to talk about.

First, how about this year's AtoZ blogging challenge?  For those who don't play (which includes me), you register over on Arlee Bird's blog, come up with a theme, and then every non-Sunday in April you do a post on the theme using the letters of the alphabet.  Now, I never do this because I can't spell I don't like to be limited in subject matter, usually don't post on Thursday because I'm busy typing up Time Machine, and because of Time Machine, which I would be hard pressed to wrap around D, J, O, and T posts.  But I do enjoy those who make the efforts, especially the contortions that Al Penwasser has done to get his.

Second, how about that weather.  I've been listening to people from Texas complaining that they might get freezing rain or-gasp- snow!  (Just kidding, no curses please.)  Our snow is now ice.  Yesterday Scrappy's first two bathroom trips were a) after breakfast- outside, poop immediately with no turning of circles, come straight in; b) after dinner some 9 hours later, outside, pee immediately, come back in.  Now this morning, he actually managed a few sniffs and a couple circles; but when he squatted, the first turd said, "Screw this" and went back in, and he was forced to make a second circle before successfully completing the job.

Next up, our esteemed meteorologist Greg Shoup tweeted a site that will figure your Twitter stats, and you know me and stats.  (At least, most of you do.)  So I tried it and found out I'm ranked 114,519,718th on Twitter.  Now as of the start of the year, there were allegedly 645,750,000 active tweeters, but it said that only about 60% actually do more than watch tweets.  So subtract the lurkers and you get...uhmm... 387,450,000.  Which means I'm actually ahead of about 30% of tweeters... But with only 15 followers, who cares?

I didn't find enough stuff for a Martin World News post, but I did find some interesting (maybe) tidbits.  For example, a British survey by Oxfam International ranked the best and worst places to eat, nation-wise, based on "food availability, prices, quality and the health outcomes of people's diets. "  Here's their top ten:

Netherlands
France
Switzerland
Denmark
Sweden
Austria
Belgium
Ireland
Italy
Portugal

Because of "obesity struggles", the US of A got 21st and Canada 25th.  The worst places, from worst down, were:

Chad
Angola
Ethiopia
Madagascar
Yemen
Niger
Burundi
Mozambique
Zimbabwe
Sierra Leone

So much for African cuisine.  The poll was found by me on a Russian website, where they were quite happy with Russia being 44th- behind the Ukraine (33rd) but ahead of Belarus (57th).  They added an interesting caveat at the end of the article:

Russia came in 44th, scoring fairly high on the availability of food, with few people going hungry. But it lost points for food quality, fairly high levels of diabetes and obesity, and steep prices. Ouch!

Another neat thing I learned in the search is that former New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin's bribery trail started jury selection Monday.  If you are new to this blog, let me tell you about why I find this nice.  For a week we watched Hurricane Katrina move ever closer to NOLA and grow ever stronger.  Nagin did next to nothing.  Bloggers like me were writing NOLA newspapers, TV stations, begging them to prepare for evacuate.  On Saturday night (it hit late Sunday), I listened to a live interview with Nagin on WWL radio.  He told the interviewer, "I thought I was handling this hurricane thing pretty well" until his dinner was interrupted by then-NHC head Max Mayfield who told him, "You HAVE to evacuate those people NOW!"  His response, he said, was, "I can't order an evacuation UNTIL OUR LAWYERS LOOK AT THE SITUATION", and told Max he'd try to get an order issued the next morning.  And then, when all those people were crammed in the shithole the Superdome became, he accused President Bush of racism and letting them down.  Now, he's on trial for accepting bribes from high-powered contractors for his help in getting them the plum jobs in rebuilding.  IMHO, if ever there was a reason for bribery being a hanging offense, let me put the loop over his head myself.

Ahem, breathe deep, lower blood pressure.  Let's go to Mental Floss, where I found a list of "65 Facts That Will Blow Your Mind".  There were some good ones...10, though, I already knew, including the one about Portland, Oregon, draining 8 million gallons of water out of a reservoir because a teenager peed in it.  Here though, are some I didn't know...

5- A California woman once sued the makers of Cap'n Crunch, because CC with Crunchberries didn't really have berries.

7- During WWII, German measles and dachshunds were called "liberty measles" and "liberty hounds".

8- A 2008 survey found 58% of British teens thought Sherlock Holmes was a real person and 20% thought Winston Churchill was not.

18- A 2009 search for the Loch Ness Monster found zero monsters and 100,000 golf balls.

20- New Mexico State's first graduating class (1893) had one graduate- and he was shot to death before getting his sheepskin.

35- The Arkansas School for the Deaf's nickname is the Leopards.  The Deaf Leopards, get it?

44- If you start counting at one and spell the numbers out as you go, you'll hit 1,000 before you use the letter "a".

46- There's a technical name for ice cream headaches:
sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia.

48- The Goodyear Blimp is the official bird of Redondo Beach, CA.  I guess they missed the memo.

49- In 2009, Beaver College changed its name to Arcadia; web searches for the College were being blocked by anti-porn filters.

63- Purdue University, among its many accomplishments, invented a machine to find out it takes an average of 364 licks to get to the tootsie roll center of a tootsie pop.

There are some more cute ones, and I'll probably share them on another post.

Finally, how 'bout one out of the old spam comment box?  Here's the latest little gem:

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"More Obamacare website is a worst-case online scenario."  Rare wisdom from a spam comment... almost makes up for the fact they neglected to put their hyperlink in properly.

Wow, it's positive 0.7 now.  Here, anyway; officially, it's still -7.  Wonder if they'll open the pool...

Monday, January 27, 2014

More of "What You Want"

Before I start, let me say that, yes, I'm laid off another week.  Seems (our biggest customer) is feverishly prepping for a trade show and won't be issuing any orders this week.  So there is just a skeleton crew working.  And as I have flesh on me, I was deemed "unnecessary".  Fine with me.  It is currently 2 degrees F outside at 9:30 AM (-16.67 C, 256.4 K), and I had little interest in getting out anyway.  I did go out to make sure the car starts, and was shocked, I tell you, to see what looked like a big spidery crack in the windshield- not to worry, it was just frost posing as a crack.  And thankfully the brutally cold wind had cleared the car of snow for the most part.

But not to whine overmuch- I follow polar explorer Felicity Aston on twitter, and she tweeted yesterday about ice fishermen in far eastern Russia (the "Pole of Cold") drilling through a meter of ice to ice fish at -49 F.  Frankly, I'd eat my foot first, if I could defrost it.


felicity_aston@felicity_aston 3h
18th Jan open water in Russia is considered holy. Swim and all your sins are cleansed. No one took the plunge at -52 C 
 
 
 

Anyway, I did that "(name the place) wants..." searches again, this time doing the nations of Europe.  And I found that most of the "flyspeck" nations- Andorra, San Marino, Luxembourg, Vatican City, Monaco, and Liechtenstein, which combine for an area about twice that of Allen County, Indiana ( and without Luxembourg, about half the size of the East Allen Schools District) are content and want nothing.  Joining them in bliss are Moldova, Bosnia, Montenegro, Albania, and the Czech Republic- although the Czech Rep. is concerned that Sarah Palin wants to invade them. Another kind of sidelight concern arises in the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Slovakia, where the farmer wants a wife.

Of course the main concern in several nations, as it was in Wisconsin, is to get One Direction and/or Justin Bieber to come there.  Slovakia and Lithuania want both of these highly talented musical acts (here's where that "sarcasm font" would come in handy), while Bulgaria, Croatia, and Hungary are more concerned with 1D and Slovenia (who BTW is also broadcasting the Super Bowl next Sunday) is more concerned with our darling little traffic violator.  Tangently, Belgium wants Eric Saade, who is apparently the Swedish Bieber.

Yep, send 'em One Direction... straight to Croatia.


Another major concern seems to be "getting their gold back", although I'm not sure where it went.  The Netherlands, Germany, and Switzerland seem to be missing their gold, which is a real problem for Germany, as Greece wants them "to pay" (presumably for all the civil service candy jobs that drove them into bankruptcy).

Of course, there are the usual territorial concerns:  Portugal wants to join Spain; Italy wants to buy back some island; Denmark wants Scania (the southern tip of Sweden); Latvia would like to be part of Sweden (but have Russian as an official language); Lithuania, like Italy, has an island they want to buy; Estonia is a little less picky than Latvia, wishing only to be Scandinavian (ie part of either Sweden, Denmark, or Norway); Ukraine wants to join Russia, while Belarus wants to marry Russia (good luck with that one); Hungary wants Transylvania back, presumably to gain royalties from vampire flicks; Romania wants Moldova; and Russia, as I may have mentioned when I did the 50 states, wants Alaska. Oh, and as usual, Spain wants Gibraltar, and Belgium wants to split in two.

Some of the political causes desired include:  Spain wants to tax the sun; France would like the Statue of Liberty back (are they gonna pay shipping?  If so, throw in the UN and call it a deal); Kosovo (who kinda already has it) and Ireland (who does have it) want independence; several countries, including Britain and Finland want to leave the EU, while Latvia, the Ukraine, Croatia, and Serbia want to join;  Germany wants to talk to Eric Snowden; Italy wants, peace, work, and calm; Sweden wants your garbage- and if they can't have it, they'll take Norway's; the Ukraine wants to ban SpongeBob, little radical that he is; Kosovo wants a national soccer team; and Romania wants Communism (because it worked out so well the first time).




Some nations have a little less noble desires:  Britain, so sorry to all the gun-control fans out there, wants its guns back; Denmark wants to burn the Koran; Norway wants to bomb Israel; while Bulgaria merely wants action on Hezbollah.  Those dastards in Malta want me dead- but don't laugh, because Norway wants YOU.

And some things are beyond explanation. Ireland wants "to bring" and "to renegotiate"; Belgium wants to see Romano briefs (you figure that one out, let me know); the Netherlands wants to build a mountain (but where would they put it?); Finland wants collateral (so don't go there for a loan).

My briefs?  You want my briefs?



Finally, Portugal doesn't want to give Finland collateral, so they're trying to get out of debt by selling soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo to Spain for 160 million Euros.  That will pay  a whopping 1% of their national debt.  Just think what they could do if they had Brazil's team!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Comments and respect

You ever have one of those things that gnaws at you in the early morning hours and won't let you sleep- the bone you can't stop chewing?  Well, I've had one for a couple of days now, and I'm tired of chewing.  So here it is.

I know the world doesn't always agree with me.  I try not to take it to heart. And when someone disagrees with me in my blog comments section, I try to treat the subject with respect.  I can only recall three times there were ever major "disagreements" on the comment section.  The first was during the fabled "What Government Is For" post, when Joshua, "anonymous" and I ended up in a battle over atheism that got snarky at times, but with one exception I don't feel got disrespectful on a personal level.  The second was when the "publicist for the great Delaney Bramlett" got after me over who really wrote the Carpenters' song Superstar.  Despite being accused of deleting information I had posted- he just looked in the wrong comment section, and I told him so- I kept my cool, and after he realized he made an oops on that point, he never responded again.  The third was during the first tilt with the recently mentioned "John Rambo", and he's a special case. (Boy, is he!)

So the other day I was commenting on the blog post of someone I thought respected me, someone who has pimped me as I have him, and someone whose opinion and knowledge I respect, though don't always agree with.  He has a certain broad "hot button" issue that I try to stay away from, and this was such a post.  There was, however, a certain (I thought) innocuous side point, though, I thought I could safely touch on.  I prefaced it with a couple lines which I thought clarified I wasn't trying to tread on his sacred ground.  I then looked at the innocuous side point as it related TO ME (as I thought the phrases "I took it.." and, "...as I see it..." made plain.  Then I tried (and failed, obviously) to humorously point out yet again I was trying to avoid his sacred cow, because I knew he had researched it thoroughly.  What I got in reply started with...

Whatever.

To be honest, the biggest mystery to me in the entire universe is why you still bother reading my blog at all.


 
This was then followed up with:

Do you "SINCERELY" believe you've earned the right to disagree with me?

Which the only real disagreement with him I expressed in my entire comment was basically I knew we didn't agree on his main point, so I was going to avoid it.

At first, I was mostly hurt by all this, and I let him know that, along with where I thought he missed the boat on my comment.  He came back somewhat calmer, explaining this and that reason why he might have taken it wrong.  But then, he added...

"Maybe" there was a signal mix-up here. I be lookin' at this later.

As the days have gone by, there has yet been no return response, though he has answered others who were, shall we say, more amenable to his POV.  And that's fine.  But here's the thing.  I'm over the hurt, and have passed on to angry.

I don't HAVE to "earn the right" to disagree with anyone, subject matter notwithstanding.  The Constitution guarantees me freedom of speech.  It also gives him the right to say what he wants, fine again.  But this is a matter of disrespect.  My opinions were valid because they were expressed as "my opinions" and they did NOT take away from his opinions at all.  I realize that we have the right and the privilege to act as imperator on our own pages.  I choose not to, because I would like to see people come back.

Arrogance showing again on the choice of putting quotes around "maybe".  As if I was barefoot in the snow at Canossa seeking absolution.  I don't need absolution for saying my piece.  Particularly when the other person somehow twisted my meaning out of all recognition.

In the end, maybe my mistake was at the beginning of the original post, I said, "You know me..."  Maybe none of us know each other as bloggers.  I try to wear heart on sleeve at all times.  I don't hide how I feel.  I figure that, if you've heard from me enough times, you have a fairly good Idea of who I am and how I roll.  Sometimes, I take that the other way too, and figure I can be myself in your comments sections.  I guess I'll have to revisit that, because there was a disconnect between me and this fellow I never saw coming.  And it wasn't the "disagreement" that I tried not to put in my comment, but the level of respect one for the other.  To him, for a moment at least, I became an ant on a shoe.

Please, if you comment, do not bash this fellow.  This is one thing against a very different background of history between us.  If you comment, let me know- do I treat your opinions with respect?  Do I ever make you feel like "the ant?"  Do I piss you off in my comments on your blogs?  Those are the things I need to hear.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Time Machine week 104

Today is January 24, 1972.  And today, one of the last Japanese holdouts from WWII- the third to last, actually- is captured by a couple of fishermen on Guam.  Sgt. Shoichi Yokoi was brought back to civilization after 28 years.  The longest holdout, ironically, died on January 16th, 2014.

Had I known how long this hitch was gonna be....

Also dying that same date, as you know, was Dave Madden, Reuben Kincaid on the Partridge Family.  I spent a little time reading an interview on the CmonGetHappy website, and two things struck me as I read.  Both were part of the transition between the first and second seasons, and came after the realization by ABC that they had a hit on their hands.  First, the shift from all the travelling to being a stay at home show, which Dave said was because, now that it was a hit, ABC was afraid that people would complain about "those poor children spending all that time in a bus."  Thus, the Family subtly "abandoned the road"- which Dave didn't mind since the damn bus didn't have power steering!  The second was, in a cursory check of everyone's contracts, they found that David Cassidy's was not legally signed- which meant they would have to get a new one signed- which meant they'd have to renegotiate.  David's salary went from $600 a week to $3,000 a week- and ABC was going to get the most out of their money.  So if you noticed Reuben's parts getting sparser as time went on- well, that was because his best bits suddenly went to David.  Not David's best bits, mind you, but if you wonder why David argued more with Danny after the first season... now you know.

Just how it goes, I guess...
Welcome to this week's Time Machine, where this week you get your money's worth of birthday songs, and a 45 at 45 that plays like a six degrees.  Meanwhile, at the top...well, let's just keep that quiet for now.  Hop in and let's toodle down the road!

This week as we travel the world we find a few changes.  In Germany, a lady by the name of Daisy Door (and wait'll you hear how she picked that one) ascends to the top with a song called Du Lebst In Deiner Welt (You Live In Your World), subtitled Highlights Of My Dream.  This was the one big hit for Ms. Door, who took the moniker as a backwards tribute to a favorite singer- Doris Day.

In the Netherlands, Sally Carr and Middle Of The Road take over the top spot again, this time with a tune called Sacramento.  Ireland chooses a new #1 that I guarantee you won't hear in the UK- The Barleycorn, a "Rebel Music" band, hit the top with The Man Behind The Wire, a tribute to IRA members held in the several British prison camps in Ireland.   And Canada gets on board with American Pie.

Don McLean also holds forth in Chicago, Minneapolis, and Pittsburgh, while LA clings stubbornly to Brand New Key, San Diego chooses Nilsson's Without You, and Detroit unites behind Joe Tex and I Gotcha.  At #3 on the two Motor city charts is something I just had to check out- a band called Lunar Funk with a song called Mr. Penguin.  Apparently failing to chart nationally, LF was a local "supergroup" featuring Mose Davis, keyboardist of another popular Detroit band called the Fabulous Counts (who did have one minor BB hit.)






Okay, so let's see if such weirdness debuted this week on the Cashbox hot 100.  There's a good chance- 18 songs debuted this week, not counting Tony Scotti's Heaven Bound returning to the charts for a sixth week after dropping off last time around with 500 Miles.  Of those, a cluster of five songs debuted within 7 spots of each other:  Melanie's Ring The Living Bell came in at 55; Bread at 54 with Everything I Own; Carole King at 52 with Sweet Seasons; the Bee Gees at 50 with My World; and the high debut at #48, the Osmonds with Down By The Lazy River.

20 (or twenty-one, depending) birthday songs this week.  Turning 30, Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac makes her solo debut with Got A Hold On Me; Kenny Loggins' Footloose theme; the Eurythmics with Here Comes The Rain Again; Billy Idol's Rebel Yell; and Rockwell (AKA Berry Gordy's kid with a ton of help from Michael Jackson) and Somebody's Watching Me. 

Turning thirty-five, we have the Doobie Brothers featuring Michael McDonald with What A Fool Believes; Al Stewart's Song On The Radio; Neil Diamond with Forever In Blue Jeans; Eddie Money's Maybe I'm A Fool; Aimee Stewart's disco version of Knock On Wood; Frank Mills, late of the Bells (Stay Awhile), with Music Box Dancer; the recently mentioned Bell and James with Livin' It Up (Friday Nights); and Suzi Quatro, with some help from Chris Norman, and Stumblin' In.

The flow slows down somewhat now.  Turning 40, The Who with The Real Me.  Turning 45, The Supremes with Living In Shame, 1910 Fruitgum Co.'s Indian Giver; Cream with Crossroads; and CCR with Proud Mary, a song that I spent 12 years hearing at every wedding reception I went to, played by bands like Justus V.  Turning 50- the Beatles with She Loves You (this is the week 50 years ago that I Want To Hold Your Hand went from #43 to #1), and Dianne Renay's Navy Blue.  Finally, I saw one of those curious titles I had to check out- late 40s- early 50s crooner Eddie Howard hit 60 years ago this week with a song called ... Bimbo.  (believe it or not, he was singing about his son!)  Blow Out The Candles...


Our 45 at 45 kinda led me on a merry chase- not because I didn't know it, or the singer.  We've featured Andy Kim not so long ago, and even though it only hit #49 on BB (and was finished on Cashbox after this week) I know his song Rainbow Ride.  What threw me off was that for some reason, Allmusic had under composers (though he wasn't a songwriter on this one) one Charles Aznavour.  Aznvaour, the son of a French father and an Armenian mother who through grace of God escaped Turkish butchers in the Armenian genocide of the post WWI years, was considered the "French Sinatra".  In fact, he was the only European singer Ol' Blue Eyes ever did a duet with.  In fact (what, that again?), in a CNN international poll of 1998, he was named-ahead of Elvis and Bob Dylan- the Entertainer of the Century.  But, as I found out, he had nothing to really do with the story.  And since this is such a six degrees kind of thing, I'm gonna sit on the rest of the tale until then.

Big mover this week was Grand Funk Railroad's Footstompin' Music, up a quick 26 to # 74.  The big dropper goes to Jerry Lee Lewis, whose cover of Me And Bobby McGee drops from 63 to #84, a fall of 21 spots.

Oh, and before I get out of the lower reaches, I wanted to mention a song that fell this week after peaking at #79.  If you've never hear ALL the lyrics to the All In The Family theme, just give a listen.  (the ending is the closing theme, the opener lasts about a buck-ten...)


The top forty has 4 new members.  In her second, and more successful, shot at the top, Beverly Bremers leaps from 51 to 40 with Don't Say You Don't Remember;  The Fifth Dimension sneak in, up 3 to #38, with Together Let's Find Love; Wicked Wilson Pickett moves 9 with Fire And Water at #36; and up ten to 33, it's Rod Stewart and the Faces with Stay With Me.

The Almost but not quite has just one tune this week (unless you want to count Those Were The Days):  Sweathog's Hallelujah falls after topping out at 28.

Oh, jeez, I forgot another little oddity I was going to mention way back in the hot 100 debuts!  I saw a song by a band called Detroit come in at 97.  It was a cover of a Velvet Underground song written by Lou Reed called Rock And Roll.  Looking a bit deeper, I found that Detroit was basically Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, volume two;  he kept only the drummer from the old band, John Badanjek.  A pretty good song, a bit different that the old wheels but definitely a rocker.

Since it isn't really a six degrees, I'll go ahead and finish the Rainbow Ride story now.  It was co-written with Andy by Jeff Berry, a big name in the history of rock'n'roll.  With his one-time wife Ellie Greenwich, we was one of the main composers of the Phil Spector stable, helping pen such hits as Da Doo Ron Ron, Be My Baby, Then He Kissed Me, Chapel Of Love, Leader Of The Pack, and many others.  The husband and wife duo also discovered Neil Diamond, and produced many of his early hits.  They then were asked to produce a new made-for-TV project called the Monkees, and in addition to producing, brought some Diamond penned works such as I'm A Believer and A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You with him.  About that time, he started Steed Records, and signed Andy Kim to the label.  This collaboration didn't stop with Rainbow Ride, or even the hits like Be My Baby and Baby I Love You he had Andy score with.  The ultimate moment came when they became the main writers for yet another made-for-TV act- a cartoon group called the Archies.  There, the duo composed the #1 hit Sugar Sugar.  And that's a Rainbow Ride!

Two songs enter the top ten, two fall out.  Falling are Family Affair (7 to 17) and Cherish (3 to 12).

The Stylistics slip into the top ten, up one notch to the leadoff spot with You Are Everything.

Joe Simon treads water at #9 with Drowning In A Sea Of Love.

The Jackson Five spend another week at #8 with Sugar Daddy.

Betty Wright cleans up, with Clean Up Woman moving from 10 to 7.

The hot song this week is Badfinger's power ballad Day After Day, leaping half the distance, from 12 to 6.

Jonathon Edwards' Sunshine won't go away, it moves up a notch to #5.

Dennis Coffey, showing some stubborn staying power, moves up a notch to #4 with Scorpio.

Al Green edges up a spot to #3 with Let's Stay Together.

And now, for our weekly game of musical chairs.  Three weeks ago, Melanie was at the top with Brand New Key.


Two weeks ago, Don McLean took the top away with American Pie.


Melanie retook the top spot last week, bumping Don to #2.

(Or at least another helping of...)
And this week, another spin around the wheel we go, putting Brand New Key at #2...


Hey, cool, I must be #1 again!
...and American Pie at #1!!!!!


That's it this week!  Try to stay warm out there, folks.  Except you Aussies. You need to cool off!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

What Americans want, according to google

The other day I was killing a little time listening to Glen Beck, when he pointed out some of the fun things that you find when you type "(name the state) wants" into Google search and read the suggestions.  So I thought I'd try it for a little fun.

First of all, there are two main answers you get, and consider only what the state wants (for example, I didn't count things like "Iowa woman wants to be 300 lbs.").  13 states (which equals 26%, as I'm sure you know), wanted nothing at all.  The greatest concentration of want-nothings lie in a band from roughly Delaware to Massachusetts.  I guess we can assume that life is pretty good for them.

The second is "to secede from the union".  A full 19 states want that.  Most of the old Confederacy ( except Alabama, Virginia, Georgia, and Florida) are among the rats off the sinking ship. A variation on this are the states that want to "split" into one or more new states.  Michigan (Upper Peninsula as usual), Maine, and Colorado (whose case was all over the news last summer) want to split in two... California, proving why everyone else in the nations think they're the home of mixed nuts, wants to split into SIX...


.Two states have a definite plan in mind (though I didn't count them in the seceding as such)...Hawaii wants independence, and Vermont wants to join Canada.  Missouri, though, didn't seem to get the memo:  in addition to wanting to secede, they also wanted to BECOME a state.  I guess planning ahead is a virtue...

Some states seek after grand causes.  Washington wants to tax bicycles, Idaho, the "cloud".  Wyoming wants an aircraft carrier, despite being one of ten states with no recognized amount of navigable waterways.  Wisconsin has two grand goals:  to be called the "Mitten State", and to bring One Direction to play there.  Mississippi wants to ban interracial marriage (good luck with that one);  Alabama wants to castrate sex offenders; Pennsylvania wants to change the Electoral College; North Carolina wants to "go big with alternatives".   Michigan has a desire that could potentially solve a lot of problems- they WANT more immigrants.  Show of hands, those who just said, "You can have ours!"  Three states- Wyoming, Virginia, and South Carolina, want their own currency.  How about Monopoly money?  That's about what it would end up worth.  In the mean time, Texas wants its gold back.

Several states are more concerned with sports:  Texas wants Nick Saban; New Mexico, Mike Leach; and Arkansas, Les Miles. Minnesota wants basketball pro Pau Gasol.  Oregon and Kansas want 'Bama, and 'Bama wants Oregon.  They also want football back.  Speaking of wants, on a sideline note, China apparently wants both Alaska and Idaho.  Must be hungry for king crab and baked potatoes.

Louisiana and South Carolina both want to succeed, but I'm not sure if they really just can't spell "secede".  Three states want to work;  one of them is obviously not Kentucky, because they want ObamaCare.  Nebraska wants the Keystone pipeline, so they can have Canadian oil;  Georgia, more simply, just wants Tennessee water.  Arkansas wants its fugitive back, who ever he/she may be; North Dakota wants to change its name- but what would that do to South Dakota?  Especially since the name they want to change to is, "Dakota".  Maryland wants to ban ammo, though apparently keeping their guns; California wants to serve a warning with fries (frankly, I'd prefer a burger); and North Carolina wants a state religion.

Finally, two states want ME.  Yeah, yeah, I know that the one is talking about the song Indiana Wants Me... but how do you explain Arizona?  HMMMM?

Stay tuned- I may try this with Europe someday soon.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

World War I- not just for dummies

You know I'm a very amateur historian.  So when I saw a headline on the BBC that went:

Lions and donkeys: 10 big myths about World War One debunked


of course I was intrigued.  And when I read the subtitle:

Much of what we think we know about the 1914-18 conflict is wrong, writes historian Dan Snow.

I say, bring it on, sir; I'm not your standard "aw, history is boring, just a buncha dead people" lieabout.  And while he makes some points, some of them shouldn't have to be made.  Let's look at his "ten myths":

1. It was the bloodiest war in history to that point. (Myth?  Yes.)


Let's put things in perspective:  Europe had already had a Hundred Years War and a Thirty Years War.  The French Revolution was a series of wars lasting nearly 30 years itself.  Napoleon took a Grand Army of 800,000 into Russia and less that a tenth of those who crossed the Russian frontier lived to make it back to Poland.  What are the odds of a five-year war coming close to any of them?  And that's only looking at Western Europe.  What made it seem so bad by comparison were battles like Verdun, Chemin des Dames, and Passchendaele where months were spent and tens of thousands died- and the front barely moved.  I wonder if Snow looked at casualties by yards of ground gained if if wouldn't rank a bit higher.

2. Most soldiers died. (Myth? Yes.)

Yeah, I'm sure that everyone thought this was the war in which the last man standing won.  That's why it was possible for the same sides to go back at it twenty years later.

3. Men lived in the trenches for years on end. (Myth?  Yes.)

So no one ever heard of troop rotations?  How many of front line soldiers would have lived had they been ON the front line for even a year?  If they really have Britishers thinking this way, it's a wonder THEY didn't elect Barack Obama.  I think Snow, perhaps, is showing a bit of that Oxford disdain for his fellow countryman.

4. The upper class got off lightly. (Myth?  Yes.)

Unfortunately, the British had a chance on this one, had they learned the lessons of the Boer War.  British Military was led by social rank, not military ability.  Lot's of eager young uppercrusts with commands their daddy's peerage bought them died charging out of trenches and into machine-gun fire.  Thus it had been for over a century; and WWI taught no lesson quickly, for all its efforts.

5. 'Lions led by donkeys'. (Myth?  Nope.)

This line, descriptive of brave soldiers sent to their deaths by unwise commanders, was first discussed by Snow on the basis of who said it first.  After establishing the well-known fact that historian Alan Clark likely made up the story that it came from a discussion between Ludendorff and Hoffman, he went on to dispute it.  But the facts are, Sir John French had little idea of what he was doing and little patience for any that tried to advise him.  The facts are, the most brilliant commander of the early part of the war, General Gallieni, was kept from the front by Foch because they were of different political persuasions.  The fact is, one of the best of Foch's front line commanders, Franchet d'Esprey, was shunned so badly, he got stuck being the liason with Sir John.  Commander after commander expected to gain different results with the same tactics.  The only major commander to try something different was Ludendorff, and he waited until he didn't have the resources to make it work.

6. Gallipoli was fought by Australians and New Zealanders. (Myth? yes and no.)

He makes the point that there were far more Brits there than Anzacs.  But the Anzacs were far better fighters, and they made the sacrifices when the tough yards were needed.  If I were an Aussie or a Kiwi, I'd be more than a bit put off.

7. Tactics on the Western Front remained unchanged despite repeated failure. (Myth?  Yes.)

He makes a valid point that the technology of war advanced rapidly during the war.  Tanks, aerial war, mustard gas were all developed as the war wore on.  But TACTICS?  The battle on the Marne was the same as the battle at Ypres- a few hours of artillery, a fruitless charge to the death, back into the trenches.  This myth cannot be debunked.  Because it's not a myth.

8. No-one won. (Myth?  Depends on who you ask.)

Sure the allies won.  Look how well Russia came out of it.  Look how indebted the Europeans came to American banks.  Look how much of their courage remained by 1938 in Munich.  Is a Pyrrhic victory still a victory?

9. The Versailles Treaty was extremely harsh. (Myth? Please.)

I laughed out loud at his analysis here.  His thought was basically:  the Germans didn't lose near as much land as they would in 1945, only a small part of the nation was occupied, and most of the reparations were never paid anyway.  What he doesn't note includes: the loss of face that Germany took agreeing to an armistice (peace without victory) and winding up signing a surrender;  that small part that was occupied was the single richest coal area in western Europe, and the French milked it to the hilt; and the reparations that WERE paid created such hyperinflation that you needed to own a factory to afford a half-loaf of bread.  While Wilson wanted a peace to end war, the French and British wanted revenge... and got it.

10. Everyone hated it.  (Myth?  Depends on who you ask.)

Snow notes, "Many soldiers enjoyed WW1. If they were lucky they would avoid a big offensive, and much of the time, conditions might be better than at home. "   Perhaps Snow should have walked around the asylums were the mangled soldiers "healed".  Or, as the song went, "looked for the old platoon, hanging on the old barbed wire."  No, not everybody hated it.  Just the ones that actually lived through it.

I really don't know what grieves me more:  that we have an accredited historian that actually believes that people believe these myths (or in some cases, his hypotheses); or that in this world of today, he might be right, and people might see things this way.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Martin not-so world news

Sometimes you don't have to venture too far off the front steps...

ITEM:  Juli over at Surviving Boys (the title a tribute to having two sons and a husband) has been having a spot of trouble surviving "girls" of late.  Let me hearken you back to here and here, where two years ago we met the delightful personality "john Rambo".  For the whole story, hit the links, don't be lazy like me!  Long story short, though-  dude is a hate filled ex-husband, ex-father, expat of Australia, on the lam for running a pedophile ring and spending his free time trolling women's blogs telling them how hateful and awful they are.  I got involved defending one such blog, and soon it blew up into a whole deal that I took all the amusement it was about to offer, and then ignored him, shortly after which he gave up.  Well this past week, Juli encountered an anonymous poster whose hate filled diatribes and language (including the love of the word "misogyny" and its various tenses) are an exact match for all the crap I heard from Peter Andrew Nolan AKA "John Rambo"- with one key difference which I will let a reply to my greeting explain:

I'm not Peter, and I do NOT live in Australia!!! I am an American woman in the South with a very feminine name in real life (part of why I'm so angry all the time), and I do other things with my life. It pisses me off that I must take time out of my day to let this woman know how much she upset me with her "Why I Love Boys" posts, which, believe it or not, I randomly found because a search for "new car smell" took me to this intriguingly-named blog. As a result, she will be getting nothing but my most cunning of mean words unless and until she either 1.) removes both (or more?) of those misogynistic rants, based largely on stereotypes about girls/women, or 2.) I get so busy that I give-up and/or "forget" about this blog. Either way, I am NOT a disgusting, XY male with a penis and testes, nor do I wish to appear as one in order to be like so many of us these days.
 
 
I have my doubts that two people can say the exact opposite things (genderwise) the exact same way and not be the same idiot working the other side of the street.  If you bop around Juli's place, you'll find a Christmas poem on which "she" posted "F_ Christmas! "  And then went on to explain that Christmas is
 
just another money-making, overly commercialized holiday created to benefit MALES (i.e. retailers) at the expense of FEMALES (esp. moms), who earn less and spend more. It is partly responsible for the upsurge in cold/flu infections, especially in women, between November and January, and increases the likelihood of auto accidents.
 
 
"She" went on to call for the "childfree, virgin lesbo-dykes" to rally and "fight the patriarchy", which I find amusing because "John Rambo"  wanted all real men to "fight the matriarchy" who controlled the family court judges who wisely stripped him of wife and kids.  Even as I type, I see "she" has sent yet another anonymous message to Juli, detailing how stupid she is for listing the reasons she loves her family.  As well as making fun of the "the scanty clothing I refuse to wear".  Well, "Princess", I for one am glad you refuse to wear that type of clothing, I have no need of having dreams of Chaz Bono in a bikini.  And if he/she/it does manage to stop by, let me just point one thing out to you:  It's not the world, it's you that's screwed up.
 
 
ITEM:  Holli from Texas, I truly hope you read this, because I saved this one just for you:
 
The defeat of the Pats yesterday has launched a thousand memes.  Here is my favorite so far:



ITEM:  Here's a lovely story that stands on it's own:

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) - Police were called to a Fort Wayne McDonald's on (last) Monday after a man passed out on a table. An officer found Nicholas J. Fisher, who already had a warrant out for his arrest, with six prescription painkiller patches stuck to his arm.
According to the affidavit for probable cause, police were called about a possible medical complaint at a Fort Wayne McDonald's on Monday. The officer found 27-year-old Fisher passed out and drooling on a table. He checked Fisher's driver's license and saw he had an active warrant out for his arrest.
Fisher was arrested and taken to the Allen County Jail for the outstanding warrant.
While Fisher was being searched at the jail, police saw he had six plastic patches with the word "Fentanyl" printed on them stuck on his arm. 
Police said Fisher did not have a prescription for the pain killer.
Fisher was charged with Possession of a Schedule II Controlled Substance, a class D felony.
 
 
One word: Overkill...
 
ITEM:  Next up, an equally intelligent sort, but with an accomplice...
 
AUBURN, Wash. —
A 42-year-old man died Saturday after he was hit by an Amtrak train in Auburn, fire officials said.
The incident occurred at about 3:30 p.m. near C Street Southwest and Eighth Street.
According to the Auburn Fire Department, the man’s girlfriend was taking pictures of him sitting on the rails when an Amtrak Cascades Train struck the man, who was from Las Vegas.
The train was coming from Portland and was heading to Seattle.
Authorities closed the tracks to investigate the incident.
 
 
Gotta wonder who was doing the layout on that one...
 
ITEM: Do you often feel like an island of intelligence in a world were it doesn't thrive naturally? 
 
A man who spent several hours trapped in a pipe at a United Water facility on Wilson Avenue was rescued Friday morning and then promptly arrested.
Capt. Michael Fountain of the Manalapan Police Department said the man was 26-year-old township resident Asaf Mohammad, who was arrested for fourth-degree criminal trespass
United Water spokesman Rich Henning said that workers “heard cries for help” coming from an area that has a wellhead with a storage tank when they arrived at the facility on Friday morning.
Jim Mastrokalos, director of operations for United Water, said the man was found in a decommissioned pipe that is 20 inches in diameter.
“He must have traversed through a basin and climbed up into a pipe for reasons unknown at this time,” Mastrokalos said.
United Water is investigating surveillance video to determine how Mohammed was able to get into the facility, which is surrounded by barbed wire fencing, Mastrokalos said.
After sections of the pipe were dismantled, emergency responders were able to get a harness around the man and pull him out of the pipe.
Mohammed was reportedly flown to Robert Wood Johnson Medical Center after being removed from the pipe.
 
Of course, the non-funny thing about this is that this is a Muslim (not a smart Muslim, but a Muslim nonetheless) caught in a secure utility facility a stone's throw from the site of the Super Bowl.  Better stick to beer and Gatorade if you go...
 
ITEM: Can you handle just one more idiot?
 
MERRILLVILLE, Ind. (WANE) - Indiana State Police said a truck driver was drunk and fatigued when his semi drove off the interstate Sunday afternoon.
Around 12:03 p.m., Donald Hagen, 52, of Saint Peters, Missouri, was driving south on I-65 at mile marker 254. That is about one mile north of the U.S. 30/Merrillville exit. He was operating a 2013 Freightliner semi pulling a box truck full of 17,000 pounds of empty tin cans.
Hagen told officers he was fatigued and “dozed off." His semi drove off the road, hit a highway informational sign (Obviously not the needed information) , went down an embankment, through a fence and came to rest in a field. Hagen said he woke up when the truck stopped. The semi never flipped over.
When officers arrived to the crash scene, they found unopened and opened containers of alcohol a short distance from the semi. Police said Hagen later admitted to throwing them there. He also allegedly said he had been drinking alcohol the night before.

Hagen was treated at the scene for minor cuts. During the investigation, police found Hagen had a blood alcohol content of .09 percent. The legal limit in Indiana is .08 percent.
 
And the topper?
 

Yep, a Schneider driver!!!

ITEM:  Now, here has got to be the greatest case of "logical fate" in history:

Downtown Detroit hit by massive sinkhole
 


So far, it's only 10 foot across and 14 feet deep... but give it some time.  Detroit looks to be needing a slightly different bail-out this time.

ITEM:  That's enough for now, gang...  and remember the immortal words of  Steve Earle...


"Keep yourself to yourself
Keep your bedroll dry
Because you never can tell
What the shadows hide
Keep one eye on the ground
Pick up whatever you find
'Cause you've got no place to fall
When your back's to the wall...."
 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sunday message- purpose

This morning brought a very powerful message by David Jeremiah (which you can find for yourself on Davidjeremiah.org, look for the weekend edition for this date) in which he encouraged his congregation to striving for purpose.  I'm not about to paraphrase or verbatim his message; but I did see, in my usual way of being just askance of what I'm listening to, a different way of looking at it.  In his message, he drew on the lives of four purpose-driven individuals- Daniel, Ezra, Paul, and Jesus- to make his point.  And I'm not about to go all Rick Warren on you, either- I just want to look at the same points where they came home to me- how to break the hold of habitual, day-to-day sin in my life.

In Daniel's case, he focused on how Daniel was able to resist Nebuchadnezzar's cultural brainwashing, and he laid it to one particular verse: Daniel 1:8-

Dan 1:8 But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. Now the word "heart" in this case translated out to also the intellect; in other words, he set his mind on what needed to be done.  This, then is the first step in combatting the repeated temptation- set your mind to NOT doing it.  Do you have a "guilty pleasure" that when you run into a stress, a problem, a temptation, you set off in your mind a chain of events that lead to "solving" the issue with the guilty pleasure?  "After a day like this, I really need a drink", for example?  This first step means you have to stop this from happening at the start, change your thinking at the thought's inception, not when opportunity finally drops by.

Ezra had the battle of teaching a fallen, away-from-the-faith people how to worship again.  He was facing not only external enemies, but people who were marrying outside the faith, using usury to make slaves of each other, and leaders who scoffed at doing what needed to be done.  How did he handle it?

Ezr 7:10 For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.
Second step: Prepare your heart.  And how do you go about that?  Prayer, and the Word.  Ezra prayed, and then "sought the Law of the Lord".  He had a calling- to teach the Law, and get people to live by it once again.  He held a 6-hour-long sermon on the Law at the dedication of the foundation of the Second Temple.  The easiest days (for me) to fall are the days I don't read the Bible, and the easiest days for that are the days I don't pray about what I read first.  Without prayer, the words become just words; the reading without depth becomes boring; the heart finds "better things to do."

For Paul, he looked at two points.  The first was early in his ministry, the "Not that I have attained" speech where he describes his goal, and the late in life letter to Timothy where he says he "has fought the good fight", and knows his race is done.  You can be saved and say, "Well, that's it, I'm here,"  or you can set a goal- or rather seek God's goal for you- and work at that, setting it as the goal before you, and not being satisfied till you get there.  By keeping the goal in mind, you achieve Step #3- not that you've gotten there, but by recognizing you are still GOING there, and that you still WANT to get there.  But without the first two, it's almost impossible to get to that third one.  If it was easy, there'd be about 10 million fewer "self-help" books.

And that brings us to Jesus.  As Dr. Jeremiah said, it almost seems unfair to bring Jesus into something WE need to do, since He was God and we are men.  But we still need to follow His example, and He teaches what we need here as a 12-year old boy.  You remember the story- The family was heading back home from Passover in Jerusalem, and when Jesus wasn't with them, they assumed that, like others His "age", He was playing with the boys.  But then they found out He just wasn't there, and panicked.  They hurried back to Jerusalem and learned a lesson in how he wasn't like the others:

Luk 2:49 And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?
For Jesus, the FOCUS was on the mission, and that is Step # 4.  His focus was laser-pointed at doing His Father's will.  To defeat this recurring temptation in our lives, then, we need:

1- Purpose our mind on doing what is right.
2- Prepare our hearts with Prayer and the Word.
3- Set the goal that as long as you have breath, you have a purpose.
4- Focus on that goal, and exclude the thoughts that start the train going the wrong way.

And you see, you can't leave one out, because each is almost impossible to do without the one before it.  And if the first one is to "set your mind" that brings you to one inescapable conclusion:

It doesn't start with God waving His hand, or a magic wand, or a list of do's and don'ts.  It starts with you making a choice, and sticking to it.  And here you see the importance of this line of Paul's:

2Co 10:5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ...

Like I said near the start- when the stress, or problem, or temptation first comes up, that's when the battle is won or lost- do we take it captive to obedience... or does it take us?