Friday, January 31, 2014

reddit Gallery CXIX

Another excursion into the world of reddit pictures.  See reddit Pics  for sources.  Click on pictures to enlarge them.  Enjoy!

Angel Oak

Meteor Cross-Section


Dawn of Electricity

Mother and Child

Little Bighorn

The Republican Party is holding a retreat on the shores of the scenic Chesapeake Bay … a meeting whose stated purpose is to solidify the Republican position on immigration.  It appears that the Republican leadership, as prodded by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, that Democratic Svengali, Chuck Schumer, and many in the old-guard Republican establishment, would very much like to pass an immigration reform bill this year.  

The stated objective for this immigration reform (read "concession") is that it will persuade many Hispanics to pull the voting lever for them in future elections.  Balderdash!  This would clearly be an unforced error … a Waterloo … a Donnybrook … a Little Bighorn … a Pickett’s Charge … a retreat retreat if you will.

Fortunately, as the GOP leadership is discovering in between bites of Maryland blue crab, that something like three-quarters of their House Republicans don’t buy this silly logic … and are pushing back.  I have in the past explained why I think that the Republican leaderships’ rationales are flawed … and I repeat them here from my Carrying Water in a Sieve blog.  These misconceptions are:
1)       Illegal immigrants will come forward to take advantage of this path to citizenship of whatever form it takes.  Think about it … why would you as an illegal immigrant … living in the shadows and getting many if not most of the benefits of citizenship, come forward and get your name entered in a database that would possibly take away some of these benefits and/or get the Internal Revenue Service on your trail to pay taxes and/or fines (see: The Daily Beast Story)? By staying in the shadows, it is also reasonable to assume that any onerous aspects of being “illegal” will be ameliorated by President Obama and any future Democrat administrations … witness the above-mentioned executive order last summer.  Thus, the status quo has a very attractive appeal to this class on non-citizen. With something like the Dream Act, they might even be required to learn English for heavens sake! 
2)       Illegal immigrants, as an indication of gratitude for their efforts, might vote in greater percentages for Republicans than such Hispanics and other immigrant groups now do. Why?  Survey after survey has shown that the reason such immigrants vote for Democrats is that they are for big-brother government and all the largess that such form of government returns to them (see: Huffington Post Opinion).  Besides, in many states (such as Nevada), many of these illegal immigrants vote Democrat already … goaded on by their conspiratorial unions (see: FrontPage Story).

Afterward: Small victory ... see: Breitbart Story.

Buying on Emotion

Just as it is not a good idea to vote based upon only your heart (as opposed to your head), it is also advisable not to purchase stocks based only upon emotion.  Today the stock market is down over 200 points on the Dow Jones Average … and what stocks are bucking this trend by now being up?  … Google (GOOG), Facebook (FB), Twitter (TWTR), and Tesla Motors (TSLA).  To me, this is as good an indication as any that these stocks (except possibly Google) are being accumulated by unsophisticated buyers … sometimes referred to as momentum purchasers.  Caveat Emptor!

reddit Gallery CXVIII

Another excursion into the world of reddit pictures.  See reddit Pics  for sources.  Click on pictures to enlarge them.  Enjoy!

Midwest Coal Trains

Venus, the Sun and the Moon

Amherst Pheasant

Refracted Light

Mexican Naica Selenite Mine

Blind as a Bat

Multiple black support groups at the University of Minnesota have written a letter to the administration there urging it that future crime alerts not include the race of the suspected criminal … as this is "discomforting" and perpetrates racial stereotyping … see: CBS Local Report.

If the school eventually caves on this issue, we can all see where this is going to end up:

 - All the hyphenated school gender support groups will petition that the sex of the criminal is not relevant to the crime and need not be included in alerts and crime stories.

- Short people will request that the height of the perpetrator should not be indicated as it may impinge on their self esteem.

- Neighborhood realtors will claim that reporting what crime and where it occurred will decrease the value of houses there and therefore should be stopped.

The crime alerts and reporting at the University of Minnesota will then go something like this:

“Somebody did something somewhere.  Please forward any and all leads to the authorities.”

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Old King Coal

The United States’ electricity supplied by solar power has increased 10-fold in the five years since Obama has become president … from 0.02% of national usage … to 0.2% (that’s 2 parts per thousand) … see: CNS News Story .  Wow!  I guess [tongue in cheek] that our President was prescient in pushing this sector of energy production as a way of eliminating carbon emissions?  Is this because we taxpayers “invested” over a half a billion dollars in Solyndra? … and billions more in other dead or dying solar companies? (See: Arizona Central Story, FoxNnews Story, and Green Energy.)

Meanwhile electricity produced from coal has declined in the U.S. during this same period from 48.2% to 37.4% of total usage.  So Obama’s vow to kill Old King Coal is producing results … but very little because of green energy.  (Solar energy would have to have increased by 500-fold to make up this gap). The decline has mostly been offset by increased natural gas production (from fracking) … and an overall decline in our electricity usage.  Unfortunately nuclear energy production has not contributed one additional kilowatt … and is still the ugly step-child of the Obama administration’s energy policy.

It’s funny how our President’s 2009 inaugural rhetoric (We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories.”) can create unachievable expectations and, when the real numbers arrive, they are still touted as though they are meaningful and a big f…ing deal.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Still Another Autobiographical Snippet

Three misspent years of my youth were sqandered as chronicled in this autobiographical snippet which also was an entry on another of my blog sites: Purple Prose:


Not Tinker's ... but close

The neighborhood bar … the altar upon which so many lives and livers have been sacrificed. There is a visceral and universal appeal to the neighborhood bat cave ... a place where one can get crocked in the company of like-minded sots ... a place where one can go to erase the chalk-board tally of one’s misspent life ... a place where anonymous trysts begin and end ... a place where comfort trumps aesthetics ... a place where struck-up friendships are as shallow as the conversation ... a place to flee to when life needs to be relished under a whiskey haze. A place where "everyone knows your name."  Once, I too had a neighborhood bar. It was called Tinker’s.

It was a rather nondescript 1960’s singles’ bar, easily missed unless you were looking for it. If you were, it was on the southwest corner of 74th Street and Second Avenue in Manhattan. It had two large windows with green-and-white striped awnings facing Second Avenue, framing a dark entrance, and had another large window on 74th street, around the corner to the right. A red neon sign hung at the corner. It said simply “Tinker’s” and, after my hike up from 63rd Street and York Avenue, it always gave me a Pavlovian thirst. As you entered, on your left was a large mahogany bar which began perpendicular to a brick wall and then curved around to run about twenty feet parallel to the back-bar shelves and mirror.

The five-foot space that remained between the front window and the bar was filled with the stools of the regulars. Looking out the front window, you could watch the world saunter by. However, because of the low light levels inside Tinker’s, the world couldn’t watch you unless they stopped to peer in. The tap room to the right of the bar was filled with small tables and spindle chairs ... except for the far back right corner which had Naugahyde-covered benches and some more tables. That is where you sat if you didn’t want to be noticed or if the rest of the tables were occupied. The well-worn wooden bar floor had fresh sawdust spread on it weekly for that old-world charm, usually on late Saturday night or early Sunday morning.

The aisle that was formed between the bar and the tables led directly to a small rear hallway where there was the public dial telephone on the left and, on the right and rear, were the camphor-caked rest rooms with cigarette-filled plumbing fixtures. The small kitchen was located in the left-rear corner, off the bar and enclosed by this rest-room alley and the service bar. It contained an old cast-iron grill (on which were made some of the best hamburgers on the upper East Side), a French-fryer, a tiny refrigerator, and a paucity of other equipment (such as a glass-washer-steamer that look like it came right out of a doll house). Tinker’s was a study in minimalism.

The jukebox, next to the service bar, was one of Tinker’s best features. It generally was playing softly in the background ... usually the latest pop hits ... but also opera, Gregorian chants, jazz, and many, many old classics (such as Sinatra, Tony Bennett, and even Billy Holiday). If the bar patrons weren’t playing a song, then the bartender or waitress would pluck a quarter from the till and play six favorites. Without looking up, you could often tell who was serving drinks by their selection of their music A goodly amount of baraphernalia festooned the walls and ceiling -- some hats, a few pictures of sports teams, a few odd banners, and a bat (which served dual purpose of decoration and protection). Ashtrays were sprinkled everywhere since smoking was still a favored pastime. In warm weather, some tables were also set out on the sidewalk. The window to the right of the entrance was somehow opened which connected the inside and outside patrons ... like in a Parisian cafe.

After I was separated from my first wife in 1964, Tinker’s became my regular hangout for about three squandered years. There, I escaped the failure of my marriage and my lack of career progress. (What did T.S. Eliot say? “Malt does more than Milton can to justify God’s way to man.”) I used Tinker’s as the center of my meager social life. There, I was accepted but not embraced as a regular. This was fine with me as long as I could do my own thing. Occasionally I would go to other bars such as Dick Edward’s (where I took my second wife on our first date), the Green Derby (I usually went there just for lunch), P.J. Clark's (where my second wife and I spent the evening before our wedding), TGI Friday’s (the bar most convenient to my apartment), etc. But it was Tinker’s that was my “home turf”. I often went there to get together with old college buddies and tell war stories. But, I would usually go there right after work, have a burger and a beer, smoke some cigarettes, and then try to get lucky. Sometimes, I was even successful. But, if by ten o’clock nothing seemed to be developing, I would use the back wall phone to call a female from my “little black book” and shamelessly ask her to meet me at Tinker’s. Then, for the price of a few drinks, I could often find comfort for the night.

It took me a while to notice an important social-psychological phenomenon of the single bar scene at that time (I assume it still holds.) It was that unattached women would not go into such a bar until after the sun was down. Not being female, I can’t explain this pathology. But I did eventually learn to take advantage of it. This meant that early-on I wasted a lot of bar time between 6:00 PM and 9:00 PM in the summer time. Things were generally dead at Tinker’s during this twilight period. But there was a trade-off. If you didn’t get there early enough, you didn’t get a bar stool by the front window ... which then made it a little harder to get noticed. But if you got there late, the only seats left were the Naugahyde benches ... which were the equivalent of being banished to Coventry. However, in the winter, when the sun set early, the bar was usually crowded with eager young women, often by 6:30 PM, and so one’s entrance timing became a much simpler calculus.

“Tinker” Ward ran the bar. (I never knew his Christian name.) He was about five-foot-six, slightly built, even a little effeminate. Rumor had it that Tinker’s father actually owned the bar and occasionally he would come in to check on things. But it was Tinker who handled the money. Once a night he used to plunder the cash register for a wad of bills which went right into his wallet. Bar talk had it that Tinker’s grossed about $30,000 per week which, in turn, suggested that it netted about a half a million dollars a year. This was a considerable about of money at that time ... particularly since so much of it appeared to be tax-free. (I figure I contributed about $3,000 a year to that largess ... much too much for someone paying child support on a meager banker’s salary.) Tinker also had two brothers who appeared from time to time to taste the bar’s various potables. I also believe he had one somewhat attractive sister who, like many Irish woman of the day, drifted through life as a shadow. I never met or even saw Tinker’s mother.

Tinker managed the bar in a no-nonsense fashion. He issued crisp orders like a drill-sergeant and seemed to be on top of everything. But he also knew how to make his patrons feel welcome. He let his regulars run bar tabs. But he never let you reach into his pocket too deeply. He kept a clipboard of these tabs and you had to settle things every week or two at the most. I spent so much money there that sometimes I even had to pay my tab in installments. But as compensation for your loyal patronage, about every third drink was bought by the bartenders. They did this by rapping on the bar twice quickly while serving you your next refreshment. And they always poured drinks with a heavy hand. The bartenders and waitresses, be they male or female, were universally good-looking and of loose morals. I never hit pay dirt with any of the female employees, but it was pretty clear others did. The male barkeepers usually ended up the evening with the most nubile of the besotted females. Tinker himself would sometimes cut out an awestruck heifer.

At this time of my life I was suffering from a slipped disk in my lower back. I suspect it arose from the emotional turmoil in my life that surrounded my separation and impending divorce. I had been advised to have an operation where the two vertebrae surrounding the offending disks would be fused with some bone splinters taken from my hip. I resisted this medical suggestion, but was forced to wear a back brace for about a year. In the morning I would strap on this contraption under my pinstripes and go to work, sweating profusely on my walk to the Lexington Avenue subway near Bloomingdale’s. I would have to stop every few blocks to lean against a lamp post to ease the incessant pain. When I got to work, I could sit and earn my keep without discomfort. It was standing and moving around that was difficult. But, there was some solice from this affliction ... it kept me out of the draft and Viet Nam.

A little over a year after my wife and I had separated and I had moved to New York City from Scarsdale ... and after it became clear that there was no possible reconciliation ... I got a notice from the draft board telling me to report for active duty. (I suspect that my father-in-law ratted me out.) When I informed the Selective Service of my bad back and sent them my doctor’s note and X-rays, they were quite skeptical and ordered me to report promptly to Fort Jay, on Governor’s Island, off the lower end of Manhattan, for a battery of neurological tests. One crisp fall morning, I took a short ferry ride there and made my leafy way to their medical center, full of dread for my military future and my predictable (and likely bloody) tour in the Far East. When one of the Army’s frowning white-coated majors found no reflexes in my left leg and also measured significant muscle atrophy in this same leg, I was told I could leave without further testing. I had my life back! I got my 4-F rating in the mail a few weeks later.

Despite this malady, I still made my painful trek up to Tinker’s most week nights. There, with each drink, the pain in my back abated. After about four libations, I was again hale and hearty and I was back in grace. It was as though I had no ailment at all! At the end of the evening, if I had no companionship for the night, my pain-free walk home became my only solace for all that money and time ill-spent. I would amble down Second Avenue, then east on Seventy-Second Street, and then right on First. There I would often stop at Dorian’s Red Hand, a slightly more elegant Irish bar, a few doors down from Seventy-second, for a quick once over of its remaining female talent. This of course was a desperate move, but for the price of one beer I occasionally met a female who was as desperate as myself and I would spend the night with some nameless and faceless female. But, most often the chickens had already been plucked, so I would continue my trip down First Avenue to my favorite pizza parlor around Sixty-fifth. There for fifty cents I would wolf down a couple of steaming cheesy slices to line my stomach for my boozy slumber. Next, I turned left down Sixty-third, past the original TGI Friday’s, and hung another left to end up at the York River House at Sixty-third and York. I would usually exchange a few jokes with the doorman and then went to bed ... dreading my next morning’s walk to the subway.

Copyright ©  George W. Potts

Afterward: To extend this narrative read: Elaine's

Now, for the Rest of the Story

Paul Harvey
President Obama, as predicted, indicated in last night’s State of the Union address that he was going to sign an executive order raising the minimum wage under government contracts to $10.10 per hour from the current $7.25 per hour … a 39.3% increase!  Many pooh-pooh this move as irrelevant since very few employees working on government contracts are making the minimum wage … even though the administration claims the number to be over two million … see: Fox News Story/.

However, what is forgotten in this whole White House ruse is that many unions have contractually established their pay scales based upon the minimum wage … see: Wall Street Journal Article.  So President Obama is surreptitiously throwing many unions a gigantic bone by increasing their members’ wages even when they are earning far above the minimum wage ... figuring most of us naive doofuses will not realizing what is going on.

Now you know the rest of the story ...

reddit Gallery CXVII

Another excursion into the world of reddit pictures.  See reddit Pics  for sources.  Click on pictures to enlarge them.  Enjoy!

Visual Atomic Structure Periodic Table

Price of a Picture

Virginia Sunset


1966 Shelby Cobra 427 SC

Equality of Outcomes

Steve Hayward in the Powerline blog has directed his readers to the Kurt Vonnegut 1961 short story “Harrison Bergeron” which does a pretty good job of pointing out the folly associated with government-imposed equality of outcomes.  I recall reading this mini-gem years ago but have forgotten most of its details.  To restore my memory I went to Wikipedia and read the following plot summary:
It is the year 2081. Because of Amendments to the Constitution, every American is fully equal, meaning that no one is smarter, better-looking, stronger, or faster than anyone else. The Handicapper General and a team of agents ensure that the laws of equality are enforced. The government forces citizens to wear "handicaps" (a mask if they are too handsome or beautiful, earphones with deafening radio signals to make intelligent people unable to concentrate and form thoughts, and heavy weights to slow down those who are too strong or fast). 
One April, 14 year old Harrison Bergeron, an extremely handsome teenage genius, is taken away from his parents, George and Hazel, by the government. George and Hazel are not fully aware of the tragedy. Hazel's lack of awareness is due to "average" intelligence, which in 2081, is the politically correct way of referring to someone of well-below-average intelligence. George does not comprehend the tragedy since the law requires him to wear the radio ear piece for twenty-four hours a day because he is of above-average intelligence. 
Hazel and George are watching a ballet on TV. Hazel has been crying, though she cannot remember why. She remarks on the beauty of the dance. For a few moments, George reflects on the dancers, who are weighed down to counteract their gracefulness and masked to cover up their good looks. They have been handicapped so that TV viewers will not feel bad about their own appearance and hence will feel equally as talented and good-looking. Because of their handicaps, the dancers are not very good. A noise interrupts George's thoughts: two of the dancers onscreen hear the noise, too; apparently, they must wear radios as well. 
Hazel thinks George looks exhausted and urges him to lie down and rest his "handicap bag", 47 pounds (21 kg) of weight placed in a bag and locked around George's neck. He says he hardly notices the weight any more. Hazel suggests taking a few of the weights out of the bag, but he says if everyone broke the law, society would return to its old competitive ways. Hazel says she would hate that. A noise interrupts the conversation, and George cannot remember what they were talking about. 
On TV, a news reporter with a speech impediment attempts to read a bulletin. After 30 seconds, unable to even say "Ladies and Gentlemen", he hands the bulletin to a ballerina to read. Hazel commends him for working with his God-given abilities and says he should get a raise for trying so hard. The ballerina, wearing the most grotesque mask of all, and with weights meant for a 200-pound (90 kg) male, begins reading in her natural, beautiful voice, then apologizes and switches to a growly voice so that she will not sound nicer than anyone else. The bulletin says that Harrison has escaped from prison. 
A photo of Harrison appears on the screen. He is wearing the handicaps meant to counteract his strength, intelligence, and good looks. The photo shows that he is 7 feet (2.1 m) tall and covered in 300 pounds (140 kg) of metal. He is wearing huge earphones, rather than a small radio, and big glasses meant to blind him and give him headaches. He is also wearing a red rubber nose and black caps over his teeth. His eyebrows are shaved off. 
After a rumbling noise, the photo on the Bergerons' TV screen is replaced with an image of Harrison himself, who has stormed the studio. In an attempt to overthrow the government and its handicapping systems, he says that he is the emperor, the greatest ruler in history, and that everyone must obey him. Then he rips off all of his handicaps. He says that the first woman brave enough to stand up will be his empress. A ballerina, presumably the one who reads the report, rises to her feet. Harrison removes her handicaps and mask, revealing a blindingly beautiful woman. 
He orders the musicians to play, saying he will make them royalty if they do their best. Unhappy with their initial attempt, Harrison conducts, waving a couple of musicians in the air like batons, and sings. They try again and do better. After listening to the music, Harrison and his empress dance. Defying gravity, they move through the air, flying 30 feet (9 m) upward to the ceiling, then, still in the air, they kiss each other. 
Diana Moon Glampers, the Handicapper General, comes into the studio and kills Harrison and the empress with a shotgun. Turning the gun on the musicians, she orders them to put their handicaps on in ten seconds, or the same fate will happen to them. The Bergerons' screen goes dark. George, who has left the room to get a beer, returns and asks Hazel why she has been crying. She says that something sad happened on TV, but she cannot remember exactly what. He urges her not to remember sad things. 
A noise sounds in George's head, and Hazel says it sounded like a doozy. He says she can say that again, and she repeats that it sounded like a doozy.
Did anyone watch the Grammy’s?
Afterthought: I find it quite interesting that one of the most blaring example of enforced equality of outcome occurs among strict Muslims.  There all women are veiled almost into anonymity by their hijabs and long robes ... all in the name of modesty.  Often they can't appear in public unescorted or even drive a car. It does appear that, at the extreme, both conservatives and liberals act very much in unison to enforce homogeneity.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Memorable Lines

Tonight, in his State of the Union address, President Obama will deliver a number of memorable lines that will most certainly go down in the annals of history.  Here are just a few of them:

"The New York Rangers have crossed a blue line …"

"If I had a son, he should look a lot like me …"

"We will hunt down all those lawyers … and bring them to the Justice Department …"

"A nursery full of better clingers …"

"Albinos are just typical white persons …"

"If you like your Heath Bar, you can keep it …"

"If you’ve got a business like Solyndra, you didn’t build that …"

"It was all Bush’s fault …"

"You folks … don’t forget … I won …"

Monday, January 27, 2014

reddit Gallery CXVI

Another excursion into the world of reddit pictures.  See reddit Pics  for sources.  Click on pictures to enlarge them.  Enjoy!

African Sunset

USA Antelope Canyon

Dragonfly Wing

Istanbul Mosque

Mandarin Duck

And Another Autobiographical Snippet

Coming up on my 75th birthday, I think it appropriate to post this 15 year old autobiographical snippet which also was an entry on another of my blog sites: Purple Prose:

Upon Reaching Sixty

As I am entering my sixty-first year I feel compelled to reflect on my past life and on what may be my dubious destiny. First, I am all too aware that, if I am very lucky ... given the suspicious quality of my genealogical soup, I should be thrilled to live to eighty. Thus, I am likely now three-quarters of the way through my life journey and, in the distance, I can discern that grimy station at the end of the tracks. Certainly these last twenty years are doubtful to be as rail-smooth and offer the same panoramas as my first three score. In fact, unlike the song’s “purple dust of twilight time,” my dotage will probably be awash with the choking soot of infirmity ... not a very happy thought. And when my train finally pulls into its death-depot, I likely will be fearfully frozen in my berth.

So, why the journey? How is it that I am on this pilgrimage to the worm farm? Can this all evolve from one balmy night in May, 1938 when my parents did the nasty to the strains of “Stardust” lilting out of their brown Philco radio? Does my Dad’s one wriggler and my Mom’s willing ovum beget “me?” Logically, I understand, but emotionally I am confounded. It’s akin to turning the Empire State Building upside down and balancing it on the very tip of its antenna. That one moment of conception is the pin-point fulcrum for my entire life: a massive number of happy ceremonies, bitter failures, transient joys, defining events, greasy hamburgers, loopy ideas, indulged senses, and bodily functions -- all crammed into my sixty trips around the sun. Did my Dad, now gone for almost fifty-five years, really comprehend what he was begetting that May evening? Most unlikely. Sinister Nature makes our procreation so euphoric that we aren’t tempted with consequential thoughts.

And so I was born ... into a planet reluctantly entering the Second World War. The ovens at Treblinka had yet to be built. Jet planes were only a distant, discounted idea. The first computer, Eniac, was still a maze of radio tubes and wires. And our leader in the White House was quietly hardening his arteries with the contents of his theatrical cigarette holder. The town into which I set my tiny ink-stained foot was Greensburg, Pennsylvania; a grimy mill town thirty miles east of Pittsburgh. Greensburg was built, like Rome, on seven rather steep hills. It straddled Route 30, the old Lincoln Highway ... well before the age of truck routes around towns (such “civic planning” destined to drain these towns of their life force.) Our white clapboard house was owned by my mother’s father. It was a modest home, by today’s standards, set high on the eastern hill which cast its morning shadow on the high-school football stadium and a triple set of feeder rails connected to the main line of the Pennsylvania Railroad. The mainline itself framed the town’s northern bluff which, in turn, created the valley through which the Lincoln Highway promenaded.

My bedroom window overlooked this valley and often at night, particularly after my father had closed his eyes forever, I would sit on the edge of my bed watching the trains tightrope their way across the horizon. The wail of their steam whistles drew me to reveries of getting older and traveling to strange new places. Now, I am much older and have traveled to many strange new places. And, unfortunately, trains no longer belch coal smoke and lure dreamers with their mournful trills. It’s as though, as a young boy, I was suddenly able fly across that valley and board that train to my future. And now, having traveled well along to my destination, I yearn to be back in my old bedroom, sitting on my chenille bedspread, staring across the valley at that moving line of lights.

© Copyright, George W. Potts

reddit Gallery CXV -- Agriculture

Another excursion into the world of reddit pictures.  See reddit Pics  for sources.  Click on pictures to enlarge them.  Enjoy!

Rice Paddies

Sunflowers Forever

French Lavender Field

Dutch Tulip Fields

Chinese Tea Plantation

Sunday, January 26, 2014

J.D. Salinger

PBS has just aired a two-hour documentary on J.D. Salinger, the best-selling author of The Catcher in the Rye … originally published in 1951 … and his book sales have once again soared … see: Twin Cities Link.  This documentary revealed many aspects of this writer’s life I had not known … his military service… his first marriage to a German agent … his writing for the New Yorker … his penchant for young girls … his two children by his second marriage … his egomania.  But it really didn’t explain why his first book, The Catcher, was his only true mega- success … see The Daily Beast Story.

As a high-school tutor west of Boston, I have had to reread this book and discuss it with a few of my students … and, in my opinion, it doesn’t hold up well in today’s society.  Holden Caulfield, the protagonist, spends most of this novel’s verbiage railing against the establishment and its icons … puritanical morality, honoring one’s parents, good sportsmanship, hard work, scholastic achievement, and even, believe it or not, diversity.  Good stuff for a kid of the 50’s and early 60’s, but Holden’s targets have now been relegated to the trash heap of modern society.  Most of his dragons have already been slain.

So Salinger’s obsessive desire for the privacy of rural New Hampshire … with his occasional sought-out ego burnishing by the literati set … had it seems some perceptive rationale. Maybe he understood that his ideas would not really age well.  After his passing last year at age 91, I am still left wondering the fate of his second wife and children.  For more of his life story see: IMDB Entry.

Space Shot

The London Sunday Times has a downer story on Richard Branson’s pie-in-the-sky space endeavor, Virgin Galactic.  This effort, started in 2006, was to transport regular citizens into space.  So far this Virgin enterprise president has collected $80 million in deposits (@ $250,000 a pop) from aspiring neophyte astronauts for the trip of a lifetime … see: The Sunday Times Article and Branson has spent a few hundred million himself. 

The only trouble is that some of these depositor’s lifetimes may run out before this spacecraft actually rockets them into space (apparently for only a few short minutes).  The initial launch date set was 2007 and this has been continually revised back … the last ETD being Christmas, 2013 … which didn’t happen.  The next target is August, 2014 for which NBC has promised extensive coverage … see: Next Big Future Piece.

Apparently the rocket that was used in the first VSS Enterprise (now version 2) was underpowered for passengers and had only been able to achieve two sub-orbital test-flights… for extensive details on this evolving process and newer developments see: Dailytech Story

I am not usually as skeptical as I am for this type of endeavor, but I have, in the past, expressed doubts about Richard Branson’s vision and New Mexico’s excessive spending on a spaceport … see: Beam Me Up Scotty.  Now that such flights may possibly (someday) happen, it just seems to this blogger that a few minutes in suborbital space is hardly worth $250,000 and being exposed to the many risks involved … let alone Branson turning it all into a commercial success.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

reddit Gallery CXIV -- Waywardness

Another excursion into the world of reddit pictures.  See reddit Pics  for sources.  Click on pictures to enlarge them.  Enjoy!

The Almost Dress

Allison Brie

Body Paint

Scarlett Johansson and Keira Knightley

Wall Split

Yet Another Autobiographical Snippet

from another one of my blog sites: Purple Prose:

Good & Plenty

As a nine-year old in the late 1940’s, heaven to me was a Saturday matinee at the Manos Theater or the Strand Theater or the Grand Theater in my Pennsylvania hometown, Greensburg. The Grand, behind the courthouse, was the seedier of the three and, therefore, the favorite of the munchkin set. With our silver quarter clutched tightly in our fists, it lured us onto its boisterous ticket queue with a western, a serial, a B-film (generally a comedy or a mystery), and a cartoon. One would enter this cavern of delights after lunch on Saturday and emerge squinting into the late afternoon sun. We never begrudged the squandering of our allowance and much of our Saturday on such frivolity. We were innocents ... we knew not of television or VCRs or Dolby sound systems or the Internet.

Invariably, we spent our whole quarter ... 15 cents to get into the magic shadow show and the rest for such nickel treats as Dots, JuJu Bees, Necco Wafers, Good & Plenty, Red Hots, and that requisite bag of popcorn. Good & Plenty was a favorite since the empty box made the best mouth-tooter to blow in between the features. If one sat in the balcony, half of your popcorn was generally showered on your screaming peers below. Too much popcorn or tooting invariably brought the matron usherette with her ill-fitting brown uniform and massive flashlight. The faded purple braid on her left shoulder rewarded her for what we knew not ... perhaps scowling.

The western proffered usually starred William Boyd (as Hopalong Cassidy) or Gene Autry (and his side-kick, Cannonball) or Lash LaRue or Roy Rogers (and Gabby Hayes). There was always a big posse chase, lots of ricocheting bullets and horse prat falls, but no kissing. If there were western songs, we usually hooted and hollered until the last stanza. The serial would be something like The Perils of Pauline (with Betty Hutton) or Flash Gordon (with Buster Crabb) or Red Ryder (and Little Beaver) or the Lone Ranger or Johnny Weismiller’s Tarzan. Then the main feature could be Charley Chan or Abbott & Costello (meeting Frankenstein or the Wolf Man or the Invisible Man) or Bob Hope and Bing Crosby (on the road to Rio or Bali or Morocco) or Errol Flynn as Robin Hood or Laurel and Hardy in the French Foreign Legion.

Often there was also a Movietone News short which highlighted recent world events in sports, entertainment, and of course, the reconstruction from the war in Europe or the Pacific. But it was the cartoon that took our breath away. Porkie Pig and all his friends coming out of that rainbow bulls-eye was our thrill of the week. And, if perchance there was a second cartoon, we squealed ... for we knew we had been gifted by the gods.

© Copyright George W. Potts

Friday, January 24, 2014

reddit Gallery CXIII

Another excursion into the world of reddit pictures.  See reddit Pics  for sources.  Click on pictures to enlarge them.  Enjoy!

1665 Mortality Statistics

Ali with his 1974 Winnings

Nature;s Symmetry

Hippo and Friends

Pamplona;s Running of the Bulls

Hard Ball

Am I nuts, but does it seem that there is an all-out effort to get conservatives in legal hot water?  We all know of Governor Chris Christie’s troubles in New Jersey.  And former Virginia Governor, Bob McDonnell, is now under federal indictment … see: Washington Post Article … it seems mostly due to his wife’s misdeeds. 

Suddenly, conservative author and filmmaker, Dinesh D’Souza, is under federal indictment for violating federal campaign finance laws … see: Hollywood Reporter Story.  Next conservative activists, James O’Keefe (remember those revealing Acorn videos?), has been targeted by New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo, with subpoenas and document requests … see: Fox News Story.

And this is just on the legal front.  New York City Mayor, Bill DeBlasio, apparently just held back plowing the snow from the areas of the city that didn’t vote for him … see: NY Daily New Article.  (How is this any different from closing down three toll booths on the George Washington Bridge?) And a chin-out Governor Cuomo has also invited anyone opposed to abortion to leave New York State … see: National Review Story.

It is quite disturbing to me to see the heavy hand of liberal government being used to try to cower conservative opponents … just as it would be disturbing if New Jersey Governor Christie was involved in the equivalent.  While many independents in this country are frustrated and calling for moderation, the bellicose libs seem to be ratcheting up the political wars.  The only difference is the brand of baseball being reported in the media … liberals get slow-pitch softball … conservatives are getting quite a parcel of fast-pitch hardball. 

What did former Obama Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, say, “If they bring a knife to a fight, you bring a gun?”

When They Were Young #2

The following early-life pictures come to you courtesy of reddit Pics. Enjoy!

James Dean

The Three ... well you know

Snoop Dog

Fidel Castro

Martha Stewart