Saturday, October 30, 2010

JFK - The Declaration of Independence

"But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."

Goldie Hawn - Like a Hawk

Classic Goldie...

The FBG was 21-31 years old when this film came out in 1984...maybe they missed it.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Update - Approved News Vendors

After leading their enterprises into a propaganda wilderness, CEOs of NBC, ABC, and CNN were fired in September.  I doubt their enterprises will recover...I know they won't in this house.  An insurance company irked me 40-years ago--despite going through a succession of new owners over those 40-years, they never convinced me to spend another penny with them.  And I've managed to pass my boycott notions on to another generation. 

Capt. Sully Sullenberger referred to the USAir revolving door management as being a substantial factor in the problems plaguing his industry. That so-called management style got its start in American industry during the early 1970s even before the Captain started flying.

For at least the past 40-years in my memory large businesses have been "run" by a succession of "professional" managers who mostly come from the financial disciplines, supplied by the "investors" who owned the large enterprises. But that's another story apart from this one.

The breath-taking credibility decline in America's news businesses has reduced once-mighty world news reporters to shadows of their former substance--staffed by people who quite visibly lack the substance of their predecessors.  Soon after the first and second generation owner/managers retired or sold out to "equity investors" came the implementation of professional business controls on the formerly entrepreneurial enterprises, including the arrival of professional managers, and the "mission" to make the news divisions profitable.

Veteran newsmen howled at the thought of introducing the profit motive to the news divisions claiming that it would inevitably lead to the loss of objectivity.  They were right.  What masquerades as "news" these days is mostly propaganda put forth by one corporate entity or another.  And the corporate goal is the same as it always is...vanquish the competition and gain a monopoly until the people rise up against it.  Fox is about all we have left.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Evil - 2

During the 20th Century the collection of thugs shown at right were the personification of EVIL for at least 2-generations of us.  Several of them were lawyers, a couple had advanced degrees, a couple were high-ranking generals...together, all of them were responsible for the deaths of over 50,000,000 people. 

We tried them, then hung 10 of them on 16 October 1946.  They generally ranged in age between 45 - 55, with only a few of them older than that.  Until they were brought to justice, they had about 10-12 years of living a high life, leading the massacre of millions, and causing the destruction of their country.

They probably didn't set out to become  the bastards they ultimately became, but some people have trouble managing power.  Be that as it may, their faces and names are forever inscribed on the roles of the truly evil. 

As I mentioned in the last posting, people like this intrigue and puzzle me.  I wonder why they became what they became and I also wonder if it is possible to determine anything that could be applied to living people among us.  Beats me, but its worth keeping the knowledge of this kind of evil available to teach our young and hopefully enable them to become even more cautious in their daily dealings with others.

As teaching American History in our schools seems to be a declining imperative we might consider helping our own learn some of the things they need to know.  In 1974 the BBC made a 26-part series that put a tremendous amount of WWII history into video format.  Nothing like it has been done since, nor is it ever likely to be.  The World at War included interviews with a number of high ranking leaders of the USA, Britain, and Germany who have now taken their places in history...should that history continue to be learned.  It's a good investment and much more meaningful now than it was when I recall seeing parts of it on TV over 35-years ago.  There are 11 DVD discs in the set and it is readily available on eBay. 


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Evil - 1

Evil is's dangerous, insidious, and not worthy of too much thought.  However, ignoring it doesn't strike me as being very wise either. 

Bundy and Dahmer we know.  This Assange character puzzles me.  He seems to reside somewhere between noble and evil, depending on who owns the gored ox. 

There is little doubt that releasing some of our military secrets to the world could harm our people, but it would seem that putting such sensitive information in the hands of an Army private who then gave it away is pretty negligent also.  The responsibility for that lapse in judgment lies within our own military management structure who may now be seeking to deflect their own culpability. 

Any larger business organization will have people who, after screwing up, would go to great lengths to cover up their own negligence and responsibility.  There is some sense that they must be perfect in all matters.  An experienced manager will back his or her people, even when they screw up, providing they don't make a habit of it or try to cover up.  Unfortunately, it seems more and more that we lack experienced managers these days.

Well, we know 2 of the stories illustrated.  The third one will clarify in time.  Can anything be inferred from the faces?  I don't know.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Ringing the Bell

Perhaps you have heard about the outrage playing out in Bell, CA, a suburban town of about 36,000 in the Los Angeles area. This is where the City Council and its Manager have been stuffing their own pockets with millions of dollars taken from the blue collar residents in the form of exorbitant property taxes and fees.

They have been arrested and charged now, but still, one can only wonder how many other small towns across our nation are in the grip of similar corruption.

Troy, NY (pop. 49,000) made the news this week involving what has the appearance of a systemic practice of corruption where the local political machine is accused of casting phony ballots for itself. Of course, this is the political silly season.

How bad can things get? Well, if you were a resident of Naples today, the answer is, pretty darned bad.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Our Savior

Citizens of Nevada: Sit him down, wipe the oatmeal from his chin, pin a note to his sweater, and please spare the rest of us.

Post election: The citizens of Nevada returned him to our Senate.  He represents a majority of Nevadans.  I am through with Nevada and Nevadans.  Phooey.

Bravo - Michael Roberts

I flew a few weeks after 9-11, the planes were mostly empty and it was a good time to use some of my frequent flier miles. Security was very tight and the sparse passengers eyed each other intensely. Over the period of a few years, the TSA was formed and began to define its job. I clearly recall standing with my arms apart while some dink ran a wand all over me, thinking...I'm a veteran, my father was a veteran, so were my grandfather and his father, and so was Grandpa Jim who served in the Revolution. All of us volunteered for service and all of us saw combat...and these low-level slugs, who probably never served, are running a wand all over me?

Well, that was the thought going through my mind. A week ago something like that went through pilot, Mike Roberts' mind when he declined to submit to a full body scan while going to his Expressjet plane in Memphis. Bravo, Mike. Here's the story in case you might have missed it:

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (CBS/AP) — A Tennessee pilot who says he’s tired of being manhandled by security agents is waiting to see if he will lose his job because he refused a full body scan.

ExpressJet Airlines first officer Michael Roberts was chosen for the X-ray scan Friday at Memphis International Airport. The Houston-based pilot says he also refused a pat-down and went home.

The 35-year-old Roberts told The Commercial Appeal newspaper he wants to go to work and not be “harassed or molested without cause.”

Transportation Security Administration spokesman Jon Allen says a person was turned away after refusing to follow federal security procedures but declined to say if it was Roberts, citing privacy considerations.

Roberts says he has safety concerns, but called TSA a “make-work” program that doesn’t make travel safer.

“I just kind of had to ask myself ‘Where do I stand?’ I’m just not comfortable being physically manhandled by a federal security agent every time I go to work,” he told the Commercial Appeal.

Earlier this week, CBSNewYork reported that full-body scanners have not yet been installed at New York City area airports, despite plans that were in place to have them installed at Newark Liberty International, John F. Kennedy International, and LaGuardia airports by September.

The Transportation Security Administration told The Star-Ledger of Newark the installation is complex and the scanners would arrive “in the coming weeks.”

Passengers who prefer not to be scanned can choose to be patted down and pass through a metal detector.

TSA spokesman Ann Davis says passengers are no less safe. She says the scanners are designed to be faster and less physically intrusive than metal detectors and pat-downs.

The TSA has installed 259 scanners at 59 airports nationwide.

Bravo Michael

Thursday, October 21, 2010

NPR - Juan Williams

The daily flush of raw so-called news sewage came through today as an NPR item. A left-leaning commentator, Juan Williams, who I actually don't mind listening to, was fired from his NPR job night before last for saying on Fox News something that he was thinking with regard to Muslims.

Ellen, his titular boss, called him to say he was terminated from his 10-year association with NPR and that nothing he could say in person would change the decision. Vivian, Ellen's feckless boss, publicly defended the reprehensible decision today. If you want to know more about this silly stuff, there are enough names and facts included here to Google for more information.

No offense ladies, but I'm grateful that I never had to work for a female boss, pee in a bottle at work, or submit myself and my SSN for harebrained background checks.  I would probably have taken the same path Michael Roberts, an Expressjet pilot took yesterday at the Memphis TSA check point. Fukit. Bravo Michael.

Juan, you chose your own poison, bud. Time to pull the plug on tax supported NPR, it is nothing more than a Liberal-Progressive blowhole sucking a tax-supported teat.

Followup note:  Ellen was forced out about 2-months after this event (and she most likely didn't initiate Juan's firing even though she made the phone call...she was probably Vivian's designated scapegoat).  Vivian was forced out about 4-months after Juan's firing, as a result of another NPR scandal.  Juan is doing well, 


The Beach

My uncle worked for an oil company in Corpus Christi which gave us a free place to stay during our 1950s summer vacations to the Padre Island beach. The beaches were pristine, the surf small, some hammerheads, and there were very few people out there.

You could drive for miles directly on the beach at surf’s edge until you found a completely empty spot without another car in sight. I roasted myself on every visit and searched for treasures amongst the sand dunes. You took a couple of big ice chests full of food and drinks and cooked over an open fire. At day’s end, you couldn’t wait to get into a shower to wash off the sand and salt. These were the days before kids had the resources or permission to go to places like that on their own, so the parents were always along.

Meanwhile, out in Hawthorne, the Beach Boys were growing up and going to their own beaches…the ones just down the street a short distance from their house…and starting to write songs about it. Their LA county beaches were different in several ways. There were abundant hamburger stands nearby, much larger waves, a few Great Whites, and a ton of people out there…upwards of a half-million beach goers some summer days.

Without doubt the first culture shock a sixties Texas kid got after walking out on a sixties California beach was the clear recognition that you weren’t in Texas any more. The first thing you noticed was that there wasn’t a funky swimsuit in sight. Unlike our demure Texas girls at that time, the California girls had embraced the relatively new bikini, and everywhere you looked was a sea of skin and long, straight hair, much of it blonde.

It wasn’t a complete nirvana though. There was a lot of jailbait which was difficult to accurately identify. Nevertheless, the scenery was striking and the waves were often large and powerful. It was a good place at a good time and the Beach Boys had it right in their songs. Understanding the surfer slang was something else, though.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Hawthorne "A"

If you had a friend living in southern California about the time we graduated from EHHS, and were able to spend a few summers visiting there, you would consider yourself lucky. I recall a cute blonde girl named Sandra Fish at Meadowbrook Jr. High who moved out to California about 1960 and when she came back to visit a year or so later, her speech patterns, dance moves, and mannerisms were so different from ours that it was amazing. After a short time she was no longer a naive young Texan, she was pure surfer girl.  In those few years we were at EHHS, Southern California brought forth Gidget in 3 incarnations, several Beach Blanket movies with Frankie and Annette, and the Boys...the Beach Boys.

My first summer out there was a real culture shock. It took me almost 2-years to figure out how to effectively communicate with them. The sixties California youth culture was a combination of a number of different interests; fast custom cars, surfin, hobie cats, cutting edge rock music, long-haired beach-bunnies, hip-huggers & bell bottoms (thanks, Cher), and sports cars of all kinds. Long-haired hippies and drugs were still 2-3 years away; preppie and surfer-style was still in.

Add about 8 or 9 other youth cultures, all doing their things at break-neck speed, and you had a massive amount of living going on—all of it being done within the confines of each culture…they didn’t mix with one another and there was very little conflict between them.  Back in Ft. Worth, we had just begun to consider that we might just grow together with Dallas and become an "area" but Los Angeles was already an "area" containing a population about 600% larger than DFW.

Besides the daily treks down to the beach to look fruitlessly for Gidget and Annette, my friend said we should go up to the Hawthorne "A" one weekend and watch the cars drive through.  I had no idea what he was talking about.  However, to the "A" we went one Saturday night, getting there early enough to claim a rare parking spot.  The show that night has remained burned into my memory for almost 50-years now; and finding a picture of the Hawthorne "A" is a rare accomplishment, indeed--it was torn down long ago.

Hawthorne is a smallish blue-collar community about 5-miles inland from Manhattan Beach, just southeast of the LAX airport.  It's where the Beach Boys grew up and went to high school.  And by the time I got to see it, the "A" was famous throughout the Los Angeles youth culture, drawing kids from the furthermost suburbs in all directions who came with their custom-built hod-rods just to drive through the "A" and show-off.

The show was amazing...candy apple paint jobs, big motors with cut-outs pulled, a lot of chrome, and one of every kind of car imaginable.  Off-duty Hawthorne police handled traffic control, lining the cars up along the curb as far back as the kids wanted to line-up.  And the endless parade would start...once through slowly, and then out the back, down the alley, back onto Hawthorne Blvd., up to the end of the line, and start the process again.  This went on for hours every Friday and Saturday night.

The Beach Boys had moved to the fancier part of town, Brian was starting to screw himself up, Sonny & Cher had just started singing their stuff, Caroll Shelby was building his remarkable cars a few blocks away, and the current crop of LA kids were completely caught up in the surfer culture--it was their life, that and the fast cars.  Some of the lyrics of the Beach Boys song, Fun-Fun-Fun are said to refer to the Hawthorne "A".

Well, she got her daddy's car
And she cruised through the hamburger stand, now
Seems she forgot all about the library
Like she told her old man, now
And with the radio blastin' goes
Crusin' just as fast as she can, now
And she'll have fun, fun, fun 
'Til her daddy takes the T-bird away
(Fun, fun, fun, 'til her daddy takes the T-bird away)


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Atomic Bombs

Almost immediately after WWII ended in 1945, the Berlin blockade began, followed by the Berlin Airlift, and in quick succession came Yeager breaking the sound barrier, the introduction of jet aircraft, Von Braun’s missiles, and the Korean War. In 6 or 7 short years our society had been transformed from an active war footing to a so-called “Cold War” footing.

Our 1950s workforce was filled with young, energetic men who had just recently been a part of a regimented and powerful organization that had vanquished some real villains. They came home and went to college or work in record numbers, and they stood ready to take on new threats without hesitation. They built an Interstate Highway system, an all-jet commercial airline industry, a space program, massive new suburbs, and along with all that, a vibrant “military-industrial complex.”

For those of us who grew up in North Texas during those years, tangible examples of their military industriousness took the form of frequent sonic booms overhead, missile launches brought to our homes via the nightly TV news, and unknown to us, a few Carswell-based B-36 bombers flying around the DFW area carrying nuclear reactors aboard them.

The evening news in those days frequently told of an atomic bomb detonation at the Nevada Test Site as there were just over 1000 bombs detonated there over an 11-year period. The last of them was set off during our last summer as a Highlander—July 1962.

Thankfully, we didn’t have any exposure to anything like those tests in the DFW area. To me, the West in those days seemed like another country…somewhere way out there…

I am very familiar with the Los Angeles basin as a result of doing some projects out there. Recently, as I was looking for some old pictures of the LA area, I happened on the picture posted above. It was taken at night in 1955 from downtown Los Angeles—see the lights turned on inside the buildings? The white glow above the buildings is the flash from an atomic bomb detonated over 300 miles to the northeast. This was one of about 100 atmospheric detonations that were included in the over 1000 bombs set off in Nevada during the years 1951-1962. Guess the sonic booms we had to contend with were much less nerve wracking than this startling scene.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Chicken Shit

During my Vietnam military service it seemed that a tremendous amount of time was simply wasted. I suppose it’s just the nature of it—better to waste time than getting your ass shot off. With so much time available to observe things, you couldn’t miss seeing a lot of both funny and dumb stuff.  And sometimes, just for your own amusement, you made something up to see how someone would handle the situation.

The WWII Sad Sack comics lampooned military silliness; so did Bill Mauldin’s Willie & Joe; but for me the less well known Private Breger in Britain comics made some of the more lasting impressions. A couple of my favorites are included in this posting.

Is it any wonder that when we went off to Vietnam service, the military establishment had trouble figuring out how to deal with us? A significant percentage of us had either a degree or part of one. And with our having been exposed to the WWII attitudes of our fathers, is it any wonder that we took certain notions into the service with us?

The term chicken-shit came out of WWII and wasn’t lost on us.  For a great example of chicken-shit illustrated in film, take a closer look at John Larroquette's Captain Stillman character in Stripes. Pay special attention to his odd salute, repeated several times…that’s chicken-shit.  Guess you had to be there...and I think that at least one of the sceen writers had been.


Monday, October 11, 2010

General George S. Patton & Sgt. Bill Mauldin

While I was growing up, there were 3 small WWII cartoon books in our home library that Dad had purchased while he was in the Army Air Force. I discovered them sometime in the mid-1950s when I was about 10 and many times went through them cover to cover. Those little books no doubt had a significant part in shaping my sense of humor.

The books were: Sad Sack, by Sgt. George Baker, who worked for Yank, the Army Weekly; Private Breger in Britain, by Sgt. Dave Breger, who also worked for Yank, the Army Weekly; and the last one was Up Front, by Sgt. Bill Mauldin, who worked for Stars and Stripes, the Army newspaper.

Bill Mauldin’s book was the most interesting of the 3 because Mauldin drew the most attention from the Army brass and most especially, the attention of General George S. Patton. A Wikipedia article rightly relates, “Those officers who had served in the army before the war were generally offended by Mauldin, who parodied the spit-shine and obedience-to-order-without-question view that was more easily maintained during that time of peace. General George S. Patton once summoned Mauldin to his office and threatened to "throw his ass in jail" for "spreading dissent," this after one of Mauldin's cartoons made fun of Patton's demand that all soldiers must be clean-shaven at all times, even in combat.

But Dwight Eisenhower, Supreme Commander European Theater, told Patton to leave Mauldin alone, because he felt that Mauldin's cartoons gave the soldiers an outlet for their frustrations. Mauldin told an interviewer later, "I always admired Patton. Oh, sure, the stupid bastard was crazy. He was insane. He thought he was living in the Dark Ages. Soldiers were peasants to him. I didn't like that attitude, but I certainly respected his theories and the techniques he used to get his men out of their foxholes.”

Mauldin described walking into Patton’s office for that meeting as “gazing into four of the meanest eyes I had ever seen.” The extra pair of mean eyes belonged to Patton’s dog, Willie. The Mauldin cartoon of the magnificent scenery is one that particularly rankled Patton.

Mauldin wrote, ”The ideal officer in any army knows his business. He is firm and just. He is saluted and given the respect a man who knows enough about war to boss soldiers around in it should have. He is given many privileges, which all officers are happy to accept and he is required, in return, to give certain things which a few officers chose to ignore. I try to make life as miserable as possible for those few.

”Since I am an enlisted man, and have served under many officers, I have a great deal of respect for the good ones and a great deal of contempt for the bad ones. A man accepts a commission with his eyes open, and if he does not intend to take responsibilities as well as privileges, he is far lower than the buck private who realizes his own limitations and keeps that rank.

”I never worry about hurting the feelings of the good officers when I draw officer cartoons. I build a shoe and if somebody wants to put it on and loudly announce that it fits, that’s his own affair."


Sunday, October 10, 2010

General George S. Patton

You've probably seen the 1970 film, Patton, many times over the years since it was first screened in the theaters. I was so taken with George C. Scott's portrayal of Patton that I read a couple of books about Patton and determined that Scott had really captured Patton's character about as well as could have been done. Scott's physical appearance was eerily similar to Patton's as the photos above show.

Military historians generally credit General Courtney Hodges, commander of the First Army, as having carried a much larger load in Europe than General Patton had with his smaller Third Army. However, Patton was much better at garnering publicity. Men who served in Patton's Third Army were often mixed in their appreciation of their former commander. Nevertheless, Patton was, without doubt, a soldier's soldier.

Sharp portraits of General Patton are difficult to find online. He was tragically killed in a car accident in late 1945 and was buried in the Luxembourg American Cemetery with his grave symbolically placed at the head of his former soldiers, most of whom died in the Battle of the Bulge.

If you are a fan of well-done war movies, this one is one of the best and it is faithful to the man it portrays.


Saturday, October 09, 2010

Pretty Girls – Part 2

Continuing with the thought started in the last post (and here), these HQ portrait scans support the notion that pretty ladies have always been among us. The oldest portrait is one taken by Matthew Brady in 1865, implying the attractive young lady was born in the 1830s or 1840s.

Choices of hairstyles and cosmetics clearly varied over time. Paul Harvey, the noted radio commentator of years past, liked to say that, “times change, but human nature doesn’t. The young Roman lad driving his chariot to town had exactly the same thoughts when he saw a good looking young lady along the road as a young lad has today.” 

And so it goes

Friday, October 08, 2010

Pretty Girls – Part 1

Let’s face it guys, we’ve been wired all our lives to appreciate a pretty girl when we see one. It started sometime around the 6th or 7th grade and to a greater or lesser degree has been with us for over 50-years now. I have little doubt that if we are blessed enough to live a decade or two longer, we will have been a captive of that part of nature for upwards of 70-years before we check out.

Our problem is that for the most part we never advanced our taste in women much beyond that 18-40 year age range. That problem has gotten us into trouble with wives, elicited an “eww” now and then, and has generally caused us to suppress a portion of our fundamental nature…probably for the best, all things considered.

Photography has been with us for little more than a 160-years now, and although it always seemed logical to me that some young women of past centuries were most likely just as attractive as those of that age range today, I’ve never really seen an old picture of one. However, with so much available online today, it is possible to explore the subject a bit.

For instance, the collage above shows a couple of popular and very attractive film stars of the early 1960s and a couple of 1962 Highlanders, Carol Warkentin and Carol Reeder, who I always thought were very attractive. I think our Highlander girls compared very favorably with the best Hollywood put on the screen in those days, don’t you?

Dieu merci pour les jolies filles

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Life In Prison

Dude tried to blow up Times Square a few months back. He got a life sentence yesterday, even though his car was a dud. In a last hurrah, he had a few intimidating words to say, but no one seemed too troubled by them.  Then he was removed from our courtroom and from our society--forever.

Reminded me of a couple of other little desperados from our youth who also tried to intimidate us. They were young toughs then…today they are just a couple of little old convicts who have been in a cage for the past 40 or so, years.

On the other hand, they've got free health care, free housing, free meals, no utility bills, free cable TV, maybe even Internet access, and don't have to be concerned about a cop pulling them over for something or a local inspector telling them to mow their weeds.


Tuesday, October 05, 2010


Outspoken atheists make me cringe.  It's not so much that I'm a devout Christian, although I am a Christian.  For me, it's more a feeling of sorrow for those people who feel it useful in their lives to proclaim their atheist status.  It seems like they are taking a huge risk.  I suppose none of us on this side of the dirt will ever know for certain.

However, sometimes on this side of the dirt you might see some indications of the path ahead for some people.  Christopher Hitchens, 61, who has long been an intelligent writer, commentator, and outspoken atheist has now entered a battle that he may not survive.  Bill Maher, 54, appears to be in good health; however, I've seen him recently going into his own tirades against Christianity and religion.  Time will tell...sometimes the cop is not watching, but sometimes he is.


Friday, October 01, 2010

Door Day 5,6+


It's a solid, heavy door.  The latch engages about 1/4" with an audible click--a vigorous pull won't open it.  Rubbing along a thick carpet presents significant resistance to opening--a light breeze won't open it. 

As I mentioned in the previous post, I found the door open, slightly ajar on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday mornings this past week.  It opened a second time in the late evening Friday, breaking the pattern for the first time.  

Saturday morning...(October 2, 2010), it was not open.

Sunday morning it is not open.

Nor on Monday...

Update:  (October 25,2010), it has not been open since Oct. 1, when the pattern was first broken!

Update:  (January 12, 2011), it has not been open since Oct. 1.

Update: (July 20, 2011), the door was found open on only 2 separate occasions since the last update in January.

Update:   (January 28, 2012), No further activity.