Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Cloward-Piven "Crisis Strategy" Is Very Real

OTR has offered his readers many opportunities to learn about this strategy over the last two years. One of its authors, Frances Fox Piven, has called for its use in 2011 to overload welfare systems across the nation, create a fiscal crisis, and force the national government to support a "federally guaranteed national income." OTR thinks it is fair to call Piven an experienced academic community organizer who is delighted at having a fellow organizer in the Oval Office. Readers already know that the Obama administration, according to now Chicago mayor-in-waiting, Rahm Emanuel, is not one to let a crisis go to waste. Piven knows this may be her last, best hope to put the strategy to effective use and undermine our capitalist economy.

For the back story as well as potential impacts on you and your family, check out this Stanley Kurtz link at The Corner. Be sure to read the Ron Radosh link for the story about Piven's call to action in the latest issue of The Nation.

It is hard for OTR to understand how some who have benefited so much from the American experience could hold so much hate for this country.

The Absurd Concept Of "Settled Science"

As a historical geographer, OTR studied a variety of earth sciences including geology and geomorphology, hydrology, meteorology and climate, and biology. His training left him with an appreciation of science as a methodology for exploring our world. Under the right circumstances, where variables are understood and controlled, the same methodology can lead to a replication of results and statistically significant predictions.

Scale is an important variable in this pursuit. It is one thing to develop a formula for the mechanics of scree slope formation and quite another to prove a world climate model. Those who are familiar with the National Hurricane Center's forecast model ensemble recognize immediately that there is no such thing as "settled science" when it comes to hurricane prediction. OTR believes this conclusion casts serious doubt on world climate science. No doubt the climate is ever-changing. It's just a bit complicated defining if, when, where and how that change is "settled."

S. Fred Singer has more to say on this subject in Tuesday's Washington Times. He is an environmental scientist at the University of Virginia and former director of the United States Weather Satellite Service.

Hat tip to William Katz at Urgent Agenda who has some comment on climate and the mainstream media that readers will find interesting.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

American Jazz Master, Billy Taylor, Passes Away

Billy Taylor, a pianist and composer who was also an eloquent spokesman and advocate for jazz as well as a familiar presence for many years on television and radio, died on Tuesday in Manhattan.

Taylor formed his own trio in 1951 and performed across the nation while developing a reputation as a lecturer and author. Many readers may remember him from his appearances on The David Frost Show and his programs on public radio and television, all beginning in the late '60s. Here is his New York Times obituary, continuing from the quotation above.

We can't leave the subject without listening to Taylor, the performer and teacher. These videos--two of five available on YouTube--were recorded at a master class at the Kennedy Center in Washington. The first shows Taylor at his best as performer, the second, as teacher with his protege, Christian Sands . The three additional videos from this class feature some fine performances by three young musicians who will be in the future of American music.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Renew! Renew!

One of OTR's favorite films--not close as a top lister, but still entertaining-- is Logan's Run. He couldn't help but post this satirical take on the film now that Democrats have written end-of life planning into a regulation after removing it from Obamacare legislation. Looks like required death planning is with us after all. Those who administer such planning will be called anything but a "death" panel.

Democrat Congressman Earl Blumenauer (Oregon) is responsible for this concept, but he is encouraging his fellow Democrats to keep quiet about the regulation. You can read more about it here on Moonbattery. Rest assured you will not be hearing about it from ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, CNN, NYT, WaPo and other leftist media.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Meeting Margaret At The Farm On Old Receiver Bridge Road

Working in Washington afforded me the opportunity to meet some remarkable people. I was 26 and newly employed in the National Park Service at the Great Falls Tavern on the C&O Canal and the Potomac River. The canal and river at the fall line attracted many who had more than a passing interest in life. If anything, they were not about to let life happen to them. Instead, they grabbed opportunity and made the best of it. They loved the natural setting of the Great Falls of the Potomac and its river gorge just northwest of Washington. They loved history and the preservation opportunities afforded in multiple layers of settlement history over many centuries along the banks of the Potomac. They also loved their country, and many of them had defended it through employment in the armed services and the more clandestine agencies including the CIA and NSA. In their leisure time, they hiked the canal towpath and its more challenging trails on Billy Goat Island, did technical climbing in the Potomac Gorge, or took on the river challenges in canoes and kayaks as members of the Canoe Cruisers Association. They were a unique group. They loved to party, as well.

I liked to party, too, but I had yet to experience the drive that compelled many of my fellow partiers. Except for our intrepid leader who already retired from a career in the Navy and the National Security Agency, we were novices at challenging life and we relished opportunities to share in our “elders’” war stories. I especially recall an early evening event at Lock House 6 on the canal where we enjoyed drinks and hors d’oeuvres listening to one individual practicing verbal judo on social and world affairs. It was obvious he enjoyed being the center of attention and we allowed him to occupy the stage. I didn’t know what to call him then. Today, he would be one of the few polymaths I have had the privilege to meet. Not only did he seem to know something about everything, he knew what, to me, was everything about an astounding range of social and political subjects. He was a fountain that fed my “Potomac Fever” at every word. All his knowledge seemed wrapped in a nerdy, quirky personality almost as repulsive as it was attractive. But he was not alone, and it was satisfying to watch this cast party of the Greatest Generation unfold before me. As the party wore on, he announced that he had to leave, but would be quite willing to entertain again the following Saturday, at the farm of his friend, Margaret, one of his colleagues. It was an intriguing invitation for me, so I carefully noted the directions to Margaret’s farm in the rolling Piedmont just west of Frederick, Maryland. He announced he would be arriving there by helicopter late in the afternoon and we should plan to meet him at that time.

After our guest had left, our hosts remarked how unusual he was, dropping in unannounced, capturing everyone’s attention only to disappear for months or years at a time. He was an ephemeral being. They described him as a brilliant personality, a well-respected leader in the intelligence community who as a storyteller lived as much in the world of fantasy as in reality. Their comments only heightened my desire to be a member of the party at the farm. That following Saturday, I made certain to bring a change of clothes so I could shed my uniform, dress in civvies and head north on Interstate 270 toward Frederick without returning to my home in New Carrollton.

Although I had explicit directions, finding Old Receiver Bridge Road proved challenging, but I did find Old Receiver Road. It, however, proved to be a puzzlement. I had no phone number for Margaret, no last name, no local contact, And none of the locals had ever heard of Old Receiver BRIDGE Road. I drove up and down Old Receiver Road several times looking for the specific landmarks the guest had given me. Many were there, but it was a foreign landscape in the end. Nothing made sense. I returned home that evening a disappointed voyager. Had I been duped or was I just a poor listener? When I had a chance to ask my host at Lock House 6 about Margaret, he said he didn’t know of her or her farm. He also admitted there was no way he could contact his guest. Apparently he was as much a mystery to my host as he was to me. Either that or I was not in a “need to know” position. And either way, I never saw him again.

Over forty years, I have never given up on Margaret’s farm on Old Receiver Bridge Road. Earlier, I thought so much of it as a title, I intended to write a short story around the subject. Google Earth has provided me a chance to explore what is called Old Receiver Road and its remnants. Today, it rises at the foot of the Frederick Municipal Forest. It has farms and a threat of upscale subdivisions moving in from the east. The fragmented landscape has many ghosts. Could Margaret still be there? Was she ever there? I’ll never know. The polymath is a distant memory and my host passed away in Florida in 2007. I am left to run up and down that road in my mind and wonder where meeting Margaret, the polymath and other partiers may have taken me at a formative time in my early adulthood. I can only say it was a wonder meeting such fascinating people and, though I never encountered many of them for more than a few times over two to three years, their memories and influences were quite strong in shaping who I was then and what I have become. I like the mystery of it all and am content to let it be.

Photo: Old Receiver Road, Frederick, Maryland. Is it Margaret's farm?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Young, Bold; Big, Brass

The Borderline Sociopathic Blog for Boys posted this video earlier this week. Kinda caught my attention.

Bob Feller Walks On The Field Of Dreams

OTR was ten when Bob Feller ended his extraordinary pitching career after the 1956 season. To the boys in Maryland's Georges Creek Valley, the pitcher of renown would always be our hometown boy, Lefty Grove, but finding a Feller card in your bubble gum pack was still golden. Feller passed away earlier this week. The New York Times provides a first-rate obituary for one of baseball's greatest stars.

Photo: dbking

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Benoit Mandelbrot's Fractal Dimension

Some months ago, OTR noted the passing of Benoit Mandelbrot, the father of fractals. Mandelbrot's geometry has given us a new way of viewing and measuring the complex natural world around us. Thinking "fractal" has also led to some surprising and diverse applications in our everyday lives. National Public Broadcasting's NOVA series has rebroadcast a fascinating 2008 program on the man and his legacy entitled, Hunting the Hidden Dimension.

Though the subject itself may look too complex and esoteric for evening entertainment, don't be misled. It's a fast 52 minutes of biography, science, art, and mathematics with broad appeal. Here's your link. Grab some popcorn, settle back, and enjoy this amazing exploration of the world around us.

Monday, December 13, 2010

You Shouldn't Be Able To Cancel Anything For Weather In A State Where People Voluntarily Ice Fish

Powerline's Scott Johnson brings to our attention a very entertaining column by Jason Gay on the Minneapolis Metrodome collapse. OTR can hear the laughter already.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Michelle Rhee: Making Change In Florida

OTR seldom listens to talk radio, but he did awake this morning to Neal Boortz, who rants on his program as the chief priest of what he calls "The Church of the Painful Truth." After more than twenty years as a resident of Atlanta, Boortz recently honored his wife's wish to relocate to Florida, Naples to be exact. They owned a condo there for many years, so Boortz has often found "local" political themes to bring to his listeners and his website. That was the case this morning when he mentioned the significance of Michelle Rhee's appointment as Florida's Commissioner of Education. Rhee made significant improvements in Washington, DC, as chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools system. Rhee's extraordinary reforms, among other politics, energized the local teachers unions to oppose the re-election of Mayor Adrian Fenty. He was defeated in the November elections. Rhee resigned prior to the election after seeing its outcome on the horizon.

Boortz sees this loss for Washington students as a great opportunity for Florida, a state without an income tax, but one burdened by a mediocre school system. If Rhee, as a member of Republican Governor Rick Scott's cabinet, can work her magic on the schools, Florida should once again become a magnet for those who understand and appreciate the value and meaning of entrepreneurship, wealth preservation and quality education. Boortz also sees Florida's expansion as very costly to Georgia, a state in need of serious educational reform. Georgia could well be flirting with ending its income tax, already having done so for virtually all retirees, but many of its schools would continue to stall improvement particularly in core urban centers and small rural counties.

It will be interesting for OTR to see how Georgia handles the competition from her southern neighbor. Unless Georgia's leadership wakes up to the pending Scott-Rhee reforms and the tax differential, Boortz predicts that a savvy Atlanta businessman could make a fortune arranging relocations to the Sunshine State. The people will always gravitate to multiple opportunities. Boortz generally avoids inflammatory rhetoric, so OTR respects his interpretation of this pending scenario. Perhaps this wake-up call could bring the necessary improvements to the Peach State. Imagine the two coastal states of Georgia and Florida as a great magnet with a combined population of 26,000,000 people (2010), 40 congressmen, no state income tax, other business-friendly incentives, quality education systems at all levels, and a superb geography and climate. This is, for certain, the kind of hope and change that Americans are waiting for. Rhee could play a major role in that transformation. OTR wishes her the best.

Pearl: 69 Years Ago Today

NPR has a link to several stories from those who survived this "Day of Infamy."

Photo: Naval History and Heritage Command. The caption:

Photograph taken from a Japanese plane during the torpedo attack on ships moored on both sides of Ford Island. View looks about east, with the supply depot, submarine base and fuel tank farm in the right center distance.
A torpedo has just hit USS West Virginia on the far side of Ford Island (center). Other battleships moored nearby are (from left): Nevada, Arizona, Tennessee (inboard of West Virginia), Oklahoma (torpedoed and listing) alongside Maryland, and California.
On the near side of Ford Island, to the left, are light cruisers Detroit and Raleigh, target and training ship Utah and seaplane tender Tangier. Raleigh and Utah have been torpedoed, and Utah is listing sharply to port.
Japanese planes are visible in the right center (over Ford Island) and over the Navy Yard at right.
Japanese writing in the lower right states that the photograph was reproduced by authorization of the Navy Ministry.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"The People Who Cast The Votes Decide Nothing. The People Who Count The Votes Decide Everything"

Like most Americans who are aware of current affairs, OTR knows that communism has its share of sympathizers in the United States. The Communist Party USA (CPUSA) is their organization, but it's official hard-core membership is at best in the low thousands. Still, the broad appeal of much of the party's ideology to the "oppressed" classes makes the CPUSA presence on the national stage far greater than its membership would indicate. That presence makes for some nice linkages.

One of the links in this leftist network is Minnesota's Secretary of State, Mark Ritchie. Ritchie played a significant role in the "election" of Al Franken. Now he's playing the same role in the race for Minnesota's governor. Read more about it here.

It's no wonder that the anti-capitalist George Soros has created and funded organizations to install leftists as secretaries of state across the nation. He has no issue with using any politics in order to establish European style socialism--it's a recognized failure-- in the United States.

Whether we like it or not, the full political spectrum has every right to exist in our republic. The key is making sure that spectrum follows the high moral and ethical standards set forth in our founding documents and perpetuated through our courts. This is a high calling and a difficult one as well, but those who value freedom must be ever vigilant. Anything less charts a perilous course.

Title: Joseph Stalin; from the Soros link found in the link above.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Wikileaks Holds America Hostage; Obama Fiddles, Carter Smiles

Blogging at Legal Insurrection, William A. Jacobson nails it with a nice assemblage of information on the meaning of the release of over 250,000 State Department cables by the folks at Wikileaks. A sample opinion:

The Wikileaks folks trot the globe with impunity and funnel documents to the press at will, for the purpose of damaging U.S. relations with other countries, our war efforts, and our intelligence capability. And we do almost nothing about it.

Whether or not someone gets killed as a direct result of a Wikileaks disclosure, the damage to our country is deep, as allies and sources among enemies will stop cooperating with us for fear of exposure, our diplomats will be hesitant to speak frankly with headquarters, and our intelligence on al-Qaeda and others will be compromised.

This is a short blog entry, to the point, and featuring several links if you want more information. Worth your time. Read it here.

Tip to the Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

CNN's Parker Makes Up American History

OTR really takes umbrage at such blatant ignorance. One would think a national news reporter would have a working knowledge of American history. It was a prerequisite for the national broadcast journalists he grew up with in the 1950s and 1960s. Huntley and Brinkley would have been laughed out of the industry had they made such blunders. That was then, this is now.

So who cares if CNN's Kathleen Parker tells her audience that Alexander Hamilton was an illegal immigrant who wrote the Constitution. Even her co-host, Eliot Spitzer, surely a trustworthy beacon of excellence in journalism, didn't catch the error. With history departments across the country going the way of Latin departments a decade ago, who would know--or care--that her statement is hogwash? OTR knows and cares.

For the record, Hamilton came to the COLONIES "from the British West Indies in 1774." There was no back door because there was no Unites States at that point. Furthermore, Hamilton DID NOT write the Constitution. He did however write a substantial portion of the Federalist Papers that helped convince delegates to ratify the document.

And speaking of ignorance and American history, OTR would love to see Barack Obama's college transcripts. So far, he seems well qualified for an anchor position at a CNN news desk. Indeed, Obama is quite an "anchor" when it come to American history. But why worry, he not a journalist, he's just President of the United States.

Bertoldt Brecht, Mixed Social-Profit Models, And Repossessed Goats

Economics remains a "soft" science, but it is firming up nicely with improvements in data collection and processing. And there could be some astounding outcomes for economics in our future. For example, some thinkers like Edward O. Wilson see economics as the gate way to a unification of knowledge or what he calls consilience. Obviously, we will not see any formula for unity next week, but there are aspects of this line of thinking that affect us today. One of them involves the search for a golden mean between "doing good" and "doing well" in the world of finance. That is, how to provide financial services to a full spectrum of the world population while, at the same time, keeping the bank afloat. You may think this has no effect on your life, but you're sorely wrong. The "generosity" of housing bankers Freddie Mae and Fannie Mac to both customers and employees is the reason the value of your house dropped by a third in the last few years.

In the developing world, something called microfinance also struggles with doing good and doing well. For international banking, microfinance has raised a number of questions involving compatibility and worth. Do small loans to high risk borrowers in India improve society? Is this a world-wide subprime disaster in the making? Is it all a self-deception that gives the Manhattan investment banker a warm feeling as he views the city below from his penthouse balcony?

Read more about it here in a post at The Volokh Conspiracy.

Thanks to Instapundit for the link.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Qantas Airlines A380 And A One In 100 Million Chance

OTR loves to fly. For twenty years before he retired, he took every opportunity to occupy the right seat in his agency's Cessna 340 and fly across the Southeast. In all the many hours of his "copilot" flying, the most serious in-flight incident involved a faulty landing gear light. At the same time he developed tremendous respect for people throughout the aviation industry and the operations they support. That's why today's report about the recent engine failure on a Qantas Airbus A380 flight is raising eyebrows.

Imagine having one of your four engines disintegrate shortly after takeoff accompanied by 54 messages on your visual display identifying system failures or pending failures. Your goal is to analyze the situation and return your aircraft and its 489 souls on board to the safety of the Singapore airport. This is an amazing event reminiscent of the uncontained engine failure on a United Airlines DC-10 over the Midwest in 1989. That anyone survived the United failure was a miracle. That all survived the Qantas failure may well speak to either a miracle of higher order, improved aviation safety systems or a combination of the two. OTR goes with the nice combination.

Johnny Mercer: That Sentimental Gentleman From Georgia

Today marks the 101st birthday of Savannah's favorite son, Johnny Mercer. Readers know that I'm somewhat of an expert on the life and times of this remarkable personality. As a lyricist, composer, performer, businessman, and philanthropist, Mercer shaped much of the American popular music industry for forty years, beginning in the mid 1930s.

Two years ago, I wrote a seven part series on this man whose talent left us with almost 2000 published songs--and a few thousand unfinished pieces-- and a host of images in song that continue to entertain us more than thirty years after his passing in 1976. I can't improve on last year's essays, so will link to them in this post for your convenience and enjoyment. They are:

Day One: Mercer's Early Years
Day Two: Hoagy And Hollywood
Day Three: Sense Of Humor
Day Four: The Bread And Butter Songs
Day Five: On Line And Print References
Day Six: Personal Favorites
Day Seven: Cover Artists And Organizations Keep The Music Alive

Hope you enjoy this post as much as I enjoyed writing it. There is a new addition for the Mercer reference shelf: The Complete Lyrics of Johnny Mercer, by Kimball, Day, Kreuger, and Davis. This 500 page hardcover was published last year as the seventh volume in Knopf's Complete Lyrics series. The media shelf is also groaning with a huge number of new issues during Mercer's centennial year. I'll leave it to readers to consult their favorite sources for more information.

"...A Soldier At War Against The United States, But He Was Tried Like A Shoplifter."

News of potentially invasive airport screening by TSA agents is stealing headlines these days, but Americans should be aware of an even greater threat that occurred yesterday in a New York City courtroom. The first "test case" involving a Gitmo-held terrorists was resolved yesterday. The verdict was a victory for terrorism and an indictment of the judicial ineptitude of President Obama and his Attorney General, Eric Holder. This verdict offers nothing but encouragement for future terrorists who, as you read this, are plotting to bring jihad to where you live, work, shop, and worship.

OTR won't bother you with the details. You can read them yourself here in The Washington Post. The verdict also generated plenty of thoughtful commentary in the blogosphere. Check it out here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Thank you to Urgent Agenda for the title.
Photo: Defendant's handiwork at the U.S. Embasay, Kenya, 1998

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Snatching Defeat From Almost Assured Victory

The "master of all trades," William Katz, has another simple and profound observation about four Senate races and four "Tea Party" types who lost them:

It is time to contemplate thoughtfully the quality of some of the candidates the Republicans, especially the tea partiers, placed before the voters in Senate races. Sharron Angle, Christine O'Donnell, Ken Buck, Joe Miller. These were all winnable races. Proper vetting of candidates, and good campaign strategies, are critical keys to victory. You can't just run someone is "right" on the ideology, but lacks almost everything else. Losing is very boring.

OTR hopes the conservatives are listening.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day 2010

Honoring our military veterans, and commemorating the armistice ending World War I at the 11th minute of the 11th hour of the 11th month of 1918.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

American Exceptionalism Is Very Real

Alexis de Tocqueville, the French historian and social observer, visited the United States in the early 1830s and came away knowing it was a nation unlike any other. His Democracy in America (1835) became a landmark in the study of what has become known as American exceptionalism. Scholars and others have been expanding on Tocqueville's observations for the last 180 years. Late last month OTR brought to his readers' attention the story of Daniel Hannan, the Brit who savors America. Today, William Katz, blogger and skilled master of a diversity of trades, notes another "must read" observation on American exceptionalism. This one is by Jonah Goldberg. The theme:

Leftist mocking those who believe in the greatness of the U.S. is nothing new. But their bizarre insistence that it is an artifact of right-wing jingoism and xenophobia certainly isn't helping Obama.

Readers will also find the comments interesting. And in addition, Katz's succinct commentary at Urgent Agenda should never be ignored.

Illustration: Alexis de Tocqueville, by the artist, Theodore Chasseraiu, 1850.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A "Cornerstone Of Fantastic Cinema"

This Sunday night (11/7) at 8:00 ET, Turner Classic Movies will present the latest--2010-- restoration of Fritz Lange's Metropolis (1927). The film is a dramatic visual feast of interest to film and/or science fiction fans as well as those who enjoy history, politics, economics, art, architecture, and urban studies. This new restoration includes about 25 minutes of film that went undiscovered for 80 years. It also incorporates editorial changes that now bring the film very close to the final print shown in Berlin at its premiere.

If you want to know what you're in for if you choose to invest 150 minutes to watch the film, the Wikipedia entry explains all, but you may want to avoid reading the plot.

OTR loves this film from several points of view. For example, as you watch Metropolis, your will see science fiction film history from Frankenstein (1931) to Blade Runner (1982) to the Terminator franchise. Then there's the influence on film noir, but OTR will leave you to discover that on your own.

Now where did I put that case of microwave popcorn?

Election Fallout

The 2010 election brought a satisfactory feeling to most conservatives. About 70 new right-thinking faces will soon be on Capitol Hill. Beyond the Washington Beltway, there will be more republican governors and almost 700 new state legislators who will influence the reshaping of congressional districts. The Tea Party movement enlivened an already energized election and won many contests of national interest. At the same time, the party ideology, vested in some less than stellar candidates--O'Donnell, Angle, and Buck-- snatched defeat from the hands of easy victory, at least in Delaware and Nevada.

One would expect the socialist-democrat bloodbath on Tuesday to be of some concern at the White House. After all, a brief analysis of the outcome showed a broad rejection of candidates who embraced legislation and policy touted by Barack Obama. That did not seem to register with the president at his Wednesday Presser. Although he looked extremely uncomfortable, Obama danced with the probing questions for almost an hour before admitting that, yes, there could be more to the rejection than the peoples' discontent with the economy. OTR thinks this is very telling, a forecast of what to expect for the next two years as the electorate holds the blame for not recognizing deity when it is manifest.

As for the recent election, the experts will be dissecting it for weeks and readers will be able to enjoy their fruits at every turn. Readers may not be so fortunate seeking guidance of the mind engine at work in the White House. For that story, OTR suggests his readers have another session with Dr. Sanity and her link to a Victor Davis Hanson analysis.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Vote Power

OTR wants to encourage everyone who has not yet voted to exercise your right tomorrow. This year's Republican runoff election for governor of Georgia was an object lesson in the significance of every vote. When all the votes were in, the better candidate, Karen Handel, had lost by only 2519 votes out of a total of 579,551 cast statewide. It was a huge disappointment to come so close to victory in such an important race. Here is the story of just how close it was.

Georgia is one of those American states that took advantage of its English roots and rural identity by establishing many counties in its 278 years. The current count is 159. By doing so, it has ensured that local governments and their local citizens would have a large voice in the state's management as well as being near a courthouse. Handel, a metro Atlanta officeholder, ran a good campaign in most of those counties, but there were flaws. One of the biggest was essentially ceding her opponent's rural home county from the outset of the race. That gave Nathan Deal, a "seasoned" politician and former Member of Congress, an extraordinary advantage. If Handel had been able to find seventeen more votes from each county in Georgia, she would have won her race to face off with Roy Barnes, a trial lawyer, rather disliked former governor, and amateur state flag designer. [OTR has no use for Barnes]

Although Nathan Deal could be considered a slightly better opponent in this race, OTR thinks the Handel risk would have been worth it. Now, with her defeat, citizens have lost the opportunity to strike out on a more savory path to responsible government. Surely the people would have responded--especially independents--to her personality and message. This was a hard defeat to accept. And it should be a lesson that voters should never ignore an opportunity to cast a vote for better government. Every vote really does count.

If you think about staying away from the polls this year, think again about the power of those seventeen votes and their impact here in Georgia. Two years from now, we will have another election. In it, your vote could very likely determine whether or not the nation survives as the republic its founding fathers envisioned. Does OTR have your attention yet?

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween 2010

OTR hopes all his readers are having a Happy Halloween. So far, Cleopatra, Thomas the Train, a generic pirate, and a wide assortment of princesses have made the trek to our door.

The postcards are from the family archives dated 1910-11.

Adolph Hitler And The Shape Of History

We owe to Thomas Carlyle and Ralph Waldo Emerson the observation that all history is biography. Some folks may argue with that, but OTR thinks the distillation of history indeed yields the stories of men and women, both great and small, living their lives as participant-observers in the world. Norman Stone has a review in The Wall Street Journal addressing this issue and some new research by Brigette Hamann and Thomas Weber. In their recent books, they have brought to light some fascinating details about the shaping of one of the twentieth century's most complex personalities, Adolph Hitler. And in their search for truth they correct the record and provide some much needed direction:

It is very much to Mr. Weber's credit that he has managed to dig out the details, and we can place his book together with Ms. Hamann's as a triumph of original research in a very stony field. The conclusion that might be drawn is that Hitler was far more of the opportunist than is generally supposed. He made things up as he went along, including his own past. If we still haven't answered the question of what turned Hitler into an anti-Semitic idealogue, at least attention has been shifted to the Bavarian years of 1919-22. Ms. Hamann and Mr. Weber point the way forward for the next scholar's diligent researches.

Sound scholarship makes useful history. OTR hopes these authors continue to make lasting contributions to the field of history. Who knows, perhaps someone will write their biography someday.

Source: Jonah Goldberg, The Corner, NRO

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pathological Behavior Consumes The Leftist Women's Movement

My favorite online psychiatrist, Dr. Sanity, has applied her professional training and experience to Joy Behar's application of the term "bitch" to Nevada Senate candidate, Sharon Angle. Whatever your party preference, you have to give credit to the good doctor for her succinct point by point exposure of today's "women's movement" as a leftist political prison. The transparency is so evident, I am amazed more of my liberal friends don't see the light. You can read Dr. Sanity's post here. As usual, you'll find plenty of supporting links in the post.

Our Drug War: A "Hideously Expensive...Protracted Failure."

As his long-time readers know, OTR favors the legalization of cannabis in the United States and is pleased to share thoughtful observations on the reasons why our policy needs to change. Today, Conrad Black posted an article in National Review Online that is worth sharing. His theme:

There is room for legitimate argument about what course the U.S. should follow in drug-control policy, but there is no possible dispute that the present course has been such an unmitigated failure that it has aggravated the societal problem, strained relations with friendly foreign countries and destabilized some, and, as Milton Friedman said in 1991, constituted a protectionist bonanza for the most virulent and sociopathic elements of organized crime.

Some of his statistics are astounding. For example, annual cannabis consumption in the nation is a $140 billion industry, and 44,000,000 pounds of it comes from Mexico. And drug-related violence in Mexico has claimed 28,000 victims in the last four years. Furthermore, for American blacks the chances of being arrested, charged, and convicted of a cannabis offense is 300% greater than for whites. It seems our enforcement focuses on the least defensible consumer/producer while enriching the drug cartels with tens of billions of dollars every year. This reality should shock every American, but it doesn't. It's barely registering as an issue in the 2010 election and the entrenched enforcement industry it created keeps rolling on with the most marginal of impacts.

After forty years of such madness, OTR thinks it's time for a new direction.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Harvey Phillips: The Father Of Tuba Christmas

OTR notes with both sadness and a smile the passing of Harvey Phillips. He loved the tuba, played it, composed for it, and conducted hundreds of tuba players in what became know as Tuba Christmas across the country. OTR was lucky to know about Tuba Christmas in Atlanta beginning in the late '80s, thanks to a colleague who happened to play one of the smaller versions of the instrument. For most of the next twenty Christmases, he and other co-workers found themselves enjoying the sound of three hundred tubas playing in the CNN Center and, later, on the terrace at Underground Atlanta.

Last year, more than 250 cities celebrated Tuba Christmas. If you ever have the opportunity to attend, you will enjoy some beautiful music and leave with a renewed appreciation for the instrument. Just in case you can't make a concert, here's a taste of what you're missing:

Photo: Harvey Phillips, 1979, Archives Indiana University

"The Winter Is Young Yet, So Young."

In typical fashion, Fall in the Georgia Piedmont keeps lingering like a long goodbye. Although there is some nice color finally showing in OTR's woods this week and temperatures are pushing into the low 80s, there is something brewing in the tropical Pacific Ocean that could bring these pleasantries to a quick end. Meteorologists are calling it a super La Nina, and it's being described as potentially the strongest since 1955-56. La Ninas bring on colder winters to most parts of the United States and Europe. Super ones bring record low temperatures and seemingly endless cold waves. Most everyone knows about La Nina's warmer brother, EL Nino. Looks like were about to get an unforgettable introduction to another member of the family. Here is your link to the details at Pajamas Media.

Thanks to Instapundit for the link.
Title: from the poem, Winter Milk, by Carl Sandburg.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

UPDATE: National Public Radio Firestorm

OTR sees where Fox News took his advice and signed Juan Williams to a $2 million contract and an expanded role at the network. Not only that, the link below shows us that NPR CEO Vivian Schiller turns out to be the small-minded, leftist political hack--labeling your enemy as a mental case was a Soviet tactic-- most of us knew lurked at the top of the organization. OTR enjoys plenty of NPR programming and an sorry to see all this happen. Local donations to public broadcasting will likely suffer and he expects Ms. Schiller will join the ranks of the unemployed long before the January Congress can fire her. Good riddance.

Leftist NPR Execs Cleanse The Ranks

OTR can't believe that National Public Radio (NPR) would fire liberal news analyst Juan Williams because he had the courage to state the obvious that people in Muslim dress make Americans nervous. And if it isn't obvious to you, you haven't flown on a domestic flight with full-bearded men in galabiyyas and turban hats or ridden Atlanta's subway with women covered head to toe in black burkas. If you saw those World Trade Center towers fall on September 11, 2001, you will have an autonomic response to such chance encounters that could emerge as a response in your conscious mind.

Here are a few takes on the Williams story: Moonbattery, Gateway Pundit, and National Review Online.

OTR hopes that Fox News executives are preparing a long-term contract for Williams's signature, and preparing a seat for him at the Fox News Election Central desk on November 2. Williams would make a lasting and positive center left contribution to any discussion of the American experience.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Bite Of The Lepus

Back in 1972, Stuart Whitman, Janet Leigh, Rory Calhoun and DeForest Kelly--notable actors all--made a most forgettable film entitled Night of the Lepus. OTR likes the film's theme as presented by Giant mutant rabbits terrorize the southwest!!

Fast forward forty years into the age of environmental enlightenment and we now have something called soy-based wiring replacing the petroleum product used over the past century. OTR thinks this is a fine idea as long as it does not introduce any seriously negative variables into life's already complex formula. Unfortunately, there seems to be an issue involving rabbit terror and Denver International Airport. The rabbits have developed a taste for the soy-based wiring found in new automobiles. Travelers who park their cars there for a week or so are returning home to find that they will barely start or not start at all.

You may ask why OTR thinks this is terrorism. For starters, any readers who have enjoyed the pleasures of the new Denver airport know that, at 25 miles from town, they seem to be doing so from Kansas. Follow that with long-term shutdowns for blizzards, structural collapses from snow weight, crumbling runways, unpredictable highway conditions and no rail link to the city and you get the idea. Add to this list the fact that rabbits do not hibernate. That means they are out there waiting for your soy-based wiring in the dead of winter when the food supply get a bit low on the vast plain that is this airport. No traveler facing a foot of snow and an hour's drive to town needs to face the terror of nibbled wiring. Getting underway in this circumstance will be more complex than dropping a new battery in the car. It's almost enough to make one take the bus.

OTR wishes the story would end there, but it doesn't. In time, travelers may have to face a new strain of super-healthy rabbits due to the change in diet. And we can only speculate about the threats urban rodents present once they discover soy-based wiring. Fortunately, this is another story. Today's terror rabbit threat is real and you can read more about it here.

Postscript: Night of the Lepus is a complete howler. If you like B movie cult classics, this is your film.

Source: Steve T via Moonbattery

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Democrat Plantation

Moonbattery 's Van Helsing posted a fine history lesson--first-rate links too--on the American welfare state, an entity that could easily be called the Democrat plantation. It begins with an ominous warning delivered by Franklin Roosevelt, the welfare state founding father, about the destructive potential of sustained dependence on government aid. The story snakes through the presidencies of Johnson, Carter and Obama, and ends with the nation teetering on the abyss where fewer and fewer taxpayers support almost half the electorate. Stepping back from that edge and a descent into a slave rebellion on the part of the producers may be difficult, but it is essential if we want to sustain the republic as we know it.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A Brit Who Savors America

Daniel Hannan is a politician and journalist, and an ardent supporter of United States interests to the point that he is a leading patriot. The odd thing about Hannan is his citizenship. He's British, writes for the Telegraph and is a member of the European Parliament. Kathyrn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, has posted a notable interview with Hannan that will be of interest to readers who enjoy tea.

Photo: Berchemboy@en.wikipedia

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Could It Be...SATAN!

The last century provided Americans with a rich array of religious personalities from the fringe, including Sister Aimee, L. Ron Hubbard, Jim Jones, and Pat Robertson. Sometimes--most unfortunately-- even the brightest mainstream Christians make complete fools out of themselves. Albert Mohler, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention's premier seminary in Lexington, Kentucky, holds the honors today by proclaiming that yoga is "not Christianity." OTR thinks most people who breathe already know that. On top of this insult, Mohler says, because yoga isn't Christian, people should avoid it and its "spiritual attachments." Obviously, he needs to take up a relaxing pastime in order to gain some perspective on how stupid he sounds. Without some rest, he's likely to go after martial arts in his next polemic. Here's your link for the rest of the story.

Postscript: Once upon a time, OTR practiced yoga exercises religiously every day, but there was never a time when his workouts turned him into a Hindu. These days, OTR enjoys his vegetables, but he doesn't fear that doing so will convert him to vegetarian theology in any future. His faith shall remain steadfast.

Das Wort sie sollen lassen stahn
Und kein’n Dank dazu haben;
Er ist bei uns wohl auf dem Plan
Mit seinem Geist und Gaben.
Nehmen sie den Leib,
Gut, Ehr’, Kind und Weib:
Lass fahren dahin,
Sie haben’s kein’n Gewinn,
Das Reich muss uns doch bleiben.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Chevy Cruze In The Vega Shadow

OTR had quite an affair with the Chevy brand into young adulthood, including a '57 Chevy Bel Air and a '68 Camaro. It came to an end when he bought a '71 Chevy Vega, arguably in the bottom three pieces of junk ever produced by the American auto industry. Under that modest design and spiffy concept rested an engineering and performance nightmare wrapped in paper-thin sheet metal. The engine warped into an oil burner in a matter of weeks. The dealership was embarrassed and spent thousands to make things right while the corporate suits at General Motors wrote nice letters. As months turned into a year and two, there was no end to breakdowns, recalls, and repairs.

One would expect forty years, billions in bailouts, and a union takeover at Government Motors to make a difference, but this post by Instapundit's Glenn Reynolds seems to tell a different story. It involves the new compact GM Chevy Cruze, labor problems, and new cars needing repair before they leave the factory. And just where is the factory? It's the infamous Lordstown, Ohio, plant well-know for its rebellious UAW workers and product sabotage in the 1970s collective referred to as the "Lordstown Syndrome." Readers should have no problem guessing where the Vega was built. Taxpayers--and United AutoWorker employee/owners--should hope Lordstown does a better job with the Cruze. Their first nightmare merely cast a long shadow. A second nightmare will likely put them out of business.

Postscript: Lucky for OTR, his dad retired in 1973, freeing up one of the reliable family cars at the home place. OTR swapped the Vega Nightmare--good for a few miles around town--for the '68 Camaro. He drove it hard and fast for four carefree years. When it came time for another car, General Motors lost out to a Volkswagen Scirocco. OTR will never own another General/Government Motors product. Ever.

Monday, September 27, 2010

First, The Republicans Came For The Jews

OTR writes often about what he calls the "Weimar Effect," the growing political similarity between our current world setting and that experienced during Germany's Weimar Republic, 1919-1933. Ben Jealous, head of the NAACP, has added somewhat the the "Effect" by declaring that our current situation in the U.S. resembles the days before "Kristallnacht" in Nazi Germany in 1938. We're not sure where Jealous puts our nation on the five-year time line between the day Nazis took control of the government and the night that began their extermination of Jews. On the other hand, we're quite sure that his statement, made from a church pulpit and rallying against Tea Party types, was designed to equate conservatives with Nazis.

There are scores of learned folks who study the Nazi comparison phenomenon. They are quick to state that it almost always appears as a tipping point. Once used, the phenomenon marks the end of the "clean" persona, the reasoned argument, the sensible campaign. OTR believes such remarks also signal the end of confidence and the world of the possible in the upcoming election. Watch the Jealous video here.

Far too many--maybe most-- elections follow on the heels of hasty campaigns. We all knew this one would get dirty, but didn't expect it to get that way so soon. Here's another example from the Jim Clyburn, the House Majority Whip. And here's an amazing story and video featuring race-baiting California Representative Loretta Sanchez and her fears about her Republican opponent, Van Tran and the threat his Vietnamese ancestry means to her constituents.

Friday, September 24, 2010

John Rutter: No Sweeter Music

I'm a day late, but still wanted readers to know that John Rutter, the notable British composer, conductor and arranger, turned 65 yesterday. He is best known and loved for his choral music, his professional choral group, The Cambridge Singers, and their recording label, Collegium Records. Doing an Internet search for Rutter doesn't bring up much more than the same brief biography. The composer is likely quite pleased with that, but he does have a fairly active Facebook page, and there is the occasional article here, and here that gives readers some insight into the man behind the music. My take on this relative dearth of information is simply that one should get to know the man through his music. Here is Rutter's arrangement of an ancient Gaelic blessing--lyrical, beautiful, from the heart:

I have posted this before, but who could object to such a peace this music brings upon hearing it each and every time.

Truth Or Obamacare Consequences

The editors of National Review Online have just posted the best summary to date of the legislative and policy nightmare that is Obamacare. This article has all the talking points conservatives need to effectively destroy any liberal arguments for keeping such rotten legislation on the books. It's time to forget this surprise package and replace it with something based on rational thinking.

Photo: Kathleen Hughes, from the film, It Came From Outer Space (1953)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Nation Of Peasants?

This is the first paragraph:

Traditional peasant societies believe in only a limited good. The more your neighbor earns, the less someone else gets. Profits are seen as a sort of theft. They must be either hidden or redistributed. Envy rather than admiration of success reigns.

In just over 700 words, classicist and military historian Victor Davis Hanson tells us about a defining difference in Western civilization and why it's so in need of defense these days.
Better history lessons are very hard to find. Here is your link.

Source: Neal Boortz Nuze link to Townhall
Photo: Vincent Van Gogh's Portrait of a Peasant (Patience Escalier)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Light In The Darkness

Thirty seven years ago tonight, park rangers at Joshua Tree National Monument--now Park-- noticed a huge fireball on the ridge at Cap Rock. Upon investigation, they found a flaming coffin and the partially burned remains of Gram Parsons, a 26 year old musician who would become a music legend. In his life, lived fast and loose, Parsons would blend rock and country into a new sound as he pursued what he called "cosmic American music." If you listen to The International Submarine Band, The Byrds, The Flying Burrito Brothers, and his work with Emmylou Harris, you know what that sound was all about.

In a few hours, the pilgrims will make their trek to Cap Rock to pay their respects to Parsons as they have for decades. Rangers may close the area, but that won't make a difference. The faithful will be there.

For more on the Gram Parsons story, read this review from The Times Online, this Country Music Television biography, and this comprehensive Wikipedia entry with many links to his discography.

Photo: Full Moon at Cap Rock, Nikhil's Domain This guy loves the California desert. His site is well worth a visit.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Persistence Of Bad Policy Erodes American Community

Somewhere in the reaches of Glory, the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan will flash an "I told you so" smile if he reads the latest U.S. Census Bureau report on poverty. Forty-five years ago, Moynihan was a soldier in President Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty. He discovered a great flaw that was about to become national policy in that war. The flaw: restricting welfare payments to single parents--almost always the mother-- and their children. He claimed it would destroy the institution of marriage, especially among blacks, and create a permanent underclass of poor women and children.

What Monyihan predicted has come to pass, documented in several reports over the decades. Politicians in power over those same decades lacked the courage to face this very real problem. In the latest report, the U.S. Census Bureau revealed the largest ever annual increase in the number of Americans living in poverty. Obviously, the recession bears some responsibility for the increase, but internal data place the overwhelming blame on childbearing outside of marriage. For the republic, the situation is another fire bell ringing in the night.

Robert Rector has commentary and links here in his blog entry at The Corner. This excerpt shows the depth of the problem:
The biggest secret in the Census report: Marriage is America’s number-one weapon against child poverty. Tragically, however, marriage has been rapidly declining in our society and the number of women who have children outside of marriage has soared. Historically, unwed childbearing was rare. In 1964, when the federal government launched its War on Poverty, 6.8 percent of births were to single mothers. Today, the unwed birthrate has climbed to 40 percent: four of every ten births are to single mothers. For Hispanics and African Americans, the rates rise to nearly 50 and over 70 percent.
Sometimes the truth hurts, but Moynihan sided with the truth rather than pursue the political expediency of the day. He paid dearly for his honesty and was labeled a racist and turncoat by liberals. But early on, politicians soon saw that he was correct, and he went on to a distinguished career in the State Department, at the United Nations and in the U.S. Senate. Oh that we could have many more like him in government today. We need these champions of truth and honesty more than ever.

Photo: President Lyndon Johnson on his famous Poverty Tour (May 1964) greeting one of the residents of Appalachia.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Vetting For Loonies

Sometimes the dream is just too good to be true. In the rush to embrace new fashion, be it granite counter tops, neon neckties or political candidates, the probability for error always increases. When it comes to politics it is, unfortunately, far easier to change your necktie than change your candidate. It is for this reason that vetting for loonies should be foremost in the minds of those seeking new directions in politics. This brings OTR to the subject of Christine O'Donnell, Republican candidate for Senator from Delaware.

Though not yet certifiably loony, new direction candidate O'Donnell brings plenty of personal, well-publicized baggage into the campaign. There's no need to make a list here; let's just say it's broad and colorful and somewhat odd. Unfortunately, with so much baggage comes the nagging question that there could be more, and if so, what it could reveal. And guess what! There is more baggage, and Bill Maher, host of HBO's Real Time and a popular left-wing mouthpiece, is ready to reveal it. It seems that O'Donnell made several appearances on Maher's earlier show, Politically Incorrect, in the late '90s. The subject matter could easily turn this campaign into a circus. Here's a link with the details.

O'Donnell may survive this madness and become a senator. If that's the case, OTR should be pleased because he likes to see balance on Capitol Hill. And Dennis Kucinich could use the company. If O'Donnell loses, it will be a lesson for any political movement or party that thorough vetting is an essential ingredient of successful politics.

Story and link source: John Hinderaker, Powerline Blog

Thursday, September 16, 2010

UPDATE: Vote For Viable

Another thoughtful post on the Buckley Rule, the Limbaugh Rule, and the viable candidate debate has appeared on Powerline. Here is your link.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Vote For Viable

This year is rapidly shaping up as a test of the so-called Buckley Rule. That rule, put forth by the late William F. Buckley Jr., states that conservatives should vote for the most right-leaning viable candidate in order to win elections in the United States. The rule emerges out of our long-standing national penchant for rejecting candidates from the ideological fringe, both left and right. To win most elections in our two party system, candidates must appeal to centrist or independent voters. Candidates who appreciate and understand the appeal of "softness" will win out over ideological purity every time. Many years ago during my training in federal service, I was taught that "softness is not weakness." I witnessed those words in practice as a petite self defense instructor threw an opponent three times her size into submission and left him begging for mercy. Never underestimate the power of softness.

Barack Obama was portrayed as a soft transformer and the voters were only too happy to buy into his candidacy. I am convinced that, had the national press done its job of vetting him as the European-style socialist he is, he never would have survived the primary election process. Can't do much about that now; however, the upcoming mid-term election offers conservatives a golden opportunity to avoid this ideological pitfall. And though I welcome the Tea Party movement into the political arena, it is making an appeal to the centrists somewhat of a challenge. This is especially important because there will be no leftist media effort to provide cover for one's fringe ideology. In fact, the leftist press will be delighted to focus on "right-wing extremists" whenever possible.

That brings us to two Senate primaries, Nevada and Delaware, where Republican voters have nominated the more "extreme" candidate to face a Democratic challenger in the general election. In both cases, the nominations have potentially jeopardized almost certain "pick-ups" in the Senate for the Republican Party. To me, winning the Senate is significant because the Senate confirms Supreme Court nominations. The pending Republican take over in the House will shut down the budgetary side of Obama's socialist agenda. It would be a joy to shut down his court appointments as well.

Will the people side with the Buckley Rule and elect viable conservative candidates? Will the revolutionary fervor of anti-incumbency, and the new party with its ideological "purity" also carry new candidates to victory? Or will that same ideological "purity" be turned into right-wing extremism and drive the "soft" vote into the hands of the Democratic Party and a continuing majority in the Senate?

For more on this issue, check out The Corner-September 14 and 15, at National Review Online, Powerline-same dates, and today's entries at Urgent Agenda.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Rosenbergs Never Spied, Alger Hiss Was A Martyr, And Mao Killed Only A Few Who Needed Killing

My favorite analyst, Dr. Sanity, has some wisdom for us wrapped around the equally wise observations about academia by the Selma Oracle, Victor Davis Hanson. What a refreshing reality check! Thanks to Instapundit, OTR also found this Atlantic article on mass confirmation bias, a subject that ties directly into the therapy administered by Drs. Sanity and Hanson.

OTR finds it useless to attempt an improvement or elaboration on the message these posts bring to the reader, but he highly recommends the interesting message thread following the Atlantic post.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

"He Was Coherent But Just Not Rational"

A leftist enviro-wacko died today at the Discovery Channel building in Sliver Spring, Maryland, after taking three hostages in protest over the cable network's programming. The event was telling enough, but a follow-up story in the Washington Post had an equally chilling quote from one Cynthia Philpott.

She and her boyfriend were new to Washington in 2008 when they decided to attend one of the enviro-wacko's Discovery Channel protests out of curiosity. Philpott related that his behavior was a bit challenging, but she followed up her comments with this remark:
He was coherent but just not rational.
I have written several posts over the past two years expressing my concern over what seems to be a national shift from a delicate social balance governed by reason to one governed by emotion. It is an "Alice in Wonderland" experience for the participant-observer to watch what is happening on the wrinkled edges of both political extremes in our nation. Even the words begin to lose their meanings and any hope of successful communication as a bridge to positive change is met with serious challenges. I will be interested to see how many old and new media folks catch Philpott's telling phrase and examine it for the pathology it represents. The analysis should be quite interesting, particularly of those "searchers" who may feel a bit unhinged over capitalism, the planet, and the implosion of the Soviet Union in late 1991. It is unfortunate that they seem to be ascendant lately.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Ida May: Chesapeake Skipjack

The story goes there are only two truly happy days in a sailboat owner's life, the day he buys the boat and the day he sells it. That may work for most sailors, but there are exceptions. I found one today. This one isn't about the joy of sailing as a recreation. You could say the sailboat here is a piece of work. She is the Ida May, built in 1906 as a work boat called a skipjack. At one time there were thousands of skipjacks working the Chesapeake Bay oyster beds. Now the fleet is down to about thirty.

Two brothers have been working over the last four years to restore the Ida May, their father's last boat. It is a labor of love. Your link to the story is here.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Star Gazer Voyages Into Eternity

Jack Horkheimer, PBS Television's Star Gazer, passed away yesterday in Miami from respiratory disease that plagued him all his life. For the past thirty-five years--twenty five on a national basis--viewers who heard Isao Tomita's electronic interpretation of Debussy's Arabesque No. 1 knew it was time for some astronomical entertainment from the Star Gazer. He was quite a salesman, and living proof that you didn't necessarily need to be a subject matter expert in order to sell your product well.

For the last twenty years or so, Star Gazer has been available through a variety of media reaching millions of naked-eye astronomy enthusiasts around the world. We're going to miss Jack. Though they'll never be another quite like him, I do hope he made plans for a successor to help fans "keep looking up!"

For those who may not be familiar with the Star Gazer, here is the episode prepared for August 16-22:

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Gun Regulation In The People's Republic Of Maryland

Glenn Reynolds (Instapundit) linked to a scary Washington Post story today regarding a most revealing right to concealed carry lawsuit filed in Maryland. In 2002, Raymond E. Woollard and his family were enjoying Christmas Eve on their farm in Baltimore County when an intruder broke into the home. With the help of his shotgun and his son, the owner subdued, then held the dirtbag for OVER AN HOUR waiting for the police to arrive. As a result, the owner received a concealed carry permit to protect himself and his family from future break-ins or threats. Last year, the Maryland State Police withdraw the permit saying that the threat had passed because he hadn't been attacked again. The police essentially put a de facto limitation on criminal threats to the Woollard family.

Frankly, this is a rather stunning assumption on the part of the Maryland State Police. Reynolds had little comment on this story, so here is the Post link.