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.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Reservations, Please!

Iran Air Flight 744 operates twice a month between Tehran and Caracas. The airplane is a Boeing 747SP, a shortened version of the 747, capable of carrying a maximum capacity over a long range with superior performance. An former Israeli intelligence agent says you or I could never reserve a seat on this flight. It's for Iranian agents. Do you really think they fill up that big cargo hold with luggage? And I wonder what goes back to Tehran?

William Katz (Urgent Agenda) has some comment on this story and a link to the original report from WTOP in Washington.

Sanity Restored

Ah, the good news today is Dr. Sanity's return to blogging after a four month absence. That's a long time to go without a bit of her theraputic wisdom. Obviously rested and ready, in today's post she brings us her insightful commentary on the ingredients of human progress. The focal point for this exploration is Matt Ridley's new book, The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves, and a review by Gagdad Bob. The blog has a fine examination of the role of ethics and how its erosion leads individuals and the society they lead into narcissism and decline. References and links to the works of Ayn Rand and Thomas Sowell add to the discussion. If the following observation catches your attention, you will appreciate the wisdom this post brings to our attention:

There is no doubt in my mind that the key "boundary conditions" that have enabled the incredible advances in human progress around the world which have decreased both human misery and poverty everywhere is due to the adherence to a rational ethical system that allowed individuals to interact in a socially productive and mutually beneficial manner--"between brains" so to speak; without the use of brute force and government coercion.

Those boundary conditions are being systematically and deliberately dismantled and replaced by a medieval, irrational and unethical system, that depends primarily on force, involuntary servitude, and the submission of the individual to the will of the State.

Dr. Sanity is a medical doctor specializing in psychiatry and aerospace medicine. The photo of her at work is from her blog--obviously enjoys the work. I feel better already.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Will Israel Stop Iran From Going Nuclear On August 21?

Word hasn't yet reached the usual democrat media homepages--NYT, WAPO, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS--but comments made by John Bolton, former interim U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, continue to rumble around conservative news sites on the Internet. Drudge is linking to this Yahoo report from the AP. According to Bolton, Israeli forces--anyone's for that matter--have until August 21 to take out Iran's capability to build a nuclear reactor. His reasoning focuses on Russia's delivery of nuclear fuel to the Iranian reactor they have helped construct. Once the fuel is loaded into the core, an attack on the reactor will likely spread radioactive materials throughout the region. Furthermore, an attack on a functional nuclear reactor would violate international law.

News sources report that Bolton thinks the opportunity to stop Iranian nuclear efforts has already been lost. He doesn't expect Israel to attack by August 21. Still, when Bolton talks, I listen very carefully because he remains one of the nation's most significant and, better yet, rational voices on the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

It could be a most interesting week in the Middle East. Stay tuned, my friends.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

David Crosby

Today, David Crosby, the American singer, songwriter and musician turns 69 years old. He may be a social and political bad boy in the eyes of many, but he remains an iconic figure in the performance and evolution of popular music beginning in the 1960s. His talents, notably his beautiful high harmony, helped propel The Byrds, and Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young to the top of the charts. Crosby is still on the circuit adding his signature sound --and rather strong it remains--after all these years. Considering the toll from years of unhealthy life choices both emotional and physical, we're fortunate to have him around for another generation of admirers. For me, Crosby ranks among the best of the singer songwriters. When I hear him, all politics is put aside.

For those who may be unfamiliar with Crosby, here are two selections. In the first, he performs his own song accompanied by Graham Nash. In the second, he sings another of his songs with Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, and Neil Young. This is CSNY at the height of their career.

Where has the music gone?

Friday, August 6, 2010

8:15 JLT, August 6, 1945

Forty-three seconds after releasing the bomb, the pilot was alerted to the blast by radioactivity tingling in his teeth and the metallic taste from electrolysis on his tongue. Ten and a half miles away, many thousands had already vanished. A massive firestorm would grip the city within minutes.

Read a 1995 retrospective on this event here. Read the Hiroshima and Nagasaki Wikipedia entry with its host of external links here.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Michael Barone: The Oracle Speaks

Uncommon Knowledge is a first-rate interview program on the American experience. Sponsored by the Hoover Institution and hosted by Peter Robinson, the program, I believe, has become the best of its kind now that C-SPAN founder Brian Lamb has ended his rigorous interview programming on that network. This week, Robinson interviews Michael Barone, who has forgotten more about American politics than most of us remember. The interview began receiving notice immediately after the first part was posted on Monday. Here's your link.

Barone photograph: Gage Skidmore

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Journolist As Watergate

I said last week this story would make history, but you will not read about it quite yet in the traditional media. For them, the pain is too great. The story will soon outgrow the journalists who operate as democrat apologists. Here is your link.

Mitch Miller: American Music Icon

Miller died Saturday in New York. He was 99 years old. If you listened to popular music in the last 60 years of the twentieth century, chances are it had Miller's imprint. Believe me, there was much more to this man than Sing Along With Mitch. As usual, The New York Times has an informative obituary recounting the life and times of this remarkable and enduring American. Here is your link. For a more comprehensive look at Miller, go to the Los Angeles Times obituary here.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

A Colorful Past

Powerline's John Hinderaker went surfing this morning and found himself immersed in the virtually endless collection of material available on line from the Library of Congress. What he found was a remarkable collection of color photographs taken in the United States between 1939 and 1943. So often, many of the photo images from our past are black and white. They have dimension, but they deprive us of the color perception that makes our life experience so rich. Add color to the past and you add relevance. To Hinderaker, you also hold time in your hand as you narrow the gap between past and present.

His post is entitled, "Why Does The Past Seem So Far Away?" I caution that linking to these photographs may put you in time travel mode.

Here's why.

Do enjoy.