Category Archives: America

Charles Lindbergh’s 122nd Birthday

Born on February 4, 1902, Charles Augustus Lindbergh would be 122 years old today. Although mostly remembered as an aviator and U.S. military officer, he had a wide range of interests besides aviation – among them politics and international relations.

A prominent member and spokesman of the America First Committee, Lindbergh was strongly opposed to President Franklin Roosevelt’s foreign policy.

(Photo: Charles Lindbergh as a 25-year old, in 1927 – the year of his historical flight from New York to Paris).

Like many of his contemporaries, Lindbergh believed that Soviet communism was by far the greatest threat to America, and thus advocated a neutral stance toward the NSDAP’s rise in Germany.

This was indeed a very popular opinion among the American public at the time, and easily the majority. The way America had been drawn into World War 1 just a little more than two decades earlier played a major role in this.

Lindbergh later wrote:

I was deeply concerned that the potentially gigantic power of America, guided by uninformed and impractical idealism, might crusade into Europe to destroy Hitler without realizing that Hitler’s destruction would lay Europe open to the rape, loot and barbarism of Soviet Russia’s forces, causing possibly the fatal wounding of Western civilization.

Lindbergh died on August 26, 1974. During his life, he had witnessed both world wars (fighting for the U.S. in WW-2, albeit unofficially), the enormous rise of commercial aviation, the first nuclear weapons and the beginning of the nuclear age, the electronics revolution, the Cold War and the split of Europe into a free market Western part and a communist Eastern part, the Cold War’s proxy wars in Korea and Vietnam, the Cuban missile crisis, the culture wars of the 1960s, and the space race culminating in the first manned moon landings.

Almost 50 years have passed since Lindbergh’s death. Today’s world includes the Russian invasion of Ukraine, North Korean saber rattling against South Korea, the People’s Republic of China openly talking about (and practicing) the invasion of Taiwan, Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and the aftermath of the attack on Israeli civilians originating from the Gaza Strip — all of which could easily compound and escalate into a global conflict with the potential for nuclear weapons being used.

I often wonder how, if he was alive today, Charles Lindbergh would judge the contemporary geopolitical situation, and the state of America and Western Civilization, in 2024.

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Bad Hombre

About 6 out of 10 Americans are heading for the polls today, bringing to an end the most uncivil and intellectually hollow presidential campaign season I have ever witnessed. In an effort to keep myself amused and entertained, I have created a special drink to celebrate the end of this onslaught. I shall call it: the Bad Hombre. Here’s the recipe:

BAD HOMBRE

1 oz tequila
Fresh lime juice
Mexican beer (lager style, well chilled)
Slice of lime
Tapatío sauce

In a mug, pour tequila over ice cubes. Add a lime juice and a dash of Tapatío. Very slowly top with beer and stir very gently. Garnish with a slice of lime.

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Please don’t drink and drive!

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Mark Twain’s 180th Birthday

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Mark Twain, detail of photo by Mathew Brady, February 7, 1871

Today I am celebrating the 180th birthday of one of my favorite personalities: printer, typesetter, journalist, humorist, philosopher, businessman, lecturer, world traveler, family man, passionate American, and of course, author Samuel Longhorn Clemens (M:.M:.), better known under one of his pen names, “Mark Twain”. (Clemens also wrote under the name of “Thomas Jefferson Snodgrass”).

Twain had a great interest in the sciences, among them astronomy. (He was born in the year of Comet Halley’s appearance in 1835, and just as he predicted, he died in the year of the comet’s subsequent appearance of 1910). In his autobiography, he wrote:

“I came in with Halley’s Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year (1910), and I expect to go out with it. It will be the greatest disappointment of my life if I don’t go out with Halley’s Comet. The Almighty has said, no doubt: ‘Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together.’ “

Lesser known among Twain’s many other talents and pursuits is that he was also an ardent inventor and innovator — who earned (and lost) fortunes with his patents and contraptions, going from great wealth to bankruptcy and back to wealth several times in his life. Among other things, he invented a history trivia game and a self-pasting scrapbook, which earned him $50,000 in the years after 1873.

Twain was also quite a lady’s man, and one of his inventions, the “Improvement in adjustable and detachable straps for garments” (U.S. Patent 121992 A, Dec 19, 1871) must have made interesting dinner conversation in Victorian houses.

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Death In America

The way many people around the world perceive it, the United States is a nation where bodies are piling up because Americans are constantly shooting each other. And of course, the reason is supposed to be a crazy lack of gun control laws. Chalk this perception up to the junk press and to the nature of the news media business. In the Internet age, the unbiased reporting of nuanced and complicated facts isn’t nearly as lucrative as tugging on heartstrings to generate clicks, shares, likes and comments on social media.

In reality, gun-related deaths in America have been declining for decades. They are now at the lowest level in three decades. And, gun deaths are not even among the 10 leading causes of death in the U.S. These are, according to the official CDC data:

Heart disease: 611,105

Cancer: 584,881

Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 149,205

Accidents (unintentional injuries): 130,557

Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 128,978

Alzheimer’s disease: 84,767

Diabetes: 75,578

Influenza and Pneumonia: 56,979

Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 47,112

Intentional self-harm (suicide): 41,149

(Source: Deaths: Final Data for 2013, table 10)

The biggest contributing factors to cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer and respiratory disease are obesity and smoking, which are personal choices. It has been estimated that no less than 50% of the total U.S. health care spending is the result of smoking and obesity. Suicide, the 10th most common cause of death in the U.S., outnumbers homicide two to one.

Of course, telling people that their lifestyle sucks doesn’t generate much media revenue. But outraged reports about gun carnage, school shootings and psychopathic killers does the trick!

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Light Pollution

Light Pollution

Photo: NASA and NOAA. Click to enlarge.

The natural night skies as seen from Earth are awe inspiring. But ever since the invention of electric lighting, unobstructed dark skies have been disappearing from industrialized, populated areas. Sadly, most people living in the white areas of the picture above have never had a chance to experience the firmament’s full glory.

More information about light pollution and the importance of fighting it:

http://www.darksky.org

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Color Footage of London, 1927

This is archive footage based on images captured by Claude Frisse-Greene, an early British pioneer of film. Nearly 90 years ago, he created a series of travelogues using a color process developed by his father William Frisse-Greene, a British portrait photographer and a well known inventor. His experiments in the field of motion pictures led him to be known as one of the fathers of cinematography.

One of William’s inventions was an additive color film process known as “Biocolour”, a rather cumbersome early color process. It works by exposing every other frame of standard black-and-white film through a different-colored filter, and then staining the resulting monochrome prints either red or green. In a motion picture projection, the combined frames create an illusion of real color.

Using computer enhancement, the British Film Institute reduced the flickering seen in the original footage.

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Chuck Yeager Turns 90

One of the greatest and most inspiring living Americans, US Air Force Major General (ret.) Chuck Yeager is celebrating his 90th birthday today. He still lives in California, and I hear he is still keeping his pilot’s license current.


[P.S.: Chuck Yeager passed away on December 7, 2020].


Chuck Yeager’s autobiography, Yeager is one of my favorite books, and I own several, slightly tattered copies. (It was co-written with Leo Janos, a speechwriter and ghostwriter who was known for writing speeches for the President Lyndon Johnson. He authored and co-authored notable books including Skunk Works – A Personal Memoir Of My Years At Lockheed).

Yeager is a captivating account not only of the man’s boyhood and military flying career, but also an insight into the mindset and values of the generation of pilots who ushered in the jet age, built the U.S. Air Force, and fought the Cold War.

yeagerbook
The first edition of Yeager was published by Bantam in 1985, but it is still in print as paperback.

In 1989, a follow-up appeared: Press On – Further Adventures In the Good Life (co-written by former Newsweek editor Charles Leerhsen and Yeager) deals mostly with the legendary pilot’s life after retirement and his love for fishing, hunting and backpacking.

Charles Yeager on Wikipedia.

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Obama The Skeet Shooter

In an effort to show that US President Obama is not an enemy of all gun owners, the White House released a picture of the president using a shotgun at Camp David. (Sources who were present at the time the picture was taken reported it was a five minute affair, and the president appeared visibly uncomfortable during the photo-op). The picture came with a stern warning not to photoshop or alter it. Of course, it did not take long …

 

 

 

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Ernest Hemingway Playing In The Snow

One of my heroes, Ernest Hemingway playing in the snow. On the reverse of this print, Papa wrote: “This is to re-assure you if you hear reports of another of your authors dying of drink.” Signed, “Ernest Hemingway, Feb 1927.

Photo Credit: Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston. Click to enlarge.

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US Marines Volunteering To Guard Schools

In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook school massacre, reports are coming in from several cities in which US Marine Corps reservists, retirees and active duty personnel are standing uniformed guard in front of elementary schools.

They are unarmed volunteers and strive to greet and reassure the kids coming to school each day. Some have said they will keep this up for weeks or as long as needed. I don’t know where this got started, but it seems to be a spreading.

This too, is America.


Sorry, I have no photographer credit for the image.

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