Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Off The Grid

Bear with me. 

Will be back soon.

Monday, September 26, 2016

The Best Debate Format

The best presidential debate format would have next to no format.

Put the two candidates on a stage. No moderator. No audience. 

Between them on a coffee table will be a stack of cards, face down. The cards can be shuffled just after the candidates are introduced. Each card will have an issue that the candidates have agreed is important.

They take turns drawing a card and then discuss the issue for as long as they choose. Discussion done: on to the next card.

When they are done, each can make a six-minute summary statement. They can toss a coin in advance as to the order.

It would be far more revealing than the heavily-structured format.

Presidential Debate Preview

"This is beyond our present knowledge or understanding."

First Paragraph

In tears as he speaks, Aeneas loosens sail
And gives the whole fleet its head, so now at last
They ride ashore on the waves at Euboean Cumae.
There they turn round the ships to face out to sea,
Anchors bite deep, craft are held fast, curved
Sterns cushion on sand, prows frill the beach.
Now a band of young hotbloods vaults quickly out
On to the shore of Italia, some after flint
For the seedling fire it hides in its veins,
Some crashing through woodland thickets, the haunts
Of wild beasts, pointing amazed at new rivers.

- From Aeneid Book VI translated by Seamus Heaney

Mixed Audience, Missed Audience

Use the following and you may lose a sizable portion of a mixed-age audience:
  • Alger Hiss
  • Record album
  • Tet
  • TV test pattern
  • Pong
  • Bay Rum
  • Justin Timberlake
  • The Cloud
  • Boy George
  • Hank Williams
  • Diana Rigg
  • Mosh pit
  • Saturday Evening Post
  • Toll call
  • Christine Keeler
  • Slide rule
  • Party lines
  • Wallace Beery
  • Bruno Mars
  • Fabian
  • Marshal Dillon
  • Iggy Azalea
  • The Rat Pack
  • Duck and cover drill
  • Ed Sullivan
  • Ryan Seacrest
  • Tie bar
  • Church key
  • Ashton Kutcher
  • Jade East
  • Deposit bottles
  • Nicki Minaj
  • The Hit Parade
  • The $64,000 Question
  • 77 Sunset Strip
  • Soda jerk
  • Lena Horne
  • Blogger
  • Will Rogers
  • Mood rings
  • "The Blue Screen of Death"
  • Watergate
  • Drake
  • Ice box
  • Sgt. Joe Friday
  • "The Honeymooners"
  • Munich Agreement
  • Rin Tin Tin
  • Phone booth
  • Milk man
  • Elevator operator
  • Rube Goldberg

Highly Recommended

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Quote of the Day

There's no off-season anymore 

- Nolan Ryan

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Find Something Beautiful Today

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Bear Hugs

A video from Smithsonian magazine on the days when park rangers encouraged the public to feed the bears.

Just think: Someone in authority made that decision.


Taking a moment each day to attempt to achieve absolute calm and total relaxation is a good way to discover just how far you normally are from that state.

From that point, act with deliberation to stretch out the feeling. Savor the act, even if it has contradictions, such as slowly sipping an espresso.

The process itself becomes the reward.

First Paragraph

On March 1, 1781, three and a half years after they were endorsed by the Continental Congress, the Articles of Confederation were officially ratified when the last state, Maryland, gave its approval. The unseemly delay could be explained by the conspicuous fact that a war was going on, which inevitably deflected attention from all other business, but the specific reason was that the landless states, like Maryland, refused to ratify until all states with extensive western claims - Virginia most prominently - agreed to cede their claims to Congress. The president of the Continental Congress, Samuel Huntington, declared the creation of a new political entity, called the Confederation Congress, which established "a perpetual Union between the thirteen United States." To mark the occasion, thirteen cannons were fired on the hill overlooking the Philadelphia harbor, and that salvo was answered by thirteen cannons from the frigate John Paul Jones. In the evening "a grand exhibition of fireworks was staged at the State House, and all the Vessels in the Harbor were decorated and illuminated." 

- From The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution, 1783-1789 by Joseph J. Ellis

Highly Recommended

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Quote of the Day

Ever notice how irons have a setting for 'permanent' press? I don't get it...."

- Steven Wright

Friday, September 23, 2016

News You Can Use

Some tips for guys from "Napoleon Dynamite."

Laugh Out Loud Authors

Let's say you are planning a trip and would like a book or two that will cause you to laugh out loud. A quiet smile would be nice but you want novels that are likely to produce a full laugh.

Which authors (and books) would be contenders?

You first. I'll add my choices later.

First Paragraph

My first impression was that the stranger's eyes were of an unusually light blue. They met mine for several blank seconds, vacant, unmistakably scared. Startled and innocently naughty, they half reminded me of an incident I couldn't quite place; something which had happened a long time ago, to do with the upper fourth form classroom. They were the eyes of a schoolboy surprised in the act of breaking one of the rules. Not that I had caught him, apparently, at anything except his own thoughts: perhaps he imagined I could read them. At any rate, he seemed not to have heard or seen me cross the compartment from my corner to his own, for he started violently at the sound of my voice; so violently, indeed, that his nervous recoil hit me like repercussion. Instinctively I took a pace backwards

- From Mr. Norris Changes Trains by Christopher Isherwood

Highly Recommended

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Quote of the Day

Predicting the future is easy. It's trying to figure out what's going on now that's hard. 

- Fritz R. S. Dressler

Thursday, September 22, 2016

First Paragraph

On a crisp morning in late January, the boy tended his stock as he watched the dust cloud rising to the south, at the far end of the narrow timbered valley. Felix was almost twelve, but short and scrawny for his age, with a mop of red hair and fair skin. When the boy saw riders emerging one by one from the cloud of dust, their ponies splashing across the shallow creek, he ran to the little grove of peach trees some three hundred yards from the ranch buildings where his mother and sister were. He knew this area was contested ground, in the heart of what the Mexicans, and the Spanish before them, had named Apacheria. The Mexicans had failed to settle the valley, driven out by the fearsome Apaches who lived in the mountains to the east and north. 

- From The Apache Wars: The Hunt for Geronimo, The Apache Kid, and the Captive Boy Who Started the Longest War in American History by Paul Andrew Hutton

December 1, 1941

Any large organization needs to have at least one person of power who is perceptive enough to know when it is December 1, 1941 and who is powerful enough to make a positive difference.

Highly Recommended

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Quote of the Day

Sometimes I think the world has gone completely mad. And then I think, "Aw, who cares?" And then I think, "Hey, what's for supper?" 

- Jack Handey

Wednesday, September 21, 2016


Marlene Dietrich in "Touch of Evil."

The Udalls and the Goldwaters

A memorable excerpt from This Land, These Voices by Abe Chanin with Mildred Chanin:

"An interesting little story that Mo Udall and I tell about his grandfather, David King Udall, who was a polygamist, and, of course, the polygamists settled at St. Johns and other faraway places for the purpose of keeping away from the federal officers, in a nation that never accepted the Mormons' idea of pluralistic marriage. Well, one weekend David King Udall had to go to Prescott on business, and as he rode into town the federals arrested him and put him in jail. That's when my grandfather was the mayor. That night he got a horse, got a key to the jail, went down and opened the jail. Told David King Udall to get on that horse 'and get your ass out of town and stay out.' So he never came back, and the Udalls and Goldwaters have been good friends ever since." 

- Barry Goldwater

The Anti-Cookie Monster

The Anti-Cookie Monster has been located and he's in Britain.

A question for you: What is your favorite cookie?

Added treat: George Burns gets down with Mitch Miller and the gang

[Note to younger readers: In those days, people didn't flip out because Mitch had a cigarette in his hand and George Burns had a cigar.]

Gap in the Tape

You may have encountered people who have a gap in their tape. They sound perfectly reasonable and normal and then - gap! - there is a sentence or observation that seems irrational or bizarre.

These may be highly accomplished and, at least most of the time, very nice people and yet the gap reveals another, less logical or attractive, component. 

Now here are more difficult questions for each of us: Is there a gap in our tape? Is there some area that could become a gap?

First Paragraph

If you could see adrenaline, then you'd see a great green greasy river of it oozing off the beach at San Diego tonight. You'd see it flowing one hundred miles out toward the stern of the boat - that's what the pilots call it, a boat, despite the fact that it displaces 95,000 tons of water, has a minimum of six thousand people living on board at all times, and is as long as the Empire State Building is tall. 

- From Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why by Laurence Gonzales

Highly Recommended

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Quote of the Day

Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it, misdiagnosing it, and then misapplying the wrong remedies. 

- Groucho Marx