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Archive for the ‘Misc.’ Category

Greg Ross’s Futility Closet is full of interesting tidbits. Here’s part of “Medley of Poems“, from Westminster Monthly, April 1910. A sample:

The boy stood on the burning deck,
His fleece was white as snow,
He stuck a feather in his hat,
John Anderson, my Jo!

“Come back, come back,” he cried in grief,
“From India’s coral strands,
The frost is on the pumpkin, and
The village smithy stands.

Full post here.

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Catching thimble fever

Enquirer photo

Our local paper, the Cincinnati Enquirer, had this article about Thimble Collectors International that has been meeting here. This quote from Bobbie Howard, Master of Ceremonies, caught my eye:

“It only takes exposure to one thimble to catch the collector’s fever,” said Howard, of Baltimore.

Fortunately we have escaped this dreaded disease. What really sold it for me, though, was this photograph of Howard.

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Today I got a viral email from some friends who like to pass these sorts of things on. Usually I just hit the Delete key but I read enough of this to get the gist. It began by recounting all the things someone thought were wrong with America now, together with a number of quotations from Thomas Jefferson (supposedly). The farther you read the more they emphasized the importance of firearms, including the now-notorious one about the tree of liberty being nourished by the blood of patriots.

I don’t usually reply to these things, but today I did. Here’s what I wrote to all the recipients of the message:

I don’t expect everyone to agree with my political beliefs. Heck, I contradict myself half the time.

But when I receive emails that suggest armed insurrection against the government is an appropriate answer to America’s current problems, I believe all well-meaning people should say “STOP!”

Thomas Jefferson was in many ways a great man. He drafted the Declaration of Independence. He founded the University of Virginia. He did more than any one person to insure that the United States preserves liberty of conscience in religious matters.

But we rightly reject some of his ideas. For example, slavery. And among other things, the quote about the tree of liberty being nourished by the blood of patriots and tyrants. Chairman Mao said that political power comes from the barrel of a gun. So when someone suggests violence they might be following Jefferson. Or they might be following Mao.

It’s worth remembering that Timothy McVeigh was wearing a shirt with this slogan when he was arrested. Presumably h thought he was following Jefferson’s ideas. But he was neither a great man nor a good one. He was a savage, murderous terrorist who cowardly killed innocent men, women and children because he thought violence against the U.S. government was OK.

Let’s disagree all we want. Get angry, even. But name-calling is bad, and destructive of the “marketplace of ideas” that — guess who? — Jefferson advocated. And threats or event hints of violence should be off the table, absolutely, anywhere, in any context.

I’m speaking out about this. Will you?

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First snowfall

Doesn’t look as if it will amount to much.

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Swagger is for wanna-bes

Sports Cliches I’m Really, Really Tired of Hearing:

1) “In Space” — re football, seems to mean just “past the line of scrimmage with nobody immediately around.” OK, I get it. Enough, already.

2) “Swagger” — Body language and attitude that is supposed to show confidence, an upbeat attitude and an “I’m better than you are” mindset. Spoken of by TV announcers, coaches and athletes as if it’s a good thing. In reality, great athletes have an understated grace that is the diametric opposite of swagger.

The Cincinnati Enquirer’s Paul Daugherty had a great column recently about the perils of NFL football. Half of the players surveyed by Eric M. Carter for his book Boys Gone Wild: Fame, Fortune, And Deviance Among Professional Football Players reported deep depression even at the height of their careers. Who would have thought that fabulous wealth, community adulation, pursuit of mindless pleasure, lack of supervision and grounding would lead to that?

By the way, the link above is to the book’s Amazon site. Warning: Googling “boys gone wild” most definitely gives a whole ‘nother type of links.

Oh, and . . . I am a sports fan, of sorts (observer-style). I’ll watch just about any college football. And Duke basketball. But I’m not fair-weather about it: I also steel myself to watch the Bengals and the Reds. Hey, the Bengals are 8-2 3, so maybe it’s working!

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Goo Goo Goo Joob

walrusHow can you represent song lyrics in a diagram?

The Huffington Post has some clever graphs of popular songs, including Steve Miller’s “The Joker” and this one of the Beatles’ “I Am the Walrus.”

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Rock slide on I-40

RockSlideLast weekend I attended my high school reunion in Gaffney, SC. Normally my route back to Cincinnati involves I-40 from Asheville, NC to Knoxville, TN. But when I hit Asheville Sunday morning, traffic was being routed up I-26 (a beautiful almost-new road) to Johnson City, TN and down I-81 from there.

This is the second time since we’ve been in Ohio that a slide has closed I-40. It’s a remarkable road through Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina and Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee. I had missed being caught in the slide by about 9 hours.

The picture here is from the Greenvile News web site in SC. Apparently the road will be closed for several months.

One of my good friends at the reunion wrote this after I sent him an email about the slide: “I remember I-40 through the Pigeon River Gorge very fondly.  I used to drive that route coming down from Lexington in my Fiat. Top down…wind in my hair….pedal to the metal…and bright sun in my eyes.  One time I sailed into one of the tunnels at about 80 mph and was confronted by total darkness.  The lights in the tunnel were OFF that day, and I had temporary blindness from the sun, and my sunglasses were on, AND my headlights were off.  How did we ever survive our youths?”

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