The Daily Dose – August 16, 2017

Notes from around the Human Experience…

BACK FROM THE BRINK…FOR NOW: North Korea backed down on its threats to attack evil Guam Tuesday. Maybe North Korean leaders saw the pointlessness of this themselves, or maybe the Chinese ambassador stopped by for a chat, smacked Kim Jong-un around and said:

Look, I  know those zany Americans are a hot mess right now, but they can send you – and us for that matter – back to the stone age before their morning coffee is done, so STFU, thank you in advance.

Get Your Notebooks Out, Class Is In Session: It was probably all bluster on their part and we don’t think we were ever particularly close to war, but you never really know, especially when America has a president who does everything off the top of his head and gives daily clinics in Blustering 101.

Gaylon For Congress…Vote Early, Vote Often: Regular readers of this crap know – know! – we are the biggest of peace advocates, both in this column and as candidates for the United States Senate and House of Representatives. We believe in giving every nation the dignity of conducting their affairs without interference from us and that we will not have a peaceful world without a peaceful America.

It’s On: But I believe in defending our country, and if North Korea had so much as thrown a rock at Guam, we would’ve been authorized to retaliate. Threats against us – Guam, Cleveland, it doesn’t matter – must be ended immediately and for good. Now, we don’t have to nuke them, of course. We have enough conventional weapons to do sufficient damage. Heck, I ‘m not entirely convinced some well-trained Boy Scouts couldn’t go in and take Pyongyang.

The Bottom Line: America has a lot to answer for right now, but we’ve still got the biggest sticks on the block. Don’t mess with us.  

MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE RANCH: At least President Trump is consistent.

It wasn’t a bulletin when, in a remark that was witless as it was insensitive, our president said there was enough blame for the Charlottesville tragedy to go around. And it wasn’t a surprise when he later came out and called white supremacists criminals and thugs. And while it was perhaps unprecedented, no one should be scratching their heads after Trump reverted to his original statement, insisting yet again “there is blame on both sides” for a racist plowing a car into a throng of people protesting racists. 

Now, in a philosophical, big picture context, Trump has a point. If the protesters had not shown up, if they had let the racists alone to hate by themselves, none of this would have happened. Take away their audience and they are just a bunch of people standing around with nothing to do. 

Dry, Technical Matter: However, being contextually correct is not what our country needs from its president right now. We need a president who can and will publicly declare what this country is about. America’s record on race has never been good, but it would have been nice to have a president stand up and say hey, we’re better than this from the start. 

Did We Call It, Or What?: We said before last November’s election that Trump would be as embarrassing a president as he was a candidate. He is, and if you think it is going to get any better you are high, legally in some states. We elected an unread man of no particular substance, just like George W Bush. Trump continues to show his only real talent is drawing attention to himself.  

ON THIS DATE! ON THIS DATE!: Sports Illustrated publishes its first issue on this date in 1954, with Eddie Matthews of the Milwaukee Braves on the cover.

Long before the advent of cable TV and the Internet, Sports Illustrated, despite being a weekly magazine, was an important source of sports news. And while it’s prominence might be less than it was in its heyday, Sports Illustrated still has over 3 million subscribers, the most of any sports magazine in the country.

A Warm, Personal Remembrance: We can remember bugging Dad to subscribe to SI back when we were kids. The rate was 19 cents an issue in 1975 and Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rocky Bleier was on the cover of the first issue delivered to our house. The covers from our Kansas City Royals two World Series championships hang on a wall in our home office. 

Great Moments In Falling Out Of The Wild Blue Yonder: US Air Force Captain Joseph Kittinger sets parachuting records for the highest altitude jump, longest freefall and highest speed by a human outside of an airplane above New Mexico on this date in 1960.

Kittinger stepped out of his balloon 102,800 feet up, fell 4 minutes and 36 seconds and achieved a high speed 614 miles per hour. The records stood until 2012, probably because nobody was particularly anxious to beat them.

Thank You For Your Service, Sir: This was part of a varied career for Kittinger. He would later, among other things, fly in the Vietnam War, getting shot down and spending eleven months as a prisoner of war. He retired from the Air Force as a colonel in 1978. Now 87, he lives in Orlando, Florida.

Quotebook: Superfluous wealth can buy superfluities only. Money is not required to buy one necessary of the soul. – Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Answer To The Last Trivia Question: Pope Julius II was the pope who commissioned Michelangelo to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

Today’s Stumper: Who was Sports Illustrated’s first Sportsman of the Year? – Answer next time!

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The Thought for the Day – Rodney King

Can’t we all just get along? – Rodney King

Similar to others featured here, like Benjamin Franklin and Abraham Lincoln for instance, Rodney King probably does not need an introduction. King was leading an unremarkable life when his 1991 beating at the hands of officers of Los Angeles Police Department – which was neither his first nor last law enforcement encounter – was videotaped and then broadcast on TV, first in Los Angeles then around the world. King died in 2012 at age 47 and his beating is actually a throwback to a simpler time in America because let’s face it, had King gotten fussy with police today he probably would have been shot. 

Of course, the answer is no, we cannot all get along. History’s long march – featuring, among other things, intolerance, wars, hatred and slavery – has shown that.

What we’ve always found interesting is that we know very few actual racists, the kind who would go out and wear hoods or burn crosses on people’s lawns or get their shorts in a knot because some city decided to take a statue down. Most people just want to get on with their lives and are happy enough to extend that courtesy to others. The actual number of people committed to racial disharmony is rather small. What keeps them around is their own fanatical dedication and our continuing to pay attention to them.

These people have nothing without attention from us. If we don’t pay attention to them they literally have nothing except the hoods on their heads. Their rallies will be nothing more than intramural events, with everyone wandering around patting themselves on the back, basking in their ignorance. The more we pester and antagonize them the more we enable them.  

As with various other aspects of our Human Experience, the solution lies with us. We must realize that while we can fight hatred, while we can show up at their rallies, matching venom with venom isn’t particularly useful because some might plow a car into us. We must have the inner peace that allows us to ignore hatred when fighting it will just create more hatred. This is not always easy to realize, because it is human nature to want to take action to right a wrong, but a lot of life is overcoming ourselves.

There is no substitute for inner peace. Peaceful people produce people countries and peaceful countries produces a peaceful world. 

Peace begins with us.

The Thought for the Day runs regularly. Quotes are from Gaylon’s private stock.

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The Daily Dose – August 15, 2017

Notes from around the Human Experience…

NO, I  GUESS WE CAN’T ALL JUST GET ALONG: Few, if any, throughout human history have lived in racial harmony. As a species, we have always distrusted those different from us and history is generally one long litany of intolerance and hatred, from crusades to slavery to this past Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia.

And as long as humans that are different from each other insist on living together, we never will. Suspicion and even hatred of those different than us are too ingrained in the human psyche. It’s the way the world is built.

Well, Aren’t We Little Miss Mary Sunshine Today: But we can do better than this. We can do better than witless gatherings promoting white supremacy and we can do better than driving cars into throngs of people.

Dry, Technical Matter: You would have thought that 150 years after the Civil War that we would have made more progress than this. You would have thought the KKK and its descendants would have disappeared. You might have thought that both black and white lives matter rallies would be unnecessary. You might think we would have evolved to the point where we realized all lives matter, that everyone being allowed to get the most of their lives is required to make our collective human experience work.

You would be wrong. We haven’t. Not even close.

Let’s Try This: Here are a couple of things we can do to help our country out. They’re small things, but if 320 million Americans did them, the results would be stunning.

Leading Off: First, let’s stop hyphenating our American identity.

We have some modest experience here.  We have Mexican, English and German blood, and have relatives who are, among other things, Jewish, Indian and Cuban, which nicely countered my all-white Lutheran church. No one in our family thought of as anything other than American. We won’t truly have an America until we are all Americans with no hyphens.  

And In This Corner: Here is something else we can do:

Stop paying attention to racists and hate groups!

There are so few true racists out there that in a country of 320 million people their numbers are statistically insignificant. A few thousand at most. By paying attention to them we are issuing them the relevance, attention and legitimacy they are looking for but are not entitled to. If we stop pestering them at their rallies there will be nobody there but them and eventually they will stop getting together.

Some Philosophy Crap: Friends, we rise as a country and we fall as a country. When we make people settle for a hyphenated identity what we are really saying is they are less American than others.

Fly In The Ointment: This is wrong. We are telling them they are second class citizens. When we tell others they are second class citizens we are telling ourselves we are second class citizens. And friends, when we do that we herald to the world America is a second rate country.

ON THIS DATE! ON THIS DATE! One of mankind’s great treasures, the Sistine Chapel, is consecrated with its first mass on this date in 1483. Commissioned by Pope Sixtus IV in 1473, it is the second chapel to stand on the site. Michelangelo began painting the ceiling – one of mankind’s landmark achievements – in 1508.

Get Out Your Record Books: Guy Hecker, playing for the Louisville Colonels of the American Association has one the great hitting days in major league history on this date in 1886 when he establishes or ties eight major league records.

Hecker’s seven runs, six hits and 15 total bases were new records and his three home runs tied the existing mark. Since Hecker was the starting pitcher these were, and remain, records for pitchers, too, though Jim Tobin of the Philadelphia Phillies would tie the home run mark in 1942.

Batter Up: Five of these records still stand: most runs in a game by anybody and most runs, hits, total bases and home runs in a game by a pitcher. For a player to have a similar day today he would have to have eight hits, eight runs, four home runs and 20 total bases.

Yeah, We Were All Wondering About This Gaylon: The seven runs in a game is not on our list of records that will never be broken, but we are not holding our breath someone will ever score eight.

The Post Game Show Is Brought To You By Old Style Beer: Louisville, playing at home, defeated the Baltimore Orioles 22-5 after winning the opening game 13-6. With the wins, Louisville moves to 10 games behind the idle St Louis Browns.

Oh Yeah: Hecker is one of the most versatile players in major league history. He won the American Association batting title that year (.341) and is the only player ever to win both a batting title and an ERA, leading the AA wth a 1.80 ERA in 1884.

“I  Was Fed Up…I  Was Finished”: American soldier James Joseph Dresnok defects to North Korea on this date in 1962. Facing a court-martial for forgery and being AWOL, Dresnok ran across the Demilitarized Zone where he was immediately arrested. Though he once tried and failed to seek asylum at the Soviet Embassy in hopes of returning home, he eventually married and raised a family in North Korea.

Dresnok is believed to have died last year, though this has not been confirmed by anyone in a position to know for sure.

Quotebook: I work harder than anyone who has ever lived. I am not well and worn out with this stupendous labor, and yet I am patient to achieve the desired end.  – Michelangelo, Letter to brother while painting Sistine Chapel

Answer To The Last Trivia Question: The United States stopped quarantining astronauts returning from the moon following Apollo 14.

Today’s Stumper: Which pope commissioned Michelangelo to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel – Answer next time!

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The Thought for the Day – Deng Ming-Dao

…the ultimate opponent is the warrior’s own self…To actually overcome one’s own defects is the nature of victory. – Deng Ming Dao, 365 Tao

Deng Ming-Dao is an American writer and artist. He has written several books about the Chinese spiritual discipline known as Tao, including the book today’s Thought is stolen from. The effect 365 Tao has had both on our lives and our work as a writer is profound and we give 365 Tao the highest possible recommendation, regardless of whether your current spiritual path involves a Supreme Being, a Buddha or a goat. 

We all have our strengths, of course, but we are all battling something. Personally, we have always fought, among other things, the weight battle and we are some of the great procrastinators in human history.

The work required to overcome our defects is enormous. It requires wisdom, courage and patience, and in no small measure, either.

First, we must have the wisdom to identify our defects. This is not easy because not everyone is willing or able to subject themselves to the required self-examination. Then we need the courage to go and do something about our defects, to put the work in that is required to overcome them. Then we need the patience to see the process through to conclusion. Change does not happen immediately and it takes patience to go the many required miles.

To actually overcome one’s own defects is the nature of victory…

Regular readers of this crap know that from time to time we’ve talked about wisdom, courage and patience being the elements of success. And, not surprisingly, when we’ve utilized these traits to overcome our defects, we will usually find that success is there waiting for us.  

Overcoming ourselves is sometimes our biggest battle. When we are able to do that, when wisdom, courage and patience yield their customary rewards, we will have our ultimate victory.

The Thought for the Day runs regularly. Quotes are from Gaylon’s private stock.

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The Daily Dose – August 13, 2017

Notes from around the Human Experience…

DUCK, COVER AND TWEET: Well, it certainly is an exciting time to be an American.

Between our president bickering with North Korea and our continuing and insurmountable racial divides, we here at The Daily Dose think circumstances are presenting our country with its best opportunity to self-destruct since the 1960’s.

Leading Off: We are closer to nuclear war than ever! With the US and North Korea both being led by attention-needing rabble rousers, both refreshingly ignoring protocol and common sense. The rhetoric has toned down a bit this weekend, but we are never more than a tweet away from having it ratchet up again and the world is just one knee-jerk reaction away from enjoying – for the third time – the blazing afterglow of nuclear annihilation.  

Old Times There Are Not Forgotten: For a third time white nationalists gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia. The protests in May and July had some unrest, but nothing like Saturday’s, where a young man drove a car into a group protesting the white supremacists, killing one and injuring over 30.

Get Your Official Daily Dose Policy Right Here: Friends, if no one shows up to these white power pow wows nothing happens. With no one there to antagonize them, they’ll mill about for a while patting themselves on the back and basking in the depths of their ignorance before sashaying off to the nearest white sale to stock up on hoods. No one will get killed and once they realize no one is paying attention to them they’ll stop gathering.

The Bottom Line: We’re not quite at the threat level of the 60’s. The racial divides were probably deeper and the Cuban Missile Crisis certainly took us tantalizingly closer to the brink of nuclear war than we probably are now.

But we’re close. Too close, really, and far closer than we really should be.

GO IN PEACE, SERVE KING THEODORIC: Pope John I is elected pope on this date in 523.

This was in a time when other rulers could smack around a pope and tell him what to do and Pope John I was soon dispatched to Constantinople by Theodoric, king of the Ostrogoths, to help smooth over some troubles he was having with Eastern Roman Emperor Justin. It’s recorded that John I was not unsuccessful, but Theodoric imprisoned him anyway because he felt Pope John and Emperor Justin were in league against him. Pope John was ill-treated, and perhaps even starved, in prison and he died in 527.

Take That, Bloody Colonists: The Royal Navy completes its defeat of the American Navy off the coast of what is now Maine on this date in 1789. It wasn’t particularly close either, as the British lost exactly zero ships, while the loss of all 44 ships would be the worst American naval loss until Pearl Harbor.

A Few Good Women: Chicks enlist in the Marine Corps for the first time on this date in 1918 when Opha Mae Johnson, who happened to be the first in line, is the first to sign up. She would spend the war at Marine Corps headquarters, keeping the records of those women who followed her. 

Numbers Game: All told, 305 women enlisted in the Marine Corps in World War I. All were discharged when the war ended and women would not be allowed back in the Corps until World War II was a year old.

Great Moments In The Death Penalty: Britain executes people for the final time on this date in 1964, hanging Peter Allen and Gwynne Evans at the same time in different prisons for murdering John West the previous spring. Britain would do away with the death penalty for murder the following year, and for treason in 1998.

Busy Day: Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins are released from quarantine on this date in 1969. They are immediately traveling again, the crew being dispatched to New York City and Chicago for parades, then to Los Angeles for a parade and a state dinner with President Richard Nixon.

Quotebook: Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide. – John Adams, second president of the United States

Answer To The Last Trivia Question: Four US submarines have been lost since World War II: Cochino, Scorpion, Stickleback and Thresher.

Today’s Stumper: When did the United States stop quarantining astronauts after returning from the moon? – Answer next time!

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The Thought for the Day – Henry David Thoreau

No man ever followed his genius till it misled him.. – Henry David Thoreau, Walden

To help kick the anniversary this week of the publishing of Walden into really high gear, we have another quote from that book for The Thought for the Day.

Thoreau fans know that he used the word ‘genius’ from time to time and he is not talking about rocket scientists. He is referring to the innate abilities and inclinations all of us are born with and some research shows this is more or less what genius meant way back when. 

One of the earliest lessons we remember learning in Lutheran school is that everyone can do something well. Some are good at math, some at reading, some are good athletes while an annoying few can do all these things well. Our particular skill was reading and memory work. Lutheran schools presented the requisite number of Bible passages, creeds and commandments to memorize. I  did it better than most.

Following your genius isn’t hard:  you find what you are meant to do and you do it until you die. People who do this are the ones who lead the most satisfying, useful and well-lived lives. They live lives that are useful to themselves and, since they are useful to themselves they are in position to be useful to others.

But you must follow your genius every day. Doing it one day and not the next won’t get it done. Being on your path for a couple of weeks while taking the rest of the year off doesn’t do you or your fellow citizens any good. You must live the life you were meant to live every day. There is no letup.

And this is why it is so difficult. Actually doing the things you were born to do isn’t all that tough. You’re utilizing the talents you were issued at birth and since Nature isn’t an idiot, she saw to it you enjoy what you are good at. Doing things you have a knack for and enjoy is a pleasure.

It’s doing them every single day that is challenging. It’s doing them when you also have to go and earn a living or when the car needs to be taken in or when someone is annoying you. But if you follow your genius every day, it will take you exactly where you were meant to go in this life.

The Thought for the Day runs regularly. Quotes are from Gaylon’s private stock.

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The Daily Dose – August 12, 2017

Notes from around the Human Experience…

CAPSULE BOOK REVIEW: America By Alistair Cooke: Something we’ve noticed during our years reading is our tendency to read books that are not particularly new. This trait has only increased as the years have passed, too. In grade school the books we got through the book club were new, of course, but the Hardy Boys novels we grew up on were old even when we were kids and there are an awful lot of books out there and we tend to know what we like and we’ve always been drawn to books that have been around a while.

This explains why we are just now got around to America, a mere 44-years after it was published. We picked it up a book sale at our small town library.

Dry, Technical Matter: America came in tandem with a television show of the same name presented by Cooke that ran on PBS in 1972. Cooke was for many years the New York City correspondent for The Guardian and hosted Letters From America for the BBC, which ran around the world from 1946-2004. It remains the longest-running spoken word radio show hosted by one individual in human history.

Uh, Are You Going To Review This Book Or Not?: America is a retrospective on 400 years of American history. There are pilgrims and Indians and presidents and robber barons and gold rushes and atomic bombs and the major cultural shifts that made America what it is today. Or was in 1973, when the book was originally published.

Bloody Good: For a Brit, or maybe because he’s a Brit, Cooks does a very good job of conveying not only some of the nuts-and-bolts history of America, but also of the spirit of America, of what and why Americans were possessed, both individually and collectively, to do certain things at certain times.

Fly In The Ointment: Cooke saves particular invective for our treatment of blacks, ultimately throwing up his hands – in resignation and, perhaps, despair – and saying this country is in a box regarding what he termed refugees from the Confederacy. Cooke probably would not be surprised to see we still haven’t solved that problem.

The Bottom Line: On a scale of 1-5, one being the very best humanity can offer to five being a steaming pile with three being Good, we give America a very good 2. Serious historians will like it while casual readers will not be overwhelmed by anything.

ON THIS DATE! ON THIS DATE! Isaac Singer receives US patent #8294 for his sewing machine on this date in 1851. It was far from the first sewing machine patent issued, however it was the first that made sewing machines practical for home use. Singer invested in mass production and interchangeable parts, cut the price of sewing machines in half and upped his profit margin over 500 percent.

Great Moments In Killing Large Numbers Of Your Fellow Humans: The Nazis end the Wola Massacre in Warsaw, Poland on this date in 1944.

The massacre began on August 5, with Nazi battle groups ordered to destroy Warsaw and exterminate civilians. Focusing primarily on women, children and the elderly that first day, the Nazis would eventually stop discriminating and execute between 40,000 and 50,000 people in the following days.

Well, This Is Good News: The Nazis decreed that as of the 12th all captured civilians were to be sent to concentration camps.

Well, This Wasn’t In The Plan Of The Day: Operating in the Barents Sea off the northern coast of Russia, the Russian submarine Kursk catches fire, explodes and sinks on this day in 2000. All 118 aboard, 1116 sailors and two civilian technicians, died.

The first explosion occurred at 11:29am when highly concentrated hydrogen peroxide leaked from a practice torpedo and exploded in the forward torpedo room. Two minutes and 14 seconds later, several torpedo warheads exploded. The first explosion would be measured at 1.5 on the Richter Scale, with the second measuring 4.2.

WTF?: No one knew what happened initially. When Kursk missed a 1:30pm torpedo shoot nobody got too alarmed because Soviet communications gear failed left and right. It wasn’t until 6pm when Kursk missed a scheduled communication check and could not be raised by headquarters that the Soviet Navy start a search and rescue operation.

This Is Really Code For “The Submarine Has Exploded And Sunk And Everyone’s Dead”: The Russians were in top form from the start, giving a clinic in stonewalling and lying that would have had their Soviet forefathers beaming with pride. Their first official announcement on Monday said the Kursk had experienced ‘minor technical difficulties”, that they had established contact with the crew and that everyone was alive despite the fact the Kursk was at the bottom of the ocean and the entire crew was dead. 

Hell Of A Way To Go: We rode boats when we were in the US Navy and I‘ll tell you what, you didn’t dwell on it, but you thought about it and from time to time you would find yourself praying to whoever you thought would do you the most good that this wouldn’t happen to you.

Get Out Your Record Books: Bobby Jenks of the Chicago White Sox retires his 41st consecutive batter on this date in 2007, tying the major league record established by Jim Barr of San Francisco in 1972. Jenks pitched a scoreless ninth inning as the White Sox defeated Seattle 6-0.

Evidently only White Sox and Giants players are allowed to hold this record because it was broken in 2009 when the White Sox Mark Buehrle retired 45 straight batters and the record is now held by Yusmeiro Petit of the Giants, who retired 46 straight batters in 2014.

Quotebook: In the greatest fortune there is the least liberty. – William Bird, Virginia planter, circa 1662; from America by Alistair Cooke.

Answer To The Last Trivia Question: There was not a Trivia feature last time, silly!

Today’s Stumper: Since World War II, how many US submarines have been lost? – Answer next time!

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The Thought for the Day – Henry David Thoreau

Let everyone mind his own business, and endeavor to be what he was made. – Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Today marks the 163rd anniversary of the publishing of Walden. Though far from a best seller – it took a few years to sell out the initial printing of 2,000 copies – it has been in print almost continuously since Thoreau died in 1862. Walden does a brilliant job of providing the insights into our human experience that you pay us writers to provide and Walden remains a landmark in human letters. Though Thoreau, like every other writer, writes in the style of his times, which is somewhat, and perhaps even tediously, different than how we speak and write now, Walden is very readable and has rewards for both the casual reader and the serious thinker.

Let everyone mind his own business…

While it seems like fun to gossip or butt into other people’s lives, there really isn’t much profit in these endeavors for anyone. Our lives and everyone else’s work best when we give others the dignity of living their lives without interference from us.

…and endeavor to be what he was made.

We talk a lot about this in this space: we are all born with unique and distinctive talents and our lives run better when we are attending to those and not bothering others. When our times comes to die we are going to ask ourselves:

Did we do well or did we waste the 24 hours we are issued every day?

And only we can answer that question: I  can’t answer for you and you can’t answer for me. Literally or figuratively, we are going to have look ourselves in the mirror and decide. We cannot avoid it.

We can all do well with our time on this planet, but – like Thoreau said and did – we must endeavor to live the life we were meant to live. It is the only way we are going to ourselves or anyone else any good.

The Thought for the Day runs regularly. Quotes are from Gaylon’s private stock.

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The Daily Dose – August 9, 2017

Notes from around the Human Experience…

MINE’S BIGGER!: Fabulous. Our president is in a p*ssing contest with a dictator whose attention needs are every bit as enormous as his. At issue is the minor detail about whose country can better annihilate the other’s via nuclear weapons.

Way To Deescalate, Mr President: Stuff like this right up President Trump’s alley, of course. A man whose only real talent is drawing to attention to himself, he is completely in his element tossing rhetoric like this around, today promising that if North Korea didn’t stop this nonsense they could count on:

Fire and fury like the world has never seen…

LOL: For their part, the North Korean military said they were reviewing their plans for attacking Guam.

Dry, Technical Matter: Why those zany Koreans think Guam is strategically important is not immediately clear, even to us. Guam is located in the western Pacific and is over 2,000 miles from North Korea and you do not have to be General MacArthur to know that Guam would be about as useful as the moon as a staging area by the United States should we ever decide to attack them.

FunFact(s): Guam became a US possession when Spain forked it over after losing the Spanish-American War. It’s residents are American citizens and while Guamanians do not have votes in either the Congress or the Electoral College, they do elect their own governor and a 15-member senate.

Oh Jesus H: They do field their own national athletic teams, too, and have competed in the past eight Summer Olympics, as well as the 1988 Winter Games. They seldom have athletes advance past the first round, however.

Back On Message: Exactly what North Korea is capable of isn’t clear. They started their nuclear program in the early 1990’s and conducted their first nuclear explosion in 2006. It is believed they have can now put a small warhead on a long range missile, but who the hell knows for sure?

OTOH: Or maybe they can’t. During the 1950’s, when nuclear tensions between the US and the Soviet Union were rising, it was thought the Soviets were to be feared, especially when they refused treaties whose terms included inspections. History, however, has shown the Soviets feared any inspection would show how weak they really were.

The Bottom Line: Either way, the world is paying attention to, and fearing, North Korea right now, and that is a lot of what they are looking for.

ON THIS DATE! ON THIS DATE!: Walden; or, Life in the Woods by Henry David Thoreau is published by Ticknor and Fields on this date in 1854. Though now generally highly regarded, Walden did not receive universal acclaim, and it took a few years to sell even a couple of thousand books.

Yeah, This Is Interesting: Walden developed from 18 essays Thoreau had written about the two-year period in the mid-1840’s he had spent living in a cabin he had built near Walden Pond. Thoreau ultimately produced eight drafts before publication.

Some Philosophy Crap: If your only experience with Walden are some of its famous quotes, do yourself a favor and read the entire book. Walden is part memoir and part spiritual quest and Thoreau talks a lot about living simply and other exciting concepts. And while the terms “quaint” or “eccentric” – or even “whackjob” – might come to mind while reading it, Walden has rewards for those who make it all the way through.

Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires: One of America’s most iconic advertising symbols, Smokey Bear, debuts on this date in 1944, on posters released by the US Forest Service.

Designed to call attention to preventing forest fires, Smokey would later appear, among other places, on radio shows and in comic strips and cartoon.

Oh Yeah: Over the years Smokey has often been seen wearing a campaign hat, similar to those worn by some in the military and law enforcement. This led long haul truckers to call cops ‘smokies’ or ‘bears’.

That’ll Show ‘Em: Three days after bombing Hiroshima, the United States drops another atomic bomb on Japan, this time attacking Nagasaki on this date in 1945.

Uh, Gee, Thanks Guys: Mankind’s second nuclear bombing had originally been scheduled for Kokura a couple of days later, but some bad weather in the forecast necessitated the change.

“Moreover, The Enemy Now Possesses A New And Terrible Weapon…”: Between 129,000 and 225,000 are estimated to have been killed either directly or indirectly by the two bombings, but the entire total – which includes 20 allied prisoners of war – will never be known.

What The Hell’s Going On Here: Tired of constant bickering and racial tensions, Malaysia kicks Singapore out the country on this date in 1965. Despite the troubles, Singapore didn’t really want this, and they remain the only country in history to gain independence unwillingly.

I  Do Solemnly Swear…: Gerald Ford becomes the 38th president of the United States on this date in 1974, following the resignation of Richard Nixon. Ford would serve the remaining two-and-a-half years of Nixon’s term and would lose to Jimmy Carter in the 1980 presidential election.

Quotebook: I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. – Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Answer To The Last Trivia Question: Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton are the presidents other than Richard Nixon to have impeachment charges against them considered by the House of Representatives. Unlike Nixon, both were actually impeached by the House before being acquitted at trial in the US Senate.

Today’s Stumper: The Trivia feature will return.

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The Thought for the Day – Evan Thomas

America was the world’s policeman, too materialistic and perhaps even a little lazy, but all in all very much the world’s last, best hope. – Evan Thomas, Ike’s Bluff

Evan Thomas is an American historian and writer. The subjects of his books are diverse, from US presidents to John Paul Jones to Edward Bennett Williams to the CIA. Ike’s Bluff – which we’ve quoted here before – is about President Eisenhower and his handling of both America’s rising nuclear stockpiles and the Soviet Union’s ascension as a nuclear power and today’s Thought concerns America in the 1950’s.

A lot has happened in the five decades since Eisenhower left office, but today’s Thought is as relevant today as it was then.

America was the world’s policeman…

We still are. It’s a role we seem fundamentally incapable of surrendering. Against all evidence to the contrary, America seems to think war will produce peace when all it does is produce more war.

…and perhaps even a little lazy…

This is true, too. Not so much because us Americans no longer want to work, but because more and more we are expecting our government to do more and more for us and it is not completely unreasonable to expect us to start clamoring for our government to provide cradle to grave coverage within a generation or two. Again, against all evidence to the contrary because if socialism really worked the Soviet Union would have won the Cold War and Cuba would be a world power.

…all in all very much the world’s last, best hope.

This is still true, too. The world needs America because make no mistake about it, the world is no different than a town, a state, a country and even a family: it needs leadership, too, and America, frankly, is the only country capable of providing that leadership.

America, however, is taking a flier on that responsibility. By refusing to give other nations the dignity of conducting their affairs without US interference, our government has produced both a violent world and a violent country. By refusing to give its citizens the dignity of conducting their lives without government interference, it has produced citizens both unwilling and unable to lead the world.

You and me – we the people – are tolerating all of this. Both individually and collective we have been derelict in our duty as citizens. We cannot be the last best hope for the world if we are not the last, best hope for ourselves.

The Thought for the Day runs regularly. Quotes are from Gaylon’s private stock.

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