Typewriter of the moment: Godrej & Boyce, the last manual ever made

April 30, 2011

Can this be correct?

The Daily Mail in London reports that the last manufacturer of manual typewriters in the world, Godrej & Boyce of India, is shutting down production.

Is this the last manual typewriter ever to be made?

Godrej and Boyce, Prima, the last manual typewriter manufactured in the world

The Prima, from Godrej & Boyce; in India, the last company making manual typewriters is closing down

According to the Daily Mail:

It’s an invention that revolutionised the way we work, becoming an essential piece of office equipment for the best part of a century.

But after years of sterling service, that bane for secretaries has reached the end of the line.

Godrej and Boyce – the last company left in the world that was still manufacturing typewriters – has shut down its production plant in Mumbai, India with just a few hundred machines left in stock.

Although typewriters became obsolete years ago in the west, they were still common in India  – until recently.  Demand for the machines has sunk in the last ten years as consumers switch to computers.

The company’s general manager, Milind Dukle, told India’s Business Standard newspaper: ‘We are not getting many orders now.

‘From the early 2000s onwards, computers started dominating. All the manufacturers of office typewriters stopped production, except us.

‘Till 2009, we used to produce 10,000 to 12,000 machines a year. But this might be the last chance for typewriter lovers. Now, our primary market is among the defence agencies, courts and government offices.’

The company is now down to its last  200 machines – the majority of which are Arabic language models.

The firm began production in the 1950s – when Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru described the typewriter as a symbol of India’s emerging independence and industrialisation. It was still selling 50,000 models annually in the early 1990s, but last year it sold less than 800 machines.

The first commercial typewriter was produced in the U.S. in 1867 and by the turn of the century had developed into the  standardised format – including a qwerty’ keyboard – that we know today.

Say it ain’t so, Mr. Christopher Latham Sholes!

Godrej & Boyce manufactures several different technology products in its conglomerate of factories — but the typewriter is already gone from their website’s listing of company products.

Electric typewriters will continue to roll off of foreign assembly lines, for companies like Swintec and Brother.

More, resources, etc.: 


Pure political smear from Walter Williams, or is there any factoid to back his claim?

April 30, 2011

Walter Williams wrote a column a dozen years ago in which he made some wild claims about Stanford population biologist Paul Ehrlich.

Stanford University Prof. Paul R. Ehrlich - L A Cicero image

What did he really say?  Stanford University Prof. Paul R. Ehrlich – L A Cicero image

Williams wrote:

Paul Ehrlich wrote The Population Bomb, widely read on college campuses during the late sixties.  Ehrlich predicted that there’d be a major food shortage in the U.S. and “in the 1970s . . . hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death.”  He forecast that 65 million Americans would die of starvation between 1980 and 1989, and that by 1999 the U.S. population would have declined to 22.6 million.  Ehrlich’s predictions about England were worse:  “If I were a gambler, I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000.”

Walter Williams, More Liberty Means Less Government:  Our founders knew this well, Hoover Institution Press Publication No. 453, 1999, p. 134

Recently Williams revived that claim for another column, and the revived claim is all over conservative sites.

Steven Goddard, who appears to be making a living on screwing up references to the work of others, though had restricted most of his error to sciency issues like climate change denial, put up a post repeating Williams’ claim.

I imagined Ehrlich might have said something like that, but most likely in one of his “scenarios” like the three much different disaster scenarios he proposed in his 1968 book Population Bomb So I asked Goddard for a reference (pollution and economic scarcity, disease, and food shortages, were the three apocalyptic horsemen Ehrlich wrote about then).

It didn’t occur to me that the quote attributed to Ehrlich was wholly fictitious, but in more than a week of searching, neither Goddard nor Maurizio Moribito commenting at Goddard’s site can find anything even close to what Williams claimed.  I’ve pored through my old copy of Population Bomb, and it’s not there that I can find, not without a much more thorough reading I don’t have time for right now.  (My copy of Ehrlich’s Population, Resources and Environment is buried somewhere here in my bookshelves — that was the textbook Ehrlich wrote, a book used in a population and ecology course I took in the Biology Department at the University of Utah way back when.  It’s also a favorite book for conservatives to quote mine, wringing fantastic mischaracterizations from the early edition or a later one where Ehrlich and his wife were joined by John Holdren, now an adviser to President Obama.)

Dear Readers, help me out:  Did Ehrlich say anything like what Williams via Goddard claims he said, or did Williams pluck this smear from a some unlighted private library?  Was Williams just playing fast and loose with the truth (again)?

Did Ehrlich ever “predict” 65 million deaths from starvation in America in the 1980s?  Can anyone source the quote?

More, strings to follow:  

Even more stuff on the topic:


Scouts Shooting for the Moon: The story of twelve Moon walkers, and Scouting

April 30, 2011

A short piece I presented this morning to the Tom Harbin Scout Museum Symposium on Scout History, a great morning organized by Bob Reitz, the curator of the Jack Harbin Scout Museum at Camp Wisdom, in Dallas, Texas.  Of course the material is copyrighted, but by all means you have permission to use the material at Courts of Honor or in recounting the better history of Boy Scouting.

Scouts Shooting for the Moon:  The story of twelve Moon walkers, and Scouting

This is a recreation with modern numbers of a presentation first used a decade ago.  Searching for material for a speech to honor Eagles at our District Dinner, several people suggested in a short period of time, ‘Why not talk about the astronauts who landed on the Moon.  I hear they were all Eagle Scouts.’  Was that accurate?  It would have been a good story if so.  Research revealed something quite different.  The true story can carry just as much inspiration, however.  Scouting is shown to be a program that can lead to a lifetime of adventure and accomplishment.  Also, Eagles may take some inspiration in knowing they have accomplished something most of the men who walked on the Moon did not.

Speakers constantly need good material for Eagle Scout Courts of Honor and other events honoring Scouts and Scouters.  For one event honoring a group of new Eagle Scouts, several people urged that I research the facts behind the story they had heard, that most, or all of the men who walked on the Moon were Eagle Scouts.  New Eagles would find comfort in knowing they had soared into the midst of such company, they reasoned.

So it came to pass that, before the advent of Wikipedia and Google, I spent hours on the telephone until a press person at NASA pointed out to me a collection of information on astronauts that NASA had thoughtfully put on-line.  At some high cost I printed out the few pages that dealt with the Scouting experience of astronauts, and worked to correlate it with information about which of them had gone to the moon, and which had not.

Anyone can find that book online with ease, today.  The NASA Astronaut Fact Book provides information on almost every detail about NASA’s crew of astronauts, past and present.  It includes one-and-a-half pages on the Scouting background of people working as astronauts and payload specialists for NASA, and others NASA has launched into manned missions.  Cross-indexing that information with lists of Apollo Mission astronauts, I created four short tables showing the Apollo astronauts who went to the Moon, their missions, and the Scout rank they achieved, if any.

Lunar Astronauts and Scouting Experience

Twelve Moon Walkers

  Name Mission Dates on the Moon Scout Rank
1 Neil Armstrong Apollo 11 July 21, 1969 Eagle Scout
2 Buzz Aldrin Apollo 11 July 21, 1969 Tenderfoot Scout
3 Pete Conrad Apollo 12 November 19-20, 1969 Cub Scout
4 Alan Bean Apollo 12 November 19-20, 1969 1st Class
5 Alan Shepard Apollo 14 February 5-6, 1971 1st Class
6 Edgar Mitchell Apollo 14 February 5-6, 1971 Life Scout
7 David Scott Apollo 15 July 31-August 2, 1971 Life Scout
8 James Irwin Apollo 15 July 31-August 2, 1971 None
9 John Young Apollo 16 April 21-23, 1972 2nd Class
10 Charles Duke Apollo 16 April 21-23, 1972 Eagle Scout
11 Eugene Cernan Apollo 17 December 11-14, 1972 2nd Class
12 Harrison Schmitt Apollo 17 December 11-14, 1972 Tenderfoot Scout

Apollo 13

  Name Mission Dates on the Moon Scout Rank
1 Jim Lovell Apollo 13 Lunar Swingby Eagle Scout
2 Jack Swigert Apollo 13 Lunar Swingby 2nd Class
3 Fred Haise Apollo 13 Lunar Swingby Star

Lunar Missions That Did Not Land

  Name Mission Dates on the Moon Scout Rank
1 Frank Borman Apollo 8 Orbited only None
2 Jim Lovell Apollo 8 (&13) Orbited only Eagle Scout
3 William Anders Apollo 8 Orbited only Life Scout
4 Tom Stafford Apollo 10 Orbited only Star Scout
5 John Young Apollo 10 (& 16) Orbited only 2nd Class
6 Eugene Cernan Apollo 10 (& 17) Orbited only 2nd Class

Others Who Did Not Land

  Name Mission Dates on the Moon Scout Rank
1 Michael Collins Apollo 11 Capsule pilot None
2 Dick Gordon Apollo 12 Capsule pilot Star Scout
3 Stewart Roosa Apollo 14 Capsule pilot None
4 Al Worden Apollo 15 Capsule pilot 1st Class
5 Ken Mattingly Apollo 16 Capsule pilot Life Scout
6 Ronald Evans Apollo 17 Capsule pilot Life Scout

In all, 24 men flew to the Moon.  Twelve set foot on the lunar surface.  Of the twelve, eleven were Scouts, two were Eagles.  Of the 24, 20 were Scouts, three were Eagles.

At the time I originally researched, about 70% of all astronauts were alumni of Scouting, men and women.  Officially, BSA lists 181 NASA astronauts as being alumni, 57.4%

NASA lists the colleges and universities astronauts attended.  NASA lists military service, hometowns, and states of birth.  But with the possible exception of a generic category of “public schools,” no category of astronauts is larger than the category of Scouting experience.  If we were advising a young person on how to get to become an astronaut, we would be remiss if we did not advise him or her to join Scouting.

What can we conclude?

Three things became apparent to me in tracking these figures down.  One, I learned once again that the true stories most often carry great value, more value than the stories people make up, or assume.

Two, I learned that Scouting by itself carries great value, without a Scout’s having earned Eagle.  We know that not all the Moon walkers earned the Eagle rank.  But we also notice that no flight ever went to the Moon without at least two Scouts aboard.  Three of the 24 lunar voyagers are Eagles, 12.5%.  Two of the dozen who actually set foot on the Moon are Eagles, 16.7%.  Eleven of the twelve Moon walkers were Scouts, 91.7%.  21 of 24 lunar voyagers were Scouts, 87.5%.

So, while it was not necessary to be an Eagle, it certainly seemed to help.  But simply having Scouting experience seemed to be the biggest help.  There may be some magic in a boy’s having taken that oath that carries through his entire life, and spurs him to do daring and great things.  That is important.  A trend begins to emerge.  Scouting by itself, without earning the highest rank, provides great value.  When a boy signs up, he signs on for the adventure of a lifetime, and often that leads to a lifetime of adventure.  That venturesome spirit carries on well past his Scouting years.

The story of Jim Lovell might carry some great weight with Scouts.  Lovell is the only person to have gone to the Moon twice, but never set foot on it.  He was the commander of Apollo 13, whose near-disaster was chronicled in the movie of the same name.  Among other lessons that might be pulled out of the story:  When your Moon-bound spaceship explodes and loses power on the way to the Moon, it is often good to have an Eagle Scout handy to help get through the experience and return safely.

Is there inspiration here?

When I first presented these figures at a Scout meeting, a parent asked me whether these numbers would discourage boys from working for any rank advancement, since just being a Scout seems to carry such weight.  This should not discourage Eagles, nor discourage any Scout from working to get the Eagle rank.  We should look at it this way:  Every Scout who earns an Eagle has done what ten of the twelve who walked on the Moon did not do, perhaps could not do.  Nine more Moon walkers started on that path to Eagle, but did not finish, or could not finish.   Not every Eagle can go to the Moon, but every Eagle has already won an award that most of those who did go to the Moon wish they had.

Especially in the circles of corporate and government leadership, character, what it is and how to get it, concerns people.  What sort of character does it take to go to the Moon?  Every Scout has a glimpse of what is required, and every Eagle can say, “I know what it takes to get such character.”

Bibliography

Human Spaceflight, “The Apollo Program,” NASA, July 2, 2009; accessed April 28, 2011; http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/history/apollo/

Astronaut Fact Book, NASA,  NP-2005-01-001JSC, January 2005; accessed April 27, 2011; spaceflight.nasa.gov/spacenews/factsheets/pdfs/astro.pdf

BSA, “Facts About Scouting,” 2009; accessed April 28, 2011; http://www.scouting.org/about/factsheets/scoutingfacts.aspx

“Astronauts With Scouting Experience,” Eagle Scout Information, U.S. Scouting Service Project, April 6, 2011; accessed April 29, 2011; http://www.usscouts.org/eagle/eagleastronauts.asp

About the author:

Ed Darrell teaches U.S. History at Moises E. Molina High School in Dallas.  He has taught economics, government, world history and street law in high schools; he also taught at the University of Utah, University of Arizona, and DeVry University.  He is a former speech writer for politicians.  His degree in Mass Communication came from the University of Utah, and his law degree from George Washington University.  This was presented to the Tom Harbin Museum Symposium of Scout History, April 30, 2011.

World Scout badge carried to the Moon by Astronaut Neil Armstrong.

World Scout badge carried to the Moon by Astronaut Neil Armstrong.



“Dark day” in Dallas: Republican War on Education creates hundreds of casualties

April 29, 2011

Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s War on Education created hundreds of casualties today in Dallas Independent School District.  Though the Texas Lege has not approved a final budget, the best case scenario at the moment targets hundreds of jobs in Dallas, and tens of thousands of jobs across Texas.

Dallas ISD Superintendent Michael Hinojosa sent out this message today:

A message from Superintendent of Schools Michael Hinojosa

Earlier today, the district’s administration began the painful process of notifying hundreds of central staff employees that their positions are being eliminated effective immediately. The individuals impacted are good, hard-working people from all departments who have dedicated years of talent and expertise to this school district. They have been colleagues for a long time and they will be missed. While many of them may not have directly worked with children in the classroom, their contributions were nonetheless important in the life of the Dallas Independent School District.

It is highly regrettable that the statewide budget deficit has forced the district to take this drastic course. While many positions are being eliminated, the work is not. Those employees who remain will have an increased burden without extra pay. Please be patient with those who remain on staff in an effort to serve you, parents and the general public.

Today’s action was taken to protect instruction on our campuses as much as possible from the upcoming budget deficit. All totaled, with the layoffs, reassignments, vacancies that will remain unfilled and the number of central staff employees who took the early notification incentive, hundreds of positions have been eliminated from central administration, which will save the district roughly $25 million.

It should be noted that this is the third time in the last four years that Dallas ISD’s central administration staff has been cut. During 2007, 169 central staff positions were eliminated when central services were reorganized. During the fall of 2008, another 160 central staff positions were eliminated because of the district shortfall at the time.

The district is in a financial predicament this time through no fault of our own and we are continuing to work with lawmakers to attempt to minimize cuts to classrooms. At the same time, it appears more likely than ever that Dallas ISD is facing a deficit this next school year of anywhere from $88 million to $126 million. Please continue to press upon state legislators that our work as public school educators is critical to students both now and in the future.

Today is a dark day in our school district and that’s putting it mildly. To those who remain part of Dallas ISD, thank you for your continued hard work on behalf of our students.

Six years ago the Texas Lege cut property taxes, a huge boost to large property owners and those with very expensive tracts of land.  However, the Lege then failed to institute promised new taxes on businesses.  With annual budget shortfalls resulting, contrary to Gov. Perry’s 2010 campaign promises, Texas ended up with a $27 billion deficit in 2011.  Rather than impose new taxes on those who profited from the tax cuts, Rick Perry proposed to fire teachers and close schools.

The Texas budget proposals directly counteract efforts by the Federal Reserve to increase jobs in the nation.

Those firings started today, in Dallas.  Teachers are not included, yet.


Are Trump and the birthers hypocrites? Racists?

April 28, 2011

You will love this post from Day Riffer:

Looks Like Trump’s Right: How the Hell Did This President Get Into Those Ivy League Schools?

Politics

- “The dean looked over Barack’s transcript and college boards and then suggested in a kindly way that he apply to some less competitive colleges in addition to Columbia.”

- “There were no class rankings at his high school, but Barack never made honor roll even one term, unlike 110 boys in his class.”

- “His SAT scores were 566 for the verbal part and 640 for math. Those were far below the median scores for students admitted to his class at Columbia: 668 verbal and 718 math.”

- “At Columbia, Barack Obama distinguished himself primarily as a hard partier, and he managed to be detained by police twice during his university years: once for stealing a Christmas wreath as a fraternity prank and once for trying to tear down the goalposts during a football game at Princeton.”

- “Obama’s transcript at Columbia shows that he was a solid C student. Although a history major, he sampled widely in the social sciences and did poorly in political science and economics while achieving some of his best grades (the equivalent of a B+) in philosophy and anthropology. The transcript indicates that in Obama’s freshman year, the only year for which rankings were available, he was in the twenty-first percentile of his class—meaning that four-fifths of the students were above him. Yet at the same time that he was earning Cs at Columbia, Obama displayed a formidable intelligence in another way. At his induction into the Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE) fraternity, he and others were asked to name all fifty-four pledges in the room. Most were were able to name only five or six. When it was Obama’s turn, he named every single one. Later he rose to become president of DKE, and he was also tapped into Skull and Bones, an elite secret society to which his father had also belonged.”

And then he somehow got into Harvard for graduate school.

Oh, wait.

My bad.

I made a mistake.

Please replace the reference to “high school” with “Andover.”

Please replace “Columbia” with “Yale.”

Please replace “Barack Obama” with “George W. Bush.”

Thanks.

(PresidentProfiles.com)

Read more: http://dayriffer.com/category/28/l/2056/looks-like-trump-s-right-how-the-hell-em-did-em-this-president-get-into-those-ivy-league-schools#ixzz1Kr8k1xVN

Tip of the old scrub brush to Kenny, back from China and “digging deep” in his new studies.


Encore post: Quote of the moment: Education’s rising tide of mediocrity

April 28, 2011

National Commission on Excellence in Education meeting with President Reagan

With Ben Franklin’s bust looking on, National Commission on Excellence in Education met with President Ronald Reagan, in the White House (image from Lawrence-Berkeley Laboratories and Glenn Seaborg)

“Our nation is at risk. The educational foundations of our society are presently being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity. If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war. We have, in effect, been committing an act of unthinking, unilateral educational disarmament. History is not kind to idlers.”

Those warnings, grim and intentionally provocative, were issued last week by the 18-member National Commission on Excellence in Education in a 36-page report called A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform. Headed by University of Utah President David P. Gardner, the NCEE was set up 20 months ago by Secretary of Education Terrel Bell to examine U.S. educational quality.

- Ellie McGrath, “To Stem ‘A Tide of Mediocrity,’” Time, May 9, 1983.

This is an encore post from 2007 – we probably need to repeat this more often.  Milton Goldberg, the executive director of the National Commission on Excellence in Education, and Commission Chairman David P. Gardner probably wrote that paragraph.  It should be engraved over the doors of the administration buildings of every school district in America, I think.

Alas, it’s still true.  It’s more true now, with the full-bore War on Education waged by people like Texas Gov. Rick Perry, aided, sometimes intentionally but sometimes not, by Education Secretary Arne Duncan, and people like Michelle Rhee.

More: 


Obama’s birth certificate: Putting the sideshow freaks and carnival barkers on the hot seat

April 27, 2011

No, it’s not particularly important, especially since we knew from so many other sources that Obama was, indeed, Honolulu born.

The White House pried the old birth certificate out of the records of the State of Hawaii, and released copies to the world today.

The White House video:

ABC Television’s report:

View a .pdf of the form here:  President Obama\’s original Hawaiian birth certificate

I predict Orly Taitz, Donald Trump, and all the other sideshow freaks and carnival barkers, will continue to bark away.  Remember, when P. T. Barnum made a copy of the hoax “Cardiff Giant,” people paid a premium to see the fake of the hoax.  P. T. Barnum’s ghost stalks and stomps on Republican and birther grounds now.

More:

_____________

Boy, looking at this, you gotta know that Obama planned this all out, as Morgan claimed in comments below — just so he could get this story from Juan Williams and Shepard Smith at Fox News:

Oh, For Goodness Sake posted that video, without any other comment, as “National Mirror Moment.”  Birthers, Palinistas and Republicans must be choking on their dinners from that report.  Has the Fox turned on ‘em?

Always a good site to expose the inanity and insanity of Obama’s critics, especially on the issues of Obama’s history, Oh, For Goodness Sake has a particular bead on the hypocrisy of those same critics:

How many times have you heard the promise: The president could end this today if he’d just release his long form birth certificate? So now they’ve got the f—ing long form birth certificate, is it done for the Birthers?

No. No. No. No. No. No. And Nope.

Bigots.  Probably no small amount of racism in there, too.  Plus, they’ve exposed themselves as genuinely opposed to America’s good health.  David Gardner and Milton Goldstein pegged it, even if we have to paraphrase them a bit:  Had a foreign government tried to do what the birthers are doing, we’d have considered it an act of war.  History is not kind to idlers, those who fail to call out injustice, nor idiots.


Pray that God will save Texas; it’s clear Rick Perry won’t

April 25, 2011

Texas doesn’t have a recall procedure for politicians in office.  If it did, would Texans have the guts to use it on Rick Perry?

You’ve probably seen it in the news:  Over the last ten days, Texas has been scorched by several large wildfires.  At least two firemen were killed.  Hundreds of homes and one state park burned away.  (See the Christian Science Monitor: “Texas wildfires:  Why this season is one of the worst in state history,” and “Can U.S. handle historic Texas wildfires?”)

Firefighters, mostly, come from small town, volunteer fire departments.  Most of the affected towns are too small to be able to afford a larger, professional fire-fighting department.

Gov. Rick Perry’s mathematical errors cost Texas $27 billion, a shortfall that Republicans propose to make up by cutting to the bone, and deeper, education programs, road building and maintenance, aid to the poor, and police and fire departments.

Yes, in the middle of one of the biggest fire disasters in Texas history, Rick Perry and the Texas Lege propose to cut the funding to the fire fighters.

If they don’t cut funding, they would have to roll back tax cuts to wealthy property owners granted six years ago, or dip into the states $9 billion “rainy day” fund.

Gov. Perry does have one other trick up his sleeve to help victims of the fires:  He’s asked Texans to pray for rain.  Fire departments need equipment, people and training, all of which cost money.  Gov. Perry asks for prayers instead.

Gov. Perry Issues Proclamation for Days of Prayer for Rain in Texas

Thursday, April 21, 2011  •  Austin, Texas  •  Proclamation

TO ALL TO WHOM THESE PRESENTS SHALL COME:

WHEREAS, the state of Texas is in the midst of an exceptional drought, with some parts of the state receiving no significant rainfall for almost three months, matching rainfall deficit records dating back to the 1930s; and

WHEREAS, a combination of higher than normal temperatures, low precipitation and low relative humidity has caused an extreme fire danger over most of the State, sparking more than 8,000 wildfires which have cost several lives, engulfed more than 1.8 million acres of land and destroyed almost 400 homes, causing me to issue an ongoing disaster declaration since December of last year; and

WHEREAS, these dire conditions have caused agricultural crops to fail, lake and reservoir levels to fall and cattle and livestock to struggle under intense stress, imposing a tremendous financial and emotional toll on our land and our people; and

WHEREAS, throughout our history, both as a state and as individuals, Texans have been strengthened, assured and lifted up through prayer; it seems right and fitting that the people of Texas should join together in prayer to humbly seek an end to this devastating drought and these dangerous wildfires;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, RICK PERRY, Governor of Texas, under the authority vested in me by the Constitution and Statutes of the State of Texas, do hereby proclaim the three-day period from Friday, April 22, 2011, to Sunday, April 24, 2011, as Days of Prayer for Rain in the State of Texas. I urge Texans of all faiths and traditions to offer prayers on that day for the healing of our land, the rebuilding of our communities and the restoration of our normal way of life.

IN TESTIMONY WHEREOF, I have hereunto signed my name and have officially caused the Seal of State to be affixed at my Office in the City of Austin, Texas, this the 21st day of April, 2011.

RICK PERRY
Governor of Texas

Perry’s call for prayer rightly earned ridicule.  Ed Brayton at Dispatches from the Culture Wars wondered about Jon Hagee and Pat Robertson weighing in, as they usually do, claiming big disasters to be the result of sinfulness in the local population.   P. Z. Myers at Pharyngula simply wonders about the effectiveness of a governor who does that.


Quote of the moment, and Rick Santorum: Langston Hughes, “Let America be America again”

April 25, 2011

Rick Santorum, CBS News image

Rick Santorum: Running with . . .

Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes

. . . political philosopher, and Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes?

News item: Rick Santorum is running for president. No, seriously — he is. In order to run, a candidate needs a catchy slogan.

Santorum’s campaign announced he is planning to use “Let America be America, again” as his slogan.

It’s a phrase borrowed from Langston Hughes.  One wonders if Rick Santorum reads any poetry, let alone someone from the Harlem Renaissance.

Did Santorum really intend to borrow from Hughes?  Does he think Hughes would approve?

O, let America be America again–
The land that never has been yet–
And yet must be–the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine–the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME–
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose–
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,
America!

Full text of the poem here, at the American Academy of Poets.

No, it appears Santorum did not wish to affiliate with Langston Hughes. One more reason to vote against Santorum, as if anyone needed more.  Santorum even admits not being much of a poetry fan.

How about this for a Santorum slogan:  “All santorum, no guts or brains.”

Tip of the old scrub brush to Ed Brayton at Dispatches from the Culture Wars.


Two years, three months since the disaster . . .

April 24, 2011

Remembering, because we shouldn’t forget.  It was just two years and three months ago.  Rebuilding will take a long time.


Scary idea: Obama is now the greatest tax cutter in history

April 24, 2011

Why is that scary?  Because cutting taxes as a policy to fix our ills, doesn’t work.

Politicususa explains:

According to the Orange County Register, “For the past two years, a family of four earning the median income has paid less in federal income taxes than at any time since at least 1955, according to the Tax Policy Center. All federal, state and local taxes combined are a lower percentage of per-capita income than at any time since the 1960s, according to the Tax Foundation. The highest income-tax bracket is its lowest since 1992. At 35 percent, it’s well below the 50 percent mark of much of the 1980s and the 70 percent bracket of the 1970s.”

The problem is that the tax cuts have not promoted economic growth and have caused the federal deficit to explode, “Those lower taxes have helped give the U.S. government the lowest revenues as a percentage of gross domestic product of seven industrialized countries surveyed in 2010 by the Congressional Research Services. (The other countries were Japan, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy and France.) The U.S. also had the lowest spending as a percentage of the GDP. But with the biggest gap between revenues (31.6 percent of GDP) and expenditures (42.2 percent of GDP), the U.S. also posted the largest deficit as a percentage of GDP – 10.5 percent.”

No conservative would dare give Obama credit.  Is Obama a noble enough leader to decline ownership of the tax cutting title?


Walt Kelly: “met the enemy, and he is us”

April 23, 2011

Walt Kelly's Pogo cartoon, from Earth Day 1971

Walt Kelly's Pogo daily cartoon strip, from Earth Day 1971

Walt Kelly’s little cartoon possum Pogo turned out to have been a sage observer, and adviser, for much of the 20th century.  This classic cartoon, on the second Earth Day, in 1971, well summarizes the problems of pollution, making historical allusion to that famous message from Master Commandant Oliver Hazard Perry after the Battle of Lake Erie in the War of 1812:  “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

It is a mark of what the internet lacks that I could find just one quick copy of this cartoon on my first search.  All of Kelly’s work should be available, but it’s largely missing from internet searches.  I’m sure this is still under copyright, but I haven’t yet found the information.

_____________

Oh, of course:  The line is too good to have been used just once.  Kelly used the idea for the quote in the forward to a book in the 1950s, and used it on a poster for the first Earth Day.  The famous comic strip followed in 1971.


Pareidolia? No, there’s no link between Earth Day and Lenin

April 23, 2011

This is mostly an encore post — sad that it needs repeating.

You could write it off to pareidolia, once.  Like faces in clouds, some people claimed to see a link.  The first Earth Day, on April 22, 1970, coincided with Lenin’s birthday.  There was no link — Earth Day was scheduled for a spring Wednesday.  Now, years later, with almost-annual repeats of the claim from the braying right wing, it’s just a cruel hoax.

No, there’s no link between Earth Day and the birthday of V. I. Lenin:

One surefire way to tell an Earth Day post is done by an Earth Day denialist: They’ll note that the first Earth Day, on April 22, 1970, was an anniversary of the birth of Lenin.

Coincidentally, yes, Lenin was born on April 22 (new style calendar; it was April 10 on the calendar when he was born — but that’s a digression for another day).

It’s a hoax. There is no meaning to the first Earth Day’s falling on Lenin’s birthday — Lenin was not prescient enough to plan his birthday to fall in the middle of Earth Week, a hundred years before Earth Week was even planned.

My guess is that only a few really wacko conservatives know that April 22 is Lenin’s birthday (was it ever celebrated in the Soviet Union?). No one else bothers to think about it, or say anything about it, nor especially, to celebrate it.

Gaylord Nelson, Living Green image

Inventor of Earth Day teach-ins, former Wisconsin Governor and U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson

Wisconsin’s U.S. Sen. Gaylord Nelson, usually recognized as the founder and father of Earth Day, told how and why the organizers came to pick April 22:

Senator Nelson chose the date in order to maximize participation on college campuses for what he conceived as an “environmental teach-in.” He determined the week of April 19–25 was the best bet; it did not fall during exams or spring breaks, did not conflict with religious holidays such as Easter or Passover, and was late enough in spring to have decent weather. More students were likely to be in class, and there would be less competition with other mid-week events—so he chose Wednesday, April 22.

In his own words, Nelson spoke of what he was trying to do:

After President Kennedy’s [conservation] tour, I still hoped for some idea that would thrust the environment into the political mainstream. Six years would pass before the idea that became Earth Day occurred to me while on a conservation speaking tour out West in the summer of 1969. At the time, anti-Vietnam War demonstrations, called “teach-ins,” had spread to college campuses all across the nation. Suddenly, the idea occurred to me – why not organize a huge grassroots protest over what was happening to our environment?

I was satisfied that if we could tap into the environmental concerns of the general public and infuse the student anti-war energy into the environmental cause, we could generate a demonstration that would force this issue onto the political agenda. It was a big gamble, but worth a try.

At a conference in Seattle in September 1969, I announced that in the spring of 1970 there would be a nationwide grassroots demonstration on behalf of the environment and invited everyone to participate. The wire services carried the story from coast to coast. The response was electric. It took off like gangbusters. Telegrams, letters, and telephone inquiries poured in from all across the country. The American people finally had a forum to express its concern about what was happening to the land, rivers, lakes, and air – and they did so with spectacular exuberance. For the next four months, two members of my Senate staff, Linda Billings and John Heritage, managed Earth Day affairs out of my Senate office.

Five months before Earth Day, on Sunday, November 30, 1969, The New York Times carried a lengthy article by Gladwin Hill reporting on the astonishing proliferation of environmental events:

“Rising concern about the environmental crisis is sweeping the nation’s campuses with an intensity that may be on its way to eclipsing student discontent over the war in Vietnam…a national day of observance of environmental problems…is being planned for next spring…when a nationwide environmental ‘teach-in’…coordinated from the office of Senator Gaylord Nelson is planned….”

Nelson, a veteran of the U.S. armed services (Okinawa campaign), flag-waving ex-governor of Wisconsin (Sen. Joe McCarthy’s home state, but also the home of Aldo Leopold and birthplace of John Muir), was working to raise America’s consciousness and conscience about environmental issues.

Lenin on the environment? Think of the Aral Sea disaster, the horrible pollution from Soviet mines and mills, and the dreadful record of the Soviet Union on protecting any resource. Lenin believed in exploiting resources, not conservation.

So, why are all these conservative denialists claiming, against history and politics, that Lenin’s birthday has anything to do with Earth Day?

Can you say “propaganda?”

Good information from 2011:

Good information from 2010:

Wall of Lenin’s Birthday Propaganda Shame from 2011:

Wall of Lenin’s Birthday Propaganda Shame from 2010:

Warn people not to be sucked in by the hoax:

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Monday is World Malaria Day; watch out for the pro-DDT hoaxes

April 23, 2011

A letter to the editor of the Cape Cod Times:

DDT unnecessary to fight malaria

April 23, 2011

Monday, April 25,is World Malaria Day. Across the globe, public health and malaria experts will be highlighting the urgent need to do more to tackle this preventable disease that kills more than 800,000 people (mostly in Africa) every year.

Here in the United States, a small group of advocates will, once again, use the day to call for widespread use of the pesticide DDT to control malaria. This despite broad, global agreement that widespread spraying of DDT inside people’s homes is not the best way to tackle malaria and can harm human health.

Those pressing for DDT’s widespread use are few, but they are loud and persistent. They are not public health experts, and they are all closely affiliated with right-wing think tanks. These calls to “bring back DDT” are a dangerous distraction from true malaria prevention.

Debbie West
Barnstable

Ms. West is right.


True story of how a woman won Texas’s independence

April 21, 2011

This is mostly an encore post, for the 175th anniversary of the Battle of San Jacinto.

After suffering crushing defeats in previous battles, and while many Texian rebels were running away from Santa Anna’s massive army — the largest and best trained in North America — Sam Houston’s ragtag band of rebels got the drop on Santa Anna at San Jacinto, on April 21, 1836. Most accounts say the routing of Santa Anna’s fighting machine took just 18 minutes.

San Jacinto Day is April 21. Texas history classes at Texas middle schools should be leading ceremonies marking the occasion — but probably won’t since it’s coming at the end of a week of federally-requested, state required testing.

Surrender of Santa Anna, Texas State Preservation Board Surrender of Santa Anna, painting by William Henry Huddle (1890); property of Texas State Preservation Board. The painting depicts Santa Anna being brought before a wounded Sam Houston, to surrender.

How could Houston’s group have been so effective against a general who modeled himself after Napolean, with a large, well-running army? In the 1950s a story came out that Santa Anna was distracted from battle. Even as he aged he regarded himself as a great ladies’ man — and it was a woman who detained the Mexican general in his tent, until it was too late to do anything but steal an enlisted man’s uniform and run.San Jacinto Monument brochure, with photo of monument

That woman was mulatto, a “yellow rose,” and about whom the song, “The Yellow Rose of Texas” was written, according story pieced together in the 1950s.

Could such a story be true? Many historians in the 1950s scoffed at the idea. (More below the fold.) Read the rest of this entry »


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