Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Great American Songbook

Dick Robinson, originator of American Standards By The Sea, has announced the founding of The  Society for the Preservation of the Great American Songbook (GAS).
The official worldwide launch  of this Internet radio station will take place at midnight January 1, 2011.  A beta version is available now at the website 

The mission of the Society is to preserve and perpetuate the music, character and history of the Great American Songbook featuring artists like George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, Johnny Mercer, Frank Sinatra, Vic Damone, Jack Jones, Tony Bennett, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and Hoagy Carmichael.
In three days listeners will enjoy non-stop hit songs around-the-clock and around-the-world 
From the few hours I have spent listening on line, I can report that famous singers do not sing all of the songs;  some are performed by lesser known talents (to me, at least) who deserve a wider audience.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas, Bedford Falls!

Just a minute — just a minute. Now, hold on, Mr. Potter. You’re right when you say my father was no business man. I know that. Why he ever started this cheap, penny-ante Building and Loan, I’ll never know. But neither you nor anybody else can say anything against his character, because his whole life was…Why, in the twenty-five years since he and Uncle Billy started this thing, he never once thought of himself. Isn’t that right, Uncle Billy? He didn’t save enough money to send Harryto school, let alone me. But he did help a few people get out of your slums, Mr. Potter. And what’s wrong with that? Why…Here, you’re all businessmen here. Doesn’t it make them better citizens? Doesn’t it make them better customers? You…you said…What’d you say just a minute ago?…They had to wait and save their money before they even ought to think of a decent home. Wait! Wait for what? Until their children grow up and leave them? Until they’re so old and broken-down that they…Do you know how long it takes a working man to save five thousand dollars? Just remember this, Mr. Potter, that this rabble you’re talking about…they do most of the working and paying and living and dying in this community. Well, is it too much to have them work and pay and live and die in a couple of decent rooms and a bath? Anyway, my father didn’t think so. People were human beings to him, but to you, a warped frustrated old man, they’re cattle. Well, in my book he died a much richer man than you’ll ever be!

Timeless, isn't it?  As relevant then as now.


Monday, December 13, 2010

7000 Chemicals

Several days ago, the Surgeon General's office issued a report which stated that one cigarette can damage a person's DNA.  The report went on to say that one whiff of secondhand smoke can be enough to trigger a heart attack.
The primary cause for these results is due to 7000 chemicals and compounds to be found in each cigarette.  70 of these chemicals and compounds are known to cause cancer while the remainder are toxic.
The two preceding paragraphs have me perplexed.  Where to begin?
Shouldn't there be some perspective on the probability of  suffering damage to one's DNA from smoking one cigarette?  Ditto for the chances of the one whiff scare?  Is this a failure to be more explicit the fault of the Surgeon General's office or is it the failure of journalism to fully report on the findings? 
7000 chemicals and compounds in one cigarette?  Who knew? Wouldn't this make a  carton of cigarettes a candidate for an EPA superfund cleanup?  Do you know of any other object or place that has that many toxic chemicals and compounds in it?
Another question.  How many of those chemicals and compounds were put in the tobacco by God and how many by man?
If the cancer causing agents are put in tobacco by the manufacturer of cigarettes, is this legal?  If it is legal, should it be?
Is this what is meant by "Better living through chemistry"?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Sample of revelations from Wikileaks documents.

Here is a summary of some leaked documents from the New York Times after they were redacted by same.  I was most interested in the statements on private contractors, a new element in American strategy that I complained about earlier.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

On Class Distinctions

I have noticed that people who reject class differences in the political sphere are able to find them everywhere else, especially in the worlds of 'taste' and 'culture'. 

Thoughts On Wikileaks and Assange

My first reaction to the 'dumping' of secrets was negative.  I value my position as a tenth generation American with strong ties to and love for this nation.  (It is important to note that I said 'nation', not government.)
My eighth birthday was three weeks after Pearl Harbor so I lived impressionable years absorbing the struggles of World War II.  Slogans like 'Loose lips sink ships' were serious lessons learned.
I have a conservative personality.   As a teenager, one of my fictional heros was the title character of an historical novel by Kenneth Roberts:  Captain Caution.  Now that's not every American boy's cup of joe, is it?
No, I don't take such transgressions (dumping secrets) lightly.  However, recently I have been retracing the political history of American conservatism  in the years following World War II.  Such an enterprise always entails a number of interesting digressions when one reads a footnote here or encounters an obscure or little-known (for me) author there.
This reading shows a growing pattern of government secrecy, government overreach of power, and the beginnings of betrayal of what I consider the basic American value: liberty, or if you prefer, freedom.
From my point of view, the last sixteen years have left me feeling like a stranger in my own country.
We sanction countries resulting in the death of children.  We try to be the policeman of the world.  Over 4400 Americans have been killed in Iraq.   More than were killed in the World Trade Center.  Who is responsible for that?
Suddenly the government is the injured party.  I don't buy it.  Dump is a good word for what Wikileaks has done.  The government has been given a long overdue enema.
I like Ron Paul's assessment:  "In a society where truth becomes treason, we're in big trouble."