Saturday, October 30, 2010

Confusing defense with social work

Not wanting to stir up trouble, but, in spite of my overabundance of patriotism, it occurs to me that there is a big difference between defending one's country and giving one's life trying to make a temporary slight difference in a few Afghani women's lives.

It is also pretty expensive. Seems cheaper to just relentlessly bomb the folk in Pakistan who attacked us 10 years ago. A little late, perhaps, but who knows.

Our election is Tuesday and it strikes me as odd that there are more female members in the Afghani Parliament than we have in the U.S. Senate. Just an observation; perhaps a little more attention should be paid to the home front women.

I suppose this is a political opinion, so I apologize.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Of Phrygian caps and nostalgia for real money

The "Mercury Dime" was, I think, one of the most beautiful coins the U.S. has ever produced.

For one thing, it still had intrinsic value, being made of .90 silver. For another thing, it was a work of art. I still have a few in my boyhood coin collection, stored away somewhere.

It is pretty enough that some think it is a Saint-Gaudens, but, in reality it is the work of Adolf Weinman, another American sculptor of considerable renown. Weinman also produced the most beautiful U.S. silver coin of all, in my opinion - "Walking Liberty" - which appeared on half-dollars 1916-1947. (If you clicked on the link and are confused at the date of issue on the illustration, you should know that the U.S. Mint still produces many of these coins annually for bullion-traders, not for circulation.)

The most beautiful U.S. coin of all time, gold OR silver? The Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle, bar none. The Double Eagle is a gold coin with a face value of $20. A $50 face-value version (1 oz.) is also minted for bullion-trading purposes now. Of course, face-value means nothing nowadays, since you would hardly take one of these coins out shopping. The gold spot price for one ounce on 28 October 2010 was $1,388. Incidentally, a 1933 Double Eagle is also the most valuable coin in the world today, one at auction in 2008 fetching just under eight million dollars.

But back to the "Mercury Dime."

Everyone calls it a Mercury Dime because everyone, myself included, has always assumed the face on the obverse of the coin is that of the Roman messenger-god Mercury. Those pesky winged helmets again. But au contrare - further research leads to the discovery that it is really the image of the mythological goddess of liberty, and is properly called "Winged Liberty."

This (of COURSE) brings us to the subject of Phrygian caps. It's not a helmet at all, by gosh, and you can plainly see that it is not a helmet if you study the image of the same lady, Walking Liberty, on the above linked half-dollar. No, sir, it's a cap. A Phrygian cap. Phrygia being the central part of Anatolia, which is itself the western two-thirds of the Asian part of Turkey.

But you knew that. Or, at least, I'm sure Soubriquet did. Soubriquet knows all.

Suddenly I've run out of things to say about the Mercury Dime. ::Scratches head and slowly walks away::

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

To a friend

Sometimes bad things happen to us through no fault of our own.

Sometimes children are taken advantage of by people they trust, people who should be protecting them instead of hurting them.

Later in life, the hurt never having left, the sense of outrage sometimes builds to a desire to avenge the outrage.

In times like that, we can only go off by ourself and come to terms with the damage. Will we allow the betrayal to affect us forever? Or will we resolve not to give it continuing power in our lives?

In such times, the only right thing to do is that which will bring us the most peace, regardless of what others close to us urge us to do.

Sometimes the only true justice to be had is in letting go and moving forward.

The farther forward you move, the farther behind you will leave the hurt.

Try to take control. Keep your own counsel and stand by the decision that you know is best for your own well-being. Remember that many people care for you and wish you well.

"Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it."

—Helen Keller

Thursday, October 21, 2010

An instruction manual too far

I'm all for instruction manuals. I like efficiency. But sometimes manual writers can take it a little too far. As an example, here is the essence of an instruction manual I found online.

  1. 1
    Begin by finding someone in the audience that can clap. Define the rhythm (cadence) of the applause around you. A good way to determine this is to find a person with rhythm, and use the counting method. To use the counting method count out numbers each time the clapper's hands connect. Watch this clapper closely.

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  2. 2
    Start off slow. Continue to watch the clapper closely. Now that you have determined the clapping cadence try one or two. With a few successes you'll gain the necessary confidence needed for full blown clapping.
  3. 3
    Get some confidence under your belt and stop watching your clapper-mentor. Make sure the audience around you is still clapping.
  4. 4
    Concentrate. Using the same counted out cadence, bring your hands together with each number counted. Listen carefully. as those around you start to slow down as that will be your cue that you can stop. Advanced clapping will cover speeding-up, slowing-down, clapping while standing, clapping to a different drummer, and clapping while dancing.

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    I'm not sure what the top Google adwords are about, but the bottom one is apparently customized for me since Steve Pearce is a corrupt congressman from my state who is now running for reelection. So Google zeroed in on my IP address, apparently.
    Either that or Google thinks Steve Pearce has the clap.

Speaking of claps...
Disclaimer: Please don't confuse this guy with the dead gay porn actor Steve Pierce. Spelled differently.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Odds and Ends. Mostly odds.

When traveling in the U.S., there are many out of the way, sometimes odd, attractions that are sometimes worth the trip off the beaten path. Sometimes not. I remember in the movie "Michael" he insisted on detouring so he could see "The World's Biggest Ball of String" somewhere in Iowa. The world largest skillet was in Indiana, wasn't it? I guess not - they were on their way to Chicago. Somewhere, though. Here's some more odds and ends I have visited or have heard of. If you don't live in the U.S., some of these may not be worth the airline ticket to get here.


"The Southwest Arkansas Toothbrush Museum"

This one is in the town of Hope, or close by. This one is a joke, of course, since there aren't any toothbrushes in SW Arkansas. Apparently there was ONE tourist who left one in the motel when he left. That's the one that is in the museum. Odd, that two presidential candidates have come from Hope, Arkansas, in the past few years and both of them were governors of Arkansas before they ran for President. One of them actually made it, but his wife ran the country while he sat in his office and smoked big cigars.

"Museum of Camouflage"

Once, while driving through the wilds of southern Missouri, not really as far from Hope as you might have imagined, I stopped off at Fort Leonard Wood specifically to see the U.S. Army's famous Museum of Camouflage. The building proved too hard to find, though, so I finally just left, my curiosity unsatisfied. It wasn't THAT much of a disappointment since I have seen camouflage before. I think.
Honorable mentions:

Also in southern Missouri (I think) is the "National Chainsaw Hall of Fame Museum and Pigsnort Indian War Memorial." A twofer.

We don't have Route 66 going through there (officially) anymore, so you won't find that many snake pits or large balls of string anymore. However, if you are willing to travel a few miles off I-44 near Joplin, I once stopped at a flea market there where there was this guy in a white flannel suit who, for $15, would let you spit on him. No museum, though.


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