And the rocket’s red glare, noxious farts everywhere …

Happy Independence Day, my fellow Americans!  This American birthday is always as good a time as any to remember the figures who made American so great that exhorting my fellow citizens to “Make America Great Again” is redundant. I suppose if we were to make America great again such a start would be to send our present president packing.

Some of our forefathers were perhaps as reprehensible as our 45th. But some were incredibly bright and innovative. For instance, Benjamin Franklin is credited with organizing the first fire department, bifocals, the Franklin stove among other accomplishments.

Franklin was known for his wicked wit, as well. During his time as U.S. Ambassador to France, Franklin penned an essay known as “Farting Proudly.” The essay was a satiric piece in response to a call for scientific papers by the Royal Academy of Brussels that Franklin found as pretentious and mostly useless. Here is some July 4th humor by one of America’s best. Note: A passage in French was translated using Google. I cannot guarantee complete accuracy. Also, Franklin never submitted the essay.

A windy essay by Amb. Franklin.

The Royal Academy of Farting *****

Benjamin Franklin

To The Royal Academy of Brussels, 1781

GENTLEMEN,

I have perused your late mathematical Prize Question, proposed in lieu of one in Natural Philosophy, for the ensuing year, viz. , that you esteem Utility an essential Point in your Enquiries, which has not always been the case with all Academies; and I conclude therefore that you have given this Question instead of a philosophical, or as the Learned express it, a physical one, “Any given figure, one asks to register there as many times as possible another smaller figure, which is also given”. I was glad to find these words, “The Academy has judged that this discovery, by extending the limits of our knowledge, would not be without utility.” Translated from French (Google Translation.)  that you esteem Utility an essential Point in your Enquiries, which has not always been the case with all Academies; and I conclude therefore that you have given this Question instead of a philosophical, or as the Learned express it, a physical one, because you could not at the time think of a physical one that promis’d greater Utility.

Permit me then humbly to propose one of that sort for your consideration, and through you, if you approve it, for the serious Enquiry of learned Physicians, Chemists, &c. of this enlightened Age.

It is universally well known, That in digesting our common Food, there is created or produced in the Bowels of human Creatures, a great Quantity of Wind.

That the permitting this Air to escape and mix with the Atmosphere, is usually offensive to the Company, from the fetid Smell that accompanies it.

That all well-bred People therefore, to avoid giving such Offence, forcibly restrain the Efforts of Nature to discharge that Wind.

That so retain’d contrary to Nature, it not only gives frequently great present Pain, but occasions future Diseases, such as habitual Cholics, Ruptures, Tympanies, &c. often destructive of the Constitution, & sometimes of Life itself.

Were it not for the odiously offensive Smell accompanying such Escapes, polite People would probably be under no more Restraint in discharging such Wind in Company, than they are in spitting, or in blowing their Noses.

My Prize Question therefore should be, To discover some Drug wholesome & not disagreable, to be mix’d with our common Food, or Sauces, that shall render the natural Discharges of Wind from our Bodies, not only inoffensive, but agreable as Perfumes.

That this is not a chimerical Project, and altogether impossible, may appear from these Considerations. That we already have some Knowledge of Means capable of Varying that Smell. He that dines on stale Flesh, especially with much Addition of Onions, shall be able to afford a Stink that no Company can tolerate; while he that has lived for some Time on Vegetables only, shall have that Breath so pure as to be insensible to the most delicate Noses; and if he can manage so as to avoid the Report, he may anywhere give Vent to his Griefs, unnoticed. But as there are many to whom an entire Vegetable Diet would be inconvenient, and as a little Quick-Lime thrown into a Jakes will correct the amazing Quantity of fetid Air arising from the vast Mass of putrid Matter contain’d in such Places, and render it rather pleasing to the Smell, who knows but that a little Powder of Lime (or some other thing equivalent) taken in our Food, or perhaps a Glass of Limewater drank at Dinner, may have the same Effect on the Air produc’d in and issuing from our Bowels? This is worth the Experiment. Certain it is also that we have the Power of changing by slight Means the Smell of another Discharge, that of our Water. A few Stems of Asparagus eaten, shall give our Urine a disagreable Odour; and a Pill of Turpentine no bigger than a Pea, shall bestow on it the pleasing Smell of Violets. And why should it be thought more impossible in Nature, to find Means of making a Perfume of our Wind than of our Water?

For the Encouragement of this Enquiry, (from the immortal Honour to be reasonably expected by the Inventor) let it be considered of how small Importance to Mankind, or to how small a Part of Mankind have been useful those Discoveries in Science that have heretofore made Philosophers famous. Are there twenty Men in Europe at this Day, the happier, or even the easier, for any Knowledge they have pick’d out of Aristotle? What Comfort can the Vortices of Descartes give to a Man who has Whirlwinds in his Bowels! The Knowledge of Newton’s mutual Attractionof the Particles of Matter, can it afford Ease to him who is rack’d by their mutual Repulsion, and the cruel Distensions it occasions? The Pleasure arising to a few Philosophers, from seeing, a few Times in their Life, the Threads of Light untwisted, and separated by the Newtonian Prism into seven Colours, can it be compared with the Ease and Comfort every Man living might feel seven times a Day, by discharging freely the Wind from his Bowels? Especially if it be converted into a Perfume: For the Pleasures of one Sense being little inferior to those of another, instead of pleasing the Sight he might delight the Smell of those about him, & make Numbers happy, which to a benevolent Mind must afford infinite Satisfaction. The generous Soul, who now endeavours to find out whether the Friends he entertains like best Claret or Burgundy, Champagne or Madeira, would then enquire also whether they chose Musk or Lilly, Rose or Bergamot, and provide accordingly. And surely such a Liberty of Expressing one’s Scent-iments, and pleasing one another, is of infinitely more Importance to human Happiness than that Liberty of the Press, or of abusing one another, which the English are so ready to fight & die for. — In short, this Invention, if compleated, would be, as Bacon expresses it, bringing Philosophy home to Mens Business and Bosoms. And I cannot but conclude, that in Comparison therewith, for universal and continual UTILITY, the Science of the Philosophers above-mentioned, even with the Addition, Gentlemen, of your “Figure quelconque”and the Figures inscrib’d in it, are, all together, scarcely worth a

FART-HING.

 

GOP candidate and Putin sitting in a tree. K-I-S-S-I-N-G …

Well, the GOP presidential candidate managed to draw the ire of one of the most editorially conservative newspapers in the United States. The day after its editorial dissed the GOP-candidate, The Dallas Morning News, today, endorsed Hillary Clinton for president. This is the first time in 75 years that the News endorsed a Democrat.

The Republican candidate also flip-flopped on some outrageous utterings he made back during the primary elections. He said today that, upon entering office, he will give the Joint Chiefs of Staff 30 days to come up with a plan to defeat ISIS. As one TV general said this morning: “That is what (the generals) have been doing for the last eight years.”

Anyone following the Republican presidential campaign might remember the candidate saying “I know more about ISIS than the generals do.”

Another mouth-shooting-off memory of this candidate is when he said that he had a plan to defeat ISIS, although it was secret, as he wants to keep the enemy guessing.

The candidate, whom I refuse to name due to his previous media over-exposure, also threw out the traditional Republican red meat. He wants to increase the military, build more ships, and more fighter planes. In other words, he wants to toss more money to the military-industrial complex that President and former 5-star general Dwight D. Eisenhower warned the nation of before leaving the presidency.

That candidate may have sounded “more presidential” during much of his bullshit speech this morning. He still used words to insult Clinton and President Obama.

In looking into the defense industry pandering today, the candidate tosses aside the reality of modern warfare, nasty as it is.

Look throughout history. Once a war is done and won (that not always being the case) a military establishment shrinks. That is the nature of wars and the economy.

People who weren’t born before WWII and do not study history, are doomed to repeat it. But those who don’t study history should do so. There are those who think the nation was just asleep at the switch in 1941 Pearl Harbor. But, as was the case leading up to the previous “war to end all wars,” the U.S. was about the last nation to get involved.

My parents and other elders talked of the great 1940 Army Maneuvers, a.k.a. the “Louisiana Maneuvers,” held in western Louisiana and across the border in the East Texas Pineywoods. Stories abound of George Patton, Omar Bradley and even Eisenhower — setting up commands in the local towns. About 400,000 soldiers participated and some two dozen soldiers died in the exercise, most from drowning in the Sabine River between Texas and Louisiana.

Look, even my four years of Navy active duty will attest to the fact that the military never stops preparing for war. The U.S. military has reserve and National Guard troops who have all been involved in our perpetual war in Afghanistan and Iraq. It is difficult to see these days where the active service members begin and the reserve and Guard, end.

The GOP candidate is a military faker and he thinks his private military school is similar to military service. Real military service was not even a thought with his deferments during Vietnam. None of his offspring, despite their love of guns, served in the military.

Today there was news of a Russian fighter jet making what was described by U.S. defense officials as an “unsafe and unprofessional” intercept of a U.S. Navy anti-submarine warfare plane. This is nothing new. Such games have been played since we were in the “Cold War.” I even remember our destroyer being tailed by a Soviet freighter while we headed to Subic Bay, only for our ship to turn around and follow the USSR ship for awhile.

The problem is that today, these ships and planes are a whole lot faster and powerful. One of these days a Russian plane or an Iranian patrol boat or North Korean, whatever, will screw with the wrong ship or plane on the wrong day. Someone needs to be steady at the ship of state to ensure such things do not happen. Also,  that the GOP candidate seems to continually play up his bro-mance with Russian President Vladimir Putin is concerning. If something makes us uncomfortable about the GOP candidate, it should be this relationship with Putin.

Perhaps the candidate has in his IRS return that he refuses to release some actual financial link with Putin. But who knows, the GOP candidate is the first since Richard Nixon to not release his tax returns..

PT Barnum bested by Trump: Uses vets for a prop

Here is a mark of honor: Donald Trump has surpassed P.T. Barnum as the all-time American huckster. His sleight of hand was masterful in capturing major media attention Thursday evening after declaring he would not participate in a Fox News debate for Republican presidential candidates.

To his dishonor, Trump used his Iowa sideshow to his political advantage by cooking up a telethon for veterans causes, although there are vets who say the event was a con. Trump said he raised almost $7 million which will be distributed among a number of veterans organizations. Several of these groups I recognize but others I don’t — not to say anything is amiss with these organizations.

As a veteran, I have and still do champion veterans and legitimate vet organizations. But I am not alone in feeling that his stunt did little more than use veterans as a prop.

While there are only early ratings numbers — and the first primary vote has yet to be cast for the November General Election — but Trump is a shoo-in to surpass the long-gone Barnum as the All-Time World Champion con man.

Phineas Taylor (P.T.) Barnum was a celebrated 19th century showman who founded the Barnum and Bailey Circus. He was likewise known for sideshows with “freaks” and coining the phrase “There’s a sucker born every minute.” Like Trump, Barnum also dabbled in politics as a Connecticut legislator and mayor of Bridgeport, Conn.

P.T. Barnum, king of the hucksters until now. The King is Trumped. Wikipedia Commons photo.
P.T. Barnum, king of the hucksters until now. The King is Trumped. Wikipedia Commons photo.

Also like Trump, Barnum was a human contradiction. PT vigorously denounced slavery although he was the founding father of the black-face minstrel show. And although he used that form of entertainment for financial gain, the shows were often satire of the white men who felt superior to blacks.

Barnum also sponsored legislation that had a long-lasting effect, with that law’s judicial abolition leading to the “Sexual Revolution.”

The Connecticut General Assembly passed the law Barnum sponsored in 1879 which led to the ban on means of preventing conception. That state’s laws were among the most severe anti-birth control measures. It was only in 1965 in Griswold v. Connecticut that the law was overturned. Even beyond a change in the nature of American sexuality, the case also concluded that certain articles of the Constitutional Amendments established the right to privacy.

Trump might have been an equal, or perhaps a better, than Barnum had The Donald lived in the 19th century. Of course, Trump came up in a time — aided by his financial gain by birth — when media is faster and more (world)widespread. Were Trump just another of Sam Walton’s rich offspring his effect on society might be barely noticed. That might be true to a lesser degree even if Trump was a Bill Gates or Warren Buffett.

But Donald J. Trump is The Donald. He’s had his ups and downs but at least says he is the one on top. He created big worlds and married world-class beauties. And to top it off, he became a TV star in his “reality” series, “The Apprentice.”

Will Trump become president is the multi-billion-dollar question. Early on after his initial announcement, I thought “no way.” I still feel that way but the older I get the more the “way” out weighs the “no way.”

I think if people who support Trump realizes how he would walk over his mother to get his way — though he might shed a tear doing it– perhaps they would understand how similar PT and The Donald were.

Donald Trump isn’t the first presidential candidate, nor if elected, president, to use the military and veterans as props. It is certainly beyond distasteful to me as well as other veterans. But hey, it’s “The Greatest Show on Earth.”

The Reb flag is down. We’re back to Step 1 with a mass murder.

The Confederate Battle Flag was taken from its pole today on the grounds of the South Carolina capitol in Columbia, S.C. It should have left a long time ago. It is likely it should have not been there at all. I think that flag has no real use except in museums, history books and movies about the Civil War. To me the battle flag is akin to the Jolly Roger flag that once indicated piracy on ships in the 18th century.

Those symbols might have been fun for us redneck kids of the mid 20th century in East Texas — a place that has always been more Old South than cowboy country. But the CSA battle flag symbolizes an open-ended hostility toward the United States and the black folks whose lives were captured in Africa and sold to American folks who believed they needed slaves to make them rich or richer.

As someone who has given more than 10 years to the United States military and government, I have become appalled with those who have shallow dreams of another Texas secession. I speak of people like our former Gov. Good Hair. Yes, I know Rick Perry was an Air Force pilot who flew C-130s. Good for him. While I appreciate his service, it doesn’t necessarily mean he is a patriot or particularly blessed with useful gray matter. For heaven’s sake, he thought Texas had the right to secede. It doesn’t.

My feelings on the battle flag has evolved over the years. It wasn’t the flag of the confederacy.

Although I think removing the flag in South Carolina is a positive development it should make us think more about our other symbols. I see today that just after the battle flag was removed in South Carolina, the FBI director admitted that a screw up in the background checks for weapons allowed the alleged killer of nine in S.C. to buy a gun. This shooting that killed so many in the Carolina church led to the outrage over the Confederate flag.

And so, here we are back at the beginning. Where nine people died needlessly. I mean, are we just ignoring the fact that nine people were murdered in a church, hoping the problem will go away?

Will it end in Houston or Dallas or any other Texas city when the state of Texas allows licensed handgun owners to openly carry their pistols next year? Are will this be the Old West once more, with people putting notches on their belts? Jeez, it is time for our people in the US of A to WTFU (Wake The F*** Up!)

 

Memorial Day: History of the Day

It was nice to have two hours admin leave today. It starts off a three-day weekend. No work for three days is something I can do. I checked out a couple of books from the library a few days ago. One is a Steve Martini legal thriller I have  not read. Another book is a non-fiction story about a shadow FBI that then FBI director J. Edgar Hoover had. It sounds interesting and I look forward to the read.

I thought to kick off the weekend I would give a history of Memorial Day. It is from the Department of Veterans Affairs. You could read the Web page, but instead you can read it here. When some one gives a reason why there is a Memorial Day, you can tell them something true instead of “Oh, it’s for the start of Summer.” Informally, such may be the reason. But the real reason is below. Have a good and safe holiday.

Memorial Day History

Three years after the Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868, the head of an organization of Union veterans — the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) — established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. Maj. Gen. John A. Logan declared that Decoration Day should be observed on May 30. It is believed that date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country.

The first large observance was held that year at Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.

The ceremonies centered around the mourning-draped veranda of the Arlington mansion, once the home of Gen. Robert E. Lee. Various Washington officials, including Gen. and Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant, presided over the ceremonies. After speeches, children from the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Orphan Home and members of the GAR made their way through the cemetery, strewing flowers on both Union and Confederate graves, reciting prayers and singing hymns.

Local Observances Claim To Be First Local springtime tributes to the Civil War dead already had been held in various places. One of the first occurred in Columbus, Miss., April 25, 1866, when a group of women visited a cemetery to decorate the graves of Confederate soldiers who had fallen in battle at Shiloh. Nearby were the graves of Union soldiers, neglected because they were the enemy. Disturbed at the sight of the bare graves, the women placed some of their flowers on those graves, as well.

Today, cities in the North and the South claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day in 1866. Both Macon and Columbus, Ga., claim the title, as well as Richmond, Va. The village of Boalsburg, Pa., claims it began there two years earlier. A stone in a Carbondale, Ill., cemetery carries the statement that the first Decoration Day ceremony took place there on April 29, 1866. Carbondale was the wartime home of Gen. Logan. Approximately 25 places have been named in connection with the origin of Memorial Day, many of them in the South where most of the war dead were buried.

Official Birthplace Declared In 1966, Congress and President Lyndon Johnson declared Waterloo, N.Y., the “birthplace” of Memorial Day. There, a ceremony on May 5, 1866, honored local veterans who had fought in the Civil War. Businesses closed and residents flew flags at half-staff. Supporters of Waterloo’s claim say earlier observances in other places were either informal, not community-wide or one-time events.

By the end of the 19th century, Memorial Day ceremonies were being held on May 30 throughout the nation. State legislatures passed proclamations designating the day, and the Army and Navy adopted regulations for proper observance at their facilities.

It was not until after World War I, however, that the day was expanded to honor those who have died in all American wars. In 1971, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday by an act of Congress, though it is still often called Decoration Day. It was then also placed on the last Monday in May, as were some other federal holidays.

Some States Have Confederate Observances Many Southern states also have their own days for honoring the Confederate dead. Mississippi celebrates Confederate Memorial Day on the last Monday of April, Alabama on the fourth Monday of April, and Georgia on April 26. North and South Carolina observe it on May 10, Louisiana on June 3 and Tennessee calls that date Confederate Decoration Day. Texas celebrates Confederate Heroes Day January 19 and Virginia calls the last Monday in May Confederate Memorial Day.

Gen. Logan’s order for his posts to decorate graves in 1868 “with the choicest flowers of springtime” urged: “We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. … Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.”

The crowd attending the first Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery was approximately the same size as those that attend today’s observance, about 5,000 people. Then, as now, small American flags were placed on each grave — a tradition followed at many national cemeteries today. In recent years, the custom has grown in many families to decorate the graves of all departed loved ones.

The origins of special services to honor those who die in war can be found in antiquity. The Athenian leader Pericles offered a tribute to the fallen heroes of the Peloponnesian War over 24 centuries ago that could be applied today to the 1.1 million Americans who have died in the nation’s wars: “Not only are they commemorated by columns and inscriptions, but there dwells also an unwritten memorial of them, graven not on stone but in the hearts of men.”

To ensure the sacrifices of America ’s fallen heroes are never forgotten, in December 2000, the U.S. Congress passed and the president signed into law “The National Moment of Remembrance Act,” P.L. 106-579, creating the White House Commission on the National Moment of Remembrance. The commission’s charter is to “encourage the people of the United States to give something back to their country, which provides them so much freedom and opportunity” by encouraging and coordinating commemorations in the United States of Memorial Day and the National Moment of Remembrance.

The National Moment of Remembrance encourages all Americans to pause wherever they are at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation. As Moment of Remembrance founder Carmella LaSpada states: “It’s a way we can all help put the memorial back in Memorial Day.”