Saturday, July 31, 2010

Picture of the Day

A great photograph of Bill and Hillary, parents of the bride, on the day before Chelsea's wedding. They look wonderful and very happy. They are probably the most recognizable couple in the world, next the Barack and Michele. They are certainly one of the most, if not THE most, effective and accomplished couples of our lifetime.

Paintings of the Day

Top: Longfellow Bridge, Boston Mass. - Artist Unknown
Bottom: Monet Beach at Sainte-Adresse - Claude Monet

Friday, July 30, 2010

Hong Kong Harbor and The Exploding Economy of China

I am struck by these gorgeous shots of Hong Kong Harbor. To consider China's exponential growth over the past 30 years is daunting. Going forward, China's potential on the world scene is awesome.

Thomas Freidman: "A simple rule of investing: never short a country with $2. trillion in foreign currency reserves. Ten years ago China had a lot of bridges and roads to nowhere. Well, many of them are now connected. China is also on a crash program of building subways in major cities and high speed trains to interconnect them. China now has 400 million Internet users and 200 million on broadband. America has 80 million broadband users. Now take all this infrastructure and mix in together with 27 million students in technical colleges and universities - the most in the world. Equally important, more and more Chinese students educated abroad are returning home to start and work new businesses."

China is the world's fastest growing economy, growing at a pace of 10% a year for the past 30 years. It is the second largest economy in the world next to the U. S., worth $8.77 trillion in purchasing power parity. China's gross domestic product stands at $3.4 trillion, making it the world's third largest economy as measured by GDP.

Though certainly not without it's own set of problems and challenges, China's influence in the world is now enormous. In addition to it's beautiful harbor, hopefully this waking giant of a nation is getting America's undivided attention.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

How to Spot a Republican

A woman in a hot air balloon realized she was lost. She lowered her altitude and spotted a man in a boat. She shouted to him, "excuse me can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him for lunch an hour ago, but I don't know where I am."

The man consulted his portable GPS device and replied,"you are in a hot air balloon, approximately 30 feet above ground elevation of 2,346 feet above sea level. You are at 31 degrees, 14.92 minutes north latitude and 100 degrees, 49.09 minutes north longitude.

She rolled her eyes and said, "you must be an Obama Democrat."

"I am", replied the man, "how did you know?"

"Well", answered the balloonist, "everything you told me is technically correct. But I have no idea what to do with your information, and I'm still lost. Frankly, you're not much help to me.

The man smiled and responded, "You must be a Republican."

"I am", replied the balloonist. "How did you know?"

"Well", said the man, "you don't know where you are or where you are going. You've risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise you have no idea how to keep, and you expect me to solve your problem. You're in exactly the same position you were in before we met, and now somehow, it is my fault." ;)

(From friend Richard Johnson)

Picture of the Day

God Bless her!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Famous New York Saloonkeeper Toots Shor

Toots Shor was certainly one of America's most famous saloonkeepers of the 20th century. His place was located at 51 West 51st Street in New York City, and operated, at its peak, in the 1940s and 1950s.

The place is the subject of many legendary stories and is often cited in biographies of famous New Yorkers. The place was frequented by Joe DiMaggio, Jackie Gleason, Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Orson Welles, Mickey Mantle, Frank Gifford, Edward Bennett Williams, on and on. Yogi Berri, after being introduced at the bar to Ernest Hemingway one evening, famously ask him,"who do you play for, Ernest"?

Somewhat notoriously, wives were not welcomed in Toot's saloon. Baseball players were especially welcomed, along with actors, writers, and politicians. Then-Chief Justice Earl Warren considered Toots one of his closest friends. It was said Toots cultivated his celebrity following by giving them unqualified admiration, loyal friendship, and a kind of happy, boozy, old-fashioned male privacy. It was, of course, suits and ties only in Toot's place in those days.

The above video clip gives a wonderful "flavor" for the bar. Can you imagine going back in time and spending a few hours there? The place was very crowded and very popular at its peak. Once Charlie Chaplin was made to wait 30 minutes in line, and it's said that Toots, with drink in hand, went out and told Mr. Chaplin to entertain the others in line while he waited.

In 1971, the place was padlocked for non-payment of federal, state, and local taxes. Toots opened in another location, but for a variety of reasons, his famous clientele never regularly returned. Toots died indigent in 1977. Toots always said he didn't care if he was long as he could live like one. A character of our time....Toots Shor.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Louis Armstrong.....At His Best

Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong, 1901-1971......classic, revered American jazz trumpeter and singer from New Orleans, Louisana. Where else?!

The Kennedy Family - 1938

I enjoy old photographs. This is a good one of the Kennedy family in 1938......a family some would refer to as America's First Family of the Twentieth Century. Of course, others would vehemently disagree with that characterization. That's America. God Bless it. Great American photo, either way.

(Photo compliments of Robert G. Swan)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Greensboro's Edward R. Murrow Would Be Appalled

Edward R. Murrow would be appalled, horrified by FoxNews. He would not recognize so much of what passes off as "journalism" in America today. A stern lecture from Murrow is desperately needed.

Murrow was born Egbert Roscoe Murrow near Greensboro, in Pleasant Garden, NC. After education at Washington State University, Murrow joined CBS in 1935 and remained there his entire career.

Though a decorated war correspondent during World War II, Murrow's "high-water mark" came when he took on right-wing extremist U. S. Senator Joe McCarthy in the 1950s. Murrow and his show, "See It Now", took on McCarthy at a very critical time. Murrow, a champion for the free and uncensored dissemination of information during the anti-communist hysteria of the early 1950s, began to criticize McCarthyism and the "red scare" at a time when most all others were reluctant to fire back. McCarthy's "red-baiting" had people fearing for their jobs and for their families. At that time, in America, you could be"blacklisted", believe it or not, for what you thought.

Some credit Murrow for singlehandedly bringing down McCarthy, hence the beginnings of the far-right's decades long repudiation of CBS News as an institution. On a famous national broadcast in which CBS accepted no commercial money, Murrow exposed McCarthy in a way that was seen as a turning point in the history of television. The broadcast provoked tens of thousands of letters, telegrams, and telephone calls, running 15 to 1 in favor.

Though the proliferation of news sources and outlets have proven so valuable and such a logical product of new and abundant technology, Murrow would be very concerned with journalist hucksters and the fraud which abounds. We can only wonder what a "dress down" the world of journalism would receive were Murrow alive. The video clip above gives us a glimpse. It is the real words of Edward R. Murrow as read by David Strathairn.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Andrew Breitbart/Fox News Launch and Run a Totally False Story

Yesterday a video clip which had been heavily edited and taken totally out of context from a speech Department of Agriculture agent Shirley Sherrod gave 25 years ago was posted on the FoxNews website. It had been produced and released by conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart. Breitbart has a history of sensational and false work and FoxNews can always be found close by taking advantage of the opportunity to "piggyback" and sell ratings with their conservative following. This was a blatantly false story.

The proliferation of false information and uncivil discourse on the internet and the airways is very disturbing. While we all appreciate the "upside" of technology, this distinct "downside" should be of concern to us all.

An ideological "free for all" is occuring on the electronic information highway and on the airways. In the process, how do we keep the moral fiber of America intact? I am not, of course, talking about the old, conservative moral focus on sex, drinking, smoking, etc. I am talking about how we treat one another, the way we treat our country, our culture, our neighbors, neighbors like Shirley Sherrod who have assumed roles of service in America.

A prominent piece appeared on an old-line media outlet just yesterday entitled, "The Most Successful, Failed Presidency in History." The gist of the piece was the right-wing distortion, which has taken hold, of this Presidency, one of the most accomplished Presidency's, at this point in an administration, in history. Just this morning City Councilwoman Nancy Vaughan pointed out how she had been viciously and outrageously attacked by an uninformed, and possibly unstable, blogger. The propping up by the electronic media, and resulting rise on the national scene of a character like Sarah Palin leads one to grave and scary concern.

What is our responsibility as citizens? What is our responsibility as consumers of news and as bloggers? It depends on how seriously we take our responsibility of contributing to civil dialogue and truth in America. It depends on what our motives are, what our agendas are. It depends on how we view our obligation regarding the "national conversation."

And, of course, it depends on how we view truth, on what our source for truth is. One would hope that we all have as an objective to move America forward and to help create an America based on virtuous values and principles. Adherence to universal truth and values such as honesty, courage, kindness, humility, forgiveness, modesty, cooperation should be our primary goal. The Judeo-Christian values we have all been taught would do quite well.

I clearly understand that there are different views of the world, different views on how to approach the problems of society, of the economy, etc. But we have got have a common set of values and principles on what to base our actions, our reactions, our positions.

So how should we proceed? We must be careful and diligent when consuming or contributing to the national dialogue. We must evaluate and scrutinize everything we read and everything we hear on the airways. We must seek out the motives of the disseminators of the information. We must not look only for information which reinforces our bias and our positions.

We really did "learn everything we need to know in kindergarten." We must seek out and develop a solid value system based on eternal and universal principles. "The Golden Rule" beckons. We must revert to those simple, civil, eternal virtues and principles. Without those, we do not have a chance to survive the proliferation of the destructive absurdity we face.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


What grand images of two great 20th century statesmen, Democrats, and world leaders.....New Englander John F. Kennedy and Texan Lyndon B. Johnson.

(Photos compliments of friend Robert G. Swan)

Legendary Lousiana Governor Huey Long

Above is photo of former Governor of Louisiana (1928-1932) and U.S. Senator (1932-1935) Huey Long. Nicknamed "the Kingfish", Long was known for his radical populist policies. During the Great Depression, Long created the "Share the Wealth" program in 1934, with a motto of "Every Man a King."

Long was assassinated on the federal courthouse steps in Baton Rouge in 1935. It is unclear whether he was shot by the alleged assassin or by a stray bullet from one of his bodyguards. The bodyguards put 32 bullets in the alleged assassin, who may have just punched Long in the mouth (although the assassin's distinctive Belgian pistol was found at the site).

Long died two days after the assassination attempt at age 42. His last words were reported to be, "God don't let me die, I have so much to do." At his death, Long, a Democrat, was preparing to mount a presidential campaign to oppose Frankin Roosevelt in 1936. Some 200,000 people poured into Baton Rouge for his funeral and tons of flowers came in from around the world.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Shoeless Joe Jackson and the 1919 Black Sox Scandal

Above are the 1919 Chicago White Sox players accused of fixing the World Series that year against the Cincinnati Reds. Top row, then bottom row, from left....... Swede Risberg, Freddy McMillan, Lefty Williams, Chick Gandil, Buck Weaver, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Happy Felsch, and Eddie Cicotte. Also, above is a photo of Shoeless Joe Jackson (right) and Ty Cobb (left).

There is much legend and controversy regarding what actually went down during the World Series that year. The White Sox very unexpectedly lost the series to the Reds. It is said that Joe Jackson (who had a record 12 hits during the Series) admitted under oath that he was in on the fix. But there is dispute as to whether an admission appears in the actual stenographic record of Jackson's actual testimony in front of the grand jury.

Legend has it that when Jackson left the courthouse during the trial, a young boy tugged at his coattail and said, "Tell me it ain't so, Joe." Joe is reported to have looked at the boy and said, "Yes, I'm afraid it is kid." The boy opened a path for the ball player and stood in silence as he went by. "I never would have thought it", the lad said.

In 1921, a Chicago jury acquitted Shoeless Joe and the seven other players. Nonetheless, Kenasaw Mountain Landis, the newly appointed Commissioner of Baseball, banned all eight of the players out of concern for the reputation of baseball.

The story goes that Ty Cobb and legendary sportswriter Grantland Rice walked into a liquor store owned by Jackson in Greenville, South Carolina years later. Jackson acted as though he did not know Cobb. When Cobb said, "Joe, don't you know who I am?" Jackson replied he did, but said, "I wasn't sure you wanted to know me, Ty. Most of them don't."

There is much dispute over Jackson's role in the scandal. Evidence has surfaced shedding great doubt on his role......making it one of baseball's most intriguing stories and legends.
(The top photo comes compliments of friend Neal Robertson).

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Images of Lincoln's Death

Above are images of Lincoln's casket, the box at Ford's Theater where Lincoln was shot, and Lincoln's funeral procession on Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

So Much To Process......So Much To Reflect Upon

I will be age 62 next month. I guess I am to some extent on the backside of my involvement in the workplace and in the community. It does not seem that way. Be certain, my goal is to stay engaged and involved, and to move forward in all aspects of my life. But reflections, more often than not, surface.

Today I attended the funeral of the most Christlike person I ever knew, Al Lineberry Sr. He was a member of the Greatest Generation and he was certainly one of it's greatest. His accomplishments are too numerous to name. He can best be summed up as an effective, kind, superb Christian example....... a tremendous representative of God's kingdom on earth. He was a great businessman, a pillar of the church, a philoanthanplist, a great family man, a state legislator, a wise rock of a school board chairman during the years of racial desegregation, on and on.

Al was also uniquely connected to my family. As an young apprentice mortician at Rich and Thompson Funeral Home in Burlington in the 1930s (before becoming one of America's most successful funeral directors), he took his meals and stayed at my Grandmother's boarding house. As she transitioned her boarding house to Greensboro to become a pioneer in the nursing home business, she and Al forged a lifelong friendship and business relationship. Al knew me and my brothers from the time we were small boys.

To have attended the celebration of his life today, to process the life he led, his vast contributions to humanity as they relate to God's great commission, and to ponder his important tie to my dear Grandmother, is alot to process. It prompts serious reflection on my life, to say the least.

Tomorrow I will be meeting a group of friends from grade school and high school at a minor league baseball game, some whom I have seen only at high school reunions over the past 45 years. This should be a joy and very interesting.......and more to process and reflect upon.

Bunny's health, our children's futures, my business, America's challenges, all make for so much to process and to reflect upon. I am thankful for a solid, eternal, and firm foundation from which to reflect and from which to seek direction, guidance and assurance.

One Al Lineberry's favorite scripture passages: "Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of Peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9 NRSV

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

1914 World Series

This is a great photo taken in Boston before the start of the 1914 World Series, which featured the National League's Boston Braves . In the photo is Mayor of Boston, John "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald, resplendent in flat top hat, and grandfather to President John F. Kennedy. He is standing between Boston Braves catcher Hank Gowdy and Braves mascots, with some unidentified dignitaries to the right. The Braves, in last place on July 4th, swept Connie Mack's Philadelphia A's four games straight, capping off one of sport's greatest comebacks ever.

In 1914, the other Boston baseball team, the American League Red Sox, signed a young rookie pitcher who went on to have a stellar career; his name........ George Herman Ruth.

Thanks to friend Neal Robertson for the photo.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Curt Flood and Marvin Miller - Two of The Most Significant Figures in the History of Sports

A great deal was made last week of the NBA's Lebron James and his move to the Miami Heat. Leaving aside the questionable way it was handled, the move itself was made possible by the actions of Curt Flood and Marvin Miller, pictured above, without question the two most important and significant people in the history of sports economics.

Flood became a very important figure in sports history when he refused to accept a trade in 1969. Flood believed that Major League baseball's decades old "reserve clause", which kept players beholden for life to the team that originally signed them, was unfair and archaic. Flood demanded, in a letter, that commissioner Bowie Kuhn declare him a "free agent". Kuhn denied his request, citing the "reserve clause" and it's inclusion in Floods 1969 contract.

Flood took his case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Among those testifying on Flood's behalf were former players Jackie Robinson and Hank Greenberg, and owner Bill Veeck. Flood had unanimous support from player representatives. Flood likened himself to "a well-paid slave." The Supreme Court acting on "stare decisis", meaning "to stand by things decided", ruled 5-3 in favor of Major League Baseball, upholding an archaic 1922 case. But, "the baseballs were out of the bag."

A few years later in 1974, Marvin Miller, a labor economist and executive director of the players union, encouraged Andy Messersmith and Dave McNally to file a grievance arbitration. The ensuing court decision declared that both players had fulfilled their contractual obligations and had no further legal ties to their ball clubs. This effectively eradicated the reserve clause and ushered in free agency.

The concept of free agency, the ability of a player to offer his services on the free market, is the basis on which Lebron James was able to move from Cleveland to Miami with his NBA career. Jesse Jackson said Cleveland Cavs owner Dan Gilbert sounded as though he was dealing with a "runaway slave." Jackson said Gilbert seemed to have a "slave master's mentality." Jesse has a way of framing things, but he does make an interesting historical analogy.

Miller was an economist. He knew that too many free agents could actually drive down players salaries. Miller agreed to limit free agency to players with more than six years of service, knowing that restricting the supply of labor would drive up salaries as owners bid for an annual, finite pool of free agents.

Salaries in sports are very high. It is the salaries of the less skilled players that is of most concern. The highly skilled players pay for themselves through ticket sells, TV revenues, and the increased value of an owner's franchise. The free marketplace hopefully works to sort out the challenge of the market price for players versus the entertainment value they add. One thing is for certain, Marvin Miller and Curt Flood certainly were literal "game changers."

Friday, July 9, 2010

Picture of the Day

A good photo of the guys who were the Democratic nominees for President when I was growing up in the 50s and 60s. Adlai Stevenson, distinguished and intellectual senior senator from Illinois (in the middle ) run in 1952 and in 1956, losing to General Eisenhower both times.

JFK (on the left) ran and won in 1960. Lyndon Johnson (on the right) ran and won in 1964 after completing Kennedy's first term after his assassination. The out of control Vietnam War prevented LBJ from running in 1968 (his Vice-President Hubert Humphrey ran in his place) and lost to Dick Nixon.

A good photograph of great 20th Century Americans taken at The Beverly Hills Hotel.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Cary, NC's Texas Ranger Josh Hamilton

Following Josh Hamilton is making for a great baseball season. His is quite a story. Josh set an amazing record with 28 home runs in the first round of the 2008 All-Star Game Home Derby. He is hitting .340 with 20 home runs as the 2010 All-Star break approaches. He has a 26 home game hitting stretch going. He hit a record 490 foot home run in Ranger Park last week.

Josh is from Cary, NC. His story is one of acute drug and alcohol addiction for which he is in recovery. He spent 3 years out of baseball fighting the addiction after his first year in the professional game. You can see the tattoos which cover his body from his days as an active addict. The Rangers have assigned a full-time employee to be with him at all times when the team is on the road and he is not with his family. Everyone is pulling for Josh to "keep those demons away."

He has experienced a committed religious conversion which seems to be his anchor, along with his supportive family and teammates, during his recovery. He sure has me praying and pulling for him........and reading those box scores on a daily basis! Go Josh! He is an incredibly gifted player.

RIP Senator Robert Byrd

A tribute to Senator Robert Byrd, featuring Senator Byrd (fiddle and vocals) and recorded in 1978. Byrd was unique, a real public character of the 20th century. This is PURE AMERICANA. Wonderful stuff.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

America's "First Family"

What a great picture of the America's "First Family"........a beautiful family. A "First Family" of color, a wonderful thought which has not fully sunk-in yet for this guy who grew up in the pre-civil rights South. God Bless 'em......and God Bless America, on this, it's 234th birthday, July 4, 2010.

"Change will not come if wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we have been waiting for. We are the change that we seek." - Barack Obama

Picture of the Day

"With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who has borne the wounds, and for his widow, and his orphans - to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and all nations."

Abraham Lincoln - Second Inaugural Address (last sentence) - March 4, 1865

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Picture of the Day

"Be it enacted by the Senate and the House of Representatives of the United States of America Congress assembled, that all non-citizen Native Americans born within the territorial limits of the United States be, and they are hereby, declared to be citizens of the United States: Provided the granting of such citizenship does not impair in any way or otherwise affect the right of any Native American to tribal or other property."

Indian Citizenship Act of 1924

Friday, July 2, 2010

Picture of the Day

Syracuse , NY, August 22, 1922. The one and only Babe Ruth, "The Bambino", surrounded by boys from Syracuse. The Babe was a sensation everywhere he went.

Happy Birthday America!

What a stunning photo of the Vietnam Memorial with the Washington Monument in the background. This is a great symbol for the celebration of America's 234th birthday. The images in the photo tell me that sometimes America is right and sometimes America is wrong, but regardless, America perserevers....and, at the end of the day......we honor America.

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