Rainy and cool, as this week should be. You look around and realize that most of the leaves are gone. Some trees still hold fast to their foilage, but you know the next Monday will find the world bare and bereft. It’s okay. Spring and fall are the same: both are a return to an essential truth. There’s a welcome clarity in the hard rain and sullen wind. The seasons repeat mechanically. It’s our observation that gives them meaning they otherwise would never have.

I’ve voted in every election since I’ve been eligible to vote, with the exception of a recent off-year contest I skipped because . . . I don’t know. It didn’t seem particularly important, and I was pretty sure my vote wouldn’t make a difference.

That’s right! I regarded an election as not particularly important. This could have been a grave error. But I get to make it.


I think voting is a civic obligation, a necessity, a prerequisite for complaining about the outcomes, a tribute to those who fought to protect it, and all the other things that make you think of an eagle staring intently into the distance. But it is not required. You are not automatically a better person for having voted. You are not a bad person if you don’t, and if anyone harasses anyone for not voting they’re a busybody whose nose should be removed from your business with a hard knuckle.

(BTW, the sponsor of the tweet and website is a conservative organization.)

Perhaps it’s just general weariness from Pre-Election Twitter, where the entirely of the Monday conversation was either polls or exhortations from innumerable strangers famous and obscure to go vote. That’s it - just vote! I’d take them seriously if they’d periodically tweeted through the year a link to sober pieces about the important issues of our time, instead of the obligatory trembling rage over the day’s instance of cranial-follicle auto-immolation.

Well, I have my issues:

* The erosion of the Constitution by opportunistic short-sighted jack wagons of every stripe

* An unsustainable social-benefits model

* China, because we have to cooperate

* Iran, because the mullahs are a blight on the people and the region

* Europe in general, for all the reasons

* Sundry other botherations

Everyone has to pick and choose, and yours are probably different - great! My caring about one issue does not preclude agreeing with you on another one simply because the priorities are different. To paraphrase Roddy Piper, as a people we have come to kick ass and chew bubblegum, and oh by the way we possess the largest known reserves of bubblegum on the planet.

I mean, low on my list - waaaay down low - is Russia. Big surprise, they’re chaos agents. Brutal local hegemons. Got it. They can march next door and bust heads, and their cyberspooks can put up lots of fake ads on Facebook - nice work, Ivan, totally changed my vote there. Meanwhile their only aircraft carrier is out of commission because the floating dry dock went teats-up and banged into the vessel. Boo and or hoo:

After just two months on its ill-starred Syrian venture, the Kuznetsov retired to Severeomorsk to begin an $800 million-dollar (50 billion ruble) refit and modernization planned to last four years—grounding the Russian Navy’s carrier aviation branch for that entire span, which will not do any favors to the retention of experienced personnel. However, in October 2018, the money allocated to the refit was cut in half, with upgrades to sensor, communication and defensive systems likely curtailed in order to replace the notoriously faulty boilers.

That said, they can cause all sorts of mischief with their energy policy, which is why we need to overcome the logistical problems of getting more US-produced LNG into Europe, which requires new infrastructure on both ends. Of course we’ll also have to compete with Israel once they get the Leviathan field online and build the East Med pipeline to Greece, but the more the merrier.

BORING, I know, because what did Trump say the other day about that other thing? That was important! No, it wasn’t. What did he say a year ago that was stupid and wrong and it was the most worstest thing ever? Remember? I don’t. Reducing energy dependence on other nations and going toe-to-toe with the Rooskies in the European energy market, that’s important, long term.

The only long-term issue ever discussed is climate change. There are a dozen other issues that will shape civilization more. They’re not the product of a Climate of Hate or Rising Concerns over Bad Things; they’re the product of rational men and women pursuing national self-interest, and eventually they collide, or they’re the product of rational men and women pursuing careers in large, unresponsive organizations that eventually screw up or encounter an unanticipated event, and then they fail in a way that’s like a meteor hitting the Yucatan.

Tl; dr: if Axel Rose was tweeting out something about the need to vote for candidates who wanted a serious conversation on our relationship with Turkey, especially if Erdogan decides to invade Cyprus to gain control of the Aphrodite oil field, it would be worth a moment’s thought. By all means, vote. I have no idea how it will go. But I suspect that the next two years will be like the last, and the political culture will be no better unless -

Well, let me tell you a self-self-serving anecdote that reflects well on me, which of course is half the reason I relate it. The other day while walking Birch I came across a yard sign for a candidate with whom I disagree. It had fallen down. Wind, perhaps. I put it back upright, and of course I thought my what a good fellow I am. Reaching across the aisle and all that. But the thing is, I know that the candidate is a decent person. The neighbor is - well, he’s my neighbor! We chat. Living here in this time and place, we have a lot in common.

To be fair, there are also lawns in my neighborhood that have signs I would not set aright. A comment not on the neighbor, but the candidate. I’m not going to pause to fix that sign, because that candidacy troubles me on a number of levels. But I’m still going to wave when I walk past. It’s the least I can do.

The least one can do seems like too much to ask, if you marinate in the news and social media, and while it may reveal some truth underneath it all, we don’t live our day-to-day lives on that level. We don’t want to. The people whose car has 17 bumperstickers might, but most of us don’t.

There’s a reason the ballot box is private. It’s you and your decision and your gesture to help nudge this glorious chaos in the direction you think is the right one. Then you hand it to someone who may think something completely different, and you make small happy talk and get a sticker and nod hello to the people on their way in, who may or may not erase your vote, or add to it.

Belief in our civic heritage, the things we share - almost casual, unexamined belief, the way we believe in the sunrise and water coming out of the tap and plowed streets and school buses that arrive every morning and stores that open on the dot and music that comes out of our radios - that’s what has to matter first. It’s a fool that burns it on the altar erected the day before yesterday.




It’s 1921. Hurrah! No more satisfactory coverings. Wait what

Oh, I see. Still seems like an odd first line of copy.

1921 looks more colorful than you might have thought.

Wonder if that stuff was slippery when it rained.

Mothers, are you keeping up? They want the nut meats in puffed style:

Each food cell is blasted by a 100 million steam explosions!


High pressure puffed grain is created by placing whole grains under high pressure with steam in a containment vessel. When the vessel's seal is suddenly broken, the entrained steam then flashes and bloats the endosperm of the kernel, increasing its volume to many times its original size.

It’s an old process, but there was a Dr. Anderson.

Alexander Pierce Anderson (November 23, 1862 – May 7, 1943) was an American plant physiologist, botanist, educator and inventor. His scientific experiments led to the discovery of "puffed rice", a starting point for a new breakfast cereal that was later advertised as "Food Shot From Guns”

Cannons, really:

Anderson finally captured his bosses' attention at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair. He brought eight bronze, twenty-inch-long cylinders that appeared to many onlookers to be small cannons. Anderson loaded each "cannon" with six pounds of raw rice and applied heat.

When he uncapped them, a blizzard of expanded rice showered into a two-story-high, forty-foot-wide cage. Helpers bagged the rice and sold it for a nickel to delighted onlookers. By fair's end, Anderson's team had puffed more than 20,000 pounds of rice and sold a quarter-million packages.

The “Shot From Guns” line would be used for decades, including a long run of movie-star endorsement ads in the late 1940s. I know because I have a website with 25 examples, ready for 2020.

It’s sometimes good to be reminded that the people we thought of as “old timers” 50 years ago also had their own set of old timers.

That was all the ad needed to do: Exertion and refreshment. And nostalgia for the good ol’ days, before the curse of the pell-mell modern world. Of 1921.

Whoa: a 61 day cruise.

The Caronia: “She was the only ship in the Cunard fleet to be named after an American, being named after Caro Brown, granddaughter of Cunard's New York agent.” There was a famous Caronia launched in ‘48, but this was her predecessor. Sailed from 1904 to 1932. In 1921 it had just come off a refit after a tour of duty as a troop transport, but I’m guessing it wasn’t satisfactory; it was reconfigured in 1926.




Anna Quirentia Nilsson (March 30, 1888 – February 11, 1974) was a Swedish-born American actress who achieved success in American silent movies. She predates fellow Swedish born stars Greta Garbo and Ingrid Bergman.

She’s in “Sunset Boulevard.”



Well, that’s a great argument for working everyone to death and paying them little:

Who cares how hard you work, when you get a chocolate at the end of your 10 hour shift?

Note the word “Pothooks.” Made more interesting by chocolate. What does that mean? “A curved stroke in handwriting, especially as made by children learning to write” said one online dictionary. Wikipedia says “A crooked stroke in writing; a scrawl." That makes sense. Deciphering the boss’ handwriting, perhaps.

I like my underwear rust-proof:

The lithe boning gentle caresses.

This must have looked very modern:

Clean, geometric, few words, bold images, no background - a new style was being born.


Now let's enjoy Frank Reade Jr's return - in living color! Or Electrical Color.

NOW GO VOTE! Or don't, your choice.


blog comments powered by Disqus