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Which Canal Is In Egypt?

September 16, 2014

Someone had a bad day picturing the correct canal.


On the left, Egypt’s stamp of the “Suez Canal”; on the right, a photograph of the Panama Canal. 

To celebrate the planned extension of the Suez Canal, Egypt decided to commission a line of stamps showing off the multi-billion dollar project. The only problem is that the designers seem to have confused their canals. Some of the stamps show the Panama Canal, located in Central America. Embarrassed authorities announced Sunday that they were halting the stamps’ production.

Will “Madam Secretary” Be The New “West Wing” Of Television?

September 16, 2014

We are rather particular about the shows we watch from the three main networks.   Great acting and great writing need to go hand-in-hand along with am energetic plot line.  That is not always the case with the offerings on prime-time, which makes us thankful for public television.

But all summer I have been waiting for the premier of CBS’s Madam Secretary as there seems to the potential for this show to have the pacing and feel of the much beloved NBC smash hit The West Wing.    Over the years I have watched the full series at least two full times after faithfully watching the show while it actually aired.   For many politicos like myself there is a need for a real drama of Washington to again make us sit up and pay attention.  While I am riveted by the scenarios in ABC’s Scandal, another fine Washington drama,  there is a need for credibility akin to ‘West Wing’ that many of us beg for.

And we hopefully are about to get it starting Sunday following 60 Minutes.  (And again later this fall with NBC’s State of Affairs.

One of this fall’s newest political TV shows trades in the drama of an Oval Office affair for foreign affairs — and PTA meetings too.

Adding to the growing line up of political programs, CBS will premiere “Madam Secretary” at 8 p.m. Sunday. The show, from executive producers Lori McCreary and Morgan Freeman, stars Tea Leoni as Elizabeth McCord — a former CIA analyst who is suddenly asked to leave behind her life in academia to take the reins at the State Department.

The show is filmed on a massive set in Greenpoint, Brooklyn — more than 200 miles from the nation’s capital. Many politicians might feel right at home on the set, which boasts recreations of a Georgetown home, State Department offices and even a Situation Room.

To create the D.C. drama, the producers and writers turned to Washington regulars. Hall said she met with an “impressive collection” of speechwriters, policy advisers and communications directors from various White Houses — active, retired and in new lines of work — “but all of them have been in the trenches.”

Madison, Wisconsin Best Place To Live According To Livability

September 15, 2014

The news that Madison. Wisconsin is the best place to live does not shock those of us who reside in this most vibrant, politically active, and liberal city.  We love our UW-Madison, treasure our state capital, and enjoy our lakes that make this place extra special no matter the season.     While others will read this survey today and ponder what it might be like to live in such a remarkable place those of us who call Madison home already know we are blessed.

We have real winters that bite at the nose but we know the intense thrill of the first daffodils and the mournful sounds of the loons as they stop over on their northward trek.

We can wake up watching the sun rise on Lake Monona and then cuddle with our partner and watch it set over Lake Mendota.

We can seemingly talk forever how to construct a project but at the end of the process no one doubts the musical perfection from the Overture Stage.

We may have strong differences with the powers that govern from under the statehouse dome but through it all the spine of our local democracy never looses its resolve.

We have not ironed out all the problems for achieving graduation rates and educational success but the fact we admit where we need to aim and work faithfully to reach it underscores who we are as a city.

For these and countless other reasons I love my home, Madison, Wisconsin.

NFL Political Cartoons

September 15, 2014

There is no way not to know that the heavy and unrelenting criticism of the National Football League is well deserved.  Tone deafness at its worst is simply the best way to describe how the NFL has responded to the violent nature of some of their players.  If I were the NFL I would be looking for someone to present a new rules and an image that fits more with modern American sensibilities.

Once again the best summary of how we feel about topics in the news is expressed through the gifted and creative hands of political cartoonists.

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Where Was The Level Of Excitement For Hillary Clinton?

September 15, 2014

There have many column inches written about Bill and Hillary Clinton being back in Iowa this weekend.  The viewpoint that I think summed up the general consensus of the reporters I read can be found here with Rick Klein from ABC News.

There was nothing overtly off about Hillary Clinton’s first Iowa trip of the year, which happened to be her first in seven years. But neither was there much that was particularly “on.” If anything, it underscored the importance of the grass-roots organizing that’s been happening without her permission, though almost certainly with her consent. If you had taken away the “Ready for Hillary” presence in the crowd, it would have been a gathering of interested through hardly enthusiastic Iowans – not that different than any presidential contender is likely to get a year and a half before the caucuses. Even Bill Clinton didn’t ignite much excitement with his call for electing Democrats this year – a measure of Democrats’ midterm challenge, and possibly larger concerns as well. None of this suggests that Hillary Clinton, should she run, won’t win the nomination, possibly quite easily. But if you’re looking for presidential fervor – which is admittedly hard to find this far out – you wouldn’t have found it in the balloon field that hosted the final Harkin Steak Fry.

Pictures: Willy Street Fair Has Energetic Parade

September 14, 2014

What can be better than a parade that comes down your street?  A parade that gives away watermelons.

In front of our home today one of the floats handed out produce and a family on our block scored what I think has to be top prize with a watermelon.  Lots of smiles, sunshine, and then remarkable eats along Williamson Street.  A perfect day on the Madison isthmus.  Click on pictures for larger image.


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How a Nation Of Readers Was Created In America

September 14, 2014

Just one of those great articles that I came across this morning. The whole piece is well worth your time.   Here is a snippet.

In 1943, in the middle of the Second World War, America’s book publishers took an audacious gamble. They decided to sell the armed forces cheap paperbacks, shipped to units scattered around the globe. Instead of printing only the books soldiers and sailors actually wanted to read, though, publishers decided to send them the best they had to offer. Over the next four years, publishers gave away 122,951,031 copies of their most valuable titles.

Serious books were hard to find before the war. An industry study in 1931 highlighted the book trade’s limited audience. Nineteen out of every 20 books sold by the major publishing houses cost more than two dollars, a luxury even before the Depression. Those who could afford them often struggled to find them. Two out of three counties in America lacked any bookstore, or even so much as a department store, drugstore, or other retailer selling enough books to have an account with a publishing house. In rural areas, small towns, and even mid-sized cities, dedicated customers bought their books the way they bought other household goods, picking the titles out of mail-order catalogs. Most did not bother.

There was another, less-reputable class of books, though, that enjoyed broader distribution. Cheap mysteries, westerns, and comics could be snapped up at newsstands in paperbound editions that cost far less to produce than hardcover books. Throughout the 1920s and ’30s, publishers tried to take advantage of this format to publish a wider range of books. Most efforts failed. Then, in 1939, two new entrants changed the equation. Pocket Books and Penguin Books each offered a mix of new titles and reprints of hardcover books, including some of a literary bent. More importantly, they sold these paperback books on magazine racks.

Americans could put down a quarter and pick up a book all over town, from train stations and drugstores. Within a year, Americans bought 6 million paperback books. By 1943, Pocket Books alone printed 38 million copies. “It’s unbelievable,” said the head of Random House. “It’s frightening.”



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