Happy Birthday To The President Of The United States…..

….Martin Sheen. He turns 80 today.

 

Sadly, Americans Love To Repeat History

This puts so much into perspective.

The masks were called muzzles, germ shields and dirt traps. They gave people a “pig-like snout.” Some people snipped holes in their masks to smoke cigars. Others fastened them to dogs in mockery. Bandits used them to rob banks.

More than a century ago, as the 1918 influenza pandemic raged in the United States, masks of gauze and cheesecloth became the facial front lines in the battle against the virus. But as they have now, the masks also stoked political division. Then, as now, medical authorities urged the wearing of masks to help slow the spread of disease. And then, as now, some people resisted.

In 1918 and 1919, as bars, saloons, restaurants, theaters and schools were closed, masks became a scapegoat, a symbol of government overreach, inspiring protests, petitions and defiant bare-face gatherings. All the while, thousands of Americans were dying in a deadly pandemic.

 

Endorsing Heather Driscoll For 76th State Assembly, Courageous Stand On Guns Proves Her Mettle

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The first letter I ever wrote to the editor of my hometown newspaper, while a teenager in high school, dealt with the issue of gun control.  From that time onwards the issue of curtailing guns, slowing the rate of murders from these weapons, as well as suicide from them has been a lifetime pursuit. Therefore, when it comes to selecting a candidate for the 76th State Assembly it is a very easy conclusion as to who will garner my support.

Several months ago, on a Sunday afternoon, Heather Driscoll called our home and wanted to talk about her candidacy for the state legislature. Within minutes of listening to her conversation, it was clear who I would be supporting in the election on August 11th.

She spoke unapologetically and with deep conviction due to personal experience about the tragedy of guns and the need to have meaningful and responsible gun reform legislation in Wisconsin. She also has actual working experience on that issue from being a part of the office of a Madison state representative.

Her experience is grounded in tragedy.  Driscoll’s father, a fifth-generation farmer, died by gun suicide when he was 28 years old.  She was a girl at the time, then just at the tender age of two-and-a-half.  In our phone chat that afternoon she mentioned a sobering fact that I jotted down while at my desk.  In our state 71% of gun deaths are suicide.  That statistic is staggering. I later discovered data online that shows in our nation the percentage for the national rate from suicide by guns reaches almost two-thirds.

Since 2006 this blog has continually stressed the need for gun control and the reasons why voters need to support candidates who step up and speak directly to the issue. Driscoll does that very thing, and with data, candor, and conviction she will carry that issue forward once elected and serving her constituents.

There are many candidates seeking election to this open seat, and their credentials and resumes are credible.  On many issues, they strike the same note.  But when it comes to guns and the needed reforms for the safety of the public and reduction in violence no other candidate speaks with such authority or conviction as does Driscoll. 

Over the course of the past three weeks the city of Madison has registered countless gun shooting incidents.  Meanwhile, the number of guns on the streets of our cities in the state are staggering, and the cost to taxpayers in preventing shootings and dealing with these acts of violence creates a tremendous financial hardship for local communities and units of government.   There has been a reluctance from too many candidates for too long to speak truthfully and with resolve about this pressing problem.  The lack of candor and courage from too many candidates who don’t want to roil the waters only underserves the state.  Daily headlines about gun violence prove why Driscoll is the woman for the times.  

Therefore it is my determined effort to see Driscoll elected because she is the type of candidate that I have long advocated we should endorse. And support. Voters will do themselves a service by voting for Driscoll and allowing her voice to be instrumental in the legislative process under the dome in Madison.

If You Only Read One Book This Year…

….let it be this one.

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Harold Brown of Janesville, Wisconsin will play a role in the creation of the electric chair. His involvement with Thomas Edison as they both worked to undermine George Westinghouse regarding A/C electric power is but one of the amazing and intriguing spinoffs from a pure gem of a book.

Edison and Westinghouse are in a titanic struggle in the courts over patent rights. One of the strategies undertaken by Edison, with Brown as a player, is to have the state of New York enact the use of the electric chair as a form of execution, using AC current. In so doing, the aim is to undermine the brand name of Westinghouse and the use of such current in places like Portland, Oregon. After all, the business argument goes, who would want the same type of power used to execute a criminal also being used to light a farmhouse on the other side of the nation? The Last Days Of Night fell into my hands quite by accident, and it is a remarkable find. So much that I feel compelled to promote it on this blog.

Late Friday night, on the one year anniversary of the purchase of our entire Victorian home in Madison, which was constructed in 1892, I desired to find a book about some historical event that took place at that same time. I did a Google search and discovered some good books praised by  newspapers  and critics.  The Washington Post had applauded this book as one of the best the year it was published.

Graham Moore has used a powerful storyline to create a punchy and throughly enjoyable work of historical fiction. The smart pacing of the book moves the story along while the creation of dialogue brings forth laughter and insight, not only for the period in which the story occurs, but also for the scientific inquiries that are underway at that time.

While I am constantly reading books each year, and admittedly find reason to applaud and promote many of them, I wish my readers not to mistake my fervent desire to have this book read as if it is just another volume to have risen to the top of the pile. This book is simply unique in recreating the mood and time of 1888 New York City, and the the scope of the legal battle undertaken by Paul Cravath.  The great personalities come to life, with none other than Nikola Telsa as the most perplexing.  No one can claim being a genius is easy.  What this book allows is for an understanding about people with grand and exquisite ideas.  How ideas are manipulated. And how the means for safekeeping them from the hands of others…through any means…becomes acceptable. 

The book was written and published in 2016 and stumbling upon it has been nothing but a tremendous joy. It does give one pause, however, to wonder about the number of books for whatever reason, that never get onto the radars of most readers.  The 1892 home I own with James gets the thanks for this incredible find.

And so it goes.