For my family and I, having had health issues over the past eleven weeks, I’m not too sure I really want to know the future.  I just might freak out.  Someone might have to talk me off the ledge.  We all would love to know the future until we know it.  That’s when problems arise.  I got to thinking about this coming back from the Post Office this morning.  One major road in the Brainerd area of Chattanooga is Brainerd Road.  Sitting right there, next door to McDonalds is “Psychic Readings by Ms. Taylor”.   That “establishment” has been there for over forty years.  Never been in—never will go in but I do wonder what type of guarantee, if any, is given after a reading.  Who knows?

Now, the population of greater Chattanooga according to the 2104 census is 173,778 people. Not too small, not too big.  Just right in my opinion.  Do you know how many psychic readers there are in Chatta-boogie?  Take a look at the list below.

  • Psychic Center of Chattanooga
  • Psychic Readings by Ms. Taylor
  • Psychic Readings by Ms. Evette
  • Psychic Readings by Cecelia
  • Psychic Isabella
  • Psychic Readings by Gianna
  • Jackie Bradshaw Psychic Reader & Love Reuniting Expert
  • Keen – Psychics
  • Diane love specialist
  • Psychic Readings by Donna
  • Psychic Center
  • Medium
  • America’s #1 Love Psychic Jacqueline
  • Readings by Mrs. Fatima
  • AskNow
  • Psychic Source
  • psychic readings by Eva
  • Psychic Readings by Phone Call Now

That’s  one (1) psychic reader for every 9,654 people.  One good thing—not much waiting and most are open twenty-four (24) hours per day.  OK, with that being the case, I have copied the “list of services” one reader can give a client.  Please take a look, as follows:

Top 3 requested readings: Love/Relationship Reading (addresses all love matters questions/concerns), Psychic Reading (addresses the here and now, unfolding the future), Spiritual Reading (Connect with your spirit guides for an overall healing of the mind, body and spirit). SPECIALIST in relationship crisis, and reuniting lovers. Superior accuracy with 35 years’ experience. Any reading your choice $55.00. Born a naturally gifted psychic spiritualist, Psychic Cecelia offers readings on love, business, marriage, love affairs, relationship crisis, court matters and family discord. Any reading you choose to do will amaze you with the most accurate details of information, that will end your skepticism. Call now and allow my spirit guides to address all of your questions and concerns. You’ll find there is a better way to solve the matters that keep you awake at night. Are you struggling to find a path to inner peace, success or career choice? Do you have a love problem you cannot solve alone? With a wealth of experience and knowledge my psychic vibes allow me to touch base with my callers, and furthermore telepathically communicate with their spirit, and their particular situation. If you’re interested in an accurate psychic reading, then call today. All readings guaranteed private and confidential. Call now and receive the most in depth accurate reading on love, marriage, and business.

This is BIG—really big and with being the case, just imagine the aid Ms. Cecelia could give in addressing the following problems:

  • Peace in the Middle-East
  • Appointing a new FBI Director
  • National Debt
  • Student Loan Defaults
  • North Korea Mad Man Kim Jong-un
  • Trade Deficit
  • Overwhelming Drug Use in the United States
  • Environmental Issues; i.e. Global Warming

You get the picture.  Just think of what we are missing by NOT allowing Ms. Cecelia in on the solution to these burdensome problems.  Just blows my mind as to why the “FED” has not come to this conclusion before.  Then again, maybe I’m looking at this the wrong way.  As always, I welcome your comments.


Chattanooga, Tennessee is home to the Tennessee Aquarium.  We are remarkably fortunate to have this “fish tank” for many reasons.  First and foremost, the Aquarium has demonstrated one significant fact—it was the anchor for Chattanooga’s renaissance.  Chattanooga is no longer just a stop on your way to Florida.  It has become a destination for hundreds of thousands of non-citizens on an annual basis.  The aquarium gives tourists and residents something to do during and on week days and weekends.  The digital picture below will give you some idea as to the striking design of the facility.

It is hard to believe this week marks the twenty-fifth (25) anniversary of the aquarium.  I can remember the time prior to construction when many wondered whether or not the facility could support itself with visitors.  How would the City pay the employees?  How would the city maintain the facility?  Why take up precious land when it could be used for manufacturing and production?  All of these questions and more were asked—and answered.

The Tennessee Aquarium has been at the epicenter of the city’s downtown revival.  That fact is reflected with the knowledge that since its opening on May 1, 1992, more than twenty-three (23) million people have visited what has become, by far, the region’s biggest attraction.  In my opinion, the exhibits are much better than the aquarium in Atlanta and the Smokies. (Just my opinion.)

Let’s take a look at several facts that will highlight this marvelous addition to our city.

  • A new economic study estimates those visitors have pumped nearly $3.3 billion into Hamilton County’s economy and helped spur more than $5 billion in private investment downtown. Last year alone, out-of-state tourists coming to visit the Tennessee Aquarium are estimated to have had an economic impact totaling $115.7 million, according to a study by the University of Tennessee’s Center for Sustainable Business and Development.
  • As you can see from the following graphic, the aquarium is just where it should be— right downtown.

Before the aquarium was built, you could go downtown and there would not be one soul on Broad or Market streets.  Broad and Market and the “main drags” in Chattanooga.  Today, those downtown streets are filled with people, even on most weeknights, and most of that has to do with what began with the aquarium.  After 6:00 P.M. any night, go downtown and try to find a parking spot on the street.  The garages have ample parking but on the streets-not so much.  The aquarium has also attracted a huge number of restaurants, bars, food trucks, dance halls, etc etc.  The vision our community leaders had to transform our city began with the aquarium, and without the aquarium we would not be where we are today.

  • The aquarium employs more than two hundred (200) people with seven hundred and fifty (750) volunteers.
  • The facility is home to more than twelve thousand (12,000) animals representing eight hundred (800) species.
  • Annual revenues = $25.2 million.
  • Mitch Patel, president of Chattanooga-based Vision Hospitality Corp., credits the aquarium for much of the growth in the city’s $1 billion-a-year tourism industry.
  • The aquarium’s educational and research mission has expanded its scope and footprint to add research and conservation institutes and extra attractions, such as the IMAX Theater, Ocean Discovery saltwater tanks and the River Gorge Explorer boat trips in the Tennessee River gorge.
  • Chattanooga downtown boosters also have added to its appeal with the development of Coolidge, Renaissance and the Tennessee Riverwalk parks; the Children’s Discovery Museum; the Walnut Street and Holmberg pedestrian bridges; the AT&T baseball stadium for the Chattanooga Lookouts, the expansion of the Hunter Museum of American Art and growth of the Bluff View Art District, among other successes.
  • There has been $5 billion of private investment in our downtown area since 1992, including a billion dollars of projects announced in the past year and a half. That’s just extraordinary, but it shows the power of finding what is authentic and fits your community. That’s what the aquarium has been for Chattanooga.

As a catalyst for growth, the aquarium and other attractions helped to increase the hotel business in Hamilton County nearly fourfold. In 1991, the last full year before the aquarium opened, Hamilton County hotels captured forty-seven ($47) million in total revenues. Last year they generated $187 million in revenues, according to the Hamilton County Trustee’s Office and before the aquarium opened, the only major hotel built downtown in decades was the Marriott, which that opened in 1986 next to the Trade Center. For a major city, even a small city such as Chattanooga, this is big.   Since 1992, more than a dozen hotels have been added across Chattanooga, and more than $140 million in new hotels are being built or in the pipeline in Hamilton County, including five luxury or boutique hotels downtown.

“Jack’s fish tank” questioned

As mentioned above, some were initially skeptical of the aquarium idea, which was proposed by architectural students at the Urban Design Studio in 1981 and later embraced as one of the goals in the community planning process organized by Chattanooga Venture in the 1980s. When the aquarium was pitched to then-Tennessee Gov. Lamar Alexander among a group of community projects, he urged local leaders, including Chattanooga Coca-Cola magnate Jack Lupton, to make the attraction distinctive and world-class.   Lupton, Chairman of the Lyndhurst Foundation and other backers agreed to build the facility with private money and contributed ten ($10) million from the foundation and eleven ($11) million of his own money.  He also led the forty-five ($45) million fundraising drive.

The Tennessee Aquarium was designed by Cambridge Seven Associates, which had previously designed the National Aquarium in Baltimore and the New England Aquarium in Boston, to tell the story of aquatic life from the headwaters of the Smoky Mountains to the Gulf of Mexico. The 130,000-square-foot River Journey structure is the equivalent of a 12-story building and follows the path of a raindrop from high in the Appalachian Mountains to the ocean.  The digitals below will give you some idea as to what’s inside.

Many of its tanks and exhibits bear the names of corporate or individual donors. Memberships, admission fees and ongoing capital campaigns help pay to operate and expand the aquarium and support its educational research and outreach.

The 21st Century Waterfront, which included the thirty ($30) million Ocean Journey structure built in 2005, revamped the Ross’s Landing are to include a riverfront park, walkway, pier and boat docks, opening up the waterfront to pedestrians and Chattanooga’s downtown to boats.

The aquarium quickly won over most skeptics, topping its first-year attendance goal of 650,000 people within its first four months and topping out at nearly 1.5 million visitors in the first year. It consistently has ranked among the nation’s top aquariums in visitor satisfaction surveys. Please keep in mind the population of Chattanooga is 167, 674.  This will give you some perspective as to why the facility is so very important to our city.  How many other communities of our size can say they attract over a million visitors per year?  Think about and then, plan your next trip to Chattanooga.

DIGITAL READINESS GAPS

April 23, 2017


This post uses as one reference the “Digital Readiness Gaps” report by the Pew Center.  This report explores, as we will now, attitudes and behaviors that underpin individual preparedness and comfort in using digital tools for learning.

HOW DO ADULTS LEARN?  Good question. I suppose there are many ways but I can certainly tell you that adults my age, over seventy, learn in a manner much different than my grandchildren, under twenty.  I think of “book learning” first and digital as a backup.  They head straight for their i-pad or i-phone.  GOOGLE is a verb and not a company name as far as they are concerned.  (I’m actually getting there with the digital search methods and now start with GOOGLE but reference multiple sources before being satisfied with only one reference. For some reason, I still trust book as opposed to digital.)

According to Mr. Malcom Knowles, who was a pioneer in adult learning, there are six (6) main characteristics of adult learners, as follows:

  • Adult learning is self-directed/autonomous
    Adult learners are actively involved in the learning process such that they make choices relevant to their learning objectives.
  • Adult learning utilizes knowledge & life experiences
    Under this approach educators encourage learners to connect their past experiences with their current knowledge-base and activities.
  • Adult learning is goal-oriented
    The motivation to learn is increased when the relevance of the “lesson” through real-life situations is clear, particularly in relation to the specific concerns of the learner.
  • Adult learning is relevancy-oriented
    One of the best ways for adults to learn is by relating the assigned tasks to their own learning goals. If it is clear that the activities they are engaged into, directly contribute to achieving their personal learning objectives, then they will be inspired and motivated to engage in projects and successfully complete them.
  • Adult learning highlights practicality
    Placement is a means of helping students to apply the theoretical concepts learned inside the classroom into real-life situations.
  • Adult learning encourages collaboration
    Adult learners thrive in collaborative relationships with their educators. When learners are considered by their instructors as colleagues, they become more productive. When their contributions are acknowledged, then they are willing to put out their best work.

One very important note: these six characteristics encompass the “digital world” and conventional methods; i.e. books, magazines, newspapers, etc.

As mentioned above, a recent Pew Research Center report shows that adoption of technology for adult learning in both personal and job-related activities varies by people’s socio-economic status, their race and ethnicity, and their level of access to home broadband and smartphones. Another report showed that some users are unable to make the internet and mobile devices function adequately for key activities such as looking for jobs.

Specifically, the Pew report made their assessment relative to American adults according to five main factors:

  • Their confidence in using computers,
  • Their facility with getting new technology to work
  • Their use of digital tools for learning
  • Their ability to determine the trustworthiness of online information,
  • Their familiarity with contemporary “education tech” terms.

It is important to note; the report addresses only the adult proclivity relative to digital learning and not learning by any other means; just the available of digital devices to facilitate learning. If we look at the “conglomerate” from PIAA Fact Sheet, we see the following:

The Pew analysis details several distinct groups of Americans who fall along a spectrum of digital readiness from relatively more prepared to relatively hesitant. Those who tend to be hesitant about embracing technology in learning are below average on the measures of readiness, such as needing help with new electronic gadgets or having difficulty determining whether online information is trustworthy. Those whose profiles indicate a higher level of preparedness for using tech in learning are collectively above average on measures of digital readiness.  The chart below will indicate their classifications.

The breakdown is as follows:

Relatively Hesitant – 52% of adults in three distinct groups. This overall cohort is made up of three different clusters of people who are less likely to use digital tools in their learning. This has to do, in part, with the fact that these groups have generally lower levels of involvement with personal learning activities. It is also tied to their professed lower level of digital skills and trust in the online environment.

  • A group of 14% of adults make up The Unprepared. This group has bothlow levels of digital skills and limited trust in online information. The Unprepared rank at the bottom of those who use the internet to pursue learning, and they are the least digitally ready of all the groups.
  • We call one small group Traditional Learners,and they make up of 5% of Americans. They are active learners, but use traditional means to pursue their interests. They are less likely to fully engage with digital tools, because they have concerns about the trustworthiness of online information.
  • A larger group, The Reluctant,make up 33% of all adults. They have higher levels of digital skills than The Unprepared, but very low levels of awareness of new “education tech” concepts and relatively lower levels of performing personal learning activities of any kind. This is correlated with their general lack of use of the internet in learning.

Relatively more prepared – 48% of adults in two distinct groups. This cohort is made up of two groups who are above average in their likeliness to use online tools for learning.

  • A group we call Cautious Clickerscomprises 31% of adults. They have tech resources at their disposal, trust and confidence in using the internet, and the educational underpinnings to put digital resources to use for their learning pursuits. But they have not waded into e-learning to the extent the Digitally Ready have and are not as likely to have used the internet for some or all of their learning.
  • Finally, there are the Digitally Ready. They make up 17% of adults, and they are active learners and confident in their ability to use digital tools to pursue learning. They are aware of the latest “ed tech” tools and are, relative to others, more likely to use them in the course of their personal learning. The Digitally Ready, in other words, have high demand for learning and use a range of tools to pursue it – including, to an extent significantly greater than the rest of the population, digital outlets such as online courses or extensive online research.

CONCLUSIONS:

To me, one of the greatest lessons from my university days—NEVER STOP LEARNING.  I had one professor, Dr. Bob Maxwell, who told us the half-life of a graduate engineer is approximately five (5) years.  If you stop learning, the information you receive will become obsolete in five years.  At the pace of technology today, that may be five months.  You never stop learning AND you embrace existent technology.  In other words—do digital. Digital is your friend.  GOOGLE, no matter how flawed, can give you answers much quicker than other sources and its readily available and just plain handy.  At least, start there then, trust but verify.

SPRING HAS SPRUNG

April 13, 2017


Each year the Brainerd Baptist Church of Chattanooga sponsors a “Spring Garden Party”.  As you might expect, this event determines Spring is not only here but winter will NOT come again for several months.  It is a marvelous event for their church and serves to get everyone together celebrating the beginning of the season.  Anyone living in Chattanooga can only look at the pollen count to know that bushes, shrubs, flowers, trees, etc. are in full bloom.  One great thing about the event is the marvelous creativity shown by table settings individually “constructed” for each table.  Brainerd Baptist facility is called the BX, and houses two basketball floors, weight room, in-door track, meeting rooms, and small diner.  It really is the meeting place for not only members of the Brainerd Baptists Church but the neighborhood in general.  We are going to take a pictorial look at several striking examples of the creativity demonstrated for each table. Not much narrative with this post—only digital photographs.  One thing I’m going to ask—please notice the great variety in table settings themselves.  Plates, utensils, napkins, etc.  They are unique for each table and definitely complement the overall theme for each table. I’m going to apologize up front for the photographic quality of several JPEGs.  I used the camera in my phone. Sometimes a hit and sometimes a miss.  Let’s take a look.

Above the stage was a three-panel sign announcing the event and welcoming the participants.

As you can see, the floor is immense and obviously large enough to accommodate approximately fifty (50) tables seating eight (8) individuals.  The efforts expended by the church members occurs over an entire week.  Each table is numbered with occupants of each table being asked by the host of that table to join the event.  A roster of table numbers and names if provided at the entry.

The Table 6 host has place settings that look like cabbage leaves.  Please note the purple cabbage leaves wrapped around the glasses.  Really unique.

You might have to look, but there are three (3) crosses displayed in the planter for this table arrangement. Notice the intricate design on the plates.

We all love popcorn.  This table represents an afternoon at the movies.

Table 21 is the jelly bean table.  The colors do not show up that much but there are beans in each jar.

Table 20

Table 13 is decorated with typical spring flowers called forsythia found in the Southeastern portion of our country.

The host for this table has gone international.  Beautiful centerpiece representing clothes worn in other countries.

The center piece displays white tulips.  I have no idea as to where the host found these beautiful flowers. Please note the napkins and utensils.

Table 4 shows a lamb as the centerpiece. Definitely a religions theme. Again, please note the salad plates showing a picture of a lamb.

We all love Easter bunnies.  The eggs are real hard-boiled eggs.

Table 17—Tea Cups

This table setting was by far the tallest with sunflowers or daisies gracing the centerpiece. You cannot really tell from this JPEG but each individual plate has the name of the person that will be sitting in that position. Really creative.

While walking the indoor track, I took a picture of tallest center piece from above.

This table featured the plate shown above at each of the eight positions. The color of the place mats varied from chair to chair.

Table 36 shows hot air balloons floating away.

The photo of Table 35 is a bit washed out but the colors were striking with this one.

Table 38 shows a vase with coffee beans as the center piece.  Really creative and colors were contrasting which gave a distinctive appearance.  If you look very carefully, you will notice individual Frappuccino “offerings” as favors.

You cannot imagine the beautiful spring flowers created by the host of table 30.

I certainly hope you enjoyed the tour.  Not much text—just beautiful and creative displays.


BIOGRAPHY:

Born in Louisiana in 1925, Elmore Leonard was inspired by Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front. Leonard’s determination to be a writer stayed with him through a stint in the U.S. Navy and a job in advertising. His early credits include mostly Westerns, including 3:10 to Yuma. When that genre became less popular, Leonard turned to crime novels set in Detroit, Michigan, including Get ShortyJackie Brown and Out of Sight. The prolific writer died in Detroit on August 20, 2013, at age 87.

Famed Western/crime novelist Elmore John Leonard Jr. was born on October 11, 1925, in New Orleans, Louisiana. The early part of Leonard’s youth was largely defined by his family’s constant moves, which were the result of his father’s job as a site locator for General Motors. Not long after his 9th birthday, however, Leonard’s family found a permanent home in Detroit, Michigan.

It was in Detroit that Leonard got hooked on a serialization of the Erich Maria Remarque novel All Quite on the Western Front in the Detroit Times. The book became an inspiration for Leonard, who decided he wanted to try fiction writing as well. He wrote his first play that same year, when he was in fifth grade, and would go on to write for his high school paper.

After graduating from high school in 1943 and serving three subsequent years in the U.S. Navy, Leonard returned home and enrolled at the University of Detroit. As a college student, he pushed himself to write more, and graduated in 1950 with a dual degree in English and philosophy. Still an unknown, however, Leonard didn’t have the means to strike out on his own as a writer. Instead, he found work with an advertising agency, using his off time to draft stories—many of them Westerns.

When the popular demand for Westerns waned in the 1960s, Leonard focused on a new genre: crime. With stories often set against the gritty background of his native Detroit, Leonard’s crime novels, complete with rich dialogue and flawed central characters, earned the writer a group of dedicated readers. It wasn’t until the 1980s, however, that Leonard truly became a star. The man who never got enough publicity buzz, according to his fans, was suddenly appearing everywhere. In 1984, he landed on the cover of Newsweek under the label the “Dickens of Detroit.” Hollywood came calling shortly after, and many of Leonard’s novels were adapted into movies, including the crime smashes Get Shorty and Jackie Brown.

THE HOT KID:

That’s where we come in.  The title “HOT KID” refers to young Deputy U.S. Marshal Carl Webster, a quick-drawing, incredibly slick young man who wants to become the most famous lawman west of the Mississippi, and does little to hide his vanity. At fifteen (15) years of age, Webster witnessed the vicious Emmet Long shooting an officer in a drugstore robbery, but what rankled him the most is that Long snatched away Webster’s peach ice-cream cone and called him a “greaser.” Webster gets his revenge six years later by making Long the first in what will become an impressive list of vanquished outlaws, and he seals his fame with a cool catchphrase: “If I have to pull my weapon, I’ll shoot to kill.” (Funny how often he “has” to pull it.) Webster’s chief rival is Jack Belmont, the black-hearted son of an oil millionaire who’s out to show up his dad by knocking off more banks than Pretty Boy Floyd. Both stand to gain from the purple pen of Tony Antonelli, a True Detective magazine writer who follows the story as it develops, and plans to stretch his two-cents-a-word bounty to the limit.

In the “The Hot Kid” , bank robbers have become so common that “thief” seems close to a legitimate occupation, right alongside gun moll, bootlegger, and prostitute. Set over thirteen (13) years in ’20s and ’30s Oklahoma and Kansas City, the book is populated by characters looking to make names for themselves, joining legends like Bonnie and Clyde, Machine Gun Kelly, and John Dillinger in headlines and crime magazines across the country. In this world, notoriety means more than money, and that counts for figures on both sides of the law, who engage in a game of one-upmanship that has little to do with the usual interests of crime or justice. Though Leonard doesn’t sketch them as broadly as the colorful hoods found in his contemporary crime novels, the ambitions of these larger-than-life characters take on infectiously comical dimensions.

READER COMMENTS:

I certainly enjoyed the book and must admit it was my first Elmore Lenord read.  I do NOT know why I have not stumbled upon his works before since he has written eighty-seven books.  I think his is an acquired taste.  There is absolutely no doubt, at least in my mind, about his writing ability.  The very fact he has remained a “top read” over the years is a testament to his style being accepted by most avid readers.  He is concise and brief with rhetoric. He knows how to paint a story and keep the reader interesting.  This is not one of those books you cannot put down, but it is one you definitely want to finish.  In changing from Westerns to Crime, he maintains your interest to the point you really must find out how the darn thing ends.  I can definitely recommend “The Hot Kid” to you. It’s fairly short and will involve a couple of days on and off or your time.  READ IT.

I like to include reviews of others who have read this book.  I do this frequently. Remember, there is not much difference between a lump of coal and a diamond.  Everyone has their own perspective and that’s what I like to do with the comments below.

DAVID:   FOUR STAR:  My first Elmore Leonard novel. He’s a terse, pacey author, and The Hot Kid is pretty much Hollywood in a book, but a nicely-filmed Hollywood with engaging if not terribly deep characters.

ANDREW P:   FOUR STAR:  This book came to my attention in an unusual way. I just listened to the audible version of NOS4A2 by Joe Hill and at the end the author gives some recommendations on audio books. ‘The Hot Kid’ was one that he praised so I used my next audible credit on it.

EVA SMITH:  FIVE STAR:   In one of life’s little coincidences, I was sorting through books and came across two by Elmore Leonard. I’d read them so long ago that I’d forgotten most of the plot points and the writing was so good that I gave both of them a re-read. Mr. Leonard picked that week to die so I saw it as a sign that I should seek out more of his books. Just finished “The Hot Kid.” Excellent.

BENJAMIN THOMAS:  FIVE STAR:  Elmore Leonard is a writer after my own heart. He started with westerns and then turned to crime fiction, becoming one of the best-selling crime fiction writers of all time. When I saw the audio book, “The Hot Kid” on the library shelves this time, I just couldn’t pass it up because I knew I’d be in for a treat. I also needed a relatively short book this time so I could complete it before the end of the year.

JEFF DICKSON:  FIVE STAR:  A really, really good tale by Leonard. Story is of a hot shot U.S. Marchall (sp) in Oklahoma and Kansas City area during the depression years and one particular inept criminal he goes after. Highly recommended.

STEVE:  TWO STAR:  This might be my last Leonard novel. Starts out strong, but then the conversations begin sounding familiar. This is probably a good beach book for some, but I found that the writing was a bit too breezy, the dialogue a bit too hip. At this point in his career, I’m tempted to say Leonard can write these in his sleep, but there’s some nice historical details that shows he’s not on auto-pilot. For those who like Leonard, and his period pieces, check out a lesser known title, The Moonshine War.

As always, I welcome your comments.

WILL ROGERS

March 28, 2017


It seems as though our country, our great country, is now having difficulties sensible people could solve if they had the resolve to do so.  Republican, Democrat, Liberal, Conservative, Right, Left, Moderate, Independent, we just do not seem to want to come together to resolve our most pressing problems.  We are remarkably fortunate in this country to have a very “deep bench”.  We have people who can do things, do them properly, and do them correct the first time.  You would think with this reality, we could at least come together to discuss our differences.

Some countries simply do not have the capability to accomplish.  Hundreds, maybe thousands, of women travel miles each day just to “fetch” water for their families. Hundreds of children die each day due to malnutrition.  Little girls in some parts of the world still undergo the painful and humiliating process of Female Genital Mutilation.  Honor killings take the lives of hundreds each year.  Individuals seeking only to express freedoms we take for granted.

I think no one expresses our human condition better than Will Rogers. Will Rogers was an American humorist, actor and author best known for his Broadway and film performances, as well as his folksy persona. In 1905, Rogers began performing a lasso act on the vaudeville circuit. His charm and humor, along with his technical ability, made Rogers a star somewhat overnight. Audiences responded with enthusiasm to his off-the-cuff remarks delivered while performing elaborate roping tricks. Rogers parlayed his vaudeville success into a Broadway career. He debuted in New York in 1916, performing in The Wall Street Girl. This led to many more theatrical roles, including headlining appearances in the Ziegfeld Follies. Rogers also brought his act to the burgeoning medium of the moving picture. He appeared in dozens of silent films, often playing a country bumpkin trying to negotiate the modern world.

In addition to acting, Rogers became nationally known as a writer. He penned a column for the Saturday Evening Post that ran in newspapers across the country. His columns dealt with contemporary issues from a perspective of small town morality, emphasizing the integrity of working people. It was a viewpoint that resonated in the rapidly industrializing twentieth century United States. Many of his books, including The Cowboy Philosopher on Prohibition and There’s Not a Bathing Suit in Russia, achieved best-seller status.

Rogers’s fame had eclipsed his country bumpkin persona by 1930. No longer believable as an uneducated outsider, he was able to voice his characteristic wit and wisdom while playing a professional. Legendary director John Ford worked with Rogers on three of these later films—Doctor Bull, Judge Priest and The Steamboat Round the Bend. After filming concluded on the final Ford film, in 1935, Rogers set out on a trip to Alaska. An avid aviation enthusiast, he planned to explore remote stretches by plane as well as on foot.

A digital picture of Will Rogers is given below.  I have chosen this JPEG to give you some indication of his public persona.

One thing that greatly endeared Rogers to a loving audience was, as mentioned earlier, his off-the-cuff remarks.  I would like to indicate several of those now.

  • Everything is funny, as long as it’s happening to somebody else.
  • Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.
  • If advertisers spent the same amount of money on improving their products as they do on advertising then they wouldn’t have to advertise them.
  • Chaotic action is preferable to orderly inaction.
  • An onion can make people cry but there’s never been a vegetable that can make people laugh.
  • Take the diplomacy out of war and the thing would fall flat in a week.
  • If Stupidity got us into this mess, then why can’t it get us out?
  • Liberty doesn’t work as well in practice as it does in speeches.
  • A remark generally hurts in proportion to its truth.
  • If I studied all my life, I couldn’t think up half the number of funny things passed in one session of congress.
  • This country has come to feel the same when Congress is in session as when the baby gets hold of a hammer.
  • Our constitution protects aliens, drunks and U.S. Senators.
  • People who fly into a rage always make a bad landing
  • If you ever injected truth into politics you have no politics.
  • About all I can say for the United States Senate is that it opens with a prayer and closes with an investigation.
  • What the country needs is dirtier fingernails and cleaner minds.
  • There ought to be one day – just one – when there is open season on senators.
  • The only difference between death and taxes is that death doesn’t get worse every time Congress meets.
  • When the Oakies left Oklahoma, and moved to California, it raised the I.Q. of both states.
  • If you want to be successful, it’s just this simple. Know what you are doing. Love what you are doing. And believe in what you are doing.
  • A fool and his money are soon elected
  • The man with the best job in the country is the vice-president. All he has to do is get up every morning and say, ‘How is the president?’
  • Live in such a way that you would not be ashamed to sell your parrot to the town gossip.

There are many many others but you can see his brand of humor is right on the money especially with today’s political climate.  A little humor never really hurt anyone.

BLACK LIGHT

March 25, 2017


Black Light is the second in a series of books written by Stephen Hunter with Bob Lee Swagger as the main character.  You might have seen the movie “The Shooter” which told the story of Bob Lee and how he was accused of being an assassin and how he exacted revenge on his accusers.   That was the first book in the Bob Lee Swagger series.

I do NEED TO TELL YOU, it is NOT a book for the politically correct.  If you are a snowflake looking for a safe place when offended, you will not be amused.  The language is “R” rated as well as text describing multiple acts of absolute violence.  The discovery of a young black teen-ager who has been raped and strangled to death is detailed and extremely gruesome.  FAIR WARNING.

Former Marine sniper Bob Lee Swagger has finally put his past behind him until he meets Russell Pewtie.  Pewtie wants to write a book about Bob Lee’s father, Earl, who was a state trooper in Arkansas. He died in a shoot-out in Blue Eye, Ark., in 1955.  The link between Pewtie and Bob Lee, ties the first three Hunter novels together. This link is that Lamar Pye, the escaped con who almost killed Pewtie’s father in Dirty White Boys, turns out to be the son of one of the men who killed Earl. Behind that death, lies a forty-year-old conspiracy somehow tied to the brutal murder of a young black teenager mentioned above.  Earl Swagger was investigating that murder on the day he died. The plot is fast-paced, well-constructed and builds to a pulse-pounding night ambush that echoes the finale of Point of Impact but that stands on its own as a classic one-on-one confrontation. Other echoes of the earlier novels sound as well, giving this one the feel of a recapitulation, or a farewell. But then Hunter has set a high standard for himself-and while this novel doesn’t match the escalating craziness of Dirty White Boys or the stone-cold efficiency of Point of Impact, it should seal his reputation as an author who not only can write bestselling thrillers, but write them exceedingly well.

Mr. Hunter, in my opinion, is a MASTER “wordsmith”. He demonstrates the remarkable ability to craft a story that could have multiple endings.  His writing style is very purpose-driven and gives the reader the sense of “I cannot put this down until I read one more chapter”.  In Black Light, the last three chapters leave you with the thought—“I did not see that coming”.  The ending is just that surprising.

I would now like to give you some idea as to reviews posted online from individuals who have read Black Light.  As you can see, readers are as enthusiastic as I about Hunter’s writing.

Mike Fench— Another 5-star book in the Bob Lee Swagger series! This book features Bob Lee looking into the death of his father, Earl, an Arkansas State Trooper shot in an attempted arrest of 2 killers. Kept me riveted from beginning to end WARNING: This book is far from being PC!

Rick– Some negative reviews have called ‘Black Light’ predictable, racist and violent. Yeah, what’s your point? Look, this is a book in Stephen Hunter’s ‘Bob Lee Swagger’ series. Swagger is an ex-Marine sniper in the south. He hunts bad guys. Violent? I should HOPE so!  As he so often does, and does so well, Hunter reprises characters from past novels. It’s like running into old friends (or enemies, as the case may be), but knowing these recurring characters is NOT a prerequisite for enjoying any of the Hunter novels.

Susan— And this one is the best Stephen Hunter yet. This guy can flat tell a story. Some of the plot is not even interesting (I’m just not fascinated by the intricacies of various guns) but even so, his stories are just so compelling.

Michael Burke— Never lets up for a minute you’re in it from beginning to end it hardly gives you time to breath. The writing is spare and still fulsome I enjoyed the pictures it paints of the Arkansas hills in the dust and sweat. And of several very interesting characters who I look forward to reading about in the future.

Christopher Bunn— Best thriller I’ve read in a very long time. Solid characters. Great motivations. Excellent pacing. Good dialogue. Very intriguing plot twists that advance with just enough foreshadowing and hints to keep you hooked, but not enough information to allow easy guessing. Perfect villain. Hunter knows what he’s doing. Refreshing to read a book that maintains all the way to the end, particularly these days. Rare thing.

Each to his own.  The reviews above are samplings of five star ratings that several readers have given this book.  I can certainly agree that Black Light is a book worth reading, if for no other reason, the writing style of Mr. Hunter is amazing.  A truly great author.

As always, I welcome your comments.

 

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