It was a runaway bestseller before the concept existed, when printers set type by hand and the average American owned a Bible and perhaps a couple other books. Depending on the edition (and there were many — 25 the first year alone), it ran about 22,000 words, so few it’s usually called a “pamphlet” rather than a book. Yet this slim octavo that influenced thinking on two continents continues inspiring today. Its author hid his identity, not because many writers either remained anonymous or used Latin pseudonyms then, but because he had narrowly escaped imprisonment for debt and didn’t want to chance it for treason.
Some expect Haiti's 7.0 earthquake death toll to reach over 200,000 lives. Why the high death toll? Northern California's 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake was more violent, measuring 7.1 on the Richter scale, resulting in 63 deaths and 3,757 injuries. The 1906 San Francisco earthquake measured 7.8 on the Richter scale, about eight times more violent than Haiti's, and cost 3,000 lives.
The White House Office of the Press Secretary recently released a report on the White House website entitled "President Obama Signs Executive Order Establishing Council of Governors." The nature of this new Council of Governors and its powers raises the question is to whether it could become the precursor for a national police force.
I recently came across some notes that I had taken during English class my senior year at Ypsilanti High School. People often ask how I became so so knowledgeable; so capable; so well-educated…in contrast to so many teachers in today's schools. Well, long ago, when I was a student in public schools, traditional teachers actually taught traditional subjects, issues, topics, and skills! They also taught almost everyone to read and to turn to books for information and enjoyment. The teachers I had taught lessons like the following:
All candidates for office promise to “improve education,” but when they are elected, they haven’t the faintest idea of how to proceed from there. That’s because the whole idea of education reform is based more on the deliberate falsehoods produced by the educators than on the reality of why our schools are the way they are.
John Yoo's Crisis and Command is a turgid, 524-page love letter to an all-powerful Presidency generally and to dictatorship specifically. His theme? More Caesar, less Senate.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) gropes us and rifles our belongings at airports while robbing us of $7 billion annually. It spends some of that loot on propaganda, whether press releases that the corporate media recycles lest reporters waste time researching and writing their own stories, or a website. The latter featured a column called “Myth Busters” from June 2007 through March 2009. In it, the TSA’s spinners tried to refute whatever bits of truth had escaped the agency’s black hole.
The years go by in a blur. Perhaps that is why we seem to learn so little from history. Years ago there was a popular tune sung by Joni James, among others, that asked a plaintive question: "How Important Can It be?" There was a very melodic line that can, when you are not thinking, cause you to nod your head in agreement:
Manmade global warming, for many, is an Earth-worshipping religion. The essential feature of any religion is that its pronouncements are to be accepted on the basis of faith as opposed to hard evidence. Questioning those pronouncements makes one a sinner. No one denies that the Earth's temperature changes.
Here's a sample of last week's news reporting: "A new decade is about to start ...", "What better way to start a new year and decade ...", and "ABC 'World News' Decade Look-Back." One would think that the first decade of the third millennium came to an end midnight Dec. 31 and the new decade began a minute after midnight. The truth of the matter is that we must wait another year before the new decade begins at 12:01 a.m. Jan. 1, 2011.