Thursday, May 31, 2007

Think This is a Scam? - Uh-huh!

I received the following email on May 22:

from "Mr.William Moris" May 22
date May 22, 2007 6:12 PM

Before proceeding, I wish to introduce myself to you; I am William Moris a staff of Natwest Bank plc London.I am the head of the accounts department.I am pleased to get across to you for a very urgent and profitable business proposal which I believe will profit the both of us after completion. I contacted you after a careful thought that you might be capable of handling this business transaction, which i explained below. The sum of ( £ 12,500,000.00 Million Pounds), has been floating as unclaimed since 2000 in my bank as all efforts to get across to the his relatives of our client who deposited the money have hit the stones. There is this immigrant Mr. Andreas schranner,property magnate who was based in the U.K,who appens to be one of our very good clients. On the 25Th of July 2000, Mr. Andreas schranner, his wife Maria , their daughter Andréa eich, her husband Christian, and their children katharina and maximilian all died in the air France concord plane crash bound for New York in their plan for a world cruise.All attempts to trace his next of kin were fruitless that Mr. Andreas Schranner did not declare any next of kin or relation in all his official documents, including his bank deposit paperwork in my bank.According to the British Law. The money will revert to the ownership of the British government if nobody applies to claim the fund. To avoid this money being sent to the British treasury as unclaimed funds, I have decided to seek your assistance to have you stand as his next of kin so that the said fund ( £ 12,500,000.00 million pounds), would be released in your name as the next of kin and paid into your account.All documents and proof that will have you claim this fund without stress will be forwarded to you upon your response to this mail more so, i want to inform you that i have unanimously agreed to offer you (£4m) of the total sum for the assistance and role you are going to play in this transaction,(£2m)will be given to charity organisations in your country with your supervision while the remaining will be for me. Please send your confidential telephone and fax number in your reply to:


Check out the grammar. I don't think it is from a native-English-speaking person. But then again, I encountered some people in Stranraer, Scotland who I thought were speaking English, but I could understand very few words.

Elizabeth Blackwell died today – 97 years ago

English & U.S. physician Elizabeth Blackwell was born on February 3, 1821 in Bristol, England. She said, “If society will not admit of woman's free development, then society must be remodeled.” (Amen!) She also said, “Our school education ignores, in a thousand ways, the rules of healthy development.” {1} (Amen! Amen!!)... She died in 1910 in Hastings, Sussex, England.

German war criminal Adolph Eichmann was born on March 19, 1906 in Solingen, Germany. He said, “Now that I look back, I realize that a life predicated on being obedient and taking orders is a very comfortable life indeed. Living in such a way reduces to a minimum one's need to think.” {2} (Amen!)... He died in 1962.

U.S. educator Edith Hamilton was born on August 12, 1867 in Dresden, Germany. She said, “Theories that go counter to the facts of human nature are foredoomed.” {3} (Now if we could just decide what constitutes human nature.) She also said, “The fundamental fact about the Greek was that he had to use his mind. The ancient priests had said, ‘Thus far and no farther. We set the limits of thought.’ The Greek said, ‘All things are to be examined and called into question. There are no limits set on thought.’” {3} (And that’s the way it should be.)... She died in 1963 in Washington, D.C.

U.S. nutritionist Adelle Davis was born on February 25, 1904 in central Indiana. She said, “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.” {4} (That may seem backwards and counter-intuitive, but I believe it's true.)... She died in 1974.

Martha Elizabeth Beall Mitchell was born on September 2, 1918. She was the wife of John Mitchell, U.S. Attorney General under President Richard Nixon. She leaked information about the Watergate scandal to the press. She said, “[Nixon] bleeds people. He draws every drop of blood and then drops them from a cliff. He'll blame any person he can put his foot on.” {3} (Oh, my! I guess she didn’t like Nixon very much.)... She died in 1996.

U.S. writer & psychologist Dr. Timothy Leary was born on October 22, 1920 in Springfield, Massachusetts. He said, “If you don't like what you're doing, you can always pick up your needle and move to another groove.” {2} (That sounds like a groovy thing.) He also said, “Think for yourself and question authority.” {2} (They may not like it but do it anyway.)... He died in 1996 in Los Angeles, California.

U.S. comic Charles Pierce was born on July 14, 1926 in Watertown, New York. He said, "The fact that I went from rags to bitches was just one of those quirks of fate written in the stars." {5}... He died in 1999 in North Hollywood, California.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Hermann Broch died today – 56 years ago

German writer Hermann Broch was born on November 1, 1886 in Vienna, Austria. He said, “The world has always gone through periods of madness so as to advance a bit on the road to reason.” {1} (And I’m sick and tired of all the madness.)... He died in 1951 in New Haven, Connecticut.

English writer Christopher “Kit” Marlowe was born on February 6, 1564 in Canterbury, England. He said, “Money can't buy love, but it improves your bargaining position.” {1} (Let me jot that down in my checkbook.)... He died in 1593 in Deptford, England.

English writer Alexander Pope was born on May 21, 1688 in London, England. He said, “A man should never be ashamed to own he has been in the wrong, which is but saying, in other words, that he is wiser today than he was yesterday.” {1} (I know I think I believe I’m wiser.)... He died in 1744.

French philosopher Jean Francois Marie Arouet de Voltaire was born on November 21, 1694 in Paris, France. He said, “Anything too stupid to be said is sung.” {2} (That does not apply to my songs. Thank you very much.)... He died in 1778 in Paris, France.

U.S. inventor Wilbur Wright was born on April 16, 1867 in Millville, Indiana. He was the brother of Orville. He said, “It is possible to fly without motors, but not without knowledge and skill.” {3} (That’s true of a lot of things.) He also said, “Those who live by the sea can hardly form a single thought of which the sea would not be part.” {3} (That’s probably also true of the mountains and the desert and the... fill-in-the-blank.) He also said, “What's important is promising something to the people, not actually keeping those promises. The people have always lived on hope alone.” {3} (Sadly, that seems to be very true.)... He died in 1912 in Dayton, Ohio.

Russian writer Boris Pasternak was born on February 10, 1890 Moscow, Russian Empire. He is best known for his novel “Doctor Zhivago”. He said, “As for the men in power, they are so anxious to establish the myth of infallibility that they do their utmost to ignore truth.” {1} He also said, “Literature is the art of discovering something extraordinary about ordinary people, and saying with ordinary words something extraordinary.” {1}... He died in 1960 in Peredelkino, USSR.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

John Gunther died today – 37 years ago

U.S. writer John Gunther was born on August 30, 1901 in Chicago, Illinois. According to Wikipedia, “He is best known today for the memoir ‘Death Be Not Proud’ about the death of his teenage son, Johnny Gunther, from a brain tumor.” He said, “There are no generalizations in American politics that vested selfishness cannot cut through." {1} (Bless those vested interests – NOT.)... He died on May 29, 1970 in New York City, New York.

English chemist & physicist Sir Humphrey Davy was born on December 17, 1778 in Penzance, Cornwall, United Kingdom. He discovered “laughing gas” (nitrous oxide). (Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! That’s enough.) He said, "The most important of my discoveries have been suggested to me by my failures." {1} (Wow! Just think how many discoveries I will make.)... He died in 1829 in Switzerland.

English lyricist William S. Gilbert was born on November 18, 1836 in London, England. He said (about his collaborator composer Arthur Sullivan), "He is like a man who sits on a stove and then complains that his backside is burning." {1} (But Art wrote such pretty music.)... Mr. Gilbert died in 1911 in Harrow Weald, Middlesex, England.

U.S. actor John Barrymore was born on February 15, 1882 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He said, "Die? I should say not, dear fellow. No Barrymore would allow such a conventional thing to happen to him." {1} (A bit pompous, don’t you think?)... He died in 1942 in Los Angeles, California.

U.S. actress Fanny Brice was born on October 29, 1891 in New York City, New York. She said, “Let the world know you as you are, not as you think you should be, because sooner or later, if you are posing, you will forget the pose, and then where are you?” {2} (So true. So true.)... She died in 1951 in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California.

U.S. actress Mary Pickford was born as Gladys Louise Smith on April 8, 1893 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. She was in over 200 films. She said, "This thing that we call 'failure' is not the falling down, but the staying down." {1} (That’s my theory of failure, too – especially after reading it.)... She died in 1979 in Santa Monica, California.

U.S. Representative & Senator-from-Maine Margaret Chase Smith was born on December 14, 1897 in Skowhegan, Maine. She said, "One of the basic causes for all the trouble in the world today is that people talk too much and think too little." {1} (Amen! Amen!! Amen!!!)... She died in 1995 in Skowhegan, Maine.

U.S. Senator-from-Arizona Barry Goldwater was born on January 1, 1909 in Phoenix, Arizona. He said, “I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.” {2}... He died in 1998 in Paradise Valley, Arizona.

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Monday, May 28, 2007

Anne Bronte died today – 158 years ago

English writer Anne Bronte was born on January 17, 1820 in Thornton, Yorkshire, England. She was the sister of Charlotte Bronte and Emily Bronte. She said, “There is always a ‘but’ in this imperfect world.” {1} (There are probably a lot more ‘buts’ than we would like.)... She died on May 28, 1849 in Scarborough, England.

U.S. writer Noah Webster was born on October 16, 1758 in Hartford, Connecticut. He said, “Language is not an abstract construction of the learned, or of dictionary makers, but is something arising out of the work, needs, ties, joys, affections, tastes, of long generations of humanity, and has its bases broad and low, close to the ground” {2} (And here I thought it all came from dictionaries.)... He died in 1843 in New Haven, Connecticut.

Austrian psychologist Alfred Adler was born on February 7, 1880 in Vienna, Austria. He said, "The chief danger in life is that you may take too many precautions." {3} (And sometimes not enough.) He also said, “The only normal people are the one's you don't know very well.” {2} (That’s self-evident.) And he also said, “It is easier to fight for one's principles than to live up to them.” {2} (But it’s so much easier that way.)... He died in 1937 in Aberdeen, Scotland.

U.S. comic actor Phil Hartman was born on September 24, 1948 in Brantford, Ontario, Canada. He said, “I benefit from the Mr. Potato Head syndrome. Put a wig and a nose and glasses on me, and I disappear.” {2} (For some of us, it’s for the best.)... He was killed in 1998 in Encino, California.

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Sunday, May 27, 2007

Victor Kiam died today - 6 years ago

Victor Kiam, U.S. sports team the “New England Patriots” former owner, was born on December 7, 1926 in New Orleans, Louisiana. He said, "Even if you fall on your face, you're still moving forward." {1} (But you’re probably not moving very fast.) He died on May 27, 2001 in Stamford, Connecticut.

French theologian John Calvin was born on July 10, 1509 in Noyon, Picardie, France. He said, “I consider looseness with words no less of a defect than looseness of the bowels.” {2} (Oh, my!) He also said, “Each eye can have its vision separately; but when we are looking at anything… our vision, which in itself is divided, joins up and unites in order to give itself as a whole to the object that is put before it.” {2} (Oh, my! I couldn’t have said it better myself.) He also said, “Build a man a fire and he will be warm for a day; set him on fire and he will be warm for the rest of his life.” {2} (Oh, triple my!) He died in 1564 in Geneva, Switzerland.

English writer Arnold Bennett was born on May 27, 1867 in Hanley, Staffordshire, England. He said, "A cause may be inconvenient, but it's magnificent. It's like champagne or high heels, and one must be prepared to suffer for it." {1} (Hmmmm.) He also said, “Always behave as if nothing had happened, no matter what has happened.” {3} (How stoic! Well, perhaps not. Look it up.) He also said, “Pessimism, when you get used to it, is just as agreeable as optimism.” {3} (I guess you can get used to anything.) He died in 1931.

Indian leader Jawaharlal Nehru was born on November 14, 1889 in Allahabad, India. He said, “Life is like a game of cards. The hand that is dealt you is determinism; the way you play it is free will.” {4} (But sometimes the deck is stacked.) He died in 1964.

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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Samuel Pepys died today – 304 years ago

Samuel Pepys, and English writer, was born on February 23, 1633 in London, England. According to Wikipedia, “His surname is usually pronounced /piːps/ (the same as the English word peeps) although at the time it could have been pronounced either ‘peeps’, ‘peps’, or ‘peppis’.” Well, I guess that settles that dispute... He was famous for his diaries. He died on May 26, 1703 outside of London, England. He didn’t enter that into his diaries.

P.S. U.S. physician Charles Horace Mayo, born on July 19, 1865, died in 1939. With his father and brother, he started what today is known as the Mayo Clinic. According to, he said, "Worry affects the circulation, the heart, the glands, the whole nervous system. I have never known a man who died from overwork, but many who died from doubt." There’s a lot of truth there... German philosopher Martin Heidegger, born on September 29, 1889, died in 1976. According to, he said, "Every man is born as many men and dies as a single one." This may apply to women, too. He also said, “Man acts as though he were the shaper and master of language, while in fact language remains the master of man.” This may apply to women, too.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Pedro Calderon de la Barca died today – 326 years ago

Pedro Calderon de la Barca, a Spanish writer and dramatist, was born on January 17, 1600 in Madrid, Spain. According to, he said, “Green is the prime color of the world, and that from which its loveliness arises.” (I know someone who loves the color green – and pink.) Mr. de la Barca died on May 25, 1681 in Madrid, Spain. As Three Dog Night, Elvis Presley, Patty Griffin, and Waylon Jennings said, I’ve “Never Been to Spain”, but I’d like to go there.

P.S. U.S. writer Robert Nathan, born on January 2, 1894, died in 1985. He wrote “The Bishop’s Wife” (1928). It was made into a movie. He also wrote “Portrait of Jennie” (1940). It was made into another movie... U.S. writer Sloan Wilson, born on May 8, 1920, died in 2003. He wrote “The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit” (1955) and “A Summer Place” (1958). He was the father of biologist David Sloan Wilson. According to, Mr. S. Wilson said, "A man who wants time to read and write must let the grass grow long." And that’s a good enough reason for me not to mow my lawn today – so that I have the time to read and write – and to not let others do it either – so that they will have time to read and write, too.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Samuel Palmer died today – 126 years ago

Samuel Palmer, an English painter and writer, was born on January 27, 1805 in London, England. According to, he said, "Wise men make proverbs, but fools repeat them." He died on May 24, 1881.

P.S. Polish astronomer Nicholas Copernicus, born on February 19, 1473, died in 1543. He made the world go ‘round – the sun, that is... U.S. writer William Lloyd Garrison, born on December 10, 1805, died in 1879. He made the world freer... U.S. Secretary of State (under President Dwight D. Eisenhower) John Foster Dulles, born on February 25, 1888, died in 1959. He made the world (fill-in-the-blank)... U.S. composer Duke Ellington, born on April 29, 1899, died in 1974. He made the world jazzier. According to, he said, "I merely took the energy it takes to paint and wrote some blues."... English actress Hermione Gingold, born on December 9, 1897, died in 1987. She made the world more eccentric – if that’s possible... British Prime Minister Sir Harold Wilson, born on March 11, 1916, died in 1995. He made the world … more British?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Mary Ashton Livermore died today – 102 years ago

Mary Ashton Livermore, U.S. journalist and advocate of women’s rights, was born as Mary Ashton Rice on December 19, 1820 in Boston, Massachusetts. According to, she said, “Whoever said, 'It's not whether you win or lose that counts.' probably lost." I think she was on to something there. According to, she also said, “Above the titles of wife and mother, which, although dear, are transitory and accidental, there is the title human being, which precedes and out-ranks every other.”

Ms. Livermore died on May 23, 1905 in Melrose, Massachusetts.

P.S. Norwegian writer Henrik Ibsen, born on March 20, 1828, died in 1906... U.S. businessman John D. Rockefeller, Sr., born on July 8, 1839, died in 1937... U.S.
sculptor David Smith, born on March 9, 1906, died in 1965... U.S. writer Lew Welch, born on August 16, 1926, died in 1971. According to, Mr. Welch said, "You can't fix it. You can't make it go away. I don't know what you're going to do about it, but I know what I'm going to do about it. I'm just going to walk away from it. Maybe a small part of it will die if I'm not around feeding it anymore." Wonder about what he was talking? (Eliminating those dangling participles just sounds strange, doesn’t it?) ... U.S. comedienne Moms Mabley, born on March 19, 1894, died in 1975... U.S. actor George Jessel, born on April 3, 1898, died in 1981... U.S. Representative (from Texas) Lloyd Bentsen, born on February 11, 1921, died in 2006.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Maria Edgeworth died today – 158 years ago

Irish writer Maria Edgeworth was born on January 1, 1767 in the county of Oxfordshire in England. In 2003 I was north of Oxfordshire in the county of West Yorkshire, in the town of Holmfirth where the British sitcom “Last of the Summer Wine” is set. I was also once somewhat to the west of there in the county of Somerset, in the town of Bath where I toured the Roman baths and the Bath Abbey and I took a boat tour on the River Avon.

According to, Ms. Edgeworth said, “If we take care of the moments, the years will take care of themselves.” She died on May 22, 1849 in Edgeworthstown, County Longford, Ireland.

P.S. Martha Washington (wife of George Washington), born on June 21, 1732, died in 1802 (or maybe it was June 2, 1802)… French writer Victor Hugo, born on February 26, 1802, died in 1885… U.S. writer Langston Hughes, born on February 1, 1902, died in 1967… U.S. naturalist and writer Joseph Wood Krutch, born on November 25, 1893, died in 1970. According to, he said, "Cats are rather delicate creatures and they are subject to a good many ailments, but I never heard of one who suffered from insomnia." Amen!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Trial of Blog Reader Project

I just registered to try something called the "Blog Reader Project." If you don't mind trying it, access it here:

Please take my Blog Reader Project survey.

Please add a comment for any problem(s) you encounter. Thanks.

Arthur Annesley Ronald Firbank died today – 81 years ago

English writer and novelist Arthur Annesley Ronald Firbank was born on January 17, 1886 in London, England. According to, Mr. Firbank said, "The world is disgracefully managed, one hardly knows to whom to complain.” Well, I could provide a very, very long list, but it probably wouldn’t do any good... Mr. Firbank died on May 21, 1926 in Rome, Italy. I was in Rome on a Globus tour. Rome has a lot of old ruins... and probably some new ones, too.

P.S. U.S. social worker Jane Addams, born on September 6, 1860, died in 1935... U.S. philosopher and writer Eric Hoffer, born on July 25, 1902, died in 1983... English actor Sir John Gielgud, born on April 14, 1904, died in 2000... English novelist Dame Barbara Cartland, born on July 9, 1901, died in 2000.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Song Featured on Blog - Yippee!

On Wednesday, May 16, 2007, I was pleased to see my post of my song "I May Want To Try To Be President" appear on another website. On, the host said, "Blogger Roger Ritthaler’s take on running for president. I noticed the strong resemblance of the character in this video to the candidates in the South Carolina GOP debate last night, Ron Paul excluded." I don't know about the "strong resemblance" to my stick man, but I did like the recognition - even if short-lived (you have to check the May Archives and scroll down a ways to find it now). I conceived the song after seeing so many people decide to maybe - perhaps - run for U.S. president in 2008. I thought that I'd just compose a little ditty about my perception of the situation. Besides, I don't mind being elected, if that's what "the people" want... Uh, huh!

P.S. I chose the stickman - or stickwoman, if you please - because it was easy to draw with MSPaint. Isn't Microsoft wonderful? Now I can be an artist, too... Uh, huh!

Sunday Misnomers – or Is That Sundry?

Every Sunday I try to watch “Meet the Press”, “Face the Nation”, and “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” to hear what other people are saying, to pass the time, or just to fume – usually the latter. But I must say that the first two shows are misnamed.

There is hardly ever much “the press” on “Meet the Press.” But there is an abundance of politicians. Therefore, perhaps it should be retitled “Meet the Politicians.” Today I was particularly irritated with Newt Gingrich when he said, “I am not comfortable with the current state in Iraq.” Wake up, Newt. Don’t be so smug. Find the right word. Comfort is when the electricity is working every time you want it. Comfort is eating food every time you want it. Comfort is buying things every time you want it. Comfort is feeling secure every time you want it… The situation in Iraq is a disaster. Fix it. They don’t need fluffy slippers.

And then there’s “Face the Nation.” Mostly it’s face those cameras – after the appropriate make-up has been applied. So it should be retitled “Face the Cameras.” That’s basically what they all do anyway… And by the way, I wonder who picks those guests. They’ve never asked me to be on the show … and I doubt if they ever will … unless they have to ask … because I’ve become so influential … from so many people agreeing with what I have to say … which probably … Oh, my! I’m rambling. Cheers!

Henry Maximilian “Max” Beerbohm died today – 51 years ago

Max Beerbohm (pronounced bēr´bōm) was born on August 24, 1872 in London, England. He was an English writer, artist, illustrator, drama critic, satirist, parodist, and caricaturist. He was busy. He contributed to the famous “Yellow Book.” It wasn’t like our Yellow Books where we can find places to buy things. I have been in London, England. I’ve also been in London, Kentucky (on my way to Gatlinburg, Tennessee). All three are very interesting towns.

Mr. Beerbohm died on May 20, 1956 in Rapallo, Italy. I have never been to Rapallo. But I was on a Globus Tour to Genova (Genoa to most of us) for lunch, so I was close by. From there, we went to Milano (Milan to most of us). I climbed about 150 feet – I mean, I took the elevator – to the roof of Milan's Cathedral. What a view! Italy’s a nifty country.

P.S. Italian explorer Christopher Columbus, born on August 26, 1451, died in 1506... French soldier and statesman Marquis de Lafayette, born on September 6, 1757, died in 1834... U.S. comic actress Gilda Radner, born on June 28, 1946, died in 1989.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

James Boswell died today – 212 years ago

Scottish biographer James Boswell was born on October 29, 1740 in Edinburgh, Scotland. He died on May 19, 1795 in London, England. Edinburgh is not pronounced “e-din-burg,” as you might suppose. It’s pronounced “Ed-in-burra,” as you probably would never suppose. (Now you can impress your friends.) A high point of the city – literally – is the Edinburgh Castle at about 250 feet. A low point of the city is the river bed of the Water of Leith which eventually flows into an estuary called the Firth of Forth. (How’s that for a little tongue-twister?) I was in Edinburgh in 2003, in case you wanted to know. It’s a neat city.

P.S. British Prime Minister William E. Gladstone, born on December 29, 1809, died in 1898... Welsh writer T. E. Lawrence, born on August 15, 1888, died in 1935... U.S. poet Ogden Nash, born on August 19, 1902, died in 1971... English writer Sir John Betjeman, born on August 28, 1906, died in 1984... Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, born on July 28, 1929, died in 1994.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais died today – 208 years ago

Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais, born on January 24, 1732 in Paris, France, died on May 18, 1799. According to Wikipedia, he was “a watch-maker, inventor, musician, politician, invalid, fugitive, spy, publisher, arms-dealer, and revolutionary (both French and American).” Wow! He sure was busy. According to, Mr. B said, "These days, what isn't worth saying is sung." Amen! I can think of quite a few songs fitting that description.

P.S. U.S. writer Nathaniel Hawthorne, born on July 4, 1804, died in 1864... Austrian composer Gustav Mahler, born on July 7, 1860, died in 1911... U.S. historian James Truslow Adams, born on October 18, 1878, died in 1949 and, according to, said, "The freedom now desired by many is not freedom to do and dare but freedom from care and worry." It hasn’t changed much since 1949, has it?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Charles Maurice de Tallyrand-Perigord died today – 169 years ago

Charles Maurice de Tallyrand-Perigord, born on February 2, 1754 in Paris, France, died on May 17, 1838. He was a French diplomat who was involved in some way in the French Revolution around 1789. He was best known as Tallyrand, or perhaps Mr. T.

P.S. U.S. educator Robert M. Hutchins, born on January 17, 1899, died in 1977... U.S. bandleader Lawrence Welk, born on March 11, 1903, died in 1992… U.S. actor Tony Randall, born on February 26, 1920, died in 2004.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Touch Back or Touch Down

A new – “new” in the sense that it hasn’t been touched in a while – immigration bill is being considered. I thought that one of its provisions was especially interesting. That item is called “touch back.” The border-jumpers will have to go back to their countries of origin for a short time – probably a nanosecond, but it’ll take longer than that just to get back through the U.S. border.

I thought that we could streamline this process a lot. Soil from the countries of origin could be imported into the U.S. (Remember those coffins in the scary movies?) This will eliminate all that wasted time and effort so that they can get back to work, or whatever they were doing before. I’m sure that there’ll be no shortage of business ventures for this... Anyway, just something to consider.

George Ade died today – 63 years ago

George Ade was born on February 9, 1866 in Kentland, Indiana. He graduated from Purdue University. He died on May 16, 1944. He was a U.S. humorist. The entry on him in Wikipedia says that he wrote during a time in U.S. history when values were shifting “toward philistinism, greed, and dishonesty.” Wow! I’m sure glad the U.S. got over the greed and dishonesty or we’d be in a terrible mess today.

Since Wikipedia used the word “philistinism”, I just had to see what it said about it. According to, “A person called a Philistine (in the relevant sense), is said to despise or undervalue art, beauty, intellectual content, and/or spiritual values. Philistines are also said to be materialistic.” Well, let me tell you, some “art” just should be despised: it’s just plain silly and ridiculous… And what about “beauty.” Well, if it’s only skin deep, when the skin peels off, there may not be much “beauty” left, so look deeper… What about “intellectual content?” Well, only the “elite” think they know what that is, so ask them… What about “spiritual values?” Where do I start? About everything of which you can think (I know that sounds strange, but I avoided the “dangling participle,” so live with it) has been included in the “spiritual” category… And then last but not least, there’s “materialistic.” Come on. “Give me a break,” as John Stossel has said. Just try living without material. You couldn’t even make a piece of clothing. Think where that would leave us… Shhh. I’m thinking.

P.S. U.S. writer Irwin Shaw, born on February 27, 1913, died in 1984… U.S. comedian Andy Kaufman, born on January 17, 1949, died in 1984... U.S. entertainer Jim Henson, born on September 24, 1936, died in 1990… U.S. entertainer Sammy Davis, Jr., born on December 8, 1925, died in 1990.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Edward Hopper died today – 40 years ago

Edward Hopper, born on July 22, 1882, died on May 15, 1967. He was a realistic painter in the U.S., but not of houses – I don’t think. But I guess he could have been – when he ran out of other things to paint. Anyway, I’ve looked at some of his paintings on line. They don’t seem to be anything I couldn’t do – if I could paint. Check out this site:

A U.S. poet named Emily Dickinson, born on December 10, 1830, died in 1886. A U.S. singer named Frank Sinatra, born on December 12, 1915, died in 1998. You may have heard of one of them.

Monday, May 14, 2007

August Strindberg died today – 95 years ago

August Strindberg, born on January 22, 1849, died on May 14, 1912. He was a Swedish writer. I’ve never read anything he wrote, except a few quotations on the internet. (I guess that doesn’t count.) I have never been to Sweden, although I’d like to see it. According to pictures, the landscape is very beautiful – if you like fresh, cold water, soaring mountains, and winding fiords. I have been close to Sweden. I visited København (we call it Copenhagen) in Denmark. It was very beautiful. I’d like to go back.

P.S. A movie star named Rita Hayworth, born on October 17, 1918, died in 1987. Another movie star named Robert Stack, born on January 13, 1919, died in 2003. Another movie star named Billie Burke, born on August 7, 1885, died in 1970. A U.S. educator named Frances Perkins, born on April 10, 1880, died in 1965. A Russian anarchist (oh, my) named Emma Goldman, born on June 27, 1869, died in 1940.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Sholom Aleichem died today – 91 years ago

Sholom Aleichem, born on February 18, 1859, died on May 13, 1916. He was a Russian writer. Wikipedia says, “The musical ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ (1964) [was] loosely based on Sholom Aleichem's stories about his character Tevye the Milkman.” I remember seeing the movie “Fiddler on the Roof” at the Beverly Theater on Knoxville Avenue in Peoria, Illinois, in the early 1970’s. According to, “The theater remained in operation until the early 90s but has since been demolished and replaced by a Walgreens.” Oh, my! (I’m sure that you wanted to know that.) The movie was three hours long. I remember that there was an intermission. I was probably grateful. They don’t make many – if any - movies that long anymore. For that we’re all grateful.

P.S. An actor named Gary Cooper, born on May 7, 1901, died in 1961. Perhaps you remember him from a movie or two movies or one hundred eight movies. Wow!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch died today – 63 years ago

Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, born on November 21, 1863, died on May 12, 1944. He was a Cornish writer. According to, he said, "O, that I were where I would be, Then would I be where I am not; For where I am I would not be, And where I would be I can not." Wow. I don’t think I could have said it better myself. And I’m reasonably sure that I’ve never read anything he wrote. However, since he used the pseudonym of 'Q', perhaps I did and didn't know it... Nah! Nine! Nyet!

P.S. A singer named Perry Como, born on May 18, 1912, also died in 2001. Perhaps you’ve heard of him.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Max Reger died today – 91 years ago

Max Reger, born as Johann Baptist Joseph Maximilian Reger – good thing he’s known as Max – on March 19, 1873 in Bavaria, died on May 11, 1916. He was a German composer, organist, and pianist. I don’t think I have ever played anything he wrote. I really think I would remember that long name. I mostly prefer Chopin since his music is so melodic.

Wikipedia says (at the present time; it might change tomorrow) that “probably his best known orchestral work [is] the Variations and Fugue on a theme of Mozart (based on the opening theme of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Piano Sonata, K. 331).” I think I’d like to take someone else’s melody and write some variations on it. If anyone has one for me, I would appreciate knowing what it is. If you also have some of the variations worked out and don’t mind me taking the credit for it – just kidding.

There is even a Max Reger Foundation of America. On its site, you can make a donation to support the foundation. I’m not going to give you the link, since I would rather that you send your donation to me. Any amount would be fine, but, in this case, the larger the better. Small is not beautiful when money is involved. You might even want to inquire about monthly bank drafts.

P.S. A businessperson named John D. Rockefeller, Jr., born on January 29, 1874, died today in 1960. A singer named Bob Marley, born on February 6, 1945, died in 1981. Perhaps you’ve heard of one of them.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Joan Crawford died today ... 30 years ago

Joan Crawford, born as Lucille Fay LeSueur on March 23, 1908 in San Antonio, TX, died on May 10, 1977 - a long time ago. I don't remember it, since I was still adjusting to the move to Houston, TX, in 1976. Some time in the 1980's I visited San Antonio. I believe the occasion was for Cinco de Mayo. I had a great time. I don't recall seeing her birthplace - probably because I wasn't looking for it. I have been to San Antonio several times since then. I rather like the city since it is hilly - sort of. I remember complaining often about San Antonio's road system: I thought it was not very well planned. I ... Oh, my. This was supposed to be about Joan Crawford. Oh, well, if you want to read about her and not hear anymore about me, check out the interesting Wikipedia entry at Cheers!

Friday, May 4, 2007

Watch Those $1 Holds

No, I'm not talking about Texas Hold'em. I'm talking about your credit card. A friend was checking a credit card account on-line and discovered a credit hold for $1. (In case you forgot, credit holds are placed before the actual charge to assure the provider of being paid.) Thinking this was strange, a call was placed to the credit card issuer. A person there called the 800 number (attached to the potential charge) to investigate the situation. A foreign language person answered and then transferred the call to another person. After the situation was explained, the telephone was disconnected by the called party. It all seemed very suspicious, so the fraud department of the issuer was notified and its recommended action was taken.

It seems that a person can "test out" a credit card number to see if it is valid. Once that is established, a charge could be placed at any time in the future. I don't know that this is the case here, but it sure seems like it is. The lesson here is to carefully monitor your credit card account. This is especially easy if you have on-line access.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Reduce Gasoline Prices

I have recently been sent an interesting proposal to get the petroleum companies to lower gasoline prices. The letter says, "This was originally sent by a retired Coca Cola executive. It came from one of his engineer buddies who retired from Halliburton." The plan is not to buy any fuel from the most profitable companies - e.g. ExxonMobil - on May 15. Allegedly when their sales decrease, they will lower their prices and others will follow suit. But a friend said that ExxonMobil would just sell its gasoline to other companies, like Walmart, since they don't have their own refineries. So you'll just be buying the same fuel someplace else... Can companies like ExxonMobil just afford to wait it out for ONE day? Why not?

A more long-term solution would be to drive less and use more "mass transit." But we probably love our "independence", lack-of-need-to-plan-ahead, and spontaneity TOO much. For all of that, we need fuel, fuel, and more fuel. Roooooooar!