Monday, May 27, 2013

Food for thought

Even liberals (like me) get uncomfortable with the concept of “government handouts”, but here’s a fact that can’t be denied:

As of March of 2013, the number of Americans relying on “food stamps” increased to a record high of 47.8 million people, or roughly 15% of the population. If you're a regular shopper at Walmart, you may be interested to know that close to 80% of the employees of Walmart nationwide rely on food stamps to survive. The average Walmart store costs U.S. taxpayers $420,000 a year.

Officially, the program is now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

If you do a little further digging, you’ll discover that there are 11 states where the food stamp usage ranges from 16.5 to 20.6% of the population. The states in question are Oregon, New Mexico, Michigan, West Virginia, Louisiana, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, Kentucky, and Tennessee. 7 of the 11 have Republican governors. The exceptions are Oregon, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Although both Kentucky and Tennessee have Democratic governors, Republicans hold the majority in both the House and the Senate.

Although every Republican on the House Agricultural Committee recently voted to cut $20 billion from the program in the next decade, the President who did the most to EXPAND the program was a Republican. This is what Richard Nixon said in 1969:

“That hunger and malnutrition should persist in a land such as ours is embarrassing and intolerable”.

Those words are still true today, and they apply both in our country and throughout the world.

To protest the Republican cuts to the food stamp program, 26 members of Congress (all Democrats) recently tried to live for a week on a food stamp budget. Not surprisingly, they found that it wasn't very easy.

The Nixon administration also passed the Clean Air Act of 1970, the Clean Water Act of 1970, established the Environmental Protection Agency, and passed OSHA. From 1970 to 1975, spending on human resource programs exceeded spending for defense for the first time since the Second World War.

Sadly, none of those accomplishments could happen today, and bi-partisan efforts, like the McGovern-Dole Food Program are a lot more difficult to imagine.

There are 19 Bible verses related to the feeding of the hungry, but nearly 3000 verses that deal with poverty in general. As a result, the recent cuts in the SNAP program would seem to violate Biblical mandates.

The most important reason to INCREASE Federal funding for the SNAP program is economic. According to a recent study by Moody’s, the absolute best way to expand the economy and create jobs is through the food stamp program. For every dollar spent on that program, $1.73 is generated throughout the economy. Business incentives, such as tax breaks, provide the LEAST band for the buck, since they generate only 33 cents in the economy for every dollar spent.

You may or may not agree with my opinion, but at least you’ll have some facts to chew on for a while.

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Kennedy assassination, and other fairy tales

Shortly after noon on November 22, 1963, I was sitting in my chemistry class at Mary T. Hill High School when “the announcement” came over the P.A. system at the school.

President John F. Kennedy had been struck by the bullets of an assassin in Dallas, and had been rushed to Parkland Hospital, where he was declared dead less than an hour later. A ten month investigation by by the Warren Commission in 1963 and 1964 reached the conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald had acted alone in the assassination, and that Jack Ruby also had acted alone when he killed Oswald before he could stand trial. A separate investigation by the KGB reached the same conclusion, but it left he door open for other possibilities.

Although the commission’s report was initially accepted by the American public, polls conducted between 1966 and 2003 found that as many as 80% of Americans have suspected that there was a plot or cover up.

I’ve never been a big believer in conspiracy theories, but I’ve been exposed to a few books in recent years that would lead me to conclude that the conclusions drawn by the Warren Commission may have been fatally flawed.

Just a few days ago, I finished reading a book titled “The Immortals”, written by Michael Korda. Although it IS a work of fiction, it also is based on facts. Included in the “cast of characters” of the book are J. Edgar Hoover, Jack and Bobby Kennedy, Fidel Castro, Jimmy Hoffa, Marilyn Monroe, and a variety of organized crime figures.

You can probably find a copy of the book at your local library, but it’s also available on for next to nothing.

About a year ago, I read Salvatore Bonanno’s book, “Bound by Honor”, which theorized that JFK was actually killed by Cuban exiles and the Costra Nostra. Adding to the intrigue of the story is the fact that Marilyn Monroe (mistress of both Jack and Bobby Kennedy) passed away under mysterious circumstances shortly before her affair with Bobby Kennedy became public knowledge.

In case you’re wondering, Ms. Monroe’s racy performance at John Kennedy’s birthday party in the spring of 1962 was actually his brother Bobby’s idea:

Although the vast majority of the documents related to the assassination of JFK have been made public, the remaining documents related to the case won’t be released until the fall of 2017. Although the release of the final documents probably won’t change the final conclusions of the Warren Commission, there will ALWAYS be lingering doubts about the answer to this question:

“Who REALLY killed JFK?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

You talk too much !!

Centuries before Frankie Ford recorded “You Talk Too Much” in 1960, the perception has long been that women talked more than men.

A number of studies have shown that the average woman speaks about 20,000 words a day, while the average man speaks about 7000. If you believe that these numbers are accurate, that would mean that over the course of a year, an average woman would speak 4.7 million more words than the average male.

Before we delve into whether women actually ARE more verbal than men, you should be aware of the fact that a group of neuroscientists and psychologists, led be Margaret McCarthy, determined that women had 30% more of a protein called Foxp2 protein in a brain area key to language in humans, which would lead you to conclude that women are more chatty than men.

We all know women who can’t seem to shut up, and the lady below is just one example:

However, there are also men who just can’t seem to stop talking, and the man below is an example of THAT phenomenon:

Politicians, of course, are wordier than most people, so it shouldn’t surprise you to learn that the longest filibuster on record is held by Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, who talked for 24 hours and 18 minutes in opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1957. Although he wasn’t in favor of the Civil Rights Act (which actually got passed) he liked black people well enough to father an illegitimate black child (named Essie Mae Washington-Williams) in 1925.

The average person speaks 120 words per minute. If you assume that most people are awake for 16 hours a day, a pace of 20,000 words per day (7200 words per hour) would mean a stream of continuous conversation for slightly more than 3 hours per day. In case you’re wondering, the fastest speaker in the world is a British man named Steve Woodmore, who can speak as fast as 637 words per minute.

In 2007, researchers for Science magazine outfitted 396 college students with recording devices to determine how many words per day they spoke. Statistically, there wasn’t much different. On average, women spoke slightly more than 16,000 words per day, and men spoke slightly less than 16,000 words per day. Oddly enough, the most talkative members of the study (speaking up to a staggering 47,000 words per day) were all men. The LEAST talkative (averaging 700 words per day) were also men.

There IS a difference about what the genders talk about, since women focus more on relationships, and men concentrate on “stuff”, but it simply isn’t true that women talk a lot more than men.

And ..

That’s all that I have to say.

If you’d like to hear Frankie Ford’s original tune one more time, just click on the link below:

You Talk Too Much !!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The ironies of life, part 2

As we all know, life is full of ironies.

If you’re a regular follower of this website, you may be interested to know that the article connecting James Dean and Paul Newman is one of the most popular stories that I’ve published to date.

Another story laced with irony surfaced in a local newspaper a few days ago, but the original source was the very familiar Associated Press. The irony comes, in part, from the link between today’s world and some ancient writing, but also includes a link between religion and an author who would be considered a heathen by some members of our society.

Cursive is rapidly becoming a dying art, but there was a time when it was vital to the preservation of history. During the depths of the Dark Ages, Irish monks painstakingly copied manuscripts of Greek and Latin writers, thus ensuring their survival to the present day.

After the invention of the Gutenberg printing press in the 15th century, writing by hand became less important, and typewriters and personal computers have made the art form even less popular.

In view of the diminishing importance of handwriting, why in the world would someone copy an entire book entirely by hand? More to the point, why would anyone want to copy the most revered of all books, the Bible, when there are already MILLIONS of printed copies of the book already in existence?

No one knows for sure, but the man who could provide those answers for you is a New York resident named Phillip Patterson, who has spent 4 years copying the King James version of the Bible by hand. His project will be completed in the near future, at which point he plans to donate the completed work to his church.

His inspiration for the project came from his domestic partner, who is a Muslim. Patterson himself does not consider himself to be a religious man, even though he DOES attend church on a reasonably regular basis. The fact that he is a gay man would likely cause consternation among those who are quick to drag out a particular verse from Leviticus, but that fact doesn’t diminish the fact his efforts make him a holier man than most of our society.

Homosexuality has existed in various societies since the time of the ancient Greeks, and likely before then. What did Jesus say about homosexuality?

Absolutely nothing, a fact that's ignored by the members of the Westboro Baptist Church.

There have been countless songs over the years about ironic situations, but only ONE song that was titled “Ironic”, which Alanis Morrissette recorded in 1996, when she was 22 years old:

isn‘t that ironic?

An old man turned ninety-eight

He won the lottery and died the next day

It's a black fly in your Chardonnay

It's a death row pardon two minutes too late

And isn't it ironic... don't you think

It's like rain on your wedding day

It's a free ride when you've already paid

It's the good advice that you just didn't take

Who would've thought... it figures

Mr. Play It Safe was afraid to fly

He packed his suitcase and kissed his kids goodbye

He waited his whole damn life to take that flight

And as the plane crashed down he thought

"Well isn't this nice..."

And isn't it ironic... don't you think

It's like rain on your wedding day

It's a free ride when you've already paid

It's the good advice that you just didn't take

Who would've thought... it figures

Well life has a funny way of sneaking up on you

When you think everything's okay and everything's going right

And life has a funny way of helping you out when

You think everything's gone wrong and everything blows up In your face

A traffic jam when you're already late

A no-smoking sign on your cigarette break

It's like ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife

It's meeting the man of my dreams

And then meeting his beautiful wife

And isn't it ironic...don't you think

A little too ironic...and, yeah, I really do think...

It's like rain on your wedding day

It's a free ride when you've already paid

It's the good advice that you just didn't take

Who would've thought... it figures

Life has a funny way of sneaking up on you

Life has a funny, funny way of helping you out

Helping you out