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Saturday, 24 September 2011

INTERESTING STUFF: 24 September 2011

Category_bug_interestingstuff I'm just back from a flu-fogged week during which there was hardly any media in my life. Hence, a shorter Interesting Stuff today with a bit of an editorial toward the end.


WHITE HOUSE HOME BREW
A couple of weeks ago, 23-year-old Marine Sgt. Dakota Meyer (ret.) was awarded the U.S. Medal of Honor at a White House ceremony. When White House staff contacted Meyer about the upcoming event, the Marine asked if he could have a beer with President Obama. Why, of course, was the answer and it happened the day before the award ceremony:

ObamaandDakotaMeyer

What intrigued me about this little side story, however, is that the White House has been making its own home brew – White House Honey Ale - from the garden beehives.

This wasn't really a secret; I'd just never run across the beer story before. Apparently, home brew in the White House has never been done before the Obamas. You can read more about it all at the Daily Mail.

MAGNIFICENT MINIATURES
Take a look at this well-preserved 1950s bungalow.

Michael Paul Smith House

A lot of houses look like that one in Portland, Oregon. I remember playing on porches just like this one when I was a kid. Now take a look at this same house from another angle:

Michael Paul Smith House with hand

Ha! Don't you love being fooled that way? Michael Paul Smith has been building and photographing the 1950s in miniature for the past 25 years or so. He creates the buildings from scratch and photographs them sometimes indoors, but sometimes he carts the scene outside and uses the real world as a backdrop.

“What started out as an exercise in model building and photography, ended up as a dream-like reconstruction of the town I grew up in," says Smith. "It's not an exact recreation, but it does capture the mood of my memories.”

Smith's work is magical and we can thank Darlene Costner for bringing it to my attention. There are many photos and a good interview here. More photos, especially of works in progress that show the construction process on Flickr. And more here.

Plus a book of Smith's work titled, Elgin Park: An Ideal American Town was published earlier this year.

CRUDE, MEAN, NASTY AND DEPRESSING
At The Thursday Republican debate, when an openly gay soldier serving in Iraq asked the candidates, via YouTube video, how they would treat the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell if they became president, some people in the audience booed the soldier.

Then, as candidate Rick Santorum, in his response, spoke against gays in the military or for a return to DADT (hard to tell from his convoluted answer) cheers of agreement from the audience grew in number and in volume.

And all the candidates stood mute, not one of them rebuking the audience.

All three Republican debates have been marred by crude audience reactions such as cheers when Ron Paul was asked by CNN's Wolf Blitzer if uninsured patients should be left to die. No one denounced that outbreak nor the cheers when Rick Perry mentioned in another debate that he had overseen 234 executions in Texas. (Make that 235 as of this week.)

All my life I've believed – and it appeared evident to me - that except for fringe elements, most Americans of all political leanings were generally in favor of treating each other with respect and supported what is usually called the general welfare. That seems to be gone at the most basic levels of humanity and democracy.

On the state level, Republican governors and local legislators are hell bent on depriving students, the poor, people of color and elders of their right to vote by requiring a government ID they make as difficult to get as possible. One governor wants to drug test people as a requirement for receiving unemployment benefits.

And just yesterday, after three executions around the country this week, the state of Texas scrapped the age-old tradition of allowing condemned prisoners to request a last meal of their choice. A small matter in the larger scheme of things? I don't think so when taken together with all the other hateful things Republicans stand for.

Hatefulness appears to grow stronger every day and yes – mostly from the Republican right. Ben White, writing at Politico Friday morning has noticed this too as he reported on the Thursday debate:

“There were more very depressing moments including the crowd booing for educating the children of illegal immigrants (Booing kids? Really? Even if you disagree with the policy?) and cat calls for an openly gay solider who asked a question on Youtube.

“The GOP would do well to just start holding these debates without an audience because at some point the crowds are going to start killing puppies or something.”

White isn't far off the mark except that the audiences at these events will “start killing puppies or something” as long as their leaders continue to support such policies as death for lack of health coverage and express glee at killing 235 people.

IN CELEBRATION OF THE AUTUMNAL EQUINOX
Well, okay, it's the spring equinox for Peter Tibbles and his countrymen in Australia. Nevertheless, in the northern hemisphere, yesterday was the official start of autumn and nothing represents the season quite like pumpkins.

Here, at the Bronx Zoo, are some huge bears with pumpkins.


Interesting Stuff is a weekly listing of short takes and links to web items that have caught my attention; some related to aging and some not, some useful and others just for fun.

You are all encouraged to submit items for inclusion. Just click “Contact” in the upper left corner of any Time Goes By page to send them. I'm sorry that I probably won't have time to acknowledge receipt and there is no guarantee of publication. But when I do include them, you will be credited and I will link to your blog if you have one.


Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post

Comments

Good stuff! The bears are cute when they play.

Thank you for all your posts. Unfortunately, in re the audiences at the Republican debates, you are SO right. It's very scary.

It's truly astonishing what Dakota Meyer did that earned him the Medal of Honor. Humbling, too.

Michael Paul Smith's miniatures are fascinating. They lack only tiny people.

I'll bet the bears would like pumpkin pie even better than raw pumpkin.

Hope you're feeling better.

Perhaps the audience at these debates are the kind of people that support the candidates. I am not sure how many students are involved in politics, but the poor, some people of color and some elders have better or different things to do than attend these demonstrations of screwy politics. Remember the screened audiences of Pres. Bush's events? How representative was that?

Like you, I am feeling quite discouraged at not only the reactions of the audience, but the lack of reaction by the candidates. It feels as though we are retreating to a repeat of the dark ages. Does history provide any suggestions as to how the stop this slide into hell?

The audience reactions are disheartening. Possibly there is a connection between the general sourness, lack of charity and mean-spiritedness of some of the public and the lack of hope it would be right to feel over the economy? The recent tales of the 9/11 first responders - of how their first instincts was to be all-giving bouyed me up. . .

I well remember the Republican convention when Goldwater was nominated. The delegates shouted down Rockefeller, who growled, "It's a free country!". I have no doubt there were other such incidents. This is not new--just immeasurably worse!

Love the back story on the home brew for the bee hives. Also the Bronx bears and their pumpkins.

As for the GOP audience, they are really off to a bad start for an indpendent like me. Dianne

Ronni--Shades of the old days! I remember making home brew because it was cheaper than "the real thing". Although I don't/didn't drink beer, Hunky Husband and his friends enjoyed it.

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