Friday, November 28, 2008

Test Yourself


Don’t worry. I am not going to urge you to check once a month in the shower for lumps in your breasts or in your testicles (and rare is the reader who can do both). No, this is a Bible quiz, sort of.

In these remarks are hidden the names of twenty-four books of the Bible. Yes, there are some that are easy to spot; others are harder to judge. So we admit it usually results in lamentations when we can’t find them. This test is a lulu -- kept me looking so hard for the facts that I missed the revelation.

I was in a jam, especially since not all of the names are capitalized and space separates some of the letters. The truth will come to numbers of you, but to others it will be a real job. To all it will be a most fascinating search. We offer some hints. It helps if you are in a humming mood. One lady said she brews coffee while she puzzles over it. Another tries to hose a part of her lawn. (She may try to josh u a little, too.) My friend Joe looks for a hero -- man’s best friend, but he has a pet ermine, not a dog. (He also keeps alms under a door mat. The weird ideas some have.) If you find all twenty-four in an hour, you’re a real pro. Verbs are not as helpful as nouns. Begin by reviewing the books of the Bible; then happy hunting!

This is how people used to amuse themselves in the days before Rubik's Cube and Sudoku.

Let me know via a comment how many you found! I’ll post the solution in a couple of days.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Day



Norman Rockwell said it much better with with paint than I can with words, but the familiar words of an old song are my prayer for America today:


BLESS THIS HOUSE

Bless this house, O Lord, we pray,
Make it safe by night and day.
Bless these walls so firm and stout,
Keeping want and trouble out.

Bless the roof and chimneys tall,
Let Thy peace lie over all.
Bless this door that it may prove
Ever open to joy and love.

Bless these windows shining bright,
Letting in God’s heavenly light.
Bless the hearth ablazing there,
With smoke ascending like a prayer.

Bless the folk who dwell within,
Keep us pure and free from sin.
Bless us all that we may be
Fit, O Lord, to dwell with Thee,
Bless us all that one day we
May dwell, O Lord, with Thee.

(copyright 1927 by May H. Brahe & Helen Taylor)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Award time!


Having just returned with Mrs. RWP from a whirlwind four-day trip to Tampa, Florida, to visit our son’s family, I was catching up on some blog reading last evening when what to my wondering eyes should appear but:

1. A miniature sleigh with eight tiny reindeer.
2. Seven swans a-swimming, six geese a-laying, FIVE GOLD RINGS!
3. Ezio Pinza singing “Some Enchanged Evening” to Mary Martin across a crowded room.
4. An award with my name on it!

The correct answer, class, is 4, an award with my name on it! I discovered that I have been named a Superior Scribbler by none other than Jeannelle of Iowa, not to be confused with Eleanor of Aquitaine, the mother of Richard the Lion-Hearted. Of the six awards this blog has received in its short life, three of them have been from Jeannelle. I am beginning to think she really likes my blog. Here’s the award:


The rules associated with the Superior Scribbler award are:

1. Pass the award on to five (5) deserving bloggers. (More on this below.)
2. Link to the person who gave the award to you. In this instance, that’s Jeanelle, whose fascinating blog about everyday life in Iowa and a few other things as well is called Midlife By Farmlight.
3. Display the award. (I just did.)
4. Link to the blogpost at The Scholastic Scribe that explains the award.
5. Add your own name to the list of recipients at the Scholastic Scribe blogpost and leave a comment.
6. Post these rules on your own blog.

If a Superior Scribbler is anything like a Superior Doodler, I was probably in like Flynn. I have been known to doodle all over a sheet of paper placed in front of me, especially when the person I’m supposed to be listening to is as boring as all get out. I can’t help it; it’s just part of the charm that makes me, well, me. But if the award is meant to recognize the quality of the content of my scribbles, not the quantity, I guess the jury is still out on that one. Nevertheless, I am grateful to Jeannelle for thinking of my blog in her deliberations.

Here are the recipients of my newly-acquired largesse (translation: here are the blogs I have decided to give the award to):

1. The Golden Hill by Sam Gerhardstein, because it is increasingly fascinating. Sam, who lives in Ohio, has had cataract surgery recently and also is a personal friend of one of the astronauts on the space shuttle Endeavor.

2. Ask Dr. Jim, just for fun. Dr. Jim lives near Houston, Texas, and tries to gives serious, well-thought out answers to some pretty quirky questions.

3. Yorkshire Pudding, written by a man in England who has taught school for thirty years. His wife’s name is Shirley and his children are named Ian and Frances, but I have yet to learn his name.

4. My Dad’s A Communist. In spite of its shocking name, this blog is written by a woman named Daphne who lives in England and whose job involves role-playing as a patient to help medical students practice their interviewing techniques. Recently she traveled to Barcelona, Spain, and Paris, France. Tough work, but someone had to do it.

5. The Depp Effect is written by a woman named Jay who also lives in England. She is married to a fellow named Andy and has an inexplicable fascination with actor Johnny Depp.

6. Retirement Rocks is the blog of Ian, who calls himself Silverback. Also English, he spends half the year in England and half the year in Sebring, Florida. Daphne just arrived in America with her husband, Stephen, on her first trip to our fair land, and Ian is showing them Florida.

7. Putz’s blog. It is written by a Mr. Barlow in Utah who has a big family and refers to himself as Putz. I included Putz’s blog because everyone should experience him at least once. His readers love him and cut him a lot of slack to say and do whatever he wants, even though his spelling is inventive and he never corrects typos and his stories can seem a little disconnected. But that’s part of the fun of reading Putz. For a while he didn’t create new posts; he just kept adding to his most recent one. Fortunately, something I said persuaded him to return to a more conventional style of posting. This is blogging without borders. I hereby challenge you to read Putz’s stuff and not judge him based on his spelling, grammar, paragraphing abilities, or lack of any part thereof.

8. All About Whatever is an interesting blog written by Tracie, who calls herself Rosezilla. I envision a cross between Rose Kennedy and Godzilla. Tracie leaves interesting comments on my blog. Tracie lives somewhere near Cape Coral, Florida.

I know, I know, that’s eight, not five. So sue me.

I hope I have introduced you to some new corners of the blogosphere today.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Things you learn after a baptism

At a get-together for family and friends after my grandson's baptism a couple of weeks ago, I met Phil H., who works where my son works. Phil mentioned that he felt he already knew me and my family because he has been reading my blog for several months. I was unaware of this fact because he has never left a comment. That sort of person is called a “lurker,” which has no negative connotations; it just means a person who doesn’t leave a comment. As proof that Phil has read my blog, he asked Mrs. RWP about her new knees during the course of the get-together.

When I said that I thought I probably had only a few readers since I receive only a few comments, he said, “You might be surprised how many people are reading your blog. Why don’t you add a live traffic feed and find out!”

I had never considered doing this, but after thinking about it for a few days I added a live traffic feed about a week ago. It displays the last ten visitors; as a new visitor arrives, the oldest one is dropped from the list. I have been absolutely amazed to learn that in addition to people from several states in the U.S., my blog has been visited in the past week by people from New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, India, Turkey, even three or four people from China.

[Update: In the couple of days since I wrote the preceding sentence, this blog has also had visitors from Australia and South Korea. Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door. I understand that President-elect Obama was personally leaning toward selecting me as his new Secretary of State, but Senator What's-Her-Name's people have somehow managed to convince his people that she would be the better choice. Although I am truly disappointed, I remain gracious even in defeat. And humble, of course. And speaking of being humble, my new book, Humility And How I Attained It, will be available soon at your local bookstores. --RWP, 11/22/2008]

Having a live traffic feed has been a real eye-opener for me. Now if more of you lurkers would just comment....

I was going to end this post by saying, “Here’s to the Internet!” and include a photograph of people toasting with champagne, but all of the ones I found cost money. I now reveal another fact about myself: I am nothing if not frugal.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

One Mississippi, Two Mississippi, Three Mississippi


Last night we caught the evening news just in time to hear Atlanta TV anchorwoman Brenda Wood say that the space shuttle Endeavor would be passing over Atlanta about an hour later and would be visible for three minutes. We were instructed to look west, where Jupiter and Venus are the brightest objects in the sky, at 6:54 p.m. to see the spacecraft rising. By 6:57 p.m., the show would be over.

Mrs. RWP and I went out to the patio just in time to see the event, and it was quite impressive, the space shuttle Endeavor shining every bit as brightly as Jupiter and Venus and at the same time moving rapidly across the evening sky. To realize that the craft went all the way from one horizon to the other that quickly just boggles the mind, especially when the mind is mine and usually given to such thoughts as, “Why, at a few minutes before seven in the evening, is the sky already midnight blue?”. Suddenly I’m reminded of a bit of Longfellow’s poetry: “One if by land and two if by sea/And I on the opposite shore will be/Ready to ride and spread the alarm/To every Middlesex village and farm” and also of how dumbstruck Paul Revere would be at today’s space riders.

Vehicles orbiting the earth have become so commonplace that we rarely think twice about them any more. The space shuttle orbits the earth every 90 minutes, traveling at a speed of about 18,000 miles per hour. For the mathematically challenged among you, that translates to 300 miles per minute, or five miles per second. On the surface of the earth, traveling that rapidly would be downright phenomenal. For each second that you count -- here’s where the One Mississippi, Two Mississippi, Three Mississipi, and so on come in -- you would be an additional five miles away from where your counting started. For example, if you began counting in West Palm Beach, Florida, each succeeding second would find you in Lake Worth, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Boca Raton, Pompano Beach, Lauderdale-by-the-sea, Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, North Miami Beach. Now that’s traveling. You would arrive at each town nearly as fast as you could say its name. The only way I know of to travel faster is to say, “Beam me up, Scotty” and hope that the Enterprise’s trans-porter has enough dilithium crystals to work properly.

Get out a map and try my little experiment with your own locale. Think about the effect such speeds would have on your morning commute. (Note. Women living on farms are exempted from this exercise as their morning commute consists of walking from the house to the chicken coop in Vonda’s case or from the house to the tractor shed in Jeannelle’s case. My mother was transplanted from suburban Philadelphia to our acreage in rural Texas, and her favorite joke was about the farmer’s wife who went crazy. As the men in white coats were taking her away, they asked her husband, “Do you have any idea what caused her to snap?” and he replied, “Absolutely none. Why, she hasn’t even left the farm for fourteen years.” Thinking about that for a while might be enough to make any of us say, “Beam me up, Scotty.”)

P.S. -- We are leaving on a little trip to Tampa, Florida, in the morning. I probably won’t be writing any more posts until we return.

Monday, November 17, 2008

On second thought...


Let us examine this a little more closely. Perhaps Papy Biou’s photograph from yesterday’s post is not married to Robert Frost’s poem, “The Road Not Taken,” which begins, “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood” after all. There are differences.

First of all, there is only one road in the photograph, not two roads. Second of all, the trees are green, not yellow. The season is obviously spring or summer, not autumn at all. But the flowers are yellow. Still, when I saw the photograph, my mind went immediately to Frost’s poem. But the season of the year, I think, is really immaterial.

I picture myself as the observer, standing at the very spot where the roads diverge. Two trails, two different destinations. One road, the route on my right, is not even part of the picture. When I turn my head, however, and look to my left, there is Papy’s road. The scene beckons to me. It is tantalizing. A variety of blues beyond the leaves hint of a calm lake, a rugged hill, a clear sky. I can see quite a distance down the road, all the way to the place where it bends in the undergrowth and continues on its way to a destination I will never know. Because I have chosen to take the other road, which is actually the less-traveled one, I may have missed something wonderful, something life-changing, something I may always be sorry I missed, if only I knew what it was. But I have made my choice. I turn to the right and take the other road with its own unique set of possibilities and destinations.

Life is like that. You can’t do it all. No one can. All you can do is make choices daily and hope for the best.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The marriage of words and picture

I was looking through some of Michel Soultane’s photographs this morning (Michel is my French blogger friend, Papy Biou) when one reached out and spoke to me. “Pick me,” it said quietly. “I will help you make a memorable post.”

The scene was somewhere in the part of France where Michel/Papy lives, but it made me think of one of my favorite American poems, “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost, right down to the bend in the road. Frost, who lived from 1874 to 1963, is remembered for his descriptions of rural New England; he wrote “The Road Not Taken” in 1920. The poem is so well-known that it is practically a cliché, but I love it nonetheless. If it is new to you, now is a good time to learn it, tuck it away in your memory, and wait for it and the photograph to do their work. Here is Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” (and thank you, Papy, once again, for the photograph):


The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I --
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Grant Park, Chicago (November 4, 2008)


They began gathering early, and the crowd grew through the evening. And kept growing, and kept growing. By one second after 10:00 PM Eastern Standard Time, when the polls had just closed in California and the television anchors were falling all over each other trying to be the first to announce that Barack Obama had garnered enough electoral votes to become the new 44th president-elect of the United States, there were thousands upon thousands of people in Grant Park in Chicago.

Above is a stunning photograph of a field of sunflowers, somewhere in France, that was taken by my French blogger friend, Papy Biou. For some reason known only to God, it reminded me of that crowd of well-wishers in Chicago on Election Night, and I wanted to share it with you. Papy recently changed the name of his blog from Le Monde Comme Je L’aime (The world as I love it) to Le Monde de Papy Biou (The world of Papy Biou). You can see more of his beautiful photography by clicking on his blog’s name at “Websites I like to visit” over on the left side of my blog.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Ask Mr. Language Person

One of my readers, Ruth Hull Chatlien who lives somewhere on the frozen tundra up north, left this comment on yesterday’s post:

“Ah, you have the soul of an editor. Most people really don’t notice stuff like that, but to a language person, they are indeed disorienting.”

The jury is still out concerning whether I have the soul of an editor, but I really perked up when she called me “a language person.” That is definitely true. Yes, indeedy. However, I can’t hold a candle to the all-time champion in that field, the man with the phenomenally creative mind that had the entire English-speaking world rolling in the aisles and gasping for air for years, Dave Barry.

I can hear some of you saying, “Who?”

Well, according to our old friend Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, David “Dave” Barry (born July 3, 1947) “is a [sic] American author. He is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist who wrote a nationally syndicated humor column for the The Miami Herald from 1983 to 2005. He has also written numerous books of humor and parody, as well as comedic novels.” (Note. I don’t expect ever again to have an opportunity to insert such an accurate editorial addition at such an appropriate place in a sentence.) But he is so much more than that. To me, he will forever be the writer of the “Ask Mr. Language Person” pieces that have invariably left me, as I said, rolling in the aisles, gasping for air.

To anyone out there who considers himself or herself “a language person” (and you know who you are), I would like to say that “this too shall pass” but I cannot because it won’t. Therefore, as a humanitarian gesture, I am including this link to a number of Dave Barry’s “Ask Mr. Language Person” columns, or as my son-in-law would refer to them, a “plethora.” A plethora in this case means fifteen; my personal favorites are numbers 12, 14, and 15. If you are “a language person,” all of the columns are downright hilarious, so just be sure the aisles are clear and you have an oxygen tank ready. If your name is Pat and you are “an Arkansas stamper,” which is completely different from being “a language person,” an initial fit of giggles may lead to the accesses of insanity and you might come dangerously close to having a Pond Spell. [For those of you who don’t have any idea what I’m talking about, I refer you to my post of June 29, 2008, “It looks even more like Cair Paravel from this angle” and a couple of the comments afterward from Pat. --RWP]

A caveat to the curious, which is sort of like a word to the wise, only different: If you insist on clicking on any of the links in the link I linked you to, I cannot be responsible for what you may find. If you persist, you may even wind up on the web page of Dr. Robert P. O’Shea, a professor of psychology at Otago University in Dunedin, New Zealand.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The gospel truth

Have you ever been going along pleasantly, living your life, everything perfectly normal, when suddenly something happens that is a trifle unsettling, that strikes you as being slightly askew? Nothing major, mind you, just something that jars you for a second and makes you wonder, however briefly, whether you might have entered an alternate universe or some sort of parallel existence? Not as extreme as the one Neo encountered in The Matrix, but there nevertheless.

It happened to me last Sunday afternoon. Twice. Mrs. RWP and I had driven 45 minutes to another town to attend a mid-afternoon church service in which one of our grandchildren was going to be baptized, confirmed, and, as we discovered, become a member of that particular local church congregation along with his parents. We arrived a few minutes early, settled in, and waited for the service to start. The bulletin listed 58 children who were being confirmed and 11 who were being baptized. The young pastor came and tested the microphone, and the program began.

Along with everyone else, we were singing the grand old hymn, “The Church’s One Foundation Is Jesus Christ, Her Lord.” The words were displayed on a big screen at the front for the benefit of those who needed them. I didn’t; I memorized the entire song about fifty years ago. I decided to sing the tenor part:

The Church’s one foundation
Is Jesus Christ her Lord;
She is his new creation
By water and the word.
From heaven he came and sought her
To be his holy bride;
With his own blood he bought her,
And for her life he died.


The person controlling the projector or PowerPoint or whatever it was changed the screen from verse 1 to verse 2, and we continued:

Elect from every nation,
Yet one o’er all the earth,
Her charter of salvation,
One Lord, one faith, one birth;
One holy name she blesses,
Partakes one holy food,
And to one hope she presses,
With every grace endued.


The projector/PowerPoint person (don’t you love alliteration?) changed the screen from verse 2 to verse 4, inexplicably leaving out verse 3, a perfectly good verse, and we began to sing verse 4:

Yet she on earth hath union
With God the Three in One,
And mystic sweet communion
With those whose rest is won.
O happy ones and holy!
Lord, give us grace that we,


And then it happened. My eyes took in the final two lines in one fell swoop, and I thought, “Oh, no!” There was a typo!

Like them, the meek and lowly,
On high may swell with thee.


WHAT? “SWELL with thee?” I felt a little off-kilter, like Alice just after her arrival in Wonderland.

The congregation continued singing, and when we reached the last line, I sang the correct word. But I heard enough sibilant sounds around me in the sanctuary (there’s that alliteration again) to realize that many people had sung the word displayed on the screen with no clue that someone had made a typographical error, no clue that Samuel Wesley had really written:

Like them, the meek and lowly,
On high may dwell with thee.


I felt slightly disoriented. Everybody out of step but Johnny. It was a strange feeling.

Later, as the young pastor was concluding his remarks, he encouraged the young people to bear one another’s burdens because one of the things we should all be doing is helping one another. He began to read from Acts, the second chapter, that the early believers lived together in a wonderful harmony, holding everything in common; and that they sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person’s need was met; and that they followed a daily discipline of worship in the Temple followed by meals at home, every meal a celebration, exuberant and joyful, as they praised God. He ended by saying, “And every day their number grew, as God added to the church those who were being served.”

I did another mental double-take. It had happened again. “Those who were being served?” No, no, no. Those who were being saved. When I got home, I checked every online English version of the Bible I could find. Not one of them said, “those who were being served.” It was just a slip of the young pastor’s tongue, to be sure, but it caught me off guard when I least expected it, and I was momentarily thrown for a loop.

Now, we happened to be sitting in an old, historic, mainline Protestant church on Sunday afternoon where only a typo and a slip of the tongue occurred, but I think this is how new denominations often start. Someone says something that sounds good and someone else, without checking it out, thinks it sounds very good indeed and begins to teach the uninformed that one day we will swell on high with God, begins teaching people who don’t bother to read such an old-fashioned book as the Bible that God will add to the church those who are being served.

And the world may get another new denomination, but because it will be the blind leading the blind, they will both end up falling into the ditch.

You don’t have to take a red pill to know that’s the gospel truth.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tuesday ramblings

In place of my usual Tuesday ramblings this week, I would like to direct your attention to the fact that today, November 11th, is Veterans Day in the United States. It is often confused with Memorial Day. (It is also Remembrance Day in Canada and the United Kingdom, I believe, but I may be off by a day or two.)

Because I have posted about this subject before, I would now like to direct your attention to the following posts:

“Memorial Day has come and gone” (posted on May 31, 2008)

“In Flanders Fields” (posted on November 12, 2007)

Let us hope and pray that the time will soon come when humans no longer find it acceptable or necessary to go to war with one another.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A shameful day in human history

I do not normally schedule a post for Sunday, but today I make an exception. November 9, 2008, marks the 70th anniversary of the shameful day in 1938 when, according to an article in today’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution, German Jews lost their civil rights and their human rights.

Here’s what The Writer’s Almanac says about it:

“Today is the anniversary of Kristallnacht, the night in 1938 when German Nazis coordinated a nationwide attack on Jewish homes, businesses, and synagogues. More than 1,000 synagogues were burned or destroyed. Rioters looted about 7,500 Jewish businesses and vandalized Jewish hospitals, homes, schools, and cemeteries. Before that night, the Nazis had killed people secretly and individually. After Kristallnacht, the Nazis felt free to persecute the Jews openly, because they knew no one would stop them.”

And here’s a long description with a great deal of detail from Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia:

Kristallnacht (literally “Crystal night”) or the Night of Broken Glass, was a pogrom in Nazi Germany on November 9–10, 1938. On a single night, 92 Jews were murdered, and 25,000–30,000 were arrested and deported to concentration camps.[1][2] It is often called Novemberpogrom or Reichspogromnacht in German.

The Nazis coordinated an attack on Jewish people and their property in Germany and German-controlled lands as a part of Hitler’s anti-Semitic policy.[3]

On November 7, 1938, Herschel Grynszpan, a 17-year old German Jew enraged by his family’s expulsion from Germany, walked into the German Embassy in Paris and fired five shots at a junior diplomat, Ernst vom Rath. Two days later, the diplomat died and Germany was in the grip of skillfully orchestrated anti-Jewish violence. In the early hours of November 10, coordinated destruction broke out in cities, towns, and villages throughout the Third Reich.

The consequences of this violence were disastrous for the Jews of the Third Reich. In a single night, Kristallnacht saw the destruction of more than 200 Synagogues, and the ransacking of thousands of Jewish businesses and homes. It marked the beginning of the systematic eradication of a people who could trace their ancestry in Germany to Roman times, and served as a prelude to the Holocaust that was to follow.[4][5]


Context
By the end of the 1920s, most German Jews had been assimilated and served in the German army and contributed to every field of German science, business and culture. The Nazis were elected to power on January 30, 1933,[6] although Hitler did not gain absolute power until the Enabling act was passed on March 23, after the Reichstag fire.[7] By 1938, Jews had been almost completely excluded from German social and political life.[8] Many sought asylum abroad, and thousands did manage to leave, but as Chaim Weizmann wrote in 1936, “The world seemed to be divided into two parts -- those places where the Jews could not live and those where they could not enter.”[9]

Historian Eric Johnson notes that in the year before Kristallnacht, the Germans “had entered a new radical phase in anti-Semitic activity.”[10] Although controversial, some historians believe that the Nazi government had been contemplating a planned outbreak of violence against the Jews for some time and were waiting for an appropriate provocation; there is evidence of this planning that dates back to 1937.[11] The Zionist leadership in Palestine wrote in February 1938 “a very reliable private source -- one which can be traced back to the highest echelons of the SS leadership, that there is an intention to carry out a genuine and dramatic pogrom in Germany on a large scale in the near future.”[12]


Timeline of events
Kristallnacht was the result of more than five years and nine months of discrimination and persecution. From its inception in Germany, Hitler’s regime moved quickly to introduce anti-Jewish policy. The roughly 500,000 Jews in Germany, who accounted for only 0.76% of the overall population,[5] were singled out by the Nazi propaganda machine as the enemy within who were responsible for Germany’s defeat in 1918 and her subsequent economic difficulties.[5]

During 1933, the German government enacted 42 laws restricting the rights of German Jews to earn a living, to enjoy full citizenship and to educate themselves. The most severe of these laws, the law “for the reconstruction of the civil service”, forbade Jews to work in any branch of the civil service.[13] The pressure against the Jews continued unabated. Historian Jesse Irwin and many others believe that the pogrom was the start of the Holocaust. During 1934, a further 19 discriminatory laws were introduced. During 1935, the government enacted a further 29 anti-Jewish laws. The Nuremberg Laws “for the protection of German blood and honour” were signed personally by Hitler. These laws prohibited Jews from being citizens of the Reich and forbade marriage between “those of German or related blood” and Jews, Roma (Gypsies), blacks, or their offspring.

In an attempt to provide help to those affected by these laws, an international conference was held on July 6, 1938, on the shores of Lake Geneva. The conference hoped to address the issue of Jewish and Gypsy immigration to other countries. When the conference was held, more than 250,000 Jews had fled Germany and Austria, which had been annexed by Germany in March 1938. However, more than 300,000 German and Austrian Jews were seeking shelter from the oppression. As the number of Jews and Gypsies wanting to leave grew, the restrictions against them also grew with many countries tightening their rules for admission.


Expulsion of Jews from Germany
On October 18, 1938, on Hitler’s orders, more than 12,000 Jews were expelled from Germany. They were Polish-born Jews who had been living in Germany legally for many years. They were ordered to leave their homes in a single night, and were only allowed one suitcase per person to store their belongings. As the Jews were taken away, all of their remaining possessions were seized as booty by both the Nazi authorities and by their neighbors.

The deportees were taken from their homes to the nearest railway stations, where they were put on trains to the Polish border. Four thousand were granted entry into Poland; however, the remaining 8,000 were forced to stay at the border. There, in harsh conditions, they waited for the Polish government to allow them into the country. Hundreds more, one British newspaper told its readers, “are reported to be lying about, penniless and deserted, in little villages along the frontier near where they had been driven out by the Gestapo and left."[14]


Vom Rath shooting
One expelled couple, who had been living in Hanover for more than 27 years, had a seventeen-year-old son, Herschel Grynszpan, living in Paris.[4] From the border his sister Berta sent him a postcard describing their expulsion: “No one told us what was up, but we realised this was going to be the end.” Her final appeal: “We haven't a penny. Could you send us something?”[15]

Grynszpan received his sister’s short message on November 3. The next day he read a graphic account of the deportations in a Paris Yiddish newspaper. On the morning of Sunday, November 6, he bought a pistol, loaded it with five bullets, and on the following day went to the German embassy where, “in the name of 12,000 persecuted Jews,” he shot Ernst vom Rath, fatally wounding him.[15]


Initial response
On November 8, the first collective punitive measures were announced. All Jewish newspapers and magazines were to cease publication immediately. This ban cut off Jews from their leadership, whose task was to advise and guide them, particularly about emigration. It was a measure, one British newspaper explained, “intended to disrupt the Jewish community and rob it of the last frail ties which hold it together.” There were at the time three German Jewish newspapers with a national circulation, four cultural papers, several sports papers, and several dozen community bulletins, of which the one in Berlin had a circulation of 40,000.[5]

Also on November 8 it was announced that Jewish children could no longer attend “Aryan” state elementary schools, something that had hitherto been allowed where there were not sufficient Jewish elementary schools. At the same time all Jewish cultural activities were suspended “indefinitely.”[16]


After Kristallnacht, synagogues were restored. Today, one features a plaque, reading:

This synagogue is 100 years old
and was set ablaze on 9 November
1938 by the Nazis
IN KRISTALLNACHT

During the Second World War 1939-1945
it was destroyed by 1943 bombing raids

The façade of this house of God shall
remain forever a site of remembrance

NEVER FORGET

The Jewish Community of Greater Berlin


The reaction of non-Jewish Germans to Kristallnacht was varied. Martin Gilbert believes that “many non-Jews resented the round up”,[17] his opinion being supported by German witness Dr. Arthur Flehinger who recalls seeing “people crying while watching from behind their curtains”.[18] Some even went as far as to help Jews, but the majority merely sat inside watching in horror, feeling helpless to do anything. Other non-Jewish Germans took part in the violence, as it was not just Stormtroopers rioting. Evidence of this can be established in that riots broke out on the night of November 7 and continued in some places after the pogrom was called to a halt; thus it may be surmised that these successive actions were not those of the Nazis. Also, several sources mention women and children as participating in the riots, and these were clearly not Stormtroopers but ordinary citizens. The number of German citizens involved in the riots is impossible to know, as many Stormtroopers were wearing civilian clothes and were thus indistinguishable.

According to Daniel Goldhagen, Bishop Martin Sasse, a leading Protestant churchman, published a compendium of Martin Luther’s writings shortly after the Kristallnacht; Sasse “applauded the burning of the synagogues” and the coincidence of the day, writing in the introduction, “On November 10, 1938, on Luther’s birthday, the synagogues are burning in Germany.” The German people, he urged, ought to heed these words “of the greatest anti-Semite of his time, the warner of his people against the Jews.”[19] Diarmaid MacCulloch argued that Luther’s 1543 pamphlet, “On the Jews and Their Lies” was a “blueprint” for the Kristallnacht.[20]

In an article released for publication on the evening of November 11, Goebbels ascribed the events of Kristallnacht to the “healthy instincts” of the German people. He went on to explain: “The German people are anti-Semitic. It has no desire to have its rights restricted or to be provoked in the future by parasites of the Jewish race.”[21]

Eyewitness accounts show the general response. Reports of the destruction are the main focus of the article.

“They ripped up the belongings, the books, knocked over furniture, shouted obscenities,”[22]

The scholarly response in that article is very much the same:

“Houses of worship burned down, vandalized, in every community in the country where people either participate or watch,”[22]

There are reports of “destroying...family heirlooms” and many other acts of vandalism.[22]


Response from the Global community
The frontpage of The New York Times of November 11, 1938, refers to the attacks occurring “under the direction of Stormtroopers and Nazi party members”, but also said that Goebbels called a stop to it.The Kristallnacht pogram sparked international outrage. It discredited pro-Nazi movements in Europe and North America, leading to eventual decline of their support. Many newspapers condemned Kristallnacht, with some comparing it to the murderous pogroms incited by Imperial Russia in the 1880s. The United States recalled its ambassador (but did not break off diplomatic relations) while other governments severed diplomatic relations with Germany in protest.

As such, Kristallnacht also marked a turning point in relations between Nazi Germany and the rest of the world. The brutality of the program and the Nazi government’s deliberate policy of encouraging the violence once it had begun, laid bare the repressive nature and widespread anti-Semitism entrenched in Germany, and turned world opinion sharply against the Nazi regime, with some politicians even calling for war.


Kristallnacht as a turning point
Kristallnacht changed the nature of persecution from economic, political, and social to the physical with beatings, incarceration, and murder; the event is often referred to as the beginning of the Holocaust. In the words of historian Max Rein in 1988, “Kristallnacht came...and everything was changed.”[23]

While November 1938 predated overt articulation of “the Final Solution,” it nonetheless foreshadowed the genocide to come. Around the time of Kristallnacht, the Schutzstaffel newspaper Das Schwarze Korps called for a “destruction by swords and flames.” At a conference on the day after the pogrom, Hermann Göring said: “The Jewish problem will reach its solution if, in any time soon, we will be drawn into war beyond our border -- then it is obvious that we will have to manage a final account with the Jews.”[5]

Specifically, the Nazis managed to achieve in Kristallnacht all the theoretical targets they set for themselves: confiscation of Jewish belongings to provide finances for the military buildup to war, separation and isolation of the Jews, and most importantly, the move from the anti-Semitic policy of discrimination to one of physical damage, which began that night and continued until the end of World War II.

The event nonetheless showed the public attitude was not solidly behind the perpetrators. Many Germans at the time found the pogroms troubling, as they equated them with the days of the SA street rule and lawlessness. The British Embassy at Berlin and British Consular offices throughout Germany received many protests and expressions of disquiet from members of the German public about the anti-Jewish actions of the time. The widespread cooperation of ordinary people and the desired severity of atrocities occurred primarily in Vienna and less so in Germany.


Etymology
The incident was originally referred to as die Kristallnacht (literally “crystal night” or the “night of the broken glass”), alluding to the enormous number of shop windows (mostly at Jewish-owned stores) that were broken that night.[24]

The prefix Reichs- (imperial) was later added (Reichskristallnacht) as a pun on the Nazis’ propensity to add this prefix to various terms and titles like Reichsführer-SS (Himmler) or Reichsmarschall (Göring).[25] This was also done in other contexts to ridicule and criticize aspects of the Nazi dictatorship (e.g., Reichswasserleiche -- “National Drowned Body” for actress Kristina Söderbaum, who frequently played tragic heroines in her husband Veit Harlan's anti-Semitic melodramas, two of whom committed suicide by drowning.) [26]


Modern response
Many decades later, association with the Kristallnacht anniversary was cited as the main reason against choosing November 9 (“Schicksalstag”), the day the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, as the new German national holiday; a different day was chosen (October 3, 1990, German reunification).

Avant-garde guitarist Gary Lucas's 1988 composition “Verklärte Kristallnacht”, which juxtaposes the Israeli national anthem, “Hatikvah,” with phrases from “Deutschland Über Alles” amid wild electronic shrieks and noise, is intended to be a sonic representation of the horrors of Kristallnacht. It was premiered at the 1988 Berlin Jazz Festival and received rave reviews. (The title is a reference to Arnold Schoenberg’s 1899 work “Verklärte Nacht” that presaged his pioneering work on atonal music; Schoenberg was an Austrian Jew exiled by the Nazis).[27]

The German power metal band Masterplan’s debut album, Masterplan (2003), features an anti-Nazism song entitled “Crystal Night” as the fourth track.

The popular German band BAP published a song titled “Kristallnaach” in their Cologne dialect, dealing with the emotions of the Kristallnacht.[28]


Recent Archeological Finds
A dumping ground for the destroyed remains of Jewish property plundered during Kristallnacht has been found in Brandenburg, north of Berlin by Yaron Svoray, an investigative journalist.

The site, which is the size of four football pitches, contains an extensive array of personal and ceremonial items looted during orchestrated nationwide riots against Jewish property and places of worship on the night of November 9, 1938. It is believed the goods were brought by rail to the outskirts of the village and dumped on designated land. Among the items found were glass bottles engraved with the Star of David, Mezuzahs, painted window sills, and the armrests of chairs found in synagogues, in addition to an ornamental swastika.[29]”

(end of article)

All references for footnotes [1] through [29] in the article above can be obtained in the Wikipedia article online.

It is not the intent of this post to criticize present-day Germans or Lutherans in any way. They are not to blame for what people said or did in an earlier time. I published this post in memory of the millions who perished in the Holocaust, a well-documented series of events that many, including Iran’s current president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, insist never happened. It did happen, and it began with a well-documented event, Kristallnacht, seventy years ago tonight.

George Santayana was right. Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The beat goes on

Yesterday I posted on the subject of Garrison Keillor’s favorite joke. I had a few more thoughts on the subject in response to a question from a commenter, so, even though it may be beating a dead horse, I thought I would post that exchange here today for the benefit of anybody out there who reads my posts but skips the comments.

On November 7, 2008, at 11:49 PM, Jeannelle said:
I've never heard that one before. My brain’s pretty slow and it’ll take me a long time to think this one over.

G.K. is biting...his “homespun” humor can cut right through our ingrained notions. We are often uncomfortable with that.

What is the gist of the joke? Is it to open our eyes to our perceptions about ourselves and others?

So help me figure it out...the questioning penguin -- who looks the same as the penguin he is addressing -- has the nerve to suggest that the real penguin skin looks like something that it isn’t. As if his own appearance isn’t just the same....

It prompts some serious thinking, that's for sure. Now I’ll have trouble getting to sleep....


On November 8, 2008, at 7:06 AM, rhymeswithplague said:
Jeannelle, I have never figured out what it means. But I have figured out that it isn’t funny. And that, I think, is why GK keeps telling it, as a sort of inside joke with his audience. He pokes fun at himself in the telling. It is a method of self-exaltation while appearing to be self-deprecating. It’s his way of saying, “If you were as smart and as successful as I, you could have your own radio show and movie and book signing tours and tell jokes that aren’t funny, too. But, as we both know, you’re not.”

But that’s just my opinion. If you ever figure out why the joke is funny, if in fact it is, be sure to let me know.

Or this could all be sour grapes on my part, because I do like so many of the skits on GK’s radio show. The writing is very good. It’s just the music that keeps me perplexed. And this penguin joke.


On November 8, 2008, at 7:56 AM, rhymeswithplague said:
Of course, the first penguin would have to have seen a human being wearing a tuxedo somewhere on the Antarctic continent, or, if that seems unlikely, perhaps when the Academy Awards were on television.

You see how this sort of thing can play havoc with one’s brain. Anthropomorphism takes quite a bit of suspension of disbelief. Couldn’t he just have said, “Two penguins walk into a bar, and....”?


On November 8, 2008, at 8:01 AM, rhymeswithplague said:
The most logical response from the second penguin would have been, “So do you,” but would that be funny? Or he could have done a Pee-wee Herman imitation and said, “I know you are, but what am I?” Would that have been funny?

The correct answers are No and No.


On November 8, 2008, at 8:03 AM, rhymeswithplague said:
Or maybe it’s an illustration of the old show-biz saying, “Dying is easy; comedy is hard.”

I really must stop now.


And I did. One way or another we will strip every piece of meat off this bone.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Garrison Keillor’s favorite joke

It must be true. He tells it, or makes sly references to it, or works it into his routines frequently, most recently on last Saturday afternoon’s A Prairie Home Companion radio show. It even made its way into his A Prairie Home Companion movie a couple of years back, directed by one Robert Altman.

I think the real joke must be that the joke is not funny, or that you have to think about it for a long time. It’s the kind of joke Steven Wright and Paula Poundstone have been known to tell. Here it is, Garrison Keillor’s favorite joke:

Two penguins are standing on an ice floe and one looks at the other and says, “You look like you’re wearing a tuxedo.” And the other one says, “What makes you think I’m not?”


All in all, the humor of Garrison Keillor either is your cup of tea or it isn’t (we won’t complicate things by bringing up his musical tastes). Either you like him or you don’t.

As for me, sometimes I do, and sometimes I don’t. If you just can’t get enough of him or want to know more about him, you can go to his A Prairie Home Companion website as often as you like. Or buy his books.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Dona Nobis Pacem

I think the music in the video clip at the end of this post is not by Johann Sebastian Bach as the YouTube header indicates, but it is the very version I was hoping to find and share with you today.

Fifty years ago on his weekly, live documentary television show, Wide, Wide World, host Dave Garroway used to end each one of the Sunday-afternoon programs by quoting these lines from Edna St.Vincent Millay’s poem, “Renascence”:

The world stands out on either side,
No wider than the heart is wide;
Above the world is stretched the sky,
No higher than the soul is high.

Then he would raise an arm, fingers pointing up and palm facing outward, in a gesture that looked like he was about to say “How” just like Tonto on The Lone Ranger, but Dave never said “How.” What he always said was “Peace.”

Here, without further commentary from me, is an anonymous, amateur church choir singing a lovely rendition of “Dona Nobis Pacem” (Grant Us Peace).

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

November 4, 2008



If I tried with all my might, I could not do better than today’s entry in The Writer’s Almanac. Here it is:

Today is Election Day. It’s the 56th presidential election of the United States, and today is the first time in more than 50 years that neither the sitting president nor the sitting vice president is a candidate on his party’s ticket in the new presidential election. It’s also the very first time in history that the two main candidates for president are both sitting senators. The last sitting senator to be elected U.S. president was JFK in 1960. [I almost inserted a comment here that this paragraph contained and error because in 1960 John Fitzgerald Kennedy and Richard Milhous Nixon were both sitting senators, but then my head cleared and I remembered that although Nixon had indeed been a senator from California, in 1960 he had been Eisenhower’s Vice-President for eight years. Carry on. I’ll be in the area all day. --RWP]

Many parties besides the Democrats and Republicans have nominated candidates for today’s election; these parties include Green, Libertarian, Constitution, Prohibition, Reform, Workers World Party, Boston Tea Party, Party for Socialism and Liberation, and the Socialist Workers Party -- whose presidential candidate, if he were to win the election, would not be able to serve as president, because he was born in Nicaragua.

Both Barack Obama and John McCain are best-selling authors. John McCain was on book tour for his memoir Faith of My Fathers (1999) at the same time that he was on the campaign trail in the 2000 election.

McCain wrote in his second memoir, Worth the Fighting For (2002):

“I didn’t decide to run for president to start a national crusade for the political reforms I believed in or to run a campaign as if it were some grand act of patriotism. In truth, I wanted to be president because it had become my ambition to become president.”

Barack Obama wrote his first memoir, Dreams of My Father, in 1995, after he became president of the Harvard Law Review but before he began his political career. His second book was The Audacity of Hope (2006). One journalist called it his “thesis submission” for the presidency, and it was the book, along with his speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, that brought him to national attention.

He wrote:

“I reject a politics that is based solely on racial identity, gender identity, sexual orientation, or victimhood generally. I think much of what ails the inner city involves a breakdown in culture that will not be cured by money alone, and that our values and spiritual life matter at least as much as our GDP.”

In Faith of My Fathers, John McCain wrote humorously about his poor performance at the Naval Academy, where he graduated fifth from the bottom of his class. He also wrote about his time in Vietnam, as a prisoner of war. He wrote:

“There are greater pursuits than self-seeking. Glory is not a conceit. It is not a prize for being the most clever, the strongest, or the boldest. Glory belongs to the act of being constant to something greater than yourself.”

Advice for Writers

My new cyberfriend and sometime commenter on this blog, Dr. John Linna of Neenah, Wisconsin, posted some very good advice for writers last week on his blog. I am now going to pass that advice along to you. If I knew where it came from, I would give the author credit.

Advice for Writers

In promulgating your esoteric cogitations or articulating your superficial sentimentalities and amicable philosophical or psychological observations, beware of platitudinous ponderosity.

Let your conversational communications possess a compacted conciseness, a clarified comprehensibility, a coalescent cogency and a concatenated consistency.

Eschew obfuscation and all conglomeration of flatulent garrulity, jejune babblement and asinine affectations.

Let your extemporaneous descants and unpremeditated expatiations have intelligibility and voracious vivacity without rodomontade or thrasonical bombast.

Sedulously avoid all polysyllabic profundity, pompous prolificacy and vain vapid verbosity.

Say what?

In other words, boys and girls, be brief and don’t use big words.

Dr. John is a Lutheran pastor who wouldn’t purposely lead you astray, so if you know what’s good for you, read and heed. If you reject what’s good for you, nothing I might say could possibly help.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Electoral College For Dummies

I am assuming here at the beginning of this post (always a bad idea) that you already know two things:

(1) That when you vote tomorrow you will not be voting for the candidates whose names are on the ballot but for a slate of electors who will represent your state in the electoral college, and

(2) That the number of electoral votes a state is entitled to cast in the electoral college is determined by adding together the number of its U.S. Senators (there are two from every state) and the number of its U.S. Representatives to Congress (one from each congressional district, the total number of which can change every ten years based on the state’s official population as reported in the most recent U.S. Census, which may not bear much resemblance to the state’s actual population).

I have to assume you already know these things because you would never find them out from the article I am about to share with you. So, dear reader, if you are a real glutton for punishment and are wondering how in the heck that electoral college thing works, reproduced below is the complete text of an article at a website called www.electoralvote.com, with its original paragraphing and spacing intact.

All righty, then, class, let’s begin:

Electoral College

The United States Electoral College is the official name of the group of Presidential Electors who are chosen every four years to cast the electoral vote and thereby elect the President and Vice President of the United States. It was established by Article Two, Section One of the United States Constitution, which provides for a quadrennial election of Presidential Electors in each state. The electoral process was modified in 1804 with the ratification of the 12th Amendment and again in 1961 with the ratification of the 23rd Amendment.

The Electoral College is administered at the national level by the National Archives and Records Administration via its Office of the Federal Register. The actual meetings of electors in each state are administered by state officials. The Presidential Electors meet in their respective state capitals in December, 41 days following the election, at which time they cast their electoral votes. Thus the “electoral college” never meets as one national body. They ballot for President, then ballot for vice president. Afterward, the Electors sign a document called the Certificate of Vote which sets forth the number of votes cast for these two offices and is signed by all Electors. Multiple copies of the Certificate of Vote are signed, in order to provide multiple originals in case one is lost. One copy is sent to president of the Senate (i.e. the sitting Vice President of the United States); the certificates are placed in two special mahogany boxes where they await a joint session of the new Congress where they are opened and counted. Candidates must receive a majority of the electoral vote to be declared the president-elect or vice-president-elect. If no candidate for President receives an absolute electoral majority 270 votes out of the 538 possible, then the new House of Representatives is required to go into session immediately to vote for President. (This would likely just occur when more than two candidates receive electoral votes, but could theoretically happen in a two-person contest, if each received exactly 269 electoral votes). In this case, the House of Representatives chooses from the three candidates who received the most electoral votes, but could not establish a majority of votes in the College. The House votes en-bloc by state for this purpose (that is, one vote per state, which is determined by the majority decision of the delegation from that state; if a state delegation is evenly split, a deadlock normally results, and that state is considered as abstaining). This vote would be repeated if necessary until one candidate receives the votes of more than half the state delegations -- at least 26 state votes, given the current number, 50, of states in the union. If no candidate for Vice President receives an absolute majority of electoral votes, then the United States Senate must do the same, with the top two vote getters for that office as candidates. The Senate votes in the normal manner in this case, not by States. It is unclear if the sitting Vice President would be entitled to cast his usual tie-breaking vote if the Senate should be evenly split on the matter. If the House of Representatives has not chosen a winner in time for the inauguration (noon on January 20), then the Constitution of the United States specifies that the new Vice President becomes Acting President until the House selects a President. If the winner of the Vice Presidential election is not known by then either, then under the Presidential Succession Act of 1947, the Speaker of the House of Representatives would become Acting President until the House selects a President or the Senate selects a Vice President. On the one hand, the Twelfth Amendment specifies that the Senate should choose the Vice President, and it does not admit of a time limit on the selection process. On the other hand, the Twenty-Fifth Amendment allows the President to nominate a Vice President if a vacancy should occur. As of 2006, the House of Representatives has elected the President on two occasions, in 1801 and in 1825. The Senate has chosen the Vice President once, in 1837.

[end of article]

There now, isn’t that simple?

Here’s a pretty map to look at until your head stops spinning:



Two things the website neglected to tell us: (1) Nowhere in the process does it say that the slates of electors in each state must vote for the candidate who received the most popular votes in their state on Election Day; each elector can actually do as he or she jolly well pleases. (2) If those two special boxes aren’t mahogany, the whole election is null and void and has to be done over. (Note to the gullible: Only one of the two preceding statements is true.)

Now that you are no longer a rank dummy on the subject, you may have thought of a question or two concerning the electoral college yourself, such as: What was the original process before the Constitution had any amendments? How did the the 12th amendment change the process? How did the 23rd amendment change the process? What about the District of Columbia? Why was there no Presidential Succession Act until 1947? Which two presidents were selected by the House of Representatives in 1801 and 1825? Which vice-president, and whose, was selected by the Senate in 1837? What does quadrennial mean?

As they used to say on Mission Impossible, your assignment, if you choose to accept it, is to find out for yourself the answers to these questions.

Here are the original cast members of Mission Impossible. While you’re sitting up late listening to election returns, try to name them all without help. Can you do it?



If your head is starting to spin again, put it between your legs for a couple of minutes, take two aspirin, and call me in the morning. Or you could try gazing at that map again.

[Update. It has now been exactly four weeks since the election and absolutely no one has bothered to try to identify the cast members of Mission Impossible. So, in the interest of spreading knowledge and truth everywhere, I will. In no particular order, they are Peter Graves, Barbara Bain, Greg Morris, Martin Landau, and Peter Lupus. There, now, that wasn’t so hard, was it? Barbara Bain and Martin Landau were husband and wife, and Peter Graves was the brother of James Arness of Gunsmoke. Also, Warren Beatty is Shirley MacLaine’s brother, and for the really ancient among you, Ricardo Montalban married Loretta Young’s sister, and Olivia de Havilland (Melanie Wilkes to Leslie Howard’s Ashley in Gone With The Wind) was the sister of Joan Fontaine (Jane Eyre to Orson Welles’s Rochester in Jane Eyre), but not a single one of those fascinating tidbits of trivia has anything to do with either Mission Impossible or the workings of the Electoral College. --RWP, 12/2/2008]

Saturday, November 1, 2008

It’s getting really close!

No, silly, not the presidential election. If you have any sense at all, you have tuned out the politicians. But speaking of television, perhaps you have seen the television spot starring Bob Barker that is intended to inform the electronically-impaired among us (you know who you are) of the single most important fact on the horizon, that one bright, cold morning next February, only digital television signals will be broadcast in the United States. People who have cable or satellite with those new, very expensive, high-definition television (HDTV) sets have nothing to worry about, we keep hearing. Only time will tell whether this is true. But there will be no more analog signals for anybody, ever, so all of you rabbit-ear lovers and roof-antenna folks out there, as well as anybody who refused to pay for cable or satellite, are going to need to do something. I mean besides checking yourself into the equivalent of a methadone clinic for analog addicts to treat your TV withdrawal.

The something you are going to need to do is get and install a converter box to convert the digital signal to analog for older TVs. But don’t panic. As a community service, I have done the research and found something that should ease your fears and let you know just how easy the conversion is going to be (actually, it’s as easy as π).

Please watch this video.

There, now, don’t you feel better?