Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Life outside the blog


Yes, Virginia, there is life outside the blog.

Sometimes it is exceedingly mundane. Yesterday, for example, I mowed the lawn.

As my friend and co-worker, Sanford J. Epstein of Burlington, Vermont, and Boca Raton, Florida, used to say, “Big whoop.” Sandy was a bit of a big whoop himself, weighing in at 305 pounds. And every St. Patrick’s Day he wore a Kelly green suit to work and modified his badge to read “Sanford J. O’Epstein.” I hadn’t thought about him in a long time.

But I digress.

Since tomorrow is the first day of October, I must pay a bunch of bills today, some of them by going online, some of them by writing checks and putting them in envelopes and adding self-sticking stamps on the envelopes and walking them out to my curbside mailbox and raising the little red flag to alert the mail delivery person to take them, and some of them in person by driving the ten miles into town. Even though this saves stamps, it uses gas, but it is also an opportunity to give Jethro a ride.

Jethro looks forward to going to town with us in the car, because there are several opportunities to receive doggie treats during a trip. He especially likes the drive-up window at the bank, but he is usually disappointed at the drive-up pharmacy and the water department.

People say dogs live in the moment and have no recollection of past events. People, I think, are wrong. Every time we turn off the main road into our subdivision, Jethro knows exactly where he is. Every time we go to the bank, Jethro knows exactly where he is. And every time we go to the drive-up pharmacy and the water department, he continues to hope for the best.

Please do not try to disabuse me of my illusions. Like my dog, they are precious to me.

If only I could find a self-mowing lawn, life would be complete.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

My new favorite blog


A while back, my blog gained another new follower (and now there are 22 of you) named Sissy who lives in what she calls Upper East Tennessee. I was slothful and didn’t manage to get around to returning the compliment and reading her blog until today, and I am hooked, hooked, I tell you. I read all the way back to August 15th in one sitting.

Sissy doesn’t have a lot of readers. Wait, that’s not what I meant to say. Let me start over. I don’t know how many people read Sissy’s blog, but not many of them leave comments. I want my little band of readers to help remedy that situation. Sissy, a very good writer, covers life in Upper East Tennessee very well, plus excursions to such exotic places as Live Oak, Florida, and Asheville, North Carolina. Her sidebar even includes quotations from the Dalai Lama (“In the practice of tolerance, one’s enemy is the best teacher.”), Albert Einstein (“Concern for man and his fate must always form the chief interest of all technical endeavors. Never forget this in the midst of your diagrams and equations.”), and Charlotte Brontë (“Conventionality is not morality.”).

Besides, anybody with a dog named Choco is okay in my book.

Here’s your treat for the day, readers, Sissy’s blog!

That was then, this is now...


Yesterday I linked to the first post I ever wrote, back on September 28, 2007. In that first post, I included the stock market results for the day. I thought it might be interesting to compare then and now.

Then: The Dow-Jones Industrial Average closed at 13885.63
Now: The Dow-Jones Industrial Average closed at 9789.36

Then: The Nasdaq Composite Index closed at 2701.50
Now: The Nasdaq Composite Index closed at 2130.74

Then: The Standard & Poor 500 closed at 1526.75
Now: The Standard & Poor 500 closed at 1062.98

Then: The American Stock Exchange closed at 2410.19
Now: The AMEX Composite (equivalent) closed at 1764.11

Then: The Russell 2000 closed at 805.45
Now: The Russell 2000 closed at 613.22


I am now as depressed as the stock market. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all.

Monday, September 28, 2009

I’m speechless!



This blog began two years ago today, on September 28, 2007, with my first post.

Time really flies when you’re having fun.

Mrs. RWP says it seems much longer.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The autumnal equinox came and went and I didn't even notice.


It’s true. I must be slipping, because I usually notice such things. I shall now try to make up for my inexplicable neglect by referring you to the Wikipedia article on the equinox.

Here is the Wikipedia article on the equinox.

I said I would, didn’t I?

For those of you who are too jaded to bother to expand your horizons by reading an article on a subject you have absolutely no interest in whatsoever, let me tantalize you by revealing that not only does the article contain a table that contains the UTC date and time of every solstice and equinox between the years 2004 and 2017, but it also contains the following irresistible subheadings:

Names
Length of equinoctial day and night
Heliocentric view of the seasons
Geocentric view of the seasons
Day arcs of the Sun
Celestial co-ordinate systems
Cultural aspects of the equinox
Myths, fables, and facts

and the ever-popular References and External Links.

It also contains a photograph of a bas-relief in Persepolis and one of the Chichen Itza pyramid, as well as the astounding fact that boatyard employees and sailboat owners in Annapolis, Maryland, USA, celebrate the spring equinox with the Burning of the Socks festival.

If these few teasers don’t inspire you to take a peek at an article about the equinox, nothing will.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The New, Revised Apostles’ Creed


The following video clip is either extremely sacrilegious, absolutely hilarious, ineffably sad, or some combination of all three. It was first aired on November 24, 1980, nearly 30 years ago, on the British television comedy series Not The Nine O’Clock News. The site where I found it calls it “eerily prophetic.” As for me, I found the gales of laughter from the audience eerily inappropriate.

The New, Revised Apostles’ Creed

I’ll leave it to my readers to decide. In a comment, please vote for one of the following choices:

A - Extremely sacrilegious
B - Absolutely hilarious
C - Ineffably sad
D - A and B
E - B and C
F - A and C
G - A, B, and C
H - Neither A nor B nor C

Please explain your choice in a brief paragraph.

[Update, 9/23/2009: So far, five people have participated in this little exercise. Two of them (40%) picked B. Three of them (60%) picked H. From this very small and admittedly unscientific sampling, what can we conclude? Some of you might be tempted to say “nothing,” but I disagree. What we can conclude, my dear readers, is clear: If you follow the crowd, you are more likely to go to H.]

Friday, September 18, 2009

A one, and a two...


You can blame this post, if you like, on Jeannelle of Iowa, a woman who inserted a video of Myron Floren playing “The Happy Wanderer” on the accordion in the middle of a post of beautiful close-up photographs of wildflowers. I have nothing against Myron Floren personally. He was the accordionist in Lawrence Welk’s orchestra for many years.

Ah, the accordion. Not my favorite musical instrument. One of my favorite drawings by Gary Larson (remember The Far Side?) has two panels, one above the other, depicting Heaven and Hell. Above, angels sitting on clouds are presenting a gift to Heaven’s newest resident, saying “Welcome to Heaven! Here’s your harp.” At the same time, down below, demons holding pitchforks and surrounded by flames of fire are presenting a gift to Hell’s newest resident, saying “Welcome to Hell! Here’s your accordion.” That pretty much sums it up for me.

For more accordion music, here is an earlier clip of Myron Floren
and Lawrence Welk in black and white, from 1958
.

And if you still haven’t had your accordion needs fulfilled,
here’s another one from 1955.

Are you beginning to get the picture? It starts out innocently enough, but a little of that goes a long way. It can grate on your nerves after a while. All that champagne music. All that smiling. All that incessant bouncing. The only thing missing are polka dancers. In costume. To think of it going on and on and never stopping makes me want to throw an accordion, or at least a chair, through the nearest window.

I guess it could have been worse. They could have been playing “Lady of Spain.”

Actually, I have been playing the part of a curmudgeon and pulling your leg. This post is a tribute to some of the popular musicians of yesteryear.

I miss them.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Wild horses couldn't drag me away...


I admit it. I am an unabashed and enthusiastic fan of Susan Boyle’s singing.

Surely you remember Susan. If you don’t, you must have been living under a rock somewhere for the past six months. And if you don't care for her voice, pardon me for saying it but you have resonance where your brains ought to be.

After stunning the world with her rendition last spring of “I Dreamed A Dream” from Les Miserables on the British television program, Britain's Got Talent 2009, Susan has done it again.

In her American debut last night, here she is singing “Wild Horses” as a guest artist on the finale of America’s Got Talent 2009.

Oh, yeah, the song (from her first album, due to be released in November) was also recorded by some dude named Jagger a few years back.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Remembering Jackie Moore (1935 - 2009)



The photo above shows Kathryn Alice “Jackie” Moore, a dear friend of ours for many years who died on September 5th in Saint Joseph’s Hospital in Atlanta. Her family asked Mrs. RWP to be one of the speakers at her memorial service last Sunday afternoon, and here is what she said:

“Jackie Moore was my dear friend for the past 34 years, and she was a lady in every sense of the word. The American Heritage Dictionary defines “lady” this way:

1. A woman having the refined habits, gentle manners, and sense of responsibility often associated with breeding, culture, and high station.

I don’t know how much breeding, culture, and high station there might have been in the little town of Lindale, Georgia, where she grew up, but by the time my husband and I met Jackie in Atlanta in 1975, she definitely had the refined habits, gentle manners, and sense of responsibility that one associates with such a person. She was a joy to know.

2. The female head of a household.

Well, F.M. was definitely the head of his house, but Jackie was -– as we wives like to say -- the neck that turned the head. She was the Lady of the house, and always a gracious hostess. Whenever we would visit them, she always had the coffee pot going and a sweet treat ready. F.M. had a sweet tooth, and Jackie saw to it that that tooth was satisfied.

3. A polite term for any adult member of the feminine sex; the female equivalent of a gentleman.

Jackie was a very caring person and treated everyone alike, whether high-born or low, whether famous or unknown. She loved children and young people. She had a quiet spirit about her and I learned quickly that I could trust her. Anything I ever said to her in confidence never went any further.

4. A woman to whom a man is romantically attached.

Jackie was certainly that. She and F.M. were married after they had known each other for only four weeks, and they were husband and wife for 58 years. We often saw hints of the special relationship they shared. The only possible exception might have been during the Christmas and Easter cantata rehearsal seasons, when on more than one occasion Jackie and I were both tempted to go stay in a motel while our husbands worked out all the kinks in the music through many long hours of choir practice. Jackie sang in the choir and had a beautiful, strong soprano voice. Tammi and Elaine have inherited their soprano voices from her.

5. British, with a capital “L”, the general feminine title of nobility and royal degree of other rank.

Jackie had both Scottish and Cherokee Indian in her natural background, but she was definitely a royal, because she was a child of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. She was content with a cottage down here because she knew they were building a palace for her over there.

Jackie loved God. She talked with her Heavenly Father frequently, and she often heard from Him. One time especially stands out in my mind. When I turned 40, I found out I was pregnant. In those days one did not share such news immediately but waited for things to develop. It happened that I was having a lot of complications, and my doctor was advising me to have a therapeutic abortion because both my own life and the baby’s were in danger. Bob and I prayed and decided we could accept losing the baby if the Lord took it but not if man did. And we prayed together for healing and that the Lord would provide His solution. I was unable to share any of this with Jackie at the time because it happened to be the busiest time of year, around Christmas. During the first week of January, I had a spontaneous miscarriage. The next Sunday night we went to Mt. Paran Church of God as usual. Since the Hawaiians were singing in concert that evening, F.M. was not going to be needed on the platform, so he and Jackie came up to the balcony to sit with us. Before the service began, we talked for a little while, and I was able to share with Jackie everything I had gone through in the last couple of weeks. She got a strange look on her face and said, “Oh, my Lord! I was coming downstairs one day last week to start the coffee before leaving for work, and the Lord said to me, ‘Ellie is pregnant, but it is not a pregnancy to be had.’” God had her ear because she knew His voice. Telling me what she had heard from the Lord helped to bring peace in the time of our storm.

When we decided to move back to Florida one year, F.M. and Jackie took us to the Abbey Restaurant in Atlanta for a farewell dinner. The setting was so beautiful in the sanctuary of an old church. A harpist was playing. In the center of each table was a tall candle. We each received a huge menu made of parchment and were quietly looking over the selections when all of a sudden we smelled smoke and saw flames. Jackie had accidentally set her menu on fire! As we rushed to put it out and they brought another menu, she was unruffled. There was never a dull moment when we were with F.M. and Jackie. She was a lady through it all.

She loved her family so very much. She always spoke with obvious pride and such tenderness about Tammi, and Elaine, and Charles, and her two grandchildren, Josh and Elizabeth, and their spouses, Julie, and Chris, and of course her great-grandson, Jacob. Each time her family grew, her love just expanded too.

Jackie, we shared tears and laughter, joy and sorrow, across many years. You were a very great lady and you were my friend. I will miss you so much, but I know one thing for sure: I will see you in the morning.”

(End of remarks)


As you probably gathered, the music of the church played a prominent part in Jackie’s life, and the memorial service was wonderful in every way. Stan Whitmire played a medley of hymn tune arrangements as only he can. The Sanctuary Choir sang the anthem “Total Praise” as a call to worship. After the scripture reading and prayer by Pastor Kent Hawkins of Mt. Paran Church in Atlanta, the whole congregation sang Fanny Crosby’s hymn, “To God Be The Glory” and then Archie Gaddis sang Jackie’s favorite song, “The Stranger of Galilee.” Three close friends paid tribute to Jackie next, and Pastor Richard Hemphill of Trinity Fellowship in Smyrna gave the eulogy and main sermon. Afterward, the whole congregation then sang “My Savior’s Love” (I Stand Amazed in the Presence of Jesus, the Nazarene) followed by another anthem from the Sanctuary Choir, “Thou, O Lord, Are a Shield For Me (My Glory and the Lifter Of My Head).” Zicia Jones-Martin sang “It Is Well With My Soul.” Joyce Kay sang Rusty Goodman’s song, “Look For Me, For I Will Be There Too” and the whole congregation sang a final hymn, “When We All Get To Heaven, What A Day Of Rejoicing That Will Be.” Pastor Don Munn of Restoration Church in Roswell gave the benediction and closing remarks. It was truly ninety minutes of glorious music and worship as we thanked the Lord for Jackie Moore’s life and influence. As Pastor Hemphill said, we grieve, yes, but we sorrow not as others who have no hope.

We loved you, Jackie. Rest in peace.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Here a leaf, there a leaf, everywhere a leaf, leaf...


Ever the finder and chronicler of useless information, I noticed recently that Yahoo includes on its main page each day a list of that day’s top searches. It provides an eye-opening glimpse into the banality of American culture, the fickleness of the American public, and the shallowness of society in general, I think.

Here is the list of Top Searches for today, September 14, 2009:

1. Taraji P. Henson -- 2,330,000 results
2. Toronto Film Festival -- 45,100,000 results
3. Dr. Oz -- 47,900,000 results
4. Jay Leno -- 34,400,000 results
5. Leaf Peeping -- 999,000 results
6. Kate Gosselin -- 39,000,000 results
7. 2010 World Cup -- 110,000,000 results
8. Ted Kennedy -- 133,000,000 results
9. Milky Way Galaxy -- 6,990,000 results
10. Affordable Housing -- 157,000,000 results

I think “results” means the number of places on the Web where information about the search topic can be found, not the number of searches that were made today. But I could be wrong, of course. Let me repeat that for emphasis. I could be wrong, of course.

Here are some other interesting statistics I “yahooed” on my own:

Jon Gosselin -- 82,100,000 results
Osama bin Laden -- 30,000,000 results
Barack Obama -- 396,000,000 results
Michael Jackson -- 694,000,000 results
Kanye West -- 90,300,000 results
Serena Williams -- 35,700,000 results
Sean Hannity -- 13,700,000 results
Nancy Pelosi -- 4,600,000 results
Yorkshire Pudding -- 1,600,000 results
rhymeswithplague -- 27,400 results

For the record, I have no idea who Taraji P. Henson is, but I do know who Kate Gosselin, Jay Leno, Dr. Oz, and Ted Kennedy are. I also know that Toronto is a city in Canada. No one in his or her right mind would ever admit to “leaf peeping” unless he or she were wearing dark glasses and a trench coat.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Blogging through Italy


Today I want to bring to your attention two English bloggers, cyberfriends of mine, who joined forces and went on holiday to Italy recently. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Daphne and her husband, Stephen, and their friend and fellow Leedsian Leedsite Leedser neighbor, Ian (a.k.a. “Silverback”), who have been posting wonderful snippets lately about their trip. Ian and Daphne are both engaging writers, as well as good photographers, and Ian recently posted in addition the first of some 209 videos. I recommend it for its soundtrack alone. I don’t think he will post all 209, but if the first is any indication of what we have in store, we’re in for a great trip.

So take the time to jump across the pond and have yourself a merry little Christmas look at both Daphne’s and Silverback’s blogs. You may become regular readers. Here are the links:

My Dad's a Communist (Daphne's blog)

Retirement Rocks (Silverback's blog)


Happy reading! Happy looking! Happy poking around once you get there! And don’t forget to come back here!

Friday, September 11, 2009

It tolls for thee.


My thoughts are somewhat disjointed today, but I am going to try to blog anyway.

Back in the early years of television, CBS-TV had a weekly program called You Are There in which famous historical events were re-enacted as though television reporters had been present at the time. After introducing the event for the week, the announcer would solemnly intone, “All things are as they were then, except YOU ARE THERE.” It was usually quite informative, sometimes unintentionally ludicrous -- at least, I think it was unintentionally -- but always entertaining. History, as they say, came alive.

I thought of that line today as our nation observed the eighth anniversary of what has come to be known, simply, as 9/11. Most of us lived through it in real time eight years ago. We were there, over and over and over, as television brought it to us, and brought it to us, and continued to bring it to us. It was almost too horrible not to watch. We wanted to make sure that it was real, that what was unthinkable had actually happened. The unimaginable had occurred.

I dislike the idea of recalling tragedies because going through them once is enough, but I suppose it is necessary to remind ourselves of what was lost and to educate the young about their own past. In my parents’ generation, the remembered day was December 7, 1941, when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. For my generation, the events seared into memory are the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963, and of both Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1968, the Challenger disaster in 1986, and 9/11 in 2001. Thanks to television, we were there for all of them.

Some people know exactly what they were doing and where they were when they heard that John Lennon had been killed. Some people will feel similarly about the death of Michael Jackson, I’m sure. Some people watch far too much television.

The cult of celebrity is all around us. It’s in the very air we breathe. And although what poet John Donne said is true, that any man’s death diminishes me because I am involved in mankind, I prefer to save my grief for more important things than the passing of entertainers.

Today, I grieve.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Post-Labor-Day thoughts


Yesterday was Labor Day in the United States (the equivalent of May Day in the rest of the world), when workers, especially union workers, get their moment in the sun by refraining from a day of work.

We have lots of unions in America.

Jeannelle of Iowa, a dairy farmer’s wife, revealed in her blog yesterday that she was once a member of a labor union when she worked at the John Deere Tractor Works in Waterloo, Iowa, many years ago. She said her union was the UAW, which I thought meant the United Auto Workers, but Jeannelle said it is now known as The International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America nowadays. And they say politics makes strange bedfellows.

My father was a a turret lathe and milling machine operator in an aircraft factory for many years, and as such he was required to be a member of that subdivision of the AFL-CIO (the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations) known in those days as the IAM, the International Association of Machinists. I believe it is still called that today.

[Update, 9/8/2009: I forgot to say that my daughter, being a schoolteacher, has a choice of two unions to belong to, the NEA (National Education Association) and the AFT (American Federation of Teachers).]

Like Jeannelle, I was once briefly a member of a union, too. Between leaving college and joining the Air Force I worked for a few months as a stenographer-typist for the Gulf Coast & Santa Fe Railroad in their Fort Worth and Dallas offices. The union in which membership was required was The Brotherhood of Steamship and Railway Clerks. Later, it became known as The Brotherhood of Steamship, Railway, and Airline Clerks. I don’t know what it is called today, probably something like The Brotherhood, Sisterhood, and GLBT-hood of Railway, Airline, Space Shuttle, and International Space Station Clerks.

Later, I worked for two of the largest corporations in the entire world. One was non-union and one was union. My job in the latter was considered a management position (although it was designated as “non-supervisory” and no one reported to me), so I was not a member of the CWA (Communications Workers of America), the IBEW (the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers), or the IEEE (the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers), the three largest organizations there.

One year, however, sometime back in the eighties, when negotiations over a new contract broke down, we management types from all over the country were sent to work for what turned out to be four weeks in various huge warehouses during a month-long strike/lockout (take your pick). Just so the company could send out its products and continue receiving revenue, you understand. It was all about the money. Their money. My assignment was in Montgomery, Alabama. That was an eye-opening experience that made me appreciate my father in a new way. If I had been an ordinary strike-breaker, someone hired to replace the striking union workers, I suppose I could have been referred to as a “scab.” But since we were low-level managers in the company and given assignments from on high, I never thought of myself in that way. We had just become temporarily expendable and robotic in the same way -- it pains me to say it -- that upper management thought of all the blue-collar workers as expendable and robotic. Perhaps I am being unnecessarily harsh. But I don’t think so. Growing up in a union worker’s home is something one doesn’t outgrow easily. Actually, most of the improvements in benefits that were granted to management in that company over the years were first painstakingly achieved by union negotiators for the non-management employees at the expiration of their previous contract.

Years and years ago, when I was young and stupid -- and all of you who are thinking “and now he’s old and stupid” can just hush your mouths -- I remember having a conversation one day with our departmental secretary in the Big Non-Union Corporation. I casually referred to the janitorial crew who came in each night to clean up after us daytime folks as “the menial people.” I have never forgotten the look on Marlene’s face or what she said next. With a look of complete shock and dismay on her face and with a shocked tone in her voice she said, “There may be menial jobs, but there are no menial people.”

I learned a lesson that day, and I have never forgotten it.

I hope all of you had a very happy Labor Day.

If you were ever a member of a labor union, please tell us which one and include a memory or two.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Our daily bread


I’m not trying to get out of writing a post, really I’m not, but I found another post on someone else’s blog that I want to share with you.

(Side comment from Billy Ray Barnwell: My mother always said “someone’s else” instead of “someone else’s” but her favorite teacher was her high school English teacher who was an English teacher in both senses of the word, by which I mean that she not only taught English but also came from England, the teacher I mean, not my mother, and I have always wondered if “someone’s else” was how people say it in England, or maybe how they used to say it in England in the olden days even if they might not say it that way any more, and so I would like to ask rhymeswithplague’s readers who live in England -- Yorkshire Pudding and Penny and Ian and Daphne -- for their two cents’ worth on the subject or two pence worth or whatever their local expression is, my mother also said the words dictionary and stationery and strawberry in the English fashion even though she was from Philadelphia which means that when she said them they came out as diction’ry and station’ry and strawb’ry which not only do I find charming but also pronounce that way myself because I learned to talk at my mother’s knee just the way she apparently learned to talk by listening to her favorite high school English teacher, or perhaps both my mother and her teacher were just plain wrong, I do not say “someone’s else” although I may change that if RWP’s English friends so indicate, my goodness, I seem to be starting to digress a little, and since that is never a good thing, this is Billy Ray Barnwell signing off for now.)

Whew. I’m glad that’s out of the way.

Anyway, the someone else in this case is Ruth Hull Chatlien who lives in Northern Illinois and earns her income by being a freelance writer in the field of education, and the post I wanted to share with you is here:

(The post I wanted to share with you)

It is food for thought and, in my case, very timely.

I left the following comment:

“Thank you, Ruth, for this wonderful and much-too-distressingly-accurate post, and by “post” I mean “look at myself” (I’m like Humpty Dumpty in Lewis Carroll’s book; when I use a word it means whatever I want it to mean).

“Just when I think I may have devised a plan for solvency, along comes a post like yours to set me straight. Praise God.”

Sunday, September 6, 2009

A double whammy


I don’t usually blog on Sunday, but Dr. John Linna of Neenah, Wisconsin (or is it Dr. John Neenah of Linna, Wisconsin?), a retired Lutheran minister -- at least I think he is retired -- has hit the nail on the head for me today with his spot-on post for “the 14th Sunday after Pentecost.” The first whammy is from him and the second whammy is from the fictional “Pastor Joan” of Pigeon Falls, who is also him. Just read it.

Here it is.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

I (heart) Peggy Noonan, part deux


Back on May 9th of this year, I wrote a post entitled “I (heart) Peggy Noonan.” For those of you who don’t know, Peggy Noonan writes a weekly column for the Opinion page of The Wall Street Journal. She is an excellent communicator; a quarter of a century ago she was a speechwriter for President Ronald Reagan.

For those who (a) just can’t get enough of Peggy Noonan or (b) don’t read the above-mentioned fish wrapper on a regular basis, here is her latest contribution, which I thought was a particularly telling and timely piece:

(Peggy Noonan’s latest contribution, which I thought was a particularly telling and timely piece)

For readers of this post in future days, I don’t know whether the above link will continue to show the column I want you to read or will change to Ms. Noonan’s current column as more weeks and more columns occur. The column I want you to read is entitled “Coruscating On Thin Ice.” If that’s not the one you get, you may have to search through the archives of the WSJ to find it. I apologize for the inconvenience, if, in fact, you encounter an inconvenience. If you don’t encounter an inconvenience, just ignore what I’m saying, or rather what I’m trying to say and saying so poorly. I was never a speechwriter for Ronald Reagan.

For those of you who don’t care for Ms. Noonan, you should be thanking your lucky stars I didn’t decide to link to Ann Coulter.

Left to right: Peggy Noonan, Ann Coulter, some dude named Matt Drudge

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Who’s your Daddy, er, Representative?

In these days of political upheaval, or quasi-political upheaval, or political quasi-upheaval, or whatever you want to call it (unrest, uneasiness, life as usual in America come to mind), I think the least we can do as citizens is know who represents us in Washington, D.C.

Here are the current Congressional District boundaries in Georgia, the state where I live:



Mrs. RWP and I moved from Florida to Marietta, Georgia, in 1975. Our first representative here was Larry McDonald. A physician, Larry had the distinction of being the only sitting member of Congress killed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War. He was a passenger on Korean Air Lines flight 007 when it was shot down over the Sea of Japan in 1983. At the time, he also happened to be the national president of the John Birch Society. A stretch of several miles of Interstate Highway 75 in Cobb County has been named after him. Because of his very conservative political views, I have always thought that it should have been only the far right lane.

Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, was also our representative for a few years. Newt taught history at the University of West Georgia in Carrollton for several years before he was elected to Congress. You might gather, and you would be correct, that this is a very, very conservative area of the country.

We also were represented for a while by Bob Barr, who was the candidate of the Libertarian Party for U.S. President in 2008. A former CIA agent and federal district attorney, Bob is best known for his role during the Clinton impeachment trial. According to Wikipedia, it was Barr, then a Republican, who first introduced a resolution directing the House Judiciary Committee to inquire into impeachment proceedings, months before the Monica Lewinsky scandal came to light. Foremost among Barr’s concerns was apparent obstruction of Justice Department investigations into Clinton campaign fundraising from foreign sources, chiefly the People’s Republic of China. After the Lewinsky scandal came to light, Barr was the first lawmaker in either chamber to call for Clinton’s resignation. We do not lack for colorful characters in our part of the country.

A few years ago we moved into the 6th Congressional District of Georgia. Our representative at first was Johnny Isakson, who with the help of his father owned Northside Realty in Atlanta and without the help of his father taught Sunday School at Mt. Zion Methodist Church in Marietta. Johnny is currently one of Georgia’s two United States Senators. The other one is Saxby Chambliss, who lives way down in south Georgia in the town of Moultrie.

The sixth district is now represented by Tom Price, a physician in Roswell. If Interstate Highway 75 ran through Tom’s district, he would probably be slated to get the lane next to Larry McDonald’s. Currently holding the seat formerly held by Larry McDonald is Phil Gingrey, also a physician and also very conservative. Lawyers around here, liberal or otherwise, don’t seem to stand much of a chance in politics. This could be a good thing.

Because representatives to Congress are supposed to represent roughly the same number of persons, every state’s legislature redraws the Congressional District boundaries every ten years following our national census to reflect the population distribution more accurately. On the map above, the size of a district is inversely proportional to the density of its population. That is, the smaller the geographic area covered by the district, the closer together the people in it live. You can tell by the map that we live very close to our neighbors.

Our neighbor, the 5th District, has been represented by John Lewis for many years. John marched with Dr. Martin Luther King at Selma back in the sixties. As you might imagine, John is not so conservative. Another of our neighbors, the 4th District, has had a variety of interesting characters representing it over the years, including Ben Jones, an actor who had played Cooter on The Dukes of Hazzard; Pat Swindoll, who later spent time in federal prison for accepting bribes; Elliott Levitas, who actually was a lawyer but did not, to my knowledge, spend any time in federal prison; and Cynthia McKinney, who is not so conservative either. She introduced articles of impeachment against President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. She also found herself in the national spotlight in 2006 when she was involved in a confrontation with a Capitol Hill Police officer who did not recognize her as a member of Congress. She left the Democratic Party in September 2007 and was the candidate of the Green Party for U.S. President in 2008.

When you live in Georgia, there is never a dull moment. It’s not all mint juleps, moonlight, and magnolias.

It’s 11 p.m. -- do you know who your representative is?