Thursday, July 31, 2014

Prediction: In 20 years, Anacostia will still have no streetcars, while lines sprout downtown, between Metro and Joint Base Anacostia, and between Metro and DHS/St. E's.

DC Streetcar is moving the four cars onto the H Street Line, which will open some time when pigs fly. Meanwhile, DDOT is spending nearly $4.5 million to study streetcar options on these lines:
  • M Street Southeast and Southwest, from the 11th Street Bridge to the Southwest Waterfront.
  • K and H streets NW between Union Station and Georgetown.
Anacostia, the most transit-dependent area of the city and which was promised the first streetcar line, still has nothing. And nothing is being planned.

I used to masturbate over actor Jonathan Bailey when he was on the Disney Channel series Groove High. His body is more grown up now, but those huge, dark eyes are still the same. So is that lovely, sweet smile.

The General Services Administration has issued its short-list of places where it will locate the new FBI headquarters (getting the world's ugliest building off Pennsylvania Avenue):
  • The former Landover Mall
  • Greenbelt Metro station
  • The GSA warehouse complex in Springfield, Va.
The Greenbelt Metro site has 78 acres, is vacant, and is owned by WMATA. The developer would be Renard Development Co. Downside? It's right on top of the Metro station, which means a major security hassle and possibly shut-down of the northern Green Line during an emergency. It will also need all major utilities.

The former Landover Mall site has 88 acres, is vacant, and has all major utilities in place. Lerner Enterprises (the Lerners own the Washington Nationals) will be the developer. Downside? It is just barely within 2.5 miles of a Metro station, and would remove a major property from the Prince George's tax rolls.

The Springfield, Va., site has 70 acres, is owned by the federal government, it's close to but not on top of Metro, and has all major utilities in place. GSA itself will be the developer. Downside? It means relocating a CIA facility at the site, and it's not clear that GSA has the money to build the new HQ. Why would GSA want a site on Pennsylvania Avenue?

THANK GOD it won't be in the District!!! I, for one, would never want to lose 50 prime acres of real estate from the property tax rolls.

I love those pink grapefruit colored shorts.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Grave of Manuel de Oliveira Lima at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Washington, D.C.

Oliveira Lima was a Brazilian journalist, author, and diplomat who strongly opposed Brazilian monarchism and expansionism. He was a widely published author on trade and diplomatic policy, and wrote what is still the best biography of João VI (King of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves from 1816 to 1822).

During his lifetime, Oliveira Lima collected the third-largest library in Brazil, smaller only than the National Library of Brazil and the Library of the University of São Paulo. Yet, he donated the 40,000-volume collection to the Catholic University of America (CUA) in 1916 out of a fear that it would not receive adequate care in Brazil. The Oliveira Lima Collection still exists, and is considered the finest collection of Luso-Brazilian materials in the U.S. There is no other specialized collection of comparable depth anywhere else in the world -- particularly for the study of Portuguese expansion in the 16th century and for the social and cultural history of Brazil from the arrival of the Portuguese court (1808) to 1930.

From 1923 until his death in 1928, Oliveira Lima served as professor of international law at CUA.

Oliveira died suddenly at his home in Washington, D.C., on March 24, 1928. He was buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery. His tombstone does not include his name; rather, it is inscribed with the Portugese phrase "Aqui jaz um amigo dos livros" (Here lies a friend of books).

Tuesday, July 29, 2014 had sales in the second quarter of $19.34 billion, up 23 percent over last year.

BUT -- it had a LOSS of $126 million. It projected a loss of as much as $810 million in the third quarter. As of today, is $3.15 BILLION in debt with no end in sight.

This company just doesn't make money, despite exploding sales. Quarter after quarter, year after year, LOSES MONEY.
Thank you for fucking us over, President George W. Bush and the Republican Party:

The inflation-adjusted net worth for the typical American household was $87,992 in 2003. Ten years later, it was only $56,335 -- a 36 percent decline. The decline began in 2001, the first year of Bush's presidency. The housing bubble hid a trend of declining financial wealth for the average American, and when that bubble burst in 2008 -- Americans' net worth plunged. With the GOP House obstructing every attempt to correct the economy, the net worth of the average Ameican has continued to stay low.

During the same period, the net worth of wealthy households increased substantially, by 14 percent.

An article in yesterday's New York Times discusses the overload of vintage 1950s and 1960s television shows on cable, and notes that a lot of these shows suck -- despite their stellar reputation.

I pretty much agree with this. A year or two ago, some channel was running an I Love Lucy marathon on Thanksgiving or Veterans Day or something. I watched episode after episode. For every hilarious Vitameatavegemin or grape-stomping episode, there were five or six really awful, unfunny episodes about Lucy spending too much money and hiding it from Ricky, or Lucy trying to get onto Ricky's stage act and Ricky duping her to embarrass her.

Then there's the episode in which Fred Mertz openly advocates drugging your wife whenever they get too uppity. Ricky agrees (the only reason he doesn't drug Lucy is because he has no drugs in the house). Yeesh!

The trailer for Season 3 of Arrow debuted this week. Fans will get a look at the five years Oliver Queen was presumed dead (it turns out he didn't spend all five years on the island), and promosed that Oliver and Felicity will finally get together. We also learn that the tensions between Oliver and Diggle get worse, that a pre-Atom Ray Palmer is showing up, and that Colton Haynes finally debuts as Arsenal.

The trailer leaves unresolved whether Dinah Laurel Lance will finally suit up as Black Canary, although Sara Lance will return. So will Thea Queen and Malcolm Merlyn.

The big news is that Deathstroke is not likely to be the "big bad" during Season 3. Instead, the show is introducing Ras al-Ghul to Starling City, although Warner Bros. Television says that role has still not yet been cast!

* * * *

This is all good news for a fun, thrilling show. But I still wonder why Warner Bros.' TV division can get it so right with shows like Smallville and Arrow, and yet fuck up movies so badly...
Grave of Jan Karski -- the Polish military officer and diplomat who alerted the world to the Holocaust in 1942 -- at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Washington, D.C., in the United States. 2014 is the centenary of Karski's birth.

Jan Karski was born Jan Kozielewski on June 24, 1914, in Łódź, Poland. He was raised Roman Catholic in a pluralistic neighborhood that included a substantial Jewish population.

He attended a prestigious mounted artillery officers' school, graduating in 1936 and joining the 5th Mounted Artillery Regiment. While serving in the military, he completed his diplomatic training and subsequently served in Germany, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and Romania (twice). On January 1, 1939, he started work in the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

During the Nazi German invasion of Poland in September 1939, Karski's unit was attached to the Kraków Cavalry Brigade, where he tried to defend the area between Zabkowice and Częstochowa. After Poland surrendered, he tried to escape to Hungary but was captured by the Red Army (which had invaded Poland from the east). He was interred in a prison camp in Ukraine. After concealing his identity as an officer, the Russians turned him over to the Germans. Thus, he escaped the Katyn massacre (in which the Soviets massacred Polish Army officers in April and May 1940).

Karski escaped while being transported back to Germany and found his way to Warsaw. He joined the ZWZ, the Polish resistance movement, and adopted the nom de guerre "Jan Karski". Due to his diplomatic training, he acted as a courier, transmitting messages to the Polish Government-in-Exile in Paris from Warsaw and making several secret trips to Britain. He was arrested in Czechoslovakia in July 1940 and severely tortured by the Gestapo. Hospitalized, the resistance kidnapped him and smuggled him back to Warsaw. After a short period of rehabilitation, he worked with the Polish Home Army (the successor resistance movement to the ZWZ).

In 1942, the Polish Home Army selected Karski to convey information about the Holocaust to Polish prime minister-in-exile Władysław Sikorski in London. He was twice smuggled into the Warsaw Ghetto to obtain first-hand evidence of what was happening to Polish Jews. Disguised as a camp guard, he also got close to the Bełżec death camp.

Karski arrived in London with microfilm containing documentation about the Holocaust. His documentation, and his first-hand accounts, provided the Allies with one of the earliest and most accurate accounts of the Holocaust.

He spoke with British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden, met journalist Arthur Koestler (who wrote the 1940 novel Darkness at Noon), and on July 28, 1943, personally informed President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the Oval Office about the situation in Poland and the Jewish Holocaust. In 1944, Karski published Courier from Poland: The Story of a Secret State, a book about his experiences which was later serialized in Collier's Magazine.

After the war, Karski obtained a Ph.D. from Georgetown University in 1952, and was naturalized as an American citizen in 1954. He taught at Georgetown University for 40 years, and among his students was Bill Clinton.

Following the fall of communism in Poland in 1989, the democratic Polish government awarded Karski the Order of the White Eagle (the highest Polish civil decoration) and the Order Virtuti Militari (the highest military decoration awarded for bravery in combat).

Karski died of heart and kidney disease in Washington, D.C., on July 13, 2000. He was interred at Mount Olivet Cemetery.

In 1965, Karski married the 54-year-old dancer and choreographer, Pola Nireńska. She was a Polish Jew whose family (with the exception of her parents) died in the Holocaust. She committed suicide in 1992. The couple had no children.

On June 2, 1982, Yad Vashem recognised Jan Karski as Righteous Among the Nations. In 1994, Karski was made an honorary citizen of Israel in honor of his efforts on behalf of Polish Jews during the Holocaust. Shortly before his death, he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and formally recognized by the United Nations General Assembly. On April 23, 2012, President Barack Obama bestowed on Karski America's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Series two of Broadchurch is about close to wrapping up. David Tennant is already filming Gracepoint (the American version of the show), and what remains to be filmed of Broadchurch should be done by the end of August. (Andrew Buchan, who plays Mark Latimer, claimed filming would be done in October, but I find that highly unlikely. Eight episodes, at 10 days each, leaves filming ending in August -- not October.)

The other day, I was talking with someone about a TV show, and I said, I pretty much agree with critics who say that this show isn't very good. I a lots of episodes, but for every hilarious one there were five or six really unfunny episodes.

The other person responded with, "Blasphemer! [That actor] is God. The 'really awful' examples you cite are the core of the show and part of what made it a classic."

I know he was joking when he slapped me down, but he didn't respond to what I'd asserted and he laid down the law in return.

I replied, "I repeat: Most episodes of [the show] are not very good. Period. They aren't funny, they aren't well-written, and they are repetitive. Worse: [the actor's other series] is appallingly bad and nearly unwatchable, and repeats most of the gags and situations from the earlier show."

He replied, "You'd sound/read less persnickety if you'd drop a few 'in my opinion's here and there."

Really? He certainly didn't drop any such caveats in his reply.

In fact, what I suspect he's really saying is, "Your opinion made me mad. You are confusing fact and opinion by forcefully stating your opinion. I want to point out your ignorance."

What he's really doing is making assumptions about me. I think.

What he's really doing is imputing stupidity to me, as well as stubborn jackassery.

Frankly, it seems to me that opinion -- "this show sucks" -- and facts -- "this show ran for X seasons" are pretty easily distinguished.

Advising me to distinguish is a way of knocking me back, putting me in my place, and making sure that I do the extra things no one else has to.

That makes me so mad... It's diffficult to say just how angry I get at that.

Monday, July 28, 2014

July 28, 1914 -- World War I begins.

This is the Argonne Cross at Arlington National Cemetery in the United States. A portion of Ft. Myer, a U.S. Army base which abuts the cemetery in the west, can be seen through the trees.

The Maas-Argonne Offensive, also called the Battle of the Argonne Forest, was a part of the final Allied offensive of World War I that stretched along the entire western front. It lasted from September 26 to November 11, 1918. Of the 187,000 Allied casualties, 117,000 were American. (The Germans lost 90,000 to 120,000.) After the war, many American dead were repatriated from cemeteries in Europe. About 2,100 remains were reinterred in Section 18 at Arlington National Cemetery.

In 1921, the Argonne Unit of the American Women's Legion succesfully won permission from the U.S. Department of War to erect a plain white cross in Section 18 in honor of those Americans who died during the Battle of the Argonne Forest. The white marble memorial, which is 13 feet high and adored with an eagle and wreath on its intersection, was dedicated on November 13, 1923.

A grove of 19 pine trees once formed a semi-circle to the sides and rear of the cross, as a symbol of the forest in which the soldiers fought and died. Many of these trees have since died, fallen over in storms, or been replaced. A more loose grove of pines now adorns Section 18.

Heavenly Priapus, but Rafael Alencar has the legs of a god.

He's not the most handsome man in adult film. And he's aging very fast, and losing his looks very quickly. (I think the party-boy lifestyle he's leading isn't helping much.) His body is lovely -- muscular and soft -- and his penis is like that of an ox. The kind of cock that can make a man weep.

I wish he showed some personality in screen, though.

Metro has released a first draft of its strategic capital plan, and it is a doozy. Metro envisions creating a parallel "Blue/Orange II" line from Pentagon to Rosslyn to Union Station and a new leg from from Union Station to Navy Yard.

This would essentially create an "inner leg" for the subway system. WMATA did a study that showed that most system users ride only in the core. By creating an "inner leg", these users can be shunted aside and ridership pressure on the rest of the system alleviated. The capital plan also builds on Metro's previously released capital "wish list" for a Farragut Tunnel (for pedestrians) and a new bridge paralleling the existing Yellow/Blue Line bridge. Pedestrian tunnels would also link the new line to the Union Station, Rosslyn, Navy Yard, Federal Center Southwest, and Capitol South stations. Metro says it would use the old B&O Railroad II line west into Virginia if need be.

It's an interesting proposal.

However... Republican Robert J. Smith served as one of Maryland's representatives on the Metro board of directors from 2003 to 2006, including a year as chairman in 2004. Smith, however, called the first draft of Metro's subway master plan idiotic pie-in-the-sky-dreaming that will never be enacted.
I refuse to post these to the front page of Wikipedia any more. But I will post them here. The article I wrote or assisted with is in bold.
Did You Know ... that Michael P. Malone, 10th president of Montana State University and one of Montana's preeminent historians and writers, co-authored Montana: A History of Two Centuries (the "definitive history of the state") with Richard B. Roeder) and that his final work, The American West (co-written with Richard W. Etulain), was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize?

"The Old House" -- the residence of vampire Barnabas Collins in the supernatural soap opera Dark Shadows.

Most fans of the show know that Seaview Terrace (also known as the Carey Mansion) in Newport, Rhode Island, served as the exterior of fictional Collinwood mansion. But few know about the history behind "The Old House"...........

Known by various names -- including "The Colonnades" and "Spratt House" -- the mansion came to the attention of the production staff probably because Lyndhurst, a much more famous house, stood nearby. The producers had no money, and could not afford to pay landowners a fee to photograph their mansions. So they "stole" shots (photographed mansions and locales from public streets) instead. The Hudson Valley north of New York City and Newport, Rhode Island, both have large numbers of 1800s-era Victorian mansions, and both were scouted by the show for possible stock footage shots. (Lyndhurst later served as Collinwood in the 1970 movie House of Dark Shadows and the 1971 movie Night of Dark Shadows.)

* * * * * *

What later became known as "The Old House" sat on an estate purchased in 1849 by Moses Hicks Grinnell, a grocer (Grinnell & Minturn), shipper, and insurance executive. His wife was Julia Irving, niece of author Washington Irving (daughter of Washington's brother, Pierre). While a number of trading villages had long been established on the east bank of the Hudson River, it wasn't until after the invention of the railroad in the 1840s and its push north up the Hudson Valley that wealthy individuals in New York City began turning to the Hastings-on-Hudson, Dobbs Ferry, Tarrytown, Irvington, Ossining, and Croton-on-Hudson areas to build large rural estates. The land was cheap and undeveloped, and had spectacular views of the Hudson River and its palisades.

Grinnell had suffered a breakdown due to overwork, and been ordered by his doctor to get away from New York City and the stress of business. Grinnell decided to buy about 38 acres of land adjacent to the northern boundary Irving's estate-home, Sunnyside. Sunnyside was named "Wolfert's Roost" before Irving renovated it, so Grinnell named his estate "Wolfert's Dell". Grinnell built a cut stone, two-story Victorian mansion with wraparound porch on the southern part of the estate, and moved into the house in the summer of 1851. Grinnell's home was less than a quarter-mile north of Sunnyside, and by mutual agreement there was no fence between the two properties. Grinnell landscaped the area between Wolfert's Dell and Sunnyside into a vast lawn dotted with strategically placed shade trees, and the gravel walkways on both estates connected to one another. It was common for the Grinnell grandchildren to play at Sunnyside, and for Irving's young relations to do the same at Wolfert's Dell.

Almost immediately after taking up residence at Wolfert's Dell, Grinnell began construction on a "guest house" -- a two-story, Neoclassical structure on the northern part of the estate. The "guest house" (it had no formal name, so that's what I'm calling it) was a two-story brick structure with a white stucco exterior. It wasn't big, just four rooms on each floor with a kitchen, servants' hall, and maid's bedroom in the basement. Window and door treatments were about the only adornment, and they were in a Neoclassical style. The mansion faced the Hudson, however, and had a bay on the first and second floors on the south side.

Grinnell finished the "guest house" in 1853 and his niece and her husband moved into it. Mary Russell Grinnell had marred Henry Holdrege, a New York City merchant and inventor. (Note the spelling of the Holdrege name, which many Web sites get wrong!) The couple's first child, George Ward Holdrege, was born in 1847 and later became a famous Nebraska cattleman and railroader (he was general manager for the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad). The couple's second child was born in 1850, and Moses Grinnell allowed the growing family to live rent-free in the "guest house" as a means of taking the financial pressure off them.

Moses Grinnell didn't live long at Wolfert's Dell. Grinnell constructed a four-story, block-long mansion in New York City at 5th Avenue and 14th Street in 1846, and he returned to live there in the 1860. Grinnell was a backer of Abraham Lincoln (who dined at Grinnell's mansion on his way to Washington, D.C., for the inaugural), and spent the Civil War engaged in relief, fund-raising, and other efforts.

* * * * * *

Moses Grinnell and Henry Holdrege both died in 1877. James H. Banker, vice president of the Bank of New York, purchased the entire estate upon Grinnell's death. (Some Web sites claim that Edward S. Jaffray, the noted investment banker and stockbroker and founder of Piper Jaffray & Hopwood, purchased the southern part of the estate and the Wolfert's Dell mansion. This is not true.) Banker was another of those landowners who didn't live long, and he died in 1885. Banker's wife, Ellen, inherited the estate. Ellen Banker died in 1903, and her will stipulated that the estate was to be divided into five equal portions and given to her four blood-descendants and a foundling whom the Bankers had treated as an adopted daughter. There was some squabbling over the payments to the executors, but in time the property was put up for sale with John L. Travis, an Irvington realtor. According to court documents, both mansions were part of the estate still. The property then was owned by Russell Hopkins.

* * * * * *

In September 1907, Joseph Lawrence purchased the Banker property for $195,000 (about $5 million today), and transferred it to his son-in-law, Russell Hopkins. This purchase quickly got caught up in yet another lawsuit. Russell Hopkins' father, Dr. John Hopkins, was an Atlanta millionaire. He made his fortune selling patent medicines and "Anti-Kink", a hair straightener sold to African Americans. He plowed his profits into chemical manufacturing and then banking, and was fabulously wealthy. Russell, however, was a callow youth and a cad, and decidedly disliked in Atlanta society. In December 1905, Russell Hopkins met Vera Lawrence Siegrist, heir to the Listerine fortune. Dr. Joseph Lawrence, Vera's grandfather, had co-invented Listerine in 1879 with chemist Jordan Wheat Lambert. Lawrence sold his patent rights to the pharmaceutical company Lambert Pharmacal in 1885. Not only did he continue to receive large royalty payments, but the patent sale alone brought him an immense fortune. Vera's parents were dead, and she lived with her grandparents in St. Louis and Kansas City. The Lawrences began an extended stay in Atlanta just after Christmas 1905. When they moved to New York City in the spring of 1906, Russell followed. He bought a yacht there, and invited the Lawrences out on cruises quite often. Then, one day in October, he left the grandparents behind, got hold of Vera, sailed up the Hudson to Peekskill, and induced a Methodist paster to marry them on the boat. He was 22; she was just 15. The elopement estranged Vera from her family for a time, but they eventually relented.

It was just about six or seven months after his marriage that Russell Hopkins read a newspaper advertisement about the Banker property, inspected it, and was told it was for sale for $275,000. He refused to pay that amount. However, he did tell his father-in-law about it. In April, Dr. Joseph Lawrence purchased the property for $195,000 from another realtor. He deeded it to Russell five months later. Realtor John L. Travis was furious. He sued Lawrence's realtor, arguing that Hopkins had deprived him of his commission by asking Joseph Lawrence to buy the land for him. Travis won the suit in 1910 after a court found that Hopkins had engaged in deception to avoid paying the higher price and to deprive Travis of his commission.

The Hopkinses later had three daughters and a son. Russell Hopkins was a hunting enthusiast who doted on his kids, and he spent $25,000 ($635,000 today) to build an extensive private zoo on the estate. Among the animals he kept were polar bears, zebras, and a hippopotamus. He opened the zoo to the public, and extensively improved his property in numerous other ways. Among the changes Hopkins made was to add a portico to all four sides of the "guest house". The portico extended from the second floor cornice, and was supported by smooth, Grecian-style columns. A large, semi-circular set of steps was added to the west side of the portico, which led to the lawn. The Hopkinses renamed the estate Veruselle. (Vera + Russell, get it?) Wolfert's Dell got the new name of "The Arcades", while the newly renovated guest house was called "The Colonnades".

* * * * * *

Russell Hopkins was appointed U.S. consul in Panama, and spent most of the next decade there. He died in New York City on July 16, 1919, just a week after falling ill with pneumonia. Vera married John Daniell, son of the founder of John Daniell Sons (one of New York's oldest department stores), in 1925. She passed away in 1928, leaving behind Josephine (age 19), John (age 16), Susie (age 14), and Minnie (age 10).

Vera left behind a $7 million estate of her own, which included royalty income from the Listerine patent. It was discovered at the time of her death that Russell had left his wife a life-interest in his estate, which meant she owned it only so long as she lived and that it must pass to his children after her death. Russell's estate included $225,000; a mansion at 1045 Fifth Avenue in New York City; the Veruselle estate (which included both mansions); a house in Old Forge, New York; an oceanfront home in Palm Beach, Florida; and the yacht Sea Phantom. The four kids jointly inherited the Irvington estate, which by now was 54 acres in size.

The problem was that everyone and yet no one owned Veruselle. The two mansions and the estate were too expensive for just a single child to keep up, and yet the children could not agree to establish a maintenance fund jointly financed and administered by all four of them. So they decided to sell everything and keep the money.

On March 8, 1929, 17 acres of land and "The Colonnades" was sold for $105,000 ($1.4 million) to William R. Spratt, Jr. The remaining property was put up for sale, but no buyer was ever found. By 1941, "The Arcades" was in such ruin that it was valueless. The Hopkins kids (the youngest, Minnie, was now 23 years old) decided to abandon it. They'd not paid taxes to either the town of Tarrytown or Greenburg for three years, and were in arrears to the tune of $22,000 ($355,000). "The Arcades" and its 34 acres were sold at a tax sale in 1941. Someone torched "The Arcades" in 1963 and it was demolished in 1978.

* * * * * *

"The Colonnades" now began to be called "The Spratt House". Spratt was a very well known stockbroker and vice president of the investment firm Howe, Snow Co. He left the brokerage in 1932 and became a highly influential utilities underwriter. In 1935, Spratt was asked by the Securities and Exchange Commission to lead a major study of investment trusts. Hundreds of accountants worked under him, and his study was going to be the foundation of major new regulatory laws. Sadly, Spratt didn't live to see this. In June 1938, he had an operation, contracted pneumonia, and died suddenly in Washington, D.C., at the age of 47 on June 20, 1938.

* * * * * *

The Spratt estate passed into the hands of Anna Gould.

Anna Gould was the decidedly plain-looking daughter of railroad robber-baron Jay Gould. She was born in 1875, and in 1880 her father purchased Lyndhurst -- a 550-acre estate and manor house which abutted the Veruselle estate on the north. The Lyndhurst mansion was built in 1838 by New York City mayor William Paulding, Jr. Jay Gould died in 1892, leaving Anna a massive fortune estimated to be $72 million ($988 million). Anna married the destitute French nobleman, the Comte de Castellane, on March 14, 1895. She gained a title; he gained her money. Over the next decade, the Comte spent nearly $10 million ($138 million) living the life of the idle rich. He also fucked his way through more than 20 other nubile, beautiful young women. Appalled at her husband's largesse and tired of his infidelity, Anne Gould divorced him in 1906. Two years later, Anna married Hélie de Talleyrand-Périgord, Duc de Sagan. He was the Comte's cousin, but he also had a fortune of his own. Theirs was a happy marriage, but he died of a heart attack in Paris in 1937.

In May 1939, Anna Gould returned to the United States, announced she was taking up her American citizenship again, and purchased Lyndhurst (which by now had shrunk to just 67 acres). She later acquired "The Colonnades" and its 17 acres, although just when is not clear. She probably did so in late 1940 after the African American religious cult leader Father Divine purchased a 70-acre estate and house north of her property in October 1940. (The Duchess was not amused.) Gould installed her bodyguard, former detective agency founder Raymond C. Schindler, in "The Colonnades". Schindler died in 1959, and Gould passed on in 1961.

Gould left Lyndhurst to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, but her heirs contested the will. Eventually, the will was upheld, and the "Spratt Estate" (as the land was now called) was sold off in the 1960s (the date is unclear) to the Robert Martin Corp., a large real estate development company which was at the time the largest landowner in the area. (The company also owned the old Wolfert's Dell property as well as Willowbrook, a former estate just east of Sunnyside.) My assumption is that the sale occurred in 1965, as the settlement between Gould's executors and the heirs occurred in the fall of 1964. But it could have been as late as 1967 or 1968, since some sources claim that the Dark Shadows staff worked with the Gould estate to get permission to film at "The Colonnades".

In the spring of 1966, "The Colonnades" was filmed by the Dark Shadows production team to represent the original Collinwood Estate mansion ("The Old House"). Permission was obtained to scout the mansion, and actor Jonathan Frid, in costume and makeup as Barnabas Collins, posed inside "The Colonnades" for photographs. These photos, however, were never used. Arsonists set "The Colonnades" afire in 1969 and it burned to the ground.

The Robert Martin Corp. was never able to develop the property. Local residents strongly opposed riverside development and the loss of open space, and black residents in the area demanded that the company partner with one of the local black-owned real estate development firms as a way of compensating the community for decades of racial discrimination.

* * * * * *

In 1974, the Unification Church obtained both "The Colonnades" and Wolfert's Dell properties for $1.35 million. By now, the estate totalled just 39 acres.

In 1998, the Unification Church tried to develop the land for single-family homes. When the National Trust got wind of it, they negotiated a deal whereby Westchester County purchased the land at full market value ($4.5 million) from the church, while the National Trust agreed to maintain the land for 99 years and make improvements. These improvements included conducting a cultural landscape survey of the property; stabilizing and preserving what remained of "The Colonnades" and "The Arcades" (as well as extant outbuildings and zoo structures, many of which were still in good condition); general clearing and debris removal; and restoration of the historic vistas of the river.

Almost nothing remains of "The Old House" today. A circular fountain a few yards east-southeast of the old front doors is still there, as are the foundations. The foundations of an old garage also exist nearby, and you can walk into the basement of this garage (where a summer kitchen and servants' quarters once existed). Some outbuildings and a few of the old zoo cages and exhibits also remain standing.
Sage grouse at dawn.

This is the best book about the start of the war. By the end of August, the war was stalemated, and would remain that way for the next four years.

Millions would die trying to move the lines a hundred yards this way or that. In the Battle of the Somme, 310,000 people would die and another 1.1 million were wounded or gassed.

July 28, 1914 -- Austria-Hungary declares war after rejecting Serbia's conditional acceptance of part of the July Ultimatum following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, starting World War I.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

"You went to bed with him awfully fast. A few frilly words, and you're counting ceiling tiles!!"

- Steve Martin, Roxanne

The massive Italian movie studio, Cinecittà, has opened a theme park next to the studio.

I'd love to see Cincecittà!! Some of the Ben-Hur statues are still there (although pretty decrepit). It's too bad that they sold the horse racing arena built for Ben-Hur. (There was a similar practice track right next door.) It would have been cool to see them do chariot races there.

If Universal Studios or Paramount can make a ride out of their backlots, why can't Cinecittà?

Grave of Mary Surratt, executed by hanging on July 7, 1865, for her role in the conspiracy to assassinate Abraham Lincoln. The original headstone (which was quite similar to this, although slightly more decorative at the top) was defaced and broken by 1968. It was replaced with a large, orate one wit a big brass plaque asserting her innocence. At some point in the 1980s or 1990s, the Surratt Society replaced it with an approximation of the original headstone.

To the left and right of the grave, in unmarked plots, lie Surratt's children, Isaac and Anna. Her other child, John Jr. (who was John Wilkes Booth's co-conspirator) is buried in Baltimore, Maryland.

I refuse to post these to the front page of Wikipedia any more. But I will post them here. The article I wrote or assisted with is in bold.
Did You Know ... although the war lasted just 10 weeks, the timeline of the Spanish–American War begins with events occurring as early as 1892 and as late as 1899, and includes the Cuban War of Independence, the sinking of the USS Maine, the destruction of half of the Spanish Navy in the Battle of Manila Bay, the U.S. Navy's bombardment of San Juan, the invasion of Guantánamo Bay, the capture of Guam, the Battle of Las Guasimas, the charge up San Juan Hill, the destruction of half the Spanish Navy at the Battle of Santiago de Cuba, the Battle of Manila, and the ratification of the first independent constitution of the Philippines by the Malolos Congress?
Some of Ray Harryhausen's work. It's amazing that his Harpy is only the size of a forefinger, but his Medusa is the size of a small dog!

Tony Dungy is a right-wing fundamentalist crypto-Christian full of hate for gay people. On Tuesday, July 21, Dungy said that he would never have hired openly gay NFL football player Michael Sam on any of his teams. When outraged fans castigated Dungy for his statement, he clarified his stand: "I do not believe Michael's sexual orientation will be a distraction to his teammates or his organization. I do, however, believe that the media attention that comes with it will be a distraction."

Because, you know, Dungy has never done anything controversial. Like refusing to fire Mike Shula (Bucs GM Rich McKay forced him to do that), or hiring Titans offensive coordinator Les Steckel, or moving Bucs receivers coach Clyde Christiensen to offensive coordinator.

More of that silly "hate the sin, not the sinner -- but string up fags by their thumbs because you hate the sin" talk. Baloney, Tony Gungy! I call bullshit on you!!!!!!!!!!!!!

By Dungy's logic, NO ONE should ever have hired a black man for anything in the NFL. Most especially a coaching position.
The McMahon family monument at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Washington, D.C. It's dated to 1905, and is one of those ornate Victorian funerary monuments that are so eye-catching. Mt. Olivet has very few of these monuments, actually. Most of the funerary markers here are just normal granite headstones.

The Washington Post has an opinion piece up about the "jobless future".

The piece is by Vivek Wadhwa, a fellow at Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford University. He's also director of research at Center for Entrepreneurship and Research Commercialization at Duke, and a distinguished fellow at Singularity University.

Wadhwa's argument is that the recession is going to be never-ending. Massive advances in robotics, automation, and computerization are going to simply make most jobs irrelevant.

Within two decades, we will have almost unlimited energy, food, and clean water; advances in medicine will allow us to live longer and healthier lives; robots will drive our cars, manufacture our goods, and do our chores. There won't be much work for human beings. Self-driving cars will be commercially available by the end of this decade and will eventually displace human drivers -- just as automobiles displaced the horse and buggy -- and will eliminate the jobs of taxi, bus, and truck drivers. Drones will take the jobs of postmen and delivery people.
Maybe it's not a jobless future. Maybe it's a future in which writing literature or poetry, or painting or sculpting, or learning history, or teaching, or all those things under-valued by the "free market" are the only jobs worth doing. Maybe it's a "jobless" future in that blue-collar, grunt-work jobs with high pay will no longer exist, and will be replaced with a working class which is more restrained, less materialistic, and less alienated.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

This is the most garish, ugly, and self-aggrandizing tomb I've ever seen. It's right at the entrance of Mt. Olivet Cemetery -- the Roman Catholic burying ground in Washington, D.C.

Sure he might have been the "World's Greatest Dad". But what about mom??? And do mom and dad really need a micro-apartment to live in during eternity?

There are three of the most ugly, un-classy, crude, and appalling tombs in a row, right at the front of the cemetery. It's grotesque. I assume the family likes this, but.... wow. I think Jesus would much rather have had them spend the money on hungry children.

How we treat 57,000 helpless children at the border will reveal what kind of people Americans are.

There may be hope yet....

As the article linked-to above notes, comic book sales in stores are depressingly low. Superior Spider-Man -- the biggest-selling comic today -- has more than 2.3 million units sold in 2013. Yet, just 100,000 of these were in comic book stores. The rest were online.

Finding a good pricing model for online work is essentially coming down to an auction. The work is produced, and it is auctioned off to readers, with the artists/writers using the proceeds to produce the next work.

That's an intriguing sales model, and one that may prove -- at last -- to be one that works on the Internet.