Friday, April 29, 2016

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 ... Spanish Army Brig. Gen. José Toral y Vázquez was blamed by the Spanish people for his country's defeat in the Spanish–American War, and went insane from the abuse?
It's like Deadmau5 meets Dark Helmet!

It is the coolest Spirited Away tattoo ever.

I've actually done this, and yes -- the calls stopped.

So, an entire season of The Venture Bros. went by, and we didn't see a single scene with Dr. Orpheus. Much less any other member of the Order of the Triad.

I'm not sure if I should be happy or sad.

I spent an hour raking leaves in my front yard on Wednesday. And even though I wore gloves, I promptly got some heavy-duty blisters. Again. I don't know why I'm so prone to blisters in this one spot. I don't get them anywhere else.

I tried hiring a yard boy, but his mom said she didn't like him talking to strangers and so he had to come inside again....

Then I hired another lawn-boy, but he so distracted all the boys that my neighbors complained, and I had to get rid of him...

He has that sort of lean, very hard body with translucent skin that I find so very attractive.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Last night, I watched Agatha Christie's Murder On the Orient Express on blu-ray. It's a terrific film, and I think Albert Finney got Poirot right in ways that no one else has come close to (not even David Suchet).

Christie's novel is based on the Lindbergh baby kidnapping.

In 1932, 30-year-old Charles Lindbergh was probably the most famous American there was. He'd crossed the Atlanic Ocean in the "Spirit of St. Louis" single-handed, and was generally worshipped as a hero by nearly everyone.

Lindbergh and his wife, Anne, lived at Hopewell House (later renamed Highfields), a small estate in a rural area of Hunterdon County in west-central New Jersey. Anne was the daughter of Dwight Morrow, a partner in J.P. Morgan & Associates and a U.S. Senator. The Lindberghs had married on May 27, 1929, at Next Day Hill, the Morrow estate in Englewood, New Jersey. Anne conceived six months later, and Charles Lindbergh, Jr. was born at the Lindbergh apartment in New York City on June 22, 1930.

Immediately, after "the Eaglet's" birth, the Lindberghs began to look for a secluded property where they could build a home. They wanted it within easy driving distance of Englewood and New York City, as well as Princeton University -- where Charles Sr. was working on aircraft design. In late summer 1930, they purchased 425 acres in the Sourland Mountains near Princeton. Noted architect Chester Aldrich of Delano & Aldrich (who had also designed Next Day Hill) designed a 2.5-story, mixed French/English Tudor Revival home for the couple. The 14 room, six-bath home was made of rubble stone and concrete, and covered in white stucco.

Construction on the house began in March 1931. The Lindberghs spent their first night in the partially-completed house on October 31, and construction was nearing completion in early 1932. Generally, the Lindberghs spent the week at Next Day Hill. They'd travel to Hopewell House on Saturday, and stay until Monday or Tuesday.

On Saturday, February 27, the Lindberghs traveled to Hopewell House. Charles, Anne, and the baby all had colds, so they decided to stay at Hopewell an extra two days rather than make the trip back to Englewood...

* * * * * * *

At 8:00 pm on Tuesday, March 1, 1932, nurse Betty Gow put 20-month-old Charles Lindbergh, Jr. to bed in his crib on the second floor of the Lindbergh home. Around 9:30 pm, Charles Lindbergh, sitting in the library below the nursery, heard a noise like orange crate slats breaking. He thought nothing of it, since a bulging orange crate was in the kitchen. At 10:00 pm, Gow went to the baby's bedroom to discover him missing.

Charles Lindbergh rushed to the nursery, and found a note in a white envelope on the window sill. Twenty minutes later, the local police, the New Jersey State Police, and a huge crush of newspaper and radio reporters were on site. A tire print was discovered in the mud outside the house. Shortly thereafter, the police discovered three pieces of a home-made extension ladder in a nearby bush. One of the sections had broken during the ascent or descent of the kidnapper. Alongside the ladder was a three-quarter inch carpenter's chisel. Traces of mud were found on the floor of the nursery. A single footprint was found under the nursery window. A fingerprint expert found 400 partial fingerprints (mostly on the ladder). However, since the police failed to control the crime scene, reporters had flooded the house -- touching most rooms, examining items, and even touching the ladder. Curiously, no adult fingerprints were found in the nursery, even though many adults admitted to having touched items in the room.

The ransom note demanded $50,000 (close to $900,000 in 2016 dollars). A secret mark (two interlocking blue circles, surrounding a red circle, with holes punched through it) was at the bottom of the note.

Lindbergh immediately took charge of the case. One would think that the police would have taken charge, but not this time. For one thing, the reputations of both the local and state police were very poor when it came to kidnappings. Kidnapping was a state, not a federal crime, and more often than not police involvement led to the death of the kidnap victim rather than their retrieval. Most people didn't call the police, and just paid the ransom. Moreover, policework was in its infancy. The local police in Hunterdon County mostly wrote traffic tickets, and had almost no training in even the most rudimentary detection techniques. (The Lindbergh fingerprint man, for example, had only recently been a road cop.) The state police weren't much better, and it was clear that all the police officers present were highly nervous. They were in the presence of a man nearly all of them idolized, and they were desperate not to fail him. They were also incredibly desperate to please him, and this meant agreeing to nearly everything Lindbergh insisted on -- even when this meant refusing to engage in even the most fundamentally important police procedures (such as securing the crime scene and maintaining confidentiality of information).

Lindbergh was supremely confident of his own judgment and intuition. It had served him incredibly well in the past five years, and guided him unerringly across the Atlantic Ocean. He was a loner, someone who did not feel the need to rely on others. And he believed heavily in the power of his own charisma, personality, and leadership. Given the exceedingly poor reputation of the police, state and local, he felt he was at least as qualified as leading the investigation into his son's kidnapping -- and probably better equipped. After all, he was the hero of the age. What police officer could say anything as much?

Lindbergh and the police initially believed the kidnapping had been perpetrated by organized crime. The letter, which was full of grammatical and spelling errors, also seemed to have been written by a German, they believed. The police contacted Mickey Rosner, a Mafia associate, who in turn talked to a wide range of mobsters. None of them admitted to kidnapping the Lindbergh baby, but many of them offered to help find the boy.

A reward of $75,000 ($1.3 million in 2016 dollars) was offered for any information leading to the recovery of the Lindbergh baby.

* * * * * * * *

On March 6, a second ransom letter arrived at the Lindbergh home via the mail. Postmarked in Brooklyn on March 4, the letter carried the correct secret marks and raised the ransom to $70,000. Further analysis revealed that the nursery ransom note and the second ransom note had once been part of the same piece of paper.

A third letter was received in the mail on March 9 by Col. Henry Breckenridge, the Lindbergh's lawyer. It too came from Brooklyn and contained the secret marks. This letter appointed Breckenridge an intermediary between the family and kidnappers, specified a certain size box for the ransom, and warned the Lindberghs not to involve the police.

Meanwhile, retired Bronx school teacher John F. Condon wrote a letter to the Bronx Home News newspaper offering his own $1,000 reward if the kidnapper(s) would turn the child over to a Catholic priest. It appeared in the paper on March 8. (Condon was a bit of an eccentric and publicity hound, and was well known in the Bronx has a "local personality".) On March 9, Condon received a letter from the kidnapper(s) authorizing Condon to be the intermediary with Lindberghs. The Condon letter also contained the secret marks. Lindbergh gave Condon the $70,000 ransom. Per the Condon note's instructions, Condon placed a classified ad in the New York American newspaper: "Money is Ready. Jafsie". ("Jafsie" was the pronunciatin of Condon's initials: J.F.C.)

On the afternoon of March 12, Condon received an anonymous telephone call warning him to be home that evening and to wait for a letter. About 8:30 p.m., taxicab driver Joseph Perrone delivered a new note, given to him by a stranger. This message told Condon to go to a vacant hot-dog stand about 100 feet from a Jerome Avenue subway station, where he'd find further instructions. Condon found the hot-dog stand note, which told him to go to Woodlawn Cemetery near 233rd Street and Jerome Avenue. Condon waited at the locked front gate for the kidnapper. After about 15 minutes, stranger appeared inside the cemetery, waving a white handkerchief. The man identified himself as "John". Condon and "John" talked briefly before footsteps inside the cemetry startled the kidnapper. He climbed over the fence, dropped to the street, and walked swiftly toward Jerome Avenue.

The footsteps turned out to be those of a cemetery security guard. After assuring the guard that all was fine, Condon ran after "John". He caught up to him at the southern tip of the lake in Van Cortlandt Park. Condon and "John" walked to a bench near a tennis shack, where they talked for almost an hour! Condon showed "John" some large pins which had been used to pin a blanket over Baby Charles. "John" recognized them as the pins from the Lindbergh home. They discussed how the ransom should be paid, and the stranger agreed to prove he was genuine by furnishing the child's sleepsuit. According to Condon, the man sounded foreign but stayed in the shadows -- and Condon was unable to get a close look at his face. When they finished talking, the man ran off into the trees.

Police were convinced Condon had talked to a kidnapper. Condon said that "John" had told him the kidnapping had been planned for a year; in the nursey room ransom note, the same claim had been made.

On March 16, Condon received a package in the mail containing a baby's sleeping suit. Lindbergh positively identified it as the same suit his son was wearing on March 2. Condon placed another ad in the newspaper, using code given to him by "John", saying he was ready to pay the ransom. On March 21, Condon received a note in the mail insisting on no cops.

On March 30, Condon received a note threatening to increase the ransom to $100,000 and refusing to use newspaper code any more. The following day, Condon received a note telling him to be ready the next night. Condon affirmed his readiness by placing an ad in the afternoon edition of the newspaper.

At 7:45 P.M. on April 2, an unidentified taxicab driver delivered a note telling Condon to look for instructions under a stone in front of a greenhouse at 3225 East Tremont Avenue in the Bronx.

The police had fashioned a wooden box for the ransom that, they hoped, could later be identified. The ransom money itself consisted of gold certificates which were shortly to be withdrawn from circulation. The police felt that anyone passing large amounts of gold notes would draw attention to himself. Although the certificates were not marked, the serial number of each one was recorded. Unfortunately, the box was too small and could contain just $50,000 of the $70,000 ransom. The rest of the cash was wrapped in paper.

Charles Lindberg drove Condon to the greenhouse. The note instructed Condon to walk to Whittemore Avenue. He did so, leaving the ransom money in the car with Lindbergh. He got a bit turned around as he reached Whittemore, and was about to walk back to the car. Suddenly, a man said loudly, "Aye, doctor!" The man was inside St. Raymond's Cemetery; Condon was absolutely sure it was the man he'd talked to for an hour at Van Cordlandt Park. The wall of the cemetery ended and a low hedge began, and Condon met "John" at the hedge. "John" had seen the car, and asked who was in it. Condon said that Lindbergh had come with him. "John" asked for the money, and Condon told him that "times were tough" and Lindbergh had been able to raise just $50,000. "John" shrugged and said that would be good enough. Condon walked back to the car, told Lindbergh about the reduction in ransom, and retrieved the box. From where he sat in the car, Lindbergh could not see the men. "John" knelt, and examined the ranson money. He closed the box, rose, and handed over a note which, he said, would disclose Baby Charles' whereabouts. He then walked off into the cemetery. Neither man pursued John, for fear that he had accomplices who would kill the baby if John were interfered with.

The note said that Baby Charles could be found on a boat named "Nellie" near Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. Police raced to Martha's Vineyard, but no boat was ever found.

On May 12, 1932, the badly decomposed body of Charles Lindbergh, Jr. was accidentally found, partly buried, about four and a half miles southeast of the Lindbergh home. Trucker William Allen had gone into the woods to relive himself, and found the body. The police took control of the body, and an autopsy revealed a serious skull fracture below and to the right of the left ear. A decomposed blood clot was also found in this area. How the injury occurred could not be determined, but it was undoubtedly the cause of death.

The baby had died at least two months before, and been partially buried. The body had been chewed on by various animals, and some parts of the body were missing. Lindbergh and Gow identified the body based on an unusual physical characteristic (the toes of the right foot overlapped) and because the body was clad in a unique flannel shirt Gow had made. Lindbergh had his son's body cremated, and his ashes were strewn at sea off New Jersey on August 15.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Meanwhile, police began to suspect the kidnapping had been an "inside job". On June 8, 1932, officials began to question Violet Sharp, a British servant in the home of Anne Lindbergh's parents. She committed suicide on June 10. A few days later, police confirmed her alibi, discovering her innocence too late. Condon was also questioned by police, but could never be linked to the crime.

* * * * * * * * * * *

The first gold certificate showed up in the Bronx on April 8. More turned up in scattered locations, some as far away as Chicago and Minneapolis, but the people spending them were never found.

Gold certificates were withdrawn from circulation on May 1, 1933. A few days before, a man in Manhattan redeemed $2,980 of the certificates. Because the bank was busy, no one could remember anything about the man. He supplied a false name in Manhattan similar to one used by a woman who had lived there 20 years earlier.

More certificates showed up now and again over the next year. Most had been redeemed in the Bronx and Manhattan. A map showed that most of these had been redeemed at banks or used to buy goods at produce stores along the route of the Lexington Avenue subway. This subway line passed through the German-Austrian neighborhood of Yorkville, and some people were able to provide a description of the man who used them.

In March 1933, Arthur Koehler, a federal government expert on trees and wood, finished a detailed analysis of the homemade wooden kidnap ladder. He identified the grain and tool marks, and even that the wood had been used previously (holes where nails had been used were found). On November 19, 1933, Koehler located a store in the Bronx where five pieces of the kidnap ladder had been purchased.

* * * * * * *

On September 18, 1934, police located a redeemed gold certificate with a New York license plate number penciled in the margin. The certificate had been deposited in the bank by a Bronx gas station managed by Walter Lyle. Lyle told police he had written down the license plate number after feeling that his customer was acting suspicious.

The license plate number belonged to Bruno Richard Hauptmann, a German-American living in the Bronx. Hauptmann was arrested. One of the gold certificates was found on him, and over $14,000 more in his attic and garage.

Hauptmann claimed the money had been left with him by former business partner Isidor Fisch. Fisch had died on March 29, 1934, shortly after returning to Germany.

Several bank tellers, the gas station attendant, and others picked Hauptmann out of a lineup, although Condon could not.

Police swiftly found more incriminating evidence: A notebook in Hauptmann's home contained a sketch for a ladder similar to the one found at the Lindbergh home. Condon's phone number and address were written on a closet wall in Hauptmann's house, next to the phone. A piece of wood in the attic, Koehler said, was an exact match to the wood used to make Rail 16 in the ladder -- right down to the nail holes. Tool marks on the ladder matched tools owned by Hauptmann. At trial, the prosecution introduced evidence of Hauptmann's handwriting and grammatical style which was remarkably similar to that used in the ransom notes. Condon and Lindbergh both said Hauptmann was definitely "John". Another witness placed Hauptmann's car (or one like it) near the Lindbergh estate on the night of the kidnapping. Police discovered that a short time after the kidnapping, Hauptmann quit his job as a carpenter and began to engage in stock trading. And missing from Hauptmann's tool chest -- a single item, a three-quarter inch chisel.

Hauptmann claimed he had seen Condon's address in the newspaper, was intrigued, and wrote the address down. But he could not explain having Condon's phone number. He had a lone defense witness, who ineffectively challenged the handwriting analysis.

Hauptmann was convicted, and sentenced to death in the electric chair. He was executed on April 3, 1936.

* * * * * *

There is some concern that Hauptmann was innocent, or at least did not act alone. Forensic experts could not find Hauptmann's fingerprints on the ladder, evidence which the prosecution suppressed. How did Hauptmann know that the Lindberghs would be home that night? (They had returned very suddenly.) How did he know where the nursery was? How did he know he'd need a ladder? How did he approach the rural, isolated house without being seen? (There was only a single road leading to the house, and no trees or bushes nearby.) How did he escape the house without being seen? Why didn't the tire marks match those of Hauptmann's car? How come the nursery seemed to be wiped clean of all fingerprints? Why did everyone accept the sleeping suit as "the" sleeping suit, when they were nondescript and common?

And more.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

I need to buy more sporting goods.


It's real name is "Kryptodrakon", and is a pterosaur from the middle to late Jurassic era liviing approximately 162.7 million years ago.

Its bones were discovered in Xinjiang, China, by Chris Sloan in 2001. The bones were misidentified as theropod remains, but paleontologist James Clark later recategorized them. In 2014, Clark, Brian Andres, and Xu Xing named it Kryptodrakon, an allusion to the film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The name means "ancestor dragon" in Latin, and refers to Krytpodrakon's status as the oldest known member of the Pterodactyls -- about five million years older than the oldest pterodactyl previously discovered.

Kryptodrakon had a wingspan of just under five feet.

Kryptodrakon lived in inland, far from the coast. It probably lived in forested areas, since pterodactyls with short wingspans are best suited for forest flying. No one knows what it fed on, since the skull was missing.

I'm not big on watching every damn TV show that's out there. I really pick and choose what I want to watch. And yes, there are a lot of really awesome shows out there.

But I'm not going to watch Spartacus just to see some really hot guys and some dick-shots. I've got porn for that, if that's what I want to see.

But I've binged on some episodes of De Vinci's Demons. All because of Tim Riley.

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 Canadian Presbyterian minister James R. Reid became the second president of Montana State University in 1894 -- and essentially saved the college, making it viable and permitting its campus to be located and its first building to be constructed?
Ian Somerhalder. Why couldn't he be bisexual???  *siiiiiigh*

It's World Intellectual Property Day. This is a day to improve understanding about trademark, patents, copyright, and other intellectual property protections. So, here's a brief history of U.S. copyright law...........................

The Constitution establishes the right to copyright, but leaves it up to Congress to determine how long copyright should last.

Copyright Act of 1790 – Established a copyright with a term of 14 years, with a 14-year renewal. Copyright must be filed for. Renewal must be filed for (it is not automatic).

Copyright Act of 1831 – Extended the term of a copyright to 28 years, with a 14-year renewal.

Copyright Act of 1909 – Kept the copyright term at 28 years, but extended the renewal term to 28 years. Now a notice of copyright (the famous "(c) Tim Evanson") must be attached to the copyrighted work.

Beginning in 1964, Congress began to debate major changes to copyright. This was spurred by the plight of Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel, the men who created Superman but sold their work to National Publications for a pittance and now (in old age) were living in poverty. Congress decided to allow authors who'd sold their work prior to the new act to "claw back" their rights after 56 years had passed. To assuage corporations, Congress agreed to extend the copyright term......................

Copyright Act of 1976 – Extended the copyright term to either 75 years or life of the author plus 50 years. Notice of copyright no longer needed to be attached to the work. No longer did one need to file for copyright; copyright was automatic the moment the work was published. Made all works published prior to January 1, 1923, in the public domain. Gave artists the right to recover copyrights when their renewal was up. Renewal still needed to be filed for any work created prior to 1976.

Copyright Renewal Act of 1992 – Removed the formal renewal requirement for any work published after 1964.

But what if a work had been set in final form (like a story or photograph) prior to 1923, but NOT published? What was their status? No one was sure.

And then, The Walt Disney Co. suddenly faced a real dilemma: Mickey Mouse had been created in 1928. His copyright should have expired in 1984, but the Copyright Act of 1976 allowed the copyright to extend to "life of author plus 50". Unfortunately, Walt Disney had died in 1966. This meant the copyright on Mickey Mouse was going to expire in 2016!! Disney was terrified at the possibility of losing access to their biggest money-machine. So they began to lobby Congress for an extension to copyright....................................

Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998 – Also known as "The Mickey Mouse Copyright Act". It extended the copyright term to a whopping 95 years for all works published from January 1, 1923, to December 31, 1977; copyright was now life-of-author plus 70 years for all works published January 1, 1978, or later. Unpublished works created prior to 1978 have a copyright that runs 120 years from the date of creation (if known) or life-of-author plus 70 years, with the provision that no such work shall lose its copyright prior to 2003. Unpublished works created between 1978 and 2003 have a copyright that runs 120 years from the date of creation (if known) or life-of-author plus 70 years, with the provision that no such work shall lose its copyright prior to 2047.

* * * * * * *

Note 1: In "Golan v. Holder", 132 S.Ct. 873 (2012), the Supreme Court ruled that Congress, at its discretion, can restore copyright to a work even if that work has entered the public domain. This means that a person may use a public domain image today, but if Congress re-copyrights it -- then that person is suddenly in violation of copyright.

Note 2: "Publication" is the key word here. Ideas cannot be copyrighted. If you have an idea for a sword-and-sorcery novel, anyone can use it. For copyright to function, an idea must first be put into a fixed form. Then the work must be published. Public performance or public display does NOT constitute publication. (That's because the creator is now allowing anyone else to own, hold, or use the work.) Only the distribution to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental lease, or by lending constitutes publication. ("Public" means no explicit or implicit restrictions with respect to the content.)

Notice how this works: Great-Grandma Josephine takes a photograph on January 1, 1923. She obtains copyright to her work immediately under the 1976 act. She dies in 1945. Her photo will not enter the public domain until 2043. In 2042, however, "Photographia: The Magazine of Photographic History" publishes her photograph with the permission of her heirs. The work now does not lose its copyright for 95 more years.

Notice how this works: Great-Grandma Hermione takes a photograph....sometime. We are not sure when. She obtains copyright to her work immediately under the 1976 act. She dies in 1945. Her photo will not enter the public domain until 2015. In 2014, however, "Photography of the Lost Ages" magazine publishes her photograph with the permission of her heirs. The work now does not lose its copyright for 95 more years.

This is a major risk. The 1976 copyright act essentially provides a double-copyright, protecting works for as long as 215 years.

Is that how it's supposed to work? I don't think so, but it does.

Mickey Mouse will now lose his copyright in 2036. If you don't think the Walt Disney Co. is heavily lobbying Congress for yet another extension, you're a fool.
I took some photos last October, and for the life of me I could not remember where the hell I was!!!

Turns out, I was looking at a map of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. I should have been looking at a map of the South Chagrin Reservation of the Cleveland MetroParks. D'oh!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Gone fishin'.....

Wow, Wikipedia, you got that wrong.

This claim appeared on Wikipedia's front page on May 1, 2015. But if you read the Wikipedia article on the Timeline of the Spanish-American War, you swiftly discover that the first action in the war occurred on April 27.

That day, the USS New York, USS Cincinnati, USS Puritan, and other American naval ships bombard the Cuban city of Matanzas in the Battle of Matanzas. Cuban coastal defenses return fire.

Most of the books I read are not fiction, so accessing endnotes is key. You can't do that easily on a Kindle, or any other reader. And when I'm sitting at home on the couch, reading, I prefer the bigger text of a book rather than the small text of a handheld device. I also like to have my hands busy holding the book, instead of fooling around with something else (spilling a drink, playing with the TV remote, forcing food in my mouth, etc.).

Game of Thrones: The new season started...

Fear is the driver.

In May 2014, the General Services Administration (GSA) awarded a $25 million contract to build a new public entrance on the east side of the Harry S. Truman Building in Washington, D.C.

The glass and steel structure will act not only as a high-security entrance to the building but also as a museum about American diplomacy. The 20,000-square-foot addition, called the U.S. Diplomacy Center, was designed by the firm Beyer Binder Belle, and is being constructed by Gilbane Construction. The addition is being privately funded by the Diplomacy Center Foundation, a nonprofit established by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in 2000 to honor American diplomats.

The National Capital Planning Commission approved the design in 2011. Construction should be complete in 2017. GSA awarded a $77.4 million contract in September 2014 to renovate much of the rest of the structure. Some of the renovations will restructure the interior layout of the building to better meet the State Department's needs. But most of the contract will focus on replacing the building's electrical, elevator, mechanical, plumbing, and telecommunication systems. The refurbishment will begin in January 2015 and take 14 months to complete.

All the "Doctors" from DC Comics and Marvel try to heal...

Rebuild the Guild! I keep waiting for the other "evil" organizations to try to take over the Guild's turf on The Venture Bros.

I start watching MythBusters again if they did show like this! LOL!

I love this cake!!

When I was little, I used to bake cakes all the time. It started when I was about nine years old. It was my birthday, and my mom announced that she didn't have time to bake a cake for my birthday. Now, consider: Her idea of baking was to use a box mix, add eggs and milk, and stop there. No frosting, no candy numbers or names, nothing else. You'd get candles shoved into the cake, although the number of candles might or might not reflect the number of years you'd lived.

We did have a box mix, and I angrily demanded to use it. My mom haughtily said to go ahead. And I baked a cake.

I eventually learned to bake cakes by hand, without using a box mix. I never learned how to do bread, pastries, or anything else, though.

That's why, even to to this day, I'm fond of cakes. And am amazed at people when they can do amazing, inventive, creative cakes like this.

Only in a fascist society do we require service to the state before granting the benefits of Citizenship.

Chad, here, is lovely.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

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 Bozeman, Montana, is home to Montana State University because Bozeman lost out to Helena as the location of the state capital?
LOL!!! Of course, you gotta know your World War I history to understand this...

Yay for me!

Wikimedia Blog used my image!

Harold Weston. "Desert Shower" (1949).

Brooklyn Mack, a ballet dancer with the Washington Ballet in Washington, D.C.

My god, he's beautiful...

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Prince is dead. And he was a raging homophobe.

Saying that is not going down well with the grief-stricken Facebook crowd.

* * * * * * *

We read into Prince what we want to see.

He was a very short, rail thin, slender-shouldered man with unusual facial features. Because he failed heteronormative standards of masculinity, most people "read" Prince as androgynous. That Prince wore high platform shoes to enhance his height and stage presence; that Prince liked flamboyant clothing in order to overcome his short stature and somewhat shy personality; that Prince liked a wide range of hair styles (just like his idols, Little Richard and James Brown); that white people don't understand black hair styling......... somehow, this translates to "Prince was a queer gender-bender androgyne." (And no matter how muscular he became later, his clothing choices often masked it -- which only maintained and sustained the public's impression of him as a twink.)

Does this make Prince a "queer gender-bender androgyne." No, it doesn't. Not to my mind.

I see a parallel between people who see short twinks as "submissive bottoms" -- no matter if the guy really is an aggressive, dominant top -- and how people see Prince as this androgynous-supportive gay icon.

Almost everyone who knew Prince has said that he had NO homosexual tendencies. From his early teens to about 1984, he enjoyed hanging out in gay clubs and around drag queens because he loved the libertinous and flamboyant atmosphere of these clubs and these individuals. He enjoyed the way the atmosphere in these clubs helped him overcome his shyness and introverted qualities. He enjoyed being around people who were outcasts and different and yet had the courage to be themselves, because Prince himself felt like an outcst and felt different and drew inspiration from them in order to be courageous and be himself.

The same close associates and friends who say that Prince was a confirmed heterosexual also say that Prince was a firm adherent of Seventh-Day Adventism, and that his struggle with his faith only deepened over time. Seventh-Day Adventists believe homosexuality is "a manifestation of the disturbance and brokenness in human inclinations and relations caused by the entrance of sin into the world." Prince's religious beliefs may or may not have included this teaching. But his "sudden" convertion to religious fundamentalism in 2001 wasn't sudden at all, to anyone who knew him.

And consider: Prince made it big in 1984. Sixteen years passed, and he converted to Jehovah's Witness. Sixteen more years passed, during which time he was a right-wing religious nutjob, preaching against homosexuality and denouncing gay marriage (when he chose to make his religious views known, which, admittedly, was not often).

Yet, we persist in remembering only the pre-Jehovah's Witness Prince. Why? Because we read into Prince what we want to see there.

That Prince was a nice person rather than a turd (like Pat Robertson or Jesse Helms) helps "us" to read him the way we want to. That Prince persisted in showing a highly sexual, libertinous persona on stage helps "us" to read him the way we want to. That Prince remained an incredible stage performer helps "us" to read him the way we want to. That we can continue to enjoy Prince's music for what it is (just as we can enjoy rabid anti-Semite Richard Wagner's music for what it is) helps "us" to read him the way we want to. That Prince chose to keep his virulent homophobia quiet, while emphasizing sexual liberation, helps "us" to read him the way we want to.

But, to my mind, too many people are still "reading" Prince the way their own biases and desires lead them to, rather than the way Prince really was. "We" are choosing to ignore the fact that he was a raging homophobe, because our understanding of Prince's sick religious homophobia is very limited and was not a big part of his public persona. Prince means something important to many people, and that meaning remains untainted (and incomplete, I think) only because their knowledge of his gay-hatred was nonexistent or so easily explained away, or because Prince himself chose to de-emphasize it.

I don't think Prince actively duped the public (especially his gay fans) in order to make money and retain an audience. His audience in recent years had shrunk dramatically, and Prince didn't seem to care -- he made the music he wanted to make. And money-grubbing doesn't seem to fit with the rest of his personality.

I'm not sure how to explain the disconnect between Prince's gay-friendly and libertinous public persona and his private views on gays. It would be too easy to write him off as a hypocrite. I think, tentatively, that he struggled with it, just as he had long struggled with his religious views overall. Once he had a public personality, he found it hard to change that public image, just as he found it hard to embrace religious fundamentalism until he did so in 2001. Embrace right-wing heresy he did, though. Just as, maybe, over time, he would have embraced a less sexual and libertinous public persona. I dunno; we'll never know now.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Because it's on the Internet, it must be true.

Monday, April 18, 2016

BWAH HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This would make a great murder-mystery party cup, or at least a good party gag.