Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Monday, February 10, 2020


Openers:  On the pleafant banks of the Garonne, in the province of Glafcony, ftood, in the year 1584, the chateau of Monfieur St. Aubert.  From the windows were feen the paftoral landfcapes of Guienne and Gafcony ftretching long the river, gay with luxuriant woods and vines, and plantations of olives.  To the fouth, , the view was bounded by the majeftic Pyranees, whofe summits, veiled in clouds, or exhibiting awful forms, feen, and loft again, as the partial vapours rolled along, were flmetimes barren, and gleamed through the blue tinge of air, and fometimes frowned with forefts of gloomy pine, that fwept downward to their bafe.  Thefe tremendous precipices were contrafted by the  foft green of the paftures and woods that hung upn their fkirts, among whofe flocks and herds, and fimple cottages, the eye, after fcaling the cliffs above, delighted to repose.  To the north, and to the eaft, the plains of Guienne and Languedoc were loft in the mift of diftance; on the weft, Gafclony was bounded by the waters of Bifcay.

-- Anne Radcliffe, The Mysteries of Udolfo, a romance (1794)

The quintessential Gothic romance that helped p[ave to a spate of ruined castles. seemingly supernatural events, nasty villains, persecuted (and virtuous) heroines, and ;physical and psychological terror.  I tried to read the book several years ago, by was put off by "f" for "s" typography of the time and only got about halfway through book 1 (of 4).  I hope to fish it sometime this year, but you can bet I'm going to get a modern English version.


  • Hallie Ephron - Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel.  Nonfiction, from 2015.  "This comprehensive guide covers every aspect of mystery writing...By the time you finish reading part one of this book, you will have a blueprint for your entire story.  Parts two and three take you blueprint from idea to well-polished novel.  Part four is an insider's guide to getting it into an agent's or publisher's hands."  Coming from a highly respected family of writers, Jungle Red Hallie is a highly successful mystery writer and knows what's what.  This thrift store find appears to be well-read, with many parts underlined and whole sections marked with sticky notes.  I wonder if the previous owner actually wrote his/her novel and had it published.  I certainly hope so.

Oh, Freedom:  The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the high civilian honor a citizen of the United States can receive, although it has been given to a numbers of foreign nationals.  The medal is given "for meritorious contribution to (1) the security or national interests of the United States, (2) world peace, or (3) cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."  Those honored are selected by the president, sometimes with the recommendation of the Distinguished Civilian Service Awards Board.

The first awards were given by President John F. Kennedy in 1963.  Receiving the award in 1963 were Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (architecture), Andrew Wyeth (art), E. B. White (literature), Edmund Wilson (literature), Thornton Wilder (literature), Marian Anderson (music), Pablo Casals (music), Rudolf Serkin (music), Edwin H. Land (photography), Edward Steichen (photography), Clarence B. Randall (business and economics; Randall was chairman of Inland Steel Company, advisor to both Eisenhower and Kennedy, and spokesman for the steel industry during the 1952 steel disputes), Genevieve Caulfield (education; Caulfield was a blind teacher who started a school for the blind in Thailand), James Bryant Conant (education; Conant, a noted chemist was a transformative president of Harvard University, utilizing many reforms -- of which racial equality, alas, was not one); Alexander Meiklejohn (education; Meiklejohn was an educational reformer, free speech advocate, and president of Amherst College); George W. Taylor (education; Taylor founded the academic discipline of industrial relations and served as a mediator to settle more than 2000 labor strikes); Annie D. Wauneka (humanitarian; Wauneka was a member of the Navajo Nation Council and worked to improve the health and education of the Navajo); Associate Justice Felix Frankfurter (Law), John F. Enders (medicine; Nobel Laureate Enders has been called the "Father of Modern Vaccines", J. Clifton MacDonald (philanthropy; damned if I can find anything about MacDonald; any information will be gratefully received), Ralph J. Bunche (diplomacy), Ellsworth Bunker (diplomacy), Robert A. Lovett (cabinet member; Truman's Secretary of Defence), Herbert H. Lehman (U.S. Congress; senator [D-NY] from 1949-1957 and former governor of New York; he was an early and vocal opponent of Senator Joseph McCarthy), Luis Munoz Marin (first democratically-elected governor of Puerto Rico), John J. McCloy (American High Commissioner for Occupied Germany, president of the World Bank, and advisor to all presidents from Franklin Roosevelt to Ronald Reagan), George Meany (labor union leader),  Jean Monnot (French political economist and diplomat), Alan Tower Waterman (science; a physicist, Waterman was the first director of The National Science Foundation), and Robert J. H. Kiphuth (head coach of the Yale University men's swim team; during his 41-year tenure Kiphuth had  record of 28 wins to 12 losses and brought the Elis to four NCAA titles).  All 31 honorees were given their medals by Lyndon B. Johnson in December of 1963.  Johnson also awarded a posthumous medal to JFK.

Few persons would quibble about the first recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  Later recipients would include I. M. Pei, Norman Rockwell, Martha Graham, John Wayne, Carl Sandburg, Duke Ellington, Irving Berlin, Ansel Adams, Sam Walton, Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, Will and Ariel Durant, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Thurgood Marshall, Edward R. Murrow, Lowell Thomas, Fred Rogers, Carol Burnett, Jonas Salk, Chuck Yeager, Colin Powell, Bill and Melinda Gates, Eric Hoffer, Helen Keller, Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Height, Rosa Parks, Cesar Chavez, Rachel Carson, Roger Tory Peterson, Marjorie Stoneman Douglas, Lech Walesa, Angela Merkel, Elliot Richardson, Madeleine Albright, Betty Ford, Claire Booth Luce, Margaret Chase Smith, Representative John Lewis, Sargent Shriver, Pope John XXIII, Billie Graham, Desmond Tutu, Pope John Paul II, Margaret Mead, Stephen Hawking, Neil Armstrong, "Buzz" aldrin, Michael Collins, John Glenn, Sally Ride, "Hidden Figure" Katherine Johnson, Jesse Owens, Arthur Ashe, Roberto Clemente, Mohammad Ali, Billie Jean King, Arnold Palmer, Babe Ruth, and Yogi Berra.

And that's just skimming through some of the names.  Medal of Freedom winners have added to our culture, our entertainment, and our way of life.

But because the ultimate say-so goes to the President of the United States, the Presidential Medal of Freedom has also been used for political purpose on both sides of the political divide. During the Iraq War, George W. "Mission Accomplished" Bush caused controversy by awarded the Medal of Freedom somewhat prematurely to three key players in the War: L. Paul Brennan, the civilian administrator of Iraq after the invasion of Baghdad, retired General Tommy Franks, who led the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, and George Tenet, the former director of the CIA.  Of these three. let's look at Bremer and Tenet.  Bremer was involved in the postinvasion decision to disband the Iraqi army in 2003, leaving thousands of armed Iraqis with no work, helping to fuel the insurrection and the horrendous looting in that country.  Tenet assured Bush repeatedly before the Iraq War that Irq possessed banned weapons; he has also been faulted for the lack of better cooperation, communication and analysis prior to the September 11, 2001 attacks.  The Iraq War was a clusterf**k because the Bush administration had absolutely no plan for after the war.  Cheney figured the oil would pay for the war and really didn't care what happened after.  This lack of planning, of which all three Medal of Freedom recipients were involved. has led to billions of American dollars disappearing, violence, and political instability.  We are still suffering from this legacy.

Enough ranting about the Bush era foolhardiness.  Let's go on to Trump -- the reason I started going down the Presidential Medal of Freedom path.

Trump has awarded the Medal of Freedom to Elvis Presley (posthumously, of course), Arthur Laffer (Republican advisor and conservative economist who blamed the great recession on Barack Obama), Alan Page (former football great and the first African-American to serve on the Minnesota Supreme Court and an advocate for children's education), Associate Justice Antonin Scalia (posthumously), Edwin Meese (Ronald Reagan's Attorney General), Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Babe Ruth (baseball; posthumously), Roger Staubach (football), Tiger Woods (golf), Bob Cousy (basketball), Jerry West (basketball), Mariano Rivera (baseball), Roger Penske (auto racing), and, last week, Rush Limbaugh.

Rush Limbaugh?  Rush Limbaugh!  Perhaps not America's greatest bigot, but he's up there.  

Here's a few gems:

"Feminism was established so as to allow unattractive women access to the mainstream of society."

"When a gay person turns his back on you, it is anything but an insult; it's an invitation."

After Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke testified before Congress on the importance of health insurance covering birth control, "What does it say about the college co-ed Sandra Fluke who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says she must be paid to have sex -- what does it make her?  It makes her a slut, right?  It makes her a prostitute."

On LGBT politicians getting elected:  "I guaranteed there'd be some people in the Republican establishment who will now think, 'Yeah, we need to do this.  We need to provide a home, we need to provide a comforting atmosphere for the tranny community and the gay community.' But those people are voting Democrat anyway."

"Have you ever noticed that all composite pictures of wanted criminals resemble Jesse Jackson?"

"The NAACP should have riot rehearsal.  They should get a liquor store and practice robberies."

"I love the women's movement, especially when walking behind it."

"Obamacare is ...the largest tax increase in the history of the world."  This unfounded statement is rated Pants on fire.

"11 straight years of no major hurricane striking land [in the United States] bores a hole right through the climate change argument."  Another Pants on Fire ill-informed blathering.

President Barack Obama "wants to mandate male circumcision."  OMG!  Pants really on Fire.  Supposedly Rush from this one from Fox News.

Obama shut down NASA flights and turned the agency into "a Muslim outreach department."  Pants on Fire so much it's burning your chin whiskers.

The Obama administration "planned the influx of illegal children at the border."  Wrong.  Wrong. Wrong.

A black caller, upset at Limbaugh's racist tirade was told to "call back when you take the bone out of your nose."

He accused Michael J. Fox of "faking" Parkinsons.

He called then 12-year-old Chelsea clinton a "dog."

He was an early and vocal supporter of the "Birther Movement."

He repeatedly compares gay marriage to bestiality.

He made up a story about journalist Krystal Ball, saying that she posed nude when she was 14.

"The people who are shooting up schools more than likely vote Democratic when you get right down to it, if they vote."

Al Qaeda may have given up Osama bin Laden "for the express purpose of making Obama look good."

Among the right-wing conspiracy theories Limbaugh has promoted concern the death of Clinton White House aide Vince Foster, that Obama might cancel the 2012 elections, and that Obama was an African Colonial or an anti-colonialist (make up our mind, Rush).

Limbaugh also said the his Presidential Medal of Freedom is lessened because of several African-Americans who had previously been given that honor.Florida Man sets off

Limbaugh's career has focused on racism, misogyny, and utter nonsense, delivered in a hateful, offensive, and poisonous manner designed to fuel white rage.  Is there any wonder Trump threw red meat at his base by giving the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Limbaugh the day after Limbaugh announced that he had an advanced form of lung cancer?

For the record, I do not with cancer on anyone, even Rush Limbaugh, and I wish him well in his battle.

Phew!:  That took much longer than I intended.

Florida Man: 
  • If there ever is a Florida Man Hall of Fame, surely Kizer Pontoon, 28, will be one of the first inducted.  He was just arrested for the 66th time, and, no, that is not a typo.  God, I love Florida.
  • Willard Hawkins, 47, was arrested for killing his ex-girlfriend's 95-year-old lover at a Port St. Lucie nursing home, smothering the old gent with his own pillow.  Police did not have enough enough to arrest Hawkins back in September when the murder occurred, but they were able to charge him back then for driving his victim's Cadillac into a lake. Talking about killing the old geezer, Hawkins said, "I accomplished my life's goal, okay?  whatever happens to me after, that's fine."  Florida relationships can be tricky.
  • An unnamed Florida Man set of a Level 3 Hazmat alert when he began pumping gasoline into a fishing pole slot instead of hs boat's gas tank.  He dispensed some $60 worth of gas onto his boat's deck and onto the ground of a local 7-11. He evidently realized what he was doing and continued to pump the gas.  Alcohol may have been involved.
  • Florida Man Michael Offie, 42, of Groveland, has been arrested for criminal mischief and resisting an officer after smearing dog feces on a water meter lock.  Asked why he would do that, Offie told police, "Wouldn't you if they shut off your water?"  No, Mr. Offie, I wouldn't.
  • Florida Man and Stalker Deron Randall broke into a married couple's home.  He had made inappropriate comments on the woman's social media beginning several years ago.  She blocked him twice so he sent her a refrigerator and twice before broke into her home.  This time he left lotion, sado, and chips outside the couple's bedroom before being accosted by the husband.  While held at gunpoint before the police arrived, he began taking off his clothes, which is how police found him, naked and mumbling the woman's name.  The husband had to fire off a warning shot into a sofa to convince the man to stay.  As I said above, Florida relationships can be tricky.
  • Florida Woman Joanne Mercader, 59, threw a bucket of human feces on her landlord who was trying to evict her.  She then spread feces over herself to make it appear that the victim was the one flinging the human waste.  Police worked to get to the bottom of this crappy situation.  Mercader eventually confessed that she was the s**t-thrower but said she meant to throw a bucket of water on the victim and just grabbed the wrong bucket.  Who has a spare bucket of feces lying around the house?

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy -- Here Comes the Good News:

Today's Poem:  




ing edge of

(inquiry before snow

-- e. e. cummings

(Let me admit here and now that I don't understand this poem.)

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