Jumping on the Bandwagon

As many of you have seen on Facebook, the current trend is to put words onto an image and think it’s clever. I guess it’s all over the Internet and might even stem from Fark’s caption contests. Undoubtedly, many future anthropologists will study the origin, although anthropologists spare themselves the question of “For the love of God, why?”

Regardless, I have jumped onto the bandwagon and have created my own, depicted below.

Continue reading “Jumping on the Bandwagon”

Book Report: A Century of Enterprise: St. Louis 1894-1994 by Rockwell Gray (1994)

Book coverThis book represents another picture book I inherited from my aunt, and if the used price on Amazon is any guide, it might have been her biggest eBay score. But she lacked a certain follow through on the whole online auction thing. So I’ve got it now, and I thumbed through it, looking at the historical photos of business in St. Louis and reading the flattering paragraphs accompanying the photos. The book was, as a matter of fact, underwritten by one of the enterprises whose start is depicted in the book. Of course that company and all others in St. Louis are praised. Lavishly.

So the book provides interesting photographs, and some trivia and insights, including:

  • The smile was invented in 1948.
  • It’s a wonder turn of the century families were so large considering how ugly the women were.
  • The years since 1994 have been harsh for St. Louis business, since most of the grand corporations lauded in the book–Edison Brothers, May Company, McDonnell Douglas, Pet, Inc., Sherwood Medical, and so on have been bought out or have otherwise left the area.
  • Those who have the juice now in the city of St. Louis have always had the juice in St. Louis.

Still, an enjoyable experience, once again a short one since it was mostly photos, and something I’ll share with the more historical members of my family. And, dear readers, if you offer me what they’re asking for it on Amazon, I’ll share it with you, too.

Book mentioned in this report:

Cracked Laments Lack of Tourism To Monks Mound, Helps Curtail Tourism to Monks Mound

Cracked.com has a piece entitled 6 Ridiculous Lies You Believe About the Founding of America, wherein #5 talks about the complexity of native civilization and talks about Monks Mound in Cahokia, Illinois.

The author laments:

So why does Egypt get millions of dollars of tourism and Time Life documentaries dedicated to their boring old sand pyramids, while you didn’t even know about the giant blue, red, white, black, gray, brown and orange testament to engineering and human willpower just outside of St. Louis? Well, because the Egyptians know how to treat one of the Eight Wonders of the World. America, on the other hand, appears to be trying to figure out how to turn it into a parking lot.

However, the author had previously described the location of the settlement as:

One of the best examples of how we got Native Americans all wrong is Cahokia, a massive Native American city located in modern day East St. Louis.

This just in: Although Cahokia lies in Illinois east of St. Louis, it is not in East St. Louis. East St. Louis is a city just across the river from St. Louis, and its name is a punchline in films almost to the level of Detroit. It’s rough, downtrodden, and crime-ridden. In East St. Louis, they have a problem with car radios being stolen from police cars, okay?

Cahokia is a town some miles away and it’s safe to visit. If it were in East St. Louis, East St. Louisians would have stolen the dirt in Monks Mound, okay?

I’ve been on a couple of occasions. If you want a real mind-bender, some people posit that the mound builders of Cahokia might have traveled southwest and became, hundreds of years later, Toltecs. Although I forget where I read that.

When Brian J. Met Yakov

So, as I mentioned in the book report on Yakov Smirnoff’s America on Six Rubles a Day, I might just bump into Yakov Smirnoff one day. Over the weekend, I happened to be in Branson, at the foot of the stage of the Yakov Smirnoff Theater, and there he was.

So I’d bought a bagged set of a book and a DVD for the low, low price of $20 (when in Branson, do as the temporary Bransonians do, which is spend money like it were nothing at all). I was disappointed that the book included was AMoSRaD (he wrote, introducing the acronym that Yakovites everywhere will put into play on the Internet starting now) instead of Smirnoff for the Soul, a later volume.

Still, I decided to get it autographed and to pass on the existing autographed copy I own since the latter was not autographed for me.

And I got a picture, of course.

“I’m going to give you the presidential bow,” I said.
Continue reading “When Brian J. Met Yakov”

Juveniles A Little Unclear On The Concept

Protesters arrested in downtown St. Louis:

At least 10 people were arrested Thursday night after protesters spray-painted graffiti on a downtown bank and skirmished with officers, police said.

A St. Louis police bicycle officer suffered a minor injury to his hand when confronted by protesters, police said. A property manager at the Fifth Third Bank at 10th and Olive streets also was assaulted after approaching the people about the graffiti.

Protesters were demonstrating against police violence, specifically the actions of police in Chicago at the NATO summit, one of the protesters said.

One graffiti message on the bank’s glass windows read “Solidarity with all who resist.” More graffiti on Peoples National Bank at 826 Olive read “Burn the banks.”

All righty, then. We have two assaults, vandalism, and a call to arson to protest violence.

Kudos to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for its even-handed treatment of the subject. Undoubtedly, its professional journalists could find some supporters to defend a puppy’s piddling on the carpet, too.

The Novel As Security Training

In an article entitled “22 Things A Burglar Would Never Tell You” which looks like it was ripped off right from Readers Digest, we get the following nugget:

6. If decorative glass is part of your front entrance, don’t let your alarm company install the control pad where I can see if it’s set. That makes it too easy.

That, or a corollary, you would learn if you’d buy and read John Donnelly’s Gold.

I mean, it’s no Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse, but it’s chock full of interesting things o’ that nature, and it puts a couple grubzits in my pocket.

(Link seen on Ace of Spades HQ.)

Brian J. Is Only 82% Guyism Guy

I have only seen 10 of the 11 films on the Guyism.com 11 movies every guy needs to see.

I am missing two. The Wild Bunch and The Bridge on the River Kwai, which is very, very strange considering that I listen to the River Kwai march several times a week (that’s a story for another day).

I think I have it DVRed, though, so I should fix that up sometime soon and will become 100% masculine according to some twee Internet posting, which frankly is the highest standard I can reach some days.

(Link seen on Ace of Spades HQ.)

Book Report: Tales from the Coral Court by Shellee Graham (2000)

Book coverI borrowed this book from the Old Trees library’s local history section, a section that I will probably completely consume by the end of 2008. This book covers, as the title might indicate, the Coral Court motel, a motor court built in 1941/1942 that was not only a mainstay on the Route 66 circuit, but also proved instrumental in founding the municipality of Marlborough, a former speed trap town (that has since disbanded its police force and has slid from the St. Louis County consciousness as a result) and provided St. Louisians with something about which it could giggle behind its hands (the fact that each unit had a garage that opened into the bedroom led itself, led itself from the realm of the modern into the realm of the merely seamy once the Interstate built some miles to the north removed the middle class tourist from the client list).

This book fits more into the In Retrospect mold, as it provides some text about the original owners, the architecture style, and the evolution of motor courts and motels in America, but mostly relies on quotes from random St. Louisians (and some poetry, heaven forfend) about the motel. Still, the author took a number of photos in the period between the closing of the hotel (1993) and its demolition (1995), and the author gathered some other photo material from people who’d heard about her project.

In a couple years, no one will remember the place, since its heydey came in the Greatest Generation years and its ill repute came in the Boomer years, so this book’s novelty will pass but its usefulness as a historical document and collection of photos will live on.

Full disclosure: in that same period before the demolition and the raising of the Oak Knoll subdivision where the motel used to stand, I was dating a photographer and got the opportunity to do a little trespassing for photography purposes myself. So I remember the Coral Court from first hand experience, although not from the authentic Coral Court first hand experience. And that first hand knowledge is what makes this book resonate, so as I said, I suspect it will only be a curiosity in a couple years when that resonance is gone for most people.

Books mentioned in this book report:

Location Apparently Not A Competitive Advantage

Rent-seeking local auto and marine dealers have found friends in the Republican-dominated Missouri state legislature:

Gov. Jay Nixon says voters should have the final say on a bill placing local sales taxes on all motor vehicles purchased out of state.

In a statement released this morning, Nixon said the bill passed by the Legislature in the wee hours of this morning would “improperly impose a tax increase.

“My administration remains committed to working with the Legislature and others to resolve these issues, but the people of Missouri must have the opportunity to make their voices heard,” the governor said.

At issue is a bill that was rushed through yesterday in response to a ruling handed down by the Missouri Supreme Court in January.

Auto dealers say the court ruling puts them at a competitive disadvantage and is already driving sales to neighboring states.

While this might be a problem in border areas, not every citizen has the ability nor the wherewithal to buy a vehicle or boat in Maryland, no matter how convenient the Internet might make it. The economics term is place utility. That is, the place of the product matters. Local car dealerships have a competitive advantage over out-of-state dealers already because local car dealers are local.

The logic of a Republican legislator is truly dizzying:

Sen. Mike Kehoe, a former car dealer from Jefferson City, said today that the issue needs to be resolved quickly.

At the same time, Kehoe said the Legislature is considering offering some middle ground on the issue. At least one pending bill has been amended to give cities and counties the option to ask local voters if they want to continue the sales tax on out-of-state purchases.

“Maybe it could be a two-step process,” with the Legislature imposing the tax and voters deciding whether to keep it, Kehoe said.

Some counties already have a use tax in place; however, this Republican, theoretically representing a smaller government party, would prefer that the higher level of government impose its new tax upon the population and give county governments the ability to opt-out of the extra revenue whose taxation decision was taken out of their hands and their accountability.

Perhaps the proper way, and the way in more accordance with small government tradition, would be the other way around. You know, like it is currently.

Book Report: Webster Groves by Clarissa Start (1975)

Book coverThis book has a sort of double-effect twist going on; Clarissa Start, a former columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and former resident (as of the writing, she had moved to High Ridge, Missouri), wrote this book at the behest of the city government in Webster Groves as part of its bicentennial celebration. That means it’s a history book that’s 30 years old.

So I got a glimpse of the past from the past. The tone of the book is very exceptional, so Webster Groves has a hint of Lake Wobegon to it. Of course, a book written on the government dime would explain that the citizens are the best and the town is the best and everything else. I guess I cannot knock some exceptionalism in history, but when it’s applied to a small town, it’s odd. Also, the book ends with several chapters of Webster Groves at 1975, with a demographic study and the high school commencement speech. I just skimmed these.

Still, the book details the area at the turn of the twentieth century very well and explains the events that precipitated the incorporation (a mugging/murder), the resistance to a layer of government and its eager taxation, and a bit of perspective to the current complaints and how far back those tensions existed.

It brings the book forward, as I mentioned, and the conversational tone tells you what replaced the old blacksmith shop and early businesses downtown. However, 30 years later, the Farmers Home and Trust Bank is gone as well as the IGA grocery store, and those things seem quaint now. But I didn’t buy it for contemporary insight, I bought it for its discussion of the old times, and I got it.

More trivia for the cranium, and things that I can tell the child as he grows up so he will think I’m very smart. Fooling the children, really, is the secondary use of all knowledge that comes to the fore after you’ve succeeded in the primary use of all knowledge, fooling women into thinking you’re smart so they will mate with you. One, anyway.

Books mentioned in this review:

Todd Akin Has Washington Experience and Washington Weakness

Another story tries to connect dots between Todd Akin’s votes and his campaign contributions:

People for whom U.S. Rep. Todd Akin helped secure $31 million in earmarks have paid him back handsomely: The Missouri Republican has raked in nearly $80,000 in campaign cash from people tied to those firms.

“The fact that Rep. Akin got campaign contributions from people working at companies that he got earmarks for serves as a vivid reminder of why we have the earmark moratorium and how it’s important,” said Steve Ellis, vice president of the independent advocacy group Taxpayers for Common Sense.

“In three short years, these companies got $31 million worth of earmarks while handing over $78,000 in campaign contributions. Not a bad return on investment,” Ellis said.

We at Missouri Insight recognize that statistical correllation does not equal causation. The fact that some people sent money to a Republican candidate does not necessarily mean that they were seeking influence, nor does the fact that the representative votes in that direction indicate that he’s doing it because of the campaign contributions.

However, we at Missouri Insight also believe that once a politician goes to Washington, he (or she) becomes of Washington. Particularly when the politician in question has trouble with his voting address and remembering where he lives. So we support Sarah Steelman for the Senate.

But we continue to like to shout “Crimson!” when we see a red herring about candidates whom we do not prefer.

In a McCaskill-Akin race, both candidates will have the smell of Washington about them, making Akin vulnerable to these sorts of stories and insinuations.

(Link seen on Instapundit.)

Personal Relics: My Grandfather’s Jacket

Over the weekend, my children attended a birthday party and got temporary tattoos with a nautical theme as befit a pair of pirates. So Daddy talked a little extraneously extemporaneously about tattoos, and how members of the military often got them, including their Uncle Kevin and their great-grandfather Raymond. Ray, my grandfather, had a blue Marine bulldog on his arm, marred by the scar where he’d been shot while helping take Okinawa.

Suddenly, I thought to go to the coat closet and bring out a bit of history for them: My grandfather’s jacket*. Continue reading “Personal Relics: My Grandfather’s Jacket”

Book Report: Dear Valued Customer, You Are A Loser by Rick Broadhead (2004)

Book coverThis book collects a number of stories about technology problems from the 1980s onto its publication date, but most of the problems occur in the high tide of the Internet in the late 1990s and early part of the 21st century.

I remember some of them, but certainly not all. Most of them stem from mistakes on the technical end and not on security breaches, which do not allow for a wry commentary.

An amusing read. It reads like a series of blog posts, with each individual story only a couple hundred words, which makes it perfect for a nightstand book you want to pick up and put down quickly. The end of it includes a “Mail me your stories” bit which indicates the author might eventually have or might eventually release a sequel that I wouldn’t mind reading.

Books mentioned in this review:

Five Things No Longer In My Desk Pen Drawer

As I’ve alluded to before, and by “alluded to,” I mean “have admitted with a twisted sort of pride,” I am a pack rat. However, I’ve given some thought recently to downsizing a couple of things, mostly things I’ve bought at garage sales because I thought they’d be cool to own, like an old Kodak Brownie camera or molecule assembly set. Things I’ve never actually unboxed.

As I was looking for some safety pins the other day, I dumped a couple of bins in my “pen” drawer, which is the desk drawer on the second desk in my office that I never really look into for pens. I unearthed a twenty-year-old watch, but no safety pins. And as the items of dubious value spilled out, I got rid of some.


  1. Four risers for a monitor stand. Some decade ago, back when I still had a smallish CRT monitor, I bought a stand to raise the monitor to an ergonomic height. The stand had four sets of risers of varying heights that you could stack to make the stand higher or lower to accommodate your monitor or your sense of ergonomy. I had four one-inch sized risers left, little cylinders with a fluted end to fit into the other cylinders. I tossed them into the drawer in case I’d ever need to raise the monitor more. In case I got a smaller monitor, I suppose. Or because I just save things. Soon after, though, I got a 19″ monitor that needed no stand at all (and then bigger LCD monitors since then). I’ve long since donated the stand itself to Goodwill, but the risers rested comfortably in the drawer, moving into two different houses some hundreds of miles from their origin, before I decided that I would not, in fact, ever do anything with them. I can’t even imagine any sort of craft or modern art I’d use them for. Now that they’re gone, though, I’ll need something just like them next week.
  2. A broken wine opener. For some reason, I’ve kept a wine opener whose wings section broke off from its bottle-holding portion in this drawer for five or six years. In case I ever took up welding as a hobby, I guess. Out they go.
  3. A non-functioning dry erase marker. I have a dry erase board in my office; I’ve had it, again, for a dozen years or so, since the Casinoport house and its blue-on-blue office. I’ve had a number of things on it for a long time–it bears a little handwritten encouragement that my mother-in-law wrote on the bottom of it when she left after assisting us through our first week as parents. The tasks, though, are less than three years old on average. But for some reason, and I’m sure they were good reasons at the time, I bought a couple of packs of dry erase markers in various colors, including some lighter pastel shades. For clarity. I threw them into my Drawer of Holding, and they’ve remained there until this week, where I tested them out and put those that worked on an easel with a dry erase side that my mother gave to Jimmy on his first Christmas. I found one that didn’t work, and I threw it out.

Okay, that’s only three things. But it’s a step in the right direction. Next up: Shredding my credit card statements from the 20th century. Maybe.

Were I a Couple of Years Younger, I Would Never Have Figured It Out

As you know, I’ve been listening to LPs on my little Crosby turntable. I discovered that RCA, if not everyone that puts out sets of records, doesn’t put side 2 on the back side of side 1. Instead, you get, in a two volume set, side 1 and side 4 on a disk and side 2 and side 3 on a disk. If you have a four record set, such as The Barber of Seville, you can see sides 1 through 4 with sides 5 through 8 on their back sides.

Sides 1-4 of the RCA presentation of the Barber of Seville

What the dickens, I thought. Those guys at RCA are just crazy.

Continue reading “Were I a Couple of Years Younger, I Would Never Have Figured It Out”

Book Report: The Brookline Shoot-Out: America’s Bloodiest Peace Officer Massacre by Shirley Walker Garton as told to Bradley Allen Garton (1996)

Book coverThis is an interesting book. It details the Young Brothers’ Massacre/Brookline Shootout that took place right down the road from where I live in the year 1932. A couple local ne’er-do-wells were wanted for shooting the marshal over in Republic (which is where our Walmart and Walgreens are). Word got around to law enforcement that they returned to their mother’s house for the holidays, and when a couple of their sisters show up in Springfield trying to sell a car with Texas plates, the sheriff of Greene County, nine other law enforcement officers, and a civilian observer rode out to the Young farmhouse. As they tried to get into the building, occupants opened fire. By the time the firing stopped, six of the officers were dead. The Young brothers escaped, only to be captured in Texas shortly thereafter.

This book is interesting because it is written by the daughter of an undercover deputy of Greene County who was not at the massacre itself but who served as part of the large group that secured the scene immediately afterward, and it’s “told to” her son. The author and the son remember her father, Roy Walker, talking about it some, and the author gives some of her family history that prompted her to write the book and then talks about the people in the shootout. She relies heavily on a contemporary source, The Young Brothers Massacre by John R. Woodside, for the actual account of the event itself, but she supplements this account with various interviews with people who remembered the event almost sixty years before (most of the interviews are from the mid to late 1980s).

She also throws in a number of photostats of newspapers, original photos, and some poetry. It’s an eclectic blend, part historical account and part story of the investigation. It’s pretty engaging, although it might help that the book is pretty short and she’s not carrying on so for 300 pages.

I’d recommend it.

As I mentioned, this did take place just down the road from me. Some accounts say the house still stands, but it’s at the outside edge of Springfield now, so it might not last for long. Strange, though, that I’ve moved from historical Old Trees to this little house and I’m suddenly abutted on all sides by history.

Books mentioned in this review: