Friday, December 13, 2019

We had a Dream - Half a century of Honeymoon

December 20th, 1969, our wedding day.

By the way: We didn’t get married on the shortest day of the year but the longest night.

We had a dream:
We were going where the wind blows, when the spirit moved us, and the price was right!
A half century later on December 20th 2019 our ongoing honeymoon continues.
Here is a synopsis from our book Sailing Beyond Lake Superior: Travels of Dursmirg.
When my father died in 1969, I thought about life and where it was going, realizing the most important person was Jane. I would marry her. When I asked she responded, “I suppose so.” I said, “You suppose so?”
On Jane’s lunch hour we drove to Carlton, Minnesota, a 17-mile trip in minutes. We filled out papers, paid a $5.00 fee and waited five days. They gave us two big bags of groceries. We had been together five years and found this humorous. Within an hour I had Jane back at her job.
Our secret was safe. Little did we know!
The rest of the story: The reporter from the Pine Knot, a weekly paper in Cloquet, Minnesota, gathered marriage information just after we received our license and went to press that afternoon. Jane’s friend picked up the paper and phoned her parents eighty miles away in Cloverland, Wisconsin.
The plot thickens!
A couple of hours later Judy’s parents got together with Jane’s parents for dinner.
The beans were spilled!
Five days later, we were back to Carlton and Judge Nordstrom’s house. He was a sprightly 85 year old and surprised us with an offer. He had to send our marriage document to the state, he could give us a copy with any date to show the family and friends. We amusingly declined.
My Jane was so very pretty. Excitedly she couldn’t decide which hand to put the ring on.
We had no plans for the day and drove to Duluth. Lunch was at a nice restaurant on the hilltop. It was an extraordinary day. Being together with my wife having lunch and looking over expansive Lake Superior, a frozen, snow covered vista that extended out beyond the eastern horizon. This was the route we would take on our soon to be completed 46 foot yacht.
My father had just died so we decided it best to have a get-together with friends and celebrate our wedding quietly. That evening we had a house full, and Jane cooked dinner.
Incredibly as long as we were keeping our secret, the family was keeping it too.
Time passed and Jane and I were sure we had kept our secret to ourselves.
We planned a nine-day honeymoon trip to Mexico City and Acapulco over Easter Week. I won the all expense paid five-star trip from a company I was doing business with. Our reasoning for Mexico was we would never revisit. Amazingly our home has became Yucatan in Mexico.
Before leaving on our trip, we thought it advisable to inform Jane’s parents of our marriage.
After dinner at Jane’s parent’s home, I told the group I had something important. Jane’s father said, “No, I have something to tell.” He couldn’t help chuckling while telling his story.
A happy man is a man who marries the girl he loves.
An even happier man is the man who loves the woman he married!
The half century of years from 1969 to 2019 have been an ongoing adventure for our tour group of two that generated four sailing books, two Yucatan travel books, several blogs, and a web site.

As I was lamenting the rapidly passing years, Jane said to me, “Be happy for what you have got.” and I replied “Yes, and what I have had.”

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Anzio: Italy and the Battle for Rome,1944 by Lloyd Clark

Book Review - Five Stars

Anzio, a little known quiet coastal town that marked a turning point of WWII, got caught in the cross hairs of time.

My uncle Lawrence Grimsrud, rifle in hand, somehow survived this deadliest of allied landings but sustained mental scars that plagued him his entire life.

This moving story helped me put a human face on this blood bath.

Anzio had gained a reputation for being one of the most dangerous places on earth. Troops arrived not expecting ever to leave.

The war correspondent Eric Sevareid entered the town soon after it had fallen and was shocked by the utter destruction that he found there. There was no longer any pattern to the streets, merely broken walls, brick dust and thousands of spent cartridge cases. In the wake of the tumult Cisterna had taken on an eerie stillness. Sevareid wrote: In the little park the palm trees lay blackened and uprooted. Over them a shining white victory statue stood erect on a pedestal. It was the figure of a woman holding aloft a torch in a gesture of triumph. Though her marble head and her torch were gone, in its present attitude of shocked surprise the statue seemed the only vital, living thing within the town.
Operation Overlord was to be the beginning of the end of the war against Germany for the Western Allies, not Operation Diadem. The price of this pyrrhic Italian victory had been too high, with 44,000 Fifteenth Army Group casualties since 11 May, whilst a large proportion of Tenth Army had managed to escape to fight another day. Rome had always been of limited military value, and few people, apart from Mark Clark and the Italians, got overly excited about its capture. For most, Allies and German alike, the events of 5 June were to merely usher in a new phase of the war in Italy. In a remarkable case of strategic myopia, Clark had been blinded by the Eternal City.

Monday, November 4, 2019

From Chocolate to Morphine: Everything You Need to Know About Mind-Altering Drugs

From Chocolate to Morphine: Everything You Need to Know About Mind-Altering Drugs by Andrew Weil

Defining, describing, analyzing, cautioning, and comparing a wide spectrum of drugs along with many substances not normally considered as drugs. Fascinating, informative, and well written, everybody needs to be aware and this book delivers the message.
Our purpose is not to encourage or discourage the use of any drug but rather to help people learn to live in a world where drugs exist and not get hurt by them.

We pay a high price today for our rejection of natural medicines in favor of potent chemicals. The tendency of pharmacologists and doctors to regard more potent drugs as better drugs encourages the use of dangerous derivatives of plants, when often the milder, natural originals would do as well.

It is clear that drug laws have done nothing to discourage people from becoming addicts. There are more addicts than ever, and the kinds of addiction are worse than before those laws were passed. The prohibition of opiates has spawned an ugly criminal underworld, given rise to powerful drug warlords, and led to the widespread corruption of public officials. Campaigns to stamp out heroin, while popular with politicians, have invariably had the opposite of their intended effect, ultimately causing more heroin to enter the world market, not less.

Rez Life: An Indian's Journey Through Reservation Life by David Treuer

Rez Life: An Indian's Journey Through Reservation Life by David Treuer
America’s ruthless history of “Manifest Destiny” with land free for the taking with Winchester repeating arms was unquestionably out and out genocide. This malevolent greed had no limit and was sold to the public as their inalienable right over savages.
This must read book is an honest look at America outside the bubble.
I think it is safe to say that many Ojibwe would go back to using wooden spears and birch bark canoes if non-Natives simply fished with cane poles from shore, with bits of pork rind on the end of their hooks, only as far west as the Ohio River.

Tom Shingobee has in his possession a grocery receipt totaling seventeen dollars that his father had to settle by signing over his 160-acre farm. During World War I, when many of the men were away fighting in Europe, the timber stands were cut down by large timber outfits. One man remembers coming home to his beloved forests only to find a desert of slash and brush and not a tree in sight for miles.

In all, during the forty-seven years the Dawes Act was on the books (the Indian Reorganization Act, passed in 1934, officially stopped allotment but did not formally rescind the policy), Native Americans lost more than 90 million acres of tribal lands, about two-thirds of the lands held by Indians when the Dawes Act was passed; Indians lost, roughly, land that equals the size of the state of California. Ninety thousand Native Americans were left landless and largely homeless. The problems of this kind of landlessness were felt well into the 1970s and are still felt today. During that time, many Indian families were found to be living in cars, under porches, and crammed eight and sometimes ten to a room in dilapidated shacks across the country.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Travel complications 2019

Jane and John, Palma de Majorca, May, 2019

First let me say, everybody has problems.
My youthful frugality has served me well and has seen me through some troubling times.
I had a plan to finish my last two years of school that required saving money, which I did. Without complicating the story, somebody beat me to the money leaving me desperate. My dear old dad extended me enough to carry me through if I was extremely frugal and worked after school and weekends.
He set an example for me. As a young man my dad had developed three newspaper routes, cleaned a drug store before high school every morning, and repaired bicycles in his spare time. He walked five miles a day to save a nickel bus fare to get his pharmacy dad was no stranger to frugality.
When I finished my school I paid dad back in full...I know that he would have forgiven the debt, but I knew that this was a point of trustworthiness and honor. We both were happy. I then went on to pay off my house mortgage only making bank interest payments on while finishing school. By paying ahead on the mortgage I made my last mortgage payment at age 28, owned my home, car, and business, never again needing to feed bankers. Thank you Dad!
Being debt free the rest of my life set me free to fulfill my dreams and see me through two devastating economic collapses without being foreclosed upon. Frugality was resumed!
Four years ago I went to the doctor with a urinary infection and came away with problems: walking in and coming out crippled. Thirty days of the antibiotic Cipro left me with tendinitis, painful leg spasms, and sudden onset instability from low blood pressure. I still had my urinary infection which I resolved myself. Trust in the Mexican government social security medical system was gone.
This led to a long and tedious recovery that has not been 100%, the tendinitis could be lasting. A special diet, daily full body massages, plus walking with trekking sticks was imperative.
I longed to bicycle again, but that was looking impossible.
Eventually I discovered I could use my small folding bicycle as a walker for daily therapy. After two months I put the seat low and tried getting on...this was very difficult. Next I tried pushing with my feet. Eventually I was able to get my feet on the pedals...I had some colossal crashes. After a month my instability still held me back. My persistence story continues.
Today I ride my bicycle every is limited to quiet streets on relatively level ground. Getting started is difficult, and it is imperative to dismount to cross busy intersections.
To this day I can not step up or down a curb without a hand rail or my little bicycle used as a walker. Standing in line for five minutes is painful and my limit. I am thankful for what I can do and always think of my dear old friend George Tappin, who on his deathbed said to me, “John, I would give anything if I could just walk out that door”.
This year we planned a Europe trip to Madrid, Palma de Majorca, and northern Germany/Netherlands. Our health was the number one consideration. Jane’s blood pressure and asthma had to be under control. She has done heroic measures over the years of diet, exercise, and radically reducing medications by strict adherence to diet, not imbibing corporate prepared foods plus low salt and sugar. Our ecologically friendly home and surroundings are virtually chemical free and that includes insecticides.
I will keep this brief …nearly twenty years ago Jane had a heart attack, her wonderful doctor got her on a strict diet that enabled her to get off all of her medications while controlling her weight, and she was cross country bicycling within two a sensible rate. She later needed glaucoma medications that she eventually developed an allergic reaction to. Luckily the one eliminated did not cause any eye complications, but blood pressure needed controlling.
Jane was at the IMSS Mexican social security medical clinic for her yearly vaccinations, and they took her blood pressure. It was too high, they gave her medication and asked when the last time her doctor tested her. The doctor never tested her though Jane had visited monthly. The IMSS director made a schedule for Jane to get daily blood pressure evaluations. Jane’s doctor prescribed three asthma medications. Amazingly Jane’s asthma became severe and her blood pressure erratic. Jane in desperation made an appointment with her private doctor. Her doctor heard her coughing in the waiting room, and when she came in told her that the problem of high blood pressure was caused by her cough and an infection. Then her private doctor saw Jane’s medications prescribed by IMSS and discovered all three of them induced coughing complications. He prescribed a blood pressure medicine to be taken only when needed. This was the answer and Jane’s health miraculously improved, and we both were feeling great.
We were happy and our Europe trip plans could be put back on schedule.
Two more health calamities occurred. The first was the blood pressure medicine bought for our three month Europe trip turned out to be a fake, and Jane nearly had a stroke due to spiked blood pressure. Thankfully our dear friend Helga in Germany got Jane good medicine and that problem was put behind us. The next problem was a mysterious fluke. Briefly: When we were disembarking our flight at Palma de Majorca we noticed a baggage handler give our folding bicycles flying lessons complete with crash landings. Jane’s sprocket was badly bent, but I had the ability to bend it back into alignment. Less than a week later we were biking in Germany, and I took a colossal crash, broke my bicycle helmet and received a brain concussion. My sprocket was also broken but the chain guard has splintered and formed a hook that snatched my bike pants into the sprocket and sent me flying. The reason this didn’t happen at Palma de Majorca was that  I wore short biking pants when bike there.

A note: Our Dahon folding bicycles made eight trans Atlantic crossing and miraculously survived brutal handling, this was the crowning punishment. They are still rolling with us.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Hein Zenker

"The Goddess of opportunity may give us a chance only once in our lifetime; we couldn’t afford to miss it. With thirty-odd years of age, the time was right. We (my wife and I) built ourselves a boat – not very big; 20 feet – and off we were on the greatest adventure anyone could hope to experience."  Hein Zenker

We received word yesterday that an old friend of ours, Hein Zenker, passed away on October 19, 2019.  Our friendship with Hein and his wife Siggi goes back many years.  Siggi passed away two years ago.  Now they are both gone, but many wonderful memories of our times with them remain. We are honored to have had them as friends.  RIP Hein and Siggi.

Siggi and Hein Zenker on Thlaloca Dos signed our logbook on February 15, 1976, while Dursmirg was anchored at Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, Florida.
Without a doubt, the nicest looking boat to pull in and anchor at Boot Key anchorage was Thlaloca Dos. This precision built sailboat was sailed by the saltiest sailors of the group, Hein and Siggi Zenker. However, they were unassuming and immediately very much a part of our dropout anchorage community. They fit in to it naturally. In no time at all, they struck up friendships with all of the boaters in the harbor.
Hein Zenker on Thlaloca Dos and Bubba Schill aboard his Jaeger hit it off like life long friends and soon discovered that they both had something in common. Both served their country during World War II, but ironically they had been on opposing sides, Bubba in the American Navy and Hein in Germany’s Merchant Marine. They were each victims of geography and political leaders that had whipped the world into a monumental state of hate and terror. The chemistry that Bubba and Hein felt for each other was one that I am sure could only have been conveyed by the indelible scars left on their youthful souls and then carried throughout their lives.
Hein and Siggi could look at the world and especially this little collection of social outcasts that made up the Boot Key anchorage with empathy because they had both survived World War II Germany from within and gone on to fulfill a dream that took more determination, dedication, and forceful self-motivation than I had ever seen.
As a matter of fact, with only a couple of exceptions, all of the live aboard boaters that made up Boot Key anchorage back in the mid 1970s did not come to boating with financial backing and each carried their own load in life.
Some were world-class sailors and others couldn’t even tie a nautical knot, but one common thread bound us together and that was that we all were in this boating life for the adventure and freedom of sailing over distant horizons.
Oh, by the way!
In the world of strange coincidences, this next little story unfolded:
Back in St. Augustine, Florida, in the spring of 1973, after Jane and I had just spent our first winter living aboard Dursmirg, which we anchored for some time in Matanzas Bay near the St. Augustine City Yacht Pier, we met a young man living aboard a small sailboat. That spring we were the only two boats anchored in Matanzas Bay. We thought the longhaired hippie looking young man was strange because of his profession, which we had never heard of before. He was a computer programmer who daily commuted to Jacksonville to work, leaving his boat Thlaloca anchored in the bay.
The thing we did not realize at the time was the significance of that little boat with its strange name.
We would later learn the incredible story of the vessel’s monumental maritime achievement plus become close friends with the very people that actually built the boat and then went on to sail it into world history. The builders were Hein and Siggi Zenker and their historical feat was to sail their 20-foot Thlaloca around the world. It was the smallest vessel to do so at the time.
Hein and Siggi started building their little 20-foot sailboat in Iron Bridge, Ontario, Canada, and finished it in California where they launched it to begin the Australian leg of their round the world cruise. Siggi later told Jane and me that that trip was 95% misery. When I asked Hein about his navigational skills, he said that he did not have any at the time, but that he figured he would have plenty of time to study and besides he also figured that he could not possibly miss anything as large as the continent of Australia.

Reviewed by John M. Grimsrud
West! Sail West, Man! Around the World in Twenty Feet
By Hein Zenker
This is a story about real people that not only dreamed the impossible dream but also lived it to the fullest. The husband and wife team of Hein and Siggi Zenker tell their extraordinary story in riveting first person fashion that will leave the reader enthralled.
Jane and I became good friends and neighbors to these real life adventurers that did as we did and put the work-a-day world behind them, built their own boat, and sailed away. They did it ten years before we began our voyage of Dursmirg.
We are deeply impressed by their book and happen to know that the stories of their adventures within are very true but cannot fully relate the dynamics of their powerful free spirits.
To us, they are the kind of people that make the world a better place and knowing them has forever added to our hope that dreams are there to be lived.
Apathy scuttles many a dream boat.
A couple of quotes from the book:
“Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checked by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”
“Crouched deep in the cockpit, I remained there for a long time and observed the foaming seas and listened to the howling gale. And for the x-time, I pondered why apparently sane people venture into this mess repeatedly.”
“Are we the only dreamers? Blinded in believing we are at home in an element, which in reality is out to destroy us, by forces we are unable to control nor understand. Fortunately “dreamers” are optimists who do not cease believing in their power to prevail-like the man in the cartoon, floating on a raft in the middle of the ocean, catching wind in a net.”
I rank this book with the best of the best sea stories I have ever read, need I say more?

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Dance Between Flames: Berlin Between the Wars by Alton Gill


Berliners were a divided lot, the idle rich were totally oblivious to the world collapsing around them and the under privileged were priced out of everything by run away inflation that would cost Germany and the world dearly under the thousand year Third Rich that only lasted twelve years.


Six weeks into 1919, Kessler noted: “I was hauled off by acquaintances to a place where you can dance until dawn. There are hundreds like it in Berlin now. The best description of this second phase of the “dancing on a volcano”
Greater Berlin had fewer than 100,000 inhabitants. The rises in population were due less to births than to migration, as people came to the industrial centre from the land to seek better work. There is an old saying that most true Berliners actually come from Silesia, but city records show that the majority then came from the province of Brandenburg. By 1925, the total population of Greater Berlin had reached four million.

Inflation run away destabilized confidence in anything government
The day of Rathena’s murder, the mark stood at 300 to the dollar. By 6 July the rate was 450. The middle classes, those who had savings, trembled. Patriotic, though misguided, investment in War Loans during the First World War had cost many families their futures. Now, what remained seemed threatened with being wiped out along with any faith in received values, ethical, material or moral. By the middle of January 1923 the mark stood at 10,000 against the dollar; by the end of the month, 50,000. At this point the State Bank intervened and forced the rate down, but it could not stem the tide for long. By May the mark was down again, to 70,000 to the dollar: by the end of June it was 150,000. By August the dollar stood at 1 million marks, and the banks were issuing 46 billion marks a day. By the end of September, the rate had risen to 160 million. The Ullstein newspaper presses were commandeered to print money. The figures on banknotes were overprinted as million mark notes became billion mark notes. Currency in circulation rose to 44 trillion marks. The government was accused of deliberately allowing inflation to skyrocket in order to avoid repaying foreign debts and reparations at par value.

Anyone who hadn’t left by 1933, he said, was de facto a Nazi.

While offering all the attractions of the earlier youth movements, these Nazi organizations also indoctrinated children and turned them against rebellious or controversial parents.

Writer, Sailor, Soldier, Spy by Nicolas E. Reynolds


A turning point in history marked by wars, changing political alliances with greedy go for the jugular power grabs.
One of the very best history oriented books. This is about real people radically changing the world.

Regler saw his duty as maintaining the morale of the troops and working with the civilian population. In 1938 he would boast of saving priceless paintings from destruction and transporting women and children to safety from villages where battles were raging. He was most likely sincere when he said that it was up to the commissars “to halt the cruelties . . . on both sides.” It felt good to be waging the good fight again: for him the winds of “heroic Spain” were blowing away the “stink of Moscow.” He watched “the good Russia” come onto the scene, but worried that “the diabolical Russia” might not be far behind.

Alexander Orlov, the NKVD chief who ran the secret war in Spain for Stalin and made time to entertain Hemingway. National Archives, College Park. Orlov may have gone on to facilitate Hemingway’s visit to Alfambra, the town where he spent the four days in the fall of 1937 with communist guerrillas. They in turn allowed him to witness the attack on the Nationalist train that would drive the plot of his novel For Whom the Bell Tolls.
August 1949, the Soviet Union tested its first atomic bomb and overturned America’s monopoly on super-weapons. A few months later, mainland China fell to the communists. Mao and Chou were now in charge, and Chiang had to make do with ruling the offshore island of Taiwan. In 1950 Stalinist North Korea invaded noncommunist South Korea, starting a war that would last into 1953. At home, the Red Scare intensified when Senator Joseph R. McCarthy of Wisconsin launched a witch hunt for communists that made HUAC’s work seem careful and professional.

Castro already knew how to charm a crowd, and spoke a “clumsy but clear” language some called “fidelenglish.” While in the United States, he literally reached out to anyone who came near him and calmly answered most questions put to him. Staying away from anti-imperialist rhetoric, he adeptly sidestepped questions about communists in his movement. During a speech from the bandstand in Central Park, Castro was eloquent but vague about his core political values: humanism and democracy. The only discordant notes came when he met with officials like Vice President Richard Nixon, who lectured him about the dangers of communism.

Hitler's Swedes: A History of the Swedish Volunteers in the Waffen-SS by Lars T.Larsson


Swedish neutrality during WWII was not 100% and changed with political ups and downs.

Revelations of little known political happenings are the theme of the book, and I found it interesting and informative.
Swedish neutrality was not accepted by all it citizens. There were, in addition to those who politically opposed the government’s policy, thousands more who decided to voluntarily participate in the war. Indeed, thousands of volunteers perpetuated the legacy of those who fought in the First World War, Finnish Civil War, Estonian War of independence and Spanish Civil War.

The war turned in the Allies’ favor in 1943. It was in August of that year that German leave trains were denied passage over Swedish territory. Swedish governmental support for the Western Allies commenced not long afterwards when secret espionage and sabotage bases were permitted to be established along the shared border with Norway.

Sweden had trade agreements with both Germany and the Western Allies during the war. Supplying, amongst other raw materials, immense quantities of ball-bearings and iron ore,
It is a common misconception of post-war literature to hold the Division up as an example of a Pre-NATO pan-European division fighting communism. The fact is that throughout its almost five-year service primarily consisted of German personnel. For example, its total complement consisted of approximately 1,500 foreign volunteers and 18,000 ethnic Germans in summer 1941.

Mikhail Gorbachev was present too, clinging to office as president of the Soviet Union and general secretary of the Communist Party. One month later, Gorbachev survived in office only because Yeltsin climbed onto a tank in Moscow and faced down an attempted army-KGB coup. By December 1991, Gorbachev was gone. The Central Committee of the Communist Party was dissolved. Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, the Baltic states, and other former Soviet republics had proclaimed their independence. In relative peace, seventy-four years of Communist rule in Russia had come to an end.

The Almost Nearly Perfect People by Michel Booth


Humorous, cynical, satirical, brutally honest, and truly memorable.

Even if you aren't Scandinavian as I am, I am sure you will find this informative and revealing book one of the best entertainingly humorous and educationally informative reads you are likely to find.

How come you have no idea where Aalborg or Trondheim actually are? Why can no one you know speak Swedish or “get by” in Norwegian? Name the Danish foreign minister. Or Norway’s most popular comedian. Or a Finnish person. Any Finnish person.

If you had to be reborn anywhere in the world as a person with average talents and income, you would want to be a Viking,” proclaimed British news weekly The Economist, ever so slightly backhandedly, in a special Nordic-themed edition. But where were the discussions about Nordic totalitarianism and how uptight the Swedes are; about how the Norwegians have been corrupted by their oil wealth to the point where they can’t even be bothered to peel their own bananas (really: we’ll get to that later); how the Finns are self-medicating themselves into oblivion; how the Danes are in denial about their debt, their vanishing work ethic, and their place in the world; and how the Icelanders are, essentially, feral?

Swedes will likely cut foreigners some slack in the footwear department, but there is one golden rule that you will not be forgiven for breaking: be on time. You should not be too early, no one appreciates that, but equally you should absolutely never arrive later than five minutes after the time you were invited. In Sweden, the concept of fashionably late” is akin to “fashionably flatulent.”

Alfred Nobel made his fortune by inventing dynamite, initially for the mining industry, but later for the munitions used to slaughter thousands in the Crimean War, and countless millions thereafter. And yet, somehow, one idle day while drawing up his will in his retirement home on the Italian Riviera, Nobel felt his life’s bloodstained legacy warranted, of all things, a peace prize in his name, it is akin to King Herod sponsoring a beautiful-baby competition, or a demolition man handing out architecture prizes.

I can think of many American states in which it would probably be quite an uncomfortable experience to declare yourself an atheist, for example, or gay, or to be married yet choose not to have children, or to be unmarried and have children, or to have an abortion, or to raise your children as Muslims. Less significantly, but still limiting, I don’t imagine it would be easy being vegetarian in Texas, for instance, or a wine buff in Salt Lake City, come to that. And don’t even think of coming out as socialist anywhere! In Scandinavia you can be all of these things and no one will bat an eye (as long as you wait and cross on green).

Charlie Wilson's War by George Crile


America’s clandestine warfare and the person who hyped it.

Provocative and gripping revelations are stacked together in this monumental fast moving true story that reads like a fairy tail. A must read book worthy of more than five stars.
Government wasted money. The poverty program didn’t solve poverty; it might have made it worse. The billions spent in Vietnam had backfired. Washington Post cartoonist Herb Block loved to draw Caspar Weinberger walking around with a thousand-dollar toilet seat around his neck. And everyone knew that the CIA screwed up everything it did.

Israel’s complicated relationship with Iran how the Mossad had “had half of the mullahs on its payroll” before the revolution. But mainly he factored in why Israel would want to be building up Khomeini. The answer was simple: Israel’s most dangerous enemy was Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, and right then Iraq looked as if it might be on the verge of winning its war with Iran. What better way for Israel to do in its enemy and rebuild its alliance with Iran than to get the United States to finance it? That was enough to call into question Israel’s motives, but ultimately what enraged Avrakotos was the vision that Oliver North and the others had of a group of Iranian moderates just waiting to deal honorably with the Great Satan.

The United States roused may well have inspired an entire generation of militant young Muslims to believe that the moment is theirs. To call these final pages an epilogue is probably a misnomer. Epilogues indicate that the story has been wrapped up, the chapter finished. This one, sadly, is far from over.

Prohibition in Washington, D.C.: How Dry We Weren't by Garrett Peck


A look at America’s plunge into radical, fanatical lynch mob mentality.

This must read history book opens up an eye opening visage of just how close to the surface extremism waits to strangle liberty for all. Americans can be sold anything, even a war. The book holds and reveals numerous unflattering aspects of a nation that has the attention span of a gnat.

Temperance advocates were eager to demonstrate that dry law could work nationally, and they used the national capital as a proving ground. The problem was that Washingtonians didn’t want to go dry and never would go dry. Prohibition came early to Washington. It started on November 1, 1917, more than two years before the nation officially went dry and ended on March 1, 1934.

Thanks to legions of German immigrants, beer became the nation’s most popular alcoholic beverage after the Civil War. Washington was no different. The city had a thriving brewing culture, and local breweries struggled to keep up with insatiable demand. With hot and humid summers, lager beer was just the ticket to take the edge off the season. In 1916, district residents drank 7.2 million gallons of beer and 1.6 million gallons of whiskey, wine and other spirits. Beer was so prevalent that temperance advocates took to calling Washington the “Sodom of Suds.” Their victory in prohibition meant the loss of a vibrant brewing culture.

Looking back on it all, the striking thing about prohibition was that so many people could have been so utterly wrong.” The temperance movement seriously misjudged how deeply ingrained drinking was to American culture or how paramount drinking was to Washington society. Discredited and unpopular, the temperance movement went virtually extinct, leaving only the ugly Temperance Fountain as a monument.

The Weather Makers: How Man Is Changing the Climate and What It Means for Life on Earth


In print for fifteen years and more pertinent than ever. 

This author has something imperative to say that MUST NOT be dismissed!

Some idea of the power greenhouse gases have to influence temperature can be gained by examining other planets. The atmosphere of Venus is 98 percent CO2, and its surface temperature is 891°F. Should CO2 ever reach even 1 percent of Earth’s atmosphere, it would “all other things being equal” bring the surface temperature of the planet to boiling point.
Were it not for plants and algae, we would soon run out of oxygen and suffocate in CO2. Through photosynthesis (the process whereby plants create sugars using sunlight and water), plants take our waste CO2 and use it to make their own energy, in the process creating a waste stream of oxygen. It’s a neat and self-sustaining cycle that forms the basis of life on Earth. The volume of carbon circulating around our planet is enormous. Around a trillion tons of carbon are tied up in living things, while the amount buried underground is far, far greater. And for every molecule of CO2 in the atmosphere, there are fifty in the oceans.
Peabody Energy, the world’s largest coal producer) led a campaign, informed apparently by his personal beliefs, that the earth’s atmosphere “is deficient in carbon dioxide” and that producing more would herald an age of eternal summer. In a move rather like the CEO of an arms manufacturer arguing that a nuclear war would be good for the planet, Western Fuels wanted to lead the charge in creating a world with atmospheric CO2 of around 1,000 parts per million.
A ten-year, peer-reviewed study by the IPCC commissioned by Bush senior and studies by the National Academy of Sciences, the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration, and NASA. September 2002 the White House released the Environment Protection Agency’s annual report with the entire section dealing with climate change deleted.
Bush administration “desperately wanted to burn more coal... . Coal is our friend,” and that to do so they would scuttle Clean Air and Clean Water Act requirements. In this the administration has been as good as its word, for, as Shea quipped, it may be some time before the industry has another president like “Bush or Attila the Hun.”
The greatest damage was done by the Global Climate Coalition, an industry lobby group founded in 1989 by fifty oil, gas, coal, auto, and chemical corporations. During the eleven years of its existence the organization gave $60 million in political donations and spent millions more on propaganda. The stated purpose of the Global Climate Coalition was to “cast doubt on the theory of global warming.”
Some industries that oppose action on climate change use tactics reminiscent of those of asbestos and tobacco companies, who by constantly challenging and clouding the outcomes of research into the link between their products and cancer, succeeded in buying themselves a few more decades of fat profits.
Asbestos and cigarettes can kill individuals, but CO2 emissions threaten our planet.

Empires of Light by Jill Jonnes


The Industrial Revolution beginning around 1800 began with steam power fueled by coal.1900 began the second century of the Industrial Revolution, electricity powering by coal, hydro, petroleum, and ultimately wind and solar.

American corporate power was quick to step into this war of the “Electric Currents.” Thomas Edison and his technology of DC (direct current) would stop at nothing to dominate the industry where Westinghouse and Tesla’s new and experimental AC (alternating current) was the only feasible solution.

American business giants battled to dominate and control a world wide technology of the Empires of Light and power distribution.

This is a real history making story, well done, fascinating and fast moving.

1888, Thomas Edison was no longer content to vent his rancor with secret attacks. Using the vehicle of the Edison Electric Light Company, he lashed out publicly, issuing what surely stands as Americ’s longest and most splenetic howl of corporate outrage. The eighty-four-page Edison diatribe, jacketed in angry scarlet and emblazoned with the title WARNING!, served as the official public salvo in one of the most unusual and caustic battles in American corporate history. Edison, with his DC system, was making his first open attack against Westinghouse and AC in the War of the Electric Currents.
Assumed that the electrical future was securely his, with all its glory and potential for riches, suddenly saw the famously tough, reckless, and industrially wealthy Westinghouse boldly swooping in from Pittsburgh to steal away his hard-earned prize. Edison would not sit back quietly and let what he saw as a dangerous system imperil not just his company, but the whole marvelous field of electricity.
Englishman H. G. Wells, science fiction writer turned social observer: These dynamos and turbines of the Niagara Falls Power Company impressed me far more profoundly than the Cave of the Winds; are indeed, to my mind, greater and more beautiful than accidental eddying of air beside a downpour. They are will made visible, thought translated into easy and commanding things. They are clean, noiseless, starkly powerful. All the clatter and tumult of the early age of machinery is past and gone here; there is no smoke, no coal grit, no dirt at all. The wheel pit into which one descends has an almost cloistered quiet about its softly humming turbines. These are altogether noble masses of machinery, huge black slumbering monsters, great sleeping tops that engineer irresistible forces in their sleep”. A man goes to and fro quietly in the long, clean hall of the dynamos. There is no clangor, no racket”. All these great things are as silent, as wonderfully made, as the heart in a living body, and stouter and stronger than that”. I fell into a daydream of the coming power of men, and how that power may be used by them.”

Tesla and his helpers turned out all the necessary components for three complete AC systems, single-phase alternating current, two-phase, and three-phase. He designed and built copper and iron models for each system, a dynamo (without the commutator!)
Decades ahead of his time

63 Documents the Government Doesn't Want You to Read by Jesse Ventura and Dick Russell


Jesse Ventura stood up and blew the whistle on gross governmental disregard for any ethical behavior in the land of the victim be damned where they have the very best politicians that money can buy.

The book is a classic eye opener, not to be taken lightly
2010, the Obama Justice Department cited the so-called “state secrets doctrine” in successfully getting a federal judge to throw out a lawsuit on “extraordinary rendition” (a phrase that really means we send suspected terrorists to other countries to get held and tortured

WikiLeaks is exposing our government officials for the frauds that they are. They also show us how governments work together to lie to their citizens when they are waging war.

First Amendment speech and press rights may also be subordinated to the overriding need to wage war successfully.”

Call something “terrorism,” the Constitution and the Bill of Rights can be made null and void? All they’ve got to do is say the word and they can put you under surveillance without a warrant. To me, this smacks of an attack on the foundations of democracy that plays right into the hands of terrorists. It also sets a precedent for the kinds of tactics we went on to see at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and elsewhere.

Stranger Than We Can Imagine: An Alternative History of the 20th Century by John Higgs


Profound beyond the limit and ingeniously eye opening.

This book is a scholarly trip through an electrically charged revolutionary century of innovative developments, political turmoil, war mongering psychopathy, corporate power supremacy, out of control climate calamity, and the greatest economic disparity since the three hundred years of the Russian Czar.

A journey through the twentieth century can seem like an epic quest. The gallant adventurers who embark on it first wrestle with three giants, known by the single names of Einstein, Freud and Joyce. They must pass through the forest of quantum indeterminacy and the castle of conceptual art. They avoid the gorgons of Jean-Paul Sartre and Ayn Rand whose glance can turn them to stone, emotionally if not physically, and they must solve the riddles of the Sphinxes of Carl Jung and Timothy Leary. Then things get difficult. The final challenge is to somehow make it through the swamp of postmodernism. It is not, if we are honest, an appealing journey.

The twenty-first century is not going to make any sense at all seen through nineteenth-century eyes.

A century is an arbitrary time period. Historians talk about the long nineteenth century (1789-1914) or the short twentieth century (1914-91), because these periods contain clear beginnings and endings. But for our purposes “the twentieth century” will do fine, because we’re taking a journey from when things stopped making sense to where we are now.

Ideology beat science
Even Margaret Thatcher had to amend her views after it became clear how much they offended her political allies. While her 1980 talks displayed clear scientific understanding of the situation, her 2003 book, Statecraft, fell back on the political talking points that cause climate scientists to bang their heads on their desks in despair. Curbing climate change was a front for a political viewpoint that she disagreed with, and for that reason no efforts to curb climate change should be made. Ideology beat science. Individualism beat environmentalism. So carbon continued to be emitted, topsoil continued to decrease and the ice sheets on the poles continued to melt. The debt which funded the consumer activity that caused all this continued to grow. As a result, the window when runaway climate change could have been prevented now appears to have closed.

W. C. Fields was the putative author of “I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.”

The Bill of Rights Primer: A Citizen's Guidebook to the American Bill of Rights by Les Adams, Akhil Amar

The Bill of Rights Primer: A Citizen's Guidebook to the American Bill of Rights by Les Adams, Akhil Amar

FIVE STARS - A historical document clearly explained with it’s impact clarified. 

This fascinating book will take you back to the ore-industrialization years and the nearly impossible War of Independence, the Civil War, women's rights, prohibition, and the political powers that continually attack to bend it.
One of the ironies of history that this thoroughly reprehensible monster played an instrumental role in the foundation of English constitutional government from which a number of the American concepts of freedom embodied in our Bill of Rights were to be drawn. You see, King John happened to be the most notable participant in an event that many historians regard as being one of the most important in the entire history of the western world.
The signing of Magna Carta by King John
(the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, and its accompanying Bill of Rights) as one of the most important writings in the history of the American republic.
This is a book written not for lawyers and judges but for ordinary citizens who care about their Constitution and their rights.

As great as men like Madison and Jefferson were, they lived and died as slaveholders, and their Bill of Rights was tainted by its quiet complicity with the original sin of slavery.

Thomas Paine, (1737-1809). Anglo-American political philosopher who enjoyed active and influential political careers in England, France, and the United States. After the publication of his Rights of Man (1791-2), a powerful condemnation of Edward Burke’s Reflections Upon the French Revolution, Paine was indicted by the British government for treason. In the United States, he was an associate of major figures in the American Revolution, including Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson. His best known writings were: The American Crisis (1776-83), a series of pamphlets; and Common Sense (1776), in which Paine argued that common sense surely led to the conclusion that the American Colonies should become independent of Great Britain. This little pamphlet, which sold over 500,000 copies (an extraordinary figure for that time), was one of the most influential political documents in American history.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Greta Thunberg, Closing the Loop

Greta Thunberg, a sixteen year old Swedish climate activist, is presently on the final approach to New York City aboard a trans-Atlantic sailing vessel with an estimated time of arrival of late afternoon August 27, 2019.
This extraordinary and courageous young lady happens to be a classmate of my cousin’s granddaughter and is a real caring and credible young lady.

The rest of the story; a thousand years ago Leif Erikson, a Viking explorer established settlements in America. First in Nova Scotia, unearthed in 1960, and up the Hudson River in present day New York, unearthed recently.
Greta Thunberg will be closing the loop of her Viking seafaring heritage.

Photo of Greta by European Parliament from EU - Greta Thunberg at the Parliament, CC BY 2.0,

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Climate Change: A Brief Look

Climate Change: A Brief Look

As scientists had predicted global warming would melt polar ice caps and glaciers that would diminish the relativity of snow letting solar heating to be further and faster absorbed by open oceans and soil.

Water is a huge absorber and conveyor of solar heating. Ocean currents such as the Gulf Stream are powered by thermal heat differentials. Examples: The Caribbean Sea is a tropical zone where its temperature exceeds 83 F or 28C. This water floats above cooler water. Arctic Polar ice cap melt is denser than surrounding water and settles to the bottom. There you have relatively the ingredients of thermal heat differential. Hot Caribbean surface water flows north to displace cold polar ice cap melt that settles to the bottom and flows south along the bottom to fill the gap of the hotter water heading north. A solar powered heat pump is formed and is know as the Gulf Stream...a product of nature.

The warmer Gulf Stream water reaches Northern Europe elevating temperature there. To give a perspective, latitudes of Northern Europe are equal to those of Hudson's Bay in northern Canada, home of polar bears and permafrost. As you can see that warm Gulf Stream water has a significant effect on Northern Europe. At present that Caribbean Sea temperature has risen from 83F to 85F. However, the Gulf Stream flow has reduced by more than 30 percent. This is just the beginning. The result is heat build up in the Caribbean Sea and Northern Europe having cooler summers but milder winters.

The impact of all of this will have a multitude of changes. Resulting in polluted Caribbean waters that enhance seaweed growth and killing fish, turtles, coral reefs, and more.

Northern Europe is witnessing invasive insects moving north from warmer climate zones. An example is the oak processionary moth caterpillar, a long name for a small insect but a big problem causing skin irritations, rashes, eye conjunctivitis, and asthma reactions.

There are weather extremes world wide such as droughts, floods, and storms of greater intensity.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

A Frozen Hell: The Russo-Finnish Winter War of 1939-1940 by William R. Trotter

Five Stars

A Frozen Hell: The Russo-Finnish Winter War of 1939-1940 by William R. Trotter

A History not to be forgotten; Little Finland, four million strong, stood up to the mighty Soviet Joe Stalin. Soundly beating back an over-whelming and unrelenting adversary only to then be invaded by Hitler’s war crazed Nazis.
Finland bordering Russia, Sweden, and Norway is a very good neighbor, and one of few over run countries of World War II that promptly repaid all of its war time debts.
That an army so inferior in numbers and equipment, should have inflicted such serious defeats on an overwhelmingly powerful enemy, and, while retreating, have over and over again repelled his attacks, is a thing for which it is hard to find a parallel in the history of war. But it is equally admirable that the Finnish people, face to face with an apparently hopeless situation, were able to resist giving in to despair, and instead to grow in devotion and greatness. Such a nation has earned the right to live.

To the Barricades: The Anarchist Life of Emma Goldman by Alix Kates Shulman

To the Barricades: The Anarchist Life of Emma Goldman by Alix  Kates Shulman

Born an activist, Emma Goldman led a life truthful to her beliefs in liberty for all.
Her inspiring story of her heroic and unabashedly sticking up for human rights causes was not the easy path.
Read about her detractors and their self-serving egotistic axes they felt compelled to grind.
Thought provoking and enlightening, this book will definitely rattle your brain.
Then how would an anarchist society work without government? In an anarchist society every single person would be at liberty to do as he or she pleased. Being free, anarchists believe, people would choose to cooperate with each other voluntarily for the good of everyone. A word often used to describe this main feature of anarchism is libertarian. An anarchist society is based on individual liberty, not government authority or force.
Anarchists are not against order, as many people believe. They are only against imposing order by force or threat of force. They oppose the force used by governments against their own citizens through police, and against the citizens of other nations through armies. They believe that order would certainly prevail in a world where people were free to do as they pleased, because people would choose to make and follow certain rules for their own mutual benefit. That is a very different matter from being forced to follow rules imposed from outside for someone else’s benefit.

Du Pont Dynasty: Behind the Nylon Curtain by Gerard Colby

Du Pont Dynasty: Behind the Nylon Curtain (Forbidden Bookshelf 6) by Gerard Colby

Two hundred years of history; the DuPont family moved to America in 1800 and rode the Industrial Revolution wave to the top. This intriguingly provocative and extensive tome narrates the tale how dedicated and focused determination capitalized into a winner take all.
Two hundred plus years of America’s scramble to it’s world wide top position are step by step documented, the good, bad and ugly. This excellent book is an eye opening prospective I recommend to those who desire to look beyond news hype.
Strange coincidence: of all the records of congressional hearings stacked in the library, one was notably missing when I visited there in 1970, the 1934 Dickstein, McCormick hearings on the aborted plot for an armed coup against Roosevelt.

The CIA’s covert operation was in direct violation of United States law. Congress had refused to authorize any monies for the CIA to overthrow the Nicaraguan government and some Congressmen were furious that the Reagan administration had gone ahead anyway and ordered the CIA into action, backed by thousands of U.S. troops in Honduras.

America copies the Spanish conquistador inquisition crazed imperialist model.
Economic Supremacy, later paraphrased by Professor Woodrow Wilson, insisted that expansion was the key to wealth and called for America to accept its historical destiny as the new center of empire and make the Pacific and Asia its colonies. Alfred Thayer Mahan agreed, calling on the federal government to accept “The White Man’s Burden” by building a large navy that would forcibly bring the white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant God and civilization to the heathen world.

Nixon quote...”I an Not a crook!”
1966, Smathers also voted against legislation aimed at the Du Pont estate’s control over the Florida National banks. Since then, he has left the Senate floor for its darker wings, where he lobbies for southern wealth and large corporations. Indeed, Smathers has been acquiring a whole new set of very interesting friends in Florida. Smathers was the guest of honor at the ground-breaking ceremony of the Key Biscayne Bank, in which Richard Nixon held savings account No. 1. This bank was largely controlled by Charles G. (Bebe) Rebozo, a close friend of Nixon and of right-wing Cuban counterrevolutionaries in Miami. Another director was Robert Abplanalp, another millionaire friend of Nixon, owner of a Bahamas island frequently used by President Nixon as a retreat, and landlord of one of the rented houses in Nixon’s official Florida White House compound at Key Biscayne.