This story made me think again about all the things we were taught in school that are just plain absolutely wrong.

The government never takes initiative on its own. The official educational line is something like, “The government noticed that some citizens were not getting equal opportunities, so they passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”

The truth is, the government never takes action until either it is forced to (by threats such as rebellion and revolution) or there is sufficient lobbying and campaign donations.

In the above case, “The government” (i.e. both houses of congress) fought equal rights legislation tooth and nail — both parties. They only relented when it became inevitable — and there were riots in the streets, protest marches such as Rev. ML King’s to Selma, AL, and sufficient headlines and newscasts to make everyone opposed look like the lowest form of scoundrel.

THEN they finally jumped on board and signed legislation.

The major issues like ending Prohibition and legalized gambling were settled on a state-by-state level with the Federal Government declining to take a part in the issue until a sufficient number of states repealed laws against these “vices” and it was inevitable that soon all states would be breaking federal law.

You name it, and the government has dragged their feet on it.

The only people that never come around are the idealists who write and sell text books — and that is a whole ‘nother story about pressure and undue influence.

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If you are wondering why there hasn’t been a front page post recently, it is because I have been working on my history of The Bunkhouse Boys.

This is the way I honor the memory of my big brother, Craig Ward, who was taken away from us much too soon by cancer.

I believe that a huge part of his joy in life was his time with The Bunkhouse Boys, comprised of his two brothers and a great friend. To make this public is to show the world (or at least the world wide web) what he did and what he meant to us.

There will be more installments on this blog.  How many?  I don’t know.  I think there are a lot of stories to tell.  First I’ll set down the basic chronology and then get into anecdotes.

If you knew him and loved him, I hope you enjoy reading about Craig.

If you didn’t know him, you are welcome to get acquainted by reading these tales.

Happy Birthday Craig.

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What Is Inflation — and Will It Happen Again?

A hundred dollars in 1967 would have the purchasing power of $723.74 today (2016) according to the US Bureau of Labor. They have a handy calculator on the web.

This is technically how we measure inflation. In other words, we have had nearly 725% inflation since 1967.

To keep you from having a heart attack, the USBL decided to change their basis for inflation. The current standard reference base period was changed to the 36-month period encompassing 1982, 1983, and 1984.

By that measure, $100 in 1984 would have the purchasing power of $232.66 — and inflation rate of 232 2/3%

What is all this economic voodoo? It is called “monetizing the debt.”

The term applies to the process of the Federal Reserve buying debt, which increases the money supply, which usually leads to inflation.

For an explanation of how this works, you can read a good, lucid description.

Why did we start counting inflation at 1967? According to one economist’s blog:

“In the 60’s and 70’s the Fed increased the money supply to help finance the Viet Nam War and to pay for the “Great Society” programs of Lyndon Johnson. The money created went directly into spending. Spending increased in both the defense sector and as welfare given directly to the poor. The money was then immediately spent on goods and services which led to an inflationary spiral that took inflation from about 2% to over 14% at its peak. All prices rose, including wages.”

Why was it reset at 1982-1984?  This was peacetime in the USA.

Of course, that officially ended in 1990-91 with Gulf War I.

Please note that “peace-time” is a relative concept.  Unofficially, after we evacuated the last marines and civilians from Viet Nam in 1975 there were still some clean-up operations in SE Asia.

And in the 80s there was Lebanon and Libya and Grenada and Nicaragua and ….

Well, I can see your eyes glazing over. Just to summarize this concept of “peacetime” you can read this article.

America Has Been At War 93% of the Time – 222 Out of 239 Years – Since 1776

Wars are expensive. And debt must be paid — so it is usually “monetized.”

The profiteers are happy to see this happen — even if it causes inflation. So the profiteers profit and the public suffers. As the economy declines, we get fewer services at home — schools, libraries, parks, recreational facilities, law enforcement and fire-fighting services are all cut or curtailed.

Our infrastructure can’t be maintained — highways and streets, water systems and supplies, and the country decays and declines.

All of this is very complicated and the explanation here is quite simplified. In fact, the reason we have so much of this war and inflation and such is that people are overwhelmed by the complexities.

However, we must do something. Without the wars, our economy would be strong enough to give people medical care and pay for education (including college) and to make our cities livable and clean and safe.

Politics is not the answer. Politics is a game and a means to the end (which is power).

We need to find answers and provide a channel for solutions.

Anyone who can provide these will be a national hero.

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The two people most responsible for bringing jazz music into the mainstream got together 60 years ago this month and cut a record that is now an historical touchstone. I’m speaking of “Ella and Louis” the first duet album by jazz titans Fitzgerald and Armstrong.

Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong

Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong recorded their first duet album 60 years ago.

But the unsung hero of this project — and of popularizing jazz music as well as integrating audiences and venues — was Norman Granz.

“Ella and Louis” fueled a revival of that body of work we call The Great American Songbook — a treasure trove of music mostly created by white Jewish men — and spread it to a multi-cultural audience. And there it sits today, with most major artists giving their take on the various songs in the (informal) Songbook. In fact, Michael Feinstein gets a laugh out of telling audiences his name for it — “the Rod Stewart songbook.”

Norman Granz was a music promoter, concert impresario, talent agent and founder of several record labels — the best-known and most successful of which is Verve. His name is synonymous with jazz music to those in the know.

Most of the big-name jazz stars you’ve heard of were on a Granz record label and a Granz-produced concert. He was white and Jewish and was determined to integrate jazz music through music.

His biggest accomplishment was probably JATP –“Jazz at the Philharmonic” — which became a catalog of firsts.

In 1944 the Philharmonic Auditorium in Los Angeles had never featured jazz music before, and it didn’t intend to until Granz started working on them. The first concert was so successful that several more followed. JATP became international concert tours and popular live albums.

Using an integrated bill of performers, Granz refused to book the show at segregated theaters and halls. The tour ran for over ten years, until about 1957.

But as well as getting the music out to integrated audiences in integrated music halls, Granz got the musicians higher pay and acceptance at formerly segregated lodging while on tour.

He later tackled the task of integrating the hotels and casinos in Las Vegas.

In other words, the Norman Granz legacy is monumental. And along the path, his career was marked by remarkable accomplishments. And that was perfectly exemplified by the album he produced 60 years ago — “Ella and Louis.”

“It was perhaps more of a cultural leap, in the middle of that tumultuous century, that two black performers could be considered the best interpreters of white show tunes, and that the extemporaneous heart of jazz could elevate the whole to iconic status, desegregating American popular culture in just eleven songs.”

For the full story behind this album, you can check out this link:
The Story of ‘Ella and Louis,’ 60 Years Later

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I carried a daily newspaper delivery route from about 2nd grade through 6th and had to quit when I started going out for after-school sports in 7th grade.  I walked — didn’t ride a bike or have a car (of course).

The trip from the newspaper office where I picked up my papers to the first house for delivery took me through the business district, and almost every day I stopped and bought a comic book to read while I walked the route.  It was 10cents for the comics until those $#%& raised it to 12cents!

Vintage Marvel Comics Dr. Strange comic book cover

Vintage Marvel Comics Dr. Strange

My main fodder was DC comics (Superman and Batman, League of Superheroes and various spin-offs). I really wasn’t into Marvel, except I like Spiderman.  But the art was not as good as DC.  I thought Steve Ditko art was “blocky.”

I eventually lost contact with those comics — although I never outgrew my love for comic art (I never really had the talent to draw, although loved to doodle and cartoon).

I left Superman behind while Clark Kent was still a newspaper reporter, before he married Lois and back when Batman still had Robin … and all the other crazy alternate Earth stories with various lives and deaths and resurrections.  I don’t know what the heck is going on in the DC universe and Marvel universe today.

However, comic books are a minor form of entertainment now.  It’s all about the movies.  Especially when they make a billion dollars apiece!

They go through all the super heroes trying to find the ones the public will embrace so they can make a franchise with ever-more popular and lucrative sequels and spin-offs.

Or they just make the same darn movie over and over again.  (How many times can Peter Parker get bitten? How many times must young Bruce Wayne see his parents murdered?)

Now they are reaching down into the well to draw up a fresh bucket of superhero to quench the fires of rabid fan demand.

The Hollywood Reporter reports that the newest is Marvel’s Doctor Strange.

Benedict Cumberbatch (with an American accent) in the title role leading a British cast, as a neurosurgeon whose hands are destroyed in an accident, so he trains with a Far Eastern mystic guru (Tilda Swinton) to learn secrets of bending time and space and whatever else he wants to bend.

Marvel's Newest Superhero Movie Features Dr. Strange

Marvel’s Newest Superhero Movie Features Dr. Strange

As movies go, audiences generally want an action movie, rather than a thinking movie.  They generally want flying and bullets-bouncing off the chest and X-ray vision and a colorful costume. Instead, Marvel is offering Eastern mysticism and an opera tuxedo.

Will it work?

The HR review complimented the casting, but the intended audience might not know Cumberbatch or Swinton — much less Chiwetel Ejiofor.

The review also compliments the witty script — but these types of movies are more noted for lines like — “Over there!  Look!” and “Hulk Smash!”

But as the review says, “they unquestionably class up the joint.”

Of note — the villain is Mads Mikkelsen who was also a James Bond villain and TV’s Hannibal Lecter.  Typecast?  I imagine Mikkelsen is cackling all the way to the bank.

Supporting cast members Rachel McAdams, Michael Stuhlbarg and Benjamin Bratt are all well-known (at least their faces are) and sturdy actors that should put in a reliable performance.

I’m looking forward to the movies.  I’m not a snob about intellectual content, but I enjoy a good mental treat as well as some good ole “Hulk Smash!”

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Today is the International Day of Peace.
I grew up in the Beatles generation, and I thought the world was coming to an end in 1969 — not because of the Viet Nam War, but because the Beatles announced they were breaking up!
Fortunately, the music didn’t stop. Especially John Lennon (and — yes, you have to include Yoko) who tirelessly campaigned for Peace and Love. “Give Peace A Chance” and “Imagine” and “War is Over If You Want It (And So This Is Christmas”), the “Bed-In” in Toronto.
Teddy R-bigstick-cartoon 
But reality is not kind — there has never been a cessation of war.
I learned a Christmas song when very young — “I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day” and the last verse is so melancholy.
And in despair I bowed my head,
There is no peace on Earth, I said
For Hate is strong and Mocks the song
Of Peace on Earth, Good Will To Men.
Happy International Day of Peace.
Let’s all try to get along.

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We do a lot of traveling, Estelle and I. That means a lot of hotels and restaurants, sometimes a taxi and other necessities of the road.

Angry diner berating the waiterI am a tipper. I don’t go by a per centage of my cost. I look at the time and trouble involved and the merits of the person who helps us. Everybody gets a tip — usually a generous one. Not only the people who are good and cheerful. Heck, I wouldn’t be in a good mood if I had to do some of the things these working people do. In fact I have.

Right out of high school, I washed dishes in a truck stop for $1.10 an hour. Minimum wage at that time was around $3. My girlfriend was a waitress there (she got me the job — well, a no-show dishwasher actually got me the job) so I knew what she had to put up with and how little she made.

That’s why my stolen quote today is from my favorite marketing guru — he’s not only wildly successful and a great role model, but he is about my same age and went through some of the same things I did while growing up.

“You can absolutely make some working stiff’s day with a kind word, a few minutes of conversation, a decent tip.”
— Dan S Kennedy, Marketer

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Manufacturers have millions of dollars to spend promoting their message, which researchers don’t have and government won’t use.

What we end up with is marketing and PR claiming the majority of headlines and sound bites with biased or just plain fictional results.

Also, the general public really doesn’t know the difference between opinion and legitimate test results. Thus we see messages such as “4 out of 5 dentists recommend” such and such a toothpaste — and the claim is not challenged. How much documentation can you put on the tube of a toothpaste?

Once the claims are in the public record, they can be used to fight policies that would limit their damage (as in the history of the tobacco companies) or to promote unwise and unhealthy products or practices as beneficial in some way.

Then we have the “apples and oranges” arguments, such as studies on exercise being used as proof of dietary recommendations. Coca Cola had a massive campaign about consumers increasing their exercise instead of reducing the intake of Coke to fight obesity. Of course, they are fighting the various state and federal attempts to tax soda drinks. It is a typical “follow the money” logic to see what their real agenda is.

Big budgets are usually more successful at promoting a message than science is at promoting the truth.

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Do you enjoy public radio?

I drive a lot and prefer PBS — mainly because these kids and their modern music with the hipping and hopping and …. but back to topic.

It bothers me that public radio now has commercials. Isn’t it supposed to be non-commercial? Oh yeah, their are contributors and grants and such. But when revenue started falling off, they started giving more detailed credits to their contributors to convince them to sink money into what is supposed to be a public service. Yes … now instead of one sentence like, “Funding for this program was provided by the Ford Foundation” they give you a full 30 seconds of, “Ford — where the rubber meets the road. See your local Ford Dealer for the new Escalade 9Mz, the going choice of drive-by shootings!”

Then, on their free and unfettered news, they have health spots by Kaiser Wilhelm Permanently Al Dente news service — which is always about what is going on the the Kaiser’s hospital. Did you really think that was NEWS?

And they STILL do their week-long fund drives. But instead of twice a year, they do them monthly.

Do you like public TV? Did you know they show infomercials? And Advertainment? Oh yeah

Every time fund drive comes around (again and again) they show Dr. Whizzbang and his miracle cure for tongue warts — a 90 minute infomercial …. and then Dr. Whizzbang is on during the “break” when they overtly ask for money and give you the 9 DVD collection of Dr. Whizzbang’s entire miracle library.

So has this cut down on listener/viewer contributions to public media? Well … it has cut down on at least this one donor’s contributions (fair disclosure — I used to be one of the dweebs on the phones in the studio — but no more!)

Now … back to classical music. {CLICK}

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If you are ready to give up on losing weight, if you are sick and tired of diets that don’t work, if you arDetective interrogating cop.e depressed that you follow all of your doctor’s advice and still gain weight, if you think you are unfairly blamed for “cheating” and being lazy …

We want to band together to fight for our health and make progress in the quest for a leaner, healthier body.

I hearby officially announce a new Meetup group named Irvine Overcoming Overweight Meetup, co-moderated by my wife, Estelle Toby Goldstein, and me.

The first meeting is scheduled Thursday, Sept. 29 at 25 Mauchly, Suite 322 Irvine,CA 92618. Go to the Meetup page linked above, and please RSVP as we have very limited space (about 30 people).

A great big thank-you to Nutripy™  and CEO Jeffrey Moore for allowing us to take over their warehouse for this meeting. You can park in the rear of the building and enter through the back door.

This is one place where you are welcome to bring your excess baggage!

My goal is to lose 100 lbs. How about you? You have a lot to lose? Maybe we can work together and reach our final goals happy and healthy!

Come join us — I’ll look forward to seeing you there.



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