Friday, February 28, 2014

Trevor's Tirade - Morgan

Not really a tirade this week; more of an observation.  I seems that CNN's relationship with the Englishman Piers Morgan is ending.  Frankly I'm not surprised.  Whereas Mr. Morgan appears to be a decent chap, he has not grasped the fundamental that the USA is a very different country to the UK.  I was told this soon after I arrived, and it was emphasised that the Brits were in fact closer to the French, Germans and say the Dutch than they were to Americans.  It's just that we share the same language. 
Therefore trying to persuade Americans that they should be more like the English just isn't going to work.  And that certainly goes for our constitution.  This document has kept us safe from the inside for over 200 years and we're rather protective of it.  It's not perfect, but it does the job pretty well, although there are plenty who would like to reform it to their own ideas.  The 2nd amendment allows us to own firearms and this was a real sticking point with Mr. Morgan, who is vehemently anti-gun.  Coming from the UK that's quite easy to understand as that country has never had a gun culture.  But night after night he railed against our possession of guns and I think that's what has caused his demise.  The reaction from the audience has been akin to that of a Scotsman on hearing an Englishman rant about kilts and whiskey!  Or constantly going on about how antiquated British beliefs are in the monarchy.  It's not going to work.  Bon Voyage!!!!!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Music Track - Mars

Holst around 1921

This piece has inspired many other composers to delve in to the darker side of life.  But this is the 7:30 original in its full length.  Mars, the Bringer of War, from The Planets, by Gustav Holst.  In spite of his name - it was from his Scandinavian grandparents - he was English.  When I worked in South West London, I often passed by his house on the Thames at Barnes.  He wasn't in it of course as he died in 1934!  The last phrase of the music says it all.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Kim Jong Un endorses Obamacare

If there was any doubt, finally the supreme leader has endorsed Obamacare.  Thanks to my son, Michael for this earnest video of how things are doing in the Korean peninsular (northern part!)  Michael lives in Japan so his information on his near neighbor is obviously on target.  I wish we had such a classy news reader on Channel 7!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


On our ride up to Oregon eighteen months ago we passed through Oakland on the 880.  There was a slight bend in the road and ahead of me I saw a large building with the sign still up.  It was Solyndra.  If you remember it was a government backed (Obama) business that was to get into the solar panel market.  I don't know all the details as to why it failed except I think the Chinese produced a product much cheaper.  But it served to show just how bad government is when it comes to trying it's hand at free markets.  I knew we would be passing the same building on our way to the Raiders game and so I asked Madam if she would keep the camera handy for a shot.  I see that the infamous name of Solyndra has gone as new occupiers have taken over what is after all a very modern building.  It's Seagate.  They make a product I use as a back up disc.  And no tax payer funds required to help it!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Video - Motorcycle Cop

My thanks to Kevin in the Marina for this video of some amazing motorcycling by a Texas cop.  His bike weighs around 800 pounds and it looks like a kid's toy under his control  No, I shan't be attempting this any time soon!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sunday's Column - Sky Town

I thought there was something a little different when I went into "Pharaoh's," the other day.  To begin with it's not called "Pharaoh's" any more; it's now called Sky Town and Splash Kingdom, although you have to wait until May for the second half of that title to begin.  The immediate difference was the entry way itself.  The
Pharaoh himself is now sporting a flashy pair of shades.  It was the idea of general manager, David Simon, who I've met before about four years ago.  "I thought it would make him look cool," he said.  But the changes don't end there as the entire interior is now a trampoline park and it's full of kids jumping.  You can read the entire article at

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Right Track - Principal's Speech

I'm grateful to my friend Don in Orange County for sending me this suggested speech for a school principal.

A Speech  Every American High School Principal Should Give. 
By Dennis Prager . 
To the students and faculty of our high school: 
I am your new principal, and honored to be so. 
There is no greater  calling than to teach young people. 
I would like to apprise  you of some important changes coming to our school. I am making these changes  because I am convinced that most of the  ideas that have dominated public  education in America have worked against you, against your teachers and against  our country. 
First , this school will no  longer honor race or ethnicity. 
I could care less if your racial makeup is black, brown, red, yellow or white. I could care less if your origins are African, Latin American, Asian or European, or if your  ancestors arrived here on the Mayflower or on slave ships. The only identity I care about, the only one this school will recognize, is your individual identity  -- your character, your scholarship, your humanity. And the only national  identity this school will care about is American. 
This is an American  public school, and American public schools were created to make better  Americans. If you wish to affirm an ethnic, racial or religious identity through  school, you will have to go elsewhere. We will end all ethnicity, race and  non-American nationality-based celebrations. They undermine the motto of America  , one of its three central values -- Epluribus Unum, "from many, one." And this  school will be guided by America 's values. This includes all after-school  clubs. I will not authorize clubs that divide students based on any identities.  This includes race, language, religion, sexual orientation or whatever else may  become in vogue in a society divided by political correctness. 
Your clubs will be based  on interests and passions, not blood, ethnic, racial or other physically defined  ties. Those clubs just cultivate narcissism -- an unhealthy preoccupation with  the self -- while the purpose of  education is to get you to think beyond  yourself. So we will have clubs that transport you to the wonders and glories of  art, music, astronomy, languages you do not already speak, carpentry and more.  If the only extracurricular activities you can imagine being interested in are  those based on ethnic, racial or sexual identity, that means that little outside  of yourself really interests you.
Second , I am uninterested in  whether English is your native language. My only interest in terms of language  is that you leave this school speaking and writing English as fluently as  possible. The English language has united America 's citizens for over 200  years, and it will unite us at this school. It is one of the indispensable  reasons this country of immigrants has always come to be one country. And if you  leave this school without excellent English language skills, I would be remiss  in my duty to ensure that you will be prepared to successfully compete in the  American job market. We will learn other languages here -- it is deplorable that  most Americans only speak English -- if you want classes taught in your native  language rather than in English, this is not your school. 
Third , because I regard  learning as a sacred endeavor, everything in this school will reflect learning's  elevated status. This means, among other things, that you and your teachers will  dress accordingly. Many people in our society dress more formally for Hollywood  events than for church or school. These people have their priorities backward.  Therefore, there will be a formal dress code at this school. 
Fourth , no obscene language  will be tolerated anywhere on this school's property -- whether in class, in the  hallways or at athletic events. If you can't speak without using the f -word,  you can't speak. By obscene language I mean the words banned by the Federal  Communications Commission, plus epithets such as "Nigger," even when used by one  black student to address another black, or "bitch," even when addressed by a  girl to a girlfriend. It is my intent that by the time you leave this school,  you will be among the few your age to instinctively distinguish between the  elevated and the degraded, the holy and the obscene. 
Fifth , we will end all  self-esteem programs. In this school, self-esteem will be attained in only one  way -- the way people attained it until decided otherwise a generation ago -- by  earning it. One immediate consequence is that there will be   ONE  valedictorian,  not eight. 
Sixth , and last, I am  reorienting the school toward academics and away from politics and propaganda.  No more time will be devoted to scaring you about smoking and caffeine, or  terrifying you about sexual harassment or global warming. No more semesters will  be devoted to condom wearing and teaching you to regard sexual relations as only  or primarily a health issue... There will be no more attempts to convince you  that you are a victim because you are not white, or not male, or not  heterosexual or not Christian. We will have failed if any one of you graduates  this school and does not consider him or herself inordinately fortunate -- to be  alive and to be an American. 
Now, please stand and  join me in the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of our country. As many of you  do not know the words, your teachers will hand them out to you.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Tirade - Quantities

What is it with these food manufacturers?  Why can't we settle on the right quantities?  For instance recently I bought some hot dogs.  I assumed there would be four in a packet, but no, there were five.  Then if you want to buy the buns they are packed in sixes!  Similarly hamburger buns seem to come in fours, but the actual packed hamburgers come in dozens.  Has nobody thought this through?  Only being two in our household, bread type products go stale long before we can eat them, and I'm sure we're not the only people with this  problem - or at least a well stuffed deep freeze, although bread doesn't do that well in a freezer.  I'm certain there's a market for smaller quantities for smaller households.  OK, charge a little extra, but why not cater to us.  Come on People!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Music Track - Mother and Child

Rather a nice song from Paul Simon and some pretty pictures too!  Sorry about the ad at the beginning.  Close your ears for that!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Trains Part One

I recently went into the engine driver's compartment of a huge Canadian Pacific steam train.  I'd never been in one before that I could recall.  A few weeks before I had sat at a simulator of a modern diesel train and it was not the same at all.  It made me realise how lucky I've been to have lived through some of the age of steam before it all went away.  The sheer power of these massive yet comparatively simple machines was amazing, and I know that in some parts of the world they still operate.  Also a few enthusiasts keep them running in the UK.  Or where would the cast of Downton Abbey go for their period travels?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


It's always fun to catch out the big wheels in Hollywood!  Recently we saw Saving Mr. Banks, which is an excellent film by the way.  In it Mrs. Travers, an extemely uptight upper class Englishwoman arrives in Hollywood.  Throughout the film she requests tea and always insists that the milk be put in first.  Now it happens that Mrs. Travers was neither English nor upperclass - she was raised in poverty in the outback of Australia.  She also was never married.
However, she moved to London and lived in the time of the late fifties and early sixties when the term "U" for upper class and "Non-U" - not upper class were very much in vogue.  Also part of that entire argument was the practice of putting milk in the tea first.  This was decidedly "Non-U!"  In fact such people were called MIF's.  This is something that Mrs.T would certainly have known, and surely would have corrected her behavior accordingly.
The source of U and Non U was Nancy Mitford, who became an authority on the entire class business.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Video - Bringing Jobs back

I'm grateful to my friend Keith in the desert for this 3 minute video on how to bring jobs back to America.  Something we all can help with.  It's definitely worth watching as it effects us all.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sunday's Column - Mojave River Museum

This week we visit a local museum in Barstow.  It's quite an interesting place with a rather eclectic collection.
Their new arrival however is a blacksmith's shop from the 18th century.  Demonstrations are regularly given of this craft that was so necessary all those years ago.  Find out the original meaning of "beating the daylight out."

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Right Track - A Case for Dictators

I've been waiting for someone to say it as perhaps it's heresy to do so, but the other evening I heard a young woman in Egypt say: "We need a strong man to run our country."  She might as well have said "rule" as that was what she implied.  Isn't it time to end the desire for democracy in Islamic countries?  They don't seem able to handle it.  Once the leader is gone - check Mubareck, Ghadafi, Hussein - then the place spirals into death and destruction.  Granted it was pretty grim for anyone who didn't like the regime before, but at least you could walk down the street without fear of running into a rabble demanding - what exactly?  I can't figure out what they all want except to run the place according to their ideas - no matter how extreme or bizarre.  Perhaps it's time to look around for someone who wants total rule and control over the population without that annoying ballot box to have to consider.  I believe there might be someone with that exact desire and also looking for a job in 2016!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Tirade - Timekeeping

One of the things that really annoys me is unpunctuality!  Now I was raised to believe it was the height of rudeness to be late for anything.  All events, scheduled to begin at a certain time, did just that.  There was no padding of an extra ten minutes for latecomers.  Similarly if you were due to meet anyone, with no cell phones, you had virtually no way to let them know if you were to be late. I remember one old salesman saying that if a person was not at the address at the appropriate time, then he assumed they were in the hospital.  There was simply no excuse.  Do parents still teach their children about punctuality?  I don't know.  But with all the methods of communications available to everyone, we seem to be getting later and later for appointments.  I heard a commentator the other day saying that people who turn up for jobs are often late. His number one rule for any applicant is BE ON TIME!  In fact he repeated it three time, it's so important.  So if you want that job, you know what to do. It's not tough.  Come on People!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Music Track - Gloria

Coming over to the States in 1982, I didn't have a lot of time to listen to music and it seems that an entire decade slipped away from me.  I did go to the odd movie and one that I always remember was Flashdance.  At the time I didn't know it was a "chick flic!"  I liked the music from it too which no doubt makes me a hopeless case.  This comes from that movie and is very emotive of the time.  I defy you not to find it very appealing.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Moving Puzzle

I'm grateful to my brother-in-law for this amusing bit of time wasting.  It purports to tell you if you've got Alzheimer's as those with it can't complete the puzzle.  I enjoyed it anyway.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Middle East

I'm grateful to my friend Paul for sending me this.  If you're like me and get confused by the situation in the Middle East, this might help to clear up the confusion or not! It was written to a British newpaper by a Mr. K N Salah:

Sir, Iran is backing Assad. Gulf States are against Assad. Assad is against the Muslim Brotherhood. Muslim Brotherhood and Obama are against General Sisi but Gulf States are pro Sisi.  Which means they are against the Muslim Brotherhood.  Iran is pro Hamas, but Hamas is backing the Muslim Brotherhood!  Obama is backing the Muslim Brotherhood, yet Hamas is against the U.S.  Gulf States are pro U.S. But Turkey is with the Gulf States against Assad, yet Turkey is pro Muslim Brotherhood against General Sisi.  And General Sisi is being backed by the Gulf States,  Welcome to the Middle East, and have a nice day!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Video - Good/Bad batteries

This is really a wonderful little trick to know if a battery is good or bad.  My thanks to Denise (warming herself in the sun in Florida) for this one.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Sunday's Column - W.A.R.M.

I was lucky the other day to meet the president of Barstow's railway museum, Laurance Dale.  Not only did he fire up and show me the new simulator they have, but he also took me on a tour of the old general manager's personal railway car.  It happened to be the first of two such visits to personal cars; the second will come out in a couple of week.  If you're in Barstow, this Western Area Railway Museum is well worth a look.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Right Track - War on Poverty

This week's Right Track comes from The Daily Reckoning.  It was sent
to me by my son, Michael.  It's written by Bill Bonner and helps to explain things.

The Druid Hill area of Baltimore, where we lived for about 10 years, was the front lines in the War on Poverty. Few people had jobs. Instead, they just hung around. Idleness begat disorder. And trouble… In personal lives, family lives, and the life of the community.

People slept at all hours… and stayed up late at night partying. Children were poorly tended to, often out on the street in the middle of the night. The sidewalks were strewn with trash, and dangerous. Gunshots were frequent. Violent deaths were not uncommon. The red and blue lights of the gendarmes were never far away.

It had its charms. One of our neighbors had murdered another man in a drug dispute. He seemed like a nice fellow, at least as long as you didn’t get him too mad. He and a few others formed a kind of glee club, singing the Motown hits, until they passed out drunk.

They could get drunk every night because they didn’t have to get up to go to work in the morning. The work world imposes order. You have to get up in the morning. You have to get along with your co-workers. And you have to get the job done. Mother necessity is a powerful civilising force. Take her out of a community and the place goes to Hell.

Marriage, too, comes with civilising requirements. You have to get along with your spouse. You have to learn to live together. You have to take responsibility for other people… and cooperate to get the job done.

But there were almost no marriages and no jobs in Druid Hill. Why? The War on Poverty made them unnecessary. You didn’t need to have a job to support yourself. And you didn’t need to get married to support your children either. The feds would do it.

“In 1963, 6% of American children were born out of wedlock. Today the number stands at 41%. As benefits swelled, welfare increasingly served as a substitute for a bread-winning husband in the home. …Children raised by a single parent are three times as likely to end up in jail and 50% more likely to be poor as adults”.

The War on Poverty? The poor would be better off without it.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Tirade - Menus

I went into a very nice restaurant the other day.  I sat down and was given the usual glass of water - I didn't even have to ask for it.  Then the menu appeared which seemed quite well presented.  Unfortunately it had followed what I have noticed to be a disturbing trend - it was all in pictures.  Now food is an exceptionally difficult subject to photograph and I suspect that it cost the restaurant a lot to produce this.  Plus it's going to be very tough to make alterations.  The pictures were OK, but I don't particularly like my meals pictorialised, as I've grown quite adept at translating words into thoughts over the years.  I appreciate that we've downgraded our education process to a large extent but is this next step towards idiocy really necessary?  Come on People!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Music Track - God Bless America!

I'm grateful to my friend Van, buried deep in the Mid West for this interesting piece of musical history and the 5 minute video to go with it.

Do you remember Kate Smith?
Frank Sinatra considered Kate Smith the best
singer of her time, and said that when he and a million other guys first heard her sing "God Bless America" on the radio, they all pretended to have dust in their eyes as they wiped away a tear or two.
Here are the facts...
The link at the bottom will take you to a video
showing the very first public singing of "GOD BLESS AMERICA".
But before you watch it, you should also know the story behind the first public showing of the song.
The time was 1940. America was still in a terrible
economic depression. Hitler was taking over Europe
and Americans were afraid we'd have to go to war. It was a time of hardship and worry for most Americans.
This was the era before TV, when radio shows were HUGE, and American families sat around their radios in the evenings,
listening to their favorite entertainers, and no entertainer of that era was bigger than Kate Smith.
Kate was also large; plus size, as we now say, and the popular phrase still used today is in deference to her, "It ain't
over till the fat lady sings". Kate Smith might not have made it big in the age of TV, but with her voice coming over the radio, she was the biggest star of her time.
Kate was also patriotic. It hurt her to see Americans so depressed and afraid of what the next day would bring. She had
hope for America, and faith in her fellow Americans. She wanted to do something to cheer them up, so she went to the famous American song-writer, Irving Berlin (who also wrote
"White Christmas") and asked him to write a song that would make Americans feel good again about their country. When she described what she was looking for, he said he had just the song for her.
He went to his files and found a song that he had written, but never published, 22 years before - way back in 1917. He gave it to her and she worked on it with her studio orchestra. She and Irving Berlin were not sure how the song would be received by the public, but both agreed they would not take any profits from God Bless America. Any profits would go to the Boy Scouts of America.
Over the years, the Boy Scouts have received millions of dollars in royalties from this song.
This video starts out with Kate Smith coming into
the radio studio with the orchestra and an audience. She introduces the new song for the very first time, and starts singing. After the first couple verses, with her voice in the background still singing, scenes are shown from
the 1940 movie, "You're In The Army Now." At the 4:20 mark of the video you see a young actor in the movie, sitting in an office, reading a paper; it's Ronald Reagan.
To this day, God Bless America stirs our patriotic feelings and pride in our country. Back in 1940, when Kate Smith went looking for a song to raise the spirits of her fellow Americans, I doubt whether she realized just how successful the results would be for her fellow Americans during those years of hardship and worry..... and for many generations of Americans to follow. Now that you know the story of the song, I hope you'll enjoy it and treasure it even more.
Many people don't know there's a lead in to the song since it
usually starts with "God Bless America....." So here's the
entire song as originally sung.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Sunday's Column - Museum of Death

Well, it's something that we're all going to experience - some sooner than others, of course.  But in Los Angeles - Hollywood naturally - there's a museum of death to spend a little time in preparation for the event.  All aspects are on display here and it's quite an interesting place to spend $15 and an hour or two.  If you want to read the entire column click here


We've come to the end of the football season and the last few weeks have shown us some terrific games.  On Sunday it was time for the ultimate prize - the super bowl.  And for the players the ownership of a ring.

I happened to be in a local watering hole the other weekend and a game was on.  I was sitting next to a man who seems to be quite animated over the game.  It turned out that he had been a player in the NFL and was a very charming fellow.  His name was Chris Geile and he was an offensive lineman for the Detroit Lions, then the Seattle Seahawks and finally for the San Francisco 49ers.  He was in the game for 4 years and had 17 operations to get him right from his injuries.  He had on his finger a super bowl ring.  It was very large and on a smaller man it would have looked slightly ridiculous.  But he was 6' 4" and weighed 310 pounds so it was OK.  I have seen one before on Jimmy Johnson, the previous coach of the Cowboys.  He was sitting in the seat behind me on a flight.  He's not a big guy and the ring was, to say the least, rather intrusive.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Video - Obama at the bat

An interesting interpretation of the old classic.  Probably not so if you're a liberal.  My thanks to Jim in Pasadena for this one. It takes about 4:30

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Right Track - Inequality

One of the advantages - or perhaps it's a disadvantage - of getting older is that one has heard most of the political arguments before: and some of them many times.  Our illustrious leader has just returned from his two-week vacation in Hawaii (paid for by us, of course!) with the glint of battle in his eyes.  This time it's "income inequality" no less.  Perhaps the irony of the situation has escaped him as I suspect fewer people today can afford a two-week Hawaiian vacation than when he first took office.  Also I believe the gap between rich and poor has actually increased on his watch.  Congratulations!  Well, I wish him luck with this particular conundrum as mankind has been struggling with the problem for most of its existence.  The older and perhaps more cynical of us know it to be just another political argument for soaking the rich and acquiring more taxes to spread around to people of the politicians' choice.  Ah me!