Sunday, April 29, 2012

Rebooting the American Dream

Rebooting the American Dream By Thom Hartman Book Review By Richard E. Noble Rebooting the American Dream is not only a criticism and analysis of the present state of our Union but the author’s roadmap back into prosperity. Many authors offer their criticisms but few are brave enough to follow up with solutions. Mr. Hartmann offers positive solutions to every problem. The reader may not agree totally with every solution but it is refreshing to see someone bold and daring enough to print out his answers. I think conservatives and liberals both should read this book. The liberals will be strengthened and reinforced in many of their opinions and the conservatives, though often offended, will find much to support if they are truly conservative and hold the success of their nation to heart. In this report the author covers considerable ground. I have decided not to get into a blow by blow of each of his suggestions. I would rather encourage readers to buy the book and read it for themselves. It is well written. It is intelligent. It is thoughtful and thought provoking. It is somewhat utopian. But I think that the utopian spirit has been lacking in America for several generations. In the sixties, I was reading many utopian tracts and was inspired to action. A spirit of utopian optimism is very much necessary in today tragic and contested environment. I will mention just a few things. The author strongly recommends a return to our manufacturing base, tariffs and incentives to domestic production and the creation of American jobs and even outright protectionism. It is good to hear somebody unafraid to say these type things. He also speaks out against corporate personhood. The idea that corporations should be blessed with personhood and rights is as outrageous as declaring humans non-human or 3/5 a human as was done initially in this country under slavery. In fact, you can still read about that notion by picking up a copy of the U.S. Constitution. It is still in there though amended in the pages that follow. This book is not confusing. It is easy to read. You won’t have to worry about correctly interpreting the author’s remarks. You will only have to decide if you agree or disagree. There is much to be learned in this work. I recommend it highly. And I will be ordering other of Mr. Hartman’s books. I think my next choice will be Unequal Protection, or his book on the degradation of the middle class. I feel that this author is sincere.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Bridges of Madison County

Bridges of Madison County

By Richard E. Noble

It seemed for a short period every woman in America was fantasizing over “The Bridges of Madison County.” I felt that any book that could stimulate the libido of the American female so drastically must, of necessity, reveal same penetrating insights. So I read the book.

It seems that a rather boring, unimaginative woman, who has lost contact with her loyal, faithful, dutiful husband, decides to have a fling with a traveling salesman while her poor husband is off to the 4-H Club fair with the kids.

So she bangs this traveling salesman (who is posing as a photographer for National Geographic – yeah, National Inquirer, most likely; or more than likely unemployed) upstairs, in the bed of her and her loyal, faithful husband while he and THEIR children are out of sight for ONE damn day.

Well, obviously being a woman of very, very low sexual enthusiasm and appetite, and IMAGINATION this one afternoon fling with some bozo walking by with a knapsack on his back satisfies her for the rest of her life. Not only does it satisfy her for the rest of her life, she fantasizes over the event, to such a neurotic extent that she even writes a letter to her children detailing the episode, for them to read after “she’s gone.”

In the letter she explains to her children (probably while the old man is sitting on the trunk in the attic next to his kids) that she banged this traveling salesman in the same bed where they were conceived, because their Daddy (the man who bought the bed and was paying the mortgage on the building where the bed was being violated), the same man who had taught them to whittle a stick, catch a ball and spit, was so boring and such a total drag in the bedroom that one hump with a strange hobo has made it possible for her to endure the rest of her entire life with their lump of a father.

They actually made a movie of this book starring Clint Eastward, and some female adulterous impersonator.

I can‘t believe it!

For myself, I’ll take Anna Karenina any day.
At least she gets run over by a damn bus!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Dancing Universe

The Dancing Universe
From Creation Myths to the Big Bang

By Marcelo Gleiser

Book Review

By Richard Edward Noble

Marcelo Gleiser is a scientist and a professor of Physics and astronomy at Dartmouth College. He also dabbles in theoretical Cosmology and speculative particle physics. He was born in Brazil and lives in New Hampshire.

He is a great writer and “translator” of the scientific class and their “jargon.”
Professor Gleiser begins this work with a brief review of some ancient myths concerning the origins of this Universe. He divides these myths into “Creation Myths” and “No-Creation Myths.”

The Creation Myths imply a beginning to the Universe and lead the reader into the notions of God, theology, religion, mysticism etc.

The No-Creation Myths are those that imply that the Universe always was and always will be in one shape, form or another – more Hindu or Buddhist or A-theistic than Judao-Christian.

He then gets into Philosophy and the ancient Greeks. This is a prime area of interest to me and I always enjoy refreshing my memory in this area.

This book is basically a synopsis of the evolution of what we call “science.”
We begin with the ancient myths, then proceed to the Greek and Roman philosophers as we explore the root thoughts on the possible answers as to how we have this universe around us. We explore all the early suggestions with professor Gleiser as our guide and interpreter.

I have decided to use this book as my workbook on improving my knowledge of the evolution of cosmological thought.

I have already started looking up each and every name brought forward by the professor and have been reading and researching more about each of them. The professor tells us briefly what each has to say and the value of their contribution.

But this subject interests me and I would like to know more.
I have now read and reviewed two books by Professor Gleiser A Tear at the Edge of Creation and this one. I have enjoyed both immensely.

The author deals with and discusses religious and theological thoughts and its influences on this subject but make no mistake, this is a “secular” work and in no way a defense of any religious point of view.

“How necessary is this separation between science and religion? Very. It serves as a protective device against subjectivism in the practice of science, insuring that it remains a common language in a very diverse community. The scientific discourse is, and should be, devoid of any theological content. Invoking religion to fill in the gaps of our scientific understanding today is, in my view, an anti-scientific attitude. If there are gaps in our knowledge (and there are plenty of them!) we should try to fill them with more science and not with theological speculation.”

He makes this distinction clear throughout the book.

The book and the Professor should stimulate any reader in deeper thoughts.

A few of my thoughts:
1) It is becoming more and more clear to me how science is so easily spun back into religion and mysticism. Cosmology, for example, is so very speculative and hypothetical that the door to Voo-doo is left wide open.
2) The science of light … it is a big problem but very interesting area for more research on my part.
3) Newton posited God and His invisible hand in the regulation of the Universe to solve his problem with motion and other discrepancies in his theory of gravity. God supposedly threw the initial stars and planets into the sky. Einstein has a similar problem trying to justify his theory’s shortcomings – the cosmological constant. And now we have Hubble’s Constant. All of which points out the hidden personal agenda of even the supposed objective scientists. Readers therefore must always be critical of whatever and whoever they are reading. Skepticism comes with the territory.
4) I feel even Professor Gleiser may have his own deity and Cosmological constant permeating his blanket acceptance of the Big Bang Theory. I still haven’t bought the idea.
5) Unlike Stephen Hawking who stated that Philosophy is dead, professor Gleiser gives due credit to Philosophy and blends the Philosophers into his story. A much more realistic and historically accurate point of view in my opinion.

The Dancing Universe (re: Ocillating Universe – expanding/contracting) is written for the non-scientist and I must repeat, the author does a wonderful job in this respect. Although much of science/math is above my head, this author is able to bring these lofty concepts and thoughts down to my level. He knows how to talk to the regular guy. He has a third book, The Prophet and the Astronomer – A Scientific Journey. It is on my list. This is a wonderful, wonderful book, for the science student and amateur, scientific explorer.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A Reporter's Life

Walter Cronkite

A Reporter's Life

Book Review

By Richard Edward Noble

That I am the first person to write a review on this book seems totally unimaginable to me. This is a book for every American, every journalist, every student, every historian or history buff. This is a book that should be read by any American who knows how to read. Walter not only tells us “the way it is,” but how it was and how it isn’t any longer. His commentary on the freedom of the press is, I would say, a modern, American equivalent of Milton’s Areopagitica. This is a very bright, insightful, proud professional, champion of ethical journalism speaking here.

Walter Cronkite was not famous for editorializing or commenting on the news during his long and notable career. He even admitted in an interview with Parade Magazine in 1980 after his retirement that his “lips were kind of buttoned for almost 20 years.” He had just had his special series cancelled for speaking out too “liberally” on U.S. foreign policy at that time.

He thought of himself as the front page and the editorial page he left to Edward R. Morrow, Eric Sevaride and others. He was a part of the “old” school. He dealt with the facts and verification. He was a hard working, competitive journalist. He prided himself on his professionalism and the moral and ethical aspects of journalist integrity.

In Walter Cronkite – a reporter’s life Walter takes us for the ride of a lifetime. We learn about his friends, his family, and his mom and dad. We learn of his early days peddling papers and the difficulties of adjusting to an alcoholic father. We see him as the average child of a middle income dentist. We follow his struggles and his squabbles as an underpaid, blue collar, print journalist until he becomes and “overnight” celebrity on the CBS Evening News. One day he is a struggling middle income wage laborer and the next day he is a big “rich guy” with an agent. And as we gawk out the windows of his tour bus we finally listen not only to his succinct descriptive phrases but his personal thoughts, ideas and commentary. At long last Walter finds the opportunity to get things off his chest.

It does seem to me that this is Walter Cronkite’s last hurrah. He pulls no punches; he tells it all. He expresses his views and opinions with very little room left for doubt. I imagine that there were a lot of folks left talking to themselves after reading this roundup of reporting by Mr. Cronkite.

Walter reported the News for the majority of my life. He was reporting during World War II. He was there on D-day and was riding along, sometimes behind a machine gun, on bombing missions over Nazi Germany. After the war he sat in at Nuremberg and gave us the story. Then he was off to Russia to inform us on how Uncle Joe was running things behind the Iron Curtain. He was on the scene in Korea and in the Vietnam War. He was at the Kennedy inauguration and at the assassination. He was there with us all during the McCarthy hearings, at Watergate and Iran Contra and then off to the moon. He even did the “Beatles.”

All through the book there is an emphasis on the ethics of proper journalism. Today nearly all news is commentary and editorializing with a minimum of reporting.
Walter was a reporter and proud of it. “And that is the way it is” was his famous TV sign-off. He was also given praise as the most trusted man in America.
He gave his reports as the anchorman on CBS Evening News for almost 20 years. He broke into television in 1962 and left in 1981 at the age of 65.

He comments frankly and without fear on Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush and Bush – even Barbara Walters. He makes his feelings known on everything from civil rights and integration to the Kennedy assassination, Oliver Stone and our involvement in Vietnam.

He joins a large and notable chorus when he states: “The evidence was clear, and is frequently forgotten today, that early on Kennedy was becoming disillusioned with the prospects of political reform in Saigon and disenchanted therefore with his own policy of support. And I have always believed that if he had lived, he would have withdrawn those advisers from Vietnam…”

Water tells all but after he says it all and wraps it all up he closes with this rather shocking finale.

“A Career can be called a success if one can look back and say: ‘I made a difference.’ I don’t feel I can do that. All of us in those early days of television felt, I’m sure, that we were establishing a set of standards that would be observed by, or at least have an influence on, generations of news professionals to come. How easily these (standards) were dismissed …”

Thursday, April 12, 2012


Just-hangin'-out-ma, was one word in the neighborhood where I was raised. It was the chant that our poor mothers heard for our every whereabouts or activity. We kids spent our whole growing up indulging in that one all encompassing activity – Just-hangin'-out-ma ... ain't doin' nothin', just hangin' out.

We had lots of buddies and lots of street corners and the street corners were never closed. And they were free!

I have no idea what we would have done if we didn't have those street corners and the ability to hang out on them.

I spent more growing up on a street corner than in a house. I met my best friends there. I received counseling there. Most of my memories hover about hangin' out somewhere.

I went to a reunion a few years ago. It wasn't a high school reunion, or a college reunion. It was a reunion of all the guys who hung out on the local street corners where I grew up. It was quite a group.

Some of the old gang are now hangin' out in places that I have yet to see. But if there are light poles and granite curbing out there, I'll know where to find them. And I am sure when I find them, they will be leaning up against the gates of nowhere, pitching pennies or playing Outs against the walls of eternity. And when I scream, "Hey, what the heck are you guys doing here?" There will be a chorus of ... Just hangin' out, Nobes! We're just … hangin' out!

We’re hangin’ out. There’s Jack, Jim, Dick, and Chuck.
There’s Grecsey and the Coze.
We’re hangin’ out.
We’re shootin’ a few hoops down at the schoolyard.
There’s Burnsey with the swisher.
The swisher that is never a misser but always a swisher.
And there’s B.J. with the steal.
We’re over Costy’s playin’ a little tag-rush.

We’re hangin’ out ma, just hangin’ out.

“Where ya goin’ son?”

“I’m goin’ out. Down the Corner. Just hangin’ out.”

We’re playin’ a little Forty-fives,
Or just tossin’ pennies up to the wall.
We’re listening to old Walter.
He’s down the Red Sox summer camp tryin’ out.
We got orange phosphate, sarsaparilla, lime rickey, all Curran and Joyce.
We got potato chips from the Granite State,
All wrapped in a silver bag.
We got sheet-paper candy, nigger babies,
And sweet rock on a string.

We’re hangin’ out ma, just hangin’ out.

We’re over Nell’s givin’ ‘em hell,
Sittin’ on their curb or up on their steps.
We’re bouncin’ a ball off Alma Meter’s wall.
We’re havin’ fun ... until the cops come.
Then it’s time for a little walk around the block.

We’re hangin’ out ma, just hangin’ out.

It’s winter time.
We’re hoppin’ cars.
We’re hangin’ in hallways.
We’re down the English Social settin’ up duck pins.
We’re at Liggett’s drinkin’ hot chocolate.
We got Walter talkin’ about World War II.
It’s snowin’ and blowin’ and we’re hopin’ he never gets through.
We’re down the Corner, we’re hangin’ out.

We’re just hangin’ out ma, just hangin’ out.

There’s a screech and a skid and a mashin’ of gears.
There goes a car slippin’ and slidin’ and kickin’ up dirt.
Old Walter is at the window throwin’ up his hands;

“That’s Dobson! He’ll be on a slab...
On a slab, I’ll tell ya. He’ll be on a slab.”

We’re hangin’ out ma, just hangin’ out.

We’re down on the Corner, we’re hangin’ out.
We’re up at the Howard Playstead.
We’re on the park bench.
Willie says that he needs just two more cents.
We’re spittin’ in the sewer.
We’re watchin’ the cars.
We’re layin’ up on the hill.
We’re lookin’ at the stars.
Hey, there goes Joe’s sister, Betty, in her new,
tight sweater.
Man oh man, life’s just gettin’ better and better.

We’re hangin’ out ma, just hangin’ out.
I’m goin’ up to the Corner ma, just gonna hang out.

We can listen to Russ.
He’s in love again.

“She’s the kind of girl who likes to darn socks.
She makes biscuits and cakes and homemade bread.
She has those eyes, the kind that make you want to cry.
And when she sighs, God, I nearly die.”

What’s her name Russ?
“Oh, I think it’s Sherry. No, no ... it’s Terry.
No, that’s not right.
It’s? Oh ya ... it’s Fay ... Fay Berry.”

We’re hangin’ out ma. We’re just hangin’ out.

We’re goin’ to the Corner.
We’re hangin’ out.
It’s Friday night and we’re goin’ to the dance.
We’re goin’ to Rock and Roll and look for romance.
We’re goin’ to give Central Catholic just one more chance.
We’re gonna be cool.
We’re gonna slick down the old D. A. with some Charles Antell.
It’s got lanolin, wow!

We’re hangin’ out ma, just hangin’ out.

Tonight we’re goin’ to get Togie to get us some brew.
He’s sixteen but looks twenty-two.
A quart of Black Label or a G.I.Q.
A couple of pizzas and a meat filled pie.
If Togie can’t do it, we’ll find old Billy.
We’ll go to Cronin’s and get Billy the Bum,
Or maybe one of his chums.
We’ll buy him a pint or maybe a quart.
We’ll promise not to tell, even if we get caught.

We’re hangin’ out ma, just hangin’ out.

It’s Sunday morning. It’s Mass at King Tut’s;
Vanilla Cokes and red pistachio fingers.
Dutch is readin’ over at the rack.
Grecs wants to go to church.
He wants to watch the girls.
He wants to oh and aw and dream of playin’ with their curls.
A nickel in the jukebox,
Listen to Fats and The Elvis sway and swing.
Or maybe somebody will play My Ding-a-ling.

We’re hangin’ out ma, just hangin’ out.

Hey, let’s take a little walk down to the Y.
We’ll play sidewalk tennis or shoot a little pool;
Maybe some checkers?
We’ll see Harry the Walker, General Mills, or John the Thinker.
Somebody will yell BOOM, and we’ll all be gone.

We’re hangin’ out ma, just hangin’ out.

We’re goin’ down to Kap’s; it’s Tuesday night.
We’ll stare at all the girls and get ‘em up tight.
Then maybe over to King Size, or Lawton’s by the Sea
For a dog or two on a grilled, buttered bun.
Then go for a walk or maybe back up to the Howard.

We’re hangin’ out ma, just hangin’ out.
We ain’t doin’ nothing; just sittin’ on the wall, hangin’ out.

Today it’s sunny; we might thumb to the beach.
Fried clams, onion rings, lamb on a stick;
A trip to the arcade; a walk on the beach.
We’ll go down to the Black Rocks and buy us a Foam.
Then before it gets dark we’ll thumb on back home.

We’re hangin’ out ma, just hangin’ out.
We’re up the Corner, just hangin’ out.

It don’t matter the time of the day.
There will always be someone goin’ up that way.
You can play if you want or just sit on the bench.
There’s never a hassle.
There’s always a joke.
There’s always someone to listen.
You may be right; you may be wrong.
But, nevertheless, you’ll always belong.
Sometimes you’ll find a new point of view.
Just something that Pete, Red, or Gerry might have said
With a grin or a smile.

It was a long, long time ... a long, long time
That we were all kids, just one of the guys.
Just hangin’ out, sittin’ up on the wall.

Just hangin’ out ma, just hangin’ out.

Sometimes we were just there.
Sometimes it was a ball.

Now I’m older and that’s all the past.
Often I wonder if it is my memory’s lapse,
Or did I really know any of those guys.
Were they really pals, buddies, friends?
Their memory gets fuzzy.
I tell myself that there is only today.
They never knew me and I never knew them.
They’re just a bunch of ghosts in my memory’s way.
But then when I’m huddled in one of those lonely
With all the dark shadows, hard knuckles and calloused hearts,
I hear a sigh, a creak, a crack, a cry,
And then there is a tear in my eye.
I see a laughing face, then feel a slap on my back.
It could be Tom or Dutch, Chuck or Jack.
And all of a sudden,
I’m up on the Corner. I’m on the wall.

I’m hangin’ out ma, just hangin’ out.

I’m on the Corner.
I’m in Costy’s yard.
I’m down at Nell’s,
Or in Michaud’s back seat.
I’m up Joe’s cellar;
Or behind the English Social, a little stickball,
Or down the beach.
I’m just standin’ on the Corner,
Or in the middle of Lawrence Street.

I’m hangin’ out ma.
I’m just hangin’ out with my friends, my buddies.
Up on the Corner,
Hangin’ out ma, just hangin’ out.

I’m on that old bench.
I’m with my old buddies.

I’m hangin’ out ma, just hangin’ out.
...I’m just hangin’ out.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Truman Era 1945-1952

By I. F. Stone

Book Review

By Richard E. Noble

I. F. Stone is not a big fan of Harry Truman or his Cold War Policy. He did not disparage the character of President Truman; he just didn’t think that Mr. Truman was all that bright, I would say.

F.D.R. felt that he could “work with Stalin.” Truman felt the exact opposite. Truman was a Democrat but far to the right of his predecessor. Truman was a “conservative” Democrat. He had no patience for Stalin or Communism. If F.D.R. had the correct approach to Stalin and communist Russia and China we will never know. We got what Truman and his advisors planned – a Cold War with the perpetuation of a huge military buildup for the duel purpose of promoting economic stability here at home and establishing a strong front against Russia and the spread of “communism” in Western Europe.

In the previous works that I have read of I. F. Stone, I would say that Mr. Stone “hides” his personal feelings and political leaning behind a wall of exhaustive investigative journalism. This book is slightly less so. It may be the time period (McCarthy, Cold War, and rabid outspoken anti-Russian, anti-communism and anti-socialism) but Stone lets his hair down in this volume of “A Nonconformist History of Our Times.”

The style is similar but the point of view seems to me more personal and philosophical. Mr. Stone even goes so far as to give us an insight into his understanding of God and his relationship to mankind in the last entry.

He has Dr. Einstein questioning and beseeching God with regards to his creation of a species (humankind) with the capacity to destroy itself. In this parable Mr. Stone reveals himself as a deist – one who believes that God created the world and then went elsewhere or onto other challenges. God claims in this debate that he could either make Man free with the capacity to destroy himself or turn man into a mechanical robot – programmed to conform.

The first problem with this argument is establishing that man is free and is possessive of free will. A second problem would be the morality of a God who could create such a choice. Stone argues that men are “rational” and being rational then are reserved the right to act “irrational.”

But even if one could “free” God from any moral responsibility in his creation of a potentially irrational, murderous, self-destructive humankind with such an argument, the establishment of all “evil” still goes unaccountable. Man does not constitute the whole of “evil” and man is not responsible for all the evil that exists – death, disease, pain, natural disasters etc. If man’s free will and rational nature gives him the capacity to act irrationally and in a self-destructive and immoral manner, God as man’s creator cannot simply walk away from his creation free of moral responsibility. As with Pontius Pilate of Biblical fame, he cannot wash his hands of mankind and go hide behind a cloud in the infinite universe and bask in his glory and self-righteousness. He must take his share of the responsibility in creating such a powerful creature and offering to it such a potential – like a parent handing a flamethrower to a two year old. Man is granted by this stretch of logic the potential to destroy or perpetuate evil and total destruction of humankind and God has created the circumstance and provided the choices. This possibility is in itself morally illogical and impossible.

I. F. Stone in his parable does not solve the problems of free will or the existence of evil but he does provide us with an insight into what makes I. F. Stone go.
Man is free to do the right thing or the wrong thing and Mr. Stone has dedicated his writing career to present rational facts to man in the hope that he can persuade rational men to make rational choices. Man by the nature of his “Godly gift” of free will can make choices to bring about a better world or destroy himself and the world he lives in.

I agree with the argument that some men have the ability to make rational or irrational choices that can make a better world for all or destroy the one we have, but my advice would be to not complicate the issue by bringing God, a god or “the gods” into the equation. When discussing rational vs. irrational this is the equivalent of “taking a bite of the snake that bit you.” Another shot of whisky does not cure the hangover.

On the political level he brings up and directs the spotlight on many popular figures – Allen and John Foster Dulles, Henry Wallace, Alger Hiss, Whittaker Chambers, Ed Sullivan, William Z. Foster, Chiang Kai-shek, Mao, Justice Douglass, and many others.

He delves into his views on socialism, communism, fascism and totalitarianism. This volume by Stone is not only a wealth of historical political information and insight; it also presents the man and his personal search and philosophy. I would say that this volume gives the reader more insight into I. F. Stone's personal political views than any of his other works that I have read thus far. It is the most outspoken, in my opinion.

In 1953 I. F. Stone moved on to his “Weekly” which he sold directly to his subscribers. This volume on The Truman Era may provide the insight for that decision. It is clear that he is, at this stage of his career, a critic and “advocate.” He now has opinions and answers – and his opinions and answers are not those of the ruling class or the popular majority. He is now unabashedly a radical and a nonconformist. His leftist, radical views, his opposition to war and Truman, the Cold War, his sympathies towards socialism and Russia and the pursuit of peace are now too leftwing for the right-leaning press and conservative America. If he wants to be read, he will have to sell to his own audience – and he does.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Scalia says there’s nothing unconstitutional about executing the innocent.: pAlmost two decades ago, Troy Anthony Davis was convicted of murder and sentenced to die. Since then, seven of the witnesses against him have recanted their testimony, and some have even implicated Sylvester “Redd” Coles, a witness who testified that Davis was the shooter. In light of the very real evidence that Davis could be innocent of [...]/p