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Posts Tagged ‘Wall Street Journal’

My grandfather lived in Ripley County, Missouri and was a farmer, Baptist preacher, and fox hunter.  As a child I remember he smoked a pipe often and he had an ever present cough.  To treat the cough he medicinaly applied a bit of whiskey each evening.  One of his hunting buddies would take his canning jar and glass lid to a blind tiger known to those who needed to know.

It was a stump on property owned by a “big city lumber company.”  The stump faced an open, sometimes cultivated field and dusty road.  To the back was thick brush and trees leading into swampy bottomland.

Sometime in the afternoon you put your money on the stump with the jar on top.  You came back early the next morning and picked up your filled jar, leaving by a route different than the one coming in.  It was not considered neighborly to create a path.

Stories about Prohibition and moonshine are fun to tell, but the truth is grim and dark.  Accustomed to the movie and television versions, Daniel Okrent’s Last Call: The Rise And Fall Of Prohibition will remake your history of the period.

Okrent writes in the Epilogue, “In almost every respect imaginable, Prohibition was a failure.  It encouraged criminality and institutionalized hypocrisy.  It deprived the government of revenue, stripped the gears of the political system, and imposed profound limitations on individual rights.  It fostered a culture of bribery, blackmail, and official corruption.  It also maimed and murdered, its excesses apparent in deaths by poison, by the brutality of ill-trained, improperly supervised enforcement officers, and by unfortunate proximity to mob gun battles.”

The author begins with the reform movements that built into the temperance movement, and covers the religious and political maneuvers that finally led to the enactment of the Eighteenth Amendment and the Volstead Act.  He covers the metastasised evil of it all that met its end with the Twenty-First Amendment.  It’s a lot to cover which he does with great skill.

The myth of mobster/bootlegger lives on.  In today’s Wall Street Journal, July 20, 2010, there is a story by David Kesmodel about the bickering extended family of Al Capone and of a strange person who dresses like Al Capone and claims to be a grandson.  The extended family wants nothing to do with him or his request to exhume Al Capone’s body for DNA tests.

One myth the author deflates is that of Joe Kennedy, bootlegger and mob associate.  Those pages, 366 to 371, are Kennedy gold.

You’ll be glad you read the book.  Charles Marlin

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The Weekend Journal section of the Wall Street Journal on June 5-6, 2010, ran a dueling set of articles Does the Internet Make You Smarter or Dumber?  They were no better than you would expect and I mention them only because a small boxed insert reported from Nielson that 56 seconds is the average time an American spends looking at a web page.

That is a shocker.  I sat down to inspect Clarion Friends on a pass/fail response to the 56 seconds rule.  John’s flowers, most of my book reviews, the Met And Eat Clarion County, the deviled egg competition, and Rare Gifts series all easily passed under 56 seconds.  Even our Pages with the exception of Donations passed.  Since no one seems to want to use the Donations page, it may go in the NA column.  The recipes failed to pass.

The part that hurts is that on occasion I try to write something important to Clarion County Community Foundation and to other small community foundations.  I may not use a lot of words but the thoughts are not superficial.  They could mean a great deal to the reader if given some time to breathe.  Those posts should not be forced to pass.

To solve this problem I am thinking of creating an on-line coupon attached to each post that calls for more than 56 seconds.  The coupon will entitle you to make a donation of $100. or less on the Donation page.  The coupons would have a two day expiration so the reader would need to act quickly.

If a reader has a better idea, please add a Comment, but remember to keep it brief.  Seconds count.  Charles Marlin

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I did not realize that Snowdrops were so popular, particularly to a number of obsessed gardeners who search for new varieties that have crossed in the wild.   Anne Marie Chaker’s March 18, 2010 article, Seriously Obsessed With Snowdrops in The Wall Street Journal, tells all. 

The previous owner of my house allowed the back yard to be natural and planted Snowdrops here and there among the trees.  I’ve been here 20 years and each spring the brave souls greet me once the snow melts with bigger and bigger clumps of beautiful white blooms.

I only have one variety blooming but now I’ll be on the look out for other colors and flower shapes and perhaps become obsessed with Snowdrops myself.

John Hink

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Jeffrey Zaslow of the Wall Street Journal in the January 6th paper wrote about the harmful effects of gossip.  Many people feel gossip  is the bread and butter of the WJS but let’s not lose our focus.  Everyone knows the harmful effects occur in every context from family to school yard to workplace to politics.  Gossip poisons the system.  Gossip poisons the victims and those who keep it going.  Remember the war slogan, “Loose lips might sink ships.”

There is a clear relationship between gossip and charity.  Charity is too difficult to fully describe but we know that it is personal and private.  Like being in love, it is sometimes easy and sometimes impossible not to hate.  We can be mean for the visceral joy of it.  When we have been mean we know, if we were forced to admit it, that it is not good for us now or in the future.  Being mean sours and shortens life.

The solution is not in trying to be a better person, really no one wants that kind of radical change.  What we want is a good version of ourselves.  Our clothes will still fit.  The dry martini will still be a wonder of civilization.  You can still be assertively successful or whatever you want to be.  A good version of you is all your mother ever asked for.

You get there by duplicating the process of kidney dialysis.  You apply the three filters ascribed against hateful gossip:  Is it kind?  Is it true?  Is it necessary?  You work those three filters into your thinking long enough to begin to feel a change.  When you have lowered the level of salts and impurities in your system you will feel better about yourself, and feeling better about yourself is a positive prescription for being charitable.

Being charitable is putting tone and buff back in your life.  Being charitable feels great.  Your charity effort and bucks are always a bargain buy.  Your stock picks should be so good.  Charles Marlin

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It is unexpected and arresting to find something delightful in The Wall Street Journal, unless you take their Opinion section for the Comics section of a real world newspaper.  Yet, there it was in the Personal Journal section of the Thursday, October 16, 2008 paper.  Beth DeCarbo writes “Pop Art Pooch: Turning Photos Of Pets Into Digital ‘Paintings,'” comparing four online services that turn a photo image of your favorite pet or husband into something that looks like art.  It is clearly a fun project that will keep giving pleasure for a lifetime.  And the prices were not bad, in fact modest.  Charles Marlin

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