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It's a Machine About Nothing.

Fri, 02 Dec 2016 21:51:56 -0800

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Popular Mechanics wrote in 1954,

“We all know someone who works harder doing nothing than most of us work doing something, but we can’t possibly know anything that works harder at nothing that a machine built by a California hobbyist. The machine has over 700 working parts that rotate, twist, oscillate and reciprocate — all for no purpose except movement.”

Ye Olde Web 1.0 Page Sayeth:Lawrence Wahlstrom and the Do Nothing machine




Kicking Off the Christmas Season! “It’s The Most Wonderful Time in 8 Years”

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 18:37:41 -0800

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Here's the lyrics just in case you want to add this to your caroling around the neighborhood.

It's the most wonderful time in 8 years
Yet some kids are protesting
while Trump fans investing their time with good cheer
Sing It's the most wonderful time in 8 years

It's the hap-happiest voting season of all
With each staff member Trump picks, Democrats up to their old tricks …Just trashing them all
but It's the hap- happiest election season of all

There’ll be one party hosting All three branches toasting
but how low now will the press go
There'll spin misguided stories Trying to steal Trump’s glory
from a playbook written, long long ago

It's the most wonderful time in 8 years
There'll be much more enjoyment a lot less unemployment
Cuz Trump will be near
It's the most wonderful time in 8 years (go up)

Hillary’s party’s not hosting they’re no longer toasting,
Beyonce, Kanye, Cop Killers, Racists and the Muslim Brotherhood
They ignored true stories of Hillary who wasn’t sorry
for her crimes now and long ago

Now It's the most wonderful time in 8 Years
We’ll deport all the criminals, Taxes will be minimal
Bad trade deals disappear
It's the most wonderful time
yes the most wonderful time
Oh the most wonderful time… in 8 years!




Mountains and Rivers Without End: The Zen Poet of Kitkitdizze

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 09:55:20 -0800

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"Gary Snyder, the Zen poet, lives on a hundred backcountry acres in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, meditates mornings, and thanks his food before he eats it, clapping his hands together and saying “Itadakimasu,” which is Japanese for “Thank you very much.”

He likes a boilermaker at dinnertime (a shot of bourbon and a tall glass of beer) and, on occasion, the bullfrogs from his pond. “I follow the ‘Joy of Cooking,’ “ he says. “You’ve got to skin them and brine them overnight. She recommends rolling them in bread crumbs and frying them.” He finds that vulture feathers make the best pens for calligraphy, and collects them when he hikes. Some nights, he takes a blanket and a thermos of sake and a star map, walks along a gravel riverbed not far from his house to a spot among the mounded diggings left by the gold-mining ventures of the past two centuries, and, by the light of a red torch, works on the constellations....."
“Throughout human history and prehistory, the trail was only to get you somewhere,” he said. “What was important was what was off the trail. Food, roots, berries, dye plants, glue plants, poisonous plants, recreational-drug plants, squirrel nests, bird nests, everything you might think you’d need. What’s way off the trail are the places you go to be alone and have a vision and your own spiritual trip, maybe with some of those recreational plants”—knowing snickers from the kids—“and then you come back.” -- Zen Master - The New Yorker

Excerpts from Myths & Texts - Gary Snyder

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Gary Snyder's bio, poems, and articles at the Poetry Foundation

Paris Review Interview - Gary Snyder, The Art of Poetry No. 74




Something Wonderful: PROPER OPOSSUM MASSAGE

Wed, 30 Nov 2016 18:46:47 -0800

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Up to November 8 it was a very stressful year. Now it's time to go and get your opossums de-stressed.




John Muir's Commentary on his First Ascent of Mt. Ritter

Wed, 30 Nov 2016 12:01:44 -0800

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"At length, I found myself at the foot of a sheer drop in the bed of the avalanche channel, which seemed to bar all further progress. The tried dangers beneath seemed even greater than that of the cliff in front; therefore, after scanning its face again and again, I commenced to scale it, picking my holds with intense caution.

"After gaining a point about half-way to the top, I was brought to a dead stop, with arms outspread, clinging close to the face of the rock, unable to move hand or foot either up or down. My doom appeared fixed. I must fall. There would be a moment of bewilderment, and then a lifeless tumble down the once general precipice to the glacier below.

"When this final danger flashed in upon me, I became nerve-shaken for the first time since setting foot on the mountain, and my mind seemed to fill with a stifling smoke. But the terrible eclipse lasted only a moment, when life burst forth again with preternatural clearness.

"I seemed suddenly to become possessed of a new sense. The other self -- the ghost of by-gone experiences, instinct, or Guardian Angel -- call it what you will -- came forward and assumed control. Then my trembling muscles became firm again, every rift and flaw was seen as through a microscope, and my limbs moved with a positiveness and precision with which I seemed to have nothing at all to do."




My Mother at 97 98 99 ... and now 100 101 102

Wed, 30 Nov 2016 01:59:34 -0800

Her earliest memory is being held on the shoulders of her father, watching the men who lived through the First World War parade down the main street of Fargo, North Dakota in 1918. She would have been just four years old then. Now she's 90 years old and she comes to her birthday party wearing a chic black and white silk dress, shiny black shoes with three inch heels, and a six foot long purple boa. She's threatening to sing Kurt Weill's 'The Saga of Jenny" and dance on the table one more time . She'll sing the Kurt Weill song, but we draw the line at her dancing on the table this year. Other than that, it is pretty much her night, and she gets to call the shots. Which is what you get when you reach 90 97 and are still managing to make it out to the tennis courts three to four times a week. "If it wasn't for my knees I'd still have a good backcourt game, but now I pretty much like to play up at the net." [Note: Alas she had to give up tennis two years back when her knees finally gave up. She didn't. Water walking twice a week. She gave all a scare a couple of years ago but came roaring back after major surgery and is more or less back to the regular schedule.] She plays Bridge once or twice a week, winning often, and has been known to have a cocktail or two on occasion. After her operation she gave up driving much to the relief of my brother who fretted over it for several decades. She keeps a small two-bedroom apartment in a complex favored by young families and college students from Chico State and, invariably, has a host of fans during any given semester. She's thought about moving to the "senior apartments" out by the mall, but as she says, "I'm just not sure I could downsize that much and everyone there is so old." She was born deep in the heartland at the beginning of the Great War, the youngest of five children. She grew up and into the Roaring 20s, through the Great Depression, taught school at a one room school house at Lake of the Woods Minnesota, roamed west out to California in the Second World War and met the man she married. They stayed married until he died some 30 years ago. Together they raised three boys, and none of them came to any more grief than most and a lot more happiness than many. After her husband died at the end of a protracted illness, she was never really interested in another man and filled her life with family, close friends (some stretching back to childhood), and was, for 15 years, a housemother to college girls. She recently retired from her day job where she worked three mornings a week as a teacher and companion to young children at a local day-care and elementary school. She has always been a small and lovely woman -- some would say beautiful. I know I would. An Episcopalian, she's been known to go to church, but isn't devoted to the practice, missing more Sundays than she attends. She's given to finding the best in people and letting the rest pass, but has been known to let fools pass at high speed. Born towards the beginning of the 20th century, she now lives fully in the 21st. Nearly 10 years ago we gave her a 90th birthday party. It was attended by over 200 people from 2 to 97, many of whom told tales about her, some taller than others. We didn't believe the man who told about the time in her early seventies that she danced on his bar. He brought the pictures of the bar with her high-heel marks in it to prove the point. Other stories are told, some serious, some funny, all loving. But they all can only go back so far since she has only been living in Chico, California for 30 years. I can go back further, and so, without planning to, I took my turn and told my story about her. It went something like this. "Because I'm the oldest son, I can go back further in time. I can go back before Clinton, before Reagan, before Nixon, before Kennedy, before Eisenhower. We'll go back to the time of Truman. "It must be the summer of [...]



NBC Caught Lying About Chevrolet Trucks Exploding: Fake News? Here's some from NBC back in 1992.

Tue, 29 Nov 2016 12:05:23 -0800

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"We acknowledge that the placing of the incendiary devices under the truck was a bad idea from start to finish."




Tabland

Tue, 29 Nov 2016 12:02:15 -0800

width="640" height="360" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/S1p6fmPzoJk" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen> "You gotta keep up with the times." It would seem that large parts of the future have been postponed.... Everyone’s Cuba Curious | Primordial Slack It’s been around 20 years since I left, weeping bitterly that I had to, so hard had I fallen in love with Cuba. The land is so fertile that the fence posts bloom, but there was no food to eat. The despair is as thick as the wafting smoke from their marijuana, and drowned in their rum. Robot dolphins, turtles and shellfish used as underwater spies in the deep blue sea - Each radio-controlled swimming model is fitted with HD cameras to capture unique footage of the unsuspecting marine mammals. In 1918, California Drafted Children Into a War On Squirrels | There were over 100,000 casualties. Scientists have found the world's largest cluster of sinkholes, and it spans 4 counties - ScienceAlert To give you an idea of how big they were, the biggest sinkhole is deeper than the Eiffel Tower is tall, and its diameter is wider than the height of the Empire State Building. The Devil’s Tower: US’ Mysterious Sightseeing Spot | Unusual Places Conclusion – Sexuality and Gender - The New AtlantisSome of the most widely held views about sexual orientation, such as the “born that way” hypothesis, simply are not supported by science. Portland 'Adulting' School Teaches Millennials How to Be Functional Grownups | Oddity Central - Collecting Oddities “Credit card stuff, which I didn’t think I would have at this age,” a 29-year-old “student” said. “And I really don’t have the skill set, how to pay for our rent, and our food, on top of paying off that debt.” Opera Boeuf |The star draw is the 72-ounce steak challenge: a diner (several volunteer each night, I’m told) sits on an elevated platform—to an opera singer, a stage—under a large digital clock that begins to tick when his four-and-a-half pound steak and accompanying dishes are presented to him. He (almost always a he, I gather) commences eating, and if he finishes eating the steak—and importantly, all the side dishes—in under 60 minutes, his meal is free of charge; otherwise, he pays $72. Plus tax and tip. [We've been there too. As I note in one of the earliest posts on American Digest from June, 2003. The Cowgirl and the Four Pound Steak @ AMERICAN DIGEST] [...]




Mon, 28 Nov 2016 19:48:56 -0800

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On Advent: "We Are All Lying in the Mud, But Some of Us Are Looking at the Stars"

Sun, 27 Nov 2016 01:50:26 -0800

The caption at NASA's "Astronomy Picture of the Day" page reads: "Atlantis to Orbit." The filename of the picture reads: nightlaunch. And I am moved by the poetry of this most modern of images, not by the triumph of Reason which it seems to enshrine, but by that which is beyond Reason yet within this nightlaunch all the same. In thinking about this brief essay I could not help but think of a longer one by Doctor Bob at The Doctor Is In about a "civilized" European nation that cannot stop itself from taking the next step down into the pit; its people driven, as "reasonable" people always are, by the inexorable demands of "what is reasonable." In the work of Goya we see how that great soul, having walked the carnage cloaked landscapes of his era, came to understand the deepest cry of the Enlightenment: El sueño de la razon produce monstruos. ["The sleep of reason breeds monsters."] Ah well, the bones of the Enlightenment lie buried in a shallow grave somewhere along the Western Front. It had some nice ideals, but left us living rapt in the spell of Reason. And now we are a "reasonable" society. Now we are a "scientific people" swaddled in a million theories of management -- convinced that all of creation can be, somehow, managed through the limitless employment of Reason. Many of us, as we have seen in the past month, worship "intelligence uber alles," that strange and deadly viral god of the mad mind that kills the soul long before it kills the nations that embrace it. We see the apotheosis of this worship leap up from the dazed lands of Europe. We see it arc across our own skies. We feel the sting of its acid rain on our upturned, stunned faces. Reason. Its gifts are many. It enables us to raise "Atlantis to Orbit." The poetry of that is only exceeded by the reality of it; by all that lies behind the sheer raw ability of the smart monkey to organize itself to achieve it -- the mathematics and the metallurgy, the pulses in the silicon chips that hold and control the fire that slices up and beyond the sky. And the systems and wires and waves that bring these thoughts from my fingertips to your eyes now. All these, and whole Alps of others, are the gifts of Reason. But there are darker gifts of Reason; gifts revealed by the languor with which a whole people fall "half in love with easeful death." Why? Why abort this child? Because it is reasonable. Why kill this old and feeble person? Because it is reasonable. Why take from them according to ability and give to others according to need? Always because it is "reasonable." Reason commands it and Reason has, in this modern era, become a vengeful and a jealous god. If it is true that the sleep of reason breeds monsters, can it not also be true that the constant wakefulness of Reason breeds its own peculiar hallucinations; its walking horrors? We depend on Reason when we flip a switch, step on a brake, or seat ourselves in pressurized thin metal tubes that hover 40,000 feet above the earth and move at 500 miles an hour. This power would seem to argue that Reason should be trusted in all things, that the intelligence that runs up and down the synapses of our brains in an endless flickering web of electo-chemical space-time events is the ultimate arbiter, the final judge, the self-obsessed lodestone of our lives. And yet... and yet... And yet, hovering outside of Reason, we still somehow sense Immanence; we sense there is something more going on here, something vaster unfolding all about us, no matter how sternly Reason rules. We sense Immanence, no matter how many times we are told the opposite; we sense that myth, legend, soul, magic, miracle and mystery still hold us, and that The palm at the end of the mind, Beyond the last thought, rises In the bronze decor, And that, The palm stands on the edge[...]



BLACK FRIDAY ZOMBIES 2016

Fri, 25 Nov 2016 12:24:03 -0800

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Black Friday Zombie shoppers lined up by the hundreds at Best Buy, Target, Walmart, and other Box Box retailers. Have a look at these parasitic consumers who can't wait to buy more flatscreen televisions, tablets, and toasters, while they go deeper into credit card debt. Media analyst Mark Dice has the story




The Gift Outright "(The deed of gift was many deeds of war)"

Thu, 24 Nov 2016 10:19:57 -0800

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The Gift Outright
by Robert Frost

The land was ours before we were the land's.
She was our land more than a hundred years
Before we were her people. She was ours
In Massachusetts, in Virginia,
But we were England's, still colonials,
Possessing what we still were unpossessed by,
Possessed by what we now no more possessed.
Something we were withholding made us weak
Until we found out that it was ourselves
We were withholding from our land of living,
And forthwith found salvation in surrender.
Such as we were we gave ourselves outright
(The deed of gift was many deeds of war)
To the land vaguely realizing westward,
But still unstoried, artless, unenhanced,
Such as she was, such as she would become.

-- Delivered at the Kennedy Inauguration




Thanksgiving’s First Rifle: The Mayflower Wheel-lock Carbine

Thu, 24 Nov 2016 02:29:04 -0800

Story by: Kristin Alberts What’s even more American than turkey, cranberries and pumpkin pie these days? An Italian gun, that’s what. The only known surviving firearm that crossed the wild Atlantic aboard the good ship Mayflower, settled with the pilgrims at Plymouth Colony and ultimately helped the first colonists not only survive, but prosper. Meet the Mayflower Gun. The Gun Affectionately dubbed the Mayflower Gun and thought of as an American icon, the gun is actually an Italian-made wheel-lock carbine. This single-shot musket was originally chambered in .50 caliber rifle, though ages of heavy use have worn away the majority of the rifling. Given the combination of natural wear, repairs and modifications, if the gun were to be loaded and fired today, it would require a .66 caliber. According to curators at the NRA’s National Firearms Museum—where the gun has found a most comfortable home—markings recorded on both the barrel and lockplate demonstrate a connection with the Beretta family of armorers. One of the features making this musket instantly recognizable is its namesake. The surviving detail of the actual wheel-lock device—the rotating mechanism, which provides spark and ignition, not unlike that of our modern day cigarette lighters—is a thing of fine craftsmanship and beauty. The wheel-lock’s engineering, execution and efficacy far exceed those of its predecessor, the matchlock. The man: John Alden Without the adventuresome spirit of one young man with an eye for quality arms, the Mayflower Gun would not be a part of our American history today. Enter, John Alden. Alden was around 20 to 21 years of age at the ship’s departure. However, his original intent was never really to set sail. John AldenHe was simply hired as a ships cooper—a barrel maker by trade—at the yard where ships docked. But being a young man with much hope and courage, he decided to board the Mayflower for its daunting passage. Sometime near debarkation, it is speculated that Alden purchased the firearm used, perhaps from a traveler or mercenary as was common in those days. Of the guns widely available at that time, this was one of the finest and most expensive, so certainly young Alden was wise beyond his years. Following an arduous three-month winter passage at sea, battered by the north Atlantic’s gales, the Mayflower reached its destination in 1620. History recognizes John Alden as the first man to step ashore, and when Alden’s feet hit terra firma, this gun was most likely his sole means of protection. Though the early years at the new settlement were marked with many tribulations, Alden prospered. Along with the other men who made the passage, he was one of the signatories of the Mayflower Compact, documenting the freedoms and liberties of the new colony. Among his many ventures, Alden is remembered for his service under Capt. Miles Standish, with whom he is rumored to rivaled over the courtship of the woman who eventually became Alden’s wife. Part of this story is recounted in Longfellow’s poem “The Courtship of Miles Standish.” Between the years 1633 to 1675, Alden served not only as assistant governor of the Plymouth Colony, but often, due to absence, fulfilled governor duties. He was known to have served on many juries including participation in at least one witch trial. Through all this time, including a move inland and away from the original colony, the Mayflower Gun remained in Alden’s possession. At the time of his death in 1687, the gun began its long succession of Alden family ownership. The History The Alden family dwelling, like the gun, has survived for nearly 400 years. The Mayflower gun was discovered—still loaded, nonetheless—in a secret protective cu[...]



"MADAME PRESIDENT" The Iconic Front Page the New York Times Had to Toss in the Crapper

Wed, 23 Nov 2016 14:00:32 -0800

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And so, in the heart of The Times’s newsroom, long before the exit polls hinted at an upset — and hours before the news media confirmed Mr. Trump’s earthshaking win — Tom Bodkin, The Times’s design director, quietly looked over one such draft.

“MADAM PRESIDENT,” the would-be headline read.

-- Front Page That Wasn’t to Be - The New York Times




Hymns of the Morning: Shenandoah -- "The provenance of the song is unclear"

Wed, 23 Nov 2016 12:31:37 -0800

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Arlo Guthrie Featuring paintings by Albert Bierstadt, George Catlin, Frederick Remington, Howard Terpning, and visual arts by Spadecaller.

There are no "official" or traditional hymns of praise for Thanksgiving. This one, however, will do and do nicely.

"The lyrics tell the story of a roving trader in love with the daughter of an Indian chief; in this interpretation, the rover tells the chief of his intent to take the girl with him far to the west, across the Missouri River. Other interpretations tell of a pioneer's nostalgia for the Shenandoah River Valley in Virginia, or of a Confederate soldier in the American Civil War, dreaming of his country home in Virginia. The provenance of the song is unclear."