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08 December 2016 @ 06:44 pm
When the boys come home from college for Christmas... that's when we get the good stuff.

08 December 2016 @ 03:59 pm
John Glenn died today.

He was one of the "Mercury Seven" group of military test pilots selected in 1959 by NASA to become America's first astronauts and fly the Project Mercury spacecraft. On February 20, 1962, Glenn flew the Friendship 7 mission and became the first American to orbit the Earth. Glenn received the Congressional Space Medal of Honor in 1978, and was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame in 1990. With the death of Scott Carpenter on October 10, 2013, Glenn became the last surviving member of the Mercury Seven.

Glenn resigned from NASA on January 16, 1964, and from the Marine Corps on January 1, 1965. He won election to the Senate in 1974 and served through January 3, 1999.

On October 29, 1998, while still a sitting senator, he became the oldest person to fly in space, and the only one to fly in both the Mercury and Space Shuttle programs, when at age 77, he flew as a Payload Specialist on Discovery mission STS-95. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012.

Here is John Glenn and his wife leaving the memorial for Neil Armstrong at the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., on September 13, 2012.

Senator John Glenn and wife - Neil Armstrong Memorial Service - 2012-09-13
08 December 2016 @ 03:28 pm
Take a swing... no, go on. Sit down. Room for two.

08 December 2016 @ 02:54 pm

December 6, 1877 – The first edition of The Washington Post is published.

The newspaper was founded in 1877 by Stilson Hutchins, a former Missouri state legislator who wanted to promote Democratic politics. It added a Sunday edition in 1880, becoming the first newspaper in the city to publish seven days a week.

In 1889, Hutchins sold the newspaper to Frank Hatton, a former Postmaster General, and Beriah Wilkins, a former Democratic congressman from Ohio. To promote the newspaper, the new owners sponsored an essay contest. For the awards ceremony, they commissioned John Philip Sousa to compose a march. Sousa composed The Washington Post, which remains one of Sousa's best-known works.

Wilkins acquired Hatton's share of the newspaper in 1894 after Hatton's death. After Wilkins' death in 1903, his sons ran the Post for two years before selling it in 1905 to John Roll McLean, owner of the Cincinnati Inquirer.

When McLean died in 1916, he bequeathed the newspaper to a trust. His son, the playboy Edward "Ned" McLean,broke the will and took control of the newspaper. But, just as his father had predicted, Ned ran the newspaper into the ground.

The newspaper went bankrupt in 1933 and was purchased at auction by Eugene Meyer, former Chairman of the Federal Reserve. Meyer radically improved the newspaper's reporting, sobering it up and moving away from yellow journalism. In 1946, Meyer was succeeded as publisher by his son-in-law, Philip Graham.

In 1954, Graham purchased the city's leading daily, the Washington Times-Herald. The Times-Herald was founded as the Washington Times in 1894 by Stilson Hutchins (yes, that guy). The Washington Herald was founded by former Washington Post managing editor Scott C. Bone in 1906. William Randolph Hearst bought the Times in 1917, and the Herald in 1922, and merged them. The Times-Herald was a money-loser, and in 1930 he permitted his millionaire socialite friend, Cissy Patterson (cousin of Chicago Tribune publisher Robert McCormick and younger sister of Chicago Daily news publisher Joseph Medill Patterson) to edit the papers. She turned them to hard-core local reporting, lots of photos, and constant contests. She leased them from Hearst in 1937 and bought them outright from him in 1939 -- beating out Meyer and Graham. Patterson was known for her front-page editorials, right-wing conservatism, isolationism, and lurid writing style. She died suddenly in 1948.

Like McLean, Patterson tried to leave her newspaper to a trust, but her daughter broke the will and sold it to the Post in 1954.

Washington at one time had as many as 12 morning and afternoon newspapers. But nearly all of them lost money. By 1955, there were just three: The Post (morning), the Daily News (morning), and the Star (evening). The Daily News and Star merged in 1972, and remained an afternoon newspaper. The Star folded in 1982.

Unification Church leader Sun Myung Moon established a new, ultra-conservative Washington Times in 1982. Its circulation is one-seventh the size of the Post's, and has been a money-loser its entire life. Two former Hearst editors formed the ultra-conservative Washington Examiner in 2005, but it folded in 2013.

Phil Graham committed suicide in 1963, and control of the Post passed to his wife, Katharine Graham. A complete novice, Graham hired superb editors and reporters and pushed for investigative journalism to try to shed the newspaper's reputation as a Democratic shill.

The Washington Post made its national reputation in 1971 by publishing the Pentagon Papers (a top-secret history of the Vietnam War), and in 1972 by revealing the Watergate scandal (an attempt by Richard Nixon to undermine American democracy).

Donald E. Graham succeeded his mother as publisher in 1979. He was succeeded in 2000 by Boisfeuillet Jones, Jr., who began pushing the newspaper toward a more conservative tone. Jones was replaced by Katharine Graham Weymouth (Donald Graham's daughter) in 2008.

In 2014, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos purchased the newspaper for $250 million in cash. The newspaper has since taken to running ads on the front page, and occasionally using alt-right and conspiracy-theory web sites as sources.
08 December 2016 @ 01:14 pm
If Santa says it's OK to smoke, it must be!!!

08 December 2016 @ 12:23 pm
One of the best books on the War in the Pacific. John Toland was an author whose love of dirigibles as a child led to his first history book, Ships in the Sky: The Story of the Great Dirigibles (1957). As many historians did, Toland wrote extensively about World War II in the 1950s and 1960s, producing three major works in four years.

Toland enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II, and was stationed in Japan after the war. He met Toshiko Matsumura, an English-speaking native japanese who was a correspondent for McGraw-Hill World News. They married in 1960.

Toland used his wife's connections and her translating ability to conduct hundreds of interviews with Japanese diplomats, generals, admirals, common sailors and soldiers, industrialists, and members of the Imperial Family.

His 1970 book, The Rising Sun: The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire, 1936-1945 won him the Pulitzer Prize. The book chronicles the Empire of Japan from the near-successful military coup of February 1936 to the end of World War II.

Never before had the Japanese view of World War II been told. Critics called Toland's work "a compelling portrait of Japan at the brink of national suicide."

Although some aspects of Toland's work have now been superceded by new scholarship, it still remains the masterwork about the War in the Pacific 45 years after its publication.
08 December 2016 @ 10:57 am

WOW! Patrick Phillips-Schrock has a new book out!!!

I'm a sucker for White House architectural and interior design history, and have written a bunch of articles about it.

Phillips-Schrock is a professor of French and history at Des Moines Area Community College. Like me, he's mega-fascinated by White House interior design, and has written several books on the subject.

Now comes his latest: The Nixon White House Redecoration and Acquisition Program: An Illustrated History (2016).

I gotta get to my library!!!!!!!!!!!

I own his previous book. It's superb. It contains more detail on architectural changes at the White House, and the contents of each room, than I've found in five of the "official" histories put out by the White House Historical Association.

Only James Abbott and Elaine Rice's Designing Camelot: The Kennedy White House Restoration comes close, and at times even that doesn't.

08 December 2016 @ 07:26 am
A truly stunning 20 year old.

04 December 2016 @ 11:18 am

I refuse to post these to the front page of Wikipedia any more. But I will post them here. The article I wrote or assisted with is in bold.

Did You Know ... that Irwin H. "Ike" Hoover served in the White House for 42 years and as Chief Usher for 29 years -- and that both records remain unbroken as of 2016?
04 December 2016 @ 09:43 am
Charles M. Russell is probably the best but least-known of the great Western American artists. Completely self-taught, he spent most of his life in Great Falls, Montana (my home town), where he worked in a log cabin studio that once served as his first home in the city. Russell was born in St. Louis in 1864, and at the age of 16 left home for the cowboy life in Montana. He spent the next seven years in the Judith Basin, working as a cowpoke and learning to draw and paint. He spent most of 1888 living with the Piegan Blackfeet, then returned to the cowboy life in the Judith Basin. But Montana was being rapidly settled, and the frontier life which Russell loved so much was ending. In 1892, he gave up roughriding, and moved permanently to Great Falls to become a full-time artist. He died there in 1926.

Russell produced about 4,000 works during his lifetime. Russell was primarily a painter and sketcher who worked in oil, watercolor, pencil, and charcoal. Russell also sculpted in wax, clay, and plaster, and about 150 of these works were cast in bronze. The vast majority of Russell's works are minor efforts: Sketches, drafts, handcrafted dinner menus, postcards, illustrated letters, hand-colored Christmas cards, small keepsakes for friends, and the like. Of his major works, about 90 were held by The Mint and the Silver Dollar Saloon, bars in Great Falls where Russell traded works of art for drinks. These were sold to the Amon Carter Museum in Houston in 1942. Airline executive C.R. Smith and oil company executive Charles S. Jones collected about 45 bronzes each. Smith's bronzes eventually went to the Amon Carter Museum, while Jones' went to the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma. Thomas Gilcrease owned 46 paintings and 27 bronzes, which went to the Gilcrease Museum in Oklahoma. About 60 works, mostly paintings, watercolors, drawings, and ephemera (as well as a few bronzes) are owned by the Montana Historical Society in Helena, Montana. Cleveland banker and sports team owner George Gund purchased 16 works, which were permanently loaned to the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art in Indianapolis. Slightly more than 150 oil paintings, watercolors, illustrated letters, postcards, and ephemera -- most of which did not depict Old West images -- were retained by Russell's close friend, Josephine Trigg, and form the core of the C.M. Russell Museum in Great Falls.

A large number of Russell's works, however, remain in private hands and circulate fairly freely.

Thirty Russell works were sold in July 2014 in one of the largest Russell auctions held in decades.

Trail of the Iron Horse sold for $1.9 million. This 17.5 by 27.5-inch watercolor on paper depicts a group of Native Americans on horseback contemplating railroad tracks.

Dakota Chief sold for $1.1 million. This 12 by 18-inch oil on board depicts a young Lakota chieftain on horseback.