Jennifer in January, Reagan Charles Cook
I'm a graduate student and creative consultant in Los Angeles. My academic research focuses on international affairs, social psychology and human behaviour. I am also interested in technology, politics, economics, security studies, foreign policy, literature, film, fine art, mathematics, physics, biology, history, design, professional sports, astronomy, agriculture, linguistics and education.
Jennifer in January, Reagan Charles Cook
In 1906, Theodore Roosevelt was the first sitting president to travel internationally when he visited Panama. The first six presidents to travel went by ship, including President Woodrow Wilson on his seven month tour of Europe following of Word War One. The first trip on an airplane was by Franklin D. Roosevelt for a war conference in Morocco.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower was the first to travel by jet and the first to travel via helicopter. Richard Nixon was a prolific traveller and set a number of firsts, including his historic weeklong visit to China.
International travel has increased dramatically since the military version of the Boeing 747 was introduced for the use of the president in 1990. The planes have over 4,000 square feet (372 m2) of floor space, a bedroom and a shower, and enough secure communications to allow the plane to be a reasonable place to run the country. The plane is accompanied by a heavy lift aircraft that carries the helicopters and the limousines.
Population distribution of the United States in Units of Canada (34 million)
Submitted by Gabriel Shapiro
George Junius Stinney Jr. was, at age 14, the youngest person executed in the United States in the 20th century.
Stinney, of Alcolu, South Carolina, was convicted of murdering two young girls after police said he confessed to the murders. But the question of Stinney’s guilt, the validity of his alleged confession and the judicial process leading to his execution has been criticized as a miscarriage of justice and as an example of the many injustices African-Americans suffered in courtrooms in the Southern United States in the first half of the 20th Century.
Following his arrest, Stinney’s father was fired from his job and his parents and siblings were given the choice of leaving town or being lynched. The family was forced to flee, leaving the 14-year-old child with no support during his 81-day confinement and trial.
His trial, including jury selection, lasted just one day. There was no court challenge to the testimony of the three police officers who claimed that Stinney had confessed, although that was the only evidence presented. There were no written records of a confession. Three witnesses were called for the prosecution: the man who discovered the bodies of the two girls and the two doctors who performed the post mortem. No witnesses were called for the defense. The trial before a completely white jury and audience (African-Americans were not allowed entrance) lasted two and a half hours. The jury took ten minutes to deliberate before it returned with a guilty verdict.
The execution of George Stinney was carried out at the South Carolina State Penitentiary in Columbia, on June 16, 1944. At 7:30 p.m., Stinney walked to the execution chamber with a Bible under his arm, which he later used as a booster seat in the electric chair. Standing 5 foot 2 inches (157 cm) tall and weighing just over 90 pounds (40 kg), he was small for his age, which presented difficulties in securing him to the frame holding the electrodes. Stinney was declared dead within four minutes of the initial electrocution.
McLaren MP4-12C, Reagan Charles Cook
Miss Beazley, George W. Bush
His technique is unschooled, not self-consciously trying to emulate any identifiable painter; and his references don’t seem to be any paintings at all. Just what he’s seeing. They look the way they do precisely because he doesn’t have the illusory/representational painting techniques that have been developed over the centuries. They show someone doing the best he can with almost no natural gifts — except the desire to do this. These are pictures of someone dissembling without knowing it, unprotected and on display, but split between the promptings of his own inner drives and limited by his abilities. They reflect the pleasures of disinterestedness.
A film like “Hoop Dreams” is what the movies are for. It takes us, shakes us, and make us think in new ways about the world around us. It gives us the impression of having touched life itself.
Hoop Dreams is, on one level, a documentary about two African-American kids named William Gates and Arthur Agee, from Chicago’s inner city, who are gifted basketball players and dream of someday starring in the NBA. On another level, it is about much larger subjects: about ambition, competition, race and class in our society. About our value structures. And about the daily lives of people like the Agee and Gates families, who are usually invisible in the mass media, but have a determination and resiliency that is a cause for hope.
The movie spans six years in the lives of William and Arthur, starting when they are in the eighth grade, and continuing through the first year of college. It was intended originally to be a 30-minute short, but as the filmmakers followed their two subjects, they realized this was a much larger, and longer story. And so we are allowed to watch the subjects grow up during the movie, and this palpable sense of the passage of time is like walking for a time in their shoes.
Hoop Dreams is not simply about basketball. It is about the texture and reality of daily existence in a big American city. And as the film follows Agee and Gates through high school and into their first year of college, we understand all of the human dimensions behind the easy media images of life in the “ghetto.”
The film contains more actual information about life as it is lived in poor black city neighborhoods than any other film I have ever seen. Because we see where William and Arthur come from, we understand how deeply they hope to transcend - to use their gifts to become pro athletes. We follow their steps along the path that will lead, they hope, from grade school to the NBA.
The filmmakers (Steve James, Frederick Marx and Peter Gilbert) shot miles of film, 250 hours in all, and that means they were there for several of the dramatic turning-points in the lives of the two young men. For both, there are reversals of fortune - life seems bleak, and then is redeemed by hope and sometimes even triumph. I was caught up in their destinies as I rarely am in a fiction thriller, because real life can be a cliff-hanger, too.
Many filmgoers are reluctant to see documentaries, for reasons I’ve never understood; the good ones are frequently more absorbing and entertaining than fiction. “Hoop Dreams,” however, is not only a documentary. It is also poetry and prose, muckraking and expose, journalism and polemic. It is one of the great moviegoing experiences of my lifetime.
In the original 1937 edition of “The Hobbit” Gollum was genuinely willing to bet his ring on the riddle game, the deal being that Bilbo would receive a “present” if he won. Gollum in fact was dismayed when he couldn’t keep his promise because the ring was missing. He showed Bilbo the way out as an alternative, and they parted courteously.
As the writing of LotR progressed (1937-1949) the nature of the Ring changed. No longer a “convenient magical device”, it had become an irresistable power object, and Gollum’s behavior now seemed inexplicable, indeed, impossible.
Tolkien resolved the difficulty by re-writing the chapter into its present form, in which Gollum had no intention whatsoever of giving up the Ring but rather would show Bilbo the way out if he lost. Also, Gollum was made far more wretched, as befitted one enslaved and tormented by the Ruling Ring. At the same time, however, Bilbo’s claim to the Ring was seriously undercut.
Care must be taken when noting this last point.
There are two issues involved, well summarized in the Lord of the Rings Prologue: “The Authorities, it is true, differ whether this last question was a mere ‘question’ and not a ‘riddle’ … but all agree that, after accepting it and trying to guess the answer, Gollum was bound by his promise” (Fellowship, pg. 21). Thus, it was Bilbo’s winning of the game that was questionable. Given that he had in fact won, albeit on a technicality, he was fully entitled to the prize, which, in the old version, was the ring. In the new version, however, he had no claim to the Ring at all, whether he had won or not, because the Ring was not the stake of the game.
The textual situation thus reached was that there now existed two versions of the episode. Tolkien deftly made this circumstance part of the story by suggesting that the first time around **Bilbo was lying** (under the influence of the Ring) to strengthen his claim. (Bilbo had written this version in his diary, which was “translated” by Tolkien and published as “The Hobbit”; hence the error in the early editions, later “corrected”.) This new sequence of events inside the story is laid out clearly in “Of the Finding of the Ring” (Prologue) and is taken for granted thereafter for the rest of the story.
“The Hobbit” as now presented fits the new scenario remarkably well, even though Tolkien, for quite sound literary reasons, left this entire matter of Bilbo’s dishonesty out (it was an entirely irrelevant complication which would have thrown everything out of balance). The present attempt to step back and view the entire picture is made more involved by the fact that there were two separate pieces of dishonesty perpetrated by Bilbo.
The first, made explicit, was that when he initially told his story to Gandalf and the Dwarves he left the ring out entirely — this no doubt was what inspired Gandalf to give Bilbo the “queer look from under his bushy eyebrows” (Hobbit, pg. 99). Later, (after the spider episode) he revealed that he had the Ring, and it must have been at this point that he invented the rigamarole about “winning a present”. There is, however, no hint in the text of this second piece of dishonesty (as noted above, it would have been a grave literary mistake). Readers are therefore given no indication that when “Balin … insisted on having the Gollum story… told all over again, with the ring in its proper place” (Hobbit, pg. 163) that Bilbo didn’t respond with the “true” story, exactly as described in Ch V.
In this regard, “Of the Finding of the Ring” in the Prologue is a necessary prelude to Lord of the Rings.
By William D.B. Loos and Wayne G. Hammond Jr.
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
This may seem like a joke, but it is a fair question. Who prescribed the order of the alphabet?
Unfortunately, it’s not a question that is easy to answer. The ABC order as we know it now has survived more or less intact for upwards of 3,000 years.
The alphabet used in English, and with some variations in most other European languages, comes from Semitic speakers who adapted it from Egyptian hieroglyphics about 4,000 years ago. The rudiments of modern alphabetic order first appeared about 600 years later in Syria. With minor changes in letter order at each step, the alphabet passed from the Semites to the Greeks to the Etruscans to the forebears of the Romans to us.
The roots of ABC order are found in the cuneiform script of Ugaritic, the Semitic language of an ancient city in Syria. The letter shapes of this script aren’t obviously related to our alphabet’s direct ancestors, but the alphabetic order from a 14th-century BC inscription is virtually identical to later Hebrew and Phoenician letter lists, and the letter names are related.
A Greek borrowed the 22 Phoenician letters around 800 BC - but sort of botched the job leaving many idiosyncratic errors . Among other mistakes, he got several sibilant letters mixed up, and by the time things calmed down S and Z were the wrong shape and S was out of order. The same joker, or one who followed closely, gave exclusively vowel sounds to four letters theretofore primarily consonantal: ancestors of A, E, I, and O. Later Greeks added letters to the end, two of which interest us: chi, ancestral X, which over time acquired our modern “ks” sound; and upsilon, ancestral U.
The Etruscans borrowed the Greek alphabet about 700 BC. They retained the letter order but dispensed with the Semitic-derived letter names, which is why we say “ay, bee,” not “alpha, beta.” (British zed, from zeta, is a holdout.)
Latin borrowed the Etruscan alphabet about 600 BC. The Etruscans had no G sound and thus no corresponding letter, so eventually Latin G evolved from C - fittingly, because Etruscan C (pronounced “k”) had come from the Greek gamma (pronounced “g” as in, well, gamma). Rather than sitting next to its sib, G took slot seven, replacing underutilized Z. Centuries later Z came back to transliterate Greek zeta and Y was introduced to represent upsilon. As newbies, Y and Z had to sit in the back.
The modern English alphabet is the 23-letter Latin assortment with three additions hastened by the invention of movable type. W starts showing up in English letter lists in the 16th century, replacing the previous literal double U (or V) that denoted our current W sound. Naturally it was placed next to the then-undifferentiated U/V. The I/J and U/V cleavages came later - though the different shapes had existed for centuries, they weren’t considered distinct letters in English until around 1700.
So the roots of ABC order trace back to 14th-century BC Ugaritic. But why that order? Scholars don’t know. The identity of the sage who first ordered it, and why that order, is lost to time.
8 facts about Martin Van Buren, 8th President of the United States
1. He was the first president to be born an American. All the other presidents had been British at birth.
2. He is considered by most historians to be the first ethnic president. His native language was Dutch, and to date, he has been the only U.S. President who has spoken English as a second language.
3. He is the first, and one of only two presidents elected without the benefit of a university degree or a military commission.
4. He was once criticized by Davy Crockett for wearing clothes that were too feminine.
5. His nicknames included “The Little Magician” “Red Fox” and “Old Kinderhook”.
6. When he was vice president, he presided over the Senate wearing a pair of pistols, as a precaution against the frequent outbursts of violence.
7. He was a key organizer of the Democratic Party, and dominant figure in the creation of the modern two party system.
8. After leaving office he received his four year salary in a single lump sum of $100,000. In his retirement he farmed potatoes and wrote an autobiography, which oddly does not mention his wife once.