Category Archives: World News

Shooting’s Fun For Everyone

Teaching Children To Shoot – 1957

Not that long ago shooting a rifle or a pistol was a right of passage for American children.

Here is a 16 page 1957 pamphlet put out by the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers Institute to encourage shooting for boys and girls. Its the sort of thing that today would probably be considered politically incorrect and start a huge protest if it were given out to schoolchildren. Some might call the pamphlet propaganda, but in the 1950s shooting and hunting as a recreational activity was one of the most popular leisure pastimes in the United States.

Shooting as a sport was considered to be a wholesome, fun activity that the family could do together. The popularity of sport fishing and wild game hunting in the United States soared to new heights in 1957 when a record total of 34,195,183 licenses were sold to devotees of those outdoor sports.

Today recreational shooting and especially hunting have been on a steady decline with 33 states issuing fewer hunting licenses in the past 20 years according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

In an NBC interview Mark Damian Duda, executive director of Responsive Management, a Virginia-based natural resources research group said, “Fifty years ago, a lot of kids would hunt and fish and be outside, now it’s easier to sit in your playroom and play video games.”

Today the idea of giving a child a gun and teaching them how to use and respect a gun is an anathema to many people. When the word “shooting” is mentioned in the news it is usually preceded by the word “mass”.

What has changed? Continue reading

The Origins of Fake News – 1904 Article “Why People Disbelieve The Newspapers”

Fake News Has Been Around A Lot Longer Than You Think –  This 1904 Article Explains Methods That Have Changed Little In 100 Years

The internet has given the perceived notion that fake news is a relatively new phenomenon. Let’s say the term fake news is a misnomer,  fake news should more properly be called outright lies or nonsense.

Pulitzer Prize winner Edward Bok

Edward Bok had a good deal to say about “fake news” when he wrote an article that appeared in the magazine World’s Work in March 1904.

Bok’s article “Why People Disbelieve The Newspapers An Explanation Of The System; That Makes Accuracy And Truthfulness Difficult To Attain” still holds a great deal of relevance today.

Edward Bok was born in the Netherlands in 1863. He immigrated to the United States with his parents in 1870 when he was six years old. Bok had to quit school when he was in his early teens to help support his family.

In 1889 at age 26, Bok became the editor of the Ladies Home Journal.  Not only a talented editor but prolific writer, Bok stayed at the helm of the Journal for 30 years retiring in 1919.  He wrote,  “The Americanization of Edward Bok: The Autobiography of a Dutch Boy Fifty Years After.” Published by Charles Scribner’s and Sons, the book won the 1921 Pulitzer Prize in Biography or Autobiography. Bok died in 1930.

In 2017 the dissemination of information, good and bad can be spread in a few clicks of a mouse. Many newspapers despite dwindling readership and circulation still have vast influence on what we all read. Then there are the web sites that masquerade as news outlets pumping out story after story.

One of the main problems of evaluating news is considering the source. The internet has made that problem worse, especially for young people. Stanford Graduate School of Education concluded that, “young people’s ability to reason about the information on the Internet can be summed up in one word: bleak.”

A 2016 study conducted by researchers at Stanford found “a dismaying inability by students to reason about information they see on the Internet, the authors said. Students, for example, had a hard time distinguishing advertisements from news articles or identifying where information came from.”

Countless articles have been written about the lack of fact checking in media.

There is also the real concern of media bias both liberal and conservative.

Finally it’s not just the young, there is the inability of adults to distinguish obvious comedy or satire from news. Even some of our obviously outlandish satirical stories have inexplicably been taken as fact (or even worse, fake news) by a handful of readers, even though the stories are outright ridiculous.  We list those stories under the category of comedy. See links at bottom of this story to see examples.

In 1904 Bok theorized that in the race for speed, that is to get the news out quickly, newspapers purposely neglected fact-checking and would embellish or simply make up stories. Bok also discovered that this directive often came from the top down and saturated news organizations. In the rush to get a scoop on competitors and gain circulation, truth would be sacrificed.

The bigger the headline, the more outrageous the story, the more likely it would be that potential readers would not pass up purchasing a newspaper. Journalistic morals ignored lead to fake news.

Does this sound familiar? Why do people click on internet stories now?  Do you fact check what you have read? How have things changed in 113 years?

Today the goal remains-  how many eyeballs will come to a web site. Sometimes there is another agenda, but almost always it is to gain ad revenue. People still doubt the reality of what they read.

Here reprinted in full is Edward Bok’s article showing important lessons can always be learned from the past.

Why People Disbelieve The Newspapers An Explanation Of The System; That Makes Accuracy And Truthfulness Difficult To Attain

By Edward Bok

TIME was, and it is not so long ago, when folks believed what they read in the newspapers. But now, if people do not absolutely disbelieve all that is published in all the papers, surely much of the modern newspaper writing is regarded with incredulity. “Wait until tomorrow and it will be denied” is a frequent comment; and one need not always wait until the following day; it is too often the case that the evening papers deny what the morning papers print. Continue reading

Marketing To Consumers So You Can Get Less Product For The Same Price

Look Closely And You’ll Notice Changes In Packaging

As late, great comedian Bill Hicks once pointed out, marketing is one the banes of human existence.

Marketers are people who find a way to monetize everything and convince you that you need things that you don’t. Or worse they assume many consumers have suffered a bout of amnesia, and will believe that paying more for less product is a good thing.

The rising cost of raw materials has driven companies and their marketers to slyly pass along their increased costs.

The understanding among packaging and marketing people is that consumers do not like price increases under any circumstances. Therefore if you reduce the amount of product you are getting and keep the price the same, consumers either won’t notice or mind.

Whether it’s coffee, cleaning fluids, potato chips, chocolate, canned vegetables or paper towels; packages have been shrinking.

Where else does six equal twelve, except in the Mr. Mxyzptlk math world of Bounty paper towels?

A few years ago Tropicana reduced the packaging of their juice from 96 oz. to 89 oz. and the 64oz. container to 59 oz.

I called the 800 customer service number and foolishly asked Tropicana why they had done this.

The customer service representative replied to me with a supposedly straight face, that customers wanted new ergonomic packaging and preferred less juice! Continue reading

It Can’t Happen Here. Can It?

Rainbow’s Apocalyptic Song 36 Years Later –

It’s Easy To Believe That Someone’s Gonna Light The Fuse

Hard rock band Rainbow’s lyrics, usually evoke the mystical or tongue in cheek double entendre imagery.

But one song, Can’t Happen Here from the album 1981 Difficult To Cure still resonates with issues that are as relevant today as the day the song was written in 1981.

With music by guitarist Ritchie Blackmore and lyrics by bass player Roger Glover, Can’t Happen Here asks the ultimate question: Is it possible someone will push the button and bring on Armageddon?

The lyrics:

Can’t Happen Here
(Blackmore, Glover © 1981)

Contaminated fish and micro chips
Huge supertankers on Arabian trips
Oily propaganda from the leaders’ lips
All about the future
There’s people over here people over there
Everybody’s looking for a little more air
Crossing all the borders just to take their share
Heading for the future

And we’re so abused and we’re so confused
It’s easy to believe that someone’s gonna light the fuse

Can’t happen here, can’t happen here, all that you fear they’re telling you, can’t happen here

Supersonic planes for a holiday boom
Rio de Janeiro in an afternoon
There’s people out of work but there’s people on the moon
Looking for the future
Concrete racetracks nationwide
Juggernauts are carving up the countryside
Cars by the million on a one way ride
Using up the future Continue reading

103 Years Ago A Muslim-American Writer Warned of “A Gigantic Day of Reckoning” That Islam Would Inflict On Europe and America

In 1914 Muslim-American Writer Achmed Abdullah Warned The World That Islam Would One Day Violently Take On Europe and America

Achmed Abdullah (1881-1945) was not a psychic, but over a hundred years ago he foresaw the future of Islam’s battle with the West.

Abdullah was born on the borderland between Afghanistan and India. Of mixed parentage, Abdullah was raised Muslim. He claimed to be educated on the continent and received a college degree in England, though the schools Abdullah supposedly went to have no record of him being there. Abdullah immigrated to America sometime around 1910. College degree or not he was well versed, educated and opinionated.

In the mid-teens he became a writer of some note, penning many articles for major magazines. Over the course of his writing career he wrote over two dozen books and by 1920 was also writing for the cinema. His two most famous screenplays are The Thief of Baghdad (1924) starring Douglas Fairbanks and The Lives of A Bengal Lancer (1935) starring Gary Cooper. Abdullah’s autobiography, The Cat had Nine Lives (1933) is extremely dubious as he professed to be related to Russian royalty among many of his unsubstantiated claims.

Early in his writing career Abdullah wrote a piece of non-fiction that you can tell is from the heart. In this story, he tells of the racial prejudice he encountered in his travels around the world. He recounts the historic injustices inflicted upon Asians and Muslims. Abdullah writes of his frustration with Christian and Western civilization’s assumption of superiority over any other culture. Abdullah saw the west’s attitude as racist and driven by subjugation and greed.  Ironic, considering Abdullah was on his way to making a very good living from Western civilization.

From the article:

“You Westerns feel so sure of your superiority over us Easterns that you refuse even to attempt a fair or correct interpretation of past and present historical events. You deliberately stuff the minds of your growing generations with a series of ostensible events and shallow generalities, because you wish to convince them for the rest of their lives how immeasurably superior you are to us, how there towers a range of differences between the two civilizations, how East is only East, and the West such a glorious, wonderful, unique West.”

Abdullah’s article  “Seen Through Mohammedan Spectacles,” was published in October 1914 by a very influential monthly scholarly magazine, The Forum.

The 13 page article which can be read here in its entirety, ran just months after the outbreak of World War I.

The article is forgotten today. Now is a good time to re-read it to better understand long held grievances from a non-western perspective. Continue reading

He Didn’t Play Baseball With Fidel Castro

Not One Of Fidel Castro’s Baseball Teammates

The Havana Baseball Monkey 1950s

The Havana Baseball Monkey 1950s

There is a myth that the late Cuban dictator Fidel Castro was an excellent baseball player during his collegiate years. It was claimed he was so good that major league scouts were following him. He was even offered a major league contract.

The whole story is untrue. There is one known photograph of Fidel Castro in a baseball uniform.

One thing Fidel Castro did do with baseball was effectively kill off the flow of major league talent from Cuba to the United States.

So how does this monkey photograph relate to Fidel Castro? Was the baseball monkey a mascot of one of Fidel’s teams?

There is no relationship except we thought it was a very strange photograph.

This 1950s news photograph above has lost its original caption. the note on the back says “Havana baseball monkey.”

Several things to ponder:
If this is your mascot, what is the name of your team?
That is one terrible place to lay out a baseball field. Continue reading

We’d Like To Hear From Houdini (And Teddy Roosevelt While We’re At It)

On The 90th Anniversary of Houdini’s Death, We’d Like Some Advice From Houdini and His Friend Theodore Roosevelt

From left to right: William Hamlin Childs, Harry Houdini, J.C. Platt, Theodore Roosevelt, unidentified, Philip Roosevelt, L. F. Abbott

Aboard The Imperator June 23, 1914 – From left to right: William Hamlin Childs, Harry Houdini, J.C. Platt, Theodore Roosevelt, unidentified, Philip Roosevelt, L. F. Abbott

If there is an afterlife maybe Houdini is hanging out with President Theodore Roosevelt like he was in 1914. If so, I’d like to know what they think about the current state of our country.

October 31, 1926 marks the 90th anniversary of the death of the world’s most famous magician, Harry Houdini. Before he died, Houdini told his wife Bess that if there really was life after death, he would contact her. After all, Houdini spent a lot of his time showing how all people who claimed to contact the dead were charlatans. If anyone could prove that there was life after death it would be Houdini.

He never made contact with Bess. There are still seances held each year that try and contact Houdini.

So every so often we’ve asked the question: has Houdini made contact from other side like he said he would?

Of course not. Houdini is still dead and there’s no word from him. Continue reading

Who Controls The News In Newspapers?

In 1960 Reporter / Author Gene Fowler Saw The Impending Danger of Who Decided What’s News In Newspapers

Gene Fowler wrote the following in 1960:

…the besetting evils of a haywire economy, as well as the reprisals exacted by ferocious minorities against anyone who prints unpleasant truths, has taken much of the do-and-dare spirit out of the makers of newspaper policies. When appeasement supplants editorial enterprise, and silences the outspoken criticism of evil men, the newspaper forfeits its character, loses its influence—and eventually its life. Public servants become public masters. All freedoms are endangered when that of the press is assailed.

Gene FowlerWe continue looking inside Gene Fowler’s book Skyline a reporter’s reminiscences of the 20’s (Viking) published in 1961 a year after Fowler’s death. Fowler makes several prescient observations about the newspaper business. His commentary is astute and he recognized the shifting danger of publishers, rather than editors controlling what gets reported. Fowler witnessed the trend of electronic media (radio & TV at the time) making newspapers irrelevant as the news cycle became hourly. (Now it is instantaneous.)

As more newspapers are controlled by publishers who have an agenda, publishing what is really news has become a very blurred subject.

You’ll hear the term “the liberal media,” “conservative media” or “the mainstream media” thrown about in policy and political discussions. We all know one thing for sure, there are many forms of media bias. But who really sets editorial policy for newspapers? Continue reading

In South Korea People Believe Electric Fans Cause Death

Many South Koreans Believe That Household Electric Fans Cause Death By Asphyxiation and Hypothermia

ge electric fanYou may have heard of people losing fingers by sticking their hands into spinning fan blades, but have you ever heard of an electric fan sucking all the air out of a room and killing you through asphyxiation?

Of course not, unless you were brought up in South Korea.

You see, in the 1970’s to conserve electricity use, the South Korean government spread a rumor that electric fans could cause death by hypothermia or asphyxiation.

Well that would certainly cut down on your fan use!

As illogical and unscientific as this situation sounds, many people in South Korea believe it to be true.

Below is an excerpt from May 24 New York Times about the situation: Continue reading

Prince’s Cause of Death Revealed

Prince’s Death, No Surprise To Vet

A Look Back At Prince and His Career

Prince the famous pit bull, was just a little over the age of eight (57 in dog years) when he died suddenly last week, shocking the entertainment world. His longtime veterinarian, Dr. Hugo Z. Clydell in a news conference said today that he was “not surprised by Prince’s death” and revealed the likely cause of his demise.

“Although Prince seemed to be in good health,” Dr. Clydell stated, “he had been secretly battling the mange for quite a while. Prince was also suffering from distemper, so it was just a matter of time before he died of natural causes or had to be put down.”

Prince in one of his famous costumes

Prince in one of his famous costumes

The intensively private pooch also had some bad habits which few on the outside knew about. Dr Clydell told reporters that for the past few years Prince had been drinking out of the toilet bowl.

“It was something he was ashamed of, but couldn’t stop,” said Dr. Clydell. Frequently after drinking from the toilet, Prince would chew on a shoe and then pee on the rug.

“Prince tried all sorts of therapy to stop this behavior,” Dr Clydell added, “but it never worked. It was only after the fact that he realized that he may have been doing something wrong. He was then made clear of his transgressions when he was hit on the snout with a rolled up newspaper and yelled at by humans, ‘Bad dog! Bad dog!'”‘

Some of Prince’s playmates were also aware of his maladies, weaknesses and recent changes in behavior.

Snoopy, a beagle owned by C.M. Schulz of St. Paul, MN knew that Prince was not himself when they met last week at Perkins Hill Park. When Snoopy greeted Prince in his usual fashion, Prince did not reciprocate and sniff longtime pal Snoopy’s testicles. “Something is wrong,” thought Snoopy who retreated to lay on the top of his doghouse.

Below: video of Prince playing and singing at home.

A Career In Retrospect
Prince gained prominence as a precocious puppy by finishing second in the Westbrook, MN dog show in 2008. After the show, Prince was signed to a long term contract by Weaning Bros. Records, a deal Prince later regretted and growled about as his fame grew. Prince put out numerous albums and appeared in dozens of television commercials, music videos and a feature film over a seven year span.

Prince’s first television commercial for Alps dog food, was a smashing success, spurring the catchy Alps theme song Let’s Go Gravy on to the Billboard semi-hot 100 music chart. Let’s Go Gravy remained on the charts for 41 weeks peaking at number four and made Prince a household name at least in his home state of Minnesota.

From there Prince went on to star as the dog who chased (always without success) a car with shiny hubcaps in a series of Chevrolet ads for the failed re-launch of the Corvair. The song to these commercials written and barked by Prince was also a top ten hit with its catchy lyrics:

“Hubcaps so shiny, / Car that can explode / Make you all miney / Chase you down the road / Little red corvair, / slow down, / you’re….wooof, much…. wooof…. too…. woooofff, ……fast.” Continue reading