Category Archives: History

My "Daughter's" Project

My youngest daughter (I have two) is in the 10th grade in high school. Her history class is studying the French Revolution right now and, during the Thanksgiving break she decided she wanted to build a scale model guillotine for extra credit. She, of course, enlisted my help. It never even occurred to me that I could probably find something online that would suffice and, in fact, I just looked and found a couple of places I could have purchased a kit. Here’s a really simple one. Here’s another.

As it turned out, I think I jumped at the opportunity to re-arrange our ridiculously stuffed garage, so I could get to my woodworking bench and use all the tools I’ve purchased or was given over the years and haven’t used for nearly a decade. Amazingly enough, they all worked despite some rust and corrosion.

I took some pictures as I was going along, and finished it yesterday so she could bring it to school today. This afternoon, I came across the original note her teacher gave her with the “rules”, e.g. it must work, it can’t have a sharp blade, and it isn’t due until Friday . . . grrrrr. Frankly, I became a wee tad obsessed with pulling this off and I’m glad it’s done and gone. I was having a hard time doing anything else, even though there were periods of time in between gluing and when I needed to build up my confidence that I could pull something off. Sometimes it mostly involved my remembering how to do something.

I made the whole thing out of a plank of 3/4″ thick Pine and a hobby piece of 1/4″ Oak. Since most of the table called for 3/4″ square pieces, I had to use an old table saw designed for onsite carpentry. It belonged to a friend of mine and, even though it’s been in my garage for at least 17 or 18 years, it still belongs to him. I just get to use it. Some of the cuts I had to make concerned by fingertips greatly, but they all managed to survive.

At any rate, here are some photos.

Here, the guillotine is mostly finished and assembled. You can see I was making a set of stairs, which I hadn’t planned on doing, but my daughter insisted was necessary.
I made the blade out of plastic, so it’s incapable of cutting, the spacer out of some Oak I had to purchase to get the 1/4″ thickness I needed for a few pieces, and I made the counterweight out of a piece of 2×4 that’s probably been sitting in our garage for the last two decades.
If you compare the stairs to what I started with and have depicted in the first photo, above, you’ll note I ultimately ended with four steps. I think it was because I realized I’d made them too tall to begin with and had to scale them down. The steps and the table/platform are made of Oak and here the whole thing has been treated with Watco Danish oil.
Getting the blade to actually drop was a bit of a challenge because cutting the channels on the two uprights so the blade assembly would be able to slide smoothly up and drop fairly quickly down was challenging, and they weren’t quite as smooth as I would have liked them to be. Nevertheless, I got it done after a bit of trial and error.
We have a little squeeze toy I picked up at a conference a long time ago from Hitachi. It’s a Sumo wrestler and, unfortunately, his head has managed to depart his body, though we keep him around (why, I don’t know). My wife thought he fit rather nicely with the device, so here ’tis. Next photo is from the other side.
That’s All, Folks.

Thread by @djrothkopf: “Just got this via text: “You are a retarded kike. You dont want to win 2020. You enjoy complaining about Trump.” It was accompanied by this […]”

I want . . . no, I need to share this thread. Although I have been an atheist for most of my adult life, I was born a Jew and am bar mitzvah. I feel it is incumbent upon me to stand not only with my fellow Jews, but also with all those who suffer oppression, prejudice, and hatred. I am not a public figure, so I have not been attacked like David, but if this keeps up (and, especially, if Trump is re-elected) we can expect things to get worse, perhaps a lot worse. Don’t think it can’t happen because this is America. As David points out, America is responsible for the slaughter of our native peoples and the enslavement of Africans for centuries. Our hands are hardly clean. We need to be prepared for the worse, all while working to bring about a better world for all.


Thread by @djrothkopf: “Just got this via text: “You are a retarded kike. You dont want to win 2020. You enjoy complaining about Trump.” It w by this and other anti-semitic art. This is Trumpism. The instances of this & worse happening in my life […]”

Source: Thread by @djrothkopf: “Just got this via text: “You are a retarded kike. You dont want to win 2020. You enjoy complaining about Trump.” It was accompanied by this […]”


Black Then | The First Massive African American Protest in U.S. History Was Led By Children Marching Against Lynching In The Silent Protest Parade

It is clear to me that racism in America will not go away if white people do not stand up and denounce it as the destructive force it is. In order to do so respectfully and honestly, white people need to listen to the voices of people of color. Only by listening to their authentic voices; to their stories and their life experiences, can we even begin to understand how racism affects their lives and why it needs to stop if we’re to progress as a race . . . a human race, that is. Here’s an interesting story that was shared with me on Facebook. Though I would share it here as well.


First Massive African American Protest in American History (July 28, 1917) were children in New York City participating in the Silent Protest Parade against the East St. Louis Riots. Between 8,000 and 10,000 African-Americans marched against lynching and anti-black violence in a protest. The march was precipitated by the East St. Louis Riot of May and July of that year, which was an outbreak of labor and race-related violence that caused up to 200 deaths and extensive property damage. The Parade was organized by famous civil rights activist and first African-American to earn a doctorate (from Harvard University) W. E. B. Du Bois and the NAACP. The protesters hoped to influence President Woodrow Wilson to carry through on his election promises to African-American voters to implement anti-lynching legislation and to promote black cases; to the great horror of civil rights activists across the country, Wilson repudiated his promises, and federal discrimination actually increased during his presidency. It was the first parade of its kind in New York and the second public civil rights demonstration of African-Americans.

The paraders assembled at Fifty-ninth Street and Fifth Avenue and marched thirty-six blocks downtown to Madison Square Park. They were led by about 800 children, some no older than six, dressed entirely in white. Following the children were white-clad women, then rows of men dressed in black. The marchers walked wordlessly to the sound of muffled drumbeats. Despite their silence, their concerns were articulated on neatly stenciled banners and signs.

The banners and signs read: “MOTHER, DO LYNCHERS GO TO HEAVEN?; “GIVE ME A CHANCE TO LIVE”; “TREAT US SO THAT WE MAY LOVE OUR COUNTRY”; “MR. PRESIDENT, WHY NOT MAKE AMERICA SAFE FOR DEMOCRACY?; AND “YOUR HANDS ARE FULL OF BLOOD.”

Source: Black Then | The First Massive African American Protest in U.S. History Was Led By Children Marching Against Lynching In The Silent Protest Parade


Four Boxes of Liberty Redux

I didn’t really care for the visual I created and posted yesterday, depicting the four boxes of Liberty, so I created another one. I thought yesterday’s was OK in depicting the concept, but I used really simple graphics of the boxes themselves. Last night I thought maybe I should use pictures depicting people—at least for some of them. So . . . here’s the new graphic. It’s much larger than the one I posted yesterday.

PS – You can use all of these boxes simultaneously, save for the last one. Even during a revolution, though, civil life has to continue and it’s quite conceivable all four boxes could be in play at some time.

I hope it doesn’t come to that, but I don’t see the Republicans and white supremacists (I consider them synonymous today) just fading away.


Four Boxes of Liberty

Just came across a concept I was unaware existed, though I have often thought of all four of these “boxes” we must use to “secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” Although the phrase has, apparently, been used lately by right wing extremist groups, I believe the concepts it represents are useful and correct.

The four boxes to be used in defense of liberty: soap, ballot, jury, ammo.

By engaging our fellow citizens in various ways and methods, e.g. newspapers, flyers, social media, blogs, and other methods of arguing our positions on issues, we are using the soapbox. When we vote, at least every two years, we are using the ballot box. When those who have attempted to usurp the people’s power or who have betrayed their oaths of office or otherwise show themselves unfit for office, we (sometimes) are able to use the jury box to convict and send them packing. Finally, should all other methods fail, as Americans (I would argue as humans) we are entitled; nay, we have no choice but, to bear arms in defense of our liberty and freedom.

You can read a little more about this concept here.


And They’re Still At It!

In case you were wondering if the forces arrayed against a woman’s right to choose are something that has arisen recently, here’s an old cartoon I found in my collection of clippings, papers, and photos I saved over my near quarter century career at Rocketdyne. It’s been sitting in a folder with a whole bunch of other stuff I thought useful to retain for 30 years. Seems to make it clear not much has changed, other than these people are more powerful than they were back then, not to mention Gorsuch and Kavanaugh.


‘Zero-tolerance’ immigration policy is big money for contractors, nonprofits

What truly sickens me (pisses me off as well) is that we are witnessing the transfer of billions of dollars of our tax money to the coffers of these very sick, hateful, and exploitative organizations. They are profiting handsomely off the misery and suffering of people whose lives have been upended in large part because of policies of the U.S. that have been carried out in Central and South America over decades.



I recommend reading Felix Greene’s excellent book, “The Enemy: What Every American Should Know About Imperialism.” Despite its being almost 50 years since it was published, it is still a wonderful exposition of how insidious imperialism is and how thoroughly our country (the U.S.) has infiltrated the economies and governments of many of the countries in the southern part of our hemisphere.


President Trump’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy under the direction of Attorney General Jeff Sessions is big business for U.S. companies — from private prison and tech firms to defense and security contractors — as well as nonprofits.Under bipartisan pressure, Trump signed an executive order Wednesday ending the administration’s controversial child-separation policy. But Trump’s “zero-tolerance” policy, in which individuals who enter the U.S. illegally are prosecuted, will continue. All this comes as the country grapples with harrowing images of babies stripped from their mothers’ arms and children playing soccer on the grounds of abandoned Walmart stores along the Southwest border.

Source: ‘Zero-tolerance’ immigration policy is big money for contractors, nonprofits


Simple, Stupid, & Punny

I’m glad we decided to purchase Photoshop. I’ve been playing with it and sometimes I even get a little serious, spending some time learning how to use a tool I’m unfamiliar with. This wasn’t one of those times, though being able to select a small part of one photo and layering onto another requires a bit of patience and a reasonably steady hand. The latter I find difficult at times, as I have inherited essential (or familial) tremors from my mother, and there are times when I have a great deal of difficulty pointing and clicking in the right place. When I was back at Rocketdyne (2015 – 2017) there were times when I couldn’t easily log onto my computer in the morning because me hands were shaking so bad. At any rate, this here should be clear to anyone who knows a little Russian history and something about hand tools.

If you’ve seen one Russian, you’ve seen ’em all

PS – I’m not posting this for any reason other than I created it, it’s been shared on FB and Twitter, and I just want to have it somewhere that doesn’t disappear essentially forever. There’s nothing special about it, other than that it marks another bit of practice I had using Photoshop.


Cherry Choppers?

Who’da thunk it?

Give ’em hell, George. I heard his call sign was “Oak Mouth” or “Fir Face” or “Cherry Choppers.” Something like that. Nobody knows (except for Mango Mussolini) how courageous and valiant he was at the Battle of Covfefe, during the Bowling Green episode. Given how anachronistic the whole affair turned out to be, it’s no surprise he was awarded both the Air Force Combat Action Medal, and the Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal. Our Air Force wouldn’t be the same without his stellar service.


We’re Not What We Think We Are!

Don’t know if this will show up on the page, but I’m trying it. I want to share this sentiment posted to Instagram by Colin Kaepernick. I have seen it before and I believe it’s narrated by James Baldwin, but I may be wrong. Regardless, this is something all of us must keep in mind. Our country is not exactly the righteous, benevolent State we’ve been propagandized into believing it is. Please don’t forget what’s been done in our name.


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