Tag Archives: History

It’s A Mystery!

I really enjoy Jim Wright’s rants, especially when he gets riled up. He reminds me of a famous sports writer for the Los Angeles Times, Jim Murray who, sadly, passed away nearly a quarter century ago (kinda shows you how old I am). Jim Murray had a way of making and remaking a point without the reader getting tired of the exercise. Jim Wright has that same quality in the political world, IMO. I came across this post today and shared it with my friends and anyone else who might stumble across it – my posts are all public – and I thought I would share it here as well. I also added a few thoughts of my own that sprung out of Jim’s post and some of the resulting comments, most notably those suggesting the work of protecting against fascism is hardly over because of this one election. In fact, I vividly remember the “America. Love it or leave it” crowd that attacked those of us who were protesting the war in Vietnam back in the sixties and seventies, as well as the majority of Republicans since who want to restrict our freedoms and tell us what to think, who to love, and how to relate to the universe. My comments follow this Facebook embed.

The concerning part is there’s still a disturbingly large swath of the electorate who embrace fascism and authoritarianism and likely an equally large group of people who haven’t a clue what’s actually happening and merely respond to the right-wing propaganda that permeates our culture and vote reflexively, not thoughtfully.

My time on this planet is coming to a close, even if I live to be 100, but I still care deeply about the kind of society, economy, and environment we’ll be leaving those who come after me. While I have two daughters who are 19 and 21, and whose future matters a great deal to me, I would feel this way even if I was childless.

The forces of darkness are not soon going away; they’ll most likely never go away – at least not for generations to come. Therefore, we must be eternally vigilant as well as discerning in our choice of those we allow to have the power to make decisions affecting our lives and the lives of our fellow humans. This means paying close attention to elections at every level and for every office, as they’re currently the most impactful activities that determine how we live.

I honestly believe we need a socialist revolution, but I don’t see it happening soon, nor do I see it happening in the manner others have gone down. We’re not early 20th century Russia or mid 20th century China. Neither are we similar to Cuba or any other country I can think of that had a revolution and attempted to become a communist economy.

My knowledge of Marxism, which is admittedly incomplete, tells me that Marx and Engels did not believe a country could go from an agrarian or feudal economy directly to socialism. If you’re not familiar with their theories, they believed that human economic systems evolved and there was a progression from tribalism (primitive communism) to slavery, to feudalism, to capitalism, to socialism, to communism, to anarchy (which didn’t mean crazy-ass bomb throwing, but the absence of the coercive organs of the state, i.e. the “withering away of the state.”) Neither were these transitions/evolutions necessarily smooth or linear, but they were overall inexorable.

Materialistic Dialectics also requires us to understand the situation in which we find ourselves and our society in its historical context, not as some abstract notion of how things “ought” to be, but as they truly are; a seemingly Herculean task given the complexity of today’s world.

I don’t have all the answers; I’m not even sure I have any answers. However, of this I’m reasonably certain – believing that capitalism is the zenith of human economic activity is foolish and counter productive. As well, we have a long way to go just to honor the principles on which the United States was ostensibly founded. Liberty and justice for all is still a goal; an apparently distant one at that.

Semper Vigilantes!


Gobsmacked!

I am absolutely blown away. In writing my autobiography, or a couple of memoirs, whatever-the-hell-it-is I’m doing, I’ve found it necessary to do some research to confirm things like locations, relationships, personal history, even a little genealogy.

I’ve never been big on family history, but I’ve been told or have heard things throughout my life that fill in a few blanks. For instance, as far as I know my paternal grandfather was an orphan from Poland who settled in (what I grew up knowing as) “The Ukraine.” His last name, as my father spelled it, was Wladofsky. My mother’s maiden name was Moldofsky and, since the suffix “sky” means “from”, I’m pretty sure that means her family was from Moldova, which borders Ukraine to the southwest. There is also a town in the far east of Poland, right on the border of Ukraine, called Wlodowa. It’s conceivable that’s where Wladowsky (Wladofsky, Wladovsky) comes from.

Regardless, as I’ve said I haven’t really been terribly interested in discovering much of this. However, I have on occasion attempted to search the database of the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation to see if I could find anything. I’ve not been successful, until today.

The real irony here is that I haven’t found anything about my paternal grandparents or my maternal great grandparents (my maternal grandparents where born in the U.S.) but I finally found a listing of someone. It’s not an immigration record, though. It’s a record of my father returning to New York, via Dublin, Ireland from a Murmansk Run during WWII. He was born in Chicago, but quite high school to join the U.S. Navy and was deployed aboard the U.S.S. William H. Webb.

All these years I thought he was aboard a United States Navy vessel, but I know now he was part of the Navy referred to as the Navy Armed Guard. These were small detachments of sailors who manned the guns on merchant ships. I believe the William H. Webb was a merchant ship outfitted with guns that were manned by the 29 sailors aboard a vessel which also included 41 merchant seamen. My father was the lone radioman.

Here’s what is said about the Navy Armed Guard: “The U.S. Navy Armed Guard was a service branch of the United States Navy that was responsible for defending U.S. and Allied merchant ships from attack by enemy aircraft, submarines and surface ships during World War II. The men of the Armed Guard served primarily as gunners, signal men and radio operators on cargo ships, tankers, troop ships and other merchant vessels. Disbanded following the end of the war, the Armed Guard is today little known or remembered by the general public, or even within the Navy. But without the courage and sacrifice of the men of the Armed Guard, victory in World War II would have been much more difficult and taken much longer.” https://www.armed-guard.com/.

He seldom talked about it, but when I was a child I learned early not to be near his arms when waking him up for dinner. He came out of sleep ready for action. I always “knew” the reason, but never felt it quite as clearly as I do now. I’m attaching a portion of the document that’s the very first thing I’ve ever encountered about his service, other than a certificate he received on February 23, 1944 upon their vessel crossing above the Arctic Circle which I’ve had since his death in 1984. I had to fight back tears. I’m still getting goose bumps.

I don’t expect to suddenly go off in a full-blown genealogical search for my roots, but I have found a few other threads I’d like to pull on. I must, however, ensure it all serves my greater purpose, which is finishing this book (whatever) of mine fairly soon. Certainly before the end of next year.

PS – His name before he and my mother changed it when they got married, was Isadore Edward Wladofsky and he was a Radioman 3rd Class aboard the William H. Webb, all of which is included in the full document of which I’m sharing only a part.


Who’s Counting?

From Worldometer.com

I’ve been following the inexorable path of this pandemic since the very beginning, primarily through Worldometer’s website located here. In early 2020, I was paying really close attention as the casualties mounted. I was recording the figures into a spreadsheet and plotting a graph of how deaths and infections were growing.

Sometime toward the end of the Summer I gave up; I had other things to do and the pandemic seemed to be waning. That was just before the Fall and Winter spike really ran up the numbers. Even then I didn’t return to recording and plotting. I decided to leave that to others as I was merely replicating what several organizations were already doing, and my desire to be able to pore over the data wasn’t enough to justify the time it would have taken.

On December 29, 2020 I tested positive for Covid-19 and spent the next ten days both quarantined in my bedroom and miserable with the virus. I came close to going to the hospital but, thankfully, it didn’t happen and I recovered. I am now fully vaccinated (Team Moderna) and have fully recovered, with the exception of a couple of “long-haul” symptoms: occasional fatigue; loss of smell (it returns intermittently); some brain fog … which is maddening but seems to be subsiding with time.

Through this time, I’ve continued to monitor the ebb and flow of this virus and its movement through the country. One thing that’s always struck me as odd is how the numbers really go down on the weekends. I’m pretty sure this is more an artifact of reporting, e.g. how many admin staff are home for the weekend, etc., but if you look at the graph (above) you can see a consistent drop in reported cases and deaths each and every weekend.

It’s almost as if the Grim Reaper doesn’t exactly take the day off, but certainly puts the brakes on every Saturday and Sunday. Maybe people are so accustomed to relaxing on the weekend that even the gravely ill manage to hang on through those days just out of habit. I know that being calm and taking care of business played a significant role in my recover. I was “lucky” in that I have dealt with lung issues most of my life, so I was closely attuned to what was happening to me and was able to relax and allow my body’s natural defenses to take over.

As the above graph clearly shows, we’re on the way down again, but I’m somewhat apprehensive that we’re going to see another spike as the weather cools down and people start spending more time indoors. I hope I’m wrong, but history seems to want to tell a different story than we’d all prefer was the case.


White History Month’s Greatest Hits

I’m not normally fond of using WordPress’s “Press This” function, because it only pulls a few words into my blog from the original post. It’s good because it means anyone wishing to read the article can see it in its entirety as originally published, but it also means I might have to copy some words over to make the post a little more intelligible and to provide some needed context.

Nevertheless, this article is one I consider extremely important . . . for white people to read. As I commented when posting it to Twitter and Facebook: “We may not have invented racism, but we sure as hell have benefited from it these last 3 or 4 centuries. It’s up to us to end it. That’s the real “White Man’s Burden!”

Check this article out. You might want to read more at The Root as well.

After a grueling 28 days of watching corporations, institutions and random white people pretend to care about the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., Harriet Tubman and that other Black guy with the big part in his afro (I think it’s Booker T. Douglass), we now return to our regularly scheduled program.

Source: White History Month’s Greatest Hits


Trump Channels Saddam

Trump’s Presidential Transition Efforts

Nothing says you truly love your country quite like working overtime to destroy every shred of cooperation and comity, essentially implementing the Iraqi policy following their withdrawal from Kuwait in 1991.

This is a simple meme I put together with Photoshop recently. Each day that passes since the election, Trump and his administration prove repeatedly how little they care for the nation they pretend to serve.

I’ve not seen anything even slightly similar to what’s going on, even as I compose this post. Trump is anything but a patriot; in fact, I would offer he’s engaging in sedition, if not treason. He’s certainly acting like a domestic terrorist.

Can’t wait ’til he’s gone. He is the absolute worst president in the history of the United States. Hands down!


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.

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


All Hail Cadet Bonespurs

In honor of this year’s (2019) Independence Day festivities in the nation’s Capitol which, for the first time in our history, looks to be more like a campaign rally for Trump than a celebration of our Independence from a(nother) tyrant, I offer this wonderful cartoon.


Did Someone Say Newsletter?

I suppose you could say newsletters are in my blood. My father was the radioman aboard the USS William H. Webb during the second World War and one of his duties was to publish a newsletter for the crew. I remember looking through and reading his saved copies of each edition as I was growing up. I may even have some of them in a box in the garage somewhere, though I doubt they have held up all that well. They were printed on some pretty flimsy paper to begin with. I don’t think archival was part of their thought process.

Over the years I’ve done my share of newsletters, ranging from merely creating a SoCal edition of The War Bulleting, a publication out of Berkeley, California, that documented what was happening in Vietnam and Southeast Asia and the activities we were engaging in to protest our nation’s involvement, to a newsletter I created for my local golf course that garnered me lots of free range balls and rounds on the course, sometimes with a pro who couldn’t help but give me some instruction during the course of a round.

So . . . a series of events have convinced me it’s time to go through all my papers—and I have a ton of ’em—and organize, scan, and recycle as many of them as I can, memorializing what I find here on my blog. I also intend on gathering some of it into book form and see if anyone cares to read it.

Here’s the only saved edition I have of a newsletter I put together for the Student Bar Association of the University of San Fernando Valley College of Law. I’m a bit miffed to discover I didn’t put a date on the damned thing, so I can’t be sure if I published it in 1974 or 1975. Now that I think about it, I believe I was the 2nd year, full-time representative to the Student Bar, so that would have been ’75 . . . a mere 44 years ago.

Note the simplicity. There was no computer involved in any aspect of this publication, as PCs did not exist at the time. I’m pretty sure the headlines were stick-on letters I had to apply one at a time, and the copy was all done on a typewriter, though it may have been an IBM Correcting Selectric, because I was working as a secretary/clerk in a small law office in Beverly Hills at the time.

I’m surprised the paper held up as well as it has over all these years. It’s yellowed a bit, but it was still reasonably malleable; not brittle and parchment-like, as I suspect my father’s newsletter would be if I could find them. Then again, they’d be around 75 years old now.

I have also found a bunch of newsletters I created for Rocketdyne, as well as menus and promotional items I designed over the years, when I wasn’t working at Rocketdyne. I’ve also found some strange things I created as jokes during my tenure at what we called “The Rock.” I intend on sharing all of them.


A Useful (for moi) Outline

As I have noted previously, I am seriously considering working on a book, either of my memoirs (my whole life) or one about my activities in the Peace and Justice movement of the late sixties and early seventies. Most of that work was in protesting the war in Vietnam, but some of it was in protest of racism and inequality. If fact, I just found this document I authored about six years ago, which I called “20 things about me” and I can see it doesn’t say a word about my work with the Committee to Free Angela Davis. Clearly, I’ll be adding to this list, which I believe I will use to help me organize my thoughts about my life.


This is two views of one of the casts that were put on my left foot beginning 2 days after I was born. They must have put it on loose, because I kicked it off. My mother asked me to save it so, even though she’s been gone for about a decade, they’ll probably get cremated with me.

  1. I was born with club feet, one of which was corrected with casts, the other of which was corrected with surgery at 5 years old.
  2. When I enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1966, I failed my physical because of my foot, but argued successfully that you don’t march in the Navy. Big mistake; it’s about all you do in boot camp. Was subsequently discharged when they discovered I had arthritis in my ankle.
  3. My father, fearing I would become a bum, bought a small snack shop for me when I was 19 and a half. I was there during the Summer of Love (1967) and ended up having him sell it at a loss so I could go up to Haight-Ashbury and find out what the hell was going on.
  4. It took me 3.5 years to complete High School because I cut so many classes and just didn’t want to be there. I subsequently gained admission and graduated with a Juris Doctorate from an accredited Law School ten years later, without having attended undergraduate school.
  5. I provided armed security – as a bodyguard and with a team doing bomb searches, etc. – for numerous groups and individuals during the height of the anti-Vietnam War movement, including Jane Fonda, Arco Iris, Hortensia Bussi, and Vietnamese students in the U.S.
  6. I, along with my brother and my roommate, provided armed bodyguard services for Roger MacAfee and his family after they had put up their ranch for Angela Davis’s bail.
    They were guests of honor at a fundraiser called “In Concert For Angela,” which was held at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. His family, and the three of us, were about the only white people there.
  7. I was a bartender at the Ash Grove in Hollywood, a venue distinguished by having been burned to the ground numerous times by anti-Castro Cubans (Gusanos).
  8. I spent two months in Cuba as a guest of the Cuban government and a member of the sixth contingent of the Venceremos Brigade.
  9. I taught myself Spanish for the trip.
  10. My first wife was Cuban (totally unrelated to my trip many years earlier) and my current (2nd) wife is Sansei (3rd generation Japanese-American).
  11. I’ve smoked pot since I was 19. I’m currently 66 (and my brain still functions pretty darn well).
  12. I love good single-malt Scotch.
  13. My last dog was a Rottweiler who was given to me as a gift from a girlfriend who couldn’t handle him. He loved to chase shadows and stomp ants.
  14. I have had at least a dozen cats throughout my life, including two right now – Zack and Weezy.
  15. I accidentally ended up working on the Space Shuttle Main Engine program beginning a year before the Shuttle’s return to flight after the Challenger disaster. I stayed there for 23 years.
  16. I accepted an early retirement package in 2010, as the Shuttle program was winding down and the space program was contracting.
  17. I earned a Masters degree in Knowledge Management from CSUN in 2009, at the age of 62.
  18. I became a first-time, adoptive father at the tender age of 55 and, in a stunning display of higher intelligence, did it again at 59. I feel responsible, but not guilty, for the part I have played in IA.
  19. I attempted to provide social media marketing services for small businesses after retiring, but soon discovered nobody could afford to hire me and most were abysmally ignorant of what was possible.
  20. At the end of last year I decided to offer my services as an editor and proofreader and my efforts are beginning to pay off.
  21. I just signed two contracts to write for a couple of organizations I have a great deal of respect for.

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