Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Gov. Barkley of Alabama?

Charles Barkley tells CNN's Campbell Brown he plans to run for governor of his home state, Alabama, something he's been talking about for 15 years, and he means it this time.
Brown: So are you going to run for governor?

Barkley: I plan on it in 2014.

Brown: You are serious.

Barkley: I am. I can't screw up Alabama.

Brown: There is no place to go but up in your view?

Barkley: We are number 48 in everything, and Arkansas and Mississippi aren't going anywhere.
Two-term Gov. Bob Riley won't be running again in 2010, but Barkley has to wait until 2014 because Alabama law says he has to have lived in the state seven years to be governor, and he established his residency only in 2007.

Opie, Andy, Richie and the Fonz support Obama

In case you haven't seen Ron Howard's campaign video, here's the link.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

It warded off spirits, 300 years ago

University of Maryland archaeologists have unearthed in Annapolis a 300-year-old sand-and-clay bundle of lead shot, pins and nails, with a stone ax on top. They think it was set in the gutter in front of a house to ward of spirits, as in Africa.

Annie Taylor takes the plunge

On Oct. 24, 1901, sixtysomething schoolteacher Annie Edson Taylor became the first human to ride over Niagara Falls in a barrel and live. That was 107 years ago yesterday.

Sam Patch had done it without the barrel, way back in 1829 -- in fact, he did it twice -- but Taylor's stunt is no less remarkable for that.

The Daredevil Museum, on the falls' New York side, has an impressive collection of photos and memorabilia of other attempts, successful and un.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A Smith Miniplane on the roof

Frostburg's Main Street Hangar, a new restaurant and bar with a military-aviation theme, has a Smith Miniplane on its roof, to the delight of fans of homemade aircraft. Here's a link to John A. Bone's photo in the Cumberland Times-News.

The Miniplane was designed by the late Frank Smith of Fullerton, Calif., who built and flew the first one in 1956. Smith's original DSA-1 (the initials stood for Darned Small Airplane) is in the AirVenture Museum in Oshkosh, Wis., run by the Experimental Aircraft Association.

Here's a 1970 article by Budd Davisson on Smith's achievement:
The Smith Miniplane is right out of the back of every pilot's mind. It flies in the margins of notebooks and lands on the backs of napkins. We've all doodled something similar when our subconscious takes over and the "perfect" airplane flows out of the pencil. I'm sure, at one time or other, most of us have thought about our own personal little biplane. We've all dreamed, but somehow not many of us get past the doodling stage. Frank Smith did.

Ringo Nelson, American

The more I read the campaign statement of Ringo Nelson, write-in candidate for sheriff of Mineral County, W.Va., the more I admire it:
I saved an older lady from her apartment that was in flames. I also saved a woman who was stabbed with a screwdriver by another woman. ... I got enough money to have new roads and a roof put on at Abraham Lincoln’s mother’s birthplace. ... I helped a woman find her mother after 35 years. ... I want to give $10,000 of my money to get a center built for our youth and donate to every fire company in Mineral County every year. I bet my opponents won’t do that. ... I love America.
Unfortunately for Mr. Nelson, I vote in Allegany County, Md.

Nelson ran for sheriff in the Democratic primary in May, finishing fourth (and last) with 381 votes. During the spring campaign, he reported the theft of 17 campaign signs.

A corrected letter to the editor

I wrote this letter to the editor published in the Oct. 15 Cumberland Times-News -- my first published letter in four months -- but when I saw it in print I immediately noticed a gaffe: I had written "November 1997" when I meant "November 2007." I let the paper know, and a correction followed, though the correction doesn't seem to be attached to the online version. Oh, well.

A history professor backs Obama, Part 2

Earlier I linked to the eloquent letter in the Oct. 12 Cumberland Times-News by my colleague John Wiseman, endorsing Barack Obama. On Oct. 15 the paper printed Wiseman's follow-up letter, or Part Two of the original letter, as the case may be. A baseball enthusiast, Wiseman compares Obama to a lifelong Republican, Jackie Robinson:
Should he [Obama] win the Presidency, the Robinson "experiment" would become the democratic fulfillment. ... Having resolved the racial dilemma, we could then get on with the serious business of rebuilding America for everyone and reclaiming the respect of the world. Robinson would be pleased with that. And my grandchildren would grow up accepting a black president as naturally as breathing air.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Area cheesemakers win in Dublin

Goat cheeses from FireFly Farms of Bittinger, Md., won gold, silver and bronze medals Sept. 29 at the World Cheese Awards in Dublin, says the press release in today's Cumberland Times-News. Yum!

(Bittinger is about 23 miles away, south of Grantsville.)

A history professor backs Obama

My colleague John Wiseman, emeritus professor of history at Frostburg State University, has a good letter to the editor in today's Cumberland Times-News, explaining why he's backing Barack Obama:
If vast experience on Capitol Hill were the determining factor in my vote, I would surely cast my ballot for John McCain. But then what Washington record has he produced? During the Bush administration, McCain has consistently supported deregulation of both Wall Street and corporate giants and has supported huge tax cuts for those who need them least.

His major presidential financial sponsors have been the ones he faithfully protected. When his presidential campaign nearly collapsed a year ago, he wooed the culturally conservative base of his party to revive it. Now he is resurrecting himself as the maverick he was before his long quest for the presidency compromised his earlier principles.
Paraphrasing I.F. Stone, Wiseman calls the Bush-McCain approach "socialism for the rich and free enterprise for the rest of us."

Had I known John had written this letter, when I saw him at our party last night, I'd have commended him.