27 Sep 2023

Not Just on Your Lawn!


Early this month….(Pennsylvania Outdoor News):

[The above] two flamingos showed up at a pond, north of St. Thomas, in Franklin County, early September. Birders from various states headed to see these first-ever-reported wild flamingos in Pennsylvania. Birders from all over the eastern United States have been flocking to see the first-ever-reported wild flamingos in Pennsylvania. Avid birder John Carter, of Chambersburg, was the first person to spot them Sept. 7. “I am beyond words right now, on my lunch break I decided to check some local ponds for shorebirds, and wouldn’t you know I would find the first reported American Flamingos in the state of Pennsylvania,” he wrote on his Facebook page. Carter also reported his find on Cornell University’s eBird.

23 Sep 2023

Plaster Reconstruction of the Floral Akroterion Crowning the Ridge of the Parthenon

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23 Sep 2023

Local Officialdom at Work


21 Sep 2023



20 Sep 2023

Beyond Meat

20 Sep 2023

2023 in Amish Country

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15 Sep 2023

Today’s Dilbert


14 Sep 2023

Television Today

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14 Sep 2023

Remembering Drunken Uncle Mac


Ron Hart penned a terrific obituary.

Since my looming family reunion will be the first one without our beloved Druncle Mac, I thought it would be nice to remember him.

He died two years ago. It turns out that a lifetime of hard drinking, carousing and three packs of Marlboros a day isn’t good for you. Who knew?

He taught me many things, mostly that when there is a problem, alcohol is not always the answer. But it should be your first guess.

Mac was an unfiltered truth-teller. There are only three things that will tell you the truth: small children, tight jeans and drunks.

Everyone but my family wants me to talk about him. But in truth, all families are just a generation or two away from an aunt who smoked cigarettes on the toilet. So here are some of my favorite Mac observations over the years:

“I have two favorite songs. One is Elvis’ rendition of ‘Dixie,’ the other is not.”
Confronted about his “drinking problem,” he said, “When you think about it, my drinking problem is really the police’s problem.”

My Druncle Mac said all the “MeToo” cases suddenly in the news were a rich man’s problem. He was so broke, he had to show an ID to pay cash for something. He said he might sue his employer, a construction company, to get some of that “MeToo” money. I asked him whom he was going to sue, and he said, “Anyone willing to settle.”

He told folks that during the Vietnam War, he was saved by a sweet Vietnamese girl when she hid him in her attic. He was in Birmingham, Alabama at the time.

Druncle Mac did not have the best relationships with women. I once asked him how he and his then-wife were doing. He said, “Ronnie, not so great. We took out large insurance policies on each other; now it’s just a waiting game.”

He drank only Pabst beer. I brought him Coors Light once and he said, “Son, that is not beer. Coors Light is the official beer of child custody hearings.”

During COVID, he got into an argument with a convenience store manager because he would not stand 6 feet from other customers on the “X” painted on the floor. He said he had seen too many “Roadrunner” episodes to fall for that.

In response to a Geico commercial during a ‘Bama game on TV that promised to save 20 percent on car insurance, Mac said that was nothing; he saved 100 percent on car insurance by leaving the scene of every accident he’d ever been in.

He would proudly say, “It only takes one drink to get me drunk. But I could never remember if it was the eleventh or twelfth drink.”

He hated Uber. He felt it allowed a whole generation of kids to let their drunk driving skills atrophy and pointed to the fact that he only had one wreck in his life while drinking. He said he had to swerve to avoid hitting a pine tree. It turned out it was the air freshener hanging from his rear-view mirror.

His politics were what you might imagine. When Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez appeared on TV spewing her socialist rants, he blamed New Yorkers for electing her and went on to ask, “How big a drunk do you have to be to elect your bartender to Congress?”


HT: Glenn Reynolds.

12 Sep 2023

Good Performance!

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From H.M.S. Pinafore (1878):

[Verse 1: Ralph, Boatswain and Carpenter together]
A British tar is a soaring soul,
As free as a mountain bird,
His energetic fist should be ready to resist
A dictatorial word.

(Ralph, Boatswain and Carpenter singing a round)
His nose should pant,
And his lip should curl,
His cheeks should flame,
And his brow should furl,
His bosom should heave,
And his heart should glow,
And his fist be ever ready for a knock-down blow.

(Ralph, Boatswain and Carpenter together, much faster now)
His nose should pant,
And his lip should curl,
His cheeks should flame,
And his brow should furl,
His bosom should heave,
And his heart should glow,
And his fist be ever ready for a knock-down blow.

[Verse 2: Ralph, Boatswain and Carpenter together]
His eyes should flash with an inborn fire,
His brow with scorn be wrung;
He never should bow down
to a domineering frown,
Or the tang of a tyrant tongue.
(Ralph, Boatswain and Carpenter singing a round)
His foot should stamp,
And his throat should growl,
His hair should twirl,
And his face should scowl;
His eyes should flash,
And his breast protrude,
And this should be his customary attitude.

(Ralph, Boatswain and Carpenter together, much faster now)
His foot should stamp,
And his throat should growl,
His hair should twirl,
And his face should scowl;
His eyes should flash,
And his breast protrude,
And this should be his customary attitude,

His attitude,
His attitude,
His attitude!

HT: Karen L. Myers.

11 Sep 2023

22 Years Ago: Rick Rescorla Saved 2700 Lives

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Captain Rescorla in action at Ia Drang, Republic of Vietnam, 15 November 1965.
photograph: Peter Arnett/AP.

Born in Hayle, Cornwall, May 27, 1939, to a working-class family, Rescorla joined the British Army in 1957, serving three years in Cyprus. Still eager for adventure, after army service, Rescorla enlisted in the Northern Rhodesia Police.

Ultimately finding few prospects for advancement in Britain or her few remaining colonies, Rescorla moved to the United States, and joined the US Army in 1963. After graduating from Officers’ Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia in 1964, he was assigned as a platoon leader to Bravo Company of the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry, Third Brigade of the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile). Rescorla’s serious approach to training and his commitment to excellence led to his men to apply to him the nickname “Hard Corps.”

The 2nd Battalion of the 7th Cavalry was sent to Vietnam in 1965, where it soon engaged in the first major battle between American forces and the North Vietnamese Army at Ia Drang.

The photograph above was used on the cover of Colonel Harold Moore’s 1992 memoir We Were Soldiers Once… and Young, made into a film starring Mel Gibson in 2002. Rescorla was omitted from the cast of characters in the film, which nonetheless made prominent use of his actual exploits, including the capture of the French bugle and the elimination of a North Vietnamese machine gun using a grenade.

For his actions in Vietnam, Rescorla was awarded the Silver Star, the Bronze Star (twice), the Purple Heart, and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry. After Vietnam, he continued to serve in the Army Reserve, rising to the rank of Colonel by the time of his retirement in 1990.

Rick Rescorla became a US citizen in 1967. He subsequently earned bachelor’s, master’s, and law degrees from the University of Oklahoma, and proceeded to teach criminal law at the University of South Carolina from 1972-1976, before he moved to Chicago to become Director of Security for Continental Illinois Bank and Trust.

In 1985, Rescorla moved to New York to become Director of Security for Dean Witter, supervising a staff of 200 protecting 40 floors in the South Tower of the World Trade Center. (Morgan Stanley and Dean Witter merged in 1997.) Rescorla produced a report addressed to New York’s Port Authority identifying the vulnerability of the Tower’s central load-bearing columns to attacks from the complex’s insecure underground levels, used for parking and deliveries. It was ignored.

On February 26, 1993, Islamic terrorists detonated a car bomb in the underground garage located below the North Tower. Six people were killed, and over a thousand injured. Rescorla took personal charge of the evacuation, and got everyone out of the building. After a final sweep to make certain that no one was left behind, Rick Rescorla was the last to step outside.


Directing the evacuation on September 11th.
Security Guards Jorge Velasquez and Godwin Forde are on the right.
photograph: Eileen Mayer Hillock.

Rescorla was 62 years old, and suffering from prostate cancer on September 11, 2001. Nonetheless, he successfully evacuated all but 6 of Morgan Stanley’s 2800 employees. (Four of the six lost included Rescorla himself and three members of his own security staff, including both the two security guards who appear in the above photo and Vice President of Corporate Security Wesley Mercer, Rescorla’s deputy.) Rescorla travelled personally, bullhorn in hand, as low as the 10th floor and as high as the 78th floor, encouraging people to stay calm and make their way down the stairs in an orderly fashion. He is reported by many witnesses to have sung “God Bless America,” “Men of Harlech, ” and favorites from Gilbert & Sullivan operettas. “Today is a day to be proud to be an American,” he told evacuees.

A substantial portion of the South Tower’s workforce had already gotten out, thanks to Rescorla’s efforts, by the time the second plane, United Airlines Flight 175, struck the South Tower at 9:02:59 AM. Just under an hour later, as the stream of evacuees came to an end, Rescorla called his best friend Daniel Hill on his cell phone, and told him that he was going to make a final sweep. Then the South Tower collapsed.

Rescorla had observed a few months earlier to Hill, “Men like us shouldn’t go out like this.” (Referring to his cancer.) “We’re supposed to die in some desperate battle performing great deeds.” And he did.


His hometown of Hayle in Cornwall has erected a memorial.

Hayle Memorial


2,996 was a project put together by blogger Dale Roe to honor each victim of the September 11, 2001 attacks. 3,061 blogs committed to posting tributes to each victim. Never Yet Melted’s tribute was to Rick Rescorla, and is republished annually.

05 Sep 2023

Always Something New Out of New Haven

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“So, you go into Yale, now you can begin to experience rejection!” warns Rachel Shin in The Atlantic.

Arrow Zhang came to Yale last fall eager to try new things. In high school, she had spent most of her free time writing and practicing piano, but at Yale, she envisioned dividing her time between activities as disparate as finance and international relations. Zhang did not anticipate how competitive Yale’s clubs would be.
She quickly learned that, not unlike the admissions process to the university itself, entrance to student clubs often requires written applications and interviews. She filled her Google Calendar with hours of info sessions and application tasks. After more than a month of nonstop auditions, applications, interviews, and even tests, Zhang found herself rejected from multiple clubs, including ones that had no obvious reason to be selective. Most of the clubs she was able to join—The Yale Herald, a dance group, the clock-tower bell-ringers —involved skills she’d already honed in high school.

“Everyone would say, You don’t need any experience to apply,” she said. “But then everyone who gets in are already pros.”

Yale’s competitive-admission clubs include many that are notoriously exclusive but also more surprising entries, such as the community-service club. One of Zhang’s rejections came from the Existential Threats Initiative, which meets to discuss issues such as climate change and AI. Zhang was turned away for not having enough experience dealing with existential threats. Her rejection email encouraged her to listen to more podcasts, such as 80,000 Hours (tagline: “In-depth conversations about the world’s most pressing problems”) or otherwise gain expertise in the field.

Ben Snyder, a recent Yale grad who co-founded Existential Threats in 2022, told me the club is simply not for beginners.

“We wanted to be more selective so we could have more advanced conversations,” said Snyder, whose expertise in this subject includes having researched the risk potential of pandemics at the Stanford Center for International Security and Cooperation last summer.

High barriers to entry are no longer just for historically elite groups on campus like secret societies and the acapella group the Whiffenpoofs, or even for club sports teams, which can field only so many players. The investing club turned away 236 people last year. The “teach kids to code” club turned away 20. The musical-improv group turned away several dozen, leaving its rejectees to find more loosely organized ways to burst into song. Half of the applicants to the magic club saw their hopes vanish into thin air.


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