“Silent Cal” Coolidge

Although Coolidge was known to be a skilled and effective public speaker, in private he was a man of few words and was therefore commonly referred to as “Silent Cal.” A possibly apocryphal story has it that Dorothy Parker, seated next to him at a dinner, said to him, “Mr. Coolidge, I’ve made a bet against a fellow who said it was impossible to get more than two words out of you.” His famous reply: “You lose.” It was also Parker who, upon learning that Coolidge had died, reportedly remarked, “How can they tell?” — Wikipedia

A friend of mine, noted for his monosyllabic email replies, finally prompted me to look up Calvin Coolidge in Wikipedia. The famous anecdote above is also substantially repeated on the White House “Our Presidents” web page.

Coolidge was an outspoken advocate of Civil Rights (to the extent Coolidge, who could be an effective orator in public, could ever be said to be “outspoken.”) As Vice-President, Coolidge stepped in to complete the presidential term of Warren Harding, who had died in office, and Coolidge was elected President in his own right in 1924. He declined to run for a full second term of office in 1928, one year before the market crash of 1929. Of Coolidge’s successor Herbert Hoover, Wikipedia reports:

“Coolidge had been reluctant to choose Hoover as his successor; on one occasion he remarked that ‘for six years that man has given me unsolicited advice—all of it bad’.”

Coolidge was also responsible for the quote “After all, the chief business of the American people is business.” His hands-off attitude toward the “Roaring Twenties” US economy was very popular with the business community. Decades later, the Reagan Administration picked up Coolidge as kind of a poster child for laissez-faire economics. Coming, as Coolidge’s administration had done, on the eve of America’s Great Depression, many critics believed Coolidge policies contributed to the decade-long collapse of the United States economic model before World War II. The controversy rages to this day as the United States tries to figure out who and what was really responsible for the Crash of 2008 – our worst economic meltdown since the 1930’s.

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Memo to the Kid on the Skateboard

It was nothing, really. I exited the market cautiously – I saw you and your buddies cruising my way on the sidewalk. Nothing breakneck. And then I was gone, and you were again on your way to the next great adventure.

Even though you stopped to let me pass, and I thank you for that, I could see you were annoyed. I was amused, because it was almost like me bumping into me, 55 years ago.

You see, I DO remember the inviolable sense of self that comes of attaining the great age of 10 or so. “Look out, people, can’t you see it’s me coming?” Continue reading

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Heroes and Heroines


Heroes and Heroines

Cast of characters. Light blue cell names are links to mini-bios in Writing. All others are linked to Wikipedia. The slide show has been removed due to Java vulnerabilities.

Alex Filippenko For inspiring great enthusiasm and interest in astronomy, and his investigations into the origins of the universe.
Bob Hoover For his work in aviation, showmanship, and legendary flying skills.
Frank Lloyd Wright For his groundbreaking architecture that changed the way we see homes and buildings.
Franz Schubert For the delightfully unique sense of life actualized in his Trout Quintet.
Hannah Arendt For her pioneering work on the origins of totalitarianism.
Hector Berlioz For giving up the study of medicine in favor of producing brilliantly unique classical works of music.
Jean Auel For dramatizing and popularizing the humanity and capability of our late Paleolithic forbearers, in the Clan of the Cave Bears series of novels.
Neil deGrasse Tyson For his enthusiasm and ability to communicate abstruse astronomical concepts, and his work as a science educator and spokesperson.
Philip Glass For brilliance in his prolific classical compositions and expanding musical horizons.
Randy Schilts For his brave journalism and best-selling books on AIDS, gays in the military , and Harvey Milk.
Richard Feynman For his genius at Los Alamos and CalTech, and his inspirational teaching and investigation of the frontiers of Physics.
Robert Pirsig For his insights into mind and civilization in his now-classic Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
Rosa Parks For her vision and courage in changing the world forever.
Steve Wozniak For his role in Apple that first packed the “personal computer” into a device less powerful than the modern cell phone.
Wallace Stegner For the power of his novels and writings on behalf of the great western outdoors
Yo-Yo Ma


Barack Obama


Dwight Eisenhower


For popularizing classical cello and bringing it alive to millions worldwide.

For restoring the dignity of office back to the White House, for recovering our nation from the 2008 Depression, and for restoring a sense of national caring for the other side of politics: humanity.

Brilliant commander of the WWII European theater, later the president who led us from postwar recovery into what many consider the Golden Age of the middle class and national prosperity.



Slide show by Anfy.

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