Category: Off Topic

Singing With Dick Gregory in Fayetteville, NC

We Shall Overcome we shall overcome we shall overcome someday Oh, deep in my heart I do believe we shall overcome someday We shall live in peace we shall live in peace we shall live in peace someday Oh, deep in my heart I do believe we shall live in peace...

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Ethiopia at the end of World War Two

By William J. Blake With a sheltering highland on the border between desert and equatorial forest and an intermediate zone for flora, Ethiopia could be truly fertile and prosperous, given better methods of cultivation. The Soviet botanist Vavilov maintains that most of the plants used in European farming originated here. Certainly coffee did. The only economically important crop, coffee, stands at about 20,000 tons annually. Cattle, sheep, goats, and the small but strong and handsome Abyssinian horse form the basis of animal economy. The Italians, during their brief control, listed the resources of the country in iron, potash, cabinet...

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The Doctor Who Taught Longevity

Dr. Shigeaki Hinoharam  died in Tokyo on July 18 at the age of 105.  It took great restraint not to boldface half the lines in the New York Times obit by Sam Roberts. Extensive excerpts follow: Dr. Shigeaki Hinohara, who cautioned against gluttony and early retirement and vigorously championed annual medical checkups, climbing stairs regularly and just having fun — advice that helped make Japan the world leader in longevity — died on July 18 in Tokyo. Dutifully practicing the credo of physician heal thyself, he lived to 105… Dr. Hinohara was born in 1911, when the average Japanese...

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Vietnam Encore

In September a Ken Burns 10-parter is going to make the US role in Vietnam an “issue” again for a little while. Pundits and politicians will  reflect, meaninglessly, “We never really had a national conversation about Vietnam.” Pot partisans will  repeat, single-mindedly, “If anybody deserves to use cannabis for PTSD, it’s Vietnam vets.” Interviewers will say to vets, obsequiously, “Thank you for your service.”  How come they don’t say that when they interview nurses?  Anyway, here’s some background on what that war was about. —FG 1. From Typee by Herman Melville It was in the summer of 1842 that we...

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Martin Gardner

by Fred Gardner When I worked at Scientific American in the 1960s, mail addressed to Martin Gardner (no relation) often wound up on my desk. The author of the widely read “Mathematical Games” column lived in Hastings-on-Hudson and never came into the office, which was in midtown Manhattan. On a few occasions I brought him his mail. He worked in the attic, which was lined with olive drab file cabinets containing 3”-by-5” index cards. This extensive filing system, he confided, was the key to his seemingly universal knowledge. “I don’t store much up here,” he said, touching his forehead,...

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