Saturday, 1 February 2014

Simply Observations

It won't appear much of anywhere....except some business journals....but VW crept up and moved ahead of GM for vehicle the last week.  There's Toyota at number one, VW now at number two, and GM at number three.  A vast lineup at VW?  That's the amazing thing about their numbers.  They have a few models....which are aimed at certain age-groups.  The cars are popular, and VW tends to sell on quality (they don't have recalls to any major extent).  A shocker for the news media?  Well....that's the thing.  You'd expect CNN and the big three TV news chat over this.  They've mentioned almost nothing, and for VW....this would be a huge moment....guys would shed a tear and talk of the long walk to number two, and how they never thought they'd be there.  For GM?  It's raises issues about how they will fare in the future.

Some smart folks did a research project on trust with news networks.  The curious thing is that the Fox New Network cleared thirty-five percent of the audience surveyed....while NBC barely cleared three percent.  The Comedy Channel's news efforts?  That's the amazing thing....they actually scored six percent.....almost double of what NBC could do.  If you'd thrown in the Cartoon Network or the Nashville Network.....they might have even pulled out more trust than NBC.  Screwed up?  Yeah, but it's best not to mention this around NBC.

Finally, some smart guys added up the numbers on liberals and conservatives.....on drinking (booze, not spring water or coffee).  It's a curious thing.  Liberals drink three times as much as conservatives.  Now, it's hard for them to stand there and come to some agreement over "why".  Maybe a liberal is suffering woes and sorrows more.  Maybe conservatives live in more dry counties (Bama for example).  Maybe a liberal sits around at bars more, while conservatives sit more in churches.  Maybe liberals just love beer more, while conservatives love Coke and Mountain Dew (and buttermilk).  Maybe liberals have more money to spend on booze, while conservatives are mostly broke.  My personal belief is that conservatives really drink five times more than liberals....but they never want to admit it to some fools doing drinking surveys.  My theory would make liberals happier to know that they aren't that big of a slush drinker.

Book Review: Letters from Alabama

By Philip Henry Gosse.

Amazon offers the  Gosse published the piece in 1859.  It was a collection of letters that he sent back home (to England) to cover this period that he served as a teacher in central Alabama in 1838 (he was twenty-eight at the time).

In the old days.....we had people who were true naturalists....who would spend hours and days consumed with passion over animal life and plants.

Gosse was one of those people with a fantastic amount of passion for nature.  He could draw upon logical conclusions, and write in vast detail.  His summaries....were a piece of art.  You can easily run across five pages of the 300-odd page book, which detail the character and physical traits of a possum.

If you had an interest of plant and animal life in Alabama in this early is a five-star book.  There is rich character and description put onto the pages.

The limitations of this book? is poorly edited.  There's probably fifty instances where you'd note something missing or bad editing.  The detail of human life or society in 1838?  It barely covers thirty pages.  You see.....his fascination was mostly of the non-human side of life.  When he does cover rural traditions, slavery, and business....there's a page or two, and then he moves onto his favorite topic.

There is a brief seven lines in the midst of the book where he notes that most know the whole economic system of Alabama is built on something of value that could fall apart and leave you bankrupt.....if slavery comes to an end.  He suggests....very strongly.....that most of the business men that he comes in contact with....realize this in 1838.

So, it's an excellent read.....if you are interested in the period of the mid-1800s of Alabama, and especially if you are a naturalist who enjoys descriptions.  The book is ninety percent don't count on much for "other" history elements on Alabama.  In this case......if your curious nature is strictly Alabama.....skip it.

Gosse will go on and write around forty publications.  

Book Review: Newport Tower: Unsettled History

By B. Lynn Brant.

This is a review of the mysterious stone tower in Newport, Rhode Island.

Folks over the decades have gone back to ask when the tower was built and what purpose was it designed for.  Well....there's no record of its construction.  Some old-timers from the 1800s remembered some odd stories of it being built in the colonial period (1700s)....but there's nothing concrete or of concrete evidence.

So Brant sits down and does a thorough review, and writes a short summary.  It's a free book off Kindle.....yeah....they actually have several thousand books that you can download for nothing.  This book is a 90-minute read, with some interesting comments that you rarely find elsewhere.

While there is no factual evidence to base claims on....there are a couple of odd things.  The unit of measurement used?  Well....there are literally dozens of ways that folks could use (from various empires and periods).  This unit of measurement for the tower?  Scottish.  The Eii.  A Eii equals 37 inches....

Yeah, this starts to make things a bit more puzzling.  This Scottish form of measurement means that a Scottish mason was at work on the place.

A master craftsman?  Yeah, that's another piece of detail.  It wasn't the work of a rookie or fly-by-night guy.....this guy knew his trade.

The last interesting detail?  Well....this detail and architecture has been shown in Scotland.  Things would start to come together now....with one twist.  These type structures of this design?  They were built from early 1300s until the late 1400s.  So.....before Columbus came along (maybe even a hundred years).....some sailors from Scotland came along, with a stonemason, and built this permanent structure.  For what purpose?  Likely as a mill....but that's left as a question.

Naturally, this begs a lot of questions.  But the author leaves the mess right there.  Unless someone digs up something else or finds more ruins around Newport.....the story is left "as is".

It's a curious book, and worth the read if you know anything about the tower.