Sunday, 31 January 2016

Book Review: Drinking in America

(Our Secret History) by Susan Cheever.

It is a 273 page book which you could read over in about a week.

It's a long discussion over our drinking habits.....from 1620 when the Pilgrims arrived, on up to today.

You see....we were a fairly hard-drinking crowd from day one.  If you read through Cheever's book....you come to realize this list of priorities that existed with the crowd who landed there at Plymouth Rock.

Most of us have been led to believe shelter, firewood, hunting, fishing.....all would have been priority number one.  It wasn't.  Brewing beer was the first and absolute priority.  On board the Mayflower?  Passengers stayed mostly lit up and blitzed....even the women.

Most of us would also say that these were hand-picked individuals for this enormous task of landing on the coast of the US and making something out of nothing.  Other than religious enthusiasm and a passion for alcohol consumption....there was nothing remarkable about their resumes.

Cheever covers the different periods,and how our habits changed.....intensified....and were part of our success (and failure). Drunk guys do stupid things....even taking orders to go and do something really risky and dangerous.  Drunk guys win revolutions, take on overwhelming odds with British Army regulars, and face fierce Indians in combat.

Cheever comes to the period after the Civil War and discusses the industrial revolution going on in America and how safety/accidents were now part of the failures of the nation.....when you inject drunk workers into the scenario.

For anyone who has an interest in the Revolutionary War period....the early 1800s....the Pilgrims period....and the Civil War.....I'd note this book as mandatory reading.  It will influence your perception of your ancestors and the type of lives that they actually led.

There's a great two page piece over George Washington's distillery operations and how successful his 'brand' became in the local region.

Cheever writes in a method that makes it easy to follow and keeps your interest high.  It's probably not a book I'd endorse for high school kids because it'd beg a lot of questions over how history has been written for our general consumption.  But if you have a keen interest in history....I'd put this on the top twenty "must-read" books for a history enthusiast.

The Email Story

Most news services say that 150 FBI agents are onto this Hillary email episode currently.

This would make you sit back and ponder.....where exactly is this going?

The chief issue I see is that these classified messages that went to her private account.....were directed by her.....as a cut-and-paste job.  Some office worker (perhaps several) cut and paste classified messages.  It would not be that simple, and you'd require some higher privileges.....thus more training and certification.  Whoever did it.....knew it was a violation of the security code.

The thing is....once this went out to her account....then what?  Did it get rerouted around?  Did it go to other members of the Clinton Foundation who have no government job or security clearance?  And if so.....what happened then?

I'm of the mind that the Clinton Foundation ended up with the classified information, and this was part of a pay-for-help gimmick with sponsors of the Clinton Foundation.  If you were a Saudi business enterprise and wanted inside info on the Russian oil business....the Clinton Foundation might have a folder and handy info.  If you were a Chinese sponsor of the Clinton Foundation, then you might have a big interest in such-and-such trade agreement being worked up.

The problem here (which the 150 FBI guys will eventually get to).....is if you sold classified data to someone for money (even for the Foundation donation gimmick)....it's illegal.  You could go to jail for decades.

Building a case?  It'd take months because you'd have to get to email records of the Clinton Foundation, and get one or two insiders to agree to some deal.....to rat on the others.

At some point, the FBI is going to be blunt and tell the Attorney General that they've got the goods and about 90-percent ready to hand the case to her.  The Attorney General could just decide to dump this and forbid any case.....but the FBI might accidentally hand the folder to some news organization and trigger a massive senate episode.

In the end.....I think several people are in serious jeopardy of jail-time.  Hillary's pursuit of the White House?  Finished.

First Real Flight

I am in the planning stages of a trip, and came back to review my first real flight (more than 2 hours).

At 18, I had three short trips revolving around Air Force boot-camp and the technical school after that.

So my grand trip was in January of 1978...from Charleston Air Force Base to Rhein Main Air Base....aboard a 707 (as cramped as you can get)....in full uniform....and sitting there for roughly nine hours.  I was sitting in the middle seat which just compounded this trip even more.

This was during the period when everyone smoked.....so you were continually watching people light up and huff.

The food?  Something on an aluminum tray which resembled a TV dinner but was only half that good.

On a scale of one to ten.....it was a marginal three at best.

If you count all the flights in my life.....I'm probably up around 150 point, with a dozen of them in military cargo planes.  Those were always the more ideal method of travel because you could get up and walk around the whole interior of the plane....next to the pallets or vehicles.  On one occasion, we had a Air Force fire truck in the back.

After enough of these marginal trips.....I sorta have a problem now with flight planning.  There are certain airports that I really don't care to transit through (JFK for example) and I start paying attention to the particular airframe offered for a flight (they typically don't like telling you that type of info....so you have to dig for it).  With only a few exceptions.....I can't stand to eat any food served onboard a plane (Lux-air and Air France are my exceptions).

If you've never been on an Icelandic Air flight.....you've never experienced the mayonnaise sandwich....10-percent bread, 10-percent fish, and 80-percent mayonnaise.

After a while, you learn how to gracefully step into a marginal bathroom area and somehow let your pants just fall, and do your business....then use six different steps to get the pants back up and in place.

The crazies?  I've only noted one or two people that had serious issues....either from too much alcohol or stupid behavior.

From this original Charleston flight.....after I got off the plane....I never wanted to ride another jet.  To be restricted for nine hours.....it was simply impossible.  Maybe I've conditioned myself, and the entertainment options with movies and TV shows help to pass the time.....but I still hate long-distance traveling with a passion.