Voting Day

I delivered my absentee ballot today to a nearby early voting location. As I’ve said several times, my vote probably doesn’t matter, because of where I live. Yours may be far more important.

Something odd about this ballot, for me: this is the first time that I’ve voted a straight party ticket. I voted for the candidate representing the Democratic Party in every single race. And this ballot is my response to the actions (and inactions) of President Donald Trump, and to the leaders of the Republican Party who have rolled over and allowed the president’s nonsense and villainy to run rampant and unchecked through the government and the country. (Yes, villainy: he frequently seems to think he’s still playing the villain on a reality television show, rather than realizing that he is the President of the United States, and that his words and actions have very great impact on the planet.)

I regret that my votes are against candidates, rather than for candidates (and this is also notice to the Democratic Party not to take my action in this election as an indicator of my future votes), but I’ve decided that a continuing Trump Presidency is a danger to the continued health and well-being not only of the country, but of each one of us individually. Joe Biden is not my ideal choice for President, but he is a much better choice in this election, and my vote for him and the rest of the Democratic ticket is my attempt to emphasize how much I think Donald Trump is the wrong choice in this election.


Our Most Important Books

A week or two back, a friend of mine posted on Facebook:

If you are a reader: what’s that book that is so important to you that if you can’t find your copy (say from when you read it five years ago) you just buy another like groceries. Any genre from religious/philosophical to bath-room joke book, media-tie in novel to Proust, cook-book to metahistory, graphic novel to translation of a epic (etc.).


What’s the one book you give copies of to people you Love??

I responded: I’m interested by the responses, because I don’t have any qualifying titles to add to the list. There are books I reread occasionally for the fun or the mental-popcorn nature of it (to give me a break from reality), and books I recommend (though it varies with the person receiving the recommendation and the situation), but no special book that has such a pull on my soul.

Then I mirrored his post on my own Facebook page, and the responses were phenomenal! So many, and such passion. The responses make for a fascinating list, so rather than attempting to digest or sort it, I’m sharing them here with you in no order except chronological by when someone made the suggestion. The line spaces are between respondents (so you can see that many had more than one suggestion). In some cases, my respondents offered abbreviated titles; I’ve tried to clean them up to give you the full title/author.

The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig
The Women’s Room by Marilyn French
Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein

Picking Cotton: Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption by Jennifer Thompson-Cannino, Ronald Cotton, and Erin Torneo
Revenge, A Story of Hope by Laura Blumenfeld
Finding Fish: A Memoir by Antwone Q. Fisher and Mim E. Rivas

Still Life with Woodpecker by Tom Robbins

The Grand Inquisitor by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (translated by Constance Garnett, introduction by William Hubben)

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein

Watership Down by Richard Adams
Geek Love by Katherine Dunn
Let’s Talk About Love: Why Other People Have Such Bad Taste by Carl Wilson

The Water-Method Man by John Irving

Horton Hears a Who by Dr. Seuss
The People’s Almanac (volumes 1-3) by David Wallechinsky and Irving Wallace
The Book of Lists (volumes 1-3) by by David Wallechinsky, Amy D. Wallace, Ira Basen, and Jane Farrow

The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge by Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann

Earth Abides by George R. Stewart

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Written by Herself by Harriet Ann Jacobs, writing as Linda Brent

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

We Are in a Book, or any of the other Elephant and Piggy books by Mo Willem
Small Gods by Terry Pratchett

Science and Sanity: An Introduction to Non-Aristotelian Systems and General Semantics by Alfred Korzybski

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Time Enough for Love by Robert A. Heinlein
Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank

Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

The Princess Bride by William Goldman

My Bible
Boundaries [which seems to be a series] by Henry Cloud and John Townsend
What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding by Kristin Newman

The Psychology of Everyday Things by Don Norman
Walls Around Us: The Thinking Person’s Guide to How a House Works by David Owen
The Phoenix Guards by Steven Brust

Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman

Mockingbird by Walter Tevis

Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke
Breach the Hull edited by Mike McPhail

You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay
Choice Words: How Our Language Affects Children’s Learning by Peter H. Johnston
Love of Seven Dolls by Paul Gallico

Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Rising Strong by Brene Brown

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay
Bel Canto by Ann Pratchett

The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein
Telling Lies for Fun and Profit by Lawrence Block

Time Enough for Love by Robert A. Heinlein

Job by Robert A. Heinlein

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
The Odyssey by Homer

A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Promise by Eckhart Tolle
Ask and it is Given: Learning to Manifest Your Desires by Esther Hicks and Jerry Hicks
The Non-Designer’s Design Book by Robin Williams [not the comedian]

Dune by Frank Herbert
In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash by Jean Shepherd

Galactic Patrol by E.E. “Doc” Smith

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Borgel by Daniel Pinkwater
Driven to Distraction: Recognizing and Coping with Attention Deficit Disorder from Childhood Through Adulthood by Edward M. Hallowell, MD, and John J. Ratey, MD

Lizard Music by Daniel Pinkwater
The Hoboken Chicken Emergency by Daniel Pinkwater
Borgel by Daniel Pinkwater
The Neddiad: How Neddie Took the Train, Went to Hollywood, and Saved Civilization by Daniel Pinkwater

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare

The Bible, to which someone else responded: “There’s a whole lotta ‘books’ in the Bible. Any specific book or books within? I’m partial to Proverbs myself.”

Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein

Playboy, June 1997 issue. This was later revealed to be a joke answer, but in response, another answered seriously: Playboy, September 1971 issue. And the “Women of Mensa” issue of Playboy (November 1985).

A Shropshire Lad by A.E. Housman
The Collected Poems of A.E. Housman

The Past Through Tomorrow by Robert A. Heinlein
Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke

Siddhartha by Herman Hesse

Bartlett’s Book of Familiar Quotations

The Man Who Folded Himself by David Gerrold
Wild Seed by Octavia E. Butler

A Moveable Feast by Earnest Hemingway

The Essential Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson

Hamlet by William Shakespeare

A Big Storm Knocked it Over by Laurie Colwin

Hancer’s Price Guide to Paperback Books, Third Edition by Kevin B. Hancer, R. Reginald, Rahn Kollander [this respondent also offered an explanation: “Bookscans, Ace Image Library, Abebooks can give me certain data easily enough but there’s no substitute for that book.”]
The Harmony Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rock by Nick Logan and Bob Woffinden
The Illustrated New Musical Express Encyclopedia of Rock by Nick Logan

The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice
Uhura’s Song by Janet Kagan
Mirabile by Janet Kagan
The Collected Kagan by Janet Kagan
Hellspark by Janet Kagan
The Dragon Variation by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller
Korval’s Game by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller
Agent of Change by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller

The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

The War Against the Rull by A.E. Van Vogt

The Unstrung Harp or Mr Earbrass Writes a Novel by Edward Gorey [The respondent said “I keep a stash of that book to give away. The single best description of the process of writing I have even encountered. And I’ve watched the real process A LOT.”]
The Complete Aubrey/Maturin Novels by Patrick O’Brian
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein

Hellspark by Janet Kagan
My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett
Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie
War for the Oaks by Emma Bull
Edison’s Eve: A Magical History of the Quest for Mechanical Life by Gaby Wood

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Wherever You Go There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (translated by Louise and Aylmer Maude)
The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin

East of Eden by John Steinbeck

Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes by Edith Hamilton
The Alienist by Caleb Carr
From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death by Caitlin Doughty

Gray’s Anatomy by Henry Gray

Disease Proof Your Child: Feeding Kids Right by Joel Fuhrman, MD
Go Away, Big Green Monster! by Ed Emberley
How To Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish
The Presidential Book of Lists by Ian Randal Strock [like I said, these people are my friends!]

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chodron

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White

War for the Oaks by Emma Bull

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
The Shockwave Rider by John Brunner
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein


I’m not terribly surprised that so many books on this list are science fiction and fantasy, based simply on how I connected with most of my Facebook friends. I am a little surprised that there are so many from the Self Help section of the book store.

Repeated authors and titles

That was a lot of people listing a lot of books, but there were a few that came to mind for more than one person:

Robert A. Heinlein: Job, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (three times), The Past Through Tomorrow, Starship Troopers, Stranger in a Strange Land (twice), and Time Enough for Love (twice).

Jane Austen: Pride and Prejudice three times.

J.R.R. Tolkien: three times (The Hobbit once, and The Lord of the Rings twice).

Douglas Adams: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy twice.

The Bible: twice.

Ray Bradbury: one each for Dandelion Wine and Fahrenheit 451.

Emma Bull: War for the Oaks twice.

Arthur C. Clarke: Rendezvous with Rama twice.

Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett were each mentioned twice, once for Good Omens (which they co-wrote), and once each for The Graveyard Book (Gaiman) and Small Gods (Pratchett).

Janet Kagan: two people mentioned her novel Hellspark; one of them mentioned her other two novels and her short fiction collection.

Ursula K. Le Guin: The Left Hand of Darkness twice.

Daniel Pinkwater: mentioned by two respondents. Both listed Borgel, and one listed three other titles as well.

William Shakespeare: one mentioned Hamlet, the other mentioned the complete works.

And there are those of my friends who can’t decide on a book, but still want to participate, leaving comments such as:

“All books by Georgette Heyer.”

“Heinlein is on my ‘can’t wait for next book’ list along with John Grisham.” [Unfortunately for him, Heinlein died in 1988.]

Andre Norton
Allan Eckert

“all of Salinger”

“Any of the Foundation books by Asimov.”

“All of Rex Stout.”

“No one book but [Lois McMaster] Bujold both is enjoyable and I feel like I get another layer each reread.”

Mark Helprin novels
Anthony Hecht poetry


There you have it. If you’ve been looking for a suggestion of what to read next, there are a bunch of them!

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President Etaoin Shrdlu

“Etaoin shrdlu” is a term from the era of typesetting with hot type, representing the 12 most frequently used letters in the English language. (For more background, see

Elbridge Gerry

Several places (including, for example,, note that among people’s names in the United States, the most common first initials are C, D, J, M, and R. The most common initials of last names are B, M, S and W. And the most-likely two letter combination is JB. At the other end of that spectrum, least common initials (for both first and last names) are Q, X, Y, and Z.

Portrait of Nelson Rockefeller
Nelson Rockefeller

This got me thinking about the 44 people who have been president, and the 48 who have been vice president. Among both presidents and vice presidents, the most common first initial is J. There have been ten presidents and six vice presidents whose names started with J. Among the presidents, there were six James (Madison, Monroe, Polk, Buchanan, Garfield, and Carter) and four Johns (both Adams, Tyler, and Kennedy). Well, actually five Johns, but John Calvin Coolidge used his middle name. Among the vice presidents, there were five Johns (Adams, Calhoun, Tyler, Breckinridge, and Garner) and one James (Sherman). Coolidge was also a vice president, giving us another unused John, and Vice President Dan Quayle’s full name is James Danforth Quayle.

Ulysses Grant

Among presidents, the next most common first initials are W and G (six and five, respectively). But from that list of common initials? C, D, M, and R: two, two, two, and three presidents. For vice presidents, five each used the first initials A, C, G, and H. There were one D, three Ms, and three Rs.

It’s when we get to last names that we see a significant diversion from the population at large (remember, most common are B, M, S, and W). The most common last initials among presidents are both H and T (five of each). There have been three Bs, three Ms, and two Ws, but absolutely no presidents whose last names start with S. Among vice presidents, C and B are the most popular (six C and five B), with three Ms, two Ss, and three Ws.

Zachary Taylor

To date, we have had no presidents whose last names started with D, I, Q, S, U, X, Y, or Z. And their absent first initials are: E, I, K, N, O, P, Q, S, V, X, and Y. So it’s definitely time for a President Ian Strock, right?

Among vice presidents, none have had last names starting with E, I, L, O, U, X, Y, or Z. Absent vice presidential first initials: B, F, I, K, O, P, Q, U, V, X, Y, or Z.

Dwight Eisenhower

Unique first initials: Elbridge (Gerry), Nelson (Rockefeller), Ulysses (Grant, though his birth name was Hiram), and Zachary (Taylor).

Unique last initials: (Dwight) Eisenhower, (Abraham) Lincoln, (Dan) Quayle, and (Barack) Obama. And sort of (Richard) Nixon and (Martin) Van Buren, since they’re each the only one with their last initial, but they appear on both the presidents and vice presidents lists.

Abraham Lincoln

With so many people sharing so few initials, it ought to have been common for presidents and vice presidents to share initials, right? Wrong. The only time our president and vice president shared initials was when James Buchanan and John C. Breckinridge were in office (1857-61).

Another feature that caught my eye were alliterative initials. In fiction, they’re common: Bilbo Baggins, Betty Boop, the Bunnys (Babs, Bugs, and Buster), Cliff Clavin, the Duck (Daffy, Daisy, and Donald), Fred Flintstone, Henry Higgins, Humbert Humbert, King Kong, Lana Lang and Lois Lane, the Mouses (Mickey, Mighty, and Minnie), Olive Oyl, the Pink Panther, the Pigs (Petunia and Porky), Roger Rabbit, Tiny Tim, Willie Wonka, many characters who live in the Marvel Universe*, half the supporting cast of the Harry Potter series**… and it’s not unnoticed in the realm of presidents or vice presidents, either. We’ve had presidents Woodrow Wilson (1913-21, though his unused first name was actually Thomas), Calvin Coolidge (1923-29, see above, John), Herbert Hoover (1929-33), and Ronald Reagan (1981-89). Vice Presidents: Hannibal Hamlin (1861-65), William Wheeler (1877-81), Calvin Coolidge (1921-23, again, John), Charles Curtis (1929-33), and Hubert Humphrey (1965-69).

Dan Quayle

And then there were those who were sequentially named. We had presidents James Madison (1809-17) and James Monroe (1817-25). And vice presidents Calvin Coolidge (1921-23), Charles Dawes (1925-29), and Charles Curtis (1929-33).

As for the current election, Donald Trump is the second president named with a D (after Dwight Eisenhower), and Mike Pence is the first vice president with a P on his last name. Joe Biden (already on the vice presidents’ list) would be the eleventh J president, and Kamala Harris would be the first K vice president.

Barack Obama

* : In The Big Bang Theory episode “The Excelsior Acquisition” (season 3, episode 16), Raj lists Stan Lee’s alliterative character names, including: Bruce Banner, Reed Richards, Sue Storm, Steven Strange, Otto Octavius, Silver Surfer, Peter Parker, J. Jonah Jameson Junior, Dum Dum Dugan, Green Goblin, Matt Murdock, Pepper Potts, Victor Von Doom, Millie the Model, Fantastic Four, Daredevil, Invincible Iron Man, Happy Hogan, Curt Connors, and Fin Fang Foom. (See

** : First appearing in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone: Bathilda Bagshot, Bertie Bott, Daedalus Diggle, Dudley Dursley, Filius Flitwick, Gregory Goyle, Gellert Grindelwald, Morag MacDougal, Minerva McGonagall, Marlene McKinnon, Pansy Parkinson, Padma Patil, Parvati Patil, Piers Polkiss, Poppy Pomfrey, Quirinus Quirrell, Severus Snape, Vindictus Viridian, and William “Bill” Weasley.

First appearing in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: Colin Creevey, Godric Gryffindor, Gladys Gudgeon, Helga Hufflepuff, Martin Miggs, Rowena Ravenclaw, and Salazar Slytherin.

First appearing in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: Cho Chang, Florean Fortescue, Peter Pettigrew, and Stan Shunpike.

First appearing in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Broderick Bode and Joey Jenkins.

First appearing in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Dilys Derwent, Inigo Imago, Luna Lovegood, and Willy Widdershins.

First appearing in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Arkie Alderton, Betty Braithwaite, Mary MacDonald, Ted Tonks, and Wendell Wilkins.


See also chapter 7 in my The Presidential Book of Lists, and chapter 5 in my Ranking the Vice Presidents.

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2020 Vice Presidential Debate Review

For those who are asking: yes, I did watch the vice presidential debate last night.
I thought both candidates did what they needed to do: look competent, show that they agree with and follow the lead of their presidential candidate, and not do anything too egregiously stupid. They were both there to re-assure those who have already decided which way they’re voting that that decision was the correct one.
Both candidates, it seems, let pass several opportunities to attack the other. Again, I think that’s because they weren’t there to look terribly combative (well, more combative than they have been on the campaign trail). That wasn’t the goal of the debate.
I don’t think either candidate swayed any votes, but that doesn’t really matter, and wasn’t their goal. Glancing at several post-debate analyses, it seems one thing they all had in common was a difficult time finding enough undecided voters to put together a meaningful panel.
Actually, the most surprising part of the debate, to me, is the universal agreement that “my” candidate did great, totally won the debate, and wiped the floor with the other. I haven’t seen/heard anyone say anything positive about the other candidate, or anything negative about their own. So, like our reliance on social media for news for the past decade, we continue to live in echo chambers in which differing points of view, if they’re noticed at all, are immediately dismissed as “fringe”.

John Tyler’s grandchildren

Lyon Gardiner Tyler, Jr.

Frequently, in my talks and writings about the presidents, I have mentioned that John Tyler (1790-1862), who was president from 1841 to 1845, is the earliest president to still have living grandchildren. Tyler’s first wife — with whom he had eight children — died while he was president, and he married a woman thirty years his junior while he was president. After his presidency, Tyler and his second wife, Julia, had seven children. One of the sons from his second marriage, Lyon Gardiner Tyler, also married twice, the second time to a much younger woman, and had children with both wives. Two of Lyon’s children with his second wife, Susan Ruffin, were born in the 1920s, and made John Tyler the earliest-serving president with living grandchildren.

On September 26, one of those grandchildren, Lyon Gardiner Tyler, Jr., died. Born on January 3, 1925, he was 95 years old. He served in the Navy during World War II, earned a law degree and practiced law, and then in the 1960s he earned a doctorate in history and became a teacher.

With Lyon’s death, his younger brother, Harrison Ruffin Tyler (born in 1928), is the last living grandchild of President Tyler.

Lyon’s obituary is available at this link.

Late news: President Trump tests positive for Covid-19

Off-the-top-of-my-head theorizing regarding the late-breaking news about President Trump’s health. Happy, light thoughts: rational Republicans are ecstatic that the president has a legitimate external reason to skip or cancel the upcoming debates. Darker, more sober thoughts: the president has another reason to push for a “delay” in the election.

Caveat: in addition to being a political scientist, I’m a science fiction writer, so I often theorize far beyond the probable.

For those who haven’t heard the news: senior presidential advisor Hope Hicks tested positive for Covid-19 Wednesday. About 1am Friday, President Trump Tweeted “Tonight, [Melania] and I tested positive for Covid-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately….”

At the moment, I’m watching CNN live and occasionally jumping to the other news channels. More data in this CNN article.

Things that are younger than Jimmy Carter (and a few things that are older)

Jimmy Carter

Today is October 1, 2020, retired President James Earl “Jimmy” Carter’s 96th birthday. Happy birthday, Mr. President! (Chief Justice William Rehnquist was born the same day, though he died in September 2005.)

President Carter is the longest-lived president in US history. He is the first to reach this milestone birthday (actually, he was also the first to reach the milestone birthday of 95, but I didn’t write this piece last year). He has been the oldest living president since the death of George H.W. Bush on November 30, 2018, and the longest lived president since March 21, 2019 (Bush, who was president eight years after Carter, was born 111 days before him). At the other end of that spectrum, Jimmy Carter was the youngest living president from the date of his inauguration (January 20, 1977) for 16 years (until Bill Clinton was inaugurated, on January 20, 1993).

Jimmy Carter is also the longest-retired president in US history. We elected him our 39th president in 1976, and turned him out of office in the election of 1980, so he has been a retired president for nearly 40 years (from January 20, 1981). Before 2012, the longest-retired president was Herbert Hoover, who served from 1929 to 1933, and died October 20, 1964.

Rosalynn Carter

His marriage, to Rosalynn Smith Carter, is the longest presidential marriage. They married on July 7, 1946, and eclipsed George H.W. and Barbara Bush’s record of 73 years, 102 days on October 17th of last year. Rosalynn was born in August of 1927. She is the senior living, and fifth longest-lived, First Lady.

To mark President Carter’s birthday, I want to mention a few things that are younger than he is. I think he has enough of a sense of humor to appreciate it:

breadslicerCommercially available sliced bread (beyond which many things are “the greatest since”) first came on the market in 1928, four years after Jimmy Carter. Otto Frederick Rohwedder of Davenport, Iowa, built a prototype of the first single loaf bread-slicing machine in 1912, but it was destroyed in a fire. In 1928, he finally got a working machine into production, and its first commercial use, by the Chillicothe Baking Company of Chillicothe, Missouri, came on July 7, 1928. Betty White, to whom the machine has been frequently compared of late, was born January 17, 1922 (nearly three years before President Carter).

On the day of his birth (five years before the onset of the Great Depression), in the Roaring ’20s, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 104.08 (on September 30, 2020, the DJIA closed at 27,781.70). For a closer comparison, using a simple inflation adjustor, $1.00 in 1924 is worth approximately $14.85 today (meaning that 104.08 in today’s dollars would be approximately 1,545.59).

Jimmy Carter is older than nearly half the companies that make up the 30 stocks of the Dow Jones Industrial Average (though those component companies have changed more than 50 times since the Average was first calculated in 1896). Those companies include: Amgen (founded in 1980), Apple (1976), Caterpillar (founded about six months after Jimmy Carter was born, on April 15, 1925), Cisco (1984), Home Depot (1978), Intel (1968), McDonald’s (1940), Microsoft (1975), Nike (1964), Salesforce (1999), UnitedHealth (1977), Visa (1958), and Walmart (1962). Dow component The Walt Disney Company was founded on October 16, 1923, less than a year before Jimmy Carter was born.

1924nickelIn 1924, the price of a gallon of gasoline was about 11 cents. A loaf of bread, about 9 cents. And a first class stamp (remember, no email or texting back then) was 2 cents. Today, gasoline is about $2.00 a gallon, a loaf of bread is $2.99. And first class postage is 55 cents.

Elizabeth II, Queen of the United Kingdom, was born April 21, 1926, a year and a half after Jimmy Carter. She has been Queen since 1952 (since the administration of Harry Truman). She is the longest-lived, longest-reigning English monarch. Her husband, Prince Philip, was born June 10, 1921.

1924quarterIn 1924, the US cent had the same portrait of Abraham Lincoln that we see today on the obverse, making it the only coin design that is still in use. The reverse, however, has gone through two redesigns; in 1924, it was two stalks of wheat surrounding the large words ONE CENT. The nickel had an Indian on the obverse, and a bison on the reverse. The dime had Mercury on the obverse, and a fasces on the reverse. The quarter had a standing image of Liberty on the obverse, and a flying eagle on the reverse. The half dollar had a walking Liberty image on the observe, and a standing eagle on the reverse. The dollar coin, known as the Peace Dollar, had the Goddess of Liberty on the obverse, and an eagle at rest on the reverse. At the time, the US was also minting gold coins for general circulation, in the denominations of $2.50, $5.00, $10.00, and $20.00 (the last was the classic St. Gaudens double eagle). Gold coinage ceased in 1933.

1924peacedollarIn 1924, a few months before Carter’s birth, the first Winter Olympics were held, in Chamonix, France. George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” premiered. On April 1, 1924, Adolf Hitler was sentenced to five years in jail, for his participation in the Beer Hall Putsch (though he would serve only eight months).

1924doubleeagleFirst Lieutenant Russell L. Maughan earned the Distinguished Flying Cross for a flight that took place on June 23, 1924. According to the commendation, he “departed from Mitchel Field, Long Island, New York, at 2:58 a.m. Eastern standard time, in a modified service type pursuit airplane on [a] dawn-to-dusk flight, and landed at Crissy Field, San Francisco, California, at 9:47 p.m. Pacific time, the same date. He flew over 2,540 miles in 21 hours and 48 and a half minutes, thereby making the fastest time ever made by man between New York and San Francisco.” Commercial flight time today from New York’s JFK Airport to San Francisco International is about 5 hours and 45 minutes.

Nellie Tayloe Ross

In November, 1924, Nellie Tayloe Ross of Wyoming was elected as the first woman governor in the United States.

The top grossing movies of the year were The Sea Hawk, Girl Shy, The Thief of Bagdad, and Secrets. The first Academy Awards were handed out in 1929.

Six months after Jimmy Carter was born, Scottish inventor John Logie Baird gave the first public demonstration of televised silhouette images in motion. Television was not yet a thing when Carter was born.

Yuri Gagarin, the first man to fly in space, was born in 1934. His trip took place in April 1961.

48starflagAt the time of Jimmy Carter’s birth, there were only 48 stars on the US flag. Alaska and Hawaii didn’t become states until 1959 (their stars were added to the flag, one in 1959, one in 1960).

Jimmy Carter is older than 124 of the 193 member nations of the United Nations. Carter is also older than the UN itself, which was formed in 1945.

At the time of his birth, there was no Vice President. A year before he was born, in August, 1923, President Warren Harding died, and Vice President Calvin Coolidge assumed the presidency (the 25th Amendment, providing for filling a vacancy in the Vice Presidency, was not adopted until 1967). A month after his birth, the election of 1924 gave Coolidge his own term as president.

In 1924, 67-year-old William Howard Taft was the senior living president, having served from 1909 to 1913. But at the time, he was the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (which still met in the Capitol Building; the Supreme Court building wouldn’t be built until 1935).

President Woodrow Wilson had died in February, eight months before Carter’s birth.

Herbert Hoover (1929-33) was the US Secretary of Commerce.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1933-45) was recovering from losing the Vice Presidential election of 1920, and from an attack of Guillain–Barré syndrome, which at the time was assumed to be polio, and which cost him his ability to walk.

Harry Truman (1945-53) was serving as County Court judge of Jackson County, Missouri (about to lost his bid for re-election and begin selling auto club memberships), and taking night courses at the Kansas City Law School.

Dwight Eisenhower (1953-61) was a major in the US Army, serving in the Panama Canal Zone, and about to attend the Command and General Staff College.

John Kennedy (1961-63) was 7 years old. Lyndon Johnson (1963-69) was 16. Richard Nixon (1969-74) was 11. Gerald Ford (1974-77) was 11. Ronald Reagan (Carter’s successor, 1981-89) was 13. George H.W. Bush (1989-93) was 111 days old.

Lyon Gardiner Tyler, Jr.

President John Tyler, the earliest serving president (by far) to still have living grandchildren, had been dead for 62 years. But his youngest grandchildren, Lyon Gardiner Tyler, Jr. (also born in 1924), and Harrison Ruffin Tyler (born in 1928), are still living today. President Tyler was born in 1790, served as president from 1841 to 1845, and died in 1862.

Harrison Ruffin Tyler

Jimmy Carter’s successors in the Oval Office, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, predeceased him (Reagan in 2004, Bush in 2018). Three of his living successors were born in 1946 (the first year to see the births of three US presidents), nearly 22 years after Carter (Bill Clinton on August 19, 1946; George W. Bush on July 6, 1946; and Donald Trump on June 14, 1946). Barack Obama is the youngest living president; he was born on August 4, 1961.

Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter have four children, 11 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. Once again, happy birthday, President Carter!

Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter in 2016.

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Acquiring fish

I was listening to a conversation between my mother and my niece. My mother was trying to be a teacher, while my niece was trying to be obstinate. I don’t think either one came away from the conversation satisfied.

During their conversation, my mother used the proverb “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” It got me thinking and wondering: would the proverb have nearly as much currency if the noun for the creature and the verb for acquiring the creature were different words? For instance, if it was “give a man a chicken…” or “give a man a vegetable…”? Or if the verb were “reel” or “cast”?

I’m not questioning the concept, but wondering if anyone would ever think or say it if the word fish weren’t both a noun and the verb one uses to acquire the noun.

Donald Trump: public enemy #1

“(G)et rid of the ballots and you’ll have a very … there won’t be a transfer, frankly. There’ll be a continuation.” —Donald Trump, announcing the end of American democracy on September 23, 2020.

If there were no ballots, we wouldn’t have to worry about a transfer of power, because we wouldn’t be changing presidents. We wouldn’t be voting, apparently in Donald Trump’s America, ever again. That is an incredibly clear statement of how little he values the Constitution he laughingly swore to “preserve, protect, and defend.” Donald Trump is a clear and present danger to the United States of America. He is forcing me to vote a straight Democratic ticket for the first time in my life. I urge you to do the same, to protect our Constitution, our system of government, our way of life.