I didn’t subscribe, but for some reason I’m receiving Popular Mechanics Magazine, a publication I haven’t read since I was a kid back in the 1950s, so I decided to compare an issue from July 1958 with the one I received in the mail.
The classified ads were my favorite some 55 years ago and it appears they have shrunk dramatically with my recent issue consisting of just a single page compared to close to 60 in the 1950s issue. However, the whacky factor is still there with an edition a few months ago containing ads for locating buried treasure, Asian brides, and my favorite: “UFOs? Aliens? Possible Commercial Trade?”
The 1958 edition’s classifieds featured stuff that even today would make a 10-year-old boy’s eyes bug out including a “12-foot bullwhip” for $5.45; “gigantic nonpoisonous smoke bombs” for 25 cents; instructions on how to grow mushrooms in your cellar; and for fishermen a “portable and humane Supersonic Wormorino Worm Harvester” for $2.98; as well as instructions on “How to be a clown for fun and profit” by sending a $1.00 to an address in Washington, D.C. – where else?
Despite the goofy advertisements, the articles were on the serious side with those in my 1958 edition including “How to Detect Bootleg Nuclear Tests” to a futuristic story about the possibility of remote controlled garage door openers and another on how best to protect film in your camera. The 2014 issue contained equally serious stuff such as how to protect private information stored on cell phones and computers, and the best memory cards to buy for digital cameras. However, I think the editors in ’58 missed the boat when they failed to have a reporter investigate the “Supersonic Wormorino.” Also, why would readers want to know how they could detect a bootleg nuclear test unless they suspected that their neighbor Ivan’s atomic hobby was responsible for drowning out the Ed Sullivan show every Sunday?
Less is More Ms. Weathersbee! Tonyaa Weathersbee, a Jacksonville Times-Union liberal columnist, whose material is apparently overlooked by the paper’s editors and fact checkers, claims in her column (Tax breaks don’t help many people) yesterday, August 21, that Florida ranks 49th in the country in per capita state and local spending for education and that money she says should be going toward schools is instead being given to corporations in the form of tax breaks, implying that more money for schools equals better results. What Ms. Weatherbee conveniently fails to mention is that our school systems are well-managed, cost-effective and the envy of many other state educational departments across the country. A recent US Census report actually ranked Florida 42 out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia in per pupil spending for elementary and secondary education and that does not mean it has the 42nd worst K-12 education system in the country. Just the opposite says the report, which reviewed data from 2011 and showed Florida spends $8,887 per student, well below the national average of $10,560. Education Week, a national research nonprofit, reports Florida consistently ranks near the top in education quality and student progress, largely debunking the idea that more spending equals better results. By comparison, the District of Columbia spent more than twice as much per student as Florida yet has one of the worst educational rankings in the country. New Jersey, Connecticut, Alaska, Wyoming and Utah also spent double the Sunshine State while showing lesser results. And Florida is outperforming other large but higher spending states in science, math and reading according to the federally funded National Assessment of Educational Progress, proving that we are getting more than we pay for. Ms. Weatherbee appears to be free to imply whatever she wants with no fear of being called on it by the folks in charge at the Times-Union and based on her past inaccuracies, lack of research, and drawing phony-baloney conclusions, it is obvious she is not a product of our state’s frugal but high quality school system.
Teaching By the Numbers: The problem with many US school systems’ poor performance may be the fact that the number of non-teaching staff in the United States has grown by 130 percent since 1970, according to a study by the Thomas Fordham Institute. Non-teachers – more than three million strong – now comprise half of the public school workforce. Source — the Georgia Public Policy Foundation.
Will The Real Charlie Crist Please Stand Up: In 2006 while running for the Republican gubernatorial nomination Charlie Crist, former Republican and Independent and now a Democrat, I think, sent the following recorded call to potential voters: “Hi, this is Charlie Crist calling to set the record straight.. I oppose amnesty for illegal immigrants, I support traditional marriage, and I have never supported a new tax or big spending program. It’s sad that in his fourth try for governor my opponent has resorted to distortions and untruths. … Floridians need a consistent, conservative governor that they can trust. I would appreciate your vote on election day. Thank you so much and God bless you, and God bless Florida.” I have no idea what Charlie Crist is for or against these days and I’m sure his advisers are having a hard time keeping up with this guy who flip flops more than a freshly landed bass on a boat deck.
Branding A Malady: If someone tells you they suffered a heart attack, you have a fairly good idea of what they experienced, however, if they tell you they suffered a stroke, you’re not exactly sure what happened, right? For me it’s a branding issue as “heart attack” is a descriptive phrase while “stroke” is a vague term. When neurologists explained to me exactly what occurred following my stroke exactly a year ago this week it was obvious they were telling me I had a “brain attack,” a more descriptive phrase that I suggest be substituted for “stroke” as it will grab more attention and help educate the public on prevention, symptoms and care. A stroke or “brain attack” cuts off vital blood flow and oxygen to the brain and up to 80 percent of them can be prevented. And if you do have one, the sooner you are treated the better. To learn more about strokes check out the Jacksonville Baptist Medical Center site www.baptistjax.com or go the Brooks Rehabilitation site at www.brooskhealth.org. On the lighter side I’m sure many folks reading this blog will applaud my suggestion as some of their comments to me strongly imply that my opinions here are apparently the result of my “brain attack” that knocked that organ critically askew.
Thinking Out Loud: Talking with a friend at the 2nd St. North Dog Star Tavern the other day as we looked up at the ads being broadcast on TV during a football game, we wondered about the mindset of the folks that sell us the two most expensive purchases we make in our lifetimes – real estate agents and car salesmen. Realtors and real estate brokers are tested and licensed and have been, in all my dealings over the years, logical, knowledgeable, precise and patient folks that help step us through the largest purchase most of us will make will make in our lifetimes and they work with banks, other realtors, buyers, sellers, inspectors, etc. to ensure our needs are met. Their ads are usually comprehensive and their demeanor professional. On the other extreme are the automobile sales folks, who pitch you the second most expensive item we’re likely to purchase. Their TV ads, in many cases are shouting exhibitions designed to wake the neighbors with many exclaiming that they are or want to become “the number one” dealer in the city, county, region, etc. and imply that it is your job to get down to their place of business as fast as possible, to help them achieve that self-serving goal. Many also take great pride in appearing in ads with their petty wives and children, which tells us absolutely nothing about their product. And despite the fact that the Internet enables folks to gather as much information as possible about a planned car purchase, once in the dealership the pressure to buy is intense. An interesting contrast.
Speaking Of Car Dealers: This past Monday Jack Hanania, CEO of Hanania Automotive Group in Jacksonville, announced that his company has signed an endorsement agreement with Jacksonville Jaguar Quarterback Blake Bortles, the third overall pick in this year’s NFL draft, to pitch cars and that he will endorse Audi of Jacksonville and the A8 luxury car. Now, I don’t know about other folks, but I’m not about to buy an A8 Audi that costs well over $100,000 because a 22-year-old pro football player suggests that I do. He’s a celebrity football player just out of college being paid to pitch the products, not an expert on any of them. I’ve been in the public relations and advertising business all my career and have never recommended a celebrity endorsement to a client or employers because I think they are a waste of money and only pitched as expensive ego massages for the sponsoring company executives.
Is The End Of Western Civilization Near? Anthony Daniels, a London-born doctor who writes a column for the London Spectator, contributes to the Wall Street Journal and National Review and has written more than 20 books, talked about the disintegration of the traditional family, a crumbling education system and a lack of spiritual and moral guidance as ailments not just afflicting the US, but other Western countries during a speech he delivered in May in Dearborn, Michigan observing: “I used to visit the homes of poor people as part of my medical duties. Everyone lived in households with a shifting cast of members, rather than in families. If there was an adult male resident, he was generally a bird of passage with a residence of his own somewhere else. He came and went as his fancy took him. To ask a child who his father was had become an almost indelicate question. Sometimes the child would reply, “Do you mean my father at the moment?” Others would simply shake their heads, being unwilling to talk about the monster who had begot them and whom they wished at all costs to forget. By the time they are 15 or 16, twice as many children in Britain have a television as have a biological father living at home. The child may be father to the man, but the television is father to the child. Few homes were without televisions with screens as large as a cinema—sometimes more than one—and they were never turned off, so that I often felt I was examining someone in a cinema rather than in a house. But what was curious was that these homes often had no means of cooking a meal, or any evidence of a meal ever having been cooked beyond the use of a microwave, and no place at which a meal could have been eaten in a family fashion. The pattern of eating in such households was a kind of foraging in the refrigerator, as and when the mood took, with the food to be consumed sitting in front of one of the giant television screens. Not surprisingly, the members of such households were often enormously fat.” Add smart phones, iPads, etc. to this depressing scenario and we have a snapshot of our inner cities and many of the zombies we see walking the streets, heads down, eyes glued to their gizmos.
Want To Be A Shrimper For A Day? Eco Tour cruises offered by Kevin McCarthy’s Amelia River Cruises, where guests can actually help drag an authentic Otter Trawl shrimp net like those invented in Fernandina Beach and still being used in the shrimping industry, have been extended through September. While onboard one of Captain McCarthy’s catamarans during the two-hour cruise guests can view their catch and learn about each creature from a marine biologist before they release the catch back into the wild. Every person I’ve talked to who has been on one of these raves about it with many out-of-towners, particularly children, saying it was the most entertaining and best priced activity they participated in while visiting the island. For ticket information call 904/261-9972 or go to www.ameliarivercruises.com.
I want to wish you success with your new blog.
I enjoyed reading Popular Mechanics years back, but have not read one recently. I would recommend Asian brides to any man as long as they were Asian raised, I have had mine for nearly 20 great years. Should I admit to having seen three UFOs at one time? I wonder which political party Charlie Christ will join in 2016? Enough babbling for now, I need to research how to pickle green beans.
Always enjoy your notes Dave.
BTW, I believe Tanya is a member of the editorial board of TU. Since she went on that board, the drivel that comes out in their editorials is funny but unfortunately not informative.