It was 1969, as the first Boeing 747 double deck planes were coming off the line. I had just gone to work in the public affairs department at the HQ of the Allstate Insurance Company, in Deerfield, Il. I was initially assigned to the Accident Prevention Section, and reporting up to Don, then Allstate’s director of safety.

Don was chatting with us one day, and mentioned that Allstate had taken on part of the reinsurance for the first 747’s. Reinsurance is a way to spread risk, in which large insurance company’s like Allstate would provide insurance to back up another company’s insurance policy.

Don told us he had seen the loss projections on the early 747’s, and said that based on that, he would not be flying on them. We were stunned. I think it was several years later, after I had left Allstate and forgotten about Don’s cautionary admonition, before I booked a flight on one.

I just looked at the records of the giant craft, and since their first production, some 1500-plus 747’s have been manufactured, and 61 hulls have been lost, around 4%. However, a large percentage of those hull losses resulted in no loss of life, and many others were due to external causes such as terrorism and pilot error. In general, the planes have been incredibly safe.

But Don was right: statistics can be scary.

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From Wikipedia:

 

Historian Alexis de Tocqueville made predictions in 1840 concerning perpetual war in democratic countries. The following is from Volume 2, chapter 22, “Why Democratic Nations Naturally Desire Peace and Democratic Armies, War”, 18th paragraph, in his book, Democracy in America:

No protracted war can fail to endanger the freedom of a democratic country. Not indeed that after every victory it is to be apprehended that the victorious generals will possess themselves by force of the supreme power, after the manner of Sulla and Caesar; the danger is of another kind. War does not always give over democratic communities to military government, but it must invariably and immeasurably increase the powers of civil government; it must almost compulsorily concentrate the direction of all men and the management of all things in the hands of the administration. If it does not lead to despotism by sudden violence, it prepares men for it more gently by their habits. All those who seek to destroy the liberties of a democratic nation ought to know that war is the surest and the shortest means to accomplish it. This is the first axiom of the science.

I remember when reality TV shows were a novelty — unscripted (we thought) stuff like a peephole into life being lived. Trump’s original “Apprentice” was a fascinating look at rigorous challenges in which bright, determined young people would compete for a wonderful job. But then it turned into “Celebrity Apprentice,” wherein B-class theatrical types would do bad jokes and stumble through silly so-called challenges to win money for their charities. We tuned out, not only those televised insults to our intelligence, but to most reality shows on TV in which the real question was: who is grosser, the second-fiddle participants themselves or the disgusting worms they at.

Unfortunately, the “Celebrity Apprentice” phase of reality TV continues with the Trump administration, with it’s B-class President in the starring role, surrounded by a motley B-class assortment of lingering relatives and political hanger-ons.

But the disturbing, really anguishing dichotomy is that the “reality” on stage is not the inconsequential frivolity of those lousy TV shows, but the all-too-real reality of America on the world’s stage. I want to turn off this show, because it is as repulsive as the “Celebrity Apprentice” was compared to the original “Apprentice.” But I can’t find a channel on TV, except maybe the old comedy and talk shows of the 80-s and 90s, where I can avoid the self-destructive bad humor of the Trump administration, especially the bumbling inarticulateness of our B-class President himself. I can handle the world, but this Presidency is just too much B-class reality.

The 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, as ratified, states: “A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

I can read, and if you are reading this, so can you.

“The right of the people to keep and bear arms,” is qualified by the stipulation that: “A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state.”

So, members of the militia can keep and bear arms. Nothing is said about the general population being allowed to keep and bear arms. So where did the modern Supreme Court get the idea that the right to bear arms is not limited to the militia?

More Americans have died as a result of gun violence at home than in all our foreign wars. At least in part, we can thank the stupid Supreme Court for “interpreting” our Constitution in a way that any literate, fair-minded American would not.

Yes, we need reasonable gun safety laws, but if we and the Supreme Court were to just read the U.S. Constitution, and act accordingly, all the fuss might not be needed.

THOMAS TASCHINGER: Hef was last of Big Three that changed pop culture

Published 6:10 am, Sunday, October 1, 2017

The death of Hugh Hefner last week closed a special chapter in modern American history. He was the final survivor of the trio that changed this country forever after World War II.

Prior to that conflict, this nation had millions of people who lived on farms, rarely traveled far from home and lived basic lives.

After the war, we emerged as a modern, industrialized giant that became the greatest superpower since the Roman Empire.

While all that was happening, Hef and two other men helped change our pop culture from what we were to what we are.

One of them was Ray Kroc, the only one on this list whose name is not instantly recognizable to many. He deserves better, since he changed the way we eat.

In 1954, after he lost his job as a milk shake mixer salesman, he joined a small California hamburger chain called McDonald’s. That company had purchased eight of his mixers for one of its restaurants, and he was impressed by its cleanliness and organization.

He thought the same concept could be expanded, changing roadside dining from spotty quality to something you could rely on. It wouldn’t be great food, but it would be good food. And fast.

Kroc’s vision changed eating, and eating out, in America. McDonald’s was followed by other chain restaurants, and almost overnight it was possible to get cheap, decent chow on the run. It blended well with our fast-paced, postwar outlook, especially because it was also inextricably linked with interstate highways.

They could be credited to the second member of this trio, Dwight David Eisenhower. It was said that he was impressed by the autobahn Adolph Hitler had constructed in Germany prior to starting World War II. Ironically, that of course is the same conflict that Ike ended in Europe.

Congress authorized construction of the system in 1956, also known as the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways. The initial goal was to allow troops and trucks to move about quickly in time of war, just as in Germany. Civilian traffic, however, quickly overwhelmed it.

Getting from Point A to Point B became a lot easier. Going from one city to another no longer required the planning of a railway trip. You just got in your car and went. The postwar economy was booming, and almost everyone could afford the latest creation from Detroit.

And thanks to Ray Kroc and his copycats, you could easily grab a meal on the way.

Hugh Hefner grew up in the midst of these vast societal changes. He was also a World War II veteran, writing briefly for an Army newspaper. He is one of the last prominent members of that conflict to fade away.

In 1953, however, he was angry. Esquire magazine, where he worked as a copy editor, had denied him a $5 weekly raise. He quit in frustration and thought he’d try to publish his own magazine.

Whatever you think of Playboy, it changed Americans’ attitude toward sex. It was no longer reserved for married people, and vaguely distasteful. It was pleasurable, and singles could partake. In turn, people who had a new outlook on something so fundamental were open to other questions about what it means to be human.

Sure, eventually someone else would have caused these tectonic shifts in American life. But someone else didn’t. Kroc, Ike and Hef did. Now they are all gone.

————————–

Thomas Taschinger, TTaschigner@BeaumontEnterprise.com, is the editorial page editor of The Beaumont Enterprise. Follow him on Twitter at @PoliticalTom

Watching the latest episode of Ken Burns’s Vietnam War saga tonight,  Monday, covering the period from mid 1968 to mid 1969, I’m reminded again of how thin the “veneer” was in Presidential politics, as Nixon and Kissinger hustled to kill the fledging Paris peace talks just three days before the November election, tipping the outcome in their favor by promising the Theiu government a better peace deal under a Nixon administration. Of course, that treasonous deal by political aspirant Nixon fell thru, and 20,000, that’s right 20,000, additional Americans died before the war finally ended in 1975.

Here’s a section on that from my 2011 essay, All That Glitters, published under auspices of the Chicago Literary Club (to read it all, go to http://www.chilit.org, then “Papers” then “Papers by Author” then initial “E” then hit title of essay).

“In the summer of 1968, I learned that indeed I’d be assigned to Vietnam. I wrote to the Information Officer of the Military Assistance Command in Saigon and told him of my military and university training in PR, and asked if I might be posted as an information officer on arrival in late November.

“1968 was a turbulent, defining year in America. Martin Luther King was assassinated, then Bobby Kennedy. President Johnson had beat anti-war candidate Eugene McCarthy in the New Hampshire Democratic primary, then dropped out of the race as public support for the Vietnam War began to wane following the Tet debacle. Hubert Humphrey became the Democratic candidate, but the Democratic Presidential Convention in Chicago saw Mayor Daly brutally suppress anti-war riots in the streets, perhaps scuttling Humphrey’s chances.

“Republican Richard Nixon became the next president, just after his representatives, directed by Henry Kissinger, secretly motivated the South Vietnamese Thieu government to boycott the newly launched peace negotiations in Paris, suggesting they would get a better peace deal under a Nixon administration, according to recently released Presidential documents. The real motivation may have been to deny the Democrats the election advantage of ending the war on their watch. Whatever the intent, this had the unintended effect of extending the war for another four years, with 20,000 additional American deaths, and hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese.  It was the year of the My Lai massacre.”

Positive PR

Bradley student Shelby Brown learns self-defense techniques at an event organized by Bradley public relations seniors. (Photo provided by Kris Parks, Kuk Sool Won of Pekin)

December 6, 2016

Bradley public relations seniors find creative ways to improve the Peoria metro area each year through a friendly final project competition. Through the Ebeling PR-ize, students build relationships with local businesses and nonprofits in effort to improve the lives of local residents.

Founded by retired McDonald’s communications executive Chuck Ebeling ’66, the senior capstone challenges students to address worthy causes in the community with help from local organizations.

“This takes every class we ever took and threw it into one project,” said Kayley Koter, of Des Plaines, Illinois. “It’s a big deal because this is real life. It affects real people.”

Fall 2016 capstones targeted safety and financial concerns. One group paired area martial arts school Kuk Sool Won with the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Peoria to encourage and empower girls and young women. Another campaign paired Peoria education nonprofit Common Place with an area Mass Mutual office to promote financial basics. A third campaign promoted safe neighborhoods by passing out LED porch lights and hosting a block party with help from Ameren Illinois, Peoria Police Explorers and community advocacy organization South Side Community United for Change.

The experience pushed students outside their comfort zones as they took time to understand life and concerns of Peoria metro area residents.

“It’s good that we’re forced to get to know the city,” said Madeleine Koenig-Schappe, of Columbia, Missouri. “As we met people, we realized there were many important issues we could work on. Once we picked one, it was good to see the impact we could make, even though it was just a semester project.”

Students formed teams and functioned as full-service PR agencies for the semester. They followed the traditional PR campaign planning process from initial research to post-event analysis. Because of the small teams, students touched all elements of PR, with its marketing, advertising, event planning and business applications.

For many participants, the Ebeling competition was an introduction to nonprofit work. Though they may have volunteered for community service projects at Peoria-area organizations throughout their Bradley years, classroom and internship experiences focused on corporate PR.

As a result, the semester opened new career possibilities for people like Koter, whose group worked with Common Place.

“It was heartwarming and eye-opening to see the impact of organizations we worked with,” Koter said. “I hadn’t considered working in the nonprofit world before, but this is something I could see myself doing.”

The Ebeling PR-ize has recognized the top PR campaigns each since 2004. Previous winning teams include Hope Grandon ’11, whose competition success helped her land at the Denver Art Museum, where her team won a 2014 Silver Anvil — the top award from the Public Relations Society of America. Other past Ebeling campaigns included a voter drive and a community-building day of remembrance a year after a tornado devastated nearby Washington, Illinois.

“You’re going to have a hand up on many other graduates because of opportunity like this,” said Koenig-Schappe. “It’s really enriching to learn how to do a project in real time, with real people that produces real results.”


As the entry below from today’s Writer’s Digest dramatizes, this day in 1862 was the bloodiest in American military history. But the Vietnam War, to be dissected in tonight’s debut of the new 10-part series by Ken Burns, claimed more than twice the American lives, plus 3 million Asian lives.  Yet this country of ours continues such fruitless combats, and the waste that was Vietnam echoes in our continuing crusade in Afghanistan, now America’s longest, and perhaps must futile, war ever.

It’s the anniversary of the Battle of Antietam, fought near Sharpsburg, Maryland, along the banks of Antietam Creek (1862). It was the bloodiest single day in American military history, with nearly 23,000 casualties, and it ended in a tactical draw. One regiment, the First Texas Infantry, lost 82 percent of its men.

The 12-hour battle began at dawn, in a cornfield on David Miller’s farm. It was the first Civil War battle fought in Union Territory; the second, the Battle of Gettysburg, would happen less than a year later. Confederate General Robert E. Lee had brought troops into Maryland — which was still part of the Union, even though it was a slave state — to try to replenish his dwindling supplies. Encouraged by word of Stonewall Jackson’s capture of Harpers Ferry, Lee decided to make a stand in Sharpsburg rather than return to Confederate Virginia.

Union Major General George B. McClellan commanded twice as many troops as Lee. Not only that, but he also had a copy of Lee’s battle plan. But McClellan fumbled these advantages, failing to fully collapse the Confederates’ flanks and advance his center — which meant that more than a quarter of McClellan’s men never entered the battle. In the afternoon, Union troops advanced and a victory seemed imminent, until late-arriving Confederate reinforcements held them off. By sundown, both sides simply held their own ground. A veteran of the battle later recalled, “[The cornfield] was so full of bodies that a man could have walked through it without stepping on the ground.”

Source: KENNEDY TUNES UP FOR ILLINOIS

Speaking of Monday’s rare eclipse, I quite accidentally ran across the following exchange regarding a similar 1912 phenomenon, between Winston and Clementine Churchill:

Clementine was staying at the Hotel Bristol in Paris, where she had “flitted off with some friends,” after recovering from a miscarriage back in England. In her letter to Winston of April 17th, she commented: “It is so bright and warm, not a breath of wind & a cloudless sky. The (solar) eclipse was weird & it became very dark for a few moments. Everyone out in the street with bits of smoked glass. The light was strange and metallic, like lighting on the stage. Rosie has gone off to see a friend., and I am resting — the horror of the Titanic (which had sunk the night of 14-15 April with the loss of 1,513 lives)  overshadows everything. Goodby my Darling. Your very loving Clem.”

 

Winston wrote back April 18th from 33 Eccelston Square in London: ” My Darling — Your description of the metallic light of the eclipse is perfectly correct. I noticed it myself. It also got much colder. The Titanic disaster is the prevailing theme here. The story is a good one. The story of the great traditions of the sea towards women & children reflects nothing but honor upon our civilization. Always your loving and devoted husband, W.”

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