Thursday, May 19, 2011

Happy Birthday, Mister President.

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Happy Birthday, Mr. President

Marilyn Monroe on stage
Enlarge picture
John F. Kennedy thanking Marilyn Monroe
Today marks the 49th anniversary of Marilyn Monroe singing "Happy Birthday Mister President"  to John F. Kennedy, on Saturday, May 19, 1962. At that time, Kennedy was President of the United States. The song was featured at a celebration 10 days prior to his actual 45th birthday (May 29). In a sultry voice, Monroe sang the traditional "Happy Birthday to You" lyrics, with "Mr. President" inserted as Kennedy's name.
Monroe continued the song with a snippet from the classic song, "Thanks for the Memory", for which she had written new lyrics specifically aimed at Kennedy.
Thanks, Mr. President
For all the things you've done
The battles that you've won
The way you deal with U.S. Steel
And our problems by the ton
We thank you so much
Afterwards, President Kennedy came on stage and joked about the song, saying, "I can now retire from politics after having had Happy Birthday sung to me in such a sweet, wholesome way," alluding to Monroe's delivery, her racy dress, and her general image as a sex symbol. The song and Monroe's performance have been remembered for numerous reasons. First, it was one of her last major public appearances (Monroe died August 5, 1962). But additionally, there have been persistent rumors that President Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe had an on-going affair, giving Monroe's performance yet another layer of meaning.

And you think you're having a bad day?

This one still kills me.

The Cradle of Humankind

– by Neal McKenna © 
Every one of us has to come from somewhere and it appears we all came from South Africa. No, I’m not talking about the discovery of the Garden of Eden but rather some spectacular stone-age caves situated 45 km from Johannesburg. Long ago and far from where you are, the first hominids – upright walking “apes” – lived their lives foraging for food and keeping out of the way of ferocious predators.

Unlike the popular notion, these proto-humans did not live in caves but in the grasslands. In actuality, caves were places where these creatures died or were dragged after being attacked by wild animals like the now extinct giant hyena and saber-toothed cats. Though it was unfortunate for the individual at the time, being brought into the caves bettered the chances of their bones becoming part of the fossil record for us to observe.

The world’s richest hominid sites of SterkfonteinSwartkransKromdraai and Environs, collectively known as the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site, lie within a 47,000 hectare reserve in SA’s northwest. It is one of 851 sites around the world deemed to have such outstanding universal value, cultural and/or natural significance that they qualify for this distinction. These particular South African palaeo-anthropological sites have yielded some of the most valuable evidence of the origins of modern humans largely because they lay upon dolomite, a rock type which is slightly soluble in water. This has two fundamental consequences – the formation of both caves and fossils.

Currently, scientists believe Australopithecus Africanus were present in the Cradle 4 to 2 million years ago and it is generally accepted these hominids were ancestors of the human race. It all began in 1935 when archeologist, Robert Broom, found the first ape-man fossils at Sterkfontein. In 1938 a schoolboy brought Raymond Dart fragments of a skull from nearby Kromdraai which later were identified as Paranthropus robustus. In 1948 Broom identified the first hominid remains from the Swartkrans cave. The oldest controlled use of fire was also discovered at Swartkrans and dated back over one million years.

In 1966 Phillip Tobias began new excavations of Sterkfontein which still continue to this day and are the longest continuously-running fossil excavations in the world. In 1991 Lee Berger of Witwatersrand University discovered the first hominid specimens from the Gladysvale site making this the first new early hominid site to be discovered in South Africa in 48 years. 

In 1994 Andre Keyser discovered fossil hominids at the Drimolen site and in 1997 the near-complete Australopithecus skeleton of “Little Foot,” dating to around 3.3 million years ago was discovered by Ron Clarke. In 2001 the first hominid fossils and stone tools were discovered in-situ (in their original placeat Coopers. And, more recently at the Malapa Fossil Site in 2010, Lee Berger discovered the partial remains of two hominids (Australopithecus sediba) who lived approximately two million years ago.

The Sterkfontein Caves and Visitors’ Centre are open to visitors every day of the year except Christmas and Easter. Tours take approximately 45 minutes are immensely interesting and should not be missed when visiting South Africa.

Just click on the Magic Gopher Link

Cary GrantArchibald Leach                       
REal Names
George Burns
Nathan Birnbaum
Carey Grant or Archie Leach? -- Just ain't quite the same, is it? There's a perfectly good reason why celebrities often dumped their real names. Sometimes a birth name lacks the show-biz pizazz necessary for stardom. Like Nathan Birnbalm -- would he have been as famous as George Burns? Probably not.

Back in the thirties, forties, fifties and sixties, almost everyone in show-biz got a new name -- whether they needed it or not. Would 
Troy Donahue have been any less a stud-muffin if he had remained Merle Johnson? Dunno for sure. But somehow, seeing a movie marquee reading: "A Summer Place," starring Merle Johnson and Alexsandra Zuk, would have certainly been less scintillating. 

Woody Allen - Allen Konigsberg                    
Julie Andrews - Julia Wells                         
Frankie Avalon - Francis Avalonne
Lauren Bacall - Betty Joan Perske
Brigitte Bardot - Camille Javal
David Bowie - David Robert Jones
Mel Brooks - Mel Kaminsky
George Burns -  Nathan Birnbaum
Ellen Burstyn - Edna Gilhooley
Richard Burton - Richard Jenkins
Michael Caine - Maurice Micklewhite
Chubby Checker - Ernest Evans
Patsy Cline - Virginia Patterson Hensley
Alice Cooper - Vincent Damon Furnier
David Copperfield - David Kotkin
Elvis Costello - Declan McManus
Joan Crawford - Lucille Le Sueur
Bing Crosby - Harry Lillis Crosby
Tom Cruise - Thomas Mapother IV
Bobby Darin - Walden Robert Cassotto
Doris Day -  Doris von Kappelhoff
Sandra Dee - Alexsandra Zuck
John Denver -  Henry John Deutschendorf Jr.
Danny DeVito - Daniel Michaeli
Angie Dickinson - Angeline Brown
Troy Donahue - Merle Johnson, Jr.
Diana Dors -  Diana Fluck
Kirk Douglas - Issur Danielovitch
Bob Dylan - Robert Zimmerman
Barbara Eden - Barbara Huffman
Vince Edwards - Vicent Edward Zoino
Ron Ely - Ronald Pierce
Dale Evans - Frances Octavia Smith
Chad Everett -  Raymond Cramton
Sally Field - Sally Mahoney
Peter Finch - William Mitchell
Rhonda Fleming - Marilyn Louis
Joan Fontaine -  Joan de Havilland -- Olivia de Havilland's sister.

Glenn Ford - Gwyllyn Samuel Newton Ford
John Forsythe -  John Freund
Jodie Foster - Alicia Foster
Connie Francis -  Concetta Franconero
Judy Garland - Frances Gumm
James Garner - James Bumgarner
Crystal Gayle - Brenda Gayle Webb -- Loretta Lynn's li'l sister.
Whoopie Goldberg - Caryn Johnson
Eydie Gorme -  Edith Gormezano
Cary Grant - Archibald Leach 

Peter Graves - Peter Aurness 
Joel Grey -  Joe Katz
Jean Harlow -  Harlean Carpentier 
Rex Harrison - Reginald Carey 
Helen Hayes -  Helen Brown 
Rita Hayworth - Margarita Cansino 
Charlton Heston - Charles Carter 
William Holden - William Franklin Beedle, Jr.
Billy Holiday - Eleanora Fagan 
Judy Holliday -  Judith Tuvim 
Bob Hope - Leslie Townes Hope 
Harry Houdini - Ehrich Weiss 
Rock Hudson - Roy Scherer Jr. 
Engelbert Humperdinck -  Arnold Dorsey 
Tab Hunter - Arthur Gelien
David Janssen -  David Meyer 
Elton John -  Reginald Dwight 
Don Johnson -  Donald Wayne 
Jennifer Jones -  Phyllis Isley 
Louis Jourdan - Louis Gendre 
Danny Kaye - David Kaminsky
Boris Karloff - William Henry Pratt
Diane Keaton - Diane Hall
Howard Keel -  Harold Leek
Carole King -  Carole Klein
Larry King - Larry Zeigler
Ben Kingsley - Krishna Banji

Cheryl Ladd - Cheryl Stoppelmoor
Veronica Lake - Constance Ockleman
Dorothy Lamour -  Mary Kaumeyer
Michael Landon - Eugene Orowitz
Stan Laurel - Arthur Jefferson
Steve Lawrence - Sidney Leibowitz
Janet Leigh -  Jeanette Morrison
Jerry Lewis -  Joseph Levitch
Huey Lewis - Hugh Cregg
Hal Linden -  Harold Lipshitz
Jack Lord - John Joseph Ryan
Sophia Loren - Sophia Scicoloni - and I thought she was Irish!
Bela Lugosi - Bela Ferenc Blasko - sounds just as scary to me!!
Shirley MacLaine - Shirley Beatty - Warren's big sis.
Elle MacPherson - Eleanor Gow
Madonna - Madonna Louise Ciccone
Lee Majors - Harvey Lee Yeary II
Barry Manilow - Barry Alan Pincus
Jayne Mansfield - Vera Jane Palmer
Dean Martin - Dino Crocetti
Chico Marx - Leonard Marx
Groucho Marx - Julius Marx
Gummo Marx - Milton Marx
Harpo Marx - Adolph Marx
Zeppo Marx - Herbert Marx
Walter Matthau - Walter Matuschanskay
Audrey Meadows - Audrey Cotter
Jayne Meadows - Jayne Cotter - no, they were not the same person - sisters.
Ethel Merman - Ethel Zimmerman - this one only sounded like two people!
George Michael - Georgios Panayiotou
Ann Miller - Lucille Collier
Joni Mitchell -  Roberta Joan Anderson
Marilyn Monroe - Norma Jean Baker
Demi Moore - Demetria Guynes
Rita Moreno - Rosita Alverio
Chuck Norris - Carlos Ray
Hugh O'Brian -  Hugh Krampke
Maureen O'Hara - Maureen Fitzsimons

Patti Page - Clara Ann Fowler
Jack Palance -  Walter Palanuik
Minnie Pearl - Sarah Ophella Colley Cannon
Bernadette Peters - Bernadette Lazzaro
Edith Piaf -  Edith Gassion
Mary Pickford - Gladys Smith - Canada is still proud of her.
Stephanie Powers - Stefania Federkiewicz
Ahmad Rashad - Bobby Moore
Donna Reed - Donna Belle Mullenger
Debbie Reynolds - Mary Frances Reynolds
Joan Rivers -  Joan Sandra Molinsky
Harold Robbins - Frances Kane
Ginger Rogers -  Virginia McMath
Roy Rogers - Leonard Slye
Mickey Rooney - Joe Yule Jr.
Meg Ryan - Margaret Mary Hyra
Bobby Rydell - Robert Ridarelli
Jane Seymour - Joyce Frankenberg
Omar Sharif - Michael Shalhouz
Charlie Sheen - Carlos Irwin Estevez
Gene Simmons - Chaim Witz
Robert Stack - Robert Modini
Jean Stapleton -  Jeanne Murray
Barbara Stanwyck - Ruby Stevens
Ringo Starr - Richard Starkey
Connie Stevens - Concetta Ingolia
Sting - Gordon Sumner
Gale Storm - Josephine Cottle
Donna Summer - La Donna Gaines

Robert Taylor - Spangler Arlington Brugh
Danny Thomas - Muzyad Yakhoob
Tina Turner - Annie Mae Bullock
Twiggy - Leslie Hornby
Conway Twitty -  Harold Lloyd Jenkins
Rudolph Valentino - Rudolpho D'Antonguolla
Frankie Valli - Frank Castelluccio
Andy Warhol - Andrew Warhola
David Wayne -  Wayne McMeekan
John Wayne - Marion Michael Morrison
Raquel Welch - Raquel Tejada
Tuesday Weld - Susan Kerr-Wells
Gene Wilder - Jerome Silberman
Shelley Winters - Shirley Schrift
Wolfman Jack - Robert Smith
Stevie Wonder - Steveland Morris Hardaway
Natalie Wood - Natasha Gurdin
Jane Wyman -  Sarah Jane Fulks - the fist Mrs. Ronnie Regan.
Tammy Wynette - Wynette Pugh


- Kidnappers are not very interested in you. 
- No one expects you to run--anywhere. 
- People call at 9:00 pm and ask, Did I wake you???? 
- People no longer view you as a hypochondriac. 
- Things you buy now won't wear out. 
- You can live without sex but not your glasses.
- You get into heated arguments about pension plans.
- You quit trying to hold your stomach in no matter who walks into the room. 
- Your eyes won't get much worse.
- Your investment in health insurance is beginning to pay off. 
- Your secrets are safe with your friends because they can't remember them either.
- Your supply of brain cells is finally down to a manageable size.

The 1950s... When Nuclear Power 

was Added to Everything 

(Chinese vintage poster - complete with a glowing mother and a nuclear baby! It says "Implement the Basic National Policy," i. e. only one child per family)
Fans of the old, but still wonderful, Road Runner cartoons might remember Wile E. Coyote's favorite one-stop-shop for mayhem: The Acme Company. A clever person – not one of us, alas – once said that Acme's slogan should be "We Add Rockets To Everything."

This, in a kind of round-about way, gets us to the 1950s and the near-obsession that certain engineers had back then with a certain power source. To put it another way, their slogan should have been: "We Add Nuclear Power To Everything."

Atoms in the Air

In all fairness, at first we thought that reactors have proven – for the most part – to be pretty reliable (we are now re-evaluating this again, in view of recent Japanese disaster). Submarines, commercial power plants, and even monstrous icebreakers have proven that nuclear power can be handy if not essential. But back just a few decades ago there were plans, and even a few terrifying prototypes, that would have made the Coyote green with envy – and the rest of us shudder in terror.
(image via)
Both the US and the Soviet Union had engineers with lofty plans to keep bombers in the air indefinitely by using nuclear power. Most folks, with even a very basic knowledge of how reactors work, would think that was a bit (ahem) risky, but what's even scarier is how far along some of those plans got.

(Newsweek cover, 1957 - image via)
Take, for example, the various projects the US undertook. In one case, arguably the most advanced, they made plans to power a Convair B-36 Peacemaker bomber with a reactor. Scary? Sure, but what's even more so is that they actually flew the plane, with an operational reactor, a total of 47 times.
(images via 12)

The shielded reactor:

(image via)
While the reactor never actually powered the plane itself, plus there were huge problems to overcome, it didn’t stop the engineers from drawing up plans for a whole plethora of atomic planes (watch video):

(images credit: Allen B. Ury23)
A concept for a nuclear-powered X-6, derived from the Convair B-36 (left) and A Northrop concept for a nuclear-propelled bomber, refueling two other aircraft:

(images via)
The XB-70 Valkyrie, "almost" the World’s First Nuclear Aircraft, more info:

(image via)
More "exciting" concepts of nuclear planes (from the 1950s pages of Popular Mechanics and Mechanix Illustrated magazines)

(images via)
And of course, there was always the "Russian Answer" to American nuclear dreams: in this case it's a modified Tu-85 powered with a reactor called the Tu-119

(image via)
What was perhaps even crazier than just powered a plane with a nuclear reactor was the idea to use that power source as a weapon. Here, for example, is a beautiful representation of the Douglas 1186 System, which was supposed to use a parasite fighter to guide the warhead to the target – and keep the poor pilot from engine's radiation.

(image credit: X-Planes)
But the craziest of the crazy was the "Flying Crowbar." Not only was the Supersonic Low Altitude Missile (to be formal), aka SLAM (to be short), supposed to be a nuclear bomb deployment system but was also to use a nuclear ramjet drive as a weapon: roasting the ground under it to a Geiger-clicking nightmare while leaving a mushroom-cloud parade of bombs behind it. Shuddering, by the way, would be a perfectly appropriate response. Luckily, the Crowbar never got off the drawing board:

(images via 12)
The Soviets, in a literally sky-high dream, even envisioned a new approach to flying their reactors: use a Zeppelin! Here's a nice little propaganda piece on their ideas for an atomic airship

Atoms on Wheels

Leaving the air to the birds, other engineers had different nuclear dreams: In 1958 the Ford Motor Car Company, not satisfied with the success of the Edsel, put forth the idea of bringing radiation into the American home ... or, at least, the garage, with the Nucleon: a family car with an on-board reactor

(images via 12)

Well, then, the Year 2012, or never!!

Atoms on Rails

While some engineers played with the highways, a few looked to the rails. Though neither the United States of the Soviet Union got very far with powering a locomotive with a reactor, the USSR at least looked far enough ahead to draw up some plans

(image via)
Above right image is the American concept of nuclear train: "Of all forms of land transportation, railroads offer the greatest opportunities for the efficient use of nuclear energy." There was no doubt about it in the late 1950s. Here is a German version of the Atomic Locomotive.

(image via)
Okay, the following views are hardly accurate but think how cool it would have been to get this atomic train set for your birthday - click here.

Still other inventive types, determined to find a new use for the atom, scratched their heads and came up with quite a few interesting, if not dubious, ways of playing with nukes – but this time of the explosive variety. Plowshare is one of the most commonly quoted of those operations intended to put a smiley face in a mushroom cloud. A few of their suggested uses include what they called the Pan-Atomic Canal: in other words, using atomic bombs to widen the Panama Canal. They also suggested using nukes for mining operations, though never really solved the problem of dealing with then-radioactive ore.

"Miss Atomic Bomb," 1957 

(image via)
It's ironic that -- what with the need to urgently replace our finite and global-warming fossil fuels – that many are suggesting a new look at the power of the atom. We can only hope that we, today, can be as imaginative about it as they used to be back in the 1950s ... and a lot more responsible.
Love and Radiation: (Truly, "'Til Death Do Us Part?")

Re-blogged from Dark Roasted Blend

The Big Goodbye

No one can accuse me of being overly religious and even watching "2012" didn't get me in the mood. Like Mark Twain said - and I am paraphrasing here - "reports of my death are highly exaggerated." I think it's just about the same for Planet Earth. I think it will be safe to plan that weekend get-away. ...Oh, but wait! What's that bright light in the sky? Oh--my--gawd! It's getting bigger...

Judgment Day May 21: 

When will the world actually end?

By Eoin O'Carroll, / May 18, 2011
As you may have learned from one of the 2,000 billboards worldwide, May 21, 2011, is Judgment Day, upon which the righteous – which totals 3 percent of humanity – will be whisked away to the sweet hereafter, leaving the rest of us to weather five months of extreme natural disasters until Oct. 21, whereupon God destroys the entire universe and everyone left in it.
Skip to next paragraph

At least that's what Harold Camping says. The head of Family Radio broadcasting network, which boasts 150 outlets in the USA has what his website calls "infallible, absolute proof" that there's no point in making plans for this coming weekend. It goes like this:
Camping says because Jesus was crucified on Friday, April 1, 33 AD, and that it takes exactly 365.2422 days for the earth to complete one orbit of the sun, we can conclude that, on April 1, 2011, Jesus was crucified exactly 722,449.07 days ago. Add 51 days to this to get to May 1, and you get a figure of 722,500.07.
Round that down to the nearest integer, and you get 722,500, which is an important number because it is the square of 5 x 17 x 10 . The number five, says Camping, represents atonement. Ten represents completeness, and 17 represents heaven. Multiply all these together – twice – and you get 722,500. Therefore the apocalypse kicks off on Saturday, May 21.
Skeptics of Camping's method might ask why the date of the end of the world is linked to that of Jesus' crucifixion, why the numbers five, 10, and 17 represent what Camping claims they represent, why they should be multiplied together, why they should then be squared, and, for that matter, why the Bible would contain esoteric numerological references predicting the end of the world in the first place. They could also point out that April 1, 33 AD was actually a Wednesday, and that, under Camping's method, April 1, 2011 gets counted twice.
Others use different methods to calculate the last day. For example, Dec. 21, 2012 marks the end of the 5,125-year-long cycle in the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar, leading some people – particularly those who believe that the dating systems of pre-Columbian Americans can predict events hundreds of years in the future – to believe that the world will end on that date.

Judgment Day? 

Five failed end-of-the-world predictions

Reblogged from the Christian Science Monitor

We'll meet again, dunno where, 

dunno when...

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