Tag Archives: Twitter

The City Historian

11 Aug

A few months ago, our city council appointed me to the position of city historian. It was an honor to be chosen as the keeper of our historical gates. At that city council meeting, I told a story that I will never forget.

I was in a meeting about attracting tourists to our area, and someone said that we could not attract people because our city had no history. At that point, I rattled off a list of people and events from our past. When I finished, this person said that we did not have real history like a presidential home.

Forty-three people have served as president. That means that there are a ton of cities that do not have presidential homes. They have history, and they attract tourists.

At my appointment meeting, I stated my goal that no one would make that statement again.Baseball

As city historian, I have inventoried the artifacts and documents at our local museum, and I have joined our historic commission. However, I have not spread the word about our city’s interesting history.

To fix that in a small way, I started a Twitter account @LebanonHistory to share short stories about the past. If you have Twitter and are interested in history, then I would appreciate the follow.

 

Let Howard Beale Be Your Guide

29 Apr

I am addicted to Twitter. It is where I get all of my information about news, sports and entertainment. It is also where I keep up with the thoughts of friends and coworkers. However, there is something about Twitter that I have noticed.

A lot of people are mad.

Democrats are mad at Republicans for ruining the country. Republicans are mad at Democrats for ruining the country. People are mad because someone is wanting to take away their rights. People are mad and want other people’s rights taken away.

A Twitter timeline can quickly turn into a stream of rage.

A few months ago, a woman followed me, and, since we had some common relations, I followed her. Before long, I realized that she is one of those mad people who thinks Republicans are the spawn of Satan. Every tweet was filled with anger toward the people who she blamed for all of the ills of the world. There were no tweets about anything else.

After a while, I began to feel sorry for her. Is her whole life focused on political hate? I could not stand it for long and stopped following her. A few weeks later, she stopped following me.

She is just one example, and I can find plenty that come from the other side of the aisle. My point is not to disparage political ideals. It is to come to grips with the fact that the world is full of anger.

When it comes to politics, people have always gotten upset. Heck, politics is all about winners and losers, and losers usually do not walk away happily. However, in the social media world in which we live the anger has been ramped up.

Simply, people say things on Twitter that they would never say to someone’s face. It is like they are behind a protective wall and cannot be held accountable for the hateful things they say about others.

This also spills over into the world of sports. You have not seen anything until you have seen the messages that grown men send to high school kids who did not choose to play football for their favorite schools. They call them losers. They hope that they will get hurt.

The anger on social media is over the top, and I have not even mentioned Facebook, a domain in which I refuse to enter. On Twitter people only have 150 characters to spew their madness. On Facebook, they can write paragraph after paragraph. I cannot imagine what people say on that platform.

All of this brings Howard Beale to my mind. If you do not know Howard Beale, then I bet you know what he said. Howard is a character in Network, a 1970s movie about the television industry. Howard is a news anchor who becomes unhinged, and the network gives him his own show to spout his ramblings.Howard Beale

He becomes popular when he talks about the problems of the world and the frustrations they cause. He asks his audience to go to their windows and yell, “I’M MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!!

Soon, people all over the country are yelling out of their windows. I wish more people would do that. Instead of getting on social media and talking about other people, they should just go outside and yell. Then, they are relieved of their frustrations without filling my timeline with senseless anger.

I say senseless because we can get on Twitter or Facebook or a blog and talk about how terrible other people are making our world, but it is not going to stop anything. If you are really mad then get off social media and do something to fix what you think is wrong.

Of course, you could just do what Howard Beale said 40 years ago. Yell out a window.

Through the 1970s and Beyond

27 Mar

The other day, I saw something on Twitter that required further research. After a little Googling, I discovered that this information has made the Internet rounds and has been written about a bunch. However, that is not going to stop me from putting my spin on it.

Anyway, it goes like this.

In February 1970, Circus magazine pictured a bunch of people on its covered and asked if they would survive the following decade.Ty0ZdBT47

It was a morbid idea for a cover, but it has led to an interesting question. How many of them made it?

The following list is in the order of their appearance.

Johnny Cash survived the 1970s and lived until 2003. Luckily, I was able to meet him when we ran into each other in a bookstore.

Pete Townshend is still living and is about to go on another tour. I saw The Who on their last tour but left the arena disappointed.

Jim Morrison passed away in 1971 and is buried in a Parisian cemetery.

Paul McCartney is alive and recording. In fact, he just did a thing with Kanye West and Rihanna.

Grace Slick is very much alive but probably not as slick.

Bob Dylan is still around and will soon be performing in Nashville. I just read that the Country Music Hall of Fame is opening a new exhibit about him and Johnny Cash.

Janis Joplin passed away a few months after the issue hit the stands.

John Lennon made it through the 1970s but was gunned down in 1980.

Jimi Hendrix also died a few months after this issue first came out.

Johnny Winter survived the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. Unfortunately, he passed away in 2014.

Alvin Lee died one year earlier in 2013.

Ray Davies is still alive and doing his thing.

John Mayall is also still with us.

Mick Jagger just announced a stadium tour for The Rolling Stones. They will be returning to Nashville.

Elvis Presley died at Graceland in 1977. Luckily, my parents took me to one of his concerts a few years before that.

George Harrison was the second Beatle to leave us. He passed away in 2001.

Ringo Starr is still playing drums and getting help from his friends.

Charlie Watts is also still around. I wonder if he will be doing that stadium tour.

Jimmy Page is definitely alive. I read that his girlfriend is the same age he was when he appeared on that cover.

David Crosby is also in the news. A few days ago, he ran over a jogger.

What does all that mean?

It means that Circus put out a dumb cover and a dumb article.

It also means that most of these rockers, despite their crazy lifestyles, made it out of the 1970s. Of the 20 that were listed, 11 of them are still alive 45 years later. Out of the 9 who have passed away, 4 lived into the 21st Century.

Four of them passed away in the 1970s. Three of those due to drug use, and the fourth, Jim Morrison, remains a mystery.

However, I have a few questions. Who thought up this article? Did any of those featured read it? Did they get made or laugh at it?

I guess someone could ask those who are still on this earth.

A Man in Georgia Passed Away

2 Aug

A few days ago, a 93-year old man passed away in Georgia. The widower was retired from the DuPont Corporation and left behind a loving family. When the news of his death came over the Associated Press Twitter feed, I read the article and read the replies by people in the Twitterverse. I hardly ever do that. Everyone has opinions about the news of the world, and Twitter provides a platform for sharing. However, something told me that I needed to read these.

Some examples:

“Good”

“Rot in Hell”

“Mass Murderer”

What could lead to such hatred toward an elderly man who had just passed away?

Theodore “Dutch” Van Kirk was the last surviving crew member of the Enola Gay, the plane that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and introduced the world to nuclear weapons. Tens of thousands of people died instantly and more died from the radioactive effects. In the years that followed, more destructive weapons were developed, and two Super Powers pointed them at each other during the Cold War. People lived under the shadow of the bomb, and little kids learned to “Duck and Cover” at school.Duck and Cover

It was a momentous event in history and, obviously, was not humanity’s finest hour. However, I was taken aback by the hatred aimed at “Dutch” Van Kirk, who was a 24-year old navigator following orders.

Each May, a few other teachers and I lead a field trip class to New Mexico and, as part of the trip, visit Los Alamos, the place where the atomic bombs were built. We sit outside of a museum housed in one of the original buildings and discuss the Manhattan Project. During this discussion, we talk about the bombings of Japan and their aftermath. At some point, I ask them what they would have done if they were part of the decision-making process. Undoubtedly, they say that they would not have done it.

Then, I ask them to put themselves in the places of the people involved. Take away 70 years of hindsight and make a decision. When I read the Twitter responses, I tried to put myself in the place of Van Kirk.

World War II began in 1939 when he was 18 years old. He probably heard news reports of the war in Europe where Germany was bombarding London, invading Russia and killing civilians. He may also been reading about the Japanese advances in Asia and their killing of civilians. He could not have known about the Holocaust.

In 1941, Japan attacked the Pearl Harbor, but it was not only an attack of the naval base. It was an attack of the island of Oahu, which probably killed civilians. Van Kirk was 20-years old. Did he volunteer? Did he get drafted? I do not know, but I know he was trained as a navigator for bombers.

During his time in uniform, Van Kirk flew 25 bombing missions over Europe and North Africa. Undoubtedly, these were harrowing missions. I have no idea of his targets, but I know that the Allies bombed German cities. Dresden was bombed into oblivion, and over 100,000 people were killed. That is more than were killed at Hiroshima.

What does all of this mean? By 1945, Van Kirk had spent 25% of his life with the world fighting the largest war in history. It was a war where the killing of civilians became military practice for all sides. It was a war that every side tried to win at all costs.

At some point, Van Kirk found himself training in the Pacific and being told that the mission being planned could end this war – a war that had cost millions of lives and people wanted to bring to an end. In August of 1945, the orders came through to complete the mission. The man who had given the order was President Harry Truman.Harry Truman

What was Truman thinking?

He had become president a few months before and around the same time Germany had surrendered. It was then that he learned of the Manhattan Project and the weapons that it had created. As the war in the Pacific went on, the American people were getting restless. Germany had been defeated. When is the same thing going to happen to Japan?

Allied forces were getting closer to the Japanese mainland, and Truman’s advisers were telling him that an invasion could lead to a million casualties. A man that I know said that he was training for that invasion, and he, along with everyone training with him, knew that they were training to die. He never liked Truman, but, when he heard about the bombing, he loved Truman.

Truman had a decision to make. He could ask the American people to sacrifice more men in a battle like the world had never seen, or he could use a weapon that tax dollars had been spent to build.

What would happen if he agreed to the invasion, and Americans later learned that it could have been avoided?

He chose to use the atomic bomb.

Van Kirk and the rest of the Enola Gay completed their mission by dropping an atomic bomb on Hiroshima. A few days later, another plane, Bock’s Car, dropped another bomb on Nagasaki. With that, World War II came to an end, and the Cold War began.

Did Harry Truman make the right decision? I have no idea. I am not trying to justify it. I am saying that we should put ourselves in the past before judging decisions with hindsight.

Should Theodore “Dutch” Van Kirk be vilified on Twitter for the actions of his crew? I do not believe he should. He came to age during the worst war in human history and was told that he had the chance to end it. For 69 years, he lived with the memory of that mission. I have no idea what he thought about when he looked back. He was in that place at that time and did was he was ordered to do.

Maybe the people on Twitter would have done it differently, but they do not know that for a fact.

Letting My Fingers Do the Typing

20 May

I had this well-structured post ready to roll, but I am not feeling it. Honestly, it seems too mechanical, and I am in a more organic mood. It is a night to let my fingers move over the keyboard and type what comes out of them. It is like playing with a Ouija board. Put your hands on the pointer and see where the energy goes.

In college, my roommates and I decided to break out the Ouija board. It was going good for a while. We asked about the hot girls in our classes and if we had a chance with any of them. We asked stupid questions that college guys ask. Then, one of the roommates asked if the Devil was in the room with us. To make a long story short, we became convinced that our apartment was built on top of an Indian burial ground. Everyone ended up sleeping in the same room.

I think there is a Ouija board somewhere in the house.

Wait, it suddenly got quiet. My wife and stepdaughter had one of those competition shows blaring. I think it was The Voice. It could have been American Idol. Anyway, they turned it off, and things suddenly got quiet. It is almost an eerie quiet.

There is a video on my desk called Rock and Roll: The Early Days. I watched it when I was a kid, and it fascinated me. The rise of the first stars is followed by their fall. Next semester, I am teaching a class on the history of American music and knew that this is something I wanted to show. Unfortunately, it only comes in VHS format. Luckily, we still have VCR’s on campus that work.

The quotation bubble at the corner of the screen just turned orange. That means someone left a comment. I just commented on a few blogs, so it is probably a reply. I got into this blogging business to write and have found that I enjoy reading just as much. It is always good to leave a comment on a post that you find fascinating.

By the way, do you want to know how powerful blogging can be? In my last post, I complained about Nashville not having a proper amphitheater. The Tennessean just unveiled a rendering of Nashville’s new downtown amphitheater. Now, that is power.Amphitheater

I found out about that through my wife’s Facebook. A friend who read the post sent over the link and said I would like it. I do not have Facebook. I am convinced that the Devil my roommate asked the Ouija board about is the one who invented Facebook. Obviously, it does good things, but those only cover up the evil within. Do you know how many problems are started on Facebook? A bunch.

There is a local controversy going on as I type this. A well-known guy has been accused of taking $5 million from people through a fraudulent scheme. There are people on Facebook actually defending him and saying everyone makes mistakes. That is true. We all make mistakes. However, stealing $5 million from people you have known all of your life is not a mistake. It is a calculated crime. Wait, all of that is alleged.

Anyway, it is not my point to talk about an alleged crime. The point is that Facebook makes us too connected. I know it is hypocritical to say because I blog and am on Twitter, but I am going to say it. We were not meant to be that connected to everyone else.

I suppose that I am finished with this string of thought. I should get out of my office and pay attention to other people in the house.

Remember: No Matter Where You Go, There You Are

4 Mar

I have been saying that line, or something similar for many years. However, it was not until today that I realized where I picked it up.

This winter, the South has been hit with some rough weather. There has been ice, snow and freezing temperatures. However, in this little pocket of the South, we have only gotten the cold air. No precipitation. People have been calling it the Snow Dome, a shield protecting us from the fate of others.

Whenever I read something about the Snow Dome, my mind goes to the 1980s and Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, the second best movie in the Mad Max trilogy. Today, the Snow Dome failed, and ice descended upon us. I took to Twitter and blamed Aunty Entity for hiring Max to fight Master Blaster, an event that ended the Thunderdome era.Mad Max

That sparked some movie quote exchange between me and one of the Twitter folks out there. That, in turn, led me to discover that the saying I have been quoting all these years came from that movie.

Remember: no matter where you go, there you are.

When I use it, people usually look at me like I am crazy. However, I think it is a profound statement that means we cannot run away from ourselves. We all have problems and issues that need to be resolved. We have worries. We have stress. We have psychological aspects to ourselves that we would like to ignore.

Some people think they can get away from all of that by moving to another part of the world. Some people think they can get away from all of that by getting away from the people in our lives and throwing ourselves into the world of others. Some people think they can get away from all of that by losing themselves in an artificial high.

However, we cannot get away from all of that because it is all part of who we are.

No matter where you go, there you are. We cannot run away from ourselves and our internal problems. We can only face them and deal with them the best we can. Sometimes, like in my case, a good therapist is the answer, but that is not the only way.

Each of us is unique, with unique problems and unique ways of dealing with them.

Just keep in mind the wise words of Pigkiller, who I have unknowingly been quoting all of these years.Pigkiller

No matter where you go, there you are.

Block Party

22 Feb

It finally happened. Somebody blocked me on Twitter. I guess that makes me an official Twitter person. To celebrate this achievement, we are throwing a block party. We are going to have hamburgers, hot dogs and games for all. Never fear. The libations will be flowing. We will also have all kinds of special guests.

This kind of block.Concrete Block

And, this kind of block.Basketball Block

And, who can have a party without this kind of block?Toy Block

It may get really crazy with the arrival of these blocks.Lego

Of course, we have to invite the blockers.Cumberland Football

And a Blocker.Dan Blocker

To keep out the riff raff, we need a roadblock.Road Block

A great time will be had by all. Except for the blockheads who are not invited.