Intl. Notebook Jul 16 2020
VISION OF THE FUTURE
What a hypnotic sight. Maybe one day we'll have a Space Force and threaten to rain fire down upon the planet.


In this photo made today in 1969, U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson, Lady Bird Johnson, Vice President Hubert Humphrey, and a crowd of others watch Apollo 11 lift off from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Back then it must have seemed almost miraculous. A bunch of theoretical scientists in the U.S. and Soviet Union said manned spaceflight would work, the politicians went, “Great—here's some billions of dollars or rubles to make it happen.” And years later it did when Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space. But Apollo 11 was the big one, in our opinion. It's one thing to toss a person into space in a hollow cannonball like Sputnik, and another bowl of pancake batter altogether to send people to another world and bring them back alive. Opinions vary, of course, but we think this flight was and remains the most important rung on humanity's celestial ladder. As things are developing, with countries reneging on their promises not to exploit space for monetary or military gain, it would be better for both the cosmos and Earth if there are no more rungs for a while. Neil Armstrong's quote, when he set foot on the moon, was, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” We've taken a giant leap backwards since then.

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Politique Diabolique Oct 4 2012
THE CAGED BIRD SINGS
Being first daughter isn’t all roses. For one thing, you have to endure second rate journalists making passes at you.


Seems about the right time to post this front from the National Enquirer that concerns itself with life in the White House. Or more specifically, with the life of first daughter Lynda Bird Johnson, who reveals she had more fun before her dad was president. Shocking? Perhaps back then it was. She says, “I wish everybody wouldn’t take such an interest in me. I sometimes wonder if all the photographers in the world have shares in Eastman Kodak. All they seem to do is shoot off film after film.” Enquirer scribe Jim Gordon doesn’t get to delve into this admission because he’s too busy trying to delve into Lynda Bird’s lady parts. The interview took place at a barbecue in Water Mill, New York, and at one point Gordon, who we’re told is 22, asks the 20-year-old Johnson out, declaring, “I’d love to date you. What’s your phone number?” She laughs it off, but Gordon isn’t finished. He starts to ask her to dance but changes his mind when he sees the Secret Service lurking.

In the end, the story feels like it’s more about Gordon than Johnson, but maybe it had to be, considering her meager quotes add up to about ninety seconds of real-world time. Probably Gordon was an aspiring freelancer who finagled his way into the function, briefly cornered Johnson, then whipped his encounter into a journalistic froth the Enquirer was only too happy to buy. It makes sense, because we can’t imagine anyone in the First Family consenting to be interviewed by a scandal rag, especially with an election mere weeks away—which we can discern from the publication date, today in 1964. But Gordon’s self promotion didn’t work, as far as we know. We can find no reference to him online, with the National Enquirer or anywhere else. As for Lynda Bird Johnson, thanks to Gordon’s non-interview readers learned little more about her than they already knew. 

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Hollywoodland Feb 6 2010
GEORGE AND THE JUNGLE
All of America seemed to want George Hamilton sent to Southeast Asia.

We’re doubling up on Confidential this weekend because we have so many. Here’s another February issue, this one from 1967, with an unusual white cover featuring actor George Hamilton. What was the big deal about him joining the army? Well, he was dating Lynda Bird Johnson, who happened to be the daughter of Lady Bird Johnson, who happened to be the wife of president Lyndon Baines Johnson. Pro-Vietnam War Confidential is urging him to prove to America that he was not passed over in the draft because of his connection to the White House.

The idea of pressing for men such as Hamilton to be inducted also made sense to the anti-war left, which believed putting the scions of high society in jeopardy would hasten the end of the country’s Asian misadventure. You see that strategy being carried out below, by three members of the Ad Hoc Committee to Draft George Hamilton. We have no data on whether pushing for more upper class draftees hastened theend of the war, and we doubt any exists. But it’s true that minority participation and casualties fell as the conflict progressed—though the numbers didn’t shift as radically as many people think.

As far as whether Hamilton’s relationship with Lynda Bird Johnson actually kept him out of Southeast Asia, officially at least, he was eventually passed permanently over because he represented the sole means of support for his mother. It's a reasonable sounding excuse—far more believable than the bunions, bone spurs, and other conditions suddenly suffered by the rich—but Confidential shreds Hamilton's deferral succintly: "As sole support of your mother you escaped the draft. Now you have $1,000,000, a Rolls Royce, and a 39-room house. So what's holding you back, tiger?"

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
February 28
1953—Watson and Crick Unravel DNA
American biologists James D. Watson and Francis Crick tell their friends that they have determined the chemical structure of DNA. The formal announcement takes place in April following publication in Nature magazine. In 1968, Watson writes The Double Helix, a non-fiction account of not only the discovery of the structure of DNA, but the personalities, conflicts and controversy surrounding the work.
February 27
1922—Challenge to Women's Voting Rights Rebuffed
In the United States, a conservative legal challenge to the nineteenth amendment to the U.S. Constitution establishing voting rights for women is rebuffed by the Supreme Court in Leser v. Garnett. The challenge was based partly on the idea of individual "states rights" to self determination. The failure of such reasoning as it applied to basic human rights created a framework for later states rights losses involving the denial of voting rights to African-Americans.
February 26
1917—First Jazz Record Is Made
In New Orleans, The Original Dixieland Jass Band records the first ever jazz record for the Victor Talking Machine Company in New York. The band was frequently billed as the "Creators of Jazz", but in reality all the members had previously played in the Papa Jack Laine bands, a group of racially mixed performers who helped form the basis of Dixieland while playing under bandleader George Laine.
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