DOONESBURY NAILED IT 41 YEARS AGO – BY BRAINWRAP (AND ME)

Doonesbury nailed it 41 years ago. — By Brainwrap 


 I remember this specific strip too. I was an ardent follower of Doonesbury back in those days. How ironic and sad that his material is relevant 41 years after publication. 

GOOD TO KEEP AN OPEN MIND

“Man will never reach the moon regardless of all future scientific advances.” — Dr. Lee DeForest, “Father of Radio & Grandfather of Television.”

“The bomb will never go off. I speak as an expert in explosives.” — Admiral William Leahy , U.S. Atomic Bomb Project

“There is no likelihood man can ever tap the power of the atom.” — Robert Millikan, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1923

“Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons.” — Popular Mechanics, forecasting the relentless march of science, 1949

“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” — Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943

“I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won’t last out the year.” – The editor in charge of business books for Prentice Hall, 1957

“But what is it good for?” — Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, 1968, commenting on the microchip

“640K ought to be enough for anybody.” — Bill Gates, 1981

This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.” — Western Union internal memo, 1876

“The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?” — David Sarnoff’s associates in response to his urging for investment in radio in the 1920s

“The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a ‘C,’ the idea must be feasible.” — A  Yale University  management professor in response to Fred Smith’s paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service. (Smith went on to found Federal Express Corporation)

“I’m just glad it’ll be Clark Gable who’s falling on his face and not Gary Cooper.” — Gary Cooper on his decision not to take the leading role in “Gone With The Wind”

“A cookie store is a bad idea. Besides, the market research reports say America likes crispy cookies, not soft and chewy cookies like you make.” — Response to Debbi Fields’ idea of starting Mrs. Fields’ Cookies

“We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.” — Decca Recording Co. Rejecting the Beatles, 1962

“Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.” — Lord Kelvin, president, Royal Society, 1895

Photo: Garry Armstrong

“If I had thought about it, I wouldn’t have done the experiment. The literature was full of examples that said you can’t do this.” — Spencer Silver on the work that led to the unique adhesives for 3-M “Post-It” notes

“Drill for oil? You mean drill into the ground to try and find oil? You’re crazy.” — Drillers who Edwin L. Drake tried to enlist to his project to drill for oil in 1859

“Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau.” — Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics,  Yale   University, 1929

“Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value.” — Marechal Ferdinand Foch, Professor of  Strategy,   Ecole Superieure de Guerre, France

“Everything that can be invented has been invented.” — Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899

“The super computer is technologically impossible. It would take all of the water that flows over  Niagara Falls  to cool the heat generated by the number of vacuum tubes required.” — Professor of Electrical Engineering, New York University

“I don’t know what use any one could find for a machine that would make copies of documents. It certainly couldn’t be a feasible business by itself.” — Head of IBM, refusing to back the idea, forcing the inventor to found Xerox

“Louis Pasteur’s theory of germs is ridiculous fiction.” — Pierre Pachet, Professor of Physiology at Toulouse, 1872

“The abdomen, the chest, and the brain will forever be shut from the intrusion of the wise and humane surgeon.” — Sir John Eric Ericksen, British surgeon, appointed Surgeon-Extraordinary to Queen  Victoria, 1873

“Who would want a f***ing computer to sit on their desk?” — President of Warner-Swayze, 1977

“There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.” — Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corporation, 1977

THE LONGEST RUNNING TV SHOW

For 31 years, there was a series on Channel 7 in Boston. It was my favorite show. I watched it any day I could get home from work in time. It was on several times a day, five days a week. The first performance often aired during the pre-dawn hours, while the final day’s episode might air long after most people had finished dinner and many had gone to bed.

It was “good stuff.” Garry Armstrong was a smart, thorough reporter who cared about Boston and its people. He knew everyone and they knew him. He makes jokes about being trusted … but he was trusted because he had proved he could be. He had sources. He checked with them. He knew when the a story wasn’t “right” and he was cynical about politicians and big money.

Watching Garry kept me informed about events taking place in my neighborhood, the city, and the region. I also got follow-up and background information over dinner — sometimes quite different than what had been aired. There was stuff you could broadcast, and there was stuff that he and other reporters “knew,” but couldn’t prove.

It was sometimes difficult to reconcile the star of the TV show with the tired, crabby guy who came home expecting dinner, a newspaper, and when we were lucky, a baseball game. I always knew how the star’s day had gone. I taped his pieces so he could see them when he got home. Although he covered stories, wrote them, and performed, he didn’t see them as finished pieces unless I taped them.

I watched the news as I also watched him deal with violence and the calamities that are a constant in every reporter’s life. He never got used to it. Garry was, in a regional way — a celebrity. I was the celebrity’s wife — a very different role. My job was often to be there and smile. Television “people” don’t pay much attention to anyone who isn’t part of their habitat. At a good event, I got fed too.  I even got to wear ball gowns occasionally and I met some people I would never have normally encountered in my life.

Garry covered, or was involved with, virtually every major event in New England for his run of 31 years. From the great to the tragic, he was there.

Garry and I at President Clinton's party on Martha's Vineyard

Garry and I at President Clinton’s party on Martha’s Vineyard

We have one of Garry’s three Emmy awards on a shelf behind the TV, but virtually no tape of anything that happened. I don’t remember who found the piece below, but it’s a rare viewing of him doing normal work on a normal day in the news biz. Garry’s segment appears at about 1 minute and 30 seconds into the noon news. You can fast forward and skip the intro or choose to watch from the top of the show.

That was a “live shot.”

Time passes. It’s good to have something tangible to remember. Lucky me, I still have the star himself.

On September 12, 2013, Garry Armstrong was inducted into the Massachusetts Broadcasting Hall of Fame.

We keep the plaque on the mantel. His one remaining Emmy (Channel 7 lost the other two) is on a shelf that Owen built, along with his Kauff award and one other big one, the name of which I have forgotten. Amazing the things you forget even though at some point in your life, you couldn’t imagine ever forgetting something that important. His “Silver Circle” Lifetime Emmy hangs on the wall, too and there are other awards here and there in the house.

What is important changes over time. As time marches along, life and day-to-day events become more important than whatever career you had — except on days when the guys get together to remember.

That more or less wraps it up. I think it’s going to rain today.

SEAN MUNGER – SUNN CLASSIC PICTURES: HOW HOLLYWOOD INTRODUCED AMERICA TO FAKE HISTORY

At the end of the 1970s–I was about seven years old–our family was one of the earliest in our area to get cable TV. Cable was quite a luxury in 1979, and it worked very differently than it does today: there were a few basic channels, most of which did not broadcast 24 hours a day; you had your choice of movie service (we got Showtime), and there were no commercials. Showtime was a favorite at our house. They showed a lot of movies that we were unable to see anywhere else–my dad had not yet bought our infamous CED video disc player–and it was really my first foray into the world of film. I vividly remember seeing a film on Showtime back in that era that I found quite fascinating. It was a documentary called In Search of Historic Jesus, and it was released by a strange little company called Sunn Classic Pictures. Though our family was not religious, at age seven I thought In Search of Historic Jesus was gospel (no pun intended) truth.

This was only my first encounter with Sunn Classic Pictures. A couple of years later, when videocassette players started to seep into homes and schools, I remember our social studies teacher showed us a movie to fill up some class time. The film was called The Lincoln Conspiracy and portrayed, as history, a shadowy plot by Edwin Stanton and others to ice the Great Emancipator and set up John Wilkes Booth as a patsy. The Lincoln Conspiracy was also a Sunn Classic release. A few years after that, at an other school, in the school library I found a paperback book that was a tie-in for The Lincoln Conspiracy movie. It seemed that Sunn Classic Pictures was everywhere and had a surprising reach into the classrooms and minds of America’s youth.

THE FULL MOVIE OF THE LINCOLN CONSPIRACY IS AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE, BUT JUST WATCH THE FIRST 40 SECONDS. IT WILL TELL YOU EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE FILM.

Sunn Classic was indeed big business in the late 1970s. Perhaps the only example of a film studio owned by a razor company, Sunn was a subsidiary of the Schick company that made shaving razors. Started in 1971 in Salt Lake City by a man named Rayland Jensen, Sunn specialized in family fare, making G-rated pictures for working class families who weren’t habitual moviegoers. More importantly for Sunn’s business model, they exhibited their films through a technique called “four-walling.” That is, Sunn would buy out every seat in a particular theater for a weekend or two–presumably at a discount–and then resell the seats to the public, keeping 100% of the box office take while the theater owner raked in all of the concessions. Four-walling was a fad in the film industry in the 1960s and 1970s–Orson Welles was said to be quite interested in it–and, in small-market places like Oregon and Texas, it got Sunn’s odd little films in front of more hoi polloi eyeballs than would have been possible otherwise.

At least from the standpoint of a historian, though, Sunn Classic’s catalogue proves somewhat problematic. Their first big score was the American release of a European-made documentary, an adaptation of Erich von Däniken’s fraudulent but highly popular 1968 book Chariots of the Gods?, which introduced America to the ludicrous “ancient aliens” hypothesis that has proven as difficult to eradicate as syphilis in a brothel. (In this decade, for example, I have had college students assert “ancient aliens” claims in my class on climate change). Sunn also released several other “ancient aliens” pictures including The Outer Space Connection. While Sunn’s biggest hit, 1974’s The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams, was an inoffensive and charming story about a man and the bear he loves–it even spawned a television series–some of its later releases ventured into theological and religious territory and made a number of spurious historical claims. The title of In Search of Noah’s Ark (1977) is self-explanatory. In Search of Historic Jesus was only slightly less fanciful, but still very far from historically responsible. The unhinged conspiracy theories of The Lincoln Conspiracy are scarcely worth dignifying with a refutation. Yet, in the late 1970s, Sunn basically owned these topics, and were very successful in marketing them.

THE 1979 “DOCUMENTARY” IN SEARCH OF HISTORIC JESUS WAS VERY TYPICAL OF SUNN CLASSIC PICTURES’S FARE.

In a certain sense you can’t blame them. Thinking in terms of American society and the history of the film industry, the late 1970s represented a perfect storm of cultural factors that was keen to be exploited by a company like Sunn. The final years of that decade, especially during the troubled presidency of Jimmy Carter, saw a marked resurgence in the cultural power of evangelical Protestant Christianity. This was the era in which Jerry Falwell founded the Moral Majority, Phyllis Schalfly was canvassing against equal rights for women and Anita Bryant was grinding her ax against the LGBT community. The exact sort of working-class families with young kids that Sunn saw as their target audience were, between 1976 and 1980, the kind of people who responded well to an affirmation of religious values and particularly Christian reinterpretations of history. Incidentally these were also the voters who brought Ronald Reagan to power in 1980–despite the fact that the president who Reagan unseated, Carter, a born-again Southern Baptist from Georgia, was a closer match to their values. This is one of the key stories in recent American history.

Sunn Classic, though, was not in the history business. They were (and evidently still are) in the entertainment business. Selling someone a story about a thrilling chase up the slopes of Mt. Ararat to find petrified timbers that “prove” the literal historicity of the Noah story in Genesis was an attractive business proposition in 1977, however much it may have distorted the historical realities. (There is no historical evidence for the actual existence of an Ark as described in Genesis, despite numerous attempts, most by Christian evangelicals, to find it). Whether historically responsible or not, Sunn Classic Pictures filled a cultural need incipient in its audience. History does sell, but history that validates a particular world-view tends to command a higher price in the marketplace than history done, as academics strive to do it, without as much overt bias.

SEE ORIGINAL POST AT: Sunn Classic Pictures: how Hollywood introduced America to fake history. – SEAN MUNGER

WHEN YOUR WORM HOLE APPEARS – USEFUL NOTES FOR THE TIME TRAVELER

Time travel is the ultimate addiction. One day, I realized the large window in my bedroom had become a wormhole. I flipped out.

It had begun as a day like any other. Coffee. Making sure the dogs had biscuits. Wash those few dishes in the sink. Clean out the drying rack. Look at the sky, wonder if it’s going to rain. Wondering why it matters so much anyhow. It’s just another day, right?

Then there’s the whirling twirling thing in the blinds. A vortex! While I’m standing there trying to figure out how to get into it, wondering how come they don’t appear at a more convenient location … like at floor level, for example. Am I supposed to leap over my dresser? And I need a clue how to designate when and where I want to go and return. Because I do want to return!

It turns out (surprise!) the vortex knows. Everything.

NASA’s own time machine

Just focus your mind on when, where and how long you want to be wherever it may be and voilà! The vortex takes care of the rest, like an exceptionally good travel agent, but much cheaper. The danger is going through the vortex with your brain muddled. You can wind up some strange places … not places anyone wants to be. Don’t drink and time travel! Also, you don’t have to jump or climb into the vortex. Just stand as close as you can and reach into it mentally. Cool beans, right?

If you are one of the lucky ones who’ve had a vortex appear for you, I’d like to offer you some practical advice.

  • Don’t drink, smoke dope, or take other mind-bending substances before you travel elsewhen.
  • Avoid the 14th century. It’s too depressing.
  • You should get vaccinations for defunct diseases. Talk to your doctor.
  • If you have a really cool doctor, let him or her in on the secret. Some can be bribed with an excursion of their own. And it’s a good bet you’ll eventually need medical support, so why not start out ahead?
  • Wear appropriate clothing. Layer. Sometimes the seasons aren’t predictable. A small carry-on piece of luggage in a natural fiber such as canvas is a good investment.
  • Take your camera. Take extra memory chips and backup batteries. You aren’t going to be recharging anything.
  • Leave the cell phone home. A ringing cell at the wrong moment can produce unexpected — and unpleasant — results.
  • Tell your mate what’s going on. Nothing upsets a relationship more than your appearing out of nowhere. Why not take your other half along for a couple of rides? Maybe he or she will love it too.
  • Try to land in an open area. Arriving mid-air or inside a wall or tree produces bad trips. Sometimes death. Be clear in your mind so the vortex can read you. Wherever you are going, do a little research. Google Earth and history books can be helpful in giving you good visualization capabilities.
  • Try not to lose yourself in time. If you overdo it, you can forget who you are supposed to be, who your children are, your friends, family. Everything. Most of us want to go home eventually.
  • Don’t tell everything to everybody. You want to keep the press out of it. Far out of it.
  • The future is scarier than the past. Spend time in known history before you venture forward. You’ll be glad you did.

Vortexes don’t last forever. Make the most of your opportunity while it’s available. Enjoy your travels, my friends. Welcome to TIMING OUT of life! It’s the best ride you’ll ever take.

NO MORE FAKE NEWS! I AM SAMOAN! – GARRY ARMSTRONG

I’m a Samoan. It’s something of an inside joke in local media.

Maybe you’ve heard it before and then again, maybe not. Back in the early 70’s, Boston was grappling with court ordered school desegregation and forced busing. It was a very ugly time for race relations in The Hub of the Universe. “The cradle of liberty” was under an international media microscope. Not pretty.

I was out covering the story and to my credit, everyone hated me. Black, white, and politicians — everyone thought I was on the other side. I was proud of that. It means (to me) that I was on the right side. One day, there was an incident in South Boston — also know as “Southie” — which was where all the action was taking place.

A bunch of white thugs had cornered me and my crew. They were screaming the usual epithets, throwing rocks and bottles. Moving in for a serious tune-up. It was then that I had a Mel Brooks moment. An epiphany. The angry mob quieted as I raised my hand for silence. I spoke calmly, in my best, soothing voice.

“Hey, I’m not a nig__r. I’m a Samoan!”  

My crew looked at me dubiously. Surely, no one could be that stupid. Besides, I had that infamous ironic smile on my face. The angry mob was still quiet and obviously somewhat confused. So I repeated it again, slowly and louder, so the crowd could read my lips.

“Guys, I’m not a nig__r, I’m a Samoan!”  

A brief pause and then … the crowd cheered.

“He’s not a nig__r. He is Samoan!!”  

They approached with broad smiles, offering handshakes. We got the hell out of there ASAP. Yes, they were that stupid.  To this day, many colleagues call me “The Samoan.”

Now, that was real news!!