When Ronald Reagan forgot about his adapted son Michael Reagan

In 1945, President Ronald Reagan and his first wife, the actress Jane Wyman adopted a son Michael E. Reagan. His adoption was not a happy one and he is now estranged from his family.

'Reagan: The Life' by H.W. Brands (ISBN 0385536399) ‘Reagan: The Life’ by H.W. Brands recalls Michael Raegan’s story, who as a child was “neglected as those of any famous parent. Invited to speak at his adopted son Michael’s boarding school, Reagan failed to recognise his boy under a mortar board. ‘My name is Ronald Reagan. What’s yours?’ he said. ‘Remember me?’ came the sad reply: ‘I’m your son Mike.'”

In 1964 Ronald Reagan was the commencement speaker at an exclusive preparatory school outside Scottsdale, Arizona. He was standing with several of the graduating seniors, who were invited to pose for pictures with him. He chatted to each of the graduates in turn, and to one of the boys said: “My name is Ronald Reagan. What’s yours?” The boy said, “I’m your son, Mike.” “Oh,” said Reagan. “I didn’t recognize you.”

Reagan and his first wife Wyman divorced in 1952. Michael Reagan was born in Los Angeles to Irene Flaugher, an unmarried woman from Kentucky who became pregnant through a relationship with U.S. Army corporal John Bourgholtzer. Michael Reagan is a conservative radio host and strategist for the American Republican party.

Charles Baudelaire: In Praise of Cosmetics

Charles Baudelaire introduced the idea that no woman is so beautiful that her beauty would not be enhanced by cosmetics.

Charles Baudelaire, French poet and essayist For much of the history of humanity, the wearing of cosmetics by women has been viewed, in the West at least, as something associated with harlots and stage performers (with those two professions once being considered almost equally disreputable). As an early nineteenth-century song once asserted, it is nature itself that “embellishes beauty,” so what need would a virtuous woman have for makeup?

The French poet and essayist Charles Baudelaire (1821- 67) was raised in this culture of “naturalized beauty” and never really questioned it in his early years. But then, in the 1860s, the man who coined the word “modernity” began to question what Romantic artists and writers referred to as the “supremacy of nature.” In his book, The Painter of Modern Life (1863), he turned his attention to the nature of beauty in the chapter titled “In Praise of Cosmetics.” Charles Baudelaire wrote in his “In Praise of Cosmetics” (1863,) “I am perfectly happy for those whose owlish gravity prevents them from seeking beauty in its most minute manifestations to laugh at these reflections of mine … .”

Baudelaire had always felt especially drawn to the opposite sex, and was conscious of how society’s notion of beauty was changing in an increasingly industrialized world. His essay on beauty was a little too whimsical to be taken absolutely seriously, but it was nonetheless a triumphant defense of the notion that makeup can make the beautiful even more beautiful. “External finery,” Baudelaire wrote, is “one of the signs of the primitive nobility of the human soul.” Every fash ion is “charming,” and every woman is bound by “a kind of duty” to appear magical, to astonish, and to charm her fellows. Accordingly, nature could now be imaginatively surpassed by applying black eyeliner, which “gives the eye a more decisive appearance,” and rouge, which “sets fire to the cheekbone.” Baudelaire’s emphasis on the beauty of artifice over nature marked a significant departure from the Romanticism of the first half of the century, reflecting the rise of decadence and Aestheticism, to many of whose practitioners he was a hero.

Yummy Tuscan White Bean Soup

Tasty Tuscan White Bean Soup

Tuscan cooking is exemplified by having simple food—food that is not covered in heavy sauces. Cooking is done with olive oil (not butter, as is used further north.) Olive oil is used as a salad dressing, is poured over bread, and is used in soups and stews. Beans are a staple. Sage, rosemary, and basil are popular spices.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup minced white onions
  • 4 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1/2 cup Sauvignon Blanc
  • 1 cup roasted Roma tomatoes
  • 3 cups cooked white beans (navy beans are best)
  • 1 small potato, diced (preferably Yukon Gold)
  • Water or vegetable stock
  • 1 bunch basil
  • Optional Toppings: Crispy bacon, truffle oil, kale threads, Grana Padano, fresh basil

Method

  • In a thick-bottomed pot, heat butter and olive oil
  • Cook onions and garlic until translucent. Deglaze with white wine.
  • Add tomatoes, beans and potato; cover with water or vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Simmer for 1 to 1.5 hours.
  • Remove from heat and puree in blender or food processor until smooth.
  • Refrigerate for one day before serving to allow flavors to build. Reheat and garnish with the options listed above or get creative.

The Chapel of the Transfiguration in the Grand Teton National Park

The Chapel of the Transfiguration in the Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

This rustic Episcopal Chapel of the Transfiguration was built in the summer of 1925. First services were held here on July 26 of that year, and on August 16, it was consecrated by The Rt. Reverend N. S. Thomas D.D., then Bishop of Wyoming.

The first suggestion for a chapel in this location was made about 1920 to a group seated around a campfire at the summer camp of Dr. George Woodward, of Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania. Having made a long and tiresome trip that day from their camp near the outlet of Leigh Lake to the nearest place of worship in the town of Jackson, Mrs. Woodward expressed the wish that a chapel could be built at Menor’s Ferry, which was the center of what was the “dude ranch” portion of the valley. She discussed the idea with her friend, Miss Maude Noble, who owned and later generously donated the land where the chapel stands.

Episcopal Chapel of the Transfiguration in the Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Plans for the building did not fully materialize until the early spring of 1925, when Archdeacon R.H. Balcom came to take charge of the Mission in Jackson’s Hole. He became actively interested in the idea, designed the building, and wrote of his plans to Mr. C. B. Voorhis, of Pasadena, California. Mr. Voorhis, who had a beautiful ranch on Torrey Lake, near Dubois in Wyoming, had been a lifelong friend of Bishop Thomas. He was greatly interested in the bishop’s work and had contributed significantly to the church and the first hospital in Jackson. Discussing the plans for a chapel at Menor’s Ferry with Bishop Thomas, Mr. Voorhis assured him that he and Mrs. Voorhis would be glad to finance the project. From that moment, work on the Chapel progressed rapidly.

The Chapel is built of lodgepole pine, with pews of quaking aspen, cut in the valley. Above the altar is a plate glass reredos window framing the Grand Tetons. For twenty-four hours every day during the tourist season, the door is open to all who come.

Chapel of the Transfiguration in the Grand Teton National Park is built of lodgepole pine with pews of quaking aspen.

The Chapel is named most appropriately in commemoration of the Gospel story of the Transfiguration (Luke 9:28–36), where we are told of Jesus going into the mountains with Peter, James and John and appearing to them in the company of Moses and Elijah, resplendent in dazzling white clothing. Then a cloud enveloped them, and a voice said, “This is My beloved Son; listen to Him.” When the cloud went away, Jesus was seen, standing alone, by His disciples.

The Altar was given as a memorial by the C.B. Voorhis family; the font was given in memory of Miss Quita Woodward; the vestibule stained glass was presented by Miss Jessie Van Brunt. The bell, cast in 1842, is from St. Barnabas Church, Irvington, N.Y. The organ was given in 2009 by those who love worshipping here.

Address all communications to St. John’s Episcopal Church Jackson Hole in Jackson, Wyoming 83001.

Ben Franklin’s Fable of The Lion And The Dog

Ben Franklin's Fable of The Lion And The Dog

In January 1770, in the London newspaper The Public Advertiser, Benjamin Franklin published a fable about a young lion cub and a large English dog traveling together on a ship.

A lion’s whelp was put on board a Guinea ship bound to America as a present to a friend in that country: it was tame and harmless as a kitten, and therefore not confined, but suffered to walk about the ship at pleasure. A stately, full-grown English mastiff, belonging to the captain, despising the weakness of the young lion, frequently took its food by force, and often turned it out of its lodging box, when he had a mind to repose therein himself The young lion nevertheless grew daily in size and strength, and the voyage being long, he became at last a more equal match for the mastiff; who continuing his insults, received a stunning blow from the lion’s paw that fetched his skin over his ears, and deterred him from any future contest with such growing strength; regretting that he had not rather secured its friendship than provoked its enmity.

'A Benjamin Franklin Reader' by Walter Isaacson (ISBN 0743273982) This is one of the many his articles, letters, hoaxes, and other pieces of political propaganda all aimed at convincing the British colonial powers that its oppressive treatment of the American colonies would sooner or later backfire. Franklin was acting in his capacity as the spokesman in London for several colonies.

Franklin “humbly inscribed” this to Lord Hillsborough, the British Secretary of State for the Colonies, who had become Franklin’s most ardent opponent.

Lord Hillsborough (Wills Hill, 1st Marquess of Downshire PC) served as the colonial secretary from 1768 to 1772, a critical period leading toward the American War of Independence.

For a great collection of the writings of Benjamin Franklin, see ‘A Benjamin Franklin Reader’ by Walter Isaacson. Not only was Franklin a self-made man, but he gave great advice about connecting with people and interacting with others both from a business and from a personal point of view.

The Best Jokes from Jerry Seinfeld

  • The Best Jokes from Jerry Seinfeld “I was the best man at the wedding. If I’m the best man, why is she marrying him?”
  • “The idea behind the tuxedo is the woman’s point of view that men are all the same; so we might as well dress them that way. That’s why a wedding is like the joining together of a beautiful, glowing bride and some guy. The tuxedo is a wedding safety device, created by women because they know that men are undependable. So in case the groom chickens out, everybody just takes one step over, and she marries the next guy.”
  • “It’s amazing that the amount of news that happens in the world every day always just exactly fits the newspaper.”
  • “Dogs are the leaders of the planet. If you see two life forms, one of them’s making a poop, the other one’s carrying it for him, who would you assume is in charge.”
  • “There’s very little advice in men’s magazines, because men don’t think there’s a lot they don’t know. Women do. Women want to learn. Men think, “I know what I’m doing, just show me somebody naked.””
  • “Sometimes the road less traveled is less traveled for a reason”
  • “According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.”
  • “What is a date really, but a job interview that lasts all night? The only difference is that in not many job interviews is there a chance you’ll wind up naked.”
  • “To me, a lawyer is basically the person that knows the rules of the country. We’re all throwing the dice, playing the game, moving our pieces around the board, but if there is a problem the lawyer is the only person who has read the inside of the top of the box.
  • “Men want the same thing from their underwear that they want from women: a little bit of support, and a little bit of freedom.”
  • “Men don’t care what’s on TV. They only care what else is on TV.”
  • “I once had a leather jacket that got ruined in the rain. Why does moisture ruin leather? Aren’t cows outside a lot of the time? When it’s raining, do cows go up to the farmhouse, “Let us in! We’re all wearing leather! Open the door! We’re going to ruin the whole outfit here!””

Proud Heritage Structure of Vidhana Soudha, Bangalore

Heritage Structure of Vidhana Soudha, Bangalore

Vidhana Soudha which houses the Karnataka state Legislature and Secretariat is the most magnificent and majestic stone building in Bangalore and perhaps in Karnataka itself. It is said that when a Russian delegation felt that Bangalore was full of European buildings and asked the then chief minister Kengal Hanumanthaiah, “Have you no architecture of your own?”

This inspired Hanumanthaiah to plan a building and the result is the Vidhana Soudha, an epitome of Hindu architecture and a synthesis of Dravidian, Hoysala, Chalukya, and Vijayanagara architectural features. Its construction began in 1952 and was completed in 1956 at an estimated cost of 1.75 crores under a team of experts headed by the chief architect B.R. Manikam. More than 5000 laborers and 1500 skilled sculptors worked on this prestigious project.

Main Dome of Vidhana Soudha The entire structure covers an area of 720 x 360 ft. In the center is an open quadrangle measuring 260 x 250 ft. It is an imposing three storied building with a cellar. Though the building can be approached from all the four sides, the eastern entrance is majestic with 40 ft.-tall columns and flight of steps. The western side has a facade of Rajasthan palaces. The four corners have four towers supporting domes topped by glittering metallic kalashas (inverted pitcher pots.) The main dome is very elegant and has the Indian National Emblem of four Asiatic lions standing back to back mounted on a circular base on the kalasha. Though grey granite is used for exterior, green, bluish, pink and black stones have been used for decoration. The interior of the Vidhana Soudha consists of a banquet hall, Legislative Assembly Hall, Legislative Council Hall, and Cabinet meeting hall in addition to many rooms for the ministers and high officers.

Illuminated Vidhana Soudha in Bangalore

The wood work is another great attraction of this building. Particularly noteworthy are the carved doors of the office of the chief minister, cabinet hall and legislature hall. They show the Karnataka School of wood work at its best which is still a living tradition. Thus Vidhana Soudha is a proud heritage building built in the 20th century testifying to the architectural and sculptural tradition of ancient Karnataka. This building is an eloquent testimony to the continuation of ancient architectural and sculptural tradition of Karnataka as practiced by the Chalukyas, Hoysalas and Vijayanagara rulers. Thus this is a modern building in ancient style of Karnataka. That is the uniqueness of this elegant building.

Any visitor to Bangalore cannot afford to miss this magnificent building, a proud heritage structure of Karnataka, particularly when it is illuminated.

Sam Walton Saw No Need for Unions at Walmart

Pro-Union Activists Protest Against Walmart's Anti-Union Policies

Walmart has always been criticized for its policies against labor unions. Supporters of unionization efforts blame workers’ reluctance to join the labor union on Walmart’s anti-union tactics such as managerial surveillance and pre-emptive closures of stores or departments that choose to unionize. Leaked internal documents show that Walmart’s strategy for fighting to keep its workers from forming unions includes instructing managers to report suspicious activity and warning workers that joining unionizing efforts could hurt them.

Walmart’s management has contended that it’s employees do not need to pay third parties to discuss problems with management as the company’s open-door policy enables employees to lodge complaints and submit suggestions all the way up the corporate ladder. Sam Walton, founder of Walmart wrote in his autobiography:

'Sam Walton: Made In America' by Sam Walton (ISBN 0553562835) I have always believed strongly that we don’t need unions at Wal-Mart. Theoretically, I understand the argument that unions try to make, that the associates need someone to represent them and so on. But historically, as unions have developed in this country, they have mostly just been divisive. They have put management on one side of the fence, employees on the other, and themselves in the middle as almost a separate business, one that depends on division between the other two camps. And divisiveness, by breaking down direct communication makes it harder to take care of customers, to be competitive, and to gain market share. The partnership we have at Wal-Mart—which includes profit sharing, incentive bonuses, discount stock purchase plans, and a genuine effort to involve the associates in the business so we can all pull together—works better for both sides than any situation I know of involving unions. I’m not saying we pay better than anybody, though we’re certainly competitive in our industry and in the regions where we’re operating; we have to be if we want to attract and keep good people. But over the long haul, our associates build value for themselves—financially and otherwise—by believing in the company and keeping it headed in the right direction. Together, we have ridden this thing pretty darned far.

Source: Sam Walton’s autobiography, Made In America

India Will Not and Must Not Become a Superpower

Indian historian and environmentalist Ramachandra Guha speaks of why India will not and must not become a superpower.

I broadly agree with Guha’s analysis about India’s last 60+ years since 1947, especially in the arena of inclusion/exclusion of communities in development process (e.g. tribals being mostly excluded), also the growing Maoism factor, and the polarization of religious communities who, unfortunately can have a foothold in mainstream politics with their religious agenda (e.g. Sangh Parivar via the BJP or the Muslim Parties such as the recently launched one by Akbaruddin Owaisi in Hyderabad).

But Guha is cautious not to completely belittle India’s progress in the last 7 decades and is in fact very hopeful of India’s future. This comes across in most of his writings.

India Flag As for Guha’s reasons why India should not become a superpower his talk mentions something to that effect. He is suspicious of superpowers because the 20th century’s experience with political/economic superpowers (Britain, USA, Russia mainly) is by and large not a good one when you see the record of colonial and post-colonial 20th century. Africa and all parts of Asia were left in tatters and the effects are still unfolding especially in the Middle East and South Asia (Indo-Pakistan conflict/ Hindu-Muslim communal rivalry).

However is it possible to define a superpower differently? Can India become a superpower of a different kind? There is no answer to this question since the model does not exist for the 21st century of such a superpower (EU is a close alternative but EU is historically unique and cannot be replicated). But the model being pursued by India since the last 20 years or a little more does not lend itself to an interpretation that India, even if it became a superpower, will be different from China or USA. And hence my opinion would be in agreement with Guha that India is better off not being a superpower but taking care of its internal issues as best as possible. This does not mean that we cannot unleash Indian potential. The day we unleash Indian potential by and for Indians will actually be the day India might actually claim “superpower” status. (There you go! a new understanding of what it means to be a superpower!)

The Rise of the Fast Casual Restaurants

Fast Casual Restaurants - Mexican concepts

Fast Casual is the fastest growing segment of the restaurant industry. They bridge a gap in the market between fast-food restaurants and casual dining restaurants. The National Restaurant Association recently endorsed a group of 15 fast casual restaurant brand executives to its newly formed Fast Casual Industry Council and recognizes it as one of the fastest-growing segments of the restaurant industry today.

With a hybrid approach, fast casual restaurant chains such as Shake Shack, Nando’s chicken restaurants, Panera Bread, Noodles & Company, Qdoba Mexican Grill, Baja Fresh, and Chipotle Mexican Grill have been winning customers by offering the following enhancements.

  1. Food Quality: They promise “fresh” food, meaning at the very least not frozen or without as much processed ingredients. Chipotle also says it uses, where possible, meat from animals raised without hormones or antibiotics, and organic and locally grown vegetables. Chipotle is at the forefront of a consumer shift toward naturally-raised proteins and organic produce. Though more costly to source, these fresh ingredients are a key source of differentiation and pricing power.
  2. Service Type: They offer diners a high level of customization, such as choosing each ingredient in a sandwich, burrito or burger. This appeals to fussy eaters and those with allergies. The service is not always as quick as at a burger joint but, it seems, quick enough. Some fast-casual chains let diners order at their tables.
  3. The Rise of the Fast Casual Restaurants Menu Prices: They have clever pricing that lets can allow optimization of profits. They offer some dishes at around the same price as those at burger joints, but they seem to be better than McDonald’s at nudging diners towards pricier dishes and extras. Fast-casual chains typically manage to squeeze 40% more out of each diner’s wallet than fast-food joints do. For example, at Chipotle, the average customer spend per visit per restaurant in 2013 stood at $11.56, one of the highest in the fast casual segment, with a growth rate of 1% over the prior year.
  4. Atmosphere and Decor: They give each outlet or store a touch of distinctiveness. This distances them in the eyes of consumers from the “corporate” feel of burger chains. For instance, Nando’s is known to decorate its restaurants with South African art. Even if not technically in the fast casual category, a reinvigorated food and beverage menu and store redesigns have improved the Starbucks customer experience, penetrated new day parts, and improved unit-level productivity metrics.

Both fast casual and quick-service both provide food order and pick-up services from a counter, which vastly improves speed of service.

We forecast that the fast-casual restaurant category to outpace the broader restaurant industry over the next several years.

Fast-casual restaurant competition is intensifying, and switching costs are nonexistent. We estimate that Mexican concepts make up nearly one fourth of the $38 billion fast-casual industry in the U.S.