DOES SOCIAL DEMOCRACY WORK?

Most of the Democratic presidential nominees espouse a plan I call DEM Plan 20. What it is, how will it work, as well as how much it will cost, we’ll try to explain.

DEM Plan 20

Of course, they would never state this plan, clearly because many Americans would recoil from it. However, the plan has been largely accepted in many parts of the world, even if the folks endorsing it don’t exactly realize what the deuce is going on.

So, here’s how it goes:

• Medicare for all! Health care is a human right! That’s what the human right designation does. Free healthcare for undocumented immigrants. Anybody who gets to our soil, the taxpayer picks up his or her medical bill.
• Free college for all, including undocumented immigrants. Anybody who gets here, goes to college free.
• You come here, you get the right to work and you don’t really have any obligation other than pay the taxes.
• Cancel student debt. You’ve got a big student debt, they are going to wipe it out. Public college, universities tuition free.
• Fifty billion dollars for black colleges and universities a year.
• Two hundred billion dollars to $500 billion a year for reparations for slavery.
• Minimum salary, $60,000 for teachers. Fifteen dollars minimum wage and up.
• Universal childcare. So, if you’re a mom or dad, you have kids and you have to work, the government will pay for the babysitter.
• Then there’s open borders. Everyone from anywhere is welcome.
• And the “Green New Deal,” a large reshaping of our whole society. The government will guarantee a job for everyone and income for those who are unwilling to work. Every building in the U.S. would be retrofitted to be energy efficient. High speed rail would replace air travel. And 95 million cows will be eliminated.

It’s an enormous agenda with an enormous price tag, probably $50 trillion dollars. Keep in mind our current debt is $22 trillion, so how we finance all these wonderful free benefits is anyone’s guess.

Social Democracy German Style

Early in July, commentator Bill O’Reilly put on his old reporter’s hat to see how socialism is working out overseas. It’s an interesting story.

“I want to tell you a little bit about the trip. It was both business and social. I flew into Berlin; had some meetings there to find out essentially how the semi-socialist system is working in Western Europe.

“This is the system that most of the Democrats nominees are basing their entire presidential campaign on and I wanted to be fair. I don’t like socialism, but we are living in a very complicated era where people are making fortunes in the high- tech industry, in particular, and I wanted to see how other governments are handling the so-called income and inequality problem.

“Berlin is a liberal town. A lot of people are unemployed by choice. Not a particularly pretty place. World War II wiped it out. I was there when the Berlin Wall came down. I reported that story and that was the last time I was there. It’s bustling. A great place to visit if you’re interested in history.

“There are the remnants of the Nazis. In fact, the bunker where Hitler was killed (he killed himself) is now a parking lot. They actually poured sand in the bunker and paved over it. Interesting!

“After Berlin I took the train down to Munich in southern Germany. Now northern Germany is liberal, Lutheran; southern Germany is Catholic by tradition. Munich is a nice town that could be in America. If you had the language, English, and the old buildings obviously can’t be duplicated here. But outside of the buildings and the language, it could be anywhere U.S.A.”

If you would like to see what may await you if the plan is implemented in America, you might travel to Munich in southern Germany. Most folks live in small houses or apartments, go to work every day, have nice cars and drink alcohol on a regular basis.

But look beneath the surface and you can clearly see the results of the plan—people are dependent on the government in Berlin and there is little upward mobility.

The German economy is vibrant but workers cannot accumulate much money to invest and make their assets grow. That’s because of taxes. Ready?

German workers in Munich pay eight percent of their income in local taxes. Then Berlin comes in for its piece: 12 percent “health” tax for government-run medical care, 19 percent value added tax (VAT) on just about everything you buy, and an income tax that ranges from 14 to 45 percent of your gross wages.

Add it up, and German workers cannot save significant money or improve themselves much economically. Thus, they stay where they are, year after year after year. Today’s children will likely be in the same economic circumstance as their grandparents.

The result is that almost every German is the same materially. There are few ostentatious displays of wealth in Munich. There is not much “inequality” on display either.

The folks accept this plan because it offers security. After you pay your taxes, medical care is free, pensions are guaranteed. Housing is modest and subsidies are provided if you can’t or won’t work. The addicted are supported, but barely. Not much homelessness.

But forget about ever accumulating enough money to buy that chalet in Gstaad or a villa in the Riviera. That is not going to happen in the working precincts. The German government makes it impossible.

That is the vision of the present-day Democratic Party in America. From sea to shining sea, we will all be similar: dependent on Washington for medical care and retirement entitlements; happy to be secure with what we are allowed to keep after the government decides how much to take from us. On paper, “inequality” will be banished forever.

That is the DEM Plan 20 and it does not include gold stars for achievement. Most media and many American citizens, especially young voters, are solidly behind it.

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8 HABITS OF SUCCESSFUL FAMILY COMMUNICATION

Here’s a thoughtful article written by Tim Habbershon in a recent issue of Fidelity Viewpoints.

“Tackle difficult subjects and turn them into effective family discussions.

“When I suggest that families should be able to “talk about anything,” that may seem daunting to some and even outright impossible to others. Consequently, some families avoid certain topics, especially those topics regarding wealth, money, relationships, family fairness, issues of entitlement, and death. If families do feel compelled (or forced) to have these difficult conversations, some families jump into the conversations without skills, then wonder why things crash and burn. But these skills can be acquired

through practice and confidence. Communication is a skills-based sport.

“To get you started, I’ve listed 8 habits of successful family communications:

1. Ask questions

Most conversations are like a tennis match, with opinions volleyed back and forth until someone wins the point. When I went to break a volley of opinions in conversations I facilitate, I will not allow people to give a retort opinion until they ask 3 questions of the person who spoke. It’s good practice because it’s the first step in understanding other people’s perspective.

2. Match tone to desired outcome

Our tone of voice dictates how people will interpret what we are saying, regardless of what we actually say. I will often have someone practice restating a simple question such as ‘Where are you going?’ in 5 or 6 tones (aggressive, empathetic, intrusive, sincere…), so they can hear how the different tones sound. When people have unexpressed feelings that are different from what they are saying, their real sentiments often come through in their tone of voice.

3. Respond vs. react

If the “check engine” light means that something inside a car engine needs to be investigated, our reactions are the same—something is going on inside us that we need to explore. Generally we blame someone else for why we are reacting, and project the reason for our reactivity onto them. Reactions should always lead to reflection; ‘Why did I react? What just happened in me?’ This reflective look inside slows down the process and keeps the reactivity from escalating, getting aggressive, or becoming highly personal.

4. Avoid absolutizing

‘Absolutizing’ is a big word but an easy concept and skill. Simply do not use words or phrases—e.g., always, never, hopeless, forget it, I’m out of here, don’t talk to me—talk in a way that makes the conclusion absolute and cuts off the conversation. Effective communication gives people space for an opinion, leaves room for dialogue, allows for benefit of the doubt, and creates opportunity for engagement.

5. Process out loud

Learning to verbalize what you are thinking and feeling in a way that others can hear is a skill that can be developed. Often people come to me and say something like this: ‘I really want to talk with my kids about my estate plans…but we’re not good at sharing our thoughts out loud…the kids have very different views on wealth…are often confrontational with each other…so I have avoided talking with them at all and just make the decisions secretly myself. But that doesn’t feel good to me, so what do I tell them?’ My response is easy: ‘Your feelings and fears about having the conversation is the real agenda you need to discuss with them,’ so make this statement at the beginning to help frame the discussion.

6. Reprocess bad process

What is bad process? Shouting, hollering, reactivity, put-downs, walking out, shutting down, and anything else that does not foster healthy communication and relationships. Reprocessing bad process is more than saying you’re sorry. It is processing out loud what you were trying to say, and how you feel about the bad process.

7. Cultivate positive attributions

Attributions are the beliefs you hold about other people—and all speech and behavior follow our beliefs. I often have family members list all the attributions they hold about each other. Once we identify any negative attributions, we can work on changing or reframing them in a way that allows us to engage more effectively. Thinking or saying ‘you’re greedy’ is a negative attribution versus ‘help me understand what you might need.’

8. Do not personalize

Like beliefs, we sometimes forget that we can choose to take something personally or not, even if it was meant as a personal attack. If a spouse asks you to pick up your shoes, you actually have a choice: ‘Ok, they are my shoes, and I pick them up.’ But, even this small request can be personalized simply by weaving a story that says your spouse is a nag. Now, what if it’s really true? Your spouse is relentless, doesn’t appreciate you, or doesn’t help you very often. You can still choose to NOT personalize and to (1) pick up your shoes and (2) have a nonreactive conversation about how you feel and what you would like to change in the relationship.

“As with any hobby or sport, learning to communicate will take commitment and dedication to ensure progression. But by applying these guiding principles, your family communications—whether the discussion is about estate planning or health issues—become not only an opportunity to resolve concerns affecting multiple generations but, most importantly, an opportunity to inspire a collective investment in the most important asset of all: your family.”

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CURRENT EVENTS – SUMMER, 2019 – CONTINUED

We continue our review of current events and begin with:

Mass Shootings Demand Action

Since the year 2000, 475 innocent people have been killed and hundreds more wounded.

We can’t avoid it any longer. It should be illegal for private citizens to own an AK-47 or other military style weapons.

Enough is enough!

NBA Major Player Moves and Big Changes

All the excitement in the NBA actually started in June when Magic Johnson and his elite PR image shocked everyone by resigning as President of Laker Basketball Operations. In the process, he harshly criticized the GM and everyone else he left behind.

It was very unlike Magic. It wasn’t smart, it wasn’t cool, and it was very unprofessional. You think it had some influence on Kwali Leonard and others who came to visit but didn’t stay?

Golden State Warriors (GSW) Break Up The Old Gang

After playing in the last five NBA finals (unprecedented), GSW had some major changes:

• MVP Kevin Durant left to join the Brooklyn Nets on a four-year contract and brought Kyrie Irving with him. (Hmm, wonder why?)
• Andre Iguodala goes to Memphis. Jordan Bell to Minnesota and backup point guard Shaun Livingston is released.
• D’Angelo Russell (a Laker that got away) comes in on a four-year contract.

DeMarcus Cousins, after an injury-plagued year, goes to the Lakers to join Anthony Davis, who came to Lakerland on a trade, primarily arranged by LeBron James.

After paying a courtesy call at the Lakers, Kawli Leonard joins the Clippers with his buddy Paul George. Two others the Lakers passed on; Trevor Ariza went to Sacramento Kings and Julius Randle is now a New York Knick.

Russell Westover, 1-on-1 superstar, has opted to rejoin his 1-on-1 buddy James Harden in Oklahoma City. Both brilliant players whose teams never got far in the playoffs.

Prediction in the West Coast Conference: the Lakers will be No. 1, Clippers 2 and GSW 3.

Now a couple of observations:

A.  Jerry West, outstanding Lakers GM, became a consultant for GSW and helped put their winning team together. He’s now with the Clippers. With all the turmoil in Lakerland, why didn’t they bring him back?
B. There’s a new trend emerging when superstars Kevin Durant and Kwali Leonard changed teams, they bring a buddy with them.
C. Load Management is the new “in” word among several teams with aging superstars. Last year, Kwali Leonard only played in 60 games with the Toronto Raptors.

New Laker coach Frank Vogel has indicated he will implement the concept with Davis, James and Cousins. Wonder how the season ticket holders will embrace this concept. Maybe they’re telling us the 82 games regular season schedule is a little too long.

Apparently, Busing Is Still A Controversy

In the first Democratic debate, Kamala Harris badgered good ole boy Joe Biden about his somewhat shifting view on busing 50 years ago.

For some, bussing was a lifeline, a policy that profoundly changed their future by creating more opportunity. Others have called it counterproductive, heavy-handed and an unfortunate mistake.

R. Darrell Meadows grew up in Oklahoma City. Mr. Meadows, who is of Hispanic heritage, said he was bused from a predominantly white, working-class neighborhood to attend integrated schools across town, and that he is now “keenly aware of the ways my experience of busing irrevocably and positively shaped my perspective on the world by facilitating a greater diversity of childhood friendships.”

Joe Weinmunson grew up in rural Louisiana in an area where a busing decree was enforced in the 1980s. Mr. Weinmunson, who is white, wrote that busing “was one of the best things that could have happened for me.”

Mr. Weinmunson attended Natchitoches Central High School. “I was a white city boy who moved to the country to help care for my aging grandparents and their land. My school did nothing to dispel the worst concepts of poor, rural whites: insular, conservative, friendly enough as long as you were one of them.”

One year later, he was glad when he started to attend more integrated schools. “I spent far more time on the school bus than I ever wanted to, but the people and experiences I was exposed to were worth the dreary rides.”

Frederick Alcorn, a 70-year-old veteran, wrote that he went to Overbrook High School in Philadelphia from 1963 to 1966. The experience “did very little to advance the intention of integration,” wrote Mr. Alcorn, who is African-American. “The curriculum was Eurocentric and patriotic to an unexplained history of enslavement and conquest.”

Students self-segregated outside of the classroom, except for sports,” he added. They were also academically tracked to different floors of the schools “which quietly promoted degrees of classism among black students.” The teachers were primarily white, and those students who were not considered college-bound candidates didn’t get much attention.

Across the country, many Americans have argued that busing students to integrate schools was a failure, but research shows that integration measures like busing, when fully implemented, proved an effective tool in closing the achievement gap and building understanding across lines of race and class.

Medicare Report

The 2019 Medicare Trustees Report says:

A. Medicare will be insolvent in seven years
B. $48.5 billion in improper payments in the last fiscal year

Curbing that would help the march to insolvency.

It’s been an interesting summer; and with Congress on vacation, there shouldn’t be too much more to come.

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CURRENT EVENTS – SUMMER, 2019

It’s summer! It’s usually quiet with not much going on, but this year has really been pretty active with a lot of things happening. So, let’s start with:

July 4th Celebration

Trump wanted to celebrate, so they organized a parade of military might and drew a sizable crowd (even with some rain) to the Lincoln Memorial, where he gave a somewhat patriotic speech.

The Trump haters were critical of the whole thing; called it over-the-top and a total waste. His supporters loved it and the independents kind of liked it.

That’s why his poll numbers were up the following week.

Rock and Roll Through Two Sizable Tremors

Haven’t had any for a while. I guess we were overdue. Fortunately, they were way out east in a sparsely populated area.

When Jacob Margolis felt the biggest earthquake rumbling across Southern California, he didn’t panic. Mr. Margolis thought, “Everything is going to be totally fine.” If you’re now thinking this guy knows something you don’t, you’re probably right.

Margolis, a journalist, spent months researching what to do when a major quake hits for the podcast he hosts, aptly titled “The Big One.” We asked Mr. Margolis for some advice. Here’s what he said: “Do not run to the nearest doorway when you feel it start.”

Mr. Margolis said the idea that doorways are the safest parts of buildings is a persistent myth that seems to be traceable back to the 1800s, when the doorway of an adobe home was the only thing left standing after a big quake.

But Mr. Margolis said you may instead get hit by a swinging door. Or, if you try to move while the ground is rolling below your feet, you could break a leg or an ankle.

“Just get under a table and cover your head,” he said. That’s not a myth.

Keep a pair of shoes next to your bed and move heavy art or mirrors to places where they are unlikely to fall on you. The shoes, Mr. Margolis said, could come in handy if you’re trying to get through your home without stepping on broken glass.

Get your earthquake kit together while it’s on top of your mind.

Get your plan, and your most important documents, together. Having any documents you may need for disaster recovery will be critical for getting federal aid.

Women Triumph in Soccer World Cup

A fantastic achievement! It was great to watch, and lots of people did. It was an exciting team effort!
Unfortunately, Megan Rapinoe, the team captain and MVP, turned everything she could to the Megan Rapinoe show and her political views.

Ms. Rapinoe took and manufactured every opportunity to tell us why she wouldn’t go to the White House, if invited, and why she doesn’t like Trump. Wasn’t too cool or necessary.

Bernie Goldberg, HBO sports commentator and political analyst, had this to say:

“Sports used to be the place where we went to get away from the daily barrage of politics. I grew up in the shadows of the Yankee Stadium. I grew up in the Bronx. I didn’t know Mickey Mantel’s politics. I didn’t know Yogi Berra’s politics. I didn’t know Whitey Ford’s politics. I don’t think those guys knew their own politics. But that was a long time ago. That was then and this is now. I don’t approve of what she said. I don’t approve of the way she said it or the place that she said it. I don’t approve of any of that.

I was asked by one of the people on my website, ‘Shouldn’t she have been fined or banned for life for what she said?’ I said, ‘No.’ No, that’s not what we do. That’s what the hard left does. So while I don’t agree with anything that she said or how she said it or where she said it, and while I believe that sports is the place that we need to go to get away from all of this stuff, I don’t want to see her banned or punished.

Writers and Agents Still at War

With lawsuits and vitriol flying on a weekly basis, the Writers Guild of America West and the biggest talent agencies in Hollywood have reached that stage many couples know so well: when you finally decide to go to therapy to either save the marriage or figure out the best way to end it.

Statistically, it is usually the latter. And though no doubt most writers would prefer to have their agents back, it must be said that the mass firing demanded earlier this year by the WGA when the Assn. of Talent Agents refused to accept its new code of conduct, did not, despite dire predictions, bring on the apocalypse, or even disrupt staffing season much.

There is far more money to be made in television production than in representation, but doing both represents a clear conflict of interest—even in marriage counseling, the first rule is: Do not use a therapist one of you has been seeing individually.

The question is, who could sit in the big chair in the middle and either find a compromise between the WGA’s “Yes, you will” (stop packaging and working with “in-house” production companies, and go back to representing like we’re paying you to do) and the ATA’s “No, we won’t” (because we’ve been packaging for years and this is how the business works now) or figure out how to tell the kids and divide the assets.

Where’s Dr. Phil when we need him?

What is a Legitimate Boycott?

The far left loons want everyone to boycott Home Depot, because Bernie Marcus, one of the co-founders, now 15 years retired, apparently donated money to Trump’s 2016 campaign.

That just has no place in a democracy and, in my opinion, is un-American. I’ll continue to buy anything I can at Home Depot.

Colin Kapernick is the former NFL quarterback who knelt in protest during the national anthem. No NFL team has hired him for those disruptions, but Nike has put him on the payroll—as a footwear consultant. I doubt it.

I will not buy a Nike product while they support his very questionable protest at the wrong time in the wrong place.

In the same vein, I will have nothing to do with star soccer player Megan Rapinoe and her self-serving rants against President Trump and her imagined oppressions. She’s toast in my book.

Crystal Cathedral Has Re-Opened

Once the symbol of Robert Schuler’s success, the 128-foot-tall glass edifice in Garden Grove was sold to the Diocese of Orange and is now a remodeled Catholic church. Designed by Phillip Johnson, it’s the largest glass building in the world.

It’s an exciting place to visit, no matter what your religion.

Democrats: 0 Mueller: 0

The Democrats struck out with the Mueller July hearings. He gave them nothing that could help their impeachment crusade and he sometimes appeared unsure about what was in the report.

Mueller claimed not to know about the fake Fusion GPS report, funded by Hillary Clinton and the DNC, as well as the fake FISA warrants, which should have been under his purview.

As I predicted in June, the special counsel proved a little more political than independent.

Schiff and Nadler will need a new hobby.

We’ll have more next week.

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THE WORLD’S MOST IMPRESSIVE LANDMARKS

If you get anywhere near one of these landmarks, don’t mis it. These are sights that will be indelible in your memory.

Great Wall, China

Built about 2,000 years ago, the Great Wall zigzags 163 miles across northern China, dotting mountains, plains, grasslands, deserts, and plateaus like the spines on a dragon’s back. Many sections are now in ruins or have completely disappeared (pieces are often carted off as a source of stone for local houses and roads), but enough exists to remain a formidable sight.

The wall began as a series of independent walls erected within different states in northern China—to protect themselves against warring factions. Great armies of soldiers, prisoners, and local people were conscripted to build the walls, with repairs and extensions carried out as needed. After China became unified under the Qin dynasty in 256 B.C., Emperor Qin Shi Huang ordered that the separate walls be joined together as one defensive battlement against the Huns, invaders from the north. Ever since, the Great Wall has been a symbol of Chinese unity and architecture.

The crenellated wall averages 26-feet high and 20-feet wide. Along the wall, guardhouses and signal towers are located at regular intervals. The most accessible section is at Badaling, a two-hour trip from Beijing. If you have the time, the Mutianyu section (43-miles northeast of Beijing, is even better preserved.

Taj Mahal, India

Most travelers call the Taj Mahal the world’s most beautiful building. It has perfect symmetry, and the hue of its white marble varies from hour to hour, season to season. Two of the most sublime times to view the Taj Mahal are at sunset and during a full moon.

Shah Jahan, fifth Mughal emperor, commissioned the Taj Mahal in 1631 in memory of his second wife, a Persian princess named Mumtaz Mahal, as a tribute to his enduring love. A tree-lined reflecting pool fronts the monument, and tall minarets at the four corners of the raised terrace help complete this work of architectural and artistic genius.

Treasury at Petra, Jordan

Petra is an amazing archaeological World Heritage site in Jordan, famous for its many structures. References to the ancient Natabacan city are found in the Dead Sea Scrolls. It is a city of great religious significance; the nearby Ain Musa) Springs of Moses) is believed to be where Moses struck a rock with his staff to extract water. The impressive and elegant Treasury stands at the end of a narrow gorge, its facade and large square interior carved out of the sandstone. Built between the second and first century B.C., it is identified as the Treasury, but its actual function remains unknown. A temple? A royal tomb? Scholars continue to try to unravel its mysteries.

The Kremlin, Russia

This historic fortress-palace, from which the tsars ruled the expanse of Russia, is matched in size only by the Forbidden City in China. High defensive walls punctuated with a series of 17 strategic towers completely enclose the Kremlin (“citadel”), encompassing 68 acres. The 230-foot Savior Tower, built in 1941, dominates the Kremlin skyline. Inside, ornate buildings—palaces, government centers, churches—collectively make the Kremlin an architectural masterpiece. Three cathedrals, including St. Sophia, a fine example of Byzantine architecture, cluster around the Kremlin’s main square.

Standing in Red Square is more exciting and memorable than all the newsreels and TV shots of this famous place.

Mont St. Michel, France

A favored site for French royalty throughout the ages, Mont St. Michel boasts 1,200 years of history. A distant dream-scene silhouettes this island abbey and sends spirits soaring. Since the sixth century, monks have lived in this secret fortification that floats like a mirage from miles away. This was Christendom’s place to get nearer to God. From here, there were views of the sea and of beautiful Normandy. Today, the offering remains sacred to pilgrims and tourists.

Pompeii, Italy

The ancient Roman city of Pompeii lay hidden and forgotten under volcanic waste for more than 1,500 years before archaelogical excavations slowly began to unearth it. On August 24, A.D. 79, Mt. Vesuvius erupted in a cataclysm so violent that the mountain literally blew up. The explosions sent billowing columns of volcanic steam, cinders, and ash high into the sky, then showered and buried the once thriving city. Most of the 20,000 citizens escaped with their lives. However, a few thousand lingered too long and did not survive the toxic fumes. Archaeologists have revealed many of Pompeii’s streets, temples, theaters, homes, public baths, wall murals, and floor mosaics, reconstructing a fascinating history of Roman life.

Yellowstone National Park, United States

Some 600,000 years ago a massive volcanic eruption from the center of what is now Yellowstone National Park spewed an immense volume of ash over the western United States, much of the Midwest, northern Mexico, and some areas of the eastern Pacific. The eruption left a caldera, a collapsed crater 30-miles wide by 45-mileslong.

In 1872, President Ulysses Grant signed a law declaring that Yellowstone would forever be “dedicated and set apart as a public park.” It became the world’s first national park.

The park has hundreds of geysers. Old Faithful, named for its regularity, erupts approximately every hour. Other Yellowstone geothermal features include bubbling mud pools, hot springs, colorful limestone terraces, and steam-spouting fumaroles. The national park also protects a unique ecosystem that is home to a wealth of flora and fauna, including iconic Rocky Mountain wildlife such as grizzly bears, buffalo, wolves, and elk.

Stonehenge, England

Stonehenge is a prehistoric site of megaliths arranged in concentric circles—the largest being 108 feet in diameter—and horseshoe patterns. These standing stones measure up to 20 feet high and weigh as much as 110,231 pounds. Studies reveal that the stones came from faraway mountains.

The latest scientific estimates say Stonehenge was built in stages between 3000 and 1500 B.C. Why and how the stones came to be erected on Salisbury Plain remains a mystery. Some speculate Stonehenge was an astronomical calendar; others believe it was used for religious ceremonies. The once popular theory that Stonehenge was created by the Druids, the Celtic priesthood, was disproved when science found that it has been built at least a thousand years before the Druids.

The Pyramids of Giza, Egypt

The question of who built the pyramids, and how, has long been debated by Egyptologists and historians. Standing at the base of the pyramids at Giza, it is hard to believe that any of these monuments could have been built in one pharaoh’s lifetime. The accounts of Herodotus, the fifth-century B.C. Greek historian, suggest that the labor force totaled more than 100,000 people. Modern Egyptologists believe the real number is closer to 20,000.

The three great pyramids—tombs for Pharaoh Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure—are massive. Each stone in the pyramids weighs more than two tons. The Sphinx, which embodies the body of a lion and the head of a pharaoh, is believed to be the head of Khafre and the guardian spirit for his entire burial complex.

The 1908 edition of Baedeker’s Egypt warns: “Travelers who are in the slightest degree predisposed to apoplectic or fainting fits, and ladies traveling alone, should not attempt to penetrate into these stifling recesses.”

Petronas Twin Towers, Malaysia

The Burj Khalifa has, for the moment, claimed the oft-changing title of the “world’s largest building.” Yet the former titleholder, the Petronas Twin Towers, completed in 1997 and measuring 1,483 feet high, still retain their visually dramatic design, courtesy of U.S. architect Cesar Pelli. They can be appreciated easily from all directions. Halfway up the buildings, a 90-foot twin-tier sky bridge dramatically connects the structures on the 41st and 42nd floors.

Iguazu Falls

On the border of Argentina and Brazail, the Iguazu Falls is the largest waterfall system in the world. Two hundred plus feet high, it’s an amazing experience to view, by hiking, helicopter, or taking a boat ride.

Grand Canyon, United States

One of the natural wonders of the world. It is 277-miles long and up to 18-miles wide and an average depth of one mile. Both the north and south rims are well worth visiting. On either side, staying for 24 hours is well worth the investment. The daylight shining on the canyon walls is an ever-changing panorama of colors and hues. It’s a wow!

Rafting through the bottom of the canyon is an exhilarating experience filled with fascinating sights and a few thrills over some rocky stretches of a churning river.

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MY MOST MEMORABLE MOVIES – PART II

Here is the last half of the movies that I remember the most. Each touched a nerve and affected me emotionally in one way or another.

Surely there must have been others that were outstanding, but my memory has become a bit limited.

A few of these got an Oscar or two, but it was the impact on me that kept the memory alive, not the awards.

The Godfather – Part II (1974) – This continuation of the original parallels the young Vito Corleone’s rise with his son Michael’s spiritual fall. In the early 1900’s, young Vito flees his Sicilian village for America after the local mafia kill his family. Vito tires of trying to make a living while constantly paying off the local mafia boss. Finally, he plots and kills the boss, takes over, and becomes the godfather. The outstanding cast in this mesmerizing tale included: Al Pacino, Marlon Brando, Robert DeNiro, Robert Duvall and Diane Keaton.

Rocky (1976) – A not-so-sharp amateur boxer from Philadelphia’s tough neighborhood gets a surprise shot at fighting for the heavyweight championship and at the same time finds love with the shy, reclusive girl in the pet shop. He gets the shot because no one thinks he has a chance. Stars Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young and Burgess Meredith. It’s a great underdog story moved along with terrific music.

Star Wars (1977) – George Lucas released this futuristic fable which became the biggest money maker of all time and changed the shape of the film industry. Harrison Ford led the outstanding cast. It was a great new innovation in technological film making and a true popcorn delight.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) – Steven Spielberg brought us this epic science fiction adventure about a desperate group of people who attempt to contact alien intelligence. Richard Dreyfuss is an electric lineman who witnesses an unidentified flying object (UFO). His wife and family are skeptical when he refuses to accept a logical explanation for his sighting. He is determined to find out the truth about the UFO he saw. Thoughtful and intriguing.

The Grey Fox (1982) – Here’s an eclectic, low-key tale about real life bandit Bill Miner that became a classic of Canadian cinema. Released from prison in 1901, Bill (Richard Farnsworth) finds himself living in a totally changed world. No more stagecoaches to rob, he goes to live with his sister in Washington state. He soon gets restless and tries to rob trains with a bumbling partner. As you might expect, it doesn’t work out too well. Great story! Well done!

The Right Stuff (1983) – Covering the 15-year formation of America’s space program, the film portrays the interaction of the original Mercury astronauts. The film relates the dangers and frustration facing these young tigers, their various personal crises involving their families, and the schism between their squeaky-clean public images. It stars Sam Shepherd, Ed Harris and Dennis Quaid. It was a heartwarming, patriotic, feel-good flick.

Philadelphia (1993) – At the time of its release, this was the first big budget Hollywood film to tackle the medical, political and social issues of AIDS. Tom Hanks is the young, talented lawyer at a stodgy old law firm who has to confront these issues head one. He is assisted by Denzel Washington, who reluctantly takes on his defense. What a searing portrait of a real-life drama.

Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) – This is the applause-driven adaptation of Queen, their music, and their extraordinary lead singer, Freddie Mercury, who defied stereotypes and shattered conventions to become one of the most beloved entertainers on the planet. The film traces the meteoric rise of the band through their iconic music and revolutionary sound, their near implosion as Mercury’s lifestyle spirals out of control, and their triumphant reunion on the eve of Live Aid, where Mercury, facing a life-threatening illness, leads the band in one of the greatest performances in the history of rock music. Rami Malek was outstanding as the outrageous Freddie Mercury. It was touching, entertaining and a soaring musical treat.

It’s interesting to note that I have a 15-year gap between 1993 and 2018 when there were no movies that touched me like the others. Wonder why?

Hope there are still more to come.

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MY MOST MEMORABLE MOVIES – PART I

One of the highlights of growing up in a suburb of NYC was to get to see a movie at the local Boulevard Theater. I got to see Disney animated features, of course, and on Saturday mornings there was the Lone Ranger and other serials.

The Boulevard was a local theater and often didn’t get first-run movies for a year or two after they opened in Times Square.

When I got a little older I remember the great comedy “The Man Who Came to Dinner” starring Monte Wooley, Bette Davis, Ann Sheridan and Jimmy Durante.

I now know that was in 1942 and I spread my wings to the bigger RKO theater on a bus ride to neighboring Flushing.

That was the first and one of the only movies I ever saw more than once.

So, here without further ado are the movies that had the most affect on me, not always the best but the ones that stirred my emotions for reasons I’m not sure I fully understood.

Maybe they’ll spark a few of your memories, too.

Lost Horizon (1937) – A thought-provoking drama that was stimulating and very entertaining. Ronald Coleman, Jane Wyatt, Edward Everett Horton and Thomas Mitchell scrambling to board the last plane out of a chaotic Chinese airfield. As the plane flies, they realize they’re going in the wrong direction. They end up flying to a new ideal location, Shangri-La. It had action, drama, mystery, suspense and fantasy. It was a truly exciting experience for a young film viewer.

Gunga Din (1939) – A Rudyard Kipling poem, Gunga Din is a fitting framework for the story of a crude cockney soldier’s tribute to a naïve Indian water boy who remains at his job even after being mortally wounded. An inspiring story capably played by Victor McLaglen, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Sam Jaffe and Joan Fontaine. Really inspiring!

Casablanca (1942) – This is the captivating story of a war-time adventure, romance and intrigue. It’s Humphrey Bogart as a world-weary freedom fighter who runs a nightclub in intriguing Casablanca and Ingrid Bergman who make the decision to leave the city of mysteries at the start of WWII. It was intense and gripping!

Laura (1944) – The film starts with the discovery that Laura (Gene Tierney) has been murdered. Tough NYC detective (Dana Andrews) methodically questions the chief suspects. It was a haunting, intriguing experience with lots of surprises.

The Third Man (1949) – Another gem from Orson Welles who arrives in post-war Vienna to visit his old friend who he discovers was killed in a street accident and wanted by the police as black marketer. Also stars one of my early favorites, Joseph Cotten.

Shane (1953) – The Wyoming range war is the focus of this western classic. Alan Ladd is a mysterious drifter who rides into a tiny homestead community and accepts the hospitality of a farm family. The farmer (Van Heflin) is impressed by the way Shane handles himself when facing down the land baron although he has trouble placing his complete trust in the stranger. Wife Marion (Jean Arthur) is attracted to Shane in spite of herself and son, Joey, flat out idolizes Shane. Also stars Jack Palance.

On The Waterfront (1954) – This classic story of mob control on the NY/NJ docks. Mob boss (Lee J. Cobb) controls the waterfront, with an iron fist. The authorities know he’s been responsible for a number of murders, but no witnesses will come forward. Washed up boxer, a young Marlon Brando as Terry Malloy is willing to keep his mouth shut until he meets Eva Marie Saint and gets the courage to speak up. Also starred Rod Steiger as a crooked union lawyer. It was electrifying.

The Graduate (1967) – “Plastics” was the cultural touchstone of the 1960’s as it seeped into the California upper-middle class. Totally adrift in the summer after college graduation, Ben (Dustin Hoffman) would rather float in the family pool than follow any adult advice about his future. He drifts along until he accepts the invitation of Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft) to have an affair. Summer fun goes fine until Ben meets Mrs. Robinson’s daughter, Elaine (Katharine Ross), and then his pursuit gets really rollicking. Super entertaining!

If my memory holds out, next week we’ll tackle the last part of my list.

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