Saturday, December 22, 2007

On this day in: 1808 - In Vienna, Ludwig van Beethoven premieres his Fifth Symphony. 1851 - The first freight train is operated. 1937 - The Lincoln Tunnel opens to traffic in New York City. 1956 - Colo is born, the first gorilla to be bred in captivity.

“How many observe Christ’s birth-day! How few, his precepts! O! ’tis easier to keep Holidays than Commandments.” –Benjamin Franklin

My friend Fred Holden has been emailing out a series of documents intended to inspire civic participation. They are very informative and motivational, take a look at them on Fred’s new website that is in the early stages of construction. See

From The Bend Weekly, Bend, Oregon:

Armando Rodriguez’s autobiography, "From the Barrio to Washington," has just been published by the University of New Mexico Press with a cover photo in color of Armando and wife Beatriz being greeted by a beaming President Jimmy Carter.

An adept amateur wrestler, Rodriguez coached a San Diego State University team to the NCAA's championship round. He was voted State's 1949 "alumnus of the year," edging out such worthies as Art Linkletter. Meanwhile, he had become the first Hispanic to attain administrative status as a principal in the San Diego school system, later the second to serve as a college president (East Los Angeles) and first to serve the entire nation as a presidential appointee to commissions charged with overseeing the enforcement of racial and gender equality.

As many successful people have done, Rodriguez conceived something book publishers call a "vanity" publication - memoirs that a person may publish for family and friends. Vanity or not, the University of New Mexico Press bought Rodriguez's story and is publicizing it nationwide. It chronicles how one man beat the odds, refusing to accept society's judgment that his background alone left him unworthy of advancement…The book reads like Horatio Alger on his way to Yale University. A book launch will start January 17 with a talk and signing at the National Hispanic Cultural Center, 1701 4th Street SW, Albuquerque NM 87102. 505-766-6604.

Inspiring reading, Shadow's story reflects the attitude of a person who, despite such disappointments as his rejection for a college fraternity, never seems to have felt sorry for himself.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

On this day in: 1192 - Richard the Lion-Heart was captured and imprisoned by Leopold V of Austria on his way home to England after signing a treaty with Saladin ending the crusade. 1522 - Suleiman the Magnificent accepts the surrender of the surviving Knights of Rhodes, who are allowed to evacuate. They eventually re-settle on Malta and become known as the Knights of Malta. 1941 - World War II: First battle of the American Volunteer Group, better known as the "Flying Tigers" in Kunming, China.

His dad’s new book says 60 is the new 40, but Jack Linkletter, who followed in the footsteps of his broadcasting icon father, Art Linkletter who is 95 now, died Tuesday at age 70. Jack was the host of TV shows such as “Hootenanny” and special events such as the Miss Universe pageant.

Non-CEO executives accounted for 29% of new independent directors on boards of Standard & Poor's 500 concerns, according to an analysis of recent proxy statements by recruiters SpencerStuart. That's up from 18% in 2001. From today’s Wall Street Journal, which is now free online.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

On this day in 1732, Benjamin Franklin began publishing "Poor Richard's Almanac" in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Franklin's almanac included weather reports, eclipses, tides, and tables of English Kings. But what made it famous were the witty proverbs about life that Franklin included as filler, such as, "Well done is better than well said" and "Haste makes waste" and "Neither a Fortress nor a Maidenhead will hold out long after they begin to parley."

Ben Franklin's inspiration may have come when he was 15 years old and he worked in his brother's print shop. He would sneak into work at night and leave letters to the editor signed "Silence Dogood." The letters became very popular, but when young Franklin told his brother James that he was writing them, the two came to blows and Ben ran away to Philadelphia. When Benjamin Franklin started 'Poor Richard's," his brother was publishing an almanac of his own called "Poor Robin's Almanac."

It was on this day in 1843 that Charles Dickens came out with "A Christmas Carol." He got the idea in mid-October and struggled to finish the story in time for the holidays. He published the book himself with gilt-edged pages and a red bound cover within a week of Christmas and sold 6,000 copies in the first few days.

The instant bestseller revived Christmas when it was on the decline in England, during the Industrial Revolution, and it launched Dickens into a fame much like The Beatles -- on his reading tours, Charles Dickens was mobbed by adoring fans, who would rip his clothes, wait in long lines to shake his hand, and pull down the windows on his train car to grab at him.

From The Writer’s Almanac, American Public Media, edited by my friend Rick Norton.

Reminder: Socrates Cafe is tomorrow, Thursday, December 20. 7 pm Trinity Church, 19th & Broadway. Free, and lots of free parking, most parking meters are free after 6 pm. RSVP at or just show up.

Also, IDEA Cafe, Friday, December 21. 2 pm at Panera Bread, 13th & Grant here in Denver. Two fantastic speakers this week. Details and RSVP at

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

On this day in: 1865 - The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution is ratified by Georgia, fulfilling the two-thirds requirement for ratification, and banning slavery in the United States. 1892 - The first performance of Tchaikovsky's ballet The Nutcracker is held at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg. 1932 - The Chicago Bears defeated the Portsmouth Spartans 9-0 in the first ever NFL Championship Game.

Have you ever noticed how money and time seem to just slip away?

Here’s a well written column about where the money goes. Waste thirty dollars a day, which isn’t hard for a family to do, and at the end of the year we’re missing $10,000!

Businesses have this same problem, profit leaks that can eventually sink the ship.

When it comes to waste, government is the worst offender, because there our millions and billions just don’t seem like real money. We can always raise taxes just a little, like we did again this year in Denver.

The Mayor’s A thru I campaign gave us the choice among 9 self imposed tax increases for worthy projects. “Let's take them all," we said, "they are small.”

We read and talk a lot about what we want the government to change, that’s a big part of the Presidential campaign right now. But what about me and you? What can we do about our personal money leaks?

And what about time? Can you believe it is already the end of 2007? Or that we are this old?

To stop the clock at the personal level, Joseph Heller had a solution called “Catch-22”: Don’t do things you enjoy and time will slow down. As a result, we won't necessarily live longer, but it will seem longer.

And we will die rich.

Merry Christmas.

John Wren

Monday, December 17, 2007

On this day in: 1903 - The Wright Brothers made their first powered and heavier-than-air flight in the Wright Flyer at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. 1935 - First flight of the Douglas DC-3 airplane. 1969 - Project Blue Book: The USAF closes its study of UFOs, stating that sightings were generated as a result of "A mild form of mass hysteria, Individuals who fabricate such reports to perpetrate a hoax or seek publicity, psychopathological persons, and misidentification of various conventional objects."

In today’s Denver Post:

Speaking of caucuses — those are the neighborhood meetings largely attended by the political diehards — Colorado party leaders are still hoping for a good turnout in February. By some accounts, there was a slight increase in party affiliation by the Dec. 5 registration deadline. Larimer County's Scott Doyle said his county experienced a "bump."

In 2004, only about 15,000 Democrats attended their caucuses in more than 3,100 precincts statewide. That's roughly five people per precinct. Some years have drawn only two people to a precinct.

But this year being a presidential election year, and with Colorado now viewed as a swing state, party leaders hope they can draw more voters to the schools and community centers where the meetings are held.

For the first time, this year's caucuses will poll affiliated voters on their presidential choices, then get that information to county chairs. They, in turn, will advise party headquarters in time to alert the media before bedtime. This will be the only voice Coloradans will have in selecting the presidential nominees in each party, since we don't have a presidential primary.

"People [in both parties] should attend these neighborhood meetings and participate with all the enthusiasm they can muster," said Bill Compton, the Colorado Democratic Party's policy director.

I posted this comment in response to the above:
The February 5 Colorado Caucus has the potential of being well attended, but only if our major Colorado newspapers give it adequate coverage. To learn more, attend the Denver Grassroots Rally January 4; we'll be giving awards to the best pre-December 5 (registration date to vote in the Colorado Caucus) news coverage. For details and to RSVP see

I just sent this to the Rocky Mountain News Online as a news tip:

I think readers would really be interested in news right now about the February 5th Colorado Caucus, how it will work, and how people who want to attend can find out where to go. Best research I've seen says that only 8% of the people in Colorado even know we have a system similar to the Iowa Caucus.

One of the Boulder newspapers ran a front page story about the December 5 registration deadline for voting in the February 5 caucus that mentioned me. A man emailed me, "What is the history of this, and why haven't I heard of it before?" Good questions! I think your readers would be very interested in the answers NOW, while there is still time to figure out where to go February 5 and how to participate.

Every two years we get a chance for a state-wide civics lesson here in Colorado with our wonderful caucus-assembly system for nominating candidates to the primary ballot. Shouldn't it receive at least as much coverage between now and and February 5 as you give the Bronco's or the Rockies' training camps?

How about giving it news coverage NOW and each week between now and February 5, give adequate coverage to the HUGH story February 5, and THEN write an editorial about what should be done for 2010?

A few of us are holding a free, open meeting each month to try and help people learn about how to pick a party and participate, could someone from the RMN join us for our next meeting January 4?

PoliticsWest has a great overview of the upcoming Colorado legislative session and a list of the Colorado Senate and House seats that will be contested.

Catholic Answers Voter’s Guide for Serious Catholics
If you take your Catholic faith seriously then this voter’s
guide is for you. It will help you cast your vote in an
informed manner consistent with Catholic moral teaching
and fundamental human rights. This guide will help you
tell the difference between candidates’ positions that are
morally acceptable and ones that are so contrary to fundamental
moral principles that they are inconsistent with
public service.