Friday, February 06, 2009

Up in Smoke, What Stinks?, -and- Never Too Old

Up in Smoke - Kellogs to drop Olympian Phelps
What Stinks? - New York City solves syrup smell mystery
Never Too Old - 60-year-old Canadian woman gives birth to twins

On this day in history: February 6, 1951 - Radio personality Paul Harvey is arrested for trying to break into Argonne Atomic Lab.

Born on this day in history: February 6, 1911 - Ronald Reagan (1911-2004) Fortieth president of the United States, governor, actor. Born Ronald Wilson Reagan on February 6, 1911, in Tampico, Illinois. Leading what was known as the Reagan Revolution, Ronald Reagan ushered in a new era of conservatism in American politics when he became president of the United States in 1981. Perhaps as a precursor of things to come, he served as student body president in high school. He was also active in sports, such as football, and in drama.

After high school, Reagan attended Eureka College where he continued to participate in student government and theater. He graduated in 1932 with a degree in economics and sociology. Working as a radio announcer and sportscaster for a time, Reagan made his way to Hollywood after securing a film contract with Warner Bros. in 1937. His first film, "Love is on the Air," was released later that year.

During his Hollywood years, Reagan made more than 50 films of varying quality. One of his best remembered roles was as George "The Gipper" Gipp in the sports drama "Knute Rockne All American" (1940). He also turned in strong performances in "Brother Rat" (1938) and "Dark Victory" (1939) with Bette Davis and Humphrey Bogart. Reagan earned his greatest kudos, however, for "Kings Row" (1942), in which he played a rich young man who loses it all, but later redeems himself.

In addition to a successful film career, Reagan's personal life was also thriving. He married actress Jane Wyman in 1940. The following year, the couple welcomed their first daughter Maureen. Four years later, they adopted son Michael. Their marriage, unfortunately, did not last. They divorced by the end of the decade.

During World War II, Reagan served in the Army Air Corps, making several training films for the military. Reagan was honorably discharged in 1945, having reached the rank of captain. In 1947, he was elected president of the Screen Actors Guild-a post he would hold several times during his career. He also testified in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee that same year. Initially a Democrat, Reagan became more conservative over the years. He also held strong anticommunist views and was a member of the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals, an industry organization opposed to communism. Other members included actors John Wayne and Gary Cooper.

By the 1950s, Reagan's film career was in decline. One of his most famous films from this time was his co-starring role opposite a chimpanzee in the family comedy Bedtime for Bonzo (1951). Finding love again, Reagan married actress Nancy Davis in March of the following year. Their first daughter, Patricia, arrived that fall. The couple appeared on screen together in the war drama Hellcats of the Navy in 1957. Their son Ronald Prescott was born the next year.

In 1962, Reagan officially became a Republican and soon focused much of his time on politics. He ran for governor of California in 1966 and enjoyed the support of such stars as friend John Wayne. Taking office in 1967, Reagan soon announced his presidential ambitions. He failed in his 1968 bid for the Republican nomination, but he was reelected governor in 1970. One of his most notable acts was his effort to cut enrollment in the state's welfare program by signing the California Welfare Reform Act in 1971.

Undeterred by his earlier failure, Reagan pressed on in his quest for the highest office in the nation. He lost the 1976 Republican nomination to then-president Gerald Ford, but he was victorious in his efforts to represent his party in the 1980 election. Scoring a huge upset against Democratic president Jimmy Carter, Reagan took office in 1981.

Only months after becoming the country's commander in chief, Reagan shot by a would-be assassin on March 30. He was wounded, but later made a full recovery. In the interim, vice president George Bush briefly took over as president.

Reagan is remembered for advancing his conservative policies. He lobbied for increased defense spending, especially such programs as the so-called Star Wars missile defense system. His fervor over military expansion and arms development earned him the nickname "Ronnie Raygun" in some circles. In foreign affairs, Reagan remained true to his anticommunist views. He maintained a tense and sometimes adversarial relationship to the Soviet Union and other communist states.

On the domestic side, Reagan seemed to take a hands-off approach to improving the economy. He did work for tax cuts, but he sought to reduce the government spending by cutting social programs, which caused some uproar. He did, however, make history at home by appointing Sandra Day O'Connor as the female judge to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. No matter what happened, Reagan remained quite popular with most voters, easily winning re-election in 1984 against Walter Mondale.

After leaving office in 1989, Reagan maintained a busy schedule of events and other activities for a number of years before being diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. He spent his final years in seclusion. On June 5, 2004, Reagan died in his Los Angeles home from pneumonia. He was given a national funeral in Washington, D.C. and later laid to rest at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum.

Scripture of the Day: No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. - 1 John 4:12

Video of the Day: Tribute to Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan. Click to enlarge.

Ronald Reagan:As you will most likely surmise, Ronald Reagan is my favorite President. His moral values and conservative positions mirror my own. No other American President has ever embodied the spirit of pride and faith in this country and its citizenry. In fact, none have ever come close to doing so.

Sleep: I generally retire of an evening at 11 PM or shortly thereafter. Last evening, Laura declared herself to be most tired and expressed the desire to go abed at 9 PM. She cautioned me that it would be far too early for me to repose, yet—albeit in full agreement with her caution—I retired at that hour. I awakened at 3:45 AM and knew that more sleep would be difficult and would, most likely, result in prolonged lethargy. I arose, performed toilet, brewed a large mug of green tea with honey, toasted two blueberry waffles, nestled into my recliner, pulled my HP notebook to me (It resides upon a wheeled notebook table.), and began my day. At a time when the sun rises earlier and the weather is more seemly, I would have journeyed to my office to begin my day. With the wind howling, the temperature low, and the sky dark, I did not feel an invitation to do so. Three hours later, Laura was astir, the cats were beginning their day of frolicking, and daylight was beginning to pierce the darkness. I clutched the large bag that holds my Nikon camera gear and drove to my office. Here I am. It appears that today shall be a day most pluvial.