Monday, September 30, 2013

New Guidance: Kentucky Bourbon Country

Like wine lovers who dream of traveling to Bordeaux or beer enthusiasts with visions of the breweries of Belgium, bourbon lovers plan their pilgrimages to Kentucky's bourbon country. And what a country it is!

Some of the most famous distilleries are tucked away in the scenic countryside of the Bluegrass region, stretching between Louisville, Bardstown, and Lexington. Locals and tourists alike seek out the finest flavors of Kentucky as interest in America's only native spirit continues to grow.

In Kentucky Bourbon Country, Susan Reigler offers essential information and practical advice to anyone considering a trip to the state's distilleries or to the restaurants and bars on the Urban Bourbon Trail.

The Essential Travel Guide
by Susan Reigler 
The University Press of Kentucky, 2013
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Friday, September 13, 2013

History Book Review: A President in Yellowstone

For three weeks in August of 1883 the first sitting president to visit Yellowstone National Park, Chester Arthur, made an ambitious 330-mile overland trip from Green River, Wyoming, north to Mammoth Hot Springs with a 75-man military escort led by General Philip Sheridan.

It was the longest and most unusual vacation ever taken by a sitting President. The traveling party included Secretary of War Robert Todd Lincoln, the only surviving son of Abraham Lincoln, who commemorate the trip with a leather-bound album of photographs taken on the journey by a young photographer, F. Jay Haynes, along with the dispatches describing the President’s activities which were sent to the Associated Press.

This volume reprints much of that album, of which only six copies were ever made, and publishes more of Haynes' 130-year-old photographs of Yellowstone National Park and the President's party.

A President in Yellowstone
The F. Jay Haynes Photographic Album of Chester Arthur's 1883 Expedition
by Frank H. Goodyear III

Continued in Out of the Past

1872: Yellowstone National Park Established
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Artwork: Great Falls of the Yellowstone by F. Jay Haynes

Friday, September 6, 2013

Review: Organic Meat Production and Processing

As organic farming continues to emerge as a growth industry for both crops and meat, there is increasing demand for accurate and up-to-date information on producing, processing, marketing, and maintaining food
safety in organic foods.

This textbook compiled by a team of editors and an international collection of authors focuses on the management issues facing producers of organic beef, swine, poultry and other meat species. It also includes background articles on the history of organic operations, current market and regulatory issues, the differences between organic and conventional meats, and the future of the organic movement worldwide.

edited by Steven C. Ricke, et al.
Wiley-Blackwell, 2012
Cover Art: Organic Meat Production and Processing
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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Review: Appalachian Toys and Games from A to Z

The toys and games described in this watercolor-illustrated children's picture book are authentic 19th century pastimes enjoyed by youngsters growing up in America's Appalachia Mountains.

Ranging from "A is for apple dolls" (a wrinkled toy molded from Rome apples) to "W is for whimmydiddles" (a toy carved by young boys on a stick with a spinner), author Linda Hager Pack provides an alphabetical sampling of traditional games, toys, and songs depicting playtime in 19th century Appalachia. The book describes familiar toys like marbles, slingshots and pick-up-sticks along with lesser-known toys such as limberjacks, Tom Walkers, and buzz buttons.

The letter "C" stands for corn shuck doll, "D" is for drop the handkerchief, "F" is for fox and hound, "G" is for game of graces, and "H" is for hoop and stick. The alphabet continues...

Continued in ... The Book Stall
by Linda Hager Pack
The University Press of Kentucky, 2013

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Lousy Sex: The Purpose of the Past

"For millenia, evolution has been shaping human genes for a single purpose - reproduction. Those who didn't measure up didn't reproduce. Evolution is a harsh mistress. Genes that helped animals make more of themselves survived. 
"At the moment of conception each of us is given that legacy - helices full of genes as old as life itself. Genes that brought fish from the dark into the light, genes that made lizards strong, genes that allowed apes to stand up, genes that crushed others and forged a living from their remains, genes that will write poetry and explore constellations, genes that will stare and the stars and wonder, and genes to make us care about all of it. A genomeful of genes."

excerpted from:
Lousy Sex: Creating Self in an Infectious World
by Gerald N. Callahan
University Press of Colorado, 2013

Sunday, July 14, 2013

What's Out There: Lousy Sex

In Lousy Sex Gerald Callahan explores the science of self, illustrating the immune system’s role in forming individual identity. Blending the scientific essay with deeply personal narratives, these poignant and enlightening stories use microbiology and immunology to explore a new way to answer the question, "who am I?"

“Self” has many definitions. Science has demonstrated that 90 percent of the cells in our bodies are bacteria—we are in many respects more non-self than self. In Lousy Sex, Callahan considers this microbio-neuro perspective on human identity together with the soulful, social perception of self, drawing on both art and science to fully illuminate this relationship.

In his stories about where we came from and who we are, Callahan uses autobiographical episodes to illustrate his scientific points.

Through stories about the sex lives of wood lice, the biological advantages of eating dirt, the question of immortality, the relationship between syphilis and the musical genius of Beethoven, and more, this book creates another way, a chimeric way, of seeing ourselves.

by Gerald N. Callahan
University Press of Colorado, 2013

Thursday, June 27, 2013

History Book Review: Vodka

Does the word "vodka" derive from the Russian "voda," meaning water, or the Polish "wodka," derived from "woda," or water? Historians from the two countries will argue incessantly on the origins of the world's favorite liquor, which almost certainly originated somewhere in Eastern Europe during  the 14th or 15th century.

This new volume in The Edible Series of Reaktion Books explores how a rather unremarkable liquid -- pure alcohol distilled from grain -- became such a potent spirit, both culturally and economically. Once a humble drink known only to Eastern Europeans, it is now the most popular liquor in both the U.S. and Britain, and probably the world.

by Patricia Herlihy
Reaktion Books, 2013

Continued in The Book Stall

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Artwork: Crystal Head Vodka Glasses and Bottle

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Well Read Books: The Do-It-Yourself Psychotherapy Book

This book is based upon the two secret factors behind every successful psychotherapy. Using these ingredients, Dr. Martin Shepard presents an action oriented program designed to help you feel better, achieve more and maximize your potential for a full and rich life.

"This book was written both for 'normal' people interested in living an even richer and more fulfilling existence and for those individuals who feel themselves to be 'neurotic,' troubled, adrift, or otherwise unhappy.

"For this second group the Do-It-Yourself approach is presented as a very real alternative to formal psychotherapy." ~ Martin Shepard, M.D.

by Martin Shepard 
The Permanent Press, 1986
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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Well Read Books: How to Get Your Boss's Job

The complete handbook for the ambitious man (or woman) who wants to acquire new power in the office.

If you have ever thought you could perform your superior's task better than he does, this detailed handbook will give you step-by-step instructions.

Here are the tools for self-evaluation to discover what leadership qualities you are lacking; the techniques for examining the positions above you especially to discern if they are dead ends; and advice about what job is right for you.

The Secrets of Executive Success
by George Proxy
Funk & Wagnalls 1969
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Sunday, June 9, 2013

Well Read Books: The Itch

"There are a thousand causes underlying a condition of itching. They can include anything from dandruff to diabetes.

"In medical discussion and articles the term pruritis is used to indicate itching. To show the low status of the word, a similar-sounding word, prurience, means lewdness in thought or desire. An "itch plant," which is found in tropical countries and which is used to make itching powder, is call mucuna pruriens.

Why do people scratch? Some believe that the pain produced by the scratching is a mean of stopping the itching. The physiological explanation is that itching stops when pain supervenes. But the explanation lies deeper...

The Itch and what to do besides scratching
by J. I. Rodale
Rodale Books, 1971

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Thursday, June 6, 2013

Denali National Park

The second edition of this guidebook updates and reorganizes a first edition published ten years ago by the defunct Alaska Northwest Books and now long out of print. It provides detailed information on the history of the region and advice on exploring by foot, train, car, bus, boat or even sled dog team.

The first part of the book, titled "The Story of Denali," describes the natural processes that shaped the place and the varied ecosystems supporting mammals, plants and birds. Wildlife and plant checklists are included in the back of the book.

The second half of the volume is dedicated to "Exploring Denali" with separate chapters dividing it into four regions. Typical visitor information and resources are provided, detailing the location of campgrounds, trails, historical sites, drives and excursions.

The Complete Visitors Guide to the Mountain, Wildlife, and Year-Round Outdoor Activities
by Bill Sherwonit
Mountaineers Books, 2013
Continued in The Nature Pages
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Monday, May 27, 2013

Gulp: Women's Farts More Stinky

According to Michael Levitt, author of 34 research papers on intestinal gas, “the flatus of women has a significantly greater concentration of hydrogen sulfide" and is deemed to have a significantly worse odor than

The potency of women's farts is balanced out, however, by the male’s “greater volume of gas per passage.”

excerpted from:
Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach

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Thursday, April 11, 2013

History Book Review: The Age of Edison

University of Tennessee historian Ernest Freeberg recounts the story of Thomas Edison’s light bulb invention and how it revolutionized the world, illuminating cities and expanding workdays, invigorating new industries and changing the way people the world over live their lives.

It is also the story of how Edison single-handedly (and this may be his greatest invention) came up with a new style of inventing, using a coordinated program of scientific research and product development that systematically solves problems and pragmatically develops products to market.

While Edison is credited with inventing the incandescent light bulb, this book makes clear that it was a collective achievement. Edison and his fellow inventors created a technology with transformative applications far beyond their dreams, from billboards and night clubs and amusement parks to hospials and highways and factories.

Freeberg's history helps us imagine a time, not so long ago, when "a light to hold the night at bay" was an awesome wonder, offering "liberation from one of the primordial limits imposed by nature on the human will."

Electric Light and the Invention of Modern America
by Ernest Freeberg
Penguin Press, 2013
Continued in Out of the Past

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Artwork: Thomas Edison with the first light bulbs 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

See the Movie Review: The Films of the Nineties

Compiled by man-and-wife college professors in Connecticut, this compendium of nearly 3,330 movies released to theaters in the 1990s provides details on the production companies, leading performers, directors and others responsible for the work along with brief descriptions and occasional reviews.

Not included in this reference are documentaries, porn films, experimental works or independent features that escaped the attention of film critics during the decade.

The authors give an overview assessment of the decade's films in a brief introduction, complaining about a preponderance of movies based on old TV series, gratuitous violence, and a "dearth of writers who know how to tell a story." But they rave about the abundance of  excellent character actors working their magic during the 1990s, from Steve Buscemi in Fargo and Simon Callow in Shakespeare in Love to Stockard Channing in First Wives Club and Judi Dench in the James Bond movies.

"The day will come when some critic will complain that they don't make movies like those of the 1990s anymore," they conclude.

A Complete, Qualitative Filmography of Over 3000 Feature-Length English Language Films, Theatrical and Video-Only, Released Between January 1, 1990, and December 31, 1999
by Robert A. Nowlan

Friday, March 15, 2013

Now Exploring "An Insect View of Its Plain"

During the nineteenth century, insects became a very fashionable subject of study, and the writing of the day reflected this popularity. However, despite an increased contemporary interest in ecocriticism and cultural entomology, scholars have largely ignored the presence of insects in nineteenth-century literature.

This volume addresses that critical gap by exploring the cultural and literary position of insects in the work of Henry David Thoreau, Emily Dickinson, and John Muir.

Insects, Nature and God in Thoreau, Dickinson and Muir
by Rosemary Scanlon McTier
McFarland, 2013
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Review: Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey

This book is a history of the bourbon industry, beginning with its foundations in the small pot stills of American farmers in the late 1790s. It follows the growth of large distillers and rectifiers and the booms and busts of the beverage's market through wars and Prohibition, concluding with the emergence of craft distillers returning to small stills of the whiskey's origins.

"What made bourbon famous was the aging process employed by its distillers, one that took place in charred oak barrels," historian Michael R. Veach explains. "It was known at lease as early as the Roman Empire that water and wine stored in oak barrels charred on the inside stayed fresher longer. By the fifteenth century the process had been appropriated by the French to flavor and color brandy and cognac. And at some point in the early nineteen century it was adopted by Kentucky distillers and allowed them to produce a whiskey with a sweet caramel/vanilla flavor and a red color."

An American Heritage
by Michael R. Veach 
The University Press of Kentucky, 2013
Continued in ... The Book Stall

New Guidance: The New Stokes Field Guide to Birds

The culmination of many years of research, observation, and study, The New Stokes Field Guide to Birds is a factually, visually, and organizationally superior photographic field guide.

Available in Eastern and Western volumes, these easy-to-use guides feature over 4,600 North American bird species with stunning color photographs.

The New Stokes Field Guide to Birds: Eastern Region
by Donald Stokes and Lillian Stokes
Little, Brown and Company, 2013

The New Stokes Field Guide to Birds: Western Region
by Donald Stokes and Lillian Stokes
Little, Brown and Company, 2013

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Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Accommodated Animal

"Likewise to every beast of the earth and to every foule of the heaven,
and to every thing that moveth upon the earth, which hath life in it
selfe, every greene herbe shall be for meate."
Genesis 1:30

While the early Bible attentively noted the presence of other creatures in our world, they are never referred to by the English word "animal" in the Great Bible of 1539, the Geneva Bible of 1560 or the King James Version of 1611.

The widely used noun is likewise missing from almost all of Shakespeare's oeuvre, save eight instances, while the words "beast" and "creature" appear more than a hundred times and references to specific species are

"Exit, pursued by a bear."

The distinction is significant, according to professor Laurie Shannon, reflecting an important change in our relationship with the natural world and its non-human creatures, denying "animals" a place in the world that our thinking previously accommodated.
Cosmopolity in Shakespearean Locales
by Laurie Shannon
University Of Chicago Press, 2012

Friday, March 1, 2013

Review: Animal Origami

True magic lies in transforming an angular piece of ordinary paper into a life-like representation of a living animal. Origami master Joost Langeveld offers this boxed set of challenging exercises for nimble paper

Langeveld's origami instruction book explains how to fold 20 different animals from the turtles to tigers, and from elephants to whales. There are folded creatures from the African plain and hand-crafted critters from
the ocean deep.

Continued in ... Animal Origami

by Joost Langeveld
Thunder Bay Press, 2011

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Review: Contagious

Word-of-mouth often leads to popularity, or notoriety. It is much more effective than any form of traditional advertising and it seriously impacts the products people buy, the way they behave, and what they discuss.

So, how do you get it? What makes people talk about certain subjects rather than others? What makes some online content go viral? According to marketing professor Jonah Berger, the answer came be found in the psychology of social transmission.

Berger and his colleagues in the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania studied hundreds of products, analyzed thousands of news articles, and tracked millions of purchases in an effort to understand why people talk about and share certain things more than others with the objective of helping marketers By applying this knowledge to their own products and ideas, marketers craft "contagious" content that is more likely to spread.

"We noticed that the same six 'ingredients' or principles were often at work," Berger explains. "Six key STEPPS, as I call them, that cause things to be talked about, shared, and imitated."

Berger's six STEPPS to contagiousness are delineated as Social Currency, Triggers, Emotion, Public, Practical Value, and Stories. Each chapter of his book, Contagious, focuses on one of these principles with research and examples showing how individuals, companies and organizations have applied them to help popularize their products and ideas.

Berger's book has some clear and important implications for anyone selling something, whether it is broccoli at a farmers market or an e-book online. By understanding why people talk about and share things, you can make your own product more contagious.

Why Things Catch On
by Jonah Berger
Simon & Schuster, 2013

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Saturday, February 16, 2013

Review: Making Peg Dolls

"When we watch children immersed in imaginative play, and one child presents us with a bit of wood saying, 'This is my baby,' these imaginings of children at play cross the expanses of history and culture to connect us in a universal way," writes author Margaret Bloom in her introduction to this book of peg doll inspirations.

Originally created from wooden laundry pegs, the dolls in this book are designed in the Waldorf education tradition that encourages imaginative play and emotional development through neutral faces and minimal features.

The 60 designs and patterns for peg dolls included in this book are arranged by season, Spring through Winter, with three fairy tale sets in the back of the book for making dolls for The Three Bears, Red Riding Hood, and Hansel and Gretel. Introductory chapters review materials and techniques and offer a glossary of stitches.

by Margaret Bloom
Hawthorn Press, 2013

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Review: Fruit Fields in My Blood

by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 1992. All rights reserved.

The fruit orchards of the Northwest are a seasonal home to a little-known subculture of migratory workers known as the "Okies" -- a mixture of people whose parents and grandparents left Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri and Texas during the 1930s to follow the crops.

The Dust Bowl days of the Great Depression that prompted their first migration are a distant memory, but many Okies remained in the fruit fields 50 years later, pursuing a peripatetic lifestyle by choice that their grandparents followed out of necessity.

Author Toby Sonneman and her husband, photographer Rick Steigmeyer, discovered the Okies 20 years ago when they abandoned their unsatisfying city lives and took jobs as itinerant fruit pickers in central Washington. They spent a half dozen years on the "fruit run," traveling back and forth across the country from orchard to orchard, all the while keeping a record of their experiences in words and pictures.

"For all the hardships -- low pay, low status, back-breaking work, and often poor conditions in the field and inadequate housing -- most of the people who work in the fields and the orchards are not downtrodden, beaten individuals," Sonneman writes.

Her text emphasizes the self-esteem of individuals and the cohesiveness of a community that mainstream society failed to recognize.

Steigmeyer's black-and-white photos -- mostly from the 1970s -- aptly illustrate this viewpoint. His intimate portraits and slice-of-life pictures of migrant camps, bosses, children and orchards portray an earthy, hard-working and close-knit people.

"Since the Great Depression little has been heard of the Okie migrants. They are considered extinct, as if all the poor white southern migrants had been absorbed into America's melting pot," writes Sonneman, who grew up as a Jewish high school student on Chicago's South Side.

"Cultural assumptions of an educated, middle-class society have often prevented Okie migrants from being understood or visible beyond the images from the Great Depression. Yet many Okies have remained in agricultural work by choice rather than by economic bondage, carving a unique niche in the history of agricultural labor.

Fruit Fields in My Blood, which won the 1992 Western States Book Awards for creative nonfiction, follows the annual summer migration of pickers from the cherry orcards of central California to the Tri Cities, Wenatchee and Flathead Lake in Montana. Come fall, they harvest plums, pears and apples in Wenatchee and Cashmere. And in winter many go south to Florida to pick citrus.

Sonneman describes the work of fruit picking in these places and gives voice to the Okies' beliefs and concerns. Their judgments can be brutally honest or hardened with bitterness. A picker who made the long trek from Wenatchee to Montana only to find the cherries at Flathead Lake ruined by rain told Sonneman, 
"Well, it usta be we'd come up here and they'd just guarantee us a place to stay and two, three hundred dollars even is the cherries was all busted, just so a guy didn't lose nothin'. But now you know they got these Meskins workin' out there and they stopped doin' that."

Another picker agreed: "People can go out there and work for years and years for the same farmers and be just as loyal as they can about picking his good and his bad, workin' for whatever price he wants to pay and everything, thinking that he'll treat them right, and then all of a sudden you got out there one year and he's got all wetbacks out there, tellin' you he don't need you anymore."

This over-supply of labor that leads to lower piece-rates has driven most of the modern-day Okies from the fruit fields, according to Sonneman. She also blames child labor laws that prohibit families from working together and higher gas prices that make the migratory life less profitable.

The Okie lifestyle may be nearing its final harvest. If so, Sonneman and Steigmeyer may have come along just in time to collect the ripe fruits of a poorly appreciated people.

"Although they are regarded with disdain and encouraged by schools, communities, and government organizations to leave agricultural work rather than to improve it, these people have miraculously clung to their self-respect, believing in the dignity and value of their work. A sense of pride sustains them."

Okie Migrants in the West
by Toby F. Sonneman, with photographs by Rick Steigmeyer
University of Idaho Press, 1992.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Submarine in Limbo

U.S. Submarine Veterans, a 13,800-member organization of former submarine servicemembers, has asked Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus "that the United States Navy officially reopen the investigation of USS Scorpion (SSN 589)."

According to USA Today, "The Scorpion went down May 22, 1968, killing 99 men and foundering 11,220 feet underwater in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The sub carried two nuclear torpedoes and a nuclear reactor. A Navy Court of Inquiry found that year that 'the cause of the loss cannot be definitively ascertained,' leaving the sub's demise a matter of controversy for decades."

Inspired by the disappearance of The Scorpion, author John Wallace Spencer wrote "Limbo of the Lost: Actual Stories of Sea Mysteries," a book published in 1969 detailing strange disappearances, many related to "the Bermuda Triangle."

"More than a thousand people and over a hundred ships and planes have mysteriously disappeared in an area of the Atlantic Ocean that I call Limbo of the Lost," Spencer explains.

"Tragedies connected to this region continually occur without explanation, without pattern, without warning, and without reason."

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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Review: Kit Carson

Best known today for his role in the tragic "Long Walk" of  the Navajos as Col. Christopher Carson of the First New Mexico Volunteers, "Kit" Carson was a mythical hero in dime novels of the 19th century and movie Westerns of the mid-20th century who fought savages, protected the virtuous and helped open the frontier.

This biography portrays the real-life Carson as Scots-Irish border man - a trapper, guide, hunter, soldier - shaped by his culture and his times. Rather than a stereotypic Indian killer, it argues that he matured intellectually and ethically as he grew older.

"A man of action rather than of a philosophical turn of mind, he performed duties that made a difference, for better or worse, for the people he lived with and worked among," David A. Remley explains.

The Life of an American Border Man 
by David A. Remley
University of Oklahoma Press, 2012
Continued in ... Out of the Past
Portrait: Kit Carson
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Monday, January 14, 2013

Resting the Meatballs

A leading authority on the history of food, Massimo Montanari recalls making meatballs from boiled beef, cooked cardoons, parmesan, bread crumbs, eggs, salt and paper one evening and after shaping them and placing them on a plate, "Marina" cautioned:

"Now, before cooking them, let us leave them to rest for a few hours. That way they firm up and get thoroughly blended."

Montari associates the phrase "letting the meatballs rest" with the creative process in his mind.

"Ideas are the result of experiences, encounters, reflections, suggestions: many ingredients that come together and then turn into a new thought. Before that can happen, it is useful to let those ingredients rest, to give them time to settle, to become blended, to firm up. The resting of meatballs is like the resting of thoughts: After a while they turn out better."
~ Massimo Montanari

from "Resting the Meatballs"

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Sunday, January 13, 2013

Marijuana - The Assasin Drug?

"Young people who indulged in the drug during the thirties [1930s] were well aware before they started that it was almost expected of them to rape a girl, to submit to the advances of a fellow user, to rob a liquor store or a gas station, to use an old woman's crutch with which to beat her into insensibility. The untitled leaders of today's generation of pot users advocate love, both political and social. They proclaim pot to be one solution toward this end and, when proclaimed in the proper manner to the users of pot, the drug indeed becomes the peaceful panacea that they are all assured that it is."
~ Jonathan Smith
Triumph News Co., 1967

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