The word “bacon” derives originally from the Old High German “bacho”, meaning “buttock”, which in turn derived from the Proto-Germanic “backoz”, meaning “back”. By the 14th century, it found its way into Old French as “bacun”, meaning “back meat”. And by the 16th century, it found its way into Middle English as “bacoun”, which referred to all cured pork, not just the back meat.

Bonus Facts:

The USDA defines “bacon” as “the cured belly of a swine carcass”… mmm swine carcass…

The phrase “bring home the bacon” has been around since the early 20th century and was initially used primarily by the working class, with bacon being a staple meat for that class.

The difference between bacon and salted pork or ham is primarily in the brine used. Brine for bacon often includes sodium nitrite, sodium nitrate, and saltpeter for curing the meat; sodium ascorbate for setting the color, as well as speeding up the curing process; and brown or maple sugar for flavor, among other ingredients. One of the principle differences is that brine for ham tends to have a much higher concentration of sugar.

American Bacon, or “streaky bacon” as the British call it, is generally cut from the fatty sides of a pig’s belly. Canadian Bacon, known as “back bacon” to the British, who apparently like to have their own names for everything bacon related, is made up of the tender loins located on the back of pigs.

In continental Europe, the part of the pig American Bacon is made from is typically sliced into cubes and used as a cooking ingredient due to its high fat and rich flavor.
Bacon actually is good for the brains of unborn children. Bacon contains a nutrient called choline which has been shown to boost the intelligence of people, if they got a lot of it before they were born. You can also get choline from eggs, liver, milk, chicken, and various nuts.

Records of bacon being made go all the way back to around 1500 B.C. in China. Bacon was also popular with the Greeks and Romans.

A 200 pound pig will yield close to 20 pounds of bacon, among other popular meat products.

The patron saint of bacon is Saint Anthony the abbot. He’s also the patron saint of swine herders, butchers, epilepsy, amputees, shingles, gravediggers, hermits, lost items, and Canas Brazil.


Bill worked in a pickle factory. He had been employed there for a number of years when he came home one day to confess to his wife that he had a terrible compulsion. He had an urge to stick his penis into the pickle slicer. His wife suggested that he should see a sex therapist to talk about it, but Bill said he would be too embarrassed. He vowed to overcome the compulsion on his own.

One day a few weeks later, Bill came home and his wife could see at once that something was seriously wrong. “What’s wrong, Bill?” she asked.

“Do you remember that I told you how I had this tremendous urge to put my penis into the pickle slicer?”

“Oh, Bill, you didn’t!” she exclaimed.

“Yes, I did.” he replied.

“My God, Bill, what happened?”

“I got fired.”

“No, Bill. I mean, what happened with the pickle slicer?”

“Oh…she got fired too.”

World’s Most Beautiful Bookstores

Selexyz Bookstore in Masstricht, Holland is housed in a former Dominican church.

The coffee shop in the Selexyz Bookstore is located in the altar area of the old church that houses it.

Shakespeare and Company Antiquarian books located in Paris, France is probably the most photographed church in the world.

A view from inside Shakespeare and Company.

The Lello Bookstore in Porto, Portugal has been open since 1906, and is surely one of the most beautiful in the world.

Stained glass ceiling in Lello Bookstore.

Another view of the interior of the Lello Bookstore.

El Ateneo Bookstore in Buenas Aires, Argentina was once a theater, then a movie house, before becoming a beautiful bookstore.

Whelm: Over and Under

If you can overwhelm and underwhelm, can you also “whelm”?

Both overwhelm and underwhelm are common enough words, but they appear to imply the existence of a root word “whelm”. Does such a word exist and, if so, what does it mean?

The Oxford definition of overwhelm is as follows :
verb 1. submerge beneath a huge mass. 2. defeat completely; overpower. 3. have a strong emotional effect on. (ORIGIN from archaic whelm ‘engulf or submerge’, from Old English.)

As this makes clear, whelm is a word, but it is archaic and rarely used these days. It comes from the 14th century middle English, “whelven” or “helven”, from which we get the modern word, “helmet.” It means to cover completely, as to place an inverted bowl over the top of something, or to submerge or subsume with water. Therefore, whelm and overwhelm actually have more or less the same meaning, although overwhelm perhaps suggests a more intense degree of being engulfed, defeated, or covered.

But it’s as if overwhelm has taken over the job of its root word, making whelm redundant. These days, the original word is generally used only in poetic or deliberately archaic language. J. R. R. Tolkien, for example, used it in The Lord of the Rings.

The third sense of overwhelm listed above – “have a strong emotional effect on” – is a very recent development in the history of this word. And it’s from this that the opposite word “underwhelm” was coined. To underwhelm means, simply, to fail to impress or make a positive impact on, without any of the meanings to do with flooding, covering, or defeat. In other words, underwhelm evolved from overwhelm and not, curiously, from the rarely-used root word, “whelm,” at all.

John Mellencamp – “No Better Than This”

For decades, John Mellencamp has been a fact of life and a force of nature, having quietly used his celebrity status to help others. It is no wonder that folks around him are now talking politics, though he seemingly discounts it. He has just released his 25th CD, No Better Than This. It is a haunting affair, crafted with a rootsy vibe, an apt follow up to the earthy and heartfelt CD of 2008, Life Death Love and Freedom. For the latest, he wrote the 13 songs in a 13 day fever in 2009, during days off from the Baseball Stadium Tour with Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan. T Bone Burnett produced it, taking it on the road this time to three locations: at the historic First African Baptist Church in Savannah, GA, the legendary Sun Studio in Memphis, and the room where Delta blues legend Robert Johnson made his archetypal recordings in the Gunter Hotel in San Antonio. And we are talking seriously Lo-Fi, as the entire album was recorded mono to a single track 1955 Ampex Reel-to-Reel recording deck, and one vintage microphone.

Mellencamp, an inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, is about to be acknowledged by the Americana Music Association in the category of Lifetime Achievement Songwriting at the Americana Honors and Awards Show coming up on September 9th, at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. He has been a vocal proponent for homelessness through 1Matters and for family farms with the ongoing Farm Aid, slated this year for October 2nd in Milwaukee, WI. John is an original Farm Aid board member, along with Willie Nelson and Neil Young, having organized and participated in these iconic concerts since their inception in 1985, though none of them expected that they would still be shining a light on this issue 25 years later.

Mellencamp, who is so closely tied to and associated with the State of Indiana, is held in high regard and much esteem by his fellow Hoosiers. Not just for being a native son who has done well, but for his tenacious grasp on his home state and its values to which he has held fast all these years. For being an eloquent spokesman and proper emissary for those of us who call ourselves Hoosiers and hold to progressive and humanitarian values.

To get ready for those upcoming events outlined above, and to celebrate the release of the new album, we bring you the title track from the new CD, “No Better Than This.”

MLK vs. Beck

Glenn Beck is doing his much ballyhooed rip off of Martin Luther King today in Washington D.C., the 47th anniversary of MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech. This intellectual lightweight charlatan has his sycophantic, slack-jawed followers convinced that he has all the answers to all the problems they perceive to exist in this country today, even though he is a joke to any thinking, sentient human being looking at him and what he offers up.

This rally will fail with everyone but the true-believer in the Beck version of the worldview. Here’s a little food for thought with some comparisons between MLK and the clown prince usurper who presumes to steal this day away from a true patriot and intellect.

Jimmy Stewart – Real American Hero

Probably my all-time favorite actor is Jimmy Stewart. He starred in many of my all-time favorite movies; “Harvey”, “It’s a Wonderful Life”, “Anatomy of a Murder”, and many, many more. He usually played a man much like himself, full of virtue, humor, pathos, honesty, integrity, and an ability to be self-deprecating and disarming. He was more than an actor, however. He was also a poet, humanitarian, and a true American hero.

In 1940, already a successful and well-known actor, Jimmy Stewart was drafted into the United States Army, but ended up being rejected due to being five pounds under the required weight, given his height (at the time he weighed 143 pounds). Not to be dissuaded, Stewart then sought out the help of Don Loomis, who was known to be able to help people add or subtract pounds. Once he had gained a little weight, he enlisted with the Army Air Corps in March of 1941 and was eventually accepted, once he convinced the enlisting officer to re-run the tests.

Initially, Stewart was given the rank of private; by the time he had completed training, he had advanced to the rank of second lieutenant (January of 1942). Much to his chagrin, due to his celebrity status and extensive flight expertise (having tallied over 400 flight hours before even joining the military), Stewart was initially assigned to various “behind the lines” type duties such as training pilots and making promotional videos in the states. Eventually, when he realized they were not going to ever put him in the front line, he appealed to his commanding officer and managed to get himself assigned to a unit overseas.

In August of 1943, he found himself with the 703rd Bombardment Squadron, initially as a first officer, and shortly thereafter as a Captain. During combat operations over Germany, Stewart found himself promoted to the rank of Major. During this time, Stewart participated in several uncounted missions (on his orders) into Nazi occupied Europe, flying his B-24 in the lead position of his group in order to inspire his troops.

For his bravery during these missions, he twice received the Distinguished Flying Cross; three times received the Air Medal; and once received the Croix de Guerre from France. This latter medal was an award given by France and Belgium to individuals allied with themselves who distinguished themselves with acts of heroism.

By July of 1944, Stewart was promoted chief of staff of the 2nd Combat Bombardment wing of the Eighth Air Force. Shortly thereafter, he was promoted to the rank of colonel, becoming one of only a handful of American soldiers to ever rise from private to colonel within a four year span.

After the war, Stewart was an active part of the United States Air Force Reserve, serving as the Reserve commander of Dobbins Air Reserve Base. On July 24, 1959, he attained the rank of brigadier general (one star general).

During the Vietnam War, he flew in a B-52 on a bombing mission and otherwise continued to fulfill his duty with the Air Force Reserve. He finally retired from the Air Force on May 31, 1968 after 27 years of service and was subsequently promoted to Major General,two star general.

Bonus Facts:

Both of Stewart’s grandfathers fought in the American Civil War. He also had ancestors on his mother’s side that served in the American Revolution and the War of 1812. His father served in the Spanish-American War and World War I. His adopted son, Ronald, was killed at the age of 24 as a Marine in Vietnam.

The full list of military awards achieved by Stewart are: 2 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 4 Air Medals, 1 Army Commendation Medal, 1 Armed Forces Reserve Medal, 1 Presidential Medal of Freedom, 1 French Croix de Guerre with Palm.

As a child, Stewart was a Second Class Scout and eventually became an adult Scout leader. He was also the recipient of the prestigious Boy Scouts of America Silver Buffalo Award, of which only 674 to date have been given out since 1926. Of the other recipients besides Stewart, 14 have held the office of President of the United States.

A brigadier general is equivalent to a lower rear admiral in the navy. A major general is equivalent to a rear admiral and is typically given 10,000-20,000 troops to command and is authorized to command them independently.

U.S. law limits the number of general officers that may be on active duty at any time to 302 for the Army, 279 for the Air Force, and 80 for the Marine Corps.
Eligible officers to be considered to promotion for the rank of brigadier general (one star) are recommended to the President from a list compiled by current general officers. The President then selects officers from this list to be given the promotion. Occasionally, the President will also nominate officers not on this list, but this almost never happens. Once the President makes their selection, the Senate confirms or rejects the selected individuals by a majority vote.

The name “brigadier general” comes from the American Revolutionary War when the first brigadier generals were appointed. At that time, they were simply general officers put in charge of a brigade, hence “brigadier general”. For a time in the very early 19th century, this was the highest rank any officer in the military could achieve as the rank of major general (two star) had been abolished. The rank of major general was later re-established just before the war of 1812.

At Princeton, Stewart excelled at architecture and was eventually awarded a full scholarship for graduate work by his professors as a result of his thesis on airport design.
Stewart and Henry Fonda were roommates early in their careers. Later in life, they still shared a close friendship and, when they weren’t working, they often spent their time building and painting model airplanes with each other.

Jimmy Stewart also was an avid pilot before his military service. He received his private pilot certificate in 1935 and used to fly cross-country to visit his parents. Interestingly, when he did so, he stated that he used rail road tracks to navigate.

Stewart was also one of the investors and collaborators who helped build Thunderbird Field, which was a pilot training school built to help train pilots during WWII. During the WWII alone, over 10,000 pilots were trained there.

After WWII, he strongly considered abandoning acting and entering the aviation field, due to personal doubts that he could still act.

His first film after the war was Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life which, at the time, was considered somewhat of a flop with the public, though it was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Actor for Stewart. Partially due to this film’s poor showing at the box office, Capra’s production company went bankrupt and Stewart began to further doubt his ability to act following the war.

On January 5, 1992, It’s a Wonderful Life became the first American program ever to be broadcast on Russian television. A translated version, courtesy of Stewart and Lomonosov Moscow State University, was broadcast to over 200 million Russians on that day.

Stewart went on to act in several flops, as well as several critically acclaimed films, and by the 1950s was still considered a top tier actor over all. This was important because in 1950 he became one of the first top tier actors to work for no money up front, but rather a percentage of the gross of the film. Others had done this before, but it was rare and generally only lower end actors on the tail of their careers would agree to this. He did this on the movie Winchester ’73 where he had asked for $200,000 pay to appear in that movie and Harvey. The studio rejected, so he countered that he’d work for a percentage of the gross. He ended up taking home nearly $600,000 for Winchester ’73 alone. Hollywood’s other top-tier stars took noticed and this practiced began becoming the norm for top tier actors.

By 1954, Stewart was voted the most popular Hollywood actor in the world, displacing John Wayne. He also was the highest grossing actor that year.

Stewart was also known somewhat for his poetry. He frequently would appear on Johnny Carson’s The Tonight Show and would read various poems he had written throughout his life. One of his poems, written about his dog, so moved Carson that, by the end, Carson was choking back tears. Dana Carvey and Dennis Miller, in 1980, parodied this on Saturday Night Live. These poems were later compiled into a book called Jimmy Stewart and His Poems.

Later in life, Stewart appeared in The Magic of Lassie (1978), much to the dismay of critics and the general public, as the film was a universal flop and seen to be beneath him. Stewart’s response to them was that it was the only script he was offered that didn’t have sex, profanity, or graphic violence.

Stewart’s final film role was as the voice of Wylie Burp, in the 1991 movie An American Tail: Fievel Goes West.

Stewart devoted much of the last years of his life to trying to enhance the public’s understanding and appreciation of the U.S. constitution and the Bill of Rights as well as promote education. He died of a blood clot in his lung on July 2, 1997. Over his life, his professions included a hardware store shop-hand; a brick layer; a road worker; an assistant magician; an actor; an investor; a war hero; and a philanthropist. He also held a bachelors degree in architecture from Princeton.