Vickey Kall's Blog

March 28, 2018

… are on my HistoryLosAngeles blog. Here’s a list:

For Angelenos: Forget earthquakes; we’re overdue for a flood
Colorizing History
New Book: Banking on History (the story of artist Millard Sheets and Home Savings & Loan)
The West Wing’s Tornado Disaster

Have fun, and watch for more!


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Published on March 28, 2018 12:07 • 1 view

February 13, 2018

I saw this story about Mardi Gras beads last year and saved it somewhere, intending to put it into my Triweekly Report (“The Three Most Interesting History Stories I’ve Found”) and post it here before this year’s Fat Tuesday.

Of course, I forgot. In case you’re curious, last Saturday’s Triweekly Report featured the history of Hobos, the demise of Ladies’ Menus, and the revelation that people who lived in Britain 10,000 years ago (and never left) were dark-skinned. If those types of stories spark with you, sign up on the right and you’ll get a one-page newsletter every three weeks..

Anyway, back to Mardi Gras beads. Smithsonian’s reporter tracked them all over the world, and there is simply nothing good to say about them. The plastic is a wasteful use of raw materials, which is shipped in bulk to China where exploited young people string beads. The finished product is then shipped to the USA (more waste) to be thrown off floats in New Orleans and wind up in gutters (on or off a person’s neck).

Did I mention that the cheap plastic and paint is loaded with lead and other toxins? The thousands of necklaces on the streets and ground and swept into the garbage load roads and landfills with poison.

Here’s numbers: 25 million pounds of beads will hit New Orleans streets this week, as they do each year. It’s “estimated that up to 920,000 pounds of mixed chlorinated and brominated flame retardants were in the beads,” according to the article. 

Fun read (not, but fascinating). Great way to kick off six weeks of repentance.


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Published on February 13, 2018 10:51

December 31, 2017

Resolutions used to be fun: a way to jump start some area of my life that was lagging. I have nothing against resolutions. But at age 63, I cannot see a benefit from them either. I think I’ve aged out.

I don’t have anything to prove, nor do I want to start a new project. Keep on keeping on is a pretty good mantra for now, though it’s not really a resolution. There’s honestly nothing that I feel very resolute about.

I hope things get better for our government. I hope America finds its way back to all the uplifting and ethical idealism of the Constitution. I hope we don’t fall into war, and that we turn away from the idea that money equals privilege in this land. Maya Angelou said that we, as a people, are only as strong as our weakest citizens, just as a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Some in power would discard our weakest, and this cannot stand. As policy, it sucks. Ethically, it’s indefensible.

So I guess my resolutions are for us as a whole, not for me. Let’s be better. Let’s not be bought. Let’s not believe that reality stars can solve our problems; let’s face those problems instead. They have pretty deep roots and have been ignored for too long.

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Published on December 31, 2017 20:45 • 2 views

December 22, 2017

Here’s something I wish was fake news:

There have been ONE MILLION CASES OF CHOLERA in Yemen. One million. Cholera.

Just thought you should know.

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Published on December 22, 2017 18:24 • 2 views

December 15, 2017

Ever read articles like this?

“A lack of sleep costs the American economy $411 billion a year… Surf the web at work sometimes? That costs the American people $63 billion a year.”

One study even found that “Americans are willing to pay $177 a year to avoid climate change and save the world. That’s about 75 percent more than what they pay for cable TV.”

Those quotes come from the beginning of a short essay by Eli Cook, published on Zocalo Public Square. It’s about investmentality: our ingrained tendency to put a price tag on everything. We Americans measure it all – behavior, emotions, leisure, art – in dollars and sense. There’s a history to this, going back to 18th century. Our particular strain of capitalism helps form it, and so does the country’s history of slaveholding.

Excellent and thought-provoking read, and not that long.

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Published on December 15, 2017 19:30 • 1 view

December 13, 2017

It strikes me that the Republicans might realize there’s one way to paint themselves as heroes and defenders of justice leading up to the 2018 midterm elections.

One way that would even them up with the Democratic Party’s ousting of their male assaultors.

One way that would separate them from Trump’s braggadocio about pussy-grabbing, and the misogynistic themes of his tweets.

One way to rule them all and in the darkness bind them … sorry, I default to fantasy at every opportunity.

The way is this: start impeachment proceedings before the midterm elections.

A banner issue to unite and rally the party! Sure, you’ll lose the hard-core deplorables, but at this point those who would still vote for Trump must be so stupid that a misprinted butterfly ballot could probably capture most of their votes anyway.

Go, Republicans, go! You got this!


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Published on December 13, 2017 10:15 • 6 views

December 3, 2017

Remember The Peter Principle? Well, you have to remember 1969 to really know it.

The Peter Principle is a book, and its thesis is that good employees will be promoted for their performance until they reach a level of incompetency, and stay there. The common example was an excellent teacher who keeps getting promoted until he or she becomes a principal, stuck in an office and doing no teaching at all. And he or she sucks at being a principal.

It was an example everyone could understand and also helped me remember how to spell principal and principle.

Makes sense, right? It was one of those ideas that no one really considered, then suddenly, you could not remove it from the collective knowledge. The most bizarre thing about th Peter Principle is to try and imagine a world where it did not apply. And before the late 1960s, the Peter Principal had never occurred to most people.

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Published on December 03, 2017 23:24 • 2 views

November 21, 2017

Following up on my last post: At what point do I begin to laugh demonically, or cry, or vomit?

Here’ something far more readable than that lat sentence: Robin Abcarian’s essay in the Los Angeles Times of this morning, November 21, 2017:

Stop using Bill Clinton to hammer on liberals. 
Sexual harassment is a man problem, not a partisan one. 


In a James Bond movie, M (played by Judi Dench) was told, “Sometimes I don’t think you have the balls for this job.”

Her response: “Perhaps, but the advantage is I don’t have to think with them all the time.”



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Published on November 21, 2017 11:00 • 2 views

November 19, 2017

I read a tweet – it may have been from Stephen Douglass (who is amazingly active on Twtter, for a dead man) – that pointed out: If we’re going to accept what accusers say about predators we don’t like, we have to accept and listen when they accuse those we do like.

So hearing that some slimeball producer is accused by multiple woman of groping is something I can self-righteously celebrate. Yeah, payback’s come for you, jerk! That’s what you get! Hollywood bigwigs  or politicians who use their position to prey on women and children? I’m righteously glad their lives are being ruined, because they’ve ruined many other lives with naught but a selfish urge in their minds/dicks.

But hearing that someone I like is accused … I immediately want to make excuses. As was said on SNL,  “George Takei? No!” And poor old first President Bush? Seriously? That’s just bizarre. Al Franken? An SNL alum, being sexist?  Well, hey, different times … .

No! Bad Feminist, bad!

All accusers do deserve to be heard, listened to with respect.

These revelations have been held in for so long that we’re bound to see ugliness. It might be overwhelming because the problem IS overwhelming and has been for decades.

But we also know that witch hunts are possible in this charged atmosphere. A single accuser with no evidence could be:

Telling the truth. Absolutely.
Settling a score (so, lying)
Dealing with a memory that’s been warped for some reason. (I’m thinking of the children from a Manhattan Beach preschool in the 1980s, children who came forward with bizarre accusations against teachers that were never proved. In at least one of those cases, the child was later confirmed to have been molested by a family member, not a teacher. There’s also the possibility that drugs and alcohol could play havoc with real memories)

I don’t want to stand in judgment on either accusers or the accused. Can’t read minds. I would like to see this pattern of abuse uprooted and changed, though. I think that is possible.

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Published on November 19, 2017 12:13 • 2 views

November 3, 2017

The classic move was faster and lower. What woman hasn’t had to deal with this?

As someone who was just starting to wear a bra in the mid 1960s, when rebellious women began burning theirs, I want to comment on the current revelations about sexually abusive men in power.

It’s always been a problem, and it’s always been swept out of sight.

I’m glad things are changing. Do you wonder why this change did not happen 30 years ago? After all, Women’s Lib and Feminism emerged in the 60s. Do young women have any idea just how drastically things changed in the 60s and 70s?

Please realize that tens of thousands of girls like me were pretty much told we could only be nice, were expected to find a man to lean on who would support us. We could be teachers or nurses, but we absolutely should give up such work if Hubbie wanted us to stay home. Of all the skills we accumulated, the most important was cooking well and keeping a neat home. Seriously. These lessons were embedded in every bit of media we saw. Girls wore dresses. We were not the same as boys.

Then it all changed. When feminists marched; our parents and teachers laughed and mocked them at first. Within a few years, however, most men and women changed their minds. We accepted that women could work in almost any industry! Yay! And women could wear pants. They did not have to dress or act or speak simply to please men!

I think the changes we lived through were so drastic that most of us could not envision even more change. Our aspirations switched abruptly from Donna Reed, the perfect mom, to Mary Tyler Moore in a newsroom. It was dizzying.

Millennial and Gen-X women were raised in a new era. No one told them they had to stay home and cook, or that they couldn’t make their own choices. Honestly, did they see the need for further change? No, everything was fine.

But men still hold a lot of power, and certain men don’t quibble about using it however they want. Surely it was a rude shock to all those women (or girls; or even boys) that a guy could use his position to molest them. That his money and power protected him from accusations. That he could behave like a lordling from Game of Thrones without fear of consequences.

That they could be so powerless in the 21st century.

Now that paradigm’s being flipped on its ass. I guess tipping point is the term to use, though it doesn’t ring with enough gravitas. I mean, we’re talking about upsetting the power balance in male-dominated industries that control millions of dollars – and the halls of government, too. We might see hierarchies that have been in place for decades, maybe centuries, shift and crumble.

I never could have predicted this and I love that it’s bubbling over. Where will the dust settle?

But there’s a dark side, too. The possibility of innocent men being accused is there. Witch hunts. Backlash. Unforeseen consequences. Or everything could settle back the way it was before, after a few token arrests have been made (I hope it’s too late for that last possibility).

In the midst of all this, let’s remember that a year ago a man was publicly exposed, bragging about grabbing women by the pussy, because “when you’re a star they let you do it.” And we elected him president.

Life is unpredictable. Things can change without warning, in ways you don’t expect. I wonder if most younger women realize how fragile and recently won their freedoms are. I hope we’re all wise and brave enough to fight back when we’re threatened.

When I read The Handmaid’s Tale in the 1980s, I thought of it as science fiction. No longer. I’ve seen too many illogical swings in our society, and I’ve studied too much history. The Holocaust would seem incredible, horrid fantasy to sane people in the 1920s, but it happened. Anything can happen.


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Published on November 03, 2017 23:39 • 2 views