Show: The humble Farmer

Episode: humble 2010 0321.mpg

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Episode Description:

Well received by the intelligentsia in Northern New England, this is the same old music and humorous social commentary show The humble Farmer has produced every week since April 6, 1978 for radio and now on television .

This week Stephane Grappelli, Bix Beiderbecke, Ted Weems, Hoagy Carmichael, Ukulele Ike, and Fletcher Henderson. Pictures over the music are the Chaplin films The Fireman and The Vagabond found on public domain.

The show is tightly scripted. Here's the script for the week of March 21, 2010:
1. Do you seem to be using more toilet paper than you used to? Do you replace the roll every other day? Did you ever stop to think that this might be because toilet paper is getting thicker? There’s not so much toilet paper on the roll as there used to be back when it felt like wax paper. Toilet paper is getting thicker because you are buying it by the roll and not the linear foot. Toilet paper profits have soared in recent years because most of what you are buying nowadays is air. Which reminds me that 40 or more years ago there was a man in Rockland, Maine who sold air. He had a store, and, among other things, he sold lobsters. When you’d go in there and ask for two lobsters, he’d break out a thick paper bag. And then he’d stick his hand down into to the lobster tank and he’d lift out a lobster upside down and throw the lobster and about a cup of water into the bag. And then he’d scoop out about as much water with the second lobster and he’d throw that big open bag up on a scale. If you lived in Rockland, you’ll remember that over that scale there was a ceiling fan that pressed the open bag down onto the scale with a driving 40 mile an hour wind, and that was what you’d pay for. One day, when his clerk gave me the price on two lobsters, I took them out of the bag, handed them back to him and said to weigh them again --- I’d take them without the bag. He said the boss wasn’t going to like it, but when he put those two lobsters on the scale I saved 90 cents by not having to pay for the bag, the salt water and the compressed air. --- Which brings me back to your bathroom. The next time you look at your roll of toilet paper, ask yourself how much of what you bought was air.
2. I read in the Bangor Daily News that some kid accidentally fired a pistol on a bus. No one was hurt. When I was a kid I was crazy about guns. I mean I wanted guns. Although I only owned two guns in my life, I still have the single shot 22 I bought with my potato picking money around 1949. The other gun was a 22 pistol I bought from Ralph Hupper for $2 when I was 15. It was an ancient rickety thing and didn't always fire. Sometimes you had to pull the trigger several times before the thing would go off, so it really wasn’t a weapon you’d want strapped to your side at the OK Corral. I remember being out in the blueberry field and pulling the trigger several times while looking at the wobbly cylinder. When it finally went off, the powder splattered against the barrel and went in my eye. Seems as I couldn't see for three or four days. I was lucky I didn't lose an eye. The kid on the bus was lucky he didn't kill someone. In every generation a certain percentage of the young boys are crazy. Otherwise, there isn't a country in the world that would be able to raise an army --- or need one.
3. Every morning I get an email from the Bangor Daily News. It is a list of headlines for the day with one or two teaser sentences that let the reader determine if the article warrants attention. This is a very valuable service, because there are usually one or two items there that you and I can discuss here. Perhaps you know that there is a controversy over whether or not cell phones can cause cancer. The way I understand it, the Maine State Legislature is now considering posting a warning on each unit. Is the jury still out on this? You tell me, because a lot of people with letters after their names have spoken out on each side of this controversy. Of course we know that for years the tobacco companies were able to hire people with impressive letters after their names who presented tobacco’s own scientific evidence and swore up and down that smoking did not cause cancer. You might remember a movie about one scientist the tobacco companies ruined for blowing the whistle on them. So I don’t know which side to believe about this cell phone cancer thing. I'm not concerned for myself, because we are not in the socio-economic group of people who can afford the luxury of a cell phone. But wouldn't you really like to know if some people will suffer brain damage because they used cell phones? Or microwave ovens? I would. The comment I enjoyed most in the newspaper article was that a posted cancer warning could drive down cell phone sales, adversely affecting business. In other words, I don't know if cell phones can give some people cancer or not, but if posting a warning is going to cost me money, I'm against posting that warning. And right there, doesn’t Ibsen's An Enemy of The People come quickly to mind?
4. We often talk about the mistakes young boys make because I can testify from firsthand experience. But our present topic is young girls, for which I have only hearsay. A woman close to 80, who outlived her first husband, is starting to require a bit of medical attention. Showing signs of mild decay, like the Wonderful One Hoss Shay. She recently told me that she lived her life backwards. When she was young and healthy, she was married to a doctor.
5. Once more into the email hoax breach, dear friends. At last, here’s an informative article about hoax emails that came in an email. It is about hoax emails and how they have proliferated over the past decade. If you are one of the millions of unfortunates who have friends or relations who delight in rumor mongering, you might already have the habit of running their emails through Snopes or FactCheck or David Emery’s Urban Legends page. Or perhaps you simply delete them. I do. Don’t you sometimes wonder why more of our friends don’t? Like the girl who was arrested for stealing a pack of cigarettes, a DVD movie, a Coke and a bag of chips, one would have to assume that they can’t have much of a social life. They seem to have nothing better to do but pass along the latest hoax email. According to the article I have in hand, after 10 years of checking these emails, David Emery says that less than 10 percent of them are true. So. What should make you suspect an email is a hoax? It contains a lot of misspelled words --- rows of exclamation points --- words that SCREAM AT YOU in capital letters. Proof or common sense is not effective in combating political propaganda, or something that your Aunt Mary wants to believe. And here’s what I thought was the most interesting thing in this article because it says a lot about all of our friends, relatives and neighbors today: the more popular the email, the more likely it is to be bogus. The bigger the lie, the more people want to believe it.
6. One of my favorite books is a History of Science. Because it was written 100 years ago, I’ve kept an eye out for an updated version and was glad to find another History of Science online today. As I started to read I learned that perhaps the first scientific observation made by man was that a dropped rock falls to the ground --- and that no one still knows why today. Seeing some strange spellings on the second page, I Googled and found that this history was written in 1904. I’ll keep looking.
7. Harvey just sent me a video that shows how the International Space Station was put together. I can’t help but wonder how long it will be before it falls down. It is 194 feet long and probably just as wide. You can’t believe how glad I was to see that they put a picture of an airplane next to it so we could get an idea of how big it is. It’s the first thing I’ve seen in ages that wasn’t compared to the size of three football fields.
8. The snow has all melted away, the sun has been shining for three days in a row and people here in Maine are itching to get out there in the garden and plant. But do not plant yet. It is too early to plant. My brother just told me that when he woke up this morning there was a thick coating of frost on everything. He’s in Tampa.
9. Thank you for writing. Here’s a letter from Jan that says, “Dear humble, As a kid, I lived in Turkey, and traveled throughout the Middle East, frequently visiting with various archeologists. It was fascinating to discover that where we were digging, out in the middle of desert or wasteland, it had once been a heavily forested area, thousands of years before. I read and studied the legends of the areas and the people who once lived there and how the invading peoples frequently burned the area for miles and miles.
WE (humans) have been destroying our world forever, it seems... but as our world has "gotten smaller" our ability to destroy has become greater. As a Native American, I remember listening to my great grandparents and uncles telling stories of what this land used to be like and what happened. I remember my Great grandfather saying 'The term being civilized seems to mean destruction... these so called civilized men take and destroy and care not about their neighbors downstream, care not even where their grandchildren will live or how. You cannot hurt another (any being) without hurting yourself. You cannot hurt the land without destroying your mother." As a child, the words stuck in my head but without too much meaning, it was just an old man talking... But as I traveled around the world, what GG-pa said started to make sense. So, if we go the way of the dinosaurs, well, so be it. There are lots of other planets out there for humans to go and ruin. In this Nation Under Greed, I don't see much happening to help the situation, do you? Jan”

10. And here’s another letter on the environment, this one from Harvey, who says, “Hi Humble: There are a series of once prosperous civilizations that suddenly dissolved once they outgrew or depleted their resources and environment. [To] name a few, the builders of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, the Incas of Peru, the inhabitants of Easter Island, etc. Places that were rich trading harbors in Biblical times are now nearly landlocked river ports because all the trees upcountry were cut and the rivers silted in the harbors and beyond. The fabled Cedars of Lebanon that the Jews used to build their temples have long since become a distant memory. Somalia and Tibet have cut all their trees for charcoal to cook and heat their homes. Somalia has become a desert and Tibet is now subject to erosion and flooding. Some one could write a book about just such societal suicides from the past. Now we have increased our numbers, our chemical products and our power over the natural world to do the same thing on a global scale. The only problem is that there is no virgin frontier to move to on this planet and we have yet to find another within reach that could sustain our lives. Cheers Harvey” Thank you for writing.

11. From time to time, people get new email addresses and I lose contact with friends. While calling friends to get their new email addresses, I found this June 4, 2004 letter from Mt. Vernon, Maine. “Dear Humble, Would you please send me the particulars about the article in the New England Journal of Medicine about the health benefits of gazing at women’s breasts. My father is a coronary bypass survivor and would enjoy this medicine very much.” Seems as I remember calling this valuable health tip to your attention years ago and, as a public health service, I looked it up and will mention it again. “Ogling over women's breasts is good for a man's health and can add years to his life, medical experts have discovered. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, ‘Just 10 minutes of staring at the charms of a well-endowed female is roughly equivalent to a 30-minute aerobics work-out’ declared gerontologist Dr. Karen Weatherby…There's no question: Gazing at breasts makes men healthier.’ ‘Our study indicates that engaging in this activity a few minutes daily cuts the risk of stroke and heart attack in half. We believe that by doing so consistently, the average man can extend his life four to five years.’ Well. The interesting thing about this health tip is that it is a hoax, so I will not mention it again --- until some staunch elderly men can be found who are willing to advance the cause of good health and sound science by participating in such a study.
12. The email said, “Where are you in the circle of life?” I’m in one of the corners.
Thank you for considering The humble Farmer.

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