About Me

My photo
Jack is a graduate of Rutgers University where he majored in history. His career in the life and health insurance industry involved medical risk selection and brokerage management. Retired in Florida for over two decades after many years in NJ and NY, he occasionally writes, paints, plays poker, participates in play readings and is catching up on Shakespeare, Melville and Joyce, etc.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Beachless Boynton Beach, a Story from Sid's Archives, a Vargas New Years Greeting and a Comment on "Prerequisites of Nationhood"

Where Did Boynton Beach's Beach Go?

A goodly number of the followers of this blog reside in Boynton Beach, Florida.  Some of them may wonder why it is that Boynton Beach, as contrasted to nearby Delray Beach or Boca Raton, actually doesn’t have a beachfront!  Well, here’s the story.

Up to 1931, this whole area, including the oceanfront, was known as the Town of Boynton.  “Beach” wasn’t part of the name until 1931 when there was a dispute as to how oceanfront property would be taxed.  Also at that time, the town’s “debt load” was pushing it toward bankruptcy.  Apparently, to resolve the problem, Boynton split off its oceanfront area except for retaining rights to a municipal beach.  This new, separate and highly desirable area took on the new name of Boynton “Beach.”  Eight years later, in 1939, that oceanfront community officially changed its name to Ocean Ridge.  Two years later, the Town of Boynton was able to add the word “Beach” to its name, becoming Boynton Beach, which continues to be what it is called in its present form as a city, even though the only “beach” it possesses is its small municipal beach, retained from that 1931 arrangement.  (Of course, this should not be confused with the Boynton Beach post office designation, which encompasses a far wider area extending deeper “out west” into unincorporated Palm Beach County, some parts of which still get their water and sewage service from the City of Boynton Beach and is more populous than that city.)

I don’t know what caused Boynton to have debt problems 81 years ago, but it would appear that letting its prime asset, its oceanfront area, go its own way and become a separate town (now Ocean Ridge) resolved those problems.  This left what is now the City of Boynton Beach without an oceanfront, an asset which neighboring Delray Beach and Boca Raton both possess and have successfully developed and expanded upon. (Along the way, the oceanfront areas of Manalapan and Briny Breezes also managed to separate from what we now know as Boynton Beach, completing the disappearance of its beaches, except for the municipal beach.)
Jack Lippman



Sid's Corner


“Would someone please kill me?” begged the shriveled, old man wrapped in the sheets in the bed.

“You know that we can’t do that, Arnold,” answered his wife, Helen, softly. “It’s against the law.”

“Law, shmaw,” snorted Arnold. “I’m in agony. I’m terminal. You know it. I know it. So what’s the sense of prolonging my discomfort? The morphine is becoming less and less effective, and the pain is excruciating. Keeping me alive is not in my best interests. Let me talk to Dr. Kay. He’ll do it. I know he will. The oncologist is too afraid of a malpractice suit to do it.”

“What will I do?” asked the tall, dark, lean figure who had suddenly appeared in the doorway. “What is it that I would do for you, Arnold, my old friend? I’ve kept you alive all these years as your cardiologist, and I was devastated when this cancer invaded your body. And now it is winning the long, drawn-out battle.”

“That’s my point, doc. It’s been a long, on-again, off-again siege. I’ve been successful overall, but we all know that this is the end of the road. It’s in my bones, my back, my groin, and it’s won. So let’s finish me off on my terms, not its. Will you complete your years of compassionate treatment of me with the ultimate gesture of helping me across life’s final threshold in dignity?”

Dr.Kay gazed sadly at his long-term patient who had morphed into a dear friend as well. Arnold’s full head of silver-gray hair had been plucked out like chicken feathers by the chemotherapy to leave only a few tufts scattered randomly across his bald scalp. Ghost-white shadings painted over flesh that hung in wrinkled folds over his shrunken frame now replaced Arnold’s once robust coloring and smooth skin. Throughout his ordeal Arnold had maintained a positive attitude laced with a tolerant embrace of his illness. Everyone had marveled at his forbearance – even in these later stages in which the cancer’s tentacles had almost doubled him over into the letter ‘c’, requiring him to use a walker to get around. And now he was beyond even that luxury and could only lay in bed, fed by tubes, and toileted by a catheter and diapers because he no longer had enough strength to position himself atop a bedpan.

“Helen,” Dr. Kay whispered to the tall, white-haired, elegant woman standing next to him at the end of the bed, “what do you want? Do you agree with Arnold? You’ve been his stalwart companion and nurse throughout his illnesses. These last few years have been especially hard for you and have devastated your own health. What do you wish for Arnold?”

With tears rolling down her cheeks Helen quietly, but firmly answered, “I want what he wants. While he was able to cope and function with some dignity, and the pain was drugged down to bearable levels, I knew—we all knew –that this day would arrive. This is torture. It’s inhumane. We wouldn’t allow an animal to suffer through this. It’s time to help him slip through the final doorway, Dr. Kay.”

Dr. Kay nodded solemnly, reached for the control valve on the morphine drip, and gently whispered to Arnold, “I’m increasing the drip, my dear friend, to ease your pain. Sleep tight.”

A few moments later Arnold crossed over in dignity. 

Sid Bolotin - Vintage 2003


Nationhood Prerequisites Draws a Comment

A reader of this blog pointed out one country, in their opinion, which while failing to meet all three “prerequisites of nationhood” about which I wrote in the last posting, manages to exist.   That country, he contends, is the United States of America which (1) does not have a homogenous population, (2) lacks natural boundaries to the north and to the south and finally, (3) has an economy which he feels is on the way to economic ruin.

I don't feel that this disproves my "theory" since the United States’ lack of homogeneity doesn’t matter historically.  We have always been a nation of immigrants and succeeding waves of newcomers have consistently been able to blend into our culture, and that will continue to happen.  True, there have been bumps in the road such as mid-nineteenth century employment want ads which included the words “Irish need not apply,” but even that kind of bigotry eventually disappears in our society.  

As for our wide open northern and southern boundaries, the similarity of our culture with that of Canada precludes any danger from that direction.  To the south, however, the Rio Grande is an inadequate barrier to potential dangers from an unstable Mexico.  That border  requires extensive policing and we should recognize that this will probably be a permanent challenge over the next century.  Of course, the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans are wonderful natural boundaries to the east and west, so in the final analysis, our borders provide adequate protection.

As for a successful economy, while it is clear that our economy is not flourishing the way it once did, it certainly remains one of the strongest in the world.  Once the problem of the nation debt is properly addressed, and it will be, and the United States adjusts to the fact that labor-intensive jobs will have to be replaced with brain-intensive jobs, and that tax-based steps to increase consumption will be necessary, we will be just fine. The reader, of course, disagrees.

What happens to nations which “fail” because they truly lack the prerequisites of nationhood?  They might be conquered by aggressive neighbors.  More likely, their independence will remain as a fa├žade while they actually become dependent on stronger nations into whose sphere of influence they fall.  Such “stronger” nations might include China, Germany, Russia, India, South Africa, Brazil and the United States.



From the 1945 Esquire Calendar, here's a Vargas girl wishing you all a  Happy New Year!



Most readers of this blog are alerted by Email every time a new posting appears.  If you wish to be added to that Email list, just let me know by contacting me at Riart1@aol.com.  

Also, be aware that www.Jackspotpourri.com is now available on your mobile devices in a modified, easy-to-read, format.

Jack Lippman

                                                    * * *   * * *   * * *

To view older postings on this blog, just click on the appropriate date in the “Blog Archive” off to the right, or scroll down until you see the “Older Postings” notation at the very bottom of this posting.  The “Search” box can also be used to find older postings.

To send this posting to a friend, or enemy for that matter, whom you think might be interested in it, just click on the envelope with the arrow on the "Comments" line directly below.  


Sunday, December 23, 2012


The Prerequisites of Nationhood

There are 192 member nations in the United Nations.  Wow!  That’s a lot of countries.  How many of them actually warrant being independent nations?  With that in mind, I conclude that there are certain “prerequisites of nationhood” which a population and area should possess in order to succeed as a nation.  Generally, these break down into three categories.  To continue to exist, a nation should score positively in each of these areas. But even If they are weak in one of them, they still may be able to function successfully if they manifest really significant strength in the other two categories.

The first prerequisite for nationhood is homogeneity of a country’s population, enabling those who live there to be identified as citizens of that nation.  Ideally, everyone should speak the same language.  If there are different languages spoken, citizens should be familiar with those languages which are not their own. In addition, a common religion and a common racial make-up are desirable. 

If there is true tolerance of those of different religions or races, and this is part of the country’s psychology, this deficiency may not be that important. Certainly, though, different groups should not be at each other’s throats because of their beliefs, skin color or language.

The second prerequisite for nationhood is the existence of realistic natural boundaries separating the country from its neighbors.  An island nation would be a good example of this.  High mountains, such as the Alps, Andes or Himalayas also provide good borders, as do deserts, jungles and other broad uninhabited areas, so long as someone doesn’t show up there to draw “a line in the sand” and change things.  Rivers and lakes are not good boundaries because they can be easily crossed.  Oceans, like high mountain ranges, are better.

Mountains Can Make Good Borders

Finally, and probably the most important prerequisite, is the ability to be economically successful.  This may be based on natural resources, such as petroleum or raw minerals, as well as wealth resulting from manufacturing, research, financial or commercial enterprises.

Middle East Oil and Belgian Diamond Cutter

Consequences of Failure

Failing to have a homogenous population can result in the danger of internal conflict.  Iraq, India prior to the breaking away of Pakistan, the former Yugoslavia and some of the African nations illustrate this.  

  Why Yugoslavia Failed

Failing to have natural boundaries can result in susceptibility to invasion.  Poland illustrates this.  North and South Korea are other examples.  

German Troops Crossing Border into Poland in 1939

Failing to have a viable economy can result in poverty and financial distress.  The best example of this would be Haiti.  Economies can change, however, as illustrated by Turkey which at the time of the Ottoman Empire was known as the “Sick Man of Europe.”

Chronic Poverty in Haiti

It should be noted that lack of both realistic boundaries and homogenous populations have been the reason why in the Middle East, historically, there have been empires, including the Ottomans, the Persians, the Islamic Caliphate and of course, the British Colonial empire.  Independent nations were unable to survive on their own because of the almost insurmountable task of dealing with failure to meet two of the three prerequisites of nationhood.  Today, economic viability alone, based on petroleum deposits, just isn’t enough to guarantee a nation’s permanence.
How many of the 192 United Nations members actually possess enough of these prerequisites of nationhood to survive as independent entities into the future?   I wonder.  Only time will tell.

Jack Lippman

                                               Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Santa’s Belt
Our Annual Holiday Story, Reprinted for Your Enjoyment

Jack Lippman

It was that time of the year when things were getting hectic at the North Pole.  Santa and the elves had been working overtime to make certain that everything would be ready to go on Christmas Eve.  After all, children of all ages throughout the world were waiting for Santa to bring them the gifts which they had been wishing for, gifts to make their dreams come true.

“Rufus,” Santa called out.  “Are all of the presents ready to load into my bag?  Have our helpers down on Earth, the toy manufacturers, gotten their toys and games ready for the kids?  And how about the parents?  You know, they all have to do their part too!  Hey, we only have a few days left!”

“Don’t worry, Mr. Claus,” Rufus replied.  “There won’t be any foul-ups this year.  The toys are all ready to go!”

“And is my sleigh ready?  Are the reindeer in good shape?”

“Don’t worry, Santa,” Rufus reassuringly replied.  “The sleigh has been repainted, the runners greased and the harnesses repaired.  And the reindeer are just fine.  Comet and Cupid are over their colds and the others have even gotten used to Rudolf, who wasn’t even in that poem about us.  Even Donder and Blitzen have calmed down.  Santa, you must stop worrying.  Everything is going to be fine!”

It had been three years since Rufus had been promoted to the position of Chief Elf in Santa’s workshop.  Of course, he had been helping out there for many years but only recently had Santa learned of Rufus’ prior experience working closely with Merlin the Magician centuries ago.  Some of Rufus’ innovations, obviously learned from that apprenticeship with the ancient wizard, had greatly increased the efficiency of Santa’s operation.  For example, it was Rufus who had developed the mathematical formulas which, when put into practice, enabled Santa to defy mere physical laws and be in many different of places at the same time.  Rufus had solved the problem of running out of toys with a procedure which in effect, cloned one toy from another, so Santa’s bag was never empty. And of course, he used a lot of old Merlin’s techniques to ease Santa’s trip up and down chimneys throughout the world, without his red outfit ever getting dirty.  Finally, it was Rufus who convinced Santa to include intangible things such as peace, love, brotherhood and wellbeing among the gifts he left on Earth for those who deserved them.

It was just a few nights before Christmas when Rufus encountered Santa in a state of real panic.

“Santa, what’s the matter?  Why are you holding your waist like that?”

“Can’t you see, you darn fool!  I’m holding my pants up!  If I let go, they’ll fall down.  It happened this morning.  My suspenders snapped and I don’t have a belt big enough to fit around me to hold my pants up.  Rufus, they keep falling down and if we can’t fix them, how can I go out on Christmas Eve?  Rufus, do something to help me!  You must!”

“Now, Mr. Claus” the elf answered, holding back a snicker.  “I can see how this happened.  Come to think of it, I should have seen it coming and done something about it.  I’ve watched the way you’ve been eating all of that delicious food Mrs. Claus prepares for you.  Pies and cakes, chickens and steaks, soups and puddings, pizzas and knishes, pasta and dumplings and on and on.  I’ve seen you put away enough for an army at one sitting and top it off with a banana split and a chocolate bar.   What did you expect?”

“Stop your preaching, Rufus!  What would your Merlin do?  Come on.  Think of something so that I don’t disappoint all the children who’ll be waiting for me on Christmas Eve!  I can’t go out there with my pants falling down!”

“Santa, I don’t think suspenders will do the job for you any more because of the pear shape you’ve developed!  We must to get you a belt big enough to hold up your pants!”

                                                             Santa's Waistline Before Weight Gain

“What do you think I’ve been doing all day?  I’ve been looking for one and there just aren’t any made that big.”

Rufus thought for a minute and stroked his chin.  He then turned his eyes upward and look toward the stars, fixing them on the constellation Orion the Hunter.  In an instant, using a mystic incantation remembered from his days with Merlin, he turned himself into a thunderbolt and flew up into the heavens directly at the strip of stars which formed Orion’s belt.  Grasping as many as he could, Rufus flew back to Earth and fashioned a belt from them for Santa.  The old man, finding for the first time since his suspenders had snapped that he was able to keep his pants up, was ecstatic. 

A few nights later, Santa was able to travel his appointed rounds delivering gifts to children of all ages throughout the world.  As he headed back toward the North Pole, he smiled up at the constellation Orion the Hunter, whose belt, as you can see on any clear evening when you look up in the sky, consists of only three stars, which was all that Rufus left up there. 
  Orion the Hunter
Circling the Earth, Santa made a promise to go on a diet.  He had learned his lesson.  Soon, recognizing the welcoming lights of the workshop far below, the reindeer guided the sleigh into a slow descent and the jovial old man once more waved his hand to the world calling out, “Happy Holidays to all, and to all a good night, especially to you, Rufus!”


Most readers of this blog are alerted by Email every time a new posting appears.  If you wish to be added to that Email list, just let me know by contacting me at Riart1@aol.com.  

Also, be aware that www.Jackspotpourri.com is now available on your mobile devices in a modified, easy-to-read, format.
Jack Lippman
                                                    * * *   * * *   * * *
To view older postings on this blog, just click on the appropriate date in the “Blog Archive” off to the right, or scroll down until you see the “Older Postings” notation at the very bottom of this posting.  The “Search” box can also be used to find older postings.
To send this posting to a friend, or enemy for that matter, whom you think might be interested in it, just click on the envelope with the arrow on the "Comments" line directly below.