History Echoes: Forget Halloween Monsters, This Year’s Big Fear Is Something That’s Able to Lurk Inside Us

This article 1st appeared in The Prices Do DC

2014 will certainly be viewed as one of the most frightening Halloween seasons ever. But it is not ghastly ghosts, goblins, ghouls, and gremlins that are causing outbreaks of crazed, panic fears. Instead, it is something much more real and, in reality, potentially much more deadly.

In many parts of America, the Season of the Witch has been transformed into the Scary Season of Ebola.

Those fears do not surprise former Under Secretary of Science and Technology for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Tara O’Toole. “Epidemics always engender visceral fear,” O’Toole says. “This is something that can come into your home and everybody is vulnerable to it. Face it, it’s pretty freaky bleeding from your eyes.”

But while O’Toole understands that fear can drive a lot of the reaction to an epidemic like Ebola, a calm, reasoned, scientifically- and medically-sound approach is what America now needs.

Dr. O’Toole was one member of a group of distinguished medical and security experts which discussed the current Ebola crisis this week at the Heritage Foundation.

The panel agreed that while the outbreaks in Africa are disconcerting, America will be able to handle problems that arise in this country.

“The rest of the medical system learned a lot from Texas (where the only victim of the disease to die in America was treated),” O’Toole said. “We were probably making a lot of mistakes in infectious diseases all along, but if you make a mistake with Ebola (care) you’re going to get in big trouble. We ought to able to protect our health care workers.”

For its own safety, American must help the stricken nations combat Ebola on the African continent, the panel concurred. “If we do not contain this in Africa, it will become a part of life and you will wonder every time you get a fever,” O’Toole said.

But while she is optimistic about the end of this current crisis, she said the United States must do more to protect itself and others from other future outbreaks of deadly, infectious diseases.

“Our national defense is going to depend on biology is a big way,” the doctor maintained. “We’re going to have a lot more epidemics.”

O’Toole said current world conditions make such events inevitable. For example, 70 million people are being added to the world’s population every year, many of them living in mega cities where crowded conditions make it ideal for diseases to rapidly spread. Then there is the ease of modern travel. Unlike days gone by, people can now fly around the world in 24 hours.

“We are going to be more vulnerable to epidemics and we must get better at managing them,” she said.

O’Toole said that while early action is crucial to halting epidemics, that is difficult to do, especially in remote areas of the world. “”It’s very hard to see the beginning. It’s not lights and sirens; it’s not like these things explode,” she said. “By the time you begin treatment, they are already bigger than you would like to see,” she said.

Like the others on the panel, O’Toole believes that a vaccine for Ebola should have been ready by the time of this current outbreak since there were promising results as much as 14 years ago. But she understands the reality of why such a vaccine isn’t ready yet.

“We fund heavily when the problem occurs and then the money goes away,” she said.

Money also plays a huge role in the fact that an Ebola vaccine hasn’t been released by private pharmaceutical companies. “We’re not talking about pills you take every day for the rest of your life. This is something you might take for 2 weeks and it’s over. You just don’t make much money out of it,” she noted.

And even though she agreed with the panel consensus that such options as travel bans and unwarranted quarantining would’t work (and could actually worsen treatment conditions), she understands why such options are attractive to many people and some politicians.

“We’re always looking for someone to blame,” she said. “People want to know who they can lock up to make themselves safe.”

Extra! Extra! Read All About It

There’s More to the Story

  • America’s Ebola epidemic currently consists of 1 person with Ebola. (from Think Progress)
  • 4 totally Ebola-free things Americans are terrified will give them Ebola. (from Think Progress)
  • Why outbreaks breed hysteria. (from The Atlantic)

Projects for 2020

Speaking (Now Online)

From my book — Come Together: How the Baby Boomers, the Beatles, and a Youth Counterculture Combined to Create the Music of the Woodstock Generation

  • Whole Lot of Shakin’ Goin’ On: The Early Years of Rock (5 talks)
  • The Magical History Tour: The Beatles Arrive, Thrive, and Change the World (3 Talks)
  • On the Road from Rock & Roll to Classic Rock: A 6-Year Musical Trip from Liverpool to Woodstock – 1964 to 1969 (6 talks)

Rock’s Roll in American Society and Culture

  1. One Toke Over the Line: Smoking Banana Peels, Purple Haze, Rock Music, and the Birth of the Drug Culture 
  2. Takin’ Care of Business:  10 Lessons Every Commercial Enterprise Can Learn from the Grateful Dead and Their Tie-Dyed, Noodle Dancing Hippie Tribe of Deadheads
  3. What a Drag It Is Getting Old: What the Rolling Stones Can Teach All of Us About Longevity and Aging

Rock & Roll Talk Show (eventually subscription)

  • Talking About the Music of Our Generation – Toby Beau with host Dave Price

Tour Guiding (Now Trivia Online)

Rock & Roll

  • You Say You Want a Revolution – The Music, Lyrics, Life, and Times of the Beatles
  • It’s Only Rock and Roll – The Music, Lyrics, Life, and Times of the Rolling Stones

Talking About My Generation Trivia

  • Back in the Day Baby Boomer Trivia (50s/60s/70s)
  • Making Sense of the ‘60s
  • Searching the ‘70s
  • Eyes on the 80s

Writing (Composing, Creating, Coordinating, Curating)


  • Written and Released – Come Together: How the Baby Boomers, the Beatles, and a Youth Counterculture Combined to Create the Music of the Woodstock Generation
  • Researching Now – What’s That Sound: How the Music at Woodstock Showcased the Emerging Categories of Classic Rock

Political Project 

Local Community News Project

Talking ‘Bout My Generation Interactive Talks

Talks Taken from my book Come Together: How the Baby Boomers, the Beatles, and a Youth Counterculture Combined to Create the Music of the Woodstock Generation

Ready Now 

Series 1.  Whole Lot of Shakin’ Goin’ On: The Early Years of Rock and Roll 

  1. 12 Changes in America That Paved the Way for the Rock & Roll Explosion of the 1950s
  2. 7 Musical Styles That Were Merged and Mixed to Create a New Type of Music Called Rock & Roll
  3. What Was the 1st Rock & Roll Record? 
  4. 6 Early Rocker & Rollers Who Greatly Influenced the Beatles
  5. The JFK Years and Some New Frontiers for Rock & Roll (1960-1963)

Series 2. The Magical Musical History Tour: The Beatles Arrive, Thrive, and Reshape Our World

  • 10 Ways the Beatles Changed Music
  • 20 Reasons Why the Beatles Should Be Considered the Greatest Rock Band Ever
  • How the Music and Lifestyle of the Beatles Continue to Impact Society and Culture Today

Series 3: From Rock & Roll to Rock – A 6-Year Musical Road Trip from Liverpool to Woodstock

  • 1964 – The Beatles and the Music of the British Invasion
  • 1965 – The Beatles and Bob Dylan Give Rock Lyrics Deeper, More Mature Meanings and Themes
  • 1966 – Garage Rock Rules, but LPs like Revolver and Blonde on Blonde Begin Making Albums More Important Than Hit Singles
  • 1967 – Sgt. Pepper’s, Jimi Hendrix, and a Summer of Love Give Birth to Psychedelic Rock 
  1. 1968 – It’s Revolution for Street Fighting Men Born to Wild: Songs for Troubled Times 
  2. 1969 – From Atlantic City Pop to Woodstock to Toronto Rock and Roll to Altamont, It’s the Year of the Big Rock Festivals

Ready for December

Rock’s Roll in American Society and Culture

  1. One Toke Over the Line: Smoking Banana Peels, Purple Haze, Rock Music, and the Birth of the Drug Culture 
  2. Takin’ Care of Business:  10 Lessons Every Commercial Enterprise Can Learn from the Grateful Dead and Their Tie-Dyed, Noodle Dancing Hippie Tribe of Deadheads
  3. What a Drag It Is Getting Old: What the Rolling Stones Can Teach All of Us About Longevity and Aging

Ready for January 2021

The Keys to Classic Rock 

Presentation 1: Pounding Those 88s 

  • From Fats, Little Richard, and Jerry Lee to John, Paul, and the Beatles 
  • The Piano-Playing Singer/Songwriters of the 70s to Today 

Presentation 2: Making It Organ-ized

  • The Voice of the Vox; the Fame of the Farfisa
  • Root Down: The Jazzy Gospel Jam Sounds of the Hammond B-3

Presentation3: Getting Synthesized 

  • Mellotrons, Moogs, Modern Synths, and More

Ready February 2021

The Beatles and the Big Story

  • Feb. 11, 1964: The Beatles Stage a Second British Invasion of Washington, DC 
  • Imagine There’s No Heaven: Time Magazine Asks Is God Dead? and John Lennon Says (Or Does He?) That the Beatles Are More Popular Than Jesus
  • I Read the News Today, Oh, Boy: Paul Is Dead
  • Helter Skelter: The Strange Story of Charles Manson, His Murderous Family, and the Beatles
  • They Want to Crucify Me: John Lennon vs. J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI, and the United States of America

Ready for March 2021 

Listen to the Music: The Sound Waves of Rock & Roll 

Presentation 1: The 1950s/ Early 60s

  • 45 Singles, Car Cruising, DJs, Record Hops and After-School Hangouts – 1952 to 1959
  • Top 40 Hits, Portable Record Players, and Rock & Roll TV and Films – 1960 to 1963

Presentation 2: The Later 60s/ Early 70s

  • The Ed Sullivan Show, Shindig, Hullabaloo, and 8-Track Tapes – 1964 to 1966
  • The Rise of Albums and Underground FM Radio – 1967 to 1974

Presentation 3: The Later 70s/ 80s

  • Cassettes, the Walkman, and Personal Playlists – 1975 to 1980
  • I Want My MTV and my CDs – 1981 to 1989

Ready 2021 for April 2021

Keep Watching the Skies: How the Fears of the 1950s Were Reflected in Popular Culture and Still Continue to Haunt Us Today 

Presentation 1: The Demons Within

  • Wayward, Wild Teenagers and Juvenile Delinquency
  • Communism and the Red Menace 
  • Mad Scientists and Science Gone Awry

Presentation 2: The Devils Without

  • Atomic Armageddon
  • Terrifying Creatures and Mutant Monsters
  • UFOs, Flying Saucers, and Malevolent Aliens from Outer Space

Ready for May 2021

The Devil and the Divine in Classic Rock

Presentation 1: Runnin’ With the Devil

  • I Am the God of Hell Fire and I Bring You ……. Prog Rock: The Crazy World of Arthur Brown
  • Satan Laughing Spreads His Wings: Black Sabbath and the Birth of Heavy Metal
  • Welcome to My Nightmare: Alice Cooper Creates Shock Rock

Presentation 2: The “Holy” Spirit of Classic Rock 

  • Mother Mary Comes to Me: The Beatles and the Bible
  • You Gotta’ Serve Somebody: Bob Dylan and the Bible
  • It’s Hard to Be a Saint in the City: Bruce Springsteen and the Bible

US Constitution: A Hinge of Human History

Constitutional scholar Akhil Reed Amar

Most every American is aware of the significance of the date July 4th, 1776. But Yale professor and noted Constitutional scholar Akhil Reed Amar believes that the date Sept. 17th is even more important.

“You’ve all heard a lot about July 4th, but not enough, it seems to me, about Sept. 17th,” Amar says.

And why is that date so vital? On that day in 1787, our American Constitution came into being.

This week, Amar delivered a standing-room only lecture at the Library of Congress entitled Magna Carta and the American Constitution, one day before the capital’s annual celebration of Constitution Day.

The professor did briefly address the Magna Carta, but the bulk of his remarks centered on the Constitution, which he called “the hinge of human history.”

“At the time of the Constitution there was very little democracy around the planet. There was us, and the British, and the Swiss. Basically, people were groaning in chains. Thugs were in control of the planet. Today, 1/2 of the planet by land is democratic. The world we live in is a world made by America,” Amar said.

He even joked that our time designations B.C. and A.D. refer to that fact. “Before the Constitution and After the Document,” he said, eliciting much laughter from the crowd.

He said people today don’t comprehend how revolutionary the document was. “The very familiarity has blunted their (the creators and signers) audacity,” Amar said.

Amar said the most amazing fact of the Constitution is that it was put to a vote of the people. “The Declaration of Independence is pretty impressive, but it wasn’t put to a vote. In 1776, it was a case of either you are with us or against us. If you weren’t for independence, you either had to leave or shut up,” he explained.

But that wasn’t the case with the Constitution. The vote was preceded by vigorous, vocal debate. “You could say whatever you wanted – like ‘Ben Franklin is a senile old coot’ – and no one could shut you down. Free speech is baked right into our Constitutional Cake,” Amar noted.

But the Constitution is not only a text, it is an ongoing act as well, Amar maintained. “It is a deed. It is a doing,” he said.

“The Constitution is crowd-sourced. It is Wikipedia. Who gave us our Bill of Rights – opponents to the Constitution. For certain things, many heads are better than one,” the professor added.

But despite the brilliance of the document at that time, there was a major flaw. “There was a serpent in the garden and that serpent was slavery,” Amar said.

He noted that the controversial Electoral College – which still exists – was an outgrowth of slavery and the 3/5ths clause, which meant that although slaves could not vote, they could count as 3/5ths of a person when determining the number of representatives a state could have in Congress. Without that compromise, the North would have politically dominated the South.

“Our Constitution was conceived in liberty, but conciliatory to slavery,” Amar said. “It created a system that rewarded slavery and slavery corrupts. It’s a cancer that grows and grows. The system (of united government) fails because of slavery.”

But after the divisive, bloody Civil War, the Constitution was reborn with former male slaves now having the right to vote. “It was a new birth of freedom,” Amar said.”But we were not done in 1867. What about women? Well that came with the 19th Amendment.”

“We are the product today of many generations of Constitutional improvements,” Amar said. “The process is still ongoing. We can ask – what should our Constitution look like 40-score years from now?”

A 2012 Trip to Cuba

With the coronavirus pandemic bringing vacation world travel to a virtual halt, the only way currently for most Americans to visit foreign lands is to watch travel destination videos, surf the internet, or derive vicarious pleasure from the travel writings of others. Here is a list of blog entries I composed when my wife and I traveled to Cuba in 2012.

I hope you enjoy these stories and photos and we’re looking to going back to Cuba someday to see more of the country.

Here is a collage of some of the photos of Cuba I took and you will see if your read my posts on our 10-day Cuban trip.

To Follow Our Cuban Trip in Chronological Order