Sunday, March 9, 2014

Losing a Toccoan...

William "Wild Bill" Guarnere, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne "Screaming Eagles", 
1923.04.28 - 2014.03.08, image from wildbillguarnere.com

One of the "Band of Brothers" died yesterday at the age of 90.  William "Wild Bill" Guarnere, who was portrayed by Frank John Hughes in the HBO miniseries "Band of Brothers", died of a ruptured aneurysm at Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia.  Guarnere received the Silver Star, Bronze Star with cluster, Purple Heart with two clusters, and the Croix de guerre with palm, among other decorations.

Guarnere was one of the authors of a best-selling memoir about Easy Company, 506th PIR, 101st Airborne: Brothers in Battle, Best of Friends.  Edward J. "Babe" Heffron, Guarnere's co-author, died 96 days ago (on 2 December 2013), also at the age of 90.

The exploits of Easy Company, 506th PIR were popularized by Stephen Ambrose's book Band of Brothers and the HBO miniseries made from it.

If you read, you should read Band of Brothers.  If you don't read, watch the miniseries, then read the book.  If it interests you, read Donald Burgett's Currahee! and its sequels as well.  They are sanitized, as many stories of war are, but they are also powerful.  I prefer Burgett's books to Ambrose, but that may be because I read Currahee! decades before Band of Brothers was written.

I went to Normandy in 2009. I went through my images (how I wish I'd taken the good camera gear!) and found these:

Place Toccoa in Angoville-au-Plain, by Evan Robinson

The 506th PIR first trained at Camp Toccoa in Georgia.  They adopted "Currahee!" a Cherokee word which they believed meant "we stand alone" as their regimental motto.  They did training runs up Currahee Mountain.  When we were visiting Normandy, our guide suddenly turned off the main road and took us to Angoville-au-Plain.

Church at Place Toccoa in Angoville-au-Plain, by Evan Robinson

According to our guide, the church at Place Toccoa in Angoville-au-Plain become a medic post where two American medics from the 501st PIR set up shop.  Robert Wright and Kenneth Moore, both of the 2nd Battalion treated anyone who needed it, so long as they left their weapons outside.  During the night, at least one bomb pierced the roof of the structure and hit the floor, but did not explode.  For reasons unexplained, the church was shut almost immediately after the war and remained so for many years.  It is alleged that the pews still show the bloodstains of the soldiers treated here.  I can vouch only that they have dark stains.

Stained Glass, Church at Place Toccoa in Angoville-au-Plain, by Evan Robinson

Inside the church are several stained glass windows, one of which depicts an American paratrooper.

Stained Glass at Sainte-Mere-Eglise, by Evan Robinson

Stained glass in the church at Sainte-Mere-Eglise, also showing American paratroopers.

Ardean D. Vernatter, Private, 506th PIR, 101st Airborne "Screaming Eagles", Colleville-sur-Mer, by Evan Robinson

Private Ardean Vernatter from the 506th didn't make it past D-Day.

This stone is in the American cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer, overlooking Omaha Beach.  According to our guide, every year about 1,400,000 visitors come to this little piece of America in France.  Eight hundred thousand of those visitors are French, four hundred thousand are American, and many of the remainder are German.  According to the visitors brochure (PDF), the cemetery is 172 acres in size and has 9387 stones (9238 crosses, 149 stars of David), including 41 sets of brothers (I erroneously indicated 33 in my previous post) and 3 Medal of Honor recipients, whose names are lined with gold leaf.  The names of 1557 MIA soldiers are engraved in the Garden of the Missing.

It's worth the trip all by itself, but while you're there, walk down to Omaha Beach, too.

Omaha Beach near low tide, Colleville-sur-Mer, by Evan Robinson

This is the view of the beach out to sea -- roughly what the defenders might have seen at low tide.

Omaha Beach looking inland toward the American Cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer, by Evan Robinson

And this is the view up the hill.

Just stand and listen.  Try to imagine what it must have looked and sounded like as 50000 soldiers with their landing craft, vehicles, rifles, mortars, and explosives lay on this beach under withering fire.  Can you hear the screams?  Can you hear the prayers?  Close your eyes.  Can you see the blood they claim still comes from the rocks?  Can you see and hear the fear, the anger, the pain, the dying? 

Some people think that the raw emotion of awful things can stay in a place.  I think it might be true here.

Godspeed, Wild Bill.  Godspeed.  You deserve Valhalla.
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Saturday, March 8, 2014

Red Hot Chilli Pipers at Admiral Theatre, Bremerton, WA

Red Hot Chilli Pipers, Admiral Theatre, Bremerton, WA, 2014-03-07

What can I say?

It's quite a show.  I was surprised by the audience demographics, which skewed older than I expected, but when you consider that RHCP riffs off classic rock, maybe I was misexpecting.

They're in Federal Way, WA tonight, but I suspect the show is sold out.  I haven't been able to find a list of their tour venues, so check your local listings if you're interested.

Bagrock On!

OK, that's not quite fair.  If I'm going to drop this on you, I should at least provide a reasonable review...

The venue wasn't terribly large, but it was full.  The crowd ranged from kids to (I'd guess) late 60s, skewed older than I expected (as noted above) and required a little encouragement to get rocking at the beginning of the show but were pretty into it by the end.  I'm not even going to try for a setlist, but I'd guess it was about 25% classic rock pieces (which are intermixed with bagpipe pieces in short sets), 25% newer rock ("Clocks" by Coldplay, for example), and about half bagpipe or solo vehicles.  I will call out "Amazing Grace", "Don't Stop Believing", "Smoke on the Water", and "We Will Rock You".

The band has a pleasant and friendly stage presence, with several members taking the mike to work the crowd.  Their guitarist is having too much fun out there -- perhaps the pipers are more limited in their movement repertoire?  Drummers are fantastic, with Stephen Graham the snaresman absolutely amazing.

Good tour swag, although I'd love to get my hands on one of those flaming red sporrans.  And a hint -- you should change the red tassels into chili peppers, maybe taken from a chili ristra string of christmas lights?

If you get a chance, you should check these guys out.  Their music is in the iTunes Music Store, available on Amazon, and videos are on YouTube.  You have no excuse.
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Monday, February 24, 2014

Maria von Trapp dies at 99




Maria von Trapp (portrayed as Louisa in the musical and film) died at the age of 99 at her home in Stowe, VT on Tuesday.  Although she was the last surviving member of the singing Trapps, she is survived by at least one half-sibling (born to the Baron Georg and his wife Maria).
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Now Playing...

 
"Our sails swell full 
As we brave all seas 
On a westward wind 
To live as we please"
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Sunday, February 16, 2014

Ya Think?

Photo "Asinine Package Label" by Evan Robinson, 2014.02.16, Lawton, OK

There better be more than a "trace amount" of peanuts in my raw spanish peanuts.

(cross-posted from my personal blog Mischievous Ramblings II)
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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

More things in Heaven and Earth...

There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, then are dreamt of in your philosophy. -- William Shakespeare, Hamlet

This is one of them:

The Red Hot Chilli Pipers are playing Bremerton, WA, early in March. I must see this for myself.

Cross Posted from Mischievous Ramblings II

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Monday, November 11, 2013

Medal of Honor stamp unveiled today

From the Congressional Medal of Honor Society website:

The Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force which can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States.
The Medal of Honor ("Congressional Medal of Honor" is incorrect usage) has been given 3468 times (according to Wikipedia) or 3463 times (according to the CMOHS).  Nineteen men received two, the most recent of them during The Great War.

Fifty Medals of Honor were given "belatedly".  At least 28 were given based upon past racial or religious discrimination (on the assumption that the higher commendation would have been given originally absent such discrimination).  Twenty of those went to members of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team.

The US Postal Service will issue a WWII Medal of Honor Recipients stamp on 2013.11.11 (Veteran's Day, or Remembrance Day):
USPS recognizes the 464 who were awarded the medal for WWII with a Veterans Day unveiling of new stamps.

He has wrinkles now, and his hair has thinned. But Charles Coolidge clearly remembers the day nearly 70 years ago that he earned a Medal of Honor in France for leading his outnumbered combat group through four days of continuous fighting.

"Just a 20-year-old boy. I live it every day. I can't forget it," the Chattanooga, Tenn., resident, now 92, says of that day in Belmont sur Buttant. "If you were there in combat and they were shooting at you every day, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You'd never be able to forget it."

To make sure the nation doesn't forget his sacrifice either, the U.S. Postal Service is unveiling its newest stamp on Monday, Veterans Day. 

Coolidge's face and those of 11 other WWII Medal of Honor recipients will provide the backdrop for what the Postal Service is calling the most iconic stamp in history: the Medal of Honor stamp.
The stamps will depict the WWII Army and Navy Medals of Honor, but sheets will include images of 12 living (as of 2012) living WWII Medal of Honor recipients.


Take a moment to think about all the heroes.  If you can't think of one in particular, I suggest Rodger W. Young, of Tiffin, OH:


Cross-posted from Mischievous Ramblings II
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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Just Checkin' In...Be Back Here Soon, Folks! And We're Gonna Have Fun...




Life intrudes. You change jobs. You become a grandfather (!). You spend a monstrous chunk of time paying off debts accrued while you were unemployed.

And then?

You come back.

See ya soon, kiddies! :)
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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

"One more thing..."


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Thursday, July 21, 2011

RockStar Parking




Plus the driver strolls out of the car, cool as can be.

Amazing.

You've got to wonder, what was the driver doing to get that kind of takeoff? And then, to stick the landing so perfectly? I mean, even the East German Judge would give that ride a Perfect 10.

I'm not at all certain professional drivers being paid a truck-load of money could recreate that takeoff, flight, flip and oh so perfect landing, AS A STUNT. I'm sure if they tried, it'd be damn near-impossible.

Here's to the RockStar Driver who got it right the first time -- and to the Brew Master who bottled whatever the hell he was drinking. Cheers!

July 31: (Fixed the video)

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

To Be or Not To Be?

When it comes to the debt ceiling and this administration  I feel like we are nationally having a Hamlet moment. There have been bloggers and writers a plenty who have compared the president to the prince of Denmark, but what does that make the rest of us.

To be Or not to be, that is the question... 

Playing Hamlet- President Obama

Hamlet - The Prince of Denmark, the title character, and the protagonist. About thirty years old at the start of the play, Hamlet is the son of Queen Gertrude and the late King Hamlet, and the nephew of the present king, Claudius. Hamlet is melancholy, bitter, and cynical, full of hatred for his uncle’s scheming and disgust for his mother’s sexuality. A reflective and thoughtful young man who has studied at the University of Wittenberg, Hamlet is often indecisive and hesitant, but at other times prone to rash and impulsive acts. 

The president knows who the bad guys are, He knows what the right thing to do is, He know the risks we are facing and yet he is pacing the battlements wondering what to do.

 Claudius is of course the whole crazy tea-party GOP fiasco with their sexual appetites, bizarre realities and ridiculous legislation.

Claudius - The King of Denmark, Hamlet’s uncle, and the play’s antagonist. The villain of the play, Claudius is a calculating, ambitious politician, driven by his sexual appetites and his lust for power, but he occasionally shows signs of guilt and human feeling—his love for Gertrude, for instance, seems sincere. 

To press my metaphor further, we have the Bluedogs and the Gang of 6 like some kind of Polonius character spouting ridiculous advice and cliche like they are the wise elder statesmen rather than the bluedog corporatist hacks we know them to be.

Polonius - The Lord Chamberlain of Claudius’s court, a pompous, conniving old man. 

And the left, well, we collectively are Ophelia. 
We can't understand why the guy we loved is talking about cutting Social Security and why he is both nice and nasty to us without reason or warning. We are likely to throw ourselves in the river and just give up...

Ophelia - Polonius’s daughter, a beautiful young woman with whom Hamlet has been in love.  Even in her lapse into madness and death, she remains maidenly, singing songs about flowers and finally drowning in the river amid the flower garlands she had gathered. 

To make matters worse, our Hamlet instead of relying on his various Horatio(s), seems to send his closest advisors and supporters packing (like Elizabeth Warren, Van Jones and the like) so he is going it alone against a sea of  adversity.

Horatio - Hamlet’s close friend, who studied with the prince at the university in Wittenberg. Horatio is loyal and helpful to Hamlet throughout the play. After Hamlet’s death, Horatio remains alive to tell Hamlet’s story. 

The American people are Gertrude, they love Hamlet and what he wants to do for them, but they have become shallow and unable to face the truth of the direction that Claudius is taking the whole damn country.
 They are guilty by default as they are distracted by cable news and spout nonsense fed to them by claudius and the gang of 6. They should throw the bum out of their bed and seek their former high ideals and dreams of a more just nation.

Gertrude - The Queen of Denmark, Hamlet’s mother, recently married to Claudius. Gertrude loves Hamlet deeply, but she is a shallow, weak woman who seeks affection and status more urgently than moral rectitude or truth.   

There isn't really a good character metaphor for the Mainstream Media. Maybe they are a part of the Polonius crowd or Rosencrantz and Guildenstern? not sure on that one, but they certainly aren't a friend to our Hamlet. And they have no desire to make a change as they are enjoying the shallow depraved show being enacted between Claudius and Gertrude.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern - Two slightly bumbling courtiers, former friends of Hamlet from Wittenberg, who are summoned by Claudius and Gertrude to discover the cause of Hamlet’s strange behavior. 

Sadly we know how this turns out. Lots of dead folks. Including our Hero. and All of us... I don't see things turning around any time soon.

This masterpiece theater moment brought to you by the Great American Tragedy and sponsors like BP, WALL STREET, EXON and by a generous grant from The Military Industrial Complex.

notes on Hamlet characters clipped from SparkNotes. 
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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Testing

Seattle Panorama 20110716 by Evan Robinson

I've updated my camera gear for the first time in years (my previous camera is a Canon Digital Rebel aka Canon 300D which I purchased in 2003 IIRC). So I've been out playing with the new equipment (which there will probably be more than one post about). The above is an example. The original is 9583 x 2358, made from 18 images, is 6.6MB as a JPG (pretty small!), and nearly 60MB as a TIF. Pretty much everything on it, from camera settings to Hugin settings to Aperture settings, was default.

(cross-posted from my personal blog Mischievous Ramblings II)
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Monday, July 11, 2011

Who Are We?

I am so disheartened and confused. For decades the GOP has wanted to get rid of some of bedrock most helpful and successful programs, headstart, Medicare, Medicade, Social Security. For Decades the democrats have stood up for these programs and the at risk people that they support. Until now.

One of the ways we beat GW was because of his ridiculous attempts to "privatize" and therefore Bankrupt Social Security.

And now, here we are- with a man we worked hard to elect, voluntarily offering up cuts to this program that helps our seniors quite literally survive in dignity in their final years. Who are we? Where do we go from here?

When the teabaggers took over their party I thought that we might be in a position to see a third party break off on the right... now I wonder if there is any place in the Democratic party for people that support the platform?

Democrats believe that a dignified retirement is central to the American Dream, and its foundation is built on two long-standing institutions charged with realizing that dream: Medicare and Social Security. These two institutions represent an unbreakable commitment to American workers, and for decades Democrats have fought to defend them.
In 1935, Democrats and President Franklin Roosevelt created Social Security. In 1965, Democrats and President Lyndon Johnson created Medicare. Ever since, Democrats have continually fought to defend these cornerstones of the American Dream in the face of attempts to dismantle or undermine both.

Where are the democrats that wrote that sentiment, where are the people who will fight for us in DC?
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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Oh Hai! GNB Mobile is Here

Mobile Devices. photo Newfangled Web Developers July 2009
From The Future of the Web, Part 2, by Christopher Butler


Download Your Red-Hot GNB Mobile Here!


Bookmark GNB Mobil on your phone, your tablet, Kindle, Nook, iPad, car nav (is it legal to screen watch/type & drive where you are?), and bookmark GNB Mobile on every mobile device you have.

Mobile rocks!

Thank you Google Blogger for this sweet mobile template.

Enjoy, y'all. Let us know if you like, k? Kthxbye.
(Yes. You can has Mobile. Also Cheezburger.)

Like LOLCats? Tuesdays, Maggie posts a "Best Of" @ Meta Watershed
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Monday, July 4, 2011

What does that even mean?

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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Is there a Will?

1945, one month after V-J Day, the Oil Workers’ Union called a national strike 
I often wonder where the backbones of the Progressive movement and the Democratic Party have gone? We are the children of Kent State, of the War protests, of the civil rights movement and yet we seem unable to rise when the stakes get higher and higher. FDL had a book salon with Joe Burns, Author of Reviving the Strike.
In Reviving the Strike, union negotiator Joe Burns draws on labor economics, history, and current analysis to show how only a campaign of civil disobedience can overcome an illegitimate system of labor control that has been specifically constructed over the past thirty years to reign in the power of the American worker. The book challenges prevailing views within the labor movement that say that tactics such as organizing workers or amending labor law can resolve the crisis of the American worker. Instead, Reviving the Strike offers a fundamentally different solution to the current labor crisis, showing how collective bargaining backed by a strike capable of inflicting economic harm upon an employer is the only way for workers to break free of the repressive system that has been inflicted upon them for the past three decades.
It is time to stop waiting for sanity to prevail. Time to stop letting the corporate agenda dictate our lives and our fortunes. Time to stop waiting for things to get better.

I don't advocate violence but I do advocate rising up and refusing to be a part of the systems that are destroying america. The clock is definitely ticking.
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Saturday, June 11, 2011

OSU Rolling preparing an O-HI-O "welcome" for the Speaker of the House

Speaker of the House John Boehner is speaking at OSU Graduation. Students are working hard to make sure he feels very welcome.

See more images here. 

and plans for the protest at ProgressOhio 

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I Honestly Don't Get It...

Sex scandals are ridiculous and distracting and I don't really care what consenting adults do. Seriously. Mostly it is just a device used by the media to keep you watching and keep their ad revenue stream flowing.

What I really wonder is why  while people like Vitter and Sanford, and Craig, etc etc etc. cling to office, Dems are all Off-With-Their-Heads about  people like Weiner. 

If it effects your job like say- when you disappear from office for 5 days and no one knows where you are (SANFORD) then you should go. If it hurts Kids or Women- (FOLEY) Then you should go. If you campaign on the sanctity of marriage, or an anti gay agenda and your sex scandal shows you to be an outrageous hypocrite (Craig) then you need to go!

If you DO get "caught" You shouldn't lie about it. But even that is not a deal breaker for me since most people lie when faced with the kind of media feeding frenzy that people face in this situations

But if you are not one of the above abusers and hypocrites
then

 I DON'T CARE. I never did. Sex is not the most important thing that we need to be worrying about when it comes to governance. not even close.

It is long past time that the American public care less about this kind of crap and high time that we focus on the real ills of social injustice, the killing of the planet, war, hunger, violence, racism. Don't those problems seem more important? Even typing them makes me feel like Weiner's tweet is a ridiculous distraction. The minority leader and other Dems should get back to work and leave Mr. Weiner's um... business to the pathetic focus of the GOP and the freakshow media.

Get to work and you get to keep your jobs, focus on this kind of thing and you are just like them except weaker.

Also to regular folks. If we stop buying maybe they will stop selling... 
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Thursday, June 9, 2011

My Thoughts on Weiner-gate

actually... I have none.

Except that we should all remember that what we do and say and send on the internet is there for the world to see. Even if you try to hide it.

Therefore I recommend SHAME INSURANCE

Have  fun out there, but be smart and careful too. AND best bet is to keep your "Weiner" to yourself.
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Saturday, June 4, 2011

How Quickly They Forget

Editorial Cartoon by David Stoll / The Lumberjack
The US and most world media outlets are nothing but fadists, the equvilent of midlife crisis skirt chasers. Guess what? I am sure there are still larger areas of New Orleans that have not been repaired and thousands who have not been able to return to their homes. I know that Haiti today is not much better than it was just after the earthquake. There is still little stability in Iraq and...

The radiation in the No. 1 Reactor buliding At the Fukushima Power plant is the highest it has ever been. 

Yes, that's right, worse now than it was when Anderson Cooper was running around screaming The Sky is Falling. Worse than when Diane Sawyer cried over the devistation, worse than when the lot of them were camped out 150 miles away in Tokyo discussing events like they were standing in the middle of the worst hit towns.

They are fickle, the viewers are fickle, the News is not the NEWS anymore, it is just "for entertainment" shock and awe. The sooner everyone accepts that and moves on the better. The News is gone. We are left with THE MEDIA. And they are not just a part of the problem, they are a CAUSE of the problem. They make it all worse and they do it on purpose. Tomorrow's news story is simply whatever they think will capture and keep people's attention.
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Monday, May 30, 2011

Tech Talk- Smart-tablet-phone connected thingies!

More changes more quickly every day. This morning Mashable posted about the new Asus PadFone  
 
(ok what is with the names- can't anyone pay someone to think of better names for these things??? PadFone? really?

I have been wondering what would be next, this is a pretty nice addition to the field. I like the idea of a tablet and phone that are easy to coordinate and sync, easy to work with depending on what you need. Now of course it depends on the how it works, what's the os like how is the speed and functionality. But I am slowly using my PC less and less and my ipad and iphone more and more. I don't think we are quite at the Post PC mark but we are getting there. 

I still need the robustness of a laptop or desktop for work. I am thinking about a Mac Air now that at friend can get me a family and friends discount. But more and more I agree that the future is not in the regular config of laptops and desk tops. We are fast moving to real portability of everyday computing power.

Be interesting to see what Apple does next if the android OS supports more and more connected phones and tablets. One-upsmanship and all that. In the meantime I am leaning toward the PC as ART at home. 

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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Governement Rethinking Radiation Levels after Parents Protest

I am glad to see that the Japanese gov. has changed their minds about the insane idea to raise radiation safety levels for kids.

Parent anger plays role in Japan's reversal of raised radiation limits at school

from an outraged parent involved in a hearing on the matter

In the playground, in the sandbox, children put dirt into their mouths! They breathe in the dust! You should do the same! Lick the dirt!" she shouted to applause. "You wouldn't do this to your own kids!
It was incredibly crazy that the government raised the level by 20X in the first place. Glad to see they were bullied into changing their stance. I wonder if our government would be any better. I somehow doubt it.

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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Japan Nuke Update- Increased Radiation in the Seabed off the Coast of Japan

NHK is reporting high readings off the coast of Japan in many areas near to the tsunami effected region north of Tokyo

Professor Takashi Ishimaru of the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology says plankton most probably absorbed the radioactive substances carried by the current near the sea surface, and then sank to the seabed
This is something for everyone to monitor closely. Long term effects of ocean contamination are going to be felt around the world I believe.
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I Was Wrong

In the early days of the crisis(es) in Japan I was pretty calm and tried to keep panic in myself and others to a minimum. I still believe that was the right course. Living in a city of 29 million people means that one of the biggest potential threats is always panic. When 29 million people panic and try to do anything entire systems fail and people get hurt. I stayed calm, and I did my best to keep those around me calm too.

But

There were things I was wrong about. I believed that TEPCO (Tokyo Electric and Power Co.) was releasing information in a timely fashion. I believed them when they said that the reactors had not yet melted down, and I believed that they were doing all they could for the people who lived around the Fukushima Nuclear Plant. I poo-poohed those that said otherwise. I was wrong.

In the last two weeks more and more distressing information has come out of the investigations into the accident and more and more troubling decsions are being made by the Japanese government.

This story in particular is tragic, frustrating and scary.
Angry Parents in Japan Confront Government Over Radiation Levels

The main thrust of the story and of the parents concern is this...

At issue are updated government guidelines that allow schoolchildren to be exposed to radiation doses that are more than 20 times the previously permissible levels. That dose is equal to the international standard for adult nuclear power plant workers.
I am not an expert at any of this and really even the scientists and nuclear engineers don't have many answers but it cannot be good to expose young kids to these kinds of levels and it is criminally negligent to say it is OK to do so.

My Friends at Safecast.org are focused on getting readings at schools for just this reason. Parents have a right to as much information as possible to make the best decisions they can for their families.

I should know better after being politically active during the Bush regime, but I did trust that in a crisis of this kind, TEPCO or at least the Japanese gov. were being honest. They were not and are not now. And from now on...Distrust, Verify and THEN trust.
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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

There is More to College than Career and More to Life than Money

photo from Bloomberg
It was with interest I read the economist update on the somewhat controversial Theil Foundation program that is awarding 20+ Under 20 applicants for a grants of 100,000 dollars to start a business rather than go to or finish college. While there are famous examples of drop out successes, like Bill Gates, and while what Mr Thiel says about the fact that they can always go back to school may be technically true- my gut instinct is to think this is not a good idea.

Thiel is a classic libertarian, so it is not surprising to me that his view is all business, private markets, and money success. But I think about what else you gain in college- access to new ideas, more exposure to people not like yourself, the chance to explore what you really enjoy and find a path that suits you. Most people claim to have changed a lot throughout their 20's - it is when you really solidify your own outlook on the world. And I can't help but think these "100,000 dollar drop outs" are missing more than just an education (also important by the way) by diving full into the high stress roller coaster ride of entrepreneurship.

As for going back to school if your Theil grant doesn't result in Gates-like success... adult ed is a wonderful thing, and grad school is too- but it is never the same as approaching the discussions, exploration and growth of college life in the company of your peers. Folks of a similar age, experiencing the same parts of life and the same developmental cycle as yourself. Plus as less than 50% of start ups survive- those grant winners may be paying more than the price of 2 years of their lives if things don't pan out.

Mr Thiel admits to thinking that ..."higher-education system tempts many people who would be better off going straight into business and creating significant wealth." and that says a lot to me. Do we need more of a push to strive for significant wealth in america? What about public service? What about personal growth, deeper thinking, enjoying family and friends. A higher standard of living can be measured in many ways, not just by tallying up your bank account totals at the end of each quarter.

I also note that of his first 24 grants, only 2 went to women. Really? There are only 2 women out there smart enough for Thiel's cash? hmmm. But as with most classic libertarians his view is quite male-centered. This during a time when huge numbers of women are starting and leading their own companies.

The stories of the grant winners are quite interesting and for many this may be an ideal path.  But I think the philosophy behind it may be inherently flawed. For those passionate enough- like Gates- the path of going straight to your own company is not dependent on instant cash from VC's and Big cash grants. In fact, finding the money to make your dream and path a reality is a big part of the learning curve needed for long term business success. The Theil plan is at best a cushy short cut in what should be a life-lesson tough path.

In the movie The Social Network, a few things were clear, facebook founder Mark Z. is brilliant, and had a good idea. What is also clear is that he lacked emotional and social maturity that would have saved him from some huge law suits and generally being viewed (by the globe now) as a jerk. Would college have taught him more about social interaction? perhaps, perhaps not. But dropping out and rushing out to Silicon valley certainly didn't seem to impart that lesson.
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