Monday, August 25, 2014

REMARKABLE WILMA RUDOLPH - A TRIBUTE

Wilma Rudolph
I always think of running champion Wilma Rudolph (June 23, 1940-November 12, 1994) as the most graceful sprint runner of all time.  Once she hit her stride, she would seem to just glide and not the short choppy steps of most sprinters (see picture below: Madison Square Garden).

She was the first American woman to get three gold medals in one Olympics - the Rome Olympics of 1960.  She was an unlikely running champion to say the least.  She was born prematurely at 4-1/2 lbs and had to survive two bouts of polio and Scarlett fever by the time she was 12.*  She also won a bronze star running in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics at the age of 16.  You wonder how her deformed leg ever got straightened out (see picture).  she was the fastest women sprinter of her day and won all sorts of medals at various track meets.  She set an Olympic record in the 100 m dash
Wilma Rudolph during a 50 m dash at Madison
Square Garden in 1961
at the Rome Olympics only to be called wind enhanced and discredited, but later she set another world record in the 200 m dash that was confirmed.  And this was after she had a child in 1958.  She retired from track at the age of 22 after giving birth to three more children.  Her early death was due to a brain tumor and throat cancer.
Wilma Rudolph wins the 100 m dash in the
Rome Olympics, 1960

She was named the top athlete for the 20th century by Sports Illustrated in the year 2000.  She even had a high school in  --- GERMANY --- named for her (Wilma Rudolph Oberschule).  For other honors see the reference.

* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilma_Rudolph

Thursday, August 21, 2014

TWENTY YEARS OLDER (Poem)

She gave a tap on my shoulder,
And we are now twenty years older.

But then we danced and danced all over the floor.
When the music stopped, we begged for more.

We had talked and danced and had such a ball
That I told her I would like to give her a call.

She said that if I wanted, her name’s in the book.
All I had to do was give it a look.

This I did and much to my surprise
She said she couldn’t meet me, I should realize

That her mother was visiting, and she couldn’t go
Out with me which left me so low.

But in the end we did get together
And lived ever after like birds of a feather.

                                               1986

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

RECALL ELECTIONS PROPER FOR ELECTED OFFICIALS

Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg is an elected two-term official who also oversees the Texas public integrity unit.  She was convicted of a DWI charge and was quite belligerent.  She served a 45 day jail term.  Gov. Rick Perry ordered her to resign, and, when she wouldn't, the Governor vetoed $7.5 of funding for the state's public integrity unit.  While it looks bad to close the state's public integrity unit, I presume that governors can veto a bill for any reason they want to.  So I suspect the the charge of abuse of power will be overturned.

I don't like the courts getting more and more involved in our politics.  It seems to me though that the proper action for Perry against an elected official would be to promote a recall election.  If the voters of county feel that a DWI warrants a recall of one of their elected officials, then she would be out.  Or they could have waited for the next election and vote her out.  Actually, Lehmberg has said she would not run for a third term.

If voters don't like Perry's veto, they too could pursue a recall election.  In view of Perry's popularity in Texas, I presume he would prevail in a recall election, but that is beside the point.  I believe recall elections are the way to go with elected officials, not the courts.  The alternative is to wait for the next election and vote the bum out.

A famous recall election of a governor was that of "Gray" Davis in California who was elected to a second tern, only to be recalled less than a year later.  An unsuccessful recall was Wisconsin governor Scott Walker.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

MILITARIZATION OF POLICE FORCES

HOLY COW! Did you see that?  All those police in military looking uniforms with full gear to boot and an ARMORED vehicle in Ferguson, MO.  Where did these guys come from?  There numbers seemed to rival the number of demonstrators.  What ever happened to the men in blue?  How big a suburb is Ferguson anyway - a million residents?  Answer: 21,203.  Oh, these weren't Ferguson police, they were police from St. Louis County that has does have a population of a million.

And about that armored car, did you know that it is easy for a police department to get an armored vehicle (even one with tracks instead of wheels) from the Federal government for FREE by filling out a one-page form?*  (Someone has pointed out you have to fill out a four page form for a college loan.)  This is courtesy of winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  You see they have all this excess equipment from Iraq and Afghanistan wars.  What better than to militarize the police forces.  See the following:

"One of the ways police departments have armed themselves in recent years is through the Defense Department's excess property program, known as the 1033 Program. It "permits the Secretary of Defense to transfer, without charge, excess U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) personal property (supplies and equipment) to state and local law enforcement agencies (LEAs)," according to the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center. 
The 1033 program has transferred more than $4.3 billion in equipment since its inception in 1997. In 2013 alone it gave nearly half a billion dollars worth of military equipment to local law enforcement agencies, according to the program's website "

* http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/08/14/want-an-armored-personnel-carrier-for-your-police-force-just-fill-out-this-one-page-form/?wpisrc=nl-wnkpm&wpmm=1
** http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/08/14/the-pentagon-gave-nearly-half-a-billion-dollars-of-military-gear-to-local-law-enforcement-last-year/?wpisrc=nl-wnkpm&wpmm=1

Thursday, August 14, 2014

LOTS OF NEW JOBS BUT AT LOWER PAY

Post #456600 on Macro Economic Trends and Risks Board of Motley Fool (August 14, 2014)

It is announced that the number of new jobs in June was the highest since 2001.* Good news, why are people so depressed about the economy?

New jobs pay 23% less than the jobs lost in the Great Recession may be a reason?**

Meanwhile, the number of jobless claims is decreasing.***

I think that a big thing may be that working people feel insecure and that is going to be hard to remedy quickly.

* http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/08/12/usa-economy-employment-idUSL2N0QI0W220140812?wpisrc=nl-wonkbk&wpmm=1
** http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-income-inequality-20140812-story.html
*** http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-jobless-claims-20140807-story.html

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

THE TEA CUP SEISMOGRAPH (Biographical)

I've written about my first trip to Japan before in 1965 (You Are So Lucky).*  Near the end of that 10 week stay, a Japanese scientific colleague, Dr. Hajimi Kurasawa, and I were in the city of Shimabara in the southern island of Kyushu to sample the active volcano Aso.  While there, we visited the White Castle of Shimabrra restored in 1964.**  This area was a hot bed of Christianity in the 17 century.  The Shogan decided he didn't like this "foreign" religion in his domain so he went after the Christians and they holed up in the White Castle.  The Shogan couldn't take the castle in a five month siege so he bought the cooperation of
White Castle of Shimabara
the Dutch fleet nearby, and they shelled the castle, breaking the resistance.  Then the Shogan put a cross in the ground and had the captives stomp on it.  If they refused, off with their heads.  If they stomped on it, he felt they weren't good enough Christians to worry about so he let them go.  You could buy souvenirs of the "cross on the ground" in the trinket store.

We moved on to Kumabara and stayed in a Japanese inn in the huge caldera of Aso Volcano, which contains the active volcano Naka-Dake where we were to collect samples.  In the morning, there was an earthquake.  If the epicenter of an earthquake is off to the side , the surface movement is back and forth such as we experienced in Tokyo.  If you are over the epicenter, however, the movement is up and down.  Our earthquake at Aso was up and down!  I sat there Japanese style and watched the window and wondered when it was going to pop out.  I also worried a bit that we were on the second floor and what if it collapsed?  It was that severe.

(picture courtesy of National Geographic)
It seemed, of course, that the shaking went on forever, however, it must have been much less  than a minute.  Well, when the shaking stopped I looked at my Japanese colleague and his Yukata (sleeping robe) was wet in an embarrassing place.  Tea had spilled out of his cup, wetting the groin area.  So I laughed and said that you
were scared, eh, pointing at his crotch?  Then he laughed and pointed at mine and said that he guessed I was scared too.  Sure enough, the crotch area of my Yukata was wetted also.  I said that we could make a tea cup seismograph rating the strength of an earthquake by how much tea was spilled from a tea cup.  Actually, the Chinese had invented a directional seismograph about 132 AD *** though ours would measure magnitude as well.

Incidentally, Kumamoto has its own castle, the Black Castle of Kumamoto.****  Though it is a fine castle, it does not have a history like the White Castle of Shimabara.
Black Castle of Kumamoto


* http://stopcontinentaldrift.blogspot.com/2009/11/you-are-so-lucky.html
** http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shimabara_Castle
*** http://www.historyforkids.org/learn/china/science/seismograph.htm
**** http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kumamoto_Castle

Sunday, August 10, 2014

IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN

There are those who feel that if we had left a residual force in Iraq that the Iraqi army and the Iraqi politics would have been much better.  Well, I am far from convinced even disregarding the fact that Milaki wanted us to leave.  After we beat Al Qaeda, and the Taliban, in Afghanistan we did leave a residual force that varied between 10,000 and 20,000 troops, and the Taliban came back stronger than ever, although Al Qaeda remained subdued in Afghanistan but grew elsewhere.  I suspect that President Obama is closer to the truth in saying that if we had left 20,000 troops there, there would just have been that many more Americans at risk.

It was really depressing that, after 8 years of training, that the first time the Iraqi army was tested, it just disbanded and turned over all the equipment to ISIS.  A woman reporter who interviewed a number of the troops that took tail said that all the deserters said they woke up in the morning and all the leaders were gone.  They feel that the officers and non-coms were bribed to disappear.  Some speculated that some of the leaders actually were given positions in ISIS.  Somehow this sort of corruption sounds realistic.  I also suspect that with time the Sunnis of Iraq will get tired of the ruthless Islamic religious right and start to rebel against them.

One hopes that the Iraqi army and militias can keep ISIS out of southern Iraq where most of the oil is.

As I have said elsewhere, I think we are trying to push something in Iraq that isn't there short of there being a ruthless dictator.*  Opinion seems to be gravitating towards supporting the Kurds to become independent of Iraq.  I presume this makes Turkey a bit nervous because there is a Kurdish part of Turkey contiguous with the Iraqi Kurds that might like to join them in a Kurdistan.

*http://stopcontinentaldrift.blogspot.com/2014/07/syria-vs-libya.html