Archive for December, 2015

Tis the season to be doing other things

The Christmas holidays are upon us and rather than throw something together, I am going to provide us all with a week to run the errands, wrap the packages and enjoy the season.

Happy holidays!

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Pearl Harbor Day, 2015

It was so long ago for me that the afternoon concert was interrupted by a serious voice announcing that the Japanese had just bombed Pearl Harbor. Thus began the world war in which 291,557 thousand young Americans were killed and 670,846 were wounded. A paper on this December 7 has an article and picture that shows the battleship Oklahoma being floated after taking nine torpedoes and capsizing carrying several hundred young men to their deaths. The bones of 388 sailors were recovered and most remain unidentified.

Today, with two huge oceans on either coast, we are unreachable by anyone who isn’t allied with us. The big foreign policy argument in our political life is whether or not to send troops to Syria. A recent survey shows that young people from approximately 18 to 32 (these may not be the exact numbers) are in favor of doing so. However, a majority of the males do not want to go themselves. For someone who has lived through our almost constant participation in war since 1940 and watched the memorials go up, this attitude of “let’s go, but not with me” is stupid.

Right now, the most observable problems are in the middle east. This area was controlled by the Turks for centuries. This control involved a common religion for the leadership and much of the population. However, there were large pockets of non Muslim Turks who were dealt with by being largely left alone as long as they were stable and paid their taxes. Following World War I, Europeans tried to replace the Turks and were somewhat successful. However, since Saddam Hussein, that tentative arrangement has come unstuck, Syria has a full scale civil war engaged in by countries and people outside of Syria.

Pearl Harbor was a military strike by one nation against another. Once begun, both sides knew what they were doing and we won. What’s going on in the Middle East is confused by centuries of pushing and shoving. Sending troops into this mess is not going to unite Americans toward a readily visible clear cut victory.

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Always Something You Don’t Know

The Saturday Wall Street Journal often has someone choose five books on a particular topic and provide a synopsis for each. This past weekend the theme was World War II. Since I lived through this conflict being, just too young to serve, I have always had an interest in other people’s experience. I made a note of three of these books (having already read two), I went to the Arlington Public Library to see what I could find. The first one was Crossing the Line: A Bluejacket’s Odyssey In WW II by Alvin Kernan. Since it was about my service, I decided to try it first.

That proved to be difficult. I had to connect to it through eBooks on EbscoHost. Despite a sinking feeling, I plowed on dredging up Ebscohost by first registering at the library with their variety of numbers and then learning how to manipulate Ebscohost. That was not too difficult, except that every time I stopped reading and closed the iPad, I had to reregister when I came back. There were other problems, such as figuring out how to move the text, but I managed that and finished a story well worth my reading.

What I have been thinking about since then is the number of electronic devices and programs I have gone through since I used the first portable computer available to GW’s department of education. It came in two suitcase size cases that I could lug to the beach with me on spring holiday and receive and read student papers. I don’t remember how I communicated with the students, but I know I felt I was riding the crest of the wave. Unfortunately, for the department’s budget (and mine), there were other waves, each with an entirely different operating system. I am now left with discs from these systems that I cannot access.

After fumbling through EbscoHost I have been wondering how long it will be before it too is superseded and Crossing the Line will be inaccessible by the program in which it is written.