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What is it about nice people that attract total idiots?Nice people are martyrs. Idiots are evangelists.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Martin's First Law

Just a couple a lines about stuff heard on the way home...

ITEM: Liz Brown's Mayoral campaign. Not real sure how I feel about her, but I do know the first thing that needs to be answered before we put her in charge of our fair city. Answer this question: How many dishonest, ne'er-do-well siblings do YOU have that we'll have to find business opportunities for on the public dime like hizzoner's family?

Second question needing answered: Have you settled on one consulting firm to work for after your political career, or will you be shopping the out-of-town market at $100 grand an application like hizzoner?

Third question: Does "open and transparent" mean to you the same as it means to us, or do you go by hizzoner's definition ("open and transparent" adj. I'm always right, no need for a fair and honest discussion)?

ITEM: Now I don't watch Mad Men, I have no idea what it is about. Therefore, I am a completely neutral (if not apathetic) observer in this apparent hullaballoo over whether AMC will keep the show on the air. And what I know about it is that the news guy said that the battle between the show and the network is over "greater product placement, more commercials, and two minutes less show". That pretty well translates to, "let's milk the cash cow" in my book. In order to do this, though, they're going to skip this year's season but gave the OK to start working on the 2012 season. So, let's see: in order to make more money off the show, let's skip one year altogether (which makes us $0), and when the ratings threaten to go down in 2012 because everyone found better things to do, let's bring them back by spending every dime we WOULD HAVE made overhyping the show so fans will remember and come back. Brilliant plan, eh? Brilliant enough to create a rule so profound we'll call it Martin's First Law:

"Screwing yourself is not very smart."

In all honesty, I really didn't think that we would get to a point of such stupidsaturation that a rule like this would be necessary. But we have, and thank God I was there to pass this vital wisdom down to the clueless masses. I know I broke MFL at least twice today, beginning with leaving my lunch at home. If only I'd come up with this this morning prior to 5 am...

ITEM: Oh, and THAT'S the other thing. The overnight babe on Oldies was running down the details of their latest "Let's Pimp For Windows, Doors, and More" contest, and in true textspeak fashion said the event would begin "at 7 p." Not PM, like intelligent people who still remember how to actually have conversations say, just "p". Now I'm not Edwin Newman, and I enjoy the occasional Norm Crosby take on this wonderful language of ours. But is it REALLY that difficult to say "m" after you "p"? I mean, if this kinda thing doesn't stop soon, my next post might look like...

I: Sbtgo,aIhhdy, sittg. Syal!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Dear Rep. Moses



Sunday, March 27, 2011

Rikuzen Takata update #5

Another article from Mark MacKinnon from the Globe and Mail.

Aftermath: The destruction and despair of a Japanese fishing town



From Saturday's Globe and Mail

Published Friday, Mar. 25, 2011 6:52PM EDT

Last updated Saturday, Mar. 26, 2011 8:41AM EDT

This seaside fishing town, with its obliterated core and houses and boats carried kilometres inland, has become synonymous in Japan with the destruction wrought by the massive earthquake and tsunami that struck just over two weeks ago. But the truth is that Rikuzen-Takata was starting to disappear long before the angry waves of March 11.

The tsunami, which flattened perhaps 80 per cent of the city centre and left more than 10 per cent of the population dead or missing, may only have sped up the inevitable in a town that has been shrinking for decades as the young move away in search of education and employment unavailable in this isolated place. Left behind was a community dominated by retirees who confess they may have neither the ability nor the desire to start over again.

“After the tsunami, I’m very worried about the future of Rikuzen-Takata. Everybody says we have to rebuild the town and rebuild the country, but is it actually possible? How long will it take?” asked Haruko Hatakeyama, an 82-year-old retiree who since March 11 has been sleeping on a thin tatami mattress laid on the floor of the gymnasium in the town’s middle school. She shares the sparse and chilly accommodations with 1,200 other survivors. The challenges Rikuzen-Takata faces are an amplification of those facing the country as a whole. Japan’s population, like the town’s, is old and getting older.

The national and local leadership is in question, and there’s the daunting question of whether the most indebted country in the world can afford to simultaneously rebuild its tsunami-shattered northeast coast while dealing with the ongoing crisis at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. The Japanese government intends to at least make an effort. The first 36 prefabricated homes set up in the tsunami-battered northeast have been deployed in Rikuzen-Takata, and on Saturday a draw will be held to decide who among the wider region’s 430,000 suddenly homeless survivors will be the first to have four walls of their own again.

Life is improving for those who survived nature’s onslaught. Most now have three meals a day, heat and electricity, even if there’s no running water yet. There’s a small library of donated books and board games near the entrance to the Rikuzen-Takata middle school gymnasium, and earlier this week residents were taken by the busload to portable baths so they could get clean for the first time since the disaster. But as soldiers continue to pull bodies from the remnants of the town – adding to a nationwide toll that stood Friday at 10,000 dead and 17,400 missing, a number that will continue to rise – the scale of the task ahead remains enormous.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan has tried to rally the nation by recalling the spirit of 1945, when the country set out to transform itself from the ruins of the Second World War into a global economic power. “We are going to create Japan once again from scratch,” he vowed in televised remarks. But those who remember the postwar era say the comparisons between then and now are unrealistic. “Back in 1945, there were lots of young people around and the economy in Rikuzen-Takata was okay,” said Ms. Hatakeyama, who was 16 and launching her career as a school teacher when the war ended. Like many of the Japanese who helped power the country through its 20th-century rebuild, she can contribute little this time around, and will instead be a drain on the country’s resources, one more elderly person who needs a place to sleep and perhaps someone to take care of them in the turmoil.

Japan experienced a baby boom after the war, and by 1950 more than 35 per cent of the country was under the age of 15, and just 5 per cent was 65 or older. Today the picture is almost completely reversed, with 23 per cent of Japanese in the oldest age bracket compared with 14 per cent under 15, making it the oldest society on the planet. Until two weeks ago, much of Japan was just looking for an affordable way to retire in comfort.

The demographics are even more badly tilted against places like Rikuzen-Takata, where more than a third of the predisaster population was older than 65. Even before the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster, the fishing towns of Japan’s northeast coast were struggling to retain young people, who often went away after high school to universities, colleges and jobs in Tokyo and elsewhere. After their hometowns were flattened, it will be harder than ever to convince them that there’s a reason to remain...

...The reconstruction will inevitably provide an injection of cash and jobs into Japan’s long-stagnant economy, which has seen sluggish growth in its gross domestic product over the past two decades and last year lost its prized status as No. 2 in the world to neighbouring China. But any stimulus gained from the rebuild is likely to be tempered, at least in part, by the anticipated blow to Japanese exports. Signature Japanese corporations such as Honda, Toyota, Sony and Nikon have been forced to shut damaged factories and reduce production amid rolling power outages. And with radiation already detected in the milk and spinach and a dozen other vegetables produced in Fukushima prefecture, and the government warning that babies should not drink the tap water in Tokyo, who is going to buy Japanese food exports any time soon?

Another unanswered question is who will pay for the reconstruction, a task the country’s government has estimated will cost more than $300-billion? Japan already has the world’s highest debt-to-GDP ratio, at 225 per cent (compared with 144 per cent in Greece, another chronically overdrawn state)...

...While postwar Japan was guided by Douglas MacArthur, the U.S. general who effectively had unchallenged powers as the head of the occupying army, with Emperor Hirohito retained to lend stability to the process, no one is sure that Mr. Kan – the country’s fifth prime minister in five years – will still be in office at the end of the year. Mr. Kan has tried to reach out to his political opponents, who were just two weeks ago calling for him to resign over a funding scandal, to join him in a crisis coalition government. So far they’ve refused, signalling that politics as usual may resume very soon in a country that desperately needs stability at the top.

From the first hours after the tsunami the survivors in Rikuzen-Takata have said they want to stay and rebuild. But the scale of the destruction means it’s unlikely the town will ever completely recover. Norihiko Sugawara is one of those who left Rikuzen-Takata, moving at the age of 23 to the regional capital of Morioka to take a job in the civil service. On Thursday, he was back in the town digging at the muddy rubble of his childhood home with a white metal shovel. Mr. Sugawara said he hasn’t seen or heard from his septuagenarian parents since March 11. He knows they are likely gone, but had come back improbably hoping to find a CD of classical music that his father loved. Standing amid the ruins of the place he grew up, watching his seven-year-old son shiver as a hard rain turned to snow, Mr. Sugawara was more practical than nostalgic. “People say they want to come back and rebuild here, but I don’t know. I can’t see our family ever coming back here.”

Sometimes it seems to me that the media is all about setting things back to the way they were before. This was Never, ever possible. We keep wanting to compare this to Katrina, where a city has to rebuild its infrastructure. But this is more compareable to if all of Louisiana and Mississippi vanished off the map. In 1920, there was a huge Palm Sunday Tornado that raped southeastern Allen county. Many small towns basically vanished from the map. A look at Townley today would never tell you the village that was there prior to 1920. Nor Boston Corners. You can have a reason to live in a place, but not a reason to rebuild if there's nothing there.

Tohoku prefecture will likely be depopulated for a long, long time. How long will the remnants of a hundred little Rikuzens survive when all that's left is a seaside old-folks home? No industry, no jobs. How long will supermarkets or shops stay? How soon will the remainders just say, well, it's easier to just move to Tokyo or Kyodo where at least we can buy things.

Rebuilding some of these places is just nostalgia and no other place to put these people. The population is going to shift; within ten years most of what gets rebuilt may well be abandoned as those who stayed either move out or pass on. The radiation worries will make it worse. In the end, the Japan that rises will be an entirely different dynamic from the one that existed just 2 months ago. It reminds me of the Ancient Minoan culture of the Aegaean Sea. The eruption of Santorini didn't completely destroy it; but it did begin to simply fade away.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Eurohockey update

This week we get our last regular season travelogue, but lose another couple of regular season champs, which means that we'll eventually have at least three new spotlights when all is said and done.

We start in France, where the finals have been set and will start Tuesday. Rouen swept Amiens to take the one spot, but not without a classic game three. 2 goals by Claireau Valentin gave Amiens a 4-0 early in the second period (keep in mind, there had only been 7 total goals the first 2 games). Luke Late's 2 goals lead a 3 goal Rouen comeback in a 3-minute span. Amiens hit soon after for a 5-3 lead, but Late scored his hat trick just 16 seconds later, and teammate Carl Mallette scored twice in rapid succession to make it a 6-5 Rouen lead. Each team would add on yet another goal in the second, and they went to the final stanza 7-6 Rouen. Amiens scored twice in the third, one by Anthony dead with 2 minutes left to retake an 8-7 lead, but Mathieu Brunnelle tied it again with 29 seconds left to force OT. Ilpo Salmivirta scored the winner in a shootout for the regular season champs and they move on 9-8 to face Strasbourg. Strasbourg upset last year's runner-up Angers on a pair of 2-1 OT wins and a 3-1 game 4 victory.

In Italy, Asiago finished off Bolzano with a 6-3 win and went on to face season champ Val Pusteria in the finals. The champs quickly posted 4-1 and 5-3 wins, with the next match probably going on as I type.

In Switzerland, 2nd-place Davos finished a 4 game sweep of Zug in the semis with back to back 6-1 wins. They await the Kloten/SC Bern series, in which the 2 teams have traded home wins and Kloten leads 3 to 2.

In Germany, Grizzly Adams Wolfsburg has a 2-0 lead on Kolner Haie after 4-1 and 5-1 wins. Eisbaren Berlin also is up 2-0 on ERC Ingolstadt; Kreffeld's Penguinnnes and Hanover's Scorpions are a game apiece; and play-in team Adler Mannheim stunned the 2nd-place DEG Metro Stars with a 7-2 win in the opener, but Dusseldorf recovered to even it with a 3-2 game two win.

In Norway, Sparta Sarpsborg took 2-1 and 3-0 wins over Lillehammer this week to win that series 4 to 1; they await the winner of the Stavenger/Lorenskog series, in which Stavenger took 5-2 and 7-0 wins this week to take a 3-2 lead .

In the Elitserien, the semis opened with Farjestad taking 2-1 and 4-2 wins over AIK, and Lulea winning a pair of 4-3 OT games against Skelleftea

In Denmark, SonderjyskE will not win a second straight title, as Frederikshaven took 3-1 and 3-0 games to upend the defending champs 4 to 2. They will face Blue Fox Herning, who beat Rodovre 4-0 to win their series 4 to 1. The finals open April 1st.

In the Czech Rep., Slavia Praha holds a 2 to 1 lead on Ocelari Trinec, while Vitkovice Steel has a 3 to 1 lead on Pardubice Eaton, including 4-0 and 3-0 shutouts at home.

In Slovakia, Kosice is still waiting for the finale of the Poprad/Banska Bystrika series. They are 3 to 3, and the final game 7 is today.

In Austria, KAC Klagenfurt has taken out VSV 4 to 1 after 4-0 and 6-4 wins this week. they await the end of the Red Bull Salsburg and Vienna Caps series, which RBS took a 3-2 lead in after last night's 6-4 win. A nice recovery after losing Wednesday to the Viennese 9-1. They meet again on Sunday.

In Finland, JYP swept their opening series against the Ilves, but everyone else is still 3 to 2: Assat leads after a 2-0 win over the Blues last night; Jokerit over HIFK after a 3-1 win; and Lukko after a 5-0 blanking of KalPa, their third straight win.

The KHL went into the semis after last Sunday's Atlant 3-2 OT win over SKA and Magnitogorsk's 2-0 upset of season champ Avangard Omsk. The semis feature in the west Lokomotiv and Atlant, and the boys from the Moscow suburb of Mystichi have jumped to a 2-0 lead on 6-1 and 3-2 OT wins. In the east, Salavat Yulaev have taken control, topping Metallurg 4-3 and 4-0 so far.

Finally, we have a finish to the UK's EIHL. Shefflield's Steelers (43-11) tip Cardiff's Devils (42-12) and Belfast's defending champ Giants (41-13) to win the league's regular season. The playyoffs started last night, with Sheffield ripping Dundee 6-1 and Nottingham topping Braehead 5-4. the games resume tonight, with those two series as well as Belfast vs Coventry and Cardiff vs Hull.

Shefflield Steelers are the first fully professional hockey team in the UK, founded in 1991. They play in the 8,500 seat Sheffield Arena. A dominant team since their beginning, they have 7 regular season titles and 8 playoff championships.

Sheffield, located in north central England in the Yorkshire area, has a population of over 534,000, the largest city in England that is not an agglomeration with other cities. This is because it is isolated in a natural bowl at the confluence of seven hills and five rivers ( to which one of them, the Sheaf, the city owes its name). An ancient Anglo-Danish site, it got a market in the 1200's and a city charter in 1893. A city of contrasts, it was built on the steel industry and cutlery manufacture. Industrialization lead to dramatic growth, various problems (including a cholera outbreak and a devastating flood when a reservoir wall failed in 1864, killing 270), and a dirty, sooty, houses-on-top-of-each-other condition that led George Orwell in 1937 to call it "the ugliest town in the Old World." However, as the steel industry has faded, the city has revitalized itself. With 11 squ. mi. of woodland, 78 public parks, 10 public gardens, and 52 sq. mi. of national parkland in the city limits, and an estimated 2 MILLION trees, Sheffield is known as the "greenest city in Europe". In fact, it is estimated to be 61% green area. Home to such luminaries as Def Leppard, Sheffield has a "friendship agreement' (sorta a sub-sister city thing) with (big surprise here) Pittsburgh.

That's it for this week. Tune in next week when we might just have our first champions!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Step into my time machine week forty-eight

Before we get going this week, I'm going to pimp my son's new project. Deciding there should be a "Time Machine" type deal for new alternative music, he now does an every Monday column called Now Machine on his blog, Anything . He spotlights a likely bunch of up-and-comings and gives both the top ten this week from and his own picks. If you like your music newer and noisier and enjoy a little misspelling along the way, check him out. I comment each week, giving him a rating on my "modified Dick Clark" scale.

Anyway, it's time to visit with such luminaries as Tom Scott, May Pang, and Fausto Leali (who had Italy's top song of 1967. Why do we care? You'll see.) Let's head out, my friends, to 1976!

We start as usual with our Hot 100 debuts. While there are 12 of those, I find good excuse to mention but three of them. At #80, we bow to the King, who hits with (I'm So) Hurt. This song was first a top ten R&B number for Roy Hamilton, and first hit the top 40 by Tino Yuro in 1961 (#4). In 1967, Fausto Leali had Italy's top song of the year with a version titled "A Chi". The best known version was Juice Newton's #1 country version in 1985. At 75, and notable merely because I have this medley on my Glen Campbell's Greatest Hits tape, is the man himself with the smushing together of Hamilton, Joe Frank, and the REAL Reynolds' Don't Pull Your Love and the Casinos' 1967 hit Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye. And at 72, a song that will really remind you where you were when- John Sebastian's tv theme song Welcome Back. Come on Mister Kaahhh-Terrrr!

The big dropper this week is Love To Love You Baby, falling 29 to #60. The big jumper, after snapping a three-way tie at 15 notches, awaits in the top 40.

We're in the 7s of our look at the #1s of other years this week. 1997, where Cashbox had already assumed room temperature, the Billboard #1 was the grammatically challenged former Puff Daddy with Can't Nobody Hold Me Down. No, I didn't sample it, not likely to. 1987 was another one that reminds me why I abandoned the pop charts, Club Noveau's mauling of the Bill Withers' classic Lean On Me. 1977 this week the top song was Hall And Oates' Rich Girl. In 1967 I was in kindergarten under the watchful eyes of the wonderful Mrs. Leaders and the #1 song was the Beatles' Penny Lane. Unlike the last time we featured a Beatles song in this segment (and half the top 10 were Beatles songs, the only other one on the top 100 at that time was Strawberry fields Forever at 11. In 1957 we have the two-headed hit Young Love. Tab Hunter had the stronger (just slightly) version. It swept the Billboard #1 categories of the day and convinced Warner Brothers, who had Hunter on contract, to form Warner Brothers records. The other version, which I know better, is by the country legend Sonny James, who was at #2 on most of those categories. This was the first of 23 country #1s for James, who also hit with country covers of songs such as Only The Lonely, Running Bear, and It's Just A Matter Of Time.

Coming into the top 40 this week are 5 tunes. Our big jumper comes up 16 to land at #40- Barry Manilow with his 5th top 40, Tryin' To Get The Feeling Again. A 13 notch climb to 39 for Styx, who notch their 2nd top 40 with Loreli. ABBA gets their 3rd top 40 with I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do climbing from 41 to 35. The O'Jays score their 7th top 40, climbing 7 to 34 with Livin' For The Weekend. And finally, the mainly album-blues act the Elvin Bishop Band scores their one and only top 40 when Fooled Around And Fell In Love leaps 14 to #33.

We continue to crawl our way through the gauntlet of one week wonders on our look at the #1 albums of the 70s. We're up to November of 1974, and the first week of that month is ruled by the greatest hits album So Far by Croby, Stills, Nash, And Young (which I not surprisingly had on vinyl). Despite the fact that this lp contained 11 of the 22 songs the quartet had actually ever recorded, a fact that Graham Nash said the group found ridiculous, it surged to the top spot. The 11 included the #22 Suite: Judy Blue Eyes, the #11 Woodstock, the #14 Ohio, the #16 Teach Your Children, and the #30 Our House, as well as Neil Young's Helpless (which I also have on Decade) and Stephen Stills' beautiful Helplessly Hoping.

The week of the 9th's flavor o' the week was Carole King's Wrap Around Joy. Joy featured the #2 Jazzman (lyrics by David Palmer, who was the lead singer for Steely Dan on Dirty Work, and sax by Tom Scott, who also was the blower on Wings' Listen To What The Man Said) and the #9 Nightengale, (also co-written by Palmer, with King's teenage daughters singing backup).

The next week, John Lennon claimed the top spot with Walls And Bridges. Recorded during his Yoko-inspired switch to mistress May Pang, it contained the #1 Whatever Gets You Through The Night (ironically his only #1 solo while still sucking air). This was the famous bet with Elton John song: John sat in on the tune, and told Lennon it would top the charts. Lennon told him if it did, he'd appear live with Sir Elton. As a consequence, Lennon joined him at a live concert for several songs including Elton's soon to be #1 cover of Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds. Also on this lp was #9 Dream, which of course peaked at #9. May was the one doing the whispering in the verses, and the "Ah! Bawokawa Pousse Pousse" line in the chorus was just some nonsense phrase he dreamed up, well, in a dream.

A shout out to 2 almost but not quites this week. Waylon and Willie's Good Hearted Woman, a live version of a #3 1972 country hit. It would peak at 37 this week, while hitting the top over on the country chart. It was the first of 3 times Waylon Jennings would hit the pop top 40, the others being the Dukes Of Hazard Theme and another semi-duet with Willie Nelson, the great Lukenbach, Texas (Back To The Basics Of Love). Our other honoree is David Bowie's Golden Years. Actually reaching #10 on Billboard (who wants $19.95 a month to look up this stuff on THEIR site, cheap bastards), it featured David Sanborn on the sax. It peaks at 12 here on Cashbox, where you don't have to go bankrupt to look at stuff.

Two songs join the top ten two drop out. Falling are former top dog Love Machine (10 to 14) and Love Hurts (9 to 18).

TOP TEN: Coming in at 10, up three, are the Bellamy Brothers (boy, we're country heavy this week!) with Let Your Love Flow. Dropping 4 to #9 is former top dog Eric Carmen with All By Myself. #8, rising 3, is Maxine Nightengale with Right Back To Where We Started From; moving up one to #7 are the Bay City Rollers with Money Honey; and Aerosmith also moves up one with Dream On. Another one notch riser is Rufus featuring Chaka Khan with Sweet Thing, from 6 to 5.

The Four Seasons drop out of the top spot to #4 with December 1963 (Oh What A Night). Johnny Taylor moves a notch up to #3 with Disco Lady; and the Captain and Tenille also rise a notch to #2 with Lonely Night/Angel Face. Annnnnnd this week's number one tune...

Gary Wright's Dream Weaver!!!!

OK kids, that's it for another week! catch you next trip...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Rikuzen Takata update #4

Sometimes, it's not that you died, but HOW you died.

RIKUZEN-TAKATA, Iwate - An administrator at a hospital destroyed by the March 11 tsunami gave his life to protect a precious lifeline--a satellite phone that was doctors' only link to the outside world after the disaster.
Sixty-year-old Shigeru Yokosawa was scheduled to retire at the end of the month, but he died in the tsunami that consumed Takata Hospital in Rikuzen-Takata.
Since that tragic day, the hospital's staff has continued to work in a makeshift clinic, using the satellite phone to communicate with rescuers and aid workers. Land lines and cell phones in the city were out of service after the disaster, making the satellite phone the only way to request medication and call for help with patients needing emergency care.
Just after the main tremor hit, more than 100 people--hospital staff, patients and local residents who had come seeking shelter--were in the four-story concrete building. Minutes later, people started shouting a huge tsunami was approaching.

According to Kaname Tomioka, a 49-year-old hospital administrator, he was on the building's third floor when he looked out the window and saw a tsunami more than 10 meters high coming straight at him. Tomioka ran down to the first floor staff room and saw Yokosawa trying to unhook the satellite phone by the window.
Satellite phones are vitally important during disasters, when land lines are often cut and cell phone towers are down.
Tomioka shouted to Yokosawa, "A tsunami's coming. You have to escape immediately!" But Yokosawa said, "No! We need this no matter what."
Yokosawa got the phone free and handed it to Tomioka, who ran up to the roof. Seconds later, the tsunami struck--engulfing the building up to the fourth floor--and Yokosawa went missing.
Hospital staff could not get the satellite phone to work on March 11, but when they tried again after being rescued from their rooftop refuge by a helicopter on March 13, they were able to make a connection. With the phone, the surviving staff was able to ask other hospitals and suppliers to send medication and other supplies.
On March 15, four days after the quake, the remaining staff set up the makeshift clinic in a community center and went back to work caring for patients. Since its launch, the makeshift clinic has seen more than 150 patients a day.
As of Tuesday, the satellite phone was still the only available tool for obtaining information about patients in shelters who needed emergency care.

On Monday, Yokosawa's wife Sumiko, 60, and his son Junji, 32, found his body in a morgue. On Tuesday, they brought him back home to Shiwacho in the prefecture.
Yokosawa's job as a prefectural government hospital administrator took him to many places throughout his career, sometimes far from his family. Two years ago, he became the hospital's chief administrator.
Yokosawa's coworkers praised him for his gentle ways and the attention he paid to patients.
Sumiko said when she saw her husband's body, she told him in her mind, "Darling, you worked hard," and carefully cleaned some sand from his face. She said she had believed he was alive but had been too busy at the hospital to contact his family.
"I'm proud of all the good my husband did for the people there," she said. "Now that his body is at home, his soul should be at rest."
Someone has taped a piece of paper to the satellite phone that reads: "Yokosawa's phone. Our chief is helping us from heaven."
-The Yomiuri Shimbun/Asia News Network

And sometimes, it's about how you live.

Makeshift housing takes shape in hard-hit town

Yomiuri Shimbun March 21, 2011

The construction of makeshift housing has begun in the city of Rikuzen-Takata, devastated by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. The government and industrial organizations are speeding up efforts to secure enough materials to build temporary housing for people displaced by the disaster. Efforts at supporting and rebuilding the daily lives of quake-affected people are coming into reality, albeit slowly. In Rikuzen-Takata, 10,547 people - nearly half the population - are forced to live at evacuation sites.
In the schoolyard of Rikuzen-Takata No. 1 middle school, now home to 1,250 people -the largest number of evacuees at one place in the city -heavy construction machinery and trucks loaded with construction material arrived one after another over the weekend.
Said Rikuzen-Takata Mayor Futoshi Toba said: "We have to move forward, so it is quite encouraging that the construction work is now starting."
The planned makeshift houses are one-storey buildings that have two rooms plus a dining kitchen, with a total floor space of 30 square metres (322 sq. ft.) each. In this schoolyard, about 200 houses will be built in about three weeks. Elsewhere in the prefecture, about 100 temporary houses will be built on a playground in Kamaishi, with the houses expected to be ready for evacuees to move into late next month.
"I hope we can move into a makeshift house and lead a life with some time to relax as soon as possible," said aid Chiharu Murakami, 36, a mother from Rikuzen-Takata whose house, built just two years ago, was washed away by the tsunami.

Even here, life has a tendancy to heal. And as I speculated at the beginning of this story, the same people who stood up for the beauty of their world time and again are not just walking away.

As a sidelight, I wondered how the people of our sister city of Takaoka came through all this. As it turns out, Takaoka is south of Tokyo on the other side of Honshu, about as safe as you could be on the island. A group of students on tour in England said they felt the quake, but no one was harmed. It also didn't stop a group of students visiting Ft.Wayne last week and hosted by Bishop Luers families.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Chris Martin sells vote to highest bidder

Not really, I just thought it might attract Win Moses and his band of Benedict Arnolds for when I chew them yet another new one later on.

Anyway, Monday I was too sick to want to read or write. Which meant that yesterday I was too busy catching up reading to write. Today I'm going to rant first and read later.

Topic #1: Libya. WTF do we (read: does Obama) think we are doing? I'm as patriotic and hawkish as the next guy (more so, depending), but let's step back and look at this. First, we have a revolt in Libya, fad o' the week in the middle east. We had one in Egypt, where we got along for many years with Sadat and Mubarik until it became PC to bash poor Hasni, evil bastard that he was. Now we'll probably end up with Gamal Abdel Nasser #2, and won't that be fun? Well, there's one in Bahrain (what is that, the 5th fleet's base? Or is it 6th, I'm not sure), but there, mum's the word. Ditto in Yemen, because EVERYbody knows all the rebels there are al-Qaeda. So that brings us to Libya, where we are actively supporting rebels who are in turn being supported by that same al-Qaeda that we don't like in Iraq and Yemen. We're shooting missiles at planes so that Qaddaffyduck can't strafe civilians while he's blowing them to bits. The Arab League wants us to set a no-fly zone, as long as we don't kill any one. France and Obama play hot potato with the leadership of the "UN" mandate. And what exactly are we doing? Are we saving lives? Debatable. Giving aid to a legitimate government, one that will appreciate our help? Not really, and yeah, right. Hillary "mine are bigger than Bill's" Clinton basically said the goal is to get rid of Qaddafyduck.
Okay, now ask this: Why Now? Getting rid of a screwball nobody likes is, as the liberals like to tell us, why we went into Iraq. Just a way to get votes for GW Bush, they said. No exit strategy, they said. But Sadaam Hussein was a murderous nutcase and needed to go, and thus we all got patriotic and GW got his second term, they said.


Well, when al-Qaeda assumes the running of Libya and tells us to go jump, PLEASE remember THAT at the next election.

Topic #2: If Obama wants to blow cruise missiles in an arena that Might get him my vote, how about aiming them at Urbana, Illinois. My opinion on the, democrat walkouts here and in the Cheese state are well documented, I know, and I think actually cost me a follower, a young teacher who might have the mistaken impression I want her to live in poverty. So I'd like to clear up my intent once and for all. I have nothing against teachers or any other union member. I have heard from many well-spoken members of the other side, and I realize not everyone in the debate is a greed-serving scum sucker (read: union Mgmt.) or a blindly following sheeple who is out there howling about losing all collective bargaining rights; which is a bold-faced lie. I thank fellow blogger Roland Hansen and the Beyond the Beltway radio show Sunday night for aiding in my education.
What I AM Against:
1. ALL union mgmt. Their mutually parasitic relationship with the democratic party is destroying any usefulness and/or credibility in either organization.
2.The tactics of bringing in ringers to flood statehouses is IMHO deplorable. I don't need ticks and lice from New York and Pennsylvania (sorry Bob) coming to my state to tell my legislators what they want them to do.
3. Doctors passing out fake excuses to sorry-ass teachers that think pitching one at the capitol is more important than TEACHING THEIR STUDENTS.
4.Legislators (like the one in Wisc.) who think when a union member doesn't want his dues spent on Dem. candidates, the proper response is, "get another job."
5. Union officials (such as the head of the Michigan AFof L) who, when told that the non-union middle class (that the dems and unions are allegedly defending) are tired of paying the price for the unionized middle class' intransigence, feel that the proper response is, "you should unionize your workplace". Not a lie, I heard it myself. The next caller was a union teacher that told him that advice was "a bunch of crap", BTW.
6. But most of all, I do not like legislators that think holding the whole GD state hostage while they prance around and look pretty for their union mgmt. succubi is proper legislative action. Anyone who votes for someone who'd do that might just as well take their state taxes and blow 'em on the lottery, you'll get the return you deserve most likely.

Topic #3: Dumb commercials. In particular, one running on radio where some train company tells us that it can move a ton of freight a mile on a gallon of fuel. Perspective: If that freight car is empty, it weighs @ 30 tons, so that gallon of fuel will take the kick at the goal line and return it just across midfield. Fully loaded, it might weigh 140 tons, which means that gallon just might squeeze out a first down. Best to just fill 'er up, engineer.

Topic #4: Meth. I heard tonight that we are spending some 40% of Indiana's correctional budget on meth-related spending. All to keep a handle on our society's stubborn will to destroy itself. My God, we are crying tears of sympathetic pain over nature destroying Japan, but we sit here in this very state destroying ourselves and we still have people that say, if we'd just legalize it all everything would be OK!?! I hope katie over at Agape doesn't think me hypocritical, but sometimes it gets very hard to ask myself, why do we even care? and answer, because God still cares.

Okay, I feel better, Scrappy's begging me to rough him up, and I still haven't had dinner. Have a good evening, everyone. And Win? I think you left the stove on...

Saturday, March 19, 2011

I got an Award!

One of the rages all over the blogging world is giving and receiving awards. Now, to me an award should fit the recipient, but the rules of blog awards (unless you have an enormous fanbase and time to pick and choose) is to just notify a follower on your blog of the honor; have them due the prestidigitation necessary to put the award on your site; set up a link to the other blogger and thank them; come up with seven facts about yourself; and notify 5 other bloggers that you are passing the award on to them.

I have been so notified by chocolateangel at The Cat and the Coffeecup. And if the timbre of this post is a bit off, I apologize, I do appreciate it. Or actually them, as she had two awards to pass out- I decided I might be more mistaken as Versatile than Stylish. Her site is a neat everyday life kinda place that occasionally features the misadventures of Bazinga the cat, and I enjoy it totally. I have also completed the required digital magic to post my award, which you will now see on the right hand side of the page. This is the second time I've tried this, as I also sport the Simple Dude button. His was complete with an html code that I spent 20 minutes trying to figure out where it needed to go. The award was accomplished, after learning I couldn't do it the other way in a similar twenty minutes, by capturing it as a picture and posting it as such.

As for the seven things, well....

1. I was born Catholic, saved by the grace of Jesus Christ, and firmly convinced that all runs by God's will and sufferance.

2. I am basically a conservative, my take a lot like my hero Richard Nixon, and I feel Ronald Reagan was far and away the best president of the 20th century.

3. I grew up in the tiny village of Besancon, near the slightly more famous village of Zulu, between the at-least-I-can-find-them-on-the-map towns of New Haven and Monroeville, Indiana. This was an area of French immigration, and not surprisingly I have a French grandpa and German Grandma on one side and a German Grandpa and French Grandma on the other.

4. I am horribly shy, so you'd best break the ice.

5. My picture of heaven would be me and all my dogs throughout my life kicking back on the summer grass, watching a baseball game and listening to seventies music.

6.My best pals and confidants are Laurie and Scrappy. Big shock there, eh?

7.I am prouder of my two kids, KC and Shenan, than I can easily express.

That done, I come to the hard part- passing this along.I know some people love these things, some do not want to deal with them, and some can't stand them, and I don't know who is what. Therefore, I will do a semi-copout: Anybody of you wants the award, let me know who you are. Scrappy and I will discuss your qualifications and award as needed.

Okay then , that concludes the awards ceremony. Be sure to give chocolate angel a read and come back here for more adventures in versatility.

Eurohockey update

So now we are down to one league still playing its season, and one more city for our travelogue. Some of these leagues might be into their finals by next week.

One that won't is the Asia League, which officially cancelled their finals because of the earthquake/tsunami. One of the contestants, last year's champs Anyang Halla of Korea, is going to have a split-squad charity game to raise money for Japan relief on Tuesday. It will be a no-cost for admission/donations accepted game. The other, Tohoku's Free Blades, are still awaiting word on several missing relatives of the players.

England's EIHL finishes next Friday, and it's going to be a photo finish. Sheffield (41-11), Cardiff (40-12), and defending playoff champ Belfast (39-13) are within 2 points of each other for the regular season championship. The playoff teams, however, are decided, and the above-mentioned three will be joined by Nottingham, Braehead, last year's regular season champ Coventry, Hull, and Dundee. One team that won't be joining them is Edinburgh, who with China Dragons and the Czech Orange u-20 teams done, assumes the title of worst team still playing. With a record of 6-46 and a 28 game (including one shootout) losing streak, Edinburgh averages losing 7.7 to 2.5 per game. In fact, their last 4 games they lost 7-1 to Braehead (outshot 68-21), 12-2 to Belfast (outshot 67-14 and outscored 7-2 just in the second period), 16-3 to Dundee (gave up 10 goals in the third and outshot 64-22), and an 8-0 loss to Hull (at least they were only outshot 44-23 in that one).

In France, Amiens and Strasbourg finished off quarterfinal victories and advanced to the semis. Amiens drew top-ranked Rouen, who won the first game 3-1. Strasbourg , who lost the first 2 to Gap before sweeping the last 3,got second place Angers and actually topped them 2-1 OT in their opener.

In Italy, Val Pusteria finished off Valpellice 4 games to 0 and is awaiting the Asiago/Bolzano series. Bolzano looked to win that one, up 3 to one before Asiago woke up and took 4-2 and 2-1 wins to knot the series at 3 each. That series' finale is playing as I type.

In Switzerland, the #1 and 2 teams have won the first 2 games of their semis. Kloten has topped defending champ SC Bern 4-1 and 3-2 OT; EV Zug has lost 3-1 and 5-2 to Davos.

In Austria, the semis are ongoing, and both tied at a game apiece. KAC Klagenfurt and VSV Villacher traded 5-2 road wins, and Red Bull Salzburg downed Vienna Capitals 6-2 in Salzburg and lost 6-5 OT in Vienna.

In the Czech Extraliga, Slavia Praha won a pair of OT games to take out the White Tigers of Liberec 4 to 3 and advance to play Ocelari Trinec, who wrapped up a 4 to 2 series win over Litvinov Benzina with a 4-1 win Monday. Vitkovice took 2 tight games from Mountfield to win that series 4 to 2; They draw Pardubice Eaton, who had previously swept Zlin. That match starts today, the other on Monday.

In Slovakia, Kosice blew through Dukla Trencin 9-1, 5-0, 4-3, and 5-1 to sweep into the finals. They'll have a wait, as Poprad and Banska Bystrika just play their third game today. Poprad won a 7-5 home game and lost a 3-1 road game.

In Denmark, SonderjyskE continues to struggle, caught in a 2-2 tie with Frederikshaven. Blue Fox Herning lost their opener in OT to Rodovre, but have since taken 5-1, 4-0, and 1-0 OT games to stand to win into the finals on Tuesday.

In Norway, Both semis between Sarpsborg/Lillehammer and Stavenger/Lorenskog are tied at 1-1.

In Sweden, two series are done- Farjestadt taking out Brynas 4 games to 1, and AIK capping a stunning sweep of season champ HV71 with a 4-1 win. Djurgardins posted back to back to back wins over Lulea to take a 3-2 lead in their series which could finish tomorrow. Skelleftea has likewise gone on a 3 win streak to pull ahead of Linkoping and can finish off tomorrow.

In Finland, The Ilves of Tampere and the Blues of Espoo won their play in rounds and the quarterfinals have started. Season champ JYP Jyvaskyla pounded the Ilves 7-3 in their opener; the Blues edged Assat 4-3; in the battle of Helsinki teams, Jokerit topped HIFK 1-0; and KalPa of Kuopio downed Lukko 3-2.

In the KHL, Lokomotiv steamrollered Dinamo Riga, winning 6-2 Monday to complete a 4 to 1 series win. They await the outcome of Sunday's game 7 between Atlant and SKA. Atlant has won 3-1 and 2-1 games this week to knot that series. Salavat Yulaev rolled to a 4 to 1 victory over Ak Bars, and awaits tomorrow's Avangard/Metallurg Magnitogorsk game 7. Avangard had pulled out to a 3-2 lead after two OT games- one decided at 9:11 of the third OT (the longest KHL game ever), and the next at 6 minutes of the second OT- but lost this morning 2-1 to send the series to a final game.

Finally, we go to Germany's DEL where Grizzly Adams Wolfsburg (31-21) wins the regular season title. This is another league that has a 7-8-9-10 play in round, in which the last two spots were won by Adler Mannheim and Kolner Hale. The quarterfinals start Wednesday, with Wolfsburg drawing Kolner Hale, second place DEG Metrostars from Dusseldorf taking on Adler Mannheim, 3-seed Eisbaren Berlin facing ERC Ingolstadt, and Krefeld Pinguine versus defending champ Hanover Scorpions.

Like much about Wolfsburg, the Grizzly Adams team is relatively new, founded in 1975. They play in the Eisarena, cap. 4,660, and this is their closest sniff to the DEL or Bundesliga championship.

Wolfsburg itself is not much older, founded in 1937 as Stadt des KdF Wagens
(city of the KdF cars), a factory town housing the workers of the Volkswagen plant. In fact, the team's main sponsor is Skoda, a Czech automaker owned by VW. (and the team in turn sponsors a bear park in the area.) After 1945, the city returned to auto building and in 1972 was renamed Wolfsburg after a nearby castle built in the 1600s. Population 121,000 and change, Wolfsburg is home to the Autostadt, an open-air auto history museum run by VW, as well as the Phaeno Science Center, which I believe is a larger, more adult version of Science Central. Wolfsburg is centrally located in northern Germany, in what was once Lower Saxony.

Next week, we'll have one last city to see (as far as season champs go; we already know we'll have at least one more championship city), plus I'm thinking we'll be into more than one set of finals.

Friday, March 18, 2011

more march manglings, and an update.

Out of sheer boredom, and after a fellow blogger celebrated her 50,000th view in just under a year, and because I'm a stat freak, here's some totally meaningless numbers.

Early this year, I installed those groovy little cool/interesting/funny counters at the bottom of my posts. Thus far, My blog posts have recorded 15 interestings, 4 cools, and 2 funnys. TWO funnys?? WTF? I thought I was much funnier than that! Of course the fact that I got about 5 times as many interestings as I deserved somewhat balances it. Over this time period, I've collected 111 comments in around 70 posts. Considering that I only had 136 in the previous 240-odd posts since I started, not too shabby, you guys!

Also this year, I added a TAW facebook page. It has already garnered me another 2,742 viewings, with the highest (very surprisingly) belonging to the Feb. 3rd Eurohockey update. However, if comments were money, I'd be bankrupt. Oh, well, how many people do I need to tell me I have a screw loose?


News begins to slow down in the Japan disaster as we settle into the "trench warfare" stage of the proceedings. I was not surprised to hear that the ultimate solution of sealing the reactors in concrete has at last come up. Here's another report from Rikuzen Takata from the Globe and Mail's Mark MacKinnon:

When the tsunami warning buzzer rang out over this sleepy port on Japan’s northeast coast, people knew what to do because they’d practised for the moment all their lives. They calmly left their homes and made their way to the gathering places designated by the municipal government: City Hall; a community centre; the local gymnasium.

For hundreds of people, if not more, the shelters they were ordered into proved to be deathtraps. Rikuzen-Takata’s disaster plan had been designed to deal with the three- and four-metre waves the city had seen in 1960 after an earthquake in faraway Chile. No one had anticipated the 15-metre tsunami that crashed through the city on Friday following a 9.0-magnitude earthquake just offshore, one that flung boats, shipping cranes and people inland, drowning those who had done as they were told and gathered in the low-lying shelters.
Of the estimated 1,000 people huddling in the three buildings, the only survivors were 100 people who made their way to the top floor of City Hall. The rest were swept away by a tide so high and fierce that it blew out the walls and windows on all three floors of the neighbouring shopping centre.
“People just relied on the bureaucracy. They became too obedient,” said Tsuyoshi Kinno, head of the neighbourhood committee in one of the districts of Rikuzen-Takata closest to the Pacific coast. “The administration made a mistake.”
Mr. Kinno was wandering through the silent remains of the city Tuesday, poking at the ground with a stick as Rikuzen-Takata continued its gruesome search for the thousands still missing and presumed dead beneath the rubble. In his other hand, he held a mud-covered photograph of a wedding he’d attended. The bride and groom were both among the missing, he said.
One week after Japan earthquake and tsunami, official toll stands at 6,911 dead,10,316 missing. It will continue to rise. Japan hit by record 262 aftershocks of 5.0 or greater since the big quake a week ago.As the full scale of the damage caused to Japan’s east coast gets clearer, it’s becoming plain that this town of 24,000 was among the hardest hit.
Once a pretty port set between the Yokote mountains and the Pacific Coast, Rikuzen-Takata effectively no longer exists. The town centre has been reduced to a vast field of flipped cars, mud-covered furniture and broken concrete. Only a few windowless buildings remain upright in the town centre, jutting up like tombstones from the field of death and destruction around them.
The death toll was still climbing Monday as rescue workers picked through the rubble with sticks, discovering new bodies so fast that they ran out of body bags and started carrying corpses on blankets taken from destroyed homes. Local officials estimated that between 20 and 40 per cent of the city’s predisaster population is dead.
“I think everybody in Takata town [the part of the city closest to the water] is dead,” said Matsumi Konno, a 54-year-old woman who was scanning a missing persons message board set up in a hilltop middle school that has been converted into a refuge for those who escaped the wreckage below. She was furious that her friends and neighbours had been herded into shelters so close to the coastline.
Mr. Kinno, the neighbourhood committee head, agreed that many had died because of poor preparation. Although he was outside Rikuzen-Takata when he felt the initial earthquake, he turned around and drove back into town when he heard the tsunami alarm.
When the 73-year-old arrived downtown, he was appalled to see so many people huddled inside the tiny community centre. “It was unintelligent,” he said, so he asked everyone to follow him to higher ground.
It was too late. As Mr. Kinno led a group of 60 people outside, he saw the wall of water coming for them. “It was black, black water. It was as if Godzilla had come and was trying to eat the people,” he recalled with awe in his voice.
Forty of those who followed Mr. Kinno into the streets were swept away in the rush of black. The rest scrambled into City Hall and raced the water up the stairs to the top floor, those moving too slowly drowning on their way up the stairs, Mr. Kinno said.
The water poured right through Rikuzen-Takata, and rushed past the mountains, filling the rice-growing valleys in between. The devastation carried five kilometres up the road into tiny mountain villages from where the ocean previously hadn’t been visible.
“We didn’t think this was possible,” said 52-year-old Iwako Onodera as she picked her way through the soggy and smashed remains of her family’s two-storey home, which now had a disconnected stretch of railway track and a flipped white Toyota van in the backyard. Though Ms. Onodera and her children were away when the wave struck, her parents died when water flooded the entire ground floor of the house.
Her brother Kaoru built the family home 10 years ago, but as he and Ms. Onodera salvaged whatever they could from the house, he said he didn’t expect to be back. “I don’t think people will want to move back here.”

And that is the saddest part. The home where I grew up was sold and remodeled; when I got the opportunity to return, some time after, it looked much the same on the outside. Standing inside, I did not recognize it. I stood stunned for minutes trying to get a sense of bearings I would never find. That is a fraction of what the survivors in dozens of Japanese cities and villages are going through. I wonder, if the government could wave a magic wand and remove the debris, rebuild the levees, the buildings, and the homes, how many would say, "This is no longer my home" and walk away as Kaoru Onodera plans.

My son KC notes that this disaster has brought out the "fire and brimstone" in many preachers.
I don't agree with either the "this is a judgement" or the "this is a sign of the end times" crowd. But what I will say is this. Being ready for the 8.2 quake (as the reactors were) but not the 9.0 that hit; being ready the ten-foot wave from 1960 and not the 50-foot one that came; the levee that could withstand the cat 3 hurricane and not the monster that was Katrina. New Orleans, Haiti, Chile, Pakistan, Christchurch, and now Sendai have shown us two things. Number one: safety measures on the cheap dictated by actuarial tables and short-term past history are no help when the planet itself is somehow becoming more violent. Number two: God's creation can break anything we build. If we follow the scientific data that protects us from the most disaster most economically, they fail and people die. If we build the safety measure to protect against a 10.0 earthquake and 100-foot tsunami, somehow we'll get hit with a meteorite which dwarfs our daydreams of destruction. The news media seems to think every disaster shows where we weren't prepared enough, we should have done more. At a certain point, we've got to just do the best we can and live with the consequences.

Step into my time machine week forty-seven

Okay, it's that time again, and this week we deal with subjects scattered from Portugal to Vietnam, from young to old, and everywhere in between. Let's kick off this week at the bottom of the Hot 100 where we find 11 debuts. Three of them were memorable: at 83 is the Andrea True Connection with the hit More More More; at 80, a song that just might be up Bob G.'s alley, so to speak, CW McCalls' There Won't Be No Country Music (There Won't Be No Rock'n'Roll)- and amazing it is that while the apocalypse he predicted is still coming slowly towards us, nobody worries about it anymore. Finally at 72, hang on for more searches from Germany as Silver Convention is back with Get Up And Boogie.

The big movers take care of that "young and old" that I mentioned previously. Falling 24 notches to 67 is Wake Up Everybody (Wake up all the doctors make the old people well/They're the ones who suffer an' who catch all the hell/But they don't have so very long before their Judgement Day/So won'tcha make them happy before they pass away); and the big climber was Bad Company's Young Blood, up 21 to #63.

Not meaning to be neglectful, but I'm unsure about my previous intention of mentioning the old man of the countdown award, because it doesn't change all that much when a song refuses to fall. For example this week we have 5 songs who have held on 20 weeks or more. You Sexy Thing just (and just barely) dropped out of the top forty after 23 weeks, and Dream On, for reasons I went into 2 weeks ago, is also at 23 weeks. Love Machine (which will play a role later on), Love To Love You Baby (fallen to 31), and I Write The Songs (58) all are at 20. Three more, including Baby Face- which just finally fell out of the top 40 for the second time- are waiting in the wings.

We are at the 6's in our look at #1s from other years this week. Brandy was on top in 1996 with Sittin' In My Room (which I didn't recognize, naturally); 1986 saw Heart on top with These Dreams (making me miss their days of Dreamboat Annie);1976 - sorry, no peeking; 1966 was another I would imagine is a Bob G. fave, The Ballad Of The Green Berets by SSgt. Barry Sadler. Sadler led an interesting life. Lost his father at the age of 36. Dropped out in his sophomore year and spent a year hitchhiking across the country. Enlisting at the end of those journeys in the USAF. Wounded by stepping on a punji stick in Vietnam in 1965, and nearly dying of the ensuing infection. Switched from music to writing fairly successful novels. In 1978 he killed the drug-addicted ex- boyfriend of his then-girlfriend,in a case of self-defense and on appeal ended up serving just 21 days for manslaughter. He moved to Guatemala City then, and was believed to be facilitating supply of the Contras when he himself was shot in the head. After about a year in a coma, he died in 1989. "pin silver wings on my son's chest..."

1956 still remains, and the top song 55 years ago today was Nelson Riddle Orchestra's Lisbon Antigua, Nelson's only top ten hit. Riddle is probably most associated with his 1980s collaboration with Linda Ronstadt on her easy-listening lps such as Lush Life shortly before his passing in 1985.

Four songs work their way into the top 40 this week. Up five to #39 is Jigsaw's follow-up to Sky High, called Love Fire (Didn't remember, listened to it, wasn't overly impressed). Up 4 spots to 37 comes Waylon and Willie with Good Hearted Woman. Shooting up 17 is Peter Frampton with the live Show Me The Way at 34. And yet another I had to listen to to try and recall- John Denver's Looking For Space, which jumped from 45 to 28. I didn't really remember it, but Laurie did. Of course, she has a slew of John Denver tapes, so she cheated. Back then, I was just beginning my transition from WOWO to WMEE, so perhaps I lost it in the cracks.

Almost but not quite nods go out to two songs this week. Foghat peaks at 20 with their biggest hit, Slow Ride. This is where the airplay component failed them; in 2009, VH1 named Slow Ride the 45th best hard rock song ever. Also peaking this week at 24 is Roxy Music's one US hit, Love Is The Drug. Having never really heard any of their other songs, I can't judge whether Roxy Music was underplayed or overrated, but a lot of that 70s-80s New York scene never did much for me.

The countdown of the #1 albums of the 70's, stuck in that nine week long pattern of one week wonders, finds us in October of 1974. On the 12th, Olivia Newton-John took the top spot with If You Love Me Let Me Know. A compilation of her previous UK albums Long Live Love and Olivia, this was a North America only release, and besides the #5 title track, contained I Honestly Love You. This song, Olivia begged MCA to release, but they refused, citing that it only hit #22 in the UK. But after the album came out, thousands of letters from fans inundated the record offices, and they relented. Soon later, it hit number one. Have I mentioned that A&R guys can be idiots? Anyway, also notable on this lp was a cover of the Beach Boys' God Only Knows.

Olivia found herself replaced the next week by BTO with their great album Not Fragile. With a name said to be a reply to the Yes album Fragile (which was also great) and a lead song which was accused of being a cribbing of the Who's Baba O'Riley ( You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet, which was recorded as a Randy Bachman joke on his brother, and he had to be begged for three weeks by the record company to release it) Not Fragile ruled the roost the week of October 19th. You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet took a fairly normal path to #1 and out on Cashbox; but on the sales and airplay figured Billboard chart, it took two weeks to drop from 1 to 34, then went right back up to 8 for two weeks when people found out that the b-side, an instrumental called Free Wheelin', was a tribute to the late Duane Allman. Also hitting the charts from Not Fragile was the #14 Roll On Down The Highway.

Following Randy and the boys on October 26th was Bedroom Barry White with his lp Can't Get Enough. This record had the #1 Can't Get Enough Of Your Love Baby and the #2 You're The First, The Last, My Everything (Barry was obviously an attentive student of the BJ Thomas School For Long Song Titles).

One song into the top ten this week, one drops out. The Theme From SWAT speeds away, falling from 6 to 14.

Aw, crap! I'm supposed to have a special in this slot, but I've done them all!

One of our old Man Award winners, the Miracles' Love Machine, drops from 5 to 10 this week. Nazareth hangs on to the #9 slot with Love Hurts for a second week. Jumping in from 11 to 8th are the Bay City Rollers with Money Honey (which when I burned this to CD, Laurie didn't remember it, so it's a wash with John Denver). Aerosmith climbs one notch to #7 with Dream On; so does Rufus featuring the well-endowed Chaka Khan with Sweet Thing at #6.

Eric Carmen yields the top spot after one week, falling to #5 with All By Myself. Johnny Taylor has another big week with Disco Lady; his 6-notch jump takes him from 27 to 10 to 4 in just three weeks. The Captain And Tenille move up one spot to #3 with Lonely Night/Angel Face. Sliding up one to the runner-up slot is Gary Wright and Dream Weaver. Somewhere I read that Wright wasn't going to release it as a single, thinking it silly, but his wife convinced him- however, I don't remember where I saw that and can't find it now, so we'll list that story under "apocryphal" for the time being. And now, this week's #1 song in 1976-

December 1963 (Oh, What A Night) by the Four Seasons, featuring the "sound" of Frankie Valli!

That's it for this week, gang. See you next time!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Rikuzen Takata update #3

WAAAY too tired to really do this justice, but just got this article on

OBI delivers large quantity of rice to devastated Rikuzen Takata, Japan
Operation Blessing International
Date: 17 Mar 2011
Snow, Lack Of fuel, Impassable Roads Making Relief Efforts Difficult
RIKUZEN TAKATA, JAPAN (March 17, 2011) -- For the last two days the Operation Blessing International (OBI) disaster relief team has supplied food and water to over 1,500 people despite heavy snow, a lack of fuel, impassable roads, and the nuclear threat.
Yesterday the OBI team, under the direction of David Darg, director of international disaster relief, drove to the city of Oshu, where, thanks to the charity’s donors, they were able to purchase a large amount of rice at a supermarket. Darg had learned about the situation in Rikuzen Takata, a completely devastated area to the North that had only just been made accessible and was desperately low on food.
The team drove north through the mountains and a heavy snowstorm with whiteout conditions, only to arrive to a scene of total devastation unlike anything David Darg had seen before.
Darg said, “Since 2005, I have responded to dozens of major disasters around the world. In all my experience, I have never seen destruction like I saw in Rikuzen Takata today. Thousands of homes had been disintegrated into millions of fragments of wood. One three story building that must have been 70 feet tall gave clues to how high the Tsunami waters were; one resident told us that people taking refuge on the roof were standing in water up to their waists! The military had just bulldozed some of the roads clear, leaving walls of debris 25 feet high that we walked through like a maze. The debris was a mixture of wooden homes, household items and mud.
It is believed around 10,000 people were either killed or are still missing right here.”
OBI set up at one of 50 shelters, a school housing over 1,000 people, many of whom were sleeping in the auditorium. “The leadership at the shelter were so grateful when we told them we had rice. They are feeding the 1000 people in the shelter and 200 more who are without food. Up until now, the center had only been able to provide bread in very limited amounts and this was difficult, especially for the elderly who were very hungry.”
The rice that OBI provided should last the shelter one week.
On Tuesday, the team provided food and drinking water for 250 people who have set up a makeshift shelter in a school building in Shiogama, a city also decimated by the disaster.
Said Darg, “Families have moved into the classrooms and are sleeping on the floors on blankets. Outside, some of the families were burning wood in a metal can to keep warm; a sight that I’m told is very unusual for Japan where electricity and fuel networks are widespread. The food and water we had in the van was unloaded into the school kitchen and within 2 hours was being served to everyone in the shelter.”
Next, OBI is planning to distribute kerosene for the heaters in the shelters, as the temperature remains below freezing.

If you check out OBI's website (as I did), this story is fleshed out in a blog by Mr. Darg. He tells the story of one elderly gentleman who thought that his house had survived the inrush of the Tsunami, only to watch it float out to sea when it abated. He did manage to recover an Imperial Medal given him by former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori some ten years ago.

I honestly have a hard time comprehending what it would be like standing on the ROOF of a 4-story building in WAIST-DEEP water, having to hang on to something, anything, for dear life and thinking, "THERE IS NO PLACE LEFT TO GO." I hope it never gets any clearer, for any of us.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Some seriousness, some fun

Before I heartlessy go on to the fun stuff, here's an article about the "myth of preparedness" from the Daily Yomiyuri:

RIKUZEN-TAKATA, Iwate--Tsunami caused by the massive Tohoku earthquake were so high they instantly breached the large embankments built along the Sanriku coastal region, local people said.
The region is equipped with highly advanced anti-tsunami measures constructed after previous disasters, including tsunami caused by the Great Chilean Earthquake in 1960 that killed 142 people in Japan.
One of the embankments in the region is even recorded in Guinness World Records.
After the tsunami left the region's towns covered in mud and debris from destroyed buildings, some survivors regret that too much confidence had been placed in the embankments.
"We all believed tsunami would never reach our area," said Ikuo Sugano, 61, who operates a futon shop in the Takatacho Omachi district in Rikuzen-Takata.
The area has been hit by many tsunami following earthquakes, including the Meiji-Sanriku quake in 1896, Showa Sanriku quake in 1933 and 1960 Chilean quake.
However, the Omachi area, which is about a kilometer from the coast, was not affected by the Chilean quake. As a result, local residents believed tsunami would never reach the area.
When they held a study session to prepare for powerful earthquakes and tsunami two months ago, they only discussed accepting survivors from other areas and preparing meals for them.
They never imagined they would be tsunami victims themselves.
"I remember the time [of the tsunami caused by the Chilean quake], but I never thought a stronger tsunami was possible," Sugano said. "I was much too optimistic."
In the Tohoku quake, a 10-meter wave of water poured into the Omachi area and instantly smashed shops and houses to matchwood.
Although there is some high ground north of the area, very few local residents headed toward it to reach safety.
Nearly 60 percent of people belonging to the area's neighborhood association are still missing.
"All of us thought the tsunami would never reach our places. But we were wrong," said a 63-year-old man who lives in an area about one kilometer inland from the Omachi area. His house was destroyed in the tsunami.
"Our embankment is the best in the world. How come we suffered that much?" asked a resident in Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture, as he looked with dismay at what was left of the embankment.
Recorded in Guinness book
The 1,960-meter-long embankment was built at a cost of 130 billion yen over a 30-year period from 1978.
It was the nation's first embankment designed to resist the most powerful earthquake. Its foundation was built on the seabed 63 meters below the surface of the sea. It was recorded in Guinness World Records as the embankment that is the world's deepest in water.
When a major quake hit Chile in February last year, the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry's Tohoku Regional Bureau proudly announced that the embankment helped keep back the tsunami that reached the area.
"Some people had built new houses near the coast because they were so confident in the embankment," the Kamaishi resident said with a sigh as he stood in front of the debris of destroyed houses.
No match for raging torrent
In Ofunato, Iwate Prefecture, many people were killed in the tsunami caused by 1960 Chilean quake.
As a result, a large embankment was built at the mouth of the Ofunato Bay.
According to the city's port and business department, the tsunami destroyed most of the 291-meter-long southern part of the embankment and all of the 243.7-meter-long northern part.
Although local residents saw the embankment as a visual symbol of the city's invulnerability against tsunami, it had weakened over time.
"We were almost sure we could start strengthening it with funds from next fiscal year's budget," a city employee in charge of disaster prevention said.
In the city's Sanrikucho Okirai area, 19 people were killed in the 1933 Showa Sanriku quake and ensuing tsunami.
Shinsaku Katayama, 85, a survivor of that tsunami who works in the construction business and lives in the area, has given lectures at primary and middle schools to increase teachers' and students' awareness of the danger of tsunami, using notes of the 1933 disaster he compiled over a one-year period.
Katayama said the number of participants in local disaster drills had fallen over the past few years and he felt awareness of the danger of tsunami had declined.
"Because of the embankments, they never imagined they'd be hit by tsunami. They acted as if nothing untoward would happen," he said with an air of despair

I didn't highlight certain passages to dig a knife into their backs. I did it to remind us, the world is the Titanic. No matter what we feel we are prepared for, there is always something out there waiting to overwhelm it. That is why I feel so sad for our atheist brethren- this kind of thing is Exactly why we need faith in a Loving and Merciful God. Without Him, losing everything would mean... losing everything.


Okay, now let's have a little fun with this week's crop of e-mail scammers. Our first contestant showed up Tuesday:
We wish to bring to your notice as a delegate from the Nigeria Government Reimbursement committee under the strict supervision of the United Nations to pay 230 Nigerian 419 scam victims the sum of $7,500.000.00 (Seven Million Five Hundred United states Dollars) each. You are hereby listed as one of the beneficiaries for this immediate reimbursement of funds.As a result of this laudable recommendations,it is imperative to bring to your notice that during the last U.N. meeting held in Abuja, Nigeria,it was alarmed by so many countries around the world about loss of funds by various foreigners to these scam artists operating in syndicates all over the world today.
In other to redeem the good image of our dear country,the President has ordered the immediate payment of $7,500.000.00 (Seven Million Five Hundred United states Dollars) each to the affected victims in accordance with the U.N. directives.Due to the corrupt and inefficient Banking Systems in Nigeria, these payments are to be made by ECO BANK OF NIGERIA as the corresponding paying bank under the funding assistance of the INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND(WORLD BANK) Presently, 184 Beneficiaries have been paid, more than 50% of the victims are from the United States,while about 40% are from other parts of the world.Your particulars were among those mentioned by some of the Syndicates hat were apprehended in Lagos, Nigeria as one of the victims of the operations, you are hereby warned not to communicate or duplicate this message to anybody for any reason whatsoever as the U.S. secret service in conjunction with The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has swung into action to track these set of criminals down.Once again,you are expected to keep away until these criminals are all apprehended.The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) (Motto: No Body is Above the Law) have combined effort with the United Nations Anti-crime commission to alleviate the plight of these victims as well as redeeming the image of our dear country.
Many Banks, Universal firms, Companies and individuals have been in bankruptcy today due to the activity of these hoodlums. However, a thorough investigation revealed that these people have dropped over 500,000 victims across the world, after collecting their money falsely, many as a result of this have committed suicide,while others are now living in abject poverty.As regards these on going developmental strive, we have over 200 suspects at hand, 135 in kirikri prisons.While many are awaiting trial, we are still in search of others,who think they are wise, and hope that you will assist by giving any vital information that could lead to the apprehension of these hoodlums.
You SHALL receive your reimbursement via TRANSFER PAYMENT SYSTEM. We shall be waiting to hearing from you for the final claim of your $7,500.000.00 (Seven Million Five Hundred United states Dollars) Reimbursement fund.Finally, you are urgently advised to furnish this office with your full names/address, your direct phone/fax number, your age/marital status and an attach copy of any of your recent Identity.Awaiting for your prompt response.
Yours faithfully,

Okay, so let's look this over. First, do you really think any president from any country would establish a scam-payback fund out of wanting to "redeem the name of this dear country"? Okay, we could all see Obama doing it, and there may well be chief execs out there who are even dum... er, more politically correct than Barrack. Second, "Due to the corrupt and inefficient Banking Systems in Nigeria, these payments are to be made by ECO BANK OF NIGERIA as the corresponding paying bank". So, since the Nigerian system is so corrupt, let's pay things out through a Nigerian bank. Good thinking there! Third, What does the Secret Service have to do with investigating financial crimes. Fourth, interesting that I was on the "dumbass got scammed list" when I haven't yet get quite that stupid yet. Maybe they're looking for that other CW Martin who still lives in New Haven. Fifth, while there is an apparently legit EFFC, I was not able to find any link to "corny mottos" on their site. Sixth, I think you mean that they have "duped" 500 k people around the world, not "dropped", unless they combine their monetary services with a travel agency. Finally, "As regards these on going developmental strive". WTF does THAT mean? Other than if these people are really involved with the UN, they might want to cross-ref with UNESCO and learn proper grammar. That sentence came straight out of one of my son's 6th grade essay assignments.

This next one actually tried to weave a little more reality into the BS.
Atten Dear Sir/Madam
This message is permitted to be read only by the beneficiary of this address for security purposes? We have been having meetings for over (5) Five Month and we have come to the final conclusion from our last meeting held at our headquarter February 28th, 2011 with the president of Benin Republic Dr. Thomas Yayi Boni and Minister of Foreign Affairs Mrs. Mariam Aladji.
The United Nations Office have agreed to compensate you with the sum of $1.500,000.00USD and that is why we decided to contact you directly and make sure that this information reached you, This funds have been arranged for you through our ATM Swift Card Payment Center Diamond Bank Plc as that is the latest instruction by His Excellency Mr. Ban Ki-Moon The Secretary-General The United Nations.
This compensation includes every foreign contractors that may have not received their contract fund and people that have had an unfinished transaction or international businesses that failed due to Government problems etc?
You are advised to contact our representative Mr. Jim Wilfred of Diamond Bank PLC Benin Republic and Send to him your full contact details as follow: (1) Full names….: (2) Country:...... (3)Address:...... (4)City:........ (5)Tel Phone: (6) Occupation :......(7)Age:... (8): Sex.....
Contact Mr. Jim Wilfred With the Below Information:
Contact Person Mr. Jim Wilfred
Director Diamond Bank Plc
Benin Republic
Email: ( )
Phone: +229-9917-2795
Click on this link to see by yourself (
Making the world a better place
Ms. Asha-Rose Migiro

Okay, so there is a President Thomas Yayi Boni in Benin, and Ms. Migiro is a deputy to Ban Ki-Moon. And, despite my doubts, "His Excellency IS the proper way to address a UN Sec-Gen. There is even a Diamond Bank PLC , although it is in NIGERIA (obviously a part of that corrupt Nigerian banking system), not Benin. Also, we see two question marks, both of them where they do not belong. Another glitch in the google Yoruba to English program, no doubt. Also, and this is a tip to you would be victims out there- Are you a contractor whose done business in Benin? Or a business person with dealings in Benin? I'M NOT! And nobody seems to know who Jim Wilford is, except the scam sites that have various examples of his handiwork.

Finally, Punctuation? We don' need no Steenkin' punctuation!

Christopher the economy is not the same as it used to be the internet is where you make the most money now we will be more well off now than ever before you wont regret giving this program a shot you dont need experience to use this program there is no limited to your boundaries

Okay, let's all take a breath and look at this. First of all, I have a PSA for my wonderful readers _ let's not be stupid and click on any of these links, okay? I'm quite confident that they are full of ooze that will choke off all the love and kindness that resides in your computer. Second, if the internet was the place to make money we'd all be rich, eh? Third, "there is no LIMITED to your boundaries." (Oops, shouldn't have put that period in there.) Again, welcome to the KC Martin School of Grammar circa 1990.