Saturday, October 15, 2005

Mt Soledad, A Mockery of Common Sense

While following a link regarding comment on a suicide bombing occurring during a popular football game, I stumbled on an article about the Mt Soledad Cross debacle being acted out in San Diego. I have a special attachment to that spot since I used to view it from my neighborhood when I lived in San Diego. My kids and I even hiked up the steep side over looking I-5 in the early 1980's. For some reason I have always enjoyed seeing and revisiting that special place. Even navigating the twisting steep roads between desirable residences to get to the top has a special allure for me.

This attraction has little to do with religious conviction, although I do feel a certain peace knowing that the cross is a symbol in our society for a set of values centered on being nice to each other and honoring good. I would be willing to object to its destruction just on these personal positions alone.

Now comes along an individual who is obviously on a different wave-length regarding the symbol of the cross and finds it offensive to the extent that he is willing to make it his prime purpose of existence to see that it’s destroyed. Although I might question the sanity of such a pursuit I will argue that he has a right to express his opinion and pursue his hearts desire as long as he doesn't break the law. However, this liberty I grant him is only with the belief that common sense will prevail. By this I include the kind of sense that is held in common by most of the people that would be affected by the results of the action proposed.

Here's where this issue becomes scary. The courts of both the State of California and the Federal Government seem bent on finding reasons to disallow the reasonable attempts of the City of San Diego to resolve this issue even to the extent of disregarding the results of a referendum put before the people where more than 80% want to leave the cross where it has been for decades. The State Judge even managed to manipulate the law to require that a 70% majority be required for the referendum to be valid, and after it was validated found reason to rule against it anyway. The Fed Court shoots down the City for trying to comply with the State Courts mandate to quit maintaining the cross with public funds because the City proposed turning over the property to another entity that the Court thinks is likely to keep the cross just like the people of San Diego say they want.

Is there something wrong with this picture, or could it be that I don't really understand how harmful this cross symbol is to the people of San Diego but the Court does?

My frustration is shared by a fellow blogger, Ninme, who used these expressions regarding some comments challenging the validity of the newly proposed Supreme Court nominee because she was a religious person:

"... I would have said it was unconstitutional ....... to vote against her because of her religion."

"Of course that never occurred to anyone
[the people involved in the validity discussion] so the very strong feeling I have that I'm living in an alternate universe only intensified and I'm quickly being reduced to the state of gibbering idiocy. I wonder if they'd let me blog from the asylum?"

"It's just so insane. It's like you're watching a crowd of people through two-way glass talking about how things have changed since the sky turned green, and you want to but can't scream at them "It's blue! It's blue, you idiots!" But they can't hear you. And all this time you thought they knew what colour the sky is."

Something is terribly wrong with having justice met out by Judges blind to common sense. I don't believe that "Blind Justice" was intended to include "Stupid". It's like that General said about recovering New Orleans from Katrina, "Lets not get stuck on stupid".

May the people of San Diego prevail they won't have to change the name of their baseball team too.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Prehistoric Nuke Training Stories

Bubblehead, over at his blog, The Stupid Shall Be Punished, posted an article for us "Old School" nukes revealing the modern day facilities at Charleston. Looks like it even has some real floating nuclear submarine power plants to train on. I remain impressed with this enlightenment and wonder if they would consider providing a geezernuke tour.

Now for the "gotchya".
Bubblehead also lovingly provided; "For you really, really "old school" nukes, the site also has some pictures of the Nuke Power buildings in Bainbridge and Mare Island". What Bubblehead was apparently not "old" enough to detect was that the first picture was of Cromwell Hall at Subbase New London not just Bainbridge & Mare. Cromwell Hall completed construction abt 1958 - 59 soon enough to allow NP School Class 10 to finish our classroom training there.

If you look closely at this picture you can see that the entrance of the building is through doors which are now bracketed with glass walls. Those glass walls use to go all the way across the foyer and wrap around the corner, you can see where they were later filled in with opaque material.

(And now the stage is set for one of the stories I promised.)

We moved into the new building about a month before they installed the glass walls and doors in the entrance foyer and it was common practice to take a short cut through the empty frames at the corner of the foyer when entering or leaving.
One of our instructors was a college professor, reserve officer, who had been called to temporary active duty and was obviously not enthralled with being there. His uniforms didn't fit, his hair unmilitary, grumbled a lot, and had a pipe in his mouth that he only took out when he wanted to point it at something he wrote on the blackboard. When he was finished teaching what he had prepared he usually just picked up his stuff and rapidly left the classroom. On the day they installed the glass in the foyer he left the classroom at high speed, took the shortcut and ran smack into the newly installed glass. The pipe got shoved into his throat severely enough that the base ambulance was called to take him away. I do not remember if he ever recovered and returned to our classroom. If any of you readers, who might have been there too, can recollect better than me please comment.

(I did use the details of this incident later in life as an aid in teaching accident prevention principles.)

Now here's another about hazards regarding instructors physically unqualified for using prehistoric Nuke School visual aids:

The giant 6 ft slide rule hung on hooks above the blackboard and the slide was manipulated by inserting a finger in one of the several 2 inch holes provided and shifting it horizontally to the desired position. One of our instructors was a short Chief who had difficulty reaching the slide. He would stretch up to put his finger in the hole and then had to jump a little to get enough leverage to make it move. We all used to grunt for him when he did this. As luck would have it, one time he didn't get his finger out in time and wedged it into the hole as it passed under the frame. It actually broke his finger. (It should be noted for accuracy sake that this happened before we moved classes into Cromwell Hall.)

Saftey is obviously the primary reason slide rule class is no longer a required subject.

I'll bet that you modern nukes have never even seen a slide rule let alone tried to use one while picking data off a xenon decay graph in order to calculate an ECP. Us prehistoric ROs all had this state of the art, log log duplex decitrig, K&E six inch pocket slide rule in a leather covered pocket clip case.

Another tidbit about Cromwell Hall:

Evidently the building got constructed in the wrong location and was too close to the rock cliff behind and to the north of the building. This was remedied by issuing a contract to move the cliff back about 4ft. So while we were at class in the building we became familiar with rock blasting techniques. That's right, real explosive demolition. It was the first time I had heard the warning "Fire In the Hole" but by the time we graduated we could have easily gotten a job as experienced workers helping to remove rock cliffs without breaking any windows in the adjacent (1o ft away) building. There were a couple of times that rocks got past the railroad tie mats they used to cover the"Hole" but no calamities happened. There was, of course , a lot of disscussion about this phase of our training not qualifying for hazardous duty pay.

Thank you, Bubblehead, for the brain stimulation that got me remembering this stuff. Although thinking of myself as old enough to be a talking history book is not easy.