Sunday, March 22, 2015

'Feminism Unfinished': Freedom, Justice for All

Review by Bill Doughty –  

This book presents a history of the modern women's rights movement and argues that equality gains for women were not easy and the work is not complete. Ingrained cultural biases against rights for women make progress slow, the authors say:

"Women's subordination is an ancient human practice, ingrained into nearly every major religion and nearly every economic system."

"Feminism Unfinished" focuses on the past 95 years, the status of women's right today, and the ongoing struggle in the future.

"Feminism Unfinished: A Short, Surprising History of American Women's Movements" by Dorothy Sue Cobble, Linda Gordon and Astrid Henry, 2014, W. W. Norton and Company.

The authors acknowledge the achievements toward equality, thanks to women and men activists:
"Since the women's suffrage amendment was adopted in 1920, most legal restrictions on women have been abolished: Women now serve on juries, fight in the armed forces, and can apply for any job or to attend any education institution, for example. Women can wear what they want and love whom they desire."
While that may be true in the United States, what about the rest of the world?

In her essay, "From Mindset to a Movement," author Astrid Henry shows how women's rights movements are being championed in other countries by women drivers in Saudi Arabia, punk rockers in Russia, bloggers in Eqypt, protesters in Spain, sex education activists in Africa and feminists in Mexico.

"Perhaps no one better symbolizes the future of feminism than Malala Yousafzai, the young feminist activist from Pakistan," Henry writes. 

Shot in the head by a member of the violent extremist Taliban because she dared speak out for the rights of girls to get an education, Yousafzai suffered through months of rehabilitation and bravely took up the mantle again for women's rights and the right for all children to be educated. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014.

In their afterward, the authors conclude:
"Feminism of the future ... may well be led by women from the poorer countries of the world. They in turn will also invent feminisms that meet their needs and aspirations. It is impossible to understand the world's problems and hopes without taking into account the growing global movements for women's health, education, bodily integrity, sexual freedom, political participation, and economic equality. Just as American feminism transformed American society, so global feminism is likely to transform the world."
Girls from the vocational training program in Khawja Omari, Afghanistan, Nov. 11, 2009.
(Photo by Master Sgt. Sarah Webb, Combat Camera Afghanistan)
This book is not and cannot be all inclusive in showcasing women's rights movements over the past century. Nevertheless, it introduces the reader to some of the key people, currents within the movement and ongoing challenges toward achieving full equal rights.

Continuing progress in the United States is not inevitable, the authors conclude – especially in areas of healthcare access, growing income inequality, parental leave, rape prevention and equal pay. Progress in full equality, they write, relies on cooperation, education and participation by everyone, male and female.

"Looking forward," Henry writes, "the unfinished work of feminism will require a diversity of voices, willing to come together to secure freedom and justice for all."

(It's Women's History Month. Happy Birthday to the late Amalie Emmy Noether, influential mathematician born March 23, 1882.)

Saturday, March 21, 2015

W20: Put Eleanor on $20 Bill?

By Bill Doughty – 
Eleanor's school portrait, 1898.

Eleanor Roosevelt championed civil rights, equality for women and the role of the Navy in the 20th century. She transformed the role of First Lady and was a key communicator between government and the people through her daily newspaper column, essays and broadcasts.

No wonder she's one of the candidates in a grassroots public effort to see a woman pictured on a new twenty dollar bill. Among those being considered are Alice Paul, Soujourner Truth, Elizabeth Cady-Stanton, Rosa Parks, Rachel Carson and Patsy Mink, among others.

Some of Eleanor Roosevelt's writing is included in "Aunt Lute's Anthology of U.S. Women Writers, Volume Two," published in 2008.

In 1943, as Americans of Japanese ancestry served in Europe and the Pacific while others were imprisoned in camps, the First Lady expressed her thoughts. At first wrestling with the contradictions, she ultimately faced the hypocrisy of the War Relocation Act in this conclusion to her essay:
"Japanese-Americans may be no more Japanese than a German-American is German, or an Italian-American is Italian. All of these people, including the Japanese-Americans, have men who are fighting today for the preservation of the democratic way of life and the ideas around which our nation was built." 
"We have no common race in this country, but we have an ideal to which all of us are loyal. It is our ideal which we want to have live. It is an ideal which can grow with our people, but we cannot progress if we look down upon any group of people among us because of race or religion. Every citizen in this country has a right to our basic freedoms, to justice and to equality of opportunity, and we retain the right to lead our individual lives as we please, but we can only do so if we grant to others the freedoms that we wish for ourselves."
In an essay, "Freedom: Promise or Fact," also written in 1943, Eleanor Roosevelt begins, "If I were a Negro today, I think I would have moments of great bitterness. It would be hard for me to sustain my faith in democracy and to build up a sense of goodwill toward men of other races."

She imagines herself a black man facing the injustices of an unequal and segregated society.
"In a comparatively short period of time the slaves have become free men – free men, that is, as far as a proclamation can make them so. There now remains much work to be done to see that freedom becomes a fact and not just a promise for my people.
Eleanor Roosevelt visits a Works Progress Administration Negro nursery school
 in Des Moines, Iowa, June 11, 1936. (Photos courtesy of FDR Library).

"I know, however that I am not the only group that has to make a similar fight. Even women of the white race still suffer inequalities and injustices, and many groups of white people in my country are slaves of economic conditions. All the world is suffering under a great war brought about because of the lag in our social development against the progress in our economic development."
The Aunt Lute anthology is a mind-opening compilation with works from hundreds of compelling women authors and poets.

For more writings from Eleanor Roosevelt, The George Washington University offers a comprehensive site dedicated to her work.

Within weeks of the end of World War II, on October 4, 1945, Roosevelt wrote: 
"Army and Navy nurses are still on duty in every branch of the service. As of June 30, 1945, 65,216 were still on duty with the services."

"These women know better than most of us what war exacts in blood and pain from all young men, and they will continue to be reminded of it. In veterans' hospitals and in civilian hospitals and homes, they are going to meet the aftermath of war as long as this generation lives. In that respect, therefore, they have a great contribution to make to peace. I hope their organizations will be strong and that they will act not only in the interests of nurses, but take their position as citizens of influence in the affairs of the whole nation."
On October 15, 1949 – four years after the war, two days after the Navy's 174th Birthday – and in the midst of the Revolt of the Admirals, she showed her support for sea and air power and encouraged joint cooperation:
"I was brought up by my husband to have a great affection for the Navy. As he had been much influenced in his early days by Alfred Thayer Mahan's books, he naturally thought that a strong Navy was essential to defense.

"There was a time when navies were not considered so important. Armies were more important. Later, the navy came into its own and now perhaps air forces have superseded both armies and navies. But no one will deny, I think, that the proper combination of all three is what really safeguards a nation.

"The decision as to the relative power and kind of power to be given to each one of the services must rest with our military chiefs. There must be a joint decision arrived at by the chiefs of the Army, Navy and Air Force. This is one place where personal jealousies, either for yourself or for your particular branch of the service, cannot be allowed to supersede the overall good of the nation."
Adm. Nimitz briefs FDR, Gen. MacArthur, and Adm. Leahy in Hawaii, July 28, 1944.
On February 23, 1960, on the eve of Fleet Admiral Nimitz's 75th birthday, Roosevelt wrote a glowing tribute to the military statesman.

Reading her essay on the former Pacific Fleet Commander, one can imagine Eleanor proposing Nimitz's visage on our money (an idea that would have been repellent to the proud but extremely humble admiral).

The folks at argue that the $20 bill is the perfect choice to honor women on our paper money. The number 20 has significance as the centennial of women's right to vote approaches in 2020. Also, with respect to Andrew Johnson, currently depicted on the $20 bill, the W2 site notes:
"Andrew Jackson was celebrated for his military prowess, for founding the Democratic party and for his simpatico with the common man. But as the seventh president of the United States, he also helped gain Congressional passage of the 'Indian Removal Act of 1830' that drove Native American tribes of the Southeastern United States off their resource-rich land and into Oklahoma to make room for white European settlers. Commonly known as the Trail of Tears, the mass relocation of Indians resulted in the deaths of thousands from exposure, disease and starvation during the westward migration."
The proposal to replace the face of President Andrew Johnson with that of a woman would be a sea change, since U.S. paper money has featured the same individuals – all white men – since 1929.

Pictured at right: Eleanor Roosevelt and Navy/WWII veteran (and future president) Senator John F. Kennedy in New York, New York, October 11, 1960. (Photos courtesy of FDR Library)

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Sunday, March 15, 2015

'Invisibles,' Led Zeppelin and Loving Your Job

Review by Bill Doughty

Led Zeppelin both opens and closes this remarkable book about "the power of anonymous work in an age of relentless self-promotion" (subtitle of "Invisibles," a 2014 book published by Portfolio/Penguin).
You'll want to crank up "When the Levee Breaks" when you read about the role of sound engineer Andy Johns, who is responsible for the sound of John Bonham's drums, Eric Clapton's and Van Halen's sounds, and the Rolling Stones' "Sticky Fingers."
Johns is one of several invisibles profiled – people who work behind the scenes and find satisfaction in what they they do and create, not in fame, fortune or recognition. 

Invisibles are new master craftsmen who value artisanal workmanship over the limelight. Think of some of the best staff non-commissioned officers, executive officers and assistants, boatswain's mates, and special operators. Their focus is on team success and quiet competence.

David Zweig, author of "Invisibles" quotes a former Navy SEAL who said he prefers the anonymity of the early 90s – prior to the explosion of the Internet – over the "seemingly incessant fascination with the SEAL Teams."

Zweig evaluates three traits of Invisibles: ambivalence toward recognition, meticulousness in their work, and a savoring of responsibility. He shows how "flow" – "the trance-like state mental that occurs when a person is completely immersed in an activity" – brings them joy, satisfaction and pride.

"If you have a pride and confidence in what you do, as Stumpf so clearly does, the rewards you reap come from within, which are, perhaps, the only true and lasting rewards. In this regard pride – and I'm not talking about the biblical connotation of pride as sin, but pride as respect for yourself, your work, your effort – is just an extension of the Invisible core treat of drawing fulfillment from the work itself, not outside acknowledgment of it."

Author David Zweig
Zweig's eclectic examples of Invisibles include a New Yorker magazine fact checker, airport wayfinder, U.N. interpreter, cinematographer, perfumer, architect, guitar technician and piano tuner. He makes references to Homer's "Iliad," Susan Cain's "Quiet," David Foster Wallace's "Infinite Jest," Alice Marwick's "Status Update," Adam Grant's "Give and Take," and Jean Twenge's "The Narcissistic Epidemic," as well as other texts and literature. And he takes the reader to Atlanta, New York, Shanghai and places in between.
Add caption
Taking a global perspective, Zweig compares the United States, where the focus is on the "vertical individualist," with much of the rest of the world, where the emphasis is on the overall collective, the entire team.
In the "so-called Confucian Belt" (which includes Korea, China, Vietnam and Japan and other nations in the region), self-promotion and attention-seeking are frowned upon and seen as immature, Zweig reports. The Japanese phrase en no shita no chikara mochi means, loosely, what's beneath the stage has great strength or power. Those behind the scenes make those on stage successful.
Zweig's insights would be useful to any student of innovation, and "Invisibles" would fit nicely on the book shelf of supporters of Secretary of the Navy Mabus's new Task Force Innovation. Zweig shows how countries that shy away from flashy individualism value soft power and quiet influence over aggressive bullying. 
His insights generate questions:

John Paul Jones met by President Obama after Kennedy Center Honors in 2012.
Is narcissism at the root of moral decay in society? Does extreme individualism fuel the wealth gap and crush the middle class? Could growing self-promotion and the need for more election money be damaging the political system and preventing consensus-building? What happens when the levee breaks?

Zweig has his own epiphany while writing this book, finding joy in the work and not in the accolades.

He wraps up with an unintentionally ironic mention of John Paul Jones – not the flashy, flamboyant and forlorn hero of the early American Navy, but the creative British bass player who, along with John Bonham, backed up Robert Plant and Jimmy Page.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

March Madness: Coach K's Philosophy & Found Haiku

Review by Bill Doughty

One foundation for Duke University men's basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski  (along with his family) is his education at West Point U.S. Military Academy, where he learned three disciplines: "respect for authority, personal responsibility and the discipline to be honest."

"Imagine if every person had such a great foundation and then the passion and heart to love what they do. They'd always love their lives," he writes in "Leading with the Heart," written in 2000 and published by Warner Books. "That's what I'd call success."

Fundamental qualities for success in leadership and performance include communication, trust, collective responsibilities, caring and pride, according to Coach K. "In leadership there are no words more important than trust. In any organization trust must be developed among every member of the team if success is going to be achieved."

Pride comes from ownership of the mission; understanding of the mission comes from communication, caring and demonstrating collective responsibility as a team.

Coach K writes about being overly rigid in his early days as a coach, but he learned how to keep his core principles while being flexible, adaptable and innovative, depending on the personalities and situations he faced as his teams evolved. Now, "I want no artificial walls erected that might limit potential, stifle creativity or shackle innovation." Good leaders must be able to think on their feet and react immediately when necessary. And good leaders give their teams freedom to excel.

"At Duke, nobody is a number. Rather, we try to plant seeds that help people grow. We try to give every individual the freedom to develop their full capabilities.

"If you put a plant in a jar, it will take the shape of the jar. but if you allow the plant to grow freely, twenty jars might not be able to hold it. The freedom to grow personally, the freedom to make mistakes and learn from them, the freedom to work hard, and the freedom to be yourself – these four freedoms should be guaranteed by every leader in every organization."

Touring the Pentagon after the 1992 season.
A pivotal moment in the book is his retelling of one of the most memorable plays in college sports history, the East Regional championship game against the University of Kentucky in March 1992. The Duke Blue Devils were down 103 to 102 with 2.1 seconds left in the game. Coach K called up a play for Grant Hill to pass the ball 75 feet down the length of the court to Christian Laettner at the top of the key on the other end.

It's what happened immediately before the play was called and immediately after it was executed that sets Coach Krzyzewski apart as a great coach, leader and human being. It must be read in its entirety to be fully appreciated, and it's too long to excerpt here.

Speaking with Soldiers at Fort Bragg.
In "Leading with the Heart," Krzyzewski offers practical advice for leading teams with exuberance and excitement, always living with integrity, demonstrating confidence, using plural pronouns such as "we" and "our" instead of "me" and "my," and building pride, unity and motivation through traditions. 

Returning several times to examples from his experience at West Point, Coach K writes:

"I find that people, generally, want to be on a team. They want to be part of something bigger than themselves. They want to be in a situation where they feel that they are doing something for the greater good."

Found Haiku in Coach K's Philosophy

This book is filled with Sun Tzu or Confucius-like sayings like, "Never let a person's weakness get in the way of his strength," "Sometimes a loss can be a win," and "The only way you lose is if you don't try your best."

Within some of his words of wisdom are "found haiku," poems or verses generally fitting the rule of three lines of 5-7-5 syllables.

Here are some found haiku in "Leading with Heart":

The deal is [in] the
handshake; the deal is that there
won't be any deals

You hear, you forget;
You see, you remember; You
do, you understand

Confidence can be
an extremely effective
weapon against fear

Confidence shared
is better than confidence
only in yourself

A key principle:
don't worry about losing;
think about winning

People have to be
given the freedom to show
the heart they possess

And at the heart of
character is honesty
and integrity

Help me do my best,
help me be myself, and help
me lead with my heart

"Leading with the Heart: Coach K's Successful Strategies for Basketball, Business and Life" by Mike Krzyzewski with Donald T. Phillips was written 15 years ago, so references to Duke basketball players and others are somewhat dated (no mention of Jahlil Okafor, for example, who was only four years old at the time), but references harken back to some great memories of NCAA seasons and games. Among the names Coach K recounts in hardwood stories: Bobby Hurley, Grant Hill, Danny Ferry, Chris Collins, Trajan Langdan, Steve "Wojo" Wojciechowski, Shane Battier, Christian Laettner, Tommy Amaker and Johnny Dawkins.

Coach K's book is on CNO Adm. Greenert's professional reading list. 

Duke Blue Devils (28-3) are ranked 3 by the AP as of March 8. Coach K's team was victorious yesterday over the University of North Carolina at Dean E. Smith Center, Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Down by two points at the half, they ended with a win at 84-77. They are expected to be a number-one seed in the upcoming NCAA tournament bracket.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Selma March II; 'Our Military at its Best'

by Bill Doughty
John Lewis in 1965

President Lyndon B. Johnson, a World War II Navy veteran and Navy reservist, called for Navy divers to help search for missing victims of the civil rights movement in the 1960s.

Fifty years ago, after activists were gassed and beaten on the Edmund Pettus Bridge on "Bloody Sunday," LBJ called in military resources to protect demonstrators.

The bridge was named for a Confederate general, Alabama Senator and KKK leader. It became a battlefield defended by Alabama state police against people who wanted equality and the right to vote. 
LBJ directed the military to protect the demonstrators who refused to give up their march for democratic ideals.

The second attempt to march across the bridge was a success and, according to Congressman John Lewis, a turning point in what he calls a revolution of values and ideas.

Two weeks earlier, Lewis was among those who were clubbed, gassed and trampled by horses. Recently, he told Bob Schieffer on Face the Nation that he thought he would die. But Lewis expressed his gratitude for the military's protection of the march from Selma to Montgomery. He also told Schieffer how extraordinary it was to hear FBI Director Comey voice his support for transparency and accountability of law enforcement.

LBJ's military was there "all along the way. People inspecting the bridges along the way. Guarding the camps at night. It was our military. It was our military at its best," Lewis said.

Demonstrators, white and black, marched peacefully for equality and against discrimination in the voting process, where African Americans were singled out for tests on literacy, knowledge or character in order to restrict their ability to register to vote.  They were forced to try to answer ridiculous questions like, "How many bubbles are in a bar of soap?" When they attempted to vote regardless, they were blocked or beaten.
In LBJ's speech before Congress on Voting Rights delivered March 15, 1965 he made several references to the military:
"At times, history and fate meet at a single time in a single place to shape a turning point in man's unending search for freedom. So it was at Lexington and Concord. So it was a century ago at Appomattox. So it was last week in Selma, Alabama. 
"... As we meet here in this peaceful historic chamber tonight, men from the South, some of whom were at Iwo Jima, men from the North who have carried Old Glory to the far corners of the world and who brought it back without a stain on it, men from the east and from the west are all fighting together without regard to religion or color or region in Vietnam."
Congressman Lewis, who led the original march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge 50 years ago, and who is marching with Commander in Chief President Barack Obama this week, recounts his experience for young people in a graphic novel series called "March."
Book 1 starts with Lewis as a boy growing up in rural Alabama and takes us through his meeting with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the death of Emmett Till, the activism of Rosa Parks, and interracial lunch counter demonstrations to achieve equality and integration.  Book 2 of "March" was recently published, and Book 3 is on its way.
In 2012, Lewis published "Across that Bridge: Life Lessons and a Vision for Change."

Douglas Brinkley, who wrote "Across that Bridge's" introduction, calls Lewis an "apostle of quiet strength." He says, "Every young person should read this homily of civility, a welcome antidote to the noisy chatter of self indulgence exemplified by the surge of me-me-me social media in our lives."

Lewis, himself, lives in the light of Dr. King. He writes with poetic flair:
"Lean toward the whisper of your own heart, discover the universal truth, and follow its dictates. Know the truth always leads to love and the perpetuation of peace. Its products are never bitterness and strife."
Navy veteran President Johnson shakes hands with Dr. King after signing Voting Rights Act.
Johnson seemed to listen to what Lincoln described as "the better angels of our nature" in LBJ's speech 50 years ago. He echoed the nonviolence themes of "we shall overcome," and he called for all Americans to live up to the ideals of the Constitution as he obviously considered his own place in history:
"We must preserve the right to free assembly ... We do have a right to protest. And a right to march under conditions that do not infringe the Constitutional rights of our neighbors. And I intend to protect all those rights as long as I am permitted to serve in this office.
"We will guard against violence, knowing it strikes from our hands the very weapons which we seek – progress, obedience to law, and belief in American values. In Selma, as elsewhere, we seek and pray for peace. We seek order, we seek unity, but we will not accept the peace of stifled rights or the order imposed by fear, or the unity that stifles protest – for peace cannot be purchased at the cost of liberty.
"I want to be the president who educated young children to the wonders of their world. I want to be the President who helped to feed the hungry and to prepare them to be taxpayers instead of tax eaters. I want to be the President who helped the poor to find their own way and who protected the right of every citizen to vote in every election. I want to be the President who helped to end hatred among his fellow men and who promoted love among the people of all races, all regions and all parties. I want to be the President who helped to end war among the brothers of this earth."
United States Congressman John Lewis was 23 years old, about the average age of a shipboard Sailor today, when he helped lead the march in Selma. 

The graphic novel "March" fittingly portrays him speaking to young people and explaining how he came to appreciate life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

His perspective on where we were, how far we've come and the role of the military in the defense of freedom is invaluable.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Innovation Reverberation How/Now

Review by Bill Doughty

Imagine what it's like to crawl inside the head of a dead sperm whale for days ... Look into how mirrors were the original selfies ... Feel how a ice cubes were harvested before  there was refrigeration ... Hear how sonar and ultrasound became a reality.

These and other insights are presented in Steven Johnson's "How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World."  It's helpful to know how far we've come as we chart where we are going.

That crawling around in a whale's head thing? Johnson describes whaling for spermaceti, a white oily substance that was used by early Americans, including Benjamin Franklin and George Washington even before 1776, in candles that produced a strong white light without offensive smoke.
"Extracting the spermaceti was almost as difficult as harpooning the whale itself. A hole would be carved in the side of the whale's head, and men would crawl into the cavity above the brain – spending days inside the rotting carcass, scraping spermaceti out of the brain of the beast. It's remarkable to think that only two hundred years ago, this was the reality of artificial light: if your great-great-great-grandfather wanted to read his book after dark, some poor soul had to crawl around in a whale's head for an afternoon."
Spermaceti whale of the Southern Ocean, 1833-1843, engraving by Sir William Jardine
Soberly, Johnson reports that about 300,000 whales, "majestic creatures," were slaughtered in roughly a century. "It is likely that the entire population would have been killed off had we not found a new source of oil for artificial light ..." That would be petroleum-based fossil fuels.

This book is built around six areas of innovation and invention: glass, cold, sound, clean, time and light.

The first chapter reminds us of the importance, versatility and strength of glass – in various lenses, including in powerful microscopes and in the biggest telescopes at Mauna Kea in Hawaii, and in fiberglass, fiber-optics, smart phones and computer monitors. Glass supports the entire Internet and networking. And, Johnson shows, glass is at the heart of art.

Author Steven Johnson takes a mirror "selfie."
"It's easy to make fun of our penchant for taking selfies, but in fact there is a long and storied tradition behind that form of self-expression. Some of the most revered works of art from the Renaissance and early modernism are self-portraits; from Dürer to Leonardo, to Rembrandt, all the way to van Gogh with his bandaged ear, painters have been obsessed with capturing detailed and varied images of themselves on the canvas. Rembrandt, for instance, painted around forty self-portraits over the course of his life. But the interesting thing about self-portraiture is that it effectively doesn't exist as an artistic convention in Europe before 1400. People painted landscapes and royalty and religious scenes and a thousand other subjects. But they didn't paint themselves. The explosion of interest in self-portraiture was the direct result of yet another technological breakthrough in our ability to manipulate glass."
Johnson goes into the history and even some "bizarre sacred rituals" surrounding mirrors. It makes for an interesting story on which to reflect.

Sawing ice for harvest
Johnson's combination of art, science and history shows how belief, commitment and perseverance can pay off in his story of Frederic Tudor of New England, who had the idea in the early 1800s – seemingly crazy at the time – of harvesting ice from lakes in New England in the winter and taking it by sailing ship down to the Caribbean and over to Asia.

Ice trade, as depicted by F. Ray, Harper's Weekly, 30 August 1884
Tudor's insight, Johnson shows, was an understanding of the science of energy in a changing world economy.
"Tudor's triumphant (if long-delayed) success selling ice around the world seems implausible to us today not just because it's hard to imagine blocks of ice surviving the passage from Boston to Bombay. There's an additional, almost philosophical curiosity to the ice business. Most of the trade in natural goods involves material that thrives in high-energy environments. Sugarcane, coffee, tea, cotton – all these staples of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century commerce were dependent on the blistering heat of tropical and subtropical climates; the fossil fuels that now circle the planet in tankers and pipelines are simply solar energy that was captured and stored by plants millions of years ago. You could make a fortune in 1800 by taking things that grew only in high-energy environments and shipping them off to low-energy climates. But the ice trade – arguably for the only time in the history of global commerce – reversed that pattern. What made ice valuable was precisely the low-energy state of a New England winter, and the peculiar capacity of ice to store that lack of energy for long periods of time. The cash crops of the tropics caused populations to swell in climates that could be unforgivingly hot, which in turn created a market for a product that allowed you to escape the heat. In the long history of human commerce, energy had always correlated with value: the more heat, the more solar energy, the more you could grow. But in a world that was tilting toward the productive heat of sugarcane and cotton plantations, cold could be an asset as well. That was Tudor's great insight."
Galileo looks into the Cosmos
Johnson references people and groups as diverse as Jack the Ripper, Joe Biden, Ella Fitzgerald, Aristotle, H. G. Wells, Henry David Thoreau, Martin Luther King Jr., Steve Jobs, Ike and Tina Turner, and Led Zeppelin.

Of course most of the focus is on innovators and inventors such as Galileo Galilei, Thomas Edison, Lee De Forest, Ellis Chesbrough, Reginald Fessenden, Jacob Riis, Lufkin Dennison, and Augusta Ada, Countess Lovelace.

Johnson tells the story of music ethnographer Iegor Reznikoff from the University of Paris, who discovered new sound revelations in the Arcy-sur-Cure caves, where you can hear seven distinct echoes of your voice if you utter a sound while standing under Paleolithic images. "Reznikoff's theory is that Neanderthal communities gathered beside the images they had painted, and they chanted or sang in some kind of shamanic ritual, using the reverberations of the cave to magically widen the sound of their voices."

Where Neanderthals once stood and created art – visual and aural?
Johnson says there's a hopeful lesson in the story of the science of sound and story of development of sonar and ultrasound, "which is how quickly our ingenuity is able to leap boundaries of conventional influence."
"Our ancestors first noticed the power of echo and reverberation to change the sonic properties of the human voice tens of thousands of years ago; for centuries we have used those properties to enhance the range and power of our vocal chords, from cathedrals to the Wall of Sound. But it's hard to imagine anyone studying the physics of sound two hundred years ago predicting that those echoes would be used to track undersea weapons or determine the sex of an unborn child. What began with the most moving and intuitive sound to the human ear – the sound of our voices in song, in laughter, sharing news or gossip – has been transformed into the tools of both war and peace, death and life. Like those distorted wails of the tube amp, it is not always a happy sound. Yet, again and again, it turns out to have unsuspected resonance."
This book, which is filled with great photos and art, is a companion to a PBS Special that aired in late 2014 and continues to reverberate. Author Walter Isaacson, author of "The Innovators," said, "Steven Johnson is the Darwin of technology. Through fascinating observations and insights, he enlightens us about the origin of ideas."

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Navy Musician, Jazz Great Clark Terry RIP

by Bill Doughty

Clark Terry, like John Coltrane, was one of the greatest and most well-known musicians to serve in a U.S. Navy Band.

Terry died yesterday and is remembered for his joy, passion and willingness to teach others.

In 1942, Clark Terry Joined the U.S. Navy after President Franklin Delano Roosevelt authorized recruitment of 5,000 musicians during World War II.

Terry was part of the Great Lakes Band.

"From 1942 to 1945, the Great Lakes Band became a stew pot for up and coming jazzmen," according to
Clark Terry and Quincy Jones.
After the war, Terry continued to play music with some of America's great jazz musicians and bandleaders, including Duke Ellington and Count Basie. Both Miles Davis and Quincy Jones said they were influenced by Terry.

According to Mark C. Gridley, author of "Jazz Styles: History and Analysis":
"One of the first Ellington sidemen to show the influence of modern jazz, Terry invented a unique style that bridged the gap between the swing era approaches and the new bop style of Dizzy Gillespie. He displayed seemingly effortless command over his horn, no matter how fast or intricate a figure he chose to improvise. He had a talkative, swinging style that is easy to recognize. It spontaneously unfolded catchy melodic lines and conveyed an enthusiasm that seemed to bubble through every note."
Gridley notes that Clark Terry helped popularize the flugelhorn, "a kind of oversized cornet." According to Gridley, "No other brass player sounds like Clark Terry."

Thirteen years ago, Feb. 28, 2002, Terry appeared, along with Gerald Wilson, during a Black History commemoration at Naval Station Great Lakes.

Judy Lazarus, a public affairs specialist at Great Lakes, reported: "Twenty-two of the original musicians, who served in the years between 1942 and 1945, and family members, attended the event presented in conjunction with Black History Month."

Rear Adm. Ann Rondeau, commander of Naval Service Training Command, who presented Navy ballcaps to the honored guests and said, "What a great way to celebrate our Navy and our nation. These are great artists who all began like us – as Sailors." Rondeau said. "Thanks for what you have done for our country." 

Clark Terry, who had not been back to Great Lakes since the 1940s, said, "It was fantastic being here (playing with the Navy Band). "It was great playing with this band."

Serving as a Navy musician was an opportunity, Terry noted. Because of the war FDR created more opportunities for African Americans in ratings other than just mess attendants. "Instead of coming in as cooks, we could come in as yeoman and other ratings. It was all open," Terry said.

"I had a chance to indulge in camaraderie with so many beautiful musicians who had mastered their craft. I was a 22 year-old and had a chance to hobnob with great guys. There was a lot of jamming going on, and it was an opportunity to learn a lot, to interpret the jazz language."

Felix Contreras of NPR reported today that, "He devoted the last part of his career to sharing his immense knowledge through jazz education in colleges and universities. Trumpeter Jimmy Owens says jazz has lost a direct link to its earliest history — and a 'natural-born educator.'"

Terry's website features an announcement by his wife, Gwen Terry, that says, in part: 
"Clark has known and played with so many amazing people in his life. He has found great joy in his friendships and his greatest passion was spending time with his students. We will miss him every minute of every day, but he will live on through the beautiful music and positivity that he gave to the world. Clark will live in our hearts forever. With all my love, Gwen Terry."  
Ms. Terry invites anyone whose life was touched by Clark Terry to share their story at the site's guest book or on Clark Terry's Facebook page. Click to hear some great Clark Terry music.

[Photo at top – Naval Station Great Lakes, Ill. (Feb. 28th, 2002) -- Legendary Jazz Trumpeter Mr. Clark Terry, plays alongside the Great Lakes Navy Band Jazz Ensemble during a special concert Great Lakes Experience. Terry played in the all-star Navy band at Great Lakes from 1941 to 1945, and was one of the first black Navy musicians.  Approximately 20 other former African American Navy musicians, including Great Lake alumni, and guest conductor Gerald Wilson, were recognized for their dedicated service during the concert. U.S. Navy photo by Photographers Mate 1st Class Michael Worner.]

Monday, February 16, 2015

'Pillar of Fire,' FBI Smoke – American Apartheid

Review by Bill Doughty
Shouts of "Allah-u Akbar!" and gunfire on a street in Los Angeles... Peaceful marches in the heart of the south... Violent extremism against white and black civil rights leaders... Police brutality, FBI surveillance and voting suppression...

Taylor Branch's "Pillar of Fire" opens with a fiery confrontation in South-Central LA in 1962 as Nation of Islam followers, police and civilians clash. Threaded throughout this book are themes of race, religion, war, abuse of power and assassination.
This second book in the trilogy about the history of the Civil Rights Movement continues Martin Luther King Jr.'s struggle and is interwoven with the life and death of Malcolm X. America was at a crossroads in the 1960s; the choice was between violence or nonviolence to bring about social change in the midst of fear of communism, growing conflict leading to war in Vietnam and misguided surveillance by the FBI. The surveillance was condemned by FBI Director James Comey in a very public and nuanced way last week.
Most of Branch's book centers on events in Mississippi, Florida, Georgia and Alabama, including Birmingham and Selma and in other key locations in the Deep South.
In the face of hate, beatings and murder, King, unlike Malcolm X, preached nonviolence:
"King urged his Savannah audience not to panic. 'We are on the move, and the burning of our churches will not deter us,' he cried. 'The bombing of our homes will not dissuade us. The beating and killing of our young people will not divert us ...' He preached a full rhythmic litany on marching that paused near ancient Jericho for a word of caution. There were 'no broad highways' or 'quick solutions' ahead, and 'it would be irresponsible' to say there were. 'Instead, the course we must follow lies through a maze of interrelated demands and counter demands, hopes and aspirations, fears and hatreds,' King said. 'But difficult and painful as it is, such a course must be charted.'"
Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad and then disciple Malcolm X.
Malcolm X ridiculed King and the peaceful course he charted, calling him a "traitor to the Negro people" and mocking King's peaceful demonstrations. Malcolm X celebrated the crash of an Air France jetliner in June 1962 that killed more than 100 prominent white citizens, referring to them as "white devils," a term used by Nation of Islam founder Elijah Muhammad, in what Branch calls his "concocted version of Islam."
Seeking to understand and overcome hate, King said the growing calls for violence fomented by Black Muslims "gives me greater responsibility to help get rid of conditions that created such misguided and bitter individuals." Bitterness, hate and violence would lead to the assassination of Malcolm X by Nation of Islam followers, ironically after Malcolm had turned away from some of his earlier vitriol against King.
Branch works chronologically through the history and personalities of the era concurrent with the Civil Rights Movement: Cuba and the Soviet missile crisis, JFK's assassination, LBJ's "hypersensitive and erratic" behavior, changing politics in the South, and the growing disparity of haves and have-nots as voting rights are curtailed. Speaking in Berlin, Germany, a city then still divided by communism, King said, "We see the giants. We see massive urban societies, dominated by well-entrenched political machines that see new voters as a threat to their power."
King at the FBI after meeting with J. Edgar Hoover in 1964.
Communism was viewed by some as the greatest threat to the United States. Fear of communism (and racism) fueled J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI in their persecution of King. Simultaneously, fear of communists drove international policy in the Cold War that included covert raids in Southeast Asia, coups in South Vietnam and surveillance off the coast of North Vietnam in the mid-60s.

Confrontation in the Gulf of Tonkin involving USS Maddox (DD-731), joined by USS C. Turner Joy (DD-951), led to "police action" overseas. National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy went to Vietnam and cabled LBJ that the country appeared to be "a civil war within a civil war."
Fifty years ago, at the same time that local actions by police in some southern states actively suppressed voting rights and freedom of assembly, "police action" in Vietnam, ostensibly in the name of freedom, continued to escalate.
A fake letter created by the FBI suggesting King commit suicide.
King, who opposed the Vietnam War, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. Heavyweight boxer Muhammad Ali, a follower of the Nation of Islam, was stripped of his title for his refusal to fight in Vietnam. Ali, originally closely tied with Malcolm X, eventually grew close to MLK. FBI wiretaps against Ali and King were revealed by newspaper columnist Carl Rowan.
On the first anniversary of JFK's assassination, the FBI attempted to kill King's character with a "recording of sex groans and party jokes, together with a contrived anonymous letter calling King 'a great liability for all of us Negroes.'" The fake letter by the FBI urged King to kill himself. Ben Bradlee, editor of Newsweek at the time, became locked in the middle of Hoover's FBI war against King and a burgeoning scandal when he refused to name his sources.
Branch writes, "Not until 1975, three years after Hoover himself was dead, did congressional investigations begin to uncover in retrospect the outlines of the FBI's covert crusade."
Last week, FBI Director James B. Comey spoke "hard truths" involving race and law enforcement. His remarks were delivered at Healy Hall, named after the university's 29th President, Patrick Francis Healy, who was born into slavery, in Georgia, in 1834.
Comey said:

"There is a reason that I require all new agents and analysts to study the FBI’s interaction with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and to visit his memorial in Washington as part of their training. And there is a reason I keep on my desk a copy of Attorney General Robert Kennedy’s approval of J. Edgar Hoover’s request to wiretap Dr. King. It is a single page. The entire application is five sentences long, it is without fact or substance, and is predicated on the naked assertion that there is 'communist influence in the racial situation.' The reason I do those things is to ensure that we remember our mistakes and that we learn from them.

"One reason we cannot forget our law enforcement legacy is that the people we serve and protect cannot forget it, either. So we must talk about our history. It is a hard truth that lives on," Comey said.
Watts riots in Los Angeles, 1965. (Photo from Library of Congress)
"America isn’t easy. America takes work. Today, February 12, is Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. He spoke at Gettysburg about a 'new birth of freedom' because we spent the first four score and seven years of our history with fellow Americans held as slaves—President Healy, his siblings, and his mother among them. We have spent the 150 years since Lincoln spoke making great progress, but along the way treating a whole lot of people of color poorly. And law enforcement was often part of that poor treatment. That’s our inheritance as law enforcement and it is not all in the distant past.
"We must account for that inheritance. And we—especially those of us who enjoy the privilege that comes with being the majority—must confront the biases that are inescapable parts of the human condition. We must speak the truth about our shortcomings as law enforcement, and fight to be better. But as a country, we must also speak the truth to ourselves. Law enforcement is not the root cause of problems in our hardest hit neighborhoods. Police officers—people of enormous courage and integrity, in the main—are in those neighborhoods, risking their lives, to protect folks from offenders who are the product of problems that will not be solved by body cameras.
J. Edgar Hoover (photo art from
"We simply must speak to each other honestly about all these hard truths.
"In the words of Dr. King, 'We must learn to live together as brothers or we will all perish together as fools.'
"We all have work to do—hard work, challenging work—and it will take time. We all need to talk and we all need to listen, not just about easy things, but about hard things, too. Relationships are hard. Relationships require work. So let’s begin that work. It is time to start seeing one another for who and what we really are. Peace, security, and understanding are worth the effort."
The full transcript of Comey's historic speech is available at
As for Taylor Branch's masterful presentation in "Pillar of Fire," this review can only scratch the surface.

The Navy is mentioned several times in Branch's book. President Johnson ordered Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara to deploy military helicopters and Navy Divers – "Navy Frogmen" – to assist in a search for three missing civil rights workers.
Some other revelations and insights within its pages:
  • One of the last books Medgar Evers read before he was assassinated was Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird."
  • Birmingham, Alabama became known as "Bombingham." Violence there was condemned by Russia and the Vatican, especially after four girls were killed in a church bombing by white supremacists.
  • Author and activist James Baldwin called Selma, Alabama "one of the worst places I ever saw."
  • Alex Haley, U.S. Coast Guard veteran and Malcolm X biographer, developed a bond with Malcom X over a "mutual love of Shakespeare."
  • Malcolm X disparaged baseball great Jackie Robinson for not being more strident; Robinson returned the favor, saying Malcolm X was only interested in revenge and retaliation.
  • Around the same time MLK was named for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, Malcolm X was studying Islam at the University of Saudi Arabia, tutored in Sunni Islam.
  • LBJ zealously read "The Rich Nations and the Poor Nations" by Barbara Ward, which inspired his slogan, "Great Society" focusing on poverty, education and environment.
  • Civil rights demonstrators were tortured: hung by handcuffed arms at Parchman Penitentiary; put in concrete sweatboxes, chicken coops and miniature cells in St. Augustine, Florida; and beaten with blackjacks, kicked and shocked with cattle prods by police and sheriffs.

In 2011 Navy Reads featured a review of the first book in Branch's trilogy, "Parting the Waters," entitled "Deeply Rooted in the American Dream."