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."

Friday, February 13, 2015

From Street Gang to WWII Veteran

by Bill Doughty

In "Counting My Blessings: The Autobiography of a Native Hawaiian Pearl Harbor Survivor," "Uncle Herb" Weatherwax tells his story of humble beginnings – from homeless street gang to life in the military during World War II, then success as a business owner.

As to his humble beginnings as a child raised on the outskirts of Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii:
"There was no stove in our house. Instead, we had a couple of rocks placed outside with metal bars across them. We would build a fire underneath and place the food across the bars. We didn't have running water, either. In those days, one of the staple foods was salted salmon from Alaska, which was shipped in large barrels. We used the barrels to collect water ... Our outhouse was built over underground lava tubes. All you had to do was locate one of those tubes, knock a hole in it, and put the outhouse over it! There would be spider webs in there and it wasn't too pleasant."
Hilo, Hawaii in 1928.
Weatherwax picked up the nickname "Spider" when he subsequently ran the streets with the Hotel Street Gang and later the Bethel Street Gang as a young man who became addicted to alcohol and spent "numerous nights in jail."

His first steady job was with President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Civilian Conservation Corps, building roads around Mauna Kea, home today of the world's largest astronomical observatory.

He also worked for Hawaiian Electric as an apprentice electrician for 30 cents an hour. It was a trade that would help him in the Army and later as a veteran.

Weatherwax was drafted into the Army in June 1941 and was stationed at Schofield Barracks in Wahiawa. He was on a weekend pass in Honolulu on December 7, 1941 and heard the thunderous attack in Pearl Harbor. He was recalled to his duty station during the attack and ordered to prepare an invasion of the islands.
"As the bus was passing above Pearl Harbor I saw the whole thing. The attack was still going on and there was confusion everywhere. The USS Arizona was enveloped in flames; the USS Oklahoma was on its side. Those who managed to escape from being trapped inside those ships were up on the hull, but the ocean was on fire from the spilled oil and fuel. Those men couldn't even go into the water. There was smoke all over and a lot of commotion."
The invasion never came, but war was declared the next day. President Roosevelt called it an "unprovoked and dastardly attack" and "a day of infamy."
U.S. Army troops move through the "dragon's teeth" of the Siegfried Line.

"Counting My Blessings" tracks Weatherwax's journey during the war from the Pacific to the Atlantic, landing in Europe and facing Germany's Siegfried Line where "the sound of strafing was like 1,000 stampeding horses." He said his 272nd Regiment advanced into Germany and freed dying prisoners in labor camps. A highlight was meeting up with then-Allied forces from Russia who, instead of the Americans, marched into Berlin.

In August 1945 Weatherwax was preparing to redeploy to the Pacific Theater when word came that Japan had surrendered. In the years that followed he reflected on the death and destruction he witnessed, he said, and "the lasting effects of combat experience."

After the war, the Army veteran worked at Kwajalein and Subic Bay in the Philippines in harbor dredging and runway construction jobs before starting businesses back in Hawaii and running unsuccessfully for political office. His association with Alcoholics Anonymous helped him, he said.

As a member of the 69th Infantry Division veterans, Herb along with his wife, Lehua, traveled back to Europe to see former battlefields in 1995. "The highlight of the whole trip was meeting up again with the Russian veterans at the Elbe River on the 50th anniversary of the original meeting."

("Uncle Herb" and Lehua played cupid with a Russian immigrant in Hawaii, which is a nice aside in the book.)

Weatherwax lost his brother Eddie at a relatively early age to the scourge of Hansen's Disease, leprosy. The experience had a profound effect on Herb and his outlook on life.
"Towards the end, when I visited him in Kalaupapa, he was hospitalized and had his own room. They had operated on him to remove his eyeballs ... When I visited him, we'd talk and despite his unfortunate circumstances he had a good sense of humor and philosophy. I gained a lot from him by observing what he had to go through. It made me appreciate what I had. Despite his affliction, he never seemed despondent or depressed. He gave me the impression that he was living each day as best he could. I began to count my blessings. I knew that It could just as easily have been me. Why he got it and not me, no one will ever know. Realizing that fact gave me the fortitude to carry on and realize how fortunate I was in comparison to other people. I realized that I should be more grateful for what I had."
"Uncle Herb" has been a familiar, perpetually smiling presence at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center," where he has volunteered and where his autobiography, published by Pacific Historic Parks, is available for purchase.

"It is up to Survivors to perpetuate the history until we are gone," he said. "I am always learning from others and thought that someone might pick up one or two little things from what I have gone through."

Special thanks to retired Master Chief Jim Taylor, Pearl Harbor Survivor Liaison, who made me aware of Uncle Herb's book!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Coach K on Dean Smith: 'Integrity, Honor, Purpose'

Duke University issued a statement from Coach Mike Krzysewski today on the death of Coach Dean Smith, former coach of the University of North Carolina and one of the greatest coaches of all time:
“I am incredibly saddened to hear of the passing of Coach Dean Smith. We have lost a man who cannot be replaced. He was one of a kind and the sport of basketball lost one of its true pillars. Dean possessed one of the greatest basketball minds, and was a magnificent teacher and tactician. While building an elite program at North Carolina, he was clearly ahead of his time in dealing with social issues. However, his greatest gift was his unique ability to teach what it takes to become a good man. That was easy for him to do because he was a great man himself. All of his players benefited greatly from his basketball teachings, but even more from his ability to help mold men of integrity, honor and purpose. Those teachings, specifically, will live forever in those he touched. We offer our deepest sympathies – and gratitude for sharing his incredible life with us for so long – to Linnea, his children and the entire North Carolina family.”
In his "Leading with the Heart," Coach K mentions what it was like coming up as a young coach in the shadow of Smith. Krzyzewski writes about his friendship with the late Coach Jim Valvano of North Carolina State and shares an anecdote about how he and Valvano played a gentle prank on Coach Dean Smith at a stodgy Atlantic Coast Conference. 

("Leading with the Heart" is on the CNO's Professional Reading list.)

All three coaches shared a common trait for success: being "very passionate about what we did," in Coach K's words.

Smith (1931-2015) is remembered for his national championships, his leadership strategies and his stand for civil rights as early as the 1940s. 

Navy Reads featured a commentary about Coach Smith and Coach Red Auerbach last year in "March Madness – Coach Reads."

Saturday, February 7, 2015

'Redeployment' on Obama's Shelf

by Bill Doughty

The Commander In Chief appeared on Fareed Zakaria's GPS show last Sunday and revealed that while on vacation he read "Redeployment" by Phil Klay, a book of stories inspired by Klay's personal experience as a formerly forward deployed Marine.

Klay's short stories about individuals serving in diverse roles in Iraq and Afghanistan offers an opportunity "to step into very different heads," as Klay describes it in an interview for the National Book Foundation. "What was the war like for a mortuary affairs specialist? For a chaplain? For an artilleryman, who never sees the bodies of the enemy he has killed?"

Obama called Klay's work, "a quick but powerful and, for me, painful set of stories about the experience of ordinary soldiers in Iraq." He called it a reminder that "the antiseptic plans and decisions and strategies and the opining of pundits that take place in Washington, you know, is very different from war and conflict as it’s experienced by people on the ground."

A somewhat similar message is conveyed in Clint Eastwood's blockbuster "American Sniper."

In the interview by Rebecca Rubenstein about his book, Klay said, "I think this is a general problem for all wars—the gap between public mythology and lived experience," noting that's particularly true with an all-volunteer military often far-removed from civilians' everyday experience.

"Only a small percentage of the population serves, and so those mythologies, whether about idealized heroes, or passively-suffering and possibly dangerous victims who probably signed up because they had no other options, don't get checked by reality as often." Klay said the challenge is to confront the mythology and try to have an honest conversation about the experience of war.

President Barack Obama on CNN with Fareed Zakaria GPS in New Delhi.
On CNN, Zakaria asked President Obama a number of foreign policy questions including about China, Iran, Israel, Saudi Arabia and India. He also asked about calls from some quarters for direct military action in Ukraine and against the self-proclaimed Islamic State (also referred to as ISIS and ISIL). The interview is recommended for anyone interested in the possibility of further deployments or redeployments.

Calling the violent extremists of ISIL a "death cult," Obama said he is "mindful of the terrible costs of terrorism around the world," adding, "What I do insist on is that we maintain a proper perspective and that we do not provide a victory to these terrorist networks by over-inflating their importance and suggesting in some fashion that they are an existential threat to the United States or the world order."

A key point related to reading, education and free access to the Internet came in a question about authoritarian rule. President Obama said:

"What I continue to believe is that an authoritarian model, in this day and age, is going to be less and less sustainable. And I think we've seen evidence of that around the world. Part of it is just the flow of information. Authoritarian to some degree depends on the ignorance of people, and the Internet and social media means people have access to information."

President Obama visits troops in Bagram, Afghanistan in May 2014. Photo by Pete Souza.
The discussion about what's on President Obama's reading list lately came at the end of the interview, and in that context, after mentioning Klay's "Redeployment," he said:

"And part of the reason that I am deliberate about decision-making when it comes to foreign policy, and part of the reason that I do think it’s important to aim before you shoot, is because I’ve met enough young men in Walter Reed and talked to enough families who have lost loved ones to remember that there are costs to the decisions that we make. Sometimes we have to make them, but they’re real and they’re serious, and you know, we don’t – we can’t play political games and we can’t engage in bluster or reaction or, you know, try to beat our chests when we make these decisions. If we’re going to deploy folks to war, it better be for a darn good reason, and we better have a very clear objective that is worthy of the sacrifices that these folks make."

Holiday shopping for books in 2014. Photo by Pete Souza.
Fareed Zakaria's interview with President Obama is posted at CNN Press Room.

Last November Bloomberg reported on book purchases by the President and his daughters. The list included: “Heart of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad, "Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End" by Atul Gawande, “The Narrow Road to the Deep North” by Richard Flanagan, “The Laughing Monsters” by Denis Johnson, “All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr, "Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth and Faith in the New China" by Evan Osnos and “Nora Webster” by Colm Toibin.

Phil Klay cited influential authors in a discussion about favorite books and works of fiction and poetry: Billy Lynn, Shusaku Endo, Homer, Tolstoy, Poe, Hemingway, Crane, Dahl, Silverstein, Bernanos, Nathan Englander and Edward P. Jones.
Phil Klay, former U.S. Marine public affairs officer, 2014 National Book Award winner for "Redeployment."

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Haiku of Marshawn Lynch, Philosophers

Compiled by Bill Doughty

You can find haiku in the spoken and written words of people, from Marshawn Lynch and Bill Belichick to Lao Tzu and Aristotle. Here are some recent "found haiku" – poetry that says a lot in a few words: Three lines, generally 5-7-5 syllables.
These haiku were found in actual quotes from Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots along with some thoughts expressed by great thinkers/philosophers.
Marshawn Lynch:
"If you're forced to do
something, it's not as good as
if you choose to do it"

"Man is a social
animal; either [he is]
a beast or a god"

Bill Belichick:
"As you go forward
... love life, be happy ...
chase your dreams, have fun"

Lao Tzu:
"If you do not change
direction, you may end up
where you are heading"

Russell Wilson:
"I have faith ... I love
trying to visualize
being successful"

Dwight D. Eisenhower:
"In preparing for
battle I have always found
that plans are useless
(but planning is indispensable)"

Psalmist King David (from MLK):
"He that would love life
and see good days, let him keep
his tongue from evil"

Bill Belichick:
"The greatest leaders
I've coached just ... do their job with
a good attitude"

George Orwell:
"A man who gives a
good account of himself is
probably lying"

Rob Gronkowski:
"Being out there with 
your teammates, you win as a 
team, lose as a team"

Richard Dawkins:
"DNA neither
cares nor knows; [it] just is ... we
dance to its music"

Marshawn Lynch:
"Thank you for asking ...
I'm just 'bout that action, boss ...
You know why I'm here"

Martin Luther King Jr. (from Amos)
"Let justice roll down
like waters, and righteousness
like a mighty stream"

Bill Parcells:
"Don't worry about
it; it's just a bunch of guys
with an odd-shaped ball"

I'm posting this on the eve of the 49th Superbowl. It's only the second Navy Reads post this month. (Been doing a lot of reading.)

Coming up soon: a review of the CNO-selected "Leading with the Heart: Coach K's Successful Strategies for Basketball, Business, and Life," another focus on a Pearl Harbor Survivor Navy Veteran, and a review of Taylor Branch's "Pillar of Fire."

For more "found haiku," click and check out these discoveries from the words of Abraham Lincoln.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Innovators: Free Your Mind & The Rest Will Follow

Review by Bill Doughty

2015! Time to take a deep breath and consider the most important inventions affecting our lives: the computer and the Internet. Time to think of their creators: "pioneers, hackers, inventors, entrepreneurs," as Walter Isaacson calls them in his recent book "The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution."

Milestones revealed from a 2015 perspective (not meant to be all-inclusive):

  • 80 years ago, 1935 – Tommy Flowers pioneers use of vacuum tubes as on-off switches in circuits; two years later Alan Turing publishes "On Computable Numbers," and Howard Aiken proposes construction of a large digital computer. (Aiken, born in Hoboken, New Jersey, would later become a commander in the Naval Reserve.)
  • 70 years ago, 1945 – Six women programmers of ENIAC are sent to Aberdeen for training.The previous year Lt. Grace Hopper graduates first in her class from the Naval Reserve Midshipmen's School of Smith College in Massachusetts; in 1952 she develops the first computer compiler. The first microchip would be developed by the end of the 50s.
  • 50 years ago, 1965 – Ted Nelson publishes the first article about "hypertext" and Moore's Law predicts microchips will double in power every year or so.
  • 40 years ago, 1975 – Paul Allen and Bill Gates write BASIC for Altair and form Microsoft, while Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak launch the Apple I.
    Steve Jobs unveils the Mac.
  • 35 years ago, 1980 – IBM commissions Microsoft to develop an operating system for the PC; four years later in 1984 Apple introduces the Macintosh.
  • Over the past 20 years – Larry Page and Sergey Brin launch Google (1998), Ev Williams launches Blogger (1999), Jimmy Wales with Larry Sanger launches Wikipedia (2001), and the world welcomes Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. 

Isaacson presents the history of digital innovation and, critically, analyzes how success was achieved through teamwork of creative collaborators. "The tale of their teamwork is important because we don't often focus on how central that skill is to innovation."

"The Innovators" starts with a timeline of milestones, includes short biographies of key characters and walks us through the development of the computer, programming, the microchip, video games, the Internet, the personal computer, software, and online ultimate connectivity.

Questions he attempts to answer:
"What ingredients produced their creative leaps? What skills proved most useful? How did they lead and collaborate? Why did some succeed and others fail? ... I also explore the social and cultural forces that provide the atmosphere for innovation. For the birth of the digital age, this included a research ecosystem that was nurtured by government spending and managed by a  military-industrial-academic collaboration. Intersecting with that was a loose alliance of community organizers, communal-minded hippies, do-it-yourself hobbyists, and homebrew hackers, most of whom were suspicious of centralized authority."
Lady Ada conceived of the computer.
Just over 170 years ago Ada, Countess of Lovelace (poet Lord Byron's daughter), collaborated with mathematician and philosopher Charles Babbage and published "Notes" to describe the concept for an Analytic Engine – a machine matched with the ability to process numbers and any information that could be expressed in symbols to produce calculations and solve problems. "In other words, she envisioned the modern computer." She is admired today as an early champion of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

Women continued to contribute to the development of the digital age, particularly in the area of programming and language – from ENIAC at the University of Pennsylvania to Mach I at Harvard near the end of World War II, where Grace Hopper came into her own. Hopper developed the world's first working compiler, Isaacson notes, which translated mathematical code into machine language accessible to human users.

President Reagan meets then Capt. Grace Hopper in 1983.
She was the ultimate free-thinking team player.
"Like a salty crew member, Hopper valued an all-hands-on-deck style of collaboration, and she helped develop the open-source method of innovation by sending out her initial versions of the compiler to her friends and acquaintances in the programming world and asking them to make improvements. She used the same open development process when she served as the technical lead in coordinating the creation of COBOL, the first cross-platform standardized business language for computers. Her instinct that programming should be machine-independent was a reflection of her preference for collegiality; even machines, she felt, should work well together. It also showed her early understanding of a defining fact of the computer age: that hardware would become commoditized and that programming would be where the true value resided. Until Bill Gates came along, it was an insight that eluded most of the men."
Hopper eventually became a commodore (rear admiral). Her namesake, USS Hopper (DDG 70), is homeported at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. 

Among Isaacson's other conclusions:

  • The importance of not just peer collaboration but also intergenerational collaboration.
  • Aristotle was right that humans are social animals.
  • Collaboration leads to a forged partnership or symbiosis between people and machines.
  • The Digital Revolution wrested control of information from central authority only and put it in the hands of individuals at the speed of light. (Free your mind and the rest will follow.)  It's no wonder totalitarian states and ideologies want to control the Web.
  • It's important to pair visionaries who come up with the strategic ideas with operating managers who can execute them tactically.
  • Foresight: "The best innovators were those who understood the trajectory of technological change and took the baton from innovators who preceded them."
  • Success came about through a balance in government, market, and peer sharing, where no leg of the stool is  too long.
  • "Finally, I was struck by how the truest creativity of the digital age came from those who were able to connect the arts and sciences." Think Leonardo da Vinci and Vitruvian Man, pictured below.

Isaacson, who authored "Steve Jobs," "Einstein: His LIfe and Universe," "Benjamin Franklin: An American Life," and "Kissinger: A Biography," as well as other works, employs his usual detailed research, carefully selected anecdotes and remarkable insights to create this book.

Most of the profiles feature the men who achieved key milestones in the digital age. But it's noteworthy that "The Innovators" begins and ends with a focus on women, including those who conceived the very idea of the computer.

His final chapter, "Ada Forever," discusses whether machines can ever fully replicate human intelligence. In other words, as Kurzweil and others ask, will we reach the singularity predicted in 2030? Or whether, instead of replacing humans, machines will become their constant companions. For much of the world, perhaps that's already happening.

(I'm posting this during the Rose Bowl ... Check out the link between Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota and "Unbroken's" Louis Zamperini in a recent Navy Reads post.)

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Climate Change as Serial Killer

by Bill Doughty

Climate change has been a killer for millennia, according to Eugene Linden, author of "The Winds of Change" (Simon & Shuster, 2006).

"Earthrise" in 1968. Photo courtesy of NASA.
His examination of the history of climate-as-assassin – and key questions in the debate – shows what may be in store with a warming earth, melting ice and the effect on in the invisible "ocean conveyor" on what Bill McKibben described in "Eaarth": "a blue-and-white marble floating."

Seen clearly from space for the first time in the early days of space exploration, earth is revealed as an ecosystem of sea, land and sky – "vast ocean, air currents and weather systems" – a home world alone in the vastness of space. Balanced. Interconnected.

Over time earth has experienced the extremes of heat, cold, floods and droughts. But thanks to a rare synergy of offsets – the position of large land masses, contours of the ocean floor, the reflective power of ice and snow, and tilting of earth's spin axis, among others – the period over the past 10,000 years has been relatively calm for our planet.

In other words, "This is about as good as it gets," according to Linden.

But the serial killer waits to strike again. Climate change has killed entire species, disrupted humanity and changed cultures.

Akkadian victory stele of Ram-Sin
"It's not climate, but climate change that throws civilizations into a tailspin," Linden writes.

Africa and Mesoamerica experienced drought that collapsed cultures including the Mayans. Ancient civilizations thought they had displeased the gods. The Anasazi disappeared. The Akkadian civilization disintegrated as warming climate dried the lands and hot winds blew away topsoil.

Linden cites the works of Barbara Tuchman ("A Distant Mirror"), Jared Diamond ("Guns, Germs and Steel") and, interestingly, Adam Smith ("The Wealth of Nations") as well as David Keys, author of "Catastrophe: An Investigation Into the Origins of the Modern World."
"Keys does not shy away from big ideas. In 'Catastrophe' he argues that by unleashing the plague from the south and causing barbarians to move westward from Asia, the climate upheavals of 536 played a key role in the end of the Roman Empire, the rise of Islam, and other events that marked the end of ancient times and set the stage for the emergence of the modern world. It's a sweeping claim, so bold that it almost begs contradiction, even from those willing to posit the consequential role of climate in human affairs. When a civilization is in decline, after all, the agent of its end might be entirely different from the cause of its decline. When pneumonia kills an aged patient in failing health, is pneumonia the killer, or merely the final nudge? As Keys exhaustively documents, by the sixth century, the Roman Empire was senescent, with little sense of purpose, kept together principally by the fear of the gathering barbarians at the gates who were constantly probing for opportunities and signs of weakness."
Bruegel's Triumph of Death
Climate warming unleashes invasive species and diseases – bark beetles, rats, hantavirus, mosquitoes, fleas and ticks. The result is millions of deaths, including from plagues. The Black Death started in China, came down the Silk Road to Crimea, and then in 1346 moved westward to Europe.

Climate change may be a killer, but it also opens the way for ecological opportunity. Just as Kaplan does in "Monsoon," Linden sees synergy in climate, weather and geography: "Climate does not control geography, of course, but climate can override the advantage that geography might otherwise confer."

Preparing a gravity core for deployment.
(Photo by Mary Carman, Woods Hole)
Researchers, including Navy veteran Lloyd Keigwin of Woods Hole's McLean Laboratory, are studying the effects of and on the ocean as a result of abrupt climate change. Are oceans stable? How will currents and civilization change in a warmer climate? What can we learn by studying paleoclimate in the Holocene, including the "Little Ice Age"?

Ice, caves, lake sediment, tree rings and dirt blown over ice are witnesses to the serial killing, the silent witnesses or proxies that help scientists examine the past.

A clear and present danger comes periodically in the form of El Niño, "the killer next door."

"In the rogue's gallery of climate killers, El Niño may be a mere foot soldier, but because we are repeatedly reminded of its depredations, it looms large in the minds of those who study the impact of climate on history," Linden writes.

El Niños in India and China over the past century and a half killed substantially more than the 60 million people who perished during World War II, according to Linden and his source, Cesar Caviedes ("El Niño in History: Storming Through the Ages"). Is it possible that a warmer world will invite more severe storms?

Earth's system for achieving balance on the blue-and-white marble (with an El Niño pictured in red) is interconnected and not completely understood, but Linden shows in research, timeline and graphs how science is searching for answers to questions in his final chapter, "Going Forward":
"Where are we headed? Is climate changing? If so, are we causing these changes? What changes lie in the future? Are we better prepared to deal with climate change? Can we do anything to halt climate change or ameliorate its effects?"
Navy leaders recognize that climate change can accelerate instability and conflict, degrade the environment and cause food and water scarcity, disruption and migration – requiring significant humanitarian assistance.

In 2009 the Secretary of the Navy outlined goals for reducing use of fossil fuels and embracing new sustainable, renewable and nonpolluting forms of energy. Also in 2009 the Chief of Naval Operations created Task Force Climate Change (TFCC) to address the naval implications of a changing Arctic and global environment. 

The Navy participates with the U.S. Coast Guard and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the National Ice Center, whose mission is to "provide the highest quality, timely, accurate, and relevant snow and ice products and services to meet the strategic, operations, and tactical requirements of the United States interests across the global area of responsibility."

Last month the U.S. and China, the world's biggest polluters, signed a climate agreement to significantly reduce emissions over the next decade and beyond. A United Nations climate summit in Lima, Peru shows hope for the world in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and making significant progress in next December's global climate treaty meeting in Paris, France. 

Is cooperation in fighting a serial killer among the New Year's resolutions through 2015 and 2016?

140318-N-RB579-607 ICE CAMP NAUTILUS (March 18, 2014) Chief Machinist's Mate (Nuclear) Aaron Cook braves the cold while supervising a work party at Ice Camp Nautilus, located on a sheet of ice adrift on the Arctic Ocean, during Ice Exercise (ICEX) 2014. ICEX 2014 is a U.S. Navy exercise highlighting submarine capabilities in an arctic environment. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin by Dr. Amy Sun/Released)

Sunday, December 21, 2014

U.S. Navy Frees Cuba

Review by Bill Doughty

The United States Navy helped the people of Cuba achieve independence from "corrupt, repressive Spanish colonial reign," writes Ivan Musicant in "Empire By Default" (Holt, 1998), a comprehensive reference about a decade of "profound turbulence."

The 1890s included a major economic depression, the annexation of Hawaii, and war with Spain over Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines.

Also during the turbulent decade that led to what the author calls the dawn of the American century:
"The powers, East and West, were carving up the prostrate body of defenseless imperial China. Great Britain, Germany, Russia, France and Japan had scooped out large chunks for naval bases, railroads, mining concessions, and trading zones, eyeing one another with the deadly suspicion of thieves splitting the loot."
Africa was still being partitioned by imperial powers, an "avaricious Japan" was already setting its sights on East and South East Asia, and tensions were high with Germany over Samoa. And in 1895 some Americans were nearly ready to go to war again with Britain over its "arrogance" in the Americas, including over Venezuela's boundaries.

Meantime, Germany, Japan and Assistant Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt were inspired by the strategic concepts of Capt. Alfred Thayer Mahan, author of "Influence of Sea Power Upon History, 1660, 1783." A stronger more powerful Navy was the advantage in the Spanish-American War.

Author Musicant opens and closes the 658+ page "Empire By Default" with references to the great naval thinker. It's another indication of how great Mahan's influence is to the development of the modern Navy and American century.

"Empire" includes copious notes, an extensive bibliography, supporting photos, and a helpful index. Historical profiles are provided on Jose Marti, Antonio Maceo, General Campo, General Weyler, Secretary of the Navy Long, Commodore  Dewey, Capt. Sigsbee, Senator Proctor, Capt. Sampson, Brig. Gen. Shafter, and Commodore Schley, among others.

Musicant shows how a mysterious explosion aboard USS Maine ignited war, how Col. Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders took San Juan Hill, and why readiness is so important to success in warfare. "In training, discipline, education, seamanship, and engineering, the Spanish navy was woefully behind its American enemy."

The Spanish-American War demonstrated the capabilities of expeditionary forces, reminding the nation of the significance of the Marines, the need for interservice interoperability, and the importance of accurate assessment of capabilities.
"The war for Cuba – and the Philippines and Puerto Rico as well – would depend, in chief, not on the strength and number of soldiers in the field, but on who controlled the sea, and here Spain had not the slightest chance of success. Falling into a fatal mode of military fantasy, in 1895 Spain adopted a new rating system for its navy that was wholly unrealistic and went far to dupe the nation and even foreign naval observers, who should have known better, into classifying the Spanish navy into a much higher material category of strength and readiness than it deserved."
The defeat of Rear Adm. Cervera in Cuba was a turning point not only for the United States Navy but also for the world against imperialism and monarchy. The Spanish Empire was coming to an end just as the United States "forged a new empire" based on altruism and independence, according to Musicant.

The Spanish American War guaranteed the building of a canal in Central America so the Navy could move from ocean to ocean.

And, with the annexation of Hawaii, the nation became "a commanding presence in the Far East ... as a naval base projecting power to the Orient."

"The battle had wrested for the U.S. Navy total control of the sea," Musicant writes. "America, as Alfred Thayer Mahan had predicted, now looked outward."