Saturday, December 31, 2016


Prometheus stealing fire from Mount Olympus and giving it to humans.

 Zeus' Eternal Punishment of Prometheus
An Eagle Feeding Daily on His Liver
{Eventually Hercules Slays the Eagle, Freeing Prometheus} 

A few of you will recognize his face; many of you will not.  Similarly, some of you will recognize his name while many will not - J. Robert Oppenheimer.  You can hear an interview here.

Given the picayune, punitive and paravanimitous nature of the panjandrum that is Trump and his minions, I think that it is important that everyone, particularly scientists, have an understanding of the story of Oppenheimer.  One of the best ways to do this is to read American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J Robert Oppenheimer, or, since it is a lengthy tome, at least read some of the reviews, one linked above the picture and others at Amazon, such as this:

"In American Prometheus, Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin delve deep into J. Robert Oppenheimer's life and deliver a thorough and devastatingly sad biography of the man whose very name has come to represent the culmination of 20th century physics and the irrevocable soiling of science by governments eager to exploit its products. Rich in historical detail and personal narratives, the book paints a picture of Oppenheimer as both a controlling force and victim of the mechanisms of power. 

By the time the story reaches Oppenheimer's fateful Manhattan Project work, readers have been swept along much as the project's young physicists were by fate and enormous pressure. The authors allow the scientists to speak for themselves about their reactions to the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, avoiding any sort of preacherly tone while revealing the utter, horrible ambiguity of the situation. For instance, Oppenheimer wrote in a letter to a friend, "The thing had to be done," then, "Circumstances are heavy with misgiving." 

Many biographies of Oppenheimer end here, with the seeds of his later pacifism sown and the dangers of mixing science with politics clearly outlined. But Bird and Sherwin devote the second half of this hefty book to what happened to Oppenheimer after the bomb. For a short time, he was lionized as the ultimate patriot by a victorious nation, but things soured as the Cold War crept forward and anti-communist witchhunts focused paranoia and anti-Semitism onto Oppenheimer, destroying his career and disillusioning him about his life's work. Devastated by the atom bomb's legacy of fear, he became a vocal and passionate opponent of the Strangelovian madness that gripped the world because of the weapons he helped develop.

The coming administration includes folks who believe among other things, that global warming is a hoax, that creationism is equally as valid as evolution, that science is biased, that public education should be dismantled, and that billionaires know best.  Such moral, ethical and intellectual vacuity coupled with militaristic jingoism and not-so-veiled threats that dissidents should 'watch what they say', should give pause to us all.  Sadly, it won't.  Nevertheless, we should be ready to speak out against a return to the days of Joe McCarthy, when the government could destroy via innuendo and accusation.  If they can do it to Oppenheimer, who I believe was more patriotic than any of the Make America Great Again crowd, they can do it to anyone.  So, my challenge to you is to read American Prometheus, and ponder if we are going to see a repeat of the Tragedy portion of Oppy's story. The Tragedy portion is summarized very well by a quote from Erwin Chargaff:

 "That in our day such pygmies throw such giant shadows only shows how late in the day it has become."

It is not surprising that a man of such great intellect would have Stravinsky's Requiem Canticles as his funeral music.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016


The Goshen (IN) News recently published a nice glossy magazine - 50 IN 50 - CELEBRATING 50 OUTSTANDING ATHLETES.  A panel of sports writers compiled the list of 50 of the top athletic performers of the last 50 years in Elkhart County.  Naturally, they had a hard time deciding who was on the list and who was not, but I do not think that they had too much to discuss when it came to including my New Paris High School classmate, teammate, and long time friend, Phil Weybright.

A Young Phil in High School Days 

I cannot find a copy of the 50 In 50 magazine on line, so I reproduce below what panelist Stu Swartz wrote about Phil:

A basketball legend at the New Paris Cubs and Argos Dragons - Phil Weybright dedicated his coaching career to creating memorable experiences for his players.

Weybright graduated from New Paris High School in 1964 [enrollment 237] and coached basketball for 14 years at Argos [enrollment 247].

Weybright started 69 consecutive games for the New Paris Cubs and finished as the school's career scoring leader with 831 points.

The Cubs, coached by Jim Hettler, were 60-9 in those three seasons with two Elkhart County small-school tournament championships.

After graduating from Manchester College, Weybright became a teacher and coach at Argos in Marshall County.

He had a 227-94 record in 13 seasons, capped by a 132-17 mark over a six-year stretch from 1976-82.

The Dragons enjoyed a state-record 76-game regular season winning streak, won four consecutive sectional titles and capped it off with a single-class Final Four appearance in 1979.

Key Argos players that winter were Bill O'Dell, Doug Jennings, Mark Malone, Dave Calhoun, Don O'Dell, Mike Scheetz and Rich Tuttle.

The long Argos winning streak ended December 17,1981 with a loss to John Glenn High School.
Weybright told Bob Williams, author of Hoosier Hysteria, "I did not mind losing to Glenn.  Their coach, Jim Waller, is a friend of mine and showed a lot of class."

"It's hard to believe that all this could happen at such a small school.  I'll never forget that experience and I'm sure our players feel the same way."

Weybright often credited playing for Hettler at New Paris as laying the foundation for his career.
He had single-game scoring highs of 20 points as a sophomore against Wakarusa, 18 against Middlebury as a junior and 28 against Concord as a senior.

His Cubs teammates during those three seasons included Everett Maurer, Don Metzler, Chuck Stille, Rich Hoffman, Fred Schrock, Tom Hoffman, Wayne Snider, Lonnie Clem, Keith Hummel, Bob Lundy and Steve Hoffman.  

Weybright is an inductee of the Elkhart County Sports Hall of Fame and the gymnasium at Argos High School is named in his honor.

Phil During His Coaching Years at Argos [back, right]

Kudos Phil!

I should add that the 50 IN 50 magazine was mailed to me by my aunt Anna Belle Emmert.  My late uncle Red was a mainstay at the scorer's table at the New Paris High School basketball games.  Red, Paul T, also signed many of our draft cards since he was a member of the county's draft board.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016


Seventy five years ago, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor lead to Roosevelt's speech the following day which included the historical quote "A date which will live in infamy."  Story, video and transcript here.

However, what I want to focus on today is Camp Amache.

The camp, also known as the Granada War Relocation Center, was located a few miles to the southwest of the small community of Granada in the southeastern plains of Colorado on US 50 between Lamar and Holly.  The links above provide ample information about the camp, but I want to highlight two recent articles in the Denver Post related to the camp.
Granada Students

You can read the first article, by Kevin Simpson, here.  It tells the story of one teacher, John Hopper, who has worked with his students for 20 years to keep the memories of the camp alive.  “I think it’s important that the younger generation understands what happened,” Hopper says of what’s now regarded as a dark period of American history, “so it doesn’t happen again.”  What started as an exercise in living history has expanded into preservation and restoration of the site, collection of artifacts from the camp, and recording personal stories of the Japanese-Americans who were held there.  After reading this story, we have put this internment camp on our to-do list.
 Governor Carr

The second article, by Jesse Paul, can be read here.  It is the story of Colorado Governor Ralph Carr who both accepted the directive of President Roosevelt to relocate Japanese Americans to internment camps as well as demanding and insuring that the camp residents would be treated with respect and dignity.  Carr was pretty much a lone voice at the time - “If you harm them,” the Republican said in 1942, “you must first harm me” - and it likely cost him what was considered to be a very promising political career.

Personal note - December 7th, 1941, was a Sunday, and my parents along with their 6-month old daughter were having noon-time dinner with relatives in Pigeon, Michigan, when the news of the attack came on the radio.  My mother vividly remembers the dark feeling that she had, thinking that she might soon be left alone without a husband and father for Kay.  As it turned out, dad got an agricultural deferment for the durance of the war as did many in the farming community.