Iva Toguri, RIP (Not “Tokyo Rose”)

September 30, 2006

Ima Toguri Aquino (NOT Tokyo Rose) (National Archives photo)

Iva Toguri D’Aquino died this week at age 90. She’s seen here in a file photo being escorted out of federal court after her conviction for treason in 1949. She was later pardoned. AP, via NPR National Archives photo (2-24-2007 blog update)

Scott Simon at NPR’s “Weekend Edition” had a remembrance of a woman from his old neighborhood in Chicago who died this week. It’s an audio report (transcripts are available for a fee from NPR).

As a Japanese American student stuck in Tokyo on December 11, 1941, Toguri was tossed out by her cousins. In order to live, she took a job with Japanese radio, and ultimately was one of a dozen women who read material between songs broadcast to American soldiers, known collectively as “Tokyo Rose.” Toguri refused to renounce her U.S. citizenship, ever. Assigned to work with Allied POWs in Tokyo, she read propaganda notices she said later were so silly that no GI could have believed them, written by an Australian POW for humor.

But at the end of the war, trying to get back to the U.S., Toguri was the only one of the woman broadcasters known. She was detained as a suspect Tokyo Rose for a year, then released — there was no evidence against her. Read the rest of this entry »


Easy to be wrong

September 30, 2006

Difficulties of getting flag etiquette right are demonstrated by this photo, which right now graces the website of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia:

It’s a photo of two people looking over a field. It’s a photo by Jonathan Hyman, copyright 2003. If I had to guess, I’d guess it is the field in Pennsylvania where United Flight 93 crashed on September 11, 2001. In this cropped version, you can see that the man is wearing a jacket with the U.S. flag emblazoned on the back. In other versions (which I could not get to copy), you can see the woman is wearing an identical flag on the back of her coat.

The Constitution Center’s use of this photo implies that they find it intrigueing, if not an outright display of patriotic citizenship worthy to commemorate those who died on the attacks on the United States. The photograph promotes a display of the work of Jonathan Hyman:

To commemorate the fifth anniversary of 9/11, the National Constitution Center presents an exhibition of original photographs by Jonathan Hyman, documenting how the American people responded to and remember the events of September 11th.

Few events in American history have elicited the outpouring of public displays of emotion provoked by the September 11th attacks. Over the past five years, photographer Jonathan Hyman has traveled the country photographing the roadside displays, murals, and personal memorials created by Americans in response to September 11th. Hyman’s photographs of this new American folk-art pay tribute to those who died and movingly depict a country coming to grips with a national tragedy.

The selection of 100 photographs featured in the exhibit inspires conversations about community, national identity, and how ordinary Americans have commemorated the day. From images of urban murals, flag-painted houses, memorials, and signs to tattoos and decorated cars and trucks, the photographs show America’s sorrow, patriotism, anger, and in some cases, calls for revenge, peace and hope, or justice.

Sponsors of the exhibit include a major network television outlet, and police and fire fighter groups who wish to honor sacrifices by Americans:

9/11: A Nation Remembers is proudly supported by the City of Philadelphia Police and Fire Departments.

CBS 3 is the official media partner for the 9/11: A Nation Remembers exhibition.

Wearing flags on the backs of the jackets is a violation of the U.S. flag code. Were we to amend the Constitution to make flag desecration a crime, this physical desecration could (in a fit of stupidity) lead to the arrest of these two patriots, and probably to the arrest of the webmaster and photographer.

We don’t need an amendment to protect this flag from physical desecration.  Citizens have already hallowed it far above our poor ability to add or detract.  What we need is a law that authorizes the popular display of the flag, as people actually display it.  We could use a law that would protect citizens in their display of the flag — a law rather like the one we have, called the First Amendment.


Tipping point against . . . what? Obituary for America

September 30, 2006

Update:  You probably ought to read Coturnix’s views at Blog Around the Clock, “We are now officially living in a dictatorship.”  God willing, he is not correct.
My first observation: Fox reporter Chris Wallace asked a question proposed by a listener in e-mail — probably hoping to embarrass Bill Clinton. Clinton took the question knew exactly what it was intended to do, and delivered a Philippic* on how Clinton worked to get Osama bin Laden before September 2001, that rather stunned people used to Democrats rolling over and letting half-truths win. It was front page in the Dallas Morning News (the Associated Press story, with a photo), and the talk of the internet.

Second observation: Clinton’s interview prompted this, a letter from a mother who lost her daughter on September 11, 2001. It turns out not all of the survivors of the victims of the initial attack think the current administration handled things well, either before or after the attack, and it appears there may be a minor flood of complaints from this quarter.

Third observation: Historians familiar with the Alien and Sedition Acts and their effects on America (prompting the ouster of John Adams from office, making him the first one-term president) couldn’t help but wonder when Congress last week approved bills to authorize activities in capturing and detaining prisoners from the campaign against terrorism. These activities previously ruled been ruled unAmerican by the Supreme Court — or unconstitutional, at least.

Are we at a tipping point now? Has public opinion made a turn that will be a topic for future history tests, on the war against terror and the Bush administration? (Malcolm Gladwell, what do you say?)

This morning’s e-mail brought this, an obituary for America, by Larry Butts:

An Obituary by Larry Butts

America (1776 – 2006)

America, often referred to by her nickname “Land of the Free,” was killed today in Washington, DC, by a drunk driver. The driver has been identified only as Commander in Chief. She had been ill recently. Read the rest of this entry »


Carnival of Education #86

September 30, 2006

Just go read it.  (It’s at Education Wonks.) It’ll make you mad, keep you busy, fill you with information, enough for a week at least.

I missed Banned Books Week this year?  Drat.

Bush political appointees pushing a political agenda against good education?  Not surprised, but concerned there is not more visible outrage anywhere.

Hmmm.  Must brew big pot of coffee today.  (In any case, I’m off for a service project by some Boy Scouts; at least I’ll be smiling when I get back to this stuff.)


Query: Capt. Bucher’s confession?

September 28, 2006

I’m looking for a good copy of the full text of the “confession” of Capt. Lloyd Bucher of the U.S.S. Pueblo, the spy ship captured by North Korea in 1968.  I have a couple of versions that are alleged to be excerpts — I am particularly interested in what I recall that I have not found:  Navigation instructions that would have put the ship off the coast of Alaska, and a reference to the definition of rape in the Uniforme code of Military Justice (UCMJ).

If you know of a source, especially on-line, please let me know.


More on lack of integrity in creationism

September 28, 2006

Still buried in work, I have a couple of items that really should get note.

First up is a new eruption of creationist propaganda, attempting to cast recent research findings as some sort of challenge to evolution theory. Dr. P. Z. Myers at Pharyngula has the essential comments so far.

That was quick! Now, can I find time to talk about Texas textbooks, too?

Update, September 29, 2006:  Carl Zimmer notes that the research the creationists complain about, rather than demonstrating a problem with evolution theory, demonstrate the ways in which evolution theory guides researchers.  Zimmer’s posts at The Loom frequently dazzle — he’s an understated, extremely accurate writer whom you may recognize from his articles in the New York Times’ weekly science section (on Tuesdays).


Literally: Can’t shut up to learn history

September 27, 2006

There should be a Congressional Medal of Honor, or something similar, for junior high school and middle school teachers. Particularly the boys can be among the most irritating creatures on Earth, above mosquitoes in a tent on a hot night, above a cat who wants you awake at 4:30 a.m. Such teachers, afflicted by kids who appear absolutely unable to be quiet long enough to allow two sentences together into their heads, face audiences more daunting than any faced by non-funny comedians, or by school boards proposing an increase in taxes.

Maturing teenage brains

Now we have the MRI images to demonstrate that it’s true, and why. Jake Young at Pure Pedantry has a post on the research (just published in Nature), with good links to the videos of the maturing teenage brain.

One theory is that teenagers are actually from a separate barbarian race. However, I suspect that there is also an underlying neurological reason for this barbaric behavior that has to do with the different rates of brain maturation in the human cortex.

The neurological changes that happen in the human brain over adolescence are described in a great article by Kendall Powell in Nature.

Alas, no sure-fire lesson plans, nor even hints of teacher survival strategies accompany the research findings.

Santayana was right: Some of these kids will be condemned to repeat history, either Texas history, or U.S. history to 1877.


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