Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Game...

H/T to Fallen Monk...

Rule: Go to page 56 in nearest book, post 5th sentence:

1)Later as president, Obama abolished the CIA's enhanced interrogation program -- even in its reduced form.

2) "Perhaps he had wanted Hari to understand the man's current plight, to put things in perspective, perhaps to pity him, at least feel something, and not reduce everything to equations and numbers, as Cleon felt was Hari's wont."

Friday, March 25, 2011

Japan: Personal Accounts...

From Keith Taylor...

This was given me by my good friend and dentist, John Yamamoto. Dr. Yamamoto spent the years of 1942 to 1944 in a detention camp in Colorado. He has several relatives in Japan. He and I often discuss three years of his youth in a detention camp. Dr. Yamamoto and I have been discussing the results of the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear disaster.

He forwarded this e-mail to me yesterday, March 25th. I don't know the author but understand he or she was in Tokyo and this reflects the condition there.

I sent him a note telling him: I felt your emotion this morning. Now I share it. Each culture has it's own rhythm. What those Japanese people were saying and doing would have sounded mawkish in today's United States, but the simplicity of all it resonated well with what I understand, and remember, of the Japanese culture. I will send it to a friend who runs a blog. Then I will link to it on Facebook. It will help all us understand how the people over there are coping with a disaster.

Personal accounts by number of people, on-the-street:

Last night when I was walking home (since all traffic had stopped), I saw an old lady at a bakery shop. It was totally past their closing time, but she was giving out free bread. Even at times like this, people were trying to find what they can do and it made my heart warm.

In the supermarket, where items of all the shelves fell, people were picking up things so neatly together, and then quietly stand in line to buy food. Instead of creating panic and buying as much as needed, they bought as little as they needed. I was proud to be a Japanese.

When I was walking home, for 4 hours, there was a lady holding a sign that said, “Please use our toilet.” They were opening their house for people to go to the restroom. It was hard not to tear up, when I saw the warmth of people.
At Disneyland, they were giving out candies. High school girls were taking so many so I was thinking, “What???” But then the next minute, they ran to the children in the evacuation place and handed it to them. That was a sweet gesture.

My co-worker wanted to help somehow, even if it was just to one person. So he wrote a sign: “If you’re okay with motor cycle, I will drive you to your house.” He stood in the cold with that sign. And then I saw him take one gentleman home, all the way to Tokorozawa! I was so moved. I felt like I wanted to help others too.

A high school boy was saved because he climbed up on top of the roof of a department store during the flood. The flood came so suddenly, that he just saw people below him, trying to frantically climb up the roof and being taken by the flood. To help others, he kept filming them so their loved ones could see. He still hasn’t been able to reach his own parents but he says, “Its nobody’s fault. There is no one to blame. We have to stay strong.”

There is a lack of gas now and many gasoline stations are either closed or haave very loooong lines. I got worried, since I was behind 15 cars. Finally, when it was my turn, the man smiled and said, “Because of this situation, we are only giving $30 worth gas per each person. Is that alright?” “Of course its alright. I’m just glad that we are all able to share,” I said. His smile gave me so much relief.

I saw a little boy thanking a public transit employee, saying, “Thank you so much for trying hard to run the train last night.” It brought tears to the employee’s eyes, and mine.

A foreign friend told me that she was shocked to see a looong queue form so neatly behind one public phone. Everyone waited so patiently to use the phone even though everyone must have been so eager to call their families.
The traffic was horrible!! Only one car can move forward at green light. But everyone was driving so calmly. During the 10 hour drive (which would only take 30 minutes normally) the only horns I heard was a horn of thank you. It was a fearful time — but then again a time of warmth and it made me love Japan more.

When I was waiting at the platform, so tired and exhausted, a homeless person came to us and gave us a cardboard to sit on. Even though we usually ignore them in our daily life, they were ready to serve us.

Suntory (a juice company) is giving out free drinks, phone companies are creating more wi-fi spots, 1,000,000 noodles were given by a food company, and everyone is trying to help the best way they can. We, too, have to stand up and do our best.

Whenever there is a black out, people are working hard to fix it. Whenever the water stops, there are people working to fix that too. And when there is problem with nuclear energy, there are people trying to fix that too. It doesn’t just fix itself. While we are waiting to regain the heat in the cool temperature or have running water, there were people risking their life to fix it for us.

An old woman said, on a train: “Blackouts are no problem for me. I am used to saving electricity for this country, and turning off lights. At least, this time we don’t have bombs flying over our heads. I’m willing to happy to shut off my electricity!” Everyone around couldn’t say a word in response.

In one area, when the electricity returned, people rejoiced. And then someone yelled: “We got electricity because someone else probably conserved theirs! Thank you so much to EVERYONE who saved electricity for us. Thank you everyone!”

An old man at the evacuation shelter said, “What’s going to happen now?” And then a young high school boy sitting next to him said, “Don’t worry! When we grow up, we will promise to fix it back!” While saying this, he was rubbing the old man’s back. And when I was listening to that conversation, I felt hope. There is a bright future, on the other side of this crisis.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

CIA's Interrogation Program Review....

From Secrecy News:


It is nearly a decade since the Central Intelligence Agency embarked on its controversial post-9/11 program of prisoner detention and interrogation, which included "enhanced" procedures that would later be repudiated and that were widely regarded as torture. But even now, an accurate and complete account of that episode remains unavailable.

It is more than two years since the Senate Intelligence Committee belatedly began "a study of the CIA's detention and interrogation program." The Committee reported (pdf) this month that "the CIA has made available to the Committee over 4 million pages of CIA records relating to its detention and interrogation program."

Yet the Committee said that its two year old review of the nearly decade-old program is still not complete: "The review has continued toward the goal of presenting to the Committee, in the [current] 112th Congress, the results of the review of the extensive documentary record that has been provided to the Committee." There was no mention of presenting the results of the review to the public. See "Report of the Select Committee on Intelligence Covering the Period January 3, 2009 to January 4, 2001," Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, March 17, 2011.

The Intelligence Committee report presented a number of other noteworthy statements:

A review of electro-optical intelligence satellite collection systems by members of the Committee's Technical Advisory Group in 2010 "found flawed processes and results from the earliest stage of the requirements process... [and] judged the technical justification for the proposed system fell far short of the standard they expected from an investment of this magnitude."

The Committee staff "found that too many [defense] attaches are not sufficiently conversant in the languages, cultures, and traditions of the countries to which they are assigned."

Intelligence agencies continue to fail to produce financial records that can be independently audited. The National Reconnaissance Office "is the only one of the IC agencies required to produce auditable financial statements that has achieved what appears to be a sustainable opinion with no qualifications from its independent auditors.... The CIA has submitted its financial reports to an independent auditor but has received a disclaimer of opinion due to the inability of the auditor to gather certain relevant facts. The NSA, DIA, and NGA are still not even prepared to submit their financial reports to independent audit," the Senate report said.

Secrecy News Blog:


Sunday, March 06, 2011

On Sex and Honor....



Keith Taylor

Folks in Utah are proud to tell us Utah's founder, Brigham Young, had fifty-five wives. They don't brag too much that many of that fifty-five were children, or that history tells us that Brigham was complicit in the killing of 124 men women and children at Mountain Meadows in 1857. Few Mormons like to review history which doesn't reflect favorably on the founder of Salt Lake City.

The largest university in Utah is named for Brigham. Its 30,000 students must sign an honor code which stipulates that, like him, they must be honest, live a chaste and virtuous life, use clean language and abstain from alcohol, tobacco, tea, coffee and drugs. Other prohibitions including cussing and beards have been added and/or deleted from time to time, but premarital chastity has always been on the list.

Despite the prohibition, sex reared its head at BYU and that head had to roll. One of the best players on the high flying Cougar basketball team violated the code by having premarital sex with a co-ed. Brandon Davies was kicked off the team, an act which jeopardized the team's shot at a national championship, and a first place seed in the forthcoming NCAA tournament.

Premarital sex is a common occurrence among students in forty-nine of our states, but not at the university named after a man who routinely married and impregnated teenage girls. Brigham Young University takes a strong stand against lots of things which they choose to believe, and teach, God doesn't allow.

Honor, at least the perception of it, is a big deal with Mormons, and improperly sanctified sex is against their honor code. But all isn't lost for horny young women and men. They can do it a lot if it is sanctified by a proper authority -- one who also teaches that a woman talked to a snake, and native Americans are Israelis who immigrated here from Israel 2800 years ago.

But the thinking at this university with 30 thousand students is that it is decreed that a biological urge followed by two consenting people in the prime of their lives was evil? At BYU, they have more respect for superstitions than they do for science, and the sex act is biological after all.

So far as I can tell science, especially biology and anthropology, aren't strong subjects at BYU? I once talked to a BYU grad and former missionary who told me that a science professor showed a dinosaur fossil to his class. When he told them it was billions of years old, a student asked how that could be when the religion professor told them the earth was no more than 10 thousand years old, he was told "don't ask."

Don't ask! How is a student to learn?

At BYU that seems to be the idea.


//Keith Taylor is a retired navy guy who lives in Chula Vista. He can be reached at