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Prof. Boerner's Explorations

Thoughts and Essays that explore the world of Technology, Computers, Photography, History and Family.

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Archive for March, 2011
Edited by Gerald Boerner

 

Commentary:

JerryPhotoUntil the 1850s, Japan’s economy was closed to European and American products. The Japanese set up a buffer from western influences by a partnership with Portuguese and Catholic Church elements. One just needs to go back to the mini-series “Shogun” the came out years ago.

The forced entry into Tokyo Bay with a demand for a meeting with the ruling powers was asking for major opening of the Japanese markets to U.S. trade. Commodore Matthew Perry and his modern weaponry was too much for the Japonese and they signed the Convention of Kanagawa in1854.

Kanrinmaru

So, off we go on another exploratory excursion…  GLB

These Introductory Comments are copyrighted:
Copyright©2011 — Gerald Boerner — All Rights Reserved

[ 3405 Words ]
    

   

Quotations Related to JAPAN:

    

“And also, I think Japan places great value on the lyrics.”
— Utada Hikaru

“By means of steam one can go from California to Japan in eighteen days.”
— Townsend Harris

“Clearly, Japan is a most important market for digital consumer products.”
— David Milne

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Edited by Gerald Boerner

 

Commentary:

JerryPhotoThe name “Alaska” evokes images of vast waste-scapes of tundra covered with snow and populated with great herds of caribou. One can almost see the sub-zero temperatures outside. Scattered towns, centers of “civilization”, could be found, especially along the coast of the Gulf of Alaska. It is a territory that is not so much a state of the union, but a natural paradise peopled by the native groups of inhabitants.

In the past half century we have seen the Great Alaska Earthquake, the discovery of massive oil reserves on the north slope, and the Prince Henry Sound oil leak from the Exxon Valdez. The building of the Trans-Alaskan Pipeline brought a population surge similar to that seen during the Yukon Gold Rush of earlier times.

Mount_McKinley_Alaska

But above all of the pivotal events of Alaska history I think of the natural wonders of the vastness that is Alaska. One cannot watch the three or four episodes of Art Wolfe’s “Travel to the Edge” TV show without being in awe of the beauty of this natural world of environmental extremes and animal diversity. And then there is the Grandure of Mount McKinley and Denali National Park. It lifts my spirit to a higher plane. Long may it remain that way.

But when it was purchased from the Russian Empire by William Seward, Secretary of State to two Presidents: Lincoln and Johnson. When it was finally ratified by the Senate it was called “Seward’s Folly” because of the apparent desolation of the land. Today, Seward would seem to be vindicated as we have come to appreciate the wisdom of this decision.

But let’s get on to today’s exploration…  GLB

These Introductory Comments are copyrighted:
Copyright©2011 — Gerald Boerner — All Rights Reserved

[ 3366 Words ]
    

   

Quotations Related to ALASKA:

    

“Alaska has great potential for new oil and gas development.”
— Frank Murkowski

“I missed that question on Alaska. I hear they want to make it a state now.”
— Anson Williams

“The original settlers of Alaska apparently were Russian.”
— Jeff Goldblum

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Edited by Gerald Boerner

 

Commentary:

JerryPhotoThe one big case of Americans spying for the Soviet Union to come out of Joseph McCarthy’s Senate hearings was that of the Rosenbergs. Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were found guilty (1951) and executed (1953) for passing secrets of the Atomic bomb designed and built by the Manhattan Project during World War II. Ethel’s brother worked on the Manhattan Project in New Mexico and is believed to have passed the info about “Fat Man” atomic bomb. This information was then passed on to Julius’ KGB handler.

The Rosenbergs were executed at Sing Sing Prison. Since their death, information has become available to shed more light on the issues. But the facts tend to indicate that the jury’s decision was well-based. The excesses of the Senate committee chaired by McCarthy and the HUAC committee in the house were real and a result of the anti-communist scare of the 1940s and 1950s.

Sing_Sing

Americans tend to exhibit a “Passionate State of Mind”, ala Eric Hoff. This leads us to extremist views, such as those associated with the “Tea Party” or “Moral Majority”. We need to keep a perspective on extremism at either end of the spectrum.

But, we must proceed to our exploration of today’s topic…  GLB

These Introductory Comments are copyrighted:
Copyright©2011 — Gerald Boerner — All Rights Reserved

[ 3463 Words ]
    

   

Quotations Related to JULIUS ROSENBERG:

    

“My opinion was that if we had a common enemy we should get together commonly.”
— Julius Rosenberg

“There was a possibility I could have been under surveillance.”
— Julius Rosenberg

“This death sentence is not surprising. It had to be.”
— Julius Rosenberg

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Edited by Gerald Boerner

 

Commentary:

JerryPhotoAnother disaster! While Japan has faced the combined effects of an earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear core meltdowns during a single event, the U.S. has been more fortunate. As we learned yesterday, the 1964 Alaska earthquake and tsunami occurred separately from the 1979 nuclear emergency at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania. None the less, the magnitude of these disasters were about the same; the results were quite different.

While our Alaska quake and tsunami resulted in only 131 deaths and the Three Mile Island emergency did not result in any deaths. The Sendai disaster in Japan is expected to be around 18,000 deaths. Several factors were different, especially the population densities of the two sites. In addition, the earthquake damaged the automatic control systems as well as the power outages that accompanied the disaster. We were lucky!

Three_Mile_Island_nuclear_power_plant

Given the increasing pressure to convert to alternate sources from carbon-based fuels, nuclear power plants are a attractive alternative. Countries like Germany who have invested heavily in nuclear power are currently evaluating their facilities and procedures to determine if their plants would survive emergencies such as those being reviewed here. I think this is a step in the right direction.

So, let’s get on to today’s exploration…  GLB

These Introductory Comments are copyrighted:
Copyright©2011 — Gerald Boerner — All Rights Reserved

[ 4132 Words ]
    

   

Quotations Related to NUCLEAR:

    

“All the waste in a year from a nuclear power plant can be stored under a desk.”
— Ronald Reagan

“A world without nuclear weapons would be less stable and more dangerous for all of us.”
— Margaret Thatcher

“But the nuclear powers still cling tenaciously to their weapons.”
— Joseph Rotblat

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Edited by Gerald Boerner

 

Commentary:

JerryPhotoNatural Disasters! The phrase that evokes fear in all of us. We have just gone through the experience of the deadly earthquake and tsunami in northern Japan. The expected loss of life is expected to be 18,000 or more. And that doesn’t factor in those who will become sick and die from the radiation leaks from the damaged nuclear power stations. On the whole, this is the largest disaster in decades.

But let us not forget the earthquake that hit the Anchorage area of Alaska in 1964. This quake was about the same magnitude as that in Japan. It also hit in a subduction zone, a necessary condition for generating a massive tsunami. After the winter ice, the Port of Valdez was once again open to tanker traffic. The first tanker was tied to the pier on this day, but after the quake, the water of the port receded, sucking the ship into its votex, with all personnel aboard. Then the 30 foot tsunami wave hit with such force that the buildings came down, the debris was then sucked out to sea.

2004-tsunami

The death toll of the Alaska quake was low. Due to the sparsely-settled coastal areas, only 131 lives were lost. But property damage was extensive. We have just seen what a similar quake and tsunami would do in a more populated area. And in Japan we saw the disaster hit in real-time. This was a natural disaster that will remain embedded in our minds for many years to come.

So, let’s start our exploration of the Alaskan Earthquake and its mechanics…  GLB

These Introductory Comments are copyrighted:
Copyright©2011 — Gerald Boerner — All Rights Reserved

[ 3889 Words ]
    

   

Quotations Related to EARTHQUAKE:

    

“I used to sleep nude – until the earthquake.”
— Alyssa Milano

“In an earthquake, I shouldn’t run out of the house – I should run into it.”
— Tony Danza

“Stupidity is an elemental force for which no earthquake is a match.”
— Karl Kraus

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Edited by Gerald Boerner

 

Commentary:

JerryPhotoPhotography came on the scene in 1839. For  years the dominate type of image available was the Daguerreotype which recorded the image on a metal plate; duplicates were not possible. In the 1850s, glass negative came onto the scene and multiple images could now be produced from a single negative. But with both of these techniques, large, bulky, “view” cameras were required. These were the tools of the professional photographer, not the amateur “snapshot” hobbyist.

But in the 1880s, George Eastman developed a flexible film that could be used by both professionals as sheets and by amateurs as rolls of film. In 1888, Eastman made available a box camera preloaded with film that only requires the hobbyist to push a button to take a picture. After winding it to the next position, another picture could be taken. When all images were completed on a roll of film, the user sends the entire camera to Kodak.

GWBridgeUSSNautilus_agr

When Kodak receives the spent film, it is removed from the camera and processed. The camera is reloaded with fresh film and returned to the user with the negatives and prints from the last shoot. The hobbyist now can be a photographer! Breakthrough like this immediately put technology in people’s hands by removing unnecessary obstacles to their use. We have seen this repeated with digital cameras in recent years.

So, let’s get our exploration started…  GLB

These Introductory Comments are copyrighted:
Copyright©2011 — Gerald Boerner — All Rights Reserved

[ 4076 Words ]
    

   

Quotations Related to EASTMAN KODAK:

    

“You push the button, we do the rest.”
— George Eastman

“I have to stay in soaps to pay my bills to Kodak.”
— Michael Zaslow

“What we do during our working hours determines what we have; what we do in our leisure hours determines what we are.”
— George Eastman

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Edited by Gerald Boerner

 

Commentary:

JerryPhotoBattles of the American Civil War never seem to end. Of course we have heard of the Battle of Gettysburg, Bull Run, and Antietam. There were many other battles, some major and some minor, that took place during the various campaigns. The Confederacy had the advantage of General Robert E, Lee as head of the Army of Northern Virginia; Lee had been offered the position of head f the Union Forces, the Army of the Potomac by Lincoln, but this offer was rejected.

Unfortunately for the Confederates, that was one of the few things going for thr secessionist states. The faced a naval blockade the prevented the export of their tobacco and cotton and the importation of supplies. The lack industry and standardization in the south put the armies of the south at additional disadvantages. When they tried to break the siege of Petersburg and Fort Stedman, The were in their final attempt to keep up their fight. Concurrently Sherman was inflicting his terror campaign on the Carolinas. The South needed a victory.

FortStedmanThen

But it would not come at Fort Stedman. The North held their lines and this was the beginning of the end of the Appomattox Campaign. The Army of Northern Virginia would soon surrender to Grant to end this bloody conflict. Too many would die in the brutal methods of fighting practiced at that time.

But it is time to proceed with our exploration of this final battle of the Civil War…  GLB

These Introductory Comments are copyrighted:
Copyright©2011 — Gerald Boerner — All Rights Reserved

[ 4263 Words ]
    

   

Quotations Related to CONFEDERATE:

    

“Note to secessionist Texans: now is the time to wave the Confederate Flag.”
— Melissa Harris-Lacewell

“This is said to us, even as this counterfeit president has legalized the Confederate Flag in Mississippi.”
— Amiri Baraka

“The flag that was the symbol of slavery on the high seas for a long time was not the Confederate battle flag, it was sadly the Stars and Stripes.”
— Alan Keyes

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Edited by Gerald Boerner

 

Commentary:

JerryPhotoPublic health has been a priority in this country for at least the past century. We established hospitals, put quarantines into effect when outbreaks of communicable diseases hit our cities. We have extended the mass vaccination of at least school children throughout the land. We have reduced the rates of occurrences of many diseases to near zero with same, like smallpox all but wiped out. Our programs have worked!

But that was not always so. Prior to 1900, the mechanisms of disease spread were not well understood. A town’s water system could be contaminated and facilitate the spread of the diphtheria or cholera. By regulating the placement of outhouses relative to the town’s well could effectively control some of these diseases. Other diseases were not as easy to control, however.

Mantoux_tuberculin_skin_test

One disease that has been especially difficult to control is Tuberculosis. Even though Robert Koch discovered the Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) in 1881, Tuberculosis was spread by the release of infected droplets from the infected lungs during coughing and sneezing. While covering the mouth during these episodes would decrease the likelihood of spread, it was harder to change peoples behavior in this activity. Therefore TB continued to be a problem in the western European/American worlds.

As my wife works on her ancestry projects, she has commented about the number of her relatives who have died from TB, or as it was called in the frontier towns, “Consumption”. This was almost a death sentence for someone in the 19th century. Before the availability of antibiotics, moving to a drier climate, to the southern (southwestern) states. The dryness helped to retard the spread of the disease.

Unfortunately, today’s AIDS scourge has given new life to TB. AIDS patients become more susceptible to infections like TB and we are seeing an upswing in its incidence. But that’s a topic for another day.

So, let’s get started with today’s exploration of the Robert Koch’s discovery the microbe responsible for Tuberculosis and resulted in a Nobel Prize…  GLB

These Introductory Comments are copyrighted:
Copyright©2011 — Gerald Boerner — All Rights Reserved

[ 3432 Words ]
    

   

Quotations Related to TUBERCULOSIS:

    

“I was a sickly child, contracting tuberculosis at the age of five.”
— Dinah Sheridan

“No one has developed active tuberculosis.”
— Michael York

“The biggest disease today is not leprosy or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of being unwanted.”
— Mother Teresa

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Edited by Gerald Boerner

 

Commentary:

JerryPhotoAfter watching the Ken Burns movie on the Lewis and Clark Expedition on PBS, coming back to writing on it was viewed with enthusiasm. The expedition was commissioned before the Louisiana Purchase was made between Jefferson and Napoleon in 1803. But with the purchase, the expedition became even more important to our young nation. The Corps of Discovery was given a primary charge: find a waterway by which shipping from the Eastern U.S. could reach the West Coast Oregon Territory (then owned by England).

The Rocky Mountains and the Continental Divide thwarted the quest for the Northwest Passage one more time, but the expedition yielded rich scientific and cultural riches. The crew collected animal and plant specimens unknown before that time to the Euro-Americans. In addition, the Corps was the first group to view the Great Plains and its herds of Buffalo. The Corps also encountered numerous Native American groups; all were relatively friendly except for the Lakota Sioux. And this was the first American group to reach the Pacific coast via an overland route!

Lewis_and_clark-expedition

One of the unexpected revelations of the research about this expedition was the encounter with the concept of the Doctrine of Discovery. Basically, this doctrine explained to me the reasoning behind the view of European explorers during the Age of Discovery, namely, that when an explorer claimed a new land for their King or Queen. The native population was seen as occupying the land, not owning it. Therefore, the European discoverers could make the claim on it. It will be worth studying that section of the post and its supportive articles more carefully.

So we need to get on with the show and start our further exploration of the Lewis and Clark Expedition…  GLB

These Introductory Comments are copyrighted:
Copyright©2011 — Gerald Boerner — All Rights Reserved

[ 4156 Words ]
    

   

Quotations Related to MERIWETHER LEWIS:

    

“Great numbers of the Indians pass our camp on their hunting excursions: the day was clear and pleasant, but last night was very cold and there was a white frost.”
— Meriwether Lewis

“The weather was fine and moderate. The hunters all returned, having killed during their absence three elk, four deer, two porcupines, a fox and a hare.”
— Meriwether Lewis

“We had high and boisterous winds last night and this morning: the Indians continue to purchase repairs with grain of different kinds.”
— Meriwether Lewis

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Edited by Gerald Boerner

 

Commentary:

JerryPhotoWomen have been seeking equal status in western societies for a long time. They have been relegated to a secondary role that is not perceived as requiring an education beyond that necessary to maintain the home, raise the children, and work the farm. It was not even allowed for them to attend school, learn to read, write or compute. In the mid 19th century, some education was allowed for girls, but often this was to supply the teachers needed by the community schools; these women were allowed to teach as long as they were unmarried and highly “moral.”

Higher education was out of the question for all but a privileged few. This effectively limited women’s access to the business and political arenas. Women were to bear children, often one per year, and perform other domestic chores. This often cut their lives short due to death during childbirth or complication from it. This was, no doubt, one of the reasons feminists viewed birth control and abortion became such an important issue.

National_Association_Against_Woman_Suffrage

But the focal point of the feminist movement starting in the 19th century was the right of women to vote, women’s suffrage. But the suffragists were more broadly advocates for civil rights in general, including the slavery, human rights, and voting for women, African Americans, and other groups discriminated against. Before the Civil War, the was reflected in the Abolitionists as well. The event that started this organized resistance against inequity was the Seneca Falls Convention which came up with the Declaration of Sentiments which became the suffragist’s and feminist’s guiding principles.

But enough of this context for now; we need to start our exploration of the Equal Rights Amendment…  GLB

These Introductory Comments are copyrighted:
Copyright©2011 — Gerald Boerner — All Rights Reserved

[ 4387 Words ]
    

   

Quotations Related to FEMINISM:

    

“I think feminism has had a major impact on anthropology.”
— Clifford Geertz

“What, do you think that feminism means you hate men?”
— Cyndi Lauper

“Feminism is an entire world view or gestalt, not just a laundry list of women’s issues.”
— Charlotte Bunch

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