Sunday, December 06, 2009


So you think you know what war is like? I'm here to suggest that until you have actually been in combat or have suffered through a bombing by a foreign power you're just guessing. Follow along closely as you get a glimpse into the mind of a seven year old and see how the horrors of war influenced his thinking for many years.

It was another beautiful Sunday morning in Hawaii. My Dad, Mom and I were getting ready to go to Mass at St. Augustine's Catholic Church in Waikiki. We had been living in our new home on Ala Wai Blvd. in Honolulu, Hawaii for about five years. It was just two long blocks from Waikiki beach. Years later I can remember my Dad regaling us with stories about how everyone thought he was completely nuts for buying the property where the house was located because there was nothing around there except ponds with ducks and geese. He bought the house AND the 5,000 square feet of land for one dollar a square foot - $5,000.00. That was an enormous sum in the mid nineteen thirties but it proved to be another one of my Dad's really smart moves.

We had a Philco radio on the bedside table next to my parent's bed. It looked like a small brown archway and it had the usual Sunday morning claptrap going on about a host of inane activities for that day. My Dad was sitting in the yard using a Sunbeam electric "Shavemaster" that was hooked up to a long electrical extension that was plugged in inside the house. I kept hearing these explosions coming from the southwest side of the island but they sounded like noises we usually heard when there were maneuvers going on at the Army Air Force Base at Hickam Field. All of a sudden the radio announcer started yelling: "The Japs are bombing Pearl Harbor! The Japs are bombing Pearl Harbor!" I ran outside just in time to see a Japanese Zero drop a bomb two blocks from our house. It landed in the middle of Lewers Road and in addition to leaving a huge crater about twenty feet deep and completely across the street, it left shrapnel marks on all the buildings around which were there for years. Amazingly, no one was killed but a couple of people inside the apartment buildings were injured. Occasionally we would take tourists around the area and show them the shrapnel marks particularly on a pink building that had a stucco finish.

Here's a little side issue. Have you ever heard about the Mitsubishi Airplane factory? No? Just the automobile manufacturer you say? Well, guess what: The Mitsubishi A6M plane (nicknamed the "Zeke", the Allied code name, or the "Zero", the popular name) was manufactured by the Mitsubishi Airplane Factory in Japan with a design history starting in 1937. It was the first carrierborne fighter aircraft to supercede all other land based planes. Can you figure out why I don't want to own a vehicle with the brand name "Mitsubishi"?

The rest of the morning was pure shock. Since the adults were frightened all the kids were panic-stricken! We were glued to the radio in our front room. It was a big Philco console and was hooked up to an aerial on the roof that gave us very good short wave reception, even in the daytime. In front of our house was a canal (Ala Wai is "water way" in Hawaiian) that emptied all of the rainwater from the mountains into the Pacific Ocean. I remember standing in the front door clutching my mother's dress as we watched a house burning on the other side of the canal. It was a very big house and painted that dull red color just like the barns you see around the farmland countryside. It was burning and large billows of black smoke were pouring out of all the windows. You could see people running around the outside of the house. They looked like ants.

We didn't know it at the time but many years later we learned that most of the bombs dropped on civilian targets went there simply because the imperfect release mechanism on the Zero often got stuck and the pilot would fly around jerking frantically on the handle to get rid of the bomb. Not paying any attention to where he was flying except to keep the aircraft up in the air, many bombs were dropped by accident simply because the pilot knew he could never land on the carrier with the bomb hanging down as it would blow up the plane with him in it the moment he landed.

Later on that day we heard over the radio that martial law had been declared and anyone on the street after nine-o'clock at night would be shot. The entire island was forced into a complete blackout to prevent enemy planes from using the lights as markers for bombing. Soon after that my Dad was busy building covers for every one of the windows. They slanted out from the house wall above the windows and had to be painted black on the inside. They only came down halfway on each window so that you could leave the top half of the window open for ventilation. However, the glass on the bottom part of the windows had to be painted black so that no light could escape. You could open the windows anytime you wanted as long as no lights in the room were on. You also had to have covers put on your automobile headlights that kept the lights from shining up. This was enforced until the end of the war. We didn't get the black paint off of all of our windows for several months after the end of the war. I can remember how relieved I was to see the light streaming in the windows of my bedroom. It was like we had been let out of jail.

There was a reason for these rules. Everyone in the Hawaiian Islands was petrified for months that the Japanese were coming back with an invasion force. Many years later we learned how Admiral Yamamoto tried for many months to convince the politicians that the best time to invade the Islands would be while the bombing of Pearl Harbor was going on. He wanted to bring along three shiploads of troops, probably about seven thousand seasoned combat soldiers, with the carrier task force and land them on the beaches around the island of Oahu while the air raid took place. Fortunately, he was unsuccessful in his endeavors or I'd probably be speaking Japanese today if I was still alive.

From then on it was a life controlled by the war. Everyone was required by law to carry a gas mask. It was slung around your shoulders and carried wherever you went. You had a better chance of walking around with no clothes on and not being arrested as long as you were carrying your gas mask. Air Raid "Wardens" were appointed and each one took care of an area that included a number of blocks. Until Katrina destroyed all of our pictures, I had several photos of my best friend, Pat Dunn, and me when we made our first communion wearing the white shirt and pants and the ubiquitous gas mask. I also had a huge wooden box of the front page of the Honolulu Advertiser and the Star Bulletin newspapers from December 7, 1941 to August 31, 1945. One of my students and I were working on selling them and I had them in my studio.

For the duration of the war the air raid wardens walked around everyone's house at night checking to see if any light was escaping from the house, If it was, you got a ticket and had to go to court to prove that it was accident besides paying a big fine. If you broke the blackout law more than two times, supposedly you went to jail. Everything was enforced by a huge military presence wherever you went. Occasionally there would be a "practice" air raid and gas attack.

The wardens would put on their gas masks at a certain predetermined time and then start throwing tear gas grenades all around their area. If you didn't put on the gas mask it was pretty severe because it really did cause a lot of respiratory problems as well as a lot of tears coming from the eyes. This happened several times a year during the war.

We still went to the beach to go swimming but that was not allowed for several weeks until massive walls of barbed wire protected all the beaches. To get to the ocean you had to walk through ziz-zag corridors in the barbed wire. This condition was maintained until August of 1945 when the war with Japan ended. Everywhere you went on the island there were military police (M.P.'s) riding around in jeeps and doing their best to keep order, particularly with the huge influx of servicemen. As with most populations, the servicemen in general were despised because they disrupted your way of life. Very little thought was given to the fact that they were on their way to die to keep us free.

As a consequence, my Dad built up Frank Owens Studios to the point where by 1946, when I
started teaching piano in his studios, he had 15 instructors working Monday through Saturday
from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. In addition, he, my mother and I were teaching. For many years the
enrollment for the studios was over 500 a month. By the time I was ten I guess I was bugging
him so much that he started taking me to the store on Saturdays. Within a few weeks I was
working behind the counter packaging things that people bought and making change.

During the entire war and for another thirty years afterward, my Dad's music stores were
exceptionally busy. Servicemen from all over the country were coming into Honolulu because
they were going through Army basic training at Scofield Barracks. Once there, they knew that
they were going to the South Pacific to fight the Japanese military and there was a chance they
might not come back. So they tried to cram into three months all the things they had thought
about doing but hadn't. They took piano lessons, guitar lessons, they bought sheet music and
harmonicas and records and other things too numerous to mention.

In spite of trying to live a normal life, it just wasn't possible. Incessant reminders of the war were everywhere. One of the really bad things was probably the air raid sirens that went off once a week. They had to be tested regularly in case they were needed but it was frightening for a few moments until you realized it was the weekly test. Even worse than that was the nighttime air raids. Radar was in its infancy and at least two or three times a month, anytime the operators saw a flock of birds they were sure we were being attacked again and the sirens would go off and the sixteen-inch anti-aircraft guns would go off. Sixteen inch! That's a shell that's a regular twelve-inch ruler plus another half in diameter. It was HUGE. And it made a huge noise when it fired a 1.25 TON shell.

Since Fort Derussy was just two blocks away and the guns were on the corner closest to us, they literally shook the entire neighborhood every time they were fired. The whole house would shake, I would make a mad dash from my bedroom to my parents bedroom, crawl into their bed in between them and shake like a leaf wondering if we were being attacked again.

This would go on until finally the sirens would signal the all clear and the tension would melt out of you like perspiration running down your back. Often times, I would go back to sleep there and not get up until my Dad got up very early in the morning.

For many years the sound of a siren would send a chill up and down my back with the hair on the back of my neck rising up. I can remember hunting for rabbits with my beagle on the batture in Waggaman, LA around 1970. Suddenly an air raid siren went off. It was so startling and frightening that I was sure World War Three had started. Turns out it was a monthly test of the system to make sure it worked. Living in New Orleans, working at night and often times being asleep when the early morning test was going on I don't recall hearing it too many times. You can probably understand that I was one of the first to be highly in favor of the new sirens for all emergency vehicles except for the fire department. It was a long time coming as far as I was concerned and a very welcome change.

My thoughts of the war have never really left me as I have been continually reminded of them by the constant wars going on all around us. Right after World War Two ended the Korean War started - please remember that we're not supposed to call it a "war" because we never declared war on North Korea - it's the Korean "Conflict". Is that another sign of the long-term stupidity of everyone in Congress? Anyway, Wheeler Air Force Base, located on the west side of the island near the town of Wahiawa was where my high school girlfriend, Sonia Poland lived.

Her father, Captain Roger Poland was in the U.S. Air Force. It was called the Army Air Force at the beginning of the war. She had a twin sister named Sharon and an older sister named Patricia. Her mother was the secretary for an orthopedic surgeon at Tripler Army General Hospital that had 3,000 beds during WWII. It was upgraded to 4,000 beds during the Vietnam War. She was responsible for helping me volunteer to get in to entertain the troops just about every week during the Korean War. A couple of orderlies would move a piano on wheels into a ward and I would play a few tunes for the wounded soldiers and then the orderlies would move the piano to another ward and I would play again for a while. The sight of our troops with lost arms, legs and eyesight was pretty gruesome but I put up with it to try and give something back to the troops for what they have always done for us. The draft board chased me next and won then came the Cuban missile crisis, then Vietnam. My memories of war are made even more vivid as we battle terrorism and those who believe we all ought to be Islamic or dead. Unless you've been through it I doubt you can understand the whole matter. Needless to say, war IS hell and it leaves its mark on every human being subjected to the whole process. Like just about everyone else I've ever met, we all hope the wars will stop but there really isn't too much chance for that. Your chances of working hard to stop wars are much better if you have experienced something like the attack on Pearl Harbor. Otherwise it really doesn't mean much.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Homes for the Homeless

Homes for the homeless

Anyone ever considered how simple it would be to provide thousands of realistic homes for the homeless? Take a look around you at all the huge highway and Interstate construction projects with many of the overpasses being five to ten feet off the ground. It appears to the folks without a lot of information about how the homeless live that the homeless go about looking for places to stay that are out of the wind in the winter and out of the sun in the summer. Seems reasonable to me.

Can you visualize areas under all of these overpasses separated into rooms without doors that would be a great place for the homeless to crash? It really seems too simplistic but in real life, the homeless do NOT want to go "home". They want a little nook or cranny that they can call their own with a few "amenities" (like cardboard to help keep warm) that will see them through another night. They don't look very far ahead you know. They're just concerned about where they are going to sleep for the night, whether their stomach is going to growl at them because they haven't eaten today and where they are going to go to the bathroom. These appear to be the top priorities to a homeless person.

It seems as though well-meaning people like those associated with Habitat International and other organizations of the same type are bound and determined to fit the square-peg homeless person into their round-hole mentality. It's a direct failure of the whole procedure to think you can take someone who has abandoned your values and force them to accept it by moving into what YOU think is a nice house. You must forget this because they don't want a nice house - they want a place to crash for the night that is out of the wind, rain and cold, nothing more.

There have been numerous studies as to why there are so many homeless people. In 80 percent of the cases it's by choice folks! These people have dropped out of society and want nothing more than to be left alone. Numerous studies have apparently shown that when you take a homeless person and set them up in a decent apartment or home and provide them with enough food and utilities they'll take it and when everything runs out they go back on the street again.

Remember what it was like to be a kid? No responsibilities, no worries except those created by the authorities (mostly parents) about what the kids "have to do" tomorrow, next week, next year and so on. Many homeless find the life satisfying inasmuch as they don't have to obey anyone. As long as they are unobtrusive and don't break any major laws, they are generally left alone. The really creative ones end up making quite a lifestyle for themselves that doesn't cost very much but provides them and a few hangers on with an existence that is better than the rat race they abandoned when they quit society.

A series of small rooms constructed by volunteers using contributions of old used plywood under a highway overpass would go a long way to get the homeless off the street, get them out of the weather and provide a ready made roof over there heads. It would also provide a place where social services could be provided for them on a bare necessity level. For example, many illnesses that become an epidemic start in the world of the homeless. They don't seek medical help because they don't want to be thrust into society's limelight. Besides, they don't have the means. How easy would it be to provide drinking water from cisterns that caught rainwater? Where do you think they are getting drinking water now?

Keeping the crime down would be fairly simple as there would not be too many volunteers required to look out for one area suitable for a hundred people. The ones that migrate there could be examined for psychological problems without intruding on their idea of homeless "society" and some help could be provided for the ones that want it. The main thing to remember is that you cannot save them all! You'll be lucky if you can save a few. Isn't that worth the effort?

Consider the fact that a great number of people living the life of a responsible adult often yearn for the days when all they had to worry about was homework and whether another pimple was going to break out on their face. I realize that it was very important then but now, it seems almost idyllic that you should have so little to worry about. Have you considered the fact that this great country of ours was settled over many years by a lot of homeless people? Perhaps you can add your thoughts on this article to make it more of a reality. How about it?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Lincoln's Other Mary

One day in the mid-1980's, I got a phone call from a gentleman in Michigan who identified himself as David Owens. Turned out that not only was he a genealogist studying and documenting the Owens clan back into the 1700's, he was also a professional musician with a band of his own (the genes do show up, don't they?). He wanted to know what had happened to my Dad's father after he left Harvard. At that time, I had no earthly idea that my grandfather had attended, much less graduated from Harvard University.

Seems as though my grandfather, Jessie Vinyard Owens, wanted to be a school superintendent and went to Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska for that specific degree. That's where my father was born. I knew that they had moved to Butte, Montana where "Bapu", his nickname, took over the school system there. During this conversation David mentioned that my grandfather's aunt was once engaged to Abraham Lincoln. I remember saying "No way! You're pulling my leg!" and he said that it was true and was documented in the book "Lincoln's other Mary". I told him I would get the book and check it out. And he was right, the book exists and it does tell quite a story.

Seems as though my great-aunt, Mary Owens, lived on a big plantation in Lexington, Kentucky in the early 1800's along with her sister and brother and perhaps other siblings. Her father was very wealthy and owned hundreds of slaves, a mark of great wealth in those days. Her sister got married and moved to Springfield, Illinois. Her sister kept writing to Mary asking her to come visit since she missed her very much. Finally, Mary got the trip organized and took the long trip by horse and buggy to Springfield. While she was there she was introduced to this attorney who was poor as a church mouse but they hit it off immediately. Mary went home and made other trips to Springfield and on the last one, this attorney asked her to marry him. She told him that she was very fond of him but would have to think about it.

Mary went back to Lexington and pondered the whole deal for a few weeks and finally wrote to the attorney and turned him down. It was Abraham Lincoln. He finally married the "other" Mary. Mary Owens eventually married a man by the name of Jessie Vinyard. Her brother, Robert Owens, apparently thought so highly of Mary's husband that he named one of his boys Jessie Vinyard Owens, my grandfather.

So I have encouraged my children and grandchildren to always tell people that one of their relatives jilted Abraham Lincoln. It's a really good, true story for cocktail parties!

Sunday, September 13, 2009


I've had several inquiries from former students of mine about improvisation. Although I am retired from the teaching business and perform very seldom, I can still write about these things. So for you piano players and other instrumentalists out there, here's an article I wrote last week for the International Piano Teachers Group in response to an inquiry for help from a teacher in England.

Improvisation is always viewed as the boogey man, something that is extremely difficult and almost impossible to learn. In the words of one of my improvisational teachers about 60 years ago that's hogwash.

For example, Twinkle, Twinkle, little star, starting on the note C is played:

NOTES: Middle C C up G G up A A dn G
TIME: 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4

Every teacher at one time or another struggles to devise a way to teach a song without manuscript notes. The example above is what I use. It's fairly easy to understand for a student with limited knowledge of the keyboard. It's also very useful in e-mail! In popular sheet music usage, above the first C would be the letter C indicating the C chord (CEG). Above the first A would be the letter F indicating the F chord (FAC). Above the last G would be the letter C indicating the C chord.

All improvisation in the modern sense is based on using the notes of the chord and what are called passing notes (non-members of the chord and melody) to embellish the melody. Of course the options are endless, only limited by the creativity of the performer. In the case of this simple melody we can very quickly construct an improvised melody by simply using additional notes of the chord and passing notes in between:

C dn B up C up D E F G dn E up F G A dn F up C dn A dn G
1 & 2 ee & a 3 & 4 & 1 & 2 & 3 4

In this example we have changed the first and second notes to eighth notes, the next four to sixteenth notes and the rest to eighth notes with the last note being the half note. Please notice that strong beats of one and three remain the same and the weaker beats of two and four sometimes occur in other places than the original melody. If this is unacceptable it is fairly easy to change it to the way you want it.

Let me give you fair warning. In sixty years of teaching popular music I have had a large number of students who wanted to learn how to improvise. Some of them take to it like ducklings to water. Others really have to struggle. The sad part is that there is a large percentage who never catch on and just give it up as a bad deal. Maybe there's a glitch in the way their brain works or perhaps they just give up too easily. My opinion is that it is their belief system. They've "known" for years that improvisation was extremely difficult and "knew" they were never going to be able to learn it. As Henry Ford once said, "If a man believes he can do it or believes that he can't do it, chances are he is right!"

Many years ago my father regaled me with stories of great pianists who put on concerts that were attended by large numbers of people. Most of the concertgoers would tolerate the pieces the pianist performed in the first half of the concert but what they really came for occurred in the second half. At that time, the pianist would begin by stating a theme and then the rest of the time he would play improvisations based on that theme. The interaction between the pianist and the audience brought us some of our greatest classical music, particularly Chopin, Liszt and Rachmaninoff.

Unfortunately, to my knowledge, the marvelous blind pianist Alec Templeton was the last to do this. I was a member of the audience in Honolulu, Hawaii in about 1949 when he performed there. The last segment was when he asked for five notes from the audience and it was really an odd lot. That man sat up there and played those five notes interwoven into styles by Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Debussy and even John Philip Souza! It was one of the most remarkable concerts I've ever attended.

This venue does not lend itself well to placing the chords and the timing in the right spots. With a little bit of thought you should be able to figure it out. If not let me know and I'll tell you how it works.

Hope this helps.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Most of the people I know are aware of the fact that I've been a fanatic about hunting and fishing my whole life. Actually, I've been tramping through the woods since I was nine years old. Hawaii, Indiana, California, Ohio, Florida were all states in which I hunted or camped out. Then came over 40 years in Louisiana. During a period of 20 years in Louisiana if there were 55 days of duck hunting and I didn't make 50 it was a bad year. I went every day. In all this time I was just like a kid - curious about everything and noticing things that most people never saw.

Last spring I went a ways down the mountain on our 2.6 acres in the back of our home and ran across what I considered an amazing plant. I have never run across a plant such as the one here in the Western North Carolina Mountains. I went back to the house and got my camera and took a fairly good image of the plant. I spent a considerable amount of time trying to get an identification from some biology and botany "experts in North Carolina but did not have any luck getting an ID on the plant.

I have posted this image above this article. You can click on the picture to see a larger image. Let me draw your attention to the fact that this plant has a stem growing out of the center of the large leaves and on the top of that stem which is over six inches long is another set of smaller leaves. I've never seen anything like it. There are at least two plants in the photograph.

If you can identify it or know someone who can do so, please let me know.

As usual if you have any comments they are welcome.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

List of Articles

I've had some complaints from people that they are having difficulty finding specific articles I've written so this article is just a list of them all. This list will be edited and revised in the future as I add more articles to this blog.

As usual, your comments are always read and published unless anonymous. With those I reserve the right to withhold publication.



1. Religious Slaves - 4/15/2006
2. Katrina ruins the life of a professional musician - 4/15/2006
3. The Last Straw, Easter Sunday - 4/16/2006
4. Hippy Dippy Bebop Progressive Jazz Junk - 4/19/2006
5. The Death Merchants - 4/21/2006
6. The Gouging Oil Companies - 4/21/2006
7. Sight Reading at the Piano - 4/28/2006
8. Surviving a Heart Attack by Yourself - 5/06/2006
9. Philosophy of Experience - 6/25/2006 (COUNTER)
10. Prison Reform - 12/23/2006


1. Reliable Witnesses - 4/06/2007
2. The Mind Reader - 4/11/2007
3. Alien Invader Crooks - 6/28/ 2007


1. Shaman Shame - 10/16/2008
2. How Religion Got Started - 11/05/2008
3. End of a Career? - 11/26/2008
4. Fed Up! - 11/06/2008
5. The Solution to Drunk Driving - 12/15/2008
6. Carnage in the Mid-East - 12/28/2008


1. Anonymous Comments - 1/19/2009
2. Stopping the Pirates - 4/15/2009
3. Miracles or Magic? - 5/05/2009
4. List of Articles - 5/23/2009
5. Rare Plant? - 6/16/2009
6. Improvisation - 9/13/2009
7. Lincoln's Other Mary - 11/25/2009
8. Homes for the Homeless - 11/27/2009
9. Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941 - 12/06/2009


1. Sight Without Glasses - 1/12/2010
2. How Shipbuilding Got Started - 4/04/2010
3. Low Body Temperature - 9/10/2010
4. Global Warming? - 9/21/2010


"Assassination attempt in Tucson, AZ" - 1/9/2011


"Rumors of my demise" - 4/20/2012

"The latest Political Scam" - 6/1/2012

"Our most precious asset" - 12/19/2012

Tuesday, May 05, 2009


In several books about Harry Potter, there are several different ways that he can use magic. One of them is his invisibility cloak. Now that's a fine tool, very useful for the person who wants to accomplish things without people seeing what he is doing. The problem is that it is considered "magic" which is purportedly impossible.

On a daily basis, youngsters around the world are subjected to the story that an angel appeared to the "Virgin" Mary, told her she was going to become pregnant but that there would be no indication of any sexual act having taken place. The young children are forced to say over and over: "I believe! I believe!"

What is the difference? You expect me to believe that Harry Potter's invisibility cloak is impossible but that Mary had a child without losing her virginity? Doesn't that strike you as odd? I consider it the biggest case of child abuse ever perpetrated on the human race. What makes you think that children of all ages are too stupid to figure out, on their own, what a huge scam this is?

How about this one: the shaman (priest, minister, rabbi, whatever) presides over a funeral and says to the people gathered there that God "needed" little Miss Smith more than her parents or friends or relatives which is why she died. Do these sadistic people realize that they are teaching this gathering of mourners to hate God? Or how about the reaction of people when something really bad happens to Mr. X: "Well, he really must have done something exceptionally bad or God wouldn't have let this happen to him!"

That's on the same level with the performance my "converted" mother used to put on if the motor on my car blew up or a job fell through or the roof started to leak on our house: "You see? If you'd go to church more often this wouldn't happen to you!" She had to convert to Catholicism in order to marry my father. As the saying goes, the convert is the most rabid believer of all. On the other hand, my Dad went to Mass and communion every day and NEVER SAID A WORD about it! He never preached to me about it, he just did it. I call that living your religion.

I choose to believe what Dr. Harold Kushner preaches in his television special entitled "When Bad Things Happen to Good People". You can also get the book of the same name. Dr. Kushner is a rabbi whose son contracted progeria, the "old age" disease, (also known as "Hutchinson-Gilford syndrome") at age three and died when he was fourteen. His whole philosophy is that God is not sitting up there (or down there - take your choice) waiting for you to step out of line so that he can punish you. Dr. Kushner's description is very simple: "A falling rock has NO conscience! It was an ACCIDENT!"

Try concentrating on that the next time something goes awry. It makes any religion (your way of life) much easier to tolerate. The two quotes following might make it even easier!

“Religion is an illusion and it derives its strength from the fact that it falls in with our instinctual desires.”

"The more the fruits of knowledge become accessible to men, the more widespread is the decline of religious belief."

Sigmund Freud - 1856-1939

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Stopping the pirates

RE: shipping off the coast of Somali

I have watched the events concerning the Maersk Alabama and the hostage situation which ended so well thanks to our Navy Seals. I really don't care about the details of how they accomplished the task. It wouldn't bother me to learn they were hanging from a chandelier when the shots were fired. The Captain is free and three bad guys are dead. That's all that really counts.

Now a military expert says: "guarding that vast area is very tough". The news media is not interpreting that correctly. The word is not "tough" but "expensive". President Obama can spend billions bailing out worthless automobile companies and can't spare a few billion to protect American interests in the Indian Ocean?

Apparently, the entire administration and the military think the American people are really stupid. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out how to handle the problem. One nuclear powered aircraft carrier positions itself in the center of that "vast" area. A-10 "Warthogs" run patrols 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Helicopters create a corridor by dropping a few hundred sonar buoys that float below the surface. All shipping interests are warned to stay within the corridor when passing the coast of Somalia. Apache helicopters standby to intercept the pirate vessels that enter the corridor. Anyone fires at U. S. ships or planes and they get sunk. End of problem. Do you really think that we will believe that it's not a matter of money? Lives in Iraq and Afghanistan are at risk because of lack of money. Why is this situation any different?

It seems entirely possible that the insurance companies and the shipping companies would gladly pay a good part if not all of the expense of ending the pirate problem if it succeeded.

If you feel differently, kindly leave a comment. If you don't want to leave your name the comment will be read by me but it will NOT be posted

Monday, January 19, 2009

Anonymous Comments

On Sunday December 28, 2008 I posted an article I wrote on "Carnage in the Middle East". I have received an anonymous comment which I am reluctant to release on to my blog. I believe that anyone who doesn't have the guts to stand behind what they write should not be afforded a forum on which to rant.

In addition, this person seems to believe that since the body count of Hamas dead and injured is larger than that in Israel, more attention should be paid to the plight of Hamas. I consider that patently unfair since body count has never reflected how much people suffer during any war.

I will continue to post articles on what I think is unreasonable action particularly by the media. In the meantime Mr. or Ms. Anonymous, if you want to crawl out of the woodwork and discuss this on a reasonable basis I'm ready.

Fritz Owens