Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii

Added August 31, 2023: It has been three weeks since the catastrophic Lahaina fire.  It essentially has disappeared from news, replaced by the latest headline this morning “Idalia slams into Florida, Georgia”, and on the TV talk about how Congress may resist disaster relief – too expensive, too many.  And the narrative about climate change…or not.

We were in northern Minnesota for a few days, and our host was  talking about a relative who’d been to Maui in 1983, and commented then on the wooden buildings he’d seen, close together, on the island.  A disaster waiting to happen.  More or less “they should have known”. As it happened, we were in the dining room of a home in a town that was devastated by a “100 year flood” in 1997, in a location unlikely to be at risk, a long ways from the Red River of the North over 15 miles away.  This didn’t protect the town, then.  My reminder about this caught our host short….  Memories are short; needs are great; pre-planning is for someone else, later.  The worst case “will never happen”, but always seems to, and today is more frequent, and of course, debated.

We can’t assure anything in our own future.  Neither can our neighbors, no matter how nearby or far away.  Society needs to step up to the plate when needed, and do the difficult thinking ahead to hopefully keep catastrophes to a minimum, whatever the cause.

Pre-note: Helping Maui recover.  I asked my cousin, Georgine, who’s lived on the Big Island for years, and is very active there, for a reliable fund raising portal.  Here’s what she sent:

Maui Strong Fund: Online

The Hawaiʻi Community Foundation started a Maui Strong Fund to support residents affected by the wildfires, which firefighting crews continue to battle in Lahaina, Pulehu/Kīhei and Upcountry areas. Individuals can donate here.

There is a credit card processing fee, but HCF will not take an administrative fee, and 100% of the money will be given to the service provider.

The fund has been seeded with $1 million.

Non-profits seeking funding can email a request


August 10, Georgine, my cousin who lives on the Big Island of Hawaii, sent a family update, which I think others might find of interest.  This update is found at the end of this post.  There is an immense amount of news on this tragedy.  I mean no disrespect in taking a few moments to remember a short visit to Maui, including Lahaina,  in 1985.

The below maps shows locations where Georgine and Robert live (Kailua-Kona) where her house is (Kawaihae); and Lahaina, Maui (here)

Here is a google map of Maui.  The Big Island is southeast of Maui;  here is a google map, including the locations of Kawaihae and Kailua-Kona.  Hawaii is by far the largest of the Hawaiian Islands, about 5 times the size of Maui.  Maui is about the size of Hennepin and Ramsey County (MN) combined.  The Big Island is about 1/20th size of Minnesota.

As noted, the regular media provides much more up to date information, but in this worldwide community we live in, first person accounts like Georgine’s are really helpful


POSTNOTE Sunday, August 13, noon: It’s now nearing a week out from the catastrophic fire that consumed Lahaina, Maui, HI.

Words seem superfluous, on the other hand, words can be cathartic as well.  And since I’ve been there, albeit 38 years ago, words come to mind.
The flight from Honolulu to Kahului airport was short.  I don’t recall how long.  I picked up a rental car and the drive was to Kihei.   Here is the map.  To my right everything appeared to be forest on a slope.  Kihei, the destination, was basically straight ahead, apparently south from Kahului.

Maui is not densely populated.  Maui’s most recent population is about 160,000; in 1985, when I was there, about half that.

The drive to Lahaina, the day after arrival, was just a leisurely day trip up the shore.  The Banyan tree was a key memory; some pretty fast small crabs at the shore were also an attraction.  Otherwise, Lahaina seemed just a tourist town.  I don’t recall visiting any museums or such.  I have a recollection of lava rock along the shore.  It was a very pleasant day.

The next day was a drive up to the rim of Haleakala.  It was not an easy drive – mostly up the mountain – about 50 miles.

Somewhere there are pictures, but they have to remain in memory.  Vivid in minds-eye was the silversword.

38 years ago, the Lahaina tragedy was something I could not have imagined.  Much of the Hawaiian islands are quite dry, but the usual image is verdant.  This is a function of windward and leeward sides of significant mountains.  But as we know, now, Hawaii is not immune to the same kind of problems as other places.

Of course, Lahaina is not the only tragedy in these days of instant and global communication.  Some of the recent ones were recited at church this morning.

We are a global community.  In the modern era, of international travel and instant communication, we cannot escape awareness of what is going on elsewhere in the world.  We all share this space which is planet earth.


from Jeannie:  Aloha

Those of us who have survived loss from lava flows since 1983 all agree upon this: we have not suffered at all compared to our dear people of Lahaina Maui.  As of August 10 the list compiled of THEIR unaccounted totaled 1106.
(Jeannie lives in Kilauea area of Hawaii.)
from Georgine, Aug. 10: It is horrible what happened in Maui.  The winds were hurricane force, without rain and the fire raged through town.  There were also 4 fires on Hawaii Island around the Kawaihae house.  Luckily the wind was blowing towards the ocean, and the house was not threatened, even though it was surrounded by 4 different fires.  The wind was so extreme, the house would have burned if wind direction had changed.  The fires are now contained and the wind has died down.  Friends were staying at the house.  Saw them last night and were grateful they viewed the events as a good story, rather than being afraid of the fire.  We have an incredible fire department here.  

Maui and Lahaina will take a long time to recover.  It is so very sad, especially when recovery from Covid times had just started to happen.  Haven’t yet heard how many businesses were lost in the fire, and consequently how many jobs.  Saw that the population of Lahaina was 13,000.  They are all now homeless and there is so little affordable housing here.  Maui is evacuating both tourists and local people to Oahu (Honolulu) convention center.  There was no electricity in many parts of Maui, including some of the hotels.   The airlines have been incredibly helpful as has the military and government officials from all parts of the state.  People in Lahaina did not have time to collect anything because the fire went through so quickly.  It is probable there will be more fatalities.  They are still fighting fire and have not been able to do a full search and rescue.

Feel very lucky to still have the Kawaihae house.  My thoughts are with the many people on Maui who have such huge losses.  Please send this message to your family list Dick so that others know how lucky we are on Hawaii Island.

Love and aloha, Georgine

August 6&9, 1945: Reflecting

Aug. 9, 1945 was Nagasaki – 78 years ago.  Today’s post reflects briefly on “78”.

First, Speaking personally: war is insanity, period.  It is never a solution.   The winner of one war, can expect another war to follow.  The saying “What goes around, comes around” comes to mind.  Having said that, there have always been and there will always be war.  Conflict sells.  There is always a new generation of tyrant, exploiting people’s fears and loathing of some ‘other’.


Two coincidental events led to my posts about the Atomic Bomb, here (Oppenheimer) and here (Letter from Japan).  Both include interesting comments.

Oppenheimer intrigued me:  I saw it, twice, and very glad I did.  It was a movie, granted, but with abundant food for thought.

My posts focused on what some ordinary people thought, at the time, and to use their own words to convey their reality soon after the bombs fell in 1945.  None of them have the wisdom of hindsight.  It was people like them, after all, who had endured years of fear: Aunt Jean and Mrs. Coan thousands of miles from the front; Captain Gus, and Uncle George in day to day peril combatting an enemy they knew only as a deadly enemy.

O course, the Japanese had identical feelings.  Japan’s large cities had already been devastated by conventional bombs.  Four cities, among which were Hiroshima and Nagasaki, had been spared….it seemed to their residents.

For both sides at the end, the value judgement was survival; and vanquishing the enemy.

Days after the second bomb, in mid-August, 1945, the Japanese leadership decided to surrender, and for a very short time, there was peace.  Then came Korea, and nuclear proliferation, and the Cold War, and Vietnam and on and on and on.

War doesn’t end.


There has been a small blizzard of opinions which have come my way after the blogs.  They are the usual analyses about the horror of the end of WWII, essentially the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Why?  Whose fault? Hindsight?

Like other similar noteworthy events of the past, there are endless informed opinions of who did what, why, and what it all means.  When the dust settles, all that remains is the reality of what happened, then, and the hope that we (everyone, everywhere) are not so insane as to trod the same road again.


Speaking for myself, these past days I’ve concentrated on the number 78 to help get perspective.

It was 78 years ago that the bombs destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  I ask myself: 78 years from now (2101), how will people review what we were like in 2023, assuming that a society and a record remains to do such an assessment.

(78 years before 1945 was 1867 – shortly after the Civil War; 78 years before that was 1789 – shortly after the U.S. became the United States.)

78 years ago our citizenry, and indeed, the ones who built the bomb, really had little idea of what had been born.  Mostly, until Trinity, what lay ahead with the Atom bomb was all theory.  In Oppenheimer, I included this clip – Atomic Bomb 1945 news20200809 as found with a letter from my Aunt to her husband in the Pacific, probably from the Grand Forks ND Herald in early August, 1945.  The article was about the test, and speaks for itself.  World War II had raged on for four deadly years and people were tired of it.  Communication and technology generally were very primitive by today’s standards.  A youngster today would have trouble relating to 1945 in any way.

Even given the current dilemmas in our world, I still tend towards being an optimist.  Given that admitted bias, here’s my take on the 78 years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki:  nuclear bombs have been oft-threatened, and in the 1950s tested, and still stock-piled, but have not been used again.  The United Nations was formed after the war, and with all its faults is a functioning and stabilizing organization with many assorted sub-alliances in place.  Most recently, Putin has threatened nuclear in Ukraine, but it appears an idle threat – he along with other Russians, not to mention all of us, have everything to lose.  Behind the bluster, there is at the minimum some common sense.

78 years from now, an observer looking back to the really old days of 2023 may see us much differently than we see ourselves today.  When I print out this post, it will be history, every bit as much history as events in 1789, 1867 and 1945 became history the day after they occurred.

In short, we own the present: the good and not so good.  We basically know what happened  78 years ago.  What will we do with the time we have left in the coming years?  It is up to us.


I’ll close with a thank you to a mentor.

I’ve had many mentors in my life, one of them was Lynn Elling.

Lynn, who I knew from 2006 till his death in 2016 at 94, was not always easy to know.   He was focused and determined and could be very exasperating.

I bring him up because his background relates directly to this conversation.

In 1943 he graduated from the University of Minnesota, and immediately went into the Navy as a trainee Naval Officer.

His assignment was to an LST in the Pacific theatre.  LST’s were not glamorous vessels.  At a funeral of one of his shipmates, he remembered the descriptor of LSTs as “Large Slow Targets” – which brought a hardy laugh from some veterans in the pew who were in the know.

Lynn Elling 1944

One of Lynn’s first assignments was after the deadly battle at Tarawa in late 1943.  The LST on which he was assigned came in to pick up the pieces, quite literally.  Tarawa had been a bloody battle, many casualties on both sides.  Some sailor came back with a “souvenir”, a skull of someone killed, and Lynn had to deal with that issue.

After the war, he came back to build a life, interrupted for a time by recall during Korean conflict, and along the way came to be involved in organizations  (One the United Nations Association and the other now called Citizens for Global Solutions), working for a better world.

One of his first ventures for peace was to travel with his wife, Donna, and another couple, to Hiroshima, in 1954.  That experiences changed his life forever.

Yes, Lynn could be exasperating, but he and others helped come to a realization that War is not the answer.

It’s up to all of us to work for a better future.


from Steve:  I’m often surprised when the anniversaries of significant events seem to go unnoticed–like August 6 and 9. It was that way this year, except for your note earlier this week. The Kennedy assasination, the allied assault on Normandy, the passage of either the Civil Rights Act or the Voting Rights Act are examples.

There are, of course, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Presidents Day, and the 4th of July–each a national holiday recognizing collective events. And there’s Women’s History Month and Black History Month, both giving recognition to the legacy of many individuals and their importance in our past.
I don’t know what I expect would be an appropriate recognition of specific dates. I’m usually annoyed by perfunctory “celebrations,” events carried out only to satisfy our feeling that “something should be done.” Maybe just a respectful note in the newspaper or reference on the evening news—a kind of Remembrance of Things Past, a sober thought that on this day years ago our nation–or someone–left an inheritance of some distinction, or a legacy to overcome.
Maybe it’s just up to each one of us to choose those days and events that provide us with a connection to the past and relevance in our own lives.
Thanks, as usual, for your frequent notes.

from Ginny (Uncle George’s daughter): Dad never talked of the war but I heard about the crossing Equator line.  Now I have some understanding of why Dad was a civil defense person.  He had two trays of slides on personal and infrastructural damage from the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs.  It gave me insight into what radiation does to the human body.

Richard Greelis in Mpls Star Trib, Sep 3, 2023: Oppenheimeer Greelis Mpls STrib Sep 3 23

A Letter from Japan, August 10, 1945

Sunday, August 6, is the 78th anniversary of Hiroshima and the Atom bomb.  Three days later, Nagasaki was target for the second bomb. The annual commemoration events are August 5, 6 and 8 in Minneapolis and St. Paul:  details here, (click on first tab under news and events).

A year ago, I saw the Golden Rule sailboat as it prepared to begin its major sail in eastern U.S., starting at Hudson Wi and thence St. Paul and down the Mississippi River and on….  Golden Rules focus is nuclear.  It is on the homestretch with a few months to go, and this commentary is very interesting.  The Golden Rule’s presence on the web is  here.


Onward: Today’s post emphasizes a three page letter, written August 10, 1945, the day after the second Atomic bomb exploded over Nagasaki, Japan.

Oppenheimer, the post which preceded this, as well as what follows, are invitations to broaden the conversation about the past, and to encourage discussion about our role in the matter of not only the past, but the future.  We all are the future – in a democracy, the people decide who represents them, for good or ill.

As you’ll note, the linked letter,  written August 10, 1945, was postmarked August 17, 1945, from a U.S. Marine officer to my Uncle George, a Navy officer, 1943-45, on the Destroyer USS Woodworth, DD460, in the Pacific theatre.  The writer was George’s cousin, born the same year, 1916,  only a mile away, on a neighboring farm near Berlin, North Dakota.

Both men were my relatives; George was my mothers younger brother.


I invite you to take the time to read and reflect on Gus’s three page letter.

Gus’s letter was written in wartime.  The second A-Bomb had been dropped the previous day.  The suggestion in the letter is that both men were in approximately the same location, quite certainly on, and near, Okinawa, Japan.  Everyone was under wartime censorship rules, so things like exact locations were off limits in communications.  Here’s part of a postwar map drawn by someone that most certainly places the Woodworth and George Busch near Okinawa Woodworth WWII (partial).

The letter was likely written on Okinawa, part of soon to surrender Japan, perhaps 500 miles from Nagasaki.  You’ll notice that Gus does not say a single word about the Bomb, and as a Captain, he would have known about the Bombs.

I don’t know why Gus wrote as he did, one day after Nagasaki. What I do know is that Okinawa was one of the last and bloodiest battles of WWII – Okinawa Apr Jun 1945 ending about a month before the Atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima; and before Japan’s surrender.  There were tens of thousands of casualties on both sides.  Quite literally, Okinawa was a fight to the death.

I know that Gus’s Second Marine Division had endured a long, long war in the Pacific, and Gus was doubtless involved in the entirety of it.  He received, in fact, a field promotion to Captain, indicating a strong service record.  Being Captain of a combat Company was extremely high risk.


THOUGHTS:  What Gus’s letter, and the letter from George Busch’s wife, Jean, in the previous post,  bring to the conversation is how real people were reacting to news of any sort relating to World War II in the summer of 1945.

I am primarily interested in how we in the present day can apply learnings from previous crises, such as the A-bomb, and apply them as much as possible to resolving contemporary problems impacting on our society – everyone, everywhere.  I articulated some of these in the Oppenheimer post last Friday.

I have always been rooted in the notion that Peace and Community are the objectives if we intend to survive as a planet.  I believe that a majority – probably a vast majority – of humans share this belief.  This flows from simple day to day observation of citizens in many contexts in action around me.

On the other hand, there has always been, and there will always be, everywhere, a minority and opposing notion, lusting for domination and control.  No society is immune, certainly not our own in the present day.  Yesterday’s Minneapolis Star Tribune on my doorstep articulates this well.  We all know we are living in a society at war with each other.

But there is a counterpoint: another Star Tribune, March 30, 1971, illustrated another view in an editorial, saved by my friend, mentor and peace activist Lynn Elling:


Herein lies the dilemma for peace and justice activists.  Passivity does not accomplish the desired results.  Neither does isolation within a community solely of like minds.  Positive engagement with others and patience and persistence will always be essential, and will always be difficult.

The route to success – a peaceful planet – is difficult, but not impossible.  We have to be “on the court” (participants) and not simply “in the stands” (spectators and commentators).  We all can do our part.

To paraphrase the well known saying, if we can’t learn from the past, we are condemned to repeat it.  Our enemy may or may not be the latest threat of use of a nuclear weapon, or; rather as I suggest in the previous post, it might be inaction on climate, communicable disease, the Pandemic, of dishonesty in communication, on and on.

Commemorate the tragic events of 1945 forever, but dedicate our efforts on saving our current world for future generations.

Individually and collectively we are the only ones who can change the conversation.

POSTNOTE: I began the post on Oppenheimer with a photograph of the blackboard at my coffee place, Caribou in City Centre.  I looked again this morning.  The tally now is 60-37, in favor of Barbie.  But of even more interest to me was somebodies chalk rendition of what I think is supposed to be the Bomb.  And I close with this illustration.

August 3, 2023 at Caribou Coffee Woodbury City Centre


from Joyce: What a treasure this letter is, a true slice of history, and how sad that the art of letter writing is pretty much lost. One of my dearest friends was diagnosed with lung cancer a few months ago, and she is afraid she will die before her one year old granddaughter is old enough to remember her. We’re meeting up for lunch next week, and I’m going to suggest that she write letters to her granddaughter; my older daughter still has a bundle of letters that her grandmother sent her.

from JoAnn: Thanks for promoting the Hiroshima Nagasaki commemoration events.  I hope to see you at one or more of them.  John LaForge is a well-known activist (keynote on the 6th) and Sansei Yonsei Kai will be dressed in their kimonos to dance on the labyrinth on the 8th.

Thank you for sharing the historic letters.  Very interesting reading, making we wonder what my parents felt (my mom was a WAC, stateside, but I think my dad may have been working for the Norwegian?  navy. undercover).
My own understanding, and one of the main forces propelling my activism, is the fact that the development of the atomic bomb changed the world. One or two madmen could press a trigger and destroy life as we know it. Humankind now had a tool that could decimate not just people, but also animals and farmland, on a global scale. The air unfit to breathe, nuclear winter (talk about climate change!), cancer causing debris in the water as well as land.  The other major force is the plight of the people affected by the bombing, “what has happened to me must never happen to you” — a plea from the hibakusha (abomb survivors).
I am indeed a faithful reader of your blog.  Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

from Fred: As always, I enjoyed your comments and insights! As a student of WW2 throughout my life, I was  particularly interested in your Uncle George, aboard a destroyer off Okinawa in 1945. Don’t remember hearing you note that particular combat officer.

So you had an uncle killed at Pearl Harbor on the day war began and another uncle involved in the concluding naval battle of the war, fought off Okinawa. I would venture that not many American families can make such a claim. Okinawa is most remembered as brutal struggle on land and the onslaught of Japanese Kamikazes attacks against the USN invasion fleet. But the fighting in waters surrounding the island turned out to be last stand of the Japanese.
Operation Haven Number One, entrusted the Surface Special Attack Forces, led by the super battlewagon Yamato, to destroy the American fleet. That force was stopped by Naval aviators from US carriers.
Special note: Are you aware of the Battle off Samar (in the Philippines)? Long story short, Halsey went off on a wild goose chase set up by the Japanese, leaving a fleet of transport ships vulnerable. They were protected only by several Jeep (light) carriers and destroyers. Japanese fleets rushed in for the kill while their aircraft doggedly pursued surface ships.
The Americans were totally surprised and caught on only when they saw the Japanese fleet bearing down on them. American Destroyers were ordered to charge battleships, cruisers and destroyers in what seemed a suicidal attack. If you have never read Hornfischer’s The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors, I’ll lend you my copy. That battle has been called the US Navy’s finest hour.
Finally, Diane and I made an interesting trip to Asia in 2006. We wanted to return to see what China was like after our lengthy visit there in 1988. After several days in Beijing, we boarded a cruise ship that visited Manchuria, South Korea, Taiwan, Okinawa, and Osaka, Japan (saw its museum honoring Kamikaze pilots). It was all terrific, but the stop at Okinawa and a day ashore the most memorable.

from Kathy (opinion in Minneapolis Star Tribune Aug 1 2023): Oppenheimer Star Trib Jun 1 2023 Tularosa0001

response from Dick:  Tularosa NM, subject of the article, is about 60 miles from Trinity site and adversely affected by fallout after the nuclear test in 1945.  The article speaks for itself.

Of course, the creators of the Atomic Bomb didn’t know, until its detonation, exactly what would happen.  It had never been done before.  In a sense, it was like any invention at any time in history: its benefits and its consequences were not reliably predictable at the beginning, and included the possibility that all living things everywhere would have been obliterated by the first explosion.

In our near neighborhood is the world headquarters of 3M, which, as we speak, is weathering the consequences of a hugely popular invention which goes by the acronym PFAS.  There are endless other examples of a great idea with demonstrable benefits gone bad….    Progress has consequences.

from David: Here is a story from American Heritage online magazine. It’s from a special issue, “Hiroshima and the Struggle to End the War.” It just arrived in my inbox and I’ve only had a chance to skim through it and thought I’d send it along to you.


This post includes several points of view.  I’d encourage you to at least take the time to scroll through, including the links.

This week, somebody cleaned the for-the-public blackboard at Caribou in Woodbury, my coffee place, and wrote a question: “What are you watching first?”  In one column, “Barbie“, in the other “Oppenheimer“.

Thus far (Friday p.m.) it’s 22-21.  My hash mark is for Oppenheimer, which I’ve seen once, and plan to see again.  Yes, Oppenheimer is just a film – a longggg film (3 hours) – but full of content for reflection about then, and now.  I highly recommend viewing it.

My view on the general matter nuclear and the bomb?  See postnote.  Succinctly, I’ve not changed my views on why The Bomb came to be; nor about it’s utter uselessness as a tool to resolve problems.  It is useful only as a threat, actually used in war on only two occasions in 78 years, and those two by the United States: Hiroshima and Nagasaki, August 6 and 9, 1945.  Of course, the threat has now been rolled out again: Putin threatening Ukraine.  

The film speaks for itself, as does the history and the conflict over interpretation of what happened at the inauguration of the nuclear age in the time of Einstein and Oppenheimer.

I’d prefer to present some perspective, in the present tense, at minimum to hopefully add to the conversation.

A few months ago, my brother, John, visited the actual Trinity site in New Mexico.  With his permission, here is what he had to say, including a link to. the photos he took at the site at the time.

John Bernard July 26: Here’s the link to my Flickr album that contains a mix the photos I took at the Trinity site: Trinity. The time, there wasn’t really a whole lot of laughter or joviality among any of the visitors at  the site. It was pretty much a somber tour and a walk around the site.

I went to see [the film July 25] , with my biking buddy Jim – who happens to be a retired professor at UC Davis, and who actually took a course from Edward Teller in [his] undergraduate days at Berkeley. Both of us liked the films approach as a good mix between the mechanics and science of building the bomb and the moral conflict a lot of the people were having about actually building it.

Regarding Trinity site – stone cairn theoretically is Ground Zero – I didn’t bother to take a picture of the plaque .   Inside the simple, rebar steel cage at the side of the monument is what is  claimed to be the remnants of one of the footings of the steel tower that the device was on. Due to the fact that it’s in the middle of the White Sands missile test range, which is still an active military installation, it’s only open to the public two days a year – in April and October.

A Voice from the Past: Coincidently, less than three weeks ago I delivered a few letters to the family archive at the Historical Society of North Dakota in Bismarck.  Among them were two long letters from my Aunt Jean to her husband, my Uncle George.  They had been married about a year, and he was in his third year as an officer on the destroyer USS Woodworth in the Pacific.

Jean’s letters were dated August 15 and 19, 1945.  News from home.

The letters are among several hundred of George and Jean’s 1942-45 letters preserved at the historical society for posterity in archive 11082.

Jean’s letters to her husband were, of course, personal, and I include here only a tiny portion of one of them, “6:30 Wed Aug 15, 1945” : “I’m so happy! It’s half an hour since the announcement of Japan’s surrender.  Oh Darling, I can hardly believe it – Mrs. Coan called me saying “come over for a drink”.  I did – guess we mixed it with tears while the Star Spangled Banner was played – we are all so happy, that’s all….”

I forwarded the letters to John, who additionally commented: Cool! So glad she saved them – an interesting slice of life (pun intended, because apparently she [had] gotten a job at a potato chip plant on the Night Shift) from a war bride in 1945. I did indeed scan [the letter], and noted in one portion that [Jean] indicated it was a year, almost exactly to the day, since she last saw him.

(They had married in North Dakota in May, 1944, and apparently he was stateside for a couple of months.  He finally returned home in October, 1945.  The last port of call, beginning Sep. 11, 1945, was Tokyo.)


  1. Unfortunately, we cannot un-invent atomic energy, or anything created by research.  Makes no difference whether it will kill us or not.  We owe our basic quality of life (as we see it) to research and invention over human history.  How/Where/Whether to draw the line is probably impossible.
  2. Oppenheimers job, it seems, was specifically to beat the Germans to the goal of a nuclear weapon.  The Germans surrendered before the American bomb was tested; but the Japanese did not officially surrender until September, 1945.
  3. Every generation has its crises.  At the end of WWII people everywhere generally were sick and tired of war.  In my own families case, my uncle had gone down with the Arizona Dec. 7, 1941.  The man who would later become his brother-in-law, Mom’s brother,  spent three years as an officer on a Destroyer, and the list goes on and on.  Everyone focused on their own loved one, “over there”.  The Japanese, in this case, were the amorphous “other”.  To the Japanese, we were the evil other.  That is how war is.
  4. Hateful and deadly as it is, it is unlikely that we will ever succeed in ridding the world of nuclear weaponry, nor of the evil ones who will view it as an asset.  We certainly should continue to call attention to the insanity of nuclear weaponry.  There are many sources of information, including this link: ICAN.
  5. There are present day analogies, I feel, to the nuclear crisis that led to Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  The Pandemic is a recent example, where more than a million Americans were killed by a disease, emptying American movie theaters, etc., for well over a year. A “bomb” to rid us of that plague would have been welcome.  Or Climate Change which is an ongoing threat.  And Political Polarization which will assure that we not have the collective will to confront common problems.  And on and on and on.
  6. I was struck, in the film, by the blackboard, chalk and eraser, just like the chalkboard in my coffee place.  Oppenheimers days were the days before much of the technology we take for granted.  For that matter, Barbie, “born”  in 1959, came during the blackboard, chalk and eraser time.
  7. I personally think that we ourselves are our greatest enemy going forward.  The Bomb is easier to threaten than to use.  We’re stuck by a societal pandemic of dishonesty (lies), ginned up fear and loathing of different others, and now AI (artificial intelligence), etc.,enter the conversation, to disrupt and confuse and deceive.  I think we can solve this, but I’m not so sure we will….

Amy submitted this opinion to her Church Newsletter on July 26, 2023: Amy re Oppenheimer and Nuclear0001

Columnist John Rash wrote this review of the film for the Minneapolis Star Tribune July 22, 2023: Oppenheimer Rash July 22 2023

POSTNOTE:  I’ve long been on record on the issue of The Bomb, and Nuclear generally.  A couple of examples:  in 1982Nuclear War;  later, in 1995Atomic Bomb 1945001.  Referenced in the 1995 column is a news article about the first detonation of The Bomb shortly before Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 1945: Atomic Bomb 1945 news20200809.

There is more.  What I say above basically lays out where I am, and where I’ve been.  It’s not an easy issue.

August 5, 6 and 8 in Minneapolis and St. Paul is the annual commemoration of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Detail here click on first tab under news and events.  I highly recommend this.

POSTNOTE 2: Saturday afternoon, I attended Oppenheimer for the second time this week.  I rarely see movies in the first place, and it is rare for me to watch one twice.

I was glad I attended, this time thinking more about our common future as a planet; than simply an historical anecdote about the now distant past.

Back home the TV news was about places like Niger in Africa.

Overnight came a commentary on a speech made yesterday by President Biden to a small group in the state of Maine.  The speech was very important, and the commentary about the speech is here.

We – all of us – are the solution.

COMMENTS (more at end of post):

from Brian: Thanks for sharing!   Even as a pre-teen growing up in San Antonio, Texas, I remember asking my mother why did President Truman have to use the atomic bomb on two cities with civilians?   It wasn’t necessary.

from Joyce: Eric and I saw Oppenheimer on Thursday; we both consider the film a masterpiece. As we left the theater on that exceedingly hot afternoon, I remarked to Eric that the scientists were right to fear we would set fire to the atmosphere, they were just wrong about how we would do it, gradually through industrial processes, not suddenly through a nuclear chain reaction.

I remember my parents defending the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasagi when I brought it up with them as a teenager; they claimed those bombs saved lives by preventing an invasion. Harry S. Truman was their hero. Those were civilian lives, children, infants, whole families. I will never understand why we didn’t first demonstrate the power of the bomb in an uninhabited site first.

from SAK:  Many thanks Mr Bernard,

I agree that ethical values seem to be having an ever diminishing hold on humanity. Some will say I exaggerate so let us say a diminishing hold on a significant portion of a growing humanity.

Couple this with the argument I constantly hear in favour of Truman’s decision which is basically: it was us or them – the allies had to beat the Nazis to the bomb – and you get a doomsday scenario. Soon scientists will be developing AI tools, genetic interventions, all sorts of weapons on one side of a divide. This will “force” the other to compete. Forget any talk of a moral high ground.  It will boil down to who has the more funds or the stronger military.

It could be that just as with a plant, an animal or a human being whole civilisations and even species grow, prosper, then wither & die. You also list the various threats facing humanity along with possibly unknown unknowns!? Given all this realistic pessimism the question posed since Greek philosophers walked the streets of Athens remains: what does a good life consist of? Well to me it belongs to those who are fighting for peace, against the development & use of such weapons, as well as against global warming etc and not to those who are profiteering from any possible threat or crisis!

A member of his war contracts investigating committee objected to his strenuous pace to which Harry S. Truman famously replied: “If you don’t like the heat, get out of the kitchen”. Soon there will be precious few cooler places to go to. Yet elections seem to be oblivious. Spain has never seen such a heat wave in its history yet that issue didn’t feature in elections this month: it was overwhelmed by questions like Catalan language in schools, LGBT etc.

I much prefer Eisenhower’s warning regarding the military-industrial complex – sadly it was during his farewell speech. Perhaps some sitting president will have the guts to speak and act against big lobbies & bigger money while still in power! It’s a major flaw with democracy.

But to end on a happy note, I keep in mind Mother Julian of Norwich’s words: “All will be well, and all manner of things will be well.”

from Harry: Thanks for sharing this with me, Dick.

Of course, you know where I stand on this. I stand with Pope Francis, who stated that the use and even the possession of the nuclear bomb was seriously evil. No excuses for using it.
My understanding is that Japan was not even the issue, but rather the Soviet Union, who was our ally in the war. We were already preparing for war with Russia to fund the armament manufacturers.

from Molly:  I appreciated the observations. Fyi, although I’ve not seen the film, I have been following the series of columns by Greg Mitchell, who has written a separate blog string of them on Oppenheimer (ie, separate from his usual blog–of which I am an erratic follower.). He also has written some books on him, and the bomb.

(look him up in Wikipedia–a very interesting bio).
[Note from Dick: Joyce has also recommended Mitchell.]
Here’s today’s column.

Here’s a list of them, scroll down to July 13 for the start of the string.

I’ve found the series excellent, (though I admit to being a few behind right now…)


POSTNOTE July 24, noon:  This morning, some unknown kids said “hi grandpa”, passably respectably, as I passed their gaggle during my walk at the health center.  They appeared to be about 8th grade, part of a group that had been doing what I call ‘wind sprints’.  I was about two miles into the walk, and didn’t say anything in response, but had only hours before completed the blog which  appears below.  The kids and I are in different “time zones”, of course.  What they don’t know is that they’re all in training for their own years ahead!

Just now, came an e-notice that a work colleague of mine just died at 86.  Time passes….


July 10-12 two of my daughters and I took a ‘whirlwind’ trip to my ‘hometown’ of North Dakota.  It was a great trip, from which I’m still recovering (thus the quote marks around “vacation”).

Below is a sketch map for perspective.  Here is my personal narrative of three long, wonderful days: dick july 10 12 2023

How does an 83-year old cover the first 25 years of his life in a few words?  Here goes.

Years ago, when I was 16, May, 1956, I remember Eric Sevareid writing an  essay, “You Can Go Home Again”, for Colliers Magazine.  It is summarized here.  I was especially attracted to the article then, because a couple of years earlier we lived a few miles from his home town of Velva ND – the place he was writing about.

I can’t match Sevareid, who was legendary in his time, but so be it.  I pick two vignettes from my early youth, which I revisited on July 10.

On the way west, we stopped at the World’s Largest Buffalo in Jamestown – a tourist staple since about 1960.  In the surrounding ‘village’ is an old building which I asked the girls to notice:

Jamestown ND July 10, 2023

Down the road, 7 miles west on I-94, is Eldridge, where that General Store used to be, and a short way down the road was where we’d lived 1943-45.  The next day, at the ND History Museum in Bismarck, I showed the girls a photo I’d taken of the same store in 1991, when Dad and I were revisiting old sites.  Then. the abandoned store was still in Eldridge.

Eldridge store 1991

Places like these bring memories for folks like me.  As noted, we lived in Eldridge 1943-45.  I celebrated my 4th and 5th birthdays there.

Probably around my 5th birthday we lived in a little house maybe a block walk from this store, and we went to a birthday party – maybe my own – upstairs in the store.

I must have been having a bit too much fun, and forgot that nature was calling, and didn’t quite make it home when I messed in my pants – one of the earliest and most traumatic experiences of my life…at least I’ve never forgotten it, all these years!  Not one of my finest moments!

A little earlier, July 10, we drove by the former farm owned by my mothers family for over 100 years.  Lauri took an intriguing photo of the barn roof – amazingly still standing.

Busch barn rural Berlin ND July 10, 2023

I think I verbalized the back story of this barn roof with the girls.  Here it is.

The barn was built in 1916, and the barn roof in 1949, when I was 9 years old.

We were visiting the farm at the end of July, 1949, likely celebrating my Mom’s 40th birthday which had been a week or so earlier.

We were sound asleep, late at night, when one of those occasional horrific Dakota straight line windstorms came up and caused much damage.  We were all at the farm, in the house maybe 200 feet from the barn, most of us upstairs, awake and terrified – 11 of us in all, 6 adults, five little kids. I vividly remember the rain coming in through the window sill, as if a faucet had been turned on.  In the morning, we were fine, but barn roof was gone.

The barn, the morning after….  My Mom, and if you look carefully, you’ll see all five of us kids, end of July, 1949.    (I’m the “king”, with my back to the camera in foreground).  The others are Flo, Mary Ann, Frank and John (one at the time).  Dad took the picture.

Authorities can differ on how it was that we survived.  There would be the “Hail Mary” contingent, since lots of prayers were said by the elders; possibly there was also significant help from the hedge to the south of the house which deflected the wind a bit.

Whatever the case, we survived, and all of us were out there surveying the damage the next day.

Grandpa, story is, had just let the barn insurance lapse, so the loss was uninsured.  He found a barn to the east of LaMoure that had roof beams that he liked, and the family crew, including my Dad for much of the next month, built the replacement beams one by one, in a form on the hayloft floor.  Dad always had a lot of pride in their work on that roof, and it still stands today.

Here are some other photos from the trip: ND 2023 Trip Photos Jul 10 12 2023

All of our lives are a succession of stories. If you are interested, here are some memories of my growing up as a teacher’s kid in tiny towns in North Dakota: Bernard Dick School Memories

Thanks for hearing two of mine.

North Dakota State Capitol, Bismarck, from Slant Mandan Village, at the Missouri River and Ft. Abraham Lincoln south of Mandan ND



Sound of Freedom

This is the first post since I took some time off from this blog on July 2.  It has been an active vacation, and I will catch up in coming days.

But this first post is to recommend a powerful film we saw on spur of the moment last evening.

It’s Sound of Freedom, 2023, in theaters now, nationwide.  Details for your area at the link.

A friend, 90, who walks at the same place I do, is the one who told me we should see the film.  We took her recommendation; we’re glad we did.

There was a showing at 6:20 p.m. on Tuesday, and I remarked we’d probably be the only people in the theatre – but it was nearly full, and everyone was completely attentive till after the final credits.  The film is over two hours.

There is endless food for thought throughout the film, and when you go, stay through the credits and for the few minutes post- movie commentary by the lead actor.  It’s not a waste of time.

I understand the film was ready for screening in 2018, but was held back till now.  I haven’t followed up on this, but will.  I have my own theories.  Perhaps I will comment some weeks from now.

Again, see Sound of Freedom.



POSTNOTE: Another new film we saw was En Avant, L’Etoile du Nord Ou La Joie De “Vie”.  We were at the premiere of this 60 minute film on July 15.  There appeared to be  a full house, and the film was enthusiastically received.  It was part of the Lumieres Francaise Film Festival, part of the Minneapolis-St. Paul Film Festival.

I found this film to be very excellent, but I defer comment for now, since I do not have information on followup showings of the film, which undoubted will occur.  When I know of new showings I will let you know.  The film was excellently and expertly presented by producer/director Christine Loys.

Stay tuned, particularly if you are, or know of, people of French heritage in the midwest.


from Dick: You’ll note above my comment “I have my own theories…comment some weeks from now.”  I guess you need to trust that these theories won’t change because of the below – but I’ll stick by my own thoughts, and remember, I saw the entire film from beginning to end.

from Jeff: The movie and it’s star and promoters have been linked to Qanon fyi. alot of advocates who fight against sex and human trafficking have been critical of it.   most experts say the vast majority of victims know their enslavors/sellers/abductors.   I haven’t seen it yet, but my far right friends(not you hahaha) gush about it which makes me wary….maybe you haven’t read about it, but it is a bit of a controversial thing in some circles.

Less controversial,  and a movie I highly recommend, on Hulu now, “The Quiet Girl”, which was nominated for best foreign film, it is in the Irish Gaelic language.    it isn’t riveting and you have to appreciate slow moving development, but it is in a sense a good companion to Sound of Freedom, as it is about parental love and the right of a child to be loved and cared for.  it hints at potential child abuse as well.  It is a beautiful film of loss and love and family.

from Arthur:  I’m glad you had a good vacation

Caution Dick please don’t get fooled by a propaganda movie

from Juel: We saw the movie yesterday.It was very well done.  Most thought provoking. I was glad that details of the child scenes were excluded. Of course, we all have imaginations. It saddens me to know that the US is the number one child trafficking country.

from Georgine: Public radio did a program this morning about Sounds of Freedom.  Talked about the main character/person is a Qanon person that believes that children are being kidnapped so the elite can eat them.  They did not mention this in the film.  Cautioned that part of the movie is factual, some is not.  I believe it was on morning edition this morning.  What a weird world we live in.

from Dick: additional comment to the four above: I’m going to do my damndest to stick with the theory I started with.  But you have to stay tuned.  Thanks for the conversation.

from Terry:

Thanks, Dick.  Interesting recommendation.  I’m content to read about it and give my money to other filmmakers.
Slate’s article, “How Sound of Freedom Misrepresents its Subject–and Why the Movie Is So Seductive” explains how the film is propaganda, its connections to the far right and how sex trafficking has become a hot issue for evangelicals.   Trump, Steve Bannon, Glenn Beck, and other right wing figures have been endorsing the film. ‘Ballard’s organization, Operation Underground Railroad, was started in 2013 with funding help from Glenn Beck and Beck’s listeners.’ .


The movie’s star has given interviews claiming that children are torturing children to harvest adrenaline from their blood…  The article links the conspiracies they are pushing to Pizzagate where Clinton and John Podesta were part of a child sex trafficking ring.  The Slate article is too long to summarize here but it’s worth reading.  It is fascinating (and disturbing) to see how propaganda films can have an impact.
There are other articles in The Guardian, NPR, the BBC that question the accuracy of the film and look at its connections to QAnon.  Last night Trump held a showing at Mar-a-lago with the star, Kari Lake, and neo-Nazi Jack Posobiec.

Also, here and here.

“Anti-trafficking groups have already said that QAnon hinders their efforts, and the film revolves around the baseless panic that vast trafficking rings are waiting to snatch up American kids,” says Mike Rothschild, an expert on QAnon and author of The Storm is Upon Us. “Trafficking is real but films like this obscure the real issue.”  Here.

from Dick, July 28, 2023:  I actually find it useful to ‘kick up some dust’ when discussing issues like this.  As noted above, I said I’d respond later, and this is the response, for good or ill!

I attended this film because a friend, 90, highly recommended it.  I really knew nothing about it beforehand.

It is, first of all, a film, which like all films and books and other expositions of all kinds present a story with a point of view.   This one was particularly gripping for me because of personal circumstances, most of which I will not relate in this space.  Suffice to say, actually experiencing something is more important than just reading about it.  With that I dispense of the most important half of my own story.

I was most interested in learning that Sound of Freedom was an expensive film to make, and was ready for release in 2018, but not actually released until 2023.  There is lots of theorizing about this.  I’m not sure of the real story, and personally I don’t care a lot about that.  Mostly I’m glad the story is being told..

Into the film mix, at least for me, was Pizzagate, a sensational and outrageous and false conspiracy theory in 2016 alleging that Democrats and Hillary Clinton had a sex ring doing human trafficking of children out of a pizza place in D.C.  This was heavily publicized at the time.

Following along shortly thereafter, in 2017, was the infamous Qanon, which is said to have at least some its roots in Pizzagate.

Then comes the personal part, as I say, mostly unstated, but….

In 2017, a woman made my acquaintance at the coffee shop, and was extremely concerned about the prospects of sex-trafficking of children at the Super Bowl, scheduled for Minneapolis in February, 2018.  She had connections with the person/family whose story I will not divulge.  She seemed sincere and even caring. I had seen her from time to time at the coffee shop and  I had her e-mail and what turned out to be her alias.

Fast forward, along came Jan. 6 2021.  and this very woman was front page news at least once, and at least three other times subsequent, in the protests allied with Jan. 6 in D.C.  She was indeed a spokesperson for the group..

In addition, my search found a 5th article with her name in 2017.

I have not seen or heard from the woman since the contacts in 2017.  She was such a prominent and public player in the 2021 protests that my guess is that she has been at minimum removed from any visible role, politically.

All of this is simply allegations, I admit; as I also admit you don’t know the rest of the story that I will not tell.  But all in all, it is quite apparent to me that there is a story in the fact that the film was held up from release for several years, and it is likely we will never know for sure, why.

Key for me: the general thrust of the film story makes sense, and in particular the last few minutes after the credits about why the film was made in the first place.

In 2017, I know I was played for a fool.  The party unidentified  in this writing is now in her 20s, and by no means out of her woods, yet.

I continue to recommend seeing this film.

En Avant L’Etoile du Nord

Saturday, July 15 at 1 p.m. at the St. Anthony Main Theatre in Minneapolis MN is the first showing of a new film about the French in what is now Minnesota.

I think you will want to attend.  Ticketing information is here.  The film is in English.

The current trailer should be here.  (If it doesn’t come up, let me know.  It’s been finicky.)

Do pass this message along, especially to those you know in the Minneapolis-St. Paul region.  This will be a single, world premiere, showing.  Director Christine Loys will attend.  This is a one day, one time, 62 minutes presentation, as part of the Lumieres Francaises portion of the MSP Film Festival at the festivals St. Anthony Main theater.  (Link above for tickets and more information.)

En Avant is a history film about the French in Minnesota and area.

Some years ago Director Christine Loys made her first visit to this area from her home in Paris, and was astonished to find all of the French names on streets, lakes, towns, etc.

At the time, she didn’t know the rich history of the French here.  Of course, she wasn’t alone…most Minnesotans haven’t heard much about “L’Heritage Tranquille” – the quiet history of thousands upon thousands of French-descended folks who came here, many of them before the ‘official’ history of Minnesota began with statehood in 1858.  Other places, as Quebec, Louisiana, etc., are better known for their Frenchness.  But Minnesota is not an also-ran.

Christine set about working at filling in the blanks of the history with film, and her project, many years in the making, is now complete, prepared for English speaking and French speaking audiences, here and in France.

As noted, the Minneapolis showing is the world premiere.

Christine Loys has been to Minnesota often in the last dozen or so years.

Her initial acquaintance with Minnesota came as part of support for the Trans-Antarctic expedition of Will Steger, French Dr. Jean-Louis Etienne and other international explorers in 1989-90.

Here is Christine with Will Steger and Jean-Louis in 2009.

Will Steger, Christine Loys, Jean-Louis Etienne, 2009.

In 2013, Christine became one of the founding members of the French-American Heritage Foundation in Minnesota, and in numerous other ways has been involved in activities here.

Come to the film.  Enjoy.

POSTNOTE:  While I was one of those interviewed by Christine early on, about ten years ago, I will actually see the results of her work for the first time on July 15, along with everyone else.  I have no doubt that the film will be very well done.

I have known, for many years, that many Minnesotans, like me,  have some French ancestry…mostly not Voyageurs.  (In my case, I am 50% French-Canadian through my father: one of his four ancestral families – his mothers mother,  was definitely Voyageur based – Blondeau).

The 1980 U.S. Census included an ancestry component, which reported that 7.9% of Minnesotans, 321,087, had French descent (France and Canada).  This would have included myself, and my four children.  Interpolating this to 2023, this number. would now be ten Minnesotans in my own line.

Here’s a graphic of the 1980 data, per the Les Francais d’Amerique/French in America calendar for 1989: pdf of below here: French in U.S. 1980001  (work of Virgil Benoit and Marie-Reine Mikesell, from 1985-2000.)

POSTNOTE: This blog space will probably go dark until after July 15.  Time for a little vacation.  My counter tells me that this is post number 1,932 since March of 2009.  Whew!  Stop back anytime.  The archive will identify back issues, if any.


from Jeff (who hails from the U.P. of Michigan): I see I was incorrect, the states with the highest % of French are VT, NH and then Maine….which all make sense due to the border with PQ.   I see my Michigan falls in with 10% French heritage….I knew many of them, and being close to Ojibwe reservations also alot of indigenous and partly indigenous peoples had French surnames:   Roland, Menard, Antoine, Mortier…etc. I suspect my little town had at least 6-8% French surnames, probably more if you added spousal names.
Un grande histoire!

from Claude: Thanks, Dick! I will probably be there with my brother (you may recall we had a French war bride mother who died in 2017).

from Norm:  I thought that the French were only in Wisconsin in the Somerset area and all of them related to my wife who is 100%! 😊

I an cc’ing  my response to you to Beth L_ whose husband, Paul,  is of French descent as well.

In fact, Paul may well be a distant relative of my wife, Sandy, through some of the many French folks living in Somerset, Wisconsin…on her grandmother’s side aka as her mother’s side.

Small world and all of that.

from Brad: The documentary looks very interesting and full of history.  I often wonder if other families of and around our generation ( like mine) have families that did not talk of their family history.  I always chalked it up to the american melting pot scenario but I think it might be deeper – a yearning to be just American and perhaps forget about the past times of hardship and war.



Independence Day

PRENOTE; about the Supreme Courts decisions, if you wish, here.

POSTNOTE: Letters from an American: Heather Cox Richardson comments on the early history of American independence, here; and here.


All best wishes for a good 4th of July.  And to Canadians, as well, celebrating Canada Day, today [July 1].

Going through some of Dad’s personal papers last week I came across an 8×10 photograph of the Liberty Bell.

The photo was a promotional piece from an advocacy group.

I’ve seen the bell in person (in Philadelphia, 1972) and whether photo or reality, it is awesome, one of the powerful representations of U.S. history.  A brief history of the Liberty Bell can be read here.  (At  the end of the brochure is a brief video about the history of the bell, including its naming.)

It is in the nature of countries to have significant dates and symbols, flags and other representations of national pride.

This particular July 4, upcoming on Tuesday,  leads me to focus on Canada Day (July 1), and a local celebration  sponsored by the Canadian Consulate in Minneapolis 10 years ago, June 28, 2013.

Here’s what seems to be the outline of some of this years July 1 celebrations in Canada.

Here’s a long and interesting article about Canada’s road to independence; complicated but very interesting.  This particular history tends to forget the French era in Quebec from 1534 to 1759, beginning in 1867,  I’ll leave the argument for others, but my earliest French ancestors were in Canada at least from the early 1630s and perhaps earlier.   And the French-Canadians called themselves “Canadiens” to distinguish themselves from others in Canada.  No matter.  All’s okay.

Of course, Canada is not our only geographic neighbor in North America.  To the south is Mexico, whose day of independence is September 16, 1810.    Here’s the Library of Congress rendition of the Mexican evolution to independence.


As you can note, the histories of Canada, Mexico, ours, and indeed all countries are complex.  History is not easily reducible to a single specific symbol, or a specific date.  Indigenous folks were late to be recognized as people most everywhere.  The major colonial players were Spanish, English and French, all at about the same time.

Every country among the 194 nations in the world have significant milestones in their own histories.

I chose here to highlight the three major nations that comprise the North American Continent.  Much is made of the distinctions between these countries.  But regardless of rhetoric there is great interdependence among these countries, indeed all countries of the planet, in these times.

June 26, 2013, I saw our interdependence with out neighbor celebrated in person at a social event hosted by the Canadian Consulate in Minneapolis.  Then-Consul Jamshed Merchant invited us to the Consulate Canada Day celebration.  Representatives of the United States and Mexican government, and of course Canada, gave brief comments on how the three nations cooperate on a daily basis in many ways.

Sharing the platform with the speakers were four flags: those of Canada, United States, Mexico and the state of Minnesota, pictured below.  (The green is part of the Mexico flag.  As I recall, the speaker in the photo represented Mexico).  Note the sign: “Growing Stronger Economies TOGETHER“.  If I recall correctly, the rhetoric around the NAFTA agreement (North American Free Trade Agreement –  adopted 1994) was getting more intense: who gets what from cooperation, not an easy question with easy answers.  Today, I’d like to modify that sign, for all of us: “Growing Stronger Together”.

Each year of the event – I attended several – Canada had a brochure for those of us attending.  Here is the brochure for 2013: Canada-U.S.001.

I have fond memories of all of the gatherings I attended.

Whatever the case, you get the idea.  People and countries which work together do better, than fighting with each other.  It’s a lesson we find it difficult to learn.

A Year

A year ago, June 24, 2022, The Dobbs decision came down from the U.S. Supreme Court.  I spoke of this in two posts a year ago.  The link is here.

I stand by what I said a year ago.

I have nothing more to add, though there is a great deal more to discuss.

There are plenty of good opinions you can read.  Take the time to learn more about this awful situation for which we will all pay a price in the long run.

POSTNOTE June 30 10:10 a.m. CDT:

This week there were several important Supreme Court rulings.

There are lots of opinions, beyond what the Supreme Court majority rulings say of the major issues reported this week.

I can only suggest each person becoming a ‘committee of one’ on the future, particularly on who is selected to represent them at the state and national levels in politics.  Ultimately, it is we as citizens who will be called to account when the book on Law is written.   “Elections have consequences” as I just heard someone say on television….

POSTNOTE July 1, 2023:

The Supreme Court ended its year yesterday issuing two additional rulings, which along with a third ruling a day or two earlier, and the Dobbs ruling a year ago, came down, largely as predicted.  All seem to have everything to do with a ‘win-lose’ philosophy, and nothing to do with resolution of issues.  (The most recent decisions can be accessed here.   Other opinions are filed by year.)

In short, the court has further divided we, the people, If you support the ‘win-lose’ position, you’re smiling; if you subscribe to the notion that we’re a complex nation which requires that divisive issues be resolved, you are angry.

I’m in the latter camp.


I will stick with what I said about Dobbs, a year ago; we are now on a bitter course with an end result which will be the same as the very long quest to tame demon rum: failure.  In the interim we will be at war with each other – the ordinary outcome of any win-lose transaction.  The ‘win’ is very temporary.

Prohibition became the law of the land in 1920, when the 18th Amendment to the Constitution was adopted.  In 1933, the 21st amendment repealed the 18th in 1933.

Prohibition has a very long history in the U.S. The quest was to, in effect, ‘deliver us from evil’, which flat out failed.  (Full disclosure, I rarely drink, don’t smoke or use illicit drugs and never have.  Just personal preference.  But like everyone, I know people whose lives have been destroyed.)

Similarly, the attempt to remake our society into a ‘conservative’ nation like we supposedly used to be in all areas – shall I say not friendly to “woke” – is doomed to disaster as well.  The only question is how long it will take and how damaging it will be.


The July 1, 2023, post leads with a photo of the Liberty Bell, which I found in a file kept by my father.  It has its own story.

Dad was a patriotic guy, and he was likely conservative in the best sense of the old version word, though we never talked about that.  However he came to have the picture, it was cherished.  I found it in his flag file.

On reverse of the photo is information about the bell, and attribution of the source of the photo: Liberty Bell (2) ca 1980.

I looked up the source of the photo, and it was a group of conservative lawyers, founded in 1980.  This led me to wonder: is this a precursor of The Federalist Society?  Probably not: the Federalist Society says it was founded in 1982.

Of course, there are ‘liberal’ lawyers too.  But for the moment at least, the emphasis is not on resolution according to interpretation of law; rather it is a presumption of power.  Not healthy for our diverse society.


I’ll leave it at that.  Each one of us has to be a “committee of one” to decide where we are at on the matters at issue and our future as a society – a “democratic republic”, as it were.  The matter is in every one of our own personal courts.

Fathers Day

Also, recent posts: Canada and Gratuitous Force.

Happy Day to all, whatever your personal relationship to the term “Father” might be.  I specifically remember, this day, Marshall, who died March 30, 2023, at the doorstep of 87 years.  Marsh is survived by Karen, two daughters, grandkids and a constellation of other relatives and friends.

My vivid memory of Marsh was not long after he and I met in 1982.  He had just learned the location of the gravesite of his first ancestor in Canada, which we (Dad, Marshall’s spouse, and three other voyageurs) then visited at the Cimitiere Mont-Royal on Mount Royal in Montreal.  All of us, except Dad,  were in our 40s.  Time flies.  Bon Voyage, Marsh.  Memories….  Here’s a recollection of Marshall from 2015.


Age is an endless accumulation of experiences of all kinds.

Friday morning I was doing my usual walk around the indoor soccer field near home and onto the field came a green monster which sounded ominous and looked like a gigantic grasshopper.  Slowly it crawled, and then it stopped.

Another walker, a lady in her 90s, a friend, was resting and I stopped and said “what would our ancestors think about this?”  We chuckled.

I asked the crew two-man crew what was going on, since I saw nothing obvious.  Matter of fact: “Ventilation fan problem”.  Its four feet planted firmly, the monsters ‘hand’ rose to the ceiling about 40 feet up, carrying its operator.  Mission accomplished, down it came, and crawled back where it had come from.

So much for the excitement on Friday morning.  (Here’s what the green monster was.)

Continuing the walk, I passed another walker, a man, an older friend I see frequently, who walks slowly with two walking sticks, and seems to have a limit of maybe 200 feet before needing to rest in place, but is indomitable, every day doing a few rounds.

What did he think?  What he’d seen reminded him of when his job was de-icing aircraft at Twin Cities International Airport.

He knew the drill from  long work experience.

What we watched, our ancestors, not all that far back, likely couldn’t have imagined.  It was another reminder of the cumulative nature of human progress.  Among all of the species, we do not seem to have boundaries on what we can accomplish.  We each have our own particular gifts.

Not everyone has exceptional talents in whatever area, but some do, and the accumulation of knowledge has served us well.  We routinely experience, what others could not even imagine generations back.  Individuals and groups among us  invent things, while “wily coyote” and other mammals are stuck with certain intellectual boundaries.


The retired de-icer gentleman mentioned earlier had a career I wouldn’t have imagined him doing in his younger years.

Next time I see him, probably Monday at the same place, I’ll recall for him my friendship with Myron Tribus, possibly one of the most brilliant people I’ve ever met, whose career started collecting eggs on the family farm in northern California in the 1920s, and ended with a prestigious position at MIT, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

When I met Myron, he was retired from MIT, and we were on an education policy discussion group moderated by the National Education Association.  This was in the 1990s.

At some point, on a side chat, Myron was remembering WWII days and Minneapolis when he was an officer in the Army,  a young engineer assigned to a group testing assorted schemes for de-icing aircraft.  Minneapolis was an obvious place to field test their technology – weather.  He said their experience had been written up in Time Magazine at the time.  I looked it up, and sure enough – here it is: Tribus Jan 14, 1945 Time Magazine.  In fact, I found two articles on the topic – the second in the Reader’s Guide for 1943.  I sent both to Myron, then in his 80s, and he enjoyed the memories.

Myron died in 2016.  I am richer for having known him.


This musing space of mine has always been ‘Thoughts Towards a Better World’.  I have two thoughts on this one on this Father’s Day 2023.

  1. Little things mean a lot.  In some small  way, the simple action on Friday gave an unexpected  positive connection between several people – a connection neither expected nor dramatic, along with an example of progress over the centuries, one generation building on previous generations.
  2. But with this comes a caution:  progress is happening so quickly now that we may well be setting ourselves up for possible future serious problems if we aren’t careful.  Things like Artificial Intelligence have raced far ahead of our understandings of the technology, or societies management of it.  This reminds me of the forever childrens game of seeing who can make the highest stack of blocks.  Here’s an on-line example. The stacks can get pretty high, but a point is ultimately reached where it collapses.  We don’t want this to happen.  We have to manage progress so as to permit it to continue.

Happy Father’s Day.