a new park, an old tragedy

Nov 12th, 2009 Posted in history | no comment »

On July 17, 1944, a munitions explosion at the Port Chicago Naval Magazine here in the Bay Area killed 320 sailors, most of them African American.  In the aftermath, 50 African American sailors were convicted of mutiny for refusing to work under similarly unsafe conditions at the nearby Mare Island Naval Shipyard.  The ensuing uproar, including a legal appeal by then-NAACP chief counsel Thurgood Marshall, led to an investigation of the Navy’s practice of assigning menial or dangerous tasks to minority sailors, and eventually resulted in the official desegregation of the United States military.  On October 29, 2009, President Obama signed the 2010 Defense Authorization Act, which among other things elevated the existing Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial into the nation’s newest national park.   This will enable the National Park Service to enhance the site’s mission to preserve the memory of both the tragedy and its military and civil rights legacy.

the wall between us all must fall

Nov 9th, 2009 Posted in computers, history, music | no comment »

…is a line from a 1993 Living Colour song, and a sentiment that was likely on the minds of many Germans when the Berlin Wall finally did fall, 20 years ago today.  The anniversary is being noted by newsoutletsall… over… theworld.  If you get a chance, check out the excellent movie The Lives of Others, which deals with the spying that the East German Stasi did on its own citizens prior to reunification.  Today, Germans can request to review any files that the Stasi compiled on them, which is no doubt a chilling experience.

And an interesting computer science problem, it turns out.  The Stasi made a hasty attempt to destroy many of their records through shredding and old-fashioned ripping paper up by hand.  Software is now being used to recreate the original documents from scanned images of the pieces.

Meanwhile, the fall of the wall and the demise of Communist governments across Eastern Europe inspired a lot of optimism in early 1990s music.  Classics include:


“Right Here, Right Now” by Jesus Jones


“Wind of Change” by the Scorpions


“Crazy” by Seal

Finally, as with all such significant historical events, people are still debating what the real outcome of it was.

a few more thousand words

Nov 8th, 2009 Posted in travel | no comment »

Bringing the photo gallery more or less up to date with reality: San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park, the most recent trip to England, random shots of (mostly) San Francisco at nightMiddle Harbor Shoreline Park in Oakland, and the most recent trip to New York City.

Update: Today’s trip to Half Moon Bay.