Why I can't celebrate Veterans Day

Yesterday, November 11, was Veterans Day. I dId not celebrate. Never do. 

We grow up being told we owe our liberty, freedom, our very way of life to the brave veterans of war, and those who gave their lives. And surely there's much to be said for this. Without the soldiers of the American Revolution, the Civil War, WWI and WWII would there even be a nation? 

Probably not. And what of these mostly young, mostly men? They've risked and often given all by merely heeding the patriotic call of their nation. All this is true so surely we owe them a great, even unpayable debt.

So that's all on one side of the ledger. But let's push on and look at the other side of the ledger.

When I was 10 or 12, in the thick of the Vietnam War (1967-9) a thought occured to me watching the gruesome evening news with daily body counts and senseless carnage. Surely the Vietcong were just as brave, just a sure they were fighting the good and just fight as our own American boys. Over the years I've thought of this over and over. In the case of Vietnam we Americans were clearly the bad guys. And eventually we got our butts kicked.

But even WWII has the same problem. The rank and file Nazi or Japanese soldier was no less dedicated, no less convinced they were in the right, fighting for the good of their respective homelands than the Soviet, British, Chinese and American soldiers who eventually did prevail.

Confederate soldiers were no less dedicated and fought no less bravely the Union soldiers did. And what of the American Revolution? The colonists were not nearly universal in their opposition to England. Had we lost, or never fought, that war there would still be a great nation here. Just look at Canada. Life is not so bad in Canada.

cvining
Commentary
Bernd T. Matthias: a few stories of my academic grandfather

Bernd T. Matthias was my academic grandfather as he was thesis advisor my thesis advisor, Robert N Shelton. I was in the same room as Matthias only a few times and never had so much as a conversation with him. Even so he had a strong influence on me, and I'm grateful for that. I thought I would put down some of the stories I remember about him. He was a remarkable scientist with encyclopedic knowledge of the properties of materials and uncanny scientific instincts, which I hope to illustrate here. For a more complete biography see this link:

    https://nap.nationalacademies.org/read/5406/chapter/14

My first indirect encounter with Matthias

I joined Shelton's solid state physics group in Ames, IA in 1978 to study superconductivity and magnetism. Bob (I always called him Bob and he never corrected me though everyone else called him Robert) had just arrived in Ames and was building a lab from empty rooms with concrete floors. I felt I needed a lot of hands on experience and saw the required building of equipment as an opportunity. 

About the first real project Bob put me on involved the family of ternary Rare Earth Rhodium Borides typified by YRh4B4. Before Matthias physicists had studied superconductivity in nearly every element, and nearly every binary compound consisting of any combination of two elements. The prevailing view was that compounds of three elements (called ternary compounds) would be chemically more complex but exhibit no new physics compared to the simpler materials. Matthias had shown that view was wrong, so as I was getting started the new area of ternary superconductivity was just getting going.

cvining
Commentary
the Irish have no culture. cvining

The Irish have no culture.

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Despite tbe fact he married an Irish woman, and we now know his biological father was Irish. 

Moderation cvining

Don’t take moderation too far, moderation should not be taken to extremes.”

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It's in the script cvining

It's in the script

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His response while watching something on TV, when a character does something foolish and his daughter asks aloud "why would anyone do that?"

My chance to what? cvining

After dinner, Rita turned to Theron and said: you missed your chance.

Theron: Chance to what (of course he replied).

Rita: Chance to avoid growing old. The  only way to avoid growing old is to die young, and you missed your chance on that one.

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circa Theron's 65th birthday, 1979 in Gainesville, FL

Jesus H Christ cvining

Jesus H Christ

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Dad had just the one go-to curse, and when he used it you knew he was serious and gave him a wide berth

Migration of this website from Drupal 9 to Drupal 10

Submitted by cvining on

Today I declare this website upgraded from Drupal 9 to Drupal 10.  In most ways the upgrade went smouthy, and certainly was easier than previous major version upgrades.

Still, the Theme was using isn't available in Drupal 10, so i had to choose and configure a new theme. That was harder than it should be IMHO.

Harder was getting Quotes to work as I'd like. Formatting was tRicky.

My impression is that the Drupal community has moved much more to large, enterprise sites rather than the smaller sites lIke mine. Frankly, i would go with WordPress if i were starting out today, I'm even tempted to make a static archive of the current  site and starting over with WordPress. 

But for now, this is where I am.

Commentary

Mondays are for waves

Submitted by cvining on

On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays we use the wave theory; on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays we think in streams of flying energy quanta or corpuscles.

Citation

in Electrons & Ether Waves : being the twenty-third Robert Boyle lecture, on 11th May 1921, Oxford University Press, 1921, p. 11.