Saturday, April 28, 2007

Baiji Chinese River Dolphin

I bought a small baiji river dolphin pendant on ebay awhile back, a souvenir.
They’re gone from the Yangtze. I learned about them reading about the Panay.


Captioned: Glacier Point looking out to the clearing clouds and setting sunlight and new snow on…
“Half Dome looks like a Dolphin’s head from this angle.” my friend says on viewing my photograph.
After a moment of study, “Yes, it’s so!” I exclaim.
(And inwardly note, They talk to you too…)

January 9, 2007

Friday, April 27, 2007

Panay December 12, 1937

I have a weblog in Yahoo Geocities that’s resided there since 2000.

Tonight I was watching Stewart (Daley Show) and Moyers on PBS yakity yaking, and Stewart on the day of the Virginia sadness did an interview of an Iraqi who had written a book about Iraq’s sadness. Now Stewart was struck by our reaction to the student’s deaths, and enquired how the Iraqis are responding to the daily massacres there.

He may well have thought to ask an Auschwitz survivor how they dealt with the day to day.

Anyway, Stewart wrestled with thoughts I had explored in my Panay weblog, which I quote from here:

update: July 10, 2014...the link doesn't link to the weblog anymore...maybe I can find the old disk with it, and make another...there's plenty now on the web...just google: USS Panay


Dear reader,

Reader seems kinda stuffy, how about Webizen!
The web's an irreverent place, and maybe irrelevant too at times, which is how I feel making things for it--an irreverent irrelevant! And I'm being more lighthearted here about a subject that is solemn than maybe I should. If you are familiar with the Panay Incident, and Nanking, and all that happened in China then, as a student of history you know what I'm hedging about.
Initially, I set out to write about the Panay as a subject for a project assignment at a local community college. My task was to make a four page booklet to familiarize myself with offset printing. My goal was to see how things go from computer to print. Those steps when the data becomes film, film becomes plate, plate goes through the printing machine, were something of a mystery. The subject of the project was unimportant, it could be anything a student chose. The focus was on the process. So out of the blue, sorta, I picked the Panay.
I had read about the Panay years before. What lodged in my head was the tale of a little ship that was bombed by the Japanese way before Pearl Harbor, and became notorious as a foreshadowing of World War 2. My mind's eye recalled the story happening in the harbor of some Chinese city that was being bombed by the Japanese, and an errant pilot, deliberately or accidentally, bombed the Panay.
Well, clearly I had forgotten a lot of the details of the story I read. It was Perry's magazine story in American Heritage. But the ghist I had was probably as much as anyone does who even knows about the Panay.
But in December of 1999 I saw in the newspaper a notation about the Panay, one of those "This day in history..." "On December 12, 1937, the USS Panay was bombed." And I thought, that's nice, some journalist remembering the Panay. And at the time I was following the war in Yugoslavia, and the bombing of the Chinese Embassy. That bombing, I thought, was a little like the Panay upside down. We made the mistake, we made the apology, we paid the retribution. But we, America, aren't the Japanese in 1930's China. I'm certain of that myself, but I can see where a billion Chinese might not agree. And if the machination of the CIA make you cringe, then don't feel alone, as there are likely many Americans in sympathy. Oddly, the CIA, according to one source, got its start in China of this time. But more on that later...
So, I announce to the class that my project subject was the Panay, and I went off to the library. I found Perry's book easy, and old microfilms of London Times telling the story easy. At 53 I still start fishing in the library catalog and Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature-- the old fashioned way. But in the library too were banks of computers and I'm familiar with going online, being an old GEnie webizen, and I started using the search engines. I hadn't really used the web since it's inception. What a marvel! Needless to say, my Panay subject took on new dimension.
Here, I might announce, anyone who has ever written about the Panay before needs to do it all over again! And you know, that may hold true for all the history stories. The web fills everything out. People who have the first hand stories, the old photos, the letters, the governments that have the archives, just all kinds of things, are being made available on the web.
Quickly, for me, the focus of my Panay project went from the process to the content. The class is over now, the four page booklet made (best I could anyway!), and I'm still studying the Panay.
Why is it so engrossing?, you might ask here. Well, I hadn't realized that that "Chinese city" was Nanking. As one author puts it, the fall of Nanking on December 12, 1937, dwarfed the bombing of the Panay. Heck, it dwarfs everything. It's Hiroshima, a Nagasaki, an Auschwitz--the fall of Nanking was a holocaust--China of the thirties and forties was a holocaust.
There has always been something disproportionate about America's story telling. The story of the Panay in the 1937 media far outweighs the story of Nanking. And that hasn't changed much, the story of one lost plane got more media coverage of the Yugoslavia raids then it likely deserved. And what I mean by "deserved" is that history needs to be told as proportionally as possible. Otherwise, no one knows what really happened. An unbalanced telling of history isn't lying, or covering up, the Japanese still don't want to talk or hear about Nanking and the rest, anymore than America wants Hiroshima presented as the wrong thing to have done. Nations do that sort of thing, just like individuals. Dwelling on the awful, is, well, awful, and folk everywhere avoid it if they can. And heroic stories of one downed pilot, or one small ship in a far away land, are, simply, what we recall on Memorial Day. But the truth, somehow, has to be available, and there in the history stories for those who seek it, as student's, as soldiers, as politicians, as anyone for whom truth matters. And it's never easy to find out what really happened for any event, no matter how recent.
What is usually out of whack, is the proportions. We call the Panay bombing an Incident, Japan refers to the whole China campaign, as an Incident. And out of whack proportions can wreck havoc with history telling. Here I might refer to Robert Graves' poem, "The Persian Version"*. And America's storytelling, because of the disproportions, doesn't tell the truth. It just doesn't. America tells stories, very good ones, but they are not proportional to the history that made them.
And since I got started in on this Panay project, that has been my simplest goal, to get the proportions right.


I hadn’t thought to link up to my other web writings here, and it’s not likely in the progress of this Tree in the Door Blog I will refer to them. They were done when they were done, and belong where they are…this is something different. But the link above takes one to the Panay Project Weblog, and a search of Google Groups: dsharpness, will turn up my posts there, mostly in the jfk group. Panay led to JFK. Sort by oldest date first in that group and the over three hundred posts I have will read in a kindof story fashion. Three hundred is nothing compared to the other posters there! With the JFK posts I needed editorial tension which the moderators provided, and the other people who post there. I think they know I appreciate that, and it was a reciprocal kindof thing. That’s the big plus of the google groups at it’s best, the interplay. But at it’s worst, which is it’s most common state!, it’s just a wall of graffiti.
I’ve probably gone as far with JFK as I can, but will add someday to the Panay Weblog.

Remember the Panay

April 27, 2007
...........*The Persian Version..........
Truth-loving Persians do not dwell upon
The trivial skirmish fought near Marathon.
As for the Greek theatrical tradition
Which represents that summer's expedition
Not as a mere reconnaisance in force
By three brigades of foot and one of horse
(Their left flank covered by some obsolete
Light craft detached from the main Persian fleet)
But as a grandiose, ill-starred attempt
To conquer Greece - they treat it with contempt;
And only incidentally refute
Major Greek claims, by stressing what repute
The Persian monarch and the Persian nation
Won by this salutary demonstration:
Despite a strong defence and adverse weather
All arms combined magnificently together.

Robert Graves
Well...forgot to post up yesteday, Remember the Panay, though Panay and the Related Matters were in my thoughts...David, 12/13/09

Saturday, April 21, 2007


All day at work I try to latch on to an idea and hold onto it,
And later, much later, that night try to put it into words.
Work is simple, but my thoughts’ work while I work isn’t.
I often delay a long time, sometime a very long time.

Before I make a painting. I just mull it over,
And it’s just what I do when I write.

Five years to do this one:

One Owl's branch
One Bat’s bough.

Ah, the late TV is on while I write,
Like the music playing in art class.

Here’s one painting I’m working on:

Delacroix did a painting of a sleeping tiger
with mountains in the background
And I’ve photoshopped the tiger into a mountain lion,
and the mountains now are the Chathedral range
seen from the ridge at May Lake.

I hesitate to paint it, a watercolor, it will be really cool if I can pull it off.

Now, I had an idea at work two days ago,
And it would grow from the scene
of my walking in the dark back to my cabin after work.
This is always some walk, as I walk directley towards the Falls,
which now in the spring is very loud.

Oh, I’d lost the idea, but now have it, it’s that sound….
back to the mulling with that.

Generally the blog here is an outgrowth of the first post, Souvenir,
and I’ve wanted the posts to stay with that.
But in this one I’ve just drifted.


The horned owl was the star of Valley a few days,
The shuttle slowing to stop for a looksee…
Second hollow up in the black oak, sitting like a sentry.

A photo I wish I’d taken,
The camera tripod legs un-extended,
A father leaning down to help his son.

My 3x optical digital whines
And I “clikitched” the great horned owl.
Today a 12x is coming in the mail!


When I was at Lake Ireland, last June?,
Israel has just started the offensive into Lebanon,
And one of the TV evangelists was calling it world war 3.
Mostly I leave the news behind on my hikes,
but it is always a ‘related matter’. (a dbl back to Souvenir)

Jessica Biel exchanges birthday wishes with David Letterman,
He’s my age…
“Some guys have all the luck…”

Friday, April 20, 2007

Red Dawn

Well, Red Dawn was on, and I google blog searched Red Dawn. Tried to post to another Blog but post wouldn’t go. Hmmph.

Iraq has become a religious war, Christians and Jews against Islam. Afghanistan too.

Islam isn’t a monolith, and the factions within it are now at war with one another too.

And too, different religious factions of Jews and Christians are in disagreement over the wars.

Red Dawn isn’t about a religious war, but wars are all alike.

I like the movie, find it entertaining and dialog poignant throughout. And it’s outside…I like the scenery and moods of the weather.

Monday, April 16, 2007



Waiting at the bus stop…
Walking with canes they sit beside me.
There’s a red headed woodpecker. She says.
Where? He asks.
They speak slowly.
On top of the post, it has a black body and red head. She says

Hokusai learned landscape perspective and chiaroscuro, new to Japanese art and tradition, from Dutch artists. Dutch trade goods were wrapped with newspapers illustrated with engravings.

From the news, a madman guns down students at a Virginia university.

Later. Van Gogh and other Impressionists learned color and flat picture techniques from woodblock prints used to wrap Japanese trade goods.

Last night on PBS back to back shows, first a documentary on Bin Laden, the madman behind 911, the second the beginning of a long documentary on Auschwitz, and the madmen behind the genocide.

A Navy office during the holidays erected a 12 foot menorah in one of Saddam Hussein’s palaces.

In the Great Wave by Hokusai the fisherman sit serene in their long sleek boats, dwarfed, as Mt. Fuji is in the perspective distance, by the great wave.

"From the age of six I had a mania for drawing the shapes of things. When I was fifty I had published a universe of designs. but all I have done before the age of seventy is not worth bothering with. At seventy five I'll have learned something of the pattern of nature, of animals, of plants, of trees, birds, fish and insects. When I am eighty you will see real progress. At ninety I shall have cut my way deeply into the mystery of life itself. At a hundred I shall be a marvelous artist. At a hundred and ten everything I create; a dot, a line, will jump to life as never before. To all of you who are going to live as long as I do, I promise to keep my word. I am writing this in my old age. I used to call myself Hokosai, but today I sign my self 'The Old Man Mad About Drawing." – Hokusai

Hokusai was disappointed not to reach one hundred.

Something of the pattern…

In the mist, on the big steps to Vernal Falls, I try to manually focus the 200 mm lens on a ground squirrel running down towards me…this is impossible. The digital point and shoot with a 12x telephoto auto focus lens is the next purchase.

For a fine essay on Hokusai see this site:

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Komodo Dragon

Komodo Dragon
(Illustration: Maxfield Parrish, Cadmus Sowing the Dragon's Teeth)

It’s on DK Discovery Kids, the Discovery Channel's kid's channel,
I watched the strolling drooling tongue flicking Komodo Dragon.

The tongue flicking is to smell with, it tastes scents in the air,
And the drool, ugh, is septic, infectious, poisonous stuff,
Along with the dragon's teeth….

”Running towards the tuft of trees, he beheld the head and fiery eyes of an immense serpent or dragon, with the widest jaws that ever a dragon had, and a vast many rows of horribly sharp teeth. Before Cadmus could reach the spot, this pitiless reptile had killed his poor companions, and was busily devouring them, making but a mouthful of each man.”

The Dragon’s Teeth
Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Komodo Dragon had bitten on the back leg a water buffalo, a grievous wound, infected from the dragon’s mouth, and the buffalo stumbled along, and then fell.

""What shall I do?" cried he aloud. "It were better for me to have been devoured by the dragon, as my poor companions were."
"Cadmus," said a voice but whether it came from above or below him, or whether it spoke within his own breast, the young man could not tell--"Cadmus, pluck out the dragon's teeth, and plant them in the earth.""

The Dragon’s Teeth
Nathaniel Hawthorne

The water buffalo, after suffering from the infection for fifteen days, died and was devoured by the Komodo Dragon.

"A moment afterwards, the whole surface of the ground was broken by a multitude of polished brass helmets, coming up like a crop of enormous beans. So rapidly did they grow, that Cadmus now discerned the fierce countenance of a man beneath every one."

The Dragon’s Teeth
Nathaniel Hawthorne

In the news, a boy with a bad tooth whose family was poor. An infection set in that wasn’t attended to. Hospitalised, the boy almost recovered, but told his mom at the end of one of her visits to pray for him. She didn’t see him again alive, as he worsened that evening and died.

The story in all the news prompted families everywhere to call dentists.

"Up sprouted also a great many trumpeters; and with the first breath that they drew, they put their brazen trumpets to their lips, and sounded a tremendous and ear-shattering blast, so that the whole space, just now so quiet and solitary, reverberated with the clash and clang of arms, the bray of warlike music, and the shouts of angry men. So enraged did they all look, that Cadmus fully expected them to put the whole world to the sword. How fortunate would it be for a great conqueror, if he could get a bushel of the dragon's teeth to sow!
"Cadmus," said the same voice which he had before heard, "throw a stone into the midst of the armed men.""

The Dragon’s Teeth
Nathaniel Hawthorne

I am asked if there is ham in the split pea soup. No, I hesitate….
Are you sure? They ask again.
And I look at the questioner….for a moment, are they afraid? To reveal their faith?
Yes…I’m sure…it’s okay.

The shadow of fear and prejudice passed like vultures’ shadows.

"So Cadmus seized a large stone, and flinging it into the middle of the earth army, saw it strike the breastplate of a gigantic and fierce-looking warrior. Immediately on feeling the blow, he seemed to take it for granted that somebody had struck him; and, uplifting his weapon, he smote his next neighbor a blow that cleft his helmet asunder, and stretched him on the ground. In an instant, those nearest the fallen warrior began to strike at one another with their swords, and stab with their spears. The confusion spread wider and wider. Each man smote down his brother, and was himself smitten down before he had time to exult in his victory. The trumpeters, all the while, blew their blasts shriller and shriller; each soldier shouted a battle cry, and often fell with it on his lips. It was the strangest spectacle of causeless wrath, and of mischief for no good end, that had ever been witnessed; but, after all, it was neither more foolish nor more wicked than a thousand battles that have since been fought, in which men have slain their brothers with just as little reason as these children of the dragon's teeth. It ought to be considered, too, that the dragon people were made for nothing else; whereas other mortals were born to love and help one another."

The Dragon’s Teeth
Nathaniel Hawthorne

Mother Komodo Dragon’s take great pains to lay eggs. Two pregnant dragons fight over a nesting spot for days. After the eggs hatch, the dragons abandon the baby dragons.

"The five old soldiers of the dragon's teeth grew very fond of these small urchins, and were never weary of showing them how to shoulder sticks, flourish wooden swords, and march in military order, blowing a penny trumpet, or beating an abominable rub-a-dub upon a little drum.
But King Cadmus, lest there should be too much of the dragon's tooth in his children's disposition, used to find time from his kingly duties to teach them their A B C--which he invented for their benefit, and for which many little people, I am afraid, are not half so grateful to him as they ought to be."

The Dragon’s Teeth
Nathaniel Hawthorne

For Hawthorne’s whole story see this site:

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Rosco Lee Brown Has Died

it was a room of many occupied seats sloped up to the room back from the

..........and zerbe and browne.........................


R tic
u late d

ee cummings

Very well I thought sitting in the back
Taking notes as it was a kind of a assignment to go and listen for Mr. Farzan’s class.
I think I was the only one that went, it was a little class, eight or so if we all showed.
And we were poets,

well, dbl e, blogger has it's own notion of formatting!!
I'll get along fine,
With my captals at the beginning of lines flush left,
but it will take your ingenuity to do what you do
placing letters here and................ there.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

On Reading Blogs

On Reading Blogs

I had one of the first, but it resides somewhere forgotten, bit dusty,
But what to make of them now like countless stars in Cyberspace?
Oh, I know, they are like dream visits,
The Halloween journeys of sleepy heads,
We slip and slide inside one another like amnesiacs
Until we log off, awake, and feel safe at home behind walls of bone.

January 27, 2007

Mr. Roboto

Mr. Roboto

From the afternoon on PBS “How things are made.”
Watched twice as it came on twice, (result of limited programming budget!)
Appropriately it would seem insomuch it’s about robots making things,
Over and over,
Everything it would seem…
Ball bearings, lost wax castings, and a slew of robot assemblies and shaping--
Candy, gasoline cans, plywood, fabric, so many things memory fails…memory chips!…
And this last segment a continuous collage set to jazz music…
Now, this fuels my suspicion that rock and roll, jazz, and the like…
Though cool, individually varied, and thought unique,
Are in truth the music of these robot machines,
Repetitive….not unlike I’d say my job putting food on shelves.
Old rock and roll plays from the ceiling speakers all day,
A sound track for my work like the sound track jazz for the robotics.

From the evening on PBS the story of Jonestown in Guyana,
The religious cult and its suicidal end, the murders of the congressman Ryan
And his fact finding entourage, told through the eyes of a handful of survivors---
A sound track of moody music like CSI Miami.
Everyday Jim Jones told the news from speakers on poles to his followers.
The only news of the outside world to come to their jungle redoubt.
Congressman Ryan wanted to know if members could leave,
A few said they couldn’t in secret messages to him.
Jones, confronted, said, “They can leave.” But in truth his hold was such
That children would inform on parents who wanted to leave.
It was Hotel California…no one can leave.
Some of this I’ve seen in History…
A young Castro in Cuba would go on television hours on end,
And leaving Cuba has been problematic for fifty years!
Castro methods derived from Nazi Germany.
A conspiracy killed Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Robert Kennedy,
Jones told his followers,
A repetitive refrain…a snare to make the government of the people a predatory villain.
For Hitler it was the Jews…which the net has given nourishment..
The Serpent Conspiracy…
Joy was in Jonestown, the people sang,
As they did in Nazi Germany…
And the fascist songs of Mussolini’s Italy—
Collections of songs composed in the Jewish concentration camps are being compiled,
Whole operas and symphonies written down on tissue…
They sang in hope and determination…

We can’t leave Iraq
We’re told again and again and again,
Like one of those blessed robotic machines in its dance to Jazz.

Today in the news all traffic in Baghdad is forbidden,
Machines at a standstill!!
And there was a protest parade…
They tore the Stars and Stripes, and to get Uncle Sam’s goat
Made a carpet of the flowery flag
And then trampled across it.
Arabia has a kind of genius for insults…

They don’t understand, we can’t leave,
And the Congressmen are at great risk.

And from the San Francisco Chronicle
A Jewish partisan of the war in the Polish forests
Has come forward with her story as a teen…
She’s 82.

A few survivors relate the tale still…

Oh! Newspapers…that was in the robotic segment too…
How fast the pages printed collated folded.
I unfold the Chronicle, remove my glasses in scorn of bifocals,
And put my nearsighted eyes a few inches from the print at lunch and break…
The tourist’s hubbub, hubbub. emptying the shelves, surrounds me,
And rock and roll sings from the ceiling speakers.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Pocket Pair

Pocket Pair

2am and Jennifer Tilly is playing poker wearing sunglasses.
I’ll fall asleep soon along with all the television audience.
In our dreams we'll be transfixed, least we walk about or fall out of bed,
A dread paralysis when dream monsters attack.
Poker faced the players study their cards.
Earlier Jennifer was so talkative on the late night talk show,
And now so quiet. The game brings people’s personalities out.
All across America the audience focuses on the turn of the cards,
Chance and good or bad fortune.
Bad fortune for the two Iraqi kids pictured in the news.
They were sprayed by shrapnel from a bomb explosion,
Afterwards photographed wounded sitting together, their faces in tears.
America, put this picture in your wallet.
Asked, What have you got in your wallet?
You can show this picture of a pair of Iraqi kids sitting together in tears.
The poker games is back after a commercial break,
Jennifer loses a close big pot and laughs and talks to relieve the stress.
An audience cant say much, applause, cheers, a startled OHHH!,
Maybe a few individual whistles and devoted expressions.
It’s a bit like being dream transfixed. Jennifer is lovely when she is talking,
Poker isn’t her forte. She could gather those kids to her and dry their tears.
But then, we should all be sitting together everyday in tears transfixed.
Transfixed in another fashion indeed we are,
And we channel surf about when these two kids are all that should matter,
And we are in our seats, an American audience,
Not about to walkabout, or fall out of bed.