Sam WHITBY #205

Letters to the Editor

from Sam WHITBY in CMO #205

@...    Please send my congratulations to the Nishita family. What exciting news! I certainly hope that they will all be well and happy. Mr. Murakami wrote me a very nice letter and kindly attached some images of flowers, some of which reminded me strongly of the orchids that grow wild near here. I answered with thanks and the hope that I had not been too much trouble by requiring translation.

@...    Americans get confused about that sort of thing all the time, so I am impressed that you noticed it. Our dear country is made up of people from so many diverse backgrounds that our "usage" of the English language has become much looser than it was when I studied the language in high school and college. We are tolerant of much variety. Your English in the CMO is clearly understandable, and it bears the imprint of your personality, which your readers know and accept and value, so I would not worry too much about trying to fit yourself into the rules imposed by some abstract explanation of the language. If your writing lost the mark of your personality because of something that I had done to it, I would have done you a dis-service. As a veteran of the old school way of writing, I will be glad to look at anything that you write, but there is little need to worry about what you will write without my assistance.
  Thank you for letting me know that the Richmond shooting news has reached all the way to Japan. I have some knowledge of both the victims and the perpetrators, and I just want to throw up my hands in despair that such a horrible thing could happen in Richmond. It is especially troubling because the authorities knew that it could happen and had taken steps to prevent it, without being able to do so. This is a subject for a letter in itself, so I will leave it for later. At least it looks like the victims will recover.
  I will be looking forward to CMO 204.

(16 June 1998 email)

@...   Attached you will find an image of a circumzenithal (solar) arc. I took the photo at Nags Head, North Carolina, near where the Wright brothers flew at Kitty Hawk, in December, 1996. The arc looks superficially similar to a rainbow, but it was due to ice crystals, and it was almost directly overhead. There was a twenty-two degree halo that day, and there were two bright and colorful sun dogs, which were out of the field of the photo.
  I doubt that this image will be useful in the CMO, but I thought you might be interested.
  Saturday is our Independence (from England) Day. Perhaps we will get to see some pretty fire works this year.

(2 July 1998 email)

@...   Thank you for the message. It is always good to hear from you.
  Let me just be brief this time, for a thunderstorm is approaching, and I do not want to use the computer or be on the terminal during the storm. We also have had hot weather. In the early hours of the morning, when one would like to observe Jupiter and Saturn, it has already been so warm and humid that it is uncomfortable and the eyepieces fog up.
  About the transfers of the Japanese players, remember that the great Babe Ruth was traded during his career, and he still hit his home runs.
  The lightning is striking so nearby that I will "chicken out" and turn off the computer for now and perhaps return to it later.

(4 July 1998 email)

@...   Here is the rest of what I started to write last night.
  The storm last night brought a short but heavy downpour of rain, enough to rain out the local fire works. There was no serious damage that we have heard of.
  We also are following the news of the fires in Florida. I heard this afternoon that about a hundred miles of Interstate 95 have been closed, and many people have been evacuated. I am not sure exactly what role the weather has played in this disaster. There has been some evidence of arson.
  A newscaster reported that 11 Virginians have been killed this week end in car accidents.
  The logic of baseball trades is rather mysterious to me. I played the game when in school and enjoyed doing so. Since then I have had only a casual interest. If I want to see my father during the World Series, I have to pretend to be more interested. Numerous factors can enter into decisions to trade a player. Sometimes a team will have several good players at one position and sacrifice one of them in order to get a good player in a position in which the team is weak. Sometimes a team will trade an expensive older player for two or more less expensive younger ones. The decision to do this can be affected by the player's popularity with the home town fans. Sometimes the manager and the player will just not get along personally, and the manager will arrange a trade. I think that Babe Ruth drank and played around too much for his manager, and he wanted a commitment from his team that he could himself manage when he became to old to play the game. The conflicts could not be worked out, so he was traded. I do not keep up with sports news enough to know what is going on at the present set of trades.
  It has come to my attention that John Rogers, who is THE authority on Jupiter, and rightly so, is satisfied that the ovals BC and DE have merged. That opinion carries a lot of weight with me. Some others have wondered, as I did, whether something else might be going on. It is a very interesting time to be observing the Giant Planet. If only the sky would clear, I could observe more and speculate less.
  Tyler is talking better and better every day. It is just wonderful to have him and be able to watch him grow up.

(5 July 1998 email)

@...   I did some checking and found that Ruth began his career in Baltimore, then went to play for the Boston Red Sox, then the New York Yankees, and finally played for the Boston Braves. He ended his career as a coach for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Some of my co-workers seem to believe that they are walking sports encyclopedias. I had to consult one, the Britannica. I remember seeing John Goodman play Ruth in a movie which I enjoyed, but the Britannica seemed like a more trustworthy source of facts.
  You have taught me a good lesson about the word "trade". Used in reference to people, it connotes that people are being treated like property, doesn't it? Being from the Old South and being aware of the darker side of our history, I should have understood the connotation before now.
  This whole area is full of Civil War sites such as the Battle of the Crater. At another time I will try to tell you about some of them. Some of them are in the minds of the citizens.
  I and my co-workers are very aware of the change in attitude that you mentioned, for it has occurred in this country too. There seems to be little loyalty of any kind. Not very long ago a worker could reasonably expect to stay with one company for his/her whole career. Now we are told to expect to be laid off whenever it is advantageous for the company to lay us off, to expect to work for five or more companies during our careers, and few people are loyal to a company that will not be loyal to them. There is an "every man for himself" mentality that bothers me. This dog-eat-dog mentality has even penetrated the government of Va. A manager may very well tell his workers to just do what they are told or find another job. This is in the land of the free and the home of the brave.
  My father says that this is the best economic time that he has ever seen. I know it is the best that I have seen. I find myself asking if these (in America) boom times are the result of the ruthlessness of the management climate. I do not want to believe that good times require that we cause large numbers of people to suffer in order for other people to make a lot of money.
  I have admired the ideal of loyalty to the company and by the company, an ideal that in my imagination existed in Japan. It is not a pleasant thought that Japan may become more like America, treating its labor force like so much raw material to be used up and thrown away. It is none of my business, but I think and worry about it.
  You see, you have touched a nerve.
  We recently had a visit from the British ship the Endeavor. I was not able to see it in person, but your contributor David Graham sent me photos (which I treasure) of the ship when it was berthed in Whitby, England.
  Thank you for your comments about Jupiter and the concept of the soliton. If I understand you, we may see BE eject another oval like itself, or like DE. It will be interesting to see what happens.
  Good luck with your driving.

(8 July 1998 email)

@...   I have been up early this morning, trying to observe Jupiter. The seeing has been rather poor, so I did not attempt a drawing. Using blue and orange filters, one can see that the Great Red Spot retains some of its red hue, although it is narrow in the north/south dimension and hard to see at all with the red filter. The nearby SEB has streaks that are clearly darker in blue than in red. The SEB has prominent rifts preceding and following the spot. The NEB also looks active, differentiated into north and south segments, probably by rifts. One longs for good seeing.
  Best wishes from Hopewell,

(13 July 1998 email)

Samuel WHITBY ( VA, USA ) :