A Star In A Jar


121316-niihau_sep_2007Most people have never heard of Niihau Island, and if they have they’ve long forgotten about its place in history. On December 7th, 1941, a Japanese Zero pilot who attacked Pearl Harbor crash landed on the small privately owned island near Oahu and proceeded to “occupy” it for the Japanese. The people who lived there were a mix of native Hawaiians and Japanese employees who worked for the owner of the island. The pilot was able to convince a couple of the Japanese to help him and for four days they “held” the island. Keep in mind, this was long before cell phones, interwebs, text messaging and even ubiquitous land lines. The island communicated with the Main Island via a weekly boat trip. If that often.

Eventually the pilot managed to make people mad, shot one of the native Hawaiians (it did not kill him, it only made him mad) who proceeded to bodily pick the Zero Pilot up and smash the pilots head into a stone wall, killing him. One of the Japanese natives who helped the pilot committed suicide. It’s important to note that only one or two of the Japanese on the island agreed to help the pilot, most of them either ignored him or refused.

Nevertheless, it was this little known and long forgotten incident that ended on December 13, 1941 with the pilots death, combined with the report that Roosevelt had commissioned earlier in the summer to track native Japanese in the US, that led eventually to the idea and the construction of the infamous internment camps. Under Executive Order 9066 (i.e., NOT a law passed by Congress), hundred of thousands of Japanese natives and American born children were sent to the camps, with the Supreme Court of the US even upholding the Constitutionality of the camps in its horrible Korematsu ruling

The ruling came down 6-3 and has long been considered an example of the politicization of the Court, as six of eight of Roosevelt’s appointees to the Court voted to support the Presidents Order. Were they honestly saying that the Internment Camps were Constitutional, or just convenient? It’s not a high point in American history, but it is an instructive one.

For those of us who believe that the Constitution is the Supreme Law of the Land, it’s a reminder that populist positions are the most dangerous to liberty. When the power of Government is used to carry out what is “popular” because we are scared or because we think that something is unfair, liberty is in grave danger. In the case of the Internment Camps, there was no evidence whatsoever that native Japanese in the US were spying, or committing acts of sabotage or any other anti-American activity (the only person ever arrested and convicted of spying in Hawaii was a German). In fact, one could argue that the Japanese who were here had come because they liked America. Given the restraints on Japanese (and Asian in general) immigration since 1924, the few who were here had gone through great hoops to show they wanted to be here. They came from a time when Japan and the US ad been very good friends, and had left before or fled since the militaristic government takeover in Japan for the freedom of the US.

Yet, here they were, in American Concentration Camps.

If you don’t think about anything else today, just consider that. Populist ideas, whatever they may be, using the power of government to force behavior or control existence, Right or Left, destroys liberty. Right or Left. Think about it.

Got a great eMail this week (yes, I read them now) from Buster wondering about the whole Oakland Warehouse Fire. Here’s the meat of the thought:

I feel awful about the people that lost their lives, as well as those people  they left behind who’s lives are altered forever. Here comes the but……where does personal responsibility come into play?
I’ve been hearing the clips and reading the statements of some people that claim to have lived in and visited that building talk about the unsafe conditions. Bare wiring, candles burning, stair cases partially built with pallets etc…..Now as it begins to creep into the news that Oakland and San Francisco(im sure a lot of cities are doing this) are going back thru their files to investigate similar problems. Some in the “art community” that might live in a similar situation are complaining about where are they going to live, we need to express ourselves and cant afford to live here etc…..Seems kinda NIMBY to me. 
The whole this or that “community” kinda bothers be at times, I think they’re a little divisive but thats another topic.LOL
To my way of thinking……there were a series of mistakes, mishaps and things that went wrong in this whole situation. I think the finger of blame can be pointed in a whole lot of directions. One question I would have is how are “they” going to prevent this from happening again? By they…..I mean government, property owners, lease holders and the people that in some way shape or form go into places like this.

It’s a good question about the idea of some personal responsibility here. Maybe the people who had knowledge of the danger and left didn’t feel as if the City would respond, or that they would be considered “turncoats” by the underground art community in Oakland?

121316-plasma-physicsCan I brag about myself for just a moment? Nobody is going to believe this anyway, but when I was a Junior in High School my parents got transferred to Ogden, Utah. It was culture shock. My 11th Grade biology teacher, a former minor league pitcher named Merlin Kilpatrick kinda took me under his wing a bit and since I agreed to represent the school in the regional Science Fair (nobody else would) I was made his TA and spent my sixth period each day working quietly on my own idea for what I would eventually present to the Science Fair Judges.

I’d had an idea that I literally got while stirring a cup of soup for my lunch. I noted how the material in the cup seemed to gather in the center. I had no clear understanding of gravity or fusion reactors or other issues at that point, but an idea stirred in my head (remember that this was 1979 and the so-called “Energy Crises” was still a very big deal). I called it “A Star in a Jar.” The idea was to use space dust and a spinning vortex to create a small star, say the size of a baseball or even a volleyball, to produce energy in close Earth orbit.

Anyway, the math was way beyond me, but I put together my presentation and did my best. What I remember most is that the panel knew that I was struggling to make myself clear, but they didn’t embarrass me. They asked me leading questions and they were most interested in how I came up with the idea. After the presentations and awards, which I did not win, one of them pulled me aside and told me that he thought my idea was really interesting and that while it probably wasn’t technically possible today (1979), maybe someday it would work.

And so I present to you today, an article from Space.com, “A Star In a Jar Fusion Reactor Works…”

I knew that we’d figure it out someday. Which is also why I don’t buy into the “humanity is doomed nonsense…

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Posted on December 13, 2016, in 1st Amendment, 4th Amendment, American, Constitution, History, It's Science!, Science, WWII and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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