Monthly Archives: November 2015

Revisiting Nuremberg trials

NUREMBERG, Germany — It’s an eerie feeling, standing above the actual courtroom where possibly recent history’s most infamous trial took place. Through the years there have been attempts to keep the ‘40s structure suitable for visitors’ tours, but there’s evidence some of the improvements didn’t take place until possibly the past two decades.

We’re in Nuremberg, Germany (locals elide the “re” and pronounce it simply “Numberg,”) the site of a trial of some of history’s best-known operatives in World War II. In a trial that lasted months, of the dozen defendants, some were acquitted, some received mild sentences, some more severe punishment such as hangings, and others — like the greatest villain of modern times — Adolf Hitler, spared the government time and trouble by committing suicide.

Although we weren’t around in the ‘30s, many people know about conditions leading up to and away from WWII. Things were rationed; coupons, stingily doled out, enabled families in America to a modest amount of sugar, lard and flour. Once, in my pre-teen years, I recall being given a sip of coffee from Mom’s cup. I gagged one time when the spoonful of sugar suddenly had a familiar taste of — salt! Mom said that was the only condiment available that week, and she’d rather stir something into her coffee than nothing at all. Continue reading

More muscle over here

It’s unsettling to see so much unrest in an institution that has been dear to us. I watched a clip of a lot of tussling on the University of Missouri-Columbia campus at the time the university’s president, Tim Wolfe and a chancellor, R. Bowen Loftin, resigned their jobs in response to complaints by students at the mostly-white university.

The clincher, according to the media, came when some 30 black students threatened not to play in the Tigers’ football game against Brigham Young University. A boycott by the black athletes, which presumably would have forced the forfeiture of the game, would have cost Missouri a million dollars.

The athletes joined the boycott in response to complaints by other minorities at the campus who complained that complaints of racism were not being taken seriously by the upper administration at the 28,000-student university.

Disturbing also is the treatment of members of the press (yes, even the student press) by some of the protesters. An assistant professor in the mass media department seemed the most vocal in rallying fellow protestors against the press. (Does anyone get the irony here? The First Amendment is mostly about freedom of the press, and one of the school’s own faculty members leads the movement to physically remove a member of the press.) The young reporter, armed with a microphone, tried to explain his purpose and his presence. Continue reading

Heidi game revisited

It’s hard to imagine that years after a fiasco involving a television network that other geniuses would produce a rerun of that shameful act.

How many readers can recall the infamous “Heidi Game”? It took place in the fall of 1968 and involved two leading (at the time) National Football League teams, the Oakland Raiders and the New York Jets. There was a virtual rerun of the “Heidi Game” this past Sunday, although not quite of the magnitude of the one 47 years ago.

Let me explain:

In 1968, the Raiders trailed the Jets, 32-29 late in the game. Time was running out and network big shots were panicky over the probability that the length of the game would delay the start of other programing later that evening. In those days, experts say, football games seldom took longer than two and a half hours. But because of dropped passes, penalties, poundings and promos, this game took longer, and NBC executives decided to honor the promise to begin the Heidi special on time. Continue reading

That blasted password

Arrrggg! That blasted password! For as long as I’ve paraded my technological ineptness, I’ve been cursed by the password, that brilliant invention designed to help people along but now behaves like a bank vault.

Seriously, does a password ever do anything but prevent the user — the poor sap who paid good money for the computer — from gaining access?

Wouldn’t it be great if we could come up with a single password for each application: for getting mail, for doing financial transactions, for playing games, for getting into Facebook?

As a solution, how about a game we used to play — I can’t recall its name, if it ever had one — but we called it “Getting Warmer.” Generally we kids would hide something from a classmate at Immaculate Conception School. It was fun until our homeroom teacher, Sister Mary Te Pego, deemed that the game was cruel and took advantage of others. Continue reading