Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
As Hurricane Sandy churned its way toward Mt Vernon, I thought about how much weather forecast technology has changed since George Washington's time in the late 1700s. This, as I prepared to give the Washington, DC chapter of the CCNY Alumni Association, a tour of this historic sight...on a marvelous autumn day in October. As a Meteorology major, I graduated from CCNY in June of 1961, to embark on a 40 year career in Meteorology, that started with earning MS and PhD degrees from Penn State University, also in Meteorology. The storm was in the news and my charges all wanted to know what would happen......From their fellow CCNY grad...who just happened to be a Meteorologist. So, here was my lecture as we waited for the group to collect.
In the late 1700s, the only tools that a weather forecaster had were his eyes and a barometer. (Yes, virtually all scientists of that time would have been males. Thus, the his above). On this October day (October 27), he would have seen falling pressure on the barometer. And....high, thin clouds in the sky. Both would have warned him of worsening weather. But, in fact, as the afternoon wore on, the skies brightened. Maybe things would not be so bad after all.
He would have been in a quandary about what to tell George about tomorrow;s weather. What to expect on the way Io church on Sunday....15 miles north in Alexandria.
Let alone next week for crop and house maintenance work.
The next 100 years saw the emergence of teletype machines to improve communication.
Now our forecaster could see weather to the west as well as overhead. And, on this day, he would have seen fair weather to the west. Since weather normally moves west to east in the US, our forecaster might have been inclined to predict improving weather at Mt Vernon over the next few days. No problem for George's trip to church in Alexandra on Sunday. And, maybe a good time for outdoor work on the farm next week. Although by Lincoln's;s time, George was long gone as was the farm.....
Weinstein's Time (Pardon me for equating myself with them.)
The beginning of my meteorology career saw the introduction of weather radar and satellites. Now, a weather forecaster could not only see to the west, but, also to the south and east. And, there was trouble there. A hurricane was off shore and moving north. Combined with the cold high over the US Midwest and another high over Greenland, this spelled trouble for Mt Vernon. A Synoptic Meteorologist of that day would have predicted serious weather for all of the Mid and North Atlantic states, including Mt Vernon. But, the timing and intensity of the storm would have been unknown. Bad, and next week would be all he could say with confidence. He might have fallen back on past storms for a clue. Some called this "Analog" forecasting. Some simply called it "experience". But, no two storms are ever the same.
(I might add, that I was never a forecaster, so I was never faced with this task. Instead, I was working in research, to improve weather forecasting. Most said I would always have a job.)
Over the past 50 years the technology advance has been in computer power and numerical weather prediction models. Now we can pin down the intensity and timing of such storms. In this case the predictions were for 40 - 60 MPH winds and 6 - 10 inches of rain. All to occur between Monday and Tuesday....at Mt Vernon. By now, George would have been able to dri\ve to church in Alexandria on Sunday. But, would have been well advised to return to Mt Vernon quickly to oversea the batten downing of the farm for the impending deluge.......As people all over the Mid and North Atlantic states were doing. We were all preparing for the storm of the century....or the "Frankinstorm" as it was called, coming the day before Halloween.
So, over the past 250 or so years, weather forecasting technology, and knowledge, has progressed from the eyeball and the barometer, to a complex set of satellite and radar observations and computer models.
In George Washington's time, the storm would have been largely a surprise, at least in its intensity and destructive power. Today, we were prepared.
That is not to say we had no problems from this storm. A few lives were lost in the Mt Vernon area, and many more were, and still are being, effected by loss of power. And there was much destruction of property. More lives would probably been lost in George;s time, and there would almost surely have been greater damage to his estate at Mt Vernon. But, candles would have lit the Mansion and fireplace fires would have warmed it.
Today, many houses are dark, save for flashlights, and some people will be cold tonight as the temperature falls into the low 40's....and...snow falls in West Virginia.
NJ, NY, and New England would have fared much worse in Washington's time due to the surprise of the storm. But, these places are still suffering today. This shows that improved weather forecasting can help. But, Mother Nature still prevails.
Maybe the next technology advance will be in weather modification, to keep bad weather away, or reduce its intensity. That is hard to envision now. But, then again, George never envisioned weather satellites, computers or, maybe even teletype machines.
Sunday, July 22, 2012
OK, it is now time to revisit my thoughts about Joe Paterno.
First, I still think he got a raw deal from the PSU Board of Directors.
As I said earlier, they owed it to him to allow him to tell them, in private, his side of the story before they fired him. They never did that and there is still no record of his words or thoughts on this sad episode. He once did say..."I could have done more". But, that is all.
That being said, I am saddened by what appears to have been his actions. Dreadful, to say the least. It appears that he was front and center in the cover up. In fact, there was one report that the AD, President and VP had all agreed to go to the authorities. But, Paterno vetoed the idea. He had that much power. How could he have taken that action? We will never know. Even if the others eventually tell what they heard.
We will never have the opportunity to hear, first hand, from him.
In retrospect, is that good or bad? Do we really need to see him confess about his poor actions? On the other hand, shouldn't we hear from him on what was on his mind? Alas, neither will happen.
So, where do we go from here?
Where should Paterno stand in Penn State history? In fact, in college football history?
There can be bo doubt that Paterno brought Penn State from obscurity to national attention. When he came, they were an obscure agricultural school buried in Central Pennsylvania. Today they are a proud member of one of the most prestigious university conferences in the US. The Big Ten is no Ivy, but it does have some of the best faculty and research staffs in the country.
I seriously doubt that Penn State, both in sports and in academia, would be where it is today without Joe Paterno. Football brought money and money brings academic prominence. I am sure the fund raising success of the past President, was due, in some large part, to the pride of the alumni in the success of the football team.
And, he does have the most victories of any coach ever (See below for a revision here). I acknowledge that some of these victories of late were over second rate schools. But, he did serve the first few years (10 maybe) as Assistant Coach. While others were accumulating victories at small colleges. So, his victory record is still noteworthy. He built the team...and rebuilt it several times. He truly deserves his place in the College Football Hall of Fame.
But, What about now?
For the immediate future, I think the President has taken the correct course.
The statue was a continuing reminder of the past, shameful, episode. It would always remind people of Paterno's unfortunate action, and the sorrow it caused. Nobody needed to see the statue on the way to next season's opening game. Surely, the press would have been there to show the world our shame.
They were also correct to keep the Paterno name on the library. He, and his wife, gave of their own funds to grow that library. Other donors get their names on buildings they sponsor. So should the Paterno family.
I strongly feel that football got in the way of prudence in this case. Even the honorable Joe Paterno seemed to let it get in the way of good judgement. We will never know if Paterno was protecting a long time Assistant Coach. Or was protecting his while program. But, in either case, it was reprehensible. He got caught up in the frenzy of big time college football.
So, to prevent, or at least reduce the chance of that happenig again at Penn State, it is time to bite the bullet and get out of big time football. I know it will kill the golden funding cow. But, it may save the whole herd, in fact, the whole farm.......the University, from another episode like this. Never should one sport, or even one academic program. be allowed to wield as much power as Paterno's football program did. As I said before, it was the football program that led to Penn State's academic prominence. Now it is time for that academic program to stand on its own two feet. That would be the final tribute to Joe Paterno at Penn State.
Paterno got a bad deal from the Board
Paterno acted poorly, very poorly.
Paterno is historic to PSU and football overall.
PSU should get out of big time football as a tribute to Joe Paterno.
Since I originally posted this, the NCAA has come out with their sanctions. Here are my thoughts about those:
1) $60 Million Fine - Very good action. The PSU afministration acted awfully and this fine is fully justified. By setting up a money stream to fight this in the future, this action will help prevent it from happening again.
2) Lost Scholorships - Very good action. This will force Penn State to downplay foortball for a while. Maybe forever. Although I do think it will be a long while, if ever, that a football coach will wield the power Paterno once had. This will prevent that from happening again.
3) Vacated Wins - Here I am of two differentv minds.
On the one side, I feel Paterno's actions were reprehensinle and he should be severely punished.
On the other side. He is dead now. He went to his grave believing he was the winningest coach in college football history. This action cannot take that belief away from him. So, what punishment to him is this? None. It is punishment to his family. Who had nothing to do with his action. So, why punish them? And
Vacating wins is justified when the win s were gained illegally. Like when bribes were involved or when ineligible players were involved. None of this is applicable here. So, why vacate these wins? They were fully and fairly achieved.
I am truly torn here. But, think, marginally, that this was not the right action for the NCAA to have taken to punish Paterno. I do not what else they could have done. But, this did not punish the man...Only his legacy. And, that legacy is already severly tarmished.
4) Bowl Game Ban - Again, mixed feelings.
On the one hand, this ban will further hurt the football program and reduce its impact on PSU overall. Surely that is good. But...
On the other hand, it only punishes the present team and its coach. Neither had anything to do with this event. So, why puinsh them?
In this case, I come out strongly against this action.. Especially for 4 years.
One Final Thought
Like many, I wonder how such an honorable man like Joe Paterno have participated, maybe even led, such a reprehensible cover up. I have on one viable theory.
So, hold your hats......Sandusky knew something very serious about Joe or the program, that Paterno did not want let out. If he pressed Sandusky, maybe Sandusky would let it out... And the horoably Joe Paterno might have been seen not to be so honorable after all. It was 20 years ago, when Paterno was still building his legend. Think about it....
Thursday, November 10, 2011
After much soul searching, I come down thinking that Joe Paterno got an unfair deal.
That is not to say that I am unsympathic to the kids whose lives were irrevocably injured. Nor, am I saying that Paterno was faultless in his action.
But, what I am saying is that the Penn State Board of Directors treated him poorly.
Here is a man who has given his whole professional life, and ¾ of his whole total life, to this university. Almost single handedly, he has taken this university from virtual obscurity in Central Pennsylvania, to national and international recognition for both sports and integrity. He has brought two national championships to the university, along with one Heisman Trophy winner. There has never been any hint of scandal in his program. He has turned down handsome financial packages and has donated much of his less than market value salary back to the university to subsidize the library. Not, the football stadium, but the library.
And what did the Board do? They threw him to the wolves by unilaterally firing him before the full story had been told. To save face to the country.
All the supposed evil doings are still just charges. Nobody has been convicted. And Paterno himself has not been legally charged with anything.
We, at least I, do not know exactly what the young Student Assistant actually told Paterno about the incident he saw. We only have here say.
Yes, even any breath of ill doing like this bears investigation. I like to think that if I were Paterno, I would have confronted Sandusky with the charge myself and asked him his side of the story. If Sandusky admitted it, I would have gone, with him to the police and settled the matter directly. And, if Sandusky denied the charges, I would still have taken the matter up with the authorities both to clear Sandusky and to clear the whole football program. So far, it looks like Paterno did not do that.
Instead, he simply passed the matter upstairs to his supervisor. That supervisor, supposedly much more familiar with these kinds of things seems to have thought there was not enough evidence to take it to the police. If he thought that, should Paterno have thought he knew better?
Ok, so Paterno took the easy way out. Not a good choice that even he has admitted that he regretted. But, to over rule his supervisors and go over their heads directly to the authorities? When these supervisors thought differently. Wouldn’t that have been insubordination? To go directly to the authorities without discussing it with your boss, would have been going beyond his authority. To go to the authorities, after, going to his boss, after his boss has decided NOT to go to the authorities, would have been insubordination. What was he to do once he decided not to confront Sandusky from the start?
But, lets look at the Board action.
Paterno lives in State College, just minutes from the location of the Board meeting. I think they owed it to him to invite him before the Board to defend his action. To tell them exactly what the Student Assistant told him…To tell them why he did not why he did not confront Sandusky. To tell them what he thought about his supervisors’ decision not to go to the authorities….
They did not do that. Instead, they covered their asses and fired him in the “Best interests of the University”. What about the interests of a loyal employee?
And then after firing him, they did not have the decency to sent their Chairman to tell Paterno of their decision face to face. Instead, they sent a message for him to call them. Him to call THEM. He did, and they fired him over the phone. Then they went on to the media and embarrassed him by firing him publically.
I fully recognize that the Board was in a difficult position. It would have looked bad to the world for Paterno to lead his team out of the locker room on Saturday to a multi million-person audience on national TV as a representative of the university.
Instead, they should have simply suspended him for that one game. (BTW…That idea was first suggested to me by my daughter, Sara) Thereby allowing some breathing room for things to settle out. To find out exactly what the Student Assistant actually told Paterno. To find out exactly what Paterno considered doing. To give him a chance to tell them his side of the whole sordid story. Instead of that approach, they simply threw him to the wolves.
He deserved better.
If the Board is really primarily interested in the integrity of the University, maybe they should give up big time football altogether. One team after another these days is getting caught up in some scandal. Maybe this is the worst. But, without Paterno, some other scandal would almost surely have surfaced by now. Cheating, drinking, bribing…You name it. Without Paterno’s integrity in the future, it is all too probable that one of these will eventually surface at Penn State. But, who wants to bet that the Board will forgo the big bucks that football brings in? If they really want to set the proper “moral” image for the University, they will. That would be their final tribute to Joe Paterno. If we cannot have Joe, we do not want big time football altogether.
I also think about what his son, Jay, should do. As Assistant Coach for Quarterbacks, he is still employed by the team. If he goes out with the team on Saturday, is he siding with the University and abandoning his father? If he resigns, is he giving up his own career? I do not see how he can go out on that field on Saturday and still look his father in the eye. But, that is his decision.
What about the team players themselves? It appears that the majority of the student body overall is siding with Paterno. Probably some, if not most, of the players, also side with Paterno. Where do they owe their loyalty? To the Coach who recruited them? Or to the University that gave them their education? Not an easy choice.
Finally, what about the new “Interim” Head Coach? Tom Bradley has been with the team for years. Frequently “named” as Paterno’s logical successor. Now, he is in the hot seat. What a way to get the job. Can he fire up the team for Saturday’s game? What does he say to them? Win one for the Gipper? Who is the Gipper? Joe Paterno, the disgraced Coach? The Chair of the PSU Board? Tom Bradley himself? Maybe they should win one for Alan Weinstein…….Or maybe, they should just forfeit the game and the Big 10 crown. Hell if I know what’s best for Penn State.
All I know…think…..is that Joe Paterno got a raw deal.
Monday, September 12, 2011
Can anything be better?
He was just in my lap. Looking all around.
I spoke English and (Broken) Spanish to him.
Who knows if he heard. But, I deluded myself into thinking he did.
Sara mused if he recognized my voice. Oh how I hope he does.
At four weeks, he is definitely developing a personality.
Not yet talking, but, I think, looking around. And..just maybe…responding to me.
Occasionally, his fingers find the vicinity of his mouth.
All of this new to me….and him.
I guess it all happened with Mira and Sara as well. But, that is distant history.
Now, I am experiencing it all over again…And recording it for posterity.
Can there be a better joy in life than witnessing a grandchild’s early days?
I guess Sara and Victor are experiencing the same sensation as parents.
And, maybe, some day they will read this and experience it all over as grandparents.
As my father used to say about grandchildren being the interest on your investment.
Well I made a big, well placed, investment in my children.
Now some of the interest is coming out.
Benjamin Victor Moscoso. Words that bring joy to my heart.
Every period in a child’s…and grandchild’s…. life bring joy. I had, and still have, many with my children. Now the grandchild part starts.
OK…enough for now.
Just a quick note to record my thoughts as he enters his 4th week.
Sunday, August 28, 2011
Ok, so I am not the first grandfather in the world. But, it is all new to me.
My daughters brought me great joy as they grew, and now are frequent sources of pride. They are my investments in my future. But, now it is time for the interest on those investments…as my father called grandchildren.
I have seen many of my friends enjoy this state. Some are demonstrative and some are laid back. You can guess which group I am in.
I have held, played with and generally enjoyed being with Barbara’s grand…nibbling, as she calls them. They give me great joy. But, nothing beats my own decedents.
Benjamin Victor Moscoso-Weinstein (as he will be named in Guatemala) arrived at 6:39AM on August 21, 2011. My life has not been the same since.
I got my first peak and hold of him about 10PM after a long wait/trip from Washington. His cute face has been in my memory every since.
It is hard to describe the sense of serenity I have when I hold him. Feeling him breathe, twitch, spread out his arms and legs, yawn are all thrilling.
I dream about the first ball I will roll his way.
About the first walk we take with him holding my hand.
About my first attempt to explain baseball to him, and how rain forms.(Both of which I have already described to him while hr has rested in my arms)
About our first baseball game viewing, in real life or on TV.
About the first Science Fair project we will work on together.
About each of his lifetime milestones….Grade school graduation, Bar Mitzvah, etc. I hope I live long enough to see all of them.
In fact, his arrival has fired up my desire to live …forever.
His arrival has caused me to reminisce about my youth…as I love to do.
That started with my memory of his namesake, my Grandpa Weinstein, Benjamin. The husband of Sara’s namesake, Sarah. Sarah was a short dynamo. Benjamin was a tall, gentle man, with whom I probably never passed a single word as I doubt he spoke much English. My father looked like him and I look like my father. I hope there will be some of me, my father, and my Grandpa Weinstein in this Benjamin.
Thinking about Grandpa Weinstein, made me think of my Grandpa Lipsitz, my own namesake, Abraham, a man I never met, but saw pictures of. And his wife, my Grandma Lipsitz….Mary Lipsitz, Mira’s namesake. I distantly remember listening to afternoon soap operas with her. On the radio. “Just Plain Bill” “Porsha Faces Life”
It is funny, but Benjamin’s arrival brought more memories of my grandparents than of my own parents. Maybe a little grandparently bonding.
Next, I reminisced with Sylvia about the arrival and early childhood of our own children. How our lives changed forever on that night ride to the hospital in Pasadena to bring Mira into the world. And about how much we looked forward to Sara’s arrival to round out our intended two children family.
When the earthquake of August 2011 shook the east coast, we reminisced about the one in California through which Mira blissfully slept through and my father called about in panic.
But, I digress away from Benjamin.
Tonight, after his bris, several feedings (The boy loves to eat…..), and a poop (and diaper change by his father), he fell asleep on my shoulder after a big burp. Talk about bliss. It was thrilling to feel him breathing, occasionally twitching and generally resting on my shoulder. I told him he was great for lowering my high blood pressure better than any medicine I take.
As I write this from my motel room in Bedford, MA, I revel in how very happy I am.
Saturday, August 20, 2011
I surely hope not. But, I fear the seeds of what might eventually be called WWIII might be being planted.
Here is my fear.
The last time the world economy was so depressed, worldwide, was just prior to WWII.
In Europe, we had continent wide depression. Worst in Germany, but still widespread over the rest of the continent. Today, Germany seems secure. But widespread unrest exists in Greece, Spain, Italy and even the UK.
In Asia, we had a potential adversary, Japan, who simply did not understand the US as well as they should have….And launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor that they thought would simply rock us back on our heels and make us draw inward.
We all know that exactly the opposite happened. The US rose up united in revenge for this attack on our sovernty. And, we entered what came to be known as WWII.
So, what exists of a possibly similar nature in Asia today?
Both the China and North Korea rulers are aging. Their successors are already jockeying for position to succeed them.
The Vice President in China. And the son of the aging dictator in North Korea.
Neither of these leaders knows us very well. Neither has ever met with President Obama, or any other US President for that matter.
After a decade of economic growth, China’s economy is slowing, with unemployment growing. North Korea continues to experience starvation among its people, who depend ever increasingly on China for their survival.
China holds a large share of US bonds and is threatening to cash out.
We know little about their potential new leader, and he probably knows little about us.
What if the new leader decided to take back Taiwan and threatened the US with foreclosure on their bonds if we came to the aid of Taiwan?
(This idea has been broached by many pundits already.)
What if they gave North Korea the go ahead to invade South Korea?
Would the US pull in our horns as the Japanese thought we would do in Pearl Harbor (admittedly US territory)?
Or, would we label this blackmail, and defend Taiwan and South Korea as fortresses of Capitalism against Communist domination of Asia.
Surely, Japan and the rest of Asia would watch our reaction very carefully.
If Taiwan and South Korea fell, would the rest of Asia be far beyond? The old “Domino” theory of the post WWII cold war, might rear its ugly head again.
Combine this with the upcoming US election and the fear of a double dip recession. Like existed in the US under Franklyn Roosevelt in the early 1940’s.
Would President Obama try to negotiate his way out of the confrontation as he did with the Republicans in Congress…To the displeasure of many Americans?
Or…would he prefer to run as a wartime President defending the US against Communist aggression?
I know this is entirely out of character for him.
But, so was sending more troops to Afghaistan.
Would he use this an opportunity to pull troops out of the unpopular wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, to send them to Asia? Would he force the Republicans to abandon their opposition to him and rally behind this new war threat? Middle America might think to do otherwise would be treason.
I sure hope he has a clear strategy in mind.
And….has sent Vice President Biden to China to inform the soon to be new President of China, exactly how the US in general and the President, in particular, would respond to Chinese aggression in Asia. EXACTLY…No doubts.
If Vice President Biden can carry this message clearly and directly, but not belligerently, his visit may go down as truly historic. He has the opportunity to leave a lasting legacy to himself and to the Obama administration. I surely hope he does.
For, I feel this is the only path to avoiding WWIII in Asia.