Friday, August 31, 2007

For Mark Scease, Mongolian Vagabond

I stole this picture from Glen D's blog 558 to post it here prominantly for Mark Scease of Anchors Away blog fame. I don't think Glen will mind since he likewise stole it from someone else. Mark is a self professed Red Sox fan and thus no great booster for my favorite team, the NY Yankees. I thought he might like this photo. No purient interest is involved. Honestly. Hey they aren't even that good looking. Just barely better than a sharp stick in the eye.

Sour Grapes for Tuesday, August 28th.

Cherokee pachyderms
Elephant Story

A story I saw on the internet recently drives home the moral that we need to be sure of our facts before making big commitments. I have paraphrased it below since we have some important decisions coming up:

An American traveling in Africa came across a young bull elephant limping and standing with one leg raised in the air. The elephant seemed distressed, so the hiker approached it very carefully. He got down on one knee and inspected the elephant's foot and found a large piece of wood deeply embedded in it. As carefully and as gently as he could, he worked the wood out with his hunting knife, after which the elephant gingerly put down its foot. The elephant turned to face the man, and with a rather curious look on its face, stared at him for several tense moments. The hiker stood frozen, thinking he might be being trampled. Eventually the elephant trumpeted loudly, turned, and walked away. He never forgot that elephant or the events of that day. Twenty years later, the fellow was walking through the San Diego Zoo with his teenaged son. As they approached the elephant enclosure, one of the creatures turned and walked over to near where he and his son were standing. The large bull elephant stared at him, lifted its front foot off the ground, then put it down. The elephant did that several times then trumpeted loudly, all the while staring at the man. Remembering the encounter 20 years earlier, he couldn't help wondering if this was the same elephant. He summoned up his courage, climbed over the railing and made his way into the enclosure. He walked right up to the elephant and stared back in wonder. The elephant trumpeted again, wrapped its trunk around one of the man’s legs and slammed him against the railing, killing him instantly. Probably wasn't the same elephant.
* * * *
Power Alternatives
Several attempts have been made over the years to privatize CUC in order to find ways to make it operate more efficiently and remove the burden of operation from the local government. While privatization is one possible solution it has a drawback when applied to a monopoly like a utility company. A private sector company needs to make a profit so its shareholders will continue to hold on to their investment. This means that in addition to actually paying for the cost to produce the power, maintain the equipment and allow for depreciating life of the delivery and generation systems, the additional cost of paying or repaying the investors and making them a profit has to be paid as part of the power rates as well.

There are at least a couple of alternatives that might work to increase effectiveness, reduce government burdens and liability and still hold power rates down.

One alternative would be for the local citizens, companies and other actual users of electric power and water to own the company that produces these utilities. A company could be formed with all the stock held by those in the community who wish to invest in the power system. Or stock could be distributed in proportion to the individual or corporate usage and a premium over cost paid in by all users paid into a trust account for maintenance and new equipment. Or bonds could be floated, as utilities often do, to come up with the large sums needed to build new power plants and other infrastructure with repayment guaranteed by the utilities incoming monthly fees so little or none comes out of the owners’ pockets. Another alternative would be a power co-op. A cooperative is formed and overseen by a board of directors who hire a manager responsible for actual operations. Co-op members are the utility users.

Corporate or Co-op bylaws could decree that all profits be reassigned to electric rate and water rate reductions. So the people who own the power and water companies are the same people who use the power and water. In any of the above cases, one of the keys would be to hire or train a few experienced professional key management personnel responsible for overall operations. Local jobs at CUC could be kept and employees retained and some retrained as necessary. The employees, who are also power users, would also be part owners of the company, motivating them to work all the more efficiently. Users of the power are also part owners so it is not likely they would pilfer from themselves or let others do so.

If none of these suggestions work there is always the spinning hamster cage electric generation system I outlined in a previous column. We could run that one on chicken feed.
* * * *
Babies and puppies
A letter writer, and friend of mine, has noted that Our Colonial Masters have someone over in their PR department throwing us a bone every once in a while to try and make us forget they are poised to destroy our economy and lifestyle. This time they have donated some free vaccine to our Jr. High and High Schools to help prevent sexually transmitted diseases (VD) in teen and pre teenage girls. Maybe if the same amount of money were spent to educate these children about the disease perils of sexual promiscuity a better result might be obtained. An equivalent amount spent on prophylactics would produce a pile about the size of the Puerto Rico dump but I’m not sure their parents would approve of that either.

What will it be next from US Public Relations damage control, free puppy flea collars so we forget the jobs that will be lost as labor rates are artificially forced upward? Yo Yos for all the kids in grade school so we don’t notice our tourist markets cut to the bone by forced immigration laws designed to protect them not us? Free baby powder to all Moms so they forget their older sons and daughters are fighting and dying for a country that will not allow them voting representation in its Legislature?

I do agree that with the author’s tongue in cheek suggestion that we should secede, but that is fodder for another article. By the way, it was a great parody.
* * * *
Article XII Complainers
Non eligible folks who complain about the current status of land ownership restrictions as decreed in Article XII of the Covenant remind me of people who move into a neighborhood directly under the departure end of a major jet airport then complain about the noise. Article XII was in place when you moved here, you knew about it, so quit harping. Would you move onto an Indian Reservation in the US and then demand the Native Americans there sell their land to you? Not likely.

Land alienation is a complex issue with positive and negative points on all sides of the question of whether to keep it, end it or replace it with another system. One side says land values will soar if Article XII is repealed; another says the local traditions will be forever lost. There are many other side issues pro and con. One thing is certain for me. While outsiders and Johnny-come-Latelys, like me, can rant and opine all we wish, the matter should and must be decided not by us but by those actually affected. Those currently eligible to own land here, and only those so affected, should be allowed to decide their own fate. If brought to a vote now or in the future, only those indigenous people eligible to own land should be allowed to vote on the issue.

Even the time to hold the vote, if any, is in question. Some say in 2011, others say the 25-year clock started ticking in 1976 at the Covenant signing so the earliest vote date already passed in 2001. Either way, lets not get sidetracked into letting others vote and thus decide for the real stakeholders, those of Marianas Descent.

Quote of the week: There is no reciprocity. Men love women, women love children, children love hamsters. Alice Thomas Ellis (1932 – 2005)

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Hole Ti Bang

I attended the Amelia Earhart lecture at AMP the other evening and came away with the impression that these folks are milking a ghost cow.

While Thomas King, an archeologist of some standing was well prepared and presented his material well, there was just not much real material to present. The data was nebulous and fuzzy at best and a real stretch much of the time.

The TIGHAR group, a lost aircraft hunting society, now theorizes that Nicumaroro island in Kiribati is the lost landing place of Ms Earhart back in 1937. The problem is they have no substantial evidence to prove it. Even calling the evidence presented ‘circumstantial’ is a stretch. It consists mostly of might be’s, could have’s and didn’t finds. Lots of holes, not any hard evidence.

I wouldn’t run out and volunteer to help fund their next $600,000 per trip venture to the tiny atoll if I were you. On the other hand I did learn something valuable from the lecture: Kiribati is not Keer-uh-bot-ee but Ker-ee-ba-she. Ti is pronounced she.

Okay, Dr. King so where is ti really?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Meet the Candidates

This Friday, Aug. 31st the Candidates will be Fred P. Deleon Guerrero and Joseph Norita Camacho. Absalon Waki might make another appearance as might others if they get wind of the fact that anyone can come and join in. 6PM to 8PM.

Nest week, Tina Sablan will be at Porky's on Friday, Sept 7th. for the Meet the Candidates roundtable discussion.

Remember, any candidate, any Party , any Friday. No fund raising, just open discussion.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Shameless Commercialism

In the public interest, of course.
Come on over to Porky's this Wednesday, and every Wednesday for a smoke-free eating and drinking environment. If you want to smoke you can but we ask that you smoke outside at the gazebo bar or the beach patio.

Also remember every Friday from 5:30 or 6PM to About 8PM until election day there will be a "Meet the Candidate" open mic, platform stance, Q&A session with someone seeking election. Any party, any candidate, any friday. No fundraising allowed. Discussion only.
Hope to see you there.
Also on this Friday the 24th, Angelo says "We are going to announce the winners of the Micronesian Challenge Photo Contest at an event on Friday at Grand Hotel during Happy Hour. The top 10 photographers will get a Beautify CNMI! prize pack and the Grand Prize winner will get a one night stay at Aqua Resort".

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Sour Grapes for Tuesday, August 21st.

Dear Ms. Christensen

While you are back there in DC not voting, or whatever it is you do all day, please consider helping us out here on Saipan.

By that I mean please stop being the lap dog for Allen Stayman and his Vengeancemobile whose only aim is to gut commerce here. I mean please stop being the front man for Pete A. in his desire to reach his life’s ambition to not vote all day as you do.

What I would like you to do is lobby your pals (you know, the ones who do vote) and ask them to send us 80 odd million or so out of the unpaid cover over funds you owe us so we can build a new power house. Ours is not working very well.

That would actually help us. Posturing and photo op-ing and taking a free first class ride to the CNMI to pimp for Pelosi will not do the (sorry) trick. Pretending that you feel our pain will not do us any good. You maybe, but not us. Really want to help? SEND US OUR MONEY.

Otherwise the next time you come here we are picking you up at the airport in the Chicken Bus and putting you up in one of the vacant units at lower MIHA where you’ll learn valuable new graffiti tagging skills you can take back to the VI. Kidding here.

Maybe I’m asking too much, I don’t know whether the real members of Congress talk to you non-voters, pecking order wise. If there is nothing you can do, then please step out of the way and leave us alone so we can try to help ourselves. Thanks. Not kidding here.
* * * *
Bruce A.
I’m thinking about running for Washington Rep if HR-3079 passes and gives us a non voting seat in the coat closet at the US Capitol Building. If I win my first order of business will be to draft a Bill to halt all inbound American tourists into the Virgin (unlikely) Islands and to ban fishing in American Samoa. I figure this will put us back on even footing with these territories and be a proper gesture of thanks to Ms. Christensen and Mr. Cohen for their kind assistance in interfering in our affairs. I’m going to call it the Kegger Party in honor of the gala fundraisers we will have.
* * * *
The NVD fallacy
First let us be clear. A Non-Voting Delegate (NVD) is not a representative, but a lobbyist, a hanger on near the outskirts, or underskirts of the US Congress. If you have no voice, no vote, then you cannot represent anyone. Our cause will not be furthered by delivering speeches to an empty room, or jockeying to carry a real Congressman’s briefcase home from school.

We will in no way be better off with a pretender to the throne sitting in the back of the room and it may very well cause us many new and unforeseen problems. Here are a few of them: 1.Even though we won’t have a real representative, just a show piece, we will be perceived as having one so we will disappear even further under the radar of those who might actually care and want to help. They might think we can then help ourselves then. Not. 2. The likelihood of sucking us into the maw of the US Federal Tax system is a very real possibility once we are ‘represented’ in their Congress. 3. The Covenant was designed and agreed to by the indigenous peoples of the CNMI as a way to be voluntarily aligned with the US but still be separate from it. Slowly but surely the US has and will continue to erode that sense of separateness. An NVD will give them an inside track to speed up that erosion until there will be little left of the proud separate people who own this land and whose ancestors have been killed and subjugated by foreign powers for most of the last 400 plus years. They thought it might be different this time. 4. This is not American soil like Guam or the VI. The US government leases land from our government. But it is not too far fetched to believe that they might want to change all that and renege on the Covenant altogether by slow insidious steps until they control and own all that is here. That would best be done as an ‘inside’ job using the NVD as cover. They would only be following in the footsteps of the colonial powers that came before them.

For the above reasons, and several more you can probably think of, we should not be pushing for this NVD sop. An NVD is a poison adder disguised as a telephone. Supposedly it will help us communicate our wishes and needs but when we hold one end up to our ear it bites us in the throat with the other. Snake = telephone, is this guy nuts? Not a very good analogy but I think you get the point. Harm disguised as aid.

I believe Pete A. is a talented, articulate and sincere individual, trying to do his best to help the CNMI. But I think he has become blinded by the object of his desire, an NVD seat, to the extent that he no longer clearly sees the things that will help us govern ourselves. He has become one of the imperialists helping the US to further control and subjugate his own people. It appears he would do most anything to get that phony seat.

Our path to the future can be bright and our fortunes can be prosperous again if we have the freedom to align ourselves as necessary to take best advantage of favorable international trade and cultural relationships. We must be able to govern ourselves to do this. We must be able to act in our own best self interest, not that of the United States. We will continue to decline in direct ratio to our dependence on handouts from the colonizing American government.

A Non-Voting, pretend Representative is a sad piece of trash to trade for a people’s freedom and dignity. We play into their hands by asking for it.
* * * *

Quotes of the week: Quorum, n. A sufficient number of members of a deliberative body to have their own way and their own way of having it. In the United States Senate a quorum consists in the Chairman of the Committee on Finance and a messenger from the White House; in the House of Representatives, of the Speaker and the devil. Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914)

Men become civilized, not in proportion to their willingness to believe, but in proportion to their readiness to doubt. H.L.Mencken (1880-1956)

Friday, August 17, 2007

Toyota Cowrolla

Here's what the chic on Saipan will be driving a couple of years from now if the federal government annexes us and cripples our commerce by forcing their non-working immigration system on us.

Reeling already from the imposition of draconian labor requirements, now they want to decimate our tourism industry and wipe out what is left of the business sector.

What's next? Cattle prods to the testicles? Think of how bad it might be if any of the wanks that headed the recent 'public hearing' could actually vote.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

With a Spoon

Well, today's the day. The day we have a 'public' hearing in a venue so small ony a tiny number of citizens can get in to see and hear the commotion. Sorry, only the elite are invited.

Today is the day we have a 'public' hearing during which the public may not testify. Only a hand picked and carefully chosen group of people may speak. Those hand picked to speak must have submitted their testimony well in advance so the somewhat honorable congressional commission can have their handlers prepare their counter remarks for them.

Today is the day that we have a laughable charade perpetrated on us.

Tomorrow is the day they all go back to do whatever it is they were going to do anyway while chuckling at us gullable backwater bumpkins for believing this 'open public hearing' bullshit.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Sour Grapes for Tuesday, August 14th

Treat Christensen with the respect she deserves.

Changing Times
Big Changes in Garapan and Beach Road

There is a movement afoot to radically alter the way central (western) Garapan looks and how it works as a commercial space. The same initiative also seeks to change the look and use of Beach Road properties all the way from Garapan down to about the Microl Toyota intersection.

The plan, if approved, is to be implemented and enforced through the use of direct government intervention via the Zoning Board. The proposed strategy is called the Garapan and Beach Road Revitalization Plan.

There will be a public meeting held tonight, August 14th at 6:30 PM in the Multipurpose Center in Susupe. There are probably thousands of Saipan citizens who will be impacted by this rule making system including those who live or work or own businesses along the several mile swath to be rezoned and reconstructed. Your chance to discuss the draft proposal and comment on the impact it will have and to offer any ideas you may have will be most visible tonight.

I urge you to attend the hearing this evening and express your views and ideas. This plan has the potential to turn the affected areas into a world class tourist destination. There will be costs, of course, including coming up with the money to implement it. There may be costs in personal or business displacement or increased cost to your business, leasehold, home or property. While there are costs there are also considerable benefits to be derived. Balancing those is the challenge.

You owe it to yourself and the community to learn about this plan and to offer your input tonight. While written comments will be accepted until Aug., 27th. your personal presence and voice is far more likely to be regarded in any decisions to alter or modify the draft plan.
* * * *
Zoning Regulation Law
On a related but different topic, it should be noted that the whole concept of zoning regulation and zoning law still sits on very shaky ground. The original Saipan zoning regulations and enabling legislation was originally passed back in 1993 but was repealed a couple of years later in ’95. The current zoning board and the department being put in place to administer and enforce the old zoning regs hinges solely on the ‘opinion’ of a past Attorney General who opined that even though legislatively repealed, the regs could still be used.

If the movement to have central government control of zoning on the island is to continue a new zoning enablement law will have to be enacted and soon. Then a new zoning code and the attendant regulations can be drawn up with assurance that they are legally enforceable. At stake is the way new construction is built and sited, which businesses can locate where, retroactive changes to existing buildings and possibly homes and a host of other important and life changing rules. Right now Steve Tilley and his department of 1 forge ahead gamely trying to generate ideas and plans to better the island, but they are walking around on legal quicksand. If you support this concept you should be talking to your Legislators.

Sugar King Bling
Saipan Mayor Juan B. Tudela has done a great job carrying the responsibility given to him by the then MPLA to develop, operate and maintain the Sugar King Estate in Garapan. The recent completion and opening of the phase one amphitheater at the Park is a notable accomplishment. Organizing the designers and the builders, acquiring and focusing the funds necessary, and keeping the whole thing from bogging down is a big job and the Mayor has done it well.

The project has 3 more phases to go before it is completed. The design looks great, except for fencing the entire Park. Fences are built to keep people out. Parks should be built to attract people in. There are other ways to deal with vandalism and crowd control other than fences. That is my only gripe, and is pretty unimportant when compared to the value of the new Park as a themed attraction.

By stressing ‘heritage tourism’ this project is a prime example of how our tourism industry can best be improved by showcasing how we are different culturally and historically, from other destinations. Lots of places have sun and sand; no others have the unique history and cultural diversity that we in the CNMI do. This project to improve our attraction infrastructure should be followed by other improvements in other areas. The results will be more people visiting to see the new attractions who then go home and tell their friends about the interesting and entertaining things they saw and did here.
* * * *
Change your own laws
I have been perplexed as to why many CNMI residents who are originally from the mainland or have spent a lot of time there are such big admirers of the movement that seeks to federalize our system and wrest control away from the local population to whom local governance was promised via the Covenant.

In a lengthy conversation the other night with a group of these individuals it came to me that some of them don’t rally like the CNMI. Their arguments weren’t for federal takeover as much as they were against local governance. They don’t like the cultural diversity here; they want the ‘stability’ that a one-size-fits-all set of laws imposes on them. It makes them comfortable. In short, they don’t want to see the CNMI continue, they want this to be America. They don’t want to see the CNMI strive to be better, different culturally, but still aligned voluntarily with the US. They want this to become Omaha, or Sandusky or Tulsa. They want this to be a pea in the American pod. Voluntary local identity and governance scares them. They cover that fear with vague statements about human dignity, forgetting that political slaves or colonies are not very dignified.

We must keep a sharp eye on maintaining our cultural identity or the US will swallow this wonderfully diverse place up and spit out Iowa, corn and all, in its place. The coming hearing on Wednesday will focus on a variety of contentious issues, but the very real issue of whether the CNMI is to be forced into a US jello mold of conformity will probably go unmentioned.

It is claimed that the reason the feds are so zealous in their bid to assume command here is out of fairness or security, but I think the real reasons are they want to staff the coming military build up in Guam with thousands of workers from the CNMI since their own immigration laws won’t allow for the importation of that many foreign nationals. I say let them change their own worker visa and immigration laws to allow more workers in rather than decimate local self government here to hide their own inadequacies. If workers here or elsewhere would rather leave and go to Guam, let them do so, as immigrants under a special US visa program. There is no need to kill the growing democracy of the CNMI to accomplish that. There are plenty of other people in those home countries that would jump at the chance to come here and work under vastly better conditions than they have at home as replacements for those who want to leave. There is another reason the feds want to rule the roost here, but that will have to wait for another time as we are out of time and space and you, dear reader, are probably out of patience.
* * * *
Quotes of the week: Instead of giving a politician the keys to the city, it might be better to change the locks. Doug Larson

All human situations have their inconveniences. We feel those of the present but neither see nor feel those of the future; and hence we often make troublesome changes without amendment, and frequently for the worse. Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)

Bruce A. Bateman writes Sour Grapes when the moon is full and the mood strikes. Stay tuned for each exciting episode.
“Yes, he is opinionated.”
Email: bbateman@pticom.comBlog:

Friday, August 10, 2007

Chamber Vote

The Saipan Chamber of Commerce meeting yesterday was interesting. A vote was held to make sure the formal position of the Chamber on the federalization issue agreed with the position held by most of its members. The answer was an overwhelming yes. Votes ranged from 10 to 1 in favor (3 positions), 4 to 1 in favor (1 position) and 2 to 1 in favor (1 position) of the positions promulgated by the Chamber’s Board. Looks like they had a pretty good finger on the pulse of members.

This photo was shamelessly pilfered from the Saipan Tribune website.

The print media here reported on it and of course made a certain Ron Hodges contrary remarks and thoughts a far bigger part of the story than they should have been. One must remember that all, yes all, the reporting staff of the two english language newspapers here are contract workers themselves and have a vested interest in the outcome of this proposed federal takeover of CNMI self government. The raving Hodges character, by the way, has a non-business selling real estate to no one on Saipan and employs zero, wala, zilch contract workers. I noticed the Variety had the most Hodges-skewed coverage.

I predict a barrage of immigration related stories pushed to the front pages and I predict some big, staged immigration gaff, which will just coincidently coincide with the arrival of the US congressional delegation. What a surprise. Remember the same PR tactic is used when each and every US envoy hits the tarmac here. Stayman is a PR whiz. We need to take a whiz… on his leg.

The print reporters here think they and other contract workers will be granted a fast track to the US nirvana job fair in the sky. What they’ll get, of course, is a limited visa to Guam where the canon fodder folks over at DoD need a few thousand workers to dig the trenches for the Okinawa retreat position. Once that job is done they will be herded back to the PI like a pencil without an eraser is tossed in the trash.

The lambs are easily led to slaughter.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Sour Grapes for Tuesday, August 7th

Whaja say Homer?

The devil made me do it
It seems a shame that a certain Representative missed the point of the joke about the ‘roaches’ misprint in a local paper and the play on words I used about it in my last column. I’m sorry he misunderstood it. I’ll try to write more clearly in future.

As for my ‘Lucerific loyalty’ to the current administration I think Stanley, or his ghostwriter, has been hanging around the comic book section a bit too much. I must admit it made me laugh out loud when I read it and still gives me a giggle when I think about it. I still think HR 15-139 is barking up the wrong tree but I’m not growing horns over it.

It does, however, look like I owe Stanley Torres an apology. If he says he didn’t ever drive that vehicle our tax dollars funded for him for 3 months last year we should believe him. I guess he let someone else drive that car and get the benefit of the $2,413.00 taxpayer dollars spent. I commend him for sending the vehicle back. I’m not too sure who used the $1,592.00 tax dollars he spent on fuel as reported in his unaudited, but voluntarily submitted expense disclosure of April 23rd, 2007 but I’m sure none of it went into his own tank. That four thousand bucks is certainly less than most other lawmakers spend on transportation, that’s for sure.

I admire Stanley for his independent stand on a lot of issues and his willingness to tilt against the windmill on issues he believes are important to the people of the CNMI. I must also admit that his PR image is that of a complainer….something I would never, ahemmmm, stoop to. We’re birds of a feather, Stanley…let’s talk about it over a cold one at Hamiltons.
* * * *
It is, or should be, a remarkable occasion when a person or a group does something nice for the whole community. I mean the term remarkable, not in the ‘rarity’ usage, but meaning we should remark upon the occurrence. That’s what I’m doing right now and I ask you to please make note of it to your friends and neighbors too.

Seafix, a marine repair company and general machine shop among other offerings has, at their own cost, repaired, welded, painted, refurbished and reassembled the large playground facility down in Susupe at Kilili Beach. It was in unsafe condition and was about to be condemned and torn down by DPW when Seafix and their crew decided to step in and fix the equipment for free.

They deserve our thanks and they deserve more than that. The next time you need something welded, or a part fabricated or something fixed on your boat or some piece machined or designed for your car or house, please call the folks at Seafix and do business with them. Tell them you appreciate what they did for the kids on Saipan and you are using their service as a way of showing that thanks.

I’m not in any way connected to the Seafix company or it’s affiliates. I have used their services a couple of times to repair my small boat, and they did an excellent job at a reasonable price each time. But I will go out of my way to use their services again just to say ‘thanks for the playground’, and I hope you do the same.
* * * *
Better Batter
American baseball slugger Barry Bonds is about to break the record for home runs set by Hank Aaron about thirty years ago. Aaron had finally bested the record held by Yankees star Babe Ruth had set 40 years before that so we can see that it is a feat not easily bettered.

The hoopla that surrounds the current record breaking attempt centers around performance enhancement. Specifically, Bonds has been accused of using steroids as an aid to improve his body’s ability to perform the rigorous movements necessary to smack a home run in the Major Leagues. Purists say his record shouldn’t count, or at best it should be “asterisked” to indicate the number of homers may have been spuriously obtained.

That brings up an interesting question. Just what is ‘performance enhancement’ and where should we draw the line? Should we draw a line at all? Why? Consider the fact that athletes routinely strive to better themselves. They lift weights, run with heavy shoes, exercise relentlessly, train and do all sorts of other things to make themselves better than they are naturally. In other words they enhance their natural performance.

Should Tiger Woods prodigious accomplishments on the golf course be asterisked to indicate that he was the first to use weight training to enhance his performance? Others followed but others followed the use of steroids as an enhancement too. Should I, out of shape and inept with bat and ball, be able to compete on an even playing field with top level athletes because they are not allowed by some rule to better themselves at all?

Should we ‘dumb down’ adult athletic achievement to the lowest common denominator for the sake of some arbitrary purist theory of what is acceptable enhancement? Why was the line drawn in the sand at that particular point? Why was any line drawn at all? Maybe we should let those adults who are best at their sport pay whatever price THEY are willing to pay to become even better. Who are we to decide for them? Can they still eat Wheaties?
* * * *
Quote of the week: Anger, if not restrained, is frequently more hurtful to us than the injury that provokes it. -Lucius Annaeus Seneca, philosopher (BCE 3-65 CE)

Bruce A. Bateman writes Sour Grapes when the moon is full and the mood strikes. Stay tuned for each exciting episode.
“Yes, he is opinionated.”

Monday, August 6, 2007

Additional Data

The photos show two types of Japanese flying boats used in WWII> The 'Emily' seen directly at right has a tail cone gunners position completely different than that found at the "B-29" wreck site. However, the nose gun bears similarities. No little windows just behind it as are found on the wreckage however, and the shape appears to be different also.

Two other details about the H8K Emily of interest are that based on the 'possible identification' of a crashed version on a Saipan runway just after the US invasion (photo at upper right) it may be correct that there were 1 or more Emilys on Saipan. Also you will notice from the color photo (top left) and the bottom right photo that the propellor spinner does not appear to be the same as that found on the wreck.One other possible positive attribute is that the Emilys had a single nose cannon as does the wreckage (if the gunnery position found at the wreck site is indeed from the nose and not the tail). Some possibility but not a certain identification.

The other flying boat type shown is the H6K-3 "Mavis" (2 middle photos). The Mavis is also a 4 engine flying boat but has no similarity to the wreckage found at the muisnamed "B-29" dive site. Ruled out.

I have looked at quite a few other types and have not found an exact match yet. I'll keep searching. Meanwhile, if you have any information about this, please leave a comment and let me know.

I'll also be looking at some US planes in the theater at the time for a possible match. The remarkable thing about the wreck is that there is almost nothing left of the fuselage to identify it. There is not even enough wreckage around the site to have been a fuselage. Perhaps some of it was carted off in past times. As I said, if you have any info, please post it. Thanks.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Not a B-29

Well, the accompanying photos prove conclusively that the wreckage in the Saipan lagoon commonly called the B-29 Dive Site is not a B-29. The control yoke is quite different from the one at the wreck site and the tail cone/rear gunner position is totally different. Finally, the 'spinner' at the prop hub is not the same at all. Now I'm off to search for photos of Japanese seaplanes to see if I can find a match.

So now it's official. Interesting though the dive site is, you will not be diving on a B-29. Stay tuned while I search for what kind of plane really lies there.

Should we reprint all the dive maps?

Bombs Away

I had a blast diving on the (perhaps misnamed) B-29 today with Jeff Turbitt. We agreed while waiting out a rainstorm prior to the dive that Hilary should be pilloried (I am lying...about Hilary, not the rain squall). We did, however, solve many of the world's social and political problems while sipping (okay guzzling) frozen margaritas blessedly contributed by Jeff.

I've heard from various sources that the B-29 is actually a large 4 engine Japanese seaplane bomber and not a B-29 at all. I sure know what a whole Superfortress looks like and the wing on the wreck in the lagoon could be from one but without seeing the fuselage, it's tough to say really.

If you haven't dove on that site, the wing is pretty much intact, but the entire fuselage is just a debris field a couple of hundred yards long. Only the tail cone survives. So I am off to look at some detailed tail cone pics of B-29s to see if the cone there matches. Also a part of the flight deck remains so I'll check that too. I know you are waiting in breathless anticipation for the answer.

Sorry, no pics were taken as neither Jeff nor I brought a camera. I'll take one next time I go so you can see what's there. Better yet, go and check it out for yourself. It's a great dive with several nearby coral outcroppings and the plane itself is a lot of fun to explore.

Friday, August 3, 2007


Well it looks like the Saipan Best Blog contest is becoming a run away. In fact, it's a bit embarrassing.

All hail Harry!! Whether this one goes another day or another week it looks like we will be crowning the Diving Debutante of the blogging world on Saipan. Lets be sure to hand warm that crown a bit so the cold gold doesn't chill his scalp skin. (:-))

Congratulations are a bit premature but deserved.


Thursday, August 2, 2007

Terrible news from the Twin Cities

The above photos do not show the true scale of the bridge failure in Minneapolis/St. Paul earlier today, but give you an idea of how devastating this must be.

The finger pointing hasn't started yet, but is sure to reach epic proportions before this story recedes into memory. Was it the repairs ongoing that caused it? Was it just a question of infrastructure failure from lack of maintenance? Minor earthquake? Gov't sources are quick to claim no connection to a terrorist nexus. Who knows? No one seems to right now.

The good news is that a busload of children apparently escaped, as did many others. The toll will certainly be terrible, nonetheless.

We are about to build a bridge on Saipan. Let's be sure we do a good job of it, engineering and construction wise. As I understand it, the new one is to replace one that failed due to typhoon damage.

Can you imagine the stresses on a span across the channel to Tinian? In addition to the Billion-dollar price tag, it is probably not such a great idea. Let's review this footage the next time someone brings it up.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Sour Grapes for Tuesday July 31st

Car 54 where are you?

Principally flawed
School principals have a huge and time consuming job to do. Their students think they only exist to call their parents when trouble occurs or to discipline them for real or imagined wrongdoing. Truth is a principal is required to administer a sizable group of people and see that they stay on a targeted course. (MBA) The principal has to fight in this system or any other to get and keep the amount of funds to keep the ball rolling forward. (Banker) Principals must be involved in ongoing training of classroom teachers to see that they are as fit for the job as possible. (HR consultant) They must act as arbiters between teachers and students, between students and students , between teachers and teachers and between all the above and the administration (Judge). Principals have to coordinate directly with school boards, up line administrative officials and PSS as an entity (Communications Specialist). They must constantly strive to present their school and it’s achievements in the best possible light to the parents and the community at large. (PR Maven). There are a lot more things Principals must do…parental interaction, PTA interfacing, and scores of other tasks that need prioritizing and completing in order for the school to move ahead seamlessly.

Teachers have a huge and time consuming job to do. Students sometimes think they are there solely to ruin their evenings with homework and their days with boring details that must be remembered. Teachers have a huge responsibility to teach disparate individuals with different tastes and different capabilities, subjects which they may or may not be interested in learning. (Interpretive instructor) They must somehow maintain order (now days without resort to the ruler on the knuckles). (Policeman) They must spend many hours in preparation to teach each day. (Personal Trainer) Teachers have homework to do too…papers to grade, poorly written essays to read and evaluate, etc. (Critic). Around here they must also be janitors and shoppers and repairmen for their own classrooms. There are a lot more things that teachers must do just like their administrative counterparts, the Principals. Both have more than full time jobs to do. It would take pages to describe what else teachers must do routinely.

PSS policy makers in their wisdom have now decreed that Principals will do double duty as full time teachers in addition to their regular responsibilities. This is a poorly thought out reassignment. These 20 individuals, already over taxed with work and underpaid for the effort will be able to do NEITHER job effectively if required to try to do both.

If there is a teacher shortage, so be it. Do what other school systems do worldwide in such circumstances; increase class size. It is not a great solution but it is better than marginally smaller classes taught by people too busy to do proper preparation and too preoccupied with the daily administration of their school to devote the time to individual students necessary for them to succeed. This fixes the symptom not the ailment, and does a poor job even of that.

There is a shortage of money and there will continue to be a shortage and it will probably get worse. There are several whole Departments in local government that could be closed down unmissed. Their budgets could be reprogrammed into the education system and their employees redistributed into PSS jobs going begging right now for want of money to pay for the positions. This would be a more suitable solution to the ongoing problem of short funds. Privatization would be another solution but that is a discussion for another day.

Smoke the AG?
Our attorney General is pretty darned good as appointed AGs go. At least he hasn’t called for raising Vietnamese hookers as a cash crop as his predecessor did. He seems to take his responsibility as the persecutor of those who would disobey the law pretty seriously. He seems to uphold a sense of dignity and presents a good example for our youth to follow. I think he has too many, not too few, people on his staff, but he knows the needs there better than I do.

He is being vilified by most everyone for daring to think that free speech might be a good thing. I’ve seen no evidence that he was or is taking sides on the legalize-marijuana question, yet he was represented as doing so in the press and by many of his opponents. If I understand it correctly he simply did not see it necessary to impede a conference during which people would rationally discuss legalization. I would say conferences and conventions, which bring in outside tourist dollars, are always a good thing. If the conferees want to discuss procreation of pink polo ponies in Poughkeepsie, why should we care? Let them come and talk and spend their greenbacks and enjoy our beautiful islands. We don’t have to agree to pink ponies or to maryjane or anything else in order to want attendees to visit and spend money on rooms, food and entertainment. Most destinations actively seek out convention business and build large edifices for that very purpose. We should do the same.

He was slam dunked and blindsided by the Cohen/Staymen group during testimony at the recent Senate hearings in an attempt to, what else, present the CNMI in the worst possible light so they can strip us of local governance. There is no evidence that his actions regarding Chinese asylum seekers was in any way counter to his mandate to protect the CNMI, but he was made a scapegoat by the committee nonetheless. Incidentally, how would you have him act, or how would you act yourself if you were AG and there was conflict between actions favorable to the US government or actions favorable to the people of the CNMI? I’m not saying there were conflicts in the case of asylum seekers but what if there were? Would you rather see the AG take the side of the US government to the detriment of the CNMI? Just who is he charged to protect?

I have disagreed with the way he facilitated certain appointments but that is a difference of opinion, there is certainly no malfeasance implied. He was selling a person he thought up to the task, as he should when there is a position to fill.

To claim that he interfered in the delivery of ‘some roaches’ to his girlfriend as one local paper reported is a bit silly. To claim that he was able to influence cargo arrival at all was belied by the customs officer in charge at the time who said he was not influenced by the AGs presence in any way.

Why a particular lawmaker, who drives a taxpayer paid vehicle around himself, would choose to go on and on about the short term use of a government vehicle by a new hire assistant AG is questionable in its motivation. But this too, is cited as a reason to censure Gregory. That the government paid to repair one of it’s own cars is certainly not news….except that they actually paid it timely for a change.

Now we learn that the Minority whip at the legislature wants the AG’s head on a platter for a series of imagined offenses. Not the least of which is the unmentioned opposition to some of the Minority legislator’s pet projects. A resolution has been put forward (HR15-139) calling on the Governor to waste valuable time, like the legislators in question have already done, investigating and ultimately firing Matthew Gregory. No, firing the AG is at best a red herring designed to take our eyes off of other unpleasant but unresolved matters. At worst it is a personal vendetta against a guy who has acted unfavorably to the wishes of the accusing lawmaker on more than one occasion.

Lacking any substantive evidence of real wrongdoing on the part of the AG, I think we and the Governor should ignore this bit of off base puffery and concentrate on more important, real issues, of which there are many facing us right now.

That’s all. Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em, (but make sure the package has that tax stamp on it)!
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Quote of the week: Methinks he doth protest too much. William Shakespeare (1564-1616) (Actually a widely used paraphrase instead of a quote).

Bruce A. Bateman writes Sour Grapes when the moon is full and the mood strikes. Stay tuned for each exciting episode.
“Yes, he is opinionated.”