June 09, 2012

Lucille Myatt Talton 1919 - 2012

She was born near Raleigh North Carolina to a fairly well to do dairy farmer. Despite this, and to the astonishment of all, she married one of the field hands...a scrappy but utterly impoverished young man from the streets of Newport News who had moved south in search of work. She followed him  to the coast where he built houses and rented them. She bore him a son, then saw him off to war and waited 4 years until he returned in traction. She nursed him back to health, bore him another son, stood by and supported him as he built a business from nothing, built a boat, and became one of the most sought after charter boat captains on the Crystal Coast. A decade ago she buried him, and tonight, just after dinner she joined him.

  Despite her age, it was a bit of a shock. She had actually been improving by leaps and bounds over the last few months and had regained the ability to walk. Nevertheless,  my grandmother, who was born in an utterly different world, passed quite suddenly this evening a little after 6.

  The things she'd seen, the change she'd experienced...it truly boggles the mind.

  She was born before women could vote. For a third of her life there was a polio season. For the first decade of her life there was no electricity in her house. She saw the great depression, a world war the cold war, Jim Crow, integration, all six moon landings, and the Berlin Wall go up and come down. She saw the introduction of radio, then television and then the internet.  She saw all the other things that transpired over nearly a century.

Now, in the blink of an eye, all that perspective has left us.

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March 07, 2012

Eternal Father, strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bidd'st the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea.

Captain Carrol LeFon USN, better known to many of us as  Neptunus Lex, has died.  After his retirement he flew F-21 Kfir's as a civilian contractor providing aggressor training to Navy and Air Force pilots. Yesterday, while performing that duty he perished in a crash.

Cdr. Salamander, has much more as well as a round up of links to remembrances.

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March 01, 2012

Well, Crap.

 Andrew Breitbart died last night.
 11 months older than me...which...I'm thinking is really too young.

Few have had as much impact. With Drudge he really changed the media world.

More here and here.

In any event, reaction to this individuals passing reinforces my view that however infuriating it is to be on team stupid, it is a far more noble calling  then the other side. Ace has further thoughts on that.

Note that this headline at the Telegraph seems to kick the guy by focusing  on the Shirley Sherrod controversy, claiming that he maligned the woman through editing. That's not quite what happened.

(More behind the spoiler tag)

In the first video, Sherrod describes how she racially discriminates against a white farmer. She describes how she is torn over how much she will choose to help him. And, she admits that she doesn’t do everything she can for him, because he is white. Eventually, her basic humanity informs that this white man is poor and needs help. But she decides that he should get help from "one of his own kind”. She refers him to a white lawyer.

Sherrod’s racist tale is received by the NAACP audience with nodding approval and murmurs of recognition and agreement. Hardly the behavior of the group now holding itself up as the supreme judge of another groups’ racial tolerance.

Sherrod was making an important point. The audience was missing it. The video did not put her in a bad light, but the Administration threw her under the bus. Beck and others on the right came to her defense and it is clear from Brietbarts own story that the video was not an expose' on Sherrod.

These facts of course mean  nothing to those who feared Brietbart.

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February 03, 2012

One of The Great Ones Has Passed

Peter Decker Jr., one of Virginia's outstanding citizens has passed away at 76. He came from nothing, growing up in a small house in Lambert's Point (If you're not familiar with Norfolk that area  is "the docks"; a cargo terminal).Decker founded a law firm which became one of the most respected in the state. He was also instrumental in the revival of Norfolk's downtown. 30 years ago there were rats running down Granby Street, now there are cafes, malls, shops and...mermaids, which were actually his idea.

He was a remarkable philanthropist who gave millions to causes ranging from children's hospitals to saving the Chrysler Museum. His flamboyant voice was a fixture on local radio extolling any number of charities.

This morning the local talk station pretty much suspended their programming from 6-10 and filled the entire time with callers and e-mailers telling stories about how the great 'Petuh Deckuh' had impacted their livers either through his many charities or directly.

There are very few men like him and we are all diminished by his passing.

He will be greatly missed.  More here and here.

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October 05, 2011

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs just died.

Professor Jacobson has thoughts on Jobs who had just recently retired from Apple. Ars Technica has an obituary.

Jobs really changed the world and ultimately for the better.

Few people remember what a change this was....

He was only 56.
His short time amongst us was not certainly wasted.


"There’s always the hope that if you sit and watch long enough, the beachball will vanish and the thing it interrupted will return."

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January 12, 2011


I started to blog this memorial service in Tucson...but something about it is creeping me out. I'm not sure what, maybe, the logos...maybe the T-shirts.
Perhaps the cheering.

The president should be on in a moment. Thus far he has actually handled this with a good deal of class.

UPDATE: It seems to be perfectly decent speech by the President. But the cheers seem really inappropriate and off-putting.

UPDATE2: He went there.

UPDATE3: Maybe not, it actually sounds like he's trying to walk back some of the excesses of his erstwhile allies.

UPDATE4: Pretty decent speech...it just won't...end.

All in all a decent speech. It went quite long but covered all the bases and was respectful and actually presidential. It was the audience that seemed off.

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September 22, 2010

A Great one Passes

Captain Robert Truax, USN, (later USAF) has died. Perhaps best known for the invention of the JATO system, most of his contributions went largely unsung. However, Truax was one of the most important figures in the history of rocket development.  In addition to working on such projects as Polaris and Apollo he was a advocate for cheap access to space and was well ahead of his time in trying for suborbital space tourism.   Clarke Lindsay has a fine overview of his career here.

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September 09, 2010

Satoshi Kon

I had missed this, ironically because I was in Japan at the time.

One of the greats has passed.

Satoshi Kon died on August 24. He was just 46.

Via Blogfonte, Makiko Itoh has provided a translation of his farewell, here.

Kon was, hands down one of the greatest animation  talents of the last decade and a half. His work included...

Perfect Blue,
Millennium Actress,
Tokyo Godfathers
Paranoia Agent

He was at the top of his form.

Such a loss...

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May 13, 2010

Frank Frazetta, 1928-2010

Frank Frazetta has died.

Few had as big an impression on the look of our fantasies as this man.

May he rest in peace.

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April 19, 2010

Carl Macek 1951-2010

 Carl Macek, died of a hear attack Saturday

Most of today's anime fans have probably not heard of this man, but he was  important in bringing anime to the mainstream.

In the 1980's Maceck  acquired the US rights to Super Dimension Fortress Macross and attempted to market in the US. His company produced an excellently dubbed, quite accurately translated and very respectful US version of this hit Japanese mech show. It found no buyers except for a brief video release of the first few episodes. The reason was that the syndication market of the time required 65 episodes, minimum. Maceks response was to get two more less successful series, dub them and market them as a 3 series package...which went nowhere. At the time, no one would buy three separate series....so he rewrote and re-dubbed them  as one series, keeping the shows plots basically intact but linking them together by an overarching storyline and a somewhat awkward narration that made the shows a trilogy.
For reasons not entirely clear, he also produced an original BGM that was passable and even innovative by the standards of US cartoons of the day but was vastly inferior to the soundtracks of all three series. Most of the (very few) anime fans of the time sneered...but the show was a huge hit.

I would say that most younger fans  (and those who discovered it in the last decade or so ) would not be aware of Anime today if not for Robotech, which, for all its imperfections, introduced a lot of people to the art form.

Perhaps more importantly, the huge marketing buzz around Robotech in '86-'87 proved that licensing extant anime series  for American audiences other than pre-teens was economically viable.

This is not to say that there hadn't been Anime shows brought over before, but with the exception of a very few like Starblazers, all had been edited for viewing by US pre-teens, which standards and practices considered to be an exceedingly fragile species.

Robotech was certainly heavily edited, but the drama, death and romance were kept largely intact which caused it to stand out as quite a novelty and attracted a high school and college age demographic. The success of this show started a flurry of interest  by fans in Anime....at a time ( the mid to late 80's) that Japans anime and manga industries were in one their most productive and innovative phases ever. Robotech's success also made pitching subsequent US TV animation projects aimed at audiences other than children...such as Batman...vastly more viable.

Macek not only did Robotech, he was instrumental in promoting and popularizing Hayo Miyazaki in the US. He directed the original US dubs of Totoro and other Ghibli films which were as good or better than the later Disney versions.

 Jerry Beck has a good rundown of Maceks career here.  Current fans may not know his name, but Macek brought over Naruto and Bleach, two shows that most will have a passing familiarity with.

I never met the man but I need to say a few words about the animosity he generates in some quarters (which can be a sight to behold). A lot of anime fans of a certain age ( mine and older) will go on about how they would have done better and been more respectful of the source material. This ignores the reality of the market at the time....for a very good reason....these detractors didn't do it. They talked about someday doing it.

Well Carl Macek did do it and his subsequent accomplishments belie not only a certain degree of business savvy but a love of animation in general. Carl Macek had the motivation and courage to start a business, make it succeed, fall down , pick himself up and do it again....and again. He brought a lot of entertainment to a hell of a lot of people and helped to jump start an industry many of us enjoy
He is despised by people who, for the most part, endlessly aspire, never attempt and angrily snipe at those who actually do what they only dream of.

If one is judged by the virtues of ones accomplishments and the nature of ones enemies then Carl Macek led a damned successful life.

He will be missed.

UPDATE: In the comments John Turner points out that of all the Streamline dubs of Ghibli films, Laputa was actually the one that Macek was NOT involved in. Thanks for the heads up sir. I have corrected the text.

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September 22, 2009

Horrible News

Please send condolences to Wonderduck.
His mom passed away Sunday.

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November 24, 2008

John Corbett Talton 1921-2008

 My Great Uncle John has passed away.

Born in 1921, he was one of 7 children.  He survived a bout of whooping cough in his early years. By the time he was 10 the nation was in the throes of the Great Depression and he frequently missed school doing odd jobs to help feed his parents and 7 siblings.

When the US finally became involved in World War 2, he enlisted in the Navy. After serving in various capacities in the battle of the Atlantic, he volunteered for a spot on an underwater demolition team. Despite their name, their concept of operations at the time involved rather little swimming. Rather, they planned to use rubber rafts to approach obstacles and plant their explosives, swimming only a fairly short distance and freediving. It was hoped that darkness and surprise would cover them.

On June 6 1944 the folly of this became clear.Uncle John's unit was tasked with clearing obstructions on what would be known to history as "Easy Red" sector of Omaha Beach.

On approach their raft bottomed out, forcing them to swim nearly half a mile under the tender ministrations of Rommel's crack machine gunners. The swimmers on ether side of  took rounds in their satchel charges, detonating them and blasting his shipmates to the four winds.

Uncle John found himself unable to contact anyone else in his squad but swam through a hellish fusillade of enemy fire to plant his charges. After that, he waded ashore with the first wave and, dodging machine gun fire, pulled several wounded allied soldiers and sailors from the blood red surf. He grabbed a rifle from a fallen soldier and, despite having next to no infantry training, moved inland off the beach.

Due to the fact that his insignia (and wetsuit) had been lost when his shipmates exploded, he entered battle wearing swim trunks, a scavenged rifle and an ammo belt. As he had no way to prove that he was navy, he was pressed into Army service wearing a dead mans uniform and served along with other members of his unit in France as an infantryman for several weeks before he was returned to what was left of his unit. Of 175 UDT swimmers engaged at Normandy, 91 were casualties, including all but one of the other members of John Talton's squad.

After the war, he went to college and became a mechanical engineer. He worked at the Radford Arsenal and for Hercules Engineering where he worked on rockets and missiles. He was involved in several NASA projects involving solid rockets, particularly trans-stages, and assisted in the development of the Nike-Ajax and Nike-Hercules AAA missiles. He was also instrumental in the development the innovative solid rocket motor for the ridiculously fast accelerating Sprint point defence ABM.

He did charitable works through the Masons and Kiwannis International for 50 years as well as his church.

He can be seen interviewed at length in Peter Jennings 50th anniversary D-Day special and in the History Channel's  Suicide Missions of D Day .

Update: Fixed link. Corrected text. (John Talton did not serve in the Pacific. His brother, my great uncle Doug, served as a Landing Craft Coxwain after commanding a landing craft at Normandy.)

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July 12, 2008

Tony Snow June 1, 1955 – July 12, 2008

I always liked him, both as press secretary and as a talk radio host, he always came across as decent as well as smart.

The combination of courage, optimism and dignity he displayed in his last year in the face of his terminal cancer was nothing short of awe inspiring.

More  thoughts  here.

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July 07, 2008

Thomas M.Disch 1940-2008

Sci Fi writer Thomas M. Disch commited suicide on July 4th.

Thoughts on his passing from Bruce Lewis and Colleen Doran.

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March 18, 2008

Sir Arthur C Clarke 1917-2008


One of the giants of Sci Fi has passed.

Sir Arthur C Clarke, Royal air force officer, inventor of the communications satellite and the concept of the space elevator, undersea explorer and author has died.

Though it must be said that he led a full and long life, his is a loss dearly felt. He was a renaissance man, and a visionary the likes of which is far too rare.

Big roundup here, Jerry Pournelle, * has thoughts on his old friend here.

*who is himself undergoing treatment for brain cancer (and has a tip jar)

UPDATE MARCH 22:via Instapundit, Clarkes final interview.

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March 12, 2008

Dave Stevens 1955-2008


Dave Stevens, creator of  the Rocketeer , pin-up artist extrordinaire and all round nice guy has died.

He is well remembered here .

I did not know him, but I am aware of one particular example of his classiness.

He made some money doing pictures of Betty Paige ( he based a character in the Rocketeer on her) long after she had retired.

No one knew who she was and her image was considered to be in the public domain.

Dave Stevens tracked her down….and paid her royalties.

Nice guy.
Class act.

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March 04, 2008

The Dungeon Master Passes

Gary Gygax has died.

I actually played only a little Dungeons and Dragons, but I played a LOT of RPGs when I was younger. That entire niche industry was started by him.

Today, when people think of RPGs many are thinking in terms of computer games. Gygax was able to help people achieve a similar experience with pencil, paper a few dice and their imaginations.

The computer game industry actually owes him a greater debt than many know as his system was to varying degrees the inspiration for many of the most successful games out there. Indeed, the lucrative MMORPG genre was in effect "play tested" by Gygax and his players for 20 years before the tech caught up.


 Like many of those who played his games, Gary Gygax was a self described nerd, but in the final analysis, he brought a lot of people considerable enjoyment.

...and that is a better legacy than many will ever have.

Order of the Stick pays tribute here.


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March 03, 2008

Tom Talton 1927-2007

My great uncle Tom died the other night.

He was born into comparative poverty, which became quite acute as the Depression hit 2 years later. He was the youngest of 6 children only 5 of whom made it to adulthood. During World war 2he served as a machinist mate in the Coast Guard, operating on patrol boats out of Wilmington...and....in a bizzare twist....for a brief time on a submarine. I never got details of this oddity except that he hated it and the sub was an old World war 1 relic that had been brought out of mothballs and was in terrible shape. ( I assume it was an O or R boat). This may have been part of ASW training. I know that the Coast Guard put a few officers on subs for that reason. In any event, his stint on that vessel was brief .

After the war he worked in the family farm, built and either sold or rented out several houses and eventually became a commercial fisherman. In 1958 he took possession of the FV Tom and Jerry and ran charters...participating in every fishing tournament from 1960-2007. With my late grandfather, he was one of the first along the Moorehead NC charter boat piers to accept  African American parties in the late 1950s.

Uncle Tom was a well known fixture along the waterfront in Moorehead for a great many years.  He was recognized as an expert seaman and respected captain. He is survived by my Aunt Jerry, his sister Thelma and his three surviving brothers, two of whom are also WW2 veterans.

No few words can do justice to the tapestry of a persons life, especially one as long and complex as his. The things and the changes people his age have seen in their lifetime are almost beyond belief.

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February 27, 2008

William F. Buckley 1924-2008

 I have just been informed that William F. Buckley has died.

   Few people have made as much difference as he did and fewer still have made it peacefully, intellectually and for the cause of liberty.

   When Buckley founded National Review, conservatives, and what would now be called libertarians were utterly in the wilderness. The notion of any meaningful restriction on the role and function of government, indeed the very concept of the US as a Republic was a minority view....almost a fringe one.

   Through sheer determination, and his considerable skills as a debater and writer, Buckley used his little intellectual magazine the way the founders of this republic used their pamphlets, to spread ideas about liberty, the threats to the nation and what role government should actually have. These were arguments that the left had effectively all but silenced for quite a while, and for some years, Buckley was a lone voice echoing in the wilderness...

He was however, a quite erudite voice and he caught peoples attention with his impressive knowledge, wit and idiosyncratic mannerisms.

Buckley helped to bring about a sea change in American politics. He helped to show  that a conservative interpretation of the US constitution, did not mean being a political ostrich.Through sheer intellectual excellence he  jump started a movement. He famously joked that  a conservative intellectual was required to 'stand athwart history, yelling stop'. This was occasionally used to malign him as an unthinking reactionary, but, in fact, was likely a reference to the "progressive" view of history inexorably leading to more and more centralization and ultimately "utopia" a very dark place which has little place for individualism.

Buckley was certainly not unthinking nor was he hide bound. He did change his views over time particularly with regards to civil rights and always on the side of greater freedom. Ultimately, he straddled the dividing lines between conservative and libertarian philosophies and tended to come down, particularly in later years more often than not on the side of liberty (he came to be convinced that drug legalization was the best course for instance) .

He will be missed.

More here.

UPDATE: Even more here, here, here, and.... here.

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February 12, 2008

Steve Gerber 1947-2008

One of the more important writers in the world of comics, Steve Gerber has passed away after a long and terrible illness. Gerber's quirky charachters (Howard the Duck, The Defenders) and stories were superb and he brought joy to many people including me. He is remembered here, here and here.

Via The Beat, comes a list of some of the charachters he created.

• A. Bizarro
• All-Night Party
• Angar the Screamer
• Princess Ariel
• Baphomet (comics)
• Cybernary
• Death-Stalker
• Destiny
• Destroyer Duck
• Doctor Bong
• Doctor Fate (Kent V. Nelson) (Replacement version)
• Exiles (Malibu Comics)
• Foolkiller
• Hard Time
• Headmen
• Howard the Duck
• Amber Hunt
• Hydro-Base
• Hydro-Men
• Ikthalon
• Jennifer Kale
• Kamuu
• KISS (Marvel Universe versions)
• Korrek
• Korvac
• Lord Pumpkin
• Mandrill
• Montesi
• N’Kantu, the Living Mummy
• Nekra
• Nevada
• Nikki
• Aleta Ogord
• Omega the Unknown
• Ookla the Mok
• Phantom Blonde
• Poison
• Red Guardian (later known as Starlight)
• Ruby Thursday
• Richard Rory
• Shanna the She-Devil
• Silver Samurai
• Sludge
• Starhawk
• Stewart the Rat
• Therea
• Thog
• Thundarr the Barbarian
• Void Indigo
• Wundarr the Aquarian

We have lost a lot...


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