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The National Academies Keck Futures Initiative 2013 Conference on the Future of Advanced Nuclear Technologies

ImageLast November I was asked to be a panelist at the National Academies Keck Futures Initiative 2013 Conference on the Future of Nuclear Power at the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center in Irvine, California. We were tasked with identifying improvements in technology and other approaches that will ensure the future development and supply of radionuclides and radiopharmaceuticals for diagnostic imaging and therapy in the United States. Our team included some of the nation’s most eminent clinicians, radiochemists, nuclear physicists, and one ex-truck washer.

ImageDrinks are on the house!

The other panelists were good fellows all, bright-eyed, energetic, and courteous and deferential to a fault. The chairman kicked off the proceedings by asking each of us to state the problem as we saw it. Being seated immediately to his left, I went last. I took a deep breath and plunged in: (more…)

The Gold Coast Regiment

Originally published in Open Salon 28 May 2014


Italian Army sword, Italian Army bayonet, and Ethiopian swords on display at the Ghana Armed Forces Museum, Kumasi

The Gold Coast Regiment had its roots in the Gold Coast Constabulary, organized in 1879 as an internal security force and composed initially of personnel from the Hausa Constabulary of Southern Nigeria. The unit first saw action during the Ashanti wars. Reorganized in 1901 as the Gold Coast Regiment, the unit raised five battalions for service in the East African Campaign in the First World War.

Reorganized again in 1940, it was made up of nine battalions totaling just over 10,000 men, and, along with two brigades of soldiers from East Africa, composed the 12th Division of the British Army. (The 11th Division comprised two brigades of East African soldiers along with a brigade of Nigerian soldiers.) The 11th and 12th Divisions, along with the 1st Division of the South African Army, constituted the East Africa Command. Under the leadership of General Alan Cunningham, they entered Addis Ababa on 6 April 1941. (more…)

The serial killer as star

ImageOriginally published in Open Salon 3 June 2014

The era of the Serial-Killer-As-Star coincided almost perfectly with my formative years, which may explain a lot. (more…)

Bully for you

800px-Pirate_Lockers (640x480)

Originally published in Open Salon 21 March 2012

Noted philosopher and humanitarian Lady Gaga recently appeared at Harvard to kick off her anti-bullying foundation Born This Way, whose website describes its mission: “To foster a more accepting society, where differences are embraced and individuality is celebrated.” The website further states “The Foundation is dedicated to creating a safe community that helps connect young people with the skills and opportunities they need to build a braver, kinder world.”

Lady Gaga has added her voice to a growing chorus calling for the elimination of bullying in our schools. This chorus includes both Barack and Michelle Obama, who last year hosted a Conference on Bullying Prevention at which the First Lady declared “We all need to play a role – as teachers, coaches, as faith leaders, elected officials, and anyone who’s involved in our children’s lives,” while the President noted that “A third of middle and high school students have reported being bullied during the school year,” and added “We also have to make sure we’re doing everything we can to make sure no child is in that position in the first place.”

All this raises some questions. (more…)

“Our tragedies often start before we are born”

Flickering candle

Originally published in Open Salon 26 April 2012

Our tragedies often start before we are born” – Joan Bennett, in character as Elizabeth Collins Stoddard from Dark Shadows


 Over 40 years ago, a no-good punk and would-be grave robber named Willie Loomis pried open a coffin, a hand reached out and grabbed him by the throat — and a pop culture icon was born. (more…)

Thoughts on Valentine’s Day


Earliest known pictorial representation of Saint Valentine, from the Nuremberg Chronicle (1493)

Originally published on Open Salon 13 February 2011

I look back on Valentine’s Day when I was a boy in elementary school, with something less than genuine fondness. (more…)

Hawk Mountain


Originally published on Open Salon 24 October 2012

September 23, 2012

A marsh hawk comes zooming up from the valley below, executes a perfect hairpin turn, then vanishes seemingly into thin air. I don’t even try reaching for my camera, knowing there are some moments in life that cannot be photographed. (more…)


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