Monthly Archives: April 2005

More On Dr. Jesse

O, what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practice to deceive.
–Sir Walter Scott, poet, from Marmion

But my how we improve the score,
As we practice more and more!
–Mel, the cook on Alice

And the controversy around Jesse Lujan grows. Jeff Evans, yes – that Jeff Evans, contacted the PDN after yesterday’s story. He affirmed that Lujan regularly called into Evan’s radio show as “Dr. Jesse Lujan” in the early 80’s and “discussed his career as a ‘thoracic surgeon’ extensively.” Today’s article continues with an interview of Lujan’s childhood neighbor. She told the PDN Lujan told her he was a doctor in a partnership with two other physicians in California.

Of course I have no idea what the neighbor’s agenda might be, and as for Jeff Evans… Let’s just say he spent time in a federal prison on tax evasion, so take whatever he says with a grain of salt.

But it looks like Lujan puffed up his resume to impress the folks back home. It is a human urge to inflate our achievements and it happens all the time. Hell, I could go down to the strip bars in Tumon tonight and meet a dozen ‘med students’ jiggling their way across the stage and into med school. The problems arise when the lie is inevitably found out. Remember Admiral Jeremy Boorda who committed suicide in 1996 after it surfaced that he wore Vietnam combat decorations he never actually earned. It seemed like a rather minor point to civilians, but the shame of his exposure drove Boorda to take his own life just hours before an interview with Newsweek about the allegations.

At least Lujan didn’t go around announcing his discovery of cold fusion. But passing oneself off as a heart surgeon and thinking that would go undetected demonstrates either incredible hutzpah or dense stupidity. My money is on the latter. I’ve met Lujan a couple times, and he always struck me as a box of rocks. And let’s face it, it was a lot easier to pass this stuff off before the internet and Google turned everybody into an armchair Sam Spade.

I find this all fairly humorous; perhaps I just like seeing a Republican squirm after all that brouhaha during last year’s election about John Kerry and his supposedly ill-gotten Purple Hearts. I doubt it will lead to any repercussions in Lujan’s political career. After all, this is Guam: the land where a rapist can be elected governor, cover up a murder while in office, commit all sorts of graft and corruption with his cronies, and still get re-elected by a landslide. So Lujan will be able to dodge this dust up, especially since he’s part of a Republican super majority in the current legislature. And the ongoing chaos at the hospital will provide plenty of cover for him to hide behind until the dust settles about these allegations.

Dr. Speedo Will See You Now

Much like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s blithe comments about gang bangs and drug use during his muscle man heyday haunting his gubernatorial bid in California, Senator Jesse Lujan is going into damage control mode over muscle magazine interviews that portray the Republican senator as a thoracic surgeon. The magazine articles describing the muscle bound meathead senator as a thoracic surgeon were brought up by radiologist Nathaniel Berg, who is concerned about ethical violations from a current senator oversees the hospital as vice chairman of the legislature’s health committee.

The articles in question come from twenty year old issues of Muscle Digest, where an fitness article under a picture of Senator Lujan in a Speedo was attributed to “Jesse Lujan, M.D.” and dispensed fitness information in answer to reader’s questions. The PDN article includes several quotes from their newspaper archives in which Lujan was described as a physician, including quotes attributed to Lujan that sound like he’s describing himself as a physician. Check it out:

A decade prior to becoming a Guam senator, Jesse Lujan was featured in two different publications and was referred to as a thoracic surgeon.

  • Pacific Daily News, Nov. 11, 1983: “In addition to his obvious talents, Lujan, or Dr. Lujan as he is known to his patients, is a thoracic surgeon and also writes regularly for ‘Muscle Digest.'”
  • Pacific Daily News, Feb. 22, 1984: “When he’s not body-building, the former Tamuning resident and 1973 John F. Kennedy High School grad is a thoracic physician in a San Diego clinic. In his profession, he is constantly being quizzed by his patients about different types of therapy for the sports-minded. ‘They mistake me as a sports specialist,’ he said. ‘I wish I would have gotten into sports medicine.'”
  • Muscle Digest, August 1983: “‘I’ve always wanted to be a physician for as long as I could remember. When I was growing up in Guam a neighbor of ours was a general surgeon and his influence on me during my formative days made me realize that being a doctor was the only thing that I could be when I grew up.’ That was the beginning of the growth of young Jesse Lujan, a future physician.”

    “He completed his undergraduate work in fine fashion and was accepted to medical school at the same institution. Those four years passed very fast and before long he was into his internship and later finished his residency in thoracic surgery.”
    –Pacific Daily News archives

Senator Lujan professed his innocence yesterday, claiming this was the first he’s heard of this interview. Who knows? I know somebody who edits a magazine and regularly attributed ‘reader letters’ to various acquaintances we knew from college. So perhaps Lujan is correct. But it sure shows how something can come back and bite you in the ass once your in public office. So I guess I better not say anything about my Nobel Prize in chemistry, nor that stint I did as an astronaut back in the early nineties.

Gas Hits Over $2.70 a gallon

Boy, I take one day off and while I’m not looking gas prices surge past $2.70 a gallon on Guam. Crikey. Time to start riding the bus to work.

You know what ticks me off? This whole nonsense about gas prices. The price for a gallon of regular unleaded is now $2.7099/100 – what the hell is this 99 mils crap? It’s always been like this – ‘Uh, we’re just gonna tack on another penny to gasoline prices, but advertise it really, really small so nobody actually notices.’ So the paper is stuck on saying gas prices are now $2.70 a gallon, when anyone with a fucking brain knows it’s really $2.71 a gallon but for that one hundreth of a penny.

Makes me all warm and fuzzy knowing oil companies are recording record profits and don’t know what to do with all that money.

Autumn in Japan

While I am still monkeying around with this WordPress thing, here’s a photo from Halloween in Japan last year. I went driving up into the mountains west of Tokyo with David, taking in the fall colors and the occassional shower.

Forest Path in Japan

Golly, it sure was pretty up in those mountains that misty afternoon.

Godless Calculus

It’s funny, but frighteningly true: Ridiculopathy.com: Calculus, Quadratic Equations Split Pennsylvania Town

Two weeks ago parent volunteer Holly R. Thanthow took a break from passing out Jack Chick tracts in the school’s courtyard to visit her son’s fourth period class taught by newcomer John Scopes. What she saw there shocked her to the core.

“He asked them to find the area under a curve- without using cubits at all. I raised religious objections since the lesson completely goes against Genesis 7:20, but he said my son had to do the work anyway. When I asked Mr. Scopes to refrain from teaching from his so-called ‘math textbook’ he flat out refused. I know, I couldn’t believe it myself.”

Art – Mathematics

Melencolia I by Albrecht DürerWhile looking around the New Yorker for the lytico-bodig article, I came across another story about the Chudnovsky brothers, an eccentric duo of mathematicians featured in a long New Yorker story from 1992, The Mountains of Pi, by Richard Preston. It was a fascinating article about their quest to find patterns in the irrational number pi and how they constructed a supercomputer in their living room to aid in their search. I read Mountains of Pi several years ago and enjoyed it thoroughly.

In the current issue of the New Yorker, Richard Preston revisits the Chudnovsky brothers ensconced in their new digs in Brooklyn. This time around, the mathematicians are working on a new project, assembling high-resolution digital photos of the Unicorn Tapestries into a single, enormous image of each tapestry.

The Unicorn Tapestries are a priceless example of medieval art, depicting the hunt and capture of a unicorn. I saw the tapestries several years ago at the Cloisters, a medieval art museum run by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It was a humbling experience. They are humongous wall hangings, over 500 years old and incredibly rich in detail and skill. It boggles the mind thinking about how difficult it must have been to weave them.

In 1998, the Cloisters took the tapestries down for renovation and during the process a complete series of digital photos was taken of both the front and the back of each tapestry. But combing the images together into a cohesive single image of each tapestry was beyond the skill of the people at the Met. A chance conversation brought the Chudnovskys into the picture, along with their custom designed supercomputer at New York’s Polytechnic University in Brooklyn. It took them awhile, but they were able to stitch together the images from The Capture of the Unicorn into one large image. The story is a fascinating combination of art and mathematics.

Two Good Movies

I was nursing an Olympic sized hangover yesterday, the result of a hazy night of beers and shots with a couple rummy friends. I honestly don’t know how they do it all the time. I was barely functional yesterday, I only left the house once all day, and that was to the cornershop for Coke and bag of chips.

I spent most of yesterday napping and watching a couple movies on DVD. I went to Blockbuster Friday at lunch and signed up for their 30 day, revolving rental thing. It’s been a long while since I watched any DVD’s and they had a passle I wanted to watch. So I’ll give it a whirl for a month and watch all the movies I need to see.

I picked up three movies, and watched two of them yesterday. They were both really good, but then I heard good things about both of them.

  • The Incredibles: Honestly, I think most of the really good movies coming out of Hollywood these days are the digital animation features. The Incredibles continues the trend with an enjoyable romp through a superhero world. I really enjoyed the super villain bit, including his James Bond style secret island lair. Definitely check out the short cartoon on the second DVD, “Jack-Jack Attack,” I couldn’t stop laughing at that one.
  • Donnie Darko: I don’t know how I missed this movie for so long. I watched it once, then watched it again with the director’s commentary on. He spent a great deal of time discussing Joseph Campbell, and that’s a good thing. Can’t really go wrong referencing Campbell, after all he wrote the book on mythical quests and heroes. Sublimely weird, full of strange stuff, a few frights, melancholy and bizarre constructions, Donnie Darko reminded me of another supremely bizarre movie I enjoyed, Jacob’s Ladder. And Jacob’s Ladder featured Elizabeth Peña, who voiced a character in the Incredibles! Things that make you go hmmm… A hat tip to the every tasteful Jimbo for nudging me towards this cult classic.

I got one more movie to go, and it is the sketchiest of the three. Girl with a Pearl Earring sounded interesting, and I do have that art degree, so maybe I will enjoy it. And Scarlett Johansson ain’t exactly tough to watch either, another plus in the movie’s favor.

Lytico-Bodig In The New Yorker

I’ve been getting a lot of hits the past few days on lytico-bodig, probably because of the New Yorker story, the Tangle by Jonathan Weiner. Sorry, this isn’t the place. I haven’t read it either, because it is not online and current issues of any magazine take about a month to get to Guam. It look interesting though, I’ll certainly read it when I get a chance. I’ve heard this theory before, and how the toxins build up in fruit bats. My only problem is that cycads are not really something a fruit bat would eat. Papaya, mango, star apple certainly are part of a fruit bat’s diet, but a hard little nut, deep in the center of prickly cycad? Maybe a desperate fanihi

Last Week’s Economic Conference

I meant to talk about this sooner, but I got sidetracked.

Last week the governor held the Guam Economic Development Conference, where he announced the newest five year plan. Hmmm, never a good thing when your economic conference starts taking plays from the communist playbook.

At the conference Governor Camacho unveiled his grand scheme to get the derailed island economy back on its feet. It seemed to sound like the big idea was getting more military infrastructure spending on Guam, requesting more money from Federal coffers be spent on Guam, and hoping to base more naval ships on Guam. Sense a trend here? Gimme, gimme, gimme. Great plan.

The governor trotted out some high-priced consultant that spent less than a week on Guam and pronounced it ‘G-G-G-G-G-G-Great!!’ According to Charles Santangelo, Guam would make a great place for American expatriates interested in doing business in Asia, but wary of actually living in Asia (you know – squat toilets), because Guam is just like America. Uh, dude? We are America.

He had some good things to say though, like how the island is a hub for trans-oceanic cables between Asia and North America. Too bad that won’t translate into very many jobs. And the weak American dollar will probably spur an increase in tourism in the short haul, until the rising cost of fuel makes quick jaunts to Guam unaffordable for most middle class Japanese looking to relax for a few days.

Anyway, one of the papers presented at the conference was grounded in reality and present both the good and the bad. Of course the PDN – Propaganda Daily News – made very little mention of anything negative at the conference. Thankfully, there’s a real newspaper that actually covers island news instead of the party line, the Marianas Variety. Regrettably, their website lacks any archiving, permalinks, or coherent site management. But I am willing to retype the article in question for my faithful visitors.

Where Has Guam’s Middle Class Gone?
By Gerardo R. Partido
Variety News Staff

Dr. Roseann Jones, a professor of economics at the University of Guam, yesterday warned that government and private sector leaders should also be mindful of the island’s middle class when formulating policy for the economy.

Speaking during the 2005 Guam Economic Development Conference, Jones said fewer economic opportunities of Guam and the deteriorating quality of island life in the past has driven many of the island’s best talents to the mainland.

This, Jones pointed out, has a resulted in a domino effect with island businesses also suffering due to declining consumers.

“Where has Guam’s middle class gone?” Jones asked rhetorically in her talk entitled “The Migration of Guam’s Middle Class.”

“They have watched their jobs go away and their home values go away,” the economist said.

Jones recounted going to a supermarket once and finding the store very low on inventory. She asked the clerk whether business was suffering because low inventory is always a sign of poor consumer demand and low spending power.

The clerk answered that the store was making a lot of money from food stamps but Jones said this was the wrong way to go.

During the early 1990s, Jones said the island had 42,000 people in the workforce. In the late ’90s, this figure increased to 75,000 but there was very high unemployment.

Currently, Jones said the workforce has come down to 60,000 because of the migration of Guam’s middle class.

Fortunately, Jones said the next phase for the island’s economy is growth with more military investments coming in and tourism on the upswing.

However, Jones qualified that her optimism was “cautious.”

“Will we have the capacity to staff the new businesses that will emerge from the economic upturn,” the professor asked.

She said the economy is now on the edge of a leap forward but the government and the private sector must ensure that the population stays on island.

“We must work hard to make the people like to live here,” she said.

She added that by growing the consumer base, island businesses would have more customers and be less dependent on the fickle tourism industry.

Mostly she pointed out the fragility of the island’s economy, the lack of a sold economic base and the lack of a coordinated response by the government in times of trouble. Stating the obvious I guess.

So I guess I should say that the economy is starting to pick up on Guam, it has to after the nadir of 9/11 and typhoons. Too bad the rapidly spiraling cost of fuel will crush any economic recovery in its infancy. Gasoline, electricity, airfares, shipping costs – everything is going to be affected negatively by the prohibitive cost of fuel.

In a way, Guam is a precursor to what will happen worldwide as the increasing scarcity of fuel drives prices up around the world. Once again, islands serve as a canary in a coal mine, warning the rest of the world about what is to come.

Ash Wednesday

Photo © Saipan Tribune & Marconi CalindasLiterally Ashen Wednesday. The ash cloud from Anatahan’s eruption yesterday blanketed Saipan and Tinian yesterday, turning the noon into twilight and covering everything in a fine layer of gritty ash. The noxious cloud was far less exciting on Guam. I didn’t notice any sulfurous smell or ashfall last night, and I was at a party beachside until about 10:00 pm. When I got up this morning however the Blue Torpedo was completely covered in a fine layer of dark gray dirt mottled with dried rain spatter. I guess it rained overnight, pulling the ash out of the atmosphere and onto my car.

Anatahan Erupts Again

Major eruption on Anatahan overnight. A huge cloud of ash is over Saipan right now, and the ash cloud is heading for Guam:

000
WWMY70 PGUM 060158
NPWMY

URGENT – WEATHER MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TIYAN GU
12 PM LST WED APR 6 2005

…VOLCANIC ASH CLOUD FROM ANATAHAN IS MOVING ACROSS THE MARIANA ISLANDS…

.ANATAHAN VOLCANO UNDERWENT A MAJOR ERUPTION OVERNIGHT…RELEASING VOLCANIC ASH AND GASES UP TO AN ALTITUDE OF FIFTY THOUSAND FEET. SATELLITE IMAGERY SHOWS THE ASH CLOUD EXPANDING SOUTH AND EAST FROM ANATAHAN HAS MOVED OVER TINIAN AND SAIPAN. IT IS EXPECTED TO MOVE ACROSS GUAM AND ROTA BY LATE THIS AFTERNOON.

GUZ001-002-003-004-061200-
GUAM-ROTA-TINIAN-SAIPAN-
12 PM LST WED APR 6 2005

…A VOLCANIC ASH ADVISORY IS NOW IN EFFECT FOR GUAM AND ROTA AS OF 12 PM…

…A VOLCANIC ASH ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT FOR TINIAN AND SAIPAN…

SATELLITE IMAGERY SHOWS THAT THE ASH CLOUD RELEASED IN THE OVERNIGHT ERUPTION OF ANATAHAN HAS MOVED SOUTH OVER TINIAN AND SAIPAN. THE ASH CLOUD IS EXPECTED TO MOVE OVER GUAM AND ROTA LATER THIS AFTERNOON…AND MAY PRODUCE A FALL OF ASH ON THESE ISLANDS.

THE VOLCANIC ASH…ALONG WITH VOLCANIC DUST AND GASES…MAY REDUCE VISIBILITY AT TIMES…AND MAY CAUSE BREATHING DIFFICULTIES. PEOPLE WITH RESPIRATORY PROBLEMS SHOULD REMAIN INDOORS IF THEY SEE ASH OR HAZE OR SMELL A SULFUROUS ODOR.

IF YOU SEE VOLCANIC ASH OR SMELL THE ODOR OF SULFUR…REPORT IT TO THE CNMI EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT OFFICE AT 670-322-9528 OR 9529. ON GUAM YOU MAY CALL CIVIL DEFENSE AT 475-9600. MONITOR THE LATEST STATEMENTS AND ADVISORIES FROM EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT OFFICIALS AND THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE.

$$
ZIOBRO

The ash cloud is visible on the GOES NOAA colorized IR loop. Pretty ominous looking. Apparently it is like twilight up in Saipan right now because of the ash cloud. And it is headed our way.

Twelve Monkeys

First of a series: Twelve Monkeys, a very good sci fi film. Take the time to read the screenplay, think about the cyclic nature of time portrayed in this film. Then go watch the movie.

Illini Come Up Short

It was close, very close. But the Fighting Illini came up short Monday night in St. Louis. So very close…

But close only counts in horseshoes and thermonuclear warheads. At least my hometown got some entertaining press coverage, including this column by Bernie Miklasz introducing St. Louis to his fellow journalists in town for the big game. And I will admit, I still lapse into the local patois and pronounce I-44 as ‘I farty farrr’ on occassion.

Hmm, that reminds me, I need to ‘warsh’ my clothes tonight…

Hoo Whee – Those Chinese Got Us (Round) Pegged (in a square hole)

So I found this article on Xinhua, the People’s Republic of China official newspaper. It’s all about how today’s teenagers are into oral and anal sex because it’s ‘safer’ and let’s girls remain pure and virginal. Wow. That’s pretty screwed up. This is what happens when sex education languishes in the schools.

And then I found a hilarious essay about this on Salon.com by Bill Maher. He rightly sees the irony in this behavior, as kids who sign abstinence pledges do what anybody in a contract does; they exploit the loopholes.

Seriously, when I was a teenager, the only kids having anal intercourse were the ones who missed. My idea of lubrication was oiling my bike chain. If I had known I could have been getting porn star sex the same year I took Algebra II, simply by joining up with the Christian right, I’d have been so down with Jesus they would have had to pry me out of the pew.