Frontier Former Editor

April 9, 2008

Happy birthday Big Tom . . .

No, no. no, not that Big Tom . . . .


This Big Tom, whom you may know better as . . . .


Tom Lehrer!

Everyone in the world will be posting YouTube clips, so I’ll just save the bandwidth and point you here and here . . .


January 21, 2008

Maybe the little things do count more

Filed under: Blacksburg, bureaucracy, observations, old college days, rationality, schools, Virginia, Virginia Tech — Frontier Former Editor @ 4:35 pm

I spent part of the coldest day of this year in Blacksburg, Va. Sunday and picked up this little piece of literature: (more…)

October 20, 2007

Tales from the FFE-side . . .

Thanks to long-term sleep deprivation, I’ve had several little episodes come bubbling to the surface in recent days

9E8E, 9U44 . . . . they are but innocuous terms for the Dilbert dunker. If you’ve seen “Officer and a Gentleman,” you may have wished that Richard Gere drowned in the contraption.

Basically, it was a frame supporting two inclined rails. A set of stairs led up and along the frame to a platform where, waiting for the Naval Aviator-in-training or the old hand requalifying for flight status, was a simulated cockpit with a seat fitted with a standard military aircraft shoulder and lap harness. A roll bar above the seat capped off the tub.


August 30, 2007

Ultimately, it’s all about leadership and not about PR . . . . .

Filed under: crime, dumbasses, guns, old college days, public relations, sociopathy, Virginia Tech, weapons — Frontier Former Editor @ 9:28 am

 Report of the Virginia Tech Review Panel

(Chapter VII, pp 79-82) 


At this point, the police may have made an error in reaching a premature conclusion that their initial lead was a good one, or at least in conveying that impression to the Virginia Tech administration. While continuing their investigation, they did not take sufficient action to deal with what might happen if the initial lead proved false. They conveyed to the university Policy Group that they had a good lead and that the person of interest was probably not on campus.

(That is how the Policy Group understood it, according to its chair and other members who were interviewed by the panel and who presented information at one of its open hearings.)

After two people were shot dead, police needed to consider the possibility of a murderer loose on campus who did a double slaying for unknown reasons, even though a domestic disturbance was a likely possibility. The police did not urge the Policy Group to take precautions, as best can be understood from the panel’s interviews.


April 17, 2007

What fun we have in the southwestern part of the commonwealth

Filed under: crime, guns, old college days, Virginia Tech — Frontier Former Editor @ 2:39 am

In case you haven’t heard today, Virginia took back a record from the likes of the Columbine killers and Charles Whitman – we now are the worst mass killing on a school campus in American history.

 While several things are still understandably fuzzy, one interesting point is – at the admission of administrators – why didn’t Virginia Tech campus officials institute an existing e-mail and cell phone warning system when two dead bodies were found in an on-campus dorm and no shooter had yet been identified?

 I just finished having this argument with a family member who pointed out that one had to be at the scene to understand the thought processes of those on the scene.  To a point, that’s true. But there’s always the point that a university had two dead people on campus and no way of knowing whether or not the perp was still on campus or what his/her intentions were beyond that.

 There’s no telling if that course of action would have prevented further loss of life – assuming that the same person committed all the murders – but it sure would have added another variable to the equation for the killer or killers.

 Assuming that two dead people in a campus dorm was a domestic issue? I’m sorry, but that’s asinine under any circumstances.

May 6, 2006

Edward L. Henson, Jr.

Filed under: history, humanism, humor, old college days — Frontier Former Editor @ 7:35 pm

Part of my outrage on this blog in the last few days was fueled by the death of a professor of mine, Dr. Edward L. Henson, Jr.

Long before John Candy showed up in a John Hughes movie and claimed the sobriquet, Dr. Henson earned the nickname Uncle Buck among my classmates at what was then Clinch Valley College.

And our Uncle Buck wasn’t some fat lovable slob in Chi-town.

Buck Henson was probably the finest instructor, finest gentleman and finest American I’d ever known. And if I could ever overcome my weaknesses as a human being, Buck Henson is the kind of person I’d most want to be.

Buck lived a long life, and the last decade left so many of us who knew him in a prelude to mourning as his faculties faded.

But a quarter-century ago, Uncle Buck was a force of nature. Well over 6 feet tall, he dressed very conservatively, carried an old leather briefcase to and from classes, and wielded a ferocious intellect sharpened with a friendly, gentlemanly manner and a sense of humor that could immobilize an entire roomful of people.

My favorite Buck Henson story was in the spring of 1984. I was under a great deal of stress, facing six final exams and completion of my history paper for graduation.

Many of us in the department’s class of 1984 shared several classes that spring, and the usual suspects inhabited Buck’s U.S. diplomatic history class one morning. One of our compatriots, Hank Williams, Jr. (not the singer, but a well-respected and extraordinarily shy man) was first in the lineup for the day’s class presentations on various figures in the nation’s diplomatic history.

As Hank took his station at the podium, we all heard Buck’s deep-throated chuckle from the back of the room. The chuckling built, as we all looked at each other in a confused manner. Hank got nervous and began checking his shirt buttons and zipper.

After three or four minutes, Henson grinned and said the most memorable phrase I’d ever heard in college or graduate school.

“Mr. Williams, I don’t know whether to ask you to give your presentation on Sumner Welles or to sing three bars of “My Cheating Heart.””

Long before that, Buck had earned my undying respect for his ability to humanize history and show his love for his country while being quite willing to make the most direct, dispassionate, articulate criticisms for the idiotic acts committed in the name of democracy at various times throughout the last 230 years.

And Buck was just as willing to admire the great things of this country. Buck loved his family, his community, his country and mankind.

Buck was an infantry officer in Europe just weeks after Germany surrendered, and his tales of duty on the Italian-Yugoslavian frontier left one wondering just what American leaders were thinking after they had conquered the most evil force of mankind to that point. His were not stories of fire-breathing, God-fearing patriotism. They were stories – sometimes funny, sometimes surreal, sometimes sad -of a 20-year old man coming to grips with a world outside Virginia.

My agnosticism doesn’t mean I reject the idea of a God. And if there is one, I truly hope that he or she or it has eased Buck Henson’s suffering in reward for the effect he has had on so many people.

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