Tag Archives: society

The Bletchley Circle

Do you like a good murder mystery? Interested in code breaking? How about sociological changes and the critical role of women in WW2? The Bletchley Circle is just the ticket.

bletchleycircleProduced in England last year by ITV, The three-episode Bletchley Circle takes place in England in 1952. It revolves around four women who worked together at Bletchley Park during the war and have moved on to civilian life. When Susan reads that a serial killer is  killing young women in London, she suspects a method to the killer’s madness. She enlists the help of her three ex-Bletchley Park friends, and the four women put their heads together to discover the killer’s identity.

I watched only Episode 1, on my local PBS station. It was terrific. The sets and clothing evoked a sepia-toned early-fifties England that was still struggling with ration books. It lent an insight into the lives of women who’d helped win the war, but whose technology careers were cut short by peacetime. Eighty percent of the 12,000 people who’d worked at Bletchley Park were women. When the war ended, everyone at Bletchley Park was sworn by the Official Secrets Act to never tell anyone about their wartime activities at Bletchley Park. (I’ve heard that one couple were married for thirty years before they discovered that they’d both worked at Bletchley Park!)

I’m looking forward to watching episodes 2 and 3, and I read that a second series is being produced as well.

From en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bletchley_Park:

Not until F. W. Winterbotham’s book The Ultra Secret was published in 1974 did ex-Bletchley Park staff feel free to reveal something of their wartime work. Deaths before that time meant that many parents, spouses, and children were never told more than that it was secret work for the Foreign Office or one of the armed services. Even 70 years later, some people still regard themselves bound to remain silent.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

Asteroid deflection

Yes, there IS a foundation that’s concerned about the possibility of an asteroid striking the Earth. b612logoTheir motto is “Detect. Deflect. Defend.” This announcement appears on its website, b612foundation.org:

The B612 Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c) 3 organization dedicated to opening up the frontier of space exploration and protecting humanity from asteroid impacts. On June 28, 2012, the Foundation announced its plans to build and operate the first privately funded, launched, and operated interplanetary mission – an infrared space telescope to be placed in orbit around the Sun to discover, map, and track asteroids whose orbits approach Earth and threaten humanity.

Courtesy New Yorker Magazine. Cartoonist: Frank Cotham
Courtesy New Yorker Magazine
Cartoonist: Frank Cotham

Origin of the foundation’s name? Aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s little prince supposedly came from a tiny asteroid named B-612.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

House Ways and Means Committee solicits IRS discrimination reports via web

The powerful US House of Representatives’ Ways and Means Committee has published a new IRS Political Discrimination Investigation web page that “allows those affected by the IRS scandal to share their story”. Apparently businesses, 501C4 organizations, and individuals with conservative connections have been singled out for tax audits, retardation of tax-exempt status applications, and illegal probes into lists of members, employees, and donors. The new page includes a blank form with about 20 fields that can be filled in by annoyed taxpayers.

House Ways and Means Committee IRS Complaint FormApparently the IRS singled out pro-life, Tea Party, and organizations whose names include the phrases “limited government”, “patriot”, “pro-Israel”, “Christian”, “liberty”, or “constitution”. Some conservative organizations’ applications were delayed up to three years, while labor unions’ applications were quickly approved. (The IRS is a union shop.)

The new House Ways and Means Committee page closes with

Your story is critical to moving the investigation forward. Taking a few minutes to fill out the form below and share your story will allow the Committee to identify key facts and take action to deal with the failures of the IRS.

Working together, we will get to the bottom of this, and ensure that nothing like this ever happens again.

It sounds like the committee means business. This form is brand-new. How long will it remain on-line? Through 2013? Through 2014 (an election year)?

House Speaker John Boehner quipped,

My question isn’t, “Who’s going to resign?”. My question is, “Who’s going to jail?”.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

Frontline “Poor Kids”

“People can’t stop you from believing in your own dreams.” Those words were spoken by 9 year-old Kaylie at the end of the powerful PBS Frontline documentary, Poor Kids. Because her mother is poor, Kaylie is moved from one improvised shelter to another, missing school, so Kaylie’s education is a mess. She tells us that she’ll need an education to escape poverty. All of the kids are malnourished.

Poor Kids by PBSThere is no voice-over narration. All the kids speak candidly and their words are haunting. You can view the entire documentary at Poor Kids.

1 of 5 kids in the U.S. lives in poverty.  Disgraceful.

Update, January 2016: Read the comments to this video. You’ll find not only empathy, but wisdom borne of suffering and overcoming impoverished childhoods. Some amazing stories.