Breakfast of Champions 8/7: Hiroshima Commemoration

I'll admit it: I miss Okinawa. It hit me most recently when attending yesterday's Hiroshima commemoration event, where an Okinawan sanshin group played.

If you've never heard of the sanshin (also called the shamisen, it's a three-stringed lute-banjo hybrid where the strings are plucked. The instrument's history is fascinating, and long, and I'll spare you. If you'd like to hear what it sounds like, here's a short video.

The Chura Ryukyu Sanshin Kai plays "Hana," which means "flower."

Having an Okinawan group perform at a ceremony like this is appropriate, too. Everyone remembers the atomic bombings. Few today recall that the Battle of Okinawa was one of World War II's most apocalyptic, killing one-third of the island's civilian population in a gruesome war of attrition. Yet the island's people still remain among the friendliest in the world, and they built a war memorial honoring everyone who died in the battle -- no matter what side they fought on.

Check out the slideshow for more. In other news:

Phoenix New Times and writer Amy Silverman have been covering John McCain since before he was a national figure. You would think that all the stories would have been told, all the insights wrung from that turnip. You might be surprised.

The ash borer is anything but boring. Though there has been reporting done about it, I still think it's one of the most underappreciated environmental narratives around -- this thing kills tress, and the consequences for our urban forest canopy could be devastating. Just think: neighborhoods full of dead trees. And now, the devil bug is in Wisconsin.

What? No Nick Punto? He's a dreamboat!

You've got an extra three days this month to see Star Wars. You can even walk there, taking advantage of your free new pedometer.

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