Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Economic Implications of Katrina

from Information Clearing House:

The Port of Southern Louisiana stretches up and down the Mississippi River for about 50 miles, running north and south of New Orleans from St. James to St. Charles Parish.

Tthe Mississippi remains the key American shipping route, particularly for the export and import of a variety of primary commodities from grain to oil, as well as steel and rubber. Andrew Jackson fought hard to keep the British from taking New Orleans because he knew it was the main artery for U.S. trade with the world. He was right and its role has not changed since then.

The Port of Southern Louisiana is a river port. It depends on the navigability of the Mississippi River. The Mississippi is notorious for changing its course, and in southern Louisiana -- indeed along much of its length -- levees both protect the land from its water and maintain its course and navigability. Dredging and other maintenance are constant and necessary to maintain its navigability.

It is the fifth-largest port in the world in terms of tonnage, and the largest port in the United States. The only global ports larger are Singapore, Rotterdam, Shanghai and Hong Kong.

Bigger than Houston, Chiba and Nagoya, Antwerp and New York/New Jersey, it is a key link in U.S. imports and exports and critical to the global economy.

It is the key port for the export of grains to the rest of the world -- corn, soybeans, wheat and animal feed. Midwestern farmers and global consumers depend on those exports. Fifteen percent of all U.S. exports by value go through the port. Nearly half of the exports go to Europe.

The United States imports large quantities of crude oil, petrochemicals, steel, fertilizers and ores through the port.
  • The port might become in whole or part unusable if more levees burst.
  • The damage to the river and port facilities probably will not be repaired before the U.S. harvests are at their peak. The effect on global agricultural prices will be substantial and immediate.
  • There is a large refinery at Belle Chasse. It is the only refinery that was seriously threatened by the storm.If it were to be inundated through another levee failure, 250,000 barrels per day would go off line. Moreover, the threat of environmental danger would be substantial.
  • About 2 percent of world crude production and roughly 25 percent of U.S.-produced crude comes from the Gulf of Mexico. Platforms in the path of Katrina were evacuated but others continued pumping. If this storm had followed normal patterns, most production would have beeen back on line within hours or days. It was not a normal storm.
  • A narrow, two-lane highway that handles approximately 10,000 vehicles a day, used for transport of cargo and petroleum products and provides port access for thousands of employees is closed. A closure of as long as two weeks could rapidly push gasoline prices higher. At a time when oil prices are in the mid-60-dollar range, the hurricane has had an obvious effect.

Feds used disaster preparedness funds to fund Iraq war/ latest tax cuts

An amazing article from Editor & Publisher:

Bottom line: Experts knew this was coming, and all the preparations ground to a halt because the federal government used New Orleans' disaster preparation money to help pay for the Iraq debacle.

New Orleans had long known it was highly vulnerable to flooding and a direct hit from a hurricane. In fact, the federal government has been working with state and local officials in the region since the late 1960s on major hurricane and flood relief efforts. When flooding from a massive rainstorm in May 1995 killed six people, Congress authorized the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project, or SELA.
...after 2003, the flow of federal dollars toward SELA dropped to a trickle. The Corps never tried to hide the fact that the spending pressures of the war in Iraq, as well as homeland security -- coming at the same time as federal tax cuts -- was the reason for the strain. At least nine articles in the Times-Picayune from 2004 and 2005 specifically cite the cost of Iraq as a reason for the lack of hurricane- and flood-control dollars.
Newhouse News Service, in an article posted late Tuesday night at The Times-Picayune web site, reported: "No one can say they didn't see it coming....Now in the wake of one of the worst storms ever, serious questions are being asked about the lack of preparation."
In early 2004, as the cost of the conflict in Iraq soared, President Bush proposed spending less than 20 percent of what the Corps said was needed for Lake Pontchartrain, according to a Feb. 16, 2004, article, in New Orleans CityBusiness.
On June 8, 2004, Walter Maestri, emergency management chief for Jefferson Parish, Louisiana; told the Times-Picayune: “It appears that the money has been moved in the president’s budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq, and I suppose that’s the price we pay. Nobody locally is happy that the levees can’t be finished, and we are doing everything we can to make the case that this is a security issue for us.”
Also that June, with the 2004 hurricane season starting, the Corps' project manager Al Naomi went before a local agency, the East Jefferson Levee Authority, and essentially begged for $2 million for urgent work that Washington was now unable to pay for.

From the June 18, 2004 Times-Picayune:
"The system is in great shape, but the levees are sinking. Everything is sinking, and if we don’t get the money fast enough to raise them, then we can’t stay ahead of the settlement," he said. "The problem that we have isn’t that the levee is low, but that the federal funds have dried up so that we can’t raise them."...
About $300,000 in federal money was proposed for the 2005 fiscal-year budget, and the state had agreed to match that amount. But the cost of the Iraq war forced the Bush administration to order the New Orleans district office not to begin any new studies, and the 2005 budget no longer includes the needed money, he said.”
The Senate was seeking to restore some of the SELA funding cuts for 2006.

But now it's too late.


Lest you think the above is just a bit of partisan blowing of smoke, read this.

from dadahead:

In fiscal year 2006, the New Orleans district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is bracing for a record $71.2 million reduction in federal funding.

It would be the largest single-year funding loss ever for the New Orleans district, Corps officials said.

I've been here over 30 years and I've never seen this level of reduction, said Al Naomi, project manager for the New Orleans district. I think part of the problem is it's not so much the reduction, it's the drastic reduction in one fiscal year. It's the immediacy of the reduction that I think is the hardest thing to adapt to.

There is an economic ripple effect, too. The cuts mean major hurricane and flood protection projects will not be awarded to local engineering firms. Also, a study to determine ways to protect the region from a Category 5 hurricane has been shelved for now.

Money is so tight the New Orleans district, which employs 1,300 people, instituted a hiring freeze last month on all positions. The freeze is the first of its kind in about 10 years, said Marcia Demma, chief of the Corps' Programs Management Branch.

Stephen Jeselink, interim commander of the New Orleans Corps district, told employees in an internal e-mail dated May 25 that the district is experiencing financial challenges. Execution of our available funds must be dealt with through prudent districtwide management decisions. In addition to a hiring freeze, Jeselink canceled the annual Corps picnic held every June.

Here's another couple of people who were "too dumb to evacuate."

from cnn via Chris Clarke at Creek Running North:


Evelyn Turner cries Tuesday beside the body of her husband in New Orleans.

A wife's desperate journey with her husband's corpse

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (AP) -- When Xavier Bowie died in a flooded New Orleans neighborhood, his wife did the best she could in a city so preoccupied with saving the living that no one can deal with the dead.

She wrapped his body in a sheet, laid him on a makeshift bier of plywood boards, with a little help, and floated him down to the main road.

For more than an hour, Evelyn Turner waited along Rampart Street outside the French Quarter, her husband's body resting on the grassy median as car after car passed, their wakes threatening to wash over the corpse.

"This is ridiculous," Turner, 54, said as she sobbed into a dirty washcloth.

Bowie, 57, a truck driver who had been with Turner for 16 years, had advanced lung cancer and could not be easily moved. When Turner could find no one to take them out of the city, she decided to stay home and hoped the storm would spare them.

"I've got electric and stuff right now," Turner told herself. "I can keep going. I've got oxygen. I can keep going."

But Hurricane Katrina left her neighborhood under several feet of water. By Tuesday, with no phone and only a small tank of oxygen left, Turner slogged out into the streets for help.

By the time she got back, Bowie had died.

Grief-stricken, Turner walked 2 miles to a neighborhood police precinct and asked someone to come get the body. An officer told her a truck would be along.

When more than an hour passed, she started down the road again. When she got to the station this time, there were no more promises.

"There's nothing we can do right now," an officer said. "We don't have any equipment."

"So what I'm supposed to do? Sit with the body until you get somebody?" Turner asked.

"Unfortunately, yeah," the officer replied. "That's the only option I can give you. Because we have no way of getting to him."

With hundreds, if not thousands, of residents still stuck on roofs and in attics across the city, officials have concentrated on saving survivors of Katrina and floodwaters. "We're not even dealing with dead bodies," New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin said Tuesday.

When Turner got back to the corpse, she collapsed onto the plywood sheets and wept.

Curtis Miller, a former city employee, helped float the body down the road, hoping a passing military truck would pick Bowie up. He was disgusted.

"I'm hurt to my heart with this," the grizzled man said. "To see the city stoop this low. It shouldn't be, mister. It should not be."

Finally, about three hours after Bowie died, Miller flagged down a passing flatbed truck filled with downed tree limbs. After some heated words and an offer of $20, he persuaded the driver to take the body to Charity Hospital, where the police had directed them.

Turner helped load the body into the truck bed, then climbed aboard.

The truck turned and made its way into the French Quarter, where jazz bands are known to lead joyful funeral processions through the storied streets. But the streets were deserted Tuesday, and there was no music for Bowie, just the whirring of helicopter blades above.

When the Levee Breaks

Billmon' at the Whiskey Bar on the real environmental meaning of Katrina:
Crying won't help you, praying won't do you no good
Now, crying won't help you, praying won't do you no good
When the levee breaks, mama, you got to move

Memphis Minnie McCoy
When the Levee Breaks

There's something peculiarly horrible about the way the worst-case scenario unfolded in New Orleans, as the most unique city in America gradually filled with water -- like a child's toy in a bathtub -- after the worst of the danger had appeared to pass. It seems Katrina was only toying with her prey when she wobbled a bit to the east just before landfall. She left the death blow to the waters of Lake Pontchartrain.

There have been storms far worse than this -- like the 1971 cyclone and tidal wave that killed an estimated 300,000 people in what is now Bangladesh. Even in this country, the Galveston hurricane of 1900 killed at least 6,000 people and dealt the city a blow from which it never really recovered. (In the end, this may also be the Big Easy's fate.)

Likewise, the Great Mississippi flood of 1927 -- which inspired Memphis Minnie to write one of Led Zeppelin's best songs -- broke levees from St. Louis to New Orleans and turned most of the Delta country of eastern Mississippi (the state, not the river) into an inland sea. Thousands died, many of them African-American sharecroppers rounded up at gunpoint and set to work shoring up the levees. When the rainsoaked barriers finally gave way, hundreds of them, many chainganged together like convicts, were swept to their deaths.

God willing, the death toll from Katrina won't be as high as those earlier disasters. But property losses obviously will be vastly greater, even in inflation-adjusted terms. If the '27 flood turned the Delta into an inland sea, Katrina has turned most of New Orleans into a toxic cesspool: (more)

Poem of the Day

Do you know what it means to miss new orleans by Louis Armstong

Do you know what it means to miss new orleans
And miss it each night and day
I know I’m not wrong... this feeling’s gettin’ stronger
The longer, I stay away
Miss them moss covered vines...the tall sugar pines
Where mockin’ birds used to sing
And I’d like to see that lazy mississippi...hurryin’ into spring

The moonlight on the bayou.......a creole tune.... that fills the air
I dream... about magnolias in bloom......and I’m wishin’ I was there

Do you know what it means to miss new orleans
When that’s where you left your heart
And there’s one thing more...i miss the one I care for
More than I miss new orleans

(instrumental break)

The moonlight on the bayou.......a creole tune.... that fills the air
I dream... about magnolias in bloom......and I’m wishin’ I was there

Do you know what it means to miss new orleans
When that’s where you left your heart
And there’s one thing more...i miss the one I care for
More.....more than I orleans

"Gulfport is just gone."

Quote of the Day

Xeni Jardin at BoingBoing quotes Ned Sublette:

The poorest 20% (you can argue with the number—10%? 18%? no one knows) of the city was left behind to drown. This was the plan. Forget the sanctimonious bullshit about the bullheaded people who wouldn’t leave. The evacuation plan was strictly laissez-faire. It depended on privately owned vehicles, and on having ready cash to fund an evacuation. The planners knew full well that the poor, who in New Orleans are overwhelmingly black, wouldn’t be able to get out.

The resources
— meaning, the political will —
weren’t there to get them out.

White people find things. Black people loot things.

This is a catastrophe of the worst sort. We must not let the right lay the responsibilty for the chaos at the feet of those who were abandoned and are now fighting to survive. As I sat here doing a slow burn about the racist coverage of the 'looting' in New Orleans, the folks at Making Light were doing this:

Jim Macdonald started it. He said, in AIM:

White people find things. Black people loot things.

This was literally just as Patrick was about to post:

Yahoo News photos:

Photo number one: “Two residents wade through chest-deep water after finding bread and soda from a local grocery store”.

Photo number two: “A young man walks through chest deep flood water after looting a grocery store”.

Two guesses as to the relative melanin levels of “two residents” and “a young man”.

Remember, white people “find” things; black people “loot”.

(Via pecunium.)

I was about to post my own piece. While the three of us were sorting all this out, a further story turned up:

Cops Looting New Orleans.

I hadn’t yet seen the photo of the lighter-skinned couple making their way through the water. My own piece went like this:

“Looting” in New Orleans:

I keep hearing on the news about looting in New Orleans. But what I’m seeing—everybody has digital cameras these days, especially reporters—are pictures of people slogging through filthy water with stashes of food, diapers, bottled beverages, etc.

The picture I’ve seen most often is a kid in his teens, up to his chest in black muddy water, trying to carry away a not-very-substantial load of black-bagged groceries plus (I believe) some cans of soda.

First, I believe it was St. Thomas Aquinas who said that if a man’s family is going hungry, it’s no sin for him to steal a loaf of bread.

Second, anything salvageable the kid finds in a grocery store is something that won’t have to be cleaned up later. Besides, where’s the store where he can make legitimate purchases?

Third, yes, I absolutely agree that looting has to be suppressed. Some people will loot any time they think they can get away with it. Others will loot if they see those first people getting away with it. It’s a behavior that’s guaranteed to snowball (which is why I still say we were at fault for allowing the large-scale looting of Iraq to get started and perpetuate itself, right after the first wave of the invasion). Civil order is important.

Fourth, I have yet to hear one mention, one murmur of a hurricane evacuation plan, that didn’t consist of “everybody gets in their cars and drives somewhere else.” This, in a city which was guaranteed to sooner or later need evacuating, and which had something on the order of 100,000 citizens who didn’t drive cars.

New Orleans kept its light rail system during that period when other cities were going over to an all-highway system. It has streetcars. It’s a walkable city. That’s a mercy to the poor: you can live a poor but decent life, get to your job, do your shopping, without having to support a car. Until, of course, the day comes when any prudent person would get out of town.

I heard the city officials, before the storm hit, explaining that the Superdome would be a shelter for people with medical problems, people with special needs, who weren’t prepared to evacuate the city. Malarkey. It was, as they knew all along, the first last and only refuge for tens of thousands of New Orleans citizens who had no way to leave the city.

Not all of them are in the Superdome, or the other refugee centers; but no matter where they are, the majority of New Orleans’ beleaguered and flooded-out residents who’ve remained are the city’s poor.

That’s not looting. That’s plain old survival.

Oh My Dear Sweet New Orleans.....


A perfect soundtrack to our mourning

The best aggregation of New Orleans reportage and info on the web

A superb Link collection of information sites

Right On Ezra! Testify!

Oh how I wished I'd said this so elegantly. A+, Ezra, A+!

from Ezra Klein via Axis of Evel Knievel:

Government By Babes

The LA Times throws a roundhouse of an editorial at John Bolton's first weeks fucking up the UN on the job. The consensus? Getting things done means gumming things up. The way to reduce bureaucracy is to paralyze it in proposed amendments. The way to encourage reform is to derail the process.

Now if that don't just tug on your mustache hairs!

But Bolton's small fries, always has been. Appointing that walrus Ambassador to the United Nations was the Bush administration symbolically ascending to the top of Mt. International Community and pushing a shopping cart full of crap down it. What falls out is what they put in. Blaming Bolton is like condemning the shopping cart. It was the kids who loaded it up with arrogance, hypocrisy, self-contradiction, incompetence, ineffectiveness, and ignorance before sending it careening down the incline. They deserve the blame. But will they get it?

No. They never do. The Bush administration is the Enron of political organizations. A teetering pile of plausible deniability, front politicians, and diversions. Rove keeps George's hands clean, Cheney gets the rap of plutocratic grand vizier, Rumsfeld gets the blame for Iraq, Bolton is a loose cannon someone must've accidentally wheeled into the UN, DeLay is the theocrat, and so on and so forth. The bucks stop nowhere, they just twirl and dance in the wind, a bit of inadvertent political performance art. And there's George, an oasis of ignorance in a maelstrom of incompetence. Past administrations have dodged accountability, this one's made it into a zen art.

Republicans run on an ethic of honesty and responsibility, moral values and macho heuristics. But like most tough teenagers, they travel in posses and pick fights in packs. "Who hit you?" "I don't know, there were a lot of guys!" But Karl says it wasn't him, and Don says he didn't do it, and Dick claims he was at his grandmother's, and everyone agrees George has been a pacifist since time immemorial...

But Kerry's still beat, the government's still broke, Iraq is still fucked, the corporations are still served, the UN's still broke, the theocrats still believe, and the country is still a mess. Only problem? There's no one to blame. Bush was clearly mountain biking that day and Gingrich says it's liberal judges and DeLay says it's liberal congressmen and Rush blames the liberal media and it's all very confusing, I think I'll watch Friends.

Republicans have created government by static. They've learned that simply throwing enough crap into the media stream will cloud the water, and if people can't see anything, they'll stop looking. So blame is diffuse, stonewalls are everywhere, and everyone makes sure the figurehead looks innocent, and ignorant, as a newborn babe.

And so he does. And so he does...

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

George Monbiot on the Fallacy of Intelligent Design

A Life With No Purpose

Darwin tells us that we are no more than assemblages of complex molecules. We should celebrate this.

By George Monbiot. Published in the Guardian 16th August 2005

All is not lost in America. When George Bush came out a couple of weeks ago in favour of teaching “intelligent design” – the new manifestation of creationism – the press gave him a tremendous kicking. The Christian Taliban have not yet won.

But they are gaining on us. So far there have been legislative attempts in 13 states to have intelligent design added to the school curriculum.(1) In Kansas, Texas and Pennsylvania, it already has a foot in the door. In April a new “museum of earth history” opened in Arkansas, which instructs visitors that “dinosaurs and humans did co-exist”, and that juvenile dinosaurs, though God forgoet to mention it, hitched a ride on Noah’s Ark.(2) Similar museums are being built in Texas and Kentucky. Forty-five percent of Americans, according to a Gallup poll last year, believe that “human beings did not evolve, but instead were created by God … essentially in their current form about 10,000 years ago.”(3)

And not just in America. Last month the Catholic archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Christoph Shönborn, asserted that “any system of thought that denies or seeks to explain away the overwhelming evidence for design in biology is ideology, not science.”(4) He appears to have the support of the new Pope.(5) Last week the Australian education minister, Brendan Nelson, announced that “if schools also want to present students with intelligent design, I don’t have any difficulty with that.”(6) In the UK, the headmaster of one of Tony Blair’s new business-sponsored academies claims that evolution is merely a “faith position”.(7)

The controversy fascinates me. This is partly because of its similarity to the dispute about climate change. Like the climate change deniers, the advocates of intelligent design cherry-pick the data that appear to support their case. They ask for evidence, then ignore it when it’s presented to them. They invoke a conspiracy to explain the scientific consensus, and are unembarrassed by their own scientific illiteracy. In an article published in the American Chronicle on Friday, the journalist Thomas Dawson asserted that “all of the vertebrate groups, from fish to mammals appear [in the fossil record] at one time” and that if evolution “were true, there would be animal life fossils of particular animals without vision and others with varying degrees of eye development … Such fossils do not exist.”(8) (The first fish and the first mammals are in fact separated by some 300 million years, and the fossil record has more eyes, in all stages of development, than the CIA).

But it fascinates me also because natural selection is such a barren field for the fundamentalists to till. For 146 years Darwinian evolution has seen off all comers. There is a massive accumulation of evidence – from the fossil record, to genetics, to direct observation – which appears to support it. Were they to concentrate instead on the questions now assailing big bang theory,(9) or on the failure so far to reconcile gravity with quantum physics, or on the stubborn non-appearance of the Higgs boson and the abiding mystery of the phenomenom of mass, the Christian conservatives would be much harder to confront. Why pick on Darwin?

It is surely because, as soon as you consider the implications, you must cease to believe that either Life or life are affected by purpose. As G. Thomas Sharp, chairman of the Creation Truth Foundation, admitted to the Chicago Tribune, “if we lose Genesis as a legitimate scientific and historical explanation for man, then we lose the validity of Christianity. Period.”(10)

We lose far more than that. Darwinian evolution tells us that we are incipient compost: assemblages of complex molecules that – for no greater purpose than to secure sources of energy against competing claims – have developed the ability to speculate. After a few score years, the molecules disaggregate and return whence they came. Period.

As a gardener and ecologist, I find this oddly comforting. I like the idea of literal reincarnation: that the molecules of which I am composed will, once I have rotted, be incorporated into other organisms. Bits of me will be pushing through the growing tips of trees, will creep over them as caterpillars, will hunt those caterpillars as birds. When I die, I would like to be buried in a fashion which ensures that no part of me is wasted. Then I can claim to have been of some use after all.

Is this not better than the awful lottery of judgement? Is a future we can predict not more comforting than one committed to the whims of inscrutable authority? Is eternal death not a happier prospect than eternal life? The atoms of which we are composed, which we have borrowed momentarily from the ecosphere, will be recycled until the universe collapses. This is our continuity, our eternity. Why should anyone want more?

Two days ago, I would have claimed that the demand for more was universal – that every society has or had its creation story and, as Joseph Campbell put it, “it will always be the one, shape-shifting yet marvellously constant story that we find”.(11) But yesterday I read a study by the anthropologist Daniel Everett of the language of the Piraha people of the Brazilian Amazon, published in the latest edition of Current Anthropology.(12) Its findings could scarcely be more disturbing, or more profound.

The Piraha, Everett reveals, possess “the most complex verbal morphology I am aware of [and] are some of the brightest, pleasantest, most fun-loving people that I know.” Yet they have no numbers of any kind, no terms for quantification (such as all, each, every, most and some), no colour terms and no perfect tense. They appear to have borrowed their pronouns from another language, having previously possessed none. They have no “individual or collective memory of more than two generations past”, no drawing or other art, no fiction and “no creation stories or myths.”

All this, Everett believes, can be explained by a single characteristic: “Piraha culture constrains communication to non-abstract subjects which fall within the immediate experience of [the speaker]”. What can be discussed, in other words, is what has been seen. When it can no longer be perceived, it ceases, in this realm at least, to exist. After struggling with one grammatical curiosity, he realised that the Piraha were “talking about liminality – situations in which an item goes in and out of the boundaries of their experience. [Their] excitement at seeing a canoe go around a river bend is hard to describe; they see this almost as travelling into another dimension.” The Piraha, still living, watch the sparrow flit in and out of the banqueting hall.(13)

“Happy the hare at morning,” WH Auden wrote, “for she cannot read / The Hunter’s waking thoughts. Lucky the leaf / Unable to predict the fall. ... But what shall man do, who can whistle tunes by heart, / Know to the bar when death shall cut him short, like the cry of the shearwater?”(14)

It seems to me that we are the happy ones. We, alone among organisms, who perceive eternity, and know that the world will carry on without us.


1. Debora Mackenzie, 9th July 2005. A Battle for Science’s Soul. New Scientist.

2. See

3. Lisa Anderson, 7th August 2005. Museum exhibits a creationist viewpoint. Chicago Tribune.

4. Christoph Schönborn, 7th July 2005. Finding Design in Nature. New York Times.

5. eg Michael McCarthy, 5th August 2005. Evolution dispute now set to split Roman Catholic hierarchy. The Independent.

6. David Wroe, 11th August 2005. Intelligent design an option: Nelson. The Age.

7. Tania Branigan, 19th March 2002. Creationist row blamed on support for faith schools. The Guardian.

8. Thomas Dawson, 10th August 2005. Intelligent Design and Evolution. The American Chronicle.

9. See Marcus Chown, 2nd July 2005. Did the big bang really happen? New Scientist.

10. Lisa Anderson, ibid.

11. Joseph Campbell, 1949. The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Republished 1988 by Paladin, London.

12. Daniel L. Everett, August-October 2005. Cultural Constraints
on Grammar and Cognition in Piraha. Current Anthropology Volume 46, Number 4.

13. Bede, 731. A History of the English Church and People. “Another of the king’s chief men … went on to say: “Your majesty, when we compare the present life of man with that time of which we have no knowledge, it seems to me like the swift flight of a lone sparrow through the banqueting-hall where you sit in the winter months to dine with your thanes and counsellors. Inside there is a comforting fire to warm the room; outside, the wintry storms of snow and rain are raging. This sparrow flies swiftly in through one door of the hall, and out through another. While he is inside, he is safe from the winter storms; but after a few moments of comfort, he vanishes from sight into the darkness whence he came. Similarly, man appears on earth for a little while, but we know nothing of what went before this life, and what follows.”

14. WH Auden, 1935. The Dog Beneath the Skin. This verse play is now hard to obtain. There’s an extract in which this appears in Kenneth Allott, 1950. Contemporary Verse. Penguin, London


Music Meme, Iteration 2

I liked doing the music meme so much I decided to test out a comment I made on Doghouse Riley's inestimable blog. My theory, and I'm sticking to it , is that the music we liked at 12 or 13 would be more telling. Let's see if the sounds of 1963 are more revealing...

As before:

Those songs in blue I either still like or have grown to appreciate.

Italics mark songs I liked then but have no idea why now.

Bolded songs are the ones I considered dreck then, and still dislike.

I remain indifferent to the charms of those in plain text, just as I was in 1968.

1. Surfin' U.S.A., Beach Boys
2. Sugar Shack, Jimmy Gilmer and The Fireballs
3. The End Of The World, Skeeter Davis
4. Rhythm Of The Rain, Cascades
5. Hey Paula, Paul and Paula
6. Blue Velvet, Bobby Vinton (It is hard to properly measure the suck factor of this tune, it is so far off the scale)
7. He's So Fine, Chiffons (SUBLIME)
8. Fingertips II, Little Stevie Wonder
9. Washington Square, Village Stompers (Nothing worse than a fake folk song done by a bunch of people who had never met any genuine folk in their lives)
10. So Much In Love, Tymes
11. Can't Get Used To Losing You, Andy Williams
12. My Boyfriend's Back, Angels (It's so absolutely wrong to like this tune, but I love it. Especially like doing karaoke to it with some other ex-footballers as backup)
13. Sukiyaki, Kyu Sakamoto
14. She's A Fool, Lesley Gore
15. It's All Right, Impressions
16. Puff (The Magic Dragon), Peter, Paul and Mary (It is simply not possible to dislike a song anymore than I do this one at this moment)
17. Blowin' In The Wind, Peter, Paul and Mary
18. Wipe Out, The Surfaris (YEEEE HAH!)
19. Deep Purple, Nino Tempo and April Stevens
20. I'm Leaving It Up To You, Dale and Grace
21. I Love You Because, Al Martino
22. Wild Weekend, Rebels
23. You're The Reason I'm Living, Bobby Darin
24. Walk Like A Man, Four Seasons (One of those songs that I should despise for its sexist vile language, but I don't)
25. Mockingbird, Inez Foxx
26. I Will Follow Him, Little Peggy March
27. Pipeline, Chantays
28. Surf City, Jan and Dean
29. It's My Party, Lesley Gore (another great gender bending karaoke tune)
30. Blame It On The Bossa Nova, Eydie Gorme
31. You Can't Sit Down, Flovells
32. Heat Wave, Martha and The Vandellas (My absolute all time favorite pop song. It doesn't get any better than this.)
33. Denise, Randy and The Rainbows
33. Walk Right In, Rooftop Singers (another bunch of pseudo-folkies. Icky.)
35. If You Wanna Be Happy, Jimmy Soul
36. Surfer Girl, Beach Boys
37. If I Had A Hammer, Trini Lopez
38. Everybody, Tommy Roe
39. Easier Said Than Done, Essex
40. Ruby Baby, Dion
41. Maria Elena, Los Indios Tabajaras
42. Our Day Will Come, Ruby and The Romantics
43. I Can't Stay Mad At You, Skeeter Davis
44. Hello, Stranger, Barbara Lewis
45. Be My Baby, Ronettes (glorious, glorious wall of sound)
45. Mean Woman Blues, Roy Orbison
47. South Street, Orlons
48. Days Of Wine And Roses, Henry Mancini
49. The Monkey Time, Major Lance
50. Candy Girl, Four Seasons
51. Still, Bill Anderson
52. Blue On Blue, Bobby Vinton (ghod, pass the insulin...)
53. Cry Baby, Garnet Mimms and The Enchanters
54. Two Faces Have I, Lou Christie
55. Busted, Ray Charles (Yea for Brother Ray! An absolutely brilliant song...)
56. Da Doo Ron Ron, Crystals
57. Foolish Little Girl, Shirelles
58. Memphis, Lonnie Mack
59. In Dreams, Roy Orbison
60. More, Kal Winding
61. Fools Rush In, Rick Nelson
62. Losing You, Brenda Lee
63. Our Winter Love, Bill Pursell
64. I Wanna Be Around, Tony Bennett
65. You've Really Got A Hold On Me, Miracles (only gets better with age)
66. Sally Go 'Round The Roses, Jaynetts
67. Little Red Rooster, Sam Cooke (NOW, that's what I'm talking about! Right Here!)
68. Then He Kissed, w Crystals (another great gender bending karaoke tune)
69. (You're The) Devil In Disguise, Elvis Presley
70. Those Lazy-hazy-crazy Days On Summer, Nat King Cole (so smooth and tasty)
71. Baby Workout, Jackie Wilson
72. Pride And Joy, Marvin Gaye
73. Walking The Dog, Rufus Thomas
74. From A Jack To A King, Ned Miller
75. Up On The Roof, Drifters (glorious)
76. What Will My Mary Say, Johnny Mathis
77. Mama Didn't Lie, Jan Bradley
78. The Night Has A Thousand Eyes, Bobby Vee
79. Don't Say Nothin' Bad About My Baby, Little Eva
80. Ring Of Fire, Johnny Cash (ahh, yes....)
81. (Down At) Papa Joe's, Dixiebelles With Cornbread and Jerry
82. Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh! (A Letter From Camp), Allan Sherman
83. Judy's Turn To Cry, Lesley Gore
84. Just One Look, Doris Troy
85. Mickey's Monkey, Miracles
86. Donna, The Prima Donna, Dion
87. That Sunday, That Summer, Nat King Cole
88. Another Saturday Night, Sam Cooke (one of the 10 best songs of my youth)
89. Painted, Tainted Rose, Al Martino
90. Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport, Roll Harris (Thankfully, I had forgotton this horror til now. Oh damn!)
91. Go Away Little Girl, Steve Lawrence
92. Take These Chains From My Heart, Ray Charles (another classic)
93. Talk To Me, Sunny and The Sunglows
94. Come And Get These Memories, Martha and The Vandellas
95. Bossa Nova Baby, Elvis Presley
96. Do The Bird, Dee Dee Sharp
97. Shut Down, Beach Boys
98. One Fine Day, Chiffons (one fine song)
99. Little Town Flirt, Del Shannon
100. 500 Miles Away From Home, Bobby Bare

And my favorite:

Heatwave, of course

When Affimative Action Was White

From Gary at Amygdala:

IT WASN'T JUST PRIVATE CITIZENS or Jim Crow in general society. There was endless discrimination in New Deal programs argues Ira Katznelson in WHEN AFFIRMATIVE ACTION WAS WHITE: An Untold History of Racial Inequality in Twentieth-Century America, apparently. He apparently makes the case for considering this when considering affirmative action. I'd like to read the book, but the summary here is interesting enough, and plausible on its face, to me.
He contends that those programs not only discriminated against blacks, but actually contributed to widening the gap between white and black Americans -- judged in terms of educational achievement, quality of jobs and housing, and attainment of higher income. Arguing for the necessity of affirmative action today, Katznelson contends that policy makers and the judiciary previously failed to consider just how unfairly blacks had been treated by the federal government in the 30 years before the civil rights revolution of the 1960's.

This history has been told before, but Katznelson offers a penetrating new analysis, supported by vivid examples and statistics. He examines closely how the federal government discriminated against black citizens as it created and administered the sweeping social programs that provided the vital framework for a vibrant and secure American middle class. Considered revolutionary at the time, the new legislation included the Social Security system, unemployment compensation, the minimum wage, protection of the right of workers to join labor unions and the G.I. Bill of Rights. (more)

A Long and Busy Day in Edinburgh

Fringe Crowd
The Royal Mile

The crowd grew progressively greater as the day went on.
By evening I felt like an extra in War & Peace or Braveheart, we were so tightly packed together.

North Bridge

My cousin Allan Ramsay (the Elder) opened a bookshop just west of here in 173o .

(Note Arthur's Seat in the background and the roof of the train station in the foreground.)

A detail from the Parliment Building

A most heinous piece of governmental misery disguised as a building

Edinburgh Castle
From below the northern end

Till's Bookshop
The Meadows

A fine used bookstore
(taken on an earlier visit)

Holyrood Palace
Home of Mary, Queen of Scots

Are ye Mary Queen of Scots?
I am.

Smash. break. punch. scream, etc....
I think she's dead.
I'm not dead yet....

Arthur's Seat

This magnificent hulking volcanic lump rises from Holyrood park at the end of the Royal Mile
Best views of the city, for those with the energy to climb it.
The sunrises are said to be spectacular

Anchor Close
Off the Royal Mile

Edinburgh Castle

Princes Street & Gardens
From the Castle
(taken on an earlier visit as it proved impossible even to get near the Castle this time)

Botanic Gardens

Blissfully uncrowded and near Princes Street.

A Favorite Place

Stylish Parkbench
Edinburgh, Scotland

Poem of the Day

To Night by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Swiftly walk o'er the western wave,
Spirit of Night!
Out of the misty eastern cave,
Where, all the long and lone daylight,
Thou wovest dreams of joy and fear,
Which make thee terrible and dear--
Swift be thy flight!

Wrap thy form in a mantle gray,
Blind with thine hair the eyes of day;
Kiss her until she be wearied out,
Then wander o'er city, and sea, and land,
Touching all with thine opiate wand--
Come, long-sought!

When I arose and saw the dawn,
I sighed for thee;
When light rode high, and the dew was gone,
And noon lay heavy on flower and tree,
And the weary day turned to his rest,
Lingering like an unloved guest,
I sighed for thee.

Thy brother Death came, and cried,
Wouldst thou me?
Thy sweet child Sleep, the filmy-eyed,
Murmured like a noontide bee,
Shall I nestle near thy side?
Wouldst thou me?--And I replied,
No, not thee!

Death will come when thou art dead,
Soon, too soon--
Sleep will come when thou art fled;
Of neither would I ask the boon
I ask of thee, beloved Night--
Swift be thine approaching flight,
Come soon, soon!

Happy Birthday

Robert Crumb (1943- )

American artist and illustrator

Signs his work "R. Crumb".

Crumb was one of the founders of the underground comics movement, and is often regarded as its most prominent figure. His entire career has unfolded outside the mainstream comic book publishing industry.

Huey Pierce Long (1893 – 1935)

American politician

Known as "The Kingfish,"

Governor of Louisiana , Senator and a presidential hopeful before his assassination on the steps of the state capitol building

A populist who is often alleged to have had many dictatorial tendencies, he was beloved by the poor and downtroden of his state

Model for the protagonist of Robert Penn Warren's brilliant novel, All The King's Men.

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (1797 – 1851)
English novelist

Author of Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus
The first book intentionally written as science fiction
(as opposed to mythology, religious allegory or political satire)

New Blog Meme

from Roxanne via Creek Running North:
(could any meme have a more distinguished bloggish hyperpath?)


Go here, search on the year of your high school graduation, and when the results come up, choose the "list of the 100 most popular songs."

Format according your opinion of the tunes.

In my case:

Those in blue I either still like or have grown to appreciate.

Italics mark songs I liked then but have no idea why now.

Bolded songs are the ones I considered dreck then, and still dislike.

I remain indifferent to the charms of those in plain text, just as I was in 1968.

1. Hey Jude, The Beatles
2. Honey, Bobby Goldsboro (If DeptHomeSec ever wished to torture me, having me listen to this heinous uulation for an hour would not only have me confessing to killing Jimmy Hoffa, I'd be leading them to his body and Judge Crater's as well.)
3. Love Is Blue, Paul Mauriat
4. (Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay, Otis Redding (damn, this is a great song)
5. People Got To Be Free, Rascals
6. Sunshine Of Your Love, Cream
7. This Guy's In Love With You, Herb Alpert
8. Stoned Soul Picnic, Fifth Dimension
9. Mrs. Robinson, Simon and Garfunkel
10. Tighten Up, Archie Bell and The Drells
11. The Good, The Bad And The Ugly, Hugo Montenegro
12. Little Green Apples, O.C. Smith (Lord, this is one prime piece of musical sewage)
13. Mony, Mony, Tommy James and The Shondells
14. Hello, I Love You, The Doors (Hated The Doors then. Hate them now. Thankfully some things never change.)
15. Young Girl, Gary Puckett and The Union Gap
16. Cry Like A Baby, Box Tops
17. Harper Valley P.T.A., Jeannie C. Riley (Oh the Humanity!)
18. Grazing In The Grass, Hugh Masekela (still as tasty as ever)
19. Midnight Confessions, The Grass Roots
20. Dance To The Music, Sly and The Family Stone
21. The Horse, Cliff Nobles and Co. (Why can't I remember this one? I'm usually the one with the recorder brain.)
22. I Wish It Would Rain, Temptations
23. La-La Means I Love You, Delfonics
24. Turn Around, Look At Me, Vogues
25. Judy In Disguise (With Glasses), John Fred and His Playboy Band
26. Spooky, Classics IV
27. Love Child, Diana Ross and The Supremes
28. Angel Of The Morning, Merrilee Rush (Get it out of my head! Please.)
29. The Ballad Of Bonnie And Clyde, Georgie Fame
30. Those Were The Days, Mary Hopkin (This song has the power to make me want to tear out my own eardrums rather than listen to it. My. Single. Least. Favorite. Song. Ever.)
31. Born To Be Wild, Steppenwolf (a personal power song)
32. Cowboys To Girls, Intruders
33. Simon Says, 1910 Fruitgum Company (Jaybus, this is bad.)
34. Lady Willpower, Gary Puckett and The Union Gap
35. A Beautiful Morning, Rascals
36. The Look Of Love, Sergio Mendes and Brasil '66
37. Hold Me Tight, Johnny Nash
38. Yummy, Yummy, Yummy, Ohio Express (This song set back the sexual revolution for 10 years, at the very least)
39. Fire , Crazy World Of Arthur Brown (A favorite of the asshats in my college dorm. Usually played at top volume at 3AM after everyone else had gone to sleep)
40. Love Is All Around, Troggs
41. Playboy, Gene and Debbe
42. (Theme From) Valley Of The Dolls, Dionne Warwick (Oh dear ghod, make it stop!)
43. Classical Gas, Mason Williams
44. Slip Away, Clarence Carter (Mighty fine)
45. Girl Watcher, O'Kaysions
46. (Sweet Sweet Baby) Since You've Been Gone, Aretha Franklin
47. Green Tambourine, Lemon Pipers
48. 1, 2, 3, Red Light, 1910 Fruitgum Company
49. Reach Out Of The Darkness, Friend and Lover
50. Jumpin' Jack Flash, The Rolling Stones
51. MacArthur Park, Richard Harris
52. Light My Fire, Jose Feliciano (another personal power song)
53. I Love You, People
54. Take Time To Know Her, Percy Sledge
55. Pictures Of Matchstick Men, Status Quo
56. Summertime Blues, Blue Cheer
57. Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing, Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell
58. I Got The Feelin', James Brown and The Famous Flames
59. I've Gotta Get A Message To You, Bee Gees (Another prime example of music that can drive the listener to self-mutilation)
60. Lady Madonna, The Beatles
61. Hurdy Gurdy Man, Donovan
62. Magic Carpet Ride, Steppenwolf
63. Bottle Of Wine, Fireballs
64. Stay In My Corner, Dells
65. Soul Serenade, Willie Mitchell
66. Delilah, Tom Jones (Enough to make you wish the damn Martians had got him)
67. Nobody But Me, Human Beinz
68. I Thank You, Sam and Dave
69. The Fool On The Hill, Sergio Mendes and Brasil '66
70. Sky Pilot, Eric Burdon and The Animals
71. Indian Lake, The Cowsills (The sheer inanity of this song leaves the listener breathless. Or maybe you just feel like you're smothering in all that fluff)
72. I Wonder What She's Doing Tonight, Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart
73. Over You, Gary Puckett and The Union Gap
74. Goin' Out Of My Head / Can't Take My Eyes Off You, The Lettermen
75. Shoo-Bee-Doo-Be-Doo-Da-Day, Stevie Wonder
76. The Unicorn, The Irish Rovers (These guys should have been tried for crimes against humanity for recording this song)
77. (You Keep Me) Hangin' On, Vanilla Fudge
78. Revolution, The Beatles
79. Woman, Woman, Gary Puckett and The Union Gap (Thought it was sexist drivel then. Still do.)
80. Elenore, Turtles
81. Sweet Inspiration, Sweet Inspirations
82. The Mighty Quinn, Manfred Mann (A personal alltime fav)
83. Baby, Now That I've Found You, Foundations
84. White Room, Cream
85. If You Can Want, Smokey Robinson and The Miracles
86. Cab Driver, The Mills Brothers (tasty, tasty, tasty)
87. Time Has Come Today, The Chambers Brothers (another personal power song)
88. Do You Know The Way To San Jose, Dionne Warwick (Please, please stop playing this song. I'll be good. I promise.)
89. Scarborough Fair / Canticle, Simon and Garfunkel
90. Think, Aretha Franklin (A personal theme song)
91. You're All I Need To Get By, Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell
92. Here Comes The Judge, Shorty Long
93. I Say A Little Prayer, Aretha Franklin
94. Say It Loud, I'm Black And I'm Proud
95. Sealed With A Kiss, Gary Lewis and The Playboys
96. Piece Of My Heart, Big Brother and The Holding Company
97. Suzie Q., Creedence Clearwater Revival (dancing.dancing.dancing.)
98. Bend Me Shape, American Breed
99. Hey, Western Union Man, Jerry Butler
100. Never Give You Up, Jerry Butler


I'm reminded by one of my betters (Doghouse Riley over to Bats Left, Throws Right) that I need to pick a favorite one from the list. It's a hard choice between the nuttiness and joy of Manfred Mann's The Mighty Quinn and the elegant forceful musicality of Aretha Franklin's Think, but Aretha wins.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Clone of handdrummer 3

Kees van Toorn

Dutch SMOF*

Chairman of ConFiction, the 1990 Worldcon in The Hague

The white sheep of the handrummer clones

*(Secret Master of Fandom)

(Shown here
with author Joe Haldeman in Glasgow at InterAction, the 2005 World SF Convention.)
(Thanks Chaz, for the photo)

Happy 75th Anniversary!

Hooray For Captain Spaulding, the African Explorer
(Don't you ever call him schnorer)

Hooray! Hooray! Hooray!

The Truth at Last Revealed

All Hail the Flying Spaghetti Monster!


I've been washed in the juice of the vine and become a Pastafarian!


with thanks
going to ae at arse poetica for her prayers for my saladation