Weblog Archives




  Saturday   June 2   2007

give us this day our daily photograph

Shells and rocks — Freeland Park

gordy's image archive index

 10:59 PM - link

a good man

Steve Gilliard, 1966-2007

It is with tremendous sadness that we must convey the news that Steve Gilliard, editor and publisher of The News Blog, passed away early this morning. He was 41.

To those who have come to trust The News Blog and its insightful, brash and unapologetic editorial tone, we have Steve to thank from the bottom of our hearts. Steve helped lead many discussions that mattered to all of us, and he tackled subjects and interest categories where others feared to tread.


There are a few links that I put up that include a byline. I only use the byline for those excepional writers that I go to all the time. Those writers that have earned my trust over time. Steve Gilliard was one of those. I first discovered him as a regular at Daily Kos and followed him when he started his own site. I will miss his voice.

 10:56 PM - link

  Friday   June 1   2007

give us this day our daily photograph

Blue arches — Freeland Park

gordy's image archive index

 10:42 AM - link

middle east clusterfuck®

I have many middle east links to put up but the reality is that they've been repeating for some time with no let up in sight. Out leadership, all our leadership, has no clue, are deluded, and are playing cheap politics with other people's lives. The hole they are digging is only getting deeper and all the diggers are digging more furiously than ever. And they will continue to dig until the hole collapses on us all.

Appropriate Disillusionment
The Despair of Cindy Sheehan and Andrew Bracevich

I have in front of me two documents of despair, of disillusionment with the American political system that allows this criminal war to continue. Andrew J. Bacevich in his Washington Post op-ed column and Cindy Sheehan in her statement on her blog express despair over the failure of the Democrats placed in power by an antiwar electorate to take firm measures to end the war in Iraq. Sheehan declares, as she announces her departure from the spotlight that "hundreds of thousands of people are dying for a war based on lies that is supported by Democrats and Republican alike," adding, "It is so painful to me to know that I bought into this system for so many years"

Professor Bacevich, now sharing Sheehan's personal grief, calls his earlier hopes that he and others might force the country to change course "an illusion," noting that "responsibility for the war's continuation now rests no less with the Democrats who control Congress than with the president and his party." "Money," he notes bitterly, "maintains the Republican/Democratic duopoly of trivialized politics. It confines the debate over U.S. policy to well-hewn channels It negates democracy, rendering free speech little more than a means of recording dissent. This is not some great conspiracy. It's the way our system works."

If there is a positive aspect to this despair, it is this very realization: the system is the problem. It has not so much "failed" us as we have failed to understand what Sheehan and Bacevich are concluding: it isn't designed to work for us but for but for them.

For those who can't bring themselves to say that the war is not a "mistake" but a crime. For those who can't call for immediate withdrawal in accordance with the wishes of the American and Iraqi people but talk about "benchmarks" for a gradual withdrawal. For those who want to shift the onus of the U.S. failure in Iraq to Iraqi politicians for their delays and bickering, and the Iraqi people for their bewildering Islamic sectarianism.

It serves those who vote in bipartisan fashion to further vilify and isolate Syria and Iran---the fools who do not know the first thing about Islamic history and the divisions between Shiites and Sunnis, secularists and Islamists. It serves those lining up to embrace the fear-mongering Islamophobic neocon agenda for more confrontation with the Muslim world. It serves those who fear AIPAC more than the consequences of a strike on Iran. It serves the Democrats who want to keep an attack on Iran on the table, but assure President Bush that his impeachment is off the table because it's just too radical a prospect for them to consider.

This is indeed the way the system works.


Here are the two above mentioned documents.

"Good Riddance Attention Whore"
By CindySheehan

The most devastating conclusion that I reached this morning, however, was that Casey did indeed die for nothing. His precious lifeblood drained out in a country far away from his family who loves him, killed by his own country which is beholden to and run by a war machine that even controls what we think. I have tried every since he died to make his sacrifice meaningful. Casey died for a country which cares more about who will be the next American Idol than how many people will be killed in the next few months while Democrats and Republicans play politics with human lives. It is so painful to me to know that I bought into this system for so many years and Casey paid the price for that allegiance. I failed my boy and that hurts the most.


I lost my son to a conflict I oppose. We were both doing our duty
By Andrew J. Bacevich

Not for a second did I expect my own efforts to make a difference. But I did nurse the hope that my voice might combine with those of others - teachers, writers, activists and ordinary folks - to educate the public about the folly of the course on which the nation has embarked. I hoped that those efforts might produce a political climate conducive to change. I genuinely believed that if the people spoke, our leaders in Washington would listen and respond.

This, I can now see, was an illusion.

The people have spoken, and nothing of substance has changed. The November 2006 midterm elections signified an unambiguous repudiation of the policies that landed us in our present predicament. But half a year later, the war continues, with no end in sight. Indeed, by sending more troops to Iraq (and by extending the tours of those, like my son, who were already there), Bush has signaled his complete disregard for what was once quaintly referred to as "the will of the people."

To be fair, responsibility for the war's continuation now rests no less with the Democrats who control Congress than with the president and his party. After my son's death, my state's senators, Edward Kennedy and John Kerry, telephoned to express their condolences. Stephen Lynch, our congressman, attended my son's wake. Kerry was present for the funeral mass. My family and I greatly appreciated such gestures. But when I suggested to each of them the necessity of ending the war, I got the brushoff. More accurately, after ever so briefly pretending to listen, each treated me to a convoluted explanation that said in essence: Don't blame me.

To whom do Kennedy, Kerry and Lynch listen? We know the answer: to the same people who have the ear of George W. Bush and Karl Rove - namely, wealthy individuals and institutions.


Then there is the festering sore that is the Israeli's treatment of the Palestinians. This piece is written by an Israeli.

To the Shores of Tripoli
The Sixty Year Wound
By Uri Avnery

The bloody battles that have erupted around the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp near Tripoli in Lebanon remind us that the refugee problem has not disappeared. On the contrary, 60 years after the "Nakba", the Palestinian catastrophe of 1948, it is again the center of attention throughout the world.

This is an open wound. Anyone who imagines that a solution to the Israel-Arab conflict is possible without healing this wound is deluding himself.

From Tripoli to Sderot, from Riyadh to Jerusalem, the Palestinian refugee problem continues to cast its shadow across the whole region. This week, the media were again full of photos of Israeli and Palestinian refugees fleeing from their homes and of mothers mourning the death of their loved ones in Hebrew and Arabic--as if nothing had changed since 1948.


None of our fearful leaders will deal with the root cause because they are all part of it.

Evil Empire
Is Imperial Liquidation Possible for America?
By Chalmers Johnson

In politics, as in medicine, a cure based on a false diagnosis is almost always worthless, often worsening the condition that is supposed to be healed. The United States, today, suffers from a plethora of public ills. Most of them can be traced to the militarism and imperialism that have led to the near-collapse of our Constitutional system of checks and balances. Unfortunately, none of the remedies proposed so far by American politicians or analysts addresses the root causes of the problem.

According to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, released on April 26, 2007, some 78% of Americans believe their country to be headed in the wrong direction. Only 22% think the Bush administration's policies make sense, the lowest number on this question since October 1992, when George H. W. Bush was running for a second term -- and lost. What people don't agree on are the reasons for their doubts and, above all, what the remedy -- or remedies -- ought to be.

The range of opinions on this is immense. Even though large numbers of voters vaguely suspect that the failings of the political system itself led the country into its current crisis, most evidently expect the system to perform a course correction more or less automatically. As Adam Nagourney of the New York Times reported, by the end of March 2007, at least 280,000 American citizens had already contributed some $113.6 million to the presidential campaigns of Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards, Mitt Romney, Rudolph Giuliani, or John McCain.

If these people actually believe a presidential election a year-and-a-half from now will significantly alter how the country is run, they have almost surely wasted their money. As Andrew Bacevich, author of The New American Militarism, puts it: "None of the Democrats vying to replace President Bush is doing so with the promise of reviving the system of check and balances.... The aim of the party out of power is not to cut the presidency down to size but to seize it, not to reduce the prerogatives of the executive branch but to regain them."


Things don't look so good.

 10:39 AM - link


Hilarious, shocking and creepy advertisements from the past century


  thanks to J-Walk Blog

 10:38 AM - link

  Thursday   May 31   2007

give us this day our daily photograph

Blue slide — Freeland Park

gordy's image archive index

 10:07 PM - link

  Wednesday   May 30   2007

give us this day our daily photograph

Yellow slide — Freeland Park

gordy's image archive index

 11:54 PM - link

book recommendations

I had been wanting to read some history of China. Since I'm to old to learn Chinese, so that I can converse with our new masters, I thought I should at least learn some history. Zoe is on a book mailing list and she thought I might be interested in Nixon and Mao. Excellent. Nixon and Mao mentioned Edgar Snow and Red Star Over China. Amazing. I searched the web for recommendations for a general history of China and A History of Chinese Civilization was highly recommendated. Justifiably so. It might be better to read them in the reverse order that I read them in.

A History of Chinese Civilization
by Jacques Gernet

This really does give an appreciation of the incredible breadth of Chinese history. Also an appreciation of how much the western powers really screwed China. I hope the Chinese don't hold a grudge. Wouldn't blame them if they did. If you are going to read only one book on China, this is the one.

Red Star over China:
The Classic Account of the Birth of Chinese Communism

by Edgar Snow

I'm a sucker for eyewitness accounts. In 1936 Edgar Snow went behing the Red lines and interviewed Mao and the Communist leadership. Incredible stories. It's clear why the Communists took over. A must read.

Red Star Over China

In Red Star Over China, Edgar Snow recounts the months that he spent with China’s Chinese Red Army during the Civil War. The book contains a vivid description of the Long March, as well as biographical accounts of a number of persons on both sides of the conflicts, including Zhou Enlai and Peng Dehuai, brief coverage of Lin Biao, and Mao Zedong's own account of his life.

When Snow wrote, no outsider had much idea of what was going on in the Communist-controlled areas of China or who the main personalities were. The Xi'an Incident occurred while he was there. Snow's view was that the imprisonment of Chiang Kai-Shek by his own generals ensured that Nationalist China fought Japan rather than capitulating.


Here is an account by Edgar Snow's interpreter.

Behind the Red Star over China

A senior at Yenching University in Beijing (then Beiping) in 1936, I was preparing for the mid-June final exams when the American journalist Edgar Snow revealed to me his secret plans to head for northern Shaanxi.


Nixon and Mao:
The Week That Changed the World

by Margaret MacMillan

Nixon got his start as a rabid anti-communist. The US had been trying to isolate China since the Communist takeover so Nixon's going to China was a shock. A neccessary shock. It's a detailed account of his week stay in China as well as history that puts it in context.

Great Leap Forward

“That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind,” Neil Armstrong said — or meant to say — when he set foot on the surface of the moon on July 20, 1969. Richard Nixon, who had become president of the United States six months earlier, called it “the greatest week in the history of the world since the creation,” thereby inadvertently irritating the faithful among several of the world’s greatest religions.


Nixon In China


Now I'm looking for a recent history of Communist China. Any suggestions?

 11:50 PM - link

  Tuesday   May 29   2007

give us this day our daily photograph

Parking lot snake — South of Pioneer Square, Seattle

gordy's image archive index

 11:22 PM - link


I was going to start putting up many links on the Middle East Clusterfuck® but then I ran across this one. It speaks to the sociopathic nature of the modern corporation which lacks any sense of moral responsibility or social conscience. Because of that lack, they are destroying this country. This article is a review of three books: The Disposable American: Layoffs and Their Consequences, The Great American Jobs Scam, and The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism. My library has all three. Each has 3 to 5 copies and none are checked out. That says something. I have put holds on all three. This is another one of those things where you don't really want to know what I really think. Fuck the fucking corporations.

The Specter Haunting Your Office

Donald Davis was not concerned about imports in the late 1960s, when he started out as CEO of the Stanley Works, the country's leading manufacturer of hand tools. By the early 1980s, the challenge of competing against inexpensive tools made in Taiwan, Korea, and China had swept most of Davis's other concerns aside. His first response was a plan to streamline management, reducing the company's white-collar ranks through attrition. An old-school CEO who had been with Stanley most of his adult life, Davis considered layoffs a last resort. But by the time he stepped down as CEO in 1987, hundreds of factory workers had lost their jobs on his orders.

His successor, Richard Ayers, had the advantage of knowing what he was in for. An industrial engineer by training, Ayers mapped out a long-term strategy that called for layoffs, plant closings, and outsourcing: sledgehammer and crowbar production was moved to Mexico; socket wrench production to Taiwan. But the company also invested in making its domestic operations more efficient, and Ayers took special care to preserve jobs and facilities in New Britain, Connecticut, where Stanley had been a major employer for more than a century. By the mid-1990s, revenues had stabilized, profits were up, and Ayers could reasonably tell himself that his "evolutionary" approach had worked.

Wall Street, however, was not impressed. Securities analysts, comparing the jobs eliminated by Ayers with the layoff numbers at other old-line companies—Scott Paper (11,000), Sears (50,000), General Motors (94,000)— suggested that Stanley's key problem might be leadership rather than imports. At age fifty-five, according to Louis Uchitelle's The Disposable American, Ayers concluded that he did "not have the stomach" for any more job-cutting.

When Ayers retired, Stanley's directors turned to an outsider. The new CEO, John Trani, approached the import question with a clear mind. In his seven years as CEO, he shifted virtually all tool production to East Asia and Mexico, closed forty-three of Stanley's remaining eighty-three plants, cut the payroll from 19,000 to 13,500, and reduced its presence in New Britain to, in Uchitelle's words, "a collection of mostly empty factory buildings and reproachful former workers."

Through the story of the three Stanley CEOs, Uchitelle traces a mental journey taken by a great many top managers over the past few decades, and it would be hard to find a better distillation of the new mindset than his brief account of an interview with Trani in November 2004 (just a few days before he, too, retired, with an $8 million bonus and a $1.3 million-a-year pension). "Layoffs and plant closings," Trani says, "are not such a rare event anymore that one generally makes a big deal out of them." Scarcely mentioning the laid-off workers, he acknowledges no hesitation, no regret—in fact, no alternatives. The story, as he tells it, comes down to the difference between successful leaders, who "look at reality as it exists," and unsuccessful ones, who make the mistake of "hoping for it to change."

Trani came to Stanley from General Electric. In his attitude toward layoffs he resembled his former boss, Jack Welch, who had pushed more than a hundred thousand workers off the GE payroll. Welch's combative style has gone out of fashion lately; in fact, Uchitelle had something to do with that. A longtime reporter for The New York Times, he was largely responsible for "The Downsizing of America," an attention-getting series of Times articles on the mass layoffs of the early and mid-1990s. Those articles helped inspire a backlash. Few CEOs, questioned now about layoffs, would permit themselves to boast, as Trani did, of "taking out" workers—as in, "We took out 23 percent of the people" at Best Access, one of the companies Stanley acquired. In his actions if not his affect, however, Trani speaks for a school of management that remains ascendant. He drove Stanley down the path of a great and continuing migration—away from the postwar view of the corporation, whose success rested on a secure workforce and a strong local economy, toward what Greg LeRoy, in The Great American Jobs Scam, calls the "rootless corporation," which defines success by financial measures alone, making it possible to "save" a company by destroying much of what it was.


  thanks to The Agonist

The review also mentioned this interesting site:

Good Jobs First

Good Jobs First is a national policy resource center for grassroots groups and public officials, promoting corporate and government accountability in economic development and smart growth for working families. We provide timely, accurate information on best practices in state and local job subsidies, and on the many ties between smart growth and good jobs. Good Jobs First works with a very broad spectrum of organizations, providing research, training, communications and consulting assistance.


 11:18 PM - link

  Monday   May 28   2007

give us this day our daily photograph

Green van — South of Pioneer Square, Seattle

gordy's image archive index

 10:18 PM - link

america the beautiful

I'm behind on linking to Joe Bageant. The silver tounged devil has been busy. I might add that he has a book coming out, Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America's Class War. He has been on a book tour and he is having a review copy sent to me, which I will be reading as soon as it arrives. Anyway, here's three from Joe.

Three Nights in Philly
Skinned goats, phantom love and the providence of prostitutes

A fellow expatriate told me recently when I left Belize, Central America, which I now consider my home: "America is a sticky place, Joe, hard to get out of again, even from a short visit. The everyday money and business stuff alone will trap you like fucking flypaper." And that keeps ringing in my head during this current return to sell my house and fulfill my promotional obligations for the book I just published here. Which could take months.

But it's sticky in other ways too, some of them rooted in the hearts of its working class people. Last week I found myself in Philadelphia, a working class town if ever there was one. In this sprawl-and-mall age, it's surprising for non-metro people like me to run into whole neighborhoods of folks who are not full of suburban self-important horseshit and three-car garages, and when you do they always seem to be immigrant or working class neighborhoods. But then, maybe I was just around too many bland American "sluburbs" for too long before I skipped the country.

Old men see a lot of phantoms when they revisit the scenes of their youth. Philly is like that for me. I was stationed at the now-defunct South Philly Naval Base in 1965. And it was in roaming that city during off-duty hours that city I experienced my first intellectual awakening, or at least the first one that had other human participants. I hung out at places like the Artist's Hut or the Guilded Cage off Rittenhouse Square, learned of the folk music and peace protest movements and heard poetry read live by real poets for the fist time.


Rising Above Politics
Can we quit talking and start walking?

Well, lo and beshit! I never thought I’d ever see the day. But even in my hardcore Republican run hometown, many conservatives are quietly sneaking away from the sing-along around the campfire of George Bush’s war-crazed hootenanny. Most of them are ordinary bona fide conservatives. But others slipping off under cover of darkness are among our richest Republicans who profiteered mightily in the security, construction and service businesses that sprouted like mushrooms from every aspect of the Iraq War. Either they have suddenly developed a steak of conscience, or they simply don’t want to be associated with the trail of crime, blood and feces Bush and his cronies have obviously tracked across the carpet of American history. My bet is on the latter.

But even the little fish who voted for Bush are starting to squirm. My neighbor, Big Larry, who is usually ecstatic here at the beginning of baseball season, and never gives politics the slightest thought except on Election Day, is rather glum now and starting to grumble about the state of the republic. This time last year he was pulling down good dough “driving truck” for Toll Brothers, complaining about his ‘roids a bit, but was otherwise the same sort of more or less unquestioning and nonpolitical working guy one finds just about anywhere in America. Now his driving hours are half of what he was getting last year and look to get slimmer yet, even as unemployed carpenters and electricians, casualties of the collapsing housing construction bubble, come knocking at our doors looking for handyman work. How can it be that the newspapers say the economy is booming?

And so now, after the deepest sort of political meditation, Larry has concluded that “This Iraq War thing just might spell trouble for us in the long run.” Not, mind you, because of the war’s sheer bloody folly, but because “It has run up the price of concrete and plywood so much that people can’t afford to build houses anymore.” Some people will add two plus two and get five every time. So when it comes to Larry, it’s pretty easy to resist a discussion of the subprime mortgage rate implosion.


Ghosts of Tim Leary and Hunter Thompson
Freedom vs. Authority under the 40-foot pulsating rainbow vagina

Everything Americans think they know, they learned from a televised morality play. It's all theater. You root for some good guy and boo some bad guy. You pick your own, but you dance to the tune of the men running the show. It's mind control, pure and simple, and if there is an American immune to it, then he is probably living in a snow cave somewhere in Alaska.
-- Gypsy Joe Hess (1919-1988), prospector, self-educated philosopher and horse trader

In my ragged assed 40 years of writing, I've been lucky enough -- or sometimes unlucky enough -- to meet and write about many of America's "somebodies," mostly vapid asshole movie and TV stars and rock musicians. When I was young, so-called "media journalism" then was just what it is now, what we called "starfucking", and amounted to writing PR for media corporations in "music journals" of the time. But we covered a few worthwhile iconic figures in the mix as well -- the kind that stick around in the background of one's thinking forever. At my age now, I find a lot of them are dying off, the Hunter Thompsons, Susan Sontags, Ken Keseys and Kurt Vonneguts. However, I have a self-imposed policy not to eulogize them because the hundreds of sentimental Internet tributes that flourish upon their deaths somehow seem ghoulish, and because it is a universal truth that we writers will do anything for an audience, and celebrity death is one of the easiest ways to attract one.

On rare occasions though, usually while writing late at night, the ghost of one of these people, the shade of an especially prescient writer or thinker, sneaks up, slaps me across the back of the head and says: "I told you so!" And when two appear in a single night, well, you gotta write about it.


 10:11 PM - link

book recommendation

It Can Happen Here:
Authoritarian Peril in the Age of Bush

by Joe Conason

Fascism, here we come! From Amazon:

Sinclair Lewis's 1935 novel It Can't Happen Here envisaged a right-wing populist president, advised by a cunning political strategist and backed by a cynical alliance of religious fundamentalists and corporations, who uses security threats to consolidate dictatorial powers, destroy civil liberties and establish folksy fascism. This is a virtual blueprint for the current Bush administration, a "corrupt and authoritarian ruling clique" that accords the president "the prerogatives of a king," argues political columnist Conason (Big Lies) in this lively, if overwrought, j'accuse. He surveys a long list of what he sees as Bush administration affronts to freedom and democracy: military tribunals, torture, warrantless wiretapping, politically motivated terrorism alerts, a war based on fraudulent pretexts, the Abramoff scandals, the handover of policy making to business interests and Christian zealots, tight secrecy coupled with a dissemination of propaganda through the right-wing media and a lawless contempt for constitutional constraints on the presidency. His indictment often hits home, but it's broad and indiscriminate, treating biased journalism, religion-tinged politics and lobbying scandals as signs of creeping fascism rather than age-old commonplaces of democracy. Conason delivers his usual cogent, hard-hitting critique of Republican misdeeds, but his insinuations of authoritarianism, coming just as the Republicans have been voted out of power in Congress, seem badly timed.

Not badly timed at all.

It could happen here
In an excerpt from his new book, Salon's columnist explains why, for the first time since the resignation of Richard M. Nixon, Americans have reason to doubt the future of their democracy.
By Joe Conason

Can it happen here? Is it happening here already? That depends, as a recent president might have said, on what the meaning of "it" is.

To Sinclair Lewis, who sardonically titled his 1935 dystopian novel "It Can't Happen Here," "it" plainly meant an American version of the totalitarian dictatorships that had seized power in Germany and Italy. Married at the time to the pioneering reporter Dorothy Thompson, who had been expelled from Berlin by the Nazis a year earlier and quickly became one of America's most outspoken critics of fascism, Lewis was acutely aware of the domestic and foreign threats to American freedom. So often did he and Thompson discuss the crisis in Europe and the implications of Europe's fate for the Depression-wracked United States that, according to his biographer, Mark Schorer, Lewis referred to the entire topic somewhat contemptuously as "it."

If "it" denotes the police state American-style as imagined and satirized by Lewis, complete with concentration camps, martial law, and mass executions of strikers and other dissidents, then "it" hasn't happened here and isn't likely to happen anytime soon.

For contemporary Americans, however, "it" could signify our own more gradual and insidious turn toward authoritarian rule. That is why Lewis's darkly funny but grim fable of an authoritarian coup achieved through a democratic election still resonates today -- along with all the eerie parallels between what he imagined then and what we live with now.

For the first time since the resignation of Richard M. Nixon more than three decades ago, Americans have had reason to doubt the future of democracy and the rule of law in our own country. Today we live in a state of tension between the enjoyment of traditional freedoms, including the protections afforded to speech and person by the Bill of Rights, and the disturbing realization that those freedoms have been undermined and may be abrogated at any moment.


It Can Happen Here: Journalist Joe Conason on "Authoritarian Peril in the Age of Bush"

AMY GOODMAN: You make some stark parallels between what’s happening now and the Nixon administration, when it came to trying to obliterate the checks and balances. Explain.

JOE CONASON: Right. Well, in his own clumsy way, Nixon was drawing all power into the White House, felt no accountability to Congress, felt that he could violate the law. You know, he told David Frost after he was forced from office that if the president does it, it’s not against the law, and which is false. And it was the statement that ended his presidency, really, that attitude.

But there were people who came to power under George W. Bush, principally the Vice President Dick Cheney, who were veterans of the Nixon administration, who felt that Nixon actually was the victim and who agreed with him that in times of emergency, which they regarded the protest against the Vietnam War as being part of an emergency in times of war -- and they now see us involved in a war that has no end -- that presidential power is absolute. Presidential power brooks no opposition or check from the legislative or judicial branches. And Cheney believes in that very strongly.


 09:53 PM - link

global climate change

Victim of Climate Change, a Town Seeks a Lifeline

The sturdy little Cessnas land whenever the fog lifts, delivering children’s bicycles, boxes of bullets, outboard motors and cans of dried oats. And then, with a rumble down a gravel strip, the planes are gone, the outside world recedes and this subarctic outpost steels itself once again to face the frontier of climate change.

“I don’t want to live in permafrost no more,” said Frank Tommy, 47, standing beside gutted geese and seal meat drying on a wooden rack outside his mother’s house. “It’s too muddy. Everything is crooked around here.”

The earth beneath much of Alaska is not what it used to be. The permanently frozen subsoil, known as permafrost, upon which Newtok and so many other Native Alaskan villages rest, is melting, yielding to warming air temperatures and a warming ocean. Sea ice that would normally protect coastal villages is forming later in the year, allowing fall storms to pound away at the shoreline.

Erosion has made Newtok an island, caught between the ever widening Ninglick River and a slough to the north. The village is below sea level, and sinking. Boardwalks squish into the spring muck. Human waste, collected in “honey buckets” that many residents use for toilets, is often dumped within eyeshot in a village where no point is more than a five-minute walk from any other. The ragged wooden houses have to be adjusted regularly to level them on the shifting soil.

Studies say Newtok could be washed away within a decade. Along with the villages of Shishmaref and Kivalina farther to the north, it has been the hardest hit of about 180 Alaska villages that suffer some degree of erosion.


We Want Solutions!
by Jim Kunstler

Wherever the environmentally-informed gather these days (i.e., the clusterfuck-aware), a nervous impatience often mounts, and ends up expressing itself as an outcry for "solutions." For example, at the Telluride Mountain Film Festival, where I happened to be this past weekend, along with a couple of hundred other people who spewed airplane exhaust across the stratosphere to get there. This year's twin themes were the Castor-and-Pollux of Clusterfuck Nation, Global Warming and Peak Oil.

Many frightening documentary films and Powerpoint talks were served up in the opening symposium (including ones by Dennis Dimick, the editor of National Geographic, Daniel Nocera of MIT, and yours truly) and, as the morning wore on, the audience grew visibly impatient, until one speaker dropped the word "solutions," and the audience gave out a big whoop of approbation.

It only made me more nervous, because this longing for "solutions," strikes me as a free-floating wish for magical rescue remedies, for techno-fixes that will allow us to make a hassle-free switch from fossil hydrocarbon power to something less likely to destroy the Earth's ecosystems (and human civilization with it). And I think such a wish is, in itself, at the root of our problem -- certainly at the bottom of our incapacity to think clearly about these things.

I said so, of course, which seemed to piss off a substantial number of my fellow festival attendees.


 08:56 PM - link


Mark Brautigam Photography
On Wisconsin


  thanks to Conscientious

 08:49 PM - link

  Sunday   May 27   2007

give us this day our daily photograph

Seattle's Historic Triangle Pub — South of Pioneer Square, Seattle

gordy's image archive index

 09:57 PM - link

robyn's visit to washington

I finally have all the pictures for Thursday of Robyn's Trip to Washington up. Friday and Saturday to go.

 09:47 PM - link