Saturday, July 26, 2008

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Redrawing the borders

From John McCain's interview with Diane Sawyer on ABC's Good Morning America (July 21st). A second gaffe comes at the very end, when McCain falsely states that Barack Obama advocates that the U.S. "attack" Pakistan.

To enlighten Mr. McCain on the geography of the region, I humbly offer this CIA map:

Note the rather large country that separates the borders of Iraq and Pakistan by approximately 800 miles. Iran hasn't gotten much attention recently, so it's understandable that McCain would overlook it.

MAP: Wikipedia Commons

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Blues Break: Keb' Mo' - "Dangerous Mood"

Keb' Mo' performs at the Piazza Blues Festival in Bellinzona, Italy, on June 30, 2001.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Bastille Day: "Le jour de gloire est arrivé..."

In a letter to U.S. Foreign Secretary John Jay, Thomas Jefferson offered the following account of the seizure of the Bastille in Paris by a revolutionary mob on July 14, 1789. Jefferson was the U.S. Minister to France at the time.
This was the signal for universal insurrection, & this body of cavalry, to avoid being massacred, retired towards Versailles. The people now armed themselves with such weapons as they could find in armourer shops & privated houses, and with bludgeons, & were roaming all night through all parts of the city without any decided & practicable object. The next day the states press on the King to send away the troops, to permit the Bourgeoise of Paris to arm for the preservation of order in the city, & offer to send a deputation from their body to tranquilize them. He refuses all their propositions. A committee of magistrates & electors of the city are appointed, by their bodies, to take upon them its government. The mob, now openly joined by the French guards, force the prisons of St. Larare, release all the prisoneres, & take a great store of corn, which they carry to the corn market. Here they get some arms, & the French guards begin to to form & train them.

The City committee determine to raise 48,000 Bourgeoise, or rather to restrain their numbers to 48,000, On the 16th they send one of their numbers ( Monsieur de Corny whom we knew in America) to the Hotel des Invalides to ask arms for their Garde Bourgeoise. He was followed by, or he found there, a great mob. The Governor of the Invalids came out & represented the impossibility of his delivering arms without the orders of those from whom he received them. De Corny advised the people then to retire, retired himself, & the people took possession of the arms. It was remarkable that not only the invalids themselves made no opposition, but that a body of 5000 foreign troops, encamped with 400 yards, never stirred. Monsieur De Corny and five others were then sent to ask arms of Monsieur de Launai , Governor of the Bastille. The found a great collection of people already before the place, & they immediately planted a flag of truce, which was answered by a like flag hoisted on the parapet.

The depositition prevailed on the people to fall back a little, advanced themselves to make their demand of the Governor. & in that instant a discharge from the Bastille killed 4 people of those nearest to the deputies. The deputies retired, the people rushed against the place, and almost in an instant were in possession of a fortification, defended by 100 men, of infinite strength, which in other times had stood several regular sieges & had never been taken. How they got in, has as yet been impossible to discover. Those, who pretend to have been of the party tell so many different stories as to destroy the credit of them all. They took all the arms, discharged the prisoners & such of the garrison as were not killed in the first moment of fury, carried the Governor and Lieutenant Governor to the Greve (the place of public execution) cut off their heads, & sent them through the city in triumph to the Palais royal...

I have the honor to be with great esteem & respect, Sir, your most obedient and most humble servant.

Thomas Jefferson
On July 19th, Jefferson added, in another letter to John Jay:
I went yesterday to Versailles to satisfy myself what had passed there; for nothing can be believed but what one sees, or has from an eye witness. They believe there still that 3000 people have fallen victims to the tumults of Paris. Mr. Short & myself have been every day among them in order to be sure of what was passing. We cannot find with certainty that any body has been killed but the three beforementioned, & those who fell in the assault of defence of the Bastille. How many of the garrison were killed no body pretends to have ever heard. Of the assailants accounts vary from 6. to 600. The most general belief is that there fell about 30.
Vive la Révolution!

[Sample page in Jefferson's handwriting.]

GRAPHIC: Prise de la Bastille, by Jean-Pierre-Louis-Laurent Hoüel (1789) - Wikimedia Commons

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The weavers at work

"We love our forests and benefit from them in so many ways. Our forests help filter our drinking water, provide habitat for diverse animal and plant species, supply us with oxygen, moderate temperatures and rainfall and store atmospheric carbon. They provide an active playground and quiet retreat. They supply renewable resources for building materials, paper and heating, along with jobs that support families and communities."
— Oregon Forest Resources Institute brochure. The OFRI was created by the Oregon legislature "to improve public understanding of Oregon’s forest resources and to encourage sound forest practices."

"Everybody in the whole town talked about the precious cloth. At last the emperor wished to see it himself, while it was still on the loom. With a number of courtiers, including the two who had already been there, he went to the two clever swindlers, who now worked as hard as they could, but without using any thread.

"'Is it not magnificent?' said the two old statesmen who had been there before. 'Your Majesty must admire the colours and the pattern.' And then they pointed to the empty looms, for they imagined the others could see the cloth.

"'What is this?' thought the emperor, 'I do not see anything at all. That is terrible! Am I stupid? Am I unfit to be emperor? That would indeed be the most dreadful thing that could happen to me.'

“'Really,' he said, turning to the weavers, 'your cloth has our most gracious approval;' and nodding contentedly he looked at the empty loom, for he did not like to say that he saw nothing. All his attendants, who were with him, looked and looked, and although they could not see anything more than the others, they said, like the emperor, 'It is very beautiful.' And all advised him to wear the new magnificent clothes at a great procession which was soon to take place. 'It is magnificent, beautiful, excellent,' one heard them say; everybody seemed to be delighted, and the emperor appointed the two swindlers 'Imperial Court weavers.'"

The Emperor's New Clothes, Hans Christian Anderson (1837)

PHOTO: Cape Lookout State Park, northern Oregon coast, by M.J. O'Brien. [See also here, here and here.]

Monday, July 07, 2008