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savannah river site
Savannah River Site, the bomb plant, sprawls across the land near Aiken—a 61-mile drive from where I grew up. When I was a boy I discovered the woman next door, Miss Ann, made the 120-plus-mile round-trip five days a week. A peacekeeper of sorts, she’d gotten on at the bomb plant. For a long time I knew little about this nuclear reservation.
Years passed. One July day in 1986, a self-assigned writing project took me to Savannah River Site…
The University of Georgia media collection features a handful of town films. The one about Athens, Georgia is the most complete in the sense of presenting the whole community, on the ground and from the air. The description accompanying the offering on the web page is somewhat inaccurate:
Because of its business and housing content, we believe this 16mm color amateur film of scenes in and around Athens was made by Joel A. Weir who was, at that time, Executive Director of the Athens Housing Authority as well as Director of the Athens Chamber of Commerce (1931-1949). This short clip (14 mins.) is excerpted from the full film (approx. 45 mins.) and is silent.
who/what do you read?
A fellow writer asked me yesterday: What do you read? Which writers do you value? Who influences your style? This knocked me for six. It’s a Big Question. I have a long history in libraries and five bookcases stacked with a lifetime’s paperbacks (cheapskate) and short of trawling the shelves for authors’ names which often escape me, I didn’t think I had time to respond. IRS accounts waiting on my dining table reproach me every time I walk past doing something more interesting. But this intriguing question slipped into my mind’s cogs as they surreptitiously rotated.
That the Crimean Crisis would be exploited by Republican Congressional leaders to criticize President Obama was inevitable. Politics hasn’t stopped at the water’s edge in the United States for a very long time. What wasn’t inevitable was the shamelessness of Senator John McCain’s denunciation of President Obama in a speech to the most powerful ethnic foreign policy lobby in Washington. In a March 4th address to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the Arizona Republican complained about a “feckless foreign policy where nobody believes in America’s strength anymore.”
act of cultural vandalism
An open letter to my elected, so-called representatives: This present Australian Government is trotting dog-like down the path to destruction behind its conservative counterparts in the US and elsewhere, bent on transforming us into a society where the environment, the economy and the national social conscience are left to the tender mercies of the free market and corporate “self-regulation”.
The feeling of your tires losing traction on an icy road is hard to label. You’d think it might feel like falling, a sudden stop or start, a gut-twisting vertigo as the ground drops away, but it’s not that dramatic. Instead of physics slapping you with your own momentum, you feel, perhaps, like the road has just started lying to you. The motions of your hands and feet, something you’ve felt so very confident in for years, aren’t following through on their promise. You’re clearly steering in one direction, applying just so much pressure to the pedals, but the road is picking motions at random.
war in afghanistan
What would winning the War in Afghanistan look like? America has been at war there for 13 years and you would expect that after thousands of casualties and spending immense sums of our tax dollars something that could be deemed victory would have been achieved by now. Instead of that we are presented with soon to be retiring Rep. Howard P. ‘Buck’ McKeon, Chair of the House Armed Services Committee, chiding the America people and President Obama for not wanting to keep fighting the longest war in our history.
When they were small my husband used to say, “With a mother like you, Columbus would never have discovered America.” I knew I was over-anxious and didn’t want to burden them; I could barely contain my anxiety when small boys walked along a pier by the sea peering down at the fish (I couldn’t swim) or stood on a cliff’s edge (I suffer from vertigo) but I could keep quiet about my night vigils when they were growing up.
In business school there is little ambiguity as to the mission, money … profits. In art school it’s a little different. The one I went to required focus, after a year of fundamentals, on one of several options: Advertising, Illustration, Industrial Design (all, you’ll note, with the same point as business school) or Fine Art. Within the Fine Arts, by year three, one selected a major: painting, sculpture or printmaking. Of course everyone knew that “fine art” was a commodity, but it was considered crass to dwell too much on that area. So what, if not money, was the point?
taking god's name in vain
HB 1023 and SB 377 are now slithering through the dank halls of Georgia’s government. These bills would allow business owners to openly discriminate against gay Americans by denying them employment or services: banning them from restaurants, hotels etc. (Translation: anybody who wishes to discriminate against someone for any reason need only say that it’s because it’s part of their “personal religion”.) The so-called “Preservation of Religious Freedom Act” would, in effect, permit any individual or for-profit company to ignore Georgia’s anti-discrimination and civil rights laws.
what crawled up your drawers?
Oh, I love it and I hate it,
Every now and then berate it,
The sweet and sunny south where I was born.
— Gina Forsyth
Image in my head: a tour bus arriving in the republic of Biblestan, disgorging a file of daytrippers, like poverty tourists in a Rio slum, at some ramshackle barbecue joint, hiply-shod, fanny-pack-wearing gawkers shocked at the absence of recycling bins by the dumpsters, saying “Gee whilikers!” and “You betcha!”, having their barbecue not too spicy! then waddling off to the Gift Shop for some outrageous corncob art.
don’t delete the expletives
When my boys were growing up they learned rude words from their classmates (school is an education) and naturally I tried to filter out the most offensive. When a four letter word slipped out of their mouths I would always say “Please don’t say that.” After I explained that their meaning was offensive, and if it became their familiar vocabulary it would inevitably slip out when they didn’t want it to (like in front of a teacher), they were pretty accommodating. Their father however replied to my request not to swear in front of the children (without prevarication) “I’ll effing well swear if I want to!”…
pandering to stupid
I live in Georgia. The General Assembly is in session. It is our annual celebration of stupidity, ignorance, pandering, baiting, and hate. It is open season on history, the Constitution, science, mutual respect, and common sense. It is a loathsome time. 40 days and $20 billion in public cash. One party, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for some. This is an election year and our elected cannot legally accept campaign contributions while in the legislature is in session. The pressure is on in the hurry to protect poor little Georgia from big meanie pants Washington. Blame Obama. Praise Jesus. All hail the NRA and Georgia Carry. Cut taxes, but give give give to bidness.
message of every ad
“Forfeit your sense of awe and the world becomes a market place.” — Rabbi Abraham Heschel
“A culture is a people enacting a story,” wrote Daniel Quinn in Ishmael. So Americans, what’s our collective story? Pose this question to virtually anyone and you’re likely to get a blank stare in response. Most of us pay no heed to our mythology. It’s the water we swim in, and we take it completely for granted. Or worse, we discount whatever smells of mythology.
The eagerness that South Carolina’s Haley Administration showed in seeking federal disaster assistance during this month’s Great Ice Storm makes one wonder whether there is any sense to what kind of federal money is OK to take and what isn’t.
You’ll recall that as hundreds of thousands of people lost power and sat in dark homes growing ever colder, Gov. Nikki Haley rightfully said South Carolina was in a state of emergency and requested the federal government to officially designate it as an emergency.
In my outings around town I often see people in their thirties socializing. They run in packs and hop from bar to bar like fleas. They cluster up at festivals watching passersby, pointing, and laughing at others. They run together as couples and they break into male and female packs seeking adventure sure to banish boredom. This phenomenon is not new. We did it when we were in our thirties. Some of you did too. It’s been happening as long as men and women itch to escape the same old same old.
the power to corrupt
James Holland has dug into his archives from his days as the Altamaha River Keeper (ARK) to remind us that it’s not just North Carolina that’s got a coal waste problem.
The Duke Energy coal ash spill in North Carolina has been in the news a lot, as of late. This tragedy on the Dan River in North Carolina started me to thinking about how one of Georgia’s main rivers and lakes may be quite vulnerable to a coal ash spill at Milledgeville, Georgia. The lake is Lake Sinclair and the river that is dammed to create Lake Sinclair is the Oconee River in the Altamaha River watershed.
contrast british and american
“Among those whom I like or admire, I can find no common denominator, but among those whom I love, I can: all of them make me laugh.”—Auden
There is a distinct British sense of humor, often wry, dry and irreverent. It doesn’t rely on smut to be effective, although we’re amused by suggestion. We like the casual delivery, so leave your eyebrows out of it. Half the fun is subtlety. Brits like me enjoy the unexpected outcome, the double entendre, observations on human nature and misunderstandings; slapstick not so much.
georgia hb 875
It’s the first day of school. Imagine weepy parents and eager teachers. Imagine clingy children, it’s the first time we leave them in the care of our school. Some kids are thrilled with their new found independence. Now imagine that teacher armed with an AR-15, a lightweight, 5.56 mm, .223-caliber, magazine-fed, air cooled rifle with a rotating-lock bolt, actuated by direct impingement gas operation. A weapon we see in the movies. But it’s not a movie. It’s Georgia and it could be real, with passage of HB 875.
reinventing the mettle of fiction
So often, avid readers settle for less. We browse the bestseller list, hoping for a title that will save us from the sinking ship that is publishing today. As e-books and e-readers murder print, one has to seek solace from the “blah blah blah” that populates the New York Times Best Seller List. It can be hard to find writers that can serve as literary life preservers. Some authors are getting only 30,000 first prints while authors who churn out a dozen books a year get nearly a million. What is the general public reader supposed to do when the market is flooded by novelty and frilly nonsense?
The phenomenon of elderly people fixed with rapt and adoring attention on The Lawrence Welk Show used to totally baffle me. Everything about it seemed transparently fake – fake smiles, fake dialogue, fake music. The bubbles might have been real. It was like the glaring opposite of hip. But hip can be fake too, more like the opposite of authentic, or maybe anti-real. It’s not much of a leap from Lawrence Welk to Ronald Reagan.
The text message was simple and in code; I was visiting Daryl’s house the other day and Billy Gibbons dropped by. We had fun. Billy has a killer guacamole recipe. My son’s one word reply: Nice.
Shane and I are suckers for Live From Daryl’s House, a television music show hosted by legendary Eighties schlock performer Daryl Hall. John Oates is yet to appear, although the duo has showed up at a couple of concerts in the recent past.
food for thought
Multiple studies have shown that racial and ethnic minorities frequently receive lower quality health care, are less likely to get routine care and have higher rates of morbidity and mortality than non-minorities. Even as medical discoveries improve health care over all, these disparities are cited over and over again as something that has to change. As we entered 2014, I wanted to know much has changed and when we will learn that new discoveries will not lead to a reduction in disparities.
The Taxed Enough Already people were/are deceived, but they can’t see it. Why? It’s not the fault, as some people would have it, of the corporate (Koch) effort to take these disgusted citizens over. And it’s not that the corporate claim to being sympathetic and understanding of the plight of being taxed too much, which the corporations surely aren’t. No, the deception lies elsewhere and whether citizens and corporations are taxed too little or too much or just enough is actually entirely beside the point. Because the deception lies in the simple perversion of the truth…
He always held his pencil differently from the rest of us. While we philistines labored to be little Norman Rockwells desperately trying to make the faces we sketched look at least human, he glided over the paper with an ease none of us could ever duplicate. His faces were human, but they were in a Picasso-like abstract style. The noses were there but they sometimes overlapped the mouth and eyes and were out of proportion. Our teacher in middle school was not in the least amused and totally disinterested in how his mind was able to see the assignment in such a different way. All she could tell him was to quit “wasting time” and …
When his obituary appeared prematurely in the press, Mark Twain remarked: “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” In the last weeks a number of deaths of celebrities have been falsely reported. Nothing but fame seems to connect the individuals whose erroneously reported demise has set the twittering classes tweeting. First I read on the internet that Michael Moore had died. I was dismayed at the loss of this useful member of society and great campaigner, and relieved next day when I discovered the report was false…
create some jobs, too
Sometimes the answer to a problem is staring you in the face. And sometimes it can solve more than one problem, if you implement it. We’re thinking about the traffic problem that Metro Atlanta had two weeks ago with snow and ice and people stuck for hours in traffic.
Out of all this, are you not “surprised” that some members of our Legislature are coming forth with the same old answers, suggesting that the people of Georgia pass a T-SPLOST, which they think would solve the traffic patterns during a snowstorm.
Worthy of Comment
Also on the Dew
That’s what the spouse said when I wrote him how surprised and disappointed I was to discover that Michelle Nunn has gratuitously endorsed the XL pipeline from Canada, because buying oil from “neighbors” is better than from overseas, as well as to read a report that Nunn wants changes to Obamacare to allow cheaper policies for the young. Like they don’t have car accidents and sports injuries, etc? (Read the other day that there’s a chance auto and workmen’s comp insurance rates are going to decrease now that people have health insurance. Ripple effect). He went on to observe that “Kenny and Tracy hav Read on →
Before I fell asleep last night, my wife Jody read aloud to me from her copy of Barbara Kingsolver’s book The Lacuna. The passage she chose was a diary entry that opened: “Tonight’s news: the Allies broke open the dikes along the Netherlands coast, letting in the open sea and drowning thousands of German soldiers in the flood. Like the Azteca opening dikes to drown Cortés and his men on the shores of Lake Tenochtitlan. But fiction is nonsense, the war is real. Tomorrow the farmers of Walcheren will wake to see a tide standing over their crops, the floating corpses of the Read on →
Around the clock, Channel 354 on Dish TV is devoted to hour long programs for dogs. I stumbled upon this when flicking channels, wondering why plastic balloons were drifting across the screen to no apparent end. It was emptier in content than the billiards my Mother with dementia liked to watch for hours. I read the notes: Dog TV provides “Active Camera Moments, Exciting Animations and Moving Objects to encourage your dogs’ playfulness when home alone.” Further, “It’s relaxing time! Research shows that soothing music and relaxing images help your dog feel calm and relax.” “Afternoon Stimulation” runs into “Afternoon Relaxation,” followed by “Family Read on →
The modern oil industry, vertically integrated exploration, extraction, refining and distribution of oil on a mass scale, began no later than 1825 in Tsarist Russia. In 1825 Russia produced 3500 tons of crude and refined it, mostly into kerosene. By 1850 the Russian output had doubled to over 7000 tons. By 1906 Russia had a pipeline over 400 miles long stretching from the oil fields in Azerbaijan to the Black Sea port of Batumi, the first major pipeline in the world. By the 1900 there were great strides being taken to develop oil fields in the United States and at Read on →