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The 32nd Chinese Export Commodities (Autumn) Fair was held between 15 October and 15 November 1972 and I received an invitation to attend. The political climate was changing in Australia, the USA and China but there still was no formal diplomatic relationship between the countries. Chairman Mao was seemingly in control of China, although the struggle of Mao’s wife and her supporters (the radicals) against Zhou Enlai and Deng Xiaoping (the moderates) was building towards the confrontation that occurred in January 1973.
only sane course
I’m a boomer, so I missed the greatest existential crisis of the 20th Century: The Second World War. My Dad, however, was in the thick of it, helping mop up after the Battle of the Bulge.
In my lifetime, though, the human family has stared down the barrel of two additional crises of existential proportions: the Cuban Missile Crisis and climate destabilization, the latter of which is ongoing. Which crisis has posed the greater threat?
He was not at all like, as Jane Kenyon would say, “a wine glass, weary of holding wine.” During our recent time together, he was at one point on his hands and knees retrieving his confounded new hearing aid that still let him down. As he sat ajar at the table so that his one good ear was pointed my way, he told me that Mildred had said, “Don’t tell anyone.” His dear wife was forgetting too many things and was frightened of what was to come, although she didn’t want to talk about it.
Okay, what’s in the headlines today? Well, let’s see.
Jumpin’ Jehosaphats: There is the idiot woman who was asked to leave a McDonalds because she claimed that the kangaroo, (yes, a fuckin’ kangaroo) she had with her, wrapped in a blanket and riding in an infant car seat, was her “service animal.” Like the rest of you I assumed it must be a “Seeing Eye Kangaroo” but that would be incorrect. She explained to the officer that the kangaroo helps her cope with “emotional distress” and showed him a doctor’s note stating she needed a kangaroo…
With agreement from the Dong Fang Hotel staff, I arranged for a taxi to take me to the Guangzhou Zoo. The PLA driver responsible for my well-being was unsmiling and silent all the way. The hotel staff had told me, and the driver, that I was allowed one hour in the zoo and the driver would wait at the main gate. The zoo was not large so it was crowded and Mao suits were the popular dress for both adults and children. The main attraction, until I arrived, was the panda bear enclosure.
poisoning our wetlands
Dear Alex Atwood,
The problem with the Cons (conservative, contrary, confused, conflicted, concerned, convoluted; take your pick) is that they are negative — against not just change, but most everything else. So, since the world is in a state of constant change, they are “out of step,” so to speak and that makes them both ineffective and angry. It is a mistake to think the Cons we install in public office will accomplish anything positive…
This winter has set record lows in many states, a fact the editor of our conservative local newspaper, and others of his ilk, must be relishing. “There’s no global warming,” I can imagine him crowing. “It’s all a liberal hoax.” Such distorted logic reveals either an appalling ignorance of the meaning of “average,” or a cynical attempt to intentionally mislead.
Truth is, the names bestowed on various scientific phenomena are often whimsical in origin. Nobel laureate (1969) Murray Gell-Mann, for example, appropriated the term quark — one of three elementary particles and fundamental constituents of matter — from a nonsensical line in Finnegan’s Wake: “Three quarks for Muster Mark!”
sins of the flesh
The 2015 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition came last week to the usual uproar. The magazine ran reminders for a month reminding anyone who didn’t want nearly nekkid swimsuit girls sent to their home to let them know. Simultaneously, the parent company ran endless ads on television making sure everyone else could get a copy.
I saw my first naked lady picture when I was ten, in a man’s magazine in the Rexall Drug Store in Demopolis, Alabama. The front cover mentioned uncovered cover girls. I honestly had no idea what that was until I turned to that page.
listen to the words
“I was wearing an orange bathrobe. She was leaning over me in a white men’s T-shirt and tiny white panties, shaking me by the shoulder. Her slender body seemed fragile, secure, childlike, with no sign of last night’s Italian excesses. Outside was not yet dawn.”
As I wind down Haruki Murakami’s novel Hard-Boiled Wonderland And The End Of The World, I am deliberately slowing down my pace to savor the language and to listen to its tempo. The music is playing in the words.
The first time I heard the phrase, “the Information Age,” I wasn’t sure what it meant. The best I could figure it meant an explosion in knowledge was on the way. That, it so happens, was true. Two weeks ago I came across this strange unpronounceable word, “paraskevidekatriaphobia.” I googled it and found an online dictionary that pronounces it. It has nine or ten syllables. I gave up trying to determine just how many but it’s a lot. (Read on if you want to know the word’s meaning.) For sure we have easier ways to learn things now, but “the Information Age,” to me means something else. People don’t talk on the phone much anymore. Maybe we are entering the Antisocial Age.
If George Sparks shepherded Georgia State University in its middle years, the major figure propelling the university into the future was no doubt Noah Langdale. He was president from 1957 until 1988, seeing it grow from two buildings with $1.9 million budget and 5,200 students, and offering one degree, to 22,000 students and 20 buildings, a budget of $118 million and with 50 degrees in more than 200 fields. Today GSU could soon have more than 50,000 students, as Georgia Perimeter College is to merge with GSU.
Clearing away the receipts, letters, and documents that cover my desk I came across my own business card with a woman’s name, Pat, and phone number on the back. It brought back a lot of memories. It’s not what you think. It’s a true story that goes back a ways.
I met Pat seven years ago. With no family in town, Pat, like many others, gathered with others at a neighborhood pub some evenings for conservation, a way to keep loneliness at bay. (For those who work all day only to face an evening alone, 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. are the loneliest hours of the day. Meeting others provides a balm.)
yin v. yang
It’s a dance I know by heart, this shifting and swaying from the outward world of human entanglements to an inner place of calm reflection. I’m not sure I could stop this movement if I tried, caught between voices calling cause to action and others from far hillsides beckoning me to run away — to fly away and be freed.
All around are people caught in conflict, their caring inching closer daily to anger, with words unheard, meanings misunderstood, and passions unrequited. On issues local, global, and universal, we have shouting like never before.
reflections of the south
HIGHWAY 501 SC: April. Somewhere near Aynor. Having wrapped up a photo shoot in old Ocean Drive, we drive homeward through wind-driven coastal plain silt. Though dust devils obscure 501, a shimmering red and green mirage breaks through. But it’s no mirage. It’s remembrance. Winds subside, sands drop, and Dean’s Produce emerges next to a cornfield mown to beard-like stubble. Dean’s stand of glinting tin and yellow pine glows with honey, but the incandescent red and green jams gleam like St. Elmo’s fire.
April 18 - 19, 2015
The Southern Appalachian oral art of storytelling has been a feature of the annual Bear on the Square Mountain Festival in Dahlonega, Ga., over the years. This year, storytelling will have an even more significant presence at the festival with the National Storytelling Network (NSN) awarding the 2015 Bear Festival the designation as this year’s Southeast Regional Spotlight Event for Storytelling.
why it matters
Community Forum on Marsh Buffers & Clean Waters, March 4 at 7:00 pm, Ballard Community Center, Brunswick, GA.
And, because such events need to be sponsored and the environment can never have too many friends, we’re organizing a new group, the Sidney Lanier Environmental Advocacy Team or S.L.E.A.T.– sporting the unofficial slogan “Making sure our environment is good to eat.”
just keep voting republican
We couldn’t put it off any longer. Last night Dede and I told Ruthie we were getting a divorce. Since we’ve enjoyed what can only be termed a highly successful marriage for 37 years, the news was unexpected.
“We’re getting out,” I offered, not very helpfully. “It’s time. We really don’t have any choice.”
“What are you talking about? You all are perfect together.”
“That’s not the point,” Dede tried to explain.
“What is the point?” Ruthie cried.
I put it as succinctly as I could. “Gay marriage.”
georgia hb 17
During the 2015-2016 Regular Session of the General Assembly, our Georgia elected-officials are expected to vote on HB 17 – “the Hidden Predator Act.”
“A BILL to be entitled an Act to amend Chapter 3 of Title 9 and Article 2 of Chapter 5 of Title 49 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to limitations of actions and child abuse and deprivation records, respectively, so as to extend the statute of limitations for actions for childhood sexual abuse…
Back when states were planting institutions of higher learning, these universities were not always located in what became the state’s major city. As a result, problems have arisen between forces in the major city wanting a state university and the major university located in a smaller town wanting to enhance their school’s prestige.
It’s that same old story of jealously, while seeking to keep the state’s university as the major campus of the state.
This evening I popped out to the corner store for milk. A woman was there with an older man. He was walking up and down the aisles as she trailed behind him – sighing and huffing and saying things like “Dammit, Dad! You dragged me out to get something with you and now you can’t remember what you need?” Her words seemed to fall like blows on his shoulders. He began picking up items in a random fashion and knocked over several cans of soup. I bent to retrieve them up and when I straightened I looked into his face. There it was: the panicked, lost look of a man who set out with clear intent… and lost his bearings along the way. I know this look – and it breaks my heart.
Now that the Board of Regents have decided to merge Georgia State University with Georgia Perimeter College, GSU will soon total more than 50,000 students, and will be the largest unit of the University System of Georgia.
Not only that, but it is an urban university, as well as a research university, bringing in $58 million in 2011 in grants for study. It has conferred 192,785 degrees since its founding.
value of liberal arts
When I read Frank Bruni’s column recently in The New York Times about the value of a liberal arts education, I was pleased at how he had honored a professor at Chapel Hill whose Shakespeare classes had been the most transformative educational experiences of his life. She had read the column and had written him, the first contact they had had since the mid-1980s, to talk more about the state of higher education in this country today.
As I squirmed over their exchange on how so many politicians want to value education according to what kind of high paying job it can bring, I can still hear the concerns over half a century ago of my father…
“I’ve heard some folks try to dodge the evidence by saying they’re not scientists — that we don’t have enough information to act [on climate change]. Well, I’m not a scientist, either. But you know what? I know a lot of really good scientists at NASA, and NOAA, and at our major universities.” — Barack Obama
You’ve got to give the GOP credit: its members sure know how to tow the party line.
glynn county, ga
BMPs, short for Best Management Practices, the playbook upon which environmentalists rely to guide developers and other soil disturbers to do the right thing, are failing. The question is why. I don’t think the spouse, who observes that, in his youth, BMPs referred to “bowel movements with pee,” is on the right track, even though the venue, the southland, is apt. I really don’t think the blatant disregard for best management practices, especially on the part of public agencies, ranging from the Georgia Department of Transportation to the Glynn County Department of Public Works can be blamed on linguistic disconnects.
in a white racial frame
As taught in mainstream culture, American history propagates this nation as the womb of freedom, justice, and liberty. There are American creation myths as exemplified by the “Founding Fathers.” There are founding documents as revered as biblical texts for their promise of “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
That is why the argument that ‘black history is American history’ is naïve to the point of insipidity. For most of this nation’s history, blacks were not ‘Americans.’ First, we were owned, and then we were barred from exercising the rights of citizenship…
If you were Georgia’s governor, what would you want your legacy to be? Most would want a spotless legacy, we would think, with several key points paramount on ways they would have improved the lives of the governed.
We think back to the way Carl Sanders is thought of as an “education governor,” in that he greatly improved public education for our state at all levels. (He might also be called the “airport governor, ” as he established many local airports, using this as a tool for economic development.)
in sports metaphor
Georgia’s transportation game clock was ticking its final minutes when a 2012 “Hail Mary” pass fell with a thud far from the intended receiver. Uncomfortable with the game on the line, leaders in the General Assembly and the Governor’s Mansion pitched a panicked audible to voters and local governments with the T-SPLOST referendum. Its rejection left leaderless chaos for two-a-half years, during which we’ve seen little reason for hope and backsliding across metropolitan Atlanta.
Worthy of Comment
Also on the Dew
“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” William Faulkner had a big-time influence on me as an adolescent as did my father who never met a funeral he didn’t like, especially if it took him back to the hill country of Appalachian Ohio where he had been raised. Even now I remember as a boy following a group of men carrying the casket of a man my father had known when he was a boy. The memory is still clear of them slipping and sliding along the dry creek bed en route to a spot in the woods where a Read on →
Ironically - let us begin with a Joke. Man walking along a road in the countryside comes across a shepherd and a huge flock of sheep. Tells the shepherd, "I will bet you $100 against one of your sheep that I can tell you the exact number in this flock." The shepherd thinks it over; it's a big flock so he takes the bet. "973," says the man. The shepherd is astonished, because that is exactly right. Says "OK, I'm a man of my word, take an animal." Man picks one up and begins to walk away. "Wait," cries the shepherd, "Let Read on →
It's a phrase that just popped into my head out of the ether the other day. And, sure enough, Google has a handy reference in a book by a Scottish minister, David Gilkison Watt, who died in London in 1897, after having visited both India and St. Petersburg, Florida. Watt was a missionary, so it's perhaps not surprising that in his writing he promoted the wisdom he found in the Book of Ezekiel -- i.e. long before his time. I don't know if his "Homiletic Commentary on the Book of Ezekiel" was timely when he wrote it, but it sure Read on →
"Nothing is precious except that part of you which is in other people, and that part of others which is in you. Up there, on high, everything is one." -- Pierre Teilhard de Chardin At the root of the culture wars lies a fundamental dichotomy in worldviews. Which is more essential to humanity: the individual or the collective? The philosophy of Ayn Rand, as articulated in her novels The Fountainhead (1943) and Atlas Shrugged (1957), undergirds one extreme of the cultural divide. Rand, a Russian Jew who immigrated to the U.S. in 1926, espoused a libertarian philosophy that leaves the individual unencumbered Read on →