Friday, July 04, 2008

We'll get back to princes when I run out of NOLA pix

Clang ,clang, clang went the trolley
Ding, ding, ding went the bell
Zing, zing, zing went my heartstrings as we started for Huntington Dell.

May New Orleans truly rise from the rubble. America should not lose all this.

I have, as I have noted before, tremendous respect and admiration for the people of New Orleans who claim this is as home and refuse to give up.
I know all the arguments for never settling below sea level, or in tornado zones, or flood plains, or along earthquake faults, etc.

I lived from 1991 to 2002 a mere 100 or so yards from the Hayward Fault in Northern California (and we spent a sizable chunk of money retro-fitting the house).

Frankly, I marvel at people living where winters are harsh or where soil is not fertile. But humans live where they live through the combined factors of chance, history, heritage, and fate, and somehow they make do. What seems beloved to one appears impossible or loathsome to another. Where I live now is not particularly prone to earthquakes or floods, certainly not hurricanes, though tornados are possible and small ones have hit the area. But it is high desert and I know, from six decades of living in California, that water is not an infinite resource.

I live here (Albuquerque - I'm home at the moment) because I love the place (New Mexico).

Here is yet another facade of the Whitney Bank.
This seems more suited for Central Europe or Central Asia, don't you think?
I love the carved stone.
Now that is some serious presence as one enters the building.

Even an ATM can be elegant in New Orleans. And this one is.

The world is impoverished when everything is reduced to functionality.
--the BB

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Oh no, not more buildings!

Here are some more photos from my quick walk around the block after lunch yesterday. There is so much architectural detail within such a small area in the Central Business District of NOLA. For those who are really into design, detail, proportion, ornamentations, structure, texture, and color, this is a treat. And I am into all those things. I would guess that the political and spiritual and cultural aspects of this blog, as it advertises itself, are obvious. This romp through the architecture of New Orleans helps me uphold the aesthetic side of things.

And no, I simply cannot bring myself to spell aesthetic and its relatives without the "a" at the beginning. It is from the Greek aisthesis, after all.

Interesting juxtaposition of the rough-hewn white stone with the highly polished gray granite column. [Can you believe that the Blogger dictionary did not recognize "hewn"? What sort of illiterate dolts compile their dictionaries? While I'm sounding curmudgeonly, do we have major opportunity to use the word "dolt" more often? With a presidential election year we should find no shortage of exemplars.]

The texturing in the concavity is unusual.
How can you not love a neighborhood with arches like this? (Well, ignoring the humidity and heat and all, that is.)
I love this building. What a delicious terra cotta color. (Oh, the blog speller doesn't like terra cotta either. Sheesh.)

The Whitney Bank has great capitals on its square columns.
The Safe Deposit Vault section has these lovely curved bars that makes me think of the folds of hot candy being poured. (Yes, the BB has a notorious sweet tooth.)

There is a sense of barbaric splendor here, plus the trustworthy stolidity a bank hopes to convey. "Your money is safe with us."

I will refrain from comments about the financial industry in general at this point except to note that I read somewhere this morning (was it on AmericaBlog?) that there is talk of the Dow sinking to 10,000 again. I remember the days when folks were excited that it would finally reach 10,000 (but that was coming from below, not above).

Here we have a vacant lot amid the other buildings, a common sight in the CBD.
Another interesting combination of textures and design.

I like the sense of age in New Orleans. Though by New Mexican standards it is all rather modern.

--the BB

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

I have been honored


But I cannot respond tonight. When I get home, probably Friday morning.

Thank you, Mickey.
--the BB

What effing flute?

Last night as Jay and I were heading back to our apartments he said I was to be sure to remember the flute the next morning (today).

My brain begins a scan of the memory banks. Now, I must concede that the short-term memory buffers are extremely, as they say, volatile. I am trying to think of any moment when he and I have ever discussed any flute. Coming up blank.

Of course, it only took the time I spent typing the first word of the previous paragraph for the most seriously puzzled look to form on my face. I was driving, so he had the luxury of watching my reaction. Mind you, he was not yanking my chain. I was just totally flummoxed. My expression said it all: "What effing flute are you talking about?"

I was more polite, though. "What flute?" I queried. "You know, the one downtown," he respoonded, or something along those lines. My expression becomes more puzzled and a string of "What?" "What flute?" Perhaps there were overtones of "I don't know nothing about no flutes, bro!"

"The one you want to take a picture of," he finally says.

"Oh, the clarinet," says I.

We had talked about how impressed I was from day one with the clarinet painted in trompe l'oeil fashion on the side of one of the downtown Holiday Inns. I had been wanting to take pix of it from the beginning yet still had never done so.

Needless to say, Jay is not a connoisseur of wind instruments. We had a good laugh. Actually, we roared and enjoyed this confusion and my reactions and his reactions to my reactions most of the rest of the ride home.

And this morning we pulled over into a vacant parking lot and I took out the camera and shot photos of "the flute." There was also ribald male humor about saluting the flute.

Anyway, here it is.

The detail is truly amazing.
And that shadow is paint, of course.
And that is my photo anecdote for the day.

I took lots of other pix at lunch today but will save those for another post.

Tomorrow I (and most of my coworkers) fly home for the weekend. Woohoo! We are all quite keen about the prospect of seeing our own homes, being with our own loved ones, sleeping in our own beds, etc.

May you and all those you love have a glorious, patriotic, and safe Independence Day.
--the BB

Pray for our courts

They may be our final recourse against tyranny (since Congress is doing such a lousy job of it).

The CD Circuit Court of Appeals smacks down allegations by the Bush machine in a Guantánamo case, reaffirming that courts require evidence, not assertions. You can read about it in Smintheus' post here.
--the BB

Monday, June 30, 2008

Words of wisdom from Richard Rohr

This is part of a sentence from Richard Rohr's Radical Grace quoted by MikeF at his blog. The post merits a visit.
--the BB

Perhaps you were wondering...

... whether I had forgotten about torture, or FISA, or the Constitution, or princes? Not at all, but time and energy are severely limited, especially the latter. [In the category of good news, I have been getting a lot more sleep and am feeling almost human. If I get enough I may feel ursine again - even better! Private joke with my ex-honey.]

You can check out Emptywheel on the charging of Abd al Rahim al Nashiri for conspiring to attack the USS Cole. He is one of the Gitmo detainees who has been waterboarded. There seems to be evidence that he was involved in the suicide attack on the Cole and, if so, I would like to see him tried and convicted for the same. But can we ever pursue honorable legal mechanisms to deal with such a person if all we do is tainted with torture? And can the government afford for details of what has been done to him to come out in the public forum? You can bet they will try to minimize or squelch it.

It was a sad day when torture became an acceptable topic and an acceptable procedure and the Bush administration must be made to own and carry that stigma into history. We, the American People, must work to undo that legacy and fight to ensure that it is never repeated.

I've given up hope of educating Fox viewers about Jack Bauer being a fictional character operating immorally in unrealistic circumstances.
--the BB

An early evening adventure

My carpool buddy was chatting with his brother on the cell phone and I was sufficiently distracted to head down one path toward the apartment this evening after work instead of the one I intended. So I decided to shift over to the desired route via a street I had not traveled before.

This involved what I call a "New Orleans left turn" - turning right onto a divided street, proceeding for half a block, and using a turnaround (someone told me they are called "free zones" but we have not confirmed that) to make a U-turn and head in the direction one originally intended. All this because most intersections in this city have No Left Turn signs on them.

I assumed I would come to the desired parallel street.

Then I began to doubt.

We had driven a bit farther than I expected. Did we cross it on that overpass? (Yes.)

And so we found ourselves in a neighborhood hitherto unknown to either of us. We drove through lovely tree-lined streets with stately homes and others more modest but still quite nice. And we drove. And drove. We were lost, yet not really. Eventually we came back to the street we wanted, from the other side, and were back on track.

We had one of those unplanned mini-adventures and it was fun and interesting. Had I been the passenger instead of the driver, I would have been pleading for my buddy to stop so I could snap photos.

Because I always have my New Orleans street map in my briefcase and my briefcase with me, I don't worry about getting lost. Just don't ever put me in a strange city without a good map; my navigational anxiety can mount with lightning speed.

Even among these very nice homes - some of them mini-mansions, or not so mini - one could see the signs of damage and rebuilding. Nature is indifferent to our status in human society (though our status can ameliorate or exacerbate the consequences of nature's indifference).

It has been an emotionally difficult day (as the update below indicates) but it had a very nice surprise on the way home.
--the BB

Sunday, June 29, 2008

For the injured

My co-worker Sandi just called. Her husband Lewis was in an accident today and is about to be transferred to Tulane Med Center. His eye has been damaged and they will be doing surgery first thing tomorrow morning. There is a chance he may lose it.

Lots of prayers for Lewis and Sandi, please. Thanks.

Strengthen your servant Lewis, O God, to do what he has to do and bear what he has to bear; that, accepting your healing gifts through the skill of surgeons and nurses, he may be restored to usefulness in your world with a thankful heart; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
With him we hold all those whose lives this day have suddenly been altered through sickness or injury.

I learned this morning that they were not able to save his eye.  Prayers continue for them both as they go through a difficult adjustment.

--the BB

Making the world safer for ... heroin? - UPDATED

Pentagon Report Anticipates Rising Violence in Afghanistan
Washington Post - 23 hours ago
By Josh White Violence in Afghanistan will continue to rise this year, as Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters have proved resilient and aggressive foes against coalition forces, according to a new Pentagon report issued to Congress yesterday.
Attacks in Afghanistan grow in number, complexity, report says Baltimore Sun
US says Taliban attacks may rise this year Reuters

Experts warn that Afghan heroin may flood Southeast Asia
New Straits Times - 2 hours ago
Top Indian and Pakistani narcotic officials today warned Southeast Asian governments of increasing African drug dealers exploiting Asian women to smuggle heroin and that the trend would worsen as Afghanistan is enjoying a bumper harvest of opium.
UN: Opium Trade Soars in Afghanistan Washington Post
UN warns of rebel-held drug surge BBC News

Imagine where things might now stand in Afghanistan if most of the US energy and attention had not been diverted into Iraq. Not that we could successfully occupy Afghanistan. No foreign power has done that throughout history, nor should we even consider that as a goal. But we might have done some longer-term damage to the Taliban. We might have captured bin Laden. We might have done some social rebuilding there that would allow the people to make a decent living doing something other than the easy and highly lucrative cultivation of opium poppies. We might have even learned to use diplomacy to work with the sundry warlords who still rule most of the country.

Might have. Two very sad words.


Smintheus discusses the Congressionally-required Pentagon reports at Daily Kos:
The security report indicates that the situation is deteriorating so badly that the Pentagon expects the Taliban to continue to grow in strength (it has "coalesced into a resilient insurgency"); expand its strongholds in the south and east while moving into the north and west; and "maintain or even increase the scope and pace of its terrorist attacks and bombings in 2008" (IED attacks were up 35% in 2007). June has seen 40 coalition soldiers killed in Afghanistan, a new high since the invasion. Even though we have only 32,000 troops deployed there, US deaths in Afghanistan in May outnumbered those in Iraq. It's fair to say that things are falling apart.
I highly recommend clicking the link and reading the summary. Disheartening, of course, but we need to know these things.

--the BB